Warcraft Movie Review

My Background with Blizzard (feel free to skip to TLDR)

For this review, I should probably divulge a bit of my gaming background (which can help you understand if this review is at all biased). In my youth, I played a lot of real-time strategy (RTS) and turn-based games. Some of my favorites growing up were Panzer General, Final Fantasy Tactics, Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV (and basically anything by KOEI at the time, including the American Revolution-focused one) and even some old computer games like Seven Kingdoms (which I have yet to meet someone else who has played this fun game).

I actually didn’t play my first Blizzard game until well into my teens, but the company has stuck with me. I played Warcraft I, but I had some pretty extensive experience at the time with other RTS games and, quite frankly, I wasn’t that blown away by it. It was fine. It was fun, but I only played it through once before I went to other games. I didn’t play another Blizzard game until I had left high school and my first year of college. One of my friends introduced me to Diablo (which was amazing), and I retroactively played through Warcraft II, which was pretty good, and Warcraft III, which was amazing, and I started creating custom maps and various nerd levels of immersion. Starcraft followed, but for several years, I stopped playing any Blizzard games.

It was several years later that a friend told me about World of Warcraft, and I played that for a few years before leaving the world of Azeroth for ~4 years or so. I was burned pretty seriously by the real-money auction house (RMAH) nonsense in Diablo II back when it was very poorly led, and at the time, I vowed to not play another Blizzard North game. I have kept that vow with Diablo II, even though friends have told me that after the lead developer left, everything got much better. I came back a few years ago and have been raiding and raid leading in WoW pretty much ever since. However, I’m not a lore junky. I really play the games for the real-time strategy aspects of raid leading, rather than caring much for the story.

TLDR: I have played most of the Blizzard games and have a love-hate relationship with them. It’s more love than hate, and the hate is mostly a result of poor management of some of the franchises and a hatred for myself at allowing games to distract me so well from getting meaningful things done. I didn’t remember the plot to Warcraft, the original, as I really wasn’t that enthralled with it at the time, so I wasn’t invested in the characters or setting, really, before I went to the movie.

The Warcraft Movie


For anyone following Blizzard, you probably know that the Warcraft movie was something promised many years ago (2006) and it has essentially taken 10 years to get to the screen due to various production setbacks. After a while, it became a kind of joke–like Starcraft Ghost–that was oft repeated by the gaming masses. However, the movie is being released this weekend, and I got a chance to see a test screening yesterday.

Before I went, I took a look at the Rotten Tomatoes score, which has a current review of 20%–pretty atrocious. I read some of the critics reviews, and I read some of the viewer comments, and I prepared myself for the worst. I almost didn’t see this movie, but I decided to give it a chance.

I was not disappointed. The movie is great for any lover of fantasy and speculative fiction, and I’ll go into why by responding to some of the reviews.

What the critics are saying

I will start with one of the critics that I frequently roll my eyes to the most, Scott Mendelson. If you read through his review, you’ll see that he is heavily biased against video game franchises. He notes his bias towards these kinds of genres, citing Assassin’s Creed in the same breath as Gods of Egypt (which was not a video game property, as far as I’m aware).

To understand the critics’ spectrum, let’s take a look to someone who was using “Lord of the Rings” as a baseline instead of other video game properties. He flatly states in his review that ‘this is not “Lord of the Rings.” It’s barely “Dungeons & Dragons.”‘

This is essentially the main points of concern you will see repeated in critical reviews. It’s another video game movie. It’s trying to be Lord of the Rings but fails. Etc.

Why the critics are dumb

I only have a blog post to really address this, so let me just keep this short. Critics tend to favor movies that 1) glorify preserving nature (e.g., Avatar or basically any movie going against big corporations), 2) have a ridiculous, unforeseen plot that keeps them guessing or that challenges genre norms (this is hard for critics to find because they have experienced so many movies), 3) exposes something deeply human that moves the reviewer (generally needs to show deep emotional connections between people and other people or something insightful about the dangers of people and technology) or 4) have major respect for a director and assume a deep dive of the movie will provide deeper meaning.

Warcraft is not going to fit into any of these categories. 1) It shows a race of beings who destroy an entire world before the movie starts, and only a portion of them seem worried about the effects of this mysterious fel on the environment. It does not punish the Orc people for this wanton abuse of nature, and this offends more liberal sensibilities. If a movie does not rectify such behavior, it’s generally panned by critics. It’s just the truth about liberal critics. 2) It is mostly predictable. It even has a particular, kind-of-awkward love story that you have recently seen in a Hobbit movie–though with different races and I should note that the Hobbit story between an elf and a dwarf came roughly 2 decades after the same scene was basically done in the Warcraft game back in 1994. 3) The movie focuses on the response of humanity to an invading threat. There are people dying all around, and the mechanisms that had once brought safety to the world of Azeroth, are failing them (even the alliances between men, dwarves and elves.) There really isn’t much time to stop and develop close connections, and there were some editing decisions that limit the impact of the attempts at establishing a love story between the two worlds. This is very forgivable as the scope of the movie is sweeping and grand. 4) Duncan Jones has two previous movies under his belt–both with great Rotten Tomatoes scores–but most of the reviewers see this movie as a small blip against him. I think this bias started beforehand because Warcraft is a departure from the types of films Duncan worked on before this film, and critics tend to look unfavorably on that.

It seems like if a director does big budget but is true to what the critic liked about the earlier films, it’s forgivable, but if they make a big budget story that doesn’t try to satisfy the first 3 major critical appreciation categories, then the critical response tends to be very negative. The film still has merit, however, regardless of how the critics viewed the movie as failing in the first 3 categories.

Why you are going to like this movie


The characters and setting are a lot of fun. Medivh? You get how powerful the guy is without any real backstory. He will do things that are extraordinary. You’ll dislike him for certain things, but he is constantly redeeming himself in ways large and small.


The interactions between Anduin Lothar and anyone else. Anduin is essentially like Strider from Lord of the Rings but stronger as a character in basically every way. He’s not yet in power, but he has all the makings of it. He’s not self-doubting (which is one of the more annoying things about Strider in LotR). He makes good decisions you can understand. Honestly, I have always played Horde in these types of games because I think being a bad guy is more fun, but this performance makes me rethink that position.

Garona is a bit of a hit and a miss. I understand how hard this must have been to play, and it’s humorous how the portrayal was done. You will laugh at how blunt, practical, and honest orcs like the Frostwolves can be. It ends up being their bane, but the complexity of the Orcs is a radical departure from Lord of the Rings fare. Orcs in traditional fantasy were not caring, loving, or capable of reason. They were monsters and had a lust for killing humanity that was at points ludicrous and inexplicable. Here, in this story, you are going to understand why, and you are going to root for them and the humans at the same time. Durotan’s portrayal is pretty awesome, and his fight against Guldan is everything it should have been.

Guldan is as powerful as Medivh (if not moreso because of the lengths he will go for power) and his portrayal is both convincing and repulsive (as it needs to be). As someone who did not remember this plot at all (it’s been 2 decades since I played this game), this all played out well for me. I enjoyed the plot, the characters, the amazing powers, etc.

The CGI is some of the best that has been produced for a fantasy film. You are going to love how computer graphics bring these orcs to life. You will believe those are the real actor muscles. You will forget about the teeth being unnatural, and the griffon being a mythical creature who is not really moving so fluidly. The CGI is not overdone. It is immersive. It is used for good effect. The magic system will make sense without you needing it explained to you. It is used, the effects are obvious, and the toll it takes on characters like Medivh and who suffers when Guldan uses his magic are practical, obvious, and reliable.

In other words, the plot makes sense. The magic makes sense. The scale is epic. The love interest is perhaps a bit rushed (I believe editing might have had something to do with this), but the action and story are unique and interesting.

Bottom Line

I believe that if you are reading this blog, you are going to like this movie. It was very well made, both from a technical CGI perspective and from a plotting and character development perspective. It doesn’t have the opportunity to say something super important about humanity (at least, not the kind of lesson critics believe movies should have), but it does say something about humanity’s willingness to sacrifice and compromise for the greater good. It also presents Orcs in a way that is relatable and presents a good conflict in the viewer’s mind that justifies the Orcs being seen as both enemies and allies.

The Hound, A GoT Prediction


The Cersei / Tyrell plot keeps mercilessly going down its awful path. The houses are now basically split with Olenna’s dismissal of Cersei, and all of this against an enemy that is EASILY dispatched with the Tyrell army or the Lannister army. For no discernible reason, Margaery has denied her family’s army from freeing her, has stayed in a situation that she can obviously get out of (she literally could have signaled her grandmother to kill the overseer that was tasked to her), and has intentionally led Tommen into embracing this path. If the Faith are what they claim they are, they wouldn’t kill Loras over her betrayal, but whatever.

This is so out of character for Margaery that I’m just flabbergasted. Unlike Dorne, which is such a minor plot in the shows that it can be safely and mercifully ignored by the showrunners, the Lannister/Tyrell conundrum is such a central part of the kingdom (since it literally involved the King), we have to deal with this ridiculous plotline directly until Cersei and Jaime are dead. Again, who cares that the people loved Margaery right? The showrunners can forget about this, so I guess we can too? Sure. Why not?

The entire Lannister family (sans Tyrion) dying simply can’t happen fast enough at this point–not because they deserve it or they haven’t played the game well enough. No, I just can’t believe the Lannister storyline at this point. I can buy dragons and magic and undead and changing history from the future through nothing but a vision (i.e., Bran), but what I am having major trouble with here as a viewer is believing the city’s reaction to Margaery’s imprisonment, her ridiculous change in demeanor, etc. Even if you could buy that she is simply mimicking a rose (beautiful to look at it, but thorny to the touch), if you want to invest yourself fully into symbolism, a rose doesn’t kill you, and the Tyrells have killed many people, including Joffrey after he married Margaery. It simply punishes you for getting too close (e.g., touching the stem to pluck it by hand). The Tyrells are more capable than just annoying someone who touches them. This is so bizarre. Unfortunately, the Lannister plotline (i.e., the death of the main Lannisters) won’t happen until next season at the earliest. Cersei will watch the Zombie Mountain destroy someone in a trial-by-combat and it will be a hollow victory, really. I still think Cersei will die at the hands of Tyrion next season, but she has to watch her last child die first. I hope she kills the High Sparrow, but it may only happen after her son Tommen dies. And it will be a desperate last act (a final victory before accepting her own fate).


There is one Lannister-aligned plotline which anchored this episode: the return of the Hound. Ian McShane (who btw is one of my favorite actors) gave away all of this months ago, when he said he would be responsible for bringing an old character back to life. However, it played out very well on screen, including how I thought it would from having read A Feast for Crows (the fourth book), where we see what readers thought was the Hound digging a grave as he accompanied a band of priests. The Hound is going to destroy the entire raiding party that killed his new friends, and he is going to seek out frontier-style justice across the Riverlands. I think we’re all looking forward to him meeting up with the Starks. When Arya sees him for the first time, it’s going to be an amazing episode, I hope.

What do I expect to happen from the Hound? Well, I think the showrunners are going to probably disappoint me again, but I would love to see the Hound fight Zombie Mountain and they kill each other. Brother against undead brother. If I were to write the scene, Zombie Mountain will get on top of Sandor like he did to Oberyn, and he will start to blind the Hound. The Hound would scream in pain as blood starts to flow out of his destroyed orbs, but then the blinded Hound would manage to permanently kill The Mountain. He may burn him like his brother did to him (which seems to work well against the Undead in this show, though The Mountain is very different in resurrection style–a medically-induced resurrection in the show–than the White Walkers’ form of resurrection).

Will that happen? Probably not. We’ll probably just get a Hound that walks around the Riverlands doling out frontier justice for those who cannot do it themselves. Perhaps he will return to the nice man and his daughter that Arya and he visited before he stole from them and pay them back in some way. When he finds Arya, he will help her with her list. I feel like that would be the perfect opportunity for him to have good reason to fight his Zombie Brother. After all, The Mountain is on her list, and so is The Hound. By killing The Mountain and being himself killed in the process, he effectively helps her in her frontier-style vengeance. To me, it’s perfect. To the showrunners? Who knows what they’re thinking. I wipe my hands of it. I’m trying to lower my expectations so I have less disappointment.


The only real things to speculate on here are 1) Littlefinger and 2) Arya. Littlefinger is going to end up being the target of Sansa Stark’s letter at the end of the episode. She’s finally learned a lesson about the game, as I noted earlier she needed to understand. Her name didn’t mean crap to the North. Her role with the Lannisters and Boltons is more poison than catalyst, and she needs Littlefinger’s army. Finally, something that makes sense. I’ll give the showrunners an A++ for the turn around on that one. The second speculation is that Arya is going to survive and escape to the boat. She will not go after the Waif, who may believe Arya is dead for now, but Jaqen is unlikely to buy it. He will want her face, and until the Waif finds Arya’s body, it’s probably a task the Waif will have to continue with (finding Arya). That’s more likely to happen in Westeros the second time. At least that’s my prediction, and this time, Arya will have more friends around her or an environment that works to her advantage. I think she will use the Waif’s overconfidence again her, and drive Needle into the Waif’s heart.

Anyway, that’s my speculation. My record of prediction has been slightly off this season, but that’s what I’m predicting. What do you think?

Game of Thrones: Disappointment

There are now two plotlines that I am very disappointed in at this point: Dorne and Margaery/Tommen. And Daeny’s plotline? We’ll go over that in a bit.

dorne2-1940x1291I’m not going to go over the plotline for Dorne much. I think the rest of the internet has gone over the complete cluster that is the Dorne subplot including the meager exit of the Martells and the eradication of the family of Oberyn (I seriously still cannot believe the showrunners thought this was a good idea, given how well Doran played the game in the books and how a woman who loved Oberyn so much should never want to kill his entire family line, but whatever). This was a plotline that unfortunately could have used a better steward than the showrunners, in my opinion. The bad accents. The stupid lines. The pettiness. Ugh.

got-margaery-arrestedAnyway, Margaery and Tommen. What a complete let down! Yeah, some of my angst about this plotline may be due to the fact that I had envisioned this sweeping gesture by the Tyrells (way before Cersei requested the gesture) resulting in the sad death of a strong Margaery and the ruining of Tommen and subsequently Cersei (you can read my poor prediction here). But don’t I have the right to feel a little let down here? How did you feel about the way this developed?

Margaery was one of the strongest female characters playing the game, and even if the showrunners would argue that she is still playing the game with the High Sparrow, I think they’ve completely missed the mark and made her into a much weaker character for no reason. Think about the history of the character. She and her family had put her into a queen position with Renly, then Joffrey, and now Tommen. Do you understand how ridiculously well the Tyrells had played the game to get her in all three of those positions? And she seemed to understand her position throughout–it wasn’t like she was the unwitting pawn of her grandmother.  Three separate candidates for Queendom, and an absolutely sharp intellect that was perfectly adept at playing the game. She played Joffrey’s personality against him to make him love her more. She played Tommen’s ignorance into complete devotion.

And what about her manipulation of the people? Do you remember how much she had played the population into not only loving her but also got them to even cheer Joffrey just by association with her? She played the population and made them love her, and yet not one person in the crowd of King’s Landing begged for her release? Not one riot? Not one whimper of protest? What kind of writing was it to even hint that the population could become so godstruck by this resurgence of religion that they would forget their allegiance to her? Does religion ever spread so quickly as it did in this season that entire populations forget everything they love and replace it with religion in a span of weeks?

There was NO sign that religion was this widely regarded by the people in King’s Landing up to this point. Look at the Battle on the Blackwater.


When shit hit the fan and people lost hope, what did the people do? Did they all start praying? No, they looked for a person to step up. This turned out to be Tyrion but earlier, the soldiers and people had hoped it would be Joffrey. There were not mass shouts of “Please, Stranger, help us” or anything like that. This has felt absurd.

When her family’s army arrives at the steps in Episode 6, and she sees them, a strong character would have played this. She would have ordered the charge. Can you imagine how strong this would have played with her family? Even if she were to die, she would have been a martyr that the people SHOULD (given how they pined for her before her imprisonment) have gotten behind to overthrow the entire sect of religious nutjobs. The Tyrells could have just watched it unfold, maybe without Margaery, but even stronger than before because the people would have been completely behind them.

Margaery has to know that this religion is not the pillar of the throne. Even playing them and making them even stronger than Cersei did by accident is not going to make her safer or her rule more solidified. Her husband also knows this as one of the few pieces of advice that his grandfather Tywin gave him was that faith cannot be the basis of the throne. I mean watch this video and understand just how much Tywin would be rolling over in his grave about this development. Baelor the Blessed was a laughing stock of the kingdom and for a good reason. This religion is neither well-financed nor well-armed. What could they possibly do against a mounted cavalry? Nothing. They’re more likely to cause a stampede and get everyone around them killed than they are to do anything worth doing.

What the absolute hell is going on with the writing this season? Cersei is arrogant and overconfident, but she was never this stupid. Jaime’s defrocking as Kingsguard? His reaction to this was pretty much the only part of this episode that was in character for the Lannisters. And next week, we’re just going to have Jaime allowing the Blackfish at Riverrun to go, as he did in the books? That was probably the weakest Lannister moment in the book, and it showed how a major wedge had come between Cersei and Jaime, that he wouldn’t even come to save her because of how she had alienated him and overplayed her spite hand before her atonement. Now? Now, the action’s at her suggestion.

And Daeny? The vision of her burning the Khals alive was well done. I think everyone can agree with that.  The scene of her riding a dragon and giving an unnecessary speech that in no way drives the plot forward? I saw the after episode wrap up with the showrunners, and I get that they like this cyclical connection with Khal’s speech for Daeny. But everyone was bowing to her after she burned the Khals. Everyone was onboard. Theatricality is fine. Why not?! But this dragon scene literally has no purpose. What are the horsemen going to do? Build her 1,000 ships? I mean, maybe they think that mentioning this sets up the connection to the coming Greyjoy fleet and the marriage proposal. Maybe this would all work. But Daeny’s storyline, despite the dragons, feels a bit weaker than Sansa or Margaery’s up-to-this-point.

Sure, Daeny has overcome adversity, but she has not done it with her intellect. She has done it with her dragons and by letting people underestimate her. Think about it. When it comes to ruling people, she has never been very good at this, and she is not learning new things. She lost her husband and the first dothraki horde because of her overreliance on her poor judgement of character. She lost her dragons and got them back because of other people not quite understanding the “I control fire-breathing dragons” thing. She burned the slave masters with similar misogyny and men underestimating her. She burned the khals with similar misogyny and men underestimating her. She almost died due to not taking the Harpies seriously enough, and a dragon saved her. She didn’t do it. She has simply been a stock “saved-by-prophecy” character apparently constructed with boobs and white/blonde hair.

Does this not feel like lazy storywriting to you? I mean, don’t get me wrong. Maybe this series is exactly what Ian McShane joked that it was: “tits and dragons.” I can love a series like that. I’ve loved worse concepts. But there are only so many times that you should succeed because people underestimated you. You keep winning, and people should definitely stop underestimating you. You have three fire-breathing dragons bigger than any other creatures in Westeros, and no one, and I mean no one, should be underestimating you. We should be far beyond the point that Daeny is underestimated. If Daeny blazes across Westeros simply because men underestimate her, I’m going to get physically sick watching how this plays out. Maybe she’ll just be the incapable ruler with the infinite power of three dragons at her call. Maybe that’s the point of the character arc: that sometimes you are just born with so much power and righteous direction that you can bumble your way through almost anything and still win.

Contrast this story to Sansa or Margaery or even Arya. Adversity has been heaped on them, and they have used wits and some luck to get themselves into better positions. Granted, Margaery’s position seems undermined now, and Sansa is going to feel some repercussions for her time with the Lannisters during her visit to the Northern families in the next episode. But Sansa is still the strongest female position right now, in terms of strength of character. Daeny does not grow as a person, she relies on others to fix her problems and get her out of trouble. She’s a damsel in distress with dragons. Does that not sound ridiculous?

Arya? She has sliced her way through the world to avenge her family. She’s even drawn the wrath of a God’s followers, and I think she’s going to kill the Waif soon, despite the Waif being so much better than her at everything, really. Arya, if the writers are doing their job, is going to be almost killed but she is going to use the Waif’s confidence against her, and Needle will come as a surprise. Please, please, please, at least get that right. Please let the face that goes on the wall (the one Jaqen promised must happen) be the Waif’s.

Sansa? Raped. Beaten. Humiliated by Ramsay and Joffrey and countless others. Used and abused but not broken. Maybe even a bit stronger with each action. Growing. Becoming a player of the game despite the people around her. Finally in a position of power to see her justice come to pass. I think she’s going to survive the Game of Thrones, unless she makes more decisions like she did with Petyr and the rejection of an entire army. This certainly shows problems in her growth.

Margaery? She’s going to fall now, and it’s going to be sad. Not because the showrunners are going to kill a strong character that I’ve grown to like but because her downfall will now not be of a martyr but of a character that I just don’t like the plot of. That I don’t believe the people’s reaction to her incarceration or the rest of these events. The whole series requires a suspension of disbelief, and I’m willing to do that, but the interaction of people still has to make sense. And I don’t feel this story is making much sense right now.

Predictions are light in this post as I feel like the showrunners are relying on randomness more than useful foreshadowing at this point. Part of the reason for that is because Martin gave them so much foreshadowing in the books, and now they are obviously winging it. I’m sure I’ll watch this series to the end, but man, I’m certainly not as happy with the way this episode played out as I was with Hodor’s finale.

Post episode 5 Game of Thrones catch up

hodor-gra-o-tron-2Watching episode 5 (The Door) was a slightly agonizing: not because the episode was bad (it was actually quite good) but because some of my previous predictions (or at least the details of some of the predictions and not the outcomes) seemed to come off the rails a bit. Arya’s choice may be tied to a common actress rather than Jon (I updated my Arya prediction with this sidestep), although I would argue the actor troop’s portrayal of Arya’s family members Ned, Sansa and even Tyrion’s demeanor may have set her off on a path to correct public perception of people she still loves (regardless of whether she is trying to pretend she is not Arya Stark anymore).

I appear to be wrong about at least one other predictions details (possibly not the result) about Margaery. Was the secret of the High Sparrow about Margaery’s atonement or about Tyrell’s involvement in the assassination of King Joffrey? The next week trailer seems to show that it is the former, but I am still holding out that the really damning secret is still about the assassination. I’m leaning towards being probably wrong about this prediction now though because of the preview appearing to show an almost Atonement for Margaery directly before the troops come in (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ePO5JXVULM).

And Sansa Stark’s story? I unfortunately predicted that Sansa would be a bit irrational about Petyr when she saw him again, but I didn’t expect her to sever ties with him (though hopefully briefly, since Petyr is a good companion to have until Daenerys arrives in Westeros). She wants Winterfell, but she turns down what fans estimate is an army of 30k+, more than 10x the number she currently has through Jon, because she blames Petyr Baelish for Ramsey’s torture. The Knights of the Vale could have single-handedly ruined Ramsay’s force, but now she is forcing Jon to exclusively recruit from the other families in the North instead. Anyone who has played and been played by the game for this long should understand that you don’t look a gift horse like this in the mouth. He should have been forgiven for this play of his with Ramsay, no matter how irredeemable Littlefinger’s ambition might be as an objective thing, the game itself is only won through alliances. This emotional, instinctual repulsion of Petyr is typically rewarded in GoT with getting people you like killed. Then there is Sansa sending Brienne away, one of the only pure people that can and will protect her, and opening herself up to trouble. Why? Because she’s with Jon, a person she doesn’t trust enough to tell about her meeting with Petyr? I think Petyr will come to her aid anyway with his armies, but maybe not. Maybe his ambition takes him elsewhere for a bit. I worry Sansa is playing the game less wisely than she could be, and Jon will have a much tougher time at Winterfell because of it.

The new Fire priestess Kinvarra that talked with Tyrion and Varys? She’ll help fill in the power structure of Daenerys and probably provide more backstory about the gift of fire through the Dragons and maybe even the relationship it holds in fighting the White Walkers. However, I have a feeling Daenerys is going to come back and have immediate anger and mistrust issues with both the fire priestess and Varys, whom she still believes tried to spy on her and poison her as an enemy. Perhaps her recent emotional scene with Jora Mormont is enough to open herself to forgiving someone like Varys more easily. I expect she will forgive Varys, possibly after Tyrion vouches for him. I think she’s going to be less forgiving of Tyrion’s approach with the masters, and perhaps that will cause another Sons of the Harpy revolt which is likely to kill someone important (let’s hope not Greyworm or Missandei, but this may be the season for killing off the help, as seen with Hodor–though we know from the producers that Hodor’s fate was directly told to them by Martin).

Arya the Faceless Dropout, A GoT prediction

arya-pulls-needle-out-of-the-rock-official-hbo-810x539I just realized I haven’t really touched on the Arya story. I think Arya’s story is going to take a major turn in the next two episodes (starting with episode 6, as she faces a choice in the summary), and if you’ve been a bit bored with her Braavos storyline, expect her to head toward Westeros very soon (within 4 episodes, I think).

In short, I think she is going to be given a mission in Westeros, but the target is probably going to be someone who will divert her from the “no one” path and resume her identity as Arya Stark. I think the most appropriate target assigned to her will be Jon Snow because he has escaped “Death”, also known as the Stranger and the Many-Faced God by the Faceless Men. I think it would make sense for Jaqen to assign such a target to: 1) prove Arya is no longer Arya and 2) get vengeance for the death that was stolen from the Many-Faced God. I expect her to retrieve Needle from its nook in the wall and to come to Jon’s aid at Winterfell.

I would love to say she’ll kill Ramsay, but an assassination of Ramsay seems so cheap. I think he’ll have a more public death, almost certainly at the Battle of Winterfell. However, if he manages to escape Winterfell and hide with the Freys, for example, then this would be where Arya would come into the picture.

ARYA UPDATE: After seeing episode 5, the series creators have thrown unpredictability into the mix about why she will leave the Faceless Men. It seems just a reminder of her past and how the public viewed her father and sister may be enough to cast shade on her anonymous ambitions. Ultimately, it’s the people remaining on her list and her bonds to her family that will break her from this employment. What’s really ominous about episode 5 though, was Jaqen’s statement that “one way or another, a face will be added to the hall.” The organization is spread across the world, from what I understand, so she can’t just kill the Waif and Jaqen to get out of these obligations. They need to either allow her to peacefully exit or no matter what she does, they will eventually collect her face. Where is this going to go? I hope she is useful to the Stark plotline, but sometimes, the showrunners feel that a random death is useful to their storytelling. If the series allows her to escape Braavos, she could have a really interesting series of scenes in Westeros where she kills lots of people (similar to how Jaqen helped her escape from Tywin’s camp). However, given what the series creators did with Hodor, I feel they are just as likely to kill her cheaply to advance the inescapability of fanatics in GoT. END ARYA UPDATE

Cersei vs Tyrell, another GoT prediction

Game-Of-Thrones-Cersei-JaimeIn the recent episode of Game of Thrones, something weird happened. No, not Daenerys killing the Khals and everyone else in the command hut. No, not Theon backing his sister instead of his own claim. No, not Brienne all but threatening Melissandre and Davos. No, not Ramsey killing the wildling girl. No, not Jon Snow and Sansa Stark finally reuniting the Stark clan members for the first time in years. All of those were to be expected.

What was really strange was the behavior of Loras and the confession of Tommen about something that the High Sparrow told him. To me, there’s an impending chaos here that was hinted at and that I have predicted previously. The most obvious connection is that Cersei and Jaime managed to convince Lady Olenna Tyrell and Kevan Lannister to go along with their plan to bring in Tyrell troops to break Queen Margaery Tyrell out of the clink before her own supposed walk of atonement. If you think that the secret that the High Sparrow told Tommen is about Margaery’s atonement, there is literally nothing pointing to that being the case.

First, remember the circumstances around Cersei’s atonement. She confessed. She broke down to see her child. The atonement came only after her confession. Margaery, on the other hand, had absolutely no interest in bowing to the High Sparrow. Her reaction to Loras’s complete breakdown was a show of strength, to try to lift him up, but his reaction to that was more of a man who had been pushed over a threshold. To him, the damage had already been done. He had already fallen. He was irredeemable.

What could Loras possibly have done to push himself over a point of no return? What had he revealed to the High Sparrow, who had passed on the information to King Tommen.

It is my belief, and it seems others have posted about this online as well, that Loras spilled a dark secret about the Tyrells, one that the High Sparrow felt would help Tommen with healing and understanding why the Tyrells must stay imprisoned. What secret could that be? Well, Lady Olenna had worked with Petyr Baelish to murder Joffrey. You forgot about that? So did most of the other viewers, I think, and that makes sense. After all, every viewer was as happy about Joffrey dying as they are going to be about Ramsey dying after his clash with Jon Snow. For a TV viewer, Joffrey’s death was over and done with and not soon enough. Justice had been done. Except, Cersei would never see Joffrey’s death as justified. She did not relish in his death.Her children are sacrosanct, no matter how awful they might be. When she finds out who killed her boy, revenge will occupy her entire mind until it is done.

So, it is my belief that the High Sparrow told Tommen that as part of his ongoing confession, Loras had admitted that the death of Joffrey was at the hand of his grandmother Olenna and not Sansa Stark or Tyrion Lannister. I am unsure of whether or not Littlefinger will have been implicated by Loras. It depends on how loose Olenna’s tongue was with her family. However, Cersei is about to get her revenge. Here is how I expect it to go down.

The Fall of the Tyrells

The Tyrell troops will enter the city and put the Sparrows to the sword. I still think Margaery will die, and I have a feeling that Lady Olenna will die at the hands of Zombie Mountain, while Cersei watches. I can’t imagine Cersei letting Lady Olenna die in some more dignified way. Margaery, as I’ve said before, is likely to die in the oncoming melee. Whether it is Zombie Mountain or the Sparrows, the effect on Olenna Tyrell will be devastating, as Cersei expects, but I don’t think she quite understands the effect it will have on Tommen.

The New Impotence of the Lannisters

Cersei has no foresight and believes she is a lion that can stand alone against the rest of the kingdom. The loss of the Tyrells is going to hit the Lannisters much harder than Cersei realizes. House Lannister no longer has its gold mines and is in major debt. Her father struck the deal with the Tyrells out of necessity, and with the Tyrell bond forever severed, House Lannister will lose all of its monetary and troop support from the Tyrells. Cersei will almost certainly lose Tommen (due to Margaery’s likely death), and I still think it’s going to be by his own hand after he finds out about Margaery. Loras will die a miserable death.


Ramsay is going to be sandwiched in between the armies of Jon Snow, the Umbers, and Littlefinger’s army from the Vale. Other men will join Jon Snow once they hear of a Stark marching on Winterfell. But Ramsay is likely to take out several main characters, and not just the wildling girl Osha whom he killed in “Book of the Stranger.” Whether Rickon lives or dies is completely up to the producers. I don’t feel he has any major part, and killing him may just serve as additional reminders that Ramsay must go (not that any viewer doubts it at this point). Ramsay must be dealt with before Jon can deal with the White Walkers. He is almost certainly going to die during the Battle of Winterfell in Episode 9.


Petyr Baelish is probably going to have an inglorious death. It’s unlikely to be Varys’s doing (certainly not directly). Littlefinger is playing too dangerous a game and is far too obvious in his ploys now. He is above his station, and his most obvious weakness would be if Robin Arryn suddenly reverses in his reverence to Littlefinger. Petyr no longer has his main sources of income from brothels in King’s Landing due to the Sparrows, and he is over-reliant on his power from the Vale. Sansa is going to be wroth with him, and Brienne is likely to speak poorly of him. He’ll overplay his hand soon, and he will probably die a commoner’s death (e.g., being tossed through the moon door in the Vale).


Well, that’s enough speculative predictions for now!


Azor Ahai, a Game of Thrones Prediction


It’s been several months since I did a Game of Thrones post, and we’re two episodes into the new season. I’ve been pretty close in my predictions and tonight, we got the big reveal–the lynch pin of my predictions so far–that Melissandre resurrects Jon Snow.

Old predictions

So, what’s left in my predictions? Well, Ramsay still needs to attack the Night’s Watch, and that was setup perfectly in the episode with Ramsay offing his dad, his potential sibling, and his stepmother. This will setup poorly for Ramsay with the Freys as Ramsay’s stepmother was one of Walder’s granddaughters. Ramsay has no idea that an entire Wildling army will now be answering to Jon Snow. This will get bad for Ramsay very quickly.

As I suspected, Brienne and Sansa have joined forces in the first episode, and she is on her way to meet with the Azor Ahai as well. Theon is heading back to his islands and may actually join them in time for the King’s Moot (something he was unable to do in the books). This was unexpected. I honestly am unsure where Theon’s story might be going.

New predictions

Jon Snow is going to take some time to realize his new powers. I’m pretty sure he’s destined to ride one of the three dragons, and my guess is Drogon, the largest one. He’s going to command the Wildling army and eventually the army of man that stands between the white walkers and the rest of the world.

The Mountain is going to kill a lot of people. He may be unstoppable. We’re not sure of his full powers and the type of magic that binds him to a master. However, he may not stop until the maester and at least Cersei are dead. He’s a freaking super zombie.

Cersei, Jaime, and Tommen will finally form a strong team again, and the High Sparrow will die within a few episodes. It is likely that a large army will be mobilized within the capitol, and it is very possible that the Queen Margaery will die in the melee (possibly killed by the High Sparrow or the Lannister cousin). I’m guessing Tommen will kill himself over this, and Cersei will be depressed. The valonqar (little brother) from Cersei’s prophecy is likely to be Tyrion who kills her, instead of Tommen (who is also the little brother and sole survivor of Cersei’s three children). The only way Tommen would be the volanqar is if the maester raises him from the dead, like The Mountain, and he kills Cersei immediately. My money is on Tyrion. He will arrive with Daenerys, they will find Cersei beside herself in depression, and he will end her.

What will happen to Jaime? My guess is an ignoble death, likely a sword through his back and probably from a very minor character. Brienne will be visibly shaken by the news, and it will worsen Cersei’s depression. She will be alone with no other Lannisters to support her. She will wither and await the valonqar.

What about the dragons? Now that Tyrion has set them free, my guess is that they will search out Daenerys before she is forced to sad widow island and kill a bunch of Dothraki who are trying to force her to obey their ancient customs. The Dothraki army will join her. Lots of people are going to join her once they see the three dragons as grown adults.

Ramsay will likely die at the hands of Jon Snow, after Sansa tells him what Ramsay did to her after their marriage. Brandon Stark will join Jon Snow before the battle with the White Walkers. Brienne? She’s a wild card. She could kill Ramsay at the order of Jon Snow.

The Grey Joys are going to end up being led by Theon and his sister Asha. Asha is going to kill their uncle Victarion after he wins the King’s Moot to succeed his brother, whom he killed. Theon may play some part in their uncle’s death. It was going to be highly unlikely such a thing could have happened in the books, but by putting Theon enroute to the Iron Islands, this seems to be the setup for the HBO series.

Obviously, this is all just speculation. That’s part of the fun of predicting the future in a series sort of designed to be less predictable. What do you think is going to happen? Feel free to comment!

The Witch Movie Review


The Witch is a new, low budget suspense/drama that has many unique elements going in its favor. It is a period piece that is apparently historically accurate in clothing, dialogue/accents and feel. The cinematography is unique and beautiful. What it is not is a horror film, and that has resulted in a very torn critic to audience score on review aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes, since the movie is being pitched as a horror film, which I would argue it is not.

There are genuinely creepy elements, but some of those scenes, which should set the tone for the audience, missed their mark. My wife, for instance, did not quite understand the implications of the abduction scene and what followed. I’m not going to spoil the scene or the movie, but I had read something about the scene before I saw the movie (in fact, the review I had read about the scene is a key reason why I was intrigued), and so I believe I understood the visual implications because I was prepared for them. However, I can understand why an audience member might completely miss the significance and the impact of the scene.

There were other scenes like Caleb’s return that were just bizarre. Not really creepy, not really powerful or impactful, just bizarre. The twins could have been extremely creepy but the ramifications for their behavior did not really reach a climax, in fact they sort of disappeared from the movie. There were audience members who were genuinely disappointed as some of the scenes unfolded in our theater and they were vocal about their feelings (especially the last ten minutes). More than one person sighed audibly or even muttered an expletive around me (the film is mostly silent so audience mutterings were more legible than some of the movie).

The ending was a bit unfortunate, honestly. I think it marred the overall impact the movie might have had with me. There is so much potential with this context, and the slow-build of the movie should have had a payoff that either pushed the story into horror or really tugged at the heartstrings of the audience with the plight of the protagonist, but it simply did neither. It went into fairy tale land and unapologetically so, according to the closing credits.

So, here I am trying to sum up a recommendation on the film. My wife probably put it best to me, “it was ok.” I think I would add to that sentiment the statement “I don’t think I will ever watch it again.” My overall impression of the movie is that the director loved the source material and I enjoyed the slow build of the movie. My main problem with the movie is that the payoff was underwhelming, that I had less attachment to the main characters than I wanted to, and consequently, the results of the movie were less powerful than they should have been. If you need a star count, I would say 3 out of 5. It was better than most films, and as a history buff, I found much of the movie interesting and thought-provoking. As a movie goer and story enthusiast, I was less happy with the product of the overall storytelling, especially the ending. I think if it had ended almost any other reasonable way, I would have enjoyed the story much more (and I don’t mean what happened to the parents, I mean what happened to the main character).

New fanfiction available


Alan Tudyk (Firefly/Serenity, 28 days, A Knight’s Tale, Death at a Funeral) has offered to read the winning story for the Con Man contest on Inkitt. If you’re unfamiliar with Alan, he’s an actor who usually plays an eccentric character in whatever movie is graced with his presence.

In Death at a Funeral, he played a nervous suitor of one of the protagonists who takes the wrong drugs before meeting her parents, and he ends up stripping naked at a funeral. In 28 days, he plays a humorous homosexual drug addict who has one of my favorite lines in cinema “Oh my God! Look at my package!” In a Knight’s Tale, he plays a man of few words, but of which most of those words hilariously threaten Geoffrey Chaucer. In Firely, one of my favorite TV series of all time, he plays pilot Hoban Washburne, a brilliant character who comes to a very untimely death in the movie Serenity.

For those familiar with Firely, you know that the series was poorly pitched by Fox and doomed to failure, despite the fact that it should have been a surefire winner. His new series Conman appears to be a parody of his life and those of the cast after finding fame in the ComicCon circuits. Anyway, as a promotion for the series, he has agreed to voice a short story for Firefly or Conman, and I really couldn’t pass up taking a shot at some Firefly fanfiction. You can read my entry here:

Serenity: The Dream that Never Was

If you like it, please vote for it. Regardless, definitely check out more of Alan Tudyk’s performances. Whichever author ends up winning this competition, you can rest assured that the reading of the winning story will be a lot of fun.

Deadpool Movie Review

efj6me5So, a friend of mine managed to snag a bunch of tickets for an advanced screening of Deadpool in Pittsburgh yesterday, and I thought I would share my perspective on the movie.

First, I have never read the Deadpool comics. I have seen several humorous Deadpool cosplayers on the internet. I have watched the X Men Origins: Wolverine debut of the character, and so I was very misled about who or what Deadpool actually was in the comics. I think I’m the main target audience for this movie, as far as demographics go. I’m a man, under 40, who likes superhero movies, action, nudity, magic, science, cursing, gratuitous revenge killing, and tight outfits. I also don’t mind someone breaking the fourth wall at all, and that’s a really good thing, because Deadpool is going to be all-up-in-your-grill, if you know what I mean.

So, that disclaimer out of the way, as someone who has never read a Deadpool comic and has absolutely zero invested in the character or his interactions in the Marvel universe, I absolutely loved the movie. So did everyone in the theater. I’m pretty sure that people outside of the theater loved the movie, simply because everyone who left the theater was in such a great mood as they interacted with their community. Okay, that’s probably taking things a little too far. But that is exactly what Deadpool is.

Ryan Reynolds, as you probably guessed from his twitter account, is perfect for this character. The interaction he has with Morena Baccarin is hilarious. The interaction he has with unicorns is both disturbing and hilarious. Miniature hands? Yeah. Disturbing and hilarious. Francis? Let me spell it out for you: h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s (you’ll get this when you see the movie).

What you can expect from the movie:

  1. Insults
  2. A hilarious Marvel cameo
  3. General hilarity and slapstick
  4. Violence
  5. Nudity
  6. Fourth wall breaking
  7. Disturbing things done to unicorns
  8. Ridiculously funny credit scenes (intro and outro)
  9. A satisfying story
  10. Action
  11. An elevated level of sarcastic wit when you leave the theater

Overall: 5 stars. I went to the movie expecting something specific, and it delivered exactly what I was expecting and more. Hilarious.

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