Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Walking Dead S7x1 Day Will Come When You Won't Be

The Day Will Come When You Won't Be recap
The Walking Dead's season six ended not with a bang but a few whacks by Lucille. We finally pick up from The Last Day On Earth. There's nothing left to wait or lose. You've been warned : this post contains spoilers.

At the time of the recent finale airing, questions overwhelmed the summer break: how was the show going to conceal the victim's identity? could the cliffhanger of Negan's batty kill be successful?

Well, it did and it didn't. Five months off gave fans ample time to speculate the hell out of every hint. And it's not like AMC was hiding much either: Actors instagramming other projects at the time of filming. Greg Nicotero, Michael Cudlitz, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan criticized fans over spoilers but then spilled the beans themselves. Twenty-four hours before the season started, even Fox International showed footage of the second episode.

With the network always promoting Negan and who might die, and so much churning the rumor mill, our curiosity literally beat the second arrival with a dead horse. Trying to regroup, producers and creators promised "rewards" by the way of not only revealing Lucille's victims but that it would contain hyper violence.

By the time Day Will Come When You Won't Be strolled in, the hung-over reputation of The Last Day On Earth became comfortable but also cringe-worthy.

If the finale was a traffic route where every decision led to a worse back-alley, the second half halted us in our tracks to strip away the last pent-up hopes for an exit strategy. Relentless hype didn't overshadow Negan's overexposed power play, but it didn't seem to know if the best route was to be straight-forward or in artsy chunks.

To start, it took a good half hour of repetitively teasing us with what we'd been overexposed to all summer long; glimpses of who could die and how horrible it would be to lose him/her/them.

We physically returned to the group kneeling after someone/people were Lucille'd. Despite the then unknown details of who was killed, Rick refused to obey and be made an example of. So to knock his point out of the park, Negan dragged him to the RV for an emasculating trip of mind-games.

In the midst of a foggy road, Negan threw Rick's old ax out into a sea of hungry walkers, and like a dog, he was forced to go fetch. Similar to the lagging quarry escape plan last season which flipflopped between locations and characters every week, Rick's internal debate to fight or surrender squeezed every last bit of this fan's patience.

As he physically thwarted the zombies, the struggle was just as strong mentally. Melancholic memories of his family played. But the show-reel wasn't deeper than the ads AMC promoted by procrastinating who died with who might've been slain. Rick versus the walkers expressed his own purgatory (shadowed bodies grabbing him from all directions to echo all the people who's died under his command), and Andrew's great acting, but the scene itself wasn't engaging.

We wanted the torture to be over, and were we in for a whopper of a reveal. The Lucille scenes were probably more graphic than most could imagine. While Rick's game of walker tag didn't excite, sitting in the iconic line-up was purely claustrophobic. Kneeling like our beloved Team Family, all we could do was witness the slaughter and realize no one was coming to save them.

Abraham was the initial pick. If you didn't know from the spoilers, or picked up on the ginger's body language, Abe wasn't going to follow orders. Of all of Negan's relentless rhymes, only one could fit 'taking it like a champ'. Like a loyal soldier, he flashed Sasha with their peace sign when he was chosen, refused to go down after the first blow, and uttered one more colorful phrase.

The scene itself felt tacked on for what was to come, even though both took the same amount of time. Watching Negan hack Abe was numbing, but the emotional impact was lesser so. Unlike other deaths, no matter how bloody and grim they were, this felt downright unapologetic - as if the more gore packed in would make up for the highly debated cliffhanger.

The sole consolation of Abe's death was how he went out with valor and not standing down. It wasn't just that he didn't crumble under Negan's bullying, it was his journey of self-realization since last season.

Despite being a leader to his pack of Eugene and Rosita, he became a loyal supporter of Rick pretty steadily. His adrenaline rush to knock off walkers transformed into establishing a family. Though he and Rosita never reconciled with his abrupt break-up, his interest with Sasha had potential to be long-lasting. He came to terms with Eugene leveling up as a survivor. Except for his dreams of the future, every loose thread was knotted.

Self-awareness is a beautiful thing, but in fiction, it's also a calling card. If I'm being honest, his arc predicted his demise early. Abraham's death was ruthless but expected, if not accepted in advance. Though Abe and Michael were appreciated pals, there wasn't much room for surprise or denial that this was his end.

After Abe was beaten to a pulp, Negan taunted Rosita to look at the carnage using Lucille as obvious phallic symbolism. To unleash his anger Daryl threw himself at Negan (even though they just witnessed him beating a friend to death and Negan's army were all armed). But with that, the one freebie for rebellion Negan allowed was mute.

What obliterated the episode into shards of feels was the practical replication of Glenn's comic book fate. The obvious set-up with the camera angling wide to show Glenn resting behind Negan predicted what couldn't be stopped. One swift twirl and whack. Our beloved pizza boy was clobbered.

But it just wasn't one whack. The decimation of our irreplaceable underdog played to the utmost effect, almost caricaturing the plight into torture porn - blood, brains, scullcap hanging off the barbed-wire bat, eyeball dangling and popping out, choked last words uttered, a rinse and repeat of everyone's horrified responses.

*sigh* In the midst of waiting for this moment to come true, muddling muddling through Abe's no-lesser-violent goodbye, and preparing a farewell weeks before, it's not easier to believe that Glenn is gone. Watching such goodness massacred was completely draining. We somehow transitioned from seven years of this amazing character to not having him around (alive) anymore.

As fitting as the comic book aligned with the show and engaged in this wish fulfillment, and as great the cast is, it didn't lessen the feeling that his death felt like a rug getting ripped out from under fans. As much consolation there is of Yeun honoring his love of the graphic novels and his character's fate, a part of me feels like Glenn deserved better; not to suffer the magical dumpster fake-out; to have everlasting happiness; not to die for Maggie to rise to the Hilltop Colony because he and her were equals to each other on all levels. Glenn getting Lucille'd didn't have to change but a send-off to the tune of Tyrese's poetic in 'What's Happening and What's Going On would've felt less cold.

Except to hold onto his other half which always gave him strength, the lack of closure of his fate didn't reflect what we always loved about him....If Glenn stood for anything it was to believe in something and to hope no matter what. To the point that, as Yeun's wife put it, he died still not thinking about himself.

Not surprisingly the carnage wasn't over until the next morning, but the day ahead still felt dark. Exhaustion set in, but Rick remained defiant. So his buttons were pushed until they finally popped up until Negan forced him to almost amputate Carl's arm. These threats finally grounded our sheriff into docility, but did nothing to feel like the final blow to his pride had depth to it. Negan was then, for now on, in charge.

At least, that's how it seemed. With a laid-back smile and flit of his hands, Negan sent his troops away, dirt ruffled under their feet as they left our group in the literal dust. I love Rick more than anything, but truth be told, the women were worth rallying behind.

Essentially, Maggie is who we'll tether to after losing Glenn. Even after Rick acquiesced to Negan, I still didn't think he had fully surrendered. When she stood up and demand they go to war, for him to go home and get Alexandria ready, it was like a force of nature exploding in grief, anger, and determination.

“By the time we see that happen, there’s such a fucking fire burning so strong in her belly.”

What happens now and how we come back is all for honoring Glenn and Abraham. She has to get to the Hilltop Colony, and become an even bigger leader than the duo already was in order to more forward.

Was Maggie's pain eased or deepened because her family was with her? It's hard to tell. She felt guilty they were out there 'because of her', but it wasn't her fault. To many Daryl is an easy target for blame, but no definitive point of evidence or going back in time to change actions can undo the massacre. Negan was going to liquidate his enemies no matter what, and Daryl is going to take this with him for the rest of his life. It only pains me to think she's dealing with Glenn's death will shoulder Abe's too.

If Maggie's brittle solidarity wasn't a glimmer of hope, the exchange between Rosita and Sasha culminated every unspoken scene they hadn't had before post Abe/Rosita break-up. Unfortunately Abe's death served as our saving grace from any possible superficial love triangle so the women could meet in the middle. Like Maggie, Sasha has lost everyone but mustered her strength and vowed to reach the Hilltop Colony to honor her boyfriend's mission. She also approached Rosita to take Abraham to be buried. Their one exchange shared so many unexpressed emotions between them: forgiveness, understanding, acceptance. Together, lets put the fallen to rest.
We bury the ones we love, we don't burn them. - Glenn, season 1

Unlike the existential title conjuring up heartbreak of losing characters, The Day Will Come When You Won't Be had potential to be a heavy hitter but was fouled up with abstract narrative and messy planning. Acting wise, the cast is always stunning. But Greg Nicotero's direction was in perfect synchronization to Gimple's writing: build a straight-forward climax by going the long way 'round. The episode primarily drove home a narrative and a villain's legitimacy by candidly showing depravity instead of giving viewers powerful exits to beloved characters.

Since season seven is considered the series' reboot, Abe and Glenn's deaths offers a new course to chart. Despite all the hype for the premiere, talk of the future doesn't center on the emotional impact but if the show went too far. To be honest, I'd agree.

In the beginning, the series was an exploration of survivors trying to remain human in an inhumane world. Through trial and tribulation, it was eventually instilled that walkers were child's play compared to what people can do. When we lost light-hearted characters before, we had others to give us hope. Now as it has been cemented for the past season or two that people are worse than zombies, the show's is steadily centering on inhumane people in an animalistic world.

Even if the first episode had to establish carnage to re-inflate Negan's domination, the foundation is shaky at best. With the group's intended justice aside, where is the moral compass to keep us inspired to move forward? The premiere didn't answer that. Instead we face a similar trek ahead: one hammy schoolyard bully exacting dominion over our own only on a much grander blood-shedding scale.

Critical comebacks over the violence often rest on the obvious: well it's an apocalypse show it's going to be violent, or anybody who is happy in this world is going to die accept it. Yes, thrilling walker kills and stomach-churning deaths have always been apart of the show. But people, community, and relationships have been the fabric while violence was a mere thread. Having too much of the latter creates a dangerous tipping point. By which the gaping holes Glenn and Abe left behind could've reverberated for future reasons on its own merits without the exaggerated slaughterfest.

For as empty and relieved we feel that this has finally over with, the premiere re-ignited a sense of prepping for the future. How does Eugene transform? how does Maggie strategize against the Saviors? What will Tara and Enid do if/when they find out about Glenn? How is this going to affect Carol? We've spent so much time running from walkers, we forgot what people can do. Zombies seem like walks in the park after Negan, but what he doesn't know is that he's screwing with the wrong people. It may not be today or tomorrow, but Rick makes good on his promises. Maybe the wait will be more worth it the next time.

Additional Thoughts

+ Welcome back to Walking Dead Wednesday! Hope you enjoy these recaps. Gonna do my best for ya'll!

+ Jeffrey Dean Morgan is suitable as Negan, but he still comes across as comical instead of terrifying right now. I have a lot to say about the character, but didn't want to make this recap longer than it was. Perhaps I'll make an addendum next week.

+  CARL. He didn't flinch when Negan was going to chop off his arm. He smart-mouthed him when Negan wanted him to get on the ground. He held his own even when Negan held Lucille to his face. He snarled like a wolf when Glenn was attacked. This kid is so underrated.

+ SASHA. Oh my god, girl. I HAVE YOUR BACK.

+ Carl and Maggie's hug, and even him saying, 'I got her' was EVERYTHING.

+ Maggie was last seen in the forest by herself...but wasn't Sasha going to go with her??

+ I will find you. Awww, fuck.

+ In Rick's vision, Sasha and Abraham are having a baby, they're all eating spaghetti, and Judith is wearing Carl's sheriff hat. DAMNIT.

+ Don't know if it was the rush of the moment - but after seven seasons we couldn't trend Glenn or Daryl's name correctly on twitter?! And poor Abe didn't trend at all.

+ Why is Dale's RV apart of everything horrible and heartbreaking in this world? One second it's providing shelter for rick against the wolves, and carrying Maggie to safe haven, and the next it literally brings everyone to death's door. Dale would not approve.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Thank You Glenn Rhee + Steven Yeun

Thank you Glenn Rhee
As the old saying goes, a cat has nine lives. In the zombie apocalypse, former pizza boy turned wise leader Glenn Rhee had a thousand.

The comic books already sealed his fate. It was ultimately a matter of time to see if television would follow suit. After six years on The Walking Dead, we're giving thanks to Glenn Rhee and Steven Yeun, a cinnamon roll too precious for this world who managed to survive against all odds.

It's rare in television for good-hearted characters to not only survive in an apocalypse but also become a fan-favorite. Maybe we're often a pessimistic bunch and it irks us when someone can seem so damn honestly good, especially in a world when it's an eye for an eye, blood out for blood.

Sometimes we want to know what dark and tortured issues makes a person tick, what makes them sane or insane in a dog-eat-dog society.

Often goody characters also come with on-the-nose warning signs of their imminent peril. We never feel like our growing admiration is trusted in the hands of writers who will unpredictably cast aside our heroes to the wolves.

But somehow Glenn defied everything that literally stood in his way, not only from a writer's perspective but in this ridiculous world known as the zombie apocalypse.
I get to be the funny guy with the one-liners, I get to be the romantic male in the group, and I've been able to be a bad-ass on occasion. Actors only dream of an opportunity like this. - Steven Yeun
People survive differently; it can make them be a mayor of crazy town, become an unforgivable monster, or live and lead with others day-to-day. Glenn definitely fell into the latter group, but his way of life was more than simply existing. Level-headed, humble, and good-hearted, Glenn was a beacon of how people can choose to persevere if they actively chose to. He was a genuine light in the darkness.

Community made him mature. Love means sacrifice but it also symbolizes stability; where you love, you have hope. His relationship to Maggie didn't break him, no matter their accumulation of losses. She made him realize that being walker bait wasn't cool; it was time to grow up and consider the future, whichever is however long it lasts and what they forge with the right mindset and their own hands. They were each other's equals; giving strength to one another and being each other's guiding light.

The Walking Dead has proven surviving a zombie apocalypse not just a game of brawn. Being physically fit and wielding weapons certainly ups your odds, but a good portion of using your brains comes into play too. A lot of heart goes into persevering.

When shit hit the fan, Glenn thought about who he wanted to be when the dust settled. The danger that surrounded Glenn didn't stop him from being his own moral compass. Early on he accepted that every friend or foe has something to offer, and holding onto his humanity separated him from the enemies. He remained sane, diplomatic, helpful, and resilient. This is a whole other kind of courage that's very rare not just in The Walking Dead universe but the real world.
And let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap if we do not give up. - message Glenn sees in Father Gabriel's church
Time after time Glenn's composure was tested. He's lost his cool and questioned whether his fairness to not mercilessly kill was worth it. But his obstacles only re-enforced his strength. His focus to rebuild shone through because of his dedication to not harden or hold grudges; to not cause violence for violence's sake; to be living examples of the wisdom and blessings he received by his family. For every person the group lost, he used a piece of them forward. He observed dire situations and saw the thru-line of what kind of person he wanted to be.

Glenn was so lovable and respected primarily because of Steven Yeun who played him.

Unlike Rick, Glenn didn't have the freedom to run to the edge of Crazy Town and return back from the brink. Unlike Carol, Glenn wasn't someone who was a quiet yet significant force of nature. Unlike Daryl, he wasn't a gruff bad-ass decked out in leather jackets riding around on sick cycle and acting all mysterious.

Glenn had a good heart, and that's not easy to come across as too melancholy, kooky, or naive. Yeun's humble abilities carried a significant honesty to his character's downfalls and triumphs. Glenn was a steady stream of finding the good within the bad, ugly, and just plain atrocious. He smart, wise, charming, funny, hopeful, and realistic. Yeun did it all with an underrated dedicated of genuine heart and kindness. His transformation is one of the most remarkable, second none to Peletier and Grimes.

It's difficult to say goodbye to someone who provided such a reasonable, and calm presence in such a grim, bloody chaotic world. He is one of the most layered and respected members of the original and evolving Atlanta clan, and it will be nearly impossible for the impact of his character to be fulfilled in the future. As fans of the pizza boy, his admirable positivity and ability to think of others before himself will always be with us. To Glenn and Steve, for everything, I give a humble Thank You.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

September Geeky Faves

It's finally autumn! Well, about halfway through October. The thing about living in Florida is that the seasons change for the rest of the world. It's still just hot down here. So Happy Fall to all! It's time to take a brief look back at September and some geeky faves that happened last month.

FanFest - The day finally arrived for me to meet some of The Walking Dead cast. It was so moving and fun to be apart of such a well-meaning event, where all of the proceeds went to OneOrlando. Meeting several members of the show is something I'll never forget.

3 Fictional Characters - A meme spread throughout social media to describe yourself in three fictional characters. I chose Belle (initially) from Beauty and the Best but any version of her would fit (probably). Agent Carter - just 'cause I'm trying to be confident with my value. And Dorothy Zbornack. Offline, I think my face is stuck like her deadpan gaze.

Read The Martian - Hallejuah! Bookish dreams can come true. I finally read The Martian. My mission and wait was worth it. In the case of book versus movie, it was a tough call.

Halloween Costume: For the first time in a few years, I'm super excited about Halloween costume. It was such a long time in the making to find as many similar or exact pieces as possible. What a relief to have it all complete before I go to a major Halloween party. Follow me in Instagram, I'm leading a trail of breadcrumbs.,,,

Plans for November: Try NanoWriMo (but with my own daily/weekly word count), finish my TBR, start reading Outlander, watch more Halloween movies, try some Pumpkin-infused treats.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ranking The Seasons: The Walking Dead (so far)

The Walking Dead has just been renewed for an eighth season. It seems like only yesterday the fandom was just tuning into the first season and waiting to see where the show would take the zombie apocalypse next. In celebration of the next stage for the series, I thought it would be a fun challenge to rank the seasons so far.

What's your favorite or least-favorite season so far? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

6. Season Six
Like the Wolves moniker, the series all but tattooed season six's message on our foreheads: Negan was coming. Which is why season six is so wonky - we're just sitting and waiting for the prophecy to be fulfilled. The first half isn't so bad, but in order to implement a major comic book character, the people we've known for five years start acting out of character. Save for some memorable moments (Glenn vs the Dumpster, Richonne, Melissa McBride), this installment just doesn't feel like the show we've been watching. It's stuck between familiarity and a new era we don't know how to prepare for.

Notable Episodes: JSS, Thank You, Start to Finish, No Way Out, No Tomorrow Yet, The Same Boat

5. Season Three
Team Ricktatorship has a new residence for his cohorts, but things aren't all sunny under this new law of the land. At first, Woodbury looks like the fortified oasis Andrea and her new friend Michonne need. Beyond the running water, electricity, and neighborly house parties, nothing is what it seems. Season three starts out a decent rise exploring how our group has matured in running for supplies and killing walkers, and trying to find stability anywhere. But as the Governor versus Rick takes off, the battle between the two camps looms for the longest time but doesn't reach a satisfying resolution.

Notable Episodes: Sick, Killer Within, Hounded, The Suicide King, Clear, Prey

4. Season Four
Rick lets the reigns loose as a leader but is he too far gone from accepting responsibility as the head honcho? It seems like it when everything the group had worked for comes tumbling down. First a deadly flu strain spreads throughout the prison. And then the long-lost Governor returns for his final revenge. Without a viable escape plan, a portion of the season leaves everyone separated and trying to recover. But the timing of Team Family's split as they're scattered in different directions is well-balanced. Every pairing or mini-group has different issues to handle, and there's enough subtle conflict to keep the tension alive on when, if and how they will unite again.

Notable Episodes: 30 Days Without An Accident, Indifference, Too Far Gone, After, Inmates, Claimed, Still, The Grove, A

3. Season Five
 "They're screwing with the wrong people" at the end of season four seems to set the tone for it's predecessor, only for our expectations to be blown apart. After the loss of the prison and believing each other to be dead, it's great that the group has such an action-packed reunion. And the rest of the season seems to settle here and there. They have to deal with more deaths, and without a place to call home, decide where to go and what to do next. Unlike the dog-eat-dog opponents they've faced before, it's a refreshing new test when they have to bide by another leader's rules and initiate their own survival tactics.

Notable Episodes: No Sanctuary, Four Walls and a Roof, Slabtown, Consumed, Crossed, Coda, Them, The Distance, Forget, Try, Conquer

2. Season Two
I know, Herschel's barn. A whole season spent searching for a girl who ends up in arms reach. After the first season eases us into the apocalypse, the second one explores human nature longer and more in depth. One would think scrounging around for shelter to a temporary safe haven would change the stability of the group, but it doesn't. A struggle for innocence and humanity takes root when Carol's daughter goes missing. And Rick's vie for leadership isn't challenged by walkers but by his best friend. The biggest test so far is understanding a new mentality: kill-or-be-killed, something that envelops Rick as the seasons go on. It's great to revisit the group when they're getting their footing.

Notable Episodes: Save The Last One, Cherokee Rose, Pretty Much Dead Already, Nebraska, Trigerfinger, 18 Miles Out, Judge Jury and Executioner, Better Angles, Beside The Dying Fire

The Walking Dead Don't Open Dead Inside
1. Season One
Days Gone By is an incredible premiere. Right away, Rick Grimes hooks us by waking up in a coma in the mist of the apocalypse. The civilized world has been dominated by walkers, yet as the epitome of law and order, he tries to keep the peace. When he catches up with his family, it's just such an effective way of seeing this group of stranded people trying to survive; the vie for leadership between Rick and Shane start, the morality difference between killing walkers/people who are assumed threats. So much development and action is packed into six episodes, not a second of them is wasted.

Notable Episodes: Days Gone By, Tell It To The Frogs, Vatos, Wildfire, TS-19

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Vs Movie: The Martian

When I saw The Martian out of the blue earlier this year, I really didn't expect it to be an instant fave. I hadn't heard of the book at the time, and being all out of energy for people-stranded-in-space movies, director Ridley Scott's film didn't hold a lot of interest. But when I saw the flick in theaters, finding the book became one of my biggest missions of the year. After a desperate search through two lost copies, I was happy to finally see if the book lived up to the movie and vice versa.

As the story goes, a violent storm forces the Ares 4 crew to evacuate their mission on Mars. During their departure, biologist Mark Watney is accidentally lost in the chaos and deemed dead. Unknown to his crewmates safely on their way home to Earth, he is very much alive and must forge survival with scavenged equipment on the desolate planet.

The book's voice is primarily told through Watney's recorded log entries. His challenges to stave off starvation, create water, and make contact with NASA is the driving force of his peril. When he solves one problem, another shows itself in a different or more life-threatening form. Instead of focusing on the doom and gloom, author Andy Weir writes Watney as pragmatic and funny. His sense of humor and optimism might be his greatest tool to survive.

Everyone jokes about how many times Hollywood has saved Matt Damon, but for this particular role, he truly is perfectly cast. In fact I'd go so far as to say he was probably Leo's only true competition in the 2015 Oscars race. Watney is far from unlikeable in the book; yes, he's an astronaut who is so smart, resourceful, and clever it would make anyone's heads spin but he is also a guy you could hang out with. Watney's sarcasm could've come across as arrogant, but Damon exudes his wit as well as the determination to stay alive, which makes him likable.

However, without his optimistic resourcefulness, I wonder what his personality would've been like otherwise. The one quote, "I'm gonna have to science the **** out of this," sums up a big portion of the book. His log entries are filled to the brim with measurements, calculations, plans, and estimations. He's constantly re-configuring data and strategies, and at points, this made my brain hurt. Often I couldn't exactly picture what Weir was describing. Sometimes it seemed to play out like scroll's worth of jargon I just couldn't follow. Typically survival stories require a little bit of disbelief; we might question what we would do differently but wonder how situations would play out scientifically or sum up insane solutions as pure luck. With The Martian, it's almost entirely necessary to trust the science, math, physics, etc. if you're not so inclined to Google-check inaccuracies. But the story can seem a little too science-y.

This wasn't a major hiccup because the film helped me navigate the story and subplots, and gave me visual aid of what kind of equipment he was using. And like the movie, Weir's use of multiple points-of-views gives balance to Watney's entries. It is foremost Watney's story, but a third-person perspective of NASA discovering his survival and attempting rescue missions offers a breather.

Often with adaptations, us bookworms come out of a movie talking about all the things it's missing. It's difficult to compare both versions because they meet in the middle. Watney faces a few more obstacles on Mars in the former, but nothing vital is missing. NASA employees' sense of humor feels a little to similar to Watney's at times on the page, but in the movie (even though I love the cast) they come across a bit more cold than the intended deadpan. The Ares Crew seems more united in the book, whereas in the movie they seem a little disengaged. If a specific quality is missing from one, the other fulfills that slight void, but nothing is overall a major downgrade or mistake.

As far as the film goes director Ridley Scott captures nearly everything in Weir's novel. Where the book might be a little too technical, the film is able to translate through the actors and the characters' actions. Both have the uncanny ability to make such an extreme quest feel adventurous, dangerous, but hopeful and upbeat. Every challenge Watney faces carries it's own weight, and it's his ability to remain sensible and resourceful that makes his journey triumphant. It may be man against nature, but it's really humanity and even some of the elements working together to support one person.

If I had to choose between the two, my vote is ultimately for the movie. One can watch the movie to scratch the surface of Weir's tale, but use the book to truly dive into deep end if they feel like it. I'm glad I did! (And, yes those are potato chips above ;D)

Book Rating: ★★★
Movie Rating: ★★★
Who Wins: Movie (by a landslide)
Check out my full movie review here

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Monsters come in many forms. Michelle (Mary Winstead Elizabeth) encounters a series of her own when she wakes up in an underground shelter after a brutal car accident. She's being held hostage by a paranoiac ex-Navy man Howard (John Goodman), who claims he didn't just save her from the horrific wreckage but a hostile enemy invasion. Faced with mind-games within the absurd refuge and the loom of an apocalypse, she is forced to decide whether the person who claims to rescue her is as dangerous as the unidentifiable threats she's has protection against.

Hollywood has attempted the innocent-woman-held-captive trope time and time again. A lot of films in the genre merely torture-porn babes and commits to violence for violence's sake to cheap affect. Another go of this type of flick doesn't seem strictly necessary, but producer J.J. Abrams and his team proves it's worth another try. By transforming those worn-out elements, they create a surprising game-changer.

Claustrophobic and engaging, 10 Cloverfield Lane meshes the action of a budding end-of-the-world scenario with psychological teases. The story's atmosphere and Howard's apparent safe haven is full of misdirection and suspense that calls into question: where is safe? what is the truth?

Michelle's fate is challenged in the all the best and terrifying ways. By making her a confident and resourceful heroine, she uses every weapon - both intelligence and with the tools at hand - to challenge her fate. A lot of the film's thrills walks the fine line between her (and another captive Emmett) letting her guard down to accept the truth and staying suspicious because some facts are not what they seem. Played awesomely by Mary Winstead Elizabeth, she is such a kick-ass character in this genre.

Her feat is challenged by an environment that is emotionally and physically confining. Plenty of evidence supports that deadly forces has invaded humankind, which makes it difficult to maneuver whether or not it's even smart or safe to venture outside. The mood is only toyed with more because Howard's dwelling is like a dream conspiratorial theorists' tiny home. It's completely decked out in not only food, water, and filtered air but fully furnished kitchen, dining room, living room, games, music, and movies. The familiar, even nostalgic, atmosphere is cozy and trusting. But it's all remnants of what life was before and it merely masks the tension in the air.

On top of which, surviving either means playing house with Howard or making an escape - and neither choice seems to be in her definite favor. John Goodman is brilliant as the unhinged survivalist. He is calm and collected with a touch of creepy one second, and then completely enraged the next. His backstory and Michelle's survival greatly navigates between letting your guard down and unpredictable twists. There's a definite sway between acquiescing to rules in order to keep the peace and trying to understand what lurks behind his  conspiratorial beliefs.

Like it's predecessor Cloverfield, the story doesn't center on creatures versus humans. This sequel's quest (which also works as a standalone) is much more than facing scary monsters in an apocalypse, but also conquering monsters in human form who have to be endured or defeated in order to survive. Twists sprinkled throughout the film never lets the story rest on a captured woman or cheap violence. With refreshing characters and effective suspense, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a worthy thriller.

Rating: ★★★

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

11 Favorite Glenn Rhee Moments

 (Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)

Glenn Rhee captured fans' hearts from the very beginning of The Walking Dead. Over the past six seasons, he's kept us inspired and making us pray to the Powers That Be he wouldn't get killed off. Whether or not the seventh season will cement his comic book fate into television history, I thought now was as good of a time as any to give thanks to Glenn Rhee and Steven Yeun.

The former pizza boy turned wise leader has been there and done that throughout the apocalypse. These are eleven moments of why I personally love Glenn and believe what makes him a fan-favorite. What moments do you think are missing from my list? Feel free to share in the comments below. Hope you enjoy!

Half of Team Atlanta's original camp is wiped out after a hoard of walkers intrudes in the middle of the night. This was one of the earlier days when disposing of bodies, at least so many of them, was new. Dealing with the aftermath, Glenn urges everyone to see the difference between their family and the brain-dead vultures. This subtle choice carries on throughout the series in terms of choosing to bury their own friends or allies but letting their enemies turn.

Love In The Apocalypse
"All I know is this chick rode out of nowhere like Zorro on a horse and took Lori."

This is totally love at first sight. She swings in on a horse to tell the group about Carl getting shot and rides off into the horizon towards her family farm with Lori. Hearts pops out of his face every time he looks at her. He's like a real life emoji. Their encounter turns into 11 minutes of pharmacy-heaven and one of the best relationships of the series. Gleggie, forever!

No One Gets Left Behind
Nothing else is on Maggie and Glenn's mind except finding each other. But would we ever doubt for a second that Glenn would leave Tara behind when they are blocked off in a caved-tunnel surrounded by walkers? Our boy isn't like that at all. It's even more awesome that Maggie and co. come in guns blazing to save them at the nick of time.
Taking Aiden Down
Glenn probably wouldn't ever harm a fly or swat a bee. He's just so precious. So punching someone to make a point is definitely leveling-up in badassery. Aiden and Nicholas thinks it's all fun and games to tie up a walker and torture it, and then tries to lecture Glenn about how to deal with roamers after they nearly get Tara killed. Aiden gets put in his place much to our and Deanna's total delight.

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Don't Let Go
Nicholas, Glenn and Noah are trapped in a revolving door surrounded by walkers. Glenn tries beating down the glass, but in typical Alexandria Cowardice fashion, Nicholas shoves his way out and bails. Glenn is forced to watch in horror as Noah is propelled into walkers and mauled to death. This might one of the saddest moments in the series, but Steven did one hell of a job portraying Glenn's despair and anguish. After his friend's death, it's also the first time Glenn withdraws from the community and stays closer to home until he confronts (and beats the hell out of) Nicholas.
First Human Kill
One of Glenn's defining qualities was that he never killed another person. While other characters' kindness deemed them ill-fit to survive their grim realities, Glenn jumped through morality hoops unscathed. When season sixth finally called on him to strike out the Saviors, it was definitely a heartbreaking moment. Another underrated performance by Yeun in Not Tomorrow Yet.

The group is forced to abandon the prison when the Governor and his cronies roll up to destroy the joint. Everyone is paired with at least one other person, and are more or less, hiding out nearby. But where the hell is Glenn? We find him still at the prison waking up completely alone and their home obliterated. The only thing he has to hold onto is the pocket watch Herschel gave him, but he is entirely unaware of how or if he was killed. After a moment of devastation, he packs up and tries to move forward. Herschel taught him to believe, so that's what he's going to do.

Morning News
Stuck between his girlfriend and his friends, Glenn has a tough decision to make. It's not as much of a question of whether he should share that Herschel's farm is filled with walkers, it's more of when and how. If tensions weren't already high, here's this bombshell that pure Glenn decides to share over breakfast. It's truly iconic.

Yeah, you in the tank. Cozy in there?
Days Gone By was already an amazing episode on its own. Just when all of the chips seem to be down for Rick, whose trapped in a tank with no way out, Glenn introduces himself via walkie. Whether watching the show for the first time, or re-watching it, who ever still expects for that voice to come out of nowhere? Talk about an introduction.

The Magical Dumpster
Maybe I'm just desperate to pull something out of a hat for the first half of season six, but I really liked Nicholas and Glenn's arc. Nicholas showed us what kind of man he was but we also got a glimpse of who he could be if Glenn mentored him. Was the dumpster moment needed? Probably not, especially when the powers that be failed to keep the secret about his fate spoiler-free. For good and bad reasons, it will forever be legendary. It's earned a spot in television history alongside tv fake-outs. On top of that, this shot of Steve's reaction to Nicholas is very underrated.
1 of 1000 Lives
Glenn might be too precious and good for an apocalypse, but the dude has a more lives than a clowder of cats. Surely, there's a rank list about his close-calls to be made but I don't know if anything trumps the Woodsbury escape: Glenn getting beaten to a pulp while tied to chair, and then is forced to smash said chair into pieces to kill a walker that was unleashed on him. To top it off, he later rips the same walker open to use it's bones for him and Maggie to kill their captors and make a run for it. Yes he is a cinnamon roll but this is the epitome of "just surviving somehow".

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