Four Letter Nerd

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4LN TV Review: The Magicians (SyFy)

I first saw the trailer for The Magicians and it looked very interesting. Coming from a guy who loves fantasyesque shows this looked like it would be right up my alley. The first episode premiered last night (01/25/16) and I made sure to check it out. To me, it’s like Harry Potter meets the “adult world” (The show is definitely not kid friendly), and it follows the main character Quentin Coldwater, played by Jason Ralph (AquariusA Most Violent Year) as he understands his magical powers at Brakebills Academy. The story first starts out with Quentin in a mental hospital because he feels similar to many young adults, which is lost and alone. Eventually he wonders into a test that turns out to be an entrance exam for this magical guidance academy and, SPOILER… he obviously passes. Also, it’s based off of a book trilogy, of the same name, by author Lev Grossman. I have not read the books so I can’t really tell you how on par the show is to the series, but I will for sure be reading them now!

All in all, it was a pretty entertaining show, really easy to follow and, I mean, come on… it has magic! The special effects were amazing and the story kept me hooked the entire episode, then left me wanting more. Like I said before, it’s basically Harry Potter for grown-ups, and I mean that quite literally.

If you didn’t catch the premier, then check out the trailer below to see what it’s all about. If you did you catch the premiere of The Magicians, what did you think of it? Sound off in the comments below!

 

(Editor’s Note: The review was written by our good friend Tyler Haines.)

Casual Game Review – Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3

Call of Duty is one of those games that we all love to hate. I have been a Call of Duty fan since Call of Duty 4 and have bought every game since then because other than the Halo series it is the game that got me into being a gamer. Treyarch has been making the series every other year for years now and they have been making the Black Ops series for 7 years now. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 got my faith back into the games. It has the true feel to it that I have been yearning so long for in this franchise. It is just down right fun and has me wanting more as soon as I log off. The games mechanics are smooth and has an easy feel to it. With the new wall running abilities the maps are easier to navigate and it brings a new style of gameplay to this series. There are now 4 different ways to play. There is campaign, multiplayer, zombies, and nightmares mode. Each one of these modes you can upgrade your character to make the experience truly how the player wants it to be.

The Good:
From the first time I can remember you are your own character in the campaign. Not like a generic character that you have a linear play style with. You can set him/her up by however you want to and can control what outfit, face and hairstyle, core controls, and weaponry. All of the customization in my opinion makes it so much more fun than your run of the mill shooter campaign and to me you get to see your character you have made grow. This brings players back into the campaign where they can have fun and play how they want to. The campaign is beautifully put together with a storyline that is easy to follow and has you on the edge of your seat from the second you start it.

The biggest thing I absolutely love about this game is how many voice actors and actual actors they have in the campaign. The whole black ops crew is made up of John Taylor (Law and Order: SVU’s Christopher Meloni), Peter Maretti (J. Edgar’s Ary Katz), Sebastian Diaz (American Sniper’s Reynaldo Gallegos), and Sarah Hall (Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff). These are some of the many actors whose voices you can recognize throughout the game.

The multiplayer is the main reason fans keep coming back to this franchise. What makes it different is now you can select 7 different “specialist” who each have 2 different abilities that you can harness throughout your gameplay. You can also customize their outfits once you get enough kills to unlock them.

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The Bad:
The new zombies map is fun but there is only one map right now unless you buy downloadable content that should just be put in the game to begin with. The map puts 4 new characters into a 1920’s noir style map and you are trying to figure out what this voice in your head is wanting you to do. Don’t get me wrong it is fun to play but you have to have a good team that actually knows what they are doing unless you are not wanting to progress very far in the storyline.

The multiplayer experience hasn’t changed much (I mean come on it is a Call of Duty game) other than the new specialists and their customization. It is the same arcade type of warfare that brings out players year after year to aimlessly kill one another online. The customization hasn’t changed hardly any with the weaponry and it still has the same killstreaks just with different names. If you are wanting a realistic shooting player vs. player experience this game is not for you. A lot of the features have a “gimmicky” style to them which allows the player to die at any random moment from over powered guns and killstreaks. But hey what else is new about Call of Duty online?

The Verdict:
Treyarch has made a game that is fun to play and made a way where the gamers can make a lot of the experience how they want to play it. This is something personally I have been wanting and waiting for a while now. Whatever game mode you play this game is sure to bring some fun into your house with a little bit of challenge to go with it.

Graphics: 7/10                    Campaign: 9/10                                   Multiplayer: 6/10

Addictiveness: 7/10

The Verdict from this gamer: 7/10

 

(Editor’s Note: Today’s game review was written by our nerdy friend, and casual gamer, Tyler Haines)

4LN Movie Review – San Andreas

(Editor’s note: this article was written by 4LN’s Disaster Movie Expert, Paige Clark)

 

This weekend I had the pleasure of scratching my disaster movie itch by going to see San Andreas. Being the 4LN disaster movie expert (I would have minored in it in college had it been an option), it is only natural that I review it.

Before we get started it is important for you to know that I love disaster movies… like LOVE-love them. I can quote Twister word for word, and I spend my free nights watching whatever B-movie, disaster flick that happens to be named after whatever the disaster happens to be (such as Earthquake, Category 7, Ice Storm, and Firestorm). So I was excited when I found out that their was going to be an A-list disaster movie and had to be there opening weekend.

Now for the spoiler-free synopsis!

San Andreas stars Dwayne Johnson as a member of the LAFD. He is a part of the super special rescue squad (I don’t know if that is the technical name for it but that is what I call it). He and his team make the daring rescues that save people from unfortunate circumstances. Alexandra Daddario (she plays Annabeth in the Percy Jackson movies, or the hot girl that Woody Harrelson cheats on his wife with in True Detective) plays Johnson’s daughter. They are about to take a trip to Seattle so he can drop her off at school for her freshman year, but before they can take off on their road trip an unprecedented earthquake takes Nevada by surprise. Paul Giamatti plays a Caltech seismologist who is working on the cutting edge of seismologic technology (I am assuming he is a seismologist because he was a scientist who studies earthquakery) that will help predict earthquakes. He and his partner are at the Hoover Dam testing their theory when a 7.0+ earthquake destroys it. While it sucks that the Hoover Dam was destroyed, Giamatti’s theory was proven correct, meaning the world now has the ability to predict earthquakes. The timing couldn’t be better because California is about to get rocked.

"I'm an earthquakeologist!"

“I’m an earthquakeologist!”

 

Johnson’s trip with his daughter is cut short because of the earthquake and he is called away to help in Nevada. She travels with her mom’s new boyfriend to San Francisco, just in time for a HUMONGOUS earthquake (because of course she did). Johnson is conveniently in a helicopter and happens to be on the phone with his ex-wife at the time. She’s able to make to the roof of the building before it collapses and jump to the helicopter in the nick of time. They hear from their daughter and figure out where she is and they are off to San Francisco to rescue her. Throughout the film, stronger and stronger earthquakes continuously rock California, which creates a series of very unfortunate and “totally believable” (quotes added for sarcasm) circumstances that the characters had to survive.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, but it’s definitely cheesy. My mom and my sister laughed pretty much the whole time at the level of Velveeta grade liquid gold this movie contains. The dialogue is pretty predictable and the acting was not all that great, but I don’t think it would have been as good of a disaster movie if it was better in those areas. Where would the fun in that be? You don’t go to a disaster movie for believability and Oscar grade acting – you go because the genre itself is awesome (although a giant earthquake along the San Andreas fault is totally plausible).

San-Andreas-Movie-Abandoned-Hollywood-Images

 

This film was definitely terrific when it comes to imagery. So even though you probably wouldn’t actually survive any of the situations you see, you really feel like you are right there. The movie packs so many anxiety-inducing situations in it that it left me at the edge of my seat the entire time and made me wish I had taken a Xanax before I left the house.

Here’s the thing, San Andreas has everything that I love about movies in it. It has action, disaster, family drama, a budding and healing love story, and a multitude of cheesy one-liners, but unless you just really love disaster movies (like I do) or really enjoy looking at Dwayne Johnson for two straight hours (like I do) I’d say you should probably just wait to rent it (but you should definitely see it).

"Hey girl."

“Hey girl.”

 

4LN writer Stephen Andrew also saw the movie this weekend and here’s what he thought:

Stephen – I loved San Andreas. One of the main things Paige and I have in common is our love of cheesy disaster movies. I’ll concede that she’s definitely the expert, but I consider myself a pretty big fan of the genre. (If there was a Disaster Movie Trivial Pursuit Paige would still totally kick my ass at it. Also, hey Trivial Pursuit people, you’re welcome for basically just HANDING YOU a billion dollar idea…)

One thing I really loved about the film is the fact that Dwayne Johnson’s character isn’t just some guy who happens to be street-smart. Dude is a legit rescue specialist. It’s what he does and he’s good at it. Normally in these movies it’s the dashingly handsome, uncharacteristically brave scientist, or some grizzled retired marine that saves everyone’s life (“everyone” is this scenario refers to the 5 people that usually make it out of these movies alive).

I pretty much agree with Paige on all her points. The movie had a ton of cheese-factor, but it was also so incredibly intense at times. There were so many moments that made nervous and tense. The scene Paige previously mentioned where Carla Gugino’s character (The Rock’s ex) was in a tall building that was falling down made me CRAZY. I was nervous the entire time. That’s the testament to a disaster movie’s quality. If they can be cheesy and STILL make you feel like you’re gonna jump out of your skin, then they’re top-notch. If you like disaster movies, or you just want to see a movie and you’ve already seen Avengers: Age of Ultron (twice), then you should definitely see San Andreas.

Mighty Mitchell & “Legends of the Knight”

(This article is written by our nerdy friend, Tyler Haines. Cousin of Mighty Mitchell)

 

For those of you who don’t know who Mighty Mitchell is, he is a young hero with the courage that can best Star-Lord and can overcome great fear that would put Green Lantern to shame. Mitchell is a 4 year old kid that was diagnosed with B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on August 20th 2014. Since then he has had many treatments to overcome this disease and has battled it like many of the other hero’s before him. He is most passionate about superheroes and thus has been given the name Mighty Mitchell by his fans and followers. Mitchell is currently finishing up what they call the Interim Maintenance 2 phase which ends on 4/23/2015 and starts his next phase which is called the Maintenance phase at the beginning of May. The phase includes two and a half years of chemo treatments at home as well as spinal taps with chemo flushes every 12 weeks.

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“Legends of the Knight” is a film made by Brett Culp, and it’s about a various amount of people that are heroes like our Mighty Mitchell. The film brings stories of people who have truly heroic tales and have overcome great challenges and obstacles like their favorite superhero Batman. The film has played at over a 100 cities and has raised over $70,000 for charity!

The movie will be playing in Madison, TN on Wednesday May 20th at 4:30 PM to 5:51 PM at Carmike Wynnsong 10 – Madison 721 Myatt Dr, Madison, TN, US, 37115. This movie will be in honor of Mitchell and every single proceed will go to Vanderbilt Children’s hematology oncology clinic and to the bank account that has been set up for the small food and drinks for the kid’s on the floor that helps take care of Mitchell. You can already buy tickets at this time for this event at https://www.tugg.com/events/15211#.VTA6wCS6uvJ.mailto

We would love to have you all come out and support Mitchell and the other heroes that are out there in this world. Come out and enjoy a good movie, popcorn, & good company. If you are coming or need an invite to the Facebook page please contact myself or any of the other Four Letter Nerd crew and we will send you an invite to the page. He is courageous, brave, and without fear he is the……… Mighty Mitchell!!!

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Q and A

Season 5 is fast approaching folks!!!! And in honor of that, I posted several weeks back at 4LN a request for questions pertaining to the upcoming season. I received ten such submissions that I will be splitting up into two categories: non-spoilers and somewhat spoilers. If you want nothing spoiled for you at all this season, stop when we get to the somewhat spoiler part (it will be the last two questions and include a standard warning of “please stop reading if). I will explain that section in detail further when we get there. So let’s get this starting with Joe, who has a question about a popular character who went missing during Season 4:

“What happened to Gendry? Is he ever coming back?”

 Gendry’s book 3 story ended with season 3. So there was no reason to have him in season 4. But Gendry should be back and he should be running into some familiar characters in which he has not interacted with previously (I emphasize “should,” which I will address with another question further down).

Gendry_S2

Nathan asks: “Without giving any details, could there be any Red Wedding or Mountain crushing heads type scenes this season? Ones that make you go from up here smiling to questioning your existence?”

If the producers follow the book on this, no. The fourth and fifth books (the basis for season 5) are almost a reboot for the characters of the series. So many important characters in the first three books are dead, so it is like everyone that survived is starting over and reestablishing their place in this redrawn world. That reestablishing takes time for Martin to develop and really slows the pace down until the end of book four and about the middle of book five. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people dying in these books, just not the punch-to-the-gut, life questioning moments those two were. But there is a chance the producers will decide to create their own shock ending for a character (several cast members have hinted this will happen). So if one happens, I will just as shocked as you are. Speaking of changes in the source material, Richard has a question directly addressing just that:

 

“How close to the books do you think the show will be this season?”

This season will move farther from the source material than any of the previous seasons. It has already been confirmed that the first part of Jamie’s story will be nothing like the books. Sansa’s plot will take a different direction as well. Previews also indicate that Tyrion and Jon Snow’s arcs, though likely headed in the same directions as the book, will take a much different route getting there. And many characters (Bronn, Trystane Martell, Mrycella Lannis….I mean Baratheon) will receive more focus than the books have given them to this point. So while I think the TV show will end up in the same place as the books do, the path getting there will be different. So referring back to the first question, the producers might decide the rest of Gendry’s story doesn’t help meet their end game, so they decide to end his story where it is. I doubt this will happen, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Daisy has our next question about a popular online theory:

 

“What are your thoughts on the “R+L=J theory”?”

I am a firm believer in it and here are my reasons:

 

  1. No character in the Game of Thrones universe has the honor Ned Stark had (R.I.P.). He wouldn’t even sneak around when he had the information that would have kept Joffrey off the throne. Instead, he tried to do the honorable thing and be upfront with the info he had. He held true to every vow he made right to his demise, but he broke his marriage vows for a random prostitute?

 

  1. In the first book, Ned thinks frequently about the last words his sister Lyanna said to him, which were “Promise me, Ned.” Now considering there were only a few causes of death possible for young Lyanna, complications during pregnancy seems as likely as anything. And it makes sense that Ned would “promise” to raise Jon Snow as his own and keep Jon’s true parentage a secret (even in his own damn thoughts, Ned would not break his honor or reveal what he promised!!!!). It would also make sense for Ned and Lyanna to want Jon’s real parents a secret because being half “man Robert killed in battle” and half “woman King Robert loved” would not have made him very popular in the new king’s eyes.

 

Now I believe the theory is true, but I don’t know if the show will follow up on this. One reason is only one man, Howland Reed, is still alive who knows what happened and could confirm Lyanna’s pregnancy. And we have yet to meet present day Mr. Reed in the books or the show (though we have met his kids). So either the show would have to bring Howland Reed into the story or someone would have to see a vision and then get that vision communicated to Jon somehow. And that would take up a fair amount of screen time to accomplish, so with the season’s left being limited, this may require more screen time than can be budgeted. Speaking of the number of seasons left, Pete asks:

 

“How many seasons of GoT do you think there WILL be, and how many do you think there SHOULD be?”

The producers have said 7 seasons is the goal. That would mean events from (THE FRUSTRATINGLY YET TO BE RELEASED) “Winds of Winter” would cover next season and the not even worked on “A Dream of Spring” would be the source for the last season. Considering the last two books are expected to be 1500 pages long (the previous books were 900 to 1100 pages), that is a lot of content to be filled. Ideally, I think the next two books should have two seasons a piece, bringing the total to 9 or 10 depending on how much of books 4 and 5 carryover to next season (and I don’t think much will). But how many shows went in the crapper because they were on the air too long (I’m looking at you Dexter!!!!)? If keeping GoT a quality show means fewer season, than I’m all for it. My bold prediction is HBO will convince the producers to go eight as a compromise between the 10 HBO would like and the seven the producers want.

 

David asks: “This season will be the first to not have an episode written by George R. R. Martin. Will that have a negative impact on the quality of the show?”

I doubt that it will. As you said, Martin only wrote one episode a season, meaning there were plenty of episodes written by other professionals that turned out just fine. Though I have to say some of the best episodes (including Blackwater from Season 2 and the Lion and the Rose from last season where the bastard Joffrey met his demise) were penned by Martin. But at this point, I think the man should be put under house arrest until “The Winds of Winter” is (finally!!!) complete. Next up is Quinn, who has an ummm…”unique” theory?

george-rr-martin-kill-a-stark

 

“Is it at all plausible that Game of Thrones is a prequel story to the (tragically underrated) 2002 Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey film Reign of Fire?”

Well I was not aware that Batman and the guy from the Lincoln car commercials made a movie. But from what I’ve read about it, it sounds like a horrible idea, especially considering that the setting is London (what scenario gets Matthew McConaghey in London facing dragons?) But GoT being a prequel to “Reign of Fire sure seems more plausible than the guy from “Failure to Launch” and “Sahara” in London fighting dragons, so sure, why not? You might recognize this next fellow:

hodor

Hodor asks: “Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor?”

Calm down big guy!!! We’re all bummed you’re not in this season as well. I guess there’s only so much the writers of the show can do with a fireball throwing child and a decrepit old man stuck to a tree inside a cave. But this just gives you more time to practice all that dialogue you’ll have for season six and further your career as a DJ (that’s right, Hodor is a DJ!!!!)

Now before we continue, the last two questions involve small spoilers involving characters from the books that may or may not appear on the show. I will not give away anything about the story arc of these characters so I don’t spoil them for non-book readers in case the show decides to use them. But if the very mention of potential names from the show arouses your curiosity so much that your fingers automatically jump on the keyboard and google their names, then stop right here. Once again, if you don’t want potential plot spoilers involving these characters to happen, do not google these names. Now Alan has the first of our semi spoiler questions:

 

“Think we’ll be seeing Griff and Young Griff?”

I am saying about 70/30 towards no. But I am holding out hope they do. There have been several rumors of actors who are cast for the end of the season under different character names to try and keep it secret. But that is a questionable rumor. If we do see them, I believe it will be towards the end of the season because their reveal will not mean very much to the TV viewer without more background information into their significance throughout the season. Now Cate has our last question:

 

“Do you think Lady Stoneheart will be introduced eventually?”

My odds are the same here as the previous question. I sure hope they do. And once again, there was a “casting leak” involving this character as there was with Griff and Young Griff which may or may not be hogwash. I really think it makes more sense to put her here in Season 5 than it would have been to put her in the place the books placed her (the end of the third book, which would’ve been the season 4 finale). A whole season can be spent building her up before revealing her as opposed to dropping her on everybody suddenly like Martin did.

 

Once again, I emphasize, DO NOT google the names of these characters unless you want a potential major spoiler.

Be on the lookout for my final installment of the preview series: a full primer to prepare for Season 5.

 

The Road to Game of Thrones Season 5: Dragons in Westeros

One of the most visually impressive elements of Game of Thrones so far has been the dragons. Since their hatching at the end of Season 1 to the full grown monsters we see in Season 4, Daenerys’s dragons are one of the finest examples of modern CGI placement in television history.

And nothing else in the GoT universe gives a character legitimacy quite like Dany’s dragons. Before them, the mother of dragon’s was mourning the death of the future Aquaman, Khal Drago, with few of his former khalasar remaining to stand behind her. But having dragons opened the doors of Qarth, helped conquer the cities along Slaver’s Bay, and brought the Unsullied and the Second Son sellsword company to the side of Daenerys Stormborn.

But Season 4 brought to attention a problem that has been in the back of our minds since their hatching. We may have figured the vicious beasts would be loyal to their mother or that Dany would learn how to tame them as they matured. But as it stands now, Dany’s dragons do what they want. One of them has already escaped and the other two had to be chained up for fear another child might die or damaged property could turn those loyal to Dany against her. How can Daenerys claim the throne of Westeros (or keep the seat of power she has now, for that matter) if she can’t control her dragons. For some speculation on the potential answers to these questions, let’s take a look at the history of dragons in Westeros and how that knowledge affects Dany’s interactions with her Dragons in the present.

 

Dragons in Westeros: A History

The Field of Fire

Dragons in Westeros first appeared with Aegon the Conquerer over 300 years before the events of a Game of Thrones. In a battle known as “The Field of Fire,” Aegon and his two sisters flew their dragons and burned thousands of men who opposed Aegon’s claim to rule all of Westeros. After the battle, the rest of Westeros (except Dorne) chose to bend the knee to Aegon instead of facing the wrath of the dragons, uniting the seven kingdoms (except, once again, Dorne) as one realm ruled by the Targaryens.

 

The Dance with the Dragons

Dragons were a regular part of the landscape of Westeros for the next 130 years of Targaryen rule. But one war, a civil war between two different factions of the Targaryen’s known as the Dance of the Dragons, ended dragons in Westeros. With both sides possessing them, many on field battles included skyward confrontations between dragons where one or both dragons died or were severely injured in battle. Of the twenty two dragons alive before the Dance, nineteen of them died. Two of the three disappeared never to be seen again. The only dragon that did not disappear or die, Morning, was too young to fight in the Dance and died at a very young age. Dragons have not been seen in Westeros since.

 

The Taming and Riding of Dragons

Targaryens riding dragons into battles proves they can be tamed and used. But what history shows us about them doesn’t help Dany’s cause. Not anyone can just ride any dragon they want. It may seem obvious that a giant, aggressive beast that shoots flames from its mouth would be tough to ride. But what I mean is dragons only accept one rider at a time. Once a dragon has chosen its rider, it will not accept any other rider until its current rider dies. And the opposite is true as well. A person cannot ride two dragons while they are both living. Only when a person’s dragon has died can they attempt to ride a different one. So even if Dany figures out how to tame her dragons, she could only ride one of them, leaving the other two to their own devices.

History also shows that one must have Targaryen blood in order to ride a dragon. That’s not to say that everyone has to be a pureblood Targaryen to ride a dragon. Many of the dragons flown in the dance were ridden by bastards whose moms believed they were impregnated by Targaryens. If true, this presents another problem for the mother of dragons. She is the only known Targaryen in the Game of Thrones universe. So in order for all three dragons to be used to their full effectiveness, Dany must find two secret Targaryens out there. And considering that dragons tend to burn those who try to ride or tame them that don’t have Targaryen blood, good luck finding people to volunteer for this task.

 

Questions Going Forward

-Will Daenerys learn to tame and ride one of her dragons?

-If she does, are there two other people out there with the courage and bloodlines to tame and ride her other two dragons?

-Assuming Daenerys learns to control one of her dragons, but can’t find a suitable rider for the other two, what damage will the wild dragons create for her cause? Will her lack of control for the dragons turn people against her?

-Will the producers of the show say “To hell with all this dragon mythology from the books, we will do our own thing Dany,” making everything I just wrote a waste of time.

A second trailer of the fifth season came out and showed what appeared to be Dany communicating something with one of her dragons and the dragon flying off after she did. We will see if that is a good omen for the mother of dragons or just a mirage covering up the many complications she will be having in taming her prized beasts.

 

Next Week: Q and A: Answering your questions about the upcoming season.

 

(This article was written by 4LN GoT expert, Jeff Merrick.)

4LN Movie Review: Insurgent

The Creative Fall of a Movie Franchise: How Insurgent Could Destroy the Divergent Movie Series

“Divergent,” the catalyst for this once promising franchise, was not exactly a critical darling. Rotten Tomatoes gave an average of 5.4 out of ten compiling the reviews of 196 movie critics. But people still thought enough of the film and the book that inspired it to the tune of 288.7 million dollars in revenue (it cost about 85 million to make). And if you loved that first book, at least the movie stayed true to that story, making only a handful of changes.

But after seeing the sequel earlier this week, I sure hope these same elements that determine a movie’s success will all come together in a rare occurrence of unity and purpose and declare this miserable attempt at entertainment a failure. Two of the three of these elements are already in place as negative reviews for the movie are already trickling in. And devoted book readers will find themselves, as my wife did throughout this picture, saying “That wasn’t in the book,” significantly more than any movie that claims to be based on a novel should be allowed to. Now if only the rest of you out there can make it a trifecta of motion picture failure and make this a box office flop in line with “Waterworld” and “The Long Ranger.”

In order to better analyze all the places where “Insurgent” failed as a movie, I will break them down into four significant reasons why “Divergent’s” sequel was so terrible.

 

1. Ignoring the Source Material Entirely

As someone who is familiar with numerous books that become movies or television series, I realize that not everything on book pages works well on screen. Some creative liberties have to be taken to both keep the movie or television show entertaining and allow for non-book readers the chance to follow the story without having to read the books. But there is a difference between taking “creative liberties” and discarding the story in the book entirely. Director Robert Schwenke’s vision (that is too nice a word to use to describe the man’s work on this film) for “Insurgent” bears no resemblance to Veronica Roth’s novel. And I do not have a problem with some changes to a story when they ultimately get to the same place the source material intended. Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings movies take some liberties to move their stories and transfer them over to their different mediums more effectively. But the end results that define those literary works are largely the same. Not this ending!!!! The major twist that ends Roth’s second book is completely discarded for some Kum-bay-yah crap that gives you no reason to see either of the remaining sequels (that’s right, there are two more of these). Also in this movie, there are devices created to determine how divergent one truly is. Once again, that is not in the books and it is just as horrible as it sounds (very similar to the Star Wars prequels and their introduction of the concept of Metaclorians to determine one’s potential as a Jedi). Making changes that aid a written work’s adaptation to the big screen is one thing. But to completely trash the plot of your source material for your own story, which is neither creative or entertaining, as Schwentke does with “Insurgent, is inexcusable.

 

2. Lazy, Cliché Filled Scriptwriting

While watching “Insurgent,” a picture in my mind developed of a large book that sits in every Hollywood Studio’s meeting room. This large book is filled with all the overused clichés that Hollywood makes a regular part of their movies. When writers are putting together their scripts and run out of things to say, they consult this manual to fill in those blanks in their scripts. I believe “Insurgent” was written entirely from the electronic version of this manual as the writers copied and pasted entire scenes from this manual onto their computers.

 

3. Lack of Development of the Minor Characters

The only problem for “Insurgent” that can be linked back to the first movie is right here. The backbone of Roth’s story is the main character, Tris and the relationships she builds with the various people she interacts with. These relationships help guide Tris through all the difficult situations she must endure as she loses her parents and becomes a wanted fugitive. The problem is that in the first movie, these important characters were either not introduced or relegated to the role of an extra. The result is random scenes like when a tall, African American male has a meaningful conversation about the direction of things on a roof with Tris. Because I read the books, I figured out the young man’s name was Uriah. In the books, Uriah was a born dauntless who helped Tris become accepted by her new Dauntless faction. But moviegoers haven’t seen that important relationship develop, taking away all meaning from this conversation. In the books, certain characters who Tris gets to know die. These losses have an emotional impact because of her previous experiences with them and that impacts the story. When similar deaths happen in the movie, we have little (if any) idea about who these characters are, significantly lessening the impact of their loss. If the structure of a motion picture didn’t allow for the proper character development that Roth’s work demanded, then maybe the Divergent series should have gone the route of a television show. Because when you remove those relationships from the equation, you’re left with actions taken by Tris that lose their effectiveness because of the essential nature of those relationships to explain Tris’s actions.

 

4. Poorly explained plot devices

In a story where the Erudite faction wants to take over and rule all the other factions, it makes sense that the smart ones of the Divergent post-apocalyptic world should be able to create devices that make it easier for them to take over. But being that this is the faction of the intelligent, you think they would be able to explain how these devices do the random things they do. But each little gadget the scholars over at Erudite create come with little or no explanation for how it does what it does. And since these gadgets don’t need explaining for how they work, then why do they need explaining for how the protagonists overcome the obstacles these gadgets present? An audience develops respect for the heroes of a story because of the strength of will or intelligence they use in overcoming the forces working against them. The way these obstacles are developed and overcome during “Insurgent” creates no reason for the audience to respect the heroes or the villains.

 

In Conclusion….

You may have noticed that I did not include the cast as one of the problems with “Insurgent.” You may have heard that Four’s mother looks the same age as him. Well if you haven’t heard, FOUR’S MOTHER LOOKS THE SAME AGE AS HIM. Only in the Justin Timberlake movie where nobody ages past 25 and they have to purchase time to live past that is that acceptable. While that casting decision was extremely poor, Shailene Woodley is acceptable as Tris (though some of her “intense” facial expressions may become the subject of some ridiculous memes in the future). And Kate Winslett (though we don’t see enough of her) is Kate FREAKING Winslett, owning the role of Jeanine like she does everything else she’s been in. But if you compare it to Hunger Games (which cost $15 million more to make) with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, and other minor characters who fit their roles perfectly, the Divergent series just seems subpar. But at least after the first movie, there was hope for book fans of a movie that would give life to the story they love. “Insurgent” shatters that hope several times over, ignoring both the major plot points and relationship developments of Roth’s series. And while box office success may still be achievable, I really hope not. For the last thing Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate (the studios backing these films) need is vindication to be just as lazy for the two sequels of this series as they were with “Insurgent.”

 

(This article was written by Jeff Merrick.)

Game of Thrones – Deciphering the Code: Episode Titles and What They Mean

Ten months between season!!! That is the price a viewer pays for experiencing this current golden age of television. The shortened, higher quality seasons of today’s cable drama means longer periods of waiting for the next season of the show to begin. So within those ten months, show fanatics like myself jump all over every single bit of casting news, leaked photos, or plot information we can get. So even the releasing of episode titles causes us to go into “internet theory frenzy” and start piecing together the entire plot of those first four episodes that now have titles.

Now I will not be unveiling every bit of information I know about the start of the season from these titles. But I will provide an almost spoiler-free preview of what is coming in each of these four episodes.

Of Note: I did say almost spoiler-free as some of the information I provide may be info you want to figure out from watching the show (assuming the show actually takes the time to explain these things, which it doesn’t always do). So if you want ABSOLUTELY ZERO PERCENT of season five spoiled for you, then stop reading. But most of you should be find reading on.

 

Episode One: The Wars to Come
Well that really narrows it down, doesn’t it? Considering that everyone in Game of Thrones is in violent conflict with somebody else, this could imply anyone, or (as I would theorize) multiple characters. The recently released second trailer for season five spells it out a little clearer:

So based on the trailer, we have battles in the North and on the other side of the wall, rioting in the streets of King’s Landing and Merreen, and Daenary’s intentions to “break the wheel.” I suspect the first episode will also set the table for some or all of those battles. I also expect some individual battles to be included in these “Wars to Come” such as Cersei vs Jamie, Cersei vs Margaery, basically Cersei versus anyone.

Episode Two: The House of Black and White
The next three titles are more clear cut than the first one. For all you need to know about The House of Black and White, I submit this picture:

Obviously this doesn’t tell you everyone that goes on there. But it does tell you where the name
comes from and who is heading there. But the bad news about this title is I doubt we will see any of Arya in episode one. This house is where her story arc is taking her and I doubt (at least I hope) the producers will waste a lot of time with Arya sitting on a boat doing nothing.

Episode 3: High Sparrow
In order to understand who the High Sparrow is, I present this photo from season 2. This is when then King Joffrey (R.I.P. you cruel bastard) incited a riot in the streets of King’s Landing after someone threw poop at him:

That arm being held up is the arm of the High Septon, the man in charge of worshipping the seven in all of Westeros. This particular High Septon, if paid the right price, turned a blind eye to the sins committed by the crown. The High Sparrow is the man replacing that High Septon. I will save my profile of the High Sparrow for the full season primer in a couple of weeks. But for now, I will say the Sparrow will not be like the old High Septon.

Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy
I will not say too much here, since I feel like it would spoil too much of the first three episodes. I will simply say that the “Sons of the Harpy” will cause a lot of problems for one of our main characters this season. This is unlikely to be the first time we’ve seen them in season five, but I expect the realization of just how significant a threat they are will come at this point.

 

Next Week: Dragons-Their history and their potential impact for season five.

 

(This article was written by 4LN GoT expert, Jeff Merrick.)

Game of Thrones 101: Religions of Westeros

The following is the second part of a six part series preparing for the start of the new season of Game of Thrones, starting April 12th. Last week, we reviewed where the key characters finished last season. This week, I will be looking at the religions in Westeros and what role they play in the world of Game of Thrones.

In regards to the television series, the religions the various characters practice in Game of Thrones merely served as a background up to this point. And unlike the books, where the knowledge of the religions comes directly from the characters whose minds are telling the story, the TV series does not give much in regards to the origins and practices of the individual religions. But the importance of the individual religions will be increasing for season five and be central to at least one (but probably more) of the important conflicts. I will start with the North and the first religion practiced in Westeros.

 

The Old Gods

The Old Gods were worshipped by the Children of the Forest (one of these appeared in the show for the first time in last season’s finale throwing fireballs at the skeletons jumping out of the ground to assist Bran and company…still cannot believe I am typing that). When the first men came over to Westeros on a land bridge, they fought for thousands of years with the Children. But after agreeing to a truce, the first men took to the old gods of the Children. Worshippers of the old gods pray and hold important ceremonies, such as weddings and taking vows (Jon Snow and Sam took their Night’s Watch vows before one), before weirwood trees with faces carved into them. The faces were either put there by the Children or by various worshippers representing the eyes with which the old guys use to see over everything.

 

The Seven

The next invasion of men came in the form of the Andals, who came over as crusaders worshipping the seven. They believed their mission was to proclaim their faith to all and eliminate the practice of any other religion in the lands they conquered (or Westeros own version of Manifest Destiny). The Andals were able to claim and subdue all the kingdoms and lands in Westeros except the North. As a result of this, the North still worships the old gods while the rest of Westeros worships the seven.

The seven is a single deity represented by seven different faces. They are the father representing judgement, the mother representing mercy, the warrior representing strength in battle, the maiden representing innocence, the smith representing labor, the crone representing wisdom, and the stranger representing death and the unknown (awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/The_Seven). A worshipper will pray to whichever aspect meets their current need.

The Seven are led by the High Septon, whose resides in the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing (Joffrey’s wedding and Ned Stark’s beheading took place here). Various Septs (houses of worship for the seven) are scattered throughout Westeros and led by Septons and Septas (male and female rulers respectively) of the faith.

Many of the wedding and burial customs witnessed on the show originate from the worship of the seven.

 

The Drowned God

The Iron Islands worship the drowned god, a god of the sea who is in constant battle with the storm god. All iron men are baptized, having saltwater poured on their head by a priest, or drowned man, and say “What is dead may never die,” believing that even if one drowns or dies in battle, they will simply join the drowned god in the bottom of the sea and serve him for eternity. The baptizing ceremony was shown during the 2nd season when Theon Greyjoy returned to the Iron Islands and decided to join his father and betray Robb Stark and the North.

The priests of the drowned god, the drowned men, are drowned at least twice. But their second drowning is a full submersion into water until they lose consciousness. They are then resuscitated by another of the drowned men. But not all resuscitations are successful.

Of Note: The Andals invaded and conquered the Iron Island successfully, just like the rest of Westeros. But the Andals who took over chose to convert to the drowned god instead of continuing to practice the worship of the seven.

 

R’hllor (the Lord of Light)

The best way to describe “the Lord of Light” is that cryptic god Melisandre is all melodramatic about all the time, making sacrifices and starting fires over and such. Stannis’s allegiance to Melisandre has brought the Lord of Light into the world of Westeros in a way it had not appeared before.

While rare in Westeros, R’hllor has numerous followers and temples throughout Essos (the continent where all the free lands are). They believe the world is a struggle between two forces: Rhllor, the lord of fire and life and the Great Other (think of him as he who shall not be named for all the Harry Potter fans out there), the lord of ice and death. Melisandre explained this struggle to Stannis’s daughter, Shireen, during a scene in season 4. Worshippers of R’llor also believe that a savior, Azor Ahai, will come wielding Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and bring an end this mighty struggle. Melisandre believes Stannis is Azor Ahai, as depicted by a scene in season 2 when Stannis grabs a sword from a fire in a ceremony presided over by Melisandre.

Priests of R’hllor often look into a fire for guidance and will see visions they believe to be the future. Sacrifices of unbelievers or royal blood are common place as well. And while trial by combat is not exclusive to worshippers of R’hllor, they believe that victory or defeat in a trial by battle is determined by R’hllor’s justice. Such a battle was shown in season 3 when Beric Donadarion fought the Hound with a fiery sword.

Of Note: Thoros of Myr (member of the Brotherhood Without Banners who drinks a lot a brings the occasional person back to life) is a red priest. Also, the Lord of Light, up to this point, is the only god in the world of Game of Thrones whose followers have exhibited any supernatural powers (such as Beric’s being brought back to life by Thoros of Myr, Melisandre drinking poison and living, and Melisandre giving birth to a shadow that killed Renly Baratheon).

 

Other Religions

Other faiths old and new will appear in the show this season and will play a significant part. But I focused this on gods we’ve already seen during the show. I will discuss new faiths as they appear.

 

Next Week: Deciphering the Code: The released episode titles are out at what they mean for the upcoming season.

 

(This article was written by 4LN GoT expert, Jeff Merrick.)

4LN Local Spotlight: Imaginary Theatre Company

 

Inebriated Shakespeare: a Theatre on Fire(ball)

Ever gone to a play, and thought to yourself, “this would be so much better if I were drunk”? As an (ex) theatre person, I often find myself thinking, “this would be so much better if the actors were drunk.” Apparently, Nashville’s own Imaginary Theatre Company has had the same thought. Their most recent production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) offered a special, two night only treat…INEBRIATED Shakespeare. (Drunk, y’all. That means, drunk.)

How does that work? Shakespeare can’t be drunk, he’s dead.I can hear you saying, because for the purposes of this article, we’re pretending you all care about Shakespeare as much as I do…just go with it. Well, dear reader, what it means is that I got to witness the realization of every actor’s secret dream/nightmare! Drunk actors, drunk-acting the multiverse of Shakespeare. About fifteen minutes before curtain, the three amazing, and brave performers, Asa Ambrister, Robert Coles, and Angela Gimlin, gathered on stage to draw lots. The night I attended, the stalwart Angela got the short straw, and was forced to take five shots of Fireball Whiskey before the show even began. Weeeeeaaaaak,” I hear you saying, “That’s 3pm on a Tuesday in my world.” Well, friend, it didn’t end there. During the course of the 90 minute production, audience members could purchase shots for any of the performers, upon which the lovely stage manager would stop the show and administer shots, like punches to the proverbial groin.

So, full disclosure; I have seen …Complete Works… before, and I hated it. It could have been me being all stuffy and un-funny, like I do, or maybe it was immature actors trying too hard. Perhaps it was a bit of both, but I really didn’t like it. I was sort of excited to see it done again, and soused. I was pretty sure that nothing could save it but some special sauce. I was wrong. All it needed was three seasoned comedic (and improvisational) actors who know each other well enough to wing it when they must. It needed Robby, Angela, and Asa.

The show began without a slur, but also without missing a beat. This trio made Shakespeare understandable, side-splitting, and clever before the whiskey even took hold. Asa Ambrister’s frantic and flouncy “pre-imminent Shakespeare scholar,” opened the show with gusto. The audience was on board from jump, and most of us (most of us) hadn’t even started drinking yet. It was a BYOB event, complete with an audience drinking game handily printed in the program. Actors never like to suffer alone. We quickly ran through Romeo and Juliet, and the first of several repeat gags; drag, more drag, some violent fake vomiting, and some truly inspired “feminine” giggles and screams, (way to really punch that B, Robby. “BAAAHHHHHHHHH.”) all of which should have gotten old, but never did. All three performers were forced to take their medicine numerous times during the first act, but Angela Poooooooor Angela. They said they cut her off at 12, but I still swear that I counted 15. It was somewhere during Titus Andronicus as a cooking show (which, in and of itself was hilarity with a side of noggin pie and nubbins) that we started to lose her. While kneeling in front of Asa, waiting for her line, she started to aimlessly draw on his shirt with flour. That’s how it began, but it quickly devolved into much giggling, so many goosings of Asa, and threatenings of the audience with violence (in an adorable way), falling during costume changes, and spontaneous bouts of cussing. I believe Robby broke his finger. I was pretty sure Asa was going to chunk his cookies at one point (Asa doesn’t drink). And I think, although I cannot corroborate, that one, or all three of the cast members may have ended up going home with “Lillian,” an audience member with whom they all became enamored. In short: It. Was. Freaking. Fantastic. Hands down, this was this most fun I have had at the theatre in years. Oh, I have missed theatre being fun. It all left me with little doubt that, even sadly sober, their version would have taken me to church and made me a convert. Incredibly well done, you three.

That leads me to the sad part of this humble review. “Where can I see this masterpiece of befuddled tomfoolery?” I hear you imploring. Alas, poor reader, I have no happy answer for you. The show, ah…the show does not go on. Inebriated Shakespeare closed the very night that I discovered it. Never again shall I hear Angela yell, “come at me!” while grabbing her boobs. Never again shall Asa’s Hamlet dissolve into fits of giggles. (I mean, unless he does some new, and very bizarre interpretation of Hamlet, which I would totally be okay with.) Never again shall Robert’s dulcet tones ring through the halls just before he pretends to puke in my lap. (See above, re: bizarre interpretation of Hamlet.) It’s a sad day, my friends. A sad day. And yet, there might be hope

Dear Imaginary Theatre Company,

I don’t know if you caught my review of Inebriated Shakespeare for 4LN? Let’s just say that I loved it. I am a fan. I want to bring all of my friends. But, as you know, it’s over. Curtain’s down. No more Fireball to be had. I’m bummed. My friends are bummed. Then I looked at your season. It’s a good season. So, I just thought that I would write you a polite letter to say; “OH MY GODS, YOU HAVE TO DO DRUNK STEEL MAGNOLIAS!! Seriously, you guys. Do it for the money. Do it for charity. Do it cause no one else has the lady balls to do something so crazy. Do it because, it would be effing hysterical. Look, I get it. Drama, and integrity. And, like, the height of very dramatic drama. People die, there’s lots of crying, it’s all very intense. But that’s the POINT! You should marinate that sadness in a handle of Wild Turkey, sell t-shirts that say “I got tanked with Ouiser Boudreaux,” and slices of armadillo cake at intermission, then give half of what you make to a charity for diabetes. Sure, I sound like an awesome philanthropist. Don’t get me wrong. I super love to give. But mostly I just want to see Drunk Magnolias. Drunk. Magnolias. BOOM!

Yours Truly,

Melody Dobbins

(Ps… I will be needing Robby to play Annelle, and Asa to play Clairee. I am assuming Angela will be playing everyone else, because she’s fabulous.)

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Melody Dobbins. In addition to being a supermom, and theater nerd, and, like, a REALLY good writer, Melody also runs her own business, Milk & Magpie Naturals.)