‘Dragon,’ ‘Rings,’ and ‘Andor’ start slow but get better

I know I complained in my last post about how much I don’t care about all these new shows, but some of them did get more interesting since then.

I will start with “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Amazon Prime). Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is a great character, and one that didn’t get a lot of screen time in the movies, so it was nice to see her story. I enjoyed some of the new characters also. I especially loved Nori and her bestie, Poppy. It struck me as touching and sort of rare to see their friendship in a show like this. Men dominate the books and films so it was refreshing to get some girl power this time around. (Fiona Apple’s beautiful voice singing “Where the Shadows Lie,” at the end of the season finale, was the icing on the cake.)

The series was beautiful and well-cast, but it took its sweet time to get interesting. It wasn’t until the last episode or two that it started to pick up the pace. That was my main beef with this series and in the slow category, it’s the worst offender on today’s list. There were some interesting twists and it would have been nice if they got there sooner. That being said, I will for sure be watching Season 2, which is already in production.

Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and Rhaenerya (Emma D’Arcy), “House of the Dragon.”

I was not thrilled about “House of the Dragon” before it premiered and I didn’t love the first couple episodes, but it grew on me. Because of its slow start (and because the last season of “Game of Thrones” was terrible and left a bad taste in my mouth), Season 1 of “House of the Dragon” doesn’t hold a candle to the first season of “Game of Thrones.” But I am definitely now hooked and want to see what happens next.

Like “Rings,” “House of the Dragon” is beautiful – the sets, the costumes, the special effects (dragons!), and the cast were all great. Paddy Considine and Matt Smith were wonderful of course, and I was happy to see Olivia Cooke as the adult Alicent, as I liked her in “Ready Player One” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”

I thought it was interesting that there was such a strong focus on motherhood and childbirth, although it was difficult to watch some of the scenes, as they were so heart wrenching. This series also had a female friendship, albeit one that has soured (to put it mildly).

The women characters got the short end of the stick (as usual), and even Alicent, who seemed to be holding all the cards, was not much more than a pawn. As Rhaenys pointed out to Alicent in the penultimate episode: “You toil still in service to men: your father, your husband, your son.”

Alicent is even somewhat sexually beholden to her spy (the creepy Larys) who has a fetish for the queen regent’s feet. I would like to say that was the most disturbing scene thus far in “House of the Dragon,” but there were, unfortunately, scenes that were worse. That’s my biggest complaint about “House of the Dragon.” In this it is similar to its predecessor; I watched “Game of Thrones” despite its “yuck” factor, not because of it. I would also prefer they tone down the violence a little, but I know that’s not going to happen.

Maarva (Fiona Shaw) is one of the best characters in the Star Wars series “Andor.”

The Star Wars series “Andor,” on Disney+, is not yet done airing its first season, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

Sometimes I find it slow and boring and feel too scattered to keep up with the allegorical and political nuances of the series. Other times I am invested, sitting at the edge of my seat and biting my nails.

Diego Luna is an amazing actor, reprising his role as Cassian Andor, and I also love his adoptive mother Maarva (Fiona Shaw), and Rebel leader Vel (Faye Marsay, who portrayed the waif from “Game of Thrones”). It’s also cool to see Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) again.

It is well done, and well-cast, but it is depressing, with all the oppressive Imperial forces, but I guess that should be expected from a franchise with the word Wars in the title.

Marvel

If you haven’t already watched the Marvel special “Werewolf by Night,” check it out. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Laura Donnelly, it’s an homage to old-timey horror, and perfect for Halloween. It was released Oct. 7, on Disney+.

Wrapping up Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” in theaters Nov. 11, and “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” Nov. 25, on Disney+.

The new year will bring Phase Five, beginning with the movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” in February. The first TV series of Phase Five will be the second season of “What If … ?” The first new TV series of Phase Five will be “Secret Invasion.”

Credits: Top photo, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” Amazon Studios; “House of the Dragon,” HBO; “Andor,” Disney Platform Distribution; “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Follow Earth to Shawna on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Earth-to-Shawna-1476049362698628/?fref=ts

Sci-fi to watch, read, and love

897264_2448775After getting CBS All Access so I could watch “Star Trek:  Picard,” I finally got around to watching “Star Trek: Discovery.” It exceeded my expectations. Admittedly, my expectations were somewhat low, due to the online hate for the series, which is part of the reason I took so long to watch. The other reason: I didn’t want to subscribe to yet another streaming service. My opinion is it’s totally worth it. You get “Picard” and “Discovery,” and the other Trek series are available as well.

I love that “Discovery” changed up the typical Trek structure. Normally, the captain is the main character, but that is not the case here. Also, this is the first Trek series in which a black woman is the main character; Sonequa Martin-Green is awesome as science specialist Michael Burnham.

Burnham is a human but she was raised by a Vulcan – Sarek. Yep, Spock’s father. She and Spock are step-siblings. (The show begins about 10 years before the events of the original series.)

I’m confused by the criticism surrounding “Discovery.” From what I’ve seen so far (I’m in the middle of Season 2), the series is true to the values of Star Trek, but is even more intense and suspenseful. It’s full of surprises and twists. Do I love every single episode? No. But there have been hits and misses in every Trek series.

If you want a nice diversion from current events, which will keep you on the edge of your seat, check it out. (Production on Season 3 is delayed and is expected to continue later this year.)

‘Limetown’

e85087c0-df45-11e9-8978-8fc02aeeebe7_800_420This Facebook Watch series is a remake of a podcast. It stars Jessica Biel as a journalist whose uncle (Stanley Tucci) mysteriously disappeared, along with 300 others, from an experimental town. I enjoyed Facebook’s offerings “Sorry For Your Loss” and “Sacred Lies,” so I decided to try this one, which was a little creepier than I would have liked, but it was addictive and made me want to keep watching to see what new secret would be revealed in the next episode. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after the first season, so the 10th episode is a cliffhanger and we never get to see how the story ends.

‘The Book of Koli’

the-book-of-koli-careyYou may remember a 2014 novel called “The Girl With All the Gifts,” by M. R. Carey. If you’re into zombie apocalypse stories, you’ll love it. It has since been made into a movie, which I haven’t seen. I can only tell you the book was crazy.

Carey’s new novel, “The Book of Koli” is a post-apocalyptic story too, and it’s just as engrossing as “The Girl,” but I enjoyed “Koli” even more.

The new book is about a teenage boy who lives in a village walled off from the murderous vegetation and cannibals which threaten their lives. When Koli starts questioning the power dynamic of the ruling family, everything changes.

From the first page, I was immersed in this dystopian world, and I didn’t want to put it down. I can’t wait to read the second book, “The Trials of Koli,” which comes out in September.

mark-your-calendar-clipart-48

Many, many films and TV/streaming series have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Wonder Woman sequel will not be released in June as planned; it has been pushed to Aug. 14. The Marvel film “Black Widow,” starring Scarlett Johansson, has been changed to Nov. 6.

umbrella-academy-season-2.-poster-1jpgNetflix suspended filming on all productions including Season 2 of “The Witcher.” The fourth season of “Stranger Things” has been postponed. Filming wrapped on Season 2 of “The Umbrella Academy” in November, but post-production was affected by the shutdown. Release dates are still in limbo.

While we don’t yet have a release date for Season 2 of Amazon’s “The Boys,” it is reportedly still on track. I’m looking forward to binge watching it this summer. Another Amazon Prime series, “The Expanse,” has also wrapped filming, but no word yet on whether the pandemic will postpone the release of Season 5.

Disney shut down production of its Marvel series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “WandaVision.” New release dates have not yet been announced.

Of course, with sci-fi, post-production is going to take longer on these special effects-heavy films and series, than on productions that don’t use a lot of effects. And even the films  which are ready for release will be delayed due to theater closures.

“The Mandalorian,” Season 2, is still expected to be released on Disney+ in October. In fact, it was recently announced that they’re already working on Season 3. Disney+ will also be releasing a documentary about the making of Season 1, which is planned for May 4, aka Star Wars Day.

space-force-steve-carell-lisa-kudrow-netflix“Space Force,” which is being described as “The Office” in space, will premiere on Netflix on May 29. It stars Steve Carell, and is created by Greg Daniels (“The Office,” “Parks and Recreation”).

Daniels has been busy; he also has another show coming out soon, an Amazon Prime series called “Upload,” about a “digital afterlife.” “Upload” will premiere on May 1.

What other sci-fi and fantasy films or series are you looking forward  to seeing? Have you discovered or rewatched an old favorite? Tell me in the comments or on my facebook page!

Credits: “Star Trek: Discovery,” CBS Television Distribution; “Limetown,” Facebook Watch; “The Book of Koli,” by M. R. Carey, Orbit, April 2020; “The Umbrella Academy” and “Space Force,” Netflix. 

2020-04-22 00.25.02

Follow Earth to Shawna on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Earth-to-Shawna-1476049362698628/?fref=ts