This year a lot of hype has been generated this year by Star Wars: The Last Jedi and it’s hard for many other movies to escape its massive shadow. Well… at least for the kinds of movies I watch anyway. Even with a few movies in 2017 breaking the billion dollar barrier they still get pushed to the side at the prospect of facing against Jedi both old and new.
Television is still a great alternative when going to the movies is inconvenient or my Internet speeds have dropped to less friendly levels. And though I haven’t watched as much Nerflix this year as I had done previously (thanks to aforementioned Internet issues) I still did get in a decent amount of time which has become my source of all things binge worthy.
Way too much to see on TV
After all the hype for Danerys Targaryen finally coming face to face with Jon Snow in the latest season of Game of Thrones it was the secondary characters that brought with them some of the best moments. The Hound always seems to find a way to steal the show even when it might just be to tell someone to “f*** off”.
Another of my recent faves has been The Walking Dead but recently it felt like they were treading water over the whole Negan thing. It’s still hard to know if the most recent events are going to actually change anything – death in this show can come to just about anyone so it’s not all that surprising when it happens now. The trick will be if it drives some actual change that forces the show’s storyline to jump onto a different track.
Marvel’s series on Netflix have continued to be a popular fix for my binge watching and though critics have looked at the year’s efforts as being a mixed bag, with Iron Fist getting the lion’s share of criticism, they’ve at least been entertaining. The big hero team up of The Defenders was fine but seemed a waste of Sigourney Weaver and didn’t really capitalise on the main characters best attributes or how they would mesh. Jessica Jones was in my opinion the best thing in the series and makes me want to see her next season arrive soon. The best Marvel show for me this year was The Punisher which may have been a slow burn but ended on a great note.
And then there was Star Trek Discovery that truly boldy went where no other series in the franchise had gone before. You have a main character who the ship’s crew don’t entirely like or trust, a Captain with his own secret agenda, Klingons like you’ve never seen them before and (shock) Starfleet crew actually using swear words. I’m glad the producers were willing to take the chance to not try and follow on from past Trek because this series feels far less beholden to the franchise than anything before it and comes out stronger because of it.
Like with my gaming pile of shame I had a lot to catch up on the TV front so did my best to do so this year and discovered a couple of gems I’m sure everyone else here is well aware of. The Expanse I had only learned about from IGN articles and it’s been a real joy to watch. Having science fiction television trying to steer closer to realism than fantasy can be a challenge and The Expanse has enough elements of that to make it feel unique. Watching battles play out in vacuum or zero-g are tense affairs and help remind you that space is not a friendly place to live in. The other is Black Mirror, an anthology series that plays out like a version of The Twilight Zone of the digital era where technology is taken into disturbing directions. Shows like this enjoy throwing twists at you often and Black Mirror is certainly not shy of doing it but thankfully not always with the results you might expect. The latest season even has a little bit of something special for Star Trek fans which was a highlight for me and worth watching.
The dilemma that is Star Wars
Wow. Who would have thought a Star Wars film could become as divisive as The Last Jedi? I mean there were plenty of angry fans when The Phantom Menace first arrived with plenty of Jar Jar naysayers but I don’t think it anything near the anger that has spewed forth on the days following 2017’s take on a galaxy far, far away.
I’m going to try my hardest to avoid spoilers but be warned that there may be enough ahead to reveal some aspects of the film’s plot or how it might play out.
The film’s trailers did hint at the prospect of “out with the old, in with the new” but I think that few of us actually believed it was as truthful as it turned out to be. Usually there’s some subtle twist on what the outcome will be but no… this is going to happen and it did. You really have to admire Disney and Lucasfilm for being so willing to take a big risk in shaking up the franchise like they have done.
With Carrie Fisher’s sad passing a year ago it seemed like there was a chance her role would be diminished in this film to avoid explaining why Leia would not be in Episode IX. But it really seems like everything was left in which was a better way for fans to say farewell. In terms of the three characters from the original trilogy, Leia is the one that remained most true to who she was and remained that strong leader for good.
Luke Skywalker’s role in the film, played incredibly well by Mark Hamill, is where many of the divisions occur because the direction it takes the story is likely to surprise, maybe even shock, a lot of fans. How it is interpreted is up to the viewer but one thing is clear and that the story is following its own path and trying its hardest to not end up being the almost expected take on The Empire Strikes Back.
The Last Jedi isn’t a perfect film – between moments of spectacle, and there’s some amazing moments in there, you also unfortunately find a lot of filler that to me just doesn’t seem necessary. Some of it may be intended to be part of character lessons (mostly centred around failure) but it shouldn’t be at the expense of being a well paced film. If how the film plays out was always intended to happen within the new trilogy it also makes me wonder if one film is even going to be enough to close it out satisfactorily or we are going to see even more to follow.
So, what’s to come?
Right now the movie I really want to see is the film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s book Ready Player One. How anyone would think it was a chance to get a book that operates like an 80’s pop culture encyclopaedia to be even possible from a licensing plot of view is beyond me but they got perhaps the only director who could even make it happen with Steven Spielberg. I doubt there is anyone else who could have got so many companies willing to give up their IPs in exchange for cameos so I’m hoping that the reward will be a movie that can do it all justice.
Next in line is Avengers: Infinity War which has a lot to live up to considering it’s coming from the same team behind Captain America: Civil War there’s bound to be a few big moments mixed in with MCU shaking changes too. There’s already a few less than complimentary responses floating around regarding Thanos so let’s see if the movie changes people’s thoughts.
The future of Star Wars may be revealed more in this year’s Han Solo film which was rescued at the last minute by Ron Howard. It’s a tough job to be brought in when filming is almost complete to suddenly have to steer the film back in a direction expected by the producers but if he can pull it off that’s an impressive bit of work. Rogue One proved already that there is material galore to mine from the Star Wars saga that doesn’t necessarily need a person named Skywalker to be involved and if the Han Solo film succeeds then we could see a while lot more movies like this happen.
Netflix have a pile of Marvel shows on the way this year with at least Iron First, Jessica Jones and Daredevil making an appearance this year. With Disney’s impending purchase of Fox Film and Television assets time may be limited for Netflix to make the most of the situation. For the rest of us… we might need to consider signing up for Hulu or a new Disney streaming subscription service soon to get our Marvel fix. Maybe if my Internet issues get resolved later in 2018 as planned, my time on Netflix may ramp up further but for the time being I’ll do what I always can a try to keep working against the ever increasing tide of shows coming in. So much TV, so little time!
All comments are my own and can be attributed to someone who might have too active an imagination to think logically. Maybe I watch too much TV… feel free to share your own thoughts below. 🙂