Monday, June 22, 2015

Game of Thrones Series Review (Season 5)

By: Uel Ceballos

The Season 5 of the most watched TV series today -- the Game of Thrones has just ended last week in the HBO. It was another heartbreaking season finale that sent the fans ranting and raving over the internet. However, what could they do anyway? It has happened. Jon Snow was dead. Or is he really?

Though its first four episodes were leaked on the day that the episode 1 was aired, the Season 5 was still a huge success and that’s quite hard to beat. It surely rattled HBO and hurt the production in one way or another but that experience would surely make them more cautious for the next season. For whoever who did that, please think again before doing such a thing. You’ve scared the hell out of our skins; for fear that HBO might never produce another season again for GOT. That’s unthinkable, but not impossible. Especially that HBO has apparently learned from GRRM some of the cruellest ways to surprise the people. 

The first half of the Season was not as exciting and suspense as the second, but it was neither dragging nor boring. It was arranged in the order that each episode was set to be more intense than the previous one, thus the scenes were building up as the series proceeded. Reviewing now the full season 5, it made sense that the first five episodes were all preludes to what came next in the second half of the show. 

Compared to the previous seasons, this year’s season brought us all around the Westeros from Winterfell, Castle Black, and Beyond the Wall in the North, King’s Landing in the East, to Dorne in the South; with much of actions too in the neighbouring nations of Free Cities, wherein Daenerys and her people trying to control the rebellion in the Mereen; and faint but hard to forget scenes of Arya in the Braavos. 

There were just some few deficiencies, which could have been made better. I’m pertaining to the episode 2 “The House of Black and White”, wherein Jon Snow was elected as the new Lord Commander. Don’t get me wrong. The episode was good. However, it lacked the emotion that I looked forward to – the same level of extreme emotion that I felt while reading it from the book. The episode did deliver a strong transition on Jon Snow’s character, but it was still made better in the book. Nonetheless, I’m sure people who hadn’t read the book were sure overwhelmed when they watched it. Imagine hailing your favourite character as the youngest elected Lord Commander from being the often bullied bastard of the Winterfell. This particular build-up however, was pulled to the deepest down, when Jon Snow was betrayed at the Season Finale (let’s talk more of it later.)

There were many instances that the series stayed out of the book’s context. While some of it were bothering for the GOT readers fan, truth must be told that HBO has done excellent changes in the story. I’m a fan of the book, but HBO changes were not bad at all. Making it Sansa Stark instead of Jeyne Pool was a brilliant idea. I’ve been wanting to see more of Sansa’s exposure in the show – well, more exposure but not as the weak Stark second-born that she was. I’ve sensed it from Ned Stark’s death, that Sansa would turn to be wiser and braver but her transition was so slow that I have considered giving up the hope. Arya is my favourite Stark female character, but it didn’t mean I don’t like Sansa. I hated her for being the meanest sister that she was to Arya (and to Jon) but her character got so much potential. I wanted her to grow strong as Arya and get brave as Daenerys' (a part of me even wished that she get fiendish enough to match with Cersei). Okay, tell me about it, I just couldn’t get enough of the women’s epic demonstration of power and bravery here. 

I didn’t like the death of Maester Aemon and Ser Barristan here -- another plot changes from the book. Though perhaps, GRRM had really the intention of killing the characters in the succeeding books after “A Dance with Dragons”; and they just made it earlier in the TV series. I’m disappointed with the fact that Daenerys wouldn’t be able to reunite now with her oldest living kin. And it was sad to see Ser Barristan gone but I knew it has to be made in able to give the slot to Tyrion, as Daenerys’ adviser (because for sure Ser Barristan wouldn’t let a Lannister get close to Daenerys). I don’t know if this will ever happen in the book 6 “The Winds of Winter" of which the GOT fan readers have been waiting for ages. But I hope it will. Because having the two as tandem makes the Game of Thrones more exciting than ever – imagine Daenerys having to face Cersei, with Tyrion on her side. I just couldn’t wait. 

The second half of the Season from episodes 6-10 was relentless and brutal to the viewers. Yes, it was cruel and ruthless to our feelings. Very inconsiderate. I rarely cried over a series (okay it's a lie, I cried over Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, True Detective etc.). It sent us gaping until the ending credits, with nothing in mind but, “What the hell has just happened?” Even though you’ve read the books from cover to cover, still you wouldn’t be spared. Because of the changes in the plot twist, GOT readers had not the slightest idea of what might come next in the following minutes of each episode. Each ending would send the fans ranting over the net that they were done with GOT, that they would never watch it ever again. Of course, it was all a lie; they would be the same persons ranting again the following week for another painful ending. The last five episodes of the season 5 never fails in giving us a blast. It made us anxious for the next weekend to come so we could watch the continuation.

Sansa getting raped and the mass killings in the Hardhome were two of the most shocking events in GOT TV history. The first one being upsetting; and the second being horrifying. Both made me clasped my hands to my mouth, while shedding tears as silent as I could. It wasn’t in the book, thus I was stunned. Let’s not forget as well the chaos in the net brought by Princess Shireen’s death – two weeks before the Fathers’ Day. It wasn’t in the book as well, and this I couldn’t really believe. How could Stannis do that? What was with all the affection and love he showed in the earlier part of the show? Then I remembered it was Game of Thrones after all. It took pleasure in killing the most loved characters. Should we worry now for Tyrion in the next season??

The season finale “Mother’s Mercy”, though not surprising at all for the readers (because it was in the book), still created one of the greatest upheavals among the GOT fans over the net. I couldn’t blame those non-readers who were devastated after seeing Jon Snow, lying lifeless (or is he really?) in the snow. Somehow I sensed it that they were going to end the season that way just like in the book 5. And yes I know how merciless indeed to give us such a ruthless cliff hanger. Though I sensed it, I wished deep down in my heart that HBO would change it. All for the same reason that I don’t know if Jon Snow was really dead for good or if we’ll be seeing more of him in the season 6 and book 6. Only then in the release of both (TV and Book series) will we find out. There are numerous possibilities and including in those is the possibility that Jon Snow may be really dead for good. Remember, it’s Game of Thrones by no other than GRRM. Many had probably vowed to not watch GOT again because of Jon Snow’s death but I bet they don’t mean it – not even a bit. For now all we could do is to wait, no matter how agonizing it is. 

As for the production, there was nothing negative to say. Things were all close to perfection. The wights and white walkers sent me a shivering fear and I just couldn't thank them enough for not visiting in my dream. I couldn’t compare it with the Walking Dead because first and foremost I don’t see any competition between the two TV series. However, one couldn’t deny the excellent make up, prosthetic, and CGI works in Game of Thrones from the walkers, dire wolves, to the dragons and even to the entire breathtaking landscapes. This TV series is setting the bar high for the standard of TV series with high fantasy genre. The visual effects are stunningly exceptional, not to mention the casts who perfectly fit the role that they are assigned to play. Once again the GOT show had kicked the notch higher in its rating. No doubt that this series is among the strongest contenders for this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. 

Every year, I’m rooting for Peter Dinklage for the Emmy’s Supporting Actor. However, he hasn’t shown much for this year due to the limited exposure he had in the season. But all his acts were as great and admirable as ever especially those scenes he had with Emilia Clarke. It just that, we all know that Dinklage has got more to show for his fans and that we will keep looking forward to. 

Lena Headey and Maisie Williams got most of the opportunities in this season to demonstrate their acting prowess. Their respective characters and scenes had given them all the chances and they apparently gave their best on it; resulting to their extremely good performance. Williams deserves the recognition for being so much effective as Arya Stark, and no one could argue on how the role fit her perfectly. Headey on the other hand, deserves her long overdue Emmy award. She played the role of Cersei with great mastery. Cersei is hated and abhorred; but despite that fact, GRRM never forget to present her human existence; that though in the wrong way, Cersei like anyone else, also know how to love as a mother, as a daughter, and as a woman. And Lena Headey nailed that! She was able to portray the hating Cersei, the wicked Cersei, the mother Cersei, and the woman Cersie. Wondering now what taking Emmy so long!

To cap it off, what else can I say but Game of Thrones Season 5 was a helluva epic show!

Top 10 Best Movies of 2015 That I Have Seen So Far (January to May 2015)

by: Benj Ramos

2015’s first half has offered us excellent film experience. Local movies, however, need to catch up. Probably because most of the Pinoy film festivals happen in the second half (Cinemalaya, QC Cinema, C1 Originals, MMFF, World Premieres etc). So far we got two local films in the list, we got an entry from the first Sinag Maynila Film Festival that lands the number ten spot, a 2014 American film that only premiered this year in the Philippines, and more British films. 

10. BAMBANTI- Zig Dulay

This Sinag Maynila film entry is about a struggle of trust from a mother to her son. It all started with a lost golden watch, and the son becomes the suspect. It invites us to become the judgmental audience. Has several good moments and better performances as expected. 


Should be included in the 2014 list but the Philippine release is 2015. Based from the writing of Mrs Hawking, Theory captures story of a collapsing relationship and a building future. Redmayne deserves the acting recognition. 

8. CINDERELLA - Kenneth Branagh 

Faithful to the plot, it is the fairest retold,rehash, reinterpretation of a bedtimes story-- of them all. It proves that it doesn't have to be dark to enhance visuals and story lines, or to meet the need for 3D or 4Dx. Simple ,elegant and charming. 

7. KID KULAFU - Paul Soriano 

It wanders through an old Mindanao of boxing, agriculture and kulafu. Excellent performances from Buboy Villar as Pacman and De Rossi as the infamous Dionesia. A fairy tale without glass slippers but a boxing gloves instead. So far,it wins the boxing match of films. 

6. SPY - Paul Feig McCarthy and Statham give wonderful performances in this punchy comedic approach of a spy film better that is than Johnny English. Imagine an obese CIA woman who's tasked in her first field assignment. 

5. SHAUN THE SHEEP - Mark Burton, Richard Goleszowski

I always think that a silent film can only last for at least 20 minutes. Beyond that it becomes dragging. But despite the exchange of baas and ughs and mumblings, it'll surely not bring you to sleep. Charming, sincere, and simple. There's no best time to show a sheep film but on a Year of the Sheep. 

4. AGE OF ADALINE - Lee Toland Krieger 

After a tragic incident, Adaline, a well spoken and eloquent woman, found herself forever 29 as she tries to escape not only from being experimented but also running from the chance of true love. Subtle, touching and emotional. Go watch it and be in love. 

3. PREDESTINATION - Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

A very thought-provoking time travel film with a paradox idea that is not meant to be understood but meant to be experienced. Travelling in time is always confusing that's why you will never get a full closure with it because it creates more questions than what it answers. One of the best time travel films. 

2. MAD MAX - George Miller's Mad Max is a hyperbolic post apocalyptic experiment mixed with so much hype, adrenaline, estrogen and breast milk. Be ready to be on the edge of your seat for this 120-minute lunacy is like a waterworld in the desert. Make sure you bring your dust mask, a bottle of water and an inhaler. 


Ambitious, violent and ultimately heavy-on-comedy celebration of the old-school British spy movie. Not a bad premise for an offbeat modern art experience. The church scene will always be my favorite. Lemme tell you a spoiler--- the film is excellent.