This is Carl's Brain
The Walking Dead “Something They Need”

walking dead ocean siders

The episode prior to the season finale is typically a fast paced one with lots of action and the occasional death or two of a significant character.  Something They Need was more of a table setting episode.   I can only expect that the finale will finally be the start of the war between the Saviors and all of the rest of the communities minus the Oceansiders.  The positioning going on is reminiscent of the Allied forces in World War 2 aligning to take on the Nazis, with some participants being more reluctant than others.

 

Sasha

Surprise.  Surprise.  Surprise.  I would never have guessed that Sasha’s ill-conceived attempt at assassinating Negan would result in her being captured.  This whole story line has reeked of utter stupidity, and it is one of the weaker ones in the show’s history.  Now Sasha is behind bars.  She tries to trick Eugene into giving her a weapon, but instead he gives her pills to kill herself.  So much for that plan.  Sasha’s best move is to cozy up to Negan and bide her time until Rick and company attack.

 

Tara

Tara finally spills the beans about Oceanside.  She kept that secret for like all of a week or so in the show’s timeline. At least they managed it without killing anyone.  On the other hand, they did leave a community full of women and children without any weapons to defend themselves against the zombies.

 

Maggie

I will say it again, how the hell did Gregory become the leader of the Hilltoppers?  What group of people would actually get this useless idiot to be their leader?  If there was an election for the head of the donut committee, this dude wouldn’t win.  This is probably the dumbest thing in this show’s history that he would actually be the leader of a group of people.  It almost seems impossible that he hasn’t killed a zombie yet.  Maggie should be smart enough to know that she can’t trust him and that he’s going to give her up to the Saviors.

 

Dwight

I like the fact that Daryl wanted to tear Dwight’s throat out and had to be restrained by Rick before killing the bastard.  He so has it coming to him.  On the other hand, I do believe that his defection from the Saviors is genuine and that he wants to kill the Saviors.

 

Can we get to some actual fighting, for the love of God?  This has been a bit of a slow build, but I can only hope that when it happens, it will deliver.  I’m hopeful and crossing my fingers.

Movie Review: Kong Skull Island

Kong

Kong Skull Island is an unapologetic action adventure movie that brings King Kong back to his roots in his primitive, shrouded, hard to reach home somewhere in the South Atlantic.  The movie starts during World War 2 with an American and a Japanese soldier fighting to the death in Skull Island, but most of the movie takes place immediately following the Viet Nam War.  The movie has an all-star cast with Tom Hiddleston as the British no-nonsense tough guy with a conscience, John Goodman as the Kong-obsessed man leading the expedition, Brie Larson as the object of Kong’s affection, and Samuel L Jackson as the hardened military man who doesn’t want the war to be over.  Skull Island features among its inhabitants the big guy himself along with pteranadons, giant spiders, and these vicious lizard-like dinosaurs.

 

In this island, Kong is king and he doesn’t appreciate when his new visitors come detonating bombs and firing at him from helicopters.  My favorite scene in the movie is the early battle scene with all of this military choppers battling it out with Kong.  The American soldiers are in over their head, and Kong lays the smack down on them.  Not all of the humans are bad but clearly Kong is the sympathetic figure here.  All he was doing is protecting his homeland, where he guards those the people and lesser creatures from the lizards.  The action was intense and the fight scenes pretty epic.  This version of King Kong was far better than the previous version featuring Jack Black and I would recommend it.

The Walking Dead: The Other Side

walking dead sasha

The Other Side was a bit of a slow episode.  I imagine this will be the calm before the storm of the last two episodes of the season, which I would imagine will have some more explosiveness.  I’m willing to sit through an episode like this one, but there had better be a pay off.   

 

Gregory

What a loser.  I had mentioned in my last blog post about how utterly weak some of the leaders of the various communities were in the zombie apocalypse, but holy crap, Gregory is by far the weakest.  How the hell did this guy get in charge of the Hilltop?  Don’t they have elections?  It’s hard to imagine that any community, even one of second graders would accept this jabroni as their leader.  He let the Saviors take their doctor and didn’t even try to negotiate, like hey, how about the Saviors have him five days a week, and we get him on the weekend.

 

Maggie

Maggie, by contrast, seems to have gotten over her grief for the most part and is busy preparing the Hilltoppers for battle, providing them weapons training and fabricating new weapons.  She even managed to make peace with Daryl, who for obvious reasons blames himself for Glenn’s death. I think they’ve been a little heavy handed with the whole Maggie is going to be the leader, she’s our future.  I would rather that happen organically, without the show having to overtly say this over and over again.

 

Sasha and Rosita

Sasha and Rosita plotting and then going to assassinate Negan was the focus of the episode as well as its weakest aspect.  They had a lot of slow moving, somewhat dull dialogue scenes with a lot of crying and hugging it out, leading up to their encounter with Eugene.  Speaking of Eugene, his actions in this episode would suggest that he actually wants to be part of Negan’s camp, but I’m not ready to buy into that yet.  I really didn’t get Rosita wanting to be the one who was suicidal about killing Negan and Sasha being reluctant and cautious, only to see Sasha locking Rosita out so that she could take on this suicide mission.  I don’t think it was a well-setup swerve and it didn’t make much sense to me.

 

Yeah, this episode was a little on the dull side, but I’m confident the action will pick up in the next two episodes.

The Walking Dead: Bury Me Here

The Walking Dead Carol

After the last few episodes, which have been pretty enjoyable, I thought the show had finally turned the corner after some pretty lousy episodes in the first half of season 7.  Then they threw in another clunker in Bury Me Here.  I have never particularly liked Morgan, but his character reached new levels of awfulness.  As soon as they started spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on Benjamin, I knew he was a dead man walking, but I didn’t see Richard’s death coming, and the illogical nature of it is why Morgan sucks so much.

 

Carol

I don’t understand why everyone is treating Carol like some delicate flower.  It’s not like she’s some millennial snowflake who can’t handle a little adversity in her life.  Finally, someone (Morgan) told her the truth about the fates of Glen and Abraham.  It’s kind of ridiculous that it took this long.  At least she has broken out of her shell and is willing to join in the fight.

 

King Ezekiel

King Ezekiel is a flat out terrible leader.  I haven’t always agreed with his decisions, but I at least saw the logic in them.  But to give up their guns to the Saviors was just flat out stupid.   You don’t give up your means of protection to your enemy.  Some time you have to stand your ground.  Instead, he wilts like a flower.  And then all it takes is Carol going up to him and saying, “Hey, dude, we need to fight” for him to respond, “Uh, yeah, I guess so”.  On the show you have three awful leaders: Negan, Ezekiel, and the guy running the Hilltop.  How the hell did these people get in charge?   Don’t they have elections in the Apocalypse?

 

Morgan

 

Morgan has officially surpassed Carl as my least favorite character on the show.  So, he’s this ridiculous pacifist, which doesn’t work in the zombie apocalypse, and he finally breaks out of it by killing Richard?  That’s the target of his rage, not the Savior bastards?  Granted, Richard’s plan didn’t work out the way he wanted it to, although he did wind up sacrificing himself at Morgan’s hands, but it was the right thing to do.  He needed to force Ezekiel’s hand, since he was so reluctant to join in the fray.  He was the most sensible person in this whole episode.  RIP Richard.

 

The fight against the Saviors has been a slow build, and I’m cool with that, but not if the episodes are going to suck like this one.  I can only hope they get back on track with only three episodes left.

The Walking Dead: Say Yes

walking dead rick and michonne

Say Yes was all about hijinx on the road with Rick and Michonne.  It was like a college road trip, except they were trying to gather weapons and had to kill a score of zombies in the process.  And then there was Rosita and her follies.  Let’s break it down.

 

Rick and Michonne

 

This sequence had a bit of silliness and a lot of sex.  I guess it’s a good turnabout from the utter misery that was first half of this season with a neutered Rick capitulating to Negan.  This episode reminded me of the episode where Rick and Daryl had a road trip when they met Jesus, except for the whole sex part.  They found their store of weapons, along with food.  It still wasn’t enough to convince Jadis and the mindless drones in her camp to join the fight just yet, but it’s a start.  There were some poignant moments in this episode when Michonne thought Rick had been slaughtered by the zombies, and then their conversation in the car when Rick told her that it didn’t matter if they died as long as they secured a better future for the next generation.  Well said, Rick.

 

Rosita

 

I get why Rosita is pissed, but she’s acting stupid.  This fight against Negan has to be well-planned, well-orchestrated, and a fight that they have to win.  To go half-cocked in some lame assassination attempt isn’t going to work.  They need absolute and total victory.  Father Gabriel and Tara couldn’t talk her off the ledge, and now her and Sasha are going half-baked in trying to kill Negan.  I’m going off on a limb in saying this isn’t going to work.  Rosita needs a better way to channel her anger.

 

Tara is possibly going to tell Rick what she knows about Oceanside (unless of course, Judith is a super spy and is actually going to reveal what she knows to her dad).  By the way, Judith is getting awfully big.  It must be rough growing up in the zombie apocalypse.  This episode was entertaining, but it was kind of a light, throwaway episode before the drama that is to come.

The Walking Dead: Hostiles and Calamities

walking dead eugene

Hostiles and Calamities focused entirely in Camp Negan with the arrival of Eugene and the aftermath of Daryl’s escape.  This episode had some good and some bad, so without further ado, it is time to break it down.

 

Dwight

The show is trying to make Dwight into this sympathetic figure, but I don’t buy it for a microsecond.  I find nothing remotely likeable or appealing about Dwight.  Now that his ex-wife is gone from Neganville, why in the world would he not just take that motorcycle and keep on riding?  He could go south, north, east, or west.  Any direction would be infinitesimely better than his current situation.  He’s an Idiot.  He should have been the one thrown into the fire.  Speaking of which, what could possibly be the upside of framing the doctor for Daryl’s escape?

 

Eugene

Eugene was the bright, shining light in this episode.  I liked how he acted and the evolution of his character.  He started off as this scared, cowardly wuss, but his sly smile showed that he was playing Negan all along.  He once more pulled off the lie of having PhDs and being part of the Human Genome Project, the same lie he propagated on Abraham back in the day.  He may not be a genius, but he certainly has the ability to sound like one and more importantly make others believe that he’s super smart.

 

Negan

The more and more I watch him, the more I’m convinced that Negan is a terrible character.  He’s supposed to be the scary, big bad boogie man, but he comes off as a ridiculous clown.  He’s not remotely credible.  There’s no way he could lead all these people the way he acts.  He’s going to kill the community’s doctor based on Dwight’s world?  That’s beyond Idiotic.  He could never last treating his people like garbage the way he does.  Yes, Kim Jong Un is an insane megalomaniac, but the difference between him and Negan is that the North Korean dictator is so heavily protected that nobody could get to him no matter how much they wanted him dead.  Don’t believe me.  Watch The Interview.  When he threw the doctor into the fire, what would have stopped about fifteen to twenty disgruntled Neganites to bum rush and kill him?  Absolutely nothing.  And taking that sort of chance makes a helluva lot more sense than living the way they do.

 

In the end, this was an entertaining episode but not quite as good as the others so far in this half season.

 

My Oscar Predictions

Best Picture: La La Land – Instead of the more politically motivated movies, Hollywood will elect to go lighter and more whimsical in what should be a dominant evening for this musical.

La La Land

Best Director:  Damien Chazelle

 

Best Actor:  Casey Affleck – The Affleck brothers have the perfect combination of mediocre acting skills and favorable political opinions to make them the darlings of Hollywood.  Denzel Washington might take this since Affleck is being sued for sexual harassment.

 

Best Actress:  Emma Stone – This one’s a no-brainer

Emma Stone

Best Supporting Actor:  Mahershala Ali – He has a strong combination of favorable political views and a very left leaning movie to make this a total lock.

 

Best Supporting Actor:  Viola Davis – this is the safest bet of the entire evening

 

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea – Beats out La La Land by a whisker.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight – The consolation prize for not winning Best Picture.

 

Cinematography: La La Land

 

Editing: La La Land – the Oscars just keep coming

 

Score: La La Land – of course.  It’s a musical.

 

Production Design: La La Land

 

Costume: Jackie – In an upset over La La Land

 

Makeup: Star Trek Beyond

 

Visual Effects: The Jungle Book – This should go to Doctor Strange, but it will still stay in the Disney family.

the Jungle Book

Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge – This is usually won by the biggest, loudest movie

 

Sound Mixing: La La Land

 

Song: City of Stars – No contest.

 

Documentary: OJ Simpson – Hollywood loves fallen heroes

 

Foreign Film: Toni Erdmann – This could go to The Salesman as a political statement against Trump’s travel ban, and we know how much Hollywood loves making political statements.

 

Animated: Zootopia – a slam dunk

 

Short Documentary: Joe’s Violin

 

Animated Short: Piper

 

Live Action Short: Ennemis Intererieurs

The Walking Dead: New Best Friends

walking dead daryl and carol

In New Best Friends the story toggles between the happenings at the Kingdom and Rick and company being captured by the dullest, least interesting, least talkative group in the history of this show.  We see a reunion between Daryl and Carol, and the debut of the spiked zombie from hell.

 

Ezekiel

 

King Ezekiel is determined not to fight against the Saviors, even though the writing is on the wall, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not.  Richard and Morgan take it on the chin—literally—and both of them lose their weapons.  Eventually, King Ezekiel will come to the realization that this is no way to live and join in the fight, but it will take Carol to convince him.

 

Daryl and Carol

 

Richard made the mistake of trying to woo Daryl onto his side by suggesting that they should sacrifice Carol to the Saviors, because that is what it would take to get Ezekiel to fight against Negan.  Obviously, he knows nothing about Daryl, or he never would have made such a suggestion.  Carol and Daryl have a deep bond going back to almost the beginning of the show.  He’s not one to sacrifice anybody for a cause, let alone her.  I understood why Daryl didn’t tell her about the fates of Glen and Abraham so as to not ruin her psyche since she has taken herself out of all of the conflict, but ultimately it’s folly.  She’s going to find out eventually, and it’s not like Carol is some sort of fragile flower.  She’s always been tough, and once she understands what needs to be done, she will do it.

 

Rick

 

Rick gets to show his metal by facing the most ridiculous looking zombie I’ve even seen on the show.  This one was covered with knives and spikes.  No matter how this zombie’s existence is explained, it’s ridiculous.  Either we’re supposed to believe that he decked himself out in that outfit and died that way, or they got a zombie and somehow wrapped him up in this outfit.  It something this show does frequently, come up with a neat visual or special effect, but have no logical way of explaining it.  It’s kind of like the wire in between the cars mowing down the zombies in the last episode.  Either way, Rick took him down with no weapons, and then made a deal with Jadis.  By the way, nothing about this group is remotely believable.  It’s completely unrealistic that this group of hundreds if not thousands could exist with nobody knowing about them.  How do they subsist?  What’s their food source?  Also, they don’t act like actual human beings.  They move around monotonously in circles and formations with nobody saying anything.  Are they people or automatons?  I’m not sure where the show is going with these people, but I’m not liking it so far.

 

Right now, the show is positioning itself for the big battles to come.  The various factions are moving around the board like chess pieces, and ultimately this will lead to Negan’s demise.  Hopefully, before then Jadis and her group will all be killed off.

The Walking Dead Rock in the Road

the-walking-dead-jesus

Rock in the Road was a return to normalcy for The Walking Dead.  The first half of the season was such an utter disappointment, with the exception of the mid-season premiere and finale, that it was refreshing to watch this episode.  Rick and the gang are no longer acting like whipped dogs, tolerating a ridiculous and intolerable situation.  The most memorable moment of the episode was when Rick and Michone mowed down a herd of zombies with a cable going between two cars.  Although I admit the scene was fun to watch, it was also somewhat absurd.  There was no way that cable would have been able to cut the zombies in half like that.  The zombies would have been entangled in the wire, and most like the cars would have crashed together in the middle, but hey why insert realism into a crazy action scene.

 

Father Gabriel

Even though Father Gabriel is hardly my favorite character, I’m with Rick on this one.  I’m not quite sure what Gabriel is up to or how he even knows about the boat, but my guess is that he is doing more than just escaping from Alexandria.  This would be too much of a departure from his character arc.

 

King Ezekiel

At this point, King Ezekiel is playing hard to get.  Rick made his initial pitch, trying to seal the deal with his rock in the road story, but Ezekiel wasn’t buying.  Not yet anyway.  He’s eventually going to join the war against the Saviors, but it will take Carol’s persuasion to get him there.  At least he agreed to take Daryl in as a refuge.  It will take Daryl to convince Carol to join the fight, and she will persuade Ezekiel to join the fray.  Gregory, on the other hand,  is a complete putz.  He won’t be joining Rick in the fight, which means that they will eventually have to overthrow him.  Fortunately, most of the Hilltoppers seem to be willing to fight.

 

I’m not sure who this new group is, but Rick was smiling at the end, which leads me to believe he sees them as allies in this fight.

 

Jesus is once more proving how valuable he is by stealing the long range radio from the Saviors.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game is an iconic science fiction novel that was both a flawed novel and a deeply compelling one.  It is the story of Ender Wiggin, a child genius who is selected by the Earth’s military establishment as the person who is going to be the fleet commander to destroy the buggers—an alien race that has twice invaded Earth.  After repelling them both times, they decide that they now need to attack them on their home planet, and Ender is the weapon they will use.  Before that he goes through space academy.

 

This was a compelling and well written novel.  Right from the jump I was gripped and I remained that way all the way through until the end.  There is a timelessness about the story.  It was well-crafted and intricate in its design.  However, I had some issues with it that knocked it down a peg.  For one thing, it suffered from one of the things that many young adult novels suffer from.  In an effort to make it appealing to a young adult audience, the novel completely abandoned any sense of realism regarding what its main character was capable of doing.  There’s no way the military apparatus of a planet would put the fate of humanity in the hands of a young child, especially the way they did it in this story. No child, even if he was a genius, would be capable of doing what Ender could do.  The same holds true with Ender’s brother and sister.  If you can get past the complete lack of reality associated with forcing this into a young adult novel, then you will probably enjoy this novel, since there was a lot to like.