Game of Thrones Trailer

It’s finally here. The trailer for the highly anticipated second season of the break out HBO smash Game of Thrones. If you haven’t read the books or seen the first season stop reading this now, click HERE. No seriously, you need to read these books, they’re kind of amazing. Anyway, back to the teaser… It begins with a riddle that fans of the series know well. As soon as I heard it I got chills.

Three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man. Between them stands a common sellsword. Each great man bids the sellsword kill the other two. Who lives, who dies? Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall and a very small man can cast a very large shadow.

As Varys the eunuch names each player in the riddle we get a brief shot of the corresponding character in Westeros…

The King = Stannis Baratheon (a new player for season 2 played by Stephen Dillane)

The Priest = Melisandre (another new character and one we shouldn’t underestimate ;) played by Carice van Houten)

The Rich Man = Tywin Lannister (a familiar villainous face played to perfection by Charles Dance)

The Sellsword = Sandor Clegane aka The Hound (look for him to have a much larger role this season, yay for Rory McCann!)

As the riddle continues, the closeups of our main characters continue…

A terrified Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and a fierce Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)

My personal favorite Jon Snow played by the beautiful Kit Harington staring into the white abyss of the wilds beyond The Wall

A defeated looking Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in an unending desert wasteland

That little shit Joffrey Baratheon with his intolerable smirk sitting on his throne; played brilliantly by Jack Gleeson

A heartbreaking shot of Sansa Stark enduring her torment :( Sophie Turner breaks my heart here

The sinister Cersei Lannister played with icy strength by the always fantastic Lena Headey

Next up is a shot from the prologue… which I wont spoil :)

Then the return of fan favorite Arya Stark played by the adorable Maisie Williams

Robb Stark looking very much the rightful King of the North in the pouring rain (Richard Madden *sigh* so handsome)

The captured and shamed Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) covered in mud and sporting some impressive scruff

And finally… The Man himself, Tyrion Lannister, the imp, and if Peter Dinklage‘s Emmy and Golden Globe are anything to go by, probably the best character on the show

From here we get short glances of a bunch of different scenes. Renly Baratheon, Theon Greyjoy, Margaery Tyrell, and Brienne of Tarth are all in blink and you’ll miss it moments.

My opinion…this trailer was exceptional. My excitement level is now at a 10 and will probably remain there until premier night, April 1, 2012.

I expect season 2 to be much bigger in terms of ratings and fan reactions. These books have gained an enormous following in a small amount of time thanks to the superb first season. People will want to know why everyone is talking about fantasy again, and once they see the show, well, they wont be able to look away.

 

“The Grey” Movie Review

Last night, my father, younger brother, and I went to see the new Liam Neeson movie “The Grey“. From various television commercials and a few scattered tweets, I heard this movie was pretty good. It didn’t hurt that I just finished a re-watch of the epic “Taken” the weekend before and was on a bit of a Liam Neeson high.  I must say that the movie more than lived up to my expectations.

What I Liked:

  1. The lack of cliches. Although at times mildly predictable, most of the twists were wholly unexpected. The jumps were genuine and terrifying, just the way I like it. Also, the black guy doesn’t die first! Way to break the mold :)
  2. Fully formed characters. Obviously Neeson’s character Ottway was going to be developed but I was pleasantly surprised by how attached I got to the secondary characters as well. The story does a nice job of giving the viewers at least a little back story on each of the survivors.
  3. The plane crash. Holy S***. That is all I got to say.
  4. The wolves. They were scary, like really scary. The CGI was subtle and well done. The full wolves are seen only briefly, but the director does a great job of using small aspects about the them (i.e. their breath, their eyes, their howl) to keep the tension high.
  5. The unrelenting pace. For me, the movie’s pacing is awesome. It bounces perfectly from action to tension and back again. There was a specific scene that got my heart rate up so high I could barely watch. With the exception of an important sequence towards to end which really takes its time (and rightfully so) this movie never really gives the audience a chance to breathe (an accomplishment by the way).
  6. The ending. It will inevitably have its fans and haters but I definitely fall into the former category. I loved it. It made sense for the movie and it was kind of profound. Neeson pulls it off brilliantly and the cut to black actually had me applauding. It took *ahem* balls to end it the way they did so props to them.

 

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The very beginning. It was a little weird and, to be honest, overwrought. It felt like it was trying too hard to be cool and edgy. It also doesn’t really fit with the rest of the movie.
  2. That one repeating flashback. By the 10th time I think I got the picture…

 

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

 

The Forgotten Problem

In this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal I happened to come across an article written by Matt Ridley called “The Mounting Tragedy of Missing Baby Girls“. The article quickly summarizes a growing problem in the global community; specifically, the ‘girl deficit’. In a nutshell, the natural human “sex ratio” (the percentage of boys relative to girls) is being dangerously skewed by the preference for males. This is particularly true in China, some portions of India, and other emerging Asian nations where sex-selective abortions have risen in popularity quite dramatically.

This is not a particularly new phenomenon, but it’s one I happened to write about last year for a political science class. I focused on the geopolitical/security implications of China’s “one child policy”, but also touched on related issues. You can read my entire paper here, I think it does a pretty good job explaining the horrific future consequences of cultural trends like this one.

One of the books I mentioned in the paper is called “Bare Branches” by Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer. They take a position similar to Ridley’s. Another book I reference is called “Unnatural Selection” by Mara Hvistendahl. This one takes a slightly different stance and, in my opinion, suffers from almost terminal political correctness. Hvistendahl’s obstinate refusal to blame the easy availability of abortion for the “missing girls” lessens to impact of her argument. In the end she does acknowledge that male preference will ultimately harm these Asian societies, agreeing with the thesis brought about by Hudson and den Boer.

This issue has hugely important moral and national security implications. It is one of the most significant human rights issues of our era and deserves more attention. Kudos to Ridley for using his pulpit to raise his readers’ consciousness.

The Games Are Coming….

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Prepare yourself for the next phenomenon. Like Harry Potter and Twilight before it, The Hunger Games started out as a wildly successful young adult book series. Endorsed early by Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight), The Hunger Games soon formed a solid fanbase. As the books slowly gained popularity, whispers and rumors of a movie deal began to overwhelm the fandom. These rumors proved true and soon enough a production studio (Lionsgate) and a director (Gary Ross) signed on.

Even though this was exciting, it was obvious that the most important part was on the horizon. Enter casting. I have never experience a casting like this movie had. The anticipation was at ridiculous levels, and almost every young actor in Hollywood was rumored to have read for one of the three leads. The hype became so large that mere mentions of an actress having the script made it to the front page of entertainment websites across the internet. In the end, Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence snagged the coveted main role of Katniss Everdeen, while former child star Josh Hutcherson, and Miley Cyrus’ boyfriend Liam Hemsworth (younger brother to Thor star Chris Hemsworth) were chosen as the secondary leads.

Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson)

As with most teen audiences nowadays, this news was met by disgust as well as jubilation. Some people loved the casting and some despised it. As a fan myself, I thought that the casting was spot on. Jennifer is obviously talented and can hold a movie all by herself. She dyed her hair brown for the role and now looks like Katniss as she is described in the books. Josh has a face that can’t help but be loved, an integral trait of his character Peeta Mellark (the hopeless romantic baker). Liam is gorgeous and strong, just like the guy he’s playing, Gale Hawthorne. However, the backlash against this casting was definitely apparent; with supposed “fans” vowing to never see the movie just because Josh isn’t as tall as Peeta or because Jennifer isn’t skinny enough to play our heroine.

*Rolls Eyes* all I can do is laugh really because this disdain brings me all the way back to the last time a popular teen series was put on the big screen. During those early days, when the studio announced who would be playing the male lead, the vitriol on the message boards of almost every fansite was off the charts claiming this weird British guy would ruin the movies forever. That “weird British guy” had a name, Robert Pattinson, and the movie, Twilight, went on to be a huge hit and launched his career into the stratosphere. The success of the movie was in large part thanks to the overwhelming obsession with its male star, Pattinson. He became the object of a million girls’ crushes and is now among the biggest teen stars of our time.

So I’m not worried, the fans will come around eventually. Even with the few naysayers, the anticipation for this project has reached epic levels. Movie experts are predicting a huge opening weekend for the project, helped by the inevitable sold out midnight shows (tickets go on sale February 22). I believe that The Hunger Games will preform well at the box office and that its stars will become instant household names. But the question everyone is asking is will it beat Twilight? Hmmm…. Well the movie premiers in late March, hardly a big summer blockbuster, and the stars are still relatively unknown. Taking all that into consideration, I think it will blow Twilight out of the water. Here are a couple of reasons why…

  1. I have never seen such passion coming from this number of people regarding one film
  2. It seems like the fandom grows exponentially by the day
  3. It appeals to both guys and girls (unlike Twilight)
  4. It has a gigantic presence on Twitter and other social media platforms
  5. People genuinely like this book and think its well written setting it apart from Twilight
  6. The way the the trailer preformed on Youtube was ridiculous and record breaking
  7. Now that Twilight is over, the fans have to see something… Right?

 

This might be just wishful thinking on my part because I want the struggling studio to greenlight a sequel as soon as possible, but i do legitimately believe The Hunger Games will be among the most successful films of 2012. So get ready to hear a lot about it in the near future.

Daily Links

Here are some of my favorite pieces from this morning regarding the New York Giants…

  • George R.R. Martin (author of the Song of Ice and Fire series) talks about his favorite team HERE
  • A cheeky little post about the Giant’s official Twitter feed laying into the Jets… HaHa :)
  • The debate is finally over (for the next two weeks at least) Eli is Elite
  • What grades would you give the G-Men? Find out HERE
  • Apparently Big Brother was in San Francisco last night…. Hmmm
  • This one is really good :) Destiny

60 Minutes

It was always going to come down to this, wasn’t it? 60 minutes for a Superbowl, but somehow it’s so much more than that. The trophy is nice, but this game somehow seems bigger. When Baltimore’s kicker missed that chip shot, I knew. The universe wanted this game to happen.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind to the beginning of the Giant’s game against San Francisco. From the start it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be a shootout. It was old school football; ground and pound and ugly weather. The Giants were wearing white and their game showed all over their jerseys. Eli Manning was battered by a superb 49′er defense but he somehow fought through it all to keep the Giants alive for one more night.

The win was a team effort if I ever saw one. Every phase of the game needed to come up big. The defense was perfection on 3rd down, the offense avoided mistakes and made plays when it counted, and special teams, well, they won the game for us. The 49′ers had prided themselves on their turnover differential all season. They didn’t cough up the pigskin, like ever. All I have to say is regression to the mean baby. They couldn’t be that good for that long. Mistakes were inevitable, and I’m just happy we had players their to capitalize on them.

Lawrence Tynes stopped himself this time and waited for the onslaught. This time he he didn’t sprint away from his teammates, this time he stayed.

I feel like I’ve been here before… Overtime. A sudden-death kick. The New England Patriots waiting on the other side. Yes, you can duplicate moments in time. Yes, you can recapture the glories of your past. Yes, this was the 2007 season all over again.

The story lines of Super Bowl XLVI will be obvious, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. The memories of a lost perfect season. The hope of a much-maligned quarterback perpetually in his older brother’s shadow. With the world watching, get ready for a great one, perhaps the best one.

Some quick Eli stats that I thought were important:

  • Eli Manning made the most important play in regulation when he connected on a 17-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Mario Manningham on third-and-15.
  • Eli had become the first quarterback in NFL history to win five playoff games on the road.

In a quote that summarizes everything Eli is about he acknowledges 4 years ago but keeps his head. “You can say they’re similar, but it doesn’t mean the outcome is going to be the same. … I’m sure there’s going to be comparisons and that’s fine, but that’s not going to make anything guaranteed.”

The player’s reactions were brilliant, especially the new guys that weren’t with us last time. The punter, Sam Weatherford, who had a monster game, ripped off his helmet clearly exclaiming “We’re going to the f****** Superbowl!” Victor Cruz, who also came up huge, ran around like an idiot, high stepping and not knowing what to do. Just taking it all in, and reveling in that feeling of invincibility. But my favorite reaction comes from Tom Coughlin; the disciplinarian, the old guy, the washed up coach always fighting for his job, cracked one of his rare smiles and I knew it was for real :)

This team believes that their great, perhaps even more than they did i

n 2007. I remember that frigid night at Lambeau Field. I had no expectations, nothing to go off of. I was just kind of enjoying the ride. This year was different. I’ve already seen this movie, experienced that jubilation, and cried those tears. Maybe that made it worse. This game took a lot out of me, because I knew we could win. The Superbowl will be the same…

Only this time the Patriots aren’t undefeated.

Only this time the Giants won’t shock a soul by beating them.

My Evening With Ken Burns

Last week I had the awesome opportunity to attend a private talk with Ken Burns. For those who don’t know, Burns is the man behind those massive American documentaries on PBS. Among his most famous works are The Civil War (1990), Jazz (2001), and The National Parks (2009). These multi-part epics are astoundingly popular and shown all over the world. I was somewhat familiar with his work before I attended the presentation, but I had no idea to scope of his influence. As I entered the room, it was clear to me I was the youngest one there by quite a large margin. I really shouldn’t have been surprised. Before the presentation there was some time to mingle with the other guests and actually meet Burns himself. My grandmother pushed me passed some important looking suits to meet the guest of honor and I actually got the chance to talk with Burns one on one for a few minutes. We talked about inconsequential things; where I go to school, what I want to study, his family, etc. But it was still pretty cool :)

 

The presentation that evening had a focus on Burns’ upcoming documentary centered on the Roosevelt’s; specifically Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor. What struck me immediately was how passionate he seemed to be about his work. It was obvious how much he loves what he does. But beyond that, it was obvious how much he loved the subject of his work, namely American History. I cannot even explain (but I’ll try) how refreshing it was to hear from someone who legitimately loves this country. The overwhelming political rhetoric of today is how far this country has fallen and how doomed we are to fail. Both sides of the aisle are guilty of this fear mongering. It can be exhausting. So imagine my surprise when instead of telling us how much better the country used to be, he was telling us how great it is today. He mocked the Occupy Wall Street protestors by comparing our recession to the horrors of The Great Depression. He wasn’t cynical or terribly sarcastic, instead, he was genuine in his love for the United States. Frankly, it was inspiring.

 

My favorite part of the presentation however was how he talked about Abraham Lincoln (his favorite American of all time). Burns impressively quoted him at length entirely from memory. There was one quote in particular that struck a chord with me. It stuck in my head all night because it rang incredibly true, “As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” Lincoln said this when he was only 27 years old. Its accuracy is stunning. There is no foreign power that can ever destroy us; I believe that wholeheartedly. If we as a country fall, it will be at our own hands. That is why what Ken Burns does is so essential and so important. He ensures that we don’t forget where we came from; the mistakes and the triumphs, the glory and the shame. He keeps our history alive at a time where we tend to forget it. So overall, the night was memorable for reasons I didn’t quite expect. I don’t hesitate in saying that Burns is a genius and I am anxiously awaiting his next project.

A Triumph of Feminism

I was reading Rich Lowry’s post titled “Dude, Where’s My Lifeboat?” at National Review Online and thought I could expand on his thoughts regarding the current state of Chivalry.

 

I think we can now set the exact time and date that chivalry died. When the cruise ship off the coast of Italy started to sink eyewitnesses talked of the mad rush towards the life boats. Big men pushed women with small children out of the way to secure their place on a lifeboat.

 

What we are witnessing is a triumph of feminism. Congratulations feminists, you have finally won. No longer do we have the wallow in the hell of female stereotypes. We are just as strong and have exactly the same wants and needs as men. I mean look at all those men embracing feminism so wholeheartedly. They should be awarded in my opinion.

 

Its startlingly obvious that my generation has grown up with this pseudo-feminism thrown in our faces at every turn. Having gone to an all girls school for fifteen years, I’ve probably faced more of it than most. It’s not like its a wholly bad thing, I mean I’m happy I can vote and all that, it’s just that we’ve taken it too far. When women started getting mad at guys for holding a door open for them and giving up their seats on the subway, there was no turning back.

 

This cruise ship meltdown puts the issue into perspective. It’s a little disconcerting that the sinking of a giant ship is what it takes for people to start discussing this issue. I believe that the biggest problem is the entitlement factor. In my experience, most young girls go through life thinking their entitled to preferential treatment exclusively because of their gender. This mind set is reenforced by the school system and by their home environment (Internet, TV, Parents).

 

Don’t get me wrong though, I wouldn’t want to go back to the days where women couldn’t be educated and existed for the sole purpose of popping out sons. But it would be nice for women to be more appreciative and for men to be a little more courteous.

 

But maybe I’m asking too much. Lets face it, what real men go on Carnival Cruise Ships?

 

Hail Yeah!

This feeling is kinda familiar… at least to me. I remember the 2007 New York Giants playoff run, and I particularly remember their divisional game against the Dallas Cowboys that earned them a trip to the frozen tundra in Green Bay and a date with a resurgent Brett Favre.

 

I remember that game because I hate the Cowboys more than any other team in the league and that year they had beat us twice in the regular season. I remember that game because for probably the first time all season I did not watch a Giants game in the comfort of my family room, instead, I was invited over to my Grandparents house to watch it with them. I remember that game because my Grandparents had also invited our Parish priest to come over and watch the game, and watching a game in the presence of a priest is something you don’t really forget.

 

The game was hard fought and close. But Tony Romo didn’t let us Giants fan down and threw a bad interception late to seal the deal. I remember being shocked, like legitimately shocked. We weren’t supposed to win, I was at the age where I believed everything the “experts” had to say and from their perspective, the Giants had no shot. So imagine my surprise when my Dad drives me home already talking about how the Giants will match up against Green Bay.

 

The next couple of weeks are magical, some of the best of my life as an all around sports fan. And I always look back on those weeks, especially after our win in Dallas, and think to myself that there was a specific kind of feeling that I had that made the whole thing seem kinda inevitable… like, excuse my cheese, destiny. When the Tynes kicked the ball through the frozen uprights, I cheered, when the ball somehow stuck to Tyree’s helmet, I screamed, and when Eli threw that perfect pass to Plaxico in the back of the endzone, I cried. But through everything I thought to myself, well yeah, obviously, we’re the team of freakin’ destiny.

 

I haven’t felt that way in all long time. Even the next year when we had a fantastic regular season that probably should’ve ended at the Superbowl. But that dream died when our number one receiver shot himself in the leg by accident…

 

I felt it last night. Like for real felt it. When Eli’s Hail Mary found its target I flashed back to 2007. This team, I think, has that feeling as well. There are not a lot of guys left from 2007 but there are enough. I mean we just beat the best team in the league by 17 points, and that was with 14 points gift wrapped by the awful refs (come on, everyone with eyes knew that was a fumble). I think that the Giants have too much momentum and the players are sensing that inevitability. A lot of things need to happen before the Lombardi trophy is raised once again, but for some reason the road looks clear and inviting.

 

This was supposed to be an analysis, but I realized quickly that its hard to analyze destiny. Maybe I’m too big of a fan to look that last night with any sort of objectivity. But even people who do that for a living are saying that this team is special in a rare kind of way.

 

Oh an if they lose next week, well……………… haha just kidding, they wont lose :)