Posts Tagged ‘Breaking Bad’

Actually, the real title is: “Is Violence in Movies Okay as Long as it Involves Good Guys like Soldiers, Superheroes, cops, etc.?” 

You can see why I decided to keep cut it down to a couple of words. When I was a kid, I lived on Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Black Hawk Down. The only other movies I watched beside those involved dinosaurs. (Land Before Time and Jurassic Park marathon, anyone?) However, I wasn’t allowed to watch movies with gangsters until I was much older. When I was allowed to watch those types of movies, I was accompanied by my parents, and that too had a price to pay: a long lecture on why I shouldn’t be a criminal entitled, “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

Why? Any ideas of mine to become a gangster or a con man were squashed whenever I watched movies like the Godfather, Goodfellas, or shows like the Sopranos or Breaking Bad. They are the single greatest testaments of why you shouldn’t become a criminal. Michael’s descent into the darkness after he is forced to take over the family business is reason enough for anyone to go “straight”. You can see it in his anguished reaction when his pregnant wife is killed. You can see it in the haunted stare he gives his wife in the closing scene.

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It sends a clear message. “You may have a mansion, but are you really ready to deal with losing everything you hold dear?” I have watched the Godfather over a dozen times, and I still ask myself that same question after each viewing. This question is also asked in Tv shows. In the past decade, we’ve experienced a growth in ‘prestige television’. The Birth of the Antihero technically began over fifty years ago with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, wherein he regularly made ‘good people’ do bad things. There was an episode called ‘Revenge’ where a woman is raped (implied, of course. This was the 50’s. Everything was implied), and when she and her husband are driving, she spots the rapist walking down the street. Her husband pulls over, and they kill him. They get back in the car, and drive away. A few minutes later, she points again, and says she’s spotted her rapist. 

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In that single episode of an anthology suspense series in the 50’s, it approached the subject of rape, psychological trauma, vigilantism, and of course, revenge. So, as you can see, we’ve had morally ambiguous characters for a very long time. I remember watching the Sopranos for the first time. My Dad was worried that I might resort to a life of crime because of it, but I simply kept asking myself the same question I asked during Godfather.

The thing that makes the Sopranos so addicting and visceral to watch is the fact that I would never do anything like it, and the realization that Tony Soprano never thought he was capable of doing it either. He’s unhappy with his family, his work, and more importantly, himself. There is a scene where Christopher (his nephew) talks about his trauma after killing someone, and Tony oh-so-subtly asks him if he ever feels depressed. His sideway glance at him says: “Did I do this?”

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Why is it okay for thousands to die in superhero movies (the best example right now is Man of Steel. I assumed by all the screaming and falling buildings that a couple thousand died there), but it’s deemed immoral for a gangster to kill a few people in a movie? Why are children allowed to watch Captain America kill hundreds with barely any effort (as long as there’s parental guidance), but watching Al Pacino shoot the man who tried to kill his Dad and a corrupt cop not allowed? Of course, there’s also a matter of sexual content in some of these movies, and also the amount of swearing. For years, Goodfellas had the most curses in film history. I think Django Unchained got the crown in 2012, but Scorsese stole it back with Wolf of Wall Street. 

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I hope someday there will be a PG-13 movie centered around a gangster. I’m not saying it’ll be any good, but the idea behind it will be more than enough. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my favorite superhero movie, by the way), no one talks about how Steve Rogers is a cold-blooded killer. It’s mentioned here and there, but our thoughts don’t dwell on the number of men he casually kills. Why? Because they’re bad, and he’s a superhero. 

I’m not asking Marvel to pull a DC, and force Chris Hemsworth to talk like someone kicked him in the throat over a dozen times. (In the eternal Marvel vs. DC debate, I’m with Marvel all the way.) I just think it would be interesting if people took a look at what they’re already allowed to get away with in PG-13 movies, and took it to a different level. There was talk about a Deadpool movie, and how it would be impossible to do a PG-13 version. I think they’re right, but if it’s acceptable to show a dinosaur munching on some random guy, why isn’t it acceptable to show a morally ambiguous character doing morally ambiguous things? (“How ambiguous!” the posters say.)

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In the first Hunger Games movie, they used shaky cam a lot to avoid getting slammed with an R-16 rating because of images portraying children killing other children. Ya know, usual PG-13 stuff. Why can’t we do that? I hate shaky cam, but it’s obviously possible to show that kind of stuff, so why hasn’t anyone tried it? As an experiment, it doesn’t have to be big budget. 

Here’s where the big divide between mainstream films and indie films come in. There seems to be this unspoken rule in indie films that they need  to have mature content. It’s as if the director and writer wants to make sure the viewer knows they’re watching an indie movie. “Okay, let’s show them changing clothes here, and talking about killing their estranged father. They’ll never mistake us for the new Avengers movie now!” 

Indie movies are supposed to be showing you something new and different from mainstream movies, but more and more mainstream movies are adopting an “indie” feel. The Wolf of Wall Street is a mainstream film based on its HUGE budget alone. But, its mature subject matter, morally ambiguous main character, and… well, everything in it shouldn’t be allowed. At this point, if indie movies truly want to be different, they should try a PG-13 movie with a hitman as a main character. It could be a failure, but indie movies are already risking a flop every time. It’s strange how they’ve fallen into their own little pattern, or their own safety net. I sometimes feel like you could take ten indie films, switch the actors and titles, and it’d still be the same. 

I grew up watching Saving Private Ryan. I wasn’t mature enough to understand a lot of the things in it, but the images have remained with me after ten years. I despise the idea of war because of it. I understand its necessity in certain situations, but as much as possible, I would avoid war like the plague. Because it is a plague. 

I think it’s time for people to understand that kids aren’t as impressionable as people think they are. I haven’t heard of a thousand kids jumping off skyscrapers to imitate Thor or Superman, so I think they’re smart enough not to copy Tony Montana in Scarface. 

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~Jian

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This won’t be a long review about its Midseason Premiere. This is just going to be a short post, telling the tale of how I came to watch the Walking Dead… Yeah. I’d leave now, too.

I started watching the Walking Dead when I had nothing else to watch. Yes, Breaking Bad, Person of Interest, Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, Nikita, Bones, and Castle had no new episodes to offer me. I was rather hesitant, to be honest. I don’t watch horror movies. I get scared very easily. I do read horror, though, since it’s quite comforting. Everything happening to you seems like rainbows and flowers in comparison to killer clowns and zombie apocalypses.

Anyways. I watched it, and it was… good. It would suffice. I had to skip a few scary bits. Yeah. I’m a coward. Sue me. I really liked the character of Glenn and Rick. Disliked Carl, Andrea, and Lori. But Glenn and Rick made it worth it.

As you know I’m Asian, and there aren’t a lot of shows with Asian characters. I don’t think networks are racist – it’s just that the writers didn’t really have that in mind. No biggie. And no, Indians do not count. They’re technically Asians, but they practically have their own continent, they outnumber most of the other Asian countries, and… Well, we look nothing alike. I just want a few Asians that look like me.

But yeah. Glenn’s one of those few Asians. He’s pretty damn awesome, too. I mean, come on. Have you- Hold on. So. Season 1 was pretty good. Season 2 made me skip half of the episodes and beg for some interesting parts.

I’m not saying there should be zombie killing action per episode, but really… It’s basically just one whole, “Shane might be the Father. Rick actually knows. Carl’s annoying.”

Yeah. Not my type. But season 3… Now it’s getting somewhere. This is now one of the best dramas around. Honestly, the midseason premiere was epic.

Norman Reedus’ character is also one of the reasons I’m still watching the show. I like the tormented characters of Rick and Glenn. It appears Glenn’s maturing, and Rick’s having a bit of a breakdown. Always great to watch.

I want Andrea and Carl to die, though. And considering the very nature of the show, that may just be possible. Let’s hope, huh?

Anyways. I just want to say that you should watch the midseason premiere. You probably are, but I’m still telling you to do it. If you haven’t watched Walking Dead, give it a shot. Won’t hurt. Unless you get a seizure from watching it. In which case…

But yeah. Season 1 was pretty good, season 2 was meh, and now season 3 is great. I’m trying to find another show to watch during the wait, however… Any suggestions?

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Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it? On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman’s life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously – and unbeknownst to her – had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future.

Wow. This is a great show. Though not officially airing till September 17, some kind stranger out there took the time to upload the Pilot episode, and I had the pleasure of watching it with great anxiety. Why? Well, Revolution, as some of you may know, is one of the most anticipated shows of the entire year. What would the love child of Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural) and J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Alcatraz) be like? Well, that’s Revolution. Eric Kripke, you see, created Revolution, as well, and J.J. Abrams took the position of Executive Producer.

It’s quite obvious from the content of the show. As you can see from the description above, life is not at all the same. In fact, life has basically reverted back to the 16th-18th century, and the short little flashbacks that the characters have (don’t worry, it doesn’t halt the flow of the story) about the past when electricity still worked really delivered a punch of awe and sadness throughout the story. The character of Aaron (portrayed by Zak Orths) was a great addition to the cast, simply because he would reminisce of his past throughout the story by telling the other characters tid bits that showed you just how much the lights going out changed everything.

Another character that you should definitely watch out for is the character of Miles Matheson, portrayed by Billy Burke (Police Chief Charlie Swan, Twilight), a former United States soldier, who, in the words of his own brother is “only good at killing.”

He’s a window to the past, and is the representative of what you would look like if you were to simply give up. Early on, he shows great precision and skill, despite drinking constantly. I was honestly skeptical how Billy Burke would be able to play this part, but he exuded a certain sadness and hopelessness through his acting that really made the story real.

Now, some of you might rage at me mentioning him last, but of course, not least; Captain Tom Neville. Who, you may ask? Why, he is a Militia Captain portrayed by the Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Gustavo Fring). His character was chilling throughout the Pilot episode, and prepare to be assaulted by Breaking Bad flashbacks as his character is just as, if not more, awesome as Gustavo Fring. This is a man to watch out for, if you ask me.

Now despite being a near flawless Pilot, if you nitpick deep enough, you will find flaws. Such as the love interest of the main character, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos). Now, I’m not saying romance is the thing that makes it bad. Not at all. It’s just that her love interest is very confusing and his actions will constantly cause your brow to furrow throughout the episode. Now, I have no doubt that this is not the fault of the writers, seeing as how in order to understand his actions, you would have to reveal plenty of backstory within a short time period (43 minutes) and if you were to do so, you would sacrifice a lot of the story. I also have no doubt that the writers will wrap this little loose end soon enough, and that this was probably their intention, so it really isn’t much of a flaw; more of a plot tool.

Now, I have said far too much, and I fear of revealing any more of the plot, so go watch it. You hear? Watch it!

Or else! I’ll do to you what Miles Matheson did above!