“RWBY” Season 3 – The Threat and the Cost

RWBY Season 3

   “RWBY” is a show that just keeps getting better. In this we meet more great side characters, have loss and cost, which establishes the threat of our villains and get more of the mythology of the world and how the rules of it work. Seriously, this is one of the best seasons of any show I have ever watched.

      Rooster Teeth has done it again and it saddens me that Monty Oum, the creator of this series died this month (February 1st). He will be missed greatly, he truly was great mind.

SPOILERS ahead

    This season starts out with the Vytal Festival Tournament where different schools put their against each other to win glory for their nation, team and school. Things are not as they appear though as Cinder and the ones she serves plans begin to unfold during the tournament.

The Pros: The Tournament – The backdrop of the tournament is great as it immediately puts all eyes on Beacon and the world is paying attention to Hunters and Huntresses and those who use them, which makes it perfect to turn the populace against them.

The Tone – The tone is one of the glory but also dark as the epic and danger of the fights takes a dark turn and shows that all of this was being used by something much greater.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is once again amazing and really shows the different characters’ personalities really well. The Williams once again do an amazing job.

The Characters – The characters have always been the strongest part of this show, and in this we get more of their backstories and motivations behind what they do as they face the consequences of those past relationships and the end game consequences from them.

Flynt – Flynt is a great minor character. He fights with a trumpet that he uses to play jazz songs. I really like him and the fact that he stands with the heroes in the final battle. He’s an honorable guy who I hope we get more backstory from.

Nora – Nora goes from a character we see rock every battle she faces, to being one of the remaining survivors who still has purpose as she joins the new team at the end to solve the mysteries of the Grimm and stop them.

Penny – Penny’s friendship with Ruby is shown before Pyrrha accidently destroys her when her powers are shown to be more powerful due to illusion spells by Cinder’s team leading to Pyrrha completely annihilating her. I’m glad we get her backstory and got to know her.

Pyrrha – This season is really about Pyrrha as she is given the world changing decision…will she become one of the Goddess Maidens of Fall since Cinder and her team nearly killed the last one. In the end she decides too but is destroyed by Cinder who becomes the Maiden in the process. Her story is a tragedy as we are given a few episodes of her wrestling with the choice.

The Council  – The Council is pretty cool and you get why they chose Pyrrha as Pyrrha is the most talented of the students and has a quite wisdom to her. She sees the bigger picture where others don’t and is wise beyond her years. I also like that the Council doesn’t get along and that Cinder’s plan turns the world against them.

Ozpin – This is the season where we get to see Ozpin’s power as we get to see a God Powered Cinder and him face-off as they come to a standstill. We also see his is the Dumbledore/Gandalf as the rest of the council doesn’t know fully what’s going on with his plans, but trust him with their lives. Qrow is his enforcer we learn too.

Qrow – Qrow is Yang and Ruby’s Uncle and he is awesome. The man who trained Ruby is also a huge drunk who sees just how desperate the situation is and how even when the students think they’ve won it has played into the Darker powers plan. He believes in nothing but loves his family and wants to fight for the good. He is a fascinating character.

Glynda – In this we see Glynda’s power and leadership again as well as her being one of Ozpin’s counterpoints as she is the questioner to hone his decisions. I hope we get more of who she is and her motivations soon.

General Ironwood – The man who has all the robots ends up eating the consequences of last season as Roman and Cinder take control of his army and reek havoc upon the populace of Beacon. I felt bad for the guy as he has thought might always wins, when we learn this time that the Grimm are smarter than that.

Our Heroes – Our heroes are explored more too and thus far this is their darkest season.

Weiss – Weiss’s sister comes to the school and after losing her battles in the tournament she is brought home by her dad who at this point she has turned against. This is her going from her highest to becoming a prisoner from the tendencies and family she’s been growing apart from the last 2 seasons.

Blake – Blake realizes that she isn’t strong enough this season when she faces her lover Adam, who runs the White Fang and just wants to escape as her entire world comes crushing around her. She loses her friend Pyrrha and finds the school she is a part of. I felt bad for her character and hope she can take the White Fang back. Everything she knows has been broken.

Yang – Yang like Blake has her will broken. Her arm is cut off and she has given up. She’s not as strong as she thought she was and she feels the abandonment of her mom leaving and the world thinking she’s a horrible person for punching someone, when really it was just an illusion. She’s one of my favorites and I hope she comes back from her dark place.

Ruby – Like the rest of our heroes Ruby learns she isn’t invulnerable. She manages to freeze a dragon Grimm but she can’t change how the world sees her friends, she wasn’t able to save Pyrrha and she couldn’t stop the Grimm. The season ends with her going out to investigate where the Grimm come from.

Enemies – The main enemies are awesome and really drive the action. Their minions I could care less about (except the Grimm) but the folks have personality and ambition and it makes them interesting.

Adam – Adam is using the Grimm to his own ends so that his people can rule. He’s arrogant and a bit of a Robin Hood/Magneto and I am super curious to see where his arc goes as he rejects Cinder until he sees that Cinder is all powerful and that he can die a martyr or embrace power and use to his own ends.

Roman Torchwick – This “Clockwork Orange” man is back and seeing him cause chaos on Beacon is wonderful as his being trapped by Ironwood leads to him taking control of the A.I. and using the robots on the populace. This guy is always a lot of fun, and he has no powers to boot.

Cinder – This is Cinder’s rise and unless Ozpin can defeat or injure her nothing is going to stop her from causing the end of the world. Seeing her bring her team together was pretty cool as well as her manipulation of Adam. She thinks long term and thus far is the most powerful character we’ve seen fight and win.

The Grimm – We got Grimm for days. Grimm Elephants, Wolves, Bears and a Dragon that takes all of Ruby’s power to freeze (but even she can’t kill it and it knocks her out). Seeing the diversity of the Grimm is awesome as well as their power.

Okay: Jaune – He’s still just of there and his arc only exists to give Pyrrha a choice…given that I don’t care about his character and haven’t been given a reason to, I felt for his pain because I like Pyrrha, but he’s still the most useless member of the students.

Cinder’s Team – Her supports are alright but they don’t have any personality. We learn one is insane and killed his father and the other was a thief but they have no complexity or mystery. Cinder is the only thing making them mean anything. Without her the villains would be weak this season without the greater threat of the Grimm.

   This season really sets the tone for things to come as we see a Lady who is entirely Grimm White naturally with glowing eyes in a hellish landscape saying everything is going according to plan. Hopefully she doesn’t become a Thanos (not doing anything only just implied awesome) and we actually get to see her in action. I’m also hoping Pyrrha doesn’t come back, and she is one of my favorite characters on the show. Death must have consequences and this show deserves to let our heroes face what happened and earn their victory.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

Advertisements

Noah (2014): The Meaning of Humanity

Noah-2014-Banner

We end the first Apocalypse Week with Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah.” This was a film I’ve been curious about for sometime since Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors and it really does have an all star cast, and the subject matter is interesting.

I’ve always been interested in mythology, whether it’s Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Greek, Norse, Egyptian or other…there are so many rich stories that have conflict and premises that are left pretty open ended giving a lot of creative leeway, assuming the director has vision. Aronofsky clearly did for this film.

The story is that after Abel was killed by Cain, Cain’s descendants spread throughout the world and over industrialized it the point of making it a wasteland while hunting down the descendants of Seth who saw it as their duty to protect the world. The story begins with Noah and his father Methuselah doing the ritual of Seth for caring for the Earth. They are than attacked by a tribe of Cain who attack Methuselah. Noah believes him dead and we flash forward. We than see Noah dealing with visions from “God” of the Earth being destroyed which sets the story in motion as Tubal-cain and his men attempt to take the arc and Noah’s wife Naameh and family try to save more of the line of Cain and humanity as Noah resists at every turn. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is fantastic, but I wouldn’t expect any less of Darren Aronofsky. Some of the moments that stand out though is when Noah tells the creation story and it shows us the creation of the universe and the evolution of life on the planet. The other scene is when the flood occurs and the descendants of Cain are destroyed as they fight the Watchers (fallen Angels defending Noah and his family).

The Music – Clint Mansell is one of my favorite composers and he does a great job creating tension in this film. We see this especially when Noah believes it is his duty to keep man from spreading so when Ila is pregnant he plans on killing her children if they are girls. The music has it set so that the ship feels claustrophobic and being trapped with a mad man (Noah). It is brilliantly done.

The Writing – The screenplay is top notch, Aronofsky and Handel did a great job. Every characters’ lines feels real and it does mostly showing rather than telling. Especially as Noah is facing the consequences of what he has done. We are presented with dilemmas. The Canaanites who are men are bad people trying to enslave and kill Noah and his family…but the women and children are innocent…and Noah does nothing to save them. His wife and Ham call him on this, but he ignores it, blinded by his religious devotion to a being who doesn’t speak clearly and maybe is all in his head. It is really awesome.

The Watchers – Giant Rock beings that were once angels who came to fight for humanity. These guys are cool. They start out resistant to Noah and his clan because of how Cain’s line turned on them but in the end fight for Noah as they are rewarded with being returned to Paradise and Noah and his family treat them kindness. They have great designs and good voice acting.

The Line of Seth – They are vegetarians and planters. Tenders of the garden of the world. Kind and only willing to fight as a last restort seems to the theme. They are survivors, but mostly because they know when to run.

The Line of Cain – These are the warriors. Anything weak is prey and the story is empire. In extreme cases they are cannibals because they’ve killed off most of the animals and hunted them to extinction. They are the apocalyptic survivors in the apocalyptic world they created.

The Characters – The characters in this film are really solid. No one is really wasted except for Noah’s son Shem who is mostly a passive character and is only there to protect Ila.

Methuselah – Anthony Hopkins is great as Methuselah. He is found to be alive after Noah receives some of the visions and gives Noah the magic seed that creates an oasis of life that Noah and the Watchers use to build the arc. He doesn’t go with them and dies in the flood after a moment of bliss when he finds a berry. Why he decides not to go is unknown. He seems to be there as a guide and a counter to Noah as he gives Ila the ability to have children when she was barren before.

Naameh – Jennifer Connelly supports Noah but always reminds him of life, which he mostly ignores if it isn’t animal and plant life. She sees the bigger picture and fights him when he plans to kill Ila’s twin girls. You can see how powerless she feels given that she’s expected and told to follow Noah, when Noah, especially when they are on the arc and before hand in how he saves no one else and has gone insane. You can see the trials she faces dealing with that. She is the one truly good person in the film.

Tubal-cain – Played by Ray Winstone, he is the primary antagonist outside of Noah. He is a king and believes that humans were made in God’s image in order to dominate rather than to care and create. He is the one who tries corrupting Ham and almost succeeds as he taps into Ham’s anger at his possible partner being left behind by Noah in Tubal-cain’s attack. He fights to the end and is a crafty and interesting foe. He is survival of the species in the most extreme sense, though his inability to see how in ancestors had destroyed all life is sadly missed. I wish that had been brought up in the many talks he had with characters.

Ham – Played by Logan Lerman, he is the character walking the line between the way of Cain and the way of Seth. In the end when they find land he chooses to go his own way. He wants to learn how to care, since all his actions are tied to his own wants and desires. He does this really well too and you can see why he hates Noah for a lot of the film.

Ila – Emma Watson is the most successful of the “Harry Potter” cast post “Harry Potter” and rightfully so. She is damn talented. We see that hear too where she was a survivor of an attack on the mine where her family was raising her and Noah and his wife take her in. She is barren and it implied she was cut as a child. Because of this she has a lot of fear connecting but is able to heal from literally and figuratively after speaking with Methuselah. She is a great character and defends her children to the end. It is her showing them their innocence that staves Noah’s hand.

Noah – Is he mad? This is the big question throughout the film. So much of the film you are left wondering if it is all just in Noah’s head as he thinks God wants to annihilate man completely given the near extinction of all life by many of Cain’s line. You can see where he is coming from too as miracles do happen throughout the film. The big issue is when the daughters are born and he has to break away from what he believes God’s message is. He believed God wanted them to restore the Garden, so after they help the animals all survive…they would die out. What he misses in his nihilism is that humans are part of the world too and it is only after accepts that that we see him deal with the guilt of letting the innocent Canaanites die and the fact that he nearly killed his grandchildren and planned on doing so for quite a while once he knew they would be born, and if they would be girls. Russell Crowe does this really really well. He is good at playing complex mad characters, which Noah is. We see him wrestle with his decisions and face the reality of his character relationships. He eventually becomes a drunk when they reach land once more but is brought out of it when he is reminded once more of life carrying on…showing that he has changed from the man he once was.

The Message – The message is dilemmas. Is humanity redeemable? What makes a civilization worth saving or not saving? What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we we have as human beings? This film deals with all of this and lets us make our own decision. Noah is not a good person, but he is a human being. It is through his eyes that we are shown the question and can judge Noah for the decisions he makes. This is powerful and makes the film truly a masterpiece.

I’m glad this is how Apocalypse Week ends. This is one of the greatest films I’ve watched, though I can see why so many were torn about it. The thing to remember is to take it on it’s own merits. Like all films it is a story and a good story at that. What message you choose to take from it is up to you as Daronofsky leaves it pretty open ended. He leaves the hope for us with Seth’s line surviving after the flood, but doesn’t say that the flood was Just. That is up to the viewer. The actors and actresses, cinematography, music and writing are phenomenal and I highly recommend to anyone looking for a great film based off fantasy and mythology that lets you find the meaning in it.

Final score is 10 / 10. Shem isn’t a great character, but he isn’t bad. None of the minor characters who don’t get exploration hurt the film in anyway.