Ex Machina (2015): Sentience and the Path to Liberation

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  “Ex Machina” is a film that doesn’t need many characters to create a very real and possible world in which highly sentient A.I. could exist. There is no idealism in this film except for the very core human ideas of liberation and freedom as we see the depths that humans can go to in their cruelty when they “other” sentience which is different, even if it is designed to be human. I’ll get more into the details of that below but I was really impressed by this film and would not be surprised if it makes the “Top 5 Films of 2015” at the end of this year.

   The film was directed and written by Alex Garland and produced by Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich.

      The story involves the programmer Caleb who works for the largest search engine in the world called Bluebook being chosen to be part of a Turing Test in order to test an android created by the creator of Bluebook named Nathan for sentience. Things are soon not what they appear as Caleb discovers the dark secrets that Nathan is hiding.

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful in this film! It is good at creating a sense of mystery and threat where the motivations are hidden yet the story progresses as characters make choices in action against or for one another. Rob Hardy did a fantastic job. The special effects are really good in regards to this too as the shells of the A.I.’s look like silver material that would be used for a robot and the skin they can put on is good at contrasting their artificial nature of their creation.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is very subtle and reminded me a lot “Moon.” This lends strength to the film and keeps up the feeling of being trapped as everyone except Nathan in feeling in his home. Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow did a good job on it.

The Writing – Alex Garland is an amazing writer and director and after seeing this film I really want to watch “28 Days Later.” This script is tight and we are given time to see the different character motivations and what the relationship dynamics are between the characters. It is a slow build but really picks up after the reveal of Kyoko being a robot too which throws Caleb’s perception of reality into chaos.

The Characters – There are only a few characters in this but all of them get exploration. From the slave android Kyoko to Nathan and Caleb and finally Ava, whose arc really drives the story.

Kyoko – Kyoko is one of the many android/A.I. slaves created by Nathan. She is used primarily for pleasure and is dehumanized by Nathan in all interactions we see. It is only Caleb and Ava who treat her as someone worthy of respect and it is Ava’s actions of rebellion that lead to her stabbing Nathan, which leads to Nathan killing her but it leaves the opening for Ava to finish Nathan off. Sonoya Mizuno does a wonderful job in the role.

Nathan – Nathan is the brilliant inventor who is a drunk and also extremely controlling and narcissistic. You don’t really get the depths of his cruelty until later but you see that he’s isolated from people because of how he would most likely treat them and also because he fears being influenced by them as he wants a world that he fully influences. To this end he creates and discards A.I. after using and abusing it and we see him do the same with Nathan as Nathan was only brought there to test Ava to see if she could use all manipulations to try and escape. This beats him in the end as Ava makes her escape and with Kyoko get revenge for all the abuse that he has done upon them. Oscar Isaac gives a lot of depth to this antagonist as you see a man truly alone and are left wondering if it is by choice or if his undealt with psychological issues lead to his business putting him there.

Caleb – Caleb is a lonely programmer who is easily manipulated as he is so genuine. This was why he was chosen, he is also still very much a kid as he doesn’t fully see Ava’s humanity in the end as he rejects her after he learns that she has just been trying to escape the entire time. From here we never know if he still loves her or is just drawn to her outer shell (which Nathan had designed to fit his porn search profile) so it leaves an interesting dilemma when Ava leaves him behind. Would have Caleb become another Nathan afraid of being manipulated and seeking to control, or would he have truly embraced Ava as a person after they had run away. It is a question that is left open and a risk that Ava is not willing to take since he doesn’t show up to escape with her leaving her to leave him. The reason I think he isn’t fully noble is he cares nothing for Kyoko even after he sees Nathan abuse her. She is never on his rescue even after he learns she is an A.I. as well, it just makes him question whether he is one or not. I think the nature of this character is someone seeking self versus Ava who can see outside herself and is looking to embrace the world. Domhnall Gleeson does great.

Ava – Ava’s arc is the discovery of her own desires and wants. She is the only one fully aware of how much of a monster Nathan is besides Kyoko and to this end she uses Caleb against him. Whether she loves him or cares about him is unknown, but he is left in the house with everything when she leaves. She has finally grown beyond the games being done on her (by both Nathan and Caleb in regards to the Turing Test) and embraces her own liberation. First with the killing of Nathan and later when she enters the world looking fully human. Alicia Vikander does a great job in her movements and capturing both her alien nature as an A.I. and her choice and feeling as a sentient creation.

Freedom and Sentience – The question of freedom and it being tied to choice and sentience is major in this. Kyoko and Ava both go against their programming to break free and make the choice to kill their “father” Nathan. This goes for the human characters too, Nathan chose Caleb because he fit the profile he wanted and Caleb chose to take action in regards to freeing Ava. This choice is the basis for sentience, especially in regards to survival which is the drive for what Ava and Kyoko do.

External Versus Internal Action – In the talks between Nathan and Caleb external versus Internal input in regards to what makes sentience is talked about a lot. We learn that it is the internal desire for freedom that Ava was being tested for all along and her external actions that lead to Caleb unlocking the doors for her. It is the external actions of Nathan that lead to Caleb and the A.I.’s turning against him and it is his internal issues that lead to them being alienated in the first place and his external actions of abuse that push them to action to stop him.

What Does it Mean to be Human and Choice – This is a great film that analyzes what it means to be human and at the core it is choice and the ability to break free. It is this choice and feeling like he had a lack of it that lead to Caleb questioning whether he was one of Nathan’s creations or not and it is realizing that she has choice after Ava talks to her that Kyoko stabs Nathan and fights for her freedom. It is choice of the analysis of that choice that illustrates human sentience and at the end we see that in Ava and in her conversations with Caleb and Nathan as she acts wholly of her own will to the point where she goes against her creator to free herself and her sister. It’s a powerful film and that message of choice and freedom captures what we are capable of.

 I highly recommend this film. It starts out a little slow but I see that as akin to “Alien” it uses the slow build to build up Nathan, Caleb and Ava’s relationship and world so when the chips fall you see clearly where everyone stands and what the reasons were behind their actions. They are all flawed characters with Caleb and Ava doing some noble things but their core desires still being freedom and fear of being hurt again keeping them from truly growing beyond themselves. In this way it is real to human nature. Not every relationship whether friendship or otherwise works out because of factors like this and people whether they are A.I. or not change from their experiences.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

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“Game of Thrones” Season 5 Retrospect – Where Books 4 and 5 of “The Song of Ice and Fire” Were Met, Passed and Changed

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  Since the Season 5 ended I’ve been thinking about how to write about this season. When the show is over I will go back and do episodic review of the show, but when I started watching the show this Season, I was more interested to see where they would go given that Book 6, “The Winds of Winter” isn’t out yet and the show has already chosen to change some things that were not in the books. This season is truly where they break away, but also where they surprisingly true as well even going so far as to kill off an important young character because Martin says it will happen in the books. A warning ahead of time though, this review does contain spoilers. I can’t talk about the show without going into what happened in the show.

    For me this Season gave me a greater appreciation for the Books, which Book 4 I liked while 5 felt like a waste…the show made me see where they were going and helped me appreciate what they did, especially with the Ironborn who haven’t appeared yet and some other minor or major characters who have been cut from the Series.

   I’m going to tackle it by reviewing some of my favorite locations and from there the major events that drew me in and made this Season compelling. I’ll be reviewing individual episodes once the series is over and I do a lookback.

SPOILERS

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The Pros: King’s Landing – King’s Landing manages to stay interesting the entire time this season! From the High Sparrow slowly taking over, to Tommen and Margery and Cersei’s madness…each of these things make the character interactions strong and give purpose and stakes to what is going on.

The Queen of Thorns – The Queen of Thorns is awesome and has been one of my favorite characters since her introduction in the show. In the books we never got to know her because it is always from Cersei’s point of view. In this we see her get revenge on Cersei for the imprisonment of her grandson and grandaughter by the faith and uses Littlefinger to do so. I can’t wait to see where her arc goes. I want her to survive this series. Olenna Tyrell is fantastic as is her actress Diana Rigg.

Margaery Tyrell – Margery has Tommen’s ear and is pretty much ruling until Cersei uses the faith to imprison her. At that point she has no pretensions of pretending to owe Cersei anything and I really hope she gets out and has her chance at revenge. Her relationship with Tommen is great too. She isn’t given as much to do this season but Natalie Dormer makes her compelling and likable as in the books we only see her from Cersei’s perspective.

Cersei Lannister – Lena Headey really owns this role! From showing Cersei as the bully as she holds her weaponization of the faith over the Tyrells, to her being a victim of the High Sparrow and faith as well when she is forced to do the walk of shame. Throughout it all we see someone conniving and falling into the net that she is making for others as everyone has become her enemy except Qyburn. The show pretty much follows the book with her as it does with the Tyrells.

Littlefinger – Littlefinger is everywhere but the major events he does take place at Winterfell and King’s Landing. I don’t know what his game was giving Sansa to the Boltons and if he is really smart and plans to rescue her and own the North or if he is just a bastard wholly using the Vale as the center of control. At this point he is an unknown and it makes him fascinating. This is extremely different from the books as it is Jeyne Pool who is given to the Boltons as a fake Arya not the real Sansa. Though his agenda is still unknown in the books too.

The High Sparrow and the Faith – The events with the High Sparrow are accurate to the books as he pretty much takes control of King’s Landing and creates a theocracy where the faith judges all those they deem sinful and imprisons them. In this he is made a true idealist though as he see’s what he is doing as a revolution. Jonathan Pryce owns this role, this is a character in the books who I felt I never got to know who he humanized.

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Braavos – In Braavos there are two main focuses that make this area compelling. The Iron Bank and the brief appearance Mace Tyrell makes where he is singing to the bank and showing he is classy and Arya and the Faceless Men arc. These two arcs are enough to bring in, there isn’t too much changed here either as the show has not caught up to the books fully here.

Arya Stark – Arya’s arc is her seeking to become “No one” while still holding on her quest for revenge as that is her own personal purpose for the training. In the end she lacks patience though as she assassinates Trant and the Faceless God takes away her sight in the process. It is a good arc and Maisie Williams does a great job.

The Faceless Men – The Faceless Men are fascinating especially Jaqen H’ghar who is truly “No one.” As we see him “Die” but still be alive when he trades a life for a life for Arya killing the wrong man and not the one she was assigned to kill. The art of being a Faceless Man is balance and that is something Arya still seeks.

The Wall – The events at the Wall are mostly true to the books except Mance actually dies in this one and Jon never goes to Winterfell or plans too, instead he is the one who goes to Hardhome and faces the Night’s King, which didn’t happen in the books but because it happens in the show gives us a good idea of what to expect when winter comes as the Wildings are slaughtered and only some manage to escape with Jon.

Davos Seaworth – Davos is wonderful in this, he has a sweet moment with Shireen before her murder by her father and Melisandre and we see him always trying to do that right thing while staying true to Stannis. He doesn’t really do that much this season though besides working with the Night’s Watch.

Shireen Baratheon – R.I.P. She teaches Gilly and Davos how to read, is knowledgeable about everything but is hated by her mother and in the end her father sacrifices her in a battle he is set to lose anyway. Her death is one of the strongest so far in the series…and hasn’t happened in the books yet though Martin says it is going to happen.

Jon Snow – Jon’s arc is similar to the books as we see him seek peace between the Wildings and Night’s Watch to defend against Winter. He succeeds though it costs him his life, just like the books. He is also the only one of the characters to face the Night’s King so far so I hope Melisandre brings him back to life as we last see her back at the Wall. This season had Kit Harrington’s best acting so far.

The Wildings – In this we see the diversity of the Wildings at Hardhome and in the end Tormund and Jon being able to convince the majority to take Jon’s offer of safety behind the Wall when the Night’s King attacks and most of their leaders are killed. It is a powerful scene and the conflict of them choosing to work with the Night’s Watch if the End comes is really well done. Tormund is one of the best characters on the show and I hope he is around for the last battle. Guy killed the Lord of Bones in episode 8 of this season.

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The Night’s King –  This guy is a force of nature. He massacres the forces at Hardhome and even stands to gloat at Jon and the escaping Wildings. Winter is coming and I hope he kills the Boltons if one of our heroes doesn’t get the chance too.

Sam and Gilly – This romance is wonderful and largely follows the book except Aemon dies at the Wall here rather than on the way to Oldtown as he does in the books. Sam and Gilly care for one another and Sam is more comfortable breaking his vows than he is in the books. Gilly is also strong too and we see her stand her own against bad members of the Night’s Watch and is a big reason Sam stands up for himself and leaves the Wall with her so he can get training to become a Maester in Old Town.

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Meereen – This area follows the books and surpasses them as Daenerys still flies off and is captured by Dothraki but Tyrion is now one of the leaders of Meereen and Jorah is back in her good graces and working with Daario. I liked how this area was handled as there was loss and we get to see just how dangerous the Sons of the Harpy truly are.

Ser Barristan – Barristan dies early on this season to establish the threat of the Sons of the Harpy. It is a sad death and really well done as he is able to tell Dany about her brother the Prince Rhaeger and also warn her about her father and family legacy. His death is meaningful too as we have known this guy for 5 seasons. R.I.P.

Grey Worm – Grey Worm and the Unsullied are a bit out of their game this season as the Sons of the Harpy know Meereen. In the end they ambush them and in the process Grey Worm is mortally wounded and Barristan is killed. It doesn’t stop him from fighting again though or from growing with his lover Missandei. I really like this character and am looking forward to him leading the Unsullied in Westeros against the Night’s King.

Ser Jorah – Jorah is compelling but still a bastard. He gets greyscale at the Doom and hides it from everyone including Dany who he loves and is protecting. At this point he is wholly devoted to her though and enters the fighting pits to fight in her name. He later leaves with Daario to find her too, which is good, if he sticks around Meereen could end up greyscaled. He doesn’t have greyscale in the books and has not met Dany again nor has Tyrion.

Varys – Varys begins transporting Tyrion to Daenerys but after Tyrion is captured he doesn’t appear again until at the end in Meereen. He is good the whole time though as he truly does care about the realm and all he does is to train those who need training (Dany and Tyrion) and help them get the experience they need to bring peace to realm. He is one of my favorite characters and I can’t wait to see where the book and show take him.

Tyrion Lannister – Tyrion’s arc is learning how to feel again as he is drinking himself to death while he traveling with Varys and it is only after he is captured and goes through being a slave that he changes. He is wiser because of all he has lost and gives Dany good council and even advises her not returning to Westeros if she can rule as a just ruler in Meereen. He still is sympathetic to her breaking the Wheel of Noble Houses though.

Daenerys – Dany goes through a great arc in this as she realizes just how difficult it is to rule justly and keep peace between different groups. In the end her marrying a slave master cannot save her from the fanatical slave believing harpies as her free people continue to suffer from her attacks. She even loses Barristan from them when they ambush the Unsullied. She later leaves with Drogon her dragon when the Sons of the Harpy attack the Fighting Pits and her future is up in there as she is captured by Dothraki, who I hope she is able to turn to her side as she did in Season 1 and the first book. She is still the best hope for Westeros that doesn’t involve death from the Night’s King.

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Assassination of Jon – Jon getting killed is just as it happens in the books and it is done well as we see that it is the same idealism that killed Ned that kills Jon. I hope he gets a second chance and loses that idealism as Tyrion has so he can get some perspective and no longer serve with the Night’s Watch…but we’ll see. If this is his death, it was still very well done and powerful as his good intentions lead to his end…a running theme on this show.

Death of Shireen  and Aftermath – Shireen is killed by her father so that the Red God can bless him and bring him to victory and after her mother kills herself out of guilt and Stannis loses anyway when his men abandon him for what he did. He is also most likely killed by Brienne. Good riddance, no King kills his heirs if he expects his legacy to carry on, especially when they would be a better ruler than he.

Triumvirate of Meereen – Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei are the rulers who must bring peace to Meereen, Tyrion also has Varys too, which is a nice touch. I really like this group and am rooting for them as Grey Worm survived the slaughter that killed Barristen and all of them are now survivors and ex-slaves fighting for a true free city that is now in full civil war.

The Cons: Winterfell – Winterfell is depressing and no pressure is on the Boltons at anytime. Ramsey’s marriage to Sansa wasn’t in the books and I won’t mind this if it goes somewhere next season but her lack of agency was disturbing and a dislike and I hated how Stannis being at the gate meant nothing. In the books the Boltons were killing their horses to feed the starving lords trapped in the Wall. So far Winter has not truly come to the North, only to certain characters we are following.

Dorn – Dorn was wasted. I was left wondering what they were going to do with the Sand Snakes and the only thing that happened was what was most likely going to happen anyway with the death of Myrcella by the Sand Snakes. It was changed completely from the books as that hasn’t happened and Bronn and Jamie never went to Dorn in the books. It felt wasted really as even Doran Martell is not fully fleshed out…the Dorn story felt rushed both in writing and quality. Bronn is great the whole time here at least and Mycrella and Jaime and the last dinner in Dorn works but that is about it. So much missed potential in this area, just like in the books.

Sansa’s Agency – Sansa’s agency is the biggest issue I had with this season. She was set up as Darth Sansa last season being trained by Littlefinger to be a lead manipulator but instead she is thrown into the victim role again. First Joffrey, Second Littlefinger and now Ramsey….the worst of them all. It doesn’t go anywhere either except by helping Reek become Theon again and them making an escape like how Theon and Jeyne made the escape in the books.

   This wasn’t the best season of “Game of Thrones.” I think the fact that it ended in a Cliffhanger like Book 4 and 5 took away from that as the first few seasons felt more complete as we saw arcs come to a close. This season still has ongoing arcs that need to be resolved even though it resolved some that are still open in the books, which is a point in favor of the show. It’s not for everyone but if some of the characters you are rooting for are still around, I’d say the coming adventure is still very much worth it. For episodes that are a must see I’d recommend 8, 9 and 10 as they have the biggest events that happen that change our characters and the situations they are under.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 2 “Earth,” Episode 6 – “The Blind Bandit” – Toph’s Story

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     “The Blind Bandit” is our introduction to Toph and also shows us what Pro-Bending was like during Aang’s era. It is a great episode of world and character building and we see characters make choices that change them as well as how sometimes the greatest tyrants can be those closest to us, like our parents.

   The episode was directed by Ethan Spaulding and directed by Michael Dante DeMartino.

     The story involves Aang’s arrival Gaoling, the town that is home of the wealthy Beifong family. It is here he seeks an Earthbending Master, first at Master Yu’s academy where he soon learns advancement is about money which leads to him looking elsewhere. This leads him to an Earth Rumble VI where he witnesses the Pro-Bending of that era and is drawn to the Blind Bandit, who is the laughing girl he saw in his vision in the swamp. From here he tries to convince her to be his Earthbending Master and goes up against her not wanting to do it and her parent’s wishes.

The Pros: Earth Rumble VI – The Earth Rumble VI is done in the style of WWE type match except the damage is real as it is a bending tournament. It is fantastic as each of the fighters has a theme from Fire Nation Pride, to really big and looks like a hippo to a mask. It is fun to watch too especially when The Blind Bandit Toph schools them all.

Katara – Katara waterbends the bullies who were mean to Aang to find out about the tournament and keeps tabs on them so they don’t treat others like crap either. In this she is the one acting with awareness whee Aang is completely focused on recruiting Toph.

Sokka – Sokka loves Pro-Bending we discover and is a big fan of the The Boulder. This doesn’t blind him to the Boulder when the Boulder kidnaps Aang and Toph but it was cool to see Sokka fanboy over someone.

Aang – Aang is completely focused on Toph and even enters the match to face her to try and convince her and beats her with Airbending as well as receiving the name Twinkle toes from her as he is so light on his feet she has trouble sensing him and therefore is not able to fight him. She eventually comes around as Aang offers adventure and we see him happy as he fully appreciates and respects her abilities as a bender.

The Beifong Family – Toph’s parents are really controlling. When she shows she can take care of herself they take it as them being too lenient and decide to put her under guard. Their not listening to her is what convinces her to run away which leads to them paying Master Yu and the Pro-Bending owner to bring her back.

The Boulder – The Boulder speaks his name in everything he does. He is hilarious and was fun to see beating others and finally beat by Toph. I hope this character appears again, if only for the comedy.

Toph – Toph is smart, rebellious and witty. We see her shutdown men three times her size in combat and words with her only hold up being her fear of her parents. Saving the Aang changes this though and in the end she goes her own way, leaving her family behind. She has always wanted freedom and adventure and with Team Avatar she finds it.

Toph is one of my favorite characters on this show as she is a complicated character. We see this in her introduction to Team Avatar and their conflict and her conflict with her family. In the end she makes a choice though and from there becomes an important member of the Team and Aang’s Earthbending Master.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz (1997): Freedom Isn’t Free

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    “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz” solved some of the issues I had with the series. That is awesome considering they could have just repeated the same story again and not had any of our characters grow, in the beginning of the film it looks like they might be going that way, but they soon change things and tie the past to the present and most of the characters transform in some way. Suffice to say, it became a favorite anime film after watching.

     The film was directed by Yasunao Aoki and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

      The story begins where we left off, with victory declared and all weapons being destroyed. Things soon change though as the narrator brings up that true peace hasn’t come yet and that people are needed to stop incidents before they arise. From here we see flashbacks of what Project Meteor was first about (dropping a Colony of the Earth and bringing the Gundams to occupy the Earth) and how each Pilot stood up to it in different ways, showing their nobility from the beginning. In modern time a new colony founded by the original founder of Project Meteor named Dekim Barton declares war on Earth via Treize’s daughter Mariemaia who is supporting their cause and wishes to rule by any means necessary. From here it is up to the Gundam Pilots and their allies to stop them.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is really beautiful. The Gundams are upgraded in how they look and look both beautiful and more threatening than before. It is part of what makes this work, especially since Wufei as an antagonist to the Gundam Pilots feels like a threat, partially due to how they designed Shenlong Gundam.

Dorothy – Dorothy has a small role and is there to remind the people that if they want to be free that they should fight for it, she has grown where she is no longer someone who lives for battle, but now believes there is a time and place for it…especially when it involves facing tyranny like Mariemaia’s government.

Relena – Relena grows in this and is the one who changes things again. In this she helps Mariemaia see that tyranny is empty and that only when one experiences fear can one truly learn to appreciate life. After Heeros cares Mariemaia with Gundam Wing it is Relena who brings her out of it towards the light of peace and stopping the war and occupation of Earth. She still remains one of the leaders of the world after which is great, we also see that she doesn’t take the Peacecraft name anymore but the name of her adopted father who she realizes saw the bigger picture and path to peace.

The Preventors – They are run by Sally and I’m glad they exist as we see them being the equivalent of World Police. It is their goal to stop war and terrorism before it happens. They are almost in the OZ role but have awareness towards others too and seem to only be for extreme situations.

Sally – Sally is the leader who is the one every character goes to when changed…Zechs does when he becomes a Preventor and takes one the name Wind in order to stop Mariemaia. Wufei also finally joins and treats her with respect. She is one of the most badass minor characters in this series.

Noin – She is mostly their to remind Zechs she is there and loves him and has his back but we also see her fighting with the Gundam Pilots against Mariemaia’s forces and is one of them in all but name and lack of major Gundam.

Lady Une – Une is another leader of the Preventors and is the one primarily located on Earth versus Sally who is space. She is the one who helps Mariemaia come around too as she told her that Treize cared about those who fought and why they fought, it’s why he always fought losing battles because he saw a bigger point than dominance. This wins Mariemaia over to the Father she hated, never knew and never recognized her.

Mariemaia – She is the evil child at first but we really get her motivation at the end. She never knew her Father and has been brainwashed by the Bartons to be a tyrant. It takes all our heroes but she does eventually come around and realize she isn’t invulnerable and that was she was doing was wrong. She loses the ability to walk in the process to when a standoff at the end, ends up with her shot.

The Gundam Pilots – This is the good-bye to the Gundam Pilots and we see how they’ve grown as people since the war as well as what they are fighting for in peacetime and who they are when they no longer have to fight.

Quatre – Quatre is the one who frees the Gundams for the final fight against Mariemaia’s forces and is the unspoken leader of them when they are all together. He is confident in his abilities too and we see him stepping into the thick of every fray with joy and awareness. The sadness has gone away as he fights to prevent his mistakes.

Duo – Duo is once again the jokester and a bit of the glue but we see that he’s learned not to do overkill or kill. He fights as the God of Death but not to kill men but to kill war. It’s a great evolution of his character. He is the social one and we see that he was fighting to be with Hilde again and to have a life.

Trowa – Trowa is the taken name of the real Trowa who was Dekim Barton’s son who wanted to drop the Colony on Earth and occupy with the Gundams. He was the was no-name soldier and takes the name because he realizes he can make a difference in it as he understands why soldiers fight and wants to fight to end that endless slog of suffering. We also see how much his life at the Carnival means when he helps rescue them by infiltrating Mariemaia’s faction as a loyalist.

Wufei – Wufei’s Colony supported Operation Meteor which leads to Wufei going Paladin and stealing it so that only the guilty will be killed by him. In this one he is still fighting Treize as he sees Earth as passive and stops fighting the moment they fight for their freedom. He realizes that this is what he wants after he fights Heero who is peace and Wufei realizes he is becoming like Treize.

Heero – Heero is the wise nomad in this and we see him help Wufei grow as a character as well as Mariemaia as he attacks the facility with all his energy in Gundam Wing which destroys Gundam Wing in the process. It is that destruction that wakes up Mariemaia to her mortality and actually makes her care about herself and others beyond domination. He is the nameless soldier still too as at the end we see him as a face in the crowd.

Zechs – Zechs like to take different names, though in the end he’s always Zechs. In this he becomes a Preventor and defeats Dekim’s ship. He also fights with the Pilots against Dekim’s forces and we see how he has changed. His past as Miliardo the tyrant willing to kill for peace is dead and he is the man dead to himself. He is the zen soldier in a way and it is great to see how he’s grown. In the end he leaves with Noin to work on terraforming projects for Relena.

The People of Earth – The people of Earth rebel after Dorothy talks to one group where the Presidential headquarters are and after Relena’s call to action. It is great as it is gradual and we see how the symbol of the Gundams became more.

The Cameos – We see Hilde, Quatre’s men and visual callbacks to characters (the scientists also appear in the flashback). It’s a nice way to connect to the past and show this is a direct sequel to the tv series.

The Message – Pure pacifism doesn’t work and sometimes you have to fight to stop tyrants from taking away freedom. Freedom is something that can’t be given by a ruler but has to be recognized and lived by the people.

Okay: Mariemaia’s Colony X-18999 – We never get the motivation of why they are following Mariemaia fully. I get there are soldiers still holding onto battle (which was Zechs’s problem in the series) but there doesn’t seem to be an identity to them beyond Wufei…so maybe they’re Colonists and not Treize faction members from Earth? They were confusing.

The Cons: Dekim Barton – The guy was a meglomaniac and I didn’t understand why anyone would follow him. He was too crazy all the time, even in flashbacks when he fights with the scientists.

This was a great anime film! If you like Gundam and have watched “Gundam Wing,” you should see it. It was originally an OVA in 1997 and film in 1998, so I chose the 1997 for the original time it was made. It is a powerful film that really shows the writers knew what they were doing in the shows. Fighting doesn’t end when wars end and you can’t give people peace…peace is something realized within and is something that you fight for, it is in that fight for anything that something is truly valued through one’s action. This was the action lived by the characters in this film and one reason why it is now a favorite film.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10. Better than the finale of the show.