Did AI Write Dem Ringz of Power?

The Dark Herald is suspicious. Not deeply suspicious. But a little.

I had suspected that an AI generator came up with some of Rings of Power’s more cringe-worthy dialog.

Finrod: Why does a stone sink? Because it cannot look up.

That line is exactly the kind of thing an AI generator comes up with. The words can be made to sound like wisdom by an actor trying his damndest but give it any kind of sapient thought and it falls into the uncanny valley.

But I didn’t think the whole thing was written that way.

But those AI guys I chatted with are convinced that a new Amazon AI wrote the entire thing. That any human involvement at all was only there to sand off edges that were just too rough.

The big tell for them is the number of things that are produced by a mind that simply doesn’t know any better. Like Galadriel going for a swim in the middle of the ocean or the townspeople giving up their easily defendable castle to move back to their completely indefensible town. It was something that happened and it had dramatic impact, of a sort, but again taken as a whole the concept falls into the uncanny valley. Every episode had something like this in it. Adar’s rousing “brothers and sisters in our own land” speech was weird and out of place when applied to orcs. And of course “Feed me the meat and give it to me raw.” Every single episode was full of things like this.

Then there were all of these incongrous and conflicting events, that frequently had me yelling, “didn’t you read your own damn script?” Individual events sound plausible in isolation but can’t be turned into a coherent structure when taken as a whole. Mostly because the AI isn’t looking for that problem. And the Bad Reboot guys may not have been allowed to correct it. I could understand a couple of frustrated Hollywood nobodies being willing to sign a suicide before reading NDA if it got them something made and they could take credit for it. A high-level failure is still high level, people will be returning their calls.

Was that the real point of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power just a big experiment by Amazon to see if an entire mega hit could be created by AI?

I couldn’t possibly say, because I didn’t watch one single second of it despite being an inveterate Tolkien fan who had read The Silmarillion before finishing high school. As well as, of course, the trilogy and the Hobbit enough times to wear out the white books that came in the gold boxed set in the early ’80s.

But it does make one wonder. Because if Amazon hasn’t tried it yet, someone is going to do so soon.


The Marvel Implosion Continues Apace

The Dark Herald reviews a new Marvel movie that apparently has something to do with Antman, and possibly, The Who, on the basis of its title which I can’t even bother to learn.

I have rarely seen a genre movie so dripping with contempt for its core audience.

Nineteen eighties Mexican sword and sandals videos had more respect for the people that would be seeing it than this flick did. There are no characters, only cut-and-paste caricatures. This is no plot, only a series of ridiculous contrivances. This entire motion picture has been built around appearance for the sake of appearance. It is a Disney Frankenstein. This film is broken. Like its namesake, there is no substance to Quantomania at all.

The Antman character was a problem for Marvel Studios. The problem was that Ari Arad cared about Marvel Comics back when the studio had to listen to him. In the comic books, Hank Pym and his second wife Janet van Dyne were the original Antman and the Wasp, and they were also the founders of the Avengers. Back when Ike Perlmutter made sure that Marvel gave a rancid fart about the canon, not having an Antman in the team that Antman founded was a problem. The thing is Hank’s first wife was murdered by the Hungarian secret police which was why he became Antman in the first place. Bob Iger and Kevin Feige were at best uncomfortable with Hank’s anti-Marxist baggage. But there was no such problem with the Scott Lang version. A hero on a redemption arc is easy to write and easy to make a movie about. Consequently, Scott Lang settled into a role of Antman as a lovable loser trying to make good.

This is the part where I try to ruin the whole movie for you by spoiling it in detail, but this thing is such an inconceivably disjointed trainwreck that my brain keeps shutting down in self-defense when I try to recall the details.

The film opens with Scott strutting down a sidewalk in an alternate universe San Francisco, where he isn’t trying to avoid stepping on broken needles and human shit. The theme from Welcome Back Kotter is playing as Hank has a montage about what a great life he is having as a superhero. The whole city loves him. Apparently, he landed a book deal and has a number-one bestseller. We are meant to believe he wrote it himself; this is the least of the contrivances that are about to pummel an unsuspecting audience.

Montage ends when Scott has to bail his new teenage daughter out of jail (she was recast). Cassie was protesting for the rights of the homeless to establish her unassailable moral superiority over her Generation-X world-saving superhero father, and it is done with such brutal impact that passersbys suffer blunt force trauma. She shrank a police car and was apparently allowed to keep it in jail so she could put it on the comically outraged cops’ desk at the county lockup. She is allowed to leave rather than be arrested again for GTA of a police car because the movie has to get to the next scene as fast as possible. Cassie is such sassy.

I do so love the smell of an imploding converged comics industry in the morning. Throw in a little Devil Mouse in decline and it’s practically a party.


The Future of STAR WARS

Is bleak. It is very bleak indeed, if the Dark Herald is hearing things properly.

There was a big pow-wow at Disney on the future of Star Wars. Iger, the senior executive leadership at Disney as well as the leadership of LucasFilm. Disney has massively over-invested in Reylo Star Wars. The sunk costs are too big to reskin the rides and attractions at Disney Parks. Disney hates the idea of retconning away Rey anyway, they NEVER throw away a property, that company’s executives are as repelled by that idea as fish is of getting a suntan.

They have come up with the most designed by committee future of Star Wars imaginable. This is the result of market testing, egos tied to malinvestment and of course the malinvestments themselves.

Consequently, the new big Star Wars movie is going to star five characters.

Ready? Because Disney don’t care if you aren’t

  1. Rey
  2. R2-D2
  3. Chewbacca
  4. New character that will be introduced in the TV shows
  5. (You guessed this one already) Baby Yoda.

Bob Iger had to go with something. In fact, anything. He can’t shitcan Kathleen Kennedy, not with a big proxy fight coming up. He has to express confidence in her despite her disasterous record because he was the one that never fired her.

What they are telling themselves is that the reason Rey isn’t popular is because she has faded from public memory and needs to have her profile raised and not that she was Queen of the Mary Sues.

This is literally the complete opposite of a character-driven approach. It’s a plot-driven approach driven by the need to force the completely different characters from different mediums together. Why not throw in a character from the Alan Dean Foster novels and another from the Dark Horse comics just to increase the degree of difficulty?

It’s really too bad neither of the writers I tried out as collaborators were able to make the grade on my now-ancient not-Star Wars project called FARAWAY WARS that would have preceded Nick Cole’s GALAXY’S EDGE by more than a year. Well, perhaps once I’m finished with my next four books, I can crank one or two of them out myself. It’s more likely that I’ll initially do it as a comic script, however, as Arktoons continues to grow.



Wakanda Never

The Dark Herald steels himself and reviews Wakanda Forever in substantial detail. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

I feel like such a chump.

I honestly thought Marvel was going to try for once. I have no idea what this unfounded optimism was based on.

Most of the praise for this film was written by shills before it hit the theaters. You can tell.

Although, I have seen legitimate good reviews for this movie, and they were entirely from fat Gamma Males. If you are a Fat Gamma Male or are simply a Gamma male who is fat in spirit, this is absolutely the film for you. You will cry like the bitches you were born to be throughout the whole thing.

If you are a Delta and above, you will curse the goddess of whatever fate that pronounced the doom upon your head that forced you into a theater to endure this impenetrable wall of tedium.

Fortunately, the movie theater I went to serves drastically overpriced beer. Bless you, oh Founder’s Dirty Bastard Scottish ale ABV 8.5%, I couldn’t have made it without you.

I strongly suspect this script was mostly finished before Chadwick Boseman died because he was mad as hell with Disney about something before he clocked out. It feels like it was extensively reworked. Some things just don’t fit like they should. It is possible that this script was originally supposed to take place during The Snap after T’Challa got zilched out for five years. That would make more sense than the complete lack of political adjustments being made when T’Challa was…let’s face facts…dead after Thanos’ little visit.

When T’Challa Blipped back in, he should have seen Gorilla Dude sitting on his throne being unhappy to see him. Although Gorilla Dude was undoubtedly less happy to be in this movie given that he was portrayed as being stupider than a gorilla.

Regardless, a story about his family adjusting to King T’Challa being gone would only make sense if they hadn’t already just gone through it. They are acting like they are mourning him for the first time and we all know he just spent five years being dead.

I would have to assume that you were hopelessly incompetent as a scriptwriter to have deliberately designed a story like this. This is not an assumption that I can casually dismiss with Marvel in the 2020s.

The oppressed minorities in this movie are constantly snarling about “colonizers.” WHY? Neither Wakanda nor the Sea-Mayans were ever colonized. And if the Wakandans were so morally outraged about the slave trade… Why. Didn’t. They. Do. Anything. About. It?

If Wakanda is three hundred years ahead of everyone else then I am pretty sure, my 18th-century ancestors would not have been willing to pursue the slave trade in face of 20th-century weaponry.

Read the whole thing there. In related news, the Devil Mouse is losing money. A LOT of money.

The Walt Disney Company is expected to make massive layoffs due to their poor financial outlook. As per a memo sent to top company execs last Friday and subsequently viewed by Variety, the House of Mouse will begin taking substantial measures to offset the company’s recent and abysmal Q4 financial losses.

This year, production spending for the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit an all-time high with both both Thor: Love & Thunder as well as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hitting $250 million in costs before marketing – the highest such budgets for a non-Avengers film in the entire franchise. The massive costs of the film have driven Marvel Studios’ average break-even mark for those films to be an estimated $700-800 million dollars.


Hollywood is Never an Option

We didn’t actually need to see Amazon Studios folding, spindling, and mutilating the appendices of The Simarillion to know the Hellmouth is totally incapable of producing anything worthwhile from the literary medium.

Legendary comic book creator Alan Moore was disgusted by the woke adaptation of his comic Watchmen by HBO and told the showrunner never to contact him while it was being filmed.

The showrunner reached out to Moore and admitted that the show was a disaster. They sent a letter to Moore, saying: “Dear Mr. Moore, I am one of the bastards currently destroying ‘Watchmen.’” Moore did not appreciate the correspondence.

“That wasn’t the best opener,” Moore said regarding the showrunner letter. “It went on through a lot of, what seemed to me to be, neurotic rambling. ‘Can you at least tell us how to pronounce “Ozymandias”? I got back with a very abrupt and probably hostile reply telling him that I’d thought that Warner Bros. were aware that they, nor any of their employees, shouldn’t contact me again for any reason.”

THE BOYS would be the singular exception that proves the rule, but that’s only because the wildly over-the-top nature of the comics actually forced the producers to tone things down. A lot.


Avoid Like the Plague

The Dark Herald reviews Season One of THE RINGS OF POWER.

Avoid Like the Plague is my lowest rating, I’ve only given it two other times, and it takes a lot to get it. A production really has to work for it before I’m willing to put my ultimate seal of disapproval on it. I mean you got to dig deep and put your back to the wheel before I stamp that label on something. A show must do everything it can to earn it.

And this one did just that.

Throughout ten hours of runtime this travesty never let up in its determination to win my abject hatred for every aspect of its very existence.

It consistently fails on so many levels that you can’t help but be fascinated by its relentless incompetence.

This show is absolutely, and in all ways, the exact opposite of what J.R.R. Tolkien achieved with his life’s work.

There have been other attempts to subvert Tolkien. Writers who at the core of their work were trying to write an editorial reply that would somehow disprove Truth to be found in the works of men like J.R.R. Tolkien.

George RR Martin set out to invert the tropes that were established in the Lord of Rings, and it ended in the most hilarious series of failures of all time. At this point Martin is undoubtedly hoping he can run out the clock before he has to display the completeness of his artistic bankruptcy.

A better example is His Dark Materials. Phillip Pullman set out to create an atheist Chronicles of Narnia. The Golden Compass has been frequently remade in films and TV. It ends in debacle every time. Read John C. Wright’s review if you want a complete evisceration by a writer who leaves me in the dust.

But none of them come close to equaling the magnitude of the disaster that is, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. These attempts to present the Lie as the Truth always fail like this.

Convergence always destroys an organization’s ability to perform its primary function. And while many an organization has been converged, Amazon Studios was born in convergence. It was never going to be capable of providing entertainment, or of transforming any literature into the video medium in a way that would appeal to the book’s fans.


It’s Going to be So Bad

How to demonstrate you don’t understand the work of JRR Tolkien in three words or less:

Season 1 has a $465 million budget. Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke stated in May 2021 that she was “pretty confident” that the show will draw the required viewership to make the money worth spent.

Back in 2017, when it was reported that Amazon had bought the rights to “The Lord of the Rings” — winning a bidding war against Netflix — the number reported with that sale was $250 million. That number alone made it the most expensive television series ever, but later, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the whole series would end up costing more than $1 billion, due to production expenses (casting, producers, visual effects, etc.). “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy’s own Elijah Wood reacted to that particular figure during an interview, saying, “That’s crazy to me.” For context, the Peter Jackson trilogy grossed $2.92 billion worldwide. The combined budget for all three films was $281 million.

That $250 million rights deal for “The Lord of the Rings” also came with a five-season commitment for the series. A guaranteed five seasons should also guarantee at least one full story told from beginning to end, even though there’s always the possibility of more, depending on the series’ success. The deal also allowed for the potential of spin-off series, which could mean the potential for even more of Middle-earth outside just this adaptation. In November 2019, Deadline confirmed that Amazon had officially ordered a second season of the series and that it was already in the works. According to the report, the official early renewal means that there will be a shorter wait time between the first two seasons come release.

However, the series may not ever get out of the Second Age — which is, again, 3,441 years long, so it’s got a lot to work with — as, according to Tolkien scholar and “The Lord of the Rings” consultant Tom Shippey, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien has refused to grant Amazon permission to film anything other than the Second Age, as to not alter the history of the more fleshed out Third Age. “But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions…”

The tagline of the newly-released trailer? “Nothing is evil…in the beginning.”

When you already suspect – no, when you already KNOW – that the series is going to be a converged abomination wearing the title of the books as a skinsuit, you shouldn’t be surprised by anything the Hellmouth producers come up with.

And yet, to begin with a marketing tagline of “Nothing is evil…” is really going a bit far even for a collection of inverted anticreatives. No matter how it is subsequently modified after the ellipsis.

It’s going to be bad. It’s going to be so bad, it’s going to make THE WHEEL OF TIME and the last season of A GAME OF THRONES look good by comparision.


Even Worse Than Expected

The Devil Mouse is putting its literally satanic agenda on public display in Lightyear.

You weren’t planning to see it anyway and you are right to avoid it.

This film is a Pedomouse spectacular. Lightyear is a product of Reimagine Tomorrow. The lesbian kiss was the least of it.

The entire film is centered around the lesbian relationship. In fact the lesbians get pregnant. So, forget about awkward questions from your seven year old about two women in love. Pedomouse wants you to have discussions about how two women can get each other knocked up. That is the family conversation Disney/Pixar is pushing with Lightyear.

Then there are the values this film is pushing like a bulldozer:

“Let’s just say that Lightyear does not deal in subtle messages. Instead, it has a mission to convince you that meritocracy is bad, masculinity and instinctual decisions are wrong, and we all need to accept each other as we are with all of our flaws rather than to see the potential in each person. It dives into those themes with the nuance of a caffeinated kid with a baseball bat swinging for a pinata.

It’s so awful, and so converged, and so likely to lose vast quantities of money, that Dark Herald actually suggests it might be a harbinger of the Devil Mouse’s exit from the movie business.


Doctor Strange 2 Review

The Dark Herald is getting a little soft in these latter days of the Devil Mouse’s ongoing demise. If this is a recommendation with reservations, I shudder to think what it would take to get a negative review.

Strange is an idiot in this film. He knows that witchcraft is in play, and he doesn’t for a moment suspect a witch that he knows has gone bad. He tells the Scarlet Witch where the teenage Space Lesbian is; then finds out that Wanda is the one sending monsters to kill her. Oops.

Wanda attacks Kamar-Taj and kills most of the sorcerers there. It’s a good effects scene, lots of flashy lights and boom-booms. If you like high tech fidget-spinners, you’ll love it. Chavez get scared and stargates out, dragging Strange along for the ride.

There is another exposition scene. Because this is effectively a Marvel Disney + show. However, someone must have said something about “show don’t tell” in the notes. We get to see America Chavez’s origin story when she steps on a disk… In. Front. Of. The. Memory. Store.

I didn’t make that up.

Anyway, that is where we find out about how America comes from the universe of the space lesbians who don’t need any man to reproduce. Fine, whatever, there is breed of snake that does the same thing in this universe so, okay, sure. That should limit your genetic diversity but we are talking about a universe called utopia where science is whatever you need it to be to stay intersectional. And America vanished her parents when a bee landed on her.

So why is she named America and has the stars and stripes on her jeans jacket? Why does she identify as LGBTQ when in her universe being a homosexual means you are straight.

Stop asking questions like that; it’s science!

Skipping ahead because this is all stupid. We come to the famous Illuminati scene.

Well people are sitting, that means they are going to be talking. We find out that all Doctor Stranges in the cosmos go bad given enough time and the lIluminati are deciding if they are going to whack out this Strange for pre-crime. They haven’t voted on it yet but it’s probably, yes.

Before they can do that, Wanda shows up because she can Dream-Walk into the bodies of other versions of herself in other universes. She kills the illuminati in order of privilege, and it feels like the biggest fuck you imaginable to Marvel comic book fans. A lot of these are the characters and the actors playing them that the comics fans really wanted. Mister Fantastic in particular was killed in the silliest way possible for a man that is virtually indestructible. Oh, and if you weren’t tired of seeing Professor X die after two times, the MCU has got your back fam, he dies here too.

It’s good to see that the Devil Mouse has decided to double down on the wokery. Convergence has its consequences, and what’s bad for them is good for everyone else, including us.



We had a watching party to celebrate the English-language release of the movie based on the SuperPrumo/Arkhaven comic THE AWAKENER tonight. It was, in the words of one attendee, better than expected. Granted, one doesn’t have the same expectations for a Brazilian movie dubbed in English, but if the stunts and CGI were low-budget and the character development was occasionally a little clumsy, the story, the music, and the style were all really good.

It will warm the heart of anyone who ever wished that the January 6th media narrative had been based on something real. And it ends with a line worthy of the great John C. Wright himself. The last time I felt so amped at the end of a movie was after watching the one and only The Matrix movie.

Arkhaven will be releasing a pair of commemorative comics very soon, featuring custom cover art from one of our best illustrators, but in the meantime, you won’t want to miss the movie, which is available from Amazon.

A really good job by Luciano and his crew!