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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 8 | TV Review

“She’s my Queen”

RELEASED: April 14th 2019 – May 19th 2019
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
DIRECTED BY: David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING:
Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen, Hannah Murray, Carice van Houten, Richard Dormer, Ben Crompton, Daniel Portman, Bella Ramsey, Vladimir Furdik, Pilou Asbæk, Anton Lesser, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Gemma Whelan, Tobias Menzies & Lino Facioli

In the final season of Game of Thrones, the Stark forces in the North, led by Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and Arya Stark, come together with the foreign legions of the ‘Mother of Dragons’, Daenerys Targaryen, to fight the Night King and his forces of the Undead in the ‘Great War’.

However, even with abysmal prospects ahead of them, Daenerys still has her eye on travelling south to King’s Landing for the ‘Final War’ against Cersei Lannister, where she hopes to reclaim the Iron Throne for the Targaryens. However, the revelation that Jon Snow is secretly the son of her brother Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna means that she is no longer the one with the greatest claim to the throne…

You’ve probably heard by now, but this season hasn’t gone down all that well with the majority of watchers. The reasons have been discussed online ad nauseam, but I’m going to discuss them again anyway because they’re pretty crucial to reviewing this season.

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JOHN WICK | DVD Review

RELEASED: October 24th 2014
DIRECTED BY: Chad Stahelski & David Leitch
WRITTEN BY: Derek Kolstad
PRODUCED BY: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Michael Witherill & Eva Longoria
MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard
STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick & Willem Dafoe

John Wick: Chapter 1 is the explosive debut of the John Wick franchise; the third entry of which is in cinemas now. The film follows the titular retired hit-man after some punks steal his car and kill the dog his deceased wife left for him, and he is forced to get back in the game and get his revenge – racking up a sizeable body count in the process.

When I first watched John Wick, I went in with no expectations after randomly picking it up for £3 one morning after work. My positive opinion of it has remained with me ever since and prompted me to go see the second film, which I also enjoyed. With John Wick: Chapter 3 now in cinemas, I sat down to watch the film again for the first time in three years, this time with my action-cynical girlfriend in tow, to see if she would join me at the cinema. The end result, whether that be due to me seeing it through her eyes, or me just taking more of it in, is that this film is perhaps not as good as I’ve been thinking it was for the past few years.

The strength of John Wick comes from the trio of star Keanu Reeves, and the two directors, Chad Stahelski and (the uncredited) David Leitch. When it comes to action, Reeves immerses himself in a role, doing his best to do as many of the stunts as he can, and making sure he’s an expert in whatever action style he’s portraying. Similarly, Stahelski and Leitch are former stuntmen, who have experience working on action films with excellent choreography such as Captain America: Civil War. Here, as they make their directorial debut, you can see them bringing all that excellent stunt knowledge and style to the director’s chair(s), and the result is some beautiful action sequences.

The choreography is immense, and watching Reeves’ John Wick mow through his attackers with his ‘gun fu’ fighting style is gripping and visceral. The locales these fights take place in often make what you’re watching vibrant and alive, and so scenes like ‘the club’ section of the movie really shine and stick with you.

But outside of that, this film is a bit lacking. The story is simple (but admittedly poignant), and the script is not so great. While there are some funny lines, the dialogue is mostly quite weak, with awkward lines and a lot of (as Rachel pointed out) people just saying each other’s names. It’s meant to show that Wick is well known amongst this assassin’s community, and it works, but it also makes you feel like the action is wholly the focus (which it is, pretty much) at the expense of the dialogue. Of course, how well this dialogue comes off is also affected by the actor delivering it. Keanu, in true Keanu style, straddles the line between the amusing, detached assassin, and a hammy mess of a man. Ian McShane, conversely, brings a lot of gravitas to his lines, as he hints at potential set-up for the sequel, while other characters, like Palicki’s Ms Perkins or Nyqvist’s Tarasov, unfortunately, can’t make the weird lines they have to sprout feel genuine. Not necessarily their fault though.

Ultimately, John Wick is a great action spectacle in the first half, full of colourful shots and excellent action, but falls down as soon as you start to look too closely. The excitement also starts to drop off in the third act, as the rather short runtime still somehow seems to drag on.

All-in-all, I give John Wick:

I really hope Chapter 2 is as good as I remember.

 

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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 7 | TV Review

We’re now just a mere few hours away from the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones, so it’s time for me to finally get my act together and review the penultimate season!

RELEASED: July 16th 2017 – August 27th 2017
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman & Dave Hill
DIRECTED BY: Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod, Matt Shakman & Alan Taylor
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING: 
Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Aidan Gillen, Liam Cunningham, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nathalie Emmanuel, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Hannah Murray, Kristofer Hivju, Rory McCann, Iain Glen, Carice van Houten, Indira Varma, Alfie Allen, Jerome Flynn, Joe Dempsie, Richard Dormer, Paul Kaye, Daniel Portman, Vladimir Furdik, Joseph Mawle, Pilou Asbæk, Anton Lesser, Hafpór Júlíus Björnsson, James Faulkner, Tom Hopper, Mark Gatiss, Jacob Anderson, Diana Rigg, Gemma Whelan, Jessica Henwick, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, Keisha Castle-Hughes & Jim Broadbent

After six seasons, Daenerys Targaryen finally arrives in Westeros, taking up residence in her family home of Dragonstone, and beginning a war against Cersei Lannister for control of the Seven Kingdoms. Meanwhile, Jon Snow, the King in the North, leaves Winterfell in search of allies to help against the army of the dead, while the Night King continues to accumulate power as he and his armies march on the wall.

Much like season six before it, season seven of Game of Thrones delivers a lot of pay-off and fan-service over its shorter runtime. We’ve been watching these characters grow for sixty episodes, and here, we finally get to see the majority of the cast come together at some point or another, revelling in their shared history, and setting things up for both the battle against the Night King and the Wight Walkers, as well as the battle for control of the Iron Throne.

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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 6 | TV Review

The first time I watched season six of Game of Thrones, I enjoyed it, but my mind was also distracted by wondering when the array of spoilers I had heard over the years would come to fruition. Then, I promptly moved on to season seven, and my recollection of events started to blur when it came to writing my review.

However, I’ve now rewatched season six, and with events fresh in my mind, I’m ready to go! Like my season four review, this review will also drop one fairly major spoiler because once again, it happens at the start and you can’t really discuss the various heroes’ journey’s without acknowledging it.

RELEASED: April 24th 2016 – June 26th 2016
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Dave Hill & Bryan Cogman
DIRECTED BY: Jeremy Podeswa, Daniel Sackheim, Jack Bender, Mark Mylod & Miguel Sapochnik
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING:
Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Liam Cunningham, Carice van Houten, Natalie Dormer, Indira Varma, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Conleth Hill, Alfie Allen, Gwendoline Christie, Jonathan Pryce, Michiel Huisman, Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rheon, Iain Glen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kristofer Hivju, Tom Wlaschiha, Dean-Charles Chapman, Isaac Hempstead Wright, John Bradley, Hannah Murray, Aidan Gillen, Rory McCann & Jerome Flynn

One of my coworkers has repeatedly told me she believes season six to be the best season of the show, due to the fact that while all the seasons have their highlights, season six maintains consistently high quality. Whether that is true or not we’ll explore now.

In season six, Game of Thrones finally reaches the point where it overtakes the story laid out in the books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, crafting its own original story using Martin’s notes and some details from previous novels. Daenerys Targaryen‘s time in Essos comes to a violent end, as she finds herself facing off against both the Dothraki Hordes in full, as well the Masters of Yunkai and Astapor, in response to her volatile rule of Slavers Bay. In her absence from the city of Mereen, Tyrion Lannister and Varys struggle to rule in her stead, with enemies appearing on all sides. Elsewhere, Arya Stark returns to the House of Black and White, and is given a second chance to align with the ‘Faceless Men’.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Cersei Lannister makes a power play to take out her enemies, and the Iron Islands are rocked as Balon Greyjoy‘s death leads to a struggle for the Salt Throne.
To the North, the remaining members of House Stark* reunite to face off against House Bolton for control of Winterfell, as a new ‘King in the North’ is crowned.

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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 5 | TV Review (/and the problem with spoilers)

RELEASED: April 12th 2015 – June 14th 2015
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Dave Hill & Bryan Cogman
DIRECTED BY: Michael Slovis, Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Miguel Sapochnik & David Nutter
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING:
Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Dillane, Liam Cunningham, Carice van Houten, John Bradley, Sophie Turner, Kristofer Hivju, Hannah Murray, Conleth Hill, Gwendoline Christie, Michiel Huisman, Nathalie Emmanuel, Dean-Charles Chapman, Indira Varma, Maisie Williams, Jerome Flynn, Tom Wlaschiha, Alfie Allen, Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rheon & Iain Glen

This show really loves to start and stop. You get seasons like season three where things rush ahead, and then others like season two, where things seem to slow to a crawl. I know that this is down to the books of George R. R. Martin, and the way he’s plotted out A Song of Ice and Fire, but it seems strange that after the monumental episodes at the end of season four, where we saw the Wildlings attack the wall en masse, and the heartbreaking defeat of Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal), that we can then move on to a season where Daenerys seemingly halts her plans to attack Westeros and the Lannister stop fighting walls to trade insults with a bunch of priests.

With the external conflicts seemingly halted, season four sees our various characters tested by internal threats. The Lannisters come into conflict with the religious zealots, the Sparrows, while Jaime Lannister enlists the sellsword Bronn to help him recover his daughter/niece from the exotic kingdom of Dorne.
To the North, Sansa Stark comes into conflict with the new lords of Winterfell, the Boltons, while Jon Snow is named the new Lord Commander of the Nights Watch and hopes to make peace with the Wildlings.

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen settles into her role as Queen of Meereen, but faces pushback from the former slaves and masters alike, while Arya Stark seeks answers amongst Jaqen H’ghar‘s society of assassins known as the ‘Faceless Men’. Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister and Varys travel across Essoss in hopes of meeting the ‘Mother of Dragons’.

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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 4 | TV Review

Following the ‘Red Wedding’, we now have the ‘Purple Wedding’. This review is going to be a bit more heavy on spoilers (or rather, one particular spoiler) than the last three, due to the fact that a major death kicks off the plot-lines of the season.

RELEASED: April 6th 2014 – June 15th 2014
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman & George R. R. Martin
DIRECTED BY: D. B. Weiss, Alex Graves, Michelle MacLaren, Alik Sakharov & Neil Marshall
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING:
Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Charles Dance, Natalie Dormer, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, John Bradley, Rose Leslie, Kristofer Hivju, Rory McCann, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Sibel Kekilli, Iain Glen, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane, Carice van Houten, Alfie Allen, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Iwan Rheon, Conleth Hill, Aiden Gillen & Hannah Murray

This season is an interesting one, in that, so far, it’s probably had the largest collection of great episodes, but at the same time, a lot of the season doesn’t quite live up to the overall greatness of season three.

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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 3 | TV Review

This season we reached the famous ‘Red Wedding’. I finally understand. So much so that season two seems slightly worse in hindsight (that review has been edited ever so slightly to reflect that opinion).

Anyway, same as last week, I’ll try not to spoil anything from this season, but there may be some spoilers for season two below.

RELEASED: March 31st 2013 – June 9th 2013
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Vanessa Taylor, Bryan Cogman & George R. R. Martin
DIRECTED BY: Daniel Minahan, David Benioff, Alex Graves, Alik Sakharov, Michelle MacLaren & David Nutter
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING:
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Iain Glen, Michelle Fairley, Aiden Gillen, Charles Dance, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane, Carice van Houten, Natalie Dormer, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Oona Chaplin, Sibel Kekilli, Rose Leslie, James Cosmo, Jerome Flynn, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, Joe Dempsie, Rory McCann & Conleth Hill

This show really starts taking strides this season. While season two was mostly just build-up, a lot of season three is the pay-off. The War of Five Kings highlights some big events. Stannis Baratheon and his ilk make some power plays. Even Bran Stark gets a destination. In fact, the only character who perhaps does not progress this season is Theon Greyjoy, who spends the ten episodes as a captive of a mysterious torturer. And I’m willing to forgive that because I don’t much care for him anyway.

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