REVIEW: HIS DARK MATERIALS – SEASON 1

James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson, and Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)

Starring

Dafne Keen (Logan
Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger)
Anne-Marie Duff (Enigma)
Clarke Peters (John Wick)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Ariyon Bakare as (The Dark Knight)
Will Keen (Victor Frankenstein)
Lucian Msamati (Game of Thrones)
Gary Lewis (Outlander)
Lewin Lloyd (Judy)
Daniel Frogson (The Devil Outside)
James McAvoy (IT: Chapter 2)
Georgina Campbell (Krypton)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns)
Ruta Gedmintas (A Street Cat Named Bob)
Lia Williams (The King is Alive)
Amir Wilson (The Secret Garden)
Nina Sosanya (Love, Actually)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Simon Manyonda (In Fabric)
Geoff Bell (Rogue One)
Mat Fraser (American Horror Story)
Kit Connor (Rocketman)
Helen McCrory (The Queen)
Joe Tandberg (The Innocents)
Omid Djalili (The Mummy)
David Suchet (Poirot)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Cristela Alonzo (Cars 3)
Morfydd Clark (Crawl)
Raffiella Chapman (The Theory of Everything)
Andrew Scott (Spectre)

The BBC and HBO co-production of His Dark Materials got off to a strong start this fall, with an opening hour that set an epic tone and impressive visual standard for what was to follow. But the thematically-bare 2007 adaptation had those things going for it as well; the real question this new adaptation faced was whether the showrunners would finally bring the story to life with the same sense of danger, maturity, and grandiosity provided by Philip Pullman’s prose. In that respect, with some storytelling stumbles and concessions made so the story could thrive on a TV budget, the first season of His Dark Materials is largely a success.The show does a remarkable job in keeping a number of different stories moving forward simultaneously – Lyra’s central quest of rescuing her best friend Roger from the clutches of the Magisterium, Mrs. Coulter’s hunt to recover Lyra, Lord Asriel’s experiments, Lord Boreal’s world-walking machinations – the show smartly chooses how and when to highlight these various stories and by the end, weaves all those threads together into an intriguing web that we’re only just beginning to understand by the end of the first season.His Dark Materials hits the ground running by building out a rich, textured fantasy world in a relatively short amount of time. Lyra’s alternate reality of daemons, dust, aeronauts, witches, panserbjorn, and aleithiometers never comes at you too quick to understand what you’re being faced with, and some of the mysteries still surrounding the more out-there elements (like a compass that tells the truth) end up making the series all the more engrossing. His Dark Materials is content to show its hand at its own pace and that kind of confidence keeps the show worth coming back to.Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)What makes Lyra’s fantasy world work especially well is the inspired choice to pull forward story elements from the series’ second novel, The Subtle Knife. His Dark Materials makes no secret of the fact that other worlds exist in the same space at the same time, and that means that our “real world” (tragically devoid of daemons as it is) is also connected to Lyra’s. That brings us to Will Parry. The series’ second protagonist, not introduced until the Subtle Knife, is a huge presence throughout Season 1, a move that will pay dividends later on in terms of storytelling economy. Will’s struggle to maintain a home life with a mentally ill mother ends up grounding the story through its many discussions of souls and prophecies, but in a way that adds perspective to those bigger conflicts.His Dark Materials (2019)Of course, Lord Boreal’s ability to walk between Lyra and Will’s worlds and his obsession with Will’s missing father John suggest that Will may have a part to play in the show’s overarching prophecy himself. With a few of the key players all seemingly through the looking glass by the end of the season finale, how the events in each of these worlds relate to each other is one of the more exciting mysteries left to unravel as the show moves forward.His Dark Materials is certainly aimed at a more general audience than HBO’s other recently-concluded fantasy epic, but it never flinches in its bleaker moments. This is a show where children are not safe from soul-destroying kidnappers, where a person can be killed by crushing their adorable animal avatar in the palm of your hand, where a religious government can claim any violation of human decency in the service of an almighty Authority. Like the books, this show may feature kids as lead characters, but that doesn’t make the world(s) they’re moving through any less dangerous.Dafne Keen does an excellent job of rolling with the emotional ups and downs of Lyra’s journey, channeling both her good humor and her fury in equally compelling measure. Amir Wilson’s Will Parry is far more understated, a kid just trying to do the right thing and keep his family together, but given that Lyra and Will’s paths are destined to cross, these opposing personalities could provide material for some great interplay between Keen and Wilson going forward.Dafne Keen and Joe Tandberg in His Dark Materials (2019)The adult cast are fantastic foils for their younger counterparts. Ruth Wilson has the heaviest lifting to do and her intensity has kept Mrs. Coulter feeling like the most fearsome woman in any world. The hypocrisy of how Coulter treats children other than her own has made Lyra’s disgust with her all the more palpable. James McAvoy is clearly having a blast playing Lord Asriel’s righteous wrath and entitlement, and we accept his radical motivations in part because of how committed McAvoy is to making them feel real. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Lee Scoresby provides great comic relief – a smartass Texan Han Solo who genuinely respects Lyra’s spunk and cares about her safety.His Dark Materials’ first season impresses throughout with its gorgeous production design, visual effects, and music. From the scholarly warmth of Jordan College to the technicolor dreamscape of the frozen North, every locale Lyra travels to feels alive and beautifully realized. Lorne Balfe’s orchestrations give the already grand world of His Dark Materials an even more sumptuous feel, with every faction of characters getting a distinct musical voice. The all-important daemons always feel like real and present characters, as do Iorek Byrnison and the other armored bears.The daemons do, however, see His Dark Materials straining against its budget in the most obvious way. For as crucial as these second-halves are to the characters of Lyra’s world, there are times when their conspicuous absence distracts, no doubt due to the price it costs to render a VFX animal for each human in a shot. On top of that, the rules of daemons are left murky enough to be convenient to the plot when necessary (like when Lyra needs Pan to become a bird to see over a ridge), but not clear enough to help us understand why Pan couldn’t just transform into an elephant and stomp Mrs. Coulter’s creepy gold monkey to death when they fight.James McAvoy and Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)And while many of His Dark Materials’ successes come from how accurately it adapts the novels, that devotion to the text does lead to some pacing issues. The season’s penultimate episode, “The Fight to the Death,” somewhat derails the stakes after the exciting battle at Bolvangar, and the sea-faring Gyptians that aid Lyra through much of the season don’t really come into their own until episode 5, “The Lost Boy.”Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)His Dark Materials’ first season is a confident, exciting fantasy adventure, full of weighty threats to its lead characters and stakes that reverberate through its multiple worlds. Even though there are times when the scope of the story slightly exceeds the bounds of what its budget is capable of, the BBC and HBO have done an impressive job giving Lyra’s (and Will’s) adventures the adaptation they deserve.

 

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

CAST

Georgie Henley (Perfect Sisters)
Skandar Keynes (Ferrari)
William Moseley (The Royals)
Anna Popplewell (Reign)
Tilda Swinton (Constantine)
James McAvoy (Atonement)
Jim Broadbent (Hot Fuzz)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Ray Winstone (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Dawn French (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Cleopatra 2525)
Patrick Kake (30 Days of Night)
Katrina Browne (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Sophie Winkleman (Two and A Half Men)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)
Michael Madsen (Species)
Stephen Ure (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Cameron Rhodes (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)

In the London suburb of Finchley, the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, are endangered by a Second World War attack of German bombers. They are then evacuated to the country home of Professor Digory Kirke, who is not accustomed to having children in his house, as Mrs Macready, the strict housekeeper, explains. While the Pevensies are playing hide-and-seek, Lucy discovers a wardrobe and enters a wintry fantasy world called Narnia. Seeing a lamppost, Lucy encounters the faun Mr. Tumnus, who explains the land she has entered and invites her to his home. He puts Lucy to sleep by playing a lullaby on his flute. When Lucy wakes up, she finds Tumnus grieving, and he explains that Jadis, the White Witch, has cursed Narnia and it has been winter for 100 years. If a human is encountered they are to be brought to her. Tumnus cannot bring himself to kidnap Lucy, so he sends her home. When she returns to Professor Kirke’s house, hardly any time has passed in the normal world; her siblings do not believe her story, and when they look in the wardrobe it has a normal back.Anna Popplewell in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)One night, Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe. He enters Narnia as well, and after searching for Lucy he meets the White Witch, who claims to be Queen of Narnia. She offers him Turkish Delight as well as the prospect of becoming king and having power over his siblings if he brings them to her castle. After she departs, Edmund and Lucy meet again and return; Lucy tells Peter and Susan what happened, but unfortunately, Edmund lies. Professor Kirke talks with Peter and Susan and suggests she is telling the truth, though they are unconvinced. While running away from Mrs Macready after accidentally breaking a window, the four siblings retreat to the wardrobe and enter Narnia. They discover Mr. Tumnus has been taken by the Witch, and meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who tell them about Aslan. According to the beavers, Aslan intends to take control of Narnia from the Witch. The four must help Aslan; it has been prophesied that if two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve sit in the four thrones, the White Witch’s reign will end.
Liam Neeson and Skandar Keynes in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Edmund sneaks off to visit the Witch. When he arrives at her castle, she is angry that he did not deliver his siblings. The Witch sends wolves to hunt down the children and the beavers, who barely escape. Edmund is chained in the Witch’s dungeon, where he meets Tumnus. The Witch demands that Edmund reveal where his siblings are. After Tumnus claims that Edmund does not know anything, The Witch tells Mr. Tumnus that Edmund betrayed him, then turns Tumnus to stone.
James McAvoy in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
While Peter, Lucy, Susan and the beavers travel, they hide from what they believe to be the White Witch. It is really Father Christmas, a sign that the Witch’s reign is ending. Father Christmas gives Lucy a healing cordial, a drop of which will bring back to life anyone injured, and a dagger to defend herself. Susan receives a bow and arrows and a magical horn that will summon help when blown, and Peter a sword and shield.
Liam Neeson, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
After evading wolves led by Maugrim, the group reaches Aslan’s camp. Aslan is revealed as a huge and noble lion who promises to help Edmund. Later, two wolves ambush Lucy and Susan. When Peter intervenes, Maugrim attacks him, and Peter kills him. Some of Aslan’s troops follow the other wolf to the witch’s camp and rescue Edmund. Peter is knighted by Aslan. The White Witch journeys to Aslan’s camp and claims Edmund, but Aslan secretly offers to sacrifice himself instead. That night, as Lucy and Susan covertly watch, Aslan is killed by the White Witch. In the morning he is resurrected because “there is a magic deeper still the Witch does not know”. Aslan takes Susan and Lucy to the Witch’s castle, where he frees the prisoners that the White Witch turned to stone.
William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)Edmund persuades Peter to lead Aslan’s army to fight the White Witch’s forces. To stop the Witch from attacking and killing Peter, Edmund attacks the White Witch and destroys her wand, but is gravely wounded by her. As the Witch fights Peter, Aslan arrives with reinforcements and kills her. After Edmund is revived by Lucy’s cordial, the Pevensies become Kings and Queens.
James McAvoy and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)Fifteen years later, the Pevensie children have grown into young men and women. While chasing a white stag through the forest, they encounter the lamppost that Lucy saw on her first trip to Narnia. They make their way through trees, arriving in the wardrobe at the same time and day they left, becoming children again. Lucy later attempts to return to Narnia via the wardrobe, but Professor Kirke tells her he has tried for many years, and they will probably return to Narnia when they least expect to.Tilda Swinton and Skandar Keynes in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)A Fantastic adaptation, the story never ages and is a delight for all the family

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER (1986)

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Sean Connery (The Hunt for Red October)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow)
Roxanne Hart (Easy)
Beatie Edney (Lost Empires)
Alan North (Police Squad)
Jon Polito (The Rocketeer)
Sheila Gish (Mansfield Park)
Hugh Quarshie (Star Wars – Episode I)
Celia Imrie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Christopher Malcolm (Labyrinth)
Billy Hartman (Emmerdale)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)

In 1985, Connor MacLeod, also known as the Highlander, is in New York City. In an arena parking garage, Connor is confronted by fellow immortal Iman Fasil, and decapitates him, upon which an energy surge destroys several cars around him. He hides his sword just as police swarm the exit to the garage, and arrest Connor.The story then goes back in time to the 16th century Scottish Highlands, in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. Connor and his clan, the Clan MacLeod, prepare for battle. Back in 1985, the police release Connor, as they have failed to get any information from him. One of the detectives involved, Brenda Wyatt, is an expert in metallurgy and recognises Fasil’s sword as an extremely rare Toledo Salamanca broadsword. Later, Connor returns to the garage to retrieve his own sword but sees Brenda is looking at the crime scene. She finds metal shards embedded in a concrete column and saves them for analysis.The scene returns to the Highlands, where the Kurgan assists the clan Fraser against the Clan MacLeod in exchange for the sole right to slaying Connor. In the resulting confrontation the Kurgan stabs Connor but is then driven off by the MacLeod clansmen. The wounded Connor is taken back to the village, and everyone assumes he will die. When he makes a remarkable overnight recovery, the village is convinced that it is the work of the devil. The villagers attempt to have Connor executed, but he is instead exiled by the clan leader out of mercy.In 1985, Connor lives under the alias Russell Nash and is a wealthy antiquities dealer. Meanwhile, the Kurgan takes up residence at a seedy motel. Connor tails Brenda to a bar, but she leaves quickly. She then tails Connor, but the Kurgan attacks them both. The fight is interrupted by a police helicopter, and everybody flees. Brenda analyzes the metal fragments and discovers them to be from a Japanese katana, dated about 600 B.C. but made with advanced technology for the era. She makes a date with Connor in an attempt to entrap him. Connor recognises the ruse, tells her to stop digging, and leaves.In the past, Connor lives an idyllic life with his wife Heather. One day, the mysterious Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez appears and begins training Connor in sword fighting. He explains that they both belong to a group of immortals, who constantly fight one another but can only be killed by complete decapitation. When one immortal decapitates another, the winner receives a transfer of power called “the quickening”. Eventually, all the immortals must do battle until there is only one left alive; the last survivor will receive “the Prize”. Ramirez tells Connor that the Kurgan, by that time the strongest of the immortals, must not win the Prize, or mankind will enter a dark age. One night, while Connor is away, the Kurgan attacks, decapitating Ramirez and raping Heather.In Central Park, Connor meets a long-time friend, fellow immortal Sunda Kastagir. They talk about the impending gathering of immortals which precedes the final battle, and they joke about old times. Brenda has by now discovered that Connor has been alive for centuries, living under false identities, faking his death every few decades, signing his assets over to children who had died at birth, and assuming their identities. She confronts Connor, who demonstrates his immortality. After this revelation, Brenda and Connor become lovers, although Connor is reluctant, following a flashback in which Connor’s wife, Heather, dies of old age in his arms. Ramirez has earlier explained that immortals cannot have children and should not get romantically involved. Ramirez reveals his Japanese katana was made specifically for him by the father of his third wife.Lupinranger-vs-Patranger-vs-Kyuranger-Patrangers-LuckyThe Kurgan finds Kastagir, killing him and wounding a man who witnessed his beheading. When the Kurgan finds out about Connor’s relationship with Brenda, he kidnaps her to draw Connor out. After a climactic battle at the Silvercup Studios in Queens, Connor defeats and beheads the Kurgan. He receives the Prize, which manifests itself as a massive quickening. Now mortal and capable of having children, Connor returns to Scotland with Brenda. Connor now has awareness of people’s thoughts around the world, and promises to use his gift to encourage cooperation and peace in mankind.

What a fine 1980s film and a chance to see the sadly missed Sean Connery at his immaculate best. Furthermore Christopher Lambert is brilliant in the lead. This is the film that started the beloved franchise.

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN (2017)

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CAST

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Elena Anaya (Point Blank)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Saïd Taghmaoui (Conan The Barbarian)
Samantha Jo (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Ann Ogbomo (World War Z)
Lisa Loven Kongsli (Occupied)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Rachel Pickup (Basil)
Florence Kasumba (Black Panther)

In present-day Paris, Diana Prince, curator for the Louvre’s Department of Antiquities,[8] receives a World War I-era photographic plate couriered by the Wayne Enterprises and recalls her past.Diana was born and raised on the hidden island of Themyscira, home to the Amazon race of warrior women created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect humankind. In the distant past, Ares, the god of war, slew all his fellow gods, but his father, Zeus, struck him down. Before perishing from his injuries, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon capable of killing his renegade son: the “Godkiller”, which Diana believes to be a ceremonial sword. Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, believes that Ares will never return and forbids Diana from training as a warrior, but Diana and her aunt, General Antiope, defy the queen and begin training in secret. When the two are discovered by Hippolyta, Antiope convinces her sister to allow Diana’s training to continue.As a young woman, Diana rescues Captain Steve Trevor, a pilot with the American Expeditionary Forces,[9] after his plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. The island is soon invaded by the landing party of a German cruiser pursuing Steve. The Amazons engage and kill all the German sailors, but Antiope dies intercepting a bullet meant for Diana. Interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals that World War I is raging in the outside world, and that he is an Allied spy. He stole a notebook with valuable information from chief chemist Isabel Maru, who is attempting to engineer a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the ceremonial sword and leaves Themyscira with Steve to find and destroy Ares.When the two arrive in London, they deliver Maru’s notebook to the Supreme War Council, including Sir Patrick Morgan, who is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Diana translates Maru’s notes and reveals that the Germans plan to release the deadly gas at the warfront. Although forbidden by his commanders to act, Steve, with secret funding from Sir Patrick, recruits spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief to help prevent the gas from being released. When the team reaches the Western Front in Belgium, they are halted by the enemy line, but Diana pushes alone through No man’s land and rallies the Allied forces behind her to liberate the village of Veld. The team briefly celebrates and takes the group photograph from the beginning of the film. Later that night, Diana and Steve bond and share a kiss.The team learns that a gala will be held at the nearby German High Command. Steve infiltrates the party, intending to locate the mustard gas and destroy it. Diana, however, believes Ludendorff is Ares and that killing him will end the war. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardizing the mission. Ludendorff unleashes the gas on Veld, killing its inhabitants. Diana blames Steve for the deaths and pursues Ludendorff to a base where the gas is being loaded into a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bound for London. Diana fights and kills Ludendorff, but is confused when his death does not stop the war.Sir Patrick appears and reveals that he is Ares. He tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, it is ultimately their decision to cause violence as they are inherently corrupt. After destroying the ceremonial sword, Ares reveals that Diana is the true “Godkiller”, as she is the daughter of Zeus. Ares attempts to convince Diana that she should help him destroy humankind to restore paradise on Earth. While the two battle and the rest of Steve’s team destroy Dr. Maru’s laboratory, Steve pilots the bomber carrying the gas to a safe altitude and detonates it, sacrificing himself in the process. Ares tries to harness Diana’s rage and grief by telling her to kill Dr. Maru, but Diana’s memories of Steve inspire her to decide that humans have good within them, and she spares Maru before destroying Ares. Back in London, the nation celebrates the end of the war.In the present day, Diana sends an e-mail to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve and reaffirms her mission to protect the world as Wonder Woman.The film is well rounded, the plot never leaves you bored, the humor is fresh and relatable, and the actors are so good! The costumes are realistic and the fight choreography is some of the best I’ve seen in a while!  It’s an awesome entry for the DC film universe.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 3

CAST

Peter Dinklage (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mama)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Emilia Clarke (Terminator: Genysis)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Richard Madden (Cinderella)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
Michelle Fairley (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charles Dance (Last Action Hero)
Liam Cunningham (Clash of The Titans)
Stephen Dillane (The Hours)
Carice van Houten (Black Book)
Natalie Dormer (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Isaac Hempstead-Wright (The Boxtrolls)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Rose Leslie (Honeymoon)
Alfie Allen (John Wick)
Jack Gleeson (Batman Begins)
John Bradley (Borgia)
Oona Chaplin (What If..)
Joe Dempsie (Monsters 2)
Sibel Kekilli (When We Leave)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
James Cosmo (Highlander)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Robert Pugh (Robin Hood)
Mackenzie Crook (Ironclad)
Kristofer Hivju (After Earth)
Mark Stanley (Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens)
Ben Crompton (Kill List)
Luke Barnes (The Last Hours of Lauara K)
Burn Gorman (Pacific Rim)
Hannah Murray (Skins)
Edward Dogliani (The Hybrid)
Natalia Tena (Harry Potter)
Iwan Rheon (Wild Bill)
Thomas Sangster (Wolf Hall)
Ellie Kendrick (Misfits)
Kristian Nairn (Four Warriors)
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Peter Vaughan (Brazil)
Tara Fitzgerald (Legend)
Josef Altin (Eastern Promises)
Charlotte Hope (The Theory of Everything)
Patrick Malahide (Quills)
Gemma Whelan (The Wolfman)
David Bradley (The World’s End)
Gwendoline Christie (The Hunger Games – Mockingjay – Part 2)
Richard Dormer (11 Minutes)
Paul Kaye (Match Point)
Clive Russell (Ripper Street)
Tobias Menzies (Atonement)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Michael McElhatton (Albert Nobbs)
Diana Rigg (The Avengers)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Finn Jones (Wrong Turn 5)
Esmé Bianco (The Scorpion King 4)
Daniel Portman (Outcast)
Ian Beattie (Alexander)
Paul Bentley (The Iron Lady)
Will Tudor (Vampire Academy)
Ian McElhinney (City of Ember)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Jacob Anderson (Adulthood)
Ed Skrein (Deadpool)

Stannis licks his wounds after his defeat in season two, becoming ever more obsessed with his new God and the Red Woman Melisandre, desperately trying to recuperate and get back in the game as a contender for the throne. Making life hard for his ever suffering but loyal second in command Davos as he attempts to reason with his Zealot obsessed king. Davos is such a likeable character and his loyalty to Stannis is both heart warming and heart breaking as we watch Davos desperately play off and counter the many savage suggestions of the religious Melisandre, with great chemistry between all three characters you can feel the tension in the room with every scene as the two confidants battle for their kings mind which is forever unbalanced and as likely to take either side depending on his mood.

Daenerys begins her liberation of slavers bay quickly gaining momentum and power throughout the series in the way only the dragon born can, quickly becoming the most powerful character in the show, gathering more and more allies to her cause, she becomes seemingly unstoppable, yet remains one of the viewers favourite candidates for the throne as she shows again and again compassion and fairness for the people she comes into contact with, really becoming the light in this dark world. Followed by her loyal and love struck aid Jorah he also has new challenges to face as he finds himself in competition with the new allies flocking to her side, including the humiliated Commander of the Kings Guard from season one Ser Barristen Selmy and the handsome Daario Naharis of the Second Sons mercenaries.

Robb Stark once again faces betrayal as he attends his grandfathers funeral in River Run, introducing us at last to the Tullys including the humorous Blackfish and the Mr Bean of Westeros; Edmure Tully. Watching Robb struggle to handle the political aspect is quite sad as we watch the young wolf, who has never lost a battle decline purely due to his lack of political leadership and his restricting honour, both marching him towards a fate like his fathers. The similarities between Ned and Robb become more apparent as he makes foolish decisions all in vain attempts to do the right thing or make up for mistakes made, all culminating in one of the most memorable and terrible scenes of the entire show.MV5BMjI5MzMyMzAzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjcyMTEwOQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_Theon Greyjoy, probably has the worst time of it in this season, after his betrayal of Robb in season two he finds himself captured by an unknown assailant and very very violently tortured both Physically and psychologically as well as mutilated, forever distorting and changing the character into somebody entirely new. Despite his betrayals and actions in season two you really begin to feel for the character again very early on, even forgiving his actions as he confesses how he really feels about himself and is made the play thing of the sadistic Ramsey Snow.  Tyrion continues to play the game in kings landing, battling with his sister for their fathers approval who has now taken his place as Hand of the King. Tyrion now has a harder time keeping his head above water, struck from all his power by his father, Tyrion is left vulnerable to the cruelty of Joffrey who continues to enjoy torturing his subjects. Watching him keep his composure under such odds and witnessing the cruelty of his father first hand, Tyrion remains a solid favourite of the fans, who after his heroes exploits in season two deserves a lot more than he gets in this season.

Jon Snow follows his new Wildling lifestyle while ever secretly looking for an opportunity to escape back to his fellow men of the nights watch, Jon Snow begins to realise the real threat to Westeros and begins to understand that the only way to win the real war is unity… something nobody else wants. Breaking his nights watch vows and literally skating on real thin ice Jon begins to craft himself as the hero Westeros needs. Jaime Lannister continues life as captive, with the ever honourable and faithful Brienne charged with transporting him the two run into all sorts of adventures on their way to Kings Landing, including run ins with not so honourable Stark Soliders, farmers and then the sadistic soldiers of house Bolton and their leader Lock. Survival looks bleak for the pair and as Jaime attempts his usual charm and smarmy talk to get out of a situation it backfires changing his life forever, if he survives.

Overall, definitely the best season so far, completely shifting the power around the country and countless heartbreaking revelations and moments, this is the defining season that will make and break lifelong fans, if you thought the execution of Ned Stark was the pinnacle of Game of Thrones, that seems like child’s play after this season.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 2

MAIN CAST
Peter Dinklage (Death at a Funeral)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Black Hawk Down)
Michelle Fairley (Chatroom)
Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genysis)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
Kit Harington (Seventh Son)
Charles Dance (Underworld 3)
Liam Cunningham (Dog Soldiers)
Isaac Hempstead-Wright (The Boxtrolls)
Richard Madden (Cinderella)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Alfie Allen (The Other Boleyn Girl)
John Bradley (Borgia)
Jack Gleeson (Batman Begins)
Rory McCann (Solomon Kane)
Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Stephen Dillane (The Hours)
Carice Van Houten (Black Book)
James Cosmo (Highlander)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Conleth Hill (Suits)
Sibel Kekilli (Tatort)
Tom Wlaschiha (Resistance)
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NOTABLE RECURRING/GUEST STARS
Jason Momoa (Stargate: Atlantis)
Rose Leslie (Honeymoon)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Mark Stanley (Star Wars – Episode VII)
Ben Crompton (Ideal)
Julian Glover (Indiana Jones 3)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast 1989)
Eugene Simon (House of Anubis)
Esme Bianco (the Scorpion King 4)
Donald Sumpter (K-19)
Ron Donachie (Titanic)
Natalia Tena (Harry Potter)
Kristian Nairn (Ripper Street)
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Ian Beattie (Vikings)
Daniel Portman  (River City)
Gemma Whelan (The Wolfman)
Patrick Malahide (Fortress 2)
Nonso Anozie (Dracula)
Roxanne McKee (Wrong Turn 5)
Amrita Acharia (I Am Yours)
Elyes Gabel (World War Z)
Oona Chaplin (What If…)
Finn Jones (Wrong Turn  5)
Michael McElhatton (Blow Dry)
Gethin Anthony (Aquarius)
Gwendoline Christie (Doctor Parnassus)
Ian Whyte (Alien Vs Predator)
Joe Dempsie (Monsters 2)
Robert Pugh (Love Bite)
Ben Crompton (Hit & Miss)
Eugene Simon (Ben-Hur
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Having won three victories, Robb Stark offers the Lannisters peace in exchange for the North’s independence, sending Theon Greyjoy to gain Balon Greyjoy’s support and Catelyn Stark to seek Renly Baratheon’s. Cersei Lannister rejects Robb’s terms. Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister exiles Janos Slynt, head of the Gold Cloaks, to the Wall, promoting Bronn to commander of the watch.
Catelyn arrives at King Renly’s camp to negotiate an alliance, and Brienne of Tarth wins the right to join Renly’s guard. Catelyn and Brienne witness Renly’s murder at the hands of dark magic sent by the ‘Red Lady’ Melisandre, an emissary of Renly’s brother and rival claimant to the Iron Throne Stannis Baratheon. Catelyn and Brienne flee Renly’s camp and rejoin Robb’s army as Renly’s supporters switch their allegiance to Stannis. Meanwhile, Theon betrays the Starks by siding with his father and seizing Winterfell by force. Robb receives news of Theon’s plans and sends men to retake Winterfell, while inside the city the Starks’ allies form plans to sneak Bran and Rickon Stark out.
Robb learns that his mother Catelyn has secretly freed Jaime Lannister, now escorted by Brienne of Tarth, in order to ransom her daughters Sansa and Arya; he also enters into a romantic relationship with Volantene healer Talisa Maegyr. Yara Greyjoy arrives at Winterfell to bring Theon back to the Iron Islands, after his botched attempt to recapture the Stark boys.
Tywin Lannister leaves Harrenhal, which allows Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie to make an escape with the help of the enigmatic Jaqen H’ghar. In King’s Landing, Cersei attempts to blackmail Tyrion by abducting the prostitute, Ros, whom Cersei believes to be his secret lover. Leading the defense against Stannis’ attack on King’s Landing, Tyrion destroys many of the attacking craft with an exploding ship full of wildfire, and is forced to lead a counterattack as King Joffrey Baratheon and his bodyguard Sandor Clegane each desert the battlefield. Stannis’s forces make it inside the castle, but Tyrion leads his men behind the Baratheon forces via underground tunnels and attacks. Baratheon is defeated when Tywin’s forces arrive at King’s Landing shortly after.
Following Khal Drogo’s death, Daenerys and the remnants of her khalasar find refuge in the city of Qarth, where they are taken in by the merchant Xaro Xhoan Daxos. However, Xaro conspires with the warlock Pyat Pree to kill most of Daenerys’ servants, kidnap her dragons and assume control of Qarth. Daenerys is lured into a showdown with Pyat Pree at the House of the Undying, where her dragons kill Pyat Pree. Daenerys seals Xaro in his own vault as punishment for his treachery and leaves Qarth with Jorah and her remaining servants.Whilst on a ranging beyond the Wall, Jon Snow captures a Wildling, Ygritte, who soon leads him into a trap where he himself is captured by Ygritte’s fellow wildlings. Amongst the wildlings’ prisoners is fellow ranger Qhorin Halfhand, who convinces Jon to kill him in order to gain the wildlings’ trust so he can get close to their leader, King-beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder. The rest of the rangers set up camp at an ancient fortification, the Fist of the First Men, where they come under attack from an ancient enemy, the White Walkers. Season 2 is superior to Season 1. This show is quite extraordinary and just gets better and better as it progresses. Although the climax of each episode means the end, it’s not without some amazing cliffhanger which makes you crave for more.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Sean Bean (Lord of The Rings)
Mark Addy (The Full Monty)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Oblivion)
Michelle Fairley (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Kit Harringron (Pompeii)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Alfie Allen (John Wick)
Richard Madden (Cinderella)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (The Awakening)
Jack Gleeson (Batman Begins)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Peter Dinklage (Elf)
Jason Momoa (Conan The Barbarian)
Harry Lloyd (The Theory of Everything)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
James Cosmo (Highlander)
Peter Vaughn (Brazil)
Brian Fortune (Savage)
Joseph Mawle (Ripper Street)
Francis Magee (Layer Cake)
Owen Teale (The Last Legion)
John Bradley (Borgia)
Josef Altin (Les Miserables)
Mark Stanley (Star Wars – Episode VII)
Bronson Webb (The Dark Knight)
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Clive Mantle (Alien 3)
Donald Sumpter (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Ronald Donachie (Titanic)
Jamie Sives (Rush)
Susdan Brown (The Iron Lady)
Kristian Nairn (The Four Warriors)
Natalie Tena (Harry Potter)
Charles Dance (Last Action Hero)
Lino Facioli (Get Him to The Greek)
David Bradley (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Katie Dickie (Prometheus)
Ian Gelder (Pope Joan)
Conan Stevens (The Hobbit)
Jerome Flynn (Loving Vincent)
Sibel Kekilli (When We Leave)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Gethin Anthony (Aquarius)
Conleth Hill (Whatever Works)
Joe Dempsie (Monsters: Dark Continent)
Esme Bianco (The Scorpion King 4)
Finn Jones (The Last Showing)
Ben Hawkey (Ra.One)
Roxanne McKee (Wrong Turn 5)
Elys Gabel (Warld War Z)
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If you have read the books then you will have the added advantage of going into this series with some serious background knowledge, which, given the expanse of Martin’s literature, can only be a good thing. It is good to see the characters portrayed on screen by, what can only be described as, an excellent cast. My personal favourites are Sean Bean  who plays Lord Eddard Stark, the proud, strong and brave Lord of Winterfell, the icy kingdom of the north. And, Peter Dinklage, who gives, as ever, a wonderful performance as Tyrion of House Lannister, a noble-born dwarf cursed by the hatred of his proud father but blessed with an unmatchable wit and intelligence.

Martin’s fantasy literature is about believability and realism; it is completely unlike Tolkien in that way. Whereas Tolkien favoured Orcs, Goblins, castles and wizards, Martin prefers the medieval touch, dealing with knights, lords and priests. One good thing is that Martin had a very close hand in the production of this series which means very little tinkering has been done. If you compare it to The Pillars of the Earth for example, parts of the tv series didn’t even come close to representing what happened in the book leaving hardcore fans a little bewildered, and not a little irritated. Martin’s books though are so jam-packed with plot and character building that there really isn’t much room for artistic license for the directors. They have a lot of story to get through, and only 10 episodes to do it in!!

If you have never read Martin before then, what can you expect? Well, it is fantasy first and foremost . Without spoiling or giving anything away the main plot is basically this: the continent of Westeros, ruled by king Robert Baratheon, falls into turmoil amidst a hungry power struggle between the realms nobles and knights. Expect a lot of plot twists and cliffhangers at the end of each episode. I would highly recommend people to take the time to see this series and get into the number 1 fantasy series of the modern era.