REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 8

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CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Jason Statham (Safe)
Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Scott Eastwood (Fury)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Tego Calderón (Illegal Tender)
Don Omar (Los Bandoleros)
Luke Evans (Dracula untold)
Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones)
Helen Mirren (Red)

Dominic “Dom” Toretto and Letty Ortiz are on their honeymoon in Havana when Dom is challenged to a street race at an auto show by local racer Raldo. Dom races for Raldo’s car, intending to give it to his cousin Fernando, while wagering his own show car. After narrowly winning the race, Dom allows Raldo to keep his car, earning his respect, and instead leaves his cousin with his show car. The next day, Dom is approached by elusive cyberterrorist Cipher, who coerces him into working for her.Shortly after the encounter, Dom and his team, comprising Letty, Roman Pearce, Tej Parker, and Ramsey, are recruited by Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent Luke Hobbs to help him retrieve an EMP device from a military outpost in Berlin. During the getaway, Dom goes rogue, forcing Hobbs off the road and stealing the device for Cipher. Hobbs is arrested and locked up in the same high-security prison he helped imprison Deckard Shaw in. After escaping, both are recruited by intelligence operative Frank Petty/Mr. Nobody and his protégé, Eric Reisner/Little Nobody, to help the team find Dom and capture Cipher.Deckard reveals that Cipher was the mastermind of previous encounters with the team, such as employing his brother Owen Shaw to steal the Nightshade device and orchestrating the attempted theft of God’s Eye, Ramsey’s software program.The team tracks Dom and Cipher to their very location just as they attack the base and steal God’s Eye. When Dom begins to question Cipher’s motives, she reveals that she has held Dom’s ex-lover and DSS agent Elena Neves – as well as their son, whose existence Dom was previously unaware of – hostage in order to keep Dom loyal to her. Elena tells Dom that the child was born as a result of an unintended pregnancy, and that she wanted him to decide the child’s first name, having already given him the middle name Marcos.Cipher then sends Dom to New York City to retrieve a nuclear football held by the Russian Minister of Defence.Dom manages to evade her for a short time through a diversion created by Raldo, allowing him to meet with and persuade Deckard and Owen’s mother, Magdalene Shaw, to help. The team intercepts Dom after he steals the nuclear football, but Dom escapes, shooting and apparently killing Deckard in the process. Cipher facilitates Dom’s escape by hacking into all of the autonomous cars in the city and reprogramming them to auto-drive, wreaking havoc throughout the city. Letty catches up to Dom, but is ambushed and nearly killed by Cipher’s enforcer, Connor Rhodes, before Dom rescues her. In retaliation, Cipher has Rhodes kill Elena in front of Dom.Dom is then sent to Russia to use the EMP device to disable a nuclear submarine, enabling Cipher to hijack it and attempt to use its arsenal to trigger a nuclear war. They are once again intercepted by the team, provided with modified vehicles by Petty. Meanwhile, Deckard, who had faked his death and been extracted by Tego Leo and Rico Santos, former members of Dom’s team, infiltrates Cipher’s plane to rescue Dom’s son at Magdalene’s behest, with the help of Owen. Once Deckard reports that the child is safe, Dom turns on Cipher and kills Rhodes, avenging Elena’s death, before rejoining his team. Outraged, Cipher launches an infrared homing missile at Dom, but he breaks away from his team and maneuvers around it, causing the missile to hit the submarine instead. The team quickly forms a vehicular blockade around Dom, shielding him from the ensuing explosion. When Deckard reaches the front of the plane and confronts Cipher, she makes her escape by parachuting out of the plane. Petty and Reisner visit Dom and his team in New York City to report that Cipher is still at large. Hobbs is offered his DSS job back, but he declines in order to spend more time with his daughter. Deckard then arrives to return Dom’s son, putting his differences aside with Dom and Hobbs in the process, and is accepted into their family. Dom decides to name his son Brian, after his friend and brother-in-law Brian O’Conner, and they celebrate.Fast and Furious 8 is awesome and does what it is trying to do which is entertain with crazy action sequences. A great action packed film to a solid franchise.

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REVIEW: THE THING (2011)

CAST

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield lane)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Ulrich Thomsen (Festen)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: The Dark World)
Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones)

In 1982, an alien spacecraft is discovered beneath the Antarctic ice by a team from a Norwegian research base: Edvard (Trond Espen Seim), Jonas (Kristofer Hivju), Olav (Jan Gunnar Røise), Karl (Carsten Bjørnlund), Juliette (Kim Bubbs), Lars (Jørgen Langhelle), Henrik (Jo Adrian Haavind), Colin (Jonathan Lloyd Walker), and Peder (Stig Henrik Hoff). Columbia University paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited by Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) and his assistant Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) to investigate the discovery.They travel to the Norwegian base, Thule Station, located in Antarctica near U.S. Outpost 31, in a helicopter manned by Carter (Joel Edgerton), Derek (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Griggs (Paul Braunstein). After viewing the spacecraft, Kate, Sander, and Adam are told the group also discovered an alien body from the crash, buried in the ice nearby. In the afternoon the body is brought to the base in a block of ice. That evening, while the team celebrates their find, Derek sees the alien burst from the ice and escape the building. The team searches for the creature and discovers that it killed Lars’ dog. Olav and Henrik find the alien, which then grabs and engulfs Henrik. The rest of the group arrive and set fire to the creature, killing it. An autopsy of the scorched alien corpse reveals that its cells were consuming and imitating Henrik’s own.Derek, Carter, Griggs and a sick Olav take the helicopter to seek help. Kate discovers bloody dental fillings near a blood-soaked shower. She runs outside to flag down the helicopter after it takes off. When it attempts to land, Griggs transforms into the Thing and attacks Olav, causing the helicopter to spin out of control and crash in the mountains. When Kate returns to the shower, she finds the blood is gone. The team decides to send a party to the closest base, but Kate confronts them with her theory that the Thing can imitate them and has likely already done so. They dismiss her claims, but Juliette says she saw Colin leaving the showers. When Juliette and Kate look for the vehicle keys to prevent the others from leaving, Juliette transforms and tries to attack Kate. As Kate flees, she runs past Karl, who is impaled by the creature. Lars arrives with a flamethrower and burns the creature just as it assimilates Karl. At nightfall, they burn the remains of the Juliette-Thing and Karl’s body.That night, Edvard, Kate and Lars find Carter and Derek stumbling into base, half frozen. The team refuses to believe that they could have survived the crash. Kate has them isolated until a test can be prepared to verify they are human. Adam and Sander had started to work on a test, but the lab is set on fire in the few minutes it’s left unattended. Kate proposes another test, believing that the Thing cannot imitate inorganic material. She inspects everyone and singles out those without amalgam dental fillings: Sander, Edvard, Adam, and Colin, while herself, Peder, Jonas and Lars are proven human.Lars and Jonas go to retrieve Carter and Derek for testing, and discover they have broken out. As Lars searches a nearby building, he is suddenly pulled inside. The group hears Carter and Derek breaking into the building and rushes to intercept them. In the middle of a standoff, Edvard orders Peder to burn them. Before he can, Derek shoots Peder dead in self-defense with Lars’ gun, but also punctures the flamethrower’s fuel tank, setting off an explosion that knocks Edvard unconscious. When brought to the rec room, Edvard transforms and infects Jonas and kills Derek before assimilating Adam. Kate torches the infected Jonas and Derek’s body before she and Carter pursue the Thing. While the pair searches, Sander is ambushed by the Thing and Colin hides in the radio room and isn’t seen again. They get separated and the Thing, into which Edvard and Adam are now fused, corners Carter in the kitchen, but Kate burns it before it can kill him. They then see an infected Sander drive off into the blizzard and pursue him in the remaining snowcat. While they are pursuing Sander, Kate notices that Carter is wearing his gold earring, reassuring her that he is still human at this point.They arrive at the spacecraft, where it suddenly activates and its engines begin to melt the ice over it. Kate falls into the ship and is separated from Carter. Kate discovers the source of the radio transmission at the beginning of the film, in the form of a giant glowing cylinder with strange geometric blocks forming and shifting apart, the signal still broadcasting. Confronted by Sander, who has transformed into a larger creature, Kate destroys it with a thermite grenade and the explosion deactivates the ship, shutting down its engines. Kate and Carter escape the ship and Carter suggests driving to a Soviet base about fifty miles away, saying that they’d stashed enough fuel in their snowcat to be just able to cover that distance.As Kate and Carter return to their vehicle, Kate notices that Carter is missing his earring and becomes suspicious. She tells him that she knew he was human earlier because he was still wearing the earring, implying she suspects he may have been assimilated while they were separated in the alien ship. Upon hearing this, Carter realizes that the earring is missing and points to his ear while attempting to explain its disappearance and reassure Kate. When Carter points to the wrong ear, Kate realizes he must have been assimilated and proceeds to burn him. She then retreats to Sander’s snowcat and stares blankly as the screen fades black. As the final credits roll, a helicopter pilot, Matias, arrives by morning at the now destroyed Norwegian outpost. He shouts, looking for any survivors. Colin is shown to have committed suicide in the radio room using a straight razor to slash both his arms and throat to ensure the Thing could never get to him. Matias sees the charred remains of the Adam/Edvard-Thing in the snow.Lars, now revealed to be alive and uninfected, orders Matias at gunpoint to show his dental fillings to prove that he is a human. The Thing, having taken the form of Lars’ deceased dog, runs out of the camp. Lars realizes it’s the Thing and orders Matias to start the helicopter. As the dog flees, the two chase it in the Norwegian helicopter, with Matias piloting and Lars leaning out of the open doorway, trying to shoot it with a scoped rifle, thus leading into the events of the 1982 film.The Thing does have its problems of course. The early talkie helicopter scene is obviously a nod to the very original movie in the 1950s. It’s a sad replacement, the 50s version dialogie was arguably filled with some of the richest dialogue for a horror/sci fi film at the time. Also you can feel that the film steps into remake territory with same as for scenes, although some of these are neatly spun on its head- so in the end there is no blood test etc. The effects are sadly all CGI, but they work quite well. Interestingly it’s the close up shots that work the best. The Thing is pretty much a solid homage to what has gone before and fans will love the end credits so hang around!

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 6

MAIN CAST

Peter Dinklage (The Boss)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Headhunters)
Lena Headey (The Purge)
Emilia Clarke (Terminator: Genisys)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Liam Cunningham (Dog Soldiers)
Carice van Houten (Black Book)
Natalie Dormer (The Forest)
Indira Varma (Human Target)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
Alfie Allen (The Other Boleyn Girl)
John Bradley (Patient Zero)
Tom Wlaschiha (Valkyrie)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Jonathan Pryce (Stigmata)
Kristofer Hivju (After Earth)
Michiel Huisman (The Young Victoria)
Michael McElhatton (Blow Dry)
Iwan Rheon (Misfits)
Dean-Charles Chapman (Will)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (The Boxtrolls)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Daniel Portman (Outcast)
Natalia Tena (Harry Potter)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Ellie Kendrick (An Education)
Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: DS9)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (Star Wars – Episode III)
Kristian Nairn (Ripper Street)
Gemma Whelan (Gulliver’s Travels)
Joseph Mawle (Abrham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Diana Rigg (The Avengers)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Finn Jones (Iron Fist)
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Owen Teale (King Arthur)
Patrick Malahide (Fortress 2)
Joe Naufahu (Power Rangers RPM)
Ben Crompton (All or Nothing)
Brenock O’Connor (Dickensian)
Charlotte Hope (The Musketeers)
Elizabeth Webster (Cockneys vs Zombies)
Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill)
Bella Ramsey (The Worst Witch 2017)
Michael Condron (High-Rise)
David Bradley (Harry Potter)
Tamer Hassan (Sucker Punch)
James Faulkner  (Underworld: Blood Wars)
Toby Sebastian (The Hollow Crown)
Clive Russell (The 13th Warrior)
Brian Fortune (The Inside)
Jacob Anderson (Adulthood)
Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist)
Ian Whyte (Prometheus)
Luke Roberts (300: Rise of an Empire)
Murray McArthur (The Last Legion)
Anton Lesser (Wolf Hall)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (The Brothers Grimm)
Eugene Simon (Casanova)

Following their escape from Winterfell, Sansa Stark journeys to the Wall, while Theon Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands. In Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton secures his claim on the North by killing Roose and Walda Bolton and his new-born half-brother. At the Wall, Melisandre resurrects Jon Snow, who is reunited with Sansa; they gather loyalists and a battle ensues. Aided by the Knights of the Vale, the Starks defeat the Bolton forces. Sansa feeds Ramsay to his hounds and Jon is proclaimed the King in the North. At King’s Landing, Jaime Lannister and the Tyrell army attempt to liberate Margaery and Loras, but Margaery capitulates to the High Sparrow and Tommen forges an alliance with the Faith. During Loras and Cersei’s trial, Cersei uses wildfire to burn the Great Sept, killing the High Sparrow, Margarey, Loras, Mace, Kevan, and Lancel, while Tommen kills himself after witnessing the events. Unopposed, Cersei is crowned Queen of Westeros. Ellaria Sand and three of Oberyn Martell’s daughters kill Doran and Trystane Martell and seize control of Dorne, and Olenna meets with Ellaria to discuss an alliance. In Braavos, Arya continues her training with the Faceless Men, and soon regains her eyesight. When she refuses to accomplish a mission, the Waif is ordered to kill Arya, who kills her instead. Arya reasserts her identity as a Stark and returns to Westeros. In the Riverlands, the Hound pursues the Brotherhood Without Banners for massacring the people who saved him. He finds Lord Beric Dondarrion executing his quarry, and is asked to join the Brotherhood traveling north. Jaime Lannister besieges Riverrun and takes the castle, killing the Blackfish after forcing Edmure Tully to order a surrender. Walder Frey celebrates the victory before being killed by Arya. Beyond the Wall, Bran Stark trains with the Three-Eyed Raven but alerts the Night King, who launches an attack of White Walkers. Bran and Meera escape and are rescued by Benjen Stark. Sam Tarly, Gilly, and Little Sam travel to the Citadel at Oldtown, stopping to visit Sam’s family. In Essos, Daenerys Targaryen is captured by Khal Moro who takes her before the khals; she burns them alive and takes command of the Dothraki. Tyrion Lannister brings a short-lived peace to Meereen, which is reinforced when Daenerys returns and flies her dragons into battle against the slavers. Yara and Theon arrive and pledge allegiance to Daenerys after Euron Greyjoy kills their father and usurps leadership of the Iron Islands. Jorah Mormont departs to find a cure for greyscale and Daario is left in command of Meereen, while Daenerys sails for Westeros. Game of thrones is without a doubt the best show on tv ever! Hooked from the very beginning. Season 6 is packed full of beautifully shot battle scenes and exquisite smaller moments, all of which showcase the immense talent of the entire cast and crew.

REVIEW: AFTER EARTH

CAST

Will Smith (Hanock)
Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid)
Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad MAx: Fury Road)
Kristofer Hivuju (Game of Thrones)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)

In the 21st century, an environmental cataclysm forces the human race to abandon Earth and to settle on a new world, Nova Prime. One thousand years later, the Ranger Corps, a peacekeeping organization commanded by General Cypher Raige (Will Smith), comes into conflict with the S’krell, alien creatures who intend to conquer Nova Prime. Their secret weapons are the Ursas, large predatory creatures that hunt by “sensing” fear. The Rangers struggle against the Ursas until Cypher learns how to completely suppress his fear, a technique called “ghosting”. After teaching this technique to the other Rangers, he leads the Ranger Corps to victory. Meanwhile, Cypher’s son Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) blames himself for the death of his sister Senshi (Zoë Kravitz) at the hands of an Ursa. Kitai trains to become a Ranger like Cypher, but his application is rejected due to his recklessness, and Cypher views him as a disappointment. Kitai’s mother Faia (Sophie Okonedo) convinces Cypher to take Kitai on his last voyage before retirement.

During their flight, however, an asteroid shower forces their spaceship to crash-land on the now-quarantined Earth, near erstwhile Central America. Both of Cypher’s legs are broken, and the main emergency rescue beacon damaged. Cypher instructs Kitai to locate the tail section of the ship, which broke off on entry to the atmosphere. Inside is the backup beacon which they can use to signal Nova Prime. Cypher gives Kitai his weapon, a wrist communicator, and six capsules of a fluid that enhances the oxygen intake so he can breathe in Earth’s low-oxygen atmosphere. Cypher warns him to avoid the highly evolved fauna and flora, and to beware of violent thermal shifts. Kitai leaves to find the tail section, with Cypher guiding him through the communicator.

Giant baboons attack Kitai, and during his escape a poisonous leech bites him. Kitai administers the antidote, but two of his capsules become damaged and his nervous system shuts down. When Kitai awakens, he narrowly escapes a thermal shift. Kitai lies to Cypher, not informing him of the damaged capsules. That night, Kitai listens to Cypher tell him a story of when he was attacked by an Ursa, how Cypher realized that fear is merely an illusion created by the mind’s thoughts of the future, and thus Cypher first began to “ghost” himself from the Ursas, choosing to live rather than to let his enemies – both fear and the Ursas – decide his fate.

The following day Kitai reaches a mountaintop, and Cypher learns about the broken capsules. Knowing that the only way to complete the journey with only two capsules would be to skydive, Cypher orders Kitai to abort the mission. Believing his father still sees him as a disappointment, Kitai blames Senshi’s death on Cypher’s absence on the day of the attack. He skydives from the mountaintop, but a large eagle captures him and his communicator is damaged. Kitai wakes in the eagle’s nest, surrounded by its chicks. Tigers attack the chicks, and Kitai defends—but fails to save—the chicks. The eagle attacks the tigers, and Kitai escapes. He reaches a river, and builds a raft to continue along it. Tired, Kitai falls asleep on the raft. He dreams of his sister, Senshi, who reassures him that Cypher’s bitterness is just his own anger for not saving her. Senshi urges Kitai to wake up. When he does, another thermal shift catches him by surprise and he nearly freezes to death. Kitai is rescued by the eagle, who sacrifices itself for him.

Kitai reaches the tail section and retrieves the emergency beacon along with another communicator, weapon, and more oxygen capsules. The communicator only allows Cypher to see and hear Kitai, but not for Kitai to hear him. Kitai learns that the ship’s Ursa escaped and killed the remnants of the crew. The emergency beacon does not activate, and Cypher realizes that the atmosphere is blocking the signal. Kitai heads to a nearby volcano from which he can launch the beacon, and is injured when the Ursa attacks him. Kitai is able to control his fear and “ghost” himself from the Ursa enough to kill it. He then launches the beacon. A rescue team arrives, and the film ends with the two traveling back to Nova Prime, both agreeing that they would rather work with Faia.I believe the whole bad feedback about this movie comes from the fact that it was directed by Shyamalan and that Smith senior was not the main star. If you get past the fact that Shyamalan’s previous offerings were simply horrible and alleviate the pressure of performing as a blockbuster, you’ll find that this was actually a decent movie.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 5

MAIN CAST
Peter Dinklage (Threshold)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Kingdom of Heaven)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Emilia Clarke (Termiantor: Genysis)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charles Dance (Last Action Hero)
Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2)
Stephen Dillane (The Hours)
Liam Cunningham (Clash of The Titans)
Carice van Houten (Black Book)
Indira Varma (Human Target)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
John Bradley-West (Borgia)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Alfie Allen (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Michiel Huisman (The Young Victoria)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars – Episode VIII)
Kristofer Hivju (After Earth)
Tom Wlaschiha (16 Blocks)
Dean-Charles Chapman (Before I Go To Sleep)
Michael McElhatton (Blow Dry)
Iwan Rheon (Misfits)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: DS9)
DeObia Oparei (Doom)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (The Almighty Johnsons)
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Mia and Me)
Jessica Henwick (Silk)
Toby Sebastian (Barley Lethal)
Nell Tiger Free (Mr Stink)
Diana Rigg (The Avengers)
Jonathan Pryce (Stigmata)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Anton Lesser(Charlotte Gray)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (A Knight’s Tale)
Ian Beattie (Alexander)
Finn Jones (Iron Fist)
Will Tudor (Humans)
Eugene Simon (Casanova)
Daniel Portman (River City)
Lino Facioli (Get Him To The Greek)
Ian McElhinney (Hornblower)
Jacob Anderson (4.3.2.1.)
Joel Fry (10,000 BC)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost)
Charlotte Hope (les Miserables)
Elizabeth Webster (Call The Widwife)
Tara Fitzgerald (I Capture The Castle)
Kerry Ingram (Wolf Hall)
Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Peter Vaughan (Chancer)
Owen Teale (Stella)
In Meereen, the insurgent “Sons of the Harpy” have started to revolt against Daenerys Targaryen’s regime by murdering citizens and Unsullied, also taking the life of Barristan Selmy. In order to regain peace and control, Daenerys complies with the request of re-opening the fighting pits. Tyrion Lannister arrives in Pentos along with Varys, and they begin their journey to Meereen together. They pass through Volantis, where Tyrion is abducted by Jorah Mormont, who takes him to Meereen as a way to redeem himself to Daenerys. Daenerys takes Tyrion as her advisor, but orders Jorah exiled once more. After the Sons of the Harpy mount an attack on Daenerys and her retinue at the fighting pits, Jorah saves her life. Drogon reappears and Daenerys flies away on his back. Drogon flies far away from Meereen and Daenerys quickly finds herself surrounded by Dothraki horsemen. Jorah and Daario Naharis leave to search for Daenerys, while Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm remain to rule Meereen.
At the Wall, Stannis Baratheon has Mance Rayder burned alive for treason. Stannis promises Jon Snow legitimacy and rule of Winterfell should he ride with him against the Boltons, but Jon declines the offer and stays at the Wall. As newly elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon forms an alliance with the Wildlings, much to the dismay of the rest of the Night’s Watch. They begin evacuating Wildlings at Hardhome, when the settlement suddenly comes under attack from White Walkers and their wight armies. Though many die and are revived as wights, the brothers still manage to rescue a large number of Wildlings and Jon leads them through the tunnel to Castle Black, south of the Wall. After Samwell Tarly and Gilly leave for Oldtown and Maester Aemon passes away, the majority of the Night’s Watch become disillusioned with Jon’s leadership and see him as a traitor. They lure Jon into a trap and stab him, leaving him to die.
In the Vale, Littlefinger puts Robin Arryn in the care of House Royce and leaves for Winterfell with Sansa Stark. Brienne, still loyal to the oath she swore to Catelyn Stark, and her squire Podrick follow them. In Winterfell, Sansa is reunited with Reek and marries Ramsay Bolton to form an alliance between the Vale and the Boltons. Ramsay subjects Sansa to physical and psychological abuse, including raping her on their wedding night while forcing Reek to watch. After Reek reveals to Sansa that he did not kill her brothers Bran and Rickon, the two escape together, jumping off the castle walls.
At his camp in the North, Stannis reluctantly acquiesces to Melisandre’s demands to burn Shireen alive as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. As a result, his wife Selyse is found hanging from a noose and half of his forces desert him. The remaining Baratheon forces ride for Winterfell, but are soon defeated by the Boltons. In the aftermath of the battle, Stannis is apparently killed by Brienne of Tarth. Melisandre flees for Castle Black.
In King’s Landing, Lancel Lannister returns, now a member of the devoutly religious “Sparrows”. Following the wedding of Margaery Tyrell and Tommen Baratheon, Cersei Lannister begins losing control of Tommen, and with him her power source. She tries to regain her status by authorizing the revival of the Faith Militant, the military wing of the Faith of the Seven. The Sparrows quickly begin imposing their puritanical views upon King’s Landing by ridding it of all “sins”, in the process also seizing Loras Tyrell for being homosexual. They proceed to imprison him, as well as Margaery and Cersei herself for committing various sins. Cersei is released after confessing to adultery with Lancel and being forced to march naked through King’s Landing.
In Dorne, the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell, seek vengeance against the Lannisters for the death of their father. After a threatening message arrives, Bronn and Jaime Lannister travel to Dorne, planning to rescue Myrcella Baratheon. Oberyn’s brother Doran Martell discovers that Ellaria Sand had sent the message and allows Jaime and Myrcella to leave for King’s Landing, provided Myrcella’s betrothed Trystane Martell joins them and obtains a seat on the Small Council. En route to King’s Landing, Myrcella dies, having been poisoned by Ellaria.
Arya Stark arrives in Braavos and starts training with the Faceless Men, guided by Jaqen H’ghar and another young woman. She disguises herself as an oyster seller and is told to kill a dishonest insurance agent at the harbor. But after Meryn Trant’s arrival, Arya steals a false face from the temple and assassinates him instead. Doing so causes her to go blind.
The adaptation continues to hit its sweet spot of getting complex stories from the novels across on screen in a simpler form, but one that is also clearer, more concise and retaining the thematic essentials whilst paring away unnecessary  supporting material and characters. King’s Landing particularly benefits from this, with lots of minor politics involving new or vanishingly minor characters swept aside in favour of a more ruthless focus on Cersei’s growing hatred of the Tyrells and the arrival of the High Sparrow, played with flawless passion by Jonathan Pryce. This culminates in the excellent, distressing “Walk of Shame” sequence, in which Lena Headey knocks it out of the park as Cersei is humiliated to the point where even the most hardened viewer may feel sorry for her, despite her many crimes.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 4

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MAIN CAST
Peter Dinklage (Threshold)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Kingdom of Heaven)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Emilia Clarke (Terminator:L Genysis)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charles Dance (Last Action Hero)
Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Liam Cunningham (Wrath of The Titans)
Stephen Dillane (The Hours)
Carice van Houten (Black Book)
Jack Gleeson (Batman Begins)
Alfie Allen (Elizabeth)
Isaac Hempstead-Wright (The Box Trolls)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (Cyberbully)
John Bradley (Borgia)
Rose Leslie (honeymoon)
Kristofer Hivju (The Thing)
Hannah Murray (Skins)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars – Episode VII)
Iwan Rheon (Misfits)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Sibel Kekilli (Tatort)
Iain Glen (Kick-Ass 2)
GUEST / RECURRING CAST
Diana Rigg (The Avengers)
Pedro Pascal (The Mentalist)
Indira Varma (Human Target)
Daniel Portman (River City)
Julian Glover (Troy)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (A Knight’s Tale)
Anton Lesser (Charlotte gray)
Finn Jones (Wrong Turn 5)
Dean-Charles Chapman (Ripper Street)
Ian Beattie (Alexander)
Michiel Huisman (The Young Victoria)
Ian McElhinney (Hornblower)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Jacob Anderson (4.3.2.1.)
Ciarán Hinds(the Woman In Black)
Thomas Sangster(Love Actually)
Ellie Kendrick (Being Human)
Kristian Nairn (Ripper Street)
Burn Gorman(The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael McElhatton (Intermission)
Peter Vaughan (Silk)
Owen Teale (Stella)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Mark Stanley (Dickensian)
Ben Crompton (Doctor Who)
Josef Altin (The Young Victoria)
Charlotte Hope (Les Miserables)
Elizabeth Webster (Call The midwife)
Gemma Whelan (The Wolfman)
Kate Dickie (Tinsel Town)
Lino Facioli (Get Him to The Greek)
Whilst nothing in Series 4 comes quite as close to the sheer jaw dropping drama of Series 3 classic episode “The Red Wedding” the Series 4 finale has a quality about it that can only be found in great films like “The Godfather II”. The drama unfolds in almost a Shakespearian fashion and whilst loose ends are tied up a myriad of questions evolve out of the pulsating script. The acting throughout deserves Grammys by the shedload not least one of the most unlikely “buddy” pairings in TV history namely Ayra Stark (the brilliant Maisie Williams) and the strangely loveable uber thug “The Hound”. The scriptwriters have also played a huge role in this series with more deviations from George R R Martins books which makes the plot and storyline sharper and more dynamic. For example that gigantic Brienne and the Hound fight never happened in the novels, but it was stellar television. The other key dimension of the series is that the multiplicity of individual story lines are now merging ever closer so the overall plot line is much clearer and the context more powerful. Despite the ritual disposal of numerous major characters in Series 4 the deep fascination of the future of existing characters like the mystic Bran, the heroic Jon Snow, the Machiavellian “Littlefinger” and the worlds most popular dwarf (Peter Dinklage) is utterly engrossing. We also have nagging doubts emerging not least is Daenerys Targaryen’s unstoppable rise now threatened by her errant dragons, and whilst the key figure of Stannis Baratheon looms large was that also an alluring smile from the sinister but sexy Melisandre, the priestess of the Lord of Light to Jon Snow? Meanwhile beyond the Wall in the frozen north the Whitewalkers are massing.

Game of Thrones has been renewed for a further two seasons and we are informed that the day after the premiere of season 4, filming started in Belfast on the next instalment.The new season is scheduled to start on TV between the end of March and mid-April 2015. Can however the programmes show runners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, be asked nicely by all Amazon readers to get a move on and bring this true wonder back to our screens. Indeed this reviewer could be reduced to begging. Game of Thrones – Series 4 is absolutely essential television and the best current drama on the small screen.

 

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)
Untitled
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)
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.

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.