REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 8

Starring

Peter Dinklage (Avengers: Endgame)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (A Thousand Times Good Night)
Lena Headey (Terminator: TSCC)
Emilia Clarke (Last Christmas)
Kit Harington (The Eternals)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (New Mutants)
Liam Cunningham (Harry Brown)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Alfie Allen (John Wick)
John Bradley (Anna Karenina)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (The Awakening)
Gwendoline Christie (Welcome To Marwen)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
Rory McCann (Jumanji: The Next Level)
Jerome Flynn (John Wick: Chapter 3)
Kristofer Hivju (The Witcher)
Joe Dempsie (Monsters: Dark Continent)
Jacob Anderson (Chatroom)
Iain Glen (Titans)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Carice van Houten (Black Death)

Kit Harington and Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones (2011)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Richard Dormer (The Mighty Clet)
Ben Crompton (Blood)
Daniel Portman (Robert The Bruce)
Rupert Vansittart (Outlander)
Bella Ramsey (The Worst Witch)
Megan Parkinson (Ackley Bridge)
Richard Rycroft (The Turn)
Pilou Asbæk (Lucy)
Anton Lesser (Wolf Hall)
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Kickboxer: Retaliation)
Gemma Whelan (Emma)
Marc Rissmann (Overlord)
Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Lino Facioli (Get Him To The Greek)
Josephine Gillan (Amy and Sophia)
Staz Nair (Supergirl)
Rob McElhenney (Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Far from Home)

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)Well, that’s it. Game of Thrones is over after eight years, and I don’t blame you if Game of Thrones season 8 leaves a slightly bad taste in your mouth. While it has its good moments, most of this season is simply too rushed, with characters taking minutes to make decisions that in previous seasons would have taken days. I would hope this goes without saying, but if you haven’t seen the final episode yet you should stop reading right now, as there are about to be some serious spoilers for the entirety of Game of Thrones season 8.Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)It starts out promising in the first episode, Winterfell, which shows our cast of characters responding to Daenerys coming North and the oncoming preparations for the Battle of Winterfell. We get some much-needed downtime to let the characters actually talk and react to revelations that came at the tail end of season 7, and this is where Game of Thrones shines: when people have the chance to play the politics game, charming and planning their next move from behind the scenes. Yet while we get plenty of that in the first episode and episode 2 (The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms), the rest of season 8 is a spectacle, for better and for worse.Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Kristofer Hivju, Gwendoline Christie, and Daniel Portman in Game of Thrones (2011)While two episodes dedicated to game-changing battles would have felt like the payoff after several episodes of planning in earlier seasons, this finale makes the mistake of sacrificing build-up in favour of pure shock factor. To be fair, with only six episodes there wasn’t really any other way it could be done, but nonetheless Game of Thrones simply deserves better. Watching the battles in Winterfell and King’s Landing play out doesn’t feel like the satisfying pay-off it needed to be after all the key players had carefully moved their pawns into place over weeks of plotting, so it lacked the emotional weight that came with the Battle of the Bastards or the duel between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain.Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Kristofer Hivju, Gwendoline Christie, and Daniel Portman in Game of Thrones (2011)Having said that, the best episode of the series is clearly The Long Night, where the Night King finally arrives for a showdown eight years in the making. Although we don’t get any insight into what those swirly symbols he kept leaving mean, or hear from his own lips why he wants to destroy Westeros, the battle does an almighty great job of showing that all our fears about him are well-founded. Each character grows in that fight: Sandor reaffirms his fear of fire, reminding us that he’s not healed from being abused by The Mountain as a child, Arya realises her destiny, Melisandre fulfills her purpose, and despite all their tactical maneuvering, Sansa and Tyrion realise that they can’t control everything. It should have been the punctuation note on a handful of episodes of build up yet, even still, The Long Night does the forces of the Night King justice… even if they can’t protect him from Arya’s stabby blade.Peter Dinklage and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones (2011)Daenerys’ descent into madness makes sense in hindsight, but – and yes, I’ve already mentioned this – dedicating a little bit more time to her unravelling sanity, especially after Rhaegal and Missandei’s death, would have allowed her massacre at King’s Landing to make more sense. Morality aside, she literally said that she’d take what was hers with fire and blood, so there has been quite a bit of foreshadowing when it comes to her rampage with Drogon. But, as with the whole of season 8, it’s not enough. There’s few things as satisfying as realising that the answer was right in front of your eyes all along, like Olenna using Sansa’s necklance to murder Joffrey or Littlefinger being the one behind Ned’s arrest, and I can’t help but feel a little cheated that Daenery’s madness doesn’t get the same treatment.Game of Thrones (2011)Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of the Mad Queen is exceptional from start to finish though, whether it’s her subtle expressive cues reflecting Dany’s transition from shock, to grief, to fury at Missandei’s death, or her rage-fuelled topple into insanity triggered by the sound of the bells at Kings Landing. Seriously, someone give that woman an Emmy already.Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)More delicious moments like that are held back from us in season 8 though, and the fact that we aren’t given much time to reflect on Dany’s madness means that her eventual death felt unearned, in a morbid sort of way. When she speaks with Jon in the finale, we see a brief glimpse of how she views the innocents she killed as evidence of her weakness, (paradoxically) thinking that Cersei was using them as bargaining chips. In Daenerys’ mind, killing them makes her strong. She’s more like Cersei than any of us thought, yet not being able to see her reign – or at least deal with the displaced inhabitants of Kings Landing – feels like a mistake.Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)The Game of Thrones ending did as much as it could to tie up one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of the 21st century, but with so little time to do so, it was always going to feel slightly… meh. Almost all the decisions make sense (Bran being king could have done with a bit more explaining, especially considering Sansa’s suitability to rule) and having some characters come full circle feels right, but it did come across as rushed. And a little too happy, to be perfectly honest.Game of Thrones (2011)Game of Thrones has made us come to expect that bittersweet tinge left in our mouths at the end of each season, giving us endings that feel fair yet hard to stomach, so it’s a surprise that so many characters survive with a smile on their face. In the end, we all expected more from Game of Thrones. Season 8 doesn’t feel like it was earned, with too little time dedicated to growing characters paired with a greater emphasis on rushing to major plot points, rather than proving to those of us watching how inevitable they were. Oh well. At least Ghost got petted in the end.

 

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)
Deobia Oparei (Santa Clarita Diet)
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)
Anton Lesser (Allied)
Clive Russell (The 13th Warrior)

Essie Davies (Mindhorn)
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)
Roger Ashton-Griffiths (The Brothers Grimm)
Eugene Simon (Casanova)
Staz Nair (Supergirl)
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Spides)
Hannah Waddingham (Krypton)
Kae Alexander (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil)
Nell Tiger Free (Servant)
Hannah John-Kamen (The Stranger)
Lino Facioli (Get Him To The GReek)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Pilou Asbæk (Ghost In The Shell)
Faye Marsay (The White Queen)
Freddie Stroma (Pitch Perfect)
Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Richard Dormer (Fortitude)
Paul Kaye (Anna and The Apocalypse)

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: 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)
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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)
Anton Lesser (Allied)
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)
Tara Fitzgerald (Legend)
Richard Brake (3 From Hell)
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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 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)
Gerry O’Brien (Veronica Guerin)
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.