REVIEW: XXX: THE RETURN XANDER CAGE

CAST

Vin Diesel (Riddick)
Donnie Yen (Rogue One)
Deepika Padukone (Chennal Express)
Kris Wu (So Young 2)
Ice Cube (21 Jump Street)
Ruby Rose (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)
Tony Jaa (Ong Bak)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Shawn Roberts (Land of The Dead)

NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons attempts to recruit footballer Neymar Jr. for the xXx program when a satellite crashes in Brazil, killing them both. Shortly afterwards, a team of four skilled individuals led by Xiang infiltrates a highly guarded CIA office in New York City and retrieve “Pandora’s Box”, a device which is capable of controlling satellites to crash at specific locations as warheads. CIA Agent Jane Marke tracks down former xXx operative Xander Cage, who faked his death and has been living in self-imposed exile in the Dominican Republic, and convinces him to return to active service to retrieve the device.After enlisting an old friend, Ainsley, for help, Cage tracks down the attackers to the Philippines. A unit of Special Forces operatives led by Paul Donovan is assigned to help Xander, but he rejects them in favour of his own team, composed of sharpshooter Adele Wolff, DJ Harvard “Nicks” Zhou, and getaway driver Tennyson “The Torch.” They are also aided by introverted weapons specialist Becky Clearidge. The team locates Xiang and his teammates Serena, Talon and Hawk, and Cage meets Xiang in an underground nightclub on a remote island, where Xiang reveals that his team are all part of the xXx program, recruited by Gibbons. He claims to have stolen Pandora’s Box to prevent its misuse, although Serena believes they should destroy it.Shortly after, Russian soldiers raid the island. The group manages to fend off the attackers, while Xiang manages to escape with Pandora’s Box. Xander intercepts Xiang and chases him to a nearby beach. Serena betrays him, destroys the Box and joins Xander’s team, while Xiang escapes and regroups with Talon and Hawk. After another satellite crash in Russia, Marke determines that the device that Serena destroyed was only a prototype, and that both teams have been wasting time, while Cage determines that CIA Director Anderson is involved in the conspiracy and that the actual Pandora’s Box is in his hands.Cage’s and Xiang’s teams race to reach Anderson first in Detroit, tracking the unique signal of Pandora’s Box, with Xander and Xiang fighting and later protecting each other from Anderson’s men. Xander confronts Anderson, who admits to causing the satellite crash that killed Gibbons. Anderson is then shot dead by Wolff. The CIA arrests Xiang in an attempt to frame him for the attack in Russia, and secures the box. En route back to headquarters, Marke announces that the xXx Program has been shut down and shoots Xander in order to keep it for herself. She then sends a group of assassins to eliminate the others, who are awaiting extraction at a local NSA warehouse. They join forces to fend off their attackers and receive assistance from another former xXx operative, Darius Stone.Xander survives due to a bulletproof vest Becky had given him earlier and joins forces with Xiang to fight Donovan and his men, while Marke uses the box to send a satellite plummeting towards the warehouse where the teams are fighting. Xander ejects Donovan from the plane, while Xiang sends Marke falling to her death and then parachutes out with the box in hand. Despite Becky’s attempts to halt the signal, they cannot stop the satellite from crashing. In a last attempt to protect them, Xander crashes the plane into the approaching satellite before it reaches the warehouse and jumps out, using the cargo load to safely reach the ground. Xiang gives Cage the device, and Xander decides to destroy it. The team attends Gibbons’ funeral, where Xander is approached by Gibbons himself, who faked his death and is now rebuilding the xXx Program on his own, starting with Neymar as the newest recruit. Gibbons compliments Xander on a job well done and Xander decides to continue in service, ready for a new mission to watch the watchers and preserve liberty.This is a great action packed trilogy of movies that has no end, this third instalment is the best yet with plenty of badass over the top action and thrills to keep any action junkie happy!

 

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 7

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Starring

Peter Dinklage (Avengers: Infinity War)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (The Other Woman)
Lena Headey (Dredd)
Emilia Clarke (Solo: A Star Wars Story)
Kit Harington (Pompeii)
Aidan Gillen (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Liam Cunningham (Safe House)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (IBoy)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7 & 8)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
John Bradley (Man Up)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (The Awakening)
Hannah Murray (Chatroom)
Kristofer Hivju (The Thing)
Rory McCann (XXX: Return of Xander Cage)
Iain Glen (Resident Evil: The FInal Chapter)
Carice van Houten (Valkyrie)
Indira Varma (Exodus: Gods and Kings
Alfie Allen (Atonement)
Jerome Flynn (Ripper Street)
Joe Dempsie (Monsters: Dark Continent)

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dormer (The Mighty Celt)
Paul Kaye (Anna and The Apocalypse)
Ben Crompton (Blow Dry)
Ellie Kendrick (An Education)
Bella Ramsey (Holmes & Watson)
Tim McInnerny (Automata)
Megan Parkinson (Ackley Bridge)
Daniel Portman (River City)
Richard Rycroft (Bridget Jones’s Baby)
Rupert Vansittart (Outlander)
Joseph Mawle (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
David Bradley (Harry Potter)
Ben Hawkey (The Kid)
Pilou Asbæk (Ghost In The Shell)
Anton Lesser (FairyTale: A True Story)
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Kickboxer: Retaliation)
James Faulkner (Atomic Blonde)
Tom Hopper (The Umbrella Academy)
Mark Gatiss (Starter For 10)
Jim Broadbent (Paddington)
Jacob Anderson (Chatroom)
Diana Rigg (Breathe)
Gemma Whelan (Gulliver’s Travels)
Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist)
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Mia and Me)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (The Almighty Johnsons)
Ed Sheeran (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)It sure has been an interesting and enthralling journey since HBO’s Game of Thrones left George R. R. Martin’s book series behind back at the beginning of Season 6. At the time too, there was almost an “and not a moment too soon” quality to the break. Season 5 had caught some notable flack for being bleak. Not that the show hadn’t been bleak by design, as part of its actual blueprint, but after four plus years, some fans had reached their threshold.Aidan Gillen and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones (2011)Once Sansa started getting victimized and brutalized again and then Princess Shireen got burned to death by her own father, there was a cry from the rafters regarding Thrones being too much of an agony parade, especially since those moments didn’t come from the books (or hadn’t happened in the books yet). Viewers wanted wins. They wanted the good guys to stand tall for once. Then Jon Snow got ganked in the Season 5 finale and it seemed all was lost. Fan theories held firm though (for readers and viewers) and there was hope that a Lord of Light loophole would save everyone’s favorite beautiful bastard.Thomas Turgoose, Ed Sheeran, and Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones (2011)So then, all eyes were on Season 6. This would be the first time that a major fan theory had the possibility of being confirmed, one way or another. Fully untethered from GRRM’s pages, Season 6 would proceed to hand out happy moments and payoffs like they were pocket candy. It was the happiest season of Thrones to date, capped off by the exceptional episodes “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter.” Still though, the run almost felt too rewarding given what the show, and story, had been up until that point. That vibe, plus some lingering complaints about “fast travel,” made Season 6 land in a much different way than other Thrones seasons. David Benioff and Dan Weiss were now finishing the story in a markedly different fashion than Martin would – despite some overall plot beats being the same. Thrones was now more of a traditional TV show than the celebration of audience contempt that we’d all grown to love (despite its knack for traumatizing us).Peter Dinklage, Conleth Hill, and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)Enter Season 7, which not only continued to feel more “TV,” but also ramped up the fast travel (to a degree where the only way to get past the geographical gaps was to ignore them completely) because there were now fewer episodes. Longer episodes sure (most by 10 minutes, the finale by 30), but fewer chapters overall to tell a story that would usually be spread out over 10. The silver lining to only having seven episodes was the increased frequency of massive battle sequences, which used to only come once a season. The show’s seasonal budget was, assuredly the same, but now more money was being put into the episodes.Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)Now various gripes about the show have reached a bridge too far in the other direction. Thrones can no longer be too depressing and cutthroat, nor can everything play out too close to the way people expect. It’s a very slim Venn Diagram here for this tricky balancing act of tenderizing and terrorizing. We wanted people to die, and they surely did but – oh – they weren’t important enough to count. Their demise didn’t crush our spirits and make us want to rage-quit the series. It’s possible that we’ve all now reached a point, given everyone’s varied favorite characters/favorite pairings/theories/predictions, that the show cannot unify us the way it once did, even if that unity came via mortification. Seven years in and we’re splintered. Weiss and Benioff have a near-impossible task and a near-impossible audience to satiate.Richard Dormer and Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (2011)Most of the major complaints regarding Season 7 can be found within the penultimate adventure episode, “Beyond the Wall” (which even sounds flat as a title). Normally, this expedition would have been spread out over two, or even three, episodes. But here, within the “bell to bell,” this mega-quest felt crammed. For a show that literally opens with a map, and has been very much about geography with relation to story, things got super fuzzy regarding where Jon Snow and his men were, how far Gendry had to run, how much time was everyone was stuck out on that island, and how long it can actually take a raven to fly from Eastwatch-By-The Sea to Dragonstone.  On top of this, the bulk of the body count came from unnamed “Red Shirts,” who laughably all seemed to be wearing hoods so the main characters could stand out easier, and in a dire situation that was surely one of the most perilous expeditions ever undertaken on the show, only one main player perished — “main” being a generous term here.Joseph Mawle and Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (2011)The accelerated pace of the show now, which is a combination of both fast travel and fewer characters to follow in fewer places, definitely had its benefits too. Jon and Daenerys, the two linchpins of the entire series, finally met in the third episode, “The Queen’s Justice,” when original recipe pacing would have had them meeting sometime in the last quarter of the season. This allowed them to get to know one another and develop the bond needed for them to finally land in each others’ arms in the finale (with that Aegon Targaryen secret now dangling over their heads). The pacing also allowed for the war – Daenerys’ war – to kick in right away, despite her losing efforts out of the gate.Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (2011)What was really great here was the fact that Daenerys’ temperament, and the brutal history of Targaryens, was a major talking point. The show needed to have a reason for Dany not to instantly ride roughshod all over the realm and fortunately it had a superb one — her entire arc since Season 1, in fact. The idea that she made her name (her many names) fighting and ruling as a representative for the helpless and unfortunate. She literally took seven seasons to land in Westeros because ending the slave trade thousands of miles away was paramount to her character. Daenerys may have had three dragons – three “nukes” really – when she started, but it’s not like she could use them without serious consequences to both her legacy and dynasty. Yes, instead of supposedly having the upper hand, she came in with a tactical disadvantage. The show did a great job of showing us how difficult her task truly was, despite the fact that the soaring scene at the end of Season 6, with Dany sailing in with that giant fleet and all her allies, made us think it’d be easy pickings for her.Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones (2011)The battles were great this year too. Not just the “Loot Train Battle” (can this not be the official name, please?) but Dany flying in with her dragons to save Jon in the nick of time, Euron smashing Yara’s portion of the Greyjoy fleet, the entire closing seasonal sequence involving the east part of the Wall coming down – the Season 7 VFX get a top grade. The money usually meant for more episodes was definitely on the screen.Vladimir 'Furdo' Furdik in Game of Thrones (2011)With the war underway came new and game-changing alliances. Everyone of importance was now on one continent and, dammit, they were all going to meet. Dany’s faction would find Jon and Davos while Cersei and Jaime would wrangle the Tarlys and Euron. It would all culminate in the season finale during an excellent twenty minute scene involving an ancient Dragonpit and a dozen or more important characters all filling a single space. It was one lengthy scene all about fighting the Night King and his army, which was another element that really worked this year: the fact that the army of the dead, the show’s main antagonist that only a handful of people knew about, put a halt to the “Game of Thrones” conflict between Daenerys and Cersei and became everyone’s top priority. Except Cersei, naturally, who lied because she’s awesome and, pregnant or not, it didn’t quite feel right for her to give that much of a damn about anything that she couldn’t see and/or wasn’t directly affecting her in that moment.Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones (2011)Of course, not everyone was down at the Dragonpit for the finale. The Stark siblings had their own running arc up in Winterfell and while it all ended with a phenomenal scene featuring Littlefinger getting called to account for all of his dastardly schemes and then getting unceremoniously executed, the build to that moment was shaky at best. Arya, who got two of the biggest crowd-pleasing moments this year (on a series that now actually has them) with her Frey massacre and her Brienne sparring session, seemed “off” up in Winterfell during the weeks when we were supposed think she was out to usurp Sansa and falling for Littlefinger’s ploy. She wasn’t acting quite right. Either she was putting on a performance or she wasn’t, literally, herself . All of this was enough though for viewers to sense that something was going on and when viewers feel that something’s wonky, the theories come out. Then it became a little too obvious that Arya was setting a trap for Littlefinger. The best case scenario, of course, would be that Sansa was too. The last thing any of us wanted was either sister to be played of a fool given their respective journeys on the show. The two of them, many times over, earned the ability to stay a step ahead of him.Conleth Hill, Kit Harington, and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)In the end, Lord Baelish’s demise was fitting and fun, but the fact that Arya showed up acting a bit icy and hostile was a misstep because it immediately alerted us to the fact that the show wanted us to buy her possibly wanting to kill Sansa. In trying to not create a tell, they created a tell. By the end, I did wonder when it occurred to both sisters that Littlefinger was trying to play them, given that Bran (who himself had become no picnic to be around as the sedated “Three-Eyed Raven”) had the ability to see through time and space. Recently though, we spoke to actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright about a deleted scene between Sansa and Bran involving her asking him for advice and answers. Of course, it’s good that this moment wound up on the cutting room floor because it would have given away the Littlefinger scene at the end. Plus, it was only Sansa figuring things out, meaning Arya was being strange and confrontational on her own and wasn’t in cahoots with her sister until possibly the end. Meaning that she was possibly being duped. Yeah, good riddance to that scene. Now I can just pretend that the three of them cooked up this plot back as early as when they all met by the Godswood.Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)Game of Thrones, in its seventh season, both benefited from and was damaged by the accelerated pace and shorter episode count. On one hand, the war started right away and a battle as magnificent as the one at the end of “The Spoils of War” could arrive as ferociously as it did. On the downside, huge moments sometimes got crammed together in such a way that it robbed them of weight and substance. Still, when this show goes for spectacle, or even smaller show-stopping moments (massacres, R+L=J revelations, even just The Hound smiling because he knows Arya is okay), it has no equal.

REVIEW: BEOWULF & GRENDAL

Starring

Gerard Butler (300)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Ingvar E. Sigurðsson (Everest)
Sarah Polley (Splice)
Eddie Marsan (Deadpool 2)
Tony Curran (Outlaw King)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Martin Delaney (Zero Dark Thirty)
Spencer Wilding (Rogue One)

Gerard Butler and Martin Delaney in Beowulf & Grendel (2005)In 500 A.D., Hrothgar, king of Denmark, and a group of warriors chase a large and burly man, whom they consider a troll, and his young son, who already bears cheek and chin whiskers, to the edge of a steep seaside cliff. The father directs his young son, Grendel, to hide from the attackers’ view; whereupon The Danes shoot the father dead, and his dead body plunges onto the beach far below. The Danish king sees the young Grendel, but spares him. Later, Grendel finds his father’s body and cuts the head off to take it home. Many years later, the severed (and mummified) head is inside a cave where the boy Grendel has become as large and powerful as his father, and plans revenge.Gerard Butler and Tony Curran in Beowulf & Grendel (2005)When Hrothgar finds twenty of his warriors killed inside his great hall, the Danish king falls into a depression. Beowulf, with the permission of Hygelac, king of Geatland, sails to Denmark with thirteen Geats to slay Grendel for Hrothgar. The arrival of Beowulf and his warriors is welcomed by Hrothgar, but the king’s village has fallen into a deep despair and many of the pagan villagers convert to Christianity at the urging of an Irish monk. While Grendel does raid Hrothgar’s village during the night, he flees rather than fight. Selma the witch tells Beowulf that Grendel will not fight him because Beowulf has committed no wrong against him.Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd and Gerard Butler in Beowulf & Grendel (2005)A villager, recently baptized and thus now unafraid of death, leads Beowulf and his men to the cliff above Grendel’s cave. When the villager is found dead, Beowulf and his men return with a rope and gain entry to Grendel’s secret cave, where one of Beowulf’s men mutilates the mummified head of Grendel’s father. That night, Grendel invades Hrothgar’s great hall, kills the Geat who desecrated his father’s head, and leaps from the second story, but is caught in a trap by Beowulf. Grendel, refusing capture, escapes by severing his captive arm, and dies near the site of his father’s death, where his body is claimed by a mysterious webbed hand. Thereafter Hrothgar admits to Beowulf that he had killed Grendel’s father for stealing a fish but had spared the child Grendel out of pity. Grendel’s severed arm is kept by the Danes as a trophy. In revealing more about Grendel, Selma recounts that Grendel had once clumsily raped her and has protected her since that day; and Beowulf becomes her paramour.Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd in Beowulf & Grendel (2005)The Danes are later attacked by Grendel’s mother, the Sea Hag; and Beowulf slays her with a sword from among her treasure, and then notices that the battle was being observed by child of Grendel and Selma. Later Beowulf, with Grendel’s son watching, buries Grendel with ceremony. Shortly thereafter, Beowulf and his band of Geats leave Denmark by ship, having warned Selma that she must hide her son, lest the Danes destroy him.Gerard Butler in Beowulf & Grendel (2005)This is a very updated version of the Anglo-Saxon poem “Beowulf,” using contemporary English.This movie still has the mythical, epic qualities of the poem that have inspired readers throughout the ages. In an excellent performance, Gerard Butler effectively captures the conflicted hero Beowulf as he endures the slow erosion of his military code of conduct. Beowulf & Grendel is more than a story of blood and war. Themes of vengeance, loyalty and mercy are powerfully entwined with the beginnings of Christianity in southwest Sweden in 500 AD. Another theme which is explored is human inability to tolerate that which is different. Gerard Butler is extremely effective as Beowulf, but perhaps the best performance in the movie is that delivered by the tempestuous and weirdly beautiful land of Iceland. I think this movie is definitely worth seeing.

REVIEW: SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011)

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Claire Foy (Going Postal)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank Job)
Stephen Graham (This Is England)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Robert Sheehan (Mortal Engines)

In Villach in the year 1235, three women are accused of witchcraft by a priest. While one claims to be a witch through persuasion from the church, one denies it, another does neither and curses the priest. He orders them hanged and drowned. That done, he urges the guards to pull them back up for a ritual to make sure the so-called witches never come back to life. The guards refuse, claiming they are dead enough. The priest returns late at night to perform the ritual. One of the corpses, one of a hag with a blind eye suffers a seizure but dies, While another corpse, a younger woman takes on a demonic appearance and kills the priest and burns his book with the rites in it.In the 14th century, Teutonic Knights Behmen von Bleibruck (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) are engaged on a crusade, taking part in several different battles throughout the 1330’s (1332 Gulf of Edremit, 1334 Siege of Tripoli, 1337 Imbros & 1339 Artah) and eventually in the Smyrniote crusades. After witnessing the massacre of civilians during the 1344 capture of Smyrna, the two knights desert the Order and the crusade and return to Austria.While traveling through Styria, Behmen and Felson encounter the grotesque sight of people infected with the Black Death and discover that the Holy Roman Empire has been swept by the plague. They enter an unnamed town, trying to conceal their identity as deserters, but are revealed as knights by the crest on Behmen’s sword. They are arrested and taken to Cardinal D’Ambroise, who is infected with the plague. The Cardinal asks the knights to escort an alleged witch suspected of causing the plague to a remote monastery, where an elite group of monks reside. These monks can determine if the girl is truly a witch, and if she is found guilty, know a sacred ritual to cancel her powers and stop the plague that is devastating Europe. The two knights agree under the condition she be given a fair trial and that the charges of desertion against them be dropped. The Cardinal agrees and they set out accompanied by a priest, Debelzaq; a young altar boy, Kay von Wollenbarth, who wants to become a knight like his deceased father; a knight, Johann Eckhardt, whose family was killed by the plague; and the well-traveled swindler Hagamar, who will serve as their guide to the monastery in return for a pardon. The witch, a young girl later identified as Anna from Marburg, shows hatred towards Debelzaq and forms a bond with Behmen.Shortly after setting off, the group camp for the night. Johann decides to take first watch. When Debelzaq comes to relieve him of the watch, Johann says how much she remind him of his dead daughter, then goes on to speak of the politics of her trial, and how the Church cannot have her not be guilty. Johann decides to give up the mission and goes to convince the others to do the same, leaving Anna alone with Debelzaq. Anna becomes hysterical at the prospect of being left alone with Debelzaq. She attacks him and grabs his key to the cage, then escapes, fleeing toward a nearby village. The search for her leads the group to a mass grave, where Eckhart has visions of his dead daughter. Chasing the visions, he impales himself on Kay’s sword and dies. When they recapture her, the tearful Anna explains that she only ran away for fear of Debelzaq. However the group gradually becomes less trusting of her. They cross a rickety rope bridge, where Anna saves Kay from falling to his death by grabbing him with one hand, showing unnatural strength. The group enters the dark forest called Wormwood, where Hagamar attempts to kill Anna so that the group can go home, only to be stopped by the others. Anna appears to summon monstrous wolves, which chase the group and kill Hagamar. An enraged Behmen tries to kill Anna, but is stopped by Debelzaq and Felson, who point out that the monastery is in sight.At the monastery, the men find that all the monks have been killed by the plague, but locate the Key of Solomon, an ancient book filled with holy rituals used to defeat evil. The men confront Anna, and Debelzaq begins to perform a ritual used on witches. However, as Anna begins precisely recounting Behmen’s past actions during the Crusades, Debelzaq realizes that she is not a witch, and begins frantically performing an exorcism. However, the demon that is possessing Anna reveals himself and melts the metal of the cage. He fights off the knights effortlessly, but when Debelzaq throws a vial of holy water on him, the demon flies out of sight. As the men search for the demon, they realize he is not trying to escape, but to destroy the book so that nothing can stop his powers. They find a room where the monks were writing copies of the book, where the demon, revealing himself to be Baal, destroys the copies and possesses the dead monks’ bodies to use as weapons. The three men fight the possessed monks while Debelzaq continues the exorcism ritual. During the fight, Baal/Anna breaks Debelzaq’s neck, then kills Felson.Kay picks up the book and continues the ritual, while Behmen continues fighting Baal/Anna. Behmen is mortally wounded during the fight, but Kay is able to finish the ritual and Baal is expelled from Anna’s body, freeing her. Behmen asks Kay to keep Anna safe and then dies of his wounds. Kay and Anna bury their fallen friends. Anna asks Kay to tell her about the men who saved her. They depart from the monastery with the book.

Season of the witch was a far better film than critics and fellow moviegoers lead you to believe. If you want to see a fun yet dark heroic adventure, go see Season of the Witch!

REVIEW: ALEXANDER

CAST
Colin Farrell (Phone Booth)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of The Lambs)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil TV)
Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider)
Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang bang)
Christopher Plummer (Up)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Jared Leto (Requiem For a Dream)
Joseph Morgan (The Originals)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Toby Kebbell (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Fiona O’Shaughnessy (Nina Forever)
Elliot Cowan (The Spanish Princess)
Ian Beattie (Game of Thrones)
The film is based on the life of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, who conquered Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia and part of ancient India. Shown are some of the key moments of Alexander’s youth, his invasion of the mighty Persian Empire and his death. It also outlines his early life, including his difficult relationship with his father Philip II of Macedonia, his strained feeling towards his mother Olympias, the unification of the Greek city-states and the two Kingdoms (Macedonia and Epirus) under the Hellenic League,[4] and the conquest of the Persian Empire in 331 BC. It also details his plans to reform his empire and the attempts he made to reach the end of the then known world. The story begins 40 years after 323 BC, around 283 BC, with Ptolemy I Soter, who narrates throughout the film. We see Alexander’s daily life and the strained relationship between his parents. Alexander grows up with his mother Olympias and his tutor Aristotle, where he finds interest in love, honour, music, exploration, poetry and military combat. His relationship with his father is destroyed when Philip marries Attalus’s niece, Eurydice.
After Philip is assassinated, Alexander becomes King of Macedonia. Ptolemy mentions Alexander’s punitive campaign in which he razes Thebes and burns Persepolis, then gives an overview of Alexander’s west-Persian campaign, including his declaration as the son of Zeus by the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis, his great battle against the Persian Emperor Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela and his eight-year campaign across Asia.
Also shown are Alexander’s private relationships with his childhood friend Hephaestion and later his wife Roxana. Hephaestion compares Alexander to Achilles, to which Alexander replies that, if he is Achilles, Hephaestion must be his Patroclus (Achilles’ best friend and lover). When Hephaestion mentions that Patroclus died first, Alexander pledges that, if Hephaestion should die first, he will follow him into the afterlife. Hephaestion shows extensive jealousy when he sees Alexander with Roxana and deep sadness when he marries her, going so far as to attempt to keep her away from him after Alexander murders Cleitus the Black in India.
After initial objection from his soldiers, Alexander convinces them to join him into his final and bloodiest battle, The Battle of Hydaspes. He is severely injured with an arrow but survives and is celebrated. Later on, Hephaestion succumbs to an unknown illness either by chance or perhaps poison, speculated in the movie to be Typhus carried with him from India. Alexander, full of grief and anger, distances himself from his wife, despite her pregnancy, believing that she has killed Hephaestion. He dies less than three months after Hephaestion, in the same manner, keeping his promise that he would follow him. On his deathbed, Bagoas grieves as Alexander’s generals begin to split up his kingdom and fight over the ownership of his body.
The story then returns to 283 BC, where Ptolemy admits to his scribe that he, along with all the other officers, had indeed poisoned Alexander just to spare themselves from any future conquests or consequences. He, however has it that it just be recorded that Alexander died due to illness compounding to his overall weakened condition. He then goes on to end his memoirs with praise to Alexander.
The story then ends with the note that Ptolemy’s memoirs of Alexander eventually burned, lost forever with the Library of Alexandria.
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An absolute epic. From the critical ravaging of the original release to this glorious masterpiece, it is an essential film for any serious film lover and DVD collector. Brilliant.

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)
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)
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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 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.