Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7: The Gift

So has everyone calmed down now after last week? It seemed the internet was full of debate about Sansa’s treatment in the previous episode. So has anything improved for Sansa?

Sadly not. Sansa is now locked in her room, and visited by Ramsey at night. We can tell by the bruises on her arm that he hasn’t been any nicer to her. Still Sansa hasn’t completely broken. She tries to get Reek to remember who he really is and to help her. Inevitably though he reveals all to Ramsey and poor Sansa is left with very few allies. I noticed she also picked something up while she was walking with Ramsey, I didn’t see what it was but hopefully ti’s something she can use as a weapon later-preferably against Ramsey, although I’m losing my patience with Reek/Theon so it wouldn’t be too bad if she killed him too. After he’s mentioned about her brothers of course.

Speaking of Sansa’s brothers, Jon Snow has now set off with the Wildings and some rangers. I’m not sure he’ll have many friends when he returns as his plan to help the Wildings is still as unpopular as ever. Then there’s also the death of Maester Aemon, which is very sad and also very sudden. Did we know he was ill previously or did it all just happen in this episode? Before he dies he tells Gilly that she should take Little Sam and run. It seems like good advise as she’s later attacked by two of the Nights Watch. Sam bravely tries to step in but he’s badly beaten and both of them are only saved by a well-timed appearance by Jon’s direwolf Ghost (speaking of which why isn’t Ghost with Jon? Do direwolfs hate the sea?). At least after all this Sam and Gilly finally get together. But this is Game of Thrones so nice things can’t last. Gilly is probably going to die and Sam will have to run away with baby Sam.

Meanwhile Stannis is near Winterfell but his camp is struggling with the snow. Melisandre comes up with a plan for Stannis to be victorious and it’s exactly as I feared, she wants to sacrifice his daughter Shireen! Luckily Stannis remembers that he’s now a good father and refuses to do so. Whats the chances of Stannis’ wife attempting to kill Shireen instead? She better not! Hopefully Stannis and Davos will put a stop to it. It’s surprising how much I’ve warmed to Stannis this season. Although I haven’t forgotten about Stannis killing Renly and draining blood from his nephew Gendry.

Over in Dorne, Jamie is held prisoner, in a rather lovely room, where his daughter/niece Myrcella visits him. Not surprisingly she still doesn’t want to go back to King’s Landing (and she hasn’t even heard whats been going on with her mother and the Sparrows yet-more on that later). I don’t blame Myrcella for not rushing away with her uncle, from her perspective she was sent to Dorne against her will, why should she rush back now she’s actually happy and planning to marry? It probably will go badly for her anyway but still I respect her decision. In the cells Bronn gets better acquainted with the Sand Snakes, especially Tyene. It’s a scene that’s basically there just to show some nudity. Which is standard Game of Thrones then. Oh and as some viewers suspected, Bronn was poisoned by Tyene’s spear, which causes some tension….until she hands an antidote over to him a few seconds later. It was all over a bit quickly really, so much for dramatic tension. Still I’m happy Bronn is alive for a little bit longer.

In King’s Landing Cersei is being even more smug than usual. Pretending to poor, distraught Tommen that she’s trying to help Margery then taunting the poor girl in her cell. Margery finally tells Cersei what she thinks of her and her ‘generosity’. I really, really hope Margery makes it out of this alive. And if she does maybe she should put her quest to become Queen on hold, it hasn’t brought her much luck has it? Then again knowing Margery she’ll probably make a beeline for Stannis. Her grandmother Olenna tries making a deal with the High Sparrow to no avail. He and the sparrows are really getting on my nerves now so I hope someone brings them down. But that’s unlikely to happen just yet. Later Olenna and Littlefinger are plotting together and Littlefinger promises her that he has a boy who will help her. Who is it he’s talking about? At first I thought Lancel but I can’t see them working together so who does he mean? Young Robin Arryn, Gendry, the long lost Rickon Stark? Basically I have no idea.

Anyway Cersei’s plan finally backfires. In a twist EVERYBODY saw coming apart from Cersei, the High Sparrow turns against her and she is thrown into the cells. Was Cersei this dumb in the books, because it’s a bit difficult to believe she could be that stupid as to trust the Sparrows. Then again I’m guessing the flashback in the first episode was to show us how blinded Cersei would be against Margery that she wouldn’t see the real threat against her.

Last but not least we’re across the Narrow Sea and Daario wants Danerys to mary him rather than…blah, blah, blah. Who cares because Tyrion and Danerys meet face to face! I thought this would take much longer to happen so I’m rather glad they didn’t drag this out too long. Although she did not look too happy to see him or Jorah. And why would she? Tryion’s brother killed her family and Jorah was spying on her for the Lannisters. Still she should make us all happy and get over it soon so we can have Tyrion bluntly telling her everything she’s doing wrong with ruling Meereen!

Overall an enjoyable episode that had plenty of things happening and moved the plot along nicely. Roll on the last three episodes!

What did you think of this episode? Are you still annoyed over last week’s controversal episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Age of Adaline

Who wants to live forever hey? To be young and beautiful. Of course there’s the fact that everyone around you ages and then dies. Which is a bit of a drawback. In this movie eternal youth is one woman’s fate, but does this tale grow old quickly?

Adaline (Blake Lively) was an ordinary young woman, until she is struck by lightning in a car accident and finds herself never aging a day. However when this arouses suspicions from the authorities Adaline is forced to abandon her life and go on the run, always hiding who she really is. Then she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), and she starts to wonder if it’s time to stop running. But how can she have a real relationship when she can’t reveal who she really is, and that she will long outlive him?

The Age of Adaline is a charming movie that gorgeously shot. Whether it’s the flashbacks of Adaline’s life or her present day affairs, both strands are engaging. Blake Lively is terrific as Adaline and she looks gorgeous in the costumes she wears, giving Adaline the timeless look of someone who has lived through many decades. Lively also handles Adaline’s various relationships well, whether it’s scenes with her daughter, past lovers or her present day romantic interest. The scenes with her now adult daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) pack the most emotional impact, and you really feel the mother daughter dynamic even if Flemming appears old enough to be Adaline’s grandmother.

The flashbacks are also full of tension and heartbreak as Adaline has to leave her old life behind, and you can see why she’s hesitant to start anything new with Ellis. There is some nice chemistry between Lively and Huisman although sometimes Ellis is lacking in real personality.

The film drags a little bit in the middle, and sometimes you feel like Adaline should just tell him her secret (although obviously it’s not an easy subject to bring up). While Adaline meeting Ellis’ family is wonderfully awkward and Harrison Ford is great in those scenes, it’s a shame that a certain twist was spoiled by the trailer. The ending was also wrapped up a bit too easily for my liking. I know it’s premise is a bit incredulous but it did stretch believeabilty a bit too much.

If Lively sticks to roles like this and less like superhero dud Green Lantern then she could have a bright career post TV’s Gossip Girl ahead of her.

Rating 3.5/ 5 – great performances from Lively and Ford bring life to this charming movie

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

I don’t know how I feel about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I’m still in a bit of shock. And I think everyone who saw the latest episode knows what I’m talking about.

We’ll deal with that all at the end. Firstly onto slightly lighter fare. Arya is still in the House of Black and White and she’s helped a sick girl to die (I did say slightly lighter). Somehow this means that she is ready to see where the dead bodies go after they are cleaned. It turns out their faces are in some creepy chamber. Lovely. Jaqen then tells Arya that while she is not ready to be “no one” she’s ready to become “someone else”. Ok, glad that’s all cleared up.

Onto less mysterious fare Jamie and Bronn finally get to Myrcella. But (just like I predicted a few episodes back) she doesn’t want to go off with her ‘uncle’ Jamie, in fact she’d rather make out with her betrothed Trystane. It makes a change to see a couple who genuinely care about each other. You don’t see that a lot in this show. Unfortunately Myrcella not only has to deal with the interruption by Jamie but then the Sand Snakes appear and try to kidnap her. The battle between Jamie, Bronn and the Sand Snakes are pretty good. It’s almost a shame that the guards came to save Myrcella when they did, I would have liked to see how it ended. Where does this leave Jamie and Bronn though now? And surely the Sand Snakes and Ellaria won’t let the simple matter of getting arrested stand in their way of revenge?

Meanwhile Jorah and Tyrion make their way on foot to Meereen and someone finally says what I think some fans have been thinking for a while. Why does Daenerys deserve to be ruler of Westeros just because she’s a Targaryen and has three (admittedly very cool) dragons? She doesn’t know anything about Westeros and her father enjoyed burning people alive? It’s nice that the show acknowledges that Daenerys is still a long way from being a suitable ruler of Westeros. Maybe one day perhaps? Anyway Tyrion and Jorah are then kidnapped by Slavers who hope to sell them. Luckily Tyrion’s quick thinking has the Slavers take them to Meereen (yes!) to the fighting pits (boo). Still if anyone can make it out Tyrion can, although considering Jorah’s a dead man walking who know what will happen to him.

Over in King’s Landing Littlefinger tells Cersei that Sansa is at Winterfell, conveniently he leaves out his role in it all. Somehow he manages to convince Cersei to give him Knights to clean up after the inevitable Bolton/Stannis clash. Of course he wants to be made Warden of the North as well. Cersei seems to be making one bad decision after another. She thinks she’s being smart setting up both Margaery and Loras at the High Sparrow’s trial as Tommen and Olenna helplessly look on. Its’ all going to backfire on her I just know it. If the Tyrells don’t turn on her than the Sparrows will. Especially if they can put the Queen on trial I’m sure the King’s mother can, and Cersei has many more skeletons in her closet than Margery. For now it seems as though we’ll be waiting to see how bad the fallout will be before Cersei gets whats coming to her.

Now to the end of the episode. Sansa’s wedding day to Ramsey has arrived and afterwards he rapes her while forcing Reek to look. It’s a difficult scene to watch and you keep hoping Reek will somehow snap out of it and kill Ramsey. Sadly this doesn’t happen. Game of Thrones has never shied away from difficult scenes before (Ned Stark’s death, the Red Wedding) but still this feels a bit exploitive. Maybe once the shock has died down and we’ve seen how the rest of the season will play out I’ll feel differently. However the acting from all three actors were terrific and Ramsey has proved himself a worse villian than Joffrey. Please someone kill him before the end of the season? Sansa really need to light that candle and get Brienne over to finish him off.

What did you think of the events of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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Unfriended

A variation on the found-footage genre, this latest horror is set in real-time on the main character’s computer screen. So at least this attempts to offer us something a bit different to a tired and overrun genre. But is it any good?

A year after their classmate Laura committed suicide following online bullying, Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and friends are Skyping each other when they notice an anonymous user under the name billie227 is listening in on their conversations. Their attempts to get rid of the user don’t work, and the user starts writing Facebook messages from Laura’s account. Soon the unknown user starts revealing the groups secrets and it becomes apparent that billie227 wants to hurt everyone involved in Laura’s death.

It’s an interesting concept at the centre of Unfriended, having all the action on one person’s computer. What could have been tedious actually works quite well. The film starts off slow as we are introduced to the main characters, none of who are particularly likeable. Even the victim Laura seems to have been a bully before a vicious video of her was leaked. But this is a film more about the concept than character. It also manages to keep your attention as you try to work out exactly what they did to Laura and what billie227 is planning to do to them. There are some good deaths and scares involved too. There’s some dark humour to help relief some of the tension considering it goes to some dark places with subjects such as teen suicide and bullying.

Some may say the real horrors in the movie is how the characters treated Laura and each other over the internet, with the focus on cyber-bulling. Posting abusive comments and videos on social media is something that has grown over the past couple of years so it’s good to see a film that’s directed mainly at teenagers address this issue. The teens here feel realistic with their actions, believeing they can say whatever they want on the internet and not thinking about the consequences. I don’t expect it will have much effect on it’s intended audience but it’s still good to see a horror film reflecting what teenagers are currently up to (except for the ghost part-probably) and how it has adverse affects on others.

It’s thankfully short enough not to outstay it’s welcome or make it’s format become too gimicky. Sometimes being stuck on the screen does feel limiting although the film tries to show different mediums such as facebook, skype, google and even chatroulette. Unfortunately with having characters so unlikeable it made it hard to care if they lived or died. The constant explaining technology terms to Blaire is also annoying, I know they have to explain certain things to the audience but it was a bit clunky.

Rating 3/5 – a twist on found-footage horror that takes a simple idea and provides some decent scares and food for thought

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 5: Kill the Boy

I can’t believe we’re half way through the season already!

Despite the title of the episode no boys were killed during this episode. We’re talking about metaphorical killing here.

First things first – Grey Worm lives! Yah. But Ser Barristan has died. Boo! This puts Daenerys in one hell of a hissy fit and takes all the leaders of the great families of Mareen (including a member of her own council Hizdahr zo Loraqto) to visit her dragons and has one man burnt to a crisp. And she doesn’t even know if he’s guilty of working with the Sons of Harpy! I was starting to wonder if Daenerys’ council was cursed but she later decides after some contemplating that she would spare Hizdahr. She tells him she will agree to open the fighting pits and she will attempt to give peace to Mareen by marry Hizdahr. He’s either going to be the happiest guy alive marrying the beautiful young queen or he’s going to be afraid the curse of Daenerys will creep up on him next (also didn’t she kill his father a season or two before? That will make any family get togethers a bit awkward).

At Winterfell Sansa finds out a bit more about her intended husband’s true nature as she comes face to face with Theon/Reek. While she still doesn’t know the true extent of Ramsay’s lunacy she’s getting close as she sees a broken, meek Theon. Then Ramsay comes up with the bonkers idea of Reek giving Sansa away at the wedding! Ramsay’s fun is soon brought to an end when his stepmother reveals she’s pregnant. Although his father states Ramsay is still his heir I doubt that will placate Ramsay for long. I’ve heard rumours that Ramsay is meant to be worse than ever this season and I’ve been worried who his next victim would be. I thought Sansa would be in trouble but now I fear for his stepmother and her unborn child. Still at least Sansa has been told by a Stark supporter where to go if she needs help. Also luckily for her Brienne and Pod are nearby. I just hope they won’t be too late.

Another group heading to Winterfell is Stannis and his men. This is the second episode in a row where I haven’t found Stannis to be a complete bore. He’s also smart making sure Sam is still investigating the White Walkers. Still that makes me worried, now we’re seeing more of his softer side with his daughter Shireen bad things are bound to happen. especially as he insist his wife and daughter should come with him to Winterfell. Meanwhile Jon Snow has made a controversal pact with the leader of the Wildings- freedom to come pass The Wall and then give their help to the Watch when the time comes. It’s a bold plan and it has many detractors. As Jon plans to travel with the Wildings I just hope he’s made the right choice.

Anyway the highlight of this episode is at the end with Tyrion and Jorah sailing their way through ruins of Valyria, when Drogon the dragon appears! Tyrion for once is speechless. But the moment is ruined when a group of inflicted people called Stone Men appear and try to kill them. Tyrion almost drowns in the chaos but is saved by Jorah. All seems well until we see Jorah has been infected by the Stone Men. Poor Jorah. But hey maybe he’ll die in his beloved Khaleesi’s arms? Lets hope no one tells him about the wedding…

Theres a lot of talk in this episode about fighting, and a war at Winterfell but with not a lot of action. Hopefully the fight for Winterfell will start soon. They’ve been building it up for long enough. It was  a shame we didnt;t get to see Dorne, King’s Landing or wherever Arya is at the moment. I guess that’s the problem with so many characters. However it’s still a great, tense episode.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

There were high expectations from Marvel and director Joss Whedon following on from 2012 mega hit The Avengers. But would too much hype mean all my expectations will be crushed Hulk style?

Having grow tired and concerned over whether the Avengers can stop every battle coming their way Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.) convinces Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to help create an A.I that will help defend Earth. Unfortunately his creation Ultron (voice by James Spader) decides the best way to save Earth is to destroy the Avengers and humanity. Teaming up with a pair of gifted twins (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) they plan to bring the Avengers down and the world to its knees.

While the film doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of the first Avengers movie it’s still a great summer blockbuster. Theres some nice character moments to develop members of the team like Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). While there isn’t as many Whedon-isms as I would like there are still some very funny one liners. There was a surprising amount of swearing in the movie and a lot of innuendos. There was some hilarious moments such as the Avengers trying to lift Thor’s hammer. I loved Chris Hemsworth’s worried expression as Captain America (Chris Evans) nudged the hammer. The film also had some nice emotional scenes such as the Avengers coping after having been given a massive beat down by Ultron and the twins. Ultron made for a good villain even if he isn’t as awesome as Loki. We also got plenty of drama as the Avengers came into conflict over Tony’s actions, building up some nice tension between iron Man and Captain America which shall continue into the next Captain America movie.

Not everything worked. The middle of the movie dragged a bit for me. I didn’t believe the romance between Banner and Black Widow. They have better chemistry as friends. I wasn’t completely sold on the twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch either. Quicksilver suffered from the fact that X Men: Days of Future Past did the character so much better. Scarlet Witch just felt a bit undeveloped but could be more interesting in future installments.

There are fears that Marvels run of movies will become stale, but while they continue to make enjoyable summer movies and have a great team of actors and directors, I think they still have a way to go before we start seeing a real dip in quality.

Rating 4/5 – not quite the smash that the first film was but still a great superhero movie

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy

It’s heating up now across the Seven Kingdoms and getting more bloodier by the second.

Cersei is making moves against the Tyrells sending Mace Tyrell off to the Iron Bank, on a trip I suspect Cersei hopes will be a one way journey. She then teams up with the High Sparrow and gives them more power in the city which results in Loras Tyrell being arrested! Needless to say Margery is not happy but Tomas is too spineless to doing anything about it. I’m not exactly sure what Cersei is hoping to achieve. In the short-term she’s put Margery in her place but it can’t be a good idea to make enemies of the Tyrells and the houses loyal to them. Especially as Margery plans to inform her grandmother Olenna, the real head of the Tyrell household, of what Cersei has done. There’s no way this can end well for Cersei. The Sparrows are on a mission to route out all those who they believe are sinful and if Cersei was Mother Theresa that would be fine, however as the queen of incest she’s bound to be targeted by the sparrows eventually.

Over at The Wall the red lady Melisandre tries to entice Jon Snow to join Stannis, and even drops her clothes to persuade him. However Jon, eventually, resists. Melisandre leaves but not before telling him “You know nothing Jon Snow” (!), repeating what Jon’s Wilding lover Yigrette said to him a couple of seasons ago. Way to freak him out! Meanwhile Stannis defies my expectation and has a scene which isn’t completely boring! His conversation with his daughter Shireen about how much he fought to keep her alive when she was ill was quite sweet, although didn’t he still keep her locked away from others for years? Sorry Stannis you’re still far from father of the year.

We’re only given a short scene at Winterfell this week with no Boltons or Theon. Littlefinger has been summoned back to King’s Landing by Cersei (which considering his brothel has been raided twice now should be an interesting conversation), leaving Sansa alone with the Boltons. They plot how Sansa can wrap Ramsey around her little finger yet they have no idea who they are messing with. They part with Littlefinger planting another creepy kiss on Sansa. Poor Sansa can she ever find a suitor whose just normal?

Elsewhere we actually spend some time in Dorne, where Jamie and Bronn try not to draw attention to themselves…by immediately fighting four Dornish guards then having to hide the bodies. Well Bronn has too. I’m loving the partnership between Jamie and Bronn, such as Bronn doubting Jamie’s concern for Myrcella being purely as “her uncle” . They better hope they find Myrcella before Ellaria Sand and Oberyn’s daughters, known as the Sand Snakes, find her. They already know Jamie is in Dorne and they are prepared to go to war to avenge Oberyn’s death. Again I’m not sure this is a smart decision, especially as no one forced Oberyn to take part in the fight. I’m not sure what to make of these new characters yet. The costumes look good, and they have cool weapons but we’ll have to see if they will become classic Thrones characters. At the moment the daughters all seem interchangeable so maybe next week we’ll start seeing their different personalities.

Across the Narrow Sea Jorah informs Tyrion of his plan to take him to Danerys, to which Tryion burst out laughing. He quickly deduces Jorath’s character is trying to get himself back in Danery’s good books. And gets himself a punch from Jorath for his trouble. It looks like Danery’s could really use both Jorath and Tyrion’s help as the Sons of the Harpy attack the Unsullied and now there could be two spaces free on Danerys council. While we have to wait until next week to see if both Greyworm and Barristan have survived, it doesn’t look good, and I think Barristan is defiantly a goner. But what do I know? Like Jon Snow, nothing.

A hell of a cliffhanger to end on (especially for those who watched the first four episodes weeks ago) and there plenty of threats of war. Hopefully they’ll be empty promises. But I’m betting on a big siege at Winterfell around episode 9.

What do you think of the latest episode? Let me know in the comments below?

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