Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 1: The Red Woman

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A super late review of the first episode of Game of Thrones season 6. Tomorrow I’ll be posting the second episode review in a more timely fashion. But first here is my review of the season 6 premiere.

After waiting almost a year we’re back in Westeros to find out Jon Snow’s fate…and he’s still dead. For now anyway. I may be stuck in denial but I still believe Jon Snow will be resurrected at some point this season. But for the moment he’s dead and it’s poor Davos who finds his body and alerts the few men of the Night’s Watch of the news. You wonder how they are going to get out of this mess what with  being the new Commander. I don’t know how much the wildlings will help or if they will be able to in time. I think Melisandre will be more useful but she seems to be in the middle of a crisis of faith. But more on her later.

Sansa and Theon finally get some good luck. It’s not often good things happen on this show so when Brienne and Pod turn up and slay Ramsay’s men I almost punched the air in joy. I’m sure more misery will be heaped upon them soon but for now we can celebrate their good fortune.

Cersai does not get much good news as she learns of her daughter’s death. I almost very sorry for her. Almost. But this is Cersei so I’m sure she’ll be back to her old ways soon. Once she gets revenge of the High Sparrow ( whose still holding poor Margery) then Dorne and the Sand Snakes will be next. Speaking of Dorne (if I must) the Sand Snakes are still dull and underdeveloped but at least now they’ve killed Myrcella, Doran and Trystane they can hopefully move on from this boring revenge plot. One can only hope.

In Meereen Tyrion and Varys take a walk round the city. Can’t we just have more scenes of their banter instead of going back to Dorne again? Witty lines and misunderstandings of eating babies aside an actual plot development happens when Daenerys’ ships are burnt. I guess this means another delay in getting Daenerys to Westeros. Well if they can get her back from the Dothraki.

Then there’s Arya who has gone from would be assassin to blind street begged getting beaten up by the annoying waif. I’m guessing this is just another secret trial or test of character but will Arya learn her lesson quickly enough?

The episode ends on Melisandre looking despondent as she looks in the mirror and undresses.  Just another gratuitous nudity scene from GoT right? That is until she takes off her necklace and bam she’s suddenly an old woman. I suspected that Melisandre was older than she appeared but I didn’t realize she was putting on a glamour. It makes sense though that she would pretend to be youthful and beautiful in order to enchant those around her. After all she wouldn’t have been able to bewitch Stannis make that demon baby/assassin with him if she looked how she really did. She’s not my favorite character after her part in killing Stannis daughter but for the sake of potentially bringing Jon Snow back-pull it together woman and kick some Night’s Watch ass!

What did you think of the episode? Was it a good season premier? Is Jon Snow really dead dead? Is it the audience who really know nothing? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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The Huntsman: Winter’s War

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Snow White and The Huntsman was a box office hit back in 2012. Then backstage scandal meant both it’s lead actress Kristen Stewart and it’s director Rupert Sanders would not return for the sequel. So a sequel instead was rebooted around Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman. But will a sequel with such ropey beginnings be able to work?

Set before the events of the previous movie, Queen Ravenna’s (Charlize Theron) sister Freya (Emily Blunt) finds her ice powers unfleshed after a tragedy. Powered by her giref Freya builds her her own kindgom and makes an army out of children who will grow up to be her Huntsmen. As years go by two of them Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) break Freya’s rules by falling in love with distasterous consquences. The film then skips seven years to after Ravenna’s death when Eric is sent on a mission to recover the lost mirror of Ravenna coming back into contact with those of his past.

Stewart’s Snow White was one of the more blandest characters in the previous film so her presance isn’t sorely missed (although her absence doesn’t really make sense), but Hemsworth’s The Huntsman wasn’t that much interesting either. So trying to set the sequel/prequel around him was perhaps not the best idea. The film is also so busy trying to fit around the fact that Snow White is not around that several characters have their backstory’s retconned from the previous movie such as Ravenna suddenly gaining a sister. Why didn’t she go to her for help in the previous film if she was around then?

Then there’s the film’s attempt to make this a lighter, funnier movie than it’s predessessor. Not a bad idea but most of it’s humour is hit and miss. The film also has three great actresses in Chastain, Theron and Blunt but Theron isn’t in it enough and Chastain’s Sara feels underdeveloped and lacks chemsistry with Hemsworth. Blunt fares better with Freya having a tragic backstory that powers the action and her scenes with Theron are great but there aren’t enough of them together.

Overall The Huntsman Winter’s War isn’t a terrible film just an uncessary one.

Rating 2.5/5 -a fine casting and some enticing visuals aside this prequel/sequel fails to ignite a new franchise to life

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Carol

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When shopgirl Therese (Rooney Mara) meets the glamorous Carol (Cate Blanchett) sparks fly between them. But this is New York in the early 1950s and they face many obstacles in their way, not least Carol’s impending divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler).

I went into this film thinking it would be more similar to other films based on novelist Patricia Highsmith’s thrillers. Carol (based on Highsmith’s book The Price of Salt) is more of a romantic drama, although there is some tension in regards to the secret love between the women, leaving the audience to wonder if they will be discovered and what the consquences would be if they are.

Perhaps as Carol was so hyped up on it’s release, having watched it now I didn’t feel as passionate about the movie as others have. Having said that it’s a fine film with excellent performances by Blanchett and Mara, both deserving of their Oscar noms. Director Todd Haynes is good at highlighting little moments of intamcy like the touching of hands as being significant, and dangerous steps in their relationship.

Rating 3.5/5 – a class act with Blanchett and Mara at their best

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Rapid Review: Enemy

Enemy

 Spoilers included

Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal), a college professor, discovers he has an identical doppelganger (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal). As Adam tries to learn more about him it leads him along a dark and dangerous path.

I really should have known better than to  watch a movie which has fricking spiders in it. But the spider on the poster above didn’t look so bad and I had heard good things about Enemy so I gave it a shot.

Big mistake!

Not only did the film not make any sense but it ended with Adam walking into a room and a huge tarantula-as big as the room- appearing and scaring me to death. Then it just ended.

WTF?

Up until the last scene the plot-while slow to start with was kind of interesting but I have no idea what the spiders were about. I’m guessing it was symbolising something rather than some giant spiders taking over the world. Maybe if I watched it again I would understand it a bit better but due to the spiders I won’t be watching that again.

Rating 2/5

If anyone has any clue as to what was going on please let me know in the comments below!

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10 Cloverfield Lane

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When a new trailer for a film titled 10 Cloverfield Lane was dropped unexpectedly a few months ago, audiences were left wondering if this was a sequel to 2008 found footage monster movie Cloverfield, or just a marketing ploy to get people to see the movie? Either way what really matters is whether it’s any good?

After being hit in a car accident Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up to find herself in an bunker with a man named Howard (John Goodman) telling her that a nuclear attack has destroyed the outside world and the air is filled with radiation. So they must stay inside the bunker. Can she trust what he says or is the real danger inside the bunker?

This is one of those movies where you have to be careful what you say in order to avoid spoilers. But what I will say is that 10 Cloverfield Lane is a tightly constructed thriller that makes good use of its limited sets and cast. The enclosed space of the bunker makes the action even more claustrophobic and tense.

With three principal cast members in the bunker the tension derives from the dynamics of the characters. Mary Elizabeth Winestead makes for a capable and resourceful heroine while John Goodman switches from creepy to funny effortlessly. While John Gallagher Jr provides some light relief as the easy going Emmett.

The film is less a direct sequel to Cloverfield and more of a spiritual successor. This may disappoint some people who were hoping for more a follow up to the previous movie. At times the Cloverfield connection does feels tacked on (probably as a result of the original script having no connection with Cloverfield at all). And while I liked the ending I think it may prove divisive with audiences.

Rating 3.5/5 – an exciting and thrilling enclosed space mystery

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Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Since Zack Snyder’s latest foray into the DC universe was released the real battle has been the critics vs the audience, with critics slamming the movie but audiences rushing in their droves to see DC’s biggest heroes clash. With record breaking box office numbers in its first week Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice has been a hit so far but will it be a misfire for me?

Two years after Superman (Henry Cavill) saved the world from Zod and the world is still trying to decide how to view Superman. Is he like a benevolent hero like his girfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) believes or someone who could destroy us all in an instance if he so pleases? Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) believes it’s the latter leading to an almighty smackdown between the two. But who will end up victorious?

I hate to be jumping on to the negative bandwagon but for the majority of the movie I was completely bored. It doesn’t help that the movie is so long at 151 minutes and takes forever to get to the part audiences really want to see which is the fight between Batman and Superman. Before this we’re exposed to numerous sub plots and characters that dragged the story down.

One of my main complaints about this movie is that its so dour and serious. Granted Man of Steel was hardly a laugh a minute but up until the last third I was really engaged in that movie and the plot. In reverse Dawn of Justice only really starts to soar in its last third when our heroes finally battle it out. The film is so concerned with being grounded and gritty it forgets to also inject some warmth and humor. Ok it doesn’t need to be a comedy but the movie feels so joyless at times it becomes an effort to watch. The film’s muted colours also fails to make the film visually engaging.

Despite his casting causing much controversy I didn’t have a problem with Ben Affleck’s Batman although he is perhaps more convincing as the Playboy Bruce Wayne than Batsman himself. The writing for Batman also makes him come across as a jerk rather than someone with a genuine concern for the safety of the world. Cavill is still great as Superman although it’s strange that the character seems so reluctant to publicly defend himself against the  naysayers. Dawn of Justice also marks the big screen début of Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot makes an impressive introduction in her small role. The scene of the three heroes fighting together against their for is a highlight and maybe holds some hope for Justice League movie, as does the small glimpses of future DC superheroes.

Unfortunately Jesse Elsenberg’s Led Luthor is a misfire. I could see what the filmmakers were trying to do updating Luthor into a Mark Zuckerberg type figure. However Elsenberg’s manic, melodramatic performance sticks out amongst everything else and not in a good way. He just becomes an irritating villain and the reveal that his hatred against Superman stems from his daddy issues is a disappointing motive for such an iconic baddie.

A disappointing entry into DC’s Extended Universe but there is some hope that they can turn it around in time for the Justice League movie.

Rating 2.5/5 – for a while it’s longand boring  but with a ray of hope in the climatic final stretch

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The Witch

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Nothing good ever happens by going into the woods or living near them. And in this horror there appears to be something horrible lurking in the woods.

In 17th Century New England a puritan family are excommunicated from their plantation due to the father’s radical religious beliefs. Living far beyond civilization on a farm near the woods the family are traumatised when the youngest child, baby Samuel disappears while under the care of eldest daughter Thomasin’s (Anna Taylor-Joy). As the crops begin to fail, suspicions of witchcraft begin to take hold of the family.

The Witch is one of the weirdest films I’ve seen in a while. After it was finished I wasn’t sure what I felt about it. I think I liked it but part of me is still trying to figure out what the hell I just watched. Writer/Director Robert Eggers has crafted a disturbing atmosphere in his début movie. With the family being thrown out from the plantation and left isolated to a malevolent force you are constantly on edge waiting to see what else befalls this family. The film plays into some of our worst fears: that someone is praying on your children and that you may not be able to trust or control what’s going on around you.

The film feels like a strange nightmare that you’ve had after falling asleep reading old fairy tales. From the creepy woods where bad things always happen, a woman in a red hood and of course witches, twisted fairytales have their blueprints all over this. The film may not be to everyones tastes, especially to those expecting to see more of a mainstream horror. This film relies less on jump scares and more on bringing you disturbing images and a forboding score that leaves you unsettled.

The film focuses on a small cast who manage to hold the film together well. The young actors playing the children are engaging and newcomer Taylor-Joy is particularly beguiling as Thomasin. Wheras the parents Ralph Ineson and Katie Dickie are in turn sympathetic and sinister.

I can imagine this being a divisive film, the showing I went to had a few walk outs. Its not a traditional horror movie so anyone looking for that will be disappointed. The filmmaker also did meteculious research into the time period and uses language spoken at the time. While I appreciated the detail that went into making it sound as authentic as possible sometimes I found it difficult to understand what the characters were saying.

Rating 3.5/5 – an unsettling movie that plays on your mind long after

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