Game of Thrones season 7 x 6 – Beyond The Wall recap

So the penultimate episode of season 7 is here and we’re following the band of unfortunate brothers who are travelling up north, by Eastwatch to go and try to catch a Wight, going by Jons rather crazy plan devised in the last episode, the ‘suicide squad’ as I’ll call them is an interesting mix and Jon and Tormund have a little discussion at the front of the pack, over how crazy this idea is. And over Mance Rayder and him refusing to bend the knee and we all know what that got him.

Gendry complains to Thoros and Berrick over their past actions, i.e. selling him to Melisandre, who wanted to sacrifice him and all, so yeah fair dos’ to Gendry being annoyed, though The Hound is having none of it, Gendrys interactions with characters are quite fun so far, unsurprisingly. And for another interesting interaction, Jorah and Jon Snow, Jorah had bad blood with Ned Stark but all is forgiven now, more or less, with Jon respecting Jorah and his house greatly.

At Winterfell, Arya and Sansa have a bit of a bonding session, talking about past memories and their childhoods and memories of Ned in a rather charming moment… that turns sour after Arya reveals the infamous note that Sansa was forced to write, to ask for Robb Stark to come back to Kings Landing. So things are a bit tense and I’m sure Littlefinger’s happy with this wedge being driven between the two Stark sisters, Arya is not happy at all, admitting she would have rather die than have written the letter and yes she was there but also did nothing, as Sansa points out. The two of them are at an impasse, it seems, Arya wants to keep a hold of the letter and seems to be using it as leverage against Sansa because she’s angry but yeah, we don’t need any more dead Starks, so stop fighting kids!

Back up North

Tormund and The Hound have a fun interaction over The Hounds backstory and how he got burnt, they also quite humorously talk about Brienne, who as you know tried to kill The Hound, who Tormund now fancies…. awkward but I’m loving it.

Berrick Dondarion and Jon discuss the lord of light and the purpose of their mission up north. “So what are you fighting for?” Jon asks, “Life”, Berrick replies, a pretty to the point answer and a clear laying out of what he’s fighting for, death (the White Walkers) is the enemy apparently and needs to be fought against.

In Dragonstone, Dany and Tyrion discuss Tyrion  and his demeanor, namely on his intelligence, which has kept him alive so far, unlike Khal Drogo, Daario, Jorah and Jon Snow (and hey two of these people are still alive at this point). The conversation turns to Kings Landing and what the plan is, if and when Dany wants to go there, Cerseis manner of ruling is highlighted in comparison to previous conquerors like Aegon, who was pretty traditional as Tyrion points out – though Dany wants to break tradition and do things differently.

The two then disagree over Danys emotions and how she reacts to situations, the recent execution of the Tarlys comes up, a controversial event for sure. And interestingly, long term planning comes up, namely Daenerys plans for Westeros after she rules and eventually dies, with there being no clear plan in place, Dany is reluctant to even entertain the idea for now.

And back north again

The squad trudges through a blizzard and can comes across a bear…. an undead bear that is and so it begins, killing a bear is one thing but it’s undead so that’s a bit difficult, even though it gets set on fire and everything. And Thoros, while injured by the bear is still okay for the time being.

In Winterfell Sansa confides in Littlefinger over the situation with Arya finding the letter, she’s worried the Northern lords will defect over news of the letter coming out and she has a valid point, with Sansa being married to and in the Lannisters presence in the past for a while. Littlefingers mind games seem to be taking shape here, with him seemingly trying to set up Brienne as a protector of Sansa, in case Arya goes full rogue. Back beyond the wall, the squad comes across a curious site and what do you know, it’s only part of the army of the dead, but where’s the rest of the army? Good question.

In what seems like a trap (that they’re setting up), the undead march to a river crossing and then clash with the squad and the dead apart from one Wight are all dispatched once their local leader is killed by Jon but not before it lets out a particular cry, so the dead Wight is captured and they can all leave. Wait…. that cry was a distress cry most likely and the whole army of the dead is coming, the rest of the squad without Gendry tries to get away but runs onto some precarious thin ice and they are swiftly surrounded, though a break in the ice takes a few of the undead and holds them, things are not looking good.

Gendry makes it back to the wall in record time and is taken in. Meanwhile of the rest of the squad essentially waits for their inevitable doom (or maybe not)…. Thoros passed away while the men were waiting sadly. And now what, I wonder what was going through Jons head, faced with all the wights around them and seemingly no hope, they still need to take the wight with them though and get back alive.

The Nights King is also present though, kill him and game over for the wights…. or so the idea is, though things won’t be that easy of course.

Further drama afoot

At Winterfell, Sansa receives an invitation to Kings Landing (by the Lannisters of course), Sansa refuses to go but calls for Brienne to do so, seemingly wisely while Brienne wants to leave protection for Sansa while she leaves, for her not to be swayed too much by Littlefinger. And really, Sansa, are you siding with the little scrote again?

At Dragonstone, Dany decides to set off to go to the North to help out the remaining squad and off she goes with her other two dragons, in what would be a fairly long trip I imagine but hey short season, characters teleporting etc.

Back beyond the wall, the squad remains waiting, while the Hound mocks them by throwing rocks, a lone wight ambles forward while others do as well, is there a plan or method to the wights attack? Maybe not but I’m sure the Night King has something in mind. Anyway the hordes of the undead march on and combat ensues in what seems like the most one sided fight in Game of Thrones since Hardhome. Tormund is almost, so closely taken down (and what a shame that would have been) but saved by The Hound.

And I mean things have looked bleak before but the fight seems hopeless, until dragonfire…. Dany and her dragons arrive (short season, it’s cool) and help to clear out large swatches of the wights in rather spectacular fashion. But not so fast, the Night King himself takes up a weapon and heads to the squad, throwing a spear at one of the dragons and killing it rather dramatically, as it sinks underwater….. Dany is devastated to say the least and now a dragon short.

Jon is taken down by some Wights and falls underwater but survives, as the remaining wights leave the area.  But he is of course noticed as the lone living person by the army but holy unexpected plot point, long lonst uncle Benjen arrives in the nick of time and sacrifices himself to save Jon in the second most selfless act of the day (after Dany).

The Wall

The remaining squad arrives at  the wall with a wight in tow, while Darnerys thinks over the days events, still mourning her lost dragon clearly, it’s so odd seeing Dragons in the frozen wastes of the north but it makes for some great spectacle. Jon arrives on a lone horse and is taken in, just in the nick of time – no Jon, no dying for you again.

And at Winterfell, Sansa searches Aryas room out of curiosity seemingly, finding her literal face masks, though Arya finds her in typical faceless man sneaking fashion, she wants to play the game of faces with Sansa and oh how little Arya has grown and I mean it is pretty weird you have a bag of faces Arya. She seems to threaten Sansa but only appears to be doing so to intimidate her and well, it worked Sansa is aware of Aryas abilities and power now, how will she act? Will she side further with Littlefinger?

Back out at sea, Jon and Dany have a little talk, with the latter seemingly now a bit smitten with Lord Snow but importantly, she now knows the dead are real and a real threat and driven by the death of her dragon, she seems driven to action, time to unite some armies am I right? Jon accepts to bed the knee for Dany figuratively and finally, you should’ve done this like 2 episodes ago, dude.

And back up north again, the Wights have giant chains somehow and are pulling something rather large from under the ice sheet, a dead dragon that is…. an undead ICE DRAGON!? This was fan fiction for a while but it’s now reality, the Nights king walks up to the dragon and brings it back to life. Now that’s gonna be an interesting thing to deal with.

. Dany’s now onboard to fight the undead, where does Kings Landing lie in importance for her?

. So the undead Ice dragon, will breathe fiire? and The White walkers also have a way over or around the wall now so…. everyone’s screwed, presumably.

. What is Arya planning exactly, to make Sansa aware of her abilities, then kill Littlefinger? Is sansa now too scared of Arya?

And phew there is is, a long re-cap for a long and exciting, great episode with some expected Deus ex machina moments but a lot of thrilling moments as well, can’t wait for the season finale in what should be something pretty spectacular.

We need to talk about the Alien franchise

So you’ve possibly seen the film if you’re a fan (Alien Covenant) and read some reviews and have your own thoughts and sure, opinions are subjective so people out there do like Covenant but with not that many great reviews out there for it and a pretty faltering box office return, it’s say to say the film was a but of a flop? But why didn’t it work out? What’s next for the Alien franchise? You might also wonder.

Well these are great questions and I’d also like to know the answers to them…. but I have my own thoughts, both on Covenant and on the Alien franchise as a whole and where it’s gone wrong in my opinion, I wanted to do a rant on Covenant initially but I think a discussion on the series as a whole would be more productive.

What went wrong

Ridley, Ridley, Ridley, you’re a visionary and great director but I think you’re trying to do too many things in the new Alien films, trying to please two sets of fans and failing at appeasing either which Covenant clearly showed, those two sets of fans are 1 – people that love to see Xenomorphs kill people and have face offs with unfortunate people and 2 – people that love speculative, philosophical sci-fi. So the people that were quite fond of Prometheus, the last film tried to do both and just felt like a bit of a wet blanket without really answering any pressing questions from Prometheus, basically re-hashing Aliens with the closing minutes of Alien and impressively not tying in to the original films in anyway whatsoever.

What I think happened here was that Ridley – or the studio just wanted to go for the audience pleasing route, get killer xenomorhps in there, some colonists with guns and let’s see what happens but unfortunately the longtime Alien fans just don’t seem to want that and audiences as a whole aren’t flocking to see new films in the franchise either, possibly because of bad word of mouth. I think that with these new prequels, the lore and overall story in the series has gotten convoluted and feels fairly aimless now, will anything ever tie to the original Alien? Does it even matter if anything ties in? What is the meaning of life? Where are all of the engineers?!

No direction

Okay, I’m calm….. but seriously, I don’t know what Ridley is trying to achieve with new films now and I don’t think he knows either to be perfectly honest, the generic horror flicks with xenomorphs is tried and true but also boring and predictable, the philosophical angle seemed to turn people off Covenant and the film also missed a trick by not digging deep into it anyway. I just don’t get what can happen next with the story and where it can really go in terms of interesting story telling, without going down some ridiculous plot lines, the problem here is that the more ambitious Ridley may get, the more he’ll be ridiculed but if he plays it say again like with Covenant, I feel the backlash over another tropey, by the numbers plot will be huge. And hey the Xenomorphs, protomorphs…. and Neomorphs are awesome and terrifying creatures but I don’t really care how they were made to be honest and introducing more and more of them just feels a bit pointless, they exist and they kill, we don’t really need more depth to them and I don’t think particularly cares about fleshing out the aliens in any meaningful ways as evidenced by his recent films.

And where the films have tried to bring in philosophy and depth to a series about people getting killed by phallic alien creatures, the result has been a bit weird and sometimes a bit cringey (I’m looking at you, flute playing scene in Covenant). This element has just felt way too forced into the films and feels completely at odds with the original films in the franchise and this isn’t to say that franchises can’t evolve and change but too much radical change in a series can easily divide a fan base down the middle, a la Star Wars and the prequels.

So what’s the solution? Well again, I don’t know but there are some interesting film theory ideas out there (on Youtube) for future films and yeah, they’re the crazy, ambitious ideas and some are intriguing. But back to the future of the franchise, I think Ridley needs to go back to what made people love Alien originally and no that doesn’t mean make another Ripley-esque character and rip scenes from the first two films, but make an intriguing, thrilling horror film really, make it provocative, avoid silly horror tropes and keep audiences guessing. Don’t avoid answering questions for future films sake and actually address things from past films, keep up the good work with the casting because that works but try to bring some nuance back to the series because it is seriously ailing and could quite easily get canned for good if the next film bombs and that’s if the studio even wants to commission another film.

Anyway those are just my thoughts and who knows what will happen with the franchise next (hopefully good things) but I cautiously anticipate what’s to come.

Pleasant surprises and disappointments from 2017 in film (so far)

So as we’re now quite some way into 2017, I thought it was appropriate to finally make a best of 2017 so far post but with a twist, not being just a top 5 or bottom 5 but more of a best surprises and disappointments kind of thing, so here are my top 3 pleasant surprises.

Pleasant surprises

Kong Skull Island is actually a solid, fun film

I wasn’t expecting bad things anyway but Kong was definitely a pleasant surprise, it looked intriguing and with a different take on Kong with the 70s, Vietnam war aesthetic, more monsters than you can shake a stick at a lot of classic rock, where can you go wrong? There are critics of the film understandably but the overall reaction is a pretty good one with most people seeming to have enjoyed their visit on Skull island and I’m glad that we got a monster film in 2017 that was actually good.

 

Get Out is a smash hit out of nowhere

So Jordan Peele is suddenly a director…. that’s cool, it was a pretty out of the blue turn but the reaction to Get Out was pretty electric and deservedly so, I didn’t really know what to expect from the film with the way friends described it to me/what I read online but I was intrigued, an interesting concept that doesn’t rely on silly tropes to get the plot going. Solid acting and a just very solid plot make the film what it is, it doesn’t try too hard going one way or the other with over the top gore or psychological, mind games and I think a lot of people were happily satiated with the result.

 

Disappointments

Alien: Covenant falls way short of the mark

This disappointment probably hurts me the most as a pretty big Prometheus and Alien fan, I’m intrigued and interested in the world that Ridley Scotts created and I’d love to find out more, in terms of answers to questions a lot of people have been asking since the divisive Prometheus, so picture my excitement when Alien Covenant looks pretty thrilling and is touted as direct sequel and follow up. And there goes my excitement, the film was just a generic slasher film with xenomorphs (protomorphs, neomorphs, whatever) killing people and you know we’ve seen that in every Alien film apart from Prometheus right? I just got the feeling that Alien fans and general filmgoers were interested in something a bit different in the franchise, with more depth, asking questions about humanitys existence, our place in the universe and the creation of the xenomorph and yup, there they are…. the horror tropes, dammit Ridley.

 

Assassins’ Creed is another not so great video game film

This was a real shame with AC easily having the potential to be one of if not the best video game film to date and to be fair, it’s not terrible but it’s far from the enjoyable thrill ride I was anticipating back in December of 2016, the plot was chopped up way too much between past and present day, we didn’t get enough context for Conor and his situation and the story was far too generic. Generic for Assassins Creed, that is, with some of the most elaborate plots I’ve seen in a video game, ironically if they stuck closer to the games, they could have probably made a more compelling and engaging film but hey ho, on we go to the next hopefully good video game film.

 

Ghost In The Shell fires damp squibs

As it turns out, one of the most visually intriguing and thought provoking anime of all time, Ghost In The Shell or GITS makes for a pretty bland, dull live action film, at least when given the hollywood treatment, I was actually pretty hyped for the film, I was down for Scarlett Johansson for the Major and the visuals looked good, the plot was kind of straightforward but there was just a lack of resonance with the story for some reason. I felt as empty watching the film as the shells that people inhabit in the plot and it just didn’t do much for me and probably for most people who say it, looking at its critical rating, Hollywood will possibly nail a live action anime at some point but this was just not that film. And the fact that most people have completely forgotten about the film in just 4 months just speaks to the point.

And that’s my list for films so far and with 4 months give or take, left in 2017, I’m curious to see what surprises (pleasant or not) lay in store for us film fans.

Game of Thrones season 7 x 5 – Eastwatch recap

Episode 5 is here and after some rather dramatic events in the last episode and how could you possibly top that this season? I wonder. Jon rallies forces and heads to Eastwatch to take the White Walkers on. What do you know Bronn and Jamie survived… much to no ones surprise and to put it bluntly, Bronn is not onboard to fight Dany and her dragons, though Jamie knows he needs to tell Cersei of the Lannisters predicament.

Dany offers a simple choice to the surviving Lannister POWs, bend the knee…. or die and 99% of them do, though not everyone does, in the face of a dragon no less and Dickon…. again, he refuses to bow and is… summarily burned alive, much to Tyrions dismay, though this puts the rest of the enemy soldiers in clear perspective of their situation. Jamie returns to King Landing (already!?) to report to Cersei and tell her of the situation, Cersei remains defiant but Jamie brings her a dose of reality, the two bicker over what to do next though they can’t quite agree, Jamie also reveals Olenna poisoned Joffrey, not Tyrion but that doesn’t sway her at all.

The two clearly disagree on how to move forward, Jamie is not on board at all but Cersei won’t be swayed. At Dragonstone, Dany and Drogon arrive to meet Jon Snow, who seems to…. bond (R+L=J!?) and Dany questions Jon on Davos saying Snow ‘took a knife to the heart’, we know what this means but before we can get into too much detail, the serial friendzoner, Ser Davos returns. And everyone is teleporting across Westeros but hey, seeing Davos and Dany re-unite was quite sweet.

Back in the North….

Crows are disturbed by something.. and what do you know, that something is the army of the dead led by the night king – oh and those crows were controlled by Bran, who sends for a raven to The Citadel, meisters at the citadel then discuss the message, doubting its validity. Though Sam vouches for Bran and his visions, the meisters remained unmoved.

At Dragonstone, Tyrion and Varys discuss the vents of the day and Danys…. temper. And onto more current events, Jon is eager to get back to the North as news of the ever marching White Walkers has spread and a plan to bring a Wight back to Cersei and Kings Landing, ambitious no doubt but how on earth will they get one… and get it to the South? Jorah volunteers to undertake the mission but Jon Snow takes point on doing it but Danerys doesn’t seem to want him to go interestingly. At Winterfell, the Northern lords/men loyal to the Starks pledge their loyalties to Sansa and there is some clear dissent among the ranks with not everyone on Jons side as he left to go to Dragonstone.

The Stark siblings (Sansa and Arya) discuss how to rule and Aryas’ clearly not too pleased with Sansa listening to Jons critics but she brings up the good point that you can’t go around executing people for dissent – which is a fair point, we get a hint that Sansa may be hungry for power and leadership but she doesn’t address it.

And back to the south

Tyrion and Ser Davos arrive near Kings Landing. Meanwhile Bronn and Jon (hey it rhymes!) come to a crypt to rain but wait no they don’t, Bronn’s brought Jamie to meet Tyrion and have another re-union and to discuss potential terms between Cersei and Danerys. And another re-union, it’s only freakin’ Gendry who’s been MIA for like 3 seasons, so that’s cool, he’s been making weapons for the Lannisters by the way and he’s well on board to leave and join whatever else is going on in the North.

Two soldiers stop Davos and Gendry from leaving on a boat while Davos puts the sweet talk on them, Tyrion returns and sparks their curiosity as Gendry sneaks up behind them and does them in, so he’s been practising with weapons too eh? Jamie returns to Cersei to tell her she met with Tyrion while she was aware of Bronn arranging the meeting, Daenerys wants an armistice to fight against the White Walkers but Cersei still, remains defiant (somehow), Cersei in quite simple terms announces she’s pregnant and she also reminds Jamie of their fathers old saying “lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep”.

At Dragonstone, Davos introduces Gendry to Jon Snow and they quite humorously quip back and forth, over their fathers (Robert Baratheon and Ned) and what they remember of them, Gendry’s eager and wants to fight. Jorah sets off and leaves Dany (again), departing is such sweet sorrow… as does Jon, though Dany is quite sad to see him leave, it seems. Do I smell a romance brewing?

Back at the Citadel, Sam is frustrated at his situation, he wants to help out and fight the White Walkers but is clearly restricted. At night he takes it upon himself to be rid of the Citadel and sets off with his family to leave.

Winter is here

At Winterfell, Arya sports Littlefinger discussing something with a girl who he hands something over to, bit dodgy if you ask me, what is he up to…. And we see a man hand a certain scroll and or text which Arya then searches for after he leaves, though Littlefinger plotted this and was aware she’d look for the text. What is the text and what is its important… interesting questions.

At Eastwatch, Jon, Tormund and Davos discuss what they’ll do next but hey look it’s The Hound and two of brotherhood without banners discuss what should happen next, they want in on whatever’s happening and out of their jail cell and off they go into the frozen wastes on what could well be a suicide mission with an intriguing mix of characters. And well that was an interesting episode, not too much movement on the White Walker front (no pun intended) but a lot of things happening south, Tyrion and Varys are growing weary of Dany while Cersei plots to fight against the world but may seek to trick Dany in some way, while Jamie grows a bit weary of her himself.

Gendry is also back so, that’s kinda great. Here’s some thoughts going forward to the end of the season.

. Everyone’s teleporting but hey whatever, we’re running out of airtime to tell the story

. Gendry’s back, so he was just in Kings Landing the whole… time?

. What exactly does Cersei plan to do now? Or is she just going a bit mad herself?

Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets – review

Luc Besson directs the sci-fi epic,Valerian and the City Of A Thousand Planets, based in a universe full of diverse alien species, congregating on Alpha, a metropolis with thousands of species and cultures intermixing. A dark force threatens Alphas stability and government agents Valerian and Laureline must take on a mission to uncover the mystery and save Alpha, the film stars Dane Dehaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke and Herbie Hancock.

Ah Valerian and the city of a thousand opinions, the film is seen as a bit of a flop currently and honestly, it’s not that surprising of a view, Besson is an interesting director who takes on intriguing projects and this latest outing is no different based on the French comic ‘Valerian and Laureline’ by Jean-Claude Meziere and with the scope and scale of the story, it’s quite incredible that it managed to even make it to the big screen. However a film isn’t judged on just its ambition and scope, otherwise films like Jupiter Ascending would be masterpieces and we all know that’s far from the case, Valerian suffers from some just really simple flaws, namely poor storytelling, weirdly shoed in plot points and pretty bad pacing.

At over 2 hours and 20 minutes, you’d wonder what there is to see and you’ll be left wondering as you watch as the plot just drags on and on, events in the 2nd half of the plot in particular move rather slowly and I was left literally checking the time on my phone – something I pretty much never do in a cinema but I either wanted something interesting to happen or the film to end, to be honest. It’s definitely overly long and could have used a 15 minute or so trim to the run time in my opinion, which would have helped a lot because of the bad pacing. Though on the positive side for the film, the leads, Dane DeHaan is great as the cocky, headstrong Valerian and he does play off Cara Delevingne well I feel, (who plays Laurelin) but the duos relationship is something we’re thrust into without much or any back story and because of this, their sort of flirty dynamic might feel a bit random – though it’s mostly coming from Valerian.

The lack of familiarity with the two makes their dynamic, while fun feel a bit forced, especially when it comes to romantic elements, although the two actors are a believable pairing. And aside from the two leads, the side characters don’t really do too much aside spouting off exposition and being there to just forward the plot, Rihanna – while being a bit disbelief breaking in her appearance is actually good as a shape shifting alien Bubble though and she brings some good laughs. Levity is another positive for the film, well placed throughout the film with some well told, simple jokes which keep things fairly light, although there are some dark themes present and that’s a credit to the writing, I’ve seen the films dialogue criticised as being forced and unrealistic but I actually enjoyed it and I felt it suited the characters, namely Valerian and Laureline. Also the visuals are another plus, with some awesome vistas, alien races and scenes among different Alien sections in Alpha, the set pieces are also visually pleasing but lack weight and any tension whatsoever, with the two main characters sort of wafting through action sequences unscathed and while I get that they’re expert agents, some suspense would have been a nice touch.

Ultimately Valerian is an intriguing project, something people thought couldn’t be filmed at all but it was and it’s not great to be honest, with some bad pacing, a story that really drags on and not enough context for Valerian and Laurelines relationship or any backstory on either of them, you may find it hard to engage with them or care about their relationship. And despite some great visuals, the storytelling is definitely lacking and there’s a notable lack of weight to the plots events.

6/10

. Poor pacing

. Story really drags in the 2nd half

. Has some great visuals

Ranking Christoper Nolans filmography

Ah Christopher Nolan, auteur, somewhat divisive (thought most film fans worship him) film maker extra-odinaire, whatever you think about Nolan, you probably have an opinion of him one way or the other as he’s directed some of the most influential and popular films of the last 16 years, a fan favourite director whose films are often events in and of themselves, here’s my ranking of his filmography to date. Alas, I haven’t seen Following so it is not on this list.

 

1. The Dark Knight – 10/10

Nolans masterpiece has been praised to high heaven and you’ve heard it all but it jut really is that good with everything great about a Nolan film featured, great casting, brilliant dialogue, great pacing and great visuals/ fantastic set pieces that keep you enamoured and engaged from start to finish, Batman is at his utter best here and at the height of his ‘powers’ and it makes for awesome viewing. With some superbly quotable lines that broken into and dwelled in the pantheon of pop/internet culture for years which go to show how popular and well received the film is and deservedly so.

 

2. Inception – 9/10

Inception right alongside The Dark Knight represents the zenith, the dizzying heights that this director can achieve and he really knocked it out of the park with this now iconic film, the soundtrack, its timing with plot events, the intriguing premise and fantastic plot, there are so many good things about the film, it’s hard to sum up in a paragraph or two but I can try. What’s great about the film is its simplicity – hear me out, while aspects of the film may sound complex, they’re really not, certain people use technology to put ideas into peoples heads in dreams and set about doing so to stop a company merger, exciting things happen along the way, the storytelling is a highlight of the film, as are the brilliant, inventive set pieces. And while the idea may not be completely original (what story is nowadays), what it represents is a lot of creativity combined with a great story and great production.

 

3. Batman Begins  – 8/10

The beginning of The Dark Knight trilogy is a wonder, a great origin story and a great film overall that encapsulates the mythos of Batman, his motivations and shows an interesting side to Bruce Wayne as well, Batman Begins just feels so wonderfully comic-booky, fun and engaging yet it’s solid, gritty and has a nice grounded feeling to it that makes for a nice balancing act. The cast and performances are also great with Liam Neeson as Ra’as al Ghul for an example being an inspired choice, everything just simply works with great pacing, well done set pieces and an exciting plot in which we get to see one of the most famous comic book characters become the character we all know and love.

 

4. Interstellar – 7.5/10

Interstellar is definitely one of the more divisive films on this list but its scope is truly out of this world (pun intended) and the film is quite a feat in its plot ambitions and production, with a great soundtrack, brilliant cast and a strong emotional core to the story around a fathers relationship with his daughter. The performances are good and McConaughey is phenomenal and utterly convincing as caring father Coop. Interstellar utilises that emotional investment to keep you engaged, more so than you may expect with ups, downs and left turns along the way that keep things interesting, with some stunning visuals and an exciting use of theoretical science. Oh and that soundtrack, that soundtrack is phenomenal. Interstellar is easily one of Nolans most intriguing premises for sure and though it has some some stretches in logic – even for a very sci-fi heavy film, the technical aspects of the film are still pretty incredible and I applaud and ambition and imgination required to make a film like this.

 

5. Dunkirk – 7/10

The latest film in Nolans filmography is his most stand out feature in terms of subject matter, being based on real history and events, taking place in WWII, there’s an intriguing visceral nature to the story that plays out across a few changing perspectives, keeping the plot moving at an interesting, engaging pace, the acting is also solid and things are rounded up by some fantastic visuals and amazing audio. While Dunkirk is nothing earth shattering, it’s a compelling true story and an important one, I feel, showcasing Nolan can make interesting films out of even real events without being gratuitous or overly focused on certain aspects like gore and death, keeping the recreated events ‘accurate’ but respectful.

 

6. Memento – 7/10

Memento is often forgotten among Nolans film but it’s one of his grounded films but ambitious nevertheless as we follow Justin Webster, a cop with no short term memory who has to try and find out what happened to him with clues and detective skills, the plot is a pretty engaging one and it’s great to watch and see things unravel as the characters do. The film features some good cinematography and some pretty well done chase sequences, non-linear films can often be divisive but when done well (as with any film), they can hold a special place with people.

 

7. The Dark Knight Rises – 6.5/10

The conclusion of The Dark Knight trilogy just isn’t as good as its previous two entries although it’s admirable in its scope and production with arguably the biggest and widest reaching story in the trilogy, Bane is a great villain and Tom Hardy fills his larger than life boots rather well, while the returning cast is great and Hathaway makes a great Catwoman. Being filmed in IMAX, the film looks majestic and has some pretty grand set pieces however TDKR  falters from plot holes, some rather lacklustre acting in parts and to be blunt, not enough Batman. And though it’s not necessarily a bad film per se, it”s quite far from The Dark Knight and even Batman Begins in overall quality, which says more than enough about this outing.

 

8. The Prestige – 6.5/10

One of Nolans more… out there films, a period piece exploring rivalry and what it can do to people to an extreme level, the world of 19th century ‘magic’ that Nolan explores in The Prestige is a pretty fascinating one and visually great looking with great costumes, set designs and some strong performances. However things does get a bit dragged down by a convoluted conclusion and a plot not as emotionally gripping or interesting as some of Nolans other work despite the ambition here.

 

9. Insomnia – 6/10

Insomnia, while not necessarily bad is just a bit forgettable for me, with one of Nolans more weak and less engaging plots, though Al Pacino and Robin Williams make for some stellar casting, I found myself not as engaged in the story as I normally would be in a Nolan film and that of me is a bit of a deal breaker, though the plot is straightforward and the acting is solid

Game of Thrones S7 x 4 – The Spoils of war re-cap

The fourth episode of season 7 of Thrones is out and we kick off with Jamie Lannister, Bronn and some of his army looking over their spoils from taking High Garden, Bronn seeks his reward for serving Jamie, reminding him that he’s owned a castle, though Jamies’ eager to remind him that he has a bag of gold with him and is therefore rich. Bronn goes off with the Tarlys’.

Lannisters…. Starks  and debts 

And what do you know, the Lannisters payed their debts, Cersei pays off the debt the Iron Bank was in, with the spoils from High Garden and Cersei discusses future investments with the debtor, describing her need for her armies to grow and be funded, do I spot a partnership growing here? Back in Winterfell, Littlefinger has a chat with yet another Stark, trying to comfort a now very different Bran before Meera interrupts them and Littlefinger leaves (thankfully), Meera informs Bran that she’s leaving him now that he’s safe (relatively) before the White Walkers come and kill everyone.

Though Brans lack of emotion and indifference upsets Meera, he’s now the three eyed Raven, you see. And another Stark re-union, Arya makes her way to Winterfell and isn’t let in at first because of two rather douchey door guards, eventually she’s let in, before disappearing. Arya is down in the crypt by Ned Starks tomb and is found by Sansa, because sisters know each other and what follows is a rather sweet re-union, the two bond and re-cap over past events that they’ve been through, including Joffreys’ death and Aryas kill list, Sansa doesn’t believe her but Arya plays it off as a joke, again. The Stark re-union/love in continues as Sansa takes Arya to Bran – still the three eyed raven, guys and what follows is a bit of an awkward conversation, the Starks are now forever changed and mature, a world away from their season 1 selves, making for an interesting combination now in season 7.

In Dragonstone, Daenerys and Missandei discuss the latest events, including the missing unsullied until they’re called by Jon Snow who wants to show her the Dragonglass and…. something else, murals on a cave, painted by the Children of the forest, we find that the children and the first men fought together against the White Walkers, proving the Walkers existence to Dany, somewhat. This is a clever plot device to get Dany on Jon Snows’ side, although there’s still tension between the two leaders as Dany wants Jon to still submit to her. Varys and Littlefinger have news on the combat front, Casterly Rock has been taken but the Lannisters avoided a large fight there, Danys allies are mostly gone and she’s frustrated understandably, she wants to go straight to Kings Landing and attack much to Littlefingers dismay but she seeks Jon Snows opinion and he wisely (imo) advises her to not use the dragons to give people a reason to think she’s like her ‘mad’ predecessors.

Brienne trains Podrick in Winterfell, where she’s re-united with Arya, who wants to be trained with the knight and boy is this an episode of re-unions, it’s quite sweet to see Arya and Brienne re united after their fight with The Hound and Aryas confidence and mastery with a sword makes thing interesting, so Bran is now the three eyed Raven (yes, we know) and Arya is a deadly, killer assassin, Sansa is also more mature. Davos enquires about Dany to Jon and they come across Missandei, who describes a bit about her upbringing and how she came to be an adviser to Dany, Jon questions Danys leadership a bit though Missandei is unwavering in her support. A Greyjoy ship comes in from the bay and look who it is, Ree- I mean, Theon, with no Yara and no fleet, also re-uniting with Jon, the two of them didn’t leave on the best of terms, if you remember, anyway Theon comes to ask for Danys help to get Yara back from bad uncle Euron but…. Dany’s not at Dragonstone.

Daenerys the conqueror

The Lannisters continue to send their war spoils back to Kings landing, Jamie and Bronn speak with Dickon and Jamie commends his brave fighting and oh, a wild Dothraki horde appears to attack while the Lannisters prepare for defence, with Dany riding one of her dragons as well, go figure and much fighting ensues. Though things are  bit one sided in favour of Dany of course but maybe not by Jamies figuring as he aims to use a scorpion on the drogon a scorpion that Bronn manages to get to amidst the chaos and admirably uses, managing to hit it, sending it and Dany down to the ground but not in a crash landing, Dany then orders Drogon to destroy the scorpion.

While on the ground, Bronn manages just to escape certain death by fire and Dany tries to free her dragon from the arrow, leaving herself exposed to Jamie, though she cautions on to the threat and is very narrowly saved by what seems to be Bronn from certain death. And that’s the episode, and wow what an episode, a lot is going on with the Dany front, her dragons aren’t unbeatable but her army is still very formidable and the Lannisters definitely won’t have things easy in this war. Here are some more thoughts going forward.

  • Re-unions, re-unions everywhere
  • .Et tu, Jamie? I doubt that’s the last we see of him
  • Littlefinger and little Starks, I wonder what the so called ‘master’ schemer has in plans for the Starks
  • How will Daenerys react to Theons being back, in cowardly retreat?

And yeah, I’m very much looking forward to the next episode!

Daniel Craig on for two more Bond films

The name’s Craig… Daniel Craig

So this news has broken and is all around the web as you may have noticed but Craig is on for two more Bond films interestingly, after struggling to get through Spectre or so we thought, we all assumed he was done with the franchise and wanted nothing more to do with – well, that’s not true. He’s signed up for Bond 26 and Bond 27 apparently, so we’ll get tat least two more films with Craig before a potential new Bond comes into the fray.

There’s no official word from Sony on this yet but I buy it, Craigs films have generally been hits apart from Quantum of Solace and he’s a well received Bond, 2 more films will take him into history as one of the longer serving Bonds as well, with 6 films total if he does those speculated next 2 films. Or this could just be chatter and Craig isn’t on board but either way, I think we’ll find out soon for sure.

Dunkirk – review

Dunkirk is a war drama based on the real events of Dunkirk in 1940, where hundreds of thousands of trapped British, French, Belgian and Australian soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk, France with a plethora of military and civilian boats that sailed across the channel, the film stars Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Barry Keoghan, Aneurin Barnard and Jack Lowden.

Going into Dunkirk, I was expecting a very different Nolan film right off the bat, knowing that the story is based on real events and real history, it’s a big change for Nolan in terms of storytelling and in terms of character and that is clearly seen in the films structure, I even thought to myself while watching the film “there isn’t really a beginning, middle or end to this”. And that is true to a point, though Nolan does tell a story from a few different perspectives of British soldiers in different circumstances, soldiers on the beaches, RAF spitfire pilots and a civilian boat helmed by Mr Dawson (the evergreen Mark Rylance) and what we do get is a depiction of what happened at Dunkirk for the British soldiers and we do see them get home to England.

Spoilers! Wait, this is all real history and common knowledge (to a degree), so no spoilers, anyway as Nolan is telling the story of a few fictional soldiers during the events of Dunkirk and not the story that led to them needing to be evacuated, the result is a more compact and streamlined story in my opinion, Nolan nails tight, cohesive story telling and this is no different, we completely understand what’s happening and why. And this is due to good, solid writing however I do have a slight gripe when it comes to comprehending some events in the film and that’s purely down to the sound and not when planes were attacking soldiers or explosions were going off, normal dialogue in my screening felt a bit off and I couldn’t make out what some characters said, so that was a negative

I don’t know if this is other peoples experience as well or just my theatre so I won’t go too much into that. The audio is stellar to sum it up in a word, emotional, grand and epic to evoke the scale of the conflict of WWII in the European theatre and remember all of this happened along one stretch of Northern France over the space of a few weeks, a mere blip in WWII but a huge and significant event for the allied army. And I love the details to the sounds we hear, every string of bullets from a spitfire, ship hulls being lined with bullet holes and the howling of Stuka divebombers, it’s loud, in your face and a bit terrifying and you can only imagine what it would have been like in person and up close, Nolan works well in evoking feelings and sparking the imagination of his audience and he again nails this aspect.

There’s just a very gritty, visceral nature to the film and visceral in every sense of the word with soldiers simply trying to survive and get home to England, the simplicity of their objective just makes every loss we see on screen more tragic but death isn’t graphic or explicitly shown, though you know what happens – to a sunken boat with soldiers on board for example. And without getting too deep, death and loss are heavy themes in WWII films of course and Dunkirk is no different but interestingly the combat and military aspect of the war isn’t focused on but the characters are, we see their connections to each other, strangers helping each other because they’re all in the same boat – pardon the pun but literally, for some of them. Soldiers die, soldiers survive but they all strive to carry on and do their duty, echoing Winston Churchills famous rallying war cry and I think that quote is a great way to sum up the film as a whole.

Overall here weren’t that many negatives, though this type of story structure may put off fans of more typical Nolan films with a definitive main character that is sort of a protagonist – though we do follow Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) quite closely, we also follow a few other characters. There are still other Nolanisms present, an incredible soundtrack, fantastic visuals and a heavy emotional core to the story and I feel the film is another hit for Nolan, a well told and very well produced film that won’t be for every one or even every Nolan fan but I think the story is an important one and an incredible true story.

7/10

. Has some great acting

. Fantastic visuals, great CG

. Engaging plot, makes you sympathise with the characters and their plight

Grown Ups – review

Hello friends! No this is not Joshua aka the Doc writing. My name is Renate, species unidentified, and I’m over here on Josh’s amazing blog to write a little review. Hope you like it as much as you like Josh’s reviews (if that’s even possible) Here we go!

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Adam Sandler enters our screens with a comedy like no other. It’s time to show the kids what it’s like to spend 4th of July at a lake house rather than watching TV. Directed by Dennis Dugan and starring some brilliant actors like Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph and many more.

I have to say that Grown Ups is one of my go to movies when I’m feeling sad. It’s just so funny and enjoyable. I’m a big Adam Sandler fan and I always think he brings the humor to the table. I also love that the movie is about both adults and children because it makes the story a lot more eventful. One might think that there’s way too many characters in the movie but I really think they have found the right balance. I don’t feel like there should be more focus on one person or less on another.

Another thing I really enjoy with Grown Ups is the environment. The whole change between the comfortable lifestyle they all have and the lake house/the outdoor environment is remarkable and I loved the lake house. It was so darn beautiful. I also really enjoyed how the whole story fit together from the start to the end.

Overall I have to say that it’s such a good movie with a lot of humor and drama. It’s lovely to see families come together and have fun. Amazing characters and brilliant actors as well. I would definitely recommend this movie!

8/10

. Lovely environment

. Fun story with a lot of comedy

. Fantastic characters, both children and adults

 

And thank you Renate for that review and I’m glad to have had you onboard, check out her blog at https://popcornandfilm.wordpress.com for similar reviews and her thoughts on film!