GoldenEye – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn

Film matched beverage: Golden Cocktail

Synopsis: After the longest gap between Bond films since the franchise started, Brosnan begins his tenure as the ultra-cool British agent.   Bond tails the mysterious Xenia Onatopp following a chance encounter.   In doing so he stumbles upon a much larger plot.   A few twists later, and it turns out our new villain is not unfamiliar to Bond… Continue reading

Game of Thrones Episode 10 – Fire and Blood

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Lena Heady, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aidan Gillen, Alfie Allen, Richard Madden, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Sibel Kekilli

Synopsis: In the last thrilling episode of the season, the repercussions of Joffrey’s decision at the end of the previous episode have vast implications.   Tywin Lannister has no chance of achieving peace with Robb Stark, with armies hemming him in from each side.   He shows faith in Tyrion sending him to act as King’s Hand in his place.   Jon Snow makes an attempt to abandon the Night’s Watch to join his half-brother in war.   Drogo is saved, but he is a husk of a man, and the price appears to have been Daenerys’ child.   Yet Daenerys shows greater strength as a result than could have ever hitherto been expected.

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Game of Thrones Episode 9 – Baelor

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Lena Heady, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen, Alfie Allen, Richard Madden, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, David Bradley, Sibel Kekilli

Synopsis:   Robb has some tough decisions to make as to how to proceed with his campaign, the first being whether to make a deal with Lord Walder Frey (Harry Potter’s Bradley).   Khal Drogo’s wound from last episode threatens to take his life, putting Daenerys in a precarious position.   Tyrion is placed in the army’s vanguard by his father, and we learn more of his history on the eve of battle.   Jon Snow, while being honoured by Jeor Mormont, whose life he saved, struggles to observe his duty knowing his brother rides to war.   Stark also debates whether his duty is to his honour, or to the life of his daughters.

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Game of Thrones Episode 8 – The Pointy End

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen, Alfie Allen, Richard Madden, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams

Synopsis: Eddard Stark is now in prison for treason, and daughter Sansa, infatuated with Joffrey, sends word to Rob to swear fealty.   He responds by calling every banner loyal to his father to war with the Lannisters.   Jon Snow’s own loyalty to his father leads to rash decisions, yet a new threat from beyond the wall takes precedence over these matters.

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Game of Thrones Episode 7 – You Win or You Die

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen, Alfie Allen

Synopsis: Baratheon returns from the hunt mortally wounded, and dictates orders to Stark that he is to be Protector of the realm until Joffrey comes of age.   Stark, knowing the true father of Joffrey is Jaime, sets wheels in motion to have Baratheon’s eldest brother take the throne instead.   With Baratheon’s blessing, he also rescinds the command to assassinate Daenerys, but too late.   John Snow learns that he is not to be a Ranger with the Night’s watch, but rather Sir Allistair’s steward.

If I were not intimately aware that this is a season with ten episodes to be aired, and that this one were but episode seven, I could otherwise have sweared that the events in this episode were worthy of a season cliffhanger.   So thrilling and significant were each of the reveals in this episode, that I can only with relief accept that there are three more episodes to come, and I shall not have to wait almost a year to see these events resolved.

With Baratheon mortally wounded, drama was sure to follow considering who would indeed take the throne at his passing.   The audience has the benefit of already understanding that Joffrey is a vain, loathsome child.   with Cersei behind him, his rule could be very dangerous.   To make matters worse, Stark had offered Cersei an ultimatum to leave the kingdom, as he was due to inform the King of the truth of Joffrey’s birth.   Alas, his death came first, leading to a battle of wills between these enemies, and for everyone else in the realm, a battle of divided loyalties.   Clearly, this is the recipe for some intense drama, and provides the episode with one of the thrilling cliffhangers I referred to above,

Yet two other story arcs are followed, and these are no less thrilling than the primary “game of thrones” occurring in King’s Landing.   Returning to the Dothraki camp, Daenerys still covets her father’s former throne, even after (EPISODE 6 SPOILERS AHEAD) the death of her brother at Drogo’s hand.   Yet Drogo has no interest in thrones and kingdoms, content with his realm on his own side of the sea.   However, after the attempt on his Khaleesi’s life, which Stark was too late to stop, a sleeping giant has been wakened, and in retrospect, Baratheon’s attempt to kill his predecessor’s heir will only pitch the realm into a war which was already perhaps unlikely.   It is great stuff though, to see Mamoa’s usually gruff and sullen character awake in fury, and with his physique, it does come across as truly threatening.

Jon Snow’s storyline has less screen-time, yet it promises much.   He is frustrated at being declared a steward, being the best fighter in his batch of recruits.   Being selected personally by Sir Allistair as steward, he clearly knows where the blame lies.   It is here that Sam’s character becomes important, calming Snow’s fury and opening his eyes to the benefits of his position.   Aside from more references to the myths awaking from slumber beyond the wall, this storyline still only gives glimpses of an interesting story to come, yet it is one I eagerly await.

The best episode of the series to date, I hold my breath to see whether they can build some drama that is even more exciting than what we have already seen in the coming weeks.

5 out of 5

 

Game of Thrones Episode 7 – You Win or You Die on IMDB

Game of Thrones Episode 7 – You Win or You Die trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR6ZCi6psn0]

Game of Thrones Episode 6 – A Golden Crown

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen, Alfie Allen, Kate Dickie

Synopsis: Stark is still the King’s Hand despite his attempted resignation.   In the king’s absence, Stark makes a few heavy-handed decisions that may jeopardise the Baratheon-Lannister alliance.    Tyrion makes a bid for freedom whilst still protesting his innocence.   Viserys becomes increasingly unhinged at Khal Drogo’s reluctance to obey him, whilst Daenerys solidifies her position as the latter’s Khaleesi.

As with The Wolf and the Lion, this is an episode with many more dramatic elements interspersed with some thrilling action sequences, and with an episode cliffhanger moment that is nothing if not memorable.   Unlike the last episode however, the Targaryen storyline is once again examined, and as such it makes me feel their absence from the last episode was even more telling.   Not that their story takes a majority of the screen time this week, but Emilia Clarke once again puts in an absolutely stellar performance as the now strong Khaleesi of the Dothraki, and she remains a brilliant character to follow.

She seems this episode to take the final steps on her path of self discovery and empowerment.   She embraces some of the more brutal elements of Dothraki culture, seen eating the raw heart of a horse as part of a Dothraki rite (pictured above, yes a little stomach churning).   Her success increases the adoration of her new people, and if anything she shares power with Khal Drogoas opposed to being his trophy.   The final step is taken as well to show once and for all that she does indeed wield more power than her brother, and this power goes beyond having a people who adore her.

Meanwhile, Tyrion is dealing with his current travails, imprisoned by Lady Arryn (Dickie) in a “Sky cell” (a cell open to a vast drop on one side), yet managing to bribe his way out of there and into a confession.   In true Tyrion style he manages to admit to every brazen act in his past, yet deny involvement in the assassination of Lord Arryn, Stark’s predecessor as King’s Hand, and of the attempted assassination of Bran.   He opts for a trial by combat, and is lucky to have one friend to act as champion amongst his foes.   Speaking of Bran, he now has the saddle that was designed by Tyrion, and his first ride out he meets with trouble.  He is eventually saved by the ward of Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy (Allen), whom has an increasingly important role in the series, both friend to the Stark’s yet also aware that they once defeated his family leading to his current subservient position.

Stark’s storyline still seems to have the greatest import, however.   As listed above, his actions in Baratheon’s absence may well incite war with the Lannister, Baratheo’s own kin by marriage.   This is a move clearly not in accordance with the King’s wishes, given he remains in debt to his father-in-law.   Stark also may have discovered why Arryn had been so interested in Baratheon’s bastards, all black-haired children like their father, and as records of ancesttry show, a mark of all Baratheon ancestors.   My suspiscions as to the pure Lannister blood in Joffrey deepen with this news.

This episode takes the season past the halfway point, and things are shaping up very nicely building towards the season finale.   This is fast becoming in my opinion one of the more superior television series of recent years.

4 stars out of 5.

 

Game of Thrones Episode 5 – A Golden Crown on IMDB

Game of Thrones Episode 5 preview [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4_6Nqgzskw]

Game of Thrones Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen

Synopsis: Baratheon learns of Daenerys Targaryen’s impending pregnancy, and fearing the power her son may wield, orders her assassination, much to Stark’s disgust.   Catelyn escorts Tyrion Lannister to her sister’s stronghold, where we learn the latter seems to have taken leave of her senses.   Jaime Lannister has discovered his brothers abduction, and track’s down Stark to get him back.

In many respects, The Wolf and the Lion is a mid-season episode with a much greater focus on character development than all-out action.   By no means does it neglect some fight scenes, as well as a fair portion of sex and nudity as per previous episodes, yet it manages to do a lot to advance plot with a focus on those present in King’s Landing.   Despite not being something of great import to add to the synoppsis above, we delve further into the relationship between Baratheon and Cersei which allows us to further understand their antipathy for each other.

In this particular scene, a new level of talent is explored for the two actors on display.   Sarah Connor Chronicles Heady displays a subtle but powerful grasp of the emotion fo the scene, intentionally underplayed in a way that maximises the effect of her performance.   Also to date Addy has played Baratheon as a boorish, more comic character, yet in this scene he explores deeper emotions also.    The performance may not be as subtle as Heady’s, but this is not a subtle character, and it remains potent stuff to watch.

Tyrion the Imp still remains one of the most fascinating characters present.   He remains calm in a pinch, and despite evidence to his earlier having been deceitful, he is really coming across as the most trustworthy character of those on display.   When given a chance for freedom at the expense of Catelyn’s safety, despite some internal conflict he does the honourable thing.   In meeting Catelyn’s sister, his manner is perhaps a bit too brash, given that this new character comes across as slightly unhinged.   One of the ickiest moments to date in the series has to be a mother breast-feeding her five- or six-year-old child.   This child is also clearly being raised in an unhealthy manner, and as this has not been developed very far, I expect there is a lot more to come on this story thread.

Overall, this episode is perhaps not as exciting as what has gone before, but it does remain gripping.   Never once did boredom become a factor to be considered, and I remain to date a big fan.

3.5 stars out of 5

 

Game of Thrones Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion on IMDB

Game of Thrones Episode 5 preview [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKxOe8sspKM]

Game of Thrones Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen

Synopsis: Tyrion returns to Winterfell on his return from the Night’s Watch and receives a less than cordial welcome.   Snow meets a new recruit to the Night’s Watch, Sam,  whom is a coward and generall unfit for the posting.   A friendship develops between the two, Snow becoming very protective of Sam.   Ned Stark continues his duties as King’s Hand, while trying to determine what exactly got his predecessor killed.   We learn the heritage of the Targaryen family, whilst a power struggle ensues between brother and sister.

I am struggling at this stage, in giving a review for every episode on a number of different television series, to find new ways of saying the same thing.   As with Crownies, Game of Thrones moves from strength to strength, slowly teasing out more details in the back story of this realm while a fascinating plot in current events evolves.   Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things continues this trend, delivering another very strong episode that answers a few questions while simultaneously building intrigue and interest in the individual story threads.

I am personally enjoying the addition of new character Sam.   On the surface he seems rather worthless, and more of a hinderance than a true acquisition for the Night’s Watch.   He has a fascinating back story however, one which induces great sympathy for the character.   If he does seem to have a potential quality, it is that of a loyal friend, so it will be interesting to see if his character evolves like another rotund sheepish Sam from another popular franchise.

We see little of Winterfell this episode, though some effort is made to show Bran in his morbid mood as a result of now being crippled.   Tyrion shows him a kindness by providing him designs for a saddle such that he may ride despite his condition.   His welcome is not very hospitable though, as Stark’s eldest is currently Lord of Winterfell, and as such understandably wary of the actions of a Lannister.   Tyrion’s actions are respectable however, and it remains difficult to associate him with the devilry of his brother and sister, despite the fact that the evidence currently indicates he was the one to employ Bran’s assassin.

Politics also becomes prominent in this episode, as Stark faces the challenges of his role, as well as learning how there are few he can trust in this role of honour.   As such, in trying to elicit his predecessor’s action, and as such to determine why he may have been killed, shall earn him some scrutiny that may prove dangerous.   There are hints within this episode as to what the truth may be, and they could potentially have far-reaching repercussions.

The Targaryens get a stronger focus this episode, as we learn their traditions concerning their heritage imparted by dragon folklore.   Viserys has a fairly inflated opinion oh himself, hinting there may be dragon blood in his veins.   In some circles he is referred to as the last dragon.   This belief clearly makes him arrogant and conceited.   He disrespect the Dothraki and their traditions, whilst his sister embraces these and finds inner strength through them,   Hence the power struggle that begins between them, and comes with a positive female empowerment moment that had me literally cheering at one point.

Episode 5 airs on Foxtel tonight.   It should be another cracker!


Game of Thrones Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things on IMDB

Game of Thrones Episode 4 preview [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxUvP57GBwI]

Game of Thrones Episode 3 – Lord Snow

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington, Aiden Gillen

Synopsis:   Bran is awake, though as a result of his fall he is now crippled.   He also has no memory of the events that led to his fall.   Regardless, Jaime is determined to ensure he never speaks of these matters, even though Cersei is less inclined to act.   Ned takes up his post as King’s Hand, finding the realm in excessive debt.   Matters are not helped by the fact that Catelyn is also in Kings Landing on a mission to identify Bran’s would-be assassin.   Jon Snow starts training with his less privileged colleagues before he can join the forces of the Night’s Watch.

As I mentioned in my last post there has been a lot happening over the last weekend, so I apologise for the delay in getting this review up.   In a way, it is also unfair to this episode of Game of Thrones, as each passing episode reveals more of the fascinating history of this fictional world.

Ned Stark remains of course the largest focus of the series.  Now at Kings Landing, he has his first meeting with the masters of the realm to decide matters of state.   Stark finds that Baratheon has been responsible for generating a massive debt, and puts a halt on some more frivolous spending activities.   He is distracted to find Catelyn has also made her way to Kings Landing in search of the person whom hired Bran’s assassin.   She gets assistance from Petyr Baelish (Gillen), one of her former suitors whom hides her in his house of ill repute.   Stark of course is perturbed by this, but Baelish does provide vital information as to the owner of the knife which was in the assassin’s possession.   Stark’s remaining storyline within this episode concerns his relationship with tomboy daughter Arya.   I found this a delightful element of the story, as he accepts her for whom she is, and even arranges for her to have instruction in sword play, as is her desire.   These storylines cover the breadth of roles Star must face, in profession, as a husband, and as a father.   Bean imbues Stark with an understated but powerful dignity in each role, and is amazing to watch.

With all this focus on Stark, less focus is spent on the Lannisters in this episode, but what is included is quite powerful stuff.   We learn that young Joffrey, in addition to be a spoilt brat, is of a naturally vindictive and cruel nature.   A true Lannister then.   His ambitions to rule are well entrenched, and the indications he would be quite the tyrant if so are very clear.   He is in sharp contrast to Lord Snow, whom now has reached the wall and is in training for the Night’s Watch.   His privileged upbringing results in him being the recent recruit with the highest level of skill, making him a detested target by his colleagues.   It is in this process that his friendship with Tyrion once again comes to the fore.   I find the chemistry of these two quite fascinating.   In their own ways, they are both outcasts, and they relate to each other on this level.   Whereas Snow is honest to a fault however, it seems Tyrion has his own agenda, which as yet remains clouded.

All the story elements I have referred to so far are pieces of a great intricate puzzle that remains interconnected.   It is the as yet less connected segment concerning the Targaryens and their alliance with Khal Drogo that enthralls me the most to date.   The story itself is interesting, yet I find myself more fascinated with each episode by the character of Daenerys.   with each episode the girl who was a pawn is gaining confidence, and in the process gaining power.   In fact, in this episode her power now exceeds that of her brother, Drogo’s clan ready to jump to the defence of their new Khaleesi.   Emilia Clarke’s performance is perhaps what makes it.   She is a person of slight build, and when she was just being swept along with her brothers plans that frailty matched the characters situation.   Now she is gaining power, and Clarke was wise enough to not overplay this growing strength.   If anything, all she has changed in her performance is to play the character as more relaxed.   As such, she is still rail, but the level to which she remains unaffected now by events around her gives her a unique appearance of power.   It is truly a great performance.

The pacing of the series is picking up with each episode, and it is easy to see that it has not yet hit full stride.   The scripting as such is clearly building to a cracking season finale, and that is still another six episodes away.   I know I will be sticking around until the end.

4 stars out of 5.

 

Game of Thrones Episode 3 – Lord Snow on IMDB

Game of Thrones Episode 3 preview [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSxODw7y1AE]

 

Game of Thrones Episode 2 – The Kingsroad

Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Cast: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Jason Momoa, Kit Harrington

Synopsis: The intrigue in this interesting series deepens.  Bran, Stark’s son, remains unconscious after Jamie Lannister’s attack.   His mother Catelyn remains by his bedside, while the Lannisters plot to confirm his death, fearing that he will reveal what he knows if he wakes.   Meanwhile, Stark leaves with Baratheon on the way to Kings Landing, to take up his new post.   Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow leaves with them to join the Night’s Watch.   Meanwhile, the Targaryen’s begin on their way to declare war against Baratheon.

I queried whether this series could step up and on the promise that was made by the intrigue of the opening episode.   It is with delight that I feel it is already to do so in only its second episode.   Some of the links between story lines that I only guessed at previously were clarified, and by the episode’s end I could not believe that the episode was already over.   As it turns out, it is shorter by about 6 minutes, but the difference I perceived can more likely be concluded to be due to being drawn much more deeply into the plot.

We learn how involved the Lannisters have been in establishing and manipulating the current monarchy, Jaime himself having disposed of the previous king (Targaryen’s father), and how his sister is now married to the man who replaced him.   We learn her son Joffrey (whom suspiciously to me looks all Lannister without a hint of Baratheon now) is just as corrupt of spirit as his mother appears to be in seeking retribution for an insult which he brought upon himself.   Overall, this is a family that is very well-played, and very easy to dislike, which in this case is perfect for dramatic purposes.

The Lannister to count as an exception is dwarf Tyrion.   He travels to the wall with Snow as he goes to join the Night’s Watch.   Tyrion’s motives are as yet cloudy.   The interplay between these two characters is brilliant, building upon seeds that were established in the previous episode.   Tyrion is clearly a character of great intellect, and it is unclear how well his personal goals move in parallel to that of the rest of his family.   Peter Dinklage almost steals every single scene he is in.

The as yet separate storyline of the Targaryens does not get much screen time in this episode, and most of what there is features Daenerys, wonderfully played by Clarke.   The character last episode and at the beginning of this one seems a creature that has no control over her own fate, subject to the ambition of her brother and the lust of her new husband.   In her own way however, she takes the hand she is dealt and plays it with a quiet courage, and in her own way takes back some ownership of her own life, and to a degree also gains some control in her marriage.   It is a subtle storyline, despite being filled with the ubiquitous HBO sex scenes, however I use the term subtle given that great character moments are established in these scenes.

As with the last episode, this one ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.   Next Sunday cannot come quickly enough.

4 stars out of 5

 

Game of Thrones – The Kingsroad on IMDB

Game of Thrones – The Kingsroad advertisement [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1WjL7YWL14]