Disney Plus/Marvel Series Roundup: Part 1

Hello there, and I wish you all the happiest of holidays. So earlier this autumn I finally got on board with the Disney+ streaming service. On a quick note, I’m a big fan, as it has plenty of interesting film and tv, and I find it to be easy to navigate. Anyhow, as was expected/announced, D+ would be home to a bunch of new original content based on the company’s various IPs. Among these would of course be a bunch of shows connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, since there were so many released, with many more to come, I didn’t feel like making individual posts for each one. So instead, I’ll be doing a bundle post similar to what I did for “The Fable” and “Along with the Gods“, making one of these when I’ve gotten through say four of these. Oh, and I guess spoilers. Not for the shows themselves, but rather for what’s come before in the MCU, as their connectivity drives a lot of the setups for these shows. So yeah, Marvel movie spoilers abound. But if you’re caught up or simply don’t give a hoot, then let’s get into these shows!

WandaVision

Following the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”, superpowered beings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) have settled into a nice, quiet existence in suburban America, living happily married in a… sitcom styled life? But this happy life starts getting disrupted when strange things start happening around them. “WandaVision” was the first show to be released in this new slate of Marvel TV content, and I would say it kicks things off with an absolute bang. While the first episode being more “I Love Lucy” rather than “Avengers” might be a bit of an odd situation at first, I found it to be quite refreshing, both parodying and embracing sitcom tropes of various eras while mixing in superpowers in cute and funny ways. But as mentioned, they start weaving in mystery sci-fi elements, which adds a little bit of an “X-Files” vibe to it. And the show balances the goofs with the intrigue wonderfully, creating an atmosphere all its own within the MCU, making for some highly engaging TV. Add on some pitch perfect performances from Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, and various other supporting actors, and it kept me engrossed from start to end… for the most part.
While I do love the initial episodes and what they do, the back end, while not terrible, does lose some steam for me when they start going more for the typical VFX heavy superhero finale type stuff. It’s still pretty fun, but it just doesn’t feel a strong or creative as what came before. On a more positive note, it does add some fun mythology to the overarching Marvel story, and the action itself is pretty fun, and there is even a bit of drama in those parts that hit me pretty hard.
So yeah, excellent first half, really good second. It’s a damn good way to kick off this new slate of Marvel content. 9/10.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Following on from the events of “Endgame”, the world is without a Captain America, and both Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are trying to find ways of moving on with their lives. But as they try to deal with their own personal issues and past demons, the odd couple are forced to team up when a group of seemingly enhanced beings start wreaking havoc in the world. This show builds on a lot from what the Russo bros did with both their “Captain America” sequels, trying to imbue the usual superhero adventuring with somewhat of a political thriller edge. Like Tom Clancy stories but with more quips and people getting flung around. And while I don’t think the show is quite on par with the “Cap” movies, I still enjoyed where the story went. A globetrotting adventure trying to deal with the morality of vigilantism and if it’s possible to move on from what you’ve done, a story of legacy, of potential redemption and evolution. And while I don’t think it’s perfect, and I do have to question if this shouldn’t have been a movie instead, I had a lot of fun with it. I liked that they tried to discuss some heavier themes while also giving us our superhero action, I like the way it gave these returning characters something to chew on in order to perhaps move on with their lives, I like how it attempts to confront us and the whole superhero thing as a whole. It makes for a fun action-thriller story and it makes for some really compelling character work.
The acting’s also quite good, with the chemistry between Mackie and Stan being quite an engaging thing to watch at all times as we see how they bounce off of each other as their characters’ relationship evolves. Newcomers to this universe like Wyatt Russell and Erin Kellyman make for fun additions, and the familiar guest stars round out the cast nicely as well.
I very much also like the action scenes in this. While the pew pew laser stuff of other Marvel flicks can be fun, I highly enjoy the relatively stripped back approach. Yes, it’s still big, superpowered showdowns, chases, and whatnot, but there are no shiny beams or plasma or magic for once. It’s a little refreshing.
So it stumbles a little bit in storytelling, and maybe it’s a little longer than it needed to be (coulda been a movie), but otherwise it’s a fun show. 8/10.

Loki season 1

After a little mishap involving the Avengers time traveling, a dropped magical space cube, and no one looking at him, an alternate timeline version of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) finds himself escaping capture… only to get captured by someone else, this time by the TVA, a mysterious organization maintaining order in the the various timelines of the multiverse. So we follow Loki as he is brought by the TVA to help them stop a mysterious ne’er-do-well, or face eradication. A bit like “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” before it, I am not 100% certain this fit in this TV format, it almost feels a little dragged out at times. Otherwise, I had a blast with it. I loved seeing Loki hopping through time, I loved seeing how the TVA operates, I loved seeing Multiversal shenanigans, and I loved Tom Hiddleston getting to have a bit of fun. Not that he hadn’t had the chance before, the man has always been great as Loki, but since he’s THE main player in this series, he gets to stretch out a bit more and do way more silly antics than before, and it’s so clear that he revels in every second. But we also get to see more sides to him, he’s explored in really enjoyable ways. And as a fan of wacky sci-fi concepts, I was pleased to see so many different ones here, all used in ways that were either intriguing, exciting, or outright funny. Action’s also pretty good, solid mix of martial arts, VFX, and general creativity.
This also sports one of, if not the best supporting cast of all these shows so far, from people like Owen Wilson, Gugu M’batha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Sophia Di Martino, Tara Strong, and various other very talented people. Everyone gets room to play, and everyone contributes something fun and compelling to proceedings.
And now for the best part of the show: The music. It was composed by Natalie Holt, and it is absolutely incredible. A strange, operatic mix of influences, from the usual superhero stuff, to classic fantasy, to really old sci-fi/horror, there’s a lot of ground covered. Brass, strings, piano, theremins(!), fucking MOOG synths, Holt plays around a lot with her music, and it makes for probably my favorite Marvel score. it’s so god damn good. Even if you don’t watch the show, do me/yourself a favor and check out the music at least.
A little long maybe, but otherwise season 1 of “Loki” is a really fun sci-fi series that truly opens the MCU up to the multiverse in really intriguing ways. Also, you did indeed read it right, season 1. So far it’s the only mainline/live action D+/Marvel series to get more than one season. So it’ll be interesting to see where they take it. 8/10.

Hawkeye

Jingle bells, New York smells, Hawkeye got a shoooooow. But yeah, this show follows Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) as he might have to put his christmas celebration on hold when a young. bold woman named Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) gets involved/chased by some bad dudes, all while his past mistakes come back to haunt him. I am slowly but surely running out of ways to say “I like this show”. It’s even harder now since “Hawkeye” almost never does anything too unique. The “I’ll be late for christmas” trope, the “I did some bad shit, and now it’s coming back to bite me in the ass” stuff, the “youngling idolizing a supposed hero” trope, it does a lot of very familiar stuff. Arguably it does them all quite well, and it’s fun to see those events unfold, but there’s not much to mention about the story. Where it’s strong as hell however is in the characters. This is the most depth we’ve gotten from Clint in all of the MCU, and I finally find him really compelling now that he’s gotten space to play. And his relationship to the young Kate is fun too, with the two sharing some really fun bits of character development. I’m also happy to say that I loved Renner and Steinfeld together, they are a lot of fun and share some wonderful chemistry. Supporting cast is great too, with everyone from Vera Farmiga, Tony Dalton (MVP), Fra Fee, Alaqua Cox, Linda Cardellini, and more delivering stellar work.
Action’s well handled, the score is enjoyable, and I love the warm christmas vibes it brings. Not much else to be said. “Hawkeye” is a fun action show. 8/10.

So on the whole, I very much enjoyed all of these. If I had to rank them, it’d probably be
“Wandavision”
“Loki”
“Falcon”
“Hawkeye”
But overall, I like all of these. They’re fun.
Have a good one and happy holidays.

Along with the Gods: The Two Movies

Hi there. So this won’t be a typical review style post of mine (though it shares minor aspects of those). Instead it’ll be more like my post on the Fable movies (AHEM AHEM), loosely rambling about them in a bundled post. I should mention that both movies will from here on out simply be referred to by their subtitle, as it’d be too long and clunky to use the full title each time. So anyhow… let’s go.

The Two Worlds

After perishing in the line of duty, a firefighter (Cha Tae-Hyun) finds himself in the company of three spirit guides (Ha Jung-woo, Ju Ji-Hoon, Kim Hyang-gi) who have been tasked with guiding him through the afterlife in order for him to potentially earn the right to reincarnate. Based on a webtoon by Ju Ho-min, “The Two Worlds” is an interesting blend of inspirations and tones. Most noticeably, it uses Buddhist philosophy as a springboard to tell an interesting and really fun fantasy adventure story, a morality tale that also happens to have some really fun VFX-driven action and colorful characters. Taking us through visually distinct environments to tell a nuanced fantasy story.
As we follow the firefighter’s journey through the afterlife, we get to know him more and more, seeing what led him to the initial incident. We see why he does what he does, we get to know the deepest inner workings of his soul, and finding out just how complex even the most seemingly good people are. And the way that affects the events of the movie, the ways his guides have to assist him, it makes for some compelling drama and some surprising suspense. So when we get to the climactic trials that are crucial in determining his fate, it put me on the edge of my seat, and also may have caused the waterworks to begin operating. Because while someone might come to this for the spectacular VFX, fun action scenes, or extremely good looking cast, soon enough they’ll also find that this movie has a strong emotional core as well. I am not ashamed in admitting that this movie made me cry. It’s one of those flashy action flicks that also happens to have some truly compelling characters and drama. But it can also be quite funny at times, especially with the quips and general demeanor of Ju Ji-Hoon as the delightful Haewonmaek.
What else is there to say? It’s a big popcorn flick with a great story, plenty of heart, a wonderful cast of characters, and some mesmerizing visuals. I loved it.

The Last 49 Days

Released a year later, “The Last 49 Days” sees our favorite spirit guides as they take on the task of helping a new soul towards reincarnation, all while also trying their damndest in trying to retrieve a fellow guardian (Ma Dong-seok) who’s been living on Earth for a long time. “The Last 49 Days” is once again a blend of things. Fantasy action, historical epic, domestic dramedy, and I think all these individual pieces are great… but together they don’t flow super well. I get that you need all the bits together to tell the complete story, take one piece out and the tower comes crashing down, but there is a whole lotta movie to this movie. And I’m not just talking about runtime, as it’s really only like 5 minutes longer than the first one, but rather it’s how much is crammed into it. There’s an exhausting amount of narrative threads going on at any one time, and while I found all of them pretty compelling on their own, their flow is just almost non-existent. It’s especially horrid near the middle of the movie, where things really begin to drag. You know that deep sigh you make when you’re bored? Yeah, that happened here. It’s just an exhausting drag at times.
So while the story is a mess, the characters do get some really interesting extra depth, which also leads to the actors getting more to chew on. The cast was great in the first one, but they really get to flex their acting chops here, and I think they give terrific performances here. And it’s just nice to have Ma Dong-seok be part of proceedings, the man just slots in flawlessly and brings such a unique charisma.
Action scenes are once again a lot of fun, not quite as flashy as what we saw in the first one, but definitely still highly enjoyable. Effects are still top notch (bar one or two obvious green screens), costumes and makeup are solid, and there’s some really fun cuts and transitions spread throughout. It’s just stellar on a technical level.
So while nowhere near as strong as its predecessor, I can’t say that I disliked “The Last 49 Days”. It still has some great stuff to it. If the first one’s a strong 9/10 for me, then this is maybe a weak 7/10. Hurt by its poor pacing, but still has a lot to admire.

So yeah, I watched and generally liked the “Along with the Gods” movies. Basically if you like big spectacle with plenty of heart and don’t mind reading subtitles, then I can easily recommend them. And apparently there’s a third and fourth one coming at some point… so I’ll be cautiously looking forward to those.

Have a good one.

Some British TV Shows That I Like

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Oh hey there, how are you? I hope you’re doing well. Anyhow, I realized it’d been a while since I did some list-based content on this here blog. So I thought, “Why not make a list of stuff for once?”. And as I racked my brain for a topic to cover, it finally hit me… like a tea kettle dropped from a balcony. I talk a lot on this blog about how I love British TV, but besides regular reviews, I’ve never gone out of my way to just list a bunch of personal favorites… so I guess I could do that.

Let it be known that these are in no particular order. These are just various titles that I have a personal fondness for that I wanted to shout out. Who knows, maybe you’ll check out one or two you hadn’t heard of before. So let’s get into it.

Line of Duty (2012-2021)

This show follows the members of AC-12, an anti-corruption unit within the UK police, as they solve cases of potential corruption. If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’d already know that this is a show I LOVE. Gripping personal drama, intense thriller narratives that put me so far on the edge of my seat that I started floating in the air, and amazing performances make this one of my favorite shows. We’re talking top 10 of all time here.

Friday Night Dinner (2011-2020)

“Friday Night Dinner” is a comedy series about the Goodman family as they meet every Friday for dinner. However, what should just be a nice, quiet family dinner quickly turns into chaos in one form of another. From their own bickering, to enigmatic neighbors, to crazy relatives, there is never a quiet Friday in the Goodman house. I only started watching this one a few years back after asking some friends about it, and boy, am I glad I did. It’s a deliriously funny, brilliantly performed, and endlessly watchable comedy that just clicked with me from the get-go. MVP in this series is Paul Ritter (may he rest in peace) as Martin, the oddball patriarch of the family. Just sheer brilliance in every delivery and mannerism. That said, everyone in this show is absolutely superb and I love it.

Shetland (2013-still going)

Based on a series of novels by Ann Cleaves, “Shetland” is about DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) as he, along with his colleagues, solve murders on Shetland, all while also dealing with their own personal drama from time to time. Does this at the offset sound like every police show ever? Yes, kinda. But “Shetland” manages to stand out thanks to its well-rounded characters, relatively unique setting, engaging plotlines, and spectacular cast. It’s just one of the better police dramas available at the moment.

Fawlty Towers (1975-1979)

Of course I had to include this show. The 12 episodes comedy series about hotel owner Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) and his employees is a classic that goes on reruns over and over, and for good reason. Nearly 50 years since its inception, and it’s still making people (myself included) laugh. Don’t think I need to explain much more why this is here.

Peaky Blinders (2013-2022)

Much like with “Line of Duty” before it, if you’ve followed me for an extended period of time, then you’d know about my affection for this show. A gangster drama set in  early 1900s Birmingham, following Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his family as they try to stay afloat amid political evolution and gang uprisings. Unpredictable, suspenseful, emotionally rich, masterfully performed, stunningly shot… what else do I need to say? It’s one of the most popular dramas of the last decade. If you’re one of the four people who somehow haven’t seen it yet… then what are you doing? GO!

Black Books (2000-2004)

“Black Books” follows Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), a drunken, cynical man who runs a bookshop. And we get to see how he, his employee Manny (Bill Bailey), and his “friend” Fran (Tamsin Greig) get into various misadventures. Now, it’s been a few years since last I watched this, but I still have such fond memories of “Black Books”, so I just had to mention it here. It’s a really funny comedy series about some people who aren’t very good.

Primeval (2007-2011)

Oh hey look, it’s Douglas Henshall again! Anyhow, “Primeval” is a sci-fi series about strange time portals (known in the show as anomalies) opening across the UK, unleashing all sorts of  prehistoric (and future) creatures, leading to Professor Nick Cutter (Henshall) along with his team having to capture these creatures and bring ’em back to their own time. I caught this on a random whim, just flipping through channels years ago, and being a lover of both sci-fi AND dinosaurs, of course I got instantly hooked. Revisiting a few years later, and I still really liked it. It’s a fun adventure series with a great cast, fun time travel adventures, surprisingly good CG for a mid-to-late 2000s tv show, and, as previously mentioned… dinosaurs. Really can’t wait to revisit this.

Endeavour (2012-still going)

Set in the 1960s, the show follows Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) as he, along with his partner Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), solve various murders in and around Oxford. History lesson: Once upon a time there was a tv show called “Inspector Morse”, and this is a prequel to that. And while I never watched that original series, I can still say that I love “Endeavour”. Each episode is a sprawling 90 minute narrative, showing Morse, Thursday, and the other people in their department working tirelessly to solve the various crimes, all while they have to deal with their own personal situations. “Endeavour” is another one of those police dramas that manages to somehow be a cut above the rest, partly due to the intricate plots, but mainly due to the absolutely phenomenal cast. There’s not a weak link here, and it leads to a lot of spectacular performances that elevate the already solid writing.

Pointless (2009-still going)

Up until this point we’ve basically only talked about scripted television, so I thought we’d wrap up this post with something a bit different. “Pointless” is a game show hosted by Alexander Armstrong and, up until recently, Richard Osman, and is all about contestants trying to score as few points as possible by finding the most obscure answer in questions polled from 100 people. These questions can range from all sorts of topics, including films, music, geography, food, and fucking anything. It’s entertaining to watch for a few different reasons. First off, I love quiz shows, as I can sort of get involved from the safety of my own home to test my knowledge. But then there’s also the angle of trying to guess which of the answers might have the lowest score to it, partly due to my love of puzzles in general, but also because UK people are really unpredictable in their knowledge, often leading to frankly baffling results. But another reason why I love it are the two hosts, Armstrong and Osman, they are an absolute delight together, which makes it a shame that Osman has decided to step away from the show (though I respect his decision and wish him the best). Either way, “Pointless” is super fun to watch.

So those were some British shows that I love. I don’t know what else to say, I had fun talking about positive things for a bit… felt nice.
Anyhow, have a good one.

Guest Post: Women Led Horror

Hey there, hope you’re doing well. So once again, I will be taking a bit of a backseat on a post. Because for the second time ever, we have a special guest giving us a little treat. And wouldn’t you know, it’s none other than my good friend Mary, who recently wrote another great piece for us. So without further ado, let’s see what Mary has to say about female-driven horror movies. Take it away, Mary!

When it comes to horror movies, it’s fair to say that female characters often get the shite end of the stick. Paraded around in skimpy outfits; tripping over tree branches whilst being pursued by the movie monster; sexual activity rewarded with being the first to die … These movie tropes are deeply ingrained and highly condescending. And whilst they still haven’t completely disappeared, there are plenty of alternatives. Narratives where women are strong, logical protagonists or well fleshed out villains are becoming easier to find. They are there to do so much more than scream and flee.

So, who laid the groundwork and who is benefitting? Traces of which 60s and 70s classics can be found in which contemporary movies? Here are some of all the most iconic performances from women in horror movies.

Rosemary’s Boby (1968)

Carrie (1976)

The image of Sissy Spacek, drenched in blood has to be one of the most iconic of horror cinema. She gives a phenomenal performance here as the titular character – a social outcast and a victim of her mother’s religious fervour. It’s a performance that requires a lot of credibility – telekinesis has been used rather ropily before and since – but Spacek is commanding yet vulnerable.

Suspiria (1977)

Garishly nightmarish, the original Dario Argento movie is a giallo classic. Jessica Harper gives an impressive performance as the ballet dancer, Suzy Bannion, who quickly realises that all is not quite right with her new dance school. Despite disorientating colourscapes and the Goblin soundtrack, her performance does not get lost in amongst it all. She is determined to be believed …

Alien (1979)

It’s no secret that the character of Ripley was written as a man, which is perhaps why Sigourney Weaver’s take on the role is so important. She’s not softened or “feminised” in any way. Instead, she’s quietly commanding, physically capable and intellectually three steps ahead of her colleagues. She is perhaps the most memorable “last woman standing”.

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Freddie Kruger – a horror icon himself – is busy invading the dreams of small town teenagers and picking them off, one by one, in this Halloween classic. However, he and his knives are no match for Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp.  Director Wes Craven has acknowledged that he wanted a cliché-free, progressive female lead.

Misery (1990)

From hero to villain, now, as Kathy Bates takes on James Caan in this Stephen King adaptation. Despite presenting as a mousy, introverted middle aged woman, Annie Wilkes is one of the most terrifying female villains. Bates turns on the charm – and the scares – at the drop of a hat and it is this duality that makes her so scary.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Yes, Anthony Hopkins is the consummate movie maniac here, but it is Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling who deserves all the plaudits here. A rookie FBI investigator, she holds her nerve when faced with Hannibal the Cannibal. It’s all about the power dynamic here and Foster gives a convincingly reassured performance.

Scream (1996)

Whilst everyone was talking about – and buying – those ghoulish white masks, it is Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott who stands out in Scream. She is another well-written, multi-dimensional female lead with vulnerabilities and strengths. She even mocks the masked killer with comments as to how scary movies are always about screaming women running the wrong way from their pursuers.

Audition (1999)

You could be forgiven – on first watch – for thinking that the villain of the piece was the sleazy Shigeharu Aoyama, the man who is literally auditioning girls to be his new wife. That is, until you see that garbage bag move … Eihi Shiina gives a truly fascinating performance as the seemingly sweet but ultimately twisted as fuck Asami Yamazaki.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

This irresistibly shot Iranian movie centres around a female vampire, played by Sheila Vand, who is picking off deviant male victims one by one. So not only is this movie beautiful to look at, it also has a strong feminist message and female lead. Vand gives a thoroughly engaging performance, with so much being conveyed through a look or her physicality.

Midsommar (2019)

Florence Pugh’s Dani is both victim and victor in Ari Aster’s movie. She starts the film suffering emotional trauma and being gaslit by her douchebag boyfriend. Pugh really draws you in to her character – it’s an incredibly physical and demanding performance – so that by the time that enigmatic little smile crosses her face, you’ll be fully onside. But should you be?

Written by Mary Palmer

My Favorite Albums of 2020

Hello there. I hope you’re doing well (unless you’re a racist piece of shit, then off you fuck). We have reached that time of year again. The time where I share my terrible opinions on a bunch of music. That’s right, once again I will share my favorite albums of the year that just ended. But before we begin, let’s lay down some ground rules.

Rule number 1: Let’s all be kind here. This is my list, my opinions, and I hope you can respect them. If you don’t agree with any of them, that’s fine. Just don’t be a dick about it in the comments section.

Rule number 2: I will not be including any greatest hits albums, as that’d just be cheating for very obvious reasons. Only albums of previously unreleased material.

Rule number 3: No soundtracks/scores from movies/tv/games for similar reasons as rule number 2. This is strictly a list of regular albums released by bands/artists.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my favorite albums of 2020!

Number 11: Gangstagrass – No Time For Enemies (Sample: Nickel And Dime Blues)

Kicking it off with number 11 we have the latest release from eclectic music project Gangstagrass. For the uninitiated, Gangstagrass is a group that mixes bluegrass with hiphop. I’ve been a fan of them for a few years, and I was super excited to see them release some new material. And it’s really solid. It’s fun, but it also has some deeper meaning with a few of its tracks. It’s just good stuff.

Number 10: Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor (Sample: Simmer)

At number 10 is the first ever solo release from Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams. It’s very clear from the offset that this is a very raw and personal project for Williams, which brings us an album that is manages to both entertain as a general music experience, while also giving off a bit of a somber, introspective vibe at times. And that makes for a really interesting listening experience that I’d certainly recommend.

Number 9: Neil Young – Homegrown (Sample: Separate Ways)

Next up on the list is the latest release form none other than Neil Young (more like Neil Old, am I right?). And much like “Hitchhiker” in 2017, this album was actually recorded way back in the 70s, but has remained in the archives since then… until 2020 that is. And while not as terrific as the aforementioned “Hitchhiker”, there is no denying just how good Young is as a songwriter. You can tell that he was going through some stuff at the time, which translated itself a little into the songs themselves. And it makes for a really solid album.

Number 8: Blue Öyster Cult – The Symbol Remains (Sample: That Was Me)

Speaking of old people releasing new albums, Blue Öyster Cult’s back. 19 years after their last studio release, the band has come out with “The Symbol Remains”. And despite that long time between albums, it’s clear that these gents have lost none of their skill. What you get here is a healthy mix of the Cult’s older style, with some more modern influences sown throughout, making for a sound that shows the band’s ability to evolve without sacrificing what makes them unique and interesting. And I love that.

Number 7: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Pressure (Sample: Pressure)

Coming in at 7th place is “Pressure”, the latest release from American hard rock act Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. Crunchy guitars, scratchy vocals, ear-meltingly good solos, and some nice, driving percussion. It’s everything you could ask for in a good hard rock release.

Number 6: Alastair Greene – The New World Blues (Sample: Lies and Fear)

Ending the back half of this list is American blues rocker Alastair Greene’s latest release. And let me tell you, if you love blues rock as much as I do, then you’re in for a treat with this. What you get are some fun and frankly interesting lyrics, sung by someone with a really good blues voice. And as the cherry on top you get some absolutely excellent guitar work that is an absolute joy to listen to. It’s a damn good album.

Number 5: Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea (Sample: Royal Tea)

Speaking of feelin’ the blues… Smokin’ Joe is back with another album. And once again he has managed to make his way onto a best of the year list. Is it possible that I might be a bit of a Bonamassa fanboy? Yes. But that’s also the beauty of this blog… I can let my fanboyisms fly, and no one can stop me. But in all seriousness, Bonamassa is an excellent musician whose craft improves with every new album he releases. And “Royal Tea” is further proof of that, bringing us more of the uniquely interesting lyrics/vocals and ear-melting guitar work I’ve come to expect from him.

Number 4: Deep Purple – Whoosh! (Sample: The Power of the Moon)

I’ll be honest, after 2017’s “Infinite”, I wasn’t sure if Deep Purple would make another album. But 2020 proved me fucking wrong with the release of “Whoosh!” (that’s a fun title). Do you like Deep Purple? Then you’re gonna fucking like “Whoosh!”. It has a lot of the staples we’ve come to expect from them in terms of style, just done to absolute perfection. Ian Gillan’s vocals are still top notch, there’s still good guitar work, and the heavy synth is still as fun as ever. Will this album be listed as a classic along “Machine Head” or “In Rock”? Only time will tell. But in this moment I can at least say without a doubt that it’s a fucking great album. A fucking great album called “Whoosh!”.

Number 3: Run the Jewels – RTJ4 (Sample: Ooh LA LA)

Taking the bronze on this list is the latest album from rap duo Run the Jewels. What’s extra fascinating about it is that they released the album for free on their website before the actual release date, as a gift in the harsh times of 2020. And that’s a cool fucking gesture on their part. And the album itself is great (its inclusion here shoulda been a dead giveaway), featuring plenty of great flows, lyrics with plenty of meaning, and a lot of fun beats. There’s also plenty of interesting guest appearances throughout that adds a lot to it. It’s just a top tier rap album, man.

Number 2: Sepultura – Quadra (Sample: Isolation)

I’ll be honest, for years I couldn’t get into Sepultura. I don’t know why, but for some reason I had a hard time seeing the appeal. But in recent years I have started coming around to them. And the latest album from the Brazilian metal band is some excellent stuff. It hearkens back to a lot of mid to late 80s thrash, while also featuring elements of death metal and even some traditional Brazilian music. And it makes for one of the most electrifying listening experiences I had in 2020.

NUMBER 1: Blues Pills – Holy Moly! (Sample: Kiss My Past Goodbye)

Here we are, friends. The final one. The gold medalist. El queso grande. My favorite album of 2020 is “Holy Moly!”, the latest release from Swedish psychdelic blues rock band Blues Pills. I stumbled upon one of their songs around two years ago, loving it. So I checked out a few more songs, loving those. Which had me eagerly anticipating whatever they’d release next. Cut to 2020 and “Holy Moly!” hits stores and streaming and wherever else their music can be found. And right from that first listen, I fell in love. This album is fun, funky, and absolutely electrifying. It’s simply fantastic.

So those were my favorite albums of 2020. And whether you agree with my picks or not, I hope you enjoyed reading through that. Maybe you even discovered a new favorite? Anyhow, if you have any favorite album from 2020, feel free to mention it in the comments.

Have a good one.

My Favorite Albums of 2019

Well howdy there, ladies and gents, I hope you’re all doing great. It’s that time of year again. That time when I go over my favorite albums from the year that’s recently passed. It’s a yearly tradition on this blog, and I have no intention of stopping it yet. So, let’s go over some rules first.

Rule 1: Please keep it civil. These are my picks. If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine. If you want to have a discussion about good music from last year, then I’m very much open to it. All I ask is that you keep it civil. Be kind and respectful.

Rule 2: No movie soundtracks/scores. I love listen to movie music, but if I included any of those albums, this list would go on for days, and no one has time or patience for that.

Rule 3: No “Greatest Hits” albums. I think that explains itself, no compilations of a band’s best songs. That’d be cheating.

That should about cover it. Now, without further ado.. my favorite albums of 2019!

Number 15: Rival Sons – Feral Roots (Sample: Do Your Worst)

Kicking off the bottom of the list (bottom does not equal bad, just means least awesome) is the latest release from Californian rock band Rival Sons. These dudes have a very old school approach to their style that I appreciate, since good ol’ fashioned hard rock doesn’t dominate the airwaves as much as it once did. So it’s good to hear a band keeping that sound alive. It’s a fun album.

Number 14: Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (Sample: Untethered Angel)

At number 14 we got the latest release from long running  prog-metal band Dream Theater. It’s a slightly more stripped back and focused affair than some of DT’s other releases… but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun, epic, and frankly fun album to listen to. It doesn’t really do much to seem like something new in the band’s discography, but it also doesn’t need to, because it’s still a badass album.

Number 13: Whiskey Myers – Whiskey Myers (Sample: Die Rockin’)

At number 13 we find the latest release from Whiskey Myers, an American country/southern rock band from Texas. I actually discovered them earlier in 2019 when I heard two of their older songs in an episode of “Yellowstone”. Obviously liking what I heard, I of course started checking out the band more (like their previous album/social media). And that’s when I found out they were releasing a new album, which had me interested. And when I listened to it… well, the inclusion of it on this list should be a dead giveaway as to my feelings on it. The band is like a heavier version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I really like that sound, which is why this is on the list.

Number 12: Beth Hart – War in My Mind (Sample: Bad Woman Blues)

Next up we have the new release from American blues singer Beth Hart. In this release, Beth strikes a nice balance between blues, funk, and soul to create a sound that is simply magical. I’ve enjoyed Hart’s music for a few years, and this album doesn’t disappoint at all, it is a blast to listen to.

Number 11: Phil Campbell – Old Lions Still Roar (Sample: Rocking Chair)

Coming in at number 11 we have the solo album debut of former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell. Even with the experience as guitarist in one of the greatest metal bands of all time, you never know how well your solo stuff might turn out. But Campbell (along with his many guest acts) really knocked it out of the park. Some are more stripped back affairs like “Rocking Chair”, but then you also got tracks like “Faith in Fire”. But one thing one notices throughout it all is that Campbell is quite contemplative in his tunes, which makes for a rock album that pleases both poetically and in terms of being fun to listen to.

Number 10: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen (Sample: Bright Horses)

Now we’re getting into the meat and p’taters of this list, the top ten. And kicking off this section is “Ghosteen”, the new release from Australian artist Nick Cave, and his band, The Bad Seeds. It’s a direct follow-up to their previous album, “Skeleton Tree” (which also made it to my best of the year list when it came out). In that album, there were moments where Cave was dealing with the recent death of his son, and Ghosteen is him fully embracing that dark and contemplative process, making for a beautiful and haunting album that, while not something I’d put on at any time, still had a lasting effect on me thanks to its beautiful production, and Cave’s soulful and pained vocals.

Number 9: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Truth and Lies (Sample: Shock & Awe)

At number 9 we have “Truth and Lies”, the new album from blues-inspired hard rock act Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. If you like heavy blues-rock, then this should be right up your alley. I certainly like that sound, and I really like this album, it’s cool.

Number 8: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Sample: Norman fucking Rockwell)

Every year there’s usually at least one album that sneaks onto my list that I didn’t expect in the fucking slightest. And this time, it’s the latest release from American pop singer Lana Del Rey. It’s a soulful and cleverly written album which features Lana discussing some interesting stuff, all while a beautiful strings and piano-based production backs her up. And it’s all great, making for an enjoyable trip that I wouldn’t mind listening to again.

Number 7: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Colorado (Sample: Olden Days)

More like Neil Old, am I right? Joking aside, how the fuck is Neil Young still releasing good music. Sure, his voice isn’t quite what it once was. But the fact that the songwriting still hits me and his voice still conveying every emotion perfectly is testament to his skill. Combine that with his first teamup with Crazy Horse since 2012, and we got a really well produced album that finds Young still knows how to reach into my heart and make me think.

Number 6: Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars (Sample: Western Stars)

From one old legend to another, at number 6 we have the latest release from The Boss himself, Bruce god damn Springsteen. And he hasn’t lost his touch yet, “Western Stars” is a beautiful country/soft rock album that shows Springsteen at his strongest once again. I don’t know what else to say here, Bruce Springsteen making good music shouldn’t really be much of a surprise to anyone.

Number 5: Airbourne – Boneshaker (Sample: Burnout the Nitro)

From nice and soulful, to high octane rock n roll. This was seriously one of, if not my most anticipated album of the year. I am a huge fan of this band and their AC/DC-esque sound. A new Airbourne release is always fun to listen to, because they just make some badass rock n roll. When I first listened to it, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one. I thought it was fine, not making much of an impact. But further listens have made me appreciate it more. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s certainly… a boneshaker.

Number 4: The Highwomen – The Highwomen (Sample: Redesigning Women)

At number 4 we have a self-titled album from all-lady country band The Highwomen. Sound-wise, it’s a classic country sound, showing that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Where it stands out however is in the lyrical department, making some interesting commentary on society and women’s role in it, which I find quite fascinating and engaging, especially when paired with the beautiful country composition.

Number 3: Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance (Sample: Thanks for the Dance)

We’re getting into the nitty-gritty now, y’all. In the bronze position, we find the new release from the late, great Leonard Cohen, which he of course recorded before his passing in 2016. Produced by Cohen’s son, Adam, this is a beautiful, emotionally charged, and soulful experience that sees Cohen at his finest. It’s a nice posthumous send-off for one of the greatest songwriters ever.

Number 2: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rat’s Nest (Sample: Planet B)

Well, this is certainly a leap in genres. In second place is the newest release from Australian rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (possibly the greatest band name ever). And it’s an old school thrash metal album, hearkening back to mid-80s Metallica or Slayer, while still putting in some minor flourishes of their own to make it stand out. And good god damn, I am in love with this album. I only heard it for the first time very recently, and yet it has made quite an impact for me. Partly because of the interesting storytelling concepts throughout the songs, but mainly because I am a big fan of old school thrash metal, and this is one of the finest takes on that genre.

NUMBER 1: Gangstagrass – Pocket Full of Fire (Sample: You Can Never Go Home Again)

In previous years, I’ve had a rule against including live concert albums. But I decided to loosen that rule this year because 1, this my blog (so I can do whatever I want). And 2, I really really really wanted to mention this. What we have here is American hip-hop/bluegrass band (yes, that mix does work) Gangstagrass at various live venues, playing their songs, and making it all sound fantastic. Seriously, these are some of the best and most head-bobbing recordings I’ve heard of these songs. So yeah, my number 1 is technically cheating my own rules, but I also don’t care, because great music transcends everything.

So those were my favorite albums of 2019. But now I’d love to hear from your guys, what are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
Have a good one.

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2020

Well hello there, friends! Hope you’ve all had a great christmas or hanukkah or whatever the fuck you’ve been celebrating. And if you haven’t been celebrating anything, I hope you’ve at least had a good few days. After the nearly non-stop blogging I did with my 12 Films of Christmas series, I decided to take a few days off, rest up my old joints. But you’re only 22. Yes, but I have the ligaments of a geriatric refrigerator. Anyway, so now that we’ve got the holidays over with, let’s look to the future. Specifically, I want to look forward to 2020, and have a look at what movies will be coming out at the start of the new decade. And despite the title, this list isn’t strictly about movies I’m super hyped for. Some are, but for the most part it’s more just “Movies I’m kind of interested in”. But that wouldn’t be as catchy, you know.

But before we get into the meat of the post, let’s set up a few ground rules.

Rule 1: You know those movies that get a somewhat limited release first, and then get more international coverage after the new year? Yeah, we’re not including those. So stuff like “Jojo Rabbit”, “The Farewell”, “Little Women”, etc. won’t be featured on this list. Only movies whose official first release happen in 2020.

Rule 2: Please don’t be an asshole in the comments. This is my list, with my opinions. If you don’t agree with any of my choices, and look forward to other movies, then that’s great… but don’t call me names or be a cunt about it. Be cool, yeah? Feel free to make your own list, let’s have a friendly discussion.

Rule 3: Don’t feed the animals.

So, with that stuff said… here’s a list of 2020 movies I’m looking forward to.

The Gentlemen

First up is “The Gentlemen”, an upcoming crime-comedy-action-thriller from Guy Ritchie. And that’s seriously all you’d need to tell me to get me excited. Ritchie has been in a weird spot for the past decade, doing various weird movies. But now it seems like he’s going back to his crime movie roots, which has me quite excited. Combine that with a stacked cast featuring people like Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, Charlie Hunnam, and so many more… and you have my money like *that*.

Wonder Woman 1984

Next up, a superhero movie. Yeah yeah, some of you are probably tired of superhero stuff and people talking about them, but cut me some slack, I like fun adventure movies, and this’ll probably be such a thing. I was a big fan of the 2017 “Wonder Woman” movie, and since this has the same creative team behind it, I am sure it’ll be at least a good time.

The Invisible Man

A reboot of a classic franchise… and also a horror movie? Two things that usually don’t grab my interest that much. But in recent years I have become more of a horror fan, and I was a fan of the director’s previous movie, “Upgrade”, so I’m interested to see where this goes.

Black Widow

Yes, more superhero stuff. I like superhero stuff. And with Marvel Studios’ track record, I’m expecting this to be a competently made action movie. And this looks like it’ll be a pretty badass spy-thriller/action movie. Plus, it’s nice to finally see this character getting her own movie after being a supporting player in others for so many years.

Last Night in Soho

Two words: Edgar Wright. Seriously, that is all it took to sell me on this movie. I’m a big fan of that director, so I’m gonna be excited for whatever he does. And with this being described as a psychological thriller, I’m extra intrigued to see what the final product could end up being.

Dune

This is one of those I am interested in, while also having my reservations. Yes, the cast is amazing. Yes, the director is amazing. Yes, the source material is really good. But it’s that last part that is what has me a bit careful. “Dune” is such a dense and unique book, which makes me worried how the hell someone go about adapting it. But I guess we’ll see late 2020. Again, still interested thanks to the cast and director.

The King’s Man

I am a big fan of “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, and I don’t mind “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d be excited for the next entry, which apparently is set in World War 1. A fun action movie set during the most depressing war in recent history? Matthew Vaughn, you’re mad, and I love you for it.

Godzilla vs. Kong

Look, I get that the critical reception for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” wasn’t great. But I also don’t care, because I like seeing giant monsters kicking the shit out of each other. And with two of history’s most popular movie monsters going at it for the first time since 1962, it’s quite an exciting time to be a kaiju fan.

Top Gun: Maverick

I’m gonna say it, I’m not a huge fan of the original “Top Gun”. It’s… fine. So why am I excited for its sequel, which inexplicably is coming out 34 years later? Honestly, ’cause it looks kinda badass, and because I want to see Tom “Batshit Crazy” Cruise fly a jet. Yes, he really did that. Fucking madman.

Tenet

And the last one we’re gonna mention in this post is “Tenet”, the new movie from Christopher Nolan. And it seems like it’s gonna be a bit of a mindbending spy-thriller. I will be excited for whatever Nolan does, but the fact that the sentence I just said before got said has me even more hyped. This is my most anticipated movie of 2020.

So that’s a few movies I’m excited for in 2020. Feel free to mention some of yours, I’d love to hear from you.
Have a good one.

Month of Spooks 2019 Roundup

Hiya. It’s November. Take down the fucking christmas decorations, ya dingus. Also, the Month of Spooks ended not too long ago. So let’s talk about the stuff that was posted during it by me and my little spookers.

Let’s start with my stuff since that’s the least interesting.
Shelley Review
Candyman Review
Mulberry Street Review
It Review
The Invitation Review
Evil Dead 2 Review
The Strain Season 1 Review
From Dusk Till Dawn Review
Mimic Review
Dawn of the Dead Review
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust Review
Constantine: City of Demons Review
Cabin in the Woods Review
Case 39 Review
Fortitude Season 2 Review

And now it’s time for the post of my spookers.

The Craggus

First up on the list is The Craggus. This is the fourth year in a row he’s taken part in the Month of Spooks, which makes him the most frequent collaborator of mine. He is also responsible for any and all Month of Spooks graphics you’ve seen used here (like the three at the top of this post). And he has written a few different posts under the Month of Spooks banner this year. From a review on the recently released Countdownto 80s slasher Sleepaway Camp, to Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster. The Cragmeister has given us a whole load of posts, and I’d recommend clicking over to his site to check them out.

Gavin

Next up is Gavin, from filmnstuff. This is his third year doing Month of Spooks. And he’s been able to talk about… films and stuff. And he placed this under his 31 Days of Horror tag, where you can read all his wonderful posts from this year.

Maddy

The third and final spooker I collaborated with this year was the wonderful Maddy, who runs the blog fivethreeninety. And she made two posts that I could class under the Month of Spooks banner. One is a review of the recently released Zombieland: Double TapAnd the other is of romantic spook movie Ghost.

And that’s the Month of Spooks 2019. Huge thanks to the three people who decided to take part in this silly little thing of mine. And huge thanks to anyone who’s read and/or interacted with any posts. The support people show is what keeps me going, and what makes this so much fun. Thank you.
Have a good one.

Quentin Rankantino

Howdy, motherfuckers. Today we’re doing something a little bit differently. Instead of reviewing something, we’re ranking stuff. And by we, I mean me. With the impending release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, I have been rewatching all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. So now that I got that task done, I have decided to rank them, from least favorite, to my top pick. So get your buckets of blood and Samuel L. Jacksons ready as we rank the movies of Quentin Tarantino, in a special post we call… Quentin Rankantino!

Number 9: Death Proof.

Coming in at the bottom is Tarantino’s grindhouse homage, “Death Proof” (fittingly used within the “Grindhouse” double feature). It’s not awful per se, but it’s Tarantula’s weakest movie by a mile. The pacing is wonky, and I don’t exactly find any of the characters particularly interesting. What gives it some points are the action scenes, which are a hard-hitting bit of fun. Also, Kurt fucking Russell… I don’t have much to say there, I just like Kurt Russell.

Number 8: Jackie Brown.

For our number 8 slot we make a huge god damn leap from “not that good” to “that’s really good”. In Toronto’s third movie, based on “Rum Punch” by Elmore Leonard, a stewardess (Pam Grier) gets drawn into a complex crime plot by the ATF. It can feel a bit cluttered at times, affecting the pacing a bit, which is why it finds itself so low on the list. But with that said, thanks to the stellar cast and one hell of a funky soundtrack it still stands out as a damn solid movie in this director’s filmography.

Number 7: Kill Bill Volume 1

Now, I know that Turntable considers “Kill Bill” one movie, but they were released as two, so I rank them as two. Now, I find the story and characterization a bit weak in this one… but it’s still a damn good movie, filled with stylish, batshit insane action and some fun performances.

Number 6: Kill Bill Volume 2

While I’d put both “Assassinate William” movies on the same level in terms of various technicalities, I still do prefer the second one, due to its slower, more character-driven journey. Yes, we do still get some crazy, well handled action, but it’s not quite as much as in the first movie… and that’s okay.

Number 5: The Hateful Eight

Tabernacle’s second western is quite the interesting tale of assholes trying to not kill each other… which is technically how one could describe all his movies to some extent. Hmm. Either way, this 2015 western-drama-thriller may be very slow, but it’s quite the electrifying experience, thanks in large part to the absolutely mesmerizing performances from its core cast. Plus, having a score from maestro Ennio Morricone certainly doesn’t hurt.

Number 4: Pulp Fiction

Oh how many watches am I gonna get shoved up my ass for this placement? That’s right, the fourth place winner is Tacheometer’s sophomore outing, “Pulp Fiction”. Often considered one of the greatest movies ever made (and I can see why), it tells the tale of many assholes and their overlapping stories. And it’s that story that brings it down a bit for me (*”Ironside” siren blares*). It’s fun to watch, but the jumping back and forth, especially between so many stories can make it feel a little, well, jumpy at times, which can every so lightly fuck with the pacing a times. But with the help from an amazing cast, great music, and the ever so fiery dialogue, it manages to still hold up quite well.

Number 3: Django Unchained

A mostly straightforward revenge tale, Tartarology’s “Django Unchained” still manages to entertain across its nearly three hour runtime thanks to a colorful cast, an amazing soundtrack, and some of the most blood-soaked shootouts I have ever fucking seen. It’s a bit of slavery drama mixed with a popcorn bloodbath. What’s not to love?

Number 2: Reservoir Dogs

At the number two slot is where we find Tatterdemalion’s cinematic debut, “Reservoir Dogs”, a heist movie that isn’t really a heist movie. Showing the before and after of a botched diamond robbery, the movie jumps back and forth as we get to know the various characters as they deal with this entire situation. It’s fun, it’s suspenseful, and it’s one of the most impressive debuts I have ever seen.

NUMBER 1: Inglourious Basterds

And we’re finally at the number 1 slot. Numero uno. Top of the pops. My favorite of Tangoreceptor’s movies. “Inglourious Basterds” is a clever piece of historical fiction, showing the stories of various people trying to kill nazis. From a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers, to the British government, to a young woman seeking revenge… everyone is out for nazi blood, and it is one hell of a good time. Dramatic, funny, suspenseful, exciting, it’s everything one could want in a movie from this director. There’s a ton of great stuff within this movie that I don’t have the time (or current willingness) to write about, but all of it comes together wonderfully to make my favorite movie from this director.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite movie from Quantum Turnbuckle? Please tell me, I’d love to hear from y’all.
Have a good one.

While You Wait: Game of Thrones

Hello there, and welcome to a new thing. Not sure it it’ll be a recurring series, but if this gets a good response, then it might. Any way, hello everyone. With the final season of HBO megahit “Game of Thrones” arriving in less than two weeks, fan are eagerly anticipating it. But until then, some might be asking themselves what they could watch to tide them over until then. Well, I’m here to perhaps help with that in some regard, by giving you some personal recommendations for things that could maybe fill that void in some respect. And if you don’t give a shit about “Game of Thrones”, then you’ll at least have a few recommendations for things to experience. So let’s go.

This is While You Wait: Game of Thrones edition.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (New Line Cinema, 2001 – 2003)

This entry should come as no surprise in the slightest. Big, epic fantasy with a grandiose story, a stellar cast, and tons of detail in props and filmmaking. Look, I am aware that this and “Game of Thrones” are very different in tone… style… language… amount of tits, but still, can’t talk about relevant recommendations for a major fantasy thing without mentioning another one.

Westworld (HBO Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, 2016 – now)

While we’re talking about one major HBO series, we might as well talk about another one. “Westworld”, based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton, is a series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and follows a theme park that is built up like a giant wild west world (Hence, “Westworld”). But as expected, things may or may not go awry (wouldn’t be a show otherwise). Let’s see, big sweeping story (check), A-list cast (check), Ramin Djawadi making music (check), budget higher than what any of us make in a year (check), violence (check), naked people (super check)… yeah, this has a shitload in common with “GoT”, so that’s why I recommend it.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks, 2011)

That’s right, there be video games on this list too. Released in 2011, “Skyrim” was the fifth mainline game in the “Elder Scrolls” series. In times of great political turmoil, you play as a character that almost gets executed, but gets “saved” by a giant dragon attacking the city that you’re in. And it doesn’t take long for you to find out that you’re Dragonborn, a mighty warrior destined to slay dragons and steal their souls. Political tensions, various factions doing their own shit within the kingdoms, epic fantasy, DRAGONS. Need I say more as to why a “Thrones” fan might want to play this? It’s not one of my favorites, but I still feel like it’s a good recommendation for fans of “GoT” who might want to get some game time in.

Berserk (OLM Inc, 1997 – 1998)

And now we move into something a bit older, but is a bit more of a recent watch for me. “Berserk” is a 1997 anime series based on a manga series of the same name by Kentaro Miura. It follows a highly capable swordsman named Guts as he joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk, after its leader, Griffith, defeats Guts in combat. And so Guts, along with Griffith, and the other members of the group fight their way through the kingdom of Midland. And we do also get to see how Guts and Griffith’s actions affects the political climate in the kingdom, as well as how their bond evolves over the series. So it has both the big battles and political element of “GoT”, and it has the brutality of it… come to think of it, “Berserk” is probably even more brutal (and the series is allegedly very toned down compared to the original manga). Just a few details first… Skip episode one. I’m not kidding, skip it. It’s not even related to anything going on in the show, as it’s set after everything that happens. Maybe come back to it after finishing the other 24 episodes. And secondly, the ending (which I won’t fully spoil) has been a bit polarizing for people… and that’s all. Other than that, “Berserk” is great.

The Expanse (Alcon entertainment, 2016 – now)

So how do we go from high fantasy to sci-fi? Well, like in “Game of Thrones”, you can find a lot of political tension and character development in “The Expanse”. Set hundreds of years into the future, we follow various characters as they try to deal with their various situations while navigating the very dangerous political tensions between Earth and Mars. Need even more proof that this show is the “Game of Thrones” of sci-fi? It has been called the “Game of Thrones” of sci-fi by a fair amount of people. And I thank Amazon for picking it up after SyFy cancelled it.

Gladiator (Scott Free Productions, Univeral Pictures, 2000)

Epic battles, political intrigue (again), charismatic cast, big budget… do I really need to explain why Ridley Scott’s epic Oscar winner is one of the recommendations on this list? You all know why it is here.

The Dark Souls trilogy (FromSoftware, 2011 – 2016)

More video game goodness, and oh god, the traumatic flashbacks are rolling in. Admittedly I’ve only played the third game in the series, but based on my “enjoyment” of that, and the critical acclaim of the rest of the series, I feel confident in recommending them all. You play as a silent (not counting offs and ahs) protagonist who goes on quests that lead you across dark world where you’ll encounter strange creatures, interesting people, and pain… lots and lots of pain. It’s dark fantasy at it’s most bird-flipping. People love these games for their difficulty, and I do kind of appreciate the challenge from my playthrough(s) of the third game. Funnily enough, as I recommend this for “Thrones” reasons, these games take heavy inspiration from another thing on this list… that thing being “Berserk”.

The Revenant (Regency Enterprises, 21st Century Fox, 2015)

Ah yes, the 2015 movie that finally gave Leo his Oscar… and all it took was dragging himself through the dirt after getting his shit kicked in by a bear. Betrayal, brutality, cold, stellar acting, a gritty tone, these are things that make this movie good and also help make some of the “GoT” comparison a bit more valid.

The Godfather trilogy (Paramount Pictures, 1972 – 1990)

Now, how can I compare possible the most prolific gangster series of all time to one of the biggest tv shows of all time? Well, both are grand, sweeping, epic stories about family, legacy, and ruling over a kingdom of sorts. Some from an uncomfortable and pointy chair, and some in dark rooms in the mid-century United States. And yes, I am recommending all of them. The third movie is a huge step down from the first two, but it still has its moments.

Castlevania (Powerhouse Animation, Netflix, 2017 – now)

And for our final entry, let’s go a bit lighter. Don’t get me wrong, this show is dark, but at least it is allowed to get a bit over the top with its action. Based on the hit video game series, “Castlevania” follows Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last member of a long line of vampire hunters, as he reluctantly has to try to kill the king of all vampires… Dracula (Graham McTavish). Start with an epic fantasy, end with another. The animation is stellar, the plot engaging, and the characters very well realized. And to any stubborn people out there: This is a cartoon, not an anime. It may have some anime stylings, but it was entirely produced in the United States… so it’s a cartoon. But for those not stubborn: Watch this show, it’s great.

So those were some of my personal recommendations for those “Game of Thrones” fans wanting something to tide them over until April 14th, or maybe if something’s needed to fill the gap after the show ends. But I also ask of all of you, what other recommendations do you have that could fit this thing? Movie, show, book, game… any of them, I’m all ears.
Have a good one.