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.

Movie Review: The Revenant (2015)

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Survival, something we all strive for in our own ways. Doesn’t matter at what level, all humans aim to survive in one way or another. Doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in your kitchen, having a cup of tea or if you’re lost in the woods… you are trying to survive.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Revenant”.

Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) hasn’t had the best of times. First he got mauled by an angry bear, and then he got left for dead by his hunting team. So now Glass sets out on a long and difficult journey to survive and possibly get revenge. And before you ask, no this isn’t a fast-paced revenge action movie like “Kill Bill”. This is more of a slow and methodical tale about Glass just trying to stay alive while finding the asshole that wronged him. And I have to say that I thought it was a great plot. I don’t want to say that I enjoyed it, because there’s some really disturbing stuff going on at times and it’s a pretty harrowing tale, so enjoyment is not the word I’d use for the plot. It was a ver yinteresting plot that I was invested in from start to finish.

The characters in this movie were all realistic and very interesting. Leonardo DiCaprio… holy fuck, that dude can act. He doesn’t say a whole lot, and when he does it isn’t always in English. But I always believed his performance, it was absolutely fantastic. Tom Hardy was also great in the movie, even though he feel back on the typical “Tom Hardy mumble” quite a bit. But his performance overall was great. Domhnall Gleeson, also turning out a truly great performance in the movie. And Will Poulter was really good too, he really surprised me in this movie. I mean, there wasn’t ever a performance I’d call bad or even mediocre in this movie… all were somewhere between good and fan-fucking-tastic.

The score for the movie was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, and Bryce Dessner. And it was nothing short of great. There were tracks that were really exciting and there were tracks that were really haunting and eerie. Really, the score was very well composed and perfectly fit the movie.

This movie was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who also directed “Birdman”. And once again he did something very unique when directing this movie. Though instead of making the entire movie look like one continuous shot he opted to shoot the entire movie in natural light. Which means that he actually went out into the fucking wilderness and shot with all natural light sources, like the sun or some fire. No studio lights or green screen here, it’s the real deal. Sure, there was some CG in the movie, but only for some of the more impossible stuff… like Leonardo DiCaprio getting mauled by a god damn bear, that was of course a man in a funny suit getting some CGI edited on top of him so he could become a bear. There were apparently a bunch more bits of CG in the movie, but it was blended so well with the practical that I couldn’t tell which was which. Shit, here I’ve spent a bunch of words talking about visual effects that I forgot to talk about the directing/cinematography. But yeah, that stuff is holy fucking shit levels of amazing. The scenes are very well crafted and the cinematography is some of the best that I’ve ever seen. It is a visually stunning movie. Let’s talk about the action scenes in the movie. There are not too many, but when they happen they are incredibly brutal and disturbing. I don’t have a problem with violence in movies, but the stuff here is done in such a brutal and realistic way that it got some reactions out of me. So if you haven’t seen this movie and you’re squeamish… consider this a warning.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie also won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Actor (DiCaprio, finally), Best Director, and Best Cinematography. The movie was also nominated for an additional 9 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Sounds Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Production Design. 

“The Revenant” is an incredibly impressive film. It has a great plot, great characters, terrific performances, great music, fantastic directing, gorgeous cinematography, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. *Grunting noise*. My final score for “The Revenant” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Revenant” is now completed.

Damn nature, you scary!