Wind River (Film Review) – A Superb Thriller

Wind River is a neo-western thriller written and directed by Taylor Sheridan and stars Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner. The story of the film focuses on Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker who has to work with Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), an FBI agent. We follow these two characters in their attempt to solve a murder that occurred on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Wind River

My expectation for this film was very high and the sole reason why this was the case was because of Taylor Sheridan. This is the man who was the screenwriter behind films such as Hell or High Water and Sicario. Hell or High Water is a very good film but Sicario, for me, is an amazing film and is probably the best film I saw in 2015. What struck me in both films was how brilliant the story and the dialogue was. To see Taylor Sheridan return with Wind River both as a writer and a director really interested me.

Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

I also had some concerns though and that was mainly down to Jeremy Renner. Now, I like Jeremy Renner but I was not confident in his ability to succeed as the lead in this film. He has not blown me away as an actor. Still, my overall feeling going into Wind River was one of hope rather than trepidation. I was confident that Wind River was going to be, at the very least, a good film.

My Thoughts on Wind River

Wind River is, by a mile, the best film I have seen this year. In terms of the films written by Taylor Sheridan, I would rank it well above Hell or High Water. Sicario is a bit better but for Wind River to get close to the quality of Sicario is an immense achievement. Undoubtedly, Jeremy Renner gives the best performance of his career in this film. Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, who was also brilliant, carry Wind River with terrific lead performances that have a lot of depth.

Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner and Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

Indeed, the whole film is rich with story. On a surface level, the murder mystery is very interesting and Wind River does a great job at building suspense and tension to get to the revelations we crave. Still, what really intrigued me was how interconnected the stories in this film were. The murder mystery hits very close to home for Renner’s character who has gone through an extremely similar experience. He has a brilliant scene with Elizabeth Olsen where we see the pain within him.

Engaging Throughout

I never got bored during Wind River as I was always eager to learn more about the characters and their lives. Taylor Sheridan does a brilliant job in telling his story and I found both the pacing and length of Wind River to be perfect. It never drags but it never rushes either. Moreover, the superb cinematography in this film will always keep you engaged from a visual perspective. The score also impressed me and to have human dialogue interwoven into the music was a very subtle, nice addition.

Scenery including Sheep and Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

To be honest, I cannot find anything wrong with Wind River. I was engaged from beginning to end and it just proves how talented Taylor Sheridan is from a writing and now a directorial standpoint. Jeremy Renner has also gone up in my estimations as an actor and he proved to me that he can be successful in leading roles. If you can find some spare time, then Wind River should absolutely be a film that you see. For me, it is the best film I have seen in 2017 so far.

Patti Cake$ (Film Review) – A Modern 8 Mile

Patti Cake$ is a drama directed by Geremy Jaspar and stars Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriaty and Danielle Macdonald. The story focuses on Patricia “Dumbo” Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), a plus-sized white girl from New Jersey who is on a journey to make it as a rapper and escape from poverty.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Patti Cake$

I first heard of this film after its premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 and it got a great reception. Comparisons were made with the film 8 Mile due to its similar subject nature and praise was heaped on Danielle Macdonald for her lead performance. Indeed, it was considered to be a breakout role for her. I always want to see a film that will be inspirational and I had high hopes that Patti Cake$ would achieve this.

Danielle Macdonald as Patti, Siddharth Dhananjay as Jheri and Mamoudou Athie as Basterd in Patti Cake$

My Thoughts on Patti Cake$

Certainly, I would view Patti Cake$ as a modern version of 8 Mile. While I believe that 8 Mile is a better film, I really enjoyed Patti Cake$ and found the story to be very engaging. The main reason why Patti Cake$ delivers is because of the central performance by Danielle Macdonald. Her performance was fantastic, especially when you consider that her acting career is still in its infancy. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the future and I hope that Patti Cake$ will open the door for more opportunities for this actress.

The supporting characters around Danielle Macdonald were also very compelling. They served the story and the journey of Macdonald’s character extremely well. Additionally, the pacing of Patti Cake$ was just right. I was never bored during the film and the music in Patti Cake$ also helped in that regard. There were a lot of songs that were very catchy and the fact that they were original was also a bonus. It reminded me of films such as Begin Again and Sing Street which also had great, original music and it is never a bad thing to be compared to those films.

Danielle Macdonald as Patti and Siddharth Dhananjay as Jheri in Patti Cake$

Obviously, a film such as Patti Cake$ is not going to get a massive amount of publicity due to how small and independent it is compared to blockbuster films. Still, if you are looking for a compelling, inspiring story then I would absolutely recommend that you see Patti Cake$ when you can. I feel as though anyone can enjoy this film, especially if you are a fan of 8 Mile. Just do not expect Patti Cake$ to be better than 8 Mile.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Episode 7 (Television Review) – Winter is Here

Well, here we are. We have come to the end of Season 7 of Game of Thrones. We waited such a long time for the first episode of this season of television and the season has come and gone in a flash. ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ was the title of the season finale and I would be lying if I said I was not thinking about this episode daily since the magnificent ‘Beyond the Wall’ ended. I was expecting a strong end to this season and believed that ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ would give us closure to the story arcs that needed it while, at the same time, setting the stage for Season 8 of Game of Thrones.

My Thoughts on Season 7 Episode 7 of Game of Thrones

It has been a couple of weeks since I saw ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ (sorry for the wait for this review) and I still believe that this episode was a fantastic finale to an amazing season of Game of Thrones. The episode began in King’s Landing where the meeting between Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) would take place. A lot of great character interactions took place prior to this meeting.

Jerome Flynn as Bronn and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) were reunited and this took me back to the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones where these three characters had such great chemistry with one another. Even after all there time apart, it felt like nothing had changed and it was great to see them all together again, even if they now have different allegiances.

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and The Hound (Rory McCann) were also reunited after their battle at the end of Season 4 of Game of Thrones. Obviously, both were shocked to see each other again but, after some awkward tension, they bonded over Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and it was great to see that The Hound was still looking out for her. I hope to see more of these two characters together in Season 8, especially if Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) is involved if he survived the end of ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ (more on that later).

The Dragonpit in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

The Meeting

The meeting at the Dragonpit was very tense. We saw major characters meet each other for the very first time and saw reunions which were much less loving than the ones discussed above. The main reason for this meeting was for Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to show Cersei proof of the existence of the White Walkers and call for an alliance to fight this common enemy. There were twists and turns throughout this meeting. We thought that both sides came to an understanding before Jon Snow did the honourable thing and tell the truth regarding his allegiance to Daenerys.

Needless to say, this did not go down well with either side but it fitted with how honourable yet naive Jon is as a character in Game of Thrones. Because of Jon’s stance, Tyrion tried to salvage the situation by having a private conversation with Cersei. Now, these two are not exactly siblings who love each other and the animosity that Cersei has for Tyrion really came to the forefront in this scene. Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey are arguably the two best actors in Game of Thrones and seeing them share a scene together for the first time since Season 4 was brilliant to watch. They brought so much to this episode.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

Despite the divide between Cersei and Tyrion, you can tell that they respect each other and, at the end of their conversation, you thought that they would reach an understanding, especially as Tyrion found out that Cersei is pregnant. Originally, I thought that Cersei was lying about her pregnancy but, after watching ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’, it does seem that she is legitimately pregnant. This seemed to be the driving force for Cersei to form an alliance with Daenerys to combat the White Walkers.

Cersei Always Lies

However, we found out later in ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ that she was playing everyone for fools, including Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Indeed, seeing Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) flee after seeing the White Walker was all an act. His true purpose is to sail to Essos to recruit the Golden Company who are mercenary soldiers that will serve Cersei and they will not get involved in the war against the White Walkers. Instead, her plan is to let both sides kill each other which, in her mind, will leave no one left to oppose her.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

Evidently, she is still playing the Game of Thrones which just confirms how deranged, irrational and, to some extent, mad she has become. Her inability to see the wider picture will be her undoing and we have seen that already in the fact that her decision was the final straw for Jaime. Finally, he has left Cersei and is heading to Winterfell. In doing so, he is doing both the right thing and fulfilling the promise to fight the White Walkers. I am really interested to see his role in Season 8 of Game of Thrones.

Redemption for Theon

A character whose role in Season 8 of Game of Thrones could be very fulfilling is Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). His scene with Jon was a fantastic character moment for him, especially as it was a big factor for him to find some courage and embark on a mission to save his sister, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan). While I do believe that this will lead to his death in Season 8, I am more relieved than pleased that Theon has finally regained some pride after all his deserved trials and tribulations. The journey he goes on in Season 8 of Game of Thrones could finally end his story on a heroic note.

Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

One story-line in Season 7 of Game of Thrones that ended on a fantastic note was the story at Winterfell. ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ gave us such a brilliant conclusion to this story-line since Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) finally got what he deserved; death. I have previously predicted that Littlefinger would die this season and that Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) would have a role to play in his demise. Indeed, Bran confronted Littlefinger regarding his betrayal of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in Season 1 of Game of Thrones which put the final nail in Littlefinger’s coffin.

What Caused Littlefinger’s Demise?

For me, the key to Littlefinger’s demise was the conversation that he had with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in this episode of Game of Thrones. Littlefinger teaching Sansa about his “game” proved that Littlefinger overplayed his hand as it led Sansa to figuring out the truth. She applied the rules of the game to Littlefinger and it played into the conversation in the hall at Winterfell where she states that while she is a slow learner, she learns. She finally understood that Littlefinger was pitting her against Arya and the twist in the hall was brilliant to see.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

Obviously, Sansa made peace with Arya off-screen and they conspired with Bran to finally play Littlefinger for a fool. I have to say, seeing Littlefinger go out in such a pathetic and snivelling manner was a perfect way for this character to bow out of Game of Thrones. He finally fell off the ladder and it filled my heart with joy. Moreover, the conversation that Arya and Sansa had towards the end of ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ was also very fulfilling, especially when they were reminiscing about their father. While these two never had and never will have a close relationship, you can see that the mutual respect between them is very strong and it will be good to see these two as a united force next season.

R + L = J

Still, the only thing that we were talking about after this episode ended was the fact that R + L = J is finally 100% confirmed, i.e. Jon Snow is a Targaryen. The revelation came about once Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) arrived at Winterfell and reunited with Bran. They put their knowledge together and, in doing so, they realised that the foundation of Robert’s Rebellion was a lie and we found out that Jon Snow’s real name is Aegon Targaryen, named after Aegon the Conqueror.

Viserion Destroying The Wall in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and the Wolf

Indeed, Jon is a true Targaryen and, in this sense, he has a much stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. Of course, as all of this is playing out, we see Jon and Daenerys getting together. I am confident that, once Jon discovers the truth, this will cause issues with Daenerys despite the common goal they have of defeating the White Walkers. Daenerys’ whole purpose throughout Game of Thrones has been to rule Westeros and once that is under threat, she may react in a negative way or lose purpose which could lead to her death next season.

The Wall Is Breached

While the inevitable revelation will be a huge shock to many, I hope that everyone will come together to fight the White Walkers. This better happen after seeing The Wall come down thanks to an undead Viserion at the end of ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’. While I suspected this was going to happen for quite some time, it was still awesome to see and it sets up Season 8 of Game of Thrones so well. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Season 7 was Part 1 to Season 8’s Part 2 and it just sucks that we now have to wait more than a year for the last season of Game of Thrones to arrive. Still, ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ ended this fantastic season of TV in a brilliant way.

A Ghost Story (Film Review) – Thought-Provoking and Deep

A Ghost Story is a supernatural drama directed by David Lowery and stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in the lead roles of C and M respectively. After C dies in a car accident, he comes back as a white-sheeted ghost and remains in the house that he lived in with M, his wife. However, he has become unstuck in time and he has to watch his old life slowly slip away. He embarks on a journey through memory and history while confronting the enormity of existence, love and death.

My Knowledge and Expectation of A Ghost Story

I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this film. I had not seen any trailers for A Ghost Story and my only knowledge of the film came when I saw that both Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara were in it. Casey Affleck hugely impressed me with his performance in Manchester by the Sea and I was interested to see Rooney Mara too.

I am more familiar with Kate Mara, her sister, because of her role in House of Cards. But, I have noticed the quality of Rooney Mara’s performances in films such as Carol and Lion. Seeing Casey and Rooney together really interested me. Still, again, I did not know what to expect with A Ghost Story, especially when it came to the story.

Rooney Mara as M and Casey Affleck as C in A Ghost Story

My Thoughts on A Ghost Story

I saw this film a couple of weeks ago so I have had a lot of time to think about it. Now, I mean this in a good way; A Ghost Story is the most challenging film I have seen in 2017. There is so much depth in this film and the themes which are interwoven in the story such as death, time and the meaning of life are very thought-provoking. Additionally, these themes are showcased in a very unconventional way but it still has an emotional impact.

The reason I say this is because A Ghost Story is very atmospheric and artful. The film relies on visual storytelling rather than dialogue and it is a slow burn. In fact, I was not enjoying the film during the first act. A couple of scenes in the first act were unnecessarily long and they could have been considerably trimmed. At this point in the film, I did not like it at all but everything changed after one scene.

Ghost in A Ghost Story

When It All Clicked

The scene was one that had the most dialogue in the entire film and it made me realise what the message and point of A Ghost Story was. This also helped me get used to the pacing and style of the film. Indeed, the style of the film is quite unique as Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, while both in leading roles, are secondary aspects of A Ghost Story. For me, the themes, score and fantastic cinematography of the film are much more prevalent than the characters and I was fine with this.

As the film progressed, I fell more and more in love with it. In fact, A Ghost Story impacted me so much in the end that I sat in silence for the entire credits. No film since Nocturnal Animals has had a similar impact on me. For that reason alone, it ranks amongst the best films I have seen in 2017. Nevertheless, while I ended up loving A Ghost Story, this film is not for everyone. If you go in with the right expectations, then I think you will be impacted by a sad film that will challenge you in a very good way.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Episode 6 (Television Review) – ICE DRAGON!!

The time between ‘Eastwatch’ and ‘Beyond the Wall’, the latest episode in Season 7 of Game of Thrones, felt like an age. I was coming up with crazy theories about what would happen, incessantly worrying about the fate of characters and expecting a tense episode. While every season of Game of Thrones has always had me at the edge of my seat, Season 7 has taken that to another level. Seeing as we are nearing the end of this show, I have no idea where the story will go which is such a relief after years of fearing book readers. Indeed, I do not have to deal with book readers who could threaten to spoil major events because we are all on the same page now.

Yet, the fact that this episode was leaked throws up other ways to get spoiled, only this time it was the fault of HBO. I miraculously managed to not know anything about what happened in the penultimate episode of what has been so far, for me, a near-flawless season of Game of Thrones. In my opinion, there has been a perfect blend of spectacle, character moments/development and pacing which previous seasons, while all brilliant seasons of television, have not achieved to the degree that Season 7 has. Obviously, this meant that I had very high hopes for ‘Beyond the Wall’.

Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

My Thoughts on Season 7 Episode 6 of Game of Thrones

‘Beyond the Wall’ really impressed me. Again, we got great character interactions, tense action and outcomes which have set up the final episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones very well. The primary focus of this episode was on Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his squad of legends that embarked on a seemingly impossible mission to capture a White Walker. I loved how a big part of this story-line was establishing relationships between the characters who went on this expedition.

In this aspect, the highlights for me were the interactions between Jon and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and between Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and The Hound (Rory McCann). The conversations between Jon and Jorah had a lot of depth considering the connection they share with Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo). Jon was the steward of Jeor while Jorah was Jeor’s son. Seeing Jon and Jorah share their experiences and have Longclaw, Jon’s sword that belonged to Jeor, play a key role in one of their conversations was very poignant.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

Tormund and The Hound

While the moments between Jon and Jorah had depth, the scene between Tormund and The Hound was just pure comedy. The dialogue in this scene was awesome. I have been dying to see these two together since this season of Game of Thrones began and I was not disappointed. The way they “bonded” over Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) was brilliant to watch and I am certain that we will see this blossoming relationship continue seeing as both characters survived this episode.

In fact, Thoros (Paul Kaye) was the only notable human casualty of ‘Beyond the Wall’ and he was always the most likely to die. Moreover, his death made the most sense. In the back of my mind, I always feel that anyone can die at any time but, unlike some other Game of Thrones fans, I am extremely pleased that most of the squad survived. Honestly, I do not understand why people are upset that the brilliant characters in this squad survived. People argue that there was no cost to pay for this mission but that is not true. While there was a lack of human death, one death had much more of a impact to the story going forward than any human death could (more on that later).

Rory McCann as The Hound and Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

Obviously, we knew Jon would survive because his story is not over. I feared for Jorah, Tormund and The Hound but I should admit that I would have been very disappointed if they died. Indeed, I would have considered this to be my first negative experience with this season of Game of Thrones. The reason this would have been the case is because they would have exited the show with unresolved story-lines. Jorah, Tormund and The Hound still have a part to play. You cannot just kill characters for the sake of it. If they died, then I feel this would have been done just for shock value and not for the purpose of moving the story forward. In reality, this would have been detrimental to the story. This is especially true if Jorah died because his relationship with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), for me, does not have enough closure for Jorah’s death to feel earned.

While I feel Jorah will eventually die, dying in ‘Beyond the Wall’ would have been too soon as he just reunited with Daenerys in ‘Eastwatch’. In terms of The Hound and Tormund, both characters still need to reunite with Brienne for completely different but meaningful reasons. Tormund was very close to a horrible fate but The Hound saved him which further solidified their relationship. This itself needs to be developed if for nothing else than comedic purposes because their chemistry in ‘Beyond the Wall’ was electric. More importantly, The Hound, from a dramatic standpoint, has unfinished business with his brother The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams).

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

Arya and Sansa

Despite more important events happening elsewhere, Arya and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) also had some scenes together in ‘Beyond the Wall’. It appears the scheming done by Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) is working and it shows how, when he is seemingly backed into a corner, he still manages to play everyone for fools. Now, without a doubt, this aspect of the episode has been the most criticised. This triggered me to an extent which I did not think was possible. I have seen the writers of Game of Thrones take a lot of heat from fans who believe this part of the episode was forced, poorly executed, a betrayal of the characters etc. I could not disagree more. Bear with me because this next part will seem like a rant but I must get this off my chest.

I mentioned in my review of ‘The Spoils of War’ how their reunion seemingly signalled their ability to move away from their past animosity. However, this is not the case. While this is extremely frustrating to watch, it does make sense. Yes, they should not be acting with each other in the way they are. Indeed, I was screaming “YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS” at the TV but this was not down to poor writing/storytelling. Instead, what is happening between Arya and Sansa is a brilliant way to reinforce how deeply flawed, prideful and immature these two characters still are despite the traumatic experiences and character development they have individually gone through.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

Yes, their individual experiences have meant that they have gone through individual growth but their relationship has not. Arya and Sansa have not seen each other for years. The last time they were together, there was a lot of animosity present and there was a clash of personalities between the two. Additionally, their relationship was not built on good communication. Because each believes that their own experience is worse than anything anyone else has gone through, they will obviously not be open-minded enough to consider the other’s experiences, let alone share it with each other in a safe, loving environment which clearly is not there.

Undoubtedly, it is frustrating to watch but it is easy to say this as the viewer and label it as bad storytelling. We know that if they were just honest with each other then a lot of the tension and animosity that is present would begin to slip away. However, we have to remember that, despite the individual growth that Arya and Sansa have gone through, they are still young, flawed people who have outdated views on each other which are hard to change when you have not communicated in years. It makes sense that they revert to type when it comes to their past relationship because, essentially, they are picking up where they left off. When you think about it, they are effectively still teenagers and, as we know, teenagers are never the best communicators.

Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

Additionally, Arya is bending the truth to fit her own agenda and outdated views. She saw Sansa’s heart-breaking reaction to her father’s death which completely rebukes Arya’s theory that Sansa had any part in it. Furthermore, Arya’s claim that she would rather die than serve the Lannister’s is a bit hypocritical when she did exactly this to survive by serving Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) in Season 2 of Game of Thrones. But again, I do not think this is poor writing/storytelling. While frustrating to watch, it is just emphasising the flaws in these characters who we hold in such high regard. I have faith in the writers to bring satisfying closure to this story-line whether it is in the final episode of this season or in Season 8.

If this does happen in the next episode, I feel as though Bran Stark (Issac Hempstead Wright) will be the key to calling out their petty squabbling and bring an end to Littlefinger’s successful exploitation of the natural tension that is and always has been present between Arya and Sansa. So that is my defence of the scenes involving Arya and Sansa which I thought were very compelling and tense. The story Arya told Sansa about her father, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), was fascinating and touching. It showed the amount of love Arya had for her father and further strengthened the argument that she would be easily influenced if she believed Sansa had a role in his death. This itself was the central point to their clash in this episode of Game of Thrones.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

A Clash Between Daenerys and Tyrion

Daenerys and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) also clashed in ‘Beyond the Wall’. In my opinion, Tyrion rightly confronted Daenerys over her recent actions and this was such a compelling scene. Daenerys was acting in a very paranoid way, accusing Tyrion of conspiring against her. While she has her reasons to feel this way due to Tyrion’s strong connections to Westeros and his brother, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), it is insufferable. We know that Tyrion is not a snake and he is not at a stage where he feels Daenerys needs to be stopped. Hopefully, now that she has seen The Night King, she has more perspective and will learn from her experience of losing a dragon.

Yes, her dragon Viserion was killed by The Night King. Daenerys took her three dragons to save Jon Snow and his squad who were trapped by the White Walkers. I have to say, prior to Daenerys’ epic rescue, the last stand that was made by the squad was brilliant. Seeing wave after wave of White Walkers come at our heroes was so nerve-wracking because the situation seemed so hopeless. I knew Daenerys would arrive to come to their rescue but I did not know if everyone would survive by the time she arrived. As I previously said, I am thankful that they all did and seeing the dragons save the day was awesome. The visual spectacle mixed with the incredible music composed by Ramin Djawadi left me punching the air with joy.

Dragon Burning White Walkers in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

An Undead Dragon

Still, the death of Viserion was more impactful than any human death that could have occurred in this episode of Game of Thrones. This is because he now serves The Night King. We have a White Walker Dragon!!! This changes everything and heightens the threat of the White Walkers to a much larger degree than before. I feel that this is all going to come to a head in the finale of Season 7. We also saw Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) sacrifice his life to save Jon Snow at the end of ‘Beyond the Wall’. While I would have loved to see their long-awaited reunion be a bit longer, it was still emotionally satisfying enough for me.

Another aspect of ‘Beyond the Wall’ that has been criticised is the time jumps. As I have mentioned in my previous reviews of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, the time jumps do not bother me. What is minutes for us could be days or even weeks in Westeros and I do not understand some fans’ problems with this. I mean, do they really want episodes that just show marching or Daenerys flying her dragons over Westeros. We are reaching the end of this television series. We do not have the time for that sort of fluff.

Viserion Becoming A White Walker Dragon in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Beyond the Wall

It would not give the momentum we need to push the story forward. Plus, we have no problem that the Lord of the Rings Trilogy tells a story spanning thirteen months in nine hours. Nor do we have a problem that the Original Star Wars Trilogy tells a story spanning four years in six hours! All I am asking is that people be consistent in their arguments. We have had six seasons of Game of Thrones to get us to a stage where momentum and pacing are key and I am so pleased that Season 7 is getting us where we need to be in a concise, fast-paced manner.

Stubborn Expectations Are The Problem

In the end, I feel as though the problems that some fans of Game of Thrones have had with elements of Season 7, and ‘Beyond the Wall’ in particular, are down to expectations. We build up our expectations and what we feel should happen in an episode or season of Game of Thrones so high that when our predictions/wishes do not come true, we get too disappointed. This is regardless of how great the events that actually transpired were. Over time, I feel as though ‘Beyond the Wall’, which I already love, will be much more appreciated by the fans. For me, it continued the great blend of character moments, spectacle and pacing we have seen so far in Season 7. Moreover, it has led to us to the final episode of this season of Game of Thrones which I am dying to see.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Episode 5 (Television Review) – Reunions!!!

Game of Thrones continues to prove how it is a class above any other television show that is on right now. I am still thinking about the spectacular final 20 minutes of ‘The Spoils of War’. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and it left me desperately waiting for ‘Eastwatch’, the latest episode in Season 7. Honestly, this whole week has felt like a year and this proves how much of an event Game of Thrones is. I could not wait to see what would happen next in this incredible story.

My Thoughts on Season 7 Episode 5 of Game of Thrones

Eastwatch’ was not the right title for this episode of Game of Thrones. In ‘Dragonstone’, we were only at Dragonstone for the final moments of that episode. The same thing happened in this episode. We were only at Eastwatch for a very short time. Apart from the misleading title, I could not find anything to fault in this episode. While it is a much different episode than I was expecting after ‘The Spoils of War’, there were so many great moments in this episode, especially for the hardcore fans.

Field of Fire in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

Let’s start at the beginning. Obviously, I knew that Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) would be alive but I was surprised that they were not captured. Honestly, I liked that this happened, especially as we would see Jaime’s tense relationship with Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) continue. Additionally, the reunion I expected to happen between Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Jaime eventually came to be (more on that later) so I was not disappointed that this did not occur at the start.

Tyrion and Daenerys

Speaking of Tyrion, I found his role in the beginning of ‘Eastwatch’ to be very compelling. Seeing the discomfort he was in when walking through the ash-laden field and the way he struggled to get through to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was a great way to show how he is still deeply connected to Westeros and the life he previously lived. Moreover, it continues to prove that Daenerys is going down a very dangerous path.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Conleth Hill as Varys in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

Her decision to give every Lannister soldier an ultimatum to either join her or die was such a contrast to her previous ability to inspire people to follow her through hope rather than fear. The clash between Tyrion and Daenerys in this scene showed how different their views are in terms of the best way to conquer Westeros. As ‘Eastwatch’ progressed, we saw Tyrion and Varys (Conleth Hill) have their own discussion regarding their concerns about Daenerys. I always love it when these two characters are together in any episode of Game of Thrones and this scene was both funny and important from a story perspective too.

We continued to see the relationship between Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys develop in ‘Eastwatch’. Indeed, seeing Drogon approach and connect with Jon was a key moment in this episode of Game of Thrones as it gives us even more confirmation about Jon’s Targaryen heritage (more on that later). Additionally, you could see the surprise in Daenerys when this happened but any affection that she developed for Jon after this scene was overshadowed by her reunion with Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen).

Drogon and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

Return of Jorah

This reunion was extremely heartfelt. After all the ups and downs this relationship has had, it was great to see Daenerys and Jorah come together again in a very loving way. While Jorah will probably always remain in the friendzone, it was a loving reunion. Still, I was screaming at the TV later in the episode when Jorah decided to leave Daenerys to take part in Jon’s mission beyond The Wall (more on that later). He just got back!! Still, their goodbye was, once again, heartfelt and emotional. I just hope that they will be together again soon because Jorah is a great character and I want to see more of him with Daenerys in the future. I want his journey to continue although I fear the worst.

A reunion which was much more tense was the eventual meeting between Tyrion and Jaime. Now, as you read above, I was expecting this meeting to happen earlier in the episode and under much different circumstances. However, I am very happy about how Tyrion and Jaime came together. It was a very intimate scene and you could feel the pain in both characters about how they came to this situation. You could see the love they have for each other and I feel as though their relationship will be pivotal in future episodes of Game of Thrones.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

I thought that Cersei Lannister would crucify Jaime for meeting Tyrion. However, she acted in a completely different way from what I was expecting. Clearly, Cersei and Jaime were already at odds from an earlier scene regarding both the hopelessness in their ability to defeat Daenerys and the truth about who killed Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). I thought the clash they had in this scene would continue when Jaime told Cersei about meeting Tyrion but I was wrong. Cersei was calm and collected yet quietly angry when she told Jaime to never betray her again. Additionally, I think that she is lying about her pregnancy and the only reason why she said this was to keep Jaime on her side which will not last.

Gendry!!!

While Tyrion had his own reasons for being in King’s Landing, Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) also had priorities. Indeed, this led to another reunion in ‘Eastwatch’ which was a brilliant piece of fan service. After a four-season absence, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is back. He stopped rowing!! I was like a giddy kid when it clicked for me that we were going to see Gendry, the bastard son of Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), reunite with Davos and Davos’ rowing joke was such a great nod to the fans.

Joe Dempsie as Gendry in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

Back in Winterfell, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) is still being a sneaky snake. While I do believe his downfall is near, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) fell into his trap. The goal of this was to obviously divide Arya and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Indeed, we saw the tension between the two in one scene of ‘Eastwatch’ where Arya confronts Sansa about her motives and loyalty to Jon. I feel as though they will unite against Littlefinger eventually but he is doing his best to create chaos and keep climbing that ladder.

A Crucial Discovery and Revelation

For me, the most important revelation that occurred in this episode of Game of Thrones happened at Oldtown. The conversation between Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) revealed even more about Jon’s lineage, before Sam rudely cut Gilly off. We learnt that Rhaegar Targaryen had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled and he married someone else in secret. Clearly, this is Lyanna Stark who is Jon Snow’s true mother. When we consider this and all we have seen so far, we can strongly suggest that Jon is not a bastard. He is a true Targaryen and, in turn, he has an arguably stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. This was told in such a subtle way yet its relevance is monumental.

Hannah Murray as Gilly in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

Additionally, seeing Sam man up and leave Oldtown again proves how far he has come from his shy, timid days at The Wall. Speaking of The Wall, we end ‘Eastwatch’ at that location but not at Castle Black. As we previously discussed, the final moments of this episode of Game of Thrones were at Eastwatch. Jon Snow made the decision to leave Dragonstone and form a small party who would go beyond The Wall . Their purpose was to capture one of the White Walkers so they could take it back to Cersei and prove their existence in the hope of forming a temporary alliance.

Jon Snow left Dragonstone with Jorah, Davos and Gendry in tow. They met with Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) at Eastwatch and this squad was improved even more with the inclusion of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), Thoros (Paul Kaye) and The Hound (Rory McCann). Seeing the legends in this “Magnificent Seven” going to capture a White Walker left me so excited, especially with the fact that Tormund and The Hound are together. The amount of fun we could have seeing these two characters interact with each other was such a great prospect to think of when it comes to the next episode.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 Eastwatch

A Ridiculous Plan

That being said, this plan is so f*****g stupid. I will say that from a story perspective, it is great. From a decision-making perspective that was made by the characters in this show, it is dumb. Capturing one of the White Walkers?!? Are you insane?!?!? This is a suicide mission! I am so worried for everyone involved in this mission because some of my favourite characters are now in a lot of danger. I have no doubt that some if not most of the squad will die in the next episode, no matter how painful it will be to watch (If Jorah dies, I swear I wi……).

As I previously mentioned, the only thing that I would contest about this episode of Game of Thrones is that the title was misleading. Apart from this, I have also seen other fans of this TV show get annoyed about the time jumps this season but it has not bothered me in the slightest. Throughout this show, time jumps have, for me, always been necessary to push the story forward. Moreover, what we consider to be minutes in the show could be days, weeks or even months in the timeline of Westeros. ‘Eastwatch’ was a great way to set-up the final two episodes of Season 7 and I am sure it will be emotional (If Tormund dies, I am goi…).

The Big Sick (Film Review) – A Great Blend of Comedy and Drama

The Big Sick is a romantic comedy directed by Michael Showalter and written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. The film is partly based on and inspired by the real-life romance between Nanjiani and Gordon and stars Zoe KazanHolly HunterRay RomanoAdeel Akhtar, Anupam Kher and Kumail Nanjiani. Kumail effectively plays himself in this film and the story focuses on his interracial relationship with Emily (Zoe Kazan). They have to deal with their cultural differences but Emily is struck with a sudden illness that threatens more than just their relationship.

My Knowledge and Expectation of The Big Sick

This is a film which has been on my radar ever since it was initially released at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It received unanimous praise, particularly when it came to the script, the performances and the cross-cultural themes that The Big Sick showcases. Still, this was the only thing I knew about The Big Sick. Indeed, I am unfamiliar with the director and I knew little about the cast. Moreover, Kumail Nanjiani is someone who, until quite recently, I did not know anything about.

I have never watched Silicon Valley which is where he made a name for himself. I only came to know about Kumail through his recent appearance on a THR Roundtable. I was excited to see him in a leading role as well as the other actors/actresses that were unknown to me. The only two in this that I knew were Holly Hunter and Ray Romano and this was because of their voice work in The Incredibles and Ice Age respectively. The praise that The Big Sick received prior to its release in the UK set my expectations relatively high and I was hoping to have a fun time with it.

Kumail Nanjiani as Kumail and Zoe Kazan as Emily in The Big Sick

My Thoughts on The Big Sick

I really enjoyed The Big Sick. While I do not hold the film in the same lofty regard as others, it is a very good film that accomplishes the difficult feat of blending comedy, romance and drama in a very natural and authentic way. A big reason why this is the case was because of the performance by Kumail Nanjiani. He was perfect for this role and it is not surprising since he was effectively playing himself in a story based on his real-life relationship with co-writer Emily V. Gordon.

Zoe Kazan played Emily in this film and she also did a great job. She had great chemistry with Kumail Nanjiani and their relationship gave The Big Sick a lot of heart and depth. Indeed, this is especially true when you consider that the film dealt with important themes such as religion, The American Dream and cultural identity in a 21st century setting.

Zenobia Shroff as Sharmeen and Anupam Kher as Azmat in The Big Sick

The Parents Are Hilarious

Still, for me, The Big Sick really shined when the parents of both Kumail and Emily were involved in the story. They provided the funniest moments in the film. Kumail’s parents, and his family in general, were flat out hilarious and the scenes that focused on their efforts to get an arranged marriage for Kumail provided a lot of laughs.

Emily’s parents, who were played by the aforementioned Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, also had their moments. Indeed, a joke about 9/11 had me in stitches (I know that came across badly, but it makes sense within the context of the film). The way their relationship with Kumail developed throughout The Big Sick was another strong element of the film.

Ray Romano as Terry and Holly Hunter as Beth in The Big Sick

To be honest, there is very little that I can find wrong with The Big Sick. It has a bit of everything for everyone. True, other films in 2017 have left a bigger impact on me and, because of this, they rank higher. However, this film was one of the most pleasant and feel-good viewing experiences that I have had at the cinema so far in 2017. This is because the ending was such a nice note to finish on after some pretty heavy scenes in the film. I highly recommend that you see The Big Sick as soon as you can. You will laugh, you may cry but you will leave the cinema in a much happier mood.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Episode 4 (Television Review) – Daenerys Strikes Back

The Spoils of War’ was the title of this episode of Game of Thrones and, despite this episode unfortunately being leaked early, I avoided spoilers and resisted the temptation to watch it early. I must admit, this was very tough to do, especially as I have been waiting for what seems like an age to watch this next episode in what has been an incredible seventh season of Game of Thrones. For me, ‘The Queen’s Justice’ ranks amongst the best episodes of this TV show and I could not wait to see what would develop in ‘The Spoils of War’.

My Thoughts on Season 7 Episode 4 of Game of Thrones

Obviously, the only thing that anyone would and should be talking about after this episode of Game of Thrones was the final 20 minutes. What an incredible way to end ‘The Spoils of War’. We see Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the Dothraki and Drogon completely lay waste to the Lannister Army. In turn, Daenerys has finally gained a meaningful victory against Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). While this battle helped to push the story forward, the technical qualities of this battle were the real highlight.

Game of Thrones has made a habit of giving us brilliant battle sequences. Whether it was The Battle of the Bastards or Hardhome, this television series has always pushed boundaries and the battle in ‘The Spoils of War’ is no different. For me, the cinematography was absolutely superb. Some of the shots in this battle were breath-taking and seeing Drogon obliterate the Lannister Army and turn soldiers to ash was awesome to experience but there were other highlights.

Drogon in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 The Spoils of War

Indeed, the scene of Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in what was effectively No Man’s Land was impressive from a film-making perspective. This was because it was filmed in one take which was similar to what we saw with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in ‘Battle of the Bastards’ in Season 6. Plus, this scene was elevated since it is great to see Bronn at any time as he is one of the best secondary characters in Game of Thrones.

Additionally, seeing the charge of the Dothraki from their viewpoint was a cool moment and I give a lot of credit to director Matt Shakman in crafting what, in my eyes, was a cinematic triumph. Moreover, it ended the episode on a cliff-hanger. While I believe they are alive, the fate of Bronn and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was uncertain after they just escaped a horrible fate at the hands of a wounded Drogon. I expect that they have survived and will be Daenerys’ prisoners of war which could make for some interesting character developments in the future.

Jerome Flynn as Bronn in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 The Spoils of War

While the final 20 minutes of ‘The Spoils of War’ completely overshadowed everything else that happened in this episode of Game of Thrones, there are many things that we must discuss. Firstly, we must talk about how Daenerys is continuing her stubborn ways. She is still insisting that Jon should “bend the knee” and, to be honest, I am finding it more and more insufferable. Her proclamation that Jon needs to rethink his prideful stance is completely hypocritical.

Jon Has Purer Intentions Than Daenerys

Granted, they are both stubborn but I find Jon’s intentions to be much purer because he is trying to save humanity whereas Daenerys just wants to conquer Westeros. Daenerys is going down a dangerous path and I feel as though the only one who will be able to guide her back on track and remind her of her own pure intentions will be Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). I am anticipating a very emotional reunion between these two characters very soon and I hope it will have a positive impact on Daenerys and her relationships with those around her.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 The Spoils of War

While that reunion is to come, ‘The Spoils of War’ gave us another Stark reunion. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) were reunited and it is the first time that we have seen these two characters together since Season 1 of Game of Thrones. I was very pleased with how this episode handled their reunion which itself was reserved and respectful rather than emotional. We must remember that Arya and Sansa did not have the best relationship growing up. However, they have gone through so much that any animosity that was prevalent in the past has seemingly gone.

Arya was also involved in one of the best scenes in this episode of Game of Thrones. Her sparring with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) was such a cool moment as it reinforced how deadly Arya potentially is and showed Sansa that Arya is not a little girl anymore. Plus, her reference that “No-one” taught her how to fight was a brilliant call-back. Jon and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) were also reunited but this was much more tense and cold than Arya’s and Sansa’s reunion although Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) did his best to inject some soullessness.

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 The Spoils of War

Bran the Soulless

Honestly, Bran has become heartless. His demeanour, his blank expression and the way he just disregarded Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) was so surprising to see. After everything she has done for him, for Bran to just give an emotionless “thank you” shows how his role as the Three-Eyed Raven has sucked all the humanity out of Bran. Still, the way he completely shocked Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) by saying “Chaos is a ladder” was brilliant. Littlefinger is not someone who is caught off guard but he was stunned when Bran said this.

Littlefinger said “Chaos is a ladder” to Varys (Conleth Hill) in Season 3 of Game of Thrones and Bran should not know about that. If Bran knows this through his powers as the Three-Eyed Raven, he must know everything that Littlefinger has done which could be a fascinating story element going forward. The conversation that Jon and Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) had with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) could also be relevant in future episodes, especially if it could lead to tension with Daenerys.

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark and Aidan GIllen as Littlefinger in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 The Spoils of War

Once again, ‘The Spoils of War’ continued the trend that Season 7 of Game of Thrones has established. This is in regard to giving us spectacular moments while not sacrificing meaningful character development in the process. We only have three more episodes to go in what has been a terrific season of television. I am certain that there are more twists and turns to come, especially when it comes to the White Walkers.

Dunkirk (Film Review) – Good, But Not Nolan’s Best

Dunkirk is a war film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It features an ensemble cast that includes Cillian Murphy, Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles (Yes, that Harry Styles), Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy. The film is set during World War II (WW2) and focuses on the Dunkirk Evacuation of 1940. The story is told from three different perspectives (Land, Sea and Air) which are interwoven in a non-linear narrative.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Dunkirk

Dunkirk has been one of my most anticipated films of the year and the sole reason why this was the case was because of Christopher Nolan. In my opinion, he is the best director working in the film industry today. Additionally, he is cementing his legacy as being one of the greatest directors of all time. Certainly, I regard Inception as one of, if not the greatest film made so far in the 21st century. I believe that The Dark Knight is the best superhero film ever made and that The Dark Knight Trilogy is one of the best trilogies of all time. Other films by Christopher Nolan such as Interstellar and The Prestige are also fantastic films.

For me, Nolan has not made a bad film. Even his weakest film, which I believe is Insomnia, is still a good film. All of this set the bar very high for Dunkirk, especially when we look at the cast involved. Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy have worked with Nolan before and have given great performances when they have. I was interested to see what Mark Rylance would bring to Dunkirk because he was my favourite part of Bridge of Spies and I was hoping that Harry Styles would not take me out of the film. Any film about WW2 is going to garner my attention, but Christopher Nolan directing a WW2 film was salivating. I could not wait to see Dunkirk.

Harry Styles as Alex in Dunkirk

My Thoughts on Dunkirk

I liked Dunkirk. While I feel that Christopher Nolan has made much better films, Dunkirk is good. One of the best aspects of this film is the score. Once again, Hans Zimmer delivers and gives us a brilliant score that successfully builds tension and seamlessly blends into the pacing and sound of the film. The sound of Dunkirk was also something to behold, especially if you see this film in IMAX like I did. Whether it was gunfire, the sound of aircraft or the impact of a bullet, the sound was bombastic and very authentic. It really improved my viewing experience.

Dunkirk also got progressively better with each act. Everything in the film built to an ending which I loved. I felt that the ending was such a beautiful way to conclude a film which focused on a situation in WW2 that was so devoid of hope and full of suffering and despair. I left Dunkirk feeling hopeful and inspired about how the acts of civilians saved so many lives. Additionally, I appreciated how the progression of the film’s narrative was paced very well.

Tom Hardy as Farrier in Dunkirk

My favourite characters in Dunkirk were played by Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh. However, therein lies one of my issues with this film; I cannot remember the names of these characters. Indeed, the way Dunkirk was made and structured left me struggling to connect to the characters in this film. However, this was not as big as an issue as it was for others because I understood Nolan’s decision to focus more on the situation rather than specific people involved in this event.

My Biggest Issue With Dunkirk

However, a decision that I cannot understand and prevents this film from ranking amongst the best Nolan films and best war films was to make Dunkirk 12A/PG-13. Dunkirk is a war film. Now, I have never been involved in a war or combat and I hope I never will. However, as someone who has studied history and someone who has read/watched plenty of first-hand accounts of various modern wars and conflicts I am quite confident in making this statement; War is not 12A/PG-13.

British Soldiers at Dunkirk

For me, some of the best films about warfare such as Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge and We Were Soldiers portrayed war in its most realistic and truthful form. Those films were brutal, gritty and uncompromising in their depiction of war. Because of this, any film that is below the standard established by the films that I mentioned above means that I struggle to emotionally connect to the situation and the characters.

Unfortunately, the inability of Dunkirk to give us a graphic depiction of this pivotal event in WW2 prevented me from loving the film. The use of practical effects and certain moments did give the film some realism and brutality. Yet, I just felt that this film was watered down to appeal to a wider audience instead of being faithful to the nature of this event. Still, not everyone will agree with my views on this particular matter. More importantly, the good in this film outweighs the bad. While Nolan has made better films, Dunkirk is worth seeing and it could rank higher for me after repeat viewings.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Episode 3 (Television Review) – Advantage Cersei

Dragonstone’ and ‘Stormborn’ have been brilliant episodes to kick-off Season 7 of Game of Thrones. Everything has been set-up for this season of television to be fast-paced, thrilling and, as it progresses, something which will leave us prepared for the war to come against the White Walkers. Yet, character development has not been sacrificed in the process. I could not wait for this blend of thrilling moments and character development to continue in ‘The Queen’s Justice’, especially as we would finally see Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) meet for the first time.

My Thoughts on Season 7 Episode 3 of Game of Thrones

Without a doubt, ‘The Queen’s Justice’ is the best episode of Season 7 so far. Indeed, it might be one of my favourite episodes of Game of Thrones. The episode started with a reunion between Jon and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). I loved the interaction that these characters had with each other. You can see that Jon and Tyrion have a lot of admiration and respect for each other and they have a great rapport which I am looking forward to seeing more of.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei and Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen's Justice

Still, the main event was Jon and Daenerys meeting each other for the first time. I have wanted this since I started watching Game of Thrones. I cannot imagine how unbearable the wait has been for book readers, some of whom have been waiting since the mid-90s! This scene did not disappoint. I was enthralled seeing these two characters together and Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington brought their A-game to this scene.

I also loved the fact that this meeting was filled with so much tension. Indeed, Daenerys came across as very arrogant and I started to get really annoyed with how she was handling this meeting because, as a viewer, I know that this meeting is pivotal to the survival of Westeros. Still, I understood how Jon’s warning of White Walkers and The Night King would come across badly to those who have no understanding of such things and how his refusal to “bend the knee” would not come across well to Daenerys.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen's Justice

Respect

However, I was pleased that, despite the tension in this meeting and the issues that Jon and Daenerys had with each other, there seemed to be respect between the two by the time ‘The Queen’s Justice’ ended. Moreover, Daenerys’ decision to allow Jon to mine Dragonglass and make weapons out of this material is crucial for any successful outcome in the war to come against the White Walkers. I hope that the relationship between Jon and Daenerys will continue to improve and flourish as Season 7 of Game of Thrones progresses.

A character who is quickly becoming one of my favourites in this TV show is Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek). He is so confident and flamboyant that he is a joy to watch which is remarkable for someone who is supposed to be a villain. His conversations with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) are hilarious and a certain line left me howling with laughter. It was a great moment of humour. You can tell that Pilou Asbaek is having a great time in the role and, while I think he will die soon enough, I want to enjoy his performances for as long as possible.

Pilou Asbaek as Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen's Justice

Cersei Lannister

‘The Queen’s Justice’ was, for me, clearly about Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) who went to a different level in this episode of Game of Thrones. We saw just how evil she is. Now, there are some who have sympathy for Cersei……are you f*****g kidding me!?!? I have never, ever felt sympathy for her. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Cersei a lot, Lena Headey does a great job portraying this character and Cersei has gone through some bad things. But you cannot say that she does not deserve it.

Throughout Game of Thrones, she has shown herself to be a horrible, spiteful, selfish, cruel human being that is beyond redemption. ‘The Queen’s Justice’ proves this in spades. The punishment she bestowed upon Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and Tyene Sand (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) was awful. Granted, these two are not entirely innocent. However, I felt that their fate was a bit OTT yet it completely fits Cersei’s thinking. It was a very powerful scene which gave us more confirmation that Cersei has no morals and no mercy.

Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen's Justice

The End of Olenna Tyrell

Additionally, she does not care in the slightest if anyone finds out about her twisted relationship with Jaime and the events of this episode have put her in a very advantageous position in the War for Westeros. Indeed, Cersei has managed to get the backing of the Iron Bank and take out the threat of House Tyrell. Yes, sadly, Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) is no more. I mentioned in my review of ‘Stormborn’ how much I have loved Diann Rigg’s performance as Olenna Tyrell. She was one of my favourite characters in Game of Thrones and Olenna remained a bad-ass to the very end.

Her conversation with Jaime Lannister was a brilliant way to end this episode of Game of Thrones. For one, it proved that, despite his flaws, there is good in Jaime and that he is a likeable character when he is away from Cersei Lannister. Unlike her sister, he showed mercy to Olenna by giving her a quick painful death through poison. This showed how different he is from Cersei and the respect that he has for Olenna Tyrell. Though, I am sure he regretted his decision after learning from Olenna’s final words that she was the one behind the death of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), his son.

Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen's Justice

This was such a great way for Olenna Tyrell to end her time in Westeros. Even in her final moments, she still manages to have the last laugh and, potentially, worsen the relationship between Jaime and Cersei. The reason why this could happen is because Cersei firmly believes that Tyrion was responsible for Joffrey’s death. I feel as though she will not believe this latest revelation, simply because she is so determined to kill Tyrion that anything which could weaken her position in this matter will be disregarded as lies. I feel as though this will be a point of contention between Jaime and Cersei in the future and it could ultimately push Jaime further away from Cersei.

Reunions and Goodbyes

Obviously, the things that we have discussed above are the main talking points of ‘The Queen’s Justice’ but there were other great things to take from this episode of Game of Thrones. I thought the reunion between Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) was nice, even if Bran was a bit robotic and cold with his interactions with his sister. The complete opposite could be said for the scene involving Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley).

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen's Justice

I have really appreciated how, in such a short amount of time, these two characters have built such a great relationship. They both have incredible appreciation and respect for each other. Obviously, Jorah is in debt to Sam after being saved from a horrible fate. However, Sam’s connection to Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), Jorah’s father and former Commander of the Night’s Watch, is a driving factor in how poignant their relationship has become. I hope to see more of these two together and to also see Jorah reunite with Daenerys as I am sure he would be a valuable asset from a military perspective which is something Daenerys desperately needs.

Varys (Conleth Hill) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) had a very interesting scene. For one, it showed the disdain that Varys has for Red Priests/Priestesses such as Melisandre. More importantly, it confirms that Melisandre still has a part to play and her proclamation that both herself and Varys must die in Westeros was very foreboding. I am interested to see how this plays out as well as the other arcs that have been established. Overall, ‘The Queen’s Justice’ continues to progress to Season 7 to a point where it is becoming one of my favourite seasons of Game of Thrones.