House Of The Dragon: The Princess And The Queen

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A time jump highlights the breakdown in relations between Alicent, played by Olivia Cooke, and Rhaenyra, played by Emma D’Arcy, meanwhile Daemon, played by Matt Smith, grieves.

I think again this was a slower paced episode but also one that featured a lot of great performances. Emma D’Arcy is magnificent in every scene they are in, and can communicate a great deal with even the smallest facial gesture, Cooke is also excellent and her character is quickly becoming a love to hate villain.

I thought the Dameon side plot was a little out of left field, but it was nice to see him actually happy with his lady wife as it adds some greater depth to his character. I do think the asides the episode makes to check in with his character slow it down a lot and not in any kind of good way.

The final battle/ red wedding esque fire scene was a very fitting end for the episode and really helped to make it feel as though things are ramping up as we head into the final few episodes of the season.

Overall, a good episode but definitely slower and less interesting than some of the others.

Pros.

Exploring new depths with Daemon

D’Arcy

Cooke

The ending of the episode

Cons.

It is quite slow paced

Some of the breaks away to focus on Daemon’s new life feel quite dull

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The Sandman: Bring Me A Dream

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Morpheus, played by Tom Sturridge, the Lord of the Dreaming is captured and kept in isolation for a century, once he escapes he finds things have fallen apart in his kingdom and need to be restored.

I am a big, big, big fan of the Sandman comic, and also of its author Neil Gaiman as such I have been eagerly awaiting this show for a long time. The reason this review is quite past the time of the series release is because I wanted to reread the comic run along side watching the episode of the show, as such things were slowed down but I don’t regret it for a second.

Never before have I seen an adaptation which so perfectly brings the comic book it is based on to life. As I was reading the comics in between watching episode I saw whole series of panels be brough to life almost identically and I think that is one hell of an achievement. Likewise the casting is spot on, Sturridge is a fantastic Dream, Boyd Holbrook perfectly captures the Corinthian and Jenna Coleman and Gwendolyn Christie bring fantastic new takes on characters that I was really quite attached to in Sandman but also their own Vertigo comic runs.

My only criticism of this show, and it is minor, is that some of the new additions for the show that veer ever so slightly away from the comic do produce somewhat of a jarring effect. Like I said before most of the changes, updates and swaps work incredibly well but a few don’t luckily I could ignore it for the most part. Furthermore, the first episode is quite slow, but I suppose it had to be to be able to bring in a casual audience that knew nothing going in, I was expecting it to hit the road at full speed but that was perhaps a little rash of me.

Overall, easily the best thing on Netflix in years.

Pros

The casting

A new take

Bringing over panels seamlessly

The ending and things to come

Cons.

Some of the changes don’t work

The first episode is quite slow

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House Of The Dragon: We Light The Way

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Rhaenyra, played by Milly Alcock, gets married and battle lines are drawn.

I think this was another great episode of House Of The Dragon. The opening of Daemon, played by Matt Smith, killing his wife was absolutely chilling and reminded us of the monster that he really is. Couple this with the marriage brawl murder later in the episode and we really get quite a lot of violence and mayhem here.

I thought the courtroom intrigue was possibly stronger here then it was last week. I like that the show is very clearly laying down roots, you can see the future planning happening. I think the character work here is also really strong and several characters get a nice amount of development.

If I had one criticism of this episode it would be how much focus they give to Alicent, played by Emily Carey, and her fixation on Rhaenyra’s virginity. I feel like in GOT the character would have used this information to their advantage and not acted shocked for the whole episode, which came across almost as a mixture of naivety and slut shaming. It made Alicent very easily hateable.

Overall, the show is really hitting its stride.

Pros.

The opening Daemon scene

The wedding sequence

The future set up

The ramping tension

Cons.

The way they write Alicent

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Pinocchio: Chapek Is Spitting On The Disney Vault

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another unwanted live-action remake of a classic Disney movie.

As soon as this was announced I knew it was going to be bad, but boy howdy did I not realise just how bad it was going to be. Disney has been churning out these soulless remake for a while now and for some reason people are still watching them, maybe it is part of a masochistic new TikTok trend.

I think the worst thing about this film is that its CGI looks straight up horrible, it looks like something from several decades ago and is frequently distracting. I understand that Disney and their various studios are having a hard time with VFX talent, but come on these effects are nowhere near finished and it shows. This is probably why they dumped this on streaming because they know it wouldn’t fly in cinemas.

Moreover, this film reflects the continued downswing of Tom Hank’s career with his performance here being almost as bad as his one in Elvis earlier this year. It is not just Hanks as no one seems to be turning up for this film and it really shows, the cast just don’t care.

I won’t bother saying how this film never does anything to justify its existence as I find that to be self-explanatory.

Overall, if it is a Disney live action remake it is best avoided.

Pros.

It makes you appreciate the original film

Cons.

It has some of the worst effects of the year

The performances are awful

It feels rushed and unready for release

The pacing is noticeably bad in many parts of the film

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House Of The Dragon: King Of The Narrow Sea

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Daemon, played by Matt Smith, returns to court and Rhaenyra, played by Milly Alcock, hits the town.

Things slow down a gear, but that doesn’t make this a bad episode. It is far more intimate and character driven than some of the previous episode we have had and we get a far greater exploration of Rhaenyra as a character.

I enjoyed the sex positive approach this episode took and think that we should see more content like it, for too long young women have been taught to repress their sexual urges and to be chaste, old fashion sounding but surprisingly common practice, so I think it is a good thing that Rhaenyra takes what she wants here in a sexual sense.

I also thought the complete destruction of Otto Hightower, played by Rhys Ifans, was very satisfying. All season long he has been slimy so it is nice to finally see him get his, even though he will probably be back at it in the next episode.

My main criticism of this episode would be that it was the first to really struggle with its pace in a major way and that by having such a personal focus there are a few boring sequences.

Overall, an episode that does a lot right but that also struggles with its pacing.

Pros.

The sex positive approach

The destruction of Otto Hightower

The character focus

Matt Smith is great again

Cons.

The pacing

A few needless asides  

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Three Thousand Years Of Longing: Idris Elba Topless For Almost Two Hours

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A woman, played by Tilda Swinton, meets a djinn, played by Idris Elba, and the experience changes her life.

I think the trailers for this film are misleading, they make it seem whimsical and fun when in actual fact there is a quite a sad and melancholic tone that runs throughout the film. In that vein you are never quite sure whether anything that is happening actually is or whether it is actually Swinton’s character slipping into mental illness as such there is a quite an unsettling aspect to proceedings. It will be one of those instances where how you choose to see the film will determine what you take from it, but for me the lead’s mental illness was clear and that took away a lot of the joy for me of this film and actually made it quite sad and depressing.

Moreover, though usually Tilda Swinton is a gifted performer her performance her leaves something to be desired. This is main due to the fact that the Northern accent she is trying to do is quite frankly awful, Swinton is laying it on far too thick and as someone from that neck of the woods I can say with confidence that it is laughably bad.

The only reason that this film got a point from me is because some of its more absurdist comedic leanings made me laugh, believe me this is not a funny film by any means but there were one or two laughs that worked for me.

Overall, not an enjoyable time at the cinema.

Pros.

A few laughs to be had

Cons.

It is depressing

It is unsettling

Swinton’s accent is awful

It is badly paced

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House Of The Dragon: Second Of His Name

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The question of who Rhaenyra, played by Milly Alcock, will marry continues to be an issue and Daemon, played by Matt Smith, wins a blood soaked victory.

I truly think that with this episode House Of The Dragon fully manages to live up to the high standard set by the peak of Game Of Thrones. The battle sequence towards the end of the episode with Daemon is truly a majestic feat of television and is as visceral as it is captivating. The episode really comes alive during this part.

I also enjoyed the focus this episode placed on the relationship between Rhaenyra and her father, played by Paddy Considine. I think it is nice to see such a progressive character on Game Of Thrones and it is heartening to see a character within this setting not force their daughter into an unhappy marriage. I think much like the Daemon sequence captures the action of peak GOT, these quieter court scenes also capture the other half of GOT at its best as well.

Overall, a fantastic episode of television, my only complaint is that we couldn’t have had more of it.

Pros.

The Daemon action sequence

The scope and intensity

The quiet court scenes

Putting a focus on the relationship between Rhaenyra and her father

The ending   

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The Rings Of Power: My Experience And Why I Won’t Be Reviewing It, Beyond The First Episode

1.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A new Middle Earth saga begins, one that will leave few happy.

So this will be part review part what went wrong. If you can’t already see, I didn’t enjoy my time with the show.

Let’s get the obvious low hanging fruit out of the way first, yes there is a lot of quiet clear forced diversity in the show, as that seems to be the only thing Hollywood wants to do these days, and yes all of the male characters that Galadriel, played by Morfydd Clark, comes into contact with are weak and stupid and whilst both of these things are mildly annoying I would not say they are the main issue.

I think the thing that made this first episode so hard to watch, indeed I had to watch it in parts because I could only stomach about 20 minutes of it at a time, is the pacing. The pacing is simply awful, not only does very, very little happen but the episodes are on for way too long and drawing out the episodes only further highlights how empty they are.

Honestly, I don’t think this show needed to exist, I think Amazon made it to try and have their own Game Of Thrones after The Wheel Of Time didn’t turn into what they wanted it to be, and I think that is very clear in every frame. For the record I don’t think this show will ever hold a candle to Game Of Thrones unless they make drastic changes to it, which they won’t.

Overall, sadly this show was what a lot of people feared it might be, needless.

Pros.

The visuals are good but you would expect that for the money spent

Clark makes a good Galadriel

Cons.

The forced in identity politics

The pace

The lack of anything really happening

It doesn’t justify its existence

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House Of The Dragon: The Rogue Prince

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Prince Daemon, played by Matt Smith, further builds his power as King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, is forced to seek out a new wife.

I think this episode builds on the strengths of the last and doubles down on the intrigue. It is still not quite on the level of Game Of Thrones at its peak but it is starting to come into its own for sure.

I think Matt Smith is still the scene stealer, however Milly Alcock’s Princess Rhaenyra is starting to also approach his level. The dual dragon stand off that happened towards the episode was really tense and impressive, I think the scene worked without the dragons even needing to fight: the scale and VFX on display really landed.

I also liked that the final moments of the episode introduced us to a new big bad for the series, whether they are only a minor season villain or something bigger remains to be seen, however, it does now allow the story to have more to drive towards. Hopefully this new villain can be developed further in the coming episodes.

Overall, a strong second episode that keeps the promise alive.

Pros.

Dare I allow myself to hope again?

The Dragonstone sequence

The new villain introduction

Smith and Alcock continue to be stand outs

Cons.

Some of the King’s Landing scenes were a little too slow paced.  

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Luck: Mindless Slop That Isn’t Worth Your Kids Time

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Unlucky Sam, voiced by Eva Nobelzada, discovers the world of luck.

I have written before about the fact that often animated films aimed at families and children don’t feel the need to try to be good or to match the standards that people would expect from films with the idea that children will eat up any old slop, and this really does embody that idea.

In many ways this film feels dead behind the eyes and truly soulless, there is nothing of meaningful substance here, instead it just went through the motions and churned out tired fantasy tropes that we have seen again and again. They also force in some songs for who knows what reason, probably because a focus group recommended it, and in these song and dance numbers we get another good luck at again studio executives trying to pander to the youth of today in the most cringe way.

I think the vocal performances across the board were nearly consistently terrible, with Nobezada sound bored and asleep at the wheel with the line delivery of low battery robot and Simon Pegg doing his best Mike Myers as Shrek impression. I am a huge fan of Pegg as an actor but I question why he was cast here, he really doesn’t bring much to the film and someone possessing a real Scottish accent who is also a talented voice actor say someone like James McAvoy could have done a much better job of it.

Overall, don’t subject your kids to this, they won’t look at you the same way afterwards.

Pros.

It is pretty bad but it is not unwatchable or offensive

Cons.

Nobelzada

Pegg

The story is stupid and contrived

The songs

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