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Game of Thrones: House Of The Dragon Review | A Thrilling Return to Westeros

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The reign of House Targaryen begins. House of the Dragon, the prequel to Game of Thrones, is coming to Sky and NOW in the United Kingdom and on HBO and HBO Max In the States on August 21. Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the series, which is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen. 

HBO is expanding the world of Game of Thrones. The all-new series is co-created and executive produced by Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal who’ve been tasked with breathing new life into the franchise three years after the original series came to an end. Throughout the eight seasons of GOT, we didn’t get to see much of House Targaryen after all, there was Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) the mother of Dragons and her older brother Viserys III played by Harry Lloyd. Both siblings were the final remnants of a fallen dynasty. 

However, in House of the Dragon, we witness the Targaryen dynasty at the absolute apex of its power, with more than 15 dragons under their yoke. The first season of the prequel sets in motion the famous event in Westeros history known as the Dance of the Dragons. This is a brutal conflict that takes place between rival factions within House Targaryen. It’s a time of greater decadence and influence and showcases the family during their golden age at a time when Dragons ruled the Seven Kingdoms and showcases Westeros as peaceful and full of prosperity during that time Kings Landing grew enormously. 

The first episode of House Of The Dragon introduces the essential story development and also the new lead cast of characters along with their relationships with one another. It’s epic in scope and scale whilst telling a more personal and intimate story about one family, showcasing both their love and disruption, we also witness the biblical propositions about the pursuit of power. 

HOUSE TARGARYEN

The Targaryens have reigned as rulers of Westeros for five generations, this prequel centres on Paddy Considine’s King Viserys Targaryen who was chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the old king, Jaehaerys Targaryen. Viserys is a warm, kind, and decent man who only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy. But as we’ve learned from Game of Thrones, good men do not necessarily make for great kings. 

His reign however is troubled and sparked by the lack of succession. His nearest heir is his younger brother Prince Daemon Targaryen played by Matt Smith, a dangerous and unpredictable rogue. He’s a peerless warrior and a dragon rider, Daemon possessed the true blood of the dragon. He rides a Dragon called Caraxes, and wields a sword called Dark Sister.

Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

The sole challenger to her unstable uncle’s claim to the Iron Throne is King Viserys’ first-born daughter. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen played by Milly Alcock (younger) and Emma D’Arcy (Older). She is of pure Valyrian blood and is also a dragon rider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man, she rides the dragon Syrax.

Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

HOUSE HIGHTOWER

Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) is the hand of the king, he’s a high-flying political creature educated in statecraft. He’s a pragmatist and a manipulator. He’s pitted against his king’s younger brother. His house is one of the biggest players in the Dance of The Dragons civil war, the Hightowers are the oldest and have been residing in Westeros for thousands of years. Their seat of power is Old Town, one of the biggest cities in Westeros. 

As Otto Hightower’s daughter, Alicent Hightower played by Emily Carey (Young) and Olivia Cooke(old) is extremely present in court and King’s Landing, she is the most comely woman in the Seven kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle. She possesses grace and political acumen.

She has an extremely close relationship with Princess Rhaenyra – though the pair often differ in their approach to matters regarding the Throne.

Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

HOUSE VELARYON

Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is Head of House Velaryon, a bloodline as old as House Targaryen. Also known by the moniker ‘The Sea Snake” the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world. The Velaryons were also a house from the freehold of Valyria, the mightiest empire in the west. since Aegon’s conquest House Velaryon has been sitting in the councils of House Targaryen. 

Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best) is a dragon rider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Queen Who Never Was” was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favoured her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male. something she clearly still holds a grudge about. ides the dragon Meleys. 

Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

These three houses start the show together under the same roof because it is the story of one family. viewers are likely to already know their way around Westeros after eight seasons of Game of Thrones, however, the majority of the action is confined to King’s Landing. The world-building is phenomenal and it’s nice to return to a familiar yet new world. And even though the characters are different we witness the same story narrative which is that the Iron Throne is the most dangerous seat in the realm. Throughout the ten episodes, you’ll get to see the brutality of medieval life and the challenges of patriarchal society. The writers are able to freely fresh out the characters and get support from the text.

The source material has the best fiction and showcases drama through its characters. House Of The Dragon is about these flawed human beings who are capable of doing good things, capable of doing monstrous things, capable of courage, and capable of cowardice. Both factions of the family do have valid points but also do terrible things to achieve their views with a black and grey morality.

We see this new world through the perspective of the two lead female characters as House Of The Dragon focuses on the patriarchy’s perception of women, and that the council which are all male would rather destroy themselves than see a woman sit on the Iron Throne. This makes the show feel more contemporary.

Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

DRAGONS

Hundreds of years before Daenerys Targaryen hatched Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, a dynasty of Dragons dominated the skies of Westeros. The first season promises to show at least 17 dragons and from what I’ve seen you shall not be disappointed. There is a very symbiotic connection between the Targaryen dragon rider and the dragon itself a skill you’ve got to master from an early age.

Each new dragon has its own personality and character traits. Caraxes the Blood Wyrm is ridden by Matt Smith’s Prince Daemon Targaryen, he’s described as a formidable huge blood-red dragon who is fearsome and battle savvy. Syrax is a she-dragon ridden solely by Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy/Milly Alcock). She has yellow scales and is huge and formidable but not as fearsome or experienced in battle as Caraxes.

Vhager is one of the three legendary dragons who first conquered Westeros, alongside Balerion and Maraxes. Sunfyre the golden is the most magnificent dragon to ever fly in Westeros He has these golden scales which shine in the sunlight.

The DNA of Game of Thrones is being kept alive through its score by Ramin Djawadi. You will hear themes that you’ll remember from the original show but the music is a foundation of House Targaryen with new themes for new characters. The clothes of that era are also very grand as they begin to mix metals and silvers whilst keeping the colours of each house.

VERDICT

House of the Dragon has all the elements we most love from Game of Thrones such as an expansive cast of interesting and complex characters and woven throughout are these intricate and twisted storylines, nuclear, bloody, and explosive action, whilst offering plenty of surprises. The Red Keep is bustling under the reign of the Dragons and King’s Landing feels so vibrant and alive. As all the Dragons roar as one, Fire will Reign.

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‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Adds Oscar-Nominee William H. Macy

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The Planet of the Apes trilogy headlined by Andy Serkis from the 2010s can be argued as one of the best trilogies of all-time. The technological advances made from motion capture helped actors completely transform into the apes with their interactions with human characters making the story rawer and more emotional. Now, 20th Century Studios will jump back into the world of apes with their latest, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Deadline reports that William H. Macy (Shameless, Fargo) will round out the cast for the newest chapter of the franchise.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes takes place many years after the conclusion of War for the Planet of the Apes being led by an entirely new cast that includes Owen Teague, Freya Allan and Peter Macon. Details are currently unknown on whether Macy will be playing a human character or an ape. The film series has grossed almost $2 billion dollars for the studio so it’s no surprise that they’re aiming to make more Apes fims. 

Macy is coming off his biggest role ever in Showtime’s series, Shameless for which he played Frank Gallagher and was nominated for 6 Emmy Awards for his performance over 11 seasons. Macy is also a former Oscar-nominee for his lead role in the Coen Brothers classic, Fargo. Since then, he’s amassed tons of parts including most recently in Hulu’s The Dropout and a guest spot on the ABC sitcom, The Conners. Macy will next appear in the film, Maybe I Do with Emma Roberts, Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. 

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Rawson Marshall Thurber to Headline ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Series for Paramount+

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Dungeons & Dragons seems to be the next major IP finding itself across multiple media formats. The move of bringing the iconic fantasy franchise will start in March on the big screen with the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, however, the TV series which has been in development has found its new streaming home. According to Deadline, the Dungeons & Dragons series will head to Paramount+ with Rawson Marshall Thurber (Red Notice, Skyscraper) writing the pilot and directing the first episode of the eight-episode season order.

The fantasy role-playing game has been ripe for an adaptation for years with many celebrities and actors being fans of the property since its inception. Honor Among Thieves already boasts a starry cast led by Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page and Michelle Rodriguez, but there are no details on whether the streaming series would feature any of their characters crossing over. Dungeons & Dragons is yet another franchise starter over at Paramount in the game of streaming supremacy which will join Halo on their streaming service having done great numbers for Paramount+.

Dungeons & Dragons features multiple creatures, elves, human warriors and other fantastical entities engaging in campaigns, wars and quests to build out their respective armies. The massive Hasbro property was acquired by eOne to develop a media universe across film and television making it a priority due to its popularity and fan base that features over 50 million players. 

Rawson Marshall Thurber most recently directed the Netflix action film, Red Notice starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds. He previously teamed with Johnson for Skyscraper and Central Intelligence, but his career began in comedy helming popular films such as Dodgeball and We’re the Millers. Before moving into features, he also directed the very popular online short, Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. The filmmaker has also been attached to Netflix’s video game adaptation of The Division which will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain.

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Henry Cavill to Headline ‘Warhammer 40K’ Series on Amazon Prime Video

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With much of the talk surrounding Henry Cavill regarding his exit from Netflix’s The Witcher along with the shift of mentality from new DC Studios leadership, the actor is in need of a new franchise to jumpstart. It appears that Cavill has done just that with the latest news that comes from The Hot Mic podcast via Above the Line.

It appears that Cavill (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) will steer head an adaptation of Warhammer 40,000 for Amazon Prime Video. Cavill confirmed the news this morning via his Instagram. The property started as a miniature war game akin to Dungeons & Dragons where players control different characters across a battle board, so to speak. The game was a staple in England where Cavill played it much as a kid and his passion for the property has stuck ever since. So much so, that the actor still paints figures to this day for when he engages in play.

The property which is often abbreviated to Warhammer 40K, features a fictional war set 40,000 years into the future between humans and other mystical beings that include orcs, gods, demons, elves, aliens and supernatural entities. The game eventually was brought to the video game space where it amasses tons of players across the sci-fi fantasy gaming landscape. The property also lends itself to novels leaving a lot of room to grow as a franchise in the entertainment space with lore to play with.

Amazon continues to take steps towards building out large franchise plays for their streaming service, Prime Video. In addition to the acquisition of the rights to Warhammer 40,000, the streamer has recently made deals for video game properties like God of War, with creators like Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) and of course, a 2022 that was massive for the streamer with the launches of the pricey Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Thursday Night Football. As they look to compete with Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services, it’s a clear shift from Amazon to take some bigger risks for bigger rewards. 

Cavill was most recently seen reprising his role as Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s Enola Holmes 2 starring Millie Bobby Brown. In 2023, Cavill will star in Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle which aims to kickstart a new spy-based franchise similar to Mission: Impossible which Cavill also appeared in. He will star in Argylle alongside an all-star cast that includes Catherine O’Hara, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, Ariana DeBose and Dua Lipa.

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