Following the successful launch of episode 1, it has been confirmed that HOUSE OF THE DRAGON will be returning for a second season. The series available exclusively on Sky and NOW in the UK has received strong critical acclaim and multiple 5* reviews, being dubbed ‘Bigger, bolder and bloodier than Game of Thrones’ (The Independent) and ‘visually sumptuous’ (The Times). Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the series, set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen.
Zai Bennett, MD of Content at Sky said: “House of the Dragon is already proving to be a ratings hit, and we predict it will go from strength to strength due to the captivating storytelling and incredible production values. We look forward to sharing a second series with our customers on Sky and NOW.”
House of The Dragon Season 1 stars: Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno, and Rhys Ifans. Additional cast includes Milly Alcock, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Emily Carey, Harry Collett, Ryan Corr, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Graham McTavish, Ewan Mitchell, Theo Nate, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson, Phia Saban, Gavin Spokes, Savannah Steyn.
Season 1 credits: Co-Creator/Executive Producer, George R.R. Martin; Co-Creator/Co-Showrunner/Executive Producer/Writer, Ryan Condal; Co-Showrunner/Executive Producer/Director, Miguel Sapochnik; Executive Producers Sara Hess, Jocelyn Diaz, Vince Gerardis, Ron Schmidt. Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood.”
Game of Thrones: House Of The Dragon Review | A Thrilling Return to Westeros
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore | Breathtaking Visuals, Ensemble Cast and a Masterful Score
Warner Bros. Pictures Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the newest and third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise that truly recaptures the magic of a globetrotting adventure throughout the Wizarding World.
This magical adventure sends a team of unlikely heroes, led by Newt Scamander, on a mission that could spell their only chance to save both the wizarding and non-magical worlds. Each has a role to play in the covert operation devised by the ultimate wizarding mastermind, Professor Albus Dumbledore.
Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows that powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts in Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to lead this intrepid group of wizards, witches, and one brave muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore focuses on Albus’s past and answers questions we didn’t know during the Harry Potter films such as about himself and his family. Dumbledore has been one of the most major figures and a beloved character in the wizarding world for over twenty years. In the Potter books and films, Albus is charming, knowledgeable, mischievous, and all-knowing. These films showcase Dumbledore in a formative period, a period that will ultimately define the person he will eventually become.
Jude Law reprises the role of the wizard destined to be Headmaster at Hogwarts. He portrays the young professor perfectly and embodies the character and his flaws. With a glint in his eyes, there were a few nods to Harris and Gambon, especially the fatherly mischief each actor brought to the role. With Law, we’re able to unveil more of Dumbledore’s past and delve into his connection with Grindelwald as a young man and at the point where their relationship started to shift. Dumbledore is someone who encourages people to excel in their potential and abilities, but within him, he lives with dark secrets.
Many of the themes throughout the film focus on loyalty and misplaced loyalty, and also the ability to correct the errors one has done in the past and move on.
Grindelwald however is a wanted man due to his radical beliefs and violent tactics. In Secrets of Dumbledore, the powerful dark wizard has emerged from the shadows and is ready to implement his plot to gain control of the entire wizarding world and ultimately wage an all-out war on the Muggles. However this time he is not operating outside the law but within the system while twisting it to his own advantage, which makes him all the more dangerous.
Mikkelsen brings different elements to the table but is able to slip into the role quite naturally. He portrays Grindelwald with suave, charming charisma which certainly would convince viewers that anyone would be seduced by this alluring wizard.
Dumbledore is the one wizard with the power to thwart Grindelwald’s ambitions, however, there remains a physical manifestation of their previous relationship that stops him. The Blood oath is the embodiment of the bond between Gellert and Albus, an oath made through youthful passion and shared beliefs. Both wizards are each having to use others as means to opposite ends. Grindelwald cannot make a move against Dumbledore, but Albus is in the way of Gellert gaining absolute power.
Dumbledore formulates a plan that involves his friend and former student Newt Scamander, reprising the role of the Magizoologist Eddie Redmayne. We get to see Newt where he’s at his best and happiest- out in the wild, tracking beasts. Eddie is such a transformative actor and conveys Newt’s social awkwardness in contrast to his dexterity when he’s in the field.
Newt is joined by some familiar faces, including his older brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), Newt’s long-suffering assistant, Bunty (Victoria Yeates), Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and Muggle Baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). A new witch to the group is Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, a charming charms professor at the American wizarding school Ilvermorny, played by Jessica Williams. It is Lally who must convince the reluctant Jacob to venture back into the wizarding world. Willams’s charismatic performance as Lally is why her character steals every scene. She is forthright and moral but also funny and honest and really just brilliant, would definitely love to see more of her character.
These five disparate wizards, witches, and Muggle seem no math for Grindelwald and his entourage, which sadly now includes the love of Jacob’s life, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and the young man known as Credence whose real name was revealed in Crimes of Grindelwald to be Aurelius Dumbledore.
The ensemble also includes Richard Coyle as Albus’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore; Poppy Corby-Tuech as Grindelwald’s loyal acolyte Rosier; Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall; Oliver Masucci as Anton Vogel, the outgoing President of the International Confederation of Wizards; Maria Fernanda Cândido as Vicência Santos, running to replace him; Aleksandr Kuznetsov as Helmut, the head of the German Auror office; and Katherine Waterston, who briefly appears as Tina Goldstein.
The Secrets of Dumbledore also features a variety of magical creatures, both new and familiar such as the all-seeing Qilin, a mythological creature that is deer and Elk inspired. The Manticore is another beast that explores the fine line between comedy and horror. It resembles a cross between a crab, lobster, and a scorpion.
Newt is once again joined on the Adventure by Pickett, his brave and resourceful Bowtruckle, and the incorrigible Niffler, called Teddy is always the scene-stealer.
Fantastic Beasts continue the series’ tradition with the action taking place throughout new continents in the wizarding world. This globetrotting chase takes Newt and the rest of Dumbledore’s army from Great Britain to China, from New York to Germany, and from the Austrian Alps to Bhutan. We also return to the beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and to the nearby village of Hogsmeade.
My favourite sequence is set aboard a luxury train car with a large interior of a first-class carriage.
The final screenplay was also written by Steve Kloves, who has a long tenure in the Wizarding World, having also written the screenplays for seven of the Harry Potter films. He’s a welcome addition to Fantastic Beasts as he course-corrects this franchise back to its original magical roots. Composer James Newton Howard has once again created a phenomenal soundtrack that underscores each of the characters’ adventures.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was a FANTASTIC! globetrotting adventure through the Wizarding World. With breathtaking visuals, ensemble cast, & masterful score. Full of heart, humour, & plenty of magnificent creatures all deliver a Magical experience.
THE SPINE OF NIGHT | An Ultra-Violent, High-Fantasy Epic!
This animated fantasy-horror flick is guaranteed to melt your face off!
The Spine of Night is an ultra-violent, high-fantasy epic adventure that is reminiscent of sword and sorcery classics. Features mind-bending sequences thanks to its elements of dark magic and the film becomes a visual treat courtesy of its full-on brutality. Within the first moments, The Spine of Night grabs you by surprise as the rotoscope animation is pure artistry. And in the vein of Heavy Metal, the film pushes all the boundaries as it showcases visual storytelling at its best.
The Spine of Night takes the viewer through the centuries and to a medieval hinterland where fantasy fables. The story focuses on the thirst for knowledge, the lust for power, and ultimately the blaze of both. When an earthly dark power- a mysterious blue flower known as “the bloom” is stolen from its rightful caretakers, all of the mankind slip into an unending world of strife and darkness as the flower can create great abundance or be used to destroy. It’s up to a group of heroes from different eras and cultures to stop the one responsible and bring back balance to nature and mankind.
The Spine of Night functions somewhat as an anthology, we see a series of tales tied together by a common thread and told hauntingly and beautifully from the perspective of Tzod, a centuries-old swamp witch voiced by Lucy Lawless, her character naked with barely primitive clothing and gear braves this barbaric high fantasy by climbing through frigid conditions whilst ascending a mountaintop to speak to the flower’s guardian voiced beautifully by Richard E. Grant. What ensues is exchanging tales centred on betrayal, slaughter, and oppression. This gives the audience a deeper understanding of this universe and its capricious gods. Tzod uses the blue flower to perform hallucinatory rituals for her tribe, but its power is stolen by lord Pyrantin (Patton Oswalt), who has an army at his disposal and megalomaniacal ambitions. However, both are screwed over by a scheming necromancer who wants to take over the world until the flower itself begins to drive him mad. what begins as a simple desire for power becomes a genocidal crusade for death and destruction. Directors Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt deliver something spectacular.
The film doesn’t mess around when it comes to its depiction of sex and violence, the film at its best is full-on brutal with full-on nudity and graphic carnage. People are sliced and diced in some visceral sequences. The violence jumps out of the screen thanks to its exceptionally detailed, rotoscope animation. The backdrops are glorious as each sequence switches up its colour palette. Characters are brought to life through the rotoscoping technique with painstaking expressive detail. The filmmakers have achieved in making this world feel like a nightmare and have succeeded in indulging all the tropes such as fantasy, surrealism, imagination to make a fantasy epic, a first in adult animation.
The Spine of Night is available on Shudder from March 24th.
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