House of the Dragon: King of the Narrow Sea – TV Review

TL;DR – This is the episode of ‘rise and fall’, and several characters get caught in the wake.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.

Rhaenyra looks in frustration.

House of the Dragon Review

Even though House of the Dragon is a prequel to Game of Thrones, with the theme song blaring at the start of every episode, there was the question of how it would work tonally compared with its predecessor. But if there were any questions as to if both shows would be walking down different roads, that was answered today.  

So to set the scene, due to pirates raiding ships in the Stepstones and also a need to prove themselves in the eyes of the people Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) took their dragons and their armies to route out the threat. It was an abysmal failure. However, after receiving word that King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) was going to send his Navy to help save them, Daemon implements a dangerous plan devised by Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan) to draw the pirates out of their caves using himself as bait, and it worked. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.    

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House of the Dragon: The Rogue Prince – TV Review

TL;DR – While still mainly just politics this week, the world has come into shape, and those intrigues have weight.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.

Death on the stepstones.

House of the Dragon Review

There is one genre that I do particularly like, and it is a political drama. It is part of why I still think Deep Space Nine is my favourite of all the Star Treks because it didn’t move, so it had to deal with the politics of where it was. However, last week was mostly just politics, but it felt flat for me. I was wondering if the show would click with me at all, but this week gave a better chance at that.

So to set the scene, in last week’s The Heirs of the Dragon, we discovered a dynasty at the point of fracture. King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) was named the king in a contested succession, and while he has tried to be a strong king, many see him as weak. But tragedy struck when his Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) died in childbirth, and even a caesarean section could not save their child. With succession now being called into question again, the king finally cuts off his petulant brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and declares his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) as heir. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Without Remorse (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse) – Movie Review

TL;DR – In many ways, it feels like almost a relic of a different time. But there was a lot of work put into this film, and the cast is clearly here for it.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this movie.

Without Remorse (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse). Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Without Remorse Review

I am not sure that any modern author’s works have been adapted as much as Tom Clancy. From movies to TV shows to video games, the late author’s name is everywhere as his works of political intrigue get adapted and then readapted. His works are deeply political, so it is always interesting to see how it has been reinterpreted for a different time. Today, I look at the latest film adaption of his work with Without Remorse.     

So to set the scene, we open in Aleppo, Syria, as John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) and his team are sent sneak into a stronghold to rescue a CIA operative captured by government forces by CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell). However, when they arrive, it is not Syrian Government forces holding the officer but Russian forces. As they try to exfil from the building, an RPG splits the team, but they manage to escape. Three months later, John is in Washington DC with his very pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London), preparing to leave the Navy. Still, unknown to him, his old team is getting assassinated one at a time across America.

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Irresistible – Movie Review

TL;DR – Based on some strong character work, Irresistible is a riot of laughs from start to finish, but it still has something important it wants to say.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and end-credit scene

Irresistible. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Irresistible Review

It is rare for a film to catch me completely off guard these days. In the era of trailers giving most of the game away and the pretty standard plot structure that most films follow, you tend to know what you are getting yourself into before you sit down in the theatre. Well, today, I look at a movie that surprised me from the start and never let up.

So to set the scene, we open on the night before the 2016 Presidential elections where Democratic party representative Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) and his Republican counterpart Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) are giving their final pitches to the nation in the ‘spin room’. Well, we all know how that election turned out, and much like the literal depiction of a cannonball to the gut Gary is in a state of despair. However, a couple of years later as mid-terms approach he is trying to find a way to reconnect with heartland voters when he stumbles across a viral video of Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) in Deerlaken, Minnesota. Jack is standing up to the local Mayor Braun (Brent Sexton) over his stance on immigration. Gary has found his gateway to the heartland and flies to Minnesota and agrees to run Jack’s campaign for Mayor.

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TV Review – The Great: Season 1

TL;DR – This is a truly bizarre but entirely compelling show, that blends fiction and reality with a deft hand   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

The Great. Image Credit: Stan.

Review

A couple of years ago there was this odd film that exploded into the world out of nowhere, it was an exploration of Queen Anne full of intrigue and irreverence. When something like that blasts out into the world you try to find out what the creators will do next, so when I heard the latest series around Catherine the Great was writing by Tony McNamara one of the writers of The Favourite I had to give it a watch and it was a good choice.    

So to set the scene, Catherine (Elle Fanning) is a starry-eyed young noble who has had the fortune to be matched with the current Emperor of Russia, Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). She brings him a branch as a present of her love, living in this world of fantasy right up until the local archbishop ‘Archie’ (Adam Godley) checked to see if she was still a virgin. The realities of the Russian court were nothing like she had thought, with violence and bitterness at every turn. Still, she found comfort in her maid Marial (Phoebe Fox), the odd wisdom of Aunt Elizabeth (Belinda Bromilow), and the books of Orlo (Sacha Dhawan). Maybe she could find a place here in this strange land … or maybe yet, could not this strange land bend to her will. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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TV Review – Space Force Season 1

TL;DR – A show full of great actors and talent that unfortunately falls completely flat because it can’t pick a tone

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Space Force Season 1. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review
You would think a show that blends tow of my great loves, politics and space in the one show would be an instant hit for me. Well I do not envy the job the writers would have had on this job. You take one of (though by far not the most) stupid ramblings that was spat out on Twitter by the current President of the United States and turn it a slightly farcical spoof. The balance you would need to pull that off would be a high wire act and as we see today it does not work. Also, I should point out that if you are who has a passing understanding of space mechanics or current political system you will involuntarily cringe throughout the show.

To see the scene, General Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) is with his wife Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) and daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) in The Pentagon for a big day as he is being promoted to a 4-Star General in the Air Force. However, he is not being promoted to the head of the Air Force but the brand new Space Force in nowhere Colorado. One year later and while things are proceeding Mark’s life has not gone quite to plan with his wife now in prison and a POTUS that wants results and they are not ready to give them.  Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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TV Review – Total Control: Episode 1

TL;DR – This is one of the strongest opening hours of TV I have seen in years, with the first few minutes affecting me in ways I was not ready for.  

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

Total Control: Episode 1. Image Credit: ABC TV.

Review

A pilot episode of television has a lot it has to do. It has to set the tone, explain the setting, introduce you to the main characters, and find the drive for the whole season. I have seen a lot of TV show pilots in my time and even shows that are fantastic can fumble parts of this very important introduction. Well, today I look at a show that nails every single element in its 50 minutes run time.

So to set the scene, we open in on a tragedy where Alex Irving (Deborah Mailman) is thrust into the national spotlight after a video goes viral. Alex shuns all media request for interviews but she has caught the eye of someone important. Soon there is a knock at the door and Jonathan (Harry Richardson) who works for the Federal Government arrives at Alex and her mother Jan’s (Trisha Morton-Thomas) house in Winton in country Queensland. He is there with an offer for Alex to take over the seat of a Senator that has just died. She declines, saying that if Prime Minister Rachel Anderson (Rachel Griffiths) wants her to be a senator then she can come and ask herself, which is exactly what she does. For here we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Article – Why Voting Systems Matter

TL;DR– When everything is even what system you use to tabulate the votes will have a marked change on the outcome.

Article

Throughout the year in my other job I have been teaching classes on Political Science, specifically Australian Political Institutions. On the week where we discussed voting systems one of the things that we mention is that how you chose to formulate your electoral systems can have dramatic impacts on the outcome of elections i.e. who gets what seats in parliament. However, while this was clear I didn’t have a good example to show. Well, I had some free time at the end of the year and this question had been bugging me so I decided to work through the data myself to see if there was such a big difference and it does, boy does it ever. Now, for those who are not familiar with Australian Politics, we have presented a little primer next, as well as a general overview of the project, but if you are familiar you can skip down to the data below. 

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Movie Review – Chappaquiddick

TL;DR – A film that exposes what is at the heart of politics, power and privilege, and how you can use that to get away with

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – No end credit scene

Chappaquiddick

Review
In the late hours of July 18th, 1969, a car drove off the side off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. There were two people on board and only one survived and so would start a political scandal because the one that survived had the surname Kennedy. For those who might not know, which is fine by the way, the Kennedys are a political dynasty that has been a key factor in American politics since the 1930s including the 35th President of the United States. Today we are going to explore an incident that had the potential to destroy that political dynasty.

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