Tag Archives: Lena Headey

300 (2006) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains graphic violence
Cast:
Gerard Butler as Leonidas
David Wenham as Dilios
Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo
Giovanni Cimmino as Pleistarchus
Dominic West as Theron
Director: Zack Snyder

In 480 B.C. a state of war exists between Persia, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

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While Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead was really well received, the movie that really got him particularly noticed and put him on the map as a director to watch was 300. His visual style and direction was fantastic, and all around 300 is a very enjoyable movie. Although some of its aspects don’t hold up well over a decade later, there’s enough here to keep you really engaged and entertained.

300 is based off the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller (which I haven’t read myself). This movie is quite straightforward and simple: lead character Leonidas leads 300 Spartans against the Persian Army. Not to say that this movie is any lesser because of this, really it’s all done rather well. Despite the amount of scenes filled with screaming and exposed muscular men stabbing each other repeatedly, it’s not just a shallow and violent movie, it does have some emotion and drama behind it, so that you care about what’s going on, instead of just watching a bloodfest.

The acting generally is quite good. Gerard Butler was well suited for his role of King Leonidas. His performance of course does have some ham to it (I don’t even need to get into the “This is Sparta” bit) but it really works for the movie, and just makes it more entertaining. It’s undoubtedly a very memorable performance and it was perfect for what it needed to be. Lena Headey was also great in her screentime as Queen Gorgo. Apparently in the comic book, Gorgo only appeared in the beginning and in the movie they expanded her role much more. While she’s not in large battle scenes like Leonidas and the Spartans, she still gets to play a part in the story, and Headey of course plays it all really well. Rodrigo Santoro was a good villain, he’s quite larger than life but something about his performance works for his character (given that he believes he’s a god), and he’s really effective as a hateable character. Other supporting actors like David Wenham and Michael Fassbender also good, and get to shine in some particular moments.

Zack Snyder is known for his visual style and storytelling and watching 300 it’s no wonder that this is what really put him on the map as a director to pay attention to. It makes sense knowing that this is based off of a graphic novel, but there are many shots and sequences that look straight out of a comic book (which is something that Snyder does quite a lot). The cinematography by Larry Fong is beautiful and just stunning to look at. The action is so gratifying and really entertaining, definitely one of the most stand out and iconic aspects of the movie. I think Snyder does use slow-mo a little too much but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It was the first movie to really utilise it as a very present component of the action (outside of The Matrix), before way too many movies tried to replicate that and not doing it as well. This movie is very violent and bloody, and it’s stylised and once again made to look like it was from a comic book. I will say that parts of the movie don’t hold up, that being the green and blue screen in some scenes, which occasionally can look really fake and does take you out of the movie briefly. This movie admittedly does have some messy parts to it but the other aspects (especially on the technical side) make up for it. The soundtrack by Tyler Bates only increased the epicness and scale of the whole movie.

300 is visually stunning, entertaining and quite good all round. I wouldn’t consider it one of Zack Snyder’s best but it’s still a pretty good movie. There’s not denying that it was defining for it’s time and really inspired the way that future action movies would be directed (for better and for worse). If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d personally recommend watching it for the visuals at the very least.

Game of Thrones Season 8 (2019) Spoiler Review

Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Kit Harington as Jon Snow
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth
Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei
Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy
John Bradley as Samwell Tarly
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark
Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth
Conleth Hill as Varys
Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
Jerome Flynn as Bronn
Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane
Joe Dempsie as Gendry
Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm
Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont
Hannah Murray as Gilly
Carice van Houten as Melisandre
Creator: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss

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I’m aware that my review of this season is quite late, but I wanted to post my thoughts about it, because it’s become quite the source of controversy and debate. Game of Thrones Season 8 was one of the most highly anticipated pieces of media to come out this year, I’m a fan of the show and so I was definitely looking forward to it. However, this season has divided its audience to say the least, particularly the back half of the season has caused a lot of conflicts and outrage. The season is disappointing for sure, and I get a lot of the criticisms, but I don’t dislike it.

This is the first time I’m doing a spoiler review for a TV show, I just don’t think I can go into much depth with how I felt without doing so, especially with it being the final season. HBO offered D&D (Game of Thrones showrunners and writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss) 10 episodes but they turned them down and settled on having 6 episodes instead, and I think everyone can agree that this was the biggest problem with the season. I’m not going to get very pointy and accusatory about it, but it is worth pointing out that after this show, their next project will be a Star Wars movie, and it did feel like they wanted to get this season over with pretty quickly. The biggest example of the rushed feeling is after the White Walkers are dealt with in the first half of the season. While I would’ve liked the direct conflict with the Walkers to be more than just one episode (the first two episodes of setup before the third don’t count), this shortage of episodes is evidence in Episode 4 “The Last of the Starks”. It’s a good episode on the whole, but it’s wrapping up the aftermath of the battle at Winterfell before suddenly going into Daenerys getting ready to take King’s Landing. Not to mention halfway through it cuts to them sailing to King’s Landing the same episode they started out at Winterfell. We are used to characters having to take more than an episode to get from one place to the other even when the recent seasons started reducing their episode numbers, so it was really jarring. Then there’s that buildup to Daenerys’s controversial turn, or lack thereof. I’m not going to be on that side of people who said that her rampage was completely out of character, nor will I be one of the people who says that it was foreshadowed and already set up perfectly. I’m in the middle on this and really I see both sides. It makes somewhat sense that she’d be going down that path, and I’m pretty sure that she’s always going to end up going there. However, it feels like there was some development missing before the massacre at King’s Landing. Granted Tyrion’s explanation to Jon in the cell in the finale does sort of put things in perspective. Nonetheless I really would’ve liked to see the development of it all, and an episode before Episode 5 “The Bells” at the very least would’ve at least somewhat set it up better.

Generally, the acting has been good in the show but this season really everyone brings their A game to their performances, no matter the handling of their characters. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is as usual great and one of the standouts. His character ever since season 5 really hasn’t been as smart as he once was, yet this change in character is made work by Dinklage. He’s particularly great in the last two episodes of the season. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister is also really good as usual, he’s really gone on such a long journey and changes these past 8 seasons. With that said, much has been said about his choice in episode 4 to return back to Cersei, and yeah, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some mixed feelings about that, even if it seems to makes some sense. Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister unfortunately only appears in a few episodes, and I really would’ve liked to have seen her serve as more as a direct threat to Daenerys, instead of just waiting for half the season and being killed off a couple episodes later. Still, with the little that she’s given she does a lot. The character that was mistreated the most this season though was Jon Snow. Kit Harington tries his hardest and is good in a few moments, but he’s really let down by the writing. Almost half his dialogue is “You are my queen”, “She is my/our queen”, “The Night King is coming”. I get that he’s in love with Daenerys and all that, but with the exception of the last episode he really has no motivation outside of just doing what she wants. He basically has no drive throughout and much of who we saw in the previous 7 seasons aren’t here. He has two in character decisions this season, the first being to tell everyone about his heritage, the second being making the final decision to kill Daenerys, outside of that he just felt like a glorified extra. If we are talking about the character that really needed this season to work better though, it was of Bran Stark, especially considering the final episode. Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright definitely plays the role exactly as it was written, but again, it’s really the writing that’s the problem. Bran really just doesn’t come across as human. I get that he’s the Three Eyed Raven now but it would’ve worked better if we could even see a semblance of the old Bran, even if he was changed. I mean even Max von Sydow’s Three Eyed Raven seemed more human. It made Bran unlikable and no doubt made it very difficult to accept him becoming king at the end.

Characters I didn’t really have problems with included Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Rory McCain as Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane, Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, and Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth, and they played their roles well. Turner especially has come a long way since the first season. However, the standout performance of the entire season was Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen. When it comes to her acting the past seasons, some people have been a little mixed on her performances (even though I thought she was already pretty good). However, she really gave it her all here. Then the last half of the season when Daenerys seems to take that dramatic turn, Emilia genuinely sells that side to her, and without it I’m not entirely sure I’d be on board with her change without her work. It’s made even better considering how Emilia wasn’t exactly on board with how Daenerys would be acting, yet she brought everything into her performance.

The direction of the show has generally really good, and that still applies this season. Highlights were episodes 3 and 5. The Battle of Winterfell was big and bloody and among the best battle episodes in the series. However, I’ll be one of those people and say that they definitely needed to turn up the brightness (though it wasn’t that bad). As for episode 5, I’ll admit that I heard about what Daenerys does before I even got a chance to watch the episode. However, I didn’t know that it would be an utter massacre. It really places you right there as everything it happening, especially when it places you from the perspective from Arya, ‘Plot Armor’ (or whatever it is now) aside, it’s like a Children of Men esque scene where you see the horror of everything from someone right in the carnage. The score by Ramin Djawadi is the most consistently great thing in the show, it’s always been good but he’s really delivered here, with some of the best songs in the entire series being from this season.

As this is the last season, I’ll talk about the last episode of the whole show and my thoughts on it. I did read the ‘leaks’ about the last episode and I wasn’t even that surprised by what I saw. However I do like that The Iron Throne was destroyed, one of the things not in the leaks. The first half of the episode was great and fitting, slow building and showing the aftermath of the destruction. I know some people didn’t like it wasn’t bold and dramatic, with a bunch of conflict, but I loved that everything felt much more lowkey and personal. After Daenerys is killed by Jon however, it does a time jump and things felt weird. They wrap everything up really quickly, but it feels drawn out, like they are aware of the runtime and so try to make scenes longer than they have to be. Not sure how it’s possible to make a choosing of someone to be King to be a little drawn out and almost boring but this episode achieved it. Which brings me to another thing, Bran becomes King. Now the idea didn’t seem absurd (and it seems like it was George RR. Martin’s plan anyway), however it’s how Bran was shown these past episodes that made it really hard to accept. As I previously said, the problem is that he’s barely human, so I’m not even sure what the point was, even if he was intended to be just a figurehead while Tyrion and the council actually run the kingdom. I mean Bran seemed much more interested in finding the final dragon than actually being King. In the end, most of the plot decisions makes sense, and many of the characters were at fitting places in the end. Even Jon’s ending, which although presented as rejoining the Night’s Watch, seemed much more like him becoming The King Beyond the Wall. It just felt like something was missing. With that said, with every ‘improved fan ending’ that I come across, I just appreciate the ending we actually got. It’s underwhelming for sure, but it actually feels like an ending for the show and not just fanservice.

So yes, I will say that Season 8 of Game of Thrones is a bit of a disappointment for me. The fact that everything was rushed was the largest contributing factor to it. Both this and season 5 are probably the worst seasons (at least season 8 didn’t have that subplot in Dorne). Despite all of the problems in this season (and there are many), I can’t say that I’m entirely unhappy about how the show ended. There are some great parts, performances are great (Emilia Clarke the MVP), the direction and particularly the large scale battles are great, and while the execution and the lead up to it was rocky, I wasn’t against the direction the show went in at the end. If you haven’t watched the show and are still reading this review, I still say that the show is worth checking out. Even though the show has been slowly declining, the first 4 seasons are fantastic and even the ones following them are still pretty good as well. I don’t regret getting invested in this show and I’m looking forward to seeing the planned spin offs.

Dredd (2012) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd
Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson
Lena Headey as Ma-Ma (Madeline Madrigal)
Wood Harris as Kay
Director: Pete Travis

Mega City One is a vast, violent metropolis where felons rule the streets. The only law lies with cops called “judges,” who act as judge, jury and executioner, and Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of the city’s most feared. One day, Dredd is partnered with Cassandra (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities. A report of a terrible crime sends Dredd and Cassandra to a dangerous area controlled by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a drug lord who will stop at nothing to protect her empire.

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Dredd had a lot of potential to fail. There had been a Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone in the mid 90s, which while enjoyable as a guilty pleasure, isn’t very good. Dredd was a surprise to many including myself, it had all the elements of a very solid action flick fun time, and from what I can tell its an accurate representation of Judge Dredd. One of the most underrated action movies in recent years.

This movie is very straightforward, it’s just our main characters going from room to room while hoards of enemies hunt for them. Now I’m not a Judge Dredd comics fan but I could tell that the original Judge Dredd was more of a Sylvester Stallone action flick than an actual Judge Dredd movie. Dredd is truly a Judge Dredd film. The world is really nicely realised, it is a grim and dark world, the R rating really helped the movie go deeper into it. I was entertained throughout, from the set up at the beginning to when the film actually kicks off, which is when our protagonists are actually facing endless amounts of people trying to kill them and it doesn’t let up. There isn’t anything wrong about the film that I could pinpoint, it has great protagonists, a threatening antagonist and an interesting world, everything that Dredd needed.

Karl Urban is Judge Dredd, that’s all I can really say. He is ruthless, badass and unrelenting, and no, at no point do you see him without his mask. This movie really isn’t a character study or anything like that, so don’t expect a lot of character depth with his version of Judge Dredd, but it worked very well for the movie as it was a straightforward action movie. Olivia Thirlby is also really good as a rookie judge with Dredd, who does have psychic powers, those two worked together well as our main characters. Lena Headey makes for a great villain, ruthless, sinister and brutal, she stole every scene she was in. Also the way she plays the role and reacted to certain situations made her have such a strong screen presence.

Dredd surprisingly only has a 30-45 million dollar budget, making it a much smaller film than you’d expect. However that budget was used well because this film is directly greatly. The action is great, it is very violent and pretty much how I would imagine a Judge Dredd film would be. This film also involves slow-mo, and they find a way to make slow-mo actually make sense, as there is a drug literally called slow-mo that slows down the brain of whoever takes it and it was portrayed so well on screen. The R-rating is not always necessary but sometimes it is really needed to fully make the movie they want. This is one of those cases. The film is brutal and dark, definitely far from the Stallone cheesefest from the 90s, and I loved it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dredd, the actors were great in their roles, the action is good. This film isn’t revolutionary, I don’t think I’d consider it one of the best action films of the 2010s, but for what it was trying to be it succeeded very well. I have no idea if they are making a Dredd sequel but I’d love to see one, I wanna see more of the world that they portrayed.

The Purge (2013) Review

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The Purge

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Ethan Hawke as James Sandin
Lena Headey as Mary Sandin
Adelaide Kane as Zoe Sandin
Max Burkholder as Charlie Sandin
Edwin Hodge as The Stranger
Tony Oller as Henry
Director: James DeMonaco

In 2022, the United States of America celebrates once a year “The Purge”, a 12-hour period when any crime is allowed including murder. The result is an economical growth and society free of homeless, sick and unproductive persons. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a successful salesman that sells security systems for the houses. He lives with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and his teenage son Charlie (Max Burkholder) and daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) in a house in the suburb. During the purge, James seals his house, however, Charlie sees a stranger (Edwin Hodge) fleeing from a group that is hunting him down and he disarms the security device and lets the man in. But the leader of the group (Rhys Wakefield) gives an ultimatum to James: if he does not deliver the man to the group, they would kill the whole family.

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At first glance, The Purge seems interesting, with the purge aspect potentially leading to an interesting plot if it’s handled right, however in this case it isn’t. These two elements are a bad mix which end up with an absurd and at times stupid movie with a badly written plot.

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The biggest flaw I feel is the actual idea behind the purge everyone says that the purge works but I just don’t get it. The way that many people on some news screens talk about, they seem to say that the reason crime exists is that we have to ‘release the beast’ that’s inside of us. I also can’t get how having a 12 hour crime free time works and everyone is going by the honours system and not committing any crimes. Another big flaw is that you can tell that this film could be a home invasion movie without this purge aspect, in fact it would’ve been better. They also take this thing seriously, if it was satire I could see how it would work but that’s not the case. Even the pacing isn’t that good. The first act isn’t interesting at all and the second act of the movie is the family looking for this one homeless guy with no tension. The characters make very stupid decisions, like when the daughter runs off further into the house when the lights go out (when the family should stay together). The villains are also just over the top goofy, they are just dancing and mucking around in front of the camera for about half of the movie and are apparently supposed to be ‘creepy’. I do wonder why they are focussing on getting this one guy, they have 12 hours to do pretty much do what they want but this guy is apparently so worth their attention. When they finally get into the house they become quite possibly the dumbest house invaders ever by just messing around. This film’s plot really does deconstruct itself and is one of the worst attempts at being smart.

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Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey do the best with what they have in this movie, however the kids weren’t that great. There is one redeeming aspect of this movie which is Rhys Wakefield as the leader of the gang. He tries so hard to act evil and his hammy performance is at least entertaining to watch.

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On the technical side, The Purge doesn’t really have any problems. The shots are well set up, the lighting is effective, and soundtrack is fine, but it isn’t enough to take away the flaws of the story.

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The Purge is a failed attempt at a cross between a smart film and a home invasion movie. The film is well shot and the soundtrack is fine but besides that, this movie didn’t work at all. The characters are poorly written and its very premise is flawed. I’ve heard that its sequel is better so at some point I’ll give it a chance but I can’t imagine it being that much better this film.