Season 6 has come and gone, depriving us, Game of Thrones fans, of Westeros for another interminable 7,056 hours. I, for one, don’t think I can wait that long. Even with six seasons awaiting our return, on HBO, I sadly don’t know if I can re-watch the series a fourth time. Instead, to help fill the void left by Game of Thrones, I have created a list of 5 solid movies that can help distract us from the despondency that accompanies the end of the season. WARNING to anyone reading this article, although I plan not to spoil anything about the show, if you don’t know what the Red Wedding is, it might be best to stay away . . . just in case.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and The Hobbit trilogy, if you love LOTR that much)
It almost feels like cheating to put it on this list. Even though Lord of the Rings boasts more species, the two series are eerily similar, both being fantasy worlds with complicated histories and a battle for the power to rule them all. Lord of the Rings is definitely more PG than Game of Thrones (there are no Dothraki marriages or Red Weddings), but it boasts action sequences that Game of Thrones could only dream of producing (although Battle of the Bastards was amazing). Of course the best (or worst) part about Lord of The Rings is that it will fill over 9 hours of time while you’re waiting for Game of Thrones. That, of course, doesn’t even include the director’s cuts or the entire Hobbit Trilogy (which isn’t nearly as good but still entertaining). All in all, Middle Earth is an investment similar to that of Westeros and a great way to push forward towards season 7.
Do you like the omnipresent symbolism of Game of Thrones, but could do without Tyrion’s constant chatter? Then, Valhalla Rising is the movie for you. Basically Game of Thrones without the dialogue, director Nicolas Winding Refn brings you on a journey back to 1000 AD, when Christianity was still on the rise and polytheism was on the decline. Without giving away too much of the story, the film follows a Norse warrior and a boy as they travel with Christian Crusaders towards the holy land. Including both fantasy elements and bloody violent action, no film on this list is quite as similar to Game of Thrones in terms of its most basic qualities. However, Valhalla Rising is definitely not for the people whose favorite part of Game of Thrones is the non-stop dialogue and complicated politics. This movie is very slow -paced and not for the impatient (including myself). It is also not for anyone who easily finds certain movies pretentious. Although I didn’t love Valhalla Rising, I definitely think all GoT fans should give it a chance. However, if you don’t like the first 30 minutes, you should probably move onto another movie on this list.
Kingdom of Heaven
I beg anyone reading this article to please pay attention: if you’re going to watch Kingdom of Heaven, DO NOT watch the original cut. Rather, watch Ridley Scott’s director’s cut. Scott has often had conflict with studios, which helps explain why three different versions of Blade Runner were released since the original theatrical cut. The director’s cut to Kingdom of Heaven is particularly special (even by Ridley Scott standards) and is the most significantly improved director’s cut I think I’ve ever seen. By adding over 45 minutes of new footage, Scott turns an overly-ambitious love story into a true epic worthy of its name. In adding an entire sub-story, the film comes together in ways no one could have predicted. With this movie, we again venture back into Christian history, except this time to the 12th century crusades. Boasting some of the most underrated CGI and battle scenes in modern film history, Kingdom of Heaven truly feels like it is on the same scale as Game of Thrones. For an R rated film, that is especially rare. Although it doesn’t have fantasy elements like GoT, Orlando Bloom as Balian is the closest thing I’ve seen in film to Jon Snow. A true epic, Game of Thrones fan or not, the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven is a movie everyone should see.
Did you enjoy “Blackwater?” How about “The Watchers on The Wall?” The only two episodes to entirely take place in one location since the series premiere, “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on The Wall” are still two of the most critically acclaimed installments of Game of Thrones. Personally, “Blackwater” is my favorite. Both of these amazing episodes were directed by Neil Marshall. He’s directed quite a few movies, but when going through his portfolio, it’s clear that his 2010 movie, Centurion, is the reason why David Benioff and D.B. Weiss took a chance on him in the first place. Again bringing us back in history, except this time, we go all the way back to 117 AD, we follow a group of Roman soldiers and their experiences before, during, and after the massacre of the ninth legion (an old roman legend). Neil Marshal’s Centurion proves his talent at taking relatively small budgets and turning them into brilliantly choreographed action sequences. On a 12 million dollar budget, Centurion feels huge in comparison and has action which either matches or surpasses that we have seen on Game of Thrones. It’s also beautifully shot and utilizes stunning landscapes so well that Game of Thrones should think about hiring Centurion’s location manager (if they haven’t already). In many ways, the film feels like a stand-alone episode of a GoT spin-off. The only issue is that there is no Tyrion Lannister or Jon Snow at the lead. Yet, Michael Fassbender again proves he’s one of the best actors in the world right now and serves as a worthy replacement to Peter Dinklage and Kit Harrington. He also has help from HBO alumni Dominic West (The Wire) and Ser Davos Seaworth himself (Liam Cunningham). Centurion may be lacking in depth and story, but it’s still a fun movie that Game of Thrones fans should have no trouble enjoying.
Black Death (Season 1 SPOILER Ahead)
With this final entry, we go back, one last time, to the history of Christianity. Unsurprisingly, Black Death takes place during the 14th century, at the time, of course, of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague epidemic). We follow Osmund (Eddie Redmayne), a young Christian monk, as he is tasked with leading a group of knights to a village untouched by the plague. Unknown to Osmund is that this village supposedly has been influenced by dark magic and is led by a necromancer. With fantasy elements, religious conflict, exciting action, and twists to rival those on Game of Thrones, this is a movie that any GoT fan can get behind. Yet, these aren’t the main reasons a Game of Thrones fan should watch Black Death. Alongside Eddie Redmayne, the film stars Sean Bean as Ulrich, a noble knight who isn’t in it for the riches or the honor, but because he serves god. On the opposite side, Carice Van Houten stars as Langiva, a witch that the town worships instead of God. I can’t tell you how much I still miss Ned Stark, with “Baelor” being one of the most surprising episodes in television history. It’s nice to see him face off against Melisandre (although she’s blonde this time), especially since Ulrich and Langiva are so similar to their Game of Thrones counterparts. Black Death may not be GoT, but it’s the closest film that’s allowed me to see Ned Stark again. A top notch movie, I hope that anyone reading this article will be willing to take out less than 2 hours of their day to watch it.
Did you love Season 6 as much as I did and can’t wait for Season 7? Do you think there is another movie that Thrones fans should watch to kill the time? Let us know in the comments.