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The Winter King Premiere Review

In fifth century Britain at the dawn of the Dark Ages, a vicious and temperamental monarch exiles his bastard son after a tragic loss in battle. The Winter King, adapted from The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell, is a bold and bloody retelling of the Arthurian legends. A written prologue sets the stage as warring tribes of Christians and Pagans struggle to unite against formidable Saxon invaders. The premiere of this new MGM+ series gets down to savage business early with a brutal opening scene. You’re hooked from the start as the protagonist’s journey begins on a truly harsh note.

A despondent Arthur (Iain De Caestecker) weeps over a body at the Battle of White Horse Hill. Owain (Daniel Ings), his best friend and brother in arms, begs for them to retreat. The Saxon ambush could be regrouping. Arthur leads a solemn caravan of dead and wounded to the fortress castle of Caer Cadarn, the capital of Dumnonia. He will personally present the corpse of Prince Mordred to his father. Owain warns that’s a bad idea, but Arthur accepts responsibility for his half-brother’s death.

High King Uther Pendragon (the underrated Eddie Marsan) stares at the body of his son and heir with boiling anger. The gathered lords and tribal kings remain silent as Arthur stands in judgment. Everyone gasps as Uther punches Arthur in the face. He falls to the ground with blood dripping from his nose. Uther berates Arthur as a worthless bastard and “son of a who*e.” He rains further blows on Arthur before asking for his sword. Owain tries to speak up but is quickly rebuked. Arthur presents his sword to Uther and kneels. Morgan (Valene Kane), Arthur’s half-sister and another Uther bastard, trembles in fear.

Eddie Marsan as High King Uther Pendragon
Eddie Arsan in The Winter King on MGM


A lone voice halts the execution. Merlin (Nathaniel Martello-White), a Pagan mystic, leader of Avalon, and Uther’s trusted advisor, has a less severe punishment — exile Arthur from Dumnonia. Uther’s already lost one son. The Gods would be displeased if he sacrificed another.

Uther pauses before dropping the sword and beating Arthur to near unconsciousness. He orders the bastard tossed outside the castle gate. Arthur’s dragged unceremoniously away with a saddened Owain. Arthur begs for a last moment with his friend. He points to a map of divided Britain. Owain must get through to his father and rally the surrounding tribes. They are doomed against the Saxons otherwise. But back in the throne room, Uther venomously admonishes the other shocked kings as cowards.

The graphic first act establishes Arthur’s fealty to his father and Uther’s merciless nature. The premiere follows with further critical exposition by introducing key supporting characters over several time jumps. Arthur rescues an injured Saxon slave boy struggling to live after a Silurian raid. He brings him to Merlin at Avalon before vanishing. Derfel (Jordan Dark) is cared for by Merlin’s gifted apprentice, Nimue (Lily Williams). We then see Derfel (Stuart Campbell) and Nimue (Ellie James) eight years later as young adults in love. The plot starts to take shape as these characters grapple with the aftermath of Arthur’s long absence.

Related: 20 All-Time Best Fantasy TV Shows, According to Rotten Tomatoes Score

The Winter King hints at supernatural elements without diving full-fledged into the fantasy realm. This isn’t a world of dragons à la Game of Thrones. Merlin can see glimpses of the future through touch. Nimue, a new take on the Lady of the Lake, is a nascent Druid priestess who can communicate with the Gods. She and Merlin have visions that point them in the right direction and illuminate the intentions of those they encounter.

The forbidden romance between Derfel and Nimue seems to be an early key source of tension in the storyline. Merlin warns she must remain chaste or her incredible powers will be lost. It’s a sentiment echoed by Morgan, who tells Derfel to stay within his station. Class divisions are rigid and must be strictly followed.

Arthur and Merlin’s Reunion
The Winter King with Merlin MGM+

The Winter King has a racially diverse cast. It follows in the footsteps of Bridgerton by reimagining famous English period characters. A Black Merlin who doesn’t have a wand, pointy hat, or long white beard is a welcome new interpretation of the famed wizard. Martello-White portrays Merlin as a politically astute player and shaman whose range of abilities haven’t been defined. I have a feeling the premiere gives just a taste of what Merlin can actually do.

Related: 21 Shows to Watch When You’re Missing Merlin

Arthur’s gone for a majority of the hour-long first episode. Every character except for Uther (with his blind arrogance) realizes Arthur is their best hope against the Saxons. There was some difficulty understanding names outside of Arthur, Uther, Merlin, and Morgan. I had to wait for the credits to dictate Derfel, Owain, and Nimue. The accents are strong, but you’re never confused about who’s playing what character.

The Winter King doesn’t overload with gratuitous carnage, sex, or nudity. Impaled bodies look disturbing but aren’t gushing entrails. Primary director Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood, Peaky Blinders) depicts the time period with a relatively straightforward approach. There’s nothing exaggerated about the production design, settings, and costumes. Arthur won’t be pulling Excalibur from a stone here.

A standout aspect was the focus on emergent Christianity challenging Pagan beliefs. Merlin accurately sees this new religion as a threat to older beliefs. Uther’s principles are more fluid as the primary antagonist is revealed, the groundwork for intrigue and deception laid bare by “keeping enemies close.” The Winter King has a solid premiere that bodes well for the 10-episode first season. Marsan steals the initial show with a terrific performance.

The Winter King is a production of Bad Wolf, One Big Picture, and Sony Pictures Television. New episodes premiere Sunday nights exclusively on MGM+.

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‘I am officially off the market’: When Margot Robbie revealed she made the ‘conscious’ decision of not dating actors

Margot Robbie revealed her decision to not date actors because of the media scrutiny that came with a public relationship of two high-profile actors
Back in 2015, A-lister Margot Robbie made a declaration that she would not be dating any actors. The actress may have alluded to her fiance Tom Ackerley, who she married the following year in 2016. In an exclusive interview with Marie Claire, she revealed that being in a relationship as an actor herself came with its own set of challenges. She believed that dating someone who was popular would add on to the media scrutiny.

Margot Robbie opened up on why she made a conscious decision to not date actorsTalking to Marie Claire, she claimed, “I am officially off the market.” She then shared the reasoning behind her decision and added, “I made a conscious decision not to date actors.” She continued to explain, “But not because I hate actors. That’s a nasty generalization to make, and that’s not the case. People take such an interest in your love life when you have a profile, it puts a lot of stress on a relationship.”
The Barbie actress continued, “So two people with profiles, I figure it’s just double the amount of scrutiny, and I’d like to avoid that at all costs.” This came after reports of her locking lips with Tarzan co-star Alexander Skarsgard started making rounds. It was reported that she was caught kissing the actor during the Sundance Film Festival.

Margot Robbie revealed she opted for a minimal lifestyle even after becoming an actorIn the interview, Robbie also opened up about how she was adapting to fame. She shared, “I have a normal 24-year-old life. If I were a waitress, I’d probably have the exact same lifestyle. I’d go to the same clubs I go to already, live in the same house with the same housemates, hang out with the same people.”
However, Margot Robbie tied the knot with Tom Ackerley who is an English producer and actor. The duo met on the sets of 2013 movie Suite Francaise where Tom was working as an assistant director. Post marriage, both of them launched their production company LuckyChap Entertainment.

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Monica Bellucci and Tin Burton at lunch in the restaurant in Selci Lama

For All Saints’ Day, the Hollywood star from Tiferno returned to his native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and then visit his parentsOn the occasion of the All Saints’ Day celebrations, the Hollywood star of Tiferno origin, Monica Bellucci, returned to her native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and to visit her father Pasquale and her mother Brunella.Flanked by her current partner Tim Burton, she went to lunch, together with about twenty old friends, at the Osteria del Musicista, which has always been her favorite restaurant, in Selci Lama.Menu dedicated to typical dishes of the area, which includes an appetizer with breadsticks lined with coppa, duck in porchetta and grilled pork livers, polenta with wild boar sauce accompanied by the very typical cappelletti in broth.To conclude, a dessert based on fried “ciaccia” with Nutella and roasted chestnuts.
Having paid the bill and greeted the restaurant owner and lifelong friend, Roberto Polchi, Monica brought home cappelletti and broth for a family dinner.

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‘Rocky’ Was Quite Different In His Original Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone Claims

Sylvester Stallone took his friend’s advice on a rewrite of the original screenplay to Rocky. A few tweaks later, he was on his way to major success.
In the new Netflix documentary Sly, Stallone discussed how he initially conceived of the project, which had a much harder edge. In the early version, Rocky was depicted as a “thuggish” character, inspired by Martin Scorsese’s crime drama, Mean Streets.

But Stallone’s perspective changed when a friend read the script and thought the boxer was too cruel for audiences to actually care about him.
Stallone recalled her crying.

“She goes, ‘I hate Rocky. I hate him. He’s cruel. He hits people. He beats them up.’”
Stallone took it to heart, and asked what he could do to soften the character.

“I said, ‘what if you stop short of it?’ Like, maybe he almost did. He could have, that’s his job, but he doesn’t?’ ‘That’d be nice,’” he added. “I said, ‘What if he had a girlfriend or something?’ ‘Yeah, that’s nice.’ So I go back, start writing that: ‘Girlfriend. Nice.’”
$117 million in box office later, a franchise was born.

Stallone also revealed that actor Dolph Lundgren sent him to the hospital during one fight scene in Rocky IV.
“Dolph Lundgren… he pulverized me,” Stallone says in the documentary. “Later that night, my heart started to swell—which happens when the heart hits the chest—and then my blood pressure went up to 260, and they thought I was going to be talking to angels. Next thing I know, I’m in intensive care, where I’m surrounded by nuns, and I thought, ‘OK, that’s curtains.’”
Stallone was in the hospital for nine days following the incident, praying for “one more round.”
“For the first minute of the fight, it is going to be a free-for-all,” Stallone told Lundgren. The Swedish actor joked in a separate interview that all he did was “obey orders,” explaining, “[Stallone] was the boss. I did what he told me.”
Doctors allegedly told Stallone that he received a blow to the ribs that made his heart rattle around in his ribcage, a condition typically seen in head-on collisions. “I did hit a bus, of sorts,” Stallone joked.

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