Since its release in 2010, “Game of Thrones” has quickly grown into a worldwide phenomenon. However, like every other successful show, it has gained a lot of fans but also a fair share of critics. It is true that “Game of Thrones” isn’t the most profound show out there and the episodes don’t always match the same level of quality but, despite all of its flaws, there are still a lot of things to like.
First, there is the perfect incarnation of the complex world that George R. R. Martin has created in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series. The world of “Game of Thrones” is the modern equivalent of Middle-Earth and the way it was depicted in the TV show is, to say the least, impressive. But more important than the world are its inhabitants. With memorable characters such as Tyrion Lannister, Ned Stark, Jon Snow or Daenerys Stormborn, there was never a show to spawn such a great number of iconic performances like “Game of Thrones.”
The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” won’t air until 2019 and that seems like a great deal of time. To make your wait less excruciating, here is a list of 10 great films (or film series) you should watch in the meantime.
Please let us know in the comments if you are aware of other titles which should be on this list.
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
There’s a reason why the Lord of the Rings films have won 17 Academy Awards and are still regarded as some of the best fantasy movies of all time. Put together, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” form one of most epic stories you’ll get to watch on screen. Middle-Earth, the fictional world created by J.R.R. Tolkien where most of his works take place is – if you can imagine – even more complex than Westeros, and Peter Jackson’s trilogy features a perfect depiction of it.
From the green pastries of the hobbit-dwelled Shire to the greatness of Minas Tirith and the dark Tower of Mordor, the sceneries in the Lord of the Rings trilogy are absolutely breathtaking. Also, just like “Game of Thrones,” these films are filled with great characters, each one of them memorable in their own ways. If in “Game of Thrones” we’ve got the Night King and his army of White Walkers, Tolkien’s world features even more menacing villains.
Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, is the evil incarnated and his army of Orcs, Goblins and Trolls are just as frightening as the worst villains of “Game of Thrones.” And when it comes to heroes, you’ve got Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and the list could continue for a long time. If you think there are too many characters in “Game of Thrones,” take a look at “The Lord of the Rings” and consider that these films span under 10 hours and still manage to tell a story of epic proportions without feeling rushed.
If you like “Game of Thrones” and still haven’t watched the Lord of the Rings movies, you will have a blast. From big scale battles, larger-than-life characters, mythical creatures and eye candy sceneries, the trilogy showcases a lot of common aspects with HBO’s popular show and many will find Tolkien’s world and stories even better than G.R.R. Martin’s.
2. Braveheart (1995)
Winner of five Academy Awards in 1996, including Best Picture and Best Director, “Braveheart” is an exceptional film which, while not following the actual historical events too accurately, manages to tell the story of Scottish independence warrior William Wallace in a manner that is both emotional and empowering at the same time.
Mel Gibson, who also directed the film, plays the main character and, despite not really looking like a Scot, gives a great performance and carries the film from the first time he appears on screen until the very end. And aside from Gibson’s character, there are the amazing battle scenes, which reach “Game of Thrones” levels of violence and blood and are beautifully shot and choreographed.
“Braveheart” is the kind of film which grabs you just from the start and never runs out of steam. What sets it apart from other films and makes it even more similar to “Game of Thrones” is the fact that it makes you care for its characters. Yes, it is fun to see battles, ax-wielding warriors and brutal beheadings, but having some well-developed characters takes it from a good film to a great film.
3. Dragonslayer (1981)
In a recent article for The Daily Beast, “Game of Thrones” creator George R. R. Martin placed this 1981 mostly-forgotten movie on his top 10 fantasy films list. Talking about the film, Martin said that it is “surprisingly dark, and delivers some nice twists and turns along the way.” He also praised Vermithrax Pejorative, which he called “the best dragon ever put on film.” We have to agree that, for a film which came out nearly four decades ago, it still looks pretty great and that is mainly because the dragon was created using animatronic models and practical effects, a thing rarely seen in nowadays CGI-filled movies.
If you’re looking for fictional kingdoms, sorcerers, fire-breathing dragons and a great adventure story, “Dragonslayer” has them all.
4. Agora (2009)
At a first glance, “Agora” might not seem like a great choice for this list. Despite featuring some violent battle scenes, this is not what this film is about. Set in the late years of the fourth century, “Agora” follows Hypatia, a Greek woman philosopher, mathematician and astronomer from Alexandria who investigates the rotation of the Earth around the Sun and has to fight against the Christian opposers, who call her a witch and are against the heliocentric theory.
This film shares important themes with “Game of Thrones,” from religion and slavery to the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated society. Apart from being a well-acted film and the amazing depiction of Roman Egypt, the best thing about ”Agora” is its cerebral approach. Visually, this looks like a swords-and-sandal film, but it is far from being one.
5. Mongol (2007)
This 2007 historical war directed by Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov film explores the early life of Genghis Khan, famous warrior and founder of the Mongol Empire. The Mongols, who controlled most of Asia during Genghis Khan’s leadership, were the main inspiration behind Khal Drogo and the Dothraki horse-riding warriors from “Game of Thrones.”
“Mongol” really makes justice to Genghis Khan’s history and this is due to great performances from the actors, large-scale battle scenes, and cinematography which competes with Hollywood’s best.