Handless corpse: Gruesome demise of Mr Asia mastermind
Reading and Ashcroft were members of the Newton-le-Willows sub-aqua club. Advertisement A grainy picture shows police hauling Marty Johnstone’s body from the Delph Quarry. Photo / Lancs Live “At first we thought it was a tailor’s dummy,” 22-year-old Ashcroft told the Liverpool Echo. “It was only when we got close, we found it was a body and had no hands, our stomachs turned.” Though the body was not identified immediately, police knew this was a lot more than just evidence of a murder and it was widely reported that the killing was a “gangland-style” execution. The victim, a powerfully built male, who could have been aged between 25 and 35, had severe stomach and head wounds, and was handless, preventing any fingerprint identification. The quarry is near Chorley. Photo / Lancs Live He was 1.88m tall, suntanned, had good teeth, a neatly trimmed moustache, and shoulder-length brown hair. Not the typical look of a man from Lancashire. Three cars were also pulled from the quarry and forensically checked but police were keen to tell the public it was commonplace for stolen cars to make their way to the bottom of the quarry. In fact, when it was drained in 1999, hundreds of cars were found beneath the water. Soon after the body was discovered police launched a murder inquiry involving more than 80 officers. Police spokesman Ray Rimmer said: “We can’t say at this stage what caused the wounds to his head and stomach but either could have been sufficient cause of death.” Advertisement Advertise with NZME. That mystery was soon solved. On Tuesday, October 16, it was revealed the man had been shot in the head. Officers believed the shot had been fired from close range, probably using a revolver. When the Delph Quarry was drained in 1999 more than 200 cars were discovered. Photo / Lancs Live According to pathologists the man also had several knife wounds to the stomach and his hands had been hacked off after death. Police were eager to follow the trail of the strange medallion, sure that it would lead to the feet of the killer. Rimmer, leading the investigation, could not rule out the possibility the medallion had been placed around the victim’s neck as some sort of macabre joke by his killers. Police began to follow the trail of the Chinese symbol and visited several specialist shops in Liverpool to try to source it. This yielded few results. A team of officers visited Walton Gaol in Liverpool, hoping gangland killers or criminals could shed a light on the victim, but the criminal underworld was not willing to play ball. By October 26, two weeks after the body was discovered, several questions still remained: Who was the victim? Why was he killed? Where did the murder take place? One thing was certain, he was not meant to be found at all. His clothes were gone, and his hands; his mouth was a mess where someone had attempted to smash out his teeth. Any identifying marks had been stripped away making it more and more likely that the medallion did not belong to the victim but had been placed about his neck. This Chinese medallion and a picture of a man’s face were circulated in several newspapers papers as police searched for Johnstone’s killer. Photo / Lancs Live B y the end of October every police force in Great Britain and Northern Ireland was circulating images of the man found in Delph Quarry. The stretch of idyllic Lancashire countryside had become known across the country for the grisly discovery and police were fast running out of ideas when it came to finding the killer or identifying the body. On October 26 Rimmer told the media he was surprised no one had recognised the victim’s distinctive looks and suggested he might have changed his appearance to avoid detection. What they didn’t know then was that the man fished out of the quarry was caught up in a complex and far-reaching drug trade.
T erry Clark, known by several aliases – Terry Sinclair, Alexander James Sinclair, Tony Bennetti, the Australian Jackal and Mr Big – was a New Zealander who ran a violent and prolific heroin trade involving Britain, Australia and his native New Zealand. But he didn’t run the operation, based in Singapore, alone. The other man running the operation alongside Clark, had been given the name “Mr Asia” in several newspaper articles about his exploits in Auckland. He was Christopher Martin “Marty” Johnstone. Terry Clark. Photo / Herald archive Back in England, police had a breakthrough on November 2, almost three weeks after the body was discovered, when former beauty queen Julie Hue and her friend Barbara Pilkington walked into Leyland police station in early November and told police who the dead man was. The man was 27-year-old Marty Johnstone from New Zealand, Hue’s boyfriend. She had been on holiday in Spain with Pilkington when Johnstone was murdered. She was told he was on business in New York and couldn’t be contacted, but had grown suspicious and then alarmed when he failed to call her on her 22nd birthday. Hue also told police that her boyfriend had met his fate at the hands of one Andrew Maher from Leyland, the common-law husband of her friend Pilkington. Terry Clark. Police told the Mirror they were 99.9 per cent certain the body was Johnstone, and described him as a “New Zealand businessman dealing in drugs”. Already they were forming theories about a power struggle going wrong and reported they had held 28 people from across Lancashire under suspicion of murdering Johnstone. Australian officials were on their way to Chorley, keen to establish whether the so-called “Kiwi link” existed. Actor Dan Musgrove playing Marty Johnstone in Underbelly NZ: Land of the Long Green Cloud. Photo / Supplied By November 5 the case had been blown wide open. Days after Johnstone was identified, armed police were used to protect five men who appeared briefly in Chorley Magistrates Court to answer charges of killing Johnstone. James Smith, 27, of Livingstone Scotland, Frederick Charles Russell 38 of London and Keith William Kirby of Clayton Brook, Lancs were the less significant figures standing trial for murder. The names that stood out were Andrew Samuel Maher, a 26-year-old from Leyland and a New Zealander, based in London, called Alexander James Sinclair. Andrew Mahger was ordered to kill his friend Johnstone. Photo / Lancs Live The case would become the most expensive and heavily guarded in British history. On November 8, police searching a river in Scotland found a severed right hand. A pathologist later linked it to Johnstone allowing the police to formally identify their victim and slot together a crucial part of the story.
C lark and Johnstone had first become acquainted in the 1970s when Clark was already a multimillionaire drug-runner. Johnstone moved from New Zealand to Australia where he teamed up with Clark and also met Maher. The trio formed a syndicate, smuggling drugs from Thailand into Australasia. At its height, the operation saw vast amounts of cocaine and cannabis transported by boat across the world while the three men set up companies in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Clark was not a soft touch. He routinely murdered those who blabbed to the police in Australia. Mounting police inquiries after the discovery of two bodies in a shallow grave in Australia, forced Clark and Maher to leave for England, avoiding the authorities – and working on the premise that exporting drugs to Britain could also be lucrative. With the move, and the distance between them, Clark started to cut Johnstone out of the deals. Musgrove with Edith Poor who played his girlfriend Bonnie Marie Jones in Underbelly NZ. He also switched from dealing in cannabis to heroin, transporting drugs by plane and leaving Johnstone in his wake when it came to the modern trade. Johnstone and Maher, in contrast, were close friends; Maher naming his daughter Marti after his best mate. But the two would soon be ripped apart. In 1979, Johnstone flew to London to visit Clark who gave him $50,000 to find a new source of heroin. On August 1 that year, Johnstone went to Pattaya, Thailand, eager to complete a heroin deal. But he was tricked by the Thais who took $35,000 for one bag of heroin. Knowing Clark would be happy to cut his throat for such an indiscretion, Johnstone panicked and mixed the 700-gram sample bag he had bought with caster sugar while in Bangkok. At this point Clark had lost patience with “Mr Asia”. Johnstone was flashy, keen to splash his cash but had done very little of the dirty work and now was haemorrhaging money from the organisation for little gain. Clark and Johnstone were also cocaine addicts and paranoid to boot. They didn’t trust each other and their organisation was buckling under the weight of multiple murders, backstabbing, bust deals and now this. Mr Asia and Mr Big were soon to go from a duo to a single entity and Clark was keen to bump off his partner now rather than later. Maher, still only 26, was tasked with carrying out the killings. Fearing for the safety of his wife and daughter, he agreed. Other associates were roped in to source a weapon and to help cover their tracks. Russell, from London, supplied the gun. It had been brought to London in a shoebox by 16-year-old Karen Pidgeon, the daughter of one of Clark’s chauffeurs. Kirby, of Clayton Brook, was one of Maher’s friends from school and supplied the weights and rope used to bury the body underwater. The plan was simple. Meanwhile, a paranoid and scared Johnstone, with a bag of caster sugar and $15,000 of Clark’s money, would be put in touch with a Glasgow contact who could supply him. Scotland would become Britain’s heroin capital in the 1980s, so a deal there made sense. Johnstone arrived in England, and on October 9 he and Maher set off for Glasgow. They drove up the A6 on the pretence of driving into Scotland and securing a drugs deal. Matthew Newton played Terry Clark in Underbelly. Pictured with Anna Hutchison. Photo / Supplied At some point, perhaps near Carnforth, north of Lancaster (the location is still not exact), Maher stopped the car, before shooting Johnstone in the head at point-blank range. He and Smith took the body back to Maher’s garage in Robin Hey, Leyland. Keen to remain undetected, the two men set about butchering the body, using an axe to slice off Johnstone’s hands before taking a lump hammer to smash out his teeth. However they were unable to deal much damage to Johnstone’s gnashers. They slashed open his stomach to ensure that he didn’t float and tied the weights, supplied by Kirby, to the body. The corpse was roughly folded into Maher’s Jaguar and taken to the quarry, where it was pushed in. Johnstone’s grave in the Chorley Cemetery. Photo / Supplied T he five men appeared in Chorley Magistrates Court again on May 19, 1980, but the formal trial didn’t begin until January 1981. One hundred witnesses were to be called and the Crown Court at Lancaster Castle was heavily guarded by police. The Liverpool Echo described it as a “siege fortress” with more than £100,000 of security organised for the proceedings. Eight days into the trial Maher admitted that he was given a ‘kill or be killed’ ultimatum by Clark before he shot Johnstone. He would later plead guilty to the charges. In April, Clark told the court that he was “no lily-white angel” but was not guilty of the crime. Unfortunately, by this point, prosecutors in Britain and Australasia were sure that he was Mr Big and continued to try to prove that to the jurors. Marty Johnstone. Photo / Lancs Live On July 15, 1981, 123 days after the trial began, Clark was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a 20-year recommendation. The same sentence was handed out to Maher, while Smith, Kirby and Russell all received life sentences for their part. In his closing notes the judge called Clark “ruthless and dangerous”. But within two years he was ruthless, dangerous and dead – having suffered a heart attack in prison in 1983. Maher must have behaved badly because he served more than 20 years behind bars and died there in 2011. Advertisement
Amazon fires: Why is the world’s largest rainforest burning?
Fires rage in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, known affectionately, albeit not exactly accurately, as the lungs of the Earth, and the citizens of the world, including European and United Nations leaders, have been worried. Are the fires natural? Are they criminal? Are they caused by climate change? And what does the “Trump of the Tropics” have to do with it?
What’s happening in the Amazon? Large expanses of the Amazon were set ablaze mid year and smoke reached urban centres such as Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte hundreds of kilometres away, alarming residents.
The Amazon rainforest covers 5.5 million square kilometres over several countries: from the middle of Brazil to Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana to the north; and Peru, Colombia and Ecuador in the west. The Brazilian Amazon forest accounts for 60 per cent of the total Amazon and spreads over nine states, the larger of which is, confusingly, also called Amazon (Amazonas in Portuguese).
There was not one large bushfire but thousands of fires spread all over the Brazilian Amazon – in particular, along the southern edges of the rainforest where it reaches into Para, Mato Grosso and Rondonia states.
Advertisement This year through November 5, 77,239 fires were detected in the rainforest, home to 10 per cent of all known plant and animal species. That was up 31 per cent from a year earlier, according to data from the National Institute of Space Research, known as INPE. Still, the pace of new blazes has slowed from a peak in August.
Loading Illegal land clearing is a grim reality in Brazil – graziers, miners and large industrial farming concerns have been clearing land in these states for decades to satisfy demand for soybean crops, cattle grazing and gold and other minerals. Agriculture is the biggest factor in deforestation. But the record number of fires detected by the Brazilian Space Agency INPE in the first seven months of this year, the satellite images and the smoke have brought the issue to the world’s attention.
The effects have been felt well beyond the rainforests. Brazil’s mega-metropolis Sao Paulo (population 21.5 million, area 7900 square kilometres) went dark in the middle one afternoon in August. It is some 1400 kilometres away from the forest. A frenzy of social media posts, hashtags, accusations and media articles followed, making claim and counter-claim about the cause of the phenomenon.
A satellite photo of the upper Amazon River basin burning on August 15. Cleared pastoral land is clearly visible in various degrees of deforestation compared with the forest (left of screen). Credit: Maxar/AP
Hysterics aside, it appears some of the smoke from the Amazon fires did reach Sao Paulo and other areas in the south-east, following the natural path of the Amazonian “flying rivers”. It created a smoke cloud corridor seen in satellite images moving south-easterly. Meteorologists, however, are cautious about pointing to the smoke as the only cause for the darkness. They say it was more likely it met a cold front and created the unusual darkness.
According to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, the fires have led to a clear spike in carbon monoxide emissions as well as planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, posing a threat to human health and aggravating global warming, The Washington Post reported.
The Brazilian Amazon. Credit: Shutterstock
Why is the Amazon so valuable? By some accounts, the rainforest sequesters some 70 billion tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide , benefiting the entire planet. It stores some of this in the soil, working as a carbon sink. Through photosynthesis, it transforms the rest into oxygen, which is pumped back into the atmosphere.
The rainforest also produces copious amounts of moisture – water vapour that falls again locally as rain but that also travels in what is known as “flying rivers” or atmospheric rivers. These air currents carry Amazon moisture to the rest of Brazil, parts of South America and, according to some scientists, across the Atlantic to parts of Africa and Europe where, in turn, it brings on rain. Former Brazilian environment minister Jose Sarney Filho says this moisture system makes Brazil not the lungs of the world but its air-conditioning.
When the forest burns, it not only stops removing harmful gases from the atmosphere and producing oxygen and rain, it actually produces more carbon dioxide, adding to pollution and greenhouse gases.
Are the fires the result of climate change? Advertisement Everything that happens in the Amazon affects and is affected by the planet’s climate. Tropical rainforests enjoy two, rather than four, annual seasons – the dry and the wet (some scientists say this used to be “wet and wetter”). It is mostly moist all the time, except for deforested areas, which are now experiencing less rain and, consequently, less water volume in rivers. Some areas have had to curb irrigation, and food production has been affected. But the Amazon is not in drought.
The dry season is, however, the most efficient time of the year to conduct “queimadas” or burns. For thousands of years, indigenous people have used queimadas selectively to grow food without burning down the entire forest. The queimadas, seen from space in modern times, are deliberately lit for land redevelopment – mostly illegally.
A satellite image of the Brazilian rainforest on August 15. Credit: AP
From January to July, INPE recorded more than 74,000 burns in Brazil, half in the Amazon, compared with slightly fewer than 40,000 the same period last year – an increase of 83 per cent. This compares to nearly 68,000 blazes in the same period in 2016, when the nation suffered severe drought conditions resulting from a strong El Nino.
INPE’s satellite images spotted 9507 new forest fires in the Amazon over five days just last week.
“There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” INPE chief scientist, fire surveillance, Alberto Setzer told Reuters. “The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”
Danilo de Urzedo, forestry engineer and PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, has spent years studying the Brazilian rainforest and working to reverse deforestation by planting. He says an increase in greenhouse gases helps increase temperatures in deforested areas, in turn heating up the soil, contributing to the spread of fires and the degradation of water quality.
Advertisement “Tropical forests are also very sensitive to global changes in temperature and to increased greenhouse gases. It’s all interconnected,” he said.
Members of the the National Centre to Prevent and Combat Forest Fires fight a fire in the Xingu Indigenous Park in Mato Grosso in Brazil. Credit: Ibama
How did the fires start? Evidence points to agricultural businesses. Indigenous leaders and activists have been warning about the destruction of the Amazon for decades. In fact, the last time the world was as concerned about the destruction of the Amazon was in 2004 when it hit peak deforestation rates. Concerted efforts from indigenous leaders, activists and environmentalists then saw the government adopt a number of mitigating policies, including the establishment of leading-edge, real-time monitoring systems, some partly funded by European countries.
From 2004 to 2014, Brazil enjoyed a 70 per cent decrease in deforestation, according to Urzedo, as a direct result of the government’s environmental policies and the oversight of countries such as Norway and Germany through the Amazon Fund . But from 2014, an economic and political crisis coincided with a rise in deforestation, culminating in the current numbers after the election of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Urzedo says the fires are definitely not a natural phenomenon. He says it reflects the areas cleared for pasture and recent changes in Brazilian environmental politics.
“Fires can start naturally in the areas where the Cerrado joins the tropical forest, but they reflect the areas that have already been cleared to turn forest into pasture,” Urzedo said.
Advertisement “The areas are illegally chosen – first for trees of large economic worth, sold illegally, then the fires open up the land, then comes the conversion from forest to grazing land for farming.”
An illegally deforested area in Brazil’s Amazon basin. Credit: AP
What did Brazil’s leader, Bolsonaro, say? Under pressure from the media and the international community, Bolsonaro first suggested “greenies” started the fires to make him look bad. Asked for proof, he offered none.
The controversial far-right leader, known as the Trump of the Tropics for his antics and disregard for convention, fired the director of Brazil’s space agency at the start of the crisis because he distrusted the agency’s statistics. He dismissed alarming reports as fake news and INPE’s numbers as lies.He called the fires “criminal” but cast doubt on who lit them.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tells reporters NGOs were upset at funding cuts and “may or may not” have started the fires. Credit: Agencia Brasil
French President Emmanuel Macron on August 23 called the fires an “international crisis”. “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20 per cent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” Macron tweeted.
Bolsonaro dismissed the comments as “typical colonialism”.
Bolsonaro’s election promises included opening parts of the Amazon to economic development. He is a declared climate sceptic and has threatened to follow USPresident Donald Trump out of the Paris climate accord.
Since his inauguration in January, many safeguards have been dismantled to satisfy the ruralist faction in Congress. Several environment and indigenous protection agencies and associated institutes have been disbanded, had their resources cut or personnel redistributed, contributing to a lack of focus on policing and an understanding by landowners that it was OK to press on with what they believe to be economic progress.
Bolsonaro even attempted to fold the Environment Ministry into the Agriculture Ministry but reversed the decision after an outcry.
In November, Reuters reported he annulled a 10-year-old regulation that had banned the expansion of sugar-cane planted in the Amazon , in a wetland savanna called Pantanal and in indigenous and reforested areas, according to a resolution published in the country’s official gazette. At the same time, fires also were ripping through the biodiverse region, consuming an area the size of London in just 10 days, burning some Pantanal animals alive and sending others fleeing.
Kopenawa Yanomami, right, with his son Dario. Credit: Reuters
What do the indigenous people say? Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman and spokesman for the Yanomami people of Brazil, has taken his message of environmental protection to the four corners of the globe. On August 22, from his home in Boa Vista, Roraima, Kopenawa told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald city people don’t listen.
“The Yanomami people have been telling people from the cities that we are worried. We tried to tell them. But the agribusiness and the authorities got together and authorised the deforestation to make grazing land for cattle. People from the city don’t believe us. They don’t listen,” Kopenawa said, alluding to changes of environmental policy by the current government.
Kopenawa feels like the forest is dying.
“The fire is killing the forest and the small regrowth trees. The animals too – tapirs, macaws, peccaries, bees, all the beauty in the universe. They are trying to kill it.
“It’s already dying. The people who bought [land in] the forest, the rivers, they are destroying it. That’s Bolsonaro’s fault. He doesn’t speak for the Amazon.”
The aftermath of fires in the Veadeiros Plain national park in the state of Goias, Brazil. Credit: Agencia Brasil
Does this spell doom for the Amazon? In his 2013 book The Falling Sky – Words of a Yanomami Shaman , Kopenawa predicted an ecological collapse arising from the destruction of his people and the Amazon forest – this he called the time of the “falling sky”. Many a social media user referenced this to declare this week’s urban darkness a prophecy fulfilled.
Asked about it on August 22, Kopanawa said: “We talked about this. Indigenous people talk, we try to teach, try to make people think, but people don’t believe us, they keep knocking down the trees.
“Here from Roraima I too can see the smoke, the yellow air, the yellow ground. Sickness is coming.”
Kopenawa said he wanted to see Amazon policies that are sustainable.
Loading Asked if he was tired of repeating the same message over decades he replied:
“I’m not tired. I’ll say it once more for city people to understand: What is the forest? The forest is health, for the Brazilian people, for all the people.”
In a video published by the German Environment Ministry, the Brazil space agency’s Setzer said the future of the Amazon was in politicians’ hands.
“The difficulty today is not technical any more, we know precisely what’s being deforested, how, where and by whom. What remains to be done is the political will to stop deforestation and forest fires in Brazil.”
Replay video Play video Play video
The German government also hinted at Europe’s ability to demand change through trade, or curbs to it, in order to save the Earth from the devastating effects of the destruction of the Amazon.
Brazil’s new trade pact with Europe ties the country to the Paris accord under which Brazil is committed to delivering 12 million hectares of reforestation in the Amazon. An increase in deforestation makes it harder for that goal to be met, directly threatening trade.
What’s being done about it? The French President threatened to block a European Union trade deal with the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, and made sure to put the Amazon fires on the agenda of the G7 in Biarritz in August. Europe offered a $US20 million aid package to help Brazil fight the fires but it was rejected.
Instead Bolsonaro ordered troops and military aircraft to fight the fires but more have been lit since then and tribal leaders have been assassinated for standing up to the forest .
Global leaders, environmental groups and consumers have expressed sharp criticism over Bolsonaro’s tactics but he continues to insist development of the Amazon is paramount to the country’s economic growth.
Meanwhile, Brazilian agricultural groups have warned that major importers could start snubbing purchases from the commodity powerhouse because of environmental concerns.
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License this article Amazon forest fires Brazil World politics Jair Bolsonaro Explainers Biosecurity Environmental protection
Spoiler: Chapter 19: Coincidences We just buy simple food and ingredients from the current open shops and leave, there’s not much else to do. We gave our goodbyes to the griffin spirit in our backyard and it chirped sadly.
Lina is very depressed, going from losing her master to falling for me and then nearly losing me must be getting to her. I spend the trip hugging her and kissing her neck and hands.
-I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be making you worry about me like this- She says.
-I’m the one who should be sorry, I got overconfident.
-You are both sorry and that’s it- Alissa interjects, I think she’s getting jealous right now.
I gotta give them all attention, we are all needy after facing terror.
When the road looks clear we land behind a tree and I mark it as a “coordinate” for [ Gate ].
We reach the Ant Hill pretty fast and in much more comfort than last time.
I put my skills like this:
Wolf Ryder Skill Report Physical Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Sword Use 9+6 Dodge 5+5 Parry 5+5 Block 2+8 Shield Bash 0+1 Muscle Explosion 0+1 Battlefield Perception 2+1 Magical Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Sense Mana 2+5 Mana Control 0+7 Mana Recovery 7+0 Mana Efficiency 2+5 Reduced Mana Cost 7+0 Mana Overuse Resistance 0+3 Electric Magic 7+8 Earth Magic 0+2 Light Magic 6+4 Nature Magic 7+13 Space Magic 14+16 Summoning Magic 11+9 Blessing Magic 0+14 Illusion Magic 0+2 Golemancy 0+2 Redirect Mana (creator) 3 Sense Soul (creator) 2 Miscellaneous Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Andraste Language 9+1 Dismantling 0+2 Enhanced Semen Recharge 0+3 OBS: Level means (free point)+(trained point)
I feel safer when my skills are properly distributed again.
Everyone except Lina puts a Ring of the Servant, it’s a ring that blocks experience gain and gives it all to the one without a ring. It’s used by nobles for training but we will use it to power-level Lina, she’s currently the weakest and can’t properly fight besides us.
I summon a spirit elemental, a light elemental and a fire elemental. The spirit elemental is invisible if you don’t have [Spirit Magic], you can only sense the mana if you get too close. It’s good for scouting, we will tell it to keep behind us a good distance away and warn if there’s anyone following us. The light elemental is a shining outline of a curvy woman, it will give us light and it has a positive mental effect on all of us, something we are in need. The fire elemental will walk in front burning all webs.
-Why are they all women?- Asks Ciel while frowning towards my light elemental.
-Don’t you see any similarities?- Asks Alissa.
-To whom?- Ciel frowns harder.
Ciel takes a few seconds, then she opens her yes wide and blushes a bit.
-Now that we are talking about it, why are my elementals women? They come like this when I don’t put an effort in changing them.
-T-the elementals search the heart of the master for something to copy. They look for someone they… Hold deep in their heart- Ciel says bashfully.
I smile and kiss her lightly. Lina looks at me with expectancy, I summon a small earth elemental and she covers her face with her hands.
-Hahahah, well, it’s not that different from you, it’s you know, flat – Roxanne says and pulls her tongue.
Lina groans and Alissa pats her back. Ciel is glaring at Roxanne who hides behind Hana.
I go to Lina and grab her hand.
-Remember, flat is justice- Then I kiss her.
The trip is rather calm. The Giant Tarantulas are no match for any of our group. My shield hand still hurts so I hang back.
We reach the arachne territory and Alissa tenses up. I put all our extra points into [Mental Resistance].
-I hate this smell. I know it’s not poison but it messes up with my smelling ability, again I won’t be able to tell if we get poisoned- Alissa says, frowning.
-Ciel, use [Diagnosis] on us every 10 or so minutes- I say.
Aoi seems quite content, I thought she would be more afraid but she’s very comfortable on Roxanne’s shoulders. She even dared walk besides us until she tired. She tried to fire a fireball into a spider but the spider was too agile to hit, but it’s good to know she can give a small help in a pinch.
-There’s something… Odd- Alissa frowns.
-Oh, what is it?
-Well, I’m feeling some “flashes” with [Sense Presence], as if pieces of souls are moving near us.
-Hm… You are poisoned, it’s a weak confusion- Ciel says.
-Well then, it’s another mind poison, right?- I grin.
-Yeah, it’s not affecting her body, only her mind- Ciel lifts an eyebrow.
Roxanne smiles, she grabs Hana and they both kiss deeply. Alissa flinches and smiles, she remembers.
A mere kiss won’t do, to break any mind poison I have to pour my feelings into it.
I grab Alissa by the waist and pull her. I kiss her and pour my love, my trust, my happiness for having her always besides me. I grab the back of her head and comb my fingers through her silky hair.
When we break Ciel and Lina are lightly blushing and staring blankly.
-Mind poison can be broken by the passion of love!- I spread my arms wide and pull Ciel.
I do the same for her, I feel the squishiness of her body through her armor and remember all her delicious spots, her tight hug, her kind eyes, her sweet voice. I feel calm in her arms.
I break the kiss and grab a fidgeting Lina and kiss her too. Her cute demeanor, her endless curiosity, her dedication to me, her innocent soul. All I want is to hug her and keep her safe.
Once I finish I notice Roxanne is still kissing Hana. Roxanne is desperately trying to undo her armor, her robe is already on the ground.
-Uh, Roxanne…?- I ask.
-W-what?- She asks and immediately goes back to kissing.
-What are you doing? Now is not the time.
I grab her and pull her away. Hana sends me puppy eyes wanting more and Roxanne glares at me.
-You okay?- I ask.
She turns her head away and starts fidgeting.
-Well she, uh, is still poisoned, it’s a medium arousal- Ciel says.
-What? No, can’t it be just normal arousal? Does it means I’m poisoned?- Roxanne says, discreetly rubbing her legs on each other.
-Well, sorry Roxanne- I say.
A shining hand touches Roxanne’s shoulder and she stops fidgeting, her anxious face turns into one of displeasure.
-Noo, this feel so frustrating- She drops down her head.
-Well, having an orgy in the middle of the arachne territory isn-…
I get interrupted by an unpleasant feeling. I draw my sword.
-The spirit elemental is dead, something is coming.
Everyone gets ready for combat immediately, Roxanne lets out a long sigh.
I stare at the tunnel and wait for it to come. I hear nothing.
I hear my breath, it’s slowly becoming heavier in anticipation. Adrenaline runs through my body. I feel my muscles creak as I hold my sword harder. The tension brings fatigue, my body is still weary.
It’s tiring to keep my head up, I will just look with the corner of my eyes. My posture is hurting my back, I will just hunch a little, it will be easier to stay like this. I look down, my head is too heavy to keep up, I gotta save energy. I feel sleepy.
A shining hand touches my shoulder and I feel the pleasant sensation of mana coursing though my body.
I look up and see Hana defending a strike from an arachne. It’s a giant spider with the upper body of a woman on it’s head, on a normal posture it’s around 2 meters tall, this one is bigger, nearly 3 meters. This one’s spider body is black while the human body is sickly white and full of blue veins with disheveled black hair.
Holy shit I think this was a spell similar to [Illusion Magic’s] level 15 spell [ Pacify ], how terrifying that I never felt it coming.
Alissa hits two arrows on the arachne’s human chest. Ciel keeps in front of me while I recover my senses. Lina is besides Hana, she crushed a spider leg. Hana is countering a blow from a very pointy spider leg, she opens a long cut on the arachne’s body. Roxanne is gathering mana and besides her Aoi is staring at me, I feel her worry.
I feel the arachne gathering mana. I charge a bit and release [ Lightning Bolt ] at the same time the fire elemental and Roxanne lets out [ Fireball ]. The arachne stops and convulses for a moment, it gets hit square in the exposed and well-endowed chest. Both breasts explodes, opening a large wound.
The arachne recoils in pain and cover her eyes from the explosion. Hana takes the opportunity and charges with her wings, she decapitates the arachne, which falls limp on the floor. That’s how a sword fight goes, you look away from a second and you say goodbye to having a head on your shoulders.
Lina falls down on the ground and starts crying.
-Masteer! Don’t leave meeee!
-Awn, she just fell for an illusion too. It’s seems to be a strong nightmare- Ciel says.
A shining woman hugs Lina from behind and she slowly stops crying. Her eyes regain focus and she looks at us confused.
-What? You are back! Wait, where’s the arachne?- She asks, her eyes blinking repeatedly.
-It’s dead, she cast an illusion on you just before she died- I say, rubbing her hand.
-Oh… That’s good… What I saw was…- She looks with a pained face, tears still on the corner of her eyes.
I interrupt her and give her a kiss. She stiffens and I give a few more all over her face until she giggles.
After she recovers her composure the light elemental releases her and we move on. I summon another spirit elemental.
-So, I think that one was really powerful, well magically, not physically. It didn’t expect us to all have resistance, otherwise it wouldn’t have attacked- Ciel says.
-Yeah I was a bit surprised that me, Lina, and Roxanne had the worst with these illusions and poisons- I say.
-You three have the lowest “Sanity”, that makes you all more vulnerable- Ciel says.
Roxanne sighs again. She must still be feeling frustrated.
We don’t have another encounter with an arachne, it seems our party size makes them wary of us and the last one who we met severely underestimated us.
With the elemental we are ahead of schedule, we reach the mole territory and have lunch. Sandwiches and some hot tea do just fine here, you don’t want to spend a long time eating on these dusty and oppressive brown tunnels, it is seriously depressing and sours the mood of the meal.
After lunch Alissa goes to work. With her warbow she just one shots every mole, their thick skulls are now useless to the penetrating power of an enchanted bow.
Not long and we reach the springs.
-Ah! How I not missed this stuffy and moist atmosphere- Roxanne jokes, taking a deep breath.
-If it weren’t for the little devils around here I think it could be a bit comfy- I say.
It’s not so stuffy, at least not for the almost hermit me.
The girls frown at me, except Lina who grabs my hand and nods with happiness. Aoi seems displeased at the wetness of the ground and decides to stop walking besides us.
I dismiss the fire elemental and bring a lead earth elemental. He will strut in front of us, stepping on all traps and simply ignoring everything. Aoi loved the elemental and decides to nest on top of its flat and hairy head.
When we reach the stairs Hana grabs me like a princess and we jump down. With her wings she slows the fall and we safely touch the ground. Then I open a [ Gate ] for the other girls and the elemental struts through the stairs. A vine trap grabs its leg and then snapes while the elemental continues like nothing happened.
I drink an average MP potion so I can use [ Gate ] more times.
Floor 2. 1 Stalker, dispatched by Alissa.
Floor 3. Multiple bear traps latch on the elemental, they just scratch his feet before being crushed and falling off.
Floor 4. 1 Stalker appears and Roxanne wants to try something.
She gathers mana, she stretches her hand forward and points her staff. She makes gestures with her hand as if she’s trying to crush something. She’s not chanting.
With a crackling noise a small ice stake grows out of nothing. I feel Roxanne’s mana is coursing a few centimeters outside her body, this is not normal. Roxanne relaxes and the stake flies towards the stalker, I hear a thud in the distance.
-Nice aim and you didn’t even chant- I say.
-Thanks. Yeah, I understand now how the system works, how that “itch” you explained can be “scratched”. I never felt it before you put the points for me, I still feel the urge to chant but if I hold it in I can cast it without chanting and I still have control over it. [ Ice Lance ] is very mana intensive but with some effort this time it cost me 3/4th of the normal- Roxanne says, she seems very proud of herself.
-This “itch” might be the reason I can “expand” my soul, see if you can move whatever is inside you like you moved a muscle or a finger to try and “scratch” that “itch”. But try to do it when you are lacking mana otherwise it doesn’t work properly. Maybe you can learn [Redirect Mana].
-I see, I will try it- Roxanne says with a happy nod.
-I also felt your mana coursing outside your body, is this an enchantment?
-My robe has a [Mana Control] enchantment that improves it a bit.
Lina’s Trivia : mana boosting enchantments flow better on loose clothing than on metals or stiff leather, other enchantments work the opposite. Mana has to flow and harmonize, loose clothing allows the robes to flow where they are needed and aid mana flow. Chanting works in a similar way, it harmonizes the mana inside us and prevents it from running wild. The other enchantments have to control mana in a very specific way to form the spell required, which is why gems are more useful then metals, their crystalline structure guarantees a specific behavior.
Floor 5. The puddles of water are bubbling and releasing noxious fumes. I put [Poison Resistance] on everybody and we just stroll through. With Ciel and Roxanne’s potions it would be quite simple even without the Resistance. Only certain puddles aren’t bubbling so I guess we would need to go around these if we wanted to not get poisoned. Thanks, skill system, it’s basically cheating.
Floor 6. A stalker is following us from too far, can’t really get an angle for a shot. I summon a german shepherd dog and sic him on the stalker. After a minute or so I hear a death scream. The doggy latched on the neck of the Spriggan and snapped it. I tell him to pant and wag his tail and everyone gives him a pat.
The lead elemental steps on a crumbling floor and gets stuck on the floor. He manages to look adorable as his huge leg dangles from the stairs.
Floor 7. We enter a suspicious corridor.
-Go past the corridor and torment any monster on the other side- I tell the spirit elemental.
It goes through the wall and I get glimpses of mechanisms as I share my vision with it. Yep, it’s that godsdamned trap again.
-I could go ahead and kill whatever is in the other end, this corridor is nothing for my flight- Says Hana.
-There are other traps in this corridor, better not risk it. If anything happens I will use [ Gate ] to send us back here, understood?
A few seconds later we hear a painful scream. I share my vision and see the spirit is hurting the soul of a Spriggan.
-Hihihih- Roxanne giggles evilly. She coughs and recomposes herself.
With Alissa in front we dodge all traps. On the other side the Spriggan is rolling on the floor screaming in pain, these monsters are completely vulnerable to magic.
-You know what. Hana, can you tie him up?
-Oh, I see. Lemme try something- She grins.
Hana first ties his hands and legs then she gets a very long rope and makes some very odd patterns with it. Once she’s done it looks like the Spriggan is using a harness made of rope, it leaves him with very little mobility.
-Hana… Where did you learn this?- I ask.
-That’s uh… A book my mom had, there were some very interesting… Illustrations- She looks away.
Me, Ciel, and Alissa massage our eyes while Lina looks confused and Roxanne shivers.
The lead elemental carries the tied up monsters as it struggles to break free. I can hear it cry, though I’m not sure if it’s from the pain or humiliation.
Floor 8. Alissa noticed the Spriggans come near every once in a while just to run away soon after. It seems they got the message and know what will happen if they get close, capturing a Spriggan was the best idea I ever had.
Floor 9. The Spriggan stopped crying but it’s now fidgeting in a weird way.
Floor 10. The floor is filled with traps, now that the elemental is carrying the prisoner we use random rocks we had collected to set off the traps. Instead of blowing they cast a spell, either a water blade or an earth spike attacks whoever steps on it. We waste a lot of time on this floor.
Floor 11. It’s the floor full of vines. We keep the lead elemental in front but it gets slowed down by the amount of vines, though it made things easier for us.
Floor 12. I just can’t ignore the way the Spriggan is acting.
-By the Gods don’t tell me he’s… Aroused?-I ask.
-T-this pattern the rope is supposed to… Rub the crotch, ass and nipples…- Hana says, she fidgets and looks away.
-Put it on the ground- I order the elemental.
I cut one of the pieces of rope that’s limiting it’s movement the most.
-Let’s go- I say.
Nobody says anything.
Floor 13. There’s heavy mist on this floor. We tie a rope to all of us and walk slowly.
-Wolf, put all my points into [Wind Magic], at level 20 I can use [ Wind Storm ], it should clear the mist if I put some effort into it, though I won’t be able to attack.
-Good idea. In case we get attacked release the rope connecting us and surround Ciel and Roxanne.
We slowly walk through the floor but nothing happens. When we reach the stairs they turn into a slide and gush water like last time. The elemental slips and slides down, he crashes into the spear trap at the ground and crushes them all.
I touch the elemental and send a bit of mana, with this all the scratches and light penetrations get cleaned up.
-Boy, am I glad you have [ Gate ]- Says Hana.
-It’s almost a cheat- I say.
-Well, it is- Ciel says.
Floor 14. The mist continues, it gets even heavier, I can barely see a meter in front of me.
-This is bad- I say.
-It is. Eight are coming, we are surrounded!- Alissa yells.
The girls huddle up on the elemental. Ciel starts gathering mana.
-You know what, Hana, spread your fire around us- I say.
She inhales, “FOO~M!” The fire spreads. I hear screams of pain.
-[ Wind Storm ]!
A strong wind makes it difficult to stand, at least we aren’t being cut up to pieces like [ Wind Storm ] is supposed to work. The mist clears up around us and we see 4 Spriggans on fire and rolling on the ground in pain. The other 4 are frozen, watching their allies burn to death.
-You guys seriously don’t remember me?- I ask.
One of the Spriggans runs away.
-I will use your bark to smoke my meat!- Hana taunts.
The 3 remaining charge and scream.
Hana drops her shield and does an overhead strike on the first one. The second one blocks a small [ Fireball ] and gets bashed by Ciel, once he falls he gets his throat pierce by her glaive. The last one gets an arrow on the leg and his head stepped on by the elemental.
-Huh, I think I understand too how that “itch” works- Ciel says.
Aoi wakes up and smells the air. She gets down from the elemental and walks through the embers as if they were nothing, then she stops in front of one of the burned Spriggans and starts to eat his stomach.
I turn around and wait until I hear a burp, Aoi comes running back to the elemental and returns to sleep on its head.
-We have been giving her lots of raw meat but I guess a dragon would prefer barbecue- Hana says.
-Her fire breath is getting more stable perhaps soon she should be able to roast her own meat- Ciel says with a smile.
Alissa rubs my shoulder.
Floor 15. We reached our target.
Roxanne drops down on all fours, her staff clacks as it falls on the ground.
There’s no Moonlight Moss here.
-There, there. With the [ Gate ] we can check here every few days and see if there’s any more- I say, tapping Roxanne’s shoulders.
-Yeah don’t worry, we still got enough of the elixir for a while- Hana says, tapping the other shoulder.
Roxanne groans and gets a kiss on the cheek from each of us, this makes her giggle.
It’s 9PM. We make camp on a small, empty room and set up our bath. As soon as we enter Roxanne pounces on me. Hana gets jealous and turns Roxanne around, she rubs Roxanne’s mouth on her pussy while I do her from behind. Alissa starts masturbating like always. Lina stares, trying to absorb every detail until Hana looks at her with hungry eyes and she blushes. Ciel looks down, trying to ignore Roxanne screams, Aoi is on her arms and both are pouting, feeling lonely.
After that we relax around the cooking magic tool. Alissa starts cooking a blue soup, we found a blue grey moss that can be used as seasoning, it reminds me of annatto, nostalgic. Hana is taking care of a spit roast of large slabs of wyvern meat while Aoi watches it spin, completely entranced. Ciel is cutting some vegetables. Lina is huddled next to me, reading a book. Roxanne is studying some moss with Ted and Suzy at her lap. I’m studying andraste.
-What are you doing Roxanne?- I ask.
-Well I’m trying to look for the specific signature of the mana in the moss. There’s always a mix of a few signatures and the mark of a good potion maker is how well he can separate those signatures- She shows me a small lens with a few black inscriptions.
Lina stops reading and starts listening.
-What are these signatures?
Roxanne smiles wildly.
-Plenty of substances like say, meat, have a lot of mana signatures, this huge amount of signatures makes the potion have unknown interactions. You could be making a healing potion that ends up poisoning the person in the long run. Or it could have adverse effects like nausea, confusion, loss of mana control. Or like my Moonlight Moss MP potion, it paralyses you.
-I have been looking at the moss of this dungeon and it’s incredibly similar to the Moonlight Moss, unfortunately it’s not corrosive, it’s this corrosion that makes it useful for MP potions. It bonds with silver and corrodes most signatures on common mana crystals, allowing it to refine MP potions to much better levels. The byproduct of this corrosion, unfortunately, is what causes the paralysis.
Lina’s trivia : Every atom can “absorb” mana, so when casting a spell you can “gather” this mana on the environment to aid you during chanting. Having a mana charged object close to you can affect your casting, possitively or negatively. Crystals have predictable behavior, making it beneficial when they are close. Since mana has a “signature”, you can use a crystal to make it easier to convert mana into the type you require, like a filter for mana.
-So we are drinking minerals on those potions? What happens to the silver?
-Silver and gold are the metals that mana flows through the easiest, this is why enchanting lines are done with them, on potions they are used to make the mana flow easier from the crystals to the body. Because of how quickly a potion is absorbed the solids end up being destroyed when the mana is taken from it or from when the mana passes through them, so the potions we drink should end up completely disappearing when inside our bodies.
-How do you know a mana signature is harmful?
-There’s a large encyclopedia detailing every signature- With a “poof” he pulls out a large, thick book- If you ever find a new one you can publish it and the empire might make you rich with the reward for that.
Unsurprisingly, potions are rather complicated and not that different from real medicine.
I pull out a large tent. This one has a flap that we can raise to cover the table and the inside fits beds for everyone.
-Come over here my brown angel- I say, pulling Ciel to cuddle with me.
-What was that, old man? What a horrible flirt. Do people of Earth flirt like this?- She raises an eyebrow at me.
-N-no. I really am bad at flirting, I’m much more better at cuddling and kissing.
-I don’t really have anyone to compare to, but I will take your word for it- She smirks.
-There’s the other girls…
-They do not count, their opinions are biased.
-If they don’t count then who would? I only ever kissed the ones I loved.
She thinks and when she’s about to talk I strike and kiss her. I run my hand through her body and lay her down on the bed. I undo the her sash and squeeze the two bags filled with the dreams of men.
She turns her face away and frowns.
-What’s wrong?- I ask.
-Well, I just didn’t think we would have an audience for this…
Everyone is just staring at us. Lina is the one staring the most intently.
-Well that’s… How things are going to be, kinda. Can you try to ignore them? Look at me, don’t take your eyes off me.
I grab her face and turn her to me. I kiss her repeatedly, this mellows her out a bit.
I undress her and kiss her body, slowly making my way down. I pay extra attention to those big, delicious nipples. When I get to promised land I thank for the meal and dig in.
She tries to keep composed but she eventually grabs my head and forces it in. I play with her clit, I love to nibble on it, and she seems to love it too. I give it a lot of attention and make use of my free hand to give attention to the other parts that need it.
She closes her legs and holds my head in place, she has such strength in those thighs it’s starting to hurt.
I slow down and she releases me. She has her eyes closed.
-Look at me.
Slowly she opens her eyes and I penetrate her at the same time.
The world fades away as we get entranced on each other, syncing our rhythm. We only hear our breaths, moans and the wet sounds we make.
I feel her tighten and her face turns into ecstasy. I relax my control and slowly I feel it coming. When I’m about to finish she takes it off and pulls Alissa to me.
Alissa starts sucking me without any hesitation and I finish on her mouth. I look at Ciel, my eyebrows raised in surprise.
-Well… Better this than make a mess- She smiles with embarrassment.
Alissa goes back and spits it out on Hana’s mouth, then Hana grabs Roxanne and they both kiss. Roxanne punches her arm, embarrassed, but only a little. Ciel sighs and shakes her head.
Seeing them both kissing makes me get up again. This time I grab Alissa and immediately penetrate her. You don’t even have to ask, it seems she’s wet all the time.
With Alissa I go slow, I don’t have much stamina anymore, I just hug her and she digs her nails on my back. I play with one of her ears and one of her nipples.
Her cute soft moans ring on my ears like music. Every thrust her nails dig harder on me.
-I bet she likes hurting you- Ciel says.
-N-n-no! T-that’s not…- Alissa stutters.
Ciel laughs. I don’t let Alissa talk and thrust her again.
My strength is leaving me so I squeeze her legs together and stop holding it in. When I’m about to finish I take it out and Lina appears this time to drink it all. She swallows immediately and then licks all over to clean my shaft.
I drop to the side and almost immediately fall asleep. I feel softness and warmth getting closer before my conscience fades away.
Today is the 26th.
I feel an incredible tightness. It gives me immense burst of pleasure in a rhythmic way. Slowly I open my eyes and see Lina on top of me with Alissa helping her move her hips up and down. Just as I understand what’s happening I cum.
-Awn…- Lina looks dejected.
-Almost. But don’t worry, I’m sure you will do well next time- Alissa pats her head and gives a warm smile.
-Don’t get up yet. Just give me a minute- I say.
I fully wake up this time and slowly I feel it getting up while inside her. She’s so tight.
Now that it’s completely lubed it’s much easier to move. I grab Lina’s hips and thrust savagely. She meows loudly.
I have a problem with Lina, I can’t last long without the “Sex Maniac” skills. The perfectly lubed tightness just makes it feel so good, so stimulating. I cum inside her again and it overflows. I barely woke up and I already feel drained.
-Noo. Don’t waste it- Hana cries.
She takes Lina off me and cleans me. Then she pushes Lina down and cleans her insides too.
Lina shivers but doesn’t move, her legs lose strength and she moans one last time.
I see an evil smile on Roxanne’s face. I snap out of my stunned state.
-Hana! You should ask before you do such things!- I chastise her.
-Oh… Uhm, I’m sorry little Lina. I-I did something bad to you…- Hana looks down with puppy eyes.
-It’s… Okay…- She mutters and nods.
Lina seems fine but she doesn’t express herself a lot. I’m a bit worried about her, gotta have Ciel influence her to the right path.
I increased [Space Magic] and [Summoning Magic] by 1 (now 14+17 and 11+10). I also increased [Enhanced Semen Recharge] again (now 0+4). Boy, whoever thought that satisfying 5 women was easy was wrong, very, very wrong.
-Ciel, can I bring out the spirit of a dead person through it’s body?- I ask.
She stares at me for a moment.
-Yes. You can use [ Soul Search ] for that, with [ Spirit Eyes ] and [ Spirit Link ] you can talk with it privately. With [ Materialization ] you can even have it talk with other people. I just gotta tell you to never use [ Soul Touch ] to harm a spirit, that is almost a Sin and the Gods will quickly hate you if you do that- She says with concern on her voice.
-Well, I’m counting on your help so you keep me from doing anything stupid.
-Don’t have to ask.
We all move away from camp. I sigh, I’m not eager to do this. Alissa gives me a kiss on the cheek and it gives me a small boost in movitvation.
I put 30 points into [Spirit Magic] and pull out the dragonkin corpse, he’s only wearing underwear. Seeing him gives me chills.
I cast [Soul Search]. My hands glow and I touch the corpse, the cold skin makes me feel disgusted.
I feel like I grew another arm, except this arm is inside the dragonkin. I move this new arm and feel everything is empty.
-How long does a soul linger on a body?- I ask.
-Not long, but since you put his body on “Items” it should still have a connection- Ciel says.
-Where should this connection be?
-I don’t know.
I search all over his chest, then I move up his neck and feel something solid at his brain. I grab it, instinct tells me to pull so I obey.
I feel my new arm move outside of the body, though I can’t see anything. I cast [ Materialize ].
An ethereal arm protrudes out of my body. On its hand is a cloth like protrusion that connects with a floating and ethereal body of the dragonkin. His hair is purple and his scales are the color of Lapis Lazuli. His neck is crooked and there’s a cut that goes through his chest, allowing you to see through it.
-Whaaat!- He grabs his crooked neck with one hand and his wound with anoter. His eyes open wide- Oh shit, I’m dead. You ! You killed me. Wait no…
The ghost points to Hana.
– You killed me. Fuck! What’s going on, why are you calling me…
He looks at the cavern and his expression turns into fear.
-Oi, oi. Y-you shouldn’t mess with a spirit, the Gods will be mad, I wanna leave, please let me leave.
I drag myself out of my stunned state.
-Quiet!- I yell.
The dragonkin winces.
-I wanna know about your employer, any information about him. Any, little, detail- I say, threateningly.
-You can torture me and get yourself branded as wicked, I don’t care. I won’t betray the others, they could even go for a necromancer and bring my spirit back, you know- He turns his head away and huffs.
-I know you are not wicked so you won’t go to hell, but you should know this person here is blessed by the Goddess of Knowledge- Ciel taps my shoulder. The dragonkin looks at me with curiosity- If you help him I’m sure the Gods could reward you with a little bit of time in paradise.
I never asked Ciel but apparently hell and heaven are a thing here too.
The dragonkin forgets he doesn’t need to breathe and starts breathing heavier in anticipation.
-Hm… Burn my corpse right now and I will help.
Through [ Soul Search ] I feel he’s not lying. I look at Ciel, she nods.
-Roxanne, that’s you- I say.
I pull away from him, making sure to maintain my [ Soul Search ]. If I release him and he doesn’t have a body to return to he will immediately disappear, forever.
Roxanne concentrates and creates a very small [ Firestorm ] that consumes his body entirely. When it’s over there’s only a small pile of ashes and the smell of pork in the air.
-There, now complete your side of the deal- I say.
-Well then. I have some info but truth be told we don’t know much about our employers. We only accept masked payers and they know where to find us, they only come by reference so this way we keep away from their business and they pay us extra- He scratches the back of his head- The only info I have is on the girl we had to watch. She came everyday at the same time and did the same things, I kinda started to watch her closely, you know, that cute little ass shakes so well I almost screwed the job just to get closer to her…
He coughs. Oh boy, here we go.
-She’s small but she’s not a dwarf. One day her hat flew and I got a good look at her, I burned her in my memory, she’s just so cute. She has some traces that remind me of the elves, her chin is thin, her lips are small and red, her face is very pale and freckled, her brown hair is always braided and curled inside her hat. She doesn’t have any breasts but her ass is big and her hips are wide, by the Gods I wanna put my dick in that ass.
I massage the bridge of my nose and struggle to keep [ Soul Search ]. He’s a dragonkin alright…
-The only time I got near her I had a sniff of her perfume, it’s a citric fruit, what do you call it… Ranja, I think it was form the High Forest.
Alissa opens her eyes wide.
-Yes! That’s the smell I felt, I couldn’t remember where I knew it from but now I’m sure. It’s very, very faint, I think it’s just a residue from her hair products. How did you smell her? I have a very good nose but I had to get close to her to feel that smell.
The dragonkin looks embarrassed.
-Well I… I have a good memory for smells, every pussy smells different, you know?
Ciel groans. He looks at the girls then smiles at me.
-You should know, right?- He asks.
-Is that all you have?- I ask.
-Yes. We di-…
I release him.
-That could be helpful in finding her. But we won’t be able to do it alone. Not when she seems to move in the slums with ease. She also has someone cast [Illusion Magic] on her, she has help- I say.
-Yeah. Just another reason talking to Vanea will be helpful- Alissa says, shuddering when she mentions that woman- Ah. Since his connection lasted this long then perhaps the body of the woman space mage should be valuable. The empire could interrogate her soul.
-Another bargaining chip for Vanaea?- I ask.
-Could be- Ciel answers.
There’s nothing else to do here so I prepare for [ Gate ]. The girls put on bags all the personal items they are carrying on their [ Item Boxes ]. I keep their armor and weapons just in case. I dismiss the elementals and I divide all my points into [Space Magic] and [Mana Efficiency], [Reduced Mana Cost] only helps on the first cast so efficiency is the way to go.
-Alright, first Hana and Ciel, then Roxanne, Aoi and Lina, then me and Alissa.
After it’s done it took 2/3rds of my mana. If we want to go to the High Forest and be able to come back I’m going to have to keep increasing my mana, a lot.
I pull the dinghy out and we go back to the Roulette of the Morning Dew.
We reach the entrance before noon. I feel a chill remembering the 7th floor, thankfully we don’t have to enter it. The floors we can go are shared with Lina so we all enter the 8th floor.
The theme of this floor is mountaintop towns. There are 5 mountains connected in an 8 pattern, we are at a bridge connecting the two southernmost towns. Below us is only ominous mist.
The brick bridge is overgrown and falling apart, there are plenty of holes around we have to move around. It’s 20 meters wide and full destroyed carts, wagons, blockades, and skeletons, both civilian and those with ruined purple lamelar armor.
-C-can we please move fast? T-these holes are giving me chills- Lina says, grabbing my arm.
-Are you afraid of heights?- I ask.
-I don’t think there’s a dwarf who isn’t- Alissa says, patting Lina’s head.
We move with me holding one of Lina’s hands and Alissa the other. If we were older we would look like a married couple walking our child. I kiss Lina’s hand and she stops trembling.
-I’m starting to get a bit jealous- Roxanne says with a smirk.
Hana grabs her hand and kisses it, Roxanne giggles.
-You guys would flirt in the middle of a battlefield- Ciel says, massaging her eyes.
-Gotta keep the tension down somehow- Alissa shrugs.
We move a few minutes west when Alissa looks north and narrows her eyes.
I think I see black dots coming from the central mountaintop. I summon a wind elemental, Hana takes out her bow and spear.
We reach halfway to our target when Alissa stops us.
-They are coming towards us, no mistake.
-Fire when in range. If we see a Needler then Hana, Lina, and me will stay in front. The rest focus on ranged attacks.
Harpies are human-looking women with hawk legs and wings instead of arms. They predate upon smaller humanoids and attack in groups. The standard harpy only attacks by diving and gouging meat with her claws, the Needler variant can summon feathers that act as projectiles, if they hit and get embedded in flesh they limit movement and disrupt mana flow, monster acupuncture.
Alissa lets out the first arrow. The harpy tried to dodge but it got hit in the wing, with trouble flying she falls down into the mist.
Hana fires but her arrow is dodged.
Roxanne fires a [ Fire Arrow ], it brushes the wing and starts a small fire, the harpy struggles to put it out.
Alissa fires again. 2 down 11 to go.
Ciel fires a [ Wind Blade ]. Three harpies have to stop to contain the blade.
Alissa fires another arrow and kills one of the harpies that had stopped. 10 to go.
Hana fires an arrow. It grazes the flank of a harpy, it shrieks in pain.
The wind elemental waves its hand at a harpy, it starts to struggle to move. I cast [ Gravity Crush ] on it. Now the harpy is basically locked in place, it shrieks as its bones creak and crack. An arrow ends the shriek and I stop the spell. 9 to go.
[ Gravity Crush ] is useful but due to the nature of acting directly on another living being’s body it’s rather mana intensive.
Hana fires a last arrow and hits the gut of a harpy. It shrieks and has trouble moving, Alissa finishes it off with an arrow on the throat. 8 to go.
-[ Wind Storm ]!
3 Harpies get nearly cut to shreds inside of it. They survive but they won’t be much help on the battle.
One wounded harpy gets a [ Fire Arrow ] to the face and dies. 7 to go, 2 are wounded.
The harpies are close. Hana drops her bow and grabs her shield and spear.
-[ Ice Lance ]!
A harpy gets a large hole on it’s chest and coughs blood, slowly it falls towards the mist. 6 to go, 2 wounded.
A harpy gets an arrow to the face. 5 to go, 2 wounded.
Another harpy gets caught by my elemental, another [ Gravity Crush ] and it receives a [ Wind Blade ] to the face. 4 to go, 2 wounded.
A harpy tries to dive on Hana, she blocks the claws and tries to riposte. The harpy contorts it’s body and avoids the spear, receiving only a slight cut on the flank.
A harpy tries to dive on Lina, I feel the mana coursing through her body and she defends against the claws as if it were nothing. On her riposte she swings her hammer wildly and it catches a retreating claw, which gets shattered. The harpy shrieks.
An arrow kills a wounded harpy. 3 to go, 1 wounded.
Aoi fires a fireball at the harpy that tried hit Hana. One wing gets singed and the harpy gets distracted, receiving a small [ Wind Blade ] to the chest, it struggles to recover. 3 to go, 2 wounded.
-Needlers!- Alissa yells.
I look into the distance and there’s 3 harpies approaching fast. They have small feathers floating around it.
I cast [ Lightning Bolt ] on a harpy. It struggles to maintain flight and gets a [ Fire Arrow ] on the wing. It flails about trying to put it out. 3 to go, all wounded, 3 Needlers.
-Incoming!- Hana yells.
I feel a hint of mana on the distance. I pull my shield up and Alissa hides behind me.
Multiple clinks of something solid hitting metal can be heard. I feel a few hit my legs that aren’t fully covered but the scale armor holds.
A harpy screams just as the sounds stop. Hana perfectly skewered a harpy that tried to attack as soon as the barrage ended. She swings the spear and smashes the harpy on the bridge. Aoi inhales deeply and fires a fireball at the struggling harpy, its neck explodes. In a few seconds it passes out due to bleeding. 2 to go, 2 wounded, 3 Needlers.
Alissa fires an arrow and gets the harpy with the [ Fire Arrow ] on the wing. 1 to go, 3 Needlers.
The last harpy charges at Lina again. I cast [ Lightning Bolt ] and it convulses, failing to retreat in time. Lina’s swings her hammer sideways, it connects with the harpy and it gets thrown into bridge. Ciel jumps into it and pierces the heart of the harpy, it struggles for a few seconds and goes limp. 3 Needlers to go.
-Incoming!- Hana yells again.
I feel the slight mana gathering and raise my shield again.
-Elemental! Hold them all in place once the barrage is over!- I order.
I hear an ethereal grunt in response.
The clinking stops and I cast [ Gravity Crush ] on all harpies. To cast area magic you have to focus on a point in space and unleash your mana towards that point. Casting in the middle of the air is really difficult due to depth perception but since they are clumping I just cast it on the middle harpy.
I pull all my effort in keeping them in place. “Willpower” does wonders for these type of spells.
-[ Wind Storm ]!
The harpies get cut up and blood flows off them, the blood swims in the air and slowly the tornado gets tinged red. The harpies shriek and they gradually lower the volume. Soon the Needlers turn silent.
Unfortunately we can’t recover the bodies or the proof’s from the harpies, Needlers can give some good money. We end our spells and sit down on the ground. I grab Ciel’s hand and give it a kiss, she shakes her head but I see her smile.
After an MP potion and some meditation we are ready to go again. I recall the elemental.
-You know, I think I can understand how your [Redirect Mana] works. Though I think it will take some good amount of effort to actually get it to work- Ciel says.
-Well yeah, I would be depre-… Impressed if you managed to get it so easily. I did get it after a life or death situation- I say.
-You better put some effort to get it. It’s what saved my life- Roxanne says and gives me a kiss on the cheek.
-A mage that can regenerate mana at will is almost cheating- Alissa says.
-Good thing some of his cheats are rubbing off on us- Ciel smiles.
-It’s still not so easy to do it- I say.
-It’s still an unfair advantage no one else has- Ciel replies and shows me her tongue.
We finally reach the end of the bridge. This town is called Mons Meridien. The mountaintop is circular so the town is divided in circular layers, we are at the middle layer. The same overgrown ruins full of partially destroyed concrete buildings, arches, and domes, with an overuse of columns. There’s also ivies, vines, and moss covering any still-standing wall, tall grass everywhere that’s not a paved road, pieces of rubble spread all over. A few not-olive trees on a garden or other.
We walk down the steps, the only sound is the rustling of leaves and our footsteps. This floor is not very popular due to the harpies and the height.
-I hear snoring- Alissa says.
-Can you go check? Don’t fight it, please- I say.
-Yees- She smiles and goes off.
She takes a minute and silently comes back. If I wasn’t looking she could easily sneak on all of us.
-It’s a minotaur, female. Thankfully it’s wearing a dress.
-Then I have an idea.
We get closer, trying not to make any noise. It’s starting to get misty. On a plaza I see a pile of rubble has two horns protruding out of it, the pile rises and lowers, if I concentrate I can hear it snoring.
I put 5 points in [Throw].
-Well then, here goes nothing.
I cast [ Summon Elemental ]. Instead of making it appear instantly besides me I use the traditional way of creating a small ball of light. I pick this ball and throw it into the rubble.
When the ball touches the rubble a large lead elemental appears and hugs the sleeping minotaur.
-M ~!- It yells, trying to break free.
-RAAA!- Hana yells, she charges forward with her emerald wings open wide.
Hana falls besides the struggling minotaur and does an overhead slash with both hands. The minotaur tries to dodge but there’s no room, all it does is that instead of being decapitated its neck gets cut halfway.
In less than a minute the minotaur passes out. We just wait a little more and Alissa confirms the kill.
-A cheat as always- Ciel sighs.
-Oh? We got another one- Alissa says.
Here comes the problem of this town. It’s too small, other minotaurs might end up hearing the sounds of battle on this quiet town.
The lead elemental awkwardly gets up and stands in front. Out of the mist a male minotaur appears, it’s wearing a ripped, filthy shirt and a filthy loincloth.
-Thank the Gods- I pray.
-The bulge is still visible- Hana says.
The minotaur pierces its horns into the chest of the elemental. I feel the metal bent slightly.
For this he receives an arrow to the chest, a [ Water Blade ] to the flank, a [Wind Blade ] to the belly, a hammer on the right knee, and a spear to the left thigh.
It pushes the elemental away and I cast [ Earth Bullet ] on its chest. The air goes out of its lungs and it staggers back. It raises its head and an arrow pierces the eye.
-MUOOOOH!- It roars again and jumps back. Alissa clicks her tongue, she’s not using the warbow.
Hana drops her spear and charges with her sword, she slashes towards the neck and the minotaur defends with his arms. Hana jerks her sword and the blade slides through the arms instead of getting stuck midway.
Lina swipes sideways at its legs and it’s forced on its knees. Blood pours through all its wounds, yet it finds the strength to swipe at Hana, sending her flying backwards. She uses her wings to stabilize in the air and lands gracefully.
-Lina! Come back!- I yell.
Lina turns and runs as awkwardly and adorably as a dwarf can. Her face is pale, she does not want to be swiped at by this minotaur.
I charge the biggest [ Earth Bullet ] that I can. The minotaur stands up.
-[ Wind Blade ]!
-[ Water Blade ]!
I let out my spell at the same time an arrow pierces its throat. He is hit in the face with a rock, and a deep wound on its chest opens from both spell blades. It falls backwards, unconscious.
Hana joins us in the front and the elemental awkwardly gets up again. We wait a minute or so and it dies from blood loss. I recall the elemental.
-Catching it by surprise really does make things easy- I say.
-What, you thought this was hard? I was thinking we barely have a challenge here- Hana says and grins.
We continue our way down, the town slowly disappears into the mist and we plunge into near darkness. Our path that is circling around the mountain edge ends and we find a small door on the wall. We open it and it’s the stairs down.
We reach the 9th floor.
This floor is kind of bad, it’s called Tower of Melancholy, for the sake of our minds it’s best we don’t spend much time here. This whole dungeon floor is a single tower full of holes and crumbling ground, broken furniture all over making it difficult to walk, cobwebs make it horrifying to move, dust everywhere makes it difficult to breathe. It follows the same architecture style as the other floors, coupled with even more ominous skeletons around, including those of children. Outside there’s only white mist. There’s no known ground floor.
We all cast [ Spirit Light ]. Lina is even more scared on this floor.
I summon a nature elemental. It’s a dryad, a green woman with moss-like skin, leaves for hair, and bark instead of nails or teeth. Thankfully she wears a modest ivy dress. The nature spirit is light so she won’t crumble the floor like an earth elemental and she has enough physical strength to help with battle.
We move out and start exploring. There’s no maps of this dungeon floor, the floors are thought to be infinite and so there’s only incomplete maps available. Also a single floor is the size of a village, making you waste time until you realize where you are.
We spend a good amount of time mapping the floor so we don’t get lost. Fortunately Ciel is good at drawings, so she and Roxanne work on that.
-I got something. Seems it has a bit of knowledge in [Hide Presence]- Alissa says.
We enter a room and our lights reflect on the eyes of a monster, a Shadow Satyr. Satyrs are humans with horse ears and horse legs, the shadow version is a monster that is eerily and completely black, it has a straight, featureless face. It wields a very curved scimitar, almost a crescent. It can cast bullets of darkness that hurt like a bitch. This is supposedly a rare monster, we are just that lucky .
I immediately cast [ Lighting Bolt ] and it dodges, no it teleports sideways.
It charges Lina.
An arrow flies and it dodges, I feel Alissa’s anger. Roxanne lets out a weak [ Fire Arrow ], it singes his hair and embers fly. Hana slashes towards it and it dodges but it stops the charge. The elemental times the opening perfectly and manages to grab it with a vine.
The satyr jumps around, trying to get free but it’s not strong enough. It slashes the vines only to get its arm grabbed. The elemental pulls him and he falls on the ground, an arrow pierces his arm and it drops the scimitar.
It decides to jump towards the elemental and scratch at its face. The elemental screams and turns into vines, entangling him more. Hana charges and slashes sideways cutting the satyr in half by the waist.
In the middle of the air it fires a small dark bullet towards Lina. I extend my arm and block it with my shield.
I feel like my arm is crushed. I instinctively cast [ Heal ] but nothing happens. Lina grabs my arm and looks at me horrified.
-Wolfy… Why would you do such a thing…- Lina mutters to me.
-Well, I don’t know…- I wince in pain- I just thought it would be better… If I felt the pain… Instead of you.
The pain pulses but with each pulse it reduces. I feel a light chop on my head.
-Wolfy, that’s rude, Lina isn’t so weak she can’t handle some pain- Alissa says to me, reproachfully.
I feel another chop on my head, this time it’s Lina.
-Alright, I get it.
Just our luck, the stairs are on this room. After healing the elemental we move on.
We reach the 10th floor.
Once in a while you get filled with excitement and wonder at what a dungeon can show you, this is the prize explorers are looking for. This floor is a sky archipelago, floating islands in the middle of the sky, just like the sky lands of the chimeras. This floor is called Proud Memory.
We are at grassland at the edge of an island, there’s only a wooden fence between us and the infinite blue. There’s no ground, there’s only a blue abyss below us.
Lina’s Trivia : The sky lands are camouflaged magically. An ancient spell given to them possibly by the first emperor as a token of friendship. Anyone who looks towards the sky lands sees nothing, they are invisible. Anyone on a sky land who looks down only sees the infinite blue, they don’t see land until they leave the spell’s influence.
Around us we see a grassland with a few pink willows and at the distance there’s white and black marble ruins. The other islands follow a similar pattern, there are dozens around us, above or below. We see from above a few have lakes with fish that we could eat. Above we see the green crystals bellow the island that glow harmonically, they keep the islands afloat. White clouds once in a while pass through an island.
A few wooden bridges and spiral stairs connect the islands. On these bridges we can see the Marker Kites, they are long squares of very light cloth where each corner is tied to a long, light rope. These markers then are left to fly about, most keep upwards as the wind normally comes from bellow. If you see one of these markers flailing about you have to stay away, a rogue gust of wind is passing through and you don’t want to he hit by it while you are vulnerable near the edge of the blue abyss.
Ciel runs up to the fence.
-Wow…- It escapes her lips.
-Hatara would love to come here- Alissa says, coming up besides Ciel.
I grab Lina’s hand and lead her to the fence, I feel her hand tremble.
-Hold my hand tight, I will keep you safe.
She nods and squeezes tighter. A few steps more and her trembling recudes a bit.
We stare at the blue sky for a few minutes. It’s feels odd that there’s no sun here but the beauty of the environment is entrancing.
I look behind us. On the middle of the island there is a 3 storey building with a cupola and a small tower on the top.
-Let’s go there, we can locate ourselves better on top of that building- I say.
As we walk I feel an itch on my head. It’s somehow similar to the “itch”, of using magic, it’s just stronger and makes me want to scratch it immediately. I squirm, trying to scratch it.
Alissa jumps to my side and slashes near my shoulder with the scabbard of her sword. I look to where she tried to strike, a Plom floats about, Alissa tries to strike it again but it slips away and creates some distance from us.
Alissa sighs and puts her scabbard back in place. Ploms are magical animals that feed on mana, they sneak on you and slowly suck your mana. They are nearly impossible to kill due to how easily they manipulate the air around them and slip away from any attack.
-I’m surprised it could bypass your [Sense Presence]- I say.
-It didn’t, it just has such a small presence I didn’t notice it. It’s smaller than a mouse.
-There are Ploms on Maoka. Annoying little creatures, adorable, but annoying- Roxanne says.
She passes us by and I swat a Plom on her back. It slips from my attack, my hand only manages to brush at its fluffy fur. Roxanne groans.
-My… Mana… 1/5th is gone!- She cries.
-I’ll pay more attention to them- Alissa says, with pitying eyes.
As we get closer to the building we reach a small group of marble houses.
-There’s something weird in there- Alissa says.
-Living Armors. The satyrs only appear in dark places- I answer.
Lina’s Trivia : Living Armors are suits of armor that got possessed by spirits, somewhat similar to a nature spirit. Living Armors are generally found in battlefields or tombs, which means their personalities are aggressive or territorial. They give no proof of extermination and their metal is of poor quality, but if you can capture one the hunters guild pays a good price for them, depending on their form. They work well for sparring since you can control their aggressiveness with [ Spirit Magic ].
-There’s four, they are patrolling the front of the building.
-We could go around but let’s go fight them and see how we do- I say.
We pass by the houses and enter a courtyard, the Armors are walking side by side through this courtyard and stop when they see us. They are ethereal humanoids without any features. Their armor is a hauberk with a metal plate cuirass on top, greaves, sabatons, metal pauldrons, vambraces, gauntlets, a bevor, and a sallet.
Though they would look imposing with so much metal, it’s nearly all rusted and decaying. Their longswords look a little better.
They charge towards us. We’ll do a melee test, Alissa, Roxanne, and Aoi will do nothing unless necessary.
I ready myself. My Armor does an overhead slash, such telegraphed attack is easily dodged and deflected by my shield. I slash sideways and destroy the armor on the left arm. As a combo I slash again and destroy a part of armor on the chest.
Hana takes the charge and ripostes towards his belly. The sword easily slides in and the Armor winces, somehow their spirits can be harmed physically.
Ciel parries the attack while stepping back and digs her glaive on the Armor’s shoulder. With a bit of a yank she removes the glaive and parries the next attack.
I feel the mana circling on Lina’s body, she takes the hit head on and immediately counters with a swing on the knee. It gets completely shattered and the Armor falls on its knee.
My Armor tries to swing upwards and gets deflected again. I slide my blade on the exposed chest armor and pierces a lung, not that the spirit breathes, but it does “feel” pain.
Hana slashes at the Living Armor’s chest and it’s sword is caught on the way and sent flying. She finishes the Armor by decapitating it, the crumbling bevor did nothing to protect its neck. The spirit believes it’s alive, if you cut its head off it will believe it’s “dead” and truly die.
Ciel digs her glaive on the arm of the Armor, it tries to shorten the distance but gets a kick and it’s pushed back again. Now it has only one functioning arm.
Lina takes the chance and swings her hammer upwards and it connects with the chin of the armor, its bevor gets crushed and the helmet flies off. It’s “dead”.
I bash my Armor on the moment it winces in pain. It falls backwards and I thrust my sword on it’s neck, I use the bevor as a lever and push the sallet upwards. Then I thrust my blade on its round, featureless, and ethereal face, it’s “dead”.
Ciel parries the weak slash and thrusts towards the heart. The blade slides in and she twists it, the armor squirms and struggles in pain for a few seconds then “dies”.
The remaining metal of the Living Armors corrodes and turns to dust.
-That was easy- Lina says.
-This is the first level with these monsters, they aren’t that good- Hana says.
-These were specially weak, really old looking. Living Armors shouldn’t be this rusty- I say.
-The ones at the guild looks like ceremonial armors compared to these ones- Alissa says.
We move inside the building. It’s rather large but completely empty, at least there’s no ruined furniture, debris or skeletons. The walls are decorated with carvings of battles, mostly have winged humanoids and monsters fighting each other. The building has no seams, it’s like it’s carved from a rock of white marble with streaks of black, it’s certainly not the minimalist architecture of the chimeras.
-I have a few hits. Humanoids… I think I recognize three of them- Alissa says.
Oh? We better go meet them.
Me and Ciel share a look, we don’t really believe in coincidences.
I have never been happier, free to explore the library, discussing what I read everyday, continuing my training in enchanting, actually fighting alongside strong people. Mom, dad, I’m okay now, I’m happy. I just want you to know that, I don’t want you to feel guilty anymore, I don’t blame you for selling me, I just want you to know that I’m happy.
Master Hilde, thank you for everything.
I thought master wouldn’t find me attractive seeing how Ciel is… Big. But now I’m sure I’m making him happy, it’s the least I can do to repay this new life. Even so I have been training, this time I will have strength, this time I will have power, when the time comes, none shall stand on his path.
Angelina Jolie on Her Parenting Style, Being Unpopular in School, and Dealing with Her Emotional Scars
Angelina Jolie on Her Parenting Style, Being Unpopular in School, and Dealing with Her Emotional Scars Photographs by Sølve Sundsbø; Fashion Editor: Patrick Mackie Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø More As we wrap up 2019, and look ahead to 2020, Harper’s BAZAAR chose Angelina Jolie to grace our final issue of the year because quite simply, there’s no one else like her. Jolie has spent nearly 20 years with the UN Refugee Agency fighting for the rights and freedoms of displaced people, and over 10 years funding schools for girls from Afghanistan to Kenya to Cambodia. She is a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics, educating students on peace and security and the fight for women’s rights internationally. She champions women’s health—in particular, treatment for cancer—with honesty and openness about her own health experiences in years past. Here, she writes candidly about “visible and invisible scars,” her fight for freedom around the world, and why she doesn’t mind sharing her new home in Cambodia with a family of chipmunks. HARPER’S BAZAAR: We recognize in these photos the free-spirited, bold side of you we know from old. Is that a fair characterization? ANGELINA JOLIE: My body has been through a lot over the past decade, particularly the past four years, and I have both the visible and invisible scars to show for it. The invisible ones are harder to wrestle with. Life takes many turns. Sometimes you get hurt, you see those you love in pain, and you can’t be as free and open as your spirit desires. It’s not new or old, but I do feel the blood returning to my body. Do you feel like you’re finding yourself again? AJ: The part of us that is free, wild, open, curious can get shut down by life. By pain or by harm. My children know my true self, and they have helped me to find it again and to embrace it. They have been through a lot. I learn from their strength. As parents, we encourage our kids to embrace all that they are, and all that they know in their hearts to be right, and they look back at us and want the same for us. As a mother of six, in a world of social media on a public stage, under relentless scrutiny, how do you teach your kids to be bold? AJ: Knowing our true self is a very important question for all of us. Especially a child. I think kids need to be able to say, “Here’s who I am, and what I believe.” We can’t prevent them from experiencing pain, heartache, physical pain, and loss. But we can teach them to live better through it. Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø More Story continues As a public figure, how do you deal with the frustration of constantly being misunderstood? What do you think is the biggest misconception about you? AJ: I have a tattoo, “A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages.” I got it when I was 20. I was with my mom one evening, and I was feeling lost. I was restless—always. I still am. We were driving to dinner, and she talked about spending time with Tennessee Williams and how much she loved his words. She told me he wrote that, about the wild at heart. We drove to a tattoo parlor, and I got it inked on my left arm. What she did for me that night was to remind me that the wild within me is alright and a part of me. I see so much beauty in other people. Not when they are pretending to be something other than their true selves. Not when they are harming others. Not when they lie. But the wild ones. The emotional, open, searching ones, longing to be free. The honest ones. Because anything else is a cage impossible to live in. This is our end-of-year edition. Looking ahead to 2020, do you have a message for our readers? AJ: My dream for everyone in 2020 is to remember who they are and to be who they are regardless of what might be disrupting their ability to be free. If you feel you are not living your life fully, try to identify what it is or who it is that is blocking you from breathing. Identify and fight past whatever is oppressing you. That takes many forms, and it is going to be a different fight for everyone. I say this with a deep understanding that for so many women, freedom is simply not an option. Their own system, community, family, government works against them and is part of what is shutting them down. I’m reading the book No Visible Bruises , which points out that between 2000 and 2006 more American women died from domestic homicide than American soldiers died on the battlefield. It is shocking that across the world the most dangerous place for women today is the home. There are still more than a dozen countries where violence against a wife or family member is legal. And more than 10 countries where perpetrators of rape can still escape prosecution if they marry the victim. And there are more than 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including nearly 26 million refugees. None of this is just “the way the world is.” It is something monstrously out of balance. And our response can’t be to shrug or to think only about our own countries, because we are all connected. This is a time to fight. If there is a fight in this life, it must be for freedoms and rights. And if we have our freedom, we must fight for others who don’t. Sounds rebellious AJ: If nobody ever rebelled, nothing would ever change. Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø More As a woman, what does it mean to be truly free? And to live boldly? AJ: A life fully lived is very hard to do. And for many women it is impossible because of what they are up against. I am conscious every day that I have the freedom to speak openly and to make my own choices. And the ability to encourage my children to explore the world, including the world of ideas and expression, without there being limits to what they are allowed to study or know or imagine themselves doing in the future. I think we all know boldness when we see it. Nothing makes me smile more than when I see someone being fully themselves, with their own individual style and character, whatever that is. How did you like to dress when you were younger? AJ: At school I wasn’t that popular person; I was a punk. I loved leather, PVC, and fishnets. Those were my three favorite fabrics in my early 20s. I remember the first time I wore PVC pants. I was waiting for an audition, sitting in the sun in L.A. By the time it was my turn, my pants had fused together. I didn’t get the part. But I loved those pants. I wore something similar when I married Jonny [Lee Miller]. Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø More Women often feel forced to live up to the standards of “the perfect mother” and “the perfect wife.” Do you think this idea of perfection is dangerous and damaging to women? AJ: Labeling people and putting them into boxes isn’t freedom. Difference and diversity are what I value most—in my family and in others. I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is the same, and I imagine that’s true for everyone reading this. I want to meet people I’ve never met before and learn things I don’t know. The challenge today is to embrace our differences. And not to be fooled by efforts to divide us or make us fear others. We’re seeing a retreat of values worldwide. Many governments are less willing to stand up for the kinds of values that previous generations fought and died to secure. When governments stand back, people have to lead the way, as they are in different parts of the world. Have you ever felt restricted in your own life? AJ: I don’t think of myself that way. In my youth, I focused on what I didn’t have. But as I traveled in my early 20s, my awakening was realizing the freedoms I had in comparison to many people around the world. I’d experienced a childhood free of war. And since then I’ve had the freedom to build my family, to create art, and to play the characters I have. It’s one of the reasons I’ve invested in schools for girls in different countries. To see anyone—but especially a young girl with so much potential—denied their freedom is infuriating to me. I don’t think we will be living in a new era for women’s rights until there has been progress. Until people who’ve raped and abused women and girls in Syria and Myanmar and the DRC, for example, are held accountable. That’s why the focus for the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative is to push for an international accountability mechanism, a body that would allow us to overcome the barriers to justice so prosecutions happen. Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø More Has there been progress in Hollywood, in light of #MeToo? AJ: As anybody knows, the usual starting point in any situation like this is an independent inquiry by experts who can look into the facts and identify what legal changes and protections are needed so there is some measure of independent expert scrutiny and accountability. That hasn’t happened. You built a home in the Cambodian jungle and became a Cambodian citizen. Can you tell us about that decision? What were some of the biggest challenges? And biggest rewards? AJ: When you have a loud mind, as I do, you go to places that quiet you, and I find that in the desert, or in the jungle in Cambodia. When I first went to Cambodia, I thought people would be hardened by having experienced so much war and suffering. But in fact it was the opposite. I found them to be full of grace and fight and life. It’s a home and a headquarters for my foundation. There were physical challenges, though. We had to clear nearly 50 land mines before we could live there. You have traveled the world as both an actor and a United Nations special envoy. What is your favorite place? AJ: My favorite place is somewhere I’ve never been. I like to be dropped into the middle of something new. I enjoy being out of my element. I want the children to grow up in the world—not just learning about it but living it and having friends around the world. Next year we break ground on a home in Africa. Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø More Are you going back to Cambodia soon? AJ: We got a call the other day informing us that chipmunks have moved into the house. They asked if we should remove them, and Vivienne was very clear that we needed to cover the wires and let them stay. However, the local snakes may have their own opinion on that. The last time I stayed there, I heard screaming down the hall because a friend had found a giant lizard under their pillow. Clearly, the animals are there more than I am and they feel it is their home. You talk about wanting to encourage your children to explore the world, including the world of ideas and expression. Can you give a specific example of a time when you and your family personally butted up against these kinds of unspoken societal limits? AJ: I would love to live abroad and will do so as soon as my children are 18. Right now I’m having to base where their father chooses to live. You say you want freedom for others. What do you mean? AJ: I do, and not just for those who are oppressed or living with limited rights. I often ask people, “What is it you’ve always wanted to do?” Ninety percent of the time it is an attainable goal and something they admit they could have already done. I think the challenge is to ask yourself what you’ve always wanted to do, and do it. Don’t just be comfortable with what is generally accepted, but find the new. Find your oxygen, your originality, your own voice. Live more fully. Rebel. Resist. Question. Be curious. Explore. Go outside what is comfortable to you. Say the thing you’ve been afraid to say. Put down this magazine, and go and do one thing today you’ve never done before. ANGELINA’S MISSION Angelina Jolie is Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, after 18 years with the agency, and Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics Centre for Women, Peace and Security. She is also cofounder of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, a global campaign against war-zone rape. Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø GET THE LATEST ISSUE OF BAZAAR This article originally appears in the Dec-Jan 2019-2020 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, available on newsstands November 19. Hair: Malcolm Edwards; Makeup: Val Garland; Manicure: Chisato Yamamoto; Production: LaLaLand; Set design: Max Bellhouse; Retouching: Digital Light Ltd. You Might Also Like
“New on Netflix: the best movies and TV shows released every day – RadioTimes” plus 2 more
“New on Netflix: the best movies and TV shows released every day – RadioTimes” plus 2 more New on Netflix: the best movies and TV shows released every day – RadioTimes Best Netflix Original Movies on Netflix: November 2019 – What's on Netflix Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Performance, Ranked – Vulture New on Netflix: the best movies and TV shows released every day – RadioTimes
Posted: 05 Nov 2019 03:18 AM PST
Your daily guide to everything recently added to Netflix UK – discover the best new shows and movies to stream now
Tuesday, 5th November 2019 at 11:18 am You’re currently on page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 16 Next From the biggest Netflix Original films to the best TV series, check out all the best new releases to watch on Netflix .
Advertisement With a new show or film to stream added to the list every day, you’ll never be stuck for what to watch on Netflix again. Check out the list below…
Tuesday 5th November: Holiday in the Wild [embedded content]
Starring Rob Lowe and Kristin Davis, this unusual love story sees a divorcee travel to a Zambian safari and ends up rescuing an orphan baby elephant with help from a charming pilot – eventually extending her stay over the festive period. Watch on Netflix
Monday 4th November: The King [embedded content]
Based on several plays from Shakespeare’s ‘Henriad’ this epic historical drama stars Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V. Also starring are Joel Edgerton, Lily-Rose Depp, Robert Pattinson and Ben Mendelsohn. Watch on Netflix
Friday 1st November: Queer Eye – We’re in Japan! [embedded content]
The Fab Five take the hit show abroad for the first time, bringing their makeover skills and words of wisdom to the Far East. They’ll also learn a thing or two themselves, soaking up Japanese culture with help from guide Kiko Mizuhara. Watch on Netflix
Thursday 31st October: Ghost Stories [embedded content]
Adapted from the award-winning stage play by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, this frightening medley sees a paranormal debunker (Nyman) tasked with solving three ghostly mysteries. Martin Freeman also stars. Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 30th October: Prank Encounters [embedded content]
Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo hosts this controversial hidden-camera trick show, which follows two people who believe they are starting in a new job… Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 29th October: Arsenio Hall: Smart & Classy [embedded content]
The American talk show host makes his Netflix comedy special debut. Watch on Netflix
Monday 28th October: The House of Flowers [embedded content]
Series two of the sinfully entertaining Mexican drama about a family who run a big florist’s shop. It’s the backdrop for a camp, cheeky soap opera full of affairs, rivalries, outlandish characters and majestic over-reactions… Watch on Netflix
Friday 25th October: BoJack Horseman season 6 part 1 [embedded content]
The brilliant Netflix animation – about an anthropomorphic horse with a substance abuse problem – is back with the first half of its final season. Watch on Netflix
Thursday 24th October: Daybreak [embedded content]
A darkly comic coming-of-age series set during the apocalypse, featuring Matthew Broderick. Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 22nd October: Jenny Slate – Stage Fright [embedded content]
The comedy actress lands her first Netflix stand-up special. Watch on Netflix
Friday 18th October: Living with Yourself [embedded content]
In this dark comedy, Avengers and Ant-Man star Paul Rudd plays a double role as a depressed advertising executive called Miles and his seemingly-perfect clone… Watch on Netflix
Thursday 17th October: The Hook Up Plan [embedded content]
The return of a French comedy drama that’s frothier than cappuccino foam: after ten months out of town, our goofy 30-ish heroine Elsa (Zita Hanrot) is back. Surely now she’ll settle down into a stable relationship..? Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 16th October: Rotten [embedded content]
Series two of a confrontational investigative show that aims to force you to rethink how you buy food, by pointing out the ethical and health issues with items you might have thought were benign. Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 15th October: In the Tall Grass [embedded content]
Horror film based on Stephen King’s novella of the same name about two siblings who get trapped in a field in Kansas. . . Watch on Netflix
Monday 14th October: Insatiable season 2 [embedded content]
The return of the controversial teen comedy about a newly thin teen who seeks revenge on those who fat-shamed her in the past. Watch on Netflix
Saturday 12th October: Fractured [embedded content]
A new horror film that finds a father (Sam Worthington) on the hunt for his wife and daughter, who disappear after a visit to a mysterious hospital… Watch on Netflix
Friday 11th October: El Camino: a Breaking Bad Movie [embedded content]
The wait is over: we finally get to find out what happened to junkie-turned-meth-maker-turned-neo-Nazi-slave Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) following his dramatic escape from captivity… Watch on Netflix
Thursday 10th October: Riverdale season 4 [embedded content]
Archie (KJ Apa) and the gang are back for more melodramatic and supernatural hijinks in the drama based on characters from the Archie Comics… Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 9th October: Rhythm + Flow [embedded content]
Chance The Rapper and Cardi B lead a hip-hop talent show in the vein of The X Factor, with episodes dropping weekly… Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 8th October: Raising Dion [embedded content]
Sci-fi series about a single mother raising a young son with super powers after the death of her husband (played by Michael B Jordan). Watch on Netflix
Friday 4th October: Big Mouth season 3 [embedded content]
The animated comedy series about the trials and tribulations of puberty returns, with a guest appearance from the cast of Queer Eye… Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 2nd October: Living Undocumented [embedded content]
Selena Gomez exec-produces this documentary about eight undocumented families facing deportation from the US as immigration policies are transformed. Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 1st October: The Big Bang Theory season 12 [embedded content]
Growing up, settling down and having kids all resulted in the Friends being put out to pasture. And with our nerd-friends at a similar stage in life, The Big Bang Theory now embarks on its own last series… Watch on Netflix
Monday 30th September: Mo Gilligan – Momentum [embedded content]
The British comedian’s first stand-up special for Netflix is here. Watch on Netflix
Friday 27th September: The Politician [embedded content]
Wealthy student Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) mounts his campaign to get elected as student body president of his high school with the help of his mother (Gwyneth Paltrow) in this satirical comedy from Ryan Murphy. Watch on Netflix
Thursday 26th September: Call Me by Your Name [embedded content]
Oscar and Bafta-winning romantic drama, starring Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg, based on the 2007 debut novel by André Aciman. Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 25th September: Glitch season 3 [embedded content]
Australian mystery drama about a group of people who return from the dead in perfect health… Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 24th September: Disenchantment part 2 [embedded content]
Matt Groening’s fantasy animated series continues after last year’s tragic conclusion. Watch on Netflix
Friday 20th September [embedded content]
David Tennant and Hayley Atwell feature in this international anthology series set within the walls of a police interrogation suite. Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 18th September: Marianne [embedded content]
This French horror series was released on Friday 13th September (of course) – a writer discovers that the evil spirit who plagues her dreams is now wreaking havoc in the real world. . . Watch on Netflix
Merritt Wever and Toni Collette play detectives who uncover a pattern of rape cases — three years after a young woman was accused of fabricating a rape report. Watch on Netflix
Friday 13th September: Top Boy [embedded content]
Six years after being cancelled by Channel 4, Aubrey “Drake” Graham and Netflix have revived the British drama that centres on a group of drug dealers in Hackney, east London. Watch on Netflix
Thursday 12th September: The I-Land [embedded content]
Ten people wake up on a strange island with no memory of how they got there, and soon discover the world is not as it seems… Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 11th September: Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father – season 3 [embedded content]
In the new third run, the comedian brings his curmudgeonly dad to the USA, visiting Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 10th September: Elite season 2 [embedded content]
The Spanish teen drama unveiled the killer at the heart of its murder mystery at the end of season one, but a lot of questions were left unanswered… Watch on Netflix
Sunday 8th September: The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco [embedded content]
In this spin-off/revival of the ITV series, Millie (Rachael Stirling) and Jean (Julie Graham) travel to San Francisco and continue to use their code-breaking skills to solve murders. Watch on Netflix
Friday 6th September: The Spy [embedded content]
Sacha Baron Cohen stars as real-life Mossad agent Eli Cohen, who successfully went undercover in Syria in the early 1960s. Watch on Netflix
Monday 2nd September: Falling Inn Love [embedded content]
A cheesy, low-stakes romcom led by Christina Milian, who plays a tech worker in Silicon Valley who uproots and moves to New Zealand after she wins an inn via an online competition. Watch on Netflix
Friday 30th August: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance [embedded content]
Almost 40 years on, Netflix have created a prequel to Jim Henson’s beloved fantasy film, set on the planet Thra… Watch on Netflix
Read our full The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance review
Tuesday 27th August: Dave Chappelle – Sticks and Stones [embedded content]
The comedian returns with another controversial and defiant stand-up special filmed in Atlanta. Watch on Netflix
Friday 23rd August: 13 Reasons Why season 3 [embedded content]
This controversial drama is back for a third season following a cliffhanger ending. What will happen to Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and his classmates at Liberty High School after that failed school shooting? Watch on Netflix
Thursday 22nd August: American Factory [embedded content]
The first documentary from the Obamas’ production company Higher Ground, which looks at a culture clash in Ohio after a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory. Watch on Netflix
Friday 16th August: Mindhunter season 2 [embedded content]
David Fincher’s extremely dark and twisted drama series returns. It sees Jonathan Groff’s Holden Ford, an FBI agent in the late 1970s, attempt to get inside the minds of the most depraved of serial killers, incuding, this year, Charles Manson. Watch on Netflix
Wednesday 14th August: Sintonia [embedded content]
A coming-of-age tale set in the favelas of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Watch on Netflix
Tuesday 13th August: Tiffany Haddish Presents – They Ready [embedded content]
Advertisement The Girls Trip star introduces the world to six of her favourite up-and-coming comedians. Watch on Netflix
You’re currently on page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 16 Next Tags Best Netflix Original Movies on Netflix: November 2019 – What's on Netflix
Posted: 04 Nov 2019 03:51 AM PST
Our start to the Christmas countdown begins anew as we enter November! The Fall releases have been very bountiful with some excellent new titles being added every week. We’ve selected the best 50 Original movies that are now available to watch at your leisure. Here are the best Original movies on Netflix for November 2019.
Remember we update this list every month adding the best brand new Original titles.
50. The Incredible Jessica James Director: Jim Strouse
Cast: Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield, Noël Wells
Released on Netflix: July 28, 2017
IMDb: 6.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Jessica, an aspiring playwright in New York City, is trying to get over a recent break-up when she meets Boone, also recovering from a recent split. Together, they figure out a way to make it in a “post-relationship” world.
Director: Kyle Newacheck
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Gemma Arterton, Shiori Kutsuna
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Released on Netflix: June 14, 2019
IMDb: 6.0/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
After many years of promising to take his wife to Europe, New York City police officer Nick Spitz finally books the vacation. On the flight to Europe, the couple has a chance encounter with a mysterious man that invites them to a family gathering on a superyacht of an elderly billionaire. When the billionaire is murdered, events spiral out of control as Nick and his wife Audrey are framed for the murder.
The quality of Adam Sandler’s films has been one of much debate over the years. While the comedian has made some absolute stinkers over the years, he’s also had plenty of smash hits. Despite the poor response from the critics, Murder Mystery was one of the most-watched films of 2019! In the first month, over 73,000,000 households watched Sandler’s latest Original film. 48. Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Justin Timberlake
Genre: Documentary, Music
Released on Netflix: October 12, 2016
IMDb: 8.0/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
The final performance of Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids’ 20/20 Experience World Tour, filmed in 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
This is a brilliant and captivating performance by Justin Timberlake in the culmination of his 20/202 world tour.
47. Tallulah Director: Sian Heder
Cast: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit
Released on Netflix: July 29, 2016
IMDb: 6.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
A young woman takes a baby from an irresponsible mother and pretends the child is hers. Without a place of her own, she asks for the help of her ex-boyfriend’s mother, telling her the baby is her granddaughter.
This film surprisingly went under the radar back in 2016. It’s a charming movie with a brilliant performance from Ellen Page that brings an insightful look into what makes a mother. Entertaining from the outset, make sure to add this to your watchlist for those nights in.
46. Little Evil Director: Eli Craig
Cast: Evangeline Lilly, Owen Atlas, Adam Scott, Marcus Terrell Smith
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Released on Netflix: September 1, 2017
IMDb: 5.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
A newly married man starts to believe that his 5-year-old stepson is the spawn of Satan.
For a spoof, Little Evil is surprisingly great. With a hilarious performance from Adam Scott playing the role of step-dad, he tries to be a great father to his new stepson. The hilarity kicks in once he starts to believe his stepson is actually the Anti-Christ. With a lot of heart, this sweet and charming take on the “Spawn of Satan” genre deserves a place in your queue.
45. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile Director: Joe Berlinger
Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, James Hetfield, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment
Genre: Biography, Thriller
Released on Netflix:
IMDb: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Shown from the perspective of Elizabeth Kloepfer, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile chronicles the events of Ted Bundy’s infamous and terrible crimes. Elizabeth the longtime girlfriend of Ted Bundy refused to believe the awful truth behind Bundy’s good looks and charismatic charm.
While the film has split opinion down the middle, Zac Efron’s performance as the charming and yet cold killer Ted Bundy is great. Finally, in a role where he can show off some of his acting talents, his performance was aided with the equally excellent Lilly Collins. This needs to be added to your que ASAP!
44. The Babysitter Director: McG
Cast: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Released on Netflix: 13 October 2017
IMDb: 6.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
A new twist on the horror/comedy, this fun bloodfest is a modern twist on the Home Alone -style story. Twelve-year-old Cole Johnson is dared by his friends to spy on his babysitter ‘Bee’ to see what she gets up too while he’s supposed to be asleep, what starts out as a simple game of truth or dare between Bee and her friends she’s brought to his home, to Cole’s horror he witnesses a demonic ritual, caught by her friends Cole must fight for his life to stop Bee and her Murderous friends.
While not critically acclaimed this was certainly a new take on the horror/comedy genre. A fun film and a must watch out from the Netflix catalog.
43. Tramps Director: Adam Leon
Cast: Callum Turner, Grace Van Patten, Michal Vondel, Mike Birbiglia
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Released on Netflix: April 21, 2017
IMDb: 6.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Pulled into a shady briefcase swap for different reasons, young strangers Danny and Ellie spend two days trying to get the briefcase back after the deal goes wrong.
A short and sweet film that compacts a lot in its 82 Minute run time, director Adam Leon was able to capture its charm and intimacy showing that we don’t always need a big epic plot all we need sometimes is a small setting and an excuse for two people to fall for each other. A sincere and fantastic little love story, make sure you give it a watch.
42. Gerald’s Game Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Carel Struycken
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Released on Netflix: 29 September 2017
IMDb: 6.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
As you’d expect from an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, this movie is one of the tensest in the original library, scoring well with fans and critics alike. Set in rural Alabama, this film is about a couple who tries to spice up their sex life with disastrous consequences, turning into a fantastic psychological horror.
As you’d expect from a superbly written Stephen King novel, the characters are well fleshed out and most importantly, the tension that his books achieve so well to build carries over to the movie equivalent. A must watch.
41. Imperial Dreams Director: Malik Vitthal
Cast: John Boyega, Rotimi, Glenn Plummer, De’aundre Bonds
Released on Netflix: February 3, 2017
IMDb: 6.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Reformed gangster Bambi has his devotion to his family is tested when he is released from prison and returns to his old neighborhood.
Technically one of Netflix’s oldest Originals, the film initially released in early 2014 at the Sundance film festival. It wasn’t until three years later that Netflix would pick up the exclusive rights to stream the movie. Initially one of John Boyega’s first big lead roles, his captivating performance shows why he has gone on to star in Star Wars, one of the biggest franchises in movie history. Cynical and less glamorous than other L.A gangster films, Imperial Dreams gives you an insight into the struggle of a post-incarcerated black man.
40. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore Director: Chris Smith
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Chris Doubek, Marilyn Faith Hickey, Jared Roylance, Elijah Wood
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Released on Netflix: January 19, 2017
IMDb: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
After being burgled, depressed woman Ruth and her obnoxious neighbor set out to find the thieves, but they soon find themselves up against a group of dangerous criminals.
Easily best described as a dark comedy, this film takes you on a journey you least expect to take. The acting is fantastic with a notable performance by Melanie Lynskey and a great directorial feature film debut from Macon Blair. This film produces a sense of realism. While some may see that as depressing feature, shining a light on what’s wrong with the world makes it a more captivating film to watch.
39. Winter on Fire – Oscar Nominated Director: Evgeny Afineevsky
Cast: Bishop Agapit, Catherine Ashton, Serhii Averchenko, Kristina Berdinskikh
Released on Netflix: October 9, 2015
IMDb: 8.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
A civil rights movement erupts in Ukraine after a peaceful student protest quickly morphs into a violent revolution.
Powerful, captivating and harrowing, this documentary was nominated for an Oscar after its release in 2015 and it’s understandable to see why. If you were unsure as to what happened in Ukraine back in the winter of 2013/2014 you’ll witness harrowing first-hand accounts of what the Ukrainian protesters had to contend with to fight for their freedom of speech. What started out as peaceful protests almost tore the country asunder.
38. Our Souls At Night Director: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Judy Greer, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Matthias Schoenaerts
Genre: Drama, Romance
Released on Netflix: September 29, 2017
IMDb: 6.9/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Addie Moore, a widow, and Louis Waters, a widower, have lived next door to each other for years. When Addie tries to make a connection with her neighbor, the two begin sleeping in bed together platonically, with the innocent goal of alleviating their shared loneliness. As their relationship deepens, however, they each deal with grief and loss, and a real romance begins to blossom.
Jane Fonda and Robert Redford reunite to take part in this very sweet and heart touching movie. Diving deep into how the soul deals with a loss, this charming film will pull on the heartstrings.
37. Christmas Chronicles Director: Clay Katis
Cast: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis, Oliver Hudson, Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Released on Netflix: 22nd November 2018
IMDb: 7.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Brother Teddy and Sister Kate Pierce scheme to capture Santa Clause on Christmas Eve. After the plan goes disastrously wrong, the sibling pair must help Santa Clause and his elves save Christmas.
At the time of writing the film has already been watched over 20,000,000 times! A future Christmas classic, the latest Christmas original has been enjoyed by millions worldwide. Kurt Russell’s casting as Jolly Saint Nick was nothing short of fantastic.
36. The Other Side of the Wind Director: Orson Welles
Cast: Oja Kodar, Peter Bogandovich, John Huston, Susan Strasberg,
Released on Netflix: 2nd November 2018
IMDb: 7.2/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
An aging director returns to the film industry after his self-imposed exile. Hoping to reignite his failing career director John Huston creates an extravagant comeback film.
The last ever film by legendary film director as taken almost 50 years to release since production began in 1970. The film could be considered a self-reflection of how Orson Welles may have felt during the making of this film. While the film hasn’t had the same impact as Citizen Kane , The Other Side of The Wind is a fitting swan song for a director long since past.
35. Virunga Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Cast: André Bauma, Emmanuel de Merode, Mélanie Gouby, Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo
Genre: Documentary, War
Released on Netflix: April 17, 2014
IMDb: 8.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
A team of brave individuals risks their lives to protect the last mountain gorillas.
Sometimes we forget the evil humanity can commit and the dangers of the of our civilization and what it does ecosystems of the world. The fact this documentary is central to the last group of Mountain Gorillas speaks for itself, with that this documentary deserves the same level of attention as what Blackfish received, this heart-wrenching documentary will keep you in suspense and tear at your emotions as you have to deal with the harrowing account of the Gorillas plight for survival and those that protect them.
34. Between Two Ferns: The Movie Director: Scott Aukerman
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Mekdara, Mo Zelof, Phil Hendrie
Released on Netflix: September 20th, 2019
IMDb: 6.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Zach had a dream, a dream of “becoming a star”. Be careful what you wish for as Zach becomes a laughing stock online after Will Ferrell uploads his show Between Two Ferns to Funny or Die. In an effort to restore his reputation, Zach and the crew hit the road interviewing high profile celebrities along the way.
After a six-year hiatus, Zach and his ferns came back to conduct even more hilarious and cringe-inducing interviews with celebrities.
33. The Fundamentals of Caring Director: Rob Burnett
Cast: Alex Huff, Donna Biscoe, Paul Rudd, Julia Denton
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Released on Netflix: 24 June 2016
IMDb: 7.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Selena Gomez is no stranger to Netflix as she produces the infinitely popular Netflix Original series, 13 Reasons Why. Before that released though came this quaint comedy starring herself and Paul Rudd. The comedy looks to tear apart stigmas of disabilities as a writer who is stuck in the past and a young boy with a disability venture on a road trip together. It’s a feel-good story that has a great ending and a fun soundtrack throughout.
Despite Paul Rudd now being best known for his role in Ant-Man, we believe this is his defining role as it just goes to show that not all superheroes wear capes.
32. Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour Director: Ben Wheatly
Cast: Taylor Swift
Genre: Musical, Reality
Released on Netflix: December 31, 2018
IMDb: 8.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Mega Pop-Star takes to the stage for her record-breaking 5th worldwide stadium tour. Performing her latest and best music in her phenomenal set, Taylor wowed millions of fans worldwide.
31. Triple Frontier Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Adria Arjona
Genre: Action, Thriller
Released on Netflix: March 3, 2019
IMDb: 6.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers, these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for self instead of country. But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties, and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.
With an all-star cast of some of Hollywood’s most popular leading men and packed with plenty of action, Triple Frontier will more than keep you entertained.
30. 1922 Director: Zak Hilditch
Cast: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard
Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
Released on Netflix: October 20, 2017
IMDb: 6.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Rancher Wilfred James conspires to murder his wife Arlette for financial gain and convinces his teenage son Henry to participate.
Based on the novella of the same name by Stephen King, a wonderful film of suspense this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat as it explores what guilt can do to the human mind. The screenplay was written and directed by Zak Hilditch and his adaptation is definitely a must-watch. Even Stephen King infamously known for panning adaptations of his work praised the film.
29. Always Be My Maybe (2019) Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim, Ashley Liao
Genre: Comedy, Romantic
Released on Netflix: May 31st, 2019
IMDb: 7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Marcus and Sasha have been lifetime friends, ever since they were kids the pair have always been close but never romantically involved. Finally, as adults, Sasha is single and Marcus who’s been in love with her for many years is building up the courage to ask her out. Chickening out last minute to tell her his feelings over the phone, he asks to meet up with her the next day, only for Sasha to tell Marcus she met someone the night before.
28. First They Killed My Father Director: Angelina Jolie
Cast: Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata, Mun Kimhak
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Released on Netflix: September 15, 2017
IMDb: 7.2/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Amid the sudden and terrifying rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, 7-year-old girl Loung Ung must fight for her survival.
Told from the narrative of a child, Angelina Jolie’s 6 directing credit is her best to date. With an emphatic approach to the emotion that a child goes through during a time of great turmoil, this film was handled beautifully. Well received by both critics and audiences at home, this gracefully crafted film is a highlight of the Netflix library.
27. The Meyerowitz Stories Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Released on Netflix: 13 October 2017
IMDb: 7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Sandler ditches his traditional in your face comedy for a beautifully written movie with some fantastic talent involved. Ultimately, the movie is about a broken family with two sons who have spent their life vying for their father’s attention. Both have taken different directions in their lives with neither seemingly being good enough for their father. The movie is dubbed as a comedy but it’s actually more of a drama interspersed with subtle humor and a family dynamic that’s three dimensional and realistic. If none of the other Netflix Sandler movies are to your taste then this is the movie for you.
26. High Flying Bird Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Zazie Beetz, Andre Holland, Bill Duke, Caleb McLaughlin, Sonja Sohn
Genre: Drama, Sport
Released on Netflix: February 8th, 2019
IMDb: 6.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
During an NBA Lockdown a high profile Sports Agent looks to change the industry after he pitches a controversial opportunity to a Rookie Basketball client.
Incredibly the entire film was filmed on iPhone and the level of creativity used in the camera work is one of the big reasons why the film has had praise heaped upon it.
25. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Director: David Slade
Cast: Will Poulter, Fionn Whitehead, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry, Craig Parkinson
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Released on Netflix: December 28, 2018
IMDb: 7.6/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
It’s the year 1984 and young programmer Stefan Butler is developing his own video game called Bandersnatch. Stefan’s choices are your choices, will Bandersnatch become a smash hit or will the pressure go to poor Stefan’s head? The choice is up to you…
While Bandersnatch cannot be credited for being the first interactive title on Netflix, it certainly now is the most well known. Most fans may have preferred an actual film/episode but all credit to Netflix and Charlie Brooker’s team for putting together an enigmatic title like Bandersnatch. If you haven’t already tuned make sure to add this to your watchlist right now!
24. Private Life Director: Tamara Jenkins
Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Emily Robinson, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Released on Netflix: October 5th
IMDb: 7.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Middle-aged couple Richard and Rachel have been desperate to start a family. On multiple occasions, they have failed to conceive a child and even assisted reproduction has resulted in failure. With not much hope of ever having a child, they turn to the daughter of their Sister-in-Law for help in the hope of having a child.
While Private Life is one of the latest films available to stream on Netflix the movie actually debuted earlier this year at the Sundance film festival and was well received by critics for its handling of a story of such a sensitive nature. the film will take you on an emotional roller coaster of emotions.
23. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Director: Andy Serkis
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Released on Netflix: 7th December 2018
IMDb: 6.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Orphan Mowgli is raised by a pack of wolves after the Tiger Shere Khan killed his parents. While growing he is taught the rules and laws of the Jungle by Black Panther Bagheera and Baloo the Bear. But as his trial to join officially join his wolf pack draws closer, the threat of Shere Khan looms over the jungle.
There have been many adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s novel over the years and many would have thought it too soon after Disney’s 2016 adaptation. But with Andy Serkis in the director’s seat, it’s clear how much influence he had on the animation of the film. It took many years for the film to finally be released but what a spectacle it is. Make sure to add this film to your watch list.
22. Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling Directors: Joe Murray, Cosmo Segurson
Cast: Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Charlie Adler, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Short
Released on Netflix: 9th August 2019
IMDb: 7.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
In 1996, the Australian Wallaby disappeared off our screens. Over 20 years later and Rocko has returned from space only to discover his home has drastically changed. As Rocko and his friends learn about the wonders and changes of the 21st century, he discovers his favorite cartoon has been taken off the air! It’s up to Rocko to find the creator and bring back the cartoon.
21. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Director: Susan Johnson
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Andrew Bachelor
Genre: Drama, Romance
Released on Netflix: 17th August 2018
IMDb: 7.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Teenager Lara Jean leads a normal, boring high school life until love letters written to herself were made public. The contents of the letters meant for her eyes only are Lara pouring her heart and soul into saying the things she could never in real life, or more specifically, to all the boys she’s ever loved. Lara’s best friend leaked the letters in the hope of getting Lara a boyfriend. Soon her love life goes from 0 to a 100.
Prior to production, there had been many studios interested in producing the film, but nearly all wanted to change the lead character to Caucasian over Asian. Finally finding a studio that was happy to progress with an American-Asian lead the film went into production. The film itself is very charming and sweet and has gone to become massively popular amongst female audiences both young and old. Actress Lana Condor also can be credited for a fantastic performance in a role made just for her.
20. On Body and Soul – Oscar Nominated Director: Ildikó Enyedi
Cast: Géza Morcsányi, Alexandra Borbély, Zoltán Schneider, Ervin Nagy
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Released on Netflix: February 21, 2018
IMDb: 7.6/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Two shy and socially awkward co-workers Maria and Endre form a special bond through a mysterious mystic connection that manifests in a dream.
The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film this year and it’s easy to see why. This was the comeback film for director Ildikó Enyedi who hadn’t directed a film in over 18 years before its release. She has crafted a visual beauty with sincerity in its approach to lonely individuals finding love one in each other albeit through mystical means and with a great performance from the beautiful Alexandra Borbély the film tugs on the feel factor but leaves you feeling satisfied in the end.
19. 13th – Oscar-nominated Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Melina Abdullah, Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker, Dolores Canales
Genre: Documentary, Crime, History
Released on Netflix: September 30, 2017
IMDb: 8.2/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.
The documentary delves into the racial inequality of America, from Post Slavery through the Jim Crow laws and Segregation all the way into the modern-day. “13th” isn’t afraid to pull its punches with the amount of history it covers in such a short space of time it’s incredible the amount fitted into the documentary within 100 minutes, the fact it feels almost pocket-sized just goes to show the scale of the issue it presents, it would be of no surprise to anyone if they had of made a 4 hour documentary instead they still would have only scratched the surface.10
18. Outlaw King Director: David Mackenzie
Cast: Chris Pine, Florence Pugh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Howle, Stephen Dillane
Genre: Historical, Drama
Released on Netflix: 9th November 2018
IMDb: 7.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
King of Scots Robert de Bruce flees Scotland after an English ambush destroys his forces. Upon his return to his country, what remains of his forces take a final stand against the tyrannical English king.
Chris Pine and the outset deliver a fantastic performance in this historical-action drama. Taking inspiration from the events of real history, the gritty and somewhat gruesome film doesn’t fail to impress. If you are expecting something akin to Braveheart then you may well be surprised. Instead of Kilts, the film chooses to deliver a historically accurate look at the Scottish rebellion.
17. Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus Directors: Young Kyun Park, Jhonen Vasquez, and Hong-Seung Yoon
Cast: Richard Steven Horvitz, Rikki Simons, Ander Berman, Melissa Fahn, Rodger Bumpass
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Released on Netflix: 16th August 2019
IMDb: 7.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
It’s been well over a decade since Invader Zim was last seen on our screens. Thanks to Netflix everyone’s favorite would-be conqueror has returned to take over planet earth! Fun and overwhelmingly entertaining, critics have loved it, we’ve loved and so will you and the family.
16. The Wandering Earth Director: Frant Gwo
Cast: Wu Jing, Ng Man-tat, Qu Chuxiao, Zhao Jinmai, Mike Sui
Released on Netflix: April 30th, 2019
IMDb: 6.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
The Wandering Earth unknown to many is one of 2019’s biggest films of the year. Raking in millions of dollars at the Chinese box office, the film became China’s second highest-grossing film of all time.
In the future, the Sun finally begins to expand. Threatened with extinction, humanity powers the earth with thousands of thrusters sending the planet off into space in the hope of searching for a new solar system to call home. As the planet travels close to Jupiter, a gravity spike causes Earth’s thrusters to lose power. With Earth at risk of crashing into the gas giant, a team of Chinese scientists and astronauts are in a race against time to save the world from destruction.
15. The King Director: David Michôd
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Tom Fisher, Sean Harris, Edward Ashley
Genre: Drama, History
Released on Netflix: November 1st, 2019
IMDb: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Hal, the Prince of Wales, is the reluctant air to the English throne. Having turned his back on royalty and instead choosing to live amongst the people, Hal is happy with his life. After the death of his tyrannical father, King Henry IV, Hal is crowned as the King of England and forced to embrace a life he tried to leave behind. The young king must find his feet as he tries to navigate his way through politics and war.
Fans of the Outlaw King will absolutely love The King. Only the fourth time the Henriad plays have been adapted, visually this is one of the best produced.
14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Director: Joel & Ethan Cohen
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
Released on Netflix: 9th November 2018
IMDb: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Set across six chapters, each story tells the tale of life on the western frontier. A sharpshooter, a bank robber, traveling performers, a prospector, a traveler, and a motley crew all experience life in the west with its own tragedies, ironies, and success.
One of our personal favorites of 2018, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was an exceptionally great and unique experience. The Coen brothers once again did not fail to deliver on the western comedy.
13. Strong Island – Oscar Nominated
Director: Yance Ford
Cast: Yance Ford, Harvey Walker, Kevin Myers, Lauren Ford
Released on Netflix: September 15, 2017
IMDb: 6.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
When filmmaker Yance Ford investigates the 1992 murder of a young black man, it becomes an achingly personal journey since the victim, 24-year-old William Ford Jr., was the filmmaker’s brother.
A deeply personal film, director Yance Ford takes you on a somber journey into the investigation of the death of his brother. A powerful and gut-wrenching film Yance can be proud of the work he put into this for his brother. This documentary will take you on an emotional rollercoaster into the memoir of a loved one’s life.
12. Homecoming: A Film By Beyonce Director: Beyonce, Ed Burke
Released on Netflix: April 17th, 2019
IMDb: 7.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Beyonce’s Netflix debut gave fans and subscribers alike an in-depth look into all the behind scenes work that went into Beyonce’s captivating performance at Coachella.
11. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond Director: Macon Blair
Cast: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman, Peter Bonerz
Released on Netflix: November 17, 2017
IMDb: 7.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Using 100 hours of footage from the set of “Man on the Moon,” filmmaker Chris Smith documents Jim Carrey’s transformation into legendary performance artist and comedian Andy Kaufman.
An incredibly fascinating watch that shows the level of commitment method actors such as Jim Carrey has gone to get into character, Carrey reminiscing of his time playing Andy Kaufman is almost a performance in of itself while also a stark reminder of the level of commitment it takes to put on such a performance. This is a documentary that must be seen, even if you love or hate him I could not recommend this film more.
10. I Am Mother Director: Grant Sputore
Cast: Clara Rugaard-Larsen
Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi
Released on Netflix: 20th June 2019
IMDb: 6.9/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Sci-Fi films are very hit and miss, especially in recent years with some of the Netflix Originals. I Am Mother is definitely the exception and has become a smash hit. One of the sleekest and well-presented Originals to date, I Am Mother has easily become one of our favorites. With a superb story and great acting from a condensed cast, this needs to be added to your watch list ASAP.
In the aftermath of a global extinction that wiped humanity from the face of the Earth, a teenage girl is being raised in an underground facility. Attending to her is ‘Mother’ a robot whose function is to help assist the re-population of Earth. But when a blood-drenched woman arrives unexpectedly, the nature of Mother is called into question as the teenage girl begins to wonder what other lies of the outside world she has been told. As her curiosity leads her to question Mother her true nature is revealed along with the greater mission the robot has been tasked with.
9. Beasts of No Nation Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Cast: Idris Elba, Kurt Egyiawan, Jude Akuwudike
Released on Netflix: 16 October 2015
IMDb: 7.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Beasts of No Nation marked a turning point for Netflix. It’s one of the oldest Netflix Original movies but perhaps, more importantly, it was their first big-budget title that was clearly gunning for the award bodies. Looking back, the movie is one of the most influential Netflix Originals to date. Starring Idris Elba who was hot of the heels of one of his most active years to date, he portrays the warlord Commandant that enslaves kids to commit heinous war crimes. The story follows the young boy Agu, recruited into Commandant’s army he is now the soldier in his country’s civil war.
8. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Director: Vince Gilligan
Cast: Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks. Matt Jones, Charles Baker, Todd Terry
Genre: Action, Drama
Released on Netflix: October 11th, 2019
IMDb: 7.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Thanks to Walt’s unwanted help, Jesse was able to escape the Neo-Nazi compound. As the police begin their manhunt for Jesse, he must find a way to escape New Mexico and be truly free.
Many fans of the ever-popular Breaking Bad series were hoping to see an action-packed and explosive ending to Jesse Pinkman’s story. Instead, we received a fantastic epilogue that fit perfectly into the final arc of Jesse’s character development.
7. Dolemite is My Name Director: Craig Brewer
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Released on Netflix: October 25th, 2019
IMDb: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
After numerous rejections by Hollywood, the multi-talented Rudy Ray Moore looks to create his own blaxploitation film around his character, the wise-cracking, kung-fu fighting, ladies man Dolemite.
In one of his best roles in years, Eddie Murphy has had a triumphant return to form with Dolemite is My Name . If the first of many Netflix roles of Muprhy’s to come then we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.
6. Bird Box Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Machine Gun Kelly
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Released on Netflix: December 13, 2018
IMDb: 6.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
In the not too distant future, a cataclysmic event has wiped most of humanity off the face of the earth. When their safe house becomes too dangerous to stay, mother of 2 Malorie must take her children downstream on a dangerous river to find their next home. All the while they must remain blindfolded for in the new world there are foul creatures that will make any that gaze upon them to take their own life.
There are many that will agree and disagree with how high we’ve ranked Bird Box. Despite any opinions on the film, we cannot deny its overwhelming popularity therefore whether the film was good or not the number of subscribers that tuned in to watch was ginormous.
5. Icarus – Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature Director: Bryan Fogel
Cast: Thomas Bach, Sebastian Coe, Bryan Fogel, Nikita Kamaev
Genre: Documentary, Sport, Thriller
Released on Netflix: August 4, 2017
IMDb: 8.0/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
When filmmaker Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller. Dirty urine, unexplained death, and Olympic gold are all part of the exposure of the biggest scandal in sports history.
Like most documentaries, Netflix produces this is a massive eye-opener into the world of sport and the level of underhanded cheating that has plagued sports for years. Peeking through the Iron Curtain and looking state-sponsored doping, this shines a huge light on one of the biggest controversies to rock the sporting world in years
4. Okja Director: Joon-ho Bong
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Sheena Kamal, Michael Mitton, Colm Hill
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Released on Netflix: 19 May 2017
IMDb: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
A beautiful movie with some serious messages contained regarding the future of mankind and its relationship with its food sources. Joon-ho Bong has produced some fantastic movies so far and this absolutely stands out as one of his finest.
The story is about super pigs but specifically one girl who lives in an isolated village in the mountains who raises one. After winning the contest, Okja is taken away and the adventure begins to save him from his certain fate.
3. Mudbound Director: Dee Rees
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J Blige, Garret Hedlund
Released on Netflix: 17th November 2017
IMDb: 7.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
This is essential viewing for all and has so far been one of Netflix’s most decorated movie releases so far going as far to earn itself 4 Oscars, 30 wins and another 102 nominations elsewhere. The harrowing picture tells us a story of two families in a post-WW2 in a rural south village.
The film touches on multiple taboo subjects of the time but especially of race relations. Despite being over 2 hours in length, the film manages to hold your attention with fantastic performances from the whole cast but particularly to Mary J Blige who puts in a performance of a lifetime. An absolute gem of the Netflix Originals library and one that may not have come to the light of day had Netflix not published it for the world to see.
2. The Little Prince Director: Mark Osborne
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama
Released on Netflix: August 5, 2016
IMDb: 7.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
A little girl already has her entire life laid out by her Ambitious Mother, tired of her mundane and planned out life, the little girl meets the pilot and introduces her to a world where she can rediscover her childhood and that human connections matter most and only with the heart can you see what it is mort important of all.
Winner of the Cesar Award for Best Animated Film The film was received very well by critics, with its beautiful story and charming animation this is a must-watch for you and the family.
1. ROMA – Oscar Winner Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Nancy Garcia, Marina De Tavira, Daniela Demesa, Diego Cortina Autrey
Released on Netflix: 14th December 2018
IMDb: 8.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
The story of Roma takes place in the city of Mexico City in the 1970s. Centered around the life of a live-in housekeeper who works for a middle-class Mexican family that lives in the neighborhood of Roma. Cuarón has drawn upon his own experiences of his childhood to the big screen in this heartfelt and emotional rollercoaster of a film.
Roma’s Oscar buzz was justified and is now the most successful Netflix film winning 3 academy awards. The awards won were for Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. Oscars aside the film is visually beautiful and filled to the brim with emotion and ultimately deserves the top spot.
Thanks for reading, that was our top 50 Netflix Originals for September 2019! Do you agree with the films on our list? What films would you rank in your top 50? Have we missed your favorite Original film? Let us know in the comments, and while you’re here take a look at our other top lists and see what takes to your liking.
Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Performance, Ranked – Vulture
Posted: 05 Nov 2019 07:00 AM PST
Photo: Vulture and Shutterstock Never underestimate Arnold Strong. When bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger plotted his move to Hollywood to become an actor, he was pressured into changing his last name for his first film, 1970’s Hercules in New York . “[N]obody could pronounce Schwarzenegger … it was a ludicrous name,” he observed in his memoir Total Recall . Plus, his thick Austrian accent forced the filmmakers to dub all his dialogue, and the production company went broke, guaranteeing that just about nobody could see the dopey fantasy comedy in which he played the Roman demigod come down to Earth. None of that discouraged the young man. “[S]tarring as Hercules was way beyond any dream for me,” he wrote. “And they paid me $1,000 a week. Best of all, I got to send photographs home to my parents and write, ‘You see? I told you the whole thing was going to work. I came to America, won Mr. Universe, and now I’m in the movies.'”
It turned out Schwarzenegger was Hollywood’s biggest dreamer. Born in 1947, he saw America as the land of opportunity, and he diligently pursued his superstar aspirations, first landing a bit part in Robert Altman’s 1973 revisionist noir The Long Goodbye and then slowly working his way up to larger parts by the end of the decade. When the ’80s swept in, he found his niche, playing muscular, unreal cinematic titans in the Conan movies and The Terminator before transitioning to comedies with 1988’s Twins , which cheekily mocked his brawny physique. America loves an underdog story, and Schwarzenegger’s was one of the entertainment industry’s most likable: Nobody believed he could be a star, so he kept applying himself until he could no longer be denied.
Then once he reached the top of the mountain, he kept dreaming. As his stardom was starting to stall in the early 21st century, he not only got into politics, he became the governor of California, winning the 2003 recall election — a feat that seemed just as unlikely as his previous cinematic ambitions. Audiences moved on to other action heroes, but in 2011, he came back to Hollywood determined to reassert his dominance. It’s the only time his seemingly unflappable ambition has ever collided with reality: 2015’s Terminator Genisys failed to reignite the franchise, and his other post-governor work has mostly seen him subsisting on fans’ faded admiration for his ’80s and ’90s commercial peak. And that’s not to mention a handful of off-screen scandals that, in many ways, were warning signs for the Way We Live Now.
Now 72, Schwarzenegger will never be the box-office champ he once was, but his career stands as a reminder of a time, not that long ago, when audiences would go to a movie simply because he was in it. In our modern, IP-driven age, we’ve forgotten what it was like when the industry was truly ruled by stars. That was Arnold’s time. (And it might still be: His latest, Terminator: Dark Fate , proves he’s refusing to hasta la vista, baby into that good night.)
So let’s rank his best (and worst) performances. A couple of ground rules first, though. We decided not to include the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron , and we’re bypassing The Long Goodbye , The Villain , and Scavenger Hunt because they’re just so minor. (That’s also the case for cameos, as when he played himself in Dave .) As an actor, Schwarzenegger is far from nuanced, but the towering, monolithic bluntness of his best performances has its own kind of power. Lots of people want to be movie stars, but he figured out a way to make it happen. Part of the reason audiences love him so much is because, deep down, we enjoyed watching him live out that dream.
29. Killing Gunther (2017) The saddest thing about Taran Killam’s dreadful comedy — in which the director’s attempts to write himself as a romantic leading man are … well, let’s go with “ill-conceived” — is that Arnold’s pretty terrible in this movie, yet he’s still probably the best thing in it. He’s the titular Gunther, a brilliant contract killer whom Killam’s rival hit man is trying to track down and murder. But Schwarzenegger doesn’t really show up until the last quarter of the film, and by then, we’re so tired of the rest of the cast that it’s just a relief to see Arnold willing to act goofy. Unfortunately, Killam doesn’t give him any more to do than anyone else, and the movie’s only good joke, that Gunther secretly wants to be a country-music singer, is predictably bungled. We like that Arnold is game to do stuff like this, but yikes, there had to be better opportunities to do comedy than Killing Gunther .
28. Batman & Robin (1999) Before the Expendables movies, Schwarzenegger had never really been part of an ensemble during his superstar period — except for this one time, and what a disaster that turned out to be. On paper, it was a coup for Warner Bros. to land Arnold for the role of Mr. Freeze, bringing added commercial muscle to Joel Schumacher’s follow-up to the megasuccessful Batman Forever . Plus, it would offer Schwarzenegger three rarities: He got to play the villain, he didn’t have to worry about carrying the movie, and he could flex his underrated comedic muscles. But now that we’ve laid out the backstory of Batman & Robin , let’s cut to the chase — Good God, is this movie terrible. It’s not just an embarrassment of a Batman film ; it’s a straight-up cinematic travesty. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but as funny as Schwarzenegger can be in his movies, delivering knowingly bad ice-related puns is, we learned to our horror, not his specialty.
27. Red Sonja (1985) Arnold’s only barely in this spinoff of his Conan franchise — which commemorated that brief moment when Brigitte Nielsen was apparently going to be America’s next action star — and the strangest thing about it is that he’s not playing Conan here. He’s Kalidor, who is basically Conan without having to pay the rights for Conan; he leaves the movie early and, frankly, has the right idea.
26. Collateral Damage (2002) The last of his headlining non-franchise movies before heading to Sacramento, Collateral Damage is a by-the-numbers revenge thriller that gained entirely unearned accidental resonance after 9/11, when its guy-loses-family-to-terrorists-so-goes-on-a-rampage plot rang a little too hollow. (That Arnold played a firefighter didn’t help.) The movie isn’t nearly compelling enough to hold up to any sort of real-world analysis, and it’s so boring it’s no wonder Arnold decided that politics was more interesting than making two or three of these junky films for the rest of his life.
25. Raw Deal (1986) Even among the Arnold’s ’80s movie junk, this is the junkiest, cheesiest ’80s movie Arnold ever made and, not coincidentally, the one we talk the least about today. This is Arnold’s Cobra , but he’s not even wearing a ridiculous Stallone beard. The only fun part is that the guy who hires Schwarzenegger’s character to go kill a bunch of bad guys is Darren McGavin, the dad from A Christmas Story. Mr. Parker!
24. The Sixth Day (2000) This was probably the last time Schwarzenegger would ever be able to demand $25 million for a movie, and it’s a good thing, too: This is warmed-over sci-fi schlock that barely works up enough energy to finish. It’s typical “The Future!” silliness, with Arnold as a pilot who works for a mad billionaire but turns out to have a clone and … look, it’s a ton of trouble to explain. Bottom line, this is Arnold trying to recapture the Total Recall magic (the poster even looks like a scene from the Paul Verhoeven movie) to little avail.
23. Eraser (1996) After the disappointment of Last Action Hero, Arnold tried to get back to basics, first with True Lies and, much less successfully, with Eraser, a supposedly high-tech thriller that looks a little more ridiculous every year. Schwarzenegger plays a U.S. Marshal who helps hide people in the Witness Protection Program, but it all goes a little wrong and he has to use his brawn, as well as “computers,” to save the day. Arnold was trying to regain his Biggest Movie Star in the World standing here. It didn’t work.
22. Around the World in 80 Days (2004) The official last movie role Arnold had before taking the governorship is an extended comic cameo in this remake, which features the truly bizarre buddy pairing of Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan. Schwarzenegger plays Prince Hapi, a creepy, handsy, spoiled prince whom our heroes come across and quickly scamper away from. Arnold is clearly having a fun time playing this guy, but that doesn’t mean you will watching him.
21. The Expendables movies (2010, 2012, 2014) Be honest: Doesn’t Schwarzenegger look like a guy named Trench Mauser? That’s the character he plays in the Expendables franchise, who’s a longtime frenemy of Sylvester Stallone’s stoic, heroic leader of a ragtag band of mercenaries. These movies have one selling point — old guys can kick ass too! — and it’s hard to resist the thrill of watching weathered movie stars blow bad guys away one more time. But these flicks tend to inspire Schwarzenegger’s laziest, smuggest tendencies. Just about every scene he’s in, he’s awfully pleased with himself, content to savor his own stardom and not try very hard. After being governor, he just hasn’t seemed as hungry to reclaim his crown as box-office champ. He thinks we owe it to him. He is mistaken.
20. Junior (1994) Twins had a pretty great hook, this Schwarzenegger-DeVito team-up less so. Arnold plays a scientist who decides to impregnate himself to test a new fertility drug he and his partner (Danny DeVito) have been developing. Junior tries to squeeze humor out of the feminization of one of Hollywood’s most macho stars, but the jokes are, well, labored. Roger Ebert famously raved about Arnold in the film, saying , “[Y]ou’ll see skills that many ‘serious’ actors could only envy. He never reaches for an effect. He never grabs for a joke. He never wrings an emotion out of reluctant material. He plays the role absolutely straight, trusting the material to make the points and get the laughs.” That’s a very generous reading of Junior , which is annoyingly zany and irritatingly cutesy — although it did earn Arnold a Golden Globe nomination. But we will never, ever forgive the film for providing us with the nightmare fuel seen above.
19. End of Days (1999) You can see what they were trying for here. Schwarzenegger plays alcoholic ex-NYPD cop Jericho Cane — what a name! — who has lost his faith in God until he comes across a case that, perhaps inevitably, leads him to do battle with Satan himself. This was marketed as a Y2K end-of-the-world thriller, with the millennium itself even serving as a backdrop to the film, but all the apocalyptic imagery falls mostly flat, even edging a little too much into camp. In surer hands, this could have been a grimy little ’80s thriller with Mickey Rourke; pumped up to Arnold dimensions, it’s merely ridiculous. Though if you’ve ever wanted to see Schwarzenegger briefly possessed by the Devil, here’s your chance.
18. Aftermath (2017) As he grows older, Schwarzenegger has tried to transition into Eastwoodesque Tortured Old Warrior mode, with mixed results. Here, he plays Roman, a man whose wife and daughter are killed in a plane crash that he blames on an air-traffic controller (Scoot McNairy). Arnold spends most of the movie brooding and trying to get his revenge on the poor guy, whose life has been ruined by the guilt. If this sounds awfully moody and sad for an Arnold movie, you’re right. It’s impressive that Schwarzenegger even wanted to make this, but he’s asked to do a lot in this film and can’t quite carry the entire dramatic weight alone. You appreciate his giving it a try, but he should just let Eastwood have these roles.
17. Escape Plan (2013) Wouldn’t it be cool if Sly and Arnold made a movie together? In 1989, totally. But Escape Plan , which hit theaters in 2013 as part of the post- Expendables geriatric gold rush, just feels like a B-movie coasting on badass nostalgia. Schwarzenegger plays Emil, an inmate in a high-tech prison that houses the worst of the worst. Stallone plays Ray, who owns a firm that tests maximum-security prisons to see how easy they are to escape from. Ray goes into Emil’s jail, only to discover that mysterious individuals want him locked up there permanently. Watching Schwarzenegger and Stallone team up has its superficial pleasures, but Escape Plan suffers from the same problem that afflicts a lot of Arnold’s post-governor roles: He no longer has that magnetic, confident presence. He doesn’t elevate the material; the dreck drags him down.
16. Jingle All the Way (1996) All right, so Jingle All the Way is about a bunch of insane people serving as a rather tidy illustration of how American capitalism is running amok and turning us all into materialistic monsters. But hey, you gotta respect Arnold for trying to put his entire career aside for a second and pretending to be a regular dad who just wants to get an elusive toy for his kid. This feels like it was written for Jim Carrey, or even Richard Dreyfuss, so it’s all the more ludicrous that Schwarzenegger took it on, even with Sinbad (Sinbad!) as his comedic sidekick. As his popularity grew, Arnold tried more and more to play “normal” people. We wouldn’t call anything about this movie “normal.” More than 20 years after its release — wow, what a wild cultural artifact.
15. Last Action Hero (1993) We still contend that a great movie could be made out of the ideas in Last Action Hero . A riff on The Purple Rose of Cairo , the film stars Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater, the hero of a popular action franchise. Danny (Austin O’Brien) is a young fan who inexplicably gets sucked into the world of the Slater flicks, setting the stage for a cheeky satire of action-movie tropes while, at the same time, being an action movie. Unfortunately, this potentially clever comedy ended up being the big commercial misfire of Schwarzenegger’s megastardom period. The film isn’t fun; it’s smug — and Arnold lacks the light touch he wields in Twins and elsewhere. The problem with Last Action Hero is that, deep down, all Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies are comedies — he always brings a bit of a wink to even the most high-octane affair. A whole movie that trumpets this fact in a showy way gets tiresome quickly. Recently, Arnold blamed the film’s failure on, of all things, Bill Clinton’s election: “The action-hero era is over, Bill Clinton is in, the highbrow movies are the ‘in’ thing now,” he rationalized . That’s funnier than anything in Last Action Hero .
14. Red Heat (1988) A buddy-cop movie straight out of the prime era for buddy-cop movies, Red Heat finds Arnold playing a Russian policeman who comes to Chicago to investigate a murder with, get this, a totally mismatched partner (Jim Belushi). Lots of different metatextual subplots going on here, from Arnold trying to “stretch” — though his accent is still not even slightly Russian — to Belushi trying to take his brother’s mantle to Walter Hill trying to scrub his ’70s grime into ’80s gold. It doesn’t really work, but it definitely laid the groundwork for Schwarzenegger’s strength as a comic actor: his ability to be totally deadpan. Even if accidental, it was a solid strategy.
13. Sabotage (2014) It wasn’t long ago, before Suicide Squad and Bright , that David Ayer seemed like America’s foremost soulful chronicler of manly men doing manly-men things, which is why it made sense for Schwarzenegger to sign up for this thriller about a corrupt DEA squad (led by Arnold) that steals a ton of money after a drug bust and spends the rest of the film trying to cover it up. Ayer’s skill at capturing how tough guys (and women — the film’s best performance comes from Mireille Enos) talk and act with one another serves Schwarzenegger well; he’s at his best being a cigar-chomping alpha male. But no one in this movie, including Arnold, is even slightly likable, and it leaves a bit of an empty feeling at the end. Yet Ayer and his star work well together; a reteaming might be good for them both.
12. The Conan movies (1982, 1984) If Arnold weren’t Ah-nold , this would be his ceiling: sword-and-sandal schlock in which he and his Fabio hair decapitate monsters and enemies, occasionally alongside Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain. Schwarzenegger doesn’t flash much of the Arnold charm in these movies, and he doesn’t need to. (They are far too plodding and irony free for any of that.) But they still pack a punch: Other than in Stay Hungry, the pure work of cartoon art that is Arnold’s body was never on better display than in these movies. He looks like both a barbarian and a destroyer.
11. Maggie (2015) After Schwarzenegger ended his term as governor of California, he returned to Hollywood and tried to reaffirm his role as a top-flight action star, but perhaps it’s telling that one of the best movies he made in this period doesn’t fit that template at all. The underrated Maggie is set in a postapocalyptic Midwest where ordinary guy Wade (Schwarzenegger) must care for his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin), who has been infected by the zombie virus that wiped out civilization. In the typical Schwarzenegger movie, he’d be out kicking zombie ass, but this quiet family drama flips that script. Here, Wade is powerless to save the day — it’s inevitable that his sickly girl will turn into a member of the undead, and the only question is whether he has the fortitude to kill her himself before the virus overwhelms her. Schwarzenegger doesn’t do a lot of Serious Roles, but Maggie is a happy exception. As a father burdened by regrets and facing an impossible situation, the former superstar seems suitably humbled, shaken, haunted.
10. The Last Stand (2013) This is the best of Arnold’s post-governorship movies. Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon ( I Saw the Devil ) helms this cheeky, muscular, we’re-all-just-putting-on-a-show pseudo-Western about the sheriff of a sleepy town (Schwarzenegger) who teams with a group of misfits to stop a drug lord. The movie has a big, warm sense of humor, and Arnold, in his first major role in a decade, slips it on like a comfy pair of old jeans. It’s the Arnold aesthetic in full bloom: He’s funny and winking and also ass kicking. This movie deserved better than the yawn audiences gave it.
9. Kindergarten Cop (1990) Hot off the success of Twins , Schwarzenegger struck gold by reuniting with that film’s director, Ivan Reitman, for another supremely silly comedy, this time playing a grizzled cop who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher. Yeah, Kindergarten Cop is basically Arnold Is Driven Crazy by a Bunch of Adorable Kids , but that doesn’t diminish the actor’s expert deadpan comic timing or how comfortable he is sharing the screen with his moppet costars. Like many of his high-concept comedies, this film is little more than a funny setup, but Schwarzenegger’s appeal in his early years was his big-kid persona, so pairing him with a roomful of crying, raucous tots was ingenious. The big guy fumes marvelously in Kindergarten Cop , very happy to be the straight man amid all the juvenile antics around him. Plus, he manages to handle a romantic subplot with Penelope Ann Miller pretty effortlessly.
8. True Lies (1994) Whereas Last Action Hero crashed and burned when it tried to pair comedy and action, True Lies succeeded, reteaming Schwarzenegger with Terminator auteur James Cameron to tell the story of a spy and his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis), who knows nothing about what her husband does for a living. True Lies is neither man’s best work, and the film’s misogynistic, xenophobic tendencies were apparent even back then in the mid-’90s, long before the culture took active notice of such attitudes. Still, the film delivers plenty of the required yuks and pyrotechnics for a solid summer flick, and by this point in his stardom, Schwarzenegger was such a confident, comfortable onscreen presence that he could just plug himself into any clever idea and make it work.
7. Commando (1985) This is a full-on, stripped-down, and dirty ’80s action movie, one in which Schwarzenegger takes a machine gun and wipes out everybody who isn’t Rae Dawn Chong. Commando has always felt more like a dare than anything else: What would happen if you pitted Arnold Schwarzenegger and every weapon known to man against an entire army? You’d get shit blowing up in every direction. It’s not subtle, and it’s usually pretty stupid … but you didn’t see anybody complaining then and you probably won’t now.
6. The Running Man (1987) It bears zero resemblance to the Stephen King–Richard Bachman novella it’s based on, and thank the heavens for that: This Running Man is a big, silly piece of postapocalyptic Pop Art that has kept perfect pace with the insanity of the world it predicted. Richard Dawson was a surprisingly deft foil for Arnold: He seems consistently amused by Schwarzenegger — his accent, his physicality, his plodding — and this keeps the movie compulsively watchable today. Arnold is surrounded by goofiness, but he’s the one holding it all together. If this came on cable right now, you would watch every single second of it.
5. Twins (1988) One of Schwarzenegger’s saving graces has always been that he understood how some American audiences saw him: as just a muscle-bound foreigner who talked weird and didn’t seem to be from this planet. He turned that xenophobia into comedy with Twins , in which he plays the sweet outsider Julius, who is finally reunited with his twin brother, the smart-ass lowlife Vincent (Danny DeVito). One of 1988’s biggest hits, the film has a can’t-miss premise — one guy’s short, angry, and street-smart; the other guy’s tall, enthusiastic, and naïve; and together, the two stars have an oil-and-vinegar rapport that’s consistently delightful. Sure, Twins really isn’t much more than its premise, and you have to endure a lot of broad gags about Julius’s confused foreigner. But after a string of action-movie hits, Schwarzenegger was clearly secure in his ability to win over audiences, and he hardly breaks a sweat in this likable, totally disposable vehicle.
4. Stay Hungry (1976) Yes, it really happened: In the mid-1970s, there was a movie starring Jeff Bridges, Sally Field, and Arnold Schwarzenegger directed by the man responsible for Five Easy Pieces . Stay Hungry isn’t well remembered, but it’s typical of filmmaker Bob Rafelson’s interest in restless outsiders and unusual pockets of society — and it’s responsible for helping to launch Schwarzenegger’s film career. The movie stars Bridges as Craig, a well-to-do but discontent young Alabaman who needs to purchase a local gym in order to facilitate a major land deal. But the more time Craig hangs out with the gym’s patrons, including Schwarzenegger’s sweet bodybuilder, Joe, the more he thinks he has finally found a community to call his own.
No doubt Rafelson cast Schwarzenegger because of his physique, but the director elicits a remarkably vulnerable, touching performance out of a guy who had previously just done cameos in feature films. Schwarzenegger has never been so unguarded since; kindly Joe befriends surly Craig, becoming the movie’s gentle giant and emotional core. “I really think he can play a whole range of parts,” Rafelson said at the time , and Schwarzenegger won a Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut. Arnold would become a global superstar, but we sorta miss the bighearted, self-effacing Schwarzenegger who’s so winning in Stay Hungry .
3. Predator (1987) Pity the poor alien who just wants to head to Earth to take out some dumb humans for sport and has the misfortune of stumbling across a group of commandos led by the head commando himself. The Predator character has become a franchise, but it’s key to note that what made him work was that he was a formidable foil for Schwarzenegger. (It was even sort of thrilling to see Arnold get tossed around.) This movie has the muscularity of John McTiernan’s best work and was the beginning of quite a roll for the director: After this came Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October. This is grimier and scarier than any of them and holds up magnificently. If it bleeds, you can kill it.
2. Total Recall (1990) In the DVD era, it was fashionable for the director and the star of a movie to do a commentary track that walked you through the film they made. Schwarzenegger’s performance in Total Recall is first-class — he plays a seemingly ordinary guy who discovers his memories aren’t real — but the film’s legacy has shifted over the years with fans coming to love Arnold’s bonkers commentary conversation with director Paul Verhoeven. In fact, there are even YouTube tributes to its most insane moments:
But that shouldn’t detract from how Total Recall itself allowed Schwarzenegger to go nutso in a way he hadn’t in his previous action flicks. Based on the Philip K. Dick short story, this movie starts off ludicrous and gleefully becomes more unhinged as it rolls along. By the time his character’s eyes are literally bulging out of his head at the movie’s wacked-out finale, it feels only appropriate for one of his most deliciously emphatic turns.
1. The Terminator movies (1984–2019) Right, yes, we’re really referring to only the first two films, although we do think that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is perfectly okay and that Terminator Genisys is kind of fascinating in how it sets fire to the original films’ legacy. But let’s be honest: When you’re talking Terminator, you’re focused on The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day .
This isn’t just one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises; it’s one of the most intriguing, as creator James Cameron picked Arnold to play his menacing robot assassin in the first film, then threw a curveball by having him portray humanity’s protector in the sequel. As a result, Schwarzenegger got to play both his best villain and hero roles in the same series. In the 1984 original, his stoic stillness suggested such lethal force that we never needed to know what was behind those sunglasses. (No film better captured Arnold’s eternal otherness.) In the 1991 follow-up, Schwarzenegger found the flickers of a soul within this unfeeling android and brought unexpected poignancy to the high-sheen action sequences.
There will be those who will forever dismiss Schwarzenegger as a monosyllabic meathead, but his sinister turn in The Terminator and the poignancy of Terminator 2 are entirely thanks to him. He’s not the last action hero, but with these two amazing films, you’d be forgiven for wondering if he was the best.
Grierson & Leitch write about the movies regularly and host a podcast on film . Follow them on Twitter or visit their site .
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