April 2019 TV & Movie Highlights: From ‘Game Of Thrones’ To ‘Killing Eve’, Avengers to Anime

Being a longtime TV and movie fan, I don’t recall if ever there was a single month in a single year that touts TV returns and new film releases that have my interests at heart as much as this coming April.

From the final season of the fantasy epic series Game of Thrones, to the brilliant TV spy thriller Killing Eve, to cool anime productions from Japan, here are five highlights to look out for come April 2019:

1. Killing Eve Season 2

Will Jodie Comer’s Villanelle be hell-bent on killing Eve in Killing Eve Season 2? [Credit: BBC America]

Voted and awarded as one of 2018’s best TV shows by many big-name media outlets, Killing Eve is one of the most ingenious series to be seen on TV for quite some time. Focusing on an intriguing cat-and-mouse chase between jaded M16 agent Eve Polastri and psychopathic assassin Villanelle, performances are outstanding with Sandra Oh rightfully sweeping most of the best TV drama actress awards, although co-star Jodie Comer deserved the accolades just as much. Season 2 promises to be just as sharp and intense (and funny) as it was for Season 1, even though show-runner Phoebe Waller-Bridge did not do any writing (but a good writer friend of hers did). Can’t wait!
Killing Eve Season 2 premieres on Sunday, April 7, BBC America.

Read also:
* ‘Killing Eve’ Season 2: What to Expect When the Acclaimed Psycho Thriller Returns
* Five Behind-The-Scene Things You Should Know About ‘Killing Eve’

2. Game Of Thrones Season 8

Will it be a bittersweet victory for Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones‘ final season? [Credit: HBO]

Winter seriously took a long time in coming if you are a Game of Thrones fan. With an almost 18-month gap between Season 7 and its upcoming final season, it’s arguably the second longest hiatus period in TV history (The Sopranos holds the record if I’m not mistaken; and not counting series reboots.) But David Benioff and Dan Weiss promised that the wait will be worth it, with each of the six episodes almost feature-length and with big battles galore. What most fans care about though is who dies, who lives, and most importantly, who gets to sit on the Iron Throne. George RR Martin says it will be a “bittersweet victory”, but victory for whom? The Night King? Queen Cersei? Brrrr, the thought of it.
Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premieres on Sunday, April 14, HBO.

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
*  ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About the Crypts of Winterfell
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King

3. Okko’s Inn

If you are a Studio Ghibli fan like me, you’ll be glad to know that animators who have left the famed Hayao Miyazaki studio are doing their part to produce adorable Studio-Ghibli-like films for film lovers to enjoy. This year, Kitaro Kosaka, a key animator on many of Studio Ghibli’s box office hits, brings us Okko’s Inn, a story of a young girl who, while training to be the junior innkeeper of her grandma’s traditional Japanese inn, discovers that she can see the spirits that live in the building. The supernatural beings have to be put on the back-burner however as a string of guests arrive who will test Okko’s mantle to be a gracious host. Will she prevail? We bet our Totoro stuffed toys that she will!
Okko’s Inn opens in selected U.S. theaters on Monday, April 22, 2019.

Read also:
* 6 Great Fantasy Films That Studio Ponoc’s ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Will Lovingly Remind You Of
* Why J.J. Abrams’ ‘Your Name’ Adaptation Might Not Be Such a Great Idea
* 5 Things We Want to See in Studio Ghibli’s Theme Park in 2022
* Studio Ghibli Sees First East-west Collaboration in the Wordless Wonder ‘The Red Turtle’

4. Avengers: Endgame

Half of the universe, including many of our heroes, vaporized into thin air by super villain Thanos at the end of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Can the remaining Avengers—Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, et al —do damage control? Or can they do the impossible and turn back time to before the Mad Titan snapped his fingers? Either way, Endgame marks the end of the Infinity Stones story arc in the MCU. And I’m guessing that most of our heroes who we think have bite the dust will make it back alive considering—SPOILER—young Peter Parker, to name but one, will be back for more adventures in Spider-Man: Far from Home (23rd MCU film due out July 2019), which reportedly takes place after events in Endgame…
Avengers: Endgame is in U.S. theaters from Thursday, April 26, 2019.

Read also:
* Hammer Time! Who Keeps Marvel Actors Safe Behind the Scenes of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?

5. Attack On Titan Season 3 Part II

Based on the best-selling Japanese manga, Attack on Titan is one of the most exciting anime series in recent times thanks to its captivating animation style, intriguing plot-lines and gripping action. Story tells of a remnant of humanity who lives behind walled cities to protect themselves against giant humanoid creatures that eat humans. By Season 3, the Survey Corps, led by their charismatic captain, Levi Ackerman, has discovered that the humanoids are actually created by the ruling royal family to keep citizens in check. Part 1 sees the Corps including Eren Yeager—the only Titan helping to protect humanity—tackling these human enemies; while Part II will see them take on former comrades Reiner Braun (Armored Titan) and Bertholdt Hoover (Colossal Titan), and their “chief”, the Beast Titan, who may have a shocking secret to reveal…
Attack on Titan Season 3 returns Sunday, April 29, 2019, various anime channels.

Read also:
* ‘Attack on Titan’ Season 3: Humans Are the New Threat

Must-See TV: ‘Killing Eve’ Is A Killer Of A Thriller

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Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer star in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: BBC America]

It’s been a while since I was blown away by a new television series such as Jude Law’s papal-based The Young Pope (2016) and Tom Hardy’s gritty Victorian drama Taboo (2017). Well, Killing Eve is “it” for 2018. A killer thriller like no other, the BBC America series is suspenseful and unpredictable, filled with dry humor, fascinating locations (both dodgy and exotic), and standout performances from its two leads.

(Minor spoilers of Killing Eve Season 1 ahead. You’ve been warned.)

Story tells of a jaded London-based security intelligence officer Eve Polastri (Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh) who becomes obsessed in tracking down a highly-skilled Russian assassin codenamed Villanelle (The White Princess’ Jodie Comer) who is efficiently executing prominent people in ghastly fashion across Europe.

Based on the Villanelle novellas by novelist and dance critic of The Observer, Luke Jennings, and adapted by the multi-talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame, Killing Eve is an unconventional cat-and-mouse chase that grabs your attention by the first episode with dry humor you least expect from a spy drama tinged with grim killings. The show, which premiered in April, has since garnered two Emmy nominations for outstanding writing in a drama series (for Waller-Bridge) and best lead actress in a drama series (for Oh, who created Emmy history by being the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated in this category).

Sandra Oh’s Triumphant Return To TV

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Sandra Oh is Emmy-nominated for her role as Eve Polastri in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: BBC America]

It’s a joy to see Sandra Oh back on the small screen. The first time we see her character Eve Polastri, she is screaming hysterically in bed, scaring her husband Nico (Owen McDonnell) – and us the viewers – as she was in pain having “fell asleep on both my arms”. Right there and then, you know you are watching a spy series like no other.

Eve is someone whom most people could identify with. Practical yet disorganized at times, she turns up at a meeting late, gets glared at by the big boss, yet proceeds to nibble her breakfast buy in spite of being further frowned upon by everyone in the room. Ambitious but not recognized for her keen criminologist’s mind, Eve finally gets her chance to shine when enigmatic M16 operative Carolyn Martens (an exceptional Fiona Shaw, a.k.a Aunt Petunia to Harry Potter fans) assigns her in an off-the-record capacity to hunt down Villanelle. Unfortunately, Eve’s new responsibility turns into an obsession that put the lives of her loved ones and colleagues – including her own – at risk.

Oh is well-cast as Eve, an intelligent yet occasionally blur blob who easily shifts between moods of over-confidence and insecurity, aggressiveness and vulnerability, within seconds. The versatile Korean-Canadian also brings a huge amount of underdog vitality to Eve that makes you want to root for her all the way. The Emmy nomination is but a small indication of just how brilliant Sandra is in the role.

Jodie Comer’s Star Turn As A Sassy Cold Blooded Assassin

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Jodie Comer is a breeze of fresh air as sociopathic assassin Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: BBC America]

Make no mistake, the chillingly effective assassin that Eve is after is a nasty piece of work. Villanelle kills in frightful albeit creative ways without batting an eyelid, has no qualms of mistreating children or the elderly alike, and every lifeform she comes in contact with means nothing and is expendable to her.

Yet, you can’t help but develop some unexplained sympathy for the young attractive woman (mesmerizingly played by Jodie Comer), wondering if there is something really, really bad in the past that triggered Villanelle to be the soulless person that she is. Is she hankering for a father figure judging by the relationship with her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia)? Though totally independent, she also crave for brief companionship with strangers (male and female alike) but who wouldn’t lose any sleep if any one of these would meet with an unexpected demise. It’s due to uncharacteristic sloppiness on Villanelle’s part during her last kill – a witness was left alive – that led Eve on her trail. A chance meeting between the two protagonists set up the show’s intriguing cat-and-mouse chase as both women gets equally obsessed in tracking each other down.

Comer, last seen as Elizabeth of York in The White Princess, has a gem of a role to play as the cunning killer-for-hire. Her Villanelle is cold, crafty, charming and flirty, with a dash of vulnerable childishness that makes you wish someone like Eve will eventually save her from the immoral abyss that she’s in. Truth be told, the Liverpool native truly deserved an Emmy nomination too. Here’s to Jodie earning a few nominations of her own come awards season.

Cool, Slick Location Graphic Signposting

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Location Graphic in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: Screen-grab from BBC America]

Next to sublime performances and unintentionally funny dialogue, there’s a lot of other bits to like about Killing Eve such as the series’ big bold capitalized location graphic signposting that tells the viewer where the action is taking place such as London, Paris, Berlin, Tuscany and Moscow (which is actually Bucharest standing in for the Russian capital). A rib-ticklin’ moment is when a tiny English village Bletcham gets equal prominence with the metropolitan cities of Europe when a key event takes place in its vicinity. Even the opening titles are cool, with a thin trickle of blood flowing down on a different letter of “Killing Eve” in each of its eight episodes. #cooltouch

Read also:
* Five Behind-The-Scene Things You Should Know About ‘Killing Eve’
‘Killing Eve’ Season 2: What to Expect When the Acclaimed Psycho Thriller Returns

Killing Eve is available for binge-watching on BBC America on demand and will begin telecast on BBC One on September 15, 2018. Season 2 is currently in production and will roll out in 2019.