Monthly Archives: March 2017

Predictions: Wrestlemania 33

It’s time for another set of predictions, this time for ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ – Wrestlemania 33. This go around we’re shaking things up a little by having myself (Rob) go head to head (to head) with Ross and Dan in a predictions-off. Loser buys the beers!

Personally, I’m not that excited for this years event. I’m still suffering from ‘The Ultimate Disappointment’ of Wrestlemania 32. I’ve barely watched wrestling since that show. Hopefully, this can be the show that turns it all around again!

Still, I can’t help but think about what could have been. John Cena versus The Undertaker or AJ Styles. Kevin Owens verses Chris Jericho for the Universal Title. Bayley finally breaking Charlotte’s PPV winning streak to capture her first title. Fantasy booking this event looks so much better than what we are getting, and there’s no excuse for injuries this year either!

Oh well, without further moaning. Let’s get to it!

Pre-Show

6 Pack Challenge – Smackdown’s Women’s Title
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Naomi

20170327_wm33_alexabeckynatamickiecarmellanaomi-c2b2bfcda4cd7b1d476e29f5dad7131cRob’s Thoughts:

I’m a little disappointed that this has been limited to only the 6 women. I was hoping for a few surprise returns from ‘Divas’ past and maybe the shocking return of Eva Marie. The ultimate heel. I don’t quite understand why Naomi made her return on Smackdown, surely she would have made a great surprise return on the day? Especially as she’s my pick to win. Seems to me that they pulled the trigger to early on that.

Winner: Namoi

Dan’s Thoughts:

Kind of wished they did the original plan and make it a surprise and like a gauntlet match with some past Woman’s wrestlers but whatever.

Winner: Naomi

Ross’ Thoughts:

I want Alexa Bliss to win, probably the best mic talker the women’s division has ever seen. She’s been phenomenal this past year and frankly deserves it. It’s Naomi’s hometown and WWE will think this matters. That’s why I think she’ll win but I’d love Mickie or Bliss to get it. I love crazy Mickie.

Winner: Naomi

Hometown girl Naomi is everyone’s pick for this match. Continue reading

Review: The Age of Shadows

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

Set in the late 1920’s, The Age of Shadows follows the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between a group of resistance fighters and Japanese agents trying to stop them. A talented Korean-born Japanese police officer, who was previously in the independence movement himself, is thrown into a dilemma between the demands of his reality and the instinct to support a greater cause.

ageofAs far as I’m aware this is the first Korean film I’ve ever seen and based on this it won’t be my last. Keeping with the firsts, it is also Warner Bros first time financing and distributing a Korean-language film as well. I doubt it will be there last either.

The Age of Shadows is an excellent double agent spy thriller with good set pieces, plenty of tension and at times is a quite brutal. I’ll say it now, there is a little bit of torture which won’t be for some people but it’s not lingered on to long but in honesty does paint a really ruthless picture of the Japanese regime. Which only adds to everything.

Despite the subtitles western audiences should enjoy this movie, it’s extremely polished and looks great. I also found it a fascinating insight to a culture and history that I know very little about.

You could argue that the run time of 140 minutes is a little long. Yet I wouldn’t say it necessarily out stays its welcome. I think I was just thrown off by the marketing. From the trailer I got the impression that the majority of the film, or at least the climax, would take place on the train looking for ‘the rat’. Now while the train act of this movie is by far the highlight it’s actually only one piece of the puzzle.

I recommend seeing The Age of Shadows, but you might have to wait until it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray as its run in cinemas near me, and presumably the rest of the country, is very short.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Review: Hidden Figures

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

Hidden Figures is based on the true story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – three brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest achievements in mankind’s history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

Took me a while to get around to seeing Hidden Figures, but man am I glad I did. It’s really good! A very entertaining and feel good movie in which the trio of leading ladies all come across as so likeable. The supporting cast of Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons are good too, even if the latter doesn’t get much of a character to play around with.

In the film we follow the three friends through their own individual plights. Mary Jackson wants to become Nasa’s first female black engineer  but has to lobby a local judge to allow her access to a local segregated school so she can take the classes. Dorothy Vaughan, supervises a team but is consistently denied the official title and pay packet to match. Most of the focus of the movie is on Katherine G. Johnson, a brilliant ‘computer’ promoted to a role in the Space Task Group that was responsible for sending John Glenn into orbit. There she has to fight for everything, including access to the most up to date data for her work to be correct.

Hidden Figures isn’t just about the racism at the time, it’s also about the struggles they face for being women. Such as being told they can’t attend meetings because of their sex. It really does blow my mind that this used to be common place and that some people still think this way. I liked the way the movie dealt with the theme of racism, it’s quite subtle; facial expressions and body language etc. rather than bashing you over the head with it and over use of slurs. I know it happened but in this movie, with it’s up beat attitude and feel good vibes it would have been very out of place.

I highly recommend this film to everyone, it’s fun and you might just learn something.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Review: Kong: Skull Island

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

 A team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they know they venture into the domain of the mighty Kong. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

Kong: Skull Island is the second film in the ‘MonsterVerse’ following up from 2014’s reboot of Godzilla. This time, it’s the King Kong franchise getting a reboot. Is this Kong verses Godzilla?! No, but that is coming in 2020 though but first we’ve got to follow the Marvel plan of multiple set up films before the big team up fight movie.

new-kong-skull-island-trailer-2-introduces-skull-crawlers-video

How does Kong know that after being attacked by humans, from the group he’s never met before, that some still have good intentions and doesn’t slaughter them too?

Tom Hiddleston is solid, yet mostly unremarkable in the lead role and Samuel L. Jackson is dependable as ever. I wasn’t really a fan of John C. Reilly’s character in this film though. He’s there for comic relief but wasn’t all that funny and was more irritating than anything else. Having watched Patriots Day recently and seen how they can have genuine humorous moments in a film about terrorism, kind of makes you think when an action movie falls flat on that front. Meanwhile John Goodman is the Bryan Cranston of this movie, i.e. not in it anywhere near enough.

I would say that I enjoyed the human cast in Kong far more than in Godzilla but once again the characters in general are pretty much 2D sketches. Back story? Story arcs? Forget about it, we’ve only got time for a few hints. Having said that though, if the option was another 3 hour King Kong film to get back story then I’m fine without it. However, when you introduce an entire new civilisation only to give them 10 minutes of screen time. That grinds my gears.

Tying Kong: Skull Island directly into the ‘MonsterVerse’ is the government organisation, Monarch. Monarch who literally exist to research monsters are completely rubbish. John Goodman’s plan is to prove Kong exists. So all you need to do is get on the island, take a few pictures, some samples and leave. Don’t drop bombs you flipping idiots. Granted they’d still have to deal with everything else that wants to kill them but that’s fine. Why risk pissing off Kong?

Don’t think you’re just paying to see a giant ‘monkey’ either. We’ve got weird supersized monsters galore. Most are only presented as a brief threat before everyone moves on but it does show the depth in diversity on the island. During the main fight scene between the Skull Crawler and Kong all I could think about was ‘man, I wash that was Godzilla’. Still the Skull Crawlers are interesting creatures in their own right.

Kong though is a good, mindless romp and other than being perhaps slightly picky, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. The effects are great and Kong looks amazing. I approve of the 70’s Vietnam era for the story as well. It’s like Apocalypse now meets big old monsters, I love it. The entire aesthetic and tone are really cool. Plus, the soundtrack is awesome.

No it’s not a perfect film, but I’m not sure that’s actually possible when it comes to big monster movies. At the end of the day, it’s okay. Worth a watch if you’re up for something not too taxing and you want to see big animals fight.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Review: Patriots Day

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

On April 15, 2013,  two bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon. In the aftermath of the attack, police Sgt. Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers and Commissioner Ed Davis joined the courageous survivors, first responders and other investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the suspects and bring them to justice before they can attack again.

Patriots Day is a well acted and intense film that focuses prominently on the manhunt post the Boston Marathon bombings. Honestly it’s quite good, I’m really surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. At times you are on the edge of your seat while at others laughing out loud as the human spirit shines through. I thought it would just turn out to be one big piece of American propaganda, but it’s actually a solid and respectful drama based on a horrible event. It doesn’t glamorise the act of terrorism and isn’t scared of showing you some of the horror that was created.

I have to make a special mention to the music and general ambience that constantly builds tension throughout key scenes. It can be really quite unnerving.

Onto the downside of Patriots Day. I was all ready to sing this films praises from start to finish but then while I was prepping to write this review  I discovered that Mark Wahlberg’s character is actually fictional and it just knocked some of the shine off the whole thing for me.

Now I understand that from the Hollywood perspective it is better to have a protagonist who is heavily involved in the plot. However Wahlberg’s Tommy Saunders goes beyond being a pair of eyes for the audience to watch through. Every major story beat revolves around him. He’s the one who rallies the troops in the immediate fallout after the attack, he’s the one who goes to the 991 calls, he’s the one at the fire fights, he’s effectively the one who wins the day. If this was any other crime drama film I wouldn’t complain about this, it tells a better story. Yet, isn’t it a little disrespectful to heap so much praise on a fictional character when real people, mere years ago, did so much to actually find the bombers? Patriots Day really wants to play of the Boston Strong movement, but in hindsight it feels more like ‘if that one character is strong, we’ll all be okay I guess’ movement. The logic is that Tommy Saunders is a mixture of multiple different police officers who were on duty. It’s just the mixture of real life and fiction that doesn’t quite mesh. It seems off, but in reality probably doesn’t do to much damage.

Ultimately however, I still really enjoyed the film. So, while it’s not fully based on true events it is still very good. Was it made slightly too soon, considering it has only been 4 years since the attack? Probably. Would I have preferred a more accurate representation of the facts even if it meant not having Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. Probably.

Do I recommend this film? Absolutely.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Predictions: WWE Fastlane

I’m not really sure what to expect from Fastlane if I’m honest. I assume the wrestling itself will be good, but I also think the show will almost exclusively be used to set up Wrestlemania and be robbed of any of its own importance.

Other than a couple of matches, I think it’s pretty easy to call as well (watch me get it all wrong now). I’m still taking a back seat on wrestling right now, you may have noticed I didn’t bother reviewing Elimination Chamber, and in honesty not that much is grabbing my attention in this show. I find myself being rather negative, but that’s not intentional. Wrestling has just worn me down over the years…

The main event obviously will be very interesting, but I think it will be over booked nonsense. Assuming they don’t just have it as a squash match. God I hope they don’t do that.

Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa vs.Brian Kendrick & Noam Dar

Pre-Show tag team matches tend to end with a face team victory, but really who cares either way? I’m sorry to be so negative about the Cruiserweights, but they’re doing nothing for me.

Winners: Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa

Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe

20170215_fastlane_zaynsamoa-43f976a166046162517a9d25c740c9bbSamoa Joe is on a tear since moving up to the main roster and there is simply no way I can see him losing his first PPV match.

Sami Zayn can take a loss better than anybody too, so no harm done. It’s weird to think that Zayn’s gimmick these days is ‘guy with big heart who loses matches’.

Winner: Samoa Joe

The Club (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass

At the Royal Rumble Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, The Club, finally won the tag team title. About God damn time am I right?! Even with the titles I still think the pair are being booked terribly though. Why on earth where they getting involved in Roman Reigns’ air space. They’re lucky he isn’t the tag team champions now.

20170220_fastlane_tagteam-6d931ba09870ef4b0872e67980c0ff06Enzo and Cass, who I’ve really gone off in the last 6 months mostly due to the fact that they are terrible people, are perpetual losers. They talk a big game and then lose. I think that will continue here.

Hopefully they will as well. The last thing WWE needs right now is face champions who are actually more despicable than the heels. But then, WWE has never been able to book good guys very well have they. Just look at Hulk Hogan, what an absolute prick of a character.

Winners: The Club Continue reading