Category Archives: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Review – New Found Glory: Makes Me Sick

newfoundglory_makesmesickart_fullMakes Me Sick is the ninth studio album and follow-up to 2014’s Resurrection by the American pop punk band New Found Glory. It was released through Hopeless Records in April of this year.

Despite being a fan of New Found Glory (NFG) this one completely slipped past me, hence the review being in late June rather than April. Man, am I glad I realised though as this album might just turn out to be the soundtrack to my summer. I think it’s awesome!

This new record from NFG is easily my favourite of theirs this decade. That’s not to say Radiosurgery (2011) or Resurrection (2014) where bad, far from it. I enjoyed those too, but this one is a step above. Quite often you can say during reviews for bands who have been around for so long ‘you know what you’re going to get’ and while this is very much a NFG album in that sense I still am surprised by just how incredibly upbeat, catchy and most importantly fun this is. Overall it feels softer and more buoyant, through the synths, lyrical choices and melodies.

After 20 years, NFG know what they are and don’t strive to push the boat out too far. Their goal is to continue to make irresistibly catch tunes and they certainly hit the nail on the head more than a few times here. Makes Me Sick is full of great songs that will be in your head for weeks but if I had to pick my favourites right this second I’d say that ‘Party On Apocalypse’ (above) and ‘Call Me Anti-Social’ would certainly be up there. The only real curve ball here is ‘The Sound Of Two Voices’ which sticks out a little from the rest of the crowd. I still like it though.

Absolutely a must buy for any New Found Glory or pop punk rock genre fans in general. The clean and crisp production coupled with catchy pop hooks and sing-along choruses make this a very  pleasant listen. An early contender for favourite album of the year in fact!

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Review: Baywatch

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

 

 

Matt Brody is a former Olympic swimmer who wants to join an elite team of lifeguards led by the hulking Mitch Buchannon. Brody thinks he’s a shoo-in, but his casual attitude starts to instantly rub Mitch the wrong way. When drugs and a shady resort owner pose a threat to the bay, Mitch and Matt must put their differences aside to spring into action and save the day.

I’ve got to admit, I was honestly expecting Baywatch to be terrible. I thought it would be dumb jokes and boobs but it’s actually really funny. With dumb jokes and boobs… What I’m saying is it’s exactly what you think it is, but actually done really well.

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Baywatch isn’t just about boobs and Zac Efron’s abs, it’s also a funny film too. I’m not talking high brow humour or anything, but its a laugh!

At no point in time does it allow itself to be taken seriously. The whole premise and plot is ridiculous and Zac Efron has a great line when being told about previous cases on the beach sounding like a ‘entertaining yet far-fetched TV show’. This is a film that fully understands its roots and doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It’s a film about crime fighting lifeguards, obviously its preposterous! The cast seems to be having a genuinely fun time as well, which makes you have more fun with it.

I’d say about 90% of the jokes landed in Baywatch, now granted they often aren’t ‘high brow humour’, I’m talking dick jokes…other dick jokes. It works though and if you know what you’re getting into and just want to relax this is a good dumb movie to do that with. It’s just fun.

Dwanye Johnson, or The Rock as he’ll forever be known to me, is as charismatic as ever while Efron actually nails the self loathing part of his retired olympic medalist character too. Their back and forth is amusing throughout as well. Job Bass is entertaining as the awkward nerd of the group while Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach are mostly in place to play up Baywatch’s classic ‘sexy babes’ angle. Both are more than happy to play the roles and mock them extensively, especially in the end credits. Meanwhile Priyanka Chopra as the villain is a bit of a one note character though and Ilfenesh Hadera gets far less love than any of the other lifeguards during the film.

I know this film has been slated by critics, but if you’re interested in a couple of hours of easy viewing that’ll make you chuckle throughout. Give this a go. I honestly can’t believe I’m actually saying this. I’d just assumed it would be rubbish, instead its fun rubbish.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Review: Wonder Woman

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

Before becoming Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot who tells her of the war to end all wars that is raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time and finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

Oh wow, it actually happened! A good, no, a great DC movie! I, along with the rest of the world, had given up hope yet after the disappointments of Man of Steel (although admittedly I thought that was okay, though flawed), Batman Vs Superman and Suicide Squad comes Wonder Woman and it’s really quite good!

I loved pretty much everything about this film and sat there with a great big dumb grin on my face for the entire time. If DC can correct their course for the rest of their cinematic universe things might just be okay again.

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Wonder Woman is showing DC the way to make decent superhero films, but can they do it again?

Wonder Woman is everything it should have been and more. It shows that you don’t need to go all in on gritty and real and depressing to make a great superhero film. How has it taken DC this long to make something that’s worth watching? It’s fun, endearing and the action scenes are great too. Stylistically its excellent, the humour is spot on and it actually shows genuine heart as well. Wonder Woman is 100%, completely and totally bad ass.

The relationship between Diana and Captain Steve Trevor is the linchpin of the entire movie. The chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine is excellent. In fact to be honest, both are just excellent throughout. Pine is charming and confident while Gadot is equally as confident, strong, independent, noble and caring and sexy as well. Yet at the same time slightly naive too. It’s a perfect combination.

Here’s a thought, Wonder Woman wasn’t directed by Zack Synder and it’s a good film. Coincidence? Well, no not really. As he didn’t direct Suicide Squad and that was all sorts of horrible. What it does seem to show is that everyone was on board with the vision of this film and worked towards it, unlike the absolute messes that have occurred previously.

Instead Wonder Woman is the first ever superhero film to be directed by a woman, which is all sorts of crazy. Patty Jenkins, who was briefly signed on to direct the sequel to Thor, did a fantastic job here. Again I loved the stylistic choices, I thought everything looked great and the tone was spot on. I wonder if Marvel are kicking themselves for letting her go now?

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, put aside your disappointments of previous DC movies and go out and see it. You won’t regret it.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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

Things get worse for a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow when his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar, escapes from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon…

Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment because I keep going to see these massive pieces of trash. Some how they just keep getting worse…and to be honest that’s saying something because they’ve been utter rubbish for 4 films now. Which is a massive, massive shame because when it first came out the original Pirates of the Caribbean was probably my favourite movie as a kid.

I still can’t get my head around the fact that producers, script writers and directors have completely missed the point on what made the first film so brilliant. They’ve taken the ‘curse of the black pearl’ and decided that the reason fans liked a pirate film was the magic element. It couldn’t possibly be the fact that a fun, swash-buckling romp is just…well fun? Instead, every film since they’ve doubled down on the whole magic nonsense and quite frankly its just a little bit pants.

Not only that, the franchise quickly went from exciting action set pieces to completely over-the-top, bizarre and down right implausible moments. Now I know that you’re meant to have some level of suspension of disbelief (and in a film about magic you probably should) but it’s just dumb. Continue reading

Review: The Mummy

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

Because everything in Hollywood has to be a reboot and have its own cinematic universe, here is the 2017 version of The Mummy. A franchise reboot that nobody was wanting or asking for. It’s the first in the Universal ‘Dark Universe’ which will also feature films like Dracula, Frankenstein, Van Helsing and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russel Crowe and Sofia Boutella as the titular character of The Mummy or Princess Ahmanet if you want to be slightly friendlier. I’ve listed four people there, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything more than the regular Tom Cruise show. Which normally I wouldn’t have a problem with, as I like Tom Cruise, but it’s just one of many things that stop this being a ‘Mummy’ film as it focuses its attentions elsewhere.

First of all, like many before it, The Mummy is the first film in a franchise that spends far too long trying to set up multiple movies down the line instead of making sure that the first movie is actually good. Why would people want to return to the universe if the first one is rubbish? For example, you know what made Iron Man one so successful? Despite being the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it actually just focused on being a good Iron Man movie, with Easter eggs hidden here and there and then a post credits scene with Nick Fury. Simple.

Perhaps more importantly though is the overall tone and general pacing of the movie that’s wrong here. Now I think we can all admit that the previous iteration of The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser was by no means perfect, in fact it was a bit rubbish, but what you can say is that the general tone of the films was entertaining. Simple and fun action fantasy adventure flicks. This time around everything has to be real, modernised and gritty. Dark tones and jump scares galore. That might float some people’s boats but it’s not really what I wanted to be honest.

Then you get to the pacing. In places they fly through scenes, such as when they find the burial chamber at the start but then the film lingers in the middle and really slows down to a crawl. There is a scene in which Tom Cruise fights something, it’s almost completely irrelevant to the main plot and serves nothing more than as a distraction. I guess the writers thought they needed an action scene to spice things up a little.

One of the main problems that this film has though is that Tom Cruise’s character is just a bit of a dick. It’s the classic cocky scoundrel who eventually ends up doing the right thing and saving the day routine. For whatever reason I just couldn’t connect with it. Then you get to his best friend, who is as dumb as Cruise was unlikable, and their comedy bickering and general relationship are at complete odds with the rest of the films darker vibes.

It’s not all bad though, for example; the set pieces, in particular the plane crash that you get a glimpse of in the trailer is fantastic and as usual with Tom Cruise films you do appreciate the fact that he does his own stunts.

The most interesting thing about this film is, somewhat ironically for all of my complaining, Russel Crowe’s character(s), Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde. He’s in this movie simply to be the connecting arm throughout the new cinematic universe and while sort of necessary for the plot, very much shoehorned in at the same time. However, I actually left the cinema thinking how much more interesting a movie revolving around those characters at the helm of a monster hunting organisation would be. I guess we’ll get glimpses of that throughout all of the films.

This version of The Mummy’s main crime though isn’t that it’s trying too hard to set up an entire new cinematic universe or that its darker tone is rather hit and miss. Instead it’s actually that the film is just pretty boring.

Verdict: Thumbs Down

Review: King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword

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

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an epic fantasy film directed by Guy Ritchie starring Charlie Hunnam as Arthur with Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law and Eric Bana in supporting roles.

Where do I even begin? This film was absolutely terrible. Completely rubbish. Awful.

I disliked pretty much everything about this film and I mean everything. The tone, the pacing and calling the characters ‘thinly written’ would be too generous to what they actually are. Style over substance leaves the film completely all over the place and at no point does it feel like there is an actual point to anything, things just happen, people say things. I went into this movie thinking, there is no way this film can be as bad as the critics are saying it is. Its worse.

Why can’t Hollywood just make a regular King Arthur film? Why does it always have to have a new twist and new lore created. In 2004 we had an awful attempt at making him a Roman and ‘real’, now he’s a geezer from London with the lads. As a casual viewer the story I want to see would be described as a more classical King Arthur tale, not a rewritten and re-imagined version. I want the Knights of the Roundtable, gallantry and chivalry if Hollywood don’t think audiences want that King Arthur, why do they think they want any version at all?

Also, other than a brief flashback there is no Merlin to be had at all or even Sir Lancelot. What is this nonsense? Instead Merlin is replaced by The Mage played by Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, who controls a few animals, gives Arthur some visions and then promptly gets captured. Rubbish.

One of the main problems with this movie though is Charlie Hunnam. He just doesn’t work for me. When he tires to come of a confident he only comes of as smug. I don’t want a smug King Arthur I want a noble King Arthur! In general he comes across as a little bit wooden and a little bit flat. This is actually the second film I’ve seen him in this year, the other being The Lost City of Z, and I said exactly the same thing for that too. Come to think of it you could say the same thing about his role in Pacific Rim as well.Unfortunately though this means that both leading candidates for worst film of the year, star the same man.

When you’re leading role isn’t on point then you are always going to struggle to keep me on board with the story. Jude Law however in his defence, is probably the best thing about the entire movie. He actually showed a little bit of emotional, character depth and confliction in his actions while yearning for ultimate power and control. Everyone else with their barely sketched in characters has nothing really to play with at all and so just float from scene to scene following Arthur because ‘he’s Arthur’.

There were two things I did like about this film. Firstly, Excalibur’s magical powers and use in the fight scenes was pretty awesome. Secondly and this one is bitter-sweet as it actually gave me hope that the film had minor potential not to be awful. One of the first few scenes is Arthur and the lads talking to the captain of the city guard and the whole scene is excellent Guy Ritchie-esque dialogue and banter. Unfortunately the reason this is bitter-sweet is because this is the only time in the film this style actually works.

In short, don’t waste your money or your time. Maybe one day we’ll get a good King Arthur film on the big screen but this is not it. Oh and also David Beckham’s cameo was crap too.

Verdict: Thumbs down

Review – Busted: Night Driver

Is Busted’s new album a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

If you’d have told me back in 2005 that Busted’s next album would be released in 2016 and that it would have a completely different style and is actually fantastic. My first question would be ‘who are you and how do you know the future?’. My second thought would be that, you’re a bloody liar.

As we all know Charlie went off to focus on Fightstar full-time and he refused to ever consider returning to Busted. Yet here I am, listening to an album that completely slipped under my radar and it is actually brilliant.

That’s right, gone is the pop punk rock sound of the early 2000’s. Now more ‘Air Hostess’, ‘Year 3000’ or ‘That’s What I Go To School For’ to be found here. Instead we’ve got synthpop, new wave and indie pop vibes. I think it’s really good. It’s a big risk though, returning after over a decade in hiatus to do so with a completely new sound. Here, it works though. The songs are just as catchy as they used to be as well.

Also, there’s several saxophone solos to be found. Do I really need to say anymore?

The thing is, Busted have grown up and it wouldn’t really make sense for them to try to recreate their old sound. This new sound is what’s left after you get rid of all the juvenile pop punk from their original run and instead what you’re left with is a really solid musical group who are finding a new something and not afraid to take a huge leap to do so.

While it might not have been as successful as either of their previous records it certainly deserves recognition. The problem is that the trio are effectively a brand new band under the same name. A name that has a lot of sentimentality and history with its fans and some of them won’t want this new sound. It’s likely to create a divide between fans of the old and fans of the new, with people like me balancing in the middle.

That’s life I guess, at the end of the day this is a great album and I highly recommend it.

Verdict: Thumbs Up