Category Archives: Thumbs Up

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle

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

kingsmanposter_0When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the remaining Kingsmen’s journey leads them to their US counterparts, called Statesmen.

Kingsmen: The Secret Service is one of my favourite films, not just recently, but ever. I think it is simply fantastic. It was fresh, fun and brutal. I actually thought from the original trailers that I would hate it, but boy was I proven wrong. In fact, I’ve watched that film countless times and have been looking forward to this sequel ever since.

As a result I actually risked over hyping its potential to myself and perhaps as a result of this I did start getting a little concerned about the quality the second film in the franchise could produce. To be honest, I’d almost convinced myself that this film would fail horribly and be awful. It was a clear case of lowering my expectations so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I need not have worried, Kingsmen: The Golden Circle is a cracking film.

Now admittedly, The Golden Circle is not as good as the original, but you know what? Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was not ‘quite’ as good as the original either but that does not make either of them bad films. Far from it, this second outing is a highly enjoyable romp throughout that keeps a lot of the charm whilst also going a bit more bonkers at times. The argument will be that what was once fresh, new and different is now known and expected but Kingsmen 2 delivers on those moments of similarity and doesn’t feel like a re-tread of what we’ve already seen.

In Julianne Moore we have another excellent and eccentric villain and the action is as brutal as ever. Sure, it’s a little over the top at times and often ridiculous but when you’re having fun with it, who really gives a damn? Plus it still has that brilliant, now iconic (in my opinion) camera work for the fight and action scenes. Granted nothing is likely to ever top the original church scene with Colin Firth or that bar brawl just because they were so iconic and well executed in the original.

All of the returning characters are still a lot of fun and the new additions from The Statesmen are great too. Plus there are a number of surprises as well as a hilarious cameo too.

Honestly, if you enjoyed the first film you will enjoy the second one and if you have not seen the first one. Firstly, why not? Secondly, do so. Thirdly, then go and see this film because you will also enjoy this one. It’s really that simple.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

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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 – 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

Review: Paramore – After Laughter

After Laughter: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Hayley Williams and Paramore are finally back with their fifth studio album! After Laughter is the follow-up to their self-titled 2013 release and a lot has happened with the band since then. Bassist Jeremy Davis left and sued the band, then former drummer Zac Farro returned and in the meantime the bands musical sound has continued to evolve too.

I personally love the 80’s synth-pop and new wave influences but I can understand why some people do want ‘the old Paramore’ back. However, I loved 2013’s ‘Paramore’ sound (it is my favourite album by the band so far) and I really enjoy this one too. At the end of the day, if I like the music they produce who cares if it is not in their original style.

AL2After Laughter is a fantastically produced and crafted album which is full of crisp hooks to catch your attention. Honestly it sounds amazing, I love the mix.

After only a few listens I can recommend first single ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Rose Colored Boy’ as definitely worth a listen, I am particularly fond of the latter. While the first half of the album is initially stronger than the second half I do have faith that after a few more listens they will all prove to be ‘growers’.

Lyrically Hayley Williams is at odds with the upbeat rhythms created by the rest of the band but I really like the combination. Songs with sad themes do not actually have to be depressing after all and obviously Williams is brilliant as always vocally too.

This new record might not be immediately as awesome as 2013’s ‘Paramore’ but its pretty darn good. Consider me a fan. A fan of old and new Paramore, because I’m allowed to be both. Although some angry people on the internet say otherwise…

Now if we could avoid any other members leaving the group in between this and the next album then that would be great!

Verdict: Thumbs up!

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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

The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage…

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♥ Baby Groot ♥

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is really, really, really, really, really good. Hands down my favourite movie I have seen this year. It is just so much fun.

I think that Guardians 2 once again nails the ‘fun space adventure’ genre and I am actually finding it really difficult to review this film because quite frankly I can not think of anything else to say other than ‘its brilliant, go and watch it. You silly buggers why haven’t you already gone to see it?’.

The returning cast are all great, the new characters are really cool. Chris Pratt is pretty much the coolest man alive right now and Dave Bautista Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Kurt Russel and Vin Diesel are all excellent too.

Vol. 2, as you’d expect, has a brilliant soundtrack and it looks incredible as well. The immense array of colours, coupled with the musical choices make everything seem so bright, wonderful and adventurous. It is really nice to see the contrast of the Guardians franchise in a world of full of ‘dark and gritty’ superhero films.

Enough gushing though butI really liked it. Can you tell?

A few nit-picks I want to mention though. Sometimes Vol. 2 does try to squeeze in too many jokes and there are a few that fall flat. Mostly it moments that do not even need a joke taking away tension or intrigue. Secondly, the musical choices worked seamlessly in the original and really added to the film. This time around ‘the gimmick’ does occasionally feel a little more forced, maybe its just that the soundtrack in the first one is especially excellent though. Finally, good lord there were a lot of cameos and new characters introduced.

As I said though, in the grand scheme of things I am just nit-picking. I loved this film and spent the entire time I was watching with a big dumb grin on my face. Guardians continues to be my favourite Marvel cinematic property by some distance. Plus, I mean…Baby Groot is just awesome right?

Verdict: Thumbs up