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

How Not To Adventure (Episode 2): The Rat Cupboard

Three months ago the township of Durgon’s Rest exiled Elia Fenfrost for practicing witchcraft. But now as the first harvest approaches the crops are failing, local farm animals are becoming sick with disease, and all of the food stores have gone foul.

The town’s folk suspect that the accursed blight is the work of Elia – exacting her revenge for casting her out into the wild. Our three brave, yet incredibly stupid, ‘heroes’ are the villages last hope, but can they find Elia and end the curse before its too late?

Probably not.

Players:
Dungeon Master – Doug
Dalton Sebastian Belvedere Grey – Rob
Jibblewick – Josh
Skaram – Chris

The majority of this campaign is based on the Dungeons and Dragons story ‘The Witchfire Curse’ from The Brinoceros, check it out! Other stories used are ‘Deepwood Memorial’ and ‘Workshop of the Mad Alchemist’.

Predictions: Money In The Bank (2017)

Money in the Bank is actually one of my favourite PPVs of the year. Unofficially its the real fourth member of the ‘big four’ (sorry Survivor Series), so I guess we could make it the big five? At least in my opinion anyway.

It’s actually one of my favourite match types as well. Ladder matches are always fun but then you’ve got such an interesting stipulation to play with as well. Will the winner cash in on the night? Will they bide their time and wait for the perfect time to strike? Or will they announce their chosen time to challenge fairly for the title. Potentially you’ve got a years worth of story lines being created in one match. I love it.

This year Money In The Bank is a Smackdown exclusive, which I really dig. You don’t need both shows having a briefcase each. Make it more exclusive, make in more unique and make it more important.

Having said that this year is the first year that the WWE are doing a women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match. So you can go ahead and scrap that more unique and exclusive nonsense I just spouted. Okay, so first of all I really like that they’re doing a women’s match. It will be really cool to see what they can all do and I love the idea that we’ll get to see them play out all of the possible ‘cash in’ story line options for the first time. It would be fantastic if they’d figured out a new, never seen before twist for this, but even if they do something we’ve seen before it will be with new people and a new spin.

However, I said the same thing when Raw and Smackdown had a Money In The Bank ladder match each or when WWE have three Hell In A Cell matches in one night. Less is more. The main problem is far too often they end up spreading themselves too thin, having to share out moments and spot ideas. After all you can’t have the same table spots two matches in a row, the crowd wont keep on popping for them. So potentially instead of having one brilliant match you get a few good ones, or worse average ones. Hopefully we get two excellent matches though.

I do wonder in what order they will lay out the match card though. Will they have the Money In The Bank matches before the Women’s and WWE Championship bouts allowing for cash in opportunities. Will they have one on the night at all? Would they have two?! That would be crazy and I bet few people would see it coming. I think its more likely that the winner of the women’s will cash in than the men’s though as I see Jinder holding the title for a while. Whoops, prediction spoilers…

Money In The Bank Ladder Match

20170602_mitb_womenladder-3c948664588094cfa324b23beefeafd1The first ever women’s Money In The Bank Ladder match. Will it be great or will it be a flop? I mean, hopefully it won’t be a flop…why would anyone hope for that? Weirdos.

I joke but in all seriousness this match, just like the Hell In A Cell match, the tables match and the Iron Man match has to deliver. Not just to shut up that section in the audience who just love to see things fail but to continue to show Vince McMahon that yes, the women in his company can be just as good as the men. I have complete faith that they have all the ability in the world to knock it out of the park, they just have to do it right on the night.

But who is going to win? Well, I think it’s between three ladies. Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Carmella.

Carmella?! I hear you cry. If there was ever a dark horse in this match it would be Carmella and I can just imagine James Ellsowrth following Carmella down to the ring each week carrying her briefcase for her. That image alone would be fantastic! I think I can rule out Natalya and Tamina without any second thought but Carmella (who I know a lot of people will say is the weakest of the group) could be a brilliant heel with that Money in the Bank contract up her sleeve.

Which leaves Charlotte, who is an obvious contender simply for being Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Now with Charlotte you have to think about who she would feud with, if Naomi is still champion I think it will be unlikely for Charlotte to win. That is of course unless WWE a thinking very long-term.

With Becky however, she has fallen from number one babyface on Smackdown AND Women’s Champion, to neither the champion or number one babyface. With Charlotte arguably taking over the role of face and Naomi obviously champion. Becky kind of needs the briefcase to stay relevant in the topper half of the division. Plus, you can go a few ways with her as Ms Money In The Bank, either as a face or perhaps with a heel turn. Which again, Charlotte probably wouldn’t do as she’s only just turned face.

My pick here is Carmella, thanks obviously to a massive assist from James Ellsworth.

Winner: Carmella

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

How Not To Adventure (Episode 1): Trouble In Durgon’s Rest

Three months ago the township of Durgon’s Rest exiled Elia Fenfrost for practicing witchcraft. But now as the first harvest approaches the crops are failing, local farm animals are becoming sick with disease, and all of the food stores have gone foul.

The town’s folk suspect that the accursed blight is the work of Elia – exacting her revenge for casting her out into the wild. Our three brave, yet incredibly stupid, ‘heroes’ are the villages last hope, but can they find Elia and end the curse before its too late?

Probably not.

Players:
Dungeon Master – Doug
Dalton Sebastian Belvedere Grey – Rob
Jibblewick – Josh
Skaram – Chris

The majority of this campaign is based on the Dungeons and Dragons story ‘The Witchfire Curse’ from The Brinoceros, check it out! Other stories used are ‘Deepwood Memorial’ and ‘Workshop of the Mad Alchemist’.

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