Heyo! And welcome to bearded reviews. This is a blog where I’m going to spill my brains out on the things that matter to me, mainly films, TV, comics, books and games etc. I’m just doing this for fun so if you enjoy it that’s a bonus.
So pull up a chair, grab your pet and force them to give your cuddles and let’s talk about some stuff.
Earlier this year (before I started this blogging thing) the Disney classic, The Lion King got a live action remake that was so real you felt like you could walk in and visit Pride Rock yourself. This Monday it was released to purchase for home viewing and this has given me the opportunity to re watch it and digest my thoughts. So let’s dive in you bunch of Baboons!
SPOILERS! THERE ARE AS MANY SPOILERS IN THIS AS THERE ARE WILDEBEEST IN THAT HEARTBREAKING GAUGE! BUT HONESTLY IF YOU HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN THE ORIGINAL LION KING THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GO AWAY AND COME BACK WHEN YOUR’E DONE…
YOU BACK? GOOD, LETS GO!
What do I think the story was?
So as always I’m going to start my explaining what I thought the story was. This one is quite well known so I’ll keep it short.
When king Mufasa and queen Sarabi have a cub named Simba, the kings brother, Scar, get’s really jealous as he is no longer the heir to the thrown. To change this the scabby lion crafts an elaborate plan that results in both the king and his son’s death, or at least so he believes. whilst Scar assumes the thrown and invites hyenas into the pride lands, baby Simba is adopted by a Warthog named Pumba and a Meerkat named Timon. They teach him that life is meaningless and not to worry about anything you’ve done, it cant be changed so you shouldn’t care. But when Simba is all grown up and somehow living off insects but still maintaining a good muscle mass his childhood friend Nala finds him and tells him what has become of his home land. The four of them head back to pride rock to save the day and everything turns out peachy.
Compared to the original.
There is no denying that this film is a truly beautiful production. The original lion king is a picture that will always remain close to my heart, it was a big part of me growing up and I get goose bumps every time I watch that opening sequence. When first viewing the remake in the cinema the opening sequence brought me to tears, my childhood had been updated in the most beautiful and caring way. I genuinely really enjoyed this film however there was one glaring issue, that in the weeks following its release would be reported on everywhere: it was too real! the incredible work that had gone into making the film look as realistic and beautiful as it is was its biggest downfall, this is because the animals were not able to convey emotion. The 1994 film was a very emotional ride. When Mufasa meets his demise and baby Simba desperately tries to wake his dad, the audiences hearts break. This was not only achieved by the great voice acting given but the loose animation that allowed for big expressions and the look of a distraught cub. However the 2019 counterpart could not achieve this. Mufasa’s death is met with a very tearful voice but an emotionless, deadpan face. Simba’s lack of visual reaction makes the whole scene feel a bit strange as what is going on his face does not correlate with what is coming out of his mouth. Situations like this plague the film.
I wanted to get the bad out of the way first because everybody has heard about it by now, instead what I am excited to talk about are all the bits that surround that one flaw.
There are a few additional bits of plot in the 2019 Lion King that deepen the story in a nice way. For example in one of the first scenes we learn that Scar had fought Mufasa before and lost, this is perhaps where he got his signature scar. It is also hinted at and later confirmed that Scar once had a thing for Sarabi but his brother was chosen over him.
Both these things make it a bit more clear as to why he dislikes his brother so much. Speaking of Scar, his allies, the Hyenas are much scarier in this film than the original and there is a very clear hierarchy in place amongst them.
Much like in the original, the Timon and Puma are stand out characters for me. The improvisational dialogue between Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan plays really well and make the characters really quite believable. This version of Timon is a lot more camp than the original but I feel that really works. Hakuna Matata is sung brilliantly by these two and the wonderful Donald Glover. My favourite thing about this song is that we see cub Simba grow into big lion Simba and at the end of the song Pumba breaks the fourth wall a little and says “you’ve grown four hundred pounds since we started” but clearly only the audience would really know that right? Timon and Pumbas take on the circle of life is quite interesting too, they believe it’s more like a line and nothing you do has any impact on the rest of the world so you should just be selfish. What good role models they are!
Of all the songs in the film, this duo deliver my favourite two. One is the surprise inclusion of Be Our Guest from Beauty And The Beast. That really took me by surprise and made me chuckle. The second would be the acapella rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight which the jungle folk join in with until they are all rudely interrupted by Nala!
All this said there a couple other bits in this flick that are questionable. For example much like in the original, once the herbivores leave the pride lands because the Hyenas have over hunted, all the plant life starts to die. This makes no sense to me. Something else (that i find quite frankly amusing) is that Rafikki doesn’t have his staff throughout the whole film until the final battle and he greets it with “hello old friend”. does this mean he has this stick hidden away just for fights? why does Rafikki have a beating stick? And why does he look at it so fondly that he calls it friend? Honestly I won’t look at him the same way again. And the last bit is when Simba and Nalas cub is presented by Rafikki at Pride Rock it appears as though Pumba has a child? When did this happen?
When it comes to special effects this film definitely got the lions share, it is visually incredible. And though it may be let down by the emotionless faces I feel the narrative, voice acting and music is enough to still make a good film. For me I am giving it a score of Watch Ten More Times.
Thank you for reading,
See ya later!
p.s Everyone needs to watch the behind the scenes stuff for this. They literally built a 100 miles square set in virtual reality and then filmed it in there like a video game. WHAT!? How they made this thing is crazy.
Paul Rudd is one of the most charmingly funny people gracing our screens now days. He appears in everything from goofy comedies about news anchors to blockbuster superhero flicks where he plays an insect. But with the new release of a Netflix original series, we ask is two Paul Rudds better than one?
Here comes a spoiler free review of the series. The only story aspects I will discuss take place in the first episode or trailers so I can attempt to explain the story.
What do I think the story was?
Miles (Paul Rudd) sucks. He is unmotivated at work and is constantly letting colleagues walk over him, he has become a lazy and disinterested husband, he seems to generally not take joy in anything. However when a fellow employee tells him about a revolutionary spa that is said to improve all aspects of your life, he just has to give it a go. That’s when things get a tad odd…
The next thing he knows, Miles wakes up in a (very poorly made) grave (like seriously all they do is wrap him cling film and bury him inches below the surface, it would be pretty easy to stumble across). Naked and afraid (not a sponsor), Miles makes his way home and finds his wife is apparently with another man, only thing is, it’s himself. DUM DUM DUM! That’s right, miles was cloned (including all memories) at the spa but the new version of him is improved in basically every way. Apparently the spa isn’t great with disposing of the original Miles. Throughout the eight episode series the two miles’s try to figure out how to live in harmony, sharing the life they have or push each other away to keep it all for themselves.
Was it any good?
The first thing to say about this programme is that it is easy to watch, the twenty five minute long episodes are nicely paced, funny and normally end in a way that makes you want to go straight onto the next episode which makes for a very binge-able programme indeed. At first you might worry that having two Paul Rudds on screen will be a bit distracting but it is actually done really well. The two versions of Miles have different appearances in that the original is quite a slob and the clone is normally well dressed and even has a more confident posture. There is also the subtlety of lighting changes to make one seem more likeable. The clone always has better lighting and colour than the original (at least for the first episode) to create a more positive atmosphere around the character.
Paul Rudd and his on screen wife played by Aisling Bea have a great chemistry and their relationship is easily one of the most interesting aspects of the show. They both are very charming and deliver organically funny performances. The story takes some unexpected twists and turns which make for an enjoyable ride.
However it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, the show actually has quite a dark and sad core. I mean the whole story stems from Miles being sick of himself and wanting to become a new improved self instead. The series perhaps spends too long looking at the same scenes from different perspectives and would maybe have benefited from condensing it down to fewer episodes or maybe a movie. However it is still an incredibly easy watch.
Now for the question, would I watch it ten more times or never again?
If you want a short, easy to watch, humorous drama then go ahead and give Living With Yourself a go. The strange story and great cast marry together to make a fun programme with a rather dark centre plot line, it’s an excellent example of how you can combine tragedy and comedy to make something special. If you like Paul Rudd i’d definitely give it a watch as he plays two of the main characters and is his usual charming, likeable self. For me, even though I found the ending episodes to taper off and become a bit disappointing I think that I would still give this another ten watches just because of how easy it is to do so.
So there ya go, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this rather short review and I would love to hear what anybody else thought of the series. Also if anybody would like to hear my views on a particular production then go ahead and let me know in the comments. Would be quite fun to review something requested by you guys.
It took me a strangely long amount of time to actually getting around to seeing Joker despite being ridiculously excited for it. I am pleased to say I avoided spoilers and such and went in not really knowing what to expect. The thing is, I was never really that excited for this film when it was first announced. The reason the Joker in my eyes is one of the best villains is because we as an audience, and the characters that share his world know next to nothing about him except for the atrocities for which he is responsible. However with the more information that came out about the flick in the months leading up to its release, the more intrigued I became. At the end of the day, When an adaptation of something I already love is made, why would i complain? I’m getting more of the thing I adore! After seeing it tonight I am glad that I didn’t just write it off. So buckle up kids, I’ve got a lot to say this time.
Spoiler warning! If you don’t want to know any specifics about the film, thank you for coming but you should probably leave, CAUSE I’M GONNA SPOIL SOME STUFF!
This tale of a mans descent into madness is about as thought provoking as it is intense, as a result I have quite a few points I would like to cover. So let’s split it up into chunks shall we? Some bits may be quite long so feel free to scroll through and browse the headings so you can skip anything that doesn’t interest you. Lets start with…
Right from the first moment that we met Arthur Fleck I found myself feeling sorry for him. This man is trying his best to make his way in the world and not get any unnecessary attention along the way if he can help it. Yet somehow luck always seems to play against him.
In our first scene with Arthur we see him attacked at work for no apparent reason. This has huge ramifications as it leads to his acceptance of a firearm for protection and this eventually results in him losing his job. We also learn that Arthur has grown up without a father and had to care for his mother for most of his life, she seems to be one of the only things in the world that bring him any comfort. Like any other person he also has a dream, he wants to become a comedian, a star of the stage, like his idol Murray Franklin (a host of a show similar to Americas “late” shows). When a chance finally presents itself for Arthur to try out his comedy on the stage he snatches it up. But even this victory is bitter sweet. When he steps on stage his pathological laughing condition takes over which makes him unable to speak and instead just laugh against his own wishes; he is plagued by this condition throughout the duration of the film and it often gets him into trouble. He does however manage to get control of the laughter and have what seems to be a rather successful gig. Of course when things just start to look up for Arthur it all comes crumbling back down as his mum is rushed to hospital and his hero mocks him on live TV. There is also the heartache we see when he is desperately searching for his father who he thinks to be none other than Thomas Wayne.
All of these things put together make it hard not to feel for Arthur. It seems like the world is out to get him, most of the things that torment him are out of his control and this leaves him helpless. Why this empathy we feel for Arthur is so important in my eyes is because it makes the transition into Joker so much more powerful as he is such a diabolical and unlikable person but also it makes us actually understand why and how he has been driven to these extremes. We see a man fall apart and unfortunately he glues himself back together in the wrong way and quite frankly, its sad to see. Had this film not been titled “Joker” then I would have no expectations for him to turn into a murderous clown. I instead would probably be wanting to see him come out on top after all l the hardships he has faced, see the little man rise up above the crowd. Ultimately, seeing him suffer is what enables us to see the human side to a character that we already have a distinct image of built up in our heads. For some, all this tragedy actually allows us to connect to him.
All a lie?
During the film we discover that Arthur has been imagining a whole relationship with one of his neighbours that in fact barely knows his name. From this we come to realise that Arthur’s cuts run a lot deeper than first expected. As a result we may find ourselves questioning other plot points of the film and how much truth they hold. The fact that it gets your brain ticking in this way is great because it means everybody could see whatever bits they like as being true and this allows for different people having completely different experiences with the film.
The biggest question of truth for me comes from the last scene. Arthur has been captured after all the problems he has caused and we see him having a meeting with a woman in a white cell. However we had seen a very similar cell earlier in the film.
During one of the first scenes we see Arthur talking to his support worker for after he had left Arkham hospital. We find out he has only been out for three weeks. It is then that there is a flashback that only lasts a second of Arthur in a white cell, smashing his head against the little window in the door to the cell. So is there the chance he never even left the cell? That he was so delusional that he created this whole story whilst locked up? Quite possibly, a bit of evidence for this has been doing the rounds online recently. A beedy eyed viewer realised that all the clocks that appear in the background at any point during the film all read the same time. What reason could there be for time not passing at all?
At the moment this film is getting very mixed reviews, some are loving it whilst others don’t understand the hype at all, which is fair enough but one thing I don’t think can be argued is the quality of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. If the actor wasn’t convincing as the Joker during this film, the picture would have failed. But Joaquin delivers a compelling performance, rich with anguish and solitude. You believe this character is real. My two favourite things about his deliverance of the role is the genuine pain in Arthur’s face when he laughs but doesn’t want to and how he always runs with his feet up in the air as though he is still trying to not trip over his clown shoes despite not actually wearing them. The performance is helped along by the incredible set design. The first exterior shot we see is breathtaking, it really looks like 80’s New York, there is so much detail packed into it, as the film progresses you forget its all fake and you just go along not noticing, being fully immersed in this echo of Gotham’s past. One setting is utilised very well, the stairs leading to Arthur’s apartment.
This set of stairs is used frequently throughout the film by Arthur. At the end of every terrible day he has, he climbs the long dreary staircase that takes him home. It’s always dirty looking with dark skies and a positively dismal atmosphere. However once Arthur truly becomes the Joker this changes, for the first time we see him coming down the staircase, walking away from his home, leaving himself behind and truly stepping into the persona of the Joker. This is echoed not only by the fact that he gleefully dances down the stairs but that the sun is out, everything is reflecting the light and the whole scene seems happier. This set of stairs represents how far Arthur has come, it represents him leaving his old life behind, it represents him becoming his true self.
In a previous post I talked about The Killing Joke and how the running theme is that it only takes one bad day to send a man into madness. I feel like Joker shows this too. At one point he even says to his neighbour that he believes to be his girlfriend that he has just had a very bad day which is why he has decided to end it by breaking into her apartment. I saw this as the cracking point, after this his actions were a lot more extreme. I would say it’s not quite as simple as having one bad day though, Arthur was already deeply damaged so it was a shorter fall off the wagon. When the foundations are that cracked, it wont take much to make the structure shatter. The film also draws inspiration from The Killing Joke in that Arthur’s dream is to be a stand up comedian just like the joker in the graphic novel.
The Joker we don’t meet
Unsurprisingly Bruce Wayne makes an appearance in the film, only thing is, he is a little boy and his parents are still alive. Not to worry though, we get to see Thomas and Martha bite the bullet again! oh joy! The main significance of Bruce being this young is the huge age difference between him and Joker, by the time Bruce dons the cowl, The Joker will be an old man. So what if he isn’t THE Joker but A Joker instead. Perhaps when Arthur is locked up that really is the end of his story. If this is the case then it looks like Batman and The Joker were born on the same night. On the night that Bruce’s parents were gunned down, perhaps a little boy was caught in the clown riots, perhaps he saw unspeakable things, perhaps they would influence him for the rest of his life, perhaps Arthur Fleck is this young boy’s hero. This would mean that he could develop more Joker like qualities, such as his ability to plan intricate schemes to best the bat. Because Arthur is quite unlike the comic book prince of crime, he gets by on mere luck rather than his clever mind, he has next to no fighting ability yet the Joker from the comics routinely survives getting pummelled by Batman and obviously Arthur is far to emotional. All these things could be character traits of the young man he inspires that night. Hell maybe he gets weird tattoos and becomes Jared Leto.
Joker is an intense film that compellingly shows the account of one mans fall into madness. Joaquin Phoenix does an incredible job at delivering the performance and keeps you on the edge of your seat during the more unpredictable moments. A lot of people are claiming that it has changed the superhero genre but I disagree. This film isn’t in the superhero genre but instead fits more into a crime thriller category. What it does do however is prove that taking comic books as source material doesn’t mean it has to be a typical superhero film but can instead lean into different genres. If you’re making something enjoyable and different who cares if it strays from the source material. It’s better to make something new exciting than a carbon copy of the original pages. Hopefully this will encourage more genre influenced comic book movies, Dr Strange as a horror, Defenders in a gangster flick or Black Cat and Spider-Man in a rom com. Ultimately i think this film was great and would happily watch it another ten times. If you took off the face paint, removed the names of Gotham and the Waynes, this film would still be great. So to anybody who has not yet seen it (bit weird of you to read after the massive spoiler warning) get yourself down the cinema and prepare for an intense time.
thank you all for reading.
see ya later.
p.s That’s right ladies and gentlemen this film got the rating of watch ten more times rather than never again but what’s this? Another rating system? yep i’m also going to be giving things a spiciness rating from now on and this first one was HOT HOT HOT.
I would say a good 50% of the reading I do is made up of comic books. They offer a different reading experience than your average fiction novel, you rely less on imagination and more on an artists ability to convey a story through imagery and the writers use of dialogue to further push that story along. They are often looked at as being the child’s way of reading but I argue that just as much work and talent needs to go into a comic book as your average novel. So it’s time to appreciate the craft and look at some of my favourite comic books.
I think we will list 5, that seems like a good amount.
5. Batman: The Killing Joke
The killing joke is one of the best Batman stories written to date and is a must read for any fan of the character but equally a must read for fans of The Joker. The story of The Killing Joke is the classic Batman vs Joker but a lot darker than normal. Joker is posing the idea that all it takes is “one bad day” to send a man off the deep end and make them into something new, something like a psychopathic clown or maybe a fully grown man who dresses like a bat to fight crime at night. As both he and Batman are already at the stage of madness in his eyes he takes a fresh test subject, Commissioner James Gordon. The Commissioner is put through some truly horrifying things all within one day and obviously his pal Batsy comes to help but is it enough or is the whole series of events making Batman question his own beliefs too.
The visuals of the book are beautiful, Brian Bolland’s breath taking artwork is expertly coloured by the equally talented John Higgins. The masterful yet distressing story telling comes from legendary writer Allen Moore, though he no longer looks at this book very fondly, he clearly did something right as it continues to polarise it’s readers even today.
“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”
― Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke
4. Sandman volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
Dream (Morpheus) had been kept captive by The Order of the Ancient Mysteries for 72 years. When he escapes imprisonment he is in a much weakened state and needs to recover his objects of power. On his quest he encounters a madman, an addict of his dream power and the legions of Hell. Intense right?
The writer of this book is one of my favourite authors in and out of the comic book world. Neil Gaiman pulls on ancient mythology, fairy tales and folklore to create a vibrant world of forces that live beyond life and death. This first volume acts as a great introduction to the world as Gaiman himself was setting out the rules and layout of the world he was building. The book has quite a bit of dialogue which I quite enjoy, it’s a change of pace to read a comic book that has so much text but still manages not to get bogged down by it all. So much of what Gaiman writes in this book is like poetry, he has an incredible way with words.
And for those of you who like a good crossover, though it may be a vertigo title, Some names from the DC universe branch over into the book which is fun.
“What power would hell have if those imprisoned here would not be able to dream of heaven?”
As we get into the top three line up, the entries become very different to your average list of best comic books. This list really is a personal thing which is why we go from two classics to utter nonsense pretty quickly. So yeah, expect a change in scenery now, no more classic ones.
Spider-Man/ Deadpool has been one of the most enjoyable ongoing series I have read. It’s a nice easy read and combines two of my favourite Marvel characters. The two quick lipped heroes bounce off each other really well as they have such conflicting personalities. Deadpool couldn’t care less if an enemy lives or dies and Spider-Man sees it as crucial to keep everyone alive. Throughout the series they both struggle with their moral compasses and change the way each of them looks at the world and how they fit into it. There is the additional aspect of Deadpool having always really looked up to Spider-Man, he fan boys a lot and constantly wants to know who is under the mask. The two of them make for a consistently funny comic and have some really compelling stories. For example, for a few issues, the duo adopt a cyborg as their own child and try to raise him to be a morally sound individual.
“A little help please!” – Spider-Man
“Nah, I’m good” – Deadpool
Every issue in a nutshell
2. I Hate Fairyland
When little Gertrude wishes she could go to Fairyland her wish is granted, she is sucked into the floor and transported to a magical kingdom where she would spend the next 27 years trying to get home.
I Hate Fairyland is a truly hilarious series that follows a bitter middle aged woman (in the body of a child) that hates everything. She is accompanied by her sidekick, Larry the fly, that has fallen into what appears to be a deep depression after being stuck with Gert for so long. It is written and drawn by the genius Skottie Young. A large part of what I love about this series is the juxtaposition between playful child friendly artwork and horrifyingly violent, rude and mature story beats. From an aesthetic point, the whole book is very much Fairyland like, loose lines and vibrant colours really make it seem like the imagination of a child. Aside from the absurdity of the story, all the dialogue is also full to the brim with humour. Gertrude and Larry really play off each other well with how energetic and mad she is compared to his seemingly careless outlook. So whilst she is off slaughtering villagers, he hovers on the side lines puffing on his little cigarette.
This book is such a fun and easy read and I would suggest to anyone who has any interest in getting into comics.
“Larry, shut your maggoty mouth. I’m trying to slo-mo away from this explosion and you’re killing my vibe.”
– Skottie Young, I Hate Fairyland
1.The Walking Dead
Most people will know the Walking Dead through it’s silver screen adaptation by AMC. But before the likes of Rick Grimes and his merry band of survivors ever graced the screen, they graced the page.
The Walking Dead comic book series is an analysis of how we as a society would cope with the fall of order. In this case its due to the uprising of zombies. It constantly asks the questions how far would you go to protect the ones you love? And what things do we need to maintain in order to stay human rather than animals? The title may suggest that the story focuses on the dead but that couldn’t be further from the truth, this is very much a story about people. Throughout the course of story you see characters grown and thrive in new relationships but you also see them plummet to lows that you didn’t think possible. You really start to care about the individuals and it REALLY sucks when one of your favourites dies.
The story that Robert Kirkman has crafted is gripping and well paced, always leaving you wanting more. The first 6 issues were drawn by the Tony Moore which had a really clean feel. The following 187 issues were drawn and inked by Charlie Adlard who expertly established a tone and consistently manipulated shadows to his advantage.
“The pessimist looks down and hits his head. The optimist looks up and loses his footing. The realist looks forward and adjusts his path accordingly.”
― Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead earns itself the top spot on my list simply for the fact that it made me care. No other comic has elicited as much of an emotional response as this one. I sorely miss this title, I miss the excitement of getting it each month and reading it the second I returned home. But whilst almost all of these titles have now run their course, there are plenty more out there ready to be read. So if you don’t mind me I’m off to read some.
Thank you all for reading!
See ya later!
P.s I would be really interested in anybody else’s comic book favourites so sound off in the comments.
Stop the press! Somebody suggested a list! That’s right, one of you fine folks made a request and that was to see my top 5 albums. Not as in the top 5 albums I’ve made but instead my favourite 5 that have been beautifully crafted by other humans. I really like this suggestion, music is such a personal experience to everybody, it can do a lot for people emotionally and can also create bridges between people. It is as easy to bond over as the written word or moving image. So what albums have cemented themselves as some of my favourites? Let’s take a look shall we.
5. Multiply (deluxe edition) – Ed Sheeran
I’m surprised my copy of this album even works anymore. After getting it for Christmas it was played an awful lot, especially during those cold months. As a result the album feels wintery when I listen to it now. The songwriting in this album is beautiful and the addition of I See Fire elevates the whole record for me due to my love of the film it was written for. There is a great mix of slow, love fueled songs and more poppy rap songs to keep the album interesting and stop it feeling stagnant.
4. I Forget Where We Were – Ben Howard
Ben Howard’s second album is a very atmospheric one. He is amazing at creating an ambiance. My favourite song on the record shares the same name as the album and it’s music video is just as memorable as the song itself. This album was great for at college of I was having a bad day, wack this on my headphones and completely tune out, using that expertly crafted ambiance to house myself inside a little bubble. Though many people argue that Ben Howard is somewhat depressing, I think his music is beautiful. Especially the way he works a guitar, the speed his fingers move during finger picking areas is mind blowing.
3. American Idiot – Green Day
Classic punk rock band Green Day have wedged themselves into my top 5 which actually surprises myself as I feel it’s quite different to the rest of this list. But here it is anyway, at number 3 no less. I love the way that this album follows a narrative, which is basically a musical version of fight club. I admire that the band were willing to put in two rather lengthy songs to get their story across even though they must have known the tracks wouldn’t get much radio coverage, it really was about storytelling. The record is littered with some of their most famous songs too, so it’s fair to say it’s got some catchy tracks.
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
Sir Elton John almost landed himself on this list twice but I decided to try not to repeat myself. Goodbye Yellow Brick road sports an excellent selection of Elton tracks, some of which are in my amongst my favourites. The record also has a few songs that the casual listeners probably wouldn’t have come across before like All The Girls Love Alice which is a really great track, delving more into Elton’s rock side. The cover also has some lovely artwork which continues into the sleeves of the vinyl album (not sure how the cd appears), I really enjoy the illustrations of the people being sung about.
Here we go, some honourable mentions for you before the not so big reveal.
Staying At Tamara’s – George Ezra
Nation Of Two – Vance Joy
Honky Chateau – Elton John
The Last Of Us Gustavo Santaolalla
The Best Of Sam Cooke – Sam Cooke
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Guardians Of The Galaxy – Various Artists
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 – Various Artists
In my top 10 movie list I mentioned just how important the soundtrack to the first Guardians Of The Galaxy is to me. Whilst it still holds a great deal of importance to me I must say I prefer the music on the second soundtrack. To me it has a more playful tone and the songs mirror the narrative of the film a lot more than the first one did. I genuinely love each song on this album (bar the last one sung by David Hasselhoff) and as a result it acts as a massive pick me up when I need one. I know some people may not approve as it is a compilation album but I think the variety of artists really helps create the whole tone of the album. It is a truly magical record. And most importantly it’s a soundtrack that can be removed from the film and still remain incredible.
So yeah there we have it, my top 5 albums. Theres a little insight into my music taste for all you gremlins out there. If that was enjoyable for you maybe throw a like but if you feel I should t write about music then don’t respond at all and I shall leave this subject to people more qualified than myself. Thanks for reading regardless.
See ya later.
P.s if anybody wants to list their own favourites in the comments, feel free, I’d be interested to see other lists.
Six years after the final episode of Breaking Bad graced our screens we revisit Albuquerque, New Mexico to continue the adventure. As many of you probably know, there has already been a spin off from the franchise called Better Call Saul, which acts as a prequel to Breaking Bad and follows the fan favourite Saul Goodman. But in El Camino we jump straight back in where we left off with the final episode of Breaking Bad.
I’m going to make this crystal clear (pun not intended), this article includes spoilers for both Breaking Bad and El Camino. So go no further if you have not finished the main series. Once more, this time in bold, SPOILERS.
What do I think the story was?
The last thing we see of Jesse Pinkman is him jumping in a car and gleefully driving off into the moonlight having been freed from his supremacist captors. And this is exactly where El Camino picks up from, we see him running from the law after his escape. He visits old friends Skinny Pete and Badger and they do their very best to give their broken friend Jesse the chance he deserves. The rest of the movie focuses on Jesse trying to scrape up the money he needs in order to leave the state and head way up to Alaska with the help of the hoover man that set up both Walt’s (temporarily) and Saul’s new lives where they can restart.
The good and the bad
One big thing that really stands out to me is the film really feels like an extended episode of the Breaking bad series. It wasn’t over the top like you might expect from such an anticipated spin off film. Instead it maintained the grounded feeling of the original show that often could feel slow moving but was always growing towards a bigger climax. Additionally, most of the characters that were returning from the series fit in quite fluidly and didn’t seem shoe horned in. However the time gap between shooting was definitely noticeable on some people. For example the actor that plays Todd gained a bit of weight during the gap between the end of Breaking Bad and the shooting of El Camino, this does sort of remove you from the experience a little but its not major.
The flashbacks sprinkled throughout the film showed us what Jesse had to endure whilst he was being kept captive in that gross cage. All of these flashback scenes became relevant to the current story. However I do personally feel like they were overused just a touch.
There were quite a few emotional moments in the film (at least for the characters). When Jesse first gets to Skinny Pete’s house, you see just how broken he is and it is truly heartbreaking after having seen this characters whole story from first meeting Mr White. The way Skinny Pete tries his hardest to coax out the old Jesse is sad to watch and is reflected on the face of Badger who just like the audience seems to understand that Jesse is extremely damaged and is perhaps beyond external help and instead needs to be given space to come back to life. But when the opportunity to help Jesse presents itself, his loyal friends jump at the chance with what I think is an extremely moving moment. Both of the men understand they will probably never see Jesse again and are OK with that, they just want him to be happy. When saying goodbye Skinny Pete removes his hat, which like a Simpson outfit hasn’t left his person since we were first introduced to him. Now I may just be a sad case but I found this to be quite moving, especially when he caps it off with telling Jesse that he is his “hero”.
I’m not entirely sure some of the scenes were necessary, such as the Walter White one. Yes it was great to see him again but I don’t feel that it added much to the story. Same with the flashback that includes Jesse’s ex, Jane. It felt like it was just another chance to highlight just how much our protagonist has already lost. Like we know, Jesse has had a truly s**t run of it, I’d rather move forward with the story than focus on that.
Watch ten more times or never again?
I enjoyed El Camino but not enough to watch it ten more times. If I were to ask the question, did this movie need to be made? I’d say yes, I along with many others felt that Jesse’s story needed finishing properly and we got that with this picture. But I do think the film lent a bit too much on flashbacks and felt a bit too much like it was trying to cram in loads of returning characters to please fans. This didn’t stop me enjoying it, I really did, just probably not enough to watch it again. So in a strange twist of events i am actually giving a never again.
I’d love to know what other Breaking Bad fans thought of this so please do let me know. Thanks for reading.
In my short time on this planet I have watched a few movies and films and like to think I have a good enough way with words to express my opinions on them. You may disagree and that’s ok, you’re probably right. But today I wanted to share a list of my personal favourite movies. I think lists like this really give you an insight to the personality of the writer so that’s what I aim to do here, give you all an opportunity to get to know me better. You will all soon come to realise I am a massive nerdy man child. So let’s start where all good top 10 lists start and that’s number 9.
9. Avengers Endgame (2019)
After eleven years of being addicted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all the stories sinse the first Iron Man movie (2008) came to fruition in the highest grossing film of all time. Avengers Endgame is an emotional epic that doesn’t waste time explaining to new viewers what’s happened recently. Instead it relies on you having seen previous MCU (Marvel Cinematic Cniverse) entries to fully understand the plot. This allowed for a smoothly flowing and highly rewarding experience. It is what every comic book fan has ever wished for.
8. The Dark Knight (2008)
Chris Nolan’s second installment in the Dark Knight trilogy is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. The performance of the joker by Heath Ledger is an astonishingly hair raising one that really makes you question whether the film should have been named after the hero or villain. I think the Dark knight works so incredibly well due to the fact that if you take away the fancy batman gadgets and costumes it would still be an addictively entertaining film. Piling on the comic book goodness on top just makes it better.
7. The Lion King (1994)
Ah the Lion King, the childhood classic where if one king dies, so does the whole savanna. Now obviously the lion king has a few issues like Scar’s nazi rally, the demonisation of hyaenas and the lion sex you never realised as a child. But for me and many others, it will forever hold a place in my heart for being a great story about revenge and love. Full to the brim with likable characters, catchy music, emotional trauma and great voice casting, the lion king is a true Disney classic and a gateway to my childhood.
6. The Land Before Time (1988)
It would seem that emotional scarring was the way to get in my good books with animated films. The land before time follows littlefoot the long neck who after an earthquake loses his mother (holds back a torrent of tears) and has to make his way to a safe place called the Great valley. Along the way he makes friends with other child dinosaurs and they go on the journey together. I swear I have watched this film near to a hundered times. I almost always had one of these films on the go when I was a child. It is a truly lovely film all about friendship and bravery and will stay with me until the day I die. I give this film the reward of being a fundamental building block in who I am.
10. Superbad (2007)
Bam !!! I bet you fell for that trick earlier didn’t you. 10 is back baby! The ultimate top 10 officially has 10 entries!
Superbad is the story of a few teens who want to buy alcohol and go to a party where they hope to impress their high school crushes. They fail hilariously on all accounts. It has an excellent cast consisting of Seth Rogan, Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and more. The film is just all round hilarious.
5. Captain America Civil War (2016)
What’s better than your favourite superheroes fighting a big villain side by side? Your favourite superheroes fighting eachother. After Captain America The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers (directors of that movie) were given the third installment in the Captain America franchise. In this one, the government try to institutionalise the avengers and make them be run by the government. When some agree with this and some don’t, the team fractures and battle it out. What can you expect from this movie? Stunning fight sequences, check! Copious amounts of character development, check! Conflicting emotions, check! A big change in the dynamic of the marvel cinematic universe, big old check!
4. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Just missing out on the top 3 spaces is Empire Strikes Back. This is without a doubt (in my humble opinion) the best star wars flick. Not only does it open with the epic battle on hoth the snow planet where we see the emeprial robot dogs, the AT-ATs. But in this film we also get the introduction of Lando Calrissian and master Yoda. This Star Wars has what I believe to be the best ending as all our heroes are in tatters and all hope seems lost. We as an audience may feel a bit stunned (especially after that bombshell about Luke’s daddy issues) and this is a great way to end the film because it’s so unexpected and feels so unfinished making you incredibly excited for the next one. Some would say this film is truly out of this world…
Now no list is complete without an honourable mentions section. But this one sure is! Onwards!
3. Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King (2003)
After following the fellowship for six hours we arrive at the climactic finale to Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy. This film is imbeded in my memory for a couple reasons. The first is just how amazing a film it is. It expertly caps off the LOTR trilogy (with perhaps one too many endings) with a spectacular war that involves the kingdom of men, Mordor orcs and trolls, massive Oliphant’s, kill counts, dragons, ghosts, a lot of horses, a king, a dwarf, an elf, a wizard and a couple hobbits. There are probably others too. This battle is massive and you really get this sense of scale but you still track the stories of individuals in the battle which allows you to stay grounded and not get too overwhelmed. The end of Sam and Frodo’s story is an emotional and stressful one too and offers a welcomed break from the busyness of the war that is being waged at Minas Tirith. The second reason this stays with me is because I am 90% sure this is where my disliking of spiders comes from. The larger than man spider, Shelob terrified me as a child. I very clearly remember hiding under my dad’s duvet when the scene began. Not that he would have helped me as he has a fear of spiders too.
2. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Lonely human, green alien lady, muscled out whack job, sentient tree, talking racoon. What more can you want?
I think we all have that film that when we’ve had a real s**t day, it has the power to cheer us up a little. For me, Guardians Of The Galaxy has done this many times. This comedic, feel good space opera is about a group of rather unlikable criminals that band together to save the galaxy from certain doom. Each character plays off eachother so well, they are truly hilarious. It’s also the first time that the MCU went into space and we got a very important explanation of the infinity stones too. The main reason this movie lifts my spirits is not just the humour but actually the hidden character… The soundtrack. I look at the soundtrack as it’s own character because of how big an impact it has on the movie, it completely changes the tone of every scene and is actually quite integrated into some of the plot (DANCE OFF BRO!). Not only is it important for the film but it has also shaped my taste of music. I was never that interested in music before GOTG but when that soundtrack came out, my nan bought it for me and it changed everything.
1. Jurassic Park (1993)
And we are at number 1, if you’re still reading then thank you, you must have a truly boring life to want to read about my opinions for this long. But I thank you for that anyway. You’re roarsome…
Once upon a time there was an old man who sucked the DNA out of fossils in order to bring dinosaurs back to life and create a theme park around them. But when a terrible storm hits, things start to go wrong, oh no! Jurassic Park is one of those films that is classed as ageless. I can’t see a world in which it is not relevant. When the movie came out it was praised for its jaw dropping CGI and really kick started the use of CGI in major blockbusters. The story really makes you question to what degree humans should be alowed to control life and what implications will come of doing so. Each character glues you to the plot and is memorable for their own reasons. This film has become part of the foundation for dinosaur and monster movies in general. The fear and suspense experienced in this film keeps viewers on the edge of their seats but not before pulling them into a false sense of security with all the wonder you experience when you first see the beautiful dinosaurs. Also the fact that the dinosaurs are actually only on screen for 15 minutes is a testament to the story telling of Steven Spielberg. And to make things worse, these folks had to film through a hurricane.
On a personal level this film cemented in me my obsession of dinosaurs and gives me a fuzzy nostalgia feeling every single time I watch it. See this film is rooted deep in me, it physically effects me!
I need another heading to sperate the outro from the list.
Thank you all for reading my top 10 list, I genuinely had a lot of fun writing this one. So if you want me to do something similar let me know. I may do a top 5 TV shows at some point. But if you think this sucked then that’s ok too. But I’ll probably do the TV thing anyway because that sounds fun and nobody is forcing you to read this. Unless you are being forced to in which case I sincerely apologize. Anyway, big thanks for reading.
Kevin Smith is one of my favourite directors, if not for his films, for his personality and relatability as being such a big nerd. So this morning whilst my girlfriend was asleep I decided to stick on one of his films in anticipation of Jay and Silent Bob Reebot. I thought I’d start from the beginning and go with clerks. Haven’t seen it for a few years so it was interesting to watch it again. So let’s dive into the world of Jay and Silent Bob.
So what do I think the story was? Who knows? The film follows a character called Dante who on his day off, has got to cover somebody’s shift at work where he is a convenience store clerk. The shop next door is a film rental place. The clerk there is called Randell and he is the worst employee ever, he spends most of his time next door annoying Dante at work. The whole film revolves around these two and takes place over one day at work. The films plot is on the light side but the whole film is instead driven forward by the immense amount of dialouge.
The film is both fascinatingly clever and hilariously stupid. The way the film delves deep on the daily life of these two miscreant store clerks, something that on the surface seems mind numbingly boring (which they obviously feel it is) and yet makes it charmingly entertaining is great. The fact that it’s such a simple topic, makes it that much more impactful when done this well. The stuff they talk about is what you would expect from high schoolers, obsessing over exes, joking about sex and drugs, star wars theories and trying to figure out their greater purpose. You also have Jay and Silent Bob who hang around outside for the whole film, smoking and talking to strangers, they act as a purely comedic element of the film. Jay is over the top and talks to literally everyone he can where as Bob remains quite the whole time, only delivering one line in the whole film which is a fairly wise one.
Some of the acting is definitely not the best but I am willing to overlook that personally as it wasn’t too distracting for me. The stylistic choice of making the film black and white definitely sets it apart. The long, lingering camera shots would normally seem quite off putting in any other film but I feel it reflects the slow moving day the employees are experiencing and makes you concerntrate on dialogue a bit more as you’re not distracted by constant camera changes.
I would say this film definitely has an acquired taste. But I would argue it’s not a bad thing, you will either like it or you wont. As with anything I suppose. That was kind of a needless thing to point out wasn’t it? Oh well. Onto the vote!
Watch ten more times or never again. I’ll watch ten more times, I’ve already watched it a few times. It’s just an easy film for me to watch I think. It says a lot without very much happening. So yeah. Give it a go if you want. Or not, it’s Sunday. Go have a roast and a nap.
This week I finished Netflix’s Dark Crystal series. The ten episode series is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name. When watching it I didn’t know it was a prequel so I will probably be watching the film soon too. So let’s take a look at the series shall we?
This is going to be a spoiler free review so you little goblins who are yet to see it can go in knowing only the basics of the plot.
What do I think the story was? Thra is a land rich with nature and is filled with loads of different races. The main two that the series focus on are the Skeksis and Gelfling. The Gelfing are a race of (non wrinkly) Yoda like creatures that are spread through out Thra in their different clans. The Skeksis are like fat demon birds, that guard the crystal of truth (which was created during the formation of Thra and acts as it’s beating heart, giving life to all) and rule over Thra in their big ugly pointy castle. When the Skeksis start using the crystal to benefit themselves in slightly unsavoury ways, certain Gelfing piece together what the Skeksis are up to and fight back. Classic good Vs bad.
So let’s get into the positives. Straight out of the gate it becomes apparent that this is a world rich with law and depth. The world they build throughout the series feels vast and real, this is helped by the cast of characters as they came from different clans and have different characteristics. The Gelfing cast consist of the young castle guard, Rian, the wide eyed cave dweller, Deet and the brave princess Brea. Each of these characters discover what’s going on in their own ways and take their own paths, leaving you constantly wondering if they’ll ever meet.
The set up feels like a classic fantasy tale like lord of the rings or game of thrones where there are loads of different stories happening that all link together. However unlike in some other productions, there are few enough that you don’t struggle too much to remember people names or get bogged down by the weight of trying to keep track of all the sub plots. And the main story itself is great, it’s full of betrayal, mystery, violence, humour and wonder. You’re constantly kept guessing as there are so many twists and turns throughout. There is an excellent contrast as well, in that the puppets and fantasy make the programme feel quite light hearted but every now and then there are some truly disgustingly dark moments.
The performances by the voice actors bring each character their personality and are really enjoyable but what really brings the whole thing to life is the puppetry. The artistic talent that has worked on this production can not be understated, it’s incredible. The world that has been created is quite frankly beautiful and each character has a lot of detail to them, these are no Muppets. Instead they set off a sense of nostalgia as they are just as powerful as some of the most remembered characters in cinema history like Yoda, ET or the gremlins.
Now it may seem like I feel this to be the perfect series but don’t get me wrong, there are some flaws too. The main one for me is that the Gelfing have quite stiff faces and struggle to emote anything more than happy or shocked. This does take away a little from the more emotional scenes. And on a whole the puppet aspect of this production is likely to put people off, I admit, it even took me a few episodes to get into it and not find the lack of lip movement to be too jarring. There is also the use of CGI. It is used alongside the puppets every now and then to pick up bits that just couldn’t quite be achieved with puppets alone. And whilst this is great, the difference between the two can sometimes be a bit too obvious and sucks you back out of their world a little bit.
But if you can push past these small issues then you are in for an epic adventure. You’ll be submerged in a world of fantasy that doesn’t rely on orcs, dragons, dwarves or elves to flesh out the rich world of Thra. Instead it is a world like no other. The slow start builds into a dreadfully exciting adventure that has a very consistent feel to it due to the whole show being directed by the same person.
My verdict: Dark Crystal will definitely appeal to a certain niche of people and many won’t bother to watch it. But if you do, the artful storytelling, emotional character building and epic scale of it all will keep you hooked until the very last episode. I would urge everyone to try a visit to Thra, because I loved the experience I had with it. This is an easy watch ten more times for me. I hope that anyone who watches it because of my words would agree. Now make like a Landstrider and go watch.
Good day everyone and welcome to my first book review. For my first review I’m going to talk about the book I just finished called Why Dinosaurs Matter. I was instantly interested in this book when I first saw it not only due to to my love of dinosaurs but because in general I thought it was quite an interesting question; why do dinosaurs matter? After all they have been dead for 65 million years (at least all except for the birds), how can they effect us now? This book answers that very question and asks many more, mind tickling ones through out.
Also it’s worth noting the cover illustration is lovely and is a part of what made me want it too.
The book opens with one of my favourite chapters which is called: in defence of dinosaurs. In which Kenneth has a very strong first line that reads “Albert Einstein was a complete and utter failure”. He then lists nearly a full page of how he revolutionised science and so many aspects of every day life with his genius. But in the end, he died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Where did all his genius get him? Dead, that’s where. Now of course that is preposterous. A man’s achievements can’t just be undone due to how they died. That’s his point. In the Cambridge dictionary the word dinosaur means “something that is old and that has not been able to change when conditions have changed and is therefore no longer useful”. We often use the word dinosaur in this way. Like when a grandparent is baffled by their new phone and tries to talk to Siri like she is a sentient being, you may refer to them as a dinosaur. However this really doesn’t do the creatures justice. The dinosaurs ruled the earth for 180 million years and saw the earth change in ways we couldn’t imagine. They adapted to every change, mastered every environment and filled every niche. They became the biggest things to ever walk the earth and yet we write them off as some dumb creatures that couldn’t stop their extinction. The thing that was said about Einstein illustrates just how stupid it is for us to suggest that the dinosaurs were a failure just due to the fact that they are not around anymore. Their brilliance must not be understated.
The rest of the chapters cover a plethora of interesting topics like looking at whether penguins are dinosaurs, the reign of the T-Rex, the fall of the dinosaurs, the titan that was Dreadnaughtus and how Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallece came up with the theory of evolution. It becomes very clear throughout every chapter just how important the study of ancient life is to our future.
Kenneth’s writing style flows really nicely despite using a lot of big, field specific words. There is the odd bit of humour injected in the non stop knowledge fest which really helps pace the book.
Ultimately the book was a joy to read. And if I were to answer the question of why dinosaurs matter based on what I read in this book, I’d say that they are the ultimate door to the past that lets us start to understand our future. Dinosaurs are synonymised with the past because of how they have so brilliantly captured the imagination of the public. Above the Egyptians, Aztecs, cave men, pirates, wooly mammoths and saber toothed tigers, the dinosaurs have cemented themselves as our reference point for the ancient past. We can learn so much of how the world changed and how they adapted to change with it and start to implement these things in our modern world.
In a blink of an eye in earth’s history we have started (and are living in) the sixth mass extinction. The difference is, unlike the dinosaurs we can see the asteroid coming, it’s just a shame that asteroid is us. However we can still narrowly escape it if things change. And we have to because it’s worth noting that when the dinosaurs and seventy five percent of life vanished from the planet after the asteroid hit and ended the mesozoic era, the asteroid vanished too. And if we are the asteroid this time around, it doesn’t bode well…
So yeah they are my thoughts on the book, I loved it. But now I don’t know what my rating system is for books. How about… Either add it to my library or burn it. Yeah that’s extreme enough. I’m going with adding it to my library for this. Though I may not read it anymore than three more times, it is a happy addition to my bookshelves.
Thank you all for read
See ya later
P.s did anyone else realise when it comes to Dinosaurs I suddenly start talking all professional?