Sonic the Hedgehog – Review

Hollywood forgets every so often that audiences are made up of real people who don’t always want films that carry a political statement or modern day protest. Breaking boundaries is great and all but sometimes films only ever need to be family entertainment in the form of an escape to be a success and that’s exactly what Sonic the Hedgehog is.

Image result for sonic movie poster

My very first memory of video games is sitting beside my older brother while playing the then SEGA console of the time and seeing that blue speedy ball flash past the ever so colourful visuals while he collected gold rings. Sonic the Hedgehog is a gaming establishment and I have forever cherished the memories of playing those games as they came out in the early 90’s.

Over the years there have been a stack of video game to cinema adaptations. I can count the enjoyable one’s on a single hand and so when I saw they were finally giving Sonic the same treatment, like most I was hesitant in my belief. Turns out they did it and they did it rather well!

Over the weekend my brother joined me at the local cinema and like those days of old we watched that blue sphere rush through rich cinematic landscapes but this time with a narrative and so full credit goes to Ben Schwartz for voicing the ‘fastest thing alive’. And now after they improved the CGI of our main character it does look quite good.

Image result for sonic movie

The story is simple and easy to follow; they’ve blended Sonic’s world with ours and so that’s the story; an alien hedgehog has been living in solitude on Earth until he gets discovered by ‘Green Hills’ local cop played by James Marsden who brings character balance to the film; he’s not only fun himself but bounces off the humour Sonic piles into the dialogue. Although there were many gags and funny moments; most were aimed at younger audiences but overall everyone will find the humour and fun in this. Our antagonist comes in the form of Jim Carrey, now say what you will about him; many don’t like his style or his performances but I thought he brought a perfect sinister level of creative humour that gave life to the iconic Doctor Robotnik – again another character who has never spoken in the earlier games. Some of his one-liners are typical Carrey which mainstream audiences will laugh at.

Image result for sonic movie

You’ll find plenty of nods and tributes to the original games such as names, music interludes and even dialogue moments. For big time fans of Sonic; check it out, you will most probably enjoy the majority of it. To see my original gaming hero reach number 1 in both the US and UK film charts is quite special and credit where credit is due because they have done a good job in providing a film that might not be protest towards anything or have a ground breaking cast; but it’s entertaining and fun for all ages. Sometimes that’s all stories need to be!

8 Rings out of 10 

The stories that inspire us – ‘Dumb and Dumber’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Comedy is often overlooked in this world. The ability to make one laugh is possibly the most human thing someone can do and to me one of the easiest ways to make someone comfortable or uncomfortable. Most of us know there is a very fine margin between comics and depression but laughter can be a vessel out of the darkness.

‘Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?’

Image result for dumb and dumber

‘Dumb and Dumber’ is a film that many might judge by it’s simplistic title and much of the story is simple but to me it’s a fun and even heartwarming story about friendship. Two friends Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) are going nowhere in life ‘unless you wanna work forty hours a week…’ and set out on a road trip to reunite a briefcase that Lloyd witnessed a woman drop before getting on a flight. It’s the typical road trip buddy story where the pair find themselves in stupid but very funny situations.

‘Why you going to the airport? Flying somewhere?’

Like a lot of cinema in history it has a few non PC moments but for most of the film Dumb and Dumber carries an innocent level of comedy in the realms of stupidity – both on a physical and literal level. Without over analysing it, the script is a juggernaut of quotes that I say to myself quite often. Much of my comedy influence has come from this film over the years where both actors put in considerable performances and today their resumes are decorated.

Image result for dumb and dumber

Carrey and Daniels are household names

The film appeals to a wide range of ages which is the key to all successful comedy. There are more adult style gags which will go over younger audience’s head’s while the physical and straight up silliness will get everyone laughing. Although this film was released in the early 90’s it still stands up quite well and the soundtrack like all Farrelly brother’s films is golden.

‘You know, Lloyd, just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!’

Image result for dumb and dumber gif

For many years and even today this is film that brightens up my day. It’s fun, silly and easy to watch. You can find the influence of Dumb and Dumber in much of my work from my novella ‘The Teleporter’ to the Pantomime plays I have written.

It is my opinion that without comedy the world would be a much darker place. And if you are ever feeling down in any way my advice; find something that makes you laugh – for me that’s Dumb and Dumber.

Do you have a go-to comedy film or series? 

Joker – Review

The world has waited a long time for an origins story of quite possibly the most iconic antagonist in comic book and story-telling. We’re used to seeing the ‘business end’ of most ‘bad guys’ without their journey really being acknowledged. The hero swings in and they get beaten, the end… 

‘Joker’ breaks that mold in what I could only describe as a pure cinematic journey into a level of madness and depravity most would find some level of discomfort in – but that’s why it’s so good and even with this story unfolding before our eyes this is just the tip of a much deeper and realistic iceberg.

*There aren’t any specific spoilers in this review *

joker.PNG

A huge player in the theme of this story is privilege versus the downtrodden in a Gotham city where hard times are showing no end and this is where you’ll find the motive and choice behind our title character. Joaquin Phoenix or ‘Arthur’ brings so much to the table in this film; if it wasn’t titled ‘Joker’ it could easily be the tragic tale of a man with a history of being abused who has an abundance of issues while he slips through the cracks of care and society. Very early on you cannot help but back this man who is like everyone else in this world trying to make it through with aspirations and dreams.  

In places the film is awkward to watch and this a deliberate move to highlight ‘Arthur’s’ struggle socially and there will be moments that first appear funny but are actually tragic. This is a man who has been downtrodden his whole life in a world where everyone is sick of struggling while the elite prosper. Eventually these two concepts or themes meet in what is a culmination that is both shocking and incredibly powerful.

Just as the final thirty minutes of this film unravel the whole thing turns on it’s head and becomes a tale of pure anarchy. And even after this ‘Joker’ became apparent and did what he did, it’s portrayed in a way where his choices may have actually been justified for the life he has led. We see the grit of his story on his side of the fence and for everything he does it will leave you thinking, maybe he isn’t the bad guy after all.

I think this film is going to get my number 1 of 2019 and personally I think awards don’t mean much but Phoenix at least needs a nod. Robert De Niro was also fantastic in this film and played a role I never imagined to see him in. Throughout it felt like old school cinema with just a hint of independent film making and a dusting of Tarantino all wrapped up with a great soundtrack and some good cinematography.

5/5 – It’s harrowing, depraved, violent and graphic in places, it isn’t for the faint of heart but I highly recommend this film! By far the best ‘DC’ universe film since the ‘Dark Knight series’. 

 

 

IT Chapter 2 – Review

Derry, Maine – 27 Years later – the ‘losers’ club reunite to take on the horrors that haunted them as kids in what is probably the most anticipated film of 2019 and guess what, they didn’t fu** it up! In fact there are several references to not liking endings throughout what is one hell of culmination and personally, enough to cap off one hell of story…. 

it

Pennywise has risen and the film opens with reference to the pact which the loser’s club made to face him if he would ever return. The story then begins in ‘present’ day. Things start off quite brutal and really are a sign of what is to follow. This time the whole deal felt more psychological as opposed to physical horror, I would even hazard to guess everyone’s favourite clown has a severely reduced screen time compared to chapter 1 but his appearances were consistent and carried impact just like the man who plays him Bill Skarsgård.

We are introduced one by one to the ‘club’ who are now adults, and the players they have assembled is probably some of the best casting in modern cinema. They really have put in efforts to find people who not only resemble the kids but their whole personality and chemistry together is something that I found a pleasure to watch. It’s funny and meaningful without being over emotional or even cheesy. These kids went through so much and you feel it as a passenger on this roller coaster ride.

They assemble and a journey begins to find a way to kill Pennywise for good. Each of the now grown up kids has to find a ‘token’ of their past and use it to destroy the threat of the present. It’s a clever way of metaphorically saying ‘we beat it before, so we can beat it for good this time’. Chapter two not only references the masterpiece that was Chapter one but we are taken back many times throughout showing scenes that weren’t in the first. It fills in the gaps while all the more adding a lot more weight to the already detailed story.

It nostalgia and familiarity of the present day rolled into one; a perhaps original concept that makes this film flow and you forget about running times entirely. I’ve kept this review vague because Chapter two really is worth a watch. It’s a compliment to the first and so much more. The characters, the visuals, the jumpiness and everything else. Stephen King is a master story teller and it is films like this that do his work justice. You may even see him make a cameo briefly…

10/10 – Must watch for anyone who has seen the first, if you haven’t go now! 

The Lion King – Review

A visual spectacle where the show is stolen once again by two familiar characters…

It’s hard to deny that the Lion King is a tale of epic Shakespearean proportions, after all it’s ‘Hamlet with lions’ but the story has appeal to all ages and Disney continue to do that clever thing where they adapt a previous release into live action. This concept is near enough a solid strategy for selling tickets to the young and old and yet again it’s worked in that respect but a live action adaptation that involves just animals; does it really deliver?

My answer is yes and no, because I can’t deny visually the cinematography and computer generation somewhat merge into an impressive spectacle. Much like when Jurassic Park came out most people found it hard to determine when they had used CGI and not. The same is for the Lion King and although it looks great it feels like a certain dimension of the story is missing with this choice and I am talking about emotion.

Yes these are animals and they express emotion differently and in a cartoon you can make a lion frown or smile but when it’s appearing as ‘real life’ the concept is kind of lost. This is even more so apparent in musical numbers where emotion is the real key to delivery.

I’m not a film critic so that’s the subjective part out of the way because overall I enjoyed the Lion King – I avoided the animation for a many years because its quite sad in parts and the same is for this version but the story is about redemption so I dig it. The voice acting can’t be faulted along with most of the musical numbers – it seems ‘Be prepared’ was mostly omitted disappointingly… but everything good about this new version is what makes it worth seeing. It was pretty rewarding to see some scenes exactly how they were in the animation, a fitting tribute for this new live action way. I really liked how some of the characters were created visually; Scar looked exactly how an outcast lion would – dark and ominous and who wouldn’t mention Timon and Pumbaa – two characters who stole the show yet again and their comedy made the whole thing! Of course full credit to James Earl Jones who reprised his role as Mufasa from the original.

You’ll laugh a lot as well as find some of the film emotional in what is a brave execution for Disney leaving some audience members still unsure, but if you ask me the Lion King gets 8 ‘Hakuna Matata’s’ out of 10 

  

Rocketman – Review

A candid tell-all story about a truly great musician and artist…

rocket

Rocketman succeeds somewhat where other biographical stories fall short because this film follows Elton John on a very personal and sometimes brutal level. First and foremost it’s a musical which is delivered in way best described as fantasy.

Lead man Taron Egerton whom I was yet to find a good film of until now has found a great way of not only embodying Elton John but also carrying it in his own style while still very much resembling the music superstar we all know. In fact the realism and brutality of fame intertwines brilliantly with a back catalogue of well known and  sometimes melancholy songs that blend together to bring what is a fun immersive story.

We see Elton’s routes from his very early home life and interest in playing the piano. His mother played by the probably over glamourous Bryce Dallas Howard who is believable with an English accent. This is also where the absence of a Father figure emerges for young Elton while he tries to figure out his emerging talent. Soon the story transitions to Egerton’s portrayal where he meets long time lyricist and friend Bernie Taupin; the film does well in telling a story of two artists here; the perfomormer and the writer; something where a lot of bio’s fall short. Eventually they make their way over to the US where Elton’s performance at the LA Troubadour club is portrayed in a fantastical but real way showing the effect of his talent to a new audience. His rise to fame and fortune follows while the life of a Rockstar begins to take its toll.

Overall the premise of this film is delivered in an original reflective way as we are introduced to Elton in full bright orange garb as he sits down for group therapy. He tells the story as if he is in that therapy; from drugs, alcohol and even shopping addiction to even loneliness nothing is sugar coated in what is a great biopic about a great musical artist.

Even the next morning I found myself singing to myself.

5/5 Starts 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logan Review

I don’t think anybody knows where the actual timeline of events lies with the last few X men films but I can happily say that’s not relevant. As a matter of fact I myself have never seen a bad X men film and so I went into watching Logan with rather high hopes.

If you have read my reviews before I do my best not to include major spoilers so consider this a warning if you haven’t seen Logan.

logan.PNGThe year is 2029 and quickly we are introduced to an older beat up Logan. Hugh Jackman fits into an older wolverine well considering he is older now. Walking around with a limp you immediately believe Logan has seen better days. The mutants we all know too well with this universe are nearly all but gone. That is apart from the Professor himself (Patrick Stewart) who brings probably his greatest performance of Professor X I have seen.The wheel chair bound genius is reduced very much to his somewhat demented thoughts and is reliant on medication.

For the first time in these movies we see the pinnacle icon characters for who they really are, and without being poetic this film about mutants has never been so human. Wolverine is literally floating down at the bottom of the barrel and trying his best to keep Professor X above water. The likes of Storm, Rogue, Cyclops and the school for the gifted has long gone making the premise of Logan dark and even desolate in some places.

The story soon enough unfolds which is; survival of the mutants. The mostly mute and brilliantly cast Dafne Keen plays a young girl caught up in the full on extermination of her kind. It is up to Wolverine and Professor X albeit their conditions to bring her to safety. Action is woven in and out of the plot and feels relevant at all times even if this is an uber violent version of an X men film. We see the very graphic repercussions of what clawed hands actually do to a man in a somewhat Tarantino style. Paired with this is the swearing and a lot of if which is no complaint to me, it just adds to the humanistic realism.

The bad guys come in the form of Boyd Holbrook a bounty hunter type and later on the twisted doctor played by Richard E Grant who are equally great and convincing. They do their best to track down the final mutants some of which are very young kids all in hiding.

As much as we could predict from the trailer this film did feel like a final send off for an era of great films.Anything that did happen wasn’t predictable and even came out of the blue. I must give full credit to Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stuart who both in my opinion put in oscar worthy performances. Both of them were really emotionally attatched to their characters and you get a well invested performance across the board, even the minor characters felt like they were well thought of.

As much as its uncomfortable to see X men favorites in such a position it has given them a brand new angle and relevance. Emotion, brutal struggle and coming of age are the words I would use to define this film which was watchable all the way through.

Other news about books n stuff

Ok so I have been looking for more ways to get eyes upon Open Evening (my first book) and may have actually found a little inch of success and a few sales. Over the past few weeks I have been running a few giveaways.

  1. Amazon giveaway to people of the US – Over 500 people signed up and glanced upon Open Evening, that competition is now closed and books are on their way to the winners.
  2. Goodreads – Giveaway runs until the 21st of March 2017, currently 555 people requesting 1 of 3 signed copies. Link here 

Both giveaways have helped immensely in terms of follows, facebook likes, and tweet people following me. I have even sold some books over in the US. Thanks to all who have taken part, got themselves a copy and have joined me on this journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chappie : A story about a robot about humanity

In the future there will be robots…… You will probably get the rest as you have heard me many times ramble on about the first line of my book.  I was feeling a little anxious as I went into the cinema this past Friday to watch a new film called Chappie.

Anxious because my unpublished work deals with similar issues as seen in Chappie. Robots are centre stage and with me going into watch this film there was a hell of a lot at stake. My reason for this is because one day in the not too distant future I want to see my legacy of novels converted to the big screen. So anything robot related is representing the genre that my life’s work is under. But enough about my internal ramblings.

chap
From the very beginning Neil Blomkamp ( director of district 9) throws us into a world not that far away from ours. Johannesburg, South Africa. A place where crime is a big problem. So the police have started to draft in newly developed robots to deal with the gangs and violent goings on. Minutes in and we are treated to spectacular action.

Many of these police robots are involved and you know sometimes there’s that moment : ‘oh that’s a bit fake’. I’m not sure how they did it, whatever sorcery was involved worked. Because I was led to believe every robot I saw, engaging in combat was actually there.

The story continues to unfold and we are introduced to some well-known faces such as Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Dev Patel. But they were matched by some rather unknowns who to me stole the show. Our title character begins life as a police robot and takes on heavy damage early in the first action sequence. This runs in parallel with some swanky new software being developed by Patel pulling an all nighter on red bull.

This software allows a robot to simply be human in terms of emotion and feelings. He can learn and is influenced by the people around him and from what he is told. The ultimate theme and concept that is familiar in all robot stories. But this time they got it so damn right.

Chappie is born and the real story begins. I found myself thoroughly enjoying this film. There were nods to Robocop and many of the 80’s sci fi classics in terms of certain themes and sequences. As much as it felt like one of those classics this also felt like a modern day better version of these productions.

I wouldn’t be able to compare this film or story to anything ever done on screen. It’s a fantastic original piece and represents the robot genre immaculately. There were moments when I laughed out loud and times when I was truly moved. Mostly by this robot who was just trying to find his way in the world. The story to me was beautiful, I have only been quoted once to say that about Titanic. Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet falling in somewhat doomed love whilst one of the worst disasters in history unfolds around them. This is all heightened by that tragedy. It’s perfect and although chappie isn’t as much a Romeo and Juliet story it still gives the same effect.

Although the action was quite violent in places, it was suitable for what Neil Blomkamp was trying to tell us. This film wasn’t about robots in the end, it was about humanity and its ability to make you laugh and make you cry with every other emotion in between. But it takes for something not human to try and be human for us to see that. (yes read that last sentence twice and slowly)

I came away thinking what an exceptional film and story. One film that I do recommend you seeing because it may not make you laugh or move you but it will certainly get you in one way or another.

chap2

The film had some great thought provoking moments much this one