Category Archives: Film & TV

Review Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige, St Davids Hall by James Briggs

 

5 Stars5 / 5

 

Returning after their sell-out Spring 2015 tour the Grumpy Old Women are back to share their Grumpy tales and tips with the nation. Award-winning comedian and original star of Grumpy Old Women Jenny Éclair is accompanied by fellow recruits Susie Blake (star of Mrs Brown’s Boys) and Kate Robbins (Singer and star of Casualty). Before I go on with the review, however, I must mention I cannot go into too much detail as to the tales told with my review because as Jenny Éclair said “What goes on in Grumpy club stays in Grumpy club”.

The Grumpy Old Women

Landing at St David’s Hall in their shed from outer space the grumpy old women, spacewalk onto the stage complete with space helmets and uniforms to a momentous applause from the audience, unsurprisingly the audience was mainly made up of women, with just a few men dotted about the auditorium. Given that I was possibly one of the youngest in the audience and being male I still felt as though I was able to relate to the topics they discussed – mind you having a Mum the same age as the Grumpy Old Women did help!

The Grumpy Old Women talked about a wide range of subjects that any person was able to relate to including a guide to nagging, how to get a roof rack put on a car without your husband moaning, dancing at weddings and pole dancing. Props littered the garden set and were used to brilliant effect during the show and even included a gigantic pair of pants and a BBQ.

The show is very clever in that it can be talking about a topic and then the lighting will change and you are plunged into a mini sketch. The sketches highlight the brilliant acting skills of all the Grumpy Old Women. The amazingly funny script really worked well for the stars and left the audience in stitches and in my case tears streaming down my face. I really like the fact that all of the comedy was good clean fun with very little use of bad language. When the language was used however it was delivered with fantastic comic timing.

The second half of the show sees them return to the James Bond theme which sparked a debate into why there has not yet been a female Bond. With the current news of Daniel Craig’s decision not to carry on playing Bond there is no better time than now to consider the possibilities of a female actress playing Bond and the three Grumpy women are obviously showcasing their talents to play Jane Bond.

For me there were two stand out moments in the show that were utterly hilarious, the first of these was when team Grumpy took part in ‘Grumpy Come Dancing’ based on the hit BBC show which had the audience in hysterics especially with Susie Blake’s pole dancing performance. The second stand out moment for me was the posh version of The Jeremy Kyle show, the writing was amazing and Kate Robbins impersonation of Jeremy Kyle was brilliant and even mimicked the way he lies on the step and goes up close to the faces of the people on the show. The content of the Jeremy Kyle sketch is also fantastically funny due to it being based around a mother complaining ‘My son will not practice the cello’.

At the end of the evening the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Anyone who watches this show is guaranteed to have a fabulous night and will most definitely be leaving with an aching jaw from laughing so much. This really is a must see show that should not be missed and is most definitely the best night out I have had in a long while.

Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige is currently on a UK wide tour and all of the dates are available via this link- http://www.grumpyoldwomenlive.com/

Review Captain America Civil War by Jonathan Evans

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When an irresistible force such as you, meets an old immovable object like me, you can bet just as sure as you live. Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.
Frank Sinatra, Something’s Gotta Give

Captain America Civil War

5 Stars5 / 5

The reason Superheroes have been able to endure for so long is because they have always told the next story. Sure Superman will always wear a big red cape and fly, Batman will always don the cowl and punch muggers but there is still a long lasting continuity to these characters and in order to keep them going the villains need to find new ways of fighting them and the consequences of their action have to catch up to them. Civil War is a movie about two paths laying before superheroes, one must be taken, the problem is that the heroes are also people, ergo flawed. So they differ on which is the right path and truly believe they are right, so they will stand by their beliefs to the end.

Early on we get one of those sharply worded, briskly shot action scenes, we see a bad guy with a cool name and an equally cool outfit steal a biological weapon, he is stopped but at a cost of a hospital exploding. This is the event that gets the nations of the world to sit the superheros down and talk. All the events in recent years, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Winter Solider and now this have had far reaching devastation with a lot of collateral damage.

The “Sokovia Accords” will be a special jury lead by multiple people from the United Nations that will determine what situation requires the superheroes attention. Tony. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for it and understands that with such power as they wield there must be safeguards to keep them in check. But Steve, Captain America (Chris Evans) argues that such boards usually act with a vested interest, also what if they don’t get together and give them permission in time? He stands by the belief that “the best hands are still our own.” So it becomes a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, Tony wants to go forward with this new system but Steve is unconvinced and does not budge in his beliefs.

Before this review goes any further I feel it’s important for my own feelings be known. Captain America has always been my favourite character in the MARVEL movies and I was on his team before the movie came out and was still on his side during it. But there still remains a valid argument for either side. This could have been a simple case of one are the idiots the others are smart, these are obviously the good guys and this is who we’re meant to root for. But no, they go the more adult and interesting route where each member on each side is there for their own reasons. Neither is the villain, just a clash of ideologies that either is willing to fight for. There is a villain that lurks in the shadows who sets-up all the pieces to fight, but I do question if we really needed it.

The writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely know how to write with clarity and engaging characters. This is a movie that’s over two hours long so there’s enough time for everything, but they operate on a method where every scene is necessary and we know everything, or at least enough going into each action scene. In the dialogue scenes there are no wasted words or moments so you understand the characters very quickly, then we are able to get invested in the action. It is on-par with Mad Max: Fury Road.

The cast of characters in this movie is immense. It has most of the per-established characters from the previous movies and introduces new players that will most likely get their own movie and other moments in later films. But it works on the level of the actual comics now. We see Ant-Man, understand him and then will probably want to go back and checkout his movie. Also in the short time they have with everything else going on we get characters like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) and are able to engage with them through very efficient directing and screenwriting.

As said we need to know the people fighting so we are invested, but good action is still essential. For a good action scene we need to know the layout of the environment and understand who did what when, if we loose track of the basics of what is happening on-screen then it simply becomes lights and noise. However if we keep seeing the same set-up it will become stagnant regardless, the Russo brothers know this so they don’t make the action tedious, they add unique twists or perspectives on their action set-pieces so that its something more engaging. For example a stairway fight, two combatants have enhanced body power so they can do more extreme movements, also one is willing to kill while the other isn’t.

And still, even with all these stakes and dark moments in the movie, we are still treated to comedy and moments of levity. Even here they understand that superheroes are meant to be characters where we can feel good and have fun. There are more than a few examples of movies that cram too much stuff in it just leaves the audience confused and frustrated. Batman v Superman and Jupiter Ascending come to mind. But Civil War is able to so efficiently explain and deliver the characters for the conflict, without necessarily needing to see the previous movies (though you will want to after seeing it) and keep you engaged at all time and with everyone.

Civil War takes out the villain aspect of these movies and puts hero against hero, not in a battle of good verses evil, but a fight for how to serve the greater good. And the drama of these two characters coming to blows isn’t from that mere fact it is happening, but that it was always meant to happen.

Review The Jungle Book (2016) by Jonathan Evans

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The Jungle Book was always a story structured around set-piece moments. We have a little boy as out fish-out-of-water protagonist that comes across creatures that he doesn’t know about and must overcome. What matters is that the world is defined and that characters that inhabit itare memorable as well as likeable and we must have a few moments of awe within the run-time.

This is still the classic set-up a small child being found in the jungle and, for whatever reason, a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) finds him and instead of eating him, takes him to a pack of wolves, that also decide to not eat him and raise him as one of their own.

Mowgli in terms of his design with his messy black hair and red pants is right out of the original Disney movie. The little boy playing him is Neel Sethi, who unfortunately just isn’t that good. He somehow is able to speak clear English with an American accent but also speaks it with that hammy way that you’d expect from a minor. How bad is it? Possibly in the range of Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace, however we should all keep-in-mind that acting requires concentration and intelligence at a level that we wouldn’t expect from youth. But he can traverse the jungle sets well and interact with the C.G.I. character convincingly.

Eventually there comes a very harsh drought, and a truce is declared among the animals and they gather at a watering hole. Both predator and prey drink, knowing that none can hurt the other. But one sits uneasy, the dreaded tiger Shere Kahn. He has his intense distaste for man and cannot abide having a man in the jungle, he abides by the law but vows that when the water returns, he shall take Mowgli’s life.

Shere Kahn as a villain is probably the most effective element of the movie. He is convincingly rendered through the computer technology and is of course a tiger, which are naturally threatening. He actually has to do very little, most of his impact comes from what is implied, he has a few moments to establish he’s a physical threat and the rest is him being close and knowing that he can rip you apart at any second. And it’s all brought to life with Idris Elba’s vocals, both calming and manipulative and then moving to raging wrath.

So with a tiger that will no doubt carry out his threat Mowgli must leave and be taken the mans village. And of course the journey does not go smoothly, there are obstacles and distractions. The most prominent is the big lazy bear Baloo, played rather well by Bill Murray. Murray injects his classic dry sarcastic, layedback wit in this sloth bear and it is a match.

When we get to King Louie the movie honestly just stops. He is played by Christopher Walken who has such a distinguished voice that it is impossible to think of anything or anyone else. He has long fur that drapes down from his body like a fur coat and sits in his crumbled castle in the jungle surrounded by fruit, treasure and dark shadows giving him a feel of Colonel Kurt from Apocalypse Now. You really do stop thinking about this boy and the tiger that after him and ts all about this giant orange ape being voiced by one of the most unique actors ever to grace the screen.

There are moments in the writing where it just seemed weird and unnecessary. Most of it works as an adaptation, or at least to give us the same moments but in different ways. But others where it seeks to flesh-out the backstory of these character and the choices seem so odd. There were moments of exposition where they forgo and it seemed like a good idea, but they explain them later for some reason, as well as plot-hole I noticed immediately regarding how Baloo and Mowgli meet.

This is a much more dark, threatening interpretation of this story than we have seen before (I do also admit to having not read the book). These animals may talk but they most certainly do still have their teeth and claws. There is even a transition scene with the giant snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) which I genuinely think is inspired!

This is not a movie for the younger children that would have enjoyed the original 2D animated movie. This is a much harsher world with more obvious consequences. Is is too tough for any children? I would say that for children twelve or above. The story is still the story but told in a different way and with some very strong elements and others that don’t necessarily let the rest down but do noticeably weaken it. But either way, we still have a movie that has a classic story at it’s center with classic cinematography, good C.G.I. and strong performances from nearly everyone.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Review Yr Ymadawiad/The Passsing by Leslie Herman Jones

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Welsh filmmakers have an advantage over others: world-class landscapes on tap.

Shooting in Wales, filmmakers don’t have to go very far or search very hard to find breathtaking locations that will serve them, are deserving of top billing, and require very little in the way of lighting or design or any other customisation for that matter. Wales’ landscapes can be taken ‘off-the-peg’ and are ‘ready to wear’.

Landscapes in Wales speak volumes, with eloquence, intensity, romanticism, or whatever else filmmakers wish them to evoke; they would speak Welsh if they could. And they give Welsh films signature visuals to be proud of and grateful for, but a film cannot succeed by landscape alone.

The location in Yr Ymadawiad (The Passing, Welsh language with English subtitles, Severn Screen production in association with Boom Pictures) a huge old farmhouse on an expansive plot of remote woodlands in late Autumn/early Winter, is awesome and is captured magnificently (Director, Gareth Bryn; DOP, Richard Stockland; Production Designers, Tim Dickel/Siani Palfrey). With exteriors on tap (apart from the well, perhaps?) the designers were able to focus all their attention on the interiors, which I’m sure required a fair bit of research and deft prop acquisition to make it look and feel like it, too, was found as is. (Unless it was?)

The man we watch with great interest at work in the landscape, his intensity and brutish physique quite profound, adds further grim authenticity. Mark Lewis Jones’s performance as Stanley is consistently strong throughout. The attention to detail in vision and in sound (Composer, Jeremy Holland-Smith credits/Cranc, Post-production sound) are apparent in a way the genre permits; the sound scape works like a treasure map – dropping clues like mad — and the audience excitedly keeps track as they stack up. The amount of time spent on these establishing shots, our prolonged watching of Stanley work and live in exquisite silence, is characteristic of Welsh filmmaking, and the opening scenes are captivating. The absence of the spoken word serves his character well: a simple, lonely and emotionally oppressed man, a man with a secret.

I don’t think the minimalist dialogue serves the other actors or the story in the same way. Use of the fewest possible spoken words seems an intentional stylistic decision (Story, Ed Talfan and Peter Watkins-Hughes), but the combination of this, and other style points — the production’s reliance on landscape; and perhaps, a foreknowledge of Welsh history, and an understanding of its allegorical cultural references to tell the story, hinder the success of the film. Even those in the know want more from a film: they want to hear more, be told more, have to assume less.

Until the other characters, Sara and Dyfan, appear, the film works. Their appearance raises questions. Some are the suspense of the story, others are due to the flaws that impede its flow. Their performances (Annes Elwy as Sara; Dyfan Dwyfor as Iwan) are admirable, but the script does not enable them to fully exhibit their relationship or tell the story. Though beautiful to the eye, as the camera follows with languorous shots, Sara’s passive gazing or her curious meandering though the bare, thick-walled exquisitely-lit rooms, the premise remains unclear for too long, mere snippets of dialogue creating a tension that was less edge of the seat and more an urge for a gear shift. Equally, Iwan’s erratic behaviour raises questions, but the script’s reduced dialogue offers no opportunity for answers, increasingly reducing the impact of the action, and ultimately the pay off.

I was ready to make a lot of space and time for the film as it began to unfold, but I gradually began to feel as though I didn’t want to keep investing in this story because it wasn’t giving. It took too long to get to the point. In all its glory, it languished. The Passing could have been a short.

The Passing is not entirely dissimilar to the collective pool of Welsh films that also treat landscapes, pace, dialogue and storylines this way. Huge credit to film industry professionals whose networks have grown and grown up, taking the Welsh product to a substantially broader marketplace and to the savvy of the producers (Ed Talfan/Kate Crowther) who will have ensured The Passing will be seen on multiple international platforms. I am confident that new audiences will devour it and praise it for the same reasons indigenous audiences are calling for more from Wales’ filmmakers.

Review Zootropolis by Jonathan Evans

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A movie needs many things to work. Mainly it needs story, characters and theme, it then needs to take the said elements and put them in an environment so they can cook together. Zootropolis is a movie that has all of these elements and may have a lot of cooks in the kitchen, but they all need to be there because they add to one element or another.

The world our story plays out in is one where animals existed as we know them but simply evolved to become sophisticated. There just simply didn’t seem to be any humans. They can now speak, wear clothes and have all the technology we have now. We are simultaneously introduced to Judy Hopes (Ginnifer Goodwin) a rabbit whose a bouncy fluff-ball of enthusiasm and smarts that grew-up on a farm but has big dreams of moving to the big city of Zootropolis where she will be a cop, make the world better etc. She enrolls in the academy where it seems like the cop life is not suited for a small rabbit, but she is indentured and does graduate. Now the big city awaits her.

The city of Zootropoilis is an architectural marvel. It is one of those locations that allows for many possibilities , serves as a great back drop for the characters and will inhabit your memories for years to come. It is on league with cities from Rintaro’s Metropolis, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or Gotham City in Batman. We see all of the city, from the highs to the slums. Another neat part is that some of the skyscrapers are shaped like horns. Usually movies with anthropomorphic animals are all the same size, giving a little to let other animals be appropriately bigger or smaller. But here they remain the same size and it is the city that has adapted to accommodate all the different shapes and sizes. Pools for the hippos as well as dryers for them, little suction tubes to speedily transport the hamsters, different neighbourhoods with different weather simulators to create to right climate for the inhabitants natural environment.

And within the city area all the huge beasts and little critters that inhabit it. Every different species is given its own walk and body pose because naturally they have their own proportions. The wide range of furs, lighting, textures, clothing, environments that area all within this one film is so impressive. This is something that has ideas, skill and effort to bring it to life.

Along with it being great to look at there are even undertones. In this society that has descendants from a more beastly past (pun intended) there are remnants of that, some species typically don’t get along together because of their nature and others come with expectations based on their, literal, race. Yes, in this children’s Disney animated movie with anthropomorphic animals.

When Judy arrives there is a case of multiple predators going missing, her superior Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) assigns everyone a lead while she gets parking duty. While working she notices a fox in an elephant Ice-Cream store trying to buy a large lollipop for his son, the clerk refuses service but after some smart intervention from Judy he gets his pop. But it turns out this fox is a hustler named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) that uses the really big pop to turn into smaller ones and sell off to make a profit. Eventually events unfold and him and Judy are forced together as an unlikely partnership.

Any movie partnership needs them to be opposites. If they were the same then there would be no dynamic rendering it pointless. But also this brings out great character moments, Judy’s smarts but also naive optimism contrasts brilliantly with Nicks cynicism and dry wit. But none of them is ever truly the fool and they each bring something special to the situation that makes the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts.

There are constant jokes, as you’d expect from an animated children’s movie from Disney, but there is a much more heavy adult edge to their approach here. Nothing that is too edgy or inappropriate for children but will have the adults in the audience laughing just as hard as the children. One scene in particular that takes place at the DMV had the cinema I was in laughing very hard.

This movie is at the standard of The LEGO Movie. Because it being good would probably be no surprise. But it being this well thought-out with jokes that only make you laugh, but laugh hard and a deftly crafted script that throws in funny but seemingly pointless jokes that come back and play a part in the greater work.

Zootropolis works. It is many things and they all work together. It is a comedy with cute animals in it, you will be laughing throughout the movie. It’s also a social commentary, you’ll be moved by it’s poignancy. There’s also a mystery to solve, all the moments serve and lead and interweave together to a conclusion that is the right level of smart as well as clear enough to understand. The movie is simply a wonderful creation of feelings, smarts told with great characters within one of the great movie locations.

4 Stars4 / 5

Review The Huntsman: Winter’s War by Jonathan Evans

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If you know the previous movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a little of a prequel and a sequel to a movie that was also retelling a classic Grimm’s Fairy Tale. But when you simply look at it with non-subjective eyes it’s just another fantasy movie with all that entails.

We are told the story by an unnamed narrator (Liam Neeson) he tells of how there were two sisters. One was the evil queen we know (Charlize Theron) that would manipulate her way to power and the other her younger sister (Emily Blunt) that falls in love with one of the Kings and has a child with him. But when tragedy strikes the child her heart grows cold both figuratively and literally. This gives her the power of ice (because this is a magical world!), she then creates a kingdom up in frozen mountains where children are taken from their families and groomed to become her huntsmen. Of these children two of the best are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), over the years they fall in love and get married, but love is not tolerated in this Ice queens heart and she separates them.

Time passes and we now move forwards to the events after Snow White and the Huntsman. Eric is recruited by the king (Sam Claflin) to find and destroy the magic mirror that has slowly been driving Snow White mad. On his quest he eventually gains traveling companions, as one must when on any kind of quest! They exist to for exposition and have some witty repartee. There are four dwarfs. There is Nion (Nick Frost) returning from the last movie, Gryff (Rob Brydon) who’s really more interested in profit, Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) a Fe-male rough and tumble kind of dwarf and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) a well meaning although also air-headed individual that serves to balance out the groups personalities and dynamic.

Chris Hemsworth returns to play the role of Eric the Huntsman. He is a devil-may-care, swashbuckling hero, with a Scottish accent that should probably think-out his plans more but has a smile you just can’t resist. For a variety of reasons, Snow White is physically absent from the movie. She is mentioned at numerous times and seen briefly from the back in one scene. But the character and Kristen Stewart is absent from the film.

Though this film serves as a prequel/sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman it is still its own movie. We can gather from the storytelling exposition earlier on what the characters situations are and the kind of world this is.

While on their quest there is banter and conversations among the members, ranging from fun and sharply tongued to rather stupid. A shame because its a case of the weaker moments of poor writing letting the other moments down when we know there could be better material. But the actors are able to remain dynamic throughout and are clearly having fun with it.

Although greatly decreased from the last movie Winters War still comes with it’s own share of unique visuals to the fantasy genre. There are a few moments of unique visuals in the movie (you’ve never seen Goblins like these) and also a few clever moments. But to compare it with the original, it is much less bountiful to the eye.

This is director Cedric Nicolas- Troyan’s first film but he served on the second unit on the first Snow White movie and Maleficent so he knows how to make this movie feel like the others. It’s fine as a first full-length feature goes. Plenty of knowledgeable camerawork, able to get the hammy but controlled performances from his actors.

Parts of it are refined from the last movie, like the performances while other moments are lacking like the visuals. But this really is another fantasy movie with a few neat ideas and at times clever visuals and characterization along with a few performances that are at least memorable. It’s a good-looking movie that has fun with what it is.

Review Richard Herring St David’s Hall, Cardiff

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I must admit I knew very little about Richard Herring so didn’t know what to expect when attending his stand up show at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. Richard Herring is a 48 year old father and husband.

Herring begins his routine talking of the night his daughter was born and the hours afterwards seeing his wife in pain and giving birth. Herring does say that he doesn’t want to be one of the comedians that has just become a father and solely talks about that topic, however, this does form much of the material for the first half of the show. He does briefly talk about life pre marriage and the birth of his daughter which was funny and which was more relevant to my age group but on times was a little too explicit. However, the older members of the audience found it very funny especially on the topic of a possible affair with a life-like robot similar to that of Gemma Chan from ‘Humans’ at some point in the distant future.

In the second half of his show Herring moves away from family stories as he begins to think about the grammatical correctness of his mother in law’s door mat which welcomes people to their house with ‘Grand Children Spoilt Here’. His deconstructing of the lyrics of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed was very well received with the audience. One feeling you really get from the show is that Richard Herring is extremely proud of his family and this is very much part of his act.

He confesses multiple times that his life has been totally focused on his career and since having a wife and child his priorities have changed and questions how we as adults can reach pure happiness like that felt by a child and whether it is even achievable at all. He also talks about how at the time of the moment of pure happiness we are too busy thinking about what could go wrong rather than really thinking about how important this moment is. Herring tells a story of how a three year old child walking on a beach in a hot country eating a Cornetto is as good as it can get for them at that moment and yet within a matter of hours they will forget the experience and may never feel that happiness again. All very philosophical!

When considering Herring’s performance and routine one can easily describe him as delivering comedy that makes his audience laugh out loud as well as ponder life’s big questions. Herring also talks about how he may not be as famous such as his friend Steve Coogan but seems very happy with his lot. It does encourage you to reflect no matter who we are or how successful we become there is always going to be someone doing that bit better than you and it is also important to remember that there may well be others looking up at you.

This show is not going to leave you with an aching stomach from laughing but will leave you with a smile on your face and a greater sense of appreciation for the smaller things in life that you may well have taken for granted before.

Review Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice by Jonathan Evans

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Could this movie ever live up to its hype? Did it ever stand a chance against all the expectation that the fanboys have built up in their own minds and have fantasized about for years? No it did not. But it did stand a chance of still being good. Any movie has that chance.

At numerous times during this movie you will either be confused or have to hold yourself back from laughing at the imagery that I can only attest to Zack Snyder believing he has artistic ability (which he does not).

The big deal that everyone has been talking about in anticipation, and will no doubt be thinking about while watching and shall discuss after viewing is that this is the first live action, cinematic depiction of a movie with both Superman and Batman on-screen at the same time. Most of the movie is build up to this and when they do interact (if you can call it that) they are just seeing who can be more macho, so we have two immature insecure males placed together. Ben Affleck was a unique choice to say the least, he does bring a dark stoic nature and presence to the character. You see how the years of brutal crime fight have worn away sympathy and the raw anger that bubbles under the surface. This is also the first time we are shown the grey and black Batman suit. Something we’ve seen plenty of times in the comics and animated universe but a first for live action so it helps to distinguish itself.

It is a staple for superheroes not to kill. It’s expected because they are made for children. I expect optimism while watching or reading anything superhero related. They can still be mature and deal with tougher subject matter, but they should always maintain their wholesomeness. At least with the established, long lasting ones. In Man of Steel Superman broke his most sacred of vows and killed his enemy. Now in this movie Batman is directly responsible for killing many of his enemies. Flat-out murder, without any regret or having to deal with any conflict that makes him a mass murderer. Those wholesome, optimistic days really seem to be long gone.

All the characterization has faults; some are more competent than others. But the greatest failure goes to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Luthor is one of the most brilliant, controlling as well as enduring villains from superhero comics a character with a dark warped but also brilliant mind. This is a weirdo that only has people around him because he pays them and/or is important.

Ever since the MARVEL have been gaining all kinds of success with their line of movies DC has been trying desperately to replicate it. They want to have a series of movies that build-up to Avengers (i.e. Justice League). But they lack the patience and careful planning that made that work. MARVEL gave each member of the team their own movie to establish themselves and built to the story that would call for them to be united. This is a forced hodgepodge of references, characters and story elements that shouldn’t be in the same movie resulting in a deformed cluttered mess.

Included in the cast is the first big screen, live action representation of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). She has things to prove but I believe her as a competent warrior that knows how to navigate her way around a dance floor and a conversation with anyone. There is groundwork set-up and room for further development (within her own film)

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The action scenes lack all forms of investment, we haven’t grown to care about the characters that are bashing together like plastic toys so no outcome matters. There were clearly to moments Zack Snyder cared the most about, he obviously didn’t care about making them sympathetic or even believable. What we have is a juvenile boy that has been given hundreds of millions of dollars to enact his overblown playtime sessions that he would come up with while playing with his action figure on the carpet. With all the depth and nuance that comes with this i.e. none. They are loud, flashy and with no care for anything grounded or with emotion behind them. Just noise.

When the climactic scene comes and the two icons engage in battle you will have already abandoned any sense of caring. It isn’t even the last battle in the movie, when that finally rears its ugly head you might as well order take-out or message your friends. Hell, read what the person next or behind you is ordering for take-out, it will be more interesting than the barrage of lights and loud noises abusing your senses from the screen.

The hype was impossible to live up to. But there was always a chance for this movie to be competent and be well executed. The acting is fine, from some, the scale is grand. And from there on I fail to think of anything else redeeming about the movie. It is simply a juvenile, waste of time and resources. These characters are capable and should be used for much better entertainment.

Rating: 1/2 star out of 4

Review Film and Comic Con, Cardiff by James Briggs

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Every year the Cardiff International Arena changes from a concert venue to a top convention hall crammed with swarms of TV and Film fans attending the Film and Comic Con, Cardiff. Converging on the centre of Cardiff is an assorted crew of Sherlock’s with Deerstalkers, Marvel and DC superheroes, Disney princesses, Imperial Storm troopers following Darth Vader and assorted geeks decked out in shirts of their favourite shows. There was even an appearance from the Mystery Incorporated gang and their Mystery Machine featuring Scooby Doo.

Cc3S4fcWAAIsPL1.jpg-largeWhen visiting Comic Con you come to realise that Cosplaying has become a central part in the overall experience. The near-compulsory cosplay code can mostly mean that if you choose not to dress up you can stand out more than someone wearing the costumes. Many celebrities often use this to their advantage by dressing up in a costume of their choice and walking the floors of the Comic Con without being noticed.

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Angela Landsbury portrays Jessica Fletcher in MURDER SHE WROTE: SOUTH BY SOUTWEST.

From panels on Doctor Who and Cosplay showcases, to Thunderbird action figures, the comic con welcomes with open arms that which the rest of the world might think a little bizarre. The hall is crammed packed with stall after stall of different shops selling all sorts of collectables. A personal favourite of mine was the autograph section that sold the autographs of every actor or actress you could think of. Everywhere you looked on the autograph stalls there were famous names with Daniel Craig, Ian Mckellen and Benedict Cumberbatch to name but a few. I decided to opt for Angela Lansbury and Jim Dale. Two very big idols of mine.

IMG_0320It never ceases to amaze me with the lengths some people go to create amazingly accurate costumes from famous films, games and television shows. I knew that it was important to participate in this also so my brother and I decided to go as different incarnations of Doctor Who from the hit BBC series. I was dressed as Peter Capaldi with the striking red lined coat and done up shirt button and my brother dressed as his favourite Doctor David Tennant with a Fez added for good measure. One of the star guests at the Comic Con was Jemma Redgrave or as Doctor Who fans may know her Kate Lethbridge Stewart. As her fans gathered to have their photo taken there was an obvious sense of community about the event with many people talking to each other and having photos of their own taken. I even met a fellow incarnation dressed as Matt Smith’s Doctor.

James and Jemma Redgrave

With something for every fan of Film, TV, Gaming and Comic’s there is no reason why you would not want to go and in the words of Shrek “Let your freak flag fly” with pride! Although a word of warning you will most definitely be left with a feeling of wanting to have more money to buy all of the things you see.

The next Comic Con Cardiff will be held on the 29th – 30th of October 2016. Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment. They are available at: http://filmandcomicconcardiff.com/

Review The Husbands of River Song, Dr Who by James Briggs

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 01/12/2015 - Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: 25/12/2015 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01hrs 1st DEC 2015*** Doctor Who (PETER CAPALDI), River Song (ALEX KINGSTON), Hydroflax - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston/Simon Ridgeway
Doctor Who (PETER CAPALDI), River Song (ALEX KINGSTON)  Photographer: Ray Burmiston/Simon Ridgeway

The much-anticipated Christmas special of Series nine Doctor Who has finally arrived! And so has the much-loved companion Professor River Song. It was brilliant to once again see Alex Kingston’s name included in the titles once again projecting her name as a leading lady.  When we first found out that Alex Kingston would be returning as River Song the reaction of the fans was split. Many fans believed that Rivers character was not able to return any longer and her ‘song’ had ended. Even the Doctors themselves were split in the decision for her to return. “I’m really possessive over Alex [Kingston],” said former Doctor Matt Smith. “Anyone else, but don’t give [Capaldi] River… I am really proud of the fact that Alex was part of number Eleven’s life. My wife!” David Tennant was also a supporter of this view.

Her return however was a wonderful Christmas present from Moffat to see the old River return.  One plot downside in the episode however was the whole character of the Doctor. At the end of series nine we saw Capaldi’s Doctor was a lost man who was besotted with the idea of a character called “Clara” and he was on a mission to find her. It was after this story that we found it hard to believe that the Doctor was a dancing between comedy and romancing with River Song. Given that she is far closer in age to Capaldi than she ever was to Matt Smith, this pairing of River and the Doctor is the most realistic relationship age that we’ve seen. Meanwhile with her memory loss in the episode it’s great fun to see the Doctor turn her catchphrases back at her.

Another character that has to be noted is that of King Hydroflax who I think has one of the best alien names in a long while. King Hydroflax is played Greg Davies (of Inbetweener’s fame) who spent the episode playing a disembodied head on a robotic body. Even so he probably contributed to one of the funniest scenes in the episode when his head was inside the hold-all bag.

Another of the funniest scenes in the episode was when the Doctor finally got to play the companion therefore getting his Tardis ‘it’s bigger-on-the-inside moment’  this was surely a moment where the audience thought who was having the more fun: Moffat in writing it or Capaldi in playing it!

Doctor at Christmas

Photographer: Ray Burmiston/Simon Ridgeway

The ending of the episode did however leave the Tardis doors open for a possible return of River as one night last much longer than on earth. With the series due to start filming shortly in Cardiff we will wait with anticipation on whether River will continue to fly with the Doctor through all of time and space. Doctor Who will return in the summer next year with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and his latest sidekick with him.