T2: Trainspotting


Viewed – 28 January 2017  Cinema

A sequel I was both looking forward to and slightly dreading.  The set-twenty-years-later follow up to one of the defining, cult British movies of the nineties that seemed to not really require a sequel, but here we are presented with one anyway.  I’ll admit to being intrigued by where the characters might be now, what their lives have involved over the years etc. and where things might go next for them, especially considering how the last movie ended – with Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), having been involved in a drug deal, making off with £16,000 cash from under the nose of his so-called friends.

Trainspotting 2

It’s this betrayal that the movie for the most part hangs onto, and well, Renton’s homecoming to Edinburg is not exactly met with open arms.  Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) & Spud (Ewan Bremner) find themselves not really having amounted to much, and blame much of that on Renton, be it his fault or not.  Also there’s the matter of the homicidal madman Francis Begbie (Robert Carlisle) to contend with, who quickly escapes from Prison and doesn’t take long to learn of Renton’s return.  Let it be said, this is a very different beast to the 1996 original.  That hedonistic and sleazy portrait of drug culture was filled with clever surrealism, bags of energy and iconic music in a way that made it the cool movie of the time.  This isn’t really attempting any of that despite a strong reliance on nostalgia for much of it’s flavour.  This is as much a snapshot of modern-day society as it is a celebration of another time.  Every character seems to be stuck in a rut, hopelessly looking back and reminiscing and er…holding grudges.  Carlisle steals the show for the most part, revelling in the Begbie persona that stood out so much in the first movie but hasn’t changed or developed one iota.  Sad he even get’s a chance to be more than a one note psycho towards the end, but the movie chooses not to go there.  With nobody having really changed, from Sick Boy’s blackmailing schemes and Spud (surprisingly the only character who goes on a ‘journey’) still being on drugs … I gradually began to wonder what the point of it all was.

There’s several exciting and funny moments with plenty of personality, a new, culturally relevant ‘choose life’ speech, and memorable music cues from The Prodigy, Wolf Alice and more … but with an overwhelming theme of middle aged men hating their lives and being trapped in the past, this ended up rather depressing.  Fans of the original should definitely check this out, and it was still fun to spend time with such colourful characters again.  Danny Boyle’s direction was also consistently eye-catching (if a tad trying too hard) … but despite such efforts, ultimately this fails to justify it’s existence.

Verdict:  3 /5

New toys, new music, new year!


Apple-iPad-Air-2Well it’s a new year and I managed after dipping into some savings to get myself a new toy.  Therefore I recently purchased the iPad Air 2 which following buying directly from Apple I got engraved with my name and my website address.  So far I’m finding it invaluable to further explore my growing interest in music, and having subscribed to Apple Music in recent weeks it’s given me a way of discovering new music and having more variety in what I choose to listen to … something I hadn’t really being doing for a long time.  It’s also enabling me to get more into some TV shows I previously missed out on and am currently enjoying Super Girl and also hoping to start watching Blacklist.

Garbage Autobiography Ltd EditionIn related news I was happy to see that last night Garbage’s lead singer Shirley Manson received the ‘powerhouse’ award at the She Rocks Awards ceremony in Los Angels that is held annually to promote women in the music industry, both on stage and behind the scenes.  In addition to this news I also saw a separate interview with Garbage drummer / producer Butch Vig where amongst other topics he revealed that the band is to release a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Where do the children play” as part of forth-coming charity album Music to Inspire – Artists UNited Against Human Trafficking.  It’s to be released on January 31.  In other Garbage news the band also recently revealed a limited edition of their forth-coming autobiography ‘This Is The Noise That Keeps Me Awake’ which for the first 1000 copies sold will be signed by the band and come with an exclusive vinyl consisting of 6 unreleased live recordings as well as a presentation box.  I some how managed to nab one of the first 1000 so am ridiculously looking forward to July when it will finally be in my hands!

Having been unwell last week and the week before I haven’t really been in the right mood to play games or watch movies, and have mostly spent my spare time chilling.  However now better I’ve been getting back into the sublime The Last Guardian which from the maker’s of cult PlayStation games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, is a breath of fresh air in an industry full of shooters and well, violent games like Grand Theft Auto and Mafia 3.  I love the exploration, puzzle solving and the look of the fantasy world the game inhabits, and well the icing on the cake is the unique concept of a little boy and his enormous dog / bird-like creature – the two having to work together and rely on each other to get through the world in one piece.  Seven years in the making, many rumours of it’s cancellation and the end result is everything I could have hoped for.  I’m also towards the end of Gears of War 4 to go back to a gun-obsessed kill-fest but hey, this series has really struck a cord with me and the fourth entry is just as action packed and gorgeous as the other games and I’m enjoying it a great deal.  However I’ve never been able to gel with the multi-player, which granted has become a big part of the franchise but I’m sorry…I just don’t find it ‘fun’. 

The Last Guardian

There’s also several movies I’d like to see but haven’t got around to as of yet.  The Golden Globe winning La La Land and also Passengers, Hackshaw Ridge and especially the imminent Trainspotting 2 are all on my radar.  Hopefully you’ll get to see reviews of all of these at some stage, so keep your eyes pealed.

That’s all from me for now.  Until nest time.

Craig.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Viewed – 29 December 2016  Cinema

George Lucas’ shock sale of his beloved Star Wars to Disney seemed like a concern at one stage.  Yet considering the work he’d done delivering three prequels that seemed to focus more on CGI than gripping narratives with fully fleshed out characters … perhaps it was time for another company to try their hand?  The result?  Well we got The Force Awakens and the rest as they say, is history.  Or is it?  The proposed continuation of the saga was also going to have a series of spin-off movies focusing on plots away from but connected to the main saga.  So despite that last movie’s un-argued success in bringing back a once treasured franchise … it could still all go tits up.

Rogue One

Jyn is the daughter of a scientist who at the beginning of this movie gets taken away to work on the Empire’s latest weapon.  Yes Daddy is helping build the death star.  Cue fifteen years after and Jyn is all grown up and seeking out the rebellion and the man who rescued her after her father was taken.  However along the way she befriends a reluctant assassin (Diego Luna) and his sarcastic droid and also a defected imperial pilot (Riz Ahmed).  Turns out there’s a mission to steel the plans to the death star in hope of finding a weak point, and so sets forth a sort of inter-galactic dirty dozen and boy, was I along for the ride.

droidA different beast to The Force Awakens but every bit as polished and entertaining, this boasts several stunning battle sequences that possibly eclipse that movie and strong performances, especially from newcomer Felicity Jones and her band of brothers, including a blind monk played by martial arts supremo Donnie Yen.  The movie plays itself rather serious for the most part but still finds time for gentle in-jokes and plenty of ‘was that…?’ and ‘hey that’s…!’ visual nods to Star Wars of yester-year.  Effects work is some of the best I’ve seen this year, even down to a shockingly real (sorry…spoilers) recreation of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin from the very first movie (apart from those eyes…).  Add to this perfect set design, costumes and some gorgeous cinematography and well, this had my jaw hitting my lap on a regular basis.  That much loved mysticism of Star Wars, especially the force, Jedi’s etc. seemed pushed aside however in favor of a more gritty ‘mission’ structure.  It also has to be said, some of the support characters were under-developed.

This could have been just a simple cash-in.  Yet director Gareth Edwards has made an inspired ‘alternative take’ on a familiar franchise and delivers a loving celebration at the same time.  So if you hadn’t figured it out already – I loved this.

Verdict:  5 /5

2016 a look back


Regular visitors to this blog will already know what my major highlight of 2016 was … hey, I still can’t stop talking about it.  Yes it was going to watch my favourite band Garbage perform at the Troxy theatre in London and to actually meet them.  Wow, I still pinch myself that it actually happened but it did and I feel so proud of myself for achieving a true dream of mine.  Their latest studio album ‘Strange Little Birds’ also impressed.

garbage troxy

Other than that event, I think 2016 has been a decent year for quality movies, something that will be reflected in my end of year Top Ten coming on New Years Eve (make sure you check back here then!).  But it hasn’t all been great.  There’s also been a number of disappointments and rubbish I’ve had to sit through just to bring my opinion to you, my readers.  Particular disappointments include the rather poor Legend, a new movie about the British gangsters Ronnie & Reggie Kray, and despite the casting of Tom Hardy in both roles, this was a borderline insulting Hollywood-isation of a violent and gritty true story that was done so much better when the Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet did it in the early nineties.  I really didn’t get much out of The Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar! either, which should have been a fun, fascinating snapshot of old Hollywood, but had a limp script and a confusing plot that just felt like a slog despite good production values.  Also along the way I felt underwhelmed by Deadpool … probably the most hyped and acclaimed comic book movie of the year that left me a little ‘meh’ despite finding it funny, it just seemed a bit of a one note show.  The summer also brought with it some further disappointments … let’s all agree that Batman V Superman could have been better, and well, wasn’t Suicide Squad a let down, promising so much and delivered so little?  I wasn’t that impressed with Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! either – a deflating spiritual follow up to his classic Dazed & Confused.

deadpool

It was also the year that I tried to branch out, listen to more music (not just the aforementioned band) and discovered new artists like Kristin Kontrol, PVRIS and Against The Current … yeah, thankyou Apple Music.  So broadening my horizons has been fun, even if in the music industry it has been sad to see the passing of legends such as David Bowie and Prince this year.  With that said, the music industry continues to irritate me however and I find myself left cold by much of today’s most popular music (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and to an extent Gwen Stefani all delivered rather ‘average’ albums despite plenty of publicity and hype).  Yet I find solace in those artists existing outside of the heavily publicised, record label controlled mainstream and well, there’s some really good stuff to find if you’re willing to look beyond what you’re told to listen to.

game of thrones

On the TV route highlights of the year for me have definitely been the last season of Game of Thrones, arguably the best yet and some of the best TV I’ve witnessed all year.  I also got a lot of enjoyment out of House of Cards (I’m still behind…currently on season 3).  Daredevil was also good, despite a slow start.  However the big surprise this year has been just how good West World turned out to be, of which I’m due to watch the final episode any day now.    Orange Is The New Black was underwhelming this year though and despite some shocks towards the end, really needs to step up it’s writing and characterisation for the next season or I can see myself switching off.

titanfall 2

Oh and hasn’t it been a packed year for videogames?  I enjoyed and completed the following:  Uncharted 4, Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Titan Fall 2 … but have played many other titles, some of which have been too huge to finish (yet) or have caused me to lose interest.  One such game like that has been The Division, which managed to lose it’s appeal after a while and I haven’t gone back to it in ages … something I can’t say for the similar Destiny which with it’s expansions and still-intriguing concept keeps on pulling me back even two years since release.  The news of updated versions of current systems wasn’t so good however, having spent a great deal of money on owning the PS4 and Xbox One only to have the advent of PS4 Pro and Xbox One Scorpio to eventually replace them.  But for now I’m still happy with what I’ve got and will continue to be until games stop getting released for these machines.

I wanted with this post to touch on the various things that have interested me and stood out for good or bad this year and with that I’ll sign off for now.  There’s some more reviews on the horizon and of course my end of year Top Ten.  So watch this space for much more soon.

Craig.

Update


So what has been going on with me lately?  Movie viewing is a little slow of late…you’ll have noticed only the occasional review.  Well, we’re in the middle of gaming season in the run up to Christmas, and I’ve managed to get hold of a few titles.  These are Watchdogs 2, Gears of War 4 and I’m still ploughing through Mafia 3 … and then there’s also Recore – a game I’m not sure at this stage if I’ll go back to.  That’s not to mention the various games I’ve still yet to play or get hold of, namely Battlefield 1 and Dishonoured 2.  It’s a lot to have on one’s plate and well, games aren’t that short these days…with many being huge open world fairs that last me months.

Watchdogs 2

In other more personal news, I’m pretty busy in work and well, the day to day grind can get stressful occasionally, but I’m getting by in my own way.  With my birthday recently it’s given me a mental kick up the arse to be more positive, not dwell on the past and try and be in a better mood more often and for longer periods.  I think I do struggle with depression, and can really let it take a grip of me sometimes … but I can’t let it and have to fight against it the best I can.

GarbageIn recent weeks I’ve realised too that I’m a bit addicted to my favourite band, Garbage and I understand more than anyone this can get a tiresome and over-familiar subject to family and friends.  However I actually do enjoy everything about them … listening to their music, following their escapades on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and just enjoying the whole journey with them.  It’s a hobby for me and more than just an interest in their music, and has become a big part of my life.  I suppose meeting them back in June was the ultimate and has only gone towards making me feel closer to them as a fan.  I suppose I shouldn’t really care what others think, should I?

top-10-movies

Also, my annual Top Ten Movies of the year is of course on the horizon and I’ve tried my best to watch so many movies, especially some of the real big-hitters of the year.  As always, it’s going to be fun compiling a Top Ten and I think It’ll be interesting to see what I make my number 1.  I also look forward to reading other blogger’s top tens when the time comes.

Well that’s all from me for now.

Craig.