Sicario


Viewed – 02 February 2016 Online-rental

I had heard some good buzz surrounding this gritty thriller set in the drug underworld of the Mexican Cartels, so was quite hyped up to sit down to it finally.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Looper) plays an F.B.I. agent who attracts the attention of a team of government agents when she stumbles upon a crime scene associated with the Mexican drug barons.  Given the opportunity to join a top secret mission into Mexico, she at first thinks this is a chance to further her career, until eventually she starts to realize maybe what she’s involved in may not be strictly by the book.

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Skilfully shot and with a very authentic feel, this thriller was packed full of tension and drew me in easily with echoes of Stephen Soderberg hit ‘Traffic’ as well as aspects of cult TV series Breaking Bad.  However with an emphasis on secret operations and misleading information, especially from the point of view of Blunt’s character I’ll admit I found this confusing for a good portion of the run time.  The subject is nothing particularly new and doesn’t really go anywhere all that surprising, but with added support of a cool and mysterious Benicio Del Toro and the always enjoyable Josh Brolin … this at least had some solid performances to help me through a convoluted narrative.  Blunt is especially good in an emotional role that cements her reputation as one of the more interesting British actresses around.  I’d have really likbenicioed more action to offset the tension as it’s a movie where I was expecting something to kick off any second.  Tense moments such as a claustrophobic tunnel scene and a drawn out freeway journey certainly added to such expectations.  Yet much is left until the closing moments, which by then I was feeling more frustrated than entertained.

The movie however pulls no punches as far as showing the shocking lengths these drug dealers will go to, but with several confusing characters (not helped by similar Mexican names) and a pace that rushed through important plot details … this, although intriguing could have been so much better.

Verdict: 3 /5

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An update and stuff


So what have I been up to lately?  Well I managed to complete Assassin’s Creed Unity on the PS4, the first AC game I have ever kept interested in until the end.  Why?  I think setting was key.  Of the previous games in the series I have played, most have been set either in medieval (AC 1 & 2) or around the time of the crusades (AC 3) and well, the pirating of AC4 never appealed so I didn’t play that one.  However this one was set in Paris, during the revolution, the time of Napoleon etc. and it was a brilliantly atmospheric setting I personally have plenty of interest in. 

Secondly I have been playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Now eagle-eyed readers of this blog may recall me posting about it a while back when I got it on the Xbox 360.  Well, for one reason or another I didn’t play it all that much of it, and since jumping to the next-generation with the PS4 and Xbox One, I thought it was high time I took a second look following it’s revamped re-release on these consoles.  I picked it up on PS4, and must say for what is technically a last-gen title, the detail (with improved textures, lighting, effects as well as an enhanced array of music on the various radio stations) it’s one of the best looking games I have played to date.  GTA V is a fantastic game following the exploits of three characters; Michael the former gangster now in witness protection, Franklin the stereotypical gang-banger hoodlum and Trevor the meth-dealing lunatic.  The missions are cinematic and the world is alive and complex and massive.  There are a ton of things to see and do and it never feels boring.  I’m loving it.  Check out a few screenshots I took with the PS4 to show off how damn gorgeous this next-gen version looks in the flesh:

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On the gaming horizon (next Tuesday to be specific) is The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt.  A heavily hyped and very well reviewed game that I have pre-ordered for my Xbox One.  From everything I have read and seen, it’s sounding like it will be a mammoth RPG adventure to rival the likes of The Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy, with you as a bad-ass monster hunter known as Garalt, who inhabits a huge world that is one of the biggest apparently ever made and full of detail, missions, characters and true next-gen visuals.  I have watched some gameplay and read several reviews, and suffice to say I am VERY excited.  Roll on May 19th … I’ll do an early impressions some time in the week.

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In other news, I’ve sadly not managed to secure a trip to the cinema to see The Avengers: Age Of Ultron yet and can see it being a Blu-ray review later in the year.  The same might go for Mad Max Fury Road, but I’m still optimistic about getting to see that one, so watch this space (and no, going by myself doesn’t appeal all that much).  I have a few movies on the agenda however, the names of which I’ll keep to myself for now and let you be surprised when I post the reviews.  Yeah, I’m all about the tease.

On the TV watching front I have been pretty addicted to Better Call Saul, that breaking Bad spin-off starring everyone’s favourite crooked attorney Saul Goodman (or Jimmy Magill as he’s currently known).  It seems to have all the polish and great writing of Breaking Bad (well, it is by Vince Gilligan after all) and just keeps getting better and better.  I’m also watching The Following season 3 (yeah, yeah I know…we’re not getting a season 4…boo hiss) which has again been brilliant this year.  Clearly there is no accounting for taste, so another show hits the skids.  Talking of TV, I’m also looking forward to season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, a show at first I wasn’t entirely sure was me … the first series was good but a little lightweight, but with an excellent and gripping season 2, I am now officially a fan.  Damn Netflix just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?  I am also watching Brit drama Luther on it at the moment which stars popular actor Idris Elba as a tough Police detective who specialises in catching serial killers – right up my alley.

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So other than the above, and getting over some man-flu and a tickly cough that just won’t quit … it’s been all about work, which is going very well.  I am learning some new stuff to do more with secretarial tasks and finding it challenging and educational.  Love it when my job gives me those opportunities to learn new skills and I think it helps build a real profile and shape me for the future.  I’m also of course still looking forward to finally seeing my favourite band Garbage in November when they appear at Brixton Academy in London.  It’s going to be such a once in a life time experience for me, someone who doesn’t really get such opportunities.  I have my big brother to thank for making this happen and with my 40th birthday very much right after, November is looking to be a real belter.

Well, enough from me for now.  Hope you’re all having fun in whatever you’re all up to and continue to check in on me and this blog regularly for more updates, reviews and gaming impressions.

Craig.

Merry Christmas!!!


Well the day is finally here.  Here’s what I got this year… 

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Consisting of this year’s prezzies was:  USB powered computer speakers (JBL Pebbles), the complete Breaking Bad on Blu-ray, A Nightmare On Elm Street seven film collection, again on Blu-ray and a surprise, the complete Die Hard also on Blu-ray.  Add to this a very nice pen that’s been engraved with my name on it, and the official Scarlett Johansson 2015 calendar … growl!  Not pictured was various smellies, clothing, sweets etc. etc.  All in all very very pleased.

So wishing everyone a really great Christmas and to those that I got presents for, hope you like what I got you!

Ho ho ho.

Craig.

Top Ten Television Crushes


Inspired once again from a post over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of  A Beginner Blogger, thought I’d post what female characters / actresses I’ve crushed on in television… Not quite as easy as my movies list (click!) I’ll admit, but interesting to compile none the less … in no particular order.  Warning… slight spoilers may appear.

Rachel Green in Friends

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A fan favourite but the ‘every guy’s ideal girlfriend’ appeal of Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ in the hit sitcom is the basis of why Aniston continues to be one of the most likeable actresses around today.  Her on/off love story with on-screen boyfriend ‘Ross’ was also one of the highlights of the show.

Daphne Millbrook in Heroes

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Arrogant but spunky, an expert thief who has the ability to run like The Flash but hides the fact she was actually a paraplegic before her ‘powers’ kicked in … so a vulnerable side too.  Played wonderfully by Brea Grant.

Maggie in The Walking Dead

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Tough, very attractive and her often troubled love affair with on-screen husband ‘Glenn’ really makes this show increasingly watchable.  Helps that Lauren Cohen’s a fine actress too, and can handle a machete like a ruthless killer.

Joan Holloway in Mad Men

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When I first saw this red haired bombshell, I thought … wow, who is this actress?  Yes her character may be a bitch, but as seasons continued, we did get to see a gentler side, and damn, that face, those lips…I could go on.  Christina Hendricks is what they were talking about when they coined the phrase ‘…and God Created Woman’.

Kate Austin in Lost

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Evangeline Lilly’s vulnerable, feisty and sexy performance as the duel love interest of both ‘Jack’ and ‘Sawyer’ really held this complex, often infuriating but non the less enjoyable show together.  Great to also see Lilly now appearing in The Hobbit movies…makes for a wonderfully alluring elf.

Jane in Breaking Bad

Lewis Jacobs/ Still Photographer, 2008

Jessie’s ill-fated girlfriend, the manipulative and sexy Jane as played by the beautiful Kristen Ritter may only have a small appearance in the acclaimed show, but her legacy lingers on throughout.  Also those dangerously seductive lips and eyes…ahem.

Sam in E.R.

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Played by Linda Cardellini, this tough talking, single mother may have the ex husband from hell and a troubled son, yet her beauty and vulnerability make her one of this long-running shows best characters.

Buffy in Buffy The Vampire Slayer

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Ok the fan boy in me was tempted to go for Willow, but really this is crushes and Sarah Michelle Geller’s tough, quirky and sexy Buffy summers is the reason this show was such a massive success.

Taylor Townsend in The O.C.

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Played by the gorgeous Autumn Reeser, this character appeared air-headed bimbo but was actually very funny and adorable … helped she was stunning too!  Must be all that Californian sun.

Dr Jennifer Melfi in The Sopranos

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From the acclaimed mob drama, how could I forget the smouldering sexiness of Dr Melfi, as played by the lovely Lorraine Bracco?  Made for a big part of the TV show, and the on/off sexual chemistry between her and the late James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano was almost unbearable … even if it never went ‘there’ between them…

Have you any favourite TV characters that got you all hot under the collar?  Feel free to post a link if you have a list of your own.

Breaking bad-habits


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I’ve waited until now to post about what has arguably become one of the most talked about and celebrated TV shows in history.  Yes Vince Gilligan’s award winning Breaking Bad.  Last night I finished watching the final season, and came away so shaken, impressed and wowed at the shows excellence that I really felt I had been witness to a major landmark in television entertainment.

I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible as I think this is a show that really needs to be enjoyed to the max, without knowing what lies ahead, and is another reason I have waited this long to talk about it.  Brian Cranston, previously best known as the dad in Malcolm In The Middle, plays a chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer.  Fearing for his family’s financial future, including a disabled son and a pregnant wife, he plots a scheme to get involved in the crystal-meth cooking business with a helping hand from former student Jessie (Aaron Paul).  For me I considered this a strange concept for a show and not one I could have foreseen being so popular – I mean really, the main character is a drug dealer (of sorts).  Yet in the hands of Brain Cranston he makes a morally dubious and sometimes downright awful person likable … and you are there every step of the way as he faces up against rival drug barons, his own brother-in-law DEA agent (the wonderful Dean Norris) as well as his own family woes.

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First and foremost despite an unusual premise, what holds this all together are a wealth of first class performances, especially from Cranston and Paul who excel in their roles and believe me go through the full gamut of emotions and obstacles throughout the  series … these guys really earn their pay cheques.  Cranston especially breaking out of his sitcom routes to become one of the most iconic and memorable characters, nicknamed Heisenberg and with a bald head and goatee that will truly go down in history.  I really can’t praise this show enough.  Gilligan’s direction (and the various other names who step in, including Cranston himself) all deliver a show full of style, quirks, often clever camera work, great music choices and plenty of tension – with a fair bit of comic-relief too.  This is a black comedy at times, but also hard-hitting, violent and disturbing – in a good way that hits home and lingers in one’s mind.  The kind of show you just have to talk about afterwards.

Another feather to its cap are some of the supporting characters, the lovable but deadly hit man Mike (everyone’s favourite eighties villain Jonathan Banks – Beverly Hills Cop anyone?) and most notably Giancalo Esposito’s Gustavo Fring – who really stamps his evil presence from the show’s 3rd season onwards.

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My American readers may have already seen this show and moved on, some may wonder what all the fuss is about – as did I … but after reading many (often celebrity) recommendations, I got curious and thanks to Netflix have been able to enjoy this show in it’s entirety.  It hasn’t been treated the best by British TV networks, being a complete no show on terrestrial television or even satellite service Sky – something that totally baffles me to this day … maybe that will change some time soon, even now the show is done … because it really deserves the widest audience possible. 

TV programmes come along like this very rarely … so don’t let it slip you by.