What’s going on?


blondie garbageSo with a slight update to my usual ‘update’ heading on here … I thought I’d do a post about what things have been peaking my interest of late.  Let me firstly get out of the way the awesome news that my favourite band, Garbage are this summer going on tour with legendary 70s / 80s band ‘Blondie’ fronted by none other than the iconic Deborah Harry.  Yes, THE Deborah Harry.  Now, Shirley Manson has previously been on stage with this singer and former actress, and they are old friends from way back, so I suppose their imminent teaming up for what has been titled the ‘Rage & Rapture’ tour should have been an easy guess.  This for me is two generations of a similar band, at least as far as a female-fronted, otherwise male orientated bands are concerned and there are certainly some similarities to Shirley Manson’s singing-style and that of Deborah Harry’s.  So for any fan of either group – these are going to be shows not to be missed!  More info: Click Here.

Resident Evil 7

In other news I picked up the eagerly anticipated Resident Evil 7: Biohazard last Friday and have been nervously enjoying this scare-fest ever since.  It’s of that recent trend for genuinely unnerving and scary horror games as apposed to the action-orientated style the series had gradually become known for, and is probably more like the very first game, what with secluded mansion to explore and limited ammo etc.  I’m playing it on Xbox One and having a great time with it.  It drips with atmosphere and the dark and gloomy visuals and accompanying eerie sound design have me on the edge of my seat.

On the music front I’ve been enjoying albums from Blossoms, Tegan and Sara and Two Door Cinema Club in my growing journey to broaden my horizons and discover different artists than purely my beloved Garbage.  It’s fun finding out what’s out there and Apple Music is helping me do that perfectly.

homeland

TV-wise I’m getting into the latest series of Homeland, a firm favourite and also gritty British period drama Taboo starring Tom Hardy, which will do me nicely in the run up to The Walking Dead and eventually the return of Game of Thrones.

Other than work, that’s pretty much me for now.  Come back soon and I’ll tell you a little more.

Craig.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines


Viewed – 28 July 2015  Blu-ray

Following in the wake of the seminal classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day was not going to be an easy task.  Director Jonathan Mostow however, whilst not being James Cameron, has managed to deliver a decent if flawed entry in one of my favourite movie franchises.

terminator 3

John Conner (Nick Stahl) is a loner drifter who ten years following the events of T2 has seen Judgement day come and go without a Nuclear War and thus chooses to live off the radar.  That is until a female Terminator known as a T-X arrives in town, hell bent on tracking down a series of targets, including veterinary doctor Catherine (Claire Danes).  As before however, another cyborg follows and this time ol’ Arnie is out to protect John Connor and Catherine and goes up against the most advanced Terminator yet.

This continues but fails to innovate on the Terminator lore, with several copycat sequences borrowed straight from T1/T2 but given corny jokes or silly updates that prevent this movie gaining it’s own identity.  Kristanna Loken is effective and subtly-sexy as the female Terminator (that arrival…) and proves a worthy villain, while Danes adds some good female feistiness in the absence of Linda Hamilton.  Stahl however can’t fill the boots of Edward Furlong and lacks all of his charisma and personality; delivering a character who, however pivotal to the plot, is difficult to like or even sympathise with.  Schwarzenegger thankfully looks like he’s having a ball, even if his line-delivery and the sheer-bad-assery of previous (and even the latest) movies is lacking here.  As a competent director though, Mostow does manage to fill the movie with some terrific action (a huge, multi-vehicle chase thatJohn Connor obliterates many shops and buildings comes to mind…) decent effects and a good pace.  It’s just a shame then that with all such ingredients intact, we still get a movie that brings no real surprises and is stuck with a rather limp ending.  That said, on it’s own merits, this was still a fun, action-packed experience with a few stand-out moments.  Even as the weakest of the franchise, T3 is by no means a disaster.

The Blu-ray may lack a bit of punch in the image quality, but makes up for this in a hefty Dolby True HD soundtrack that really comes to life during the action sequences.  However it’s in the extras where this release impresses most, with several featurettes spanning all aspects of the making.  Most notably we also get a cast & crew commentary and a special cine-chat talking heads feature that plays along as you watch.    Not too shabby for a still enjoyable also-ran.

Verdict:

(the movie)  3 /5

(the Blu-ray)  3.5 /5

Princess Mononoke


Viewed – 25 May 2014  Blu-ray

I have wanted to give this much acclaimed Studio Ghibli film a second viewing for a while, and now that it has finally arrived on Blu-ray a film I originally was a bit mixed about, I can give a final verdict on.  This tells the tale of a young warrior, Ashitaka who after saving his village from a demonic boar, is cursed during the battle and forced to leave.  He soon stumbles upon the plight of mining colony who seem  hell-bent on destroying the local forest, regardless of the spirits and animals present, due to a power-hungry governess.  At the same time Ashitaka spots a young girl who is living amongst the wolves, and the villagers refer to her as Princess Mononoke, the wolf-girl.  Before long Ashitaka is torn between his loyalty to a village that take him in and the survival of a sacred forest, as war breaks out.

Princess-Mononoke-wallpaper-HD

This grand spectacle is full of quirky characters, some decent voice acting from the American cast shoe-horned in to replace the original Japanese (Claire Danes especially giving Princess Mononoke plenty of attitude), but its Miyazaki’s magical world and that charming Japanese art style that wins through, with a good story where you are soon routing for Princess Mononoke & Ashitaka and booing the villains.  At two and a quarter hours, it’s certainly epic, both in imagination and emotion, and it’s not hard to see why this is so regarded among movie fans; yet it also drags in places, which could make some viewers restless, with plenty of time given to bland dialogue and mundane moments like eating and working.  On this second viewing however, I was able to better appreciate the (at times) slow pace and the sheer artistic beauty of it all, as well as comedic side characters (the feisty female workers) and the various action sequences (Mononoke’s attack on iron town).  Although I do think it would benefit from about ten or twenty minutes being cut just to make it zip along more.   Yet for it’s character design, setting and echo-friendly message, this remains a land-mark.  I enjoyed it, even if for me it still pales next to Ghibli titles like Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle.

This Blu-ray release from Studio Canal is impressive.  First and foremost the image is vibrant, sharp and very clear, with none of the smudgy, rough appearance that graced the DVD – clearly having been polished up quite a bit.  Add to this a stellar 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack with great use of the surrounds and pounding bass (when those drums beat … wow) and the orchestral theme is delivered wonderfully.  Dialogue is also very clear and easy to hear at all times (we also get the original Japanese soundtrack which I didn’t sample).  Extras are somewhat limited as they often are on these Studio Ghibli UK releases, but we do get a trailer, storyboards and a featurette.

Verdict:

(the movie)  3.5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet


Viewed – 12 November 2010  Blu-ray

Making the deep, complex dialogue of a play by legendary playwrite William Shakespeare palatable for a modern audience, was always going to be something of a challenge.  Yet with director Baz Luhrmann at the helm, one of the most gifted ‘visual’ directors around, what audiences finally got was something of a style heavy art film with blockbuster ambition.  The classic love story follows two powerful rival families, Capulet and Montague, headed by Paul Sorvino and Brian Dennehy respectively, where the son & daughter of each family, namely Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo and Claire Danes’ Juliet meet at a party and fall in love.  Yet naturally their love is forbidden and soon leads to bloodshed.

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