THOUGHTS ON…HALT & CATCH FIRE

Greetings all!!!

Now, I usually won’t or don’t talk about television on my blog unless I have an opinion of an important piece of programming. And yes, I’m a few days late, but before it’s next episode I’d like to talk about Halt And Catch Fire. 

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If I could best sum up Halt And Catch Fire to a friend it would be Mad Men meets The Social Network and filmed like Breaking Bad.

The three main members of the cast Lee Pace, Scott McNairy and Mackenzie Davis all do a terrific job with their roles and that’s something that has to be commended.

Pace’s Joe Macmillan is like a cross between Don Draper and Andrew Garfield’s take on Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network with a touch of Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

rs_560x415-140516090912-1024.Halt-And-Catch-Fire.jl.051614Like Draper and Saverin, Macmillan is the business head of the group, pushing them forward and doing most of the negotiating. And like Frank, Joe is always planning something, thinking one step ahead of everybody else.

At least that is what I’m gathering from just this first episode.

Like anyone else who has watched the episode, you may feel slightly more drawn to the straight laced MacMillan than the other two characters.

But it’s not in a bad reflection of them.

It’s because the history of the character is shrouded in a lot of mystery and we haven’t seen him at his lowest yet. It’ll be interesting to see who he really is when we get there.

Lee Pace portrays the character with such enigmatic grace that you can’t help but be intrigued and drawn to him.

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Hell even on the Breaking Bad part, the character of Gordon Clark draws some parallels to Walter White. Both are brilliant in their field. Both are not content with how their lives have turned out. Both want to reach their true potential.

Not to mention, he has to make the choice of balancing being a committed family man or being devoted to his work. That’ll be choice I see Gordon having to make on a regular basis. And it’ll be something that could make or break him.

Scott McNairy does great portraying a man discontented with his current situation so well it feels like McNairy has experienced that situation before and has drawn from that experience.

Going back to the point I made about how MacMillan was the character most would be drawn to the most, another reason why I say this is because everything we need to see about Gordon, we’ve seen. And the same applies to Mackenzie Davis’ Cameron Howe.

You already have the character of Cameron figured out.

She’s about to finish college. She’s too smart to be amongst her peers. She doesn’t act the way society her wants to. What’s more is that Cameron is always cheating the arcade machine and when she turns up to her first day at Cardiff Electric she isn’t dressed like every other woman working there.

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She’s the wild card of the three and every group, especially for a series like this, needs one to add to the drama. She’s essentially a female mix of Jesse Pinkman and Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (I keep referring to the film because I obviously don’t know Zuckerberg so I wouldn’t know if that’s how he really is in real life).

The fact that Gordon is skeptical about working with Cameron and is slightly dismissive of her reminds me of the Walt/Jesse dynamic. When they started working together Walt was always so impatient with Jesse because he looked down on Jesse and believed he didn’t need him.

And for all we know, further on the same will apply to the Cameron/Gordon aspect, or they’ll actually find common ground. Luckily Joe’s the glue that will hold them together.

Gordon and Cameron are there because Joe dragged them into this, so in order to get somewhere they have to both put their faith in Joe, in each other and work together.

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But overall the dynamic between the cast looks like it’s one that will work because you can sense that the chemistry is there, and they bounce off each other in the final scene of the episode.

A lot of people probably know the history of the computing industry and there are others that don’t. What’s more is that everyone knows how computers have ended up today. We don’t just have computers, but now our phones act as a mobile personal computer, we have tablets, the internet, mobile internet.

But I like films or TV shows that show us the beginnings of something that revolutionised human society. Especially when it’s done right.

For example, The Social Network. We all knew how and where Facebook has ended up. But watching it’s birth and early beginnings was intriguing. Not to mention the other underlying matters surrounding it’s spawn.

We had Zuckerberg who is being taken to court because he was being accused of stealing the idea of Facebook from somebody else. He’s being sued by his best friend for diluting shares that were rightfully his.

All of those ingredients added to Facebook’s origins made the story compelling and it’s what we have with Halt And Catch Fire.

We have three characters, Joe MacMillan, Cameron Howe and Gordon Clark who might be on the brink of something revolutionary.

When something as successful or revolutionary like Facebook exists, you are bound to have rivals. Or there are those who will want a piece of your pie. Not to mention there will always be tension at some point within the team.

My money’s on Gordon Clark to cause the tension.

Everyone will expect it to be Cameron, but I’d go for Gordon because not only have we seen him at the beginning of the episode in trouble for getting into a drunk fight, but he had to tell his wife that he was drinking Dr Pepper instead of beer. I also see that if the three are successful with their machine, Gordon’s ego is the one that will increase tenfold.

Not only is he back in the field he belongs at and is good at it, but when he ends up with that much success it will go to his head.

And If anything I bet Cameron will be the one to change sides. Because she can’t be controlled or manipulated, not even by Joe. But then Joe might be the anchor that keeps her coming back.

Who knows?

But that’s not to say that MacMillan is going to be the outright level headed member of the team. For all we know, the more about Joe and his past that gets revealed may change our perspective on him.

What I also really love is because of the era it’s set it in, it’s gonna have a great soundtrack. People tend to think of the silly, camp side of the 80’s, but it was a decade that brought a lot to arts and culture.

I wasn’t born in the 80’s. I was born in the 90’s. But when I look back on the 80’s I become interested in it because with it came the uprise of punk, neo-pop, neo-punk and electronic music. That area in itself fascinates me about an era I was never a part of.

I’d say my biggest problem with it is that, like a lot of TV shows or films that deal with a groundbreaking moment in any particular field, be it IT or music, the situation at hand is always over dramatised.

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It’s always the whole “Our time is now” thing in which there is so much emphasis on making every moment count. That everything they do now is of the utmost importance and nothing else in the world absolutely matters.

Especially when Joe says stuff to Gordon like “Everyone thinks computers are the thing. But what people don’t realise is that computers are the thing that get us to the thing”.

I’m sure in reality not everyone will have that gung-ho spirit to their work. A lot of the time when people make important landmarks in their fields it’s not because they are forcing themselves to redefine their field but in some cases it happens to be a successful accident.

But I guess maybe that’s a point Halt And Catch Fire is trying to make. Gordon’s article was just seen as a thesis or just an article, but Joe was smart enough to realise that Gordon mapped the future in computing and hence the emphasis on the “Our time is now thing”.

It’s been a while since I watched the first ever episode of a television show and genuinely got excited for it’s future. The first episode of Breaking Bad didn’t excite me that much. And neither did the first ever episode of Game Of Thrones.

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I really loved the scene at the end of this episode when Joe, Gordon and Cameron are all looking into Cardiff Electric’s office as IBM’s army of lawyers come marching in one by one to Bonobo’s track Cirrus.

What I liked especially with this scene is when Gordon asks a question on everyone’s mind; “What are you trying to prove with all this?”

And that’s why I really can’t wait for the next episode, to see what Joe is up to.

It’s interesting to see where they take the show. I’m fascinated by it, and even if you weren’t as impressed as I was by the opening episode, you can”t help but admit that it does show a lot of promise.

So I’m urging you guys to give this series a watch and stick with it.

4.5/5

X-MEN: AND HISTORY REWRITES ITSELF…

Yes, I know, I’m a week late but I’ve finally seen X Men: Days Of Future Past

And before I give my view on it, I have but one word for what I saw: AMAZING!

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(***SPOILERS AHEAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED. DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN THE MOVIE OR YOU DON’T CARE IF THE PLOT OF A FILM/SERIES IS RUINED FOR YOU***)

First off, the performances from every single actor or actress in this movie was on point. Every one of them who have ever been in one of the films from the X-Men franchise brought their “A” game.

And before I get to the original and current cast, I first have to give props to the newcomers. The new cast that played the future X-Men did well. And as per usual, Peter Dinklage pulls out another terrific performance.

To the regulars…

James McAvoy as young Xavier did really well, pulling off Charles’ transition from being a broken and isolated man to rediscovering the path he needs to take to become the Patrick Stewart incarnation of Xavier we all know and love.

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In terms of Magneto, once again, the Fassbender portrayal of the character is a lot more cooler than Sir Ian McKellen’s one, but that’s only because the older Erik Lensherr is more in tune with his abilities and wiser. Young Erik is still so full of rage, so when he uses his powers he does it in an aggressive manner, whereas older Erik is well resided in the place between peace and tranquility.

Jennifer Lawrence’s incarnation of Mystique is one that fans will love because she is a lot more like her comic book version than she was in the original films.

In the earlier portrayal by Rebecca Romijn, Mystique was definitely cold and calculated and yes she was pretty cool, but she was so robotic because she didn’t have a lot of dialogue. Everything she did was through action, so audiences could hardly empathize with her.

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But this edition of Mystique takes what was great about the previous display of the character and adds the emotion to her. This time, Mystique is part of the film’s soul. Like Charles, she has lost her way, but like Erik, she is filled internally with a lot of conflict.

There was a lot of emotion…

The events that took place between First Class and Days Of Future Past, which include historical events like the Vietnam war hit everyone hard, as losses were suffered from all sides.

As Hank mentioned, most of the students and teachers from the Xavier Institute were drafted in, and one by one they died, and it broke Charles.

It was sad to hear that some of the characters that, even though they were not incredibly relevant, from First Class, met tragic fates including Emma, Angel and Banshee.

Erik, Raven, Hank and even Alex have all been broken like Charles. What’s more is how they have all decided to take different approaches to get over the losses.

It’s no wonder why we find young Charles a damaged man to the point that he tells Logan that everyone dies some day.

And the film didn’t just deal with the emotional state of the characters, but also about their relationships with each other. About trying to repair what was broken or about characters trying to find their way. Especially the Young Charles/Erik/Mystique element.

The scene on the plane ride to Paris in which Erik and Charles argue about who abandoned who summed up a very delicate relationship.

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It’s clear that they both still care for each other, and it’s why Charles selfishly rages at Erik that he abandoned him and took Raven away. Taking away the things that mattered most to him. But Erik is not just angry about Charles’ abandonment but also at the fact that him abandoning Erik cost the lives of so many allies they hold dear.

Hugh Jackman as always, kills it as Wolverine. Even if people don’t like Logan’s stand out films, you can’t help go see it because of Jackman. The character is already the most popular of the X-Men, and Jackman’s portrayal of him keeps that favouritism in place.

Even though I don’t like the fact that Wolverine is always central to the plot of the Singer films, in Days Of Future Past I was glad he was the central character thread that kept both the timelines together. I felt Logan’s pain and impatience when he was trying to convince young Charles that he was telling the truth.

Especially when he grabs Charles and tells him that he has come a long way and has lost a lot of good friends who were good people. And what’s more he tells Charles that if he doesn’t listen to him he too will suffer the same losses and they hurt just as worse.

The scene with Logan that really got me was when he tells young Charles on the plane to Washington that even though when he saw tragic memories, there were also good ones and begs Charles to promise him that he find the X-Men. To find Storm, Jean, Scott.

I keep saying that the film is filled with emotion because that’s as best how I can describe it. Yes, the matters at hand and the action are important, but they weren’t the factors that stood out to me. It was the emotions that kept me locked into the film.

Alongside Wolverine, young Charles and Mystique were essentially the heart of the film, keeping it emotionally engaging. Even Hank, who you can see was still quite saddened by Raven’s departure added more to the tender serving.

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In fact, a lot of the characters brought so much emotional energy, but it’s the first three just mentioned that really stick out.

Heck, even that one scene that we saw Alex Summers in tugged at the heartstrings, especially when he gets onto the plane and asks a disguised Raven if she was coming home. I would have liked to have seen his character have a full stay in this movie and have a lot to do.

Will he make a possible appearance in Apocalypse? It would be interesting to see how they tackle his relation to young Scott. It’ll probably be like the Magneto/Quicksilver elevator scene.

It was also touching to see that the film wasn’t just about Charles finding hope again, but it reached out to audience members to tell them that no matter how dark things get, there’s always a bright side and that we have to keep hoping.

I think what a lot of the fans will take from this film is what happens at the end, and I’m not just talking post credits…

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The creation of the sentinel programme happened at the same time as the original trilogy, so while the films were taking place sentinels were being built and modified to be more adaptable in combat against mutants.

By putting an end to the Sentinel programme it means the X-Men aren’t going to meet the fate they end up in at the start of the film.

And with it comes changes to the current timeline.

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Logan didn’t join Charles’ team until the first film (I was going to say he didn’t meet Charles until the first film, but we all remember that scene from First Class). But by meeting him in 1973 that means (and this is me making an assumption), he will be a part of Charles’ X-team for the next installment, which was hinted at when after the events in the 70’s Hank asks Charles of Logan’s fate and when Logan meets Charles in his office in the new timeline, Charles tells him he’s got a lot of catching up to do from 1973.

It would only make sense…

Not to mention when Logan wakes up, all the beloved characters from the original movie reach a happier fate, and what’s more, like Logan, we feel such joy and relief and happiness when we find that both Jean and Scott (yes that Scott as in Scott Summers as in Cyclops), is still alive.

You’re not just happy to see that they’re alive but you’re happy to see that with all the pain and loss that Wolverine suffered, he’s finally got a peaceful and happier resolution to his story.

With Scott and Jean alive again, it now means X-Force is gonna be a go, because there’s no X-Force without Cable, and Cable is the son of Scott and (a clone of) Jean Grey. If they don’t exist, neither does he.

Up next, for those who didn’t see the post credits scene is Apocalypse. Rumour has it that it’ll be set in the 80’s and young Scott will be in the team, as well as Quicksilver. If that be the case I will be incredibly excited, especially on the Cyclops front.

My reason for this huge bias towards the Summers kid is that if you have a general knowledge of the X-Men comics, you’d know how vital and important of a character he is to the series.

And I’d say that that’s my only beef with Singer’s franchise. No one sees how important Scott is to the X-Men. When you think of some of the most important and iconic stories in the comics, from the Dark Phoenix saga to Age of Apocalypse, Scott is in some way connected to them.

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Scott is connected to Age of Apocalypse. How? Because his future child is fighting for survival in that timeline.

Scott is connected to the Dark Phoenix Saga. How? Simply because he and Jean are the love of each other’s lives and Jean being overcome with the Phoenix Force puts a strain on their marriage.

Not to mention, in recent events (Avengers Vs X-Men), Scott is at the centre of the story as he comes to understanding what Jean went through and kills Charles at his own hand.

The transition made by Scott from Charles’ prodigal son to having Magneto as a close ally is one that determines the fate of the entire X-team and it’s one of those issues that I feel should be brought to the fray.

Also, with the timeline changing, it now gives Singer the chance an attempt to make a Dark Phoenix movie, an opportunity tragically missed by The Last Stand.

It was clear that at the end of X2: X-Men United, Singer had plans to make a Phoenix movie, so changing the X-universe would probably allow him to make the Dark phoenix movie he probably planned since 2003.

There were so many things about this movie that I loved, from the story, to the action, to the characters and to the actors that played them. This film demonstrated why Bryan Singer was the right man to direct the X-Men films.

It’s as if the last few films in the X-Men franchise (with the exception of First Class) didn’t take place and that he picked up where he left off from the second film.

This film is like a hail to his return but also a sentimental last goodbye to the original cast.

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I believe Days Of Future Past is a film in the franchise that would rank highly amongst fans. For me, it’s the best one, and I loved the original movie from 14 years ago.

It’s very rare for me to say that the newest installment of a highly established franchise is the best addition.

5/5

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: WATCH_DOGS – IS HACKING REALLY OUR WEAPON?

Greetings all!!!

This Tuesday just gone saw the release of UbiSoft’s much anticipated open-world piece Watch_Dogs, which I pre-ordered on Amazon and got on release day for PS4.

GID01476For anyone out there who hasn’t made their mind up about the game fear not, as hopefully my first impressions will influence your decision to buy it or not.

Be not afraid folks. It’s not a bad game. However, I’m not overly impressed considering the hype surrounding it, but I’ll get to the negatives later.

What I will say though is that it’s a grower, not a shower.

It gets compared to Grand Theft Auto V a lot and while GTA sucks you in and blows you away slightly from the start, with Watch_Dogs it takes time for you to really get into the game, the story and it’s characters.

watch_dogs_ss9_99866Without meaning to spoil the story, you really don’t get sucked into the story until you have to stop this one guy who’s going to point you out to the police.

But that’s just my opinion.

Anyone else who is playing the game or has played it will probably have their own opinion.

The story itself has been interesting so far. I can’t really say I’m totally hooked on it.

understand the writers of this game didn’t want to go down the conventional route of a man seeking revenge for the death of a loved one. While most stories in this scenario are about a man losing his child or wife to a hit that was placed on his head, Watch_Dogs, tries to be different and not make it so conventional by going for Aiden Pearce’s young niece.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but some may feel it’s a little impersonal because that kid wasn’t his child (even though she still counts as family), but from another perspective, if it had been his kid, then most people playing the game might just feel that they are playing a typical revenge story and there’s nothing really different about Watch_Dogs‘ story that makes it stand out.

So on the story front it’s debatable but like most gamers, I’m in it for the gameplay.

And guys, the gameplay does not disappoint.

Some may feel slightly let down because the hacking part wasn’t as complicated as they were expecting, but I like the idea that it’s simple. Believe me, if I was being chased by the police, the last thing I’d want to do is work out some complicated algorithm just to change a set of traffic lights.

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It makes getting into vehicles so much easier as well. In GTA, when you were trying to escape the police and needed to break into a car to do so, the character would take his time, look around, break the window, hop into the car, mess with the car’s wiring and then start the car.

In Watch_Dogs, one tap of the triangle button and you are set and good to go. When you escape the police, there’s a feeling of personal triumph when you speed ahead of them because you’ve caused an accident by changing the traffic lights or when you use the road block for them to drive straight into.

Another aspect that so many were looking forward to was the digital trips. In particular, the Spider Tank.

I can confirm…Spider Tank is so much fun.

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There a lot of things to love about Spider Tank. Mayhem? Check. Challenging? Check. Fun? Definite check.

Those were the things I loved on Spider Tank. Even moving with Spider Tank or jumping around with it makes a freaky sound that you just can’t help but like it.

I haven’t tried the other digital trips yet because I wanted to try Spider Tank so bad. And I made a good call. In fact, Ubisoft made a good call by putting that into the game.

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However…with all good things comes the bad. And I had some problems with the game.

Major problems.

My biggest gripe with the game comes mainly from one aspect: and that’s the driving.

From the trailers to the screenshots of the game, one would expect smooth, fluid driving mechanics. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen with this game.

To reiterate: It’s still not a bad game.

My reason for being annoyed at the driving at the game is how clunky it was. It was virtually impossible to drive a car in this game without hitting someone or something once.

ipXqbltlV7mW0There have been some many times on so many missions where the rigidness of the driving mechanics have affected my progress, meaning I’ve had to go back to my last check point and start that mission all over again and that annoys the hell out of me.

I’m not saying that the game is a disaster because the driving is horrendous.

But when you make an open world game, the driving has to be smooth, because in open world games, people like to drive, and when it’s not smooth it bogs the game down.

Yes, driving isn’t necessarily a huge negative factor to when it comes to open world games, but when I compare Watch_Dogs to Grand Theft Auto V like most people do, it’s that factor that makes me pick GTA ahead of Ubisoft’s product.

Because the driving was easy and fluid on GTA, I got so excited playing it, as it didn’t seem like extra effort and extra work when you’re going through the main campaign.

EDG243.h_watch.boxoutBut on Watch_Dogs it’s the complete opposite.

Not only do you have to take down someone who’s going to rat you out to the police on the highway, but you have to be concerned about how much speed you can actually apply to your car so you don’t hit anyone or anything and damage your car.

On this game you want to be recognised by it’s citizens as a hero, but with the driving I’ve gone from citizen to anarchist in a short amount of time. At the rate I’ve been playing this game I’ve just decided that I don’t care anymore, as long as I can make some progress in it.

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At least when it comes to driving a motorcycle it is a lot, no, a hell lot easier than using a car. The braking problems do apply to motorcycles but at least the movement is more agile and less work.

And what’s annoying is the fact that there isn’t a frequent number of times or places where you could get a motorcycle.

What probably annoys me most about driving on Watch_Dogs is the fact that when you’re driving, it just looks absolutely stunning. Especially when you have to drive through the tunnel or on the freeway. It just looks so beautiful but it’s wasted on these shoddy mechanics.

And the way the game looks brings me to my other gripe. I’m playing this on PS4, so I’m expecting it to look amazing.

Unfortunately, I have to bring GTA up again, because, especially in the day time scenes, their resolutions look similar. However, Watch_Dogs looks best and shines most on next-gen when it comes to scenes in the rain or during the night.

The scenes at night when it’s raining stand out the most to me because of the level of detail that went into it.

1400449424It’s the smallest things like when a puddle is formed and you can see the little droplets of rain causing ripples in that puddle, or when you use a sniper rifle and if you’ve activated focus, the rain no longer turns into lines or streams of water but they appear as drops on your scope.

That’s pretty cool.

Admittedly, when I saw the first glimpse of gameplay for this game that was unleashed upon the internet, I was skeptical about getting Watch_Dogs, but the more that was showed, the more interested I got.

Overall, my impressions of the game have been mixed to positive. Like I said at the start, the more I play it, the more I like it. It takes time to grow on your affections, so don’t go rushing in expecting to be amazed from the off.

So what are your first impressions of Watch_Dogs? Do you agree with me? Or do you absolutely disagree? Do you think it’s a great game or terrible game?

Comments below please and see you on the next post!

(I’ll have a rating for the game attached to my official review of it – once I’ve completed it that is.)

MAN OF STEEL. AND MAN OF STEEL 2’S OFFICIAL TITLE.

Greetings all!

So, this week, the sequel to 2013’s Man Of Steel, got it’s official title (and I’ll give my reactions to that towards the end of this week’s post…promise…).

But following my opinion piece last week on the sequel, I thought I’d share my opinions on Superman’s latest reboot. I expressed my views on the franchise’s future, so why not speak about it’s current state? Right?

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Where to start…

Let’s start with the positives and what I liked about the film.

First of all, I feel that the film achieved what it set out to do. Which was to make Superman relatable, even though it was done in the similar vain to Batman Begins (you know, Bruce and Clark both left home because of some traumatic event and wandered around the world moving from place to place looking for some purpose to their lives).

I’ve always felt that between Batman and Superman, Clark was the more relatable.

Hear me out for a second…

Superman, powers aside, had a pretty normal upbringing. He went to high school, had his first crush, the usual. Even him hitting puberty was touched upon through him discovering his abilities. Like the X-Men, Clark has always been and felt like an outsider. Because of who he is, what he can do, he has never been able to fit in.

All of us know what it’s like to feel isolated and alone, being left out just because of who you are. And like most of us, Superman is trying to find his place in life. Who he’s supposed to be. What he’s supposed to do.

And that’s something Zack Snyder’s film beautifully touched upon.

In the Donner series, you could touch upon the idea that Superman was isolated and an outsider, but because it was done in a subtle manner, audiences failed to see that subtext. What Man Of Steel  did was that it brought those issues to the fray, making it plainly obvious for the audience to see.

Another brilliant thing about Snyder’s take on Superman was the cast. Henry Cavill, I feel, pulled through a memorable performance as the main character. One of my closest friends said he thought Cavill was the worst Superman on screen, but I strongly disagree.

I think the problem with Cavill was, like Brandon Routh’s incarnation, he was given very few lines of dialogue. It seemed at times that Cavill was just there to pose and look the part. Cavill did not speak until the scene where Clark is working at the bar. Lois had more to say than Clark.

And on that note, Adams did well as Miss Lane. She wouldn’t have been my first pick, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but her portrayal worked well for the film.

Of the cast I would say the weak point came from it’s main villain Zod. Yes, Michael Shannon gave a terrific performance. He did his best with the character. The problem was, Zod was incredibly repetitive. There wasn’t a single moment where Zod didn’t say something about “his people”.

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Yes, I get it, on Krypton, most of it’s population has been genetically engineered to serve a purpose, but in Zod’s case it came off as slightly one dimensional. There was not much personality to the character. He’s like the one guy at an office whose entire life is his job and has chosen to abandon any form of social interaction.

But like I said, Shannon did a good job…

Superman has always been an iconic character, and Man Of Steel encapsulated the iconic imagery of the character wonderfully. Nearly every scene with Clark/Superman was incredibly iconic, from the scene where he’s unconscious in the ocean, to him flying over the earth, to the scene where he floats out of Zod’s ship to save Lois.

When I first saw the scene in the trailer where Superman is walking in the arctic, wearing his costume with his cape blowing in the wind, I was filled with so much excitement and high expectations for the film.

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But there was one part that let me down…

My overall criticism of the film, the part I disliked the most would be Clark’s fight against Zod towards the end of the film. No, I’m not one of those fans who’s gonna bitch about Superman killing Zod. I didn’t have a problem with it. My problem was the fight itself. Not just the amount of destruction it caused, but also the choreography of it.

Superman’s fight in Smallville, though destructive, was a lot better. That’s how a fight between three Kryptonians on Earth should be.

It should be destructive, but it should be dirty. It should be gritty. It should have some realism. It shouldn’t be over the top. And that’s what the Zod fight was like.

Particularly when Zod grabs Superman’s cloak and spins him then lets go. It looked incredibly cartoonish and everytime I watch that scene on Blu-Ray I either skip it, go get a snack or turn the film off entirely.

This is Superman. Instead it looked like a fight scene from DragonBall Z.

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I’m not saying I have a problem with DBZ, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but Superman and Goku are two different class of characters. Superman is a classy character who has been around for 75 years and that fight isn’t the character’s style. It felt like the fight was an imitation of DBZ and that was my problem.

And of course, the carnage…

Yes, I did have a problem with carnage. Why? Every person who is a Superman fan would want to see at least Doomsday or Brainiac brought to life. And those villains were rumoured to be considered for the sequel.

That’s incredibly worrying considering that, if a fight between Superman and Zod can nearly wipe out a city, then what happens if the Man of Steel goes up the universe’s ultimate killing machine, does that mean the whole of Earth gets brought to it’s knees during the fight?

What’s more is Superman is supposed to be saving people. Even at the cost of his own life.

During a fight, Clark would rather rescue someone from a collapsing skyscraper and taking a blow to the ribs than let innocent people die. He instead, is causing the mayhem and destruction. That, above all, is the worrying problem about the fight between Zod and Superman.

3.5/5

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If possible, watch this video by Max Landis, writer of the 2012 film Chronicle. Landis, in my opinion, is brilliant in what he says. I’m a fan of his and as someone who writes, I admire his work and look up to him.

He expresses his opinions on Man Of Steel which are reasonable and should be noted by anyone who loves Superman or hasn’t made their mind up on Snyder’s film. The guy knows what he’s talking about and I hope one day he gets a shot at writing a Superman (or any other comic book hero) based movie.

Video below:

And finally, onto the sequel and it’s title, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I don’t have much to say to be honest. You can express your fears about the production of a film but at this point; there is no point. What’s done is done. We just have to see what how it turns out.

Yes, I am a little annoyed that a film that is supposed to be part of a Superman franchise is now being shared with a fan boy favourite (Batman) and is serving up as a Justice League foundation, but bitching about it won’t change anything.

All I’ll say is that I no longer see it as a Man Of Steel sequel.

So, what did you think of Man Of Steel? Do you agree with my post? Or with Max Landis?

Also, what do you make of the title of the “sequel”, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Comments please!!

MUSIC I’M CURRENTLY LISTENING TO…

Greetings all!!

Part of my blogging routine will be for me to post a list of new music I’ve been listening to and give a quick summary of what I like about the music.

Now, some of the songs may be from a few years ago and I’ve only just stumbled upon them so they’re “new” in my eyes and some of them are genuinely new pieces of music that has been released that I actually like.

(***Note: Though this will be a regular thing, I won’t post this type of blog every week as I don’t come across new music on that regular of a basis and it’ll be pointless to talk about one track a week. Instead I’d prefer to give a list of tracks per month. Also, I don’t have a ratings system of this section, because this list is in my view, a pick of the best bunch of new music I’ve heard***)

And hopefully you will have found something new and you’ll like them too.

1. Disco//Very by Warpaint

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This first pick is also my stand out track of the last few weeks.

I stumbled onto this song a few days mainly out of curiosity. I had heard music from Warpaint before but I wasn’t a massive fan of their music because, while it is very mellow and slow it didn’t grab me apart from maybe the track Elephants.

But lately I read reviews on their new album, Warpaint, and there was some hype slowly building around them. So I decided to give them another try.

Then I heard Disco///Very.

It’s so good to see them up the tempo with their music. The moment I heard the bass come in on this track I was immediately hooked.

What makes this song work so beautifully is how simply it is arranged, and yet sounds so wonderfully complex. I’m no expert in music here but that’s one of the reasons why I love this song. And the vocals are incredible.

Good job ladies.

This song encouraged me to try the album, and it’s always a good sign when in an album you can always pick more than one track to be as your favourite. I hope Warpaint do more up tempo songs because they’ve done a fine job here.

(I posted a link for the music video below. The video goes onto the track Keep It Healthy, which is another song on the album I’m a fan of.)

2. Balloons (Kieran Hebden Remix) by Foals

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This is an oldie but a goody. I found this a couple of weeks ago. I’m a fan of Foals. And I always enjoy it when a Kieran Hebden remix is made of their tracks.  I’m genuinely of remixes all together. And I love Hebden’s remix of Tron.

And with this remix of Balloons, this was no exception.

It’s one of those tracks I don’t really have a lot to say on it, other than it’s just fantastically well put together. Hebden’s Foals remixes are always lengthy but that’s what makes them so wonderful.

Like fixing clockwork or putting together a piece of pure artistry, it comes together intricately, each piece progressively chiming in to produce a larger, grander picture that makes the sound protruding from your headphones that much richer and that much more precious.

This remix, alongside that of Hebden’s remix of Tron, places you in an atmosphere of your own. In my eyes it’s a thinking man’s remix and I that’s what I like about these remixes. When I listen to them I’m calmed down and placed into a world of my own, to gather my own thoughts and process calming thoughts.

3. Arp #1 by Jackson And His Computerband

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This wasn’t the song I was going to pick from Jackson And His Computerband’s album Glow, but considering it was one of the other tracks on the album I liked that I could find that was available with a YouTube link.

The song I wanted to pick and was my absolute favourite was Blow, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a link for it.

Nonetheless, this song, and in fact the album, is fantastic. The songs are so wonderfully complex that you just can’t help but like them. Standout tracks include G.I. JaneBlood Bust, Pump and More.

If Arp #1 sounds familiar to you, then you my friend, have been playing Grand Theft Auto V, because in all honesty, I wouldn’t have found this song without that game and Soulwax FM.

And speaking of Soulwax…

4. Under The Covers Volume 3 by Soulwax

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This is 59 minutes and 52 seconds of pure musical adventure.

The songs put together on this piece range from so many different genres and would seem odd playing each of them one after the other but what Soulwax have done here is that they’ve blended these songs together so well that it wouldn’t make sense that they weren’t playing together.

It hops from Arctic Monkeys to Prince to The Rapture to Goose in seamless effort that I would find it hard to believe that someone could not dance or enjoy at least one segment of this piece.

What’s so great about this entire remix compilation is how it makes you so focused at anything you are doing. I have authored so many essays while listening to this compilation. It sucks you in from the off. You could be putting together a report for work while listening to this and still have a great time listening to it. It packs two jobs in one.

Ignore the video though….well at least the first 15 minutes because it is a bit strange. So…look at your own peril. Link below:

5. Men by The Dodos

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Last up in this track by The Dodos. Like Disco//Very, it is arranged with a beautiful rhythmic simplicity that you just can’t help but fall immediately in love with it.

What is so striking about this elegantly easy song is the personality it has with it. It has aggression. It has charm. It has beauty. From lead singer Meric Long roaring at you at certain points of the track to the empathetic chords being strummed to compose this piece, there is not a single falsehood I can think of in regard to it.

To not like this song should be a crime.

For me, I feel The Dodos are a hugely underrated band. All their songs are easy in nature but they all come off superbly well. Every single one of their albums have been consistently brilliant. Their song Fools is the song they are most known for, but having listened to them, there is more to this band.

Of all the artists on this list I would implore that more people should be listening to this band in especially. You won’t regret.

Just don’t hate yourself for not finding them at an earlier point in life…

And that’s my list for this month.

Thanks for reading and I hope there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. If you’ve got any recommendations comment below with your suggestion.

Thanks and keep reading!!!

LET NATURE TAKE IT’S COURSE…

Greetings all!!!

So, this is my second post and I think these posts will be up on a regular weekly basis. So for anyone who reads or follows my blog, every Friday I’ll have between 1 to 3 posts up for you to enjoy!

Now, onto this week’s first post!

Another week brings with it another blockbuster, and this week was the turn of Godzilla. While I enjoyed the film there were two minor problems I had with the film, the first of which is split into two parts.

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(***SPOILERS AHEAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED. DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN THE MOVIE OR YOU DON’T CARE IF THE PLOT OF A FILM/SERIES IS RUINED FOR YOU***)

Amongst Godzilla, the other blockbusters I have seen this year include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Cap’s second outing was brilliant. Spidey’s second outing was good but I was disappointed at some points. What I couldn’t help but notice about these three films in particular was how misleading their trailers were.

Bare with me for a second.

Whilst I do understand that trailers aren’t supposed to give too much of a film away, with Captain America, the trailer I feel, completely undersold the movie. When I first saw the trailer, I didn’t see anything that really grabbed my attention and blew me away. I was expecting it to be an average film just to fill the void between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

But boy wasn’t I wrong.

Then, with ASM2, the significance of The Rhino to the plot of the movie was oversold by it’s several trailers. And, with Godzilla I got that same feeling. The role of Bryan Cranston’s character was displayed in the trailer as a coherently significant part of the film. I thought his character would make it to the end.

By at least the first 45 minutes, Cranston was gone.

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But that wasn’t the thing I was a bit troubled by. Hell, I would be lying to you if I said that Cranston wasn’t part of the reason why I went to see the movie. What I was slightly annoyed about, and this is me nitpicking here, was how the film was advertised in the trailer as a non-stop monster mayhem flick.

Instead, the movie featured the central human characters trying to avoid death at every cost, including trying to survive a train falling off a broken track or a bus full of kids attempting to escape a collapsing bridge as the army and Godzilla battle MUTO’s. Every time Godzilla would get into a bout, the film would close it off and switch to a news report of the battles taking place.

Now, while I appreciate film as an art form and I didn’t mind that the film did this, I can imagine a lot of people who, on a Friday night, are looking for a 2 hour mindless action destruction fest, end up being pissed at the movie for not giving them what they wanted.

The people paid to see Godzilla get down and rumble.

However, to the film’s credit, I think if they had shown every single one of Godzilla’s battles with the MUTO’s, after the second one I might have gotten bored because it would turn into one of those; “too many fireworks ruined the party” situations. And maybe that’s why as awesome as Pacific Rim is, I don’t think I could watch it again because the film is clustered with a bit too much monster vs monster (or giant robot) action.

Less is more.

My second issue with the film is in regard to the human characters and the outcome of their fates. Now, when it comes to disaster movies, I always hate it when it reaches a “happy” ending. In most disaster movies, by “happy” I don’t mean that the disaster is necessarily over, but by “happy”, I mean that most of the central characters at the heart of the film’s story somehow miraculously make it out alive. And reunite happily with their loved ones.

This has been the case in a lot of Roland Emmerich movies. Yes, I’m talking about you, Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and even Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

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I know I’m coming off as a bit cold-hearted, but come on! We’re now living in a time where cinema-goers want to see their films and their stories grounded in reality. For arguments sake, if a disaster occurred in the same vein as the movies I’ve just mentioned, can you honestly say so many people would accomplish that happy ending?

And when watching Godzilla, I thought the story was thinking amongst those lines. Bryan Cranston’s wife in the film is tragically gone at the start of the movie, and like I said, Cranston also meets a  heart breaking fate early in the film.

But the fate of his son, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, his son’s wife (portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen) and their son by the end of the film is that they are tearfully reunited even though the city has been levelled by Godzilla’s battle with the two MUTO’s. Endings like that take out the realism from the film and make it seem a little cheesy.

Yeah it sounds bad that I wanted at least one more central character to meet an untimely end but like I said, realistic circumstances and all that jazz…

That’s not to say the film is without it’s merits. The film’s first trailer mislead us to believe that Godzilla was the creature that had to be taken down because it looked like it was threat to mankind. So it was refreshing to see the giant lizard used as nature’s response to balancing out forces that was causing harm to the earth and it’s inhabitants.

Letting nature take it’s course…

9355740_600x338 On the acting front everyone played their roles well. Cranston, as always, gives a magnetic performance that has you pulled into the narrative and the characters. Maybe that’s why I’m a little pissed he wasn’t in the film for a huge portion of it, because none of the other characters filled that void.

Ken Watanabe spent most of the film with his jaw hung open in awe, whilst Taylor-Johnson, though you rooted for him to get back to his family, was quite stoic throughout the run of the film. His most memorable moments came when he had to convey some emotional depth, especially in his scenes with Cranston.

Elizabeth Olsen also gave a good performance but unfortunately we didn’t see a lot of her in the movie to judge her on.

Without a doubt, Godzilla is going to get compared with Pacific Rim, and there were some parts of the former I preferred to the latter. Godzilla was well filmed, which made the action sequences a lot more watchable and in all honesty I preferred Godzilla‘s action sequences to Pacific Rim‘s set pieces.

To reiterate; less is more…

While Godzilla‘s action was more on the human side, if I had to pick between the climactic sky diving scene in Godzilla to any Kaiju fight scene in Pacific Rim, I would happily pick the scene belonging to Gareth Edwards; picture. The execution of the Godzilla sky dive was superbly simple, yet while watching it at my local IMAX screen I found it to be incredibly breathtaking, especially when Taylor-Johnson’s Ford Brody dives alongside Godzilla’s gigantic scaly surface.

Overall, I enjoyed Godzilla. It’s amongst the other strong candidates in the summer blockbuster pile this year. Like I said, it will be compared to Pacific Rim on a lot of occasions, but it does stand on it’s own two feet and proves to be a film that is unique and different in it’s own right.

3.5/5

 

THOUGHTS ON…SUPERMAN VS BATMAN. OR BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. OR MAN OF STEEL 2 (Whatever is your preference)

Greetings all!

This is my first blog post and what a topic to start on!

So, we all know what has happened in the last few months.

Man of Steel got a sequel. The sequel would have Batman. Ben Affleck will play Batman. Gal Gadot got cast as Wonder Woman. Jeremy Irons will play Alfred Pennyworth. Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luthor.

And, just yesterday, director Zack Snyder shared a small first glimpse of what the project would look like by revealing the new Batsuit on Twitter, demonstrated below.

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Now, a lot of the reception towards this upcoming project has been negative, to say the least. And it is understandable.

Being a comic book fan, hell, being a Superman fan, I have quite a lot to get off my chest about the project and I decided that now, I just might do that.

Anyone expecting a full on nerdy rant, you have been forewarned. Yes. It will be nerdy. But no. This is not a rant. This instead, is a much more impartial view on the project. So here goes…

In terms of casting, I understand some of the preconceived fears, but, with the possible exception of the Eisenberg/Lex Luthor casting, it isn’t all that disastrous. I personally think that Ben Affleck was a smart, nay, very safe choice.

Considering who else was in the running for the role, this wasn’t by any means a bad choice. No disrespect to the following actors, but would you rather have had Orlando Bloom or Armie Hammer play Batman? I get that a lot of fans wanted Josh Brolin, and sure he looks the part, but I wouldn’t have been entirely confident if he was chosen. And I know Affleck has it within him to pull off the billionaire playboy side to Batman. Plus, from yesterday’s picture, he sure looks the part as Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.

The other casting for me is this: Gal Gadot was another sensible choice. I personally would have picked Gemma Arterton for Wonder Woman but Gadot remains a good choice. My only gripe is that Wonder Woman is even in the movie.

I’m on the fence with Jeremy Irons, but like Affleck, I think in time we’ll see him show us what he’s made of.

Of course, the casting of Lex Luthor is the one that throws me off slightly.

I’m not saying Jesse Eisenberg is a bad actor. On the contrary, he’s one of the best young actors out there. In every film I’ve seen him in, I’ve found him to be highly like-able and he always delivers a terrific performance, especially in The Social Network. Also, he, alongside Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson made Now You See Me, slightly more watchable.

Unfortunately, I just don’t see him as one of the greatest and most fearsome super-villain in comic book history.

Casting aside, my gripes with this film are not necessarily with the casting and characters, but with what they plan to do with the movie. From seeing yesterday’s picture of Affleck in the Batsuit it is evidently clear how much Snyder wants to subtly bring Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns to life. And we all know what happens in that comic:

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And that’s where I have a problem…

Yes, I did say earlier that I am a Superman fan. He is my favourite of all the comic book characters. And, not to be biased here, but if, (for the sake of this post) in Man of Steel 2, Batman, having just met Superman, defeats him in the manner he does in Miller’s book, or in any other manner whatsoever, I will walk the hell out of that movie.

Why?

When someone asks me; “Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman?”. I always think of one of my favourite scenes in another Snyder associated project, Watchmen. During the climactic confrontation between Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias, Manhattan says to Ozymandias:

“The world’s smartest man poses no more threat to me, than does it’s smartest termite”.

And I feel that quote applies to a confrontation between Batman and Superman. Especially as Snyder intends to have the two characters face off against each other at some point in the movie.

There is no way Batman stands a chance against a man who is bulletproof. Against a man who can move quicker than Batman can blink.   Against a man who could punch him into orbit. You thought Bane’s breaking of the Bat was brutal? When Batman’s going up against Superman not only could it end up being brutal, but the fight would reach an abrupt resolution.

And believe me.

It will be quick.

If Batman manages to beat Superman in their first ever on-screen bout, it’ll be like saying Michael Cera will win in a straight up fist fight against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (once again, I mean no disrespect).

To reiterate, Superman can’t be taken down by ordinary weapons, so how in the hell will Batman beat Superman? Especially as Snyder has yet to introduce Kryptonite to his cinematic universe. In fact, in the Snyderverse, even Superman himself doesn’t yet know that he is vulnerable to krptonite. So how is Batman going to find that one out?

It’s not just the fact that a Batman victory would make no logical sense, but I feel a Batman victory is ultimately playing up to the mass crowd of worlwide Batman fanboys, which, today, seems to be every single person you and I know.

Post Batman & Robin (yes, you know the film I speak of), no one would proudly admit to being a Batman fan. Since Nolan’s brilliant Dark Knight trilogy, everyone and their 86 year old Grandma now claims that they have been a Batman fan for all of their existence.

Unless he’s been living under a rock, Snyder probably knows that Batman has a bigger appeal and fan base than Superman has at this current moment of time, and what will Batman fans love most? To see broody Bruce Wayne knock the stuffing out of goody two shoes super-alien Clark Kent.

In the context of The Dark Knight Returns, I can grudgingly admit that Batman’s victory was well deserved for a few reasons.

Frank Miller was smart in making both Bruce and Clark older men. What this did was that with age Batman had become wiser, not to mention, due to the fact that he knows Superman on a personal level, he knows how Clark would think in combat. He knows Clark’s vulnerabilities. Bruce, with age, has become more experienced in confrontations against everyone’s favourite Kryptonian.

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Therefore, with all that, Bruce would know exactly what he needs to do to take Clark down.

The Dark Knight Returns was not just a brilliant study of Batman, but what made it a great graphic novel was that it also understood Superman as a character. And I’m not just talking his monologue within the tale.

Miller knows Superman still sees Batman as an ally, not an enemy. Miller knew that if it came to it, Clark Kent would still hold back in a duel against his friend; Bruce Wayne. Before the showdown ever took place, Miller had Clark, in typical heroic manner, warn Bruce that:

“It’s like this Bruce — sooner or later, somebody’s going to order me to bring you in. Somebody with authority. When that happens…”

And that’s why I’m not totally angry with Batman’s TDKR victory. Because, at the root of all the tension there was a just reason for why they had to throw down. And I don’t see why they would have to face off when they just met each other on-screen.

Like I said earlier, if the scuffle goes down, and Batman wins, I’m done, because the film becomes an ultimate pledge to the Batboys everywhere when it really is supposed to be a Superman sequel.

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However, I will say this to anyone who has their doubts:

Wait to see more production news and or photos. More costume unveilings and eventually a trailer. And still, I would implore that if you truly love comics, you should at least go and see this film when it is eventually released.

We have finally been given the opportunity to see two of the most iconic and important comic book characters of all time share the screen together for the first time, and I think it’ll be a shame to pass it up.

This has been my first post. I hope I didn’t bore you to death with my fanboyism. There’s a lot more I want to say but I think this is a fair amount. Hope you become interested in what I write and read my next posts…