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Jersey Boys (2014)
One of the biggest disappointments of the year
The Good: I love Jersey Boys, it's one of my all time favourite stage musicals. And when I heard the cast was mainly Broadway stars, I was excited. And these guys did really well bringing their characters to life. The musical renditions are well performed too, Sherry was a highlight and some of the songs fit really well into the story.
The Bad: The biggest problem with the film is when you compare it to it's source material. The stage show is really fun, very funny and exciting. The film however tries to keep it grounded, and in doing so the film was really boring! A lot of that comes from the directing: Clint Eastwood was the wrong choice to direct, it needed someone who could bring the energy of the stage show to the screen and he failed to do that. A lot of the songs, although well performed, seem to stop the movie just to have a musical number that has no semblance to the plot. Lastly, of all the actors in the film that do well, Christopher Walken does not. None of his lines sound natural and he sticks out like a sore thumb, easily one of the worst casting choices in the film.
The Verdict: Despite some good acting, good music and staying true to the plot of the stage show, it couldn't keep me awake for me to enjoy. Not what I expect from the best musical in recent history.
WrestleMania XXX (2014)
As one era ends, another begins!
Match by match review of WrestleMania. Warning: there be spoilers!
Opening: Hulk Hogan opened and was soon joined by Stone Cold and The Rock. Fanboys everywhere were freaking out! Great way to start the show.
1. Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. Daniel Bryan Fantastic match to kick off the night. Bryan looked fantastic as always and HHH kept the pressure on. Defiantly one of the top matches of the night. Bryan got the pinfall and went on to the main event.
2. The New Age Outlaws & Kane vs. The Shield Not a lot to say about this one. Spot fest early on, Roman Reigns once again looked like a beast. Shield won after a triple powerbomb on the Outlaws. Quick and disappointing but great to see Reigns.
3. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Your standard battle royal but an incredible spot for Cesaro, scooping the Big Show over the top rope and picking up the win. Very impressed with the guy! Kofi Kingston also got another lucky escape spot, always fun watching Kofi work.
4. Bray Wyatt (w/ Luke Harper & Eric Rowan) vs. John Cena A damn good match, good to see Cena get his crazy on. Bray had some great moments, he's really a psychotic mess, such fun to watch. But of course Cena overcame the threat and beat Bray. Great match, disappointing finish.
5. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker Always look forward to the streak match, but was quite disappointed this time. Taker looked slower this time, but that's age (and a spot that injured him early on). But of course, I always knew that Taker would overcome and continue the streak, and sure enough, Lesnar won.... wait what? I honestly never saw that coming and I don't think anyone else did! WTF?!?! Who's gonna carry WrestleMania now? I hope it's not the last we see of him.
6. Diva's Championship Invitational I'm getting to realise that some of these Divas are really good performers, particularly AJ, just wish the match wasn't so cluttered and they got to show of their skills more. AJ won and retained her title.
7. WWE World Heavyweight Championship - Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan Here we go, the Viper vs. the Beard vs. the old guy no-one wanted to be in this match. It was pretty damn good, even Batista looked like his old self. There was a great spot where Bryan was Powerbombed through the table while Orton RKOed at the same time, which ended with Orton landing back-first on the monitor, looked pretty nasty. Triple H and Stephanie interfered but Bryan fought them off and finally made Batista tap out to become the new champion. A well deserved victory.
THE VERDICT One of the best WrestleManias in a while, impressive performances by Bryan, Cesaro, Reigns and Wyatt. The future of the company truly has started along with a fond farewell to a beloved legend.
Disney's on a major roll, and Frozen hits the mountain top!
THE GOOD. After seeing this movie a second time, I like it even more. It's just a glorious masterpiece of animation! But lets go into the details: the main characters, Anna and Elsa are very well written and well developed characters, especially compared to previous Disney princesses (who they take a jab at occasionally). Anna is an incredibly fun princess and Elsa is quite tragic but still very relatable. The other characters are great, even Olaf the snowman, the character that everyone thought they would hate turned out to be very funny! The story is very well thought out and nothing is said or done that isn't revisited. There is two twists at the end that are very unexpected and fit the story perfectly, nothing like the story I thought I'd see. A big staple of Disney has always been the music, and Frozen's soundtrack, orchestral and songs, surpass the standard. "Let it Go", "First Time in Forever", "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman", all the songs are fantastic and memorable. The songs here give Beauty and the Beast a run for its money! And as usual from Disney, the animation is beautiful. The environments seem very Skyrim-esque, the graphics of the ice is flawless.
THE BAD. I don't have much to complain about but there are a couple of things that distract me. Even though the animation is amazing some of the textures they use for characters and various things seem a little low- res. "Fixer-Upper" is quite a pointless song, as fun as it is. And the film seems to take quite a few queues from the X-Men films, from the basic setup to some of the shots the film uses.
THE BOTTOM LINE People say this is up there with Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid, and well... they're right. It's gorgeously animated, fantastic music, memorable characters and great story. Frozen will surely stand the test of time as one of Disney's greatest.
Monsters University (2013)
I'm guess the "4th Grade" line is gonna be ignored?....OK
THE GOOD This is one of the Pixar films that didn't need another film and yet somehow it got one! Still that doesn't mean it's bad. The favourite characters are back and I got a warm feeling seeing them and the factory again, same as seeing the Shire in the Hobbit film. The plot ends up pretty standard "jock and nerd team up" college film until the middle where the personas are switched, and the climax and ending of the film is very fun and thought provoking. The Scare Games scenes are all great fun and can be really tense sometimes. The main monsters, Mike and Sulley are good, Helen Mirren as the dean is a good character with a cool design. I love the score, the college brass band brought a great feel in the film. And of course, the animation is awesome, I like the little touches and tributes to real universities, like the huge clock tower, an obvious reference the Birmingham University tower.
THE BAD The story itself, aside from the ending is very simple, kind of standard college movie. There's recycled characters like the jock, the nerds, the bullies, etc. The dean herself tho I like the performance and design is a bit too unrealistic character-wise. Why would a dean accept a bet from a student and add a stipulation that threatens his place in the school even though she believes that student will flat out fail? Isn't it her job to help the students? And it's just missing that Pixar spark that's been missing since Cars 2.
THE VERDICT Overall, I like this film but it doesn't feel like that classic Pixar that I grew up with. I just hope that they'll get it back soon. But judging by this film, it may be the first step on the road to recovery.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
An epic fantasy within an epic game!
Normally I do a Good, Bad and Verdict on my written reviews but in the case of this game, aside from a few minor bugs and nitpicks, I can't think of any complaints about this game. This is pretty much my perfect game!
There are so many stories in this game, all of them really work well and in no way conflict with one-another, and with a game this big with so many stories within it, that must have been really tough. The main quest is very intriguing and builds to an awesome finish. Even the side quests and the downloadable content is very good, my personal favourite of these being the Dawnguard questline, though that is largely due to the new characters but will mention that in a bit.
The world is absolutely beautiful, from the snowy environments and forests to the dungeons and caves. The detail in the world is immense and you could tell the team behind the game put everything they had into it, creating a unique land and filling it with unique characters and creatures. The Dawnguard expansion had some of the best environments not just in this game but in any game. The Forgotten Vale is unbelievably beautiful and it's extenuated by the musical score. I've heard that Jeremy Soule is the John Williams of video games and before this game I didn't think much of him. But in this game I'm completely sold on him and it feels like the timing and mixing is spot on. When you see something beautiful or threatening you get the perfect musical accompaniment for it. Obviously the main theme is epic, one of my favourite pieces of music of all time.
As for the characters, despite having a lot of the same voices, they make up for in creating distinct personalities, including Lydia, the character everyone remembers. Though there are very unique characters with big name voice artists, like Christopher Plummer as Arngier, Joan Allen as Delphine and my favourite character Serana played by Laura Bailey. She has one of the best (if not THE best) back stories in the entire game, she has a great conflict and I love her interactions and reactions in the world. The enemies are awesome too, I love Alduin as the main villain, I love the Daedric Princes (Sheogorath and Clavicus Vile are my favs), I love Miraak and the other dragon priests, and even the dragons you fight can provide a major challenge.
As for the character you control, he's anything you want him or her to be. You can just ignore the main questline and do your own thing. You don't even have to kill things, you can just go around and help people out and build your own house (with Hearthfire). Or you can even go around and literally do everything in the game and that's what a great sandbox game should do in my opinion. I love the enormous variety of weapons and armours and general clothing you can get in the game, my favourite combo being Ebony Mail, ebony gauntlets and boots, Zahkriisos the dragon priest mask, Nordic arrows and either the Ebony Bow or Ebony Blade. Kickass dark assassin look!
I only have two issues with the game. One is the bugs and there are quite a few of them but with such a huge game there's bound to be a few. The other is the dragon riding mechanics they introduced in Dragonborn. It doesn't give you the freedom I wanted, and it's something that another one of my favourite games, Drakan the Ancient's Gates, trumps Skyrim. I desperately wanted something like that in the game but for what I got I liked it fine, especially seeing the world from that height.
My verdict: It's my all time favourite game, I can't praise this game enough. I love it so much I'm actually gonna buy the Legendary Edition on PC so I can have everything for the game plus the Creation Kit so I can put my personal mark on the game. I haven't stopped playing it since I got it and I ain't slowing down now!
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Didn't mind it at first...but now I think about it....
THE GOOD I'm gonna state the obvious thing first in that the film itself looks gorgeous, it's very grand and full of epic spectacles and amazing set pieces. Some of the songs are done very nicely, Wishing you were Somehow Here Again and Prima Donna spring to mind, others were OK. The acting from some of the actors are alright, Emmy Rossum is the acting highlight of the film. And hearing the score with a full orchestra is a plus in my book.
THE BAD There are two main problems with the film. One is Gerard Butler, his acting is substandard but his singing is appalling, it's so monotone and flat that you can't help but mock it. The other big problem is Joel Schumacher, his directing is poor indeed. The choices he made with the characters sucked all like-ability and interest out of them. Take Carlotta for example, in the stage show she comes across as a brilliant singer who wants perfection and is overwhelmed when something goes wrong. In the film she's played more like a spoilt brat with an over-the-top voice who do anything to get in the spotlight and the other characters encourage it! Other problems include the songs being turned into dialogue and dialogue being turned into either whispering or growling by Butler. The look of the Phantom doesn't look right either, the mask is more a fashion item and the deformation looks more like a slight burn.
THE BOTTOM LINE A lot to rant about for me but not enough time to write it all. Altogether there's enough treats for the eyes to make me glad I saw it once, just in future I might put the mute on.
Crash Canyon (2011)
A very poor Family Guy rip off
Lets get this out of the way first, aside from the various other cartoons it rips off, Crash Canyon is trying so hard to be Canada's Family Guy that it get very distracting.
The setting is very restricted. Being stuck down a canyon means this sitcom is stuck with the same situation which leads to the plots becoming very stale.
The jokes are the same as Family Guy: cutaways. And by the same I mean they use exact the same jokes as Family Guy. The worst thing is I think they know their humour isn't working so when they think the audience is supposed to laugh they put in an obnoxious musical cue. That's desperation.
The characters a bland. Again so many characters ripped off from Family Guy, Simpsons, American Dad, the list goes on.
And of all things the theme song is irritating beyond belief. So much high pitched singing!
Bottom line: It's crap. Limiting premise, failed jokes and poor animation. Wanna watch something exactly the same but funnier? Watch Family Guy.
Pretty good. But.....
It's a shame Charlie Sheen did what he did. There could have been many more memorable moments with him in the show. Still, life goes on and a new character is introduced.
First lets kick off with Charlie's demise. It was a very in-character, if not gruesome, way to go, implying very much that another character murdered him. The funeral itself, although chuckle worthy, didn't really portray any real sadness from Charlie's relatives. It was pretty cool to see some of Charlie's old girlfriends again. And it was only natural that there was no other emotions from them other than anger towards him because of the way the character was with them all.
Then the introduction of Walden Schmidt. A very interesting way of bringing him in but not really the way I envisioned the character. He seemed to be a bit slow and dumb for a billionaire. He's pretty good but I'll wait for the second half to give my full verdict of the character. The big issue is the writer seems to be trying to inject "The Big Bang Theory" into the show and, let's be honest, that show SUCKS! I hope it doesn't turn into that and the show keeps it's own unique style.
Aside from these, Jake was unfunny, Alan was funny, the other characters were their usual selves. Not too bad at the moment. I'll watch the second half and see where things go.