Star Wars Rebels Season Two

I have seen some news that will make my daughter very happy; season two of Star Wars Rebels starts later this month! The bad news; we don’t have any of the Disney Channels so we can’t watch it until it comes out on DVD.

Bugger.

Ruby has surprised me a little bit by becoming a bit of a Star Wars fan. We’ve watched, together, the original trilogy and she loved it. I asked for Star Wars Rebels for Christmas, and we’ve raced through the whole series. It is very good, and Ruby has thoroughly enjoyed watching it with me. It’s a shame we won’t get to watch it for a while.

Anyway, here is the trailer:

 

We haven’t got The Clone Wars yet. That’s six seasons of Star Wars goodness to come. We think Ruby is a bit too young for the prequels just now (maybe next year) and certainly too young for the new one. In the meantime, I’m glad that she likes a bit of Space Opera. I should try her with something else, but most SciFi isn’t really aimed at six year-olds.

 

Sense8 Season One

We finished this excellent series tonight. Netflix is producing some wonderful telly these days and, after a slow start, this series has turned out to be a highlight from the last year.

It was full of well-drawn characters, interesting storylines and fascinating locations. It must have cost a fortune to make, and it was well worth it. It’s one of the more diverse casts – a good racial mix with some gay (and one trans) protagonists – and it has some exceptional, if very violent, fight scenes.

Looking forward to Season Two!

Mega Shark v Giant Octopus

If you thought that Snakes On A Plane was a huge pile of nonsense, I suspect that you might think similarly of the amazingly named Mega Shark v Giant Octopus:

Oh my word! It makes Snakes look like a Kenneth Branagh-produced lovvieathon.

Must see this, if only because Debbie Gibson is in it

Get some adamantium up yer

Life has been pretty hectic around here recently, resulting in reduced blog post frequency and lack of fun time. I’ve had loads going on, especially with Open University, band and work taking up most of my free time.

I’ve even found that I’m on the intertubes much less than previously, which is a distressing thing to happen to a guy at the best of times.

Still, we managed to fit in some “us” time the other weekend and decided to go and see a pleasant, little film called Wolverine.

We both liked the X-Men films, even if the third one was a little daft, and Wolverine was our favourite character from those movies. Well, he would be for Jo because she loves Australian men for some reason – I just liked him for his impressive lambers.

Wolverine, the film, is an impressive affair. It fills in quite a bit of backstory hinted at from the X-Men films so far and does the fight scenes with plenty of guts and glory. Logan’s Brother is brilliantly played by Liev Schreiber and much of the supporting cast are as butch, and as funny, as you’d hope.

It takes itself a little too seriously, perhaps, but I think it’s the best X-Men film so far. Ace.

As this is an “X-Men Origins” film, you have to wonder who they’re going to do next. I’m thinking an Xavier/Magneto double header (they were friends in the past). I’d go see that, for sure.

Chico, Chico the Rainmaker

Some things remain in the memory for a long time. I have no idea why but one Children’s Film Foundation series really buried itself in my psyche:

Chico the Rainmaker. I remember going along to our local cinema (The Lounge in Headingley) to watch the matinée screenings. This was one of my favourite programs for some reason. Probably all down to that catchy little theme tune.

Happy days!

The End is Nigh

I succeeded in getting exceptionally wet during my short walk into work this morning. It was raining, which is normal for this country but not something I particularly look forward to at six o’clock in the morning.

It seems that we’re currently experiencing “the worst storm of the winter” according to the BBC. This same storm has deposited large amounts of snow of the USA and is now making with the rain-clouds over here.

Emergency services said trees had been uprooted and power lines brought down in south-west England, where winds have reached almost 80mph (130km/h).

Severe flood warnings have been issued for the Devon and Cornwall coast. In St Brides, Newport, 170 people were told to evacuate a caravan park overnight.

Meanwhile, forecasters say central Scotland will see blizzards and snow.

The Environment Agency is urging people to stay away from exposed coastal areas and to check for flood warnings in their area.

This storm is well timed – we ended up watching Flood last night on DVD. The actors in that film, including Robert Carlisle, managed to end up very wet too as the UK was subjected to a freak storm. That fictional storm had also started off by buffeting the good ole’ US of A but had somehow managed to make its way over the north of Scotland and down the east coast. I suppose flooding London is more dramatic than, say, Newquay.

Unfortunately, Flood is utter shite. The BBC reviewer has inexplicably given it three stars but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a film with worse dialogue. Everything is so staged and there’s a lot of shouting from concerned Commissioners and Deputy Prime Ministers but I just couldn’t care about any of the characters. Even Robert Carlisle seemed off form.

The plot was chock-full of contrived twists, throwing every film cliché you could imagine into the mix. It was painful to watch at times and I was kind of hoping that everyone would drown.

I really wouldn’t bother watching it at all.

Ross Kemp in Afghanistan

I have a confession to make – I used to watch Eastenders. I didn’t want to but you tend to get over-ruled when your other half insists. Still, that was a while ago and I no longer have to watch such depressing drivel.

However, every now and again you find an actor from the UK’s most “realistic” soap popping up on something else. Sometimes they’re really good – like Shaun Williamson in Extras – and sometimes they’re really bad. I didn’t think that Ross Kemp would be capable of doing anything even half-decent but I’m pleased to say that I was very, very wrong about that.

He won a well-deserved BAFTA for his work in Ross Kemp on Gangs – a sometimes terrifying documentary series where Kemp travels the world seeking out the violent underbelly of our culture. He finds it and it scares the shit out of him.

Not content with the level of brown-trousered-ness of that series he’s attempted to up the chance-of-death factor by following a battalion of men around in Afghanistan for a couple of months in his latest series Ross Kemp in Afghanistan. We missed the first episode but have followed it with interest from then on.

It was quite superb and this is mostly down to Kemp’s ordinariness. He’s not a flashy guy and he doesn’t have the intelligence to regale us with flowery prose – he just tells us the story straight and this particular story works wonderfully with him as our guide.

He also isn’t there to score any political points, as The Guardian reports:

He says he had empathy with the troops of the 1 Royal Anglian battalion, whom he was embedded with, as his father served in a previous incarnation of them and he comes from their part of the world.

However, he insists the series is not political, nor is it there to glamorise the fight in Afghanistan or boost support for it.

“I am not going to talk about that [the politics of the war] because that is not my job,” he says. “I believe that most people in Afghanistan, all they want to do is live their lives as they have done for centuries.”

His lack of politically-minded thinking makes this an incredibly honest program. The troops of 1st Anglian talk to him with utter candour and you can tell that he holds a lot of affection for these boys.

I was surprised to see how excited they got when about to engage the enemy, but pleased at how good their training has been. Their bravery is apparent throughout and this program brilliantly portrays their efforts in quite difficult conditions. Ross Kemp follows them on several missions, dodging bullets along the way – at least he didn’t get fired at in his Gangs series!

Kemp witnesses a misplaced bomb that accidentally kills three of his accompanying troops – a so-called “blue-on-blue incident”. The repercussions on that are crushing but the Army boys deal with their loss with amazing strength.

These deaths, and six others that happened previously, hit an emotionally-charged point in the last episode on 1st Anglian’s return to the UK. They hold a remembrance service for those killed and their families came forward to light candles in their honour. I’ve been to more than my fair share of remembrance services but I always find it hard to fight back the tears, and this one was no different.

It was an incredible series, a must-see.

Dave Gorman vs The Man

I like Dave Gorman but I don’t really know why. Not in a sexual way you understand, but in that blokey “you’re awright bud” way.

We watched his excellent film “American Unchained” the other night. This had quite an interesting concept – could he drive all the way from the west coast to the east coast of America without giving any money to The Man. Could he spend all his dollars with Mom & Pop rather than the big corporations?

You’d think that this would be an easy thing to do, but Dave discovers that Corporate America is squeezing out the traditional independent retailers from almost every town, especially those that sell fuel. It didn’t help that he bought a knackered, old station wagon from some bloke in San Francisco. The old guy insisted that it had never broken down in the 38 years that he’d had it but it became obvious immediately that it would need some attention along the way. It broke down several times and drank petrol like it a Geek goes through Mountain Dew.

Dave Gorman was utterly charming all the way through, but he’s not exactly the most enigmatic guy you could meet. He’s got that “everyman” appeal – you probably know someone just like him. He’s a bloody nice, lovely, funny bloke and he comes across as someone you’d really like if you met him. He’s a huge geek and a bit of a beardy hippy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, especially when I find myself wanting to do exactly the same thing. I really want to drive across America in an old station wagon, giving the finger to the fat corporations.

Yeah brother!

He fails, of course. His heap of a car can’t quite make it between independent fuel stops and they have to visit a pump at some chain store. He gets so depressed when he has to stay for a week in one town that he forgoes his vegetarian ways a wolfs down a rather disgusting-looking Burger King Whopper, before noisily vomiting it up again.

It’s a charming film with an interesting message – support your independent retailers!

It got me thinking about doing something similar here, or at least expanding on something that we’re already doing. We’ve been trying to buy most of our groceries from the local shops and avoiding the big supermarkets. We’re already boycotting Tesco and Esso so it’s not a big leap to try and spend as much of our money as possible with Mum & Dad, as it were.

Beeston has a number of excellent butchers and greengrocers, plus a nice, little organic supermarket where we can get all sorts of lovely food. It’s not even significantly more expensive than the supermarkets, plus we always get much better service in the smaller, independent shops. We avoid the chain cafes and coffee shops and visit the far more interesting local restaurants, plus I will always check out the real ales in the local pubs rather than the disgusting piss that most macro-breweries churn out by the tanker-full.

So, how far can we go? We really can’t get away from giving any money to The Man. We need electricity because we can’t get that supplied by Jones the Butcher. It’s the same with the Council services and, to a lesser extent, internet access. We could opt to go with a smaller ISP but we get all our home entertainment through Sky, including the phone line. Bloody Rupert Murdoch! You’d hope that he’d be one Man that I wouldn’t want to support wouldn’t you? However, their package is such good value and there isn’t really an independent alternative – we can’t get Virgin here, plus Richard Branson is just a more cuddly and nice version of The Man anyway.

I’ve managed to buy all our food for this weekend without giving any of my cash to the far corporations, and I shall continue to make this little stand in support of those lovely people that run their own shops. Bollocks to Tesco and the like, and a large middle finger to all the other profit-happy capitalist pigs out there too!

Oh, bloody hell – I’m turning into a socialist *faints*

The Bourne Ultimatum

Matt Damon makes one hell of an action hero and the Bourne series must be one of the most exciting action movie franchises in recent years. The first two Bourne films were both superb films and the third continues that level of excellence.

Jo and I saw it yesterday at Nottingham Showcase. We both really enjoyed it. It’s a cleverly-plotted film with loads of hyper-realistic fights and car crashes. Definitely worth the sitting in a dark room with a whole bunch of strangers for a couple of hours.

I did have a couple of minor issues with the film though. For a start, it’s all so po-faced. There is only one smile made in the entire film, and that’s right at the end by the intensely boring Julia Stiles. Stiles is pretty enough, but she has no charisma and isn’t really called to do any proper acting.

Matt Damon is generally good value as the rogue CIA asset but he seems to be utterly indestructible. He’s involved in the mother of all pile-ups after tangling with one CIA goon and yet climbs out of the crumpled wreckage and runs off. They seemed to have the hyper-realism turned off a couple of times in order for Damon to provide some Terminator-style survival techniques.

Damon’s even had the cheek to criticise James Bond:

Hollywood star Matt Damon has dismissed James Bond as being stuck in the past.

The actor, who appears in the Bourne thrillers, said: “The Bond character will always be anchored in the 1960s and in the values of the 1960s.”

The suave spy was “so anachronistic when you put it in the world we live in today”, he said, but added that Bourne was no better or worse than Bond.

Damn straight that “Bourne was no better or worse than Bond”. Whereas the Bourne films are wonderfully exciting films in their own right they have precisely zero humour. I can’t remember one joke in all three films. I like my spies and action heroes to have some style and humour. James Bond has provided decades-worth of classic entertainment, something I can’t image Bourne emulating.

Still, The Bourne Ultimatum is easily the best film I’ve seen all year, so if you’re wondering what to see this week then you must go and see this.

However, I wouldn’t bother going to my local Showcase. It’s a bit of a disgrace of a cinema. It’s been there for a few years now and it’s looking horribly outdated. They seem ti employ and awful lot of disinterested, scruffy teenagers that just aren’t interested in the concept of customer service.

We were sat waiting for our film to start and had to endure about 25 minutes of adverts. 25 minutes! They then preceded to start showing us the wrong film – Licence to Wed. Now, I’ve read the reviews for Licence to Wed and there is no bloody way I’d fork out £6.40 for that piece of crap. Jo went to complain about the wrong film and someone came in to tell us that they were going to sort it out.

Unfortunately they then decided to break the projector and said it’d be at least another 15 minutes before they could fix it. Luckily there was the 2 o’clock screening starting in the next screen so we were advised to go and sit in there instead. So we did. We then had to sit through another 25 minutes of adverts.

This didn’t make us particularly impressed. Once we’d watched the film Jo complained about the series of events. We wouldn’t go back there again at all but we managed to get some free tickets out if them, so we’ll probably end up back there again sooner or later.

The UCI in town is much nicer if a little less convenient for us to get to. Either way, the Showcase is most definitely not our favourite cinema – too old, too dated and poor customer care. Go elsewhere.