Movies: Skyscraper Review

July 15, 2018

There’s a lot about Skyscraper that is ridiculous.

Examples include

  • The cheesy dialogue.
  • The incredibly obvious villains who we’re not supposed to realise are villains.
  • Main character Will Sawyer’s continuous super-human physical fitness in spite of only having one leg and picking up numerous serious injuries on his arms and torso as events unfold.
  • The fact he has one leg for no other reason than so at one point he can rip off and throw it at a door to stop it from closing.
  • The bit where he doesn’t bother to save his daughter at the same time as the rest of his family just so that the film can be dragged out longer.
  • The way the villains tried to steal Will’s tablet at the harbour when they must have known they’d need his facial print to unlock it.
  • The hall of mirrors on the roof that appears to have no functioning purpose to the skyscraper other than setting up the confrontation at the end.
  • The way that the entire film is a set-up for a ‘did you turn it off and on again’ punchline.

I mean…if you really look deeply at it, Skyscraper doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

But I think to come away from it unhappy with its ridiculous elements is mean-spirited.

If you take it for what it is – a daft action movie that combined elements of The Towering Inferno and Die Hard – then it’s perfectly enjoyable. It’s my type of ‘popcorn’ movie.

And it’s an easy watch as well; you won’t get bored, and you’ll have a few laughs.

So this is one that I would recommend.

 

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Movies – Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review

June 16, 2018

Sometimes its nice to have another person’s insight into the merits of a movie.

Left to me, I was a little bit short on things to say about Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom; I just thought it was a pretty generic Hollywood blockbuster where the only significant aspect was that it wasn’t just the same old same old in terms of the Jurassic Park franchise. This one wasn’t about a theme park experience gone wrong again – I mean, how many times can they make the mistake of thinking free-roaming, man-eating dinosaurs make  for a fun tourist attraction – but rather about illegal dinosaur trafficking and the ethics of saving them from extinction again when they had no natural right to exist.

It was different – which I liked – but still unremarkable. The ethical dilemma is hardly one we can relate to in our own daily lives.

That’s not enough for a review though, so I asked my Jurassic Park aficionado girlfriend Mhairi what she thought, and she had plenty to say.

She was disappointed by it, pointing out that it didn’t deliver what a fan of the franchise wanted to see (i.e. people in a theme park being attacked by dinosaurs). She thought that there were many elements that were copied from other Jurassic Park films – elements I might add that I didn’t spot myself, which shows the difference between the casual viewer and the fan – which made it seem repetitive, and in general she didn’t think there was enough action. She wanted to be excited more than she was, and so she left a bit deflated that it wasn’t what she expected.

To be fair, she has a point there. The first time I looked at the movie poster was when I was getting it for use in this review, and it’s fair to say that it offers a false representation of what Fallen Kingdom is about. They must spent about 15 minutes in peril on the island, and the rest is set in a mansion somewhere in the USA. It’s a misleading poster.

So to sum up, while on the one hand we were at odds – what I thought was a worthwhile change, she saw as a negative – where we both agree was that it wasn’t that good.

Though it wasn’t boring, it did feel lethargic and lacking in excitement, and certainly it wasn’t as good as Jurassic World.

I get the feeling six months down the line we’ll both have forgotten we even went.

 


Movies – Solo: A Star Wars Story (or “Enjoyable, But The Genre Might Be Getting Stale”)

May 26, 2018

If you are familiar with the franchise the you’re not going to be too surprised by the plot of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Being that this is about the early days of the eponymous star of the movie, it obviously features key moments from his backstory, including…

  • How he met Chewbacca
  • How he won the Millenium Falcon in a game of cards from Lando Calrissian
  • How he made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs

And just like Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, finding out how things we already knew about actually happened is part of the fun.

I certainly enjoyed it, although at the same time I thought it wasn’t without its faults.

On the plus side, it filled in the blanks, it had a mostly very good cast – with special mention to Alden Ehrenreich who I thought played Han Solo without me thinking it was just some guy doing an impression – and it had a that familiar Star Wars vibe to it.

On the negative side, I thought the direction was a little bit hit and miss (it was so darkly shot for the first half hour that it was difficult to make out anyone’s face), Donald Glover’s take on Lando was the exact opposite of Ehrenreich’s of Solo (it just felt like Troy from Community – as Troy from Community – doing a Lando impression) and the movie had that familiar Star Wars vibe to it.

And yes, you’ve probably read that last line and thought “Wait…what?”.

So hear me out…

I understand why Star Wars movies are the way they are; people like them…I like them. I can also see why other franchises try to leach off them, like Guardians of the Galaxy.

But with the increased regularity of these movies, how long before we get fatigued by them?

How many times can we see the same type of ragtag group of rebels with the same type of wise-cracking sidekicks, talking robots and corny romance without thinking “Let’s have something new”?

Like I say, I enjoyed it but I was becoming conscious of the fact that we’ve now seen this same thing so many times that I’m not too keen on seeing a replica of it again in the near future.

With any luck they’ll know that for the next Star Wars spin-off, there needs to be a change in vibe.

Otherwise it’ll get stale, and fast.


TV: Safe Review (or “A Netflix Show That Doesn’t Get Boring After A Few Episodes. OMG”)

May 20, 2018

The sheer volume of Netflix’s output means that it’s inevitable that some of it won’t be particularly good.

I’ve found that a number of their shows recently have been so uninspiring that I’ve given up on them in pretty short order.

Bloodline? Three episodes was enough for me to be bored into submission.

Santa Clara Diet? I watched one episode and found it wasn’t my type of humour at all.

Jessica Jones? I fell asleep every time I watched an episode of the second season and had even forgotten that I had stopped watching it before I started this article.

Designated Survivor? Knowing that it’s been cancelled, I don’t really find myself inspired to watch more than I have (which was up to the second episode of season 2 by the way).

So although Netflix has so much content, it’s fair to say that not all of it is must-see.

Of course, I could argue that it’s because of the amount of content available that I haven’t been bothered to finish watching these shows, and that Netflix’s greatest strength is the problem, but if I recall correctly, I already did a few years back (and you can read about that here)

But I bring this all up because for the first time in a while, I have managed to stumble across a new show on Netflix that immediately grabbed me, and resulted in me binge watching all eight episodes over the course of a few days.

Safe – starring Michael C. Hall as a father whose daughter has gone missing while her boyfriend has been found murdered – is actually really good and well worth a watch.

Although his English accent is immediately dodgy, you soon get used to it and that apart, it’s a well written and executed drama that manages to stay the course and – unlike so many Netflix shows – remain interesting throughout all eight episodes.

Also unlike so many other shows – Netflix or otherwise – it isn’t written with a second season in mind. It presents a mystery, it hooks the viewers in and it then answers every question by the end of the final episode.

And that’s how a show should be.

So if you’re sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs and wondering what to watch, Safe is a safe bet.

And yes, I had to make that pun.


Football Manager Scottish Research Vacancies

May 19, 2018

So it’s time once again to start researching teams for the new Football Manager release. I’ve been inundated with requests from people for more information of what’s involved, what’s expected of you and what you get in return.

Therefore I’ve decided to write-up a little guide so you can decide if you fit the bill for any of the vacant position.

What’s The Job And What Do I Get For It?

The job is to offer your specialist knowledge of the club you support.

In 2018, basic knowledge for players and clubs is available for anyone who wants to look. I can pretty easily get a list of first team players at every SPFL club in the country, and so what I need from you is deeper than that.

Football Manager is renowned for having the most accurate data going, so we need people who are regular attendees at a club’s matches. We need you to tell us how composed the left back at Elgin City is, whether the central midfielder at Brechin City is a tough tackling bruiser or a slight, fast guy with an eye for a pass or which kids in the u20s are destined for greater things. The only way you’ll know that is if you’re a fan of the club and have been regularly watching them throughout the last season. If you’re not a fan of the club who regular attends games, there’s no point in applying.

On the same note, we need guys who can look at the club information and say “Hey, that guy is missing from the Club legend list” or “You’ve not got the reserve stadium set correctly” and also keep us up to date with transfers, contract renewals and non playing staff like coaches/physios/u20s staff.

It’s not a particularly time-consuming job – a few hours between now and September – and the reward for it is a free copy of FM and your name in the credits. As such, while we often get people offering to start going to games so that they could research a club, it wouldn’t be right or fair to expect you to do that. Besides, as I said earlier, when rating players for FM’s release, it’ll be largely based on how players have done in the past year. If you haven’t even started going to see a team play, you won’t be able to offer insight.

What Else Is Required From Me?

Apart from knowing your stuff about your club, there are a few other skills/requirements you’ll need as a researcher for Football Manager.

  1. Basic IT Knowledge: Put simply, you need to be able to perform simple IT tasks like downloading the files, installing the editors, opening word documents to read instructions and the ability to use the bespoke software we provide. This might sound like the sort of thing everyone can do, but you’d be surprised. To be blunt, if you can’t do stuff like this there’s no point in applying.
  2. Either a PC or Windows Mirroring Software: The editors don’t work on Macs unless you have software for it that can replicate Windows. We’ve got one or two researchers who go that extra mile to use the editors on their Macs but if you’ve no idea how you would go about sorting that, then unfortunately the research may not be for you.
  3. Facebook: We use a private Facebook group for research discussion. Most people have Facebook and it works well because I can keep up with who has actually seen any important announcements etc. If you are – for whatever reason – not on Facebook and have no intention of getting a Facebook account then alas this is not the role for you.
  4. Knowledge of Football Manager: It’s an obvious one, but to be a researcher, it does help to know, have played and understand Football Manager.
  5. Deadline Keeping Skills: Though the workload is small and the time investment does not amount to much, you’re still doing an important job and so deadline keeping skills are vitally important. We can’t use your work if you don’t hand it in on time.
  6. A Mature And Objective Outlook: Everyone looks at their club with rose tinted spectacles, but you’ve got to be balanced in how you rate your players.

What Clubs Are Currently Available To Research?

Right now, we’re looking for researchers for the following clubs.

Albion Rovers
Berwick Rangers
Brechin City
Cowdenbeath
Edinburgh City
Elgin City
Peterhead
Queen’s Park
Ross County
Stranraer

If the club you support is not on that list it means there’s someone already researching the club, but things can change and you should look out for any future vacancies om twitter at @sgmilne.

How Do I Apply

If after all that you’re still interested in helping out, email me at officialfmscotland@gmail.com specifying which club you feel you could research and why.


Movies: Avengers Infinity War Review (Contains Spoilers)

May 1, 2018

Note: This Review Contains Spoilers

So I suppose I’d better stall for a bit just in case any introductory text appears in the Facebook or Twitter links to this review.

Cos, you know, I’d be annoyed if I read spoilers without actually opening up the link, wouldn’t you?

…Pauses….

…whistles…

Engages in small talk…

What about that weather, eh?

Right, I think we’re clear.

So let’s get straight to it; the ending of Marvel’s blockbuster to end all blockbusters (until the next one), Avengers: Infinity War, certainly caught me by surprise.

To end with pretty much all the superheroes being wiped from existence and to have the villain of the piece win – for now at least – was a shock, but it was an enjoyable one.

But then it had shocks running through the movie from the very start. And not just shocks for the sake of it; ones that made sense for the story, even though they’d have lasting repercussions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That’s no bad thing though;  to constantly hit the reset switch and never have any of the main characters die despite the constant danger they find themselves in can be frustrating. I mean…how many times have we seen Loki defeated only to come back again.

So the significance of what happens throughout Infinity War felt like a reward for the long term viewers of the movies. Yes, of course the ones who were wiped from existence at the end will come back and save the day in the next instalment, but you’ve got to think we’ve seen the last of the likes of Gomora and the aforementioned God of Mischief.

Infinity War wasn’t just about random shocks though; it was an enjoyable movie.

Sure, if you look closely at it, it’s probably not got the best script or plot in the world, but the amount of characters in it from all the different ends of the MCU – characters, by the way, who all seemed to be given enough to do to justify their inclusion, which was no mean feat – meant that they got away with that as far as I’m concerned.

I really liked it.

But if I was going to be critical of anything it would be that the tone wasn’t consistent. The stuff with Thor and the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy was genuinely funny, but scenes with Captain America and his team of po-faced heroes were played mostly in a very serious way. It meant that from one scene to the next the mood changed.

Also, why was the Red Skull even in it?

But those are minor complaints. Having suffered from Marvel fatigue for a while, I feel they’ve got themselves back on track.

 


Movies: Death Wish (2018) Review

April 9, 2018

I’m the sort of person who falls asleep watching TV if it’s after 8pm, so to go to the cinema for a 9pm showing of Death Wish seemed like a bad idea.

Unfortunately that was the only chance there was to see it, as it’s only shown at that time, but I love the original, so needs must.

So one can of Red Bull later and I was in my seat for a movie that realistically wasn’t going to start until near enough 9.30pm. I crossed my fingers and hoped I stayed awake.

And I did. Yay!

Now when you consider that I’ve fallen asleep in quite a few movies shown at much earlier times, like Rogue One, Doctor Strange and others, then that’s no mean feat, and a credit to Death Wish.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not going to tell you this is the greatest movie of our time, because it’s not. In fact, it’s a pretty ordinary remake of the original, and a plot we’ve seen rehashed many times over the years in other movies. Essentially it’s about a man who becomes a vigilante following personal loss, and a perceived sense of injustice in how the police have dealt with that loss.

I like that basic plot. It’s fun. It’s what my girlfriend describes as a ‘Boys Film’ (note: this is the first movie I’ve seen at the cinema without her in over two years because she had no intention of coming). It has a man killing bad guys in darkly humorous ways and it doesn’t last too long; what’s not to like?

Bruce Willis – while no Charles Bronson – is good, and Dean Norris essentially plays Hank from Breaking Bad again, which is cool.

If you like that sort of thing too, then you’ll also enjoy it.

Just don’t expect a masterpiece…

Or anything quite as hammy as when Charles Bronson killed The Giggler.