Movies: Ghostbusters Review (or ‘It Has Women In It. So What?’)

July 29, 2016

The furore surrounding the all-female casting of the new Ghostbusters movie is something I’ve failed to understand.

It’s a re-imagining of a popular 1980s movie but with women in the lead roles instead of men. So what? This isn’t a scene for scene remake and the characters don’t even have the same name, so why can’t they be ghostbusterswomen?

Now fair enough, I’m not the sort of person who sits back and sees this as a triumph for feminism or anything like that; I just don’t see why scientists fighting ghosts have to be men?

You might read this and think I’m being a hypocrite because I’ve said before that I wouldn’t like The Doctor to be cast as a woman in Doctor Who, but that’s completely different. The Doctor is a man and it would be a continuation of the same character. Similarly if you cast a woman to play male British secret agent James Bond as a woman it wouldn’t make any sense; if you want a female spy then call her something else and make it a movie of its own.

But no, there’s no issue from me in having female Ghostbusters.

Sadly, a combination of that and perhaps a failure to live up to some people’s romanticised view of a movie they loved as kids in the 1980s has resulted in this getting mixed reviews.

And I don’t think that’s fair.

Though I’ve only seen the original movie two or three times in my life and don’t have that same affinity with it as I do with Back to the Future, Star Wars or Indiana Jones, I’m still familiar with it enough to conclude if it was a rubbish reboot.

But it wasn’t.

It was a well put together movie with exceptional CGI and effects and – far more importantly – a razor sharp script with laughs all the way through.

And more than that, the women they cast were all exceptional and were more than capable of carrying the movie.

While a lot of people I know remarked that Katie McKinnon stole the show, I felt that all four women deserve an equal amount of credit for bringing their characters to life.

They also worked very well with Chris Hemsworth, who acted his brilliantly written male bimbo receptionist with style.

For fans of the original movie, there were plenty of cameos and nods to the past, but I think my favourite one was how – compared to the 1980s – the idea that a start-up business would have the money to rent out an abandoned fire station in the centre of New York City as an office was absurd. That was superb.

What wasn’t superb though was the inevitable modern rehash of the original theme music; they should have just stuck to the original.

So to conclude, I thought Ghostbusters worked well; it was funny and well acted, and though it paid tribute to the original it also worked as its own movie in 2016.

The only way you won’t enjoy it is if you go in with a deliberate mindset not to.

And life’s too short for that pish.

 


Movies – The Resurrection of Jake The Snake Review

July 5, 2016

I’ve been a wrestling fan since 1991, and it’ll always be the case for me that the best and most recognizable characters were the ones from back in those days.

I remember vividly sitting at home in November of that year and watching the evil Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts tie up ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage in the ring ropes and attack him with a King Cobra. Now bear in mind folks – especially those who are critical of wrestling – that this was real. By that, I mean that although it was part of the storyline and everyone knew it was going to happen, to sell the realism of it, they did actually jakehave a King Cobra sink its teeth into Savage’s arm and stay there. It’s incredible viewing by the today’s standards, where there is no doubt that something like that just wouldn’t happen.

It’s stuff like that that made Jake Roberts my favourite wrestling villain of all time.

And yet by April 1992, he’d left the WWF and by the end of the same year his top-line career was over after a short stay in rival organisation WCW.

In 1996, an older, fatter looking Jake – who looked far worse than his 41 years – reappeared with the gimmick of a man who had overcome his demons with alcohol and drugs. It didn’t last though, and once he made his final appearance in January 1997, he became the cautionary tale of the wrestler who drank and snorted his career away; who never fulfilled his huge potential.

Occasionally you’d hear about his embarrassing drunken mishaps on small independent wrestling events in local high schools and community centres where he’d show up wasted and in no fit state to perform. Perhaps the best example would be on the Heroes of Wrestling event in the late 1990s where he drunkenly pretended to wank off his snake in front of an audience of puzzled children and stunned adults.

Shameful stuff.

He’d talk about getting clean, but it never happened.

Until – that is – he moved in with fellow retired wrestler and Yoga enthusiast, Diamond Dallas Page.

In what sounds like a perfect wrestling plot, DDP took Jake in and got him clean and in shape using the power of his own brand of Yoga and healthy living.

And would you believe it, by 2014 Jake Roberts made it back to the WWE as a reformed man, with a one-off appearance on RAW followed by an induction into their Hall of Fame.

The Resurrection of Jake The Snake tells the story of how this happened.

Starting from the moment DDP first went to Jake’s house and continuing all the way through to his induction into the Hall of Fame, this documents every arduous step in his journey, thanks to a documentary maker who thought it might make for an interesting story.

It certainly does.

This movie gives you an in-depth look into the tormented soul that is Jake, and how his paper-thin skin and doubt in himself made it an almost impossible task to overcome his addictions.

It’s heartfelt and – I hope anyway – honest and is hugely absorbing, especially for a fan of his like me.

I couldn’t tell you for sure whether or not this would appeal to someone who doesn’t know who Jake is, but I honestly think it might.

I’d highly recommend giving it a shot.

The Resurrection of Jake The Snake is available to watch on NetFlix.


Stuart’s Steam Summer Sale Recommendations

July 2, 2016

There’s this belief that people just waste their money in the Steam Summer Sale.

Let’s be honest; that’s probably true. I know that in the past I’ve bought games without much thought because they are going cheap and then have either never played them or played them once and realised they weren’t for me. Certainly for me the Flash Sales resulted in me panic buying.

The good news this year is that everything that’s on sale will stay at their reduced price for the duration of the event, meaning you can take your time deciding what to buy.

And while it might be that you purchase a game for £3 on a whim and don’t like it, who really cares? Think of it like this; a couple of months ago I bought Dirt Rally for the PS4 for £42. I didn’t like it and despite trying a few times to get some utility out of it, I soon threw in the towel and uninstalled it. Earlier this week, I bought 7 games and a DLC pack from Steam for £21. I’ve already played some of these games for longer than Dirt.

So on that note, here are some games that I think are safe bets for anyone who likes gaming.

BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien: £2.19 (80% off)

This is a side scrolling platform style running game where you have to jump, slide and burst through obstacles in time with the rhythm of the game’s sound track.

It looks good, it’s colourful and it’ll take up around 9 hours of your time based on how long it took me to complete. Like everything else on my list, it’s a bargain.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/218060/?snr=1_5_9__205

Civilization V – The Complete Edition – £8.06 (92% off)

Unquestionably the greatest bang for your buck in the Steam sale comes from the complete edition of Civilization 5.civ5

Along with the bare bones game, you get the Brave New World and Gods & Kings expansion packs and all the other scenarios. It turns out to be a saving of almost £90.

I’ve always considered the Civ series as one where I’ll play it non stop for a weekend and then not return to it for about a year, and at that price, it’s definitely worth it.

My only note of caution would be that you need a decent PC to be able to run it. If you don’t have that, why not buy the complete Civ 4 for £3.74?

http://store.steampowered.com/bundle/575/

Cook, Serve, Delicious! – £1.74 (75% off)

You run a restaurant, choose the menu, buy different types of food and then you have to cook and serve it to customers either using your keyboard or with the click of the mouse.

The aim is to turn your restaurant into a 5 star establishment.

It’s addictive and challenging, but good fun.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/247020/

FTL: Faster Than Light – £2.09 (70% off)

You take charge of a spaceship and try to get it as far across the galaxy before it inevitably gets destroyed by asteroids, fires or space pirates.ftl

It’s a ‘roguelike’ game which means you play until you die and then you start again with a new randomly generated map.

Great for a quick game now and again.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/212680/?snr=1_5_9__205

LEGO… (33% – 75% off)

Whether it’s Batman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Wars or The Hobbit, there’s probably a LEGO game out there for you.

And most of them are currently on sale for £3.74.

http://store.steampowered.com/tag/en/LEGO/#p=0&tab=NewReleases

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ – £1.99 (75% off)

I’m going to assume you know what Pac-Man is.

This is pretty much the definitive version and it’s available for a mere £1.99 at the moment.

Buy it now, thank me later.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/236450/

Papers, Please – £3.49 (50% off)

You might think that a game where you play as a guard at a Soviet border checkpoint wouldn’t be that much fun, but then you’d be wrong.

Garnering praise from all corners, this is a surprisingly deep, wonderfully written and executed PC gem.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/239030/

Party Hard – £2.59 (75% off)

Most of the games on this list are ones that generally review well, and if I’m honest are games that I’ve bought on the strength of hearing that they are good.partyhard

But I bought Party Hard in spite of mediocre reviews because the premise seemed interesting.

Basically you play as a guy who goes to various parties and must kill everyone there without being caught. You need stealth and patience, and it can be frustrating to have to try 100 times to beat a certain level, but I really enjoyed it.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/356570/

Pinball FX 2

The best pinball game out there, this is all about buying the right table for you. And right now, most tables are available for at least 75% off.

Trying to beat your own score is one thing, but for me the fun in Pinball FX 2 is competing against my friends for the best score.

So whether it’s Family Guy, Star Wars, Marvel or any other themed table you’d be interested in, buy some now convince a friend to as well.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/226980/

Plants vs Zombies GOTY Edition – £1.06 (75% off)

It’s over 7 years old now and the chances are you’ve played it, but just incase you haven’t, this charming Tower Defence strategy game is available for just over a quid.

And you can’t say fairer than that.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/3590/

RISK Factions – £1.99 (75% off)

It’s the classic board game brought to your PC, but with a story mode and bit of a modern spruce up.

You can play through the single player mode on your own if you want and you’ll still get more than your money’s worth, but I reckon playing it with friends either at home or online would be even better.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/47800

SpeedRunners – £2.74 (75% off)speedrunners

I only just bought this game today but I feel strongly enough about it to recommend it to you.

It’s a running racing game where you must overcome obstacles to get far enough ahead of the other players to knock them off the screen; a bit like the old Micro Machines games I suppose.

It’s fast, it’s stylish and it’s fun.

Like most games on the list you can play it on your own or with friends.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/207140/

Worms Reloaded: Game of the Year Edition – £2.84 (85% off)

Leaving probably the best for last, this is the definitive version of the long running Worms Franchise.

It’s six years old now, but every version of the game that has come out since has paled in comparison to this, as Team 17 try to make it more modern or 3D.

Worms doesn’t need that; it needs colourful, cartoonish 2D graphics and simple varied game modes.

That’s what Reloaded gives you.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/22600/

The sum total of these 13 games I’ve recommended comes to £36.26. Dirt Rally on the PS4 costs £38.99.

I know what I’d rather spend my money on…

Have you got any recommendation? Let me know.


Movies – The Secret Life of Pets Review (or ‘A Wannabee Toy Story’)

July 1, 2016

I’ll let you into a little secret about animated movies; most of them have exactly the same plot.

You know the one; the main character somehow gets separated from his home and he or she must make their way back, meeting some goofy sidekick along the way and then overcoming some kind of obstacle/learning some life lesson in the end.

But at least some of them try to approach it from different angles. Take Inside Out for example; it tells that basic plot but is sufficiently different in theme so that you don’t just think you’re watching Toy Story, The petsLion King or Finding Nemo again.

The Secret Life of Pets though doesn’t try; it’s just Toy Story with pets and without charm.

For Woody there’s Max, for Buzz Lightyear there’s Duke and for all the other miscellaneous characters there are other pets. Hell, there’s even a sausage dog.

It’s shameless.

And it’s also stupid. While I’m not trying to suggest that Toy Story is realistic, if you accept that the toys come alive when nobody is looking, the stuff that happens in the trilogy becomes feasible. In The Secret Life of Pets, while it initially works in the same way, by the end of the movie there’s a rabbit driving a bus over the Brooklyn Bridge causing so much destruction it would be considered a terrorist event, and a dog manages to beat up everything from a crocodile to a warthog, all in clear view of the public. Idiotic.

Maybe this is a movie not aimed at me though? Maybe it’s just a kids film rather than one that’s set out to appeal to the whole family like Disney and Pixar’s efforts? But if that was the case, why advertise it before movies aimed at adults?

What I would say is that there are one or two amusing moments near the start of The Secret Life of Pets, but they are in the trailer anyway.

So watch the trailer, have a chuckle and then go home and watch Toy Story; you’ll enjoy that more.