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Word of warning for potential readers! In the last 6 years, I've written a total of 2 movie opinions, mainly due to losing interest in Dooyoo for a while, and may be a bit rusty, don't say I haven't tried to prepare people!!! So Drive then, I'd picked the DVD up as quite a few of the people I follow on Twitter were raving about how amazing it was. At this point I should also note that the majority of these people were American columnists proclaiming Ryan Gosling as a 'hottie' but amongst those comments, some people were proclaiming we had Oscar material on our hands, I had to give it a go.
In usual Tripley can't wait style, I ended up picking a copy up not long after it was released at full price, needless to say its now in the 2 for £10 offer at HMV, take away my impulsiveness, I'd be a millionaire I tells ya! Anyways after I bought the DVD it sat on my shelf for a good couple of months, I've now got around to watching the flick and good lord its not half bad!
To give you a basic idea of the synopsis on this film, it follows the story of an un-named Driver (played by Ryan Gosling) who works primarily as a mechanic and stunt driver, but also supplements all of this by being a get away driver on the side, taking on jobs provided by Shannon (Played by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and Malcolm in the Middle fame) who runs the garage he works at. As the film progresses he befriends his neighbour Irene and her child, further improving their friendship by helping them when she has car trouble at the local grocery store. Irene's husband Standard comes home from prison and gets coerced into working a job, where he recruits the Driver to help him, unfortunately the job goes wrong with Standard getting shot and killed and local mobsters wanting to kill everyone involved in the job.
Before anyone panics that I've spoilt the story, this is only the beginning and set-up for the main event of the film, that being the Driver trying to find out what exactly was happening whilst helping Irene with the aftermath of Standard's death.
To give an idea of my reaction throughout the film, it would be like this:
Hmmmmm, a bit of a slow start....
Hold on! Is that the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle!! What's he doing in a serious flick!!
To be fair Ryan Gosling is fairly pretty
Wow! Didn't see that coming!
Oh that was brutal!
Didn't see that coming!!
Hell that was awesome, lets watch it again!
And believe me - that is a condensed version of my reactions. The story itself is something that keeps you second guessing throughout, and doesn't baulk from breaking the norms of what you'd guess what would happen next, though at times it does get quite gory, so if you're a tiny bit squeamish, believe me this isn't the film for you. The worry you always have with this sort of film is will it keep you interested throughout without having a pace thats so quick that you miss some of the plot, the good news is that Nicolas Winding Refn (the films director) has got this movie spot on, the pace of the story speeds up when necessary and gives you the time to digest any major parts of the plot without throwing so much at you that you get confused. My main praise of the film though has to be its style, its been claimed that it is a 'neo-noir art house' film, which I'd have to agree with, but the big feel is that it's with want of a better word....... cool, watching the driving scene's make you want to blow your life savings on a plane ticket to Los Angeles so you could just go for a drive around the city.
With the film being set in LA, the filmmakers have picked the right location - its a city where people go idly by with their lives unaware of any of the crimes going on underneath their noses, however its still a beautiful city that has a lot going for it, and watching the characters drive around you can almost feel that any of them could make it big time in the city in a legitimate line of work, but at the same time that they're ok with their lot in life.
All of this leads me onto what can make or break a film, and in the case of Drive definitely makes it.... the cast. Ryan Gosling in the lead role was an inspired choice, with many films its hard to forget the actor behind the character and instead of investing into their story you just see it as another film starring said actor, the same can't be said for Gosling in Drive, you believe he is the Driver and is genuinely experiencing everything you see on screen. The only cast member I struggled with was seeing Bryan Cranston in a serious role, however this may be because I've only really seen him before in Malcolm in the Middle (before I get comments informing me that I must watch Breaking Bad, let me assure you that its on my to do list, as is finishing that boxset of Jericho that I bought, said boxset has been waiting for a good year for me to finish watching it, so it may take a while) and as such don't see him as a serious actor so it was a genuine shock to see him turn up in the film, and as such whenever I saw him, I couldn't help but be reminded of his character in Malcolm in the Middle which kind of ruined his character for me a bit, this by the way is in no way a criticism of his acting as he does seem to be doing very well, its just my preconceptions of him from his earlier TV career that are at fault here. Along with Gosling and Cranston your other main characters are played by Carey Mulligan as Irene and Ron Perlman as a member of the mob, both of which play their characters well, Carey Mulligan plays Irene with an air of innocence and not being fully aware of the seedy underworld of LA, but manages to do so without falling into the trap that so many 'innocent' characters fall into of coming across as whiny. Ron Perlman plays his regular 'don't care, I'm moody and kinda evil' character but without taking too much of the limelight when he's on screen and lets everyone else shine as well.
Finally there's the score, with what is described as an electro-pop soundtrack it complements the mood of the film fantastically, there's no big song in there that you remember straight away however its enough that there'll be parts of the soundtrack that you recognise straight away when they're used in other pieces of work, so its a soundtrack that sticks with you, but not enough that you would find a specific song that you'd class as a 'favourite'.
So final thoughts? Drive is good, its very, very, good. Its not the sort of film that you could watch when you're not feeling attentive for a film, you do need to concentrate throughout as you may miss an important moment, but its not so much that you get confused, with the movie currently in the 2 DVDs for a tenner offer you could do a lot, lot worse than giving this film a go.
So I've owned at least 1 mobile phone since the turn of the century, starting off with a phone that was approximately half the size of my forearm and cried when I dared to save over 10 texts, right up to today and my Google Nexus S, which almost begs for more to be done with it, at one time I had my X10 Mini Pro, and to be honest I wish I'd gone for something else.
When my old iPhone 3G finally bit the bullet, it was time to go shopping for a replacement that would be cheap and cover me the remaining 10 months of contract, and several people in several phone shops convinced me the X10 Mini Pro was for me. Small to hold onto, but with a keyboard to make typing easier it seemed perfect.
But onto the phone itself, personally for me a phone has to do the basics of making calls and sending texts, have enough in the way of games and/or programs to keep me entertained whilst on long journeys and preferably store a decent stash of my music, at first glance you'd expect the Mini X10 Pro to tick all the needed boxes, your calls and texts are simplistic enough, it works on the android operating system meaning that you can download plenty of applications to pass the time and with a micro-sd slot, there should probably be plenty of ease in downloading music on to your phone. However as earlier mentioned there are several issues with the phone, so lets see what it can do shall we?
This was my first big issue with the phone, at times I'll be leaving the house at 6am and not getting back in till gone 7pm, so I'm going to need the phone to keep a decent life throughout the day, however regularly I'd find it was close to dead by 4pm if not earlier. Granted if I was using the phone a lot during the day, then I'd expect it to drain, but this was from it being sat idle in my pocket. On returning this to the retailer and asking for them to look at it I was informed that this is a regular issue with the phone 'because its a smartphone', funny that as I have a smartphone now, as does the wife, and neither of us have ever had that kind of issue with any smartphone before, so I'd have to put that down as a negative aspect of the phone.
Build of the Phone.
This was a real worry to me, the phone itself regularly felt like it was going to fall apart in my hands, it just didn't feel that securely put together. Then there was the keyboard, this is one of the big selling points of the handset, now I have quite large fingers but the amount of times I was attempting to press a button and something else appeared on screen verged on ridiculous, which leads me onto the process of pressing the keys as well, at times the keys would stick which would regularly lead to a cccccccccccccccc on the screen, or the complete opposite, you'd have to hammer some keys to get them to work, which with the flimsy feeling never filled me with confidence.
Then there's the screen itself, which doesn't seem that clear when using it, throw in that as the phone is a touch-screen phone you'd expect the screen to be quite sensitive to touch and quite sturdy as well, but unfortunately its the exact opposite, you need to give the screen a good whack to get the phone to recognize your touch and then you're still struggling to be confident as you can actually feel the screen it against the phone underneath it.
The one area where you want a phone to excel, and my X10 didn't - to secure the phone I used to have a pattern style key lock on the screen (i.e. 9 dots where you draw a shape to unlock the phone) and mine was a 7 dot combination, this would be a great security feature if it wasn't for the fact that it would automatically close the screen down by the time I'd hit dot 4.
Then there's the android system itself, the phone comes with version 1.6 pre-installed and can be upgraded to 2.1 which sounds good as Android is only currently up to version 2.3 however it's still an issue with this handset, main reason being that 1.6 is just a poor, poor operating system and the phone itself doesn't seem to be able to handle 2.1, when its installed everything seems to slow down when realistically you'd expect it to speed up. But its not just the phone that slows down, the apps that you've downloaded seem to slow down as well, making a game that you could just about play become unplayable due to the screen freezing up repeatedly and everything slowing down.
This was one of the biggest reasons that I got the phone, I was told that the music-player was comparable to the iPhone's, how wrong that was.
The only part I'd say the music player trumps the iPhone's is in getting music onto your phone, you don't have to rely on the abhorrent iTunes to upload your music, quite literally you pop your sd-card into the provided dongle, plug it into your computer and then drag and drop any music you want to play, however that's where the advantages end, the actual Music sounds tinny no matter what you do to the settings, there isn't any way to set up a play list of certain tracks for different situations, if you dare to use any headphones other than the ones provided then you'll struggle to hear the music at all and the headphones themselves are awful and feel akin to stuffing pins in your ears.
Standard Features (aka Phone Calls and Texts)
Again this isn't anything to shout about, Phone-Call wise the phone regularly seems to take a while to register that you're wanting to make a call, and even then it wouldn't be the first time that the phone rang the wrong person. Then once you're on the call the phone itself doesn't sound clear enough and I found myself regularly asking people to repeat themselves on calls.
Texting wise, it does the same as any other phones, although they do seem to take up a large amount of memory of the phone if you want to save the messages for any reason.
Over-all I wouldn't recommend this phone, it just seems that its trying to be something that it isn't, if it was aimed more at the low-end of the market then I might rate it higher but as it is, I can't find anything in it to say it'd be any good for anyone.
Back in the mid-late 80's you may remember a couple of successful films released by the name of Ghostbusters. Over the years these have become cult classics and part of the staple diet of 80s movies enthusiasts, since the release of the second movie there's always been demands by the fans for a sequel to the series and rumours that this sequel was coming, much to regular movie-goers shock there has been a sequel of sorts released, except its not on the big-screen, well that's if you've not got a big-ass TV, as its a game that's been released originally on the PS3 and PS2 that will eventually get posted over to the X-Box 360, PC and DS on 01/11/09.
The premise of the storyline is that of a new outbreak of ghosts in New York City, who just so happen to be running riot in the Ghostbusters old haunts (pun intended) of the New York Public Library and the Sedgewick Hotel, though to help you get into the game play of the game one of your first battles is to re-capture Slimer after he escapes from HQ As you go through the game you'll find that Slimer isn't the only old face from the movies you'll see - the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the Gray Lady and Gozer all make re-appearances in some form. The further you get into the game the more areas open up where the paranormal activity is happening. Instead of taking control of one of the famous characters you get to play the "Rookie" a new starter to the Ghostbusting team who you never find out the name of as the main characters don't want to get too attached to him in case anything happens.
The Game play itself is that of a third-person shooter in which you're looking over the shoulder of the character you're playing seeing everything he's seeing. The actual action that you take part in is controlled very similar to that of your standard First Person and Third Person shooters in which you use the joysticks to control the movement of your characters, the action buttons to make him move faster, deploy a trap or interact with scenery and the shoulder buttons to attack your enemies.
The enemies themselves come to you in 3 different varieties, you've got your standard ghosts who you need to drag into a trap, the lower class ghosts who you just need to shoot until they explode and die, and finally your boss-characters who have different weaknesses which you need to exploit.
To combat the enemies you're initially equipped with a proton way which damages most ghosts and captures the stronger ones for you to drag into the traps, as you get further you get a slime gun that allows you to pull some parts of the scenery across the screen, usually to help you get to a different part of the game field, plus you can buy upgrades for your weapons with cash that you earn from killing and capturing ghosts.
To give the game a further edge there's 2 extra parts to it, first of all you've got artefacts which if you find them and take a reading of them with your EKG machine will be added to your collection, and then there's the on-line co-operative versions where you can play with friends via the net in a variety of different challenges which are:
Instant Action - pretty much what it says on the tin, join in, pick a map and go bust some ghosts, the aim being that between your team you get them all.
Containment - Search and capture as many ghosts as you can within an allotted time limit.
Survival - similar to containment in that you need to capture as many ghosts as you can, but this time you need to make sure that one of your team is conscious at all times.
Protection - there's several structures being made, ghosts are attacking them and you need to protect said structures.
Slime-Dunk - every time you capture a ghost you get some cash, you need to earn as much as possible.
Thief - the ghosts will be trying to steal artefacts - once they get away with one, its game over.
Destruction - there's evil spirits in some artefacts, you've got to destroy the artefacts to get the spirits.
You'd think reading all that lot the game would be fun right? And to a degree it is, but I did end up slightly disappointed, the main action of the game can get very repetitive, as all you need to do is hit your ghosts enough for their energy to run out and on the odd occasion you get to trap them. The on-line modes again whilst sounding fun and varied, essentially aren't, they're very samey and its extremely easy to be tempted to sit back and let the rest of your team do all the work for you, the problem is that you can essentially do that in the single-player campaign as well, mainly because your team-mates will be quite happy to go about reducing your enemies energy for you so that quite literally all you need to do is go in there and finish them off which is at the best a 10 second job.
As well as this there are glitches within the game, I'm on my second copy now and it does randomly freeze up, leaving you no option but to reboot your whole system and start again, which in turn means that you then need to completely start over from the last checkpoint. The mention of checkpoints leads me to my next gripe - in the week and a half I've been playing it I'm still to realise when I've reached a checkpoint and the games automatically saved. Heck on the first night I needed to stop playing for a while as the takeaway me and my fiancé had arrived and it took us just shy of 10 minutes to look on-line and in the manual to find out how to save, a little bit more guidance on as and when its happening would have been nice.
You will also find times when you're wandering around trying to find the trigger for the next part of the game to move along - now don't get me wrong I have no problems with a game throwing in a bit of a challenge, however just walking around with hardly any clue of where you're meant to be going, you do get to use a meter that beeps when you get closer to paranormal energy, but even that isn't that reliable when you're looking around.
The big thing that your non-gaming fans will probably be interested in is the feel of the game and its storyline - in essence the storyline is quite impressive for what is in all intents and purposes a Video Game, and its been helped by the fact that almost all of the characters from the Ghostbusters movies are voiced by the actors who played them in the film, with particular mention to Bill Murray, he completely nails the character of Venkman which is obviously going to have been easier on this go-around as it was only his voice that was needed.
Onto the final element of the game and sadly another slight gripe - the Graphics, they're good don't get me wrong, but a machine like the PS3 has been designed to be pushed a lot more than this game does, and at crucial times you will find yourself in a darkened area shooting out into nothing because you can't see what you're meant to be shooting at.
So overall do I think Ghostbusters is as good a game as Atari would like you to believe? No, no I don't - by no means is it a bad game, but on reflection I'm not as happy that I paid full-price for it and wish that I'd rented it out first instead, as the game play does let you down at times, either being too easy or too hard and seemingly never quite finding the happy medium that we all strive to find, however you will find that if you're a fan of the Ghostbusters movies you will probably enjoy the game a bit more as there's a lot of nods to the previous films that are fun to find, but to say its a full sequel to the films is probably also a long way off the mark, its more of a connecting story between Ghostbusters 2 and the upcoming third entry in the movie series. So buy the game if you must, but its not going to do any harm waiting for it to come down in price in one of the many sales that regularly happen at your mainstream games retailers.
Think for a minute if you will, what your thoughts are on the world of professional wrestling, I'd hazard a guess that you're probably thinking of big steroid-packed meatheads covered in baby oil and fake tan dressed in spandex pretending to hit each other? Possibly even throw in some 'steel chairs' or 'gimmicked tables' to make it look more realistic? - to the most part, you'd be right. As this is a lot of what you'll see in your independent shows where the wrestlers in front of you are either the up and comers to the business or your old school guys who are in the twilight of their career, whichever they are - they more than likely paid more to be there than they earnt being there.
The above world that I've described is what Darren Aronofsky has aimed to show you in the Academy Award nominated 'The Wrestler'. Mickey Rourke plays Robin Ramzinski better known to the public as Randy "The Ram" Robinson - a professional wrestler who's best days are behind him, but he still makes appearances at the independent shows and his fans still remember him from his nationally televised matches with the Ayatollah (played by former WCW and WWE wrestler Ernest 'The Cat' Millar).
Throughout the film you get to see how Robinson is keeping through the shows he attends, how he interacts with his fellow wrestlers, to his pursuit of a relationship with aging stripped Cassidy (played by Marisa Tomei), his attempts at re-building his connection with his daughter, when thrown into the mix he suffers a heart-attack which leads to him being told he'd be risking his life if he ever set foot in a wrestling ring again.
Throughout the story Aronofsky shows that the wrestling world isn't all the glitz and glamour that you see in WWE and TNA, there are times when hes wrestling in front of less than 100 fans, or sat at a table trying to sell off autographs to fans hoping he can earn a few dollars to pay towards his rent and it shows you that although you see your big-name stars on TV who seem to be living the good life, for every one wrestler you see there's probably anothr 10 out there trying to make a living off of a meagre income.
However away from the wrestling side of the flick, there's a fantastic story about someone who's lived his life in the spotlight who's reached the twilight of his career and trying to hang onto it as much as possible, forsaking all his friendships and his family to give it his best try.
However the biggest reason for the films success would be down to the performance of your 2 main stars, Rourke and Tomei, a lot of people would have put Rourke down since he quit acting to take up boxing and your hardcore wrestling fans have probably turned up their nose at him since he appeared at this years Wrestlemania to promote this self same flick, but believe the hype. Rourke's performance was very Rocky-esque, but better, you'd be hard-pressed not to feel sympathy for him. Then theres Marisa Tomei, when you hear of a character being written that's a stripper woh is a live interest for the main character, you'd be forgiven for type-casting the performance you're about to see however when you watch Tomei there's a different air about it, and again you get compassion towards her.
Finally there's the atmosphere thats given by the sets and the soundtrack, giving you the dirge that is the arenas and halls that Robinson wrestle in, onto the mundanity of his home life and the second job he has at a local supermarket. Then there's the seediness of the nightclub that Cassidy works in, and finally onto the soundtrack itself, a lot of 80's rock to give you an idea of the music and atmosphere of the time's when Robinson was more popular, finally there's the song of the same title sang by Bruce Springsteen that rightfully won the Golden Globe for best song which just tops the film off perfectly, leaving you with the exact feeling that I'd guess Aranofsky wanted you to have, a feeling of sadness for Robinson and what hes become.
Overall it was an amazing film, albeit a bit slow at parts, but enough to get you emotionally invested in the characters on screen in front of you. Quite rightfully so there were plenty of people who put this list in their top 10 of 2008, and although I'd usually disagree with them, I'd say they were spot on right on this occasion.
In this day of technological advancements the means to keep in touch with your friends have gone through what has to be said are some pretty nifty developments, just think back to the mid-90's when if you wanted to speak to a friend, for most of society quite literally there were 3 options, phone them, write them, or get off your backside and go and see them. As time has gone on the development of Mobile Phones, then e-mail, and then SMS Texting have meant that its a lot easier to speak to anyone, and now comes the dawn of the social networking Site.
Ask anyone in the internet know what a Social Networking site is and they'll probably throw back one of 3 names at you - myspace, facebook or bebo, in this review we shall be taking a look at the one I personally use the most: facebook. Go back a couple of years and I used to believe that the in-thing to have on the web was a myspace account, you could create your own page, talk freely with friends upload pictures and also dodgy .wav files for everyone to listen to when they looked at your page. Then my ex-boss sent me an e-mail asking me to join facebook, I was sceptical at first but then joined and left it alone, not adding anyone onto my account other than said ex-boss for the best part of a year and also never logging into it. Then move onto when I moved into a new shared house, the discussion of keeping in touch was raised and we all swapped mobile numbers, but the question of whether or not you had credit or not came up, before you knew it it was arranged that we'd message each other on facebook should something be needed and I was back on again.
So what is a Social Networking site? Put basically its a place where people can join up, add their friends and discuss things with each other, whilst also being able to keep them up to date on the latest happenings in their lives, through either regular updates on a blog, uploading photos or just updating their status (more on that later), and all of this can be done now by people with no prior knowledge of how to create a site from scratch. Because even the biggest technophobe could make their own page the concept boomed first with myspace and then with facebook, which has now taken over as the main choice for any kind of Social Networking. Basically put, if someones just made friends with you and you want to get to know more about them without having to actually ask 20 questions just go look on their facebook, it'll all be there.
The sign-up process to facebook is quite straight-forward, it'll ask you for an e-mail address, a password and the usual basic information and that's it, you can then go on about updating your site, unlike myspace you can't embed codes into your page so there's no way anyone can put annoying music on their page which you then can't turn off without first finding it. Your profile itself has options to put in details about where you were educated, where you went to work, which network you wish to belong to (again more on that later), what interests you, along with favourite books, movies, music and quotes. Once all this is done all that's left is for a picture of yourself to be uploaded (not a necessary factor though) and you're up and running.
Adding friends couldn't be easier - just search for their name and then there'll be a link to 'Add as friend', once that's been clicked on its down to the person in question to accept you and then so long as they say yes you're on their friends list. Methods of communication between friends originally comes from just 2 ways - either send them a private message or you can 'write on their wall' which is basically a public way of talking to someone. But there's more to the site than just adding friends and talking to them - 2 facilities that are greatly featured are the groups and the applications facilities, which I'll go into now.
Groups are very similar to the old Yahoo Groups set-up in which someone can create a group about anything they feel particularly interested in and then invite people to join up or make it open to the public, there then will be a messageboard in which people can chat about any old thing and a second forum style board in which people can post and reply to specific topics, and finally there is the option to upload videos and photos to the groups as well. The big fall-back on the groups side of things is that you will find people quite regularly spamming the group with links to either adult-style sites or referral sites, if the creators of groups are on the ball then these posts are usually deleted but if its a big group (some of these places have over 100000 members), its more than likely that the message will just stay on the board which is quite annoying when you're looking for other peoples posts about things you're interested in.
Applications are the second big thing on the site, they range from games to trivia quizzes to means to post music videos to random quizzes deciding all types of things including but not limited to 'when you are going to die', 'what your husband/wife's name will be', 'how many football hooligans you could take in a fight', 'how slutty are you?' and 'how big is your brain?' - some of these applications are immense fun (such as I've got an account with hobowars that has been embedded into the site and I'm regularly on that), but some of them are blatant adverts for movies/tv shows (right now there are applications on site based on indiana jones, transformers and rambo - all with the intentions of getting you to buy the flick) and believe it or not those aren't the worst of the bunch. You'll find the worst are the quiz type applications where you'll add it to your profile, answer all the questions and then before you get your answers it'll ask you to invite 20 friends to also add the application, its annoying to be asked to invite people - and just as annoying to log on to facebook and find 10-15 requests to add applications - which then have to manually be rejected one by one.
Onto the random musings of the site, well firstly you can change your status to whatever you wish by that basically its a small box in the top right hand corner where it will show 'insertyournamehere' and then a blank box for you to update it - this will then be shown at the top of your page and to everyone on your friends list, but believe me this can get you in trouble - a friend of mine announced her pregnancy on the site before telling her parents, forgetting that one of her friends on the site was her live at home little brother - you can imagine the fun that occurred after that! Then there's the networks option, where you can join up to any city you want (though its expected you'd join the city nearest to where you live), the school/uni you're attending or where you're working - this does very little other than put a little bit under your name telling everyone else which networks you're in.
Site navigation itself is quite easy, though put too many applications on your page and it will slow down something rotten - obviously because you're taking up more bandwith but that still doesn't stop some people - plus that can get really annoying as the wall on people's profiles is always right at the bottom, meaning that you have to wait a while sometimes for it to load up. Privacy settings on the site are a bit of a pain to find but once you do they are handy - you can set your profile so that no-one can see your profile unless they are your friend, and you can do the same with your photos, plus if there's someone you really don't want to talk to on the site there is always the option of blocking them completely so that they can't ever see anything you've said or done on the site.
All in all the site isn't that bad if you take it for what it is, a bit of fun where you can attach games to your profile to be more interesting, but don't expect it to be all the bells and whistles that the press about it seem to think it is, because you will be disappointed.
Kevin Smith - an almost iconic name in the world of film-making, back in 1994 he made his own comedy movie funded totally by his savings, credit cards, loans and whatever cash his friends could spare - this movie was Clerks, it made Kevin Smith the household name he is today and set a precedent by being one of the first movies where the soundtrack rights cost more than the rest of the film.
12 Years and 4 more movies later we come to Clerks 2, a movie that Smith for years has said hed never do as he didnt believe in writing sequels, however as a promise to his close friend Jason Mewes, (He offered to write it if Mewes stayed off of drugs) hes wrote it, re-visiting the characters that made him, embellishing on their story 12 years later and introducing more new characters as well, oh and one more thing - it includes scenes of Inter-species erotica.
The story follows that of Randal and Dante, from the first movie - showing that until it burnt down theyd never left RST Video and Quick Stop since we last saw them, however with the buildings burnt down so they need to get a new job - this leads them to working for Moobys. Throw on top of this that Jay and Silent Bob are still around, Dantes engaged and leaving Jersey and Randals still annoying as many people as possible and you have a cause for hilarity.
Storyline wise I worried about them doing a Clerks 2, just in case it was too similar to the original, or if the characters were just too old for my liking now, but I was wrong, its as funny as if not funnier than the original, the crude jokes are still there but not too crude that you dont laugh at them and theres enough of a storyline to the movie that it flows well enough to constantly keep you interested.
One trademark of any Kevin Smith movie is nods back to his previous flicks, be it the mention of a character from one of them, a reference that has been used before or being reminded of something that happened in a previous film, Clerks 2 is no exception, with enough nods at the past to make you think the films head banging at a rock concert.
Acting wise there are 4 main characters from the previous Clerks film, Jason Mewes playing Jay, Kevin Smith playing Silent Bob, Brian OHalloran playing Dante and Jeff Anderson playing Randal - and they all put in performances as good as they did in the original Clerks, especially Jeff Anderson (Randal), maybe its because I have the same sort of characteristics in real life but the humour especially from his character seems to radiate from the screen.
Thats not to say that the others dont put in good performances, albeit if Silent Bob stays true to his name almost all the way through the film again, Jay is as rude as he can be and Dante does his best to try to hold everything into place, but theres also 3 new characters introduced , these characters being Becky (played by Rosario Dawson), Elias (played by Trevor Fehrman) and Emma (played by Jennifer Schwalbach Smith).
Elias is the perfect addition to the Clerks family, a foil to Randal whos into anything you would class as geeky (an example being getting excited about the Transformers movie because his net-handle is Optimus Prime), he gets on Randals nerves and provides the movie with the innocent character that it needed. Emma, is Dantes fiancé, trying to drag him into a life that if he was honest he doesnt really want and finally Becky is Dantes boss and 2nd-best friend only behind Randal who doles out advice to him whilst still trying to maintain a level of control over the maniacal staff in her restaurant.
The main difference between this and the original as you can probably guess is that Smith has money now, this means no more black and white film, a lot better production values, a bigger budget for the soundtrack and a better presentation all-told, of course this does take away some of the character of the film but thats more than made up for it, its just a decision, do you prefer the grittiness of the first movie or the higher quality production of the sequel.
All-told Clerks 2 is a good movie, its hard to resist comparing it to the original as in essence it is a follow-on, but it is also its own story - if you havent seen any of Kevin Smiths previous flicks then some of this might be lost on you, however if you have then you may find it ranks up there with the best of them.
It's been a while since I've been this excited about an album and band, in fact the last time was when Evanescence released Fallen in the US and I managed to hear some of their stuff due to the Daredevil soundtrack, but that was over 3 years ago, and this is now. A couple of weeks ago my weekly copy of Kerrang came through my door with the picture of a young red-headed woman giving the V-sign (the abusive one) on the cover, the article provoked my interest in a new band named Paramore, a couple of sample downloads and an album purchase later and I was excited again.
A bit about the band first, they're young, very young, but their talent speaks a lot more than their age, made up of 17 year old lead singer Hayley Williams, The Farro brothers Josh (Lead Guitarist aged 18) and Zac (drummer aged 16), Bassist Jeremy Davis aged 21 and second guitarist Hunter Lamb aged 20 they've been together for 4 years already (albeit with a couple of personnel changes) starting off playing at School shows before rising to playing local Rock shows in their native Franklin Tennessee, and before long Florida based music label Fueled by Ramen had snapped them up and started to promote them into the band they are today. This all culminated in the 2006 release 'All we know is falling' which has been gaining some rave reviews.
The album itself is in my eyes an absolute masterpiece, it's the sort of music to get you standing up and listening, the sort of music that can bring you around from being down in the dumps to at the very least a little upbeat. However there's a warning to you all, it's not the type of music that everyone's going to like, I've heard of them being called 'Emo' and 'Pop-Punk' where as I'd place them somewhere in the middle, perhaps Pop-Emunk.
Going through the album there's not one song that I'd say is a bad pick, opening with what has to be said is the perfect advert for Williams' voice 'All We Know' it delivers a quick beat and makes you aware what you've let yourself in for, with a quiet moment in the middle that almost appears there to be a break for the listener (as is indicative in many of their tracks on this album), before going straight back into the heavier styling's of the song.
Moving on to the second track comes my favourite Paramore song to date, 'Pressure' it's the sort of song you put on when you've had a bad day at work, just sit back and calm down, it has the lyrics that remind you no matter how bad your life is, you're not the only one out there who's going through this and maybe this is why I like it so much after my recent break-up, but no matter how bad you feel, then just give this a listen, it does make you feel better.
Rather than giving a track by track listing where lets be honest I'm going to be regurgitating the same things again and again about each song (which I could quite easily do, my love for the album is such), from here-on-in its going to be a review on the album as a whole. Having said that no review of this album can be made without leaving special praise for the third track 'Emergency' this was the song of Paramore's that made me stand up and take notice, and even at times got me dancing around my room listening to it, its just that catchy, Hayley's voice again is nothing but breath-taking and the actual music is again uplifting to the degree that you can't be sad after listening to this song, but before I epitomise this whole praise on Hayley alone, the whole band put there efforts into each song on the album, and it shows.
After these first 3 high-speed and volume songs Paramore slow it down a bit with such songs as 'Here we go Again' and 'Never let this go again' which again is a good platform to show Hayley's vocal range and the difference in music-styles the band have without changing 'that' much of what they're doing. As you near the end of the album they mix the slower and quicker songs up with 'Whoa' which changes pace and style so easily without being too much of a hindrance in the actual quality of the song.
Conspiracy and Franklin are 2 songs that whilst still being excellent tracks are a little weak against the rest of the album, but this is not a slight on either of them, they are great songs that on any other album would be stand-out songs, and again Hayley's voice is beautiful in both, with special mention to the drumming of Zac Farro is inspirational in Franklin, its just that this album is so strong that a 4 star song would look weak against the rest of the album.
The album ends with 'My Heart' a song that leaves you wanting more, and when the line 'Stay with me' is sang, it almost feels as if the band are begging you to carry on listening to their album, and it makes for a perfect closer to an album that although only just over half an hour long feels like you've been listening to for hours and not in a bad way at all.
Overall, I'd say that Paramore are everything Fall Out Boy want to be, there are Emo leanings there as there are towards Punk, Rock and even Pop, but its done properly, it makes you smile to listen to and it's a worthy addition to the collection of any avid music listener who's prepared to listen to something just a little bit different. Final thoughts? I'm excited, very excited and for the first time in a long time Amy Lee and her friends need to be looking over their shoulders in the race to be my favourite band, and to think, it's a group of punk kids that are doing the chasing.
You know when you finally decide to re-visit an old loved one (film that is) and you feel ashamed that youd left them alone for so long? Well thats me right now, because yesterday once again I bought the Breakfast Club after scratching my original DVD almost 2 years ago, and its like it had never left my collection.
American Pie, Never Been Kissed, Not Another Teen Movie, Bring it On and countless other Teen movies would never have been around if it wasnt for movies such as the Breakfast Club and many other of John Hughes movies, and Im not just saying that, the 80s teen movies are now a cult phenomenon, and, to be honest - I rate the Breakfast Club as the top of them all, even if it is as Jay so famously said in Dogma a movie where kids actually f****ng turn up for detention.
The premise of the movie is an easy one, 5 kids turn up for detention on a Saturday, all from different cliques, none of them knowing each other, and one by one introducing themselves into the group and starting new friendships. It sounds such a simple movie to get your head around, and in essence it is, watching it doesnt take much and it does lead to you feeling a lot better at the end.
Watching the actual storyline a lot of people are going to find themselves connecting with traits in each characters portrayal, be it the slightly geeky side of Brian, the rebellious side of Bender, the pretentious side of Claire, the need to stand up for someone that Andy shows or the attempts to be an outcast of Allison, you could probably find these traits in anyone, even more-so in teens but its these quirks in which the movie excels, in teen movies in general they seem to stereotype characters to a certain type, however the Breakfast Club, even though its 21 years old now, doesnt do that, it shows that people can have more than one side to each other and the general none storyline shows that.
Ive known of other people whove seen the movie and hated it because it didnt have a beginning, middle and end as such, but theres a reason behind that, its just about one day in peoples lives, and its trying to portray it exactly as it is, the fact that everyone has days where stuff just happens and there is no definitive outcome to the day, and for that this is why I feel it is one of the greats.
Cast-wise most names are probably still household names to most people, you have Emilio Estevez playing Andy, the sporty type, you have Molly Ringwald playing Claire, the young princess type, theres Ally Sheedy playing Allison, Judd Nelson playing Bender and the one that I always need to look up is Anthony Michael Hall playing Brian (I even needed to look it up for this review). But if you think some of those are household names now, imagine what they were like in the mid-80s, when they formed part of the infamous Brat Pack group of young actors hitting all the parties, being seen out and about and basically being friends in the public eye.
Performance wise, the one that really stands out for me is that of Judd Nelson playing Bender, every school has a Bender type character, the sort of person who causes trouble for no other reason than it seems the easiest thing to do, and Nelsons portrayal to myself at the very least hits the nail on the head perfectly, theres a bullying side to the character, but a soft side as well - as well as showing both mischievous and chivalrous traits, he shows gutsiness as well in the way that he stands up to Principal Vernon (played by Paul Gleason), and all the time its a character that you just find yourself smiling at and thats in no little part thanks to the way Judd Nelson plays him.
But thats not meant to take away from the performances given by anyone else, usually when I watch a movie, I can quite easily pick out a weak link in the cast. But I just cant when it comes to the Breakfast Club, Ally Sheedy, is memorable as the weird kid who sits in the corner making funny noises and doing random things, Emilio Estevez is at times just funny as the jock-ish type of guy who prides himself as an unofficial leader of the group, and even Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall put in performances that in any other movie would be rated as the best of the cast, theyre just hindered by being in such a good performance.
Music and Scenery wise, its a simple thing to say, its 80s music and almost all the scenery takes place in one room, but again thats what the movie is all about, showing that you dont need a big budget and massive special effects to make a good movie. Music wise, any 80s music aficionado would easily recognize the style of music with the Pop stylings of the early 80s and the only song that most people would instantly recognize being Dont you Forget about me by Simple Minds, but that doesnt mean to say that thats a bad thing either, because it isnt, it just adds to the setting of the film.
All in all Id say that this is a movie that anyone can enjoy, but even more so anyone whos aged between say 25 and 40, mainly because to some degree were all going to remember the 80s, some of us with fond memories, some of us with less than fond memories, but memories still the same - and this movie does brilliantly in brining back everyones better memories of that era, and then for people who werent around then, it shows what young life was like back then.
DVD wise - its nothing to shout home about, it was released back in the time when a DVD release just meant you had a better audio and picture on it, which mean s the features are .. You guessed it, a Theatrical trailer and an Interactive menu, nothing special but then theres not much extra you could add to it.
So go, buy the DVD of the movie, its only going to set you back at the most 10 quid, which is well worth it for the classic that it is.
Speak to any stereotypical bloke and ask him his true dream job, if he's not embarrassed by admitting the truth, most men would say - working for a porn magazine, hell most straight Men'd love to get paid to sit around an office all day either planning to go out and take pictures of naked women or picking which pictures of naked women he's taken would look good, right.... Right?. Well if any man reading agrees with the previous statement, I'd recommend picking up the Pornographer Diaries by Danny King, a humorous look at the real world of working for a porn magazine.
Godfrey Bishop is a sub on a Caravanning magazine, he's bored heck he always thought that he'd make it bigger than this, or at the very least earn a bigger pay-packet, that's when he sees an advert to start work as a sub for a new magazine, with a starting salary of £17k, on further investigation it turns out that he'd be working for porn mag 'Bling' and of course to keep the story going he gets it. As he starts to work the book quickly turns out a tale of starting out excited before finding most of your colleagues mess around all day and beggar off to the pub early in the afternoon, finding yourself slowly getting bored with porn and starting an e-mail affair with one of your writers before culminating in a court case for breaching the peace.
From the above paragraph you've probably guessed that this isn't your normal style of 'lad-lit' usually the books are along the lines of Nick Hornby and his tales of Men doing Women wrong and realising/winning them back or John O'Farrell doing pretty much the same, or Tony Parsons, again doing pretty much the same, so for a different type of book I was extremely welcoming, mainly as the jokes in all the previous writers books were getting kind of similar.
The actual cringe-worthy Ive done/seen that tales that are so expected from the usual lad-lit books are still there, but just a lot more intensified, such as the works party where you either admit to the office gossip that youve got a thing for someone else, or actually admit it to them - for example in The Pornographer Diaries, try more I came onto at least 3 people - 2 of which I really dislike anyway, first thing I did next day? Went to the pub and got bladdered again and to be honest, that makes for it being an even funnier read as you dont feel like youre re-reading your own life again as youve never done that (well Ive never done that).
Although what gives the book an added edge is that Danny King in his rise to writing his own novels actually worked as an editor for a porn magazine (he hasnt said which one) and that a lot of his tales are actually just slight embellishments of the truth. Which then gives an added snigger as it means you can imagine it happening in real life but again, just not to you.
However there is a slight gripe I have to it, almost every over lad-lit book Ive read at least had a decent storyline going along with it, The Pornographer Diaries tries, but it really doesnt at times it reads more like a dirty letter sent into the magazine itself (A Police Officer who arrested Godfrey begging to be in the magazine per chance?), which albeit I dont think Danny King was aiming to write a realistic book, but just sometimes you need something storyline-wise to keep you going in a book, and this is where the Pornographer Diaries is sadly lacking, at times youll just need to push on with it.
Also it has to be said (and youve probably guessed it), if youve got a low shock/outrage threshold then the Pornographer Diaries is probably not for you, there are explicit descriptions of Sexual acts and theres more swearing in there than a Priest with Tourettes. However it has to be expected that the kind of person to be disgusted by that isnt going to be looking to read this book.
But that gripe aside the imagery (easy) of the book is excellent, King describes most of the situations with a great detail, enough that you can imagine how the scene plays down in your own head, which I personally feel is a huge factor in any book, because if youre not able to imagine what the writers trying to tell you how are you expected to understand it?
Overall thoughts on the book are generally good, its not an excellent book by a long shot, nor will it ever be a chart-topper, but if youre bored of I nearly cheated on my wife, she found out, threw me out, I hit rock bottom, but then everything was ok again books youd do a lot worse than picking up the Pornographer Diaries, and if youre not a usual reader of the lad-lit style books but are looking for a humorous read again its worth a read. However as youd probably expect it isnt an easy book to find, I ended up picking it up off of ebay, or alternatively if you go to dannykingbooks.com youll find it on there too - usually at around a fiver.
Over my 6 years of writing there have been many opinionating forums come and go - there was the original Yahoo Dooyoo Club, then there was OpCom, Chatterweb, several others and now amongst others theres Opinionators (here-on-in called OpTors), when it comes to talking to other members and discussing Dooyoo, Ciao and Opinionating, OpTors is the choice for a new generation.
** The Site itself **
Set up originally in June 2004 its a forum led site based on the pphb forums and is easy to use, to join up all you need to do is pick a username (not necessarily your username on any of the writing sites), give a valid e-mail address and pick a password as well and youre away, if you want you can include a personal signature and avatar (the little picture next to your name) but that is all up to you.
Once youve joined its onto the actual posting side of things, theres several sub-forums set into different categories (all of which Ill get to in a minute) - in each forums theres various threads (topics) where members are chatting about 101 different things, to reply couldnt be simpler, if you want you can use the quick reply to just freetype your response in, or if youre wanting to use more advanced effects such as bold, italics, changing the font size or many other things, just click reply and youll have access to all these features.
The actual different forums themselves are all well governed and explained as well, each of the sub-forums have a short description underneath their title to ensure that you post in the right place, the sub-forums are as follows:
Site Information - simple really, its information about the site, be it updates on whats happening, generally posted in by the Site Admin with brief notes of whats happening and what it means to the actual members.
New Members - As good a place to start your OpTors career as any, its a place to give a shout out to everyone to let them know who you are, youll find that people will reply to you just to say hello and if nothing else its a good ice-breaker for everyone.
Forum Guidelines - A great place to read before you start posting, basically a few simple rules for everyone to abide by that keep the site a friendly place for everyone to be.
Opinion Sites in General - If youve got a query or comment that doesnt actually stick to one particular site then its probably best to post it in here, youll always get an intelligen and light-hearted discussion going on, but then that can be said about every forum on here.
Ciao.co.uk and Dooyoo.co.uk - Actually 2 seperate forums but basically the same thing just for different sites, if youve got something to say about Ciao or Dooyoo then chose the respective forum and post away.
Opinion Sites 101 - A list of hints and tips on how to get the best out of the sites, more appropriate for the newer user of the sites, but even a wisened old coot like myself could find something of use in here.
Entertainment - A place to discuss books, magazines, websites, music and sports amongst other things - anything you find entertaining that isnt opinionating is probably best off in here.
Other Stuff - Light hearted chat about anything not opinionated base or classed as Entertainment such as posting jokes, wierd news headlines youve seen or just random things that you dont know what to think about.
The Soapbox - If you need to rant away about something then this is the place to go - though if its an outspoken opinion prepare to get into a heated but friendly discussion with someone who disagrees with you.
Lifestyle - Say youre considering joining a gym but want advice on what sort of exercises to do (I do walking - generally past the gym to the pub - its great), then this is the place to be, but its not only gym related threads that allow me to include a crappy joke that appear in here oh no....... going on a diet? (lager diets the best), quitting the fags? (take up drinking lager - itll give you something to hold in your hands) - then theres plenty of advice in here for you.
** The feel of the place **
I honestly think that OpTprs has been given an unfair bad reputation, a lot of people see it as a place for gossiping, snidy comments, bitching and people being too opinionated. Firstly in response to the last one of that list I hate to sound narky but the clues in the title of the site as to what youre going to get, on OpTors theres no such thing as too opinionated, and if you wasnt opinionated at all then a lot (not all mind) of the parts of the site are going to feel a bit off for you.
However onto the other comments being thrown at the place, gossiping is one thing Id say doesnt happen at OpTors as much as the detractors would like you to believe, theres a lot of talks about general issues that have happened on the opinionating sites but rarely have I ever seen people being openly gossiped about and when it has happened Id take my hats off to the Mods and Administrators who are quick to jump in and nip it in the bud.
Finally the snidy and bitching comments again I think have been taken out of proportion, as with any place theres people who just arent going to be got - who may seem like theyre openly being nasty and having a go at you, but thats just their sense of humour and/or personality, heck the world would be boring if everyone was the same and if someone really annoys you, just dont get into discussions with them.
My own opinion of the feel of the place is that like many forums on this here interweb it needs a bit of time getting used to, just slowly ease yourself into posting and youll find that theres not really one bad egg in the whole of the OpTors membership, granted things get heated at times but that could be said of any forum on the web, its how the site deals with these situations that makes it, and I feel that this one has it just right, letting people carry on so long as they dont get downright nasty or personal.
** Overall **
I honestly think that OpTors is a great resource for all members of Opinionating sites, be it to discuss the latest goings on in Dooyoo Towers or Ciao Halls, or looking for information on the latest meet thats being planned or just to chat to other members you cant go wrong.
Lastly a quick comment about the moderating of the site, moderating any forum is going to be a tough job, you need to keep the respect of the members whilst not letting them run riot either - I feel the OpTors mods have got it spot on in their balance on this, so long as you dont flount the rules or get nasty then you shouldnt have a problem at all and because of this I take my hat off to these kind people.
Not wanting to sound up myself but when it comes to movies like the X-Men Trilogy Im probably one of the hardest people to please - reason being? Not only am I a fan of Movies in General, Im also a big Comic-Book fan, so no matter how good a movie is, if it isnt up to the standard of the Comic or if theres parts changed (even if for the better) then Im not happy, however after leaving The Last Stand I had a half smile on my face at how well it had been done as a Comic-Book movie, but as a Stand Alone movie, well the jurys still out on that one.
The general storyline behind the movie is simple - there are people living amongst us who thanks to a different gene in their system have different powers whove been dubbed Mutants, the general public have been raised to almost fear them and the whole ethic of being a Mutant is an illness. Fast forward to present day and theres been a cure found to the Mutant Gene that leaves the recipients normal humans however some Mutants arent happy at this and have decided to stand up and fight against it, throw in a second group of Mutants that although they dont like the idea of a cure they also dont want to wage war to stop it and add in a Major character coming back from the dead with an evil streak re-born in her and youve got the premise of The Last Stand. Now that is an extremely quick and short synopsis of the general storyline and believe me that its a lot more intertwined than that and if I was to go into detail then youd still be reading this review tomorrow - but hopefully you get the general idea.
Onto the specifics of the movie and firstly to how the storylines played out - it does the comic-book version proud, in the books although the storylines are mostly serious there was always an underlying humour to the story and a lot of times in Movie versions of comic books youll see that they dont hit the tone right and it either ends up too serious or too jokey, in The Last Stand theyve hit the nail on the head. Wolverine is as picky as ever, and the new characters brought in stay loyal to their paper bound counterparts.
Then theres the story itself, as with the whole of the X-Men franchise be it Comic-Book, Cartoon or Movie theres always a general theme of acceptance of those different to the majority and The Last Stand is no exception - and to a degree the story is done well, but its also a tad rushed, in a total of 1 and 3 quarter hours theres several new characters to introduce, several shocking moments and 2 major storylines to intertwine with each other and its a bit too action packed so to speak.
Onto the acting performances, when I first looked at the cast sheet 2 names startled me in a not so good way, firstly Vinnie Jones playing Juggernaut, a man whos acting talents have never impressed me and secondly Kelsey Grammar playing Beast, the idea of the man behind both Frasier Crane and Sideshow Bob being in an X-Men Movie just seemed wrong, but having said that neither of them majorly disappointed me when it all ended up on the big screen, in fact Id go as far as saying Grammar wowed me as Beast and almost seemed born for the role.
From the rest of the cast there isnt one bad performance I can think of, however there are plenty of characters that stood out especially Famke Janssen playing Jean Grey/Phoenix - in the 2 previous films shes always been good, but heck she takes it up a notch in this one, so much so that my comments to my fellow filmgoers were along the lines of She can have my Babies, when shes on screen even if shes just standing there and not saying a word she has a controlling presence. However thats not taking anything away from any of the other characters, Halle Berry will never be one of my favourite actresses but she makes the character of Storm her own, even though she had no character explanation Ellen Page plays the character of Kitty Pryde excellently and then as per always Sir Ian Mckellen and Patrick Stewart play the characters of Magneto and Professor X to absolute perfection.
As can be expected with such a huge release the Special Effects have been done to a tee, in a movie where random people have different special powers its obvious that a lot of your times going to be spent showing them off, be it a bit of lighting effects, CGI showing a character flying through the air or manipulation of a characters features, it has to be a big part of the movie - but it doesnt seem tacked on like it so easily could have been and it does adds an extra edge to the movie.
Music and Scenery wise the producers have again gotten it spot on, the woods where a major part of the film are simply breath-taking and add to the action feel of the film. Then there are the mock-ups of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge - both times they seem so lifelike to the originals. Music-wise its there, its great but its not in your face and is almost incidental to the film, which makes it just that little bit better as an overpowering soundtrack would have ruined the movie in my eyes.
So overall thoughts? Its good but its not the greatest it could have been, the way they forced too much action and too many new characters into a film that it does at times seem like a bit of a mess, but as a comic-book translation it excels itself, its one of those rare things that is both a semi-decent film but a true to book cross over and for that I applaud it, and finally saying this - its a movie that NEEDS to be seen on the big screen, getting it on DVD wont do the special effects justice, plus if Famke Janssen ever reads this - marry me?
Its bad it really is - Wrestling fans have the reputation of being geeks, hell its one of those hobbies that people just laugh at - you want to know how bad it is? When you go and buy the latest Wrestling Game from your local computer game store its better to pretend its a present for your non-existent young son than to admit its for yourself.
The actual premise of the game is slightly different from the TV shows and Pay-Per-Views that WWE put on, in the game the result isnt pre-determined, in basic its a fighting game thats different from the norm of the Tekken, Street-Fighter and Mortal Kombat series, the reason being is the actual fighting environment, the standard match takes place in a wrestling ring and its surroundings, plus theres a referee there to make sure you dont cheat. The aim of each match is simple, beat your opponent enough so that you can pin them (hold their shoulders down to the mat for the count of 3 by the referee) or they submit.
But thats not the attraction to Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 (here on in referred to as the game), more the fact that theres a huge variety of matches that you can take part in, a brief run down of them are:
Cage Match: The ring is surrounded by a metal cage that keeps anyone from escaping the ring, your mission is to beat your opponent enough that you can climb the cage and get out before they get up. This type of match Id find as the dullest in the game, its generally a case of repetitively attacking your opponent then climbing the cage and for a long time youll find that just as youre about to escape your opponent will make a miraculous recovery and be able to knock you back into the ring which just makes it drag.
Hell in a Cell: Similar to the Cage match except theres a roof on the cage, this time you need to beat your opponent the standard way of pinning or submission but you get the added bonus of the fact you can break out of the cell and climb to the top where if youre lucky enough you can throw your opponent off the top of the cell or even through the roof causing a lot of damage to them and leaving them easy pickings for the win. Because of this youll find the match is a lot more fun, but extremely frustrating if you get knocked off the roof yourself and its then a long fight to actually win the match.
Buried Alive Match: Beat your opponent so bad that you can lead them to a casket outside the ring, throw them in it and close the lid on them, theres no disqualifications here so believe it or not its one of the easier style of matches and fun to take any post-work frustrations out on.
Slobber-Knocker: You fight opponents 1 on 1, beat them and another enters the ring, this carries on until you finally get beaten yourself. This is actually quite fun, as your opponents seem to be weaker than they are in a normal match so you can rattle off quite a few quite quickly, but again it does get repetitive.
Royal Rumble: 30 man over the top rope challenge - again it starts 1 on 1 until there are 6 wrestlers in the ring, the only way to eliminate an opponent is to throw them over the top rope - once you have another man comes down, until youve thrown the last man over the top - once again its easier than it sounds, as the system to throw out is extremely easy and all you need to do is hit buttons on your joy pad as quick as you can.
There are 5 examples of what are up to 100 different types of match you can have on the game, needless to say when there are 100 varieties of match you can get a lot of similar game styles that only have slight twitches in them - they may be aesthetically extremely different but when it comes down to the game play theyll be exactly the same.
Wrestler wise - all the big names from the middle of last year are on there, reason its so back-dated is that WWE have to give a list of their current roster quite early for it to be included in the game and that means cuts and additions dont get taken into account. But all the big names are there - to give an example of a few: Batista, Kane, Undertaker, John Cena, Carlito, Chris Masters, Big Show, Rey Mysterio are in there amongst many others and an extensive Legends list that includes Ted Dibiase, Old School Kane, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and the British Bulldog.
This leads me to a slight niggle with the game - as its the first one that was released both on PS2 and the PSP there are some features that you can only unlock on one system - which seems to be a sneaky way to make people buy 2 copies of the game and this is a trend that I honestly hope doesnt move on into the future of cross-over gaming.
But onto the thing that makes or breaks a game - the longevity of it and the game has it in stacks - its got that just one more go factor that so rarely comes out in games basically meaning youll find that you keep saying that and 2 hours later youre still playing it. It also has a good feature of 2 different types of season mode - you can play as a wrestler going out there trying to get the belt or you can be the general manager of a show trying to increase the ratings, again this just adds to the longevity of the game as once youve finished one side of it you feel compelled to complete the other side as well.
As well as all the above theres the unlockables on the game - complete certain challenges and youll find that you get new wrestlers, outfits and belts to go after, as well as that theres also a situation where you get points for each match you compete in, with these points you can buy even more updates to make the game even bigger.
One niggle I do have is with the control set - fair play that its going to be hard to make them varied but every character has the same basic move set which makes for the game to be a bit too easy to use with everyone, in fact the only difference is if youve picked a smaller character then he wont be able to pick up the bigger opponents, as well as that there are a lot of parts of the game that require frantic button pressing - and I thought wed got away from that after Daley Thompsons Decathalon on the old Commodore 64.
Graphics and Music wise as you can expect this edition has again surpassed the previous edition of the series, the actual wrestlers are even more realistic and finally have expressions that match whats going on on screen. The surrounding environments have also been made a lot more interactive, throw someone into a wall and boxes may fall from above, throw them into a table of food and you get the chance to smash their head into a pie or they may get scolded on the coffee that's sat on the table.
With the music side its the standard youd expect from WWE games - a rock soundtrack always strumming along in the background unless your wrestlers coming out for a match, at which point his entrance music will play - quick note here, this time theyve actually got everyone's correct music where-as in previous editions there was the odd occasion when a generic music was used due to licensing issues. As well as the music youll find that all the wrestlers actually talk in backstage segments now where-as in previous incarnations the only wrestlers that talked were your opponents and you had to rely on reading subtitles for what your character said - it may only be a slight tweak but it makes the game a lot more interesting.
Overall its a good game - one that non-wrestling fans would enjoy, but wrestling fans would enjoy a lot more - however Id still recommend picking up a second-hand copy rather than pay full price or perhaps waiting for it to hit the Platinum series as it invariably will.
Think of times where you see people attached to movies that just dont seem to fit - look at the X-Men 3 movie coming out next year, Vinnie Jones doesnt seem right as Juggernaut does he? When the Lord of the Rings trilogy was announced I almost choked on my coffee when Sean Bean was announced as Boromir and when I saw the trailers for Green Street I was shocked to see Elijah Wood in a movie about football hooliganism, but the story fits the character and actor so well that its led to a good film, but rather than just saying that, read on.
The story follows that of Matt (played by Elijah Wood) who has recently been wrongly expelled from a Journalism course at Harvard University after taking the fall for his drug-dealing friend, jaded with the world he travels to England to visit his sister who emigrated to live with her husband and gets introduced to the family. One of the family he meets is the brother in law Pete a football fan who takes him to his first soccer game, at this game he gets his first taste of running with the Green Street firm which is basically joining the seething underworld of football hooliganism and getting involved with the planning and violence involved.
The heart of any good film is always in the casting, a great story with a crappy cast will always bomb, you need the people who can portray your characters and their emotions correctly, the ones who make you believe in the characters they are playing, luckily Green Street has one of the most aptly chosen casts in a long time.
As said at the start of the review I was shocked to see Elijah Wood attached to the movie, but his casting as Matt is perfect, he owns the screen when hes on it, and his portrayal of the outsider trying to fit in in a brand new world is at times exquisite. That was a hard thing for me to say back there, as away from the Lord of the Rings trilogy Ive never been a great fan of Woods work, but after seeing Green Street Im prepared to give the guy another go.
Another great choice was Claire Forlani playing Shannon, Matts sister - as Matt gets deeper and deeper into Hooliganism she plays the contrasting part with ease. Her character provides a great look at what its like for people looking in from the outside and watching people you love get sucked into something you dont want them to.
Then you come onto the existing members of the Green Street firm specifically Pete played by Charlie Hunnam and Bovver played by Lee Gregory. At the start of the film youre expected to believe that these 2 amongst everyone else in the Firm are no good unemployable thugs who do nothing other than drink, go to football and get in fights, and they do that quite well, then as the movie carries on and the characters develop they continue to show their characters on screen without overdoing it.
Finally you get to the supporting cast, theres plenty of people in the background who appear from time to time, some of them who have an impact on the story, others who are just there to fill the screen. The main 2 that stick out from this are Tommy Hatcher played by Geoff Bell who is the leader of the Green Street Firms biggest rivals and Steve played by Marc Warren who is Shannons husband and brother to Pete, both of them make an impact on-screen when they come onto it but they dont steal scenes away from the main cast.
The actual story in the film is a great one - its one that teaches an undertone of loyalty to your friends and family and the portrayal of Matts descent into joining the firms is great - none of the themes seem forced upon the film and theres always a point to the scene being acted out in front of you. This is a rare commodity in films today as a lot of them include scenes that are of no need to the story its telling. But not with Green Street.
Obviously a big part of the film is the violence in it, its often its frequent and at times its very very bloody, for a good idea remember the I wanted to destroy something beautiful scene in Fight Club? Imagine 2 Gangs of people doing that to each other, and imagine it happening multiple times within a couple of hours, its an extremely visceral movie, but the violence gets the point across of how some of these Firm wars get at times and its never done over the top.
Final views on the movie side of things, are towards soundtrack and location - the location is all based around the streets and localities of London, giving it a dark and dangerous look which is in line with the film, and it adds to the whole feelings that its meant to be giving you. The soundtrack was one of the biggest selling points as it includes a lot of todays hip young bands including Kasabian, Disturbed and the Stone Roses, and it all fits in with the feel and general aura of the movie - never once does it seem as if the music is out of place - and it all adds up to it being a good film.
When you get the DVD naturally youre going to get Special Features, included in the DVD are an interview with Elijah Wood about the difference between playing Frodo and playing Matt, a look into the violence in the movie, a Making of featurette, One Blood music video, the trailers from both the US and the UK for the movie and a talk with director Lexi Alexander about her inspiration behind the movie.
Now with Special Features I personally feel that a lot of the time theyre not worth the film they were filmed on, but on the Green Street Disc they seem extremely informative and relevant, in her talks about the inspiration for the film Alexander is extremely open and honest with her feelings, that is rare to see in this type of feature and the Making of featurette is extremely in-depth and makes the movie all the more worthwhile seeing. The music video and the trailers are both the standard fare and in fact the only one I didnt feel anything towards was the interview with Elijah Wood, it felt a tiny bit like Green Street was trying to fly on Lord of the Rings coat-tails a bit, which it doesnt need to do.
The actually quality of the transition onto DVD is again as good as that when the film was originally showed in the cinemas, not once does the picture skip or does the soundtrack never plays outside of Sync with the movie being played.
Final thoughts are that this is a worthy addition to anyones DVD collection - its a gritty drama that probably wont get the critical acclaim it deserves because of its subject matter, but what I would say is that this is not the kind of film you want playing when kids are around, its extremely visceral and violent, but if you get chance by all means get it for a good film to watch on a night when theres nothing better to do.
Youre getting bored now arent you? Once again Im at it with a review of yet another Wrestling autobiography, well, ummm yeah - Ive suggested about 15 of em in total, so get used to it. Once again a quick description of the man whose life story youre going to read. Adam Copeland, better known to wrestling fans as Edge, multi-time tag team champion as well as having plenty of singles titles to his name who in early 2003 had surgery on a broken neck and then came back to the ring in the middle of 2004, this is where the book stops, since then hes gone on to have a much publicised affair with Amy Dumas (better known as Lita) and won the WWE Title.
This book marks a rarity in Wrestling Autobiography - shock horror, no Ghost writer, Copeland has gone out there and wrote the book himself, which gives it a uniqueness as you know for a fact that this IS his story, its not some hack tapping away at a keyboard listening to recorded conversations and putting it in his own words, this is Adam Copeland telling you his story and telling it how hed like it to be told as well.
When the book was first announced Ill openly say I had my concerns about it, I was excited because Copeland was and is one of my favourite wrestlers, however I was also a little bit worried as compared to some wrestlers his career hasnt been that long yet, hed been around the wrestling scene since 1993 but not in the big-time till 98, throw in the best part of 2 years injured that gave him 4 years of WWE experience to write about, however thats made the book all the more interesting.
Whats refreshing to see is that Copeland has a very different story to almost every other wrestlers autobiography that Ive read - most wrestlers who get their own autobiography have been in the game for years, going back to the days of when wrestlers spoke in kayfabe. For those of you that dont know what kayfabe means - its the same as carney - a language that performers use when non-performers are around to keep the secrets of the business secret. What youve got to remember is wrestling before the early 90s was always portrayed as real and the performers did whatever they could to protect the business that made them. When Copeland came into this business these days were over, the internet was starting to boom so there was no point protecting the business any more, and this leads to a completely different kind of book from any other the others.
The actually story Copeland has to tell is split into 3 sections, you get to hear about his upbringing and training to be a wrestler, then his days travelling around on the independent shows scrimping to earn a living as far as sometimes not even earning his travel expenses and then onto the big time with the WWE.
The shape of the book is one thats been done fantastically, Copeland never spends too long on one story, which is a popular trait of the wrestling auto biographer, Copeland keeps it so you do want to turn the page and read on about how he came over each adversity, whilst also keeping readers interested by including stories that keep the reader interested and at times laughing, theres tales of driving over frozen lakes in winter to make it to booking, of how he got his break in wrestling not by being spotted by a grizzled old trainer, more by winning an essay contest that had a first prize of 1 years free wrestling training.
You also find out about his friendship with Jason Reso, better known to wrestling fans as Christian Cage, a man he describes as his brother, he gives stories from their growing up as children and his delight when Reso was also picked up by WWE and then told he would be teaming with Copeland as a tag-team.
The final and most interesting part of the story is of how Edge broke his neck and the subsequent surgery, recuperation and how he coped with the life-changing experience. The benefit of this is that because its Copeland writing this you get to hear his personal thoughts and feelings on it. He actually writes about how close to depression he gets, and how he gets a mixture of nervous and excited when it gets near to his come-back, culminating in what genuinely reads as if it was diary entry after he makes his successful return to the ring.
In total again this is one of the better wrestling autobiographies, the story is an inspiring one. its about a kid who made it when at many times he feared he wouldnt, and also its about a man whos made it only for serious injuries to take it all away again and how he made it back to the top of the pile a second time. The thing that lets it down is the what at reading seems like a heartfelt chapter thanking his wife for being by his side which with hindsight reads cheap as less than a year later he started an affair with one of his best friends girlfriend, and sadly that does take a little bit of shine off the book, but not enough to spoil what is genuinely a good read and an inspiring one at that. In ending, Id say that it is a good book to read and one of the better wrestling autobiographies that are out there at the minute, but if youre wanting to get it on the cheap - pick up the paper-back copy, its about £10 cheaper.
Oh god hes at it again, Im sure the groans are going out around the world of Dooyoo right now, but yep - as I sit here watching Wrestlemania 22 I bring myself to think of how a book can inspire you to do better, or how it can inspire you to overcome bad times in your life.
A quick introduction to who Lita actually is, needless to say as its a wrestling autobiography that this review is about, Lita (real name Amy Dumas) is a member of the WWE (formerly WWF until legal proceedings by the World Wildlife Fund). Basically this means that she is a female wrestler or as WWE would prefer you to see it - shes a WWE Diva which means that when they do the photo-shoots with women stripping down to bikini's in various locations around the world - more often than not therell be pictures of Lita involved.
Now on reading that previous paragraph youd be forgiven for thinking of Lita as little more than the American equivalent of the UKs Page 3 girls, even more so when I mention that before wrestling she worked as a stripper, but shes more than that - shes a lady that defined womens wrestling today, made it possible for them to actually show wrestling moves, and she gave a lot of female fans an open door to admitting to liking wrestling.
As with all but 3 of the WWEs in-house produced autobiographies, the book wasnt actually wrote by Lita, more-in it was actually wrote by a ghost-writer, this time by Michael Krugman - the same man who wrote the Hardy Boyz autobiography Exist 2 Inspire - this decision was probably taken after discussion with both of the Hardy brothers, and more-so as Krugman had done a good job on his previous wrestling offerings as well.
But enough about the author and subjects pedigree, onto the actual book itself, as with almost all other wrestling autobiographies, it starts off focussing on Litas up-bringing and child-hood, telling the tale of how she moved around a bit, but at a young age found a liking for 2 things - caring for animals and punk rock music. However to keep your hardcore wrestling fan interested the book doesnt settle on this too long - actually less than 100 pages go by before we start to get into the wrestling side of things, but I feel that there is actually a lot of interesting stories told in that first 100 pages.
Firstly theres tales of travelling Europe in the back of a bands camper van following them on tour through Germany and other European countries, then theres the tales from when she was working for animal shelters surviving on a shoe-string budget onto finding a better paying living as a stripper but that including its own bad-sides as well including a tale of one of the local drug dealers who found out all her personal details just from knowing her fake stripper name.
I suppose the background tale is just to try and give you a feeling of how hard the up-bringing of Lita was and to perhaps inspire you into pushing for your own goals, and to a point it did, but the main inspiration is to come from the wrestling training and progression story to come.
Once we get into the introduction to wrestling start of things, we get to the crux of how Lita became the WWE Superstar that is known worldwide starting in a trip to Mexico to see the Lucha Libre style wrestling that is prevalent there. It talks of how Lita didnt know where to go to start her training or even to watch a local show, it tells of her struggles with the language barrier and then onto getting to see a show and getting hooked on the wrestling product.
From there you go onto how she meets up with the Hardy Brothers, and her start on the independent scenes, which eventually led to her booking with the renegade promotion ECW, which was the needed pathway to get her to WWE. The reason Im not going too much into detail about the actual path taken is because I dont want to be spoiling the book to anyone whod be interested in reading it, either before or because of this review.
However a couple of interesting parts to bring up to whet the potential readers appetite for the book, theres tales from where she took a chance to appear on national television with WWE whilst she was on a week to week contract with ECW and how she found that Tommy Dreamer (one of the booking staff at ECW who is also known for being a wrestler) was none too happy at her doing it as well as how she reacted to fellow WWE Superstar Stacy Keibler when she thought that Keibler was hitting on her boyfriend.
But away from all of that theres one part of the tale that is extremely inspirational to myself, mainly because in my own personal life Ive gone through a similar yet lot less harsh reality of it. A lot of you may have heard of an American Sci-Fi TV Show called Dark Angel - well Lita had a 1-episode part on the series, in which she had to do a Hurricanrana move (for none-wrestling fans imagine someone jumping wrapping their legs around the opponents neck, then arching back pulling the opponent with them), this is a move shes done countless times before but she felt it only right to go through some training with her co-star on the show - the shows producers said no, call it sods law, call it what you will but she ended up landing on the floor head first.
Over the next week or so she was mis-diagnosed by more than one doctor, and actually continued to travel with the WWE and make appearances whilst in constant pain, eventually one of the WWEs specialist doctors on spine and neck injuries diagnosed a broken neck and she was instantly taken in for treatment.
The last few chapters of the book actually focus on Litas recovery from this injury, how she focussed on the training given to her to keep fit, how she returned to the WWE screens and the sort of things she did to keep her life as normal as possible, the actual tale ends just before she was scheduled to be back on-screen full time.
You may ask why it is that I personally find this tale inspiring? Its because Ive lived a lot lighter version of it at the start of this year where for 3 weeks I was walking around with one of the plates in my neck fractured and more than one doctor had misdiagnosed it. Because of this when I recently re-read this book I found myself identifying with the feelings told by Lita, and how she wanted her life to just be normal, and the kinds of things she did to find that.
Overall thoughts? The books good - its one of the better wrestling autobiographies and if it wasnt for the fact that Mick Foley is a writing god, then itd be in my top 3 wrestling books of all time, but its still very very good. My reasons? Going through the book, Krugmans wrote it almost as if it was you sat there interviewing Lita in a bar or a coffee shop somewhere, the story actually seems personal, a nice little quirk being a random top ten list of her favourite things inserted in the book here and there. But theres also the insight into backstage politics that she puts across, mostly from her ECW days but even a little bit from her current time with the WWE, and finally its the inspiration ability of the book, it makes you feel that you too can live your dreams, it makes you think that you can overcome any bad situation that you come across, and it just makes you feel better about yourself.
So if youre a wrestling fan, or just interested in reading a personal tale that's a bit different from the norm, Id strongly recommend getting this autobiography, even more-so as its only £6.59 on Amazon at the minute.