21 Jump Street

I wasn’t expecting much from this, but was chuckling from the outset. It’s one for fans of Harold & Kumar, Hot Fuzz, Rush Hour and American Pie. Surprisingly, impressively funny.

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Most horrifying fan art ever

Nicolas Cage Jurassic Park t-rex dinosaur

This made me laugh a lot. See, I can sympathise. My own attempts at fan art have suffered a little in the execution. For example Continue reading

Catching Fire / Mockingjay

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The Hunger Games saga doesn’t have a happy ending. That’s not to say it’s unremittingly grim – and, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it – but this is no fairytale.

Sure, the Hunger Games trilogy started predictably enough – “Battle Royale With Cheese”, the joke that never stops being funny – there the similarity ends. It’s being hyped as this year’s Twilight, but despite featuring a clumsily tacked-on love triangle with two cardboard-cutout boys, it couldn’t be more dissimilar. It might be marketed by a children’s publisher, but it makes Harry Potter‘s darker moments look like Dr Seuss: I’ll see your neglected orphan and raise you torture, mutilation, human trafficking and all-out war. Not the glossy TV kind of war, either, but the kind where people lose eyeballs. And tongues. It almost makes the new Evil Dead look nice.  Continue reading

First impressions: My Bloody Valentine – MBV

mbv

After Kevin Shields’s teasing announcement last week that the new My Bloody Valentine album, mbv, would be out in “two or three days”, he’s proved as good as his word. Fans of Loveless will be relieved to note that mbv continues very much in that vein, all shimmering soundscapes of layered distortion and drifting, insubstantial vocals. Most pleasing of all, My Bloody Valentine haven’t lost their ear for a fine pop hook, as mbv continues its predecessor’s trick of wrapping hummable tunes in trippy weirdness. Only Tomorrow could almost pass for Nine Inch Nails in their Bowie-Berlin phase, a companion-piece to The Day The World Went Away. Then, halfway through the album, mbv starts to get really interesting. Continue reading

First impressions: Buke And Gase – General Dome

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I keep putting this off because I want to do it justice and I’m worried about saying the wrong things. I don’t want to overegg it – oversell it – but I do want you to hear it because you really need General Dome.

General Dome isn’t this year’s Screamadelica, but it is this year’s King of Limbs: that album that leaves you with a satisfied smile on your face feeling like all is right with the world. I’m more relieved than thrilled because I was so worried that Buke And Gase would let me down. I’d built them up as so frustratingly close to true brilliance but who had only given glimpses of their staggering potential. General Dome is how they start to realise it: to combine infectious melodies, depth and innovation in one iridescent, shimmering package.

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The Hunger Games

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How was this even a hit? That’s my first thought, as I wrangle with its inelegant prose. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had an unpopular opinion: I hated The Road so much that I left it on the train. The first-person narrative is jarring, since it’s Katniss’s voice, and she uses a language that nobody real would speak. It’s how people in books speak. It’s awful, but somehow I make it through.

Then, some way in, I realise that I am sat on a bus reading this popular teen novel on the Kindle app on my smartphone, and that people are probably looking at me. I have tears streaming down my cheeks.  Continue reading

Dredd

Dredd2012Poster

I don’t fancy Karl Urban.

I mean, normally I fancy Karl Urban. On the special features bit of this DVD, it’s hard enough for me not to start licking the television screen, because normally Karl Urban looks like this

Karl Urban Pathfinder

but it’s testament to Karl Urban’s skill and humility as an actor that his screen-lickable sexiness is entirely forgotten when he spends the entire film with a grotesque scowl on the only part of his face visible beneath the trademark helmet. Which he never removes.

Sylvester Stallone removed the helmet when he played Judge Dredd, which is what was wrong with that film and what is right with this one.  Continue reading

First impressions: Death Grips – The Money Store

death grips cover art the money store

At the end of the Come Up And Get Me video, I saw MC Ride’s soul: a resigned vulnerability. It was like looking into the face of a bear and meeting the eyes of a man. It’s a slap in the face after being punched in the throat; a startle on top of a shock. He’d seemed only nominally human.

I’m hearing this the wrong way round – The Money Store is the first album. I loved I’ve Seen Footage, but hadn’t heard the rest until now. Too busy listening to No Love Deep Web, the latter album they put out for free a few months back. If No Love Deep Web had been brutal, The Money Store is sheer bloody carnage. It could teach Numb a thing or two about anger, and give Silverfish a lesson in vitriola.

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Brave

Brave_Poster

Watching Brave on a mobile phone as a passenger in a moving car was probably not the best way to watch Disney-Pixar’s latest fairy tale, but it was the only chance I’d get to see it. Even so, it was subject to several interruptions as my 13 month-old tried to pull the phone out of my hand.

The other film I’d rented through Google Play was the British animation, Arthur Christmas, and the difference in quality was remarkable: this is how the professionals do it.

The first, biggest, most obvious thing about Brave is that it is astonishingly beautiful. The lush colours, the realistic water animations, the sheer spectacle of the Scottish countryside – which is as much Brave‘s headline star as New Zealand toplined Lord of the Rings. The obligatory princess, Merida, is breathtaking, too – her hair deserves a movie of its own. Or perhaps this is it.

Brave: a movie about really luxuriant coppery tresses.  Continue reading