Month: June 2014

Penny Dreadful, Review

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Penny Dreadful is horror series, freshly finished its first season, from Showtime, taking classic horror stories and characters from old favourites such as DraculaFrankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray and placing fascinating new twists layered over plot-points to create a unique and engaging story. In it, African explorer Sir Malcom Murray hunts relentlessly for his kidnapped daughter, Mina Murray (or Harker, seeing as she was recently married) with the aid of Vanessa Ives and Sembene, later enlisting the help of Ethan Chandler and Dr. Victor Frankenstein. But they find a lot more than just vampires in their search. Something old and evil haunts Vanessa, posing links to both the vampires, and Christian and Egyptian mythology both, even as some unknown horror stalks the streets of London, leaving carnage in its wake.

The premise instantly intrigues me, and does not disappoint. Penny Dreadful is fantastically dark, expertly weaving psychological and classical horror together to leave me absorbed and definitely creeped out.

While the plot is fun enough, it is the compelling characters that drive the story for me personally, and both the re-written and original characters drag you screaming eagerly into their world.

I particularly love Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), the darkly mysterious woman with a past tying her to Mina Harker, and something evil stalking her even as it seems to lie within her. The wit and drama she delivers are flawless, and her harsher scenes in ‘Seance’ and ‘Possession’ left me genuinely disturbed, difficult even for me to watch, and I revel in good horror!

Sir Malcom (Timothy Dalton) intrigued, but frustrated me. He has his secretiveness, and his ulterior motives, such that when they come to the light, leave you feeling less than warm and fuzzy toward him. But his tenacity is admirable and he admittedly has his redeeming moments.

Ethan (Josh Hartnett), our American sharpshooter with serious Daddy-issues, is a strange one. His own emotional moments had me tearing up myself on occasion, while certain points of his intensity had me very suspicious – that is, until it finally clicked. If you watch very closely, you’ll figure out fairly quickly what’s going on with Ethan and his secrets, and if not, it’s a wonderfully grim revelation that has me very excited for his story-lines in the future.

Brona Croft (Billie Piper), savvy but sickly Irish prostitute, was another that had me in tears. Though she is slowly and painfully dying of consumption as she struggles to make enough money just to eat, she falls for Ethan, and him for her, it would seem. I felt as helpless as he did, knowing there was no help for her – but her story is far from over.

Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway). Well, I bet you know where this is going! Some time after his disastrous first creation was brought to life, we see him feverishly trying to again pierce the veils between life and death (a very big theme of Penny Dreadful as a whole), and his past coming back to haunt him. I love Victor’s characterisation; he is naive, but dark, young, but with horrors in his eyes. He is an easily lovable character, even as he is a total walking disaster.

Speaking of walking disasters… Dorian Gray’s (Reeve Carney) story is well known to us all, and he certainly lives up to it in this incarnation of his character. He is free, pleasure-seeking, has an obsession with portraits, and seduces or sleeps with anything with hip-gyrating capabilities, but I cannot dislike him. It’s his vices that seem to make him, and I actually find myself cheering him on a bit, just to see how far he can go before things inevitably come crashing down around him. And it seems Vanessa may be a large part of that crashing. Sadly, his portrait has not yet been seen from the front, so we can only guess at how much he has eroded his soul, but his actions within the series and his overall character suggests that it’s probably a hell of a lot.

One of the show’s greatest virtues, outside of these characters, is its sincerity. It takes no joy in outsmarting viewers, or even taking itself too seriously. It is what it is, and doesn’t dance around that.

I’ll admit that the first two episodes may leave you a little confused as to what the heck is going on, which is often a pet peeve of mine. I don’t always enjoy shows that make me work for it. But stick with it – things do come together, and it is very much worth it when they do. And yes, some of it’s pulpy shock-factor can be a little over the top.

Despite this, its silliness adds to its charm for me, and makes the weird ride that much more fun!

Here’s to the next season being as successfully creepy, fun, dark and sexy as the first! And to finding out what’s up with that mysterious Sembene (Danny Sapani)??

4.5/5 Stars! Only 8 episodes long this season, but so very worth the watch!

– Meg

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The Fault In Our Stars (movie) – a review

fault-in-our-stars-movie-poster-fullSo I’ve been writing these reviews for a few months now, and I’ve come to realise that I have yet to write anything even slightly negative about anything that I’ve reviewed. Well, brace yourselves – in this instalment, I’m going to jump right into the deep end and review a movie that has greatly disgruntled me and has left me with more complaints than I’ve had about a film in a long time.

[And before I get any angry comments about anything I’ve written here, remember that all of this is my personal opinion and I’m not trying to convert anyone into sharing my views, I’m just writing this for myself and anyone else who may share my thoughts].

Okay, so, The Fault in Our Stars. Wonderful premise – two teenagers who are suffering from cancer find love and happiness in each other, if only for a brief time. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded sweet and promising; not just for the love story, but for the way that it was shedding light on people suffering from long-term illnesses and the struggles and pain that they endure – I got the book, devoured it in a few days, and found it entertaining enough. So I was understandably excited when I heard about the movie adaption – however, I soon discovered that my excitement was unnecessary and, frankly, undeserved.

First of all – the acting. As you may imagine, acting is a crucial part of what makes a film great or not, and while some people raved about the cast selected to portray the protagonists in TFIOS, I personally did not share their enthusiasm. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, playing Hazel and Gus, respectively, give performances which I would classify as wooden and unconvincing; this gives the movie an all-round mediocre feel, with the ‘love’, which I expected to be apparent between the characters, falling flat and coming across as awkward and clunky at times.

This then translates over into the ruining of the powerful quotes that have since been taken from the book and adopted by fans everywhere – while the words are beautiful on paper and should leave the audience mesmerised, the delivery of these quotes are often tedious and dull, so much so that I actually felt quite awkward when watching the characters deliver these lines, as it all just felt false and oftentimes pretentious. This made the romance in general lack that spark of ‘realness’, and this sentiment was shared by the friends I saw the movie with, who also expressed feeling a lack of connection to both the characters and their apparent feelings for each other.

Acting aside, the movie itself was basically a dud – scenes which I had been eagerly anticipating did not live up to my expectations and it all seemed a little forced from beginning to end. Nothing about it seemed genuine – I felt no emotion or sorrow throughout the film, which says a lot considering the fact that the majority of the young girls in the cinema were sobbing uncontrollably by the end. However, their tears seemed a little futile, mainly because they were moved to tears by something as simple as Gus smiling, so I don’t really think their thoughts would be a very valid source of opinion in terms of criticism or pointing out the movie’s flaws.

Also, there was one scene in particular which really stood out to me and made me really wonder why I’d paid to see this film in the first place – in which Hazel is soliloquising about how much pain she is in after losing Gus, and she compares losing him to the pain she has experienced while suffering from cancer. She then goes on to say that losing him was in fact more painful than her cancer, and this really made me blanch for a moment, because I couldn’t help but wonder how that might make someone with cancer feel, to see their pain and suffering reduced to being less painful that suffering from heartbreak – don’t get me wrong, heartbreak is a horrible thing for anyone to endure, but I don’t think anyone is justified in saying that it is worse than a terminal illness which so many unfortunate people suffer from – and to then spread that message via such a globally prominent franchise that has such a large audience, I mean, it’s just wrong.

All in all, this film disappointed me in so many ways, and while it makes for a decent love story for adolescent girls who like swooning over arrogant guys, I found it to be lacklustre and disengaging, and not compelling in the slightest.

1/5 – Just save yourself a few hours of boredom and read the book instead.

~Steph.

Woo the Woman of Your Dreams in this latest PICKLE REVIEW.

 

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I must once again apologise for being a steaming turd of a man and being yet another week late with a review. However I have recently been fed a ginormous s**t sandwich, with the main filling being a healthy dose of betrayal at the hands of none other than wretched estate agents. I may not have a home so forgive me if I stain this webpage in tears.

 

Nevertheless I think that’s enough whining from me, and so it is time to move onto something more light-hearted and bit out of the ordinary. Here at Picklepants, we have tackled the addictive world of video games, the intoxicating wonders of the written word, and the delightful land of TV and film. But today Picklepants is jumping into the new territory of night attire!

 

Have you ever looked at your evening loungewear and thought that it needed more swish and razzmatazz? Perhaps you spent the evening wooing a lovely woman whose path you crossed by way an affectionate gaze across the bar, (who for some reason is usually always called Sarah.) Perhaps you’ve sealed the deal and convinced said love interest to take a tour of you bachelor abode. The smooth jazz in on, and you’ve half finished the bottle of Château Neuf Du Pape. You deduce that now is the time to “slip into something more comfortable” when OH NO! Horror of horrors you remember that your normal PJs are not up to scratch. They wont impress, they wont stand up to the ambiance of the evening. As you stare helplessly at your Mr Men Pyjama bottoms you wish that somewhere, there was a pyjama of class, sophistication and razzmatazz for under £1000. You yearn for no such gap in the market. Well people of Earth, I am glad to say that gap has been filled, with the release of the gentlemen’s Suitjama.

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For those not in the know, suitjamas are (put simply) a suit that you can wear to bed. They’re smart, swish and breathable and even come with a tie. I have recently become the proud owner of a pair of such pyjamas and I have to say, you’ll be hard pressed to find more comfort elsewhere in this price range.

 

You can order a pair of suitjamas from the website legendarysuitjamas.com for $99.95 (£58.86) but BEWARE shoppers from the UK. When I ordered mine Mr Cameron decided that he wanted to get his grubby mitts on some of the cash in my wallet, and so sneakily put an import tax on them of £20.00. I was not a happy hippo to say the least. Regardless, I paid my import tax and hastily went home to try the bad boy PJs on. It comes in a complete package containing a pair of trousers and jacket made of silk Saturn and cotton, with the lining being polyester. Included was also a silk shirt and tie, so you get a pretty complete package.

 

Upon putting the clothes on you immediately notice how light and breathable they are. There is plenty of room for manoeuvre and (provided you pick the right size) there is no danger of you cheese wiring your manhood in the night. I was amazed by how smooth and comfortable they were, you could easily just bomb about the house in them on lazy Sundays all day in comfort.

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Throughout my evenings in them I have only come across two slight issues. The first is that although the suitjamas are breathable, in extremely hot and humid conditions you might need to take the jacket off to ensure you don’t get too hot when sleeping. The other is that although there are two buttons on the jacket you can only do one of them up.

 

The site itself offers the discerning gent a range of colours. I myself went for the black pinstripe and haven’t looked back!

 

The answer to an evenings night attired wooing is here! I’m expecting the likes of Eva Green, Natalie Portman and Sophia Vergara here any moment now!

 

Verdict

 

Light, amazingly comfortable, and act as that much needed swish to your PJ collection. Just be cautious on those amazingly hot evenings.

 

8/10

 

Luke

How to Train your Dragon 2, Review

I’m back, baby! I can only apologise for my long absence from Mondays here at Picklepants. Family issues, travel, illness… life just happens. But, hey, I return triumphant! I saved the village, I slayed the dragon – or, I at least saw a really good movie about dragons.

You have the heart of a chief. And the soul of a dragon.

Everyone got hot!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a long-awaited sequel from Dreamworks after the brilliance of the first film. In this follow-up feature, we yet again find Hiccup on the run from what’s expected of him. To avoid giving an answer to his father, Stoick, about becoming the next chief of Berk, he’s off flying around the surrounding uncharted lands, mapping them out with his dragon, Toothless, until a group of dragon trappers and a mysterious Dragon Rider show up and he finds himself about to be thrown into the middle of a war to keep the peace.

This film is beyond exciting, and not just because I and so many others have been waiting for it for so long. The story is enthralling, the characters are endearing, and the pace never lets up, although I admit it did, uh, ‘hiccup’, in a few places. Heh heh. Geddit?

Ahem. Anyway. The movie definitely evokes a lot of emotion – I laughed, I cried, I got really, really mad! It’s a real rollercoaster this time around.

I quite enjoyed the idea of charting all the unmapped territories around Berk and finding new breeds of dragon. It sure is a better arrangement than making war on or with dragons, right? And it allowed for a really great flight sequence in which Hiccup tests his own flying suit.

Valka is a wonderful character. She’s beautiful, fun, awesome and a bit weird. You definitely see where Hiccup gets it from. However, though I understand her reasons, I still think it was extremely cruel for her to stay away without a word to anyone for twenty years. But hey, I live for flawed characters, we all know that.

Astrid and the other rider gang and their dragons got their shining moments, too, but I felt that Astrid at least had less to do in this film. She was still a strong, inspiring figure throughout, however, and her lesson about the loyalty of dragons gave me chills.

The villain of the film, Drago – original name, no? – was actually pretty effective. He was borderline insane and totally evil in this subdued, quiet, but undoubtedly threatening way. I think I almost felt sympathy for the guy at one point, but that was dashed quickly by how awful a person he was.

Eret the dragon trapper was certainly an interesting addition to the cast, and I look forward to his role in the next instalment!

One thing I particularly liked, at the risk of getting too political over a children’s film, was Ruffnut’s attitude and behaviour. She’s utterly open and free about her sexuality, who she wants, who she doesn’t, and she feels no need to make excuses or have excuses made for her. It’s a fair bit of comic relief, but it’s also never commented on or villainised just because she’s a girl – and that is highly unusual in any film, let alone a kid’s movie. Go Dreamworks!

The animation itself was astounding. Absolutely gorgeous in every way. I caught myself swooning more than once over bloody rocks and ice textures! The flight sequences are perfect and different for every dragon. The characters move like actual people. And look out for that scene where Valka dances over the wings of the dragons – it’s heart-stopping.

Prepare for some real emotional pain coming your way, too. Remember that one moment of tragic intensity from the first film, with Hiccup’s near-death? Yeah. It’s got nothing on the sequel.

Speaking of that, let’s get political again! Hiccup and Toothless are of course our heroes of the series, and it’s just amazing how they’re shown to work almost flawlessly together to be stronger, better, and never let their respective disabilities hinder them. Do you know how refreshing it is to finally get a film starring disabled characters finding strength in their disabilities? That it never stops them being who they want and need to be, and that their lives aren’t dictated and ruled by their disabilities? It’s beyond rare in film, and again, it’s a kid’s animated feature! Beautifully done.

Now, I did have a couple of problems with the film. Despite the diversity, we still have no non-white or non-straight characters. And do not preach historical accuracy at me. If you can have Scottish/American/English-speaking Vikings who ride dragons, you can have characters that aren’t straight and white, too. Instead of being true to history, let’s be true to people instead, okay? I mean, what are these films about if not overcoming prejudices?

I did adore the film, don’t get me wrong! But I was also left feeling as if it lacked some of the innocent charm of the first film. Perhaps because the characters are growing up, too. It has been five years since Hiccup and Toothless first met. The sequel had a new charm all on it’s own, yes, and I loved it. But I think there was something I just… missed. Boy, growing up is hard.

All in all, a fantastic film, and a definite must see for all ages!

4/5 stars! The soundtrack is beautiful, too, guys!

– Meg

Impulse – a review

Impulse(hopkins)Written by Ellen Hopkins in 2007, Impulse is a brilliant work of fiction that follows the inner thoughts and feelings of three teens [Conner, Vanessa, Tony] in a psychiatric ward. Each facing their own demons, the young people suffer through a myriad of hellish disorders, all of which we read about throughout the course of the novel – and with every few chapters being dedicated to one of the three protagonists, every section of the book has an entirely different feel to it depending on which character is speaking.

For example, when we read Conner’s inner thoughts and experiences, we get the feeling that he is very self-aware – he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. In fact, we learn that it is this specific desire to get what he wants that inadvertently causes his admittance to the hospital – without spoiling too much for anyone who has yet to read the book, it is revealed that Conner was engaging in a romantic relationship that was not endorsed by the people around him, and eventually, this unacceptance, paired with the impossibly high standards he is expected to meet by his parents, leads him to attempt suicide. Reading Conner’s thoughts first-hand really sheds light on how it feels to have expectations loaded onto you until you feel like you’re about to snap, and the novel showcases the negative events that can unfold when a child is put under an insurmountable amount of pressure.

However, Conner is not the only character with a storyline that is applicable to many teens in real life – Vanessa’s story is just as real, and just as heart-breaking. Soon into the novel, we discover that young Vanessa grew up with a father who she rarely saw, due to his dedication to the army, and a mother who suffered from severe bipolar disorder until she took her own life. All of this, plus Vanessa’s own psychological demons, pushes her to fall into a vicious cycle of self-harm. Her story is told vividly and accurately, and does not shy away from telling the truth about a mental disorder that can be terrifying and difficult to understand for those who suffer from it.

The third character we meet is Tony – a street-savvy young man, who has spent a lot of time in a juvenile detention centre for someone so young. We soon learn that he was in juvie for the murder of his mother’s boyfriend – but we soon learn that this murder was, for lack of a better word, justified [well, as justified as killing someone can be], for it is revealed that Tony was sexually abused repeatedly when he was a boy, by many men who were in his mother’s life, and she did nothing to stop it. Tony is then pushed further over the edge when the love of his life, Phillip, loses his long-fought battle with illness, and that is when Tony tries to take his own life.

All of these young people are in this hospital because they are in desperate need of help, whether they want to admit it or not – and we soon find out that some are much more stubborn to accept this than others. But, the book is refreshingly realistic – it does not glorify mental illness, and instead focuses on both the negative side of things and the ways in which a person can begin to deal with these kinds of emotions and disorders.

Hopkins channels three very different voices for her characters, and these stand out profusely as you read through each chapter – Vanessa’s voice is gentle, shy, insecure; Conner’s is confident, cocky at times; and Tony is bitter, yet still manages to retain a funny bone amidst all of the wretched things he’s been through.

This novel is definitely something I’d recommend – even if you’re not a big fan of books with heavy themes such as depression and self-harm, I really suggest trying this one. One of the most wonderful things about it, aside from the brilliant writing, is the layout – stepping away from the traditional page layout one might associate with a novel, this book is written in what I think are best described as stanzas – the thoughts are placed on the page in neat little verses, with each one being roughly four lines long, with the words at the end of a chapter sometimes scattered across the page, which adds

fantastic

dramatic

effect.

Essentially, this novel looks at the bonds that can form between people who are broken, and how these bonds can perhaps begin to help mend some of the pain in their hearts. This is a truly exceptional piece of literature and I urge all of you to find a copy and give it a go. I think you’ll find that once you start reading it, you’ll lose yourself to the intoxicating worlds of these people and their plights.

5/5 – Hopkins has said that her “books are not about the things that happen to characters, but rather about how those characters react to those things”, and seeing these reactions unfold is powerful and utterly enthralling.

~Steph.

 

Maleficent-Review, Why is everyone Scottish?!

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Hey guys sorry for the late upload, was planning on doing this for last week but kinda got a little side tracked. Anyhoo I went to see the new Disney film Maleficent and thought I’d share my thoughts on it with all of you!

 

Maleficent, for those who don’t know, Is a film where the well known version of sleeping beauty is taken and told from a different point of view, this being the antagonist in the form of Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). This kind of film has been done before but honestly I don’t think it has ever been done better on the big screen. Angelina Jolie, despite my initial worries, is absolutely brilliant in her role and really helps carry the film. Not to say the supporting actors are bad it’s just no one else really gets explored in terms of character apart from her. The pacing of the film is good although it does seem far shorter than the actual run time suggests, which I take as a positive but others may not see it the same way.

The film has a coherent storyline so those of you that fancy going to see the film without knowing anything about sleeping beauty fret not. One thing I would say though is that although this is a PG rated film and yes there isn’t any swearing, blood, gore or anything along those lines I don’t think I could recommend taking your children to see it. The film is quite gritty and dark and although it makes for a great engaging film for adults I could easily see children finding incredibly boring and then in turn being incredibly annoying as your trying to make them sit there quietly for two hours. So yeah, watch on your own if you can!

Just remember though despite the grittier re-telling this is still a Disney film so of course they have comic relief characters, this time in the form of the three fairy sisters, and moments of slight cheesiness but other than the odd occasion the film does seem much more catered towards adults. The visuals in the film, especially in the introduction bits where everything is bright, are gorgeous and the CGI in the film is incredibly well produced, and without spoiling anything, especially in the fight/action sequences. On the same note with the costumes, they are terrific especially the work that must have gone into Angelina’s horns.

Sharlto Copley does an outstanding job as Stefan and his character progression was one of my personal favourite parts of the film. Another Actor who I have to mention is Sam Riley who plays a very well preformed Diavel, especially the on screen chemistry between him and Angelina Jolie. One strange thing though that my girlfriend pointed out to me after the film had ended was that almost all of the humans in this film had Scottish accents. Now it doesn’t really bother me but it is a little strange as it must have been a conscious choice by the director and writers as Copley was born in Johannesburg so it’s not like it  was a coincidence. But apart from that this is a great film that I thoroughly recommend going to see.

 

Maleficent gets an 8/10 and is highly recomended.

-Joe

Fading Gigolo- Review

Directed by John Turturro

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“Never has sex for cash been so classy, if somewhat fabricated.”

 

Written, starred and directed by John Turturro, Fading Gigolo tells the story of Fioravante (John Turturro) who decided to take up the oldest known profession in history. Prostitution. Pressured by financial difficulties, Fioravante discovers that this new line of work moonlighting as a man whore appears to be a promising commercial venture. With the help of his life long friend Murray (Woody Allen) acting as his agent/pimp, the duo begin to make decent money. On one end Murray meets lonely woman or bored housewives in need of a quick fix, and arranges the meet for Fioravante who will go to the client’s apartment and flog his wooing wares. Issues arise however when Murray arranges for Fioravante to meet a recently widowed Jewish mother-of -six named Avigal. Her arrival at the newly appointed gigolo’s apartment for a simple massage doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. Matters become more complicated when a local neighbourhood watch officer named Dovi (Liev Schreiber), who has a soft spot for Avigal, becomes involved and set in motion a crosscurrent between love and money.

 

This film is set in New York, and it is apparent that a lot of inspiration has been taken from previous Woody Allen films when taking in the style and cinematography on screen. Whilst Woody Allen had nothing to do with the directing or writing of the film, I wouldn’t be surprised of Turturro sought after his advice on the execution of certain scenes. Everything from the expanded shots of New York accompanied with soft Jazz, and the stylistic filming of the cast conversing in the streets is decidedly Allen inflected. Here, it serves the movie justice and is done very well. It adds an old styled charm to it and gives a joyful reminiscent to classics like “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”

 

Performances throughout were convincing. Turturro’s character as the modest, calm and slightly aloof middle aged hooker, was dovish enough to be likeable and sensitive enough to provide depth. Woody Allen’s character was also done in the typical Allen fashion, mumbling quips and making comical jibes. However, this film is not what I was expecting. This isn’t a side splitting comedy, and if this is what you are after you’ll have to look elsewhere. Yes, the occasional sarcastic quip and funny anecdote are present, but the majority of the film is that of a drama. It deals with the clashes between money and love; it covers loss and loneliness, jealousy, unhappy marriages, and religion. Fading Gigolo startled me in places, as it had some really rather unexpected touching and sad moments, which are not at all, put across in the blasé attitude fuelled trailers you can see on the Internet. These moments I found were when the film was at its best because you really took an interest into the stories behind each of the characters.

 

The films biggest downfall lies with the gigolo aspect to the plot. You will indeed struggle to suspend your disbelief as you witness some of the most gorgeous woman you’ve ever seen, pay up to $2000 to pay to sleep with Fioravante (well played Turturro well played…) At this point you sit back in your seat, as a Colombian temptress in boutique lingerie pays Turturro a wad of cash and leaps on a bed, and think “Yeah right.” This fallacy becomes most apparent during a ménage a trios scene with Sophia Vergara, a woman who could make a man’s genitals explode into a nuclear mushroom cloud by simply walking past him on a street.

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In what world would Sofia have to pay for bedroom antics???

 

 

Verdict

 

By no means a hilarious comedy, but with its charming style and awesome soundtrack, never has sex for cash been so classy, if somewhat fabricated.

 

Luke

 

Quickpickle: The Hunger Games score – a review

[Sorry for the lack of review last week – I’ve been ridiculously busy lately, but I managed to write up this short one amongst all the madness. Also, I’m uploading this week’s instalment a couple of days early because I’m out all day on Thursday and there’s no way I’d be able to upload it then, so here it is, in advance!]

So, when most people hear the words ‘The Hunger Games’, they think action-packed movies, star-crossed lovers, wars between the rich and the poor, etc. But what a lot of fans seem to neglect is the music that accompanies the movie versions of the popular dystopian teen novels. Composed by James Newton Howard, the scores that accompany all of the poignant scenes and moments are not to be ignored – with delicate interludes, rising swells, and heart-stopping crescendos, the soundtracks for both The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are both albums worthy of merit.

Something I’ve found is that these albums are fantastic no matter what mood the listener is in – if you’re feeling a little down, then the melancholic tones of Rue’s Farewell will really resonate within you, however, the gleeful melody of the Daffodil Waltz will perk you right up afterwards. And some of the tracks in particular [for example, Horn Of Plenty] are just plain beautiful – I dare you to listen to this song without getting chills all over.

Even if you aren’t a massive fan of classic composures or movie scores, I really recommend this selection of music; it’s perfect for having on in the background while you’re getting work done, or while relaxing in the bath, or just while you’re travelling in the car. I just think this is a stellar score for a movie, and the films would definitely lack that special spark if this collection of music was absent.

5/5 – Powerful, moving, and beautifully arranged.

~Steph.

PicklePants’ not so much review, but major MAJOR rant- Every Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer film.

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“Watching one of Friedberg’s or Seltzer’s hideous monstrosities is like bowl surgery without pain killers.”

I’ve been going through a spat recently of watching films that are so bad they’re good, some could even rather ironically be dubbed a cult classic. Films such as Birdemic, Megashark Vs Giant Octopus, and sharknado fall into such a category. They are bad low budget, badly made, badly acted films, which know they’re crap and so don’t take themselves so seriously. In short, these films are just a bit of fun. Then there’s a Friedberg Seltzer film.

 

My original intention was to do a review of the “eagerly anticipated” Birdemic sequel, when by chance I happened to stumble across a film titled “Meet The Spartans.” This film has indeed been directed and produced by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer- the same people who brought Epic Movie, Disaster Movie and God knows how many other films with the name Movie in the title. Clearly there has been no creative expense spared in naming their works. Nevertheless these films, despite their varying focuses, all share one similar thread. They’re completely and utterly awful. Each film had little to nothing in the way of a coherent story, and did nothing more than out of context spoof references to other films, topping it off with gags that made a terminal illness look like a leading act on “Live at the Apollo.”

 

Taking this into account, I didn’t hold high (if any) expectations for Meet the Spartans, but still I tried to brave it. So on one particularly rainy day, I grabbed a packet of pickled onion Space Raiders crisps- that were reduced from one pound to a more competitive 75p, and fired up the film. I expected linear plot, crude and badly written jokes, and more inane out of context references than I could shake a Space Raider at. What I actually experienced was unrelentingly torturous 90 minuets of sheer eye and cranial agony. Watching this movie was like having my brain sodomized by Quasimodo’s afterbirth. Where do I begin with this truly dreadful excuse of a film? For starters, there was no plot. It was just a string of (surprise surprise) badly done movie references, terrible dialogue, all as expected and worse. I didn’t think it possible, but this movie really was everything I had expected and less. There were cheap jibes about famous celebrities, random ideas being pulled out of nowhere (which included imitation Judges of American Idol judging a man kicking a singer into a pit.) It really was a pile of bo**ocks. Every terribly acted word to fall from the casts mouths were strained and so unfunny, I wept as I thought of all the wonderful things I really could be doing with those precious 90 minuets rather than watch this tripe. Self harm and genital mutilation seemed preferable to this completely unbearable film. Not only were the spoofs bad, but also there was an abundance of awful product placement, which was gratuitously slapped into the film to try and make it funny. In Meet the Spartans I’m don’t think Friedberg and Seltzer were even trying. In one scene when they were describing the evil Xerxes emperor (which is stolen from the film 300) they cant even be arsed to describe him with any form of humorous wit. They instead sum him up by stating that “He looked like the fat guy from Borat.” Rest assured watching this film is a truly woeful experience.

 

My faith in the world has also dropped significantly since seeing this film when I heard that it was a financial success, grossing $80,000,000 in America and thus rendering it a huge success. Many of their sales came from people who saw the movie AND brought the DVD. Who would buy such a film? A film so bad it is ranked in IMDB’s list of “100 worst films ever made.” A film so bad that there have since been numerous petitions for the Director’s careers to end, some even going as far as to wish for them to die from Anal related illnesses!

 

My advice to anyone who is offered to see a film- If the names Jason Friedberg or Aaron Seltzer appear anywhere on the movie, run. Just run.

 

 

Verdict

 

Watching one of Friedberg’s or Seltzer’s hideous monstrosities is like bowl surgery without painkillers. Do not watch under pain of death.

 

0/5

 

Luke

Watch Dogs Impressions – Not an Anne Robinson in sight!

bannar

 

Greetings everyone! sorry for the late upload but I have been incredibly busy trying to get as much done in this game as I could before I wrote about it and believe you me there is a hell of a lot to do.

Right, Firstly Im gunna talk about this games launch on the PC and most of it might just be technical rubbish etc so if that doesn’t interest you or if you have it on another console then feel free to move on. This game had an incredibly mixed launch with some peoples games not even loading up or instantly crashing while others had absolutely no trouble at all and then again thousands more on the spectrum in between. Fortunately for me  I only experienced some very small bug issues that didn’t really affect my game but I wouldn’t be doing my job right if I didn’t tell you all the details. First off Ubisoft have announced that they are patching the game and have said that at some point this week they will have released a patch that should (in theory) resolve a lot of issues for a lot of people. What really worries me though is this isn’t the only time this has happened even this year, where a hugely hyped up and publicised game fails at launch, just look at Battlefield 4 and Titanfall on their launches to see what I mean and it looks like this is going to become the norm. Almost like a rite of passage. However saying that there are some things that distinguish this case from the others. Where most of the other games were down to rushed deadlines, poor ports to other consoles and not enough servers Watchdogs fell because they tried a little too hard. Now some of you are probably thinking “Da fuq?” but let me explain. The reason why only the Pc version of the game is flawed isn’t because Ubisoft made a bad port from the console its actually because the Pc version isn’t a port at all. They attempted to optimise PC users experience by creating they’re version from scratch pretty much but the key word there is optimise. That’s the main problem people have been receiving, the game isn’t optimised for most drivers and graphics cards. Not to bore you with details (unless I have already) but this sucks. It means that even those who can play it relatively bug free (like me) can’t experience the full graphics and speed of the game It also means that to be able to play the game on max settings you’re going to have to fork out a lot of money! personally this whole debacle has been kind of bitter sweet (but more bitter than sweet) as even though it is littered with bugs it also shows that the developers tried to take time and think about the PC gamers rather than just do the easy thing and port it however they clearly bit of more than they could chew.

Right ramble over! now to the actual game. This game is a lot of fun despite what people will have you believe. Missions types are varied but with the length and size of the game do get repetitive after a while. Unlike games such as Assassins creed where the puzzle sections feel kinda clunky and out of place the puzzle sections here are incredibly well done with a large number of obstacles having multiple ways of doing them. It’s the type of game where you can really play how you want to form run and gun to stealthy and tactical. You can even go the entire game without killing a single enemy (however that proves hella difficult!) however I have yet to discover If how you play impacts the story or environment because (as I said) this game is huge! The size of the city is impressive and I honestly didn’t expect it to be as big as it is due to the type of game it struck me as not only that but there are so many side quests and other little things to do which reading an interview with the developers are seemingly endless as they are randomly generated and found by simply hacking people on the street. Gameplay feels good and other than the odd occasion Aiden (the main character) controls very well. The city itself feels alive especially with the little details you find out about every NPC in passing.

The game is tactical and will have you using your brain to get around certain objectives, especially those involving enemies. Aiden isn’t a tank of a computer game character and can only take so much damage, not only that but when you are damaged you slow down and even some times limp meaning that you really need to strategise especially because the game has several different enemy types that react and work in different ways. Speaking of the AI they have been for me one of the most impressive things about this game. They actually try and fight you as a unit and will constantly try and flank you and out manoeuvre you on foot or in car. They react to their surroundings like they are supposed meaning you need to keep moving if you want to keep them guessing where you are. You can distract them with hacking and even set traps and ambushes for them. What’s more is that the enemies react to other enemies, the gangs and police react to one another, meaning if you can make enough noise that the police come while you’re in a fight for your life with another gang you can slip out undetected while they have a gun fight. It’s great because it means that it always offers you a challenge as there is no one mode of attack that works every time making you have to re assess and try out different ways to succeed.

This isn’t a review really and I apologise for lack of pictures but because I can’t capture at the optimum resolution I thought it best to simply give my experience and views rather than a definitive score review. I will however say that if all the bugs are fixed then this game would definitely be well worth the money and time to play it.  But for now I would say hold off on buying it for the PC for maybe a month or two. But if you have a PS4 or XBOX ONE then I urge you to get this game now as its exactly the kind of next gen game that people have been waiting for. Let me know what you thought of the game or any issues you’ve had with it in the comments and make sure to like and share!

 

 

-Joe