Tuesday, December 24

Film: Jumanji: The Next Level Click for more info

The (second?) sequel in the Jumanji franchise plays it safe. It is essentially a remix of the first (second?) film, with essentially the same plot, progression and hammy acting. Even some of the jokes are recycled directly from the previous installment.

But you know what? It didn't matter. If you're going to see this, then you'll know exactly what to expect; and that the film delivers on it all is no bad thing.

And that's pretty much why there's not much more to say about Jumanji 2 (3?). It's recommended to those who loved the fir... previous one.

Saturday, December 21

Food: Neat Burger Click for more info

I've been eager to try these new breed of meat like vegan burgers for a while, and although Beyond has been available in certain supermarkets for a while, it was only until I had heard of Neat Burger that I really believed I could give it a go. The marketing is a bit strange on this one though - when it was launched the restaurant was quite explicit in where the meat was from, with the Beyond brand plastered all over the menu. This has since changed to "Neat Meat", so even though I visited today I'm not actually certain that I've tried Beyond meat.

But perhaps that's not really the point. Regardless of where they source their patties, it's the end result that matters the most, as well as how Neat Burger is as a place to eat overall. The place is certainly clean, modern and, yes, neat, and although there's not actually any table service what is provided is with a smile. It being a hipster joint is most certainly reflected in the price, with my double burger with trimmings (I had opted for cheese and to make it spicy), but no sides, hitting the £10 mark. And yes, you need the double.

Which brings us to the food. Although it wasn't the best burger I had, and clearly wasn't meat, it certainly wasn't shabby. It had a overcooked texture, but I wasn't sure if that was due to the nature of the substitute or excess time on the grill. Otherwise it was tasty enough and I would be more than happy to go back if not for the price.

Thursday, December 19

Film: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Click for more info

You know, I'd be the first to say I'm more forgiving than otherwise with regards to this current trend of milking nostalgia. I enjoyed both TFA and TLJ enough for me to consider them decent films (although I also enjoyed the prequel trilogy too so...) Heck, I'm even happy to be described as a Star Wars apologist.

But try as I might, I just can't bring myself to defend TROS. I find it equally difficult to explain why it was so bad. Is it a hack job? A cash grab? Does JJ just not care? I sadly smile while I revisited my review of TFA which warned about Abrams' potential to ruin all our lives, and here we are.

It was just all so flat, so hum drum, so... convenient. I found myself thinking about the MCU, and how easily they managed to serve us such a rewarding experience - was it really not possible to do the same? I guess not, and it turns out that fanservice isn't easy after all. One highlight was Babu Frik, but it wasn't enough to save the film.

I'm even struggling to recommend this for a cinema watch, where the event vibe of such a release would compensate for any shortcomings in its quality. So no, my official recommendation is to not watch this, even if you are a die hard fan - it's perfect for a home viewing though, something to watch with that new Disney+ subscription you'll all be getting.

Tuesday, December 17

Book: Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, Rebecca Roanhorse Click for more info

It turns out that it takes an event to force me to read these days. Enter Resistance Reborn, a Star Wars novel set soon after the events of The Last Jedi and the Battle of Crait.

First up a spoiler: no, you don't need to read this book to get any insight into either TLJ or The Rise of Skywalker. Reading in that hope will, like it did for me, only result in disappointment.

The good news is that otherwise the novel isn't that bad. It's accessible, well written and manages well in the characterisation it offers to the reader. It's very much a "day in the life of a resistance fighter" kind of tale, and as such could be seen as quite flat, mundane even. But it's such a low effort and quick read that's not the problem it could have been.

Overall I'd recommend the book for those who want something to tide them over till the release of the next film, or just as a quick timepass for those who miss the SW universe. For everyone else there may be little to see here.

Wednesday, December 11

Film: Charlie's Angels Click for more info

I mean, for sure, Charlie's Angels is a badly made film. The editing is poor, the acting uninspiring and the plot passable. And yet... I really enjoyed the film.

Maybe it's the charm, or how easy going it is, or that it never takes itself too seriously, sometimes even going as far as to mock itself. It was very laugh out loud at times, and held a constant level of FGF.

It's one of those films that is much better than it has any right to be, and for me just about comes recommended. Just don't go in expecting Little Women, I guess.

Wednesday, December 4

Film: Frozen II Click for more info

It was in looking at Frozen II that I realised I had also watched the first in the cinema way back in 2013. I do feel that my opinion of Frozen has changed - it's a better film after repeat views I guess - and in an over-saturation of animated films it does sit quite high up.

It's ironic then that I could write exactly the same review for its sequel.

I still don't know what was missing: the lack of a decent villain maybe, or just the jarring pacing issues throughout. At the end of the day it just felt like an excuse for another Frozen movie, which if we're honest, it probably was. Still, Toy Story 4 managed to pull it off so there was no reason why Elsa and Anna couldn't have either.

There were some highs. The technology has improved and the film looks great - particularly the water (as boring as that sounds). Oh and that Chicago-esque 80's power ballad was definitely the best part and was possibly even what saved the film for me.

So yes. Frozen II is just another animated film, rather than a Disney classic. But hey, who knows? Maybe when the second sequel is released I'll appreciate the film before more.