Category Archives: Reviews

From Bedrooms to Billions: The PlayStation Revolution (2020, Documentary)

Coming in at just under three hours, this documentary is an incredibly comprehensive look at the ground-breaking work the Playstation system did in helping to shape the current video game market.

Created by filmmakers Anthony and Nicola Caulfield, ‘The PlayStation Revolution’ is the third film in a series of hidden stories around gaming’s greatest accomplishments. And it wouldn’t be as comprehensive a history without the stories from the people who were there on the front line, with those contributing on camera including Hideo Kojima, Mark Cerny and Jim Ryan.

Whilst it might have been more accessible as a Netflix series, split into twenty-minute episodes for easier digestion by an unfamiliar audience, anyone with even a passing interest in Sony’s creation is bound to find this informative and engaging.

The History of Swear Words (Netflix, 2020, Documentary Series)

What better way is there to show the rumours of your death being exaggerated than by hosting a Netflix series.

Enigmatic leading man, Nicolas Cage, returns (beard accompanying) as host and highlight of this incredible Docuseries from Netflix.

Described as “an education you didn’t realise you needed”, it charts the history and development of several English “cuss words” to quote the man himself.

It’s light, it’s fun and it’s just what you need to let off some steam and start 2021 with a laugh.

Spread across six episodes, each coming in at a perfect 21 minutes, it features discussion and humour from linguistic experts and comedians such as Sarah Silverman and Nick Offerman.

But the highlight here is undoubtedly Cage who apparently filmed all his scenes required for this series in just a single day, thankfully proving he is still ready and willing to make National Treasure 3 when needed.

Bowling For Soup/Simple Plan – 02 Academy, Newcastle 02 Academy, February 11th 2020

I wanted to give an idea of the progression of my pieces. The first review was published in NE Volume Magazine and the second was the version adapted and published in The Crack Magazine. Both reviews were published in March 2020 issues of the respective magazines.

Newcastle is hoping tonight in nostalgic Pop Punk delights. Not Ur Girlfriendz have an average age of between 13 and 15; their energy and confidence is inspiring and they win the affections of a sold out audience still entering the building by performing a cover of the Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’. Slam your body down and all that.

Montreal’s Simple Plan probably haven’t toured in the UK since 2005, but are anything but forgotten, their set features classics such as ‘Summer Paradise’ (minus Sean Paul) and reminds most of the female audience what it’s like to be 16 again. Headliners Bowling for Soup perform a delightful Greatest Hits set, featuring classics such as ‘Almost’, ‘Ohio’ and even ‘No Hablo Ingles’ – and they’re still watching wrestling, as their new track ‘Alexa Bliss’ goes down a storm. 26 year veterans, it’s a great performance from a seasoned band; more of the same please!

Here’s the same review, written for The Crack….

Newcastle is hoping tonight in nostalgic Pop Punk delights. Not Ur Girlfriendz have an average age of between 13 and 15; their energy and confidence is inspiring and they win the affections of a sold out audience still entering the building by performing a cover of the Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’. Vocalist Liv Hughes puts performers three times her age to shame with her enthusiasm and confidence. Slam your body down and all that.

Montreal’s Simple Plan probably haven’t toured in the UK since 2005, but are anything but forgotten, their set features classics such as ‘Summer Paradise’ (minus Sean Paul) and reminds most of the female audience what it’s like to be 16 again. No doubt they’ll be visiting English shores again and I suspect a large proportion of tonight’s attendees would also be present. Headliners Bowling for Soup perform a delightful Greatest Hits set, featuring classics such as ‘Almost’, ‘Ohio’ and even ‘No Hablo Ingles’. The band found themselves trapped in a lift at the venue before the show, but haven’t let it dampen their spirits, the atmosphere is electric and front man Jarrett’s original worn Texas guitar is a testament to their vintage.

It’s also a remarkable statement to the band just how many “singles” have become part and parcel of their audiences own experiences, and the crowd laps up every single moment, with a number of participatory speeches, including the BFS Comedy Jam! But despite the intervening years the band have kept true to their roots and their sound, and they’re still watching wrestling, as their latest track ‘Alexa Bliss’ goes down a storm. The song has already managed to produce 600,000 views on YouTube in just a few weeks – and those achievements are not to be ignored.

26 year veterans, it’s a great performance from a seasoned band; more of the same please!

Let’s Play – Terminator (XBox360)

About five years ago I went through a stage of doing ‘Let’s Play’ videos. I’d purchased some cheaper software, allowing for my lack of expensive equipment, and with a laptop and an XBox 360 I’d started recording videos of me playing games online. There’s only a handful of this footage remaining, to be honest, and I think – looking back – that it carried well.

Primarily I played ‘Terminator Salvation’ for XBox One and PS3; a game which had been singled out as being one of the easiest games to obtain a Platinum Trophy for – at that time – as all you really needed to do was complete the game on a set difficulty level. As a film tie in the game had obviously been rushed and so levels were pretty sparse of enemies, and rather straightforward. I think I even remember finishing the last level and not even realising I’d cleared the game until the credits came up.

Pet Semetary (2019)

“Sometimes dead is better”

There’s something consciously scary about Stephen King stories. Films like ‘Secret Window’, ‘The Mist’ and ‘1408’ have rated as some of my favorite films of the past decade. Despite the purposefully limited viewings I’ve given these films there’s something which resonates in the way that few films can, leaving a mental footprint about what you’ve just watched.

King’s latest adaptation is directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and written by Jeff Buhler, from a screen story by Matt Greenberg. The film has been made for screen before, with a 1989 version achieving cult status, and the seldom seen straight to VHS 1992 sequel was perhaps only notable for starring Edward Furlong less than 12 months after his appearance in Terminator 2 as John Connor.

In either case Pet Semetary (that’s intentional) centres’s around the Creed family – who move to the countryside to escape life from the big city – patriarch Louis offered a job as a doctor from the University of Maine. Having spent years on the graveyard shift at Boston ER’s it’s a welcome break which allows him to quietly watch his kids growing up and not sacrifice the knowledge of his career.

No sooner than the family have moved into the neighborhood do they meet Judd (played in this incarnation by the wonderful John Lithgow) who warns them against the Pet Semetary – an odd place set up by the townsfolk on their farms land which has, for generations, been the place to bury their pets. Witnessing a procession of children burying a neighborhood dog encourages mother Rachael that her children Ellie and Gage need to be kept far from wandering in the woods, made worse by the fact Zelda suffers nightmares from a trauma haunting her own past.

Soon after their arrival Louis is unable to save the life of a student in the University. Shocked that he would have to experience such an accident at the campus, nightmares begin to plague his life, leading to strange dreams and being beckoned beyond the cemetery to a mysterious land.

From here the film takes darker and darker turns, examining such topics as how to address mortality around children and similar trends to the types of things John Cusack faced as Michael Enslin in 1408. King’s own work is truly scary at times, and if rumor is to be believed, this particular story was the one book which King actually admitted to having scared himself writing. Not intending to ever release it, he only did so on the insistence of his wife to fulfill a contractual obligation.

Never work with children or animals, and that is probably a good segway to credit ‘Church’ the family cat – named after Winston Churchill. Rarely has an animal character in a film made quite the impact and it could be argued that at times his acting is more substantial – and welcoming – than the humans. Jason Clarke takes the lead here, known for roles in ‘White House Down’, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Terminator Genisys’ (making him the second ‘John Connor’ to star in a Pet Semetary film actually) and although he is – at times – convincing it just can’t be ignored that previous King adaptations have been helped tremendously by the natural skills of Cusack, Depp and Robbins etc. not to mention an exceedingly good supporting cast, which this movie – Lithgow excepted – fails to find.

A very contained film it strays from involving too much of the modern world, rather lost in a pleasant place that could be anywhere between now and 1994. It’s also left with an opening that, although follows through to the novel adaptation, instead picks moments of genuine delight – especially in its third act – in which we’re treated to some of the best dialogue going, particularly by newcomer Jete Laurence.

Both Victor and Zelda’s roles are just as impacting but have less merit than in the original, especially that of Victor, with more focus on the realistically possible in this movie – in the same way that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight moved away from the fanciful and instead presented a straight edged movie. It’s always difficult to remake a film like this, without spoiling things or revealing a hidden twist, but suffice to say that fans of the original will not go home disappointed and fans of horror will have more than enough reason to grab themselves a copy of the original when they’re through with this one.

That said, if you’ve seen the trailer, you may have missed the biggest turn of the night.