Game of Thrones (TV)

 

In light of the upcoming third season I thought this might be a nice show to review. And I really enjoy it so I get to be nice about something, which I enjoy. Game of Thrones is fantastic! There’s very little about it that I don’t like, it’s gritty, interesting and occasionally shocking. I love how there are multiple ‘main’ characters, and how quickly we realise just who we’re going to love and who we can’t stand. This I think is down to brilliant directing and production, as well as the fantastic acting from all involved.

Set in a mystical world of grand Houses and age old Families, with quite a few parallels to the medieval world, Game of Thrones is an awesome tale of power, political struggle and personal strife. It gets the balance of tense, brutal and occasionally shocking scenes exactly right, with not too many to make it ridiculous and implausible, but not too few to let it become boring at any point.

The characters are deep and believable, and each of them has a role in the show and the advancement of (at least) one of the myriad of sub-plots present. Having read (most of) the books I can see that the characters have, for the most part, been painted truly to those created by George R. R. Martin, which is a very, very, good thing. He portrayed the characters so well in the books, so vividly and intensely that anything less than perfection would have been a letdown. Thankfully, what we see is perfection, and that is in no way a letdown.

Right from the beginning the plot is thrilling. Twists and turns around every corner, different storylines playing out at the same time as one another, and truly engaging characters. The skilful production means that at no point does it get too confusing, even with the different sub-plots going on, which is certainly a key point. It would have been all too easy for the show to go too far, to become mixed up and disengaging. Thankfully this has been well avoided and the outcome is potentially the most addictive and exciting piece of TV to have been made. Ever.

Game of Thrones is a televisual masterpiece, and definitely worth a watch to any and all. It’s a rich show with plots that are both exciting and engaging, and it had me obsessed from the very beginning. I can’t remember the last time I anticipated the next season of a programme as much as I’ve looked forward to the upcoming third instalment of this show, which I think is some of the highest praise I could give. If you like shows that are fast paced, clever and a bit raunchy in places, this one is for you. Put it at the top of your to-watch list, For The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors.

Overall Rating: 9/10

See the trailer for the next season of GoT here

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Rings Around The World – Super Furry Animals (2001)

 

 

Rings Around the World seriously confused me. On the one hand I found parts of it to be great, and really enjoyed listening, but other bits were, I thought, confused and confusing. It seems to be trying to be two almost completely different albums, with tracks that are chilled and mellow being mixed with ones that are very full on and slightly mixed up. Overall I don’t think this gives the album a very good flow, or sense of continuity. Not to be a complete downer, there where bits I did enjoy, and tracks I’m sure I’ll return to in the future, but for me they were a bit few and far between for me to be able to say that I enjoyed the album as a whole.

I always feel the need to make a point of the fact that I don’t know much about music in these reviews, and it’s true. I can only give my opinion based on the skills I have, and at the moment musical appreciation isn’t a forte of mine. So maybe in a few years time, if I continue to expand my musical know-how, I’ll come back to this album and see a new level that’s escaped me listening this time round, who knows? Weirder things would have happened. But for now I think I either don’t appreciate the music in the way it was supposed to be appreciated, or this album really just isn’t my cup of tea and never will be.

There were certainly parts and tracks on this album which I did enjoy. ‘Juxtaposed With U’ and ‘It’s Not The End Of The World?’ really stood out to me as good tracks, and I think that’s because I found them to be some of the most chilled and relaxed on the album. I really think that when Super Furry Animals simplify their music, and relax everything down a bit they create some great stuff, I just don’t like it so much when the sounds become too complicated and full on for me to appreciate fully.

As I was listening to each track I kept a few notes on what I thought, and the tracks that I wrote the most positive notes next to were the ones that were chilled. The more intense songs tended to have a few negatives attached (such as complicated, and mixed up). I also noticed very little repetition in the album, with each tack having its own style, slightly different from the others on the album. Maybe this is why the album didn’t quite gel together very well for me, but I think I liked that each song had its own ‘uniqueness’. It certainly stopped me getting too bored. Maybe they just went a bit too far with the differences between some of the music, and that’s what made me think that it was one album that wanted to be two?

Listening to each track individually would probably be fine, but I think overall the album is a bit lacking. It doesn’t flow too well from beginning to end and seems like too many different styles have been used. Some songs I enjoyed, some I really didn’t. Ahh well, it’s not the end of the world?

 

Overall Rating:  4/10

 

Listen to my favourite of Super Furry Animals here

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The Black Magician Trilogy – Trudi Canavan

 

This is potentially my favourite book series ever. There’s that little bit of information out of the way, now onto the review I think…

The books start as they mean to go on. Quite gritty, quite quick and just a little bit engrossing. From the moment I started reading The Magicians Guild I was hooked, and I stayed hooked right through until the end of The High Lord (which is amazing by the way). I loved the way each of the main characters has their own stream of chapters, perfectly spaced from one another, and how at the end of each book all the threads come together to form an absolutely amazing woolly jumper (I went a bit too far with that metaphor didn’t I?). Trudi Canavan has written perfectly, and the series is thrilling from start to finish.

I know I’m raving about this book, but there’s good reason to! I can barely bring myself to find any fault with it. Maybe there are occasional bits where the books aren’t as un-putdownable as others, but that’s to be expected with any book, and certainly with a whole series. For me the excitement grew with each page, and the climaxes of all the books were, in my view, fantastic. The later books in the series build perfectly on the ones from the beginning, and the end of the series comes with great anticipation and intensity.

The only fault I can find with The Black Magician Trilogy is that occasionally one or two of the auxiliary characters is slightly forgotten, only to be brought back in later in the story. These characters are generally accounted for in their absence, but more development of their stories may have created an even more well rounded universe for the books to be set in. But I’ll be clear, this is barely even a concern. While reading the books I didn’t notice this at all, only on reflection (and upon looking for a bit of a fault so I have something to write about here) did I even think of it.

The Black Magician Trilogy is an exciting, entertaining and engaging read, with a brilliant plot, believable characters and quite a few rather strong statements about the real world (ranging from how poor people are treated, to bullying in schools). I loved these books, and I would never hesitate in recommending them to anyone of any age. They’re accessible, easy to read and unbelievably engrossing. It’s like magic.

Overall Rating: 9/10 (Nothing gets a 10, I’m like the Richter Scale)

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Demon Days – The Gorillaz

 

What amazes me about this album is how it manages to be simultaneously chilled and intense. If you just fancy having a bit of music on in the background it can be that, but it’s adaptable even to situations when you want something you can actually focus on and appreciate. I’ve said before that I’m not an expert on music, and I’m only just putting my feelers out there for new genres, but I really enjoyed experiencing the Gorillaz album (even if the misspelling of that word does make me cringe slightly) and having a look at a kind of music I rarely if ever encounter.

The first track is just an intro piece, which I found quite useful actually! Not being too sure what this album was all about when it was suggested to me, the intro quickly sorted out the gaps in my knowledge. Moving on from the intro we get consistently good tracks, and the album flows very well from one track to the next, to the point that in one case I actually didn’t even notice the transition (which is slightly worrying, maybe).

One of the most stand out things about Demon Days is that it’s incredibly well put together. All of the tracks know what they’re about and they deliver what we come to expect as we move through the album. I can only imagine that people who are really intensely into this kind of music will really love sitting and appreciating the different tracks too, because I have no doubt that they’re paragons of the music genre. Some of the songs are quite frankly amazing, and some are even slightly more upbeat than the general song from the album (‘Feel Good Inc’) . I really enjoyed getting to know more of this genre of music through the Gorillaz. The narrative song ‘Fire Coming Out of The Monkey’s Head’ is brilliant, I must’ve listened to it about 10 times since this morning!

Unfortunately there were some bits that I didn’t like quite so much. The album is well put together, but I can’t help but think that that’s partly due to a lot of the tracks seeming quite similar, and large amounts of repetition within some of the songs. The chilled out theme throughout the album can get a bit dull, especially for someone like me, a self confessed music novice. Though I think it’s a good album for some occasions, I certainly wouldn’t listen to it if I was trying to energise myself.

Overall this is a good album. Not excellent, but not poor. It fulfils its purpose and gives us a chilled out playlist to listen to when we’re in the mood. Definitely worth a listen if you know/think it’s your kind of thing, but I’d be wary if I was looking for something slightly upbeat to listen to. This is all assuming that you can get past the ridiculous way of spelling Gorillas in the first place. I’m sure you can if you try hard enough.

Overall Rating:    6/10

Best Bits: ‘Fire Coming Out of The Monkey’s Head’ and ‘Feel Good Inc’

Check out the Gorillaz at: http://www.youtube.com/user/GorillazVEVO

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The Twilight Saga

 

I realise no matter what I say here, I’m going to end up with a few enemies, so I guess I’m just going to have to bite my lip and plough on through… Twilight. The name is enough to drive some (generally teenage girls) wild with ‘Jacob-fever’ or to do the exact opposite (weirdly enough generally to teenage boys) and really annoy people.

I’ll start by saying that I didn’t want to like the series (or saga as it styles itself). And for the first film or two I succeeded. But then I failed. I actually began to get into it, and once I did I was completely hooked. The first two films are a bit slow, granted, they’re a bit dull and dreary and feel like a bit of a hormone-fest for the lead character Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Looking back they don’t seem as bad as I remember finding them at the time, but I think that’s more of a perception change on my end rather than the films actually being much good. Once we move onto Eclipse (the third film in the series  things begin to change very quickly. The series seems to become less of a teenage girl inner monologue of how awful her life is, and develops into something which is actually very enjoyable with action and genuine excitement. Of course there are still parts with Bella moaning to the audience about how Edward (Robert Pattinson) hasn’t done the washing up or something equally ridiculous, but these are overshadowed by the bits which show a much greater depth to the story and a quite engaging plot. By the time we get to the final two films (which are created from the same book, split in two) the story’s really getting going and it even gets quite intense (and slightly weird/gory) at points. There were even parts where I felt some oddly deep emotion. I didn’t cry though… Promise.

The acting from most of the cast is pretty diabolical in the first film. Not to sound too much like one of these people who spend all their time on the internet (Honestly I’m not) but Kristen Stewart really does have one facial expression. And it looks slightly bored. As I must have done while I was watching. Overall it does improve greatly though the saga, and by the last part it’s pretty decent, and Bella has obviously been shown something rather exciting and decided to let her face show it.

A lot of the CGI is very well done, but there is one person/object/thing (no spoilers) in the last film which may be the least realistic looking person/object/thing any film has ever contained. Parts of it seem to move independently of the rest. Which they certainly shouldn’t be doing.

In conclusion, the Twilight saga is definitely a series of contrast. Contrast not only in that it starts pretty terribly and transforms into something almost brilliant, but in that it so perfectly splits opinion. It’s the Marmite of the movie series world. The ones who love it, really love it, and the ones who hate it… Well let’s just say some of the posts I’ve seen on the internet were not the most complimentary. Even the people who love it are split! Edward or Jacob… Ex- Wizard turned vampire or six-pack wielding Werewolf? Difficult choice. Think I’m still Team Potter though.

Overall Rating: 6/10

 

 

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Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Some may see this show as a cheap laugh, not worth bothering with, but I found it strangely alluring at times! We follow a London prostitute/call girl/escort, Belle (Billie Piper), in her exploits, and she gives us an insight into what the London prostitution game is ‘really’ about. Though I doubt very much whether it is, in reality, anything like the show portrays.

We make our way through the Diaries very quickly, by virtue of the short (20 min) episodes but this doesn’t make it difficult to keep up, thankfully. There are more emotional ups and downs, mood swings and character changes in this show than in any other I think I’ve ever seen. My opinions on different characters changed with nearly every episode and by the end of series one I wasn’t even sure which way was up any more.

Many different sides of the human psyche are explored in Secret Diaries. It tries to explore and show the many aspects of sexuality, fetish and lust. And for the most part it does it excellently. Some of the characters are very deep, and their emotional development is interesting, if slightly bewildering, to observe throughout the shows 4 series. The acting from Billie Piper is exceptional, and she plays the unusual part of the sex-addicted escort, Belle, combined with the normal inner-London city dweller, Hannah, very convincingly.

Although the show is very good, there are a few niggling flaws that seemed to eat away at my enjoyment. The characters shift so quickly that its sometimes difficult to decide whether a person is even likable or not, which makes it difficult to settle into the show. Many of the characters apart from the lead are often not fully developed, leading to a somewhat frustrating situation where interactions between characters seem slightly false. This is especially apparent in the later series. Another slight issue is the ridiculousness of it all. Ok it’s not supposed to be a documentary. It’s not supposed to show us what the life of a call girl is ACTUALLY like, but at the same time, I seemed to come out of most episodes thinking ‘No way is that what an actual call girl would do’. Again this problem seemed to get worse as we moved through the series. This, I think, is the main problem with the programme. It makes it unbelievable, which in turn can make it seem a bit… Pointless.

Overall the show is worth a watch, if you can get over the constant character shifts, and especially if you start at the beginning, when the show was at its best. It fills a nice 20 minute gap in your day, and doesn’t make you think too hard. I’d steer clear if you were looking for a believable and deep insight into the life of a London prostitute, but if you fancy a quick little bit of fun, Belle’s your girl.

Overall Rating:    6/10

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzeFqT9UY6w

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Bad Blood – Bastille 2013

Absolutely fantastic. I could basically leave this review there and be perfectly happy that I’d got across my main thoughts on this album.

Having only recently been introduced to Bastille and indeed any kind of music other than the stuff blasted down our ears by the people on the radio, I may not be the best person to ask about music, but what I do know is that this is one seriously talented band. I can only give my opinion of course, but if it counted for anything these guys would be showered with praise from every angle.

The starting track sets the bar exceptionally high for the rest of the album, but the quality is amazing throughout, and Pompeii is matched by every other track, and potentially exceeded by some of the live/Abbey Road stuff later on. The album itself makes great listening in almost every situation I’ve come across and I’ve had them on almost constantly since Bad Blood came out. While working in the library; getting ready for a night out; stressing over impending exams… Anyone who could see my Spotify history for the last few weeks would see exactly what I mean.

Even though some of the lyrics can be quite repetitive sometimes (especially in ‘Overjoyed’) personally I just see this as a more of a good thing. The albums diversity could be questioned however, and some of the songs do seem relatively similar, if not in lyrics then in style. Again, I don’t think this small criticism is anywhere near enough to mark the glowing recommendation I’d give them.

As a person with a (so far) stunted reach into the musical world, I’ve found this album to be extraordinary. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new genre of music, and excited me to find new bands. Considering the band itself was only formed 3 years ago, it’s amazing to see what they’ve already achieved, and even better to listen to the fruits of their labour. I can’t wait to see what kind of stuff they continue to make, I have no doubt it’ll be enough to relieve anyone’s Weight of Living.

Favourite Track:   Icarus

Overall Rating:   9/10

Check Bastille’s YouTube out here: http://www.youtube.com/user/BastilleVEVO

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Hello Random Internet Person

Well best place to start is always a quick hello (it’s manners init). My name’s John and I’m quite a bored 20 year old with far too much time on his hands in between terms at uni. So I’ve gone and done what all 20 year olds with too much time on their hands do and created an account on some form of social media site. I chose Tumblr because I actually wanted to do something with my time rather than randomly picking people and stalking them to rather scary levels, and thought blogging might be the way forward. To this end I’ve decided to review every little thing I can get my hands on: Music, Tv and Film, Books, Games, Real Life (I know that’s a scary concept to many on the internet so I’ll be as gentle as I can)… You name it and I’ll give it a go and report back on how it was. I quite like watching/reading/playing/living so I’m hoping this may be something I’m actually not too bad at, but we’ll see… 

Anyway, that’s me and what I’m here for. Guess the best way to get moving is to actually start. Hope you have fun reading anything you decide to read, and that I don’t bore you all to tears/piss you off by slating something you love.

Ciao for now

x

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