It’s well overdue so it’s time for another edition of the Friday Review, where I review various things I’ve watched, read and played recently. And by “recently” I mean within the last month. I’ve waited for a time when there’s a whole loads of stuff to be reviewed so let’s get on with this chocka-block post!
This film could have gone either way. It could have been an insult to a classic following or something great which carried on the great work. Fortunately it’s the second of those. The Muppets film makes the puppets feel modern, without any of the original warmth being lost. The gang are all back (except Rizzo, what the hell happened to him?), there’s some truly great music, a fun story, a nasty villain and some wonderful cameos. A good cameo should not ruin the moment if you don’t know who the person is and the Muppets managed to do that countless times. It was everything I wanted from a new Muppets film and so much more. A great watch for fans and anyone who likes family films. And those songs will be stuck in your head for weeks! ★★★★★
The Muppet Movie
Moving from the new to the old now as I watched the first Muppet movie from 1979. It follows Kermit as he tries to make it in Hollywood, meeting the other Muppets on his journey there and being chased by a man who wants him to advertise frog’s legs. It’s good fun and the opening scene with Kermit sat in the swamp singing “Rainbow Connection” is pure brilliance. The biggest downfall in my opinion is the fact that every few minutes there is another song. That would be OK if the songs were all of a high standard or good fun but many just aren’t. Beyond Rainbow Connection I can only remember the song which played over a montage of Miss Piggy and Kermit falling in love for the first time (speaking of which the old Miss Piggy looks a bit weird.) It’s an enjoyable watch but towards the end you can’t help but groan when another song begins. Decent enough but bettered by many of the newer Muppet films. ★★★☆☆
Johnny English Reborn
Moving away from Muppets now and onto the sequel to the brilliant Johnny English starring Rowan Atkinson as a useless spy. It is often hard for a sequel to keep the qualities that made the original good and though a weaker film, this one isn’t half bad. English has been disgraced after not stopping an assassination in Mozambique. In it he must infiltrate a secret organisation and stop a deadly assassin who is an old woman usually disguised as a cleaner from killing him along the way. It’s funny and exciting at the same time. The character of Bough does not return, probably because Ben Miller is too busy, but there is a sidekick none the less in the form of Tucker, a young agent sent to make sure English follows procedure. Having a sidekick is great as they are the one that knows what they are doing whilst English doesn’t. It’s not as good as the original but if you liked that you will still very much like this. ★★★☆☆
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
After being disappointed by Catching Fire , this book made a fitting end to the trilogy. Katniss has to become the Mockingjay and lead a revolution against the Capitol. It's a bit low on action but when there is action it is brilliant and dramatic. This is the last book and you begin to wonder if anyone will survive.
It's certainly not as good as The Hunger Games but provides a satisfactory ending to the story. We find out who Katniss ends up with and what happens to all the character's we've grown to love or hate. A tear came to my eye at the end which is really a rarity for me. We are taken on such an emotional journey and this is the end. A wonderful finish. ★★★★★
Whilst I’m here I should talk about the recently released Hunger Games movie. I loved the book trilogy lots and without a doubt it’s one of my favourite trilogies ever. And from what I’ve heard the film version is very good. But I still don’t want to see it. I like my imagination to tell the story. Watching a movie will change everything about the characters and the locations in my mind. It happened with Harry Potter, it happened with A Series of Unfortunate Events and it’s happened with many others too. I’d rather keep my own private version in my head and not let it be tainted by a director's version which is the same as millions of other peoples. Anyway, time for another review!
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Wow, what a book. It's a "classic" and I automatically assumed it would have a decent story but be a struggle to get through. But this wasn't so. It's an epic, emotional adventure as group of people band together to face adversity. Dracula appears surprisingly little and that's because his part is fairly insignificant. It's the characters being human and having to face the toughest challenge of their lives. That said, when Dracula does appear he is fearsome, far more scary than the image we are presented with. He looks like an old man at the beginning of the book but the blood he drinks restores his youth. He can go out in sunlight, though his powers are weakened, can transform into a dog as well as a bat and can control mist. The little use of him makes you yearn for more.
I also liked the fact that the book is written as a collection of mostly diary entries, with the odd letter and newspaper report amongst them. It makes it feel much more real, as if someone could have found all the originals and put them in order to create this incredible tale.
On the downside it is long-winded and certainly in some senses of it's time. I quite like the idea of a modernisation of the book, written in modern English and maybe an update with technology. That, as long as the story remained largely unchanged, would make this even better. ★★★★☆
You can read reviews of all the books I read on my Goodreads profile here. It’s been a bit quiet of late because I’ve been too busy to do much reading but rest assured that will change now!
Being Human (Series 4)
Having never watched the supernatural comedy-drama ,where a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost live together, before I decided to give it a go this series. I wasn’t disappointed. This series established a new vampire and werewolf replacing the original ones who have both now been killed off. Despite the premise, it’s actually not really much about the supernatural side of things, it’s fitting in when you’re not normal- Being Human as the title tells us. The new characters Hal, the old-fashioned vampire with a dark past and Tom, the child-like werewolf, are really likeable and make the trinity brilliant. Cutler is a suitable creepy villain for most of the series and the ongoing mystery is brilliant. Very funny, very exciting and the best drama I’ve seen this year which is very impressive considering how tiny it’s budget is. ★★★★★
Kick Ass 2
In this series Kick Ass creates a team of superheroes who try to fight off Red Mist, who now goes by a much ruder name. Things get very dark indeed when Dave’s girlfriend is raped and his Dad is killed in prison, having taken the blame for being Kick Ass. It all ends with an epic fight in Times Square which sort of just dwindles out. The ending was weak and quite light considering the things that had happened before it. The comic felt disjointed as if it was only being made to cash in on the original and Millar was unsure of where to take the story. It’s ok but disappointing compared to the original. A different ending might have improved it significantly. ★★★☆☆
Justice League (First Arc)
The first arc of the rebooted Justice League was set five years before modern day, when the team hadn’t met and were super humans were feared by us normal folk. The gang come together to defeat Darkseid, with Cyborg being created in the process. It’s a great opening arc as it gradually introduces the characters and introduces them to each other. They don’t get on at first but as expected the come together for a greater causes. The Green Lantern banter makes it actually rather funny too. The final scene with the league being honoured is really awesome and a great way to begin a new era of Justice League. A superb arc by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee which will hopefully lead to many more superb arcs. ★★★★★
That’s all for this edition but they’ll be more in a few weeks. As always let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts on any of these things in the comments section. I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how my final week on teaching practice went so watch out for that!