Thursday, 15 August 2013


I suppose it’s only fair to start with the admission that I thoroughly enjoyed Kick Ass, both the film and the comic. Although the former diverged in plot from the latter, it kept the energy and humour (as well as the violence) of the source material and tuned out to be a fun movie (unless you read the Daily Mail).  For the sequel, director Matthew Vaughan has handed over his duties (including scripting) to relative unknown Jeff Wadlow, a bit of a risk if ever there was one.

As with eth original, Kick Ass 2 centres around the titular character, a mild mannered schoolboy who likes to dress up in a wetsuit and punish bad guys, although he often gets his own ass well and truly kicked (no super powers here, folks). Dave Lizewski (Arron Taylor-Johnson,’Casualty’)  is the hero’s alter ego, and together with the pint sized powerhouse Hit Girl (Chlow Moretz, ‘Big Momma’s House 2’) he sets out to increase his limited effectiveness as a crime fighter.

All is well and good, but as ever life gets in the way. Hit Girl has to start actually attending school and being a (gulp) real girl, and the film handles the Mean Girls-esque premise much more ham fistedly than the comic did. Kick Ass, meanwhile, has tracked down other heroes inspired by him, and joins the ‘super team’ Justice Forever (fist pump). Meanwhile, Chris D’amico (Christopher Mintz Plasse, ‘Marmaduke’), the rich mobster’s kid from the first film, has decided to become the world’s first super villain. This isn’t going to end well…

Author Mark Millar has described Kick Ass 2 as the Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy, and this is definitely more true of the comic than the film. It has it’s dark moments (one that may just blow away non comic book readers), but I wish the ending had been more true to the book, setting up as it does the beginning of part 3. That said, large swathes of the graphic novel are included, and the basic plot is pretty well stuck to. Special mention must go to Jim Carrey, who plays vigilante Colonel Stars & Stripes. It’s a shame he is refusing to promote the movie because of the violence, but I guess that means he’s one of those who only reads the bits of the script that they are in!

“Your enjoyment will depend a lot on whether you regard murder, mutilation and dismemberment as good, harmless fun,” says legendary prude Chris Tookey of the Daily Mail. Well, Chris, I just happen to fall into that bracket and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the other members of the audience. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you enjoyed the first there’s no reason not to like this one as well. More violence, more swearing and even some decent character progression, Kick Ass 2 is exactly what it is supposed to be.


Thursday, 1 August 2013


Seems like the best way to end a heatwave is to hold a rock festival, with three weeks of blistering sunshine cancelled out by the start of the third year of Wales’ fledgling festival. It’s soon apparent that we should have brought the land rover, as Steelhouse takes place on top of what in some countries would be called a mountain. Seriously, if there was an award for the festival with the shittest road, this would win hands down, as the muddy, potholed ascent to the top has all the grace and charm of Margaret Thatcher on her period. Once we get there (past a grinning steward who is obviously enjoying drivers astonished faces as they bounce around like ping pong balls) it all gets rather quaint. The tents are set up and we stroll into the modest sized arena, which feels like a nice country fete. Okay, so it’s a fete with a big stage at one end, but I am disappointed that there isn’t a coconut shy and a tombola somewhere. What there is, brilliantly, is an area where you can recharge your mobile phone for free, the catch being that you have to use pedal power. We grab a drink, set up the chairs in the beautiful weather and pull up our socks so they don’t get completely rocked off.

The first two bands are unknown to us, with openers Fireroad having won a competition to get their spot. It’s well deserved though, as their music is both powerful and catchy, and I vow to get hold of their debut album. Dead Shed Jokers follow them, but their heavy bass and riffs are held back by a vocal that needs to be deeper, angrier and more passionate. Unlike Fireroad they get dull quite quickly and our minds wander.

As the rain starts to fall we retire to the tents, and as a result aren’t in the arena when Hand Of Dimes begin their set. The thing is, as the singer starts belting out the first number I can’t help thinking his voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Neville MacDonald, he of Skin and Red, White & Blues fame. A quick scurry from the tent reveals that it is indeed the man himself, fronting a band I hadn’t heard about. Unsurprisingly, the music is rich and bluesy, with Nev absolutely filling the arena with his powerful, soulful vocals. Seriously, I could listen to the man sing all day, and if we don’t hear more from Hand Of Dimes past their debut ep it will be a great shame. Tidy.

Fighting Wolves are next, and the come onto the stage in a flurry of decibels, keeping up the pace and volume throughout their 50 minute set. They have talent and stage presence, but as with Dead Shed Jokers the songs just don’t stick in my mind long enough to make a difference. They’re a young band, and hopefully it’s a more positive story on their debut CD, but today, on a mountain, Fighting Wolves didn’t quite put up enough of a fight.

Boom! That’s the effect The Temperance Movement have as they explode onto the stage, channelling the Black Crowes and Quireboys via the Rolling Stones through their pure energy, helped immensely by the very animated (and rather skinny) frontman Phil Campbell. They fill their allotted hour with a variety of tunes, the highlight  for me being the long but never dull “Pride”, and the Aoerosmith alike “Know For Sure”. Although still to release their debut album (due in September), The Temperance Movement have been making a lot of friends, as evidenced by the most attentive and numerous crowd of the day so far. A cracking surprise and a very entertaining band, The Temperance Movement are floating close to stardom - lets hope they can grab it before it whizzes by.

And so to Anvil, whose dead end career got a massive boost when they appeared in their own highly entertaining documentary. The result, unfortunately, is that we have to sit through their set. It’s immediately apparent that Anvil were an average heavy metal band who didn’t get massive because they were, well, an average heavy metal band: the world moved on, Anvil didn’t. It’s pretty obvious, mind, that vocalist/guitarist Lips is overjoyed to be here, to be anywhere, really. He is having a blast, whereas I am wincing every so often at the quite awful music that they are playing. You’d think after all this time they would have got better, but as new track “Bad Ass Rock & Roll” shows, Anvil have a limited time before people realize that entertaining in a documentary doesn’t mean entertaining on stage. By the way: How many members of Anvil does it take to change a light bulb? It doesn’t matter: they’re just glad to be here.

So it’s time for FM, the stalwarts of British AOR, and there’s plenty of eager fans happy to brave the storm (or was that Shy…) as the band kick off with the chunky “Tough Love”. Although, in effect, the cheese in the metal sandwich that is Anvil and Saxon, FM do their usual bang up job, throwing classics and newies at the crowd. “I Belong To the Night” and “That Girl” nestle comfortably alongside “Crosstown Train” and “Over You”, with the band sounding tight as ever. Steve Overland gets to flex his vocal muscles as the set ends with the now inevitable “Heard It Through The Grapevine”, and all in all a good time is had by everyone not sheltering in the beer tent.

Although a different kettle of metal to FM, Saxon share the trait of being almost guaranteed to give you a good, clean show, and tonight is no exception. The rain stops for a while as they blast through 90 minutes of metal. New track “Sacrifice” is a great, powerful opener, but the band recognize the crowd’s lust for classic material and don’t disappoint. “Power & The Glory”, “Heavy Metal Thunder”. ”Dallas 1pm”, and the much loved “The Eagle Has Landed” are amongst those aired, with newer tracks such as “Conquistador” and “Wheels Of Terror” fitting in nicely. Drummer Nigel Glockler gets an early solo, made bearable by the fact his drum riser shoots up to the heavens and sprays sparks all over the place. Throughout the set we are also treated to massive jets of flame that take a few photographer’s eyebrows off and the crowning glory of the giant eagle at the back of the stage, making it’s first UK appearance for 20 years. As Biff ponders the curfew (“We’re oop a fookin mountain!”) we slip off as they bang out encores “Crusader” and “Denim & Leather”, deciding to bugger off home and come back in the morning rather than swim about in the campsite. So far, though, Steelhouse has certainly been fun, and tomorrow’s line up says it might even get better.

Day two sees tents but not spirits dampened, and we try hard not to look smug after a night in a comfy bed and a nice pub breakfast. The rain has decided to start early, and mother nature has now added a strong wind that proceeds to try and steal as many lead vocals as it can throughout the day. Unfortunately some unexpected trafiic means we only catch the last track from openers Blackbyrd (and even then from the car patk), and that’s a shame because they sound rather good. They are followed by Skam, who manage to put the “power” into “Power Trio” with a solid wall of aggression and melody that is rather impressive. Good songs, a good crowd and a rare break in the rain mean they deservedly make a few new friends.

Trucker Diablo are another new one on me, and as they take the stage to the strains of CW McColl’s “Convoy” they look like they just crawled out of a Louisiana swamp. As soon as the music starts, however, it’s clear these aren’t inbred gator wrestlers. Power, anger and might riffs are topped off by a singer who can also trot out an impressive guitar solo. When he speaks to the crowd it’s apparent that the band are in fact Irish, and an audience member tells me they’ve been around a while. They tempt fate with “When’s It Gonna Rain”, rock out with “Voodoo” and finish a superb 40 minute set with “Year Of The Truck”. Hard and heavy but catchy with it, Trucker Diablo are certainly the surprise hit of Day 2.

I was happy to see Vega on the bill for the festival, and am even happier when they rock up and deliver with what seems like no effort at all. Although the wind steals vocalist Nick Workman’s efforts for a few minutes, the sound guys grab it back and the fifty minutes fly by. Special note has to made of guitarist Tom Martin, whose solos seem to fly from his fingers. Workman himself is pitch perfect, and the songs, culled from their two albums so far, are well chosen. “White Knuckle Ride”, “Into the Wild” and the Chrry Pie a-like “What The Hell get the crowd buzzing, and by the time they finish with “Hands In The Air” it’s clear this is a band that can go places.

Heaven’s Basement seem to have brought a decent following with them, and although different to the band I fell in love with some years ago, they play good enough modern rock and have lucked out with vocalist Aaron Buchanon, a natural firebrand who fits in lik a glove. Appropriately, the heavens open during the set, but it doesn’t hold them back and they finish with an old(ish) favourite “Executioners Day”. Although I enjoy the set, and have heard the album, I’m not half as excited as I was when I watched the original incarnation. Maybe I’m just too old…

For me, it’s now time for the highlight. I’m not a massive Schenker fan, and have seen Magnum dozens of times, so when Snakecharmer take the stage I’m grinning from ear to ear. Although Whitesnake covers are expected, it’s great that they start with “Guilty As Charged” from their well received debut. Chris Ousey has am amazing voice, and holds the stage with a Paul Rodgers swagger and a ton of well earned confidence. He’s certainly backed by pure class, evidenced by the impressive trading of licks between Laurie Wiseman and Mickey Moody at the end of “Ready & Willing”. “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues” actually sounds bluesier with Ousey’s vocals, whilst “Slow & easy” is nothing short of a masterclass in rock performance, the crowd reluctant to leave for shelter even though it’s absolutely pissing down. “Accident prone”, “Falling Leaves” and “Nothing To Lose” again showcase the quality of the new material, but the biggest applause is reserved for the final dup of “Here I Go Again” and “Fool For Your Loving”. Simply astounding, and the band of the day for me.

Magnum wrest back Mark Stanway and Harry James from Snakecharmer for their 70 minute set, and there’s a great feeling of warmth from the crowd for these stalwarts of British rock. The set isn’t at all surprising, although opener “All You Dreamers” is an odd choice when something fast paced would have done so much better. It’s almost a half and half set, with newer stuff giving way to fan favourites like “Vigilante”, “Rockin Chair” and ”Days Of No Trust”. The band sound great, although Bob Catley could do with a bit more volume on his mic, and Tony Clarkin as usual displays understated virtuoso skills quietly in stage right. Always good to see and always good, Magnum did their job, but hopefully we’ll one day get a more varied set from the Midlands masters of melody.

Finally, and rather later than advertised because of the bloody weather causing havoc to the technical gubbins, Michael Schenker and pals get their go. It’s his “Temple Of Rock” tour, and for it he has sensibly picked a set full of fan favourites from UFO, The Scorpions and his own stuff. You can’t really argue with a set that starts out with “Lovedrive”, “Another Piece Of Meat” and “Assault Attack”. Vocalist Doogie White doesn’t really look like a frontman, but he has a great set of pipes, whilst the ex Scorps due of Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz keep the rhythm going. Schenket himself doesn’t look up from his guitar much and comes across like the Gary Busey of rock, but he sure can play guitar and was on fine form, particularly for “Attack of The Mad Axemen”. New track “Horizons” is okay without being amazing, and the Dio tribute “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” is a bit embarrassing, but overall the lads put on a decent show.

Steelhouse 4 has been announced for next year, and it seems like the line ups have been getting better each year so there should be plenty to look forward to. Hopefully a coconut shy and a tombola…

For videos of FM, Vega, Snakecharmer and Magnum, go to my YouTube channel at:

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

"THE HEAT" - Film Review

 I guess I should get something out of the way before starting the review proper: I think Sandra Bullock is one of the most beautiful, talented actresses out there. As a result, I tend to enjoy her films, even “All About Steve”, for which she won a Golden Raspberry Award (which she collected in person, the only person other than Halle Berry to do so). What this means is, basically, I was looking forward to “The Heat”, especially after snorting beer from my nose just watching the trailer. Bring it on…

What “The Heat” is, at heart, is a buddy cop movie, like you’ve no doubt seen a million times before. One cop is uptight (Bullock as an FBI agent) and the other is, well, not (Melissa McCarthy, better known as Molly from “Mike & Molly” and fresh from another turn as an obnoxious bitch in “Identity Thief”). Bullock is a by the book crime solving genius who just about everybody hates, whilst McCarthy is a tough street detective who isn’t against a little police brutality. It should also be noted that she also swears like a trooper throughout the film, something McCarthy is very good at. People who think searing isn’t funny need to watch this movie, because it’s fucking hilarious when done properly.

The two leads spark off each other effortlessly, with Bullock having her rigidity chipped away by McCarthy, who in turn learns that she can rely on another person. You know, all that sort of crap. Mccarthy’s blunt approach to life is very, very funny, and lovely though Bullock is, the film is basically stolen from under her pretty feet. There’s a few gunfights and the like, but this is really all about the two leads and their catty relationship.

There’s already been a sequel greenlit for “The Heat”, and I’m nota t all surprised. I kept e laughing throughout, with the wafer thin plot only getting in the way of the sparkling dialogue and absolutely brilliant put downs. This is very undemanding flick, and if you still like stuff like “48 Hours” or “Beverley Hills Cop” this will be right up your alley.

 Sweary Trailer: 

Thursday, 20 June 2013


You have to feel sorry for DC comics. After all, they started it all off with Batman and Superman, leading to a veritable plethora of super heroes, including genuine legends like The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Of all their characters, though, only Batman has had any longevity at the cinema, and even that was nearly killed off by the evil genius Joel Schumaker (who is Stan lee with a rubber mask on). Oh, sure, Superman 1 and 2 were good enough, but they were followed by the absolute guff that was 3 and 4, and the godawful reboot in 2006. What ties all of the previous Superman films together is the baffling continued presence of Lex Luthor, a power mad rich bloke. Why? Fuck knows, with all the good baddies they could have brought in. Anyway, the best news about “Man Of Steel” is that Lex is not in it. Hurrah!

What we do have is Krypton. Not just a little bit, either. We get Krypton in abundance, an actual history of the people with flying dragon type things, volcanoes, politics and lasers going “pew pew pew”. Central to all this is, of course, Jor-El, and we get thrown at us an actual reason for him bunging his baby off to Earth instead of “Oh noes - the planet’s exploding” of the past. Okay, so the planet IS going to explode, but there’s much more to it. We also get a decent backstory to General Zod, as well as a more convincing explanation of how he gets to Earth. All in all, this is a totally brilliant retelling of the origin story, with Russell Crowe (Neighbours) simply digging out his “Gladiator” persona and beard to play Jor-El.

So little Kal-El comes to Earth and is raised by the Kents, Martha and Jonathan. Even this is handled in an original way, as when we first meet Clark he is fully grown and powered up, with his early years being told using flashbacks. This is, again, very effective, with one moment that will bring a tear to many an eye. The Kents are very well played by Diane Lane (Cattle Annie & Little Britches) and Kevin Costner (Malibu Hot Summer), and they definitely give the viewer a glimpse into the love they have for their adopted alien child, as well as the need to instil firm morals into the man he will one day become.

And so to Henry Cavill (Midomer Murders), the first Brit to take on the role of Superman. To be honest, it’s very hard to fault his performance here, as he fits perfectly into the blue and red suit physically and emotionally. Until he becomes a bumbling reporter (not yet, wait for the sequel), Clark Kent is not the most interesting character, to be honest, yet Cavill plays him with a deep melancholy, the weight of the world on his shoulders. His polar opposite is General Zod, played by Michael Shannon (Kangaroo Jack). Zod is the warrior to Superman’s peacekeeper, a man bred for war, not raised on a farm. It’s a sharp contrast, played out very well by the two actors.

Some have felt that “Man Of Steel” is a little flabby at the end, but I didn’t feel that myself. Whilst watching the, quite frankly, massive amounts of property damage, I was thoroughly entertained. The effects are perfect, as you would expect from director Zack Snyder , with Zod and his henchpeople a genuine threat to both Superman and the entire planet. We don’t actually see innocent civilians die, but that’s what they’re certainly doing out of shot. What you have here is, basically, a serious Superman film. There’s barely any levity, and this is a good thing. Superman is not a comedy character, he’s an alien burdened with having to look after this clusterfuck of a planet because humans can’t be trusted to do it right. On the other hand, he’s a Kansas farmboy who loves his parents. The clash between these two sides is what makes the character the legend he is, and David Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder have the honor of being the first writers and director to actually realize this, so well done them.

“The Avengers” was a big, tent pole movie that was, really, tons of fun, a true comic book movie in every sense of the word. “Man Of Steel” is a more introspective film, although no less entertaining for it. Sure, smaller kids may get a bit bored waiting for the big smackdown, but who cares what little kids think? “Man Of Steel” is up there with the best comic book adaptations, and I am already looking forward to the sequel. As long as it doesn’t have Lex fiucking Luthor as the main villain, anyway…


Friday, 14 June 2013


Richard Herring is primarily known for having a last name that sounds like a fish, and possibly for growing a Hitler Moustache. Then again, you might remember him from his early days with Stewart Lee, or be one of the few that knew him at school, where he was the headmaster’s son and not half as funny as he thought he was. Even if you’ve never heard of him, Richard Herring is someone you need to get acquainted with, simply because he is a very funny man, one of those comedians who is clever and erudite for the most part, but also not averse to the comedy equivalent of laying in the gutter and gargling his own piss. 

Another clever and erudite man who does not shy away from filth and depravity is Stephen Fry, a man as loved by the public as he is sometimes loathed by himself. Stephen Fry is a British Institution, whilst Richard Herring should probably be in one. Not really – I just couldn’t resist that gag. One notable thing about Stephen Fry is that if you use Google images to search for him (as I have done for this review) you get the additional options of “Fat” and “Thin”. 

One of Herring’s current projects is his extremely well received Leicester Square Theatre podcasts, wherein he interviews at some length various people. The line-up has been a veritable smorgasbord of comedic talent, with guests including Tim Minchin, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, David Baddiel, Dave Gorman and the inevitable Stewart Lee, who obviously needs the work since he split with Herring and the calls stopped coming. The podcasts are available for free in audible form, but are well worth paying for to own as videos.

Although there is a new one with classicist (and noted non comedian) Mary Beard now available, it’s the Stephen Fry one that I wanted to review, simply because it’s one of the funniest ninety minutes you can have without watching Bristol City try and scrape a point. If you, like me, think that today’s chat shows are boring, insipid and grovelling affairs where not enough guests are asked about sucking their own cock then this is the one for you. Nothing is off limits here, and early on I was very amused to find out which famous British thespian was renowned for saying “cunt” every other word, which is bad enough normally, but worse when you find out it was whilst he and Fry were filming a children’s television show. There are, inevitably, serious moments, but these tend to be a cue for Herring to whip out an Emergency Question, guaranteed to put the interview back on some insane track or other. It’s a marvellous example of interviewer and interviewee in perfect harmony, and Fry is on excellent form as the least bitchy luvvie who ever lived. 

Seriously, even if you only go for the free option of an audio download, you have to check this out. If nothing else, you can stick it on your iPod and mystify passers by as you snort and guffaw your way down the high street. Once you’ve done that, I guarantee you will, like me, work your way through the other episodes before writing to the BBC and demanding that Richard Herring be given his own late night chat show, although only if he cuts his hair first. 

Richard Herring's Homepage: 

Download or Stream  Podcast from The British Comedy Guide:

Video Clip:

Friday, 10 May 2013

GERRY LAFFY - "Just A LIttle Blurred" (Die Laughing Records) CD Review

Gerry Laffy has been about for a few decades now, but is no doubt best remembered as the co founder, guitarist and driving force behind Girl in the late 70s and early 80s. They are one of those bands that still have a small but loyal following, and it’s mainly for these loyalists that Laffy has self recorded and released this album of new songs, playing everything and recording it all by himself. Okay, so that’s not 100% true (get used to it) but I will explain later.

Those expecting a flurry of retro glam rock will not be appeased by ‘Just A Little Blurred’, as this is the work of a man who has been around doing other stuff for thirty years, and the last thing he needs is to try and recapture a cool yet out of date sound. What you get is ten fresh tracks that don’t conform to any pattern except the one that was in Laffy’s head when he was writing them. As a small bonus, there’s even a re-recording of Girl’s debut single ‘My Number’, (see! I told you I would explain) done for a bit of fun with longtime superfan Craig Bundy on bass. It’s slowed down from the original, but still a great song, and what’s the point doing a straight cover of one of your own songs? That aside, this is a very eclectic compilation of fresh material which contains, it has to be said, something for just about everyone except those who like thrashy shite with shouty vocals, and to be honest fuck the lot of ‘em is what I say.

There’s nothing too energetic on show, as the tracks are mostly mid range, although there’s certainly plenty of guitar widdling and some nice, chunky riffs. Opener ‘I’m Free’  is a very catchy piece, and there’s a very nice instrumental called ‘NHS’, whilst ‘Waiting‘ has a classic blues riff underpinning a catchy song. When Laffy slows things down I am reminded of Francis Dunnery‘s solo output, especially on the laid back and quite beautiful ‘Sunshine’ and the dreamlike ‘Love’. At the end of the album is a nice guitar led track called ‘Too High’ (and not in an altitude sense) that was recorded after the covers were printed, and it’s another one that shows that Laffy hasn’t lost any of his soul or guitar playing nous. It’s all quite refreshing in a way that a man trying to recapture his youth wouldn’t have been.

‘Just A Little Blurred’ is a very nice album, covering a variety of moods. It’s never less than entertaining and well worth a listen. If that’s not enough for you, it’s only a fiver from Laffy’s own Facebook page, and for that he will throw in a previously unreleased (and very, very good) live Girl album, recorded at The Greyhound in Fulham back in 1982. It’s a total bootleg and as such captures the intimacy and friendliness of the gig, down to some fine onstage banter and a definite crowd noise that a mixing desk recording rarely captures. Bargain of the century? Quite possibly, so go and buy it.

Buy from:

"I'm Free" - Official video:

Friday, 3 May 2013


First up, let’s set the scene. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr - Weird Science) is a little fucked up from the events in The Avengers. Yeah, he got to go through a wormhole in space, fight freaky aliens, die a little bit and get touched up by The Hulk when he fell back to Earth (in true David Bowie style). Suffice to say, that’s gonna mess with your head a little. Things aren’t made better when evil terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley - Coronation Street) starts to bomb seemingly random targets in the USA. In a possibly insane move, Stark throws down the gauntlet and invites the most dangerous terrorist in the world to come and have a go if he thinks he’s hard enough. This is not a good idea…

The most noticeable thing about Iron Man 3 is the incredibly sparkling dialogue. This, I assume, can only be because the co writer (and director) is none other than Shane Black, the man who gave us the likes of ‘Lethal Weapon’ and the wonderfully profane and funny ‘The Last Boy Scout‘. With him on board, Stark’s witty lines get wittier, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow - Duets) is more bearable and there’s even a kid who is not annoying at all. This, people, is a first for Hollywood (and yes, I mean you, Short Round). So full marks for dialogue, but what about the plot?

Well, without ruining anything the plot is pretty good. It is loosely based on the ’Extremis’  comic storyline, one of the best Iron Man has had, but don’t look to that for any real clues. It’s a reasonably tight plot, and is hinged on a great performance by Kingsley, who is definitely the one you will be talking about when you leave the cinema. Robert Downey Jr IS Tony Stark, mind, and as usual his performance seems effortless. Even Guy Pierce (Neighbours/Home & Away) pops up as a complete dick and throws in a few surprises. There’s also decent interaction and character development for Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle - The Bernie Mac Show), as his War Machine alter ego is upgraded to the sparkly red white and blue Iron Patriot. All in all, a good story that doesn’t disappoint.

‘Iron Man 3’ will not leave any fans wanting, as it ticks all the boxes we need. The first film set things up and was, in retrospect, okay. The second film improved on this with a much better story and villain, whilct Iron man three throws in plot twists, some genuinely thrilling peril and a villain that you can’t see Stark getting the better of. Thoroughly enjoyable, if not at The Avengers level, this is a great, fun film with lots of things going BOOM.

Oh yeah, and I suppose you want to know if you should sit through the freakin’ credits. First of all, the initial credits are a brilliant pastiche of 80’s TV action series, so watch those for a laugh. If you then sit through the standard trawl of credits (always fun to look for daft names) you will get a further scene that is quite fun, but it’s NOT a teaser of any kind. Up to you, true believer, but I was glad I saw it.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


                                               A Nice Place To Visit? No.

As Banshee prepares to make it’s UK debut courtesy of Sky Atlantic on Monday 29th April, I thought it would be a good time to let the curious know what they will be in for when they take a trip to the Pennsylvania town.

First up, there are minor spoilers here, but nothing that will ruin your enjoyment of what is a surprisingly good show. I say ‘surprisingly’ because when you watch the first episode you will be wondering what the hell is going on. Antony Starr plays the un-named protagonist, released from prison and immediately running for his life, eventually reaching Banshee in search of his old girlfriend, now married to the local district attorney. Who is after him and why isn’t explained, suffice to say they mean business. Instead of entering the town proper, he settles in an old bar on the outskirts, run by ex boxer Sugar. The two get on, and are soon joined by a another newcomer by the name of Lucas Hood. Hood is also steering clear of town for now, because as it’s brand new sheriff he knows as soon as he goes in there will be no relaxing for him, hence a quiet stopover in the bar for a meal before starting. By the end of episode one the new sheriff has carked it and Starr’s character has decided to take a chance and steal his identity, therefore becoming the sheriff, as you do.

                                      Sheriff Wolverine At Your Service

This probably sounds highly unlikely to you, and that’s a fair shout, but it sets up the story perfectly, and by the third episode (which features the most brutal one on one fight I have ever seen on screen) you’ll have stopped worrying about it, so engrossing is the slowly unfolding story. We find out why Hood (the only name he is called, so we’ll use it from now on) is running, who from, and plenty of other stuff through very, very effective flashbacks, including some dark, powerful prison shit. Seriously, I can’t remember a programme that has had me wincing or mouthing “Oh SHIT” as much as Banshee. The violence is brutal and at times lengthy, and whilst you doubt anyone could actually take the punishment given there’s plenty of bloodied faces and broken limbs. Subtlety is for other shows.

                           Hint: This guy does NOT like to be fucked with

On top of a fantastic story and grimly captivating fights, Banshee also boasts sex scenes that could lead to uncomfortable viewing with elderly relatives. It’s a trend in adult shows that I wish would stop, as it’s getting quite boring now. It doesn’t add anything to the story, people, and we’re grown ups who can go out and get porn if we want it. For me, it’s the only downside in the whole show, much as in Spartacus.

                                          Kyle Proctor : Ex Amish and Proud

The cast is pretty good, with Antony Starr coming across as Wolverine’s long lost brother, snarling everywhere and walking like he’s got an invisible barrel under each arm. This is a man who has spent fifteen years in prison, having to learn to fight for his very life. Basically, he is one tough little bastard as well as being a very unconventional sheriff! The town of Banshee is unofficially rum by Kyle Proctor, a cast off from the local Amish community (who are used well throughout) who is unsurprisingly Hood’s second biggest pain in the arse. The biggest, of course, is the guy trying to kill him, but to give more info about that guy would be spoileriffic, so I’ll not go there.

                                           Yes, She Does Get Jiggly!

Banshee is about as adult a drama as you are going to get, telling a very well structured story and racking up the tension with every episode. It drip feeds information at just the right pace, and is full of action. The first series runs at ten episodes, and does not leave you with a cliffhanger (great idea, by the way). Series two has been commissioned, and hopefully will follow the same path, telling a single ten episode story. Naturally, it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I was gripped week by week, and I would rate this alongside Spartacus and Game Of Thrones as one of the best adult drama series of the last decade.

Official Site:

THE fight of the series from Episode Three - If you like this, you really need to watch the show: