Totally Should’ve Book Tag

  1. Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

Pride and Prejudice, it’s my favourite book and the reason I have unobtainable relationship goals but I there’s one thing wrong with it, it’s that I just don’t know enough about Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. I would love nothing more than a sequel about their marriage and lives after Pride and Prejudice.

  1. Totally Should’ve had a spin off series

Harry Potter. I mean let’s be honest, it’ll more than likely happen eventually and J.K. Rowling has already written The Cursed Child but so far that’s not a series. I would love a series based on James and Lily’s time at Hogwarts but mostly because I need Snape back in my life.

  1. An author who totally should write more books

Nathan Filer. If there’s ever a book that broke my heart, it’s The Shock of The Fall. I loved this book from start to finish and I cried more than I’ve ever cried over a book. Nathan Filer is an amazing author and I honestly can’t understand why he hasn’t written anything more.

  1. A character who totally should’ve ended up with someone else

Peeta Mellark. I just feel he deserves someone who loves him more than Katniss does. It’s not that I really care who Katniss ends with because she had plenty of options but Peeta was one of the nicest characters I’ve ever read and I feel like he ends up with a girl who just settles with him because the guy she really loves potentially killed her sister.

  1. Totally should’ve ended differently

I didn’t like the end of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and I felt no inclination to read the second book in the series as I found the first one a little muddled. I have real issues with the act that no one cares that a child has gone missing and the fact that Jacob doesn’t seem to give a second thought to the fact that he’s leaving his family behind for a group of people he hardly knows.

  1. Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

There’s always a chance it will be turned into a film because this is still a pretty new book but I’d really love to see To All The Boys I Loved Before turned into a movie. It has a typical YA plot but it has some really strong characters and I think it would make a great film… Let’s be honest, we all want Kitty to be real.

  1. Totally should’ve had a TV show

I feel there’s a strong chance that The Lunar Chronicles will be made into films but personally I would love for the book series to be made into a TV show. By making them a TV show it means that they can dedicate a lot more time to actually getting to know the characters and we can have a bit  of back story. I would quite happily watch a full series per book and there’s potential to also include Fairest and Stars Above into it.

  1. Totally should’ve only had one point of view

I honestly can’t tell you a book where I think different points of view don’t work. I love knowing more about the characters and having more than one narrative is the perfect way to do this. If I’ve ever had a problem with a book, it’s because of the plot or writing style not the different views.

  1. Totally should’ve a cover change

I really hate the covers for The Summer I Turned Pretty. As a general rule, I hate covers with real people on, from time to time it works but as a general rule people should not be used for covers.

  1. Totally should’ve kept the original covers

The Gone series by Michael Grant. I’ll be honest when I tell you that I judge books by covers and Gone instantly grabbed my attention with it’s mostly black cover and coloured pages but after reading Gone and Hunger, I went to buy Lies and could only find the new cover with people on it.

  1. Totally should’ve stopped at book one

The Maze Runner. I’m really sorry to all of you guys who loved this series but I thought the books just got worse and worse as they progressed. I would have been happier if The Maze Runner had of been an extra two hundred pages, they could then skip The Scorch Trials and sum up The Death Cure in the last couple hundred pages. The Kill Order was completely unneeded.

 

Advertisements

My Top 5 Stop Motion Animation Films

I love animation. I love that it can take you to worlds and places you could only ever see in your dreams. It’s not constrained by real life and as such can create places that can be as normal or surreal as you like.

It can take you to an island where it rains food, you can go on a trip in a yellow submarine, you can dance with beasts and go on a magic carpet ride. You can even go down a magical rabbit hole into Wonderland. The only limit is your imagination (and artistic skills).

Animated films and TV shows have brought delight and wonder to children and adults everywhere and in this list I am choosing just 5 of my favourite movies animated using stop motion techniques.

Stop motion has a special quality to it, because it’s filmed using real puppets that are painstakingly moved centimetre by centimetre with a picture taken after every move you can feel the love and dedication that is poured into producing them. It also makes it more tangable than other forms of animation. There ar fantastical images happening on the screen, and yet, it all feels real. Perhaps because at some point, somewhere it was real. Even if it is a little on the small side. This is why stop motion is my favourite animation method.

So, without further ado here’s number 5!

5) Alice (1988, PG, 86mins Dir. Jan Svankmajer)

alice mad hatter

This film on our list is also the only one to incorporate live action into the animation.

An adaptation of Alice in wonderland, Alice was brought to life by czechoslovakian animator Jan Svankmajer. It brings forth a much more dark and disturbing version of alice white rabbitWonderland than previous adaptations had portrayed. It follows a live action Alice in her adventures down the rabbit hole. Gone away are the bright coloured and friendly characters. In their place we get characters that seem dangerous and confusing. The puppets are often found objects re-purposed for the film. Even using a real stuffed rabbit for The White Rabbit. Wonderland itself looks like an old house where any child could wander and find any manner of strange things.

All this give Alice a unique feel and mood, and is often cited as one of the great films about childhood, discovery and the loss of innocence though I’m not sure I would let a child watch this. Even with the PG certificate I feel that it would be a little too disturbing for young children.

4) Mary and Max (2009, 12, 92mins Dir. Adam Elliot)

mary and max

An amazing film about a friendship between a man with Autism in New York and his pen pal. A lonely little girl in Australia.

Mary and Max is one of the most beautiful and emotional films you will ever watch. While the colour palette has been deliberately kept to browns and greys to reflect the lives of the two protagonists, this film is anything but.

You’ll laugh out loud at some of the childish musings of Mary (Toni Collette) and you will cry at the tragedy of Max’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) life.

mary and max meetIf there was ever a film that could be described as a roller coaster of emotion, this is truly it. It’s about finding a partner in loneliness and making your way in a world that perhaps doesn’t accept who you are. 

The design and animation is beautiful, and the soundtrack will have you humming The Penguin Cafe Orchestra for weeks. One word of caution, this is rated 12, and like Alice, it is not really intended for children.

 

3) Chicken Run (2000, U, 81mins Dir. Peter Lord & Nick Park)

chicken run poster

No list about stop motion is complete without at least one Aardman entry. I decided to go with Chicken Run, because it was the first feature film they produced. I remember going to the cinema to see it with my family, and everyone enjoyed it. Even when watching it back now it really stands the test of time.

chickensThe story is essentially The Great Escape, but with chickens. It sounds absurd when said out loud, and it’s this slightly eccentric absurdity that makes this work so well. The humour is daft British through and through and the voice performances from the cast are great and really help to make the chickens characters that you feel for and are with every step of the way.

You can tell that this is an Aardman production, the chickens have the iconic Aardman mouth made famous from Wallace And Gromit, and the humour is so British there may as well be a bowler hat floating at the top of the screen the whole time.

Gather the family round one Saturday night with some popcorn and you are all guaranteed a good time.

2) Coraline (2009, PG, 101mins Dir. Henry Selick)

coralie top

Based on a novella by Neil Gaiman this animation was brought to life by the animator Henry Selick, who also brought us such delights as James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone.

This is one of several films released in the last few years that really hits the sweet spot in being great for kids and adults alike.

coraline other motherIt is full of magic and wonder at the start when Coraline explores the alternate world she finds in a small door in the living room. However the film takes a much darker turn when Coraline’s wishes for a more attentive family come with a caveat she’s not so happy with. Her ‘Other Mother’ who has constructed this alternative world of amazing feats and characters, wants to sew buttons in her eyes. Coraline revolts and has to fight for her life against the ‘Other Mother’.

This manages to balance the magic and the darkness perfectly, and whilst this might be a little too scary for younger kids this will give slightly older children (and adults) a great thrill when the dreams start to crumble and Coraline isnt so sure what to believe anymore.

I’m fairly certain this has had a helping hand from our friend CGI to create some of the special effects, but you will be honestly amazed at some of the shots and the scenes that the animators were able to create with puppets and cameras. It is truly breathtaking.

1) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, PG, 73mins, Dir. Henry Selick)

 

nbc

This is the first stop motion film I remember truly falling in love with and helped to inspire my love of all things stop motion.

Everything is great about this film. The characters, despite being mostlly monsters from Hallowe’en Town are all relatable. We’ve all felt like Jack, no longer content with what surrounds us, and in need of something new to explore. Sally, also desperate to escape and help Jack all she can.

salyThe songs are just wonderful, all of which were written by Danny Elfman, there’s an array of different musical styles and are all sing along-able. From Jack’s Lament on the curly hill to Ooogie Boogie’s song in his lair of dirty tricks.

Then there’s the  design. I first saw this when I was 6 years old. I am now 28 and even now I can watch it and still spot something new. There’s so much detail put into it, you can see every line in the field with the curly hill, you can see all the small, insignificant details and the minor background characters given the same attention as the stars.

The animation itself may seem a little clunky and not as swish as some of the more modern stop motion films, but for it’s time it was very pioneering. It was the first film to use a metal ‘skeleton’ in the puppets to keep them in place.

This_Is_Halloween

Even the story and the tone was quite brave at the time, though Disney are now quite proud of NBC and include it in their merchandise in their stores at the time they tried to distance themselves from it by releasing it under the Touchstone label they created for more ‘adult’ content. Now it is considered a classic of children’s movies and animated movies.

 

Jake’s Top 5 Podcasts

I’ve loved podcasts since I started discovering video game sites on the internet in the mid 2000’s. They’ve been a constant presence in my life and have got me through many boring commutes to college, uni and now work. I’ve learned some amazing things about life, video games and a multitude of other subjects. After listening to some of these guys for years now I feel like I know them personally, the way they have let thousands of fans be a part of their lives is amazing.

 

Thankfully these days it’s easier than ever to get a hold of podcasts, most phones come with pre-installed software to download them and I’ve also included links to the podcasts in the headers:

 

5.How To Be a Person

how to be a person

Regular Hosts: Mike Drucker, Jess Dweck

 

This podcast follows the socially awkward team of Mike and Jess as they receive life lessons from their comedy pals. Each episode starts off with a full background of the current guest and ends with the topic that they have brought to teach the hosts.

 

This is a consistently great podcast, most of the guests have some comedy background so you’re always going to get some hilarious anecdotes. The part that is so endearing to me is the way the hosts and guests talk so candidly about their lives not matter how embarrassing the situation was. Topics they’ve covered so far include how to draw, make friends, be a parent, stop smoking, write a movie, survive heartbreak and be a scientist. Whether you’re interested in the subject or not you’ll always learn something useful or funny.

 

4.How2Wrestling

 

how2wrestling

 

Regular Hosts: Jo Graham, Kefin Mahon

 

A show designed to teach the uninitiated how to watch, understand and maybe even enjoy the ‘sport’ of professional wrestling. If you’re curious about wrestling but have no idea where to start, this is the place. Kefin is the resident wrestling expert while Jo is a new fan who’s ready to learn all about headlocks, sleeper holds and heel turns.

 

That’s not to say that there’s nothing to enjoy if you’re already into wrestling, most episodes function as a history of a specific wrestler so there are always some fun/weird/scary facts to learn about people like Hulk Hogan, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin. They have also done some more general episodes that deal with things like wrestling slang/terminology or the reason WWE has so many different shows on every week. They also cover wrestlers new and old so you can start to build a wide knowledge base of wrestling legends and current up-and-comers.

 

This is also one of the few British podcasts I listen to, it’s fun to hear about all this wrestling madness from a perspective that’s closer to home. The hosts Jo and Kefin are absolutely charming together and they’re really good about featuring user comments on the show, I got one of my tweets read on ep 5 How2Shield which was awesome to hear.

 

3.Talking Simpsons

 

talking simpsons

 

Regular Hosts: Bob Mackey, Chris Antista, Henry Gilbert

 

There’s a special thing that happens when you get a bunch of Simpsons fans in the same room together, we can communicate purely in Simpsons quotes. When the Laser Time podcast guys realised they couldn’t stop doing this on their other podcasts they decided to make a separate show to get it out of their system and so Talking Simpsons was born.

 

This is the first podcast from the Laser Time Network on my list, I’ve been following these guys since they all used to write for the website GamesRadar around 2008. So when they all eventually left I gladly followed them to their own independent site where they have started a multitude of podcasts under the Laser Time banner.

 

Talking Simpsons is a chronological exploration of The Simpsons starting from episode 1, it gives an overview of the episode plot line complete with sound clips of the best parts. They also have a lot of behind the scenes info about the making of the show and explain some of the more obscure jokes. One of my favourite parts is hearing the host’s personal experiences watching these episodes as kids and there is lots of 90s talk to hit all those nostalgia buttons.

 

At the time of writing the first season of Talking Simpsons is only available to contributors to the Laser Time Patreon but since they’ve started the season 2 the new episodes are free for everyone.

 

2.The Giant Bombcast

 

giant bombcast

 

Regular Hosts: Brad Shoemaker, Jeff Gerstmann, Drew Scanlon, Dan Ryckert

 

Giant Bomb is my all time favourite website and as long as they keep doing what they’re doing it always will be. The Giant Bombcast is one of the longest running weekly podcasts ever, the episodes usually run around 2-3 hours long and at the time of writing there have been about 932 episodes. That alone doesn’t make it great though. The Bombcast has been one of the great constants in my podcast life and they’ve been consistently funny for over 8 years now.

 

At it’s core the show is simply a weekly round up of all things in video games but it’s the personalities that will keep you coming back. All the hosts have amazing chemistry together, members have come and gone as people have joined and left the site but Jeff, Brad and Drew have always kept the show running smoothly. They are all really passionate about video games but aren’t afraid to admit how dumb they can be sometimes.

 

This isn’t just a show for video game fans though. The first segment of the show is usually just the hosts talking about what they got up to at the weekend. They also take listener emails at the end of the show which can hit upon any topic imaginable. You can get an email about pooping habits followed by one about the mysteries of space! Whatever the question/topic the Bombcast crew is more than happy to oblige.

 

1.Thirty Twenty Ten

 

302010

 

Regular Hosts: Brett Elston, Diana Goodman, Chris Antista, Henry Gilbert

 

This is one of the most unique podcasts I’ve ever heard. Thirty Twenty Ten is an exploration of what was happening in pop culture this week 30 years ago, 20 years ago and 10 years ago. So currently they’re taking a look at 1986, 1996 and 2006. They cover any important things they can find for that week like movies, music, TV shows, video games, comics and world events. What other podcast can you hear discussions about the Challenger explosion, the release of Underworld: Evolution and the developers of Grand Theft Auto being taken to court for an unused sex minigame all in one episode?

 

All the hosts have their own area of expertise but also offer their own personal anecdotes about what they were doing in the various time periods. This is probably the easiest podcast to recommend out of my list because it literally has something for everyone. It’s also pretty new having only started this year so there are only 14 episodes to catch up on at the time of writing and I’ve got to mention that it has an amazing theme tune done by Dotflist. It’s not too late to climb aboard the pop culture time machine!

Blessed Are We By The Beards

You can forget your hipster, quinoa munching, chai latte sipping, wanko beards. Here we celebrate the true beards of cinema. The beards of power, of distinguishability, of magic, of evil, of the bloke stuck in the Antarctic who can’t be arsed to shave or maybe it’s just a bit cold.

These are my top 5 beards of cinema.

 

  1. Ian McKellen in Lord of The Rings Trilogy/The Hobbit Trilogy

Gandalf-2

No beard list would be complete without an epic wizard beard. I could have gone for Saruman but I am saving Christopher Lee for my ‘What Cher would have looked like without the surgery’ and ‘Best Wizard Fingers’ lists. McKellen’s grubby, lanky yet oddly glorious chin wig gives Gandalf that all important distinguished gravitas. He looks like a wizard who’s been in scraps, been around Middle Earth a bit and knows what he is talking about. Try to imagine him yelling ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’ clean shaven… you can’t can you. It doesn’t bloody work.

 

  1. Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

gallery-1452776028-movies-robin-hood-prince-of-thieves-alan-rickman

Oh Alan, my Alan. To be honest, the late, great Sir Alan of Rickman has had some cracking facial garnish in his film career, see the quality moustache in Truly, Madly, Deeply, the wonderfully manicured slimline feature of his lower face in Die Hard, and the seedy moustache coupled with lower lip hair nubbin in Bottle Shock, but for me the piece de resistance is his deathly dark and malevolent mush in Prince of Thieves. I’ll admit now i re-watched Prince of Thieves last night over a bucket of fried chicken at a mate’s house so this particular beard is fresh in my mind. It is glorious though. No patches, no wispy bits, just proper full coverage, moving and molding around Rickman’s sneering chin as he yells at the guards to ‘CLEEOOOOWSE THE GATE!’

 

  1. Chia Hui Lui in Kill Bill 1 & 2

kill bill

It’s a fake; we know this. But a proper homage to old school martial arts films wouldn’t be complete without a kung fu master sporting a ludicrous, glossy beard, with some fucking gloriously OTT eyebrows to finish the look. Riffing on the White Lotus films of yore and the Bak Mei legend, Tarantino ups the facial hair ante and dons Chia Hui Lui with one of the most striking looks in modern film. How Lui manages to complete any fight sequences with that hairy face tail whipping around his persons i will never know. Either way, it all looks cool as shit.

 

  1.  Mr T. in Rocky III

mr t

I spent years arguing with my ex about whether Rocky III was superior to Rocky IV or vice versa. It was an argument that was never settled. He maintains Rocky IV is superior because Ivan Drago and because Rocky defeats Communism by avenging Apollo Creed’s death. While this is all well and good, I would also mount my defence by saying Rocky III had Thunderlips, the emotional implosion due to Mickey’s death, EYE OF THE TIGER (!!), the best homo-erotic training montage ever committed to film, and of course, the one and the only, Clubber Lang. I may be biased here by being a big fan of the mutton chop look, but Clubber Lang’s epic chops combined with the delightful mohawk perched upon the dome of his head gives him a look like no other.

 

  1. Kurt Russell in The Thing

macready-kurt-russell-the-thing

The absolute beard of beards. If there was ever an Academy Award for Best Beard then Kurt Russell as MacCready would win every single year regardless of the fact that The Thing came out in 1982. It doesn’t matter. His beard is the milestone to which all other movie beards are measured against. No one has yet come close to meeting its majesty. Kurt Russell, like our old friend Alan up there, has a varied history with cinematic facial hair and has come close to usurping himself (observe the wonders on his face in Bone Tomahawk and The Hateful Eight) but i don’t think anything will top his turn in The Thing. We see bored MacCready beard, angry MacCready beard and frosty MacCready beard, all looking full and luscious, enveloping his lower face in a nice furry blanket. Add to the mix his utterly sublime hair do then i am afraid we only one winner here folks.

Board Game: Ghost Stories

Players: 1-4 Time: 45-90 mins Ages: 14+

Do you like Kung Fu Movies? Got an interest in Eastern history and philosophy? Or just enjoy the aesthetic? Do you like games that give you loads to think about? A game with a massive challenge? Or even just enjoy a good co-op game?  If the answer is yes to any of these questions then this game could very well be for you.

Back in 2008 the good people at Repos Produduction’s publish this beautiful game from Antoine Bauza, who would later go on to design 7 Wonders, the winner of the inaugural Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur Game of the Year at the Spiel de Jahres) in 2011.

In this game you’ll be trying to protect the village by killing as many ghosts as possible. If you manage to survive to the end, you’ll meet an incarnation of the big bad guy Wu-Feng. Defeat him and you all win (this is a co-op after all, you all win or lose together), run out of ghost cards before defeating Wu-Feng, allow three village tiles to become haunted or if all players are dead at the same time, you all lose.

What’s in the Box?

set up 2

  • 4 player boards
  • 9 village tiles
  • 4 Tao Dice
  • 1 Curse Die
  • 65 Ghost Cards
  • A whole load of various tokens
  • 8 Haunting figures
  • 2 Buddah figures
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Help sheet
  • 1 Score sheet

 

How to play      

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ghost stories starts out with the nine village tiles randomly arranged in a square in the middle with the four coloured player boards placed along the sides. Each player board is one colour with a corresponding Taoist monk figure, which starts off in the middle village tile. Each colour has it’s own special ability to help you defeat the barrage of ghosts that will be coming your way, and each player board has two different sides with different abilities so you can choose which one you would rather play with, or if you like to live dangerously, just randomly assign.

At the start of each turn there will be a ghost drawn and placed on the appropriate player board. You then get the choice to get help from one of the villagers or to go and fight a any ghost on the board.

20160407_194851.jpgIt’s these horrible guys that you’re going to be fighting. They all have dots down the side, which indicate how many dots of that colour you need to roll to kill it, and down the bottom they have any effects they may have (depending on positioning this can be when the ghost is drawn at the start of the players turn who’s board it’s on, or when it gets killed)

Fighting is pretty simple, position your Taoist monk in front of a ghost, roll the three Tao dice and if you manage to get the correct number of colours the ghost dies and is removed from the game. For example if you were in front of the yellow ghost above and roll two yellows on the dice that sucker gets killed. You can bolster your roll with Tao tokens that you can gain through help from certain villagers or from your special ability. So if you were to have only rolled one yellow, you can chuck in a yellow Tao token to make it up to two.

What’s so great about it?

Well, so, so much. I’ve tried to keep my rules explanation brief, otherwise we could be here a while. The basic rules are quite simple, (draw ghost, place ghost, perform any curses ghosts require, move about the village, either get help or fight). The strategy involved is ghostlydeep and can be quite intense at times.

There’s a new ghost drawn every turn, so you need to keep on top of them or else you’re going to get over run and start losing Qi tokens (they work kinda like lives in an old school Mario game, run out and you die). It’s this constant barrage of ghosts that can really make it nail biting, as you can be quite on top of things, and due to a run of bad luck you’ll suddenly find yourself staring at a board full of ghosts, all proving a threat to killing you or ending the game at any moment.

While you want to be fighting ghosts as much as possible, you might also need help from the villagers to be able to improve your chances of killing them. Sometimes you can spend ages weighing up if you can leave that haunter ghost (they have the little ghost figurines, and if left un-killed can haunt a village tile so you can no longer use it, and possibly end the game) and instead get help so that you’re more likely to kill it. Do you have time? Will another haunter come out on the next go? Can one of the other players maybe tackle it? Would going for another ghost be better? They’re all some of the questions that can go through your head within about three seconds.

This is a very hard game, even on the easiest setting (There are various ways to set up the game to make it easy or harder) I have only managed to win the game once, and have  only made it to the incarnation of Wu-Feng a handful of times.ghosty

As it is a co-op game you can plan out your moves to a certain degree and you can ask for help from your fellow players. This can have drawbacks as some people can be a little forceful and plan your next 10 moves for you. We find it best to play with the rule of ‘you can discuss as much as you like, but the player whose turn it is gets the final say as to what they do’, which helps to eliminate some of that.

The Artwork is simply stunning. The amount of work that has gone into the design of the game is bewildering when you think about it. Every Ghost card has been individually designed with some very gruesome images. Each village tile and player board has all had the same treatment. This all helps to give the game a real sense of atmosphere and brooding.

What’s not so great?

Well, as I’ve stated before, this is a really tough going game. Which is great if you’re looking for a challenge. However it can be a little disheartening when you still haven’t won after 20 games.  I haven’t even attempted this on the harder settings. The rules do state that it will be hard and it will take you a few games to really get into it, and possibly win the game (again, this can be great. I like a slow burner that you can take your time to really get to know, but some might get a little impatient). on the board

The rule book is awful. It was very difficult to understand. I had to look a few bits up on-line just to clarify what it meant. The flow chart on the back is handy for the basics, but for some of the more fiddly rules you might be better going straight to on-line sources. The rule book is the only thing that I feel could do with a redesign and a re-write. Even Antoine Bauza himself has admitted that the rule book was a little confusing and has learnt from his mistakes on that one.

Reccomended?

Yes. I fully recommend this game, it’s a great stepping stone from gateway games to something a bit more meaty to sink your teeth into. It can be difficult, but the challenge is great and rewarding when you do well.

As it’s co-op it’s great for if you want to bring everyone together for a change from competition.

The artwork is atmospheric and really goes with the theme.

On top of all this, if you get bored of the base game there are at least two expansions, one of which allows up to 5 players, one of whom will be playing as Wu-Feng himself. As well as an iOS app to play on the go and practice for when you’re playing with friends.

One last thing worth mentioning. It can be played solo. So if you’re having trouble getting everyone together or want to practice at it a little more or even if you enjoy a little time lost in your own thoughts on a game you can bust it out any time.

★★★★★

 

 

 

 

Wrestlemania 32 Wrap Up

Well there it was again, the biggest event on any pro wrestling fan’s calendar for the year has been and gone. Overall I’d say it was a very confusing show and in my opinion a lot of matches ended with the wrong people winning. 

Wrestlemania is basically wrestling’s season finale, it finishes off all of the current storylines so they can start fresh the next night on Raw. But it’s also a time when the most eyes are back on the WWE. Whether it be lapsed fans who want that yearly nostalgia bump or perhaps new fans who’ve been caught up in the excitement and want to be part of the conversation. So with this in mind you’d think WWE would go out of their way to create a feel good show but that’s not what they did this year. 

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with subverting expectations but when that comes at the expense of a fun show maybe that’s not the right call for Mania.

  

Kevin Owens(C) vs Dolph Ziggler vs Stardust vs Sami Zayn vs Sin Cara vs The Miz vs Zack Ryder in a 7-Man Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship

What seems to be becoming an annual tradition we have a big cluster muck of a ladder match involving anyone they couldn’t fit anywhere else. The only real story going into this match was the feud between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Owens had previously injured Sami so we were all expecting it to be a one on one match between them to settle the grudge. Both of them have a huge history together from their early days of wrestling and they have both worked extremely hard to get to where they are today. So that alone would have made an awesome match, instead they decided add a bunch of unrelated losers last minute and make it a painfully forgettable ladder match. 

The only big moves that spring to mind were Stardust taking a nasty body splash through a ladder from Sin Cara and Kevin Owens getting suplexed painfully onto a ladder by Sami Zayn. But after all of this the biggest loser of them all Zack Ryder who hasn’t won a meaningful match in years gets the belt. Straight away I felt this was a totally pointless victory and that was confirmed when he lost it to Miz the next night on Raw. This was the first in a night full of confusing choices by WWE and a disappointing open to the show for me.

Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles

Unfortunately this is the 4th time this year these guys have fought so it does suffer from diminishing returns but at least they tried to add some new dimensions to the match. This is the first time they’ve faced off with Jericho being a full on bad guy. 

Even though he’s a respected legend from the 90s he still knows how to piss off a crowd when he needs to. He shows no respect to AJ by slapping him, holding submissions on after the ref has called for the break and even busts out his cocky pin from his WCW days. This match also shows that both men have been learning from each other on the previous bouts. Both get chances to reverse each other’s signature moves, the ending coming from Jericho catching AJ out of an aerial dive into his Code Breaker finishing move to get the win.

At the time I thought that Jericho didn’t need to win this match especially now that AJ Styles became the no.1 contender for the title on Raw yesterday. So I think it would have made more sense for AJ to win here then go one to have a successful Raw too but maybe they didn’t want to give him a Mania win because he’s a newcomer to WWE.  

 

The League of Nations vs The New Day 

The New Day are inarguably the biggest stars the WWE has right now. So big that they got to do a special entrance that involved them falling out of their own big custom cereal box dressed as Saiyans from Dragonball Z. Yes you heard that right, New Day have really captured the attention of the internet generation and it’s helped rocket them to super stardom. 

  
They really deserved a better match than this one, taking on a bunch of boring bad guys who’ve been shoehorned into a team isn’t really Mania worthy in my opinion. Also New Day are the tag team champs, they should have been defending the gold against an impressive tag team.

So despite The New Day being the absolute favourites WWE decides The League of Nations should beat them in a forgettable match. At least they won by cheating so New Day still looked like the better team. Another pointless win that really took the air out of the atmosphere after New Day’s legendary entrance.

So after the match the League of Nations get on the mic and make the age old wrestling mistake of declaring no one can beat them which every wrestling fan knows immediately summons a super team of legends to prove you wrong. In this case it was HBK Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out for nostalgia’s sake. It was pretty entertaining we got to see everyone do their finishers. We got a Sweet Chin Music, the return of Mr. Socko and the crowd favourite Stone Cold Stunner. Then New Day got back in to try and persuade the legends to dance with them to which Stone Cold politely declined with a Stunner for Xavier Woods. 

  

Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose in a Street Fight

The Beast Incarnate vs The Lunatic Fringe in a no holds barred street fight. This match should have been awesome but it was very one sided with Brock Lesnar dominating for most of it. Now this is perfectly understandable because Brock is a terrifying monster of a man in real life but this is wrestling, none of that matters in this fake world. The crowd and me included really wanted Dean to finally get his big win because he’s been losing a lot lately but Brock pretty handily destroyed him. For a street fight the weapon usage wasn’t really anything special either, Dean had even been gifted a barbed wire bat from the Hardcore Legend himself Mick Foley but he didn’t even get to use it! Brock dodged it and that led to him hitting the F5 for the win.

  

Charlotte(C) vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks for the WWE Women’s Championship

It feels great to be able to say with 100% certainty that this match was the best on the show but again it fell victim to a weird and unsatisfactory ending. However this was a pretty important match in WWE history, for year the female wrestlers have been branded Divas while the men got to be called Superstars which never seemed fair to me. But they’ve somehow managed to get Vince to give up this sexist term and now everyone is a Superstar and the Diva’s Championship has been renamed the WWE Women’s Championship.

For years now the women’s matches have been pretty bad at most events but they’ve finally got the talent to really turn things around. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks are absolute stars and they really led this match. Early on there were lots of fast paced move combinations involving all 3 women and the pace never really slowed down which was great. There were also some great top rope moves highlights being a huge moonsault to the outside by Charlotte and out of nowhere frog splash from Sasha which was a tribute to her favourite wrestler Eddie Guerrero. 

Unfortunately this was all ruined by Ric Flair’s interference at the end. His cheating helped his daughter Charlotte pick up the win and forever have to accolade of first WWE Women’s Champion. I wouldn’t have minded this outcome if it was a fair match between the 3 women but the fact that they had a man interfere just ruined it for me and tainted the new serious direction they’re trying to go with women’s wrestling. 

  

The Undertaker vs Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell

No, this isn’t a joke. I haven’t accidently put in a match from 2000. They actually decided to pit the 46 year old Shane McMahon against the 51 year old Undertaker in no holds barred match inside a giant steel cage! And yes it was as stupid as it sounds.

First of all Shane is not a formally trained wrestler, granted he’s had a lot of high profile matches and he’s known for some amazing high flying moves which have been genuinely impressive and endeared him to the fans but he’s not a wrestler. The only reason they put this match together was for some reason Shane was ok with jumping off the near 30ft Hell in a Cell cage through a the announce table. Now this was an amazing jump that I didn’t think they had the guts to actually do but it was all for nothing! Shane lost to the Undertaker because he moved off the table just before Shane hit, it was an awful landing too, there was some kind of cushion but he didn’t really hit it straight on but he also didn’t die so that’s something right?

The match before that was pretty boring because of the slow pace and it was long too, clocking in around 30 minutes in total. Undertaker was always my favourite wrestler but I wish he would retire soon, he’s just not the same. Give the old deadman a rest already!

  

The Andre The Giant Memorial 20-Man Battle Royal

It’s telling that this match was a 30-man battle royal last year but WWE’s had a bad year for injuries and the roster was a bit think this year so we have this 20-man match full of nobodies. Big Show and Kane were the only wrestlers of note announced before this started and the rest of the made up with random tag teams mostly. 

The winner of this match was Baron Corbin a relative unknown from NXT which was actually a surprisingly good choice because no one was excited for this match. And it was a strong main roster debut for Corbin. It’s always good to see them supporting the new guys, I was worried they’d just give to Kane or something after the previous decisions.

  

The Rock vs Erick Rowan

This was a really pointless segment, The Rock got a huge stupid entrance with the Dallas cheerleaders dancing around him and he was shooting a flamethrower for some reason. So comes out to chat with the crowd for a bit but then he gets interrupted by the Wyatt Family who (for the uninitiated) are a band of mystical voodoo hillbillies who have no previous connection with The Rock as far as I remember. So The Rock rips his clothes off revealing he’d been wearing his wrestling trunks all along(maybe he always does?)! 

This wasn’t even a match, the bell hit and Rock hits his Rock Bottom finisher and that was it. Then the enraged Wyatts try to beat him up but the John Cena comes out to save him! They both do their signature moves and the Wyatts slump back to their swamp shack.

  

Roman Reigns vs Triple H(C) for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

So here we go, our main event between the King of Kings Triple H and Roman Boooooooooooo. 

  
Seriously the boos for Roman during this match were deafening. Bit of backstory on Roman Reigns, he’s Vince McMahon’s golden boy at the moment and he’s being given all the high profile matches and title shots but the problem is he’s not a very good wrestler. He can do big power moves fine but the rest of his moves are just boring strikes and instead of thinking of new stuff he just repeats his same moves ad nauseum. He also has almost no charisma, I literally have no idea what the higher ups see in him. The crowds have completely turned on him because he’s being shoved down our throats as the guy we’re supposed to cheer.

Triple H tries his best to drag Roman through this match but it was really boring, it probably didn’t help that at this point we were past 6 hours of wrestling if you include the pre show. But their job is to keep our attention no matter how long the match goes but unfortunately Roman just stinks it up too much. We all knew he was going to win too, Triple H shouldn’t be champion for too long because he’s the COO of the company (in real life and the story) so we knew it could only be Reigns at this point. 

So he hits his Spear finisher and Triple H goes down for the 1-2-3 leaving Roman to celebrate in front of a booing and hissing crowd. It was pretty hilarious, I just kept thinking “someone has got to come out and save this, right?” But they never did. It was seriously the flattest ending I’ve ever seen at a Wrestlemania. They’ve got a lot of work cut out for them if they’re set on making this guy a star, on raw he showed some signs that they might start playing him off as a bad guy which is probably their only option at this point. 

So yea that was it, a disappointing end to a disappointing show. The only way to save the show for me would have been to have the women’s match on last and ban Ric Flair from ringside. But no matter what happens we’ll probably all watch it again next year. Overall I’d give the show: 

★★☆☆☆

DC and WB Need To Address The Elephant In The Room

I’m going to throw this curveball out there before we even begin. I didn’t hate Batman vs Superman, nor did I dislike it as much or as venomously as many fans and critics. For me, BvS was a classic example of a hot mess, a pizza with all the toppings but with no particular order or sense to them. I attended a screening of BvS with three other people, one of whom shared my particular opinion, another thought it was atrocious, another thought it was great. Whichever way you look at it, for DC and Warner Brothers, BvS has been a little bit of a wet fart. Yes, it started strongly, churning out best ever numbers for a March opener and the opening weekend numbers were ludicrously high, but bad word of mouth and a critical mauling (lower than Paul Blart: Mall Cop would you believe) has seen the second week numbers plummet by a startling 68% in the US, and similar drops can be seen in the international markets (bare in mind here that with marketing costs included, BvS needs to make at least $800million just to break even). It’s all looking a little bit shaky for this beast of a tentpole film, designed in part to usher in the Justice League films from 2017 onwards, and start the mythological DC ball rolling. Zack Snyder is also set, at the moment anyway, to return to the helm for the first Justice League film and therein lies the problem.

 

Zack Snyder is directoral marmite. He frustrates and enthralls in equal measure. Just looking at his filmography you’ll be lucky to find a film that didn’t cause some sort of agitated grumbling, Legend of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole aside. Dawn of The Dead irritated zombie purists, Watchmen irritated the beardy comic book guys, Sucker Punch irritated everyone I knew, Man of Steel irritated many Superman fans, 300 irritated the sober and over 30s. And now BvS has caused the kind of constipated consternation amongst the general populace that can end careers. But alas, Snyder is one lucky man, as he has a massive fat contract with DC/WB to have his sinewy finger in pretty much all of their important comic book film production pies until the next start of the next decade, if not beyond.

 

Before you spit out your rice/pasta/carb-based dinner option and accuse me of being a Snyder hater, I will mutter ‘au contraire’. I enjoyed Watchmen (I also like the graphic novel). I was even young enough to revel gleefully in the stupid macho noise that was 300, and I will boldly admit to enjoying parts of Man of Steel (the first 25 minutes mainly). Snyder’s films all show us his eye for a particular aesthetic, that slightly saturated, dark and brooding look, layers of slow motion on action sequences, wide shots morphing into extreme close up, heavy use of shadow and silhouette. There is never any doubt that his films look good and that he has made that aesthetic very much his, however, what Snyder frequently fails to transfer to the screen is the emotional heft or complexity to elevate his films from merely eye catching diversions to something affecting and impassioned.

 

3198054-4471777387-Watch

Watchmen is a perfect example of Snyder getting so close yet so far. There are shots and scenes in Watchmen that are pretty much lifted from the graphic novel itself but in concentrating on the form and presentation, and how good Silk Spectre looked, Snyder muddled the genuinely interesting ‘Who’s Watching The Watchmen’?’ theme under a waves of slo-mo violence and bombastic noise. The whole point in a comic book adaptation is just that, to adapt, to mold the inherent plot and themes into a moving visual form. Snyder had the tools there, the cast were spot on, by goodness he was given a big enough budget to do it with, the screenplay was pretty decent, even if a little heavy handed in parts, but in the end we were left with something that was enjoyable and pleasing to look at but emotionally and thematically hollow. Watchmen the graphic novel had everything to say about twisted motivations of the powerful, the motivations of the superhero and how they fit into a ‘real’ society while Watchmen the film told us that The Comedian fought well for an old man and Patrick Wilson was still a stud even after packing on some beef and wearing Deirdre Barlow glasses.

 

102036

This method of extensive visual lifting from comic books onto the big screen can on very rare occasions work, 300 being a decent example. Thematically speaking 300 is about as deep as a paddling pool. It’s basically some buff men with large biceps and even larger swords heading off to fight some pierced fellows from the other side of the fence. There’s some eyebrow furrowing, much shouting and excessive violence. The graphic novel has no deep seated political leanings nor anything to say about the history of the Persians or the Spartans, it’s just good old Frank Miller violence. And that’s why Snyder’s film presentation of 300 worked. There was nothing deeper to project than what was on the surface on the screen, so Snyder could go the whole hog visually with the violence, with Gerard Butler’s beard, with the ripped muscular physiques.

 

With BvS we find Snyder struggling again to find that balance between the aesthetic (though he made me fancy Affleck so one point to him there) and the emotional. The resonance just isn’t there. The only time he comes close to managing to portray something emotively is the opening sequence in which we see the close of Man of Steel from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. It was mildly refreshing to see an attempt to show the actual human cost from all that destruction, and if Snyder had continued that theme and stayed true to it throughout the film we may have had an actual thread to cling on to for the next 140 minutes, but alas he dropped it all in favour of more wanton destruction later, crowbarring in an embarrassingly turgid line about the Gotham port being abandoned so NO INNOCENTS CAN DIE (CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THE BACK?!).

 

DC/WB need to take a step back here and look at what they have. In terms of actual characters DC have a roster of delightfully peculiar and wonderfully dark oddballs to choose from. They have made some cracking casting choices for their future films (Will Smith as Deadshot and Jason Momoa as Aquaman spring to mind), and have enough money to get the writers they need and to market the royal shit out of anything they release from their sandbox. Snyder is a producer on most of these future projects (Suicide Squad included) so he is going to be involved in some capacity, but DC/WB needs to make a decision about what kind of superhero films they want to make.

 

To stick with Snyder as director is to stick with director slavish to the visual replication of a comic book without much concern for narrative integrity or cohesion. DC/WB have to be bold and plump for another option if they want their universe to come together as beautifully as Marvel’s has done so far. They need someone who can bring the visuals and the narrative otherwise they are going to be left with a lot more to be concerned about than just second weekend number drops.