Tag Archives: Star Wars

Failed Critics Podcast: Eat Local, Solong Han, and Steve’s Jobs

Despite reports of different creative visions for this episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes haven’t left the project, but have brought on board Underground Nights co-host Paul Field to delve into some film news and reviews.

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Character Unlock: E3 2017 Part One – EA Play

E3 is finally here. That means late nights, early mornings and far more caffeine than is healthy.

Let us begin this year’s festivities with EA Play. The first show of the conference gets underway with a flurry of old favourites and ends with a very anticipated title.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Three M8s Deb8 F&F8 (It’s Gr8!)

Welcome to the Failed Critics Podcast as we review The Fate of the Furious, the eighth entry in the Fast & Furious series.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster this week. Tears have been shed about the noticeably absent (and some would even say crucial) member of the team, whose mere presence is what has made the previous entries so entertaining, so absorbing, and so full of heart and character. Alas, even without Owen around, Steve Norman, Callum Petch and James Diamond soldier on regardless.

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Star Wars: Live Tweet-a-thon

Early this morning, podcast host Steve Norman took over the Failed Critics Twitter account (@FailedCritics) from around 9.30am for a very special tweet-a-thon. For almost 18 hours, Steve will live-tweet all eight Star Wars movies in sequential order, beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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Failed Critics Podcast: La La Late

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Well it seems we were a little hasty this week in recording the podcast. If only we’d have waited another 12 hours, we could have discussed the actual nominations for the Academy Awards and not just speculated. Although it doesn’t seem to matter as we were broadly correct in our predictions and round-up our thoughts in a brief news section to open the show proper (after Steve Norman hosts the long-delayed quiz finale between Owen Hughes and Callum Petch).

Speaking of delays – apologies to those of you who were expecting an episode last week. Fate conspired against us on a number of occasions when we wanted to record.

But don’t worry! Even though record-breaking La La Land was not released this weekend but seven days earlier, we still bung it in with both Manchester By The Sea and animated comedy Sing in the new release reviews. We also found time to run through some other movies that we’ve been watching of late as Steve gets creeped out by Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, Owen raves about sci-fi writer Nigel Kneale, and Callum regales us with his story of a trip to see Labyrinth for the first time.

Join us again next week for our T2: Trainspotting review, plus our usual load of shambolic nonsense.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Rogue Three – A Star Wars Podcast

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…

…a bunch of humanoids (that rather suspiciously looked a lot like regular homo-sapiens) hatched a plan to steal some prized blueprints that will allow these feisty rebels to finally topple their evil authoritarian overlord once and for all.

Unfortunately for them, the best they could manage was to kick this wretched git off their podcast for a week instead, as Steve Norman, Paul Field and “Crisp Packet” Dave Valentine return for another Star Wars special episode – sans Owen Hughes.

With the arrival of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in cinemas this week – heralding Disney’s monopoly over the Christmas blockbuster with their second attempt at reviving George Lucas’s space-opera adventure series – we reunited last year’s trio to dissect all things good and bad with the post-prequel-sequel-prequel… thing…

There’s a quiz (of course there’s a quiz) that Quizcast host Paul takes charge of again, putting our Star Wars knowledge to the test, before a run through of the once-canon (but no longer so) spin-offs that arrived prior to 2015’s The Force Awakens, including a very Ewoky Christmas and some surprisingly good animated shows.

We won’t be releasing a new podcast next week, but you can still check out last week’s Christmas special if you’re feeling festive!

In the meantime, make sure you send in your votes for the Failed Critics Awards 2016 before midnight 27 December. Ignore Russell Brand, every vote counts. If you don’t do your duty, you’ll only have yourselves to blame if we end up with Mob Handed as our number one film of the year. You’ve been warned.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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To paraphrase another space based pop culture phenomenon: “It’s Star Wars, but not as we know it.”

With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we do away with the Skywalkers, the Jedi, the Millenium Falcon and the Force, but welcome a new cast of characters in what is a hugely enjoyable first Star Wars big screen spinoff.

Sure there have been spinoffs before: The below-par Wookie and Ewok spinoffs way back when, the whole (now non-canon) expanded universe of novels and comics; a few games; the somewhere between average and excellent animated shows Clone Wars and Rebels.

However, Rogue One is Disney’s first opportunity to deviate away from the story of the Skywalkers, perhaps beginning a new version of what they have already done with the Marvel MCU; and tell us how we got to what we saw at the start of Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977.

Rogue One tells us how the fledgling Rebel Alliance got its hands on the Death Star plans – and it does it very, very well. Gareth Edwards, whose previous work includes the interesting Monsters (2010) and the disappointing Godzilla (2o14), pulls off a space-based heist movie with all the added action and battles you would expect from a typical Star Wars adventure.

There are really two main characters, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn); the former is the daughter of the Death Star designer and criminal-turned-rebel hero. Jones carries this role out with aplomb, confidently and ably leading the film and the band of rebels as they go about their mission. It’s notable that female leads and heroines are becoming more commonplace these days; and she looks every bit the part.

Mendelsohn’s Krennic is the overseer of the Death Star’s construction and has the intimidating duo of Grand Moff Tarkin (more on him later) and Darth Vader breathing down his neck – quite loudly in some obvious cases. He shows an intimidating side when dealing with his foes and underlings; and an intimidated side when dealing with his superiors.

The support cast are also excellent, if underused. Perhaps “underused” is not the right phrase, but even the male good-guy lead, Diego Luna (playing Cassian Andor), is not that present in the film. Donnie Yen plays the nearest-to-a-Jedi Knight we have in the blind martial arts expert Chirrut Îmwe, who, while not attuned to the force, is certainly a believer in the light side. Of course a blind, force worshipping martial artist with a big staff that beats up stormtroopers automatically becomes one of the coolest characters. Mads Mikkelsen plays Jyn’s dad and the reluctant designer and developer of the Empire’s biggest weapon. Whilst we don’t see too much of Mikkelsen he is, as always, on top form. However, the show stealer is the droid K-2SO who has all the charm of C3PO and R2D2 but three time as much wit.

Just briefly back to Tarkin, who in A New Hope was played by the late, great, Peter Cushing. Now, rather than recast the role – tricky considering this version is the same age as he is in Episode IV – or leave the character out altogether, they have rendered him completely via CGI.

Now the likeness is uncanny, but it is quite obviously CGI. Was it needless? Perhaps. But I was willing to overlook it. Strange when you consider how all the CGI additions that George Lucas added in wound be up no end. But I know that, Lucas involved or not, LUCASARTS and LUCASFILM have always looked to push boundaries in terms of effects and technology, which I suppose should always be encouraged.

The film is beautiful to look at. Some of the locations they have used for some of the (stupidly named) planets just look stunning. There are enough nods and call backs to the original trilogy to keep fans happy without laying it on as thick as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Oh, and there is just the right amount of Vader.

Perhaps not as enjoyable as last year’s The Force Awakens – which invoked the same amount of excitement in me as the original Star Wars – and perhaps more recently Guardians of the GalaxyRouge One is certainly less flawed, more gritty, and tells a good, self contained story.

Failed Critics Podcast: Tale of Resurgence

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With temporary host Paul Field getting to the ballot box and voting in blind panic to leave the Failed Critics Podcast after two long successful weeks, we finally have our Steve Norman back!

Luckily, Steve hasn’t done a Roy Hodgson as his team of Owen Hughes and Andrew Brooker don’t bottle it on the grandest stage of all. Assuming that you agree that the “grandest stage” is of course a free audio podcast.

Although they are still a bunch of fucking £50k fucking cocaine prostitute fucking limousine fucking cunts.

This week’s episode features reviews of three brand new releases, with a main review of Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi disaster feature (well, what other kind of film was he likely to make?) Independence Day: Resurgence. Set 20 years after the original, the aliens have come to reap their revenge – only this time, they’re… just… going to do the same thing again. Probably because they knew there would be no Will Smith this time.

Owen and Brooker also find time to discuss a fantasy movie worth watching as the Italian-French-English Tale of Tales arrives in cinemas – and on VOD services such as Curzon and Google Play simultaneously – just a touch too late to show how well the UK can work with our European brethren.

Speaking of Italian productions, Brooker also talks up Suburra, the crime film of the year that you probably haven’t heard of. Meanwhile Steve conjures up a review of The Conjuring (see what I did there?) and Owen continues the horror-film discussion by reminding everybody how great Hellraiser is.

All of this plus Steve’s reaction to Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix feature The Do-Over, James Earl Jones voicing Darth Vader in Star Wars: Rogue One, and the tragic death of Anton Yelchin.

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Failed Critics Podcast: 3 Critics, 1 Bathtub

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Welcome to this week’s episode of the Failed Critics Podcast. You know how we sometimes swear a lot and are rather crass? Yet, occasionally, we have to add an extra warning that the levels of explicit language and vulgar comments exceed our usually-already-fairly-high volume..? Well, this is one of those weeks.

Just as he was last week, Paul Field is back on the podcast along with hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes, and was once again given license to take over the quiz. The theme he went for is very tangibly linked to the first-person extremely graphic violent action movie Hardcore Henry, our main review this week.

We also have two other new releases to review this week as Owen looks at Jeff Nichols’ latest offering, the foreboding sci-fi drama Midnight Special, whilst Paul reviews Danish-noir sequel The Absent One. Never heard of it? Fear not! Paul also reviews the previous film, Keeper of the Lost Causes, in ‘What We’ve Been Watching’, where Owen lavishes praise on the documentary Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD and Steve ponders the point of Pegg with Absolutely Anything.

Join us again next week for presumably less potty-mouthed frivolities as we review The Jungle Book.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Zootopiatropolisplace

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This week’s episode of the Failed Critics Podcast features Callum Petch, returning for the first time in 2016, to join both Steve Norman and Owen Hughes for four new-release reviews.

With the latest entry in the Divergent Series franchise, it seemed almost impossible to record a show without Callum’s input on Allegiant – particularly after his last appearance on the pod the week after the previous instalment, Insurgent, came out! Continuing to play to Callum’s strengths this week, there are two new animated movies out. As if it wasn’t already well set up for him with a new Dreamworks Animation out, Kung Fu Panda 3, there’s also a new Disney film (Zootopia / Zootropolis / whichever it is wherever you’re from) which has already set the standard by which to judge all other movies this year – or, at least, that’s what Callum says.

As well as this, Steve and Callum have a chat about 2008’s monster-movie Cloverfield ahead of the upcoming 10 Cloverfield Lane, whilst Owen reminisces about the 90’s and watching cult comedy Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. In the news this week, we also take a look at the Indiana Jones 5 announcement, Han Solo casting news and the furore over Spider-Man’s cameo in the Civil War trailer.

Join us again next week for our 202nd episode. Yep. We’ve recorded 201 of these things so far. It’s as astonishing to us as I’m sure it is to you too.

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Failed Critics Podcast: End of Year Awards 2015

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Votes have been counted, booze has been consumed and a resulting two hour long podcast has been produced, examining each of the winners (and some of the losers) in this year’s Failed Critics Awards.

With Steve Norman absent, it’s up to Matt Lambourne to step in and host our final podcast of the year as Owen Hughes runs through who has won what in all eight of the different categories that our listeners have submitted votes in. Accompanying them both are special guests Callum Petch and Phil Sharman, who duke it out in the opening quiz, before laughing/lamenting the choices for:

Best soundtrack of 2015

Best documentary

Best film not in the English language

Best British film

Best male performance

Best female performance

Worst film of 2015

and of course the definitive Top 10 films of the year.

Thank you to everybody who spared 5 minutes to send in your picks for each of the above – and thanks to all of you who have downloaded our podcast over the past 12 months. You’ve made this year the most successful in our relatively short history and without you, it’d just be Steve and I talking over Skype each week to an invisible audience. Which, quite frankly, would be a bit weird. So thanks for sparing us that indignity, at least!

We’ll be back again the first week of January to review Joy, The Danish Girl and no doubt some other stuff too.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Star Wars – The Force Awakens

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Owen Hughes has vanished. In his absence, the sinister Steve Norman has risen from the ashes of the Failed Critics Podcast and will not rest until he has reviewed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

With the help of Paul Field and Dave Valentine, Steve leads a brave effort to restore order to the podcast..

OK, enough of that. You get the idea with our opening crawl. It’s a Star Wars special episode that celebrates the iconic movie series, from the original trilogy all the way through to JJ Abrams smash hit Episode 7 – The Force Awakens, released in UK cinemas yesterday.

As Owen has been kicked off the podcast this week, it’s up to Steve to host on his lonesome, with support from Underground Nights‘ very own Paul Field, and making his debut on Failed Critics, Dave Valentine. All of whom have been huge fans of the sci-fi fantasy saga from a young age and share their nostalgic experiences and how it may or may not have impacted on their enjoyment of the latest release in the franchise.

If, like Steve, Paul and Dave, you too had been avoiding spoilers like the plague, then don’t worry. We have a main review that is as spoiler free as is humanly possible for a film review, keeping the nitty gritty to a separate ‘spoiler alert’ section after the end credits, with plenty of warning in advance!

Don’t forget to take the time to vote in our Failed Critics Awards if the force is strong enough to break your top 10 films of the year.

Join us again next week for our rather festive Christmas episode!

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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

My love affair with Star Wars began in 1997 when they were re-released in to cinemas for the 20th anniversary of A New Hope hitting the silver screen. I was 10 or 11 and had not seen them on television before – or at least not to my recollection.

Sure, I’d seen other big action films before. I had certainly seen Jaws and Jurassic Park – and I am sure that I had seen Apollo 13 too. All great, but nothing blew me away quite like Star Wars.

When ‘A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away’ hit the screen, followed by the fanfare, opening crawl and shots of spaceships in battle, I was overawed and in love straight away.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m no geek or nerd, and you won’t find me at Comic-Con or bidding on eBay for the mint condition collectable of ‘second alien from the right in the Mos Eisley Cantina’. But if there are two things I’m obsessed with, then it’s football and Star Wars. That’s in spite of the prequels trying to dampen my love for them.

So, when Disney bought the rights from George Lucas and announced a new trilogy plus spinoffs, bidding to build a Star Wars version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, my excitement was tempered by trepidation. Would this be another Gungan filled Phantom Menace, or a return to form?

I’m happy to say it was the latter; a fun film that just felt like Star Wars. There were no trade disputes or convoluted issues in the senate hall. It was fun, it was exciting, it was intriguing, it was emotional, it was laugh out loud funny and it was dark.

Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2D2, C3PO and The Millennium Falcon all return to the franchise along with a number of background and secondary characters, giving call backs to the original trilogy (not much, if anything, from the prequels found its way to this to this corner of the galaxy) making certain that you are in Star Wars territory.

In fact, Han and Chewie are their usual, roguish, all-action selves. You can’t help but love the pair and feel a twinge of joy and nostalgia most of the time that they are on the screen.

However, it’s the new cast members that steal the show. This was John Boyega and Daisy Ridley’s big screen debut – arguably Adam Driver’s as well – and they perform admirably. Certainly adapting to and growing into their roles, as the reluctant heroes Finn and Rey, and the villainous Kylo Ren.

Kylo Ren is dark. Really dark. Darker than the darkside dark; conflicted and irrational. You get this real sense of menace from him. Although Snokes (his ‘boss’) lacked that and one of the downsides was his CGI appearance – not to give too much away, as I’m sure there’s more to come.

The Tarkin, to Ren’s Vader, was played by Domhall Gleeson. A small role performed well – again, hopefully there’s more to come in subsequent films.

It was as though Ridley and Boyega had to come out of this on top. One minor gripe from me: Their thick British and American accents respectively did grate a little bit.

Other than that though, they were both excellent. Especially when you consider it was two relative unknowns taking over the reins in cinema’s biggest franchise. I’ve no doubt big things await the pair.

Finally, Oscar Isaac was great in the limited role he was given as an X-Wing pilot and modern-day Han Solo, Poe Dameron. Charming, funny and adventurous; it will be good to see an expanded role for the Resistance’s best pilot in future films.

The action was as you would expect: Fast paced and fun, with jokes aplenty (more than any of the originals). Whereas the comedy in the prequels fell flat, this hit all of the right notes. And, of course, John Williams scores the film perfectly.

JJ Abrams has proven that he was the right choice for director. He rebooted Star Trek well enough for the big screen – although Into Darkness had its problems – and was trusted with this. He put the right team around him and successfully pulled it off.

I’m sure the film has its faults. Maybe once I calm down I’ll notice them? Still, it was a joy to watch and left me with a smile on my face, but still wanting more.

It’s not the best Star Wars film, but it is better than any of the prequels by some way and I think it is as good as Return of the Jedi, if not better.

Failed Critics Podcast: The Pope is a D**khead

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Apologies for the… un-Christian… language in this week’s episode title, but when Steve goes off on one during the podcast recording – as he does this week – it’s hard to ignore.

For everyone but the Pope, welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast! It’s our last regular episode now until 2016, as Christmas, Star Wars and End of Year specials are the only thing left for us to record in order to see the year out.

As ever, this week’s episode starts off with a quiz, straight from Steve’s bulging sack. Yes, you guessed it! It’s Santa themed (that’s what you were guessing, right?) and swiftly followed by a look through a few of the winners at the BIFAs. We also make an appeal for votes in this year’s Failed Critics Awards! Last year we had record numbers of people submitting their top 10 films of the year to us, and we hope this year that you’ll help improve on 2014’s total! Voting ends on Sunday 27th December.

We also have a lengthy discussion about the relative merits of Star Wars Episodes I-VI that Brooker has been watching recently – and quickly preview what we’re expecting from Episode VII: the Force Awakens. We also have a moan about the new full Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice spoilerific trailer that came out this past week. Steve reviews a couple of films that he’s watched of late, including Tony Scott’s final movie, Unstoppable, and the Disney classic, Jungle Book. Meanwhile, Owen is back on the Korean movies for a review of the Hitchcockian crime-thriller A Hard Day, as well as recommending Danish Western The Salvation, starring Mads Mikkelsen.

All of this, plus three new release reviews! Festivities may be under way in Christmas With The Coopers, but Brooker doesn’t think it’s bringing much joy to the world. Similarly, he struggles to remember much about the awful Victor Frankenstein adaptation that came out this weekend. Finally, ending on a positive note, Krampus establishes itself as one of our favourite Christmas films of all time. Genuinely.

Join us again next week as Andrew Brooker returns along with Brian Plank for our Christmas special 2015!

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Failed Critics Podcast: A Place Of Learning

D4D_1901.DNGSteve Norman? Here. Owen Hughes? Here. Callum Petch? Here.

Now that the register has been taken, the latest Failed Critics Podcast may commence. Please take your seats, spit your chewing gum in the bin and we’ll start this week’s quiz and hear Owen’s reaction to Steve’s choice of film for winning last week with the sports documentary Next Goal Wins. We also have a triple bill where the team each pick three films set in a place of learning – and that’s all the criteria they were given! It really is as broad as that. Good? Bad? Overrated? Underrated? Obscure? Well known? You’ll have to listen to find out what they pick.

We also have reviews of new releases Trainwreck (reviewed by Brooker on the website), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (er, also reviewed by Brooker) and Pixels. I say “review” of Pixels, but it was more like an uncontrollable rant by Callum.

Join us next week for the next entry to our Corridor of Praise, the inevitable induction of Danny Dyer! Where we’ll be joined by Paul Field and one or two special guests… Class dismissed.

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