Tag Archives: The Force Awakens

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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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

episode 7

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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