Man Of Steel (Dir. Zack Snyder) | Film Review

man of steel film poster

Another summer, another super hero movie? Well not quite. With its five trailers, 19 TV spots and a reported budget of 225 million dollars, Warner Brothers’ epic reinvention of Superman, titled Man of Steel has continually promised to deliver far more then just another big budget comic book on screen.

And, believe it or not, they’ve more or less pulled it off. Read more

Star Trek Into Darkness | Film Review

star-trek-into-darkness-poster-largeSince the broadcast of the original TV series in 1966, Star Trek has had so many sequels, reboots, re-inventions and spin offs that it becomes quite laborious to calculate. But never has the franchise received the widespread appeal given by its JJ Abrams (Director) reenactment, which began with his aptly titled Star Trek (2009) and now continues with Star Trek Into Darkness.

Starting more or less where Star Trek left off, Into Darkness follows the exploits of Captain Kirk and his First Officer Spock as they "go where no man has gone before, explore new worlds and new civilisations" whilst perpetually debating the value of reason against intuition, blow things up, almost get killed, introduce pre-modern beings to advance technology by accident and basically unleash mayhem.

If I reveal too much more of the plot I’ll risk ruining the movie - but in brief it goes like this: a building gets blown up in London, lots of people die, Noel Clark (Doctor Who, Kidulthood) appears, the perpetrator is quickly revealed, numerous Starfleet officers plan to catch the bad guy and then, quite literally, all hell breaks loose. And that’s pretty much the sum of it. Read more

Beasts of the Southern Wild | Film Review

Somewhere under the multiple layers of aesthetic beauty that shimmer away on the surface of Beasts of the Southern Wild are a number of very, very familiar stories; a father struggles to find the momentum to raise his rebellious daughter, a community consistently on the brink of collapse struggles to maintain uniformity, a child whose innocence is under constant threat wrestles with life's infinite and perplexing contradictions.

If any of the above scenarios are well known to you and the medium through which they are familiar is a movie set in the American South featuring a soundtrack of orchestral folk, a cast of mostly young non-professional actors and also includes the essential contribution of a voice over to constantly remind you to follow the story, then you might as well stop reading, as the film in question and the remainder of this review will hold very few novelties.

If on the other hand this is not the case, or you are merely not bothered but, in fact, empowered by clichés and the general fact of cinema and indeed fiction, perpetually repeating itself then read on. Read more

Plan B - ill Manors | Album Review

It’s probably no mere coincidence that ill Manors, the third studio album by rapper, singer, songwriter and film director Plan B, has emerged at the height the Olympic euphoria evoked by the London 2012 games. Where the event’s opening and closing ceremonies aimed to congratulate the multiculturalism, talent, creativity and all round success of the city and in fact the state, Plan B’s rugged, abject and sometimes sinister poetry seems to have provided an alternative commentary. Read more

The Dark Knight Rises | Film Review

Advance warning: this review will not contain a rigorous nor thorough comparison of The Dark Knight with The Dark Knight Rises - A) because the former was fiercely in a league of its own and we’re not going to see another movie like it, possibly for years, and B) you’ve most probably already been informed somehow that this new Batman movie just isn’t quite as good as the last one; an assertion with which I am in total agreement.

However I doubt you’ll come across a bigger, slicker, better acted blockbuster this summer. Read more

Native Sun - 'Indigenous Soundwaves' | Album Review

One half of London based duo Native Sun is bilingual rapper Mohammed Yahya, who has collaborated with Dead Prez and Saigon; while the other is fashion designer, songwriter and vocalist Sarina Leah, who is well known for her album-stealing input on producer Eric Lau’s debut New Territories.

The convergence of the two musician’s styles on their new album, Indigenous Soundwaves, results in what fans of either artist would have expected; a sonic garden of blissful beats, flowered by startling moments of wisdom from Yahya and exquisite vocals from Sarina, with a luxurious blend of African rhythms at the roots. Read more

Avengers Assemble | Film Review

It can be difficult to determine the start of the summer in this part of the world. One obvious clue is the clocks going forward by one hour and the other slightly more obvious hint is the sudden emergence of superhero movies made with gargantuan budgets in multiplexes all over the Northern Hemisphere.

Fortunately, with the release of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, this summer promises to be no different. And fortunately again, Assemble promises not so much to be a superhero movie but a kind of superhero orgy characterised by a frenzy of flowing capes, mutating monsters, exploding spaceships and infinitely expanding egos. Overall the best attributes of any decent summer blockbuster. Read more

Arun Ghosh - Primal Odyssey | Album Review

Trying to describe the music of London born Bolton bred Clarinettist Arun Ghosh, like trying to describe the colours in a lightening bolt while you’re being struck by it, generally isn’t a good idea. But for the purposes of informing you of his second LP Primal Odyssey, I am, of course, going to have to...
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Ruby And The Vines live at Archangel, London | Gig Review

In some respects three piece Ruby and The Vines are the result of what happens when the multiculturalism of London surfaces as a musical style. Part West African Highlife, part melancholy and lethargic post-Punk, part '80s Reggae and, most importantly, part exuberance and allure. The band were at West London’s Archangel on June 21 to promote their debut EP Red Storm, where they performed to a fairly small though high-spirited audience.
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X-Men: First Class | Film Review

Traditionally speaking, a major movie franchise that began almost eleven years ago and has currently re-emerged with an almost entirely different cast and production crew would be refereed to as a franchise reboot. The term, however, seems far from apt at describing X-Men First Class. The right expression, for the new addition to the film series originally adapted from the comic book of the same and similar names, might actually be franchise overhaul or perhaps even franchise coup d'etat. For director Matthew Vaughn’s (the British filmmaker behind last year’s captivating comic book parody Kick-Ass and gangster movies Layer Cake and Snatch) prequel to the previous films seems to out trump its predecessors in every manner, sense and frame.
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Thor | Film Review

For Hollywood this officially is the year of the comic book. And with Spiderman 3 and The Dark Knight ranking as some of the biggest (and fastest) grossers in recent years, who can blame the studios involved for investing in the lives of bedraggled mutants, transforming immigrant robots from outer space and a general mesh of troubled super and not so super human freaks in outlandish costumes. So with X-Men – First Class imminent and The Green Lantern, Transformers – Dark of the Moon and Captain America – The First Avenger also on the horizon, Thor is the first in a very long series of comic book adaptations which will run well into next year, with a new installment of Spiderman and Marvel Studio’s Avengers due to emerge then.

If Thor is a merely a sign of things to come in the multiplexes then surely good things await us this summer. For seldom has a film of this size seemed so engrossed with getting the balance right (between action, romance, great special effects, good CGI and a decent story) and pretty much succeeded.
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Tron: Legacy | Film Review

So this year we had remakes of the A-Team and The Karate Kid, while last summer we saw the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the summer before that, The Incredible Hulk. It seems that it’s not a double dip economic recession that consumers need to worry about but a, more likely, double dip creative recession in which Hollywood doesn’t just recapitulate '80s pop culture and re-engage past ideas for nearly one whole decade but also for a second. At least that’s how the current run of sequels, remakes, re-releases, re-evaluations and consistent reemergence of counselled TV shows and hit movies makes it seem.

On the other hand the re-emergence of Walt Disney’s 1982 film Tron in the form of a sequel promises to be different. Not only is it a narrative progression of the first movie, but it should also be a visual and perhaps even philosophical progression of the Tron concept overall.Read more

Bilal Live At Fabric, London | Gig Review

How does one comment on a performance that felt more like a bout in a ring with a heavyweight champion than with a Neo soul crooner who hasn’t released an album in nine years and has kept, more or less, to the fringes of the supposedly dead music genre ever since?

You start, of course, by recovering and if you can’t do that you at least start by recollecting the significant blows. The ones that made your eyes water, that made your ears ring like wind chimes or had your stomach acids turning upwards before your legs went numb and your face met the cold floor.

Just in case you haven’t guessed already, the heavyweight champion I’m referring to is born Philadelphian singer/songwriter Bilal Sayeed Oliver and the performance; his live no holds barred show at Fabric in London on Wednesday 14th July. Read more

Poejazzi at E4’s Udderbelly | Event Review

For the second year running, E4’s Udderbelly entertainment season at the Southbank Centre played host to London’s exclusive spoken word/music night Poejazzi on July 1st, which featured a band with lead vocalists that change costume six times in a set of just seven tracks, a young reincarnation of Joni Mitchell with in song jokes that induce both giggles and sadness and a Nigerian poet whose transcendental play on words play out like spells found in cosmic dustbins. Read more

Meshell Ndegeocello at Jazz Café, London (14/06/10) | Live Review

Despite how effortless and intrepid a musician at their best might be on a stage, don’t you sometimes just get the impression that they’re not quite being themselves? The short answer is yes, obviously - that is [for most] what makes a live performance worth watching.

A parallel opposite, when it comes to Meshell Ndegeocello and her expansive show last Monday night at London’s Jazz Café not only did the pianist, bass player and singer seem almost too herself, it was as if the veil which usually exists between artist and general human being had been burnt like an effigy at a fundamentalist demonstration and tossed in the corner. Read more

Live Review: José James at Jazz Café, London (19th March, 2010)

With a full a black suit, a seriously seductive smile and a touch too much charm in his swagger, Minneapolis-born jazzy singer/songwriter José James looked more like he was about to go an expensive date than perform at London’s Jazz Café on Friday night. That said, with tickets going for £20 on the door, perhaps to the crowd it was an expensive date. Either that or this particular audience just happen to be unreasonably difficult to please.

As Mr James licks his lips, looks down at the microphone, and then picks it up as if it were his women, the crowd barely responds. And even when he starts to sing one of the better songs on his recent album ‘Lay You Down’ there is still little reaction. It is a sparkling rendition too, free of ego and full of romance. The bass sumptuously straddling out of the speakers, while warm notes emerge from the keyboard, both playfully and almost prayerfully. To this the audience heats up a little while James continues to look confident and sing as if he could quite easily walk on water. Read more