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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The 10 Resolutions Movie Awards 2014



Another year. Another Christmas gone – and hopefully you’ll have had a great time eating, disposing of said food on the toilet, drinking, playing games and being merry alongside friends and family. But now we move into a time of reflection and looking back at the year gone by - as well as looking at things that we would like to change moving forward.

We are in the bit of time where 10 Resolutions and Stories about Life was birthed 2 years ago. And as I’ve spent my toilet time over the last few days reading back over my journey over the course of the last couple of years I can see change in myself – both physically and mentally (a strong example is that I’m 2 stone lighter than when I started). But that is something I’ll come back to in my next post in a couple of weeks' time - as to be truthful I've got some stuff to process for myself before then. But now (as I mentioned in my last post) it’s time to look at my movie awards for the last year…. (A few TV, Game and Music highlights will also come around in the next post). So sit back, relax and if you are on the toilet - make sure you've got some toilet roll ready. It's time to strap in for some potentially controversial decisions......


The 10 Resolutions Movie Awards 2014
I’ve got a Cineworld Unlimited card – so basically it’s within my interests to watch as many films at the cinema as I can. This means that I’ll quite often end up watching some films that I wouldn’t normally go and see. Some of these films have been great. Others (as you can probably imagine) – have not. I’ve seen 40 films at the cinema this year which when you average a film at about 2.5 hours (including trailers) means that I’ve spent over 4 entire days of my year at the cinema. Which seems a lot – but I love films so it makes sense. I'll reveal my top 4 films of the year - as well as giving out a few special awards along the way. Obviously I’m only going to comment on the films I’ve seen - so here is the list:

Frozen, Saving Mr Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Anchorman 2, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, American Hustle, Jack Ryan, The Lego Movie, Robocop, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Divergent, Noah, The Amazing Spiderman 2, X Men: DOFP (x 2), Bad Neighbours, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street, Edge of Tomorrow, The Fault in our Stars , Chef, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Begin Again, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Inbetweeners 2, Lets be Cops, Sex Tape, The Giver
What We Did on our Holiday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Black Sea, Bladerunner & The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.

Best Sequels
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes completely blew me away. I really enjoyed the first one but the 2nd one was amazing and was fully deserving of all of the praise that it received (especially for the performance from Andy Serkis). It was an amazingly powerful story. Meanwhile Captain America took the Marvel movie universe and gave it a well needed shake up (something that was instantly reflected on Agents of SHIELD) in the most political and darkest Marvel film since Iron Man. The only thing missing in the Marvel cinematic universe now is a death to show the stakes of being a superhero. Comic readers however will know that following the path of the comics – the heart-breaking death of one of the main Avengers is just around the corner.

Worst Sequels
The Inbetweeners 2, Anchorman 2

I found the Inbetweeners 2 to be quite stale after watching the TV show and previous film.There were the obvious laugh out loud / cringy Inbetweeners moments, but unlike previously the dialogue wasn’t anywhere near as snappy and it missed the chuckle moments that led up to each major gag / set piece. It could have been much more – but it should probably have spent more time in the writer’s room. Anchorman 2 meanwhile just shouldn’t have been made (rather like the Twilight films).

Funniest Movie Moment of the Year
22 Jump Street

Whilst I loved the fact that 22 Jump Street mocked itself and it was pretty funny throughout (despite not being a great film), there was one scene in the film that had tears streaming down my face in laughter. It’s about halfway through the film in Ice Cube’s office as he realises that Jonah Hill’s character has been getting it on with his daughter. Absolute comedy gold – but the best thing about the scene is actually taking place in the background as you see Channing Tatum’s reaction….It’s a film worth watching for that alone. 

Worst Special Effects
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

How a film can have such a high budget with such sketchy Special Effects in places is completely beyond me (take the Legolas jumping rocks scene for instance). There was just far too much CGI and far too much green screen throughout - which is a real shame because generally I really enjoyed the film. The same series of films that showed Gollum and won plaudits for its Special Effects also created The Battle of Two Armies Sharknado quality Special Effects. Perhaps the budget had run out by the third film.

Biggest Guilty Pleasure
TMNT

I’d read the reviews before seeing the film so I wasn’t expecting great things. But perhaps that is why I enjoyed TMNT so much. Don’t get me wrong – it certainly wasn’t a fantastic film by any stretch of the imagination, but it was funny, heart-warming and really good fun. And the alternate take on Raphael (changing from being a slight built ninja to a tank of a turtle) was really refreshing. 

Cardboard Performance
Anyone in Divergent

I’ll put this out there straight away – I enjoyed Divergent much more than I thought I would. You can’t move for Young Adult films at the moment but this concept at least was interesting (despite bearing similarities to other YA novels / films). And it’s a good job that the story is good here as the performances are dull and the actors don’t really bring any form of emotion to the roles at all (the males especially).

Epitome of Average
Black Sea

I liked the idea of a tense character driven submarine thriller and whilst Black Sea does try it's hardest, I walked out of the cinema not feeling anything for any of the characters who didn't make it through to the end. And considering there are only a small number of characters - that isn't great at all. It wasn't the worst film I've seen all year - but I won't be watching it again.

Best Death (SPOILER ALERT)
Gwen Stacey: The Amazing Spiderman 2

I didn't think they would do it. Honestly, I didn't think they would. But the moment they started with the set piece at towards the end of the film I knew it was coming - and it was done so well. The shot so you could see her falling was so well done and a really good way to show it - and then you just saw the slight bump of her head touching the floor. Heart-breaking - but I'm pleased they did it. Very few people in the Marvel Universe stay dead though (another spoiler alert) and Spiderman is in the much smaller Sony Marvel Universe - so short of another reboot they'll run out of ideas pretty soon (and Spiderman will join the wider Marvel Universe).

Unexpected Surprise
The Grand Budapest Hotel

This was a film that if I didn't have an Unlimited card I wouldn't have gone to watch. But I am so pleased I did. I didn't laugh out loud, but I chuckled all the way through. It looks beautiful and the characters are fantastic. Quirky is the word I'd use - and I can't wait to watch it again!

Cash grabber of the Year
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I can see why the studio decided to do it (release the final book in 2 parts) - and whilst it wasn't anywhere near as pointless as splitting the last Twilight film into 2, splitting the final Hunger Games book into 2 parts was nothing more than a cash grab (very little happens whatsoever) - and it has damaged the reputation of the series as a result. 

And in no order (bar first place)....the top 4
Interstellar, the Lego Movie, Chef & Guardians of the Galaxy

Storyline wise Interstellar polarised viewers - but I completely adored it. I'm really pleased they didn't go into much of the 'how part' of the Earth getting like that - but more than anything else I loved how it looked and I loved that it was like something I'd never seen before. I watched it at the IMAX and I felt like I was in space. A good film should transport you to a different place - and Interstellar did just that. 

Chef meanwhile is a film that I thought I'd like - but I wasn't sure about how much until I watched it - and the thing I loved most was that it was so happy. It was such a simple story about a man rediscovering his passion and reconnecting with his son and it was brilliant (although it made me very hungry!). Heart-warming, funny, and really heartfelt - I really connected with it and it's perhaps the least known choice in my top 4 - but It's something I'd recommend to everyone.

What to say about the Lego Movie? You'll either love it or hate it - but if you played with Lego as a child (or like me - still do as an adult), you'll appreciate the humour throughout the film and how it was written with such love for its subject. As a bonus - the voice acting is great as well and I think I'm correct in saying that it made Chris Pratt the most bankable male star in 2014. It's not for everyone - but it was better than I ever imagined it would be...and that twist....!!!

Guardians of the Galaxy is the Marvel film to watch if you don't really want to watch any others or haven't started yet and want to jump on board. It's the film that you don't really need to know any Marvel backstory for. It's the film that takes a lesser known gang of Marvel misfits and puts them together on a space ship. And it is absolutely brilliant. It's also my favourite Marvel film and my film of the year. It's funny, dramatic, perfectly cast and leaves you desperate for more. And my favourite moment of the film is a 5 minute conversation between the cast which leads up to the final battle (because it is that well written). 

But now I'll open it up to you. Do you agree with my choices? What should I have watched? What have I missed? What films are you excited about in 2015? Let me know in the comments below, or by getting in touch via email, twitter or Facebook.

I'll sign off for this year by leaving you with a few things. Firstly, my friend Phil is a MUCH better movie critic than I am - so if you really want to know what to watch - check this out. Secondly, I've been really challenged this week by the message behind this post from my friend Si - so I'd really you to be challenged by it as well. And finally I'd just like to say thank you. Thank you for bearing with my slightly disjointed and random postings this year. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for your feedback. And thank you for being there for me. I may not have loads of money. I may not have a massive house. I may not have a great car. Yet I feel rich because of my friends and family. Having you as part of my life and letting me be part of yours is a blessing and honour.

Have fun. Keep safe. God Bless.

I'll leave you with this (as it made me laugh). Happy New Year.






Friday, 19 December 2014

What would you do with your last £50?


As I start to write this post, I'm on a catamaran floating around Tenerife watching whales swim alongside the boat (glamorous I know). But as I sit here writing, there's a question tapping at the back of my head that I can't seem to shake (much to Cass's annoyance as we paid a fair amount for the trip). 


It's not whether England will beat Scotland tonight (my allegiances were split firmly between the two), it's not whether Arsenal will beat United (they didn't) or whether Wycombe will beat Cheltenham (they smashed them). No, as I sit here I'm not even hung up on the idea of "have I made enough of my life by my 31st birthday?" (A somewhat inevitable question for another post). No - the question that I can't shake is how I would spend my last £50.

The thought process for getting to this question was actually quite simple. No, I'm not dying (good news) and I'm also not on my last £50 (which is also good news). But as I sit here on this trip (which incidentally cost around £50 each) watching whales dive in and out of the ocean (some so close that you can feel the spray as the crash back into the water) it has dawned on me that whale watching is on a lot of people's bucket lists (something that so many people want to do / experience before they die).

I've never put much thought into a bucket list before. I'd quite like to go into space - but that seems a bit extreme and very unlikely to be affordable in my lifetime. I'd love to para-glide and I'd love to skydive - but I don't feel like I have to do them (if that makes sense). And if I had one, whale watching (whilst being amazing) would also not have made my bucket list in the first place (yet I'm grateful that I've been able to do it).

The same theory for me applies to travelling. There are places that I'd really like to go to (to see the Northern Lights for instance) - but I've been lucky enough to already go to some amazing places and see some fantastic things - so I don't think I'd really regret not travelling more. There is something that I'd like more than anything else in the world (I'll let you figure it out) but as it isn't something that I could buy or pay for, it isn't (or couldn't be) my right to have (and that's something else that I've been pondering recently) so in terms of a bucket list - I'm out.
But that still doesn't cover my £50 question. How would I spend it? What would I do with it?  

For this to work there obviously have to be some form of rules - so we will keep it simple and say that the money has to be spent by you. You can buy something for someone else, but you can't just donate your money. You also can't invest it or gamble it to try and prolong your time or borrow any extra money on top of your £50. If you choose to have other people alongside you for your final endeavour (whatever it may be), your £50 does not need to cover them as well. They can finance themselves. The £50 is yours (and travel to wherever you choose to be is on top of your £50 - so don't worry about that).

So what are you thinking? What will you do with your last £50?

Will you do something big that you have always wanted to do (and perhaps have been too scared)? Will you be selfless in your final act and buy someone something they really need? Will you live out your days playing through the video game you have been waiting for? Will you spend your £50 watching movies you've always wanted to watch? Will you go and see the band that you have always wanted to see live? Would you have a beautiful steak topped with a blue cheese sauce? The list could go on - and I'm sure that everyone has a different response. There are no right or wrong answers.

But how would I spend my last £50? Well even after thinking about this question for the best part of a month my answer hasn't changed and if anything my feelings behind my 'why' have been strengthened by a few things that have happened along the way.
I'd love to say that I'd be selfless and buy something for someone that they need - but if I'm being completely honest with you (and if I'm not this is pointless) I wouldn't do that. I think video games are amazing - but knowing my luck I'd pick a really bad game to buy and spend my last moments playing. I've already seen all of the bands that I want to see live and as much as I LOVE steak - I can think of a better way that I could spend my money.

I think that if I thought through my life and thought of my top 10 highlights, 7 out of the 10 moments (so far) have been spent with my friends and family in some kind of gathering (my wedding is at number 1). A number have been small affairs with just a few of us whereas some of the others have been massive parties. 

So how would I spend my last £50? Very simply - in the pub with my friends and family. It's sounds like such a stupid thing (believe me I know) considering how I could spend that crisp £50 note - but I love spending time with those closest to me (especially in the pub) and I can quite honestly think of nothing that I would prefer to do or anyone that I would prefer to spend my time with. I can't imagine life on my own and in truth it's something that I find pretty scary. But I can't think of a better way to spend my final moments than with those that I love. But even thinking about that has challenged me to think about the people that I spend my life with.

How often do I say thank you for what they have done for me? How often do I say that I really appreciate them? How often do I say that I'm grateful for having them in my life and that I cherish them? The sad unfortunate truth is nowhere near enough. So if you are reading this and you fall into that category - thank you for sharing your life with me and for letting me be a part of it. It's an honour.

It's very rare that these posts have homework - but today I have a double lot for you and it's really simple (please let me know via twitter, email or facebook how you get on). One is inspired from my response and one from whatever you chose. So here we go:
1. Take the time to tell someone how much you appreciate having them in your life.
2. Have you been challenged in any way by how you would choose to spend your £50? How would you spend it?

So, this is the final post before Christmas, but following on from a few posts that could have been a bit merrier - I'll be coming back with my films, games and albums highlights of the year (as well as highlighting some of the shockers). I might also touch on some of my resolutions and how we are looking going into 2015.....

Have fun. Stay safe.

I'll leave you all with this:


God Bless