Our mission – to take a 2 year 9 month old to his first ever film at the cinema. Stage 1 was to ensure we left on time. We failed, due to “the floors needing cleaned”.

Women. *tut*

After a hasty reschedule, we changed cinema and ended up at the Showcase in Paisley to see Megamind with Austin (2 years 9 months), Ellissa (9 years 9 months) and Louise (9 years 6 months). Oh, and two old fogies.


“Good is the path of honour, friends and family. Evil… well, it’s just cooler.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Two aliens arrive on earth as babies. One goes on to be a superhero, the other has less luck and becomes his arch enemy. This… is their story.

The first films that come to mind when looking at the plot of Megamind are The Incredibles and Despicable Me. This new offering, though, is different enough from the two of them to be worth seeing in its own right.

Lookswise, it’s very much along the lines we’re used to from DreamWorks. All curvy and shiny and very cartoony. Nothing wrong with this, but it would be nice if they tried something new the way Pixar do with each film.

The story is good, though, and the trailer doesn’t give much away. This is something that virtually every film studio could learn from. Only a couple of early scenes are covered, so the rest of the plot and jokes are fresh and enjoyable when you see them in the full feature.

It’s fun. It’s got quite a few nods to established superhero history as well – good luck spotting them! There’s not a huge amount of background stuff compared to its peers, but the dialogue and voice acting is top notch with comic timing as good as it gets.

Gill and I both agreed that it was better than we expected. The two girls were enraptured for the whole length.

And Austin? He got a little restless about half way through and chucked two Toy Story dolls and a shoe into the next row in front (thankfully empty). However, he spent most of the time watching the film, although a fair amount of that was stood up with his head pushed between the chairs in front.

I’m taking that as a “recommended”.

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There wasn’t a huge choice of far at the cinema – I don’t think there are too many new releases this time of year. We basically had a toss-up between Chatroom and The Way Back. Forget the third Fockers film (the first two were painful enough) and Jack Black stopped being funny after… erm… actually, he’s never been that funny. So that ruled out Gulliver’s Travels, even if the incessant irritation of those sodding Orange commercials hadn’t blacklisted it anyway.

We opted for the one that started an hour earlier.


Plot-in-a-nutshell: a group of teens meet in a chatroom online, one isn’t exactly what he seems, then online and offline lives collide. With hilarious consequences if you’re one of the f*ckwits sat near us who thought this was a new addition to the Final Destination franchise.

Chatroom is directed by Hideo Nakata who directed the original Ringu and its sequel (as well as the western version of The Ring 2). As such, he has a bit of a pedigree as a psychological horror director so something good should be expected of Chatroom. Sadly, it’s lacking.

The visualisation is excellent, though I gather not unique, in that the cyber world is portrayed as a real one. Chat rooms are doors in a dodgy looking flat, labelled with the group’s name. Password security is a door buzzer, and so forth. Even the token paedo who makes his way into one of the rooms is well “presented” in this format.

However, the story just isn’t up to much. It’s very apparent what will happen from far too early on in the film. The moment where it could all change for the better, but doesn’t is over far too quickly. The ending is a bit weak and too sudden.

There are some disturbing moments (mildly) as well as one or two genuinely funny ones (such as the sex room visits), but overall it’s a 30-minute TV show dragged out to ninety minutes and it feels it.

Gill reckons it would be better suited to a stage play and I can see where she’s coming from. The imagery used and the techniques to present it would work very well. It’s also a nice small cast so would make a decent theatre event.

For the silver screen, though, it’s just not got enough depth.

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Ginger (ex-Wildhearts), Glasgow Garage

Ginger (ex-Wildhearts)
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[more photos in this Flick set]

“So, stop talking about Scottish people and just play some fucking music, yeah?”

This one took me back a few years. I wasn’t 100% sure about going as it was on a school night, and the weather was closing in. However, my lovely other half bought me a ticket for my birthday so I just had to drive through for it.

Oh, I am so glad I did.

Ginger is a legend. He fronted The Wildhearts for years, a band which broke up more often than a packet of cheap digestive biscuits. In fact, the last time I saw them was at Newcastle University a lot of years ago. He stormed off stage somewhere around halfway through the gig after arguing with the other guitarist.

He couldn’t have been any more different tonight. I honestly don’t think he stopped smiling the entire evening. Ginger’s first appearance was to guest guitar on Baby Chaos’ last song – a band themselves who only got back together to play support for the man himself.

After a short break, he took to the stage with his own band and launched into a set consisting predominantly of Wildhearts classics – of which there are many. The crowd were bouncing within two songs, and I have to confess I was pleasantly surprised by the turn-out. I’d honestly thought that the world would have forgotten about The Wildhearts, but it seems I was thankfully mistaken!

My Twitter feed became a slew of song titles, I was so excited. I’m glad to see I made so many people somewhat jealous! “I Wanna Go Where The People Go“, “If Love is Like a Love Bank”, “Vanilla Radio“… and after a short break the first encore song, “Geordie In Wonderland“. Oh fucking wow. As I said, the last time I saw Ginger live was in Newcastle itself. This performance was every bit as good. As the song kicked off, two girls behind me were talking to each other. “That guy in front’s going to love this one”. The fact I was wearing a Newcastle United shirt (which I began waving over my head!) may have given this away.

To break up the songs, Ginger had a great line in patter. Hell, I think he could have stood there and just shot the shit with the audience for ninety minutes and sent everyone home grinning. Quote of the night was probably the short exchange with someone in the middle of the crowd.

Ginger: All I heard was “something something something cunt.”

Voice: Just get the fuck on with it!!!

Ginger: Aye, reet. I heard that.

A great guy, with great rapport and a huge collection of material to wade through. So glad I went and for any old Wildhearts fans who missed it, do keep an eye out for further tours. I’m sure he’ll be back.

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Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Dragged against my will to see a kids’ film (with two nine year old girls), the only minor victory in my favour was managing to schedule a 2D viewing…

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“This place just gets weirder and weirder!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: precocious children return to mystical land where they’re apparently royalty, kick some monster butt and meet Jesus a lion.

It’s not usual for me to jump into a trilogy without seeing the first two, but I was effectively bullied by two little girls. And you don’t argue with women no matter how small they are. I’m familiar with the first tale in the series (of which there are seven books by C.S.Lewis – whether they’ll all make it to the screen is to be seen), but only from TV adaptations many years ago.

It’s still an easy story to get into if you have the very basic background – some children find a magical land via a wardrobe in part one, something else happens in part two and in part three they go back again via a painting on a wall. They also drag a very annoying relative with them. The scene is quickly set at this point, and I wasn’t left wondering too many things about the back-story as the plot kicked off.

The characters are easy to get to grips with, the story starts well and the action sequences are fantastical and exciting. This really is a children’s film, but is perfectly enjoyable by adults. Sure, the younger cast are a little gushy and the plot fairly thin (find seven swords and pop them on a table) but the settings are fantastic. It’s a real work of imagination and today’s special effects really do it justice.

There genuinely isn’t a dull moment. When the plot isn’t moving forward, there are some nice sequences about the characters. The annoying relative, of course, proves his worth and becomes a part of the team. Evil men give way to strange creatures which progress onto huge monsters as the challenges faced get bigger and more perilous.

I honestly can’t see the film being improved by 3D – very few films at all can be – so save your cash and catch this version. But do catch it, especially if you’ve seen the first two. I enjoyed it far more than I expected despite spending half the film on the lookout for the well known Christian allegory. Which, incidentally, is not very hard to spot towards the end of the movie.

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Why I love heavy metal. By Mosh, aged 37 (just)

I got dragged out to Ivory Black’s in Glasgow after the Taste of Chaos tour on Saturday night. I gather it’s cheaper than the Classic Grand and full of less kiddies than the Cathouse. It was also flipping near empty! A shame as the music was excellent.

The point of this post, though. As I sat, helping drink the bar dry of tequila (why? I hate the stuff) there were two TVs on the wall in front of me. One was showing Penelope SpheerisThe Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. The other had last year’s Sonisphere “Big 4” video recorded in Sophia, Bulgaria.

The girls in our group seemed focussed on what Poison looked like in 1988. I was wishing the sound was up so I could hear Anthrax’ set.

However, as the older film approached its end, the final band featured playing live was Megadeth – featuring a very baby-faced and sneary Dave Mustaine. The band were on a small stage with no security. Fans were clambering up and launching themselves off with wild abandon – I can’t remember the last time I saw a stagediver at a gig. Seriously.

At the exact same moment on the other screen, Megadeth were finishing their set (in the lashing rain) in an arena or football ground in Bulgaria. A huge pit in front of them keeping them maybe 10m from the nearest fan. A huge sound setup. A crowd of maybe 50,000 or more.

It was just one of those coincidental moments, and it made me wonder… back in that first video did Mustaine have even the slightest inkling he’d be playing such a different environment around twenty years later? And who else would have believed that such a niche band would go on to such things.

Not just them, obviously. Metallica were also featured in both films. It just so happened that both Megadeths finished their songs/sets at the same time in front of me.

I can’t recall who, but apparently some tosspot on Radio 1 recently said that rock and metal is dead. Again. People like that obviously have no clue what they’re talking about and live in an little world of their own. All it takes is one glance at the gig listings in a magazine, or a check online to find the countless tours and festivals taking place.

The Download festival has arisen from the ashes of the old Donington Monsters of Rock. It now runs for four days. Sonisphere has appeared from nowhere and is adding new countries to its touring festival each year. Bloodstock. Hard Rock Hell. Damnation. High Voltage. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – and that’s only the UK.

Bands that didn’t even hit the heights of the likes of Metallica are still touring. Some are making comebacks, some never went away. In the last few weeks I’ve seen Annihilator and Exodus, to name but two.

Despite a continued lack of radio support (come on, Radio 1 – one show a week… at midnight?) heavy metal has continued to live and breathe for decades. It’s constantly being written off, but it has the most dedicated fans of any genre of music.

The internet has definitely helped – as it has with other types of music – allowing new bands a cheap outlet for their demos. This has without a doubt made a huge difference, especially around the late 90’s when thing were a little sparce in the metal field.

But now we have bands like Poison selling out arenas in the US. Lawnmower Deth, at the other end of the scale, are playing a couple of gigs a year after 15 years or so in retirement. Judas Priest are still going despite the band being old enough to have grandfathered a huge proportion of their fans.

You can have your own opinions about the music, but there’s no denying it. Heavy metal is here to stay.

Just deal with it.

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