Posts Tagged ‘ Review ’

Pro 12 – No Change At The Top

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limerickleader.ie

Two weeks to go and one would think we are already looking at the final top 4 order in the 2015 Guinness Pro 12. Aside from Munster the table toppers showed nearly all their worth over the weekend too and the knock outs are shaping up to be some absolutely mouth watering games.

On Friday night Leinster and Ulster locked horns in an absolutely crucial fixture for the Blues. Out of Europe, sitting outside the top 4 and in direct competition with Ospreys for that coveted spot, kicking off their three game run with a win was more than necessary. It looked like they were more than aware of that fact too as they raced into a 10 nil lead in the first ten minutes. Coming away from their agonisingly close finish against Toulon last week, many expected Leinster to carry over some authority from France but as it happened it turned into business as usual in the worst way possible. Continue reading

Six Nations 2015 – Heaslip Returns For Welsh Showdown

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Freak. There’s no other word to describe Jamie Heaslip in relation to his healing abilities. We won’t complain, but many others would be out of their desk job for six months but here he is, the sole change from the team that beat England two weeks ago, ready to take the field in the Cardiff cauldron. Schmidt has made only enforced changes this Six Nations when you might think variety and choice are crucial in winning a championship – conservatism or wisdom? Continue reading

Six Nations 2015 – Can Wales Tackle The French?

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’Here

Before Ireland’s crucial game this Sunday we will see Scotland play host to Italy and France the same to Wales. All four sides are finding themselves in turmoil of sorts with underperforming the operative word. Can Scotland show the results of their new coaching team with a result worthy of the quality and can Wales put themselves back in contention against the strongest French side for some time?
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The Goggle Box – Did Better Call Saul Deliver?

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Full spoilers for Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead below

Some said it was a bad move, I could never decide fully which side of the fence I sat on to be honest, but Vince Gilligan and AMC decided they would press ahead with a Breaking Bad spin off featuring the superb series’ loveable(?) sleazeball Saul Goodman as the lead. Better Call Saul takes place 6 years before the events of Breaking Bad and chronicles Saul’s rise from back when he was just lowly public defence attorney Jimmy McGill to the – ahem – lofty heights of law when he becomes Saul Goodman. Oh, and it’s really really good.

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Artist In Focus – Tom Waits

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Reblogged from I’m Talkin’ Here

Alongside Live In ConcertI’m Talkin’ Here is going to play host to some musings on my favourite artists. No, it won’t be weekly (I’m only human) but I’ll try my best for some regularity. First up is the man who has presented the most divided opinions amongst my peers, that man is of course Tom Waits. Continue reading

Franz Ferdinand Throw Down Some Indie Rock At The Olympia

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The first time Scot rockers Franz Ferdinand came upon my radar was back at Oxegen in 2004. It was back at a time where dance music took a backseat at festivals and the 4/5 piece rock outfit reigned supreme, with these guys leading the way along with the likes of Razorlight and The Killers. Nowadays, Franz Ferdinand and most others are relegated to playing for dedicated pockets of fans in venues like the Olympia, or unappreciated slots such as Electric Picnic last year, and going on last night’s performance they’re all the better for the former. Continue reading

Deadpool Review (Rated 18+)

Not your conventional superhero…

Through the years, licensed games have become something of a tainted chalice in the video game industry. Be they movie tie ins, comic book adaptations etc they have always had that one common trait; they’ve been pure and utter garbage. There has been some diamonds in the rough for sure, but until Batman Arkham Asylum in 2009, things looked like they would never change. Arkham City followed two years later and a half decent Wolverine game appeared in between and for the most part it looks like licensed titles are getting a bit more care and attention (see the last two Transformers titles, the non-movie tie in Spiderman games and more). The latest licensed game to come along then is the curious beast that is Deadpool and to be honest, it’s a tough one to call. Continue reading

Irish Rugby : A Year In Review

Leinster_LeoCullen_ChrisWhiAs they always tend to be, this calendar year of rugby for Irish teams was a seriously mixed bag of highs and lows. The year kick started with some massive turnouts in the Heineken from all provinces, with six wins from eight over rounds five and six, including two massive wins from Ulster over Leicester and Munster over Northampton, as well as the magic night in the Sportsground where lowly Connacht proved they could compete with an attritional elimination of Harlequins. The most under performing of the provinces over the two weeks was arguably Leinster, but they had massive days ahead of them. The Rabo also provided some excitement with Ulster fighting for a place in the top 4 and all the rest trying to catch Leinster and their massive margin. Once again it was only Ospreys who could fell the Blue giants, and they would of course go on to do it again. Munster had to live with a shock loss to Aironi away from home and for the remainder of the normal league looked a little hit and miss, winning in Cork against Glasgow by 14 points less than they should have and drawing against Scarlets. They had qualification in the bag for both knock outs however, job done. Ulster kept business as usual, except for their April losses against all three provinces. Each one deserved to the victor however, especially Connacht. Connacht finished last season’s league in the same vein as they have begun their European campaign this season. In the final weeks of the Rabo they notched up wins over Ulster and Aironi, a narrow loss to Munster as well as a draw against Glasgow. Their finest hour of the domestic league came with their emphatic win over Dragons though, the game that this current season may be measured against.

Then of course we had the resumption of the Heineken and the fixtures for Irish fans were mouthwatering, particularly due to meeting of Munster and Ulster in Limerick. Few gave it to the men in white, fielding mostly the same fifteen that had turned out for their biggest victories of the season, Munster surely had to have this one due to squad depth over anything else. But nobody could have predicted the wunderkind that is Craig Gilroy doing what he did. His try stands as one of the finest individual efforts ever seen in this competition, made all the more amazing by the fact that there is at least three occasions upon watching replays where one would say he should have passed the ball. But no, not Gilroy. He sees the line, the rest does itself. His miracle try proved decisive in a hard fought victory for the Ulstermen, and credit to Munster who fought valiantly having won their pool unbeaten and exorcised the demons of the season before. But it was Ulster’s day, one that sent them all the way to a final they had craved for 13 years. Leinster had an easier ride it has to be said, thumping Cardiff in the Aviva in a game that was over by half time and featured the now famous “psychic” pass from Sexton to Fitzgerald that had Will Greenwood drooling in the sky studio. Their battle was yet to come though. The Heineken Cup semi finals were surely one of the biggest Irish highlights of the Irish rugby year. Ulster had an arguably easier draw welcoming Edinburgh to the Aviva, a team that realistically had made it as far as they did with a serious rub of the green. As it turned out Ulster were possibly not as clinical as they could have been, though the result was never much in doubt thanks to a try from Wannenburg and the boot of Pienaar, though a late score from Edinburgh set up a final few minutes of expert defence from Ulster.

The real tension was across the seas though, Le Crunch indeed. The Leinster Clermont rivalry has become a joy to behold over the last few years, both teams seeming to endlessly run into each other in the Heineken and until this season Leinster always had a tendency to come away victorious. Their last victory over the French giants was this fixture, moved to Bordeaux and thus keeping Clermont unbeaten for now 51 ganes in Stade Marcel Michelin. Leinster arrived in the finest form they have ever been in to date, Clermont had just come off hammering Saracens away from home in the Quarter Final. Clermont stayed true to their class and held a deserved 12-6 lead after a first half where Leinster did look slightly sluggish. Then came an exhilarating ten minutes as the second half resumed with Rob Kearney doing what he does best, slicing defenders in two to offload for Healy to score a most important try. Kearney followed up his incredible display with a monster drop goal from the half way line and with a Sexton penalty, Leinster led 19-15. What followed was a shut up shop from the visitors and Clermont couldn’t seem to find a way forward. Then, that moment. Fofana stretched an arm over, Wayne Barnes went upstairs. For all the world it looked like the TMO could give it, inconclusive as it seemed. Save for that split second where it was clear enough anyway, that the ball had hit ground before receiving downward pressure. Scrum Leinster. Surely it was over? Not in a game like this as Clermont found themselves with a penalty. What followed was a flurry of tap and go as the French sought the try they wanted so badly, Barnes incurred the wrath of the crowd with what seemed like endless advantage, Leinster defended for their lives whilst Leo Cullen received a merciless attack at the posts, one which went on for an age and wasn’t noted by a citing commissioner. All until Sean O’Brien put rhe doubters at bay with a magnificent poach that led to Clermont holding on, penalty Leinster, on to Twickenham.

To be fair the final was slightly anti climatic after the displays in the knock outs. That isn’t to take away from either side, but for Irish fans it wasn’t exactly ideal to have two Irish sides in the game. Win for Leinster and they secure the glorious two in a row at the expense of Ulster. Win for Ulster and they finally follow up on the glorious team of 1999 that brought the cup to Ireland for the first time, but again at the expense of Leinster. As it played out it was Leinster who wanted it more, leaving the scoreboard looking grossly against Ulster and their talent, though the truth is they were in the game for much longer. By the final whistle it had come down to championship calibre and Leinster just had more. Paddy Jackson versus Jonathan Sexton was the pitch of the day and unfortunately for him, Jackson just didn’t have one of his better days. Thankfully he has composed himself in the Heineken much better and once more looks like the promising prospect he is, but on the day Sexton and Leinster won out. It was however still a great day for Irish rugby as a whole, with ample funds headed back into the system as a result of both teams progress, as well as Connacht once again securing qualification.

The summer was a dark one for Irish fans, as we woke up with the sun still struggling to shine to watch three tests against the mighty All Blacks. Kidney turned heads with selections such as Zebo but unfortunately heads quickly turned away as Ireland were thumped 42 – 10 in a game where after the first two tries against them, they very much did seem to just give up. Kidney for once could not take all of the blame, though his selection still fielded some of it. Then came that spectacular second test. It was New Zealand’s return to Christchurch, so horrifically ravaged by an earthquake and now reopening for its mightiest sons. Ireland didn’t stand a chance if you asked anyone. Yet somehow, after forty minutes, Ireland led 10-9, New Zealand only managing to capitalise on Irish infringements whereas the visitors had a wonderfully taken try under their belt. Further kicks from Sexton and Carter saw the game at 19 apiece with precious little time on the clock. Then came the scrum, the scrum that somehow has gone unmentioned since this test, but the scrum that arguably cost Ireland the game. With the Kiwis down to 14,Ireland won a scrum at the opposition 22. If nothing else it would have meant game on for a drop goal from Sexton. The scrum engaged, and wheeled. Penalty New Zealand. In defense of himself later on Nigel Owens argued that the scrum had wheeled due to a sideways movement from the Irish pack, an illegal wheel essentially. Whether or not this was actually the case, upon viewing again and again it is in no way blindingly obvious. What is obvious is that Ireland’s scrum was clearly more dominant all game and nine times out of ten decisions like this favour the dominant pack. Yes, it stinks a little of the Irish fan crying for a gimme from the ref, so what? No big time grand stand win has ever come without at least one. As it played out however New Zealand escaped and with a second drop goal attempt from Carter secured the win. A week later Ireland would go on to an absolute hammering at 60 nil and the summer came to a close on a whimper, with dark days looming for Ireland. And so we arrive in more present surroundings, after a shaky early season Leinster are hanging on for dear life in Europe but still stand a mathematical chance of qualifying. So too Munster who have had similar on/off form. Ulster have lost only one game since the season began and are odds on favourites of the Celtic and English teams to win the tournament whilst Connacht have already doubled their rewards of last season with wins over Biarritz and Zebre. In the national camp we had an underwhelming performance against South Africa, a barnstorming but ludicrously uncapped game against Fiji and then something that looked somewhat like the complete package against Argentina where Ireland seemed to find some form of a spark and crucially stayed in the top 8 of the world rankings. All in all it has been a rough and tumble year for Irish rugby, reaching extreme highs and even more extreme lows. One thing is for sure though, nothing is done and dusted with yet and we will be there every step of the way to cover it for you.

The Story So Far: The Walking Dead

Next up on our TV recap is AMC’s The Walking Dead, a series that on paper had no right to become as popular as it has, but has now consecutively broken all viewer ratings records two years in a row. Let’s see what makes it so good.

SOME SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD BELOW

In 2005 Robert Kirkman unleashed his seminal comic book series The Walking Dead on the world and it was instantly lauded with praise for its attempts to bring originality to the genre as well as the string focus put on the characters by the writer, usually preferring to give us scenarios of human survival rather than destruction. When Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) optioned it for a television series then there was hesitancy from fans as to whether or not he could pull it off, especially given the extremely envelope pushing nature of the series. Low and behold here we are now with a third season round the corner and, so far, no punches pulled.

We begin the series following police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who has been in a coma for the duration of the zombie outbreak after having been shot on the job. Straight away the viewer connects on a strong level as we know just as much (or little) as Rick does. It doesn’t take long for him to realise something horribly catastrophic has happened and thus sets out on his primary quest, to find some sort of safety and to hopefully find his wife and child in the process. Much like the comics, season 1 follows the trend of focus on family matters, mankind’s destructive tendencies and the logistics of survival and only sporadically intersperses these moments with gore filled scenes of undead carnage. This approach alienated some casual viewers however as many tuned in for just such moments, wanting to sherk character development in lieu of the more squeamish scenes. By the end of this pilot series it was a case of “job done, now do more”. It wasn’t a perfect start, but it assured the majority that this show could work.

Season 2 hit screens after a near year long wait and in the time that had passed, many things had changed. Behind the scenes of the show, Executive Producer and Showrunner Darabont was at odds with AMC, his grand vision for the show not sitting hand in hand with the networks grand vision of what cheques they wanted to write. It has now transpired that Darabont even had a more adventurous premiere episode for the season that would have flashed back to the outbreak and show any and all amounts of carnage, but he was not able to get the budget for it. Alas it would transpire that Darabont left the show before the first half of the season had aired, and many wondered what that would mean for the shows future. The first half of season 2 had brought about many elements from the comic that fans had screamed for, but had also taken a somewhat slow approach too, something that clearly fit into Darabont’s grand vision. Without him, could the show pick up again? As it happened, yes, yes it could.

Producer Glen Mazarra took over as Showrunner for the second portion of the season, and fast paced is the name of his game. The second portion of season 2 is so far, some of the best television ever seen. In The Walking Dead’s own unique style, characters are picked off mercilessly (seriously, if this continues to adhere to the formula of the comics, don’t get too attached to anyone!). This is the biggest selling point of the show, literally nobody is safe. The final two episodes of the season brought about a hectic finale full of loss and destruction, culminating with an ominous shot of a famous location from the books, the prison. In the original story, this is the setting for some of the series most intense and game changing moments. Hopefully RTE will pick up the new season soon enough so Irish viewers can join in but for now you would do yourself a disservice not to watch this fantastic two seasons of television.

The Walking Dead Season 1 + 2 are available now from all good retailers and Season 3 will hopefully kick off soon on terrestrial TV

Taken 2

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have any money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

We first met man-of-his-word Bryan Mills (played by our own Liam Neeson) back in 2008 when kidnap drama Taken surpassed all expectation – Neeson himself said he thought the film would go “straight to video” – and became the unexpected hit of the year and now, four years later, the retired CIA officer is back and at his knife wielding, gun toting, bullet proof vest wearing best. Well what do you expect when a movie made for a mere $25 million goes on to rake in over $225 million? A sequel was inevitable folks. If the above quote set the tone for and told us all we needed to know about the first film it actually does the same again, well, sort of. Only this time the tables have turned and it’s the baddies who are throwing around the threats. Taken 2 is all about revenge you see. In the original Mills not only killed but tortured his daughter Kim’s (played by Lost alum, Maggie Grace) captors and now the fathers and brothers of the dead are back and demanding retribution.

This time around the action has shifted from Paris to Istanbul where having just completed a security job for one very rich Sheikh retired CIA officer Mills has invited his daughter and now not-so-estranged wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) to join him for a mini vacation he hopes will make for some good old fashioned family bonding. Whereas it was Kim who was “taken” in the original movie it is now Lenore and Bryan’s turn to be abducted. Certainly, the film opens quite promisingly showing Mills instructing his now miraculously more capable daughter (who can forget just how hapless the poor girl was in the original?) Kim on how to locate him and Lenore using only a map, a shoelace oh and a bunch of grenades – Funny he won’t allow her to indulge in any heavy petting but scaling rooftops and throwing grenades is a-ok with the overprotective father. Sadly from here on the movie takes a turn for the worse. Much much worse.

What we the audience loved about Taken was its ruthlessness. Here we got to follow around a man on a mission who tore around Europe destroying anyone and anything that dared get in his way. And, lets be honest here, the vicious nature of the film gave us a thrill, a thrill which has very unfortunately been “taken” (pun intended) from the sequel. In order to maximise Taken 2’s audience producers opted for a 12A rating in place of the uncut originals 18 which was undoubtedly a smart money making move especially when you consider just how many suckers will spring for the uncut DVD version you just know they’re going to release. As a result, however, moviegoers had to sit through a remarkably watered down and dull action movie jam packed with too fast action sequences and incredibly shaky camera work both of which it seems were partially intended to tone down the violence and make the film suitable for twelve year olds but which ultimately made for surprisingly confusing and humdrum fights and car chases. In fact it was so hard for audience members to work out just what was going on that instead of understanding that one of the very bland baddies had just been impaled on a steel rod many were left with the impression that he had died after suffering a single blow to the face. And no, I’m not exaggerating the editing actually was that confusing!

Ever the professional, a now 61 year old Liam Neeson clearly gave the role just as much as he did Oskar Schindler. As such he remains as convincing as ever as the soft spoken but tough as nails ass kicking father willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, however, no matter how sorry I am to say it even his potential is wasted here. It’s just so disappointing to see a movie like Taken 2 that has so much promise sell out and ultimately sacrifice everything viewers ever loved about the original simply to make more money. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh here. I know you guys, like me, are curious and I guess if you’re taking a trip to the cinema with the sole intention of indulging in two hours worth of mindless escapism while you crunch popcorn and munch gummy bears Taken 2 really isn’t that bad but for the diehards amongst you I say save your pennies and opt to see this one on Bargain Wednesday.

Warning; The door has been left wide open for Taken 3. Yes, really! Irresponsible really considering Neeson may just have to opt for steroids and a thirty year old Maggie Grace will be forced to pump her face full of botox in order to continue playing his virginal daughter who is just dying to get her drivers license!