Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt
There seems to be a recurrent theme in 2013 of 90’s bands coming back with brand new records - last month we looked at the return of Nine Inch Nails, and earlier this year we saw brit-pop icons Suede return with a new record.
Now, much to the delight of eager fans everywhere, one of the biggest names in alternative music returns, as Pearl Jam are back and on Lightning Bolt, they’re trying to show they can still progress as a band.
True to the alternative scene, Pearl Jam were never keen to jump into the limelight and soak up the fame, preferring instead to keep a low profile and let their music speak for itself.
Lightning Bolt tries to do that, although there is definitely a lot more experimentation, which is always good for a band that hasn’t really being going anywhere for over two decades but it’s not enough to really dazzle the listener.
Although it means well, Lightning Bolt just doesn’t feel like Pearl Jam.
Lightning Bolt is out now on CD and digital download.
Katy Perry - Prism
It’s remarkable to think of how long Katy Perry has been a prominent figure in mainstream music. She released her first album at the age of 23, and gained unbelievable success with tracks such as ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and ‘Hot and Cold’.
5 years since that release, she returns with her newest studio album, the female-empowering Prism.
Much of the album is devoted to songs about ex Brand and as a result there’s a noticeable shift from her usual playful and vibrant musical style she is better known for. Consequently some fans might be disappointed although Perry’s new direction here does offer up some rewarding moments.
On the whole it is good to see that she is trying to add more depth on this new record and the air of vulnerability that permeates many of these tracks are empowering, although never quite outstanding.
Prism is out now on CD and digital download.
Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson plays a successful businessman whose estranged son, Jason is arrested for drug trafficking when a friend couriers him illicit drugs without his knowledge. When Jason turns down an offer from a politically ambitious U.S. Attorney (Susan Sarandon) to reduce his sentence by manufacturing evidence against someone else, John begs the authorities to allow him to go undercover instead.
A dramatic retelling of true events, this high-octane thrill ride into the underground world of drugs, guns and brutality has many of the themes we’ve come to associate with Dwayne Johnson movies, although it does boast a more substantial plot than some of his previous films and helps redefine the actor’s action star status.
With a good supporting cast and several standout scenes there is enough here to make Snitch a worthwhile viewing.
Snitch is out now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.
World War Z (15)
The sudden outbreak of a plague which turns it’s victims into zombies, ravages the Earth and after narrowly escaping together with his family, ex-UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) must travel to Asia to try and find a cure.
It was always going to be a daunting task bringing Max Brooks’ epic zombie book to life - director Mark Forster certainly seems to be trying to show the enormous scope of the novel in his adaptation - and a lot of it is really well done.
The zombies themselves are ghastly and scarily realistic, adopting the look of a virus in the way they move but overall, horror fans may be slightly disappointed. The film misses out some of the greatest moments of Brooks’ book, such as a segment where zombies take down a submarine and instead focuses on Brad Pitt having to single-handedly save the world!
The film also has a very noticeable lack of gore, which for a zombie movie, is almost unforgivable. That isn’t to say there aren’t violent parts but in a movie where the main creature of horror makes a habit of biting and eating human flesh, the absence of blood leaves you feeling a little short-changed!
With an ending that seems like a little bit of an anti-climax, you may feel that World War Z hasn’t properly finished and there’s certainly room for a sequel.
Ultimately what saves it are several key set pieces that contribute to the film being a great thrill-ride although it might not be what everyone was hoping for!
World War Z is available now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.
This Is The End (15)
Jay Baruchel comes to LA to visit Seth Rogen and against his will gets dragged along to party at James Franco’s house. It reminds him of how much he hates the Hollywood lifestyle but then the apocalypse begins and the actors must fight to survive.
It’s always tricky to get these self-parody movies to work well - more often than not when celebrities play themselves it does nothing more than distance them further from the audience.
However, This Is The End manages to buck so many trends with its refreshing approach whilst remaining consistently funny. Michael Cera steals many of the scenes he is in whilst James Franco does a great turn as the obnoxious party host.
It may not be the best comedy of the year, but This Is The End is a great new comedy concept and it’s impressive cast list serves to illustrate how sometimes Hollywood can get it right.
The Is The End is out now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Asylum was a truly defining game - it took superhero games and injected them with some testosterone and raised the bar to previously unseen levels. There was so much to love about it, it’s hard to really grasp in one session.
So it was always going to be a daunting task for Warner Brothers Montreal to take Rocksteady’s incredible Arkham series and try to do their own spin on it. But the results are actually rather enjoyable.
One of the highlights of the series is the combat, and Origins still boasts this fantastic feature, with the potential for combos being exponential!
But it is still hard to shake the fact that this is not Rocksteady’s game, and whilst Origins does try to elaborate Arkham City (albeit very well), it just doesn’t quite feel up to scratch compared to it’s predecessor.
Case in point, boss fights start of interestingly enough, but as they progress you begin to feel as if button mashing is the only real way to go.
It would be criminal to suggest that Origins is a poor addition to the much-loved Arkham franchise but it has lost something in translation from one software house to another and you have to hope these teething problems will be resolved before any sequels follow.
Batman: Arkham Origins is out now on PC, PS3 and Xbox.
Paden R Vaughan
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