Posted in Film

Split (2017) Review.

M. Night Shyamalan may have gone back to basics with this psychological horror-thriller, but he is back to his best as a result. 

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James McAvoy in Split. (Image Credit: UNIVERSAL PICTURES/IMDB via. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4972582/mediaviewer/rm2471049728)

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Sometimes people wish they could be somebody different: a scientist, a doctor, a sportsman, a gardener or a plumber.

But what if all of those people are you stuck in one body?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), is a mental health condition which affects people with multiple personalities.

With it’s complexity, DID comes with a number of legal issues. Court cases have become far more complicated because of it. Can you convict someone of a crime who claims it was someone else?

Whilst it is still a relatively rare disease, it has been portrayed in books, television programmes and movies with a remarkable frequency- M. Night Shyamalan (Signs) examines it in fine detail in Split; which is written, produced and directed by the 46-year-old.

James McAvoy (Filth) produces one of his most stellar performances as Kevin, who has 23 different personalities within his mind, and a 24th beginning to emerge.

The 38-year-old portrays each personality very distinctly. Just through his facial mannerisms and body language you can clearly distinguish each one- a skill most actors find incredibly difficult.

From the artistic Barry, to the gentle-speaking Miss Patricia, to the creepy Dennis, and then nine-year old Hedwig, McAvoy is frighteningly good at shifting in and out of personalities throughout the first two acts.

After kidnapping three teenage girls and keeping them in his underground hideout, Dennis warns them that identity 24 aka “The Beast” is coming.

As the girls try to find a way to escape, Barry goes to see Dr. Karen Fletcher, a psychologist who is helping Kevin through his DID. It’s evident that each personality is struggling to cope with something, but as we see this one man begin to lose control, we begin to realise the bigger picture. It’s clever storytelling from Shyamalan.

There are terrific performances in this movie besides McAvoy. Following her fantastic outing in The Witch, Anya Taylor-Joy once again puts in a strong display as Casey Cooke (one of the three teenagers kidnapped) whose suffered a traumatic past. Betty Buckley (The Happening) also deserves praise as Dr. Fletcher.

However the film does have it’s flaws. This movie is driven by McAvoy. When he isn’t on-screen, the scenes begin to slow down to walking pace. The use of flashbacks also seem to have an uncertain feel about them. It’s like editor Luke Franco Ciarrocchi has just thrown in at different points of the film for the sake of it.

But they are only small issues in what is overall a very good movie. This does feel like a return to Shyamalan’s old ways of filmmaking. The tense score (by West Dylan Thordson) that plays so very subtly in the background, the lighting of all the shots (cinematography by Mike Gioulakis), the way the film starts as a slow burner but increases the intensity as it progresses towards it’s final act. It is edge-of-your-seat stuff!

Then there is, like in most early Shyamalan films, a twist that comes out of nowhere which is particularly pleasing. What works about this movie is that the director has gone back to basics and is doing what he does best. It’s up there with his best work: Unbreakable, Signs and The Village. It’s been a decade of chomping and changing his technique, which came with little success. But without doubt, Shyamalan is most definitely back to his best.

15, 117 mins

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Posted in BHAFC

Brighton and Hove Albion linked with left-backs from Liverpool, Schalke and Ingolstadt.

The Seagulls need to fill the position following Sebastian Pocognoli’s decision to return to Standard Liege. 

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Joe Gomez in action for Liverpool. (Image Credit: COLIN LANE/IRISH MIRROR via. http://www.irishmirror.ie/sport/soccer/soccer-news/joe-gomez-unfazed-prospect-making-6190341

Brighton and Hove Albion are looking to further strengthen their squad ahead of the new Premier League season, which begins in just 45 days.

Following the arrivals of midfielder Pascal Groß and goalkeeper Mat Ryan, the focus now switches to securing a left-back that’ll bolster Chris Hughton’s defence.

Gaëtan Bong is the only natural left-back currently in the squad. The Cameroonian has played well during his time on the south coast, but it’s unlikely he can play all 38 Premier League games and subsequent cup matches. It will be a gruelling campaign, and a backup is most definitely needed.

Liam Rosenior has played at left-back previously during his time at the Albion, but he is more likely to cover club captain Bruno at right-back this year. With Chris Hughton only allowed to register 25 players for the upcoming season, one would expect him to select four distinguished full-backs.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only Brighton fan who wanted Sebastian Pocognoli to stay after his loan spell last season. The Belgian brought a sense of calm and composure to the defence and will remembered for scoring a wonderful free-kick at Loftus Road against Queens Park Rangers- a goal that secured a vital three points in the Seagull’s promotion push.

Pocognoli insists Albion hadn’t offered any contract to him, and that he felt he couldn’t wait any longer for a deal to be put on the table. I therefore wish Poco all the best with Standard Liege.

Speculation has been floating around the media, with three defenders possibly being targeted by the Albion. But will they bring with them the quality that is needed to stay in the Premier League?

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez has been a name that has been whispered around since the start of the summer, with the 20-year-old looking to restart his career following a cruciate injury.

The youngster is good with both feet, and will push forward when his team are on the attack.

Gomez made just three appearances in the FA Cup last season following his long lay-off with injury, but did show early potential when he first broke into the Liverpool side two years ago.

Celtic have also been interested in acquiring his services, but according to The Mirror, the Seagulls have beaten them to his signature.  

There has been a lot more activity over in Germany, with Austrian international Markus Suttner unhappy that Ingolstadt won’t allow him to leave the club.

Brighton made an offer of around £2m for the defender which was rejected, and according to the player’s agent, the 30-year-old wants his ‘dream move to the Premier League’.

Suttner made 38 appearances for Ingolstadt last season, and made an average of three interceptions per match. His key strengths are his passing and ability to run up and down the left channel. He has also represented Austria 18 times.

The final player who hasn’t had as much attention is Schalke’s Dennis Aogo.

The German can play left back and defensive midfield, and is also out of contract at the end of the month.

Aogo is renowned in Germany for his passing ability, but his defending has raised eyebrows. The 30-year old featured predominantly for Schalke in the Europa League last season, and struggled to break into the side for their league matches.

Of the three, I think Joe Gomez would be the pick of the bunch. The Liverpool youngster has some Premier League experience and will provide the defence with the necessary pace needed to keep up with some of the quickest and trickiest wingers in the world.

Whoever comes in needs to be on it from the first minute on opening weekend, when Manchester City come to town.

 

 

 

Posted in Tennis

Queen’s 2017: Day Three

The second round begins, with Gregor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga featuring once again.

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Dimitrov was excellent on Monday against Ryan Harrison. (Image Credit: STEVEN PASTON/PA via. http://www.concordmonitor.com/Kyrgios-injured-at-Queens-but-fit-for-Wimbledon-10814601

With Andy Murray out, Queen’s will have a new champion in 2017.  Here are the reports from today’s action on centre court.

Donald Young bt. Viktor Troicki (6-3, 6-4)

Donald Young beat Serbian Viktor Troicki in straight sets as he made through to the quarter-finals of an ATP Tour event for just the third time this year.

Troicki didn’t have long to recover from his mammoth match with fellow Serbian Janko Tipsarevic yesterday, and that showed against a much fresher Young.

The world number 55 was a set up against Nick Kyrgios in the first round before the Australian retired with injury.

Young broke early, and raced to a 6-3 first set win in just under 30 minutes.

The 27-year old then broke Troicki again in the second set with a cross-court forehand, in what was a comfortable victory for the American.

Gilles Muller bt. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6-4, 6-4)

Gilles Muller’s impressive 2017 continued after he beat world number 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.

The Frenchman’s elimination means only Marin Cilic is the only one of the top five-seeded players remaining in the tournament.

Muller, who is ranked 26th in the world, has already won two ATP Tour events this year. The 34-year old made a fantastic start to the grass-court season by winning last week’s Ricoh Open in the Netherlands.

Tsonga – who made the final of Queen’s back in 2011 – struggled against the Luxembourger’s movement around the court, as he became the latest victim of what has been a extraordinary tournament in London.

Muller came up with the only break of the first set, which he then won 6-4.

The 34-year old then broke Tsonga again as he raced to a 2-0 lead in the second set.

Fifth-seeded Tsonga dropped two break points himself during the second set, and the Luxembourger took full advantage by winning it 6-4.

Grigor Dimitrov bt. Julien Benneteau (4-6, 6-3, 6-4)

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov came from a set down to beat Frenchman Julien Benneteau and keep his Queen’s title hopes alive.

The world number 12 made a slow start as temperatures reached 40 degrees on court. He lost his first service game to Benneteau, which ultimately cost him the set.

However, the Bulgarian seemed to grow into the game, and won the match in just under two hours with three consecutive aces in the final game.

World number 87 Benneteau produced a fine display despite ultimately coming up short against the sixth-seeded Dimitrov.

Tomas Berdych bt. Denis Shapovalov (7-6, 6-7, 7-5)

Tomas Berdych saw off the brave 18-year old Denis Shapovalov after a gruelling match to close proceedings on day three at Queen’s.

The match was closely fought throughout it’s two-hour duration, but the experience of seventh-seed Berdych helped him close it out with the first break of the contest in the final game.

But the performance of young Canadian Shapovalov will stand out, and he will be a name to watch out for in the years ahead.

The first two sets went to tie-breaks, with both men finding it difficult to return each other’s serve .

Berdych – a former Wimbledon finalist – remains on course to face Gregor Dimitrov in the semi-finals. Both will now have an eye on the title following the shock results of the past couple of days.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Tennis

Queen’s 2017: Day Two

Andy Murray’s quest for a sixth Queen’s title is over after shock defeat. 

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Andy Murray has won Queen’s five times in his career. (Image Credit: GETTY/METRO via. http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/17/queens-club-championships-draw-andy-murray-to-play-aljaz-bedene-6715468/

It’s been an extraordinary day at Queen’s Club.  Here’s a round up of all the matches that took place on Centre Court:

Thanasi Kokkinakis bt. Milos Raonic (7-6, 7-6)

Last year’s runner-up at both Queen’s and Wimbledon Milos Raonic was beaten in straight sets by wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.

The number three seed struggled to take control of the game, and failed to claim a single break against the Australian.

Kokkinakis, who is ranked 698th in the world, took the first set after winning the tie-break 7-5.

The second set was just as gruelling, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees on court.

Raonic dropped three set points to rub salt into the wound, with Kokkinakis winning the second set tie-break 10-8.

This defeat will be difficult for the world number six to shrug off ahead of Wimbledon, but for the 21-year old Aussie, this was a massive win after 18 weeks out through injury.

Feliciano Lopez bt. Stan Wawrinka (7-6, 7-5)

Three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka suffered a shock straight sets defeat at the hands of tour veteran Feliciano Lopez.

Once again, it proved difficult for the player returning the serve, with no breaks in the opening set.

Lopez, who came out on top 7-4 in the tiebreak, won the first set with a superb forehand across court that caught second seed Wawrinka.

The first break of the day came in the final game of the second set, with the Spaniard winning 7-5.

Wawrinka, who lost the French Open final against Rafael Nadal less than 2 weeks ago, has now lost in the first round at Queen’s for the second year running.

Jordan Thompson bt. Andy Murray (7-6, 6-2)

The biggest shock of the day saw defending champion Andy Murray crash out to Australian Jordan Thompson in straight sets.

The world number one became the latest top seed to struggle returning the serve, but seemed to have an off-day in all departments. His serve wasn’t as quick as it has been and his forehand let him down on numerous occasions.

Thompson, who replaced the injured Aljaz Bedene, won the first set by winning the tie-break 7-4.

The world number 90 then double-broke the five-time Queen’s champion, and won the second set 6-2.

Murray’s preparation ahead of his Wimbledon defence has taken a major setback with his early exit, but for Thompson it was the biggest win of his career.

Marin Cilic bt. John Isner (7-5, 6-3)

Number four seed Marin Cilic is now the favourite for the Queen’s title after he beat John Isner in straight sets.

The Croatian won this tournament back in 2012, and was very sharp on the court. He crucially broke Isner in the opening set and win it 7-5.

Cilic, who is currently ranking in at world number 7 ahead of Wimbledon, then made light work of the second set, winning it 6-3.

 

Posted in Tennis

Queen’s 2017: Day One

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gregor Dimitrov and Kyle Edmund all starred on opening day. 

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Tsonga won in straight sets against Adrian Mannarino. (IMAGE CREDIT: EUROSPORT Via. http://www.eurosport.co.uk/tennis/atp-queen-s/2017/aegon-championships-2017-tsonga-overcomes-mannarino_sto6223594/story.shtml

The grass court season is finally upon us, meaning the return of Queen’s– one of the most prestigious tour events which also serves as perfect preparation for Wimbledon. It’s been a tough day for all the players, with such blistering hot temperatures in West London. Here is how each match on Centre Court unfolded on the opening day.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bt. Adrian Mannarino (6-2, 6-2)

Fifth seed and world number 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opened proceedings with a straight sets win over fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

The crucial game of the match came during the opening set, when a 12-minute grudge match finally ended with Tsonga claiming an all-important break to go 4-2 up.

Mannarino struggled after that, and needed a medical time-out at one point after feeling a pain in his back.

Tsonga stepped up a gear to make easy work of the second set. The 2008 Australian Open finalist served well, and used his ferocious forehand to his advantage as he aims to make it to a first Queen’s final since 2011.

Gregor Dimitrov bt. Ryan Harrison (6-3, 6-1)

Bulgarian Gregor Dimitrov was comfortable from start to end as he beat American Ryan Harrison in straight sets.

The world number 11 took just 54 minutes to win the match, and dropped just four games along the way.

Harrison was hampered by too many unforced errors, which lead to him throwing balls into the crowd and slamming his racket in frustration. He was ultimately cautioned by the match umpire.

Dimitrov was different class however. The number six seed held his serve well, and played some magnificent shots from the baseline. The 2014 Queen’s champion showed flashes of just what he can do on a grass court and will go into the second round full of confidence.

Donald Young bt. Nick Kyrgios (7-6, Ret)

Nick Kyrgios’ retired from his first round match with American Donald Young with injury.

The Australian and number nine seed had yet to win a match at Queen’s prior to the tournament, and had his right leg heavily strapped up at the beginning of the match.

With the match closely fought, a slip during the ninth game of the first set ultimately cost Kyrgios, as he seemed to pull his left groin after his awkward tumble.

The world number 20 was sluggish around the court following the slip due to the injury he suffered, and struggled to compete in the tiebreak, which Young won 7-3.

The American used his powerful forehand to push Kyrgios around the court, and could be one to watch in this tournament. He very much held his own against the ninth seed, but the question following this match will be whether the Australian will return in time for Wimbledon, which starts in just two weeks time.

Denis Shapovalov bt. Kyle Edmund (7-6, 4-6, 6-4)

Two of tennis’ promising prodigies came face to face in the final match of the day, with 18-year old Denis Shapovalov shocking Queen’s by beating Britain’s Kyle Edmund.

Edmund, who has grown into a fine young player, was looking to make a mark on home soil. He made it through to the quarter-finals in this tournament last year, and wanted to try and at least make it to the same stage this time around.

However, the world number 44 struggled against the impressive Shapovalov. The Canadian, who won the junior Wimbledon last year, served well and played aggressively. He was rewarded with a first set win, beating Edmund 7-4 in the tiebreak.

Edmund recovered well, and got that all important break early on before wrapping up the second set 6-4.

The final set had a similar tone to the first, with both players struggling to break away from their opponent. The Canadian eventually found that elusive break in the final game, and will celebrate the biggest win of his very short career to date.

Shapovalov for certain has a bright future ahead of him, and will be a name to watch out for in the coming years. For Edmund, it’s about regrouping and rebuilding ahead of Wimbledon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BHAFC

BHAFC: Mathew Ryan signs as Albion begin to show they mean business in the transfer window.

The Australian goalkeeper has put pen to paper on a five-year deal. 

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Ryan was on loan at Genk last season. (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2017/03/17/ryan-helps-genk-advance-uel-quarter-finals

Brighton and Hove Albion have confirmed the signing of Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan from Valencia for a club-record fee.

The 25-year old has signed a five-year deal with the Seagulls, and will join up with his new teammates after the Confederations Cup.

Ryan, who has been capped 32 times by his country, impressed whilst on loan at Genk last season.

There is no doubt he will add much-needed experience to the dressing room. The goalkeeper has a lot of top-flight football under his belt, having played in the Australian, Belgian and Spanish first division. He has also played in European competition.

Ryan’s CV reads many individual and team accolades, which include a Belgian Cup, Belgian Pro League Goalkeeper of the Year 2014 and 2015 and an AFC Asian Cup win with the Socceroos in 2015.

The Australian signed a six-year deal with Valencia two years ago, but failed to secure a spot in the team. He won’t have to worry about that at the Amex, as he will without doubt be the new Albion no.1- especially following David Stockdale’s exit earlier in the week.

The transfer fee hasn’t been published, although we have been told it is a club-record fee. Whispers on social media state the figure to be around the £5m mark, although with four years left on his contract that number strikes a bit too low for my liking.

Saying that, this could be the start of a positive summer for the Seagulls, ahead of their debut season in the Premier League.

One would hope that Brighton’s club-record fee will be broken again (maybe more than once) before the window closes. If the club want to secure a striker who will guarantee goals, or a centre back who will command the penalty area, surely they would cost more than £5m?

You’ve only got to look at other clubs in the league and how much money they are spending on transfers. Leicester City have spent almost £20m on Harry Maguire, whilst Everton splashed £57m yesterday on both Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen!

It’s hard to tell until we see Ryan in the Premier League if we got him on the cheap, but if he is just as good as the former Sunderland stopper, a player who cost six times as much, then we can all have a little chuckle to ourselves.

But this shows Brighton’s intent. The club are willing to break their transfer record to bring in the players that they believe will help the team avoid relegation. Chris Hughton has signed two exciting players in Pascal Groß and Ryan, who could become Albion heroes should the club retain their Premier League status.

We should expect more signings in the coming weeks, and following the two deals the club have secured so far, I can’t wait to see who the next person to walk through the Amex doors will be.

Posted in BHAFC

BHAFC: Ahmed Musa and Simon Kjaer the latest linked with a move to the Amex this summer.

Transfer rumours are beginning to intensify two days before the release of the 2017/18 Premier League fixtures. 

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Simon Kjaer be on the move this summer? (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. DAILY EXPRESS http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/790546/Man-Utd-250m-summer-spree-Simon-Kjaer-Adnan-Januzaj-transfer-news-gossip

Brighton and Hove Albion are slowly preparing their squad ahead of the new Premier League season.

The Seagulls, who will be making their first appearance in England’s top flight since 1983, have already secured German midfielder Pascal Groß and are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with Valencia for Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan. 

Now Chris Hughton’s side are looking to bring in both a forward and defender, with two players linked with a move to the Amex today.

Leicester’s Ahmed Musa, who only joined the Foxes last summer for £16m, is apparently in talks with Brighton and West Brom, according to his agent. 

Musa, who only netted four goals in 32 appearances during his debut season in England, wants to remain in England despite offers from abroad.

The 24-year-old would more than likely start more games on the south coast than he did at the King Power last season (7), especially as he brings a different offensive style to the table.

One of his biggest assets is his raw pace. Where Glenn Murray is more of a threat in the air, Musa would be the striker making the runs in behind the defenders. It has the potential to be a dynamic partnership.

That is if Hughton sticks with his 4-4-2. He had mentioned towards the end of last season that would like to mix it up this campaign, with the 4-4-1-1 formation being one of those he wants to try and implement on the team.

Groß is a player capable of playing in that no.10 role behind the striker, but could Musa do a job there? He has the pace to play up alongside whoever starts up top (Murray or Hemed would be the best bet at the moment), but would the Nigerian track back and defend when needed?

Due to their similarities, it would be unlikely we would see both Musa and Sam Baldock in the same side. Baldock was one of our best players last season when he wasn’t injured, and if anything, we missed a Baldock-type player when he was sidelined. Therefore, having both in the squad wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Danish international defender Simon Kjær is the other man linked with a move to the Amex.

The Fenerbahce player is a transfer target for Liverpool, but the Seagulls are set to make a £7.5m bid imminently. 

Kjær, has 59 caps to his name, and would provide competition for Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy at the heart of Brighton’s defence.

He has two years remaining on his contract and is reported to be well settled in Istanbul. Fenerbahce also value their man at £15m, which could prove a stumbling block.

The 28-year old centre back would be a major coup for the newly promoted side should they steal him away from the clutches of both Liverpool and AC Milan- two clubs also interested in Kjær’s services.

Dunk and Duffy formed a solid partnership last season, but with a lack of top flight experience and the likes of Conor Goldson slowly returning back to full fitness, the need for a new centre back has become a priority.

It will be interesting to see whether both transfers materialise into anything. Both ARE just rumours at the moment, and whilst it will be good to see both in an Albion shirt, there is a long way to go before that could happen.

 

Posted in Football

A commander within the Toon Army: Cheick Tiote 1986-2017.

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Tiote smiling whilst training with Newcastle last year. (Image Credit: CHRONICLE LIVE Via. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/all-about/cheick-tiote.

This afternoon, the footballing world found out the tragic news that former Twente and Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote had collapsed during a training session in Beijing and died at the age of just 30.

The Ivorian, who made 52 appearances for his country, had only signed for second-tier Chinese club Beijing Enterprises four months ago. He made just 11 appearances for the Asian outfit.

His career took off at Anderlecht, where he won two Belgian titles and a Belgian super cup. He then moved to Holland, where he played for both Roda and Twente. There, Tiote won the domestic double in 2010 with the latter under Steve McLaren.

He then moved to Newcastle United and made 156 appearances for the Magpies during his six-and-a-half-year stay on Tyneside.

When he took to the field, he didn’t light up the stadia with fancy footwork and tricks. Instead he was the man in the middle doing the dirty work: intercepting passes and making crucial challenges for his side.

He was without doubt the commander within the Toon Army. He was a player that dictated any game he was involved in.

Newcastle are one of the country’s leading clubs, with a fantastic fanbase. He galvanised their love for the game on the pitch. He was Newcastle through and through and It’s no wonder he was adored by their supporters.

Tiote wasn’t a prolific goalscorer either. In fact, the Ivorian only netted once for Newcastle, although it was a goal that will live long in the memory of most fans.

His strike secured a remarkable point for the Magpies as they came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal at St.James’s Park in 2011.

The central midfielder represented his country at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in South Africa and Brazil respectively. He was also part of the Ivory Coast side that won the 2015 African Cup of Nations.

An underrated footballer taken from us all way too early.

RIP Cheick.

 

 

 

Posted in Film

Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 (2017) Review

The hotly anticipated sequel to James Gunn’s 2014 intergalactic classic almost ticks all the boxes.

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The guardians are back in a new adventure. (Image Credit: IMDB via. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3896198/mediaviewer/rm4191960064.

***

Coming out of the cinema like a herd of zombies at 3:00am last night, initial reactions to the newest chapter in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise were mixed.

That has been the worldwide reception to James Gunn’s latest work, which sees the original team return for an all new adventure in what is the 15th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Whilst this latest entry doesn’t reach the same level as Captain America: The Winter Soldier nor the original Guardians of the Galaxy, it is still an enjoyable, funny, action-packed thrill-ride which almost ticks all the boxes.

Chris Pratt is excellent once again as Peter Quill aka. Star-lord, who along with green mean machine Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a very comedic Drax (a fine performance by Dave Bautista, space racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the adorable Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), find themselves in trouble with ‘The Sovereign’, a community of gold people after a mission goes south.

During their run-in with ‘The Sovereign’ they meet Ego (played by Kurt Russell) who claims to be Peter’s father. From there we are taken on a story which delves into the complexity of what a family is and what it means to be one.

It is a very clever script written by director Gunn, who is able to use the wonders of the universe to his advantage.

There’s colour, wonder, and an amazing use of CGI to create worlds that the creative teams of the Captain America movies can only dream of. Of all the Avengers, only the Thor movies have the power to match the wonders on screen.

A special mention has to go to Michael Rooker, who returns to play Yondu the blue faced space pirate. Rooker’s performance outshines the rest of the cast by a country mile. Yondu’s storyline goes in so many different directions, which allows him to showcase his ability as a actor, an opportunity grabbed with both hands.

Also returning from the original is Karen Gillian’s Nebula, sister of Gamora, whilst there are cameo appearances left, right and centre.

Once again the soundtrack is out of this world. Nothing Marvel produces in the future will outshine the opening credits to this movie. Fred Raskin and Craig Wood’s editing is superb, the music choice is perfect, Henry Braham’s cinematography is amazing. It all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The issue this film will inevitably face however is something that is out of their control. It’s how it coincides with the public’s expectations. The original was smothered with so much critical acclaim that perhaps following it up with a sequel that was just as good was always going to be a tough job. It’s obvious Gunn made a decision on where to take the franchise in order to push it forward, but it isn’t one that will please everybody.

In a nutshell, if you were hoping for a distinct sequel to the first, then you’ll probably come away from this movie disappointed.

The title itself tells us what to expect. The use of  ‘Vol.2’ shows that this is a brand new story – like picking up the next comic book off the shelf – with no major links to the original. It works as a standalone as well as a sequel, kind of like how Star Trek Beyond fitted into that franchise.

The movie also reminds everyone that Guardians isn’t closely connected like the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where Avengers: Age of Ultron ties in with Captain America: Civil War, which subsequently then ties in with the upcoming Spider-Man and Black Panther movies, the Guardians still seem lightyears away in their own world despite sharing it with all these other superheroes.

However, that will surely change soon. For the first time we get a first hand account of just how awful Marvel’s big baddy Thanos really is from daughter Nebula. This could be the link where our heroes on Earth and the Guardians cross ahead of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, which is penciled in for a May 2018 release. It will be then that the main villain will finally get the screen time Marvel fans have been aching to see for the past 10 years.

12A, 138 mins 

 

 

Posted in MLS

MLS: Sporting Kansas City remain unbeaten, Colorado struggle and David Villa scores outrageous goal for NYCFC.

With six matches now played, this season’s contenders are starting to emerge. 

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Sporting KC have not lost in the MLS yet this season. (Image Credit: JAIME VALDEZ/ USA TODAY SPORTS. via. http://www.stumptownfooty.com/2017/4/15/15316774/portland-timbers-fall-1-0-to-sporting-kansas-city-at-home-april-2017. 

When you reach six matches into the season, you can begin to make an indications on who will achieve what come the end of the campaign.

However this year’s MLS is proving to be the closest one yet, and a good run will see one team climb up either table frantically.

One team which has done just that is Sporting Kansas City, who rose to second in the Western Conference after beating Portland Timbers 1-0 at Providence Park.

Dom Dwyer headed in his second goal of the campaign as the away side remained unbeaten this season with three wins and three draws.

Tim Melia made some crucial saves to deny Portland. His best was stopping Nagbe’s 25-year goal bound effort by touching it onto the crossbar.

“We are playing well,” said Dwyer after the game.

“We are passing the ball around nicely and controlling games which is very positive. We remain undefeated and today was a real solid team performance from front to back.”

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes, who was taking charge of his 300th game, was also very happy with how his team played at a very difficult Portland side.

“We came to play and weren’t nervous. We didn’t let the emotion of the game rattle us,” he said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Colorado Rapids fell to the bottom of the Western Conference after a 2-1 home loss to a resurgent Real Salt Lake.

Defeat marked the end of Colorado’s two-year unbeaten home record in MLS, whilst RSL made it two wins out of two under Mike Petke.

Kevin Doyle headed the home side in front with a powerful header that Nick Rimando failed to keep out.

Yuri Movsisyan equalised from the penalty spot with seven minutes to go, before Brooks Lennon scored a winner for the visitors with a low strike from 18-yards.

“They sat back and we struggled to play our style,” Lennon said after the game.

“On and off the pitch, we have come together and are now benefiting from it. We are on a good run and hope to continue it.”

Another team struggling are Philadelphia Union, who lost to New York City 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium.

Jack Harrison scored the first for the visitors with a first time left-footed strike, before veteran striker David Villa produced a moment of magic to seal the points.

The former World Cup winner and NYCFC captain lobbed Andre Blake from over 50 yards in stoppage time.

“I saw the keeper was off his line and thought to just try it,” Villa said after the game.

“I don’t know if I will score from that distance again, I tried it against Philadelphia last year and hit the crossbar so this one went better.”

Boos rung out for the home side at full-time, with Philadelphia bottom of the Eastern Conference and winless so far, adding pressure on manager Jim Curtin.

Elsewhere, Vancouver Whitecaps made it back-to back wins at home after defeating Seattle Sounders 2-1, Montreal Impact recorded their first win of the year against Atlanta United by the same scoreline, and Chicago Fire comfortably beat New England Revolution 3-0.

Also, New York Red Bulls beat DC United 2-0 at Red Bull Arena, and Columbus Crew returned to the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to a 2-1 win over Toronto FC.

Finally, Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes could only draw 1-1, and Minnesota United fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Arena.