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The Dark Knight Rises (DVD) [2012]
The Dark Knight Rises (DVD) [2012]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.50

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Knight Lowers...., 30 Nov. 2012
Christopher Nolan wraps up his brooding Batman legacy in this fairly decent sequel, but also the weakest chapter of the trilogy.

8 years have passed since the events of the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse with the Batsuit gathering dust. While Commissioner Gordon remains wracked with guilt regarding the truth about Harvey Dent & Batman taking the fall, Gotham has become virtually crime free thanks to the misconceived success of the Harvey Dent Act. That's all about to change however as another member of the League of Shadows shows up in the bulky form of Bane to ensure Gotham faces its Judgement Day as hinted at in Batman Begins, and so Batman comes out of retirement while all the time a mysterious cat burglar lurks in the shadows with her own agenda.

Story-wise this makes for a pretty good wrap up as the trilogy goes full circle but it's the execution of this story is where the film just doesn't stand up to its predecessors. By comparison, Batman Begins had an hour long story without Batman appearing but it was such an enthralling watch that it made his eventual introduction all the more rewarding - here, you're not antcipating, but waiting for him to arrive. The Dark Knight had tension you could chew from one Batman/Joker battle of wills after another. Here, the Second Act feels more like filler material which contributes to the film's much debated length.

And so many have complimented or complained regarding the length of this movie & the writer finds that fascinating - why is there so much focus on the length of a movie these days? Has everyone forgotten it's a matter of Quality over Quantity? So many say TDKR is too long while in all probability, the same people will say for example, Quantum of Solace is too short. Yet no one complained about the running time of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy or Avatar and why not? Because those movies maintained a solid story, sub-plots vital to the outcome & your desire to know more.

And that's where TDKR falls down because its overflowing, truncated script is trying to cover as much ground as possible, but loses sight of the goal in the process. And as a result, the cracks start to appear and you're exposed to over-compensating elements & annoying short-cuts in the plot.

For instance, Bane's origins are explained over about half an hour when it could have been done in 5 minutes, a young police officer has suddenly & inexplicably deduced Batman's identity despite his absence for the most part of a decade & Ras Al Guhl's return in a dream sequence feels more like a corny cameo for Liam Neeson rather than an integral part of the story.

Character wise, Tom Hardy's Bane doesn't come within striking distance of Heath Ledger's psychotic Joker or Neeson's philosophical Ras Al Guhl, moreover he's mostly just a brute with a weird accent that is too often obscured behind his mask, Michael Caine's effantly influential Alfred is unwisely passed out of most of the story but on the plus side, Christian Bale plays the despondent Wayne/Batman with a lot more conviction than his mother-of-all-sore-throats Dark Knight portrayal while Anne Hathaway's mysterious Catwoman (even though she's never labelled as such) keeps you guessing all the way, in many ways making her a more interesting character than Bane.

Cinematically, TDKR goes completely OTT when you compare it to the toxic attack on the city in BB, a city gripped by fear at the hands of a maniac in TDK, here we have explosive streets, imploding football pitches, collapsing bridges, the threat of nuclear annilahtion & city wide rioting in broad daylight which contrasts badly with the previous darkly shot installments, and comes across as very bombastic.

Nonetheless as superhero movies go, this is as good as any but certainly not the best of them. It maintains the zestless, brooding tension of Christopher Nolan's approach while nicely knitting together the storyline across the trilogy. So while it is a good movie, it's not a patch on either of its predecessors. But then again, most of us could count on one hand how many Chapter 3s in a franchise we can name that truly outdo Chapter 1 and/or 2.

And let's not forget Joel Schumacher's abhorrent slaughter of the Batman character in 1997 that buried it - ironically enough for 8 years - until 2005 when Christopher Nolan came along & gave Batman reinvention, depth, perspective, intrigue & most of all a legacy we've re-learned to appreciate since then, so let's not complain too much.

Mr. Nolan, Sir, we thank you for giving Batman balls again.

Air Force One [DVD] [1997]
Air Force One [DVD] [1997]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Price: £3.74

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrorists on Air Force One? - Only in Hollywood...., 9 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Air Force One [DVD] [1997] (DVD)
Air Force One is a run-of-the-mill action movie starring Harrison Ford as the President of the United States cheerfully making his way home from a rousing anti-terrorist speech in Mother Russia, only to find that terrorists disguised as a Russian news crew have somehow taken over the most secure aircraft on earth. Naturally, the President takes it upon himself to rebel and become the hero of the hour.

Originally released in 1997, this movie feels like it should have been released in the 80s. Its plot circles around terrorists hijacking Air Force One in return for the release of evil dictator in Kazakhstan - probably more in reference to the Bosnian & Kosovo Conflicts of the time - but truthfully, it's not difficult to see what's going on here; this is really just a throwback to the Cold War and it's the good old US of A vs. those evil Russian communists. Indeed this movie must have brought a tear to the eye of Reagan and Gorbachev, who worked so hard to end decades of the Cold War years earlier, only for those pesky Hollywood writers to keep dragging it back up for our entertainment in the Western World. (Jesus they'd even managed to ween James Bond off the Russians at that stage!)

Anyhoo, this is essentially Die Hard on Air Force One which in itself is a fun but ridiculous premise with a screenplay littered with unintentional comedic values. Ford ably plays a former veteran turned President, who spends a lot of the movie armed & dangerous, running around the bowels of the plane, picking off terrorists & rescuing passengers (somehow it's hard to picture the likes of George W Bush doing that), Gary Oldman plays the terrorist kingpin with supreme aplomb (as he does in any bad guy role he plays) but Glenn Close is a letdown as the Vice President, completely overacting in the role - 'He's not asking. Your Commander-in-Chief has issued a direct order. DO IT!!!!' (cue 'DUN DUN DUN' music) and another unintended laugh from us.

Try as it might, the script just doesn't maintain the suspense; visually, it's not helped by horrendously substandard CGI - (there have been explosions, & crashes from movies in the 70s that look more realistic than what you'll see here) and all to the background sound of a cheesy oversold musical score. Unfortunately, it's a movie that just doesn't stand the passage of time, pre-9/11 it's hard to take this seriously, post 9/11 it's impossible.

Rather than spending hard earned money on this, you're better off waiting for it to appear on some digital TV channel some night when you come home, tired & pissed off after a bad day at work, its only effect being to brainlessly entertain you before you hit the hay for the night, barely remembering you bothered to watch it the next day.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2013 1:29 PM BST

Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3.0 out of 5 stars MK1 Not Flawless MK2 Brutal(ity), 14 May 2012
Based on the wildly popular video game series, MK & MK Annihilation graced our theatres in 1995 & 1997. So how do they stand up today?

First off, these movies will make absolutely no sense to anyone who is not an advocate of the games, so I strongly recommend ignoring them unless you are at least, a MK novice.

As MK1 kicks off, the Elder Gods have arranged an inter-dimensional martial arts tournament known as 'Mortal Kombat' & warriors from the 'Outworld' have won the previous 9 tournaments. Should they win 10 in a row under the watchful eye of soul-pilfering Shang Tsung (Cary Tagawa), the portals between Earth & the Outworld will open & the warriors under control of Emperor Shao Kahn will be able to invade Earth. (What this means precisely is what this writer believes to be unintentionally ambiguous - what, that means all these unholy warrior freaks are going jump through a vortex & karate kick our arses every day for fun?)

Anyhoo, suffice it to say it would be bad news for us mere mortals on Earth so Thunder God Raiden (ably played by Christopher Lambert) who is also our protector hand picks a number of Earth's warriors to take the Outworlders on. We're introduced to Liu Kang (Robert Shou) who is seeking revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of Shang Tsung, Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson) who is seeking revenge for the death of her partner at the hands of Kano (So much vengeance! Where is the love?) & the egotistical Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby), a movie star who feels he is a fraud & wants to prove himself, all sail to a mysterious island where the tournament will take place. There, they team up with the feisty Princess Kitana (Ah, there's the love...) who will help guide them on their quest.

Directed by Paul Anderson, famed for game-to-movie adaptations (and reviled by most critics for it), Mortal Kombat is a decent popcorn-munching flick, with good visuals, impressive special effects and action sequences galore. The characters are faithful to the games (with the possible exception of a slobbering Kano) while the massive Goro is an impressive, if unattractive sight. Sub Zero is icy in every way, the fight between Scorpion and Johnny Cage is a cracker & the script balances out to a decent showdown between Kang & Tsung. All in all, a decent adaptation of the first 2 games in the series.

As for the sequel Mortal Kombat Annihilation, well, there's no other way to say it, it is DIABOLICAL. Right from the very start of the opening credits where 'MORTAL KOMBAAAAAAAAATTTTT!!!' is roared at us backed up by a frenetic, almost immature rave score, there's every reason for pessimism & every justification for it soon follows.

Largely based on the Mortal Kombat 3 game, the film disregards the victory of the Earth warriors from the first movie as Shao Kahn (Brian Thompson) enters the Earth realm with his freakish minions including Motaro, Sheeva, Sindel amongst others to announce he is enslaving Earth within 6 days (presumably in direct contrast to God) and Earth's warriors must fight to prevent that. That's pretty much the only existing plot line (if you can call it that) in the movie.

Cue random fight after fight after fight with no coherency & so many characters are badly let down by the non-existence of a script. Despite the notable handicap of being dead from the first movie, Scorpion shows up with no explanation at all, Sheeva dies without even throwing a punch, Mileena pops out of nowhere for seemingly no other reason than to have a mud wrestle with Sonya, Baraka looks like something borrowed from the Muppet Show & so much is made of Jax's cybernetic arms but he never really uses them and that only covers about half the characters!

Outside of all that, the CGI in the movie is of unbelievably poor quality, the dialogue stinks & pretty much the entire cast from the first movie is replaced with the exception of Kang & Kitana, probably because the original cast knew what a career-killing pile of crap this movie was destined to be.

It's comical that the DVD sleeve on Annihilation suggests that we 'Destroy All Expectations' because that's EXACTLY what this movie does.

Go 3 Stars for MK1 & don't even consider the fatality that is the second.

Snakes on a Plane [DVD]
Snakes on a Plane [DVD]
Dvd ~ Samuel L. Jackson
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £0.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Ssssst! It's just a bit of fun....., 2 April 2012
This review is from: Snakes on a Plane [DVD] (DVD)
It never fails to baffle me how so many reviewers take exception to movies like this, criticising plot, dialogue, the presence of a high profile actor like Samuel L Jackson etc, as if it was ever meant to enrol into the annals of All Time Movie Greats.

Isn't its title a bit of a giveaway? Snakes On A Plane? What utterly ridiculous set of circumstances could lead to such a scenario? And yet here it is on-screen - of course it's ridiculous but c'mon people, don't take it so seriously!! This is simple popcorn munching, brainless fun designed purely to entertain, not to inspire, not to be thought-provoking and for those of you who ponder what the charismatic-as-ever Samuel L Jackson is doing in a movie like this, well, actors need to have fun too.

Anyhoo, Neville Flynn (Jackson) is an FBI agent assigned to protect Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) who has witnessed a lawyer brutally murdered by a Gangster kingpin named Kim. Flynn is to escort Jones aboard a 747 to a trial in Los Angeles, where his testimony will be crucial in getting a conviction. Little do they know that Kim has had dozens of snakes smuggled into the cargo hold of the plane & sprayed with pheromones to irritate the snakes & intensify their attacks.

And attack they most certainly do in just about every orifice of the plane (and passengers) leading to several gut-wrenching but quite often unintentionally comedic moments too, snakes in the oxygen masks, sick bags, interrupting a 'meeting' in the Mile High club, a guy taking a whizz at a horribly inopportune time - it's all just brash, nonsensical fun, devoid of any subtlety.

So don't bring your brain into the equation and you might get something out of this caper. Try to remember it's just a bit of fun to pass away what could otherwise be 2 boring hours of your life.

Kurt And Courtney [DVD] [1998]
Kurt And Courtney [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Courtney Love
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £8.46

2.0 out of 5 stars On A very different Plain, 23 Feb. 2012
Kurt & Courtney is a 1998 documentary by Nick Broomfield with much potential but delivers little as it inanely consists mostly of hit & hope interviews, non-expositional dialogue, crooked media control & far out conspiracy theories bordering on the ridiculous.

Its opening is intriging as Cobain's origins are explored, delving from a music obsessed toddler to a troubled childhood in a broken home & how sleeping under a bridge was immortalised in 'Something In The Way'. Unfortunately, the main focus is on Courtney Love rather than Kurt & in an ironic parallel, it spirals out of control.

Granted Bloomfield is up against all sorts of licensing, legal & funding issues in the making of the documentary and makes no secret of it, but that does not excuse interviews being wayward, off-target, so much so even Bloomfield himself appears to get frustrated at times.

Love's estranged father reveals mostly an irrelevant battle of wills with his estranged daughter degenerating into blather at times, Kurt's best friend & their child's nanny offer little insight with their reluctant half answers for apparent fear of Courtney and a private detective is convinced Cobain was either murdered by Love or at least ordered a hit on him, based purely on conjecture.

The mark of a good filmmaker is to nail your source material & evolve it into something informative, provocative & leaves you asking for more but Broomfield fails in this regard as his delivery suggests an apparent inability to get answers to the tough questions, without interviewees going off on a tangent and by the end, his publicly questioning the ACLU's (an organisation that promotes Freedom of Speech) choice of Courtney Love as a guest speaker feels like a cheap shot as that stage, so does the entire documentary. This isn't a balanced view of Kurt & Courtney, but mostly a crack at Mrs. Cobain in the worst possible light which doesn't look, sound or feel objective.

So if you're looking for real insight & a well documented exploration of the life of Kurt Cobain & all who were integrally part of it including Love, then read `Heavier Then Heaven' by Charles S Cross.

Granted that publication had Love's blessing where Nick Bloomfield had no such luxury, but that does not excuse this documentary being devoid of direction, intrigue or credibility and as such, should be avoided.

American Splendor [DVD] [2004]
American Splendor [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Paul Giamatti
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.73

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Splendour of Banality. Or something like that, 10 Feb. 2012
Based on the life of Harvey Pekar, American Splendour is an extremely unorthodox film about an extremely unorthodox person. Pekar is accuratley portrayed as a highly intelligent, yet neurotic and grumpy character that works as a file clerk and collects jazz records. He is famous for his autobiographical comic books and their only purpose is to describe his everyday life and whatever observations or lessons his overly eccentric character takes from it. To illustrate this, there are several Harvey Pekars throughout the movie, principally Paul Giamatti who plays the great man himself and the real Pekar makes several appearances too. At times, animated Harveys appear on screen in synch with the actors and oddly, this combination of film and animation invokes every scene in which they're featured.

The film is laced with banality but those who don't get that don't realise that therein lies its point. Pekar points out some of the most obvious things and usually with an unhealthy overdose of pessimism. Such as when the film opens and Pekar has lost his voice and immediately assumes he has throat cancer. Not only that, he has no voice to beg his wife to stay when he gets home from the hospital. Which of course, she doesn't. And don't you just hate it when you join the shortest queue in the supermarket and yet for some pathetic reason, it always takes the longest time to get through? Such ordinary realism that occurs in all our lives is brought to the screen with sardonic humour and a laugh at Pekar's expense.

It's unusual, but the main role is split between the real Harvey Pekar and Giamatti's portrayal of him. For instance, we see Giamatti gearing up for an appearance on the David Letterman show but what you see is actual footage taken from an archival show when Pekar appeared on it some 20-odd years ago. In another bizarre example of this, a scene is cut as a wrap and we switch to off-camera where the real Pekar and Giamatti engage in idle conversation. Certainly not standard movie-making procedure but it allows the audience to see exactly how moronic and contrary Pekar can be - he's even cynical of his own biographical movie! Also, the advantage of this is that the audience have the benefit of witnessing just how good Giamatti is in the role. Equally good is Hope Davis as Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner, a woman who shares his sense of irony (she even marries him 2 days after meeting him) and she delivers an excellent performance as a layabout, who just wants to laze life away while her constant bantering with her husband is a testament to the chemistry between the 2 characters. The supporting cast maintains a strong presence with Judah Friedlander playing a nerd to perfection and James Urbaniak as Pekar's sarcastic cartoonist, Robert Crumb.

All in all, American Splendour is certainly a memorable venture and may well become something of a cult classic. Well-written and very original with a good but not overboard dosage of humour, 'Splendour' is not in short supply.

Who would have thought that ordinary life could be this entertaining?

Calendar Days
Calendar Days
Offered by YES!JAPAN
Price: £19.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Feel Good Stuff, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Calendar Days (Audio CD)
Unusually, Bryce Avary produces records that sound like a band's work but actually was made by himself alone. 'Calendar Days' is a culmination of his unquestionable ability to play God knows how many musical instruments. And to his credit maintains a sound any 4 or 5 piece band would be proud of.

This record's most obvious & uncommon characteristic is just how happy-go-lucky it is. An example of this arrives early in the opening track 'Cross My Heart' with lyrical novelty such as 'Starting from today / everything is going to be alright'. Equally upbeat emotions are commonplace in 'Skies So Blue': 'I'm sorry I sound glad / but why always be so sad'. Song writing like this is tediously simple in nature but nonetheless effective in conveying the record's surrounding message of optimism.

Such lyrics even sound a little immature at times, but even if it falls into this trap, it's often rescued by pleasing melodies. A thumping drumbeat adds an enormous pop-charm to 'Saturday', while ringing acoustic guitar gives heart to 'That's So You'. A sweet piano ballad is the basis for 'What We Hate, We Make' and Avary uses a choir of no less than 42 schoolgirls as a backing vocal. The result is charming, if slight.

There's nothing particularly ground breaking about this record but it sounds good for one man's work. With songs about self-expression, relationships and weekends, it will probably go down well with the teenage generation as much as anyone so if you're a fan of the melancholy or the self-exploratory type of music listener, then this album is not for you. On the other hand if it's a carefree feel-good pop rock record you're after, then by all means.

Catering for Headphones
Catering for Headphones
Offered by all my music
Price: £39.89

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Experimental beyond likeable, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Catering for Headphones (Audio CD)
Irish based Waiting Room produced a curious endeavour with 'Catering For Headphones', a gentle set of songs that hang off of various riffs, many of which use a background cello to amplify their effect. Sounds good in theory, but the writing of the album comes across as peculiar, to say the least.

The opener 'Waller Street' has a pleasant intro with a soothing guitar riff and effective cello sound, that is until an ill-advised voiceover from Charles Manson pretty much soils the music. How very odd. It quickly moves onto 'I Took Some Painkillers' an instrumental, though you wouldn't think it when the track begins. Instrumentals are often very good in their musical intention but unfortunately this sounds more like it was meant to be a song, so you end up waiting for lyrics that never arrive. Not only that, but it abruptly stops in mid-beat, almost as if someone pushed the stop button for no apparent reason. Another oddity. Lyrics finally appear in the dreamy 'Another Take' albeit very briefly (possibly too briefly for that matter) and an effective cello sound forms a strong backbone to the song but otherwise, the song's potential is not maximised.

There's a touch of fellow Cork based band Boa Morte with added decibels in 'Message Received', a quiet ballad that is turned up to good effect midway before it slows down again for its outro. Finally it feels like the record is beginning to make progress. It does with the moody 'Amsterdam' which is certainly a highlight with pragmatic lyrics against the backdrop of a ringing guitar riff & a multi-voiced chorus makes the song all the more enjoyable. 'Return My Rabbits' is possibly the best track on offer with relatively simple but delicious plucking of guitar strings combined with longing, heartfelt lyrics.

A throbbing bass line provides good foundation for 'Point Your Eyes Down' & its ongoing crossovers of silence and noise addictively gel together, even though at this point the best of the album has come and gone. 'Angel' and 'Today Left Me With' are pleasantly melodious in a folksy sort of way, and then to finish, it's back to another instrumental 'Carousel' which once again would probably sound better with some lyrical intrusion. In fairness though, it's always difficult to find truly unique instrumentals and credit to them for trying.

All in all, 'Catering For Headphones' is a laboured listen and its opening tracks make it difficult to keep the listener interested. While a few central tracks are undeniably unique, much of the album feels like a collection of good ideas with poor execution.

I hope this review helps you decide whether to take a chance on it or not.

Offered by msales-8
Price: £11.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Irish-Americans Pay Attention!, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Prophecy (Audio CD)
Dublin-born, American-based McKeown experimented for the better on this occasion as her previously traditional tones play second fiddle to a bolder, more acoustic rock sound, much more diversified with lyrics inherently dark and often wistful. Alternating between foot-tapping melody and gothic ballads, McKeown deals with heritage, religious faith and personal loss. Yet in a contradictive way, the album exposes feeling of a positive nature propelled by her delicate yet strong vocals.

Think 'River' as Dolores Keane with a pumped up rhythm. That track along with 'South' portrays prevalent Irish heritage & 'Ballinaboula' is as traditionally Irish as its title suggests with lyrics dealing with Celtic influences, witches, devils and the like, with pipes and a string arrangement playing their part.

The songs on the album jump from one varied sound to another as a range of instruments are used, and yet it's performed with the same inimitable style. 'What Did I Ever Do To You?' is a bluesy effort, again with those dark, sometimes bitter lyrics, 'And I wonder and I ought to / Just how easily they bought you' & it even utilises a kicking electric guitar solo and organ riffs the Doors would be proud of. In another form, the opening track 'Be Brave Be Strong' has a distant reggae motif backed up with an excellent combination of trumpet and fiddle scores.

'Because I Could Not Stop For Death' is one of the most intriguing tracks & an unquestionable highlight. The lyrics of the song are actually an excerpt from the writings of Emily Dickinson. Natalie Merchant provides an excellent vocal with McKeown & their combined talents mix intriguingly with a distant bass & cello combination. Similarly, the albums' namesake 'Prophecy' has lyrics inspired by WB Yeats, sung in a haunting and convincing fashion.

Along with lyrics inspired by some of the great writers, McKeown's own song-writing ability is impossible to ignore & 'Wheels of The World' demonstrates it: 'And the wheels of the world won't stop for you to give us your reaction'. In the very heartfelt 'Seven Cold Glories', McKeown pays tribute to a lost loved one providing a provocative hybrid between the desperation of loss & faith she's left with: 'There's a God out there / I wish it was mine'.

One of the album's darkest moments, 'Chances Are' is performed with a bass solo as laden as its lyrics: 'This heart is tattered and torn / Got to wring it free of this bitterness and scorn'. A disturbing lyric, yet atypical of the album's message, the struggle and eventual victory.

McKeown's inventive techniques presented an album that is as compelling as it is diverse. She successfully crossed genres here & the album is performed with an artistic excellence and with honest conviction.

Prophetic indeed.

Heathen Chemistry
Heathen Chemistry
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.02

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Atypical Oasis, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Heathen Chemistry (Audio CD)
After the shambles of 'Standing On the Shoulder of Giants' was deservedly shelved, this was the album where Oasis needed to reinvent themselves - BADLY needed to reinvent themselves. But aside from Liam's genuine effort at some decent songwriting coupled with Andy Bell & Gem Archer's input, the result remained inanely same old story, different album.

The infamous single 'The Hindu Times' is a bold, brassy intro to the album that may even have hit harder than 'Rock N Roll Star'. With a distinctly heavier guitar sound than usual, the song may not achieve greatness, but it is a befitting start. What follows is the first of several pitfalls at the hands Noel's diminishing ability to write good songs.

'Force of Nature' sounds little better than filler material & should have been demoted to a b-side at best. Along with a drumbeat that can only be described as a rip-off of Iggy Pop's 'Nightclubbing', its bemoaning lyrics led many to believe that the song was an attack on the then-newly-divorced-ex-wife Meg Matthews, an assumption vehemently denied at the time. It was hard to be anything but sceptical of thoses denials as he sings 'What you seek is a wise man's treasure / You know it's buried beneath your feet' and its stinging chorus; 'You're smoking all my stash / You're burning all my cash / I bet you knew right away / It's all over the town as the sun's gone down / On the days of your easy life'. The song doesn't even have a second verse written for it and its final line is 'Better get on your knees and pray', surly advice already offered in 'Gas Panic'. This nonsensical grumbling makes for a very tasteless song & the passage of time has done nothing to help it.

'Hung in a Bad Place' (written by Archer & somewhat reminiscent of the 'I Got the Fever' b-side) is charismatically sung by Liam along with a committed generic rock tune, albeit atypical of Oasis. The second single 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' has potential as a heart-felt ballad, with soothing guitar riffs accompanied by a very apt string arrangement. Unfortunately, the song is let down by truly mundane lyrics. 'Fade Away' is used for the umpteenth time in an Oasis song and the 'Keep holding on' sentiment is hardly original.

Liam's first writing attribute to the record is surprisingly intuitive with 'Song bird'. Compared to his laughably bad debut with 'Little James', it's a sweet, sonic folk-rock song played with ringing acoustic guitars and an effective piano riff and it sounds unexpectedly fresh. However, at only 2 minutes in length, it disappears before it has a chance to peak.

'Little By Little' is as glum as it is perplexing. Obviously written in a somewhat philosophical mood, it seems to answer questions nobody asked. With lyrics such as 'You have to give it all/In all of your life' & bellowing 'Why am I really here?' towards the end, the song lacks sparkle. 'A Quick Peep' is an instrumental written by Andy Bell & it consists of an uninspired guitar riff underscored with a heavy bass riff. It does not venture or deviate at all and being less than 90 seconds in length, its inclusion is bordering on pointless.

'(Probably) All In The Mind' once again has a philosophical touch with lyrics that depict amateur poetry. 'And the life I'm trying to find/Is probably all in the mind'. You're on 5 albums, the lyrics do not have to rhyme!!!!! At this point, it's difficult to believe that the songs could get any more basic, but they do. 'She is Love' is obviously about a girlfriend which is a bad start; Noel has already wasted one track grumbling about one girlfriend & repeats the error by praising another one. 'All I know is that I'm in love with someone who loves me too', David Brent playing guitar in The Office anyone? Anyone?

'Born On A Different Cloud' penned by Liam, reminds the listener of the Beatles once again, a cardinal sin for Oasis at that stage. Sung in unconvincing fashion, its vibe is very similar to 'Hey Jude' or 'I Am The Walrus' (ironically). The final track 'Better Man', also written by Liam, represents what Oasis should have been doing: experimenting. Cutting guitar solos that bring an oddly punk-ish sound with distant background hum working perfectly with Liam's slurred, aggressive vocals. It's a good exit for a record that also had a good start. Shame about what was in between.

Also, for those interested, there's a hidden instrumental in the final track on CD and you have to search through about 33 minutes to find it. It's only a hashed repetitive riff similar to 'Champagne Supernova' but without the class, so it's not really worth the effort.

All in all, a disjointed fragmentary affair, cluttered with lyrical shortcomings & predictable Beatles influences. Oasis failed to exceed their own limitations with this release & pondered the question of whether they would be remembered as an album great instead of a rock n' roll great.

And sadly, the answer was Definitely Maybe.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2012 2:16 AM GMT

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