Review: Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman (dir. James Wan, 2018) – To preserve peace between land and sea, Arthur Curry must find the trident that will prove his worth as the King of Atlantis.

Verdict

The Atlantean King’s first solo outing gets inundated with one too many villains, including a leaden script.

2/5

Review

It was never Arthur’s intent to vie for the throne. But he soon finds his hand forced when the next heir in line threatens to wage a dangerous war. Having left his world behind at a young age, the late King’s firstborn son must find a sacred weapon, which will prove his worth to rule a world in disarray.

The to-be King is no heir of Camelot, but borne of the Atlantean Queen and a mortal lighthouse keeper. As the son of star-crossed lovers from two worlds, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) knows better than anyone about unity. It takes little convincing for him to get his quest for peace started, as his initial reluctance quickly washes off to make room for explosive underwater action.

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Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch (2018)

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (dir. David Slade, 2018) – A young programmer attempts to adapt a fantasy novel into a choose-your-own-adventure video game, but loses control over the choices in his own life.

Verdict

Bearing the hallmarks of a typical Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch pulls us into Charlie Brooker’s deeply engaging mind game that yet again flaunts his creative brilliance and dark tendencies.

5/5

Review

Named after the creature of the whimsical Wonderland tale, Bandersnatch is itself a monster of a wildly imaginative story. Black Mirror’s first interactive episode has us live and re-live the multiple lives of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), whose obsessive creation of his choose-your-own-adventure game soon starts to warp his own reality.

“I feel like I’m not guiding [my decisions],” he tries to explain his building disorientation. “Someone else is.”

And every time we choose whether to have him destroy a computer or hit a desk, he looks down at his own hands fearfully as if they do not belong to him. His conviction that he is being controlled brings about a tinge of guilt – that we may just be responsible for recklessly manipulating the fate of a sentient digital being (see: USS Callister, Hang the DJ).

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Book Review: Destroy All Monsters by Jeff Jackson

Destroy All Monsters: The Last Rock Novel (Jeff Jackson, 2018) – A murder epidemic spreads across Arcadia, where musicians are the victims.

Verdict

Music has the power to connect, as it does to destroy. It is in our nature to do the same, and Destroy All Monsters puts it all on display.

5/5

Review

Arcadia is suffering an inexplicable wave of murders at concerts, and the epidemic has strangely little to do with the politics of gun violence. The horror is however real. Jeff Jackson’s prescient terror tale sees the sanctity of music getting tainted for reasons unknown.

Suddenly, rock n’ roll loses all of its meaning – joy, liberation, pure adrenaline – as it becomes nothing more than a harrowing death trap. At the centre of it are young musicians Xenie, Shaun, and Florian, whose sanctuary no longer feels safe. What else then do they have to hold onto?

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Favourite Rock and Metal Albums of 2018 Vol. 2

With ten slots proving barely adequate for this year in music, a second part comes due. Sorry for the lack of consistency, as I slip in and out between soft rock and metal(core) favourites. So try not to lift your finger off that volume dial.

In no real order and in time for the new year, enjoy Volume 2 of 2:

10. The Temperance Movement – A Deeper Cut

The blues continue to invade modern music, as The Temperance Movement releases their third solid rock n’ roll record. A Deeper Cut is yet another next top-notch album to join the impressively consistent collection of indie label Earache Records. H

Capable of throwing out raw rockers like Caught in the Middle and Backwater Zoo, the beloved British band is unafraid to slow down for tender ballads such as There’s Still Time and the brilliant title track. And what is perhaps as much our blessing as it is the band’s, Phil Campbell’s raw vocals work amazingly well on both.

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Favourite Rock and Metal Albums of 2018 Vol. 1

Cynics may continue to cry foul at imitators and sellouts in the rock scene, but I stand my ground that 2018 has been good to music fans. Too good, if I dare to be bold. As labels shower us with gifts of addictive blast beats and criminally catchy hooks, I hesitate at the difficult task of playing favourites.

Music lists are tougher still for an indecisive audiophile, who holds on dearly to ancient favourites while craving for new ones. But I’ll take any excuse to re-listen to some of the best records this year:

10. Avatar – Avatar Country

I will always regret missing Avatar live at Download Festival. With their seventh album Avatar Country, the band is set to steal the title of the greatest showmen on the metal stage. Emulating the early persona of the revered Alice Cooper, the born performers are just a hell lot of fun to watch.

Granted that they may play up on the dramatic, their dress-up games never come at the cost of musicality.  Their latest record is full of groove-laden bangers, albeit softer than before. If there is a single track that sums up their serious musicianship alongside their love for fun, get in on The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country.

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