MOVIE REVIEW: Big Game

There are some feats of cinema so incredible that you feel compelled to produce a review almost immediately after leaving the multiplex.

That’s certainly the case with ‘Big Game’, starring Samuel L. Jackson as a US President fighting for survival after Air Force One is shot from the sky.

Unfortunately, though, this is a film that’s got me fired up for all the wrong reasons.

That the hideous miscasting of cuddly old Jim Broadbent as a hard-nosed Pentagon-based American defence expert ISN’T the most mind-boggling thing about this film says everything you need to know about its quality.

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Big Game is, essentially, an 80-minute throwback to the big action movies of the 80s and 90s, albeit lacking any merit whatsoever. The dialogue is hackneyed and stilted, often with long, nonsensical scenes crowbarred in simply to set-up a cringe-inducing one-liner.

And yes, Samuel L. Jackson does call somebody a ‘muthafucka’ before shooting them. Obviously.

The use of these cliched phrases, together with an overly-dramatic music score and the liberal use of super slo-mo led me to question on more than one occasion if this was a parody that I’d been taken in by. But I honestly don’t think it was.

The most impressive thing about this film was that despite its ludicrous premise, which required too big a suspension of disbelief even judging by Hollywood standards to be in anyway plausible, was that it still, somehow, remained utterly predictable at every turn. Quite a feat, in my opinion.

And yet, I am writing this review without referring too heavily to the plot, or giving away any spoilers, because as much as I feel that NOBODY should watch this film, at the same time I’m thinking EVERYONE should, simply because I don’t feel these mere words are doing justice to quite how bizarre it truly is.

In summary: Absolute complete and utter crap. Five stars.

You know it is. It really is.

BOOK REVIEW: Richard Bacon’s ‘A Series of Unrelated Events’

Minor celebrities. You name ’em, I’ve probably met ’em.

From each individual member of Blue (but never Blue as a collective) to the Sugababes (both pre and post Mutya), from pre-meltdown Steve Brookstein to pre-break-up Jordan and Peter, I have exchanged cursory pleasantries with them all in my time, mainly during my previous life in the radio industry.

Thing is, you probably didn’t know about that, in the same sense that you don’t know about the press release I amended after some client feedback earlier this week. After all, they were just people that I met in the course of doing my job.

That’s why I sometimes allow myself a smirk when various PR peers or commercial radio salespeople post photographs of themselves with whichever C-lister they’ve encountered on a given day. The smirk often turns into a genuine LOL if that person tries to dress up their chance meeting by claiming that they were ‘just casually hanging out with’ said celebrity, as if they genuinely believe that they’re now mates or something.

You see, loves, we all know – no, seriously, WE ALL KNOW – that they were only interested in whatever book/film/show/perfume they were promoting, and they’d forgotten all about you in the few seconds it took for you to excitedly Tweet the photo. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s true.

That said, I have been known to join the ranks of the hapless celeb spotters on the occasions that I’ve been presented with somebody that I actually have some level of respect or admiration for. While I was happy to spurn the opportunity to be photographed with Dane Bowers or Liz from Atomic Kitten, the very sight of such luminaries as Chris Evans, Noddy Holder, Michael Phelps, Keith Chegwin and then-Villa-midfielder, Gareth Barry, was enough to have me gurning for the camera without a second’s thought.

While discussion of celebrities I’ve met isn’t something I tend to indulge in too often, pretty much for the reasons outlined above, one question I’m usually asked is ‘Who’s the nicest one you met?’ – and the answer, always, is Richard Bacon.

Anyone who knows me will be able to tell you about my near obsession with The Big Breakfast, and the fact that I’ve never particularly managed to get over its demise. It was this level of fixation with the early morning show which led me to be invited to appear on its final ever episode, its producers confirming my status as one of six Big Breakfast ‘Superfans’.

I was 18-years-old, and getting to visit The Big Breakfast house was pretty much one of the best things that had ever happened to me at that point. Actually, it probably still is. But the enduring memory of that day was the kindness afforded to me by Richard Bacon.

Richard BaconJust casually hanging out with Richard Bacon

In hindsight, now, I realise what a nuisance I must have been to him that day – the gawky teenage fanboy hanging off his coat-tails when all he probably wanted to do was hang out with his workmates on their final day together. Instead, though, he posed for photos, signed autographs, pleaded with the security guard on my behalf to allow me to get all the photographs I wanted, chatted to me for ages, even chatted to my mates on the phone, and essentially just went out of his way to make sure I had a great morning.

Some years later, I’d bump into him again, this time at a Radio Academy event in Nottingham, which saw Richard hosting his late night Five Live show from a pub just by the city’s castle. This time I greeted Richard, no longer an irritating teenage fan, but as his industry peer, and thanked him for the generosity and kindness he demonstrated towards me that day.

Again we enjoyed a lengthy chat, sharing our memories of the day, and I was again struck by what a genuinely ruddy nice bloke he is, something that can’t be said about every one of my heroes I’ve encountered (Johnny Vaughan, I may be talking about you).

And so, 673 words into this, I will now mention the book I’m meant to be reviewing.

I didn’t know Richard Bacon had released a book until Thursday evening. I found out about it, as befitting of the digital age, when Gary Lineker Tweeted about it. Continuing the theme, within seconds I was reading it on my iPad, and less than 48 hours later, I sat down to blog about it.

‘A Series Of Unrelated Events’ in both name and nature, the book begins with the incident that propelled Richard Bacon to stardom.

During my Freshers’ Week at university in 2002, Whigfield performed a gig within the University of Lincoln’s sports centre, and made the questionable decision to open the show with ‘Saturday Night’. The audience went wild. Only, the rest of her set was then made up of some shit nobody knew or cared about. Whigfield, exasperated by the declining level of interest being shown by the audience, eventually gave in an played ‘Saturday Night’ once more.

That’s an odd tangent, I know, but by opening the book with a chapter entitled ‘Cocaine, and lots of it’, I feared my mate Richard may have made a similar mistake. Thankfully, that fear was unfounded.

Dealing with the issue with grace, humility, honesty and humour, it immediately creates a sense of ‘now that’s out of the way…’, leaving readers to enjoy the rest of the book without wondering, as you probably would if it were written in the conventional sense, when he’s going to stop with the early days crap and get to the bit where he’s fired from Blue Peter.

From there, we’re taken on a journey which focuses mainly on one man and his frequent embarrassments, from being bollocked by Bill Nighy in front of an audience, to a Christmas arrest for reading a text on the radio, and, of course, being named as NME’s ‘Most F***ing Useless Person In The World’. Best of all, though, speaking as an official Big Breakfast Superfan, is the chapter about the legend that is Plate Spinning Bob and his fateful trip to Vegas, something I’d forgotten about until reading this.

An admirable self-deprecation exudes throughout the book’s 194 pages, with detailed footnotes perhaps acting as a subtle nod to the Alan Partridge comparisons which have been levelled at Richard throughout the years. Above all else, though, the book is funny. Really, really funny.

So, I say buy it. Buy it right now. Not just because it’s good, but because he’s a thoroughly bloody nice bloke, and he deserves your money.

A triumph.

You know it is. It really is.