Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Mamma Mia 2, Here We Go Again (movie review)

The feel-good event of the year.

(picture source - HERE)

We got to see Mamma Mia 2, Here We Go Again on opening night last week in the Omniplex Cinema in Wexford and it was awesome. The MAXX experience is fantastic and the sound quality is like nothing I've heard before with the Dolby Atmos system recently installed.  I'm normally the first person to say when something is just a gimmick to encourage us to spend an extra euro or two but in the case of MAXX it is truly justified. When I was choosing where to go to view the movie I specifically chose the MAXX experience. (I am not sponsored in any way by the Omniplex btw)

Let's get this out here straight away. Fans of the original Mamma Mia will not be disappointed with the sequel. There. I've said it. It's crazy to think we've waited ten years for the sequel but the wait was worth it. Many of us have probably seen a live show or two, went to the cinema a few times and have a well worn DVD at home so you will thoroughly enjoy the sequel. 

So, the basic plot. Through a series of flashbacks we learn the story of Donna (Meryl Streep), how she came to the Greek island of Kalokairi and how she met Bill (Stellan Skarsgård),  Harry (Colin Firth)  and my favourite of the guys, even though he cannot sign at all is Sam (played by Irish man Pierce Brosnan )

At the age of 65, Pierce still does it for me anyway, seen on the very right of course...

(source - HERE)

The three younger actors chosen to play the roles of Bill (Josh Dylan) , Harry (Hugh Skinner) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) were also very good but the stand out "young" character was without a doubt Lily James playing the young Donna.

However, most people's fave stars (but not mine) are: 

Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan, Donna’s 25-year-old daughter, Sam’s stepdaughter/possible daughter, Sky’s wife, Ruby’s granddaughter and possible daughter of Bill and Harry.

And last but not least Cher playing the role of Ruby Sheridan (Sophie's Grandmother).

The soundtrack, is of course brilliant, although fair-weather fans of ABBA won't recognise lot of the tracks, the original Mamma Mia reprised all of ABBA Gold, whereas this outing introduces a more varied back catalogue. This will of course only catapult some unknown songs back into the public domain and news that Cher will release an ABBA covers album was well received. (more HERE).

Overall, what can you say about this movie except you will leave the cinema with a huge smile on your face. My favourite two characters are those of Rosie and Tanya. If Julie Walters & Christine Baranski fail to bring a smile to your face well then you must either be dead or have had as much surgery on your face as Cher. 

(Oh no, I've said it. Yes I love Cher, but no way does she look like that at 72 years of age without some help.)

The present day plot deals with Sophie's story, rebuilding the hotel, meeting all the old gang and dealing with her pregnancy. As for a rating, all the die hard fans would give it a ten out of ten, me I'll give it 9 out of 10 stars. It falls down on plot, but the smile on your face makes up for that. Get out and see it as soon as you can.

John The Captain Ryan

Friday, 13 July 2018

Skyscraper (movie review)

Skyscaper is a modern day melange of some of our favourite movies, The Towering Inferno, Die Hard and throw in a little homage to Enter the Dragon and how can you fail. Oh God...

So, the plot. We follow the story of Will Sawyer (DwayneJohnson), a former FBI agent who must rescue his family from a newly built skyscraper–the tallest in the world–after it is taken over by terrorists and set on fire. 

So, ok, a remake of The Towering Inferno (kind-of). Whilst I really like the Rock in Rampage and Jumanji; I’m afraid this is not a Rock solid performance as the movie is full of clichés and “cliff-hanging” jumps and feats of agility and strength. The element of comedy we got in both Rampage & Jumanji don’t exist and as the movie is a PG/12 cert, obviously aimed at families, it needs to have a little bit of comedy to lighten the story. Give me Steve McQueen & Paul Newman any day.

Ok then, it fails as a remake of the Towering Inferno. It’s kind of a bit like Die Hard also. Well yes, terrorists blowing up a building and there is only one man that can stop them. That’s more like it. The special effects are awesome and seamless as we expect from block buster movies these days. We have lots of loud explosions, gruesome fight scenes (unfortunately Disneyfied ... see my rant here about that) and a fast flowing story so these elements work well. However, Die Hard is a far better movie and whilst a nearly shirtless Bruce Willis doesn’t have the build of Dwayne Johnson he’s more realistic. 

There are a lot of similarities between Die Hard and Skyscaper and that’s not a bad thing. I was expecting an exclamation of Yippie Kai Aye (or however you spell it) and it’s one cliché that would have brought a smile to my face. To keep it PG there would have been no need to say the MF bit.

My favourite part, and it was foreshadowed at the start of the movie was the virtual reality room at the top of the skyscraper. Using a gazillion high-tech flat screens and multiple cameras a virtual mirror room can be created. This is, obviously a homage to the awesomeness of Bruce Lee and Enter the Dragon. 

An iconic movie coupled with the skill and fighting abilities of Bruce Lee have never been matched in martial arts movies. At the end of the movie Bruce is chasing down the villain and of course intends to kill him. The realness of these scenes, with over 800 mirrors was so disorientating the actors and crew couldn’t stay on the set for more than 15 minutes at a time without getting sick. 

The final fight scenes in Skyscraper don’t even come close to the finale of Enter the Dragon but it’s not a bad attempt. It’s a tall order, even if you are Dwayne Johnson, all 6 foot, four inches in height and over 200 pounds to match up with Bruce Lee. Hint. He doesn’t.  

Considering how difficult it is to make an original movie these days, we often get remakes, reboots and retelling of previous movies and stories. This is not a bad thing if done correctly. Unfortunately Skyscaper has too much going on and is just trying too hard. It fails as a reboot of Towering Inferno or Die Hard. The only successful part is the mirror room battle at the end and the one joke of “if Duck Tape isn’t working, you’re not using enough”. I give Skyscaper 6 planets out of 10. Too many clichés, lacking originality and  not enough comedy for a family movie.

John The Captain Ryan

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Fashion & Fat Shaming from an Irish Gay Mans Perspective.

Firstly, answer me this... When did we start using the term FAT SHAMING instead of BULLYING. Because that's what it is. 

So, you've probably seen this t-shirt and read a few articles about it. I'm intentionally NOT mentioning or linking to the merchant of this product because it will get their website more hits, but you get the idea. Let me tell you this,  if I saw someone wearing this item of "fashion" on the high street they'd be getting a piece of my mind.

For many years, I and lots of my friends have been fighting for equality and dignity. The right to not be attacked and discriminated against because of our sexuality. Lots of us have also fought for the Equality rights of others ( e.g. the Repeal referendum in Ireland a few weeks ago and to release Ibrahim Halawa).

But something insidious has been happening in the LGBT community, and maybe has always happened. We spend an inexorable amount of time ridiculing and chopping each other down. 

From a young age (8 or 9) I was always bullied in school. Not because I was gay but because I was overweight. There has NEVER been a time in my life where I have been the "perfect" weight. And let's call it for what it is.

It's BULLYING. Plain and simple.

It's not Fat Shaming... like somehow you are going to help by shaming the person to lose weight...
It's not banter or "bants"...
It's not having a laugh...

Neither is it because the person is STUPID, UGLY, LAZY, not into SPORTS or INACTIVE. I am none of these things.

So, fashion in the Gay community. Yah. That's great fun. The stereotypical flamboyant gay, flapping his wrist, half carrying/covering his ass with a 28 inch waist & 6 pack has no problem buying trendy fashionable clothes off the rack.

Go into any high street store. Jeans stop at 36 inches. They might have a 38 or 40 inch behind the counter or hidden in the store room because fatties aren't supposed to be able to buy jeans but you have to go and ask. Ya, lets make the overweight guy stand out even more. Then you go into the shop where they have perfect sized sales assistants who you just know are going to laugh their heads off when you dejectedly skulk from the store realising that the largest jeans they have on offer might just about traverse one of you arms.

Very few stores in Ireland stock any of the popular brands like Levi, Wrangler or Ben Sherman in large sizes and let's face it, these brands are American, they must come in fat bastard size.

Here's where it gets worse in my opinion. We are faced with a ubiquitous amount of dating apps. Over 20 years ago in Ireland, LGBT singles (and some couples) used yahoo chat groups. Remember them. Then on a really slow dial-up around 15 years ago we started to use Gaydar. Since then we have GrindR, Squirt, Hornet, Scruff, Growlr, and even Recon for those with a kink or fetish.  Great you might think to yourself. 


This is just more opportunity for those perfectly formed, ab growing, white skinned, hair quaffed pretty boy to post up their dislikes. No fatties, No fems, No chocolate (aka black people) , No rice (oriental people), No gingers. The list is never ending. But what is amazing is how they are comfortable openly listing the way in which they are happy to discriminate and bully other gay people. Where do they get off with this attitude. Without that butch queen, the flamboyant fem and the obnoxious drag queen fighting for their rights, they wouldn't have the World to live in that they have today. 

But let's get back to fashion and who is to blame. I don't blame the fashion industry. No, really, I don't. 

I blame the shop owners, retail chains and store buyers for not demanding larger sizes for their rails. 

I want to be able to walk into a store and grab a few things off the rack and try them on. Find stuff that fits me well and just buy them. Yes, I still have to get my jeans taken up because I have a 27 inch inside leg but that I can live with that. I never pass by a Burton's without going in because I can always find stuff to fit me there. Last year I even bought a suit for an interview OFF THE RACK! 

Burton's in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre is great. 

But for my final rant.


If I ever find them, I will have to go up to them on street and give them a piece of my mind also. It's all fine and good if you are a stick person but trying to wedge my legs into a skinny jeans that actually happens to have 40 inch waist just doesn't work. My large foot won't even go half way down the leg. (and you know what they say about big feet).  There has been a huge amount of work done promoting larger sizes for women and the same needs to be done for men. 

Finally, there is a happy ending. I found a lovely group of gays in Dublin that organise social nights. The Dublin Bears. They are a great group of guys who don't make fun of each other and when we go out, we have enough stamina and girth to outlast, out dance and out strut all those skinny little twinks that prance around pretending to be Gods gift. I've often said to people "Find Your Tribe" and these are one of the most genuine friendly tribes in the Gay community in Ireland. 

The Dublin Bears had a bus at pride this year with some of the hottest guys in the parade...

And, this is a picture of me... 

Me on the left, 2 friends in the middle and my hubby Noel on the right. Pride for me is all about being proud about who and what I am. Suspenders are trendy these days so at least I was wearing one fashionable thing. (Don't tell anyone, I've been wearing them for years because they are more comfortable than a belt)

Toodles for now.

John the Captain Ryan.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Judging a Creative Writing Competition.

Over the next few weeks I will be one of five people judging the entries to the Wexworlds creative writing competition. All details of the competition are HERE. I've come up with the following guideline to help all of us to short list the entries:

1. Each entry will be read by at least two judges

2. Each entry will be marked out of 100 points as follows:

Completeness – (Marks out of 30 points).
IS the story complete, does it have a beginning, middle and end. Does the punctuation, paragraph spacing and spelling help the story flow and enhance the clarity, meaning and movement of the piece.

Originality and Style – (Marks out of 30 points).
DOES the story have a unique style and is it original. Does it have a fresh point of view and is it a page turner. Is it descriptive. As it is a short story, choice and economy of words is very important so are the choices made precise and evocative. 

Realness and Impact – (Marks out of 30 points).
AS a work of fantasy/sci-fi/horror, is there a realness. Does the reader get sucked into the World that the author has created. What is the lasting impression of the story, Does the language create a rich or broad sensory appeal.

The X Factor – (Marks out of 10 points).
This is where the judge has free reign to award extra points for a special or amazing submission.

Judges after marking take notes to remind themselves of the submission. Judges will not know who else will read the submission and how the other judge will mark until all submissions have been read and they compare notes. We have started reading already even though the closing date is not until 31st July 2018. We are expecting to receive over 100 submissions and are really exciting to see what will be on offer.

Find out more about Wexworlds on their WEBSITE and FACEBOOK and any queries email wexworlds@gmail.com.

John The Captain Ryan

Monday, 9 July 2018

Release by Patrick Ness (Book Review).

A poignant story of loss and rebirth.

This is another very successful book by Patrick Ness. He writes a story about Adam Thorn, who is the preacher’s disappointing gay second son, constantly told he’s never good enough and always questioned why can’t he be more like his “perfect” older brother currently studying to following in his father’s footsteps.

On the Saturday during which the book’s action takes place, Adam, crossing paths and swords with friends, employers, family and lovers, will experience revelations, attend a farewell party, and reshape his life.

This is intertwined with a story about an otherworldly Queen; who becomes entwined with the soul of a murdered girl, and moves through our reality, seeking answers and revenge, with a naked 7ft faun as her companion. Unfortunately, this part of the story will put off some readers and truth be told it didn’t work for me either. Yes, it’s written very well, switching from one storyline to the other is done well, but, it just doesn’t belong in the story. I would prefer to have two separate books telling both stories (and I would read both no problem).

Adam’s tale, the important one is a story of change, loss and moving on (which is mirrored in the other story). His ex-boyfriend, Enzo, is leaving town. And we all know that first love is hard to get over and there’s always a part of that person in your heart. His older “Perfect” brother gets a girl pregnant (out of wedlock...oh the sin, what will the neighbours say) AND Adam’s boss is a slime-ball who comes on to him and when Adam rebuts the advancement gets fired. Adam’s best friend Angela is leaving town and the World is just falling apart around him.

“Everything was so clear in books and movies. Everyone always knew their reasons. But real life was such a mess”

The book is really well written, (I’d expect nothing else from Patrick Ness) and the acknowledgement that normal life is a mess unlike movies & books makes the ending more poignant. At the end (not to give too much away) Adam starts makes his way out of the maze, and figures out how to be strong and assertive. Again, like the story of the Queen and her release of the murdered girl’s soul, Adam learns to release his anxieties and a new romance starts to blossom. His family life still isn’t resolved but with Adam’s new found strength and finding of himself the reader is left with little doubt that he will be ok.

I give this book an 8 out of 10 planets because the side story should be just taken out.

You can read more about Patrick Ness here and you can find him on facebook.

John The Captain Ryan

IT, Chapter 2. (movie review)

After a 2 year wait we finally get to see what happens to the LOSERS. (source  fortniteinsider )  IT's been a long time coming, ...