Entertainment in Hindsight: Summer 2017

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With quite a few brand new releases, festivals, shows, and naturally quite a few reviews, we’ve had a fruity summer. I mean, we had a fruity summer. Because today is officially the last day of Summer 2017 *sobs*. Now, before we start preparing for a new university year (and September looks to be just as entertaining), it seems only right to take a look at what we thought were the best releases of this summer, as well as the ones that haven’t quite lived up to the hype.

Culture

Stomp at the Mayflower Theatre 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: LOVETheatre

Even if it doesn’t really fit the classic definition of a theatre show with no storyline and no dialogue, Stomp is incredibly entertaining, requiring immense focus, and huge amounts of work from the performers. With the presence of talent, rhythm, and interaction with the audience, Stomp shows how beautifully diverse theatre can be.

“Somehow, it seemed that they were able to control all of the elements, even gravity itself. There were multiple scenes in which they would drum on buckets with sticks and then throw them to another performer, the next person hitting on the next beat. How they defied the laws of physics and nature to not miss a single beat, I really don’t know, but it was captivating to witness.” Rehana Nurmahi

See our full review here.

Game of Thrones, Season 7 – 4🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 & 3🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: HBO

The penultimate season or Game of Thrones ended only a few days ago, after seven episodes that marked a shift in the pacing of the action and brought together Ice and Fire (as well as almost every major character left on the show). In many ways, this season is different to the previous ones, being the embodiment of the fans’ undelivered wishes – a fact which was thought as both exciting and a bit off-putting at times.

“To those criticising the show and brandishing it as a shell of its former self, I present to you exhibit a, ‘The Dragon and The Wolf’, aka possibly Season 7’s best episode and a reminder to all of us as to what makes the show so great. (…)It’s been an odd season, but ‘The Dragon and The Wolf’ caps it off as it should; this is to the point, logical storytelling that works a treat. The end is coming and it’s never felt this epic.” David Mitchell-Baker

See a general outline, as well as links to our full reviews here.

Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Playstation Inc./Vicarious Visions/Naughty Dog

Even if his answer to the question ‘was all the wait worth it?’ was “a difficult maybe”, our reviewer still thought the Crash Bandicoot remaster was awesome. With great graphics, the ability to play with Coco Bandicoot for the majority of the game, and an air of nostalgia (with a few “niggles” as well), Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy is a very entertaining game.

” It all looks very sharp and sleek, obviously using the Playstation 4’s graphic rendering capabilities to the absolute maximum. The remastered sound retains the nostalgically whimsical platforming atmosphere, but the more powerful sound system means that the powerful fanfares and sound effects really come to the fore.” Robert Pratley

See our full review here.

Joss Stirling – Peril 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Joss Stirling

A dystopian novel written by an author who hadn’t tried the genre before, Peril is centred on a love story set in a world where climate change is something that happened, rather than a looming threat starting to show its teeth. Written in a simplistic yet engaging manner, the novel’s main focus is on its three-dimensional main characters and their struggles.

Peril is a gripping young-adult take on dystopian fiction, which places the classic forbidden love story in a wholly new setting.  From the first page to the last, I put the book down once and wanted to immediately begin the second book (not yet written) when I finished.  I would recommend it – and any of Joss Stirling’s novels – to anybody who is looking for a light read with a deeper subtext.” Katja Stout

See our full review here.

The Let Down: The Defenders, Season 1

Credit: Screen Rant/ Netflix

The Defenders is far from terrible, but being serviceable isn’t enough for such a highly anticipated all-star team-up. As well as taking an age to unite the four heroes, it never manages to establish a threat that makes their assembly feel necessary in the first place. Announced back in 2013, The Defenders fails to meet the insane amount of hype built around it.” Josh Nicholson

“My main issue is that, a quarter of the way through and The Defenders still feels like prologue, positioning characters ever closer, and still finding a way to make The Hand feel like a threat. Furthermore, beyond Daredevil’s fight at the start, and the fight between Cage and Iron Fist at the end, it feels like the only person doing anything of note is Jessica Jones, which is odd when so much time is spent with other characters.” Sam Law

Records

Lorde – Melodrama  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Universal

‘A ridiculously powerful and emotional album’, Lorde’s second release wowed with very mature lyrics which tackle various aspects of life, from self-confidence to heartbreak, recovery and loneliness, as well a different sound to what can usually be heard in the pop charts.

“It’s one of those [albums]where you just need to turn it off sometimes because it’s speaking to you too much. There’s too much truth to it, the heartbreak is palpable and it makes your own heart hurt a little bit… just me? I wish I was as able to put my emotions into words like Lorde can. If this is the quality of her at 20, I’m so excited to see what’s to come.” Carly-May Kavanagh

See our full review here.

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark? 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Perou

British duo Royal Blood did a brilliant job with their second album, putting themselves on the map as an ‘absolute rock’ sensation. With intense riffs, Kerr’s thrilling screams and Thatcher’s heavy drums, Royal Blood have a lot of fun in the darkness in which they don’t know how they got.

“Unafraid to go that little bit heavier in their search for that perfect motif or drum beat, and with the ability to craft absolute monsters for the festival fields, there’s no sign that the British rock flag-bearers have any intentions of slowing down. So, how did they get so dark? Well, who really cares, when dark sounds this good?” Sam Law

See our full review here.

BROCKHAMPTON – SATURATION 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Ryan Bahan

Hip-hop boyband BROCKHAMPTON’s album is a solid debut that comes as a refreshment for modern hip-hop. It impresses with contrasting diversity, having aggressive tracks with quirky lyrics, as well as tracks that display an emotional side and a more groovy side of the band.

“In a post 808s & Heartbreak era of hip-hop, BROCKHAMPTON provide perhaps the strongest and freshest take on this newer style that isn’t from someone named Kendrick Lamar, the fact that the group numbers at over a half-dozen is a testament to the phenomenal chemistry of the new young bucks. You’ll be hard pressed to find a project this year that is as ambitious, yet as complete as SATURATION. Enjoyable, powerful, catchy, touching – it does it all.” David Mitchell-Baker

See our full review here

Mura Masa – Mura Masa 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Chuff Media

Electronic young artist Alex Crossan’s first major full-length album is a thrilling, star-studded record, featuring collaborations with very different artists that are glued together by his work. His vision is unique and easily felt in all of the tracks, regardless of their vocalists, with instrumentals that include harp runs, bass guitar, Auto-Tune, and a passionate tone.

“Whether it’s coercing Desiigner on ‘All Around The World’ into unintelligibly gibbering over a flute on an ad-lib-laden three minutes of excitement and alien structure, employing a harsher retro synth edge on ‘NOTHING ELSE!’ behind Jamie Lidell’s infatuated strut, flipping a resounding bird to responsibility and a healthy relationship with NatWest as NAO-signed newcomer Tom Tripp sings the disoriented Breakfast Club shuffle soundtrack of ‘helpline,’ or closing the record by way of ‘Blu,’ a gentle, washy duet with Albarn, Crossan’s work never fails to exquisitely complement those that join it.” Xavier Voigt-Hill

See our full review here.

The Let Down: Imagine Dragons – Evolve 🌟🌟

Credit: Eliot Lee Hazel

American band Imagine Dragons’ third album is one of the biggest let-downs of the summer, being a far cry from their debut album from four years ago, Night Visions. The record features broad songs, both lyrically and musically, without refreshing the band’s sound in any way.

“Imagine Dragons are now so set in their ways that they’re almost past the point of genuine criticism. They’re the Transformers of music, a comparison made all the more appropriate given that a bonus track from their 2015 album Smoke & Mirrors appeared in Trans4mers’ soundtrack. You know what you’re getting, and you know if it’ll work for you. For what it’s worth, this is far from the most tiresome Pop/Rock album released this year; yet it’s quite possibly the most forgettable and anodyne.” George Seabrook

See our full review here.


Film

Baby Driver 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Wilson Webb

Edgar Wright’s self-written and directed thriller is one of the most original films around, featuring wonderful performances from an all-star cast, a great plot, and the most ingenious use of soundtrack ever. With a contrast of very intense, violent scenes, and more light-hearted, funnier ones, with a sincere love story on top, Baby Driver is a brilliant cinematic effort.

“From start to finish Baby Driver has a fantastic soundtrack. Whilst with most films this would normally be a secondary feature, with Baby Driver it is the centrepiece of the film, with the soundtrack at times dictating the mood, the action and the performances. (…) A fun, action-packed thrill ride, it is a great film which has been brilliantly put together by director Edgar Wright. Baby Driver‘s wonderfully incorporated soundtrack and upbeat tone make it a must-see.” Tom Wilmot

See our full review here.

Spider-Man: Homecoming 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Chuck Zlotnick

Even if many thought it would be just another Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a very welcome and refreshing installment of the franchise. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is a high-school student, just like in the comics, dealing with his newly acquired powers while mentored by Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man in a genuinely funny manner.

“The best part about the film is how simply, yet elegantly funny it is. There were few gags that didn’t raise at least a smile. (…) It feels as though Marvel has got its groove back after the middling Doctor Strange and underwhelming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Spider-Man is back where he belongs – with Marvel, and on our screens.” Ellis Murrell

See our full review here.

War for the Planet of the Apes 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel is a jaw-dropping installment with a brilliant plot and three-dimensional characters. “The Dark Knight of the Apes saga” has huge questions at its core, touching upon life-defining themes such as family, responsibility, and humanity.

“War for the Planet of the Apes stands as a brilliant piece of cinematic expertise, showcases Reeves’ distinct and mature indulgence as a writer and director, and, over 24 hours, several impassioned conversations, and 1 review later, has still left me in the same state: H-o-l-y shit.” Sophie Trenear

See our full review here.

Dunkirk 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Christopher Nolan’s film is possibly the most original war film out there, depicting a real event of war like it was experienced by 400,000 people. With three main storylines that are tied together at the end, Dunkirk is a very intense film with some subtle yet brilliant performances.

“Dunkirk is a different kind of war movie. Rather than focus on individual heroes and acts of valour, it captures both the horrors of war, through sequences in which men are essentially picked off, as well as the spirit of people that is shown through both the civilian sailors and the camaraderie between the soldiers.” Tom Wilmot

See our full review here.

The Let Down: The Dark Tower 🌟🌟

Credit: Ilze Kitshoff

The adaptation of Stephen King’s novels definitely did not live up to the expectations set by King’s compelling storytelling. Its plot lacks the complexity and the cohesiveness of the books, failing to give justifications and background to many aspects of the film’s universe, ending up being nothing more than an ordinary family friendly action film.

The Dark Tower could have been incredible, but once again Hollywood has failed its audience and every element of the film could be improved, perhaps except the casting of big name actors. By making it “blockbuster”, they’ve succeeded in creating a pitiful adaptation out of a narrative gold mine.” Lisa Veiber

See our full review here.


Live

Community Festival (1st July) – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Sarah Bennett

“The newest festival to grace the London scene was set to be an impressive day as it was run by the well-known Festival Republic who are the masterminds behind Reading & Leeds, Wireless, and Latitude to name but a few. With its stellar line up and prime location, it’s no wonder the festival sold out. But what it may lack for in presence in the festival circuit, it makes up for with ambition and lasting impact.”

“As important as the main stage is for any festival, what really made Community Festival was the second stage, N4. It held modest crowds throughout the day who were all evidently lovers and enthusiastic supporters of upcoming musicians.”  Imogen Arthur

See our full review here.

2000trees (6th–8th July) – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: 2000trees/ Dominic Meason

“Landing firmly on its feet in the middle of a heat wave, this year’s 2000trees was an absolute scorcher. With bands for every niche of the alternative scene, mouth-watering food stands on every corner, and a whole host of entertainment for the masses, it wasn’t just the weather that was on point: the 11th iteration of the festival proved to be as big and brash as ever.”

“2000trees served up a serious array of all things alternative over its three-day runtime, with everything from black metal to country celebrated in one big amalgamation of talented bands from across the globe. With the little festival in the heart of the countryside getting bigger and more impressive every year, they have a lot to live up to in 2018” Ashleigh Millman

See our full reviews here, here, and here.

Secret Garden Party (20th–23rd July) – 2🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 & 1🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Secret Garden Party/ Justine Trickett

“The Great Stage really was something else at night; the setup and lighting of the area itself were wondrous enough, with the giant flowers that surrounded it lit in different colours and the mismatched Secret Garden Party letters above the stage were brightly illuminated.”

“Overall, Secret Garden Party was a truly magnificent event and one of the best festivals that I’ve ever attended. There was a real sense of liberation and inclusion there, and it’s a garden party that undoubtedly will be missed by all those who have attended it over the years. May its legacy live in forever – because it really is one Serious Party.” Maddi Howell 

See our full reviews here, here, and here

Tom Clarke at The Engine Rooms, Southampton 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Credit: Tom Langford

“Full of the energy of a gig from The Enemy, Tom Clarke turned The Engine Rooms into an acoustic singalong and it was, as expected, an incredible and emotional evening.”

“Tom came on stage to a sold-out venue, launching straight into the album with ‘Aggro’. There were frequent bursts of chanting, “Now this song, is about is about is about you” which happened at near enough every gig, especially during their final tour, and Tom couldn’t have looked more emotional or excited to be playing the songs if he’d tried.”

“Chants of the ‘This Song’ chorus continued long after he left the stage, as everyone left with the sound of Coventry’s disillusionment ringing in their ears and a promise for Tom to return.” Carly-May Kavanagh

See our full review here.

The Let Down: None! Our writers love their gigs – nothing bad about that, right?

Check out more of our reviews for top entertainment picks, and come back in September for more fun! 

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