Category: Opinion


monkeyhorse4

We at Floptajoe.com don’t claim to be experts when it comes to the sport of kings, but on the back of four profitable Cheltenham festivals in a row, we decided to make our selections available to our adoring public.

The team have painstakingly trawled through hundreds of back-alley tipping sites, listened to the jockeys and stalked the trainers to bring you the best and most profitable tips for free!

As the Cheltenham festival progresses, we’ll keep you up to date with real-time tweets on @Floptajoe and will be updating this blog to keep track of how we’re doing.

We said Day Three would be different, it was worse again. It’s been one of those weeks where nothing is going right.

Here’s where the remaining pennies are going today!

DAY FOUR  – Friday, March 14th

1.30 – TRIUMPH HURDLE

  • Guitar Pete – E/W –  9/1 

2.05 – COUNTY HURDLE

  •  Upazo – E/W – 33/1

2.40 – ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE

  • King’s Palace – WIN – 3/1 

3.20 – CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

  • Bob’s worth – WIN – 7/4 – Last Instalment is 10/1  if you’re looking for value!

4.00 – FOXHUNTERS’ CHASE

  • Bertie’s Dream – E/W – 16/1 

4.40 – MARTIN PIPE HANDICAP HURDLE

  • Vieux Lion Rouge – E/W – 15/2 

5.15 – GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE

  • Ned Buntline – E/W – 7/1

***** Best of luck! *****

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

*Prices are correct at time of posting, as always, never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Advertisements

MonkeyHorse3

We at Floptajoe.com don’t claim to be experts when it comes to the sport of kings, but on the back of four profitable Cheltenham festivals in a row, we decided to make our selections available to our adoring public.

The team have painstakingly trawled through hundreds of back-alley tipping sites, listened to the jockeys and stalked the trainers to bring you the best and most profitable tips for free!

As the Cheltenham festival progresses, we’ll keep you up to date with real-time tweets on @Floptajoe and will be updating this blog to keep track of how we’re doing.

We said Day Two would be different, it was worse. Our only comfort is that no one else seems to be doing any better!

Maybe we should stop calling them ‘tips’ and refer to them as ‘suggestions’ but having said that, Thursday’s betting should improve things.

 

DAY THREE  – Thursday, March 13th

1.30 – JLT NOVICES CHASE

  • Wonderful Charm – E/W –  11/2 – Difficult to go against Felix Yonger, but we’re really confident in this horse at the business end of the race.

2.05 – PERTEMPS FINAL H’CAP HURDLE

  •  Uncle Jimmy – E/W – 20/1 – A lot of contenders here, Uncle Jimmy is a crazy price though and should be there or thereabouts.

2.40 – RYANAIR CHASE

  • Benefficient – E/W – 4/1 – Great horse and amid doubts about Dynaste, it has to be the obvious choice.

3.20 – WORLD HURDLE

  • Annie Power – WIN – 6/4 – Can’t look beyond this selection here. If you don’t fancy the short odds, take a look at Salubrious at 25/1.

4.00 – BYRNE GROUP PLATE

  • Tap Night – E/W – 12/1 – Cracking horse, strong contender.

4.40 – KIM MUIR HANDICAP CHASE

  • Causes As Causes – E/W – 7/1 – Narrowly beaten in last two races but looks to be showing some real form.

5.15 – CHARITY RACE

  • No idea here, won’t be backing this unless we have some serious winnings from the previous races. 

***** Watch out for Day Four coming soon. Best of luck! *****

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

*Prices are correct at time of posting, as always, never bet more than you can afford to lose.

horsemonkey-day2

We at Floptajoe.com don’t claim to be experts when it comes to the sport of kings, but on the back of four profitable Cheltenham festivals in a row, we decided to make our selections available to our adoring public.

The team have painstakingly trawled through hundreds of back-alley tipping sites, listened to the jockeys and stalked the trainers to bring you the best and most profitable tips for free!

As the Cheltenham festival progresses, we’ll keep you up to date with real-time tweets on @Floptajoe and will be updating this blog to keep track of how we’re doing.

It was a rough first day with only one win and two places to our name so far. Assuming you placed a significant amount on the Quevega sure thing (as I did), you should be breaking even and ready to reinvest again!

Day two will be different.

DAY TWO  – Wednesday, March 12th

1.30 – NEPTUNE NOVICES’ HURDLE

  • Red Sherlock – WIN –  4/1 – Temperamental horse with a great record. Short price so you may consider Shanahan’s Turn as a cheeky each-way option at 50/1.

2.05 – RSA CHASE

  •  Ballycasey – E/W – 5/1 – A Ruby ride here and should win.

2.40 – CORAL CUP HANDICAP HURDLE

  • Sadler’s Risk – E/W – 25/1 – Difficult race to call, of the shorter prices I would consider Bayan the one to beat at 10/1.

3.20 – QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE

  • Captain Conan – E/W – 5/1 – Best bet of today, can’t see this losing. Kid Cassidy is an excellent each-way 11/1 option too.

4.00 – X COUNTRY HANDICAP CHASE

  • Big Shu – E/W – 5/1 – Consistency is the word here. Will be there come the end and has the experience to win it.

4.40 – FRED WINTER HANDICAP HURDLE

  • Violet Dancer – E/W – 20/1 – Bit of a lottery here, but this horse has been targeting this race for a long time.

5.15 – CHAMPION BUMPER

  • Our Kaempfer – E/W – 25/1 – Another long-odds punt, bit of luck and this horse could figure.

***** Watch out for Day Three coming soon. Best of luck! *****

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

*Prices are correct at time of posting, as always, never bet more than you can afford to lose.

horse1b

We at Floptajoe.com don’t claim to be experts when it comes to the sport of kings, but on the back of four profitable Cheltenham festivals in a row, we decided to make our selections available to our adoring public.

The team have painstakingly trawled through hundreds of back-alley tipping sites, listened to the jockeys and stalked the trainers to bring you the best and most profitable tips for free!

As the Cheltenham festival progresses, we’ll keep you up to date with real-time tweets on @Floptajoe and will be updating this blog to keep track of how we’re doing.

Enjoy the festival!

DAY ONE  – Tuesday, March 11th

1.30 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

  • Wicklow Brave – E/W –  13/2 – Favourites never win this race, and it is a large field. This highly rated horse will be in contention at the end and may be worth backing each-way at this price though his jumping is a concern.

2.05 – Arkle Chase

  •  Trifolium – WIN – 5/1 – Champagne Fever will be well backed on reputation alone. We stuck a few bob on Mozoltov antepost but hopes are slim at this stage as he’s no longer in this race! Trifolium looks a real prospect here.

2.40 – Baylis & Harding Handicap Chase

  • Time For Rupert – E/W – 25/1 – Always drawn towards Alfie Sherrin come festival time but Time For Rupert is great value here and has an excellent weight advantage.

3.20 – Champion Hurdle

  • Our Conor – WIN – 4/1Hurricane Fly is highly fancied as usual, but this is Our Conor‘s best opportunity to come out on top and who can forget his performance in the Triumph Hurdle last year?

4.00 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

  • Quevega – WIN – 4/6 – This doesn’t really qualify as a tip, so you may look for the each-way option here. We’re going for L’Unique at a tasty 25/1. Quevega will make history this year.

4.40 – National Hunt Chase

  • Suntiep – E/W – 8/1 – Can’t see any obvious winners in this group, but we like this horse and would expect a top 2/3 finish at least.

5.15 – Rewards4Racing Novices Handicap Chase

  • Festive Affair – E/W – 12/1 – Incredibly open field here, worth a small stakes punt.

***** Day 2 *****

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

Check out our friends at BookieInsiders.co for even more tips!

*Prices are correct at time of posting, as always, never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Spacewalk in the park.

Spacewalk in the park.

G R A V I T Y

★★★★☆

Released: June 2013
Certificate: 12A
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

[THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS]

We’ve finally reached the point where CG looks real. Peter Jackson’s studio claimed we had reached that level 12 years ago during production of the  Lord of the Rings trilogy, but technology has moved on significantly and the odd cartoonish bit we all pretend not to see would not now be forgiven.

Gravity could not have been produced on the same scale until now, and the effect is genuinely awesome to behold. Spiraling and spinning, moving sickeningly from every conceivable angle over alarming distances, the viewer becomes immersed in space.

Every now and then it would shift – in manic computer game style – to the astronaut’s perspective which added to the feeling of sheer terror.

The effects take centre stage, and that’s just as well.

The story is secondary but simple –  Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) goes on her first mission into space to fix a radio (or something), the shuttle is hit by debris and she must make it back to earth alone.

George Clooney plays the experienced brave, doomed, smart-alecky mission Lieutenant Matt Kowalski and most of the dialogue is between these two characters.

Their relationship and the script are rather disappointingly obvious. The by-the-numbers writing comes close to ruining the experience in that it’s neither boring enough to be the speech of dull space people nor interesting enough to engage us. Every anecdote or comment is called back later on almost by rote to remind us we’re watching someone’s composition.

“Hope I get to break Anatoly Solovyev’s spacewalk record.”

“Looks like I’ll have to break Anatoly Solovyev’s spacewalk record another time.”

“At appears as though I’ll break Anatoly Solovyev’s spacewalk record after all.”

As is often the case, the use of mega-famous actors  means that the viewer may end up empathizing less than they could have with unknowns. Much of this reviewer’s time was spent thinking ‘SANDRA-BULLOCK-IN-SPACE-SANDRA-BULLOCK-IN-SPACE-SANDRA-BULLOCK-IN-SPACE’ which meant I couldn’t really take her seriously.

But that’s my own bias.

Gravity is an extraordinary film despite it’s shortcomings and definitely worth the price of admission for the effects alone. However, like space, there’s very little weight to anything here.

Read more film reviews – HERE


Supe2

Man of Steel

Released: June 2013
Certificate: 12A
Director: Zack Snyder

[THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS]

The origin story everyone knows has just been retold. This wasn’t done in the tender fulfilling way the trailer suggested it would be, instead, we’re assaulted by incomprehensible action from the very beginning.

It appears as though the creators were concerned about recreating the dire Superman Returns and attempted to make this film as exciting as possible. There are no peaks and troughs, this venture begins with the destruction of a planet and takes it from there.

General Zod (Michael Shannon) suffers from a similar problem with his temper. He begins the film (on Krypton) boiling with an incandescent rage, travels several light-years presumably quietly discussing his plans with his comrades, then arrives at earth more furious than ever. It’s a wonder his minions show him such devotion as he’s surely quite difficult to live with.

Since almost everyone has superpowers, no one can take a punch. Each blow launches the punchee hundreds of feet into something destructible from which they later emerge unharmed. At no stage do the characters realise this and punching continues to be the attack method of choice throughout.

I was surprised to learn that one can get bored of seeing someone thrown into a building which then either explodes or slowly collapses. It’s never been tested before, but my limit appears to be eight.

Nor do characters develop as you might hope. Zod is angry, Clark is boring, Lois is inquisitive but keeps Clark’s secret for some reason, Clark’s mum is sad, Clark’s dad is cautious/heroic/dead. The Daily Planet staff work hard and forget to evacuate.

Possibly the most tortured and interesting character is in fact Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) who continuously warns his son against doing things which could reveal his powers – even if it means innocent people have to die. This dynamic looks to have potential until the poor man is killed while rescuing a dog from a tornado.

Martha must feel pretty guilty about sending him back for that dog…every time she looks into it’s little face…

Remarkably, with all the money thrown at this film there only seem to be a handful of people around when anything happens. Did the writers think we’d be confused by any more than that?

Examples: The FBI/army guy is in the arctic, then in Kansas driving a truck having a knife-fight, then flying a plane in Metropolis having a knife-fight.  Lois (Amy Adams) is summoned to Zod’s ship with Superman for no discernible reason, (unless it’s for the crime of wearing high-heels in a desert!) later she races faster-than-a-speeding-bullet to see Superman defeat Zod despite the duo covering hundreds of miles and destroying countless skyscrapers in their epic showdown. This is a battle only the main staff at The Daily Planet emerge to witness – in a city of millions.

The single most important role in humanity’s defence of earth is that of Token Scientist played by Richard Schiff. He immediately understands all of the alien technology as soon as he sees it. He is also omnipresent.

It would be easy to say ‘Henry Cavill is more a Man of Wood, than The Man of Steel‘ but in truth he wasn’t given anything to say. It’s astonishing that Christopher Nolan produced and contributed to the story as this could not be further from his Batman trilogy and I can’t see how they could combine the two characters for a future Justice League film without changes being made.

These are all minor details, but the single greatest insult to the viewing public – and yes I will take it as an insult – is the continuous, emotive music played from beginning to end. Imagine if the frazzled, discerning blockbuster audience were left to figure out how sympathetic they should be feeling or how excited they were supposed to be? It would end in disaster. The theme (good though it is) is played through every conversation, explosion and building collapse creating a fourth wall of noise which distracts and alienates the viewer. It’s papering over irreparable emotional cracks.

Snyder hasn’t learned anything from the new generation of superhero films. It’s got to be dark or funny at the very least, but this is all a bland, cacophonous haze with no hint of humour or depth. You cannot describe these as throwaway action films anymore, the ones that stand out will always be those where the effects are incidental and writing is key.

Once again, the problem with superhero franchises is that you know there will be a Man Of Steel II out in two years time. He’s not going to die in this one, nor will Lois Lane, so where’s the tension? They needed to create a compelling character and make it about them, keep Superman as far away from the plot as possible.

 

 

Click HERE to go to Floptajoe’s Top 10 Superhero Films

Iron Man 3 Review

More suits, more action, moronic.

 Stark reality sets in.

Iron Man 3

Released: May 2013
Certificate: 12A
Director: Shane Black

 

[THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS]

 

Shane Black takes the reins of this third installment of the Iron Man franchise (and indeed the seventh film of producer Kevin Feige’s marvellous vision) to deliver action and quips in equal measure.

The Avengers was a hard act to follow and this being the flagship series in the super franchise, it needs to tread carefully.

Robert Downey Jr plays tormented superhero Tony Stark as he battles the mysterious figure of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).  Struggling to reconcile himself with the horror of the New York invasion (in The Avengers) and his own brush with mortality, he suffers panic attacks and struggles to communicate with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

It’s an interesting development as Iron Man is unique among the current group of Marvel heroes in that he has no combat training or experience (apart from The Hulk who needs none). In The Avengers, Captain America asks if this was the first time he’d lost a soldier, to which he emotionally replies, ‘We are NOT soldiers.’

For a time we see beyond the bravado, but sensitive moments are few and far between once the action sequences begin.

You’d think a multitude of fight scenes interspersed with moments of witty dialogue would be pretty effective, but in the same film they quickly become tired. You gradually lose any concern for the protagonists safety when you can safely assume a super-suit will appear from nowhere just when they need it.

Many will be pleased that Pepper Potts got to play a more significant role, but it was no more than a token effort and she was still reduced to the damsel in distress when it suited.

Shane Black’s last directed film was the wonderfully unorthodox Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which perhaps shows that structure isn’t a priority for him. This film resembles the product of a committee meeting where they’ve picked out five amazing fights, nine jokes and a plot twist before shoehorning them into 130 mins without working out how they can work together. There’s a lot of travel to places where stuff can happen, lots of casual introductions of gadgets which may be useful later and an abundance of CGI bloody robots.

The film begins with irritatingly unnecessary narration and ends with an irritatingly necessary one, not generally a good sign. It was as if they ran out of time and had to tie up the loose ends as the public filed into the cinema – ‘By the way, Pepper had an operation and is no longer composed of fire…oh and that bodyguard from the start of the film is fine too!’.

Having said that, Downey Jr is likeable, Kingsley is funny and Guy Pierce is pleasingly nefarious. The film was enjoyable overall but never reached it’s potential and will not be considered one of the Top 10 Superhero Films. There are enough clever pieces here to make up a good film, it just needed a more ruthless director.

The original Iron Man was simple, a bit small-time and genuinely charming. Dare I say it: A bit stark? The more you blow the audience away, the further they get from you. Before long, they’ve stepped too far back and have begun to see how ludicrous the whole concept is.

 

 

Burt & Anton. You've been wand.

Burt & Anton. You’ve been wand.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Released: March 2013
Certificate: PG
Director: Don Scardino

 

Here we have a famous magician who takes the easy route for a number of years, his performances becoming increasingly stale, until finally he loses the magic that made him great to begin with.

And that’s just Steve Carell.

Was he aware of this allegory as he toiled away at this swollen, weeping sore of a film? Could he have let this go on considering the damage he was doing to his worshipping audience?

The viewer certainly had ample opportunity to ponder such questions between supposedly poignant moments and awkward pauses where the jokes should have been.

This was a non-film. Two magician friends, Burt & Anton (Carell and Steve Buscemi), get bored of performing their show and it stagnates. They then fall out, rediscover their enthusiasm for magic and get together again.  It’s not clear why anyone should be interested.

Flouting convention, the filmmakers  insert a good-looking, tough-talking, independent woman (Olivia Wilde) who is also interested in magic for some reason and dislikes Burt. Oh, those two really hate each other…then they’re in love, without explanation.

Jim Carey pops up as a rival magician and has a couple of funny moments as a suped up David Blaine, but his character outstays his welcome pretty quickly. It would have been far more enjoyable in 2003 when Blaine was topical.

This is an attempt at a Will Ferrell film without him in it, right down to the ‘ludicrous’ premise. Carell performs a Ron Burgundy impression throughout but without a fleshed out supporting cast or any jokes to shout about.  You can almost feel Steve Buscemi straining to run off the set and back onto Boardwalk Empire where he’s respected.

There is a lot of talent in this cast but there really is nothing to work with. You could be more forgiving if it was a film for children, but there are far too many adult references to make it such.

This film is poorly scripted, undirected and just as outdated as the magic show performed by the title character.

There’s no rabbit-out-of-a-hat moment, it’s just hat. 100 mins of hat.

Floptajoe’s Top 10 Superhero Films

MonkeyAvenger2

I realised recently that I’ve seen almost every superhero film ever created. Not unique by any means, but enough of a pretext for an indulgent SKY/E4 style countdown of things I like.

Why should anyone be interested in my opinion? No reason whatsoever.

The problem with superhero films is that the protagonist always survives and it’s a challenge to create any real tension. Bond and Die Hard films suffer from this also, so a stand-out film needs to either subvert the genre or  include a compelling human character and put them in mortal danger.

Looking to court controversy at every turn, I was disappointed to find my list was dominated by Batman films. None of them made No.1 spot though. Special mention for Watchmen which had excellent ideas used by other, better films.

The inclusion of two animated movies is the only real break from the obvious, beginning with:

10. Megamind

Was surprised to have enjoyed this film as much as I did. Will Ferrell’s voice is annoying for the first 10 mins, but the story quickly departs from the norm and explores something new.

9. X-Men: First Class

The first three X-Men films were almost unwatchable, too many dull characters with no screen time to flesh them out. Amazing powers utilized unimaginatively. First Class took a look at other films around at the time and went darker.

8. Batman Begins

An excellent film let down by a 20 minute finale watching steam travel through a pipe towards the ‘Central Hub’.

7. Thor

Quite high on the list, one of the more complicated origin stories put together with a good plot setting up Avengers Assemble nicely. Kenneth Branagh directs Anthony Hopkins as Odin, that alone gets it into the top 10.

6. Batman

Tim Burton’s gothic take on Batman ages remarkably well. Not sure about the Prince soundtrack.

5. The Incredibles

There are a lot people out there who don’t seem to care for this film, presumably because it’s animated. It’s original take on the public’s reaction to superheroes combines with an outstanding realisation of their capabilities to make it one of the very best out there. If anything, the fact that it’s animated meant they could accomplish a lot more.

4. Iron Man

It’s funny, without being annoying. It looks great and the story is excellent even if the finale is a bit underwhelming. Iron Man 2 was dreadful.

3. The Dark Knight

This is probably the most gripping of all the films on this list. The Joker is capable of anything and the viewer is on edge throughout. Still not sure why Batman had to take the blame for Dent’s crimes, they should have blamed Joker. And why would ‘The Dent Act’ be repealed if he turned out he had committed crimes ?

2. The Dark Knight Rises

I hated this film when I first saw it. Thought it entirely unbelievable, the characters don’t react as you’d expect them to and everyone kept pausing to make speeches. On second viewing, I realised it’s a superhero film even though it acts as if it isn’t. It should be enjoyed for what it is, great dramatic cinema!

1. Avengers Assemble

Avengers Assemble is exactly what I was waiting for, it’s what X-Men should have been and better. With the groundwork done through the previous Marvel films, it could focus on bringing together all the characters in a backs-to-the-wall struggle to save earth. Joss Whedon does an extraordinary job managing the personalities with wit and sensitivity before unleashing them in an epic clash on the streets of New York City. It beats Batman to top place because the child in me wants to see people thrown 20 yards into a wall by a punch.

This film is just that little bit more super.

AvengersShwarma

 

The Trilogy to begin all Trilogies.

The Trilogy to begin all Trilogies.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Released: December 2012
Certificate: 12A
Director: Peter Jackson

 

The Hobbit trilogy has been a long time coming. Numerous delays in production meant we’ve had to wait 9 years since Return of the King, yet strangely it still feels too early to launch back into Tolkien’s world.

The film itself is almost exactly what you might expect. It contains more humour than it’s (future?) predecessors and Martin Freeman is an excellent, likeable Bilbo Baggins. The Dwarves are a welcome addition to the screen as their race had only one representative in LOTR but the rest of the film is basically a light-hearted remake of The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Howard Shore score is the same, the CG is the same, the characters are largely the same, and the story (for this part at least) is identical. Suddenly, as our heroes stop to have an interminable chat with the elves, I feel the need to escape. Having devoted almost 9 hours to the original trilogy, it dawns on me that we’re all going to be trapped in this unsatisfying 3 year cycle of films and probably will again when someone buys the rights to The Silmarillion.

One issue with the original trilogy was Jackson’s propensity to linger on certain (often elvish) parts of the story and gloss over more compelling parts of the books. The Hobbit travels at a more brisk pace and appears to take itself less seriously. It would be churlish to complain about similarities as there are bound to be some. It’s up to the viewer to decide whether they are prepared to retread old ground in order to rejoin this world.

The Hobbit is more of a childrens book as is reflected in the cartoonishness of the action, yet there are surprisingly graphic scenes midst the capers which seem out of place and are actually more resonant as a result. As is usually the case with prequels, some of the tension is deflated by our knowing the fate of our heroes but it doesn’t interfere with what is a hugely enjoyable journey. Jackson brings the story to life in a faultless, assured manner and leaves the audience wanting more. Shame we must wait a year to get it.

It makes financial sense to release the films over 3 years, but it’s awfully frustrating for the viewer. There is something to be said for waiting until 2014 and watching them all at once.

Can someone remind me to do that next time?

 

 

 

Trek3000

Two novice hikers trekking 3000kms for the Irish Heart Foundation. Follow us and our ups & downs, as we get used to long distance hiking on New Zealands, Te Araroa.

SIMPLE OBSERVATIONS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

Humorous Observations of Animals, People, Places, Things, and Popular Culture

Michael Cargill

Regular updates of sarcastic and irreverent nonsense.

Daniel is funny

Monsters, Jokes, Analogies

Cat the Beatnik

Mood swings ahead.

Pie and Biscuits

The good, the bad, the ugly and the downright ridiculous

%d bloggers like this: