Tag: Nilesh

Black Widow Movie Review

Warning: Spoilers! Nilesh this week gives us his thoughts on MARVEL’s latest blockbuster, Black Widow. Released just last week, the movie is already a fan favourite.

17th July 2021

By Nilesh

Black Widow (Movie, 2021) | Trailer, Release Date, & More | Marvel

Fan favourite character Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, finally got her highly anticipated and long-awaited standalone film. It only came 11 years after her introduction in “Iron Man 2”. The events of this film take place following “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016, in which the Avengers are disbanded via a disagreement over the Sokovia Accords. This is prior to her death in “Avengers: Endgame”. (Seriously, 2 years on, that cannot be classed as a spoiler).

A star-studded cast is assembled around Scarlett Johansson includes Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova), David Harbour (Alexei Shostakov), Rachel Weisz (Melina Vostokoff), and Ray Winstone (Dreykov).

The Good…

The opening credits scene is by far my favourite scene of the movie. It captures the trauma that Natasha and Yelena had to endure in their Red Room training to become assassins for the main villain Dreykov. Polaroids depict the true cruelty of the child kidnapping and antagonises Dreykov from the get-go. Not only this but he is shown with numerous world leaders (e.g. Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin). All this is accompanied by the main theme song for the film, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” originally by Nirvana but performed by Malia J. This perfectly sets the nostalgic and harrowing theme of the film.

Florence Pugh’s performance as Yelena was also a standout in this film. Her on-screen chemistry with both Scarlett Johansson and David Harbour led to some comedic moments to break the ice in an otherwise serious film. One moment, in particular, is distinctly memorable. This being an exchange with Natasha at a corner shop where Yelena mocks Natasha for having a “superhero pose”. This becomes a running gag throughout the film, in which its climax is when Yelena herself ends up doing a superhero pose. She immediately regrets her decision, shrugging it off in disgust.

And The Bad…

However, there are some major problems in this film. Primarily, the plot is very thin and uneventful. The movie took some time to reveal the true endgame (pardon the pun) of the plot. When it finally did it was the stereotypical superhero plot: hero seeks vengeance on a figure from their past for causing them pain in life. The fate of Black Widow is already known in “Avengers: Endgame”. Therefore, the writers did not have much room for creativity in the storytelling of this popular character. It felt, in a way, almost like a filler film. The MARVEL fans have demanded this solo Black Widow film for so long. But, now it is here it feels slightly underwhelming.

Dreykov

Moreover, certain characters are extremely underdeveloped. Dreykov, who is the main villain makes a brief cameo at the beginning of the film and then does not appear for the next 90 minutes. There is very little substance to his character and no clear origin story is given. Without a doubt, Dreykov is one of the worst villains to be written into existence by MARVEL Studios.

An Underwhelming Taskmaster

Taskmaster, who is a masked combatant that can mimic your every move, is severely underwhelming. No dialogue, no character, no evil. This is a character I found very difficult to antagonise as there is so little flavour to it (even when it is hunting down Natasha). The grand reveal of the identity of Taskmaster ends up being Dreykov’s daughter (who Natasha believes she had killed in an attempt to assassinate Dreykov). Natasha, throughout the film, had been struggling to come to terms with this killing. She gets her salvation in the end by freeing her from the villainous clutches of her father. She too had been manipulating similar to Natasha and Yelena and thousands of other Widows across the globe.

Is Black Widow A Filler Film?

MCU’s phase 4 has taken route on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+, with the introduction of new series such as Wandavision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki. This signals an evolution in the everchanging MARVEL Universe, following the end of the Avengers era. This film, however, is very much a blast from the past and takes a deeper look into the origins of the elusive Black Widow. In my view, this film fails to meet its hype and does a disservice to its extremely talented cast. As I have previously mentioned, this film feels like a filler and does not seem like a proper goodbye to the much-loved Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson from the MCU.

A Return For The Widow?

A silver lining, perhaps, is that indicated by the post-credits scene, Yelena will return in the upcoming “Hawkeye” series, which will debut on Disney+ in the not too distant future.

Fan Channels: A vector of support or money-hungry attention seekers?

“When is it gonna end, Robbie?”

“Maupay you’re a cheat and I hope Brighton get relegated.”

These are just a handful of iconic moments that have emerged as a result of the emergence of the fan channel era. Without a doubt, these off-the-cuff and reactionary post-match reviews have been the source of laughter amongst surrounding football fans. But is this new wave of fandom and punditry causing more harm than good?

In a recent debate hosted by Talksport, Arsenal legend Ray Parlour boldly claimed that Robbie Lyle (owner of AFTV YouTube channel) prefers when Arsenal lose as AFTV gets more views. The logic behind this statement is that rival fans enjoy watching an AFTV meltdown postgame following a loss. The statistics do not support this statement. In Arsenal’s recent FA cup victory, AFTV received a staggering 1.3 million, whereas in Arsenal’s iconic last-minute loss to Brighton, in which member Ty uttered those famous words into existence (“Maupay you’re a cheat and I hope Brighton get relegated”) received a mere 633,000 in comparison. These baseless claims from Ray Parlour have a hint of irony, as he is an employee of Talksport, a radio show that feeds off reactionary phone-in sessions in which supporters express their anguish and immediate frustration postgame.

The arrival of fan channels has most certainly given a more prominent voice for football fans. This has further been supported by the constant development of social media and other technological platforms. The United Stand, a YouTube channel owned by Mark Goldbridge, has recently surpassed the 1 million subscriber mark. In short, this is one hell of an achievement, especially considering that the channel is barely 6 years old. The influence of this channel on the views of Manchester United fans worldwide is visible from the recent protests against the Manchester United ownership. Fans forced their way into Old Trafford and caused chaos, and even managed to get their game Vs Liverpool postponed due to their effort in getting their message across. These views have been amplified by The United Stand, in which their displeasure is expressed, as they believe that the Glazer family (Manchester United owners) are not fully committed to the expansion of the club, and treat the club more as a profitable business than a football club.

However, it is not all sunny on the part of fan channels. Claims of abuse directed at the players of each respected club are not entirely false. This was perhaps most prominent in the case of Granit Xhaka. The majority of you reading this article must be aware of the instance in which Granit Xhaka received boos from fans in the Emirates during a game vs Crystal Palace. The Arsenal midfielder responded to this by taking off his Arsenal top in an act of rebellion. Arsenal fans did not take kindly to this gesture, and AFTV, in principle, slated Granit Xhaka. Following these insults led by AFTV, Granit Xhaka’s social media pages were flooded with abuse to the point where he revealed that he had received death threats from certain “fans”. Of course, this is not exclusively just AFTV causing this inhumane behaviour. Multiple footballers have received racial and social media abuse. In response to this growing wave of abuse, certain Premier League football clubs and footballers have decided to boycott social media from 30th April-4th May.

In summary, fan channels are an interesting addition to the world of football. Without a doubt, they are having an increasing influence on the decision making of clubs – you only need to look as far as the 48-hour abolishment of the European Super League. Fan involvement within the sphere of football is broadening, and this is being abetted by the increase in interaction through social media. Of course, fan channels are far from perfect, and the persistent abuse of players signals this, but I truly believe they demonstrate an improvement in the perception of our beautiful game.

Battle of the Heavyweights: Is Boxing or MMA More Dangerous?

12th April 2021

By Nilesh

Your average bloke would suggest, or perhaps even be convinced that MMA is a much more dangerous sport than boxing. This is not a common misconception. Surely the lighter gloves and the possibility of receiving a shin smack bang on your chin must equate to a higher mortality rate. Your average bloke would be mistaken. During the period of 1890-2011, there have been 1604 boxing-related deaths, averaging around 13 deaths a year, whereas there have only been 16 deaths since the formation of MMA in the mid-1990s. This may come as a mind-boggling statistic to those of you reading, and most certainly to your average bloke. But why is this? Let’s delve into the full story.

In terms of the anatomy of the sport, boxing is focused on damage being sustained to the body and head, whereas in MMA there is far more flexibility and creativity in the approach you can take. As with the current influx of UFC champions with a prolific wrestling background (e.g. most notably Khabib Nurmangomedov, Kamaru Usman and Jon Jones) who clearly underline that a fight can be won without knocking your opponent’s lights out. This is backed up by the fact that the highest proportion of neck and head injuries are in boxing, standing at 84%. In addition, MMA fights last only 3 rounds (potentially 5 in championship fights) reduces the time frame in which damage can be sustained, whereas boxing fights last 12 gruelling rounds.

CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is a brain-related injury that is sustained in multiple contact sports, most notably in rugby, boxing, MMA and American Football. It is worth stating that the majority of boxing deaths do not come immediately after suffering a tough fight, but instead by enduring a cumulative amount of damage over the course of their careers. Therefore, it may be difficult to point the finger at the sport of boxing as an entity for the cause of death for many of its former athletes. There is no denying, however, that it plays a major factor.

Fans attending fights are always expecting grandstand knockouts in both MMA and boxing executed in brutal merciless fashion. This is clearly incentivised in the UFC in which a fighter is given a $50,000 bonus for “knockout of the night”. On the other side of the spectrum, we want our beloved fighters to be able to live to fight another day. But can we have our cake and eat it?

How can a fighter go for that illustrious crowd-pleasing finish, whilst also minimising the risk of potentially life-altering harm? This has been a debate circulating the network of fight fans for decades that has yet to be answered.

There is certainly a societal stigma around fighters, and men in particular, having to go out on their shield. The translation to this being, fighters sustain extra damage instead of calling a fight because they do not want to be seen as “pussies” by the public. Referees are also guilty of letting fights go on, especially in boxing where a referee will allow a fighter to continue as they have made the count to 10, although they are clearly not in the right state of mind to continue to compete. This, therefore, increases the likelihood of fighters contracting CTE and being affected later in their lives.

Accountability most certainly must be taken by the biggest organisations in the fighting business to protect their athletes from unnecessary harm, and potentially take steps to minimise the risk in the ring. As science continues to develop, the hostile truth of brain-related injuries in fighting are getting revealed, and action must be taken soon.

Sleep: Man’s Greatest Superpower

5th April 2021

By Nilesh

“Men who sleep 5 hours or less a night have significantly smaller testicles than men who sleep 7 hours or more a night.” Yep, that is what did it, the fact that made me snooze my alarm to get the recommended 7 hours a night. All jokes aside, sleep bequeaths many more prizes than not feeling drowsy and lethargic the next morning. For example, having bigger testicles, as aforementioned.

Ever had to pull an all-nighter in order to complete that history essay you had left until the last minute? Yup, me too. I gotta tell you, I could hardly concentrate in class the next day. I was spending every waking moment trying not to dose off. Content absorbed from the lessons: zilch. Matthew Walker (Professor of neuroscience and psychology) conducted an experiment with 2 groups of people. One group had 8 hours of sleep, whilst the other group pulled an all-nighter. The next day an MRI scan was undertaken by both groups, revealing that the group that pulled an all-nighter absorbed 40% less information than the group with 8 hours of sleep. This is a staggering deficit for only 1 night. Now imagine countless school days operating on minimal sleep. Borderline criminal. Moral of the story kids, if you want straight As you must put in the work. By work, I am referring to getting your nightly 8 hours, although revision may also play some role in exam performance. But that is not the title of the article though, is it?

We live in a world where vaccines are more sought over than pizza. Pizza, really? Nonetheless, the pandemic has shone a newfound light on improving our immune systems. Well, there is no better way to turbocharge your immune system than with sleep. 4 hours of sleep can reduce immune cell activity by 70%. That is mind-blowing. A concerning state of immune deficiency if you will. Neurologists are now finding a strong correlation between a lack of sleep, and the development of various cancers. The link between the 2 is so strong that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen. Who knew that getting that extra hour of sleep could do such good for your health? 

Now you may be “quaking in your boots” at the thought of a lack of sleep doing so much harm to your wellbeing. You may be wondering how to improve the quality of your sleep. Well, your wish is my command. Step one is regularity. Establishing a sleeping pattern is essential. Simply waking up and going to bed at the same time is powerful. I know it may be tempting to slack on the weekends and watch that Netflix series you have been meaning to watch but did not manage to get round to over the week, but don’t. Secondly, ever found it damn near impossible to sleep on holiday when the temperature is up, needed to strip off all your layers to merely get in the zone. This is because your body needs to drop its core temperature by 2-3˚F to initiate sleep. Thus my second tip is to make sure your environment is cool enough to sleep in. 

I am going to round off with a quote from Matthew Walker, “Sleep is the greatest performance-enhancing drug that not enough athletes are abusing.”I would like to challenge everyone reading this to try and squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Despite not seeming like a lot, the effects on your health will be game-changing.

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