Profile for Braden Pickering > Reviews

Browse

Braden Pickering's Profile

Customer Reviews: 125
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,385
Helpful Votes: 1539




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Braden Pickering RSS Feed (Maricopa, AZ)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13
pixel
DC Comics Multiverse 4" Black Mask Action Figure
DC Comics Multiverse 4" Black Mask Action Figure
Price: $10.99
31 used & new from $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The head sculpt kind of ruins it, March 16, 2015
Generally speaking I don’t give much credence to reviews for which the author does not own the product they are talking about, but having seen this figure in person and deciding I wouldn’t WANT to buy it, I figure that in itself serves as a legitimate opinion and thought it may be worth sending out a warning to prospective consumers.

This entire DC Multiverse line has been hit or miss since the beginning; for example, I thought the earlier movie-based figures for Batman Returns and Superman were really great and spot-on in terms of authentic costume detailing and capturing the likenesses of their respective actors, but most of the subsequent figures based on the Arkham video games have felt “off” for various reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, mostly having to do with bizarre proportioning. In the case of Black Mask specifically, my excitement over finally seeing him on a store shelf for the first time immediately fizzled once I realized how tiny and poorly sculpted his head was. The body is actually pretty decent in terms of texture and articulation but the effect is ruined when topped off with this little pinhead which throws off the look of the entire figure. (The Two-Face figure suffers from the same issue.) Add to that the fact his face doesn’t resemble a skull so much as an ape of some kind, and it ultimately was a no-buy for me.

In spite of all that I will rate it a middle-of-the-road three stars giving it the benefit of the doubt. After all, it is still basically recognizable as the character it’s based upon, and because Black Mask is such an underappreciated Batman villain to start with I must give props to the fact this exists at all. However, as a figure in and of itself it’s a bit of a letdown, especially considering the asking prices, so I would only recommend this for very serious collectors.


Rebel Heart [Explicit]
Rebel Heart [Explicit]
Price: $11.88
68 used & new from $5.79

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of epic proportions, March 13, 2015
This review is from: Rebel Heart [Explicit] (Audio CD)
Rebel Heart is a mixed bag of such epic proportions that when looking for any objective insights one would be wise to immediately discard any review of one star or five. The former are from people who likely have never heard a Madonna song in their life but are offended that a woman of her age still has a job in the entertainment industry, while the latter appear to be written mostly by middle-aged gay men so busy falling over themselves in giddy fits of “OMG the Queen is back!” they wouldn't know an unbiased opinion if one slapped them in the face. (Or, alternatively, by people who are simply just glad to have something new from her at all.) As a reformed Madonnaholic myself – with the tattoo to prove it – I hope my take on the new album comes off as a little more honest and informed. And, unlike the veritable thesis I wrote for MDNA three years ago, I will get right to the point, lol.

In short, I like it. That said, after the dreadfully embarrassing Hard Candy era I really had to adjust my expectations as far as what I could and/or should expect from Madonna in the landscape of modern pop culture. She hasn’t struck me as particularly innovative, or even interesting, for the better part of a decade, but I give her props for resurfacing every couple years to remind us who’s boss, no matter how half-assedly. As an “album experience” Rebel Heart is beyond uneven and unnecessarily long winded, but there are moments of true greatness scattered throughout which should hold your interest. Lyrically it’s her most provocative release in quite a while, with a number of reflective and introspective tracks that are actually ABOUT something besides going out and dancing. (The rap interludes are tired as ever, but to be expected these days.) And while she continues to name check herself and reference past songs, here it at least sounds intentional and cheeky as opposed to MDNA where it seemed like she genuinely had no idea she was recycling entire phrases. For someone who has defended half her career choices in the name of irony, I’m glad she finally took the time to look up what the word actually means ;)

The disc offers an array of musical stylings, from the gospel-tinged Living for Love to the reggae beats of Unapologetic B*tch, so there is literally something for everyone. Many songs suffer from severe overproduction and seem to favor random button pushing and bizarre sound effects over catchy choruses, but that approach isn't always a deal breaker. Unfortunately it's her thin voice holds back some of the borderline “just okay” tracks from reaching truly great status. She can sound so lush and rich on low-key gems such as Ghost Town and Joan of Arc - and is that her Evita voice coming through on Heartbreak City?! - but then on others, including the lead single Living For Love, her voice is so flat and wooden it sounds as though she is reading the words from a page. Even on her best day Madonna has never been much of an “anthem artist,” and I feel a number of these tracks would have fared much better in the hands of a different artist with a wider range. As it is, Madonna sounds bored with herself for a good half the disc, and I’m surprised she let some of these see the light of day at all. (I honestly have yet to make it though B*tch I’m Madonna in full, it’s just too atrocious.)

Overall, though, for now it stands as a pleasant enough record to let play in the background at work or sing along with in the car. It’s no instant classic, and I can’t imagine any of these songs faring well as commercial singles on the radio, but there’s just enough “Madonna-ness” and nods to her heyday to keep existing fans interested. Four stars seems about fair, perhaps adjusting for a small benefit of the doubt.

* If you're a more casual fan and want to save a few bucks, I think the standard edition is just fine for you. You'll be missing out on the awesome country-tinged title track - which is oddly absent from this edition - but otherwise the deluxe bonus tracks are mostly throwaways, in my opinion.


Rebel Heart [Edited]
Rebel Heart [Edited]
Price: $12.99
27 used & new from $8.99

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of epic proportions, March 11, 2015
This review is from: Rebel Heart [Edited] (Audio CD)
Rebel Heart is a mixed bag of such epic proportions that when looking for any objective insights one would be wise to immediately discard any review of one star or five. The former are from people who likely have never heard a Madonna song in their life but are offended that a woman of her age still has a job in the entertainment industry, while the latter appear to be written mostly by middle-aged gay men so busy falling over themselves in giddy fits of “OMG the Queen is back!” they wouldn't know an unbiased opinion if one slapped them in the face. (Or, alternatively, by people who are simply just glad to have something new from her at all.) As a reformed Madonnaholic myself – with the tattoo to prove it – I hope my take on the new album comes off as a little more honest and informed. And, unlike the veritable thesis I wrote for MDNA three years ago, I will get right to the point, lol.

In short, I like it. That said, after the dreadfully embarrassing Hard Candy era I really had to adjust my expectations as far as what I could and/or should expect from Madonna in the landscape of modern pop culture. She hasn’t struck me as particularly innovative, or even interesting, for the better part of a decade, but I give her props for resurfacing every couple years to remind us who’s boss, no matter how half-assedly. As an “album experience” Rebel Heart is beyond uneven and unnecessarily long winded, but there are moments of true greatness scattered throughout which should hold your interest. Lyrically it’s her most provocative release in quite a while, with a number of reflective and introspective tracks that are actually ABOUT something besides going out and dancing. (The rap interludes are tired as ever, but to be expected these days.) And while she continues to name check herself and reference past songs, here it at least sounds intentional and cheeky as opposed to MDNA where it seemed like she genuinely had no idea she was recycling entire phrases. For someone who has defended half her career choices in the name of irony, I’m glad she finally took the time to look up what the word actually means ;)

The disc offers an array of musical stylings, from the gospel-tinged Living for Love to the reggae beats of Unapologetic B*tch, so there is literally something for everyone. Many songs suffer from severe overproduction and seem to favor random button pushing and bizarre sound effects over catchy choruses, but that approach isn't always a deal breaker. Unfortunately it's her thin voice holds back some of the borderline “just okay” tracks from reaching truly great status. She can sound so lush and rich on low-key gems such as Ghost Town and Joan of Arc - and is that her Evita voice coming through on Heartbreak City?! - but then on others, including the lead single Living For Love, her voice is so flat and wooden it sounds as though she is reading the words from a page. Even on her best day Madonna has never been much of an “anthem artist,” and I feel a number of these tracks would have fared much better in the hands of a different artist with a wider range. As it is, Madonna sounds bored with herself for a good half the disc, and I’m surprised she let some of these see the light of day at all. (I honestly have yet to make it though B*tch I’m Madonna in full, it’s just too atrocious.)

Overall, though, for now it stands as a pleasant enough record to let play in the background at work or sing along with in the car. It’s no instant classic, and I can’t imagine any of these songs faring well as commercial singles on the radio, but there’s just enough “Madonna-ness” and nods to her heyday to keep existing fans interested. Four stars seems about fair, perhaps adjusting for a small benefit of the doubt.

* If you're a more casual fan and want to save a few bucks, I think the standard edition is just fine for you. You'll be missing out on the awesome country-tinged title track - which is oddly absent from this edition - but otherwise the deluxe bonus tracks are mostly throwaways, in my opinion.


Rebel Heart [Deluxe Edition][Explicit]
Rebel Heart [Deluxe Edition][Explicit]
Price: $15.88
39 used & new from $10.48

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of epic proportions, March 10, 2015
Rebel Heart is a mixed bag of such epic proportions that when looking for any objective insights one would be wise to immediately discard any review of one star or five. The former are from people who likely have never heard a Madonna song in their life but are offended that a woman of her age still has a job in the entertainment industry, while the latter appear to be written mostly by middle-aged gay men so busy falling over themselves in giddy fits of “OMG the Queen is back!” they wouldn't know an unbiased opinion if one slapped them in the face. (Or, alternatively, by people who are simply just glad to have something new from her at all.) As a reformed Madonnaholic myself – with the tattoo to prove it – I hope my take on the new album comes off as a little more honest and informed. And, unlike the veritable thesis I wrote for MDNA three years ago, I will get right to the point, lol.

In short, I like it. That said, after the dreadfully embarrassing Hard Candy era I really had to adjust my expectations as far as what I could and/or should expect from Madonna in the landscape of modern pop culture. She hasn’t struck me as particularly innovative, or even interesting, for the better part of a decade, but I give her props for resurfacing every couple years to remind us who’s boss, no matter how half-assedly. As an “album experience” Rebel Heart is beyond uneven and unnecessarily long winded, but there are moments of true greatness scattered throughout which should hold your interest. Lyrically it’s her most provocative release in quite a while, with a number of reflective and introspective tracks that are actually ABOUT something besides going out and dancing. (The rap interludes are tired as ever, but to be expected these days.) And while she continues to name check herself and reference past songs, here it at least sounds intentional and cheeky as opposed to MDNA where it seemed like she genuinely had no idea she was recycling entire phrases. For someone who has defended half her career choices in the name of irony, I’m glad she finally took the time to look up what the word actually means ;)

The disc offers an array of musical stylings, from the gospel-tinged Living for Love to the reggae beats of Unapologetic B*tch, so there is literally something for everyone. Many songs suffer from severe overproduction and seem to favor random button pushing and bizarre sound effects over catchy choruses, but that approach isn't always a deal breaker. Unfortunately it's her thin voice holds back some of the borderline “just okay” tracks from reaching truly great status. She can sound so lush and rich on low-key gems such as Ghost Town and Joan of Arc - and is that her Evita voice coming through on Heartbreak City?! - but then on others, including the lead single Living For Love, her voice is so flat and wooden it sounds as though she is reading the words from a page. Even on her best day Madonna has never been much of an “anthem artist,” and I feel a number of these tracks would have fared much better in the hands of a different artist with a wider range. As it is, Madonna sounds bored with herself for a good half the disc, and I’m surprised she let some of these see the light of day at all. (I honestly have yet to make it though B*tch I’m Madonna in full, it’s just too atrocious.)

Overall, though, for now it stands as a pleasant enough record to let play in the background at work or sing along with in the car. It’s no instant classic, and I can’t imagine any of these songs faring well as commercial singles on the radio, but there’s just enough “Madonna-ness” and nods to her heyday to keep existing fans interested. Four stars seems about fair, perhaps adjusting for a small benefit of the doubt.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2015 11:49 AM PDT


The Last of Us Remastered - PlayStation 4
The Last of Us Remastered - PlayStation 4
Price: $43.86
92 used & new from $24.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very solid if not slightly overrated game, January 30, 2015
So much has been said about The Last of Us that there probably isn't much more I can say at this point that would sway somebody's existing opinion one way or the other. But having just completed it for the first time myself, I thought it was a great game and wanted throw out another review expressing praise for it. The gameplay is smooth and responsive, the graphics are fantastic to the point where some of the environments border on photorealism, and the storyline held my interest throughout.

In spite of that I must confess I don't necessarily get why everybody thinks it's SO good. I didn't really find myself connecting to the main characters on a deep level or becoming as emotionally invested as many other reviewers here claim to have been. The enemy types weren't terribly inspired and limited to only three or four different types, and even as a casual gamer there were many points when I felt the game's path was perhaps a little TOO linear. (On the other hand, having just come off Evil Within where NONE of the objectives were clear, it was kind of a nice change.) It also took me a while to fully comprehend the crafting and weapon upgrade systems - I don't feel the game explained itself very well in these areas and would have benefitted from a tutorial of sorts - but I eventually got the hang of it.

All minor nitpicks, I'm sure, but worth noting. At the end of the day it's still a game I'm glad to own and will more than likely play again; even the Left Behind story expansion was cute to an extent. (I'm not really a multiplayer kinda guy and cannot comment on that aspect.) If nothing else it shows off all the best features of the PS4 and what it's capable of, so all in all I think four stars is fair.


Nick Jonas [Explicit]
Nick Jonas [Explicit]
Price: $9.99
29 used & new from $8.73

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A catchy and uncomplicated pop record, December 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Nick Jonas [Explicit] (Audio CD)
I was never really familiar with the Jonas Brothers back in the day other than the fact that such a group existed, but I did blindly buy Joe's "Fastlove" album a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it. Even now, I would say it's still one of the best CD's I've bought in the last five years. Naturally my interest was raised once again with Nick's latest solo effort after hearing the lead single "Jealous" on the radio, so I went ahead and bought that album as well. While I wouldn't go as far as to immediately rank it as one of my all time favorites, it's a solid record and one that probably won't be leaving the player for a while.

I won't give a tedious track by track review, but any fan of catchy, uncomplicated pop music should find something to enjoy here as there's quite a bit of variety. Highlights for me include the bouncy "I Want You," the tribal influenced "Wilderness," and the 80's flavored throwback "Teacher," but there really isn't a true dud in the bunch. I was kind of expecting something a little more dance or electronic oriented, which we do get tastes of, for sure, but overall the disc maintains more of a smooth yet upbeat R&B style vibe reminiscent of a lot of mid-90's pop music, sprinkled with other influences throughout. While straightforward enough to be commercially safe and not alienate or put off any segment of listeners, there is still enough going on to keep it fresh and interesting in today's market. As for whether Nick truly is "all grown up" is debatable - this isn't exactly the most profound stuff you'll ever hear, lol - but he does share writing credit on most of the tracks and it's always admirable when artists have a hand in creating the product their names are attached to.

I will say a quick word about the "explicit" content. Yes, he does drop the F-bomb in two or three songs (in a non-sexual context) but frankly, I doubt it's something that would jump out at you unless you made a point to go looking for it. That's just my opinion, but I know some people are concerned with that sort of thing, so take it as you will. Otherwise, like I said before, I think it's a great record any fan of pop music in general should enjoy. (My only complaint, if I absolutely had to make one, is that it runs a bit short - the standard edition barely breaks 38 minutes total.)


Madonna 2015 Square 12x12
Madonna 2015 Square 12x12
by Browntrout Publishes
Edition: Calendar
10 used & new from $58.55

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice calendar with all NEW photos, December 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Although I'm not quite the collector I used to be - the dreadful Hard Candy era nearly had me turning in my fan card and I guess I never fully recovered, lol - a good Madonna calendar is hard to come by these days, so when she does release one I like to indulge a little bit.

The pictures are actually pretty good for the most part, and they are all new shots from this last year as opposed to another lazy "retrospective" hodgepodge like we've gotten several times in the past. Pulled from only two or three sessions many of the photos are similar in style to one another, but there's still enough variety to keep it interesting from month to month, and in addition to each month's main image there are several of her personal Instagram and behind-the-scenes photos sprinkled throughout the margins.

As is typical of Madonna calendars, however, the design isn't your traditional grid layout. The days are presented in a sort of list form on the lower half of the page, so it won't work well for those who like to write in their own notes, but at least it's easy to read unlike some calendars of years past where it seemed the dates were crammed in at the bottom inch only as an afterthought. Either way, it's always best to look at Madonna calendars more as mini-posters than anything truly functional, and at the end of the day most fans who know what to expect will be glad to have this one hanging on their wall.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2015 10:01 AM PST


Baby Blues [Blu-ray]
Baby Blues [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Raymond Lam
Offered by Abookhouse
Price: $15.40
25 used & new from $4.19

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effectively eerie and entertaining, November 11, 2014
This review is from: Baby Blues [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Aside from the most general plotline - a younger married couple moves into a new apartment, the wife gets pregnant with twins, loses one, and forms an attachment to a bizarre doll left by the previous owner - I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie. But, I do tend to enjoy movies that involve creepy little dolls and curses and things like that, so I gave it a whirl and actually came out pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed and was entertained by it. (However, after going back and reading some other online reviews it appears I'm in the minority so keep that in mind, lol.)

I'm not going to say there weren't some cheesy moments, but I also got the feeling that wasn't entirely unintentional and I thought the overall tone was effectively eerie. The score was really fantastic and ominous and I would probably go as far as to buy a soundtrack CD if one existed. The acting was...ok. There were some parts where I couldn't tell if a few of the actors were TRYING to play their characters a little unhinged or if it was maybe just my own cultural interpretation, but the main male lead was consistently good and balanced that out a bit. The one thing that struck me as odd is why all the dialogue appeared to be dubbed over. I don't mean in English (it's subtitled) but rather it's as if after shooting the film everybody went back and re-recorded their exact same dialogue over again; some of it doesn't even match their mouth movements. So that was a little distracting but not necessarily a complaint.

While I can definitely see why somebody might not be so impressed with this movie, I think anyone who goes into it already liking the "cursed doll" genre and knowing what they're in for should find it decent to mildly amusing. It's not the goriest thing you'll ever see but like I said, it hits that uncomfortable, ominous tone just right, and I would recommend giving it a chance if you're on the line about it.


Mr Jones [Blu-ray]
Mr Jones [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jon Foster
Price: $14.18
45 used & new from $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the "found footage" approach dissuade you from seeing this great film, November 5, 2014
This review is from: Mr Jones [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
After reading through several of the other reviews for this movie I can't but feel most of the people who rated it poorly did so simply because they are burned out on the whole "found footage" approach rather than because they genuinely didn't like it. Yes, at this point it's probably very difficult to put on a new spin on the genre, but this movie still felt somewhat fresh compared to so many of the other low budget flicks out there now.

First, I thought the acting was decent and the two main leads were very likeable. The detailed sets ranged from gorgeous to eerie and there was a real sense of atmosphere about it all. Most impressive of all is the cinematography - I enjoyed simply just looking at the movie. What struck me as clever is that each camera shot seemed carefully choreographed and the viewer sees only what we are meant to see at the moment, as opposed to someone just randomly running around with a shaky camcorder. Plot-wise the last fifteen minutes or so did seem a little pretentious or convoluted and at moments bordered too much on "weird for weird's sake" for my taste but it does all wrap up nicely in the end and kept me interested overall. As long as you listen carefully to the dialogue and pay attention you should be fine.

So while not exactly a groundbreaking film, in a genre where these types of reality-based movies tend to blend together after a while I thought Mr. Jones really stood out as a cut above the rest and would definitely recommend giving it a whirl if you get the chance.


Nostalgia (Ltd. Ed CD/DVD Deluxe Amazon Exclusive)
Nostalgia (Ltd. Ed CD/DVD Deluxe Amazon Exclusive)
2 used & new from $59.99

33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm a little underwhelmed, to be honest, November 3, 2014
First just let me say that I write this review as a fan and not some random troll who enjoys stirring the pot by throwing out dissenting opinions just for the fun of it. But the truth is, I really can't help but feel most of the glowing five star reviews here were written either by overzealous longtime fans who will exuberantly eat up anything Annie offers at face value, or by people who are simply just happy to have anything new from her at all. That's not to say Nostalgia is by any means a terrible record, but I would be lying if I said it didn't, for the most part, strike me as a somewhat bland and uninspired one.

Of course just the news we were getting yet another covers album rather than a disc of all new original material already had me rolling my eyes from the start, but I found some of the song selections to be interesting so I went into this fairly optimistic and with an open mind. Medusa, after all, probably doesn't sound too enthralling on paper, either, but is still a bona fide classic in my mind. Nor did I let the purportedly "depressing" vibes of this album influence me; in fact I think most artists' best work are typically borne from dark or angry places, including Annie's own Bare and Songs of Mass Destruction records, to name a few, so in a weird way I would only consider that a plus. So, I don't know, maybe it's my own fault for underestimating just how dull some of these interpretations could be.

That said, I must confess I absolutely LOVE her take on "I Put a Spell on You" as it perfectly embodies an eerie New Orleans vibe that really compliments the lyrics, and I also find her vocal delivery in "Strange Fruit" to be oddly hypnotic. Other than a small handful of highlights, however, I thought the record as a whole to be rather monotone with very few tracks standing out as distinguishable from the next. (In fact I daresay she uses the same backing track for both "Georgia On My Mind" and "God Bless the Child.") In spite of my criticisms there's very little here I would go as far as to actually call "bad," but perhaps the biggest disappointment of all comes with "You Belong To Me," a usually heart wrenching little number which Annie somehow manages to deliver rather stiffly and slightly off-rhythm as if she were reading the words from a page.

Again, I hesitate to call this a terrible record because it really isn't. Technically it's very competent and lord knows Annie's voice is as velvety and powerful as ever. But at the same time I hope it doesn't sound too insulting when I say the whole thing seems like a halfhearted personal pet project more than anything else, and that she failed to make these songs truly "hers." Ultimately I think it will only really appeal to a small segment of existing fans rather than make her many new ones. So, three stars for what basically amount to an impartial "Eh."
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2015 1:16 PM PDT


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13