Gareth Edwards directing debut Monsters, was a clever, subtle and genuinely moving human drama that just happened to be set against the background of alien lifeforms in a quarantine zone. He also managed to imbue the monsters of the title with a sense of depth. They were intriguing with their bio-luminescent communication and curious vocalisations. They were not simply an arbitrary MacGuffin and hinted at something far more complex. I was therefore very surprised and pleased that he has managed to maintain these qualities in his second feature film Godzilla. Despite being a massive studio undertaking his reboot of the classic franchise has a depth of soul that you seldom find in such mainstream material.Read More
At first glance Pacific Rim may appear to be yet another exercise in Hollywood excess. Another bloated, vacuous spectacle made by cynics who have no other motive than to part the unwary cinemagoer from their hard-earned cash. Fortunately, it is not one of those movies. It is big and certainly visually impressive but it also has a plot, likeable characters, a global overview and a sense of integrity regarding the genre it lovingly references. In every respect, this is a superior example of the summer blockbuster genre and it can all be attributed to the unique talents of Guillermo del Toro.Read More
The theatrical release of The Expendables 3 in 2014 was severely hamstrung by the producer’s decision to court a wider audience with a PG-13 rating. The film although profitable, still fell short of its predecessor’s box office taking. Many fans of the franchise subsequently looked to the DVD and Blu-ray release to provide a harder cut of the movie, similar to the previous R rated instalments.
Sadly, this was not the case. The Expendables 3 Unrated Edition does include some additional action content and one new expositionary scene but overall there is nothing that radically improves the film or makes it stronger in content than the theatrical release.Read More
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame. The Wind in the Willows.
It's curious the way a simple aspect of a game can resonate with you and become a source of pleasure. Regardless of the availability of new content, I still like to log into LOTRO on occasion and just ride around Middle-earth. Similarly, the vast open world of Skyrim has a comparable appeal. Despite my lack of driving skills, even aimlessly cruising around Los Santos in GTA V can be a source of relaxation. I can lose hours indulging in these simple tasks, quietly reflecting on either the game or the real world. Recently I returned to another activity that can also be added to this list. Sailing in Two Worlds II.Read More
If you are expecting the documentary The Unbelievers to be a strong and powerful argument for atheism, then you will have a disappointed. At most Gus Holwerda's film provides an interesting insight into the rigours of an international promotional tour, as he follows the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss around the globe. This acutely self-aware documentary fails to adequately explore the concept of atheism or the reason as to why these two scientists have embraced it. For such answers, you'd be better off reading the written works of Messrs. Dawkins and Krauss.Read More
The Star Trek Online Summer Festival 2017 or Risa annual Lohlunat Festival to give it its proper name has been running for over a week now. It started on the June 8th and is available through to 20th July. Although many MMOs have festival and seasonal activities, STO’s Summer and Winter events are outstanding, being accessible, enjoyable and very rewarding. Not only are cosmetic clothing and pets available as barter items, the game also offers kit modules and bridge officer skills as rewards. Then of course each event always allows players to earn a new Tier 6 ship. This Summer it’s a Vorgon Ryn’Kodan Carrier.Read More
I wrote last week about the surprise DLC for the seven-year-old RPG Two Worlds II and how I decided on a whim to buy it. Well yesterday was the official launch day for Call of the Tenebrae and yet, twenty-four hours later, I’m still not playing the game. So far, I have not received a Steam key for the game, despite the money being deducted from my PayPal account on the 5th of June. So naturally, I have made enquiries as to what is happening and have endeavoured to contact the publishers TopWare. Let it suffice to say that my attempts to resolve the matter have proved fruitless and I have discovered that TopWare are far from the embodiment of German efficiency.Read More
Out of all my recent gaming, Sniper Elite 4 has proved the most entertaining. The engaging mechanics and stealthy gameplay have held my attention and kept me engaged. So far, I spent over seventy-two hours playing through the campaign and DLC. After watching several You Tube videos I was tempted to try the co-operative mode, something that I don’t always do in these sorts of games. Overwatch allows two players to work together as sniper and spotter respectively, to complete objectives within a custom map. It requires communication and co-ordination. It should also be noted that multiplayer in Sniper Elite 4, is dependent on peer-to-peer connection rather than dedicated servers, with the players hosting the games themselves.Read More
When I first saw the trailers for Into the Storm back in 2014, I was far from impressed. I thought to myself, I bet that's just a CGI FX show reel with some second-rate plot tacked on as an afterthought. So, I elected not to see the movie upon release and forgot about it. The other night I was in the mood for some easy entertainment. Nothing heavy, just something that would provide an amusing diversion for an hour and a half or so. I wasn't setting the bar particularly high. Then I remembered Into the Storm and as I’ve always had a weakness for the Disaster Movie genre, I thought to myself, that may do the trick. Sadly, it didn't. This is far from a dumb but fun, popcorn movie like San Andreas. Into the Storm is an insultingly stupid piece of cinema that left me feeling angry and slightly unclean due to watching something so crass.Read More
In a previous post, written last summer, I mentioned my caring commitments and reflected upon the realities of being a carer. Since then my family’s circumstances have changed considerably and subsequently so have my own. In the UK, social care has become a major political issue and was a key area of debate for all parties in the recent election campaign. Although the UK has an aging population, then NHS broadly manages to deal with its needs. It is the social care that so often follows time spent in hospital, that causes a bottleneck. Too often, the local authorities struggle to find carers and have them in place when requested. This means that many patients are unable to be discharged and have to remain in hospital. Caring is a profession that seems to be greatly lauded and esteemed by politicians in principle but the reality is far different. Overall it is often a poorly paid job, with little or no employments rights or benefits.Read More
Every once in while an established genre will get a new interpretation that gives it fresh impetus. 30 Days of Night did exactly that to the Vampire mythos ten years ago and is a very good horror film as well. Based on a well-known series of graphic novels by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, it tells how a remote Alaskan town falls under siege by a group of the undead, during the extended period of darkness that comes in winter; the thirty days of night of the title. Local Sheriff Josh Hartnett suspects something is wrong when the remote towns transport and telecommunications are sabotaged. Is the vagrant arrested for these crimes a lunatic or a “familiar” for more sinister forces?Read More
Coogan's Bluff was the first of many movie collaborations between Clint Eastwood and legendary director Don Siegel. The film is a traditional “fish out of water” tale that still rings true today. Arizona cop, Coogan, is sent to New York to collect a prisoner. Unfortunately, he escapes, forcing Coogan to search through the weirdest and most dangerous place he's ever experienced; New York in 1968.
Lalo Schifrin's score for Coogan's Bluff, is a hip contemporary score (for its time) that has all the composer's trademark funk material. The music encompasses a variety of idioms from western to eastern, with elements of jazz, rock and funk. It really captures the mood of the times tapping into the sixties motif, with use of such instruments as tabla and sitar.Read More
Politics is a controversial and emotive subject. It’s also something that a lot of bloggers are very wary of writing about sadly, because it’s seldom debated with any wisdom or civility. You’ll find my thoughts on the poor state of UK politics in this previous post, so I don’t need to reiterate them here. On this occasion, I would like to venture a few opinions on the General Election that was held in the UK this week, the interesting results and the potential fallout. I’m not here to champion any party, ideology or dogma, as I’m a floating voter without any major affiliations. I just merely want to express what I have observed and some of my hopes for the future.Read More
Rebellion, the creators of the Sniper Elite series and the Zombie Army Trilogy, announced on Wednesday a new game called Strange Brigade. The trailer shows the game to be a four-player co-op third-person shooter. The rather droll video, shot as a faux newsreel, appears to show a story set in the pre-war era with a group of quirky characters indulging in Indiana Jones style shenanigans on behalf of the British Empire.Read More
The Asphyx (AKA The Horror of Death) was released in 1973, just as the as the horror genre was about to be totally redefined by The Exorcist forever. William Friedkin’s magnum opus moved the genre away from its traditional Gothic based, literate and low budget roots and took the horror movie into the realm of the blockbuster. Special effects and shock proved to be more bankable than the old school approach of studios such as Hammer. That's one of the reasons why The Asphyx was a box-office flop. Fondly remembered by a few as a "thinking man's horror film" this cinematic curiosity’s greatest asset is also its Achilles Heel. The movie is perhaps too plot heavy and cerebral, failing to give even the most patient of audiences the shocks that they craved. Since its release this film has been seldom seen on television and has often been poorly treated on home media.Read More
As a sequel is due out in September, I thought I’d revisit Kingsman: The Secret Service. Contrary to the movies titles and the implied homage seen in the various trailers, the film is not as clichéd as the genre it's set in. Nor does it draw too heavily from its graphic novel source material. As with Kick Ass director Matthew Vaughn has managed to smooth over the rough edges of this films antecedents and create a rather unique, stylised and extremely entertaining hybrid. It is a somewhat niche market undertaking and won't appeal to all audiences but if you like all out action, knowing satire and a liberal dose of gallows humour then this movie is most likely for you.Read More
Daniel Myrick has experience when it comes to low-budget productions, having co-written The Blair Witch Project. The Objective offers a promising science fiction story set in contemporary Afghanistan, hinting at both supernatural and extraterrestrial plot themes. The spartan, low budget production along with minimal use of special effects allows the story to be the focus of the movie. As with Pontypool, many questions are raised throughout the course of the plot and the attentive viewer is required to listen and consider what is presented, rather than just blindly accept everything on face value.Read More
I bought a bundle of games in August 2014, which included the RPG Two Worlds II and its expansion, Pirates of the Flying Fortress. With such purchases, there is a tendency to adjust your expectations in accordance to your financial investment. However, I pleasantly surprised to find Two Worlds II a quirky and enjoyable role-playing game. The animations and combat are somewhat clunky but the loot system that allows you to break down every item into upgrade components, is useful. The game also boasts a customisable spell system, that utilises collectable cards as modifiers. It is quite an innovative mechanic and certainly allows players to create builds that suit their tastes. Two Worlds II benefits from a pleasing soundtrack and a standalone expansion that offers a superior story to the base game. Not every RPG can be a Skyrim or Witcher 3. Two Worlds II is an acceptable genre title to play between such releases.Read More
Independent British Horror films often showcase some of the best up and coming talent about. Neil Marshall was a prime example of this back in 2002 with his debut film Dog Soldiers. He has subsequently produced an interesting body of work in both cinema and television. Independent horror films offer a great deal of flexibility to writes and directors, affording them an opportunity to explore themes that larger studios simply will not touch. Happy endings, moral subtexts, glamorous leads are not de rigueur. In fact, they are potentially a hindrance. The genre is a platform for gritty and often unpleasant tales that explore the darker side of human nature. Michael J. Bassett's Wilderness falls squarely into this category, offering a grim but gripping story.Read More
Over the years I have been a participant in several fan based communities. These have ranged from running film clubs, to creating and publishing fanzines in the pre-internet days. More recently this has included running websites, blogging and creating podcasts. It’s a curious thing the way fandom is cyclical and one’s involvement with such communities seems to ebb and flow. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot of late. Several of the You Tube channels I enjoy have reduced their output or stopped due, to changes in advertising policy and monetisation. The Newbie Blogger Initiative failed to manifest itself this year and many of my immediate colleagues in blogging and podcasting have also begun to fade away or moved on to pastures new. The sad thing is, the true value of many community contributors is never really realised until after they’ve gone.Read More