I thought I’d post a review of 2005, highlighting my favourite film and game(s) for the year and also to cover a few of the events of 2005.
Film of 2005:
This really was quite easy to choose, no other film that I have watched this year has struck me with the same sense of awe and appreciation than Oldboy.
I recently took a look on imdb.com and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was currently ranked just out of the top 100 films of all time (around 118 I think), quite an achievement for a foreign language film. What surprised me even more was the quantity of negative reviews that had been posted for Oldboy. I literally had to go through about 3 pages until I actually found anything other than a rating of 1/10! Even so, the overall rating given is around 8.4/10 (very high for imdb).
I can understand that some people struggle with foreign language films, but this is not the reason for the negative reviews. I think that Oldboy is just a little too sick for the tastes of mainstream audiences. The other complaint aimed against the film is that it is full of plot holes. It isn’t, you just need to watch the film closely, what the film does suffer from is a string of coincidences, but these are no more unbelievable than most other films. I can understand that the subject matter could be seen by most people as rather repulsive, but it serves the story and is not used gratuitously. The film is after all about revenge and the lengths that people will go to exact vengeance, so if this was in any way sugar coated, then this would only soften the blow of the film.
This really is the most striking film I have seen in years. I remember sitting and watching the end credits in a sense of awe, slowly realising that I’d just watched one of the best films I’d ever see. I can understand, however, that this is not a film for everyone. I can quite appreciate that only a small number of people would properly appreciate this film, but those that do, will feel passionately about it.
This film is really encapsulated by the line repeated again and again with the movie… "Even though I'm no more than a monster - don't I, too, have the right to live? "
Game(s) of 2005:
This was initially going to be just Advance Wars, but Mario Kart snuck in at the last moment and I’m hooked – a such, I announce a tie between Advance Wars and Mario Kart.
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
This really has to be one of the most tightly balanced and most strategic games around. In 2005 there were 2 games which I completed, then rather than stop playing (which I normally do), I just started playing through the game again immediately. These were Resident Evil 4 and Advance Wars. For Advance Wars, I continued to play the campaign mode, but this time on hard mode and boy is it hard.
In this game, every move counts, every decision matters. It’s all a precise balance of power and the trick is to get that balance to fall in your favour, whilst having immense fun trying.
Mario Kart DS
Okay I love Mario Kart games. Even Mario Kart: Double Dash, which most people point to as the weakest in the series. The control in each version has its own individual nuances and Mario Kart DS seems to have hit the perfect balance.
It has always been a dream of mine to play Mario Kart against others online and now that dream is a reality (yes now that I’ve managed to get this working with my router). It’s true that in my first few attempts I got totally and utterly thrashed, but now I’m starting to win the odd few games and within a few more weeks... the world will be mine :)
Resident Evil 4
Metal Gear Solid 3
And Life… (with a little bit of films and games)
I thought I’d highlight a few of the highlight / lowlights and general events in my life during 2005. In no particular order (and likely missing something of vital importance):
Elliot’s 2nd birthday party – His first real kiddie’s party.
7th July 2005 – London Bombings. The day I arrived in London for my Cinema break.
Elliot’s first holiday (a short trip with family to Jersey).
E3 2005. All the next generation consoles revealed for the first time.
Tokyo Game Show. First time the Revolution controller is revealed.
Started the Blog Films, Gaming and Life.
A great holiday with Roz in Canada.
My first flight in a Helicopter (over Niagara Falls).
Buying the flat below our maisonette.
The triumphant return of Doctor Who.
The triumphant return of Batman to the big screen.
Two new handheld consoles. The DS and the PSP, both of which I got before their UK release. The DS via the Nintendo VIP scheme and PSP via import.
Failing (despite perseverance) to get tickets to the world premiere of Serenity.
And that’s about all I can think of at the moment…
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 30, 2005
I thought I’d post a review of 2005, highlighting my favourite film and game(s) for the year and also to cover a few of the events of 2005.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
The Chronicles of Narnia : The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Well, the title’s certainly a mouthful! I read all the Narnia books in my youth and this adaptation was very close. It also followed the King Kong trend of being a little overlong, having a great beginning, great ending but a middle that was patchy at best.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I thought I’d try to catch a Christmas themed film over the holidays and this was it. My favourite Bond film by some distance.
It’s a shame that George Lazenby never got another chance to play Bond, while he lacked the charisma of many of the other actors who have played Bond, he added a touch of believability that has otherwise been lacking in Bond film.
The reason that this is the best Bond? There are several. There is the incredible score, which is quite possibly the best movie soundtrack of all time, a plot which is a lot more grounded than other bonds, lacking the gadgets and gimmicks. Then of course there is THAT ending, which always brings a huge lump to my throat.
War of the Worlds
This more than anything brings back memories of the London Bombings for me (I watched it in London the day after).
Spielberg chooses to focus less on the story at large, but more on the plight of a family as refugees from invader (in this case, from another world). It losses momentum a bit when Tim Robbins comes into the film, but otherwise this an engrossing film.
A Fistful of Dollars
I got the Spaghetti Western Boxset for Christmas. Out of the Trilogy I have only seen For a Few Dollars More…
This film was a little rough around the edges in comparison to For a Few Dollars More and also Once Upon a Time in the West. Clint Eastwood, however, was as likeable as ever in his “Man With No Name” role.
On the reality front, I spent yesterday (early) evening building a bed for Elliot, his first. Elliot seemed to settle down in the bed quite well, although at around 1:30 he fell out of bed, and from then until approximately 3:30ish, he was a tad unsettled. On a whole, however, it seemed to go quite well. Plus, he has a Batman duvet cover :)
I also have to add that over the last couple of days Elliot has been a pleasure to be around... He has been a very good boy and his whining of the last few weeks seems to have gone away, for the present at least.
I’ve suffered a bit from a cold over the Christmas period, and at present my nose is producing the most disgusting mucus you could imagine. The last time I was this bad I went to the specialist and he suggested an operation on my nose (as I have a ridge of bone which shouldn’t be there in my nose). I eventually didn’t need this as it cleared up… If this persists, however, I may have to rethink.
Just been to the doctor and I'm now suitable dosed up, lets see if I can feel better over the next few days!
Monday, December 26, 2005
Nintendo, you promised me quick and easy Wi-Fi access.
why then can't I seem to spot my Netgear DG834G using the DS. Why am I prevented from playing Mario Kart online.... Why.... Why.... SOB :(
I have tried unsuccessful to manually set this up, and I'm currently looking online for help (with no success so far).
My PSP works fine online - why then does my router snub my happy go lucky DS?
Getting a little annoyed right now, so will probably stop for the night.
I guess I could always buy one of the Nintendo USB Wi-fi connectors, but not sure if these will work if you already have a router and not just your bog standard modem.
Is someone out there trying to prevent me from showing my Mario Kart Superiority to the world?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
“A Christmas Console Carol”
The Ghost of Consoles Past
(I.e. previous generation consoles/computers which I have owned and in some cases, mainly Nintendo consoles, still own and enjoy)
Various Game & Watch
The Ghost of Consoles Present
(Consoles from the current generation which I own)
Gameboy Advance SP
The Ghost of Consoles Future
(Consoles which I will likely be buying in the future)
The morale of this story?
I guess it’s that console gaming can be a very expensive hobby.
Ho Ho Ho… Bah Humbug and all that malarkey…
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.
Completed this only a few minutes ago. I must say that I was a little apprehensive when a PSP version of GTA was announced, especially in light of the fact that it uses the same setting as GTA III. However, I have enjoyed Liberty City Stories immensely.
Whilst it may not be breaking any new ground, it’s good fun to have a portable version of GTA to carry around with you. Also thankfully, the missions are a little shorter in structure than the PS2 versions, so it can still be played in small(ish) bursts, an essential quality for portable gaming.
I’ve heard that a second GTA game is due for the PSP. If this is based around Vice City, I’ll have no complaints at all… Just bring back the helicopters… please.
As I have now completed GTA for the PSP, my portable gaming as free and ready for the arrival if Mario Kart in a few days for Christmas. I’m really looking forward to giving this a bash online, just to see how I fair against the worldwide population.
Lost just keeps on getting better and better… I’m glad to see that there is renewed tension in the group and that Locke has been all but outcast (he’s probably my favourite character of the bunch). Only a few more episodes to go until the end of the series. Although I’m sure that not much will be revealed about the island itself, I’m hoping that we may ay least see what is beneath the mysterious “hatch”.
I had planned to make a few comments about Elliot, but I’ve decided against it. I’ve not been coping very well recently… In fact, Roz has been handling things much better than me (it’s often the reverse). I just hope that this is a patch that Elliot is going through (together with feeling generally under the weather), and I also hope that I can pull myself together a bit more in future.
Monday, December 19, 2005
I read a fair few reviews prior to watching King Kong and the consensus seemed to be that the film was too slow to start with, but then picked up when they reached Skull Island. Also a fair few reviews did not seem to like Jack Black in the role of the director.
Now I had absolutely no problem with the start of the movie, in fact I simply loved every second spent in 1930’s New York. This is probably because I love the look of 1920-30’s America, especially during the prohibition period. I also thought that the choice of Jack Black was very wise, he came off as a kind of young Orson Wells, which fitted the role perfectly.
My problem with the film (and it does have some very big faults), was the realism. Now I know that it’s not very realistic to have gigantic gorilla, BUT my problem was that the human characters seemed to get through so many falls, stampedes and various other incidents with little more than a few cuts and bruises. Anne Darrow alone should have had every bone in her body broken the way that she was shaken and hurled around by Kong. I just couldn’t force myself to suspend my belief to accept that so many people could survive without broken backs, fractures and amputations. Although this was based on a dinosaur inhabited island, this story was still based in the real world, unlike Lord of the Rings, which was pure fantasy. As such, I expected a degree of realism (ignoring Kong and the dinosaurs).
Also some of the CGI was quite ropey, mostly during the dinosaur sequences on Skull Island again. Kong himself was faultless and really was quite an astounding achievement. However, when the CGI did look fake (that stampede sequence strikes me as the most obvious example), it distracted from the film quite a lot.
If it wasn’t for all its faults, this could have been an incredible film, but there was so much that simply didn’t need to be included. At times it seemed like a complete monster mash! When have Kong fight against one T-Rex, when he can fight against three! Why have just a few bugs in a pit when you could have thousands. Peter Jackson needs to learn that at times less is more, which is why The Fellowship of the Rings is still my favourite out the Lord of the Rings.
Elliot has been quite a chore as of late for Roz and I. It seems like his mood seems to change so quickly between being sweet and playful to moody and whiney. It’s possible that he may be feeling a little off colour and as such I’m taking him to the doctors today. He has said a few times that his mouth hurts, but we’ll see what the doctor says. Unfortunately I think that a lot of his whining has little to do with his health and more to do with an unset of the terrible twos.
Also Elliot has been waking up in the night a lot lately. Disrupting both my and Roz’s sleep. I can handle the lack of sleep better than Roz, but it’s still annoying.
It’s at times like this that I really do wonder why couple have more than one baby… Surely there is enough to put you off after the first attempt to stop you from actively making a decision to have another. Then again, maybe people like changing endless nappies, tidying up toys, having little time to themselves and dealing with temperamental toddlers for 24 hours a day for several years of their lives.
After all the appeal is so apparent!
Friday, December 16, 2005
A) I lived in America
B) I owned an XBOX 360 (which I’d be more than willing to part with)
C) I was single!!!
“How far would you go to get an Xbox 360? Well, if one Craigslist.org ad were to be believed, two Boston-area women would do just about anything to get their hands on the next-gen console. Under the headline "trade sex for an xbox 360," a person claiming to be a 22-year-old woman said "Me and my roommate are totally hard core gamers, but our desperate (sic) attempts to get an Xbox 360 have gotten us nothing so far." The poster told responders to "send me a photo of you holding the system, and tell me what I have to do to get it." She did not mention any particular lewd acts but said her roommate was also willing to join in, despite being "really shy." But while the poster was apparently willing to debase herself to get an Xbox 360, she still had standards. "I'm looking for the PREMIUM system, not the ****ty watered down one," she said. Was the ad for real? We'll never know. Inquiries sent to the e-mail address went unanswered, and the posting has since been removed by the ever-vigilant Craigslist Community. “
I note that yet another trailer has been put on the internet recently. This is for V for Vendetta. I just love the tone of the trailer, this has got to be one of my most anticipated films for next yearn (was going to be released this year originally, but was delayed). I actually owned the graphic novel for this, but never got around to reading it. Now I don’t seem to be able to find it. Oh Well, I’m more than happy to wait until the film…
Went on our works Christmas lunch today. Ended up getting thoroughly depressed, for no real reason, left that “party” at just 3:00pm and headed on home. What I did find quite shocking was just how juvenile some of my older male colleagues are… About the only thing that they talked about during the meal was how one of the waitresses had a spectacular ass. Admittedly she did, but I wouldn’t be one to talk endless and quite loudly about if for 2 hours non-stop!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I’ve always been under the impression that the only reason that I’ve managed to get as high as I am in the office is by fluke and fluke alone. I’m always waiting for the day that someone comes up to me and says “Lee, you’re crap… Why exactly are you in your job.” The frightening thing is that this latest case will give my superiors plenty of opportunity to make this observation.
It’s funny but someone I know who is way more qualified than me and holds a very high position in an accounting firm, sympathised with my point of view the other day. He even mentioned that he feels exactly the same, that is, he’s always waiting for someone to come up to him and ask why on earth he thinks he should be in the position he’s in now.
Guess I’m not the only paranoid one out there…
A few new trailers have been posted on the internet recently. These can all be found at this hand link:
A remake of The Poseidon adventure. I had absolutely zero hope that this film would look any good, however, I’m surprised to say that the trailer does look quite promising… One to keep my eye on.
The Da Vinci Code
An adaptation of the (damn good) book. The film also looks very promising with a great cast and also a good director behind the camera. Watching the trailer had me a little worried that they’d given too much of the plot away, but in retrospect, if you haven’t read the book, you wouldn’t really pick up on the significance of any of the scenes shown in the trailer.
Mission Impossible 3
Really liked Mission Impossible, but Mission Impossible 2 is one of my least favourite films (I’d give it approx 3/10 – as it’s one great big ego trip for Tom Cruise). I had high hopes for Mission Impossible 3 as it is being directed by J J Abram (Alias and Lost). Unfortunately, it looks a tad too much like Mission Impossible 2 for my liking.
I was initially disappointed that this (another remake – obviously) was not set during the 80’s and is instead set around the current date. Also, I’m not a great fan of Colin Farrell (although he did make a good Bullseye). I have to say, however, that this also looks like it has potential. Looks similar in style to Michael Mann’s other films, namely Heat and Collateral.
On the Flat front, had a couple of women come and take a look around today – they told me that they worked at the airport and I suspect that they my be airhostess (as they seem to be European). Not too sure whether they will take on the flat, but fingers crossed.
Also, strangely, as I was driving home tonight after picking up some chips from the local chip shop (we had a long day and had little enthusiasm to cook), I happened to drive past a group of women scantily clad in Santa Clause outfits… jogging… Yep. Jogging.
Been feeling a tad low again this evening (as I seem to be as of late). Can’t put my finger on exactly why… Oh well.
Happened to read an interesting article on the BBC news website from Ubi Soft, explaining that the X-Box 360 version of King Kong is virtually unplayable in certain sections as this was only optimised for Hi Def TV’s and as a result on standard definition TV’s the contrast is unbearably low. The boss of Ubi Soft then goes on to suggest that you should play the game on older consoles for a better experience .. To quote: "When it's dark, you don't see where you have to go... I'm a bit disappointed that we didn't see it when we were developing the game. When you play on an Xbox or a PlayStation 2, you start to see that it is beautiful." Made me laugh…
Erm… I’ve rambled for far too long now…
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Still no tenant for the flat, but then again we’ve got a little work to do to the flat (largely thanks to my Dad).
Just before going to court we popped into a local electronics store (Gruts), which is currently having a closing down sale. I happened to notice that they had the latest 26” Bravia LCD TV from Sony (KDL V26A12U – snappy title) which I have had my eye on (picture above). They had this for a little under £700.00 when new this would cost approximately £1,000.00 over here. I had planned to wait until the new Philips Aptura set were released before considering buying a new LCD, but as they were not going to be bringing out a 26” model I was a little uncertain what to do. I couldn’t really go any bigger than 26” for a 2nd TV (My main Plasma is 50”), therefore the Sony seemed like a good deal.
I promptly grabbed my Gamecube and used this to test it for Gaming (as this will be it’s primary purpose). The result, very similar to my current 21” no widescreen Sony LCD, but with a higher response rate and HDMI input. Not a quantum leap by any means, but just what I need in preparation for next generation gaming. So I splashed out and brought it (I had after all budgeted for approximately £1.500.00 for a new LCD). I should imagine that I should be able to sell my old LCD for around £350.00 or more, so a cost of £350.00 for an upgrade seemed more than reasonable to me.
Just need to get it setup just the way I like it, which I think after this evening, I seem to have cracked.
Spent some of the evening trying out a few of my older games on the TV, to see how they look. Soul Calibur 2 in 480p looks fantastic.
I have a few friends who either have an X-Box 360, or are due to receive one shortly. I’ve got no intention of buying am X-Box 360, preferring instead to wait for the Revolution and PS3, but all the same, It feels like I’m missing out on the first round of next-generation gaming. The annoying thing is that I think it may be some time now until I get to see either the Revolution or PS3, I’d guess Christmas next year, but it could even be later than that.
(Short) Film Watched:
Last Order : Final Fantasy VII
This is an anime short that was a bonus with Advent Children.
For some reason Anime doesn’t seem to suit the Final Fantasy story as well as CGI. This is probably because it originated in CGI and seeing an anime cersion just sems plain odd.
The short film filled in a few gaps prior to Final Fantasy VII, but was a little too short, with very little story. Certainly not a patch on Advent Children, which I would rank very highly.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Hmm, just read that studio's are looking to do a remake of The Changeling. No too sure about this, being that it is probably my favorite horror film of all time. I know that it seems to be the in "thing" to remake old horror films lately (Texas Chainsaw, The Fog, Amityville - to name but a few), but I doubt that they could capture the essense of the original Changeling (i.e. I doubt any remake will be able to scare the wits out of me).
Both Marilyn Monroe and also Clarke Cables last film. Both died shortly afterwards (Clark Cabel, a matter of weeks afterwards and Marilyn 1 year afterwards, after the failed production of Somethings Gotta Give).
An unusual character dram, unsurprising, about a group of misfits and how their lives come together. A tale of modern day cowboys written by Marilyn’s husband at the time Arthur Miller. In fact this was film written specifically for Marilyn by Arthur Miller, and film at a time when their marriage was crumbling.
This is probably one of Marilyn’s finest dramatic performances (although I still think that she was best in Bus Stop – also a rodeo film based in Reno). Probably not the most thrilling of stories, but the dialogue is poetic and acting fantastic by all the leads.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Okay then… The time is rapidly approaching. Not long now until Roz and I will have purchased the flat below our maisonette… Just need to catch some sleep and first thing in the morning it’ll be off to court and we will officially own 2 properties… Scary stuff indeed.
I have managed to distribute roughly 1400 leaflet advertising our flat on various parked cars around the island so far. The resulting enquiries from this so far? Just one query – but have heard nothing since and certainly nobody asking to take a look around.. Leaving leaflets seemed like a cheap alternative from advertising in the Guernsey Press, which also received a minimal response. I tried to time this to avoid any rain, but considering this is December I have failed miserably. As a result the leaflets got a tad wet a few days ago, and were probably nothing more then mushy pulp today! As a result, I have learnt to absolutely ignore any weather reports, at no stage have any of them proved to be correct.
I think we’ll just have to face the fact that December is not a good month to advertise a flat to let. After all, who on earth would want to move so close to Christmas. Hopefully we’ll have a lot more luck come January…
The big fat and utterly scary debt that is looming up has been getting to me recently and as my wife would say, I’ve been suffering from the lowbies a bit as a result. I’ve been trying my best to stop myself from getting too low, as Roz is also stressed and has her moments as well and is fearful of a return to the depression she suffered after the birth of Elliot.
Just recently the teaser trailer for X-Men 3 has been posted on the internet. It can be found here:
Now this is a film that has suffered a lot of negative publicity since the departure of Bryan Singer (and also a second director who’s name escapes me). Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) is now on board as the director, and whilst his previous films have been good, if not spectacular, this did not bode well for the film, nor did the tight shooting schedule.
My opinion of the trailer? Pretty damn good. I’d even go as far to say that this looks like it may even have the potential to top the first 2 films… Certainly one to watch.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Secondly, today we had our first attempt at potty training for Elliot. Although we had a couple of successes, on a whole it was a very deflating experience. I felt at my lowest for some weeks and like an utter failure. For non-parents this will probably sound very sad, but trust me, it’s not. I had one of my “why on earth would anyone want to have children” moments.
Anyway, feeling a little better now. Chocolate and Southern Comfort are helping no end!
On Friday afternoon I had intended to distribute leaflets on parked cars advertising our future flat, At fist the weather was awful, then it seems to brighten up. I drove down to one of the “target” car parks, only for it to pour down with rain once again. I had really hoped to get some of the adverts out by the end of the week, but this was not the case. It seems like even the elements are working against me… Oh well, I will cross my fingers for next week.
As the weather was terrible Friday afternoon I watched this film instead.
This is Peter Jacksons film prior to making The Lord of the Rings. It was this film, together with Heavenly Creatures which gave me confidence that he would make a cracking trilogy out of the Lord of the Rings films, and guess what, I was right.
This mixes comedy and horror well, a rare thing indeed for a film. I can only think of a few other films that have managed this, namely House and the Scream films. This is also probably the last great performance by Micheal J Fox before illness impaired his acting.
A great film to watch for anyone who missed it the first time round. I know that this is due to be re-released as a deluxe DVD, although I’m not certain how this differs from the original release that I have.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Been feeling a tad down lately. I think this is largely to do with the fact that it is now less than a week until we own an additional property and our first attempt to get a tenant failed. The next plan was to distribute leaflets on parked cars to see if we get any interest (after all this is cheaper than advertising in the Press again). If we have no success after that, we’ll just have to try and advertise again.
It really is a very daunting and quite frightening prospect. I’m sure that it was the right decision to make in the long run, it’s just that the next few years are going to be a lot harder financially and there’s always a dependence on tenants.
Another irritating thing is that the damn mouse made yet another appearance the other day. Roz is yet to see it and I’m starting to think that she thinks I’m imagining it… Must take a look on the internet to see how long these critters live… Certainly at the moment, poison, humane traps and violent traps, seem to have had no effect. Maybe old age is the only thing that’ll catch it in the end!
I enjoyed Lost the other night. At last they got around to telling Hurley’s back story, and it was a good one. Also Mira Fulan (from B5) made another appearance. Maybe all the odd occurrences on the Island could be attributed to Mimbari testing mankind? It’s always a possibility!
Happened to notice that angryalien.com have added a couple of new “Bunny” shorts, namely a Rocky Horror animation and also a War of the Worlds animation. Both very funny, although the Exorcist is still probably my favourite. They can all be found here:
I think I’m nearing the end of this game... Although to be fair there are still a lot of sub missions and other things to do that I’m yet to try.
Certainly the final boss fight is extremely tough, I tried several times before with no success. Thought I’d leave it and try again soon.
GTA: Liberty City Stories
Onto the 3rd and final island in the game, although have only completed 33% of he game so far. Out of all the GTA games, the best I’ve ever managed is to complete 70% of the game (San Andreas).
Still have a little way to go, and still enjoying the game.
Beyond Good and Evil
Borrowed this off Steven the other evening. I brought it for Christmas for him a couple of years back, but never had the chance to play it myself.
The graphics really are spectacular and the game plays similar to Zelda. So far I’ve been very impressed. It’s such a shame that it didn’t sell well. I know that the team that produced it hoped to do a sequel, but this is unlikely.
I know that the same team also worked on the King Kong game which I’m hoping to get for Christmas. Hope that this is equally good.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Rather gimmicky I know, but still great fun to play about with :)
Elliot on the other hand, doesn’t seem quite so taken by him.
Been looking after Elliot this weekend whilst Roz is shopping in Southampton. This has largely been nice and Elliot has been overall a very good boy. However, last night it seemed as if he was coming down with a cold and as such woke up 10-12 times in the night. The funny thing is he has seemed fine most of today – will have to see how he is tonight (fingers crossed).
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
An interesting film which avoids the obvious pitfall of retreading the exorcist and instead opts for a largely court based affair.
It’s a shame that it felt necessary to use so many CGI effect at certain parts of the film. The thing about CGI is that it doesn’t look real, therefore negating any scare factor. Other scares in the movie, namely the strange and slightly disturbing body contortion, were a lot more effective.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
On a stressful note, the people who were looking to let our flat have now pulled out and we no longer have anyone interested. The advert is now also no longer in the press, so for the moment, we shouldn’t expect anymore phone calls… We have a plan B and C up our sleeves which we will start to execute soon, I just pray that we find a tenant soonish, I don’t think my head could take the stress :(
Grand Theft Auto : Liberty City Stories
Still ploughing through this game at the moment. It’s starting to get really tough now, with some serious planning needed for some of the missions, however I shall persevere.
Playing this made me want to take a second look at San Andreas. Just been playing this for 30 minutes doing absolutely nothing but driving around. It’s easy to forget just how huge the map is in this game. It would take you forever to explore every last inch of the place, time that I simply do not have.
Oh also taken a look at a couple of game to film trailers, namely for Dead or Alive and Bloodrayne. Hmm, well Dead or Alive looks like a poor imitation of Charlie’s Angels (that’s right a poor imitation). While Bloodrayne looks like a “Z” grade fantasy flick. Why oh why make a film out of a game that nobody bought and nobody liked?
Oh well, until next time…
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children
I think that I first should comment about Final Fantasy : The Spirits Within. This to me, was a Final Fantasy film in name only. Okay yes, it was CGI and yes it was created by Square, but it had no elements whatsoever which identified it to the Final Fantasy series. Almost all the Final Fantasy games are set in different worlds, but they each share similar themes, creatures (chocobos, moogles etc), spells and numerous other elements which identify them to the Final Fantasy series. Spirits Within had none of this.
Advent Children is a true Final Fantasy film and follows on 2 years following the end of Final Fantasy VII, and boy is it good. However, saying that, for anyone who hasn’t actually played Final Fantasy VII, the film is totally wasted on them. They likely wouldn’t have a clue what was going on and to be fair, even I found it hard to follow at times. It was great to see familiar characters back on the screen, even if some of the minor characters like Yuffie and Barrat, had less screen time.
My only complaint would be that the film barely stops for a breath. It’s far more action packed than I had anticipated, so much so that beautiful CGI characters and backgrounds flash by at an alarming rate. Also, I said above, even for a Final Fantasy veteran, it was difficult to follow the story, which to be fair, is quite common with Japanese animation, be it anime or CGI.
Watching Final Fantasy brought home again how long it’s been since I played a decent RPG on any system. The last great Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy IX for the PS1. The Final Fantasy games for the PS2, while okay, just don’t cut the mustard when compared to the older games in the series.
I’m hoping that Final Fantasy XII and Dragon Quest VIII are as good as they appear upon their release (in 2006 hopefully). It feels like an age since I’ve played
Continuing on a gaming note, it is only 3 days now until the release of Mario Kart DS. I’m not getting this on the release date, instead it is at the very top of my Christmas list. Although it pains me not to play such a great game on its release, it just means that I have something really special to look forward to for Christmas Day.
Eurogamer have a great review of Mario Kart on their site (look here). I’m really quite fund on Eurogamer as a gaming site, if only because they tend to add a little humour into their reviews.
Also since getting hooked on the comic strips on Penny Arcade and also CTRL +ALT+DEL as linked on my friends blog, stevestreeting.com, I have also found another highly amusing online gaming comic strip. This is at vgcats.com. The latest Mario Kart comic amused me…
Monday, November 21, 2005
I seem to have picked up a stomach bug and as a result my night was filled with the splendor of a mix of vomiting and diariah... All very pleasant. To make matters worse Roz also seems to have been hit by the same bug and joined me in a resounding corus of vomiting. It really is surprising that Elliot didn't wake up.
Roz always is very good to me when I'm sick, knowing how much I hate it... So a big thank you to her, even though she was sick herself.
Okay, hope tonight goes better.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Just as I thought it had gone away, following reports from the flat downstairs that they had seen a mouse, it appears that it has decided to return to our portion of the property. So once again, the traps have gone down (almost taking off my fingers in the process) and so has the poison.
I cannot explain how much I want to see a dead mouse caught in one of those traps… Does that make me sick? Well at this stage I don’t care…
In other matters the advert for our flat to be went in the paper yesterday and we have a couple of people coming to view it this afternoon. I can only pray that we get a tenant agreed and signed soon. The main stress that I’m suffering with at the moment is that we will struggle to get a tenants.
I’m sure that the rash on my arms is stress related, what with the property, work and other family issues as of late, I’m surprised that I haven’t ripped my arms from my sockets…
Just realised that this blog entry has turned into a little rant, but what the hell. It’s early in the morning and if I want to rant I will rant.
I guess I could talk about films and games. After all I have just recently watch The Gift and Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children, but I think I may save that for another day.
I will say on a film related note that the teaser trailer for Superman Returns was posted on the net yesterday and it sure does look very promising. I was a little dubious about the choice of actor for Superman. Not because he was an unknown, just that he didn’t look as if he had the charisma for the role (can anyone replace Christopher Reeve after all)? But watching the trailer, rather than just looking a still set photo’s, I can see that he has potential in the role.
I think that’s me for now.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
It was my birthday the other day (Monday) and I received (amongst other things), Batman Begins and Star Wars Episode 3 on DVD and GUN and GTA:Liberty City Stories.
Unfortunately following a couple of days off around my birthday I returned to work to find that my one up-to-date and tidy desk had become a war zone. Things seem to have gone from bad to worse at work and I must admit that I’m dreading slugging through the crap that has piled up when I return back to work on Monday. Not only is it all rather complex work, it’s also all very urgent work… This is the most behind I have been behind since I started my current position and it bugs me somewhat!
I have also been remembering my dreams a lot recently. This normally happens when I’m feeling under the weather, but at present, fingers crossed, I’ve been feeling fine. I always find it remarkable how REAL dreams seem when you’re asleep, even if they are completely bizarre. Then when you awake, it takes a moment or two for you to reconcile the difference between reality and your dreams.
Anyway… back to games and films…
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
This like Episodes 1 and 2 also has a lot wrong with it when compared to the original trilogy. However, it also does a lot right and is a much more satisfying film overall.
The best Batman film so far (probably even better than Mask of the Phantasm). It gets almost everything spot on. The cast is excellent (could you possibly find a better cast for the film? I think not). Warner Bros also was wise to choose an excellent director and this pays off no end.
My only complaints would be that the costume is STILL too bulky and reminiscent of the previous 4 Batman movies… They should have gone with something more lightweight and similar too the comics. Also at times that action is not directed very well, choose fast MTV style editing making everything while fast, a little difficult to follow. This is especially evident towards the end of the film.
Otherwise… Absolutely great.
GTA: Liberty City Stories
At first I felt a little disappointed with the game – after all the initial impressions are exactly the same as GTA3. However, as I’ve progressed I’m enjoying it more and more. A worthy (if slightly unoriginal) addition to the GTA series.
One point worth mentioning, is that that this game really highlights the slow response rate of the PSP screen. A blurring of the screen is very evident though out the game. I have never noticed any problems of this kind with the DS, but then again this could be because the PSP screen is that bit larger than the DS!
Have only just got this today… Seems very good so far. A good mixture of missions and objectives. Very much like a western GTA, but that’s no bad thing.
I have read reviews which have complained about the length of the game (i.e. that it’s too short), but then again ICO was a very short game, and that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most critically acclaimed games on the PS2!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Also the artwork looks stunning:
It’s been several days now since my last sighting of the mouse. I now have traps (both lethal and non-lethal) and poison in which to try and deal with the problem. However, the last time I saw the little blighter, he casually scuttered out from beneath the fridge, took a brief look at the poison and the traps, promptly ignored them, and then scuttered happily behind the oven. I have now laced the poison with scrapings of chocolate in order to tempt it further, but have seen no sign that this has been touched at all! What does it expect? Cooked meals?
Now Roz has informed me that our fridgefreezer seems to have stopped working. I know that mice are prone to chewing electricity cables and if I find out that it’s mice related I’ll be less than pleased (we really don’t need the expense right now).
The other day I happened to read on a Gamecube forum that the UK Gamecube is capable of outputting progressive scan (480p). Now it was prior belief that only US Gamecubes were capable of this, but if you own freeloader and a US version of a progressive scan game, then you can still activate progressive scan mode by holding down the B button as this loads up.
I tried this on the 2 US games which I own which support progressive scan, namely Animal Crossing and Mario Golf. The effect really was quite stunning. The picture was sharper, the effect of any blurring on a LCD was significantly reduced (very noticeable on Animal Crossing) and overall the picture quality was improved considerably. This makes me wonder why on earth a progressive scan mode isn’t included in PAL games? After all, the Gamecube is capable of this, and the same can be applied to the PS2, where US copies of games support progressive scan (and even HD is some cases) and the PAL games only support standard 480i. It really is no wonder why people import consoles. I can only assume that this is because High Definition sets have been out for some time in the US and have only recently started coming out in Europe, but still if this is incorporated in a US version of a game, surely it isn’t too difficult to retain this for the PAL version.
I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled to see if The Legend of Zelda : Twiglight Princess supports progressive scan. If so, I may import rather than buying a PAL copy. The only down side of this, is that it’s highly unlikely that freeloader will work with the Revolution idc, so I’ll have several US games that I will be able to play on the Revolution, however, I’ll still keep my Gamecube, so I’ll always still have this to play them on if needs be. It also occurs to me that I’ll have to keep an eye out to see whether the Revolution supports progressive scan, and if so, whether this is the same for all regions.
The PS2 version of GUN should be supporting 480p, which I should hopefully be getting a few days after my birthday. It’ll be interesting to see how this looks on my LCD.
Monday, October 31, 2005
It wasn’t my fault, it flew straight into my car, then I’m reasonably certain, went under my tire. I couldn’t really stop to check on it as I was on a busy road at the time, but to be honest, I really do think it was a goner… I couldn’t tell exactly what type of bird it was, it look white-ish and medium sized to me. Probably a pigeon, but possibly a dove (hope not, as I’m sure that would be a bad omen). At least it wasn’t a magpie, then I’d really be panicking!
Strangely enough Roz and I also signed conditions of sale today for “the flat below”. What a bizarre day in which to sign away such a huge sum of money!
As it is Halloween today and I’m out tonight, I thought I’d take the opportunity to watch a couple of horror films over the weekend instead. Both of which I’d probably consider as “light” Halloween movies, i.e. neither to gory or too scary. Not chosen for this, it just happens that I hadn’t seen these two movies for a little while.
Another enjoyable Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration. This time based on the famous Irving Welsh novel.
What is quite unusual about this film is that the character of Icabar Crane is portrayed as someone who is more liable to faint, then take action, when faced with anything slightly perilous.
As usual for a Tim Burton film this is a grant treat to the eyes. Every single frame is a glorious gothic postcard. Also for once, Tim Burton also manages to handle action better than he has in the past. Overall a good “light” horror, with many, many decapitations.
Directed by Tobe Hopper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and written and produced by Steven Spielberg (you may have heard of him).
This was a big favourite film when I was younger, probably one of my top ten films. Time has not been too kind on the special effects, some of which seem very hokey now. This is also a film that ignores the horror rule that says that if things are hidden they are much scarier, instead, it throws everything and anything at the screen, therefore lessening any possible scare factor.
I remember reading the Spielberg was not very happy with the way that Hopper was directing this and therefore directed part of the movie himself (although this is not credited). Certain scenes do tend to seem very “Spielberg” to me, so this seems highly probably.
A very engaging story which brings back so many memories.
I also thought I’d take this opportunity, seeing how it’s Halloween, to mention that there have only ever been 2 movies ever to truly creep me out. These are “The Changeling” and “The Ring – Original Japanese version (Rungu)”. Both of these stories are abut ghosts (or vengeful spirits) and also involve dead bodies down wells. Now I have absolutely no idea why I have a fear of wells, maybe it’s something subconscious going back to my childhood? Ghosts, however, I can definitely explain. I’m 99% certain that when I was a child (probably about 7 or 8) I saw the ghost. So more than movie monsters, psycho’s or aliens, the idea of ghosts in films (if handled subtly and realistically) really creeps me out.
When I first watched The Changeling I was so freaked out that I had to stop the film roughly half way through (as the tape is being played of the séance). It’s only after I managed to find the guts to play the rest of the film that I found out that following this scene the film isn’t quite as damn scary as it was up top that point. The Changeling really is an undiscovered (by many) horror classic, which far outdoes better known films like The Exorcist and The Omen.
The Ring, is just on of the most disturbing and unnatural films I’ve ever seen. The video sequence just seems so unearthly, so eerie and bizarre. Then there’s that ending… Enough to give you nightmares for years to come...
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
"I can only say that it's coming out during 2006, but it will be after the current fiscal year. We hope to make it a simultaneous worldwide release as much as it's possible."
It looks like Nintendo might be following Microsofts lead and aiming for a simultaneous worldwide launch. I've also heard rumours that this may be June 2006... But hey, I don't care, just so long as I can get hold of it by Christmas 2006 I'll be a happy man :)
Now does this mean that Sony might also aim for a simultaneous worldwide launch for the PS3? I'd say doubtful when you consider how poorly handled the PSP launch was.
I'd also like to add that it's currently October... Thats right OCTOBER! So why is it that I'm seeing so many damn Christmas adverts at the moment? Why is it that they are selling advent calendars? Why is it that shops in the high street ALREADY have Christmas trees in their windows?
It isn't even Halloween yet... Or Guy Fawkes Night... Or even the evnt of the year (namely my birthday).
Christmas is in DECEMBER... Can't the shops wait even a little bit?????
Advance Wars: Dual Strike.
I finished campaign mode the other day, but I'm still playing this (just not quite as frantically). There's plenty more to keep me busy as well as a hard campaign mode (which really is a challenge).
Have I mentioned how much I like this game? Thought so... I'll mention it again, one more time. What a fantastic game.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Poem Collection volume 2
This comprises of several poems written over the last few years… Some of which really are a little surreal, and also a couple from my not yet finished short story, Cry of Xenotaph.
A Stanley Kubrick film that I had not until just now, watched.
Considering that this film was made in the early sixties, it treads around the subject matter very carefully, never really fully explaining the “relationship” between James Mason’s character and his step daughter. Although the issue of paedophilia is not to be taken lightly, this film is handles with both great tact and genuine emotion.
I must admit, I’m intrigued to know now whether the 2000 remake treated the subject matter any differently, or remained as ambiguous.
This, Just like Dr Strangelove, really shows how versatile and actor Peter Sellers really was. It’s almost a shame that he became eventually typecast as Inspector Clouseau, as he really was an outstanding dramatic as well as comic actor.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Part of me felt that this was a little futile as I doubt that I have many visitor to my site (to be honest I haven’t checked the number of visitors for some time now), however, it has never really been the number of visitors to my site which has motivated this. I tried and failed to get “World on Fire”, my only completed novel, published, as such I just wanted my body of work to be available in the public domain in some form, hence the website. It’s just nice to know that my stories are available for anyone to read on the internet should they wish to, even if these are seen by a small scattering of people.
My last completed story was “Dance ‘til Dawn”, which I finished earlier this year. It’s a story which I’m rather pleased with. It deviated a little from the original intent of the story, but overall the story simply is what it is, and is as complete and satisfying as I had intended it to be. Since then I have been writing Cry of Xenotaph in very short bursts, more often than not at work during my lunch hour (or should that be three quarters of an hour). I’m also aware that since starting my blog, I’ve probably written even less of Cry of Xenotaph, but hey, at least I’m writing in some form or another.
The problem really boils down to time. When I’m not working, I’m usually spending time with Roz and Elliot (which I don’t mind), this means that when I do get my own free time I usually want to do something less taxing (pun intended), namely either watching a film or playing a console game. Writing, it seems, comes further down the agenda. It just take quite a lot of effort, and by the end of the day I just don’t feel in the mood to be creative.
The funny thing is I have so many ideas for more stories, be they short stories or novels. I could give you a huge list of possible titles for ideas that I’ve had, to name a few:
The Marilyn Project
Children of Lazarus
The Love of a Stranger
For some of these I have even written a short outline, and a few I have even written the first couple of pages. There are many more that are just idea’s waiting to float to the surface. The funny thing is that to me at least, these stories have already been told, it’s just a case of putting words of the page to fully flesh them out. It’s almost as if the job of creating these stories has already been done and it’s only the laborious task of putting them on paper that awaits. To some degree this puts me offs starting to write, as it lacks excitement, but often or not the joy is weaving the extra details into these stories, the type of details that don’t occur to me until I’m writing a particular scene. Heck, I just wish I could plug my mind direct into a PC and download the stories into word, it would save one hell of a lot of time!
I very much doubt that I’ll finish Cry of Xenotaph this year, it is after all quite an ambitious and strikingly different tale when compared to my other work. I’ll likely make it a New Years resolution come December the 31st.
One other thing which I have been meaning to do for some time, is to see if I could find some sort of online forum, or links page for various writers who have published online.
On a different matter, I've seen that damn mouse (I presume it's a mouse - and not mice, i.e. multiple) on two occasions this evening. Still no luck with the traps either... Grrr...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I set traps last night, but had no luck catching the little blighter. About a year ago I thought I saw a mouse, but was not 100% convinced… Now I am certain that it was a rodent this time around. I guess this is just one disadvantage of living so close to a field (along with the gigantic spiders which have on occasion have sought refuge in our house).
I shall lay the traps over the next few days to see if I have any luck.
The Virgin Suicides
The Debut film by Sophia Coppola (Lost in Translation).
It’s obvious from watching this that Sophia has the potential to become as talented a director as her father. Both films made by her have been slightly offbeat and yet intriguing. I preferred this film over Lost in Translation, but neither has been exactly spectacular.
The Virgin Suicides started off very well, but seemed to lose direction two thirds of the way through the film. The ending also, whilst expected, did not feel particularly conclusive. Good performance by a younger Kirsten Dunst as Lux the most rebellious of the five suicidal sisters.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Once Upon a Time in the West
It has been many years now since I last watched this film. I brought this copy in a sale in HMV in Canada earlier this year and had not got around to watching it until now. To my surprise, I think that I much prefer it now than I did several years ago.
This really is an epic western from Sergio Leone in every sense. The surroundings are gorgeous, the music (from Ennio Morricone) is haunting and the four lead actors mesmerising. I would say that it is probably my favourite western, although I am yet to see For a Few Dollars More and The Good the Bad and the Ugly (these films are on my Birthday/Christmas list as part of the Spaghetti Western boxset, so hopefully I’ll be able to watch these soonish).
This is also a film that runs at it’s own pace, at close to three hours long this is quite a length for a western and at times it does drag a little, but generally you’re too taken in by the absolute beauty of the film to notice. It really has to be one of the most cinematic films out there, every scene is a picture postcard which is only enhanced by the fantastic score.
I could go on endlessly about how amazing Charles Bronson (yes that’s right), Peter Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale are in the film, but I won’t. I will however, mention that Claudia Cardinale is simply drop dead gorgeous as Mrs McBain. A sexy and strong woman, something rarely seen in westerns.
I must also add that one of my absolute favourite films of all time Once Upon a Time in America was the last film directed by Sergio Leone and style wise follows this film very closely (hence the similar title). Also the music whilst different is very similar o Once Upon a Time in the West. Together they form a beautiful picture of two strikingly different periods of American history and complement each other perfectly.
On thing that I did notice during the film was that the lip synching was slightly out at certain times. This is something that I notice on a few other occasions whilst watching films or even occasionally TV. At first I thought that this was a problem with my plasma screen. I have since come to the conclusion that this isn’t my plasma, it’s just that this is significantly more noticeable on a 50” screen than it would be on a 28” or 32” set.
Just one of the minor downsides of owning a bloody big TV. It make all the imperfections of a film, be they audio or visual, that more apparent.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Mr Smith Goes to Washington
I ordered this from Amazon a few weeks back as A) I'm a big fan of James Steawart, B) It's also happens to be a "classic" movie that I've never gotten round to watching.
I think to fully appreciate this film, you really need to be American. The patriotic angle and love for ones country is really is lost to anyone outside the US. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the film it's just that I think that some of it's charm was lost on me. It certainly didn't have the sparkle and appeal of It's a Wonderful Life (another classic Stewart and Capra collaboration).
The best thing about this film really has to be a young James Stewart in such a fish out of water role.
Half Life 2
Well I've just completed this game.
It's interesting that I was reading an article in Edge the other day about games adapted into movies (an how often or not how utter rubbish they automatically become). If any producer had an ounce of sense, he'd look at Half Life 2 and just film it, taking the set pieces, storyline and everything that is in the games and translating it perfectly for the cinema. What a film that would make.
This is definately the best PC game I've played in countless years, and also one of my favourite games of this year. I just hope that Half Life 2: Aftermath (and the Lost Coast) won't need a more powerful PC to run them... We'll see idc.
Just need to work on Killer 7 now...
Friday, October 14, 2005
Well Daniel Craig has been official been announced by Sony as the next James Bond (the 6th to take on the role). What amused me most is that shortly before the official announcement, this was common knowledge anyway, the reason… Daniel Craigs Mum, God bless her…
Daniel Craig's mother appears to have confirmed that he is the next James Bond today, amid feverish speculation that the actor is the sixth official 007.
""We are thrilled to bits. He could bring something very interesting to the part. It will be life-changing," she told the Liverpool Daily Post.
My thoughts on the matter? I would have still have preferred Clive Owen in the role, but what I have seen of Daniel Craig, he seems like a fine actor. His appearance is a tad more rugged than I would expect for Bond, not to mention a tad blonder than I would expect. However, if they are aiming for a grittier more hard hitting Bond, reminiscent od the early Connery years, I think that Daniel Craig could very well cary that off.
Another rumour surfaced on the internet yesterday suggesting that Michael Keaton is being considered for the role of the Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins. Now, other than the fact that it would bee cool to have the ex-Batman in the new Batman movies, I think that this is a fantastic idea. Now ignore your current perception of Michael Keaton and cast your mind back to Beetlejuice … this is practically as close to the Joker as you could possibly get and Michael Keaton total blew me away as Beetlejuice! Please, please let this rumour come to fruition, I honestly can’t think of anyone better suited to the role (although I have always thought that Dennis Quaid has the Joker smile).
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I’m filled with a mixed sense of fear and excitement.
All we have to do now is find a tenant!
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Okay, I’m pretty addicted to this (Roz can vouch for this – as there is hardly a free moment that goes by that I’m not playing this). This is just the perfect type of game for a handheld, i.e. something that you can play in short bursts, but still holds your attention.
The reason why it’s such a fantastic game? Quite simply it’s the balance you need to strike between the right forces you choose, the placement of troops and the attack strategy used. It’s all about tipping the balance of power on a map in your favour, be this a strategic area or the number of properties taken over, then using this to your advantage.
Half Life 2
Roz commented the other day that I seem to have bought a fair few games lately and not completed any. This is quite true (although I don’t think you can “complete” Harvest Moon as such. So I thought I’d try my best to finish Half Life 2, as I suspect I’m nearing the end of the game.
Also with my birthday and Christmas coming up, the chances are I may have a couple more games coming my way idc. (fingers crossed)
Sunday, October 09, 2005
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Someone in Guernsey, build us a decent cinema!
Also still suffering from a cold at the moment (as has Roz and Elliot). It meant that I had to miss out on a friends stag night (sorry Mark), which was a disappointment. Then agian I really wouldn't have enjoyed myself and Mark sounds like he had a good time, which after all is the most important thing.
Now this has been one of my most anticipated films this year (alongside Batman Begins and Sin City). Well how did it rank. I’d have to say that it was just as good as the best episodes of Firefly, in other words, very damn good (or “shiny” for Firefly fans).
The film seemed quite a bit darker than the serious, Mal in particular seemed a lot more bitter and uncompassionate than previously, but maybe that could be attributed to the lack of Inara from the crew. All of the original cast were in the film, including Inara and Book (although to a lesser degree), and each had a moment to shine. Some characters obviously had more prominence, namely Mal and River, but this is to be expected given the nature of the story.
There were a couple of surprising shocks in the story, and I won’t mention them here. Although at one stage near the end of the film, I exchanged a glance with another Firefly friend of mine (Nig) as if to say “No, they can’t do that”. Not in disappointment, just surprise.
My only other concern was that for Non-Firely fans they may find it all a tad confusing, although another friend (Mark) still enjoyed the film and gave it a 8/10, so I guess it can play to fans and non-fans alike.
Overall, just as good as I’d hoped for and a good way to end a fantastic, if short lived, series.
There has been a lot of grumbling and disappointment on various Firefly sites as the film has only performed modestly. I’d say that it’s likely to make a profit, but it is not the stellar smash that some people were hoping for. The main reason for this hope is if it was significantly successful then the likelihood of more films, or even the chance of returning to a series would be a possibility. As it stands, I’m not certain that this will happen and while this is a tad disappointing (even in the cinema I felt myself get a little chocked up near the end, knowing that this would likely be the last I’d see of the Firefly crew), I think that we should be grateful that Joss Whedon has taken the time to make a film which gives a natural end to the series.
As it stands, I’d watch the film again in a heartbeat (just not in cinema 3 of the Mallard if I can help it).
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I hope to feel better soon as I have a friends stag night to attend on Friday night and Serenity to go and see at the local cinema on Saturday.
Advance Wars: Duel Strike
My parents-in-law gave me a gift the other day to say a "thank you" for doing all the driving on our Jersey trip. The gift was a copy of Advance Wars: Duel Strike for the DS. It was really very generous and kind of them, as I never expecting a gift at all.
Anyway, what I have played of the game so far has confirmed that it is equally as good as Advance Wars on the GBA. The quality of the graphics are far from spectacular, instead they are functional, but that really syuits this type of game best. I can tell that this will be one game that I will be playing for a long, long time. My only wish is that someday in the not too distant future that Nintendo bring out a wifi online version of the game, as I'd imagine that this would be fantastic played against real opponents around the globe.
There is a great review of this game at Eurogamer that really does explain the appeal very well:
Saturday, October 01, 2005
I am Sam
One of Roz’s films, not really normally my cup of tea (a tad chick flickish), but still quite enjoyable none the less.
Both Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning really steal the show. For such a young girl, Fanning really does seem to have cracked acting spectacularly. It was also nice to see a new film with Michelle Pfeiffer in, it seems like quite some time since she has starred in a decent film.
Overall, while the story was very touching, it was also a little predicable. It reminded me in some respects of Rainman, but not quite up to this league.
Duel and Jurrasic Park
Watched Jurassic Park shortly after rewatching duel. Spielberg certainly knows how to direct suspense and tension, and after watching the documentary on Duel, I can see that he looks to Hitchcock for guidance in this respect.
Both great movies, Jurassic Park especially is almost the pinnacle of summer blockbusters.
Jurassic Park 8/10
Just rewatched this before. I have to say that there are 2 scenes in particular that really make this movie for me.
The first is the conversation between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, in which Dennis Hopper explains coolly and calmly the origins of the people of Sicily, knowing that what he will say will lead to a quick execution.
The second the conversation between James Gandolfini (he of Sopranon’s fame) and Patricia Arquette in which James Gandolfini explains how easy killing becomes after the third “hit”… Here’s the quote in full:
“Now the first time you kill somebody, that's the hardest. I don't give a shit if you're fuckin' Wyatt Earp or Jack the Ripper. Remember that guy in Texas? The guy up in that fuckin' tower that killed all them people? I'll bet you green money that first little black dot he took a bead on, that was the bitch of the bunch. First one is tough, no fuckin' foolin'. The second one... the second one ain't no fuckin' Mardis Gras either, but it's better than the first one 'cause you still feel the same thing, y'know... except it's more diluted, y'know it's... it's better. I threw up on the first one, you believe that? Then the third one... the third one is easy, you level right off. It's no problem. Now... shit... now I do it just to watch their fuckin' expression change.”
Good film, great direction by Tony Scott and a great scripy by Quentin Tarantino
On the Gaming front I’m still enjoying Killer 7 and have also just found out that a new update for Half Life 2 has been posted. The game now seems to be running just as smoothly as it did previously. Phew! Now I have the conundrum of which game to continue playing, Half Life 2 or Killer 7!
On the property front, we have been given the go ahead for our mortgages and the surveys have come out fine, so it’s just a case of our neighbour finding a property that she likes before we own not one, but two properties! On top of that, we become landlords. All very frightening stuff.
To be continued!
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Although this technology will be initially very tempting, it seems to have all the benefits of LCD and Plasma televisions with none of the disadvantages. Now at present I have both a plasma television (50” Philips) and an LCD television (21” Sony). My plasma I use for day-to-day television and also watching films. My LCD I use solely for playing console games (Gamecube and PS2). The reason that I have a separate television (and a smaller one at that) for gaming is because 1) the inherent risk of burn in on plasma screens and 2) gaming on such a large screen can be a tad disorientating.
The disadvantages of plasma screens are:
Risk of burn in.
The disadvantages of LCD screens are:
Very poor contrast.
Poor response times, which result in a ghost/blur effect of fast moving images.
The disadvantages of CRT screens are:
Bloody big (especially for large sets 32-36”)
Poor picture geometry.
Can generally only show standard definition pictures, namely 480i or 575i.
Now the SED screens seem to be able to keep the sleek thin appearance of LCD and plasma screens and at the same time solve all of the disadvantages shown above. The first sets due out (50”) even have a resolution of 1920x1080, which is the highest current HDTV resolution and is currently rarely found even in top range LCD and plasma sets.
I shall be watching these televisions with interest to see what the response is like on there release.
As I have been unable to play Half Life 2 after the oh-so-glorious “update” which has spoilt my enjoyment of the game, I decided to start playing Killer7 instead.
My initial impression of the game are that it plays like a mixture of a David Lynch and Manga in playable form. It really is quite baffling! I think I must have spent the first hour of the game trying to figure out exactly what the hell was going on, what I was meant to be doing and trying to get used the quite unorthodox controls. I’m starting to get to grips with it now and have started to enjoy the admittedly freaky experience.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
"We have really great people though as the villains in this film, Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace -- Venom and Sandman," said Dunst, who plays Mary Jane Watson in the Spidey films.
"Maybe I wasn't supposed to say that," she added before reversing her claim. "It's the other way around. You're right," she conceded to a journalist.
Dunst has yet to receive a script for the third film that will begin shooting in January. "But I know the general story. There's a lot that they're trying to fit into this one."
I’m sure that Dunst will get a slap on the wrist for letting this slip before any official announcement.
I must admit that I’m a little surprised. Although this rumour has been circulating for a little while now, Sam Raimi has always shown distaste for the character of Venom and also the ending of Spiderman 2 hinted at a return of the Green Goblin, or perhaps Hobgoblin. There is also the fact that the backstory for Venom i.e. the symbiotic spidey suit, is quite long and fitting this in together with yet another villain, seems quite a lot. They will either need to condense the whole Venom story a lot or change it considerably.
On a personal note, I used to love the character of Sandman in Spiderman comics and I’m very pleased to see that he will be making an appearance in the film.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Half Life 2
Okay, so I have really been enjoying Half Life 2 these last couple of weeks. I’m around 2/3rds of the way through the game and presently at quite a hard section where I need to arrange the placement of several gun turrets to stop enemy guards coming my way. However, it isn’t this which is bothering me, no it’s the damn update to Half Life 2 which has all but ruined my game.
I hadn’t played the game for a few days, but when I started it up last night it connected to my steam account and uploaded an update to Half Life before I could play. Steam did not ask if I wanted to upload the update, it just did it without asking permission. Now I know that there will shortly be an additional chapter to Half Life 2 called The Lost coast which will be available soon which uses HDR ( a system to enhance the graphics). This update appears to have included the HDR in the main game, but not The Lost Coast (presumably) just yet.
Now when I started to play the game again I was horrified to find that it now runs really badly. The frame rate has dropped, it now seems very unresponsive and frankly is really no fun to play at all. I checked the video setting and switched off the HDR, but this made no difference whatsoever. I went back to the video setting changed the resolution to 640x480 (previously 800x600) and took down all the other settings to their bare minimal. The game ran slightly better, but was still a pale comparison to how it was previously. The fact that the section that I’m currently playing through is quite hectic, only make matters worse.
Now I’m in no way an expert when it comes to PC graphics cards (I leave that to my friends), I’m just really pissed off that 1) I didn’t even get the choice whether to install the upgrade or note and 2) that valve seem to have not optimised the upgrade to ensure that it sill ran smoothly on lower end PC’s. There is no way in the world that I would want to pay out to upgrade my PC just for one game, so it looks likely but I’ll have no option but to stop playing. As I said I was 2/3rds of the way through the game and WAS really enjoying it, however, I cannot see me continuing to play when it is now running so badly that it impairs upon the enjoyment of the game.
This is just another reminder of why I hate PC gaming so much. At least with console gaming you know that the game has been optimised to run at it’s very best on the console and that it will run no better or worse than any other console (of the same make).
I may eventually have to buy Half Life 2 for the PS3 or Revolution (wouldn’t it be great controlling the gravity gun with the revolution controller) just to finish the game and so long as a console version (other than X-box) is released.
Land of the Dead
I’m a fan of Geroge Romero’s Dead movies, namely Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the dead, and was quite looking forward to a continuation of this series with Land of the Dead, especially after the successful recent remake of Dawn of the Dead. My only complaint about the remake of dawn of the Dead was that next to the original there seemed to be an awful lot of action and not a lot of depth. This same complaint can also be said of Land of the Dead, except if anything it seemed far shallower.
The fact that the film seemed so isolated and did not see anything outside of the main location, is not the main problem as the other films also were contained a within set locations (a house, a mall, a military complex). The difference is that in the other films there was a sense of what was happening to the world outside, mainly through television and radio broadcasts. Land of the Dead seemed to so keen to get the limited storyline done and dusted as soon as possible, that there was no time to explore the far reaching effects of the “end of the world”, so much so that this seemed ignored.
Overall, too much action, very little tension, very little depth, thin storyline, shallow characters but plenty of gore (even for a 15).
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Integral version (R2 Japanese DVD)
I’ve just sat down and re-watched Leon. I always remembered it being an excellent movie, but I think I must have forgotten exactly how remarkable it truly is. This is by far Luc Besson’s finest movie. It takes may aspect of Nikita, including Jean Reno as a “cleaner” and builds upon them, adding both depth and style. Natalie Portman is also stunning in her debut role, showing how fine an actress she is even at such a young age.
This version is the extended version which was release theatrically only in France and is approximately 25 minutes longer than the original cut. The additional scenes intensify the relationship between Leon and Mathilda, as Leon introduces her to her first hits as a hitman and also wines and dines her. I can the reasons why they may have been cut from the original cut as the Lolita style relationship (although never developed) and introduction to violence for such a young child may have been a little too much for American audiences. However, in my opinion they just add to an already fantastic film.
I had to get this version of the film imported from Japan, which is also region 2. However, after looking on the internet, I note that this version of the film has now recently been released in America.
I have heard rumours over the last couple of year about a potential sequel to this film, focusing on a grown up Mathilda. If Luc Besson managed to up his game and get back into gear (his films following Leon have been a bit of a disappointment), then this could be a fantastic prospect.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
To Catch a Thief
It’s been quite some time since I last watched this film. I picked this up as part of a 3 for £17 deal at HMV when I was in Jersey the other week.
Overall this is one of Hitchcock’s poorer efforts. It lacks the suspense and gripping story of his other films. The only redeeming features are the stunning scenery of the French Riviera and great performance by Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
One to watch if you’re a fan of Hitchcock, Cary Grant or Grace Kelly, but otherwise not the most interesting or stimulating of films.
Watching To Catch a Thief got me thinking about Grace Kelly. She is the only actress that I can think off that always seemed to exude such a level of style, sophistication and dare I say it, grace. Even before becoming Princess Grace, she carried herself like a princess. It made me remember that Hitchcock had written the part in “Marnie” specifically for Grace Kelly to return to acting, however, this was never meant to be and eventually Hitchcock gave the role to Tippi Hendren. I think that it would have been fascinating to see Grace Kelly take on the role, although Tippi Hendren did it justice, you can’t help but wonder if it would have been a better film with Grace Kelly in the part.
A few months ago my father-in-law mentioned that he thought that they would soon stop making Twilights (mint chocolates – if you are unaware). Now I love twilights and in fear of loosing them forever, I bought some and put them aside (well actually asked Roz to hide them). I now found that twilights appear to have been “relaunched”. However, they are now slightly smaller and the mint centre is now no longer as crispy as it used to be. While still very nice, they are no longer quite as exquisite as the once were. Arghhh! Why mess with perfection. Maybe I should start a petition to get twilights returned to their former glory.
Really enjoyed last nights Lost. This episode centred on Sawyers character and as with the story Centred on Locke, had a nice little twist in the tail. I was a little concerned that the show might get a little repetitive always going into different characters back story, but it’s jut a case that sometime it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think that so long as it keeps the main story interesting, Lost will continue to be a show that I enjoy.
There are however a few issues that I have.
1) Aren’t they eventually going to run out of characters to tell their back story?
2) What on earth happened to the “things” in the forest? These seem to have disappeared since episode 3.
3) Why on earth are they hiding in the forest now… remember – big monstrous “things” in the forest.
4) There really needs to be more division and arguments in the group to spice things up. The last thing that we want is everyone to be getting along fine.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Well following on from the announcement of the Revolution controller at the Tokyo Game Show, Nintendo have now started to reveal some details about their wifi service. The link below is to a leaflet which has recently been handed out to all retailers:
This all looks good and promising. The key to getting wifi gaming to traditional non-online gamers really should be to keep it as simple as possible and also not to alienate hardcore gamers, which seems to be the route that Nintendo is taking.
Obviously Mario Kart DS will be the first game to launch, following by Tony Hawk, Animal Crossing and Metroid : Hunters. I’m looking forward to Mario Kart and Animal Crossing most. It’s just a shame that Advance Wars for the DS has already been release, as this would be fantastic to play online – here’s hoping that Nintendo release an updated version.
Just under 2 months now until I should be playing Mario Kart online on my DS. Should be no time at all until I’m wiping the floor of any competition to the shout of “Wa ha, I’m a Wario, I’m a gonna win” :)