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.