Friday, February 29, 2008

London, Cloverfield and Mars

Well, we arrived back from London a couple of days ago. The weather over there was great, back here, not so great.

Anyway, we all had a great time. Roz finally managed to see Mika in concert which she enjoyed and Elliot was exceptionally well behaved and enjoyed the sights of London such as the London Eye, The Tower of London, London Zoo etc.

Funnily enough we were London when the minor earthquake hit at 1:00 am on 27/02/08 (5.2 on the Richter Scale for 15 seconds). We were based in Hammersmith, which did feel the effects of the quake:

This is taken from the Evening Standard
'In Hammersmith, Kiran Sekhon, 29, said: "I woke up absolutely terrified. I was in a deep sleep and all of a sudden woke to find my bed shaking. It went on for a few seconds and then stopped."'

Thankfully we all slept through it, none of us disturbed by it at all, which is strange because I’m normally a very light sleeper.

It seems like something always has to happen in London whenever I visit!

Film watched:

Blair Witch meets Godzilla. Enjoyable, slightly daft, fun.


Veronica Mars

It’s official, I’m hooked.

I have now watched all of the first series and have just moved onto the second series. It is the type of program which is hard to watch in small bits, there is always the temptation to watch just one more.

It’s a shame that it is now cancelled, but at least the star of the show, Kristen Bell is now in series 2 of Heroes, and in truth she is the main draw of Veronica Mars, that and the tightly written mysteries.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

MK Wii, Wii Fit and HD Fury

Well it looks like Both Mario Kart Wii and also Wii Fit have been given release dates in Europe… and what’s better is that they are out here before the US for once!

They are:
Wii Fit - 25 April 08
Mario Kart Wii – 11 April 08 !?!

I have to confess that I am seriously hyped about Mario Kart. I’m a huge fan of the Mario Kart series, every single one of them, even the much loathed (by some) Double Dash. So while Mario Kart on the Wii doesn’t look like much of a graphical improvement over Double Dash, I’m still looking forward to it, mainly for the online aspects of the game.

I’m also looking forward to Wii Fit, especially given my recent health scare, something like this is much needed to help boost my health further!

I just got my HD Fury converter through the post today. Up until now I have been forced to watch blu-ray via a converter box which converts component to VGA, which although good, did not have a great level of contrast and as a consequence dark scenes suffered. HD Fury converts HDMI to VGA and boy does it look good. I gave Ratatouille a quick go and the improvement is incredible.

For anyone out there with a HD compatible (but not HD ready) set, I cannot recommend this enough!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

HD DVD RIP & Paprika

Toshiba have just given the official world... HD DVD is dead.

Hopefully this will mean that with the end of confusing format wars, that the uptake of Blu-ray over DVD will increase dramatically. I can certainly say, that after watching the fantastic Ratatouille on Blu-ray last weekend, that this is the future of home cinema.

Film watched:

A visual feast for the eyes, but an utter mess.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Everyday, last star and Mars

Everyday Shooter

At long last Everyday Shooter has been put on the European PSN. I have been waiting for this for months (it was out late last year in the US) and it would seem that Sony have finally got there act together (i.e. included the other languages for our non-English speaking European neighbours).

I’ve only had a short go on it last night, but what I played was fantastic. One of the things that the Xbox has done right is Xbox live arcade. Since a friend bought himself an Xbox, it has to be said that the live arcade games have probably impressed me most about the console, much more so than the full priced games. I was most impressed by Geometry Wars (but also by Pac Man arcade and Rez HD), and as such wanted my own 2 stick shooter to sink my teeth into. I’ve resisted buying the other lesser offerings on the PSN (although I’m aware that a lot of people rank Super Stardust HD highly) and waited for Everyday Shooter.

It has to be said that it feels like a much more chilled experience than Geometry Wars, and the way that the music links to the gameplay reminds me in some respects to Rez. I’ve only made it through 3 stages of the game so far, but I like the way that the games leaves it mainly to you to understand how each stage works. For example, the initial stage may seem like just a case of shooting everything in sight, but instead you need to understand how the different enemies react when shot, and use this to both defend yourself and also destroy the “smart bomb” type enemies at the right time to clear the screen and get maximum points. What is great is that the rules of the game change quite a lot with each new stage, and you are forced to adapt the way you play to match this.

Overall, I’m very impressed so far, and look forward to giving it more time as soon as I can.

Super Mario Galaxy

I never got every star in Mario 64 (it was too damn hard), I also never got every single shine sprite in Super Mario Sunshine (the blue coins were dumb) – but I vowed to do my best to get every single star in Super Mario Galaxy, and the other day, I did just that – I managed to get the final star. It has to be said that there were 3 stars in particular that took sometime to get, but I got there in the end.

What’s great is that Elliot is now an official Mario nut. He loves sitting by me while I play it and even helps out by collecting star bits with the second Wiimote. As such, playing Super Mario Galaxy has been a great father/son time together, which we have both enjoyed.

Also, without spoiling things, getting all 120 stars isn’t necessarily the end of everything! As such, I’ll likely be playing the game for some time more with Elliot.

Veronica Mars

This is a TV series which wasn’t shown over here (to my knowledge, at least not on terrestrial channels), but one which I really wanted to see. Also unfortunately it hasn’t been release on DVD over here, so I’ve had to import US DVD’s to have the opportunity to watch it.

To boil it down to its basics, it’s about the daughter of a PI who is still in high school in a rich suburb of America. The daughter (Veronica Mars) works for her father and also does detective work of her own on the side. Kind of like Buffy meets Philip Marlow, with a dash of 90210.

It is a series that got a lot of acclaim in the US, but never really got the audience that it deserved, and as such was cancelled after 3 years. From my perspective, so far I have enjoyed it immensely. It is cleverly written, with a great ongoing mystery which in unravelled bit by bit as the series goes okay. On top of that are great characters brought to life by great actors. What is there not to like!

Bravo Veronica – the series may be dead, but I’m enjoying catching up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oscar predictions

Well, here they are, my oscar predictions (with comments).

As with previous years, I have skipped a few of the awards (namely short films and, rather surprisingly, foreign language films) as I am not in a position to comment on the nominees.

Best motion picture of the year
"No Country for Old Men"

No Country for Old Men is the favourite to win by some margin. It has won the WGA, SAG, DGA and PGA (i.e. all the Hollywood guild awards), as such, it would be a shock for it NOT to win. As much as I’d prefer ANY other film to win, it looks like No Country for Old Men’s year.

Of course out of all the films nominated I thing Atonement is by far the most deserving – but unfortunately I do not see it winning.

Achievement in directing
"No Country for Old Men" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

I tend to either really like Coen films (Barton Fink and Big Lebrowski) or really dislike them (Fargo and No Country for Old Men). Whilst I think they are deserving directors, they have made much better films than No Country for Old Men. Anyway, I think they will win this year.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"

If there is a dead cert this year then this is it. Daniel Day-Lewis is one hell of an actor, and this is quite possibly his best performance so far. He WILL win.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men

Although it is not the type of role which is often recognised by the Academy, I think that Javier Bardem has won this race before it has begun. He was the absolute highlight of what I consider to be a poor film

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Ellen Page in "Juno"

This is between Julie Christie and Ellen Page. It is often the case that the Academy will give awards elderly actors and so Julie Christie looks the likely winner, however, she has won an award in the past. In addition to this, everyone seems to have universally liked Ellen Page in Juno, and even though I’m likely going to be wrong on this one, I’m going to say Ellen Page.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"

Actress playing against type – tick. Actress playing someone unattractive – tick. Actress playing someone of the opposite sex – tick.
= immediate win for Cate Blanchett.

Best animated feature film of the year

Considering that it is the highest ranked film on Rotten Tomato’s and Metacritic for 2007, I’d be surprised if it didn’t win. The only crime here is that it wasn’t up for best picture!

Achievement in art direction
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Achievement in cinematography
"There Will Be Blood"

I personally think that Atonement should win, if only for the stunning long shot around Dunkirk. However, I think this may be a toss up between There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. As such, I’m guessing that There Will Be Blood will likely scoop this.

Achievement in costume design
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

This is a toss up between Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Sweeny Todd. Elizabeth was not received as Sweeny Todd, plus Sweeny Todd is a little bit different to your average period drama, therefore I think it will nab the award.

Best documentary feature

If only to see Michael Moore have his minute’s speech in front of millions of viewers!

Achievement in film editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"

Achievement in makeup
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

Haven’t seen it – don’t want to, but it’s the most likely winner from the bunch.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from "Once"

No idea why – but I’ve heard this is a good song (and most of the rest were from Enchanted – shudder)

Achievement in sound editing


Achievement in sound mixing

See above

Achievement in visual effects

Although I didn’t enjoy the film that much, the effects were pretty impressive.

Adapted screenplay
"No Country for Old Men"

Because it’s going to win best picture!

Original screenplay

I really, really really want Ratatouille to win this, but I very much doubt it will. Instead a screenplay written by an ex stripper (who has also penned Candy Girl: A Year in The Life of an Unlikely Stripper) seems a good alternative!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Atonement (should win!)

Film watched:


I’m going to break my 10 word rule with this one… Why?

Because a long last I’ve watched a film that bloody well deserves the Best Picture Oscar! Forget There will be Blood, forget Juno and for God’s sake please forget No Country for Old Men (I’m not even counting Michael Clayton)! This is the one that deserves to win by a frankly huge margin.

The crime here, is that it quite clearly won’t.

It is a film that clearly wears its heart on its sleeve. At times funny, clever and deeply moving. It is both expertly written and beautifully directed and without a doubt one of the best British films in decades.

I normally ignore the BAFTA’s. I’ll be quite honest, I’ve always thought of them as a cut down British centric Oscars (which they are), but at least Atonement looks like the likely winner at this ceremony. As such, I’ll likely be watching, just to see Atonements moment of glory.

Anyway… At least I have something to back come Oscar night.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

PS3 Desktop VR

I was very impressed by the Wii desktop VR demonstration that was posted on the internet recently, and it appears as if someone has figured out a way to run something very similiar on the PS3 using the Playstation eye...

Once again, very inventive. I don't see why game developers don't use this type of technology in their games. It would be a great addition to a first person shooter!

Link here:

PS3 Desktop VR

I must learn how to imbed video's one of these days - I know you can do it in blogger, but I've failed each time I try... That just goes to show my computer skills :)