Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sarks in Vennice

Anyway, enough of these worthy works, over to the usual dreck I watch. And this one is clearly a classic example of that.

I can almost guess (wrongly) how this must have developed. "We've got this Indiana Jones knock off script set in the canals and caves of Venice, what else can we do?" "Well, the bad guy's got sharks, and sharks are big at the moment... we'll have sharks run rampant through the canals!" "Except we can't afford to have any sharks, but we do have some bad CGI and lots of stock shots, so use plenty of those." "And hey, we can one of the Baldwin brothers, surely that's box office success!" Sadly... no.

This is a lot of a mess. The 'find the treasure' plot gets mixed up with 'sharks attacking people' plot (and I use the word 'plot' loosely), and the movie doesn't really know what it's doing with either of them, let along how they interact. Neither are that exciting, and usually you want to see people die stupidly to sharks, but even that is just limp here.

Stephen Baldin is the brother in this movie, but he doesn't look to be trying. The villain is over the top, in a one dimensional way, There are two women, one of whom nearly has a character, so watch out for that.

Or rather, don't watch any of this.


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Friday, 17 April 2015

Reign of Winter

[I was unable to make it... so harken to the tale of Falgard the Brave!]

We ventured out of the hut into wintery conditions. The sun is much smaller than we're used to although it still burns brightly.

Mage jumped on his broomstick to scout around; fell off at the top of a loop the loop; and then the broom attacked him. Beatrix snapped the broom in half with her bare hands.

Then Mage sent his owl into the air to scout around. It spotted a dragon approaching. So we all jumped back inside the hut.

Falgard pulled out his spy glass and could see a rider on the dragon. The rider was a furred creature with pointed ears. Falgard also noticed that the dragon didn't look quite like the dragons that he'd seen before.

The dragon circled the hut and so Falgard and Beatrix went out to chat. The dragon and rider landed. The dragon pulling out a polearm and the rider putting her weapons down on the ground. Falgard can't speak Draconic and so didn't get very far. Luckily Beatrix and Mage do.

The rider, Beskele (sp?), and the dragon, Euphraxes (sp?), are actually a humanoid (Triaxian) and a Dragonkin. They're allied to a group known as the Skyfire Mandate which exists to oppose and control the tyrannical Drakelands; a group of oppressive warlords.

Beskele took us to the nearest settlement, Spurhorn, that matches two of our clues from B.Y.'s raven; the iron spur and the drinking horn. Spurhorn is currently under siege by Drakelands forces.

We convinced the Skyfire Mandate leadership there that we could use our magical powers of song and dance to help lift the siege and were given the run of the keep.

In digging through the library and the archives we discovered that the commander of the keep had recently been gifted a two-headed eagle which, upon examination, turned out to be one of B.Y.'s keys. The commander agreed to regift the eagle to us once we've lifted the siege.

In the library we also discovered that there is a stronghold in the Drakelands known as Ivoryglass which matches the other of B.Y.'s clues. It's the stronghold of a warlord known as Euraxes. I bet you 500 gp that he has a bear skin rug.


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Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Ghost Line

This is the first book in the new book series based on Elementary. In particular, it is written by one Adam Christopher, known to some of us as the editor of the latter issues of TSV.

A murder scene leads Holmes to the sewers under New York, and Watson to a gala event at the American Museum of Natural History. These events are more connected than you think, but expect more bodies before it's all wrapped up.

I don't want to say too much about the plot in case I give something away, so on to my opinions. I felt this book was too long. There is no way this could be a tv episode, and the book was taking full advantage of being a book and giving us more scenes. However... I didn't feel like a lot of the scenes really added to the story. Time and pages were taken because they could be taken, not because they needed to be taken. And with that we didn't get more insight into Holmes and Watson themselves like we might in an episode. (I have no idea if that was a restriction that Adam was under, not to develop history that might be later contradicted on the screen.)

That said, I definitely think he caught the characters well. I could picture Jonny Lee Millar and Lucy Liu delivering the lines as written. (It helped that i read this in the middle of a season, so I could easily hear their voices). They are captured perfectly. And there were many references I caught to other things, including Doctor Who because of course. And I'm sure there were many I missed. (I also kept thinking of Puma Man, but I doubt that was intentional.)

In short, characters yes, story no.


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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Le Trou Noir

Ah, I love this movie. Wish I could see it again on the big screen. Also read what Peter and Al and Paul think about it.

The set up is great. This is one of those movies that sets up its premise, then gets on with it. We have a space craft on an exploration voyage, and it encounters a black hole. With a space ship in orbit around it. What? How? They get aboard to find Dr Hans Crazypants and his wild ideas. Because he wants to go into the black hole and was just waiting for someone to come along and watch him. And here they are! Although they start finding out his secrets, so we can’t have that. Can they get away in time?

This has some fantastic models in here. The ships, the robots… I wish I had a Maximillian toy, that is so brutal and amazing and a brilliant design. This does mean there is a fair amount of green screen, but I did occasionally look for strings, but couldn’t see any. Okay, the meteors are kinda silly (and come out of nowhere!), but the rest of it is great.

Then there’s that ending. What is up with Reinhardt? Is he in hell? And the ‘heroes’ make it through, although in the novelisation they end up as a joined consciousness that roams the universe, which I like.

And then there’s the cast. Maximillian Schell is great as Dr Crazypants, and Robert Forster is able to go toe-to-toe with him. The others are less well serviced, with Ernest Borgnine’s character being rather limp and Anthony Perkins one-note. And Yvette Mimieux gets the Lone Female role, although her character has an interesting trait of being able to use ESP with Vincent. Can’t say I’ve seen telepathic connection with machines a common thing.

I’ll leave with one last thing. The amazing score by John Barry. The opening has a lovely majestic and ethereal feeling to it, while also maintaining an undertone of menace. Just listen to this:


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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Time to Love and a Time to Die

The Film Society is quite fond of Douglas Sirk, and with the 100th celebrations, and Anzac Day around the corner, this is a chance for them to show a war film that ticks all sorts of boxes, A Time to Love and a Time to Die.

Germans on the Russian German front are having a tough time of it, and Greber is lucky enough to get a furlough home for three weeks. However, his city, and actual house, was bombed, and so he is trying to find his family. Along the way, he encounters Elisabeth, the family doctor's daughter, and together they find some happiness in between air raids. Ah, but this is Douglas Sirk, so yeah...

I'm guessing they went for telling the German story because a) that was the book, and b) you couldn't tell the story happening to Americans, because no American city (outside of Pearl Harbour) was bombed. And yet, I can't help but feel that they wouldn't be able to make this movie today. Any war movie that isn't intensely pro-American would be considered the terrorists winning. Or it would be made by an indie studio, and never seen.

Good performances, and believable ones, so this is a decent movie to watch.


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Monday, 13 April 2015

Dared Evil

When this series hit Netflix the other day, the immediate reaction of the twitterati was "must watch this immediately and comment on it". So... okay... I'll give that a go too. This is the Marvel Netflix original series Daredevil, the first of four, and as Netflix does, all episodes were dumped out at once.

This is sort of an origin story. After The Indicident(tm), various people took advantage of the economic possibilities of being the ones to build New York. Conincidentally, a new law firm opens up and takes on a client that is in trouble with that builders. And so Matt Murdock first encounters the machinations of the powerful people in New York and their work in Hell's Kitchen.

While this is 13 episodes, there is a lot of ongoing plot across the episodes. People will return and plot points are not wrapped up by the end of the episode, and events will change over time. People actually die, so that's surprising. And I don't know if it was in the original comics, but there are a few moments that call back the movie (unless they are comic references).

This is around 12 hours and with the way it comes out, could easily be seen as one hit. Should it be? Having it as episodes does make it easier to take breaks, but how much are the creators depending on people shotgunning these? This is a decent enough story, but presented like this does make it feel it takes a little too much time with padding (and mini-bosses!), and could easily be cut down to a main story.


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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Kingdom of Loathing

It's a game I've been playing, a single person multi-player online free browser game, called Kingdom of Loathing. It's single player in that all the adventures I've done are just me at the moment.

This is fantasy based, where you are a guy with a turtle... or a seal clubber... or an accordion. It's not exactly serious either, as you might be able to guess. It is fairly basic turn based adventuring, completing quests, levelling up, etc. There are lots of wacky creatures, mostly misspelt variants of more normal monsters, but they work. And it's look at the picture, read the text, click on the option turn play, which works well in a browser form.

It's a lot of fun, and it can be quite addictive. It's free, although you can donate monies and get a few items, but the amount of times you can play in a day is limited (with limited ability to get more), but there's no money = more adventures option... which is probably just as well!

Give it a whirl. I'm enjoying it, and so can you! Just have the wiki ready because I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing most of the time.


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