Sunday, 31 March 2013

It's a Guh-Guh-Guh-Guh-Storm!

Oh dear, oh dear. I could tell from the opening shot this wasn't going to be good.. and I was mostly right.

A lightning storm unleashed a collection of ghosts from the cemetery ground. They fry pretty much everyone in town, until they realise they can fight back with the help of a random medallion, a fire extinguisher and electricity... and then everyone left alive at the end (just the three of them) have a good laugh, knowing that everyone else on the island, and more, have been destroyed entirely.

Yes, the plot is stupid. Yes, the characters are a waste of screen time. But what I do like, a lot, about this is the special effects. I don't know if the people who did the CGI have their own studio, but if not, they should form one and get out there and get better places to work for. (Oh, and the editing wasn't bad, even if the acting and direction was.)

There are some notable names here. Carlos Bernard, Steve Bacic and Aaron Douglas, to name all of them. Although it does look like some of the other actors have decent careers, but none I have heard of.

Another movie to skip, but check out the trailer for all you need to see.


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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Agent of Puzzle Research

Because I had to do at least one thing more than just lazing about, I played Puzzle Agent 2... because I had already played Puzzle Agent a while ago.

Despite the fact that these are not the most complex puzzles under the sun, the storyline is quite complex, and not something to be taken lightly. The set up is the rather silly idea of a problem with an eraser factory, but it includes astronauts, forest gnomes and a rather complex list of characters. All voiced differently. And all drawn in the style of Graham Annable, upon who's Grickle this is based on. (Which, yes, does make me want to find out more about that).

But yeah, the puzzles aren't that hard. The worse part is that it is not always obvious what the goal is supposed to be. In some case, you go from point A to B, but it wasn't clear that I was supposed to pass through certain points inbetween. Or that what I read as the question wasn't what they meant. Each puzzle gets scored, based on the number of wrong guesses (and each guess costs money) and the number of hints used. (The first puzzle I got confused about caused me to reset my game and go again... which introduced that I was dealing with unskippable cut scenes - bad game!)

The first game, while it does come to a conclusion, leaves a lot of plot threads open, which the second game follows up on. And although a lot of threads are then dealt with, what's going on isn't 100% clear. But I do like the plot we get. It's not straight forward, and while largely linear, you look forward to going to the next clue and not minding that. (And while you are not limited to going directly to the next puzzle, there isn't much else that happens outside the main line.)

Not long games, and enjoyable to play. I picked them up during bundle sales, so they can be gotten more cheaply than their already low cost.


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Friday, 29 March 2013

I'm Not Batman

Remember how Bane killed the Batman?? Well, kinda. And no, not the movie. In the original comics, Bane broke the back, and thereby ensured he would be remembered forever... as that one guy that did that one thing but otherwise is just a generic thug.

Well, they re-released the comics last year (and yeah, I've only just gotten around to finishing them). A long time ago there was the two volume set, of Knightfall and Knightcrusade, telling the fall of the Batman, and the return of Bruce back into the role. But they were missing Knightquest, which was the middle part. I always wanted to read that, to find out how Bruce got himself back to normal and rescued Tim's father and ... there was a lot of plot there.

In the more recent version, this is now a three volume set. The first one covers the first volume and half of the second one, with the remaining half in the new volume three. Volume two is Knightquest... which is all about how Jean Paul Valley is the Batman, and is going crazy and becoming Azrael at the same time... But I don't care about that! So I still don't know Bruce's story!

We also get Prodigal, in which Dick 'Nightwing' Grayson takes on the mantle of the bat for several issues, which the various characters expected to happen anyway. That was interesting, but we all knew Bruce was eventually going to come back... after all, it's not like he'd ever give it up and let Dick take over permanently, eh? Eh? (That's a reference to the fact that that has more of less happened in recent Batman continuity.)

While this is a nice set, I now have an issue of space. Before I complained about how DVD sets need to be on USB stick. Add comic collections to that. Although I prefer to read physical comics than on screen...


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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Killing Giant Jacks

Yep, okay, you got me. I thought it odd that this was already out there for grabbing, and it turns out there is a reason for it... it's the Asylum version! Doh! Still, I said previously that they have been getting better, so this is a chance to see if that's true or not.

Plot wise, this is worse than a mess. Jack is a whiney 18 year old that gets some magic beans from his dad, and ends up in the land in the clouds where his dad is (fortunately one day up there is one year down here... although that doesn't hold when Jack is up here and they start popping from clouds to earth). And there are no giants. Because Newald killed them. So that title is wrong on at least two counts, and Newald the Giant Killer just sounds really stupid. Oh, and this is all taking place in England by the way. But there's a previous human, Serena, who gets the giant dinosaurs to come down from the clouds to earth and take it over. Fortunately, Newald knows what Ben Franklin did, and Jack has his own power mecha suit. Seriously, he built his own mecha suit. Yeah...

So yes, that gets this movie thrown out. I'm not sure it's entirely as bad as the 1.6 rating on IMDB, but it's not good. The CGI... is still obviously CGI. The creatures are looking a little shiny and plastic, and the interaction with real actors doesn't quite work... but it's not terrible over all.

Still, at least this stars some... actors... who are playing roles... and they speak words... yeah... there's that.

Terrible movie. Very much down to Asylum's usual standards... for all that entails.


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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

237 Rooms

I like a good overthinking. Many deep analyses can reveal what's actually going on, usually revealing that I had no clue at all about it. But it can go too far...

Room 237 is analysing The Shining. Several people reveal their theories about what the The Shining actually means. Like how it reflects the native American Indian genocide. Or the Jewish holocaust. Or has a Minotaur in it. Or how it shows that Stanley Kubrick helped fabricate Apollo 11 moon footage (not that we didn't go to the moon, just that we have faked footage about it) - for example a room key tag has 'ROOM No' on it, and the only words you can make from the capitalised letters are MOON and ROOM. Moron.

And that's about when I officially gave up. Unofficially, I never really gave it much of a chance. These people, self-admittedly, watched this movie over and over and over... and then they started noticing things in the backgrounds, which resonated with their own knowledge of various pieces of history. Really... how convenient...

Not to say that Kubrick didn't put some imagery in there. He was a smart guy, knew what he was doing, so could have easily seeded all sorts of things into it. Except... and even they skirt acknowledging it, even some of the things they point out is due to they were making a film on a set. And had to edit footage from different takes, with slightly different continuity. And I'm sure not even Kubrick directly decided on every single item placement, he would have left some of that to set dressing then okayed it. There's only so much time in the day to implant suggestions of sexual symbols or other airbushed self-portraits that are only visible for one frame.

[I don't know how long this film took to make, but 90%+ is film footage from other movies, and the audio track is basically these interviews... there are certainly harder films to put together.]

Usually, after watching something like this, you'd want to watch the original movie again. I was never a big fan of The Shining... but you know what? I don't want to see it again, because I'd just remember this and it would be ruined.


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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Firey Rings

This is a natural disaster as a two two hour (with ads) miniseries. So given we know a disaster is going to happen, and the disaster is the main reason people are tuning in, when do you expect the disaster to happen? If you say in the first part, then you have a better sense of timing that the writers do. Not to say that it doesn't happen in the first half, just that it is the last possible moment.

So then in part two, we get the disaster out of the way, and then deal with people surviving. With, other than the threat of escalation, nothing else coming from the disaster. Yeah, what was the point of that then? Oh yes, that's right. People.

There's a lot of characterisation. And by characterisation, I mean the first half is setting up relationships, by which I mean lots of people arguing on screen with each other about random things we don't care about, because that's going to make people care, right? And then in the second half, we see people struggling to survive, and if you think there's a kid involved, then of course you'd be right, as well as dudebros trying to get away, and several other people, all with families to get back to, because then you know they are going to survive. (In fact... I'm not sure anyone actually dies... no wait, there is one family. Other than then, everyone else is fine.)

The cause of it all is Evil Corporation(tm)... guess who has a change of heart by the end? The Evil CEO(tm) of course! Then it rips off Dante's Peak and Volcano and... there is nothing new here by any means at all.

See this? You already have!


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Monday, 25 March 2013


Yes, I'm talking about a new game. A puzzle search and click in the style of Myst et al. By the name of XING.

You'll note that I've linked to a Kickstarter. I generally don't talk about them, if you look to the right, you'll see my list of tweets that are how I generally communicate about Kickstarter projects I'm a part of... but this one is slightly different.

There's a demo! Yes, you can plays it for yourself! (I'm pretty sure that link is open to all, ie not restricted to Backers. Considering they want to promote this, they'd be wise to let all try before they buy.) And after the demo, there's also a survey which asks about your machine set up and game experience. A chance to influence the creators!

Or if you want to just get an idea about game play: (which you can't do in the demo.)


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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Quest for the DLC

Indie game time: DLC Quest. Due to watching a video about it, I was interested in it... and as I actually had a copy due to IndieRoyale, hey, it was simply a matter of loading it! (Annoying, I downloaded it direct, but that didn't work. I had to get the Desura version to show up - another annoying thing - then I was able to go.) And it's just come out on Steam. And it comes with its own sequel.

The set up is basically simple. You are the hero, the women gets captured, go get her. But this is entirely deliberate, and points out the inanity of this sort of set up more than once. But the point of it is that most of the levels / mechanics aren't available, and need to be unlocked. (Yes, even movement.)

(Here's where I have a little bit of trouble. There is actual 'downloading' per se, it is just unlocking parts of the game. In a way, it reminded me more of Upgrade Complete, but it's fantasy platformer instead of shooter grind... and grinding is another thing mocked in the game.)

The game is funny and, notably, short. Shorter than what I was expecting. (But hey, it's not like they are charging much for it.) I like platformers, so was happy to jump about, but felt like there could have been another level or two. There are 'awardments' to get, but even so.

Fortunately, there is the sequel Live Freemium or Die Hard! which continues the humour, but is more extensive. And there are new awardments, including two I haven't been able to get, bah!

Yes, fun, and recommend it if you like that sort of thing (the video above gives it a good showing, even if he does, unknowingly, do about half the game.)


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Saturday, 23 March 2013


I really hesitated over watching this movie. While it had good reviews, MacFarlane's humour can be very hit and miss, and... Marky Mark?

So this guy has himself a girl, but his best friend is plush and is getting in the way of the guy and the girl having a life. But then they tour the old Muppet Studios and... no wait... yeah, I just made out Ted to be the dark side version of The Muppets.

Actually, the plot is pretty decent. While it does hit some common 'best friend being a problem' trope, it doesn't completely give in, and still maintains the friendship when you'd expect it not to matter (although that may be because at that part of the movie, they had to move on). And, amazingly, no-one comes across as a complete pratt.

But yeah, Marky Mark. And a lot of people probably hired because Seth wanted to work with. Starting with Mila Kunis, getting more respect than as Meg, we have Norah Jones, Sam Jones and Tom Skerritt.

Overall, better than I thought it would be. Although I did think it would be quite bad.


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Friday, 22 March 2013

Mr Monk and the Books

The tv series Monk finished after eight seasons. Boo! (And rapidly wrapped up a lot of long standing plot threads in that season too.) But the adventures of Monk continue. Yay!

In book form! Before the series was over Lee Goldberg was writing books. (For some reason, after 15 books Hy Conrad took over.) I've read half the books so far... and I like them! [Although I'm now taking a break to read other things.]

The best part is that they are very much written in the same tone as the original series. They are written from Natalie Teager's point of view (she's Monk's second assistant) and we get the full range of Monk quirks without the reader being in his head. And I'm not sure that third person would really get into the coziness of this series. Natalie's inner thoughts really help to make Monk relateable, as well as being a clear view of what is happening in this crazy world where murders happen far too frequently. And the humour is right as well. (Just a shame we don't get to see inside Dr Kroger's office that often.)

I really want this series to continue, and this is a great replacement. Makes me want to watch the series all over again.


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Thursday, 21 March 2013

All the Slenders

I finally (largely because I got the high high high def version of it) watched The Slender Man movie wot I paid for a while ago. (And so what I have to say is biased.)

I liked it! For a change the Slender Man mythology is actually driving the story, instead of several other movies I could avoid mentioning that feature some creature that is co-incidentally called the Slender Man to get in on the action. In particular, the child connection is used, and used well.

Even the first person camera nature of it isn't that annoying, because the camera is generally in focus and pointed at the right thing. And occasionally captures Slender Man without the people being aware, which is totally how that's supposed to work.

Negative, no explanation is given for Slendy (not that surprising), other than a few hints. And I'm not sure why his head is a glow ball in one scene. And who knew that taking children would have no little impact on a town, with no roving bands of child protectors hunting for kidnappers...

Still, the cast is kept tight and generally act well (a few fluffed lines read like fluffed lines and not an attempt at natural speech). I couldn't see where the movie plot was headed (a good thing) and the night time darkness didn't get in the way.

So yes, happy I paid monies for this. And you can watch it for free.


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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Half past Dark

So this is the latest movie in the history of military revisionism to cleanly produce a clear narrative of events for people to think is real.

In between real life events of various attacks, one woman is the sole reason that Osama Bin Laden is finally taken down, thus ending the War on Terror and meaning no-one in America is ever afraid of anything ever again, and the government releases its sphincter like grip on policy and gets back to not treating its own national citizens like would be terrorists...

...or that could be some other movie. But not about the woman inserting herself into real events. One might even go so far as saying Forrest Gump, but that might be going too far... might be...

But let's talk torture, and how the movie is ambivalent about it. Except it isn't. 'Oh, but that first guy only reveals when they trick him', after they torture him to the point of he accepts that he did reveal what they said. And other people say 'I don't want to be tortured anymore, so here is some information', so yeah, completely not presented in a positive light at all. And also completely secondary to the movie. In fact, most thing were secondary, like a coherent narrative plot that isn't just random scenes tied around actual events.

And then there's the big even that happened during the making of the movie. I presume the final sequence is based on what was known at the time, and then altered to be more cinematic. Certainly retains the fetishistic approach to the American military that these sorts of movies have.

Not that impressive, overall, but of course people love it because AMURIKA FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!


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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Elemental, my dear Professor

If I say 'chap hop', what's the first thing you think of? No, not 'what the hell is he talking about?' but Professor Elemental of course, who brought us such wonderful tunes as Fighting Trousers, Cup of Brown Joy and I'm British.

And a movie. The Chronicles of Professor Elemental. Which I helped pay for. (It was some English based crowd sourcing site.) So you may thank me. (And I am thanked in the video credits.) Originally in three parts, now compiled together for your pleasure.


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Monday, 18 March 2013

Suspension'ing Buck Rogers

Moving on, I'm now entering the world of Buck Rogers. Firing up the first episode I find...

...when you think of the Buck Rogers opening, what do you think of? A montage of photos while Buck falls into the center? Yeah, not in the pilot. What I saw I was not ready for...

The theme song is slower... and has lyrics! And women in not much, because that's the show (even Erin Grey's outfit is more revealing that her usual outfit). Mind blown.

(The various YouTube clips I looked at have disabled embedding. While I could embed anyway, it won't play properly, so you'll just have to have a link.)

The Buck Rogers theme song: Suspension.


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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Watching Stargate SG-1

I just finished watching the recut of The Children of the Gods, the pilot episode that Brad Wright re-edited over ten years later. So... he Lucas'd it. According to him, he improved it, used different takes, changed some dialogue choices, relooped dialogue, and added more VFX... so yeah, a total Lucas.

And according to IMDB the original is a 7.9 and the 'final cut' is a 7.6. So bam! Objectively made it worse. As for me, meh, it's been ages since I saw the pilot version, and I watched it with commentary because I wasn't going to watch it twice (with and without commentary).

What it did make me do was want to rewatch Stargate SG-1 all over again. Yes, all ten seasons. And probably Atlantis too. (And maybe Universe, but I never picked that up on DVD.) However... I just don't have time, I've got a lot of other DVDs to watch before I get back around to that. And... they take up so much space! I really need to get rid of them.

What I would like is to have them in a more compact format. MKV files on a USB stick would be wonderful. Or MP4, either can handle dual audio (normal and commentary). Size varies, but let's say, assuming we are happy with SD, that the file size is 300MB for simplicity. A season is 24 eps, just over 7 Gigs. So all ten seasons would be just over 70 Gigs. With Atlantis and Universe, let's say 120 Gigs all up.

Currently there are 128 Gig sticks... done! Hey, MGM, you wanna make money? Sell the entire Stargate series on one frickin' USB stick! Simplify my storage needs!

And other studios, why not? Buffy and Angel. X-Files. Friends. Seinfeld. West Wing. Sopranos. Etc, etc, etc. I really want to have them on hand in case I ever do have time, but I also value my space. Get on this!


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Saturday, 16 March 2013

Two Shot

After watching the movie, I decided to work through the books (the audio books are around 13 hours each). I'm up to One Shot, on which the movie was based.

In general... they are not the best written books either. Two cliches you'll need to write like Lee Child:

  • [Person] said nothing.
  • "That's for damn sure."
Repeated time and again...

Worse written book so far is Tripwire. Terrible plot points, irritating characters, and a perfect example of the bad guy being too good before suddenly being cut down in improbability. Without Fail probably gets the best written so far. Interesting story, developed well.

Compared with the movie, One Shot is amazingly over padded. I like what Christopher McQuarrie did for the movie. Characters were dropped. Half the book was thrown out. There was more focus on the victims to actually make them more than excessively minor plot points. He also added in more action scenes (very few in Reacher novels), and what exactly happened confused me, so the book was better for that. Overall, casting aside, I'm going with the movie as the better version.

Still ten more books to go. Onwards!


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Friday, 15 March 2013

Will you open... The Last Door ?

Like horror games? Sure, we all have! How about point and click adventures? You can't stop them! So why not combine both?

And now we can, with... The Last Door. It is, if you haven't guessed, a point and click horror game.

How does that work? Point and click is generally slow and a click-fest, and waits for you to find the right pixel. Horror relies on a building sense of dread and surprise from an enemy you have no control over.

Two things help here. One is sound. An excellent music track and atmosphere really add to the game. The other is you have to go through doorways, which gives an excellent place to have... well, they aren't cat scares (except when they are), but certainly you won't see it coming.

(I was one of the beta testers... and hey, that's my name in the credits!... and they've added more touches into the game that just makes it that much better.)

Oh, and it's free. Did I mention it was free? It is entirely free and you can play the pilot chapter right now.

And then maybe give some money to get Chapter 2 happening? (And get that sweet, sweet soundtrack.)

I've been through all the doors I found except... I haven't been through The Last Door. (I don't actually know if it is the last door, but it's the door I didn't go through.)


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Thursday, 14 March 2013

500 MPH Stockfootage

Okay, quiz time: a disaster happens, and a man might fight the disaster to save his family... what movie am I talking about?

And here is where I discuss the plot... but hey, I've already talked about that! So instead I'm going to complain about the CGI. You will see extreme sharp shadows in the middle of a scene where there is TOTALLY A STORM HAPPENING RIGHT NOW GUYS, YOU DON'T BELIEVE! And over all the stock footage (and there is so much stock footage), there is so much water washing over everything. Because that's totally believable. The storm is going over 9000! That's totally a thing that happens!

I'm sure I've seen Casper Van Dien in other things, and now he's also in this. Looking a lot like an older Josh  Holloway. There are also... other people. And they are also in this.

I knew this was a disaster (yeah... I know) before I went into this. And it was about what I expected... no wait, it was worse. It's wasn't even 'bad and yet still watchable', it was 'so bad that fastforwarding through it didn't get through the badness quickly enough'. Yep, totally avoid. Totally.


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Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Last time: on the planet Aaris 3, information was found out that a certain object caused hatred and madness...

Meanwhile, on board the ship. As people walk the corridors and do their work, they hear whispers directed against them. Kaiya (the captain) hears remarks against her ability to command. Gunter hears threats as an alien. Lofryyn starts seeing alerts, although no-one else does. Brandis is sure someone is pulling a gun on him...

While chasing down bugs in the system, Lofryyn ends up in the droid bay, where he confronts Brandis and co about them meddling in his systems, and the captain is called in. While working the systems, Lofryyn's head clears, and he realises that something is going on. Perhaps some contaminents brought back by the scientists from the planet?

Going to the scientists' room, he sees them handling an object that Gunther now has. An object he wants... [and then insert Benny Hill sequence here]. Kaiya interrupts the fighting, bringing nearly everyone to their senses, and then Gorak calls from the planet to say there's an object that causes madness and hatred.

And so it gets spaced. Sigh. At least Nat'tar, while checking over their research, manages to find a few items that will make for interesting research in his name. The crew then head for Charis.

However, over on Charis...


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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ozzy Ozzy Ozzy Oi Oi Oi

Damn, I meant to check if it was post-converted before I saw it in 3D. And there is still no excuse for 3D. I did expect a few huge vistas in this movie, but I don't know if it's because I wear glasses or the technology or what, but I'm just not getting depth from these movies. (...which you could take a few different ways...)

Oz is a trickster who is taken to Oz and gets caught up in the battle of the witches. It's presented as a prequel to the Oz movie we know so well, so there are a lot of moments setting up later pay-offs in that earlier movie... if you get what I mean. (I have no idea if the books were also set up this way.)

A lot of this movie is, unsurprisingly, CGI. It is also, unfortunately and again not unsurprisingly, obvious CGI. It was incredibly even more obvious when James Franco was the only real thing on screen (insert joke here), and he was holding the China Girl and it was painfully obvious that he was just holding his hand there and not actually touching anything real. CGI can have a lot of trouble with immersion in the first place, and this shattered it more than she was.

James Franco is good as the lead. Hamming it up in good ways. His character arc isn't exactly... original, but still well done. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams (the last being the only one of the three women I've never heard of before) have differing levels of success as the witches, with Michelle rather hamstrung by having to be the good witch. Tony Cox has a lot of fun. I didn't recognise Bruce Campbell (other than thinking he was familiar).

It's a decent movie, but doesn't get away visually with what it thinks it does.


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Monday, 11 March 2013

Final(!) Lake Flacid

This, for some reason, became a series. The first was great, great characters, plot was interesting, and everything was connected. Later sequels missed the point. And now we have what claims to be the Final Chapter... which is just rubbish, in all ways.

Lake Placid has been surrounded by an electrical fence. Good. But then some idiots go in there, and then the gate is left open, and the bus driver is too busy watching porn on his ipod to not drive the teenagers in there... yeah, that happens. So the second half of the movie is 'save the kids!', and lots of people die, because crocodiles, and it isn't interesting at all because this is just a retread. [One moment speaks of how the crocodiles shouldn't get that large, so I thought they might touch on that... but nope... still, that's what more sequels are for!]

We go get Elizabeth Rohm, Yancy Butler and Robert Englund in this... because they got nothing better to do? And the crocodiles aren't even interesting to look at, and are all CG anyway, and sit badly on the frame. Meh.

Oh, if only this was the Final Chapter...


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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Dick D

A Chinese movie big of action martial arts pieces and a political plot... could be any of them really.

Back in 689 AD there's a problem when two men associated with building a big ass statue to the regrent (who would be crowned Empress) are killed. Detective Dee is retrieved from prison, and proceeds to detect things by conveniently asking the right people the right things, and then beating up loads of other people. Just like detectives do.

This feels like a sequel to a previous Detective Dee movie, but this is the first I've heard of one. (It is based on a series of novels.) But we do get the big set pieces like other big martial arts movies set in history. I don't want to know what that budget is for building. Let alone they always seems to have several hundred extras dressed up in costume about the place. Nice looking, but stylised.

Andy Lau does a great job as Dee, and Bingbing Li gets some great moments too (although while watching her I did suddenly wonder whatever became of Ziyi Zhang). Chao Deng does let his side down either. Although I do wonder if Carina Lau was ever sure of her own character workings, as the regent doesn't come across clear in what her motivations are.

This movie, while nice, makes me more want to find out the source than continue the franchise in this form.


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Saturday, 9 March 2013

Bonus Video: Power Cut

Last night... pretty much on the dot of 10pm... the power went out. On the entire east side of Newtown. And it came back just before 11pm. Finally got to use my hand-crank flashlight! Maybe it was wider... but there is no mention in the online news about it. Huh. Anyway, what else do you do when there's no power and so can't see anything? ... Make a video!


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All them video series

So my Youtube subscriptions is filling with new stuff to watch.

You remember Spoiler Warning? They have inspired a show Disclosure Alert (huh, huh, geddit????). Currently they are playing Alpha Protocol.

LoadingReadyRun do a lot of their own stuff, but they are also helping to produce of them reality shows, in which strip artists compete for a show on Penny Arcade. The series is called... Strip Search.

And Feminist Frequency is back with the much flamed about Tropes vs Women series, with the Kickstartered project of Tropes vs Women in Video Games. The first one just came out, and already drawing many words to it (the polite ones are 'you aren't saying anything interesting, just pointing out that women in video games are given a terrible time', and the non-polite ones... can go fuck themselves) [comments are disallowed... go figure...]. The first one is about Damsels in Distress.

No wonder I don't have time to work out what to blog. I'm too busy watching this stuff!


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Friday, 8 March 2013


If you've seen the trailer, then you've seen the moment most people will watch this movie for. Which happens at like 20 minutes into it. Then it sloooooows for the next two hours.

Denzel Washington is Forrest Whitaker... I mean Whip Whitaker, pilot with a few drinking problems... and drug problems. But totally able to fly a plane, even spin it upside down, and make a landing no other pilot can. But when the NTSB start looking to play the blame game, Whip is square in the 'fucked up pilot' category of error, when the real error is the plane is broke-ass old. And so the tense court action never happens, and instead we have Whip break down as a human being and be nasty to the nice drug addict with a heart of gold. But it all boils down to is he willing to lie about one question?

Frankly that one question was the only interesting part of the whole movie, bringing the character into actual focus (outside of the big plane sequence, which most people saw in the trailer, but that's just a big effects sequence, not a character piece). I was willing to forgive the movie almost anything at that moment... but it's still over two hours long with nothing happening other than watching one person sitting and drinking. Exciting drama that is not. Denzel is a great actor, but that was not a great role.

Trimmed down, this would be a shorter talky piece that at least... was shorter.


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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Zero Hours of Skepticism

Zero Hour is a show in which a skeptic gets wrapped up in a conspiracy. Yep, they went there.

So many movies have the skeptic come up against the supernatural and caves in their skeptic belief because they are faced with evidence of the supernatural. There are two points that need to be pointed out: 1) they believe because they have evidence. Guess what? Most skeptics would and should! What gets annoying is when they start believing for entirely personal reasons. "I got the feels and now I believe in the Gods!!!!" Yeah, that doesn't work, and just has a strawman skeptic anyway of 'if you felt with your heart, you would totally give up asking for that pesky physical proof'. No.

Oh, and point 2) it's fiction! Of course there's the supernatural, because it's FICTION!!! It's not real! And that's the only way we can have the supernatural, 'cos we ain't got any in reality.

Anyway, this modern day skeptic gets caught up in a conspiracy involving clocks, Nazis, the church, and the return of the apostles in clock form or... you know what else works well in fiction? A decent believable story. Beside bad strawman skeptics, this fails decent plot interest to. (Oh, and Albert Einstein is involved too... um...)

The other characters are one dimensional too. The FBI agent with something to prove. The assistants who are going to get up in bed with each other. The wife who is there to be a love interest draw. The psychopath that is leading them all on the chase. They are just as badly set up as the lead. And none of them work waiting for the plot to develop them.

I might keep watching out of fatalism, but will not be surprised when it gets cancelled... and I'm totally not surprised this got pulled.


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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Killing so Softly

The most obvious point about this movie is that it stars Brad Pitt. The other thing is that it really wants to be a better movie than it is.

Some guys pull a stick up job on a card game joint, and the big people don't like this, so they call in Brad Pitt to come along and clean it up. Which basically means killing everyone involved....

...and that's about it. It's a "character piece", which means there is a lot of sitting around talking big and very little actually doing. And also not a lot of point to this. This movie is tied into the time of the financial crisis, and tries to compare what is happening at that level with the small world of these crooks, which is sledge hammered in at worst and at best... without that, there truly is no point to what is going on.

Andrew Dominik, writer and director, is very much in the style of Coen or Tarantino, only not as well. Probably that lack of point thing, I mentioned. Aside from Brad Pitt, he has some other big names to help out, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins... and yet...

If you have some time on your hands, you could do worse, but then you could do better.


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Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Because I have to, I will now talk about the Census. If you are in New Zealand, then you have to fill it out. And note that applies to everyone in New Zealand, regardless of being New Zealandarian. And if you are New Zealandarian but not in New Zealand, then you don't fill it in. And technically it's where you are at midnight, so if you want to pull a Wizard...

This raises the point about Census Population versus Residential Population. The Census population counts all the people in New Zealand at one point in time. (There is undercount and such, which is why we also run the Post-Enumeration Survey in a few months, to try to estimate the number of people we missed, and anyone we counted more than once because they were excited about filling out forms.)

Then there is the Residential Population, who is everyone who usually lives in New Zealand. And you can guess, there are differences. Census includes visitors, and Residential includes people temporarily over seas. (In fact, I know someone who is popping over to Australia this afternoon, and so will not be counted for tonight.)

Currently, we take the Census, make some shrewd corrections do to our estimates of people who were overseas, or not counted, and remove those who aren't residents, to get to our Estimated Residential Population.

And this count, broken down in all sorts of ways, will underlie a lot of policy and statistics in the years until the next Census.

So yes, it is important. And, if you are reading this, why not fill it out online (if you haven't already), and save your form collector a trip to your place.


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Monday, 4 March 2013

The Hunted Troll-house

I admit I watch some bad movies. This one was so bad, it isn't even on IMDB! At least, not as one movie. It is actually three shorts jammed together, with a common theme of dolls, and all associated with Charles Band. Fast forward wasn't enough to get through this, so I skipped as well.

The Protectors (renamed) starts us off, set in a castle. Which contains a family and helpers that are crazy. And a film crew comes in that are actually robbers. And there are dolls infesting the place that drive everyone crazier and there's stupid killing, and... it's a complete mess.

Dangerous Worry Dolls (2008) is set in a female prison. One of the prisoners gets raped, so tells her concern to a Worry Doll that then gets in her head and makes her kill everyone. The only thing I'll point out about this is that Worry Dolls are actually a thing.

Demonic Toys (1992) is a terrible movie about toys... which are demonic, and thus moving about. And there's a lady and a hardboiled detective... who are toys, or at least toy sized. (One problem with fast forwarding is that I didn't get the full story. I can survive without that.) Just to show she is willing to do anything, Tracy Scoggins is in this!

Charles Band has been involved with some good movies. Not this though... not this...


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Sunday, 3 March 2013


So that was a very interesting documentary, but there's a lot there to unpack.

In Utah, there was a company that edited movies to remove sex and other scenes. Now if a person wants to do that to their own DVDs, fine, whatever. But then to go and sell/rent those movies, ie make a profit off of modified works (and yes they are breaking copyright, no matter how carefully they rip DVDs), then... well... that's illegal. And so they got shut down. And so did the next company. Fine, I'm right with that.

But there's clearly a market for those movies, so Hollywood is being stupid not to cater to it. If they are that stupid, then frankly people are going to take advantage of it to make a profit.

How that fits into the Mormon ethics... I can't say. (And presumably there are Mormons who watched the unedited versions to work out which bits to edit, so what of them?)

But to draw attention to what you are doing? That's stupid too. And it doesn't help when one of the most vocal of the distributors is also getting jailed for extremely dodgy practices on the side, but that's as aspect that not helping anyone. (Although I was continually wondering how many of them said on camera 'I want to watch a clean version of the film', but really wanted to watch the unclean version. I'm guessing a lot, 'cos I'm cynical like that.)

People want an edited, 'clean', version of movies. Fine. People are editing movies. Fine. People are making profit from that. Not fine. Hollywood isn't making them legally either. Stupid. People are idiots all over the place... that's people for you.

Anyway, interesting documentary, as I said, although it's not clear how sensational it being (or wanted to be) at times.


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Saturday, 2 March 2013

It's not allowed to be a game

Recently I watched TotalBiscuit's take on Dear Esther. And then Downloadable just had an episode on it. In both cases, neither of them wanted to call this a game. Downloadable called it an 'experience', TotalBiscuit just flat out refused to classify it, just saying 'not a game'.

This raises the obvious question of 'what is a game?' (as Errant Signal recently asked). However it's defined (and no-one gives a definition when talking about Dear Esther), Dear Esther is cited as an example of what it is not.

Which annoys me. In one sense... who are you to say this isn't a game? If you aren't even going to give a definition of what a game is, how are you claiming that this isn't? It's just I know it when I see it, which is an entirely subjective meaning and personal opinion, which is no help at all aside from whether or not you agree with the person on other matters and would thus align yourself with their consideration of this. (This also gets into the lack of real meaning of anything.)

The real problem is that this is the heap fallacy: if there was a button to press, would that make it a game? What if you had to find a key in level one that you used in level four to open the gate to the signalling tower? What if there was one puzzle where you had to move a boulder to divert some water? Or you needed matches to light torches? Or had to avoid something slowly stalking after you? Or you had to defend yourself against an attacker? Or you had to run and gun your way across the island to activate a beaker to save mankind?

At what point does this 'not a game' become 'a game'? I'd bet there's no clear cut so you can just get over your distaste that the entertainment you enjoy also includes this piece of software.

(On the other hand, it might just be that I liked the game [YES, I CALLED IT A GAME! DEAL WITH IT!!!] and am just being defensive.)


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Friday, 1 March 2013

Second Assimilation^2

And so we have the second volume of the Doctor Who / Star Trek cross over.

There are four issues in this volume as most of them are padding. The first one is Picard padding (with backstory), the second is popping about the universe padding, the third is wandering around a ship padding, and the fourth is climax padding. Really this whole tale could have (should have) been told in half the issues. Oh, and the climax is so typical for Star Trek, it is basically 'push the button to stop the bomb' (only they don't push a button, and there's no bomb, but I did say 'basically').

The artwork is mostly decent, with the paintings of the Doctor and Picard being the most on target. The others... are close. The CyberBorg are hard to distinguish from normal Borg (although that is somewhat the point over Cyberconversion) but some more creative imagery with crossing those two concepts would have been nice.

Despite the obvious sequel set up, I'm not hanging out for it, and indeed if you haven't bothered with volume one, this doesn't inspire me to suggest the set.


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