I went to the zoo, zoo, zoo, how about you? This is the latest Meet the Locals exhibit.
Monday, 29 February 2016
Sunday, 28 February 2016
It's a movie released as The Borderlands before released as something else. And has a poster that looks like it was inspired by Cabin in the Woods.
And it's found footage cameras! It's an investigation of a church, where the first part of the movie is spent in a cottage while they wait for all the members to arrive. There is actually weird events happening at the church, with some having trouble to believe, but they can't find the secular explanations. Then they uncover a hidden basement, and get in a priest to do an exorcism, which always works in these movies. And by that, I clearly mean they get eaten by the devil. Literally, I think... the ending isn't entirely clear.
This isn't terrible, but it's not good either. It takes a while to get the actual investigation under way, there is the usual lack of a real explanation for why cameras, and there's the shock ending. Which is de rigueur for these movies. Which means it doesn't do anything that different to make it stand out. This does have better production values than most, but that's more that it's cheaper to be better than this is quality.
On the whole, I can't really recommend it, but I wouldn't say you'd need to avoid it if you find it.
Saturday, 27 February 2016
This is technically a reboot... but actually it could be any other Jason movies, with an explanation for those that missed so far.
We start with a brief recap of the first movie, where Jason's mother is offed, and Jason takes up the machete. We cut to present day in which a bunch of people turn up around Crystal Lake area, have sex and get killed. We then repeat this again and again. End.
Now, Jason movies aren't exactly known for their plot, but they usually tie into the Jason mythology in some way. In this movie, we start with the mother starter, and this is brought up again at the end, but the rest of the movie could be any generic slasher flick you can think of. The people are stupid, and Jason kills them, and *yawn* we've been here and done better. As we skip the mother part, this could fit into the Jason timeline, and it does nothing new with the backstory, so this could be any other Jason movie. Only more boring.
Given this is made more recently, there are a lot of boobs on screen, but it doesn't make this more watchable. Frankly, just pop an older movie into the player and enjoy that instead.
Friday, 26 February 2016
New series, Star Cops! I think this is a great series, although there are few things people complain about. For example, the theme song. People think it is rubbish. But it makes sense... however, it makes sense after the second episode, so we'll come back to that. We are treated to the long version as we start the story...
Which is a man in a lake being killed by two divers, as at the same time a spaceman above is killed by two other spacemen. Interested in the first murder is Inspector Nathan Spring, and he pushes hard on finding out what it is. However, his boss is more interested in the latter, and gets Spring involved in going up to the space station, mainly because he's the only British copper around they can haul in.
The space station is a mixture of cultures, with British, American, and even Australian. The killers are dealt with a bit too easily by Spring, but the one response isn't caught by Spring but Theroux, the second in command. With that, Spring is put in charge of the Star Cops, whether he wants it or not.
This is created and written by Chris Boucher, of Doctor Who fame, and the characters are really well done. We have Spring and Theroux, with a hint of Kenzy, although she hasn't really joined yet, and no sign of Davis yet. They will be the initial core, but for now we get the slow start with just the two. And this is a good introduction. We get the reluctance of Spring and the competence of Theroux and they are well crafted.
Also well crafted is the production, which is aiming for realism. This means people on wires for no gravity (they'll bring in a way around this later), and even now I can't spot the strings (although it is clear where the strings would be).
I was really impressed by the first episode. Even though it's slow, it brings you in and I'm looking forward to the rest of them (there are only nine in total).
Thursday, 25 February 2016
You want a basic popcorn action flick? Well, I’ve got a basic popcorn action flick for you.
This starts with Daft Punk committing a bank robbery, with one of the robbers being unmasked (which has very little impact on the plot). As well as getting some diamonds, there is also a computer chip, of course, and so the race is on for the bad guys (by inference more than anything else) working for The Senator try to track down the robbers and get back the chip by any means necessary. Which involves a lot of action. And then it ends on a suggestion of a sequel? Not sure, but I’m not looking for one.
And yet the top three actors in this are Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy and Morgan Freeman. What the hell are they doing in this? I gather this was well advertised in places, but it doesn’t earn it. There are paper thin plots that give some excuse for action sequences, and then there are action sequences that just happen without bothering with even a simplistic excuse, and I’m sure this is the latter. (If there is indepth plot, I completely missed it.)
Meh, if you want action, sure, but otherwise if you never see it, you’re not missing out on anything.
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
I think I saw SW1, but can’t remember, other than an impression of CGI. So I was looking forward to the second one. (I’ll say that rather than sequel because it doesn’t seem to matter if I remember the first or not.)
There’s a new Big Bad in town, and Wind and Cloud aren’t up to facing him, so they need to train and level up their abilities. They go see Lord Wicked, who says that Wind can learn the way of Evil to quickly get power. Cloud, on the other hand, seems to pick up around two dozen new sword techniques in the same time. They then stand ready to take on the Big Bad, but then the inevitable happens, and it’s Cloud vs Wind, as given hugely away in the trailer.
And again we’re talking old time fighting, so there’s a lot of CGI flying around and posing as special effects are added later. There is some hand to hand combat, so we do see them dancing, but there’s mostly just standing there looking constipated - I mean powerful.
Decent performance, but nothing outstanding, and nothing new in the plot you wouldn’t guess already. Worth seeing as an example of the genre.
Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Monday, 22 February 2016
Beyond the Sofa is a (relatively) new NZ podcast featuring David and Peter and occasionally guests... such as me! We talk about, not unsurprisingly, Doctor Who, and other stuff as well. Come me try not to get in their way and make points that people don't agree with!
I said that at the beginning, suspecting it would be used as the intro. ;)
Oh, Dave cleaned up a lot of my booboos. [Some discussions were even removed!]
And now you find out about why I watched The Crooked House!
When Peter and Dave talk, you can hear me keep out of the way!
Can you spot when I started looking up story titles?
And I've been waiting for them to do that end joke for ages, so I had to do it!
Sunday, 21 February 2016
I've heard many people talk about how this is a "fun" movie. But that's all I've heard. Is it no more than a flash in the pan movie?
Wade Wilson is a guy, who gets cancer, and undergoes a treatment to become super and deal with it. However, it sort of goes wrong? (In that aside from appearance, he hasn't really got any downside.) So Wade goes crazy and wants to track down the person who did this to him. And... that's about it. It really is a basic plot, a simple origin story you could see anywhere. But the entire enmity is largely based on how Deadpool looks... which is so superficial it’s just painful how much the movie tries to center around this.
Oh, and there is fourth wall breaking, because this is Deadpool after all.
Okay, this is a fun movie, and... yeah, it is not going to hang around. This might be the sort of movie you throw on with friends and get drunk while watching (not that I would), but it's not going to be an in-depth analysis. Plenty of us laughed in the theatre at the right moments, but already most of it has faded and we're going to move on to something else.
So yes, people will talk about this. But they won't remember it.
Saturday, 20 February 2016
It's the reason I starting reviewing both of these series. It's the cross-over event we've all been waiting for!
Freddy is creepily killing children (he's so lovable), but is now without food, so brings back Jason to kill people and make people think of Freddy. Which is naturally what you would do when you see someone's head lopped off. To be fair, they do set it up so that Jason's killing can be thought of as Freddy, but it's way over played to force the two franchises together. After a long and stupid spate of killings, Jason is taking away Freddy's kills, so they turn on each other, with a final confrontation at Crystal Lake. Which goes on, and on, and has them all die and come back three or four or ten times. Until it finally is the end. Honest, guv, I wouldn't lie to you. Again.
The point of Freddy is a good group of people traumatised by a killer everyone denies. The point of Jason is to... well, supposedly to kill stupid people. So what we have here is good people traumatised by Jason? That doesn't really work, and this movie doesn't. Freddy being a secret is over played, and Jason being a killer is one note, and it's like the movie has these toys but doesn't know how to use them properly.
Frankly, as cross-overs go, this is a failure.
Friday, 19 February 2016
One memory I have of S&S is of a car in a garage... so I saw this story when I was a kid. Or possibly just that one moment. I'm not sure if I was allowed to see it or not, I definitely wanted to, but I do remember that image.
As well as a garage, there's a cafe and some back rooms. And two people from the past. S&S turn up to find Silver already waiting for them, a most unusual thing, and time has stopped. What the hell is going on? Nothing is explained as Johnny Jack turns up, and the old man potters around with a tire. Until finally Silver tries to breach the barrier around the place, and activates the three men into being Transient Beings. And they are not happy with S&S. They try to get the woman away but... this is the trap. The pair are left alone in a cafe, floating through space...
As a way to go out, this is a hell of a last gasp. It was intended for there to be more stories if the leads could ever get their schedules aligned (so this is the Sherlock of its time!), but eventually the production team decided this was a good a finale as any. And with three episodes of mystery and one episode of revealing more about the nature of beings and authority in the universe, there is more than enough here for everyone.
This is a great last story for the series. And this should come back to TV one day...
Thursday, 18 February 2016
Or rather, Stan Lee's Lucky Man. I'm thinking that name is the main reason this got made.
Detective Inspector Harry Clayton is a gambler. And a cop, but mainly a gambler with debts. Until he gets a bracelet that makes him very lucky indeed. However, at the cost of someone else's misfortune. While there is crimes going on that he has to solve, someone else is interested in the bracelet, and he tries to find out more about it. His luck is on the up, but that's not leading to happiness.
People being lucky has been done before, but usually not to this extent of grim darkness. (It isn't overwhelming grim darkness, but it isn't the light and fun of, say, Strange Luck). This is British and in the style of their usual cop dramas, with this added bonus of Stan Lee's influence (and he even gets a cameo in the opening episode).
Starring in this is James Nesbitt, which is the main reason I wanted to watch it. And, hey, I see Owen Harper is still around being a doctor with a posh accent. And there are some other familiar faces.
But on the whole... no, it's just not gripping really. They are making too much of "what is the secret of the bracelet?", spinning it out, and trying to keep up the mystery, but it's not going to be a good pay off.
I probably will watch the rest of the series, being as it is only ten episodes, but I'm not signing up for a second series (if there is one).
Wednesday, 17 February 2016
The epic conclusion! Which is only a conclusion because this is a three parter, and this could easily have been a stand alone story.
The main chap has an unusual doorknocker and during the morning, it knocks. However there is, of course, no-one outside, but the man finds his door now leads to a house in the past. Coincidentally, the man has a pregnant ex-partner he is not sure about, and now he's questioning his sanity as strange things happen to him. The doorknocker is the key to the matter, but not even getting rid of it stops the madness.
The conclusion does work better given the set up, but as I said, it could easily have been stand alone. It is also more set up than actual pay off, and it's not that exciting a pay off.
Overall, this series feels more like "let's get Mark Gatiss to fill in some time" more than it feels like it came from a place of desire to tell a story.
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
Continuing with this series, we have the awkward middle child that neither sets things up, nor finishes them off. (There is a note dropped, but don't worry if you missed it, it gets pointed out in the recap next time.)
For this one, we have the more usual ghost, this one being a ghost wife. Back in the '30s, a couple announce their engagement at a smashing party, but one uninvited guest does not have their happiness in mind. The ghost wants to split the new couple, and leads the would-be wife into thinking unkind thoughts about her would-be husband.
We can spend a little more time on the story this time, and again it's the basic set up of a ghost about the place with a secret tied into the past of the house. The setting, although simple, is nice enough, and provides a good context for the ghost setting.
That said, it's not creepy at all, with the most unsettling thing is Mark Gatiss' acting.
Monday, 15 February 2016
For reasons that will become clear later, I've been watching a mini series, The Crooked House, by Mark Gatiss.
This is a three parter, with each part being a ghost story in itself, all centered around Keep House. The first one, set back in medieval times, has an owner who is getting renovations done to his house. But the wainscoting is proving rather problematic, and he hears noises coming from it. But is there anything there? Or will it take over his mind to destruction?
This is a rather basic story. Each episode is only 30 minutes, and we need to get Keep House itself set up as well as get a ghost story in. This one is the simple "there's something in the walls", and despite a little bit of padding, it still feels rushed and just skipping to the important beats we expect.
A rather straight forward start, with hopefully better to come from Gatiss.
Sunday, 14 February 2016
Well, it is. Quite clearly so. And it's not original for me to say this. But I'm not the one saying it, but I am helping it being said. In particular, this is a Pledge Me campaign I backed.
The result of this campaign is a booklet by Nicola Gaston, based on work she's done, called "Why Science is Sexist". This is to be sent to a number of people in universities and the like, the number being determined by the success of the campaign. (I'm not sure what the final numbers were, but they seemed happy.)
We also got a copy of this, and I've read it. It covers the basic issues, with lots of personal anecdotes. Which aren't science, but they are used to illustrate the actual science also talked about in this. These studies are not things we haven't heard of, for example if a CV is submitted under a male and female name, the male named one does better. In nearly all areas, moreso than just science.
Hopefully we are changing and getting better, and being aware of this is an important part of that. And this helps with that, so hopefully we can make a difference.
Saturday, 13 February 2016
This is the one most people remember. Jason! In! SPAAAAACE!
In sort of present day, Jason gets frozen, and is resurrected in the future. Due to people having sex, he comes back to "life" and starts a new killing spree. Then is stopped by an android. Then he becomes an android. And killing continues!
While the trope of Jason being activated by sex is common, having watched the movies they didn't really do that too much. But suddenly this movie feels like it's playing to tropes and so Jason is up when sex happens. And then we get Terminator Jason, so it's not taking itself even slightly seriously.
Amusingly, this features Lexa Doig and Lisa Ryder as a human and a robot, and later they would both be in Andromeda with their roles reversed.
This is fun, but more Jason mocking itself than an actual entry in the series.
Friday, 12 February 2016
This is, of course, the only one not written by PJ Hammond. As is clearly evident from how the opening title card is modified as it scrolls upwards.
In this we are replaying Nine Little Indians, which is not revealing anything unknown. The time aspect is because Muldoon is replicating the house from 30 years ago, Time can replay the events from back then and change them to wipe out humanity... which would stop the events to change time from happening... but then there are quite a few issues I have with this episode.
It is also clear that the episode was swapped back and forth between the writers. One obvious example is that Howard is creeping about the place, with close up shots on his squeaking shoes... but nothing comes of that. Build up with no pay off. And the events of the last episode come largely out of nowhere. And S&S are just observers for most of that episode.
It's not a bad story, but doesn't feel like proper S&S, because PJ was too busy to write another episode at the time. The other writers introduce some new items, and go for obvious romantic angle between them. We could say it is the parts S&S are playing, Cavendish, but it feels more pandering to the fans. One thing I will give them, we get a neat change of how their teleportation works.
No doubt if the series had continued there would have been other writers involved. And if Big Finish have taught up anything, it's that that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing.
Thursday, 11 February 2016
While Agents isn't happening, we have the stand in of Agent Peggy Carter, spin off of Captain America and prequel to Agents, of a sort.
Peggy Carter is an agent of SSR, a woman in a man's world, trying to prove she is more than capable. And in the first series, it was that plus a lot of strangeness that lead to Peggy beating people up. Because she is a bruiser character, more brawn than brains (although she has to be brains as well). However, in the second series, it feels more about being a woman in a man's world, and less about other aspect. There are other aspects also on display, but the supernatual side feels more confused. Or maybe I'm just not paying as much attention because it's less interesting.
Either way, this second series doesn't feel as exciting or engaging as the first one. Did they put everything into the first one? Or is this just a fizzle until we get a third? Either way, I'm not eagerly awaiting like last time.
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
It’s a weird house story that decides to become a supernatural story, but trips and falls over its own feet.
An author and family moves into a murder house, because the author thinks it’ll be a great book. He finds a projector and film canisters that shows previous murders, and he starts getting spooked. Not helped by strange sounds and odd scares. Eventually, they decide to leave, but too late, and then oops!
Around halfway through the movie, it decides to up the supernatural flavour. Up to that point, it’s decent, a jump scare or two that got me, but then we must have ghosts. Which are represented by ghost children appearing behind the author but disappearing before he can see them… at which point, I’m wondering ‘who’s this supposed to scare?’. It’s not scaring the character, because he doesn’t see them. It’s not scaring the audience because we just start expecting it and so impact is gone. And from then on, I’m just annoyed and confused by what the movie is trying to do. And the solution as to who did the murders don’t make the slightest bit of sense when you consider the strength needed…
Just no. I gather there’s a sequel (in that I suppose they’re trying to set up a franchise with the concept), but I’m not feeling it.
Tuesday, 9 February 2016
Is this a biopic? Is this a docudrama? Is this just three connected bits relating to one man? Yep, I'd say the latter.
The set up is three different press conferences, although we don't get the conferences themselves, but the build up to. Which feature the same group of people and very similar problems and dramatic beats. So... it is sort of just one story told three times with some character advances.
The character pieces are such that it's obvious that Aaron Sorkin wrote it, with lots of fast paced, high tension moments, but hardly any plot. Which is largely common Sorkin screenplay. Still enjoyable and watchable, but don't expect much to actually happen.
The various actors are fine with a constant performance from Michael Fassbender, and solid work from Kate Winslet. The others feel more like frequent cameos. The production values are fine, as it is easy for present day to replicate the past.
Decent movie, and it movies along well enough for two hours, but I wouldn't say this is a great look into the mind of Mr Jobs.
Monday, 8 February 2016
It’s a horror action comedy… and actually manages to blend those elements together well!
We’re in a bar (so nicely limited set again), when a chap bursts in and announces monsters are on the way. And then it’s on, as the people in the bar try to survive and actually make a stand against the monsters. People die, but not all, so that’s good, right?
An unusual element straight out of the gate is when it introduces someone, we get a still shot, and information displayed as to name, job… and life expectancy. The movie is perfectly aware of the tropes, so when the kid is introduced, we are assured that he will live a long and healthy life. And the hero is going to be here for the movie… who then quickly dies and is replaced by the heroine.
So that makes it decent. The monster costumes… are a little basic (bad mask and tattered clothes), and the quick cuts are a little too quick to work out what exactly is going on, but the movie is having fun and brings us along for the ride.
Worth checking out.
Sunday, 7 February 2016
I saw this on sale, and was interested. It's a book about someone who grew up (and left) the Exclusive Brethren, the NZ branch.
This follows Ngaire Thomas, who was born into the EB, and had a rather reasonable childhood (in so far as an exclusivity based community has). As she became a young woman, she conflicted more with EB priests and their guidelines (they aren't rules). She even married an EB man because she was part of that lifestyle, but still tried to have her own life. Until she (and family) was evicted and she had to start anew in the outside.
While I'm sure the EB would deny any and all charges, they do come across a lot better than they could have been portrayed. This is a story I've come across before, a very insular community, run basically as a cult of personality, while a woman tries to be herself.
From this, it sounds like the EB is imploding. Bon voyage, is all I can say.
Saturday, 6 February 2016
Is this a sequel? A reboot? All of these and neither!
In the world of the world that made Freddy movies, we catch up with the actors from the first movie who have moved on, although are constantly reminded of their horror past. In particular, we follow Heather Langenkamp and her family. There is news that a few movie is in the works, with her involved, and at the same time a stalker is after her pretending to be Freddy. Or is it only pretense? And then quickly we have Freddy is real and after the kid and it’s all a big fight in the dreams.
Aside from the ending, this is what Wes Craven wanted Fred to be, more about the impact Fred has on people rather than just cool dream death sequences, so that part works really well. It’s a creeping atmosphere, and we get the breakdown of Heather to mirror what she did in the first movie. But then the ending is a big dream battle, and given the set up previously, it’s obvious how it’s going to go, and it’s just a sense of marking time until we hit the end credits.
Heather gives a good performance, and Robert Englund nearly gets to do something interesting, but is devolved into Fred quickly. The kid isn’t that annoying, just a low level annoying that’s just on the side of acceptable.
Wes intended this to get back to the roots of his vision, and in that it works well. But then it has to fit into the Freddy series, and just goes lame.
Friday, 5 February 2016
From the worst to the best. This is a four parter, it's tight... and it's brilliant.
I presume this was a set on a studio, but it easily could have been a simple building they found somewhere. S&S is often minimal of set, and this is another one of those. Three rooms and a stairway, really. The menace is a chap who lives in photographs. Every photograph. Including your photographs. And that's a freaky premise that's amazing. The figure can be any figure, and switches between two from one shot to the next in a very casual way that demonstrates its power. And S&S are other outmatched. The figure plays with and traps them easily, and only barely get a sort of win due to someone else's intervention. (Supposedly 75 years after they would be around to trap the figure again... but now?)
Great performances. And especially so when there are moment when all you are doing is looking at a picture with voice over. Now that's simple camera work, and yet it's a tense moment. The first time with Ruth being trapped and then dying, and then later with S&S trapped... the photo is the threat, not a moment to look away bored. (Although the CGI composition of the man into the photos does leave rather a lot to be desired.)
While I do like the longer stories, this one works well as a four parter, and any longer it would repeat itself. This does what it needs and gets out. Everything together, this is easily my favourite of the series.
Thursday, 4 February 2016
From Arrow to Flash to... this series. Only the pilot is out so far, but it builds off the previous serieses.
The premise is that Rip Hunter comes back in time to get heroes of today to fight Vandal Savage (who killed Rip's family). And so they leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home... er wait. Anyway, we don't really have the typical episode, but the set up is to go to events in time and fight Savage. Which, to me, sounds like it's going to get boring really fast.
Which means that we'll probably also have episodes where we have various characters with their own agenda suddenly active in some time line that conveniently occurs. Because that always happens, and this production team isn't that innovative. They'll do some things that are interesting, but basically look out for various heroes and villains crop up for cameos before disappearing again, because that is how this series works.
Oh, and it's hard to see Rip as anything other than Rory.
Fine, it is just the pilot so far, so there's a chance it could develop greatness... but it's going to take a while to convince me.
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
I've been playing a fair bit of Vanilla Minecraft, especially on a server. However, I've watched many a streamer play Minecraft with mods, and I want in on that too.
I started with using the Technic Launcher to play a pack that gave me Twilight Forest and EMC. I like EMC (which enables you to basically change any item for any other item), but it is a little over powered at times. However, it leaked memory like a sieve and eventually it just locked up and if I wanted to play again I'll probably need to delete the world... or reinstall the program. Can't be bothered.
I also tried the AT Launcher as there were a few packs on there. One I tried, Mad Pack 3, involved me dying every other minute, so that wasn't fun. And the only way I could get anywhere was by cheating. Yeah, that didn't last long.
Then a new server was set up with FTB Infinity. That's got a lot of stuff in it, and I've managed to get quite far. Botania gives a lot of great items (it's nature as tech), and of course you need to set up an ME Network to get anywhere. And now I'm quarrying, and need to think about big reactors and big power sources...
Yeah, mods are the way to go. And NEI and Walia and some kind of map should be in the base vanilla game by now.
All of which means I might not be putting as much into these posts as I could.
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
It’s another movie largely based on a single set.
A London Block Estate, when people are suddenly trapped in their own homes, electricity cut off, water cut off, and doors sealed shut. And, strangely, no-one tries to smash the glass in the windows (I’m guessing because the film makers didn’t want to pay for it?). Some neighbours gather together (by going through walls), and eventually capture one of the hazmat suited figures. It’s an unknown virus! And then it ends up being each group of people for themselves. Until eventually we reach the end of the movie where… the movie ends.
This doesn’t go anywhere that hasn’t already been done better by other movies (Night of the Living Dead, take a bow.) The moral is… there isn’t one really. But at least we have performances, including… people in front of the camera.
This feels more like ‘hey, I want to do my take on a movie’ rather than something with something to say. And it shows.
Monday, 1 February 2016
It's a three hour movie, and my bladder couldn't take it. On the other hand, it's a Quentin Tarantino movie, so I didn't miss anything.
A group of people (about eight) slowly gather at an outpost and are stuck together as the snow traps them. However, they aren't nice people, so slowly they have to put up with each other, and often fail to do so. There is a lot of characterisation, although little plot, and a lot of people die.
There is a whole lot of talking, with odd moments of action. However, it is largely captivating, aside from a few repeated scenes (the door for example) which I'm sure came across as a knee-slapper on paper but just takes up time on screen.
There are big names in this, but they are all good so I won't pick up specific people (other than the obligatory shout out to New Zealander Zoe Bell!). Nicely done sets too, and good composition of shots.
If you can take the run time, it's worth a sit through.