Tuesday, 31 December 2013

There goes free time

Ah, the games of yesteryear. Weren't they so much better than the games of today? No, no they weren't. And to prove it, you can play those really old games!

The Console Living Room is a project by the Internet Archive to bring all those old 'console' games back to life. Where 'console' is things like the Atari 2600, the Magnavox and the Coleco. Never heard of them? Can't say I'm surprised. Me, I first started with actual programmable machines like the ZX81, but I was aware of these beasts.

Ah, but such games. I can remember things like Mario Bros... Joust... Rampage... Donkey Kong... (I'm not sure why there is no sound. Maybe just my browser?)

Of course, there are a lot of games I'd like to play from around then that aren't on the archive. Karnov. The New Zealand Story. ... okay, so that's two. But they aren't on there... yet!


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Monday, 30 December 2013


This is another kickstarter item, a comic called Giant! Which is ironic as the comic is about the size of A5!

This is a rather short version of a typical story whereby 'young chap who flubs everything does good'. The main character is a lot of a goof, but is an alchemist... and there's a small problem in the story where he has some potions, but it's never explained what they do. Somehow they help? Anyway, there's a giant that turns up, so they need to deal with that.

I can see this being an easy Saturday morning cartoon, and it's a decent enough story, but does feel rather short. The drawing style is nice, and simple but effective and easy to read expressions. The characters are cute enough, and my copy of this book has the Gargoyle as a special image (although he's got my name wrong).

I don't know if you can get this elsewhere, but worth reading if you can get it simply.


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Sunday, 29 December 2013


I meant to talk about Triton earlier, after reading volume 1, but seems I forgot. Hey, means I can talk about volume 1 and 2! Anyway, this was the original point of the kickstarter.

Triton is a man of the ocean, but starts off in human society. However, he drawn to the ocean, and, by the end of volume 1, is pretty much returned to the sea. He has something of a girlfriend, but must fight the ancient Atlantean clan, headed up by Poseidon. First, he must take out the children of Poseidon before forming an alliance with Poseidon... or does he?

It's amazing how sprawling this story gets while still only focusing on just a few people. And some of the characters are dolphins! (FUN-yaa!) Although I do wonder if there is a coloured version of this around, and one of the dolphins is golden, and represented by being white with glow lines.

The ending isn't one one would expect, but Osamu Tezuka doesn't shy away from outcomes while still keeping this being fantastical. Although I could do with the chapter sizes being standardised (how many pages do I need to get through?).

Good story overall, and glad I was a part of this.


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Saturday, 28 December 2013

DW: The Time of the Doctor

They got the name of this episode wrong, and I'll hardly be the first person to say it: it should have been The Continuity of the Doctor. All those missing bits and pieces from the previous seasons we've been wondering about are brought up, and I guess answered in a way, here. And... doesn't that make it a crap Christmas special?

This is it! Hey, it's the origin of the Silence! Er... all right. It's the origin of the crack in time! Well, kinda... It's the origin of the question! Rather disappointingly... It explains the whole twelve regenerations thing! Except only us hardcore nerds ever cared about it. It featured Matt Smith in old age make up! Because if you are going to have a special, why not put your main lead in prosthetic make up for most of the time. (Yes, I know there are plenty of shows with leads in prosthetics, but they were designed that way!) It answered all those questions only us fanatical ones were answering...

...and no-one else cared about. Really. I find it highly unlikely that the general watcher, except on a casual basis, cared about the whole 'name spoken on the fields of Trenzalore' thing, and what not. In fact, this retcon episode makes for a rather boring story. Outside of exposition city, what happens in this episode? Not a lot! The Doctor goes to a place, and then stays there... and then the episode ends with a Deus Ex TimeandSpacia.

And how is it all solved? With sparkly regeneration effects, because we've now proved that regeneration energy is powerful enough to destroy whole Dalek ships! And if you must do a "remember all these companions" bit, at least go with an updated version of the end of The Caves of Androzani, instead of dragging it out like some show runners. And I will give them points for a quick change over of actor.

Aside from capping off the Eleventh Doctor, I doubt families gathering around the telly after Christmas dinner found this episode particularly thrilling...

Next Time: Well, we got us a Peter Capaldi, and a mad cap adventure I'm sure awaits!


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Friday, 27 December 2013

The non-Christmas Movie

I remember when I first saw Die Hard with a Vengeance, when I was with a friend who had already seen it, I said to him "I hope this doesn't take too long to get going." Boy howdy!

This, in many ways, is even more of a replicate of the first movie. There's a Gruber, there is stealing of money, there is a deception to make people think something else is going on... it's just like the first movie! But this movie, in other ways, is having even more fun than the first. The riddles to send McClane all over the place, getting Zeus involved so there can be more of a 'buddy' vibe to the movie, the uncovering of layers of the plot... the only real let down is that the ending feels like the very tacked on affair that it is.

Still, you got to admire Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson in this. They have a great chemistry together. And Jeremy Irons kicks it up a notch with him evidently enjoying his role. Indeed, they were all having fun. And there are some impressive sequences (even if, again, the Mythbusters show some of them couldn't happen).

This ranks only just below the first in fun, and with plenty of action is a great entry to watch.


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Thursday, 26 December 2013

The other Christmas Movie

It's set at Christmas for one obvious reason. Die Harder is simply the first movie redone. (I've read both novels the movies were based on. The first one had some changes, but was a lot closer than the second.)

We have would be terrorists again, we got us some big explosions, we got McClain running about the place complaining that this is the same movie again. I had forgotten about the other group of 'good guys' that turn up. Which, to be honest, really feels like a complication they could have left out. That whole scene with the Church battle could easily have been dropped without too much going missing. And the last explosion looks cool (even if the Mythbusters have proven it impossible).

William Sadler is looking good for a man of 40. Dennis Franz, although a cop, isn't completely retreading his role (which I haven't actually seen). Art Evans gets some fun parts to fill in, gets near action as well as expository. And, of course, we have Bruce Willis, with a higher quip ratio, and able to take out whole groups of guys when SWAT teams can't. Some scenes do push the credibility factor, but it's still all good.

Certainly not up to the first, or the third, this movie is far better than some entrants in this now series.


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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

THE Christmas Movie

If you are going to have a tradition for watching a Christmas movie, there is only one choice you can have. The one, the only... Die Hard!

This is the beginning of the everyman film. A cop from New York ends up in Los Angeles, at a party with his estranged wife, and ends up shirtless, shoeless and aidless as he takes on a European gang who have an exceptional thief for a boss. There's action a plenty, and even character growth, in this amazingly well crafted film. A hell of a lot of the dialogue is quoteable, and there are many performances to applaud, with, of course, the main plaudits going to Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman.

And I'm not one to go gaga over the music, but Michael Kamen does a wondeful job with the music score, with his arrangement of Ode to Joy. The perfectly time swelling as they enter the vault is masterful. And we even get a hint of the end song, courtesy of Al, before it shows up as a final cap to the movie.

I love this film, and it's one of my top ever movies of all time. Never mind the family classics, sit down and watch this!


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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Blackest of Christmas

I've always wanted to see the movie that spawned the phrase "the calls are coming from inside the house!", and this is it! Well, close enough. That exact line is never said, but we get the idea.

It's Christmas time, and at a Sorority House, the girls are getting obscene phone calls. And then they start going missing, as one by one they position themselves in such a way as so they can be attacked but everyone else is diverted at the time and doesn't hear them being killed. Useful! Anyway, events build up until the killer is killed... or is he?

I'm going with the director that this is more psychological horror than slasher, but it, back in 1976, did help form the trend. But as a horror movie, it works well. We the audience sometimes aren't entirely clear as to if a certain person is the killer or not (and if not, how did he know to look in the basement? That's what I want to know). It can get a little ridiculous just how the girls can be isolated and killed off, but it's not like people are dropping dead left, right and centre.

We do get a few names in this. Margot Kidder is in the house! As is John Saxon. We also get a very menacing performance from Keir Dullea, looking nothing like Dave Bowman, and Olivia Hussey being the star, who is no stranger to horror roles.

Decent movie. Why is it that we need to go back to these old flicks to find them?


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Monday, 23 December 2013

Hevent Orizon!

This is one of my favourite movies. Science fiction horror movie in space. And better at it than Hellraiser 4 tried to be.

Strange ship returns from somewhere, rescue ship goes to find out what happened... and they find that strange events are happening. On the plus side, when they are seeing strange things, they do talk about it. "Hey, I saw someone who is dead / back on earth." Perhaps that means something that you should be careful about... on the negative side, they do still chase the people that shouldn't be there (although it's clear they are mentally "infected" at that point).
[I've wanted to do a story such that when that starts happening, the crew goes "we have a D9 situation" and get suitable drugs or something to help them against the mental onslaught.]
And it ends with people dying who you'd think would make it, and vice versa, and there's a hint there for a sequel (there should totally be a sequel).

Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill, fantastic! I love the way Neill delivers the line "Captain, I'm having some problems here!" and the corridor he's stuck in goes crazy. Although I'm not sure he would have been so enamoured of the prosthetics he had to wear. And Fishburne gets some great dramatic moments to perform, even with being in a ship in space (obviously would stand him in good stead come Matrix). And what other movie ends with Prodigy?

Seriously, great movie. If you like any of those genres, check this movie out!


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Sunday, 22 December 2013


Yes, me, I am, myself... about to discuss sport! Shock!

I don't watch a lot of sport. I think, if I tried to, I could get into soccer. But one sport I will watch when it's on is cricket (probably because I used to watch it with my dad, but then I still have no interest in rugby).

I've been watching the New Zealand vs West Indies match, and it's been tense at times! We probably would have won the Dunedin match, but we'll never know. The Wellington one... three days! And, unless they screw it up, NZ will win on day four at Hamilton.

But something that's been common across these matches is that the opening partnership has failed pretty quickly... which, really, makes it easy for one of the batsmen. He gets out, then has the rest of the innings off! On the other hand, consider the bowlers. When they bat, they are at the end of the innings, they come in, there's lot of pressure, and generally they fail (because they aren't on the team for their batting potential), then, ten minutes later (such as today), they are out and bowling again. That's full on! It's not like the top batsmen have to bowl, but everyone has to bat.

So here's to the bowlers. And it's been a bowlers game mostly. Here's to them keeping it up!


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Saturday, 21 December 2013

Cock of the Walk

Suitable for an early morning post:

One of the many Zoo residents, and, quite probably, the first time I've encountering a full on crowing rooster.

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Friday, 20 December 2013


I did see Pitch Black long ago. I was present while Chronicles was on screen. And now I've zipped through this latest take on Vin Diesel's pet project.

After a hurried explanation, Riddick finds himself on J Q Random planet, and spends some time dealing with the wild life and being 'badass' on screen. Then he brings two ships down to get him, they spend some time all squabbling and Riddick going 'badass' on them, then darkness hits and they need to team up to go 'badass' on J Q Random beasts.

Sounds unexciting? Damn skippy! Lots of brown, lots of close up editing to establish pace. A lot of CGI creatures we are supposed to believe people are interacting with. And, of course, entirely unneeded nudity of Katie Sackhoff (I would at least concede some degree of allowance to the movie if guys also stripped... but only she did).

There's nothing particularly noteworthy here. Only see it if you can't find anything else at the video store.


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Thursday, 19 December 2013

The President Staffed

Oh dear gods... I don't think I have the words... this is a terrible movie beyond the belief of terrible movies...

The President, in the Oval Office, gets an email to say the office doors and windows are covered in bombs, and they will blow in 24 hours, or earlier if they try to leave. Okay, that's stupid, but not impossible. Oh, and the email was sent by aliens. The President is trapped with an intern and two fibre optic technicians... will they survive? And you won't believe the ending... seriously, even when you are watching it, you won't believe this is the ending they are going with.

This is set in a single room, namely the Oval Office...'s bad knock off. The windows are conveniently covered so they don't need to show outside, and other people appear as voices through the door. The actors are completely real and not at all obvious they are Italian... oh wait, the other way around. The script maintains the sense of inanity and the writer is a little too proud of his ability to play with names. As for the big names... nope, didn't recognise anyone.

I admit I watch bad movies, looking for that one rare gem... this is so not that, it's a rare non-gem.


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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Man Who Read A Book

I'm a big fan of Stephen Donaldson, so it's kind of surprising it took me so long to even start reading his detective novels originally published under the name Reed Stephens. The first one is... The Man Who Killed His Brother.

This, being a detective novel, is fill of twists and turns... and yet, I picked who the bad guy would be early on, and surprise, no surprise, it was that person. Girls are going missing and turning up dead, overdosed on heroin and no longer virgins. And yet... it takes a while before people leap to the kidnapping option. Really? I was there straight away. I mean, it was kind of obvious. And not just because this is a detective novel. Perhaps his later works are better?

Character wise, there was a lot here I recognised as Donaldson, with the way the main character 'Brew' has to force himself to act, to the way he reacts to people. Other characters are fairly one-note, it feels like Donaldson needs a longer work to bring characterisation out, or just write a short story and just get in and out (although his short stories can be very hit or miss).

While I have the next two ready to go, but I think I'll read something else to break this up.


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Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Yeah, they made a sequel. Moreover, they are setting up a whole new franchise. Can't remember the first? Don't worry, I barely can either, although the movie does kinda assume you know what happened, and there's no recap so... yeah, good decision there guys.

In this chapter, there's a whole new house, but the same ghost comes back. And lots of minor things happen like pianos playing and small things moving. But if that's not enough, there's also a haunted hospital! And another haunted house! More haunted houses for your buck! It turns out there's a whole backstory deal, and someone was watching Psycho too much and there's running around with blue filters and... a rather lame ending.

But there is something missing from this movie. Namely... scares. I was not scared once. Not even a jump scare. Ooh, this thing moved... and? Creepy sounds are made... and? It's a ghost! ... and? Not even the characters in the movie can really get that much worked up. Scary noise and they go towards it, and then they are ready to take on the spirits and the like, and... It's just a whole lot of nothing.

Even if you saw Chapter 1, I wouldn't recommend bothering with Chapter 2. And if you haven't seen Chapter 1, there's no point starting here.


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Monday, 16 December 2013

Alpha Papapapapapa

Yeah, I enjoy the Alan Patridge tv series (not the 'Ah ha!' one, the two seasons of 'I'm Alan Patridge'), so of course I had to see the movie. In a theatre, as it happens, that only had three other people in it!

At North Norfolk Digital there are changes taking place, one such is the firing of one of the team, who doesn't quite take it in the best of spirits. And Alan needs to step in and try to help, as only Alan Patridge can. Yep, badly. And funnily!

There were quite a few laughs, from me and the others. Steve Coogan is great as Alan Patridge. Felicity Montagu's Lynn has a bit too much spirit. Colm Meaney gets quite a bit to do as Pat Farrell.. but the rest of the cast, even Nigel Lindsay as the nominally evil Jason Tresswell is rather one note in their characters and performance.

A funny movie that doesn't outstay its welcome, and one with great songs too!


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Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Smaugolation of Des

I saw this movie with just two of the available dees. There were a few scenes I thought 'that might look nice in 3D' (hint: probably not because 3Dness isn't the 3Dness I think it should be), so I might yet see this again, but at least it was a nice, not even slightly packed, theatre.

And I'll hide some thoughts away:
The Beorn sequence was rather short. And I'm sure there was lots of annoyance from the actors trying to line everything up with green screens and such. Really, the whole movie timeline was compacted A LOT.

What the hell happened to Mirkwood? There were long scenes in there, and Bombur(?) is supposed to undergo some mental anguish and stuff. Still, we do have Bilbo going invisible more often, although in the book he tells the others of the ring!!!

The barrel sequence... was unbelievable. Okay, I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them, but this was an action sequence for the sake of an action sequence (unlike the rest of the action sequences, which were action sequences for the sake of having other action sequences). Those barrels shouldn't have survived that long, let along they should have sunk after the first waterfall. The book had it a lot clearly, with the barrels actually being sealed.

Fili and Tauriel... okay, was that invented entirely for the movie, or are there other texts in which that is set up? To be honest, it wasn't necessary, and was an excuse for another female presence in the movie (and there was no real excuse at all for Legolas being in the movie), but I didn't really mind as it helped break things up.

The Gandalf fighting scene was impressive... but he gets captured a lot in these movies.

That ending... it was in the wrong place! Instead of the big forge fight, we should have had the attack on Lake Town. Now people have to remember the whole black arrow story and the chipped scales and such. We should have ended after the death of Smaug, the characters thing they are fine, but we pull back to let the audience know the five armies are on their way, boom, tension for movie number three without as many dangling plot threads! And the five armies is going to be a huge enough time sink... I mean battle anyway.

While this did indeed deviate quite wildly, as long as you can divorce yourself from the book it's good, and I'm sure will be an interesting part of a trilogy watching binge.


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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Friday, 13 December 2013

2013 is over!

I was going to post a rant about how it's not much into December, but everyone's already rushing out top lists of 2013, because nothing good can possibly come in the next few weeks (I particularly enjoy the top ten movie lists that refuse to acknowledge there might be a movie that's only just been released that might be worthy of including on a list that had to come out a week ago...).

But instead, I'm going to post this video. Of the top YouTube videos of 2013 instead...

I got a couple... but only a couple... I'm too hip for this scene, daddio...


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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Slay Ride

...I got nothing I particularly want to talk about... so here's a lovely seasonal tune!


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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Reign of Winter

We continue on our merry way through the snow, and over night we are visited by small creatures that picked over our stuff and despoiled our food. Fortunately, our cleric knows how to Purify Food and Water [and made his save to be able to cast such].

However, the food situation does bring to bare that we didn't quite plan our supplies properly, and are close to running out, so we set out for a nearby village that we were planning on missing. Close to there, we find a hut, and on approaching it, we are quickly caught up in the woes of a woman who claims her husband has been taken by a moss troll. [Here I think my player knowledge came far to quickly to the fore, and I, and others admittedly, were immediately suspicious of this. Surely a simple moss troll encounter would be too easy? Perhaps there was more going on here than met the eye, but I, and others, were on our guard for something not to obvious to be happening.]

We go to the moss troll cave, and looking around I find tracks, although smaller than what they should be. Inside, we do indeed see a troll like being, covered in moss and spores, but smaller. And carrying the husband's axe. However, although we call out to it, it just straight up attacks us. As we fight back, some strange happens, with the skin rippling, but it takes a while before we realise that this is a second skin of moss troll (at least, something that looked a lot like one) over another person. However, that doesn't stop Mage from frying it, and it is only because we have a handy cleric that the husband isn't barbecue. The couple (and she turns out to be a Fey creature!) are grateful, and fortunately have a remove curse scroll to deal with the Ring of Regeneration I am wearing that is actually a Ring of Life Bleed. Thanks for giving that to me, party! They also give us food so we can get back on track.

Onwards, Nadya's son wonders off, and we go searching. The other party find him first, surrounded by wolves, but see them off just before we arrive. Continuing, we get to the Stone we were interested in, and while there is power here, there's nothing we can do about it. We find small buried bones, which I surmise are a form of sacrifice to the queen believed trapped. [Again, player knowledge possibly coming a little too quickly.] Finally, we are on the way to the capital...

[Which, with Christmas and New Year, might take us a while to get to...]


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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Bond. The Bond.

I'm currently reading... okay, I'm currently listening to the recent audio book versions of the original James Bond novels. Wow, and are they novel.

Did the series become popular with Casino Royale? How? We get an exciting action sequence... in which Bond plays cards. Then an exciting action sequence... in which Bond is tortured. Then an exciting action sequence... in which Bond tries to share his life with his new love. Not exactly the kicking action we expect.

The next book, Live and Let Die is a bit more like it. As is Moonraker and Diamonds are Forever. And with references to past stories, definitely need to read (listen) to them in the right order. Action sequences through out, and actual tension. And some times getting the girl.

And 'girl' is definitely the term, in that it denotes Bond as rather sexist. And possibly racist, although that might just be Ian Fleming, although it's hard to be sure. He's derogatory to negros as well as pointing out they are as capable as anyone. Bond comes across as a lot colder than he is usually portrayed on screen, and certainly not as suave.

Currently on From Russia With Love, although with over the first third of the book having no Bond, you'd be right in wondering if this was part of the series! And we finally get a gadget filled suitcase for the first time, although it's just storing items, not squirting out jets of oil or laser beams or anything.

This is making me want to watch the movies again, just to see how different they are... so that might be a series of posts some time...


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Monday, 9 December 2013

United Hulk Man and Iron

Some part of the Marvel company decided that there isn't enough Marvel around, and so it looks like they are kicking off a new range, and I say that based on that there's a post-credit teaser, even in this animated movie! (Where movie is applied generously to something 70 minutes long.)

Hulk is used for a battery, and Iron Man investigates this, and while explosions are happening, a living spark of energy escapes, and then infects Iron Man's ship, and then there's a lot of smashing. Like a whole lot of smashing. Like they only put the Hulk in this so they'd have a good excuse for most of the movie being smashing. Because there is a lot. A lot of smashing that is. And then it ends... or does it? (See above re post-credit teaser.)

It's a simple affair, with only five actors being used. Adrian and Fred are back as Iron Hulk, and the other regular voice artists are also regularly voice artisting. The animation is a little odd. Although it is 3D CGI, Hulk looks like it is 2D cell shading converting onto a 3D model. Almost like a Flash animation with how the shadows fall statically and the image stretches more than animates. Strange.

Another Marvel franchise, basically, but aren't we saturated already? Or over-saturated? I think so.


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Sunday, 8 December 2013

A daysaster of independent proportions

Wasn't ID4 a great movie? Shouldn't everyone try to make their own version of it, rather than let it sit as a classic? And wouldn't it be even better if the budget was like 0.1% of the original? Yep, that would be a terrible movie all right...

It's Independence Day and aliens attack! And the President is in trouble! And his kid are in trouble! And this is every cliched disaster movie tucked into one go, and isn't presented with any self-awareness of how silly it is! And wouldn't it be great if the answer to defeating them relied on bullshit made up with science words?

Take ID4, sprinkle in War of the Worlds, and (if anyone remembers it) inject just a little of The Arrival, and bam, you've got yourself a mess. Such as this is. It tried in 90 minutes to set up and then deal with an alien invasion, with CGI drilling machines, and keep it scaled down to only a handful of people. No, it doesn't work. I don't know why they even imagined it might. Still, if you want to aim high, go for it. Just don't expect everyone to love your work like you do.

At least there's the cast, whom I'm sure will be promoting this on their CV "played some part in a dubious ID4 knockoff". Garwin Sanford is someone I recognised. ...so there's him.

Yeah, not the greatest movie ever. Still, I'm sure Asylum are looking at this enviously...


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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Escarp Flan

Oddly, this seems to be a movie that happened but no-one noticed. You'd think a Stallone / Schwarzenegger buddy pic would be a bigger draw.

Ray Breslin breaks out of prison as a job, to check security, and, for rather stupid reasons, is stuck in an ultimate 'escape proof' prison. Then, he teams up with Rottmayer and... guess what? The movie has 'escape' in the title, and the guy escapes prisons for a job... yeah, that's an ending no-one would ever guess.

Can you say 'battle of the incomprehensible accents'? If you can, then you are doing better than them. It's more than just the main leads, everyone seems to have problems enunciating. The acting is very straight forward, and so is the plot. There are no huge twists that completely shock you (I will give them the location of the prison, but I can believe that people saw that one coming).

The set is rather impressive, with the cells being mostly glass, and I can see the army of washers coming in every day to get rid of all the smears and fingerprints and such. And the final action sequence is... really rather pointless.

While I'm surprised that this wasn't promoted more, I'm not that surprised that people aren't gushing. The only interesting point in this movie is the team up, but beyond that, it's pure generic.


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Friday, 6 December 2013

Death rights?

I didn't think I had anything to post about... then I opened the local rag...

Workers eating at 'sacred' offend Maori, says MP

Because they were eating near human remains. Um... so no eating near cemetaries either? Tell that to families that want to enjoy time with a loved one whose passed. Although in this case there is the extra factor of the site bein wahi tapu, which encompasses a lot of area. But all burial grounds are... so are caretakers supposed to eat off site then? And those archeologists, they all have to down tools and leave whenever they take a smoko?

I am being deliberately flippant here, because I have no respect... and yes, I expect people to eat inside churchs too.

Pool blessed after aqua-jogger dies

The article is more about Motuiliu Groom, and after some incidents near pools myself, I know I'm not going to be the first to snark on that aspect... but then there's the one line about the pool opening after it is been blessed... because it needed to be blessed? Do road accident areas need to be blessed before they can be used? People die. I'm going to die! If we get squemish over every death, we're never going to get anywhere!

Tell you what, when I die, you have full permission to heave my body out of the way and use whatever it was I was at at the time. My non-spirit won't come back and haunt you.


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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Drivin' a Truck

I watch Geop LPs, he's pretty amusing, and so I ended up watching his 'tubed version of his Live Stream of... Euro Truck Simulator.

It's a game... where you drive a truck... in compressed real time. But yeah... you are driving a truck... along roads... taking turns... and delivering cargo... and that's about it.

Er... why? It's a nice looking game, lots of controls... but all it is is driving a truck. Not shooting at things. Not solving puzzles. In many ways, it's just grinding for money by driving along a road, so you can afford a better truck, to grind along more roads... Okay, does this qualify as a "game" according to certain peoples?

...and yet, I kinda want to play it...


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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

See of Monstars

Hey, this is that sequel to that other film... that nobody remembers... yeah, that one...

Percy is living it up at some camp with others like him, when a big monster invades and shows that the barrier tree is dying because of some guy (who I'm guessing was the bad guy in the previous movie?) came back and is not at all dead. So he and his friends set out to get the Golden Fleece from the Bermuda Triangle (aka the Sea of Monsters), and have hilarious adventures.

And have a big end battle that is amazingly disappointing. Seriously, anyone could have done it. There's a macguffin which wins the fight, regardless of who was using it. There was absolutely no challenge there at all. And the Fleece is another macguffin that drains any sense of tension out of all the scenes.

But, hey, this is about the characters, so aside from the whiny teenagers (who are being played by people near thirty!), we get the introduction of a cyclops character... and I spent most of the time wondering how annoyed the actor was at having to wear something to help them edit out his eyes, and how annoyed the computer guys were at having to replace with a single eye in so many shots... as you can tell, I was very drawn in.

No doubt there will be more movies, but this is proving effective at making me want to read the books. Because I find it hard to believe they'll be as pedestrian as this movie is.


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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Living on One Dollar

I know I couldn't do it. And this is a film that touches on over a billion people Living on One Dollar per day.

Four young men move to Pena Blanca and try to live on one dollar a day each, as the rest of the community does. Only, they are only doing this for eight weeks, while the rest of them are doing this for their entire lives. They struggle to get by, to meet their food needs (barely), their medical needs (they can't), grow radishes (after taking out a loan) and make this movie which presents the stories of many of the peoples in the community.

I'm not sure they are really living the full experience, given after eight weeks they get to go back to their lives in the big city, but they do what they can. (And you can go to their site and see episodes and learn more.) One thing they show is that micro-lending is helping a lot. And, hey, I'm already doing that part of it! Go me!

I'm going on about the eight weeks bit because it is only eight weeks (he says, after saying he couldn't do it). How long do you need to demonstrate this? How much of this is voluntourism? It's important to raise these issues, but what is useful to do this?

Anyway, people are living on one dollar a day. Help them to help themselves.


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Monday, 2 December 2013

Avatar comic... in motion!

On the one hand, I'm not sure how incredibly legal this is. This is the whole comic, after all, presented for people to see / read for free. On the other hand, it does appear to be easily available on the internets, so maybe it is free? On the third hand, the internets is not always known for having only legally available material... available. So it's hard to know where to put this...

On the fourth hand, here's the two Avatar comics, available in video form to enjoy!

The first is The Promise, Part 2, Part 3. In which Aang makes a promise. This is one of those situations where people resort to violence when they should resort to talking.

The second is The Search, Part 2, Part 3. In which Zuko and Aang go on a search. (You can tell they laboured a lot over coming up with titles.) This is one of those cases that seem common on soap operas.

There's another comic coming at some point, The Rift. I'm guessing there's a rift of some sort?

Anyways, enjoy!


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Sunday, 1 December 2013

That Was The End

So... that was a movie I watched. Apparently a comedy, but I can't say I ever laughed once during it. Smiled a few times, but never a sound did I admit.

I suppose it might help if I had the slightest interest in who they were. Seth Rogan, James Franco and Jay Baruchel have never been big names to me, so when they are at a party together with their friends, I'm like 'meh'. And then the apocalypse happens, and they and a few others have to survive, whom I also don't know / care about... it's hard to care about what struggles they have to go through. And it doesn't help that this feels extremely self-serving. "Hey, we're actors, living our actor lives, and when bad things happen, we aren't going to portray people who deserve to be watched, we're gonna be ourselves, because we think that is the most interesting group of people everyone else wants to see. Who doesn't want to see us? We're us, and we're great!" Um... no?

So beyond that... very nice effects. Some nice demons there, the wires weren't noticeable, and certainly this showed that many actors were willing to go far to poke fun at themselves.

I know there are people out there who enjoyed this... but not me. But then, not all comedy is for everyone. At least I could recognise the humour in this. I remember watching ten to fifteen minutes of Napoleon Dynamite, and then realised I wasn't even spotting the jokes! (And that's all I've ever watched of it.) Your tolerance may vary.


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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Alternative 3

There's a secret behind the brain drain of Britain in 1977. People are going missing, but where to? In this special Science Report, they take a look into this and uncover some secrets of the space race between America and the Soviet Union. And just where is humanity heading?

I do like the date of this, the date it was supposed to be broadcast if it wasn't delayed, April 1st, 1977. Says it all really. But I do have to wonder, although it is presented entirely seriously, did anyone fall for this?

According to the Wikipaedia entry, yes. People demanded more information, although it clearly had a cast list, was clearly rather unbelievable subject matter (okay, I am looking at this with 2013 eyes), and it was dated APRIL 1ST, 1977!!! Still, it's a conspiracy unveiling, and there are always people willing to believe in those...

I can see why this is listed as an influence for Ghostwatch.


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Friday, 29 November 2013


It's a fun wee movie, and the similarities with Ghostbusters are easy to make, but this is a separate movie in its own right.

A meteor crashes down, bringing with it a start of alien life. Two comedic nerdy scientists have a look and blow their minds at the implications. However, the government steps in an takes over, and although they seem to have things in hand, events quickly escalate and get out of control. And then they make them worse. Fortunately, the comedy scientists come to the rescue with improbable science, and, after shooting out a bird in a mall, take on the creature with shampoo. Everyone wins!

David Duchovny and Orlando Jones are great leading this very funny movie. Julianne Moore and Sean William Scott are decent enough. And, hey, something I recognise Ted Levine in that isn't Monk!

The creatures are decent enough too, although they have that slightly plasticky look to many of them that CGI gives. The eyelines with the real actors aren't too off, so that's good. And it's clear that there were some practical effects, which is good to see.

Basically, a thumbs up funny movie that everyone should see!


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Thursday, 28 November 2013

DW: Harvest of Time

Okay, this should be my last DW post for a while. And this one is about Harvest of Time by Alistair Reynolds.

Near the end of time, there's an alien menace that's reaching back through time to present day Earth and invading them. It's up to the Doctor and Jo to save the day, and also work out how the Master is involved. And, of course, there's a visit to the future, which ties into events... and, okay, I'll admit, does tie in rather nicely.

Which is one of the better things I can say about this book, because the most otherwise I have to say about this book is that it is boring. Dull. And very slow paced. It took me nearly 200 pages to actually want to continue reading it, and by then the thing is nearly over! I was often putting the book down in the middle of my bus trip because it completely failed to engage me. The Doctor, Jo and the Master are very basically written, and as for the enemy... for a long time, I kept reading their name as Slid, and it was a while before I realised it was Sild. And I still kept reading it as Slid! Ooh, beware the horrifying Slid! Not likely. There comes a point when randomly putting letters together to form a name comes up with something you should reconsider.

Despite this supposedly adding a lot to the Master's story, with several winks to later events, the whole book can easily be skipped without missing out on anything. Is this guy a well known author? Can't say I want to read any of his other stuff...


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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Reign of Winter

[First, we spend some time levelling up our characters to level 4. It feels like whenever I level, I recheck my calculations for what my attack should be, what my rounds of rage are, etc., and I keep finding that I previously calculated it wrong! Still, hopefully right this time (probably not). And then, after that, we do what all parties do]

Shopping time! We spend time looking over all the magical tat we picked up, and selling off random items. For some reason it is decided that I, Nanoc, should have a Ring of Regeneration. Very nice, although I'm not sure I need it. We shall see once we get into serious combat.

There is a chance to pick up some magical armour... but only I can use it, and it would lower my protection [lower AC, but with a reduced armour check penalty], so I decide against it. We do turn the cold iron swords we found into other cold iron weapons, so I now have a nice new cold iron great axe, and even fashioned some sling bullets for them to use.

That took time, and Nadya used that to pack up and sell off her house. With the witch coming in because we ever so slightly killed everyone, it is best for her and her family to leave town (with Patch the house elf coming with). She volunteers to be our guide to the main capital, although we decide to make a slight detour to check out a local standing stone.

We have barely set off before once again we are beset by crows, sent by the white woman. They amass and attack... and although I deal with them, two of our party are blinded. [I said 'let's get something to help against blindness', and they are all like 'no, we'll use goggles'. Well guess what, THE GOGGLES THEY DID NOTHING!]

One day down, many still to go...


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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Fish Doctor

After the big episode yesterday was The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot (#FishDr). (This does contain spoilers for the Day of the Doctor, so definitely only watch this after that.)

...you know what... this was far more fun, and a better celebration, than the actual episode proper was! This was amazingly well crafted by Peter Davison, with a lot of references to stories and characters. And it shows that people are willing to make fun of themselves, they got Moffat and RTD in this... and, hell, Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Ian Mckellan!!!

Sure, fine, this is comedy by mocking... but it's mocking from people who know, and it's mocking with love and inclusion. This is the kind of celebration we want to see!


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Monday, 25 November 2013

DW: The Day of the Doctor

I don't know if I should put spoiler space in, because most people would have had a chance to see it by now... but I will anyway. (Reminder, if you see a lot of blank space on the main page, like below, then I have hidden text you need to go to the full post to see.)

Overall... uh, rather odd, and makes a complete mess of continuity. And... actually, I rather prefer the Five(ish) Doctors Reboot... but I'll talk about that later.

So we have a rather prosaic view of a battle on Gallifrey. Yes, we know the Daleks = Nazis, but did we really need the World War II, attack on the city, imagery? If you remove the 'pew pew' laser sounds, that sequence could easily fit into generic action war story of any time. Where was the Never Child and all that stuff? Instead, just 'zap zap'. And then we get the War Doctor... who's done terrible things? We are told? He doesn't seem that broken up about it, except when the script calls for him to remember that he'll be killing a lot of people. And 'Bad Wolf' girl? Really?

Then Tennant and Smith, and ho-ho-ho Queen Bess. And Zygons. Because the Zygons are threatening. Really. Honest. Not at all useless, even when there was over an hour dedicated to them. I suppose we should be glad there wasn't a Skarasen and it's milk. But that whole Zygon plot was just stupid. And pointless. And at the end, just dealt with off-screen, that's how exciting and important it was.

So there was plenty of time to retcon the entire Time War... I guess. So he did blow up the planet until he changed time so he didn't, and all his selves were involved... how did he pull that off? "Hey, past selves, just pop over here to save Gallifrey in your future, but try not to know about it when you become John Hurt." What? And I guess this counts as the first on-screen presence of Peter Capaldi. I have no idea if they'll explicitly address that 9th, 10th and 11th are now 10th, 11th, 12th... I can see it not being addressed, but I supposed Moffat will give some off hand comment about it. I don't mind that Hurt had to regenerate as part of the price he had to pay, but did they really need the comment about the ears?

So some decent performances, but you might be able to guess that I'm not that impressed about it. Some nice moments... but they were just moments. Overall... it feels like another Moffat near miss-fire. Close,but not quite...

Next time: You know what... I hope the regeneration happens earlier than in the last second, but later than the opening act (as per the movie). Give us a nice mix of Smith and Capaldi... but it probably won't happen like that.

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Sunday, 24 November 2013

An Adventure in Time and Space

With the 'celebrations' going on, this is a pseudo-documentary, a 'dramatisation' of the time of William Hartnell on Doctor Who. David Bradley rather brilliantly portrays Hartnell, and many scenes from episodes are recreated (at this point, I'd be willing to accept replacing the missing episodes with recreations).

However... most of this was just boring. I already know the stories, and they are played out rather straightforwardly. We need to explain why Valerie Lambert is in charge, why they needed to remount the first episode, how the Daleks saved the series, how William Hartnell was no longer able to play the role... to be honest, it wasn't until we got near the end, and had David Bradley show some real emotion, that the story became watchable. (And just how many leaving scenes mimicking the end of The Green Death do we need?)

Still, this is preferable to The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who, which was just another potted history of the past 50 years. And then there was the '10 greatest monsters and villains', which was just an excuse to show old episodes again with new five minute introductions.

In some ways, despite some of the more dubious elements, the BBC Doctor Who Night was more celebratory...


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Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Last Day

Hey, another minisode, the last one was brilliant, this one...

...isn't. What the hell? Did we really need this? It's the big Time War and... a fleet of Daleks invade a Gallifrey outpost. And I can't recall the details of the symbols, but if that is an Arcalian place, why are they wearing Prydonian symbols? (Okay, because Moffat nicked terms and images people might know, not because he was trying to get the details right.)

In many ways, this feels like Moffat is about to fire another squib of a round. He has interesting set-ups, but his payoffs have been rather lackluster and contradictory (with lots of spectacle around to stop you noticing).

Which makes me wonder... how would various big name DW script writers do the Time War?

By RTD - big battle off screen, concentrate on some minor people and completely miss the big picture.
By Moffat - big time battle - as played out in war world ii style (big armies clashing), missing interesting time possibilities, and bringing in unnecessary continuity, before ending on a damn squib.
By Holmes - big battle on a screen, while people in long robes talk to each other and people run around.
By Dicks - big battle, focussing on small character moments, all big events talked about happening elsewhere.
By Barnes - big battle on screen, no actual interesting story.
By Saward - huge collection of plot lines, none of which anyone can follow.
By Adams - brilliant dialogue and great moments... but rather blah overall plot and meanders a lot.
By Nation - lots of travelling around the place until a final rushed finish.


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Friday, 22 November 2013

Round an Irish Fridge

Tony Hawks has been on a fair few comedy panel shows, and oft mention is made of his trip around Ireland. I haven't read the book, but I've now seen the 'film'.

Tony is stuck in a rut with his comedy career, and has made mention of the one time he saw someone trying to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge. So, after one drunken night with a friend, on a bet he actually goes around Ireland with a small fridge. And this is the story of that trip. Only not as interesting as it sounds. Despite being real life, there manages to be a story of romance, betrayal, non-commitment, and of meeting nice people who are willing to put up with a man with a fridge.

But, despite being by a comedian, there isn't a lot of laughs. I started watching this a while ago, then put it on hold because it wasn't gripping me. And it was largely because I needed a blog post that I finally got around to finish watching it. And my first impression hasn't changed much. The semblance of a story does provide some running narrative to drag the movie along, but it still feels like tired old beats playing out. Such is life.

This is based on real events (more so than some movies one could mention), and yet, it's a dreary film that doesn't encourage investment.


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Thursday, 21 November 2013


Hey, didn't I just do a volcano based movie? Well, if the movie industry can produce two movies with the same premise at the same time, I can do two reviews. But this one doesn't have Pierce Brosnan.

There is a strange event in Los Angeles, and scientists are on it. People are disbelieved, but people die and then things explode. And then, rather quickly, the movie is off and running, presenting brave acts of humanity against the flow of nature. But can one man come up with the ideas needed to save the city? Of course he can! Interestingly (and I do wonder if it is because it is Anne Heche), he doesn't get to kiss the girl.

Yes, Tommy Lee Jones is the main guy here, and he is his usual gruff but loveable self. With one tone of voice, gravely and loud, the entire time. I was remembering his Two Face performance in some scenes! Anne Heche is cute in her scenes, and good performances from Don Cheadle, John Carroll Lynch, and Gaby Hoffman wasn't annoying... and although she's gone on to have a rather full career, I can't say I've seen her in anything else.

It's a fun movie that does get to the explosions quicker than some, and the character pieces aren't too irritating, so overall, thumbs up, very watchable, but this is the second place volcano movie.


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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Dante's Peaked

Okay, this movie has Pierce Brosnan in it, so I'm already biased towards it. I'd like to think I'd enjoy this movie (as I do) anyway.

Let's face it, this is a stereo typical disaster movie. Slow build with the main scientist not believed, and set up of various characters with some danger happening, but nothing really exciting. Then half-way, the events kick off, various characters (typically family members) getting into danger, and the main characters only saved because of something heroic the main character does. Oh, and Roughy will live.

Actually, this is slightly different in that the event isn't stopped, but merely survived. The volcano erupts, and it isn't reversed, it isn't stopped, it isn't even diverted away. The town is a disaster zone, people are evacuated, the secondary character that didn't believe the main character is punished (complete with Wilhelm scream), and the main characters still need rescuing after it is all over. That's different, at least.

Pierce Brosnan is, of course, great in this. Although he does seem to have better screen chemistry with the kids than with Linda Hamilton. Elizabeth Hoffman gets a nice turn as something close to a villain (if only in that she opposes the main character's, not in that she's trying to ruin them). And Roger Donaldson does a good job directly, even if the events portrayed should have killed the characters a lot quicker.

So yes, as a disaster movie, it isn't stretched to three hours, moves at a nice pace, and doesn't go for the 'hero saves everyone' ending more recent disaster films do, meaning this is something better than most fare.


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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Bonus Video: A Giraffe Eating

Video I'm sure no-one else has ever captured! Because there was no need to! But I did! Behold, an eating giraffe!


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With their powers combined

It was a dreary day at the zoo, not many people around, and the animals weren't that interested in showing up either. Although I did manage to take advantage of this to finally shoot at the Superheroes exhibit, of creepy and crawly creatures.


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Monday, 18 November 2013

Bonus Video: Sun Bears

Managed to get a good video of them walking around. Not so much sun, but plenty of bear.

(Actually, the sound you hear is the video they have playing.)

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Australia, the most dangerous exhibit of them all

The Wellington Zoo recently opened up an Australian based exhibit, where you can see the emus and the kangaroos and such, rather up close. How close up?

How about I wasn't sure if the exhibit was actually open? Because of one small point they don't advertise too readily...

No fences! Now how long before a kiddie gets bitten because they were teasing an animal?


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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Desert the Bus!

Yes, it's that time again! What is Desert Bus for Hope you ask? Well, it's... actually, I'll let Graham explain:

And it kicks off... now! As of when this post goes live, it should start exactly then (more or less, technical issues withstanding). So pop over, check it out, and donate FOR THE CHILDREN!


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Saturday, 16 November 2013

Night of the Doctor

So this is a thing we are talking about now:

Right, so the Eighth Doctor was the one who decided to turn his back on the name. And yet... we've never seen John Hurt in any of the flashbacks we've had for Eleventh. Because he isn't the Doctor (he's the 'War Doctor' - I'm gonna say, that's a stupid name). Certainly if he isn't going to let Clara know about him, he's not going to tell anyone else. Although the Doctor has never been that reticent about his role in the Time War. Remember the big speech from Last of the Time Lords?

And, hey, the Sisterhood of Karn. Of course I know who they were. Just a shame they didn't get Gilly Brown back to play Ohica (as opposed to the character Ohila... did Moffat mean them to be the same and someone got the name wrong?).

But the big thing is that: Paul McGann is back! Another precious few minutes of him being the Doctor on screen! And name-checking various Big Finish companions no less! Holy continuity mess Batman! I presume they organised that with BF before doing that (most likely because someone had to get the names for him to say). However, I'm sure there are plenty of fans going 'who are that lot then?' (if they aren't saying 'who's that in the coat?').

And I'm sure this is all part of the ever changing Moffat grand plan, as RTD never cared about what happened in the Time War, but it looks like we're going to find out now...

Well, we could also talk about The Science of Doctor Who, but let's not.


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Friday, 15 November 2013

Endering the Gaming

And now, the most awaited book-to-movie translation this month!

So this kid goes into space, flies around a room, is given a fleet to play with, hooray!

Really. The most problematic aspect of this movie is that it compresses the book down to under two hours of screen time. If you work out all the essential beats you need, then just have one scene per beat, you'll have this movie. It feels like the entire thing takes place in a week, not over several years! (Let alone because they have the main actor with just one age.) I've seen discussion that says this should be broken into movie 1 - battle school and movie 2 - command school, and that would help, because it is rushing everywhere!

And because of the compactness, there is another aspect that becomes painfully obvious. The big schtick is that Ender comes up with ideas that no-one else does, and is trained to use that... but with everything happening so quickly, why can't others be also trained? Aside from a few scenes with Graff and Anderson, we don't get a proper sense of any real tension. And nor do we get the sense of Ender being the last desperate gamble. Ender does things no-one else does... but comes up with idea in only a few minutes. Really? No-one else has ever come up with those ideas over all the time you've had. They are presented as near obvious (because we don't see any effort in building up to them), so the idea no-one else can do this is ridiculous.

Asa Butterfield is fine as Ender, it's not his fault the plot is so full steam ahead. Harrison Ford is in full 'gruff old man' mode. And Ben Kingsley as a Maori... uh...

Big CGI can't disguise the plot speed, but I gather it works for those that don't know the book.


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Thursday, 14 November 2013

They are The Crudes

Once more Dreamworks is kicking over DisneyToons (yes, not Pixar, I know, but most people would think Pixar, so suck it). It's like they did Ice Age 2... but with humans!

Them Croods are a bunch of cavemen, but one of them yearns for something more! And after the end of the world comes along, she drags the rest of her family along as they have to team up with Guy in order to survive the destruction. But can Eep get her father to agree with Guy on anything? Will Guy manage to get by when he Meet the Croods?

So ready for cave men version of modern day developments? I hope so, because we get them! And a lot of cute animals that are just surreal versions of mixing various animals together and not at all anything like actual prehistoric creatures. [Hey, at least they don't have dinosaurs... probably saving that for the sequel... and yeah, there's a sequel already listed on IMDB.]

Have to say that Nic Cage is great in this. Yes, I was getting him more than his character, but he did the character of over-cautious dad so well! And another Ryan Reynolds animated movie (which came before Turbo). But the main lead is, of course, Emma Stone... who could be any random female lead to be honest.

Yeah, sure, there are some predictable moments, but this is an enjoyable movie and worth a watch.


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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Reign of Winter

[Late night last night so late post.]

Two exits, but we only know how to use one, so after our second night in the tower, we head up to the top of the tower... and instantly get attacked by a lady cleric and her birds. And given the one-at-a-time teleporter, this is a long slow fight as we slowly get into the battle. And then, rather quickly, I get blinded (again!). [It's rather annoying to be inflicted with conditions we have no way of dealing with. The fights would have gone very differently if I didn't have a 50% miss chance.]

We deal with the swarm of birds first, then focus on the cleric and whittle her down into unconsciousness. We try appealing to her better nature, but that fails, so threats it is! She has a key we can use to get to the last level of the tower and face the end of level boss chap, and while looking around she runs away. Go us!

Into the last level, we meet Radasek and get his goat. As in an actual goat. He also spawns some ice elementals, and uses a wand to bring up ice spears. Again, a slow fight as we remain bunched up far too long, but our own cleric Hogan disarms him, and we whittle away the other creatures. Radasek runs away, and we are left with the controls for winter portals, including the portal back to where we came from. Sealing that, we talk about what to do next... when Radasek returns with the ice dragon from the courtyard!

Rather than bother with the dragon, those that can target Radasek, while some of us tackle the dragon. Eventually, we stab him with his own ice spears, and the dragon crumples. Huzzah! We have quite the treasure haul, although we also open up to Nadya about the fate of her daughter. Tricky.

Time will pass while we sort all this out [and level up!], but we have many more adventures ahead of us!


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Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Hate to say this Pixar, but you could learn a few things from this Dreamworks movie. And I have to wonder, is this a better Ryan Reynolds superhero movie than Green Lantern?

A snail like to go fast ('cos that's humour by inversion, right?), although I have to say the snails seem to go pretty damn fast for snails anyway. Okay, but this one particular snail likes to race, and gains superpowers in a way that I'm sure no kid will ever imitate at all, leading to no nitrous oxide related snail deaths, honest guv. But gain superpowers he does, and then goes on to race in the Indy 500, because that's a thing that happens, and not at all does any scientician ever want to examine him and find out 'what the f?'. And of course, there's the hero figure, who turns out to be a douche (although he could easily have not been. Competitive, yes, brutally realistic about a snail's chance in a race, certainly, but not at actual idiot that tries to kill anyone). And best of all, a brother learns to not fear any more...

Okay, so it's a speeding snail, but at least it's something different. And there's no guru figure, no 'you can do it, no wait you just hit the low point of the movie and need to build yourself back up, go on to win' play. Not the most original movie, let's face it (little guy competing out of his depth), but still a few different beats than certain other movies I could mention.

Dreamworks have always gone heavy on the voice actors and this is no different. Lots of big names here, not least Paul Giamatto and Samuel L Jackson.

Better than Planes could be considered 'damning with faint praise', at yet it is far superior watch when compared back to back.


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Monday, 11 November 2013


Oh, Pixar, how you have fallen? Can you be more generic than this movie?

The little guy wants to win, only no-one believes in him. But he tries anyway, and gets his foot in. Along the way, he makes friends, and the main bad guy is the one who is the arrogant winner. But with guts and determination, he makes his way. And there's a guru figure that has his own lesson to learn.

Really? Really? Like this doesn't describe millions of movies. When I saw "Original story" credit, I laughed! This isn't any where near original! It's more by the numbers than a dot-to-dot picture!

The production is about the same as the current set of movies from Pixar. Especially the Cars movies, in which this is the same universe (okay, that's not surprising). I'm sure they got the big name voice actors in on their previous record, and I'm sure all the actors will be like "it's a great story", but that's going to be obvious PR. This movie isn't anything to add to one's resume.

In the end, this has a 5.3 on IMDB. Says it all, really.


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Sunday, 10 November 2013


Yes, I was in the Shire!

Okay, so a ways from Rotorua, but well worth the trip. I (along with many others) wandered through the Shire, didn't run along shouting "I'm going on an adventure!", did pose with a Hobbit hole, and had a drink at the Green Dragon! (A very nice craft ginger beer.)

Between me and Dave, we took 130 photos (someone took a record 1200!). And, of course, I got some videos of
The Garden
Hobbit holes
Bag End
Sam and Rosie's
The Green Dragon

And, if you'll excuse me, I'll just pop back home...


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Saturday, 9 November 2013

I was in Rotorua now

I spent a week up in Rotorua... because I could! Yes, there is the smell, but they didn't mind. (Ba-dum-tish!) I stayed at the Fenton Court Motel, and that was fine. I was central to a number of locations. On one hand, I could have been closer to the town... on the other hand, Rotorua isn't that big, and it didn't take me long to walk around, and it got me some exercise. I did manage to catch up with a friend, saw some movies, and (video and photography links included):

Te Puia
A Maori area full of geysers and mud pools. Some interesting carvings and views. It wasn't exactly warm, so I wondered if you could get your own Maori cloak... probably not easily...

Life is life a hurricane, here on a Duck Tour
Yep, I was in a Duck, going around the town and nearby lakes, taking photos of all the things tourists take photos of. We went into a lake, out of a lake, into another lake, and saw some weeds. The driver is very upbeat, and, yes, I quacked.

3D Maze
Out of town, but worth a mild diversion. The owner claims to rearrange it... I doubt, but it's not like I'm going to check. I did manage to make it through by myself, but there is a fair bit of annoying backtracking.

Skyline and Mini Golf
I went up a Gondola, went down the luge (which is tremendous fun - I can see why people go multiple times!) and went up the chair lift. Next door was the Mini Golf which also had a V8 simulator... to be honest, they'd be better off becoming a bunny farm.

Museum and Spa
The museum was mildly informative, if you want to know about spa baths. I watched the Rotorua Stories, with a German soundtrack - I could still follow the images. And then I finished with a relaxing spa. We need one of those down here!

And there was one other big thing I did...


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Friday, 8 November 2013

Thor the Dark Thorld

Yes, I saw the big Marvel movie of the month. Yes, I saw it in 3D. Yes, there was no point to doing so.

Back in the past, there was a big battle against the unleashing of evil, but fortunately the One Ring... er, the Aether was put away, but now there's a plot device that will re-unleash it. Fortunately, the Romulans waited 25 years so... er, the Dark Elves were waiting for just this moment, and then there was a big battle, and another big battle, and probably more battles, and Kat Dennings saying 'Mewer Mewer' and flicking of switches and.... There are no surprising twists at all as everything can be foreseen.

This movie is, by the standards of the Marvel movies, rather average. Stuff happens, people do things, plots barely get moved, and I just can't find myself caring about it. And apparently Christopher Eccleston was there on screen, but under so much latex I had no idea.

No doubt this will make tons of money, but it's not that exciting.


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Thursday, 7 November 2013


Yes, I went to Antarctica, and spent A Year on Ice. More particularly, I went and spent money on seeing it in a Basement Cinema. And soon I should have my own copy, because I kickstartered it.

This is, as the title suggests, a year spent on the ice down in Antarctica. Anthony Powell has been working down there for a while, and took a camera along to show people just what it is like. During the summer time, there is a lot of people, bustling about, doing a lot of research. But then there's the winter, in which there's only a handful of people, very isolated, and there isn't much to do but weather it out...

One thing to come from this is a sense of scale. Antarctica is (unsurprisingly) huge, and you see the vastness of that contrasted with the small scope of the people. And it is unrelenting. You adapt and survive, you don't change it (aside from the impact of climate change). Penguins and seals survive, or not (this is exactly a movie for kids), and you need to maintain your equipment against the relentless ice and storms.

And while there's all the people during the summer, the winter time is completely different. There's a lot of stillness in this movie then, when the sun doesn't even come above the horizon. And people go more than a little stir crazy. (I wonder if those who do winter duty are those that will survive the madness most easily.)

After seeing this... yeah, I wouldn't mind spending some time down in Antarctica (although there are many reasons I shouldn't and wouldn't be there). But not a long time...

Although its screening is wrapping up, it's good to catch this if you can.


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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Russian Ark

I've been leading to this. One shot music videos are one thing. Just a few minutes. Easily enough. But how about a one shot movie? This one is an hour and a half! Okay, it's pseudo-documentary, and rather gimmicky, but this is a one shot movie.

There is a plot, but it is thin. A person (this is all shot as 'first person') wakes up to find himself lost in time and in a large building. As he walks, he meets a stranger who converses with him about the wonders they are seeing, as they move from room to room, encountering people of different times from Russian history, leading to a big ball. And then, at the end, it is revealed that... well, that would be telling, but the title is that for a reason.

This was shot at the State Heritage Museum in St Petersburg. Which only closes one day a year (on Christmas Day), so that's the one day they had to film all this. There were four takes, with the last attempt being the last possible attempt, due to time. As the tagline states: 2000 cast members, 3 orchestras, 33 rooms, 300 years, ALL IN ONE TAKE. Impressive!

The main actor, the stranger, is Sergey Dreyden, who carries himself with a wonderful presence. This would have been like a play, needing to memorise the entire ninety minute script (more or less, he ducks in and out). We get various people as themselves (mainly the Heritage staff), and there's a seven man team to carry the camera and all the equipment around (no doubt to also usher extras out of the way and to tell them to stop looking into the camera).

This is a film people should see just to take in the grandeur and the achievement. And if you know of other one shot films, please let me know.


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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

NZ One: The Pheonix Foundation - 40 Years

The Pheonix Foundation is another NZ band... that I haven't really heard of. (What can I say? I'm no music knowledge about guy.) But when you throw Taika Waititi in a video, I'll watch! Definitely need some patient extras here. Taika direct and stars in this, and while one might suspect you could smuggle in a cut during the bush, it is just a costume change (as the next one shows). This is 40 Years:


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Monday, 4 November 2013

NZ One: The Inkling - The Booyeouw Shamble

Okay, this one was not in my head, but I found my searching around for it. However, I instantly liked the song and the video, so in it goes. But since I don’t know anything about it, I’ll copy the information I found:

A drummer plays in four locations and keeps playing as he moves; and, at each, a woman is at a different stage of her life. The Booyeouw Shamble was shot in Wellington by director Sam Buys and DOP David Paul in one continuous 54 minute take. Drummer P-Hill had to follow a score taped to his snare; and each hit had to be in the correct sequence for the entire 54 minutes. In editing the footage was sped up or slowed in at least 1000 places to get the drum hits in time with the music. There were no rehearsals and there was time for only one take.

(Use this link if the embed doesn't work.)

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Sunday, 3 November 2013

NZ One: Elemeno P - Urban Getaway

This particular video is one that’s been in my mind for awhile, but I could never remember what it was. So after getting a monkey to whisper in my ear, I present to you Elemeno P, which is a rather clever band name. I can't say I'm that aware of their music, but the video is certainly noteworthy. One continual take, the camera spinning 360 several times, while the band and set changes behind the lens. And it was a rather tight fit (and you do see them moving rather awkwardly). Anyway, here is Urban Getaway:


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Saturday, 2 November 2013

NZ One: Goodshirt - Sophie

Goodshirt have done several one-take videos, and many of them unusual, and all of them via director Joe Lonie. Blowing Dirt, for example, featuring a car being smashed… in reverse. Imaging learning the song backwards. However, as amazing as that is, that's not the one I'm going for.

Sophie is, by the standards of the other videos, rather tame. The band are doing stuff in the background while the song plays. Although one hears tales of the trouble they had moving things about. But I like this song, and it won an award, so here you go:


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Friday, 1 November 2013

NZ One: Shihad - Home Again

If I say 'one take videos', you'll probably think of OK GO. Fair enough, most of theirs are. However, New Zealand music scene isn't unknown for this. And I'm not just talking about 'point a camera at the band as they play', I'm meaning they are actually doing something creative in the video. So here are five great examples that sit in my head I remember / found.

Shihad (or Pacifier if you are in America) had have quite a few hits, and this particular track was a huge hit over here. The music often comes to mind, even if I can’t immediately place it, and I need to look it up again.

This particular video looks like it is just ‘point camera as band mucks around’, but note that the video is playing in fast speed, and yet the lip sync is on target. Yeah, learn how to sing slowly guys. Here is Home Again:


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Thursday, 31 October 2013

I've Been Watching

Slowly working through my pile (oo-er) of Doctor Who videos. I've been watching second and third Doctor, so off to the Fourth with Nightmare of Eden (not The Nightmare, but the Nightmare.)

Yep, that was a story all right. It's been a long time since I saw it, but I had fond memories. Now more 'fondish' than actual. Must be one of those cheating memory things. The story goes on and does things... and there you are. Nothing really that exciting, but not sleepy dull either. Just pedestrian. I don't mind the Mandrels having flares (unlike the commentarians), but they look more cuddly than threatening (and aren't that threatening anyway). The Doctor is able to hack computers by typing 'kjhg', and special effects are more an exercise in 'what does this button on this new video console do?'

The commentary, and production notes, pretty much put director Alan Bromly front and center for the problems of this story, and since the director is supposed to be where the buck stops, that seems fair. I want to say there are other issues (budget didn't help), but all the peoples say it's him, and he was resigned so, yeah.

There is, of course, the usual talking heads... no wait, no there isn't. There is a bit from Bob Baker, there's a document where the special effects guys bitch about having to shoot on video (they say it looks more realistic on film, I say it looks like a model shot either way). And there are a trio of people talking about the show, who had nothing to do with it, to help pad things out. And an Ask Aspel where Lalla Ward tries to look excited about talking about Doctor Who.

Decidely middle tier story. And low middle tier DVD.


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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I've Been Reading

(The title goes well with watching, so...)

Okay, technically, I've still got twenty pages left, but I doubt there will be an explosive change, so feel fine reviewing this now. Running Through Corridors vol 1, by Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke. [Hurry up and do vol 2 you bastards!]

This is the two of them watching two episodes a day, every day, of Doctor Who, starting from An Unearthly Child, and being positive about what they watch! Well, mostly, the ambition is slightly more than the actuality, but in general, yes they are fairly upbeat about it.

But, more importantly, they are great writing about it. The two of them both have great style, certainly Rob never writes a bad word, and Toby has scripted a few things himself, and both their DW geek shines through.

In this first volume, they are tackling the 60s, so Hartnell and Troughton, watching episodes or, where they have to, listen to the audios while peering at the telesnaps. With recent finds, certain stories moan a little more about this that they can now, so I look forward to an appendix in upcoming volumes where they reassess discovered episodes [Hint hint!].

This isn't the first time Shearman has taken on a project like this (see his Ramblings from a Couch Potato in TSV), however joining forces with Hadoke gives this a separate energy [and they better bloody well get on with it!] and makes for an entertaining read.


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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Papering myself

With the introduction of search engines, what do people do? Look for themselves! With the introduction of the internet, what do people do? Expect to find all past papers online.

Well, for a large slew of historical New Zealand papers, they are online. Papers past was a large project whereby a student was employed at the National Library and scanned in all the papers. And, of course, I looked for myself. (Although considering we are talking historical papers, I'm not finding me.) I found four instances of 'Jamas Enright', which, to be honest, was four more than I was expecting. Especially as my dad was American and so whatever Enright family this is, it can't even be related to me.

The first is Waihemo Licensing District. This is a council meeting minutes, which papers ran at the time. A hotel was transferred to Daniel Enright, and James Sim has his license renewed.

The second is McGillicuddy Relief Fund. Monies collected for the fund. M Enright gave 10s, Timothy Enright 5s, and James Fitzgerald 10s.

The third is Irish News. Rev. T Enright attended a large and enthusiastic meeting at Ballyduff. James Hayden was at a magnificent demonstration at Ballymahon, with enthusiastic proceedings.

The fourth is from Press. This looks to be a Census list (electoral?) of some kind. John Enright is a merchant in Westport. James Reddy lives in Christchurch.

What this shows is that papers were bad at printing 'e's, and make scanners think they are 'a's.


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Monday, 28 October 2013

I've Been Watching

Yes, I'm still watching Doctor Who, and what have I been seeing? The Web of Fear of course!

This story... isn't as great as you might think. There is a lot of running around, and not much actually happening. This is a Base Under Siege, in which people in the base go out into the tunnels, run into trouble, retreat back to the base... and repeat... and repeat... and... A lot of this could be cut out without harming anything. And the ending really feels like they were setting up for a third instalment, which, clearly, never came to be. (The New Series, while it does tip its hat to this, doesn't really deal with it.)

What watching the episodes shows up is how important the recons are. I watched, for reasons, two different recons of episode 3, one was poor and left a lot to the imagination of what was going on, the other was quite detailed and gave a very good idea of what was happening. But they were only approximations, and not a patch on watching actual episodes. (This is probably why the DVD will be so long, so they can sort out something for episode 3 properly.)

The action in this story, while unnecessary, is decent. This is, of course, the introduction of the Colonel, who comes across as a lot more actiony than he will be in later stories. Not being stuck behind a phone suits him.

Still *looks around, clears throat and speaks clearly* we'll never find any more missing episodes....


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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Cloddy with more Meatballs

There was a movie that got a good reception, so clearly there must be a sequel. I'm not sure if its worse that it basically retreads Jurassic Park 2, or that the main bad guy acts like a PUA.

So, remember that bit in the first movie when... hang on, remember that first movie? Nope, me neither. But in this one, those characters all totally come back. I guess. And the place were they were is now a new place that everyone had to move away from so the bad guy could come in and grab that food machine for himself. No, I didn't spoil anything, because the bad guys explains this himself after about five minutes. Which means we get the rest of the movie waiting for the good guys to realise this, and for the main character (whose name I have no idea) to stop hero worshipping him. Which seems to be the point of the movie: don't have heroes, they'll only use you for their own plans and then throw you away (as I said: PUA).

One thing this film spent a lot of time on is the design. The conceit being food has become animals, the team had to come up with a lot of pun based food animals, just as shrimpanzees, tacosaurus, cheese spider... okay, so not so much puns as just food twists, but there's a lot of them. And they get a fair bit of screen time, because if you are going to make those things up, you are going to show them off as much as possible. Which makes the movie about one hour plot and thirty minutes scenic photography. And the plot is about getting to the scenic part and isn't that strong.

In all, rather meh, but I'm sure there are people who loved the first one and will line up for this.


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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Ghast Shark

I have just watched what could easily be described as the latest of the sharkploitation movies. The difference here is that the shark is killed in the opening few minutes.

But when the shark dies, it's in the middle of some mystical cave, and so comes back as a ghost. Because the bottom of the barrel hasn't been scraped enough. (Really? No Zombie Shark? How about Nazi Shark?) Aside from the ghostly nature of the creature, the rest of this movie is about as generic as you can get. Being a ghost, it can turn up in pools, buckets, and such, so spoooky! Actually, is it wrong that I laughed at every death in this (all were over the top)?

The real supernatural element in this movie is the weather. Raining one shot, may or may not be raining in another angle, it's quite bizarre.

Aside from most casting being based on the word 'perky', Richard Moll is in this! Not sure how that happened.

And it looks like there is a sequel, and it is set in Auckland??? But I'm thinking more this is someone else who came up with a ghost shark idea and whatever powers decided to tie it into the "franchise". Or is the sequel to some other Ghost Shark movie, because there can't be enough of those. But it's not out yet, so will have to wait and see.


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Friday, 25 October 2013

I've Been Watching

Yes, I've just finished watching that story that everyone has been eagerly waiting for... Day of the Daleks! I remember watching this when I was younger, school chums coming over for a sleep over, and we get some Doctor Who from the video store to watch... only they didn't have many options, but they always had Day of the Bloody Daleks, and I am so freaking sick of Day of those Freaking Stupid DALEKS!!!!

Oh, that story is just annoying. Episode three is capture, release, capture again... what's the point of it? It's complete padding! And what's up with the shoddy production, episodes 2 and 3 begin with recaps, and at the end of the recap, we get the intro sting to the end music with a fade out! They just didn't care! (Not to mention not bothering to bookend the story properly with revisiting that TARDIS scene... although, to be honest, the ending it has it perfectly fine.)

The blame, and I'm referring here to the blame thrown around by the people in the commentary track, is on director Paul Bernard. Not an 'actor's director', didn't get the Dalek voices right, didn't cut the action right, didn't give proper direction... they really slam him.

And go on, given this venting, imagine how pleased I am that on the second disk is a Special Edition (aka the Steve Broster edition). Why? Seriously, what's the point? Why this story? New scenes are added, effects are CGI'd up in an incredibly obvious and out of place way, and Nick Briggs is brought in to redub the Dalek voices. Why not just get him to provide a Dalek track for every story so they can only ever sound the same!!! At least, and as Steve points out himself, this is an entirely option extra and the original story is there for people who want that.

With that out of the way, I can now get around to watching a decent story...


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Thursday, 24 October 2013


This is "post-converted" in that the entire movie is almost entirely created in post. And I did see it in 3D, although aside from a few shots I wouldn't say it was particularly amazing 3D-wise... (on one hand, it was cheap, on the other I ate out, so spent a fair bit anyway).

This film should be called "Murphy's Law.. in Space!", as everything that can go wrong does. Sandra Bullock is a bad luck charm in that the space station she's on gets destroyed, so she and George Clooney have to sail through space (large chunks of this movie are in real time) to another space station and hope it has a way for them to survive, if not give them a respite before moving on to try somewhere else. Only... on the one hand, I don't want to give it away, on the other you can probably guess how everything gets screwed up.

Sandra Bullock carries this movie, in that she is pretty much in every shot. And there are are lot of long one camera shots (although given how CGI created this is, there could be a lot of smaller pieces put together for each shot). And she carries it well. MovieBob keeps going on about how a 40+ actress is headlining this successful space epic film, but get over it already! Besides, it's more a drama that happens to be in space rather than, say, a camper in the Rockies gets into trouble and has to get out (so am I saying this is 127 Hours in space?). This may be using the trappings of science fiction, but it's still a basic 'will the human spirit survive?' type story.

And, let's face it, it is a decent story. I enjoyed it... and now I'm wondering if we can take real space working footage, with a high spec camera, add a soundtrack, and make a proper popular movie out of that...


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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Reign of Winter

So we rested up in the bottom level of the tower, then set out to clear out the rest of the tower. This involved us teleporting in mass up to the next level... by which, we then teleported in mass, just one at a time. The first up, Hogan, encountered Muriel [again, names are vague approximations of what I remember], whom we last met on the way to the village we were just at. She is also a bard and was getting ready for a performance [although I'm not sure who for, considering how empty this place seems].

After some minor banter, Hogan sets out for the wrong door, Mage and myself for nearby food. In the kitchen, we find a small spriggan who was the cook and didn't appreciate our entrance. Hogan got attacked by Muriel, but we are still not ready to fight, until there is a clearer attack, then the battle is on! And, in the meantime, Felgard has moved on, opened another door, and brought another into the frey [Hogan and Felgard are very good at triggering multiple encounters without waiting for party backup]. While I take out Muriel and her two fey companions and start in on the other woman, Mage is the one who deals with the kitchen creature, and puts down that last woman.

Investigating, I examine the food in the kitchen, and find a cookie very tempting... although it tastes awful, and now I'm extremely hungry. Food, must eat food!

After being dragged away, we move on, and find the lady that we previous rescued. However, her lies do not last, and is revealed as a doppelganger! Although I grapple it, before I can subdue it, I am distracted away, leaving it to attack the rest of the party. And another final blow to Mage.

Obviously we can't just leave ice statues around, but attacking the next pair we see leads to them attacking us. Oops.

The last creature on this level we come across is a Mandragora. And again the party faces near death, and I am too incapacitated to deal with it. And the last blow again... goes to Mage.

Feeling drained, we hole up for another rest, with still two levels to go, and the imminent return of the rest of the guards still threatening...


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