Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Reign of Winter

After recuperating for a few days in town (and feeling more mighty for it!), we gather new supplies, and head once more into the forest of winter. We quickly strike through to the lodge we were before, and rest for the night. The next morning, we set out across the bridge, when we are beset by a strange fey creature... unfortunately the bridge is too slippery for me, but the others drive the creature back, expending their energies.

So the next morning [*sigh* still only level two...], we try again, the creature comes back, but this time we are able to end it. Rather than rest up again, we press on. Ahead of us are tracks, with traces of undead. With Hogan thus forewarned, he is able to detect more undead around us, and soon we are attacked by then... although one swing of my mighty (and new) club soon puts paid to them!

Onwards, we encounter a fallen hunter, who was hunting some kind of strange large weasel. He has set traps for the beast, which we will no doubt fall into. After that we see a strange clear patch of snow nearby. Investigating it, we are attacked by living trees! Fire and my mighty axe soon fell them, and then there is only the matter of the clear ground they made to put their young pinecones in... oh, but we are truly not mighty that day.

We camp in a nearby cave, and will see what the morrow brings.


Read more!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dragon Half

What's the best anime ever? That's right, Dragon Half! (Okay, there are better ones around, but I'm talking about this in this post.)

Dragon Half was a manga and then adapted into an anime... that only lasted two episodes. Boo! (You can find the episodes on the internet if you know where to look.) The basic premise is that Mink is half dragon (father human, mother dragon. He was supposed to kill her, but what do you do when you fall in love?). Then Mink and her two friends have adventures. Wacky, but there are many wacky moments in this. One of the more interesting features is that the art style flips between the more normal/serious style, and the chibi/cute style (and the ultra-chibi style).

It is just so much fun (and slightly ecchi), that it is a damn shame there were only two episodes. More, dammit, more! And, as far as I know, the manga never made it into english. Sigh.

For something really wacky, here's the end song, with a slightly out of sync translation:


Read more!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Secrit Cety

Have you been to London? I mean the city of London? I mean the mile square inner city of London? Which is one of the problems of this movie is that this is about the mile square centre bit of London, but doesn't ever quite show where or what that is. This is, in that way, a documentary for Londoners who already know about it.

The point of the City of London is that it is run by corporations, who now wield a whack of political power (in deed, they even have voting rights). Yep, that's pretty screwed up. No matter how nice it might be legally, treating corporations as people has only led to corporations abusing that position.

We get a bit of history of how the City of London grew into London, but that history largely comprises of showing maps from the 18th and 17th centuries and saying that London was more distinct from the surrounding burrows, and now it isn't. Not exactly a great historical discourse there. Then the movie jumps to modern day and says that it is largely a financial power, has all the banks, and runs all sorts of political dealings and tax shenanigans. Basically it has become a 'shadow' economy, and is more powerful than the real economy. (There's a bit of shock implied with showing news of the recession of 2008, but no actual explanation of how that impacted these banks. Good? Bad? I'm not clear at all what was implied.) And then it ends.

This movie clearly has a point it wants to make, that the City of London Corporation is bad, but does not explain itself well.


Read more!

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Hey, it's a Jason Statham movie! Yay, I feel like some mindless violence!

Joey was in Iraq, did some bad things, and now is a bum in London. After an escape landed him in luxury for a while, he tries to turn his life around, and be a good man again. But to be a good man, he does things and has to turn his eye away from people who do bad things. The only person who believes in him enough to try to help him is a nun...

Oh, okay, it's a serious drama movie then. There is some moments of Statham violence, but it's mainly about how Joey is trying to be a good man while being bad. What lengths does he have to do to in order to gain... salvation?

Jason can play serious... but the problem is his gravely voice makes it fricking hard to work out what he's saying at times, which rather undercut his performance. He looks earnest, but yeah... I'll just have to take the director's word for it that it works for him. Opposite him is Agata Buzek as Christina, the nun who is his guide. She has an interesting story, moreso than Joey in some ways.

If you are in the mood, this is decent enough, but there are better movies out there.


Read more!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Flashing the Paradox Point

The latest Warner Bros DC Animated Movie (which is its own genre now) is the one based on the Flashpoint Paradox, a fairly recent event in DC universe which seems to tie the pre-52 continuity to the 52 continuity and... no-one cares about that. It's a Justice League movie featuring the Flash!

After fighting his Rogues Gallery, the Flash wakes up to find that he's just Barry Allen, and the world has gone to crap. Wonder Woman (with the forces of the Amazons) is now fighting Aquaman (with the forces of Atlantis) and the land dwellers are trying to deal with both of them. And, because this is basically an Elseworlds tale, there is a lot of death and very casual violence. A lot of them. So much so that you would be surprised that this is just PG-13 rated. But hey, as long as no-one swears or bares a nipple, then it's fine for the kiddies.

This film is quite good, although I feel that some of the basic ideas (that it's in a parallel universe) is assumed by the audience before they watch, or they expect the audience to be confused for a while. The story, while dark, is decent, and this movie, in general, is better than a certain recent other live action DC film. Many of the usual actors return, and the production is clean (even if I have no idea who some of the superheroes are).

Decent movie, worth watching if you are into these animated movies (and know a few things about the DC universe).


Read more!

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Killing Joke

Have you read The Killing Joke?

Have you heard The Killing Joke?

Have you seen The Killing Joke?\

Now you've got no excuse not to have.


Read more!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Spacific Grim

This is new IP! So I have to support it! Regardless of it being worthy of being supported, it is new IP so SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPRTY!!!

Two guys are having a bro-tastic time and fighting on some monsters, and then time passes and dudes must get together more and go full bro on the monsters to win!!! I've read that using 'bro' helps define things as being without women, and here's a question: name all the main females in this movie... there's Mako... and the Russian pilot... and that's it! And they don't talk, so no Bechdel test here!

One plot point I was wondering about was: why two people needed? They do explain it, but it's basically to provide more story plot points when one person is in trouble.

Fine, it's decent enough, but a lot of visuals are gun metal grey giant robots fighting dark blue giant aliens at night... it could be easier to see what's going on. Mostly I can follow the scenes... but yeah, quite a few jabs from the monsters, I had no idea what part of the robot they were hitting. Nice to see, but mostly just sit back and take it all in, don't try to diagram it out.

Of course I need to mention Burn Gorman who was playing... German, I think? But I wasn't clear on Idris Elba's character's accent either.

Overall... it's, as I said, decent. But the dark picture didn't impress me much.

After this, I want to dive into my MST3K Gamera box...


Read more!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Ah, the story of Napster is the story of the start of the download culture. And this story is told in Downloaded.

Napster was filling a niche in the internet to allow sharing... and yep, they knew that people would be pirating music (whoops), but the technology advancement was major, even if that's not what court cases brought to the fore. We get the start up story of Napster, how it nearly got protected under DCMA, and then got slapped around by the RIAA and others. Some musicians like it, some hate it, but the point of it all is that downloading music is now a thing.

Napster led the way, but it was one of those things that someone was going to do it. And that's was this is really about, record labels still wanting people to buy products that wear out and need to be replaced... which no longer happens in the technology age. Oops. And in many ways, they are still struggling to get proper traction.

Interesting enough documentary, about an important piece of internet history.

And, because it's apt:


Read more!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Here we go again

Small tip about current events over here: A lot of earthquakes are centred near Wellington, off in the Cook Strait. First big one hit Friday morning at work... that was a dive for the desk moment. And an instant reach for the geonet website. But that seemed about it bar small aftershocks. And earthquakes aren't that uncommon around here. New Zealand lies on a fault line, so yeah... just ask Christchurch around earthquakes.

Then Sunday morning another strong one. I was lying in bed, and couldn't be bothered to get up. A few notable aftershocks, but nothing major.

Then Sunday evening... boom, there we go! Damage in the CBD and everything! Work shut down for water damage inspection (it's still closed to most of us).

The most annoying part, and others will tell you this, is not knowing if another big one is coming. And I kinda want it to, if it's going to happen. Bring on the big one, let's have it, then we can start moving on. These minorly big ones aren't quite the same. Fortunately, no-one has reported casualties yet (that I am aware of), and it's been quiet... but we've gone Friday to Sunday already, so that doesn't mean much. I keep thinking I've felt another quake, so check the page to see if I'm imaging it or not.

The fun life of an unstable tectonic plate...

At least there's a theme song:


Read more!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Not Having The Ball

I've been playing, off and on, the game The Ball. And the main reason for the 'off and on' is... I'm not enjoying it. [Ha! I made the joke in the title before you could!]

The set up is that in the modern days, you are excavating, and fall into an old world underground Aztec type temple. As you do. And there you get a weapony-thing that controls a large ball. And then you complete puzzles in first person using the ball, occasionally fighting enemies by ramming them with the ball.

But it isn't fun. The puzzles are largely straight forward. Find the place to put the ball, or find the switch (or find the switch with the ball). It's almost linear in how they are solved. Just hunt around and you'll solve it, no real reasoning required. And fighting the enemies is also largely straight-forward, and can be easily cheesed (at least, I seem to be cheesing them), just hold the ball in front of you, swing it around, and done. All in all... meh.

And the level design isn't impressive either. The areas look big, but most of the doors are closed, and... and this is the worse part... everything is dark red and brown. Dull and boring looking. And with all the contrasting done with only basically a small colour palette, it also manages to be too busy and confusing. Half the time I don't even see the enemies because it's a grey messy blob moving around on red, brown and grey. Meh.

I might pick away at it some more... but it's more because I brought the game and so want to play it to get my money from it, not because it's actually 'fun' in any way.


Read more!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dispicible Him Again

Remember those minions? Well, this is their second movie! (Oh, and some others are in it too.)

In the first movie, Gru got some girls, so where to go in this movie? Gru in love, of course! There isn't a huge lot of plot, just a set up, and then a final climax fight sort of thing, and the rest of the movie is about Gru having to be a single parent in a world trying to set him up. It's fun enough, but it is thin.

Steve Carell is good as usual, although Kirsten Wig was more channelling Kristen Schaal (who is also in this!). Steve Coogan is also a celebrity voice... and I have to say it took me a while, but I can totally see him in his character now. And I still have trouble associating Russell Brand with his voice.

Short review, but it's a short movie. Fun enough, and doesn't trade too heavily on repeating beats from the first (fortunately, although they reference the unicorn, Agnes never says 'It's so fluffy!'). If you liked the first (and it is enjoyable), then this will fit right in.


Read more!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Problem of the Problem of Evil

I've been getting schooled! ... by Dr Jack Crabtree about the problem of evil. Unsurprisingly, I have some problems with it. Now, fine, for this we have to assume a god. Moreover, they are assuming a Christian God, but a lot of it smacks of trying to justify their assumption that god has to be good because they can't accept an evil god. And, moreover, we have Crabtree's version of how he interprets the bible, so I can only talk about what he's presented. And I have questions, although of course I can't ask him and he can't answer.

One basic context he assumes is the analogy of god as the author and we as scripted beings. But we still have free will, and which allows us to rebel against god or not... but if everything is scripted, isn't our rebelling scripted? Crabtree doesn't quite address that point, so I'm not sure. To me, that sounds like cognitive dissonance. [I did hear, elsewhere, that if Adam and Eve hadn't eaten of the apple, committed that original sin, then the story couldn't have happened, so they were forced to commit that evil for god. No free will.]

But we are scripted beings, fine, and so for there to be a story god wants to tell, there needs to be evil and suffering (which are different things). As long as the story is morally good, then everything is fine. Which we can't know because we can't know the whole story. But we can look around and say 'given what we can see, what can we reasonably assume?'

[Crabtree makes a big point about how if you arrive at hating god for emotional reasons, then no philosophical arguement will work. Fine. Same holds for all those other beliefs you hold. I hope you haven't got emotional reasons for believing in god then, because then there's no point argueing that with you.]

One thing that comes from that is what of intercessory prayer? Well, that's just characters in the story talking with Story God, not god god. What of suffering? Well, are they suffering all the time? Don't they get a respite? And as long as they have a good relationship with god, then it doesn't matter anyway. And speaking of suffering, only if there is more suffering that needed for the story god wants to tell is there a problem. But we can't know that either. (Skirting arguement from ignorance there.) But if we assume there is no more suffering that necessary, then what we have in this world is the minimum necessary suffering, not one iota more (as that would make god evil). That also means that god cannot (as in it is impossible) tell this story with one iota less suffering. All those children have to be sold into slavery, those wasps need to get impregnated with parasite eggs and eaten from the inside out, that fish has to be covered in oil and suffocate, every single one of those has to happen, one less and it won't be the story god wants to tell.

But could god be evil and tell this story? Crabtree answers that by imaging a straw man evil god, that is capricious and in any given moment it's a 50/50 chance of evil happening. What? So no evil god wouldn't be able to set up a world in which there is suffering and evil and people thinking it is good? Really? Only one type of evil god is possible?

But my main question comes to: even if we take god to be good, and god to be the author: is this a story he is really wanting to tell? What if this is just a homework assignment for some writing 101 class, and this is just god being really bad at being an author? Perhaps god can tell a redemption story without the evil, but just not yet? Given god a few years, and maybe a decent editor. Good god, yes. Competent god...?

As you might be able to tell, I'm unconvinced. Crabtree might have answers for all this (I'm sure he'd be able to come up with something given time). But there is some question that relates to this that is more interesting (allow me to rephrase the Euthyphro dilemma): is this morally good because god wrote it? Or is god writing it because it is morally good?


Read more!

Friday, 19 July 2013


Lots of people are fascinated by the moon. Some, perhaps, a little too much. But, hey, they could be worse. We meet some of them in Lunarcy!

One chap wants to live on the moon, and considers it his home. (And why not? Certainly, as I said, worse things to want.) Another person wants to build a city under the ground up there. Another person is selling property on the moon (he sent a letter to the UN and because they never replied then he's in the clear!). And Alan Bean, an actual astronaut that walked on the moon, paints pictures inspired by his time there (and they look pretty good!).

The movie tries to somewhat take the approach of 'aren't these weird people?', but also tries for the 'aw, ain't these people sweet?', so the clash of tones creates a slight distortion. And yet... yeah, aside from the one guy who is in legally dubious ground with regard to selling property (no, a lack of reply from the UN does not validate your claims), the rest are no weird than many other people I've seen. And, indeed, as they aren't claiming alien contact and the like (except for that property guy...), they are more sane than most.

A decent wee documentary, even if it isn't quite clear where the director is going with it.


Read more!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bioshocked to the Infinite

I just watched a compilation "movie" of Bioshock Infinite. So I've now seen that, and LPs of some of the previous 'Shock' games. And yes there are common themes.

Exploring levels and finding story. Not that this is particularly evolving story, but more finding out what just happened. Usually in the case of 'something strange happened in this area, and while you run around doing filler tasks to get the key to the next area, we'll unfold that through typically tell and not show'. Disagree? Just how many audio logs do you find? How often does some unseen person tell you something over a radio/speaker? When they turn up, do you get to interact with them in gameplay, or is it some kind of cut scene? All the important stuff is happening around the player, not to the player. And what this leads to is:

Monologue pompous speeches. The audio logs/people are there spouting out huge chucks of exposition. Usually on grand ideas that the creators think are important. Admittedly, some times in games it is hard to show, not tell, because you can't be sure the player encounters the right bit. But this alternative of reams of dialogue is not better. But it is countered by:

Pointless fighting. When you enter a new area, what's likely to happen? Quietly slip through, letting people get on with their business? Or fighting because this is an action game? Well, this is an action game, so there must be fighting. But everyone fights you, regardless of motive. And they are all low level mooks who are just there to be mowed down in fighting scenes. As I indicate, it's pointless! Just filler to pad out the level! And provide the gameplay that gets in the way of the next story element! This is getting to the term ludonarrative dissonance. The pompous story telling doesn't match the mooks you kill.

Now, this may feel different when you are playing the game, but watching from the outside, this is what I'm getting.

And because I have an excuse, here's a great song:


Read more!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Reign of Winter

After resting because of the Great Boar Adventure, we set out the last gasp to the Lodge. Getting close, we keep to the woods, and Feldgar gets up for some reconnoitring. Inside, he sees a few empty room and a large inner space with five bandits.

After breaking and entering through the windows, we leap out... and put most of them to sleep. The last chap tries to get away, but accidentally slices himself to death on my axe as he goes. The room he was heading for contains more bandits, who are ill, but they still rise to meet us. We put them to sleep as well, except one that gets out the window... but not for long, for I am upon him.

Around this time, the others become aware of a spell caster upstairs. I take the external route (eventually [our dice rolls are not stunning this session]), and get in the top room to find two ice skeletons. I battle courageously with one [end up on 1 HP!], but there is no sign of the spell caster... until he announces himself downstairs, turning two of the sleeping bandits into zombies! Heading down I take out one, but the other clubs me unconscious. Fortunately Hogan eventually untangles himself from an encounter with a half-orc to aid us all, and I get more swipes in.

The necromancer tried to scare me off, but I am not afraid, for I am barbarian! [Here is an example of where really knowing the rules helps. For example, if I fail a will save, but then rage, I get another will save at +2... so no fear for me!] While he runs, I slice into him. He tries to surrender, but my companions are having none of it and we eventually [sigh dice rolls], put him down.

After looting, we talk to the half-orc Ten-Penny Tessa, who says the lady we are looking for is in a space below. Gathering all the stuff together, with the two of them, we head back to town...

[And level 2!]


Read more!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Great Sandy Mackerel!

On the plus side it's not Asylum. And it's not as TNA exploitive either. Amazing. Still... sharks that swim through sand... it's a concept I'm surprised they haven't done it.

It's a seaside spot that depends on tourist trade, which is slacking recently. Shark attacks threaten the people, but fortunately Quint... no, wait... different movie. In this one, Corin Nemec is playing a jerk that sets up a hugely popular beach festival (which gets barely enough people to fill the screen), but sharks attack by swimming through the sand. (They try to explain how the sharks can swim through the sand... nope.) And then there's the ending which, while stupid, won't surprise anyone.

You know, the island, White Sands, is all about 'oh no, we are going to die without an influx of money'... but you know what? They have Sharks that swim through Sand! Get that out there, and get the media and science people interested in that! That's huge!

Anyway, this is in many ways a rip off on Jaws. Although not in a good way. Corin Nemec is the only one who seems to realise this is silly and plays it that way, while everyone else is going straight. The sharks are, as expected, bad CGI and so is the rest of the effects. Just... no surprise at all at the low rating.

But hey... there's a sequel!


Read more!

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Lon Rangar

According to the internets, I am to be offended by this movie without even needing to see it because they cast Johnny "not really a Cherokee" Depp as Tonto. (Or rather, as "usual crazy Johnny Depp".) When I've heard that sort of racial casting before, you know what else was true? The rest of the movie was bad. Yes, I'm looking at you Last Airbender... and this one isn't straying far from that form.

When I think of the Lone Ranger, in particular the TV series (which I never saw), I think of an actor that took the part earnestly and genuinely cared about how the character was portrayed... and with this movie, it seems that the portrayal is one of slapstick and cheap jokes at the expense of the second lead. By which I mean that the main lead is Johnny's Tonto. Funny pratfall or girlish scream? Give it to the guy in the mask. When the Lone Ranger music kicked in, all I could think was 'this is a desecration of all that that show stood for'. And the rest of the story wasn't doing anything innovative either.

Aside from Johnny we have Armie Hammer as that guy in the mask (which changed from cloth to leather and back again as the scene demanded), and William Fichtner channelling Billy Drago as John Bly. Tom Wilkinson was in this and played a character names James Reid (the name of the Lone Ranger in this) in The Green Hornet, who is the Lone Ranger's nephew's son. (Yes, really.)

And my lasting memory of this movie... brown. Lots and lots of brown.


Read more!

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Look, I know Asylum movies are bad for me, but this one apparently got everyone's interest. People get attacked by a tornado... containing sharks!!! Because why not? (I wonder how people in New Orleans liked it?) I wonder if this is their response to Bait?

It's standard Asylum fare. Simple story, bad CGI... really bad CGI (and they were improving at one point). Lots of close up shots of people clearly against a green screen. Shots of stormy weather in wide angle, but clear sky in the close up... and vice versa. Not to mention random shots of flooding and such that are dropped in. And the ladies baring skin, just for you. But these aren't just any sharks, mind you, they can eat an entire person from the feet up in one go... unless you're one of the main cast members, then you just get some blood on your skin and the attention of the medic despite there being people with limbs removed nearby. And you won't believe the big end sequence... seriously, you just will not believe it.

While I am riding it, I did say simple story... and I mean that in a good way. It starts with a stupid premise, but it doesn't get overly complicated from that. In this case, a group of people (bar owner and friends) get their bar destroyed and then set out to get his estranged family safe. And then it's from one set up for shark attacks in an urban area to another.

This is a stupid movie, but by it's own low standards it works. But it ain't doing much for the truth about the endangered nature of sharks...


Read more!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Damn you Steam

Yes, Steam is doing it again. Lots of games, on lots of sales, so there goes lots of monies. Okay, so far I have gotted five games, but I haven't spent more than US$5 on each game. While there are some games I want, I am waiting for them to become extremely cheap. (And the big game I want, Tomb Raider Game of the Year Edition with all DLC, won't be around until Christmas likely.) So that will be a thing I pay attention to for a while...

...however, one thing they are doing is (and they have had this running on some level for a while) gamifying it all over the place. Buy games gets you cards, as does doing other things, such as crafting badges... I don't know if 'crafting badges' is different to getting achievements in games or something, but the point is to get cards... and with the cards, you craft the Summer Sale Badge thing... so you are crafting badges to get cards to craft badges... Okay, that isn't the only way to get cards, but it still seems rather circular.

(And one particular badge I was working towards was Pillar of the Community. I had all the requirements except linking my Steam account to a Facebook account... so yeah, that wasn't going to happen any time soon. And now they've added a bunch of extra stuff involving engaging with the community and doing things with cards... and I just can't be bothered. Since I'm not Facebooking, I can't get the badge anyway, so really, what's the point? Which is how I feel about the whole card system anyway.)

Still, I am also getting cards for voting, as long as I am level 5 or more... I didn't even know I had a level! It seems I'm level 6 so... good?

If the ultimate end of all this is vouchers or free games then fine. Otherwise... I'll just get what games I want to play cheap, and that'll do me.


Read more!

Friday, 12 July 2013


What do you do after creating a hit series about a robot boy? Create a parody with a robot cat! This is the second item from the Kickstarter I backed.

Osama Tezuka continues to show off how to do story telling, even when writing about a robot cat who is owned by a whiny kid (seriously, he just whines that Atom Cat shouldn't do anything robotic, but instantly complain if Atom Cat doesn't help - by doing something with his robot powers!). As he is a cat, he does take a fancy to a female feline (although it's not clear just how much of his robot body is fully working as a cat...), which are the more interesting stories than the ones involving the kid.

This is making me interesting is checking out Astro City... but that's a huge amount of comics to delve into... but one that would be worth it!

Next up, the first volume of Triton.


Read more!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

This is a Journey into Sound

This is one of those things where you just have to go... yeah... applause. The guy has a talent, clearly enjoys it, and has managed to make it his career/life. And now other people can appreciate it too:


Read more!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Yep, it is

I don't have anything to say, other than THIS.

Now, there are still a lot of videos out there that are UFOs and ghosts and stuff, and I have seen them, and here's a bunch of them, but... they look fake. Or rather, movies and such have gotten to the point where the real thing will look fake (this means they are "post-modern", right?). But most of them are completely fake set ups, did you really see it? Did you not? Was it a frame in which the video was altered? Or someone stood there, then quickly moved out of the way? Or is the video so shaky you can't tell what is on screen? Or is the model so detailed, it looks like a CGI creation? All these are happening.

What is missing from that graph is the number of sightings. It would be going up when cameras first start up, but then it would go down, as cameras get better and more people understand how they work (anyone who still thinks ghost orbs are a thing should be slapped). Unfortunately, it's not zero, because people will always think they see something, and not everything can be explained when you are looking at them and aren't browsing for extensive details as to what else is going on (eg flight plans) or what can create weird sounds, or events in the area or whatever. And, of course, people fake them for whatever reason.

But there does get to a point where absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Yes, there could be a sasquatch hidden in that one patch of grass that hasn't been examined yet, there might be a ghost in that one old building, perhaps aliens are popping by that meadow... but let's go with the odds. Cameras are ready to capture any event, but they haven't. Either people are phenomenally missing out on recording things... or there is nothing to record. I know which side I'm landing on.


Read more!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Facing Extinction

As somewhat of a follow up to his Jungle Quest 18 years ago, Terry Pratchett returns to Borneo to seek the Orang-Utan he met then, but both orang-utans and he himself is Facing Extinction. This is an hour long documentary that is as much about Terry Pratchett and his Alzheimer's as it is about the orang-utans.

What we see is a country where money has driven the rain forest to a small area, and taken over by creating palm oil plants. A village that was out of the way is now showing itself off as a tourist destination. And you can buy endangered species at the local market. Amidst this, the orang-utans are dying out, although laws are in places to protect their remaining rain forest and to ensure no orang-utans are in cages by 2015 (instead they'll be in the forest where they haven't learnt to defend themselves). And through all this Sir Terry can barely walk properly, although he is enthusiastic about pushing on. Previously he met the alpha male Kusasi and wanted to find him again...

This is a rather downbeat documentary, with the lack of progress on display. While trying to smile, it's all too easy to see how Sir Terry is fairing. Him and the orang-utans... all to easy to see the parallels...

And I'm sure you wouldn't violate BBC's screening rights by watching it for yourself here:


Read more!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Bird-dammit! 2

It's not so much that James Nguyen made a second movie, so much as he simply remade the first movie. This time set in Hollywood, so he can have several rants about how indie film isn't respected and others points about movie making / being a director. (And stars a severely creepy film director/writer as a lead character.)

There isn't really a story to spoil, because it is the first one again. You can tell, because Nguyen consciously replicates several shots and moments from the first movie. Which are just there, and feel flat because he's just replicating them because that's what he thinks the audience wants to see. The more (entirely unintentional) hilarious parts are the new bits and pieces. For example, there is lots of blurring out of background elements... and the license plates of the vehicles the actors drive! There are long lingering shots where the scene ended several seconds earlier, and I hope you like a lens were you can see the cap (or strap?) or parts of the leading car! And of course classic moments like people waving at later dubbed on "special effects" birds, and lots of "he's / she's dead" followed up with a close up of their still breathing body.

But Nguyen does go further. Not just birds, but prehistoric birds! And blood rain that brings them and other creatures back to life! (I won't spoil just what, but you won't believe what you are seeing anyway.) I can only imaging that Birdemic 3 will be eagles and vultures from some future earth that travel back in time because everyone didn't live a green enough life style... and then go away for no reason because the movie ended and there's no explanation, which is how these movies both end so far.

Painfully bad and painfully funny. But it doesn't quite work because Nguyen is trying too hard to replicate the first movie.


Read more!

Sunday, 7 July 2013


It's the sequel that's the prequel that has older people playing their younger selves! But it's all just cartoons, so that's all right.

So this kid goes to university, doesn't fit in with the cool kids, so he joins the loser team and builds them up to something amazing! And they put cameras in the women's dorm and... wait, wait, that was a different movie... This is the cartoon... so then Bender got them to raid the fembots... no, wait, wait, wrong cartoon... So then Mike and Sully have to work together. That's the one! I was surprised by the would be big moment, which occurs earlier... but then they go on to have the real ending, showing that most of the middle of the movie is entirely secondary to what is actually going on... but then, what is actually going on is the character relationship between Mike and Sully, although the movie spends a lot of time not working on that.

Production-wise, this looks as good as the previous movie. They retain the old characters and build into them well. The voices still work, and I didn't realise it was Nathan Fillion until I looked at the voice cast list, but then, yep, it was he.

It's fun enough, although it is largely generic 'underdogs at university' schtick. Still... makes me want to watch Monsters Inc. again.


Read more!

Saturday, 6 July 2013


It's another documentary, this one about wine, and the people who want to be masters of them. (I am surprised by the low rating on IMDB.)

This follows four people who are studying to become Master Sommeliers, a test that involves theory, tasting and service. And it's not simple. Most people don't pass it... so yeah, good odds on the ones we following doing well. There's a lot of talk about what it means to be able to know the details of wines, being able to describe the taste, knowing the region the particular grapes come from, getting all the minutiae right. I'm impressed, and bow in acknowledgement of that level of detail you need to know. We see the four of them struggle to master all this, and speak to actual masters and find out what they think of it all. While we don't get to see the actual test in action (shame, but understandable), it's still an interesting showing.

I can't say I know anything about wines myself (not being any kind of drinker), but I do find documentaries about masters of the craft interesting. And this isn't the first wine documentary I've seen. This is more about the people taking the test than the wine itself (maybe that's why it's a low rating? People aren't connecting?), so depending on what you are looking for in a wine documentary...

But as a documentary, it's decent. Aside from wanting to see the tests, no real criticism.


Read more!

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Clothe

This has all the hallmarks of independent film: amateur actors, CGI that is painfully bad, one or two areas that is clearly where the money went. And in some cases (such as here): the writer and director is acting... although in this case he's playing the villain!

The hero is some godless guy, and gets brought into some form of Christian order that fights demons. By using guns that shoots crosses and holy water and good feelings and stuff. Makes people explode either way, which doesn't seem to be a problem (certainly no sign of the police being involved anywhere). And so the hero must make a journey to being on the side of the good guys, and get the girl as a reward. By extreme violence on the bad guys.

One item on the trivia page caught my eye: "No other film has had transforming weapons and this is a trademark of the Cloth franchise." Um... no. Aside from there hardly being "the Cloth franchise", there are lots of movies that have guns that fold out into bigger guns, and other kinds of transformations, such as, to pick a movie out of nowhere... Men in Black. Which clearly was an inspiration for this movie, which could largely be described as the demon possession form of MiB. Complete with a scene where we are introduced to a bunch of weapons (rather Q style) and ending on the hero getting a small weapon that he complains about being too small.

There was money here, as can be seen in the demon make up effects, which are rather good. Oh, and in the presence of Eric Roberts and Danny Trejo. They aren't on screen much, so clearly weren't paid that much, but they are in this movie. The leads have some ability, but a lot of the minor players aren't quite as good. And, as mentioned, the CGI is very plasticky.

A fairly classic example of amateur film... however you want to take that...


Read more!

Thursday, 4 July 2013


There's a new tv series out there called Whodunnit? Unfortunately, it's not that one. This one is a reality tv series... hold on, hold on... in which people are at a mansion in which one of them is a killer and each episode one of them is killed off. The people get to investigate one of the crime scene, the last known whereabouts and the morgue(/body). And there's a bit where they try to solve a riddle/hunt for a clue.

But where it really shows up as a reality series is that they are all conniving about how much they talk to each other. Do they reveal the information they found out? Do they lie? Do they form coalitions? People are liked, people are annoying, and... it's all very 'reality tv' in the most despairing sense of the term.

As for the actual murder investigations themselves... having done various role playing game murder investigations in which the GM was a hard ass about the details, and these people trample all over everything. If it isn't written (metaphorically) in huge neon letters, they aren't seeing it. It's all overly contrived...

Which is another point. This is fake. Seriously fake. No-one is seriously taking it as serious (to be honest, the one having the most fun is the chap playing the butler). And yet... the people are acting like they really are under threat of being killed. Immersion is one thing, but are these people all just actors playing the parts of bad investigators? The first death was a total plant, and each person 'acts' in their own death (not well, but they try). It's all just so... badly done.

One like this that I saw that I thought was done better was Murder in Small Town X. More thinking and investigating done better, the people didn't snipe each other ( much...). At the moment I will keep watching... but I'm so close to dropping this and walking away...


Read more!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Reign of Winter

[I'm not sure I'm remembering all the encounters, or in the right order. We had a lot of them!]

Venturing into the snowy forest, we soon found a chest. I, as is my duty, kicked it... unleashing the log which struck most of us. This was only the start to our troubles in the woods.

Further in, we were attacked by three little winter touched fairies, which had an annoying habit of disappearing once they shot at us. I chased them around, finally managing to attack one, while the others in my party took care of the second, and the third ran away. Small annoyances, but the cold iron blade worked well.

Then we got to a gully. We weren't able to climb the walls, so proceeded through... and a white lizard creature attacked Mage and started dragging him away, which gave us the chance to attack it and take it out. However, with us down on spells and Mage unconscious, we took him and the creature back to town to rest. The creature was unseen before by the townfolk, but at least we got healing.

The next day, we're back in the woods. Further in, we find a display of fetish dolls made out of crows. Nasty. Moving on, we encounter a talking stag! However, we sense evil in the area, and so we are forced to take the stag out... revealing the little creature that was guiding it. It didn't last long. Unfortunately, it did shrink my cold iron sword, so I only have my trusty axe... but that is all I have needed so far.

Onwards, we see a frozen river and a snowman on the path to it. Which contains magic. We move off the path to completely miss the lone figure made of snow. On the other side of the river, we find the body of old man Denmarsh [Can't remember his actual name]. Unfortunately.

And then we approach our current goal, the lodge with the rangers... but before then we are attacked by bandits. We put one down, but capture the others. They are not worried, and dare us to take them to the lodge... which is clearly in the hands of the bandits. One gets away, so we hide in the woods.

During the night, a boar enters camp. I fail to scare it away, and obviously the night is impeding me from dealing properly with the creature. It gets me, but I slice deeply into it, clearly killing it, although it still attacks, stupid creature... and it gores me, spilling my insides. I go down. It then tramples Mage. It takes out Feldgar. And knocks down Hogan... [Yes, due to bad rolling, we are basically TPK by a random encounter boar. Fortunately the GM doesn't want to end the adventure just yet.] We spend a few days coming back from that, but must face the lodge next...


Read more!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Steely Man

The movie that isn't Superman, that's the one. While a little dark and gritty, not as much as Batman. My main first impression... LOUD! MUSIC IS LOUD!! SOUND EFFECTS IS LOUD!!! STOP BEING SO DAMN LOUD!!!! And there's a lot of Whiteout too.

What the story of the movie feels like is: back story, build up, back story, build up, back story, build up... SUDDENFIGHTEND! Investing this in the character might pay off more when we can view this in a block of other movies, but it feels really front loaded (much like the last time Nolan introduced a comic book hero). There are many nods to the comics, but most them feel like the script writers heard about them, and added the idea, rather than actually knowing what the reference is. And one thing I did notice... no-one ever says the city is Metropolis (or names it at all, most people will probably assume New York if they don't think the big M) [the name is on screen very briefly at the army HQ].

Henry Cavill is decent as the Man himself, although characterisation quickly falls flat when it just becomes all about the punching. Amy Adams as Lois Lane felt... unnecessary. Really, what did Lois Lane add to this? If we are all about re-imagining Superman (without going the Smallville series route), why not skip that entirely, or make Lois Lane into something other than 'reporter who finds Superman and then needs to get saved by the men'? Michael Shannon eats all the scenery, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner probably cost most of the film's budget, and Antje Traue... sigh... so sexy when she's being all imperious and superior.

We could do worse than this movie, but I'll need to see the sequel for judging if this gets a pass or not.


Read more!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Jack, the other Slayer

This is one of the other 'let's retell children's stories' movies. First up, while it is two hours long, it does move along well, and doesn't unduly slow down speed up slow down speed up. There are quieter moments, but they are a good pause for breath between action scenes, then it gets back on with it.

Storywise, there's Jack. He's a farm boy schlub. Had to go sell his horse at market (get it! It's not a cow! It's something new! It's a horse!). For beans, yes, but this is a world in which giants are well known and magic isn't unheard of (which is definitely needed to explain how this huge land hovers in the sky without impacting on the world), although the beans and the giants are the only elements of magic, no spells or anything... where was I? There's Isabelle, a princess, who, while trying to be strong and independent, immediately gets trapped by various things, and needs to be saved more than once. (Fine, the story is 'Jack', but they clearly tried to make a strong female character, and at the end of the movie it would have been brilliant is she had it... but no, it had to be him). There's Elmont, who, as he is played by Ewan McGregor, is clearly more competent that the rest of the characters. There's Roderick, who is Evil. We're just lucky he doesn't stand around twirling his moustache, but there's no so dimensionality to his character, he's evil and that's that. And there's Fallon, the giant, who is being played by Bill Nighy repeating his Davy Jones voice (which is how I recognised him).

The action pace is good, and the supporting cast overshadow the two leads, but... yeah... it's a decent enough movie, but not spectacular. There's nothing that surprising in the plot (although I will credit the movie with a decent boss death), and the giants looks all right, although clearly CGI. And is that supposed to be a twist or something at the end? 'Cos it isn't.

It's there, it doesn't offend, but doesn't amaze either.


Read more!