Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Knights and Knaves of Swords

Here we go, with the last book. And Neil is back! Although I did wonder if his intro was meant for the sixth book, because it could have easily worked for that.

We have four stories. The first is Fafhrd dealing with a random goddess. Then the Mouser gets a go. Then they both deal with old age. Finally… it’s back to being about the Mouser as he goes underground, and we get a bit of a hit parade of the previous stories as Fritz takes us around his favourite settings.

And shows, and I’m going to go ahead and say this, Fritz is a pervert. He spends an unhealthy amount of time talking about very young women (barely teens in some cases), and lovingly describes their bodies with focus on their breasts. No, Fritz, just no.

Overall, not a bad wee series, and as is pointed out, one of the defining set of stories. But I feel like I’m glad it’s over.


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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Harry Price: Ghost Fraud

This was a TV movie about Harry Price, a ghost hunter from back in the day specialising in psychical research. In particular, this is one case that brings him back into the ghost fold.

He was a ghost debunker, then gave into fraud because it was more pleasing. But then an incident happened that made him give up the job. But now, a politician's wife is in trouble, so he is brought in to find out what's going on. And, of course, there's an actual ghostly presence, and Harry has to struggle with his own skepticism to help solve the problem.

Rafe Spall plays Harry Price, and does a decent job. But he could largely be anyone, there's no real need for this is be about Harry at all. The rest of the cast are also decent, but... it just feel like a special story. Why was this movie made? What point is being told? Why Harry Price? I just don't get the meaning of any of this.

Although I am reminded of another British production from earlier in the year... but I'll talk about that next week.


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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Live of Superman Deaths

A documentary that came out this year was one that was crowd funded, but not by me. It was about that movie that Kevin Smith got anecdotes about, The Spider That Ate Superman.

And this is largely about that movie. We get the slow start to it, then it gets handed off to Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage. There's some discussion about the content of the movie, and we see some bad video test of Cage wandering around in various suits. Eventually, they do address the death of the movie, but that's only about five minutes, and can basically be summed up with "money".

It isn't surprising that this is mainly face to face interviews, although there are some sections animated. What is surprising is the number of big names they get, Jon Peters, Kevin Smith, Tim Burton (but not Nicholas Cage).

To be honest, there doesn't feel like there's enough to this to make a full documentary, although this is over ninety minutes. The movie got killed before it could be fully developed, so they are making a lot out of a little. It feels thin.

It's nice to know the answer around this movie now, but I can't say we needed this full of an explanation.


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Monday, 28 December 2015

Doctor Who 9.Xmas

I don't know what's worse here. That it's another Moffat mess of a script, or that it's a Komedy Kristmas Karol! Either way: Kringe!

Hey, it's River Song... who gone from "Spoilers" to the stupidest woman in the universe who can't recognise the man she loves and treats the Doctor as just 'this guy I know' rather than loving him, which she still does... uh, what? Moffat, did you even read the earlier parts of the script when doing the latter parts? I know you don't care about continuity, but this is going too far. At least now with the passing on of the sonic we can never worry about her in the series again... yeah?

Not that it isn't nice to Alex Kingston again, and she could probably pull off her own spin-off series (this isn't an actual thing that's happening, is it?), but we don't need her to continually pop up in this show. How much does Moffat plan on just drudging up the past? (Speaking of drudging up the past, I thought we were past the sonic shades!)

So, this was supposed to be a Christmas romp? But it's going to take more than Matt Lucas to make this amusing.

Next time: Oh, there was no next time. Hey ho, time to wait for another eight/nine months I guess.


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Sunday, 27 December 2015

Gril Genuis

This is a classic web series, and I finally got around to dealing with it when a Kickstarter for the next volume of stories (or whatever they are) about to begin. So I went and picked up all the previous compiled volumes.

This is one of those stories that try to twist the usual paradigm by having a female engineer/mad mechanic genius. Oh, and she’s really stacked. And has two different guys after her.

Aside from that, there are mecha and flying vehicles and a carnival and Jaegers… and a partially sentient castle. It really is quite involved, although at times it feels somewhat padded and I just wanted to yell ‘get on with it’, but the writers had to keep throwing in one obstacle after another. it was frustrating, not a chance to show off the characters overcoming a problem.

I can definitely see why people like this. Heck, I like this, and will hopefully remember to pay attention. However, I just hope they pick up the pace this time.


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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Friday the 7th

Is this just more of the same? Or more of the same?

Jason is released from the lake because of a young woman with psychic powers. Yep, the movie is going there. Fortunately, there are a group of uninhibited youngsters around so Jason can get his killing on. But it’s not until her mother is killed that the woman snaps and starts psychicking Jason around, and totally defeats him. Yep, there’s no way he’s coming back from this. He’s been shot, killed, and tied to a large rock. Being pulled under the water by a dead man is the final capping moment.

Hey, we finally get Kane Hodder as Jason! He’s the one often cited as the Jason to go to, but it takes until movie seven before he takes on the role. But otherwise this is typical Jason, with lots of killing, and him teleporting around the place (even worse for one particular scene). And now we have psychic powers. Well, why not? We are already in supernatural territory with Jason, so let’s throw magic into the mix. It’s not like we’re going to get any more realistic.

However, what we do have is Freddy taking more of the lead.


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Friday, 25 December 2015

Hamish MacBeth Act 3

Given the events of season 2, it’s less soap opera now, although there’s still some.Instead, we basically ramp up the comedy.

Even the crimes are lessened and it’s more just people doing things in villages. Two episodes are around competitions with a nearby village, and the final one is more of a climatic battle involving someone with comedy bad luck versus others running after them. There are a few more character moments, but by and large it’s middling of the road stuff.

Instead of Robert, I’m going to talk about Ralph Riach, who plays TV John (so called because he was the first to own a TV in the village). He’s a great character, and is basically Hamish MacBeth’s mentor figure. He has a lot of fun in the series, and this series is worth watching just for him alone.

Not a bad series overall, but nothing spectacular either.


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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Swords and Ice Magic

Huh. The previous audiobooks have had Neil Gaiman do an intro thing each time. But not here. Schedule not line up? Nothing to say? Anyway, we’re straight in.

I do like the initial stories, in which we have a personification of Death taking personal interest in some killings, and in particular two particular heroes. This is quite fun, and it’s a pity it isn’t going on longer. It’s very clear from this were the early version of Discworld Death came from, which is basically a copy of this.

However we hit the main story with over half the book about the events of getting to and being on Rime Island. And dealing with two gods that are familiar from our world. And that’s about the only interesting aspect of it. Otherwise, it just feels long. And once again the Grey Mouser is the one to save everyone, with Fafhrd also being around.

(I wonder if I only prefer Fafhrd because I played Nanoc?)

At least this is a shorter book, and now only one left.


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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Masons Lane

Masons Lane in Wellington has been under going renovations for the past few months, but is now open for business... the business of walking from The Terrace to Lambton Quay. Here's me walking through it, taking a look at what they've done.


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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Force Awakedness

Oh, considering there severe amount of paranoia about Star Wars spoilers, I will put my entire review in the tags so it won't show up on the front page. Especially as I do want to refer to particular elements.

Also, go check out Peter's blog for another review!

Okay, cards on the table, I'm not a huge SW nerd. I don't care about how great it is, the prequels didn't offend me, and my childhood was not ruined. I don't rewatch the movies every month, and could probably only quote the main popular lines. For me, seeing this was largely a box ticking exercise so that I could engage with other people who were super excited about seeing it.

All that aside, I enjoyed it, even though it was basically a rewrite of A New Hope. Yes, I said it, and I doubt I will be the only one. The characters and beats are largely cut up and repasted around new characters, and we get a lot of moments that feel familiar. Hey, it's a desert planet. And a forest planet. And a cantina. And Han Solo has to get a droid to the resistance. And the planet the resistance is on is under threat of a big death beam unless x-wings shoot the right spot... Really?

That aside, this movie feels slow to start. It takes ages to actually engage the wider aspects of the universe, and some of the action sequences feel like they are there because this is where we have an action sequence. The character beats are... there. The characters are well written, but the surprises weren't surprising. When Kylo Ren takes off his mask... there you go. It's almost treated as a big moment, but since this is the first movie to feature him, seeing him unmasked isn't something that means anything. It's not like he's Luke under the mask or anything. And we can tell there is some connection between Luke and Rey, I'm just waiting to find out she's his daughter. (People may already know, whatever.)

And there are the people who came back, but let's talk about Han Solo. Geez, Harrison Ford looks really old (unsurprisingly), but Han comes across as super old and barely able to get about. JJ tries to shoot him in exciting action sequences but they just look like a doddering old man is wandering around on set. And his big moment at the end... again, I wasn't surprised, and was expecting something along those lines. Next movie Luke's turn?

So that's it. It's back, and we've got a new take on the franchise to be excited about.



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Monday, 21 December 2015

The Fenal Gals

Tim pointed this one out. It's a meta horror comedy where the cast knows they are in a horror movie!

The daughter of an actress who was in a horror movie and she's invited to an anniversary screening. A fire breaks out in the cinema and her and her friends end up inside the movie. So while they have to survive the killer, the daughter gets a chance to get to know her mother (in a character).

And the point of the movie is the mother/daughter connection. The movie completely changes tone when that happens, which makes it feel forced and from another movie entirely. While the rest of the movie is being very meta with the characters trying to use their future/movie knowledge... and not succeeding very well, because this is a horror movie, and it's also trying for comedy with the meta aspect. To be honest... it tries too hard, and can't really pull it off properly. It's too busy going "woo, look at us, wink wink wink" to actually take itself seriously enough to pull the scenes off with suitable care. The movie is trying to sell us on meta only by telling us it is, not actually showing us.

I'm sure I should know the actors are known from somewhere, but nothing I can think of. The effects are decent, with a mixture of practical and CGI.

It's a neat idea, and check the trailer out, but not quite there.


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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Dodpol Kills the Mavrel Universe

This is a comic that exists because people wanted it. I know because the opening text for each of the four issues keep going on about it. While I’m no Deadpool fan (I barely know who he is), this is often cited as a series to read, so let’s go for it.

And it is largely as it says on the tin. Deadpool goes around and kills lots of Marvel characters. Because of his regeneration factor (which works to bring him back from being almost disintegrated, although Wolverine’s doesn’t?) he can’t be put off by traps and such. In fact, more than one death is because “aha, you forgot to take my regeneration into account!”. Ultimately, it just feels rather depressing. Deadpool mets character, Deadpool kills character, rinse repeat. Nothing meaningful happens, and it’s just an exercise in pandering.

So why is this liked? I have no idea… let’s turn to the web. “It’s fun.” “The kills are fun.” But it’s not considered the best Deadpool story. Here we go “Worth picking up and reading, buy only if you’re a Deadpool fan”.

Close… I would qualify the whole thing as “only if you’re a Deadpool fan”.


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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Nightmare on 3st Street

He’s back, and this time he gets more backstory!

The rest of the children of Elm Street are having bad dreams, and are institutionalised together. Which means that after they deal with Freddy there will never be another movie? No, of course not. But in this case, Nancy, from the first movie, comes back (even though we saw her taken by Fred at the end) and helps them. Although not until after a few more of them die, and the hospital authorities deny anything strange is happening. But by the power of god, in this case holy water, Freddy is dealt with… until the final scene. So nothing gets resolved, although we do get that Freddy is the bastard son of a 100 maniacs.

It’s getting harder to claim that the Freddy movies are more about how the people react to death, but I think I can swing it for this one. There are ‘ironic’ deaths (the guy who creates puppets is puppeteered to death), but they are shortish sequences, so we can focus on the impact and on how people are living with this threat over them. However, the comedy Freddy is coming…

And this movie is about people claiming back their power in their dreams… but even that doesn’t really work, and it’s an outside influence that saves them. So really… you can’t help yourself.

Yay! Positive messages from Freddy Kruger!


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Friday, 18 December 2015

Lois & Clark 3

This season took me a longer time to get through, I just found it hard to push through the middle.

Because in the middle of this season, we get the wedding of L and C. Which, of course, has to go wrong, because Lois is a clone, and then she gets memory loss and forgets who she loves and Lex Luthor is back, and... it just drags out over too many episodes. Then the last few episodes bring in another arc with a possible wedding happening, until we hit the cliffhanger with the pair being broken up (and I'm sure will never come together again in the next season, this is a twist for ever for L&C).

We keep the same cast as last season, with John Shea suddenly having hair again. What's up with that? But we do get a superhero this season... which is in a computer virtual reality program, so that's not interesting. But they do bring in Baron Sunday, but also bring in other gimmicks such as Lois gets Clark's powers and there's a Superboy... eh.

One more season to go if I can get through it.


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Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Swords of Lankhmar

One common thread with these books so far is that while the series is called Lankhmar, very few of the stories are set there. There might be a short vignette in the city, but otherwise Fafhrd and Mouser are off and away to distant lands.

So it didn’t surprise me when this story starts on a ship not in Lankhmar. This is a story of rats, and we have this rat problem for a while. Eventually, we, and the rats, get to Lankhmar, which does make this more of a Lankhmar story than others, but even then we have Fafhrd out and about. Meaning, once again, the bulk of the story is about the Mouser. Admit it Fritz, we know who you prefer.

One thing I have been meaning to say is that I love the language used in these books. It isn’t cod-medieval, but there is still distinct terms used that definitely give it a feel of an age before. This adds a richness to the narrative, and probably one of the main reasons I’m still listening.

However, just two books to go.


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Wednesday, 16 December 2015


Ah, it's that classic of all Christmas stories... where anti-Santa comes to terrify everyone!

It's always a fun time when the relatives come, and when the aunt and her family come to stay for a few days, Max has one tease too much and tears up his letter to Santa... and calls the other Santa. Which, if you know titles, is Krampus. He's all about the presents and the snow and bringing families together... in terror. Oh, how heartwarming! By which I mean the heart is sped up by adrenaline from the cute monster attacks. Yeah, this is clearly heading for a happy ending.

And the ending is tricky. It nearly sticks the landing, then goes into a nose dive, before touching down properly. The story plays out well, and doesn't respect anyone in terms of going after both the likeable and unlikeable. And it speaks to good construction that characters can go from the latter to the former. And we get some good performances, even from the kids, but I'm giving best performance to Krista Stadler with second to Conchata Ferrell.

And this was made in New Zealand. Not by an NZ company, but locations were here. And they got a Screen Production Grant, of course. And, as you'd then expect, Weta was involved. The effects were decent, and as for Krampus himself... very nearly, but then they stay far too long on his face, and... just looks like a non-articulated mask that got stuck in a stupid pose.

This is a comedy/horror and it tracks the line far better than You're Next. Check it out for a different take this holiday get-together.


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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Teom Omerica

Hey, remember that classic parody movie which featured puppet sex and by the guys behind South Park? Yeah, that’s a thing I remember.

America is the only one who can police the world, so wherever terrorists strike they are there, blowing things up, and not giving a damn what foreigners (ie locals) think. Get it? That’s the joke!

A new member joins who can Acting, and he goes undercover to find out what the terrorists want. But it goes to hell, as these things do, and then there’s puppet sex. Eventually, the Actingers get together against Team America with the support of Kim Jong Il, and Team America must somehow get themselves together enough to overcome them all.

Okay, so that’s the joke… but you know what? When I first saw it, I can’t remember laughing that hard, but I enjoyed it. Now? Not so much. It just feels tired. Can’t say I laughed at anything, and the puppet sex just felt like a one trick pony that was over the first time.

And the worst thing is… I’m not sure how many Americans would consider this parody any more.


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Monday, 14 December 2015

The Great Gadsby

Aw shame.

I remember watching McPhail and Gadsby when I was young. I can't say I understood a lot of then at the time, and my political awareness hasn't really increased a lot since then, but there were a few bits I got. And otherwise it was funny comedy and neat songs.

Bye Jon!


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Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Maize Runnur

Another set of audio books. This will spoil the main three books. While I did have Kill Order to listen to, it was so boring I couldn’t get through it.

Thomas wakes up in a maze, and it’s a test by Big Pharma! Well, close, it’s all about the brain and finding a cure to a disease that was “accidentally” released. (That was the one really interesting note in the entire set of books, and I just ruined it for you.) Fortunately, as he is a Marty Stu, he can get everyone out of the maze… and into the next set of trials. Which involves him hooking up with another young woman who wants him because of aforementioned Marty Ste-ness. Then in the last book… absolutely fuck all happens. Seriously, they just wander around for a while, then are saved. There are some action sequences for the movie, but nothing of import happens. Not even an exciting unrevealed test or anything.

Can you guess I wasn’t impressed with these books? Yeah, no, as the kids don’t say, this is just nothing. As soon as I clicked on Thomas being special (ie self-insertion author avatar) I stopped caring about anything that happened to him, which, considering he is the main protagonist, is a major failing of the book.

I haven’t seen the movie, but surely Hollywood wouldn’t allow it to be as dull as this?


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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Friday the 6th

Okay, have we reached definite supernatural status for Jason then? Lightning brings him back to life, that’s gotta be official weird right?

Anyway, as mentioned, Jason’s back. And, for some reason, people have rebranded the camp into a kids camp, and so we finally get Jason killing kids. Yeah, right. But the councillors are fair game, and yep, they die. Tommy’s back, and wanting to confront Jason (and is responsible for bringing him back), but how many people will die before the final showdown? But at least Jason’s dead now, right? After all, when a supernatural creature is brought to life, he can be easily killed, yeah?

This is just a repeat of all the other films. Nothing of note really happens, just people dying. Even the Tommy focus doesn’t help, as so little is made of it comparatively. The film wants to see people die, so there we are.

But Jason is back, so yeah, still more to come.


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Friday, 11 December 2015

Hamish MacBeth Act 2

The soap opera continues. As does the crime, which gets played up for laughs in this season.

Following on from the last season, Hamish has to deal with the harshest of realities, loving two women, but unable to be with both of them. So we start here with him with one of them, but pining for the other. This can’t really go on, but it takes a few episodes before it takes a rather dark turn. Then we get an episode of him dealing with this, which also has high comedy in it, because nothing helps trauma more than discordant tone. But we are staying light hearted for the last episode, although again darkness rears its head at the end.

Robert Carlyle continues to give a good performance, and I find myself wondering (as I have also been watching David Tennant in Jessica Jones), what would he have been like as the Doctor? He would have had to quit smoking, for a start, but I think he would have done well. Well, back then. These days, he seems to be playing more the insane scientist (which you think would make him more appropriate, and yet not).

One more season, let’s see how the tone plays out.


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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Lankhmar: Swords Against Wizardry

Book four has four stories in them, which shows the books are settling down to longer tales.

The first one is basically a small prologue to the second story. And the second story is the pair climbing a mountain… and that’s largely about it. There is a minor point where they get to have sex with two beautiful women (of course), but mostly it’s the climb.

The third story is largely a filler, but does fit nicely. While the payoff isn’t entirely out of nowhere, being a shorter story it doesn’t hang around long enough to be annoying. And shows that Fritz is perfectly happy with strong female characters, which you wouldn’t expect in this setting.

But then there’s the fourth story. Which is a political tale that incidentally happens to have Fafhrd and Grey Mouser in it. They are kept apart for a long time, although Fritz does avoid the “oh, they just missed each other, and one went out that door as the other was coming in this”, but it does mean they have a lesser role in what’s going on. Again the final moment can be seen coming from a while away, so this story isn’t rated high for me.

Three books to go!


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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

House of 1000 Doors: Family Secrets

Huge backlog of HOG games, not helped by Steam sales, so let’s get into this one. Which has trading cards, for some reason, although I can’t imagine anyone caring enough to want to get them.

We are Random J Female Writer who is invited to a seance, only to encounter her Grandmother Margaret Fox (of the cracking toe knuckles fame) who wants to be vindicated so sends you to a house that appears randomly. Of course, you go, and then get caught up in a series of puzzles that occasionally have HOG parts, but otherwise feature annoying inventory puzzles. The story is rather basic, and really is only there to connect four separate smaller stories. At least the bonus chapter (which all collectors edition seem to have) is more personally connected with the main character.

I will say that I like the hint system, in that you aren’t penalised for using it (no badges/achievements), and no penalty for bad clicking. Which means you can click spam your way through the HOG parts, but I prefer that over continual annoying smackdowns because I clicked one pixel to the left of what it wanted. However, the HOG are annoying in that the list of items only lists eight, even if there are more than eight (which there are), but only the displayed eight can be clicked. So although the tenth item might be a pen, you need to clear two other items away before you can pick it up. The mini games are all right, but there were a few I was like “nope, don’t care”, and again there’s the nice handy skip option, so that’s good.

A fun game overall, and it took me six hours to get through, but it has room for improvements.


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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Flagging a point

For those not in New Zealand (or don't watch Last Week Tonight), we are currently referrenduming a new flag. There are five alternatives we are voting on, and later on it will go head to head with the current flag.

And then lose.

Because math.

First off, let's consider how the voting for a new flag will go, and we're going to be fairly basic with assumptions. They'll be wrong, but easy to follow. We know some people are not voting, either they are angrily posting to Twitter or don't care or whatever. But let's say 80% of people vote for a flag. They are ranked 1 to 5, so let's be simple and say each flag gets 20% of the votes.

Which gives us 20% vote for no flag, and each other flag get (80*20) 16% of the population. Let's pick one of them, and put it up against the current flag. People will vote (including people who didn't previous vote) for the current flag if they don't want a change, or don't want the provided option. Which gives 16% of people wanting the alternative... and 84% of people wanting the current flag / not that flag.

So it's not going to play out exactly with those percentages, but we can see the obvious that the current flag is pretty much going to be around for a while longer.

Is there an alternative? We could vote for "should we change" at the same time, but people might change their mind depending on what the winning alternative is.

Instead, we could go with "Rank the six flags (current and five alternatives)". Then the simple majority vote would win, either current or some alternative. Done.


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Monday, 7 December 2015

Doctor Who 9.12

RTD usually closes out the season with a big spectacular event and a more personal emotional ending. Moffat usually goes for just the former, and here he is going for the latter.

It's all about the Doctor and Clara and what the Doctor will do to save her. I thought I knew what was up with "Clara" turning up in the beginning... and got that entirely wrong, I will admit. Although this does leave us with Clara and Ashildr with a TARDIS... yay? I'm sure Big Finish are already having plans, let alone many, many fanfic writers...

Anyway, the lengths the Doctor goes to. Which makes it no surprise that he indeed turns out to be the hybrid (or at least part of it), because as soon as you talk about standing on the ruins on Gallifrey, there's only one man who will go that far. And Moffat decides that memory erasure is the best way to proceed with that... which isn't even slightly emotionally wrecking like with Donna (maybe because I don't care about Clara anywhere near as much?). Oh, and yeah, Gallifrey's back, but don't ask how. And just what monsters are they supposed to be that everyone hates? I don't get that.

Really, what I'm saying is that this is an attempt at an emotional ending... and it's a fizzler. Moffat can do great stuff (watching the recent Jekyll and Hyde series makes me want to go back and rewatch Jekyll). But not here...

Next time: Comedy Christmas! Ho oh no!


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Sunday, 6 December 2015


When I was a kid, I had a comic which had a few stories in it that constantly featured a Grand Vizier trying to dispose a Caliph. One constant line of dialogue was “I want to be the Caliph instead of the Caliph”. I’m not sure it was a translation problem, but I never understood that as a kid. (Whereas I did finally click on it being “I want to the new Caliph instead of the person who is currently in that role.”)

I finally got around to seeking out what this was recently, and found out about Iznogoud, and, of course, had to grab and read them all. There are nine compilation books (I think the one I had was book 9), and… it seems there was an animated series and even a movie. Huh.

What shows up immediately is the terrible tendency for puns. Far worse than Asterix. We start with Iznogoud himself, and lots of the others do have pun names more in French, and pleny of people have just some Arabic’d version of real world people or job (which I’m looking at the translater more for this).

Definitely fun, but don’t overdulge if you have low tolerance for puns.


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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Friday the 5th

Why let a franchise go? Let’s bring it back? Okay, I will applaud the sense of continuity this series has, but that time line is gotta be messed up.

Tommy, the kid in the previous movie, is back (they even got the same actor for an opening scene), but now he’s an older teen, and is shipped off the an institute… which is right beside Crystal Lake. So it shouldn’t be too surprising when random murders start happening, and Jason is back. But is he? You won’t believe the final revelation! Because it’s rather stupid. But at least is an explanation. But then they have another twist, which everyone was expecting from the start, also because Freddy 2 was out this same year with the same idea.

As I said, I do like the continuity. There is no real need for it, but there we go. One definite change in this over the previous movies: not a single character (and I’m going to include the kid here) is likeable. Let’s just kill them all.

As a new beginning this is more of a filler movie.


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Friday, 4 December 2015

Jessica Jones (3/3)

Right then, let's wrap this up with the final episodes.

And there are still spoilers.

I have to say it still feels like it's padded out. There's a continual cycle of capture and release... what is this, episode three of Doctor Who? Jessica is still hunting down Kilgrave, and he's still using others to protect himself from her... which is exactly what was happening in the earlier episodes, so what's the point? At least Daredevil had the sense of progression through mini-bosses before the final encounter. (And speaking of DD, we have an actual connection with that series in the last episode.) The very last episode builds and climaxes as you'd expect... which gives it a sense of anti-climax, a sense of "is that it?". Overall, it could have done a lot more with this series.

And in the other character realm, we get Mike Colter as Luke Cage, who I thought was last seen in Thor? Although not specifically named as such, so I guess they can still get away with being in the movie continuity. Still, good performance, and I look forward to him being in more. And we get Rachael Taylor as Tricia Walker, whom I failed to pick up as a burgeoning Hellcat, but the series didn't go out of its way to flag that either. (And speaking of likealook, she reminded me of Rosamund Pike.) And I have to mention Carrie-Anne Moss... and there, I just did.

I think not knowing the character didn't help, as it watching over a week, but ultimately this series could have been a far tighter group of smaller episodes.


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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Lankhmar: Swords in the Mist

Okay, so let's talk about the third book. Instead of various adventures, there's basically just four here.

The first one is quite good. Nice supernatural set up, and it builds nicely... then it just ends, as if everything (including the author) just runs out of energy. Pity, I thought it would have had more to go.

The next one is a longer piece, and has a lovely build up, and a wonderful pay off. Seriously, everything came together well in this one.

The third one, under the sea, is meh, and forgettable.

Then the fourth one... the story didn't mean much to me, but it did have an unusual aspect. It was set on Earth. Because they can just wander across dimensions. But I'm not sure why. There was nothing in particular about Earth that needed to be set there, and could easily have taken place in the normal universe. Indeed, with the magic around, that would have made more sense. And then it dragged on a bit too much.

In all, started well, ended blah.


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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Jessica Jones (2/3)

More episodes down, but still around a third to go.

Note: there will be spoilers.

So, at the end of this next batch I watched... they progressed about one step! They spend some time with the main good girl and bad boy together, but nothing really happens, and then we get a reenactment of the intention of the previous episodes, only this time it works. And capturing the bad guy works about as well as you'd expect. Which is why I say they've gone forward only about one step as one new piece of information is gained (and I think people were already figuring that out anyway).

This series is feeling long. In some ways, I think watching it spaced out over some days might be hampering it. I always wonder when a show does get all episodes released as this does, do the makers intend it to be watched gradually or binge watched? With Daredevil, I did binge, and it worked pretty well. With this, I don't have the time for that, however this does mean I have time to think about episodes, and get annoyed about them. Such as I have here. That's not good.

Obviously I have to talk about David Tennant at some point. He's clearly ready to get into the role of the bad guy, and he gets to be all kinds of charismatic as he does so, which is nice. Okay, yes, one is reminded of his more dark moments as the Doctor, but this is clearly a distinct character.


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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Jessica Jones (1/3)

It's another Netflix Marvel TV series... thing, so let's binge! Only a bit slower than Daredevil. I went into this... knowing basically nothing about her (and getting her a little confused with Jessica Drew).

Oh, and there will probably be spoilers.

What we have is Jessica Jones, a PI that deals with creating spouses cases. And then a person from her past resurfaces, and... while I'm not belittling rape stories in any way, this basically becomes a 'getting back at the person who raped me' story, to the extent of there feels like there isn't anything else in the series. And that's a hell of a thing to hang the entire first season on. (At least I assume the full first season will be about that, I have only seen a third, but it seems to be.) Oh, and this is all done with superpowers, so it isn't physical rape, but mental rape. And it's just about a chap who can make people do whatever he wants, as long as he can talk to them.

We nearly get a swing to the good guys in the fifth episode, but due a plot point you'd think a private detective would think of, that can't happen yet, because it is only the fifth episode. This is as far as I've seen, so hopefully this will pick up on the cheeriness at some point. And no doubt we'll get a full origin story for the superpowers involved sooner or later.

In this, we have Krysten Ritter in the lead role... who looks so like Eliza Dushku I had to keep reminding myself she isn't. She isn't doing a bad job, but I don't really have a feel for her character beyond "has powers", "is a private eye", and "doesn't like the bad guy".

Perhaps if I knew more about the character before hand?


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Monday, 30 November 2015

Doctor Who 9.11

It's another episode by Steven "I've got this great High Concept" Moffat. I'm beginning to treat his episodes with "oh dear".

We have this "neat idea" of the Doctor in his own nightmare, which somehow includes a large block of more than diamond he decides to punch through. Okay, we can see how this plays out from a generic point of view (although having read Mauritz by Jonathon Morris, I was suspecting it from early on).

Where it fails is thinking about how it began. How did the Doctor first get summoned there? He would have dived down and not found any skulls at all. Nor one attached to the machine. And there wouldn't have been any dry clothes to put on (not that I'm sure how the room 'resets' to having clothes in it anyway). And it may also have wider implications about free will if the Doctor does exactly the same things over and over again...

Still, we get a grand performance from Peter Capaldi, who has to hold his own against a monster with obvious large rubber claws. And, of course, the obligatory cameo by Jenna Coleman. (And I'm not the only one having trouble in believing in her death.)

And all this is a set up for "surprise, he's on Gallifrey!", which again I think most of us suspected. Okay, I didn't get the fact he was in the confession disc (which was One Neat Trick), but there he is.

Next week: Oh, this isn't going to be good...


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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Ultimate 7

Another comic that I Kickstartered. It’s sci-fi about a group of warriors brought together to fight a Big Bad.

The story slowly unfolds, are we start with Jenny who then becomes the main character who is out to pick up the others. Which involves getting into a story that lasts an issue or two before finally they get the new companion to come with them.

This is three volumes, of four issues each. However, the last issue is super long, which makes me wonder if the story was supposed to be balanced more? Or the writer just thought a massive story was the way to go? Either way, I could have gotted to the big story quicker because the little vignettes didn’t really grab me.

Overall… I’m not sure I would have picked this up had I known the story.


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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Nightmare on 2nd Street

Fred’s back… and his other parts are wanting out into the world, and there’s a nice young body he wants.

Our… hero isn’t the right word. He’s not heroic at all. Main character? He’s a very sweaty young man who has strange dreams of Fred. Eventually killings start to happen, and the main character is right there, only it’s not really him doing it. Finally, Fred does get out, and the lines between reality and dream get confused, and the main character’s not-quite-girlfriend confronts him and… not really Love Conquers All, but close.

Again, this isn’t the Freddy of later movies, and indeed is very different to the original movie in that we have Fred trying to get out and about… and this movie is more about the slow descent into madness of the main character (whose name I have no clue at this point) as he gets possessed. Which can be an interesting aspect to explore, but I think already the audience is all about ‘bring on Fred!’ so that’s not really much of a focus.

A rather scattered movie that has weird images and not really getting to a solid point.


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Friday, 27 November 2015

Hamish MacBeth Act I

One of the many sets I picked up was for Hamish Macbeth, and now I've at least seen season one.

This is part Scottish soap drama, part Scottish crime drama. I'm emphasising the Scottish part, because this series definitely does. Everyone puts on their accent, and we get a slew of Scottish place names, so we can check off authenticity. The crime part... is rather light. And in some ways nearly incidental. Of the five adventures in season one, there's really only about one case that is an actual case and involves investigation. The rest of the time, it's just casually strolling along, and if there's a crime, we get put that in the mix. Elsewise, it's soap because it's all about the characters and what they are doing day to day, and we are only lucky the pub isn't in Albert Square. And what's with ending seasons on marriage proposals?

We have Robert Carlyle in the lead, and doesn't he look young? There are also other people, and I recognise none of them. Decent performances, even if the stories aren't really stretching the imagination.

As I mentioned, there are only five episodes, because this is a British series, so I'll give the next season a go as well.


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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Lankhmar: Swords Against Death

Join Fafhrd and Grey Mouser as they have divers adventures!\

When we left them, they were leaving Lankhmar, with no intention of ever going back. Within mere moments they decide to go back because... that's where the plot is? What follows then is various adventures, with the two of them having exciting times. Well, sometimes. Often is one of them or the other having the adventure. With, it has to be said, a favouritism towards the Mouser. Not that Fafhrd doesn't get a story or two, but the focus is clear.

If this is what the rest of the books are like, I might not bother blogging them. I can't say there was any particular adventure that stood out. These days, these are very familiar stories, although here is where a lot of them started. There are still a few new ones and twists I couldn't see coming, but still... and there are more than one story where I felt the Lovecraft influence in there.

Definitely going to continue with this, we'll see if it ends up here.


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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

It's a Festival of Magic!

Because they were giving away tickets, me and some family members when to a matinee performance of Chuck Jones and Company, a part of the World Festival of Magic "NZ"!

We got just over an hour of magic, family friendly stuff, with Chuck Jones being the performer of the day. There were a lot of classic bits (swords into boxes and switching people), and I spotted how some of them worked... although there are many that I have no idea about.

Still... the main point was that I had fun, as did the others in the audience. (It was at the Riley Center at the Wellington High School. Which wasn't even half way fill.)

I'm not sure about the actual price of tickets (yay free!), but hey, if you've got kids, this is a good outing.


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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Beyond the Hills

If I was watching these on Netflix, I'm sure the suggestion algorithm would be very confused. This is a Romanian drama Beyond the Hills.

Voichita is now at a monastery (nunnery? they are all women except for the leading father), and her friend Alina turns up, wanting to be with her. (I'm not sure how clear that relationship is supposed to be.) But Voichita is wanting to stay there, and yet is drawn by Alina to leave. Then Alina starts causing problems, and the movie takes a strange turn to deal with Alina seemingly being possessed. (Again, I'm not clear on whether or now she's faking this.) And then, in the last half hour (this over 2 1/2 hours) it takes another twist, and ends on... I'm not entirely sure.

While I obviously am not exactly au fait with the plot, and wondered if I could stick it out, it did start to grow on me and I wanted to see what happened. Partly because the direction of the movie kept changing. And I wasn't sure which character I was supposed to side with.

Ultimately, this is probably a good movie, I'm not the one to get it properly though.


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Monday, 23 November 2015

Doctor Who 9.10

I have no idea if the big thing in this episode was well known to those that watch trailers and read magazines and such...and I'm still not sure if I believe it actually happened.

The initial mystery is provoking enough, and then there's the padding about trying to find the missing street. But just before she turns I thought "Maisie Williams is in this isn't she?" and there she is. And my investment starting dropping. Then Clara takes the clock, and I thought (thinking back to an earlier episode) "this is what the Doctor needs to solve that particular problem". And then...

Um... I'm going to go ahead and say "what a stupid death". Clara opens herself to death to save... just who the hell is Rigsy anyway? Can't remember him, but I presume this is a character we saw last season, and yet he clearly made no impression on me. If they do stick with her death, I will give the series an actual impact, but it didn't feel like much of an end scene. And Clara didn't even make it to the end of the series? Huh.

Then that is all overshadowed by the Doctor being teleported away by what it seems is the Time Lords. All over companion leavings end up with the Doctor looking sober and then the credits. Not here. Just another reason to find this suspicious.

No doubt Clara and Maisie (she changes name, so why should I bother to remember it) will be back, so we'll just wait for that.

Next week: After the build up from the end of this episode... they jump into a slow paced character piece. Let's see if that's as bad as it sounds.


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Sunday, 22 November 2015


Okay Neal, I'll give you this opportunity. It's a fairly recent book, so I can't say I'm coming in with too much knowledge about something, so yeah, this should work.

This book is... exposition and world building. There are some activities that happen in this book, which centres around Zula getting kidnapped and taken hostage, but, to be honest, this is just an excuse to go somewhere and deliver more exposition. Which means that when something "exciting" does happen, there is absolutely no tension whatsoever. And to really get places, he brings in around a dozen or so characters. So when the big finale happens, he pops around to different characters, popping back in time to explain events, and... again... tension is dissolved before it ever gets a chance to go.

That's it. I'm done. All his books are just world building with a veneer of characters. You want to world build? Fine, but don't pretend events are happening. Just go with it.

Unless someone can point me to a story of his which isn't basically this, I'm not listening to any more audiobooks of his works.


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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Nightmare on 1st Street

A new franchise, with the man with the claws. Which we get to see how he makes!

I was surprised by how quickly this gets into it. No real set up of developing how the character came to be, just in with going after a (young - as in the script not as in actor) woman. She wakes up, gets with her friends, find out they are having similar nightmares… and then she gets killed. Rather brutally. This is no happy charming Freddy with the quips, this is Fred, kill ya dead! And the parents are idiots “just sleep, it’ll be fine”. With others dying, Nancy gets the idea to pull Fred out of dreamspace, but fails. However, she does deal with Fred, and puts an end to him… with the next scene being so out of place that it’s obviously a dream, and Fred is still around.

This is more about the reaction to Fred killing than the dream kills we get later. We also eventually do get a backstory, but very limited to ‘he’s a bad man, we killed him’, and there’s no hint as to how he became a dream monster. There are odd moments of Christian imagery, which would suggest Fred is a demon, but nothing is made of that.

An unusual movie that is more about the outside perspective of killings… but that won’t last.


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Friday, 20 November 2015

Lois and Clark 2

Back with the blue tights. Here we are, with more of the same?

Okay there are some changes. Lex (who obviously isn't dead) does come back for one episode, is now bald (as long as you don't look too hard for the bald cap seam), and is rather pathetic. Instead, the main threat of the season is Intergang, a gang of criminals, as you would expect from the name. Which means this season is more of the same of bog standard low level threats with no real menace.

Oh, and this is the season with HG Wells in it. Although I think there's one with Jack the Ripper, so he might be back?

Dead Cain is still good, although when dressed in the blue tights, he has a constant habit of standing with arms crossed, which makes me think he's trying to hide part of the costume (unlike hiding his face, which seems to have a sun tan now). Teri Hatcher... I'm going to say it. She's not good. Why were we so enamoured of her back then? And then there's Michael Landis... by which I mean, there's no Michael Landis, as we have a new Jimmy, played by Justin Whalin. And we also lost Tracey Scoggins... so no characters worth watching there.

And at the end of the season, they were clearly sure of another one, as they end on a cliffhanger involving yet again Lois and marriage.


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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Lankhmar: Sword and Deviltry

This is the precursor of Sword and Sorcery as we think of it today, and... I've never read it. So let's remedy that.

In this first book, we get origin stories, first of Fafhrd, the barbarian, who is unlike other barbarians (in that he's interested in society outside his own). And then the Grey Mouser, who is unlike other wizards (in that he is not very good, and turns to the dark side easily). When they finally meet up, they are immediate friends... and then get pushed together for vengeance.

Throughout this book, I could constantly feel Discworld peeking over my shoulder going "I got that bit... and that bit... and nicked that other bit." This is clearly a heavy influence. However, there is one aspect that wasn't so familiar... this was just to damn serious. Good on Fritz Leiber for being earnest, but this is just bordering on the grim dark current fantasy retellings. I think this is more due to "modern sensibilities" that I wanted it to be funnier, but certainly it could lighten up.

Still, it's decent enough, although I'm not sure how the rest of the series is going to be called Lankhmar when they just left it...


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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Kumutoto Stream

Local artist Kedron Parker created this: “I have created a site-specific sound installation at the top of Woodward Street in Wellington, on a popular walking route used by workers to access office buildings on the Terrace. The tunnel itself is tiled, bleak and bunker-like, and runs underground, directly beneath the Terrace. The soundscape in the tunnel imagines the area in its natural state, before development – just over 150 years ago – to evoke the experience of walking along the former Kumutoto Stream. Although it is not well known, Kumutoto Stream was an important feature of the area’s natural and social history. Today, it is buried under cement, but still flows to Wellington Harbour and supports fish in its pipes. I myself used to commute along the route of the stream, and I’ve found the tunnel to be a point of transition. Emerging onto the Terrace, I find myself entering a cement world that feels disconnected from its past, disconnected from nature, and makes me feel disconnected too. By creating a soundscape in the tunnel, it is my hope to awaken passers-by to the contrast between then and now, and the danger of how our built environments can rob us of our own vitality.”


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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Getting Back in TIme

Released on the day of the future, it’s the documentary that I helped to Kickstart Back In Time.

This covers the making of the movies, and goes into some detail covering them. And then it goes into the fans and the impact the movie has had. (And we get to see a little too much of the fans dressing up.) We even have interviews with surviving actors, although they aren’t really giving away any new anecdotes we couldn’t have guessed.

We even get Michael J Fox appearing, and he’s looking well considering. (Better than doing that Jimmy Kimmel skit.) There’s obviously a lot of love for this movie trilogy, and that comes through clearly.

It’s a nice movie, but ultimately feels like any other documentary.


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Monday, 16 November 2015

Doctor Who 9.09

It's hard to tell what Mark is ripping off more. Event Horizon? The monsters from Amnesia? Found footage movies? Probably half a dozen other things that will come to me over time...

I'm with the Doctor that this is just silly. I didn't realise it was a one-parter (unless it's going to be followed up later on), and thought it was a padded two parter that could have been one. But since this was a oner, what does that say about this?

The sleep monsters look silly. At least in Amnesia, they twisted the mouth. Here's it's just a big kump of grey with the chin fallen off. And I couldn't make out how they were consuming anyone, because the lighting and camera work is just as wonky.

Speaking of camera, let's talk about that. Firstly, why don't they have helmet cams? Why doesn't any future insertion team have helmet cams? (Apparently Chopra does have helmet cam?) We have the technology today! But yes, I picked up on Clara cam before the Doctor mentioned it. But the whole dust thing becoming organic and can see, no that doesn't work. Let alone the gimmick of the episode being a trick to get people to watching. (And boy, is that 'don't watch' ready to be made fun of. Was that a 'gimme' Mark?)

I'm sure there is a lot more I want to complain about... but it's slipping from my mind already. It's just that good.

Next week: I don't even know what to make of that. Other than it doesn't actually look exciting.


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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Desert Bus for Hope 9!

Yes, it's Desert Bus time again! What is Desert Bus? Watch on!

Check out the Desert Bus site. And the Desert Bus Twitch Stream.

...which should be live exactly as this post goes live, but this is LRR, so give it some time...

No item from me this year. :(


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Saturday, 14 November 2015

Friday the 4th

Yay, the final chapter! There will never be another Jason movie!

We get two groups of people. A mother with teen daughter and wee precocious child. And a group of teenagegs coming in for party and the sex and the alcohol. Jason, not being dead enough in the last movie, wakes up when the doctor and nurse nearly have sex near him, kills them, then returns to his stomping grounds and proceeds to kill everyone because they are there. Seriously, the basic premise of the movies aren't 'we are being irresponsible', it's 'you're on my territory biatch!'

And so this is just another 'slasher movie in which people are put together for some bad reason and then killed'. Sex is becoming slightly more involved to provoke Jason, but not really. And Jason seems to now have fully developed teleportation powers to get everywhere at once. Still, at least at the end, which does play on the origin story of Jason, so yay!, they don't stop with one slash of the machete but really go to town. And there's certainly no sign of any possible follow up movie, despite the creepy look on the kid's face.

It's not really a franchise, just a continual slashing which happens to be put together in different movies. Still, with this over, there'll never be another franchise with unkillable monster in it ever again...


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Friday, 13 November 2015

Because Specter

Well, we now have a reason for everything that happens in the Bond universe. It's all Because Spectre! At least, that's what this movie would suddenly have us believe.

Bond is on the trail of a random someone, and ends up finding a huge conspiracy group. Which, it seems, is responsible for all the previous movies, and is connected to them in a way that is totally bullshit. Anyway, there are a few women involved, and lots of explosions, so that's Bond, right?

My main problem with this movie: tension. As in there is very little of it. Even in the middle of action scenes, it's like the music is only half-hearted and the pace isn't trying to pick it up, and just... meh, they are middling along.

And then there's Spectre itself, the organisation almost nearly irrelevant to be honest. This could easily have been another Big Villain behind it all, and there you are. (Tomorrow Never Dies comes to mind for some reason.)

It's all just blah. Not even Moriarty can save it.


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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Paranarmal Activity Ghast Dimension

This is more of a direct sequel to the third film, with the kids having an impact in this movie. But once again we get another family in a house… how new.

As mentioned, family in a house, with young kid being slowly taken over by evil. Or Satan. Or some generic demon. It’s never made clear. In the mean time, the dad and brother find a camera that looks like it came from Fatal Frame, and other than being able to once see spooky things, otherwise doesn’t pay off in the slightest. Other cameras do pick up Evil Vision, so we can see what the family members can’t. A priest turns up, and tries to help, and eventually… the movie ends as all these do.

I will say the effects look a lot better. The evil reverse dripping is great, and the doorway is simply and nicely transitioned. There are actors in this too… and the effects are good.

Yeah, another movie, and I don’t see this franchise disappearing just yet.


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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

La Walk

I went to see this in 3D, because there will be lots of shots from the top of the two towers, so let’s enjoy… not as impressive as I hoped.

This is the story of Philippe Petit, a tighrope walker from France. Seeing the two towers in construction, he is struck with the idea of walking a rope from one tower to the other. We follow him as he gets the dream, and strikes out on the idea. He gathers a group of conspirators, they go to America, and slowly put it together. And then there’s the Walk, and there’s no skimping on that.

I often saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt as JGL rather than as Philippe, but that’s fine. We get a fair bit of him talking to the audience, but in definite cut away shots. I would have liked to see that as part of the scene. And Ben Kingsley is in this! Did not know, but that’s fine. Otherwise there are a lot of fine French actors I know nothing about.

But the scenery should be a star, especially in 3D. I didn’t feel the depth, so that was disappointing. Mostly this was a post conversion (I haven’t checked) so that would explain that.

Decent movie, nice pay off with the actual Walk.


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Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Maui nearly became immortal if it wasn't for than Fantail...

Tania is a white Maori, who considers herself Maori if others don't. For example, the Regional Manager for the Horizon service station she works at, although he himself would be Maori, although he doesn't think he is. Anyway, she's spending her time at the graveyard shift, and worrying about her brother Pi. Pi goes off with 'bad friends' and gets into bad ways, and then comes to the confrontation with Tania...

This stars Sophie Henderson... and it's written by her too. This is very much a character piece, and it's well done. Although the set up is simple, we get more than enough to get engaged with what's going on, and when the ending happens... I won't say more.

So yeah, NZ films... go watch!

We also saw a short... and you can too!


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Monday, 9 November 2015

Doctor Who 9.08

Ye gods, they say never let the Doctor talk, and it's obvious why. The scenery won't survive.

This episode declines rapidly. We start with a mental confrontation (of course Clara can beat Bonnie, she's Special!), and a plane blowing up. Then the Doctor confronts some policemen... are they supposed to be Zygons? How did the Zygons get those officers there at that time? If not, they're just weird. And ultimately useless anyway. But then they reach the Black Archive, and it's talking, talking, talking all the way...

Hey, you want to know is Osgood is human or Zygon? Easy, the shapeshifters shapeshift clothing whenever they morph, so simply see if she can take a layer of clothes off. Or how about if she drinks Skarasen milk? Oh wait, that doesn't seem to be a thing any more (as Richard pointed out).

And then the ending... which is basically the end of Time of the Doctor again... so what was the point? Have we progressed anything? Has this story changed the nature of the universe or Earth or Human/Zygon relationships or... clearly not, if this is the 15th time, and clearly not as the end of the episode is in the same place as the beginning of the previous. Talk about your reset button.

So we could have skipped the entire two episodes? We should do that next time.

Next time: Didn't we just do a base under siege?


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Sunday, 8 November 2015


I didn't know about this book, but once I found out, of course I picked up the Terrahawks novelisation.

This is mostly a novelisation of a couple of episodes of Terrahawks, in particular Expect the Unexpected Part 1 and 2 and Happy Madeday. This is a pretty much straight forward novelisation, with only minor expansion on what's going on. We get descriptions of the various things unfolding as craft fly off, and a bit more about Tiger's thoughts, but not much else.

One part that fails is Hiro, he of the Spacehawk. On screen, he has an over the top Japanese accent, in particular he often says "Exactry". Except in this book the author writes it as "Exactly", so the point is lost. Which is worse when a character points hangs on him not being able to pronounce it correctly! And this is supposed to be a second edition, and yet it's clear it wasn't given a refined editor pass, as there are quite a few typos that stood to me while reading.

On the whole... just watch the episodes again.


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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Friday the 3th

Okay... this lot I will admit I was starting to get onside with Jason killing... but as this is the third movie in the 1980s... the 3D!!!!!

At some point you just have to start blaming people for coming anywhere near the place where there was mass murder and the murderer is still around. This time, a group of kids head up to a holiday cabin for some relaxing, and unfortunately Jason is around and back to his slasher ways. Some of these people are reasonable, but most are slowly moving in the 'annoying prat' range and yeah, come on Jason! This also sees the start of Jason in a hockey mask, previously used by another kid in a prank. Pro-tip: stay away from barns.

Now we are already devolving into generic slasher territory. After a five minute repeat of the previous movie's end (similar to what the last movie did), we get a new shot of Jason getting up and taking the machete used on him for himself. Machete... hockey mask... we got us an icon!

Now, they do try to have some kind of character growth, but that is quickly thrown away when the people get near Jason. It's like the movie wants to be a slasher, but isn't quite ready to commit. And there's a hint at the end that the mother might still be around?

Still, next time, we have the Final Chapter... yep, that'll be it.


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Friday, 6 November 2015

Lois & Clark 1

I think I saw about three episodes of this when it first screened, so there's a lot to catch up with. It's the New Adventures of Superman!

We start with Clark turning up in Metropolis and eventually landing a gig at the Daily Planet. There are a few accidents and such happening, and so a mysterious savior also appears at the same time. (It's all right, all he needs to do it take off his glasses... the pilot makes a moment of it, but doesn't really sell it right.) And from then on the action is on... and by action, for the first season, we get a number of science used for evil devices and the odd bad guy plotting to do bad things. There's no sign of any other super powered thing, so it feels very banal.

There are a few episodes that go into the history of Superman, with the arrival of Kryptonite, and an egg thing that spends an episode giving backstory (with David Warner as Jor-El). But that's about it.

Dean Cain is fine as the man of steel, Teri Hatcher is a little too whiny in about... every appearance. Tracey Scoggins is a great Cat Grant (given the movies never refer to her, does this mean the new Supergirl series is set in this universe?). Lane Smith is great as Perry White, and we have Michael Landes as Jimmy Olsen who comes across as... wet. Then there is John Shea as Lex Luthor, oh he seems to be having fun... and smoking a lot of cigars.

One moment I like about the pilot is that at the end Superman turns up in Lex's place and basically says "You're the bad guy, but I can't touch you currently, but I do have my eye on you." No long term mystery is played out, straight to being the bad guy. And their dynamic means I don't believe the end moment of the first season at all.

Three more seasons, let's hope some more super action takes place.


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Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Failnix Incident

Hey, let's set up an elaborate conspiracy involving aliens around an incident that happened in the past... what is this, Doctor Who?

Back in 1997 there were lights over Phoenix... so let's take footage from that, and set up a story which follows four men who went missing. At last the airforce are explaining what's going on, and yes, it's basically aliens. Which are now running around on the world and are about to hit major urban centres so everyone will know about them.

This features shaky cam... a lot of shaky cam, because it's also found footage. There are also backlit people delivering secrets and reaction shots of family members who just want to know what happened. The disappearance of one of them is apparently the longest ever missing person case... which is straight up rubbish, but they make the point often, so I'm also going to refer to it. Amidst all this is repeated footage of the lights themselves (which are just a diversionary tactic from the real alien craft, donchano?). Just because the 1997 footage is bad quality doesn't mean we need the rest of it to be also horrendous (but of course it is, and it does add a touch of realism... and nausea while watching it).

They tried, but didn't succeed.


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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Love a lantula

Take Volcano, and mix it with Arachnoquake, what do you get? Did you say a movie no-one wants to see? Well, here it is!

Steve Gutenberg is a has been actor that was famous in the past, but now ends up in terrible movies trying to reclaim that past… his character is, I mean, his character. As is standard for disaster flicks, we have our “hero” trying to get to his family (son in this case), who is mixed up in stupid activities of his own. This movie gets very metatextual, but that doesn’t make it good. We get cameo from Sharknado dude, we get people dressed up in various costumes dying in laughingly ironic ways, and lots of running and jumping from explosions. Now, the movie does try to take itself seriously, but that includes saying the word “Lavalantula” with a straight face, which I just cannot take.

Check out the actors in this. Aside from Steve Guttenberg, we got Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Carlos Bernard, Danny Woodburn, and a slew of others I’m sure I recognised. Even the spiders look like they were brought out of New Reckoning.

This wants to be meta and funny as well as serious… and you get what you’d expect considering this is SyFy.


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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Gerhard Richter - Painting

Gerhard Richter is a famous painter... although I can't say I've heard of him before. Still, this is about him, painting. Yep. This is Gerhard Richter - Painting.

Aside from some insert clips of earlier, we are basically with Richter in 2009 as he prepares various exhibitions. In particular, we see him in the painting process, the full process where we see him picking paint and painting it on, and using squeegees. Although he isn't entirely comfortable with being filmed while painting, which I can understand when the camera is about a foot from you. We also go to different exhibitions and see his art in place.

As I said, he is a famous painter, so I'm sure there are people really wanting to see the genius at work. However, for me... his art isn't really something that speaks to me, so I was just watching someone put paint on a canvas, which is, to me, about as exciting as it sounds.

I do like documentaries, but can't say I'm going to come back to this one.


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Monday, 2 November 2015

Doctor Who 9.07

Yep, it is a sequel. I didn't know that it was going to be that explicit a sequel, but there you go.

We start with the return of everyone's loved character, Osgood. Wait... is she loved? Or is she just a natural fan attractor because of how her character was set up to worship the Doctor? Either way, she's around... and I vaguely remember her. Then we get a running joke with the Doctor calling Clara which pays off as... actually, it doesn't pay off, and we can only hope they never mention it again. But fortunately there are Zygons! Who now have amazing powers of telepathy or something? And can contradict previous establish canonical history because it makes the story better? Um... sure. (Except that it doesn't.)

Tell me... are the kids enjoying this? I know I seem to keep going on about who are these episodes for, but in this case, are the kids at the edges of their seats wondering who will turn out to be a Zygon next? Perhaps their parents will turn on them, capture and duplicate them! That's great television, that is!

And then the big twist of Clara already is a Zygon named Bonnie (that's what it sounded like to me). Ohh... gasp? Of shock? Admittedly it is about the only interesting thing to be done with her character this season. You know what would have actually entertained me? If some of the Zygons turned up looking like the past Doctors! That would have been great! Never gonna happen of course, and that would bring about comments about field lasers.

Despite the broad world spanning nature of this, it still feels budget and that they filmed in at a farm next door (which they probably did). I can't bring myself to care about these characters, and so their being under threat doesn't bother me. And since we never saw the missile hit the plane, we already know how that's going to go long before we see the trailer for next week.

Next week: What's in the box? What's in the box?


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Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Hungry Games

I had this book read to me, and it’s definitely better than one (cynical and jaded) might think. Note: This post will talk about all three books in one go, so spoilers beware.

Katniss is just a young girl that is incapable of recognising love. So her worst nightmare comes true when she is put into an awkward position where that is the central premise around her survival. Oh, and she’s also in an arena in which other young kids are trying to kill you, but that’s secondary.

After surviving that… how unfortunate for the love angle to keep going on, and… yep, she’s back in another arena. Wow, that’s unlikely. Fortunately, after that, she’s able to be with her true love… which, it turns out, is herself, but at least she’s not in another arena. Oh wait. And then it goes all dark as people die. There’s no happy ending here.

Okay, I’ll give that these are interesting characters, but a basic set up of this story is that Katniss is not in touch with her emotions, and angsts about every death she’s even semi-responsible for. Hey, she’s a young adult!

Still, the journey was more interesting than the arrival, and, I’m gonna say it, I think Snow won in the end.

A good set of books.


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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Friday the 2th

Here we go. Jason, hockey mask, and machete killing everyone for... hang on, still not there.

Near Crystal Lake, a group of camp counsellors are getting together for counsellor training, and for some reason Jason decides to come back and kill them all. Even less sex than last time! And Jason's just wearing a sack on his head too.

We start with the Final Girl of the last movie being killed, so that was good that she survived for a great comeback. The Final Girl here shows quite a bit of determination and genius, taking on the role of Jason's mother to keep him at bay.

But why is Jason on a rampage? They aren't at Crystal Lake, and it appears the events of the last movie (released the previous year) was five years ago, to let Jason grow up a bit. But it feels more like "we need a slasher to slash people... off you go!" rather than any real reason. Why tie it into a franchise?

So Jason isn't a punishment yet.


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Friday, 30 October 2015

Kitchen Nightmares

Before he was causing hell in hotels, Gordon Ramsey was suffering Kitchen Nightmares.

Each episode he would visit a different restaurant that was having problems, and then over the course of the week he would encounter one problem after another, until finally on the last day they managed to pull something together to be workable. And then he'd pop back a while later to see if they succeeded (usually) or not (some times).

Basic reality TV format, with the foul mouth chef providing some fun for the viewers as he cusses out various owners. The kitchen usually needed to follow the rule of "smaller menu", as it was typically bloated, so that's a good thing. And the rest of the place might need a whipping to get the staff into order too.

The box set I had was three seasons, and a sort of 'revisit' season/extra disc. The revisit consists of the original episode, with more of a tacked on big about the follow up. Quite disappointing when you are watching them in a row like I was.

Still, there look to be an American version (still with Gordon complaining), so I might see about them some day...


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Thursday, 29 October 2015


Listen to this... and try to hear something without any man made machines around. Soundtracker tries to do just that.

Gordon Hempton is a sound recorder, and has been doing so for a while. What he likes to capture are the sounds of nature, the wind in the fields, the sounds of the birds, that sort of thing. But, more often than not, while he's doing so these days there's a train or an airplane, or something cutting through the soundscape. Eventually, there's a particular sound he wants to capture to encapsulate this, the sound of a bird and a train, together. We follow him as he tries to get this, until the final moment when it all comes together.

There is truth in this documentary, right now as I type this I can hear an airplane in the sky. Just trying to find peace and quiet can be quite an effort. Still... the movie does get heavy handed about hammering home that point at times. And then there's the incidental music. If ever there was a movie in which the natural sound should be playing, this is it.

Interesting, and provoking a few thoughts.


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Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Oh, finally got around to seeing the movie that stayed in the theatres for AGES.

The minions are in fact a race of creatures that... are minions! They find bosses and work for them. Eventually, three of them strike out to find a new boss, and encounter Scarlet Overkill. However, it doesn't work quite as nicely as they would hope, and they have to survive their new boss more than help her.

This is ninety minutes... and it feels longer. Not so much padded out as just going on and on without anything interesting happening. The characters aren't that interesting either. Gru immediately sold his screen presence, Scarlet's got... nothing. And the minions are just their usual babbling selves, not even slightly funny.

I gather this was an insanely popular movie, but not tickling my tastes.


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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A Raunting at the Hectory

Oh, a movie based on Borley Rectory? All right then, bring it on! [Oh, and standard disclaimer: the Rectory was demolished several decades ago, so don't bother the current residents.]

Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife Marianne are living at the Rectory, when new handyman Frank Pearless turns up. While Marianne finds comfort with Frank, some minor strange things start occuring, and then they find the dead bodies.

This is actually a three hander about a couple and a new man in their life, and it incidentally takes place at the most haunted house in England. The ghost/haunting aspect of it is really on the side line, and the focus of the story is about the relationships. In Borley history, there really were those people, and there was a relationship not that far from what's portrayed here, and there was a few strange incidents, but nothing like this.

I think the writer/director knew of Borley, and put together this play with... actors? using the haunted history as a hook. But definitely not for an actual story. This goes nowhere and does nothing with it. Still, looking at his credits, I've seen other movies of his which are about the same.


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Monday, 26 October 2015

Doctor Who 9.06

What was the point of this episode? There was one interesting character moment, but did we need this whole episode to get to that?

Oh look, it's the return of a character we never thought we would see again... except we all knew we would. And now we have another character that was around during the 20th century to account for. Does she know Torchwood? What about UNIT? Do those places know about her? Did she have a hand in any major events? Is she the Minister of War? (That last one... I doubt it.)

But that's all to come. First we have this quirky adventure. You can tell it's quirky because the house breaking into sequence is nothing but quirk, from the crawling around, to the just missing being spotted, to the music... oh, that quirky music.

Except, as I said, for the one character moment of Ashielda no longer remembering who she was, and the toll it takes on her mind and personality. (Although that never seemed to bother Captain Jack - and does mentioning him mean we get a cameo from John Barrowman? Unlikely as he's tied up in Arrow, but he could have popped over between seasons.) She's gone through hardship and now tries to cover over everything, but just can't quite get there. [And that other medical chip gets wasted pretty easily, and no I don't think we'll see that actor again, unless he's another famous person I don't recognise.]

This episode ends up being more set up than actually settling anything. And now we wait for the inevitable return.

Next Week: It's the sequel to The Time Of The Doctor everyone wanted!


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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Snow Crash

Another Neal Stephenson book, this one probably more well known. And it's definitely shorter, so that's better.

Hiro Protagonist and YT get involved with the search and use for a virus, an unusual one which can infect computers and people. It roves through different companies that control the country, and it comes down to a few brief moments to save everything.

So pros: an actual plot this time! Still lots of exposition, but in actual service of a story. Woo! And we get a different world that is fairly well realised, within its own limitation. And, as I said, it is shorter, which is great.

Two big cons however: Raven. He's the bad guy and seem to appear anywhere in the world or in computer space at less than a moments notice, and, of course, is 'super bad ass' so can't be dealt with only survived. A bit too author protected. And the other thing... this featured a lot of cyberspace... and I can't believe any of it. Cyberspace doesn't work like that. Moving around doesn't work like that. And objects don't interact like that. I just couldn't buy any action scene in the cyperspace environment.

Good in some ways, but so very late 80s in others...


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Saturday, 24 October 2015

Friday the 1th

[New movie series time... let's hit Jason and Freddy, in release movie order.]

Hey, it's that movie that's all about sex and teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake! Only... not at all.

It's the first day reopening of an old camp ground, so people have come together to help it up. But eventually they start getting murdered in horrible ways, what is going on? Is this a slasher come to revenge on them all?

Well, we know now, because people go on about it, that it's Jason's mother. But what people don't go on about is how we have a female serial killer! Even these days this isn't common. And we also don't get any kind of explanation until the end when we find out that some previous camp counsellors didn't look after the mom's kid (was it their job too?), the kid died and the mother went crazy. There isn't a lot of sex, it's just the mother going after people now that people are here.

However, we do get a Final Girl alive, and hints that the activities at Crystal Lake aren't over...


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Friday, 23 October 2015

First Big Bang

There was an earlier pilot of the Big Bang Theory and it got onto the net... and somehow I saw it.

It features roommates Leonard and Sheldon, getting money at the sperm bank. They then meet an attractive woman (not Penny), feed her and she stays at their place. Leonard and her have a bit of a spat and then they make up. The end.

Yeah... I can see there's a lot of things that need changing. The characters of Leonard and Sheldon are pretty much there, although Sheldon isn't quite insular enough. I'm not sure if Katie would have worked, but you have to admit they did well with Penny.

But the mainstay of the show is there. Namely putting on nerdface and being misogynistic. They've got that working perfectly.


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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Back and Forth To the Future

[I left it until today because of America and Time Zones.]

This will be going around on the internet if you haven't see it already, but 21 Oct 2015 is the day of hoverboards, self tying shoe laces, and faxes. Hmm... I don't think we quite got there....

But hey, there's a lot of time travelling, so maybe we're just in the wrong one? There are, after all, around seven different timelines. As found on the School of Movies Back to the Future podcasts.

  • Twin Pines: Where we start, McFly family is unhappy, Biff's in charge.
  • Lone Pine: McFly successful, Biff is a lackey. However, Marty and Jennifer will get into an automobile accident, because Marty ain't chicken. In the future, Marty Jnr is in trouble.
  • Just Say No: As above, but Marty Jnr doesn't go to jail, the others do.
  • Almanac: Old Biff gives the almanac to Young Biff, and we get dystopia 1985.
  • Storm: Book is burned. Marty is still on for the wreck, but then lightning hits the Delorean.
  • Shonash: Doc ends up in the past, saves Clara, but dies, making later/earlier Doc to send Marty back.
  • Eastwood: Doc saves Clara, Marty saves Doc, Marty no longer having chicken issues, Marty and Jennifer are back in the present, and Doc and Clara have a time travelling train.

Easy, eh?

It's all fun, just don't try to work it out too hard...


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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Iye Oragans

This movie has a small reputation as rather offensive to... religious people? Atheists? Eh, I'm not entirely sure.

A scientician is trying to definitively prove the evolution of the eye, because that will disprove god... or something. It's not something anyone really argues about anymore, but this movie seems to think its important. Anywho, his girlfriend dies, but fortunately he immediately gets another one. And then they have a kid. And the kid has eyes that exactly matches someone else... and apparently the kid also has emotional memories of this other person. Then the scientist goes on a search for the new kid version of his old girlfriend... reincarnation is real, science is wrong and god is real? I guess? Meh, it wasn't totally clear.

So it's a big thing about how evolution is turned upside down or something, but something about this movie (probably because it's not that good a movie) failed to click with me, and I just accepted this movie as taking place in a universe where reincarnation happens. In which case, finding proof of that just makes the scientist look like an idiot for doubting it for so long. So at least something in this movie comes across as foolish!

Not a great movie, and definitely not one to keep me awake at night with theological ponderings.


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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Eyes Without a Face

It's old movie horror... yep, I'm in there. Let's check out Eyes Without a Face (got no human grace).

A doctor with mad talents loves to graft bits onto other bits. His dream comes true when his own daughter is hideously disfigured in a car crash (when he was driving), and needs a new face. Currently, she interacts with the world through a mask (and involves really over emphasised head gestures to make the point that she's acting!). However, the doctor's assistant helps by kidnapping young ladies and then he whips their faces off to put on the daughter. Surely nothing can go wrong, especially when the police get involved! (And while they seem competent, they just don't get enough evidence that anything bad is happening. Huh.)

This is considered classic horror... and yet, while I was watching it, I kept thinking of the MST3K episode 'The Brain That Wouldn't Die', which came out two years later. And feature a very similar plot, only done stupidly because it was an American knock off. This, not so much scary, and even the scarred face make up wasn't frightening. But then I'm jaded and cynical.

Oh well, let's go out with a song:


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Monday, 19 October 2015

Doctor Who 9.05

I don't have any interest in Game of Thrones, so that Maisie Williams is in this and she's famous in that doesn't mean anything to me. Much like the rest of episode.

Hey, it's Vikings! But because we can't have a Pure Historical any more, it's also aliens! And the armour (which fortunately means they don't need to CGI in heads all the time) looks like a cross between the Judoon and the Sontarans. Actually I would have been more impressed if that's what they were, but instead they are the Maya or some such (I haven't looked the spelling up). A powerful force... that is ten guys in armour and one guy in cod cyberpirate. Production values!

In many ways this feels like a filler episode. Small village, the Doctor has to fend off an alien invasion, he finally comes up with a plan. Same as every other episode. But then someone dies, which fails to surprise anyone because we saw the episode title. Fortunately, there was a miracle plot device right near by to save her, so that's lucky! And I immediately caught the 'it will always repair her' line and consequences... and I'm guessing the other device will probably be used to save the Doctor or Clara?

Still, I am interested in that one moment where they acknowledge taking the face of an actual person. Not done since Destiny of the Daleks. However, why this happens... smacks of a return of the Time Lord Victorious. Careful, Moffat, no-one wants that.

Next Time: I have no idea who that Maisie Williams looking person in the mask is. No idea at all. (Please don't make that be a surprise moment in the episode.)


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Sunday, 18 October 2015


Another Neal Stephenson audiobook... and this one was around five years to listen to? Maybe, certainly felt like it went on and on.

The plot... not really. There are bits about crypto-analysis, and then there are bits about gold, and it takes place in two time settings... but it's hard to say there's anything going on. There's certainly people talking about things, because there are so many pages going by, but I can't say that exciting events are keeping me involved.

With this being speculative fiction, there's the line again between being something interesting to read to those who know something, and keeping other audiences entertained. Given this was over 15 years ago, and that I have some crypto knowledge anyway... I can't say that discussion kept me enthralled. And I don't see it appealing to a general audience either.

But then he's a popular seller, and I'm not.


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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Roocky Balboa

Sixteen years later, and I hope people wanted to follow up with Rocky’s life… and the numbers would say, yes they did.

We start this movie with extended amount of continuity referencing. Which sort of works for me because I’ve just been watching these movies, but on the other hand I don’t need reminding. Hopefully people who saw this did want reminding because there is certainly a lot of recapping of events going on. Rocky has a new place of work (unfortunately, he never recommends the rye or the kaiser), but the allure of boxing is still there. And like in the third movie, another would be champ wants a chance to fight him. The movie doesn’t pretend that Rocky will win, but we still get the montage and an extended fight sequence (although only 10 rounds now). And throughout it all Rocky remains upbeat.

This film is part nostalgia, part highlights of previous movies. While it is nice to catch up, I’m not really sure we needed to revisit him. His story was told in the previous five movies, and this isn’t adding much. Stallone still gives a good performance, but this comfy shoes territory.

Hopefully Creed will mix this up a bit. If we must go back, let’s go somewhere new.


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Friday, 16 October 2015

Lie to Me Troi

The final season, and it turns out to be a shorter season as well. And I can't say I'm surprised why.

This set of episodes doesn't really feel like it evolved a lot from the previous seasons. Yes, there are some character changes (with some very bad dialogue to cover it), but there's nothing different happening here. These episodes could easily have been in season one. Once you hit season three, you should be doing great stuff, really making the in bed audience happy... but there's nothing there.

It's some time since I saw the season, and there's just nothing impressive that comes to mind. I remember about... two character moments, but that's it.

No wonder it got cancelled.


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Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Marshion

Oh great, just what we need. Another movie with 'camera watches everything' footage trope. And then the movie isn't even consistent with having surveillance cameras and sometimes it's actual cameras. Which can be steady cam 'documentary' style, or can be fixed shot. Make yer damn mind up, movie!

So we start on Mars, with a small group of people. But rather than killing them off one by one, the movie makes the dramatic step of just isolating to one guy immediately. From then, it's 'let's scare the one guy time and again!', and you'd think he'd get used to it, but no, the movie keeps up the thrills of throwing another moment at him to deal with. There's the final battle where the guy finally has to get away, but then it's all about these other people, as if the movie forgets who the main person is!

So Matt Damon is, of course, on screen most of the time, and we have the moment when we can compare how he looks topless at the beginning of the movie and then after time has past (and that's not a body double, no, not at all), so that's a nice touch. For the other cast, I recognised them but didn't put names to them until I saw the credits, at which point it was 'oh, that's who that is!'

As for the adaptation... yeah, they cut a lot of the book out, but then they had to. You couldn't go into the detail, and I doubt the 'Hollywood executives' would let the film be too scientific so they wouldn't alienate the movie going audience (known to them as 'idiots'). I'm fine with that, but that means you should go read/listen to the book to really get the full experience if you liked the movie and haven't read that.

It's a different thing to the book, and looks nice, but I doubt it's going to stick around as something amazing.


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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Van Gogh

[This should have been yesterday's post. Oh well.] It's an indepth look into the final days of Vincent Van Gogh... yep, that's what it is.

We join Vincent as he goes to Auvers to a doctor, and spends his time there painting and not really getting along with people. (But getting the attention of young women of course.) And so time goes by... and then eventually, over two and a half hours later, we reach the end of the movie.

This is a 'slice of life' movie, which means that there's just stuff happening, and there doesn't need to be a plot, because this is just list. Isn't there a saying somewhere that says "this should be the most interesting point in the character's life"? Because this just goes on and on.

Yeah, no, not really.


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