Best Trailer Ever?

I thought “Snakes On A Plane” was pretty high-concept, but then Andy sent me a link to the trailer for “Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus”:

It’s worth it for the final shot alone!  Oh, and who is that slightly familiar leading man?  It’s only Renegade’s Lorenzo Lamas, that’s who.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 14/05/2009 at 8:45 am  Comments (4)  
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Bob’s 2009 gaming wish list

Si asked for it and here it is.  I’ve always got my finger on the gaming pulse and this year there’s plenty to throb for!  (By which i obviously mean your pulse.)

Batman : Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360) – If the videos are anything to go by this could well be the definitive Batman game.  There haven’t been many good ones, although the one on the Amiga was alright, but this has got everything.  A nigh on perfect voice cast (Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy provide the voices for Joker and Batman as per all decent animated versions of the two characters from the last two decades), gorgeous looking graphics, some very exciting looking gameplay, and a great back story (based on the Arkham Asylum graphic novel).

Prototype (Xbox 360) – Fighting as an amnesiac, genetically modified, free running killing machine in a busy city sounds like a lot of other games. Looking at it the protaganist resembles Altair from Assassin’s Creed, but his powers are like nothing i’ve seen in a game before.  A glorious looking mash-up of Incredible Hulk : Ultimate Destruction, GTA IV and Assassin’s Creed.

Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360) – All it needed was to just sound as good as the first one, but it looks like Bioshock 2 could be even better.  Playing as the prototype Big Daddy this time fighting against a grown-up little sister/uber Big Daddy with the added joy of mix and match plasmids!  Also, online multiplayer!!! Woo hoo!

Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360) – From Rockstar comes another massive world to explore, this time set in the (wicky wah wah) Wild West.  Looks gorgeous and hopefully will play great as well.

Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360) – Although probably restricted and on multiple disks on the Xbox 360, if it’s anywhere near as awesome as Final Fantasy X on the PS2 was, then this will be a joy.  Early FMV footage looks INCREDIBLE.

DC Universe Online (PC) – Fight alongside Batman against Lex Luthor.  Use super speed to run up a building to join Superman in a fight against Doomsday.  This might be the first MMO i get.  Maybe.

Ghostbusters (Xbox 360) – With a story penned by the original cast, starring the original cast – except Sigourney – and with hopefully good online co-op and a good gameplay mechanics, it could be a unique movie/gaming crossover experience.

Call Of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360) – Little is known of this, except that some of it’s likely to be set in snowy conditions judging by early footage.  Hopefully it will have the same great online gameplay and maybe some online co-op as well.

Infinite space (DS) – A DS game that sounds like it ticks many of the right boxes for me.  A space strategy JRPG with a wealth of customisability in terms of both the ship you fly and the crew you lead spanning two galaxies there should be plenty to do.  No idea what the gameplay mechanic will be like, but i’m hoping for something that will make good use of the stylus and maybe be in realtime.

Scribblenauts (DS) – If you can think of it, and it isn’t rude, you can use it in this game.  Solve puzzles your own way.  Brilliantly playing to the DS’ strongest points, a very simple and potentially endless puzzle solving game.

Moving Notepad (DSi Ware) – Not really a game but a free application exclusively for DSi.  Unfortunately we’re still waiting for Nintendo Europe to get their act together and set up the infrastructure for it, but this is a basic tool that sounds like a lot of fun.  It’s just a basic animation package and it’s free.  Hopefully when we get it, there’ll also be the feature to send your animations to people as well as to post them to the online theatre! 🙂

[Edit]  Sacred 2 : Fallen Angel – This game moved onto my gaming radar recently.  It’s reviews aren’t great but it falls into a category that i’m fairly sure will make it a win for both myself and Michelle.  Local co-op.  Not only that but with a relatively decent camera – ish – and plenty of hack’n’slash action.  It’s also got local co-op online, if you know what i mean, which opens the window to further winnery.


Posted by Bob

Published in: on 13/05/2009 at 6:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Dark Side Of DLC

I love Fallout 3.  It’s exactly the sort of game I can really get into, combining a great story, FPS-style action and my teenage love of role-playing.  It also represents one of the best value purchases I’ve ever made for the XBox as I racked up about 90 hours of play on my first play through and yet now, as I go back and play it again, I’m still discovering whole areas I missed the first time round.  Not bad for £29.99.  So it’s not entirely surprising that after a year and a half of avoiding the so called “Expansion Packs” available I finally cracked and downloaded the “Operation Anchorage” DLC for it.  After all, if the exchange rate is consistent, I should get at least 20 hours play for my £6.50, right?

The basis of Operation Anchorage is that you follow a radio single to a bunker not far from the town of Megaton where you discover a group called the Outcasts.  These guys ask you to enter a simulated world where you’ll recreate the US Liberation of Alaska from the Chinese, an important milestone in the backstory leading up to the main Fallout 3 game.  What follows is 4 hours of gameplay which manages to do away with everything that makes the main game great.  First off, they take away all your weapons, armour and equipment which you’ve spent the previous 90 hours collecting and carefully selecting.  Then they place you in a linear story mode with no choices, no scope for exploration and the same bad guy to defeat over and over again.  They even give you a squad of soldiers for a lot of it who you can’t direct other than to say “Wait here” or “Attack”, and even when I said “Wait Here” they still just attacked anyway, so if you want you can just sit back and wait for them to kill everyone for you.  Then, when you finally get to the big finale, you say one sentence to the bad guy and then the simulation finishes!  Rubbish!  The only good thing about the DLC is you do get some cool armour and a groovy new weapon out of it, but if you’re playing it after you’ve completed the main game then that’s kind of academic anyway.

In short, I wasn’t impressed and it’s annoying because I’ve avoided expansion packs up until now for exactly this reason.  I actually downloaded all 3 lots of DLC for Fallout 3 at once, costing me almost £20, and if the others are like this one I’ll have finished them by the end of the week.  That’s £20 I’ve spent on a game which so far hasn’t really given me anything new and offers no multi-player opportunities which would otherwise extend the lifetime of the game.  For £15 I could have gone out and bought something like “Civilisation: Revolution” which would no doubt have given me at least 25 – 30 hours of single player fun plus unlimited multi-player games.  There are literally dozens of new games I’d like to try, many of which I could try for free by borrowing them off you lot, so where’s the sense in shelling out for a couple of extra hours on a game I’ve already spent far too much of my life on?  From now on I think I’ll stick to whole games, extra multi-player options or free DLC only.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 13/05/2009 at 9:45 am  Comments (2)  
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Pant-wettingly Good Beer

Last night I went to the Porterhouse pub in Covent Garden, a drinking establishment which I have been going to, albeit very infrequently, for the last 7 or 8 years.  I think it was Liv, Rob or Ramin that introduced me to it back in the days when I used to finish work at 2pm on a Friday and would then jump on a train up to town for a few drinks with the high flyers.  I even went there for my birthday one year, probably 2002 or thereabouts, when Steve famously threw up on the train on the way home.

Anyway, last night was the first time I can remember going there when it wasn’t busy and it was great.  In order to fully understand how much of a difference it made you have to appreciate just how busy The Porterhouse gets.  Imagine a pub the size of a large cinema auditorium that spans 5 floors, has 4 bars and a series of staircases resembling an M.C. Escher drawing.  Now fill that pub with so many people that the queue at each bar is 4 or 5 people deep and moving anywhere within the pub requires so much effort that you’d rather wet yourself than try and get to the toilet.  That’s exactly what it’s been like on my previous visits, although I should point out that I did manage to bulldoze my way to the loo when necessary.  So when I got their last night and discovered that I could walk freely around the pub and get served within 5 minutes of going to the bar it was great!

So, I guess you may be asking yourself why I kept going back to somewhere that made drinking such a pain in the proverbial?  In one word, beer.  Or, in 5 words, a sh*t load of beer!  It’s one of those pubs that has a 2 page food menu and then a 20 page beer menu.  They’ve got pretty much every country covered and however much of a beer nut you are there’s going to be a few new ones for you to try.  Admittedly you’ll pay a premium for them and these days you can pick up quite a few of them in the supermarket (why would you pay £4.50 for a bottle of Wells’ Bananabread Beer when you can get for £1.69 in Tescos?) but if you’re willing to experiment you might just find something special.  As well as the bottles they’ve also got a pretty varied selection of draught beer, most of which seems to be brewed specially for them, which covers the entire range from dark porter to light continental lager.  Its better value than the bottles but still not cheap, then again what pub in Covent Garden is?  However, last night they did have 3 beers on special offer, including a very nice ale called “Clotworthy Dobbin” (5%) for only £2.50 a pint.

So, if you’re in the area and fancy something different I’d recommend popping in, but if it’s a Friday night be prepared for long waits, throngs of people and slightly damp pants.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 12/05/2009 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bob’s music of the year 2008

I don’t think this is going to be quite as rambly-rambly as previous efforts from myself. It’s been an odd old year musically. I’ve very much got back into metal again in a major way and definitely gig of the year was seeing Iron Maiden at Twickenham. A lot of the other bands were just background to drinking, but seeing the ‘den was a real killer experience.

This year my music buying has increased immensely again, but I’ve not been keeping a record of what I’ve got. In an odd way this helps, there are several albums that just spring to mind immediately and this list will cover the best, or at least most memorable, of them.

These 7 aren’t really in any particular order, they aren’t my very favourite albums though. Those 4 are at the bottom in ascending order…

Fortress by Protest The Hero : Insane prog/hardcore/metalcore/rock noodling. Like an epileptic Dragonforce. So much of this just sounds like nonsense on paper, but as a guy in a record shop said to me once when I bought another one of their albums “it doesn’t sound like it should work, but it really does”. Amen brother.

Precambrian by Ocean : This album will make you love Death Metal. Seriously. (As long as you already quite like metal anyway.) An album of two halves, the one half is very harsh and violent – but surprisingly varied, the other is almost serene with orchestras and acoustic tracks.

The Blackening by Machine Head : Never really got the appeal of this band, but this is something else. Like a souped up Vulgar Display-era Pantera, these guys truly metal hard. (Was going to say “rock hard” but it’s just not a hard enough descriptor.)

The way of the flesh by Gojira : Another album from these rather cerebral Gallic metallers. This one – unlike “From Mars to Sirius” which had an environmentalist theme – is all about death. In a thoughtful enough way.

Dystopia by Midnight Juggernauts : If ELO is a hypnotist whose bowtie spins round, Midnight Juggernauts is an evil hypnotist.

Oracular Spectacular by MGMT : Slightly bizarre Bowie-ish by way of electronica. Quite summery and light and bouncy and fun.

Sounds of silver by LCD Soundsystem : If not for “Get Innocuous” – as featured in GTA IV’s ad campaign – then for all the other excellent tracks. Perhaps even the self-deprecating “North American Scum” alone. Best line – “You might think we’re from England, but we’re not. We are North American Scum.”

These four are my definite faves :

4) You have no idea what you are getting yourself into by Does it offend you yeah?

Found it’s way into my car stereo only two weeks ago. And it’s lived both there and on my MP3 player since. More electro stuff (pop/rock/glitch/nu rave *ugh*) but awesomely done. Sometimes hard and crunchy, sometimes evoking memories of choice 80’s pop. Very good. I can easily listen to it all the way through over and over.

3) Dear Science by TV on the Radio

If just for “Halfway Home” and “Love Dog”. They continue their upwards descent and I believe every one of their albums has cropped up on a “music of the year” list of mine now. This one is no exception. They are not your normal pop band.

2) The chemistry of common life by ****ed up

Awesome, mind blowing hardcore. A bit of pop, some odd instruments, and some totally bum-ripping RAWK. The lead singer is Cookie monster with anger management issues. The riffs are excellent. Oh and there’s a rather odd religious theme on it. It’s not preachy and it’s not anti, it’s just some of the songs are about religious characters in non-judgemental ways a bit like…

1) Hlllyh by The Mae Shi

This album is awesomely odd. Or oddly awesome. Or both. Anyway it’s great. All of the songs clock in at no longer than 3 minutes long and most are 2 minutes. Except one that’s over 10 minutes. Like an electronic Blood Brothers or something else. A load of songs all with again an odd religious theme. It’s rare that I find myself repeating lyrics like “Open up their eyes and let them know I’m very close to them, and Nothing will be left behind, and They’ve got something to fear. God is very near.”

Posted by Bob

Published in: on 12/05/2009 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Amish Bob and Andy Pie

To kick the Eating section off, here is a recipe for a pie.  I have no idea why it is called what it is called but I loved the name,  the fact that you make the pie “quiver” and the final declaration!


This recipe comes from which is one of the recipe groups at


1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Beat all ingredients together very well and pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell.
  • Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. Pie will quiver. The top will be puffed up when you remove the pie from the oven and will fall down after it has cooled.

Makes 1 pie


Posted by Si

Published in: on 12/05/2009 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Si’s Games Review of 2008

Here is my review of my favourite games of 2008. It’s split into single-player and multi-player sections just because I find them quite different experiences and some games are far better at one than the other:

Single Player Top 6

Oblivion – No surprise to most people here. Still the best single player game I’ve experienced on the Xbox 360. After 180 hours of play I still haven’t explored every part of the map or done every mission and had there not been lots of other games I wanted to play I’d probably still be playing it now. For one of the first 360 games that came out it still looks stunning and puts a lot of the newer games to shame in that respect. Can’t wait to try Fallout 3.

Guitar Hero – Are you adequately prepared to rock!?! I couldn’t really separate GH3 and World Tour, so I’m going to cheat and count them as one entry. I put off getting this for over a year but eventually caved in and am glad I did. I get a huge amount of satisfaction when I manage a particularly difficult song and if I find a tune I really like playing I can belt it out dozens of times without getting bored. Customised characters, better graphics and better band animation have all improved the later version, but I actually prefer the gig structure in the former. GH2 is a bit poor by comparison.

Bioshock – I’ve played my fair share of FPSs and this one was completely different from any other one I’ve tried. Creepy, atmospheric, absorbing and with a great story line that really made you want to keep playing to find out what was going to happen next. I loved everything about the design of the game too. Only bad thing I can think to say about it is that it wasn’t quite long enough, but I did play it twice through in the short time I had it.

Lost Odyssey – Satisfied my craving for a JRPG while I wait for Final Fantasy to come out and ended up taking up a lot more time that I had expected. Definitely not for everyone but it had a good story and I really grew to like and care about the characters despite some initial worries that it was going to be a thoroughly depressing game. It was also tricky enough that I couldn’t beat every boss first time but not so hard that I couldn’t work it out after a few tries.

GTA IV – I hadn’t really thought about it before I read Rob’s e-mail, but I think he might be right about it not being as good as San Andreas. Maybe the months of build up from a certain someone didn’t help? Still, it’s certainly a very good game and there were definite improvements in the combat and driving systems from GTA:SA. I did get absorbed by the story (a common theme in my Top 10) but once I had completed that I found I had no desire to re-visit the game, which surprised me. I was also quite disappointed with the multi-player.

Fable 2 – A kind of “Oblivion Lite” with a lot more humour and less b*ggering about with armour and swords. I liked the way all the characters in the game responded to your actions, both at the time and then later on when your cumulative actions start to define your personality, and there are some great little touches in there. It’s a shame the world itself was so linear and you were forced to always travel to the same points on the map then walk along the same path fighting exactly the same bad guys at each corner.

Honourable Mentions

Dead Rising – I really, really enjoyed mucking about with this and even now if I play it I discover new ways to kill zombies with random objects. I did like the story too but found the constant time limits quite restricting for my style of play.

Portal – Absolutely inspired idea and just when you think it’s going to get a bit repetitive and boring it splats you in the face with a massive cake of fun. Best end of game song ever too.

Gears of War/COD4/Halo 3/Gears of War 2/Half Life 2: Episode 2 – Sadly there was only room for 1 FPS in my Top 6 so all these had to drop out. In years gone by any one of these might have ended up being my favourite game of the year, so it’s testament to the quality of stuff on the Xbox that they’re down here. The original GoW deserves kudos for being the game that made me want to get the 360 in the first place and, while it was almost identical in execution, Gow2 was also good fun. Halo 3 was the first game I completed after buying my Box and is certainly breathtaking in parts, but sadly it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. COD4 was very good but didn’t really come into it’s own until I started playing multi-player. Half Life 2: E2 was okay but I still prefer the original.

Crackdown – I loved the running-jumping-climbing aspects of this game but sadly the driving parts were quite poor and the missions became very repetitive after a while.

Assasins’ Creed – Like Crackdown, I liked the feel of the game and also the combat system is good, but the missions really are repetitive. Plus the present day story was just getting interesting when it all finished.


Back in the days of 56k modems and internet bills charged by the minute, I used to be really jealous of those people who somehow managed to play Team Fortress over the internet as it looked like the most fun you could ever have on your own. Even when I finally did get to have a go and discovered that the lag was so bad that you had to shoot where someone would be in 5 minutes time, I still really enjoyed it. Yet bizarrely when I got my Xbox 360 it several months of badgering from my peers before I signed up for Live. It’s now a few weeks before my 1 year anniversary (I signed up on New Years Day) and it’s seems amazing to me that anyone could have an Xbox and not be online! What still surprises me even a year later is, with a few exceptions, just how smooth an experience it is playing with up to 20 other people all over the world. Things have come a long way since I sat in my tiny loft room at Uni 10 years ago trying to snipe someone who appeared to teleporting around the room. Still, some things don’t change and there’s a distinct theme running through my Top 5 multi-player games…

(1) Call Of Duty 4 – Easily wins the #1 spot for sheer number of hours spent playing it, the wide array of games types available and a great rewards scheme that really made you want to play just one more game so you could unlock that better assault rifle. Also, no longer were you restricted to choosing one of 5 pre-configured soldier types and could instead completely customize your character with weapons and different abilities, choosing exactly the right set-up for each game type available. Yes, as Sam said, when you start playing you do get the proverbial kicked out of you on a very regular basis, but then you get better and you start winning games and it becomes a really enjoyable experience. I would flit between all the different game types and liked all of them for different reasons. In addition to playing with random people I also really enjoyed playing private games with you guys even if I did find it hard to change my play so that I didn’t wipe out all the less experienced players and make them not want to play with me again. The only real downside to the game was the lack of vehicles and the attitude of some of the other online players.

(2) Left 4 Dead – I don’t really need to say much about this as everyone’s already done the job for me. It’s testament to its appeal that Adam told me on Sunday that he’s probably going to buy an Xbox after he’s finished his book because he played the L4D demo at Ian’s. As Sam said, it could really do with a few more levels, especially in Versus mode, and a couple of more interesting weapons would be nice. I have to say that I haven’t found it as scary and tense as Bob (not that I’m saying Bob is scary and tense) and haven’t been absorbed into it in the same way as I did with games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but it’s just really good fun and nice to play a game where you actually have to work as a team. I’ve not really tried it with random people yet though so its appeal is currently limited to when my friends are online.

(3) Halo 3 – Banshees, Wraiths and Warthogs, oh my! It’s funny because there was a time when I used to get frustrated that everyone wanted to play Halo instead of COD but then when we do play Halo I definitely laugh more than I do in any other multi-player game. I put this down to the inclusion of vehicles, there’s just something really funny about having someone on the opposite team leap onto the back of your buggy and then driving them around for a while, or launching yourself out of a man cannon and hi-jacking someone else’s Banshee in mid-air. I actually think it will be even better now that we can have party chat and continue to talk to each other while we play rather than only being able to hear your own team. I also think it was a great idea to let you design your own levels or play the Forge mode where anyone can drop a vehicle into the level on a whim. For a while back in January and February, before I got COD4, I did play it online quite a bit and there really is a staggering array of game types on offer so I feel like I didn’t really brush the surface. However, as has been well documented, I didn’t enjoy the big team games with random people very much, but in terms of mucking around for a few hours with you guys it is still great.

(4) Gears of War 2 – I have a funny feeling that if L4D hadn’t come out and a few more people had got GoW2 this might be a bit higher up the list. I was really getting into this and I still feel that if we could get 4 or 5 of us playing Horde together it wouldn’t be that dissimilar to the feel of L4D. After all, you all have to work together to survive, if someone gets knocked down you have to quickly revive them before they die, you’re faced by wave after wave of nasty monsters and so on. However, it also has a much wider array of weapons, a really good cover system and some nice little touches like proximity grenades and moveable shields. Plus the graphics are better. I’m really disappointed that Sam sent the game back to Lovefilm without even trying it once because I think if he’d played it with us he would have seen what I mean. Then again I get the feeling he had already decided he didn’t like it before he’d played it. Anyway, that’s only one of the many different online modes you can play and I reckon that when I get round to playing it again it could well keep me going for quite a while.

(5) Rainbow Six Vegas – This was pretty good fun to play together but for whatever reason I just never seemed to get stuck into it. It just didn’t feel quite right and I think the relatively poor graphics and animation didn’t help. However, playing through the missions in co-op was a laugh and if it weren’t for the other games on this list I think it would have got more of an airing.

Honorable Mentions

Crackdown – I tried playing this once with Giles and once with Bob and both times it was a good laugh, but we didn’t actually “do” anything. We just ran around, crashing cars, blowing stuff up and seeing if we could set up ramps on top of other ramps and fling our cars over buildings. An enjoyable couple of hours but nothing more.

GTA IV – Pretty much exactly the same experience as Crackdown. We’d get a couple of people on line and then just p*ss about until everyone got bored and went and played something else. I cracked and paid full price for this game purely on the basis that everyone would be playing online together for months to come, yet I’ve probably spent less than 10 hours on the multi-player mode. I don’t think it helped that setting up a game is completely baffling and even when you do work out how to do it once you can’t remember next time you play. A real shame as it had such massive potential.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 12/05/2009 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Si’s Films Of The Year 2008

To kick things off, here is my review of 2008 in film, as written back in December.

Horror:  Not a bad year but my selection was limited by missing the vast majority of Frightfest.  “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” was probably the best of the rest, a good ‘stab’ at an old fashioned slasher which isn’t ashamed to kill off the promiscuous teens.  “The Stangers” was also very creepy and quite tense but I didn’t really care enough about the victims.  “The Cottage” was a fun comedy-horror with some really gruesome effects.  “Diary Of The Dead” was mostly disappointing with only a couple of hilarious highlights featuring a Amish farmer.

Comedy: I watched “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” again last weekend and while I didn’t find it as funny the second time around it was still very likeable and I now fancy Meg from Family Guy.  “Tropic Thunder” had some great moments and Tom Cruise was brilliant.  “Semi-Pro” was pretty poor and should have made more use of Woody Harrelson’s comedy abilities rather than relegate him to straight man.  “Be Kind Rewind” wasn’t really a comedy in the end and I didn’t even find the “Sweded” films that amusing.  Plus, having watched the film, I still have no idea where the term “Sweded” comes from!

Action: “Iron Man” was briefly in the Top 10 but lost out at the last minute.  It was really good fun but I wish I had seen it at the cinema with some of you guys rather than at home with Jack.  “Wanted” was highly entertaining but completely ludicrous and I once again briefly fancied Angelina Jolie.  “Doomsday” was good fun too but it veered all over the place and had some extended periods where nothing much happened.  “Jumper” was really promising for the first hour but then lost it at the end and was a complete anti-climax.

Drama(ish): “In The Valley Of Elah” was very good but, as with all Tommy Lee Jones films these days, you really have to persevere with it, “Penelope” was very sweet and Christina Ricci is still cute, but it’s definitely a kids film.  “Son of Rambow” was okay, but not quite what I was expecting.

Dishonourable mention: “The Happening”.  This film actually made me quite angry.  I’ve spent the last few years defending M. Night Shamalamadingdong and trying to persuade people that films like “The Village” and “Lady In the Water” are actually good.  After seeing the trailers I was hoping that this film would make everyone else realise that I was right and they were all wrong and for the first 15 minutes or so everything was going to plan.  Then it turns into a total and utter pile of sh*t!  What on Earth was he thinking?!?  And how did he manage to make normally good actors turn in performances so incredibly wooden.  Look at this picture:  Both these people wear those exact expressions for the entire chuffing film!  Whilst running away from the wind and talking to pot plants!!  RUBBER pot plants!!!  Occasionally a mad old women turns up and shouts the plot at the other characters just in case, like the audience, they’ve given up caring.  At one point a small child gets shot in the face and I actually felt jealous of him.  Some films are so bad they’re good, this film is so awful they should start one of those lists on the internet so that the general public can look up the people involved and then refuse to live near them.  In short, I wasn’t a fan.

Now back to the good ones:

(10) Walk Hard – I saw it twice this year, once on my own and then again with other people, and laughed a lot both times.  Brilliantly silly, especially the bits with The Beatles and the Bob Dylan impression.  Some of the best comedy songs of recent years too, you can’t really argue with lyrics like “Let me hold you Midget man, so the dog will stop licking your face.”  The best out-and-out comedy of the year.

(9) Definitely, Maybe – I know that as a single man I’m not supposed to sit at home and watch rom-coms, but I’d heard good things about this and I’m a big fan of Ryan Reynolds who, as I said to Liv, is the most likeable man in films.  I really enjoyed it, all the female characters (played by Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks and the brilliant Abigail Breslin) were also really likeable and I’m not too proud to admit that I did have a little cry…twice!

(8) Cloverfield – The second best shaky camcorder horror film of the year.  A cool idea which was well executed with a great monster and a likeable cast.  It’s almost the norm these days in this sort of film to not bother explaining anything that is going on, but in this instance it really worked to the film’s advantage.  I also liked the way it got going pretty sharpish rather than have loads of build up with the monster only showing up in the last couple of minutes.

(7) Quantum of Solace – Despite not being as good as Casino Royale I still really enjoyed this follow up.  Some of the set pieces were excellent and you really believe that Daniel Craig is capable of all the things he does in the film.  People have complained it’s too much like the Bourne films but I don’t see why that’s a bad thing.  I didn’t really rate Gemma Arterton as a Bond girl though.

(6) [REC] – The best shaky camcorder horror film of the year.  Really creepy with a very tense last 10 minutes or so, if you like playing Left 4 Dead you’ll enjoy watching this.  I’m yet to watch a film that satisfactorily explains why people continue to film themselves in life threatening situations, but at least in this one it doesn’t seem completely ridiculous.

(5) No Country for Old Men – A weird film and I can’t really explain why I liked it, but I did.  I never really know what to expect with the Coen brothers’ films and sometimes I love them and other times I’m really not fussed.  I think it all comes down to the characters and in this film they were all really well done.  All of them had something likeable about them, even those that should have been pretty abhorrent.  I definitely need to watch it again to be able to do a better review.

(4) Juno – For the first 5 minutes I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this but fortunately it settled down and I did.  It was funny, sweet, charming and reminiscent of another of my favourite American Indie films, “Garden State”.  Not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I’ve just got it on DVD and I can see it becoming one of those films I watch every now and again to cheer myself up.

(3) Gone Baby Gone – In comparison this is not one of those films I’m likely to watch over and over again, but it is a very good movie.  Casey Affleck is excellent and fortunately a lot less mumbly than he was in Jesse James, and the supporting cast are all very good too, especially Ed Harris.  The plot keeps you guessing throughout and I was unpleasantly surprised by the ending which, without giving anything away, really makes you wonder how you would act in the same situation.  Not the easiest film to watch, but definitely worth it.

(2) In Bruges – The surprise of the year for me.  When I saw the trailers I really thought I wouldn’t like it, but after some positive reviews and recommendations from you guys I watched it and absolutely loved it.  A couple of glasses of wine probably helped matters, but even so I never expected Colin Farrell to have me in stitches one second and then feeling utterly devastated the next.  Brendan Gleeson is also excellent and despite being a lighter version of Ben Kingsley in “Sexy Beast”, Ralph Fiennes is brilliant too.  “You’re a f*$king inanimate object!”.  Then there’s the dog who nearly made me choke on my cheese, not to mention the stuff about midgets.

(1) The Dark Knight – It’s unusual these days for a film with so much hype, especially a sequel to a film I really liked, to actually live up to that hype and not leave me a little bit disappointed.  This one managed it.  If nothing else I thought that all the fuss over Heath Ledger would overshadow things and along with a lot of people I was initially cynical about all the praise for his performance, but he really does deserve that Oscar nomination.  I watched some of the Tim Burton Batman recently and while Jack Nicholson is very good in the role, Ledger really nails the insane genius thing.  There were also some great set pieces which I think were enhanced by this film being set in more realistic environments rather than the overly gothic Gotham that has been used in the past.  I was also really impressed by the Two Face effects, it would have been so easy for it to look completely ridiculous but instead it was pretty damn disturbing.  All in all a thoroughly entertaining film with some great action and excellent acting.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 12/05/2009 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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More Like “Raining S%*t”

Having not bought any new games recently I’ve been revisiting older games.  A few weeks ago something made me load up Guitar Hero 3 for the first time in quite a while and I’m currently attempting to finish the career mode on Hard.  I’d previously got as far as the second-to-last gig but just could not get anywhere close to finishing “Before I Forget” by Slipknot or “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse.   While I can get 100% on the former on Medium difficulty it took my many, many attempts to even complete the Muse song on the easier difficulty so I wasn’t confident I’d ever get through it.  However, the hours of playing World Tour seem to have improved my overall ability and I was able to finish Slipknot after a few tries and then the Muse song on only the second or third attempt.  I’ve definitely noticed that difficulty does not scale up uniformally across all songs with some becoming hugely difficult while others only seem to have a slight increase in complexity.

I then went back and beat Slash in the guitar duel, having previously failed dismally, and also upped my ratings on loads of the earlier songs from 3 stars to 4 or 5 stars.  I finally decided I was ready to attempt the final gig and picked “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnston as the first track which turned out to be a good move as I got through it first time.  I then tried “Number Of The Beast” by Iron Maiden and despite several goes where I failed in the first 30 seconds I eventually twigged what I was doing wrong and went on to finish that one too.  Sadly, after a pretty decent second wind, it was at this point I once again hit the wall.  “Raining Blood” is, frankly, ridiculous.  I know I sound like an old man, but once you’re about 30 seconds into the song Slayer dispense with anything resembling a tune and therefore the notes to play and rhythm to play them in seem to have been picked at  random.  I fail about 5 seconds later every single tine.  “One” by Metallica is at least fun to play for the first 5 minutes or so, but once I hit the guitar solo I’m completely stuffed and in some ways that’s more frustrating because by that point I’m about 75% through the song and have to start all the way back from the beginning.

So I reckon a bit more practice is needed before I try either of those again.  The question now is whether or not I go back and try and finish World Tour on Hard in guitar mode (I’ve done it on Bass) or try the easier songs on GH3 on Expert?  Decisions, decisions.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 11/05/2009 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Most Wanted” Games for 2009

Are you looking forward to revisiting Rapture in “Bioshock 2”?  Has “Prototype” got you flexing your thumbs in anticipation?  Or maybe you’re just waiting to bag yourself a Jigglypuff in the new Pokemon game?  Why not let me and everyone else know by posting those games which you’re most looking forward to in 2009.  I’ll add my list in a bit.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 11/05/2009 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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