More Kim Newman than Barry Norman

I’ve been using Lovefilm for over 2 and a half years now but my usage is somewhat erratic.  It’s not unusual for me to go 2 weeks without watching one of the disks I have at home and a quick look back at my rental history shows that there was even a 2 month period at the end of last year where I didn’t send any films back.  Sometimes this is due to the fact that I have films at home that I’m not hugely bothered about watching, other times it’s because something else takes my attention away from films for a while, such as a new XBox game, a new exercise regime or just a lot of social engagements.

The first situation is occurring less frequently now for 2 main reasons. Firstly, I have learnt to ignore the pleas from Lovefilm to never let my rental list drop below 20 films.  When I started I would go searching for films to add just to ensure my list stayed full but then I realised there were films that had been on the list for a year and a half which I’d never been sent, so what was the point?  I’ve averaged almost exactly 4 disks a month since I started and it would be a pretty poor month for the film industry if there weren’t 4 new releases that I wanted to see, so why keep padding it out with stuff just for the sake of it.  When I looked this morning I was down to 8 films with another 7 pre-ordered which are due out in June.

The other main reason I’m generally getting through my films quicker now is the type of film I’m putting on the list.  Like many others, when I first signed up I saw Lovefilm as a way of watching all those classics movies I’d never got round to seeing and those worthy, Oscar-bothering “masterpieces” which are too heavy going to watch on a Friday night with a few friends.  The trouble with those films is when I did get them I’d really have to force myself to watch them, something that became a lot harder to do after I bought my XBox. This is even more true these days now that every man and his wife has an XBox Live account and I frequently get a “L4D?” or “Zombie Time!” text from someone just as I’m contemplating sticking a DVD in.  So I decided that rather than keep up the pretence of being a serious film connoisseur I’d just admit that I’m much more likely to watch 90 minutes of Asian horror film or silly American comedy than I am to watch 150 minutes of thought-provoking German drama. It’s a shame really because when I have made myself watch those “worthy” films they’ve generally been excellent, but at the end of the day most of my DVD watching happens when I get in from football or the gym on a week night or on a slightly hung-over Sunday morning, so the film that takes the least effort to watch will usually win out.

Anyway, I started writing this as an introduction to a review of the last three films I’ve watched from Lovefilm, all of which fit under the “horror” banner, none of which got nominated for any Oscars and all of which I watched within a couple of days of them turning up.  However, this intro has turned into a post of its own so you’ll just have to wait for the reviews now.


P.S. I recently sent back a film without watching it because I’d had it for so long and I thought that was the first time I had done so.  However, after looking at my early rental list, I’ve either done it several times before or I’ve completely forgotten what some films are about!

Published in: on 18/05/2009 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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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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