Well avid readers, I’ve only gone and done it. No turning back now…
First impressions? Well I managed to get hold of the fabled ‘day one’ edition of the XBOX ONE, which for no other reason than the pure fun of it, comes with a limited edition day one controller, and you also get a day one achievement. Add to this Forza Motor Sport 5 as a free download … and I’d say I got a pretty good deal.
Having spent the evening and part of the morning playing around with it … I am amazed just how well (and how much fun) the much hyped Kinect sensor is … I actually now couldn’t imagine the console without it and its voice commands, gestures etc. all work very well indeed. It never gets boring telling the XBOX to switch to things, to pause Netflix, to record gameplay, to turn off and on – and it’s just so quick and fluid. So yes a hearty recommendation there for Kinect from me.
The machine itself in operation is very quiet, although a little louder when a disk is playing. But all very smooth – and this smoothness translates into gameplay, which seemed noticeably silkier than on say, the XBOX 360 or PS3 – maybe it’s that 60 frames per second thing. Of the games I have played, I am currently enjoying Battlfield 4 – graphics are not a night and day leap from last generation, but very crisp and detailed – a good example of starting blocks for the power of XBOX ONE, which will only get better with future releases. Killer Instinct which can be downloaded as a free demo is also fast and very Street Fighter IV.
This is all very early days with the console … I have yet to quite get the hang of the game dvr functionality, and some apps like BBC iPlayer and Twitch are yet to fully materialize. But so far, very pleased with my shiny new purchase!
Viewed – 29 November 2013 Blu-ray
Growing up this was one film I kept catching on TV, and it left a long standing imprint on me as a movie fan. Brian De Palma’s 1978 thriller was sort-of his follow up to Carrie, exploring again psychic telekinetic individuals, this time two instead of one and bringing back Carrie’s Amy Irving now alongside screen legend Kirk Douglas.
Douglas is a secret agent whose son has powerful telekinetic abilities that his shady friend, John Cassavetes wants to take advantage of. After an explosive opening where Douglas is betrayed and his son kidnapped – we switch to 11 months later where we meet Gillian, a young woman only just discovering her abilities who seems to have a psychic connection with Douglas’ son – and therefore becomes of interest both to Douglas and Cassavetes.
With a haunting, eerie score by John Williams and several stand-out set-pieces (the fairground ride, the slow-motion institute escape) this is De Palma at full tilt. Strangely it remains one of the famed director’s lesser known efforts, but with a solid turn from Douglas and an emotional performance from the often underrated Amy Irving – I still got a kick out of this, even all these years later. It’s still scary, especially with Douglas’ son’s powerful, malevolent incidents (hovering in the air in a darkened room, the murder of a woman by making her body spin…) although at times it resembles a 70s cop show with unfortunate comedy bits – and for a movie often labelled as horror – gore and scares are infrequent. Overall though this is one 70s movie I highly recommend seeing again.
The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is decent. The picture is vivid if at times a little soft and over-saturated but in good shape mostly – and the sound punchy and fitting to the period. The 4.0 DTS soundtrack can jump about at times from clear dialogue to an echoey locked in a closet sound (?), so I found the 2.0 soundtrack the most pleasing. Extras are also plentiful with documentaries, interviews, an isolated music score, a nice booklet with a new write up on the movie, and a reversible sleeve with new art work. Again another stellar job from Arrow.
(the movie): 4 /5
(the Blu-ray): 3.5 /5
Viewed – 26 November 2013 Blu-ray
Back in 1987 Bruce Willis shocked audiences world wide by transforming his wise cracking, comedy image from popular TV series Moonlighting into credible action-hero machismo with the first in this franchise … arguably one of the finest action thrillers ever made. Naturally such a well crafted movie would spawn sequels, and generally in my opinion, Die Hard has always delivered – but any good run had to come to an end, and yes, all the rumours you may have heard about this ill advised continuation of John McClane’s adventures are true.
Willis travels to Moscow to track down his estranged son (Jai Courtney) who seems to have got himself in a heap of trouble with some Russian terrorists. But before long father and son are reunited against a common enemy, and attempt to bond between the bullets flying and the bodies piling up. Directed by relative-unknown John Moore, this frantic, moodily shot attempt at an action movie from the get-go fails on almost every level. Firstly this isn’t just Willis playing McClane as a fish out of water New York cop (that would have been fun – but it’s not explored) he genuinely looks lost – not necessarily over the hill, but just in the wrong movie. His wise-cracks are delivered awkwardly like Willis himself is bored with the character, and the setting and the plot just failed to resonate. Add to this rapidly edited, confusing action that is mostly too fast and too chaotic to follow or enjoy, and well … I began to almost want to remove this from my PlayStation 3 and throw the original Die Hard in for the umpteenth time.
A plot twist towards the end was borderline interesting, but especially bad for this franchise, the villain was just a cliché, and his evil scheme nothing that clever. I wouldn’t normally be so against a movie, but for a franchise I previously adored – this was an embarrassment. Oh, and that cool free fall through a building and into water showcased in the trailer – that’s the best bit of the movie.
Verdict: 1 /5