Update


I feel I’ve been neglecting my readers of late and not posting as much as I should.  What can I say, life get’s in the way and yes I have a life.  But apart from that I really do like posting on this blog even if only a handful of people ever read it…those handful are important though!  Anyway I digress.  What I wanted was to give you the heads up about a few things I’ve been doing of late.  There’s been an emphasis on gaming and well, I got myself some games I need to get around to finishing before the big slew of releases leading up the Christmas.  There are too many good games coming out to actually manage to play them all let alone complete – but I have my beady eyes on a few.

Uncharted-4

For now though two games are on regular rotation, that being Uncharted 4: A Thieves End on PS4, arguably the best looking PS4 game and a rather polished adventure with that as expected Naughty Dog mastery of detail and game design.  I won’t say for such a game it’s grabbed me as much as Rise of the Tomb Raider did, but then that game was more about survival and this game’s more a summer blockbuster.  But I’m enjoying it.  The other game I took a gamble with and downloaded is the much underrated Recore for XB1, like Uncharted an exclusive but nowhere near as well received, which is understandable – Uncharted is clearly a flagship title for PS4 and Sony whereas Recore was under-Recoremarketed and isn’t really meant to be a system seller as much as the forthcoming Gears of War 4 will be.  However what it is is a rather classic throwback to platform shooter / exploration games like Metroid and I’m enjoying it a lot.  I love exploration, puzzle solving and platforming and this does those three things brilliantly.  The surrounding game, it’s story and it’s character design isn’t anything to write home about and it suffers from a few technical issues here and there … but it’s nowhere near as bad as the media will have you believe.  I’d say If you like the sound of it, give it a chance.

I also have Mafia 3 pre-ordered on the XB1 and have asked for Watchdogs 2 on PS4 for my birthday (note for your diaries readers, it’s 14 November lol).  I also would like to dive into the latest expansion that’s been released for Destiny namely ‘Rise of Iron’.  I really like Destiny and it’s world and the upgrading of my character and weapons and exploring etc.  keeps pulling me back far more than The Division seems it ever will.    But to save money and give me a chance of completing those two games above, I’m holding off on taking the leap as of yet.  I can also see even Dishonoured 2, a game I’m particularly excited for being put on the back burner until there are not so many games to play.

Daredevil S2

TV is taking up some of my time too and I’m trying to finish off current seasons of certain shows that I like, such as having just finished Daredevil season 2 (it was great, sometimes amazing, started a little slow but really delivered half way through.  I think I still favour season 1 more though).  Also nearing the end of the current season of Orange is The New Black which I feel has failed to really hit it’s stride this season apart from a strong opening and the return of a favourite character…I just wonder where it’s going.   I’m also watching House of Cards season 2 … yes I’m waaay behind but love it.  Its been pretty strong this season too.   Also enjoying British police drama Luthor…I think I’m on series 3…but I lose track.  Suitably violent and disturbing and well, Idris Elba is fantastic.  I’ve also lined up two more Netflix Marvel shows to get into, Jessica Jones which I keep hearing good things about and the imminent Luke Cage which looks a lot of fun.  I may focus on Jones first as the two shows seems to connect with one another by looks of it.

jessica-jones

Now back on topic … for movies I have a few in the pipeline you’ll be seeing reviews of.  I need to get around to watching Everybody Wants Some!  Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to one of my all time favourite movies, Dazed & Confused.  Also I’m hoping to see The Magnificent Seven with friends from work next week sometime.  Did I also mention that I have a special edition of Donnie Darko coming?  Look out for an in-depth review of that and how it stacks up on Blu-ray.  Also there’s that final Studio Ghibli movie When Marnie Was There that‘s out soon so I can’t wait to get my paws on that.

I’ve not forgotten about my continuing series My Gaming History which will have a new post in the coming days so look out for that.  But for now that’s what’s going on with me as far as a few of my hobbies, interests and this blog is concerned.

Craig.

Demolition


Viewed – 20 September 2016  Online-rental

I think it can mostly be said that actor Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the more assured talents around today and often the roles he chooses are worth checking out, more often than not for his often quirky, complex performance.

Demolition

This is no exception as he plays Davis, a guy involved in a car crash that results in the untimely death of his wife.  Suddenly surrounded by grieving relatives and concerned friends however, Jake finds he doesn’t know how to grieve and finds the world around him unrelateable.  So Davis starts to exhibit rather strange behaviour, starting with writing letters of complaint to a vending machine company, that results in an unconventional friendship with the woman who works there (Naomi Watts).

This was a really interesting idea, brought to life by Gyllenhaal’s oddball but no less human performance which I’m sure is actually a rather accurate representation of how death can affect certain people.  He’s aided by an equally enjoyable Watts who herself is a little strange and searching for that ‘something’ that seems to evade both characters lives.  At times it reminded me in a not so surreal way of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.  Add to this a rather touching and unusual script that doesn’t dwell too heavily on the tragedy but rather peppers it with humour to make this pretty entertaining considering the subject.  Support all round is also decent too especially from Chris Cooper as Davis’s father-in-law.  I found this refreshingly different and certainly had more to it than I was expecting, with again Gyllenhaal proving why he’s one of my favourites.

Well worth your time.

Verdict:  4 /5

Big Hero 6


Viewed – 17 September 2016  Blu-ray

You can’t accuse Disney of not trying new things these days…after the rather inspired idea of a video games homage in Wreck It Ralph we come to this somewhat Japanese anime inspired story following a young kid who yearns to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps and go to science school.  He also so happens to be a genius at robotics.  However following a disastrous turn of events said kid, Hiro finds himself befriending his brother’s invention instead and seeking out the answers to a mysterious accident at the local university.

Big Hero 6_

At first I wasn’t really sure where this one was going, it felt like a weird mix of things and it’s tone was uneven.  Not helped by a cast of supporting characters that either ticked all the clichés or were otherwise forgettable.  Yes, we have the cool outsider girl, the bookworm, the stoner (!) and the token black guy.  Yet it’s the friendship between Hiro and Baymax, his brother’s robotic inflatable nurse (not as sleazy as that sounds…) that makes for the heart of the movie, and even plot developments that turn the whole show into The Avengers meets Power Rangers don’t detract from what turns out to be rather emotional and feel good.  Despite a quasi-future setting (in San Francisco – you know, where ALL movies are now set), the inventions by these kids seems so amazing and powerful that they defy logic.  But this is a Disney movie so I’m guessing believability goes out of the window?  This can’t excuse however a villainous plot that’s rather thrown together with a twist that just felt like it had been sneaked in by the writing room cleaning lady last minute.

Which is all a shame as aesthetically and script-wise this often shines.  There’s some stand-out action scenes in the final act, and the in-jokes and banter between the characters got pretty funny.  Baymax is a brilliant creation, part tech-demo for the animation gurus and also a really likeable presence.  So another Disney to check out, if not quite as essential as some of their other movies.

Verdict:  3 /5

My gaming history – Part 2


In the early nineties, I was in possession of two more gaming systems, firstly the much famed Sega Megadrive (aka Genesis) as well as another micro-computer, the Commodore Amiga 600.  Now for a long time, along with the Amstrad CPC 464 computer, I had found my gaming hobby growing, mostly down to having friends who had the same systems as me (mostly the Amstrad), and borrowing games and building a collection.  However it was time to movie on and if memory serves me correct, my parents got me a Megadrive for Christmas one year.  The only real issue with such a console was that compared to what I had been used to with the Amstrad, the games were much more expensive, and well let’s say the at the time bundled ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ was my only game for the system.  Not that I was complaining – I’d never seen graphics like that in my life and it was a firm favourite.

megadrive

I later with some saving and borrowing was able to get hold of games like Revenge of ‘Shinobi’, ‘Road Rash’ … as well as being able to rent some titles from my local video rental store.  One firm memory I have of this era though was the rather guilty confession of seeking out ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’, which was a later Christmas present and I remember finding it when looking for prezzies in my parent’s bedroom, and having a cheeky play on it when they weren’t at home…then putting it back and acting all surprised Christmas morning.  No, I’m not proud of myself but I was only about 14!.

Road Rash    Sonic the Hedgehog

I think I had the Commodore Amiga 600 a little after the Sega Megadrive and it was one of a series of computers that were all the craze at school amongst my friends.  When I had the Amstrad everyone talked about the Amiga (and it’s nearest rival at the time the Atari ST) both home computer’s which were like a more user-friendly, cheaper alternative to the PC which was more an office system back then and not as widely available.  The micro-computer boom fizzled out in the mid to late nineties when consoles and PCs became more popular (with the success various Sega and Nintendo systems ruling the nineties).  Yet despite owning a Megadrive, to have an Amiga made me feel like I was finally a part of a bigger, more respected crowd, and it was a system I really enjoyed.  I would buy, borrow and (ahem…copy) many games for the system and firm favourites were ‘Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’, ‘The Chaos Engine’, ‘Alien Breed’, ‘Turrican’ (1 & 2), ‘Formula One Grand Prix’ and ‘Syndicate’.  I formed a friendship with a friend of mine that worked in a shop and both owning an Amiga developed a friendship that still exists today.  Good times.

Amiga 600

Monkey Island 2  Turrican 2

In part 3 I’ll be taking a look at the advent of PlayStation … the console to get that was marketed quite unlike other consoles before it.

Lights Out


Viewed – 08 September 2016  Cinema

I was certainly intrigued by this concept.  A malevolent spirit that disappears in direct light but is deadly in the dark, who seems to be haunting a small family, that of a single mother and her little boy.  When said boy turns to his older, rebellious sister for help after one too many strange goings on, soon an investigation ensues … subsequently causing the family to look into their own past in the process.

lights-out

Whilst fairly simple in it’s idea I did find this pretty unnerving throughout what with an evil spirit seemingly capable of jumping out from any darkened corner or darkened room.  The maker’s had a field-day with this idea and I certainly got a kick out of the various ways the idea was explored, complete with an effective ‘shooting at the ghost’ sequence.  However the frights don’t exactly come thick and fast and rely a little too much on loud noises and character reactions more than being scary in their own right … which they are but the other stuff dilutes the experience somewhat.  Also I wasn’t keen on the occasional times the spirit spoke … again diluting the scariness by giving it too much character (the remake of ‘Ring’ had a similar misstep).

The casting is pretty decent, although only Maria Bello is recognisable but suitably unhinged as the troubled mother.  I also thought the young actor playing the boy was above average.  Add to this a complex turn from Teresa Palmer who manages to be more than a typical, moody twenty-something.  The final act is also solid and full of action with some novel twists on the concept.  But I did hope for a bit more light to be shed on the spirit’s origins, which sadly is ignored in place of a rather ballsy ending.  So despite good intentions, this doesn’t quite reinvent the horror movie and is a bit too Hollywood with some of its scares … but regardless this was still a suitably creepy and entertaining experience.

Verdict:  3 /5