Archive Page 2

14
Apr
08

“Pardon my French but you’re an AARDVARK!”

Don’t you just love movies that have been dubbed by the morons that run American TV? No, me neither. Here’s a love letter to them on Geek!.

Toga! Toga! Toga!

10
Apr
08

Buzzzzzzz….Blu-ray review of The Fly

Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid…it’s my review of the Blu-ray release of The Fly….here

08
Apr
08

Commano on Blu-ray Review

I’ve seen Commando on Blu-ray and it’s not a pretty picture…here

Arnold goes Commando

04
Apr
08

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Blu-ray Review

Brad, Angelina, guns and stuff blowing up! What more can you ask for? Read my review here.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Blu-ray

19
Mar
08

Blue Peter vs. Magpie

Childhood memories and old antagonisms.  I talk about both on Den of Geek today….here.

Blue Peter Elephant

18
Feb
08

Knight Rider…is back!

Read my review of the new show at Den of Geek here

Knight Rider

18
Feb
08

Death of the Effects Movie

I’ve been writing for Den of Geek again!
Go here to read about Effects Movies and how they’re not up to scratch!
I am, not very good at Effects, Legend

26
Sep
07

Be afraid! The Singing Ringing Tree…

A chance conversation unlocked childhood terror for me, which I put to some use in an article on Den of Geek here.

If you’re feeling especially brave here is some of the bladder weakening TV event for children from YouTube.

15
Sep
07

My Top 10 totally wasted film franchises

Counting down from the top, here are my 10 most disappointing attempts to convert some prior source material into new film franchise.

10. Catwomen (2004)

I’d read a few negative comments about this production before I saw it, but little prepared me for how utterly dreadful it is. What confused me entirely was that the title suggests a connection to the Bob Kane character, but what’s presented in it has as much to do with him as the carton series ‘Top Cat’. And, any delusions that winning an Oscar gives you some protection when you make a turkey soon evaporated for Halle Berry when this opened.

9. Van Helsing (2004)

This one is a bit weird, because it draws on the work of Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly and others, but curiously the Van Helsing in this movie isn’t the one that’s detailed in the Dracula book. The true source material is the 1930s Universal Studio monster movies, but whatever the origins it stunk. Much of the movie is entirely unwatchable as there is very little logic or connection between progressive scenes. Had Stephen Sommers given it the light and deft touch he’d used on the first Mummy movie it could have easily been a whole new outlet for High Jackman, but instead he used his mallet of sloppy film making to entirely trash it.

8. The Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

With Barry Levinson directing, assisted by Frank Marshal, Steven Speilberg, and Henry Winkler producing, and the entire wealth of Conan Doyle’s archetypal detective Holmes, how could it go wrong? Big time, I’d suggest. I can’t really blame the cast, most of whom seemed well suited to their character rolls, with Nicholas Rowe being very good as the young Holmes. But parts of this production play like a weird Victorian version of the Goonies. It was an interesting premise, actually contradicted by Doyle’s own work, but ultimately an attempt to start a franchise that failed miserably.

7. The Saint (1997)

There are parts of this movie I enjoy, but what’s it got to do with the Leslie Charteris character? Not much from what I can recall of the novels, 1940’s George Sanders movies and his later TV incarnations with Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy. The entire premise that the Saint was once a man who lived on the wrong side of the law, but is has chosen to fight crime seems entirely lost in this movie with Val Kilmer making the Roger Moore eyebrow acting seem positively expressive. The limp performance of this Saint at the global box-office means this franchise will need at least three miracles to be resurrected.

6. Lost in Space (1998)

It looked like converting this icon of 1960s TV for the big screen would be a challenge, but it turned out to be more of one than those assembled to make it could handle. Personally I love some of the design work in this production, but the performances of the actors and the script are not remotely up to the job. This was Matt LeBlanc’s only real stab at movie stardom, and it fell entirely flat, much like his career. Danger Will Robinson, this franchise is lost!

5. The Avengers (1998)

With what looked like interesting casting, and some amazing source material this could have been fantastic. But instead it was an utter fiasco, the likes of which I’m still coming to terms with. Sir Sean Connery should have kept the teddy bear outfit on for the whole dreadful proceedings and claimed he was never in it.

4. Æon Flux (2005)
If you’ve never seen the original animated version of this created by Korean American animator Peter Chung then you missed plenty, as it’s a curious blending of the stylised science fiction popularised by ‘Heavy Metal’ and hardcore animé. But the film version carries virtually none of these qualities with any success, and is a wholly abysmal celluloid experience despite having the stunning Charlize Theron in the lead roll. In most episodes Æon dies at the end, but this franchise was the fatality here.

3. Planet of the Apes (2001)

This is an almost unique scenario where an amazing film spawns a franchise that then is run into the ground. Then years later it’s relaunched and crashes a the first hurdle. Given the advances in effects since the 1968 original this could have been something special, but they appear to have started this movie without a script, and it ended before they’d rectified that. What didn’t help was people asking director Tim Burton what it was actually about and him replying ‘What do you think it’s about?’, while being interviewed to promote this drivel. Amazing potential, flushed down the toilet of film franchise.

2. Judge Dredd (1995)
While Arnhuld was the obvious choice for Dredd not too many people winced when they heard it had gone to Stallone, but they positively recoiled when they saw what had become of this British comic classic. In a film that swayed wildly between comic camp and a cop buddy actioner it managed to avoid hitting any of the potential target audience that enjoyed the comic, or science fiction for that matter. A mess of a movie where the events make little sense, and the characters would appreciate being one dimensional. I’d love to blame Rob Schneider, but he’s just gristle in the meat grinder that is Judge Dredd.

1. Thunderbirds (2004)
Given the richness of the source material this was a diabolical trashing of a franchise almost without precedent. Despite the potential to tap into an adult audience, like Transformers, Jonathon Frakes focused instead on the child friendly aspects, making the kids the leads. Too many kids, too many characters, not enough Thunderbirds action and Ben Kingsley playing Widow Twankie. The end result; a complete turkey. You might have directed the best Trek movie of recent times, but Please Mr Frakes, stay away from any other of my childhood memories.

14
Sep
07

Big Trouble…in little China

My assessment of this classic movie is up on Den of Geek! Enjoy here.
Big Trouble in Little China

02
Sep
07

Hoyle Bank breeze

A stiff westerly scourers the sea on the Hoyle bank.

Hoyle Bank

26
Aug
07

Bioshock – maybe not!

After playing the demo of Bioshock I was all up for the full title, which hit the streets on Friday. But reports about how 2K decided to protect their games with SecuROM DRM technology have entirely put me off. Developed by Sony it plumbs itself into Ring 3 of the OS, and monitors data coming from the CD/DVD and also refers to an online distribution service. The original release allowed the game on two machines, and you had to deinstall it from one of those to use it elsewhere, and have the original disc. Within hours people reported failed installs and revoked codes.
From all accounts this is an amazing game, but there isn’t a remote chance I’d let it anywhere near my working PC, or any that I rely on. I know 2K has relaxed that original 2 machine limit a little, and their working on a code reclaim application if you can’t deinstall because your PC dies. But I can’t really accept that a game deserves to decide what other than itself should be on my PC (as this install does..), or that comes with such draconian Digital Rights Management. But I’m sure someone else will get to the Micro Mart review copy before me, so it won’t be an issue. I’ll let it muck up their system instead!

Update: AH! It’s already messed up, because the demo put SecuROM on my system, and didn’t remove it when I uninstalled it.  These people need a kick in the head!

23
Aug
07

WiFi Theft – utter garbage

Can you steal a wireless broadband connection service? Apparently, according to Birmingham police, you can. The story covered by the Birmingham Post tells us that ‘Dishonestly obtaining free internet access is an offence under the Communications Act 2003 and a potential breach of the Computer Misuse Act.’. Doh! This has to be the dumbest story I’ve heard for a long while and based on other things going on currently in the news it makes you wonder where this officers priorities might be. Was the owner of the link aware? Did he care? Did it cost him anything extra this month? How was he deprived by this act? At what point was he being dishonest? When asked by the police officers what he was doing, he told them!
If the owner of the access point had wanted it closed, surely he should of closed it?
I’m not legally trained, but surely stealing is the act where you intend to permanently deprive the owner of a possession? But he never intended to take anything, unless it’s possible to filch electrons or direct them illegally.
Based on the logic of this, if you walk past a house where someone is listening to a CD in the garden, then you’re stealing their music? Or if light from a property is falling on your newspaper, allowing you to read it while you wait for the bus, that’s stealing too?
But again I come back to my key point. With gun and knife crimes a major concern, along with terrorism, the effort in the pursuit of someone what is effectively a victimless crime seems inappropriate at best.

23
Aug
07

Are Journalists threatened by Bloggers?

Last week I went to an event called PlayBite, which was to bring Journo’s and various hardware makers together for mutual benefit. There I was able to talk to Seagate, Toshiba, Belkin, ZyXEL and others about current and upcoming products and potentially plan some reviews in advance.
Good stuff. But what was also interesting was the questionnaire they asked me to complete as I left, which seemed to be concerned about the impact of Blogging on us erstwhile hacks!
I know that some people are very worried about this, and I can understand why, but myself I’m not. You see I don’t see bloggers are actually a threat to conventional journalism, but another potential outlet for people with genuine writing skills. By day I’m an ink journalist, meaning my work is printed and distributed, in much the same way that it’s been for hundreds of years. Yes, it’s all composited on a computer, and sent to a computerised press, but it’s an ink and paper deal like it’s been since Caxton.
Luckily I work for a weekly mag, so there isn’t a huge time difference between the actual events we discuss and them going into print. It’s not got the instant appeal of a blog or online mag, but sometimes it’s good to let a little time go by without spouting, to get a better handle on the underlying story.
So will this type of product go away entirely and be replaced by Bloggs? I don’t think so, not in the short to medium term. If you go back in time you’ll find that people predicted the demise of print when Radio and TV was invented, and again when the Internet took hold. But it’s still going, and many of the daily still sell more than a million copies!
Now I’m writing a Blog, and it’s given me a whole new perspective. This is an immediate medium that allows me to talk about things that don’t generally fit into either the readership or interest of the print publications I produce for. It also doesn’t currently pay me anything, but it’s a ‘work in progress’ so I’ll accept that for the moment. At some point, I’ll expect it to pay its way for the time I spend on it, or I’ll reduce the amount I do.
Looking at what other Bloggers are doing, I don’t see anything different from what most journalists do, which is the see an idea or a story and then find their own angle. The Blogs that do well are either written skilfully or have imagination, despite what some think there is no ‘free lunch’ for the Blogger. Those that manage to get large numbers of people reading them have had to work hard to achieve that. There are millions of blogs that are read by few people, and some that will never get thousands of people a day tuning in.
The medium might have changed, but the rules remain the same. If you can produce material that people like or interests them then you’ve got a future, if you don’t you haven’t.
I think those in the printed press that feel the Bloggers are going to consume their occupations, by offering something similar for free are missing the point, I’d suggest.
In the same way that a picture taken with a mobile phone isn’t going to make you Photographer of the year. Those with genuine skills will shine through, irrespective of how they’re labelled.
The interest I’m seeing is that marketing people like the ‘new and exciting’ aspect of commercial Blogs, which they see as easier to influence than the battle-hardened hacks they’re used to dealing with. Once the Web 2.0 world has matured a little, I think they’ll find it isn’t any different, and many of those hacks are the same people they will deal with in a new context.
In the meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing…for any medium that has an outlet.

21
Aug
07

Bioshock demo – yummy!

BIOSHOCK
I’ve just been playing PC demo of Bioshock, and jolly good it is. If you’re not a keen gamer, or a youngster, you might not remember the original SystemShock game, which where all set on a derelict spaceship. This isn’t. Instead the action takes place in a realy weird submerged city, a sort of pre-war styled Atlantis, called Rapture. At the start of the demo you arrive when you’re plane crashes near Rapture, and you take an underwater elevator deep beneath the ocean.
So what makes this FPS different from the standard crop? Two things strike you almost immediately, even within the limited confines of the demo. The first is the level of design work that’s gone into this game, which is astounding. The starting locations are lavish Art Deco, and filled with posters, tiles, signs and statues. It’s like being a movie when they’ve given the art director his head and a massive budget. Having a few locations like this in a game is impressive, but every room, even the toilet are works of digital art.
The second, and somewhat unexpected aspect to Bioshock is the AI of the enemies. While they’re still triggered by you to appear, what they do and how they react is entirely driven by their own individual logic. Once you understand the motivations of the various creatures that infest Rapture you can use that to make them allies or confuse them into helping you. You can also hack the defence systems to ignore you and attack your enemies. Which promises a much more cerebral experience that just running around shooting everything. I feel that approach won’t get you very far in BioShock, you need to be smarter than that.
Previously we’ve seen great demos that didn’t live up to their potential in the full game, but I’m confident that Bioshock will, and might be even better.
Can’t wait for the full game!

You can get the demo here




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