Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Revieworama !

The final countdown begins again – only another couple of weeks before the seniors leave for the year to go and ‘study’ for their exams. School becomes a great deal easier after that. Okay – maybe not a great deal ( I’ll still be freaking busy ), but it’ll be better !

Here’s a bit of a review of things I’ve seen / read / played recently –

Perfect Creature

So close ! So very close to being a really good film ! And yet – so over the mountain range studded with land-mine far away. It must be said right at the start – it’s a HELL of a lot better than ‘The Irrefutable Truth About Demons’. Mind you, considering that ‘…Demons’ is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, I’m not sure that’s much of a endorsement.
What the film did REALLY well was in creating a very cool world. Very steam-punk, while still retaining a very NZ feel. Kinda post-colonial mixed with Dickensian London. It worked pretty well. The ‘mythology’ of the world was interesting too. I liked the idea of Vampires not being evil, or even really monstrous. The idea of the ‘Brothers’ being a kind of ‘next-step’ in the evolutionary process was great, but more so was their partnership with humanity. They were ( supposedly ) so much more powerful than humans, but were essentially bound to serve humanity. I loved how the Brothers were objects of religious reverence for many humans, and how there’s a ritual of tithing blood in churches.

All very very cool.

So – what’s the problem ?

For a start, there’s not a HUGE amount of ‘super-human’ ability demonstrated by the Brothers really. Oh sure – they’ve got heightened-senses ( shown though various crash zooms and other fairly unimpressive sfx ), but what else ? Uncanny climbing ability … and that’s about it. Oh – and a weird pointy-finger style of fighting. Now really ! These are Vampires ! Okay – given that they’re a genetic anomaly they’re not going to be turning into mist or flying of in the form of a bat, but surely there could have been something a little more impressive they could have done. I guess there are hints towards super speed and strength … but there was just too little done with it. That was a shame.

The biggest problem for me was the antagonist. They made a seriously BAD error in casting. Rather than looking evil or scary – the ‘bad’ vampire ends up looking … well … retarded. That’s a bad look for your villain no matter how you cut it. I just couldn’t take him seriously. Also – there was an issue for me with this character’s motivation. At the start of the story, the antagonist’s goal simply seems to be ‘kill people and drink their blood’. Fair enough ! He’s a vampire – I can understand that. BUT – as soon as the bad guy gets caught it seems that his motivation arbitrarily changes to ‘infect as many people as possible with my blood-disease’. WHAT ? What the hell brought that on ? Why would that happen ? It didn’t make any sense. It also REALLY bugged me that he was able to escape from the maximum security Brother stronghold. It was a ‘deus ex’ situation where ( supposedly ) very clever people ( Vamp’s guards ) start doing inexplicably stupid things ( letting Vamp out of his security harness when he’s CLEARLY one of the most serious risks to all of society, not getting a Brother to check the security glass after Vamp has repeatidly hurling himself at it … and not putting Vamp BACK in the harness as a punishment, not having a fail-safe lock-down so that bad Vamp can just stroll out back into the middle of the freaking city heart !!! ). It’s really annoying when characters do things that are so stupidly out of character.

Still – there’s certainly some interesting things going on in the film, and it’s worth a DVD rental. Just don’t shell out $15 to see it on the big screen.



Argh. ANOTHER film where ( supposedly ) very clever people to some VERY stupid things which bugged the hell out of me.
In a lot of ways it reminded me a lot of ‘Event Horizon’ – just replacing the supernatural elements with more scientifically plausible things. There are some good thrills here and there, but I found things largely pretty predictable.
The music is pretty good – and largely contributes to the atmospheric impact of the film. I wouldn’t mind getting the soundtrack.
Worth a rental if there’s nothing else you want to see, just get ready for some ‘Aw c’mon!’ moments.


Lady in the Water

All the reviews I read about this pretty much panned this film. I got it at the last Video Eze sale for ten bucks. I didn’t get round to seeing it for quite awhile – mainly because I wanted to like it, but all the evidence seemed to be pointing at it being rubbish.

I finally braced myself and slung it in the DVD player last night. And y’know what ? I really liked it ! It was a nice story. It did stretch my suspense-of-disbelief a little bit in places ( the girl / woman living in the flats who JUST HAPPENED to know the stories of the Narfs and the Skrunts ) but there was a reasonable reason present for how this could happen that I was okay to buy into.

Not M. Night’s best – but he hasn’t done anything yet to equal The Sixth Sense in my books ( and that would be because it freaking GENIUS ), but it’s pretty enjoyable modern fairy-tale.


The IT Crowd – Season 2

Freaking awesome. Not quite as good as season 1 – but very very funny ( my fav joke was a legendarily hilarious take off of those damn ‘You wouldn’t steal a hand-bag !” copyright ads ). I miss Denham though …


The Day of the Triffids

Always meant to read this ages ago – and only just got round to it now. Well worth reading. Some pretty unsettling moments within. I gotta read me some more John Wyndham ! I think “The Kraken Wakes’ or ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ will be next on the list.


Resistance – Fall of Man

A very competent FPS from the guys who brought you ‘Spyro’ and “Ratchet and Clank’. Again – it’s the setting and situation which are so captivating. It’s really an alternate World War 2, by instead of battling the Hun – it’s an ‘alien’ threat which is kicking the crap out of mankind. The Chimera are a scary bunch of dudes – and the cool thing the game does is weave the story of the Chimera uprising ( which is a huge mystery in the game. You don’t really know what the hell the Chimera are or where they come from. Are they Aliens ? Are they a genetic experiment gone wrong ? Are they a race which has co-evolved with us under the earth ? I’m at least ¾ of the way through the game and I still don’t know for sure ! ).
The weapons are cool – and while they’re reasonably futuristic sometimes ( such as the Chimeran Auger – a gun which fires energy bolts which pass through walls and obstacles until they clam into organic matter, or the Bullseye – which has the ability to ‘tag’ an enemy, which allows the conventional fire-power of the gun to home in on the tagged victim unerringly – fecking handy in dealing with smart-ale Chimera hiding behind cover ) , there’s a good mix of conventional thrown in, and the ‘advanced’ weapons fit in well with the WW2 feeling.
The action of the game alternates between frantic battle-front warfare, and tense ‘survival-horror’ tunnel-creeping sections. There’s some nice boss throw-downs and some fun vehicles to drive ( I’m hanging out for another tank-level ! Though the huge Chimeran spider-tank is pretty groovy ! ).
Graphics are great – though I’m sure that with an HD cable and a LCD tv they’d look even better ( duh ! ).
All in all – another winner from Insomnia games studio! Roll on “Ratchet and Clank : Tools of Destruction” is what I say !


Sunday, October 14, 2007

One day - two parties !

Yesterday was busy busy busy. I had two birthday parties to go to. Two ! Who can live at that speed !! I don't know how those LA socialites do it. And imagine Bruce Wayne ! Having to live THAT life AND be a crime fighter on top of that. Yeesh.

The big focus on attention though ( as it was for most of the previous week - hence no updates ! ) was my costume for the second of the two parties - Clare's 'Space' party. I admit that I was pretty stumped for something original for a few days when I got the invitation. Yeah - I thought of all the standard Star Wars and Star Trek openers ... but I wanted something unique ! Something NO-ONE was going to copy.

It was tricky alright - something that was original, but WASN'T going to cripple me financially either.

Then a week ago today ( almost at the same time too ) - it stuck me.

A crew member of the 'Nostromo' - complete with chest-burster alien !

Genius !

But that DID mean I had to make myself a chest-burster in under a week - as you can't just go out and buy these things ( I looked, trust me ! ).

Cue much paper-mache work !

Oddly enough, one of the hardest parts of the process was finding some of those long thin styled balloons to get the paper-mache on. It was damn near impossible ! Everyone only had the round kinds. Can you believe it ? At about the fourth place I looked at I was getting pretty distressed ( as the whole plan hinged on having one of these balloons - just freaking ONE ! ). Then, JOY ! It had something similar - weird caterpillar shaped balloons. They didn't look much like caterpillars really though - to be honest, they more looked like ... well ... sex toys ( they were kinda ribbed too - very unsettling ).

Despite their unusual 'added value' they worked just fine. The second hurdle was getting the paper-mache tube to dry in time. It was very slow going - even with being bunged in the hot water cupboard. In the end I just wacked int on top of the woodburner. THAT got things sorted !

The painting and gluing was reasonably straight forward.

I did investigate getting some sew-on patches made stating various Wayland-Yutani slogans and such - but that were FAR too expensive to have made. In the end I just printed off some from net pictures and sellotaped them to the pair of overalls I got. That worked reasonably well ( and way cheaper ! ).

People at the party seemed to think it was kinda cool, and I have to say that I was pretty pleased with the final effect.

Jenni's Rock-Star party was a lot of fun - though Viva and I couldn't stay long. It was nice to see people, and I was reminded ( yet again ) of how lucky I am to have such great friends. I really am fortunate to know such a great bunch of cool, interesting and NICE people.

Yay for friends ! And for the absence of parasitic xenomorphs on Earth !