Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Marble Hornets

I know hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a million or more, have heard of and/or watched Marble Hornets; the YouTube series which aided in putting Slender Man, and the idea of YouTube based horror, on the map. I also know I can’t be the only one who only heard of it recently. I started watching it earlier this month and finished it yesterday.
I loved every second.
Marble Hornets covers the making of a student film called, you guessed it, Marble Hornets. It follows Alex, Tim, Jay and some others on a journey into mystery, paranoia and just a sprinkling of death. It’s filmed on handheld and chest mounted cameras in a found footage style that works perfectly on YouTube. The acting can occasionally be a bit amateurish but for the most part this is a very well executed series with simple but brilliant effects.
The story lasts for over a hundred videos and several hours but it never gets dull. It starts off relatively simple but develops into a web of paranoid delusions and betrayal. The story constantly makes you ask questions, seldom giving you answers, but the pacing is such that it never becomes frustrating. It’s hard not to binge through it as you and the characters edge ever closer to the truth.
For me it’s also noteworthy for making me understand the Slender Man. Prior to watching this I found him to be a laughable concept. A skinny white dude in a suit who wasn’t remotely scary outside of one or two jump scares. Now I understand his capabilities, I understand why he has become such a phenomenon and he frightens me.
It’s a fantastic series and, thanks to it being on YouTube, is totally free so if you like horror I highly recommend you check this out.

Looking at this makes me want to watch it again. 


Six Word Story 5

The axe lay there, silent, menacing.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Underrated Action Heroes

With the sheer number of members in the Action Hero Pantheon of the Gods (official name) your have thought there couldn't possibly be any overlooked characters. Sadly my friends this is not the case, time has not treated all action heroes fairly and some have, tragically, fallen by the wayside.

What I'm trying to say is, here's a list of some underrated action heroes. Some you may hate me for.

Raiden

The laughing stock of the MGS series but also an insanely gifted badass. Even after his childhood days as Jack the Ripper and before his time as an inexplicable cyborg ninja (I'm talking about his awkward MGS 2 years) Raiden was an absolute nutter! He takes out dozens of Rays, survives Fortune, drowns Vamp, slaughters Fatman and wins a sword fight against a man in a suit with tentacle cannons. 'Nuff said.

Ray Tango & Gabriel Cash

Between Tango's standing in front of a speeding truck and bringing it to a halt inches before it hits him and Cash's progressive English teaching style, these two are not a pair to be taken lightly. Cash's laser sighted hand cannon alone is enough to warrant the two of them a spot on this list!

The Demolition Man


'Phoeniiiixxxxxxxx!' The tale of the clash between John Spartan and Simon Phoenix is a timeless meditation on the essence of good and evil and the often blurred lines of morality and the brutality of the authorities. Its also two hours of Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes beating the snot out of each, with Stallone earning John Spartan a nice little spot on this list.


Anyways these are just a few that spring to mind, I’m sure this list could go on and on with the amount of action films, games etc. that are churned out each year. What about you, have any that you would add?


Monday, 29 August 2016

Free - Be My Friend Live at Isle Of Wight

In keeping with the Isle of Wight theme, what with my Saturday visit there you can read about a couple of posts down, I thought I'd share one of my favourite performances of one of my favourite songs. 

Free are undoubtedly one of the finest bands of all time, with Andy Fraser and Simon Kirke providing the perfect rhythm section for the finest living singer and my all time favourite guitarist. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

8 Awesome Deleted Scenes From The Original Star Wars Trilogy

I just watched this and you should too, it's fantastic!

My Visit to the Isle of Wight - August 27th

Yesterday I took a ferry over and spent the day on the Isle of Wight. I've been there a few times before, when I was younger my family would go over there for holidays, staying at a hotel we liked there, we even celebrated my Dad's 50th there one New Year. I haven't been since though and my memory is pretty hazy in terms of where I visited when we first went.


We visited Ventnor, sitting on the beach, building a castle, burying Amy's feet etc. etc. It's a great little seaside town and looks quite European.

See what I mean?
We also checked out Yarmouth, where we got the ferry to and from, and spent a good deal of time exploring Ryde. Ryde seemed to be the busiest and largest town, with plenty of shops and a very sociable atmosphere. After that we headed over to the Needles where my friend got some of the coloured sand and we watched the glass blowing (amazing!). 

Yarmouth has this rather fetching church. 
The highlight though was the Garlic Farm, they were incredibly accommodating of our vegan requirements and the food was superb. We had a tour around the farm, including a visit to a historical site with archaeological finds dating back about 6000 years. Unfortunately it wasn't until after the tour we were made aware they also raise cows for slaughter, a real shame seeing as their cafe is great proof that vegan food is all you need. Once they end this though it would be a place I'd highly recommend visiting. 

I met these two awesome creatures. 


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Overwhelming Impulse to do a Northern Accent

Sometimes I do a mock, and very poor, Northern accent, I don’t know how it started, when it started or why it started but I do it and I amuse myself, greatly. 

I enjoy doing a lot of bad accents. I do Russian, Italian, Chav, Londoner – I do all of them purely to exasperate my friends, you know, ‘cause I’m nice like that.

The problem is my partner’s Uncle has a northern accent, being that he’s from England’s northerly direction and I’m constantly paranoid he’ll think I’m mocking him, but I can’t help myself!

Other people struggle with relationships, debt, social interaction difficulties caused by class, gender, race or religion, for me the hardest thing is my daily struggle against being a complete arse and bombarding people with dodgy accents. #TheStruggleIsReal – as the cool kids would say.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

No Man's Sky Review

No Man’s Sky presents a truly vast universe of procedurally generated planets with seamless surface to surface travel. You can explore irradiated waste lands, lush forests, maze like cave networks, floating islands, outposts - variety is No Man’s Sky strong suit and exploring and discovering is constantly rewarding. Experiencing the sights, the wildlife, the plant varieties. It truly is amazing.

It’s just a shame that this isn’t backed up by an enjoyable game.

You see whilst you hop from planet to planet, moon to moon, the reason for doing so is to mine materials - by bashing or lasering things - in order to upgrade your ship, your suit and your multi-tool. All of this is done to aid you on your journey to the center of the universe. That's it though. There is no real story, you do encounter other races and it is nifty that, through bargaining with them and locating things you have to learn their language, but you only interact with them in a way that allows for more resources to be gained. They are essentially trading posts dressed up as lifeforms.

And don’t think the wildlife or the sentinels (the guardians scattered throughout the planets of the universe) make for much better company. When not scanning and discovering wildlife you fight them. This consists of running around firing your multi-tool at them. It is clunky and repetitive and dull. There is some variety in that you can add new things to your gun but it really makes little difference. Oh and if you run out of ammo and need more you have to open your inventory, rendering you motionless without pausing the game and allowing you to be slaughtered. The sentinels aren’t much better, uninspired floating objects, easily provoked, who fire lasers at you. You can fight or just run away for about thirty seconds and they should give up. Thrilling.

Resource gathering isn’t much better, though games like Minecraft and Terraria are filled with resource gathering the rewards they provide are immense due to the freedom and creativity given to the player. Here you just get an upgrade and, honestly, aside from the warp ability most upgrades feel painfully incremental. This is made worse by one of the clunkiest UIs I have ever experienced. You use the sticks to control a mouse-like cursor to select items to upgrade. What's worse is they stick with this UI for everything, even conversation choices with aliens.
A good deal of features shown in previews aren't included. Faction based alliances and battles? Nope. Attacking space stations? Nope. Fleet battles? Nope. Freighters that move and fight? Nope. Also there are seemingly no desert planets.


Many people I know would be willing to brush this all aside. They would be happy just to explore the universe, meet other players out in the stars, trade with them, explore with them. Good luck with that. In numerous tests even when players found each other they couldn’t see each other. Multiplayer essentially boils down to the incredibly small chance you might stumble across a planet named Pooptopia and wonder who named it. It’s a real shame.

Then there’s the graphics. Whilst the variety is amazing the performance is not. The frame rate stutters all too often, dropping below thirty frames per second in a very noticeable way. The pop in is atrocious, especially when flying over a planet's surface, which is often necessary due to their size. Whilst this can be forgiven somewhat due to the lack of loading times and the thrill of seamless exploration, it is still not acceptable in this day and age.

Ultimately No Man’s Sky feels hollow. The procedural generation and exploration side of things feels great, fleshed out and highly enjoyable. The rest of it feels half baked. Maybe with another year or two of development a truly great game could have been released - something to truly usher in the current generation, to show the way forward for AAA gaming. Sadly what we have is a truly underwhelming game, a woeful disappointment. Even if you ignored the hype and hyperbole, this game promised to be truly unique, truly special and to really outshine all the other so-called ‘next gen’ games. It doesn’t even come close.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Monday, 8 August 2016

Suicide Squad Impressions

Suicide Squad – Don’t believe the critics!

This is going to be a brief rundown of my impressions of the film, I know critics have slated it but I urge to go in with an open mind – you may be pleasantly surprised. 

First of all, the bad:

There are some jarring tonal shifts where one liners and poor quality gags have been shoehorned in to scenes where they don’t belong – this may be after the reshoot caused by the backlash against Batman vs. Superman. 

Harley Quinn is far too sexualised and her character is not as faithful to the comics as some want. That said her crazy side and love for the Joker is handled superbly by Margot Robbie.  

Ben Afleck is not given the right script or scenes (again) and so Batman seems incompetent and lacking the whole ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ thing.

The score is pretty underwhelming, I can’t honestly recall any standout moments from it and I saw it less than twenty four hours ago. 

Not enough Joker!

And now the good:

Jared Leto is superb as the Joker, he is a perfect blend of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and gives us a fresh take on the character. He commands every scene he is in and his laugh is superb. 

Will Smith adds a certain gravitas to the role and makes Deadshot a surprisingly likeable and relatable character – he keeps the film grounded and level headed despite it’s over the top plot and characters. 

The supernatural elements added in to the film really add a nice sense of mythology to the DC cinematic universe and help to differentiate it from Marvel’s. 

David Ayer’s direction is really spot on, the action scenes are thrilling and the balance of the character’s and their back stories is perfectly handled. Characters feel developed enough in relation to their roles and it feels like a team movie as opposed to a Joker movie with a few other characters. 

All in all it’s a good film that goes a long way in restoring my faith in Warner and DC being able to build a compelling universe. Something I sorely needed to happen after the debacle that was Batman vs. Superman. We know have three DCU movies, two good, one bad, and Justice League and Wonder Woman look promising so I am optimistic. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Italy, 2016 Vlog

My partner (Amy MacTavish) made a vlog of our trip to Italy and uploaded it today - we'd be really grateful if you'd take a look, like, subscribe and share!

Thanks!