Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Future of Netflix

The Big boss over at Netflix recently revealed that in the next two years they want to increase the amount of Netflix Original content on the service so that it constitutes fifty per cent of what they offer. He claimed they were willing to pump up to one billion dollars into this effort.
I’m not sure they are thinking too clearly.
The price of Netflix recently went from £5.99 to £7.50 (two screens, HD) to facilitate their increased focus on original content. This was fine, the Marvel Series, Orange is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are some of my favourites on the service, and more of that type of quality content is certainly ok by me for an extra £1.51 per month. Using this figure it’s reasonable to assume that Netflix will become a £10 per month service in order to create all of this new content – the same big boss who announced the fifty per cent mark also said that they would not rely on advertising or sports to fund this. This is almost double what Amazon charge.
The other thing to consider is that the more high quality content Netflix produces, the less other companies will show their shows and films on the service. This means Netflix has to create shows that can rival The Office, The Walking Dead etc. I believe that they can do this, the Netflix shows I watch are of an incredibly high quality, the issue will lie with the films.
Currently I want to watch Tallulah and Beasts of No Nation, both marketed as Netflix Original movies and both highly rated. The rest of their movies? Meh. They have terrible Adam Sandler films and terrible Ricky Gervais films. Has-beens starring in awful movies is not going to let them contend with the likes of the X-Men movies or the likes of Twelve Years a Slave. This means Netflix will need to produce movies and lots of them, fairly rapidly. Otherwise they will find they have lots of series but no movies and that third parties don’t want to give them films because the service is taking away from their sales figures.
Can they afford to dish out the millions upon millions of dollars that this would require?
I doubt it.
Netflix Original films currently take up a very small amount of space whereas third party movies dominate. Up the Netflix Original content to 50%, largely via series as their own trends show, and you will scare off third party companies. Companies’ whose TV shows you can replace but movies you cannot. Then people will wish for the Netflix of yesteryear and will likely flock to Amazon, who offer a good balance of original content, exclusive third party content, TV shows and movies. Like Netflix currently do but likely can’t sustain in the future with this newly announced strategy.  
Perhaps I’ll be wrong, after all I’m no business mastermind and the guys behind Netflix are obviously pretty smart, but the road ahead looks rough. What do you think?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Authority Nutrition: 6 Science Based Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

Although the vegan diet and vegan lifestyle is primarily one of compassion and therefore being vegan for the animals and for the environmental factors is often the main reason for doing it, it is undeniable that there are numerous health benefits. You need only watch Forks over Knives and search around the internet to see that on an almost daily basis the evidence for a whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet being the healthiest option is growing.

That being said check out this great article from the good people of Authority Nutrition for 6, science based, health benefits of a vegan diet - ranging from cancer prevention to weight loss!


Friday, 23 September 2016

The Incredible Hulk TV Series

Considering that it ran in the late seventies and early eighties, I had assumed that the live action TV series, The Incredible Hulk, wouldn’t have aged too well. I recalled a couple of vague images and snippets of scenes from seeing my brother watch it on video as a child and thought I’d take a look and see how it’s done, after all it was always quite popular and is largely fondly remembered.

I’m pleased to say it’s actually aged quite well and is still a very entertaining and highly enjoyable show. The story follows David (no alliterative names here!) Banner and, after his research into amazing feats of strength leads to an accidental gamma overdose, it follows the Hulk too. David couldn’t shift his upturned car following an accident and so his wife died in its wreckage which led David to become obsessed with researching people who successfully completed such feats of strength in similarly arduous circumstances. The pilot ends with him and his research partner believed dead after a fire in their lab. Reporter Jack McGee sees the Hulk fleeing the scene and builds a career from following rumours and sightings of the Hulk across the country.

David drifts from town to town, under various aliases, seeking people and processes to undo the Hulk. You see him meet and help a variety of people, always happy to solve their problems before moving on with his own. Though it is kind of silly that in every place he visits he finds someone to take him in, give him work, and who then is in a sticky situation with some shady and often lethal characters for him to outsmart and defeat, it is a formula that ultimately works. It builds David as a morally rounded and likeable character with a tragic burden. It also provides plenty of pretty awesome Hulk action, where he gleefully tears rooms apart and tosses people around without ever doing any serious, non-TV friendly harm.

The Hulk itself is presented quite cleverly. Shots are stitched together of Lou Ferrigno, painted green, splitting his clothes apart by tensing arm, leg and back muscles. This means you only ever see individual parts of David turn into the Hulk and so don’t have to worry about terrible affects trying to show the whole transform in a body shot. It’s amazing what some crafty camera work, green paint, a wig and some green contacts can achieve. Sure it doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive as modern manifestations of the Hulk but it stands up well enough to not just be laughable. Not too shabby for a seventies show about an enormous green rage monster.

Honestly the worst aged effect is actually the transformation from Hulk to Banner. The same multi-shot approach doesn’t quite hold up as well, David gradually becomes less and less green and you can tell it’s basically a green shade imposed on top of the existing shot. It sticks out like a sore thumb and, though it does do the job, it looks pretty bad.

The acting, though rarely great, isn’t terrible. The core characters of each episode are usually a tad larger than life but largely well written and performed. The issues come from the more minor characters where their lines aren’t delivered in overly believable ways. It’s always passable but it does show the series’ age.

Despite a few signs of wear and tear The Incredible Hulk is a TV series that stands the test of time and is a very enjoyable show, if you’re a fan of the Hulk and are fed up of him being short changed in terms of his number of live action adaptations then I’d certainly recommend giving this a try, it does the character justice.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Problem with TV

In the UK you need a TV licence to watch TV, so unless you use Netflix and the like, you have to pay up. This is something being given a renewed focus recently as the BBC are renewing their creative efforts and making you pay for BBC iPlayer.

Problem is, most British TV is terrible.

Take away sports and the news and the majority of TV is has been celebrities, barely competent contestants and terrible writing. The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Great British Bake Off, Britain's Got Talent. Or day time TV like Loose Women and Jeremy Kyle. Then there are tired retreads like Still Open All Hours or Robot Wars. Or middle class masturbatory dramatisations of the British Empire and it's like in Victoria, Downton Abbey et al.

There is very little in the way of substance, in the way of interesting stories and compelling characters. There’s no Orange is the New Black, no Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. No Daredevil, no House of Cards, no Parks and Recreation. Even the English Office is terrible whereas the US Office is a classic example of great modern comedy.

Sits not all terrible; Doctor Who is good, Sherlock is good and the panel shows like QI are good. But Sherlock airs for three hours every two years and there's only so much one can take in terms of panel shows. Most British TV is made up of soap operas, reality shows and failed attempts at rebooting old classics. It has next to nothing to offer.

Until the likes of the BBC realise this, they will not have the young audience and, as their current audience literally dies out, they will find themselves in dire straits. Most young people want quality TV, until British TV creators give us this, we’ll stick with Netflix, Amazon and the like.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Lights Out Impressions

Lights Out was an odd experience, half good, half bad. I enjoyed seeing it but it was deeply flawed. The basic premise of the creature that appears in the dark and the design of said creature is excellent. Likewise the jump scares are great and whenever there is visible darkness in a room the tension is palpable.

The family who take on the role of victims in the film are pretty believable, well cast, well scripted and well acted. They each have their own story and it's not hard to care about them. Also the boyfriend is probably the nicest man in all of cinematic history. Seriously.

The problems come when they attempt to develop a backstory for the creature. Is she a woman with a bizarre and explainable biological condition or is she a supernatural being? It seems like they had a few ideas for her and instead of picking one and developing it they just mashed them all together.

It's a shame because, aside from one or two duff lines of script, this is the only flaw. Problem is, it's quite a big flaw and it makes the film seem a bit at odds with itself, unsure of what it wants to say or be.

The glowing eyes are a nice touch. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Humans are Herbivores, Not Omnivores.

Contrary to popular belief, humans are not omnivores. Biologically, physiologically and psychologically we are herbivores.

First of all, let's look at our jaws and teeth. Our lower jaw grinds and chomps, up and down, side to side. A meat eater’s jaw only goes up and down. Then there are the teeth, our teeth are not sharp enough to tear flesh. Ours are the teeth of a herbivore, not designed for flesh. Our tongue is short and smooth, whereas as a meat eating tongue is longer and rougher, good for stripping meat.

We lack the claws to tear flesh from an animal and we lack the intestines to digest it. Our intestines are long, designed for processing herbivorous food stuffs, not meat. If we eat meat we simply risk it rotting inside of us. Our mammary glands are also those of a herbivore, carnivorous and omnivorous animals possess more mammary glands than we do, likewise they have far greater numbers of offspring than we do.

We sweat through our whole body, where a meat eater sweats through their tongue, hence the panting.

Then let’s look at our instincts, we have no instinct for hunting and killing animals. We don’t pull over at the side of a road and chase after a wild animal, only to tear it apart with our teeth and hands and eat its raw, dead flesh. In fact we don’t generally eat raw flesh, doing so makes us ill. We treat our meat and prepare it specially so that we can handle it and even then the quantity which we consume has been shown time and again to cause illness.

There’s also the baby test. Place a baby in a cot with a rabbit and an apple. It will play with the rabbit and eat the apple. It doesn't have the instincts, nor the body, to eat the rabbit.

And yet, because moments like the ice age caused our survival instinct to make us eat meat, we consumed meat. The problem is we never switched back and now big industries and institutions tell us we need to eat meat and animal products to be healthy, no matter how frequently this is disproved and no matter how cruel doing so is. I get it, there is a tonne of money to be made through animal consumption. But we aren’t animal consumers, we aren’t designed that way, it doesn’t make sense that we do it.

Not convinced? Check out the Humans are Herbivores essay on Adaptt.org:

And watch this superb video:

Monday, 5 September 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Retro!

Night Terrors - ARG Survival Horror - Pokemon Go Meets Horror

Pokemon Go's time in the spotlight was fun but, now that the dust has settled, its clear that there is painfully little to the game and that, as such, it is dying off. Fortunately it has sparked massive interest in the AR genre, something that Night Terrors, the recently funded mobile game that fills your world with nightmares instead of Pokemon, can hopefully cash in on. 

Seriously this game looks awesome, take a look!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Guardian Says NHS Should Take Aim at Meat Eaters as Well as Smokers

The Guardian, in my opinion the finest newspaper available in the UK, has published an article in response to news that the NHS is to take aim at smokers - restricting and delaying surgery - and has called on them to also take aim at meat, since meat also causes cancer.

Though not strictly speaking a vegan article it is great that such an anti-meat message is being discussed in such a quality paper. Take a look at the link for all of the details and let me know what you think!


The West Records

If you enjoyed Marble Hornets, or are just generally a fan of horror, I strongly suggest you check this YouTube series out. I'm eight entries in after finishing Marble Hornets and I love it. 

Scarlett's Way Out

Oak Tree

The bird bath was just over a metre high, with a wide, shallow basin, filled to the brim. The robin dipped its head in, eagerly lapping at the cool, still water. Jay sat underneath the oak tree, resting her head against its bark, gazing up at the gnarled branches that stretched out before her. She ran a hand through her grey hair, from the thick end at the roots down to the thin, split ends draped across her narrow shoulders. She smiled as the robin, content with its drink, looked up at her and took flight to land on the end of one of the branches she could see.

The sun was out, obscured only occasionally by a passing white cloud, full and fluffy. The grass beneath her was soft and cool, long but not wild. The small stream on the other side of the bird bath made a soft trickling sound as its waters broke over the stones that were scattered throughout it. Accompanying it its steady rhythm was the soothing sound of the leaves on the oak branches rustling as they brushed past one another, disturbed only by a sharper rustle as the robin decided to swoop up or down, from one branch to another, chasing the gaps of sun that shone through its thick covering of leaves.

Listening to the sounds of the stream, the sounds of the leaves, the sounds of the robin, basking in the warm glow of the sun, Jay slowly relaxed her muscles, let her head roll softly to one side and drifted into a summer nap.

“Jay!” Short, sharp. Distant.

“Jay!?” A bark, closer.

“Jesus, Jay! Wake up!” Closer, footsteps, heavy, quicker than walking but not a run. Panting. Jay’s head snapped up, her hair moving sharply. She blinked her eyes open to see Roy, half running, half walking, with the redheaded girl, collapsed, in his arms. “Roy.” She said it with a mix of realisation and urgency. She stood and walked swiftly towards him, together they slowly, gently lowered the girl into the soft grass under the shade of the oak tree. The girl's eyes were closed, Jay touched her forehead, listened to the rhythm of her breathing, checked the strength of her pulse. “What happened?”

“She just collapsed! The birds...the birds were fighting, she was on her swings and looked scared. I, I went over to reassure her, touched her arm and then this.”

“Jesus Roy. You didn’t even bring him back did you?” Jay glowered at him, the harsh, stern, judging eyes that only years of marriage can seek to justify. Roy didn’t respond but he did look away from Jay and the girl. “Go and find him.” He didn’t move and again he didn’t respond. “Now.” Her tone was stone cold, dead and serious, her eyes fixed on him. Roy stood and turned, rubbing dirt from his elbows as he did so. He walked off without making eye contact or uttering a single word. Jay turned back to look at the girl, running a hand, affectionately, through her soft, red curls.

“Oh you poor, sweet girl.” Jay stood and went to the bird bath, the robin, perched on a branch above, followed her movements closely. She took off her cardigan and folded it into a small, flannel like bundle before thinking better of the idea and heading to the stream. She knelt and, with one hand steadying herself on the bank, soaked the cardigan in the water, feeling the cool of it flow over her submerged hand. She stood and returned to the girl, gently placing the wet cardigan on her forehead, careful to brush any stray red strands of hair aside.

Jay could tell the girl was dreaming, she could see her eyelids twitching. Jay made a shushing sound with her mouth and gently lifted the girl, carrying her over to the base of the oak tree and sitting her against its wide trunk. The blue sky was growing darker, a thick band of white cloud had moved in but was being followed by grey cloud, growing darker as it moved overhead. The robin, upon seeing the sky, took flight from its bird bath, taking one last look at its haven amongst the branches before flying to the edge of the cloud, towards blue sky and out of sight.  

Looking down from the darkening sky Jay could see Roy stomping alongside the banks of the stream, making his way back towards her. Before his face came fully into view she could tell he was nervous. He walked with sunken shoulders and kept his head fixed on his walking feet. He did not look up to the sky, not even for a brief glance. He had not found his bird, his raven, the one that had been fighting as the girl collapsed.

He looked up up at her as he drew nearer. His eyes said it all.

He had not found his raven.

It started to rain.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Batman: Arkham Origins - Deathstroke vs. Batman


I am an elephant sat on a shelf
In the corner of the room, looking out
At the world as time passes by.

People walk and talk and live and die
As I shelter in the quiet peace
Of pages and the friendly loneliness
Of imagination and isolation.

Thursday, 1 September 2016