25 November 2009

Riding the Wave

I haven't posted anything here for ages. That sucks. Oh well indeed.

Got Google Wave from an e-friend on one of the forums I frequent, and I have to say, if it catches on...goodbye e-mail. This is, pure and simply, one of the best ideas to hit the inter-super-highway for quite a while. It's essentially - for those of you not keeping up - an amalgamation of e-mail, instant messaging, and whole manner of other community- and user-driven web resources. 'Communications platform' is the term being thrown at it, and it'll probably stick.

But yeah, it's genius. I presently only have 1 contact and no opportunity to add more so far, so it's a little limited for myself at present. But when it does catch on, it'll be epic. That and it's named after a concept in Firefly...that just gets the geek in me (and the one very much on my exterior...) salivating furiously. So yeah, I'll send you wave...soon as I can. Woo and indeed hoo.

Elsewhere, Winter Wonderland has started once again, and that's the main reason why I haven't been posting anything interesting here. I did get a few more reviews published over on Last Broadcast (here, here and here), so do check them out! Maybe even buy them, who knows...?

And did anyone else notice that Scotland beat Australia. Or rather: Australia lost a game to Scotland. Seriously...where did they get that kicker? Was he plucked, semi-inebriated from the local Walkabout? They had that game by the balls, and all he did was balls it up. Matt Giteau's his name. What a plonker. Still, nice to have 2/3 victories so far...all that remains is Argentina on Saturday. Grudge match against those that knocked us out of the world cup in 2007. Joy.

That's about it, really. Still playing Modern Warfare 2, and it still kicks ass. The sheer variety of play-styles available in the multiplayer is enough to keep me going back for more.

Anyways, I shan't rant any longer on the subject. 'T'would be...unhealthy. Adieu and goodbye, fair internet-travellers.

13 November 2009

I lost 2 stone!

But alas, it was only in hair. Yes, after nearly 18 months of growing my ridiculous barnet, I've had to bite the bullet and go in to the dreaded hair-dressers. The nice Polish lady did snigger at me when I told her I did cut it myself a couple of times before she went to town with a pair of scissors and a water-spray-can-thing. 20 minutes later, I look like a Lego man - to be expected: no hair-cut looks instantly right on my bonce for whatever reason. Little bit of hair gel and it'll be right as rain - just for the moment it looks a bit odd.

I have also lost quite a bit of weight - six stone in 14 months no less - which was rather impressive. I'm now a shapely 16 stone and XL, instead of a 22 stone, XXXL monster. Yay! Still classed as 'Overweight' by the ridiculous scale of BMI, but I care so little about that I could genuinely pass out.

Bought and played Modern Warfare 2. Well, I say 'bought' - I didn't actually hand over any money for it. Gamestation were doing a deal whereby you traded in 2 games from a big list, and get MW2 for £4.99. I traded in 3 games, and hey presto, 3 games I don't play any more (Borderlands, CoD4, The Orange Box) becomes one glorious paragon of virtual entertainment.

The campaign is - difficult though this thought may be - infinitely superior to the previous installment. Everything about it has been kicked up a notch, and for those of us who've played the last one, that's really saying something. There's a particular moment in Call of Duty 4, and for sake of avoiding spoilers, we shall call it The Scene, wherein you are inside the head of a man who's more or less in the epicentre of a nuclear blast. Harrowing, haunting and meaningful, it was one of the stand-out moments of gaming in 2007. Modern Warfare 2 matches that intensity at least five times during the campaign.

First there's the highly controversial level in which you watch - or indeed partake, if that floats your boat - the massacre of innocent civilians. If your heartbeat is steady after its startling conclusion, you're not really human. Then there's a fantastic sequence in the snow of the Russian mountains involving ice-climbing and a snow mobile. Then there's the spectacular free-run across the roof of a Brazilian favela. Then there's the moment that you're winched to safety after rescuing a familiar face from the depths of a Russian prison. And finally, there's some good old-fashion movie referenes, most notable here being The Rock. Two sequences are more or less directly ripped off from Bay's seminal opus, but you can forgive them thanks to the sheer majesty that these two set pieces bring to the final few levels of the game.

Chances are that if you have any interest in the Call of Duty series at all, or indeed in FPSs in general, you've already got this. But if you're still on the fence - a piece of advice. Go out and buy it now. This is one of the most entertaining, harrowing and explosive adventures to have ever seen light on any platform. You do owe it to yourself.

Elsewhere...I start work on the 28th! Huzzah! Winter Wonderland again - so being cold and wet may well be the order of the day - but it's money. Yay! Handed in my contract and availability today with Fee, and hopefully we'll be able to score some extra work putting the place together. Fun times.

Can't think of anything else. So I'll leave it at that. Have fun, kiddies.

2 November 2009

Up Review

It's likely that at this juncture, you've heard about the first 10 minutes of Up. Be it from a review, or indeed from anyone who's seen the movie, there is a rather good reason for this - it's among the finest pieces of animation that you will see for a long time. Unfortunately, that cannot be said about the rest of the film - despite the fact that it is fully brimming with the wit, invention and charm that Pixar are so very good at. It's not that the film is bad. Far from it, in fact, this is one of the best films you'll see this year. The problem is that it flirts rather too closely with disappointment, and this is something of a first for Pixar.

Essentially a mismatched buddy comedy done Pixar style, Up tells the story of an old gent named Carl Frederickson, who has led a genuinely amazing life as a balloon salesman. We get a brief glimpse of this at the start - remember how we talked about the first 10 minutes? - but the main story kicks off just after Carl's wife and childhood sweetheart dies of old age. Carl becomes a recluse, regretting his forgotten promises to Ellie and seemingly just waiting to die. Until, that is, he decides that he can do something about it, straps balloons to his house and flies to South America - specifically, a place called Paradise Falls, where he and Ellie always dreamed of seeing. Unexpectedly, a young 'Wilderness Explorer' accidentally stows away onboard, and the ensuing adventure to get the house perched atop the Falls sees them get entangled with Carl's childhood hero Charles F Muntz and his army of talking dogs, whose pursuit of a rare bird turns decidedly psychotic.

Detaching oneself from its forebears, the film is nearly immeasurably good. Once again, the boundaries of realism are pushed ever further by those tenacious RenderMan-jocks, with some of the vistas of a non-specific South American jungle so vivid and lifelike that there are a couple of moments where you may well find yourself wondering if you're watching a nature documentary. Director Pete Docter handles everything rather deftly - from his incredible, emotional journeys into Carl's psyche to his bold action sequences to the nearly impossible task of making a talking dog charming instead of annoying, Docter melds them all into something that will make you laugh, cry and stay perched on the edge of your seat. Sometimes all three at the same time.

There are, however, a few niggling complaints that ebb into your thoughts when you do take into account the trash robots, talking cars, toys and rats. Despite clocking in at a kids'-backside-friendly 96 minutes, the actual plot is spread incredibly thinly over the fantastic locations and wondrous characters. Considering that Pixar have made name for themselves with their hefty story-telling abilities, this does leave you feeling a little short-changed as you walk out the cinema. There's also very little invested in building up the antagonist so that his demise actually feels like a victory - after those wondrous first 10 minutes, he's barely in the film until his spectacular exit.

Finally, and ultimately this is Up's central flaw - the film simply feels like it has its emotionally payoff too early. To fully explain why is to spoil the utter majesty of the moment, and if there is a more spectacularly ambitious way to derail your movie, I can't think of it. But the simple fact is that after those staggeringly gorgeous first 10 minutes, there is almost nothing in the rest of the movie that can rival it - barring a reference back to those 10 minutes that will jerk tears - and it feels all the poorer for it. And whilst Wall-E had enough magic and wonder after its opening to pull this feat off, Up just falls short, and this, as I say, borders dangerously close to disappointment.

Take heart, though - this is still Pixar, and is still utterly, utterly wonderful. If any other studio had produced this film, five stars would be the order of the day. But the sad fact is that Pixar are capable of so much more, and that is genuinely saying something given just how incredible this 'misfire' is. See it.

1 November 2009

Lack of updatage...

So! Sorry about the utter lack of updatage. Had terrible bouts of insomnia as of late, and being tired isn't exactly the first state that I like to be in when I'm sitting at a computer screen trying to arrange my thoughts!

Pissing down with rain in Edinburgh at the moment - actually the first proper autumn rain we've had, and it's bloody November! The dripping on the scaffolding is infuriating, especially late at night, though that's not really the reason for my lack of sleep. Hardly helped though.

Also! Good news! I have a pseudo-job reviewing DVDs! Which is pretty cool. Big shout out to Last Broadcast for being kind enough to let me spout my madness on their website. Anyways, my first review was of Trinity, and that's been published, so head over here to have a read of that. Next up is Year One and The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Edition, which should be posted tomorrow. Watch that space or indeed this space for linkage!

Reviewing Wizard of Oz was rather tricky, to be absolutely honest, and I'm not really sure that I pulled it off. It's a modern classic, for God's sake! People have written dissertations on this stuff! Well, whatever - as of tomorrow, my two cents will be added into the mix. And seeing as they're grounded in a childhood fascination with the film, I'm kinda worried they're a bit disjointed!

That's about it, really...I'm working on reviews on Up and Borderlands. Hopefully should have those up soon, though the Up one may dissappear thanks to my hearing my own damn opinions on a certain radio show! Annoying when someone beats you to the punch, even if it would hardly matter if I beat him to it - because people would believe him over me every time!

Anyways! Have fun in Internet Land. Remember - click your mouse three times to get the hell out of there.