So, the UK is being hit with some seriously crazy weather - gale force winds, non-stop rain and even friggin' blizzards up in the higher parts of the country. Apparently it's considered the worst Irish winter since 1963. Houses are left without electricity, the wind has knocked over all kinds of crap, and I don't think I've ever seen the roads so wet. I'm not joking when I say there's been puddles that have stretched across entire junctions.

And this is the day I choose to walk home from work rather than get a taxi. I seem to change my routine the very moment the world decides to screw me over. Actually, it wasn't too bad - I'd dare it was a very entertaining walk! There's something strangely appealing about being soaked so much that cars splashing me literally feels like nothing.



There's been a lot of movies I've been meaning to watch - Batman & Robin got me interested in going through the series in reverse order, and last year I watched Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which got me inspired to check out more of Mel Brooks' stuff. Rather than actually going about that, I just watched Rocky. And goddamn, am I glad I did.

I don't think it's possible to be aware of Western cinema and not even simply know of the Rocky movies. I knew they were movies about boxing, but I wasn't expecting it to be so much more. It's one thing to describe a movie as "one man's aspiration to make himself a better man," but it's another to actually see it in action. It's not just about Rocky winning a boxing match, but it's a beautiful slice of life of the suburbs of Philadelphia. Rocky's just this guy who bums around and makes ends meet via seedy jobs, but has a heart of gold and just wants to make people's lives better, even if he does come across as a motormouth dork sometimes. He ends up in love with a bespectacled pet shop attendant and turns her life around, which was previously made miserable by her lout-like brother, while that brother gets pretty violent and upset over how he believes Rocky treats him, but ends up in a good state himself thanks to profiting from Rocky's advertising. Rocky's main ambition regarding his fight with professional Apollo Creed is simply to last as long as possible and give him a fight to remember, not necessarily to beat him, and that's precisely what we get.

When I read that it was two hours long, I was a little worried, mostly because it seems a fair amount of movies don't seem to benefit much from the extra time, using unnecessary padding that contributes nothing and just makes it drag on. Rocky flies by quite smoothly and I never felt like I was watching a pointless scene - everything serves its purpose, if not for story purposes then to add a bit of heart to the characters. It's beautifully shot and wonderfully directed, and somehow it makes the seediest parts of Philadelphia look great; I can't say it enough how much I enjoyed the movie, and I would be more than happy to watch it again. Seriously.

Naturally, I'm rather worried that the sequels will lack the same heart this one has. I thought the first Rambo was fantastic, a brilliant mix of action and the titular character's internal drama, whereas the sequels mostly ditched that entirely in favour of making him into a stock action hero. Since Rocky is a little more down-to-earth I can't imagine the sequels can stray too far, but still. Then again, I'm not too fussed about watching them (and I don't think I've got them on DVD anyway) so I haven't anything to worry about.



And because my dad is suffering from a flu and has nothing better to do, we watched Wes Craven's New Nightmare, rounding off the Nightmare on Elm Street DVD box set. Unless we want to watch Freddy's Nightmares or Freddy Vs. Jason. I'm not in a rush!

Wes Craven is back in control, and thus takes the vibe back to the original movie, focusing more on slowly-building tension and horror than on the rather outlandish crap that went on in the sequels. The twist is rather than being on Elm Street, it's in the real world, and the victims are the real actors, effects crew and other poor saps. When I first heard of New Nightmare I was literally expecting just a typical Elm Street flick except with actors playing themselves rather than characters, but it's an entirely different ballgame, focusing on a strange supernatural vibe where the Nightmare movies were made as a story to seal Freddy away, but now that they're so popular, they've lost their impact and he's broken free into the real world, and starts harassing Heather Langenkamp with threatening phone calls and letters. And the whole thing is actually a script Wes Craven is writing. It's pretty meta!

It's kind of odd that despite the ridiculous concept, it's played more seriously than the "real" movies, with all manner of drama stemming from the stalker's calls and Heather's son Dylan being a typical horror movie creepy child, complete with prophetic sayings, weird habits and random screaming. Personally, that kind of spoiled it for me. Mind you, I'm not sure how much the concept could've been explored without something else to keep it going (since Freddy is mostly absent save for a few miniscule appearances before the climax), but when your traditional creepy kid becomes the main story highlight over the claw-fingered son of a hundred maniacs, it spoils the atmosphere. Mind you, the atmosphere is very strong and the supernatural mystery is very engaging, especially when it tries to wrap it in "reality," though it ends up coming across as a more typical horror movie than a traditional Elm Street flick. I definitely give props to Craven for going ahead with such an oddball idea, and it makes for a more fitting conclusion to Freddy's legacy than the rather anti-climatic explosion in part 6. But, yeah, I can't imagine this one is quite as rewatchable as the others.

Also, come on, Englund and Freddy never meet? Con of the century! You could argue that after Englund's painting he actually transforms into Freddy, but, yeah, that's just fanon.


Today's observations: I can't help but be amused by the names total strangers refer to me by. A schoolgirl called me a "trainspotter" as I was on a walk a few days ago, and in work today a group of people referred to me as Japanese. Because they thought my hair was black. The future of racial profiling, people!



I watched Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Technically it doesn't have Nightmare on Elm Street in its title, but I'm of the belief that the more subtitles something has, the funnier it is. Frankly, I wasn't expecting much after part 5 was a bit ropey, especially when it's tasked with creating a film that gives the genuine impression that the recurring reality-warping villain is indeed totally dead. Thankfully, this one just decides to cut the crap and have some fun.
Freddy's back, and now he's tampering with reality - people who enter dreams totally disappear and can be toyed with as he pleases! Is this given any explanation? Nope, the movie just runs with it and has some laughs. See, I personally thought the third movie had a nice balance; yes, the whole being-killed-in-your-dreams thing is frightening, but Freddy himself got pretty ridiculous after the second movie, but Freddy, the plot and the dreams had a good theme running throughout the third film, nothing ever felt like it was clashing too much. Hence why the fifth movie left me kinda torn - the dream sequences were positively outrageous and very entertaining, but it was all inside a rather humdrum storyline about some girl going "BOO HOO MY BABY" 24/7 that quickly became a serious drag, man.

This movie does focus on Freddy's history, the town of Springwood (where Elm Street is located) and drops Freudian excuses as to why he's such an evil bastard, but personally, what I got from it was they needed a freaky town of weird people and bizarre scenery so they could have some fun. Okay, the clinic for wacko kids is technically the main set piece of the movie, but it just exists solely to provide a get-together for the characters rather than as a facilitator for their demeanours and actions, like in the third movie. You never really learn or see much of the clinic, but given how nothing exciting happens there until the very end (and even then it takes place in the basement), it's clear the movie is much more interested in the wacky Twin Peaks style community. And I can't blame them. It's got looping roads!

People probably loathe this one because of how silly it takes itself (until they leave Springwood, that is, then it tries to get back to drama with mildly mixed results), but I love it for that reason. The likes of I-Mockery and X-Entertainment had led me to believe for many years that Freddy Krueger wasn't just a movie monster, but some kind of murder-comedian. So, for the first few movies I couldn't help but feel "... this is it?", and even with some decent lines, the delivery seemed often hit-and-miss. Thanks to the fairly light plot and abundance of dream sequences, Robert Englund really gets to ham it up with some ridiculous acting and corny, corny lines. I'm very disappointed that I had to wait six movies before Freddy dressed up as the Wicked Witch of the West, but also very relieved that it eventually happened.

Likewise, the character of John Doe is a fun character for Freddy to abuse, getting the most fun and outrageous dream sequences, and it's a downer that he gets killed off halfway through, although it is fun to switch main characters in a film like this. Yaphet Kotto makes for a fun mentor figure, and it's a nice change to have someone actually experienced in the psychology of dreams get involved; given his frequent mentions of being able to control his dreams, I couldn't help but expect an epic showdown between him and Freddy where they use DREAM POWERS to fight each other, but, yeah, that'd probably be pretty stupid.

It's fun, it's silly, and the great usage of quotes at the start really helps set the mood. Best one since part 3, personally! Mind you, the dreams weren't really that memorable outside of how cartoony they were at times, but the overall vibe and storyline kept it engaging for me.



Today's observation: Why didn't anyone tell me the "A" in "friggin' A" meant awesome? I've been using as an alternative for "for fuck's sake" for several months now and it turns out I've just been sarcastically saying how awesome the situation is. That is unacceptable!



Still trying to figure out what I did this week!


I finished reading Death Troopers, the zombie Star Wars book. It's a very enjoyable read, if a little short (the chapters are rarely more than four to six pages long), but the sheer idea of zombies in Star Wars is bodacious enough to keep me hooked. Plus they somehow rope Han Solo and Chewbacca into it! The climax is a bit of a bummer since they escape the ship and... that's it. No final solution to the zombie problem despite explicitly being aware it was designed to spread itself throughout the universe, they just comment "oh, the zombies can't fly ships" and that's that. Never mind the fact that the course of the story explicitly shows them learning and adapting to new things, using blasters and even X-Wing lasers with eventual ease, they just appear to decide it's not their problem now. It's obviously so other authors can take the concept and run with it, and presumably how it remains around for it to show up in Star Wars Galaxies, but still.

I swear when I finished it I had planned to write a longer and more detailed piece about the book. This week has ruined so many ideas.



What did I even do this week?

I know at least eight days ago I had a sore throat, which then developed into either a cold or a flu or something unpleasant and it's only now I'm properly recovering from it, but I can't really recall any events this week that seemed particularly productive. And I hate that. I'm one of those joyless bums that hates it if I go a week without achieving anything, even if it's as minor as writing a few hundred words of a story or making a good doodle or, well, anything. I've been playing a lot of video games and feeling like the living embodiment of a hell sandwich, but aside from that...


In unrelated news, how on earth did I spend £16 on Mega Bloks crap?

I got some Toys R Us vouchers in the mail recently; most of it was pretty unexciting (save £2 if I spend £20 or more on Transformers, that will mean so much to me!), but there was one that actually offered some decent savings, saving £5 if you spend £20 or more on Mega Bloks. And ever since I got those Halo Wars Mega Bloks sets, I love the line. The bricks suck, the quality control is a bit ropey and their attempts to be very fancy and revolutionary often results in things getting more awkward (there's quite a few instances of paint causing the elbows of figures to be ungodly stiff), but I still love them solely because their mini figures are so incredible. Two and a half inches of compact awesome.

For £16 I got two King Arthur Jousting sets (one with a dragon, a figure and a set piece, the other with just two figures), a Plasma Dragons dragon (Tailsmash!), and a Pirates of the Carribean Danger from the Depths set. They were actually discounted more than I thought they were, as the two King Arthur sets were a mere £2 each rather than the £5 advertised, so that was a bonus, though it did mean I couldn't use my voucher. In retrospect I could've gone back, grabbed more stuff and then used it just to get more for less cash, but I'm dumb like that.

As always, the mini figures are incredible. They've got such fantastic sculpting, detail and paint for such small figures, and I can't help but be amazed by how Jack Sparrow even has his eyes outlined in black. Now that's crazy amounts of detail! The King Arthur dudes have a gimmick where if you plug a gigantic battering ram into their back you can make them swipe with their swords, but it's pretty pointless and a waste of space, personally; this also means their right arms are hard to pose just right because of how the gimmick works, you need to push it a certain distance to "stick" or else it just springs back to the default position. Interestingly, the knights share the same body construction as the Halo Wars Spartans, whereas the Carribean guys have longer torsos and stubbier legs.

The King Arthur dragon feels like a giant prop; it doesn't look too bad and has some nice wide wings, but its mouth is forever open so it can house the ridiculously huge fireball, which can be shot out by pushing a button on its back. Most Mega Bloks sets usually includes soft plastic somewhere in them, and their Plasma Noun series is more or less totally comprised of the stuff, but despite the limbs being reasonably soft, the wings are fairly sturdy plastic. This does create a nice dynamic feel to it, but it also means the bloody thing takes up way too much space, though you can just pop them off if you so desire. Tailsmash, meanwhile, is entirely soft plastic and has a much smaller set of wings (mostly so he can fit into the egg-shaped packaging), and personally, I think it looks much better. It's a bit too soft for my liking (Bogkov was the right kind of balance in plastic) and the white paint feels a bit slapdash (especially since the box has the dragon purely white with little to no grey on it), but it looks pretty rad, even if it did cost more than the King Arthur set piece.

And then there's the Kraken. To be honest, I don't give much of a crap about Pirates of the Carribean, but I won't deny that Davy Jones looks rad and this big lug looks like pretty darn Lovecraftian. It's also frighteningly huge and I've no idea where I can even put it. It's currently just sitting on top of my GameCube controllers at the moment. Also yes I had to photograph this on my chair, I am really that pressed for space. Better photography to come when people buy some of the crap I'm trying to shift!



Watched Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. Given how uneven the fourth movie was, I was expecting the remaining parts to be pretty dire; some parts of this one felt very ropey, but some were pretty great. I'd dare say this was the instalment with the most consistently great dream sequences - all of the murders are inventive, brilliantly shot and at times pretty grotesque, and the climax, although a little ridiculous, does a great job of incorporating M.C. Escher's Relativity into film. The movie as a whole just looks great, and major props to the effects dudes and camera crew.

It's the plot where things kinda stink. Freddy is resurrected and it's said he can attack people while they're awake now, but then it's said that's achieved by using the dreams of the main character's unborn child, what with her ability to drag people into her dreams, and then Freddy's mother is involved and there's a bunch of characters with little to no exploration, and the male survivor from the first movie is killed off without even getting to know anymore about him, and, in a nutshell, there's a lot of elements that prevent the movie from flowing smoothly. There's no sub-plots that go wasted or anything, but the whole thing is a little nonsensical and, quite frankly, it was a bit of a struggle to watch for the first half of it. There is a valid reason for them to wait around before stopping Krueger, what with figuring out how he's attacking them while they're awake, the whole deal with him and his mother and what he's doing to Alice's child, which is more than can be said for the part 4, where it just seemed to be thinning out the cast until it was only the two most boring people left. It just didn't really flow too well as a story for my liking, and given the increased ambiguity as to when they were in a dream, it lost a lot of the clever moments that helped boost Dream Master.

Once again, I'm torn - in terms of how good looking the dream murders are, this one is the best so far, but actually watching the movie is a bit of a slog; it takes quite a while before it picks up, and even then it's not too gripping. Still, if you've made it this far through the series I guess there's nothing stopping you from watching it as well, unless you've only got like fifteen hours to live and you need to spend them wisely. In that case I recommend watching Goodnight Mister Tom several times in a row.



My cycle of fruitless productivity both frustrates and amuses me. I haven't written a good story in quite some time and given how work has me so majorly bummed, I feel something like that would help perk up my spirits. And then I just can't write. I open a blank Notepad document and stare at it, but my brain just grinds to a halt. No ideas spin around, no dialogue floats into my head - the miracle never happen. Sometimes it's because, quite literally, I'm out of ideas, sometimes it's just my mind is too caught up on other things, or it's just too noisy or busy to concentrate.

Quite a few times it's because I'm worrying about the site. "I haven't written a General Writing in a while! How can I be creative when my site needs some more snarky comments about video games?!" That's essentially how the new Super Mario Land piece came about, as I hesitated to upload the new hub page until I had a proper update to go with it, so I hashed that out. I'm a bit torn about it, to be honest; I've wanted to write about the game in more detail for quite some time and I'm quite happy with a few of the jokes, but... I don't know, I guess I'm just not too pleased with it, like it could've been better. There's quite a few General Writings I'm a bit "ehh" about and feel they could be better, but they're not dreadful. Sometimes it's because of the writing, sometimes it's because I loathe the way I laid it out. I find it difficult to go back to the Turbo Toons one because the images get kinda obtrusive. It takes a special kind of uninformed terrible to get me to remove it, though, which is why you shall never see the Shadow the Hedgehog review in its original form ever again. Or maybe if you get chatting to me I'll send it to you so we can laugh about it. Whatever works!

I think one of the problems is that my personal writing isn't going to have much of an audience, based on the simple fact that I don't know enough other writers to share them with, plus there never seems to be enough good sites for sharing fiction. There's a million havens for fan fiction, but nothing for originality! You wouldn't believe my disappointment that Writing.com wasn't so much a site for posting fiction as it was for people making absolutely terrible "interactive" fan fiction where someone writes a short segment, someone else continues it and so on. It seemed every single one of them would just be a video game character sitting in their house and answering the door, where it would slowly wade through inane banter with whoever was there. You have not known boredom until you read about Tails asking Shadow what he did during the weekend.

But basically, I'm saying that I'm suffering from a flu (again!) and thus have the perfect opportunity to sit down and be productive, and instead I'm ripping sprites and whining to myself that I should do something for the site. I have a bad habit of just being a jerk to myself!


So, yeah, how 'bout that Bomberman site?

Been in a bit of a rut regarding it. Haven't quite had the inspiration to work on it, and for some reason every time I look at it I feel like, man, this could look so much better. I had planned to redesign it when the hub was revamped, but that would've been a rather huge undertaking, never mind the fact I'm still undecided on the look. The GHZ is my main inspiration, as it's a fabulously informative site with a sleek, simple design and a great layout. I don't think most game sites are as graphical as the Shrine Place, using blank backdrops rather than tiled images, but I suppose I'll see what happens. Don't expect anything soon.

I'm still keen to do Jetters, although probably not as the Random Action Hour double feature as I'd planned - it'll likely just be plot summaries rather than a full-on screenshot blast, but it's just a matter of getting around to it. Been rather uninspired to do much of anything, lately, so please pardon the lack of productivity.


I got Left 4 Dead today. The primary reason I got the Xbox 360 was for online multi-player shenanigans, particularly with butt buddy RQ87 (man, it's weird not calling him Galv. I should probably just call him Mitch), but as he explained in his Shames of 2009 feature, we couldn't actually connect to any games together because of our NAT settings. We could reach the same server if it was hosted by someone else (which we could only achieve on Team Fortress 2), but we could never actually directly connect to one another. To say it was a bit of a bummer would be a serious understatement. But Left 4 Dead shares the same kind of online whatnots as TF2, so we managed to get a game together.

And what a joy it was! Co-op games are always fun (with the sole exception of Dark Tower) and having extreme difficulty is always a bonus, coupled with me being ludicrously inexperienced in comparison to the remarkably hardcore RQ, it's a barrel of laughs. For instance, in the very friggin' segment I shot him in the back accidentally and incapacitated him while I suffered the same fate via zombies, while our only hope was someone who claimed to be new to the game and went around setting off car alarms and getting himself killed, so the two of us just had to sit there and rot. I'm pretty sure I set him on fire a few times and no doubt had to put him through some serious scrapes just so he could revive my stupid ass. All in all, good times!



I guess I'm on a Star Wars kick lately! It started with reading Death Troopers, an expanded universe book set sometime before the events of New Hope where an unsuspecting prison barge becomes the scene of ZOMBIIIES. Zombies in Star Wars! I cannot help but find that to be an incredible concept, and it's a great read. Then I dug out some Xbox games I'd burned and tried out Republic Commando. Only played it for about ten minutes, but it looks rather enticing, if a bit of a blatant Halo rip-off. Its first ten minutes alone are pretty exciting, mind you, which is more than I can say for the Bungie title.

But I knew for certain I was on a kick when I popped in Star Wars Battlefront II, as I've somehow killed about five hours of my life on it in just two days. Maybe six hours, I've lost track. The point is it's a friggin' incredible game and I love the hell out of it. I mean, I tried a little bit of Battlefield 1942 and it wasn't bad, but for some reason making it third-person and having a Star Wars theme just makes it that much more appealing to me. Of course, playing it with my brother also makes it that much better, as although I love me multi-player of all varieties, it's the in-person variety that appeals to me most simply because of the competition it generates. Plus you can shoot Jawas! You feel like a terrible, terrible person for doing it, though, but the option is there.



Watched Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. I thought the third one was the best so far (at least, I remember it as the best, it's been a while since I saw the first one!) and was expecting things to be reasonably uphill from here, even taking into account how sequels do tend to stink.

The second and third movies tended to have some overarching theme to them - the second had Freddy taking over the mind of the main kid, and the third was the characters having abilities in their dreams. The fourth... in theory it's meant to be a continuation of the third, what with the three survivors of that one appearing complete with Kristen's drag-someone-in-for-help ability, but they're killed off fairly quickly (and without much creativity in their deaths) and a new girl is given that unique power, but believe it or not, it's actually totally pointless. Seriously! Maybe I've forgotten a minor detail already, but I'm pretty certain you could have removed that element from the movie and it wouldn't have changed a thing. I'd like to say "instead the movie focuses on the main girl's ability to 'take' people's souls," but even that isn't really used to its full potential, as the use of those abilities (which aren't anything cool like wizard power or having a mohawk, it just boils down to having some mild athleticism) is rendered pointless as the movie just throws her a ridiculous loophole to make Freddy explode.

This essentially boils down to the movie being rather aimless. The first three had rather distinct themes, but this one just seems to potter along, killing off people when it pleases until eventually deciding that the characters need to stop Freddy, by which point it only consists of the main girl and her completely nondescript boyfriend. I'm serious, the man has no characteristic features whatsoever. It's kind of disappointing, as there's a lot of great elements to the movie, most notably the camera work. Although it doesn't get enough opportunities to wow you, when it does it really creates a fantastic, dizzying, dream-like effect; even the opening credits of the girl creating a chalk drawing looked fantastic simply with some extreme close-ups and slow panning. The story, however... just felt a bit flat. I did find it interesting how the boyfriend woke up before they could encounter Freddy, something I felt hadn't been explored in the third movie, but aside from that, the plot was pretty thin and rather wobbly. The dream scenes were a particular highlight, mostly because how most of them really did just come from left field - who expected Freddy to be resurrected by flaming dog piss? The meatball scene is just fantastic and I'd probably say my favourite scene in the series so far, but for all the great ones the rest just seemed rather flat. The "let's suck face" kill might've been better if it hadn't looked so utterly ridiculous.

It's not bad, but this one just seemed rather unsure of what it wanted to do, and I can see how by this point the series is getting a little stale. I'll still be interested to see how the remaining three fare, but I can't say I've got my hopes up.



I watched the Fist of the North Star animated movie. Well, watched is a loose term. I had it on while I did some sprite ripping and paid attention when faces started imploding. To say it's got a story is like saying I'm a tube. There's lots of characters thrown around willy-nilly, a fair amount of set pieces for the two hour flick, but the story is vaguely defined and serves only as lead-ins for fight scenes at best. It doesn't help that I watched the English dub, gaining some surprisingly fun voice acting and corny dialogue in exchange for the story being seriously blurred. Raoh, rather than challenging the heavens, just goes on a typical cartoon villain rant about NO ONE CAN BEAT ME I AM SO STRONG. So, yeah, the story just revolves around chasing after Kenshiro's dame Julia and beating up everyone along the way.

I'd like to compare the movie to the original Transformers: The Movie, as they both exist mostly to display these cool characters and then have most of them killed off in wicked fight scenes with incredible animation. What makes it a little less accessible than Transformers is simply how long it is - while Transformers is barely over an hour long, Fist is ten minutes short of two hours and is very slow-paced for the most part. Transformers, for me, is the ultimate movie to just have some fun and then move on, because I can very easily just fast forward after the Starscream's coronation to the Unicron battle, because that's all I really care about. Fist of the North Star isn't quite so evenly split. It's an enjoyable movie and probably worth properly sitting down and watching sometime, but it's not a very rounded whole. Still, bonus points for James Avery voicing Fang.



I went to see a production of The Vagina Monologues. I had had a thoroughly miserable day and wasn't even expecting to go, but I'm glad I did, as tales of males being assholes and coochie-snorchers being mutilated was apparently enough to uplift my spirits. The fact at least three of my friends were in the performance was certainly a bonus, close chum Jo getting to talk about how she preferred to envision her vagina as a leather furniture suite. Evening well spent, I'd dare say. Rather thought provoking, personally, and it's amusing the contrast of how women talking about their vajayjays (because you see "pussy" is a term for vagina and "jayjay" is a type of bird and please tell me someone likes my linguist jokes :{ ) for an hour and twenty minutes is seen as enlightening and eye-opening, while men talking about their pork swords for the same time would be seen as crass. Can't say I'm complaining, mind you, as my workplace has enough of that kind of conversation as it is.



I saw The Wolfman last night. It's one of those movies that makes for an entertaining two hours and a bit of discussion afterwards, but is essentially entirely forgotten about the next day, and that's kinda what happened. The wolfman makeup was incredible and definitely the best looking human-style werewolf I've seen in film (I admit the more beastly type from the likes of The Howling are more to my preference), even if the climatic fight between the two wolfmen did kinda look like two hair people just jumping at each other (I think if they'd excluded the wolf nipples it mightn't have generated such an image). I was surprised at the big names involved! Anthony Hopkins was incredible as the main dude's dad with a brilliant blend of fatherly attitude and total asshole, and Hugo Weaving just stole the show as the inspector, not just because I only recognise him as the voice of Megatron. Benicio del Toro was a fantastic choice as the main guy, I must say - when an American is thrown into a British setting (never mind the fact he just lived in New York, not an actual apple pie citizen), I can't help but expect them to be prettied up and made into beautiful Hollywood supermodels, but Benicio has a fantastic face. It's a face lined with tragedy, remorse and weariness. I didn't expect it to be someone who'd actually been in other films, and then I found out he played Doctor friggin' Gonzo. Left field!

I haven't really much to comment about the actual movie, though. It's an entertaining flick with some beautiful set pieces and fantastic facial hair all around (never mind the black plague, old-fashioned ideals and general abundance of people dying a death, I'd love to live in that time just so I could have a walrus moustache). I found it kind of amusing how even for a movie rated 15, no actual animals are shown being hurt - the bear remains unharmed, the moose makes a getaway before Wolfie munches on it, and you never see if any unfortunate fate befalls the family dog, which is all in contrast to the humans getting legs, arms, faces and necks clawed off. It's especially odd in comparison to Eight Legged Freaks, where human death was mostly just action happening in the background while there were a substantial number of animal deaths (not counting the giant fucking spiders, of course). Food for thought.


I watched two more episodes of Buffy tonight (episodes 5 and 6 of series 1). Yeah, I'm ploughing through this show like a friggin' torpedo, aren't I? The first of them wasn't bad, but was wholly unremarkable - I'm very thankful the show has variety in its monster threats, because ones like this where it's just vampire prophecies get a little bit meh. The second of them was a fantastic step upwards, featuring hypnotising hyenas that make a group of teens become even bigger assholes and start eating people. Now that's what I call good television. I commented last time how Xander's a character I wasn't expecting much from, but he can be entertaining. It seems in regular episodes he's a bit of a bore and quite possibly unnecessary to the plot, but he becomes more entertaining when he takes the spotlight. I'm not sure what that implies. Lots of fun character interaction and highlights in this episode, and the zookeeper somehow became a really interesting character - I mean, he's barely got ten minutes of screen time yet there's just something intriguing about the weird guy. Maybe it's the fact he painted over his beard. Get a bit of a Cesar Romero vibe going on. I will say I was saddened by the abrupt consumption of the Sunnydale principal - I liked that guy! I will admit anytime a character shows up I ponder out loud "I wonder how many episodes that character will last before they snuff it," but given the fact he's the principal and had appeared in at least three or four episodes so far, I thought he was good for at least one season. I thought wrong.


So, yeah, the link to Rage Quitter's site is still on the hub. Once again with me being a serious procrastinator when it comes to redesigning stuff, I was hoping to have a freshly made hub page ready by this time which would have bigger buttons, more links and would simply fill up the screen a bit better, but I forgot how much I hate making buttons to represent the site. I'm going to have to make a proper Bomberman Shrine Place logo! I'll have to make a less shitty Random Action Hour button! Heck, I'll even have to give Metal Slug: Missing In Action some attention again solely to make a new button! However will I made a 350x300 image that represents Random Hoo Haas in a nutshell (without just having an image of me spewing excrement from my cake hole)?? A vexing experience, I must say.



I've been meaning to revamp the blog so it's a little more sophisticated than just a HTM file, but something that's a little more fancy and would allow tags, comments and other such things, but mostly just comments. I only know one guy who'd actually want to comment, mind you, but it'd be neat to have. And I just keep putting it off. My first idea was to work on it before 2010 so the new year could start with some mild excitement, but that didn't happen. And then I planned to do it for March, but then I forgot the February is several days shorter than a regular month and didn't have the time (and I ultimately just dinked around with WordPress for five minutes, had no luck and proceeded to delete it). I'm a fickle, fickle man.


On the subject of being fickle, I bought Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360. You know, the one that's said to be the worst in the series (no, not the other one that was hoisted with that statement... or that one) and has hedgehog-human romance? Yeah, that one. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that I didn't get it sooner, given how I'm a big of a Sonic nerd. I'm not as wild over the series as I used to be, but I can still say with certainty that I think Sonic Adventure is pretty awesome, although probably for all the wrong reasons. To be honest, I'm not sure why I like the series - the 2D games are decent in a hard-to-pinpoint manner and although everyone cries about how the new games suck and the old games ruled, nobody seems to have a valid reason why they were good. Yes, in comparison they're better thanks to good level design, smooth pacing and difficulty among other factors, but what made them good in the first place? Could be worth exploring.

So, yeah, the 360 game. There was a blog entry long ago where I was legitimately excited about the game, and even when word spread that the game was comparable to simian faeces, I was still mildly optimistic. I mean, it looked like the closest thing we had to the original Sonic Adventure, and come on, it looked like a proper game. I still don't see how The Secret Rings was sold at full price, given how the core of the game relies on sidestepping away from obstacles.

I'll be honest - I can't even try to step around the fact that the game is broken as hell. Sonic is wildly out of control, the homing attack arcs as smoothly as a brick, and the camera is somehow even worse than the previous games. Yeah, don't ask me how, but they did it! Even just from two levels' worth of story it looks like a wonky mess (I literally cringed when Elise did the "oh no you're hurt let me tend to your wound" cliché), and my god, even after downloading the game to the hard drive the load times are still hilariously bad, not to mention prompted for remarkable trivial reasons. Sandwiching a boss' death animation between two separate loading screens is just... wasteful. And, yes, Sonic cutscenes have never been the epitome of good timing, choreography or anything actually good, but when the framerate lags and desyncs with the audio solely because the game is struggling to load the lighting effects, that's just bad.

And it's a shame. Ignoring all the extraneous cutscene bullshit, this really looked like it was trying to make a decent game on par with the original Sonic Adventure. I won't deny its priorities seem to be rather inconsistent (one of the early claims was that it was just going to be Sonic and Robotnik, no one else, and you don't even reach the first stage before you run into Tails) and even if it was polished and bug tested, some of the crap shoehorned into gameplay would still be rather mediocre. But, personally, given the run-forward-and-move-away-from-incoming-danger nonsense we've been getting lately, anything that feels like a proper adventure game is fine by me. I'll have to stick with it a while longer before I can get some proper opinions going (I haven't even played as Silver or Shadow yet! I haven't even played it for an hour, for crying out loud!), but I'll definitely admit it's an... interesting first impression.


I watched Eight Legged Freaks. I was going to watch the fourth Nightmare on Elm Street movie, but then my dad dug this one out and I opted for it instead. Radioactive waste causes giant spiders to terrorise middle-of-nowhere small town, and when they've milked the best bits of that concept, they move the setting to a shopping mall. It's a very silly movie! Judging from this and the only other giant spider movie I've ever seen (Spiders, natch), moviemakers seem to have a thing for avoiding giant spider stories from getting too scary. Spiders was, well, pretty stupid and full of ridiculous moments when it wasn't using some pretty decent body horror, while Eight Legged Freaks, although ripe with spiders and ripe with freaky imagery, it's very light-hearted and the arachnids all chitter amongst themselves like octoped Gremlins. Seriously, cut a few scenes of spiders being stupid, throw in more jump scares and ask out the characters who are actually entertaining and the movie could very well transform into a generic teen horror flick!

Heck, even the original short film that inspired the movie (graciously included in the special features) is more frightening simply because the spiders make no noise whatsoever. Okay, a real spider making little chattery noises would be pretty unsettling (I CAN HEAR THEM BUT I CANNOT SEE THEM) and no doubt being trapped in a shopping mall with them surrounding the outside bleating away without end would be doubly so, but silent killers are always scary shit. I was a bit disappointed in the ending of the short, though. She blows up the spider and she goes outside to recuperate, and then it's implied giant killer rats will be the next upcoming threat. Boo hoo? Having mice in your house is not cool at all, giant mice doubly so, but the problem is that mice have the same basic physical structure of cats and dogs - big ol' eyes, cute little whiskers and four adorable little feet. Spiders are automatic scare quality because they've got like eight legs and a million eyes and probably four arses. I was personally expecting her to leave the house and instead find a big swarm of spiders descending upon her, but I guess that's a bit much to ask from a student film.

So, yeah, silly-amusing movie. If Capcom ever want to make a spin-off of Dead Rising, they don't need to look any further than this movie as inspiration.


Today's observation: Overhearing a 9-year-old tell another 9-year-old "your ma does it doggy style" is very unsettling.


Tonight's observation: If I spontaneously died at this very hour, it'd be kind of embarrassing to have the Wikipedia article of Clifford's Big Red Movie as the window displayed on my computer screen. (Can anyone tell me what the hell the significance is of the first sentence in the plot summary? It sounds like someone's just going LOOK LOOK I MUST MAKE THIS MINOR VISUAL TRANSITION A BIG DEAL)