Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Games Review: Batman: Arkham City

Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum was one of those games that had a lot to prove and more than managed it. Superhero games generally, and certainly Batman games (Telltales' Lego Batman aside) have a deservedly poor reputation, and a game that not only managed to simply good, but also capture the world and feel of being the Caped Crusader in a focused, kinetic and downright fun game. 

So the inevitable sequel arrives, promising more. More villains, more story, more locations. Holy Feature Creep, Batman! Sequels generally go in one of two directions - make the same game again (hello Uncharted 3!) or make large-scale changes and risk breaking a successful formula. Arkham City attempts to split the difference, bring some  pretty big changes on the one hand, and staying true to a successful formula on the other.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Movie Review: Hugo

One of the big surprises for me when we went to see Tintin was the trailer for Hugo. Surprise mainly for one simple fact - Martin Scorsese made a kids movie?? in 3-D??? WHAT? I love Scorsese, as a working director today only Steven Spielberg comes close in my estimation for the breadth of talent on display, and since Gangs of New York he's felt liberated from the need to make an Oscar-winning magnum opus (and then he won an Oscar anyway!) and made some quite diverse and interesting movies because, I get the impression, thats what he wants to do. And from the trailer I got the impression of a real kids film - a train crashing though a station, a kid hanging off a clock, Sacha Baron Cohen playing the villain. I just had to see it.

And really, it's not like that at all. It's something far more magical.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Box Set Blues: Treme, Season 1

I was having a conversation in the car a couple of weeks ago about some of the TV we've been watching at home, and my wife pointed out that "not every show can be The Wire, you know." It's a dig not just at myself, but also at the constant harking back to David Simon sprawling Baltimore-set series as the pinnacle of modern television against which any other show that aspires to greatness must be judged. In fact in some quarters the reputation of the The Wire is so great I expect anyone who watches based on this reputation is bound to be disappointed that it doesn't reach out of the television and physically reroute their brains' sense of taste forever.

So when David Simon makes another TV series set as a portrait of a city, this time post-Katrina New Orleans, with an eclectic, talented cast and a mission to explore as broad a tapestry as possible, comparisons are inevitable. But Treme isn't The Wire. Nor should it be.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review: Snuff

Among the many, many, sobering reminders that I am getting "old" is the release of a new Discworld Novel. I read my first Discworld book - Mort, as it happens - whilst studying for my GCSEs, which was over half a lifetime ago. Which is a long time, when you look at it like that.

Perhaps I shouldn't look at it like that.

Anyway, Terry Pratchett is still turning them out, and I'm still buying them; the new one, Snuff, is apparently the 39th. And the sad truth of Pratchetts' Alzheimers means that we may not get very many more, which is a shame on any number of levels, but for now, lets just have a look at this one.