Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year In Review: 2013

So 2013 rolls to a close and it seems traditional to do some sort of summation of the year. I'm always hesitant with these sorts of things, especially the largely artificial process of comparing X to Y to see which one "wins", so I've settled for a "In No Particular Order, Top Three" for entertainment which I have consumed this year. Its also traditional to point out things you are pleased about, so I'll do that too! 

A full list of everything I've been up to is here

Monday, December 30, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Well Christmas has passed and as usual it's been a blur of food, drink, presents and no small amount of films and TV, which I shall manfully try and catch up on in the next week or so. From a geek perspective, I guess the big ones are the Doctor Who Christmas Special and the new Hobbit Movie, and it is with the latter that I guess I will start. As with last year, we took Ewan (and this time, his cousin) to see it at the multiplex near my parents, and was with last year I was faced with an array of options to see it in, settling for good old-fashioned 2D, because that was bloody expensive enough, thanks. But anyway, to the review-mobile!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Games Review: Tomb Raider

OK, I'll start with a confession - I've never been a fan of the Tomb Raider series. In fact, in some ways I think I actively stayed away from it, wary of it after an uninspiring few sessions with one of the early games and the general presentation of Lara Croft - sexy gun-bunny in tight pants Lara - as some sort of example that games weren't all about male characters. I mean, Lara has always come across as a male wish fulfilment character, aimed and marketted at the "boobs and guns" market, she's hardly a sign of any sort of progression in gamings depictions of women. But, many people have spoken of the new Tomb Raider as something different - not just a dreaded reboot of the the series but a genuine new direction in lots of ways, so I picked it up in a Steam Sale to give it a whirl.

Monday, December 16, 2013

DVD of the Week: Monsters University

I can remember a time, not so long ago, when Computer Animation was bemoaned in many places as responsible for the "death" of the animators art, and the rise of the digital age would lead to a glut of senseless, soul-less kids animation. Because y'know, we never got those previously, right? And then can remember another age, when Pixar bestrode the world, and could do no wrong, unless, Icarus-like, they crashed to the earth with a run of merely decent movies with safer premises than say, a Robot Trash Compactor in Love, or an Old Man flying his house to South America to die. Which brings us rather neatly to Monsters University, a prequel to early Pixar triumph, Monsters Inc.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Movie Review: Catching Fire

There is a belief in some quarters that the pre-teen and teenage market for action-film and TV is skewed towards male heroes because the boys watch it want to see "themselves" up on the screen. But I don't buy this, for two main reason; firstly, it's reductive and dumb, and secondly, I live with a pre-teen boy who really, really wanted to see Catching Fire. And on it's box office results so far, so do a lot of other people, boys, girls, man and women. So maybe if you a make film with solid action and a compelling lead character, gender isn't that big of a factor?

Monday, December 9, 2013

DVD of the Week: Byzantium

Ah, Vampires. Now the Zombie is the go-to-guy for monsters who really mess you up, the Vampire has been pretty solidly cemented in it's role as the Horror Icon who is really just you, the mis-understood outsider. The Van Helsings of this world have become the oppressors, and the Draculas the heroes. Lonely, tortured, mopey, pretty heroes. I blame Anne Rice.  Or Francis Ford Coppola. Or Both. And of course the mopey teenage angst sort of Vampire Story is even more dominant with the recent success of Twilight, and it's interesting that this weeks film, Byzantium, seems to want to be like both Rice and Meyer in its two lead characters arcs.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Comics: Thoughtbubble Round Up!

It's been a couple of weeks since Leed's annual Thoughtbubble Convention, which is one the highlights of my year, not least because its in my Home City and I can spent lots of time there without having to worry about transport, hotels and the like. But it's also a fantastic atmosphere to be in, with a open, egalitarian spirit to the tables, panels and general con culture that makes it such a pleasure. And each year I go with a wodge of cash to spend with as little an idea on what I want as possible, just so I can pick up stuff that grabs my interest. So this year, these are the results:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DVD of the Week: Robot and Frank

Looking back over the last few weeks this has seemed in danger of turning into some sort of Doctor Who blog, and whilst that may be expected given the sheer volume of 50th anniversary stuff, it does throw into sharp relief that it's been over a month since we last sat down with a movie to watch in the comfort of our own home. And in many ways thats a good thing, because one of the risks of being a parent is that it's easy to spend all your time once the kids have gone to bed watching movies in the comfort of your own home. But in many ways I've missed it, and it was nice to get back to the habit, especially with a low-budget charmer like Robot and Frank