Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of 2015: Books and Comics

So to finish off our trilogy of 2015 reviews, we come to the written word. This year I've managed to read 30 books, which I think is a record for recent years, and I'm quietly pleased about it. It's been skewed in some strange ways (more on that for a minute) but its also broadly diverse in others. I've rolled comics into this post as there has been a more "steady as she goes" feel to my comics reading, but even there I think I've done alright. Lets get to it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I was sitting waiting for The Force Awakens to start, and in that moment of semi-darkness before the adverts roll, I found myself worried about my own reaction to a film I hadn't yet seen. The thing is that I wanted The Force Awakens to be good, I'd been told it was good, the trailer had pre-sold me on the notion that it would be good, and yet I'd spent a long time trying to hold back that hope for fear of dissapointment. I'm not someone who hates the prequels - I'm rather fond of Revenge of the Sith, for a start - but they are flawed and dissapointing, only sporadically capturing what is so attractive about the Original Trilogy. So my fear was simply that if The Force Awakens showed even a pretty basic level of competance, some sort of dam would break in my head, and any critical thought would be washed away in gleeful enjoyment.

And yeah, thats pretty much what happened. A couple of days on I think I'm capable of a more balanced appraisal, but beware, all the spoilers await below.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Best of 2015: Games!

Right, onwards with the review of the year. For all we watch about a movie a week, and for all I've managed to read quite a bit, this year has probably been dominated by gaming; both electronically and around a table. The former has become a main source of relaxation; and a lot more solo-oriented than previous years, whilst the latter has has largely been driven by the kids, now Robert is old enough to get into something a little more complex than Mousetrap. By my count I've played 14 video games this year, and 18 boardgames (some several times and one a lot) so I feel thats a pretty varied run. Lets break it down a bit.

Monday, December 21, 2015

TV Review: Marvel's Jessica Jones

When Netflix announced it's deal to bring a bunch of Marvel Superheroes to it's service in the form of four "street-level" stand-alones followed by a "Defenders" series, one of the more interesting aspects was the choice of characters they were using. Sure, Daredevil is a reasonable name, and Power Man and Iron Fist (currently also appearing in the Ultimate SpiderMan cartoon) are names you might be able to pick of a line-up, but Jessica Jones? Thats pretty obscure. Not that that is in itself a problem, of course - a clean slate in terms of wider perception can be a great opportunity - but there was definately an audible sound of journalists rushing to Wikipedia to try and work out who she is, and what the story would be. And Daredevil came and went, and was a great meditaion on the morality of violence, and guilt, and power, and brought us the stand-out villian that the MCU in any form has been desperately lacking (give or take the occasional Loki). But now we have Jessica Jones, which is about something entirely different. (Warning: Spoilers) 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Best of 2015: Films (and DVDs)

No, I haven't seen The Force Awakens yet. However, I'm going to start what I hope will be a short series of posts with a run down of the best films I've seen this year. The rules are pretty simple - it has to have been the first time we've seen it, so doesn't have to be a technical 2015 release, and it can be DVD, cinema, streaming, whatever. TV movies don't count, documentaries do. I count 11 trips to the cinema this year and 35 Home viewings, which is pretty going going! So, lets work through this. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Life with Rats

Over the summer we started to get some pressure from Robert to get a pet. We're not too sure where it originated - school probably - but he was sufficently persistant that we started to have some confidence that it wasn't a passing fad, and so looked into it a bit. Our two-jobs-two-kids lifestyle isn't good for dogs, and whilst we've had cats in the past the house is now a little bit small for us, and has no catflap, so that seemed out too. Also, our last two cats were living with my parents, and were now too old and spoiled to come home. So small pets - you'd have to be nuts to believe any child will really pull much weight in looking after them, so it would be down to us, and ideally something (bluntly) doesn't live too long but is still lively and interesting and fun to be around. Somehow Zoe and Robert put their heads together and came up with...Rats!  And a lot of people said "What? Rats?!!" but thats what we went with. So here is a brief summary of our first month with our furry nutters; Nibbles, Curious, and  Cheeky. 

Yes, we let Robert name them. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

TV Review: Doctor Who, Series 9

Another series of Doctor Who rolled to a close on Saturday night, with all the attendant trappings that we have come to expect - rampant speculation as to the future of the show, complaints from people who never liked it but watch anyway, and enouogh spoilers to equip the NASCAR racers for a year.  I understand that there was a happy time, once, when people watched Doctor Who because it was fun family entertainment, but that may just be a myth, or perhaps a story, where a memory once was. It's certainly been an interesting season, where the transistion from the tone of the 11th Doctor to the tone of the 12th has been completed. and we can perhaps get a better idea of what this era is all about.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DVD of the Week: Pitch Perfect 2

If it seems a little like our frantic consumption of pop-culture has slowed a little, then I guess that's because it has. Some of this continued busy times in the household in the run-up to Christmas (yes, its that time of year!) which seems to peak in early December before slowing down for the actual holiday. But it's also because a lot of the "new season" shows are now up and running, and filling our hours without actually finishing; a quick count reveals at least 7 ongoing shows we are working though at varying rates. But, we are trying to stick to "Movie Night" on saturdays, and most recently it was the follow up to the unexpectedly good Pitch Perfect, expectedly called Pitch Perfect 2.