Thursday, 27 December 2012

Betrayer (Book Review)


As with the last book review this is posted in full on http://thefoundingfields.com/ and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.

However Aaron Dembski-Bowden goes about covering events of prior Heresy installments in a very different way. In this, much of what is seen makes you want to go back to re-read titles and look at them again with the revelations now known. Right in the first few pages there are scenes which seem to address a number of criticisms and fan objections to Battle for the Abyss and the actions of Magnus the Red. Nothing so extensive that it smothers the opening of a very good tale. Instead feeling like it’s addressing older flaws on short notice while managing to make them feel at least somewhat meaningful. These scenes never last more than a few pages at a time but on almost every occasion they offer new insights into events, characters and even the primarchs themselves. Best of all none of them ever feel like they’re betraying said characters, simply expanding upon what was previously told.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

R.I.P. Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson: Gerry Anderson with memorabilia at an auction at the Battersea Arts Centre

There have been a number of acting and entertainment legends who have died since this blog’s beginning. Many who were in films both famous and terrible which I have been tempted to commemorate, but this one was especially close to home.


Famous for his use of marionettes and puppets, Anderson helmed a large number of shows I watched as a child such as Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, and Stingray. First created in the 1960s but repeated often enough on TV and VHS for many to be fortunate to view them.

While by no means the most technically advanced by today’s standards, they were a major leap forwards for their time and still hold up well when compared to many others of that time. 
While not known for their great storytelling, the shows were far more willing willing to display things like death and loss to children than many of that era and others following. They featured a future which was bright but not without problems and are best remembered for their outlandish and futuristic aesthetics. 
His unique touch on many series could be found in their design and construction and was an element instantly recognisable to those who knew it.

Anderson’s involvement brought about some great shows and films with his long career in the industry could be found on many films and productions. Working in a multitude of different roles long before his fame.

He will be sorely missed.


Gerald Alexander Anderson, film and TV producer, director and writer.
14 April 1929 - 26 December 2012

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Bloodquest: Prisoners of the Eye of Terror (Audiobook Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on http://thefoundingfields.com/ and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.




Sunday, 16 December 2012

Men of War #1-8 (Comic Review)







Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Film Review)




Going into the Hobbit there is one thing you need to keep in mind – This trilogy is going to be a very different breed of animal from the last quest across Middle-Earth. In terms of literature the Hobbit was almost as far away from Lord of the Rings as that trilogy was from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Trying to adapt it with the same grand tone of a clash between good and evil was out of the question. It simply wouldn’t have worked with the far smaller and more human tale and as a result Peter Jackson did not try to directly replicate the approach he had taken to his previous epic. Those going in expecting another Lord of the Rings are going to be severely disappointed. Those going in expecting to watch an exceptional film are going to be more than satisfied.

Taking place some sixty years before the start of the Fellowship, An Unexpected Journey focuses upon the life and famous adventure of Bilbo Baggins. Detailing his assistance in reclaiming an ancient dwarven stronghold from the dragon which took it as its lair, his encounter with the spiders of Mirkwood, the Battle of the Five Armies, and most importantly how a ring came into his possession.

Perhaps the most prominent aspect to comment upon, or the elephant in the room, is the liberties which were taken in the production. Having been stretched out to cover three films and changed directors on one occasion the film frequently deviates from the source material. With stylistic choices made to create on-going links between the films, character roles have been expanded for reasons of plot or to give more of an impact with the audience. A clear example of this was the change from Gandalf to Bilbo on who managed to keep the trio of trolls arguing until sunlight to help establish his skill and worth. Another being the presence of the pursuing Azog, a scarred orc hell-bent on getting revenge against the leader of the dwarven band.

With the characters as well there have been numerous changes, minor and large details to help them stand out more rather than disappearing into the background. The dwarves are the most obvious of this. With thirteen present and no real differentiation on race or role save for Thorin the scriptwriters made a number of alterations to help make them stand out. Minor character quirks to help make them memorable without turning them into outright caricatures. Well, most of them. This was something which was, as with all roles within the film, helped to no small decree by the excellent casting choices of the likes of James Nesbitt. The most standout example however, and the biggest person people will either love or hate, is Radagast the Brown who is as far from his literary self as could be humanly possible. He’s far more the fool than previous incarnations, with a suggestion that he spends most of his time in the forest getting high, and mainly serves to help glue the plot of the necromancer directly onto the Hobbit’s events.

For anyone excited about the inclusion of the necromancer, most of the war against him is being saved for later. This first film is primarily dealing with the bulk of the journey to Smaug’s lair and the build-up to facing off with the necromancer’s forces in Mirkwood. There are no big battles and while we do see giant spiders and the reanimator himself in an admittedly tense scene they are only onscreen for a minute at the most. The brawls which are shown instead are more your usual fantasy fare of running skirmishes. The sort of Pirates of the Caribbean/Indiana Jones innovative hectic rushes which are definitely more fitting for the film. That or split second curb stomps of fights which are admittedly delivered well for such anti-climatic events.

If there is something of a flaw to be found in here it’s that the film’s introduction isn’t good for newcomers. Instead relying upon what was shown and built up in the Fellowship of the Ring or knowledge of the novel itself. To watch it otherwise, you have to either have to be extremely accepting that you won’t get answers or explanations to things like what a hobbit is or who the White Council are. Even then those who did watch those films have to be accepting of how little some aspects resemble what we’ve seen before. The goblins for example speaking with surprising coherency and looking like something you’d expect to see in the market of Hellboy II.

Still it’s a minor issue and the film is definitely of a fantastic quality. Very different from what we’ve seen before but without a doubt completely enjoyable, focused, well-paced and with the right mixture of humour, action and drama for the start of a new trilogy. Definitely see this one while it’s in cinemas, but try to avoid the 48 frames per second showings. The full version might be three hours long but it doesn’t feel it and unlike that other one you won’t come out of it disorientated and wondering why the hell everyone was moving so strangely.


----

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and all related characters and media are owned by New Line Cinema Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Avengers Arena #1 (Comics Review)







Kidnapped by Arcade, we’ll get to him don’t worry, a multitude of lesser known teenage heroes including the Avengers Academy cast, X-23, the Runaways and Darkhawk are taken to the villain’s funhouse of death Murderworld. There they’re pitted into a kill or be killed scenario with no option to refuse fights and have to murder one another for the amusement of others.

Let’s just set aside that the afterlife seems to have a revolving door in comics and try to deal with everything else related to this.

Avengers Arena is taking a distinct group of young heroes, many of who have shown real character growth in a remarkably short amount of time who, just to focus upon Avengers Academy, have developed to trust one another. To protect one another, fall in love, and build themselves up to be an effective force for good and overcome traumatic past experiences to push past their flaws. It then uses those heroes as fodder by hurling them into a meat-grinder and has them openly murder one another because Marvel thinks no one will miss them. Not even giving them a chance for a heroic last stand or, in one infamous case thus far, their execution any focus or even meaning. Not to mention that particular one involves two horrible slasher movie clich├ęs.

This is the sort of story idea I expect to find pitched with the first sentence consisting of “Yo dawg, I heard you liked character deaths” and uses the term “x-tremely edgy” to describe how dark it is. This is really the biggest problem here. The bloated parasite of a concept latches onto the story and drains it dry of any fun or reason to be committed to events, something most obviously visible within the characters.

Arcade, a C-list villain who is barely more of a threat than Stilt-Man, has undergone a huge overhaul by writer Dennis Hopeless. In an effort to make him a credible threat any colourfully fun aspects which made him popular back in the 80s have been completely removed. The only emotion he gave off throughout the whole thing was smug apathy, even as he kills someone with mind bullets. You can practically hear the comic screaming “SEE! SEE! HE CARES NOTHING FOR LIFE AND DEATH! SO GRIMDARK!!!”

It’s the same with some of the heroes. One particularly memorable preview has Hazmat, AKA the girl who lobs radiation at people, claiming that she has “always been a hater” and that she has just hated everything. Nope, no mention of the fact that her hatred was a long established as a coping mechanism for her powers and trauma, she just hates everything. This is the sort of badly researched tripe I’d expect of Karen Traviss, not the guy who wrote X-Men: Season One. Even when the comic initially takes time to expand upon the characters personalities you know it’s only being done so those who’ve don’t care about the characters and have just turned up to watch them die understand who they are.

The same goes for the artwork. I could praise the level of detail done by Kev Walker but then I’d have to go into future things like the burnt flesh sloughing off the bones of X-23 and horrified expressions of those about to die. I could talk about the colouring, but that’d leave me going into the sheer level of gore, blood splatters and maiming rife within fights. Anything good which can possibly be found in this wretched mess is ultimately tainted by the basic concept driving its plot forwards.

I barely managed to scratch the surface on everything wrong with this issue alone. Readers, if any of you looking at this care in the slightest about the characters involved I implore you: Don’t waste your money on this. Don’t even pirate it. Ignore it. We’ve seen enough of heroes senselessly beating the living crap out of one another in recent years, milked to be edgy, controversial and not even trying to embrace any of the fun behind the concept. This should be the last straw, not something to make a profit and end up with some executive thinking they should have more heroes violently murdering one another to boost sales.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Skyrim: Dragonborn DLC achievements, plot and locations leaked


Leaks of upcoming projects, especially when it comes to stories and plotlines for popular media are a frequent occurrence these days. Doctor Who has had this happen much to the frustrations of head writer Steven Moffat, Mass Effect 3's infamous story leak for both its main plot and Leviathan DLC was well known prior to its launch, even Half Life has suffered from this. This is just the latest in a long line of spoilers, but damn if it doesn't give a lot of information away.

As posted on TheOuthousers, a truly titanic level of information has been leaked onto the internet revealing not only locations and achievements, but potentially key parts of the plot of the Skyrim's upcoming expansion. The list of the Dragonborn DLC's content is extensive. Going so far as to list characters, items, spells and even new shouts which will be available in the download. From what has been revealed, it has been estimated that the DLC would add up to thirty hours of additional gameplay onto the Elder Scrolls title and even just rushing the main quest would take up to ten.



Without going into spoilers, the leak does confirm a number of things from both the trailers and promotional material released by Bethesda. It confirms that the location of the new DLC will indeed be Solstheim from Morrowind's Bloodmoon DLC, now populated largely by Dark Elves, and the much desired ability to have dragons as mounts will be available to players. Many returning features of the island present in Bloodmoon will still be present such as Raven Rock.  It will even build upon previous achievements from the game with items such as new Thieves Guild armour being present and new special quests will be available to those who reach level 81.

It is currently unknown how much this leak of information may change the release of the DLC. Whether the release date of the new content will be pushed back to be changed from leaked information, an admittedly unlikely event, or the studio will release it tomorrow as planned. What can be told is that the DLC appears to be at least on par with Oblivion's Shivering Isles in terms of size and quality. Many owners of Skyrim disappointed with Hearthfire should find this to be more to their liking.


----


The Elder Scrolls, Skrym, Dragonborn and all related characters and media are owned by Bethesda.