Sunday 29 January 2017

Flavours of the Month: January 2017...

Killer thrills in the late 80s, chaos in Kyrat, and coming of age on 42nd Street - just some of what's been setting the tone of my January 2017...

Click "READ MORE" below to see this month's looks, sounds, vibes & flavours...


Four Flies On Grey Velvet (DVD) - see the full review here.

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-rama (Blu-Ray) - see the full review here.

The Walking Dead: Season 6 (Blu-Ray) - a second spin for the sixth season. It's nice to refresh your memory, and boy, are there some fantastic episodes in this run. The first three plough on with epic zombie action and bloodthirsty survival shocks - then episode four swoops in for a much-needed breather, and it stands as an example of exactly how good a standalone episode can be. Then there's the one-two punch of episode eight and nine (the walker herd attacks Alexandria), again bringing gargantuan zombie action and stunning dramatic highlights - and then, quite appropriately, episode ten swings in with some much-needed comic relief and emotional payoff (e.g. "Richonne"). Then, of course, there's the much anticipated arrival of Negan - and Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been absolutely nailing that character throughout Season 7A. There's numerous other highlights throughout, and sure, some filler moments, but Season 6 is still a very strong season.

Intruder (Blu-Ray) - it seemed as if 88 Films were going to release this in 2012, but for some unknown reason it never happened. Now, though, it has finally been released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK. The HD restoration is solid, maintaining film grain and some scratches for that old school charm, but offering the clarity you want from a good Blu-Ray transfer (with the original audio track). The accompanying documentary on slasher films by High Rising Productions has a good range of interviewees, although if you're even moderately clued-up on the genre it has limited appeal - so it is best suited to younger horror fans who aren't so in-the-know about the high points and conventions of the slasher flick.

There's a trailer, a booklet interview with Scott Spiegel, and a commentary track. It's a bit cheeky to put Bruce Campbell's name front and centre on the cover art (he only has a one scene cameo in the film alongside Lawrence Bender - producer of Pulp Fiction). It's a fun flick with a goofy sense of humour throughout. Fans of Evil Dead II will be well catered for here - KNB EFX (the "N" and "B" in KNB worked on EDII), the royal family of special make up effects, are on splatter duty in one of their earliest jobs; Sam Raimi and Ted Raimi both have on-screen roles (alongside the aforementioned Bruce Campbell cameo), and Danny Hicks (the redneck tow truck driver in EDII) has a big role in the picture. The film is directed and co-written by Scott Spiegel (co-writer of EDII) ... so if that tickles your fancy, grab yourself a copy!

Red Dwarf XI (Blu-Ray) - having previously thought that the first episode of the eleventh series (Twentica) seemed as if it was a bit awkward as a result of being the first episode after a four year break, I found out that it was actually a few episodes into the production schedule when it was actually shot. The making of documentary is well worth watching for fans, frank and informative as per the norm. Episodes 2, 3, and 4 are still my personal favourites out of the bunch from the eleventh series.

The Grand Tour: Series 1 - what Clarkson, Hammond, and May did after the infamous 'fracas'. Occasionally it gets a bit indulgent (the trio running around playing soldier while referencing Edge of Tomorrow), and not all the main films are gold (e.g. the one with 'alternative body work for cars' was a too-silly low point), but for the majority of the time it's been a really fun show. It's pretty much Top Gear minus the celebrity interview and The Stig. I would like it if they ditched the 'Celebrity Brain Crash' segment - the joke's been made, and it would be nice if they could formulate a new type of 'celebrity segment' for this show. Anyway - I'm looking forward to the next series!


Airbourne "Breakin' Outta Hell", "Black Dog Barking"


Far Cry 4 (Xbox One) - I've thoroughly enjoyed playing this game (I got just shy of 50 hours out of it), but the more I've played it there more there have been some silly little things that are disproportionately annoying about the game. One of the main issues is simple: cheap shots. By this I mean: leaving a liberated outpost and no sooner have you driven away with a mission or goal in mind, than it has suddenly come under attack so you have to run back, get into a big gunfight, and then arm up all over again. By this I also mean: setting up to attack an enemy outpost but the wildlife decide that's the perfect time to attack en mass - a pack of wolves, say, or in one instance three pissed off yaks and one of those really aggravating eagles. The weapons - there were so many I never even touched - I used two guns as my main weapon throughout the entire game, with my other selection of weapons remaining pretty much the same throughout: an assault rifle gave way to a special LMG, a bow and arrow for short range stealth and clean hunting, a sniper rifle for long range stealth, and a one-handed grenade launcher. They're all there for variety and player style, sure, but to be honest why would you pick half of those weapons? They're either rubbish, or are only unlocked after you've already bought or earned a superior weapon. Very strange.

There's too much filler, as well. The volume of races, hunting, revenge, and assassination side quests is over-the-top. Sure, you don't have to do them, but the problem is if you tend to get distracted from the main story. Longinus' side quests were almost all the same, and the main thread of the plot was lost. Speaking of the plot, there's so much fuss made about whether to burn or capture an opium field (i.e. ending the drug trade in Kyrat, or using it for money to fund the rebellion), and yet throughout the game I was finding bunkers filled with gold (unless it was fake gold), or profitable mines, or some location filled with financial potential. Indeed, the further the story progressed, the more the Golden Path rebels seemed to be fully tooled up (thanks to supply truck heists and the like) - so what are they complaining about? As a result, some of the moral choices felt neutered, not to mention overly murky in general - I opted for choosing Amita to lead the Golden Path as it meant the girl she was protecting wouldn't be enslaved by religious iconography, but beyond that both leaders are little better than the main villain (Pagan Min, whose portrayal by Troy Baker was compelling, but underused - indeed, a reveal in the final mission, assuming you don't jump the gun, packs a surprisingly emotional punch).

So over all the game was solid and very enjoyable - the world of Kyrat alone was gorgeous - and the main mechanics of the game worked well. I experienced no game breaking bugs, but did encounter numerous silly little glitches or bugs throughout (like my waypoint disappearing at random, or people hovering above the ground, or that one time I got stuck inside a rock, etc). It was at its worst when it was knocking you down with cheap shots (like those mentioned above), but at its best when you could just enjoy the gunplay. Chasing down an enemy convoy in a 4x4 whilst firing a grenade launcher through the windshield was hugely entertaining.

"Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe" by Cullen Bunn & Dalibor Talajic

"Deadpool Killustrated" by Cullen Bunn & Matteo Lolli

"Deadpool Kills Deadpool" by Cullen Bunn & Salva Espin

Murder at the Grindhouse
- the writing continues on my coming-of-age murder mystery that is set during the 1980s in and around New York's notorious 42nd Street. The word count is now north of 41,000 47,400 words. I'm estimating that by the time I reach the end of the story it'll be somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 words long. So far, so good - I'm enjoying the writing process. It's fun to dig in with my characters and explore their strange, dangerous, and exciting world - all done with a sardonic edge and a revelry in the absurd. More updates on the new book as-and-when.

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