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Jamie John

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  1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) I thought this was the weakest of the DK trilogy - it's too long, the plot is quite clunky and contrived in places, and the villains' motivations feel under-cooked. Bane, generally, is just a bit boring and lacks personality - I think a lot of that is due to you not being able to see his face properly. Compared with TDK, it felt a lot more like a Marvel film to me, focusing more on bombast and spectacle over character development or narrative. The ending, with the 'war' for Gotham, also just felt a bit silly. Still, some of the set pieces are pretty amazing, especially the plane hijacking at the start, and the fight between Batman and Bane mid-way through is excellent. Zimmer's score is effective in stirring up the feels in all the right places, and I thought Anne Hathaway was well cast as Cat Woman. Overall, a bit disappointing after TDK, but still very watchable if you've got a spare two and a half hours. 3.5/5
  2. Beat Saber, Tetris Effect and Walkabout Mini Golf are all great. Beat Saber is probably my most played Quest game because it's so accessible and it's a great party game. You can get 'real' songs on it without too much trouble, too.
  3. I've never played Myst. Is it completely impenetrable, or do the puzzles make some logical sense to them? Is it doable without a guide?
  4. @Garwoofoo - why not keep the Senns for yourself and buy your son a cheap headset from Argos or somewhere? Buy him his own third party controller, too, so he doesn't keep yanking the lead out of yours, which might end up buggering the 3.5mm port. Generally, no wireless gaming headset is going to challenge a decent pair of stereo headphones when it comes to sound quality, so if you're happy with your current set up then I'd leave it as it is. I was using stereo headphones wired to my XSX controller but decided to buy a wireless headset anyway, mainly for the convenience, but also because I'm addicted to buying headphones. I went for the Arctis 7X and I've been really impressed by them - they work straight away every time, the sound is good, the mic is tucked away, and (most importantly) they're extremely comfortable, even after long seasions. I also looked at the Penrose but the bad reviews (and the price) put me off. Overall, though, it you can live with the wire and you can find a way to stop your boy yanking out the cable, stick with the Senns. If you fancied an upgrade for the novelty, there are a pair of 599SEs on sale in Trading at the moment, which are excellent. I recently sold my pair as well and I can tell you from experience that they're the most comfortable headphones I've ever used.
  5. Tell kerraig thanks for this! I appreciate what he's saying, and from doing a bit more reading about the film this morning, it's evident that this is a lot more indie, with a lot less of a budget, than I originally gave it credit for, so it does seem pretty mean-spirited to compare it with some of the films I've mentioned. Even with the caveats in place, however, I still stand by my reaction to it having slept on it. Unfortunately, it does seem entirely married to its context and has been iterated upon so much elsewhere that it's something I can only ever hope to respect rather than enjoy.
  6. Dawn of the Dead (1978) Hmm. Someone's going to have to explain this one to me, because I really don't understand why this is revered so much. I've not seen it before. All I knew going in was that it was set in a shopping mall and it was supposed to be one of the best zombie/horror films ever made. Granted, its been about 43 years since it first came out, so its original impact is impossible to replicate. That said, however, I'm guessing it's really not dated very well at all, certainly compared with several other 70s films released either before or shortly after this which I would count among some of the best ever made - The Godfather, Jaws, Apocalypse Now, Alien, for example - all of which I think still hold up extremely well. I suppose it's not really fair to compare those films to this one (I get the impression that this was made on a far smaller budget, even with all the extras and the helicopters and so on), but I don't understand why this stands alongside films like those in lists of the best cinema of the time. The acting is pretty terrible throughout from everyone bar Foree and (sometimes) Ross (it's quite telling that I don't think I've seen any of the cast in anything else, before or since). I didn't find Scott Reiniger's performance and his transition into a blood-crazed hot-head convincing at all, although he's not helped much in that regard by the script. Other performances are just laughably rubbish, and often bizarre, like the weird copper asking everyone for cigarettes near the beginning (wut?), or Wooley talking about the 'Bastard, bastard' Puerto Ricans (one of whom is obviously some skinny white bloke in blackface) in an early scene. Very strange. As a social commentary about the evils of consumerism, by modern standards this just feels extremely on the nose, about as subtle as a big sign on the screen that says 'Materialism is bad, kids'. Moreover, once this original point has been shoved in your face, it's just repeated throughout the film in slightly different but similarly obvious ways, never really developed into anything more nuanced or interesting. Maybe social commentary in mainstream media was rare enough in the late 70s for this to be notable because of its novelty, but I found the lingering shots of zombies going clothes shopping or pressing their noses up against the window displays annoying by the end. As a gory zombie movie, the special effects are pretty poor, even when compared with other films made at the same sort of time - the blood looks like magenta paint and the bits where people get bitten look like they're made of cake. The 'zombies' are only zombies because they're daubed with white make-up and have rings under their eyes. They're entirely unthreatening and just sort of goofy (see the weird monk guy in the screencap above, for example - what was that about?) Watching it made me appreciate the special effects in The Thing (which only came out 4 years after this) a lot more. On a technical level, the continuity between quite a few of the shots just don't make sense. Like, a character will look at something they find interesting through an air vent, for example, and you'll expect the next shot to be what they can see, but, instead, the next shot is what a different character can see, in a completely different location - there were three or four shots like this I found entirely jarring. It's the same with the bit when they first get on the chopper at the beginning - the camera suddenly cuts from all the characters talking excitedly to one another to one of them being asleep, and then there's another cut to another character being asleep, without there being any other indication that time has passed. It's hard to explain, but it doesn't work. I actually rewound the film on two different occasions because I thought I'd missed something, but it was just bad editing. The narrative itself and what happens in the film is also just pretty...dull. I didn't really think the plot was very entertaining, and it's absolutely not scary or horrifying in anyway at all (again, you could argue that I'm desensitised to it as a media-hardened millennial, but The Exorcist, which predates this by 5 years, is still pretty fucking disturbing). Even beyond the horror, though, there isn't even that much tension, and any tension that is created is almost immediately undermined by some random comic moment, intentional or otherwise, like a zombie dying in a stupid way or pulling a silly face, or the characters suddenly happy because they can loot fur coats or expensive watches, or the annoying music, which often feels like it's been taken from a different film entirely, or several other films, being a mixture of the gothic stuff you'd find in a Hammer Horror and weird Blaxploitation movie-style funky basslines. Compare the score in this to something like the one used in The Shining (1980) and the difference in quality is notable. I dunno. Maybe I'm just not clever enough to understand it, or maybe you just had to be there, man. I've done a bit of reading on it this evening since watching it and it sounds like it's seen as an 'important', 'seminal' film for the horror genre, and maybe if I was more of a film studies student I'd be able to appreciate it more. I can see why, without this, we wouldn't have stuff like The Walking Dead, or The Last of Us, or (obviously) Shaun of the Dead. Nonetheless, just because something's influential doesn't necessarily make it good, and watching this cold in 2021 for the first time, I thought it was bemusing, but also quite boring and just kind of stupid, as much as I'm aware that I sound like a brat typing that. I didn't turn it off, but I thought about doing so a couple of times, and I spent most of its 2.07 runtime looking like this , wondering when it was suddenly going to become this genre-defining experience, or if it was actually all some big piss-take that I wasn't getting. I will say that the second half is better than the first, once the characters are more established in the mall and the show up. But, even then, it sort of just...fizzles out. All I know is that I paid about £25 for the super-duper 4K boxset and I'll definitely be selling this one on. Sorry! 1.5/5
  7. Have you seen The Bird With the Crystal Plumage before? I haven't, but Mark Kermode was bigging it up on his and Simon Mayo's film podcast a couple of weeks ago and it piqued my interest.
  8. Yeah, you don't need to grind souls for stat upgrades, not really. Upgrading your health by doing the shrines is more useful. They're trickier to find but a lot more interesting than grinding.
  9. Sounds good. And yes, more deliberate gameplay is what I'm after as well.
  10. @Mawdlin - I also picked up TWD relatively recently. Haven't started it yet, though. Is there lots of shooting in it, or is it more about avoiding the zombies?
  11. I had a very enjoyable hour or so on Walkabout Mini Golf last night. It was very zen with some great holes, and the ball physics and so on were spot on. It's a shame that playing local multiplayer with the headset and so on is such a faff. I wanted to play with my wife but my massive head compared to her pea head would have meant adjusting the straps and so on after every hole. Still, however, as a single-player experience it was great. I think I only paid about £8 for it, or something, in a sale.
  12. Thanks for this. I take it they take the cash upon order, not dispatch, seeing as it's done through eBay?
  13. Separately, does anyone know where you can preorder the 4K release of The Thing that's due in September? It's up on Amazon's US site, but not UK, from what I can see. Zavvi and HMV don't appear to have it.
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