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Derek Williams

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A New Podcast Emerges [Sep. 15th, 2009|09:42 am]
Derek Williams
It's by me and Duncan. You can listen to us talk about games and films for abut 45 minutes. And a bit of music in there too. By us.


Is the link should you want it.
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Action Force The Move (2009) (That's GI Joe you idiot! - Ed) [Aug. 21st, 2009|05:30 pm]
Derek Williams
I've got about 20 minutes to try and review this before meeting up with people here in Bath. So here goes.

It's an action film. There's not a great deal of plot. There doesn't need to be. It's based on stuff inspired by an action figure range. As I'm sure you know. It's about Sienna Miller looking quite nice as the Baroness, even if her outfit sometimes looks like it's a little bit big for her. It's about action scenes, shooting, stunts and explosions. That's all you need to know. Oh apart from there being a goody rival to the Baroness called Scarlett. She's supposed to be something of a super brain but she just looks vacant most of the time. She's kind of pretty though I suppose.

Anyway does the film fulfill its objectives in a way that Transformers 2 doesn't? I think so. It concentrates entirely on the good guys fighting the bad guys and not relatives of the good guys getting stoned, dogs humping them or robots urinating oil. Or megan fox bending over whilst not wearing much. Some of the action though is entirely CGI and looks terrible. Just a symptom of the modern era I guess. There certainly is quite a lot of action. Which there should be. At least you can always tell who is who.

It is quite laughably bad at times (most of them actually) but it doesn't seem to really matter. It's just okay and doesn't set out to be as horrible as it possibly can or overstay its welcome.

It's overblown in the extreme and quite pointless and daft. Didn't stop me quite enjoying it though.

But should you go to see it? Probably not to be honest. Unless you have a high tolerance of CGI infested silly action films. Which I have. It seems. I think there is a new standard for bad films which is Transformers 2. It's difficult for anything to be quite as bad as that hateful abomination. Or at least so I'm told. I haven't seen it because it sounded so bad.
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On tuesday Duncan and I made some sounds that we recorded [Jul. 30th, 2009|12:43 pm]
Derek Williams
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |At Work]
[Current Mood |accomplished]
[Current Music |Scott Mills Radio 1]

You can hear them via the following links:

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You can hear them via the following links:

<a href=http://jhenge.com/music/jdb/Echidna 2009.mp3>Echidna 2009</a>
<a href=http://jhenge.com/music/jdb/Feral Nihilist 2009.mp3>Feral Nihilist 2009</a>
<a href=http://jhenge.com/music/jdb/She's Fantastic 2009.mp3>She's Fantastic 2009</a>
<a href=http://jhenge.com/music/jdb/Stillborn Ghost 2009.mp3>The Stillborn Ghost 2009</a>
<a href=http://jhenge.com/music/jdb/Imperceptable Smiles 2009.mp3>Imperceptable Smiles 2009</a>

I'm sure you'll all agree that the last four are an exciting new direction for the band, showcasing all the skill we've learnt over the last 14 years of being a band.
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Terminator Salvation [Jun. 9th, 2009|09:57 pm]
Derek Williams

Illogical. Implausible. Irritating. Injoyable (You're fired - Ed).

I had been lead to believe Christian Bale was really annoying in this. He is a bit but not that much. Worst is the cute mute child that saves the day. Hnnng. If you're prepared to ignore the decidedly silly and illogical plot and can gain satisfaction from some people fighting with robots and stuff then you can probably find a decent amount to enjoy in this. It doesn't last too long and packs that time with a good balance of action and downtime. It requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. You're probably best off pretending it doesn't really have much to do with the rest of the Terminator series of films though.
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Drag Me To Hell (a review of the film of that name. not an instruction) [Jun. 9th, 2009|09:42 pm]
Derek Williams

Sam Raimi is back! Doing horror! Again! Etc. Evil Dead 2 is a masterpiece but I'm not entirely sure much else by Mr Raimi is. He's been fairly consistently entertaining I suppose if not mindblowing. Evil Dead 2 is about the closest to that. It's been a while since I've watched it so maybe a rewatch is in order to decide if it's mindblowing.

Anyway about this film. The trailer looked awful. It looked like such a boring standard horror film. That at least isn't true. It's definitely not a bog standard horror film. I didn't know at the time of seeing the trailer that it was directed by Sam Raimi. Discovering that is the only thing that made me go and see it. Well that and everyone raving about it.

Enough! What's it like? Well as you might know, it has a certain comedy element. If you know Evil Dead 2 you'll probably have some idea what that means. However this isn't like that, it is actually quite plentiful in its traditional horror moments, separate from the comedy-horror moments. That's where I found a slight problem with the film. One minute it's astonishingly terrifying and then the next it's really quite slapstick Evil Dead 2 like.

All of the scares are achieved from 'jump scares' rather than the creeping horror of The Grudge or The Ring. Interestingly though all the scares are genuinely scares, there's no cat jumping through the window or boyfriend creeping into the house. If it's building up suspense, it's going to throw something scary at you. Which is done brilliantly. I'm not one who scares at these sort of things easily but I was definitely feeling fear of another shock.

But then we'll have silly scenes like a talking goat or gross out slapstick involving a corpse drooling all over the heroine. Or some eye popping out scene. Which is often rather effectively funny but makes the whole film that bit inconsistent in tone leaving you feeling a little confused. I think really it should have concentrated on being the dark incredibly scary film it could have been instead of mixing it with the comedy moments. That could have made it the most utterly terrifying horror movie of all time. It's pretty close to being that anyway but it in a strange kind of way.
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Coraline (3D) [May. 15th, 2009|09:33 pm]
Derek Williams
[Tags|, ]

I've been saving this until last this evening for a grand finale. It's only now I realise that I have now made it, in effect, first. On your friends list this is going to show first. So in a way it's probably best as I'm probably a bit tuckered out after about 2 hours of solid reviewing. So this is likely to be an even more substandard review than (sub)standard.

A Neil Gaiman story brought to life by the director of Nightmare Before Christmas. That's why it basically looks the same. You probably knew that already though didn't you? Okay then, let's try something else. I thought the trailer was a little uncertain on whether it was a dark fantasy tale or just a kids story. I was in two minds as to whether to go see it. Ultimately I thought maybe the 3D thing would be interesting so that swung it. It at least looked better than Monsters Vs Aliens which was my other 3D option. As I haven't seen MVA, I can't say if it is but I do know that this was extremely good.


Voice acting. Particularly in the lead role. Dakota Fanning puts in an incredibly convincing performance breathing an astonishing amount of life to the animation. Coraline feels completely real.

The animation. Hurrah! It's all real stop motion and no CG! (Though it may be slightly computer aided, I don't know). It's gorgeously created as well. Stop motion is one of the greatest things ever and it's exploited here to maximum effect.

The sets. Astonishing vision, craftsmanship and creativity. Beauty in almost every scene. I'm struggling for what to say here as little I say can do justice to how great it looked.

The music. Without doubt one of the best soundtracks I have EVER heard. I've listened my download of the soundtrack through twice. I think that's saying something. The last one I went this crazy for was also to a Gaiman film. Interesting.

The whole combination of it all. Creating such a delightful atmosphere of mystery, adventure, peril and the slightly disturbing.


It is just slightly too long. It's 100 minutes long and probably should have been about 80. It's not too severe but I did find numb bumb syndrome really kicking in toward the end.

That's it though.


The 3D. It added nothing and wasn't really noticeable in many scenes. One of the most significant bits was just a scene of Coraline looking through a window. It had real depth and added a certain beauty to the scene. 3D can work to amazing effect though as intros showed before the main feature. It could just have been that the film was so engaging I forgot it was in 3D.

I don't like summing up paragraphs but I'll add one here. MISS THIS AT YOUR PERIL. It is a pure delight and one of the best films I've seen at the cinema pretty much ever. Certainly ahead of the crowd by a mile in its given genre. This is worthy of being a top 100 film.
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Harry Potter And The Pensioner of Kazakhstan (Subs please check) (No.3) HD-DVD review [May. 15th, 2009|08:49 pm]
Derek Williams
[Tags|, ]

I've always thought it was the best book of the series and also it's where the film series changes to being really good. I'd had the HD-DVD hanging around since before christmas but finally found just over two hours spare one night to watch it. It was well worth it as well.

The film is well directed, keeping your interest held throughout. The actors finally give some good performances and lose most of their irritation factor. The Ron actor is the least improved to my mind though, despite what a lot of people have said. He still does just a bit too much gurning. Hermione is vastly improved and becomes a thoroughly likeable character. Harry too is much more sympathetic than the previous films. You can actually find yourself truly feeling for him for a change.

The visual side of things is superb. The dementors look terrifying and hogwarts looks spellbinding (That wasn't intentional you know). There is considerable detail in pretty much every scene. It's all CG of course but it shows it can be effective when appropriate care is taken.

The darker tone of the film adds drama but without being too much for family view Also, it manages to have a finale without Harry Potter himself being in any kind of significant danger. There is no big showdown with a big evil villain or monster. I think that's probably quite an achievement, having a spectacular exciting end without peril for the main character.

As for the DVD itself, the quality was excellent. The HD really works in the his instance. It brings out the glorious detail in every scene. It breathes extra life into the film and the effect is really quite stunning. Even on 'just' a 32" screen. I dare say the transfer is the same on the Blu Ray so I'm sure the same applies. It's a worthy upgrade from DVD. Ideally you'll have a PC with Blu Ray/HD DVD combi drive and you'll be able to get the much cheaper HD DVD rather than Blu Ray.
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Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (or is it Road Warrior: Mad Max 2?) [May. 15th, 2009|08:27 pm]
Derek Williams
[Tags|, ]

I wonder. Is there any point in this? I'm sure you all know Mad Max 2 perfectly well by now. It's been around long enough. I watched my HD DVD of it the other night. So this review will cover how the film holds up these days and the quality of this release. Gosh don't I sound serious there?

The FILM (Gosh a heading!)

I was struck by how realistic people seem to act, despite the film being a slightly ridiculous post apocalyptic setting. It feels very much like the scripting was very well thought out with appropriate thought put into motivations. The lead character is delightfully self serving for the most part. He's not a good guy but he's not a bad guy, he does things which will benefit other people but only because he will profit out of in some way. Of course he sees something of a change in character toward the end but is that more motivated out of revenge than helping others? The action is all really well put together and manages to be exciting without being dizzying. It allows appropriate time for things to happen and frames them very well. It's just a great solidly made film and remains memorable because of that.


While it was untoubtedly sharper it made little difference. I noticed some of the rocks were looking clearly and better defined and some of the road textures seem more obviously detailed. It didn't make any real difference though. Mad Max 2 isn't really a very pretty film. It's pretty sparse so there isn't much benefit in the higher definition. Unless you like looking at very detailed roads and rocks. The night scenes looked really grainy though which is probably a fault with the original film but shouldn't HD remastering remove such things? Or is it impossible to get rid of such a severe grain? Of course I haven't compared to my DVD so that may make me notice more difference but I don't think so. If you've got an absotively huge screen it's probably going to show a more significant difference.
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Wolverine [May. 15th, 2009|08:13 pm]
Derek Williams

I believe that Ebert bloke said that there was little point in having a hero who is indestructable. Well clearly he's wrong as Wolverine is ridiculously popular in the comics and films and cartoons etc. Surely the point is that it would be totally cool to be like Wolverine so we watch/read to imagine ourselves in his position. However, don't you just hate it when American films and TV shows introduce a cliched British rock star (always with a bad london accent). Wolverine doesn't do that (unlike Chuck) but it does something almost as bad. It doesn't make full use of the source material. Actually I'm not sure that's quite so bad. Anyway.

It was interesting seeing the origins of the character. Never realised he was supposed to be that old. I haven't read the comics you see. Even though practically every Marvel comic features Wolverine or Spiderman or both. But the whole story just lacked something and the film was slightly poor in execution with many of the sfx looking rather shoddy.

The end.

I was almost tempted to leave it there but you know me, why stop at 500 words if you can do 5000? Not that I've necessarily done 500 already but still you get the idea. I thi(GET ON WITH IT!! - Everyone)

Gambit should have had more of an accent, cyclops seemed thrown in there for no good reason and the script was utterly lifeless. When it wasn't jumping from horribly cliched dialogue (including a customary NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! scene) it was being just plain function. There was just no flair to it. Still I supposed you could describe it as 'comic book like'. Perhaps a 1950s comic or something. But modern ones (particularly X-men) need you to have some kind of degree in order for you to follow them. So it's not like modern comics.

But it didn't really matter. It was still quite a lot of fun and there were plenty of cool scenes of Wolverine having a good old scrap. The final fight (Copyright Capcom) was jolly good and thoroughly spectaclear (sic). So that made up for things just a enough to make it entertaining.
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Film Review - Star Trek 2009 [May. 15th, 2009|07:47 pm]
Derek Williams

Okay let's give out a review spoiler in the opening paragraph; why is everyone so easily caught up in the hysteria and hype that can surround a film release? Star Trek has shot into the top 100 on imdb. Sigh. It's really not that good, even though it was quite fun. So let's get on with things shall we?

As you'll all know this is a reboot of the franchise so everything's a bit different. Kirk is someone who's had a sex change, Spock has an unfortunate heroin addiction and Uhura is a prostitue (Cut that out now! - Ed). Well maybe things aren't quite that different but just slightly different enough. I don't think you really need anymore info. You can find that elsewhere. Now I've wasted your time with yet another pointless paragraph I'll continue.

Problems. That's what this bit's going to be about. Modern film-making. That's the main problem. I don't like the way it's put together. Rapid editing, excessive full screen face close ups, a camera that is never still (if it isn't whooshing round following people walking it's jittering unnecessarily), too many close shots of things passing the camera, not allowing time for certain scenes to sink in (we see a lovely shot of the space station which McCoy points out but it barely lasts a second). It's all pacey stuff to attract your attention but for me it just detracts from my ability to pay attention. If I'm feeling sick and dizzy and confused, I'm not enjoying myself. Other problems I'd say were certain actors trying desperately to copy the style of the old series. Karl Urban desperately trying to be Deforest Kelly (McCoy in case you don't know) and Simon Pegg doing an impression of Scotty (and having a stupid comedy sidekick who, while not irritating, is unfunny and as I say, pointless. Though I dare say it wouldn't use such excessive punctuation). Also, I'm about the only person to say this but I never really found myself liking the new Kirk.

So with all that out of the way, can I tell you of some good points. It is actually rather good fun. The story's not bad if rather an excuse for a reboot of the series. Syler (I've told you before, that's NOT the actor's name) is good as Spock. The new Uhura is strangely strong on screen. I've not been able to quite put my finger on it as to why but she really makes a good impression. Um that's about it. Actually Sulu was quite good too. Checkov was different but had no particular character so I can't really comment.

So yeah, it was fine. It's enjoyable sci fi action fun with a few silly cliches and some awkwardness. Go see it and you'll probably enjoy it. It's just not something that's really worthy of being in the top 100. But then I'm probably wrong about that, everyone tells me I'm wrong about films all the time SO WHY BOTHER READING THIS? EH? WHY NOT JUST GO AND READ SISKEL AND EBERT OR SOMETHING WHO TOTALLY MISS THE POINT OF WOLVERINE AND PROBABLY LOTS OF OTHER THINGS. GO ON I DON'T CARE. I HATE YOU ALL ANYWAY.

But you know, I KNOW the emporer's naked.
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