Is this Really the End?

I’m a big fan of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost team since I first watched Shaun of the Dead. I’m usually not much for British comedy but these guys nailed it with me and then again with Hot Fuzz. So when I heard about The World’s End, I was intrigued to say the least.

At first though, I was confused. From the first release I’d read, it was just about five men in their late thirties trying to relive their pasts and completing a near impossible task they’d failed at when they were younger. It seemed like something that would quite fit in with the other two movies but then maybe that’s what they were going for.

Then, weeks later, I learned that there would be aliens involved in some big world conquering scheme and thought to myself, “Ah, that’s much more what I expected.” And from there, my interest increased again.

So was it worth the wait? Does it hold up to the previous two movies?

Oh yes, it does. It was a thrill ride from the beginning to end and actually had me sitting forward in my seat, waiting for the next action sequence or seeing what they say next.

The story of the movie was interesting but not particularly noteworthy. Very Invasion of the Body-Snatcher-ish but then you don’t see one of these movies for the story. It’s always been the characters that made it more interesting.

And it was nice to see that it didn’t focus completely on Pegg or Frost. While the two were the main characters, Gary and Andy, the other three friends Steven (Steven Prince), Oliver (Martin Freeman), and Peter (Eddie Marsan) got plenty of screentime and their own great interactions. There was definitely a tense chemistry between the five of them and you could almost believe that they were former friends re-united for the first time in a long time and struggling to find some common ground to reconnect with.

The one thing I’m still not entirely sold on was the way the movie ended. It certainly came out of left field and wasn’t what I was expecting. On one hand, I liked it because I’m a big fan of that sort of thing. On the other, it seemed like a bit of a downer after everything that the group went through. Still, it wrapped up the story nicely, though a little confusing.

I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone who didn’t enjoy Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but if you are a fan of the Cornetto series (yes, that delicious little treat made a cameo in this one as well), then it’s definitely a must-watch if you haven’t already.

And so begins a new arguement: which is the best in the series now? I still say Hot Fuzz but both The World’s End and Shaun of the Dead are incredibly close contenders. It’s really hard to decide sometimes.

I’m hoping that this isn’t the end of the Wright/Pegg/Frost collaboration and that we’ll see them again soon in another most excellent adventure.

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A Brain-Eating Review

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. That happens. I’m gonna try and make it a regular thing again.

Yesterday, I finally got around to getting the 400 Days DLC for The Walking Dead: Season 1 game. It was only 5 bucks which is something even a poor bloke like me can afford.

Now, I’m a huge Walking Dead fan. I’ve read the comics for years, love the TV show (and yes, I’m well aware of it’s weaknesses, but it’s still an awesome show), and loved last years game. It was the first time I’ve played a Telltale game, but I’ve seen their Back to the Future and Jurassic Park games.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Walking Dead franchise, it’s not hard to figure out. It’s set in a zombie apocalypse and focuses on the people trying survive against the cannibalstic dead and the other survivors willing to do anything, including stealing and killing, to get what they want.

One thing I loved about The Walking Dead: Season 1 was the ability to make choices that would actually alter the game later on. Sure, you were still railroaded into certain situations, but games can only do so much (especially one that costs 20 bucks total) and there was replayability to discover what would have happened had you done this instead of that.

Throughout the game, you play a man named Lee and are forced to make some pretty big decisions and it really tests your moral compass. Even though it was a game, it definitely had me hesitating when deciding if someone lives or dies or who would get to eat and who would go hungry. There were even a few times where I would have to pause the game and stop for a minute just because I felt bad for what I did.

Which is a credit to the acting and story-telling of the game. I really felt for some of these characters, whether I liked or hated them, and was sad to see them go.

So now we’re playing 400 Days, which takes place from the start of the zombie apocalypse. Throughout the chapter, the point of view changes to one of five different survivors in various parts of time between Day 2 to 350. The game mechanics are there, along with the devious moral choices you are forced to make along the way.

I enjoyed the game, because it is the same as the previous chapters and I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. Not broke, didn’t fix. Good.

The voice acting, as usual, was spot on with no really annoying characters. A lot of cursing though, so if you’re adverse to that kind of stuff, I’d skip it. Like I told my wife, when she complained about it, “They’re being attacked by zombies. In real life, most people would be doing the same thing to. It’s just adding realism.”

The five different stories create five very unique people with their own concerns and pasts. However, no one really gets the spotlight for long so you don’t really develop any attachment for them aside.  Also, some characters pasts are barely hinted at and left open, which is frustrating but at the same time, it gurantees I’ll be back for Season 2 to see what secrets they have.

In less than two days, I finished the whole DLC twice, choosing different options to get different endings. That’s a short game. Still, it was only 5 bucks and the quality of the game was definitely worth that. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the Walking Dead or zombies in general.

To Watch or Not

I just finished watching the one and only season of Terra Nova on Netflix and I have to say that I’m disappointed that the show had been cancelled. However, at the same time I can understand why.

I watched it everyday for about a week, doing two to three episodes a day and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was fun and exciting and interesting with characters I would have liked to continue watching for years to come.

When it was on television though, I didn’t watch it. I was part of the reason that it didn’t survive past it’s maiden season. Why? Because there was too much to do to sit down and watch a show every week. It just didn’t become the priority that television in the past did. The story, while interesting, wasn’t enough to keep me waiting for a week for it to return. And if it had done the mid-season break that is so popular right now among tv shows, I probably wouldn’t come back at all.

This is true about a lot of shows that have the intertwining plotlines that require you to watch it from beginning to end. If you miss one episode, you give up because now you don’t know what’s happening. Also, later episodes will spoil the episode you missed which takes away the thrill of watching it. I’m not a man who likes his spoilers.

The same thing happened with No Ordinary Family. I caught an episode when it was on and enjoyed it a lot but didn’t really understand what was going on so I moved on until I could get the whole story on Netflix. Sadly, it too did not survive to see another season.

It seems to me that some shows just work better if you watch them in succession quickly. Stretching out a story means you risk losing your audience. Take the second season of The Walking Dead. Many people complained that it was slow and kind of boring. It lost viewers to it. Then, I watched the entire second season on Netflix within a week and I found it was so much more enjoyable.

Of course, if some shows work out really well in large quanities, then it stands to reason that the opposite would be true, right? Right. There are some shows that I’ve watched entire seasons of in the course of a few days and now I have a hard time watching them again. Sitcoms are especially bad for this.

Big Bang Theory is one of my favourite shows on right now, but I can miss an episode and not care. I haven’t even watched more than one episode since season 5 simply because I’ve seen it all before. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad show. I’ll still watch it when it’s on and I have nothing else to do. I still laugh and love those affable nerds.

Then there are other shows I can’t watch at all anymore like Undergrads. I thought it was funny and refreshing and entertaining, but then I sat and watched the entire season in one sitting. By the end of it, I hated every character in that show. They were all idiots and I was a bigger idiot for wasting my time watching this show.

It’s sad that some of these quality shows are disappearing. Maybe they should just forego television and just sell the DVD sets. Ah, but then that would be taking a big risk because if it’s doing poorly on television, they can pull the show. But if you want to sell the DVD set, you have to finish the whole show, put together special features, market the product, and hope that people will buy it.

Maybe a compromise? Release one episode on the internet or television and hook the audience with it. Then tell them if they want to see the rest of the story, they have to buy the DVD set. The audience can then watch it at their leisure. I think I would be more apt to buy DVD sets then.

In any case, if you have Netflix, I would recommend Terra Nova and No Ordinary Family if you enjoy your sci-fi. I promise, neither of them end with an overly elaborate cliffhanger but it will leave you wishing you could have more.

I Love These Guys!

At this point, I know almost anyone who writes about anything has probably written something about these guys but I have to say that I LOVE these guys. The more I hear about them, the more I want to hear more about these guys. These aren’t your run in the mill celebrities, wasting time taking drunken pictures and just generally being a nuisance.  No no no. These people are doing something so much more important.

So who are these wonderful people selflessly working towards making this a better place? Why, it’s just the good ol’ people down at the Westboro Baptist Church. I know, many people want them to shut up or shut down, but I want them to continue doing what they’re doing.

Why? Because I love their narrow-mindedness. The hate that seems to drip from their words. The way they heedlessly attack on everything that isn’t them makes me giggle like a man nitrous oxide. Where else can you find this kind of extremist hilarity?

The Al Qaeda? No, too high-strung and really just a one trick pony. Push button, blow up. The KKK? When have they even been relevant anymore? Admitting you’re a part of that is like revealing you like little boys. A thing most people keep to themselves now.

It’s actually kind of funny. More people will admit to being gay than a white supremacist. Isn’t it funny how the times have changed over the past 50 years. That’s progress.

Anyways, I digress. Why do I love these over-zealous hate mongers? Because they are over-zealous hate mongers! Just go to their website and check out the absurdity of their claims! They even have parodies of popular songs all geared towards how horrible a person you are!

By the way, I think it should go without saying at this point that you do not, under any circumstances, go to their website unless you have a twisted sense of humour. Over there is a den full of hate that I don’t think the typical person can withstand. If you’re curiousity does get the best of you, take a peek but I implore you to not venture too deep lest you lose your mind.

So Westboro, continue your silly crusade across America as you rail against a system that ironically gives you the ability to whine and moan bout it (Hello, you have a collect call from irony. Do you accept the charges?). You protest soldiers funerals and demonstrate against comic conventions to your little heartless content. And I’ll continue watching, knowing that all you’re doing is digging your grave just a little more.

Funny thing is, I wasn’t even going to really write up anything on them. I figured the world has heard enough from this group, until I found out that most of my friends and co-workers have never experienced the joy that is their righteous rage. That has to be rectified. Come, join me and my smirk as we laugh at a church whose own denomination looks at them and says, “Uh-uh, not in my backyard.”

For those curious and up for a laugh, check them out.  Just don’t wander too far in without a responsible adult (or qualified lunatic) or you might not come out the same way you went in…

What are the Odds?

Like millions of people, I like to play the lottery. I don’t have a system and I don’t delude myself into thinking that if I just stick with it and buy my ticket every week, I’ll win. I am well aware that it’s more or less a suckers bet. Hell, you have a better chance of being hit by a car and killed crossing the street to buy a ticket than to win with said ticket.

I’ve had marginal luck with the lottery so far. $20 here, free ticket there. I’m not complaining. The cost of $6 a week isn’t that much. That’s only $24 a month. $252 a year. That’s really not a lot of cash for the slim chance to win millions of dollars.

Some people like to point out the odds to me but I simply counter that the odds of winning the lottery are infinitely higher if you actually buy a ticket than if you don’t. It’s a mere pittance even on my low income.

So why am I talking about this?

Isn’t it obvious?

I don’t want to rub it in but, after checking my lottery ticket then checking it again and then again, just to be sure y’know, I ALMOST won the lottery. I was one number off on almost every digit with the highest difference being three. It’s probably the closest I will ever come to winning the lottery.

Ain’t that a kick in the pants?

Lotto

Tick Tock, Clock.

Time is a funny thing. Not ha-ha funny but a strange funny. When you’re a kid, time seems to last forever. Tomorrow takes an eternity to get here and forget about waiting for birthdays and Christmas. They just can’t seem to get here fast enough.

I wonder if that’s because they don’t have much to base time off of. You’re seven years old. So the amount of time you’ve been on this planet isn’t very long, comparitively speaking. Then, when you reach your teenage years, time seems to move faster because you already have over a decade under your belt. That’s a lot longer than a year.

Finally, you reach your twenties and now you have two decades. Years seem to fly by and suddenly it’s Christmas again. Dammit, I’m still paying off the last one!

That’s when I noticed the change in time, but then something weird happened. Everything seemed to stop for me. The years became a blur but seemed to go nowhere at the same time. A strange paradox to experience. Nothing seemed to change except for the calendar and occasionally my living arrangements and my job. Other than that, everything was the status quo. My friends were still my friends. The same TV shows were on that were on last year. The same video games were being pumped out year after year. It seemed stagnant.

Lately though, I’ve noticed the moving of time again. How much things chance in such a short amount of time. I attribute that to being around kids again. Over the past year, I have had the joy and headaches of being step-father to two children who are now literally growing up before my eyes. I can actually notice them getting bigger and developing in front of me. I think back to where I was seven years ago and realize that my step-son wasn’t even alive at that point. It’s a strange sobering thought after 13 years of temporal limbo.

Not that I’m complaining mind you. It’s nice to realize that things are actually liquid rather than written in stone.

Stuck in the Middle

It’s been six years since I played Final Fantasy X, so I decided to throw it in for old times sake. Now, after over 12 hours of playtime, I find myself stuck at the exact same part that I was when I first played it all those yars ago.

It’s not a boss fight or a challenging puzzle. Nothing like that at all. I still make a little bit of progress everytime I play. However, everytime I reach a savepoint, I find myself Blitzball mode. For those who aren’t in the know, Blitzball is the mini-game they added to the game with no real purpose other than kill more time. It’s like rugby mixed with waterpolo.

And it’s addicting! I don’t know why either. It’s fun, but not in an all encompassing way. It’s not particulaly quick, with each match being roughly 15 minutes to play. Yet, I find myself playing it everytime I switch my game on.

The last time I got stuck in this loop, I’d played Blitzball everyday for two weeks, making absolutely no headway in the story. This time, it might even be longer, given how little game time I get these days.

Eventually, the novelty of it will wear off and I can continue on with the storyline. I can only wonder how many hours will be consumed by the silly game.

I guess that makes me a fool for Blitzball as well.

O, Treacherous Hair

I have ridiculously long hair for a guy. I noticed this coming out of the shower the other day and catching my reflection in the mirror. It goes past my shoulder blades when it’s heavy and wet. And thick. So very thick.

Thus, with long hair, comes the hazards of it. Nevermind the fact that it gets caught on things like buttons and zippers when I’m putting clothing on. Those are minor nuisances, at best. Or worst, depending on how you look at it.

Last night at work, during our smoke break, it was a particularly windy night. As I was taking a puff, a rather mischeivous gust tossed my lockes into my face. An angry hiss later and I found a few burnt strands on the end of my smoke. Then the stench of burnt hair accosted my nose, making me want to sneeze. I couldn’t even escape it since it was in my face.

It’s not the first time that I’ve experienced a fiery trim, but certainly one of the worst.

Still that doesn’t compare to the time my hair tried to kill me. No joke. My hair tried to straight up kill me one day.

One morning, I woke up to the surprising sensation of something down my throat. Sitting up quickly, I coughed and gagged out my own hair which had, in my slumbers, managed to sneak its way into my mouth and down my throat. Probably the closest I have ever come to receiving a Darwin Award. At the very least, it would deserve a nomination.

Still, its my choice and I still have my thick fur toque on my head. Sure it might be hot and heavy and full of a murderous rage, but its still my hair and I love it.  So if you ever read a story about a man whose face was burnt to a crisp or was suffocated on his own hair, think of me and know that’s how I would have liked to have gone.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I kid you not, this is the conversation I had with my 5-year-old stepdaughter Mogwai (not her real name, in case you think her mother is a real whack-a-doo) on our way home from kindergarten.

Mog: I had a dream with Jesus in it.

Me: Oh yeah?

Mog: Uh-huh.  And he said for me to come to him.  So I did.

Me: Then what happened?

Mog: It was really you!

Me: <pause> I was Jesus?

Mog: Yeah!  And I hugged you!

Me: Well that’s nice.

Mog: And then you died on the cross.

Me: <pause> That’s…not so nice.

Mog: Because you wanted to be king.

Me: I see.

Mog: And so you died on the cross.

Me: Huh.

I should explain that I have shoulder length brown hair and often sport a short beard, so this isn’t the first time I’ve been compared physically to Jesus.  I’ve had friends jokingly refer to me as such for years and even had a few people drive by and yell it at me as I walk down the street.  It’s not an uncommon occurence to say the least. However, to have a 5-year-old make the connection is a bit disconcerting.  I wasn’t sure what to say to her revelation.

So I just nodded my head in vague interest, as one normally does at the nattering of a child and wandered off onto my own meandering thoughts.  Primarily that, if I am sent here to save the souls of mankind, we are all in big BIG trouble.  I can barely be bothered to take the garbage out on a regular basis, let alone anything of that grandiose level.  As for being virtuous, well…I wouldn’t call myself a bad person, but I am far from a saint.  And that whole martyr thing?  Not my cup of tea, really.

So if push comes to shove and I’m your savior, you may want to invest into some yoga classes so you can learn to kiss your behind goodbye.

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