Monday 31 January 2011

E14 Idea Theater

Here at E14, you'll have noticed that we regularly engage our critical faculties in order to best recommend purchases in all manner of media things to you, the fine E14ies. However, this week, I thought I'd weigh in with some of the things that I think could not only work well, but also be really really bollocking awesome.

1: My idea for Kinect for Xbox 360. Let's be fair to the Kinect: as proof of concept it's excellent, but I imagine most 'hardcore' gamers (loyal fans will recall that I'm not in favour of branding anything as 'hardcore' except wrestling and pornography) turned their noses up at the motion camera when it was first released, particularly as some of the games have looked pretty similar to a few of the less popular offerings on the Nintendo Wii, the system that popularised videogaming as well as the concept of 'shovelware' with wave after wave of minigames that served mainly to bury the good games on Wii.

Anyway, I was on the fence about Kinect at the start, mainly due to the fact that when it first came out I was watching it being demonstrated in a PC World which meant that the gargantuan space behind the player led to absolutely enormous response lag. This meant that rather than track in more or less 1:1 motion, like it's designed to do and actually does in a smaller room, it was translating with massive lag. As a result of this, I initially found myself a little concerned, particularly as early impressions had been very favourable indeed.

However, I played a decent amount of Kinect round at my sister's the other day and found it to be a completely enjoyable experience. Though I did end up experiencing pains in muscles I'm fairly sure I didn't actually have before, I felt the burn of exercise in a way that I'd never felt before from a games console, and certainly never from my Xbox 360. The most exercise I'd experienced before that from my Xbox 360 was throwing my controller down in frustration when I got absolutely bitch-slapped in Halo 3.

Anyway, it was during the game Your Shape: Fitness Evolved that I was struck by inspiration. See, in this game, as well as have yourself illuminated by a figure made almost entirely from lava, it's also possible to have it track and reflect your body in a full-body video image. Sure, it's a little rough around the edges, but it tracks a very high quality, high-detail image. Unless you're The Human Torch, in which case you're better off sticking with the lava guy image to be honest. It's slimming.

Anyway, the other thing that made me think was the way you interact with the game. In order to select options from the menu, you find yourself holding out your hands and raising and lowering your arms in order to select from buttons, which are at various altitudes. Once you get your hand over the area, you hover in place until it registers what you're doing and selects the option for you. Now, the game is published by Ubisoft, and that developer in particular is responsible for a popular series of game. My suggestion, therefore, is thus:

A CSI Kinect game

How perfect is that, right? Ubisoft publish the CSI games, and their drivers for Kinect are particularly awesome. The whole concept makes perfect sense when you think about it. The player can place themselves in the crime scene, and move around within the little bounding box in order to move around the room. They can then hover their hand over an item to interact with it, whether that be to manage their inventory or to zoom in on an area containing evidence. They could then interact with the environment in order to pick up the evidence, place it in a bag and put it in their evidence.

Once they got to the lab, the fun continues. The player can then go through and play the role of the lab tech, reconstructing broken or damaged items on the assembly table, test-fire guns on the firing range (which, incidentally, is about as close as I want to get to firing a gun with Kinect), analysing audio and video sequences in order to piece together evidence. CSI: New York already pretty much does this technology when they're not having an uber-jizz about some Apple product (I watched one the other day where it was Mac this, Mac that...), so it's not a tremendous leap of faith to assume that it could be just as easily implemented on Kinect.

Think, too, of the interrogation scenes. Kinect already tracks facial movement as well as recognises voices, so you could actually do an interrogation just like the series, where the CSIs put on their sarcastic and/or mock helpful tones and offer the perpetrator a deal in exchange for coming clean early. Of course, Kinect would technically allow you to pick up a suspect's head and slam them repeatedly against a desk, but I'm guessing that it would probably count negatively towards your total score during the course of the game. Maybe that's not such a good idea after all. Imagine your supervisor calling you in and saying "Unfortunately, although you processed the evidence thoroughly and didn't ask for any hints, you called the lead suspect a fucking cuntrag."

Finally, the game could make use of the full potential of Xbox Live for the most logical purposes when it comes to CSI: Downloadable cases. It makes perfect sense for the game to allow this sort of thing using Xbox Live, but it's just not something that the developers seem to have ever run with as a concept. Telltale Games, the developers of CSI have already demonstrated that people will pay for downloadable adventure game episodes (with their Sam & Max episodic games among others), so it's not that surprising to think that something with a CSI theme could be successful.

Of course, they may just be worried that horny gamers might play as Catherine and never stop touching themselves. Though if you're willing to listen to her tell you that she used to be a lap dancer/is a single mother, you're a better man than I.

Saturday 29 January 2011

DVD Reviews

The Town
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm
Director: Ben Affleck
Warner Home Video
Available from Monday 31st January – £24.99 (Triple Play Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy) & £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Rob Wade

As he plans a job that could result in his gang's biggest score ever, a longtime thief plans a way out of the life and the town while dodging the FBI agent looking to bring him and his bank-robbing crew down. In addition to heading the cast, Ben Affleck also directed and co-wrote this crime thriller that unfolds - and often explodes - across gritty Boston locations.

I’ve always been of the opinion that Ben Affleck is an extremely underrated and talented actor, and that he got a bad rap mainly for his choice of women in Jennifer Lopez. It mainly comes from his excellent work in Kevin Smith’s movies and Good Will Hunting, as well as his clear ability to be able to act without taking himself too seriously. Hell, I even enjoyed Daredevil to a certain extent. As a director, however, I had no idea what to make of the prospect of one of his movies, particularly one about bank robberies based in Boston.

One of the good things about the movie straight away is that the casting is really well done. Affleck is superb as the bank robber looking to go straight, Jeremy Renner is great as Affleck’s long-time compatriot and fellow robber and Jon Hamm is absolutely superb as the FBI Special Agent. He’s especially good, thinking about it, as over the course of the film he becomes more and more obsessed with catching the four people he is so sure of convicting as the bank robbing foursome.

The plot of the movie is pretty good as bank robbery stories go, as it deals more with the robbers in between jobs, particularly Affleck’s character as the focal point of the movie. The characters are all really well written, with all of them believable and sufficiently despicable while at the same time human. The pacing of the movie, which at over two hours for the Extended Cut could so easily be the undoing of the whole thing, is really well done. You find yourself wanting to finish the story all the way through, and as they do more and more dangerous jobs increasingly efficiently, it’s certainly a hell of a ride from beginning to end.

Ultimately, the only thing I can say which is even remotely negative is that two of the characters are pretty much non-descript characters, but that’s not necessarily a massive concern, as the two lead robbers are so well done.

As if all that wasn’t enough, it also stars E14 favourite Pete Postlethwaite! *Applause*

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: It’s a bank robbery movie, and understandably there are some shoot-out moments and a fair bit of violence.
Sex/Nudity: Some brief nudity, a couple of non-explicit sex scenes.
Swearing: IMDB lists the movie as having 141 uses of “fuck”, 1 use of “cunt”, 43 uses of “shit” and 32 “other”,.
Summary: A slick, well-done, entertaining thriller which is compelling from beginning to end. 10/10
Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen
Starring: Yasuaki Kurata, Qi Shu, Donnie Yen
Director: Wai Keung Lau

Available from Monday 31st January - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

As ever, the constant debate that rages in my head as to whether the plot or the kung-fu truly make a great kung-fu movie. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is definitely argues for kung-fu, and not in a good way.

That isn’t to say the kung-fu on show here is bad; that is definitely not the case. Donnie Yen demonstrates some superb kung fu with some good choreography. Sure, what is on display may not be as technical or as impressive as Ip Man, but Donnie Yen does deliver some good, if slightly over the top, moves with some satisfying blood and pain on show to make you wince. The plot is also gripping and will hold your interest despite a couple of bits where pacing seems to slow down.

The problems with the film is mainly down to the plot being so complicated that it can be hard to follow for those expecting the usual kung-fu romp. Filled to the brim with war, politics and deception, you would have thought Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen to be a complex thriller rather than merely a punch-a-thon. This causes a lot of the pace drops mentioned earlier, and also indirectly affects the kung-fu. The kung-fu scenes get so few and far between that you have to put up with a lot of plot before you get a fairly decent fight scene!

That said, persevere and there is a good plot and some good fight scenes to be enjoyed here. Just don’t expect this to match up to the likes of great kung fu movies such as Fists of Fury and Fist of Legend.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Plenty of kung-fu related violence with quite a bit of blood involved.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: A few swear words but nothing out of the ordinary considering the film’s certificate.
Summary: Despite an overcomplicated plot for a kung-fu movie, the fighting displayed by Donnie Yen is pretty good, despite being a bit over the top at times. Fans of other Chen Zhen films such as Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury and Jet Li’s Fist of Legend will be disappointed by this in terms of kung-fu awesomeness but this is still worth a rental if you like a stronger plot with your ass kickery. 6/10
A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy
Starring: Alexander Karim, Olle Sarri, Lisa Werlinder
Director: Ian McCrudden
Elevation Sales

Available from Monday 31st January - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

Dear all film makers,

If you ever decide to name your film something like A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy, please make sure that you have the following two things in your film: 1: sex (nude swimming and making out may imply sex is going to follow but doesn’t really show it) and, 2: comedy. Throughout the entire film I smiled twice and laughed once; this amount of humour doesn’t really deserve the term 'comedy'.

The problem with the comedy could be because the film is mainly in subtitles (due to being set in Sweden), affecting the delivery. But when you consider there are plenty of foreign comedy films that are funny and get over the language barrier there is nothing here saving this.

In the films defence though, the film isn’t all bad. The plot is nice and light hearted even though it is a premise that has been covered hundreds of times before (a wedding that doesn’t go according to plan). There is also some good character interaction to be had here and there is also a nice soundtrack to help keep things happy and lighthearted.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating

Violence: A couple of comedic style bits where a drunk man runs into a pole and man kicks a car out of rage, but nothing really violent.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of full frontal nudity but there is no real shows of sex scenes and the worst you’ll see are couples making out.
Swearing: A few swear words but nothing out of the ordinary.
Summary: A light hearted affair that is brought down by a lack of originality and very few actual comedic moments for something that has been sold as a comedy. However, if you want a film that you don’t have to think about and will raise the odd smile then this could make a good rental for fans of romantic comedies. 4/10
Starring: Kate Dickie, Karen Gillan, James Nesbitt
Director: Colm McCarthy
Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

When Mary and her teenage son, Fergal, move to yet another new home, it soon becomes clear that they live their lives on the run, hiding from someone or something, terrified of being found. Their hunter Cathal soon picks up the trail, intent on tracking and killing Mary and Fergal, he will go to any length to succeed in his quest often using dark arts to aid him. Mary's only defence is to use an ancient form of magic of her own in order to protect her only son.

When local residents begin to be brutally murdered by an unknown life force, the sense fear escalates. Is Cathal the beast responsible for the killings? Or is it the beast that he is trying to destroy?

Outcast is very slow to get going, and the editing and absolutely atrocious camera work don’t do it any favours. Visually, it’s a mess, and hard to follow.

The main trouble is that instead of presenting its monsters as something new and original, they instead wind up being buried under the weight of their own mythology. Here, there are so many good ideas that just don’t pan out.

With that said, there’s a lot of promise here. The violence is hard hitting and vulgar, and the romance is realistic and touching. McCarthy is one to watch out for in the future. With a better story and editing, he could produce something pretty special.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Blood, gore, bludgeoning.
Sex/Nudity: Oh, yes.
Swearing: Frequent and coarse.
Summary: What flashes of genius there are here are buried under the weight of its own mythology and the woefully slow pacing. Maybe worth a rental. 6/10
Starring: Robert Bathurst, Ruth Jones, Aidan Turner
Director: Dan Zeff
Channel 4 DVD

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Thanks to the success of the Carry On films, actress Hattie Jacques was famous for playing 'fat and funny' characters. However behind closed doors, Hattie became the star in her very own scandal when - in the middle of filming Carry On Cabby - she began a passionate affair with her handsome young chauffeur, John Schofield, while she was still married to Dad's Army actor John Le Mesurier.

Set in the bohemian world of 60s London, Hattie shows that, despite the matronly roles she played on screen, the real Hattie enjoyed an adventurous and passionate love life - risking everything to pursue the man of her dreams.

Hattie is shot brilliantly, and the direction from Dan Zeff is absolutely excellent. The roles are perfectly cast, and the actors obviously studied their parts excellently – Bathurst and Jones both manage to capture the little mannerisms of the stars they are playing. On the surface, Hattie seems fantastic.

Unfortunately, whilst as a piece of visual cinema it’s great, it lacks enough substance to make it truly essential. The pacing is rather slow, even grinding to an apparent halt around the hour mark. The actors are fantastic in their roles, but the way their parts are written makes them feel rather like caricatures, often making very odd decisions, without any real explanation as to why.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Sex/Nudity: Frequent sex scenes. Involving Hattie Jacques. Maybe anime isn’t the worst shift you can pick on this ship...
Swearing: Strong but infrequent.
Summary: A rather strange biopic. It is not a true “life story”, but instead chooses to focus on one pretty odd affair. Well shot and acted, but ultimately unsatisfying. Worth a rental if you’re interested in Jacques, or the Carry On movies. 6/10


Film director, Hong, takes young starlet, Hyun-ah, to the countryside to discuss a new role, where they stop at a farm that is renowned for its home-made chicken soup.

The owner of the farm, Pan-gon, is a recluse and social outcast with a very dark secret. Jealous of Hyun-ah's beauty and insulted by her disdainful treatment of him, he ruthlessly strangles Hong and imprisons Hyun-ah in the basement. Does he want to torture her, use her for sex, or is his agenda even darker?

After Hyun-ah's sister becomes concerned over her disappearance, she contacts the police. A trail of evidence points toward the farm, but will they make it in time to save Hyun-ah from the whims of the unhinged maniac, or will Pan-gon's vengeance be complete?

Thanks to our friends at Cine Asia, we've got two copies of Missing on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Saturday 5th February January, making sure to put "Missing" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

Don't forget to put "Missing" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Missing is available on DVD from Monday 31st January, priced £15.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Friday 28 January 2011

E14 Exchange

Brad: The downside of reviewing more than anyone else is that mathematically, you get more anime than anyone else.
Rob: Yeah, the law of averages isn't really in your favour there.
Brad: It's when I get two in a row that it kills me. I hate Japan. Did I mention?
Rob: I think you may have.
Brad: This one’s based on a Capcom game, too.
Rob: Oh right, which one?
Brad: Sengoku Basara.
Rob: Never heard of it.
Brad: May not have got a release outside of Japan, I guess.
Rob: What kind of game do you reckon it is based on the anime?
Brad: I'd say either a one-on-one beat em up, or a Dynasty Warriors clone.
Rob: Interesting, I can't imagine that translates well.
Brad: There has yet to be a good movie adaptation of a one-on-one beat em up. The best is still P.W. Anderson's Mortal Kombat.
Rob: I love Paul W.S Anderson. He's the Event Horizon guy, right?
Brad: Yep. The other Paul Anderson is the Boogie Nights guy.
Rob: Ahhh yeah, Magnolia man.
Brad: Worst. Superhero. Ever. Apart from The Silver Braggart.
Rob: He was shit.
Brad: Not if you like your children thin and crispy.
Rob: I don't remember ever burning a child, I think I knocked one out cold with a taser or a bin lid. Either way it was awesome.
Brad: Looking ahead through 2011, are you aware of any genre trend in video games, or just the usual suspects?
Rob: There's a fair emphasis on trilogies winding up, but 3D is the only real trend I can see for the time being.
Brad: How are they rocking that? Red/blue lenses, or the full 3DTV front?
Rob: Sony are using 3DTV tech, Nintendo neither. Nintendo have got 3D that works without glasses on their new DS.
Brad: I'm curious about that.
Rob: Apparently it works really well, and has to be seen to be believed. Understandably, the battery's not amazing and it comes with a hefty health warning.
Brad: "Do Not Use If You Have Eyes."
Rob: Essentially, yeah. Three hour play period max is what the gist was I think.
Brad: "Extended play may result in that face-melting bit from Raiders." Wait, what? I can't play on a normal DS for three hours...
Rob: That's more to do with the games though isn’t it?
Brad: Point. And the size of the screen.
Rob: I think the 3DS is more like the DSiXL.
Brad: "Can I get a bigger screen?"
"How about two of the same size?"
"That's not quite the sa...fine.”

Brad: There's a game coming out called Model Train Simulator. That's a simulation of a simulation, surely?
Rob: I guess so. Do model trains suffer from the same issues as real ones? Price hikes, signal failures etc?
Brad: I hope so. I'm sadistic like that.
Rob: Where's the enjoyment factor if they are?
Brad: If I had a train set I couldn't not put a Godzilla model alongside it.
Rob: See, that I'd play. Model train simulator featuring Godzilla? Gold!
Brad: You okay? You seem a bit fed up.
Rob: A little bit, but I anticipate tomorrow will help immensely.
Brad: Someone stick a camera in your wang?
Rob: The hospital appointment? Damn, I forgot about that...
Brad: You’ve got a movie that needs to go up tomorrow.
Rob: Okay, I'll knock it out tonight.
Brad: The camera?

Brad: Liz coming tomorrow?
Rob: Doubtful, she's got a ton of uni work and hasn't talked about coming.
Brad: Fair enough. Just thinking I haven't seen her for a while, that's all.
Rob: She's not dead...
Brad: She was never alive...
Rob: You're thinking of my old girlfriend, who I supposedly made up just because you’d never met her.
Brad: *Name removed*?
Rob: You...met her...didn't you?
Brad: Or did I?
Rob: Yes!
Brad: Fine.
Brad: I'm currently reviewing Smokey and the Bandit on Blu-ray. Did anyone want a HD version of this? What's the thinking here?
Rob: I've literally no idea.
Brad: We got this, The Breakfast Club and Spartacus. I can understand the other two. That's a cult favourite and a cinema classic but...this?
Rob: People like HD Burt?
Brad: The 'stash is looking very luxuriant, no argument there. They sent us Boogie Nights last year, so you may be onto something. I'll keep my eyes open for The Cannonball Run.
Brad: This might be one of the most redneck movies ever made. And I've seen Caddyshack.
Rob: Twice, as I recall.
Brad: Lots of driving in this movie.
Rob: I’ve always wondered about that movie: Is 'The Bandit' the car?
Brad: No, ‘The Bandit’ is Burt Reynolds's CB handle. ‘Smokey’ is apparently trucker slang for a Texas Ranger.
Rob: Ahhhhh.
Brad: Sherriff. Cop thing. You not seen it?
Rob: Nope, not really a Burt fan.
Brad: Do you think the moustache has a seperate agent? That'd be hilarious.
Rob: That would be amazing.
Brad: Or maybe he just refers to it in the third person to fuck with people.
Rob: 'Can someone get the moustache a cola?'
Brad: "He'll need a nice trailer.". It's like a Hollywood version of Zeke the Angry Wasp.
Rob: 'He has a massive rider. And his demands aren't bad either. Wa-hey!'
Brad: Until one day he stops talking to it due to something the moustache mentioned in his "tell all" autobiography. Sure, they still work together, but you can tell it's not the same.


The UK’s leading science fiction and fantastic film festival, SCI-FI-LONDON (The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film), will host film screenings, special events, workshops and celebrations during its 10 day festival across the capital in 2011. For the first time, the BFI Southbank and BFI Imax will host festival events.

The festival runs Saturday 23 April – Monday 2 May, 2011. In the current climate, SCI-FI-LONDON makes no apologies for its defiantly carnival attitude. In addition to the core film programme, highlights include:

• The Royal Wedding all-nighter The night before Will and Kate’s wedding we celebrate the wonder of weddings with Veronica Lake, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The evening features five black-and-white classics including: Bride of Frankenstein, Bride of Dracula and I Married a Witch. Midnight ‘til 9am... cheaper than a hotel and a stone’s throw from The Mall!

• 20th Anniversary of MANGA UK ! Celebrate with screenings of the classic Akira in glorious HD and brand new animé feature, Eden of the East.

• 48 Hour Film Challenge with Edgar Wright and Gareth Edwards on the jury, our 2011 challenge has a first prize of a feature development deal with Vertigo Films. The challenge takes place 2–4 April, 2011.

SCI-FI-LONDON LAB Our real science thread examines subjects including long distance space travel and synthetic biology. Thinking caps on please.

• Fantasy Easter Parade along the Southbank From the BFI to the London Film Museum on Easter Sunday, featuring Stormtroopers, zombies, superheroes and more. All genres, all costumes, all-comers welcome to this free event!

Festival Director, Louis Savy says: “It is a tribute to our volunteer staff and the support of our sponsors and venues that we are here today. When we started ten years ago it was to challenge preconceptions about science fiction and bring a few independent movies to London. I never imagined we would become a key fixture in the international film festival calendar, and be a well-known genre event. This year’s festival will certainly be bigger and bolder but, equally, a celebration of those 10 years of fantastic film.”

Full details will be available soon on

Thursday 27 January 2011

K9 Giveaway!

TV's most loved robot dog, K9, blasts back into action via a Space Time Manipulator and arrives in the late 21st Century in a London scarred by Alien Intrusion and Government rule through a Cybernetic Police Force.

K9 is a cybernetic construct from the 50th Century and has the appearance of an earth dog both in shape and size. He arrives at the home of Professor Gryffen, a renowned cybernetics and temporal dynamics expert who is working on the Alien Space-Time-Manipulator (STM) which opens a portal to anywhere in space and time. K9 is following a group of rogue Aliens, Jixen Warriors who attack Gryffen and a couple of teenagers; Starkey a homeless rebel and Jorjie, a very capable intelligent young girl.

To save them K9 sacrifices himself and explodes, soon followed by his regeneration thanks to a strange alien device implanted in his mainframe. The new look K9 can now hover and fly and has more capabilities than ever before. K9 loses his long term memory and begins a quest to not only protect humanity but to discover more about his time and space travelling past.

The Earth has suffered at the hands of natural disasters and the world government's have developed cybernetic technology and replaced human police and security forces with Cybernetic Civil Pacification Corps (The CCPC) who are controlled by the sinister "Department". The Department have divisions run by Inspectors who control Public Order and Alien and Paranormal activity.

Alongside Gryffen's errand boy, Darius the teens are destined to become K9's companions in the battle against repression by the Department and the ongoing intrusion by Alien Life forms.

Thanks to our friends at Brightspark, we've got three copies of K9 - Series One: Volume 1 on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 3rd February, making sure to put "K9" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

Don't forget to put "K9" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

K9 - Series One: Volume One is available on Double DVD from Monday 31st January, priced £29.99.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed


The most extraordinary thing, of all the strange things that happened upon that Friday, was the combination of the commonplace habits of our social order with the first beginnings of the series of events that was to topple our social order headlong into headbuggery. If on Friday night you had drawn a circle for five miles around Woking, then, firstly, you’d have had far too much time on your hands. Secondly, I doubt if you would have had one human being outside it whose emotions were at all affected by the coming of the Marsians. Many people had heard of it, of course, and talked about it at leisure, but it certainly did not make the sensation that an ultimatum to North Korea would have done.

In London that night a telegram describing the gradual unscrewing of the cylinder was judged to be a prank, and the evening paper decided not to print a special edition. They ran the diary of some crankpot superhero instead.

Even within that five-mile circle the great majority of people weren’t all that bothered. I have already described the behaviour of the men and women to whom I spoke. All over the district people were dining and supping; working men were gardening, children were being beaten, young people were wandering through the lanes love-making (not literally...well..mostly), students sat over their bongs, pensioners rocked back and forth making racist comments.

Maybe there was a murmur in the village streets, a dominant topic in pubs, and here and there a messenger, or even an eye-witness of the later occurrences, caused a whirl of excitement; but for the most part the daily routine of working, eating, drinking, sleeping, went on as it had done for countless years—as though no planet Mars existed in the sky. Even at Woking station and Horsell and Chobham that was the case.

In Woking junction, until a late hour, trains were stopping and going on, and everything was proceeding in the most ordinary way. A boy from the town was selling papers with the afternoon’s news. The ringing impact of trucks and the sharp whistle of the engines from the station, mingled with their shouts of “Men from Mars!” Excited men came into the station about nine o’clock with incredible tidings, and caused no more disturbance than drunkards might have done. People rattling Londonwards peered into the darkness outside the carriage windows, and saw only a rare, flickering, vanishing spark dance up from the direction of Horsell, a red glow and a thin veil of smoke driving across the stars, and thought that nothing more serious than a heath fire was happening. It was only round the edge of the common that any disturbance was perceptible. There were half a dozen villas burning on the Woking border. There were lights in all the houses on the common side of the three villages, and the people there kept awake till dawn.

A curious crowd lingered restlessly, people coming and going but the crowd remaining, both on the Chobham and Horsell bridges. One or two adventurous souls, it was afterwards found, went into the darkness and crawled quite near the Marsians; but they never returned, for now and again a light-ray, like the beam of a warship’s searchlight swept the common, and the Heat-Ray was ready to follow. Save for that instrument of hot toasty death, that big area of common was silent and desolate, and the charred bodies lay about on it all night under the stars, and all the next day. A noise of hammering from the pit was heard by many people.

Such was the state of things on Friday night. In the centre, sticking into the skin of our old planet Earth like a needle into Amy Winehouse, was this cylinder.

Around it was a patch of silent common, smouldering in places, and with a few dark, dimly seen objects lying in contorted attitudes here and there. Here and there was a burning bush or tree. Beyond was a fringe of excitement, and farther than that fringe the inflammation had not crept as yet. In the rest of the world the stream of life still flowed as it had flowed for immemorial years. The fever of war that would presently clog vein and artery, deaden nerve and destroy brain, had still to develop.

All night long the Marsians were hammering and stirring, sleepless, indefatigable, at work upon the machines they were making ready, and ever and again a puff of greenish-white smoke whirled up to the starlit sky. It seemed obvious at the time that they were making some sort of Marsian bong.

About eleven in the morning, a company of soldiers came through Horsell and deployed along the edge of the common to form a cordon. A second company marched through Chobham to deploy on the north side. Several officers from the Inkerman barracks had been on the common earlier in the day, and one, Major Eden, was reported to be missing. The colonel of the regiment came to the Chobham bridge and was busy questioning the crowd at midnight. I was – as always – sexually aroused by close proximity to military hardware, so took frequent walks there, whilst Enid remained in standby at home, with the dog collar and the buttercream.

A few seconds after midnight the crowd in the Chertsey road, Woking, saw a star fall from heaven into the pine woods to the northwest. It had a greenish colour, and caused a silent brightness like summer lightning. This was the second cylinder.


The massive battle for the World Tree reaches its boiling point as the dark gods, bent on reducing the earth to a cinder, have finally breached the mortal plane! Now all that stands between them and certain victory is the combined might of Thor and the newly resurrected Odin! The Mighty Avenger and the All-Father hurdle head-on into the jaws of the World Eaters for the epic monster-sized brawl of the century, this February – only in Thor #620!


Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf.

But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. Panic grips the town as Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast-one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect...and bait.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Book Reviews

Hell's Belles
Jackie Kessler
Little, Brown Book Group

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Once upon a time, Jezebel was a powerful succubus, capable of seducing men and sucking out their souls. But that was before Hell put a bounty on her head. Now her only chance to escape a fate far worse than death is to live as a mortal, losing herself in a sea of unfamiliar humanity, in a place where sinners walk hand-in-hand with saints - a place like Belle's strip club in New York City.

Working as an exotic dancer is a piece of cake for a former demon who once specialized in sex...but she hadn't counted on meeting sexy Paul Hamilton, a man haunted by his past. Good-bye, succubus; hello, lovestruck. Learning all about how complicated - and pleasurable - love can be, Jezebel thinks she's turned her back on Hell. But Hell hasn't stopped looking for her. The secrets Jezebel holds are the most dangerous of all, the kind every demon in the Underworld would do their worst to protect. Demons are closing in, which is enough to make Jezebel shiver in her G-string. But it's her love for Paul that's going to have deadly consequences...

The premise of Hell's Belles seemed interesting and could actually lead on to quite an interesting series of novels as long as it was written well and the characters fleshed out properly. Clearly the publishers of this novel couldn’t be arsed with all that faffing and decided to publish a book that was thought up whilst the author was having a nice poo.

The characters are really one dimensional, the plot should have been interesting but was just plain boring and the lead female couldn’t be less demonic even if she tried! There are some laughable shagging moments in this book as well. For a succubus she really doesn’t seem to be fulfilling her role.

So here is my advice for you whilst there is a fuel shortage, rather than read this book use it on your fire instead. It might ignite more passion that way as it clearly doesn’t manage it whilst you are reading it.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Plenty, but all a bit rubbish.
Sex/Nudity: There was more shagging and stripping than there was dialogue.
Swearing: Some.
Summary: This is a really lazy attempt a paranormal romance. Everyone loves to read a bit of boning in their novel, but this was uninspiring. 3/10

Pax Brittania: Gods of Manhattan
Al Ewing
Abaddon Books

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

While his sidekick lies bleeding out in hospital, city saviour Doc Thunder and Maya, his beatiful companion, attempt to discover the identity of their friend's assailant. The clues lead to secrets altogether older and darker than they could ever have imagined.

The Blood Spider - a name that strikes fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere. But unlike Doc Thunder, this vigilante is willing to kill, and it can only be a matter of time before the two heroes collide. Mexican masked swordsman El Sombra is also visiting the Big Apple, but he's not just any tourist. El Sombra is on a mission of revenge that will take him all the way into the heart of the city's corrupt underworld.

Gods of Manhattanis a Abaddon Books doing what they do best – over the top sci-fi pulp action. The characters in this are all incredible – from the truly powerful and good to the nationally socialistically evil.

The action scenes (which, thinking about it, probably compose about 85% of the novel) are fantastically well written, and you can actually feel each and every impact as it strikes home. If this was a comic, it would be written and drawn by Mike Mignola. It plays into the conventions of the superhero story, without ever being hampered by them.

If you’re looking for something action packed, then look no further. You’ve found some good fun, here.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequent, bloody hyper-violence.
Sex/Nudity: Some female nudity and “off-camera” BDSM.
Swearing: Some, but pretty mild.
Summary: A fun half-superhero, half-steampunk comedy/action/sci-fi novel. Forgettable, but great fun while it lasts. 8/10

Monday 24 January 2011

Crytek - A Love Story

Loyal readers will recall a post of mine way back when, where I talked at length about my love for the game company Infocom, the company responsible for some absolutely awesome adventure games. Today, we take a look at another company responsible for moments of gaming awesomeness.

Established in Germany in 1999, Crytek are a primarily German developer based in Frankfurt (though they now have more offices in five countries - more on that later), most notably known for creating the Far Cry and Crysis franchises. For those not familiar, I'll discuss the games in greater depth as we go along, but put it this way: would this post exist if I didn't think a fair bit of them?

It's often said that people should play to their strengths. The folks at EA Sports probably would struggle to make a music game without a fair bit of time to practise (I'm sure they could get along with it, as they're talented lawyers have advised me to say), and so it makes sense to think that all developers should at least focus primarily on their strongest genre, even if they don't dedicate themselves to the genre completely.

Crytek are probably one of the better examples of why developers do this. Although you'd be hard pushed to find an entry in their catalogue which doesn't stray from the first-person shooter (though there is yet to be much information on Codename: Kingdoms, their exclusive Xbox 360 title unveiled at E3 2010), the game developer most definitely knows their stuff when it comes to this style.

Crytek first caught my eye in 2004 when I was living in France and working as an English Assistant in a French high school (absolutely true), and found myself with a fair bit of free time to kill. Rather than do traditional things like 'making friends', 'integrating into a brand new culture' or any of that bollocks, I decided to play a shit-ton of video games on my new laptop, which to this day is still working over 6 years later. Every time I hear someone say I should get a Mac, I simply pity them.

Anyway, one of the games I packed and took with me was Far Cry, Crytek's first offering, released in 2004. The game sees you take the role of Jack Carver, who gets himself washed up on a strange island with no seeming reason for why his boat was destroyed (which becomes clearer as you go along). You then have to explore the island, completing objectives, in order to find out the secret of the mysterious island and escape.

One of the great things about Far Cry, that struck me about the game very early on, was just how impressive it was technically. The first game to use CryENGINE, the beginning of Crytek's all-out war with gamers and their fantastic-spec PC. The graphics were incredible for the time, and to be fair my only other experience when I first got out there was Football Manager. It'll sound strange to say, but actually the most impressive thing for me was draw distance.

I was able to be stealthy, hiding inside bushes and watching closely for movement in leaves and passing through the undergrowth, and then pop off a few rounds to take them out. It's a testament to the skill of the developer that the trick I just mentioned worked just as well at a hundred yards than at ten feet, and many was the time I amazed my French corridor buddies with my marksmanship and vision. Gone are the days when I didn't suck at games, regrettably, so now I tend to see the enemy just as they put one between my eyes. And a bullet. Wa-hey!

Anyway, technically the game was superb. Granted, you found yourself wondering why the first thing Carver didn't do on the island was take off his Hawaiian shirt, but at the same time the reasons for exploring the island were completely compelling. The gameplay, too, was spectacularly good. Because of the nature of the game, the entire island was explorable, so players could just as easily hide in the bushes down one side of a path or swim across a river trying their best to keep out of sight.

One particular highlight that sticks with me is a set piece when you were trying to destroy a ship, only to be attacked by a helicopter as you placed the last charge. At this point, the player has a number of options. You can either stay on the ship and try to take out the helicopter before the ship sinks and then swim for it, or you can leap from the ship as soon as you place the last charge and take your chances from the mainland. It's openness like that which attracts me to a game, and developers who embrace the concept of doing things in more than one way always hold a special place in my estimation.

As a result of the fun times I had with Far Cry, I looked forward to their next release immensely. That release became known as Crysis, and was released in 2007. The story here is that the game is set in a fictional future, and the US have sent in their new 'Nano-suit' soldiers to a remote island where an alien structure has been found. Scientists have been kidnapped by North Korean soldiers, in order to have the structure analysed. Your task (as it originally begins) is to rescue these scientists.

Again, the game was technically superb. I once remarked that if there was a company who was expressly designing a game that would actively destroy computers, then it would be Crytek. Admittedly, id Software have come along since then and developed Rage, but I still stand by the statement to a large extent. Graphics were improved, the jungles were much thicker with trees and foliage, making cover options more available still. However, the 'Nano-suit' technology and streamlined game interface was what made this game awesome. That, and the ability to change the soldiers' spoken language to English or Korean for a little added difficulty.

The 'Nano-suit' allowed players to choose between four in-game abilities, all of which would recharge once depleted, meaning that they had to be used strategically in order to maximise results. The default setting was 'Armour', which acted as your over-shield and stopped your health from dropping. There was also 'Speed', which allowed you to run at twice the normal speed through environments, 'Strength' which permitted you to jump higher as well as punch or throw objects with considerably more force, and finally 'Cloak'. 'Cloak' was probably my most frequently used power during the course of the game, and the use of it is sort of easy enough to guess really - you cloak. It's a cloaking shield.

See, what was great about it was that these powers had to be used sensibly in order to progress through the game without being dispatched by the North Koreans and any enemies you may meet along the way. Using your 'Speed' five hundred yards away was pointless, as was enacting 'Cloak' when you're right up close to someone. Careful and considered use, however, meant that you would be unlikely to take a significant amount of damage. It was hard, though, make no mistake. Crytek have contempt for two things, apparently: custom-build gaming PCs and the concept of playing an entire game through without dying a fuckton.

But yet again, here is great game design at work. Using those powers carefully, players can even 'Cloak' in the right places and maybe never even have to fight any patrolling enemies. You can use 'Strength' to lob a grenade from much further away than you traditionally would. Thanks to destructible buildings, rather than go into a house and kill a guy, you can use a rocket launcher and bring the shed down on top of him. That works, by the way. You can even carry a watermelon. It's a bit like Dirty Dancing, only not made of shit and wank.

Ultimately, though, the games could be technically proficient and still suck, and this is another area where Crytek are strong. The interface on Crysis in particular is nothing short of inspired. Players can adjust suppressors, laser sights and other weapon additions with the touch of a button and a few quick clicks, all without the action being broken up by pausing the game. Of course, nobody in their right mind will make those adjustments mid-firefight unless they're particularly sadistic and deep-down want to fail, and in that case fuck 'em frankly.

So there you have it. Crytek, never stop doing what you do, and here's hoping Codename: Kingdoms turns out to be the absolute tits, just like we're secretly expecting...


This warm ensemble comedy that delivers all the charm and surprise of Swedish Midsummer! The wonderful Swedish-American cast includes Luke Perry (Beverley Hills 90210), Lisa Werlinder (Munich) and Olle Sarri. Sumptuous food, steaming saunas, and midnight skinny dipping are the tradition on Swedish Midsummer, a day when the sun never sets. This year, friends have gathered at the country house of Emil and Susanne, the perfect Swedish couple.

In attendance are Eva, who is looking for something (someone) to take her mind off of her recent split with Patrick. Anders and Maria the nude hipsters who are trying for their first child, Micke and Katrina who are about to have their first any day, and finally Sam, the American friend who engages the proceedings with a twinkle and a smile. Expectations are exceeded when Emil's big planned surprise goes awry - leaving them all turned around for good!

Thanks to our friends at Elevation Sales, we've got three copies of A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Monday 31st January, making sure to put "Swedish Midsummer" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

Don't forget to put "Swedish Midsummer" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy is available on DVD from Monday 31st January, priced £15.99.

Saturday 22 January 2011

DVD Reviews

The Other Guys
Starring: Will Ferrll, Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Adam McKay
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 24th January - £17.99 (DVD) & £22.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Misfit NYPD detectives Gamble and Hoitz (Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) are sentenced to life behind the desk. They hate each other and the monotony of their meaningless jobs, as they're forced to live in the shadow of the two biggest and most badass cops on the force (Mace Windu and The Rock). But when those guys go down for the count, opportunity knocks for Gamble and Hoitz. Stumbling onto what could be one of the biggest crimes in years, can The Other Guys step up their game to solve the case without killing each other and destroying NYC in the process?

I was worried for the first twenty or so minutes of The Other Guys. It seemed slow, stilted and a generally a bit of a lame duck. I don’t know what happened after that, but it was like a light was switched on and I was creasing up.

The Other Guys has a great cast – that you know already – and the characters they’re playing are also great. They are all likable, in one way or another, and the quick fire dialogue (particularly between Gamble and Hoitz) is the main reason for most of the laughs. Ferrell and Wahlberg make a surprisingly good comedy team, and they real bounce off each other well in this. Eva Mendes and Michael Keaton are similarly hilarious in theire supporting roles.

The pace of the main story is really good, and it’s constantly on the move – calling to mind odd-couple cop comedies like the Lethal Weapon movies, 48 Hours and (to a lesser extent) Freebie and the Bean. If you want a few explosions thrown in with your gut laughs, then this is a winner.

But can we stop using Steve Coogan as the Big Bad Evil Dude, please? Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief already proved that that doesn’t work.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some scuffling, gunfire and explosions.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: A fair amount.
Summary: A solid-action comedy with excellent performances and great dialogue. A little slow to start, but well worth checking out. 8/10
Circle of Pain
Starring: Roger Huerta, Frank Mir, Kimbo Slice
Director: Daniel Zirilli
Chelsea Films

Available from Monday 24th January - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

When director Daniel Zirilli came to making Circle of Pain, he must have come across a tough decision when it came to casting the main star, Dalton Hunt. Should he get an actor and train them to use mixed martial arts that can normally be seen in cage fighting, or should he just hire someone who can already do the fighting and hope that he can act? Sadly, he chose the second option when he cast Tony Schiena for the role, and the performance of the World Karate Champion just isn’t up to scratch, and this isn’t the only flaw with this film.

Ignoring the problem of the DVD cover which shows a bit part actor in the film taking the centre of the box art, the film is dogged with a basic and predictable script lifted from countless fighting movies (Seen Rocky? Now imagine a dumbed down version of it and you are practically there). The acting in general is pretty shoddy, with characters never truly feeling like they gel with each other. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that the sets and the camera work are pretty good I would have suspected this to be a budget film with acting this good.

It’s not all bad though, the fighting itself is pretty solid, although unspectacular, and there are a few unintentionally funny bits such as a very poor sex scene and poor dialogue. But when something bad about the film turns into a good point, then you have to start worrying about it.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of punching, kicking and wrestling holds as can be expected from UFC style cage fighting, not a lot of blood is showed though.
Sex/Nudity: Plenty of boobs and a few sex scenes including a laughable scene where the two bad guys seem to have sex without removing their clothes (clever huh?).
Swearing: There is plenty of swearing, although this is wrestling quality of bad language rather than the really strong stuff.
Summary: A pretty sub par entry into the fighting genre that never does anything new or spectacular to compare with great films such as Raging Bull or Rocky. Not truly abysmal, but definitely nothing here to recommend to fans of cage fighting. Or film in general. 4/10
Smokey and the Bandit
Starring: Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Burt Reynolds
Director: Hal Needham
Universal Pictures UK

Available from Monday 24th January - £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Burt Reynolds is the Bandit, a king-of-the-road trucker hero who accepts the ultimate challenge: pick up a truckload of Coors beer in Texarkana - the closest place it can be legally sold - and haul it cross-country to Atlanta in 48 hours. The reward? $80,000! The result? A non-stop series of car chases and crashes!

The remastering job here – especially considering the age of the film – has been a really good one. The picture looks sharp, and there’s nothing quite so awe inspiring as the sight of Burt’s ‘stash in 1080p.

The film itself is a fun one, consisting mostly of footage of nifty stunt driving, making it possibly the most redneck film ever made. The cast a over the top, colourful, cartoonish characters, and this seems fitting: Smokey and the Bandit is little more than a live action Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote movie. The slapstick scenes are generally very well timed and get a good laugh, even out of a comedy snob like me.

The farce starts to wear thin by the hour mark, and the plot limps home, but it’s a fun ride whilst it last. It’s unlikely you’ll want to update from DVD for this, but if you’ve been itching to get a copy, go for this one.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some grappling and traffic collisions.
Sex/Nudity: Some references.
Swearing: Relatively coarse for the time.
Summary: The picture looks great in this reissue, but too much padding, and not enough excitement or laughter in the last half hour let this down. Stick with The Cannonball Run, instead. 6/10
A Bay of Blood
Starring: Claudine Auger, Claudio Camaso, Luigi Pistilli
Director: Mario Bava
Arrow Video

Available Now - £17.99 (Double DVD) & £22.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Countess Federica, the elderly owner of a coveted piece of bayside property, is brutally slain by her husband--who is himself killed by a mysterious third person at the murder scene! Who is the killer?

Could it be the real estate developer or the entomologist neighbor who wants to preserve the natural insect life thriving around the bay? Perhaps the Countess's illegitimate son, in a bid to claim a name for himself, is responsible? Whoever it is, brace yourself, because no one's a suspect for very long in Mario Bava's black comedy of human greed - which boasts thirteen of the most shocking murders ever filmed!

High fives to Arrow Video. Their re-issues of classic 70s horror movies never disappoint. Once again they’re back, with the often glossed over Bava movie A Bay of Blood. True to their reputation thus far, the package is excellent, and the picture looks razor sharp.

The movie is stylishly shot and the characters – whilst conforming to the characters of the slasher movie cliché – are far from flat and lifeless. They feel real, which isn’t something you can day about all that many slasher movies. The gore work is realistic, rather than splatterpunk, and it helps the movie stand out in the crowd.

The main mystery is relatively interesting, but not really all that memorable. If you’re into Giallo or gore movies, then A Bay of Blood is a nice little one to have on your shelf that is all too often omitted. If you’re not a collector though, you can probably take a pass.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequent and bloody murders. Stabbing, slashing, machete smashed face, spearing, decapitation, garrotting, scissor death.
Sex/Nudity: Full sex and full cuntal. Not the same scene, though.
Swearing: Some, but pretty mild.
Summary: Not one of the essential movies but, as always, Arrow have really done the movie proud. Pick it up if you’re a collector of the genre. 8/10
WWE: The John Cena Experience
Starring: Kurt Angle, John Cena, The Miz
Clear Vision

Available from Monday 24th January - £29.99 (3 DVD Set)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

Love him or hate him, John Cena is one of the biggest things to happen to modern professional wrestling. To a lot of people, he's an unstoppable superhero, capable of winning under any odds, and a true role-model. To a lot of other people, he's a sloppy worker, an over-pushed brown-noser and a cheesy talentless nobody. With The John Cena Experience, WWE tries to put us all into the first category...and nearly does it.

The first of this three disc set follows Cena around for the best part of a year, and shows his various exploits away from the ring. He's a pretty busy man as his activities include everything from acting in movies/TV shows and marshalling American Football parades to pre-signing three-thousand autographs for Wrestlemania and visiting many, many children on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as visiting US soldiers in Afghanistan.

The first thing I noticed when watching this is that John Cena is really, really likeable. He is naturally charismatic and genuinely cares about the causes that he champions. He speaks clearly, and is incredibly eloquent. You get the feeling that his speech is aimed at the younger WWE-exclusive audience, but without ever becoming patronising to an adult, general-wrestling-interest viewer. I can’t stress enough just how ridiculously nice he seems. It’s a real shame that they don’t let this shine through to his WWE interviews, and instead have him shout cheesy, over the top lines about “Hustle, Loyalty and Respect“, like an 80s cartoon character..

Discs two and three are made up of fifteen John Cena matches. Just like his usual in-ring performances, they’re all a bit hit and miss, but there has been a definite, and suprising, improvement in his talents through time. He still can't punch convincingly though.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Of the wrestling kind.
Sex/Nudity: Nope.
Swearing: One “ass”.
Summary: Needless to say, every member of the “Cenation” is going to buy this. And well they should, it’s a real insight into the man for fans and non-fans alike. 8/10


The secret of Kang is revealed in a new episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on Sunday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m., ET/PT on Disney XD. With no hope in sight, the Avengers make one last desperate gamble—and the fate of the world depends on their success.


It's got a dose of Team America, bit of Braveheart, Nazis invading London and a whole host of laughs. With creative puppetry, a brilliant British cast (including Ewan McGregor and Stephan Merchant) and a sense of unashamedly British humour that draws on everything from Viz to 'Allo 'Allo - Jackboots On Whitehall is an entertaining and rebellious film for all to enjoy - or as we like to call it: Team America meets Inglorious Basterds!

The action begins as the Nazis - led by the campest Hitler on record (Alan Cummings) - plan an invasion of England. As Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) plots an evacuation to Scot Land... somewhere in England's green and pleasant countryside, farmworker Chris (Obi-wan Kenobi) is trying to win the heart of Daisy (Rosamund Pike) while rueing the fact that he can't fight for his country because his "hands are too big". When the Germans hit town, it falls to Chris and his countryside cohorts to come to the rescue and the raggle-taggle band head to Hadrian's Wall to seek help from the "bloodthirsty" Scots.

Thanks to our friends at Sony Picture Home Entertainment, we've got three copies of Jackboots on Whitehall on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Saturday 29th January, making sure to put "Jackboots on Whitehall" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

Don't forget to put "Jackboots on Whitehall" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Jackboots on Whitehall is available on DVD from Monday 24th January, priced £15.99.

Friday 21 January 2011

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Joe Dever gamebook Highway Holocaust. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: Many days had been spent in silence, hoping and praying for the sounds of excavation or a voice on the radio link to the surface. But all that could be heard was the static crackle of the gamma radiation which was blanketing the earth. Uncle Jonas proposed that an attempt be made to reach the surface by tunnelling through the blocked central shaft.
Rob: He's not a very bright geologist, obviously.
Brad: It was an awesomely dangerous feat, to dig vertically through 300 feet of compressed concrete rubble and twisted steel girders, but there was no other way you could ever hope to escape from the mine. Progress was painfully slow but the work gave you all a sense of purpose, a reason to go on, even though you feared what could be awaiting you on the surface.
Rob: Some disgruntled Cafe workers no doubt.
Brad: Those years spent in the mine taught you invaluable lessons in survival. Uncle Jonas showed you how to refine gasoline from crude oil to keep the generators alive; to coax fresh water from porous rock; to manufacture spare parts in order to maintain vital machinery. Aunt Betty-Ann, who had at one time been a nurse and a high school teacher in Denton county, attended to your education and made sure that you stayed fit and healthy. Their love and support enabled you to grow during those dark days underground despite the enormous sense of loss you felt for your parents, brothers and sister. You vowed then that one day you would repay their kindness by protecting and caring for them.
You'd think just "getting a girlfriend and moving out" would mean more to them, though, right?
Rob: They've been underground a while, maybe they've seen him masturbate now.

Brad: It was early September in the year 2019 when finally you broke through to the surface. Aunt Betty-Ann was convinced that radiation levels would still be dangerously high, and at first she was against leaving the mine. Crazy old woman.
Rob: I know, right? Cut the umbilical cord, already!
Brad: But, during the last few months of your incarceration, the static that had always jammed the radio wavelengths had gradually cleared, and Uncle Jonas was able to persuade her that this meant it was now sage to live above ground. When you first emerged from the mine, you thought you were on the surface of another planet. Surely this could not be Earth?
Rob: I'd imagine it is.
Brad: Few structures had survived the blizzards and intense cold that had swept around the world in the years following The Day, and now, after the dust had settled and the sun returned, the once-fertile plains of Austin resembled little more than a desert of parched and broken rock littered with the artifacts of an absent civilisation.
Rob: Anything I can mooch?
Brad: During the first few days, when you set out to explore this wilderness, it was easy to believe that you were the only survivors. But on the morning of the fifth day, Uncle Jonas made a chance radio contact with a family called Ewell who were living near the ruins of McKinney, thirty miles north of Dallas. They told him that they had been in touch with a handful of other groups who had managed somehow to survive the holocaust. Most were isolated, unable to move due to lack of fuel, food or water. They had urged those who could travel to join them in McKinney, to start a new community, and some were already on their way.
Rob: He's going to be mental, wait and see.
Brad: Your uncle and aunt also accepted their invitation. Which they totally didn't ask you about, and you probably stamped up to your room.
Rob: How old am I at this point? Nineteen?
Brad: Nineteen or twenty, yeah.
Rob: And remind me, Blake would be thirty-three, right?
Brad: Yeah. McKinney was not very far from Denton, and they were curious to see if anything remained of their ranch. They planned to return home, salvage whatever they could that might be of use, and then move on to McKinney. The Ewells were enthusiastic, but they warned that not everyone who had survived wanted to establish a new community. The ruins of Dallas and Fort Worth were controlled by gangs of criminals who fought with each other and terrorised anyone seeking to re-establish law and order.
They advised you to avoid them at all costs when travelling north.
Rob: Meaning that in true Fallout fashion, I should go back there once I've got the good guns.

Brad: Interstate Freeway 35 was the only highway still intact amid the devastation that surrounded the mine.
Rob: Hooray, I can go down to Waco, and see my buddy Vernon!
Brad: It offered a direct route home to Denton, if only transportation could be found, for Uncle Jonas considered conditions far too dangerous to attempt such a long journey on foot. It took more than a week to discover a vehicle that was still serviceable. It was an old school bus, one that had survived the years of sub-zero blizzards. With a few new parts, a tankful of gas and a lot of hard work it was eventually brought back to life. Provisions, including a small generator, were hoisted out of the mine and stowed aboard before you began the journey back to the ranch.
The noisy old bus bumped along the rock-strewn freeway that stretched northward across an empty sea of dust. It was a harrowing sight.
Rob: The school bus of doom sounds like a harrowing sight.
Brad: Hardly a trace remained of what were once thriving communities, and the once-populous cities of Temple and Waco had barely enough buildings still standing to qualify as small towns. It was not until you reached the outskirts of Fort Worth that you encountered signs of human habitation.
Rob: Shit. This is the crazy bit.
Brad: The road ahead was blocked by a line of wrecked autos, and at your approach a group of hard-faced men and women, clad in composite costumes of leather and riveted steel, suddenly popped up from behind this barricade.

Rob: Raiders, eh?
Brad: Uncle Jonas was suspicious and slowed the bus almost to a halt. Suddenly they produced handguns and rifles and began to take aim at the windshield, and he knew it was not the time to stop to ask for directions! He told you and Aunt Betty-Ann to brace yourselves, then stamped his foot on the gas and drove the bus straight through the wall of cars, scattering the punks like ten-pins in a strike. The bus was shot at many times as it sped through Fort Worth, but the street gangs had been caught out and you managed to escape from the ruined city before they could give chase.
Rob: Raiders will always auto-attack, even if you've got negative Karma.
Brad: When you got to Denton you discovered that the ranch, like all the other nearby dwellings, had been reduced to a heap of broken bricks and shattered timbers. The sight greatly upset your aunt, and Uncle Jonas felt it better not to stop but to continue overland to McKinney. It was easy to find where the Ewells lived, for their ranch was the only place in town that was still standing. See, I would class that as suspicious.
Rob: Yeah, it is a bit isn't it?
Brad: It looked more like an old frontier post than a ranch, with its fortified perimeter wall, lookout posts and stake-filled moat. But, after your brush with the citizens of Fort Worth, it was easy to understand the need for these defences. "Pop" Ewell, the seventy-year-old grandfather of the Ewell family, was the leader of this small colony of survivors; it was he who had urged Uncle Jonas to join them when they had first made radio contact. The colony numbered less than a dozen at the time of your arrival, yet as the airwaves became clearer, soon this number had more than doubled to twenty-five.
Pop Ewell: That's technically more than doubling. I know my trade descriptions act.
Rob: I'd wager that like most people who claim to know the trade descriptions act, he has no fucking idea.
Brad: If you've ever worked in retail - even for an hour - you can own most people. With my fave still being "If it's labelled cheaper than it should be, they have to let you have it at that price!"
Rob: Yeah, that's a fun one.
"This Xbox is priced at £1.99..."
"Yeah, but the sticker's very obviously been tampered with. The clue is that it says Colgate Extra-Whitening."

Brad: It was decided that a name was needed to identify the settlement. The name "Dallas Colony One" was adopted - "DC1" for short - and from that day on everyone worked hard to make DC1 a secure haven for those seeking refuge from the hostile wastelands and marauding city gangs. "Cutter" Jacks was one such refugee. Before the holocaust he had been chief mechanic at the International Grand Prix Circuit near Lake Dallas, and his incredible skill and knowledge of engines was soon to prove invaluable to the colony. He taught you how to drive, and from a pile of old wrecks that you helped him salvage from the circuit he built you a powerful, customised car. You used it to patrol the highways north of the city, keeping a lookout for gangs of city punks who frequently mounted raids to steal of destroy DC1's supplies.
"Cutter" also taught you to shoot, and it was your prowess with a gun and your skill behind the wheel that was to earn you the begrudging respect of your enemies who took to calling you Freeway Warrior!
Rob: That was just backstory?
Brad: We're still on the backstory. I did warn you.
Rob: Fucking hell.
Brad: The whole adventure runs over four books, dude.
Rob: I wouldn't mind so much, but the problem with these books is that the first action I take could kill me.
Brad: When "Worst Case Scenario = Hilarious"...You can't moan, really.
Six months after you arrived at DC1, the colony was faced with a major crisis. A heat wave was causing a drought that threatened to destroy the food supply. Crops were failing and the colony's artesian well - its only source of uncontaminated water - was beginning to dry up. The drought was also provoking more attacks from the city punks who were desperate for food and water.
Rob: This sounds almost exactly like the plot to Fallout 2.
Brad: And Mad Max.
Rob: That too.
Brad: Their common need united them and they posed a very real threat to the security of DC1. It was the last day of May 2020 when Pop Ewell made radio contact with another colony who were based in the city of Big Spring, 300 miles west of McKinney.
Rob: Right, Tina Turner is going on then.
Brad: She does, yeah...

Rob: If we're playing through Mad Max, I'm doing so listening to Thunderdome.
Brad: I'm on Cannibal Corpse for no reason other than if you're going to listen to Death Metal, it might as well be the band that's best at it.
It appeared that their situation was completely the reverse of DC1's: they had plenty of food and water but they were desperately short of fuel. They told of their contact with the survivors in Tucson, Arizona, who were also without fuel. The Tucson colony reported that the territories west of the Sierra Nevada mountains had been spared the worst effects of the radioactive blizzards that had devastated the rest of the country and, miraculously, much of southern California was still widely populated. It had survived the last eight years virtually intact. When you heard the news you could hardly believe your ears.
Rob: Lucky bastards!
Brad: Perhaps your family were alive! You might be reunited after all! Pop Ewell called for a meeting to decide how best to deal with the crisis now facing DC1. Everyone agreed that to stay at McKinney would lead to eventual death, either slowly from starvation or suddenly at the hands of the murderous city gangs.
Rob: Totally.
Brad: The only option open to DC1 was to try to reach California: only there lay any real hope for the future of the colony. Your decision was relayed to the survivors at Big Spring and a deal was struck to rendezvous with them as soon as possible. DC1 would join up with the Tucson colony for the final journey to California. Preparations began almost immediately.
Rob: Sounds sensible, unless they're mental.
Brad: Morale was so high that a heady sense of adventure and optimism enveloped everyone. Few guessed just how fraught with danger the journey would be.
After a week of careful preparation, the colony is ready to begin the long trek to Big Spring. Three vehicles have been picked up to make the convoy: the school bus, your customised roadster...The BragWagon...and a gasoline tanker that was salvaged from an old drilling site nearby Greenville.
Brag: Heh. We should call this thing "KITT".
Cutter: Hah! This on-board computer is better than KITT, my boy! this is the Micro-Chip Single-Processor Intuitive Network/Driver Liaison Engine!
Brag: Hunh. So...what do I call it?
Cutter: I've found that it answers to "Douche".

Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone) directs and stars in The Town, available to own on DVD and an action-packed Blu-ray Triple Play (loaded with extended cut and extra features), on Monday 31st January.

Can’t wait that long...Then you can pre-order yourself a copy here

As he plans a job that could result in his gang’s biggest score ever, a long-time thief plans a way out of the life and the town while dodging the FBI agent looking to bring him and his bank-robbing crew down. In addition to heading an electrifying cast, Ben Affleck also directed and co-wrote this suspenseful, critically-acclaimed crime thriller that unfolds — and often explodes — across gritty Boston locations. Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlewaite and Chris Cooper also star.

To celebrate the release of The Town on DVD & Blu-ray, we’re giving you the chance to win a bumper stash of merchandise - the winner will receive a jacket, bag, t-shirt and coaster and five runners-up will receive a t-shirt and coaster each.

For your chance of winning just answer the following question…

Ben Affleck made his directorial debut with which film?

a. Good Will Hunting
b. Gone Baby Gone
c. Mystic River

For your chance of winning, send your answer, name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 28th January, making sure to put "The Town" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive the top prize, with five runners up receiving a t-shirt and coaster each!

Don't forget to put "The Town" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

© 2011 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved