Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley Review

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s first graphic novel Lost at Sea was quite a disappointment to me. I’m a big fan of O’Malley as an author, Scott Pilgrim is obviously a hipsters bible and his most recent effort Seconds is brilliant in its time travelling philosophy. But while Lost at Sea has the same charm as those two novels which comes from O’Malley’s very distinctive and charming art style, the story for me felt too soppy with little real substance.

Lost at Sea is a coming-of-age romantic drama about an 18-year old girl named Raleigh. The story follows Raleigh on a road trip back home to Vancouver with 4 school friends she barely knows after visiting her boyfriend in California. During this trip she has an existential crisis believing her soul is trapped in the form of  a cat.

There is some quality to the story and moments that I resonated with but overall I got the sense that O’Malley was trying to hard to be emotionally moving. It all felt a bit too over the top for me. Raleigh examinations of herself feel genuine but bar that it didn’t feel anything other than typical teenage awakening. She’s becoming aware of herself in love and in independence but that’s not really interesting or unique enough. The questions she asks are questions most teenagers will ask at that age, but being that it is long in the past for me it just tended to become monotonous and droning.

We don’t really get long enough to particularly like Raleigh or her accomplices on this road trip so I definitely feel that had an effort on my ability to empathise with her. The humour in the novel was also hit and miss for me which was unexpected from an O’Malley novel.

Overall it feels very much like this was a first draft. A good first attempt and a glimpse at what was to come but nothing more than that. If you haven’t read it you aren’t missing out so I’d only recommend for those that are diehard fans or for those that really like O’Malley’s artistic style.

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Black Mass Review

A stylised showcase of violence

Black Mass is interesting. I think that’s the word that perfectly sums up the film. The story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger and his rise to crime kingpin of Boston captures and keeps your attention throughout the film though the narrative structure lets down this otherwise excellent film.

Johnny Depp is absolutely terrifying in the lead role. His performance is an absolutely masterclass and every minute he’s on-screen he is the focus of the attention. The film has you constantly attempting to read him. Read the subtle clues in his behaviour, trying to predict that moment that his nature changes and he explodes into a barrage of violence. The performance of his co-stars are also excellent with Rory Cochrane as Bulger’s second in command, Steve Flemmi, being the stand out for me.

The violence in the film is visceral and hard to watch at times. The reality of the story and the performances really bring this home and as the credit wash over you I wouldn’t be surprised to see many feeling sick. A big compliment for the film is that it feels real, the portrayal of the events feels accurate and has weight too it. Unfortunately I feel like that is the films downfall as well. It feels more like a documentary then a piece of entertainment. There is very few redeeming characters in the film, no ‘good guys’ just evil men, corruption, crime, greed and not much of anything else.

The film struggles with its pacing and this definitely lets it down. At times it’s hard to follow, there’s no clear building of intensity, the relationship between Bulgar and childhood friend and FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) is disjointed, the relationship shifts between fearful complaince and willing support very quickly and escalates without any real explanation. Ultimately their relationship is underdeveloped. Many aspects of the film felt underdeveloped and it leaves you slightly confused about how this monster was wrought.

One of the things particularly under explored was Bulgar’s mental state. The film hints at Bulgar’s time in prison and his participation in the MK-Ultra program where Bulgar was subjected to experiements with LSD by the CIA in their research on mind-control but it is a small aside. It’d probably take another three hours to explore that time in bulgar’s life but I’d have still liked to see more time spent exploring the potential effects this (and other things like the death of his child) had on Bulgar’s psychology.

In the end though the story is simply too interesting to let the weaknesses of the narrative distract. You’ll leave wanting to know more about this fascinating psychopath.

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Fallout 4: Becoming the Silver Shroud

I’ve played around 20 hours of Fallout 4 and not yet discovered that moment that goes down in legend. The finding a value full of Gary’s or a passionate talking tree. I’m really loving the game but I still felt I was missing that key moment. Well I’m glad to say I finally found that moment as I stepped into the shoes of the Silver Shroud

It all started when I made my way into a quaint little village called Goodneighbour. After almost being extorted and witnessing a brutal murder I found my way towards the ‘Memory Den’. You’ll go there for the excellent main quest ‘Dangerous Minds’ but if you happen to stray off the beaten path into a small room on the right hands side of the hall you might run into a delightful little ghoul fellow by the name of Kent Connolly.

Two things may strike you about Kent. 1. His love for the fictional superhero the Silver Shroud and 2. He appears to be somewhat “special”. His passion for the Silver Shroud immediately endeared Kent to me and I was more than happy to accept his request of me to go and fetch the legendary Silver Shroud costume from within the Dorito-encrusted depths of ‘Hubris Comics’. I rather naively felt this would be a quick fetch and deliver quest so I felt no anxiety in hopping on my merry way.

After fighting through a horde of garish ghouls and one very menacing glowing one I

Faithful Kent - look at him in his lovely suit and hat affair

Faithful Kent – look at him in his lovely suit and hat affair

retrieved the fabled costume and returned to wee Kent (Not before experimenting with the sights and sound of the stage I found in Hubris Comics. Boy was it a sight to behold).

Only upon talking to Kent did I realise that my support for him would not end there. To my horror I found myself agreeing to take up the mantle of the Silver Shroud and with my faithful companion Kent, assisting me by radio, I brought shift justice to the streets of Goodneighbour. Unfortunately this took the form of some brutal vigilante murders, which the comics never truly seem to portray.

For me and Kent this lead us down a very deep tunnel of mass murder unfitting of the name of the Silver Shroud. This eventually culminated in poor Kent’s kidnapping. I vowed that after my rescue of Kent I would never again put on this harrowed cape.

To my disappointment I wasn’t actually able to save poor Kent, as when I stormed into the room in which he was held, he was almost instantly ragdolled by a hail of bullets I could do little about. I did however proceed to take powerful revenge and a handy bit of looting before putting one of my most memorable moments in gaming behind me…

What has been your favourite Fallout 4 moment so far? Let me know in the comments down below

 

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Short thoughts 6: Fallout 4, Black Ops 3 and 100 Years of Solitude

It’s been about a week since my last post, which is unusual for me as I try to get a least 3 pieces of content out a week. I do apologise for this break and I would like to say it was because I was swimming with sharks in Sri Lanka (Do they have sharks in Sri Lanka?) or providing George Clooney with fashion advice, but the reality is that I’ve gotten too stuck into games. I’ve done so much playing that I haven’t found time to think, nevermind write. Anyway enough rambling, here is a couple of items that have flooded my mind this past week.

Fallout 4

The addiction is real. I’ve waited a good 5 years for this game. I liked Skyrim a lot, but I’m always a Fallout guy. I prefer the world, the characters and the game as a whole. As soon as I got the game I was right back where I wanted to be. Maybe this is a complaint for some, but for me Bethesda have done brilliantly with Fallout 4. It is more of the same with just enough fresh ideas to discover new things on every session.

Dogmeat is still my best friend, the feral ghouls still freak me out till no end, my God, it is just so great to be back. War… War never changes.

Black Op 3

I deliberated a long time over getting this game. I still like COD a lot, but I find myself playing the latest editions less and less every year. I got it in the end and I am glad I did because I know I’ll get at least 20 hours out of it, which is worth the admission. I’ve having quite a lot of fun with the wall running mechanics and a Treyarch Zombie mode will always keep me coming back.

I also really like the little unlockables they add each year. With the addition of the character loadouts this year, they’ve added another level of customization which I much prefer to Advanced Warefare’s style. COD for me is still on a downward spiral but there’s still life in the old dog yet.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

When I haven’t been glued to the PS4, I actually managed to get a bit of reading done. This week I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. A seminal piece and really a fantastic magic realism novel. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with magic realism. On the one hand it produces some of the most beautiful imagery in literature and on the other it sure does make a novel difficult to follow. This is definitely the case for One Hundred Years of Solitude (especially because a lot of the characters share names in the novel) but I did feel it was easier to intake than some of its contemporaries.

The first half of the novel is some of the most engrossing reading I’ve ever done, though I did feel it lost some of its steam the further down the family line you went. But there is nothing out there quite like it, so it is definitely recommended.

That’s all for today? Have you played Fallout 4 or Black Ops 3? Perhaps you’ve read 100 Years of Solitude? Let me know in the comments down below!

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Walking Dead: S6E4 Here’s not here – My Thoughts (Spoilers)

I typically don’t like a flashback episode. Especially in The Walking Dead. I want fast relevant action. Mostly I don’t usually favour episodes without Rick as I feel like that is a sign that true game changing action isn’t going to take place.

This was the case with Season 6 Episode 4 ‘Here’s not here’ and yet I still came away thinking that it was one of the best episodes of Walking Dead that I have seen.

This flashback episode follows Morgan and explains how he came to be reasonably sane again after nearly biting Rick’s head off in Season 3. Morgan is not a character I necessarily liked, to me he was nothing more than a slightly frustrating badass. His craziness annoyed me because I knew he could be valuable and then his pacifism annoyed me because we’ve seen where that style of life leads in The Walking Dead Universe.

Morgan and Eastmen doing their best Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san impression

Morgan and Eastmen doing their best Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san impression

To be fair to Morgan he’s never really been given that much screen time. Now that he has, in this episode, I’ve become really endeared to him. One of the main reasons I attribute this to, and one of the main reasons this episode was so successful was because of the flawless performance of Lennie James’ (Morgan) co-star and guest actor John Carroll Lynch who played Morgan’s mentor of sorts Eastmen.

Eastmen’s painful soliloquy on the murder of his daughter and wife and his consequential revenge was one of the most poignant moment in the entire show and most memorable as well. It was honestly The Walking Dead at its philosophical best, when two strangers come together, when simple things become life changing and when heartbreak strikes with the blink of an eye.

You come out seeing that there is a rhyme to Morgan’s reason and now his badassness with his stick of awesomeness has far more weight behind it.

For next week I’m not particularly excited, I think they’re stuck stalling a little bit, pushing the confrontation with The Wolves for the mid-season finale, which is a little frustrating but I’m going to withhold judgement until I actually get to see it.

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5 of the best gaming trailers

Gaming adverts can be very hit and miss. If done right they can be unforgettable and leave you desperate to play the game. If done wrong they can leave you frustrated and put you off ever playing the game. There’s nothing worse than a terrible bit of CGI that tells you nothing about the how the game plays and looks like a film you’d find in the bargain bucket of Poundland.

Halo 3 – Believe Ad

Really Microsoft didn’t need to put any advertising budget into this beast. But what they did with the money paid off big. The trailer is absolutely genius. It really creates a beautiful rendition of war. At the climax of the trailer, the scene comes to life with movement from the Chief, before a quick cut to the tagline ‘Believe.’ It’s an absolutely excellent ending because it leaves you wanting more. It makes you want to jump in. They’ve clearly created the stage, they just need the director…

The use of Chopin’s ‘Raindrop’ is a masterful choice as well. It’s an intense composition that builds and builds and matches the trailer beat for beat.

Gears of War – Mad World

What’s really impressive about this trailer is it’s staying power. It would have been very easy to sell the ultra-violence; the chainsaw, the head stomps, throw a Moutain Dew somewhere in there but Epic choose not to. They highlighted the sombre aspect of Gears of War, used the grey for good. There’s depth in Gears and I strongly believe one of the reasons that the series has been so successful is because they’ve pushed it. War, in any form, isn’t all fun and games and this trailer really helps to reinforce that message. There’s a great sense of loss in the trailer that’s emphasised by Gary Jules’ ‘Mad World’ that dulls the other sounds and senses out.

GTA 4 – UK TV Ad

What’s so impressive about this is the fact that it doesn’t actually show Niko doing anything, and yet it manages to capture the scale and the manic, fun, unpredictability of the game. It’s short and sweet and tells you everything you need to know about the playground you about to happily lose 40 hours of your life to.

GTA V – The Official Trailer

The dialogue in this trailer is absolutely gorgeous. It sells you on the story and the characters completely, all in the 60 second it runs. With GTA 5, Rockstar put the emphasis on telling a complete story and it really pays off in this trailer where you get a taste of the 3 unique characters you are about to embody. GTA trailers always seem to radiate style and this is the peak of what they’ve produced artistically so far.

Fallout 3 – Teaser Trailer

What I like about this is the atmosphere it brilliantly creates. The sparking of the circuits in the jukebox, the faint sounds of gunfire, the slow panning out of the camera and finally the fading of tones of ‘I don’t want to set the world on fire’ by The Ink Spots. It creates a whirlwind of themes; loss, isolation, destruction and finally with the switch to the very imposing Brotherhood of Steel solider, power. In a very big way.

What are some of your favourite gaming trailers? Let me know in the comments down below.

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Max Richter – Sleep. The adult lulaby

I don’t know how many of you out there have heard of Max Richter, whose music has been featured in such films as Waltz with Bashir, Shutter Island and Prometheus but I am a massive fan of his. To me he is absolutely on the same level as Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Ennio Morricone and other people of that ilk. Richter’s music is always absolutely haunting and incredibly evocative. I don’t think anyone can match him on the levels of emotion his is able to produce consistently with his music.

Anyway, today I was very happy to come across his new album From Sleep which Richter has described as “my personal lullaby for a frenetic world.” I’m working my way through the album now but I can already say it is an absolutely magnificent piece of art. It’s not usual for an artist to want a listener to fall to sleep in the middle of their album, but that is Richter’s aim and he definitely succeeds. The music has a real calming affect and give a real sense of perspective to the audience.

Here’s one of the songs that I very much recommend you give a listen. Let me know what you make of it if you’re into classical music. Does it make you yawn?

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10 of the best TV comedy characters

These guys are guaranteed to get you rolling on the floor every time you switch on. You cannot beat a bit of comedy and I’ve watched my fair share over the years. Here’s my 10 favourite characters, in no particular order, who always have me in tears. (Note: No animations though, so your Cartman’s and Homer’s are for another list)

10. Maurice Moss (IT Crowd)

The lovable nerd with no common sense. Him and his best friend Roy (who could have easily been included on this list) are the epitome of awkward and there interactions with their boss Douglas Renham (and previous Denham Renham) are always brilliant.

Best Moment:

9. Michael Scott (The Office US)

Who wouldn’t want this guy for a boss? Yeah he’s terrible at his job and he’ll make you feel uncomfortable every day, but he cares about his workforce, which is all that matters really!

Best Moment:

8. JD (Scrubs)

JD and Turk have got to have the best bromance in all television history. Don’t know if I’d want them operating on me though.

Best Moment:

7. Bubbles (Trailer Park Boys)

Who’s got your belly? Bubbles, that’s who and there aren’t many other people who can have your belly erupting with laughter in the way Bubbles can

Best Moment:

6. Del Boy (Only Fools and Horses)

Genius before his time, if only Del Boy had access to the internet, he’d have made a million in a few months I’m sure.

Best Moment:

5. Fraser (Bad Education)

Banter

Best Moment:

4. Jim (Friday Night Dinner)

The nightmare neighbour. His love for Wilson is commendable though, despite the owner/pet roles being reversed pretty much.

3. Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

No one does cringe better than Larry David and what’s scary is it’s all believable! Larry is almost always right, but is invariably crushed anyway. Poor Larry

Best Moment:

2. G.O.B Bluth (Arrested Development)

All G.O.B tries to do is impress his family. Unfortunately that almost always ends up in him embarrassing himself. He’s a good magician though, he made a boat disappear!

1. Hal (Malcolm in the Middle)

Before he was running a successful meth business, he was raising his four crazy children. Probably good training

That’s my 10. What do you make of the list? Is there any characters I missed of? Let me know in the comments down below.

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 6 PS4 First-World Problems

The PS4. It’s big, beautiful, beast of a machine. It can do things that a 10 year old me would only thought possible in Star Wars. But alas I’m a creature of habit, and a lazy one at that. While somethings are amazing there’s always things I’ll find to complain about. Here are 5 First-World problems of being a PS4 gamer

  1. 500gb hard drive = not enough space.

Coming off the back of a 60gb PS3, I heard the news of a 500gb hard drive and I was overjoyed. ‘I’ll never fill that’ I naively thought. What stupid past me didn’t realise was that games would come with 40gb plus compulsory installs! That adds up to a grand total of about 10 games that I can have installed at any one time. That’s not a lot for a hoarder like me! I have a library of like 60 ps3 and xbox 360 games! There’s no where near enough room for that on the PS4! I don’t want to be deleting and reinstalling constantly! I have no room to download any games either! It’s like Sony doesn’t want my money!

2. Pad Battery Life

imagesOne thing that annoys me about the modern life we live in, is the fact that the people who make batteries (he says with complete authority) can’t seem to keep up with the fast-moving nature of technology. Seriously you only seem to get about 4 hours out of the PS4 pad before I’ve got to sit close to the screen like I’ve lost my glasses! Used to get like 3 days out of the PS2 pads.

3. CDs don’t work

I found this out recently, and as a man who still has a lot of CDs and listens to them a lot, this frustrates me. Sony have suddenly decided that CDs are the new VHS. This really annoys me because I did look forward to transferring my songs and getting a bit of a playlist going for a FIFA session. But Sony put a stop to that!

4. Everyone wants me to make an account

This one isn’t just for games but for seemingly everything these days. Everyone wants me to make an account or sign-up for this or that. Want to play Assassin’s Creed don’t forget your Uplay account! I’ll just pop onto FIFA, wait can’t forget my Origin account oh and don’t forget our terrible app! It’s too many accounts! I can’t keep track of it all. I spend more time making accounts then playing the actual game!

5. Online multiplayer killed the split screen star!

I get it! Online multiplayer is awesome! I can as easily be destroyed on Call of Duty by a 10 year old French kid as by his English equivalent. But don’t destroy the split screen market! Sometimes I don’t want to have to buy another PS4 and another TV to play a game with my girlfriend who shares a room with me. I’ve not suddenly inherited Brewsters Millions!

6. Updates updates!

Yes updates are brilliant. We no longer live in the age of being stuck with the game in the box. But on the flip side, I turn on my PS4: ‘Oh its got a 30 minute update’. Think I’ll play Dragon Age: ‘Oh its got a 4 hour update that means I’ll get to play it at 3am! Awesome!’ And yes I could play it without the update, but I have a OCD about playing something not updated. I’m sure I’d be the one to find the game breaking glitch. Not to mention these downloads take up more of my already limited hard drive space!

Have you noticed any First-World problems with your gaming platform of choice?

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Flashback: My 5 favourite childhood WWF/WWE Wrestlers.

I had a big wrestling obsession in my childhood and early teens. I had probably hundreds of videos and then DVDs when that became the format of choice and all the PS1 and 2 games. Watching Smackdown on a saturday morning was my routine. It was my childhood soap opera and I loved it. So I thought it would be worth it to go back in time and take a look at my 5 favourite wrestlers.

5. The Undertaker

The Dead Man, the American badass. That this guy is still going today is of constant amazement to me. He just consistently evolved with the game and was able to maintain a level of stellar performances that no one else was able to keep up with. His matches at Wrestlemania were always the highlight for me, waiting to see if someone could take his record. He was intimidation incarnate and so his feuds always had this air of intensity about them that kept me hooked.

4. Stone Cold Steve Austin

The icon of the attitude era. The ultimate anti-hero. His battles with Vince McMahon are legendary and form the greatest period that the WWF/E had ever seen and probably will ever see. You flicked on to see Austin just absolutely wreck everyone’s day, and you never left disappointed. He always had the upper hand, always one step ahead of McMahon. Austin and McMahon together pretty much destroyed WCW (the main competition at the time) and established a monopoly on wrestling that still lasts to this day.

3. Ric Flair

The Stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun! Ric Flair was just the king of cool. His in-ring mannerisms were downright hilarious, which definitely helped propel him and the sleazy bad-guy persona he often portrayed. You want to see him get slapped and thrown around, which makes you want to watch him. He did the perfect job and you couldn’t forget him.

2. Mick Foley / Mankind / Cactus Jack / Dude Love

The definitive split-personality, Mick Foley wore a lot of hats. Most of his characters were weirdo’s for sure. Particularly Mankind who had a look of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre about him. But what made him likeable was the fact that he came across as just a genuine, real guy. If you’ve read any of his books, which are excellent, you definitely get that impression. He’s just a guy that’s impossible to hate and he’s very funny to boot. Also Cactus Jack is a freaking badass.

1. The Rock

The jabroni beating, pie eating, trailblazing, eyebrow raising, this guy was simply best. Just oozing with talent and charisma, whether he was playing the hero or the villain, he was immensely watchable and I always found myself rooting for The Rock regardless of the side he was on. That he’s gone on to have an incredibly successful acting career shows you just how talented this guy is. He’s interviews always had me rolling on the floor laughing and he followed that up with a great performance in the ring. 

Honourable Mentions

  • Triple H
  • Jeff Hardy
  • Shane McMahon

So that’s the 5. Do you agree with my choices? Who were your favourite childhood wrestlers? Let me know in the comments down below.

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