Author Archives: ward

Doctor Who 50 Years trailer

Doctor Who 50 years

Doctor Who 50 years

I’m quite excited. The Doctor Who 50 Years trailer is here and it looks cool. It looks even cooler because I am 41 and have watched Doctor Who my entire life so I’m familiar with most of the Doctors. But it should still be fun even if you are quite new to the whole thing. If you are utterly new then I’m afraid it will just be baffling but stick with it, it’s mostly a brilliant show.

The trailer doesn’t actually show all that much except for shots of all the old Doctors with a bit of voice over. Clearly, I’m easily impressed. Enjoy.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us

The Last of Us

I’m afraid I am going to be yet another reviewer fawning over Naughty Dog’s latest work of utter awesomeness. The Last of Us is absolutely brilliant. Not entirely flawless. But brilliant nonetheless.

Here’s the story. A virus infects the world and makes everyone turn angrily batshit. The game starts with a father and his daughter chilling out at home when the virus hits. This is really well done. You initially play as the daughter and are basically just wandering around getting scared by the news, then an explosion outside, then the neighbour going psycho and getting killed by your dad, and then a chase outside where the roads are full of panicking people and infected and carnage and… well… exciting stuff happens. Shit goes down and you get really involved with the characters and the story from the start.

Then The Last of Us skips 20 years ahead and you’re the dad, Joel, who is a smuggler in the quarantine/military zone of Boston. Joel and his partner take on a job to smuggle a 14 year old girl called Ellie to a group of rebel types. Things predictably turn unpredictable and Joel and Ellie end up having to cross a post apocalyptic America that is full of bandits, psychopaths and infected mutants. I won’t say any more as part of the joy of the game is the way the story unfolds and some of the events and scenes on their journey are pure genius.

Post Apocalyptic prettiness

Post Apocalyptic prettiness

Like Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, The Last of Us is a superbly crafted game with an engrossing story, great characters, and superb game dynamics. It is also ever so pretty. This is a more serious game than Uncharted though and a hell of a lot darker in tone. Think The Road as opposed to Indiana Jones. Some parts are just downright fucked up.

You generally spend the time either sneaking around or shooting the crap out of everything. Due to a lack of resources, you normally end up doing a mixture of the two. The game dynamics, fighting, weapon handling and so on are brilliant. If one way causes you to die instantly (which happens a lot) you are constantly forced to re-evaluate your tactics. Which is a good thing. The way the weapons fire, the levelling system, the ability to upgrade weapons and make new ones are done flawlessly and are intuitive. This is a well made game.

the-last-of-us-shot-oneMy only gripe would be that the AI can be a bit dumb sometimes. It’s also quite predictable. Don’t get me wrong. It is easily as good as other games, its just that the bar has been raised so high by the rest of The Last of Us that anything short of near perfect is a slight let down. You may not even notice.

The Last of Us is one of the best games I have ever played. I still occasionally daydream about the world and the characters and suddenly find myself trying to remember the name of the series or book or film where ‘that thing’ happened that was really cool and then remember it was this game. As they did with Uncharted (which are all also the best games I have played) The Last of Us is a finely crafted piece of interactive entertainment. It is yet another example of why I pity those who love a good story – be it book, TV show, movie, comic, etc – but don’t play modern games. Interactive storytelling, when done well, can tell a story in a new and incredibly absorbing way. The Last of Us cannot be recommended enough.

Here is a trailer just to give you a taster of the character dynamic and the the sort of dark survival stuff you can expect. Enjoy.

Keloid Short Film

KELOID-Short-FilmThe trailer for Keloid came out a couple of years ago and it has taken what feels like near-forever to finally see this short completed. I was concerned that the robots might have actually risen by the time it came out.

If you like mechanoids shooting the crap out of each other in a cool non-transformers way then you will love Keloid. It’s goddam mecha-awesome quite frankly and should be made into a full length film NOW. As it is, it still feels like a trailer to a film I want to see (apparently that now looks to be on the cards). In my opinion, which is a weighty one, the director should just make the film of the brilliant Robopocalypse book. There is a scene of an interrogation in Keloid that reminded me of Robopocalypse (apologies if you haven’t read it – there may or may not be an interrogation scene).

I should warn you that it isn’t a short film in that it has a satisfying narrative arc. Keloid just shows a glimpse of what could be. It is also slightly confusing as to who is shooting at whom but that doesn’t matter when things look this nice. (Humans dress like Isaac Clarke, robots have gun shaped heads, and the are mannequins that erm… do stuff like talk and look creepy.)

Anyway, without further waffle, I give you Keloid. (By the way, be careful if you want to investigate Keloid more – it is also a skin disease as I found out to my own horror.)

Sizes of Scifi Spaceships

I’m not sure why I put “Scifi” in the title there. A comparison of our human space vehicles would be frankly pretty sad.

But I found this fantastic. If you are a science fiction fan you will know 70% or more of these ships. I’ve never been into Warhammer but their vessels look awesome. This has all given me a strange hankering to go and watch some early Lexx and the whole of Farscape all over again. I have provided a link as the image is colossal! Enjoy.

size_comparison___science_fiction_spaceships_by_dirkloechel-d6lfgdf.jpg

Thanks to http://dirkloechel.deviantart.com/art/Size-Comparison-Science-Fiction-spaceships-398790051 for this!

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

I’m a huge Vonnegut fan. I’m an even bigger Douglas Adams fan. So when Mrs Scifiward read The Sirens of Titan and asked me why I hadn’t read it if I like Vonnegut, I just replied that I hadn’t quite got round to it as I’d heard it wasn’t one of his best. (Which is a crap reason, I’ll admit.) When she mentioned it was in a similar mood to Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, my interest was finally peaked enough to give it a go. And I’m glad I did.

Here’s the story:

An incredibly rich man called Winston Niles Rumfoord builds his own spaceship and, with his dog Kazak, flies into space. Unfortunately he flies into something called a “chrono-synclastic infundibulum” which converts him and his hound into pure energy. This energy is in the form of a spiral that stretches from the Sun to the star Betelguese. The Earth intersects this spiral every 59 days and consequently Rumfoord and Kazak materialise for 1 hour every couple of months. They also appear on Mars and Titan. While this sucks for Rumfoord, he does have the added bonus of knowing everything that has ever happened and will happen.

Cue the protagonist – one Malachi Constant. Constant is the world’s richest and luckiest man. He is also a massively shallow hedonist. Rumfoord manipulates Constant into an epic journey from the Earth to Mars to the caves of Mercury and finally to the moon Titan. It’s a pretty shitty journey but it changes Constant and helps make the world a better place.

As I had heard The Sirens of Titan isn’t one of Vonnegut’s best books but it is still a bloody good one. Much, much better than I thought would be. It is, as Mrs Scifiward said, reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s – albeit a precursor to it. There are a ton of brilliant ideas and funny asides. The invention of a religion that follows God the Utterly Indifferent is a good example of the sort of humour coupled with heavy doses of nihilism that pervade the novel. The bleak theme that everything is pointless and merely ‘a series of accidents’ is counterbalanced by wit, inventiveness and Vonnegut’s spare but brilliant prose.

If you are a fan of Vonnegut and Adams I would be very surprised if you didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did. I felt kind of bad constantly linking the two until I consulted Wikepedia and found the following quote. With which I shall leave you. To conclude: I thoroughly enjoyed The Sirens of Titan. Now over to Mr Adams.

Sirens of Titan is just one of those books – you read it through the first time and you think it’s very loosely, casually written. You think the fact that everything suddenly makes such good sense at the end is almost accidental. And then you read it a few more times, simultaneously finding out more about writing yourself, and you realize what an absolute tour de force it was, making something as beautifully honed as that appear so casual.”
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Sleepy Hollow TV show

Sleepy Hollow TV show

Sleepy Hollow TV show

I was dubious about this I’ll admit. The film of “Sleepy Hollow” was, well, ok. Good work by Mr Depp and Mr Welken. Like a lot of Tim Burton films I thoroughly enjoyed it while I was actually watching it but afterward – meh. So now there is a TV show. The thing is, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ actually looks like it might be fun. In a daft and entertaining way.

Basically, Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman are brought forward in time or frozen or something, and find themselves in modern day Sleepy Hollow. I’m not sure how this could possibly pan out to something that will span a few series’ worth of action but whack in a bit of time travel and headless axe action, and fuck it, I’m sold. In the trailer they mention that the Headless Horseman is “Death” of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse fame, so maybe they will end up with three more mounted bad guys. I’m quite looking forward to this now. It probably helps that the trailer is insanely entertainingly fun.

Check it out:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming! It’s official. I just saw a trailer for it before the Simpsons about 20 minutes ago. Our American chums will get it on the 24th of September and we will get in on the 27th on Channel 4. Which means I can watch it in HD and definitely won’t be downloading it on the 24th the moment it appears. Definitely won’t.

In case you didn’t know, Agents of SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) are elite lads and lasses who work for a top secret agency that investigates slightly weird shit. They also exist in the same world as the Avengers so there will be some cool things to investigate. Curiously, the series starts after the events of the Avenger’s film yet features Agent Coulson who died. But as I mentioned, this is a world with the Incredible Hulk in it, so I’m sure there’s a way round that problem.

I can’t wait for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. It’s made by Joss Whedon who made Buffy, Firefly, and the Avengers movie. All of which were superb. Even Dollhouse was pretty watchable. So bring on the 27th (or the 24th)!

Here’s a trailer:

Star Trek Continues

Star Trek Continues

Star Trek Continues

You know when you hear the words ‘fan made’ and you think, ‘It’s great that people care and put lots of effort into this, but it’s probably going to be pretty crap.’ Well think that no more you miserable cynic. Just for this particular instance anyway. Because here is a fan made episode of Star Trek continuing on from the original series and it’s pretty damn good. I want to see more! As the original Star Trek series was a five year mission and we only saw three of that, I expect at least two years’ worth of stuff.

It even has Grant Imahara from Mythbusters and Christopher Doohan (son of James Doohan – the original Scotty.) This is actually a follow on episode from one of the original Star Trek episodes – ‘Who Mourns for Adonais’. The guy who plays Apollo is the same actor from the original episode. I’m not sure if the series will continue like this, or even continue at all but I’m a fan of this fan made fiction.

Here is their website: http://www.startrekcontinues.com/

Please do Firefly next.

Here is the episode. Enjoy.

Google Street View discovers TARDIS

I live in modern day London. Which, as any fan of Doctor Who will know (based on how often he visits), is the Doctor’s favourite time and place in the whole universe. It’s that great here.

As the TARDIS is broken, it no longer camoflages itself properly and consequently sticks out a bit when parked. So when a passing Google van went down a London road near Earl’s Court tube and spotted the TARDIS, the eagle eyed google nerds jumped out of the Google car and took their machine inside. (This sequence of events is a guess.)

The results can be seen if you click here: http://goo.gl/maps/7av8q. Click on the double arrows at the bottom of the screen pointing at the TARDIS. Enjoy.

Ender’s Game – boycott or not?

Ender’s Game

The new trailer for Ender’s Game is here and it looks bloody epic and brilliant (see bottom of page if you can’t be bothered to read all that follows). Literally three people have asked me about whether I am going to boycott the film because the author of the original books is anti-gay. The answer is no, because that’s dumb. Neither the book nor the film (apparently) have any homophobic messages. The argument is that you will be putting money into Card’s pocket also holds true for all the other poor bastards who worked on the film who aren’t anti-anything. Statistically quite a lot of the people involved in Ender’s Game movie (and the publishing house) will be gay too. Generally, we media types are a liberal mixed bunch who are tolerant and thoroughly nice people. Except for Fox News obviously. Who cares about sexuality when looking at a film that doesn’t even raise the issue?

Also, do people vet everyone involved in every film? Do they boycott films based on books where the author turned out to be a bit racist decades ago? What if they were alive 100 years ago, were anti-semitic, wrote a book that had nothing to do with anti-semitism, then had a change of heart and were no longer anti-semitic. Do you boycott that? Huh? Did you ever read Tintin in the Congo and then boycott the new Tintin films for being a bit stereotypical and racist? Ian Fleming  was quite sexist. Heinlein could be a bit fascist. Arthur C. Clarke could (allegedly) be a bit pedo. Have you thrown out your copy of 2001? I think you would be hard pressed to find a movie that didn’t have a crew member with a slightly or even highly questionable opinions. But you would also be hard pressed to find a film crew that didn’t contain several members of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community who were simply trying to make a living in the movie business.

As long as the film/book doesn’t contain hateful messages then it’s ok. As long as a book/film isn’t funding a neo-nazi group or the KKK or the Catholic Church or something then I’m alright with it. A ridiculous amount of people are involved in making any film and they will be a mix of all sorts. I will still watch Mad Max 2 with glee even though Mad Mel will be getting some of the cash.

Quite a few high profile members of the gay community agree and are against the boycott of Ender’s Game. This is from the Independent:

‘Although the online campaign has gathered thousands of signatures, some high-profile LGBT figures have called the boycott “misguided”. Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for writing the biopic Milk based on gay rights activist Harvey Milk, said: “Boycotting a movie made by 99 per cent LGBT equality folks in an LGBT equality industry is a waste of our collective energy.”’ (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/enders-game-faces-backlash-over-author-orson-scott-cardsantigay-views-8708373.html)

That’s my view anyway and I’m as tolerant as they come. This is about Science Fiction and storytelling and spaceships exploding. Plus, the trailer for Ender’s Game looks fucking awesome.