Archive for November, 2011

Thor – It’s Hammer Time…

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

thor-posterKenneth Branagh – director of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost and… er… Thor.

It is perhaps unfair to pigeonhole Mr. Branagh, and he has plenty of movie titles to his name, but his work in performing and directing Shakespeare has dominated his career, so his selection for a Marvel Comics adaptation that has been a long time coming certainly baffled many. But then they gave the Hulk job to Ang Lee, a man known for directing Sense and Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet, and that worked out great.

No wait, that’s not right. Oh dear.

Moving on, Thor is one of the classic comic characters, but has been denied even a single big screen treatment before this effort, whilst Batman is awaiting his seventh Hollywood outing, Superman gets his sixth in 2013 and Spider-Man is chasing the pack with number four.

In all fairness, the man uses a big hammer as his weapon of choice, and it just isn’t as obviously cool as an array of Bat Gadgets, bullet- beating speed or the ability to sling spider-webbing from your wrists. Still, Thor is actually based on the Norse mythological God of the same name, and once you bring deities in, you can have plenty of fun with a big budget.

Branagh’s movie adaptation of Thor sees the eponymous character (played by Chis Hemsworth) banished from the Godly realm of Asgard by his all-conquering uber-powerful father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). He is slapped with this punishment when his rash actions bring about the threat of war with the neighbouring Frost Giants of Jotunheim. He was all set to be handed the title of King, but felt the urge to start a ruckus due to an overabundance of machismo.

His scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) takes the opportunity to bring about his own plans for ruling the kingdom, once Odin suffers some kind of random collapse. Meanwhile, a disgruntled Thor finds himself landing on Earth with the commoners, much to his displeasure, but his father Odin was kind enough to send his big beast of a hammer, called Mjolnir for some reason, along with him. In a little bit of Sword in the Stone-type drama, Thor will only be able to wield this weapon and its power once he is worthy.

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Skyrim – Rock and Scroll

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

skyrim

Bethesda’s latest instalment in the Elder Scrolls saga has arrived, and Skyrim sets this new story around 200 years after the events of predecessor Oblivion. You play one of the Dragonborn; a rare occurrence of a human with the soul of a dragon, that only appears whenever the world is in danger.

So begins your adventure of dragon-slaying, dungeon-crawling, bandit-beating fun that will take you across a map of epic proportions. From the frozen peaks of the mountains, to the luscious greenery that adorns the forests, every corner of the world that is Skyrim feels unique, boasting breathtaking detail and a mind-bending array of intricate touches.
The hundreds, if not thousands, of dungeons, ruins and tombs that fill the world of Skyrim create a grand and immersive setting. Once you’ve completed one dungeon, there always seems to be another to conquer, and each has its own original aesthetic. The gameplay also involves a new, convenient mechanism which means that you will always be sent to places you haven’t already visited, so you will always be encountering new locations and dungeons.

Clearly, dungeons are only one aspect of this truly open-world experience. Within this world you are able to create your own weapons and armour, and adorn your bodily defence with special enchantments to improve your abilities. You can mix potions to strengthen you and your skills or weaken your enemies, as well as hunt animals for the skins and meat to create food with healing properties and even join a number of guilds to perform special tasks. The game’s progression, and that of your character, appears infinite.

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Lovefilm improves pay monthly package

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

lovefilm1Leading online movie rental service Lovefilm has adjusted one of its popular subscriptions to give customers better value for money for DVD rental. The Film Lovers pay monthly plans have been altered to allow film fanatics two or three discs at home at the same time, instead of just one or two, without any change in the prices.

The Unlimited packages from Lovefilm give customers as many movies as they want over the course of each month, but each package differs in terms of the number of discs that can be rented at one time. The packages have now been streamlined so there are only two variations.

Customers can now have either two discs at home or three, with the one disc deal being removed, and those that originally had the one disc deal get the extra film at home without any change to their monthly fee.

Along with the increasingly popular home rental service, Lovefilm will continue to offer online movie streaming through Lovefilm Player, with access and inclusive films dependent on a customer’s chosen package.

Lovefilm also offers Pay As You Go movie packages, which let customers buy credits for renting at home as and when they choose, with no monthly subscription to pay.

Lovefilm currently has a library of over 70,000 titles, with both DVD and Blu-ray formats available.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

pirates-of-the-carribean-4-poster1Anyone who claims to be able to resist Captain Jack’s inimitable mix of swagger, swordsmanship, salamander and anti-sobriety must be off their Jolly Roger. It is a testament to the character and the actor that Jack ‘Sparrah’ can almost single-handedly pull this franchise through some serious scriptwriting issues and the excruciating presence of Orlando Bloom’s William Turner.

It is hard to believe that Johnny Depp nearly walked because the execs at Disney thought he had gone mad when they saw early footage of his daft pirate. The series would have experienced a short drop and a sudden stop had Sparrow been sacrificed, or played straight by a less creative and more submissive actor.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a refreshing surprise blockbuster, whilst follow-up Dead Man’s Chest had some great moments but got a bit tangled in its own fishing net. The second part of that story, and third entry in the series, At World’s End, also had some nice set-pieces but the story was contrived and needlessly complex thanks to the writers’ attempts to have everybody double-cross each other to the point of storytelling redundancy. All the way through, Jack Sparrow was great, thankfully.

A wise move, then, to give Jack a new stand-alone story without the irksome William Turner or his posh tomboy squeeze Katherine Swann. The general plan of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was to reduce the needless complexity, keep up the laughs and action and give Sparrow plenty of screen time. Too much of a good thing could be bad, but never with Jack… sorry, Captain Jack.

Loosely (very loosely) based on a novel called On Stranger Tides, this film sees Jack in search of the Fountain of Youth, with the Spanish and King George II also keen on the prize that would see skincare products wiped off the face of the Earth. King George II sends his surprise employee Captain Hector Barbossa, once again played by the wonderful Geoffrey Rush, on an expedition to beat the Spanish to the Fountain. In general, everyone wants to get to the Fountain, but there is a little more to this legendary elixir of life than meets the eye-patch.

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