Amazon Vine Freebies – December 2013

In the words of Nobby - ITTT’S CHRIIIIIIIIISSTMMAAAAAAAASSSSSS! Or at least, it was 7 months ago. Way back then, the Jolly Old Bearded Vine Man let me place my hands on his huge sack, and when I squeezed it, I got a face-full of treats! Look:

Weetos Metors:


Imagine licking space!

Alpen Porridge Raspberry and Apple Pot 60 g:

Like breakfast, but in a pot

Fat Gripz The Ultimate Arm Builder – Blue, Original:



Alpen Original 375 g:

Like breakfast, but breakfast!

July 24, 2014 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

Nintendo News Round-Up 7/13/14 – 7/19/14

It’s that time again, when us Nintendo fans look back at the week’s happenings and non-happenings. It has been a quiet week, with only a few expected announcements to get the fans chatting in the forums. I was hoping someone would capitalise on the traditional summer drought this year, but unfortunately no dice. No fighters, RPGs, action romps either.


Mario Kart Arcade: Happy news for any Western gamers who still frequent those relics of the 80s – The Arcade (note – I love Arcades and wish every town had several). Mario Kart DX is coming to Western Shores, and a handy, bizarre trailer has been released to highlight how different everything is. The game looks fun, and I’ll be sure to give it a bash once it actually comes to an Arcade near me.

Smash Bros: Another blast of information for the Smash Bros enthusiast, and more updates of the various up and coming expos where you can go for an early go on the game. Three more characters have been added to the roster, with Lucina and Robin from Fire Emblem and Captain Falcon from F-Zero ready for a bout of carnage.

Mario Miaow: Early morning cartoon fans ahoy! Cat Mario has his own new TV show, exclusive to Nintendo consoles, and even better – you don’t have to sneak downstairs on a Saturday morning to watch it – the first episode is available now.

Fatal Frame Returns: Fatal Frame, or Project Zero, is coming back to haunt your dreams and make you terrified of turning on your camera when the lights are out. The fifth game in the always excellent series will be coming to Japanese Wii U Gamers in September, but no news of a European or US release yet. Hopefully we’ll get a confirmation on the Western release soon, as Wii U owners are starved of horror games.


Sega: After last week’s news that Sega would not be bringing any titles to the VC, another spokesperson has appeared to say that while there are no immediate plans to release anything, the platform is not off the table.


YoKai Watch: The sequel has smashed records in Japan, selling 1.3 millions copies in a matter of days. The Japanese sure do love their little monsters – this is just the sort of game that could continue the revival of the 3DS in the West – it’s another in a long list which is ensuring the handheld’s domination in Japan.

July 20, 2014 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

Best Picture: 1963

Official Nominations: America America, Lillies Of The Field, Tom Jones, How The West Was Won, Cleopatra.1963′s Best Picture list is quite similar to the previous year’s category- a mix of epics on a previously unseen scale versus smaller character pieces. While the epic won in 62, Tony Richardson’s adaptation of Fielding’s Tom Jones charmed the panel this time round with its old style humour and modern techniques. Although it won the big prize, all eyes were on Cleopatra- one of the most expensive and expansive movies ever made, one which made an icon of its star, and one which remains huge today. My winner though is yet another John Ford epic Western- How The West Was Won, his last of any success. The ambition on display surpasses Cleopatra given that it covers not just the course of one woman’s life, but much of North American history. Its accurate portrayal of early frontier life, settlers, and the introduction of rail and beyond remains the benchmark by which historical Western dramas are gauged.

Rounding out the nominations are Elia Kazan’s Roots-like America, America, and Lillies Of The Field, an ultimately boring tale which is important, and memorable mainly due to Poitier’s landmark win.

My Winner: How The West Was Won

My Nominations: 8 And A Half. The Birds. Dementia 13. From Russia With Love. The Great Escape. The Haunting. Jason And The Argonauts.

My choices for nominations this year provide a rarity, in that not one of the official selections appears in my list/none of my selections appear on the official list. Some of my picks did garner nominations in other categories, while others are bewilderingly absent from the ceremony. My first nomination is Fellini’s 8 And A Half, now not only rightly regarded as one of the best examples non-American film making, but as one of the best films of all time. Released and respected with almost universal acclaim it is an influential piece of Avant Garde cinema whose ideas and visuals have filtered through the films of some of the best film-makers to come out of the last 6 decades. Rarely before or since has a piece of art so accurately portrayed the creative building process and the pressures which come with it.

Equally loved and influential is another Hitchcock classic from his most impressive period- The Birds. A horror movie, both visceral and psychological, a romance of sorts, a seemingly simple story with a tonne of dark, shadowy themes bubbling underneath and with characters who may not be what they seem. In a stark twist, not many of these issues are resolved and we are left with an open-ended final scene proving again that Hitchcock was still pushing boundaries and toying with his audience. Filled with scares and iconic moments, it remains a breathtaking thriller today.

My next choice is less well-known but one which has gained some respect in recent years due to it’s director’s star quality-Dementia 13 is a low budget horror movie dealing with meta techniques in a refreshing way. Admittedly rushed and filled with inconsistencies, mostly due to Coppola and Corman’s creative disagreements, this is much more than the Psycho rip ff it was created and billed as. The death scenes are powerful, the scheming characters deliciously evil, the ending superb, and the location and atmosphere many notches above your typical Corman fare.

Following swiftly on from tha huge success of Dr No., From Russia With Love provides more thrills and greater insight into the character of James Bond, and introduces many more of the series staples. Although I find the action less extravagant than the predecessor and the locations less exotic, this is a much more taut thriller and paints Bond as more than a Secret Agent on a mission- here is becomes human, with moral ambiguities and a darker side. The humour is present in every scene, in the writing, the acting, and the visuals thanks to Young’s masterful command, yet it is all done with an abandon which mirrors Bond himself- every action which isn’t for his own interest or for the mission is careless and unnecessary, except for the viewer.

Proving that it was a strong year for clever horror,The Haunting provides more scares which are more the product of our imaginations rather than anything obvious forced upon us. Probably still the best example of the Haunted House film, this has all the creaky floors, tense atmosphere, suspicious characters, dark corners, and brain rumbling sounds that you would expect. It is an example of the old style gothic horror beginning to merge with the new school which would emerge over the next 10 years, sinister, bleak, modern, but still rooted in the scares audiences were accustomed to. Wise gets the most out of Jackson’s story by focussing on sound and character and makes sure that he splits the audience by making us question Nell’s involvement and responses.

Rounding up my nominations are two rip-roaring adventures- one taken from myths and legends, the other taken from recent human history. Jason And The Argonauts remains one of the best examples of Ancient Greek (or otherwise) legends adapted for the big screen. Not only is the action fantastic, the plot engaging, the pace redline, and the special effects astounding, but the attention given to the relationship between God and Man is of great importance. Of any of the old world epics, this relationship was the driving force behind each tale, the reason for each character’s thoughts and actions, and the cause of their emotions written down, and our emotions experienced reading about them. The classic story follows the prophecy of a young man destined to usurp and rule, overthrowing the current tyrant, his voyage for The Golden Fleece, the comrades and dangers he encounters along the way, and it is a highly entertaining tale thanks to some inspired performances and those wonderful effect in each set piece. It is a film which was a big part of my childhood, which is still enjoy today, and which I hope my children will love.

However, my winner this year, and there really can be only one winner, is The Great Escape. A film of Allied spirit which is held dear to this day by the British public, and which remains iconic throughout the world thanks to the characters, the performances, the music, the action, the shocking violence, the camaraderie, the sets, the cinematography, everything. Even with its length, this is one of those films which, if I watch a few minutes of I have to watch it all- those movies are rare and perhaps only a handful appear each decade. The story is based on true events and given an obviously glossy, camp makeover which may instantly turn some critics off, but at the heart this is truly reflective of the hope and despair which POWs went through. It shows the nature of evil, it shows the undying will of human nature, but blurs those lines by showing us treachery, apprehension, and doubt on behalf of the good and bad sides, and never at one point is anything black and white. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading and go watch.

My Winner: The Great Escape.

Who would your pick for Best Film of 1963 be – let us know in the comments, and pick your favourite in the poll!


July 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

Nintendo News Roundup – 5th – 12th July

Part of a new series of posts to summarise recent Nintendo News. I’ve been a Nintendo fan all my life, though I wouldn’t call myself a fanboy – I’m a gamer – but due to circumstance I only have time for one console – and my love for Nintendo overrides other consoles – I wish I had time to samples all the joys of the gaming world fully.

After all the commotion and excitement of a successful E3, it’s back to the business of delivering on all those promises and giving great games to the public. Let’s review the past week’s big stories:


Eye tracking patent: Nintendo is known for patenting some weird and wonderful things, and eagle-eyed fans know that patent sites are a haven for unearthing rumours, urban legends, and potentially new products. Detractors will say that this is just another attempt by Nintendo to find the latest gimmick, but the rest of us are keen to see if anything will actually come of this new patent. While most gamers will know all about Oculus Rift and the like, this could be Nintendo’s answer, or a possible sequel to the technology used on 3DS. It may yet drum up publicity and come to nothing (where’s that Vitality Sensor??), but it seems like an interesting idea to, pardon the pun, keep an eye on.

Project Cars Delayed: More disappointing news this week for Nintendo fans as Slightly Mad Studios announced that their gorgeous looking Racing Sim Project Cars has been delayed – but for Wii U only. This has prompted an expected angry outcry from Nintendo fans for a number of reasons – the game, according to a variety of reports looked like it was most highly anticipated on Nintendo’s console – much more that Microsoft or Sony’s – yet those consoles will be getting the game first. Secondly – this is far from the first time that a high-profile game has been delayed for the Wii U – one needs only to look back at the whole Rayman debacle. Nintendo fans are justified in feeling that the are being screwed over by other Companies – why not have a simultaneous release? There are a few ways of taking this news – it could be to SMS’s detriment, considering the release date for the game is the same as a couple of much higher profile games on PS4 and XBox One – it would make more sense to delay the release for all consoles, or bring it forward if resources are being pulled from the Wii U version to speed things up on others (unlikely). It looks like another case of the 2 leading consoles being favoured over Nintendo. However, the more positive way of looking at things is the Wii U version is being given extra time and consideration so that it becomes the best it can possibly be, and possibly the definitive version. Bandai Namco (who will be distributing) have stated as much – ‘”We’re committed to delivering an exceptional and unique experience for racing fans on Wii U and for this we kindly ask our devoted and passionate Nintendo fans for a little more time in order to ensure the game delivers on our vision of being the most authentic, beautiful, and technically-advanced racing game on any platform”. It doesn’t sound great in all honesty, just as things were looking good for the Wii U, with even Kotaku saying it was a great time to buy the console. Nintendo is lacking 3rd Party support, and realistic racing games, so this could be bad news indeed – then again, if and when it arrives, it could be an excellent game, but some Nintendo fans may be better and chose to stay away, while multi-platform owners may buy it first on another console.

 New Fighter for Smash Brothers to be unveiled: Series creator Masahiro Sakurai has announced that a new fighter will be unveiled on July 14th, so the rumour mill has already started spinning – Kranky Kong? Ridley? A Tetris Block? Shulk? It’s only recently that Pacman was added to the roster, and fans are keen for any new information on the hyped games. I’m not a huge fan of the series, although I have enjoyed the previous installments that I’ve played, but in my heyday it was not the most popular choice for multiplayer fun in the bedroom. Regardless, this is set to be a big seller for both systems and will hopefully convince a few more gamers to invest in the Wii U.

Hyrule Warriors overload: Hyrule Warriors got a decent showing at E3 and surprised many by how good it looks. Since E3, every day or two has seen new information coming out on the Dynasty Warriors/Zelda crossover in the form of a new stage or character. This week saw an abundance of information to keep those looking forward to the game in a state of frenzied anticipation. I’m yet to be convinced if this will be a purchase for me – I’ll likely wait for the reviews to come in, and if they are positive, wait for the game to drop in price after a few months (if the reviews are full of praise then maybe it’ll be an early purchase for me). I’m a huge Zelda fan, but I’ve never played a Dynasty Warriors game, and I haven’t played a really good kill-em-all-em-ep since the days of Golden Axe and Streets Of Rage days. This week has seen a bunch of new screens and information, including alternate constumes for characters, confirmation that fan (ahem) favourites Fi, Ghirahim, and others will be playable, Faron Woods and Skyloft will be new romping grounds, and that bollock-on-a-chain weapon from TP will be useable. If this is actually as playable as it looks fun, then it could be a surprise hit (and open the way for other game-mash-ups???)


Diddy Kong Racing 2: One of the more interesting rumours coming out this week is surrounding a sequel to Rare’s exceptional N64 Karter Diddy Kong Racing. As alluded to above, for year my bedroom was a battleground for multiplayer mayhem, and DKR was a game which had countless hours thrown at it – often the battle mode taking precedence over the races. The game is still a favourite of mine, revolutionary for actually including a plot in a racer, as well as RPG elements, plus you had the added bonus of driving, flying, or hovercrafting your way through the many tracks which opened up different short-cuts and ways of getting one over on your opponent. Anyway, according to rumour, a sequel is in the works for Wii U and 3DS, being worked on by none other than Retro Studios. RS were notably absent from E3, leading many to speculate on what they were working on – StarFox, Metroid Prime etc. Rumours state that the game was almost going to be shown at E3, but pulled at the last moment, that Amiibo will be a key integration point and was key in reviving interest in the game, and that it is Nintendo Of America’s biggest project so far. We’ll keep our eyes peeled, I’m hoping this will become a reality.

Yokai Watch Coming To West: More good news for Western gamers, is that uber-popular RPG could be coming to our shores. As mentioned above, the second game has only just released in Japan to huge sales, and Level 5 and Nintendo will (or should) be savvy enough to know that anime is pretty huge over here too, though maybe not as culturally accepted yet. Nevertheless, games featuring cutesy Japanese characters will always be more accepted that movies, so it makes sense that the game could be profitable here. With the anime previously rumoured to be coming over here soon, it would make doubly sense for the game to come too.

Sega says NO to Virtual Console: Bad, but unsurprising news for retro fans when Yoseke Okunari responded to a fan’s question over the possibility of Sega games coming to the VC with a fairly resounding ‘No’. Again, we can take that with a pinch of salt, but in all honesty the VC has not been anywhere near as strong as it should have been by now on Nintendo’s latest console. For two companies with such huge and beloved back catalogues, it is infuriating that more is not being done. In the end this likely comes down to money spent versus profit – how many fans have already bought or played the original Sonics etc in some form? The silly thing is that we could easily be getting Saturn and Dreamcast games on the VC, just as we coukd and should be getting N64 and Gamecube games on it. It seems unlikely anything will happen now on this front as Nintendo focuses its strategy on new Wii U games and on the using the Gamepad for uniqute experiences. The VC should have been populated and ready to go on Wii U release day, but who knows , maybe this is freeing Nintendo and Sega up for some more HD remakes – Eternal Darkness… Shenmue….?


I’m not one to talk much about Sales, and you won’t hear me mention them much on these news updates, but it’s worthwhile to note that Mario Kart 8 is still selling well on a console with a low install base, and has helped the Wii U shift a bunch in the European, NA, and Asian markets. It’s still holding its own against the might of Watch Dogs and will continue to sell for a long time – see Nintendo what a little bit of publicity can do? Other recent releases Tomodachi Life and Yokai Watch 2 have been doing extremely well, especially Tomodachi Life which has seen stable growth in the UK. Yokai Watch was always going to be a hit in native Japan, and with almost 1 million pre-orders, it’s hardly surprising it sailed to the top of the charts.

There we go, another interesting week in the world of Nintendo – feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or get a discussion going on any of the points raised above.

July 12, 2014 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

1963 Academy Awards- An Introduction

The 1963 Academy Awards are remembered mostly for two events- it was the year that Sidney Poitier became the first black person to win a major Oscar, and it was the year of Cleopatra- the most expensive movie ever made. Aside from those events, it was an odd year- Jack Lemmon was hosting, Patricia Neal won the Best Actress award for a bit part, Margaret Rutherford became the oldest winner to date, and Tom Jones became the only film to have three supporting actress nominations. Presenters included Julie Andrews, Sidney Poitier, and Eddie G Robinson while an Honorary Award went to multi award winning Producer Sam Spiegel. Performances included two hits from Andy Williams, and Katyna Ranieri singing ‘More’ from Monde Cane.

1963 Academy Awards

The next series of posts will see me offering my choices of winners from the actual nominations and then selecting my own nominations and winners thanks to the time travelling, awe-inspiring power of The Spac-Hole. Will Tom Jones and Cleopatra come out on top again, or will there be some newbies stealing their crowns? Stay tuned to find out!

July 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

Manic Mondays – 7th July 2014

Give me a chance – Futurology, the new album by Manic Street Preachers has only arrived today and I’ll need time to let it all sink in. Meanwhile, here’s one from the archives when I hit shuffle:

‘Petrified for the millionth time/slowly my soul evaporates
No parachutes/no dismal clouds/just this fucking space’

I’m Not Working

July 7, 2014 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

Twins – DVD Review

Little And Large

Little And Large

Arnie shows his range wonderfully in this light-hearted, but clever and ultimately touching comedy, using all the comic and action ability he has learned over the previous 10 years. Aiming for a younger, more widespread audience would ensure that more people would come to love Arnie, and ensuring he would become one of the greatest movie stars ever.

Arnie plays Julian, a twin separated at birth from his brother and mother in a dubious experiment. Once he reaches a certain age, he decides to go in search of his lost brother and mother; however, he is no ordinary 80s American male; he is a genius, a muscular giant with great fighting ability, naive and innocent when it comes to women, the outside world, and crime due to his upbringing in a tropical paradise. His search takes him to America, to LA, and into various humourous japes. Eventually he finds his brother Vincent, who was the ‘failed’ half of the experiment. Vincent is small, weak, and a small time crook and womanizer, but street-smart. We learn that Vincent is going to be killed by loan sharks unless he can come up with some money fast, but when Julian interrupts, beating up the bad guys, Vincent thinks he can exploit Julian as protection, even though he does not believe they are brothers. Julian is ecstatic to have found his other half and they begin searching for their mother as well as attempting to save Vincent. Over time they grow to like each other, and Arnie falls for Marnie, the sister of Vincent’s girl. The mob is on their backs, and Julian will not stop till he finds his mum.

The film works because the chemistry between DeVito and Arnie is perfect. The script is also very sharp, with plenty of jokes, room for action, and with a charming quality too while veering close to becoming a tad too sweet. The cast is good and all seem to have a great time making the film. Arnie’s one-liners are present-’The pavement was your enemy’ and ‘You forgot the third rule in a crisis situation’, but the rest of the humour is good too especially sight gags with regards to the way the twins are so physically and culturally different, yet act the same, do the same things at the same time etc. Arnie’s singing on the plane is great too.

Overall, a good Arnie film, but one for the family to enjoy, rather than just the action fans. Arnie transitions well into a more lighthearted genre, and his unique star quality shines. DeVito is gold, Kelly Preston is gorgeous, and the baddies are a hoot. The DVD transfer is fine but there are no special features worthy of mentioning. Now that Arnie is making his way back into movies maybe he should return to some of these releases to record a commentary or documentary with the rest of the cast/crew. If anything it would entertain his fans and earn him an extra few bucks.

*Originally written in 2004

June 27, 2014 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

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