Saturday, December 25, 2010

Future First Person Shooter

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Daft Punk - Derezzed (from TRON: Legacy)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Valhalla Rising Review

Okay, let's get one thing straight first off- if you've seen the poster or DVD cover for Valhalla Rising and are expecting some kind of 13th Warrior-style action film, you'd probably think you had made a wise choice. After all, there's a picture of Mads Mikkelsen on the cover holding a giant sword and with an army of soldiers at his back. Right?


This has to be the most blatantly false piece of advertising I've ever seen in my whole life- and given the addition of the non-existent soldiers in the background, it's the fact that it's so deliberately misleading that shocks me. Because if you're a fan of action films, the chances are you'll probably hate the glacial pace of Valhalla Rising.

In short, you're getting not an action film but an art house film. And, if like me, you don't mind slow-paced, atmospheric movies with great soundtracks and (very) occasional bursts of gut-wrenching violence you might not be completely disappointed. You might hang in there all the way through the film- Mads Mikkelsen does, after all, deliver a terrific performance as the invincible, mute One-Eye. The problem is that there's no pay off.

The film opens with One-Eye as a slave warrior, chained to a pole and forced to fight in brutal, unarmed combat (usually against more than one foe at a time). This section, at least, delivers on the misleading advertising. The problem, though, is that as the film goes on and he escapes and then falls in with a group of warriors off to the Holy Land the pace not only slows but the action almost completely stops. That's not say that it's not good- the photography is fantastic, the soundtrack is mesmerising and there's something compelling about watching the journey these men are on. No, the big problem is that the film builds tension so brilliantly as the men arrive, hopelessly lost, in the New World. The sound here is tremendous by the way- every whisper of wind, every rustle of leaves, every animal call hints at the hidden danger around them. It's one of the most effectively menacing environments I've seen on film. Glad I had my headphones on while watching it.

And that's why it's such a frustratingly, horribly unrewarding film. One-Eye is one of the best conceived warriors on celluloid. He cannot be stopped, cannot be beaten. We witness him fighting bare-handed and then, once or  twice, with axe and dagger- but these are only hints of what he's capable of. The film builds and builds, heading inexorably towards a showdown between One-Eye and the natives and then, suddenly, it ends. I don't want to give any spoilers but if you're expecting a big finale you're going to be sorely disappointed because there isn't one. Instead it just stops and you're left staring at the screen going, "that's it?"

If you're an art house fan, of course, your mileage may vary. You may love the "what was that bit all about" of some of it, you may wonder about the symbolism of certain elements, you may question the meaning behind certain acts. In short you may enjoy thinking about the film more than actually watching it. Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle between the "that was so boring, can't believe I wasted my time" crowd and the "wow, that was so thought-provoking/weird/unfathomable" brigade.

The major lack of a satisfying ending is the film's worst sin- perhaps some will like it but for me it's akin to the false advertising of the packaging. The DVD box art sells this as an action film. The story, the mood, the character build this film as if it's heading towards a certain ending but then doesn't deliver. I couldn't stand it. What I did like was pretty much all of the rest of it. The lack of action after the opening scenes is totally fine- as is the glacially slow pace and lack of dialogue. As I've said the cinematography is superb, the sound editing is awesome, the soundtrack is perfect for creating the proper mood, the acting is well above average and the atmosphere is gripping. The only big flaw for me was that it doesn't deliver on all of these elements. Maybe next time I watch it, I'll stop my DVD player a few minutes before the end and just imagine what should have happened.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Kill Babies

Here's video of the person at the core of the voter intimidation case- you know, the one the Obama Department of Justice had already won, but then dismissed, allowing this person to walk free.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is a classic "what if Bush did it" moment- can you imagine the uproar, the media attention, that a similar case would get if Bush's DoJ had allowed a white man with a history of saying these same things about black people to go free- after winning the case against him?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Armed Forces Day

It's Armed Forces Day here in the UK, so spare a thought for the men and women engaged in war in a far-off land.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines don't get anywhere near the respect or gratitude that they deserve. The fighting in Afghanistan is brutal and intense- and the British public only hears a small fraction of what's actually going on over there. If you haven't already, I strongly suggest you head on over and read some of Michael Yon's posts.

Bug Out Bag

I'm putting together a "tiered" bug out bag. Level One will provide enough for 24 hours, level Two 72 and then Level Three will be a less man-portable system for a longer duration emergency. I did have my eye on one of County Comm's superb little EOD utility bags (along with a good deal of the rest of their products - they couldn't have designed a better product line aimed at me personally if they tried- Pico Pen? I want one so bad). Unfortunately, they don't seem to like making money and won't sell their products outside of the US- and the only other supplier of the EOD bag is LA Gear which wants to charge me in the region of $80 shipping for a little bag. Wow.

So, I'm looking for an alternative (or a dealer who will ship internationally without robbing me blind) and if anyone can suggest one I'd really appreciate it. I like that the EOD bag came with MOLLE webbing so that extra pouches can be attached.

For what it's worth my Level One gear will be based on what the British military term assault order- the contents of webbing (and in my case the gear normally carried in your combat jacket too). Minus the magazines for the L85, cleaning kit and grenades of course. This basically boils down to a mess kit, 24 hours of rations, stove, mug, water bottle and a few little extras.

Ninja Assassin

Just watched Ninja Assassin. Quite possibly the greatest ninja film ever made. And Sho Kosugi is in it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Convict Conditioning

Although my back injury prevents me from engaging in vigorous exercise I do try to keep abreast of what's going on in the world of strength and fitness training. I recently stumbled across a Dragon Door book called Convict Conditioning. Written by an ex-con it details the system he developed to become scary strong and fit inside the joint. Utilising nothing but bodyweight exercises, the book can trace its heritage back to old-school strongman The Mighty Atom.

What's refreshing about this book is that not only does the author explain the reasoning and history behind his system, he also lays out a foolproof guide of how to progress from absolute beginner to master athlete. I've read a lot of exercise books and while many offer explanations of certain techniques and some sample routines, few- if any- lay it out in such a clear, simple way as Convict Conditioning. Based around six main exercises, it takes you step-by-step through the program. Take press ups, for example. This section starts with standing, wall press ups for those with little conditioning, and then builds gradually- level by level- towards the peak movement: the one handed, handstand press up. It's as simple as that. Get the book, follow the routine- with clearly pictured and described guides to each of the exercises- and get strong. And the best part is that you don't need to buy any expensive or fancy equipment; or even go to the gym for that matter.

Quite simply this is one of the best exercise guides I've ever seen.

The Tunnel

This is interesting- an Aussie firm has made a horror movie called The Tunnel and they are releasing it themselves as a torrent. They intend to pay for the production costs by selling individual frames of film. It's a rather daring step to take and it will certainly be interesting to see how well this system does. If it works we'll be sure to see others try the same approach- and surely a successful cult film will be able to charge a bit more than a dollar for at least some of the frames.

“An investigation into a government cover-up leads to a network of abandoned train tunnels deep beneath the heart of Sydney. As a journalist and her crew hunt for the story it quickly becomes clear the story is hunting them.”

You can check out the teasers- and buy your own frame- here. And don't forget to look for the torrent.

Centurion Trailer

Neil Marshall's a genius- Dog Soldiers is a blast, The Descent was genuinely scary and Doomsday was a hugely entertaining homage to the post-apocalyptic films of the '80s. So, I'm really, really looking forward to seeing his latest flick Centurion.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Obama's Anti-British Rhetoric Attacked

Britain's Lord Tebbitt slams Obama's continual blame-shifting and finger-pointing-

‘The whole might of American wealth and technology is displayed as utterly unable to deal with the disastrous spill – so what more natural than a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political Presidential petulance against a multinational company?’

London mayor Boris Johnson also joined in-

'I do think there's something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America.

'I would like to see a bit of cool heads rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling. When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the airwaves.

'It was an accident that took place and BP is paying a very, very heavy price indeed.'

BP provides income for millions of pension savers- Obama's constant demagoguing of the company might in the short term deflect blame from his rudderless "leadership" but in the long run it could have a ruinous effect on the pension plans of many retirees dependent on those funds.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Foiled Plot

How's all that tread-softly, don't talk about "Islamic terrorism", Muslim out-reach doing for Obama? About as well as anyone with half a brain cell would expect-

Indonesian police said today they had uncovered and foiled a plot to assassinate the president and other top officials, massacre foreigners in Mumbai-style attacks, declare an Islamic state, and possibly even kill Barack Obama.

Friday, May 14, 2010

To begin

Opening paragraphs to political articles don't come much more brutal than this one-

Who the hell does Barack Obama, this morally preening, arrogant hypocrite, think he is? His vacuous, demagogic shtick about helping the "people" fight "the powerful" is getting so old from his lips, and already was so hackneyed even before he expropriated it, that it's a miracle that even he himself can say it anymore without getting nauseated by his own oleaginous triteness.

Makes you want to read the rest of the article, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dangerous Delusion

Looks like I blogged too soon. In a previous post I quoted Mark Steyn's most recent column in which he postulated that the very last thing another terrorist attack on the USA would result in would be stricter controls on Muslim immigration or more thorough vetting of Muslim immigrants.

Thankfully we don't have to go through the horrors of another attack to have his point proved. Byron York has a piece up in which he details what former Clinton and Bush intel chief Richard Clarke thinks the US should do in the event of a terrorist attack-

In the raw aftermath of a successful attack, it will be very hard for an American president to shift the debate in a more productive and honest direction. Imagine if, after a fatal attack, President Obama responded by proposing greater outreach to Muslim communities domestically and around the world, in an effort to undercut radicalization. That is precisely what we and other nations should be doing, but it would undoubtedly be decried as a weak, starry-eyed reaction by our commander in chief, especially after an attack that revealed deficiencies in our counterterrorism system.

Yep, according to Clarke the US shouldn't respond to a terrorist attack which murders American citizens with retaliatory strikes or with silly things like strengthening the homeland security system- all the President needs to do to undermine a centuries old theological imperative to wage war against infidels is to try and be nicer to the Muslim world.

This from a guy who used to be the head counter-terrorism chap in the White House. Doesn't build confidence does it?

Stonewalling Congress

This hasn't gotten much play in the media or on the blogs- though you can be sure that if we were talking about Bush's DoJ doing the same it would be running 27/4 on the TV news and be on the front pages of the papers.

It appears that the Department of Justice is playing politics with the Times Square bombing plot by refusing to brief Senator Kit Bond (R-MO), the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. During a classified briefing on Thursday members of the intelligence community refused to answer one of Senator Bond's questions, according to Bond "We called the agency of the intelligence community that should have that information, and they advised us that the Department of Justice is running it and they told us they should not share it with the Intelligence Committee."

As is made clear in the article this is a stunning overreach of the powers of the Department of Justice- and the response of the intelligence community to Holder's crowd should not have been, "sure thing" but "get bent"- they are legally required to keep the Senate Intel Committee fully and currently informed.

Times Square Bomber

Mark Steyn's weekly column is a must read- every week.

This time he tackles the subject of the Times Square bomber- and the reaction to the attempt to commit mass murder in the middle of New York City on a busy Saturday night. He counters the frankly preposterous notion that America has become Islamophobic, and this following section really caught my eye-

Because the reactions of Bloomberg & Co. are a useful glimpse into the decayed and corroded heart of a civilization. One day the bomb will explode. Dozens dead? Hundreds? Thousands? Would we then restrict immigration from certain parts of the world? Or at least subject them to extra roadblocks on the fast-track to citizenship?

What do you think?

I can imagine it now- New York, Chicago, LA or some other major American city left in smouldering ruins with an unknown number of dead. While the fires still burn and emergency crews struggle to save lives, you just know that the talking heads on TV will be whining about a feared backlash against Muslims living in America- and not railing against the murderous philosophy of jihad that caused the attack.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

New Brit Horror Movie SNUB

This looks rather interesting- a new British movie called S.N.U.B. which stands for Secret Nuclear Underground Bunker. In short a Brit politician finds out about an impending nuclear attack on London and he flees- along with an assortment of other people- into a bunker to save himself. The bomb goes off and the radioactivity mutates a group of prisoners who escaped in the aftermath of the blast. Said mutants then set about attacking the survivors in the bunker.

I think I'm going to enjoy this one. It's available to pre-order on DVD now.

Women's Rights

Been away from blogging for a while. Tried that Twitter whatsit- really great for passing on an interesting story when you don't have time to blog about it- and then took a break from the whole thing for a short time. When the whole world is going to hell having a ringside seat- and being constantly informed of the minutiae of the destruction of Western civilisation from within and without- can be more than a little depressing.

Anyway, saw this story and just had to blog about it-

Women with suntans are violating Islamic law and will be arrested in Iran, the capital city's police chief was reported by The Daily Telegraph as saying Wednesday.

"In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins," he continued. "We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

You may have heard of this far-off place, Iran, in the news recently. In actual fact, they've just been elected to serve on the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women. This is a body which is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women."

Yep, the same country which thinks that it's just fine and dandy to imprison women for having a bit of a fake tan is now a member of the UN's premier body on women's rights issues.

In response, American "women's leaders" (that they have leaders may come as a surprise to many American women) have sprung into action- and written an open letter to Hillary Clinton in protest.

That should do the job...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

HK To Bring Back The XM8?

George Hill aka Mad Ogre drops some very interesting news from his SHOT Show 2010 coverage. He talked to a Heckler and Koch rep-

In fact, we are going to be seeing some new stuff that would have been previously unheard of... such as a very real possibility of a revamped XM-8 – for Civilian Sales. Which would be outstanding.

HK put an awful lot of time, effort and money into developing the XM8- a version for civilians (and presumably police and military sales) would make sense to recoup their costs. Before the project was killed, it was being out through its paces at the Aberdeen Testing Ground and there was talk of the 10th Mountain Division taking the weapon into combat in Afghanistan with them.

A few years has passed and HK has brought out its product improved M4, the piston driven 416, and the long-lived, slowly evolving M16/M4 platform is now facing competition from the likes of FN's SCAR and the new Bushmaster ACR. It would be interesting to see how a "revamped" XM8 stacks up alongside them. Remember, in the recent "dust test" the Army carried out, the XM8 came out on top, defeating the SCAR, HK's 416 and the M4.

One other thing to bear in mind is that not only are US Special Forces using the HK 416 but the Army is adopting the HK M320 40mm grenade launcher and the USMC have just announced that HK won their IAR competition. I'm guessing a new XM8 would no doubt appeal to a number of different military and police units.