Saturday, 30 January 2010

SF at the movies - January '10

Slipping in at the last possible moment, here are the Sci-Fi releases that were out in January.


Released 06/01/10

I had high hopes for this one and while it didn't disappoint, it wasn't all I felt it could have been either. The movie takes the usual 'vampires have mutated from humans' plot (see my earlier post on vamps) and extends it to the point where most of the population are vampires, meaning they are short on their key food source - human blood. In danger of devolving or dying out they have to find an alternative. A vampire scientist teams up with the few remaining humans to find another solution. Great plot, and the cast didn't let it down but it still relied on spooky things going 'raa!' and excessive violence when it could have focused more on resolving the storyline.

The Road

Released 08/01/10

A superb film. I was wondering if Viggo Mortensen's career had died after LotR but he is most definitely back with this astounding performance. The setting is your average post-apocalyptic world with broken buildings, dirt everywhere and crazy people. This is merely backdrop however for the journey a man must take to try and find a better life for his son. On the way they have to contend with the elements and a lack of food, as well as how to deal with the often savage people they meet. It is a deep exploration of morality as the father teaches the son to do what's right while being faced with how far he has to go to protect him and prepare him for life in a broken world. My words don't do it justice - if you can, see it.

The Book of Eli

Released 15/01/10

Another post-apocalyptic tale, this one more of an action thriller than the other. The world's gone to pot but one dude has a book which apparently has the power to either save humanity, or grant incredible power to whoever possesses it. A gang leader is very interested in the book and not so he can save humanity, thankfully the guy who's got it is Denzel Washington and he can kick some ass to make sure it gets to the right hands. I'm probably not doing it justice and it looks good, but I think I've had my dose of post-apocalyptic for this month.

And that's it, so basically January is a month for the end of the world - let's see what Feb brings!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Seventh Dimension

For UK Sci-Fi fans there is a great way to get more science fiction that you may not have thought of - via the radio!!

BBC Radio 7 hosts a daily show called 'The Seventh Dimension' which is all about Sci-Fi and fantasy. The hourly show hosts a variety of content, from readings to dramatisations to full on Sci-Fi audio dramas.

I really enjoyed 'Earthsearch' an audio drama set in the far future when humanity is exploring the stars and looking for new colonies. One ship returns to Earth after a disastrous mission and find that due to time spend in stasis and time dilation that a million years have past - and worse still the Earth is missing!!! The full series with it's sequel and prequel were broadcast and made for great listening.

These have also been readings of stories by great authors - most recently a set of short stories by Robert Heinlein (of Starship Troopers fame) and other works by authors such as Ursula Le Guin and J.G. Ballard.

Worth trying as an alternative way of getting your sci-fi fix!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Halo for Haiti

We've all heard about the terrible disaster facing Haiti and my thoughts and prayers do go out to the people of that land. I saw on the news that aid from the US and other nations has made it to the country, but the logistics of getting that through when there are few roads or airports left in working condition and looting and rioting a very real danger.

Sustaining this operation will need money and both governments and aid agencies are crying out for support at this time. There are many ways to help and many areas of the community are finding ways to help. Now Halo is joining the fight!

Bungie - the developer behind Halo is raising money for the cause and appealing to the gamers for help. The first way to help is by buying a special T-shirt.

The limited edition shirt features the icon of the Superintendent AI from ODST, in red and blue to represent the Haitian flag, and the appropriate slogan 'Be a Hero'. The back notifies people about Bungie's efforts in this case and will serve as a reminder of your help in this our of need. 100% of the profits on this shirt will go to Haiti through the American Red Cross. If this one doesn't take your fancy then Bungie are also donating profits from other items in their store to the Red Cross.

I'm seriously considering getting this shirt, but if you're even more tightfisted than me there is a way to raise money which won't cost you a thing - play Halo!! Over Wednesday and Thursday this week Bungie will donate money to the cause for every thousand players they get online. All you have to do is log on, play and change your logo to a red heart on a white circle and your playtime will be registered.

For more details read here.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Heroes is back on the BBC...honestly!!!

They've done it AGAIN!!! You'd think with a high profile show like Heroes the Beeb would do some promotion, but no as always Heroes returns to the screen in the UK with no fanfare and not so much as a quiet 'by the way' followed by a subtle couch.

Which meant I missed the two parter opening and had to watch it on iplayer...which is a good service to be fair, but to only find out two days later as someone mentions that they saw something called 'Hero or something' on the weekend ain't good enough!!!

On another note - Heroes yay!!!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Star Wars Legacy: Tatooine + Imperial Pilots

I'm still quite far behind, but this is a four issue arc so it should let me catch up a bit, plus the present storyline is a four parter, which gives me a bit of breathing room to get these posts done. My delving into Imperial personnel lets me make one...


Nieve Gromia
Species: Human
Sex: Female
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Moff, Arkanis Sector
First Appearance: Legacy #37 (Tatooine, part 1)

Gromia was once a high flyer on Coruscant until corruption charges tainted her reputation. She evaded charges, but was placed on Tatooine as Moff of the Arkanis sector. Feeling betrayed she quickly set herself up by making deals with the local Black Sun Vigo, allowing him to pilfer Imperial goods for a cut of the profit. She earned enough to turn her appartment into a luxury suite filled with rare and expensive items and was doing well until someone started stealing from Black Sun...

Story Review

On the Triellus trade route Black Sun are raiding an Imperial vessel when they too are attacked. Cade and his crew take out the pirates, assist the Imperials then take the cargo for themselves and a maneuvre they had come to use after fleeing the events of Kiffex. The latest report on the raids goes to Courscant where Nyna Calixte dispatches Morrigan Corde (herself) and Gunn Yage (her daughter) to investigate the problem. This disturbs Gromia, who contacts the Vigo, who dispatches his best assassin's to deal with the problem.
Meanwhile Cade and his crew are stranded on Tatooine because of a broken part and their fence won't pay up because of the heat from Black Sun, which has also caused their informant, Naxy Screeger, to flee Black Sun, ending their scam. They use a tested con where Blue poses as an Imperial Missionary to obtain the part, and while she does so Cade and Jariah content themselves in a local cantina. While Jariah is distracted by a local Twi'lek beauty Cade is captured by Gunn Yage, who takes him away to arrest him. One the way back to base they are attacked by the assassin's and caught in a sandstorm, forcing them to make an uneasy alliance to escape.
Led by a force vision Cade arrives at the Lars homestead where Luke grew up. While there in a vision Luke speaks to him showing the danger of his dark path. Jariah and Morrigan arrive there in time to battle the assassins, and the group emerge victorious. Cade confronts his mother about her loyalties to the Empire, though she states that she tuly loved Cade's father and he loved her. While there she assassinates the Vigo, which angers Cade who flies into a dark rage, nearly killing Morrigan, he admits that he doesn't want to be that way before departing.
Back on Tatooine Deliah secures that part fo the Mynock and reunites with her crew, ready to head somewhere new. And on Coruscant Darth Wyyrlok announces changes to the merciful Imperial Mission, making them preachers of Sith code and makes Veed Regent of the Empire while Darth Krayt 'recovers from his injuries'.
Finally Gunn tracks down renegade Moff Gromia, and after a struggle Gromia kills herself rather then be arrested, with her final words she reveals Morrigan Corde's secret to Gunn, asking her to destroy her.

My Two Credits

This is one of the least favourite arcs among fans, though I quite liked it myself. The storyline moves mostly through the character dialogue rather than the brief action scenes which made it less satisfying visually when dragged over a four month period. Nevertheless there were some great moments in there, Cade confronting his sister about the annihlination of the Jedi, done by her father and hearing his mother's perspective on the massacre and other events made great reading even if it wasn't the best arc so far.


This is my new thing, and allows me to be slightly creative rather then regurgitating Wookiepedia content, this is a mapt showing the locations featured in the story. So you know, Kaer is the location of the Vigo's base, and Mon Gazza is mentioned by Cade

Imperial Fighter Pilots

This is making for quite a long post, but since on of them appears in this arc I'll let you know about the Imperial fighter pilots that appear in Legacy flying the new 'Predator' fighter - don't worry there aren't many.

Gunn Yage

Species: Human
Position: Captain (Skull Squadron)
First Appearance: Legacy #14 (Claws of the Dragon, part 1)

'Gunner' Yage is the daughter of Moffs Ranulf Yage and Nyna Calixte. Shortly after her birth Nyna left the family and moved in with Veed, which embittered both Gunn and her father. Her father raised her like the son he always wanted, and she eventually earned his respect. She studied at the Imperial Academy, training both as a pilot and a Black Ops agent. She rose in the ranks and became captain of Skull Squadron, and elite unit tasked with protecting Coruscant as well as undertaking special missions. She failed to capture Cade when he returned to invade the Sith temple and so felt she had a score to settle with him. She finally captured him on Tatooine, but also discovered that his mother was also her mother, making him her half-brother - what she will do with this information we have yet to see.

Jae Akura
Species: Human
Position: Pilot (Skull Squadron)
First Appearance: Legacy #14 (Claws of the Dragon, part 1)

A loyal member of Skull squadron and devoted to his captain. A lively member of the group he was known for trading jokes and insults with squadron members during battles - he is also the ladies man of the group, known for his frequent changes of girlfriend.

The other two member, depicted on the far left and right are Tev 'Crasher' Rimon and Brodie 'Cannon' Coburn. They are also loyal members and will stick up for their captain even against a Moff. Rimon, is known for his frequent crashes and Brodie is a keen partygoer. We haven't much other info at the moment.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Stuff: Transformers 2

Another of my blog posts looking at the cool things that appear in Sci-Fi movies and the like. This time Transformers 2, which was one of the most enjoyable films of last year. The movie saw autobots now working alongside humans in a special operations unit and an ancient menace that threatened all of planet Earth

That and a ton of new 'Non-Biological Entities' so let's have a look at 'em.

The Fallen

The titular villain. I'm not an 'of old' Transformers fan so this character was new to me as were pretty much any of the characters not in the first movie. The Fallen is a 'Prime' like Optimus, though much older and more powerful. He also has far greater abilities such as teleportation and gravity manipulation. He was also apparently Megatron's master and after resurrecting him used him to attack Optimus as he can 'only be killed by a Prime' whether that is a power thing or a Macbeth style prophecy is unclear. Nonetheless he is eventually defeated by Optimus and his plan to harvest energon from the sun, create an army of new decepticons and wipe out the human race is ended.


Another returning character I didn't know. I love the idea of a transformer sattelite, i thought it was really clever and didn't see it coming. Soundwave worked really well as a behind the scenes menace, informing Starscream of NEST's plans and directing the decepticons to land.


One of Soundwave's minions this dog like decepticon kept popping up everywhere you went, there did seems to be a lot of animal like creatures growing in the Fallen'#s lair so maybe this was one of them I don't know.


From Soundwave comes Ravage, from Ravage comes err Reedman, is that really the name for this thing? OK, anyway I loved this robot, the idea of a completely flat profile so as to be nearly undetectable was genius and a great way for them to infiltrate the base. I wasn't to keen on it's construction from tiny robots, I'd have preferred it assembling from component parts or slithering like a snake before building up, but you can't have everything I guess.


Yes there was one of the same name in the first film, but there's anly so many nasty names you can use before starting over. This was the first 'constructicon' we've seen in the movies, combining from a number of transformers to make one giant monster of a villain. Fortunately it did have a purpose and not just there for kicks, it waqs used to expose the energon harvester hidden under a pyramid, and got pretty for before being blown up by the good ol' US military!


I'm a bit confused now, apparently this one is part of Devastator, yet he also fights Sam and Bumblebee on his own, I must me mixing up the film because I'm sure those things happen at the same time. Nonetheless I did like this one with the design of the 'whippy things' on his arms intriguing and it made for a fun fight scene.


I didn't really like this one to be honest with you. While I love the fact that there are tons of new cybertronians and with variety I think the sheer number of different forms was a bit baffling and some of them for me just got annoying. The Doc was able to resurrect Megatron quite easily it seems and then interpreted information from Sam's brain leading to the final battle.


Another 'alternative form' this decepticon posed as a human to lure Sam into a position where she could extract the information from him necessary to carry out the Fallen's plan. I wasn't entirely convinced by the human skinned terminator... I mean transformer, but apprently this kind of thing already exists in transformers continuity so I guess that's ok.

Right - that was even more than I thought, I think I'll cover the Autobots in another post sometime. There were a ton of other Decepticons, some hadn't even bothered to transform, but it lead up to a big battle at the end - which the autobots won. Given that they are outnumbered, but always outclass the decepticons it's a wonder more of the enemy don't do a Jetfire and switch sides. Anyway, more from me soon - I'll leave you with som more images of the decpeticons.



Friday, 1 January 2010

Game Review: Star Wars The Force Unleashed

I'm a bit behind on these, and with number two announced I'd better get on and talk about the first one hadn't I?! It was a bit of a return to form for me with this one as it was a Star Wars game and I once lived on a diet of pretty much nothing but Star Wars games, but these days it's slim pickings, with Clone Wars games being the only offerings. Thuis one was something fresh, offering new technology a brand new story set in the 'Dark Times' between trilogies and a new force juggernaught of a character.

Rough Plot

I'd be shocked if people didn't know this by now so I'm just gonna go through it. Darth Vader finds the son of a Jedi and trains him in secret as his own apprentice, with the goal of taking control of the Empire from the Emperor. As part of his training he sends him to face of against Jedi Knights and Masters, hunting them for the Empire, but he also must kill all stormtroopers to keep his identity hidden. After being discovered by the Emperor, he is attacked by Vader, who convinces the Emperor that he is dead, then sends him on a mission to unite the Emperor's enemies and rebels against him to weaken the Empire, while doing so he begins to respect his new allies and question his lifelong loyalties.


The game plays well with the traditional third person view of a lightsaber combat game. The different force powers are tricky, but soon mastered and using different combinations of force powers to finish off enemies soon becomes fun. Some elements aren't as well put together, such as the auto-targeting mechanism which can be quite unpredictable at times, not a problem with a room full of enemies to choose from, but taking out a boss on Sith Master level can be quite annoying if the game won't let you hit them. Big fights end with cutscene sequences, asking you to press the right button in response to what happens on screen in order to finish off a boos in a spectacular set of moves - I quite like them visually, but many have found them dissapiointing in terms of gameplay. Still with new physics and AI programming pioneered in it and a gripping campaign, if you haven't played this - you probably should.

Sci-fi stuff

OK you can't get much more blatant Sci-Fi stuff than a Star Wars title. I'll go into more detail on this in my follow-up post. There's a stack of new Jedi, new spaceships, such as the apprentice's Rogue Shadow (above) and the Empire's research vessel, new stormtrooper variants and new alien races. Star Wars is set in a rich galaxy where thousands of alien races coexist, enormous starships dominate the hyperlanes and mystic Jedi wield untold powers - it's a lot of fun to play in that universe!

Worth playing?

Yes! Whille it has it's critics, and justly so for some parts of it's mechanic were frutrating, but nonetheless this game delivers a new way to play and a fantastic setting. Not many games manage to fit an original timeframe, great new enemies and destruction and a captivating character - not since Kyle Katarn anyway! If you love Star Wars you've already bought this if you want to play a very fun game without having to know everything about Star Wars EU - this is for you too.

I'll be back with more on this game soon.