Monday, 30 January 2012

We shoot, we miss!

So, your friendly Hi-Ex! elves applied for finding from Creative Scotland, which is an organisation that funds events etc.
For example, they funded the Rockness festival in Inverness to the amount of £45,000 in order to put on a special train service from London to Inverness.

Our rejection read:

Dear Rich and Vicky

Thank you for submitting your idea to the Creative Scotland Ideas Bank.  On this occasion Creative Scotland does not wish to take your idea forward and we will not continue to hold it.  We do not offer feedback but we wish you the best of luck with your idea elsewhere.

Best wishes

Creative Scotland

Not to worry though, we will still do our very best to bring you the best weekend you'll ever have in your life... just don't be expecting any trains...

New Aliens: Colonial Marines trailer unleashed!

Oh this looks great, but we have to wait until the Autumn!?
And double points for using the music from Moon.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Shame: Conception review

Shame is the first in a new series of books from publisher Renegade Arts Entertainment.

It is written by Lovern Kindzierski, who is a well enough know, it is fair to say that the main draw (no offence, Lovern!)  for most folks will be some new strip work from John Bolton.

We’ll get to the art presently, but first, the story.

Fairy tales, for a writer, are a lot of fun to work with. There is great fun to be had in retelling classic tales in a new way and in offering your own (you hope) unique twist on a well known trope. But it quickly becomes apparent that here, Kindzierski is trying for something altogether more bold: he is writing a brand new one.

On the surface the idea – how Shame came into the world – is one of those that as a writer sounds obvious when you see someone else writing, and you wonder why you hadn’t thought of it first…

Kindzierski does it well though. This is a complex tale. The language and dialogue is arch and un-naturalistic (if that's actually a word), and because of this it takes the reader a while to get into the rhythm of it. This initial difficulty is worth the effort though, as once the reader ‘gets’ it, then they are in the proper place to read what feels like a traditional, but at the same time brand new, fairy tale.

Now, John Bolton. We all know that he’s a bit good, don’t we? Here he goes for a slightly different style than I have seen from him before, in that he is pulling in some photo references to sit alongside his more usual painted art style. Again, like the writing style, this proves jarring at first, but (again, as with the writing) serves to pull the reader into the extreme fantasy world the story is set in. Bolton has also done some incredible, and disturbing, character designs here.

All in all, this is an interesting and beautiful book, and a good start to what promises to be a very good series.


 THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship® organisation today announced the UFC® Undisputed™ 3 playable demo is now available for free download via Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, as well as PlayStation Network for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.  Consumers will explore a fantasy UFC matchup between current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.  In addition, they will relive a classic PRIDE Mode rivalry between renowned UFC fighters and former champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva.  The playable demo will also offer mirror matches, enabling consumers to play against friends or opponent AI as the same fighter, in the ultimate test of skill.  UFC Undisputed 3 is currently scheduled for release on February 14, 2012 for Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 system.


UFC Undisputed 3 will take players inside the virtual Octagon with focus on intense toe-to-toe combat, impressive visual presentation and significantly increased accessibility, including the debut of PRIDE Mode, two new weight classes and an impressive playable roster of more than 150 UFC fighters.  PRIDE Mode will enable players to fight for the first time in the renowned Japanese MMA organization and include official commentators Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros, authentic environments and notorious MMA rules, including the ability to execute soccer-style kicks, head stomps and ground knees to the head.  Finishing an opponent will be more important than ever through devastating new moves, responsive striking controls, refined visual presentation and the introduction of a brand new, graphics-based submission system.  In addition, players will now enter the Octagon with a choice between traditional and simplified gameplay control options, enabling them, regardless of skill level, to experience the intensity of UFC and nuances of MMA combat while executing simple standing strikes or more complex ground and transition mechanics.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The latest from Commando!

The latest releases from Commando have just been announced.

Commando No 4463 — The Improbable Mission

Second-Lieutenant Clement Cleveley of the Army Educational corps was a real boffin. A research student before the war, his mathematical speciality was probability theory…which didn’t really fit with anything in service life.
   As it turned out, that wasn’t quite the case which was how, instead of peacefully working at a classroom blackboard, Clement ended up charging around the desert dodging bullets with a bunch of crack SAS men.

Script: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando 4464 — Night And Fog

In Occupied Europe during the Second World War, dawn raids and midnight arrests became regular occurrences. They were feared by all the occupied peoples but soon they began to lose their ability to invoke terror.
   That’s when an evil Nazi scientist decided that it wasn’t enough just to arrest people. He wanted to make them disappear into the…

Night and Fog

Script: Alan Hebden
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak (Not Ian Kennedy as it says in the credits grenade!)

Commando 4465 — Terror Zone

It started as a routine training patrol to test five top Aussie recruits — until their radio packed in and their NCO was killed in an accident.
   Then the dense New Guinea jungle became a terror zone as a bullet flew from out of the shadows. Someone — or something — was trying to kill them…but there wasn’t supposed to be an enemy for thousands of miles!

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Commando fans have always held Carlos Pino’s artwork in high regard, and rightly so. Here he brings the clammy jungle and a band of dishevelled Japanese to life in a few strokes of the pen and brush.
   He’s giving form to a story by another long-serving Commando regular, Mike Knowles, whose plots have entertained for long enough to earn him a long-service medal and a well-deserved retirement.
   Phil Gascoine did a limited number of Commando covers, but every one was a little gem — even when he had to show an all but invisible figure in the background.

Terror Zone, originally Commando No 2673 (June 1993)

Script: Mike Knowles
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Phil Gascoine

Go and get them!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Electric Man tickets now on sale!

As you all know, during the Hi-Ex! weekend, the Electric Man chaps will be showing their movie in Eden Court cinema!

You can buy tickets for the showings HERE.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Elisabeth Sladen the Autobiography audiobook review

It is difficult to review this Audiogo audiobook as ‘just’ a book.
From the beginning, with the genuinely moving forward written and read by David Tennant, to the after word, written by Liz’s husband and daughter Brian and Sadie Miller, which is nothing short of heart breaking, this is a book that is nigh on impossible to listen to without constantly thinking about Liz and her sudden death.
Another former Who assistant,Caroline John, has the unenviable task of reading the book, although to be totally fair, she does so brilliantly.
But what of the book itself?
Obviously, the bulk of the book is taken up with memories of her time on Who, and this makes for some interesting listening.
Sladen paints a vivid picture of the BBC in the early 70s, and while things sometime slide close to the ‘luvvie’, with many people being ‘wonderful’, she is pleasingly direct when talking about those who were less than wonderful.
This is one of a few things in the book that I found surprising. I suppose the image of Sarah Jane and her all round niceness as a character. And it’s not just directors, Liz is honest about Third Doctor Jon Pertwee. While she clearly loved him dearly, she is honest enough to recognise him for his faults, but still making him come across as a thoroughly nice man.
Outside Who, there are some equally interesting tales told. Her stories of her early life and family are fascinating, and I wish that she had spent more time on them. Likewise, stories of early theatre jobs and her fledgling acting career are great.
The final section of the book, dealing with her ‘renaissance’ as an actor as she came out of retirement for School Reunion and then The Sarah Jane Adventures, seems disappointingly slight after the detail of the Who years. I’d liked to have heard more about the Sarah Jane tales and perhaps the Big Finish adventures and the like.
Still, apart from these minor quibbles, I can say that this is a very good memoir, and one that any Who fan will want on their shelf.
Still can’t believe she’s gone though…

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption review

Now, one of my guilty pleasures (well, not guilty- there’s nothing guilty about it!) is the original Scorpion King movie. The Rock is cool, there’s just no getting around that fact. And this is coming from someone who never watched any of that wrestling stuff in his life!
I was surprised to see there was a third instalment of the story, as I wasn’t even aware that there had been a second one.
Anyway, this one seems to pick up right at the end of the second movie- we get a quick synopsis of what has went before, and are then plunged straight into the action.

Victor Webster plays warrior Mathayus with gusto but no matter how hard he tries, he is not the White Dwarf of charisma that The Rock is. Horus, king of Egypt and sometime Hellboy Ron Pearlman hires him for a job, but things go complicated and there’s a load of double crossing and stuff. And something about a magic necklace and the Book of the Dead from the original Mummy movie. To be honest, it lost me a bit, but luckily there are characters who helpfully explain the plot every few scenes.
Also in the mix is a wildly overacting Billy Zane who, to his credit, is putting a lot of effort into his role as the evil brother of Pearlman’s character.
The special effects are not quite up to the standard of the huge budget original, and neither is the acting (which isn’t, I admit, saying much!).
This is very much one of those movies you watch with your brain in neutral. It is perfect Saturday night beer and pizza fodder.
Oh, and there are elephants. And ninjas. And ninjas riding elephants. That has to be a good thing, right?

Scorpion King 3 is released on DVD by Universal on 27th February and is available to pre-order now.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Johnny English Reborn review

Now, I have never seen the first Johnny English movie. And being as it was released in 2003, this sequel seems a bit out of the blue.
Did we really need a follow-up to a comedy spoof from almost ten years ago, albeit one that was a box office success?
The honest answer to this is, of course, No. We didn’t need this sequel.
The bigger question is: is it any good?
Ah, well, now we get into another territory altogether.
I’ll tell you what I thought of this movie.
I thought it was okay.
There are some very good things about it. First off, the cast is astounding. Atkinson is a fantastic actor, and is surrounded here by some equally incredible talent. Dominic West manages to hold in the swears as a fellow agent and he’s also joined by Gillian Anderson and Rosamund Pike.

Story-wise it is not actually half bad. Yes, the villain is obvious from the beginning, but it a well told and well directed tale with some very good direction and exciting action sequences.
But... there are a number of problems with it. While there are plenty of jokes in there, most of them, for me at least, didn’t quite work. I could not help but think while watching that a comedian and actor with the skill set that Atkinson possesses could probably have come up with better lines himself. And there is also the character of Johnny English himself. The writers can’t seem to decide what to make of him. He is in turn a bumbling fool who can’t see what’s going on right in front of him and a suave, capable, super-spy. Yes, you’ll say I’m overthinking it, but I’m a writer and that’s what I do.

Now, having said all that, I should point out that I watched this movie with my two boys. They both laughed like drains the whole way though and proclaimed it was brilliant, even pointing out the occasions where I laughed out loud.
So, perhaps I’m saying that cynical 40-something writers may not be the target audience of what was an admittedly fun movie, so perhaps you should bear that in mind when considering my opinion!
Johnny English: Reborn is released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Universal on 13th Februay and is available for pre-order now. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dredd vs Zombies game review

Yes! We're spoiling you folks! After too long with no reviews, here's a second one for today!

Even though 2000AD, the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, is owned by Rebellion, a games company, there have been precious few games based on characters from the comic released.
Until now we have had the FPS Dredd Vs Death and the (I think it can be argued) criminally overlooked and possibly groundbreaking Rogue Trooper. Now though, we have another game to add to the list: Dredd Vs Zombies.
This is a budget iPhone release, and by budget we mean FREE, and what you get for your (no) money is really quite remarkable.

The story, for what there is of it, is about an outbreak of zombies in Mega City One, and Dredd has to get in there are sort them out. And by ‘sort them out’ I of course mean ‘shoot them with a variety of guns’, which is something he does very well, it has to be said. This is thanks to the rather nicely automatic aiming system in the game, so the player is not reduced to spinning on their heel in a circle frantically trying to hit something.
The levels are somewhat samey, but they include a nice range of different zombie types, some of which, like the fatty zombie, are uniquely Mega City One creations, and contain a nasty surprise for the unwary.
What is very impressive though is the learning curve in the game – it is pitched just about perfectly, well, for me at least. I found myself getting just that little bit further every time I tried a level, not so far as to make it feel easy, or not far enough to  make me want to give up.
The graphics are splendid too. They are crisp and clear and for a free game, impressively detailed.
There is some great fun to be had here, and each level has good replay value as you must return to gain that oh so important but elusive extra star so as to unlock some later level.
Just one thing though, Dredd. When you say, ‘No back-up required’, I feel that you’re being a tad over-confident, arrogant almost. There is a zombie invasion! Back-up would have been brilliant!

Superman iPhone game

We're still playing catch-up with some outstanding reviews here, thanks to the post-Christmas ennui!

So here goes with a couple that should have been up a long time ago!

Superman The Game

A while ago, your intrepid team Hi-Ex! attended the Dundee Comic Book Day, where one of the talks was about this game, which was developed by Dundee based Tiger Games.
Superman as a character has been very badly served in the past when it comes to computer games. I have played quite a few of them and the biggest problem has always been Superman himself. I have never been able to understand how or why they could give Superman an energy bar. He’s indestructible, after all! So having him die because of something that (to him) is relatively minor, like an asteroid falling on his head or something like that, never rang true.
Tiger Games have managed to solve this problem however. Instead of Superman having a health bar, Metropolis does.

The game, you see, concerns you, as Superman, defending the city against escalating attacks from a variety of fronts ranging from good old Lex Luthor to crashing planes or the aforementioned asteroids.
If you fail at any of these tasks then the city takes the damage, not the Man of Steel. So when the city dies, it is game over.
Gameplay is great, with the controls simple to master. The only bugbear is the virtual joystick, which is something that you either love or hate.
Graphic are, given the size of the game, very good indeed and there are some lovely touches, like Superman leaving a blue and red trail behind him as he accelerates in flight.
Some of the gameplay can be a little repetitive – just how many spaceships can fall on one city –but for the laughable price of 69 pence, this really represents superb value for money.