Thursday, 27 March 2014

Starred Up - The scoop and digest

We’ve all been sent to jail, or at the very least; visited such an establishment.

To those who doubt, I assume you've never played Monopoly...

Classic Australian soap Prisoner, more affectionately known as Prisoner: Cell Block H was my first stint down the block.

It was admirably reimagined as Wentworth Prison and I’m already looking forward to Season Two.

The only thing more famous on television tasted of Porridge.

America did time with the hard-hitting series Oz.

Ignoring remakes, Burt Reynolds and his eventual Mean Machine effortlessly combined comedy and drama, with a rousing American Football finale.

All brawn and very little brain scream Van Damme and Stallone vehicles Death Warrant and Lock Up.

Still, both are entertaining.

Cheating slightly, the highlight of Tango & Cash is when framed super cops Kurt Russell and again, Stallone are sent to experience life on the inside.

Escape Plan was better than what I thought it would be.

Warrior Tom Hardy starred as Britain’s most violent prisoner in stylised biopic Bronson.

The Shawshank Redemption and Escape from Alcatraz are instant classics for very different reasons.

A Prophet and Cell 211 are excellent contributions brought by France and Spain respectively.

You don’t have to be an inmate to know terminology such as ‘screw’, ‘the hole’ and ‘clink’, but ‘starred up’ may have passed you by.

It’s slang for when a young offender is transferred to an adult prison.

Plot details and/or spoilers will be subject to lockdown.

The horses not leaving the stable include:

Jack O’Connell – Eric
Ben Mendelsohn – Neville
Rupert Friend – Oliver
Peter Ferdinando – Spencer
Sam Spruell – Deputy Governor Hayes

After being escorted to his cell, Eric Love transforms essential teeth cleaning aid to makeshift weapon by attaching a razor blade.

He does this by burning bristles, rather than bridges.

Inevitably, ripples are made in a pond that was relatively quiet and amongst the carnage is father Neville.

Eric isn't the kind of pussy to drink sour milk.

Put it this way, an officer is grateful for therapist Oliver’s timely intervention as Eric decides against removing his testicle.

A volatile relationship ensues as progress and a connection is made.

We also learn that Neville is gay, Spencer is the prison crime boss and Eric makes push ups on your knuckles easier than it looks.

Oliver asks session regulars to look after Eric and when he’s attacked by balaclavas, they duly oblige...

Visits from dad fall flatter than a punctured pancake and when Nev reacts to a guy looking at him funny during a meeting, emotions run high.

When taking a shower, Eric is apparently strangled but playing dead fools the aggressor who is subsequently subdued.

Bubbling with rage, he gives a guy the most unwelcome shave.

While queuing up for prison slop, Eric chastises Nev for embarrassing him during a session.

As the kettle finally boils, fists do the talking in a cell.

Eric accuses Nev of letting him win and the reward of temporary hatred is solitary confinement for both.

Now or thereabouts, Oliver goes for Hayes when Eric is labelled a waste of oxygen and subsequently leaves quietly.

Falling for Nev’s claims of discomfort, Officer Self unlocks his cuffs but this gesture of goodwill isn’t reciprocated.

The climatic scenes run concurrently.

Nev visits Spencer and when Self is found wrapped like a baby, they beat the shit out of Eric and fashion a noose from a sheet.

Spencer is killed and when Nev clears the danger, he orders Hayes to cut Eric down.

Eric survives and the bent Hayes radios in the incident as an attempted suicide.

Before Nev is bundled in a truck for an imminent transfer, compassion is shown for Eric to say his goodbyes.

As pleasantries are exchanged, “I’m proud to be your father.”

David Mackenzie’s film is nothing short of excellent and paints a brutal picture of everyday prison survival.

O’Connell’s performance is so electrifying, it could power the National Grid.

Apart from boasting oodles of charisma, his mercurial temperament demands sympathy and orchestrates every situation.

Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend score silver and bronze respectively and produce more venom than a cobra.

The atmosphere and tension between father and son has never been so palpable.

Drawing from his own experience as a therapist in HMP Wandworth, Jonathan Asser’s script is superbly blue.

Violence is never ridiculous and almost flawless in its unflinching approach to every confrontation.

This will never be a blockbuster, but is a blockbusting film.

Despite all the superlatives, does this do enough to finally dethrone Alan Clarke's Scum; the undisputed daddy of the genre?

Not quite and nothing ever will, but the prospect of Carlin squaring up against Eric Love would make for a mouth-watering match up.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

300: Rise of an Empire - The scoop and digest

Since bursting onto our screens with the ballsy remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Zack Snyder is a director with ambition.

The comic book adaptation of Watchmen was incredibly drab, Man of Steel visually impressed but struggled with similar tedium and Sucker Punch was a video game missing a joypad.

So, a mixed assortment from a limited bag but 300 was undoubtedly his breakthrough.

This smash may have been the result of Frank Miller’s novel but decades before, 1962 film The 300 Spartans was basically the inspiration behind his etchings.

Richard Egan, Anna Synodinou and David Farrar played King Leonidas, Queen Gorgo and Xerxes respectively.

Anyway, now relegated to part producer; Noam Muno wears the sandals.

Based on Miller’s graphic novel Xerxes, this serves as both a prequel and sequel.

SNK’s flawed Samurai Shodown III was subbed Blades of Blood.  Expect a similar substance to drip from more traditional pointy sticks...

Plot details and/or spoilers will be brought in the heat of battle.

Causing much death and destruction on the Aegean Sea include:

Sullivan Stapleton – Themistocles
Eva Green – Artemisia
Lena Heady – Queen Gorgo
Rodrigo Santoro – King Xerxes

Our Queen Gorgo tells a good story as during the Battle of Marathon, the good King Darius is the subject of a very good Robin Hood impression by Athenian General Themistocles.

The legendary Ralph Richardson was first to portray the titular char.

Xerxes mourns his father’s death and Naval Commander Artemisia hands the challenge of him taking a leisurely walk in the desert where he stumbles upon a hermits’ cave.

After bathing in a golden liquid, he emerges invigorated as the so-called God-King and declares war on Greece.

Themistocles uses political persuasion to arrange a fleet of ships so he can attack the Persians at sea.

We learn that Artemisia had an unhappy childhood and the reason behind her ruthlessness.

Although born Greek, she effectively became Persian when witnessing the rape and murder of her family by hoplites as a child.  She was subsequently used as a discardable sex object and left for dead on the streets of Persia.

Pitied and trained by Persia’s finest warriors, she later rose to prominence by murdering the many enemies of King Darius.

The battle for Greece begins at sea and using ships as a makeshift battering ram on opposing vessels ups the Persian casualties.

Excited by Themistocles’ impressive combat strategy, he accepts Artemisia’s invitation and is escorted by masked guards.

Unsheathing his sword, he takes her ‘roughly’ from behind and satisfies insatiable lust.

Despite this very personal embrace, he snubs a merger and she swears vengeance.

Humph!  That’s gratitude for you.

The tsunami of battle continues and when tar is spilled, the situation becomes explosive when suicide bombers are introduced.

By now or at some point, Leonidas and his loyal 300 have been killed by Xerxes.

The traitorous Ephialtes (who remains one hell of a catch), is spared by Themistocles so he can alert Xerxes of his forces congregating at Salamis.

Amidst the mayhem of Greek and Persian bloodshed, Themistocles and Artemisia face off.

“You fight harder than you fuck.”

She scoffs at the opportunity to surrender and pays the ultimate penalty...

Along with the help of Gorgo and her allied associates, they and Themistocles charge to presumably defeat the remainder of Artemisia’s army.

This was particularly entertaining and a worthy follow-up to the much lauded original.

Battles fall short of exuding genuine excitement but are spectacularly shot, with CGI looking entirely convincing.

Violence is still stylishly gratuitous and remains almost cartoon-like, comparable to video game MadWorld and appropriately; the hugely successful God of War.

Slow motion predictably drags its heels, but not to the point of watching sloths racing through quicksand.

Although the script is competent, ‘for tonight, we dine in hell’; is not replaced by a suitable equivalent.

When sex shakes the canvas, Artemisia’s guards look at one another with comical jealously.

For a blink and you'll miss it moment, this is better than anything brought by dreary spoof Meet the Spartans.

Stapleton's shoulders handle the pressures of primary interest reasonably well but Butler’s screen presence was undeniably more powerful.

Jack O’Connell does what he can with a minor role that offers little scope.

Providing historical inaccuracies are given a fantastical wide berth, there are worse reasons for a six pack to be displayed.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

CD Deja vu - Revival

Nothing's ever dead until it's buried.

Here's several more that excitedly ring my shoplifting bell.

A full index will follow to compensate for captions and while most are in pairs, some break the trend.

Phantom Planet - Is Missing vs The Beatles - Please Please Me




Exactly the same principle remains on best of compilations 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, more commonly referred to as the Red and Blue albums respectively.

Breton - War Room Stories;
Six By Seven - Love and Peace and Sympathy; and
House of Love - The House of Love

The use of butterflies just about does it...




Radiohead - The Best Of vs Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here



Future of Forestry - Twilight vs Marillion - Sounds That Can't Be Made



Earlimart - Hymn and Her vs Richard Ashcroft - Human Conditions



Explosions in the Sky - Take Care Take Care Take Care vs Elbow - Asleep in the Back



The principle of a...

The Pigeon Detectives - Up, Guards and At 'Em! vs Orchestral Movements in the Dark - Orchestral Movements in the Dark



and b...

The National - The National vs The Divine Comedy - Casanova




Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak vs Foo Fighters - One by One



Neon Trees - Picture Show vs Glasvegas - Euphoric /// Heartbreak



Old Man Groom - No vs Massive Attack - Collected

Midlake - Antiphon vs The Best of Doves - The Places Between



Massive Attack - Blue Lines vs Sticky Little Fingers - Inflammable Material



You know where I'm coming from but this however, is particularly great.

Third Day - Revelation vs Radiohead - Hail to the Thief




Phantom Blues Band - Inside Out vs The Comsat Angels - Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones




The daddy of this mob is provided by The Electric Soft Parade - Holes in the Wall



21 is the blockbusting album from Adele.



The Very Best Of... Sting & The Police says it's a barefaced, steaming rip-off.



Brilliant.

Lapalux - Nostalchic vs Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs



You could also throw Sticky Little Fingers - Nobody's Heroes into the mix.


With this final pair, I scare myself.


Brian Eno - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts vs Alex Reece - So Far



Holy... shit!

Congratulations.

You've inadvertently unlocked the Hidden Stage and only those nuttier than a fruitcake would choose not to investigate.

These look interesting enough but are messier than a dirty nappy.

Cass McCombs - Big Wheel and Others



Phantom Planet - Phantom Planet


 Yeah, I'm not a fan of either.

Temples - EP



The Flaming Lips - Peace Sword


The Black Keys - Turn Blue


Fancy giving your eyes some exercise?  Good.

Destruction Unit - Deep Trip



Hypnotically clever.

Thom Yorke's debut solo album The Eraser sparked inevitable speculation that Radiohead were on the verge of breaking up.


Apart from what obviously didn't happen, the guts is very similar to the former but strangely, doesn't have the same effect.

Before it ends.

Field Music - Write Your Own History



Yeah, don't tell me you haven't spent a minute of so reading...

Ha ha.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

R-Type and Assault of the Familiars.

As promised, the R-9 steps up and by hook or by crook, there was an R-Type in every shmup.

We'll play this by ear but with a lot of cheer.

To increase the tension, I'll detail regular enemy and boss names (aliases excepted) that feature in R-Type and R-Type II.

When possible, monikers will also be assigned to others.

Unless stated, all images are captured from the arcade.

First off, the meat of C64 controversy king Denaris is happy to get this party started.

Sonar (left)
Zoid (left)
Bold (left)
An unsubtle background steal.


Cytron (left)
Finally, X-Out is mine, all mine.  (C64 version shown).


Now let's see what Aicom's Pulstar on Neo Geo is made of.



Gouger (left)
Dop (left) gives chase and becomes an uninspiring boss.
It looks pretty innocent but the insect things move around the screen in a similar fashion and strategy is needed to progress.

Harsh (left) from R-Type II
Forget Denaris, Blood Money on the Amiga took the piss.


Worm (left)
This floor also rings a bell...

Parodius Da!, Konami 1990
Boss 'tributes' from Pulstar.

Cyst (left) and Iveprowfent
That very curious name has given me a headache so I took ibuprofen, rather than paracetamol.

It's not done yet as the 'penis' is cut and pasted from another boss in R-Type II.

Barakus
Awesome, right?  Fucking hey it is.


To finish up, please note the waterfall and POW Armour.
The snake thing emerging from the openings provided by giant maggot boss Ohme in Capcom's Ghouls 'n Ghosts behaves in a similar manner to the worm that goes in and out the tubes of Cyst.


Aicom's masterpiece creates a tinkered design.

Subatomic (left) from R-Type II and Natsumi
Planet destroying weapon Subatomic was built from the corpse of Dobkeratops.

Andro Dunos was a very shitty 1992 Neo Geo effort by Visco.

Here's an equally shitty attempt to disguise 'inspiration'.

Rios (left) from R-Type II
I mean, come on...

In BlaZeon, you begin as a spaceship but a special zap later from your tranquilander on certain enemy robots allows you to assume the role of a Bio-Cyborg and with it, their powers and abilities.


A scene from the intro to demonstrate the 'blue' front of your craft.
Right Atlus, you're busted big time.


Compiler
Three individual parts that clamp together to become one?

Ha ha!

This boss from Denaris moves around unpredictably and doesn't split, but smacks of relevance.
While Metal Gear has Solid Snake, this variety is infinitely more famous.


Shell
Its durable outer casing is to blame for the misleading name.

Here's how others interpreted such an iconic creation.


Slayer (left) and IO (right), both on C64.
Project X (left) and Katakis (right), both on Amiga
Pulstar has its own brilliant boss monster.

Kuuka
Mothership or Battleship?  That is the question.

The former can be The Very Best Of Led Zeppelin and the latter is a supreme cinematic turkey.

Anyway, however you label this particular obstacle, Irem ensured they became staple diet and an impossible act for others to follow.

Admire the genius provided by the Warship.
The boosters are called Spare Engines and the spiny thing is known as the Multiple Gun Tower.  Representing another
questionable phallus, you must survive or destroy the Core.
The Dirty Dozen is a classic 1967 war film and I present the alternative cut.





Trust SNK to be greedy...

Amongst the mayhem of R-Type II in 1989, Irem branched out with X-Multiply by literally injecting alien parasites inside a living human host and miniaturized spaceship (X-002) must stop at nothing to 'cure' the infection.

Saturn owners could enjoy pixel perfect versions of this and Image Fight in 1998.

Aside from that little history lesson
...



Pulstar's biological behemoth is a modified Rokusu, particularly when you consider the fin-like wings.

Can you rip off the cliche of fleeing an explosion, usually associated with an action film?

R-Type II (left) and U.N. Squadron (right)
On this evidence, yes.

To wrap this package up, you must adapt to my way of thinking.

It's apparently Life or Death (left) in Pulstar's rather troublesome final stage and adjacent is the depressing ending when the Cerberus is used in R-Type Delta (PS1).
In R-Type Final, it appears as a boss in the hidden stage Forest Watchdog.

Is it pure coincidence that the R13 is a little stuck?  We'll never know...

While this marks the end of another eventful journey, the Bydo will be back as there's even more to disclose.

To complete the final assault, cancel all prior engagements because tickets for Metro City are selling out fast.

Commence maniacal laugh now. 

Yah ha ha ha, yah ha ha ha.

If that's not accurate, then I'll be Damnd.
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