Straight to Video (Game)

There have been many computer game movies, but, like comic book movies they have had a patchy past. For every Kick Ass, there’s a Kick Ass 2 just around the corner (seriously – what were they thinking?). There used to be a time when this worked the other way around. Big budget movies had quite frankly awful games made of them (and yes, that still happens), but now there’s a couple of games that are getting films made. Games that might be able to buck the trend.

Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light (about to get a Redux launch on PS4 soon) are due for the treatment – although strictly speaking the source material for those are novels, but The Last Of Us is all game – and that’s been greenlit for a movie as well.

It’s got some of the fan’s knickers in a twist. They feel that a 2 hour film won’t be able to do the game justice. Or they feel that Joel & Ellie’s story worked better as a game. Or they just don’t want to sit through the same story as a film, that they won’t get the cast right, or they just stamp their feet and winge.

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They are missing the point somewhat. What about those people who didn’t play the game? I know again the argument here is that people who haven’t played the game won’t be interested in seeing a film, but what about Defiance? If that show relied on an audience made up solely of the people still playing the game it wouldn’t have got a second series…

The story, characters and setting were all amazing, so why should people who don’t want to play the game be denied access to that?

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What’s started me on this train of thought is the fact that I’m watching Silent Hill at the moment. As far as I’m concerned, this is video game movie done right. It uses some of the characters, the locations, the plot, the music, the villains and even some of the camera angles. It’s not a shot for shot remake of any of the games, but it uses the best its of them and makes a damn fine film. Anyone who’s heard that air raid siren (and I’m speaking as someone who gets to play with a full size air raid siren from time to time at work) knows that something bad is coming… Oh, and Sean Bean is in it – AND SURVIVES!

It looked amazing as well. The sets, costumes, creature effects and especially the transition between the Silent Hill above and Silent Hill below were fantastic.  I’m not quite sure how it held on to a 15 certificate in the UK though. Not with cults, skinnings, burnings, child abuse and those nurses…

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With comic book movies making the big bucks now, maybe it’s time for computer game movies to step up their game a bit. I’ve just read that Guardians of the Galaxy is now Vin Diesel’s biggest domestic box office hit. Let that sink in for a bit…

It’s made more money at the US Box Office than any of the Fast & Furious films. Any of the Riddick films.

It’s made more money than Saving Private Ryan.

So if the Marvel and DC franchises are now the big summer blockbusters, where are the Tomb Raiders (done properly though, like the game reboot), The Assassin’s Creeds, the Bioshocks?

People have had a shot, the first Resident Evil was ok… But the rest? A bit superfluous to say the least. There’ve been a couple of Final Fantasy Films – and one of them was good. But then there’s been StreetfighterMortal KombatDead or Alive…

My fingers are crossed that something good comes out of the more cinematic style of game making and the fact that films are starting to use a lot of tricks that games have been using for a while.

Home

As much as yesterday might have been our last full day on the Isle of Wight, we seem to have crammed an awful lot in today despite the fact we caught the 2pm ferry back to Portsmouth.

Unfortunately the start of the day was packing, and trying to fit everything back into the cars. We got there in the end, but inevitably there was more stuff to take home than we brought with us. Once we’d managed to get the doors and bootlids closed we went and had breakfast. I knew I had eaten a lot this week (and the seafood tagliatelle last night was a particular highlight) but I’ve just got on the scales at home and I’m now completely disgusted with myself. Anyway, after that we headed off to Ryde with the intention of popping into Wight Trash World, the skateboard shop we’d heard about earlier in the week. We got there ok, and found the shop, but unfortunately it didn’t open until our tickets in the carpark were due to expire. From a peek through the window they did seem to have some pretty cool stuff though.

There was some slight consolation in two small facts though.

1 – Ryde is home to this little shop. So trendy it needs police protection apparently…

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Purchases may have been made. And bow ties are definitely cool.

2 – It seems that Ryde is also host to an annual Scooter Rally, and it was this weekend. An estimated 5000 scooters come to the Isle every year for the rally and it looked awesome. We might be on the look out for a Vespa now…

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Plus there’s the fact that Ryde is a nice place to visit anyway, so all told it wasn’t a bad morning.

We had a stop outside a pub before catching the ferry back and on our way into Portsmouth there was some sort of kite flying fair on the seafront which we managed to get a pretty good look at from the boat as it came in.

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The journey back from Portsmouth to Chatham was uneventful (just as well seeing as I drove from the ferry to Pease Pottage) and we’re settling back in now. The kids are away next week with their dad – to another static caravan site. Still, it means we get the house to ourselves for a week.

The Last Day

Well, the last full day at any rate.

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong at the campsite today. We woke up to the horrific news (courtesy of the kids) that the milk delivery driver was new and had decided to deliver to the campsite shop last – meaning soon (not straight away you understand) there would be no milk, leading inevitably to riots, civil disobedience, dogs and cats living together… Mass hysteria.

And then they told us that there was no water on the site either.

Priorities.

So we decided to pop out to a riverside park we’d spotted earlier in the week. It wasn’t that great, but gave the kids and dogs an opportunity to let off some steam (and I took the camera again – obviously). Then it was back to the caravan via the supermarket to pick up some essential supplies. Mainly Lemon Meringue Doughnuts and a DVD copy of The Great Escape so me and my mum could run through the dialogue together… “What are you doing by the truck?”

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Once we’d regrouped we headed back down to Yarmouth for a final afternoon of crabbing AND another dinner at the wonderfully dog friendly “The King’s Head”.

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We’re all back in the caravan now (water restored and milk in the fridge) and preparing for an evening game of Scrabble. Which is a lot nicer than it probably sounds.

Tomorrow is mainly going to be the journey home and that visit to the Skate shop in Ryde,

Coast

We’ve been around the west and south coast of the Isle of Wight today, starting at The Needles this morning. We knew from last years visit that it gets REALLY busy fairly quickly, so we set off pretty early. The car park is horrific (the gradient, not the surface) and always seems to smell of burning clutch. Anyway, we started off there, took a few photos, went on the boat trip, had a wander and then headed on round to Blackgang Chine.

We’d already been there once, but it gave the kids a chance to go on the rides and do the things they missed. It also meant I could take a few photos of the view along the south coast of the island.

So this is only really a short post, and here’s some of the photos I took today.  The tall ship in the photos is the TS Tenacious which was just coming into the Solent as we were sailing out to The Needles.

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Isle of Wight pt 2 (which is really pt 0.9 and pt 1.1 at the same time)

The reasons for this post are twofold. First, I plugged my phone into the laptop and got access to more photos, and second, I remembered other stuff we’d done.

I’ll start at the beginning.

On Saturday we drove down to Portsmouth from Kent and caught the ferry to the Isle of Wight. I drove from our house in Chatham to my mum’s house in Larkfield and then Anita drove on the motorway down to Pease Pottage Services in Sussex where I could take over again (as a learner I’m not allowed on motorways). So then I drove from Pease Pottage (near Gatwick Airport and Crawley) through Horsham and down through Worthing, Arundel and eventually to Portsmouth before driving the car onto the ferry.

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This is a big deal for me (although I appreciate it really isn’t for most people I know who have had a driving licence since forever). At about the same time as I was learning to drive when I was 17 I got my first motorbike and never looked back. There was never really a need for me to have a car licence for the next 19 years as (most of the time) it’s just been me by myself. Things are a bit different now, so I figured I’d best do something about it. At least I have road sense – having ridden bikes for 19 years you either get road sense or a lot of scars). The only problem is that I never really enjoyed, or found driving a car as natural as riding a bike. I am persevering though. On the way to the ferry we also stopped off at a Hobbycraft to pick up some stuff to do. The Weeman and I both bought model Spitfires, mine a 1:48 and David’s a 1:72. I expect they’ll be photos of those soon.

Like father like son.

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Once we’d settled in at the campsite that was really the first day done, but we did take some photos of our new surroundings after wandering down to the beach at Thorness Bay.

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It’s quite picturesque. And breezy.

Now I mentioned Blackgang Chine in my earlier post. It’s worth another mention here for being fantastically dog friendly and for being pretty good fun (and the tickets allow you to return again within 7 days – so guess where we’re going to tomorrow?)

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The Carisbrooke Castle Joust is getting another mention now. My mum is a member of English Heritage, so the whole day out was incredibly cheap as well (the only people who ended up paying were the wife and I). I think it would be good value without the added extras on this week, but with the plays, the music, the market and the jousting it’s REALLY GOOD VALUE.

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As you can see, it was quite busy as well. From what I could tell there were an awful lot of locals there, not just us tourists, so it’s obviously fairly popular on the island.

So there you go. I feel you’re all caught up on the latest gossip from the Island. There will be more to come, but for I bid you goodnight.

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We’ve been here for a few days now, but the internet access has been shaky to say the least. Even the free WI-FI we’re supposed to get on the campsite isn’t working properly. There’s 7 of us (and 3 dogs) in a static caravan in Thorness Bay on the Isle of Wight, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. We haven’t had a wink of sleep (and not in a fun way!) but we have kept ourselves busy.

So far we’ve been crabbing off Yarmouth Pier, visited Blackgang Chine, Weeman has had a skateboarding lesson, we’ve been for dog walks and watched jousting at Carisbrooke Castle. We’ve still got to go back to The Needles and Alum Bay and now (after the lesson) we’ve got visit the skate shop in Ryde.

Yarmouth is a lovely village / town. I guess it passes for a town on the island, but it’s lovely either way… There’s a pretty busy harbour, ferry terminal, pier, castle, lots of nice shops and pubs and you can easily waste a day here. We went crabbing off the pier (we caught 8), wandered around and had lunch in an incredibly dog-friendly pub. Actually, it’s probably worth mentioning right now that most of the places we have been so far have been really good about the dogs.

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Carisbrooke Castle is somewhere we visited last year and it just happened to be during their few days of medieval fair / jousting / birds of prey demonstrations. Luckily, we’ve hit the same week again this year, and as Sam and my mum hadn’t seen it before it was well worth another visit. Again, the dogs were welcome and coped with the crowds, the noise, the smells and the horses – although one of them wasn’t quite so sure about the children (not that she let them know by sinking her teeth into any of them). If you’re thinking of going to something like this, do it. It’s gigantic fun.

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Plus you get full access to the Castle. Good day out.

I visited Blackgang Chine when I was little, but I really don’t remember much. My mum on the other hand does and says it’s improved an awful lot since our last visit. Not that it was bad, just that it has invested and improved the attraction. There’s all the dinosaurs (about the only bit I do remember from my childhood visit) only now they’re animated. There’s Frontierland, Fantasyland, a couple of rides, lots of walking, plenty of places to stop and catch your breath and reasonable catering facilities. Probably the best thing about it is that kids are encouraged to just be kids and run around doing stuff like playing cowboys and indians shooting cap guns at each other. Maybe not terribly politically correct, but what 8 year old gives a monkeys when they can be locked in a prison cell, climb on the stage coach or have a look in the undertakers?

And finally (for today) the skateboarding lesson was something organised at the campsite itself. The teacher, a chap called John (with the patience of a saint) was really good with the kids and was the right balance of encouraging whilst not quite letting the kid’s imagined ability run away with themselves. David certainly loved it and I think we’re gonna have to pay a visit to the shop, Wight Trash Skateboards in Ryde on Saturday (apparently they will have Stormtroopers!).

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So that’s the beginning of our holiday. I’ll try an post something else a bit later in the week.

Oh, and finally, I’ve done a lot of driving. For those who know me, that’s a properly big deal…

 

The Battle of Jutland

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Well it’s over.

It took two days and by and large it went according to plan…

The German and British Battlecruiser Fleets met and headed south where they were joined in battle by the Kaiserliche Marine Battleship Fleet. Everything then ran back north where the German Fleet was ambushed by Admiral Jellicoe and the Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy.

As expected there were far heavier losses on the tabletop than there were at sea. There was no need to hold back, no need to worry about what would happen next week or next month if the battle got too costly for either side.

We did take a photo at the end of every turn so hopefully we should be able to come up with some sort of time lapse video in a couple of days… Hopefully.

And over the course of the weekend we spoke to people who had connections with the battle and on more than one occasion had to find particular ships to illustrate the types of vessel that fathers and grandfathers had served upon (HMS Collingwood and HMS Tiger off the top of my head). Another family had recently visited Denmark and had seen the defensive positions still there to protect the Skagerrak.

There were those who thought it was a little bit silly, and I suppose it is really. The deaths of over eight and a half thousand people can never be truly rationalised or explained with a tabletop war game, but it opened the conversation as to why it was important, why it happened and why it should be remembered. It’s certainly worth bearing in mind that Britain’s last Tommy, Harry Patch was pro-European Union.

A couple of veteran wargamers joined in each day, but so did the two lads below, Harry and Jake.

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They dragged their poor dad back in 3 times on Saturday and stayed most of the day on Sunday happily rolling dice for the Royal Navy. They also managed to paint and take home two ships of their own and they seemed to have an unerring ability roll sixes most of the time.

On top of all that there was a whole group of Scouts (from Hastings I think) who had slept onboard HMS Cavalier the previous evening. They had to be practically dragged away by their group leaders…

The types of damage on the ships ranged from almost insignificant scratches on some through bridge hits, engine room hits and at least three catastrophic magazine explosions (two out of three of those were down to Harry and Jake’s dice rolling skills).

All 250 ships made it onto the table, and if you’re wondering, they looked like this. British on the left, German on the right.

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It was at times confusing, surprising and infuriating and quite ably demonstrated how large and significant a battle Jutland had been. Over the weekend though the result was hugely in favour of the Royal Navy.

A massive thank you is due (whether they were there on the day or not) to everyone who has helped plan, design, build, test, paint or pay for the weekend and another thank you to those who participated, offered support or chatted to us yesterday and today.

The Victory at Sea Club meet within The Historic Dockyard Chatham every Thursday night and if you’d like to pop down and give it a go simply get in touch. My email address is scottbelcher015@gmail.com

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