Shazam! (Comic-Con Teaser Trailer)

Watch the new Shazam! trailer which (believe it or not takes place in the DC universe!) and actually looks good compared to the drivel they’ve been turning out lately with the obvious exception of Wonder Woman! Also, Ben Affleck as Batman gets a pass here, ok only two good things!! Just watch the trailer….

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The Ghost and the Darkness Review

For those of you old enough to remember, there was a trailer for this movie with the Mission Impossible VHS when it was originally released. Unfortunately, all but a few of my old tapes have since been confined to land fills not realising the pangs of nostalgia I would feel in my early 30’s. The memory of that trailer lingers and I watched the movie some years later. Check out the VHS intro below for some old school (non-skippable) pre-roll goodness;

Based on the true story of Col. John Patterson and the building of the railway bridge at Tsavo, Kenya in 1898, The Ghost and the Darkness (“G&D”) tells of two man eating lions who tormented the build site at the height of the British Empire. I wont be getting into the historical differences between the book and the movie (e,g, the actual Tsavo lions are maneless but obviously maned lions are more movie friendly) however from my reading it would appear to be a fairly on-point recollection. If you do keep this in mind, it makes the horror elements that bit more tense.

In 1996, G&D hit theatres to overall negative reviews, with Roger Ebert giving it half a star out of five, and others panning the performances of the leads Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. If you do watch it now, it actually has not aged that badly save for one or two dodgy CGI lion moments but the cinematography with Africa as the focus cannot really disappoint and Jerry Goldsmith provides an eclectic score of orchestral rousings combined with native African motifs . If anyone else hears traces of Star Trek music cues on viewing please let me know because I am convinced it’s in there!

I have no complaints with the performances of Kilmer or Douglas (maybe the Irish accent but nobody can do that properly!) but they have a good chemistry with Kilmer’s engineer providing the plans and Douglas providing the weapons. The lions themselves are real for the wide shots with some model work and puppetry used for the up-close paw and eye scenes. The natives have their own views on the origin of the lions (e.g. spirits come back to punish the white man for aggressive imperialistic expansion, etc) and name them the titular “The Ghost” and “The Darkness” and the hunt begins to kill these animals before anymore workers are ripped from their beds and their innards strewn all over the surrounding fields.

There is an excellent cast with English, African and Indian lion food filling out the roster. Val Kilmer was coming off his Batman Forever success and this was a good African epic with strong horror elements to prevent any superhero stereo-typing. MD is good in whatever he touches but does feel a little bit rushed in the character development department and his backstory is a piece of brief exposition. It would have been more effective if he came in earlier and we get to know him that little bit better. His character is created solely for the movie but serves to amp up the fear when a hunter of his reputation is tested to the limit.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s available on iTunes and DVD for now (unfortunately no BD release as yet) and the book is widely available online. The usual shopping list is at the bottom of this post.

A good story which requires some suspension of disbelief but a solid movie undeserving of the slack it took on release.

Verdict: Watch it!

Rating: 3 Simbas out of five!!

The Ghost And The Darkness [1996] [DVD] [1997] https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0000579BX/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_i_tPjbBb2X6H5JP

The Ghost and the Darkness by Stephen Hopkins

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/movie/the-ghost-and-the-darkness/id211293610

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo and Other East African Adventures https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1620874067/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_i_fUjbBb3YQXBDB

Mary Poppins Returns (Teaser Trailer)

This popped up in the news feed today, not too sure what to make of it. Emily Blunt is always a good sign but Julie Andrews she ain’t.

Not much given away here but possibly set soon after the events of the original but will have a job to live up to it’s predecessor. Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Spectre, Paddington) also features and the cast, at least, is promising.

DOOM (1993) Review (PSN Complete Version)

Ok, so I won’t bore you with the tedious details of trying to find the best version of the game to play combined with being able to capture footage for the companion video to this review! Suffice it to say that after trying the Steam, original DOS versions, etc., I settled on the PS3 PSN download playing Ultimate Doom on “Hurt Me Plenty” difficulty.

I actually skipped this one growing up, not on purpose but because my first PC came with Doom 2 and so I would’ve played that to death at the time. Obviously my gaming skills at that age were not the stuff of myth and legend they are today but I did manage to make progress but reverting to cheat codes to get the bigger weapons and skip levels (to my everlasting shame!) It would have been around this time that I was given the SNES for Christmas and my lifelong love of gaming was well and truly sewn. When I think about it, DOOM actually played a significant role in this and obviously with DOOM 2 being the first game I played, I was inevitably going to go back to the original to check it out. It is depressing that it has taken me this long to get around to it properly, what with life and all that rubbish getting in the way, but I am doing it now and that music on the opening level still tugs at the hard-rock heart strings! (Can you hear it?)

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I’ve always maintained that you cannot judge a game of this, or indeed any, vintage by today’s standards, well graphically at least. The release of DOOM (2016) was a very welcome surprise to me, it was phenomenal! Gameplay here is divine simplicity and the music is retro gold. There is actually something about it that transcends a review score because I think that you would be hard-pressed to find anyone that would say DOOM (1993) is a “bad game”. There is the movie adaptation which I kind of liked but that’s for another video. The controls are merely forward, back, left, right, strafe, use, weapon cycle and shoot. There is no platforming element, no side quests, no escort missions, no water levels, no DLC, no micro-transactions, no updates or patches…it was gaming as we all grew up with and it was perfect as it was.

You start the game as the aptly named “DOOM guy” who is left alone on a moon of Mars after the rest of the squadron have been killed and the goal is simple, get out of dodge and take as many hellspawn demons with you as possible using the biggest guns you can find. If there was one simple element that hooked me, that really solidified this game as being genre-defining, if not pioneering, and that was the presence of the “BFG”. It was not to be until a couple of years later that I actually found out what this acronym stood for. You must remember that this was well before the internet became mainstream and if you wanted game hints you had to dial a premium call number and pay through the nose to get it. If, for some reason you still don’t know what it means, it stands for “Big Fucking Gun”. I think that pretty much encapsulates the entirety of the DOOM lore in one demon shredding, green tinted haze of weaponry. Essentially, the last thing a target would see before becoming liquefied goo was the bright green flash of the BFG and the inevitable grin on DOOM guy’s face pulling the trigger. Needless to say there was probably a Joker-like grin on the player’s face as well and rightly so!
Doombfg
It has seen various versions come out over the last 25 years adding missions and the modding scene can do pretty much anything with it but for that original retro feeling of just mowing down bad guys (and I mean bad guys, no political agendas just demons from hell (Build the Wall, etc!!)) DOOM is still a fantastic game to play and that speaks not only to its impact on the first person shooter or gaming as a whole but to the quality of the game that ID Software made at the time.

We’ll take a look at its successors shortly but for now if you haven’t played it in a while go check it out and come chill on the livestream over on Twitch and share your thoughts!

AJM