Author Archives: Taff

Batman Live : Review

So we were lucky enough to get some tickets for the first ever full performance of Batman Live. But what the christ is Batman Live. I will avoid spoilers without some kind of warning or spoiler text.  Like this

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Batman is gay

 

 

Ah yes. A live action performance of Batman. We didn’t have a clue what to expect to be quite honest. Would it be of the levels of Spider-man The Musical which has been dogged with problems ever since it was launched, or would it be something different.

From reading previews I saw it was billed as more Adam Wests Batman than Christian Bales, with a more fun than serious storyline. The show was not a musical, more a live action performance. The show we were seeing was billed as the first full dress rehearsal and before the show out on stage came Anthony Van Laast and James Powell, the co-directors, who warned that if anything went particularly wrong then they may have to stop the show and run through things. Uh oh.

The stage itself, well when we first saw it we didn’t know what to think.

Batman Live Stage

Those tiny buildings, theyre about man size.We sat there wondering how the hell this would work, it looked quite frankly ridiculous. However as the show started it did kind of work well. The buildings were moved as needed, dropping down into the stage or being swiftly moved into the back stage arena. When there were buildings and people on stage they were treated with in a decent way – for instance the Waynes being stood out front of the cinema to represent them having just come out of a screening of Zoro, or later in the show Harley Quinn being sat on top of a replica of Arkham Asylum. While initially thinking the sets were ridiculous they actually worked quite well. Some of the later sets were also great, one highlight being a Jokers Head that was made up of henchman – its difficult to describe but when you see it you’ll love it.

The screen at the back is massive and bat shaped, and gives the different settings some depth. Between scenes it can also flick through comic book pages to show time flicking by. Its used really well at times, with some of my favourite parts being showing the descent into the batcave, or the part where a picture of someone on stage is taken by a photographer, and the “picture” flashes up on-screen in a comic book panel. Theres also a good part where Wayne details some backstory, as the screen flashes up animated versions of the events hes recalling.

The show itself is clearly geared more towards the more fun aspects of Batman. The basic non spoiler version is that its the story of Batman and Robin getting together. It starts with a brief part which shows why Batman became Batman, before skipping forward to Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon at a visit to the circus, where the flying Graysons are performing. Anyone who knows Robins back story can guess what happens there, and this develops the story into a full Batman vs Supervillans story. If you want more spoilers I’ll detail the full story at the end within spoiler tags.

Parts like the circus scene allow the show to take a side turn, with the action on stage in this part being all about some high flying trapeze stunts. The show does this at other points, with one later scene developing into a series of magic  tricks. While it is undoubtably impressive to see these kind of stunts, it does to me at least, take away from the storyline that was developing.

 

While I’m no batman expert (I’ll leave that to the likes of Good Ol’ WT or taterpie), but there did seem inconsistencies with what I would expect from the character.

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He pretty much straight up tells Dick Grayson that he’s Batman for the sole reason of getting him to stay at Wayne Manor. I think even the audience were shocked at this, because it took everyone a while to react to the “I am Batman” line

 

One real weak point for me was the fighting. Maybe this was partly because it was the first full dress rehearsal, but the fighting was terrible at times. It looked very awkward and clunky, sound effects didn’t match the action on stage and Batman in particular looked like his costume was making his movements more restricted. Perhaps one of the weakest scenes for me was Batman and Catwoman first meeting. This scene utilised the miniature building sets shown earlier, as Batman and Catwoman fought between buildings jumping from one to the other as they battled. However the movements were clunky, and their fighting looked like they were barely even trying to tickle each other. A later battle where a series of henchman battled Batman and Robin came off as much better, mainly as Robins movements in his costume seemed much smoother

The villans are given almost no back story at all, but I suppose that’s something you can expect when they pack so many characters in. You have The Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Twoface and The Scarecrow. I cant help but feel this was a mistake, as aside from Catwoman and the Joker-Harley duo, none of the other enemies get time to develop. Infact Scarecrow and Ivy show up very late in the show, and for a combined time of about three minutes before disappearing. Of the others Two Face gets a few laughs with some fun arguing amongst his two personalities when he first shows up, Riddler gets out a master plan before being pushed to the side, and Penguin gets a big entrance that gets boring quickly.

Of the people on stage, well the undoubtable star is the Joker. He and Harley Quinn get the best lines, and the best scenes. It isnt a Heath Ledger style Joker, its definitely edging more towards a Jack Nicholson style. He makes a great entrance to the stage too. Robin was a bit too over enthusiastic for me, though I suppose many Batman fans felt the same way when he was introduced to the comic. Batman, well Ive already mentioned his costume looking clunky, but he also seemed to be out of breath after any scene that required him to move. May want to rethink that design a little I think.

Despite me coming off as a little negative in the last few paragraphs I would say its a great night out. For a night out for the family I would say its great fun and a good night out. The little kids around, many of them in Batman costumes seemed to love it, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves too.

Batman Live premieres in Manchester from Tuesday 19th July before touring the UK and Europe, then jumping across the pond to open in North America in August 2012. Tickets are on sale now.

 

I just discovered Seinfeld

Seinfeld logoI’d never really watched Seinfeld until recently, despite its fame as one of the top rated American sitcoms of all time, but recently Ive been marathoning through the entirety of the show and I have to say in the words of Larry David….

Its pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good

It’s actually my first time ever watching the show properly and Im finding it much better than I ever expected. I know its a critically acclaimed show, but my only experiences of it before now were catching it at late night airings of the show at half past 1 on a Tuesday night on BBC2, often straight after a snooker tournament had aired or when I was flicking through the channels. I wasnt ever caught up in an episode, often being put off by the laugh track or the quirky sound effect that punctuated every scene change

I’ve actually only started watching it recently for two reasons

1) I love the Office, its my favourite TV show ever and I always find the mix of humour and emotion just amazing. A few months back I happened upon the above show on youtube, “Ricky Gervais meets….” which sees Ricky meet and speak with his comedy heros. The above episode (part 1 linked, but the other six parts can be found following on from that video) features Larry David who Gervais considers a genius. I’d never heard of this bloke, so I looked him up and saw he was creator of Seinfeld and star and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I figured hey if its good enough for Ricky its good enough for me. I started to watch Curb and loved it. Its a great show and “Larry David” is one of the great comedy show characters. When I got up to season 7, which is the Seinfeld reunion season, I figured I should watch Seinfeld before that so Id know what was going on.

2) Various American posters on forums I read hail it as one of the greatest shows ever, with SomethingAwful even featuring a thread where people still just quote lines from the show over and over. Even though Goons are fucking terrible with their opinions sometimes, Ive got to say they got this one right. I still dont agree that My Little Pony is one of the best shows ever tho.

Admittedly, some of the episodes do fall flat for me and the show was a bit of a slow burner at the start. However the more and more I watch it the more I find the majority of episodes, while still dated, are just pure genius.

Excuse the terrible quality of the youtube, but the above scene with the faking orgasms had me in stitches. This linked scene was even better (embedding disabled on this one unfortunately).

Ive been watching 6-7 episodes a week, more whenever I have the free time and really enjoying it.

If youre British, and never realised the fuss, its definitely worth checking out. And if youre American, Im sorry for judging you simply by Two and a Half Men.

Achievement Whoring – Virtual Legend

I hit a goal I had set for the end of the year (lol) of 3000 achievements won. This worked out at the time at 250 over 352 days. I got it in 3 months, lol.

Ive set myself a goal of getting to 100k by the end of the yea, this isnt a realistic goal, its just cause I want to track it. My actual goal is 75k and Im on target for this.

Ive also set myself a goal of beating Nibbles TA score. Obviously he plays for the more difficult achievements which get higher TA%. The thing about this is hes set himself a goal of beating my Gamerscore. Will be a fun battle.

Started at the following
TA : 89,768 vs 94,834 – 5066 difference
GS : 63,495 vs 58,430 – 5065 difference

Will be interesting to see who gets there first.

In games, I played a bunch of Lips (31/40), sent back Homefront (26/47), got a few on Borderlands (31/50), nabbed one on Crash Course (11/12) and Battlefield 1943 (11/12).

But the crowning glory was this achievement

Ive been sitting on 45 of 46 for a few weeks. Id been sitting on 43 of 46 for months. The last 3 achievements were for

1) Playing in every stadium – theres 50 stadiums
2) Playing as a team from every league – Theres around 30 leagues.
3) Playing 500 games with your virtual Pro.

1 + 2 were fairly easy to track once I’d set out to, though they were difficuly and time consuming to get. I stuck a spreadsheet on Googledocs ad loaded it up everytime I played to check leagues and stadiums off.

3 was a killer. 500 games, a minimum of 8 minutes a game, works out as almost 3 days solid of just playing Fifa. Add in the fact that any matches I lost connection from wouldnt count and you have a fucking time consuming achievo.

Thankfully, I got it this week, playing online clubs and 1k’d Fifa 11. Get the fuck in.

This week I will be mostly playing Dead Space which just arrived from my rental place. I should be getting another game in the next few days from my Top 5, which is Fight Night, Top Spin 4, Alpha Protocol (reccomended by Scotsman), Crysis 2 and Red Dead Undead Nightmares.

Homefront isnt very good.

It really isnt.

I have been playing a lot more Xbox lately, mainly because I signed up for a games rental service, and it mean while Im saving money from not buying games, I also get to play a lot more games that I get from them.

Since I signed up Ive had XMen Wolverine, NBA Jam, NBA 2K11 (which I played half a game then sent back), Spiderman Web Of Shadows, Splinter Cell Conviction and Lego Harry Potter. In all its been mainly positives for the games

Enter Homefront.

I got this on Friday, I didnt want it and had only put it in my rental list as I wanted to get Fight Night Champion which came out last week, and I thought putting a new release in there may make it more likely that they send me the game I want.

Homefront has a ridiculous story. North Koreas leader dies, and his son takes over. Shortly after Korea is reunited. Various oher things happen, then Korea take over Japan, Canada and Mexico close their borders to America due to various reasons including their instability and a birdflu epidemic. Korea launch a satelite which switches off power in America, and then invade America via Hawaii. You join as one of the rebels fighting back against the Koreans

Its just totally OTT.The game has a couple of little pieces that it expects to get a rise out of you for, including the discovery of mass graves, a kids parents being shot infront of him, and some people being tortured.  The problem is the character models are so bad that none of these are particulary moving or horrific in a way that say the Airport mission of COD4 was.

Its full of little things that annoy me. Paths you have to walk down following a colleague who blocks your way with invisible walls even though theres space to get past him. Then shortly after one of the other people on my team stood on the same spot as me and I was seeing through their body. and seeing the inside of their eyeballs – it was just so terrible.

The rebel forces arent very well equipped, so you dont have access to a lot of ammo or guns and youre meant to keep having to take stuff from enemies to ensure youre always stocked up. However there was never a moment where I felt low on ammo and that I had pressure on me to find anything. It seems silly to put such a feature in then make it have little difference.

The single player campaign is insanely short, just 5-6 hours. Even me as a complete amateur completed it easily. Some of the achievements are well done, but they do require you to play through the game about 3 times including once on the hardest difficulty in order to get 100% of them in the game.

Its just not an entirely enjoyable game. I think I’ll be sending it back this week.

I made some Scotch Eggs!

For Xmas I ended up gettng some money, and oe thingIve wanted to buy for a while is a Deep Fat Fryer. While they are obviously an unhealthy way of cooking as there is, there also certain things Ive always wanted to try cooking tha really require one.

So I was pretty happy to see that Asda had a decent one on offer for £20. I bought it, went home and promptly made some twice fried chips. This involves frying at a low heat, then letting the chips cool, then frying at a hotter temperature. They were pretty awesome, really crisp on the outside while still light and fluffy on the inside.

Today I got a chance to make something Ive always wanted to make – Scotch Eggs.

I used a Hairy Bikers recipie, which uses half sausage meat and half black pudding for the meat.

Heres some pics!

Cooking

Scotch Eggs Cooking

Cooked!

Oh My!

They were amazing!

What happened in 2010?

Because I dont really update my blog (through a combination of being lazy and having nothing to really write about) I figured I’d do a quick round up od what happened in 2010 for me.

Work

Nothing changed majorly, though there was a focus on giving me greater resposibility. At the end of the year we geared up for a move to a new building which is finalised and we start there next week. Hopefully this will lead to less stress and make it easier to get things done. I cant say I always go home happy, but its better than it could be.

Home

We moved. From the flat into a house. Move went through about halfway through the year, and we pay only about £50 more a month than we did for the flat. Its a two bedroom terrace, with a small back yard. Anyone who visits says it reminds them of Coronation Street, because out back when you leave the yard theres a back lane thats gated at either side, with all the neighbours having benches and plants out there to make it look pretty. At the moment our bit is empty. We did end up getting a BBQ (for almost £100!), and a table and chairs set for the yard and I cant wait till the weather is better so we can sit out there and chill with a book while our food cooks.

Having a house is great, theres more space, we always have somewhere to stay and its meant we have more space just for stuff, so we have a whole shelf of cookbooks in the kitchen and we’ve managed to buy a load of things we wouldnt have had room for in the house.

I ended up getting a iPhone, putting me on a phone contract for the first time since 2000ish. I dont really call or text many people, I never use my limits, but I cant say I dont use it enough. I’m always sat messing with apps, checking my email or looking at the net.

Theres talk of us looking at buying a house in 2011, but Im not so sure about that.

Love

Everythings cool with me and Rach. Chops is still round, and still awesome.

Hmm, so thats all of me for 2010 that I can think of, maybe I’ll do another one later with my movies, TV and music of 2010.

Sonic 4 doesnt seem very good

So Sonic 4 dropped this week and I was pretty excited.

I was a Sega rather than Nintendo fan when I was growing up, and I loved the Sonic games. I bought them all on Xbox Arcade and completed them all again, still loving the simplicity of the gameplay. So when they announced Sonic 4, a genuine sequel to the side scrolling Sonic games rather than a new imagining like all the recent Sonic games which featured him as a knight or ware-hog or other bollocks that made little sense, I was pretty excited.

Ive avoided all the press about the game, alll I knew was it was returning to its roots. So when I picked up the demo I was ready to be loving it.

But I didnt. 🙁

Heres a video of the gameplay

Its just lost the charm, maybe its the 3d look of the characters, maybe its because it doesnt feel like Im in control when Sonic is in the air, maybe its the retarded thing that when you jump you can lock onto things and surge towards them and crush them

It just isnt very good.

Im off to not bother buying this, and instead play Sonic 2 some more.