Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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Thursday, 30 November 2017

It's Been One Hell Of A Journey - But Where Will It End?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe in all its glory...

Admit it, you're excited for Avengers: Infinity War.

There's never been a cinematic experiment quite like this before.

Many have tried to emulate it, but all (so far) have fallen short.


Who has the last Infinity Stone?

I Can See This Becoming A Cult Favourite Around HeroPress Towers...



The stars are aligning for this one, I'm predicting greatness!

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Are All Dressed For The Blackness Of Outer Space...


Clearly black is the new black this season for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

These new character portraits makes it look like they've been clothes shopping in the same stores as the Inhumans.

In The United States, season five of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins with a spaceborne, alien-fighting arc tomorrow (Friday)

Samson, Stories, Swords, And Sandals...



Of all the fairy tales in the Bible, I seem to recall that the story of Samson was always my favourite as a wee nipper, with it being part-superhero/part Dungeons & Dragons.

Calling All Xenaphiles: Spectacular Warrior Princess Cosplay!


Very impressive Xena: Warrior Princess cosplay from costumer Sami Bess.

You can see more of her work on Facebook and Instagram, and support her via Patreon here.

 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

#RPG Mayhem In Maui!!!

Tropical Tuesday Knights: (from left) Pete, Clare, me, Simon, and Erica

As this month's Top Secret adventure was destined to end up in Maui (that's where the breadcrumbs from last month led), the Tuesday Knights went all out to make last night a "themed event".

There were an array of loud of Hawaiian shirts sported by all the men, Erica had a Barack Obama mask (famous Hawaiian after all), Rachel had got us all flowery leis to wear and - loving a good theme and a chance to decorate - decked the halls with appropriate balloons and bunting (as well twizzle sticks and  little umbrellas for our drinks!).

She also wore a rustly grass skirt - that stupidity I forgot to get a picture of!

Once the pizzas (not Hawaiian) and chocolate cake (an extended birthday celebration) had been consumed, we got down to the serious gaming - while staying 'in costume' all evening, of course.


Our secret agents are still on secondment to the American arm of ORION, and we're currently  based  out of their California office.

Picking up from last month's exploits, Bruno (Kevin's character) is hospitalised because of his leg wound, and Barry Flynn (my character) is limping from his injury, but cleared for active duty.

We returned from our operation with a prisoner for interrogation, the duplicitous secretary Heidi Buenos.

So our three other colleagues, all trained - to varying degrees - in the art of interrogation, decided to triple-team the suspected spy, aiming to psychologically manipulate her into spilling the beans.

However, Hermione (Clare's character) soon went completely nuts - scaring us (as players!) more than Heidi - and it was Ivy (Erica's character), calmly coming in late in the proceedings, who managed to persuade Heidi to give up the fact that she believed Tatyana (the missing agent we were looking for) was being held in a warehouse adjacent to the Oceanographic Institute in Hana, on the island of Maui.

Heidi also claimed to be working for the KGB, which made Ivy wonder if maybe Tatyana is actually a double-agent!

According to ORION files, the Institute is run by a Dr Lloyd Henström, an oceanographic and computer genius with a spotless record, including a term in the US Navy and published papers on marine mammals.

Our team flew - via Honolulu - to Maui, then drove a hire car to Hana before scouting out the warehouse, where we hoped to find Tatyana.

Very quickly - and surprisingly - it became clear that Bruno had been the calming influence on the group, as, abandoning any real efforts at spycraft, we swiftly formulated a plan to storm the building (after spotting a half-dozen thugs in there, sloshing petrol out of jerry cans, clearly about to torch the place).

Big M (Simon's character) and Barry entered the warehouse from one end, Ivy and Hermione from the other.

And mayhem ensued.

From my end of the warehouse, I couldn't really make out what was happening to the ladies, although I discovered later that Ivy took a bullet in her gun hand and had to retreat to the toilets to try and patch it up (she's a trained nurse, after all).

It took Barry, braced behind some metal shelving units, five shots to take down the thug he was trading bullets with, while Big M ended up accidentally starting a fire (which quickly spread) and being charged by the man he was fighting.

But they don't call him Big M for nothing - the guy ran into him and crashed down onto the floor, in  a heap, where M was able to finish him off with a bullet in the back.

A pair of goons emerged from a closed room behind Hermione, dragging an unconscious scientist (who we soon discovered was Dr Henström) from the warehouse.

Hermione and Ivy chased them, while Big M and I raced out of our end of the burning warehouse, and round the corner to see the group at the other end of the car park.

The women took out one of the thugs, and the other made a run for it, having let the scientist collapse to the tarmac.

With the last remaining bullet of his clip, Barry took the fleeing goon down with a single, long-distance, shot - redeeming himself for his poor gunplay inside the warehouse.

Ivy and Hermione moved in to check on Dr Henström, who could just be heard to say a cryptic phrase that sounded something like "poo-y-nee-how" before he passed out.

What could it mean? Barry's trivia knowledge and Hermione's military experience both latched on to the fact that 'ni hao' is 'hello' in Chinese, but I thought it was more likely to be something Hawaiian.

To be continued...


Fun Times: (left to right) Me, Erica, Rachel, and Pete

  • Next month: it's our annual Christmas event - so expect seasonal attire!

First Blockbuster Trailer For Avengers: Infinity War...


#RPG Who Says You Can't Win A Game Of Dungeons & Dragons?


"You absolutely CAN win Dungeons & Dragons."
Nice, positive, message about the power of all roleplaying games (not just the ubiquitous Dungeons & Dragons)

Weird Wednesday...

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

DVD Of The Week: Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)


In the 28th Century, Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are government operatives called back to the intergalactic hub of Alpha - the sprawling and ever-expanding 'city of a thousand worlds' that grew out of the original International Space Station.

A 'cancer' has been detected at the heart of the monumental complex and the agents are assigned to protect Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen), whose task is to excise this dark force before it destroys Alpha.

Written and directed by visionary cineaste Luc Besson, the mastermind behind such memorable movies as The Fifth Element, Lucy, The Messenger, Léon etc, and based upon the comic book series Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a visual treat, a magical alien experience unlike anything else.

Unfortunately, storywise, it's a mess.

Behind the beautiful facade, there's a paucity of substance, hampered by a confusing, rambling, and very slight scipt padded out with pointless distractions.

For instance, there's a major sub-plot - in gaming terms a 'side quest' - where Valerian has to rescue Laureline from the hostile Boulan Bathor with the aid of shapeshifting entertainer Bubble (Rihanna), that has absolutely no impact on the main plot.

Seriously, barring the two leads, none of the characters - or alien races - who feature in this lengthy segment appear anywhere else or make a single iota of difference to the overarching story.

The lack of a coherent narrative almost made me weep, because there is so much to love about this movie and I had such high hopes for it.

And this core issue is compounded by the disappointing lack of charisma from the two leads.

DeHaan is a great actor and Delevigne is one of the most gorgeous women on the planet, and they're playing a pair of bantering, flirty, characters, but hamstrung by a complete absense of chemistry between them.

This means much of the implied 'will they, won't they' dynamic comes across as more 'I wish they wouldn't' and 'please get on with the story'.

But take away the uncomfortable flirting of the leads and the superfluous sub-plots and the remaining story is wafer-thin, linear, and totally predictable (the true villain, hiding-in-plain-sight, is really obvious from the moment they open their mouth and so their eventual unmasking lacks any emotional impact).

On a positive note, Besson's European sensibilities and artistic eye means Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a mind-blowing example of universe-building at its best (at least on a par with, if not exceeding, The Fifth Element), delivering an eye-watering array of alien species and assorted little critters, as well as memorable and exotic alien worlds.

Given that the source material was a major influence on George Lucas's original Star Wars Trilogy, the couple of worlds we visit outside of the various habitats of Alpha are both fascinating environments with seemingly well-developed societies and plenty of untapped story potential.

This is definitely a setting I would want to visit again, but with a more focused and coherent storyline at its heart, and less emphasis on the rather forced 'romantic' shenanigans between the good-looking leads.

Jumanji Gets Upgraded For The Video Age...


#RPG For Tonight We Game...


Once again, it feels like an age since the Tuesday Knights got together and gamed.

November's games' night got bumped a couple of times due to holidays and work commitments, but we've finally settled on this evening as the resumption of Pete's Top Secret campaign.

Unfortunately, Kevin can't make it this evening, but his character - Bruno - suffered a severe injury last time, so it'll be easy to explain his absence as the rest of us head to Maui on the hunt for  errant agent Tatyana Ivanova.

Top Marks As Topps Marks Release Of Last Jedi With Retro Bubblegum Cards...


In a wonderful throwback to the era of the Original Trilogy, trading card company Topps has released a series of faux vintage trading cards featuring new images from the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

They did this with The Force Awakens as well, and I think this is a magnificent acknowledgement of the enduring legacy of the Star Wars brand.

As I said back in 2014:
"For those of us of a certain age, the original trading cards (some of the few relics in my Star Wars collection that I've managed to keep hold of through the years) were the first real Star Wars collectables.

When I was 10 there was no concept of action figures as collectables, but these cards were designed purely for that purpose - collecting and trading among your peers, with the aim of eventually completing the set."

Will Britannia Rule The Airwaves?


Set in 43AD, when Britain was a country ruled by powerful Druids and warrior queens, Britannia follows the reluctant rise to power of Kerra (Kelly Reilly) the daughter of the King of the Cantii (Ian McDiarmid), and her arch-rival Queen Antedia (Zoe Wanamaker), who are forced to put their differences aside when the Romans invade Britannia.

Meanwhile, rogue Druid Divis (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), the only one who foresaw the Roman invasion, finds an unlikely ally in 12-year-old Cantii girl Cait (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) in his quest to defeat Rome.

The Romans are led by General Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey), who is determined to succeed where Julius Caesar failed and conquer this mythical land at the far edge of the Roman Empire.
All episodes of Britannia will be available from January 18 exclusively on Sky Atlantic (and TV streaming service NOW TV).

I hope this is good. The concept ticks so many boxes for me and the cast is superb. So fingers crossed!

Eternals (2021) + Spider-Man (2021) + The Matrix (2021) +The Batman (2022)


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