Starting Over

27 07 2016

Rizzoli and Isles

Back in May, I hit a low point. For personal reasons I will not discuss what exactly was making me low, but in order for me to give this blog some meaning, I just needed to point that out. Anyway, I got low, one day I was really, really down, ended up wasting the whole day, not accomplishing or doing anything. There were games on my Laptop that I just did not want to play. There was some writing I just did not want to write, and on TV, there was nothing I wanted to watch. I had a whole load of shows to watch on catch-up, but just did not want to watch anything, even the shows I was really enjoying. Since then I have managed to reach up and get out of my low point, but one consistency remained; that of me not wanting to watch anything I had recorded on TV.

Quantico

I have come to the point that currently, there is nothing worth watching on TV. I have sort of grown out of Holby City, I am several seasons behind Arrow, The Strain is not back until roughly September, Top Gear is Dead!, and Robot Wars has no start date yet (at time of writing). Even though there are still shows on that I enjoy such as Castle, and a little bit of Quantico, I just have no interest in watching anything on TV at the moment. Basically I am bored and disinterested. I suppose I could watch Game of Thrones but first I need to get permission off my Dad to watch them.

I do not know if it’s just that time of year or something, but right now, there just appears to be nothing on TV. Perhaps it’s my mood or disinterest, but right now TV just feels empty, if it wasn’t for Rizzoli and Isles repeats, new episodes of Bob’s Burgers and new episodes of The Big Bang Theory (and apparently New Girl is to return soon too). A few weeks backs though I got some help from a new friend at church. I told him all about the above, and he told me what I needed to do. That was to find something new. Well, I think I have found it, but I wouldn’t exactly call it new.

Breaking Bad Season 1 Poster

A few weeks ago, I took some old DVD’s and games into CEX in Lancaster and got some stuff in return. My plan there was to look out for something in particular. I got some Bill Bailey Stand up DVD’s, some PS3 Games, a copy of the fifth season of Breaking Bad (having trading in the previous 4), but most of all, I got he first season of Arrow. Arrow is not exactly new to me, I have in fact been something of a fan of the show since it first started, but there was a complication. You see, when it first started I did manage to watch the first whole series and I really enjoyed it. So, I waited for and watched the first few episodes of season 2, then something bad happened. I don’t remember the full way round of the details, but the episodes were recorded on a machine, but then I think the machine got corrupted (possibly thanks to some episodes of The Tudors), and the machine was swapped, therefore I lost all the episodes of Arrow season 2 I had not watched yet. I put on a record for the other episodes, but after a while it became obvious I was not going to catch up effectively. So I deleted them and instead planned to purchase season 2 when it got released on DVD. Then however, when it did get released, it was pretty expensive, so I decided to wait until it dropped in price. Meanwhile season 3 had begun, and by the time that I did get a copy of Season 2 (nearly a year ago now), Season 3 was done with 4 on the way. As you can see I have fallen really far behind. In the meantime, season 2 on DVD has remained unwatched while over the last few weeks I have gazed too and throw at season 4’s episodes.

Arrow

It’s always been a plan of mine to get back into it, but I never could work out how, until I came up with a plan. The plan was to start from the beginning. Get a copy of Season 1 on DVD, watch that, then Season 2 and beyond. And so far (at time of writing), it appears to be working. I have watched the first episodes of season 1 and am able just to sit down and enjoy them one after another, no worrying about what will happen or anything like that, just plain old enjoyment of a TV program. Currently I do not know if it will last, if I will be able to enjoy Arrow to the full, or if I will hit another low point and not want to watch it anymore. But, I may as well enjoy it while it lasts, and then find something else to watch when it is all over.

GENEPOOL (suppose it will keep me going until the rumoured X-Men TV Series comes along, not unless it turns out to be like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Uninteresting).

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Top 5 Robot Wars Robots

20 07 2016

New Robot Wars Logo

In 1998, a TV Show began airing on BBC Two that would change Friday Night Programming for many years to come and would become a highlight in many people’s TV Calendar’s. It was a show about engineering, construction, but mostly fighting. The show was called Robot Wars and each week involved people from all walks of life, stepping into an arena with a homemade contraption of weaponry and forcing it to fight with another homemade contraption of weaponry. It was so much fun, it was new, exciting, revolutionary, futuristic, but above all…fun; and now it’s back. Yes, coming soon to BBC Two, the game show about creating but most of all destroying robots returns for a brand new run. I have been excited since the day it was announced, and have already begun to celebrate: my profile picture on Facebook is a picture of my favourite robot from the original show, and I have written a post about the House Robots from the original show too. It has been my goal to write a post though on my Top 5 Robots from the original show, and now that teaser trailers have already been appearing to air on BBC Two for the last few weeks, I thought I should better hurry up and write it.

It has been something of a struggle trying to choose my Top 5. There have been so many great Robots (Steg-O-Saw-Us, Rameses II, GBH, Dantomkia, Cassius, Pitbull, Dominator 2, Roadblock, Panic AttackBerserk 2Pussycat and Behemoth to name but a few) in the show’s history, and whittling them down to 5 was going to be hard. My top 3 were easy as they have always been my top 3, but choosing another 2 was hard. Number 4 was chosen over time as eventually it made sense that it would be in the Top 5, while the 5th position was being fought for by 3 machines. At one point I was sure that it would be those 3 machines holding that title equally, but then it came to mind that one of them stood out more than the other 2 (Tornado and Dreadnaut): so I got 5. Anyway, enough of how I chose the 2 bottom machines, here is the list of my Top 5 Favourite Robots from Robot Wars (original series).

Trident

5. Trident –During series 3, a new format was introduced in the form of more battles, less trials. Because of the more pro wrestling style format; more of certain performers would become firm fan favourites in the future. Many of the future crops of Robot Legends did not actually debut until the third wars with such (and other related) robots as: Firestorm, Wild Thing, Bigger Brother, 101, Spawn Again and Hypno-Disc. One thing though that was good about series 3, it was still virtually about homemade machines that anybody could enter, and still make a name for themselves with relative ease. As the show progressed, some teams poured thousands of pounds into their machines making it look more like a professional gig rather than a fun thing to do. Series 3, and 4, were the place to be, with some machines still carrying that homemade feel, while also making some really interesting designs, and one such entry that stood out more than most (at least for me) was Trident. Trident was an interesting design, it seemed to be very long, and a bit over balanced, but kept upright. It shined both gold and silver, had a triangular wheel axle and a pretty impressive axe. It debuted in series 3 and reached the semi-finals with ease. It stood out for me as 1 it had an Axe and 2, it just looked pretty awesome, but still looked like it could deal a world of hurt to whomever it challenged. I don’t know what it is specifically that makes it stand out for me, except maybe for a flare of je-ne-sais-quoi, which is more than most robots had.

Mace

4. Mace – As the second wars dawned, it was still anyone’s game as to who will achieve immortality. By series 2, Weapons still had a point, and the age of flippers was still over a year away, lifters had more purpose than flippers, and a good weapon would always go far. Series 2 though was a time for new blood to join the fold, as more and more people got in on the act and wanted to compete, and into this fold came Mace. Mace was very box like in shape, but on the front it came with a sort of sloped angle which easily merged with its thin but still effective lifting arm, and while mostly for rear defence, it came with a terrifying looking flail, possibly the only time in the show’s history where one of those was actually effective. It wasn’t the most terrifying of robots, nor was it a looker, for the most part it looked more like a thin shopping trolley than anything else, but Robot Wars is not about looks: it’s about conquest, war and the fight to be the very best, and Mace on several occasions showed that it too followed this belief. It may not have been the hottest date at the prom, but it was definitely one you did not want to meet outside. Mace would appear in both Series 2 and 3 and on both occasions do pretty well and carries an impressive fight record of 6 wins and 2 losses. While it may never have won a title; it is clear that Mace is a bona fide Robot Wars Legend.

Chaos 2

3. Chaos 2 – During series 3, and beyond, a terrible curse was brought into Robot Wars, one that: to cut a long as tory short; basically the show became more about flipping robots around and out of the arena rather than causing any damage. There was some pretty impressive weaponry, but if you did not have a flipper, you were nothing, pretty much. It stayed like this for quite a while. Anyway, while the show became mostly about flippers, some stood out that were worthy of carrying them and showed what Flippers could do. One Robot more than most stood out, and is the only robot in the show’s history to win the Grand Championship more than once, in fact it won it two years in a row: Chaos 2. Chaos 2 had something of a stumpy small body, and looked like a car in design; however size is not everything, as Chaos 2 proved. With Chaos 2, it was all about the flipper and the power within, the robot was designed with that in mind and it worked as a self-righting mechanism too. It was quite a nippy machine too, one that zoomed around the arena quite happily, which is more than could be said for its opponents. Yes, it may not have had a proper weapon, but everything else in mind, Chaos 2 was a pretty cool little machine.

Killertron

2. Killertron – During the show’s first series, the term War suggested lots of robots fighting each other to the death, and while the machines were a load of contraptions made from stuff around the house, the Weapons were anything but, and Killertron was the first one to show off a viable and destructive weapon. Killertron was an Axe Robot unlike most of that class. It would become more common place in future wars (with robots like StingerThor and Terrorhurtz), but at that time Killertron was the only robot to have an Axe that could attack on two sides rather than just one. The Axe was terrifyingly big, and thanks to the machines design of Big Wheels in the middle, and small on the front and back, The Axe came down with more force than most. Killertron would actually have a successful career, making it to the Heat final in series 1 and the grand final in series 2. From there it sort of got lost in the pages of robot history, but thanks to its terrifying weapon, it’s pink and yellow (and orange) colouration, it’s strange wheel design, and generally how good and amazing it looked; the show for those of us who remember the first episode got a treat but also a taster into what this show had in store for us all.

Mortis

1. Mortis – Throughout the show’s entire run, one robot stood out for me more than most. It was this tracked tank like vehicle, and it sported an impressive Axe (or Tanto Blade as it was called) that from the moment I saw it, just fell in love with it. From then on, it became a case of me cheering it on, and even when it was retired after series 4, I had hope that maybe one day, it may return. Yes, it never was UK Champion nor never reached a grand final (it did win the War of Independence for the UK though), but I always knew it should have been champion, and was pretty annoyed every time it was eliminated. Firstly it had an Axe, and then it gained a lifting arm. In the course of the show’s history, it was the most expensive machine built but sort of relatively underperformed and gained numerous faults, but when it was working just right, it showed everyone how capable it was of causing widespread damage to all its competitors. Many roboteers feared and loathed it and beating it in battle was considered a badge of honour by many. In hindsight, maybe it came in a bit too early, and was better built for later competitions, with some beating it by luck in the first couple of series; but from those early years onward, it remained my favourite; and while it has not been seen since, Mortis is still my Favourite Robot Wars Robot.

GENEPOOL





ME3

13 07 2016

E3 Logo

“On my business card, I’m a Corporate President. In my mind, I’m a Game Developer. But in my heart, I am a Gamer”

Satoru Iwata.

It’s one of the biggest events of the year on the video gaming calendar. Many people travel many hundreds if not thousands of miles to be a part of it, and witness the colossal event that is simply known as E3. Every year the Los Angeles Convention Center becomes a hot bed for video game companies, developers, websites, magazines, fans and corporate personal all traveling in from all corners of the earth to discover and show off what they see and believe to be the next step and future of Video Gaming. Since the first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 1995, E3 has grown to become the major event that it is today, and is synonymous with all the above. Say the name E3 to any video game fan, and they will instantly know what you are talking about. It has become the location and event where some of the biggest moments and announcements in the history of Video Games have come to pass, from the reveals of new consoles, to the launch sites of new games and content. If you want to know what the next big thing in gaming is, there is a good shot that the ideal time and place of where to at least find a hint, is none other than E3.

E3 Expo

Over 10 years ago, I got my first taster and understanding of E3 from the magazines I read at the time. The main magazine I had access to was CUBE Magazine. CUBE, was entirely dedicated to Nintendo Games, and every year like all other major video game magazines, they would include a spread on what happened at E3. As the years went by and as magazines such as CUBE disappeared, my knowledge and desire to keep up to date with the events of E3 continued, and eventually I would look into topics and details on my own. Being a kid with little pocket money it was never really going to be the case that I would get to go to E3 but the dream was there, that must count for something. I was a dedicated follower of E3, and loved to watch the Press Conferences, in fact, that became a staple viewing of mine every May-July (whenever it was on). But slowly over time, I just sort of stopped looking into E3. I had no more magazines to look at, and as my interest in most current video gaming sort of side-lined, I just completely forgot about E3. Recently of course E3 returned, and all the news pouring in brought it all running back to me. I did not watch any of the press conferences, but I did feel a run of nostalgia, and thought I would write a post on me and E3 (or rather corny: ME3).

GameCube

Back at the dawn of the Millennium, I did not really have much in the way as a gamer other than a Game Boy Pocket (which was actually a replacement as the much bigger Yellow Game Boy was stolen). A few months later though that changed with my first real home games console (rather than a hand-held), that in the form of a Nintendo 64. I had a lot of fun playing on that machine, playing on games like Goldeneye 007, F-Zero X and Pokémon Stadium. A few years later I received a Nintendo GameCube for Christmas, and I still have it. It still works brilliantly and I still have many of the games I used to play on it originally such as Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, James Bond 007: Nightfire, and my all time (GC) favourite; F-Zero GX. It was at this time I started getting CUBE magazine and first heard about E3. Originally I thought nothing of it; that was until about 2005. CUBE used to supply little GC sized discs with their magazines. These had two format’s, one they could be used for game cheat codes for the Game Cube, while the other disc was a DVD’s showing off trailers for upcoming games as well as sales ads for Action Replay. Anyway, in 2005 on of the DVD’s I got included video footage of Nintendo’s E3 conference for that year. It was not the best quality I have to admit, but it certainly was entertaining. It was my first real taste of E3, and would develop into me wanting more. I can remember it quite fondly, it had appearances from future regular Reggie Fils-Aime, it talked about games such as Nintendogs and Electroplankton, it revealed details of the Game Boy Micro and even featured appearances from both Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata. Mr Iwata’s appearance though gave me one of the most memorable moments of E3 to date. Mr. Iwata stood up on stage and took out of his pocket a small black box; a small black box that would become a main feature of a great many homes worldwide in just a few years.

At the time it was called the Nintendo Revolution; but in just a year’s time at the next E3, it would become known as the Nintendo Wii. The reaction from the audience, plus the way it was revealed remains for me one of the truly great moments in E3’s history. It would not be until E3 2006 that things would really take off. For the most part, E3 and I was all Nintendo. I had a Nintendo console and read the appropriate magazines. For me and gaming at the time, it was either Nintendo or PC. So for the first few years, me and E3 was all about Nintendo. As I was not able to physically attend, most of the news and E3 experience I got came down to watching the press conferences, but I didn’t mind, the Press conferences for me then and since have always been the highlight, and even when I would look at other companies Press conferences, for me Nintendo’s was always the highlight. My E3 experience took off a little more in 2006 at, well; Guess Who’s Press conference. I received a sort of cut and trimmed DVD presentation copy off Official Nintendo Magazine (no more CUBE, they just stopped producing, no farewell, no nothing). The show was no more than about 10 minutes long but still opened with Reggie, and featured appearances from Miyamoto and Iwata as well as a few others. It would not be until the personal discovery of YouTube and still a few years before I would get a good watch of it. For me, the 2006 conference remains (possibly) my favourite. It’s been a while since I watched it fully, but the things I do remember I do fondly. The stage, the opening doors, choices of music, the reveals of games and hardware as well as the important discussion notes regarding the main star: The Wii. For me though, the major thing I remember most is the opening. Miyamoto dressed like a conductor, brandishing a Wii controller and directing a digital orchestra. This was followed by some more music and on stage demos by a couple of guys (probably display models from The Price is Right), presenting live play footage of two of the consoles early and premium titles: Red Steel and Excite Truck; such an awesome sight.

As you can probably tell, by now I was a committed fan of E3 for several years, especially for Nintendo. The following year in 2007, I was able to watch the conference properly on a laptop, not a live stream of Nintendo’s conference, but a pre-recorded one. It was still a big one, with the main topic being the Wii’s success and the show talked in detail about new exciting games such as Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit. From 2007 onwards, I became a fan of a TV show on the now deceased UK channel Bravo called Gamer.TV. Gamer.TV, or simply Gamer TV to me, gave me a route into the rest of E3.

Reggie Fils-Aimé

In 2008, what should have been yet another great year for Nintendo at E3 was sort of ruined. It was not a good presentation, it was very low-key and was blotted by a new presenter, that of Cammie Dunaway. Reggie had always been the main presenter for Nintendo at E3, but in 2008 for some reason he was sort of replaced by Dunaway. Now no offence intended to somebody who is supposedly a corporate whizz, but in Gaming terms, and especially E3 terms, Dunaway was not a good presenter. She presented herself as something of a Mum like character, spent a lot of time bending over backwards and her suit was just flying all over the place. She was very distracting. There are many people on a corporate level who have presented at E3 in the past, many of whom could be considered not just good but naturally gifted presenters. Some on a corporate professional level such as Reggie, Iwata, Jack Tretton, Peter Moore, Phil Harrison and Kazuo Hirai are able to present in a very methodical, understandable yet also very entertaining way. After that you also have characters like Kevin Butler and Tim Schafer, maybe not a corporate presenter, but generally as good as the above if not better. In comparison Dunaway was just annoying. If it was not in a video game context I bet she is pretty good as a presenter, but in this instance, she was just really bad. It put a sour note on the year. Thanks to Gamer TV though, I got my first proper taste of the Competitions presentations. Don’t remember much about Microsoft at E3 in 2008, but, Sony put on an incredible show and revealed exciting new games presenting them in trailers. Games of memorable note include both God of War 3 and of course, MAG.

From 2009 onwards it was a big change for E3 and me. From this point forward, I decided to watch the other press conferences too not just Nintendo. Well, what I actually mean is that I also watched Sony ad Microsoft as well as Nintendo, as for anyone else I just gave those a miss. 2009 saw some improvements from Nintendo, yes Dunaway was till presenting, but her presentation style was updated and improved. The stage was very small and surrounded by Televisions, but it was still a major improvement. The first one I watched though was Microsoft. Big announcements and some games but overall (and setting the mood quite well for themselves for the next several years) it was like some kind of ‘coffee klatch’ presentation with a 5 minute break in between each section. It did however present a memorable moment when a producer from Harmonix danced away on Dance Central. I think Sony’s was generally alright, I just don’t remember all that much about it.

Then the years went on from there really. Nintendo improved gradually from their 2008 shambles; revealing details about new big games, and of course details and presentations of the Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft did not improve at all, except to allow Tim Schafer to have a spot for one of his games; and continue to prove my theory that the X-Box is nothing more than a glorified set-top box, While Sony began to show off how much of a powerhouse they truly were. Sony really began to shine for me, and their presentation style really began to glow, especially in 2010, with a much longer press conference than the other 2 and the introduction and constant inclusion of Kevin Butler, as well as an awesome trailer for Twisted Metal. And from there, E3 for me just kept on keeping on. I did take an occasional look at other press conferences, Ubisoft once stood out for me with their reveal of Far Cry 3.

So what happened, how did an annual event that was just as important to me as it was for others suddenly not have a place in me anymore? I don’t actually know is the short answer, but I bet I got a pretty good clue. The year was 2012, and after waiting a considerable length of time, the 2 games I bought in 2012 that were actually brand new were finally released, Twisted Metal and Far Cry 3. In 2013, I bought another game I had been looking forward too, a bit too long for actually; Beyond: Two Souls, which was released at the very end of the year. I don’t think I actually watched anything of the 2013 press conferences, I think the last time I took any attention to E3 was with the announcement of the Wii U. What happened? I just lost a little interest in games, as the times were moving on, and some of the stuff at the time did not apply to me. In 2012 I got back into books and started playing Board Games more frequently. I guess it was just the case that as my long time love of Video Games waned and began to be replaced by other things more strongly, I just forgot about E3. To be honest, since 2012, I don’t think I have really thought about E3 other than when announcements are made on the trending part of Facebook. It’s kind of sad when I think about it really; I used to have so much excitement, and used to experience so much fun just watching a few press conferences, now for it to be almost nothing but a memory for me. Will I ever get back into it, I don’t know. I could try to watch this year’s conferences on YouTube sometime if I get round to it, or I could try double hard for next year, but I really don’t know. Sorry if it seems so anti-climactic but I don’t really have an answer of why or even why not?

Wii U

The thing is though, that even if I do get back into it, there is something vitally important missing from the conferences now. About this time last year, the industry lost one of its truly great and unique people; a man who was certainly still in his prime and still had many more years to give to the industry. He was a corporate president, and the CEO of the world’s largest video game company. He passed away just as the company was beginning to take its next step into a bright new future. For me, this man has been the main highlight for not just E3 but many other conferences I have been fortunate enough to see him present at. At E3 he made the press conferences fun and enjoyable no matter how terrible or mediocre the outcome. Someone whose presentation style was a wonder to behold and who spoke with a personal passion on the things he adored; whether it be games, technology or even chopping onions; he gave me some of the most interesting, intriguing and informative moments of my Video Game life and made E3 a magical moment. Sadly he is gone now, but his name; like E3 will remain synonymous with not just gamers, but with the entire video game industry, and the memories he has produced over the years will remain with us forever. I never met him, never saw him live, but I wish I had. He was a great inspiration to me, he was someone whose presentation style but also career was something to aspire too when I wanted to be a video games designer many years ago. He influenced me greatly when I was studying in that field, and even when I stopped viewing E3 regularly, every now and then I would go online and look up one of his press conferences, just for my own entertainment. More than anyone else, for me; E3 was a moment not just to hear about games and consoles, but a moment to hear from the great man that was: Satoru Iwata (miss you).

Satoru Iwata

GENEPOOL





Hermione Granger In A Hostage Situation – White House Down

6 07 2016

White House Down (Columbia Pictures - 2013)

Ok, so you have created Super Soldiers, you have visited other Planets, destroyed entire Cities, messed with Nuclear Monsters, fought for the Independence of your new country, survived the raw Power of the Weather, gone back in time to fight Sabre-Toothed felines, destroyed entire Cities (again), claimed Shakespeare was a fraud and have been hit by a bolt of Lightning: so your next logical step must be to invade the White House right?….Right?

WHD1

Released in 2013 by Columbia Pictures; Directed by Roland Emmerich and Produced (as well as written) by James Vanderbilt; White House Down is an Action/Thriller film about an attack on the White House. What is supposedly one of the biggest spec script purchases in cinema history; White House Down happened to be released the same year as another film very similar to it by idea at least in Olympus Has Fallen directed by Antoine Fuqua. I personally have not seen Olympus Has Fallen; but being a fan of Roland Emmerich, this film has been on something of a to do list for a while, and as Independence Day: Resurgence has just been released, I thought I should give Emmerich’s previously latest (BIG) film a look over.

WHD4

Current President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) has recently been generating controversy over a potential peace treaty that would involve removing armed forces from the Middle East. John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a police officer who formerly fought in the military, and has been assigned as a bodyguard to speaker of the house; Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins). Cale really wants to work in the secret service, but after an interview with former college acquaintance and Secret Service agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), he is turned down for the role. Not wanting to let his politically interested swat daughter Emily (Joey King) down, he takes her on a tour of the White House where they run into the President who puts a shout out for Emily on her Vlog. Meanwhile, Secret Service head Martin Walker (James Woods) is celebrating his last week there and orders Carol to go home. As the morning progresses, a janitor detonates a bomb within the US Capitol Building. Raphelson and Finnerty are taken to an underground command centre underneath the Pentagon, while Vice President Alvin Hammond (Michael Murphy) is taken aboard Air Force One. The White House is locked down separating Cale from his daughter, and a group of mercenaries led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) start killing off security and take hostages, with Cale escaping just in time. Walker escorts the President to the building’s Emergency Operations Room, but there kills Sawyer’s guards, and reveals himself as the group’s leader. Cale arrives in the nick of time after failing to locate his daughter and rescues the President.

WHD10

Outside the press arrive, and news circulates fast, but Emily using her phone gets video footage from inside, outside, before she gets captured by Carl Killick (Kevin Rankin). Meanwhile Walker and Stenz bring in Skip Tyler (Jimmi Simpson) to hack the building’s databases, but still require the President to unlock a nuclear weapons briefcase (or Nuclear Football if you so wish). At the Pentagon, Carol clashes with army general Caulfield (Lance Reddick) as to how they handle the situation while Vice President Hammond plans to switch control to himself. Cale manages to get a line through to Carol who tells him the best way of getting the President out. The military is already positioned outside, but require the President’s permission to storm the building. Using Emily’s video they are able to ID the men, and from Walker’s wife, they discover that Walker is dying and wants revenge on Sawyer for the death of his son. Cale and Sawyer eventually find a way out in a secret tunnel (built by JFK to move Marilyn Monroe in and out of the White House), but find it rigged to blow. They make another desperate scheme to get out by using the Presidential Limo, but it gets turned over and crashed into a pool. After a quick kerfuffle with Walker and Stenz, an explosion erupts, presumably killing Sawyer and Cale. Hammond is then sworn in as President and orders an aerial attack on the White House.

WHD2

With this knowledge, Cale tries to stop the choppers from being destroyed, but after fighting with Stenz, he is unsuccessful. Skip meanwhile finally breaks into the databases and taking over NORAD, fires a missile at Air Force One, killing everyone on board. Raphelson is sworn in as President and orders an air strike on the White House. After discovering that Emily is Cale’s daughter, Stenz and Walker threaten to kill her if Cale does not give them the President. The President surrenders himself, and Walker reveals that he really admires the President, but wants to destroy the Middle East with a Nuclear Strike. Cale, now with knowledge of the Air Strike and inspired by an old painting, sets fire to several rooms within the White House. After freeing the hostages, Cale fights and kills Stenz. Using the football, Walker has begun targeting the cities in the Middle East, but is killed before he can launch them. With Sawyer and Emily safe, Emily runs outside and waves the Presidential Flag to call off the Air Strike. Emily is branded as a hero, but Cale and Sawyer hear from Finnerty to discover that Walker did not call in the Mercenaries. Raphelson – hoping that the aerial attack on the White House would destroy the evidence – is discovered to have conspired with Walker and wanted to send troops back into the Middle East, going against Sawyer’s treaty. Raphelson is arrested by Sawyer’s orders, who then names Cale as his new Special Agent and takes both him and Emily on a helicopter ride.

WHD9

If you look at the poster for this film, one thing that immediately becomes abundantly clear is that this film comes from the Director of the films: Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. Highlighting this piece of information is by no means a bad thing; many big films that get released today carry information like this on similar lines as it is a great way to advertise a movie. With a film like this highlighting that it is indeed Roland Emmerich who directed it, and that his previous work includes those previously mentioned films highlights, that if you liked those films you might like this one. The added benefit is that as well as that, people who may not have seen those films, but were big popular films; know that this latest film must be of some noticeable attention to note where this new film is coming from also. There is a bad side to this though, as though while those films may not be teaching lessons or winning awards, advertising those films based on their legacy puts pressure on newer films to stand out, because though while Emmerich’s output over the last 20-30 years has been rather successful, it does not mean that the latest film he releases is pure gold (this does not just apply to Emmerich’s output, but to others of course, but we are not talking about them). In stark contrast to his previous and better known works, White House Down is actually a much smaller film. Films like the ones mentioned above have usually involved a worldwide catastrophe caused by events out of human control, whereas here we have an action orientated film about a building under siege. OK, it’s not just some ordinary building, it is the White House after all, but there is no Aliens, No Weather, No Prophecies, just humans. Going into this film I had no real previous knowledge of this film other than seeing a bit of it on TV. So I was completely unaware as to what was going to happen other than expect certain and specific Emmerich movie trademarks. Some people have suggested similarities to films like Die Hard and Air Force One, where as I can see elements more similar of The Rock myself. Setting up an attack on the White House is going to be hard for anyone who dares attempt it, and so far the only time I have seen it work was in an episode of 24. In this case though we get a pretty good idea of what one could look like that is very thrilling, but also very believable.

WHD7

For the first 30 minutes I must say that this film is rather boring. It suffers some lighting effects, the characters are all rather dull and unimpressive and not much happens. This sort of continues even into the movies main events. But then the film turns everything around and just makes it work, and by the end, I was literally on the edge of my seat. Setting up was definitely a weak spot for this film, and even when things do get going my overall excitement level was rather ‘MEH!’ But then you get big moments, big scenes, explosions, fights, special effects galore and even a shift around for the film’s characters, and it becomes an extremely enjoyable film. I am not necessarily saying that a film needs to have explosions and large amounts of special effects to be good, but it certainly did help to get this film going and generally improve. On the whole it was a combination of nearly everything that finally made it exciting enough to keep watching, get involved and see it through to its rather glorious end. I was looking around on Kermode Uncut (at time of writing) and spotted a post talking about a film that Kermode did not like for the first 30 minutes but then absolutely loved. Now I did not actually watch the video (have since, it was not White House Down, it was Mamma Mia!) but through my mind I wondered if he was talking about this, because I certainly felt that way about it.

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The cast is a bit of a shot in the dark if I am honest with some cast members really standing out and others I am not going to bother talking about. Much like the film a large number, especially a lot of the film leads are a bit boring before coming good. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character is a prime example of this. She begins as a really stuck up-tight boss like character always trying to put a smile on but being far too professional and near horrid. She starts this way, and becomes a sort of political woman of action who for the beginning is not worth the hassle. But then while she is in the underground base, she sorts of turns that off and becomes really caring and understanding. I believe Blake Snyder in his book Save the Cat! said that a film is about change, and the lead character or characters must change from who they are into something better by the end. Gyllenhaal proves this by changing from her near horrid start, into a really caring and supportive character by the end and becomes a real stand out. She is much better in this than she was in The Dark Knight (at least she is not grumpy the whole time in White House Down). The same could be said for James Woods. When I saw this on TV, I just could not take Woods seriously as the villain; he seemed to be more like James Woods in Family Guy rather than James Woods playing a character such as he did in Shark. But then he turns it around also, when you hear of the 2 reasons why he is doing what he is doing, and then as the film picks up pace you forget about him being Woods (although it’s hard with such a strong and recognisable voice) and see him more as this very respectful but now very corrupt character who is about to do the unthinkable. He becomes not necessarily a psychopath, but a really good political villain, a leader, not someone who does the killing, but someone who does the ordering.

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Like many other films of this genre; comes packed with other actors although not necessarily leads of note who also deserve a mention. People such as the tour guide Donnie (Nicolas Wright), who acts like a comic relief in similar style to the Gadget man from xXx (Michael Roof) but is quirky as he does it. He is not a clown; just someone who takes his job seriously, even in such a tense situation. Then you have someone like Emily’s mother Melanie (Rachelle Lefevre) who adds that real outside tension to the story with the knowledge of her daughter being caught up in the distress. Then there is someone powerful, but also rather scary in Lance Reddick playing General Caulfield. Recently I have been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II and noted how in that they cast Tony Todd as an Admiral. I thought it was a strange move as his voice does not really lend itself to high military position as it sounded more intimidating than commanding, but I wondered if that was what the film makers were going for here with the casting of Reddick as an army general. He almost seems schizophrenic, if not psychopathic, that combination of look, attitude and voice, it’s very similar I feel to that of Todd in Black Ops II. But it works; he is an interesting cast choice, but still a powerful and intimidating presence that just demands your attention when he is on-screen.

Lance Reddick

In a similar vein it’s a lot like the character provided by Jason Clarke. I really enjoyed his presence in this film. He was more like a physical bad guy in comparison to Woods, and as the early film appearances ramped up, I was constantly asking, why not just Clarke; why Woods too? Clarke is a man of action and a real tough nut to crack and has some terrific scenes and one of the film’s best lines (“No, I don’t want cake! I’m diabetic!”). But it felt like the producers either had other plans for who they wanted in that part, or had ideas as to whom they wanted Clarke to be like, as Clarke does feel, act and look a bit like Kim Coates I feel. I really did think that at least earlier on, Clarke really helped get this film going, that though while the film was struggling to get a grip and make ground; it already had the perfect man as its villain, delivering a constant presentation right to its end. The character of Emily similarly got me confused with actors, as I thought she was being played by Ivana Baquero from Pan’s Labyrinth. Emily is an interesting one as she seems less like a damsel in distress, but more like Hermione Granger in a hostage situation. She shows herself as a similarly tough nut with great understanding of the President and what he does, and shows a lot of respect for that, but similarly she is also trying to be the stereotypical grumpy teenager, which does not work all too well as she does do a lot of talking rather than sulking. She is pretty fun though, and takes away from the idea that kids are not strong independent people, nor are entirely harmless or are just going to sit in a corner and cry, as Emily shows great courage and confidence throughout and becomes one of the film’s major and bravest heroes.

Joey King

The dynamic between Foxx and Tatum is uncanny. They work off each other so well. For the earlier parts this film feels like it’s some kind of Action buddy movie, but then becomes something of a Wrestling Tag Team with one being unable to be without the other. They come from different backgrounds, different worlds; but are incredibly realistic and pure joy. Singularly and before they meet, they both struggle. But when they do meet, and come to rely on each other, it’s so impressive to see how they just click and work off each other like they have done it before. Foxx is very serious and political, while Tatum is heroic and protective. They both respect each other and come to know each other as their opposite equal. Without each other they have no real influence or direction over this film, but together, they are inseparable, and you don’t want them to become separated at all, because without them, this film is virtually worth nothing.

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A film like this would be a bit out-of-place if it wasn’t for some large scale Special Effects. I do think this film struggles with back drops and lighting. The lighting looks especially bad. Some cases it can be too dark, and other a bit too overcast. It’s just a bit annoying as there is hardly ever a clear picture. When you combine this with the similar back drops, it sets the film in a world that does not look real. Some of the film’s special effects similarly struggle. It’s not as good as the effects in Independence Day 17 years previously, and as this film touts it’s from the same director, it’s a bit of a let-down. That is until about half-way through, and then it shines. From the explosion in the Capitol Building, to the destruction of Air Force One and the flight of helicopters through the streets of Washington, while it may not be a giant alien spaceship casting a city sized shadow, scenes such as these create incredible spectacles that forever stand out as moments which are not only a wonder to behold, but also become moments that help improve the film as they continue.

WHD3

As for the soundtrack (composed by Harald Kloser); I don’t actually remember much of one. I really don’t. I watched this film from start to finish and I can remember hearing music, but I just cannot remember what the soundtrack presented or what it sounded like. All I can really remember is the credits music (Street Fighting Man by The Rolling Stones) which includes that track that was in V For Vendetta. It’s a real shame as Emmerich’s films have gone great distances to create as big as a soundtrack as the special effects and big disasters, but maybe because in contrast this film is much smaller, maybe they didn’t go as far with the soundtrack. I am not saying there isn’t a soundtrack or anything like that, it’s just I cannot remember hearing much of one. Maybe I was just too glued to hear one.

Altogether, I really did like this movie. It combines all the elements of a good Roland Emmerich film: Action, Big moments, Special Effects, interesting characters, and an interesting story. The film is let down a bit by how it takes a while to get going, it’s lighting, some effects and a missing soundtrack, but one thing this film does is Improve as it goes along. It starts off boring, but by the end it ends up as one of Emmerich’s best films to date. Yes it’s smaller than something like The Day After Tomorrow. Yes there is less happening than Independence Day. But what this film does present is enough of Emmerich’s movie trademarks to create an amazing spectacle that will entertain all movie goers of this genre plus plenty of little extras that will entertain everyone else too. It’s a proper fun and exciting action movie, one that belongs in the Action movie Hall of Fame no doubt (if there is one?).

GENEPOOL (I probably should have mentioned that neither Hermione Granger nor Emma Watson appear in this Movie, sorry).








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