Tag Archives: review

5 reasons I F*%king love Hawk the Slayer!

3 Jun

I’m sure this movie needs no introductions. You can call this one of my guilty pleasure’s of the celluloid variety, as ever since I first saw it, I loved it ever since.

In an age growing up where fantasy media was limited to a handful of films on VHS, no one could ever understand why I liked this movie so much, no amount of me telling them would make them understand why. So with that in mind, I’m going to present five reasons I fucking love that film, even to this day!

1. THE SOUNDTRACK

The music and theme tune on the movie is brilliant, a weird mish mash of synth-pop, fantasy and nostalgia. It suits the film and themes perfectly (I think) A real curiosity of sorts, but cool none the less. Check it out:

2. THE CAST

What can I say about the cast ensemble for this low budget fantasy movie? Well, lets begin with the iconic stars in this film. Jack Palance as the older scarred and evil brother (and Hawk’s Nemesis) Voltan, The giant Gort played by “Carry on” mainstay Bernard Bresslaw, Shane Bryant as Drogo, Annette Crosby (Margret Meldrew from one foot in the grave), Patricia Quinn (Rocky Horror show)  as the witch, Harry Andrews, Roy Kinnear, Warren Clarke, and so many more decent well known British actors. There’s even Ferdy Mayne and the guy who was the original Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars IV (the cut out bit that was later CGI and put back in) Quite a decent cast for such a low budget.

3. THE ACTION

The frantic and sometimes comical nature of the action scenes is something I hold a soft spot for. Crow’s multiple cut and edited arrow shots were pure cinematic cheese,  as kids I remember my mates wanting to be him in games we played at school. Even though Crow the elf, was in my opinion the least developed of the party of heroes, he was bad ass due to this quick cheapo edit effect!

4. THE CHEESE

Hawk the Slayer is no masterpiece of cinema. I admit that it  was never going to win Oscars for any part of the movie, acting or script. What makes it good is that it is not good. Sure, it’s entertaining enough, but it’s no LOTR trilogy, but it has that feel of my childhood days playing red box D&D home brew adventures. This film is cheesy as hell, a little bit camp, and ropey SFX, but I still love it just for old times sake!

5. THE HERITAGE

When I speak of heritage, by that I refer back to the cheese,in which the plot and setup of the movie, is pretty much just that of probably many of our childhood D&D and RPG games. Beat for beat, these standard fantasy RPG tropes are in force. The party of heroes, the hero’s brother being the big bad, defend the Abbey mission, raid the enemy camp, the showdown etc. How many of us out there used this movie as direct inspiration for our own RPGs, wargames, and LARP (trust me, loads of LARPers has cited this movie as inspiration, it’s almost like one anyway!) Also this movie has a real Hammer films vibe too, now that’s real heritage!

If you haven’t seen it, go away and watch it NOW, if your into RPGs, fantasy or similar. If you have, go re watch it.

I now retreat to dig out my DVD copy of it from the vaults to become a starry eyed 80’s kid again and remember good old times….

Grinning Skull Recommends: Cheap Toys that are Great for Table-Top Gaming – Part One!

29 Sep

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As you know, I’m all for money saving when it comes to gaming, and I also love toy hacks, so I wanted to share this post from over on http://cloudcraftsite.wordpress.com, check out some of his other awesome posts by visiting his blog.

Anyway, this top 5 has some cool stuff that can be easily converted for your games and models, plus links to places you can get them!!

If you like cheap toy hacks, also check out The giant scorpion toy hack and The bag “o” Skeletons review from the archive!!

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The following are just some Cheap Toys I’ve found while browsing the net that I think would have excellent potential for Table Top Gaming, whether it’s just giving them a quick paint job, or Kit-Bashing them to the point where the original model is unrecognizable (or you get the “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?” reaction from your friends).

Item Number One: True Legends Mythical Warriors

This bucket of fantasy figures was reviewed by Fungeon Master Dave O’Gara (will post link in a moment) and I can see a few figures that have potential as either Ogres for Dungeons and Dragons / Pathfinder, or as Kit-bashed Demon Princes of Nurgle or Khorne for Warhammer/Warhammer 40k. The Sorceress looking figures would probably make for good kit-bash material for a Demon Prince of Tzneetch or Slaanesh. The terrain that comes with this set is also fairly decent, and I would not hesitate to…

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Grinning Skull at the movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron

9 May

So while I am busy on the PC today, I thought I’d have a rant about the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s latest entry to it’s continuity. Avengers: Age of Ultron.

If you ask if I’m a DC or Marvel comics fan, Marvel wins hands down. That’s why I was quite excited to get to see Avengers: Age of Ultron and see if it was living up to all the hype. Don’t worry, if you aint seen it, I won’t spoil it (much…)

The Avengers was never my first choice with the comics, although Thor, Cap, and Mr Stark’s separate adventures interested me, I always preferred the west coast avengers comic! Still, the way the MCU is going, any number of other characters could pop up for a cameo, so as a marvel fan, it’d be worth the watch.

This time, there was no need for any introductions or origins, straight into the action attacking a Hydra base, all guns blazing. Very impressive. It’s a shame that overall the story felt rushed, but I guess with all the information and characters to fit into it, some of it would suffer as a result.

It’s true the action scenes are second to none and I for one can’t fault it. There’s some mad comic book chaos which is welcomed, so if your a fan of pure comic calamity, its worth seeing just for that.

I’m going to pick out a few pro’s and con’s that niggled me during, without giving any major spoilers away.

Firstly, new characters. We’ll start with the main baddie, Ultron. Ultron had always been a fave of mine, and I think he was portrayed reasonably well. I had thought it would be cool to see him on the screen for decades, and they did not disapoint. James Spader was a good choice to voice the meglomanical menace.

Vision: Again, the vision is a pretty cool character, and as far as the look is concerned, they nailed it, however, his introduction seemed squeezed and more contrived than I’d like. Also nice to see him kicking ass.

The Maximoff Twins: Pretty much hated both the acting and portrayal. Didn’t feel anything like them. A better version of quicksilver exists in the recent X-Men: Days of future past. Their costumes and look were poor. I’m glad this version of quicksilver died (oops, sorry!)

Hawkeye: This time they spent a little more effort fleshing out a role for him, making him a bigger player. Still think he needs the mask to make him feel more “proper”

On a side note, it was good to see a few faces from the other movies, Falcon, Warmachine and other bit players that’ll pop up again in the MCU (Klaw in the new Black Panther movie perhaps?)

On to the Story. it was just OK, I suppose, not great. I guess if your looking for high brow and intellectual then this isn’t it (it’s the comics after all..) I’ve heard lots of people going on about how the plot is getting convoluted now, given all the crossovers and movies, and that it’s getting harder for the casual viewer to follow. I think not, rather the opposite, too basic and bare, Whedon focuses more on the relationships between the characters and not the ins and outs. Could have been better, but I understand the constraints with the whole jigsaw.

I guess, to sum up. It’s an OK movie, but it’s just that. Nothing more. Will I watch the next installents of the MCU? Fuck yeah!, of course! (but then, I would watch any old shite…)

3 Skulls out of 5.

 

Grinning Skull at the movies: World War Z

4 Jul

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Well, well well, I thought it was time to put up a review about the latest zombie movie everyone’s been talking about (mainly for negative reasons…) World War Z.

I had seen much about this movie on the net, before even seeing the film there were plenty of rumours and spoilers that I thought were going to cloud my opinions about it beforehand. Even so I hate pretty much anything with Brad Pitt in (well, just it’s Brad Pitt I can’t stand, he’s such a floppy haired dickhead…) I thought I should at least give the zombies a try, who doesn’t love zombies? Right?

Now, I haven’t read the Max Brooks book yet, and I was waiting for the film to come out, then read them (Yeah, I’m weird like that) to compare, that way I think I will appreciate the books more, since this cinematic effort is just a dire example of what hollywood deems to be a “zombie movie” (remember Warm Bodies, that was shit too)

I must like causing myself pain and suffering, because I really did try and watch it with an open mind, I wanted to be wrong about the swarming zombie ant, liquid poured effects, the poor story and script, ropey acting from Pitt and co, but the nails in the coffin for me at least, were mentions of the word “Zombie”, I mean come on, since when in decent zombie media of any type refers to the undead using the term? Walkers, runners, munchers, biters, ghouls etc are a mark of quality, albeit some might say an extra level of realism given to the setting by thoughtful writers to create more believeability to the thing. (Not that zombies are realistic anyway, but those involved in genre dabbling should at least try!) Using the word scores minus points in my book.

Without spoiling the end for you who haven’t seen it yet, or plan to, frankly it’s utter drivel, and so ridiculously cheesy, hooray for Brad, he saves the world! Nothing downbeat and signifiying the end of the human race here, everything works out for us! Gee, thanks Brad, it sure is swell you were here! What a load of bollocks! I’m just thinking of any good points, but it’s tricky! I thought the whole idea of the genre was that there was the impending doom of survival, not this crap. As the lyric from System of a Down’s song goes: you should have never trusted Hollywood. (to make a decent movie!)

Good points: Well, like I said not too many, a few good action bits, some odd bits of destruction here and there, high point for me zombie wise was how the infected went from being bitten etc, to rising as a zomer, that was OK. Still not enough to shout about.

I must add that there were parts I found pretty boring too, and when I get board, I have a habit of messing around in cinemas and such in situations like this, but I did resist the urge this time! Could it be World War ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz……

There are just so many things I dislike about this movie and it goes without saying on subsequent watching I fear there would be more faults I could pick (but I think I’ll be watching something else)

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Please Brad, don’t adopt my children, you floppy haired c**t!

Note to Hollywood: It does not take a massive budget and big star to make a good zombie movie, most of the biggest films of the genre were made on tiny budgets. I get that the zombie bandwagon isn’t something that you’ve had much of an opportunity to exploit fully yet, and bastardise it to oblivion, so please take a hint from the past masters in the genre.

Wouldn’t it have been better to have called the film something else, thus eliminating the need for huge amounts to have been spent on the rights to the adaptation? Cast another lesser known, or even unknown actor to play the part of the hero too. Was it justified by casting Brad Pitt and spending more money for a film thats going to bomb (It’s no classic I tell ya!) You know all he’s going to do with his cash is buy some more orphans or something! Words cannot describe how disappointing this movie actually was for me, I wanted it to be OK, alas twas not to be!

Summing up after my vitriol. It’s shit.

I feel dirty and used that I spent my money on seeing it.

Watch it and be prepared to feel abused by the might of the studios and their latest mindf**k. (And I haven’t even told you what I thought about Man of Steel yet!!)

Grinning Skull rating: 1 frowning skull (1/10)

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Osprey Adventures: Jason and the Argonauts Review

1 Mar

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Cover of "Jason and the Argonauts"

Cover of Jason and the Argonauts

It might not seem this way, but I have always loved the myths and legends of the ancient Greeks. With that in mind, I jumped at the chance to review the upcoming Osprey Adventures book, Jason and the Argonauts.

Most of us are familiar with the tales of the mythical hero Jason and his brave crew, and their quest for the golden fleece mainly from the  classic 1963 movie, featuring the ground breaking work of Ray Harryhausen, this book sets right the discrepencies in the film and puts them in line with the more scholarly original tales.

The author, Neil Smith has managed to keep a balance between these sometimes dry, long winded stories and presents us with a streamlined and easy to read narrative, keeping as true to the original legends. As anyone can tell you who has read various versions of the stories, the Greeks were known for their fondness of adding additional dramatic dialog and tended to sometimes spend a fair amount of time introducing themselves to one another, plus their extended bloodlines, plus their ancestors bold adventures and any other titles they had! Rest assured the author has avoided this ancient tendency and concentrated on the actual story in a way thats easy to read!

Additions of extra historical facts, references to the legend in the media all add weight to this very well put together book, which is what we have come to expect from Osprey over the years. I suppose that you are thinking I approve of this book, and I would agree with that entirely! I admit that this is one of the first Osprey books I have read for a long time, and if they are all as good as this one I will say that I will be reading a lot more over the coming months. This is just part of the Osprey adventures Myths and Legends series, along with Dragon Slayers and the Wars of Horus and Set, I foresee good things from this range!!

The artwork in this book is top notch, it really helps bring to life the text and imagine each segment with full colour. the artist  Jose Daniel Cabrera Peña can’t be faulted, his works ranking among some of the best renderings of fine art on the subject I have seen in a long time. Together with photos from the various movie versions, these all add more to the feel of the book, if I had one criticism about them it would be that the book hasn’t got anymore! They really are great to look at, and inspiring to boot!

From a wargamers perspective, or a roleplayers one for that matter, there really is the meat for some great campaigns and scenarios based around the myth, I especially liked the information and pictures on the crew of the argo. It really makes me want to go out and get a load of historical ancient greek 15mm miniatures to go and replay scenes from the story (before you ask, yes I know which particular scene I’m thinking, and yes I know the earthborn aren’t skeletons, but I would have to do it with earthborn and skellies, otherwise it wouldn’t be cricket!!)

Ok, I’m going to sum this up. If you enjoy an easy to read, lavishly illustrated full colour book based around one of the most enduring ancient greek quest stories, then go get this book. There’s tons of useful information that would be suitable for any fan or curious casual reader. Buy it, read it and you’ll love it too. Check it out here Link

Right, now where did I put my other sandal…..

 

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