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Return To Arkham

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I held off buying an Xbox One because of the damn Arkham games!

Arkham Knight was available for the Xbox One but I enjoyed playing Arkham Asylum and Arkham City too much to give up my Xbox 360 and make the upgrade.

I was late joining the Arkham party. Arkham Asylum was original released in 2009 but I held off buying an Xbox One until 2011. I’d ummed and ahhed about getting an Xbox for a while and when I eventually bought one, Arkham Asylum was one of the first games I bought. Weirdly enough, I didn’t buy the 360 for Asylum, I bought it for my Tiger Woods games. But after only a few hours of playing Asylum and ‘being the Batman’, I was giving myself a stealth takedown for not buying it sooner. I instantly became addicted!!


Later on that year, Arkham City was released and I was all over it the minute it came out. Oh boy! It was Arkham Asylum but bigger and better.

As much as Arkham City is a ‘free roam’ game, you are basically following one main story from beginning to end. The only diversions are wandering off to collect Riddler’s Trophies. Arkham City brought a whole host of extra sub stories to wander off and complete as well as the main story. This really felt like you were off doing your own thing – solving riddles, rescuing people, taking out groups of thugs etc etc. For me, Arkham City is a true ‘Desert Island Game’ – a game I could be stuck with forever and not get bored playing.


And this brings me on to why I held off buying an Xbox One until late 2015. Arkham Knight had been released but I was still having too much fun replaying Asylum and City over and over again – honing my predator and fighting skills.

I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to a One, when Backwards Compatibility was made a feature and rumour had it, the original 360 Arkham games would make it to the One. I bought the One and Arkham Knight and got stuck in, temporarily saying goodbye to Asylum and City. Arkham Knight is a phenomenal game! The visuals are stunning and it runs silkily smooth. It is prone to the odd hang and/or crash but generally speaking, its a good game. As much as I enjoy the much larger city, extra stories, side missions and add-ons – it doesn’t tick all the boxes for me. I don’t particular enjoy the driving sections of the game. I do enjoy playing driving games but just not round Gotham City. I would much rather glide from building to building using my cape than smash my way haphazardly round tight corners. As for Riddler Challenges that require you to complete races and time-trials in the Batmobile… WTF?

I understood why Rocksteady (the game developer) introduced the Batmobile – it was the one missing component of Batman canon and is a more natural way of getting around the huge maps. I would imagine most fans enjoy the battle tank challenges but I just found them tedious. I’d much rather stealthily wipe out a bank full of Two-Face’s goons.

All the while I have been keeping my eye out on the release of a remastered Asylum and City. Its been delayed and delayed but eventually it came out midway through October – nearly a entire year since I bought the Xbox One!

Some fans have grumbled about the frame rate, the action not being as smooth as it originally was on the 360, environments being brighter… blah, blah, blah!

Personally, I love the games. They look and feel just like I remember on the 360 and its great to be playing them again. Yes, the map in Arkham is tiny compared to Knight but I love the claustrophobic-esque tightness of this game. The visuals still hold up for me – in fact I feel like they are a massive improvement. Rain drops hitting the tv screen, fog, steam etc. Plus I think the sound is an improvement. Walking through the Asylum can be as creepy as hell.

I’ve not started playing City yet, I’m too busy completing Asylum. Once you have played a game to the end a few times, you fly through on revisits. I remember spending hours looking for Riddler’s Trophies while now, I know where they are and can tick off dozens in one sitting.

Right, enough chatting – I’m off to give a couple of Titan thugs a good kicking!


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Strange or Strange

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Doctor Strange or Doctor Hugo Strange?



Categories : Comics, Films
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This should happen…

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Stop it with Avenger movies and Spiderman movies.

Stop it with Captain America and Thor.

Just make more Batman!!!

Image taken from Geek Tyrant

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The Dark Knight Rises

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So the wife and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises last weekend at the IMAX in Bradford.

My review of the film could simply be that my wife, who is usually a bit fidgety at the cinema, did not move an inch for the full 3 hours we were sat in the cinema. That itself is testament to just how gripping this film was.

Or was it that I was so glued to the screen, I was blinkered to all around me? Yes and no. After the film while we discussed it over a curry, my wife informed me that she loved it. She had loads of nerdy questions/observations I was only too happy to answer. I’m totally in my element when it comes to Batman.

Seriously, here is my take on TDKR.

Firstly, this film is without doubt the best film in the Christopher Nolan set. For me, I found there were long periods of The Dark Knight where I was bored. When watching the film on DVD, I can easily zip over those periods and not be concerned I’ve missed anything noteworthy. Not so with TDKR. The entire 2 and three quarter hours seemed to zip by and everything felt in its place and vital to the film. Maybe on a second or third viewing there will be bits that you can skim over and not pay a great deal of attention to but on the first viewing, there was a real fluidity to the film – everything had a purpose.

In the past, I’ve made criticisms about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But, to be fair, my perceived faults with those movies have been because of my own wrong doing – I’ve watched those films through my comicbook Geek goggles. I’ve picked up on Christopher Nolan’s own interpretations of the Batman universe and faulted them for not conforming with my own mind’s eye view of Batman. I’ve always loved Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) but I’ve never been rattled by his ‘story adjustments’ i.e. that Jack Napier (aka The Joker) was responsible for the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents. I let it slide because it allows Burton to solidly round off the film. Jack creates Batman, Batman creates Joker – boom! Therefore, if Nolan wants to rewrite previously written stories to make his own films work – just live with it.

Joe Chill shot dead Bruce’s parents, NOT Jack Napier.

That being said, I watched Batman Begins last week without my goggles and thoroughly enjoyed it. So what if Bruce was never trained by Ra’s Al Ghul or the League of Shadows… it’s not the end of the world.

So, coming back to TDKR, I went to the cinema on Saturday minus the goggles and just wanting to be entertained. I was not disappointed. This film was epic! Without doubt the best comic book movie EVER!! I thought the first Iron Man movie was the best but this smashed it. Just an absolute blast from the beginning to end.

**Warning, if you haven’t seen the film, I am about to reveal some key plot elements**

I wasn’t that taken with Bane. I think it was the voice. Between him, The Joker and Ra’s Al Ghul – Bane was the weakest villain from the three movies. Hardy is a talented actor and I’ve seen him play some truly horrible characters on TV but Bane just wasn’t that great for me.

Selina Kyle (she is never referred to as Catwoman) was top drawer. Can’t say I’ve ever seen any of Anne Hathaway’s other films but she definitely played this role well.

Ironically, after complaining in the past about Nolan’s interpretations of existing comic book stories and characters, Nolan does make nods to the comic books in TDKR – pleasing the geeks out there. Granted, he tweaks them as he did with the previous two films but there are some genuine geek moments. Here are a few I can remember from one viewing…

Bane’s origin story in the film does share similarities with his origin in The Vengeance of Bane.

Bane ‘breaks’ Batman in a very similar fashion to the way he does in Knightfall

Talia Al Ghul and Bruce share a moment not dis-similar to The Son of The Demon (and many other stories).

Selina Kyle lives with a sidekick who looks uncannily like her sidekick in Year One.

John Blake (the policeman) who is seemingly set up to be Robin in any future ‘reboots’ has a very similar name to Tim Drake (the third Robin) and shares a profession with Dick Grayson who was the original Robin before becoming Nightwing.

Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) – Blüdhaven police officer

Bale, Caine and Oldman are brill as usual. I particularly love Oldman in these movies – his Jim Gordon is straight out of Year One. Plus there’s a nice dose of humour from Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).

Maybe it was because we were watching it on the IMAX but there were a few action sequences that just blow you away. The scenes starring ‘The Bat’ in particular are visually stunning – I could go and see the film again for those scenes alone. The Pod is more impressive in this film. I thought it looked naff in The Dark Knight – especially that bit when it flips round using the wall. The collapsing football pitch is mental!

Not that I ever need a reason to read a Batman graphic novel but I did have an overwhelming urge to read Year One when I got home.

I won’t give the ending away but Nolan does a great job of leaving it open for more films – in particular an adaptation of Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’…!?

Yeah, that’s probably the geek in me wanting too much.

Categories : Comics, Films, TV
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BOB Weekend

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But not bob as in ‘a bit shit’, Bob as in Batman, Open and Birthday.

The Open. The British Open. One of the four ‘major’ golf tournaments. Yes, I love my golf. I enjoyed playing it when I was younger and one day I will take it up again and swing the irons. Until then, I’m left playing it on the Xbox and watching it on tv. Some people moan about golf ruining a nice walk. Some people ask how you can watch it on tv when the coverage alternates between footage of sky and grass? But me, I love it. I could quite happily sit there all day and watch the BBC’s coverage. Cricket fans can sit and watch 5 day internationals – I can sit and watch 4 days of major golf. I’m also a Tiger Woods fan. He’s exciting to watch and his recent ‘off the fairway’ adventures only add to circus that surrounds him. Chip in that the UK and Northern Ireland have some really exciting players at the top of the world rankings at the moment and it’s got all the ingredients of being a classic. Royal Lytham is a notoriously difficult links course and plus the bonus of some truly awful English summer weather – it should be a proper skirmish.

Play starts on Thursday and I’m hoping to watch as much as I can – probably on BBC iPlayer while I work.

But Its not all golf, golf golf this weekend. For a period of time Saturday afternoon, I’ll be sat in front of an IMAX screen watching the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman triology – The Dark Knight Rises.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog posting, I’m not a gushing fan of the Nolan movies unlike most people. Yes, Nolan stuck pretty true to some major elements of the comic books but there are also some big deviations in my opinion. That being said, its a frickin Batman movie!! Not Spiderman but Batman! Hell, I actually got excited about the Joel Schumacher movies – and we know how those turned out. Basically, if it’s Batman, I’m all over it – good or bad.

And that leads nicely up to Sunday – the big Three Nine!! Yes, I’m about to enter my fortieth year. Time to grow up? I don’t think so.

Categories : Comics, Films, Sport, TV
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70 Years of Batman

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This weekend sees the release of the latest cinematic interpretation of the Caped Crusader.

Below is an infographic illustrating the evolution of Batman across 70 years (infographic created by @blairerickson )

Many thanks to Carl Milner for bringing it to my attention.

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Week 23 Photo

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Back on point!

Photograph taken of the viral graffiti for the launch of The Dark Knight Rises film. This little winged fella was on a wall in Stevenson Square, Manchester.

I think the aim was to photograph the symbol with your GPS location turned on and upload it with the correct hashtag. What a faff!!

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Week 18 Photo

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So this is me wearing goofy 3D glasses at the Vue Cinema in Accrington. Packed matinee showing of The Avengers – and yes, I am wearing a Captain America t-shirt.

General thoughts on the film – well it’s no secret I’m not a fan of Marvel comics or the films*. I don’t actually mind the Iron Man movies but I think this is due to the performance of Robert Downey Jnr. I thought the Avengers movie was as much nonsense as they could cram in to 2 hours of screen time – what a bleeding car crash! Yeah, I’m sure the fanboys out there were absolutely creaming themselves over it but personally… meh. If I come out of a movie showing looking forward to seeing a film again, then that is proof it has pushed most of the right buttons. As I write this, the thought of watching The Avengers again does not excite me in the slightest. The Avengers would’ve benefitted from being just Iron Man 3 and losing all the other characters.

Funnily enough, I endured X-Men: First Class again last night. Yes, there really wasn’t anything else on!! An hour in and I was wishing I’d played on the Xbox instead.

*The Punisher – now there is a Marvel comic I can read. Plus the 2004 film with John Travolta wasn’t half bad.

Categories : Comics, Films, Photography
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Holiday Reading

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Off to sunny Cuba in a couple of weeks – therefore I felt it was only right to stock up on a bit of holiday reading. You know, for the flight and while I’m lying by the pool suppin’ Mojitos.

The Boys Vol 9: The Big Ride and The Boys Vol 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker – both published by Dynamite Comics. Batgirl: The Lesson and Red Robin: 7 Days of Death – both published by DC Comics. All purchased from Forbidden Planet.

Categories : Comics, New Purchases
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