Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hex Dimension Review: Interstellar

It's been a while since I reviewed something in earnest, beyond my brief weekly titbits for Hex Picks. Quite honestly, there just hasn't been much out that's tickled my fancy. But now there's finally something meaty in cinemas - Christopher Nolan's first ever full-on space movie, no less - and Hex Dimension kindly let me be the one to tackle it. I've even whipped up a new Review colour-scheme to celebrate!

Nolan is most famous for his Batman films of course but, much as I love Batman Begins, it's always been his other work that really appeals to me. The Prestige and Inception - both produced in the gap between Batmans - are such brilliant and intelligent movies, and Interstellar looked set to follow that trend. To find out whether or not it actually did, hit the rather pretty link below.

Disclaimer: there is no interstellar travel in this film.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Hex Picks: Most Recent Comic

I started writing this blog for a couple of reasons. The main thing is a general love of films, of course, but perhaps even more important is the fact that I really needed to blurt out my thoughts about Prometheus.

That need has never really gone away, so when the chance came up to write some more about it for Hex Dimension, I jumped all over it. The only problem is that I was supposed to be writing about comics. This week's recommendations are the most interesting and most numerous in a while - so to take a look (and to find out just how badly I went off-topic) click the link below.

By happy coincidence, I got the new issue today!

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Companion Piece: 2014 Archive

And one more for luck. The Companion Piece has ended for the series (though it'll hopefully be back for Christmas) but I thought it would be useful to have one final post archiving all the rest, making it possible to access every episode of the series without having to search for them.

Actually that's a lie. The main reason I wanted to do this was to showcase all the header images we created for this series. I put far more effort into them than any sensible person would, and I'm extremely pleased how they all turned out. Flatline's still my favourite, I think, but there's a few contenders.

But the point still stands - it's nice to finally have all the episodes together in one place! So click below to check out all fourteen episodes of our Doctor Who discussions.


Deep Breath

Into the Dalek

Robot of Sherwood


Time Heist

The Caretaker

Kill the Moon

Mummy on the Orient Express


In the Forest of the Night

Dark Water

Death in Heaven

Series Eight

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hex Picks: Most Recent Game

I'm really enjoying this themeless month of recommendations, because it's forcing us to write about things that would normally get overlooked. Case in point: a small-scale Steam game snatched up in a weekly sale. There's no way any of us would have singled this out for our pick in a normal week, but today it gets a chance to shine!

To find out which game in particular (hint: it's the only one in the pic that you've never heard of) click the link below!

Play again? Y/N

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Companion Piece 13: Series Eight

Y'know, I'm going to miss doing The Companion Piece every week. I've never had a project with a consistant weekly deadline before - certainly never one with such a quick turnaround - and trying to keep on top of it was exhilarating, sleep-deprivation and all! Having said that, doing this week's final retrospective episode was something of a relief, because we could transcribe it early instead of waiting for everyone to catch a new episode first.

What's struck me most throughout the last twelve weeks is how everyone on the team approaches these episodes in such different ways. Matt King looks for action and excitement, Paul Blewitt wants logic and scientific accuracy, David responds to emotional content, Paul Everitt just wants good individual stories, and I'm a sucker for themes and arcs. And those different attitudes have never been more apparent than this week, where we talked about what worked for us and what didn't. The answers we all came up with could not be more different, and I think that's wonderful.

So one last time, for old times' sake, click the image below...

Lazy header-image is lazy.

Friday, 14 November 2014

(non-) Hex Picks: Most Recent Book

We skipped our usual first-week book recommendations this month (as I mentioned when I linked to our film picks) but I had this new background all ready to go and I never got the chance to use it. So, following Wednesday's debut of my new green background for discussions and opinions, here's my new book-related background too! I couldn't very well post it without at least mentioning a book, though, so here's the recommendation I would have written if I hadn't sucked and failed last week:

The Long Earth - Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Yes, I know, I've covered Pratchett twice before in these things, but the theme is my most recent book and, what can I say - I read a lot of Pratchett. What I haven't read a lot of is Stephen Baxter, who co-writes with Pratchett here. “Co-writes” is a slippery word, as it's never clear exactly who has done what - but having witnessed the deterioration of Sir Terry's prose over his last few novels, it's pretty clear that Baxter has handled most of the actual writing. I wish I'd actually read some of his other books, so that I could properly comment on whether he's purposefully emulating Pratchett's style or whether he just writes like that anyway - but either way they seem a perfect match for each other. Whoever's actually responsible, the deft worldbuilding and idiosyncratic characters feel wonderfully assured and familiar - this partnership is a strong one.

The story itself (which I'm only halfway through) deals with the sudden discovery - and universal public access to - an infinite string of parallel worlds. Our main character Joshua is, naturally, an explorer. Things get crazy quickly as he is employed by Lobsang, a supercomputer who may or may not be a reincarnated Tibetan mechanic, to head further out into these unknown Earths than anyone has ever ventured before. Interspersed with this main story (which, honestly, could be going anywhere at this point) are little vignettes depicting how various people from around the world have reacted to this new reality. I actually think these are the real meat of the book - using a “what if” concept to comment on society in the real world. The anger burning beneath Raising Steam (and Science of Discworld IV) is still here, but now it's channelled in a more hopeful direction.

All this adds up to a novel with a strong sci-fi concept hidden behind a deceptively light-hearted tone. Humour with an edge. Y'know, like a Terry Pratchett book. It feels like we got the master back, and I can't thank Stephen Baxter enough.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Hex Dimension: DC v Marvel: Dawn of Universes

You've probably noticed how psychadelic the blog's been looking recently. Well, now it's getting worse. This is the debut of my new Opinion Green theme, to sit alongside Recommendation Red and TARDIS Blue as ways to distinguish my nonsense. Hopefully all these colours are brightening the place up and not just hurting everyone's eyes! Anyway, to business...

With Doctor Who and The Companion Piece both winding down for the year, I finally have more time on my hands to write actual articles and opinion pieces and maybe even reviews! The first, which I hope will be one of several over the next few weeks, is a sceptical look at last month's press-releases from Marvel and DC, which announced their future movies.

I fall down pretty heavily on one side of the equation, and it's probably quite predictable which one - but I feel like my reasons are valid and the points are worth reiterating. Click the link below to take a look!

The main difference is that DC costumes have collars.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hex Picks: Most Recent Film

It's November, and that means it's time for another round of Hex Dimension's weekly recommendations. Due to a bunch of stuff (although, on my part, that stuff was mostly just uselessness) we didn't manage to get a selection of books together for the first week. As a result, we're jumping straight in this week with our film picks!

Our theme for the month is, unusually, the last thing that we read/watched/played. It's unusual because there's no quality control for this - we're not picking our favourites of a genre, or even good films - so for the first time we might end up with picks we don't actually like! I'm not saying that's necessarily what happened (though I'm not saying it isn't either) but it was an interesting selection we ended up with and definitely worth a look.

So go on - say "Hex Dimension" three times and click to summon the page...

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Companion Piece 12: Death in Heaven

It's been a few days since Death in Heaven brought an end to this latest series of Doctor Who, and I'm still kinda struggling with it. I can see, on a structural and intellectual level, how things played out the way they did and why that should have worked - and yet it never quite felt like it did.

It's all there, though. Every little setup and repeating motif in this crazy-dense series gets paid off in this one. Some are more successful than others (Courtney Woods and the Gifted and Talented class only seem to exist to set up one line) but they're all there and they all work. It's clever and meticulously constructed, to the point that there are (admittedly unnecessary) flashbacks from basically every single episode tying this one together.

Yet there's just something about the soldier arc that doesn't quite click, even though what happens makes perfect thematic sense. In The Companion Piece below, I had a few thoughts on what the problem might be, but even they don't seem quite right. I feel like I'm missing something fundamental, and it bugged me for days that I couldn't work out what.

But then I took a step back, and looked at the finale as a whole. Dark Water and Death in Heaven are one story, not two, and it's actually a bloody good one. This might be the best use of Cybermen I've ever seen - creepy and chilling and heartfelt and sad - and Missy is a villain for the ages! Taken as a regular Doctor Who story, this is a very strong episode. But, on top of that, it's bookended by two absolutely brilliant sequences with Clara and the Doctor - fulfilling everything their arcs were building to and proving, once again, that Coleman and Capaldi are maybe the strongest actors the show has had. That's the real finale of the series, and it's damn near perfect.

Viewed in that light, how could I possibly be disappointed?

Look familiar?

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Companion Piece 11: Dark Water

Doctor Who reached the first part of its climax this week, and I have to admit that it didn't completely work for me. It was good, definitely, but nothing really connected beyond the truly phenomenal opening scenes.

But what fantastic scenes they were! Clara, shockingly enough, steals the show again - turning well and truly to the dark-side but, more importantly, breaking our hearts first so that we'll understand why. And then the Doctor - Capaldi's cold, unsympathetic Doctor - turns the whole thing on its head and meets her betrayal with kindness and empathy. These two are so good together - so it's a shame that there's no more scenes like this after they leave the TARDIS.

There are, in Dark Water's defence, a lot of things it needs to set up. And it does so well, even at the expense of character drama. But add these new setups to the already massive pile of other things this series has set up, and there's a definite question over how (and even if) Moffat can pull all this together. I really hope it works, and I'm dying to find out how.

I've purposefully not said anything about, y'know, that reveal - or that other reveal that they gave away in the trailers - partly because spoilers, but mainly because that's exactly what The Companion Piece is for. Click the link below to head over to Hex Dimension and find out what the team made of all the questions and answers and more questions in this week's episode!

This image is probably a spoiler.