Thursday, 31 December 2015

Century Wings SR-71

SR-71 Blackbird U.S.A.F 9th SRW 61-7958 1990





When I first saw this model I pretty much fell in love, the SR-71 has always been a firm favourite of mine but the price was always just that little too high. That changed when KH Norton whose mailing list I am on mentioned that had a cancelled order and were offering limited stock first come first served and at a discount, click and paid within minutes:)

Friday, 25 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Die Hard

Die Hard

An annual watch so once again liberated a previous blog entry with some updates.
The debate rages on if Die Hard really qualifies as a christmas movie, it's set during christmas and you could probably engineer the same circumstances for any major holiday but for me the christmas theme is always there and becomes part of the story so it qualifies in my book. It really does have the important ingredients of family and redemption as the main character addresses mistakes made and lessons learnt through events in the movie, no different to a Christmas Carol when you get right down to it. New York Cop John McClane visits his family in LA as his wife took a good promotion but there are evident marital issues, it's not simply their jobs that are keeping them apart.
He arrives during the senior staff christmas party at the partially completed office building and before he even gets settled in the bad guys raid the festivities with superior manpower, technical resources and firepower. They present a terrorist stance but it soon becomes apparent that this is a high tech raid against the company's vaults which contains hundreds of millions of dollars in bearer bonds. While their plan seems to be going flawlessly the "fly in the ointment" soons makes his presence felt after witnessing the murder of a senior company official and the battle is on.

Die Hard from the opening scenes to the final credits is a classic action movie and is holding up very well as the years move on, yed technology wise the state of the art gadgets are laughable but the production and style of the movie seems to be proving ageless. Bruce Willis earned every penny of his then record breaking paycheck having really made the most of his success on tv with Moonlighting and negotiating a huge contract but he is ably supported by Alan RickmanBonnie Bedelia and Reginald VelJohnson. While I will always watch this movie over the christmas holidays it's also an option for when I want a good high energy action flick made when the studios were not afraid to make something for adults rather than just the family.
Welcome To The Party Pal!


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The O.C.L.T. Omnibus: Books 1-4

The O.C.L.T. Omnibus: Books 1-4The O.C.L.T. Omnibus: Books 1-4 by David Niall Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've grown very fond of the idea of having a single world which allows multiple authors to write for it with as much interconnectedness as they see fit. The world of OCLT uses this writing style to offer up in this collection four stories which while standalone tells a bigger story and in this case the notion of the sum of its parts holds true.
In the first story "Brought To Light"written by Aaron Rosenberg we have a US military intelligence unit searching for a scientist and one of their own agents in Sweden and they come across something totally unexpected. The second story written by David Niall Wilson is called "The Parting" and deals with ancient magics brought into the modern world with a geo-political twist and those who seek to protect the world and it's people from such things. In the third story "The Temple of Camazotz" by David Niall Wilson we have a mystery surrounding an ancient religion/god in Mexico and its use to aid in a drug smuggling operation and finally the fourth and probably best of the bunch a very X-Files style of story called "Incursion" written by Aaron and deals with mystical and everyday forces on a tribal reservation when a number of strange deaths occur.
While each of the stories are entertaining in themselves when read together the use of the same characters and structure really comes to the fore and adds immensely to the enjoyment.

View all my reviews

Monday, 21 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Christmas Magic

Christmas Magic

Carrie Blackford (Lindy Booth) is driving back to the city in her new BMW when she stops off at a petrol station, she meets a bus driver and they have a friendly chat about life and christmas, he warns her to be careful driving in the icey conditions and they say goodbye. Carrie loses control of her car and smashes into a concrete pillar and wakes in central park with the bus driver and she learns that he is an Angel and after her crash she has been given the opportunity to return and improve the life of a restaurant owner. She agrees and meets Scott Walker (Paul McGillion) who owns a small restaurant which is close to failing, he is also a single parent of a young girl Abby (Kiara Glasco) and she gains his trust by offering her skills as an event planner to boost the marketing of his restaurant and she has until christmas eve to effect a change.

Christmas Magic is distributed by Hallmark so you know what you are going to get but this movie is a very definite step above the usual seasonal fare, two very good performance from Lindy and Paul with Kiara really shining. The story while certainly not unique was done well which again is helped by the casting and I don't think there is really anything not to like, well except for the singing at the end which for one song really was overplayed and didn't even sound like Scott.
 

For fans of Paul or Lindy this is the seasonal movie for you and it works if you are just looking for a family feel good movie for the holidays.


Friday, 18 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping

This feel good movie is a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy and one of her earliest, produced after her breakout in Demolition Man and the huge hit Speed which really gave her career a boost. In this movie she is a lowly cashier/collector on the city's network of elevated trains who is mildly infatuated with a guy (Peter) she sees on daily basis. Working on a christmas eve she sees him accosted and he falls onto the tracks, she jumps on to the tracks and saves his life. A slight hiccup at the hospital has the staff and the man's family believing she is his fiancee and this surprising but most welcome news helps the family get through the holidays while their oldest son is in a coma. Meanwhile complications mount up as the lie is played out and to add a further twist Lucy (Sandra Bullock) and Jack (the older brother) played by Bill Pullman fall in love but neither will admit it thanks to guilt and existing obligations. It all comes to a head after Peter awakes from his coma and well he asks Lucy to marry him (for a second time as far as he knows) and we get the classic farce wedding scene as everything comes to a head.



While You Were Sleeping is an excellent romantic comedy and a great feel good christmas movie, there is not a bad character or performance in the entire film even Joe Jr. Since I watch this movie every christmas I've taken last years blog entry and tweaked it a little, my opinions haven't changed, this will always be on my must watch list at christmas if not anytime.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Scrooged

Scrooged

I watch this movie every year so being the lazy so and so I am I copied and pasted the majority of this entry into the blog, so there:)
There have been many adaptations of the classic Dickens novel and to be honest those that stay within the traditional setting leave me a little dry so when I first watched Scrooged many many years ago it was because of it's star a certain Bill Murray. Since then I have watched the movie more times than I care to think about with no shame in the reasoning, it's an excellent reworking of the tale in a more modern era (well modern as in when it was made) and combines all the important aspects of the original with some very good comedic elements both through visual gags and some excellent writing and performances.

Robert Mitchum was great in his small role and Karen Allen as always a delight and it's hard to fault any of the actors, I particular liked the score for the movie as well. It was also rewarding to have a movie that made full use of the talents of Bobcat Goldthwait without going over the top, his hunting rabbit line was inspired and a sign of the times, Lee Majors was a fun cameo for those that grew up when he was a headliner on television:)




2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - A Christmas Horror Story

A Christmas Horror Story

All I really knew about this movie was that William Shatner had a pivotal but small role and truth be told he was magnificent as the radio disk jockey who was used to tie the stories all together. Yes this movie is comprised of a number of separate stories each I assumed directed by one of the guys who shared credit for the movie. One story deals with the investigation of a year old double murder of two young people at a private school, three teens sneak into the building to make a documentary and find themselves locked in the building where the murders took place. Another story has the original police officer who investigated the crime trying to get his life back with his wife and son, he had taken leave for stress after the bloody events of the year before. The family goes to get a tree from some private land and there is an incident with his son which turns christmas eve upside down. The next story follows a rather dysfunctional family on a trip to a wealthy relative, again it does not go well and on the way back they crash their car and have to walk through the woods but there is something out there that punishes the naughty. The final story is more whimsical as we are at the North Pole and Santa is almost ready for his annual trip around the world when something terrible happens to his elves and hell comes to the workshop.

William Shatner as Dangerous Dan
Adrian Holmes as Scott
A Christmas Horror Story was an entertaining movie, Bill was brilliant and each story made full use of the tropes of the genre although I have to say I had an inkling about the story that was being unveiled as the movie went on but it still was enough of a surprise to be a credit to the writers, directors and editors.

Monday, 14 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe is a 2006 movie which stars Michael Shanks as Kevin Harrison and Jaime Ray Newman as Susan Chandler. Susan lost her husband in a car accident the year before and her son Jonathan (Burkely Duffield) claims that the ghost or spirit of his father has returned and talks to him, his snotty and smack worthy attitude combined with financial pressures has the first christmas without her husband becoming a bit of nightmare.
Susan meets Kevin after she rams his car while she was talking on the phone, it's not a great first meeting and the second meeting is after Jonathan attacked a fellow student and she is called in to talk to the councillor and yep Kevin is the new school councillor.
Kevin is sympathetic and offers to go above and beyond to help Jonathan although you wonder even at this stage he is attracted to Susan, of course nothing they can do will make Kevin look anything but a good guy mainly because the "spirit" of the dead husband (Tom played by Conan Graham) comes across as a bit of a dick. First he communicates with his son with no regard to how the world would see something talking themselves in public least of all a young boy surrounded by his peers so getting bullied isn't a surprise. Tom also goes on to pretty much stalk and terrify his former wife with his spooky piano playing and lights flickering. To be fair he ultimately shows he wants the best for his family by supporting the story's main plot to get Kevin and Susan together albeit in a very complicated way and with many a false start but this is a christmas family movie and you will get the happy ending:)

Hockey is involved in this movie.
Under the Mistletoe has it's issues but overall it's a good seasonal movie with some fine performances from the two leads and well worth a mention is Ingrid Torrance (SG1) who played Diane Holmes, but I disliked the son and hated the father and the dotty shopkeeper had me seething:)


Sunday, 13 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Hell On Wheels

Hell On Wheels

AMC chose to split the fifth season in half showing the first seven episodes in 2015, the remainder of the season has yet to have a US airdate announced but it can't come soon enough.


The fifth season follows our anti-hero Cullen Bohannan played by Anson Mount as he continues the search for his wife and child and to aid that he is now working for the Central Pacific railroad driving through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The storyline deals strongly with the Chinese aspect of building the railroad from the exploitation of contracted labour, class of cultures and racism inherent in the people and the system of the time.
Tim Guinee returns as a regular playing Collis Huntington the railroad owner and Christopher Heyerdahl once more aids an appropriate amount of devious menace to the proceedings despite his current cloak of religious respectability. Of course we can't forget Colm Meaney as the larger than life Thomas Durant who continues to be totally untrustworthy as he drives the Union Pacific westward. In the center of the season so far is the ever present shadow of Salt Lake City and the Brigham Young who is looking to have the two railroads meet in his city and lead to a utopia where his people and religion would become dominant.



AMC may consider The Walking Dead to be their crown jewel and it is in pure viewership but I can't help but believe Hell On Wheels would get as much praise and marketability if more people would take a chance on it. The writing has been flawless throughout the series and production levels second to none given so much location work and the period aspect of the show. The final episode of this run left us with a bit of a cliffhanger which you realise they have been building towards since the previous season if not the very first and that is the quality of the writing.
There is no doubt in my mind that come the conclusion of the series a Blu-ray boxset will find a welcoming home on my shelves and once I can submerge myself in the birth of the intercontinental railroad and all that hell it brought with it.


Saturday, 12 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

While the movie is certainly not set at christmas there is a lot of snow and you get the main character on a path of redemption, that for me makes it a christmas movie and one I do watch more than once a year. To be honest anyone that doesn't consider it worth finding the time to watch one of Bill Murray's best movies has something wrong with them:)



Groundhog Day follows Phil Connors a very arrogant regional weather man who draws the short straw to visit Punxsutawney and cover the Ground Hog festival. He goes along with his camera man and new line producer (Rita Hanson played by Andie MacDowell) and the coverage of the event is fine but on the way back they get caught in an unexpected snow storm and return to Punxsutawney. Phil awakes the next day to the same music on the radio and the same people in the same situations, he is living the day all over again and again and again.
The majority of the movie covers Phil as he explores the options with living the same day so many times, he uses it to seduce women, steal money and indulge the more negative aspects of his character until he sees the opportunity to better himself with music and medicine and many other things to make those around him feel better. Ultimately having spent so much time in the company of Rita he eventually has an almost perfect day and no matter how hard he tries he can not recreate it until she surprises him and maybe herself and they spend the night in his room and he awakes to find her at his side. Phil can now live the rest of his life.

Groundhog Day is a classic comedy with dramatic elements but at it's heart it's teaching the viewer a lesson as we see Phil fall and rise as he embraces the negative and then the positive aspects of humanity. It also has Stephen Tobolowsky and that is never a bad thing:)
Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"?

Friday, 11 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - The Santa Clause Movies

The Santa Clause

The first movie in this trilogy is a comedy but has a serious overtone missing from the following two and it doesn't feel out of place, in fact it adds some weight to the story that's missing in those that follow. So Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a workaholic who has ruined his marriage to the point his young son Charlie has no desire to spend christmas eve with him. During the night they are both woken by noise on the roof and find a guy dressed as Santa, he is startled and falls to his death, you see what I mean, not all sunshine and rainbows. Scott puts on the Santa suit which triggers the "clause", he is now officially Santa and completes the rounds for this christmas with Charlie in tow. For the following year Scott is in denial which causes grief with his son and ex-wife but as christmas approaches he gains weight, grows a beard and THE list arrives. IMDB


The Santa Clause 2

So Scott Calvin is settled in as Santa but his son Charlie is on the naughty list after lashing out at school and vandalising property. The principal Carol Newman played by the simply gorgeous Elizabeth Mitchell is not willing to spend money on decorations and comes across as a bit of a hard ass but we soon learn she is very different in her personal life which is helpful as Scott needs to find a Mrs Claus before christmas day or he ceases to be Santa. Scott begins to court Elizabeth and wins her over until he reveals his identity and she pretty much flips accusing him of running away from commitment and honesty. Meanwhile a "fake" Santa is running the North Pole and when he gets hold of the rule book begins his reign of terror, coal for every child in the world. IMDB


The Santa Clause 3 The Escape Clause

In the final movie in the series Carol in very pregnant and the pressures of being away from her family clash with Scott and his commitment to getting ready for christmas. He decides to bring her parents to the North Pole and disguise it as a Canadian toy factory but Jack Frost who is looking to become a force in the world manipulates events and gets Scott to admit he wished none of this had happened. The escape clause is triggered and time rewinds and Jack Frost becomes Santa and the North Pole is turned into a theme park and money making machine. Scott having lived the time again and losing friends and family visits the North Pole and attempts to remove Jack and revert the timeline to what it was meant to be. IMDB


The Santa Clause movies are a lot of fun, I enjoy the second movie as I like the romance between Scott and Carol but it's also a little funnier. The first movie is probably the better "film" but a shade darker and the third is more slapstick and has a significantly smaller budget and it shows.
Great christmas movies though and I've just seen the Blu-ray boxset (I have it on DVD) but the price is a little high, maybe I'll check again after the holidays:)


Thursday, 10 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Trapped In Paradise

Trapped In Paradise



There are many Nicholas Cage movies I don't like and there are many that have received viewer and critical acclaim and judging from the reviews Trapped In Paradise is a movie that is not that good nor appreciated by the audience. That said for some reason I just enjoy watching this movie once a year during the christmas holidays, at least from about about ten minutes in:)

Trapped In Paradise deals with three brothers namely Bill, Alvin and Dave played by (Nick Cage, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz) who rob a bank in the small town of Paradise and from then on through a number of trials come to understand that what they did was wrong and change their evil ways and are rewarded for it. On the surface you can easily see the appeal during the holiday period as bad guys (but not really) meet good people who by example bring the antagonists back to the side of goodness. Of course this is comedy and relies a little too much on the usual sticht of Dana and Jon with Nick as the straight man, it doesn't always work and that is where the movie falls a little flat. The support cast is excellent though with some great performances both in the emotional sense and the humour and I would say adds more to the movie than the main cast. I'm not going into any specific plot points even though this movie was released in 1994 because my guess is that this probably passed you by even in the great days of video rental and for the last few years anything with Nick Cage in the credits (barring established hits) seems to be avoided by the mainstream audiences.


Trapped In Paradise is not a great christmas movie despite some very familiar themes, it's not a great crime caper or fish out of water comedy either but overall it kinda works and is certainly worth a watch.





Wednesday, 9 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Deadliest Catch

Deadliest Catch

This is the eleventh season of the Discovery Channels premier reality/drama show dealing with the crab fishermen of the Bering Sea. While overall there was nothing new in this season the ingredients to make the final product offered up plenty of humour and drama with the usual mix of relationship and real world issues impacting on the job.

It has to be said that Deadliest Catch makes no bones about clever editing to maximise drama and pretty sure they milk the ups and downs of the "greenhorns" who are taking their first trip on a working crab boat. That said the entertainment derived from watching men (and a woman) face down mother nature never lets up and while we don't see weeks of simple, clear skies and calm seas fishing we do see the worse the crabbers have to deal with. The downside of an edited reality show is that you simply do not know for sure how serious events and situations are so you're never quite sure if you should invest in the conflicts between characters or events in their real life. However as before the sheer thrill of watching the boats and crews brave 30 foot rogue waves which smash the decks more than makes up for any question mark you put against a "story" being told.


The eleventh season had eighteen episodes and perhaps the highlight was Jake making a move away from the NorthWestern to skipper the Saga, it was very risky and perhaps proved he still wasn't quite ready but he didn't fail and that's a learning experience. He also became a father and pretty much had to leave right away to take on his duties on his new boat, it's that element of real world and the extreme workplace that makes this series work.



Monday, 7 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Ice Pilots NWT

I'm going to be posting some comments and/or reviews for the programming I watch while off work this December, these are not particularly shows that are aimed at the holiday market but shows I have put aside throughout the year with the intent to marathon.

So let us begin...

Ice Pilots NWT

The sixth and final season of this reality/docudrama only had eight episodes and in many ways it benefitted since they didn't have to dream up some of the more "silly" storylines to keep the show going. In truth the show sticks to the formula, the everyday lives of the main family and personnel of Buffalo Airlines as well as the ups and downs of the airline itself and as is the norm new "characters" thrown in to spice things up. This season we got Air Canada demanding the removal of Joe, a major engine fire on one of the C-64's, problems when all the large cargo planes were down during the christmas rush and the loss of Sophie the dog who had been with Joe and the airline for 16 years.


The entry level job for pretty much everyone with the airline is reception/cargo and on the ramp, again we are introduced to a couple of new guys looking to become pilots but have to pay their dues with those important but thankless tasks. We also learn that one of the DC-3's believed to have been used in D-Day was indeed one of the hundreds used drop paratroopers behind enemy lines prior to the invasion. With proof Mikey approaches the Canadian Air Force and offers the plane to celebrate the anniversary of invasion and bravery of the troops and we get a very interesting and compelling storyline as the plane has to be retrofitted to original spec along with some safety features and of course a couple of the Buffalo guys choose to make their first jumps as well.



I enjoyed this final season of Ice Pilots NWT, a good mix of characters and situations without going to the extreme that some reality shows which centered on real world concerns, of course they still create conflict and manipulate people but they showed some restraint.