Welcome

Welcome to my blog. The home page will always display the most recent blog post so please use the tabs to navigate your way around. Keep up to date by visiting the 'News' area. The 'Short Stories' area and the ‘Flash Fiction’ area contain everything produced thus far, and comments would be much appreciated! Be sure to check out the 'Three Words' area that will explain how you can get involved in influencing the written work to come, or for details on contributing your own artwork visit the 'Artists' area! You can read my 'Blog' (in the truer sense), additional content is also available via the 'Other' section and don't be afraid to leave a comment in the 'Guestbook'. Thanks for visiting!



Monday, 1 August 2011

Blog, blog, blog!

First things first, I'm actually blogging a bit more conventionally!

I keep making promises about regular updates with pieces of writing but the thing is I keep failing my targets for different reasons, so now at least I can almost gauruntee there will be a new blog post every month, that's something, right? I have a real problem adhering to self imposed parameters when it comes to writing and as soon as I get an idea for something it just keeps expanding! Whilst I am only truly responsible to myself I'm going to take advantage and let the creativity flow before third party commitments shackle me in the future! I hope you guys understand!

I did consider the possibility of making an actual website because I'm misusing this slightly in that it's actually a blog but I've taken advantage of the static pages feature to craft a 'website' here. Maybe if and when things kick off I might have to move it but for now I'm comfortable. I like the page views tracking (though I'm sure you can get that somehow for your own website) and also the fact that it's third party. If there was ever a case of somebody plagiarising my writing to use in competitions and such I feel safer having dates of publish logged with somebody as credible as Google! Anything you post online is your copyright, remember that people!

I've also deleted my other blog (Paul106i - No Pen in Hand) and moved all the content into the other section on this blog.

Okay! So in terms of writing I've been up to over the past month I once again got carried away with one of the short stories. The winning three words were 'sky-pirates', 'sword-fighting' and 'avalanche'... come on, I didn't stand a chance.

I'm currently four sevenths / five eighths of the way through the first draft and enjoying it. In fact I like it so much that I've integrated it into the same timeline as the massive fantasy series I have planned for the future! It is set in the same world although I've not quite sorted it's when in comparison to the main series. I'm considering running this alongside as a web writing series though I'm not sure on that yet, I'm still figuring it all out! So, when I do eventually post it on here it might be better to consider it as sample text from future publishing. I can tell you now that it starts straight in the middle of a situation so the build up to how they got there is still undecided and might be revealed later on... or you might have to wait until I put it in a book... in that case I might rewrite and refresh parts of it - I just don't know yet! In any case I'm going to roll it out on here in parts when it's all finished.

In the past month I've finished reading Stephen King's 'Wolves of the Callah' from his 'Dark Tower' series. I'm disheartened that I've nearly finished the series now (two books to go) as it's great stuff, hence why I'm breaking it up and taking so long to finish it! Whilst reading it I've had an amazing example of what the power of suggestive thinking can do because during the time I've been reading it I've been adding random sequences of numbers and 'everything is coming up nineteen'! It's crazy!

Anyways there was a new character introduced in the book and revealed that his back story is included in another book that Stephen King wrote outside of the series, so I've now started reading ''Salem's Lot'. You see? Other authors do it! Now my idea for the setting my short story in the same world as the mega series doesn't seem too outrageous! I'm just following the example of master craftsmen!

TV wise I've finally caught up with 'Smallville' in its entirety. I think there are 217 episodes just over 40 minutes each. Maths can frighten a person. I did enjoy it though and I have developed a lot more respect American writers to keep it interesting and story crafting over such a long period of time. I dislike that thing that happens in TV shows though where they use the same actor to play a sibling, it's just not right. Moved onto the new series of Doctor Who and Torchwood now and enjoying it thus far!

In other news my resolve has been broken and I've rejoined Facebook, I'm super stoked to get Trivium's new album 'In Waves' and I'm going to be very cranky over the coming months as the tennis tour has gone to America. I love my sleep.

Oh, and finally, I'm removing the restriction for comment posting so now you don't have to have a Google account or sign in with Twitter. I won't hesitate to reinstate it though, you've been warned.

Until next month, buh-bye!

For Richer, For Poorer - by Victoria Coren - Review - 04/04/11

Despite being written by a professional poker player this is not a ‘poker’ book in terms of strategy guides, instructions and poker education, it’s a biography written by a poker player about her time in the game. Therefore to read this book I had to be interested in the person, so let me quickly explain why.

My own poker journey began when I was seventeen years old. Friends of mine had been playing the occasional drunken game. Having heard this I decided to do a little research in case I might be invited and then all of a sudden it became something of a passion to me. I used to stay up late and watch a lot of poker on TV for tips (Only shows with professional players, I was worried if I watched the celebrity editions I’d pick up bad habits) and Vicky Coren used to be one of the regular commentators. I can’t remember which of the many shows I was watching but I became loyal to it because I liked her commentary. Then one day there was a stand in commentator and I was disappointed - Until they revealed the reason was because Vicky was sitting at the table!


I was instantly captivated and had a new poker hero. Obviously I rooted for Britons against the sea of Americans and Scandinavians but to watch the very player whose voice had guided me at the start of my poker journey? Yes she’s a woman and I was a seventeen year old boy so I can’t deny the crush element. There weren’t a lot of women on display at the tables, it made her something of an enigma to me and mystery encouraged interest.

To stop myself falling into trouble I elected to go the way of Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson and build a bankroll from nothing, playing freerolls in the hope of moving on to bigger things. As years passed and I didn’t win big, my love for the game subsided somewhat. I still enjoy playing, I just don’t rack up the hours online like I used to, the occasional play chip sit and go a couple of times a week is enough for me and live action has only ever been social with a competitive edge. However Vicky didn’t completely drop off my radar.

The thing is she’s not strictly a poker player. She’s been writing a weekly column for the Guardian since her teens (Not that I would’ve been interested in reading them at the time, I’m only 21 now and she’s erm … not.) and made appearances on a few TV shows I’ve watched, including hosting her quiz show ‘Only Connect’. I joined Twitter last year and following her has kept me interested and up to date in her pursuits. If I was ever going to read a poker player’s biography it would be hers and maybe quite possibly Gus Hansen if he ever chose to write one.

I got the book for Christmas because at the time I was reading ‘Black House’ by Stephen King and Peter Straub and it was so good I felt the next book I read had to be something non-fiction else I’d unjustly judge it too harshly. Vicky had been advertising her book on Twitter that same day so it seemed an obvious choice. I’ll admit I didn’t get round to it for a while because I read ‘Black House’ through a couple of times to try and educate myself in writing technique, but when I did eventually pick up my hardback copy of ‘For Richer, For Poorer’ I was in for a treat.

The strange thing was although I chose to read non-fiction to get away from a storyline, it kind of reads like one. Like a lot of fiction novels it starts with a glimpse of the ‘future’ before dropping back as far as when poker was first introduced to her by wanting to join in her brother’s game, the very beginning. It’s her first glimmer of interest in the game, though it’s not really about the cards, it’s more the environment and atmospheric conditions required to play it that she finds appealing.

In any case it marks the start of her poker journey and from that point on every chapter ends with an account of her thoughts when she made the final table of the European Poker Tour in London 2006 and is laid out in a hand by hand approach. It’s a nice recurring reminder during her description of the early years that the toils and struggles are not without reward and the constant flashes between eras feel quite cinematic.

We follow her progress in poker via plenty of little snippets that read like diary extracts which I found quite refreshing at times. Sure, more writing is dedicated to bigger events and milestones but it doesn’t hurt to have it broken up occasionally with a funny thought or unattached moment of humour; you get a real sense of her personality through what she deems notable but not of any profound significance.

She makes her first loose and as it turns out binding commitment to the game when she starts to meet new faces and gets invited to the first of the ‘Tuesday games’. Kindred spirits are formed and from there as her confidence grows she slowly elevates herself to the fringes of ‘The Vic’; a dark, gloomy and subdued traditional building full of people who play poker as it should be, every one of them enshrouded in a mystery and a back story, but in no way inclined to divulge it. It takes her a little while to consider herself a true regular there and in the mean time her journalistic connections get her invited to the occasional ‘celebrity’ game, even if she doesn’t count herself as such. It’s when she gets knocked out of a ‘Late Night Poker’ edition and chooses to hang around to watch the main event that she first meets a few notable players including Dave ‘The Devilfish’ Ulliott and more importantly Joe ‘The Elegance’ Beevers and gets truly swept up into the game, likening it so brilliantly to hot footing it after Alice.

Reading that she had a relationship with Joe Beevers was something of a revelation to me that took me by complete surprise. I knew she was linked to the Hendon Mob but not that the connection was so intimate. This stuck out to me because Joe Beevers was a huge influence on my game based on the first time I’d ever seen him play. He was the first person I’d ever seen on the televised events who laid down Ace-King pre flop. I just didn’t know you were allowed to do that. It changed my game forever and taught me that playing situations was just important as playing the cards.

As Joe sweeps her off her feet and gets her playing poker around the world we get to see how the game works through Vicky’s eyes. There are ups, plenty of them, but there are also downs and moments of danger. The game at this point is only just rising to the surface of TV exposure, the majority of it is still played underground and as such is still sometimes a bad place to be if you get caught up in the wrong situation. When he takes her to games guarded by gunmen it’s a stark reminder of how dangerous the environment was at the time. it’s also very interesting to read about how she got caught up in a strange situation where some self proclaimed defenders of society tried to force the game to remain underground by plating up a documentary that would ‘expose’ the game as seedy and degraded, and how it felt to be on the other side of such an exposé.

Eventually a few of the place names become familiar and you suddenly realise that at least a year has passed because the poker ‘tour’ is doubling back on itself. It’s a testament to her writing that it takes a while to realise because she chooses to write about new faces in old places, delving into a bit of their back story and how their personal and game orientated philosophies have changed her perspective to keep it fresh where it could have fallen into repetition. Her game is improving and it’s nice to read that she’s improving on results of the year before because it shows progress and builds nicely to the final table flashes as mentioned before.

In a moment that might please a few haters the second time she goes to Vegas its glamour is tainted or rather exposed by heartbreak and depression. It’s no longer a place of wild optimism and spectacular visuals and is stripped down to being little more than another place where there is a lot of gambling. It’s like you start to see the real Vegas; a place where punters are encouraged to spend money they can’t afford to lose, because the pretty bright lights and abundance of opportunities to win big are placed there cleverly just to reel you in and cash in on the self appointed marvel of the location.

Yes, she’s a poker player and yes, she went through a period of clinical depression. You can wipe that sneer off your face though, if anything the poker saved her. It wasn’t gambling and losing control that was the cause, her problems lay away from the table. That was the solace; she could play just to play, to immerse herself in the game in an act of therapeutic escapism. It’s in this respect that poker is like her true love; every time she has a break up or a bad event, poker is always there with open arms. It’s like a crutch she can always fall back on that won’t judge her or ask her probing questions, just be there for her whilst she works thing out in her own time.

One of the things that make this account of poker such an interesting read is that Vicky’s world changed with the popularity boom of the game she was tied so intricately to, dragging her into poker as we now know it from the underground culture like vampires brought to light. It could only be described so dramatically and honestly by a player of her generation who had lived it, and her background in writing makes her an ideal guide as we hold her hand and don our extra strength sun screen.

The best example of this to me is in describing the characters she met at The Vic. They come across as fictional characters from a novel and I could fully picture them in a card room. Obviously some of the credit goes to them for being such interesting if reserved people, but the way Vicky describes them transforms them from the pages into images lurking just out of sight in the mind’s eye.

The moments with her father are special and really intimate so I’ve chosen not to include them in this little write up because I’d hate to spoil what she’s created; you have to hear it from her. That goes for other moments of loss in her journey. I couldn’t do the way she described the situations justice so I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Yes, I do have a ‘favourite line’ in this book. It comes when Vicky is in talks with Pokerstars about officially joining their roster of professionals. The commitment would be a big one; it would mark the end of casual play and thrust her into the spotlight. Not quite committing, but not wanting to reject them outright she writes:

‘So I say, “Why don’t you put me in the London EPT, and we’ll see how it goes?”’
If you know anything about Vicky Coren you’ll know that she of course won it outright, the first woman to win such a prestigious event. It touches back on that fairytale theme, making the whole read something storyesque. I like to try and write fiction and parts of this book make me feel like I’m reading some, this line is so perfect for that. The fact it’s what really happened and had sets up a fairytale ending is why it strikes all the right chords for me.
__________________________________________________________________________


For a link to purchase the Hardback Cover version of the book from Amazon click:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Richer-Poorer-Love-Affair-Poker/dp/1847672914/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1301924854&sr=1-2

For a link to purchase the Paperback Cover version of the book from Amazon click:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Richer-Poorer-Confessions-Player/dp/1847672930/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298342723&sr=1-1

To visit Vicky Coren's website click:
http://www.victoriacoren.com/

To follow Vicky Coren on Twitter click:
http://twitter.com/victoriacoren

True Grit - Review - 24/02/11

The story starts off with small fourteen year old girl Mattie Ross looking to bring her father’s killer to justice. Much like the rest of the characters she comes into contact with, you soon learn how deathly serious and determined she is to do right by her father in one of the most honest, courageous and honour driven adventures you’re likely to see from a little ’un. She’s incredibly capable and independent and soon proves her mettle early when forced to spend the night at the undertakers in the company of the corpses of the men she’s just seen hanged with minimal fuss, and boy can she haggle!

Equipped with determination and a good understanding of the law she goes about hiring a bounty hunter and is presented with a few options. Having sat in on Marshal ‘Rooster’ Cogburn’s latest dressing down for his itchy trigger finger she decides he is the perfect man for the job and makes her approach, but as you’d expect he wants nothing to do with it or her. Enter Mr LaBoeuf the Texas Ranger who reveals he has been in pursuit of the same man for several months for a different crime he committed back in Texas. He tries to reason with her that they are after the same thing, so she should back off and let him do his job, but she is adamant that Tom Chayney will hang for the crime on her father, not some poxy Texas crime that happens to offer a higher reward.

Eventually she persuades the Marshal to take her offer but he is aghast at terms that she goes with him and tries to set off without her. She’s having none of it, and when she sees him on the other side of the river about to depart in union with the Ranger she shows just how adamant she is in a stunt with her newly acquired horse ‘Little Blackie’ that is the first step in winning the Marshal over. Begrudgingly the Ranger agrees to travel as a trio and now with the Marshal’s knowledge of the area as well as the Ranger’s knowledge of the target the adventure can officially begin.

One of the first things I’d say about this film is that it really does take you to another place. At first I found it slightly off-putting that almost every single character seems to be equipped with an abundance of intelligence in the form of quick wit and every conversation felt like an intense standoff and battle of the mind. Okay the girl is a spectacular example but being one of the main characters you’d expect there to be something special about her. Although she is vastly superior the rule seems to spread throughout the characters and even the exchange between her and the little stable boy is far more intellectual than anything you’re likely to eavesdrop on nowadays as you mill about on public transport. The one exception is a scene where there are a couple of kids are aggravating a horse with a stick, but the Marshal soon deals with them in one of the most comic yet understated moments I’ve ever seen on film. (I’m giggling right now as I think back to it.)

As soon as you surrender and allow yourself to become immersed into the story however it’s like being given the key to unlock the colloquial barrier, and phrases and expressions make perfect sense - every conversation had me captivated as I basked in this new language. It truly draws you in and this western world, although based on an actual period of time feels otherworldly yet inviting and desirable.

The chemistry between the main characters is brilliantly done. One of the things that I find impressive about this film is the lack of a true romantic love story. It seems nowadays that one gets slipped in to almost every film just to tick a box. Instead it focuses on a paternal bond that the girl starts to form with the Marshal which is subsidised with similar moments of bonding with the Texas Ranger whenever doubts start to form over whether the Marshal is actually a suitable candidate for the recently vacated position. Obviously there’s a hole in her heart that she is unknowingly trying to fill and this comes across brilliantly.

The relationship between the Ranger and the Marshal is also a highlight. They are reluctant to get on and their constant sparring for superiority of the situation is their own personal bond through one up man ship. This provides hostility and humour, the Ranger walking out on them multiple times and a great scene after the Ranger has been injured where a drunken Marshal sets up a one arm vs. one eye corn bread clay pigeon shoot out. Less ‘mine is bigger than yours’ and more ‘I can make better use of it’. When it matters though they are able to put their squabbles aside in the interests of protecting the girl in that natural ‘do it for the kid’ reasoning. Through joint effort they look out for her safety and a touching honourable exit from ‘Little Blackie’ ensure she makes it out of the film alive.

The three character performances were superb. Jeff Bridges makes an undisputed Marshal and I couldn’t think of anybody who’d have played the role better. I’ve often heard people criticise Matt Damon’s role in a number of films, but I can gladly say his performance as the Texas Ranger shouldn’t be one of them. Hailee Steinfeld’s big screen debut will be hard to top now such was the calibre of her performance. I just hope she can play another role in the future that can measure up to such an impressive start of what I’m sure will be a long and prosperous career. Their on screen chemistry is believable and refreshing and each of them supports each other when one character drops out of the loop to make a perfect trio. Their roles are clear and when the two men start their bickering it is the only time that little Mattie Ross drops her bravado and shows her age, trying her best to patch things up like a kid caught in the crossfire when mummy and daddy start fighting again.

Are you one of those people who don’t like Matt Damon’s acting and want to see Jeff Bridges literally try to rip his tongue out of his mouth? Maybe you want confirmation he’s a bad person and want documented evidence, like say if he were to bend a fourteen year old girl over his knee and give her a good old fashioned spanking? Or perhaps you just want to watch a thoroughly enjoyable western that is unlikely to be topped in a long, long time. In that case I recommend this film to you. The Coen brothers have done a fantastic job.

127 Hours - Review - 10/02/11

The first thing I’m going to point out is that I’ve seen this film twice in quick succession. I’ve never done that before and I’m also poor, let that be a measure of how good this film is. I even paid more the second time due to seeing on a weekend, and I didn’t mind.
I found myself in a similar situation recently.
 Luckily I was trapped for 125 hours less and
saved when the 'rock' was enticed off with
the rattling of some cat biscuits.


Going into the film you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who didn’t already know the story and it uses this to its advantage because the whole time you find yourself waiting for THAT moment. It teases brilliantly with the ups and downs of emotion filled scenes and each time his mood plummets you start to think ‘this is the moment’, only to be amazed at the man for finding more resolve and considering he is stuck in one place, how he does it is quite remarkable. That goes for the sceptics too; I was worried the film might consist of flashback after flashback, but there is enough event going on around him to pad it out effectively. Fear not though young bloodthirsty one for it is worth the wait, and the use of sound to go with the visual feast is splendidly horrific.

As you can imagine, in such a situation the film has its darker moments. I found it particularly chilling when Aron starts leaving messages to his parents telling them how much he loved them and apologising to his sister for not making it to her upcoming wedding. The thought of his family watching that footage can tug heartstrings when you think about it more deeply and in one moment he breaks up his current log to scream for help when he thinks he hears somebody. It’s filmed in random bursts and he watches it back on his camcorder in one of the grounding moments of his peril whilst he is still functioning reasonably well. Some more harrowing moments come as his body begins to deteriorate from malnutrition and the hallucinations start to take their toll, but Aron is a survivor and battles admirably through it.

This leads to some of the lighter moments as the best way he deals with the gravity of his circumstances is through humour. It’s deadpan but it lifts the spirits and the film follows suit by replicating the formula with several visual comedic moments, and a particular furry investigator proves to be a welcome recurrence. This is also subsidised by moments of personal triumph, whether that be a new idea for escape (again Danny Boyle’s choice of music provides a highlight) or taking pleasure in the rewards of his surroundings despite the adverse situation he finds himself in. The ultimate motivation for escape comes just when all seems lost. A vision of his unborn son helps him over the finishing line and it’s touching to read in the ‘what happened next’ script at the end of the film that his premonition came true. After all, if he went on to find he could only produce daughters I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated if I was ever in his position.

I genuinely felt like I want to be a better person at the end of this film. Credit must go to the real Aron Ralston for surviving such a horrible ordeal but also to Danny Boyle for recreating it so brilliantly and above all accurately. I also thought James Franco’s performance was superb.

Unfortunately, I don’t think everybody who watches this will feel that new respect for life or appreciation of what they have because some people are idiots. The first time I saw it there were a couple of old ladies who reacted when Aron brought blood to his mouth like he was some barbaric, self afflicting cannibal. The second time, there was a young couple some way to our right. The dude seriously said ‘Hurhur, imagine if he accidentally cut off the wrong arm’… I could not believe it.

But they are few! Everybody else who watches this film will feel as uplifted and inspired as I did, especially enjoying that wave of good feeling that courses through them when the final piece of music comes in, signalling the end of the film and the end of Aron’s ordeal. Go ahead! Live your life and remember, if the going gets tough just follow Aron Ralston’s example and do it for your unborn son! Although it might not be such a good idea to have him watch over as you perform gruesome DIY surgery on yourself; you’re going to create a psychopath.


Tron: Legacy - Review - 11/01/11

So recently I went to the cinema for the first time in ages. I can’t even remember the last film I saw, and 3D wasn’t even a thing yet. For no reason at all, in a sort of celebration of my trip I thought I’d write a little review! This contains mega spoilers and I am in no way a professional critic so it’s basically nothing more than (and definitely no better than) a rambling. You are in no way obliged to enjoy this!

This was my first experience of 3D and I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed. I got excited when the first thing to jump out at me was the Walt Disney logo, shooting out at the bottom of the screen with a visible trail of just how far it had travelled, but this was to be the peak of my 3D induced euphoria. I don’t know what I was expecting, and leaving it this long to see my first 3D film probably made me build it up too much as well. I know it’s still in its early stages but it did feel like a bit of a gimmick. My friend pointed out that there were certain scenes where the camera angled changed unnecessarily just to then make the moving pieces come towards you. The prime example of this being the scene where Clu discovers Kevin Flynn’s abode and in a fit of rage swipes at the objects on the table. The camera angle changes so that they fly towards you and it just feels a bit cheap, but I think it was a scene transition as well so that may be why it felt a little forced. Most of the time it felt alright, it just wasn’t particularly shocking or exciting. I may not have been helped by the fact the film itself warns that a lot of it is shot in 2D because it was designed to look that way. I spent the first third of the film constantly flicking my 3D glasses on and off to check if there was any difference.

In terms of the actual look of the film I was mightily impressed. It had the whole gamer feel to it and featured a lot of black backgrounds so the neon lights everybody was wearing looked appealing. When the motorbikes start with their bright trails it looks really cool. There was one visual slip that rubbed me up the wrong way however. Okay, so I know that Jeff Bridges was digitally restored to make him look younger and they did a fantastic job, it looked really impressive. The problem for me was that despite how good it looked, it wasn’t quite real enough. There was just something about Clu that whenever he came on the screen I felt like I was watching a cut scene from a computer game and it really started to irritate me after a while. I think the skin was a little too smooth, a friend mentioned the difficulties animating mouths and there was something off with his eyes as well. I know this sounds a bit weird considering it’s a film based on the story of a game but that doesn’t mean the people should look like they’re part of it!

Despite my constant irritation whenever Clu came on screen one of my favourite moments in the film came as he was delivering a motivational speech to his assembled army. I liked how Clu’s speech was like the mirror of when Kevin Flynn was first endorsing the grid, stating ‘In there is a new world! In there is our future! In there is our destiny!’ Instead, Clu adapts it as an invasion speech by only making a few changes. ‘Out there is a new world! Out there is our victory! Out there is our destiny!’ When Kevin Flynn says it, it’s in the back-story of events on a TV monitor and could be easily forgotten or looked over so it’s the kind of thing that could be missed by a lot of people because it was subtle. I found that made it more effective, a quiet pat on the back for the elite few who noticed, which works so well. It was made all the more impressive because Jeff Bridges has a really good gruff voice that spills over into a really manly growl when his character gets angry, ‘Our destiny!’ sounding so impressive it actually tingled the hairs on the back of my neck, like for real. I’m sure most people wouldn’t quite be affected the same way I was, but then unlike a lot of people I can only dream of making my voice sound as coarse, let alone reach that level of volume.

There were little bits spread out all through the film which I think were designed to appease the retro gamers. When Sam Flynn is piloting the machine gun as they flee to the portal there are several ‘Well done’ and ’Nice shot!’ moments when he downs a pursuer. The most notable one for me though is when Kevin Flynn tells his son ‘It’s all in the wrist’. Remember the game would have been around when computer gaming was unfashionable. If that wasn’t the script writers’ cheeky back handed reference to specially designated ‘alone time’ by young, lonely male gamers I’d eat my hat. (Assuming you first bought me a hat, and as long as it didn’t previously belong to one of those gamers.)

One of my favourite scenes was one for the loyalists, not that I am one. I am of course referring to the bike scene that replicated the game. I thought it was really good and looked spectacular. It was inventive in adding the human(ish) element to the game as well, what with the whole trapping a guy in between two bike slipstream things and having him bump about from side to side. I never played the game, but I also liked how adding the human(ishe)s meant adding a bit of story to the situation as well, and for a moment it was nice to see the people working together as a team (even if when Sam Flynn makes the stark realisation it’s a bit cheesy). The only problem was that they were in an arena, and going at top speed on their motorbikes, so there was an element of Mary Poppins’ handbag about it, especially when you consider the game would have had a bird’s eye view and had to fit on a single screen.

Another thing that really annoyed me was when all hope of making it to the portal before it closed seemed lost until Kevin Flynn just happened to notice they’d stumbled into the path of a train that went all the way there without stopping. I don’t mind when characters get a bit of luck, for them to last as long as they do in films like this it would be unfeasible for them not to, and I don’t judge too harshly at the occasional ‘Oh look this character is holding his own in a fight sequence despite having no history of combat training when the other guy has clearly been training for this exact moment’. (Rinzler however had every right to feel aggrieved). It felt like a quick fix to a problem that had been overlooked. A scene where they boarded the train in some sort of stealthy sequence was all it would have needed for me, but the way they chanced upon it with no security despite the fact it went straight to the portal was just too much luck unearned. I don’t care that there was an unexpected obstacle when they walked in on a full military base in the making, they shouldn’t have found the train in the first place.

In terms of the overall story I thought it was good and I enjoyed it. There were a couple of gaps for me because I haven’t seen the first film, so the part of Tron himself was a bit of a mystery to me. Obviously Clu has converted him to the evil team, he’s got the whole orange neon lights over the blue, but I don’t understand why he’s got two disks. Is one just a weapon? Or does it belong to somebody else? If someone could tell me that’d be much appreciated! I do like the whole inner ring being blue though to show you that he’s switched allegiances, very nice. What I don’t like is how easy it was to bring him back to the home team. Purely by telling him to look at himself, see what he’s become yadda yadda, and moments later he’s plunging his jet thingy into Clu to grant our heroes safe passage to the portal, screaming about fighting for the ‘User’. Too cheap for me. The colour on his grid suit changed back to blue as he was in freefall which could either be hinting at a sequel or just acting like a ghost that’s found his peace before he passes on properly and guilt free.

The other thing about the story is that because it’s an ‘epic’, the second half of the film followed a very similar pattern to many a film before it, which can’t be helped in most cases, it’s a logical progression of events. That doesn’t make it bad, it makes it familiar. The hard part is making it all seem original again. I’m going to have to judge that it succumbed to this problem though, in fact one of the first things a friend said as we were leaving the cinema is that we’d just been watching ‘Star Wars’. It was good though, I did enjoy it, and I thought some of the performances were good as well. Jeff Bridges impressed me and I enjoyed Michael Sheen’s cameo as Zuse.

I’m just a man who scribed my thoughts on a film I saw recently, don’t take it too personally okay? ;)