Tuesday, July 19, 2016


A little while ago I announced that while I loved RPGaDAY and everything it stood for, I was simply too busy to do all the organisation, the promotion, the video filming, the editing, the daily posting, and so on.

Thankfully, RPGaDAY has been saved by Anthony Boyd and the RPGBrigade who have kindly stepped in to host RPGaDAY this year. Everything is explained in the video below:

Just like previous years, RPGaDAY is a celebration of everything positive and fun about tabletop roleplaying. The premise is simple - just download the image with all the questions on it from the RPGBrigade site (or even just the image posted below). Look at the questions, and then, one question per day in August, post something on social media, your blog, your vlog, the back of a milk carton, anything you like. Just spread the word about how cool RPGing is. If you like, you can share your post on the RPGaDAY page on the RPGBrigade site and they'll collate everyone's posts.

You can check out the RPGBrigade's RPGaDAY page here

and you can follow all the fun and excitement on the RPGaDAY Facebook page here as well...

Check back before the end of the week, and I may just reveal *why* I've been so busy and haven't the time for RPGaDAY this year...

Saturday, July 16, 2016


After a few weeks of very little happening on the blog, I've a lot of updates in a short period of time, culminating in the biggest update of them all. But we'll come to that in due time.

The exterior of the Palace Theatre, London.

First of all, Debs and I were lucky enough to secure tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the play that is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre in London. Written by J K Rowling and Jack Thorne, this is the official 8th story, continuing the tale of Harry Potter long after the Battle of Hogwarts and the defeat of the dark lord Voldemort.

Debs outside the theatre!
JK Rowling has expressed a desire for people to "#KeepTheSecrets" and not spoil the story for people, making sure that the surprises in the play (and there are plenty of those) remain surprises. And I respect that. But I did want to write a blog post about it.

Don't worry, NO SPOILERS!!!

I'm not a massive theatre goer, though we are both huge Harry Potter fans. I must admit, I went in a little worried. What if it was going to be the new Attack of the Clones? What if it was awful and tarnished my love of Potter forever?

Luckily, I had nothing to worry about.

Recapping the final moments of the last book, sending Albus Severus Potter off to Hogwarts for the first time, the play continues, following a new generation of Hogwarts students, coping not only with their own troubles, but also with the legacies of their incredibly famous parents.

Again, without spoiling things, the story of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child echoes the themes and events of the previous books perfectly, with humour, action and deeply emotional moments that had the audience enthralled from the very start.

Me, looking like a goon, outside the theatre as well.
The production was astounding. The sets were perfectly designed, with elements that echoed throughout the theatre, right down to the wallpaper, and even the decoration at the various bars.

There were magical elements, both with stage effects and trickery to reflect the magic of the wizarding world, that had us all gasping, and even looking back on it now it's difficult to see how it's pulled off so quickly and seamlessly. We were amazed.

However, the best element of the play by far is the cast. Everyone (and I mean, everyone) is perfect in their roles, but the real standout performances had to be Albus Potter (Sam Clemmett) and Scorpius Malfoy (Anthony Boyle). Bringing an awkwardness to their roles that perfectly fit their characters, they shone in every scene they were in, with such humour and emotional depth you really felt for them both.

L to R: Harry Potter (Jamie Parker), Albus Potter (Sam
Clemmett) and Ginny Potter (Poppy Miller)
There are revelations in the play that will have everyone gasping, laughing and crying. Previews end 31st July (aptly Harry's birthday) and a fresh batch of tickets go on sale in August for May 2017-2018 and we're already considering going again. 

The script for the previews will be published on the 31st July as well, so if you can't make it to the play, you can read the story for yourself (and it will be published again before the end of the year with the final version of the script - the post previews version, so to speak).

It's seriously a must for any Potter fan.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Princes of the Universe

Every so often I get the opportunity to review movies. Sometimes they're new movies about to hit the big screens, and sometimes they're older films that have resurfaced on shiny remastered bluray. But rather than just review the movie, I like to add a little context. After all, the site I used to write for has gone, so posting on my blog I like to keep it a little more personal. Review the movies that have touched me, or have a history with me. 

A little while ago I was notified of the 4k restoration of one of my favourite movies - Highlander - and was given the opportunity to see the new and shiny edition of the movie. Previous DVDs and blurays had not done the film justice, and I'm happy to report that the new edition is just as glorious, just as loud and just as immortal as it should be.

Highlander was one of those weird movies in the 80s. I went to see a lot of movies, and this was right when I was in my sixth form and trekking every saturday to the nearest cinema fifteen miles away on the bus to see just about everything with a slight science fiction theme. The poster immediately caught my eye, with its cool sci-fi typeface, and some guy in a trenchcoat carrying a sword. 

The original Highlander poster in all of its glory!

Looked pretty epic, but I had no idea what it was about until I paid my ticket money at the box office. 

Often, the best movies are experienced like this. I had seen some very brief ads on the TV for The Matrix before going to see it, completely unaware of what it was about. Sometimes, in fact often, not knowing can be part of the fun.

That said, the legendary tale of immortals battling through history until only one is left, can be confusing when you first approach it. The publicity images mixed 80's New York with scenes that are better suited to Braveheart. There's about three words said in the first ten minutes, and it's not until over forty minutes into the movie that you discover why we keep flashing back to the Scottish glens and the clan MacLeod. I always remember a classic TV listing for the movie in the Radio Times calling it a "time travel epic". Well, I guess the characters do travel through time, but linearly and at the same speed as everyone else! Maybe that guide's reviewer didn't get that far.

The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) all restored and imposing.

As a teenager, I was hooked. Amazing visuals, one of the coolest and most iconic villains in cinema with Clancy Brown's gravel voiced Kurgan. A fantastic soundtrack peppered with Queen songs. And Christopher Lambert playing the hero who mouths off to the cops, takes crap from no one, and has mastered the art of hiding a katana in his trenchcoat.

What's not to love? 

The more you look at the movie, the more you appreciate the visual flair of director Russell Mulcahy. From the opening panning shot swooping over the audience of a wrestling match at Madison Square Garden, long before the existence of drones that make such shots so easy now. To the brilliant transitions from present to past, from aquarium water level to Scottish loch, from the incapacitated and dying form of MacLeod in ancient Scotland suddenly being the subject of police camera flashes. Everything about it is beautiful, inventive and brilliant.

Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) about to square off against Fasil.

I bought the novelisation, bought "A Kind of Magic" Queen album, and did fencing in school sports, shouting "There can be only one!" before the teacher reminded us that foils were not supposed to be held two-handed and swung around our heads. (Wasn't long before we were at it again, shouting "You're not my father" while making lightsaber noises).

Highlander was one of those movies that stayed with you. I watched it so many times on VHS that I could quote it almost word for word, and eagerly awaited the release of Highlander II. I remember asking a girl out to go and see the second one, but she turned me down. I think she dodged more than one bullet that day...

When I met my future wife, and discovered she could recite the movie just as well as me I knew it was destiny. Our first real holiday away together we drove to Scotland and took in the locations, from the stunning Glencoe, to Castle MacLeod itself, Eilian Donan. We were both so sad to cross the border south again on the way home. 

The previous releases of Highlander have been less than perfect, with the bluray before looking like an upscaled VHS that looked so grainy that you wondered why you bought a bluray player to begin with. 

MacLeod and the Kurgan fight for the prize in the newly restored version

Thankfully, the new 4k restoration is glorious. While I don't have 4k capabilities, the bluray release of this restoration is as clean and clear as if the movie was released yesterday. Sure, you can see the wires during the finale (though not as bad as the initial release) but making up for that is the picture quality that really shines in both the rainy New York scenes and the epic vistas of Scotland. It just made me want to pack up and move to the middle of nowhere again, to hide from the world in that amazing landscape. One day, Debs... One day...

There are plenty of extras too, including a nearly two hour making of, interviewing the producers and writers, as well as new interviews with director Russell Mulcahy and Christopher Lambert, deleted scenes and a commentary by Mulcahy. 

It was wonderful revisiting Highlander, like being reunited with an old friend and discovering they are just as cool as when you last saw them. Now, if only they'd release the TV series on DVD in the UK... 

Highlander, the 4K restoration based on a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and restored by Deluxe London, under the approval of director Russell Mulcahy, is available on DVD and bluray on the 11th July 2016, marking the 30th anniversary of its release. God, I feel old now...

With thanks to STUDIOCANAL for letting me review it.

Seriously, you've all seen Highlander haven't you? If you haven't, here's the trailer for the restoration. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Until next time, stay multiclassy. There can be only one!