We had a lot of fun at the event last year, so I’m pleased to say tickets for PLAY Expo, the North’s biggest gaming expo have gone on sale this morning. The show will take place at EventCity, Manchester on 10th and 11th October 2015.
PLAY Expo is in its fourth year in Manchester and has more than doubled in size over that time. Hundreds of screens of next-gen, indie and retro games as well as eSports, cosplay and stars of film and TV pulled 19,000 attendees through the doors of the highly-successful two day event last October.
Replay Events Director Andy Brown said “PLAY Expo 2014 was a huge leap forward for us in terms of scale and ambition but we delivered a knockout show that our attendees absolutely loved. The bar has been set very high for PLAY Expo this year, but we already have plans underway to smash all previous records out of the water.”
Last year saw them add a TV section and a few celebrity signings, a careers fair, and ‘Youtuber’ meet and greets, and these will be expanded, but there’s more coming too. One of the new additions for 2015 is area dedicated to the gaming crack of the under 16s – Minecraft – where they will be running a Hunger Games tournament and a creative build server. Of course this won’t be at the expense of any of the other parts of the show, it’ll just be even bigger this year.
PLAY Expo is one of the most diverse gaming expo in the UK – where else can you see so many of the latest games and technologies alongside arcades, pinballs, retro consoles and computers? This year is will also feature the UK’s largest arcade and pinball display, industry speakers, movie props and vehicles, card and board games, merchandise plus a host of other features. More announcements will be made in the coming months.
Further information and tickets are available from www.playexpo.net
San Andreas is a disaster film in the classic ’70s / ’90s mould, when it was perhaps easier to enjoy cinematic destruction without the intrusion of real world tragedies. Part of the appeal of this genre is its sadism, but it’s a very fine line to walk tonally; San Andreas will make you cheer at one person’s death then follow it up with epic vistas of presumably millions dying, scored to choral music to make sure you’re taking it as seriously and dramatically as possible. There’s a strange punitive morality at work here. Along the lines of Roland Emmerich’s 2012 there’s also a lot of camp value, but anything with this many buildings falling is going to evoke 9/11 at which point the laughter is abruptly cut off. (More so if you’ve seen anything of the recent earthquake in Nepal, which the marketing department have tried to acknowledge with a “Support Nepal” box on the poster.)
The opening scene establishes the film’s tone and how it wants to play with your expectations. A teen drives through the San Fernando valley. She’s distracted, picks up her water bottle. A car drives past. Her phone goes off, she picks it up, a car goes past and… she’s fine. Then BAM! A rockslide out of nowhere knocks her off the road. But what’s playful and fun when it comes to this one person doesn’t work as well on the larger scale – it’s still very entertaining but it’s not enough to maintain the level of escapism, to stop you from questioning why we enjoy watching so much suffering and death.
This is partly because the actual plot is meant in earnest (or is too deeply ironic to discern otherwise), and this earnestness starts to infect the rest of the movie – e.g. the giant American flag, flying majestically in slow-motion. Ray (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) team up to find their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) trapped in San Francisco. The Rock is perfectly cast as a rescue fireman who can fly helicopters and planes, drive SUVs and boats, parachute and swim like a badass. He even gets to punch a looter in the face.
His daughter has picked up many of his survival skills making her more than a mere damsel in distress. More often than not she’s actually saving the men she’s with, British Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his comic relief kid brother Ollie (Art Parkinson). There’s some emotional family backstory that doesn’t quite add up, and the pay-off can be seen coming a mile away, although at least it explains why anyone would ever divorce The Rock (the most unbelievable part of the premise). Paul Giamatti is once again sorely underused, sidelined with a subplot that’s wholly unnecessary exposition and slow pushes-in on his face as he says some variation of “God help San Francisco.”
SAN ANDREAS is in cinemas May 28th 2015
6/10 – Cheesy and spectacular in all the right ways, San Andreas still can’t overcome the reality of what it’s depicting
LIVE STREAM FROM 5.45pm 27th MAY 2015
Twentieth Century Fox are delighted to announce the theatrical release of SPY in the UK and Ireland on 5th June 2015, directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat), and from 5.45pm this evening
Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster.
Over the next week the cities of London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle & Glasgow will be invaded by Daleks, Cybermen, and the (slightly less scary) BBC National Orchestra of Wales & Chorus of Wales, as Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular Tour hits the UK. Celebrating the music of Who’s composer for the last 10 years, Mr. Murray Gold, the show is a musical trip through the last decade of the timelord, from Eccleston to Capaldi, and hosted by Doctor No 5. Peter Davidson.
Davidson, not in traditional cricket outfit (although the jacket does make an appearance), is an entertaining host, with various quips about needing to do a good job or he’ll be replace by Colin Baker, and how odd it is to have 10th Doctor David Tennant calls him ‘Dad’ (Tennant married Davidson’s daughter Georgia Moffett).
The show opens with a sequence of current Doctor Peter Capaldi on screen pulling various levers and turning dials in the TARDIS, whilst the orchestra, conducted by Who’s resident orchestrator Ben Foster, launch into the first of Murray’s themes, ‘A Good Man?’ The BBC National Orchestra of Wales are completely faultless in their performance, and the music and visuals draw you into the world of Who, immersing you in all things timelord.
Helping with that immersion, are the large array of monsters the Spectacular brings with it! From newer monsters like The Teller (5th eps, season 8), to the creepy Foretold (Mummy on the Orient Express) and The Silence, to classics like Cybermen, and of course, Daleks. The later of which take over the show, and wander (or rather roll) amongst the audience barking orders like only Daleks can!
A particular highlight for me arrived in act two with the epic and emotive Pandorica Suite which got an amazing reaction from the Birmingham fans.
Whether your a fan of the music, or just a fan of the tv show, there’s really something for people of all ages here. Along with being a great night out, it will remind you of how awesome the rebooted series has been, and have you reaching for your box sets or Netflix subscription to start watching the whole run again!
Drone investigates the murkiest of moral and legal grey areas in modern warfare. “It’s out of a bad science fiction novel,” says Brandon Bryant, a former drone operator, towards the end of the film, and yet it seems most of us are resigned to this new reality. Governments targeting and killing people thousands of miles away without a declaration of war and without a trial is and should be troubling; the bigger the distance between the button pushers and the button’s effect, it seems, the easier it is to get away with.
Drone is best when it’s closing this distance. Norwegian director Tonje Hessen Schei tackles the issue with remarkable breadth – human rights lawyers, US administration lawyers, former drone operators, drone strike survivors, journalists, authors and even a drone manufacturer are all featured – and while the film does suffer occasionally from a lack of focus, it’s mostly about making real the human cost (on both sides) of drones and how the victims can fight such a lopsided battle.
Legal challenges and discussions at the UN aside (both are up against the CIA’s secrecy and lack of accountability), the most effective way is through images: residents of Waziristan, the region of Pakistan where most drone attacks occur, print photographs of victims to put on their roofs for drone operators to see, and at a protest Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights lawyer, tells a reporter that the media are key to putting a human face on drone victims.
Drone never quite reaches a level of self-awareness where it can see itself as part of this information war, and as a result it falls down in a few places where robust facts and arguments should have taken the place of scare-mongering. Video games that feed into the military-industrial complex are mentioned, but without specific examples or clear connections to drone warfare. There’s also a strange digression into how drone warfare will lead to fully automated warfare, targets decided by algorithm or artificial intelligence, and it’s a classic slippery slope argument based on little more than speculation. The slight imbalance in focus on the white, Western people involved is either a problematic oversight or a cynical resignation to the fact that audiences are more likely to care about people who look like them. Otherwise, however, it presents a compelling and disturbing case for holding those in charge of American drones to account.
Drone is out now on DVD and video-on-demand.
7/10 – interesting introduction to the topic with a few gaps
Wow, we’re at episode 19 already, and it’s another packed show for you! This week, along with all the usual tv news and tv air date info, we have an interview with Grammy-nominated musician & composer Mac Quayle. As a producer, re-mixer and keyboardist, Mac has worked on over 300 releases, 40 #1 Billboard Dance hits, and earned a GRAMMY® nomination for producing Donna Summer’s “I Will Go with You.” He’s also worked with artists such as Madonna, Whitney Houston, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, Annie Lennox, New Order, Beyonce and Sting, to name a few. As a composer, Mac is currently a very busy guy! Not only did he score the music for Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Freak Show, he is currently scoring the latest season – American Horror Story: Hotel, along with Murphy’s new project Scream Queens, and he’s also writing the music for Christian Slater’s new show Mr. Robot. As I said, busy guy!
In this weeks show:
- We take a look at the tv shows we’ve been watching last week (and some comic book chat as it’s a Chris show).
- All the latest TV news, including thoughts on the Supergirl leak, a round up of news about Flash Season 2, and a Very Murray Christmas…
- The interview with composer & music producer Mac Quayle.
- As usual, all the latest air date updates, and a look forward to tv in the next 7 days.
Geektown Radio : Episode 19
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