Monday, 29 April 2013

The Marvel Movies - What Next?

The latest Iron Man has just opened (and if you haven't already, go and see it) but here are rumours that it could be Downey Jr's final outing as our favourite billionaire. But what does this mean for the franchise.
We aren't exactly a long way off from Phase 3, but do we want to see a reboot or a continuation of the series, even if it is without Mr Stark?

The Amazing Spiderman proved that a reboot can work but it didn't really offer anything new to the franchise. Even X-Men, which was meant to be rebooted in the form of First Class, still managed to find itself tying with the original. The Nolan/Goya Batman saga on the other hand doesn't need any more movies as they managed to end it on a perfect note. While it can be argued that Nolan should make another Batman movie because, lets face it, he managed to completely refresh the Dark Knight's cinematic image (and perhaps also set the bar for superhero franchises in general).
The only problem is that while Batman's universe is fairly well contained, the Marvel-verse has been set up as being vast and full of potential. Marvel have already stated that they are hoping to bring to the screen their more outlandish properties (including the Guardians for next year) and so it seems a waste to let it all fall aside and start from scratch.

So what can be done?

While the comics are notorious for rebooting characters and starting alternate timelines, they also deal with the case of passing on the torch to the protégé however I don't think this willwork with where the current characters stand.

Iron Man (arguably Marvels hottest property right now) only works because it's Tony Stark playing him. Get rid of that and you have a rich guy with a snarky sense of humour and awesome suits but you don't have Tony Stark. Sure you can bring on another guy to take the reign but chances are you lose the appeal that Iron Man had to begin with. Unless you can provide a sure-thing, the only option would be to kill Iron Man off once and for all.

The same problem happens with the other Avengers. Captain America can't really pass the torch on because to do so would be to recreate the super-strength serum and thus create the plot-hole "Why not give it to everybody". Hulk likewise wouldn't want to pass his 'curse' over to someone else while Thor is Thor and technically he can't really die.

As I mentioned, you can always replace the actors (which the Hulk would definitely know about) but then the characters themselves lose the personality that we grew accustomed to. I really doubt Thor would have had the same pompous cheese had Chris Hemsworth not donned the hammer and Chris Evans really managed to make the Captain feel human. Unless you can guarantee that the future actors can bring the same amount to the table, then there's no point in even thinking of doing that. (I know they replaced Rhodey for Iron Man's 2 & 3 and I do think Don Cheadle did a better job, but I still notice the transition.)

I go back to my previous concern that the only way forward would be to kill them off and pave the way for other properties to come forward. We already know Ant Man is up first for Phase 3 and there are talks of the lesser known properties being brought forward and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Remember how popular Iron Man was before the movie?

In any case, all we can do is hope that there is a third Phase to this current generation and that we do get to see the Avengers return in at least one more stand-alone cinematic outing for it.

New to Netflix UK - 29/04/13

Another disappointing week unfortunately, although there are some good films to watch.

Mesrine: Parts 1 & 2 - Biopic charting the life of notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine who was widely regarded as France's most infamous gangster. Thanks to a terrific performance by Vincent Cassel, this two-parter spares no remorse in chronicling the criminals life even if the script gets a bit wonky at times.

Takers - A group of thieves target an armoured car as their next big job, unaware that a police officer is not about breaking rules to stop them. A mixed-bag movie which features a great heist but is bogged down by too many plot holes, one-dimensional characters and poor story-telling.

Please Give - A couple find themselves at ends with the granddaughters of the woman who rents their flat. Full of horrible people played by great actors, this well-crafted darkly-comic drama is well worth your time and attention.

The Night Listener - A late-night radio host begins a telephone relationship with a young boy, but things turn sour when he begins to question the boys identity. Other than the rare dramatic turn from the always-great Mr Williams, there isn't too much else on offer for this run-of-the-mill thriller.

Iron Man 3 - 3D Review (Is it worth it?)

This is not a review about the movie but rather a review about the 3D. For a full rundown on the film I'd advise checking out the pages of your local film critic as they have far more experience in telling you why you should/shouldn't like the movie. I'm only qualified to tell you how effective the 3D was.

[Note: Providing you have seen the latest trailers for the movie, the following won't contain any real spoilers. If you have however been keeping yourself in the dark, skip to the end verdict.] 

First of all, the movie is very very very good. Downey Jr is excellent as expected, Shane Black has worked wonders with the film, there's loads of humour and unexpected twists, yadda yadda yadda...if you have any love for the Marvel property, go and see it!

Most importantly though, which version should you go and see? 3D or not 3D, that is the question.

The Good

The 3D was at it's most effective during the big set pieces. The attack on Stark Manor in particular was pretty damn impressive, especially the initial explosion which throws our hero backwards in slow motion. Debris goes flying everywhere, Tony Stark goes flying everywhere and all in all the 3D adds to the chaos that is on screen, dragging you into the picture.

The mid-air plane rescue was also exhilarating to watch in 3D, especially as Iron Man zips about the screen. The 3D effect gave you a real sense of the distance that the falling passengers were travelling and again helped to immerse you into the scene.

The other notable set piece was the finale (which I can't delve into too much detail as it hasn't been in any previews or trailers) which not only showed how good an eye Mr Black has for direction an action movie, but also how good a 3D movie can look if handled correctly.

The other noteworthy scenes are where the characters are using virtual holograms to project stuff around them. Again, this showcases how effective 3D can be in adding physical depth to the movie and this was personally my highlight of the 3D aspect. There's nothing quite like watching Tony Stark do his 'CSI' thing and feel like you are a part of it.

The Bad

This is a post-conversion and so should be treated with caution. The up-close character interactions don't feel very three-dimensional and thus it's hard to claim that the 3D adds real depth to the movie.

This is also a problem during the big set-pieces (most notably the destruction of Stark Manor) where the up-close shots become a blur and it's hard to tell what is happening on screen at times. This is a shame as the action was otherwise pretty well converted, but I can expect this blurring might give people headaches.

The Verdict

The 3D works best for the far away shots and the majority of the action, really managing to draw you into the movie. The plane rescue scene was stunning to witness in three-dimensions as was the finale but otherwise there's really not much else to hype about.

Unless you don't mind spending that bit more on a 3D ticket, there's really no reason to choose the 3D version over the 2D one.

On another note, if you get a chance, go and see it at the IMAX. I believe most venues are only showing the 3D version, but that's honestly not a bad thing. This movie deserves to be seen on the big screen.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Rant - Iran and the Nuclear Program: What Should Be Done

For a blog that's meant to be half about engineering, I understand that there's very little of it on here (not my fault but there's not too much going on in the world of technology right now). To make matters worse, I will now turn my hands at politics despite having no authority in the matter.

There's a lot going on in the world right now, whether it's because of a spoilt short man in Asia or the business of Iran and their Nuclear Program. I just read on the BBC that the US were going to deploy $10billion worth of missile defences to Israel as a show of support against Iran, but is this really the correct option? History tells us that the process of showing who has the superior fire-power only ever ends in tragedy.

Iran keep claiming that they are using the program as a means for alternate energy and not to develop weapons. I'm saying I believe them but you have to look at the fact that nuclear power is becoming a go-to source to replace fossil fuels. I know the Fukushima melt down was a severe disaster but the majority of the problems stemmed from lack of proper care over the plant and so should not really be used as an excuse not to go for nuclear power.

In any case, nuclear fuel is relatively cheap to produce and can create huge amounts of jobs, both skilled and unskilled and therefore it makes sense for developing countries to utilise this type of energy. It does bring into account with what to do with the radioactive by-products however, seeing that they can easily be manufactured into weapons.

If Iran are telling the truth then what have they to lose by not showing the US and others what they are doing? I understand there's a matter of pride and the fact that they would be giving into peer pressure however if they are innocent, it will give them superior political leverage after being mistrusted for all these years. After all, who could resist in having something so juicy to rub into America's face. The harsh reality is that they are probably producing weapons, but most likely as a response to increasing weapons manufacture with countries they see as unfriendly.

But back to the nuclear energy point, I don't understand why there isn't a universal Nuclear Energy program where any country, regardless of it's current political status, can apply for. The fact that the program would be governed by leading countries would ensure that all waste is properly disposed off and that no weapons are created but it also gives countries the necessary technology to push forward their development.

But then this is all just speculation. World politics are far more complicated than I would ever dream of. I just like the idea that there is probably a solution in some alternate reality.

New to Netflix UK - 22/04/13

Not too much this week, but then I guess Hemlock Grove should keep most people busy.

Hemlock Grove (TV) - First season of the Eli Roth produced horror where two suspects in the murder of a young girl team up to find the real killer in a town where supernatural beings exist. Fans of gory supernatural popcorn media will be in heaven here whereas those looking for more drama will have to sink their teeth elsewhere.

A Cool, Dry Place - After being abandoned by his wife, a man moves to a small town with his son and tries to juggle the responsibilities of being a dad and being a provider. It may feel like a made-for-TV drama but there is sincerity to be had in the movie, not least thanks to some strong acting from a then-still-relatively-unknown Vince Vaughn.

If I want to Whistle, I Whistle - Drama where a young man, threatened by his mother to separate him from his brother, takes a hostage to use as leverage against her. It's a tough drama to endure and unfortunately it's not always correctly executed but it's still a compelling watch that features some very raw performances.

Elephants Dream 4 Hour - Skipping my conventional format here but what the hell is this? It claims to be an experimental short but it it runs at just over four hours long (I guess the title means Elephants Dream (looped for 4 hours)). The sound wasn't working when I tried watching it (or is it on purpose) but the animation looked decent enough, though the split screen format was odd (to be polite). Netflix do put these weird things up every now and then but we should support it. Shouldn't we?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Zombieland - The TV Series -- An Apology and Review, of Sorts

So in a previous post I praised the quality of the Netflix original programming and shunned that of Amazon based solely on the trailer for the new Zombieland series. Well I finally got around to watching the pilot episode and I had to hold my tongue as I didn't entirely dislike it.

That's not to say I enjoyed it (it feels like a web serial rather than a proper TV show) but there were moments in the series, particularly the opening, that I enjoyed. Would I grab a LoveFilm account to watch the whole series? No I wouldn't. I fact, I highly recommend they go back to the drawing board and start fresh with this one.

Like I said, the episode had some nice ideas (though completely forgettable it seems) but it was bogged down by a lacklustre plot (something happens, they meet Mark Zuckerberg, something else happens) and horrible dialogue. Zombieland the film had some great dialogue and one-liners. In fact, that's what helped set it apart from most of the other zombie films out there. To create a TV show with lines that sound like they belong in a TV soap opera is not the way to do it and this should seriously be corrected should Amazon decide to commision a full length series of this.

My other major tripe is that they try too hard to continue from the movie to the point where the characters are exactly the same. Again, this is the wrong approach. Zombieland the film already showed us these characters, and they were fun and goofy. Why not show us some completely new characters who also live in this wacky world where zombies run free. The movie only hinted at the mass carnage that could be achieved (and also the 'zombie-kill-of-the-week', which the series completely ruins) and so it would be great to see this world where rules exist but to see it through new eyes. Don't get some guy and tell him to pretend he's Woody Harrelson; believe me, you cannot even dream of imitating the madness of that man. We all know the socially awkward teen angle so why not introduce a fat kid with a love for violence or an emo who's found he now wants to live (these are horrible ideas but they are at least fresh to see). The two grifter sisters was a nice addition to the movie but surely there's other ways of presenting siblings on the small screen.

All in all the pilot made me chuckle but also made me sad as to what could have been achieved. Better than what the trailer advertised but horrible compared to the movie, Zombieland the Series has a long way to go.

Rant - What the #@&% Netflix? What the hell did you do with the 5-star rating system?

Am I the only one who's annoyed that Netflix have gotten rid of their user-friendly five-star system and have been brainwashed opted for the more normal Facebook 'like' system? Why has this even happened?

I liked the old system. It was pretty accurate in recommending movies to me and I saw loads of movies that I would have never otherwise seen. I'm not saying that it won't be able to recommend movies I would probably like but I think it's going to have a really hard time doing so as there's no way I'm selling my soul and using the Facebook method. Besides, I may like a movie enough to give it three stars but a 'like' could indicate I found the movie to be awesome. I don't want that happening!

Bring back the stars. Keep your blasted Facebook whore if you must but bring back the old system dammit!

Friday, 19 April 2013

New to Netflix (Special Edition) - Hemlock Grove

To be fair this could have waited until Monday, but what the hell...

The new Netflix Original series, Hemlock Grove, is now available in its entirety (13 episodes). The Eli Roth produced supernatural show has mad mostly positive reviews so far (though not quite as stunning as House of Cards, but this is a different fish entirely) and promises to help you forget the nightmare that was the Twilight saga.

Following the death of a young girl, the town starts to ponder who the killer is; but how can you find a killer in a town where everyone isn't who they say they are? As a result, two lads (both suspects in the murder) decide to team up to catch the killer themselves only to awaken the darkness that lies within the town. Still not convinced? Here's the (highly) red band trailer.


The plot sounds like a fantastic blend of Twin Peaks (which was already weird to begin with) and your typical mythical fantasy fare. It is based on the book by Brian McGreevy, although I don't have any indication as to how faithful the adaptation is.

I haven't yet had time to watch much but from what I've seen it looks to be fairly in the same ball park as True Blood, but somewhat more bizarre (is that even possible?). The clip that was posted a few weeks back showing the werewolf transformation was particularly exciting and gruesome (although it did remind me a bit of the shapeshifter transformations in the Supernatural TV show). In any case, check it out for yourselves if you dare!

This seems to mark the second big hit from Netflix and their foray into producing their own content but there seems to be big big things on the horizon (and I'm not just referring to the eagerly awaited forth season of Arrested Development). If they can keep this up, it will put them leagues ahead of their current competition (on a related matter, did anyone see the trailer for the Amazon Zombieland TV spinoff?? Don't, it's shockingly terrible).

Monday, 15 April 2013

New to Netflix UK - 15/04/13

Not too much to talk about this week.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse - The saga continues whether you want it to or not and this time there's talk of a safe haven for survivors. After the enjoyable mess of the third film, the forth is another step in the wrong direction (still no sign of movie number 2 though).

The Other Guys - You've watched the movies about the two great detectives who solve all the crimes with car chases and explosions, well here's the movie about the two other detectives instead. Enjoyable Will Ferrell movie that's much funnier than it should have been.

Born on the Forth of July - Biopic of Ron Kovic, who went from Vietnam War casualty to anti-war activist. Compelling drama from Oliver Stone and featuring a stunning performance from Mr Cruise.

Taps - A group of cadets put their military training to good use when developers try to turn their academy into luxury housing. The movie feels like a disjointed mash-up of 'If...' and 'Red Dawn', swapping action for drama, but it's well acted and still presents a strong message about the true definition of honour.

Bottom (TV) - This supposed BBC cult classic is available to stream, which follows the exploits of a couple of low-lives and their get rich/laid quick schemes that never work.
(Rik Mayal fans will also be pleased to know that Drop Dead Fred is available. Phoebe Cates fans should look away in horror.)

The kids will be pleased to know that they've added a few of the Dreamwork's TV shows to the site, so now they can have slightly larger doses of Po from Kung Fu Panda or Hiccup and the gang from How to Train Your Dragon.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Netflix - The Bowtie Secret

There's a little bow-tie at the bottom of the Netflix Home page. Click on it, you won't be disappointed.

Rant: Violence in the Media - Do Guns in Films and Games Support the Arms Industry?

Browsing the Kotaku site I came across an interesting post which opened my eyes to something I had never before acknowledged. The post, titled Is the Decision to Buy Call of Duty or Battlefield a Moral Choice?, linked to a Youtube video made by PBS Idea Channel who stated the simple case that by buying a triple-A modern war game (Battlefield, Call of Duty) you are effectively buying licenses for the firearms depicted in those games and hence sending money to the arms companies.

The video itself looks at the moral aspects of the case, where the presenter who isn't himself a gun person loves to shoot things in games and thus presents the problem that he may be a hypocrite. But the video raises some interesting points about the moral implications of engaging in violent entertainment, especially since many are always quick to jump on the bandwagon that violent games and films make people violent in real life.

First off, let's dispel the rumours. Violence in the media does not contribute to violence in real life. There may be some cases which break this rule (Taxi Driver and the Reagan shooting for example) but for the most part there's been no solid correlation between the two ever having an effect on one another.
A good video to watch is one made by the Youtube gamer 'TotalBiscuit' who analyses the situation following the Connecticut shootings last year (it is biased as it's a gamer defending his beliefs but it's interesting to have a point of view from the other side).

But why do films and games rely so much on violent content? Unfortunately there isn't any other real explanation other than "Because it's satisfying". Tarantino films have always been notorious due to their violent content but if you were to take it away his films wouldn't be as satisfying to watch. That's not to say they aren't well written or directed because that's far from the truth, but the violence and the events depicted go hand in hand with one another and you need both for the complete experience.
On the other end of the scale, even the Saw movies (a franchise that basically comprises of people getting horrendously tortured) have a certain poetry in their depiction of violence and they aren't even decent movies to watch. But without the violence, there is nothing nothing to them.

Games, likewise, use violence to draw people into the universe that they're creating. Unlike films however, games can make the experience more immersive and this is where the problem has arisen. Many Sports games spent millions of dollars to acquire the likeness of famous sports-people so it makes sense that war games should spend huge amounts of money to acquire the likeness of weapons, right? Well, yes and no.

The fact that game companies feel the need to use real world items in games shows that they are lacking in imagination. I understand that most shooters nowadays have the "combat simulator" moniker attached to them, and part of that responsibility is to ensure as much realism as possible, and what better way to achieve this than to make the guns real. They look real, sound real and they react as they would in real life.

But most people don't care about this, they just want the game experience not the gun firing experience, and as a result they have to deal with the fact that their money has just made the gun companies stocks go up. At the end of the day, no one cares which rifle you used in a game but rather how good you are with it so why even bother to license them in the first place. What game companies should do is fictionalise their main weapons and keep the licensed ones available for download only, that way only the true gun-nuts out there will benefit from the transaction. This also means they don't have to shell out huge amounts of money paying the licensing fees; money that go go back into game development.

Films on the other hand do not allow such an in-depth personification of the viewer and the weapons involved and so do not pose the same problem. There's a few films out there (the names of which currently evade me) where a character lists out each of the defining features of a weapon but in the context of the film, this is generally to showcase their own ability rather than that of the weapon itself.
There is always the chance of product placement however this is not likely to be a problem either as movie-goers are a fickle bunch who rise up in anger whenever a product is given more screen-time than it should and it actually works more in negative effect so the same tactic would not work for guns.

So do guns in films and games support the arms industry? Well in films they certainly don't. You're more likely to be persuaded to buy a car or a watch than a gun through watching a film.
In games, you kinda do indirectly (depending on the game), but you'd do more harm in buying the actual weapon than by buying the game.

In any case, it's an interesting point to bring to light and it's probably something that needs more public awareness.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Trailer Time: 'Elysium', 'You're Next', 'Now You See Me', 'This is the End' and 'Filth'

It's been a while since we've had some trailers, and a few of these have been circulating for some time, but I'll put them up anyway.

First up is Neill Blomkamp's highly anticipated follow-up to District 9 which follows a working class man try and break into a rich peoples utopia to gain access to live-saving health care.

The film opens September 20th in the UK and judging from what people have been saying about it so far, we are in for a real treat.

From sci-fi to straight up horror as You're Next offers up the typical 'perfect-weekend-getaway-interrupted-by-masked-killers' story-line. What makes this one stand out from the pack (apart from the already pretty positive buzz from the festival circuits) is that it's the newest film from Adam Wingard. Wingard was responsible for the pretty divisive 'A Horrible Way to Die', which took a very mumble-core approach to a horror/slasher movie and has also had a hand in the V/H/S and ABC's of Death horror anthologies. In any case, he proved himself to be a director worth watching and his latest offering seems to be a whole heap of fun (and what a great way to utilise Lou Reed's Perfect Day).

The film opens 23rd August, with what I'm guessing will be limited release.

We've already had one big magician movie this year (the rather lackluster Burt Wonderstone) however Now You See Me has a lot of potential behind it, no least because it looks and feels like parts of Nolan's 'The Prestige' but also it may prove that Louis Leterrier is actually a good director. He made some decent films under Luc Besson's wing however his Hollywood efforts (Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans) have failed to really set audience alight. But still, who doesn't like the idea of the magicians/criminals storyline?

It opens July 5th.

We've yet to see anything substantial from the new Wright/Pegg/Frost film, World's End, however that doesn't mean we have to wait impatiently as it seems the American's have had a similar idea. Starring a whole bunch of comedy actors as themselves, the film sees a party at James Franco's house go massively wrong when the world suddenly turns to hell around them. It's a premise that could go horribly wrong, but the trailer is pretty funny and there's enough cameos (and famous celebrity deaths) to make it possibly worth the trip to the cinema.

Below is the standard green band trailer, to watch in the office or as a family.

And for those of you who want to see the real deal (and yes, there's the gory on-screen death of Michael Cera), the red band trailer is below.

The end cometh June 28th.

Up last is another big-screen adap of an Irvin Welsh novel. This time we have Filth, which sees James McAvoy taking the title role as Bruce Robertson, the depraved anti-hero who drinks/snorts/swears/shags his way through one day to the next. Oh, and he's also a police officer.

Be warned, this is the red band trailer and it does not skimp on the nasty.

It looks like fun, but then half the stuff from the book would never be legally able to make it to the film so I guess they will have watered down the story somewhat. The only saving grace is that it's a British indie production so at least there's no risk of any Hollywood intervention. The film is scheduled for release sometime in September.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

"The Man From Nowhere" is still up on Netflix

 The film is back in the online selections as of 13/04. They obviously took it down due to some technical error.]

A couple of weeks ago I heard about a Korean thriller by the name of 'The Man From Nowhere', whose plot can best be summarised as Leon meets Taken, and was pleased to find it was available on the US version of Netflix (buying the DVD in the UK would set you back a good £30 so it's obviously a rare treat). I kept putting off watching it as reviews had stated that it was very dark and hence I thought I should have to find myself in the mood to watch it.

In true accordance with Murphy's Law, the day I felt like watching it was the day it was no longer available. I searched through all the Korean movies available and also checked the UK site but with no luck. The worse thing about it was that I had only looked at the title a few days before and there had been no indication that Netflix were going to take it down (and in fact when you search for it they don't seem to acknowledge the film even exists).

Today, while browsing through the thrillers, I stumbled across the movie. I immediately clicked on the link but Firefox chose that exact moment to crash and forget what page I was on. So back to the thrillers I go, but it's not there. It's not in Korean movies and you still can't search for it. What the hell???

Luckily I just went back through my history but the film still appears to be up, you just can't select it via the usual route.

I attach the link to it's current location (which I hope will work for other users) here.

Obviously to watch it you need a Netflix account and you should be currently logged in for it to work properly.

UK subscribers, have no fear for you can still watch it, just install the free Hola Unblocker add-on for Firefox or Chrome to take you instantly to the US site (as well as other location specific sites).

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Even in Space, People Poop

io9 have dug up some of the transcripts from the Apollo 10 mission and they are pretty damn funny. If you ever imagined how astronauts poop the answer is very carefully, and even then they don't always get it right.

I can only imagine what the future holds for practical jokesters once we start living in space...

Monday, 8 April 2013

New to Netflix UK - 08/04/13

I think I got most of the new titles with my late post from last weeks Netflix listings, but there's still a couple more to mention.

War Games - A young gamer hacks into a war simulation, not knowing that he's in fact playing with a very active nuclear weapon system. It's a classic that's pretty dated now but it still has a great performance by Matthew Broderick (what happened to him anyway?) and features the greatest solution to defeat any rogue AI system.

Seabiscuit - A racehorse in Depression-era USA manages to lift the spirits of the people through a series of amazing victories. It's a compelling drama that will entertain people even if they aren't a fan of horse racing.

A Bronx Tale - A boy falls under the influence of the local gangster, causing his father to rise up to try and protect him. De Niro does a good job with his first directorial job (having learnt a good deal from his time with Scorsese) resulting in the solid morality tale.

Also, for any Maggie Thatcher enthusiasts, The Iron Lady is available to stream. Whether or not you agree with how she was portrayed in the movie is entirely your opinion.

Global Warming to Possibly Affect Air Travel

Let's assume for this story that global warming is 100% real (I'm not arguing it's not however I think it's a lot more complicated than people are allowing it to be) and that the earth will be gradually getting warmer. Sure we'll have melting ice caps and warmer weather plus rising sea levels but this is all land based. People forgot about what would happen in the

Aircraft companies will have their work cut out for them if the recent discoveries are true as global warming could have severe repercussions on the speed of high-altitude jet streams that the aircrafts are so reliant on. Rising CO2 emissions would more than likely increase the speed of the streams which would increase the likelihood of turbulence occurring.

Aircrafts in general are well built to withstand extreme cases of turbulence in the air however pilots are still instructed to avoid severe patches where possible. The major problem global warming will have is that it will increase the amount of clear-air turbulence which is invisible to both the human eye and the high-tech instruments on planes and is pretty much unavoidable until you know it's there.

The effect this would have on current aircraft in service could be rather dangerous as it would result in them undergoing extended periods of time under turbulence, causing them to experience stress loading that they would not normally have to endure and thus considerably reducing the life-cycle of the aircraft components. This could prove to be very costly to airline companies if after every few trips they had to replace different parts of the plane.

The simple solution to this would be to say "Let's just make sure all future aircraft designs take this into account". Unfortunately things aren't so simple as it normally takes around 20 years for an aircraft design to become a reality. If CO2 levels are rising as rapidly as we thought, by the time we have planes capable of withstanding these expected increases in turbulence it may be too late.

Of course, that's just assuming everything we're being told about global warming is true...

[via New Scientist]

Friday, 5 April 2013

New to Netflix UK - 01/04/13

It's a very late post but there's quite a lot of new stuff up.

Rambo - John Rambo's back, this time in Burma where he's tasked with rescuing a group of Christian missionaries. He's gone a long way from the original anti-war hero but the forth instalment, while considerably racist for some tastes, has enough OTT action for the die-hard fans of the series.

The Cabin in the Woods - Five friends take a summer vacation in an isolated cabin, but the familiar story doesn't quite pan out as expected. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's love/hate letter to horror films hits all the right notes with some incredibly well placed humour and plenty of shocks and gore.

The Shawshank Redemption - A man slowly adjusts to life inside prison after being falsely accused of murdering his wife. Featuring tour-de-force performances from the entire cast, the film is a triumph ion storytelling and remains once of the greatest films ever made.

Wilfred (TV) - A man tries to live a normal life despite being convinced his neighbour's dog is a man in a costume. This quirky Aussie comedy makes the most of it's unusual premise and quite often ventures into unfamiliar territory regarding its bizarre storyline.

Grown Ups - Five friends reunite and get to grips with where they are in life compared to where they wanted to be when they were children. Some people really liked this movie and now you have a sequel on the way...thanks...

Reign of Fire - When dragons ravage a modern England, a group of survivors take it upon themselves to eliminate the threat once and for all. It's not a work of art and the characters and story are basic at best but it has enough thrills for a casual Saturday afternoon viewing session.

Judge Dredd - Dredd finds himself a victim of his own justice system when he's framed for murder and must find a way to clear his name. It's a bad movie, which makes it enjoyable to watch, but avoid at all costs if you are a fan of the comic books.

Crimson Tide - Allegiances between the crew of a nuclear submarine are tested when the orders to launch a missile come through despite concern that the orders are wrong. With some decent acting and some well placed moments of tension, the film comes out as a better-than-average submarine movie.

Republic of Doyle (TV) - Season 2 of this comedy/crime show which follows a family of private investigators in a Canadian seaside town. It's light-hearted entertainment but there's a certain level of charm to it that makes it very watchable.

Insomnia - A veteran detective is sent to Alaska to aid in the investigation of a murdered girl, but his case is jeopardised when the killer sees him accidentally killing his partner. An exceptionally well made thriller from Christopher Nolan which boasts an excellent from performance from Pacino as well as a rare villain turn for Williams.

Not Another Teen Movie - Spoof of all those teen movies from the late nineties - the plot is pretty irrelevant. It's arguably worse than the movies it parodies but providing you have enough hatred for these movies, there are a enough clever bits to warrant one viewing.

The Prisoner (TV) - Remake of the classic British series, which finds a man with no memory plotting his escape from an isolated prison. It lacks the originality and feel of the original however the series does manage to serve up some new and unexpected twists.

Milk - Biopic of openly gay politician Harvey Milk, chronicling his rise to power and sudden murder. It's a well made drama and boasts some incredible performances but it has been over-hyped as to how good it really is.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Adaptation of the book by the same name, where a young girl is sold to a Geisha house and must withstand the cruelty of her owners as well as the jealous advances by her fellow peers. Fans of the book may be disappointed but the set design is definitely its strong point and the film does a good job of drawing you into the troubled world of Chiyo.

Slacker - A series of shorts following a group of college dropouts as they go about their daily lives. Seminal cult classic from Richard Linklater, the film has a very raw approach but still manages to be oddly captivating to watch.

Pretty Woman - A rich businessman hires an escort to accompany him to a series of formal events only to fall in love with her. It's a typical rom-com that's bolstered by some reasonably good perfomances by its lead stars.

Right at Your Door - After a series of chemical weapons go off in downtown Los Angeles, a man quarantined inside his home finds himself pushed to breaking point while trying to find his wife. It's one of the few films that uses a chemical weapon scenario and looks at the effect it has on the human mind and the result is a tense thriller with some shocking twists littered throughout.

In addition to all these, Netflix has made available some gay interest movies. I can't personally comment on their quality however member reviews generally put them around three to four stars.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Adventure Time heads up

New to Netflix post will be late this week as I'm out of the country and unable to access the UK site. I can however access the US version (thanks to the marvellous 'Hola Unblocker', check it out if you haven't already) and can happily say that they've uploaded the entire first series of Adventure Time (as well as other noteworthy Cartoon Network shows). I'm hoping this is a site-wide addition but I'm not holding my breath.

If you haven't come across Adventure Time before I highly recommend you check it out. It's basically a pretty trippy kids TV show that finds humour on many other levels (such as subtle sex jokes, hypothetical drug induced hallucinations, implied violence). It's basically a way to make kid's shows fun again and has already achieved a cult-like status for many 'geeks' and 'nerds' alike.

I also recommend to check out the sister show on Cartoon Hangover's YouTube channel, Bravest Warriors.