Category: Reviews

Do..Do..Do…the funky gibbon…..ooh..ooh..ooh

Mike and myself went on our much delayed trip to watch the latest instalment of the Planet of the Apes reboot – War for the Planet of the Apes.


We had both enjoyed the 2 previous movies (Rise and Dawn) and, I think, both had high hopes that this one would be as good.

SPOILERS – if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens – bugger off!

The story picks up 15 years after the first movie with the Simian Flu apocalypse well established. The Apes are in the forest and the less pleasant humans from Dawn have called for help. A Special forces Colonel is hunting Caesar and his simian pals in the forest with a view of wiping them out.

Fights, death and gorillas ensue.

The movie has surprisingly little spoken dialogue and yet conveys a lot of feeling and touches on a lot of emotive themes. Throughout the duration of the film it has moments of Westerns, Racial/Slavery, War, Revenge and rites of passage.

Whether deliberately or not, it has heavy overtones of Apocalypse Now (with Woody Harrelson doing a passable Colonel Kurtz), Little Big Man/Man called Horse (with the Apes as the native Americans), Gladiator/Spartacus (Caesar seeking revenge) and even The Great Escape.

Despite there being some clearly derivative elements, and some scenery chewing by Woody Harrelson (why do bad guys insist in wearing sunglasses at night!!!?), I really enjoyed it. The performance of Andy Serkis/CGI as Caesar was astounding, often conveying emotion through nothing other than the breathing and eyes of the ape. I don’t know how, but surely it is time that Serkis’ work in motion capture acting is recognised by an awards body.

Well worth seeing, if you enjoyed the previous 2 Apes movies. Get your arse to the cinema and stop………..monkeying around.

Yeah, I know. Sorry.

Cuddles and violations of personal space,




Baby Driver – ……and I say thank you for the music…..


Went and saw Edgar Wright’s new movie this weekend at the flicks. I’m a fan of his and love all 3 of the Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim.

I’ll not do plot spoilers but if you don’t want to know anything, bugger off and watch it, then come back.

Its a story of a young criminal getaway driver and his trajectory through the story is a slightly cliched but well used – criminal has to do one last job before he gets to run away with the girl but things go wrong kinda deal.

Within the film, the music is a key driver (pardon the pun) for some of the action and there is a back story why. The film starts with a brilliantly choreographed music number with Baby (the lead character) moving through the streets to the music with a number of visual tags to the lyrics of the song. I though that it was brilliant but unfortunately it doesn’t carry all the way through the film. The music does continue to be a central character and the sound editing is particularly well managed with the gunfire and car sounds punctuating the soundtrack.

It has a good cast although the performances outside the young 2 leads seem fairly dialled in. I find it hard to consider Jamie Foxx as a bad guy without immediately thinking of him as Motherf**ker Jones from Horrible Bosses.

Despite all this, I really enjoyed it and would definitely see it again 7/10


Splendour is Splendid

If you have listened to Episode 332 then you will have heard Conrad wax lyrical about Splendour and I, as is my impulsive want, went and picked up a copy on Amazon.  That arrived late last week it arrived and over the weekend I managed to persuade the family to give it a go.

So pretty


At its heart, this is a game of chip-collecting and card development, you are a merchant during the Renaissance trying to gain enough prestige to be pre-eminant amongst your peers.  To do this you buy mines, transport routes, shops and try and entice nobles to give you their blessing.  These are all represented by various cards that cost a certain amount of chips, where the chips represent gems

.In your turn you may carry out one (and only one) action.  These are

  1. Collect 3 different gems (you may only end a turn with 10 gems in hand)
  2. Take 2 of the same gem
  3. Buy a Card
  4. Reserve a Card (put it in your hand ready for purchase when you can afford it)


To buy a card you just need to pay the cost listed in the bottom left and then you get to add it to you collection.  The cards are divided into 3 levels of cost and prestige – Lvl 1 cards often have no prestige value whereas the Lvl 3 cards can have up to 5 prestige per card.  Cards also have a gem in the top right.  This is effectively a free gem chip that never gets used up – you need these to make the higher level cards affordable.  Its all about starting small and building up.

Finally you can attract nobles


Again these have a gem cost but you can’t spend chips on them.  If you build up enough prestige cards to match the printed requirement then that noble will automatically come to you, increasing your prestige and your chance to win.

First player to 15 prestige gets all the bragging rights – in our case it was Mrs Marshall and she is exploiting those bragging rights as much as she can.

So thats the mechanics of the game, but how did it feel?

Physically the game is good, cards etc. are nice with decent artwork.  The chips are a bit substandard and plasticky.  We would have liked actual plastic gems to give it that little bit of an extra feel as if you were handling treasure.  This post on BoardGameGeek gives some good suggestions for upgrading which I might invest in.

Gameplay wise it felt pretty good.  Halfway though I realised the strategy I was using wasn’t actually going to work so had to change gears quite rapidly and my eldest became disheartened halfway though as it looked like it was all going pear shaped for her but then a couple of cards flipped and her game turned around – she would have won if we went another turn.

We all felt that it had a lot of elements of Ticket to Ride in it (single action, need to play ahead, inadvertent blocking by taking the card that you desperately needed!!!) and as that is a family favourite that was always going to be a plus.

Game took about 45 minutes but now we know the rules I think it will get closer to 30 minutes a game which is pretty much spot on for us.

You can find Splendour at Amazon and I’m sure at other retailers.  Highly recomended.


Lets face it, I'm a complete geek, wargaming, xbox games and playing with lasers. I tried 3D printing but it made my head hurt. Flighty in the extreme, hobby projects last a couple of days before moving onto the next one