2017 Challenges: June Recap

Make 10 new cosplays (including one entirely from scratch)
Halfway through the year, and halfway through this challenge! Five cosplays done, including that “from scratch” cosplay. I have a con coming up later in the month which I’m planning at least one new cosplay for, hopefully two depending on money/how costesting goes! I also have a con in November which I’m planning six (6!) new cosplays for, so I’m confident I’ll hit the target on this one.

Here’s a photo of my Kubo, which is the one I made myself.

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Watch 30 anime series
Surprisingly, I’ve managed to add another couple of series to my list since last time; Attack on Titan s02 and Room Mate.

Platinum 12 games
Finally, a score on the board for this one! You may have read my Platinum Review, but I recently managed to complete Nubla (in 51 minutes and 1 second according to PSN Profiles).

Watch 30 new ‘old’ films
I decline to comment.

Watch 60 films at the cinema
As always you can follow my progress on this one via my Twitter and the hashtag #cs2017challenge, but I have managed to so far see 23 films in the cinema. Not quite on track, but not too far behind either. I’ve found that my cinema-going habits have definitely changed, and I find myself going a lot less frequently than in previously years.

Clear the gaming backlog
Hey, look. I only just made the post for this challenge, so let’s not rush things. Like I said in that post, now I have my mitts on Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy I don’t have any new releases on the horizon until September’s Danganronpa 3 release, so I’m hoping to make real headway with this challenge from now on. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll be clearing the whole list but I want to get a good chunk of it done!

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2017 Challenges: January Recap

I’d like to be able to tell you things are going well, but I’m not in the business of lying. Let’s find out just how poorly things are going!

Make 10 new cosplays (including one entirely from scratch)
To be honest, I feel like I should be panicking a bit more about this target, but con season isn’t even here yet. I say that, but I’m actually attending MCM Midlands in two weeks time, so maybe I am in the business of lying after all. What I mean is, MCM London in May is my first ‘big con’ of the year, the first one that’s not just a day event, and that’s where I’ll put the wheels into motion for my first new cosplays of the year. I’ve got something planned for each day (including the one cosplay from scratch), so I have just over four months to pull it all together! As it stands, I’ve made no new cosplays, though I have got a variation on one of last years together, but I’m not counting that for the purposes of this challenge.

Watch 30 anime series
Failure breeds failure, it turns out. This year so far, I’m ashamed to say I’ve watched no new anime. I do have my reasons for this, and they can all pretty much be attributed to Kuroko No Basuke. My relationship with KNB feels really weird at the moment. When I’m watching it, I love it, and I want to watch more and more, but it’s just getting to the point where I actually put it on that I’m struggling with. For this reason, I decided not to start any new anime until I’d finished it, simply because I know I’ll never go back to it and I really do want to finish it. I’m about 8 episodes from the end, so looking forward to wrapping it up and making some headway on this one!

Platinum 12 games
Can you sense a theme? I’ve also not made any progress with this one. In the interest of saving money, I want to platinum as many games as I already own before I go trawling for some new ones. I’ve recently finished the main storyline of Final Fantasy XV (expect more on that another time), so I’m going to aim for that to be the first platinum of the year.

Watch 30 new ‘old’ films
Finally! A challenge I’ve done something on! My last post mentioned that I’d recently watched E.T for the first time, and this counts towards this portion of the 2017 challenges. Where I am failing is making the whole damn list in the first place, which I will definitely get to soon!

Watch 60 films at the cinema
Now we’re talking. So far this year, I’ve seen 7 films and you can track which ones on Twitter, either by following me or by viewing the hashtag #cs2017challenge. I’m keen to get as far ahead with this one as possible, as I know later in the year I’ll trail off.

Clear the gaming backlog
Damn Jade, back at it again with the weak resolve. Unless you can count Final Fantasy XV towards this one, I’ve made no progress. Once again, I haven’t even made the list of what I’m trying to clear! I will though. Very soon!

2016 Challenges: A third of the way through

I’ve discovered if there’s anything I’m worse at than updating this blog, it’s actually achieving my 2016 Challenges. I had such a promising start to the year, but since then… Oh boy.

Let’s revisit each challenge and find out where I am! (Clue: not on target)

Watch 30 anime series from start to finish

“It’ll be easy”, I said. “You watch so much anime, you’ll get that one done”, my housemate said. HOW WRONG WE WERE. This year to date, almost half way through May, I’ve managed to watch 4 series; Sword Art Online S1, Prince of Stride: Alternative, Kuroko No Basuke S1, and Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. What’s going wrong? I don’t even know. I love anime, I watch it pretty much all the time when I’m at home, but there’s something about having to do something that makes it so much less appealing. I also severely underestimated how long some series’ can be. I’m currently trying to boost my numbers by watching a lot of 12 episode anime, so hopefully I can get back on track with this one.

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Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches was a real emotional rollercoaster

Platinum 24 games

Maybe 4 is my unlucky number, as I’m also stuck on 4 for the platinum trophy challenge. My housemate upped the ante on this one, and also simultaneously challenged me that he could get more platinum trophies than me. It pains me to say, he’s actually winning with 5 platinums to my 4. Joining Life Is Strange on my platinum list are Amnesia: Memories (finally figured out what I was doing wrong), Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ and LEGO Jurassic World. Despite being 6 platinums behind schedule, I’m still naively confident about achieving this one.

Watch 80 movies in the cinema

Hey, remember back at the end of January when I was all, “I’m doing really well on this one, going to smash it”, well, that was pretty foolish. I’m a quarter of the way through this challenge, having watched 20 movies in the cinema. I’ll spare you the list of what I’ve seen, but you can check out what I’ve seen by using the Twitter hashtag #cultureshack2016challenge. I think it’s still achievable, but my 20 movies need to quadruple themselves in the next 8 months.

Read 24 books

On paper (haha) this one seems like it would be hardest, least to me, anyway – reading books is time-consuming! I set my quota for this one using the GoodReads challenge system, and have logged everything I’ve read. Now, GoodReads is telling me I’ve read 15 out of my 24 books, all thanks to manga, which it counts as a contribution towards the end goal. If GoodReads counts manga, then so do I! Ridiculously confident about this one, but I’ve been burned before (I’m looking at you, movie challenge).

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Create 5 new cosplays

MCM London is in two and a half weeks, the first big cosplaying con in my year. I’ve decided to go for 3 new cosplays for the event, and I’ve not finished a single one. A photo of my proposed roster is below, so fingers crossed it all comes together! I’ve got Nekozawa from Ouran High School Host Club, Yamaguchi from Haikyuu!!, and Negan from The Walking Dead. Each day, I’ve got at least one person cosplaying with me, which is a first for me, and I’ve got a couple of shoots planned, so I’m really excited about MCM this time around!Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 15.37.21

Writing this, I’ve realised the moral of the story is that I really need to pull my finger out if I’m going to meet all these challenges! Let’s see how the next month goes…

The four film cinema trip

Cineworld Unlimited cards are great. £15.99 a month, and you can see as many films as you like, as many as you can cram into one day. While a working week often puts a dampener on any mid-week cinema plans, the weekends are made for abusing the Unlimited card.

Last Saturday I went to Cineworld and made myself at home. Armed with my Unlimited card (premium now, so 25% off snacks) and a meticulously planned film schedule, I settled in for the long haul.

Not one to ease myself in, I launched straight in with Elysium. It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, but good none-the-less. A stand-up sci-fi film, though it does contain some much used clichés (countdown timer anyone?). I found it quite refreshing that for a change the protagonist was less concerned with saving the world, and was all about saving his own bacon. Altogether, I had expected Elysium to be more visually spectacular with a more strongly driven story. Though I hadn’t expected much from the film, I had anticipated it being a bit more revolutionary and out of the ordinary. Elysium was a thoroughly standard film, just not entirely what I was expecting.

Out of Elysium and straight into We’re The Millers, which could not have been a more different experience. Whilst We’re The Millers doesn’t stand out as being a brilliant comedy, it is by no means a terrible film. Unlike Elysium, We’re The Millers basically lived up to my expectations. It did have funny moments, but now, some five days after seeing the film, I’m struggling to remember a single joke that I laughed hard at. At times, the chemistry between Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston seems a little forced, but again, better than in some films that I’ve seen. There are some awful, cringeworthy moments, but these are soon over with, and the audience are left with an average comedy as a result.

Two films in a day is more than enough for most people, but for me, it was a mere halfway point. Time for an important break, lunch and some much needed fresh air (which would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn’t pouring down with rain). For anyone considering the four film trip, I would recommend having a nice long lunchbreak, trying to stay away from screens of any kind (my iPad, iPhone and the It Box in the cinema and pub opposite meant I probably struggled with a headache for longer than I needed to).

Out of lunch and (almost) straight into film three, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This was probably the film of the day I was least looking forward to. A sort of pseudo-Twilight teen fiction film, The Mortal Instruments tried to dip itself into a few genres and tick off a few of the core plot fillers. I think the film spread itself a little thinly over a lot of plot, and tried to cram in too much. Whilst there have been grumbles with other books being split into two films, often it is necessary, especially in instances like this when a whole new world and mythology has to be introduced. Having said that, the film moved quickly and didn’t lack action, but perhaps would have benefitted a little more time with characters, learning their motivations and allowing us to feel more of an affinity to them.

Partway through The Mortal Instruments is when I hit my film wall. My bum was numb, I was getting fidgety. I could feel the mother of all headaches coming on, and I was in no mood for the next film to be complicated, or anything that required me to concentrate too hard on. Luckily, the fourth and final film in my day of cinema was Pain and Gain. Thoroughly ridiculous, and frankly, totally unbelievable as a true story, Pain and Gain is the story of three bodybuilders who seek to take the wealth and lifestyles from their rich clients. I had expected the film to be more about the trio enjoying the wealth they have acquired, but there is a lot of focus on the planning and the actual acquisitions. The plot of the film has obviously been dramatised, and it makes you wonder how much of the story has been fabricated; how would it be known that one of the characters fed his toe to a dog? Again, another okay film, for what it is and as a piece of cinema which is designed purely to entertain and not to evoke any strong feelings, it sets out what it aims to do.

An enjoyable day out, in all, and a variety of films watched; I’d say if you’re considering doing a four film day the key is to mix it up with different genres and film styles. The Unlimited card meant instead of spending £36 on cinema tickets per person, we got our month’s money’s worth in one day, anything after that is just a bonus.

Review: Now You See Me

Some people love high school slasher films, some people like mall cop films. Myself, I like most films, but I have a real soft spot opening up for that favourite genre “magic films”.

As a Cineworld Unlimited customer, I am invited to the preview screenings the chain hold for upcoming films. Mostly, I let these pass me by as I always think I’ll catch the film at a later date anyway, and as screenings are on a Tuesday, I’m never with my cinema-going partner in crime. This screening was too good to pass up – even my parents went, sucked in by the excitement surrounding the event.

This screening was a tip-top secret. Cineworld invited all us Unlimited customers without telling us what the film was, revealing clues along the line. Tension mounted as the cinema workers remained tight lipped whilst being grilled by customers. Fellow guests fidgeted and whispered through the trailers as they tried to guess what was coming next. Suddenly, Jesse Eisenberg’s giant head filled the screen and he and his cast members introduced our next two hours.

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The film focuses around a newly created magical act, The Four Horsemen comprising of Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco. The Horsemen have been instructed to put on three magical shows across America, whilst dodging the grasp of FBI agent Mark Ruffalo, as their stunts become more daring and less legal.

The group dynamic works well, though at times it feels as if there is not enough focus on the relationships between characters. Certainly, the relationships are alluded to, but it often feels that the story will return and never does. The group has the benefits of each member having specialist skills, and the plot moves along allowing all team members equal screen time, but overall, being overshadowed by Mark Ruffalo who quickly becomes the central character, often stealing the show.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Now You See Me. The film felt fast-paced and the plot moved on with ease. The concept of three magic shows was introduced early on in the film, and this certainly helped with the pacing of the film, as the audience was left waiting to see what the Four Horseman could pull off next. Though some tricks were a little unbelievable, for the most part things were explained as Morgan Freeman’s character sets out to debunk the magic behind the tricks of the most popular magicians.

Now You See Me was a great choice for the secret screening, with the genre and plot of the film adding to the mystery shrouding the whole night. I would recommend the film to anyone looking for an interesting film, with plenty of twists and an exciting new concept.

7.5

Review: The Purge

Cinema trips used to be few and far between, but since taking on the Cineworld unlimited card offer, I can now find myself in up to three screenings each weekend. If I wrote reviews for each film see, I’d be here all week, and let’s face it, there are plenty of reviews around for a lot of the huge blockbusters out there.

I’ve chosen to write a review about The Purge as I feel it’s going under the radar a bit. Prior to entering the screen, I’d never heard of the film, let alone what it was about.

The film is set in America in the near future, where there are strict laws – except on one day of the year. On this day, anything goes, any crime is permitted. This day is when citizens are permitted twelve hours to go on a crime “purge” to cleanse their souls of the anger that may otherwise cause them to commit crime.

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Ethan Hawke is a salesman specialising in security equipment designed to protect families from people participating in the purge. His wife, Lena Headey, is left to deal with the scrutinising stares of neighbours who feel her husband is capitalising on their fears. They live with their two children in their grand house, and all is well.

Until the purge.

The plot of the film centres around the struggle of the family to cope as their purge plans go awry. I don’t want to go into too much detail for fear of entering spoiler territory, but the house doesn’t turn out to be quite the fortress it was designed to be.

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The Purge turned out to be a pleasant cinema experience. I wouldn’t say it was excellent, but it certainly isn’t poor either. The film remains tense throughout, and is well-acted. There are questionable comedic moments which I wasn’t sure were made to be intentionally funny or just missed the mark.

Coming out of the screening, I heard a lot of people grumbling that The Purge hadn’t lived up to their expectations. Having gone into the film with no expectations at all, I found it to be perfectly enjoyable and watchable. I can’t say it’s a film that I would necessarily want to own, or indeed watch again, but as a bit of fun on a Friday night, it was fine.

6.0