Wednesday, 22 December 2010

This Is Entertainment has moved to Wordpress

Yes, you heard right, after over 90 posts and several years on blogger I've decided to continue on Wordpress at

Rest assured you will still find the best quality material over there, in fact there's already new posts there.

So take a look, 'like' it, subscribe to it - I don't mind so long as you enjoy it.

See you there,


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Gaming: Do we need to get Kinect-ed?

Four years ago the Nintendo Wii broadened gamers’ horizons, getting them up off the sofa and waving their arms around to interact with games with its revolutionary motion-sensitive controls.
Last month Microsoft took the gaming experience a step further with the release of Kinect, an add-on to the incredibly successful Xbox 360 which lets players jump into games in a way they never have before. With a combination of an conventional RGB camera and two motion-tracking sensors, Kinect scans you into the game so every move you make is reflected on screen by your character.

The system, which is compatible with all existing Xbox 360s, was released on 10 November and sold a million units worldwide in the first 10 days after launch. Microsoft is confident to have it in five million homes worldwide by the end of the year. But with so much technology already hanging around widescreen TVs across the land, do people need another device?

There’s plenty of shiny futuristic features to the technology: voice control, hand control of the menus, as well as ‘scanning’, which means that the sensor can be shown a colour, analyse it and then use it in the game, such as the colour of your car in happy-go-lucky racer Kinect Joyride (which is obviously not a copy of any Kart-based franchise on Nintendo’s consoles…).

The camera also works as a normal webcam, allowing video chats via Xbox LIVE, but with webcams as standard for most laptops and Skype facilitating video chatting it’s hardly a unique selling point.
What Microsoft have failed to realise is that it’s the strength of the games which will sell Kinect to the masses, especially their current fanbase, and unfortunately it’s a fairly mixed bag. If things had gone according to plan we might have seen Kinect-enabled Fable III as well as Gears of War 3 but alas it was not to be. Perhaps Microsoft should invest in coming up with an IP which really lends itself to showcasing the technology…?

On top of it all it’s not cheap either – despite claims originally that it would retail around the price of a standard game – Kinect currently RRPs at £129.99 on its own, though it does come with the physically challenging Kinect Adventures, or you can pay £249.99 for a bundle with the new slim Xbox 360 console included as well.

The smart thing to do though is to wait for an established franchise to take the plunge and embrace the technology to show the world what Kinect can really achieve. In the meantime relax, gaming is supposed to be recreation after all. If you want a work out though, there is a certain console from Japan which you can flail your arms at to your hearts content, if you need a clue its name rhymes with ‘money’.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Review : Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

All growed up: Daniel Radcliffe as the titular boy-man-wizard
Six years have passed since Harry Potter was sitting alone under the stairs without a care in the world. Now the world has changed, darkness has fallen and Harry and co must leave home and go on a quest to find a way to defeat the mighty dark lord.

Voldemort now controls the magical world and the only way for our dynamic trio to defeat him is to destroy the remaining shards of his soul, known as Horcruxes.

At one point our teenage heroes wear one of the Horcruxes as a locket around their neck, which makes them slowly become overcome with anger and rage, not entirely unlike a certain ring, and you can't help but wonder why they didn't just put it in their pocket instead.

If you're thinking it all sounds a bit familiar, then cast your mind back to 2001; a group of heroes travelling in search of a way to destroy an item of jewellery to defeat an evil overseer? Hmmm...

Throughout the Deathly Hallows there's a distinct Fellowship of the Rings feel. This isn't automatically a bad thing of course, as director David Yates embracing the picturesque landscapes and dynamic camera work which gave the films such an epic sense of scale, but the sense of foreboding and ever-increasing darkness soon takes its toll.

The film itself begins the climax to the boy-wizard's story solemnly, with Harry, Ron and Hermione all leaving home for what they know will be the final time. Particularly heart-breaking is the moment where Hermione wipes her parents memories of her, to protect them, and her face fades from the picture frames across her muggle – that's non-magic – home.

The universe which author J.K Rowling might not be exactly the same as the one which we've got to know on screen, but fans will notice plenty of familiar touches crammed in between the lines, and the absence of Alnwick Castle (or Hogwarts to those in the know) mixes up the hum-drum school year formula and turns the film into a non-stop chase movie.

As ever, those who've read the books will understand far more of what is going on (Snatchers?), but the usual tension between the main characters and ample amounts of Polyjuice potion hurry things along. With Obi Wan/Gandalf/Dumbledore gone and Sirius long since departed, Harry has noone to guide him. There's a real sense of the group really not knowing what to do for the first time, which adds to the sense of helplessness and world-ending which Yates is keen to push.

The supporting cast are the usual high standard, with new addition Bill Nighy sublimely asserting his authority as new Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, and the return of Dobby the house elf is sure to be a hit with younger fans.

It's Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson that we've all grown up with though and they all continue to be as effective as ever, though Radcliffe still lags behind the rest, but Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) really stands out from the 'evil minions' crowd, even over Ralph Fiennes' chilling tones.

With the story only being half over it's hard to build to a climax, though Yates succeeds in creating a impressive and lasting closing image, but the two parts demand watching together to give a real sense of finale. The film is an effective beginning to the end, but not exceptional, the closing chapter will either prove its worth or see the series fall short of the mark.

Rating: 3/5

James Michael Parry

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Film Review: The Social Network (so yeah...they mean Facebook)

Just a fad? A waste of time? For people with no real lives? Facebook may fall victim to the generation gap but there’s no denying its popularity.

Over 500 million people actively use the site, spending 700 billion minutes of their time every month updating statuses, poking people and checking out pictures.

The company is currently valued at $25 billion, making CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire of all time.

But The Social Network’s story begins well before all that in 2003, at a bar at Harvard University with poor socially awkward Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) being dumped by his Girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) for being elitist about his academic future.

Sure enough, Mark doesn’t react too well to this and goes on the computer-geek version of a alcohol binge, creating a site called which compares girls on the university campus, blogging all the while.

It’s not all megabytes and C++ coding though, and as Mark, with his business partner/best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), evolves their company from a lose connection of college students to the most popular social networking site in history the strain begins to show.

Mark and Eduardo soon don’t see eye to eye over the business, with Eduardo pushing to make money from their success while Mark insists: “We don’t even know what this is yet, all we know is that it’s cool.”

Whether the film is a true reflection of what really happened between the pair through those ground-breaking years, only seven years ago, is unlikely, but there is a keen sense of teenage-awareness with director David Fincher, helmsman of Seven, Fight Club and Zodiac, to keep the film entertaining as well as tense.

Zuckerberg wasn't involved with the film and in fact only Saverin is loosely connected with the book which originated the film, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.

Nonetheless the events did happen, and a few unexpected names pop up in the opening credits such as Kevin Spacey as Executive Producer and Trent Reznor, the founder of industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails, on music duty alongside Atticus Ross, who appeared in Reznor's post-Nails side project How to Destroy Angels.

The supporting cast has a few surprising additions, none more so than former pop sensation Justin Timberlake, who plays Sean Parker, a renegade entrepreneur who co-founded original music sharing site Napster back in 1999. Parker becomes a wedge between Mark and Eduardo and Timberlake manages to be convincing as the washed-up party boy – strange that.

Social media is undoubtedly a phenomenon, and Facebook is at the centre of it, like MySpace before it it changed everything about how people interact on the internet, and it continues to be important today, seven years on, after a lot of similar sites have long since declined, including MySpace itself.

As for the film the story is engaging because of the friendship between the characters, and anyone who has grown up with the rise of the internet will relate to it's integration with the cyberculture which has evolved in the 21st century, as well as typical teenagery moments.

For those who don't know Facebook and don't want to know it won't offer much, but to see what goes into something that has become more than 'just a fad' it is much more rewarding.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Monday, 11 October 2010

Smartphones: App-tacular Ubrain for Android and iPhone

Some people's lives are ruled by music - I am one such sufferer - and with Spotify and around you would have thought we had enough music-related apps about, but, of course, you were wrong.

The idea behind Ubrain - other than having a name that sounds like a type of yo-yo - is that it creates sound to control you. The most blatant brain-washing idea (no pun intended...) since Simon Cowell's plan to put on a 24 hour X-Factor marathon is achieved through binaural waves.

If you don't know what they are then don't worry, though you are a little behind the times since they discovered them back in 1839, but the science is that binaural beats are based on broadcasting 2 different frequencies, one in each ear, resulting in a median 3rd beat. This 3rd beat becomes an attraction to your brain and encourages cerebral activity to stick to this virtual beat and carry the brain to this frequency.

Basically, it convinces your brain it is happy if you are feeling a bit down by combining sounds, and although the effect is only temporary, it could be enough to give you a bit of confidence before you take that final exam, or wake you up in time to get to work.

Apparently it does have genuine scientific basis, according to
clinical psychologist Brigitte Forgeot, who said: "I'm looking forward to its release, and hope it will turn out to be a product which can be adapted for use in therapeutic treatments. Being able to combine music you enjoy with binaural sound waves is a very definite plus, which leaves room for a lot of creative freedom and different uses of this process."

There's also endorsement from Grammy nominated DJ Paul van Dyk: "
That music effects your mood is something we all know – that binaural beats can boost these effects and increase your energy level, help to focus, or calm you down to relax was something I experienced using the Ubrain App."

The app is now available on Android market and for iPod, iPad and iPhone on iTunes, but before you part with £3.49 check out these fancy YouTube videos:

How it all works

James Michael Parry

Monday, 20 September 2010

Exclusive: iPad world premier of spy thriller Nikita

Maggie Q gets her gun on

All good attackers know the most important thing in a fight is the element of surprise, which is exactly what This Is Entertainment got when we were invited to a top secret preview screening of Nikita, a TV remake of the 1990 French film.

The twist was that this was to be the first TV show to be previewed via Apple's shiny iPad. Danny Wallace, writer of Yes Man, hosted the event, dropping the bombshell that unfortunately we weren't allowed to keep the interactive TV trays, but soon everyone was lounging on a comfortable sofa watching episode one.

The show itself boasts an impressive cast including Maggie Q as the titular femme fatale as well as Shane West, formerly Tom Sawyer in the ill-fated League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Xander Berkeley, from not only Kick-Ass and Terminator 2, but also hit action series 24 (which Nikita has plenty in common with).

Berkeley also took part in a live webchat afterwards to explain how the series works: "It's a great structure: you take this deadly female assassin and put her up against this nefarious organisation who trained her to take it down."

Wallace went on to ask him why he thought there were such a large number of spy-turn-rogue-agent flicks around, with the likes of Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer dominating the screens for the past few years: "I'd like to think in this post-9/11 era there is a lot of money being put into counter-terrorism and the public don't really know where that money is going so it all generates the same kind of intrigue that I felt during the cold war era."

So it's your classic case of asset turns against its maker with a few twists turned in for good measure and a little bit of photogenic casting. Now that these sorts of shows, particularly Alias, seem to be on the wane, Nikita deserves to do well. Definitely worth watching.

The show is already available via iTunes and is set to be aired on Living TV in October. Special thanks to Fever PR.

James Michael Parry

Monday, 6 September 2010

Music: Reading Festival 2010 Review

Moody rock stars, muddier teenagers and a plethora of fantastic music and comedy performers made up this year’s Reading Festival weekend.
The rain began on Thursday 26 and continued on and off through the Friday to create one of the most water-logged festivals of recent years.
Classic rock fans refused to have their spirits dampened by the rain and earnestly awaited Guns ‘n’ Roses Main Stage headlining performance on Friday evening. Unfortunately they waited far longer than anyone expected and when frontman Axl Rose waltzed on stage at 10.30pm the band were already an hour late for their advertised slot.
The heavyweight rockers, famous for hits such as ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘November Rain’, had already kept fans waiting 10 years for their latest album Chinese Democracy, but once the music began the crowd’s discontent softened a little.
Despite festival management company Festival Republic allowing the band to play on for an extra half an hour, they were forced to switch of the sound system at 12.00pm to comply with Reading Borough Council’s licensing, leaving Axl mouthing along to muffled drum sounds.
Being a no-good rock and roller though Rose felt this was not the end and promptly picked up a nearby megaphone to sing along with the crowd in the most original rendition of ‘Paradise City’ in the band’s history.
Guns may have failed to capture the crowds’ imagination but across the (now sodden) grass in the Lock Up tent American pop-rockers Alkaline Trio were delivering a solid performance.

Elsewhere on the Friday Queens of the Stone Age and Lostprophets oozed energy on the Main Stage and both had the crowd singing along to their greatest hits.
Saturday brought a clash between the thumping drum and bass outfit Pendulum and the mellow radio-friendly sounds of Arcade Fire, whose latest album The Suburbs jumped to the top of the album charts last week. Both bands were well received, with the crowd chanting the haunting chorus of Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ for hours after the music had finished.

In the midst of the battle for supremacy, NOFX showed up as a secret act on the Lock Up stage to entertain the crowd with their usual jibes, even inviting Frank Turner on to join them during their 18 minute epic song 'The Decline,' which they performed in full. Soon after came the band that really shone through on Saturday night: Bad Religion. The group's 30-year-old political punk sounds united old and new fans with a fantastically diverse set delivering hit after hit.

Earlier in the afternoon The Mystery Jets hypnotised the audience with songs from their latest album Serotonin and Dizzee Rascal united rock and pop fans with his bizarre range of styles, including a rendition of his own version of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as well as his own hits ‘Bonkers’ and ‘Jus a Rascal’.
Sunday saw a departure from the usual tradition of heavy metal bands to have pop-punk kings Blink 182 closing the festival amid fans of all ages. A particular visual highlight was drummer Travis Barker’s 360 degree drum kit, which spun in all directions, leaving him upside down while he thrashed out a blistering drum solo.

Guitarist Tom Delongue fared less well as he constantly forgot lyrics and at one point got distracted when he spotted Dominic Howard, the drummer for the British rock group Muse, watching them from the side of the stage.
The Alternative Tent retained its consistently high calibre of acts this year, with Adam Bloom, Robin Ince and Russell Kane, who had only just arrived at the festival after being awarded the Edinburgh Comedy Award the previous day, all having the tent in stitches from start to finish.
Despite some typically British weather, the festival delivered a fantastic weekend of entertainment. There was some slightly over-zealous fire fighting on the final night, but generally new safety measures managed to cut down the amount of crime and dangerous gas explosions, which have tarnished the event’s reputation for years. Roll on 2011.

James Michael Parry