Episode 7, and this week Stu and I watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople. 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a comedy written and directed by Taika Waititi, based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. This is Taika Waititi's follow up film to his previous comedy What We Do in the Shadows. 

It stars Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker who after a series of unfortunate events is on the run with his cantankerous foster Uncle Hec, played by Sam Neil, in the New Zealand bush, while a national manhunt is organised to find them

As well the film Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this and discus the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!

-Billy


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When you’re eight years old and impressionable you need someone strong and morally just to look up to. You know, like a gang of mutated turtles that fight aliens and eat pizza… Right? To celebrate the release of the new adaptation of beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows on June 9, we have curated the childhood favourite heroes that we held so dear.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles



Starting its legendary run in 1988, the heroes in a half shell were thrusted upon the world to become a phenomenon still enjoyed by kids everywhere. We fully believe that a gang of mutated turtles, who were trained by a rat in martial arts, could competently fight aliens. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows crawls out of the sewers and onto the silver screen on June 9.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers


How easily fooled we were, loving a TV show that was actually teaching us about environmentalism the whole time… and we thought it was cool! Did anyone else want a grass-green mullet?


Jem and the Holograms




Jem and the Holograms sure was sexist and full of bad eighties fashion, but you can’t say she wasn't a hero. Jem was the original Hannah Montana for keeping her pop-star alter ego a secret, was extremely charitable for supporting 12 foster children and was a pioneer in hologram technology.

Masters of the Universe




Prince Adam, a.k.a the all-powerful He-Man, was the hero of the best sword and sorcery shows on television at the time and my personal style icon. Don't believe he was the bomb? Let’s just point out that he defended his planet from Skeletor while riding a FIGHTING TIGER. Epic hero.

ThunderCats



Thunder, thunder, ThunderCats, hooo! Humanoid cats that save the world from evil? Yes please. This classic show taught us about everything from following the rules and friendship, but mostly about kicking butt. We know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, the show definitely began the fandom that is furries.

G.I. Joe




G.I. Joe is a real American hero, you can tell because it says so in the show's title. This hunk o' man was in constant battle with Cobra to fight for freedom! Freedom and the ladies that is.

Ghostbusters




While not technically a childhood cartoon, the Ghostbusters were definitely a group of heroes to look up to. Bill Murray himself is an outright champion and the entire gang prove that friendship is key to solving life's (paranormal) challenges.

Inspector Gadget




While we would all be a bit of a mess if Inspector Gadget was our only mentor, I'm sure you can agree that he was something special. Being able to have any and all gadgets at your fingertips is a kid's dream!

Mighty Max



All kids could relate to this pre-teen with a bad attitude. Mighty Max was a prophesied brat from the future with a teleporting hat and a Viking as a bodyguard that we desperately wanted to be.

Batman




Batman is a favourite hero for many reasons, but mainly because he has no powers. He is a rich computer geek with great fighting skills and completely set apart from other superheroes. It makes 8-year-old you think that maybe, just maybe, you could be him.

Superman



Superman on the other hand is the most powerful orphan in the world. As the very first classic superhero, he spawned every secret identity, every super power and villain to come. A true hero with a good heart and super slick hair.

Spider-Man


An 80's wonder, an Internet meme and now a part of the Captain America: Civil War team, Spider-Man has come a long way from his Peter Parker origin story. We love him because he's relatable, has a sense of humour and just powerful enough to best the regular bad guys.

Wonder Woman




A hero worthy of the title, Wonder Woman was the world's first female superhero. She was born from the ideals of feminism and drew her powers from Greek mythology, and we looked up to her because she was an absolute badass!





Episode 6! Stu and I decided to watch the movie that lost the coin toss in the last episode, so we ventured to Dendy Cinema to watch First Monday In May. 

First Monday In May is a documentary by Andrew Rossi, and follows the creation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's most attended fashion exhibit in history: the 2015 art exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass by curator Andrew Bolton at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The film follows a years worth of planning by Andrew Bolton and Anna Wintour for the Exhibition and the Annual Met Gala that accompanies it. It also depicts the daily life of Vogue editor Anna Wintour and tries to question fashion as art. 

As well the film Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this and discus the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!

-Billy


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It's difficult to discuss Joe Abercrombie's excellent The First Law series without treading on George R.R. Martin's toes via the expected Game of Thrones comparison. It's true that both writers adopt the term 'grimdark' in similar ways, presenting European-influenced medieval fantasy that's light on the magic and heavy on the shock-value gore festivals. It's also true that both sets of narratives are sprawling exercises in superlative worldbuilding, where stories can be told at the farthest points of the world and still feel like they're all interconnected. Also, both authors really like their swearing characters.

I would, however, argue that Abercrombie has this realm of writing locked down far better than Martin does. Most of that's because Abercrombie has a penchant for well-drawn and investing characters, while Martin relies a lot more on plot movement and external circumstance to shape our understanding of the main characters. Pit someone like Sand dan Glokta, one of the three protagonists of Abercrombie's initial outing The Blade Itself, against Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Arya Stark, whomever you want; excluding what the show's done in fleshing many of them out, most of Martin's gallery of heroes, as they are in the books, are shaped by what happens to them rather than by what they do. Abercrombie's characters don't usually have that problem. (Also, before any Martin fans come for my head - I adore Game of Thrones and the A Song of Ice and Fire books, but they are not without their issues.)

So it was with no small degree of excitement that I tore into Sharp Ends, Abercrombie's first short story collection set in the world of The First Law. It's been four years since our last outing in Red Country; though I've enjoyed my Sanderson and Hearn fixes, I was missing Abercrombie's ethically questionable characters and engrossing worldbuilding. Needless to say, Sharp Ends scratched the itch.

Despite it being billed as an anthology, Sharp Ends actually has a semi-central narrative to it. Young thief Shevedieh is forced to flee her opium den business after a deal goes south, accompanied in her new escapades by the boisterous and enigmatic warrior Javre. Over the better part of three decades, Shev and Javre's stories are interspersed with explorations of realms and characters both old and new; a young Sand dan Glokta seeks glory on the training ground; Curnden Craw and his band of Northern bastards undertake a fool job; renegade thief Shy South evades capture in the Far Country; the idealistic Northern chieftain Bethod seeks peace with his enemy, whilst attempting to handle the violent barbarian known as the Bloody-Nine. Say one thing about Sharp Ends, say that it's an engrossing cross section of damn near the entirety of Abercrombie's First Law region of the Circle of the World.

Despite being pulled from six years' worth of publications and anthologies, the majority of Sharp Ends' tales were written specifically for this collection. They're handily presented in chronological order - save Made a Monster, the unsettling final story set in the North - and consistently showcase Abercrombie's talent for crafting nuanced characters in vividly-drawn locations. I won't lie, it felt comfortable to slip back into the earlier times of The First Law, with stories set before the nascent fantasy-Western era of Red Country. Those stories reminded me how gripped I initially was by The Blade Itself, and how much a far cry Abercrombie's brilliantly rendered world of grim humour and violence is even when compared to Westeros.

There are, however, some stories that end up falling flat. Of particular note is Freedom!, an intentionally exaggerated biography of roguish mercenary captain Nicomo Cosca, one of The First Law's most fascinating characters, which doesn't quite hit the sarcastic irony its particular delivery is attempting to strike at (those who've read Red Country will understand what I mean). I also wasn't keen on Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden, a lacklustre story set during the depressing war epic The Heroes, which mostly followed a disgraced Union officer getting jumped by Northern barbarians. It, along with several other stories in Sharp Ends, is almost entirely reliant on the reader having read Abercrombie's other books, in order for the full weight of the story to have impact.

That may be my main criticism of Sharp Ends, actually. While I'm an existing fan of Abercrombie's work, the anthology does little to adequately orient newbies. You'd best have read the novel Best Served Cold before you dive into the short story Wrong Place, Wrong Time, or else you'll be utterly lost. Similarly, the short story Hell can read as a nice, if horrifying, diversion, but only really snaps into focus if you've already gone through the novel Before They Are Hanged. Not that Sharp Ends necessarily needed to be aimed at the first-timers, but it's something you'd best be aware of before you dive in - and really, why haven't you read Abercrombie's other work already, anyway? For shame. 

As much as those few points niggled at me, others threw the book's greatness into, ahem, sharp relief. Shev and Javre's multi-tale story was a fantastic narrative throughline - with Two's Company being the peak - presenting characters I'd love to see in subsequent First Law books (the way their story ends implies they'll hopefully be back). Likewise, reading about Curnden Craw's cutthroat crew in The Fool Jobs reminded me of some of the best parts of The Heroes, one of my favourite books in Abercrombie's world. It might not be good for those who have no idea who the King of the Union or the First of the Magi are, but those of us who've been here for a while will find a nice, welcoming environment. Or, at least, as welcome an environment as a world built on murder, gallows jokes and anti-heroics can be.

Sharp Ends delivers more of Joe Abercrombie's consistently excellent, trademark style of fantasy; the guy didn't pick Lord Grimdark as his Twitter handle for nothing. I'd recommend neophytes at least dive into The Blade Itself first - because really, it's just an excellent book all on its lonesome - then take your time strolling across the entire Circle of the World with Sharp Ends. You never know what, or who, you might come across.

- Chris





Sharp Ends: Tales from the World of the First Law is in bookstores now.

Review copy kindly supplied to Geek of Oz by Hachette Australia.
DISCLAIMER: As this review is a First Impressions of a DLC that is still in development, there will be no */10 Geeks score at the end. There is also a slant towards the positive aspects and, unless otherwise stated, any mention of negative elements or bugs may be attributed to the game still being made.

Some who wish to remain clean of any foreknowledge may also find MINOR SPOILERS in this review.

--




If a few hours spent in the vineyards of Beauclair are any indication, Blood and Wine is going to be a sumptuous narrative and visual feast. It'll also be quite the bittersweet one.


While last October's Hearts of Stone was a delightful, if brief, added sojourn to the already superlative experience of The Witcher 3, the real focus was on what would come after; as early as the game's initial release, developers CD Projekt Red were boasting of a second expansion that would rival the main story in terms of content. Such claims recalled the wide open add-ons of other DLC like Skyrim's fantastic Dragonborn expansion, effectively crafting an additional game world attached to the one we're familiar with.

Suffice it to say, CDPR weren't talking out of their rears. Blood and Wine's Duchy of Toussaint region is truly massive at first blush, presenting a land comparable in size to Skellige. (actually, if we're being honest, it looks a little bigger - sorry, snowfolk!) Dotted strategically throughout Toussaint are a wealth of sidequests, monster contract locations and settlements to discover, ensuring you won't be short on pioneering new ground while you follow the expansion's intriguing main questline.


Coupled with the expansion's... um... expansive (sorry) geographical add-on, is an intriguing new plot that both spins out from and stands alone beside the game's main story. Summoned to aid the feisty Duchess of Beauclair with some local trouble, Geralt is taken to sunny Toussaint and tasked to investigate some rotten goings-on. Not long after arriving, an incident at a knights' tournament leads Geralt to an unexpected source of trouble for the Duchess, one that might have a personal connection to Geralt himself.

I'm being deliberately cagey about the plot not only because I only spent a good two hours with it - both of which were glorious, as I'll get into below - but because there were some nice early surprises that don't deserve to be spoiled. It's fair to say that you'll probably be as interested as I was once the potential culprit of Toussaint's woes shows their face, and the dynamic entry of one supporting character in particular deserves to be left entirely alone. So what I'm saying, in an overly sesquipedalian manner, is that you should come into this expansion as cold as post-tonsil surgery ice cream.


What isn't cold is the region you're visiting. Beauclair boasts the most colourful, sunny visuals The Witcher's ever put to screen, a rolling landmass of hilled villages and a city equal parts inspired by Renaissance-era and modern day Italy. Immediately upon landing on Toussaint, you'll notice a stark contrast in the palette compared to the murky greys and dreary rains of Velen and Novigrad; while I did love those original regions, and still do, the jump from downer to dynamic colours is a welcome one. I recommend, once arriving at Beauclair, that you stroll to the balcony overlooking the northeastern expanse of the continent; even for a simulacrum, the view is spectacular. The graphics also appear sharper overall, something CDPR have said will also carry over into the base game.


Controls are largely the same, though CDPR have introduced a few welcome tweaks in the user interface. The inventory layout and skill systems are neater, along with a couple of additional levelling systems that might be considered partial spoilers (I will say that one of them involves fiddling with mutagens, which looks like a lot of fun and a great way to create, in the words of one of CDPR's senior designers, 'a God Mode Geralt'). On top of all that, the player is given a home base location they can add onto and build upon, a la Fallout 4's settlements mechanic. The base, a vineyard encountered during the main questline, allows you to put armour sets on display - which, on that subject, armour can now have its colour customised, so running around Toussaint in hot pink battle armour is now more possible than ever - gives you a bed for Geralt and a stable for Roach, both of which provide in-game bonuses when used, and allows you to invite friends from the main game, like Yennefer and Triss, to hang out with you for a bit.



All sounds good, right? Definitely, but as I said, this is also a bittersweet occasion. As CDPR have made very clear, Blood and Wine is the final Witcher game chapter for the foreseeable future, one final hurrah for characters that some have spent nearly a decade following alongside. When speaking with CDPR's Fabian Doehla and Jamie Bury, both of whom were around for the hands-on beta I was lucky enough to play (the latter of whom graciously gave an interview for the site - look for it to be uploaded soon!), I got the feeling that the Witcher development team are similarly elated and morose to be finishing one of gaming's most successful franchises. Speaking for myself, The Witcher 3 was the first of the series I really got my teeth into (as mentioned previously, I started 2 but couldn't get into its groove), and that was epic enough in and of itself to provoke as strong emotions in me as when I finished three games' worth of Mass Effect.


As it stands, Blood and Wine looks set to be a satisfying, hugely enjoyable swan song for The Witcher 3, and a fitting finale from CD Projekt Red. It's big, it's bright and, for the time I spent with it, it's a lot of fun. Not a bad way for a gaming exemplar to go into retirement.

- Chris


The Witcher: Blood and Wine is due for release May 31 for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

A full review of Blood and Wine will be put out following the expansion's release date.


Episode 5! Stu and I ventured this past weekend to Dendy Cinema to watch Eddie the Eagle. 

Based on the life of Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, this biographical sports dramedy chronicling Eddie Edwards' journey to be the first person to represent Great Britain at the 1988 Winter Olympics. 

The film is from actor/director Dexter Fletcher (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Wild Bill) and stars Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards, and Hugh Jackman as rogue coach Bronson Peary.

As well the film Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this and discus the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!

-Billy


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HOLY DELAYED SCHEDULING BATMAN! WE FINALLY HAVE A NEW EPISODE.

So it's been a while. As you would have no doubt noticed it's been over a month since we last had an episode of Read, Watch, Play.

Unfortunately 'real life' continues to get the better of us making meeting up to talk all things pop-culture much harder then we would like. That said Stu and Billy have started the brand spanking new film-centric pod-cast on the Geek of Oz network, 'We like to watch' so be sure to check it out to get your fix of our particular brand of bullshit. 

As for this episode the intention was to talk about binge worthy television shows, comics and films (which we touch on a little) but instead we end up talking about Will Smith, the new Ghostbusters film and why I'm addicted to Hearthstone. 

As per our new format this show is pretty loose, although we cover read watch play a little bit, what ended up unfolding was an organic (and hopefully interesting!) conversation about pop-culture.

Finally on a house keeping note the embargo has lifted meaning the interview with the Witcher  3 devs we mention in the intro should be out in the next couple of days as a bonus episode of the podcast.

Enjoy!

-Christof

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