Thanks to our pal at Warners Bros, we've got 5 copies of Batman: Assault on Arkham on Blu Ray to give away. The latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie focuses lest on the Bat and instead follows the exploits of everyones rabble rousing ragtag bunch of big bad baddies, the Suicide Squad.

For your chance to get your hands on a copy, all you have to do is read Christof's review of the film and fill out the form below.

Don't forget, you can get yourself a bonus entry just by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook!

Entries close 11:59pm on Sunday 7th September 2014. Your details will not be used in any way other than for the delivery of your prize. Geek of Oz and Warner Bros do not take any responsibility for the loss, damage or delay of/to prizes sent to winners (blame Australia Post for that one). The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered upon. One entry per person, subsequent entries will be void. Prizes are not redeemable for cash or any other kind of trading currency such as creds, latinum, sen, kan, zeni, double dollars or Ankh Morpork dollars. Geek Of Oz take no responsibility for head explosions caused by utter awesomeness. This competition is only open to Australian residents. Any questions or queries can be submitted through the comment section at the bottom of screen. Good luck!
Guardians of the Galaxy may have cemented Marvel's domination of comic book films on the big screen, but on the small screen it's a totally different matter. Since 2007 DC Universe Animated Original Movies have been wowing audiences with movie adaptations of some of the most beloved comic book runs as well as original stories starring some of DC Comics' most iconic characters. Where Marvel never really seemed to get their act together in this area, DC kept producing hit after hit.

Then in late 2013 the legendary Bruce Timm, who brought us the revered Batman: The Animated Series, stepped down as DC's animation supervising producer and things began to take a turn for the worse. Post-Timm animated features such as Justice League: War, Son of Batman and Flashpoint Paradox all lacked the quality and attention to detail that Timm had brought to his productions. I was beginning to lose hope, and then I watched Batman: Assault on Arkham...

Although by no means a perfect film, Batman: Assault on Arkham is a very strong step in the right direction. For everything wrong this film does, it does about five things right. The characters are interesting, the story is somewhat surprising, the action is explosive and over the top, but most importantly it's a truckload of fun. Heh, ain't that refreshing, a superhero story that actually wants to be fun instead of dark and brooding.

Well technically, it's a super-villain story. Yessir, don't let the name fool you, Batman; Assault on Arkham, ain't about no caped crusader. It's very much a suicide squad tale with the 'B word' thrown in the title to sell more copies. Sure, Batman does appear quite a bit, but the focus is never really on him. He's more of this foreboding unbeatable obstacle that the Suicide Squad have to constantly avoid.

The story revolves around the aforementioned Suicide Squad, a team of incarcerated supervillains assembled by Amanda Waller to run black ops in exchange for time off their sentence. The squad is a veritable buffet of B-grade villains, composed of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, King Shark, Black Spider and rounding out the team is Captain Boomerang complete with a highly cliche 'Australian' accent.

To keep them on mission, each member has been implanted with highly explosive nanites allowing Whaller to remotely 'terminate' anyone who misbehaves. A bunch of super-powered criminals forced to work together under threat of death - what could possibly go wrong?

Well a lot. Obviously. What starts out as a simple mission to break into Arkham Asylum to steal a thumb drive hidden in the Riddler's cane soon goes to hell. Queue lots of shooting, punching and over-the top villain shenanigans.

And believe me, these characters are villains, as the film constantly reminds us. At every critical decision point or chance for redemption Deadshot and the gang prove that they are totally morally bankrupt. So if they are such terrible people,  why should we care if they live or die? Well, the answer is simple: against the faceless spooky government organization Amanda Waller represents, you can't help but have some level of pity for the suicide squad. Especially when they are brought to life so vividly with solid animation and stellar voice acting.

At this point I should admit that I'm a voice acting snob, in my opinion it's even more important than the animation. A good voice actor is the difference between whether you see an actual character on screen or just a bunch of moving pictures with a voice over. Fortunately, Batman: Assault on Arkham has assembled an impressive voice cast (and yes before you ask, Kevin Conroy voices Batman) that brings plenty of personality to the rag-tag group of villians making up the Suicide Squad. Notable mentions include Jennifer Hale as Killer Frost, Hynden Walch as Harley Quinn, C.C.H Pounder as Amanda Waller, and Troy Baker as the Joker. 

Also worth a mention, although unfortunately for the wrong reasons, is Matthew Gray Gubler who provides possibly the worst rendition of the Riddler I have ever heard. Gubler's Riddler sounds irritating, nasally and very, very forced. Seriously, if the Riddler played a big role in this film he would have killed it for me, fortunately his role is rather small.

This one gripe aside, I have nothing but affection for Batman: Assult on Arkham. What could have been a half-baked attempt to translate the success of the Arkham series of games into animated movie sales, instead stands out on its own as a strong and unique addition to the DC animated film family. This one is a strong recommend from me.

- Christof
Batman: Assult on Arkham is available both digitally and on DVD and Blu Ray.

It would seem that there comes a time in a television show’s life when they no longer want to be trapped in their half hour prison. Spying on their older cousins of the entertainment world (films) running around having a ball making it look oh see easy, they become jealous which inevitably leads to delusions of grandeur creeping in. Which results in a bloated television episode masquerading as a terrible film. The Inbetweeners 2 feels like a 200m sprinter who is forced to run a marathon; it’s quite painful to watch a once graceful runner cough and splutter their way to a truly unsatisfying finish. Whilst there are glimpses of the humour that the television series was built upon, they are vanquished by the sloppy attempts to shock the audience through a variety of bodily fluid gags. It’s all be done before and by better films.

The film opens with Will (Simon Bird), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Simon (Joe Thomas) having a tough time fitting in post high school. They are lured to Australia by Jay (James Buckley) who sends the lads a video which successfully ticks off every cliche lampooning of our fine nation in the broadest way possible. It’s basically just Jay walking through various visual gags poking fun at Australia and claiming to have shagged every woman in the country. To no ones surprise the boys fly out and after meeting up with Jay they find out he’s not living the life he’d bragged about. After a chance meeting Will falls for Emily (Katie Berrignton) a friend from his youth and the quartet shoot up to Byron Bay to prove they are hardened journeymen seeking real adventure.

What annoys me about television shows coming across to film is that there’s a distinct difference between the two mediums. In television shows the plots are allowed to fairly straight forward considering the time constraints. They are squeezing a basic three act structure of problem, conflict and resolution into twenty odd minutes, they rely on the charm of the characters to carry us through. In film though, the story needs to be far more interesting if it’s meant to sustain a ninety minute run time, and this just isn’t particularly interesting. There is too much filler and repetition of jokes. Which screamed the writers were merely treading water hoping that the popularity of the lads would get them by, which frankly it just didn’t. Outside of the obvious financial rewards for releasing this film it really doesn’t have too many other redeeming features for me.

If you’re a fan of the show you’ll more than likely get a kick out hanging out with these guys for an hour and a half but it’s well off the pace of what the show produced. The comedy fell flat and was way too juvenile for my liking. I longed for the charm and spark of the show but sadly seems as though that’s been completely wrung from the franchise. I’d rather go watch American Pie again if i wanted a teen comedy about trying to get laid.

If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to drop me a line below or come give me a bollocking over on our Facebook page.

- Stu

I'll say one thing for Maoyu, if nothing else – it is certainly unique.

It's not a giant mecha story. It's not a magical girl story. It's not a harem anime, an urban fantasy anime, or a cyberpunk anime. Instead, it's a narrative primarily concerned with breast jiggles, internal politics and ecology. Lots, and lots, and lots of ecology.

The premise owes a bit to the Italian commedia dell’arte form of drama using particular stock character types to tell a story. Instead of named protagonists we have people like Hero and Female Knight, and instead of a grandiosely-named villain we have the Demon King; the latter is a double-misnomer being that she’s not a demon and not a man.

The story opens with a war between humans and demons winding down as Hero goes into the Demon King’s lair to do final battle, only to find the aforementioned double-misnomer who’s actually taken the Demon King’s mantle as a ceremonial title with detachable demon horns. Also she has rather large breasts, a fact the anime keeps throwing into very sharp relief with the ever-present sound effects and boob-jiggles you would not expect in an anime concerned with the horrors of war and how to grow crops.

No, you didn’t read that last part wrong; once Hero and Demon King work things out, Demon King explains the real enemy are actually the humans inside the decadent ruling class city who have been propagating war for so long as to make a ton of money from it. She then proposes ways in which to stimulate the economic and ecological makeup of the kingdom by providing food and safe harbour for those devastated by the war’s effects.

Following from that is a very, very in-depth guide of how to grow crops and have them fertilised by pigs. No, seriously; where Maoyu’s utter uniqueness enters play is through the excruciatingly detailed outlines of ecology and harvesting. In Episode 3 there’s a section detailing a quartered barley harvesting square that I swear took up a good half of the episode all on its own, and I’m not even exaggerating. If ever you wanted an idea of how to manage a farm and food during wartime, Maoyu might be the anime you didn’t even know you were waiting for.

While I do like the spin on classic anime fantasy tropes and the subversion of having things like the big, bad, evil Demon King actually be a very self-aware and curvaceous young woman, I have to say Maoyu was disappointing overall. The constant uses of shonen humour in regards to the Demon King’s breasts and the Hero’s naivete got boring, the story kinda got subsumed by pointless digressions after the first couple of episodes, and I extracted no entertainment whatsoever from being shown an illustrated guide on how to cultivate turnips and potatoes. For a moment I even forgot I was watching an anime series and thought I’d stumbled into an animated episode of Burke’s Backyard with the amount of gardening detail Maoyu had.

As I said, though, it’s certainly unique, and it deserves a look based on that alone. The animation is pretty gorgeous, with great use of colour, though faces occasionally are missing lines connecting tops and bottoms of eyes and lips which can make them look like partial burn victims. Music was pretty good, and the Japanese-only voice acting was well-executed.

But on the whole, I was not a fan of Maoyu. It’s apparently gangbusters popular in Japan, so take my word for whatever it’s worth, but I guess I don’t really fit in the niche this anime’s trying to target. If realistic wartime ecology and growing potatoes appeals to you in an anime juxtaposed with battles and heroic archetypes, then Maoyu may scratch your itch.

- Chris
Maoyu is available on DVD from Madman now!

Like its predecessors Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes is an anime series based upon a visual novel developed by 5pb and the third instalment of their Science Adventure series. That said, in no way is this as impressive a series as Steins;Gate which remains one of my favourite series of the last 5 years.

Set in 2019 Kyushu Japan, the Central Tanegashima High School Robotics Club is in trouble with only two full time members,  Kaito Yashio and Akiho Senomiya. The duo continue the clubs 9 year mission to build a full-scale, working replica of Gunbarrel. As they continue to toil away, amassing new members as they go, a conspiracy slowly unfurls and promises to change the club and its members forever.

While Robotics;Notes may not compare to Steins;Gate in many ways, on way in which is surpasses its colonic predecessor is in terms of animation. It should be no surprise that Production I.G, the studio responsible for Ghost in the Shell and FLCL among many others, delivers a razor sharp, visually diverse production which may not be as innovative as Steins but is a very impressive and highly polished outing. The robot designs may not be particularly memorable but they do make use of Production I.G's proven track record in blending CGI with traditional animation. The augmented reality segments also get the big thumbs up, particularly when overlaid on the lush, island surrounds of Tanegashima which in itself is a character of note.

Beyond the stunning visuals, which are all the more eye popping on beautiful Blu Ray, Robotics;Notes is a bit of a mess. The first half of the series, Collection 1, plods along at a snails pace with seemingly disparate story threads introduced alongside character introductions and minimal suggestion of pending intrigue. Of the characters introduced the lead character, Kaito, is a lazy, self involved loafer who offer little to the overall story apart from the fact that the plot points occur around him. Secondary characters, Akiho, Subaru and Frau, are far more interesting . Thankfully they all get a fair amount of screen time so not all is lost. The second half of the series starts to tie all of those disparate threads together and somewhat makes up for lost time because things really start to gain momentum. This momentum definitely helps to make the series more involving but while it's good to have more action taking place, sadly it becomes quite a convoluted mess.

Robotics;Notes may not be up to the standard of Steins;Gate, but it certainly outshines Chaos;Head. The three series are linked most notably by the Committee of 300, an Illuminati style of group which seems to be pulling the strings behind the events in each series. While they aren't referred to in depth in any of the series, perhaps the next foray into the Science Adventure series, Chaos;Child, will explain further. This is neither a great nor poor series with the quality of animation garnering a higher than average score. This coupled with how much I absolutely adored Steins;Gate is enough to keep me invested in what's to come for this mind-bending franchise. 

- Ryan

Click to enlarge
Chris: SMASH, Rosehill's anime answer to Sydney's Supanova, has come and gone. And what a convention it was!

Those looking for cosplay, anime-themed karaoke and a graffiti wall with scribbles from participants need look no further than SMASH! It's a mega-super-hyper-kawaii-awesome con that scratches the manga and anime itches, and even a couple of itches you never knew you had. For instance, I got my photo taken with Evangelion Unit 02, which is something I never knew I wanted until I stood beside the cosplayer and smiled like a dork as Christof took my photo.

Never too old, I say.

The con this year was packed to the rafters with people, purchases and purveyors of fine artwork; it's easily one of the fullest conventions I've ever visited outside of San Diego, which is heartening to see especially in somewhere a little off the beaten track as Rosehill. Inside and outside the main event I witnessed a cornucopia of cosplay and colour, and coupled with a day that began cold and foggy before eventually metamorphosing into a sunny, idyllic afternoon just made it all the better to be there.

Guest-wise, we were treated to three international people of note: first was Reika, touted as the "number 1 cosplayer in Japan", who showed up as Levi in probably the best Attack on Titan cosplay I've ever seen, who expounded on her love for anime and the channeling of that love into her costuming craft.

We also had Kotono Mitsuishi, the seiyuu (voice actress) behind Misato Katsuragi from Neon Genesis Evangelion and the eponymous protagonist of both Sailor Moon and its reboot Sailor Moon Crystal, amongst other characters. Resplendent in a royal purple kimono, Kotono-san talked about how her initial wish to enter childcare in Japan instead gave way to one of the most prolific anime voice careers in recent memory.

Finally, we had Toshihiro Kawamoto, art director and character designer for anime such as Cowboy Bebop, Space Dandy and Fullmetal Alchemist, who spoke of the stark contrasts and subtle similarities between animators, actors and cosplayers in the world of anime.

SMASH was definitely a big hit this year, especially in terms of the spacious and almost-certainly-filled-to-capacity Artists' Alley towards the back of the convention. What'd you think of it all, Christof? What stood out to you?

Christof: Now in its eighth year, SMASH has continued to gain momentum and become not only an impressive convention from the perspective of sheer size and organisation, but also a unique one in the role it plays in Sydney's 'geek' scene. At no other convention will you get karaoke, origami and paper crafts, video-games, a Gundam building station, trading card games and a maid cafe all under one roof. SMASH! is eclectic to say the least, bringing together all aspects of anime and manga fandom under one convenient roof.

It isn't a convention as much as it is a place to hang out – there’s so much to see and do and plenty of places to sit and chat. A big kudos to the organisers for really putting an emphasis on this, all too often conventions turn into a day of battling crowds and way too much standing. This sense of fostering the local community and geek scene really came through in SMASH's artists alley.
Wow. Just wow.

Never before have I seen so many con-goers not only in artists alley, but actually interacting with artists, checking out their wares and buying their art. I picked up a gorgeous little indie comic called Princess Princess by the very talented Katie O'Neil (, she was among many talented artists all selling prints, comics and hand crafts.

Festivities aside, the biggest draw card for any convention like this is their line-up of special guests, and this year's SMASH! certainly didn't disappoint. Chris and I were lucky enough to start the day with a flashy media-only (yeah, I don't know why they let us in either!) press conference in which we were able to get some Q and A time with the guests.

But before we could even get to the questions I was already gob-smacked by Reika's amazing Levi cosplay. Seriously, her costume was the real deal. With every minute detail covered, from each hair on her head to each thread in her leather jacket, it was easy to see why she is Japan's number 1 cosplayer.

Toshihoro Kawamoto and Kotono Mitsuishi were both insightful and entertaining, and although I was only familiar with a small portion of their body of work, I could appreciate their love of and contribution to the anime industry.

Chris: Me too, Christof. Definitely some entertaining guests.

SMASH! was a helluva lot of fun, heartily recommended to any with even a passing interest in manga, anime or cosplay. Coz seriously, where else could you get a photo of yourself defending Wall Rose?
Continuing from Part 1, here’s the rest of the schweet schtuff I got my hands on at Bandai Namco:

Project CARS
PC, Xbox One, PS4 - November 2014
Wii U - 2015

The best way of summarising the crowd-funded Project CARS is that it is to racing games what Dark Souls is to fantasy games.

No perceivable story – not that it needs one – but whoa-on-a-stick is there a ton of customisation, tracks, cars, difficulty settings, AI settings and weather presets. You could probably drive a go-kart around Bathurst’s Mt Panorama on high difficulty against  overly-aggressive AI competitors, with realistic tyre-ruining sand and an encroaching rainstorm, given the amount of flexibility there is in the gameplay setup.

Actually, that’s exactly what we did do. Mt Panorama. In go-karts. With rain coming.

While I can definitely recommend Project CARS for driving enthusiasts, particularly those who were unimpressed by recent Forza and Gran Turismo offerings, the one big thing screaming at me is that it’s very much a game for hardcore drivers. Granted, you can scale back the difficulty to human levels and still get a lot of fun from it, but I gather those with the most to gain are the ones content to while away time getting their presets just right for the ultimate driving experience. The controls are also not suited to drivers like me who just wanna firewall the gas pedal without crashing into every barrier the track offers (though that is still very entertaining).

I personally suck at driving games that don’t involve missiles or mushroom speed boosts, but I still greatly enjoyed Project CARS. The fact that a crowd-funded game produced work of this calibre is also a very good reason to support crowd-funding, if you didn’t have one already.

Also, go-karts. On Mt Panorama. With rain coming.

Natural Doctrine
PS3, PS4 - September 2014

Of all the schweet stuff Bandai Namco showed me, the most disappointing for me was Natural Doctrine. It’s like mashing up early days Final Fantasy Tactics with latter-day XCOM, but without the ease of control in the latter and about twice as much repetitive (and slightly grating) dialogue.

I confess I’m not entirely flush on the story Doctrine offers, though given the amount of character chatter in-between missions I am certain there is one, but it’s got something to do with mercenaries protecting some blonde lady who’s apparently important and is testing them for something. Also she carries a blunderbuss. As attempts at stories go it’s a start, I guess.

Gameplay is a little frustrating. The combat tutorial, while lengthy and certainly making an attempt at being in-depth, took far too long to let go of the handlebars, and  when it did I still had a flimsy grasp of how things worked half an hour later. When I did get a bit of an inkling on how combat was meant to proceed, I found my contributions didn’t do much to actually kill anything and that it was largely reliant on the enemy AI deciding it felt sorry for me.

It might be the kind of thing someone with a lot of time and patience for the irksome character voices could work out, but I personally found it lacking. If nothing else, it at least presented an alternative RPG combat system to the usual drop-down-menu-click-a-button rigmarole, and that has to be highlighted. Might be your cup of tea, but not really mine. I’m more of a coffee drinker anyway.

Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris
PC, Xbox One, PS4 - December 2014

If Tales of Xillia 2 was my favourite game in this lot, Lara Croft’s latest sojourn is a very, very close second.

If you’ve played a Tomb Raider game that wasn’t that 2013 reboot thingy, then you’ll know the story; Lara finds a tomb, there’s an artefact in there that unleashes bad things, hilarity ensues. Where Temple’s strength as its own game lies is within the top-down shooter gameplay, positioned for the good ol’ “couch co-op” days of local multiplayer, teamwork to solve puzzles and only the occasional “accidental” dropping of your friend into a pit of spikes during said teamwork.

The mechanics for both soloists and multiplayers are streamlined and easy once you get the hang of them; everyone has a unique ability suited to combat and puzzle-solving, and convivial attitudes yield greater results. The challenge in the demo I played escalated nicely, advancing from strange skeleton warriors dispatched with one bullet to a bloody massive underground crocodile trying to eat us. That bit in particular was cause, at least on my end, for much yelling and frantic mashing of buttons.

What also helps Temple is that each character is not simply the same model with a different skin. All four playable heroes have separate power sets and tools they can utilise, with the gameplay tailoring itself to whichever characters are on hand for the puzzles. The lack of a rigid structure or surface cosmetic differences is welcome, and I’d wager one could play solo with all four in turn and come out with four similar but fundamentally different runs.

Jumping physics were a little finicky at times, deciding at the drop of a hat what was and was not a jump-on-able surface whenever it felt like it, and the special grapple attack Lara uses to abseil down rock faces to get at loot occasionally decided to turn itself off just to make things interesting. Neither got hugely in the way of the fun, though, which is great. I loved Temple of Osiris so much, I might even consider pawning a kidney to afford a console to play it on this Christmas.

Thanks once again to Bandai Namco and the Sydney studio for some truly excellent games. Until next time!

- Chris