Adam’s Top 5 Films of 2015

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. This time Adam will go through his favourite 5 films of the year.

I’m taking a quick break from the depths of writing my PhD thesis to write about some of the things I actually cared about this year. This time it’s my favourite films released in 2015. I mostly saw blockbuster films this year, some multiple times. I also have a joint top 2, which is essentially cheating but I really couldn’t pick between the two films.

5. Ant-Man

Antman

First up was the second film from Marvel this year, Ant-Man directed by Peyton Reed. Starring the eminently likable and eternally young Paul Rudd, along with Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll and Michael Peña, the film was long in development due to various behind the scenes director changes. One of the things I like about the MCU is the shifting tones and styles between the individual films that maintain a core ethos, largely being making a superhero where everyone takes everything at face value but not too seriously. Superheroes exist in the world, but so does a healthy dose of levity. For Ant-Man, the humour aspect is dialed up (probably because to the average movie-goer ‘Ant-Man’ is a bit of a weird one, but we’re in a post-GotG world now and people will watch whatever as long as it is good) to take full advantage of Rudd, but it’s Peña who steals the show with the funniest scenes and lines.

The film is structured as a heist movie, even down to the musical score, and does this very well, leading to a very fun flick. At it’s core the movie has a lot of heart. This mostly comes from Scott Lang’s relationship with his daughter. As an ex-con, he’s desperately trying to get straight so he can provide for her and be the man she sees him as. This drives him to become a hero, to help save the world and prove to everyone that he can be a good man. The rest of this heart comes from Hank Pym and his daughter Hope, estranged since his wife Janet went missing presumed dead on a mission as the original team of Ant-Man and The Wasp. Everyone plays their parts with genuine emotion, and with the sequel title announced as ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’, with Hope receiving the Wasp suit during a credit cookie, we’re finally seeing an expansion of the MCU with more heroes and importantly, more female heroes.

 

4. John Wick

John Wick

I think John Wick was technically released in 2014 in America, but we didn’t get it in cinemas over here in the UK until early this year. I’ve not really shown a lot of interest in any recent Keanu Reeves films, I think the last I probably picked up and watched was ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and that was nine years ago. Despite that, I’m a big fan of The Matrix and Bill & Ted, and to be honest I think he was great in Constantine even if the film barely resembles the Hellblazer comics. I heard about John Wick on the Assemble After Dark podcast, and I respect those guys’ opinions so I thought I’d check it out.

John Wick is a brilliantly choreographed, brutal revenge film. directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. A Russian crime lord’s bratty kid steals John Wick’s car and murders his dog (not a spoiler, it’s the first five minutes and the impetus for the rest of the film. It’s more of a warning to be emotionally prepared. The dog is very cute). His father’s response when he hears whose dog it was?

“Oh”

John Wick wasn’t just the Boogeyman, he was ‘the man you sent to kill the Boogeyman’. A highly trained assassin, he had left that life behind. Until now. What follows is John violently wading through all the bodies that mobster Michael Nyqvist sends at him in an attempt to save his son’s life. Operating out of the mysterious Continental hotel, John returns to a stylish underground criminal world that is hinted at but never suffers from too much exposition or explanation. It just is. And it’s populated by a great cast, including Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane. The action is the real star of this film though, with some magnificent sequences of hand to hand combat and gun play.

 

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road

The first of my joint top two is Fury Road. We’ve talked a lot about our love of this film here, and for good reason. Until the first trailer hit, the new George Miller directed action film wasn’t even on my radar. That’s really what a good trailer needs to do. I didn’t know anything more about the film other than the simple fact that I now had to go and see it. Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron as Max and Furiosa, Fury Road follows a group that eventually combines their efforts to escape the Immortem Joe and his War Boys, and deliver his ‘wives’ to the safety of ‘The Green Place’. It’s basically a road trip movie with explosions, as they drive their stolen war rig across the wasteland and fight off various attackers hell bent on retrieving their ‘breeders’.

Fury Road is a non-stop, high octane adrenaline ride that barely gives the viewer a moment to breathe. You’ll be exhausted after watching it, but you also won’t care. The fact that a large amount of the film is done through real effects, with real cars and explosions, makes it all the more impressive. There are so many amazing scenes, but to arbitrarily pick two the sequence where the war rig first goes up to and into the sand storm is stunning to look at, and and the music swells it makes for an excellent cataclysmic moment. The other is the first time Max and Furiosa start working together, after they go through the pass and are fighting off the raiders on bikes. It’s an incredibly kinetic scene that is brilliantly shot, as the camera swoops around the rig cabin with the pair offing raiders and reloading just in time to take out the next guy. The story itself is spartan, largely there from context clues and basic character interactions, which makes for a more rewarding and far less patronising cinematic experience that doesn’t hold your hand through poorly scripted exposition scenes. It’s a tight, simple plot with a lot of weight behind it if you want it and care, and if you don’t then you still get a great action film.

 

2. Avengers: Age of Ultron

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My other joint second favourite film this year is the second Avengers film, for totally different reasons to Fury Road. That film hit me from nowhere, and was a surprise thrill. We knew a great deal more about the Joss Whedon directed Age of Ultron, to the extent where I was trying to avoid more details about it as the film came closer to release. But despite all that, it was exactly what I wanted it to be – a great superhero film. The most comic booky comic book film we’ve seen so far. Seeing the team fully formed and working together was a lot of fun even from that first assault on Von Struker’s Hydra base as the film opened. As the Stark and Banner created AI Ultron starts to develop, the team starts to fracture which leads to a few contrived ally Vs ally fights like the Hulkbuster scene, but mostly we see great team up fights against hoards of nazis and robots. The times when this is most enjoyable tend to be any double team attack from Cap and Thor, but the moment when the shield is thrown to Black Widow so she can smash in a few robot skulls with it is great too.

Incidentally, while I think everyone inhabits their roles in the MCU brilliantly at this point, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is my stand out favourite in every one of these films now. He just plays is so straight an earnestly that even corny lines like when Tony asks what happens if they fail “then we’ll do that together too” are just totally believable. David Spader is also incredible in this, as the menacing yet crazy Ultron. He just voices the robot with such a gravitas and presence, that disarms when he jokes around a little (courtesy of one of his two fathers) yet chills when he starts to threaten and make good on those threats. As always with the MCU and Whedon, the humour is threaded throughout the film (some say a bit too much, I disagree), my favourite scene of which was unfortunately spoiled by the trailer – when everyone is trying to prove their worthiness by lifting Mjolnir, the way Thor’s face drops when Cap mananges to shift it just a touch is superb, and how he recovers when it doesn’t move again and no one seemed to notice. The action is great superhero fare, even if it is largely CGI in this particular film we’re at the point that it holds up.

There has been a lot of commentary about it online, ranging from how sexist it was that Black Widow ever wanted kids (the internet forcing Joss Whedon off of twitter is why we can’t have nice things) or how there isn’t a good representation of Marvel’s female characters in merchandise (which is fair and true. Not enough Gamora or Widow. I saw a toy of the motorbike and truck scene that replaced Natasha with War Machine on the bike, which is so stupid it’s almost like they are actively trying to piss people off) to the deus ex machina of the ending or the very comic-book style plan of raising an entire city. The thing is, it was a comic book film. Not only is raising a city like that the sort of thing a crazy Marvel villain would do, dei ex machina also don’t bother me if it means we actually get to see our heroes save people. That is the entire point of heroes. We want to look around at the end after they beat the bad guy and see that they at least succeeded in saving most of the people they were trying to (also it was less out of nowhere if you watched Agents of SHIELD). Also, while I agree with the toy complaint, the accusation that Whedon is sexist is absurd and I disagree that Widow is at any point reduced in the film. I thought she was great, and I think we may be reaching a point in our commentary culture where people are just looking for things to complain about, and then those complaints snowball through the medium of the internet.

 

1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I wrote this list before I went to go and see the new Star Wars film, hoping that there would be a place in the top 5 for it but not knowing where. Of course it could have been a trainwreck. I don’t think I ever really believed it would be. At worst I thought the J.J. Abrams directed film would be OK. Which may have actually been worse than if it had been Phantom Menace level terrible. After two showings, I’m certain it is my film of the year. The excitement of getting a new Star Wars film when just a couple of years ago we didn’t think we ever would again, along with the insane amount of hype that both the marketing and the public generated, meant that ultimately The Force Awakens could never live up to what was expected of it. Because it wasn’t the best film of all time. But it was a great film, and more importantly it was a great Star Wars film.

I don’t really want to go into much detail about The Force Awakens, not just because I don’t want to feed into the hype machine but also I think that anyone that hasn’t already seen it really needs to go and experience it for themselves in the cinema. From the first notes of the John Williams score and the opening crawl, I was hooked. The moments where I could feel my heart pounding in my chest were just as impactful on the second viewing as the first, the original trilogy cast were a joy to see again and more importantly I cared a great deal about the fates of the new characters by the end of the film. I left immensely satisfied and excited that for me at least, Star Wars is back. Even if Disney will be making new films long after my death so I’ll never know how it all ends.

Adam’s Top 5 Video Games of 2015

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. This time Adam will go through his favourite 5 video games of the year.

I’m taking a quick break from the depths of writing my PhD thesis to write about some of the things I actually cared about this year. This time it’s my favourite video games released in 2015. Of the various things my misguided attempt at a doctoral level qualification has taken from me, the spare time to actually play video games is probably the most felt. Also video games are expensive and I’m incredibly broke. As such, I’ve only actually played five games this yeah (at least that came out in 2015. I also played the incredible Transistor). So this was really just an exercise in picking which order they go in for me. All of these games were played on PS4.

5. Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks)

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The above is part of the reason why Bethesda’s latest installment of everybody’s favourite huge, sprawling post-apocalypse sandbox game is only number 5 on my list. After months of rumours and speculation, details of a new Fallout began to emerge and in November it was finally released. Now due to my heavy work load right now and general state of being very busy (and leaving my PS4 in London over Christmas), I haven’t finished the main story yet. I have however pumped a lot of time into the game, completing a lot of side missions and doing a large amount of world exploration.

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Let’s talk about that world, as a way of kicking off with the good about the game. The world is stunning, as long as you look at it from a distance. While the post-apocalypse trope of a colour palette heavy in browns and greys is definitely present, ‘The Commonwealth’ is densely packed with a lot of interesting scenery and locations to interact with. The storyline so far has been relatively engaging. I don’t really care about my missing son, but the shadowy Institute is intriguing and the return of certain organisations on unprecedented scales is an interesting inclusion. The world really lives through the side missions though, many of which are not only engaging but incredibly enjoyable too (my favourite so far is The Silver Shroud).  The combat mechanics are unchanged for the most part, so the V.A.T.S. system is back and still a lot of fun.

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Now for what I don’t like, and I’m just going to rattle through them. Feel free to discuss them in the comments! The UI is not great, and any changes have not improved things from Fallout 3 or New Vegas. The graphics, while not the be all and end all of a game, should really be better at this point especially for the character models. The dialogue system, previously a big part of Fallout, has been stripped back to make you feel like a passenger in what is largely otherwise a shooter, rather than a participant in an RPG. I have yet to see the point in settlements, and the user interface in building and interacting with a settlement is horrible, likely the reason why I have no desire to spend any more time doing it. While I do enjoy the crafting aspect for weapons and armour, having this and the base construction in the game means that almost every piece of junk in Fallout is worth keeping, and every location contains more crap than you and your companion can carry. As such, I’ve spent probably about 40% of my playtime hefting junk around and either selling or scraping it.

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But for me the biggest issue with Fallout 4 is the glitches and bugs. There has been a lot of comment online about this, which largely seems to boil down to this being something you expect and accept in a Bethesda game. I don’t really see it like that, and this is probably the first time I’ve really had a problem with it. With limited time and money to play games these days, having a full price game be released as a bit of a glitchy mess doesn’t hold water with me. Weapons disappearing, enemies floating, corpses janking around ruining the desolate quiet of a vault. This is why it bothers me. These games are about immersion, and every time I see my companion get stuck in a wall or I fall through the world it takes me completely out of it. Sure they’re working on fixes all the time, but I’m reaching the point where I want games to just be finished properly when they come out.

 

4. The Order 1886 (Ready at Dawn)

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Speaking of a game that was finished, The Order 1886 was the first game I played this year (I reviewed it over here). I liked it a lot. The gameplay was a bit heavy and reminiscent of a clunkier Gears of War, but it wasn’t bad. The story was interesting, succinct and well-paced and while it ultimately didn’t quite deliver on the promise of alternate steampunk Knights of the Round Table supernatural beast hunters, with the very few instances of actually fighting monsters either shockingly easy and repetitive or relegated to quick time events, while the rest of the game was spent shooting ‘rebels’ and other humans for reasons that were never made abundantly clear other than waving around the word ‘conspiracy’, it was a satisfying plot that I enjoyed.

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The game wasn’t particularly long, in fact many said it was far too short for a full price game. I clocked in around 7 hours for my playthrough, and I was fairly defensive about the length in my original review, while also decrying the debate as generally oversimplified. However, since I completed it I really haven’t felt any compulsion to revisit the game. I’m not really sure what that says about it or it’s value. Saying that, it remains the best looking game I’ve played so far on the latest console generation. Despite it being a largely drab and grey trudge through Victorian England, it was stunning to look at and I really enjoyed it.

 

3. Mad Max (Avalanche Studios)

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This one snuck up on me, as it would probably have totally passed me by if I hadn’t been swept up in the Fury Road fever this year. Instead, I actively made the decision to pick up this new Mad Max game over Metal Gear Solid V, due to it’s reasonably positive if not stellar reviews and the fact that I was fairly sure it would be an easier game to pick up and put back down for short gaming stints, making it better for taking breaks from working and avoiding getting so engrossed that I waste hours on it. Fortunately I turned out to be right about that, but more fortunate was how much I ended up loving this game for all of it’s simplicity.

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Set before Fury Road, with a somewhat tenuous link to characters in the film, you play as Max after having the Interceptor stolen and being left for dead. You ally yourself with a mechanic, and slowly modify a rusty frame to an armoured ‘Magnum Opus’ capable of driving across the Plains of Silence to freedom. The game is another big sandbox environment, as you drive around finding scrap for your car, fighting off raiding parties, taking down War Boy camps with your fists and limited shotgun ammo and helping your allies thrive, while trying to outrun sand storms and stop Lord Scrotus and his minions. In essence, you just drive around and blow stuff up. And it is incredibly fun. The game’s only real let down is that it is very repetitive. The map is studded with scavenging locations, and each of the 4 allies you meet along the game require the same things from you. A lot of it is extraneous, but useful for completing the game. That said, there are some very fun and unique missions, like driving through the Underdune – a network of tunnels that was once an airport, now home to the nocturnal Buzzards.

 

2. Bloodborne (FromSoftware)

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Second from top for me this year is the PS4 exclusive Bloodborne from ‘Souls’ creators FromSoftware. A grueling, Groundhog Day style trial-and-error endurance experience where you spend most of your time dying. A lot. But it’s the sort of game that makes you think tactically, commands your full attention, tests your ability and ultimately rewards you for it. As a hunter, you wade through scores of the crazed residents of the town of Yharnam, feral beasts and huge, hulking monsters. Each time you finally figure out how to beat a boss and ‘Prey Slaughtered’ pops up on your screen, you feel an immense satisfaction and a real feeling of earning it.

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The game itself is beautiful. Well, beautiful if you like heavily gothic surroundings and grotesque monsters. Halfway through the game you enter a sort of nightmare realm, while everything takes on a deeply Lovecraftian slant, including horrific beasts that cling to the huge buildings around you that you can’t attack… but get close enough and they can attack you. My flatmates described this as the game they’ve enjoyed watching me play the most, I expect in part because of the surroundings, but likely also due to my reaction to the difficulty level of the game – swearing my head off every time I felt like I was unjustly killed, even thought it was probably due to me not paying enough attention. It happened a lot.

 

1. Arkham Knight (Rocksteady Studios)

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My favourite game of the year is likely a little predictable for me. As a huge Batman fan, I’ve always been extremely impressed by the Arkham games (at least the Rocksteady ones) for not only capturing the ethos and feeling of a mixture of the best Batman comics and Batman: The Animated Series, but also managing to create gameplay that makes you really feel like you are being the Batman. Easy to control combat that looks brutal yet elegant, stealth that combines technology and fear to take down foes, and detective work to put together a case. This third installment from Rocksteady is their final Arkham game, though there isn’t a doubt in my mind that WB will be back with more.

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Scarecrow is working with the mysterious ‘Arkham Knight’ and his militia army, and using an overwhelming force and seemingly hundreds of drone tanks they bring Gotham to it’s knees. Batman must prevent them from poisoning the city with fear toxin, while figuring out the identity of the Knight and putting a stop to their plans. Along with a few new tricks, like the hugely satisfying fear takedown, Bats also finally has the Batmobile – less a car in this incarnation and more of the personal tank of the Christopher Nolan films, able to speed around at huge speeds before transforming into a combat mode complete with missiles, stun guns and a huge cannon – to be deployed against drone tanks only. While feeling hilariously overpowered, the Batmobile has been successfully deployed in much the same way as the hand-to-hand combat was for the first time in Arkham Asylum – it’s very easy to feel like a total badass with it. The one drawback? I get the feeling Rocksteady were very, very proud of their new toy. So much so that the Batmobile is shoehorned into missions and situations that feel totally unnatural, to the point that it is essentially overused.

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The main plot is an exercise in escalation, in an understandable trajectory from the first game until now. But it’s a very enjoyable superhero tale with some very well deployed twists, some less well deployed twists (I may have seen the identity of the Arkham Knight coming a mile off due to my familiarity with the comics, but it’s telegraphed very clumsily and out of nowhere a couple of hours before) and a huge climax. The side quests are even better than they were in Arkham City, once again drawing from the extensive rogues gallery (some of which were extensions of side plots set up in that game). For every one that fell a little flat, like the Hush sequence, there were excellent scenarios like ‘The Perfect Crime’.

The only issue I have with the extra content like this, which was the same as the previous games, is that while I can suspend my disbelief in general for superhero antics, it is physically and temporally impossible for all of this to occur in one night. Equally unbelievable is that with the city in such dire peril, you’d take some time out of saving it to capture Man-Bat or train Azrael. Maybe leave them to tomorrow Bruce? Or even just have the plot take place over a couple of days. Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight go to ground for a day or two, and while the Batcomputer checks up on some leads you start cleaning up some other problems in the city? Whatever. It’s really a tiny and slightly pointless complaint, really just brought about by overthinking things. Ultimately, this was a great game. Unless you tried to play it on PC.

 

Adam’s Top 5 Albums of 2015

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. This time Adam goes through his favourite 5 albums of the year.

I’m taking a quick break from the depths of writing my PhD thesis to write about some of the things I actually cared about this year. This time it’s my favourite albums released in 2015. I spend a lot of time listening to music while I work (more soundtracks this year than normal, I’ll get to that later) so it was fairly difficult to narrow this list down!

5. If I Should Go Before You – City and Colour

city and colour

I’ve been a Dallas Green fan for a long time now. I have an Alexisonfire tattoo, that band being one of my very favourites (despite the whole ‘we’re back but not really’ thing this year) and Green’s voice is a large part of that. I think his vocals are one of the most unique in modern music, and he’s certainly one of if not my actual favourite singers. Green’s solo project has in it’s own right always been a love of mine too, its gut-wrenching and sombre songs cutting right to the core of the howling abyss where my emotions should probably be. His sophomore album Bring Me Your Love is one of my desert island discs, which I was very kindly given this year on vinyl for Christmas.

This year he and his band released their fifth studio album If I Should Go Before You (marvelously depressing album title), and it’s pretty good! I’d say it’s their best since Little Hell. It opens with the slow burning (if a little self indulgent) ‘Woman’, and threads through a series of blues tinged country-folk songs about love and death, without a skippable track on the record. The tracks that hit me the most are the confusingly titled ‘Mizzy C’ which has mind-blowingly good bluesy vocal work in the last chorus, the incredibly depressing titular track ‘If I Should Go Before You’ and the stripped down and ethereal closer ‘Blood’. The latter to me is the strongest track on the album, as it harkens back to the first couple of City and Colour albums. The last two or three haven’t hit me as hard as his earlier records, which is why this latest one only makes it to fifth on my list.

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4. Shedding Skin – Ghostpoet

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I was first introduced to Ghostpoet a few years ago by a good friend of mine, whom I only share a slightly overlapping music taste with (the above being one of them) but he has an uncanny knack of recommending artists to be that I may not ordinarily come across but end up loving. I fell in love with ‘Survive This’, and when I saw Shedding Skin pop up on Spotify I gave it a listen straight away.

It’s a haunting, almost lackadaisical trip of an album that leans and sways and feels like it’s telling a story I haven’t quite figured out yet, relayed over late night drinks. Obaro Ejimiwe’s soft vocals laid over the thick, dense music makes for a really atmospheric experience. The track I enjoy the most is probably ‘The Pleasure in Pleather’, which just builds and builds while dripping with mood, but really the whole album is excellent.

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3. Mad Max: Fury Road Soundtrack – Junkie XL

Fury Road soundtrack

I mentioned that I’ve listened to a lot of soundtracks this year, largely because music with vocals is distracting when I’m trying to work. This album is actually not a good example of music I can listen to while working, I tend to get more done listening to MCU soundtracks like Age of Ultron or Ant-Man (or more recently the excellent John Williams score for The Force Awakens). So while I may have ended up listening to those albums the most, Junkie XL’s score for the incredible Mad Max: Fury Road is probably the best and most enjoyable of the year for me.

Part of the enjoyment is obviously that it evokes the film it scores, which I think for many is one of the best genre films of the year (more on that in a couple of days with my top 5 films. Spoiler: Fury Road is one of them). But on the flip side, a big part of what made the film so good was the excellent score. Junkie XL’s soundtrack is thumping, claustrophobic and brooding, setting the mood for relentless action. For me the stand out track is ‘Storm is Coming’, again probably because it lays in the background of one of the best scenes of the movie, but it’s just a storming (forgive me), hugely atmospheric piece of music.

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2. The Color Before the Sun – Coheed and Cambria

Coheed

 

Coheed are one of my favourite bands, certainly out of the ones who are actually still actively making music. Claudio Sanchez and company make hugely ambitious, progressive rock music that is inventive and fist-pumping in it’s intensity at the same time. For me, that’s enough. But on top of that, all of their albums up until now have formed part of a high-concept sci-fi story that I’m still trying to piece together. It helps that I finally understand the right order to follow in terms of the plot (not at all in order of release). This year’s The Color Before the Sun was the first album that Coheed have done that wasn’t part of this sprawling sci-fi concept work, eschewing it for a slightly poppier album lyrically dealing with various changes in Sanchez’s life.

The result of this shake up (which I enjoyed, but am glad that the moody and proggy sci-fi concept will return) is a more light-hearted affair that is admittedly more connected to reality and ultimately feels more personal. The album is more hopeful, despite lyrics like “nobody gives a fuck who you are” in ‘You’ve Got Spirit Kid’. The opener ‘Island’ is insanely uplifting, even if lyrically it sounds overwhelmed and panicked, and the closer ‘Peace to the Mountain’ is more pondering and accepting. ‘Atlas’ is definitely the strongest track on the album, a massively energetic and brutally honest song about Sanchez’s worries regarding missing his son when he’s away on tour. Great stuff.

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1. Grievances – Rolo Tomassi

Grievances

My favourite album of this year is also the heaviest by quite a long stretch. Rolo Tomassi are an insanely inventive mathcore band with jazz sensibilities. Fronted by Eva Spence and her brother James, the visceral vocals from the pair are combined with intricate timings and aggressive moody music. I usually manage to catch them on tour once or twice a year, and they are superb live.

This year’s Grievances is their most cohesive album to date, but that doesn’t make it any less experimental than their previous efforts. ‘Estranged’ opens up the album like someone grabbed you by the back of the head and just kept punching you for two and a half minutes, and others like ‘Stage Knives’ are face-melters too (and me and my buddy Chris instinctively air drum the immensely satisfying splash near the end of the song), while calm interludes or more reserved songs like ‘Opalescent’ serve as calms before the next storm. As good as the closing ‘All That Has Gone Before’ is (and Rolo Tomassi are excellent at huge atmospheric album closers), my favourite track on the album and favourite song of the year is the penultimate ‘Funereal’. It’s just a brilliant layered track with so many moving parts rammed into its five minutes that never feel crowded or like a different song entirely, building to a beautifully discordant climax.

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Nathan’s Top 5s of the Year

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. Here is Nathan’s Top 5 of everything he consumed this year.

So here it is my 5 top 5’s of the year. I have gone for Games, Apps, Songs, Films and TV Shows. I would’ve included comics but I haven’t read that many and I would’ve liked to have included albums too, but the app category will clarify why I haven’t. There will be a few honourable mentions too. I will note that some of the choices may not have been from this year, however they are films, songs or TV shows I have been introduced to this year. I have also split the games between apps and consoles as well.

 

App’s

5. Candy Crush – Soda Saga
I know a lot of you find this annoying because everyone plays it, but it is brilliantly addictive and keeps the mind going. Also has the added advantage of being offline which makes things useful when you’re in the middle of nowhere and want to play some games.

4. 9gag
If you haven’t been introduced to 9gag yet, I suggest you get on the website and you’ll never leave. The app version is a quick and handy way to see all the hilarious posts of the day. You will be forever entertained with 9gag.

3. Spotify
I have always shunned away from Spotify as I wasn’t a fan of paying monthly for music, however I got it for free with my phone contract and I have to say it is possibly the most used app on my phone. Mainly because I am driving everywhere but the new Discover feature is brilliant. Every week I get 30 tracks I may or may not have heard before. It actually turns out that all my top 5 songs are from Spotify Discover. I haven’t tried the Running feature yet though, because that involves running.

2. Monument Valley
The only paid app in this list, but my god is it worth it. This game (also available offline) is a puzzle based adventure game, where you have to traverse levels and move the environment around you in order to open up new paths and doors. It is absolutely brilliant and worth the price.

1.Fallout Shelter

fallout-shelter4
I think everyone played this game. I couldn’t put this game down for ages. My girlfriend had to pretty much give me her iPad so I could play it. What a way to keep you interested in Fallout 4 by giving you this little gem. Many of my friends have shown me their shelters and some of them are extremely impressive. Definitely my app of the year.

 

Songs
Honourable mention to August Turns Red – Wrecking Ball, love a hilarious metal cover of a pop song.

5. The Hunter – Slaves
Not my normal genre of music but there’s something very likeable about this song. It is Royal Blood meets Sex Pistols, with a bit of 90’s britpop thrown in. Truly brilliant if you’re angry and want something to sing a long to to get the anger out.

4. Rasputin – Turisas
I will say that I am a massive fan of a metal cover of a pop song. This is one of the many songs that appeared on my Spotify list this year. Turisas are a Finnish folk metal band (I never knew such a thing existed) and the cover of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ is brilliant. They’ve even thrown in an extra verse to be safe. Fantastic cover that everyone should listen to.

3. Drink – Alestorm
If you like Pirates and if you like drinking, this is the track for you. The song reminds me of a famous night out I had and every time it comes on I am reminded of that night. Guaranteed you will singing this loud and clearly when you have a few beers and rums down you and surrounded by good friends.

2. Sail – Devildriver
Another metal cover yes, but I feel that this song is the song that the original should’ve been. Sail originally by Awolnation is brilliant in itself, mixes a chilled out dance vibe with screaming lyrics. Devildriver took it and added guitars and heavier lyrics. You can’t hate the track, it is fantastic.

1.Cirice – Ghost


Now if you have heard of Ghost, you may be thinking good lord how can you listen to this. Ghost are a controversial band, with many songs about the devil and including satanic lyrics, however it seems like this is all an act (hopefully). Cirice is the song that first introduced me to Ghost and I have to say Meliora (the album) has managed to make its way into my desert island discs. I absolutely love this song and the album. Everyone should give it a listen, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

TV Shows
Honourable mention to Kill La Kill, very good series and I’m sure it would’ve made the top 5 if I’d finished it.

5. Peep Show
I know the show just finished but I love Peep Show, nothing makes laugh out loud so hard than Peep Show. Odd-couple meets Britain. Mark and Jeremy would not be friends in real life yet they have struck this hilarious friendship together and their thoughts throughout the series are absolutely brilliant. The series ended quite weakly but it still didn’t stop it making my top 5.

4. Attack on Titan
The only anime in this list, but what a fantastic anime. Storyline is epic and it tugs your heart strings throughout and what an ending, literally cannot wait until the next series comes out. I did feel that the story jumped around a little too much but still, what a watch.

3. Sherlock
What? This is show is old. Yes I know it is but I’ve just started watching it this year and I really wish I hadn’t waited. What a brilliant series. Still trying to figure out my favourite episode from the whole saga. The Hounds of the Baskervilles? Maybe the one with Moriarty and the bombs? It’s a tough choice.

2. Game of Thrones
I’ll admit that this season of Game of Thrones has been a bit slow to start off with but still it doesn’t matter as it finished so strong with an incredible ending. Cannot wait for next year’s season to start *************************** (edit – Nathan said a bunch of spoilers) *********** Plus we’ll get to see what Bran has been up to, lazy bastard made no effort last season.

1.Narcos

Narcos
A Netflix original, but wow what a series. It follows the dealings of Pablo Escobar, the infamous Colombian drug dealer and the DEA agents trying to capture him. It is all based on true events which makes it brilliant and terrifying all at the same time. I enjoyed this show so much that I didn’t want to binge watch it, I wanted to make it last. Honestly stop any TV show you are watching and put this on instead.

 

Films

5. Blackfish
A documentary? Really? Yes, this does make the top 5. I  went to SeaWorld when I was younger, as well as Discovery Cove and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. However since watching this film, I actually now feel ashamed that I went there. It is a very in-depth insight to the cruel world that the Killer Whales endure whilst performing and what can happen when things go wrong and let’s face it, they’re called Killer Whales for a reason. Also a film with such a huge message to cause a $15 million loss to such a large enterprise.

4. Big Hero 6
I adore this film. Pixar kind of meets anime in a way, but obviously the film isn’t as successful as Inside Out, but I believe it is better. It is a film about a boy and a robot that tries to help and heal people. It should be noted that the robot is shaped like a large marshmallow. A classic Pixar film, definitely worth a watch.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Of course this was in my top 5 and the only Marvel film to make the list. I’m sure Ant-Man would be in here but I haven’t seen it yet. It was nice to see the Avengers really struggle to being with and then completely overcome everything against all odds. Also I thought the introduction of Vision was a nice touch. Can’t wait for phase 3 to be in full swing, looking forward to the next Captain America film especially.

2. The Lego Movie
Yes I know this film was released last year, but I only saw it in January and I have been watching it all year. Everything about this film is awesome. Love the voice acting, Will Arnett as Batman is brilliant, as well as Morgan Freeman, but I have to say that Liam Neeson’s character was absolutely hilarious. A chair as a weapon of choice is brilliant.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road
This is it, the number 1 film of the year and I bet I’m not alone with this choice. Star Wars probably would’ve been number 1, but again haven’t seen it yet and I do plan to, but this film is absolutely brilliant. Not too dialogue heavy but filled with a huge amount of action, hilariously modded cars and a brilliant man who only plays the guitar on top of a huge lorry cab. I did think this film would be rubbish as it was a remake of sorts, however I was wrong, so very wrong.

 

Games
Honourable mention to The Witcher 3, game of the year, I imagine it is fantastic, just not my cup of tea

5. Sunset Overdrive
Probably not the best release this year, but I really enjoyed this game. It was colourful and fun throughout the entire thing. Also grinding on rails to travel is brilliant, and the weapons you had were hilarious. What a great game, but maybe not worth the full price when it first came out.

4. Evolve
One of my games on my top 5 to look forward to at the start of the year and I was 100% right. Running around trying to capture a truly terrifying beast or even better, be the beast and destroy all who try to stop you. It is tons of fun and really worth playing.

3. Dragon Age: Inquisition
I really enjoyed this game. Didn’t enjoy it at first as I was just stuck doing sidequests but then the storyline really opened up. The sidequests were fantastic too, I really did try my best to take down every dragon I could get my dirty hands on, just a shame my tactic is going in head first and hoping that I would deal enough damage to take it out quickly. I was right once, the rest I was dragonmeat.

2. Batmam: Arkham Knight
This was my number 1 game I was looking forward to this year, but only made number 2 on the list? Yes that’s right but don’t get me wrong, this is probably the best Batman game created, probably easily one of the best games ever created. The storyline is brilliant, keeps you going throughout the entire game but the sidequests were just as good. Chasing Firefly around the city, to uncovering a serial killer’s lair and taking him down. Also you have the Batmobile, or Bat Tank, enough said really.

1. Metal Gear Solid V:The Phantom Pain

MGSV
This was a shock to me, bought this on a whim because I enjoy Metal Gear Solid games. I’m still playing this game now, wanting to conquer all the sidequests, collect all the weapons and invade everyone’s base. Also there’s something gratifying taking down tanks with bazookas whilst listening to “The Final Countdown”. However it may be the last proper Metal Gear Solid ever made. Hideo Kojima is no longer working with Konami. He has said he will continue to create games elsewhere, but that may be a while yet. However, congratulations to Metal Gear Solid V:The Phantom Pain, you are my game of the year.

 

Nath

The Lost Lighthouse Does Halloween

Check out some of the various lighthouse keepers with their half or whole assed Halloween costumes

 

NathThis year Nathan hosted a party in his new (ish) flat, going as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Looks pretty good! He’s really nailed the look confused irritation Johnny Depp brought to the role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-2015-10-31-01.27.08.jpg.jpegAdam went as sort-of Mad Max from this year’s excellent Fury Road, heading along to a horror story anthology launch in a basement private club in East London. Because he is a pretentious parody of himself. This photo was taken later, full of whisky and hot wings.

 

 

 

 

GaryThis one is Gary as Rorschach from Watchmen, admittedly years ago and possibly not even at Halloween. But Gary doesn’t dress up very often, so whatever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kit

 

 

And while this is a photo is a couple of years old, it is a fantastic (and actually horror relevant) zombie Spider-Man from Kit, from the Marvel Zombies comics. Looks pretty disgusting!

 

 

 

 

 

What did you dress up as this year? Let us know!

 

 

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 46 – Nothing Can Possiblay Go Wrong

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This week we chat about Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige leaving the control of Marvel Entertainment, Ubisoft’s theme park plans and WB wanting more Batman in Batman Vs. Superman, while Gary struggles with his own awful handwriting, and Adam gets confused by Force Friday.

For this week’s main talking point we talked about this years crop of summer blockbuster films, going into our personal favourite flick and the listeners’ favourites too!

Gary took the reins in Gary in 60 Seconds, attempting to summarise Oblivion in less than a minute! Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it, but I’d guess it is largely just more of Tom Cruise running a lot.

*Also because we were trying out our new mixer this week and recording through Skype, Adam did not realise he needed to change the input mic on the program. So his side of the recording sounds awful to start off with, but clears up about 6 mins in after the first news story.*

[audio http://welcometorapture.podbean.com/mf/web/jzuhdq/WR46.mp3]
Download this episode (right click and save)

If you have any thoughts. questions or opinions anything this week you can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.

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Enjoy!

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 40 – An Oddly Specific Request

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This week we chat about the Fallout 4 reveal trailer, Konami going ‘mobile first’, Rise of the Tomb Raider and a Jack-Bauer-lite 24, while Gary talks about his apocalypse boner, and Adam makes a clumsy attempt to talk about feminism and sounds like an idiot in the process.

The main talking point this week was Mad Max: Fury Road, with minor spoilers included. We talk about how much we enjoyed it, the development hell leading up to it and the refreshing gender balance brought to the film (and the morons that complained about it being ‘feminist propaganda’). If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check it out!

Also this – http://feministmadmax.tumblr.com/


Download this episode (right click and save)

If you have any thoughts. questions or opinions on anything this week you can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.

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