Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge #5: Answers to Culture Qs!

The Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge

Our mortal enemy Extra Life did an interview type thing called Familiar Territory last weekend. We were then challenged with a set of questions.

Challenged! Such impertinence! You can only imagine our indignation.

No one challenges a Brit and comes out the other side without a right royal condescending and loquacious response!

Sunshine Blogger Tag #5

Like noble knights we’ve taken on this terrifying prospect and added an air of British pretentiousness to proceedings. Let’s do this!

Between music, film/television, and game critics, which do you find the least consistently reliable?

For us, music critics. We can’t stand 99% lot of modern chart music (back in my day etc.).

So seeing professional critics handing out a 5/5 for another generic Taylor Swift album makes our old bones boil! And when we listen to a few tracks it’s the usual pop ditties everyone will have forgotten in a year. 5/5 masterpiece.

Getting cantankerous there, we know. Heck this is what being 36 does to you. It’s like we’re not the target audience for that type of music, or something.

Elsewhere, with video games we do find many AAA titles are massively overhyped and overrated.

Gamers and journalists work up a title into the stratosphere and then it comes out, it turns out it’s just all right, and then these sorts focus impatiently on the next massive release.

Example? Assassin’s Creed Valhalla from late 2020, a stunningly beautiful game… that kind of just provides a decent enough gameplay experience.

Meanwhile 100+ fantastic indie games will have come out during that time, but they get nowhere near as much attention. For shame!

Between music, film/television, and game critics, which do you find the most consistently reliable?

Despite our whining above, we do enjoy critical feedback to media texts and seek it out.

Particularly on YouTube, where it’s just the entertainment factor of critics shredding something apart. Whether we agree with them or not, it’s fun hearing different opinions.

But, generally, we head out looking for a surface level overview of critical feedback of video games and films before deciding to buy/watch something.

This can be a minefield to judge, but there are certain sources we turn to who we’ve found consistently accurate over the years.

Destructoid springs to mind, whose review director Chris Carter is often spot on.

Example! When Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze came out in 2014, a lot of the gaming press was a bit middling on it. Just another platformer, apparently.

Carter rightly handed over 10/10 and saw it as a masterpiece. Yes!

What was your single worst theatre going experience?

We have a strategy in place to avoid negative cinema experiences. It involves waiting several months after a release to see a film, so fewer people are in the theatre.

This reduces the chance of someone doing something stupid and annoying. So, we’ve been lucky that there haven’t been terrible instances of anything.

Although we’re still a bit annoyed about when we got to see Jaws in 2013.

Some young kid spent the whole movie having a running commentary with his grandmother. We really should have told them to shut up.

What was your single best theatre going experience?

Finally getting to see Blade Runner in the cinema was a mighty experience. Up on that big screen it was glorious.

There was something very life-affirming about getting to see The Wind Rises, too. That was the first time we’d seen a Studio Ghibli film on the big screen.

Do you think a lousy ending can completely ruin an otherwise great work?

We usually don’t get too hung up about it. As writers, we know endings can be tricky and coming up with an outstanding ending is bloody difficult.

However, with a modicum of effort you can avoid something ridiculous.

Such as if it turns out they’re all robots. Or it was all a dream. Or in War of the Worlds (2005) when Tom Cruise’s son emerges back from the dead (miraculously) so Steven Spielberg can have a sentimental moment.

We think open endings can be an effective way to avoid a, “Oh crap bags, that’s rubbish!” type of thing.

Films like Memento (2000) and Withnail & I (1987) do this rather well.

It leaves you thinking about the film afterwards and you build a narrative of what may happen within their worlds.

Just a final nod to the absurdity of Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s ending from 1974.

We’ve always like this one as it’s one of the most abrupt ways a film has ever ended.

It also leaves you baffled about what the whole plot was about anyway.

It seems nothing was real and a bunch of delusional men have been staggering about the English countryside re-enacting King Arthur adventures.

Do you think an incredible payoff can redeem an otherwise middling (or even bad) work?

Not really. We think of The Mist (2007), the vast majority of the film is mediocre (and also stars half the cast from The Walking Dead).

Then from out of the blue there’s a rather memorable and gut-wrenching ending.

But if we wade through two hours of nonsense to get there, it affects little. Boo!

Do you feel the price increase of AAA games was justifiable or not?

AAA games have always been expensive, from what we recall. Turok Dinosaur Hunter was £70 when it came out in 1997.

We get there’s been a big focus on this recently because the new Resident Evil is expensive. And a bunch of other big blockbuster releases.

Well, we don’t play many AAA games. We mainly stick to indies, which are much cheaper.

But if we’re paying £70 for a massive AAA game we know it’s because the developer spent $100 million making the thing.

And then we play these massive behemoth games… and think indie games are better 90% of the time.

So, no, other than Nintendo’s typically fantastic exclusives we tend to avoid AAA games. But not due to the cost.

What work did you like as a kid only for you to realize it doesn’t hold up at all?

Being super young is a great age to watch films as you’ll brush over incredible flaws to enjoy the experience.

We saw Godzilla (1998) in the cinema and bloody loved it. Of course, it’s not exactly a great film.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) was another. Completely ludicrous, but we loved it. And still have a soft spot for its total stupidity even now.

What work did you not like as a kid only for you to later realize it’s amazingly good?

Our appreciation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest has only ever grown over the decades.

Are there any podcasts you listen to regularly?

Yeah, a fair few right now. We did a Queenpod review recently. It’s all about going through Queen’s songs one by one.

Plus, we’ve listened to the Church of Wittertainment film reviews for over a decade.

We’re long-term F1 fans as well, so listen to a bunch of those. The Race’s excellent podcasts, such as Bring Back the V10s.

And we’ve had a listen to some science type majiggers of late. Including The Joy of x.

Georg Rockall-Schmidt has also started podcasting again after a two year layoff. So, we’re getting back into that. He’s a witty and insightful critic and arbitrary philosopher.

Taking cues from AK’s last question, what is the most bizarre combination of ingredients you enjoy?

If we’re making beans on toast we use houmous on the toast instead of margarine. That’s a good combo. Although some people may find it weird.


    • Eek. Quite a lot in the mainstream, I’d say. With films, music, games, books. I think it’s more complex than just going, “Yeah, it’s all ballsed up now!”, but some stuff feels like it’s churned out to make vast amounts of cash with compromised creativity.

      But there’s still lots of good stuff coming out, usually in the independent scenes. Get the feeling the pressure is less full on there to make back $1 billion or whatnot. And less studio suits interfering. Innit.


      • Too much of today’s culture seems to be mass produced for purchasing and downloading as if the “fashion” is to be a consumer.

        We follow what is being produced rather than producers following what we inspire them to create.

        Yes, there are some gems and high production quality from what we are consuming.

        Life is becoming too commercialised and homogenised making it difficult for the unique and different to stand out. Maybe we all need to start following the independent scene, small venues in search of inspiration new talent.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think quite a lot of people dig around to find the real gems. But a lot of people don’t bother as that takes effort, so they go and see whatever marketing campaigns tell them. Which is a shame.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, exactly. I think indie studios have more creative freedom and less pressure/hoops to jump through. Whereas many AAA games are becoming increasingly stale and predictable. Not all of them, of course, but a lot are. It’s like these massive devs have a checklist of boring tropes they seem to determined to meet to ensure a commercial success.

      Liked by 1 person

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