Haunted Mansion (2023)

I’m not going to try and keep spoilers out of this, so be warned.
I haven’t seen the Eddie Murphy Haunted Mansion film but I have seen the Muppets Haunted Mansion.
Overall I wasn’t a fan of this film. It had a lot of ideas that didn’t feel fully developed or connected. For example, the ghost camera was a great idea. The way it was used though was awkward. Ben builds a ghost camera to connect his interests with his wife’s, but by the start of the film proper doesn’t believe in ghosts. If the camera worked, he’d still believe… and if he didn’t ever believe, he couldn’t build the camera… and if he believed but the camera never showed ghosts wouldn’t he just assume that the camera doesn’t work? They bring the camera to the mansion to identify ghosts. The first identification that they make is through the history given to them by the Professor, with pictures that match pictures in the house – no camera required. The next is through speaking to Jamie Lee Curtis’ character – at which point the camera is broken, and after which the ghosts become visible to the naked eye.
Bits are brought up and dropped everywhere – the house appeared fully built in unworked land with no records, this mystery is never resolved and doesn’t seem to matter to the plot at all. The haunting was related to the activities there and the particularly evil ghost.
The ghosts are trapped in the house by an evil spirit aiming to do bad things but they can leave with other people. Why haunt and torment those people urging them to return, when the ghosts could just stay quiet outside of the bad house with the bad ghost that scares them all?
There were funny moments and it feels like Owen Wilson is really really trying but there’s just not much there to make it work. Bit of a flop for me.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I’ve never been a massive Star Wars fan – it’s worth getting that out of the way up front. I’ve been recommended a lot of the recent non-core Star Wars content though, like The Mandalorian, Ahsoka and Rogue One, and I’m always happy to try out a friend’s suggestions.
I’m going to try not to spoil bits but make no promises.
It was an enjoyable enough film. It was put together out of familiar parts and didn’t feel like it needed a lot of Star Wars knowledge to enjoy. That cuts both ways though – the character types were familiar from other films, even the dialogue. “I’m going with you” is always followed with “no, it’s too dangerous” and you know without a shadow of a doubt that that character (and probably any others left behind, bar one) are going too. The characters with guilt in their past are going to die by the end, probably after a noble and heroic act (hello, Cassian Andor). There was even what looked like a leftover bit of a romance plot that must have been attached to one of those stock elements that made a confusing half-scene with meaningful looks and music cues without any build-up, foreshadowing or even payoff. About the only novel part of the film was the new arrival, recent convert character didn’t survive to carry the torch forward for the old hands dying in the name of the cause. The robot was a nice touch, although it’s a Star Wars staple of comic relief droid.
The CGI Peter Cushing was most likely my least favourite part as it firmly hit the ‘uncanny valley’ and broke my suspension of disbelief more than the CGI aliens. There was no need to perform digital necromancy in this way – to an existing Star Wars fan, the position could have been played by a look-alike or by a subordinate character name-dropping them. To a non-Star Wars fan, it’s obvious that some digital trickery is being used but without the recognition of why a human wasn’t playing the part instead. Using a subordinate could even build up the Cushing character’s menace, by gradually ramping up the engagement and threat – first sent for a report, questioning reports, threatening the superior taking action and ending with “the boss man is coming to take this project from you”. The rest of the plot need not change much.
Speaking of plot, I feel that was used in place of story. I’ll try to explain. Character arcs were pretty shallow and weren’t really developed in a way that felt natural. Growth happened in the character’s heads or off-screen and their attitudes seemed to change artificially. Jyn accepting the rebellion and other characters accepting her just seems to be something that happens because the plot would stall otherwise. Likewise, the interesting subplot of an extremist rebel group falters before the characters are killed off as the leader decides to just give up. As if he didn’t have anything to escape the planet with, or try to run from the destruction. There was a plot – the things that happened in order – but the story – what the film is telling us underneath – was missing. That’s not uncommon, especially in action-adventure films, but it stood out particularly to me here. Avatar has an environmental protection / anti-colonialism story driving the plot, Wrath of Khan is about aging, regrets and the past catching up with you, but I couldn’t work out Rogue One.
Overall a fun family film without too much depth, easy popcorn flick.

Painting August 2022


After a very slow spring/summer, I started to push myself to get back to painting regularly. For one thing, I’d like to get our Age of Sigmar models completed to take to the local club!

So I’ve been plugging away at the gold bits of Fyreslayers. I’m in my old pattern of batch painting All The Things All At Once, so it’s getting repetitive as I’ve got 21ish Dwarfs to paint at the same time… and to be fair, Fyreslayers look cool but at the end of the day every unit is kind of the same.

Painting Q3 Retrospective

The end of the last quarter trailed off a bit – I got behind and couldn’t make it back up. It was only a near miss though so I think the target is just about in the right place.

No updates for a while because I gave myself October off of painting. Since the beginning of the year I’ve managed an average of 20+ minutes painting a day, so I definitely think I earned the break! It was originally going to be shorter but then the whole family came down with Covid.

For most of September I was working on these water merchants:

There are small details left to finish – a few highlights here and there, water sloshing in the bottles on the big guy, and the bases. As well as some mechanical arms to add to the central figure which were easier to paint separately.

As November starts I’ll be sticking to the 30 minute daily average target, got some new techniques to try (contrast paints being one of them), and will also try to improve my photography a bit.

Painting Update #6


I finally got the large deficit off the edge of the graph! Still bouncing up and down a little, but got it under control.

I’ve nearly finished the slopper now, just some eyes and small highlights to do.


The pot has been darkened and the slop painted, but the tentacle needs more highlight and probably a bit more shade on the pot itself.


Klingons are looking good, need more work on the armour though.


I’ve also started on the Mercator Nautica for Necromunda, but I need to pick up some more paints first. They’re tied in with a pre-order of the Delaque book so I have to stay patient. I might move onto the Koris Dreadball team while I am waiting instead.

Painting Update #5


In good news, the big deficit is falling off of the chart and shortening the Y axis

On the other hand, the weather is rotten for painting; I’ve only been able to get short sessions in (not just complaining about the heat!). This is good for testing colour schemes though; I’ve been experimenting with skin tones for Klingons:


and working on smaller models like this ratling slopper, and his cooking pot.


The pots a bit too shiny, I’ll need to muddy it up a bit.

2021 Q2 Painting Retrospective


It’s been tough hitting the target for this quarter. Part of that was down to illness where I couldn’t get anything done, and following that I found it hard to get back into the routine of painting every day. My deficit climbed very high, and I only just got it down to zero again in the last couple of days!

As predicted, my painting streak never got above seven days in a row. My aims for this quarter were:

  • Paint for an average of 30 minutes per day
  • Plan painting better
  • Try new techniques
  • Paint centrepieces

How did I do? Well, I managed to hit the time target – barely.

I started to plan ‘in my head’, but I was still mostly making things up as I went along. I will be making a concerted effort to do this better in the next models I start.

I tried a couple of new techniques. Firstly, I tried using my airbrush for colours and highlights more. This was mixed – I think it will work best for the centrepiece models. I tried zenithal highlighting again; I don’t think this technique is for me, but I may come back to it later. I also tried painting some 3D printed models for a friend (www.immersivemadness.co.uk) – none of my favourite techniques worked on the FDM print because of the texture of the model so I had to experiment a bit more. That’s something I’ll probably get more chances to work on in the future. The thing I’m happiest with is blending, that’s getting much easier and I’m getting some nice finishes with it.

For centrepieces, I worked on the Big Boss models for the Hellboy board game – which are nearly complete – and I’m making sure to add another large model to my queue for next quarter.

Overall this quarter, I finished 36 models and only bought 8 new ones. Slowly working my way through the Pile of Shame and keep those numbers going in the right direction.

Next Quarters Goals

Keep painting for 30 minutes a day. It was more challenging than expected, but achievable, so I will keep up that target.

Plan better, and write it down. I know it will help me when I get stuck later.

Keep trying new techniques. There are more things I haven’t tried, and I can drop these into my planning.


Painting Update #4


I’m starting to bring the deficit down, but I need to average 41 minutes a day over the next two weeks to hit my target. It might come down to the wire this quarter…

In better news, I finished the minis and busts for the heroes in the game:



The minis stand about as high as their busts. And no matter what I did I couldn’t straighten out that harpoon at the back…

I also finished the smallest enemy figures – frog swarms.


Not a lot of detail needed on those, fortunately. But I might go back and paint some stripes on their backs if I want to spoil a good day!