So the second part of the Solo DLC landed during the week for Star Wars Battlefront II. It was a lacklustre affair with a few over-priced new skins for Lando, Chewie and Han Solo, a spaceship in the form of Lando’s Millennium Falcon with it’s distinctive closed from end, and last but not least, and I guess the most interesting, the return of the Extraction play mode with a new map – the Coaxium mines of Kessel. Shame that Extraction can only be played on the new map and the familiar Jabba’s Palace Map.

I have had a good bash on Extraction and enjoyed it a lot. I’ve managed to get my Assault soldier up to the top level (70) to join my Officer and Heavy (let’s not talk about my Specialist) with surreptitious use of the acid gas gun and the scanner dart which helps get lots of extra points for assists. I’m still crap at using the gun you get with the vanguard ability but it’s a great help to get you to hot spots within the mine tunnels and palace corridors quickly. I’m almost at level 50 over all and I hope they do what they did with the original Battlefront game and up the max level at some point. I also hope the rumours of a huge Geonosis map and new heroes and villains from the Clone Wars

In terms of film fun The Greasy Strangler on Film4 was as far from fun as a wet day in Wales. It was supposed to be a comedy horror, but it was not funny and not particularly horrible. The acting was abysmal and the soundtrack frankly annoying. I kept watching it to the end in the vain hope that it would get better. It didn’t. Avoid avoid avoid. I enjoyed reading the synopsis more than I did any part of the film.

On the flip side The Pledge on Netflix directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson as a retired detective trying to find a serial child killer was a pretty good film. I’ve had it on my watch list for a long time, but decided to watch it after hearing Bob Mortimer on the Athletico Mince podcast say that he had enjoyed it. However, be warned, it’s pretty graphic in places and if you’re looking for a feel-good movie then this won’t be for you.

The third and by far the best film in this post was Black Panther which is now out to buy or rent and I stupidly missed seeing at the cinema. It had a couple of good villains played by Andy Serkis and Michael B. Jordan (who played the boxer in Creed) who was very dislikable. It was interesting that pretty much the only white guy in the film (if you ignore the obligatory Stan Lee cameo) was Martin Freeman reprising his role as a CIA agent and there were plenty of strong female characters. The effort made to create a distinctive African look for all the costumes and sets was impressive and the story was reasonably nuanced for a Marvel film. There was rather a lot of obvious computer graphics, but I guess that’s unavoidable given the genre.

World Cup 2018 started with the home nation Russia confidently beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 and made me wonder how some of these nations have managed to qualify when my beloved Wales, who did so well in Euro 2016, didn’t. But it wasn’t until Portugal played Spain that the tournament really got started and I got football fever again. It was a cracking game ending 3-3 with a Ronaldo hat-trick – the third goal one of the best free kicks I’ve seen in a long time. The most notable match today so far ended France 2-1 Australia with one dubious penalty decision (despite the new video replay system) for France, an obvious penalty for Australia and then an undeserved winning goal for the French. To my mind France looked tired and unimaginative whereas the Socceroos were full of vim and vigour.

When I’ve not been sitting on my arse staring at the idiot box I’ve been reading Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Mieville. He’s definitely got a distinctive and macabre imagination and a peculiar way of looking at the world but I found a lot of the stories in this compilation ended without a satisfactory conclusion. So while I found the novel ideas in each of the stories very entertaining while I was in the process of reading each one, once I’d finished them they didn’t stay with me very long. Given the open-ended nature of most of them I should be saying the stories were thought-provoking, but I was just a little disappointed given how much I enjoy reading his full-length fiction.

Photo by Pascal Swier on Unsplash