Monday, 15 January 2018

Hunted Season 3 Episode 2 Review

8 fugitives left and 18 days left on the run.  Can any of them make the distance?

Episode 1 of Hunted finished with the Hunters converging on Robert and Alex Ayling.  They have a drone with a thermal imaging sensor which identifies two heat signals.

And this is where episode 2 picks up.  We find that the thermal imaging sensor has actually picked up the heat signal of two deer.  This flip-up was enough to allow Robert and Alex to hitch a lift into Staffordshire.

This episode primarily focusses on Jamie Clark and Sandra and Mella, but let's quickly go over the last three fugitives.

Friends Joe and Dan, whom we've seen very little off, have escaped into the Peak District, while deputy Sheffield Mayor Majid has fled into Arndale.

But onto Jamie Clark.  As well as being a former police officer, he is a family man with a heavily pregnant wife and young son at home.  The Hunters realise this could be his Achilles' heel and dispatch a team to interview Jamie's wife, Lesley.

While she refuses to cooperate, the Hunters determine her due date is imminent and Jamie will not risk missing the birth of his child.  Later, when the house is empty, the Hunters break in and search it.

They find Jamie's notebook and notice there are pages that have been torn out.  It's explained that when you write on a notebook, you leave faint impressions on the pages that are underneath.  These pages can then be treated with an electrical charge and black toner to reveal these impressions.

This is what the Hunters do with Jamie.  They discover Lesley's due date and determine what hospital she will be attending.

Meanwhile, we learn that Jamie is still within the North-West, staying in the field of Good Samaritan, Dougie.  However, it is obvious that he sorely misses his family and isn't prepared to miss the birth of his child, so he takes the massive risk of going to see them.  Dougie has one of his delivery men agree to drive Jamie back home to Dorset, but firstly, Jamie sets a trap.

To make the Hunters think he's still in Manchester, he uses an ATM, making sure the Hunters see him on CCTV.  They quickly spot him and dispatch a ground team, but Jamie has already left for the South West.

The last we see of him he has made it to the town of Tiverton and is figuring out his next steps.

From here, we move onto old university friends Sandra and Mella.  Just like with Jamie, the Hunters quickly zone in on Sandra's family, interviewing her mother.  She remains unhelpful and the Hunters search her home finding a letter addressed to a mysterious Robert Amule.

Previously unknown to the Hunters, they decide to focus on him.  Meanwhile, it is revealed that Sandra and Mella and the other fugitives have been on the run for 8 days.  Sandra and Mella are obvious city girls, ill-prepared for rough nights in the countryside.  From Rochdale, Manchester, we see the girls have hitch-hiked their way to Edinburgh with the intention of staying with Sandra's Uncle Emmett within a block of flats.

The only problem with this plan? The blocks of flats are covered with CCTV cameras.  Luckily, the girls have an ingenious solution for this.  They cover themselves with bin bags and head for Uncle Emmett's flat.  Amazingly, this worked.  Seriously, I don't know how the Hunters missed two people walking around in bin bags.  But anyway, Sandra and Mella make it inside only for Uncle Emmett to tell them that the Hunters have grilled Sandra's mother, Grace.

Shaken by this news, they decide to leave Edinburgh, but, firstly, they call Grace on a burner phone, so Robert Amule can bring them supplies and money.

Meanwhile, the Hunters have tracked down Robert Amule, who is revealed to be Sandra's brother.  Robert doesn't hold up well under the investigation, and the Hunters quickly discover the truth about Sandra's burner phone.  Shortly after this, Grace calls Sandra and tells her that Robert has been compromised.  The two girls decide to forget their original plan and instead hitchhike to Kent.

However, the Hunters have traced their call to Edinburgh.  While they don't have any ground teams in Scotland, they dispatch a ghost operative.  A ghost operative is an anonymous agent who can perform surveillance, but can't perform any captures.

Why the Hunters haven't used these ghost operatives before is beyond me, as is why they aren't using any more of them.  But, anyway, the Hunters quickly determine that Sandra and Mella will be hitchhiking and decide to have the ghost operative pretend to pick them up and drive them to safety, when in reality he will drive them straight into the hands of the Hunters.

The episode ends with Sandra and Mella supposedly getting into the Ghost's car, but we'll have to wait until next week to see if the two have been truly hunted.  Considering it's been eight days and only one fugitive has been caught, the Hunters will be looking very foolish, if they don't catch anyone else soon.  And remember, don't comment your plans for going on the run.  You never know who's watching.

Top tips for going on the run

1.  DON'T PHONE HOME.  Why am I always saying this? Even burners can still be traced.

2. Don't use bin bags as a disguise.  How Sandra and Mella got away with this is beyond me.

3. Pick your time for going on the run i.e not when your wife is pregnant.  How do you expect to fight against this temptation?

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Hunt Review

Number 124 on the top 1000 films of all time is the Danish psychological thriller, the Hunt.

Set during Christmas in a small Danish town, the Hunt focusses on, Lucas, (Mads Mikkelsen)a kindergarten teacher who is down his luck.  He is separated from his wife who holds custody over his son.  Just as it looks like his luck is improving, one of his students, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) falsely accuses him of sexually abusing her, after he spurns her affections for him.  Klara is also the daughter of Lucas' best friend, Theo.  Lucas' life spirals out of control, as the lie takes hold within his close-knit community.

What makes the Hunt so good is how it tackles the idea of the modern-day witch hunt.  Rather than shying away from the issue, it portrays it in raw and unflinching detail.  The Hunt was released in 2012 in the wake of Operation and Yewtree and reports of paedophilia within the Catholic Church.  However, it is just as relevant now, as it was then.

Think of the sexual abuse scandal in Hollywood and how some celebrities were more quickly condemned than others.  Harvey Weinstein was torn apart instantly, but people were more hesitant when it came to Kevin Spacey.  Online, I found plenty of people who were ready to defend him.  It's interesting who we choose to condemn and who we don't.

And this context is what makes the Hunt such a powerful film.  Even after, the police determine Lucas' innocence, he continues to be ostracised by his community.  This culminates with his house being bricked, his dog being killed and him being beaten up and ejected from his local supermarket.

As we're aware of his innocence, this was painful to watch.  Lucas is a sympathetic character, as we know he is a good man who would never do what he has been accused of, yet it is a little girl's word against his.  While our justice system claims to be innocent until guilty, this is almost never the case, as people's emotions cloud their judgement.  This is only worsened by how it is a little girl accusing her male teacher.

If we're going to discuss gender inequality in the workplace, then let's consider how teaching, especially of younger children, is dominated by women.  This is because people just aren't comfortable with men being around young girls, while forgetting that women can and do abuse boys.  These women often go unpunished and if they are, they receive a fraction of the punishment that men do.  For some men, their lives can be destroyed over baseless accusations, and some do take their own lives.

While this doesn't happen to Lucas, his experiences are still troubling to watch, as it is scarily believable.  Mads Mikklesen was great, as the tortured Lucas.  I felt very sorry for him, as he struggled between the truth and the lies.

If the film falls down anywhere, it would be the ending.  After Klara realises the consequences of her actions, she protests Lucas' innocence, but nobody believes her.  This is until the ending, where Theo realises the truth and brings Lucas, Christmas dinner, as a way of making amends.

The film then jumps forward by a year, where we see that Lucas has been accepted back into the community, which I thought was unrealistic.  As previously mentioned, some men's lives are irreparably damaged from unfounded accusations, and so a year seemed too quick for Lucas to be forgiven.  That is until he and his son, Marcus, go on a hunting trip in the woods.  A stranger fires at Lucas and we only catch a glimpse of him, as the film ends.  Whether this stranger was real or imaginative, is unclear, but it's obvious that not everybody has forgiven Lucas.

I think the film should have ended either with Theo and Lucas making amends or with the hunting scene, as that would have created more ambiguity.  Having Lucas being forgiven felt like too clean of an ending for situations which end anything but.

But this is a minor criticism for what was an enthralling film.  Mikklesen is great as Lucas and the Hunt engages important issues in a sensitive, but poignant manner.  It's a definite, must-watch. 

Unforgiven Review

Number 123 on the top 1000 films of all time is Clint Eastwood's swan song to the Western genre: Unforgiven.

Directed, produced and starring Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven tells the story of William Munny (Eastwood), once the most fearsome outlaw in the Wild West, now an ageing pig farmer.  He's brought out of retirement by young upstart "The Schofield Kid" (Jaimz Woolvett) who wants to partner with Mummy, so that they can kill two cowboys who slashed a prostitute's face, within the town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming.  Munny agrees, and he, the Schofield Kid, and Munny's old partner, Ned Logan, (Morgan Freeman) go to exact vengeance.

When making this film, Eastwood wanted to honour the likes of legendary directors, such as John Ford and Sergio Leone, who of course, launched Eastwood's career, within the Dollar's trilogy.  The first way Eastwood succeeded in his mission was through his superb cinematography.

There were many camera shots that reminded me of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  There were sweeping master shots of he desert landscape, but also plenty of tight close-ups, especially within the initial sequence, where the poor prostitute has her face cut up.  And there was also a great shot of Munny and Logan, silhouetted, as they rode past a gorgeous sunset.

Eastwood also captured the tension that was present within the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Some of the best scenes including the film's concluding and opening scenes, were shot with low lighting and tight camera angles.  This kept the tension high by keeping the audience guessing.

To keep comparing Unforgiven to Leone's work might imply that it isn't a good film in its own right, which would be a terrible disservices.  Eastwood is great in the lead role, as well as within the director's seat.  Beginning as a reluctant antihero, struggling to escape the demons of his past, his gradual transition back into his old ways was compelling to watch.  And it is a transition and not a devolution, as Unforgiven does explore themes of morality and vigilante justice.  Is Munny a hero because he kills men worse than him or is he an antihero because he is a killer?

His tipping point is when *SPOILERS* Ned Logan is captured by the corrupt sheriff of Big Whiskey, and kills him, as a warning to any other would-be assassins.  This is enough to push Munny completely over the edge and to massacre a good portion of the town's police force.  To see him become so ruthless after so much indecision was great to watch.  Although a small criticism would be how they didn't show Logan's death on-screen.  I think it would have been much more powerful, if we had seen how Denny had died.

Unforgiven earnt Eastwood the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars which were well-deserved.  This was a great homage to the Western genre, one Sergio Leone would have been proud to watch.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Hunted Season 3 Episode 1 Review

Hunted, the English TV show where 9 ordinary men and women go on the run from the government for 25 days, has returned to our TV screens for a third season.

I reviewed the first and second seasons, so it's only natural that I review the third season too.  But before I begin my review, let's explore the concept a little more.

As mentioned before, nine ordinary men and women from all ways of life- marketing executives, electricians, grandmas and deputy mayors, become fugitives from the British government for 25 days.  They are allowed to use any means as possible, as long as it's legal and they don't leave the British mainland.  If they escape detection for 25 days, then they will win a share of £100,000.

However, hunting them down is a crack team of government hunters headed up by former Scotland Yard Detective and perhaps the most Cockney person ever: Chief Peter Becksley.  Rounding out his vast team are Julie Clegg - an intelligence specialist, Donna Young - a behavioural Psychologist and Ben Owens a former military sniper, as well as a whole host of former police officers, hackers, techies and analysts. 

They have all of the powers of the state at their disposal from mobile tracking to ANPR to drones with thermal imaging cameras.  In the first series, 4 fugitives escaped detection and in the second series, this halved to two.  Will any fugitives make the distance in this series?

While the series cuts to all of the different fugitives teams, they also focus specifically on two to three teams per episode.  I'll be taking a similar approach, but before I begin delving into the three teams that this episode focusses on, let's quickly look at the 9 different fugitives.

Team 1: James Clark, 37, - a former firearms police officer with counter surveillance experience.

Team 2: Magid Mah, 27, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Somalian refugee

Team 3: Sandra Canron 30, Marketing Executive and Mella Mwama, 28, full-time mother

Team 4: Robert Ayling, 60, electrician and his son Alex Ayling, 26, postman

Team 5: Joseph Appleton, 29, and Daniel Murphy, 33,

Team 6: Carlene Crowe, 67, retired college tutor

  The nine fugitives are driven in a van to St Peter's Square in Manchester, where they all bail out and immediately go on the run, with no chance to plan their escape.  This episode focusses on Magid, the Aylings and Carlene Crowe and we see little of the other teams. 

We see James Clark being pursued by the Hunters' helicopter through Manchester city centre and struggling to remain calm.  He gets in a taxi to Salford, where he is last seen.  From there, we jump to Joseph Appleton and Daniel Murphy who get a taxi away from Manchester city centre.  Sandra and Mella go for a similar tactic, getting a taxi to Preston, with the intentions of roughing it.

Where all of the fugitives are in non-distinctive black clothing, Magid is in a noticeable blue coat.  This meant that he stood out like a sore thumb and he immediately gained the attention of the Hunters.  Magid ducks into a Subway and some of the Hunters wonder whether he has already screwed up, but the wilier ones think he is setting a trap.  And that's exactly what he's doing.  He takes off his blue coat and gives it to a stranger who reluctantly agrees to wear it and then leave the store, as a decoy.  While this is happening, Magid asks whether he could leave out of the back exit, which he isn't allowed to do.

Meanwhile, the decoy leaves the store and the Hunters takes a few seconds to realise that it isn't Magid.  The decoy has a different build, but, more importantly, he isn't the same rushed, panicked person, which ran into the Subway store.  However, these few seconds they spent concluding this was enough time for Magid to give the Hunters the slip.  We last see Majid trekking through the forests.

From here, we go onto Carlene Crowe, a 67 year old retired college tutor and grandmother.  She's competing in Hunted, so she can have one last adventure, but also to prove that age shouldn't be any barrier, and I applaud this goal.  I think, as society, we do tend to write off the over-60's as weak and feeble, which is far from the truth. 

She begins her escape in a very different way to the other fugitives.  While the rest of them are scrambling to safety, she calmly walks out of the van, which is a smart way of doing things.  Obviously, running brings a lot of attention to yourself and, by walking, Carlene was able to blend into the crowd more effectively.  But she also chose to walk, as she was too dignified to run. 

She then makes her way to Manchester coach station, where she intends to get a coach to Milton Keynes.  With CCTV at their disposal, the Hunters quickly spot her and identify the coach she is travelling on.  But Carlene continues to play it smart by putting on a disguise.  She dons a silver wig and puts her big rucksack into a carrier bag.  Continuing to play it cool, she boards the coach.  Although the Hunters have CCTV in the coach station, they're unable to get a positive ID on Carlene.  Amusingly, just by coincidence, there is a passenger wearing a massive sombrero, but the Hunters quickly rule this person out.

Unsure of whether Carlene is on the coach or not, the Hunters decide to risk it and send a ground team to intercept her coach in Milton Keynes.  And this is where after beginning well, Carlene begins to make mistakes.  She starts talking to another coach passenger, telling him her name and giving him her mobile number.  Mistake number 1: never trust anybody on the run.  She then begins to worry that the Hunters might be waiting for her at Milton Keynes and asks the coach driver whether they could bypass Milton Keynes and instead go straight onto London.  As the driver doesn't have any pickups or dropoffs, he agrees and they continue to London.

This was another clever tactic, which helped to throw the Hunters off the trail, although they quickly recover and continue pursuing the coach to London, with the intention to intercept it at Marble Arch.  Carlene's coach stops at Marble Arch and she departs it without any real strategy, while also continuing to wear her disguise.  She dithers a little, before deciding to get a taxi.  While she is nonchalantly walking off, the Hunters spot her and quickly catch her.

This was a sad end to what was an early favourite for me.  Carlene reminded me a lot off Nick Cummings, winner of the second series.  Nick was your stereotypical, bumbling Englishman who started as the joke contestant, but finished as anything but.  Just like Carlene, he was endearing and had a warmth that made him completely likeable.

However, unlike Nick, Carlene was perhaps too nonchalant throughout.  She made a mistake by boarding a coach, which the Hunters could easily intercept.  And while the disguise was a clever move, she should have taken it off, after she left the coach.  The Hunters knew to look out for it.  Finally, she should have had a plan when leaving the coach.  The few seconds she spent dithering was enough for the Hunters to catch her.

Anyway, onto the final team of fugitives: Robert and Alex Ayling.  This father and son team are also early favourites for me, because of their evidently strong relationship.  As a child, Alex was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and as such has low-self confidence.  When looking at his Facebook page, Hunter, Donna Young, a psychologist, notices he has posted lots of imagery relating to failed relationships, depression and struggling to face the outside world.

However, Robert is the polar opposite of this.  Robert is your typical happy-go-lucky, Jack-the-Lad, man's man type.  Despite their differences, Robert is fiercely protective of his son, claiming that he is competing in Hunted, not for the money, but for Alex.  Robert wants Alex to realise that he is more confident and intelligent than he gives himself credit for.

While the Aylings aim to win, the Hunters are not going to make things easy for them.  They immediately start tracking Lynne Aylings (Alex's mother) phone, as well as the Aylings' bank account.  This was a smart tactic, which already led cracks to form.  Robert goes to an ATM to withdraw money and quickly becomes flustered and panicked, when it begins to play up.  They then get a taxi to Wilmslow with the intention of heading to the Peak District via the countryside. 

While in the Peak District, they stumble across a tiny, unlocked parish church, where they begin making serious blunders.  Worried about running low on samples, they decide to call Lynne, so that she can deliver more equipment.  They call her on a pre-pay, burner phone, thinking the Hunters won't be able to detect this.  This is a grave mistake, as the Hunters can track anything which gives off an electrical signal, and thus, they hear the entire conversation, including when Alex tells his mum his exact location and what road to take to get there.

Although, the Hunters are suspicious of this being a decoy, they take it at face value and dispatch a team to intercept them.  The Aylings then become heavily worried that they've turned themselves into "absolute fucking sitting ducks," to quote Robert Ayling, (which they have) and debate whether to leave the church or not.

Meanwhile, the Hunters have dispatched a ground team and their remote-controlled drone.  However, when they arrive, they find that the Aylings have already left, leaving behind some snacks and water and a taunting note reading "cheers.  Don't look too hard." While, it might be tempting to taunt your Hunters like this, I can't help, but think that you're going to need this food later.

The Hunters do not take this taunt lightly and release their most terrifying weapon: a remote-controlled drone with a thermal-imaging camera.  The episode ends with the drone having potentially spotted the Aylings.  We won't know whether they've been caught until next week.

So, one day into it, and one fugitive has already been caught: Carlene Crowe, but with eight fugitives left, perhaps we'll have multiple winners yet again.

Top Tips for going on the run:

1. Always change disguises: Carlene Crowe went wrong, as she didn't remove her first disguise.

2. Always have a plan.  Carlene also went wrong by not having a clear strategy.  You cannot wing this.

3.  DON'T PHONE HOME.  I feel like I say this every series and this moment had me screaming at the TV.  And if you have to phone home, then don't say your exact location and the route there.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

China Town Review

Number 121 on the 1000 greatest films of all time is the films that launched Jack Nicholson's career: Chinatown.

Directed by Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson plays P.I Jake Gittes.  Initially hired by Evelyn Murray to survey her husband, he soon realises that there is a bigger mystery at play.  As Gittes seeks to discover the truth, he becomes embroiled in a plot involving incest, corruption and murder.

This film is a quintessential "one man against the system," with Nicholson playing the roguish Jake Gittes.  Initially beginning as a selfish, self-interested character, he develops into a hero, as he seeks to discover the truth.  Nicholson is well-known for playing characters who rebel against authority, with the best example being One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and I think that it was China Town, which first established him as such.  He is convincing in the role and his arc was entertaining to watch. 

When fighting against the system, Gittes is fighting it at the highest possible level, as he discovers a plot by Noah Cross, (John Huston) the partner of Evelyn Murray's father, and powerful business man, to buy up the Californian Northwest Valley and the according reservoirs, to monopolise the water supply.  And Noah Cross is ruthlessly corrupt, having already killed previous investigators.

What this film does best is tackle corruption.  *SPOILER ALERT* Chinatown concludes with Evelyn Murray shooting Noah Cross in the arm.  As she flees, the police then shoot her dead.  When Jake Gittes demands vengeance, he is told to "forget it.  It's Chinatown." In just one line, the corruption that is present within high-level organisations is utterly encapsulated.

People are completely resigned to it, as they think that it is the order of things.  The police are in the government's pocket and people are afraid to speak out.  And this is just why Jake Gittes is such an important character.  Rather than looking the other way, he stood up and fought for what he believed was right.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Robot Wars Series 3 Grand Final

After five long weeks, we have finally reached our grand final.  And boy, wasn't it a thrilling final? We saw some great driving, clever tactics and some major shocks, and of course we crowned our champion of the Third Wars of the new series.

LET THE WARS BEGIN

Ten-Way Robot Rumble

Our five finalists are Behemoth, Carbide, Rapid, Nuts 2 and Magnetar.

The sixth finalist was chosen from a ten-way, last-man standing free for all between the robots that placed 2nd and third in the heats.  Let's run through them all quickly.

1. Apollo - champions of the first wars who are armed with a mighty flipper
2.  Sabretooth - armed with a vicious spinning drum
3. Eruption - runners-up in the second wars who also have a powerful flipper
4. Big Nipper - a very flat robot with two interchangeable weapons - a spinning drum and a lifting claw
5. Concussion - finalists in the second wars who have a brutal spinning drum
6. Tracktion - a group of school children whose robot ran on caterpillar tracks and have a crushing arm
7. Thor - finalist in the first wars who had a smashing hammer
8. Iron Awe 6 - veteran of the original wars who were armed with a flipper
9. Terrorhurtz - another veteran of the original wars with a powerful axe
10. Expulsion - another group of school children armed with a vertical spinning disc

3...2...1...ACTIVATE

This fight was absolute chaos.  It was a free-for-all with no rules or time limit.  The winner was the last robot standing.

Thor went straight onto the attack, charging across the arena, while Concussion hit Tracktion's vulnerable tracks leading to them becoming dislodged.  Thor then hit the pit release button.  This was smart, tactical thinking.  Thor wanted to take advantage of the mayhem happening in the arena in the hopes that a robot would become careless and drive into the pit.

Expulsion were the first robots to fall victim to this, while Thor was hammering down on Concussion.  Sabretooth bashed into the former champions, Apollo, knocking them over, while Concussion escaped from Terrorhurtz and start to whack into Big Nipper.  Then in the chaos, the Fog of War was released.  Terrorhurtz took advantage of this to push Tracktion down the pit.

After this Apollo flipped over Iron Awe who have been beyond useless within this series.  While they were armed with a flipper, I've never seen it work and this fight was no exception.  Luckily for them, the Fog of War went of again, before Apollo could finish them off.  Apollo then turned their attention to Sabretooth, flipping them against the arena wall.

Meanwhile, Terrorhurtz started attacking to Eruption, which hitherto had been hanging back. Eruption sneaked in behind Thor and gave them a mighty flip, while Iron Awe then hit the Dial of Doom, sensing they were in trouble.  This released the house robots and Sir Killalot came out of his lair and just missed Iron Awe.  And then again, Iron Awe hit the Dial of Doom, one again releasing the Fog of War.  But this backfired for the Iron Awe team, as they drove onto the floor flipper and were flipped over and couldn't self-right.

Big Nipper managed to get underneath Apollo and almost lifted them over, before Concussion pushed Iron Awe into the pit, but were soon after pushed in by Thor.

6 robots left.  Sabretooth got their spinning drum into play against Eruption's flipper, while Terrorhurtz began to lose the CO2 gas for their axe.  This meant that their weapon was losing power.  Apollo sensed this weakness and flipped Terrorhurtz over who were just able to self-right.  Terrorhurtz was able to escape and they hit into Sabretooth.  The house robots went rogue and Killalot went after Eruption, while Shunt attacked Apollo.  In this confusion, Sabretooth drove onto the pit.

Thor hit the Dial of Doom again, before driving into the pit, while trying to pit Big Nipper.  Killalot went after Terrorhurtz and almost threw them from the arena, but spared them.  Meanwhile, in the background, Big Nipper were finally pitted.  And then there were three robots left.

There was Terrorhurtz whose axe was failing them, the former champions - Apollo who were also becoming tired and the tactical thinkers Eruption.

The flippers could tell Terrorhurtz was slowly dying, so they began ganging up on it.  Eruption shunted it into the side wall and flipped it so that it couldn't self-right.  And then they turned their attention to the former champion.  They got in a mighty flip on Apollo and then another and another.  Apollo just couldn't recover and with their CO2 gas spent, they couldn't self-right.

Eruption were the last machine standing and thus claimed the sixth spot in the grand final.  I have to say that the Eruption team played this fight well.  They went in with the clear tactic of hanging back early on and letting the other robots take each other out, before they went on the attack.

Group Battle 1 Carbide vs Behemoth vs Nuts 2

Time for the first group battle between the first group of our finalists.

For starters we have current champions Carbide armed with a mighty spinning bar.  Then there was Behemoth armed with a lifting scoop.  The Behemoth team have been competing in Robot Wars since 1998, where they reached the semi-finals of Series 2 of the original wars.  Reaching the grand final today is the best they have ever competed since.

Finally, we have Nuts 2, regarded by many as a "joke robot." However, they've proved their worth with their flail spinner doing some real damage, taking out former finalists Concussion.  They also have little clusterbots designed to annoy and pester.

3...2...1...ACTIVATE

While Nuts 2 spans up to top speed, Behemoth and Carbide had their own private war.  Behemoth used a specially-made scoop designed to deflect spinner blows, but this didn't stop Carbide from getting some stunners in.  While Behemoth were going back on their attack, they drove over the pit, just as one of the Nuts clusterbots hit the pit release.  And Behemoth sank out of sight.

This was great tactics by the Nuts team and it wasn't the first surprise of the episode.  With one opponent down, Carbide went to attack Nuts 2, but the flailing arms of the Nuts machine ripped into Carbide and tore out their weapon chain, leaving the champions defenceless.

After this happened, it was Nuts on the attack and Carbide on the defence.  The champions were running away.  You could tell Carbide was scared as they hit the Dial of Doom twice, releasing both the house robots and the Fog of War, but to no great effect.  At times, they were almost counted out, but they just managed to take it to a judge's decision who awarded it to Nuts.

The Nuts team were in disbelief, which is something I really love about their team.  They're so humble and are such great sports, but their machine is good.  They took out the champions Carbide.  And to put this into perspective, Carbide were runners-up in Series 1 only beaten by Apollo and they were champions in series 2.  This means that they have been practically unbeaten thus far.  But Nuts 2 were able to do what only one other robot has done so far.  This deserves real respect.

Group Battle 2 Magnetar vs Eruption Vs Rapid

The three robots in this second group battle are Magnetar who were finalists in series 1.  They were armed with a mighty spinning drum.  Then we have Rapid, a flipper, whose team captain wanted to recruit anybody who could beat them.  Finally, we have Eruption, the flipper-bot who fought their way through the ten-way robot rumble.

3...2...1...Activate

This battle began slowly with Eruption and Rapid sizing each other up, while Magnetar span to top speed.  And bloody hell, they were awesome once they reached their max speed.  They bashed into Rapid, sending it flying through the air and crashing down.  Rapid self-righted and tried to flip over Eruption, but instead flipped themselves over and couldn't self-right.  That was until they were knocked back into life by Magnetar, but then they were flipped over by Eruption and this time they couldn't recover.

Meanwhile, Magnetar hit Eruption, but the flipper machine was well-armoured.  They managed to fight back, but as the fight progressed, their flipper was losing power, as they their CO2 dwindled.  However, Magnetar's spinning drum also lost power and this then became a tactical battle of attrition.

Magnetar slammed Eruption into the CPZ, which backfired spectacularly, as Magnetar was then flipped over by Matilda.  Their self-righter failed and they were counted out.  Another major upset of this final.  Eruption were through to the next round.

Robot Redemption 1 Behemoth vs Magnetar

Time for the first loser's melee and to see which robot could claw their way back into the main competition.

Behemoth started the aggressor charging into Magnetar and flipping them over.  However, Magnetar were able to self-right and they got their own back, hitting Behemoth - the force of which flipped Behemoth over.  Just when it looked like they were down for the count, they self-righted.

Behemoth went back onto the attack, but overextended themselves and crashed into the arena wall.  Magnetar's spinning drum them lost radio signal, while Behemoth lost drive on one side.  With both robots badly wounded, this became a battle of attrition.  But then Magnetar became cocky and got too close to Behemoth allowing them to be flipped over.  They couldn't self-right and were immobilised.

Robot Redemption 2 Carbide vs Rapid

Time for the most explosive battle of the series - quite literally.

To stop Carbide's spinning bar, the Rapid team attached entanglement weapons, which didn't work at all.  However, Rapid's flipper did work, as they were able to flip Carbide, but the champions recovered and then got a massive hit on Rapid, tearing off a side panel.

Rapid managed to get one last flip in, before Carbide slammed into them with such force that their machine began smoking.  And when I say smoking, I mean smoking.  A cloud of smoke filled the arena and then Rapid caught fire.  It was safe to say they were out and Carbide was back in.  Looks like the Rapid team should be hiring both the Magnetar and the Carbide teams.

Semi-final 1 Behemoth vs Eruption

When you get two flippers against each other, it's always a matter of who's closest to the ground and who can get underneath the other robot first.

In this case it was Behemoth who managed to flip Eruption over and push them into the CPZ.  But Eruption recovered and they were angry.  They flipped Behemoth over from the side, leaving them struggling to self-right.

They finally recovered only to be flipped again and again.  And while they self-righted, they just couldn't recover.  They couldn't get under Eruption who then flipped them into Matilda and, well, basically, all over the arena.  Behemoth managed to take it to the judges who unsurprisingly awarded it to Eruption, but all credit to the Behemoth boys.  They didn't give up and this was their best performance ever.  Hopefully they'll come back even stronger next year.

Semi-final 2 Carbide vs Nuts 2

Could Nuts 2 do it again? Could they beat the reigning champions for a second time running? Carbide were worried they could, which is why they put armour around their weapon chain.  And it worked.  Nuts 2 spun up to speed and clobbered Carbide, but didn't inflict any major damage.

Carbide then went on the attack and ripped off one of Nuts 2's flailing arms.  Sensing they were in trouble, Nuts 2 hit the Dial of Doom, unleashing the Fog of War.  Carbide waited for it to clear, before they smashed into Nuts 2 who just couldn't recover and were soon immobilised.

If you had counted out the champions, you would have been wrong to do so.  But all credit to the Nuts boys for getting this far.  A great team with a great machine.  You're no laughing matter anymore.

Final - Carbide vs Eruption

And we have reached it.  The grand final of series 3 - a grudge match of last year's final, where Carbide beat Eruption to become series 2 champion.

Carbide started the stronger by unleashing an onslaught onto Eruption who managed to sustain the damage.  They tried to recover, but their flipper was failing them.  However, Carbide were having problems of their own when they began smoking and just when it looked like Eruption were down and out, they came back into it.  They flipped Carbide over and then the tables had turned.  Carbide lost their bar spinner and sensing they were on top, Eruption unleashed the Fog of War.

In the confusion, Carbide were flipped by the floor flipper and Eruption were able to flip them around the arena.  Carbide's spinning bar began working again and they smashed into Eruption, but the flipper machine was still working.  They flipped Carbide once and then twice and then a third and fourth time.  Carbide ended the fight on the run.  This was a great fight, which went back and forth a lot.

 And overall, this has been a fantastic final, probably some of the best Robot Wars I have ever watched.  Awesome destruction, great driving, smart tactics and of course, the 10-way Robot Rumble.  Although, I was slightly disappointed that they didn't have a play-off for third and fourth place between Behemoth and Nuts 2.

But onto the champion of Robot Wars Series 3.  The judges awarded it to...Eruption! They had beaten reigning champions Carbide to become winners of series 3.  Well done, Eruption! You deserve it for your powerful flipper and smart tactics.

Dim the lights
cue the applause
Eruption is our new champion
on Robot Wars


Friday, 1 December 2017

Robot Wars Series 3 Episode 5 recap

Time for the final heat before the grand final and to see who will join Behemoth, Carbide, Rapid and Nuts 2.  We will also see which two robots will take the last spots in the ten-way last man standing free for all, which will determine the final grand finalist.

LET THE WARS BEGIN

Group battle 1 Expulsion vs Thor vs Coyote

Expulsion was comprised of a group of secondary school girls who were competing, because they wanted to encourage more girls to get into engineering.  Their weapon was a vertical spinning disc mounted against the side of their machine, which I think is a poor design.

Their first opponent was the veteran of the previous wars and former grand finalist: Thor, armed with a hammer that slammed down with a tonne of force.

Rounding out the trio was Coyote who were armed with crushing jaws and a chainsaw tail.

3...2...1...ACTIVATE

The battle began with Coyote slamming into Expulsion with Thor leaving them to it.  Coyote pushed Expulsion into the CPZ, where they were attacked by house robot: Dead Metal.  But Expulsion escaped and hit the Dial of Doom, which allowed Dead Metal to leave his home and start attacking Expulsion again, before roasting them on the flame pit.

Meanwhile, Thor and Coyote were having their own war, slamming into each other.  Coyote tried to get their crushing jaws into play, but their bark was worse than their bite.  However, Thor was able to slam their hammer down.

Coyote escaped and hit the Dial of doom, once again allowing Dead metal to come out and attack the already beaten Expulsion.  Thor and Coyote tried to defend their fallen competitor with little success.  Afterwards, Thor damaged Coyote's beak leaving them as the clear winners.

Group battle 2 Magnetar vs Hobgoblin vs Push to Exit

Magnetar is the latest incarnation of S1 grand finalist Pulsar.  The Magnetar machine was armed with a lethal spinning drum and are ones to watch.  Their first opponent was Hobogoblin who were also armed with a spinning drum - cum - egg-beater.

Finally, we have Push to Exit who were armed with a forward-hinged flipper.  This means that rather than trying to flip other machines, they would aim to topple them over.  It is a more uncommon flipper design, but has seen great success in veterans Firestorm.

3...2...1 ACTIVATE

Push to Exit's unconventional flipper led to them starting strongly. They were easily able to get under Hobgoblin and flip them over who couldn't self-right.  Push to Exit then made the mistake of messing with Magnetar who were just awesome.  They slammed and battered Push to Exit.  Metal was buckled and Push to Exit were soon immobilised.  An impressive start from the previous finalists.

Robot Redemption 1 Hobgoblin vs Coyote

To call this a fight would be exaggerating.  It was pushing and shoving and calling names.  Coyote bashed into Hobgoblin, but couldn't get their crushing beak into play.

Instead, they displayed some good tactical thinking.  They pushed Hobgoblin into Shunt who rained down hell on Hobgoblin, who couldn't survive the assault.  On the plus side, they were able to use their egg-beater weapon to destroy Shunt's axe-blade.

Hobgoblin goes home, but Coyote was through to the next round.

Robot Redemption 2 Push to Exit vs Expulsion

This was another Handbags at Dawn match.  No great damage or destruction happened.  Both robots danced around each other, while Push to Exit had intermittent control problems.  They were not running smoothly.

Their flipper wasn't working either, as they had plenty of opportunities to flip Expulsion and didn't.  Expulsion also suffered from poor driving, as they drove onto the floor flipper and were flipped over.  Meanwhile, Push to Exit had broken down.  The match went to the judges who awarded it to Expulsion, deeming Push to Exit to have been immobilised first.

Round 2 Battle 1

Coyote vs Thor

Again this battle began with both machines sizing each other up.  Coyote then went on the attack, slamming into Thor but doing no real damage.

Thor shoved back, pushing Coyote into the arena wall and slamming their hammer down, getting in some heavy hits.  Coyote escaped and sensing they were in trouble, hit the Dial of Doom, allowing Matilda to come out of the CPZ.

Scared, Thor ran away and straight onto the floor flipper which flipped them far and wide.  Dazed after this attack, Thor then drove straight onto Matilda's flywheel, which led to their CO2 bottle exploding in a cloud of smoke.

In the end, the fight went to the judges who awarded it to Thor, as they were more aggressive throughout the fight.

Round 2 Battle 2

Magnetar vs Expulsion

We've seen how powerful Magnetar's spinning drum is, which is why I understand why Expulsion went straight for the Dial of Doom.  With the hopes of confusing Magnetar, they released the Fog of War.  However, Magnetar used the Fog of War tactically.  They revved their drum to top speed and slammed into Expulsion, delivering a 1-hit KO.  Afterwards Expulsion went in the pit and Magnetar went through to the heat final.

Playoff Expulsion vs Coyote

Time to see who will claim 3rd place and the 9th spot in the 10-way free for all.

From Coyote's early performance, it was clear it wasn't going to be them.  They showed terrible driving by repeatedly driving into the arena wall.

Meanwhile, Expulsion were slamming into Coyote who tried to recover, but couldn't and they soon broke down.  Expulsion were through to the 10-way robot rumble.

Heat final Thor vs Magnetar

To prepare for this battle, the Thor team attached steel ropes to their machine with hopes of entangling Magnetar's spinning drum.

This served to bemuse Magnetar, rather than hurt them, as they charged into Thor.  While this was a powerful blow, Thor recovered, pushing Magnetar into the arena wall and bringing their hammer down.

Magnetar escaped and while Thor was pursuing them, they stupidly drove onto the floor flipper.  Thor recovered, but then drove onto the floor flipper again, and when crashing down, they landed on Magnetar's spinning drum.  And once again, Thor's CO2 bottle exploded in a cloud of smoke. Weaponless, they were soon immobilised.

Thor joins Expulsion, Iron-Awe 6, Concussion, Tracktion, Terrorhurtz, Big Nipper, Eruption, Sabretooth and Apollo in the ten robot, last man standing, free for all.  The winner will become our last finalist.

I can't wait to see this.  The original series never attempted anything this big, so I'm sure it will be pure chaos.  I wouldn't even like to predict a winner.  As former champions, the smart money is on Apollo, but who knows?

Meanwhile, Magnetar is out fifth finalist, joining Behemoth, Carbide, Rapid and Nuts 2.

Dim the lights,
scream your applause,
Magnetar is our fifth finalist
on Robot Wars.