Wednesday, 15 February 2023


When it comes to adventure movies, few are as beloved and enduring as Steven Spielberg’s 1981 classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark. This movie has been hailed as one of the best adventure movies ever created, and it’s easy to see why. From its iconic cinematography to its thrilling script and unforgettable characters, Raiders of the Lost Ark has never really been rivalled in terms of its action-packed storytelling, pace and action. Could this be the best adventure movie ever made?

Lets take a look at the creative mix that brough this amazing movie together...


Let’s start with the cinematography of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Spielberg and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe created a visual masterpiece, combining sweeping vistas, dynamic action sequences, and intimate close-ups to create an immersive experience. The iconic opening sequence featuring Indiana Jones being chased by a massive boulder is an example of the movie’s superb cinematography, with the camera capturing the action from both wide and close angles to give the audience a full sense of the chaos. Other memorable moments include the fight aboard the thrilling truck chase, the escape from the Tomb snake pit, and the general use of close ups and framing shots to propel the films narrative.

Slocombe used a variety of techniques to capture the action and drama of the movie. For the more intense scenes, he employed a variety of camera angles and close-ups to draw the audience into the action. The use of light was another important element of his cinematography especially for scenes like the digging team shot at sunrise and where lighting was used to bring focus to lead characters such as Indy's entrance to Marrion's Raven bar and the use of light on Indy's face to highlight his eyes during intense closeups. By using shadows, silhouettes and reflections, he created a sense of mystery and suspense. He also used natural light to capture the beauty and grandeur of the exotic locations. Slocombe also employed a number of handheld shots to create a sense of immediacy and excitement. This technique was especially effective during the action sequences, as it gave the audience a sense of being right in the middle of the action. The use of wide angle shots was another important aspect of Slocombe's cinematography. By using this technique, he was able to capture the vastness of the desert and the grandeur of the ancient loations.

Lighting, framing and angles artfully help tell the story.


The Raiders of the Lost Ark screenplay was developed by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas. The concept of the film was first proposed in 1977 by Lucas, who wanted to make a modern version of the 1930s action serials. The story follows Indiana Jones, an archaeologist-adventurer, as he searches for a powerful ancient artifact known as the Ark of the Covenant.

The screenplay was a collaborative effort between Lucas and Kasdan, who worked together to create a story that was both exciting and full of adventure. Kasdan focused on the dialogue and character development while Lucas crafted the action sequences. After a few months of development, the Raiders of the Lost Ark screenplay was ready for production. 

The film was a massive success, earning 8 Academy Award nominations and grossing over $389 million worldwide. The Raiders of the Lost Ark screenplay stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the potential of great storytelling. It was actually Spielberg's enthusiasm for Kasdan's Continental Divide screenplay that got him the Raiders gig, Continental Divide had been bought by Paramount for $150,000 dollars at Spielberg's request, a script about a brash Chicago journalist who falls in love with a woman living in the mountains studying eagles, in the vein of an old Spencer Tracy / Katharine Hepburn flick. The film, released in 1981 would ultimately star the late John Belushi as well as actress Blair Brown who received her first Golden Globe nomination in the role.

George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan

It's perhaps testament to Lucas' own vision that he wanted to position Raiders as a film that revived the 1930's and 1940's adventure movies that ran in theatre matinee's. Films that blended action, wit and romance with cliffhanger moments of peril. Raiders is full of clever dialogue and witty banter that keeps the action moving swiftly, pace wise it's nigh on perfect with very little in the way of filler. Kasdan’s script is jam-packed with memorable one-liners, a great example being when Indy quips “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage” after Marion Ravenwood remarks that he looks older than she remembers. The script also features numerous twists and turns that keep the audience guessing, such as the surprise reveal of the Ark’s true location at the end of the movie.


Finally, Raiders of the Lost Ark features some of the most iconic characters in movie history. Harrison Ford brings his trademark wit and charm to his portrayal of Indiana Jones which was only a year after The Empire Strikes Back had graced cinema screens, a swashbuckling archaeologist who is equal parts hero and rogue. Ford had pretty much cemented his hero status with both Star Wars films, making him hot property and a bankable star. Karen Allen is equally captivating as Marion Ravenwood, a tough-as-nails adventurer who is just as capable of getting out of tight spots as Indy but spends much of the time being rescued by him. And then there’s the villainous Belloq, played with sleazy panache by Paul Freeman. All of these characters come together to create a memorable cast that is essential to the movie’s success. Throw in the Nazi scourge in search of supernatural treasure for Hitler and that just heaps on the ultimate baddie group you could ever want. 

Belloq played by Paul Freeman


Raider's has some of the best and most iconic stunt work in cinema history. Vic Armstrong was the stunt coordinator for Raiders of the Lost Ark and was responsible for some of the most eye opening stunt sequences in the film including the incredible truck chase. Indy gives chase on horseback to intercept the Nazi convoy and jumps from his horse to ambush the driver, in the ensuing fist fight, the Nazi soldier (played by stuntman Sergio Mioni) throws Indy through the windshield, and in a stunt that has never been topped in cinema for sheer thrill, Indy goes under the truck and hand over hand towards the back of the truck via the driveshaft and axel towing himself with his bull whip. Director Steven Spielberg and stuntman Terry Leonard designed the truck chase with Armstrong helping to coordinate Indiana Jones being dragged behind the truck, having to make it look like Harrison Ford was actually the one being dragged as he clings on to dear life with his bull whip.

Truck Stunt

Fightwork in Raiders was also another well crafted accomplishment with some great choreography work including pivotal scenes such as the Flying Wing fight at Tanis between Indy and the shirtless German mechanic played by the late Pat Roach. This fight was choreographed by Glenn Randall, Jr. The scene mixes some great humor (Indy looking at the sand to distract the Mechanic before he kicks him) and shows us that as a hero character, Indian Jones isn't invincible, far from it, since the Mechanic is only taken down once and for all by his lack of attention as to where the Flying Wings propellers were as the plane circles out of control in its hangar area.

The man mountain - the late Pat Roach (his second character in the film)


Overcoming budget constraints, not to mention the heat of Tunisia which also saw 150 crew members fall sick to amoebic dysentery and the added challenges of working with animals such as reptiles and spiders added many lost hours to the films production. Another problem was the complexity of the stunts. Many of the action sequences featured elaborate stunts that had to be choreographed perfectly. This was a difficult task, and there were many instances where a stunt went wrong, leading to costly delays.

Film making at this time utilised primarily practical effects and sets with only minimum VFX work and Raiders is perhaps a great example that it still provides one of the best adventure thrills now as it did 40 years ago as a primarily practically shot movie. You only have to look at the massive Tomb set which was shot on Stage 4 at Elstree and the Well of Souls set filmed on Stage 3 at Elstree, both were large complex sets.

Larger vehicles such as the Nazi flying wing was a full size prop, designer Norman Reynolds created the plane using inspiration from actual aircraft that the Germans had in development, such as the Horten Ho 229. The plane was constructed out of fibreglass and wood and pieces of the plane have been found (and auctioned off) in Tunisia as recent as 2001.

The Flying Wing under construction at Elstree built by Vickers Co

Practical horror effects - melting faces

In conclusion, Raiders of the Lost Ark has to be the greatest adventure movie ever made. From its stunning cinematography to its witty script and unforgettable characters, this movie has never been rivalled in terms of its action-packed storytelling. It is a timeless classic that just doesn't age.

Did you Know?

There were repeated delays while filming the Well of Souls scene: there were too few snakes, a lack of anti-venom, and Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian —who was visiting Kubrick on the set of The Shining —called the Royal Society of the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) about the treatment of the snakes.

Monday, 30 January 2023

5 Affordable but Very Cool Watches For Men


Disclaimer: I believe in transparency and strive to provide accurate information to my readers. As part of my commitment to transparency, please be aware that some of the links in my blog posts are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate, I may earn a small commission from the sale as an Amazon Affiliate.

Aside from the premier Swiss made brands that have sat at the top of the the watch market as the all time classic 'must have' luxury watches such as the Rolex, Omega and Patek Phillipe there's a whole range of brands and budgets to put a decent timepiece on your wrist that won't break the bank or break your heart if you damage or lose it, granted it still might hurt a bit but that doesn't mean you can't wear something that's a decent dinner party conversation piece or an everyday statement piece that has oozes great design. Trends come and go but the comfort factor of owning a decent looking and performing watch that is just as universal with a pair a of shorts and t-shirt as it is with a suit means you made one of the best style decisions of your life.

Tastes differ, what floats one man's boat may not necessarily put the steam in another mans stride, styles vary massively of course from the chunky divers watches to the more subtle elegant dress watches or everyday casual watches.

What is affordable though?, in today's topsy turvy economy it could be something fairly low priced and functional that caters to a no fuss daily use criteria, for others it might mean a couple of additional zeros on the price tag for something a bit more outspoken depending on your personal financial circumstances. In an economic climate that puts the brakes on splashing cash on extravagance I've created a list of 5 watches that cater for a broad pricing range.

1. G Shock Range

You can't really go wrong with G-Shocks, they come in a variety of styles and looks although tend to adhere to the rugged outdoors rough and tumble robust design that's served it well for many years. The Octagon series is an entry level watch starting at around £99 the slimmer, stealth look GA-2100-1A1ER harks back to the design it had in 1983. Blacks and greys seem to be as popular as ever as do olive drab military tones. Water resistant to 200M and an interchangible resin strap. Casio owns G Shock so their look and feel are based around that familiar modern design that made their 80's watches so popular. Further up the price scale you can easily spend £379 for a metallic G Shock style such as the GST-B400D-1AER which is the thinnest of the G Steel series they make. he bezel has 5 different finishes so adopts a different shade depending on the angle you view the watch, its darker face contrast really well against the steel look too.

Reason to Consider: Its robust and tough for active lifestyles and the GShocks are highly shock resistant and usually come with a 200M water resistance rating. The digital display is easy to read, and it has a lighted LCD display and a backlight to provide visibility in low light conditions. It also has a stopwatch, countdown timer, and five daily alarms

2. AVI-8 Watches

AVI-8 is probably a brand you've probably not heard of but don't let that fool you into thinking that they don't know how to design a talking point. Inspired heavily by aviation they have a range of watches that really do stand out and at an affordable price. Their Chronographs, namely the Blakeslee Chronograph with bronze oak strap and Avon Chronograph in charcoal green look amazing and will only set you back £149 and £200 respectively. The company also does a steel series in the Type 300 Automatic with the Oxford Blue being a particular bold but tasteful looking time piece.

Reason to Consider: The Oxford Blue face is accented with rose gold details. The watch is equipped with a Swiss quartz movement, and it has a date display, a stopwatch, and a tachymeter. The watch is also water-resistant up to 50 meters and powered by a long-lasting battery.

3. Diesel Mr Daddy Chronograph

Like me you probably previously never really noticed Diesel watches, as a brand its been around since 1974 (yes that long), it was only when they started promoting jeans and men's cologne that I took more notice of them. in 2019 they filed for chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection although Diesel Spa wasn't part of that action. In recent years they've made some pretty bold choices in their range of watches with their current bestseller for men being the very attractive but horribly titled  Diesel Mr. Daddy Chronograph. The watch has a multi dialled look with nice neon blue accents to numbers and face markings which contrast against a black face and strap.30M water resistancy, although more for splashes than full prolonged immersion. Stainless steel in black its a very nice watch and priced around £356

Reason to Consider: The chronograph features a quartz movement and a date display, and it also has a stopwatch with a 60-minute countdown timer. The watch is also water-resistant up to 10 ATM and its scratch-resistant mineral crystal ensures long-lasting durability.

4. Orient Bambino

Looking for something that's understated yet perfectly elegant with a subtle style that looks good on a night out with friends or a dressier dinner party? I guarantee you the Orient Bambino will have people asking "can I ask you what watch are you wearing?". Japanese in origin the brand dates back to 1901 when Shogoro Yoshida opened his first Tokyo shop. The face has a beautiful rich Prussian blue that fades to black on the outer edges which helps the number marker contrast beautifully. The stainless steel bezel and black leather strap give it a classic but stylish finish. The best part though is that this will only set you back £127. The watch has two other coloured styles but this one is the best one in my opinion.

Reason to Consider: The watch is powered by an accurate automatic movement and it has a date display. It also has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and is water-resistant up to 50 meters.


By collaborations they probably don't come much bigger than Omega and Swatch. These two powerhouses got together to offer watch lovers an amazing series of styles and designs that gives you the casual every day aspect of Swatch with the premium look of the famous Moon watch, the Speedmaster as worn by NASA astronauts, and which remains one of the most collectible watches of all time. These watches are made with a with a never done before bioceramic material and none of the pieces are limited edition or numbered, furthermore they are super affordable  at around £207 and they look bloody amazing.

Reason to Consider: other than being one of the hottest watches you can own, The watch is powered by a quartz movement, and it has a date display, a stopwatch, and a tachymeter. It is also water-resistant up to 10 ATM and is powered by a long-lasting battery. This watch is perfect for those looking for a stylish and reliable watch with a unique design.

Got a watch brand that could make the affordable yet cool list?

Thursday, 28 April 2022


Klotzen Panzer Battles: World War 2 Strategy That re-writes The History Books

Independent developer Maxim Games today announced their debut title, Klotzen! Panzer Battles, a World War 2 turn based operational strategy game utilizing a hex based map system, is available now on PC via Steam with a 10% launch discount available until May 4th. 

Offering up countless outcomes to real life historical military campaigns through different scenarios, strategy game fans will have the opportunity to completely rewrite the history books. Players and budding strategists will be able to affect historical timelines and outcomes, from initiating the allied invasion of Normandy a year earlier in 1943, or even executing successful assaults on London or the USA. Klotzen! Panzer Battles offers up 26 historical, and close to 40 counterfactual scenarios, along with the random campaign-changing events. Players can also customize their own historical scenarios with the games built in editor.

Fans of games like Panzer Corps 2 or Hearts of Iron IV will be very at home with the offering here. Maxim Games has been working on Klotzen Panzer Battles for the last 4 years and has paid close attention to what is already offered by competitor WW2 strategy games.

Where Klotzen looks to shake things up is in three key areas

  1. Improved AI, which makes the game more challenging/fun.
  2. Improved air power set of mechanics/rules, that brings the whole gameplay a lot closer to reality, drastically increases importance of air power and gives the player numerous interesting strategies unique to Klotzen.
  3. Branching campaign, with lots of what-if(alt-history) scenarios and events that increases replayability a lot.
With so much content and variation to how missions and campaigns can be played this should keep armchair generals pretty busy, the fact that this also contains counter-factual missions like invading the USA or bringing forward the Normandy invasion of France to 1943 are fun 'what if' scenarios to play out.

The game features some nicely detailed units too which presents the game with a decently presented look and feel. With air, land and sea power available for players to diversify their tactics, and more than enough campaigns and resources to utilize, this looks like it could be a very viable alternative to other WW2 hex based strategy games that have launched in recent years including the likes of Unity of Command.

Klotzen Panzer Battles is currently available on Steam for PC (no linux version to speak of and not current Steam Deck tested) but you can find out more about the game here.


Star Wars Collectibles: Tie Fighter Pilot (ANH) by RWA Creations

At 52 I've hit that age where material objects, collected trinkets if you will  are gradually meaning less and less to me to possess, for some people these trinkets can take any form, it might be a framed sports jersey or a signed baseball, for others it might be a full size replica Terminator endoskeleton skull or vintage toys or first edition comics. I've no idea if this is because I'm at an age where I find myself cruising the suburbs of mortality, a countdown clock that I can clearly hear ticking louder than it did 10 years ago, or if its just my lack of interest generally in things that used to give me 'a buzz'.

I sold a prized gaming collectible in the form of a full size Blitz the League American football helmet to fund the purchase of a replica Star Wars Tie Fighter pilot helmet. I could have invested the money into my pension (yawn) or bought some shares or done something else uniquely boring with it, so after careful consideration I decided to say screw all that, I'm making one last stupidly daft purchase in my adult life and it shall be something without any kind of function whatsoever, other than to make me blissfully happy for a short time until the feel good buzz wears off. Something I've not been for a good many years.

Did some hunting online and found a Welsh based kit builder by the name of Ross who runs RWA Creations. I've been a big of his work and he knows his stuff when it comes to building Stormtrooper armour and Tie Fighter helms. Additionally, I wanted a UK based builder with plenty of experience which would also keep shipping affordable.

I decided to keep it 'plain Jane', just a standard black one, its not a Backstabber design ( the one with the grey tears) or Jolly Roger squadron and its not an Inferno squadron one either, although I was tempted.

Backstabber Tie - note the grey tear lines running down the cheeks

I opted for a helmet fully built in acrylic capped for the extra shine and one with bubble lenses. I've always loved the imperial helmet designs, having acquired the Black Series Vader helmet and a Stormtrooper helmet from New Image Props a few years ago, the Tie Fighter Pilot finishes my trilogy nicely. Wait time for the helmet from RWA Creations was about 5 weeks and the cost was £210 / $275 delivered. Ross, the guy who runs RWA is super friendly, very approachable and I contacted him through email with what I was looking for.

RS Props Tie build

There are a few builders out there that do some very nice Tie helms, RS Prop Masters based in Stockport was also UK based but a bit rich for my blood at £359. Armory Shop does an awesome build of the Inferno helmet for $234 without shipping but comes from Russia and I really didn't want issues with customs etc, given the events in Ukraine. 

Galactic Armory Tie Pilot kit

Galactic Armory based in the USA does a very nice 3D print kit for $120 not including shipping but that's probably more suited for a true self made custom build so plenty of sanding and finishing required and I simply don't have the workbench to sort that.

Chris the Prop Guy Tie Helmet (Backstabber variant with cheek tears)

ChrisThePropGuy also does an awesome Tie helm and the fit and finish on his Etsy store does look one of the better ones you can get, his Backstabber variant looks superb, he's based in Australia though. Finally the Andrew Ainsworth Tie comes in at a whopping £579 but states that it comes from original 1976 molds, therefore has screen lineage, that's fine if you want the essence of true screen lineage as collectors talking point, and while I'm a massive Star Wars fan I couldn't quite reach that budget.

Andrew Ainsworth Imperial Tie - (screen lineage from 1976 molds)

RWA Creations based in the UK produces a beautiful Acrylic Capped standard Tie Fighter helmet with bubble lenses, Here are some pics below of my newly acquired helm. Hoses will come later and I'm debating to add silver to the nose vents.

RWA Creations Tie fighter helmet in Acrylic Capped Vinyl