It’s been a pleasantly surprising week on the Leisure Lab, where our expectations have been exceeded by both Somers Town on Blu-ray and Gears of War II. Expecting the first to be unable to live up to the excellent This Is England and the second to simply be daft, both turned out to have plenty to recommend them.Shane Meadow’s latest film, Somers Town, is a small, intimate story that concentrates on evoking a sense of place where This Is England tried to capture the sense of a time. The place is Somers Town, the oft-ignored London district nestled between Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston, and the story concerns the beautifully acted friendship between runaway Tommo and migrant Marek. If that sounds comparatively insubstantial that’s probably because, at just over an hour in length, it is. But for all that Somers Town is a short film, it’s also an enjoyable one, and while we’d have liked the black levels to better suit the lush monochrome cinematography, it’s hard to make any genuine complaint about such a simple, charming film. You can visit The Leisure Lab to watch a full review of Somers Town.Equally simple is Gears of War II, but you could never call it charming. A shoot-em-up action game that features subterranean menaces, hulking soldiers and preposterous weapons, Gears of War is everything that’s daft about videogames, yet it manages to be the sort of overblown goofy fun you normally only get from heavy metal guitar solos. Graphically it’s full of beautifully detailed, epic levels, and it also takes full advantage of the Xbox’s power to offer a surround sound experience that’s convincing recreation of bullets and debris clattering around your ears, along with a surprisingly strong and cinematic soundtrack-Gears is as rewarding for your eyes and ears as it is for your thumbs. The Leisure Lab’s Gears of War II review will give you a good look at the graphics and the action. Finally, if you’re looking for a way to make the most of all the lush sound and vision currently on offer, you can enter our competition and be in with a chance of winning a 40in Samsung LCD TV, Blu-ray player and home cinema system.
Somers Town, Gears of War II and huge prizes on The Leisure Lab
16th January 2009