Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Almighties Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Sam Johnson and Mike Gagnon
Art By Eleonora Kortsarz, Pablo Zambrano and D.C. White
Cover By Eleonora Kortsarz

Genre
Superhero, Comedy

Synopsis

The Almighties.

Brought together on a 'special day' (it was a Thursday) by the mysterious White Out to combat threats to America's security!

Review

A superhero comedy is an incredibly hard thing to pull off with out it turning it turning in to something little more than groan inducing boredom.

Every now and then however someone comes along and gets it right.

In the case of the movies, we have had 'Defendor', 'Super' and many others but not so many in the comic book world so where does this release from Actuality Press fit in?

Well, I can honestly say that it's up there with the best of them.

A highly satirical and massively funny spoof of 'The Avengers' and of superhero teams in general, Sam Johnson and Mike Gagnon have managed to craft not only a hilarious story but one that gave me some of the most fun I've had in a long time reading a comic book.

The characters come to life brilliantly.  While the characters are most definitely spoofs of characters we all know and love but there is one that absolutely stands out for me.  Not only because he has some of  the funniest lines but is one of the most bizarre that I've seen.

Stefanos has no special powers to speak off.  Instead he is working three jobs, one at a takeaway, as well as being a member of the Almighties team.  He was absolutely fantastic and had me howling with laughter, especially with his catchphrase of 'Who wants salad?' when ever he goes in to battle.  He also has a rather unique weapon.  A meat skewer with the meat still attached!

As well  as all of that we have a robotic Hitler, an appearance by Barack Obama, a hero that stops in the middle of a battle to wonder if he should get checked for testicular problems and tons of other stuff that will have you both thinking 'did they just really say that' as well as howling with laughter.

All in all, this is definitely a title worth picking up.  It makes a welcome change from the death, violence and a myriad of other dark moments  in other comics.  Hilarious.  Well worth giving  this one a go.

So, after all of that, I have one question.

Who wants salad?

Story 4/5
Art 3.5/5
Overall 7.5/10

Pathfinder: Volume 1 - Dark Waters Rising Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jim Zub
Art By Andrew Huerta, Jake Bilbao and Ivan Anaya
Cover By Matteo Scalera

Genre
Fantasy, Adventure

Synopsis

Valeros the warrior can rely on his sword arm and his friends — the mysterious and beautiful sorcerer Seoni, the quick-witted elven rogue Merisiel, knowledgeable and powerful wizard Ezren, the well-traveled dwarven ranger Harsk, and courageous cleric Kyra — but nothing can prepare him for the dangers that lurk ahead.

The scattered and chaotic goblin tribes of Varisia are changing, growing in power, and unifying in ways no one has ever seen before. At the heart of this strange evolution is an ancient evil force looking to establish itself anew in the world of Golarion.

Paizo's incredible award-winning fantasy world, fiction line, and tabletop RPG is now the ultimate fantasy comic from Dynamite Entertainment.

With an action-packed story written by Jim Zub (Street Fighter Legends, Skullkickers) and incredibly detailed artwork by newcomer Andrew Huerta, this first volume introduces readers to a richly envisioned fantasy world filled with compelling characters and impressive sights.

This beautiful, oversized hardcover collects the first six issues of the comic series and includes more than 30 pages of encounters, characters, and world detail for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, including a brand-new poster map of the region explored in the Pathfinder comic!

Review

I have to admit that I don't have a whole load of experience with table top games or 'Dungeons and Dragons' etc so  I was a bit hesitant with this release.  I was thinking that maybe it would go over my head or I'd feel like I'd missed something.

That's not the case.

'Pathfinder' isn't a bad graphic novel.  It looks relatively well drawn, although it's not the best art I've ever seen, but for some reason I just couldn't get in to it and, if I'm being completely honest here, I got quite bored in places reading it.

The problem is with the characters.  Even with my limited experience of the role playing scene, I still found the characters to be incredibly cliched and of a 'been there done that' kind of style.  I would even go so far as to say that if you have ever read a fantasy book or seen a fantasy movie then you've probably seen versions of these characters a hundred times before.

Don't get me wrong, the writing itself is exciting and fast paced but it's the characters that let it down.  I would have enjoyed the story a hell of a lot more if they had taken more of a risk with the characters themselves.

Art wise, the book looks good but it's a case of style over substance.  One of the things I did notice however was that when there was a busy action scene, the art seemed to lose some of it's detail and that's a shame because it's during the battle that you need the little details to draw your eye to the action.

All in all, I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of this release at all.  However, there was a silver lining to the release.  There are loads of tie in bits so that you can use your characters in your role play games as well as loads of stuff to use in the 'Pathfinder' game itself.

As a massive fan of Dynamite Comics, I had high hopes for this one but hey, can't win them all.

Story 3/5
Art 3/5
Overall 6/10

'Pathfinder: Volume 1 - Dark Waters Rising' is available to buy from 18th June 2013

Monday, 29 April 2013

Journeyman: The Complete Series DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Created By Kevin Falls

Genre
Science Fiction, Drama

Cast

Kevin McKidd as Dan Vasser
Gretchen Egolf as Katie Vasser
Moon Bloodgood as Livia Beale
Reed Diamond as Jack Vasser
Brian Howe as Hugh Skillen
Charles Henry Wyson as Zack Vasser

Certificate 15

Synopsis

From Emmy Award-winning writer-producer Kevin Falls ("The West Wing") and Emmy Award-winning director-producer Alex Graves ("The West Wing"), "Journeyman" is a romantic mystery-drama about Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd, "Rome" "Grey's Anatomy"), a San Francisco newspaper reporter and family man who inexplicably begins to travel through time and change people's lives.

Special Features
  • Flashing Backwards - a comprehensive documentary about the making of "Journeyman"
  • The Back Nine - featurette that explores with cast and writers what might have happened on the series had it not been cancelled
  • Pilot Commentary - with creator/executive producer, Kevin Falls, lead actor, Kevin McKidd and director/executive producer, Alex Graves
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Stills Gallery

Review

I wasn't able to catch this when it was shown on television but had heard many good things about it  so when it was finally released on to DVD after 6 years, I was quite eager to get it.

It most definitely didn't disappoint.

The comparisons between this and 'Quantum Leap', while understandable to a small degree are a bit on the harsh side.  OK, both involved someone time traveling and then helping someone but to me, that's where the comparisons end really.

This one has a great and at times complex story but at the middle of it is a heart that gives the show it's emotional edge.  It's that edge which raises the quality much higher than it could have been.

However smart the writing is, and in this case it's both fast paced and character driven, that would all fall down if not for a good cast.  That's something this series has in spades.  Each actor and actress really gives it their all to make each character unique and memorable.

Out of all of these, the show most definitely belongs to Kevin McKidd as Dan Vasser.  He completely owns the scenes when ever he appears and plays the part superbly.  I loved the subtle nuances of the character, his motives, his desires and how McKidd played him as equal parts wanting to do the right thing and thinking that he was losing his mind.  He managed this in a beautifully subtle nature and without falling in to melodrama that you really couldn't help but get behind him as the series progressed.

The special features here are just flat out brilliant.  I especially loved the feature where the cast and crew spoke about their plans for series if it had gone past the first season.  Some of those ideas were brilliant and I would have loved to have seen them put in to action.

It's a real shame that this series only got one season as it was really picking up steam when it got cancelled.  That happens to a lot of television shows 'Tru Calling', 'Firefly', 'A Gfted Man' to name a few.  All cancelled just as they were finding their feet.

This DVD set is most definitely worth getting.  If you are a fan of 'Quantum Leap' or 'Tru Calling' or just a fan of intelligent and dramatic science fiction then you will love this character driven show.  I do think the 'Quantum Leap' comparisons are a little unfair but at the same time I think you will like this show if you liked 'Leap' so give it a go, you may surprise yourself.

Show 4/5
Picture 4.5/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 4/5
Overall 16.5/20

Star Wars: Book of Sith - Secrets of the Dark Side by Daniel Wallace Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Daniel Wallace

Genre
Science Fiction, Movie Tie-In

Synopsis

The Sith have existed in the galaxy for centuries, lurking, waiting for their chance to seize control. In his quest for domination, Darth Sidious tracked down five pivotal Sith texts written by his most powerful predecessors.

Then, drawing on the knowledge within the compiled pages, he wrote a sixth text.  His own manifesto.

Together, these documents shed light on the philosophy, achievements, and failures of the Sith Order.

Review

I am a massive fan of Star Wars.  I've done the books, the television shows, the movies, the Lego sets, everything I can get my hands on I'm likely to get as soon as I can.  I honestly thought that by now they were surely running out of ideas for things to give to the fans.

Boy was I ever wrong?

This book by Daniel Wallace is absolutely spot on.  If you are a Star Wars fan then this is a treasure trove of information, illustrations and everything in between to grab your attention and keep it there.

Much like its Jedi counterpart, this book pretty much tells the history and formation of the Sith faith and doctrine that Darth Sidious followed and also changed to fit his own needs.

If that sounds something stale and boring, ignore that voice in the back of your head telling you that because this book is the complete opposite but there's so much to tell you about with this one so let's get started.

Firstly, let's talk about the paper.  Yes you read that right.  I love how they made it feel like an old parchment and how they cut the pages differently to show the different sections that were taken by Sidious to create his own manifesto.  It's the little touches like that which make this book feel like an absolute gift to the Star Wars fans out there.

The illustrations absolutely hooked me in.  They were all done in different styles and even down to the doodles in the book, all fitted together to create a cohesive story.  It's the same with the notations as well.  All of those were done in different handwriting styles as if each owner of the book had made their own separate notes about what they were reading.  It was almost as if no matter where your eyes went on to the page, there was something new to look at.  The two constant note makers are Sidious himself and Luke Skywalker, although there were different styles there as well offering little tidbits here and there.

The best part by far was the section on the 'Nightsisters', which then led to some really interesting parts about alchemy, spells and talismans of all sorts.  That, for me, really added a layer to the book and gave a new perspective.

As far as I am concerned, the only downside is that next to the sheer amount of information about the other parts of the Sith belief, there didn't really seem to be much about their unique combat style.  I think that was a real shame but with the rest of the superb information here, that can easily be forgiven.

If you are a Star Wars fan then this is an absolutely essential purchase.  In fact, if you are a fan then why haven't you got this already?

Presentation 4.5/5
Informative 4/5
Recommended 4.5/5
Overall 13/15

Pitch Perfect DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Kay Cannon Based on the Book By Mickey Rapkin
Directed By Jason Moore

Genre
Comedy, Musical, Romance

Cast

Anna Kendrick as Beca
Skylar Astin as Jesse
Ben Platt as Benji
Brittany Snow as Chloe
Anna Camp as Aubrey
Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy
Elizabeth Banks as Gail
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Tommy

Certificate 12

Synopsis

Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.

Special Features
  • None


Review

After the success of 'Glee', there were an absolute glut of movies about glee clubs, singing clubs, choirs and pretty much every other type of singing club there could be.  In fact, it got to the point of complete overkill so when this movie came out, I was a bit hesitant to watch it.

While the trailer looked good, it didn't exactly make me want to rush out to see it.

However, once I sat down with my fiance to watch it I actually found myself really enjoying it.

The story is pretty much a 'by the numbers' type of movie that is so prevalent in this style of movie.  You have a group of people that don't get on with one another, there's the normal love story of they don't like each then they do then you wonder if they will get together after all.  So it's not exactly inspired.

But don't give up on the movie yet.  This is most definitely a case of the performances raising what is quite a safe script in to a movie worth watching.

Anna Kendrick gives a good showing as Beca.  Normally that would be a  quite cliched character but she manages to put her own spin on her and that really makes the character a hell of a lot more interesting.  For once, it was quite a nice change to see a movie where the character doesn't have to make a complete character change to get a person to like her.  Instead Beca stays the opinionated character that she starts out as, she just becomes a little more trusting and that works really well.

The rest of the cast are absolutely hilarious and there are some absolutely brilliant cameo appearances throughout the movie.  Donald Faison, Turk in 'Scrubs', gives a small but very funny appearance as a member of an all male singing group.  Elizabeth Banks, in a minor role not a cameo, had me in hysterics as one of the commentators at the competitions.  Her bitter and cynical comments had me howling with laughter a hell of a lot of times.

How ever, this is most definitely a movie that belongs to Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy.  She gets the best lines and she takes the ball and runs with as the saying goes.  I hadn't heard of her before seeing her in this movie but I'll definitely be checking out more of her stuff as she was by far the funniest part of the movie, especially in the training scenes.

I was a bit disappointed that there were no special features in all honesty.  I would have loved to have seen a behind the scenes about how they performed the incredibly varied songs or even about how they chose the cast but alas, obviously not to be.

All in all, while the script isn't exactly world breaking, it was still very funny and a hell of a lot better than I was expecting it to be.  This was definitely Rebel Wilson's movie, she's worth watching the movie for in fact.  The lack of special features does hurt the disc a bit but that's a minor complaint.

Worth picking up.

Movie 4/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4.5/5
Special Features N/A
Overall 12.5/15

Trevor's World of Sport DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Created, Written and Directed By Andy Hamilton

Genre
Comedy

Cast

Neil Pearson as Trevor Heslop
Paul Reynolds as Sammy Hobbs
Rosalind Ayres as Theresa
Claire Skinner as Meryl
Cosima Shaw as Heidrun
Abdul Salis as Barry
Michael Fenton Stevens as Ralph Benton
Matthew James Thomas as Toby
Andy Hamilton as Dave

Certificate 15

Synopsis

From Andy Hamilton, writer of Drop the Dead Donkey, Bedtime and Outnumbered, comes the very human and very funny comedy series Trevor's World of Sport.

Set in the cut-throat world of sports agents, Neil Pearson is Trevor, decent, honest and desperately struggling to stay afloat in the shark-infested waters of the business, with one of the most ruthless sharks being Trevor's best friend and business partner Sammy (Paul Reynolds).

The hard-working duo are supported by their well-meaning staff: Theresa, an extremely religious personal assistant, Heidrun, their razor-sharp German receptionist, and Barry, their too-sweet-natured office assistant.
In a world that seems to be falling apart around him - his marriage on the rocks, an attempted buyout of the company, a new-hire with ulterior motives - Trevor is struggling to maintain his integrity, his equilibrium and his temper - none of them with much success. And then there are his recurring nightmares...

Special Features
  • Andy Hamilton Interview
  • Andy Hamilton on 'Trevor's World of Sport'
  • Cast Filmographies
  • Picture Gallery

Review

Andy Hamilton has created some of the best comedy shows on television from 'Drop The Dead Donkey', 'Outnumbered' and 'Bedtime' amongst others.

This one, 'Trevor's World of Sport', has long been requested for a DVD release by it's fans and rightfully so.  Full of witty one liners, good characters and satire to the hilt.

However, if you are expecting a laugh a minute style sitcom or something similar then, and let's be honest here, you are absolutely out of luck.

The cast do a superb job with the intelligent writing by Andy Hamilton.  The best of these being Neil Pearson as Trevor.  He really plays the neurotic side of Trevor's personality really well and adds many different layers so what could have been just a cliched character.  Also, it's always nice to see Claire Skinner in something as, even though she doesn't really have a lot to do in the seven episodes here, she is still capable of giving a great performance and is criminally under rated.

One of the best of the characters is the well meaning lady in the office named Theresa.  She always seems to pop up and have some of the best laughs.  That's due to the superb comic timing by Rosalind Ayres and her dead pan delivery of her lines. 

On the down side of the release, the show never really managed to find it's footing.  The intelligent writing from Hamilton is there as are appearances from the man himself as Dave, the cast give good to great performances and there are some great cameo appearances by various sports legends.  Yet for some reason, the show just doesn't take off like it should.  In fact, the best way to describe it would be as hit and miss.

The special features are short but manage to pack in a surprising amount of information and humor in to it's short run time.   The interview with Hamilton and hearing him talk about the show itself is a good addition to the release as the man is a superb comedian and one of the most under rated television writers.  It was good to hear his thoughts on why the show didn't take off a well as he had hoped and talking about the fans that want to bring it back.  It's always nice to find a personal touch like that on a release.

While hilariously funny in places, the show just doesn't seem to gel for me.  I did really love the sheer amount of cameo appearances in the series and Andrew Lincoln's performance as a formula 1 driver was a highlight for me, I just couldn't get in to the series as much as I'd hoped.  Maybe that's down to the fact that it was cancelled after only seven episodes but I'm not sure.

However, we may not have a lot here show wise but what we do have is, for the most part, very funny and to be honest, that's all you really want from a comedy show isn't it?

Show 3/5
Picture 3.5/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 3.5/5
Overall 14/20



'Trevor's World of Sport' is out to buy on the 6th May 2013

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Grimm Fairy Tales: Myths and Legends - Volume 5 Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Troy Brownfield
Art By Joyce Mauriera, Ilias Kyriazis, V. Kenneth Marion, Marco Cosentino,  Josh Hood, Tony Donley
Cover By Marco Cosentino

Genre
Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Synopsis

Baba Yaga and her fellow villains have gathered together the long-lost pieces of the Sunstone of Ra with plans of unleashing an ancient and powerful highborn, Helios, against their enemies and the rest of the world.

The guardian's of the nexus, Samantha, Sela and their fellow falsebloods-in-training must join forces against a highborn that not even their combined powers may be a match for!

Samantha versus Cindy.

Beast versus Erica. Brittany versus Morrigan.

Sela versus Venus.

The Dark One versus Baba Yaga.

Helios versus EVERYONE!

With an ending that you have to see to believe!

Featuring the long-awaited return of one of the most popular characters from the Grimm Universe, this trade paperback culminates over two years worth of stories that have all lead to this moment. The evolution of the Grimm Universe is here and nothing will be the same! 

The Gathering and The Summoning are collected here for the first time in the final story arc of the bestselling Myths and Legends series. Collects Grimm Fairy Tales:

Myths and Legends issues #16, #17, and #22 through #25.

Review

I've always been a massive fan of the Grimm Fairy Tales and when they were turned in to a series of comic books, I was eager to read them.  For the most part, they were really well written and drawn with the characters feeling both fantastical yet realistic at the same time.

I never thought that I would pick up one of the titles and not only be disappointed by it but find it a hard job to read all the way through to the end.

Firstly, it was most definitely the art work that really disappointed me to begin with.  It was nowhere near the quality of the earlier stories.  In fact, and I don't use the world very often, it was very poor.  The best way to describe it would  be that it feels rough and unfinished.

As  for the story, I found it bland and uninspired.  The rest of the issues had been working up to Baba Yaga's plan but yet now it's entering fruition, it seemed so stale and anti climactic.  I did like some of the back ground story lines running next to the main one but there just seemed like there was something missing from this one.  Maybe that's because the rest have been a superb blend of the legends themselves  and action packed interpretations.

The only part I enjoyed was what they did with Venus and the fact that Sela finally got to kick some butt was pretty cool but not enough for this one to not be a disappointment.

Story 2/5
Art 2/5
Overall 4/10

The Secret History of D.B. Cooper Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Brian Churilla
Art By Brian Churilla
Cover By Brian Churilla

Genre
Psychological, Thriller

Synopsis

The most infamous airline hijacker of all time, D.B. Cooper, remains on the FBI’s most-wanted list almost 40 years after the crime.

For the first time, the secret history will be revealed! During the height of the Cold War, a fringe group within the C.I.A. wages a crusade on the deadliest battlefield of all: the mind.

Aided by powerful psychotropic compounds, Cooper assists in a campaign of psychic assassination against the Soviets, but are his government’s motives the same as his own or is his true mission something else entirely? 

Collecting the hit series from visionary cartoonist Brian Churilla (The Anchor), this oversized hardcover offers new insights into Cooper’s multi-faceted quest.

Review

D.B. Cooper is one of the most famous people in American crime history, especially considering he is apparently still at large after jumping out of a hijacked plane with a butt load of money.  Thanks to the fact that his crime is one of the most sensational and infamous in American history there have been many conspiracy theories about how he got away with the crime, where he ended up and a hell of a lot more.  Most have been sensationalist nonsense and some seem very plausible.

Here the cartoonist Brian Churilla, has created one of the weirdest stories based around D.B. Cooper that I have read in a long time.

 If you can suspend your disbelief for a while, this is really good albeit strange in places story.  The idea behind it that Cooper was being used as part of the infamous MK Ultra experiment and getting turning in to an assassin is a good story point.

The way the story unfolds blends fact in to fiction and vice versa in such a way that you end the book not sure of what you have just read.  I kind of liked that.  It made me want to read it again to see if there was anything else that I may have missed.  Churillo really does combine the scenes that are happening in the 'real world' with the 'drug altered' scenes brilliantly.  I loved the 'drug altered' scenes the most because of the simple fact that because they seemed so out there that you could read them again and again seeing new things each time.  The best of these is the one eared teddy that Cooper talks to because like in 'Happy!', the idea seems silly on paper but works in practice brilliantly.

That said, sometimes the rest of the story just didn't gel for me.  Like  I said earlier, it was very well written yet it the parts didn't add up to the total I wanted them to.  It's one of those sorts of things where you can feel like there is something that just doesn't feel right but you can't place your finger on it.

The art is a bit like the story.  It looks superb and works brilliantly well in places but not in others.  I would say that it's hit and miss but that would be too harsh a comment.   The art work is good all through the graphic novel but some of the panels just didn't hook me in like they're meant to.

If you can suspend your disbelief for a bit then you will definitely enjoy this rather unique and sometimes bizarre title.  It's well worth picking up as a 'something different' title.

Story 4/5
Art 3.5/5
Overall 7.5/10

Mage Vs Temple of Lies Live Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Type: Concert

Venue: The Pi Bar, Leicester

Synopsis

The ultimate double headline face off!  Mage collide with Temple of Lies but who will survive the onslaught!

Review

In this double headline gig, we were treated to not one but two headliners in the shape of the bands Mage and Temple of Lies.

First up was Mage.  A band with a good sound that sounded like a bit of a mix of stoner rock meets Metallica via a bit of Megadeth.  Their set was well filled with some very good songs but sadly the sound let their performance down a little bit.

The bass was up incredibly loud but even though it made the bass sound incredible, it tended to drown out the singer in a few places and that's a real shame because he has a fantastic voice.

That said however, Mage really did have a great presence to them while on the stage.  They're not a 'jump up and down' style band, instead letting their music do the talking for them.  When the music is as good as theirs, that's a great approach to have.  With Mage, you know what you are going to get.  Some loud and heavy rock with intelligent lyrics.


Other than the minor sound problem, their performance was a really polished one with some great songs.  I would definitely go and see them again but hopefully with the sound a little better.

Next up was the band Temple of Lies.  I have to admit that while I'd had people recommend them to me, I'd never actually heard them play before.

Temple of Lies are one of those bands that can best be described by using the word varied.  They don't seem to stick to any one particular style.  Instead they seemingly take all the bits they like from other genres and mix them all up to create their songs.

Their songs have a really great heavy sound combined with a 'Stuck Mojo' style funk running just under the surface.  This is definitely underpinned by the superb guitar work by John Scranney and the bass by Simon Mitchell.

One of the major strong points of the band was the 'Sepultura-esque' drumming by James Sereda-Barsby.  At times his drumming had a funk style feel and other times a raw tribal one.  But I have to admit that it was one member that truly turned me in to a fan.


The front man, Simon Shaw, has a massive stage presence to him.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that at times he had fans eating out of the palm of his hand.  If there were any people in the crowd that weren't fans of Temple of Lies before, I'm sure that this performance would have won them over.  At one point Shaw was walking through the crowd, went to the bar, grabbed a drink then came back without missing a beat.

All in all, this was an absolutely great night.  Two very good bands, although the strength of Mage's songs were slightly lost by the bass sound drowning out the singer every now and then.  On this night I'd definitely have to give Temple of Lies the edge though but both bands are well worth checking out, especially in a live setting.

Show 4/5
Crowd 3.5/5
Recommended 4/5
Overall 11.5/15

For more information on Temple of Lies click here!

For more information on Mage click here!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ripped: A Jack the Ripper Time Travel Thriller By Shelly Dickson Carr Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Shelly Dickson Carr

Genre
Thriller, Science-Fiction, Horror

Synopsis

After her parents were killed, Katie left Boston to live with Grandma Cleaves in London. It still seems like a bad dream. But she's doing okay, even making new friends.

A bit of a history buff, Katie likes living in a city where so much has happened, likes walking the same streets as the authors of Dracula and the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. This cool, bookish teen is working on her British accent and even learning some Cockney rhyming slang from handsome Toby.

When a museum visit with friends turns funky, Katie finds herself in a long, uncomfortable dress, wearing a ridiculous hat. What happened to her jeans and high-top sneakers? Where's her iPhone? It's London, 1888. Smart, gutsy Katie realizes she's here to stop a serial killer. She can't bring her parents back, but maybe she can save these women. Katie 's read about the Ripper, knows the names of his victims, even knows where and when they were killed. She's watched her fair share of CSI, knows about profiling and forensics. Surely she knows enough to save the lives of his victims. But how will changing history affect the lives of those she loves most?

Review

I am a massive Jack the Ripper fan and love all the various theories and ideas behind the identity of the legendary murderer.  I love the fictional accounts such as 'From Hell' and all the factual ones as well.  It just seems to be one of those mysteries that  seems to never want to pass.

When I saw this book was available and combined that legend with time travel, I thought I was in nerd heaven.

I must admit that while it was a little hit and miss in places, this is still a really good addition to the already vast library of books out there.

The characters for the most part are very well written.  They take a little while to get going, especially in the case of the main character, Katie, but they are pretty well done.

At the start of the book, Katie comes across as just mean and self centered instead of grieving but while the story goes on, it's almost as if the writer became more comfortable with the character herself.

Carr combines the Jack the Ripper and time travel parts of the story do combine pretty well.  I loved the descriptive writing after Katie had gone back in time.  It felt like Carr had found her favourite part of the story and really let fly because that's exactly the point in the book where the story went from being merely interesting to being really good.

The only problem with the writing I really had was the fact that nearly all the action came at the end of the book itself.  That made it feel like the action had been put in at the final minute to try to jazz the story up a little bit.  That's a real shame because I'd liked the slow and subtle approach the story had been taking up until then.

All in all, while there are a couple of disappointing moments, this is still a book worth picking up and giving a try.  The narrative flows well through the story and Carr makes good use of the time travel part of the story, even making it seem to be both completely different from the rest of the book but still managing to gel with it at the same time.

Story 3.5/5
Characters 3.5/5
Recommended 3.5/5
Overall 10.5/15

Collateral - Dear John: Volume 1 Issue 2 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Matt Nichols
Art By Lee Taylor
Cover By Lee Taylor

Genre
Drama, Psychological

Synopsis

A family is at breaking point after the father lost his job thanks to the building he worked in being destroyed during yet another superhero battle.

Suddenly their little boy comes home and announces that his friend Stuart has been taken away.

Review

'Collateral - Dear John', like I said in my review of the first issue, is one of the most unique comics that I've read in a very long time.  There are so many different layers  to the story that you most definitely get rewarded with multiple readings.

This issue is no different.  Following straight on  from the first issue, this one is incredibly character driven.  On the surface it just looks like a family talking.  If you were to think of it as just that then you would be missing out on a very multi-faceted story indeed.

Each character is completely unique and each seems to have a story to tell.  I'm loving the slow reveal of little details here and there about them.  It's kind of like watching a puzzle unfold and Nichols writing really brings that to life.  I've read this issue 4 times so far and each time I've found something new to gently push us towards issue 3. 

Another thing about the writing I like is that you really start to be enveloped by the story and feel like a real part of it.  In fact, it's so strong that you feel like you're actually part of the family involved in the story.

Much the same as issue one, Lee Taylor's art here is absolutely spot on.  Just recently I've been discovering a lot of new artists that I will be watching carefully and Taylor is most definitely one of those.  His stark but gripping style really pulls you in to the story.  In much the same way as Oeming uses the little details to put definition to the stories in 'Powers', that's Taylor's role here.  He really has a skill of picking out the perfect detail to put emphasis on the important things in the scene without beating the reader over the head with too many details.  In fact, it's kind of like he's gently nudging you in to noticing the little things that make you want to grab issue 3 and I, for one, will most definitely be picking up the next issue.

This continues to be one of the most unique and gripping titles I've read in a long time and I seriously can't wait to see where the story is going to be taken next.

Story 4.5/5
Art 4.5/5
Overall 9/10

For more information on the comic book click here!

Powers Bureau Issue 3 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By Michael Avon Oeming
Cover By Michael Avon Oeming

Genre
Superhero, Action

Synopsis

Another blockbuster chapter in the Eisner Award-winning cops and capes epic! 

Now that all powers cases are federal cases, agents Walker and Pilgrim must learn to live by the new rules. 

But how do you obey the rules when the bad guys ignore them?

Review

After the slightly confusing ending to the second issue of 'Powers Bureau', I was hoping that the epic series by Bendis and Oeming would be back on track with issue 3.

I was most definitely more impressed with this one.  While the first two issues have been good, this one is by far the best of them.

The one thing I really like from the 'Powers' stories is that they don't let their characters get stale or boring, instead always making sure they grow emotionally.  As always the dialogue is delivered with such vivacity that you can't help but be drawn in to their world.

I have to admit that I honestly found moving Pilgrim and Walker was going to be a 'jumping the shark' moment but they've handled it really well.  If anything, it's improved the stories and the characters.  Also one of the things that amazes me is  the simple fact that despite the title being around since 2000, the characters always seem fresh and exciting.

That's definitely the case here in issue 3.  The case is moving on in leaps and bounds with some massively important moments that really blow the case open without giving too much away.  That really is one of Bendis's major strengths on this title.  He knows when to give the big reveal and when to tease the reader in to thinking they know the answers before throwing them a curve ball.

The art, as always, by Oeming is absolutely spot on.  He knows these characters so well that they look positively fantastic each time I read a new issue.  It's almost as if he can draw these guys in his sleep.  Oeming's eye for the little details is what always works superbly well on 'Powers' and that's no different here.  The facial expressions, the surroundings and more are all used to underscore the details that all add up to making 'Powers' one of the best titles out there.

Well worth picking up.

Story 4/5
Art 4.5/5
Overall 8.5/10

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Angel and Faith: Volume 3 - Family Reunion Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Christos Gage
Art By Rebekah Isaacs ('Family Reunion'), Lee Garbett ('The Hero of His Own Story: Part One') and David Lapham ('The Hero of His Own Story: Part Two')
Cover By Steve Morris

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

Angel’s quest to resurrect Giles has brought an old friend to London—Willow!

Tensions run high as these two confront the loss of Giles, but before blood can be shed, Willow has a proposition. She’ll help Angel on his quest if he’ll help her find magic. To do that, she’ll need Connor to get them into Quor’toth, a hell dimension where magic runs deep.

Collects issues #11–#15.

Review

 I was really looking forward to this release as it was written by Christos Gage, writer of 'Avengers Academy'.  I've always find his writing to be exciting but at the same time quite character driven and that's most definitely the case here.

The story itself wouldn't have been out of place in either the 'Buffy' television show or the 'Angel' television show.  I'll admit that I hadn't been keeping all that up to date with the going on's in the 'Buffy' universe but this story did a great job of catching me up pretty quickly despite the fact that I had missed some pretty major changes.

Gage really manages to stay true to the characters created by Joss Whedon, while at the same time putting his own spin on the people we all know and love as fans.  I'll definitely be finding more of Gage's work because each time I read his stories, they just seem to get better each time.

However, the art really lets this story down big time for the most part.  It comes across as quite simplistic in places.  It's not awful artwork, far from it but it just doesn't seem suited to the story.  It's a dark story with some fabulous character development but the art just doesn't live up to the writing and that's a real shame.  It redeems itself slightly near the end when David Lapham takes over the art duties on the second part of 'Hero in His Own Story' but by then, it's already been quite a let down.

For 'Buffty' and 'Angel' fans, there are a lot of things to really like.  The characters we love are all there and they're in a very exciting, action packed story full of major developments character wise.  It's definitely worth looking past the art and enjoying the story itself by Christos Gage.

Story 4/5
Art 2.5/5
Overall 6.5/10

V For Vendetta Graphic Novel Review

Review By Dean Calcutt

Written By Alan Moore
Art By David Lloyd
Cover By David Lloyd

Genre
Action, Thriller

Synopsis

A new trade paperback edition of the graphic novel that inspired the hit movie! A powerful story about loss of freedom and individuality, V FOR VENDETTA takes place in a totalitarian England following a devastating war that changed the face of the planet.

In a world without political freedom, personal freedom and precious little faith in anything comes a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask who fights political oppressors through terrorism and seemingly absurd acts.

It's a gripping tale of the blurred lines between ideological good and evil. This new trade paperback edition of the classic series from writer Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) and artist David Lloyd (HELLBLAZER) collects the epic miniseries.

Review

This is the book that changed the way I viewed the world, it taught me that every action has a consequence, it is probably the most important book I have ever had the pleasure of reading (thanks Uncle Paul).

Set over 3 books, book 1  Europe after the Reign, starts in what was then a futuristic 1997, after a nuclear war, which destroyed most of the world but left England  in a totalitarian state, a 16 year old Evey Hammond is going to go out in the night to earn more money, despite there being a curfew in place, she gets picked up by a group of Fingermen (plain clothes state police) who are about to attack her when V appears and rescues her.

What then follows in at its simplest a damn good story of revenge and love, but the closer you look at this book the more it reveals.

Excellently realised characters really leap off the page at you, not everyone is nasty but they all have a role to play in V's plan for revenge

Book 2, This vicious cabaret, follows V attacking the establishment and starting to prepare his successor

Book 3, The land of do as you please,  Things come full circle and the ending although shocking makes perfect sense,

The artwork is beautiful, and coloured in pastels the story by Alan Moore is complex and multi-threaded, you need to put work in to get the most out but this book more than repays you.

I first read this in 1987 when I was 17 I'm now 42 and still don't know who V is!

Story 4/5
Art 5/5
Overall 9/10

Doctor Who: Complete Series 2 DVD Review

Review By Dean Calcutt

Executive Producer: Russell T. Davies

Genre
Science Fiction

Cast

David Tennant as The Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith
Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler
Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith

Certificate 12

Synopsis

All 14 second-series episodes of re-launched BBC television sci-fi classic, written chiefly by Russell T. Davies and starring David Tennant as the latest incarnation of the legendary Time Lord.

In this series, the tenth Doctor, takes companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) to New Earth and struggles to overcome the effects of regeneration.

In the opening Christmas episode London is deluged by Santa Claus impersonators and Christmas trees intent on malice. Mankind is threatened by a planetary invasion and there's only the Prime Minister to battle it out.

Episodes are: 'The Christmas Invasion,' 'New Earth,' 'Tooth And Claw,' 'School Reunion,' 'The Girl In The Fireplace,' 'Rise Of The Cybermen,' 'TheAge of Steel,' 'The Idiot's Lantern,' 'The Impossible Planet,' 'The Satan Pit,' 'Love & Monsters,' 'Fear Her,' 'Army Of Ghosts' and 'Doomsday.'

Special Features
  • 'Children In Need' Special
  • Billie's Video Diaries
  • In Vision Commentary on 'The Christmas Invasion', 'The Girl in the Fireplace', 'The Age of Steel', 'The Impossible Planet' and 'Doomsday'
  • Audio Commentary on All Episodes
  • Audio Descriptive on All Episodes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Out Takes


Review

Series 2 and we have a new Doctor (David Tennant) who has some big shoes to fill.

And fill them he does, superbly in fact, his doctor is kinder and more approachable than Ecclestone's but has a darker side to him. You can see that DT loves the role and brings a much more energetic Doctor to the screen.

His tenure started with the first (and best) Xmas special, 'The Christmas Invasion.'

Set straight after 'Parting of the Ways' a newly regenerated (and unstable ) Doctor takes Rose home for Xmas and then falls unconscious just as the Sycorax invade earth leaving Rose to fend for herself, which she does and ends up on the Sycorax ship with the Tardis, suddenly in possibly a moment that makes everyone cheer, the Tardis translation circuits start working and you know the Doc is about to make his appearance.

And DT nails it from minute one, a fantastic performance with possibly the best question ever asked, "Am I ginger?").

This episode bodes well for the series future and is how Xmas specials should have been, add to this the first mention of Torchwood and this is one not too miss.

So onto series 2 proper, and it is another triumph with only 2 duff episodes (more on these later) it is easily as good as series 1 and the ending brings a tear to the hardest of hearts

Standout episodes

School Reunion

Sarah Jane Smith, K9 and Rose as a dinner lady, what more could you want? Chips? It's got those as well

Girl in the Fireplace

The Doctor falls in love with MadamĂȘ du Pompadour in 18th century France. Explores long distance relationships with heart wrenching ending

Impossible Planet/Satan Pit

New Who does old style base story and aces it, excellent cast top effects and Ood, lots of Ood

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

Ghosts are appearing all over the world but what are they? We finally meet Torchwood plus the saddest ending ever


Love & Monsters/Fear her

Sorry to say but these are the two worst episodes ever. I refuse to watch them again. Poor story, waste of a stellar cast in L&M. Trust me AVOID

With 2 exceptions another brilliant season RTD's  love of Who shines through

Scores

Film 3.5/5 ('Love & Monsters' and 'Fear Her' lose points)
Picture 5/5
Sound 5/5
Extras 5/5
Overall 18.5/20

Severed Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
Art By Attila Futaki
Cover By Attila Futaki

Genre
Horror, Psychological

Synopsis

Eisner Award winner SCOTT SNYDER (Batman, Swamp Thing, American Vampire), Scott Tuft & NYT Best-Selling-Artist Attila Futaki (The Lightning Thief) bring you the complete collected hardcover of the scariest horror comic of the year, SEVERED.

1916. A man haunts the roads; a man with sharp teeth and a hunger for flesh. When 12 year-old Jack Garron runs away from home, he'll see how quickly the American Dream becomes a nightmare.

Collecting all 7 issues of the critically acclaimed series, and featuring never-before-seen bonus material, this hardcover deluxe version is sure to be a classic.


Review

Scott Snyder appears to be the latest comic book darling that can do no wrong at the moment and as such, fans are jumping all over his work to see what he is going to do next.

Does this title deserve that sort of attention?

Well, yes and no.

While I think that Snyder is a functional writer and can do very well depending on the story  that he's writing, this one just didn't do anything for me.  In fact, it came across as a bit safe and a bit bland and that's a real shame because there was a mass of potential for this tale.

The problem with this story is a simple one really.  The subtle writing does work well in places but that's part of the trouble.

Story wise it's built up very well with some good twists and turns but the ending falls really flat for me.  This graphic novel is a case of the build up being much better than the pay off and that really hurts the final story.

There's a really good cinematic feel to the artwork and it comes across as a bit like how the movie adaptation of 'Road To Perdition' looked.  It had a really authentic 'old time' look to it and the way the artist made good use of the settings and the shadows worked brilliantly.  However, the story didn't really give Futaki a chance to shine.  I know Futaki's work is very good and has a realistic feel to it but while here it was drawn really well, the story itself just didn't give the work a chance to come alive.

All in all, this isn't a bad story but it's not a great one either and after hearing all the good things about how good Snyder was, I had massively high hopes for this.  Sadly, it was a case of the hype hurting the story because Snyder played it quite safe with this story.  The art however is very good and atmospheric and that really bumps  up the quality of the story itself.

This one is definitely a case of it could have been so much better.

Story 3.5/5
Art 3.5/5
Overall 7/10

  

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Alpha Gods: Betrayal Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Ian Sharman
Art By Ezequiel Pineda and Mauro Barbosa
Cover By Azim Akberali

Genre
Superhero, Action

Synopsis

The Alpha Gods stage an assault on a secret laboratory to save a young girl from an evil organization's clandestine schemes. Who is Nyssa? And what is her connection to the Alpha God's leader, Paladin?

In the year 2086 humanity faces a new threat, Extra Humans. The government is struggling to cope with the growing number of mutants, aliens and supernatural beings who are living amongst us. People are beginning to panic and so, in 2050, the Department for Extra Human Affairs was established with a remit to try and contain the problem. By 2086 the situation has escalated, so they have formed a new rapid response strike force, the Alpha Gods. Who better to police the Extra Human community than Extra Humans themselves?

Review

For the last couple of years, the superhero team up has been pretty much done to death.  Take the 'X-Men' and the 'Avengers' for example.  Since the movies hit big at the cinema, there have been so many different sets of teams that it's next to impossible to keep track of who is where and why, so I was a bit weary when I was giving this release to review and hoped that it wasn't just another team up story.

I was very wrong.

Yes this is a team up story so to speak but what we have here is a superb first issue for a title that, even after only one issue, I'm clambering to get to the next one.

The issue starts with a bang when the team has to attack and break in to a compound to rescue a young girl.  What we then have are some superbly drawn action sequences but it's not just all fight, fight, fight.

Hell no.

Instead thanks to the brilliant writing of  Ian Sharman, we have a team that does work together really well but there seems to be something bubbling under the surface.  There also seems to be some tension between some of the characters as well but it's done in such a way that you really want  to know more about it.  Sharman hasn't beat you over the head with it, instead he's given you just enough information to whet your appetite and hook you in.

It's the same with one of the characters going up against the Alpha Gods team itself.  I can't wait to see what her connection is to the team.  There are a lot of hints and a little snippet of a back story and I definitely want to see where it's going to be taken next.

The art for this debut issue is superb.  The best way I can think of to describe it is that it looks a little like the art in the 'Avengers Academy' series but with more bite and impact to it.  Pineda and Barbosa work superbly together and each others work definitely compliments the others.  I'm quite eager to see more of their work, hopefully in this title, and any others that they've done.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the cover by Azim Akberali.  I'd not seen any of Akberali's cover work before but I'll be checking out more of it after seeing this one.

All in all, a good character driven and exciting debut issue of 'Alpha Gods: Betrayal' from Ian Sharman and his team.  If the other issues are this good then we're going to be in for a treat.

Story 4/5
Art 4/5
Overall 8/10

For more information on Orang Utan Comics and their various releases click here

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Strain: Volume 2 Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By David Lapham
Art By Mike Huddleston and Dan Jackson
Cover By E.M. Geist

Genre
Action, Horror

Synopsis

A vast conspiracy has made it nearly impossible for the CDC’s Dr. Ephraim Goodweather to convince the world that there’s a vampiric epidemic spreading across Manhattan. His only hope is to go head to head with the ancient evil responsible for the wave of bloodthirsty vamps set to drown the Big Apple . . . but can the strain be stopped?!

Review

After reading the trilogy of books by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro, when I heard this was going to be a graphic novel as well I was very excited.   The novels themselves had a real sense of urgency to them alongside a feel of claustrophobia and dread.

But do the graphic novels have that as well?

Well, yes and no.

I can't honestly fault the writing style of David Lapham here.  He was a very good choice as the writer for this title.  He takes the theme and style of the original books and recreates it brilliantly here yet at the same time keeping his own signature style intact.

The feeling of claustrophobia and dread that ran through the novels is most definitely present and correct here.  If anything, it's more apparent due to being in a graphic novel.  Lapham keeps the dialogue in short and snappy bursts without losing any of the impact of the novels, which takes a lot of talent to do.

Character wise, Lapham has done a brilliant job of bringing Del Toro and Hogan's characters to life.  He keeps their personalities intact and even manages to improve upon the character of Doctor Goodweather in places by making him even more paranoid without making it melodramatic.

Sadly, the art lets the release down quite a bit.  The actual story lends itself to being quite dirty and grimy yet the art here just doesn't do that justice.  If anything, it comes across as a bit bland in places.  Don't get me wrong, the art isn't bad, in fact it's pretty good.  It's just that their style just doesn't fit the story for me.  I would have liked an artist that had a darker and grittier feel to his or her work to illustrate this but maybe that's just a personal preference on my part.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cover by E.M. Geist.  That's the kind of art that would have looked awesome throughout the actual graphic novel itself.

All in all, story wise this is a superb adaptation of a great novel.  The characters are well written and there's a fantastic feeling of dread running through the story.  Sadly the art, while not awful, just doesn't fit the story for me and that took me out of the story, which is a real shame.

Story 4.5/5
Art 3/5
Overall 7.5/10

Monkey King: Volume 3 Journey to the West Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Wei Dong Chen
Art By Chao Peng
Cover By Chao Peng

Genre
Adventure

Synopsis

Sun Wu Kong, punished by Buddha centuries before, has spent five hundred years buried under Five-Finger Mountain when he encounters San Zang, a priest headed west in search of Buddhist scriptures.  On the Goddess of Mercy's instructions, Wu Kong frees himself and assists the priest on a journey to the west that will be fraught with peril. But San Zang soon learns that trouble won't come only in the form of dragons or bandits; it will come from the violent and impetuous monkey who is now his companion.

Review

I've always been a fan of the Monkey King stories / legends and even though they have come in many shapes, sizes, forms and styles they have always been entertaining.

That's most definitely the case here as well.

JR*Comics have done an absolutely superb job with this release.  The story is beautifully written and set out in such a way that it flows.

Writing wise, the story is superb.  I really loved just how Wei Dong Chen brings the familiar characters to live and feel fresh and exciting.   The dialogue is precise and really feels like you are just sat there watching the story unfold.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that this is the best version of the Monkey King stories that I have seen in a long time.  The way the writing brings Sun Wu Kong, the monkey of the title, to life is spot on.  His personality really flies off the page and you just can't take your eyes off of the character any time he is the page.

The art work by Chao Peng is definitely suited to this title.  In fact, it fits the story like a nice, comfy sweater.  You can most definitely tell that he is a student of Chen and can see his influences all over his work yet at the same time he has his own style too.  It's a great mix of the two and really makes the panels eye catching and exciting.

This is definitely worth picking up for fans of the 'Monkey King' legends and is a really good adaptation of the famous tales.

Story 4/5
Art 4/5
Overall 8/10

An Interview With Katerina Pavlakis, Producer and Programmer For The 'Making Tracks' Concert Seasons


We here at Curiosity of a Social Misfit are proud to have Katerina Pavlakis, producer and programmer for the 'Making Tracks' seasons of concerts and Director of KAPA Productions pop in to talk to Patrick Challis about the wonderfully eclectic concerts they put on.

PC:  To someone not familiar with Making Tracks, how would you describe yourselves?

KP:  Making Tracks is a 'travelling concert series' - a season of concerts aiming to bring a varied programme of world music in all its forms out of London and into regional venues. Touring is complex and expensive, and not many artists get the opportunity to tour in the UK and therefore people living outside London often don't get a chance to experience some of the wonderful music coming from around the globe. Making Tracks aims to change that.

PC:  How do you chose the musicians who appear at the concerts?

KP:  That is a rather difficult question, as there is not set 'procedure' for programming the Making Tracks seasons. It happens somewhere between looking for first class musicianship, original style, a taste for the unexpected and keeping the range and variety as wide as possible. We would like people to experience all the many different 'sounds' that world music can have, from almost classical to hot and groovy, from big and energetic bands to small and intimate ensembles.

PC:  You're known for  the sheer variety of musicians that you work with.  Is there a dream musician you would like to work with?

KP:  I don't think I could pin point one single musician or band that is the one dream artists. There are so so many wonderful artists out there, so much brilliant music, that I only really wish we could put on more tours each year, and get more people interested and enthusiastic about being open and curious to experiencing music they may not necessarily have heard about before.  

PC:  You're at the end of Season 3 of your shows.  What have been the highlights of the seasons so far?

KP:  Each tour and each artists are brilliant and unique in their own way, so again, it is really impossible to pick a favourite. The season started with Krar Collective, a three-piece Ethiopian band based in London that have the punch of a whole orchestra. Melingo from Argentina must be one of the most theatrical performers out there; describing his music as 'punk tango poetry' is not a PR gimmick but actually quite accurate. Earlier this year we had the Yiddish Twist Orchestra on tour, who not only have a genius name, but also play an irresistible  mix of Latin-klezmer-ska-jazz that got them raving responses from the audience. Last but not least the current tour features the delightful and ingenious Johanna Juhola from Finland, and her truly colourful band Reaktori.

PC:  The amount of shows you put on is massive but do you have any funny stories to tell our readers stemming from any of these?

KP:  Funny stories happen all the time,  but they are often only funny from an insiders' point of view, i.e. for those that actually spend hours and hours every day sitting in that tour bus, so it's quite difficult to recount them.

We once had a suitcase full of costumes get lost somewhere between planes on the way to the UK; the costumes were lost for the duration of the tour, but the suitcase actually turned up in London 8 months later, believe it or not!

PC:  What do your fans have to look forward to from the upcoming Season 4 of concerts? 

KP:  We think we have put together a great programme for the next season, and quite wide ranging too, even if it has a bit of an African slant. First on will be a Brazilian duo on piano & percussion: Adewale& Taubkin play their own take own experimental, jazz-tinged take from bossa nova to samba and beyond. In November we bring over kora master Ballake Sissoko from Mali and his 4 piece band. He has played with many a famous name before (from Taj Mahal to Ludovico Einaudi, and from Sting to Jools Holland); his own music is quietly assured and softly powerful. In spring 2014 we are very proud to have been able to book the rising stars from Zimbabwe, Mokoomba, a young band full of explosive energy and a real passion for what they do. Completing the season is Indian slide guitar maestro, Debashish Bhattacharya, a true musical traveller who has been weaving many influences into a glittering  musical career of over 25 years. 

PC:  Many thanks for joining us here today.  It's been a pleasure.

Making Tracks 2013-2014 Tour Dates

Adriano Adewale and Benjamin Taubkin
From subtle to sumptuous
on piano and percussion
On Tour: 26 September 2013 - 10 October 2013

Ballake Sissoko - At Peace
Classical soundscapes of African beauty
On Tour: 20 November 2013  - 1 December 2013

Mokoomba
Rising stars from Zimbabwe:
Electrifying, intoxicating, irresistible!
On Tour: 30 March 2014 - 12 April 2014

Debashish Bhattacharya
Global adventures on a slide guitar!
On Tour: 7 - 18 May 2014

For more information their website can be found here 
For their official Facebook page click here   

Doctor Who: Complete Series One DVD Review

Review By Dean Calcutt

Executive Producer: Russell T. Davies

Genre
Science Fiction

Cast

Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith
Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler

Certificate 12

Synopsis

Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is wise and funny, cheeky and brave. An alien and a loner (it's difficult keeping up with friends when your day job involves flitting through time and space), his detached logic gives him a vital edge when the world's in danger. But when it comes to human relationships, he can be found wanting. That's why he needs new assistant Rose.

Rose (Billie Piper) is a shop-girl from the present day. From the moment they meet, the Doctor and Rose are soulmates. They understand and complement each other. As they travel together through time, encountering new adversaries, the Doctor shows her things beyond imagination. She starts out as an innocent, unfettered by worldly concerns. But she ends up an adventurer who, by the end of the series, can never go home again...

Special Features
  • Audio commentary on every episode, some of which feature Russell T. Davies, Billie Piper, John Barrowman, Mark Gatiss and Simon Callow 
  • 'On Set With Billie': Billie Piper's video diary 
  • 'Waking The Dead': Mark Gatiss' video diary 
  • 'Destroying The Lair' featurette  
  • Mike Tucker's Mocks Of Balloons' featurette 
  • 'Designing Doctor Who' featurette  
  • Laying Ghosts - The Origins Of The Unquiet Dead' featurette 
  • 'Deconstructing Big Ben' featurette  
  • 'The Adventures Of Captain Jack' featurette
  • BBC Breakfast interview with Christopher Eccleston
  • 'Making Doctor Who' with Russell T. Davies  
  • Exclusive 'Doctor Who Confidential' disc featuring behind the scenes footage from 'The Christmas Invasion' 
  • Collector's booklet including an introduction from Russell T. Davies  
  • Trailers

Review

Let me say from the off that I am a huge RTD and Ecclestone fan so when I heard that they were getting together to reimagine one of my all time fave shows I was more than a little excited, but did they succeed?

Most definitely yes!

In 1989 doctor who was old,tired and needed a rest. In mid 90's America took a crack at it, it wasn't bad (had a great doctor) but it didn't lead to a series. This time however we had been promised 13 episodes so signs were promising.

New who hit the ground running with a great title sequence and rousing orchestral theme score. RTD had made several big changes (the doc is now the last time lord) but they all work, this is an outstanding premiere season.

Stand out episodes are

Rose.
Starting the whole thing from a companions pov and showing family is inspired,

Fathers Day
Heart wrenching tale of love

Dalek
Shows new side to the doctor, and is still best episode of Who ever

Empty Child/Doctor Dances
Steven Moffat, Captain Jack, zombies, WW2, Are you my mummy? Brilliant story, outstanding cast, unfaultable

Boom Town
A really sweet character piece(which means opps we've run out of budget) about consequences, worth watching for the restaurant scene alone

Parting of the Ways
And so it ends the way it had too. I've decided not to say what happens to avoid ruining it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it makes sense from pov of the doctors character

Overall a brilliant series, you won't regret watching it.

Show 4/5
Picture 5/5
Sound 5/5
Special Features 5/5
Overall 19/20

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Ultraviolet: The Complete Series - Collectors Edition DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written and Directed By Joe Ahearne

Genre
Horror, Science Fiction

Cast

Jack Davenport as Detective Sergeant Michael Colefield
Susannah  Harker as Dr. Angela March
Idris Elba as Vaughan Rice
Philip Quast as Father Pearse J. Harman
Colette Brown as Kirsty
Fiona Dolman as Frances
Thomas Lockyer as Jacob
Stephen Moyer as Jack

Certificate 15

Synopsis

All six episodes of the supernatural thriller.

They look like us. they act like us. For centuries vampires have co-existed with humans. Until now....

Now mankind has the ability to destroy itself, and the vampires need to take control of their threatened food supply. CIB - an elite government force has been formed to combat the threat. But when eternal life is on offer... no one is beyond temptation. 

Special Feature
  • Creating 'Ultraviolet' Featurette
  • Casting 'Ultraviolet' Featurette
  • Directing 'Ultraviolet' with Joe Ahearne
  • 'Ultraviolet' Tech
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • TV Spots, Trailers and Stills Gallery

Review

'Ultraviolet' was a British show from 1998 that for some reason just didn't seem to take off on the broadcasting channel despite the fact that it was an intelligent vampire horror with characters that were well written and well grounded despite the horrific things happening around them.

Here that intelligent writing  really keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The slow and deliberate pace of the episodes give the viewer a chance to get to know the characters and their motives and that really raises the television show up to a much higher quality.

The directing by Hearne really gives the show it's gritty and downtrodden feel.  I loved how grimy and dirty the show looked.  In fact, it really felt like the director used that theme throughout the show as if it were another character.

Cast wise there are some superb members that do a really good job with their portrayals of the characters and with the intelligent dialogue.  Jack Davenport and Idris Elba are by far the best of the very strong cast, giving memorable performances that the viewer will really get behind.

The special features here are fantastic and even includes a brand new retrospective for the fans to really sink their teeth in to.  Sorry, I couldn't resist it.

All in all this is an absolutely essential purchase if you want to see intelligent television programming and if you are a fan of vampires when they used to be scary and not just sparkly.

Superb.

Movie 4.5/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 4/5
Overall 16.5/20

Available to buy 22nd of  April 2013

Where Do The Animals Go When It Rains? By Janet S. Crown Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Janet S. Crown
Illustrated By Daron Rosenberg

Genre
Educational, Nature, Children's

Synopsis

Where Do the Animals Go When It Rains? was conceptualized after years of imaginary story telling every night at bedtime.

Picking an animal together, the author would tuck her children into bed and create a story where the animals lived and what their world was like all through a childs eye. Since most animals live outside, Janet and her kids would make up rhymes about their surroundings and what happens to the animals when it would rain. The end result is her beautifully crafted book with illustrations by Daron Rosenberg.

'Where Do the Animals Go When It Rains?' explores the following themes: 1. The myriad of weather and the effects on animals with climate change 2. Imagination has no boundaries 3. Reading with children is the best commonality and connector for all ages 4. Learning about animals from all over the world 5. Bonding time with child/parent

"The book was created with my kids as a bedtime story based on their curiosities about animals what happens to them during certain weather conditions," says Crown. "I wanted the illustrations to be comforting, fun and engaging while inviting questions and thought."

Review

This short but incredibly sweet children's book by Janet S. Crown is an absolute treasure of a book.  Considering the short length of the book, the writer manages to fit a hell of a lot in to the story itself.

While the rhyme scheme does labor a little at times, that doesn't affect the quality of the story.  In fact the story itself is beautiful in it's simplicity but is thought provoking for the little ones while sounding like a fun little tale about what happens to certain animals when it rains.

You really can tell that it was written after telling the rhymes and stories to the authors own children as the flow of the book really grips a child's imagination until the end and even afterwards.  When I read this to my young son, he absolutely loved it.  He loved to ask questions about the animals in the stories, about here they lived and loads more.

The illustrations are gorgeous and really fired my sons imagination.  They also wouldn't look out of place in a frame on the wall of a child's bedroom.  I had great fun having my son point out the animals, hearing my son talk about where the animals themselves live and much more.

This is most definitely worth picking up.  I've had a hell of a lot of fun reading this to my son and he's enjoyed every moment of it as well as it being incredibly educational.  The writer has packed a lot of love and information in to a really short length and I for one, will definitely carry on reading this to my lad.

Story 4/5
Characters 4/5
Recommended 4/5
Overall 12/15

For more information about the book click here


"When it rain, they get wet.  They have my Fireman Sam umbrella?"

The Undergrounds: Everything Exhumed Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By James Ninness, Marcel Losada, Michael Drace Fountain, Joe Pezzula,  DW Johnson, Shannon Forrey, Ryan Darrow and Eric Jennings
Art By Daniel Touchet
Cover By Daniel Touchet

Genre
Comedy

Synopsis

Collecting both hilarious seasons of the cult webcomic! What happens when monsters get day jobs? Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, Mummy, Wolfman, Van Helsing, Azazel, Rob-Ott, and Zombies all find themselves in the employ of a coffee shop and then a life insurance agency. Macabre mayhem ensues as customer service takes a backseat to more feral needs...

Review

I had heard many good things about a comic strip called 'The Undergrounds' but had never gotten around to checking it out.

I'm glad I did, I've not laughed that much for a long time while reading a collection like this.  In fact, it was an absolute riot.

The strips are all interconnected via the adventures they have in a coffee shop and then working in an insurance agency.  However these people aren't just any normal person.  These are monsters and things best described as 'going bump in the night'.

You have Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Angel of Death, Van Helsing and many more here all present and accounted for but these aren't the versions that you would remember.  I'm not going to ruin it for you by describing them for you here but they are very well written and absolutely hilarious.

Thanks to the various writers that created these wonderful characters, the humor ranges from straight slapstick to biting satire and that works incredibly well.  Even though each writer has vast differences in styles, these strips still work together.

However, it's the superb art work by Daniel Touchet that binds them all together.  The way he's drawn these characters is done in such a way that you can just feel their personalities fly off of the page without even using the dialogue, it's that good.

This is definitely a collection that is well worth picking up.  If you haven't had a chance to check them out, then do.  It's a hilarious and biting comedy series that I couldn't put down.  In fact, I sat and read it all in one sitting then wanted to read it again.

Story 4/5
Art 4/5
Overall 8/10

'The Undergrounds: Everything Exhumed' is available here