Sunday, 30 June 2013

Pacific Rim: Man, Machines and Monsters - The Inner Workings of an Epic Film Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By David S. Cohen With An Introduction By Guillermo Del Toro

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Movie Making, Concept Art

Synopsis

legions of giant, monstrous Kaiju started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources.


To combat the Kaiju, a new weapon was devised: massive robot Jaegers, piloted by soldiers of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps.

This lavish book chronicles the production of the film with concept art, photography, and cast and crew commentary.

Review

'Pacific Rim' is the much anticipated new movie from the movie mastermind known as Guillermo Del Toro.  Personally, I can't wait to see it so when I was offered the chance to review this book I was majorly excited but does this book live up to my lofty expectations?

Well, the answer to that is that not only does this book live up to the expectations, it damn well shatters them in to tiny pieces.

There's really a variety of stuff here that would have Del Toro fans as well as science fictions fans practically 'geek-gasm' to death.  There's concept art, interviews, posters, little tid bits for the characters, the story behind the characters, parts about the special effects used in the movie itself and much more.  I could quite literally sit here and list every little thing in here but I still wouldn't be able to do the sheer variety on offer here justice.

One of the things I really liked the most were the parts about the art work used in the movie itself because of the World War 2 style of the posters they use for propaganda.  The stories behind the characters and their motives were a great addition as were the little bits here and there about how the actors gave the characters their own personal spin.  It really does come across as having been a family on the set and  that they were given a lot of freedom to make the characters come to life.

Much like the 'Fringe' book that I reviewed a while back, it's the little details in this book that really makes it a fantastic pick for not only movie fans but for fans of Del Toro himself.  There's a really nice introduction by Del Toro too that comes across as quite personal and really makes you feel like he's really proud of the movie.

I can't really class this book as anything other than essential.  It's a truly brilliant book that will positively delight fans and people that just want to see how a stunningly beautiful movie was made.

Well worth picking up.

Presentation 4.5/5
Informative 5/5
Recommended 5/5
Overall 14.5/15

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Zack Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed By Joss Whedon

Watched on Netflix

Genre
Superhero, Comedy, Musical

Cast

Neil Patrick Harris as Billy / Dr Horrible
Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer
Felicia Day as Penny
Simon Helberg as Moist

Synopsis

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) stars as Billy, A.K.A. Dr. Horrible, a budding super-villain whose plans for world domination continually go awry.

His two goals: getting accepted into the Evil League of Evil, and working up the guts to speak to his laundromat crush Penny, played by Felicia Day (The Guild). The only thing standing in his way is Captain Hammer, Billy's superhero arch-nemesis played by Nathan Fillion (Firefly).

With one big score, Billy could get into the E.L.E. and earn the respect of Penny, but only if he can keep her away from the dashing Captain Hammer...

Review

I have to admit that I had a) not heard of this one and b) not seen it before now.  As a Joss Whedon fan and someone with a slight obsession with watching anything the always brilliant Nathan Fillion is in, I just had to rectify that.

That's why when my girlfriend and I saw that it was available on Netflix, that mofo went straight on and you know what?

It was absolutely brilliant!

Considering that it was filmed in just 6 days with a minimal cast, the whole thing looks fantastic.  The songs, yes songs for it is indeed a musical, manage to both be hilarious and touching at the same time.  Believe me they will get stuck in your head.  I will definitely want to try and get the songs on to my iPod at some point.

The cast here is perfectly picked and play their parts as if they are truly having the time of their lives.  Neil Patrick Harris is absolutely spot  on as Billy / Dr Horrible who not only tries to get in to the Evil League of Evil but also to get the attention of the woman he has a major league crush on.  He manages to play the character as both bumbling fool and heart felt loser.

Nathan Fillion is once again hilarious.  He plays the part of Captain Hammer as such a smarmy arse hole but gets some of the best lines.  Just the way he delivers the lines and plays off against Harris as Dr Horrible, had us both in hysterics.  I would love to see the two of them in something together again.

Felicia Day really seems to be popping up a lot in things that I'm watching recently.  First 'The Guild' and then this, it's easy to see why she is getting so popular.  Her easy going performance and 'girl next door' persona in this really makes the character incredibly easy to love and get behind.

There's also an appearance by Simon Helberg, Howard from 'The Big Bang Theory', as a villain called 'Moist'.  It's always great to see such an under rated actor such as Helberg in something other than 'TBBT' and here his charm really helps the rather strange character get some fantastic lines in as Dr Horrible's friend.

One the moments that made me laugh was the inclusion of Jed Whedon as one of the singing horsemen in the story as well so keep your eye out for that.

I know everybody is having 'geek-gasms' over everything that Joss Whedon does recently but don't let that stop you from watching this.  It's hilarious, heart felt and definitely one that is well worth watching again and again so what's stopping you?

Movie 5/5

Domovoi Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Peter Bergting
Art and Cover By Peter Bergting

Published By Dark Horse Books

Genre
Supernatural, Fantasy

Synopsis

In the Old Town of Stockholm, where myths are alive and creatures of folklore haunt the night, an extraordinary young woman named Jennie is caught in the scheme of a cadre of villains who control the means to free the Domovoi — the lethally dangerous, poltergeist-like spirit of the entire city!

Acclaimed artist and writer Peter Bergting brings his knowledge of European folklore and deft storytelling to this darkly modern fairy tale!

Review

Steeped in folklore and mythology yet with an amazing eye for the little details that make good  stories in to great ones, Peter Bergting is most definitely an artist and writer at the top of his game.

He uses his deft touch and subtle style of writing here to create a darkly modern fantasy with a fairytale edge yet with all the little details that he slips in here and there, it feels like the most down to Earth story.  Don't let that put you off because I don't mean it in a bad way.  Far from it.  I mean it in a very good way.

Bergting has a knack of making the most fantastical happenings seem like they could happen to anyone in real life and because of that, the characters and the stories really resonate with the readers on many more levels than they would if they were written by someone else.  The characters here are most definitely the strongest part of the story.  You can't help but feel like you are involved in their lives and get caught up in their emotions.

In fact, this is an incredibly emotional graphic novel dealing with many big issues like death, the afterlife, hope and life.  Yet Bergting does it in such a way that you are completely gripped through the entire thing.  This is the sort of story that no matter  how many times you say 'just one more page' to yourself, you find that you are positively gripped to such a degree that you can't put the book down.

Art wise, Bergting's rather unique style feels at home with the story and really brings it to life.  Bergting never seems to go for the most stereotypical or cliched, instead going for what ever would bring the most impact to the proceedings.  I could give some examples but if I list them here it might take some of the surprise and the magic from the art for you.

I honestly can't recommend this release high enough.  It's a beautiful, well paced story and definitely one of Bergting's best and when he has written as many great things as he has, that's a bit recommendation.

Story 4.5/5
Art 5/5
Overall 9.5/10

World War Z: The Art of the Film Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof Based on the Novel By Max Brooks

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Screenplay, Concept Art

Synopsis

'World War Z' is the eagerly awaited film starring Brad Pitt.

'World War Z: The Art of the Film' is the official illustrated companion to the movie, and features a wealth of stunning production art, design sketches and storyboards, alongside the full shooting script.

Review

I've been looking forward to the movie version of 'World War Z' for a long time, especially considering some of the superb names in the cast.

This release from Titan Books is the companion to the movie that is based on the novel by Max Brooks but what we have here isn't the normal companion piece that basically hypes up the movie, throws in a couple of pictures and thinks the fans will be happy.  Instead we have been given the shooting screenplay, concept art, quotes from the cast and crew and much more.  There is a hell of a lot of things here to keep both newcomers to the story and fans of the original novel entertained.

The main part that I liked was the addition of the screenplay.  I've always loved reading screenplays as it's always interesting to see how the screenplay differs from the end product, although I'll be honest here, I haven't seen the movie yet so I can't tell you how similar to the movie itself.

I absolutely loved the layout of the book itself.  The screenplay was illustrated with scenes from the movie itself but there were also quotes from the cast and crew peppered throughout that as well.  Then we came to the concept art.  I would have liked to have seen a little more information about the behind the scenes process of creating the art but the quotes from the cast and crew that are also peppered throughout this section gives a little nod here and there about their ideas.

All in all, this is an absolutely superb companion to the movie and has made me even more eager to get to the cinema to see it.  I honestly can't wait to see some of these scenes in action because from the pictures here, they look epic in scope and very well shot.

Well worth picking up.

Presentation 4/5
Informative 3.5/5
Recommended 4/5
Overall 11.5/15

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Shadow Out of Time Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By H.P. Lovecraft and Adapted By I.N.J. Culbard
Art and Cover By I.N.J. Culbard

Published By Self Made Hero

Genre
Science Fiction, Drama, Thriller

Synopsis

Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee is a university professor who suffers from fainting spells in 1980, only to regain his senses in 1913.

The more he tries to understand those missing five years of his life, the more wild and disturbing his dreams become.

It sends him on a voyage through time and space as he seeks to unlock the secrets of the universe.

Prepare for a disorientating journey into tense storytelling heightened by Culbard's crisply atmospheric artwork.

Review


When you get a Self Made Hero graphic novel, you always know what to expect.  Good writing, good art work and some truly fantastic adaptations.

That is most definitely the case here, maybe even more so because of the talent involved.  When you find I.N.J. Culbard as the author / artist then you are in for a treat.

Culbard has a knack for doing near word for word adaptations of Lovecraft's works, within reason, and some fantastic artwork that makes the story come to life.

Here, Culbard's work once again absolutely flies off of the  page.  The slow pacing and menacing tone of the story is kept here just like it is in the original Lovecraft story.  The fact that the story is so truthful to the original tone and feel of the story just shows how talented a person  Culbard is.  I honestly find that the adaptations just seem to get better and better.

Art wise, Culbard is once again spot on with the feel of the panels and how the graphic novel is set up in general.  The art is superb in that it really brings the story to life, especially the claustrophobic feel of the story.  The use of the shadows and settings really adds to a feeling of dread and uneasiness.

Through the whole graphic novel the writing and art combine to really get under the readers skin and hook you in until you reach the end and even then, you're not really sure what to make of it all.  I like that a lot in that you're the one that decides what happened because the ending isn't spelled out for you.  It's nice that a Lovecraft adaptation isn't simplified.  The story is here in all it's glory and the fact that it is entirely up to the reader whether the story happened for real or not is great and you could honestly read it multiple times and come to a different conclusion every time.

Once again, Self Made Hero has released yet another quality adaptation of a classic work and if I'm completely honest, I honestly can't see any end in sight for their momentum set by the other quality releases.  This one is definitely one of their best yet and considering the sheer amount of quality that they have released before, that is a massive recommendation.

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

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Snapshots By Mark Hamer Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Mark Hamer

Published By Oni Press

Genre
Art, Photography, Comedy

Synopsis

Double Fine Productions and Oni Press present to you, "Snapshots," a collection of "remastered" photographs (and the stories behind them) brought to you by animator, artist extraordinaire, and Art Director at Double Fine Productions, Mark Hamer.

This book collects the first 180 pieces Mark created over the years in a lovely little format.

It features the whimsical, the tragic, and the humorous all wrapped in a layer of nostalgic imitation photographs.

Review

I wasn't all that sure what to expect when I picked up this book to read for this site and to be honest, I still don't really know what it was meant to be about.

This book of photographs by Mark Hamer, along with some 'whimsical' comments written on  them, is one of those sorts of books that you buy because it looks funny but then it outstays it's welcome.

That's the case here.  At first some of the early comments are actually quite funny and they go well with the manipulated pictures here.  The pictures have been made to look vintage, along with the general look of the book as well, and yet it just comes across as a bit of a mess.  At times, it even comes across as a bit of a waste of time.

It's a bit like watching a movie and then thinking 'what the hell did I just watch?' when the ending credits roll.  This is the book equivalent of that.

Don't get me wrong, the book has some clever ideas behind it and I even like the idea behind it yet it just doesn't work for me.  If anything, it was a bit of a disappointment even with me not knowing what to expect from it.

To be honest, I would give this a miss.  It's a bit of a nothing book if I'm honest with you guys and girls.  The best way to describe the book would be that it's the sort of book that you would get a friend as a bit of a joke gift when you don't know what to get them for their birthday or for Christmas.  One the plus side, it at least looks good.

Presentation 3/5
Informative 1/5
Recommended 1/5
Overall 5/15

'Snapshots' By Mark Hamer is available to buy October 16th 2013

Village at the End of the World DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Directed By Sarah Gavron and David Katznelson

A Met Film Production, Made in Copenhagen Production

Genre
Documentary, Life

Certificate Exempt

Synopsis

Lars is the only teenager in town who, in a community of hunters, doesn't want to hunt. Niaqornat in North West Greenland has a population of only 59, with no local industry people are being forced to leave to find jobs in the nearest town. Whilst the rest of the community pull together to try and re-open the fish-factory, Lars begins to plan his escape.

Like all villages, Niaqornat has its supporters and detractors amongst the local populace. For some it is paradise, they can't imagine living anywhere else, for others it's the last place on earth they want to be. For most Niaqornat is simply home. We know that there are very real pressures on a place like this - the ice is melting, the government no longer wants to subsidise the supply ship that brings the food that can't be hunted locally, and people are leaving due to the lack of work. Village At The End Of The World is a film that reflects the dilemmas of most small communities all over the world, this one just happens to be in one of the remotest spots on earth.

Special Features
  • Trailer
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Interview With the Directors

Review

I love watching documentaries.  For me it doesn't matter what they are about as long as I find them interesting.  I have watched war ones, music ones and loads more but I'm a total sucker for ones about people overcoming some massive odds to make their lives better.

That is most definitely what we have here in the documentary 'Village at the End of the World', directed by Sarah Gavron and David Katznelson.

While some documentaries can really over sell their subject and make it almost seem melodramatic as if it's a badly made movie not a real life documentary.  That's not the case in this superbly shot and edited piece of film here.

What Gavron and Katznelson have managed to do is create a massively absorbing and interesting documentary about what is essentially a small village in turmoil.  The more people move away, the more chance the village has of having to be relocated to a larger one.  People have started to leave their homes because there is no work in the village thanks to the fish factory having closed down and it's slowly choking the life out of the village.

What we then see is the whole village worrying about their future but it's not a depressing documentary like it sounds it would be.  Instead the people here are so endearing and easy to get to know, you are sat watching them and willing them.  You want them to fulfill their hopes, you want their lives to get better.  Yet all through that, not once does the documentary feel saccharine or overly sentimental.

One of the films that I really liked was that despite all the troubles that they were going  through, the villagers just seemed so full of hope and happiness that it was completely infectious to the viewer.  You absolutely fall in love with the people  here and I get the feeling that the directors did too because watching this, you can see the love and respect that they have for the people, the village and their traditions.

I honestly can't recommend this high enough.  It gripped me from the very beginning and was one of the best documentaries that I have seen all year and that's saying a lot seeing as I have watched a hell of a lot of them.  I would have loved to have seen a little more in the way of special features but that's a small complaint considering just how good the documentary itself is.

One small warning though.  There are a couple of hunting scenes that may offend a few people.  They didn't offend me as I know it's their way of life but they're not really suitable for the squeamish.

Movie 4.5/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 3.5/5
Overall 16/20

'Village at the End of the World' is available to buy 8th of July 2013

Village at the End of the World (2012) on IMDb 
 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Babylon 5: Complete Season 2 DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Created By J. Michael Straczynski

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Action

Cast

Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi
Mira Furlan as Delenn
Richard Briggs as Doctor Stephen Franklin
Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar
Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari
Bill Muny as Lennier

Certificate 12

Synopsis

This DVD release features the complete second series of Babylon 5.

Episodes comprise:

1. Points of Departure
2. Revelations
3. The Geometry of Shadows
4. A Distant Star
5. The Long Dark
6. Spider in the Web
7. Soul Mates
8. A Race Through Dark Places
9. The Coming of Shadows
10. GROPOS
11. All Alone in the Night
12. Acts of Sacrifice
13. Hunter, Prey
14. There All the Honor Lies
15. And Now for a Word
16. In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum
17. Knives
18. Confessions and Lamentations
19. Divided Loyalties
20. The Long, Twilight Struggle
21. Comes the Inquisitor
22. The Fall of Night

Special Features
  • Introduction and audio commentary on 2 key episodes by series creator J. Michael Straczynski
  • Audio commentary on a key episode by three of the series' stars
  • 'Building Babylon: Blueprint Of An Episode' documentary
  • 'Shadows And Dreams': Honours of Babylon' documentary
  • Access Data Files, Personnel Files, Tech Files plus Historical Timeline & Episode Previews from the Babylon 5 audiovisual archive 

Review

While the first season of the 'Babylon 5' show introduced the characters and the machinations of the station and it's enemies, it's the second season where everything starts to fall in to place.

The new opening credits voice over really makes a difference to the stories in that it foretells some of the darker stories that will heading our way.

Writing wise, the stories are still as multi layered as the first season but it's almost as if the makers of the show have a new found confidence about the show.  The stories all start to link to  one another through out the season and it's that intelligent writing that really marks this season out as one of the best seasons of television science fiction of that decade.  You can watch the stories on their own, you can watch them one another.  Either way, you are kept completely enthralled by the stories themselves.  They also hold up to repeated viewings in that this show really rewards the viewer who watches it more than once.  Each time you notice subtle little nods and hints to other stories, subtle little chances of character in the people involved and much more.

The characters here really start to become even more memorable and interesting.  I really liked the addition of a new person in charge in the shape of the criminally under rated actor, Bruce Boxleitner.  He really gives the character of Sheridan, who replaces Sinclair, an air of grace and strength that was missing slightly from that character.  He has this calm but strong feel of authority without slipping in to melodrama.  I also like how the character of Garibaldi continues to grow as well and we get to see more layers of his character.

One of the things that bothered me the most however was the slightly fuzzy in places transfer.  One some episodes, it wasn't that bad but on others, it seemed like there was a sort of film over the sides of some of the scenes.  It doesn't make it unwatchable, far from it.  It's just down to the age of the film but I really think Warner Brothers could have done a little bit better with the transfer if they had just put a little bit more effort in.

All in all, season 2 is the season that kicks off all the puzzle pieces falling in to place.  There are hints and nods to the darker stories as well some as brilliant twists and turns.  Couple that with the superb writing  and performances and you have a seasons that not only stands up to repeated viewing but also rewards the viewers who do that.

Well worth picking up.

Show 4/5
Picture 3.5/5
Sound 4.5/5
Special Features 3.5/5
Overall 15.5/20

Superman: End of the Century Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Stuart Immonen
Art By Stuart Immonen and Jose Marzan Jr.
Cover By Jose Marzan Jr.

Published By DC Comics

Genre
Superhero, Action, Thriller

Synopsis

On the eve of the new millennium, someone is committing arson in Metropolis - and the target of their crimes is none other than Lex Luthor!

And when the immortal Contessa del Portenza arrives, demanding custody of Lena, Luthor's infant daughter, the criminal mastermind realises that this is a threat he must take seriously...But what Luthor doesn't know is that the Contessa has another child, an immortal like herself - but one who believes that humanity are beneath him, and who has no qualms over killing. And when Luthor inadvertently reawakens this creature, only one man is mighty enough to stop his killing rampage...Superman!

Review

'End of the Century' is one of those Superman stories that sounds absolutely brilliant on paper but then when the idea is executed it just doesn't work.

That's not to say that Stuart Immonen is a bad writer because he really isn't. The writing is fine for what it is but for some reason it just doesn't gel. The story itself flits between present day and flashbacks and while they are both separately interesting, together it just comes across as a bit disjointed.  In fact, there were even some parts that felt a little dull or out of place.

The art however is quite hit and miss. There are some absolutely fantastic pages here that made me think that there was a massive talent involved with this story but then there were some really bland ones as well and for me, that kind of took me out of the story a bit.  This was most evident in the ending of the story itself.  While I didn't want it to be OTT or anything like that, the art fell flat the most there and that's the one part of the story that you needed it to be the most exciting.

The Superman character here just came across as incredibly dull, which considering it's a Superman title, I found that quite strange. It kind of evens out because of the simple fact that Lex Luthor here is given many other layers. I did like the fact that here Luthor managed to look both strong and menacing yet vulnerable, which made a nice change from him just being a snob with an attitude problem.

All in all, I really wouldn't say that this is an essential purchase. Maybe class it as one for just the major hardcore fans out there.

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

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Fright Night (2011) DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Marti Noxon Based on the Screenplay of the 1985 Movie 'Fright Night' By Tom Holland
Directed By Craig Gillespie

A Dreamworks SKG, Gaeta / Rosenzweig Films and Michael De Luca Productions Production

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Cast

Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster
Colin Farrell as Jerry
Toni Collette as Jane Brewster
David Tennant as Peter Vincent
Imogen Poots as Amy
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Ed

Certificate 15

Synopsis

Meet the sexy new neighbour, Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell). He's dangerously charming - and utterly lethal.
That's because he just happens to be a vampire, and out for blood...buckets of it.

After high school senior Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) makes the connection between Jerry's suspicious activity and a steadily rising body count, he vows to end the reign of terror next door. But he can't do it alone. His only hope is Las Vegas magician/ vampire-slayer Peter Vincent (David Tennant).

Together, this unlikely duo set out to end Jerry's evil rampage. But Jerry is a ruthless, relentless killer, and he's not going down without a fight. Get set to sink your teeth into this thrilling re-vamp of the terrifying horror classic. 

Featuring a star-studded cast and crawling with bonus, Fright Night will captivate you from the very first bite!

Special Features
  • Bloopers
  • Squid Man: Extended and Uncut
  • Kid Cudi Music Video 'No One Believes Me'

Review
 The original Fright Night is an absolute classic and has always been a personal favorite of mine so when they choose to remake it, I was highly dubious.

I needn't have worried in the slightest. This is a gory, exciting and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The humor here is black as night in places and cheesy in others but they gel well.

For me David Tennant definitely gets some of the best and funniest lines of the movie as Peter Vincent. A magician turned vampire hunter. As well as some of the best lines, his facial expressions had me howling with laughter.

Colin Farrell also gives a highly entertaining performance as the next door neighbor. Instead of just being the normal bog standard vampire, he uses some really messed up psychological torment on his victims as well. He really does just exude menace in every scene he's in.

Also be sure to keep a look out for a cameo from Chris Sarandon, the star of the original Fright Night. I thought that was a really nice touch.

The special effects here are absolutely brilliant. I especially loved the transformations and the end battle. For once the special effects were well thought out instead of just being used for the sake of being used.

The special features, while funny, are a little disappointing and I personally would have liked to have seen a few more things included. That said, when the movie is this good, who cares that a couple of special features are missing?

I'd highly recommend this movie, especially as it's a definite one to watch when you have friends over. Brilliant. It made a nice change to find a remake that was actually good too.
Movie 4/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4.5/5
Special Features 3.5/5
Overall 16/20

Fright Night (2011) on IMDb

The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of An American Icon By Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Skover Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Skover

Published By Sourcebooks

Genre
Biography, Stand Up Comedy

Synopsis

An in depth discussion and investigation of the life and trials of American legend Lenny Bruce.  Without Bruce, the stand up comedy world would be a much staler place.

Yet even with the First Amendment  of Free Speech in place, he still fell foul of the nations obscenity laws.

His controversial shows landed him in court on more than one thing in the strict, Government run decade known as the 60's.

Review

Lenny Bruce was never one to sit on the fench with his stand up routines and opinions. America either thought he was incredibly funny or incredibly offensive. There never was a middle ground for him.

In the 1960's, the American government decided to take him to court on many times with each time taking a little bit more from him until his untimely death.  It was a bit like the Communist witch hunts in a way. 

While most books about Lenny Bruce seem to portray him as a hero type of figure, this one does praise Bruce for his fight to uphold the First Amendment but does this while not glossing over his faults at all.  In fact, not only does it praise him for the way he stood up for his rights but it also mentions the times when he was in the wrong or when he was at fault for something.  I really thought that was  a breath of fresh air on a subject as important as Lenny Bruce.

When I first started to read this, I was worried that because it was written by two lawyers that it would be bogged down in the details. Far from it. While there are many parts about the legal process, it never bores the reader at all. I love how they connect certain parts of his routines to the legal troubles.

The writing style ensures that it flows nicely from page to page in that it doesn't try to bog the reader down in too many details at once.  I would go so far as to say that it's a 'slow burner' of a book that definitely rewards those people that stick with it and read it through to the very end.

All in all, a brilliant and important book about one of the all time greats of the comedy world. With no Lenny Bruce there would be no George Carlin, Bill Hicks etc.

Highly Recommended.

Presentation 4/5
Informative 5/5
Recommended 4.5/5
Overall 13.5/15

Friday Night Comedy at Just The Tonic (21-6-2013) Live Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Type
Stand Up Comedy

Line Up

Debra-Jane Appleby
Tom Deacon
Jarred Christmas

Compered By Susan Murray

Background

Just the Tonic promise to bring you the best in comedy from the national circuit. We will bring it at reasonable prices and with reasonable drink prices.

It is a great room. Small and intimate, perfect for a proper comedy venue.

Our Friday and Saturday Comedy Nights will bring mixed bill comedy and many other surprises.

Review

As a stand up comedy fan, I've seen quite a few comedians and comediennes.  That's why I love the fact that comedy clubs are standing to become more popular.  It gives fans a chance to see both their favourites as well as ones they may not have seen before but in a more intimate venue.

We started the night off with a bang.  Susan Murray started the evening and would return between acts as the compere.  I hadn't seen her live before but after seeing her here I would definitely go to one of her shows.  Her quite sarcastic delivery and way of interacting with the crowd was a superb choice as compere because she really got the them excited for each person coming up to perform.

Next up was a comedienne by the name of Debra-Jane Appleby, a Northern lass with a real knack of being able to poke fun at herself without it turning in to a 'poor me' routine that seems to happen with comediennes who go that route.  In fact, her comedy was a breath of fresh air because she came across so natural that it felt like you were sat in a bar with a mate and just having a chat about life.  I also loved how she dealt with a heckler from Camden, who seemed content to try to shout over her.  I doubt the heckler will be trying to do that again in a hurry.

After a brief interval, Susan Murray returned to get us warmed back up for the next act, Tom Deacon.  I have to admit that while I didn't find him as funny as Murray or Appleby, his humor still got quite a few laughs from me, especially the getting hit by a car story.  That may not sound funny here but the way he told the story made it sound like he was a mate telling you about his latest exploit.  There were a couple of jokes near the middle of his set that didn't work as well for me but he definitely ended with a bang.  Another comedian that I wouldn't mind seeing some more of.

Finally, after a second interval and more laughs from Murray, we were treated to a set from the brilliant Jarred Christmas.  This is the third time I've seen Christmas and while I'd heard a few of the jokes before, he has such an easy going personality that his sheer enthusiasm makes it feel like you've not heard them.  His witty and sarcastic delivery definitely makes him one of my favourite comedians and he was one of the main highlights for me during the evening.

However, the best part of the evening for me was, by far, Susan Murray.  As a compere she managed to get the crowd warmed up so easily that it was almost as if they were eating out of the palm of her hand.  Her jokes came thick and fast and often had me in tears of laughter.

All in all, a great night and I strongly urge anyone to get down to their local Just The Tonic club or comedy club in general and see one of these types of comedy night.  While you might not like everyone on the bill, the intimate nature of the performances really give the evening of comedy a personal feel.  Considering the Just The Tonic nights are cheaper than a cinema trip, what more could you want?  Great value for money and a great venue.

Show 4/5
Crowd 4/5
Recommended 5/5
Overall 13/15

Painkiller Jane: Volume 1 Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada
Art By Lee Moder
Cover By Television Show Photograph

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Action, Crime

Synopsis

Jane Vasko was an undercover police officer attempting to infiltrate a major New York city drug ring. After gaining the trust of dealers, her cover was unknowingly blown and she was forced drugged into a coma.

Jane remained in secrecy as a Jane Doe until one day she awoke to a world where nothing was the same. Infused somehow during her fitful sleep with strange powers, Jane has nothing left to lose and a whole lot of people to make pay for what they've done...

Review

I wasn't all that familiar with the character of 'Painkiller Jane' other than what I had seen on the television series.  The television was good for what it was but it hadn't made me all that eager to find the comic books.

When I found that they were done by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, I have to admit that it peaked my interest much more and that's when I was lucky enough to find volume one of the characters return that was published by the Dynamite Entertainment company.

While I enjoyed the book itself, for some reason it  just didn't click with me as much as I thought it would.  I suppose I was just expecting a little more when you consider who was involved with the making of the character.

That said, the story here is hard hitting and well paced.  The twist at the end was a bit telegraphed however and that for me, felt a little bit anti-climactic after the action of the previous pages.  The story felt like it was building up to a massive revelation yet when it came it just gave me a 'is that it?' feeling and that's a real shame.  It wasn't a bad ending or one that has put me off of reading more of the character, it's just that after the brilliant writing of the first two thirds of  the story, the ending just felt a little off.

Art wise, it's very similar to the 'Kickass' comic books but that's a good thing because those have been some of the most entertaining stories I've read in a while.  The art here by Lee Moder really brings the action and the story created by Palmiotti and Quesada to life.  If fact, if you can forgive the pun, it absolutely explodes off of the page in an orgy of blood and bullets.

I would definitely recommend this to fans of exciting and fast paced books with blood and wise cracks then you will like this series.  You don't get a whole load of back ground information about the character but you get some flashes of what makes her the way she is and that helps keep the fast pace moving along nicely.

I would even say that if you like comics like 'Kick-Ass' or Mark Millar style stories then you will most likely enjoy this one too, it's just a shame that the ending fell a little flat for me, hence the slightly lower mark than I would normally give for an exciting  story such as this one.  The cover gallery was a nice touch though, I have always been a fan of when comic book companies throw in the other other covers.  It's always nice to see other peoples takes on a character.

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

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Lawless Ones Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Victor Wright
Art By Frederico Zumel
Cover By Iain Bell

Published By Geeky Comics

Genre
Crime, Thriller

Synopsis


When Jean Harvey arrives in town unexpectedly, she convinces gang members of the 'Brooklyn Blades' to steal money from a bank robbery- the only problem
is the money belongs to the Mob. Red Moseley is a tough Irish gangster ruling the underworld in New York; everyone is scared of him, even the police.
 
Swearing vengeance the Mob starts the hunt to find out who stole their $2 million dollars.
 
Review
 
As a chance of pace for the site instead of the usual horror, superhero or action comics that I normally read and review, here is a review of the first issues of 'The Lawless Ones', written by Victor Wright.
 
Here Wright has written a very strong story that really has a classic gangster feel to it.  You have the beautiful but deadly woman , you have gangs, you have murder, you have intrigue.  There are so many different layers to the story that you're not sure where it's going to yet and that's one of the main strengths of the story.  You get a lot of hints as to who the big players in the story are but not a whole load of information about them.  That gives you a real  sense of mystery to the story.
 
One of the characters that interests me the most is that of Jean Harvey.  Why did she choose the certain characters to use to steal the money?  Why did she steal the money?  What has happened in her past that caused her to run?  There are so many questions that I can't wait to get to issue two to see if any of the questions are answered.
 
The art here has a classic pulp style to it and that really plays well with the story itself.  There's a bit of a 'Road to Perdition' feel to the artwork yet with enough of it's own personality to really hook the reader in.  I'd not seen any of Frederico Zumel's work before but after reading this one, I'm quite tempted to check out some of his other work.
 
This is definitely a title worth checking out.  It's a slow burner in that while you don't get to see a whole load of the characters past, there are many questions that I, as the reader, can't wait to see if they get answered.
 
Story 4/5
Art 4/5
Overall 8/10
 
'The Lawless Ones Issue One' is available to buy from here!

Exposed Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Victor Wright
Art By Nino Cajayon
Cover By Iain Bell

Published By Geeky Comics

Genre
Horror, War, Action

Synopsis

Landing with the invasion force on D-Day, Sgt Jackson and his crew, fight across the beaches and into a cave hidden under the bluff. Inside they are attacked by the Devil Children and uncover the plot of a crazed German Scientist who aims to end the war for Himmler. 

The men depend upon each other to keep them alive, one by one they learn each other secrets adding twist after twist to this four part mini series.

Review

I love my war stories.  Give me a story that involves military or a war of some kind that brings out the bravery in the characters.  I'm also a horror nut.  Stories, movies, comics, the works.  I love my horror, the scarier or creepier the better.

This release here from the English publisher Geeky Comics combines the two but does it do so successfully or fall at the first hurdle?

Well, this four issue mini-series is most definitely a successful combination of the two.

The writing by Victor Wright has a bit of a grimy, 80's horror kind of feel to it and that's one of the things that I really liked about the first issue.  There's also a big feeling of claustrophobia that runs through the story and that really combines with the war aspect brilliantly.  However, that feeling is ramped up to the extreme as soon as the soldiers get to the cave.  It's almost as though you are in there with the soldiers because the writing is so well paced and thought out.  You don't find a whole lot out about the characters themselves but because the story itself is so strong and really grips the reader.

Art wise, the issue is superb.  There's a dark, grimy feel to the art and that really combines with the story in a great way.  The feeling of claustrophobia that I mentioned earlier is definitely pushed forward by the art thanks to the masterful use of shadows and angles.  It has a feel cinematic feel to it in that it looks like a dark and gritty horror movie.  The best comparison I can think of is to imagine the movie ''R-Point' but set during World War 2 and you're nearly there.

All in all, this is an absolutely fantastic first issue and I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on to the second one.  I want to see just what the soldiers are going to do to survive, I want to see just what these demon children are and I haven't been that excited about a comic for a while.

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

'Exposed Issue 1 - The Devil Children' is available to buy now from here!

Musical Ink By Jon Blacker Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jon Blacker

Published By Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

Genre
Art, Photography, Music, Tattoo

Synopsis

Musical Ink is a portrait project from Toronto-based photographer Jon Blacker that spotlights 62 musicians and their tattoos. This exciting volume of imagery not only has something for every musical taste – featured artists range in genre from heavy metal to hip hop and opera – the tattoo styles include elaborate sleeves, creative one points, and traditional Japanese themes.

Each portrait is photographed in black and white using a special infrared camera, which allows the tattoos to truly stand out from the skin because while infrared light largely reflects off of skin, it is absorbed by the tattoo ink, creating a great deal of contrast between the almost glowing, ethereal appearance of the skin and the deep blacks and greys of the tattoos.

But Musical Ink goes more than skin deep and focuses on the personal meanings of the artists’ body art, be it a deep personal reflection or simply a great funny story. This outstanding collection of images, including artists like Dave Navarro, Chad Smith, and Sammy Hagar, is ideal for music lovers, tattoo aficionados and artists, and photographers.

Jon Blacker is a portrait and music photographer best known for his lightning-fast location and live concert work. He has been hiding behind the camera for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his girlfriend, her son, and their neurotic cat.

Review

While I don't have any tattoo's myself, I've always thought of them as an under rated art form because when somebody puts their heart and soul in to a tattoo or there's a good story behind it, I really can't think of something better to look at or hear about.

That said, I have seen some truly awful  tattoos on people regardless of if they're in a band or an actor or any other walk of life.

This book here offers some absolutely brilliant portraits of musicians showing off their tattoos as well as a short bit of writing on each one explaining why they got a certain piece of art work.  The musicians here range from heavy metal to hip hop and in between.  There are some truly beautiful photographs in this book and they combine with the stories of why certain bits of art were chosen by the people who have them.  In fact, I loved the little bits of writing. Some of the reasons behind the tattoos were very heart felt and really help to realise just why tattoos can be so important to a person.

I honestly can't recommend this book high enough, even if you aren't a fan of the musicians here the photographs along with the stories are really beautiful and well thought out. One of the main strengths of the book is that you can pick it up, turn to any page and have a look at a beautiful photograph or read a well thought out snippet about why that person has that particular tattoo.  Granted there are  a couple of stories that don't live up to the high standard of the others but it doesn't ruin the flow of the book though.

Highly recommended.

Presentation 4.5/5
Informative 4/5
Recommended 4/5
Overall 12.5/15

Thursday, 20 June 2013

ZVR Diplomacy: A Zombie vs Robots Collection Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Steve Lockley, Rio Youers, Robert Hood, Gary McMahon, Ekaterina Sedia, Simon Clark, Dale Bailey and Simon Kurt Unsworth
Edited By Jeff Conner
Art By Mike Dubisch

Published By Open Road Integrated Media / IDW Publishing

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, War, Horror

Synopsis


Zombies vs Robots Goes International!

It's the Cold War in Hell as undead flesh clashes with uncaring metal. The zombie apocalypse is a true global conflagration, and ZvR: Diplomacy is at the frontlines with a collection of original stories either set in Russia or the UK.

On all fronts rabid braineaters battle gleeful warbots, with a beleaguered (and dwindling) mankind caught in the middle.

Featuring original stories by today's leading perpetrators of zombie terror and robot rampage, namely Steven Lockley, Rio Youers, Robert Hood, Gary McMahon, Ekaterina Sedia, Simon Clark, Dale Bailey, and Simon Kurt Unsworth, ZvR: Diplomacy is a unique new chapter in the ongoing Zombie vs Robots prose program, and is fully illustrated by horror-master Michael Dubisch.

Review

I'm not going to lie to you guys.  You've been reading this blog to know I bloody love zombies and I'm a massive science fiction nut too.  Give me gore, robots, flesh eating zombies and I am a very happy little nerd.

This release definitely fits that bill and then some.

A collection of short stories all set in the same world, this really does cover all the bases for both fans of military stories and of zombies.  In fact, I was really impressed with the scope of some of the stories here in that they didn't just go the normal route of zombies eating people, people shooting zombies then nothing in between.

Instead they both cover the battles between the dwindling human population, the brutality of the war being waged between the zombies and the robots and the personal stories of the characters trapped during all of this.

I'm not going to lie and say that each story is perfect because they're not.  Instead, this collection does something really impressive.  All the stories manage to keep the quality level high with fast pacing and some intelligent writing.  There are some stories that are better than others yet I can honestly say that  there wasn't a single story that I didn't like through out the entire collection.

The strongest stories of these were by far Robert Hood's and Dale Bailey's.  Hood's story about the soul of a man being trapped in a robot may not sound all that original on paper but the strength of his writing really makes it a gripping story.  I was transfixed throughout thanks to the superb pacing and really couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.  Bailey's pulp story really merits a shout out thanks to how the writing really makes the story seem longer than it is but in a good way.  I just wanted it to go on and on.

As someone who is a relative newcomer to the Zombies v Robots world, I didn't  feel lost at all.  I enjoyed the different types of stories here.  Each takes a different point of view of the conflict and that's one of the main strengths of the work here.  Not only did I enjoy the stories here, I'm also going to be checking  out other stories and books by the writers included here.

The thing that sets this set off is the artwork spread throughout the collection is the superb and atmospheric art work by Mike Dubisch.  It really has a quite other worldly feel to the art and that really ties in well with the stories..

All in all, this is a superb set of stories and all are superbly paced with enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat as a reader and yet the characters here are written in such a way that they're well formed and the ones that aren't have an air of mystery and excitement to them.  Well worth picking up.

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

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Who Are You? My Picks For the New Doctor: A Blog Entry


Written By Patrick Challis

As all of you will know by now, Matt Smith has decided to end his tenure as the Doctor during the Christmas episodes of the long running show 'Doctor Who' and that has lead to some wild speculation as to who his replacement could possibly be.

There have been some interesting ideas coming from fellow fans of the show as to who they could pick for the new Doctor.  Could it be a woman?  Will the Doctor be a different race?  Just two of the ideas being banded around.

I actually really like the idea of the character being either a different race or even a different sex entirely.  I mean let's think about it for a moment.  Out of all of time and space, out of all of his regenerations, how has he not changed sex or even race once?  That's always kind of bugged me about the character but that's a minor gripe from someone who has maybe watched too much science fiction.

Anyway, here are my five picks for who I would pick as the new Doctor.  These aren't people that have been banded around or anything like that.  That's been done to death on many other sites.  These are just people that I would find interesting as the character himself.  By the way guys and girls, these are in no particular order so no griping or bitching about who is better than who on the list.  See what I did there?



1 - Matthew Gray Gubler

Best known for his role as a different kind of Doctor, Dr. Spencer Reid, in the television series 'Criminal Minds', Gubler has a kind of kooky style to his acting.  No matter how serious the role or dark the story that he is involved in, he always manages to make his appearances count.  Another part of his appeal is that he comes across as a mix of the David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston Doctors yet with a bit of a kooky tint.  That's why I think he would be a superb choice.


2  - Stephen Fry

Famous for his roles in 'Jeeves and Wooster', 'Bones', 'QI', 'Blackadder' and many more, Stephen Fry is a wonderfully versatile actor whose dry, sardonic wit would be a brilliant fit for the character of the Doctor.  Is he a young lad who is going to jump around everywhere like Smith or Tennant?  No, of course not but I see Fry in more of a Tom Baker style role as The Doctor.  A Doctor that would use his brains and mental trickery, which I think would be a nice change of pace.


3 - Helena Bonham Carter

Famous for roles in the 'Harry Potter' movies, 'Fight Club', 'Big Fish' amongst many others, nobody can do bat crap crazy like Helena Bonham Carter.  I think she would be a fantastic choice for The Doctor, if they were going to go the route of making the character female.  I really think that her version of the character would be a fun and insane one.  It would be great to delve in to the psychological nature of all the time travel and if any could pull off such an important part, it would be Carter.


4 - TJ Thyne

Another actor famous for playing a different kind of doctor, Dr. Jack Hodgins, in the television how 'Bones', his portrayal of that character would be a great fit for the Doctor.   Equal parts wise cracking but clever smart arse and tough S.O.B., I honestly think that Thyne, an under rated actor, would fit character like a glove.  I would love to see just how he would portray the character of The Doctor, with all his foibles.


5 - Djimon Hounsou

I've always thought that Hounsou was and is a criminally under rated actor, especially after roles in such movies as 'Gladiator', 'Eragon', 'Blood Diamond' amongst others.  He seems to have a quiet charm to him but much like Eccleston, has a skill of portraying damaged and bitter characters.  I would like to see a more bitter style Doctor.  One that has trouble coming to terms with the mysterious things in his past.  I really think Hounsou would pull that off brilliantly.  Plus he'd be the sort of Doctor that would be able to go toe to toe with some of the more physical villains in the shows rogues gallery.

Well guys, there they are.  There's my five picks for who I would pick for the Doctor if I had a chance to pick the next regeneration.  How about you guys and girls?  Who would you think would be good in such an iconic part?

Gladiator: Special Extended Edition DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson
Directed By Ridley Scott

A Dreamworks, Universal Pictures and Scott Free Productions Production

Genre
Historical, Drama, Action, Adventure

Cast

Russell Crowe as Maximus
Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus
Connie Nielsen as Lucilla
Oliver Reed as Proximo
Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius
Derek Jacobi as Gracchus
Djimon Hounsou as Juba
David Schofield as Falco

Certificate 15

Synopsis

What We Do In Life Echoes In Eternity.

Winner of 5 Academy Awards statuettes, including Best Picture and Best Actor; Gladiator receives the 'Extended Special Edition' treatment. Personally overseen by director Ridley Scott, this 3-disc edition is loaded with new bonus materials and features 17 minutes of additional footage not shown in cinemas. This is the ultimate Gladiatorial experience!

The great Roman General Maximus (Russell Crowe) has once again led the legions to victory on the battlefield. The war won, Maximus dreams of home, wanting only to return to his wife and son; however, the dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) has one more duty for the general - to assume the mantle of his power.

Jealous of Maximus' favour with the Emperor, the heir to the throne, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), orders his execution - and that of his family. Barely escaping death, Maximus is forced into slavery and trained as a gladiator in the arena where his fame grows.

Now he has come to Rome, intent on avenging the murder of his wife and son by killing the new emperor; Commodus....

Special Features
  •  Introduction by director Ridley Scott
  • Audio commentary by actor Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott
  • Are You Not Entertained? trivia track 
  • Tale of the Scribes: Story Development
  • The Tools of War: Weapons
  • Attire of the Realm: Costume Design
  • The Heat of Battle: Production Journals
  • The Glory of Rome: Visual Effects
  • Shadows and Dust: Resurrecting Proximo
  • Echoes in Eternity: Release and Impact 
  • Production Design Primer: Arthur Max
  • Production Design Gallery
  • Storyboard Demonstration: Sylvain Despretz
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Storyboard-To-Film Comparisons
  • Ridleygrams
  • Costume Design Gallery
  • Photo Galleries
  • Abandoned Sequences & Deleted Scenes
  • VFX Explorations: Germania & Rome
  • Trailer
  • TV Spots

Review

'Gladiator' was the well deserving winner of five Academy Awards when it was originally released in 2000 and brought the 'sword and sandals' epic back to the cinema screen with massive success.

Nearly thirteen years have passed since then and I thought maybe it was time to revisit the movie to see if it was as good as when it was first released?

The answer to that is a most resounding yes.  There are some scenes that are slightly eclipsed by advances in computer generated images, the scenes involving a computer generated Rome are just impressive but have just lost their luster slightly, but for the most part this is a movie well deserving of it's reputation.

Here in this special extended version of the movie, released in a 3 DVD set, there are some added scenes that help to flesh out some of the other characters and the story lines that run next to the main one involving Maximus.

Sometimes when you get an extended version of the movie it just feels like they have padded it out with scenes that really were not needed in the slightest.  That's not the case here, they really seem to have chosen the scenes that have been added very carefully.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that they aren't even slightly out of place.

The cast is absolutely spot on.  Ridley Scott really gets the best out of the cast and that leads to some absolutely fantastic performances.  The best of these is obviously Russell Crowe as Maximus, who gives such a great performance that you really can't think of anybody else in the role.  This is definitely one of the best performances of his career and is incredibly memorable.

Sadly this was Oliver Reed's final appearance as he passed away during filming.  The way they use a double along with some computer trickery to make it look like he was in all of the movie is sublime.  You really can't tell the difference so kudos to the guys and girls that made that magic possible.  The makers of 'The Crow' had to do the same thing when Brandon Lee was sadly killed during filming so it's amazing that people are able to do that.

All in all, this is a must have movie, especially in this three disc set.  Not only do you get the brilliant film itself in an extended version but you also get a mass of special features that examines the whole process of making the movie itself.

Movie 4.5/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4.5/5
Special Features 5/5
Overall 18/20

Gladiator (2000) on IMDb



Monday, 17 June 2013

Suicide Risk Issue 2 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Mike Carey
Art By Elena Casagrande
Cover By Tommy Lee Edwards

Published By Boom! Studios

Genre
Superhero, Action, Thriller

Synopsis

After barely surviving a super-powered bank heist gone horribly wrong, beat cop Leo Winters vowed to try and find a way to stop them.

Following a lead, he discovered two lowlifes who seemed to be able to grant a person powers… for the right price.

Thing is: you don’t get to choose which power. It’s seemingly random, a crap-shoot, a risk. And now Leo will find out just how big of a risk he took…

Review

After the brilliant first issue of this new series, I had massively high hopes for this issue but was there any way that it could possibly live up to that high standard?

The answer is a resounding yes and then some.

Mike Carey has once again crafted a superbly written and paced thriller with some great twists and turns that have left me wanting to get my hands on to issue three as fast as I can.

The characters are slowly but surely being revealed and there is a little bit more behind Winter's mental state as well and I really liked that slow build to seeing just how everything is affecting him.  All too often things happen to the characters with no effect on them at all yet here Carey takes the opposite approach.  It makes the character seem more layered and really helps the reader to get behind the character and want to know what is going to happen next.

Once again, the art is absolutely superb.  The first  issue was the first time I had seen Elena Casagrande's work and here, it's just as good, maybe even better as the characters really seem to come alive on the page.  The best part of this issue art wise was the 'transformation' Winter goes through when he discovers what his power is at the beginning of the story.  It had a real cinematic feel to it and wouldn't have been out of place on the screen.

This is definitely a title that I will be keeping a very close eye on.  I'm seriously wondering just how they are going to top this one but with quality like this, I have no doubt that issue three is going to be fantastic.

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

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Rogue Touch By Christine Woodward Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Christine Woodward

Published By Hyperion

Genre
Superhero, Romance

Synopsis

Eighteen-year-old Anna Marie was just fired for the third time--this time from a bakery. Why can't she hold a job? Well, for starters, she dresses . . . differently. She looks like a Goth girl to the extreme, her shock of white hair contrasting with her head-to-toe black garb, her face the only skin she chooses to reveal. But Anna Marie doesn't have a choice. Her skin, her touch, is a deadly weapon that must be concealed. She accidentally put her first boyfriend, Cody, in a coma when they kissed. Horrified, she ran away to Jackson, Mississippi, where she's been living alone in a cramped apartment and scraping by on food stamps.

Then she meets otherworldly James and everything changes. He's just like her--completely alone and also on the run. To elude James's mysterious and dangerous family, the pair takes to the highway. As they cross the country, their simmering attraction intensifies and they both open up about their secretive pasts. James reveals that his true name is Touch and he christens Anna Marie Rogue. But with danger at their heels, they know they can't run forever. Rogue must decide if she'll unleash her devastating powers once again, which she swore never to do, in order to save the only person who seems truly to understand and accept her.

Review

After the awful 'The She-Hulk Diaries' I had really little to no desire to rush in to reviewing this one despite being a massive 'X-Men' fan.

For me, Rogue has always been one of the best characters from the mutant group led by Charles Xavier yet for some reason, the character never really got a chance to shine on her own.  When I heard that they were going to write a novel just about her, I was really psyched yet for some reason, it just doesn't gel as much as it should do.

The fact that the story doesn't fully work is a real shame because Christine Woodward really does spin a good but not great new take on Rogues origin.  If you think that this story is going to be like the origin story told in the comic books then you are totally out of luck.  Instead what we have here is essentially a love story and the fact that she is a mutant seems to take a bit of a back seat to the rest of the action.

That said however, Woodward doesn't skimp on showing her abilities.  I did like the addition of a new mutant in the shape of Touch.  I felt he was a good counter foil to Rogue yet at the same time felt he was a little bit of a wasted opportunity because so much more could have been done with the guy.

One of the things that I didn't like was how the romance was written.  I don't mind reading a good romance book, in fact I am a right soppy twat yet the romance here seem massively over written.  There were many moments where you were left scratching your head because some of the scenes just felt like fan fiction of the worst kind.  That's a real shame because Woodward is a very good writer, it just seems like some of the scenes felt like they were tacked on at the last minute.

While this wasn't anywhere near as awful as 'The She-Hulk Diaries' but I was still a little disappointed in the end result.  That said it's still a pretty good read and maybe even as an introduction to the character herself.  Just don't go expecting a fight every other page.

Story 3/5
Characters 3.5/5
Recommended 3/5
Overall 10/15

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written and Directed By Joss Whedon

Genre
Musical, Horror, Action

Cast

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow
Anthony Head as Giles (Billed as Anthony Stewart Head)
Hinton Battle as Sweet
Amber Benson as Tara

Certificate 12

Synopsis

The vampire hunters from Sunnydale find themselves in the world of musicals - a very special episode, featuring the hit 'Walk Through The Fire' in which the stars prove their talent for singing and dancing impressively. During a visit to the graveyard, Buffy suddenly feels the urge to sing. A supernatural power plays a trick upon her and her friends, as suddenly they all begin to sing and dance. Soon the whole of Sunnydale is struck by musical fever...

Special Features
  •  'Buffy: Inside the Music' Featurette
  • Interview With 'Dark Angel' Star Jessica Alba
  • Season 1 Overview For 'Angel'
  • 'Angel' Seasons 1-3 Trailers
  • 'Dark Angel Season 1' Trailer

Review

 As someone who wasn't that big a fan of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' series, I'd never gotten around to seeing this episode despite all the good things that have been said about it.

After seeing it mega cheap in a second hand shop, I decided to give it a go to see if it was as good as all the fans of the show had made out.

I have to admit, while it wasn't as good as the fans have said it is, it's still a really enjoyable and quite camp episode of a much loved series.

Growing up, I had caught the first two series of the show and then a few episodes here and there so I wasn't completely lost with some of the things and secrets that were revealed during this episode.  However, if you have never seen an episode of 'Buffy' show then you might be quite lost during certain places.

That said, there are some absolutely brilliant songs during the story itself.  The best of these, in my opinion, was the one sung by the vampire character Spike, played by James Marsters.  His ticked off, cynical character gets nearly all of the funny dialogue.  Joss Whedon always has been brilliant at giving his characters full personalities no matter how small their part is and it's easy to see why Spike was one of the most popular characters from the show.

The cheesy and camp nature of this episode really makes it a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  The songs are all incredibly well suited to the characters that sing them and are a varied bunch of genres to choose from.  The song that the character Xander, played by Nicholas Brendon, and his wife-to-be Tara, played by Amber Benson, is absolutely hilarious in it's classic musicals style.  Some of the other songs were really heart felt and were most definitely written to their characters personalities.

That personal touch to the writing and the cheesy songs really combine to make this an episode that is a blast to watch.  I will admit that it's not as good as the mass of hype made it out to be but that's probably just because I'm not a hardcore 'Buffy' series fan.  That said, watching it has made me want to check the series out again to see if maybe I've missed anything.

All in all, if you are a diehard 'Buffy'  fan then you either will love this DVD or already own it, so what ever rating I give it will be a moot point.  If you're not a fan or you've never seen an episode before then you might find yourself a bit lost here and there but keep on watching it, even if just for the songs themselves.

Show 4/5
Picture 3.5/5
Sound 4.5/5
Special Features 3/5
Overall 15/20

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Father Used To Say Live Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written Andrew 'Skatz' Scattergood

Genre
Play, Drama, Comedy, Musical

Venue
Central Baptist Church, Leicester

Cast

Andrew 'Skatz' Scattergood as Befuddled Man

Synopsis

A befuddled man arrives at the crossroads of life with only a magic notebook, a pocketful of songs and the barking of his father to guide him.

Review

'Father Used to Say' is a one man play that has just as much story behind the making and writing of as it does the play itself.

Andrew 'Skatz' Scattergood, who wrote the play and performs all the songs himself, went all around Leicester gathering stories from the young, the old and from pretty much every way of life possible.  It's those stories that have formed the play itself.  It's those words that are used and some of the people mentioned in the play are the real people that told him their stories.  It's a beautiful concept that works amazingly well.

With so many different stories you would expect this play to be rather disjointed but it's not.  In fact, it's the stories that glue the characters life together, much like stories are the glue that binds us all, and it is those words that make this play so memorable.

One of the main strengths of the play is the performance by Andrew Scattergood himself.  I've never been that big a fan of one man (or woman) plays as a lot of the time they come across as vanity projects for those involved yet here it's the complete opposite.  Scattergood gives a wonderfully emotional, subtle and completely unselfish performance as the befuddled man who finds himself at the crossroads of life.  A man haunted by his past, who hears his fathers barking voice at him.  I loved the subtle nuances of the performance and had me both laughing like a loon and sobbing in equal measure.

The songs used here are of so many different styles that it would be honestly impossible to list them all here.  Somehow, despite the massive variety of genres used, they all fit together like a jigsaw.  Each song forms an integral part of the mans journey from being afraid of his past right up to the emotional ending.  I loved the fact that the songs were made up from the real stories that people told Scattergood on his journey and that the words used were the words that were spoken by these people.  Two of the songs 'My Head is Bowed' and 'Next Time You See Me' had me in tears because of how powerful the lyrics were.

Another part I thought was brilliant was the fact that you can take the show on many different levels.  Is he just a man fighting the fear of his past who wants to just get on with his life?  Is he a dying man reflecting on his life before he passes away?  There are many more ways you can take the story but I don't want to spoil anything for the people going to see the show by offering up anymore.

A massively strong and emotional story with some great laughs along the way that had me both laughing and crying and then feeling uplifted when it ended.  I'm honestly glad I got to see it and am definitely going to be seeing it again.

A play that can make an audience laugh, cry and feeling really happy?  What more could an audience want?  Go see it, I'm glad I did.

Show 5/5
Cast Performance 5/5
Recommended 5/5
Overall 15/15

Buy Your Tickets For The Show Here!