Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Sigil Pre-Release Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Nathan Dean Snyder and Brandon Cano-Errecart
Directed By Brandon Cano-Errecart

A Triple D Productions Film

Genre
Horror, Found Footage

Cast

Matthew Black as Matt
Sumiko Braun as FBI Agent
Brandon Caro-Errecart as Brandon
Brittney Daylee as Brittney
Devan Lijidahl as Devan
Nathan Dean Snyder as Nate

Certificate 15

Synopsis

Supernatural horror following a young woman as she looks for the truth behind her brother's death. When 42 residents die in a Los Angeles house the government claim that the cause of death is radiation poisoning from a close by uranium mine that was previously undetected.

Devan (Devan Liljedahl), the sister of one of the deceased, is unable to come to terms with what has happened and travels to LA, along with two friends Nate (Nathan Dean Snyder) and Brandon (Brandon Cano-Errecart), in search of answers.

When they arrive at the house they discover strange goings-on which lead them to believe that the explanation given by the government is a cover-up for something far more sinister...

Review

Combining the over used medium of the found footage horror movie with a standard movie sounded like it would be an interesting take on an already saturated genre.

That's when I started to watch the movie itself and I have to admit, there were some parts that were just downright painful to watch.

It's a bit of a schizophrenic movie in terms of quality if I'm going to be totally honest.  Once it's gotten going, the movie does have a relatively creepy atmosphere for the most part but the massive over acting just ruins any tension during the scenes themselves.  That's a real shame because the story itself is actually really interesting on paper and could have been absolutely superb in the right hands.  Brandon Caro-Errecart is not the owner of those hands.

The shooting style really starts to grate during the movie as there are a) some awful camera angles, b) the shaking style on some of the scenes left me feeling more confused then scared and c) some of the scenes were so badly shot that I couldn't work out just what the hell was going on.

Another couple of things that bugged me were the bad editing, due to Nate's hair changing length constantly and not just by little bits either and the set dressing.  I know their budget wasn't all that big but it looked like it was amateur hour at a filmmakers club or something.  An example of which was the sign on the outside of the house that had really bad grammar and even used the wrong word on part  of it.

All in all, this was a movie that is definitely not worth picking up or even watching.  There were a couple of scares that were pretty good but the bad editing, shoddy camera work and awful acting completely take you out of the story.

Not one I'll be watching again if I'm completely honest.

Movie  1.5/5

The Sigil (2012) on IMDb

Win 'Gatekeepers' on DVD! (UK Entries Only)


Academy Award-nominated documentary from director Dror Moreh in which six former heads of the Israeli intelligence organisation Shin Bet share their thoughts on the conflict with Palestine. Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon, Yaakov Peri and Avraham Shalom have all held a job that is arguably among the most important and controversial in the Middle East.

Until now, however, no members of the Israeli secret service have spoken publicly on their thoughts regarding the conflict. From the Six Day War in 1967 in which Israel first occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the ongoing struggle over borders and boundaries, six men who were at the heart of some of the most fateful decisions in the history of the region offer their reflections on the past and their opinions on the way forward. 

Well boys and girls, boy do we have a competition for you today on Curiosity of a Social Misfit!

How would you feel about winning one of three copies of the Academy Award nominated documentary 'Gatekeepers' on DVD thanks to those wonderful folks at Metrodome?

Well, here's your chance.  To win a copy just answer the following question by emailing the answer to patrickstevenchallis@gmail.com to be put in a draw.

The documentary is about the secret service of Israel but what is it called?  Is it

A) The Stasi
B) Shin Bet
C) MI5

You have until August 12th to get your entries in and all winners will be notified via email.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

CM Punk: Best in the World DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Genre
Documentary, Wrestling

Cast

CM Punk as Himself
Colt Cabana As Himself
Amy Dumas as Herself
Triple H as Himself
Michael Hayes as Himself
Paul Heyman as Himself

Certificate 15

Synopsis

Documentary that seeks to explore the onstage and offstage persona of the WWE wrestler, CM Punk.

Since making his debut on the WWE scene as an extra at Wrestlemania XXII, where he was very much in the shadow of John Cena, Punk has battled his way to the top of the sport and has won numerous titles.

The documentary takes a look at his rise to prominence and the more unorthodox facets of his personality, such as his championing of the 'Straight Edge' subculture.

Special Features
  • Two Discs of CM Punk Matches
  •  High School Sports
  • CM Punk – the Name
  • Skull Fracture
  • OVW vs. Albright
  • From Extra to Champion
  • December to Dismember
  • 1st Impressions
  • In-Ring Style
  • It’s Clobbering Time
  • The Hat
  • “The Most Insulting Thing You Could Say To Me”
  • A Conversation with Lars
  • Title in the Fridge
  • Natalie’s T-Shirt
  • Teenage Anarchist

Review

As a long time wrestling fan I have seen many wrestlers touted as the 'next best thing' come and go.  Some have stayed and made their names legendary and others have been quickly forgotten.

CM Punk is a WWE superstar that really doesn't look anything like the stereotypical superstar.  He's not big and musclebound and neither is just a punch, kick and repeat wrestler.  Instead he is unorthodox, unique and one of the most exciting wrestlers to ever come in to the squared circle.

This documentary shows the career of CM Punk from his very beginning up to now.  One of the things that really sets this release apart from the others that the WWE have put out recently is the sheer, sometimes brutal, honesty.  Punk doesn't hold back on his feelings about his career, about feeling held back and even about his family.  After all the stories that are told about him, it's easy to see all the pieces come together to make him in to the person he is now.

Some of the best stories here were about his early days in the WWE where he got sent to OVW and then in to the then revamped ECW because people didn't really know what to make of him and his unique look and skill set.  While not happy with his career in those days, he didn't come across as bitter, instead just like a man that learned things.  I especially liked the stories about how Heyman helped him in those days as well because they weren't just told from their point of view either.  They were told from both their point of view and other people's points of view that sometimes didn't agree.  It was nice to see such a balanced documentary instead of it being an ago stroking exercise.

As well as the the documentary, you get two discs that are absolutely jam packed full of CM Punk matches against so many different people that you are most definitely spoiled for choice.  My personal favourites being the no DQ against William Regal and the TLC match against Jeff Hardy.  Both are good for so many different reasons that if I listed them here it would turn in to a very long list.

There are also some deleted scenes that tell us some extra stories that really help to balance out the bits about Punk himself even more.

This is definitely one of the best WWE documentaries that I have ever seen.  Even if you weren't that much of a CM Punk fan, there's still plenty here to sink your teeth in to.  The portions of the release that talk about his early days as a wrestler and his childhood are really interesting because you get to see just how he became who he is today.  You're also spoiled for choice match wise as well so I honestly can't recommend this high enough.

Show 4.5/5
Picture 4.5/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 4/5
Overall 17/20

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Matter of Life Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jeffrey Brown
Art and Cover By Jeffrey Brown

Published By Top Shelf Productions

Genre
Comedy, Drama

Synopsis

After the acclaimed indie film Save the Date and the bestselling all-ages humor bookDarth Vader and Son, graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Unlikely) returns to the autobiographical work that first made his reputation.

In A Matter of Life, Jeffrey Brown draws upon memories of three generations of Brown men: himself, his minister father, and his preschooler son Oscar. Weaving through time, passing through the quiet suburbs and colorful cities of the midwest, their stories slowly assemble into a kaleidoscopic answer to the big questions: matters of life and death, family and faith, and the search for something beyond oneself.

Review

I've always been a fan of indie comics and of artists such as Rachael Smith and Daniel Clowes so I was really eager to get my hands on to this one because I've head some great things about Jeffrey Brown. I have to admit this one didn't disappoint.

Reading the synopsis, you might not think the story would be entertaining and that it might be a bit heavy handed yet that's beyond the case here.
 

The story is handled with a gentle but incredibly witty hand and at the same time, manages to be touching and heartfelt. The humour has a definite Rachael Smith feel to it and that's a really good thing. It comes across as very true to life and very personal. It felt kind of like you were sat talking to Brown about his life instead of reading a graphic novel instead.
 

Art wise, it has a cartoon style to proceedings yet it works so well with the story that you couldn't imagine it having been done in any other style. The art style really brings out the humour in the story as well thanks to the wonderful facial expressions drawn here.
 

If you love heartfelt, touching stories with an easy going writing style then you are most definitely in for a treat with this release by Jeffrey Brown. If you want a 'balls to the wall' action packed story then you are out of luck.
 

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


Vampirella Strikes Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Tom Sniegoski
Art By Johnny Desjardins
Cover By Michael Turner

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

For years, the raven-haired heroine Vampirella has hunted the world’s supernatural threats, all the while fighting back her own bloodthirsty nature.

After a night out in Boston leads to particularly brutal violence, she seeks comfort in her Brownstone home… but discovers the most unexpected surprise of all.  Angels have been sent to her by God — and they come asking for help!

Enter Janus, a former soldier in the legion of Heaven, who skirts the line between the damned and divine. Only a fallen angel can navigate Vampirella through the seedy, demon-run underworld, where she hopes to find the source of an addictive, body-altering drug derived from archangel blood.

Will Vampirella’s mission redeem her… or will she uncover secrets so shocking that their discovery will damn her forever?

Review

I have to admit that I've never really been all that excited or interested in the adventures of the scantily clad vampire named Vampirella.  In fact, I've always felt they were always a bit cliched.

However, I actually found this collection to be really well written and exciting to the point where I couldn't put it down and just had to read on to see what was going to happen next.

The storyline covered by this collection is a real humdinger.  Involving fallen angels, the fall of Heaven, children that could change the future of Heaven itself,  the chance for Vampirella to gain redemption and a whole conspiracy about the blood of an angel being mixed with the blood of a demon to create a drug.

I honestly was surprised that despite not  being all that big of a fan of the character, I was absolutely gripped by the storyline.  I still wouldn't say that I like the character massively but I went in to this collection with an open mind and I'm glad I did.  There were so many different stories running alongside the main one yet it didn't once feel cluttered or too busy.  In fact, all of the stories and the twists were handled with a deft hand.

Art wise, the story had a really  good, dark and grimy look to it and that really helped to tell the story in a superb way.  There were a couple of panels where the detail seemed a little lacking on the facial expressions but the rest of the book was very well drawn and the panels were placed in such a way that the art just flowed brilliantly.

Definitely a collection worth picking up, even if you're not a fan of the Vampirella character.  The storyline was interesting and well written plus there were quite a few twists and turns that had me gripped from start  to finish.  What more could you want from a story?

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

Green Hornet: Year One Omnibus Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Matt Wagner
Art and Cover By Aaron Campbell

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Crime, Thriller

Synopsis

At last, the thrilling origin tale of the Green Hornet and Kato, the classic crime-fighting duo, can be told!

After his father's death, Britt Reed takes control of his father's newspaper, the Daily Sentinel... but discovers that his true inheritance is his father's thirst for justice. 

Donning the iconic emerald outfit, developing an arsenal of non-lethal weaponry, and building his rapport with martial artist and driver Kato, Reed launches a crusade against mob boss Vincent "Skid" Caruso, making the bullet-ridden Chicago streets safe again during the Prohibition Era.

But will the Green Hornet and Kato survive when their efforts attract the attention of the sadistic enforcer called The Scourge?

Review

As a fan of the both the classic television series but also of the series that Dynamite have been putting out recently, I was very eager to get hold of this collection.

Telling the story of the origin of the famous crime fighting duo, this title had a lot of promise and you know what?  With a steady hand at the helm in the shape of Matt Wagner, this wasn't going to be anything other than great.

The story here is superb and really has a dark, pulp feel to it without falling to the usual traps of sounding stilted or cliched.  In fact, the writing is intelligent, fast paced and full of some great moments.  The story behind how the duo got together is very well done.  I loved the early dynamic of the Hornet and Kato in that it didn't feel as polished as it is in the other series because it actually felt like they were getting used to being a team.  Normally when a company does a prequel series such as this one, they sometimes fall in to the mistake of making them seem like a ready made team.

Character wise, Wagner has once again made them his own.  They're very well written and you can really get behind their separate stories.  There was also a deft hand at work with the little threads of the story that all come together.  Wagner has always had a really good skill at knowing when to push the character development and when to bring all the threads of the storyline to the forefront.

Art wise, Aaron Campbell has done a very good job at making the art work seem dark like in a old Humphrey Bogart movie and really makes the action scenes pop out of the page.  However, even on the dialogue heavy scenes the art just really brings the characters to life.  That is one of Dynamite Comics major strengths.  They always seem to be able to choose the right artist for the right job and that's no different here.

If you are a fan of the Green Hornet series then you will definitely like this telling of the origin of the famous crime fighting duo.  There were loads of nods to the recent series as well as some nice character building moments too.  Don't forget the action however.  What would a Green Hornet story be without the action?  The art really made the story  come to life and that makes this one well worth picking up.

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

'Green Lantern:  Year One Omnibus' is available from August 27th 2013

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Night of the Living Dead 3D: Reanimation DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jeff Broadstreet and Robert Valding
Directed By Jeff Broadstreet

A Dimensional Dead Productions Production

Genre
Horror

Cast

Andrew Divoff as Gerald Tovar, Jr
Jeffrey Combs as Harold Tovar
Sarah Lieving as Cristie Forrest
Robin Sydney as DyeAnne
Adam Chambers as Russell
Scott Thomson as Werner Gottshok
Denice Duff as Sister Sara

Certificate 18

Synopsis

In this prequel to the 2006 cult hit, pyrophobic mortician Gerald Tovar, Jr. (Andrew Divoff) inherits the family mortuary and accidentally exposes hundreds of uncremated bodies to toxic medical waste.

As the corpses re-animate, Gerald's inheritance-seeking younger brother, Harold (Jeffrey Combs) unexpectedly shows up and stumbles upon Gerald trying to keep the zombie outbreak under control.

Sibling rivalry gives way to madness as Harold discovers Gerald's dark secret - the freshly exhumed and zombified corpse of their father.

Special Features
  • 'Making of' Featurette
  • Audio Commentary With Jeff Broadstreet and More
  • Blooper / Outtake Reel
  • A Look At Producing CG Visual Effects In 3D
Review
This movie is a prequel to the 2006 3D remake of the classic George Romero zombie movie.

'Reanimation' is definitely one of those horror movies that is for the fans of the cheap, trashy horror that packs in the laughs, albeit it mostly unintentionally.

Starring horror stars Andrew Divoff, from 'Wishmaster' and Jeffrey Combs, from 'Reanimator' and 'House on Haunted Hill', this movie is a hell of a lot of fun.

Is it a great horror movie? No but there are some good moments and some very funny jokes. There are also nods to the great Romero movies as well as a hell of a lot of pop culture references for the 'Buffy' generation.

While not all of the movie works, the constant stream of digs at Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney do start to grate after a while, it's definitely held together by the performances of Divoff and Combs. Divoff gives a wonderfully creepy portray of Gerald and Combs gives a great and camp performance as his brother. They really bounce off of one another and the chemistry between them also adds a lot.  I have to admit that if it wasn't for the two of them I probably wouldn't have watched the movie because it's their performances that make the movie an enjoyable mess, hence the score I gave the movie itself.

The 3D effect is used pretty well although it does affect your eyes after a little while because of the red/blue glasses but it's really worth sticking with it. Also the special effects are pretty good considering it's budget and the zombie effects work really well with the 3D element of the movie.

The special features are also pretty good for a mid budget movie and the out takes included here are really funny, especially those that include Divoff and Combs.

While there are part of this movie I didn't like, I still found it to be wildly entertaining and full of, sometimes unintentional, laughs so I definitely recommend it.

Just don't go expecting a George Romero classic. 
Movie 3/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 3/5
Overall 14/20

Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation (2012) on IMDb

Friday, 26 July 2013

Powers Bureau Issue 6 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

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

Published By Icon

Genre
Superhero, Action, Thriller

Synopsis

With Walker trapped and Pilgrim pregnant, the case rumbles on but are we any closer to cracking the case?

Review

After a slightly disappointing 5th issue I was hoping that the momentum would pick back  up with this, the 6th issue.

Well, while it manages to get some momentum going again with some superb set pieces but the ending stops all of that dead in it's tracks.

The writing of the story is much improved than the last issue and the pace really picks up for the first 3/4 of the comic yet it has such an abrupt ending and there are so many questions that you're left scratching your head.  That feeling is made a bit worse by the fact that issue 7 will start a new storyline entirely but I'm hoping that the loose ends will be picked back up at some point in that issue because there are many unresolved questions left here.  I know that the ending is left relatively open ended to create a bit of tension and excitement for the next issue but like I said earlier, it just left me scratching my head instead of doing that and that's a real shame considering how good the first found issues were.

However the art work is superb as always.  Michael Avon Oeming always has a knack for bringing characters to life and that's no different here.  He makes fantastic use of the settings and of making interrogation scenes really feel claustrophobic but he also makes the action scenes jump off of the page and really catch the eye.

I have to admit I was really enjoying this issue but the ending being so abrupt just felt quite out of place and took me out of the story.  The previous issues felt like they were really building up to an explosive conclusion but the one we got just seemed to fall a little flat, especially considering that a new storyline is starting in issue 7.  It's still well worth picking up however, especially for the superb artwork by Oeming.

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

The Darwin Elevator By Jason M. Hough Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jason M. Hough

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Thriller

Synopsis

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.


Review

'The Darwin Elevator' is a hard novel to give a score to if I'm completely honest.  I absolutely loved the plot and after a bit of a slow start, really made me want to read the second book in the series.

However, there are quite a few flaws that took me out of the story on more than one occasion and that really hurt the flow of the book itself.  Hough really does show a lot of skill as a writer but with a bit of a tighter edit and maybe a slightly sharper eye on the characters, this good book could have been absolutely brilliant.

One of the problems I had with the story was with how the world was set up.  We're meant to believe that in a world where a disease has ravaged the population that the few people that are immune are at the lower end of the hierarchy of the world.  Surely that rare and special skill, or power if you want to call it that, would make you incredibly important.

Another thing that bugged me were a few of the characters.  Skyler Luiken is the captain of a team of immune people who are also scavengers yet he comes across as a bit of a wet blanket.  I know that his character is written as someone that will mock himself but instead he comes across as someone with no confidence and that really wouldn't be able to lead a team at all.  In fact the female character in the team named Samantha would have made a better leader in the story if I'm completely honest.

The villain of the book, Blackfield, is a one note villain and doesn't really come across as a threat at all.  Instead he just comes across as a bit of a douche bag with an attitude problem instead of a major bad guy that could end up ruling everything.

My favourite character, Neil Platz, was a massively interesting creation by Hough and it was when the story was being told from his POV that it really gripped me the most.  He was by far the best character in the book and I really wanted to find out more about the character.  However, his assistant Tania suffered from the same problem as Luiken in that she was wet blanket.  She may as well have been wearing a sign on her back saying kick me.  Her character came across as so gullible and easily fooled that whenever something happened to her, and it did a lot, it got to the point where I didn't really care  about her character anymore.

Now on to the good things.  There was a great atmosphere running through the book that both left me, as the reader, with a feeling of dread as well as one of excitement.  This was especially evident on the scenes with the SUB'S as they're called.  Hough did a truly fantastic job of making you feel closed in whenever there was an attack and the really made me want to turn page after page to see what was going to happen next.

Another strong point of the book was the timings of the shocks and twists.  They seemed really well timed in to get the most impact and when the book ended, I really wanted to know just what was going to happen next.  Characters that I didn't think would die ended up doing just that and characters that I thought were going to die didn't and I loved that about the book.  Just when you thought you could guess what was going to happen next in the story, Hough throws a 360 in to there and you're left wondering where he is going to take the story.

All in all, where there were quite a few flaws with the story and some of the characters, it seemed to get better as the story went on.  I'll admit that I wasn't that impressed with the choice of villain but the strength of the plot itself pushed that along nicely and has made me want to get the 2nd book despite the flaws in this one.

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


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Don't Tell Anybody By Laurie Boris Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Laurie Boris

Published By Createspace

Genre
Drama

Synopsis

When pneumonia lands Estelle Trager unconscious in the emergency room, it ruins everything for the stubborn 65-year-old woman. She'd been keeping a secret—a deadly secret—that she'd planned on taking to the grave. But now her son Adam and his wife, Liza, know about her tumors. Adam is outraged, but Estelle, who watched her mother and grandmother suffer from breast cancer in the days when no one dared speak its name, has no intention of putting her family or herself through the horrors of cancer treatment. Estelle decides there is only one solution: ask Liza, the 33-year-old daughter-in-law she once called a godless hippie raised by wolves, to kill her.

A horrified Liza refuses and keeps the request—among other things—a secret from her furious husband. But she tells his younger brother, Charlie, a close friend from college with whom she shares her own confidences, despite Adam’s serious case of sibling rivalry. Armed with nutrition textbooks and her neighbor, a savvy nurse, can Liza win over her mother-in-law and convince her to consider other options before the cancer, the secrets, and Estelle's determination to end her life win out?


Review

After reading a message in a blogging group asking for people to review this book I volunteered as it did sound very interesting but then I have to admit that I just let it sit there for a couple of days before I got to reading it.

Why?

Because of the 'C' word.  Cancer.  Everybody knows someone who has been affected by the disease.  I lost my father to it a few years ago and still haven't gotten over the loss.  So I hesitated reading this through fear of it bringing back too many painful memories.

One day, I decided to just start reading it.  I mean I could just always put it down if it upset me too much right?  Well, I didn't want to put it down.  The easy pacing of the story really helped in that it didn't rush in to things too quickly yet neither did it take too long.

Another one of the strengths of the book was the characters.  They honestly seemed like real people and because of that the reader really gets sucked in to the story and that really makes it a page turner.  It's almost as if you are a friend of the family and you are watching the events unfold in front of your very eyes.

I also liked the fact that the story was told from several POV's but it's essentially Estelle's story and it's remarkably true to life.  The characters go through the whole gauntlet of emotions and actions that someone suffering  from Cancer and their family and friends go through.

While it was a bit of a hard read for me because of losing my father to the same disease, this is a very well written, well paced and incredibly emotional book.  It's a real tear jerker of a book but don't take that as an insult, it's meant in the best possible way.  Well worth picking up.

Story 4/5
Characters 4/5
Recommended 4.5/5
Overall 12.5/15

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Joe Cross, Kurt Engfehr and Robert Mac
Directed By Joe Cross and Kurt Engfehr

Watched On Netflix

A Faster Production, Us and Us Media Production

Genre
Health, Life Style

Cast

Joe Cross as Himself, Presenter

Certificate E

Synopsis

45 kilograms overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope. Tipping the scales at 140 kg, Joe saw a path laid out before him that wouldn't end well. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicle's Joe's personal mission to regain his health.

With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long-term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body's ability to heal itself. He trades the junk food and hits the road with juicer in tow, vowing to only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days. Across almost 5,000 kilometers Joe has one goal in mind: to get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle.

While talking to more than 500 Americans about food, health and longevity, it's at a truck stop in Arizona where Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 194 kgs; a cheeseburger away from a heart attack. As Joe is reclaiming his life, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well. What emerges is nothing short of amazing - an inspiring tale of healing and human connection.

Review

I'm always wary of watching documentaries about diets and healthy eating as I find many of them to be very preachy and they end up just being one long lecture telling one side of the story and not the other.  This one however, is vastly different.

This documentary tells the story of a business man named Joe Cross, who is massively overweight, very ill and suffering from health problems.  After deciding to 'reboot' his body by having nothing but fruit and vegetable juice made from a juicer, he starts to go on a journey to not only regain his health but to find himself again.

Normally, a documentary like this would be nothing but a lecture on how good fruit and vegetables are and this story does sometimes fall in to that trap but the thing that raises it above other similar releases is the sheer friendliness of the presenter.  Joe Cross does a great job of giving both sides of the story.  Not only does he  talk about the diet itself and the health properties of fruit and vegetables but he also goes in to the other side of things too.  He talks to people that disagree with him, people that don't care about the diet that he is on and some people that don't even know about fruit and vegetables yet he does it all with charm and poise.  Not once does make the people that disagree look bad, instead treating it as two sides of a coin and that's a welcome change.

However, it's when he meets the trucker named Phil that the documentary takes on an even more heart rending persona.  He meets Phil on his journey and shows him the juicer before offering to help him if he needs it at all.  He doesn't do so to look good to the camera, he honestly comes across as someone who likes Phil and genuinely wants to help the guy.  About halfway through the story, Phil phones him and asks for help in one of the most heart breaking phone calls I've heard in a documentary.

Phil's journey is absolutely inspiring and you can't help but root for him during the transformation as he goes from the lowest he's ever felt right up to how he looks at the end.  It really is inspiring without being made to look melodramatic or overly sentimental.  The story is left to speak for itself and that is a massive strength of this documentary.

One of the other strengths are the little animation scenes that are dotted amongst the various scenes and are really funny while being educational as well.  I really thought they were a good addition to the story being told and set this documentary apart from the various and many other diet and life style documentaries out there.

This one is definitely well worth picking up if you can.  Even if you don't follow the diet that they show the people using here, this is still an interesting and actually well made documentary that you can't help but root for the people involved, especially the trucker named Phil.

Movie 4/5

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Watchmen: The End is Nigh Parts 1 and 2 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Platform:  Playstation 3

Developed By:  Deadline Games

Certificate:  15

Type:  Beat 'em Up, Action

Synopsis

A beat 'em up set just before the movie, follows two Rorschach and Nite Owl's unrelated cases. First they search for an escaped convict which leads them to a conspiracy. In second, they try to find the potential victim of a porn ring.

Review

As a gamer, I was and still am in to my beat 'em up games.  I grew up playing the greats like 'Streets of Rage' and the such.  Considering that I am also a massive comic book geek, the fact that someone combined one of the greatest comic books of all time with a 'Streets of Rage' style game had me practically chomping at the bit to play this one.

We start the game as a prequel to the amazing graphic novel story in which Rorschach and Nite Owl team up to take on two different cases.

The game play here is quite simple but can range from quite an easy time of just kicking some ass right up to there being wave after wave of enemies.  The fighting is quite realistic in that you can crack your enemies bones and use various items you find in the environment.

At times, the constant wave after wave of enemies, most of whom look the same, can get a bit repetitive yet that doesn't stop it from actually being quite a bit of fun.  It's a pretty good pick up and play style game but that's not where it shines.

The main strength of the game is the co-op mode in which you and a friend can take control of one of the two main characters and just kick the living hell out of people as you go on to solve each case.  While it's not the most original game in the world, it is pretty much a more violent 'Streets of Rage' with characters from 'Watchmen', it is actually quite exciting.


Graphics wise, I was very impressed.  The whole game has got a dark and grimy feel to it but it's the rain effects that really shine.  It just gives the levels a wet and slimy look.  The fight scenes look suitably brutal as well with the action being fast and furious but well animated.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this to 'Watchmen' fans or people that want to play a brutal 'Streets of Rage' style game.  While the levels do get a little repetitive at times, it's the co-op mode that works the most in this 'pick and play' action game.

Graphics 4.5/5
Game Play 3.5/5
Replay Value 4/5
Overall 12/15

The Guild: The Official Companion Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Introduction By Felicia Day

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Television Show Tie-In

Synopsis

Since launching in 2007, the comedy web series The Guild has become an Internet phenomenon, with over 150 million views. Created, written by and starring Felicia Day, it follows the story of a Guild of online gamers who finally meet in real life. Here at last is the official companion to the show that fans have been waiting for, featuring an intro from Felicia, in-depth interviews and scores of photos.

Josh Whedon commented, "Her mind works faster than mine ever will and her mouth works faster than that. Felicia's career will go where she decides it will. Plus, she'll probably rule Asia and invent a new color. I fear her."

Review

I have to admit that before I read this book, I wasn't all that familiar with 'The Guild' but after I'd read it, I became a fan.

I mean here was a show about people that were in to the same sort of things as I am, are geeky like me and go to the same sorts of things as I do.  Then I read the book and it  turned out the people here were mostly the same as they were on the screen and looked like they were having a hell of a lot of fun.

There is a bit of everything in this book.  Photographs,  behind the scenes information, in depth interviews and so many different stories behind the making of the series itself that you can't help but get swept up in it all.  It honestly looks as if they have had the time of their life making the show and that's evident in the writing here.  The interviews are funny, informative and very heartfelt.

If you have never seen the show or maybe if you have even never heard of it before, don't let it put you off of buying this book.  However, if you are a fan of the show or of the superb Felicia Day then you are most definitely in for a treat.  There is so much here that you can sink your teeth in to that there is a very big chance that you can read this book more than once and still find new things.

Well worth picking up.

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Grave Encounters Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written and Directed By The Vicious Brothers

Watched On Netflix

A Digital Interference Productions, Twin Engine Films Production

Genre
Horror

Cast

Ben Wilkinson as Jerry Hartfield
Sean Rogerson as Lance Preston
Ashleigh Gryzko as Sasha Parker
Merwin Mondesir as T.C. Gibson
Juan Riedinger as Matt White

Certificate 15

Synopsis

A ghost-hunting reality TV show crew arrive at an abandoned psychiatric hospital where unexplained phenomena has been reported for years. Locking themselves inside the building for the night they begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. But they quickly realize that the building is more than just haunted - it is alive - and it has no intention of ever letting them leave...

This will be their final episode.

Review

When I read that the trailer for this movie had garnered over 22 million views before the movie was even released, my hopes that this one was going to fantastic were raised a hell of a lot higher than they would normally be for a 'found footage' horror movie.

I have to admit though, I came away from this actually really disappointed.

I'm pretty easy going with my horror movies.  As long as I enjoy them then I class that as a result.  Sometimes I enjoy them for being awesome movies and other times I watch them for being so bad that they're a hell of a lot of fun.  This one however, doesn't fall in to either one of those two camps, instead it falls straight down the middle.

It's not an awful movie by any stretch. The main problem with this movie isn't that it's disappointing, it''s just that it's kind of there.  For a low budget horror movie, the effects are pretty well done, especially the facial effects, but the other moments in the movie didn't really do anything for me.

I did like the way they tried to introduce the back story of the building and why it was haunted but it wasn't anywhere near as effective as it could have been because their attempt at making that part of the footage look vintage just ended up making it look a bit camp instead of scary or spooky.

The cast were OK for the most part but after a while their characters all seemed to merge in to one and that lead me to not really caring all that much about who survived and who didn't.

To be honest, I can't really recommend this very highly.  Neither is it awful, or at least it's better  than the horror movie 'Are You Scared?', but it's not all that good either.  It's just kind of there so maybe one to put on in the background because it doesn't really hold your interest for all that long.

Movie 2.5/5

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Platform:  Playstation 3

Developed By:  Vicious Cycle Software

Certificate:  16+ (Pegi)

Type:  3rd Person Shooter, Action, Comedy

Synopsis

Get ready for the return of the most popular video game here...of the 1980's.

Matt Hazard is staging his 'comeback' against all his retro enemies in a hilarious parody of the last 25 years of gaming.

Starring the voices of Will Arnett and Neil Patrick Harris!

Review

'Eat Lead:  The Return of Matt Harzard' is a bit of a weird game to review in all honesty.  It's one of those 'breaking the fourth wall' style games that both references and parodies things in the outside world all while trying to be an exciting and entertaining game but does it manage to juggle all of those plates at once without dropping them?

Well, yes and no.

The major flaw of the game is the game play itself.  Go in to a room, take cover, shoot everything that moves and then go through whatever door opens up before doing the same thing again.  Normally that would annoy me to the point of playing it for an hour or so, sometimes even less, before putting the controller down and finding something better to do.  Yet that didn't happen here.

While it is very true that the game play is very repetitive in places, the sheer fun nature of the cast and the story makes the gamer completely unable to stay mad at the game for long.  Instead you are so busy laughing your ass off at the references, the jokes and the superb voice casting that the time just flies by  while you are shooting the hell out of everything.


The main strength of the game comes from two places.  The references and in jokes are very well slotted in to the game and really cracked me up.  They're made even funnier by the cast, in particular Will Arnett as Matt Hazard.  I really couldn't imagine anyone else in the title role because his voice is positively perfectly as the bitter and cynical character.  Add the always funny Neil Patrick Harris to the mix and you have a fantastic cast that really make the game a hell of a lot more fun than it should really be.

Another thing that I liked were the funny little messages that poked fun at the fact that you are waiting for the game to load in that it would have little jabs at other games and at the game conventions such as tutorial sequences and other such things.

This isn't an awful game by any stretch of the imagination.  That honour goes to the awful Doctor Who game called 'Return to Earth'.  This game is the gaming equivalent of a 'so bad it's fun to watch' movie, although that may sound a little harsh.  While the level design and the repetitive nature of the game play does start to get a little annoying after a while, the sense of fun and the humour really made me enjoy this game a hell of a lot more than I maybe would have done other wise.

Graphics 4/5
Game Play 3/5
Replay Value 3/5
Overall 10/15

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Tick: The Complete Series Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Created By Ben Edlund

Watched On Netflix

Genre
Superhero, Comedy

Cast

Patrick Warburton as The Tick
Liz Vassey as Captain Liberty
David Burke as Arthur
Nestor Carbonell as Batmanuel
William Newman as The Cape
 
Synopsis

Based on the satirical cult comic book THE TICK tells the tale of the titular super hero who is named the official Protector of the City after crashing a super hero convention. He finds a sidekick in Arthur, an accountant who wears a moth costume.

Review

There are many times that just as a television series starts to find it's own feet, the people in charge of the channels it's on cancel it.  The live action series of 'The Tick' is most definitely a prime example of that.

Just as the show was gathering steam, it was sadly cancelled after just nine episodes despite the critical plaudits thrown at it and the fan base that it had gathered for itself.  That's a real shame but on the plus side, the nine episodes we do have here are very good.  It's just a case of 'what could have been' really if the channel had just shown it a little bit more faith.

Based on the satirical comic book of the same time, this manages to keep the feel of that comic all while making it's own identity at the same time.  I think a lot of that is down to the very good writing that's on show here as well as the superb direction.  Barry Sonnenfield helped to produce the series and even took the directors chair as well and is often quoted as saying that the show is one of the best things that he has ever made.

However good the writing and direction are, it would all be for nothing if the cast didn't match up to that high standard but they more than meet that challenge.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I honestly couldn't imagine anybody else in any of the roles.

Patrick Warburton absolutely shines as The Tick.  His simple minded naivety really makes the character completely loveable as well as insanely funny.  There were many times when he had me in tears of laughter just with a facial expression or a well placed word.

David Burke is the perfect foil to go against that kind of slapstick humour.  His dry delivery of the dialogue and facial expressions that rid as if he gets frustrated but not angry at The Tick really bounce off Warburton's performance fantastically well.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Liz Vassey, as Captain Liberty, who really doesn't ever seem to  get enough credit for being a good actress.  Here she plays a self centered character but still manages to do it without the character becoming unlikeable.  It's the same with Batmanuel played by Nestor Carbonell.  Normally his sort of character would really start to grate on a viewers nerves after a while but Carbonell manages to make his bumbling, sex obsessed superhero have a kind heart no matter how many knock backs he gets.

There are some great cameo appearances here as well.  I won't spoil them for you but the best two for me were Ron Perlman, Hellboy himself,  as an alcoholic superhero with a messiah complex and TJ Thyne, from television's 'Bones', as a geeky fan boy at a book signing.

All in all this is most definitely a series worth picking up.  It's a case of 'what could have been'  because just as the series was improving with each episode, it got cancelled and that's a shame.  It's easy to see why it's looked back on with such fondness because the writing for the episodes is so strong that even though the humour ranges from old school style slapstick up to intelligent satire, it never once feels disjointed.  Throw in some fantastic performances by the cast, especially Patrick Warburton as The Tick, and you don't really have any excuse to not watch this superb but sadly short series.

Show 4.5/5

The Tick (2001–2002) on IMDb

For some reason, this has only been released on to Region 1 DVD but if you should wise to purchase it, here's the link.

First A Girl (1935) Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Marjorie Gaffney Based on Viktor / Viktoria By Reinhold Schunzel (Uncredited)
Directed By Victor Saville

Watched On Netflix

A Gaumont British Picture Corporation Poduction

Genre
Comedy, Romance, Musical

Cast

Jessie Matthews as Elizabeth
Sonnie Hale as Victor
Anna Lee as Princess Mironoff
Griffith Jones as Robert
Alfred Drayton as Mr McLintock

Synopsis

Elizabeth, a delivery girl, dreams of being a music-hall singer but she is refused at the first casting she takes part in. A bit depressed, she gets to know Victor, a would-be Shakespearean actor and another audition victim.

When Victor quite unexpectedly gets a female part in a music-hall number he unfortunately finds himself voiceless. Why wouldn't Elizabeth replace it? His new friend hesitates but finally makes her debut as ... a man posing for a woman!

She is noticed by McLintock, an influential talent agent who hires Mr. Victoria (Elizabeth's stage name) and launches his/her brilliant international career. One day, Robert, a handsome young man engaged to Princess Mironoff, makes friends with this young man posing as a woman posing as a man...

Review

An English version of the German movie 'Victor Und Victoria', this classic from 1935 starred the real life husband and wife team of Jesse Matthews and Sonnie Hale.

This movie is most definitely a product of it's times but that's what makes it so hilarious funny and yet touching to watch.  There really seems to be a sense of wonder, innocence and naivety to the entire movie and that''s pushed forward by the positively charming performances, especially the leads Hale and Matthews.

You can really see that they were a couple in real life because their chemistry on screen is fantastic, especially in the scenes where they perform together.  Come to think of it, that leads us to a bit of trivia.  Hale, for the first part of the movie wears an incredibly long scarf as part of his costume.  It was apparently made for him by Matthews herself on the set of her previous movie 'Evergreen' but I digress.

The performances here have a real charm and a bit of a vaudeville feel to them.  In fact, it would be nearly impossible to not at least raise a smile thanks to this movie and it's performances.  Matthews is by far the star of the show.  Her charm and warmth really flows in to the character and you can't help but find yourself rooting for her.

Let's not discount Sonnie Hale however.  It's his facial expressions and slapstick style to his humour that is sorely missing in the movies of today.  Hale's quite physical style of comedy really worked brilliantly well next to the sheer innocence of Matthew's performance.

The song and dance set pieces range from the hilariously funny to the stunningly beautiful without the movie feeling disjointed at all.  This is probably due to the performances as well as  the direction by the great Victor Saville.  He really had an eye for the details in a scene and that's evident here as well.

I honestly think that this is the first version of the 'Viktor und Viktoria' story by far and if you are a fan of the classic black and white movies that Gaumont made then you are definitely  in for a treat.

Movie 4/5

First a Girl (1935) on IMDb

Daddy Long Legs (1955) DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron Based on the Novel By Jean Webster
Directed By Jean Negulesco

A Twentieth Century Fox Production

Genre
Romance, Musical

Cast

Fred Astaire as Jervis Pendleton III
Leslie Caron as Julie Andre
Terry Moore as Linda Pendleton
Thelma Ritter as Alicia Pritchard
Fred Clark as Griggs
Charlotte Austin as Sally McBride
Larry Keating as Ambassador Alexander Williamson
Kathryn Givney as Gertrude Pendleton
Kelly Brown as Jimmy McBride
Ray Anthony as Himself

Certificate U

Synopsis

Wealthy American Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire) has a chance encounter at a French orphanage with a cheerful 18-year-old resident, Julie Andre (Leslie Caron). He anonymously pays for her education at a New England college.

She writes letters to her mysterious benefactor regularly, but he never writes back. Her nickname for him, "Daddy Long Legs", is taken from the description of him given to Andre by some of her fellow orphans who see his shadow as he leaves their building.

Several years later, he visits her at school, still concealing his identity. Despite their large age difference, they soon fall in love.

Special Features
  • Audio commentary from film historian Ken Barnes and Fred Astaire's daughter Ava Astaire-McKenzie, with archive audio material from Johnny Mercer.
  • Movietone News footage from both the LA and London premieres with commentary from Ava Astaire-McKenzie.
  • Stills gallery including Astaire Family photographs. 

Review

As a massive Fred Astaire fan and of classic movies in particular, I was massively happy to finally get a chance to see this one after reading a bit about it online.

An actor such as Fred Astaire has a massive reputation to live up with his movies.  It's a high standard of quality indeed but does this one live up to that?

Well, yes and no.

This is most definitely one of the most beautifully shot of his movies by far with some truly gorgeous scenes and set pieces.  There are also some great performances by the cast as well that really go a long way to making this movie have a really gentle heart at the middle of it.

However, for some reason it just doesn't stand up as well to the rest of his movies and that's a bit of a shame because there are truly some imaginative scenes in this movie and a really sweet story running through,

While it may seem a bit trite or overly sweet to some but that's of the main strengths of the movie itself.  It's that innocence that really draws the viewer in to seeing what's going on and for getting emotionally involved in the characters lives.

That's thanks to the performances of the cast themselves.  The pairing of Caron and Astaire works really well.  It's true that their set pieces aren't as amazing as the ones between Astaire and Rogers but in all honesty, I don't think anybody could live up to that standard.  That said, Astaire and Caron work really well together.  Considering their massively different dancing styles, they shouldn't mesh as well as they do.

The one thing that truly bothered me about the movie were the dream sequences.  It's very true that they look absolutely stunning and that they are very eye catching indeed but, for me, they just seem to run a little too long.  They make their point very well but I feel that they would have been a  little more effective if they had been slightly shorter.  That said, there are some fantastic moments of dancing in those sequences.

The Gallic charm of the movie gives it a lovely layer of charm and the sheer innocence of the performances give it a really adorable romantic feel.  The age difference between Astaire and Caron does push the falling in love side of the story a little bit but the performances really win the viewers over.

If you are a Fred Astaire fan or you just love classic movies then this one is well worth picking up.

Movie 4/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 3.5/5
Overall 15.5/20



Daddy Long Legs (1955) on IMDb 
 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Powers Bureau Issue 5 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

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

Published By Icon

Genre
Superhero, Action

Synopsis

The Eisner Award winning series continues with Walker deep undercover in a dangerous criminal gang and Pilgrim pregnant with a 'Powers' baby.  Just what is going to happen next?

Review

I've been really enjoying this series during the first four issues of 'Powers Bureau', although there just seems to be something missing from this issue yet I can't put my finger on to it.

The ingredients are all there for another good issue.  We have fast pacing, action and a good ending that leads nicely in to the next issue yet for some reason I just didn't enjoy this issue as much as the others.

In all honesty, it kind of feels like a 'spinning wheels' issue.  There were some developments in the story but they didn't really have the 'holy crap' feel that some of the others have had in previous installments.  That said, Bendis does make up for that with an ending that made me want to grab issue 6 as soon as I possibly can.

I think the problem with this issue is that where as the previous ones seemed like they were 'balls to the wall', this one just came across as a little pedestrian in the excitement level.

The art however is most definitely still at the massively high level that Michael Avon Oeming normally works at.  I don't think I've gotten a badly drawn comic with Oeming's name on it.  He's the most consistent artist in comics right now and that always ramps up the quality of any title that he works on.

While it's a bit of a disappointing issue when compared with the previous ones, it's still good one when compared to some of the other stuff out there.  Hopefully the momentum will pick back up with the next issue.

Story 3/5
Art 4/5
Overall 7/10

Falling Skies Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Paul Tobin
Art By Juan Ferreyra
Cover By Steve Morris

Published By Dark Horse Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Television Tie In

Synopsis

Based on the television series 'Falling Skies' from TNT and DreamWorks Television.

In the heart of Boston, following the devastating events of an alien invasion, history professor Tom Mason and his sons, Hal, Matt and Ben are just trying to survive.

After an extreme firefight with the aliens, Ben gets kidnapped.  Determined to get his son back, Tom joins forces with the Second Mass, a militia group that is taking the fight against the aliens.

But with the group's munitions supplies running low, Tom must locate an old friend to equip himself and his team in order to ensure the survival of the human race!

Review

When I got this graphic novel I was a little worried that I might be a bit lost as I haven't been watching the show that's currently on television.  I picked it up because it sounded really interesting and plus, it was in a sale so who can resist some cheap science fiction?

Well, I need not have worried because they have done a very clever thing with this release.  It works as both a stand alone title, albeit with an ending that I assume leads in to the series, and as a link to the television show itself.

The story is very well paced and set out.   As a prequel to the series it works superbly well.  It shows just how everything happened and came about.  In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that I would now pick up the series.

The characters here are given a little bit of a back story, the main character gets the brunt of this for obvious reasons, but I get the feeling that this is a release that would definitely reward the long time viewers of the television show.  However, don't let that put you off of reading this one.  It's exciting and the pacing really gives it a cinematic quality.

Art wise, the characters really do look like the people in the show all while keeping Juan Ferreyra's unique style.  His art really works the best in the darker, shadow filled scenes.  Using the shadows and settings to his advantage, the impact of when the aliens and their creations appear is tenfold.  It really comes across as a page turner both story and art wise.

I was massively impressed with just how much I enjoyed this release.  Even though I hadn't seen any episodes of the television show itself, I didn't feel lost once.  In fact, it's made me want to see the show now whereas before, I'd wrongly dismissed it as 'just another science fiction' show.

Well worth picking up regardless of whether you are a fan of the series or not.

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

The Art of the Last of Us Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Nate Wells, Arne Meyer and Eric Monacelli
Introduction By Neil Bruckman (Creative Director) and Bruce Straley (Game Director)

Published By Dark Horse Books

Genre
Concept Art, Gaming

Synopsis

Naughty Dog Studios and Dark Horse proudly present the essential companion to The Last of Us, a richly detailed and compelling game set in a post-pandemic world where humans have become an endangered species.

Featuring concept art, character designs, and astonishing settings and landscapes, The Art of The Last of Us provides a unique look at one of the gaming world’s most eagerly anticipated titles.

Review

'The Last of Us' has been one of the most highly anticipated and highly rated games in a very long time.  Gamers have been quite literally chomping at the bit for more news, screen shots and game play snippets since day one so I was very excited to be able to read this book and see how they made the game itself.

I have to admit though, I was a little disappointed in what we have here.  The game itself is superb, it looks great and has multiple layers to the game play and the characters.  However, this 'making of' book doesn't really have that.

That's not to say that it's a bad book at all because it really isn't.  Some of the art here is absolutely beautiful and really shows the evolution of the characters and the settings in a really good way.  In fact, I kept flicking back to certain pictures because I liked them so much.  The variety of art is a wide range of things connected with the game but it's the writing that lets it down.

Instead of an in depth look, we get small captions that give us a little snippet of information about the drawing that it's accompanying.  Don't get me wrong, the captions are quite interesting but it's a case of wanting a little bit more than the end result.  I'm not one of those fans that must know every single little thing about the making of a game or a movie but at the same time I would have liked to have seen a little bit more information than the amount we have ended up with.

If you are a fan of the game then no doubt you will absolutely  love this book because the pictures are absolutely superb at showing the evolution of the game itself.  I've always been a fan of books with concept art in and this one doesn't fail at all on that front.  It's just a shame that there wasn't more information included, although what we do  get is written in a concise and easy manner.

Presentation 4/5
Informative 3/5
Recommended 3.5/5
Overall 10.5/15

Friday, 19 July 2013

An Interview With Peter Bergting, Author / Illustrator of 'Domovoi'


Peter Bergting, author of the new graphic novel ‘Domovoi’ as well as the comic book series ‘The Portent’, has kindly popped in to the Curiosity of the Social Misfit world to talk about his career and his inspirations.

PC:  Welcome to the site Mr Bergting, it’s an honour to have you here with us today so let’s jump straight in to things.

PB:  Indeed! Let’s!

PC:  You are perhaps best known to comic book fans as the creator of the series ‘The Portent’ that was published by Image Comics.  How did writing that series differ to writing your new graphic novel ‘Domovoi’?

PB:  For starters, The Portent was my first attempt at doing a full length book. I had written stuff in the past but this marked the first time writing a coherent story from start to finish. And The Portent had at least three false starts before it ended up at Image Comics. Not wildly different, some characters stayed the same and the basics of the plot. Well, that’s not entirely true, the very first inklings of the story were set in WWII.

PC:  ‘Domovoi’ has a dark, fantasy feel to it yet feels at home in the real world at the same time.  What inspired you to write such a story?

PB:  Domovoi was intended to be The Portent part II but ended up being so different in setting I separated them. Domovoi was also originally published online when Dark Horse got wind of it. I redrew everything and trimmed the story from that point. And the story itself began life as a YA novel, probably 7-8 years ago before I realized it would be better off as a graphic novel.

PC:  You have always had a rather unique drawing style.  Have there been any artists that have inspired you during your career?

PB:  For sure. The main influences that have stayed with me are Moebius, later came Mezieres and Mignola. Artists that begin with M mostly. Hm…

PC:  Not only are you a comic book and graphic novel writer, you have also written a fantasy series published in your home country.  Are there any plans to publish and translate them in to English at all?

PB:  Yes, when time permits. I’m translating them myself so other stuff always gets in the way. I have an editor waiting for me to turn in pages but right now I have to focus on other stuff.

PC:  You have written a lot of stories during your career but do you have a particular favourite at all?

PB:  Yeah, I think my favourite is a four page story in Popgun that we actually won an Eisner for. That little ghost story is so slim and coherent and with a nice twist I didn’t even see coming myself.

PC:  You’re known as both a writer and an artist but which one would you say you are most at ease with or do you feel as comfortable in both of them?

PB:  I think it goes hand in hand. I write painterly and try to paint stories.

PC: Do you have a particular quirk or tradition when you’re working?

PB:  I’m sure I have many. Surfing the web for sure. But one thing that I guess is a quirk is that I have to try the nib of the pen before drawing, like I use to do with inks. Just press down hard to see if the nib responds the way I want it to, leaving a little blotch. I do that digitally as well, which makes no sense at all!

PC:  You are very personable with your fans, has that lead to any funny stories or experiences?

PB:  Yeah,  many of them have ended up good friends. And that’s a great experience. One of my first encounters was Neil Hill who slammed the language in The Portent, I asked him to help me out if he thought it sucked and he stayed on as my editor for the rest of the series.

PC:  What’s next for Peter Bergting?

PB:  Next up is finishing The Untamed GN and after that straight into The Portent part 2, finally, after 7 years.

PC:  Thank you so much for talking to us here today.  It’s been an absolute pleasure Mr Bergting.

PB:  Thank you!

'Domovoi' is available to buy now from all good bookstores and sites!

Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat: Live Show Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Adapted By Katie Mitchell Based on the Book By Dr Seuss

Directed By Katie Mitchell

Genre
Play, Comedy, Family

Watched On Netflix

Cast

Angus Wright as The Cat in the Hat
Justin Salinger as Brother / Narrator
Helena Lymbery as Sally
Mark Arends as The Fish
Luisa Guerreiro as Thing 1 / Mini Cat in the Hat
Sandra Guerreiro as Thing 2 / Mini Cat in the Hat

Synopsis

The National Theatre's production of "The Cat in the Hat" is a lively, engaging performance for children of all ages.

Based on the much-loved storybook by Dr. Seuss, this tale is colorfully adapted for the stage by director, Katie Mitchell.

Review

After the awful movie starring Mike Myers as 'The Cat in the Hat' that had none of the charm of the book, I've always been rather wary of any other adaptations.  Dr Seuss has always been a hard style to replicate to varying degrees of success so when I found this on Netflix, I figured I'd give it a go as my four year old son absolutely loves the Dr Seuss stories and 'The Cat in the Hat' is one of his favourites by far.

For a stage show with minimal scenery and settings, the cast and the director, Katie Mitchell, do a truly fantastic job of recreating the chaotic yet fun nature of the story.  Where the movie version just went for sheer chaos and anarchy without the charm or fun nature of of the original, the stage show doesn't suffer any such problems.  In fact, the cast truly work their butts off to engage the audience and create a great sense of fun and imagination.

The best part of the play by far is the 'balancing on the ball' scene in that I really wasn't sure how on Earth they could recreate that yet it looked fantastically fun and made my little lad laugh like crazy.

All in all, if you have Netflix or even get a chance to see this show live then you should definitely give it a go.  It's much better than the movie attempt and has all of the charm, imagination and excitement of the book itself.  If you enjoyed the live show version of 'The Gruffalo' that came out a couple of years ago then you will definitely love this one too.  I know my little lad did.

Show 4/5


"I Like's This One.  Cat in the Hat is My Favourite.  I Gives It 5!"

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane By Neil Gaiman Review

Review By Ashley Scattergood

Written By Neil Gaiman

Published By Headline Review

Genre
Fantasy, Drama

Synopsis

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark - from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

Review

I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone that knows me that I requested that this book be pre-ordered as one of my birthday presents. I was so excited that I even excitedly arrived home on the 18th June fully expecting to find the book and begin reading it immediately…. Unfortunately Pat had accidentally had it sent to his Mother’s house so I had to wait a few days!

I had high expectations from the beginning after reading scores of reviews that pointed towards this book being as thought provoking as Neil Gaiman’s renowned novel American Gods.

As always, with Neil’s words I found myself being pulled from my cosy bed into the main characters world from the very first page, with a wonderful rhythm to the book that kept it flowing and captivated my attention throughout… so much so that I’m certain my lovely fiancĂ© got ignored on several occasions, and even possibly shushed!

Now I know there are reviews out there that will provide a summary of the book but well I don’t see the point in that, the synopsis available is already the best you can get, it was written by the author after all. If you want more… well then read the book!

Suffice to say you will be taken on a wonderful ride through childhood innocence, death, fear, love, magic, monsters, courage and the universe, to name a few things. And you will feel just as the character feels and see his world through his eyes, the good and the bad.

The thing I love about Neil’s work, which as expected he delivered by the bucket load with this book, is his ability to provoke a multitude of reactions. Whilst his work clearly conveys particular messages, in reality the underlying messages are only the readers interpretation of his words. That is not to say that any one person’s interpretation is right or wrong, simply that his writing style is such that it causes the reader to question many things in response. I came away questioning the cyclic nature of life and the human need to feel validated.

I was left feeling that childlike wonder at what could be out there in the universe and questioning reality. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t love a book that makes them feel like a child again, if only momentarily!