Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Ides of March Blu-ray Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Based on the Play 'Farragut North' By Beau Willimon

Written By
George Clooney
Beau Willimon
Grant Heslov

Directed By
George Clooney

A Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media Group, Smokehouse Pictures, Crystal City Entertainment Film

Genre
Drama, Thriller

Cast

Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers
George Clooney as Governor Mike Morris
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Paul Zara
Paul Giamatti as Tom Duffy
Evan Rachel Wood as Molly Stearns
Marisa Tomei as Ida Horowicz
Jeffrey Wright as Senator Thompson
Jennifer Ehle as Cindy Morris

Certificate 15

Synopsis

Written and directed by Academy Award winner George Clooney and starring Ryan Gosling, The Ides Of March is an electrifying tale of ambition, betrayal and revenge.

As up and coming press secretary Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) battles tirelessly for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) in a frantic election race he becomes distracted by sexy young intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood). Whilst concealing their affair he agrees to meet the opposition's campaign manager (Paul Giamatti), who offers him a job on his staff. Stephen neglects to inform his boss of the meeting and as his silence is revealed he discovers a dirty personal secret that could sink Morris' political career. Stephen must then decide whether to enact revenge or use it to his advantage.

Boasting a stellar cast including George Clooney, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood, this seductive, award-winning thriller will leave audiences guessing until the very last moment. 

Special Features
  • Commentary With George Clooney and Grant Heslov
  • Developing the Campaign: The Origins of Ides of March
  • Believe: George Clooney
  • On the Campaign: The Cast of Ides of March
  • What Does a Political Consultant Do?

Review

Political movies have recently had a bit of a bad rap for a while.  Some are positively superb and others don't really seem to go anywhere.  However, there appears to be a resurgence thanks to shows such as 'House of Cards' starring the enigmatic Kevin Spacey.

When I saw that not only was George Clooney one of the writers for this film but also the director, I was massively excited to see the movie.  Not only does he have a knack for directing well paced and superbly acted movies but he also puts in a great performance of his own.

One of the things that you shouldn't do is just write this movie off as just a look at the back alley dealings of American politicians.  This movie is a lot better than that.  The best way to describe it would be that it's a morality tale.  The levels of political melodrama are really well written and with Clooney's steady directorial hand, the cynicism and paranoia of the characters makes the movie absolutely gripping.

However, that would be worthless if the cast weren't good enough to carry that level of quality on their shoulders.  Here, there was no chance of them falling short.  I mean just look at the cast.  Not only do you have Clooney himself but you also have a star studded cast of Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman and so many more.  That said, the complete star of the movie is that of Ryan Gosling, who steals pretty much every scene he's in.  His subtle and layered performance here as the press secretary Stephen Myers is superb.  When the movie starts he's quite impressionable but as the movie progresses, he becomes more and more jaded and cynical.  It's an incredibly impressive performance and one that shows just why he is rated so highly.

I must admit that this movie will not be to everyone's tastes.  It's a massively cynical movie that sometimes spills in to bitterness and paranoia so you won't come away from it feeling a warm, fuzzy feeling.  However, if you want to sit and watch an intelligent movie with some truly brilliant performances from the entire cast then you are in for a treat with this one.

Movie 8/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 7/10
Overall 32/40

Shadows in the Woods: An Interview With Maria Olsen, Wain Bradley and Jimmy Jett Westmoreland


We here at COASM have got a treat for you guys and girls.  With the announcement that horror icon Maria Olsen is set to star in the new movie ‘Haddie’, we thought we’d treat you with a special interview.  But this isn’t just any old interview.  Instead we have not only Maria Olsen but also Wain Bradley and Jimmy Jett Westmoreland as well!

PS:  Firstly, thank you so much for popping in to talk to us about the new movie guys.

JW - Thanks for having us.  It's hard for us not to talk about the movie.

WB- Thanks Patrick for giving us the opportunity to share not only about our film but working as an indie filmmaker today.

MO – You rock, Patrick! Thank you SO much.

PS:  How would you all describe the new movie ‘Haddie’ to our readers?

JW – An atmospheric horror movie.

WB-. An old fashion horror movie, with creatures moving in the shadows, intense dramatic music, and moments of terrifying surprise.

PS:  What inspired you guys to create a horror movie such as this?

JW – We didn't choose it as much as it chose us.  That being said, as the writer, I love horror stories.  I grew up reading Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, etc., and watching the  Universal and Hammer movies.  I have a long love affair with the genre.  When I saw and heard Wain's work on an experimental film we did, I knew that we should take advantage of his dark musical expression.

WB - I was introduced to Haddie as we finished our last film. We both wanted to do another project but this time, take the things we learned, make the best film with the highest production value we could afford.

PS:  You’ve cast the ‘Hardest Working Woman in Horror’ Maria Olsen in a main role.  How did your partnership with her come about?

JW – Of all the manager and agent offices we should have had to go through through to be introduced to Maria, we actually met her through Facebook.  It was very quick.  She read the script, we reviewed her reel, and we all fell in love.  It was very romantic in that “sweep you off your feet” sense for me.

WB - Maria’s reel and the many looks she presented on camera, just knocked me out. We had always said Haddie would be a tough role to fill as she is many things. With Maria’s range as an actor, Haddie is a great fit for her.

PS:  Maria, what drew you to ‘Haddie’ and made you want to jump straight in to filming it?
MO – Anyone who knows me knows that I thrive on challenges and that I get tend not to perform at my best when I don’t have enough to do. I’m also always looking to push myself to see if I can actually discover my limits – nope, haven’t found them yet – and I thought that the role of Haddie with its physical, mental and emotional challenges would indeed push me to perform at my best. And then there’s the matter that Jimmy Jett and Wain have created a wonderful script that I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into... It’s also not often that a leading female role is written for a woman in my age category – be that in horror or in mainstream or other genre movies – so I’m very, very lucky to have been chosen to play this one.

PS:  While making and writing movies, do any of you have any quirks or traditions that you follow?

JW – If I'm home, I always write in the same spot - next to an old manual typewriter, a zombie head in a bowl, and a stuffed alien.

PS:  In the horror world, who would you say has  been the biggest inspiration to you all?

JW – All the legends; John Carpenter, Roger Corman, Alfred Hitchcock, Rob Zombie...  There are so many.

WB - Ridley Scott/Alien, Chris Carter/X Files and Robert Rodat/Fallen Skies.

MO – Sissy Spacek in Carrie, Sigourney Weaver (The “Alien” series counts as horror, right?), Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, my mother (who ADORED Dracula and introduced me to everything Dracula at a ridiculously early age!)

PS:  What can horror fans expect to see from ‘Haddie’?

JW – Although modern, Haddie is basically, a good, old-fashion horror movie.  We have monsters, we have the dark, creepy house in the woods, we have characters just like you, your friends or family who find themselves trapped.

WB - A married couple going through difficult times in their relationship, money problems, different dreams and unknown infidelity, while all hell breaks loose outside Haddie’s house. 

PS:  As you all know, the horror genre is crowded with movie after movie but what would you say makes yours stand out above the crowd?

JW – With talent like Maria Olsen, Erica Hubbard, Steve Railsback, and the rest of our cast, my first answer is THE ACTORS.  The horror films I most like are the ones with great actors, who give the characters depth and let me get into the movie and not come out until it's over.  Right behind that is, the story of Haddie is a little more character-driven than a lot of horror movies, and Wain's editing and sound design are amazing.

WB - I have second what JW shared. The cast of course, but I keep being told from the actors, the layers of the story and the personal chaos wrapped into the script, will give the viewer maybe something to identity with in their lives while we wait for the next creature to pop out.

PS:  When can fans get to see ‘Haddie’?
 
JW – We're scheduled to begin production in May and hope to have post completed by the end of the year.

WB - The first thing I will work on will be a trailer to have something we can use to create interest in the film and give everyone a flavor for what Haddie will be.

PS:  So, after Haddie, what will be next for you all?

JW – The sequel to Haddie is being scripted now and will go into development as soon as Haddie's in post.  Hopefully my next collection of novellas will be out as well as the novel The Gathering.  Also in 2014, development starts on a 1970's horror remake.

WB- I will move right into development of the sequel and start the fund raising so we can present the next chapter of the tale. 

MO – I get back to Los Angeles and go straight into shooting the horror feature Agoraphobia, produced by the awesome Lou Simon and the kick-ass Tara Cardinal! Yes! You heard it here first!!!!!

PS:  Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at COASM, personally we can’t wait to see the movie.

JW – Thank you very much for letting us speak about the project.  It's going to be a very, very wild ride!

WB- Thanks again Patrick and we encourage everyone to swing by our Facebook page and hit the like button, and tell your friends, this is going to be a different kind of horror movie.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I Am Automaton Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Edward P. Cardillo

Published By
Severed Press

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

In the near future, terrorists and drug cartels threaten the security of a United States reeling from the Rollercoaster Recession, escalating unemployment, and air saturated with toxic pollen. Sergeant Peter Birdsall's squad is wiped out by the Navajas cartel in Tijuana thanks to a tip from a mole within. The only survivor, he is recruited into the army’s mysterious infantry drone program by Major Lewis, who promises that the program will revolutionize the war on terror and the cartels.

While Peter is trained in the use of these infantry drones to hunt down enemies of freedom in normally inaccessible terrain, his younger egg-head brother, Carl, can no longer afford college. Tempted to follow in his older brother’s footsteps, Carl considers enlisting. Now, Peter must balance the dangers of his work with keeping his brother out of harm’s way. However, Carl, like the drones, has a mind of his own. 

Review

Since I started blogging and reviewing books, and in particular indie / small press books, I've been sent a lot of horror and action stories involving either viruses, terrorist attacks or even a combination of both.

When I saw that this one was another terrorist themed horror novel I have to admit that I was thinking the whole 'here we go again' mindset and therefore, wrongly, put off reading it for a little while despite it sounded really interesting.

I kept going back to the novel and looking at it but not giving it a full on read until now and I have to admit one thing.  I wish I had read it a lot sooner.

What we have here isn't the stereotypical terrorist or zombie story.  Cardillo manages to combine the two worlds as well as adding a military centered action story too.  Those things combine very well with Cardillo's fast pacing to create an exciting story with a hell of a lot of twists and turns.

One of things that I liked the most was that it wasn't just a splatter book or have gore just for the sake of having gore.  Instead this was an intelligent take on the zombie genre that combined the human aspect and really hammered home the idea of war not just being fought in the war itself.  It showed that a war of pretty much any kind is also fought in the minds of the soldiers, the people they leave behind and much more.  That really gave the story another aspect and hooked me in.

I also really liked the idea that the undead have been harnessed as a military weapon to fight the war against insurgents and the like.  While on paper that may sound a little far fetched, in the hands of a writer like Cardillo the story feels realistic and almost as if it could really happen.  It was a nice change to read a story by a writer that didn't feel the need to make everything bombastic and over the top.

All in all, if you like books with a military tint or a zombie story with a brain (although not one that you need to seek out and eat), then this is most definitely a book worth picking up.

Story 8/10
Characters 7/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Beautiful Darling DVD Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written and Directed By
James Rasin

A Flowerside Creations, Jjay Productions Film

Cast

Candy Darling as Herself
Andy Warhol as Himself
Holly Woodlawn as Herself
Paul Morrissey as Himself
Jeremiah Newton as Himself
John Waters as Himself
Julie Newmar as Herself
Chloe Sevigny as Narrator

Certificate E

Synopsis

Beautiful Darling pays tribute to the short but extraordinary life of actress Candy Darling, Although born a man she was drawn to the feminine from childhood and by the mid-Sixties James had become Candy, a blonde actress and well-known New York character. 

There she became close to Andy Warhol and starred in two of his movies. Candy used her Warhol fame to land further film roles, but tragically she died of lymphoma at only twenty-nine. 

The film uses both current and previous interviews, excerpts from Candy's own diaries and letters to explain her life. The films explore the glamorous parties, the famous friends and most of all the strength of will she demonstrated in her remarkable act of self-creation. 

Special Features
  • None

Review

The story of Candy Darling is one full of hope as well as tragedy yet strangely is a story of trying to find yourself amongst all the people in the world.

I've read quite a few books on her life  as well as a few articles so I was really looking forward to seeing this one, especially after hearing so much about how good a documentary it was.

Candy Darling is a cult figure amongst Andy Warhol fans in that she was one of the most famous of the 'Warhol Superstars' and that she had so much promise that I really felt that she could break out of the mould made by Andy Warhol that would sometimes plague the others in his inner circle.

Excerpts from her diary, published in book form as the book 'My Face For the World to See', are read here by the criminally under rated actress Chloe Sevigny.  Her fragile voice really bring Darling's words to life here yet don't write her off as a victim or a sob story.  That would be a massive flaw and really a poor service to the makers of the documentary and Candy Darling's life.

Jeremiah Newton apparently first approached the director to make this movie and it really shows the level of love and care that Newton had for Candy.  His story really touched my heart in that he recorded oral interviews with friends and family of Candy throughout the years and you get to hear some of the great stories about her childhood and her early years.

For me, that really added another layer to the documentary in that it gave it a personal side to it instead of being a stale word for word look at someone's life.

The thing to remember is that Candy Darling became the glamorous star that she had always yearned to be and while her life was short, she accomplished a lot in a short time on this Earth.  The one thing that did bug me a bit was that they glossed over a few, 'not so innocent', moments in her life.  They also didn't link the connection between the Cancer that killed her and the hormone medication.  Maybe that seemed to be because of Jeremiah's involvement in the making of the documentary and that hurt the documentary a little in my eyes.  

All in all, this was a very fascinating look at the tragic, short life of Candy Darling.  I really thought that they did a good job at giving us a look at what made Darling tick and her early years as well as the fact that even when dying from Cancer, she just didn't stop performing until the very end.  Definitely one well worth picking up if you get the chance.

Movie 7/10
Picture 7/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features N/A
Overall 22/30

The Heart of Valour Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tanya Huff

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Action

Synopsis

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr was a Confederation Marine's marine. She'd survived more deadly encounters-and kept more of her officers and enlistees alive-than anyone in the Corps, and she was determined to keep that record intact. But since her last mission, she'd been sidelined into endless briefings and debriefings with no end in sight. So, of course, she'd jumped at the chance to go to Crucible-the Marine Corps training planet-as a temporary aide to Major Svensson. 

The major had been reduced to little more than a brain and a spinal cord in his last combat, and he and his doctor were anxious to field-test his newly regrown body. It should have been an easy twenty-day run. After all, Crucible was only set up to simulate battle situations so that recruits could be trained safely. But they were barely on-planet when someone started blasting the training scenarios to smithereens. 

Suddenly, Kerr found herself not only responsible for the major and his doctor but caught in a desperate fight to keep a platoon of Marine recruits alive until someone could discover what was happening on Crucible.

Review

Tanya Huff is fast becoming a permanent fixture on this site due to her prolific nature and the amount of her books that are being released by those folks at Tanya Huff.

Here, she returns to her 'Confederation' series and boy what a return it is.  The first book in the series was a very well paced and well written novel whereas the second one seemed a little bit off and like it was missing something.

That's most definitely not the case here.  This is the third book in the 'Confederation' series and really ramps up the action.  Where as the characterization was a little off in the second book, it's the opposite here.  We get to find out new things about the characters that we already know but we also get introduced to some new ones too.  They sit really well with the existing characters without feeling too out of place.

Talking of the characters, it's great to see how much the character of Torin Kerr.growing in to such an exciting action hero in the series.  It is true that the novel can veer a little bit in to a couple of science fiction cliches but Huff's writing is so well paced and well thought out that it comes across as originally written.

If the quality of this story is anything to go by then I really can't wait to see what the next installment is going to be like in the series.  Once again Tanya Huff has released a well written and paced tale that  the science fiction fans out there can really get their teeth in to.

Story 8/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ragnarok Trilogy Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
John Meaney

Published By
Gollancz

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Adventure

Synopsis

In 8th century Norseland, a young warrior called Ulfr returns to his village where his comrades, under mesmeric compulsion, are slaying one of their own. In 1920s Zurich, a young Jewish woman, Gavriela Wolf, returning home from her first lecture at the ETH where Einstein studied, witnesses the first hint of fascist violence destined to sweep across Europe.

On 27th century Fulgor, Roger Blackstone – son of a long-term spy, his nature as a mu-space Pilot hidden – perceives an evil that cloaks itself from everybody else.

A million years from now, in an airless hall upon the Moon, decorated with shields and spears, Ulfr, Gavriela, Roger and others awaken in transparent bodies of living crystal, ready for the final battle. But in their normal waking lives, they will remember only fragments of far future meetings.

Each of their stories is a chronicle of their century and more, as their time-separated lives and minds become ever more entangled, playing out their parts in a confrontation that began an epoch ago.

Review

I figured that as this is an epic science fiction trilogy that it would be much better to review the entire trilogy as a whole so here we go sci-fi fans.

In the trilogy you have the books 'Absorption', 'Transmission' and 'Resonance' and they all can link in together like a jigsaw.

One of the things that I liked the most about the trilogy itself was the simple fact that they reward both the readers who want to read all three parts and the readers that just pick up on one or more of the books  themselves.

Obviously, if you read all three of them, you get a lot more out of the story.  That's one of the main strengths of Meaney's writing in that he has put so many layers in to the characters and the worlds that he has created that you can't help but get really in to the story itself.  That's especially true of the the characters themselves in that they always have their own particular reasons and motives for any of their actions.  There is never any moments in the  book that just seem to be there for the sake of being there, each and every scene has a purpose yet they keep the pace flowing brilliantly.

As a massive science fiction fan, I've read lots of apparent 'epics' in the genre yet this series is one that actually is well deserving of the title.   I love how if you read the trilogy as one book after another, it really flows as if it's one long novel instead of three separate parts.  You get to see the characters grow and mature in front of you.  The best way to describe it would be that it's a bit like watching a well planned out montage in a movie yet without the general cliched nature of such a thing.

All in all, if you love your science fiction to have a bit of an epic feel to it then you should get this trilogy right now.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it's one of the best series that I have read in the science fiction genre for a very long time.

Also John Meaney is a very good author that creates characters that you end up caring about and that really raises this series high above the other series in the genre.

Well worth picking up.

Story 8/10
Characters 8/10
Covers 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Enchantment Emporium Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tanya Huff

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Fantasy, Adventure

Synopsis

First volume of an urban fantasy series from the author of The Blood Books.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, and they like to keep this in the family. Alysha Gale is tired of having all her aunts try to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives willing her a "junk" shop in Calgary, Alysha jumps at the chance. 

It isn't until she gets there that she realizes her customers are fey. And no one told her there's trouble brewing in Calgary-trouble so big that even calling in the family may not save the day...

Review

Ever since I read the 'Blood' books by Tanya Huff, I've been a massive fan of her writing.  She seems as at home in the fantasy, supernatural and science fiction genres that you never know what you are going to get when you pick up one of her books.  I've always liked that about her writing.

When this book, the first in the series, dropped on to my doorstep courtesy of those lovely people at Titan Books, I honestly couldn't wait to open it and get started.

I have to admit that at first I was a bit confused when the book first started because Huff really does drop you straight in to the story and it kind of felt  like I had missed something.  That was a shame because it made me want to put the book down and have a good old internet search to see if I'd missed an installment in the series or something.

When I looked at some of the reviews, they nearly all mentioned that if you keep with the novel then you would be richly rewarded by the twists and turns that Huff manages to slide in to the story itself.

I'm glad that I stuck with it because the confusion felt at the beginning soon disappeared and fell in to place like a good jigsaw puzzle.  At times, I was a bit confused by the whole mating with everyone to find the perfect mate thing but at the same time, it showed how the characters all knit together.  It also showed the way that the entire family felt almost alienated and alone in the world because of their practices.

One thing that Huff is renowned for is her brilliant creation of realistic yet fantastical, in this case, worlds and idiosyncratic characters.  I really like how even the heroic style characters aren't perfect.  It's never a case of black and white in her stories, there are always shades of grey and that raises the quality of her stories much higher.

There are so many twists and turns here that the book really kept me guessing right up to the final page.  In fact, I really can't wait to get my hands on book two of the series.

Despite the slight misstep with the beginning chapter, it's well worth picking up.  Stick through the first chapter and you will indeed be richly rewarded by Huff's well paced and exciting writing.  Definitely up there with her 'Blood' book series.

Story 7/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Monday, 20 January 2014

Heroes, Villains and Everything In Between: An Interview With V.E. Schwab


V.E. Schwab, author of the new novel ‘Vicious’ has kindly taken the time to pop in to the part of the Internet world that COASM lives in to talk about her new book with Patrick Scattergood.

PS:  Firstly, welcome to the COASM site and many thanks for coming in to talk to us all today.
 
V.E.S:  My pleasure!

PS:  Your new book ‘Vicious’ is an intelligent look at just what would make a superhero and what would make someone ‘bad’ but how would you describe the book yourself?
 
V.E.S:  I’ve come to call it a supervillain origin story, which is simplistic, I know, but it is an origin story in the truest sense.

PS:  What inspired you to write such an interesting look at the superhero genre?
 
V.E.S:  I’ve always loved hero/villain culture, but I’ve no interest in black and white notions of good and evil. I don’t find them relatable, and I don’t find them inherently captivating. I wanted to explore the grey zone, the anti-heroes and anti-villains. Because real people very much live in that grey. And I wanted to explore the idea that when real people get superpowers, they don’t automatically become superheroes. They become real people with superpowers. Just as flawed and self-interested as they were before.

PS:  ‘Vicious’ is a rather unique take on the superhero idea in that the characters aren’t always clear cut as to who is good and who isn’t.  Were you inspired by any particular heroes or villains to write the story in that way?
 
V.E.S:  I knew I wanted to write a villain’s origin story, and I knew I wanted to play with the idea of heroism as a social construct. I was definitely more inspired by the Magnetos of the world than the Jokers.

PS:  You’re best known for your ‘young adult’ novels, so what made you want to step out of that side of writing to create ‘Vicious’?
 
V.E.S:  I don’t ever set out to write into a genre or an age bracket. It’s very much a case of “story first” for me. I had a couple of ideas that were well-suited to YA, and then I got the idea for Vicious, and it was Adult from day 1. I have never wanted to be an author who wrote in one category. I just want to write the best stories possible.

PS:  How would you say that writing ‘Vicious’ differed from writing your other novels?
 
V.E.S:  Vicious took much, much longer for one. I wrote it over the course of 3 years, in between other deadlines, and I never told anyone about it, not even my agent. So it was this protected project—it was just for ME—and that was glorious. The absence of pressure allowed me to go down several wrong roads and find the right one, as well as play with that complicated braided narrative structure until I found the place where it flowed and seemed effortless (nothing about that book’s structure is effortless).

PS:  Talking of writing your new book, what would say was the hardest part to write?
 
V.E.S:  I always say that the beginning is the hardest, along with the middle and the end. But as a writer of supernatural fiction, that beginning—the first 50 pages—is brutal, because you have to set up not only your characters and start your plot, you have to fully establish your WORLD, and you have to do it without infodumping. I spend 3-4 times as long on the first 50 pages as I do on the rest of the book. 

PS:  Do you have any quirks or traditions when you are writing a new book at all?
 
V.E.S:  Authors are known for being fairly neurotic in this dept, but I try very hard not to become dependent on too many factors when it comes to writing process. That said, every time I sit down with an idea, before I start actually writing chapters, I create plot points. 5-10 of them, moments that are absolutely vital for my story to be my story. If I can get the plot points, then I can find my way between them. Connect-the-dots writing.

PS:  What would you say inspired you the most to become an author?
 
V.E.S:  I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t know the form it would take until I was in college. I’d taken poetry courses through high school, and then started trying out short fiction, non-fiction, screenplay, in college before finally trying my hand at longer-length fiction. Because of this path, different authors inspired me along the way. Shel Silverstein inspired me to write poetry. Kelly Link came to my fiction 2 class and inspired me to write longer stories, but I distinctly remember reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and thinking, this, this is what I want to do. I want to write whole worlds. 

PS:  Do you have any words of advice to any aspiring authors out there that may be reading this?
 
V.E.S:  I always give the same advice, but I really, truly believe in it: Be brave. It’s perfectly natural to be afraid—of this industry, of the process, of exposing yourself—but you must always want this a little more than you are afraid of it.

PS:  Where can your fans expect from you next?
 
V.E.S:  I’m hoping we can announce my next adult book soon! It’s slated for an early 2015 release in the US, and it involves magic and multiple versions of London. And of course, since it’s me writing, it’s chock full of the grey and morally ambiguous ;)

PS:  Many thanks for popping in to speak to us about your new book, it’s most definitely one of our favorites of the year so far.
 
V.E.S:  I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for having me!

‘Vicious’ is released in the UK by Titan Books on the 10th January 2014.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Hellgate (1989) Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Michael O'Rourke

Directed By
William A. Levey

A Distant Horizon, Ghostown Film Management Film

Cast

Ron Palillo as Matt
Abigail Wolcott as Josie
Carel Trichardt as Lucas
Petrea Curran as Pam
Evan J. Klisser as Chuck

Genre
Horror

Certificate 18

Synopsis

BEYOND THE DARKNESS TERROR LIVES FOREVER

Legends abound of 'The Hellgate Hitchhiker'. So the story goes, a beautiful young woman was once brutally defiled and murdered by a biker gang. Now, returned from the dead, she wanders the roadside luring unsuspecting motorists to their doom...

Refusing to heed the warnings of locals, a group of college friends set out on a cross-country road trip looking for fun and frolics. But they get much more than they bargained for when they wind up in the abandoned mining town of Hellgate and hemmed in by hordes of the undead!

Providing gore and gags in equal measure, Hellgate recalls the good old days of early 90s fright flicks and challenges other gleefully twisted flicks such as Re-animator and Return of the Living Dead for sheer grisly delirium! 

 Now Arrow Films have re-released this B-movie classic in a strictly limited edition run of just 1000 copies! 

Special Features
  • Road to Perdition, B-Movie Style: An extensive interview with Hellgate director William A. Levey  
  • Alien Invasion, Blaxploitation and Ghost-Busting Mayhem: Scholar, Filmmaker and fan Howard S. Berger reflects on the intriguing film career of William A. Levey 
  • Video Nasty: Kenneth Hall, writer of the Puppet Master series, speaks about the direct-to-video horror boom that allowed Hellgate to become a classic of the cassette rental era  
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Collector's booklet featuring writing on the film by Lee Gambin, illustrated with original artwork and stills

Review

I have always been a fan of 80's and early 90's horror movies and their general crassness and overall grimy, dirty feel.

This cult classic is most definitely no different.

The best way to look at this movie would be that it's most definitely of the 'B' movie feel but there are some great moments of off the wall comedy and at the same time, some great death scenes.  I mean come on, that's why you watch horror movies most of the time isn't it?

Cast wise, there are some massively wooden performances here yet that somehow adds to the overall charm and unique nature of the movie.  The humor kind of reminded me of the type found in movies such as 'Creepshow'.  While it's nowhere near that level of quality, I also think that this movie has got a bit of a bad rap review wise.

I have to admit however, nobody really stood out for me in the cast as being particularly memorable but at the same time, it makes the movie quite funny albeit unintentionally.

The movie itself reminded me a bit of a more in your face version of an Ed Wood movie in that it's one of those movies that is so bad that you can't stop watching.  Not because you want to see if it improves but to see just how much worse it can be but that's part of the charm of the movie.

Originally released by those folks at Anchor Bay on a bare bones disc, this re-release has shown that once again, Arrow Films has put some absolutely brilliant special features on this release.  It's a case of a movie that while it would entertain bad movie fans, it does come across as a bit of a missed shot really but the special features are well worth picking up the disc alone for.

This movie isn't for everyone by a long shot.  I personally like bad movies.  Movies by people such as Ed Wood etc that make movies that are so bad that they are perversely entertaining in that so bad it's fun to watch.  I do however draw the line at Uwe Boll.  However, while this movie is definitely under that title of a bit of cheesy fun, I still found myself enjoying and having a bit of a giggle at the movie itself.

That said, this release from Arrow Films is one of those movies that is well worth picking up thanks to the quality of the special features.  They really do leave no stone unturned here and it shows.  Arrow Films are known for going all out on their special features and it's definitely evident here too so for a horror geek like myself, the features here make it well worth splashing the cash on.

Movie 5/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features 9/10
Overall 30/40

Hell Comes to Frogtown Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Randall Frakes
Donald G. Jackson

Directed By
Donald G. Jackson
R.J. Kizer

A New World Entertainment Ltd Film

Cast

Roddy Piper as Sam Hell
Julius LeFlore as Squidlips
William Smith as Captain Devlin, Count Sodom
Sandahl Bergman as Spangles
Cec Verrell as Centinella
Rory Calhoun as Looney Tunes
Brian Frank as Commander Toty

Certificate 15

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Comedy

Synopsis

With the 20th Century drawing to a close, nuclear war has wiped out civilization as we know it. The embattled human race's last remaining hope lies with one man and his loaded weapon.

Sam Hell may be an ex-con, but he also happens to be one of the last surviving fertile men on the planet. Now, under the custody of a group of feisty female fighters, Sam finds himself enlisted on a mission to impregnate a harem of beauties. Sounds cushy enough, but the ladies in question are prisoners of Frogtown - home to a gang of mutant (and ill-mannered) amphibians!

Starring wrestler-turned-actor Rowdy Roddy Piper, known to John Carpenter enthusiasts for his body-slamming and bubblegum-chewing antics in They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown is unashamedly a B-movie through and through with more guns and girls than you can shake a frog's leg at. 

Now Arrow Films have re-released this B-movie classic in a strictly limited edition run of just 1000 copies!

Special Features
  • Grappling with Green Gargantuans: Wrestling icon "Rowdy" Roddy Piper speaks about his leading man turn in Hell Comes to Frogtown
  • Amphibian Armageddon: Actor Brian Frank remembers his role as Commander Toty  
  • Creature Feature Creator: Effects wizard Steve Wang reveals the secrets behind Hell Comes to Frogtown's mutant manifestations  
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Jeff Zornow 
  • Original Trailer  
  • Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Calum Waddell

Review

I am a massive fan of 'B' movies and movies that are so bad that they are good fun to watch.  In all honesty, this one most definitely fits both of those descriptions.

In this 80's cult classic, Roddy Piper is the hero, if you can call him such a thing, that after being arrested is charged with both repopulating the world after a nuclear / biological war and with rescuing some women from the mutated frog people that have started to take over the world, all while having a bomb strapped to his crotch.  

Yes, you read that right.  The wrestling icon 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper is going to travel around this crazy world, with a bomb attached to his crotch in order to repopulate the world while kicking the butts of some bad ass frog people.

If you go in to this expecting a dead serious science fiction movie such as 'Blade Runner' or something of that ilk then you are definitely watching the wrong movie.  In fact, there is no possible way to watch this with any hint of a serious nature.  It's one of the most wonderfully crazy and bonkers movie that I've seen in a long time.

The performances range from being completely off the wall and being utterly awful yet strangely in a good way.  While the performance by Piper isn't anywhere near as good as his seminal performance in 'They Live', he is still definitely the star of the movie itself.  However, William Smith comes very close to stealing the show with a great and over the top performance.

Arrow Films have done a great job in transferring the picture and sound here.  While previously released in a bare bones release by Anchor Bay, this transfer is much clearer and crisper.  That's especially true for the sound quality that is absolutely crystal clear.

It's the same with the special features.  The release isn't as jam packed with features as some of their other cult releases but for a movie that didn't have that much of a budget, they still managed to stick some really interesting bits and pieces here.

All in all, this is definitely another great release from Arrow Films that is well worth adding to your collection, just don't go expecting a deadpan and straight laced movie.

Movie 7/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features 7/10
Overall 30/40

Friday, 17 January 2014

Expressions and Letters Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jeniann Bowers

Genre
Poetry

Synopsis

Jeniann Bowers started to write poetry after the birth of her youngest son and her marriage started to break down.  This is her newest collection.

Review

I haven't read any poetry for a very long time because a lot of the newest poetry books that were coming out all seemed to be carbon copies of one another.  That's when I got to read this one.

One thing that struck me the most was the sheer and sometimes heart breaking honesty that is on show here in the various poems.  These beautiful pieces of lyricism on show here really give you a look inside of her mind and lets you see just how she thinks and feels.  I loved that approach because even though these are emotional writings, they don't veer in to melodrama at all.  It made a nice change from some of the other collections that I have read recently.

A previous review said that Bowers had 'gone out the box' with her writing here and I must admit, that's completely perfect for this collection.  It's not one of those highly polished collections where the poems are all so similar that they merge in to one long one.  Instead, each poem comes across as completely different and have their own voice so to speak.

If you are a fan of heartfelt, personal and emotional poetry then this is a collection that is well worth adding to your bookshelf.

Poems 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 16/20

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Andromeda's Fall Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
William C. Dietz

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Action

Synopsis

When a bloodthirsty power grab on Earth results in the murder of her entire family, wealthy socialite Cat Carletto is forced into hiding.

On the run from the ruthless Empress Ophelia, and seeking revenge against the woman who destroyed her  life, Cat enlists in the Legion - an elite cyborg fighting force made up of society's most dangerous misfits.

On the battlefield, Cat Carletto vanishes, and in her place stands Legion recruit Andromeda McKee.

As she rises through the ranks, Andromeda has one mission: bring down Empress Ophleia - or die trying.

Review

Just lately, I have been reading a lot of military science fiction novels.  So far, I've been pretty lucky and not read a duff one. Considering that this novel is by William C. Dietz, I had quite high hopes for it.

Not only did it match those high hopes, it surpassed them.

One of the things I have always liked about Dietz's work is that not only does he create authentic world that are populated with realistic characters that  the readers can really get behind but he also writes such vivid action scenes that it feels almost like a movie sequence.

While Dietz has gone back to his 'Legion of the Damned' series, this also works as a stand alone story too, which is a nice touch because it means that even if you haven't read any of the previous books then you will still find it easy to follow this one.

The story itself is very well written, although I wouldn't expect any less from Dietz.  The pacing is also really well thought out and gives the readers a good atmosphere to really get involved with.  As far as the tale itself goes, while the idea of someone wanting to gain revenge for a murder isn't a new one.  It's especially not a new one in the realm of science fiction either but Dietz has written this novel in such a way that it hooks you until the very last page.

One of the things that I find to be the most interesting about the story is the journey that the main character makes from stereotypical spoiled rich girl to bad ass action heroine.  While a bit of a cliche in itself, it's written with a subtle, steady hand and knows when to ramp up the action and when to have a character driven scene.

Dietz is known for his action scenes and this novel is no different.  They really do have a rather cinematic feel to them and feel like they wouldn't be out of place in a big budget blockbuster movie.

All in all, if you like exciting science fiction stories but with well rounded and sympathetic characters then you are most definitely in luck with this novel.  Like I said before, don't worry if you haven't read any of the other series because this one works very well as a stand alone novel.  In fact, it does a superb job of creating such interesting characters that you will be hooked in to wanting to turn page after page until you reach the end of the book.

Story 8/10
Character 8/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Salvagers Issue 1 Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Robert Salley

Art and Cover By
George Acevedo
Delfine Siobhan-Kanashii

Published By
Hound Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Action

Synopsis

In the distant future, the habitable planets are connected through trade of natural and artificial resources. The import and export business is flourishing for some systems, while leaving others at the mercy of major trade corporations. 

After the Galactic War ended, peace blanketed the galaxy; however, planets with little shipping resources turned to piracy or developed small guerilla military units geared to pillage trade ships. This spawned the necessity for trade companies to hire private security contractors for protection. 

Even under the security of peacetime, there is no shortage of violence in outer space; from looting raiders, Navy destroyers neutralizing a rebel movement to the simplest space station falling victim to a rogue asteroid.
These destroyed or abandoned ships and stations are classified as “wrecks”. 

Licensed crews are commissioned by governments, empires and corporations to remove these wrecks. In a hostile galaxy, the risk and reward is high for these crews. 

They are known as… the SALVAGERS .

Review

When I was introduced to this title through the Facebook page for the title, I must admit that it sounded most definitely up my street so to speak.  Or in this case, right up my space.

As soon as I opened up the first issue I was struck by the good pacing of the story itself.  You are introduced to the characters quickly and then slapped straight in to the action.  There are a few nods and pointers to both what may have happened and what may just happen next and I loved that approach.  The last thing I like in a comic book is when the writers spell everything out for you straight away.  You don't get that here because they take a slightly slower approach on that front.

One of the things that struck me was that it reminded me a little bit of a mix between 'Star Wars' and 'The Dire Earth' trilogy by Jason M. Hough yet it still has it's own voice.  I loved that about 'Salvagers'  and the writing that really drops you in to the story has most definitely made me want to check out the second issue.

I really liked the art in this issue.  I hadn't seen any of George Acevedo's work before but on the strength of the work here I will definitely check out more.  I loved how the art looked both like it wouldn't be out of place in a series like the original 'Battlestar Galactica' or something of that ilk.  I also liked how they made the work here look both futuristic yet dirty and grimy at the same time.

If you like your action packed science fiction then you will love this title.  I, for one, will definitely be getting my hands on the second issue, especially after the cliffhanger of this issue.  I also want to see which of the questions raised in this installment get answered in the next issue.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
John Ortved

Foreword By
Douglas Coupland

Published By
Faber and Faber, Inc

Genre
Television History, Interviews

Synopsis

The Simpsons is one of the most successful shows to ever run on television. From its first moment on air, the series's rich characters, subversive themes, and layered humor resounded deeply with audiences both young and old who wanted more from their entertainment than what was being meted out at the time by the likes of Full House, Growing Pains, and Family Matters. 

Spawned as an animated short on The Tracy Ullman Show—mere filler on the way to commercial breaks—the series grew from a controversial cult favorite to a mainstream powerhouse, and after nineteen years the residents of Springfield no longer simply hold up a mirror to our way of life: they have ingrained themselves into it.  

John Ortved's oral history will be the first-ever look behind the scenes at the creation and day-to-day running of The Simpsons, as told by many of the people who made it: among them writers, animators, producers, and network executives. It’s an intriguing yet hilarious tale, full of betrayal, ambition, and love. Like the family it depicts, the show's creative forces have been riven by dysfunction from the get-go—outsize egos clashing with studio executives and one another over credit for and control of a pop-culture institution. 

Contrary to popular belief, The Simpsons did not spring out of one man's brain, fully formed, like a hilarious Athena. Its inception was a process, with many parents, and this book tells the story.

Review

As a massive fan of the television series 'The Simpsons', I have read many different books and interviews about the genesis of the show itself as well as the story behind some of the people involved.

I was a little hesitant with this one because when you have an unauthorized look at a series, an actor or anything along those lines, it can sometimes turn in to a bit of a hatchet job.  A book cobbled up from so many different sources that they're either massively disjointed or near to unreadable.

When I started to read this one, I realised one thing.  This book is in equal parts well researched and frustrating at the same time.  There's no doubt that this one's researched well.  There is an absolute wealth of information here for the fans out there and some of which I hadn't even heard of before.

That said, there are some very infuriating moments too.  One of the main issues I have is the layout of the book itself.  One minute he's talking about the show then there are massively long excerpts of interviews as page breaks, which can take you out of what he is writing about.  Because of the obvious difference in writing styles between the interviews and Ortved's writing, it really comes across as disjointed.

Another thing that bugged me was the fact that the book didn't really seem to know what it wanted to be.  One minute it was an unbiased look at the making of the massively successful television series but then the next minute it felt like the author had a bit of a vendetta against a couple of the people involved.  At times that felt like it was a case of them vs. Ortved and that's a real shame.

I did agree with the fact that the book was shedding  some light on the other names that had been involved in the creation of 'The Simpsons' and that it didn't go the route of painting Matt Groening as the one creative force behind it all.  That was a nice change from some of the other books I've read about the genesis of the show.

If you are a fan of the show itself then this is definitely worth picking up because it does shed some unknown light on to the show and gave some of the lesser known names a chance to be recognised for their work on the show.  However, the layout of the book and the sometimes, sniping style that felt like a hatchet job in places hurt the overall quality of the book.  That's a real shame because the sheer amount of research that obviously went in to the book is phenomenal and that lead to some great information about the show coming to light so maybe one for the hardcore fans.

Presentation 6/10
Informative 9/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 22/30

Man of Steel DVD Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Based on Characters Created By
Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster

Written By
David S. Goyer
Christopher Nolan

Directed By
Zack Snyder

A Syncopy, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Film

Genre
Superhero, Action

Cast

Henry Cavill as Superman, Kal-El
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
Harry Lennix as General Stanwick
Christopher Meloni as Colonel Nathan Hardy
Richard Schiff as Dr. Emil Hamilton
Ayelet Zurer  as Lara Lor-Van

Certifiicate 12

Synopsis

Directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan (who also directed The Dark Knight), Man of Steel is an action-packed blockbuster about the most recognised comic book hero of all time: Superman.

Henry Cavill bulked up to transform himself into Clark Kent/Superman, a role previously played on the big screen by Christopher Reeve and later Brandon Routh in Superman Returns.  How does he match up? Pretty well, we'd say.

Cavill stars alongside an impressive cast, including four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams as love interest Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El (Superman's dad) and Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne as Lois' editor-in-chief at the Daily Planet.

The action begins on Krypton, where Jor-El is battling to save his planet and protect his infant son. We see a young Clark Kent growing up in Kansas and struggling to adjust to his extraordinary powers and the realisation that he's not like the other kids. Or even from the same planet. Taking advice from his loving Kansas farming parents (played by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), Clark keeps his powers hidden from everyone and tries his best to fit in.

But the burning questions of who he really is, where he's from and why he's been sent here haunt Clark into his adult life. Hiding from his secret, will he embrace his powers to save the planet when Earth and his loved ones are under threat? Or will Clark's loyalties be torn when he has to battle the only two other surviving Kryptonians, General Zod and Faora?

The screenplay was written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer & Nolan based on Superman characters published by DC Entertainment.

Special Features
  • Behind the Scenes: Krypton Decoded
  • Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short
  • Featurette: New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth

Review

After hearing all the bile aimed at this movie I have to admit that I was quite hesitant to get too excited over the newest Superman movie.  The trailers had made it look like a massive blockbuster and looked full of twists and turns.

When this was released at the cinema, the sheer amount of reviews and complaints about the amount of things that they changed astounded me.  I'm of the opinion that I don't mind if things about characters change because that's the nature of life in general.  Things and people change.  I know with a character as well known as Superman that is a hard thing to do without alienated fans of the iconic superhero so it took a lot of bravery on the writers parts to change some of the best known facts about the man in blue.

Not all of the changes are successful but on the other hand, they're nowhere near as bad or character ruining that some of the fans have made them out to be.

I could list them all here but I'm not a big fan of spoiler heavy reviews.  For me, part of the enjoyment is watching the movie and finding out what they have done to the characters as I watch.  Maybe that's just me though.

Movie wise, I actually really enjoyed it.  This darker take on the iconic character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has breathed new life in to the character.  That's helped by the portrayal of Superman by Henry Cavill.  He really gives the character a lot of new layers.  He's not just the 'big blue boy scout' anymore.  He's not infallible anymore.  He makes mistakes, gives in to his anger and even becomes reckless during parts of the movie.  I really think that's a good thing because if he was just the normal 'do-gooder' style that has been portrayed in other movies then he would get stale.

The rest of the cast really do a good job with their characters.  I really wanted Kevin Costner to do a little bit more in the movie but he was superb in the scenes that he did have.  Amy Adams does a good job as Lois Lane too.  Laurence Fishburne is also a really good addition to the cast as Perry White but I think he was a little under used.

The story itself is well thought out.  Yes it does change some of the origin story for Superman but most of the changes do work seeing as they went the darker route.  For my part, I didn't think that it ruined the character like a lot of the reviews said.  Instead, I think that it was good to change the character up a bit.  After managing to miss most of the spoilers, I was eager to see just what it was about the ending that had the fans so up in arms.  While it wasn't the best ending they could have gone for, I still think it was effective considering how the rest of the movie had come before it.  The remorse showed afterwards really made the scene work for me as a fan and while I could see why some fans were upset it had gone in that direction, there are plenty of incidences in the comic books where the same thing happened.

Special effects wise, this movie was far and above better than a couple of the other movies that Snyder has done.  I wasn't that big a '300' fan and I especially didn't like 'Sucker Punch' but this one shows that while he is one to go for the 'flash bang' approach with his movies, he at least doesn't let it overload the movie like someone such as Michael Bay does.

All in all, I would honestly say ignore the bile aimed at this movie.  It's not the perfect Superman movie by any stretch of the imagination and there were a couple of plot holes that bugged me a little bit.  Other than that, it was the performances that really made the movie worth watching.  I have to admit that I don't agree with some reviewers saying that Cavill was better than Christopher Reeve yet I do think he gave the character a lot more layers than some of the other portrayals I've seen.

Well worth getting, especially if you can look past the changes that they've made to his origin story.

Movie 8/10
Picture 10/10
Sound 10/10
Special Features 6/10
Overall 34/40

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Shrek the Musical DVD Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David Lindsay-Abaire

Directed By
Jason Moore

A Dreamworks Animation, Neal Street Productions Show

Genre
Musical, Comedy

Cast

Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek
Sutton Foster as Fiona
Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad
Daniel Breaker as Donkey
John Tartaglia as Pinocchio, Magic Mirror, Dragon Puppeteer

Certificate U

Synopsis

BRING HOME THE MAGIC OF BROADWAY!

The greatest fairy tale never told comes to life as never before in Shrek The Musical, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical based on the smash-hit movie! 

Featuring a fantastic score of 17 all-new songs, along with unforgettable characters and outrageous humour, Shrek The Musical is ogre-sized fun for the whole family! 

Special Features
  • From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek the Musical
  • Sneak Peek

Review

As a fan of the 'Shrek' movies, I was wondering how they could turn the anarchic humor and fun from those in to a full blown stage show.  With the movies being so hyper and rule by the performances of Mike Myers as Shrek and Eddie Murphy as Donkey, I honestly wasn't sure if they could pull it off.

I need not have worried because this filmed production featuring the Broadway cast not only does  the series of movies justice but also comes very close to making the characters their own.

Talking of the cast, they do an absolutely wonderful job of bringing the characters to life.  One of the best things I noticed was that while they stay true to the much loved movie characters, they also bring their own personalities in to the performances too.  It was really interesting to see a different spin on the characters made famous by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz and I must admit, the revelation for me was Sutton Foster as Fiona.  She gives the character of Fiona a bit more of a sly wink and knowing nod than in the movies and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her performance throughout the show.  In particular, her facial expressions were priceless and really worked brilliantly well in the musical setting.  Also, her voice was powerful yet had a fragile quality and is one of the reasons that I'll be buying myself the soundtrack.

Songs are the lifeblood of musical theater and while they are witty and funny, they do a grand job of portraying the feeling of the story to the audience.  That's helped by the superb cast that I mentioned above.  The songs sway between being hilarious funny and touching throughout the show and while you may recognize a few nods here and there to the movies, they really take on a life of their own.

Special features wise, I was a little disappointed in that there wasn't more of a variety but the making of documentary that we did get was a really interesting look at how they brought the show to the stage and kept it as close to the movies as they could possibly do.

All in all, even if you have only a passing interest in the movie series itself, this is a show that is well worth seeing.  If you get a chance to see it then I urge you do but if you can't, the DVD is most definitely the next best thing and well worth picking up.

Show 8/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 6/10
Overall 31/40

Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck - Issue 2 Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tony Lee

Art By
Eman Casallos
Davi Correia

Lettering By
Joshua Cozine

Cover By
Sean Chen
Adriano Lucas

Published By
Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

The origin of Lt. Starbuck continues, told by #1 New York Times best-selling author Tony Lee! 

Two years before the attack on Cimtar, Starbuck has hit rock bottom - but when a clue to the Cylon spy behind the attack on Umbra appears, Starbuck finally has a chance to gain justice for his parents.   

Can Starbuck and Apollo find the spy before the Cylons stop them?

Review

One of the things that has always impressed me about both the original and the remade versions of 'Battlestar Galactica' is that while it was a massively exciting series set in space, a lot of the action revolved around the characters lives and how they interacted with one another.  Yes there were the Cylons and traitors and pretty much a plethora of twists and turns along the way but for it's part, it was quite a character driven series.

That continues here in this prequel mini-series of comics written by the best selling author, Tony Lee.  Obviously a fan of the original series, Lee has managed to get the characters so close to their television counterparts that this story wouldn't feel out of place as part of the original series run..

One of the things I liked the most about issue one of this mini series was the fact that we were getting  to see just why Starbuck, one of the most popular characters, was the way he was.  Sometimes that can come across as a little bit too late for characters or even as filler but that's not the case here.  Every revelation about the characters past in the first issue seemed to be placed at just the right moment and that trend continues here.

The story does concern trying to find the traitor who is working with the Cylons but at the heart of this issue is an intensely emotional look at how Starbuck is grieving for a personal loss and how that changes the way he sees his world and the people in it.  The writing by Lee is incredibly strong and personal  to the effect of making the reader feel like they are part of the crew on BSG and are watching it unfold before their very eyes.

There were some fantastic twists in this issue and that really hooked me in to wanting to read the next issue.  Part of me is actually a little disappointed that this is going to be a mini-series because I would loved for them to do the same for some of the other characters but less is more I suppose.

The art is, one again, superb.  They really seem to get the sometimes claustrophobic nature of the characters jobs across on the page in a great and very well drawn way.  A lot of that is down to the panel placing as well.  They don't seem contend on just slapping a couple of panels on the page and leaving it at that.  I loved the fact that some of them were over lapping and some of them were angled.  The character work is brilliant as well with them looking massively similar to their television counterparts yet having the artists own spin put on them.

All in all, it is true that this is maybe a title for the die hard fans of 'Battlestar Galactica' but it's definitely a title that is well worth picking up.  It's worth grabbing for the sheer strength of Tony Lee's writing.  Not only does he manage to keep the feel and atmosphere of the show but he manages to put his own style and voice in to the proceedings without alienating any of the fans.

Definitely a title that I will keep picking up.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 33/40