Saturday, 28 February 2015

Green Lantern: First Flight Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Alan Burnett

Directed By
Lauren Montgomery

A Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Comics Film

Genre
Animation, Superhero, Action, Adventure, Science Fiction

Cast

Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan, Green Lantern (Voice)
Victor Garber as Sinestro (Voice)
Tricia Helfer as Boodikka (Voice)
Michael Madsen as Kilowog (Voice)
Kurtwood Smith as Kanjar Ro (Voice)
Larry Drake as Ganthet (Voice)
Olivia d'Arbo as Carol Ferris (Voice)

Year Released
2009

Certificate
12

Synopsis

Beware His Power.

When pilot Hal Jordan accepts a mysterious, powerful ring from a dying alien creature, it transforms him into a Green Lantern, one of an elite force of heroes who patrol the universe to ensure peace and justice under the leadership of the Guardians of the Universe. Unsure of their newest recruit, the Guardians assign Hal to their most-honoured Green Lantern Sinestro for training, unaware that Sinestro wants to overthrow the Guardians and create a new order he'll control. It's a battle of might and willpower as Hal must prove his worth by defeating Sinestro to save the Green Lantern Corps.

Voiced by a stellar cast including Christoper Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer and Michael Madsen, this DC Universe original animated adverts bursts with action-packed shakedowns, showdowns and spectacular visuals as Green Lantern uses his powers and imagination to make the impossible real. 

Review

After the massively hit and miss execution of the live action Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds, I was massively looking forward to seeing if they could give the character an origin story that could do him justice.

The DC comics universe has always been brilliantly represented in their animated movies and a lot of them have been better than their live action movies.

With Green Lantern: First Flight, we get the origin story story that the character deserves.  It tells us the basics of how the character gains the ring, how he gets used to the powers that the ring gives him and even some of his training under the character of Sinestro, voiced by Victor Garber.  I felt these scenes did a much better job of showing the creation of the character than the live action movie.

That said, something seemed to be missing from the story.  The action was crisp and well thought out, the cast is stellar and the animation is absolutely gorgeous yet for some reason the movie just didn't grip me in as much as I was hoping that it would.  Personally I think that it felt a little flat because while it was detailed in places, there seemed to be some pretty major points that seemed glossed over such as the death of Hal's father.

With the story of dealing with Sinestro when he had gone rogue and also the Kanjar Ro storyline taking up the most of the movie, I suppose some things really did need to be cut out but some of the missing things just seemed a little strange to not have had included.

Like I said earlier, the cast is full of some absolutely fantastic voice work.  You have Tricia Helfer, most famous for her role in the remade Battlestar Galactica, Michael Madsen and even Christopher Meloni from Law and Order really bringing their characters to life and that really does make this a much better movie than it could have been.

While I've come away from the movie a little disappointed, it's still a massive improvement on some of the other Green Lantern movies that we have had.  Be warned however that there are some quite grisly deaths involving severed heads and characters being impaled so many best to not let the really little ones watch it.

Movie 6.5/10


The Agency Issues 3 and 4 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Ruben Romero
Bethany Romero
Roger Cabrera

Art By
Eric Koda
Ross Hughes

Lettering By
Jaymes Reed

Cover By
Eric Koda
Ross Hughes

Published By
Think Alike Productions

Genre
Action, Supernatural

Synopsis

Issue Three

The Horus make their intentions clear as Victoria and her team of Agents attempt to uncover more information regarding their whereabouts. Riley begins to understand the world he has become a part of.

Issue Four

The IAM Agents finally confront The Horus head on. While she remains confident, Victoria knows the most difficult tasks her team will face have yet to be encountered. Isaac makes a startling discovery.


Review

With such a fantastic start as the first two issues had, I was wondering just how the creative team behind The Agency was going to top those.  Well, the simple answer is that they did so with ease and style!

Issues three and four show a fantastic title that not only shows the readers how much momentum they have gained but also show us a creative team that is firing on all cylinders.

The  third issue starts to put all the pieces of the puzzle together that we have been shown in the first two issues.  This is done in such a way that while the story has started to really take shape, it is obviously not all the story.  There is an air of suspense and mystery running through the story that really shows the chemistry of the IAM in such a great way that they feel like realistic people despite the supernatural, magical world they inhabit.  We also get to see a little more of just what each member of the team can do with their powers and when combined with the utterly brilliant art, these scenes really do pop off the page.

In the fourth issue, that's when the stuff really does hit the fan as the saying goes.  The IAM team finally go face to face with The Horus and it was definitely worth waiting for.  It would be remiss to think that this issue is the battle and that's it because it's really not.  Instead we are treated to a battle between the two groups that really feels like it could be on a big screen but we're also let a little more in to the world that these teams inhabit.  Some more of the plan that The Horus is trying to put in place is revealed and we even end the issue on a moment that makes you want to jump straight in to issue 5.

The one thing about this series that I want to ask is that if you're not reading it yet then why not?

Issue 3
Story 8.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 34.5/40

Issue 4
Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35/40

Friday, 27 February 2015

Tales of WesterNoir: Book 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Gary Crutchley
Dave West

Art By
Roland Bird
Pedro Lopez

Cover By
Gary Crutchley
Matt Soffe

Published By
Accent UK

Genre
Western, Supernatural

Synopsis

Step in to the world of WesterNoir as we take a look at some of the tales that have not only shaped Joshiah Black but also those around him in this spin off series Tales of WesterNoir.

Review

With such stellar work coming from Dave West and Gary Crutchley over at Accent UK with the supernatural western series WesterNoir, I was a bit worried that a spin off series looking at some of the other characters and even Josiah Black himself would maybe dilute the main series.

Well, after reading this one, I have to admit that I was very much mistaken.  Here, we are treated to two stories.  

The first is Loose Ends and has series regular Gary Crutchley taking the writing reins.  Here he weaves a tale that links in to book four of the main series and answers the question of just what happened to the girl that Black saved.  I loved the simple yet deliberate way that the tension was raised as each page turned and the art by Roland Bird definitely added to that.  This was a great way of starting this spin off series because it not only serves as a reward to the long term fans but also as a good way of letting a newcomer see just what kind of style the series goes for.

The second story is a great one by the main series writer Dave West called The Kiss of Death.  Firstly I loved how the title actually played out in the story itself but this one is a fantastic way of seeing a slice of Black's past and when you read it, you'll see that it makes a lot of sense character wise too, even forboding part of his future as well.  That is helped by the incredibly detailed art by Pedro Lopez, an artist who I will definitely be checking out in the future.

All in all, this is a superb companion series for WesterNoir and one that will definitely thrill the fans.  If you are a newcomer to the series then may I suggest reading the original five installments first because then you will appreciate just how good this title truly is.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33.5/40

WesterNoir: Book 5 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Dave West

Art By
Gary Crutchley

Cover By
Gary Crutchley
Matt Soffe

Published By
Accent UK

Genre
Supernatural, Western, Adventure

Synopsis

The Covenant of Sebastian Caligary.

Jump in to the WesterNoir world as the story takes a darker turn and the machinations of the plot are revealed but what will it mean for our intrepid anti-hero?

Review

The first four installments of Accent UK's supernatural western series WesterNoir have shown a great tale slowly and subtly coming together like a jigsaw in front of our very eyes with the various adventures of the anti-hero Josiah Black but they left me wanting to see a little bit more of the characters behind the scenes that were pulling the strings so to speak.  Well, in this issue, that is exactly what we get.

With the first four issues focusing on the character of Josiah Black himself, West and Crutchley have used this issue to step away from that and show some of the characters that have been both involved in Black's life as well as reveal how they have been manipulating it as well.  That rather brave move could have stopped the story dead in it's tracks but that's not the case here, instead it brings a new layer to the series and even put some faces to the names as well.  That adds a great sense of dread and menace to proceedings as well as an almost conspiracy style twist to the story.

One of the things I liked the most about this addition to the series was the pacing.  It took a slow and deliberate road to the end of the issue and that made the final couple of pages really come alive and make you wish you had the next installment in front of you right then and there.  That is definitely one of Dave West's biggest strengths and it always seems to shine the brightest on this series.

As always the art duties are handled by Gary Crutchley and once again, his stark and eye catching work really brings this story to life.  With this installment having a much slower pace than the others, I was worried that his almost gothic and menacing would be a little lost but that's not the case here at all.  Instead, it absolutely flourishes and, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and that is true of Crutchley's artwork for this issue.  The facial expressions and the settings really add as if they are characters themselves and that has always been one of the main selling points for the series.

The cover is again drawn by the team of Crutchley and their talented cover artist Matt Soffe.  They always seem to give the covers for this series a real, almost classic western feel without falling to some of the cliches that sometimes plague the genre itself.

All in all, WesterNoir is one of those series' that just gets better with each issue and with the story itself deepening here, I can't wait for book six and neither should you.

Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 34.5/40

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Arrow: Season 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Based on the Character Created By
Morton Weisinger

Genre
Crime, Action, Superhero

Cast

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Green Arrow
Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance
David Ramsey as John Diggle
Willa Holland as Thea Queen
Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak
Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen
John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn
Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson
Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn
Colin Salmon as Walter Steele

Certificate
15

Synopsis

After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. Reinventing the DC Comics character for a modern-day audience, the Arrow is not a superhero... but a hero - every bit as dangerous as the criminals he's hunting. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, the Oliver returns to Starling City a new man - determined to right the wrongs of his father and sworn to bring justice to those who've corrupted his city. But Oliver finds his crusade complicated by his friends and family. 

Overjoyed by his miraculous return, the Queen family nevertheless still trades on secrets that conflict with the Arrow's agenda. Oliver's return also affects his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, who will ultimately travel down a dark path; and the love of his life, Laurel Lance, who must somehow forgive Oliver before she can ever love him again. A dark and dangerous crime procedural with edge, intrigue and action, Oliver's story will be told from three perspectives: the Queen family, Oliver's harrowing ordeal on the island and the Arrow's adventures in Starling City.

Showing all facets of the mysterious loner, this action drama follows the Oliver that disappeared, the one that returned and the one known as Arrow. 

Review

I have to admit that while I did read a lot of the Green Arrow comic books, I wasn't a massive fan of the character and just couldn't really get in to them all that much.  To be honest, I was surprised when they chose Oliver Queen as the next DC character to get his own television show.  That said, I'm a superhero fan so I figured I would give it a go.

Normally adaptations of comic book characters can go one of two ways.  They change things and the character falls flat.  Catwoman, Elektra, I'm looking at the two of you there.  Other times, the changes not only work but they improve upon the source material and that is exactly what has happened here.

The first two episodes, while good, just didn't hook me in as much as I thought they would.  Maybe that was down to my indifference of the comic book version of the character but for me, they didn't have that "wow, I need to watch the next episode" factor that I like from my shows.  That said, I knew it would take time to settle so I kept with it and I am very glad that I did.

The stories themselves are brilliant.  The way they bring in both major and minor DC characters but in their own unique to the show style is utterly brilliant.  They don't look like the ones you may know about from the comics yet they seem the same.  A lot of that is down to the subtle and well thought performances by the cast.

This is definitely the Stephen Amell show however.  His performance as Oliver Queen and his alter ego Arrow is extremely subtle, sympathetic yet heroic as well.  You really can see the character grow as the series progresses.  The same could be said about the rest of the cast as well.  The one weak character for me however is that of Thea Queen but she did start to offer more layers near the end of the series so I'm quite eager to see where the character is going to be taken next.

All in all, this is a superb first season.  The characters are well thought out and gives the series a great grounding for the second season to take off from so this is one show that is worth sticking with.  The last couple of episodes of this series really do show a series firing on all cylinders

Show 8/10

Shaun the Sheep Movie Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Directed By
Mark Burton
Richard Starzak

A StudioCanal, Aardman Animations, Anton Capital Entertainment (ACE) Film

Genre
Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Cast

Justin Fletcher as Shaun, Timmy (Voice)
John Sparkes as The Farmer, Bitzer (Voice)
Omid Djalili as Trumper (Voice)
Richard Webber as Shirley (Voice)
Kate Harbour as Timmy's Mum, Meryl (Voice)
Tim Hands as Slip (Voice)

Year Released
2015

Certificate
U

Synopsis

When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it's up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home.

Review

I have to admit that I have never been all that much of a fan of the Shaun the Sheep television episodes on the television but just recently my son has become obsessed with them so I figured I would take him to see the movie.  I sat down in the cinema expecting to be quite bored and pleased when it was over because in my mind, I wasn't sure how this group of characters would hold up in their own movie.

Well, after seeing the movie with my five year old son, who wanted to go back in and watch it again, I have to admit that the movie itself was not at all what I was expecting.

With this coming from the same people that gave us the brilliant Chicken Run movie as well as the legendary Wallace and Gromit stories, I should have known that this would at the very least be a good watch.  However, the thing that got me the most was just how involved you would get in the story considering there's no dialogue expect for some grunts, laughs and animal sound effects.

The lack of dialogue didn't hurt this movie in the slightest.  Instead, the film makers concentrated on the facial expressions of the characters and it worked a charm.  You actually find yourself hooked in to it and willing them on.

Animation wise, this movie really does look absolutely gorgeous.  With such clear scenes, I couldn't decide whether the movie was CGI or stop motion even after the end credits but it doesn't matter.  The work here is so gorgeous that you can't take your eyes off of it.  My favourite scene by far is the one that involves the sheep being in disguise, a part that had me chuckling as well as my son in fits of laughter.

Story wise, it's well paced and quite emotional in parts.  The fact that they were able to deal with the idea of loneliness and being homesick yet doing so in a sweet way without it being over the top shows the level of quality that Aardman put out when they make their movies.  The humour, which had my son hysterically laughing the most times I've ever seen him laugh at a movie, will not only give the kids a big amount of enjoyment but there are also quite a few moments thrown in for the adults as well.  Keep an eye out for a very funny Cape Fear reference too!

All in all, I went in to this one with quite low expectations but I was massively wrong.  Not only did my son enjoy it but there is also enough him to ensure that the parents that were dragged along for the ride aren't bored either.

Movie 7.5/10

Friday, 20 February 2015

Stephenson's Robot Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Dave West
Jon Ayre

Art By
Indio!
Dave West
Marleen Starksfield Lowe

Cover By
Indio!
Jon Ayre

Published By
Accent UK

Genre
Science Fiction, Horror, Adventure, Steampunk

Synopsis

Stephenson's Robot is a new mini series from Accent UK that takes an alternate look at reality in which the inventor Robert Stevenson creates a mechanical man to be released in to the battlefields of World War 1 in the hopes that it will end the war sooner.

However, the mechanical man named Kingdom, joins up with a traveling group of circus performers, each with their own story to tell, to march towards a battle that simply must be won as foretold by the Jigsaw Girl!

Review

When I read the idea behind this title, I have to admit that I was massively intrigued.  Accent UK are known for taking risks with their stories and for never going to simple route so to know that they were going to tackle the alternate history genre with lashings of steam punk was an interesting idea for me.

With some great titles behind them, there was a hell of a lot of expectation from me for this title and not only did it live up to those expectations but it surpassed them them easily.

The characters all have their own pasts and their own motives for being involved in the main story line and I loved that.  Each character feels like they are part of a jigsaw, no pun intended, and are each a massively important part of the story.

Talking of the story, I loved the simple fact that they didn't do the simple a to b route.  Instead we have three separate stories that are all unique in their execution yet they add up to all being part of a much larger tale. 

The first story is the one set in the first World War and does a brilliant job of introducing the robot and his merry band of circus folk to the reader.  The story really starts this series off with a bang and that's exactly what a title like this needs.  There are a lot of themes and back story elements that are hinted at that have left me really wanting to see more of them.  The art for this story by Indigo really does bring the characters to life in a big way.  I'm not sure if it was intentional but there was a bit of a very dark comedic edge to the art when the gore does come yet I thikn that worked perfectly.

The second story is a massive departure from the first but it really seems to have a really intriguing slant to it.  Set on Mars in the future, it gives hints at a mechanical race that appear to be descended from the original robot.  I would love to see where this one is going.  Indigo's art looks so different to the first story that I had to double check that it was the same person but it works so well that you can't help but notice all the little details that Indigo has put in.

However it's the third story, The Escape of the Jigsaw Girl that is by far my favourite of the three.  There's a tragic almost supernatural feel to the story and West really packs a whole lot of story in to a relatively short page count.  A lot of that is due to the superb pacing but it also teams up with the art by Marleen Starksfield Lowe to such an extent that it felt like the perfect pairing.  The moody and almost gothic art really adds another layer to this interesting tale.

All in all, Accent UK's releases just don't seem to be able to do anything wrong.  This is definite prood of that and is by far one of their best.  The three vastly different stories team up so effectively that it doesn't feel at all disjointed or messy.  This is one of the most interesting things that I have read in a very long time and I can't wait to see where the team are going to go next.

Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 34/40

The Fisher King Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Richard LaGravenese

Directed By
Terry Gilliam

A Columbia Pictures Corporation Film

Genre
Drama, Comedy

Cast

Jeff Bridges as Jack
Robin Williams as Parry
David Hyde Pierce as Lou Rosen
Lara Harris as Sondra
Mercedes Ruehl as Anne
Amanda Plummer as Lydia
John de Lancie as TV Executive

Year Released
1991

Certificate
15

Synopsis

After hearing a popular DJ rail against yuppies, a madman carries out a massacre in a popular New York bar. Dejected and remorseful, the DJ strikes up a friendship with Parry, a former professor who became unhinged and then homeless after witnessing his wife's violent death in the bar shooting.

The DJ seeks redemption by helping Parry in his quest to recover an item that he believes is the Holy Grail and to win the heart of the woman he loves.

Review

Sometimes a movie will stay with you to such an extent that even if you haven't seen it for months or even years, scenes from it will still appear in your mind.  The Fisher King is one of those rare movies.

It had been a long time since I had watched the movie yet I kept imagining what would have become of the characters involved in such a tragic story.  Where would they be now?  What would Jack and Parry be up to?  That kind of thing.  That's when I decided to watch it again for the first time in a very long time.  Would it match up to the memories that I have of watching the movie or would it be a case of remembering something as being better than it really was?

The simple answer is yes but that would be doing it a massive injustice to leave it there.  This is one of those movies that not only reaches those expectations but smashes them in to pieces.

The Fisher King is a movie that manages to make you laugh, make you cry at the tragedy of the story yet ends up making you feel refreshed, hopeful and even completely in love with the characters.  A lot of that is down to the superb writing.  The pacing is near perfect and not only hooks you in but it flows so well that the movie is over so quickly that you don't even notice the over two hours run time.  I would even go so far as to say that this is the most perfect script that I have seen for a movie because it just seems to be effortless in it's storytelling.

With such strong writing, you will need performances that are utterly spot on with their portrayals of the characters and this movie has that in spades.  Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams completely and utterly inhabit their characters to such a degree that they come across as real and you forget that it is two actors playing a part in a movie.  I felt so involved in their lives that you almost felt each and every heartbreak that happened to them.  The supporting cast more than hold up their end of the bargain, especially in the shape of Mercedes Ruehl and Amanda Plummer.  Their characters almost feel like the ying to the Bridges and Williams' yang.

I don't often say it but sometimes a movie comes along that is so beguiling and involving that it can be classed as essential viewing.  The Fisher King is one of those films and they don't come along very often.

Movie 9/10


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Step Right Up Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Travis McIntire

Art By
Tyler Sowles
Sara Sowles

Lettering By
Zakk Saam

Cover By
Sean Seal

Published By
FellDown Productions

Genre
Historical, Comedy

Synopsis

Three con artists traveling from town to town in the late 1800s get caught up in some mob justice when their patented beard embiggening formula fails to deliver!

New comic short from Michigan-based creator, Travis McIntire.  Step Right Up is a standalone preview for an upcoming comic anthology based on work inspired by the music of Tom Waits!  

Review

Knowing McIntire from his work with the Snake Oil Comics podcast crew, I was quite eager to see what kind of style his writing would take the shape of.  When I found out a new short of his was available on the Drive Thru Comics site, I jumped at the change to grab a copy of it.

With the synopsis sounding rather interesting, I sat down to read this and was struck by the quite sarcastic comedy that ran throughout the story itself.

The one thing that struck me the most about this short story was the fact that McIntire manages to pack a lot of humor in to this release in very few pages.  The patter of the sales man feels like it would be right at home from a movie such as the Tim Burton version of Sweeney Todd or a movie like that.  I loved the idea of the salesman being so smooth with his patter that he could turn almost any situation around with the minimal amount of effort.

With the writing so effectively paced and packed with humor, the art was going to have a very big task ahead to match but they bright, colorful work here really does it's job really well.  Not only does it catch the eye but the bright colors add to the comical side of the story.

My favorite part of the short has definitely got to be the stunning cover by Sean Seal.  It has an almost ghostly yet classic style to it and really makes you wonder what the kind of story is going to be inside.

For a short story, I was very impressed.  Talking from experience, it's hard to write a shorter story that will grip in the reader enough for them to want to read the whole thing but Step Right Up manages that in style.  Definitely one that is well worth picking up.

Story 7/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 30/40

To purchase this one then pop over to their Drive Thru Comics page here!

The Agency: Issues 1 and 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Created By
Ruben Romero
Bethany Romero
Roger Cabrera

Art By
Eric Koda
Ross Hughes

Lettering By
Jaymes Reed

Published By
Think Alike Productions

Genre
Action, Supernatural, Adventure

Synopsis

The United States have created the International Agency of Magic to control the use of magic and to stop magical related crimes across the globe.

While the chief of the IAM, Embry Eskyll, orders his agents to locate and detain a fifteen year old boy, a new threat appears.


Review

There seems to have been a glut of stories with a magical or supernatural slant recently, especially in the indie scene.  Some of these have tried to carve a new road in to an already cluttered genre and others have fallen to the pitfalls of the big list of cliches that infect the genre.

When I read that this one was going to take a similar path in to the world of using magic in the real world, I was a little worried that it would end up feeling like a 'been there, done that' title.

After reading the first two issues, I have to admit that this is a title that I get the feeling I am really going to enjoy reading.  The first two installments really do a good job of setting the scene for what is going to come.  The characters here have a little bit of themselves revealed but still hide enough to want us to see the next issue to see what else will be revealed.  I have always loved that approach to stories of this kind and they do that with a great sense of pacing.

The writing itself is very strong and does a great job of being exciting but without feeling rushed.  I really liked that because with the air of mystery that surrounds the main players in this tale, the title has a really successful sense of needing to grab the next issue.

Art wise, I really liked the sharp and clear work here.  I think that if the title had have been a little bit grittier then it would have gotten lost in the shuffle so to speak.  Instead, the bright and vibrant art really brings out the action set pieces effectively.  That's most true when we have the powers of the various team members revealed.

The one thing that did bother me a little bit was that in issue one there was an explosion and the lettering didn't seem to fit with the art that was on the page.  I would have gone for a slightly more jagged look and bring it to the forefront a little bit more but that's probably just more of a personal taste than a criticism really.

All in all, these first two issues do a brilliant job of making this title seem a lot more exciting than a lot of the other installments in the genre.  I personally can't wait to get started on reading the next issues to see just where they are going to take the story next.

Issue 1 and 2

Story 7.5/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31.5/40


Peter Pan (2003) Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Michael Goldenberg
P.J. Hogan

Based on the Play and the Books By
J.M. Barrie

Directed By
P.J. Hogan

A Columbia Pictures Corporation, Universal Pictures, Revolution Studios, Red Wagon Entertainment, Allied Stars Ltd. Film

Genre
Fantasy, Adventure

Cast

Jason Isaacs as Mr. Darling, Captain Hook
Jeremy Sumpter as Peter Pan
Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy Darling
Lynn Redgrave as Aunt Millicent
Richard Briers as Smee
Olivia Williams as Mrs. Darling
Harry Newell as John Darling
Freddie Popplewell as Michael Darling
Ludivine Sagnier as Tink

Year Released
2003

Certificate
PG

Synopsis

In stifling Edwardian London, Wendy Darling mesmerizes her brothers every night with bedtime tales of swordplay, swashbuckling, and the fearsome Captain Hook. But the children become the heroes of an even greater story, when Peter Pan flies into their nursery one night and leads them over moonlit rooftops through a galaxy of stars and to the lush jungles of Neverland. 

Wendy and her brothers join Peter and the Lost Boys in an exhilarating life--free of grown-up rules--while also facing the inevitable showdown with Hook and his bloodthirsty pirates.

Review

Since being read some of the stories while growing up, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the various versions of the Peter Pan stories.  I've seen a great many movie versions, mini-series and even different book versions of the extremely popular tale by J.M. Barrie.

When I read about this movie, I have to admit I was a little put off by the fact that the movie itself was apparently a big box office failure and that is a real shame.  I think that wasn't down to the quality of the movie itself, it was down to the competition at the time.  This movie was released round about the shame time as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies and against those unstoppable box office winners, it sadly didn't have a chance of competing.

That said, despite it coming at completely the wrong time release wise, I still find this adaptation utterly fascinating and I would even go so far as to say that it's not only the best adaptation of the popular tale but also my favourite by far.

One of the things that made it so interesting was the simple fact that while it is a family movie of sorts, it still deals with some pretty heavy duty themes.  The best part is obviously the relationship between Pan and Wendy but also the story behind Hook as well.  The writing really brings a feeling of the tragic to the characters.  Wendy has just met her 'first love', one that will envelope her so fully that she is willing to travel to a far off land to be with him.  But that's the problem isn't it?  She's fated to never really be with him because she knows she belongs in the real world.

That side of the story doesn't over shadow the tragic nature of the Hook character though, fair from it.  Hook is the man that can never be young.  He is the man that is doomed to be alone and unloved.  Isaacs performance is uttely beguiling as Hook and really rams that point of the character home but also does so with menace.  The fact that he can portray it in that way yet still make him a sympathetic character really goes to show just how good an actor Isaacs is.

Talking of Isaacs, the rest of the cast do a fantastic job of bringing the various characters to life with such a classic feel that you can't take your eyes from the screen as well as making the viewer feel involved with the story to such a degree that you find yourself emotionally invested in everything that is going on.

However the thing that struck me the most about the movie is how it looks.  The different scenes work so well together thanks to how they have cast and filmed them that it's almost as if you are seeing it come to life in front of your very eyes.  The difference in the scenes set in London and Neverland look so different that they shouldn't work together but they do so in such a beautiful way that your eyes are drawn to the myriad of details that the creators of the movie have managed to fit in.

All in  all, like I said earlier, this is honestly the best adaptation of the Peter Pan tale that I have ever watched and it was great to sit down to watch a movie with my son, who also loves pretty much any version of the story he can get his little hands on, and have us both enjoy it as much as one another.  Well worth picking up.  Definitely an under rated gem of a movie that deserves to be seen by a lot more people than it has been, especially for Isaacs performance alone.

Movie 8/10

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How To Live Forever and 34 Other Really Interesting Uses For Science Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Alok Jha

Published By
Quercus

Genre
Science, Non-Fiction

Synopsis

How can you live forever? What does it take to create life? How can we find other universes? Will we ever talk to aliens? What do you need to build a brain? How to Live Forever is the essential survival guide for anyone who has ever been baffled by science.

Embarking on a journey from the very small to the very big, readers will be taken on a glorious tour of the universe, taking in cloned sheep, alien worlds, bizarre life forms, quantum weirdness, parallel dimensions and dissected brains along the way. You'll discover how to travel through time, how to start (and cure) a plague, how the mind works, how to turn sunbeams into oak trees, how to boil a planet, how Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility works and much, much more. Both informative and enjoyable, this is a rip-roaring tour through the wonders of the natural world.
 
Review
 
Alok Jha writes for the Guardian newspaper so that should say a lot about his credentials straight away. He’s managed to write a science book that both manages to be funny and incredibly interesting without it being too tech heavy.  That said, one of the things that really struck me the most about this book is the fact that there is a fun side to the work here.  With a lot of science books or books that talk about the possibility of certain things from the movies being made in real life, you can sometimes find that the writing feels a bit stale or even boring in places.  Jha really infuses this book with a sense of fun and wonder and that really makes the ideas stick in your mind.

While some parts do run a little long and tend to repeat their points slightly, it doesn’t massively take away from the book itself. It’s the sort of book that you can pick up when you have a spare five minutes.  That gives it a strength for the readers because with scientific books you can sometimes feel that the subject matter is a bit too daunting to be able to just pick it up and take a look but like I said earlier, that's not the case here at all.
 
I've always been in to my books about various avenues in the science world and I also have a soft spot for books that tackle the 'what if' side of things and this book tackles both with aplomb.  My favorite part of the book has got to be the explanation of the cloak of invisibility from the Harry Potter series.
 
One of the main selling points is the simplicity of some of it’s explanations. While it was never intending to set out to be taken 100% seriously like a Stephen Hawking book, it is still a good one for fellow nerds, or geeks depending on what you want to be called, to pick up.

Presentation 7.5/10
Informative 8/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 23/30

Sacrifice (2012) Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Ningyu Zhao

Directed By
Kaige Chen

A 21 Century Shengkai Film, Shanghai Film Group, Stellar Megamedia, TIK Films Film

Genre
Historical, Drama, Adventure

Cast

You Ge as Cheng Ying
Xueqi Wang as Tu Angu
Fengyi Zhang as Gongsun Chujiu
Xiaoming Huang as Han Jue, Han Xianzi
Bingbing Fan as Princess Zhuang
Hai-Qing as Cheng Ying's Wife

Year Released
2010 / 2012

Certificate
15

Synopsis

To save the only child of the Zhao Family, whose entire clan was massacred at the hands of a nefarious minister, a doctor sacrifices his own son; after the Zhao child grows up, the doctor becomes intent on seeking his vengeance.

Review

I've always been a fan of movies with historical settings and of world cinema in general and this one fits both of those descriptions perfectly.

Kaige Chen is a wonderful director with an eye for detail and beauty in unlikely places. That's no difference here, although that's one of the movies faults at times as well. However for the most part, this is a very good movie.

A basic outline of the plot revolves a child being used as a pawn for revenge as war and intrigue rein around everyone and while that is not the most Earth shaking or original storyline that I have ever seen, the fact that it is so well done raises the quality of the movie up much higher than it would have been in lesser hands.

Let's get the negatives out of the way first however. One of the things that did bug me was the simple fact that the whole 'fade to black' thing was mega over used here to the point where it did get quite annoying in places. Another thing that bugged me was the simple fact that the editing made some of the story really inconsistent and even made a couple of scenes seem a bit redundant.

On the plus side of things Chen has made an absolutely beautiful movie. The directors eye for detail really helped on this part of the movie and really made the movie an amazing thing to watch. I hate to use the term 'eye candy' because this movie is much more than that.

The cast are great in this movie. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that they are absolutely spot on casting wise and really make all of the characters stand out. My favourite by far of the cast was Bingbing Fan as Princess Zhuang due to the simple fact that while she gave the princess such a beautiful portrayal, she also made the character incredibly multi-layered and have a real regal air to her. That's not to say that the rest of the cast are slouches either, they are all really good, it's just that her portrayal really stood out for me.

All in all, I would most definitely recommend this to any one who is a fan of world cinema and of historical drama in general. The story is beautifully told, albeit with a couple of flaws here and there, and with a great cast as well as being very beautiful.

Movie 7/10


Atlantis: The Lost Empire Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tab Murphy
Kirk Wise
Gary Trousdale
Joss Whedon
Bryce Zabel
Jackie Zabel

Directed By
Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise

A Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Feature Animation Film

Genre
Animated, Action, Adventure

Cast

Michael J. Fox as Milo James Thatch
Corey Burton as Gaetan 'The Mole' Moliere
James Garner as Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke
Claudia Christian as Helga Katrina Sinclair
John Mahoney as Preston B. Whitmore
Jim Varney as Jebidiah Allardyce 'Cookie' Farnsworth
Phil Morris as Dr. Joshua Strongbear Sweet
Leonard Nimoy as King Kashekim Nedakh
Jacqueline Obradors as Audrey Rocio Ramirez

Year Released
2001

Certificate
PG

Synopsis

This action-filled, deep-sea animated adventure, follows the inexperienced young explorer Milo James Thatch who is desperate to complete the quest begun by his late grandfather in finding Atlantis. Thatch tries to convince his friends that he knows the whereabouts of Atlantis without success until eccentric billionaire, 'Preston B Whitmore' agrees to fund an expedition to find the legendary lost empire. 

As the linguistics expert, Milo, guides the team, headed by Commander Rourke, to the elusive undersea kingdom of Atlantis. But what they find there defies their expectations and triggers an explosive series of events that only Milo can resolve. 

Review

I've always wondered why out of all the movies that Disney have put out over the years, Atlantis: The Lost Empire has been largely forgotten.  I figured I would look through some of the reviews and see if there seemed to be a reason for it and  to be honest, there didn't so I thought I'd put it in and give it a shot.

Now that I have seen Atlantis: The Lost Empire I have to admit that I was massively entertained and really enjoyed it.

The story itself has quite a few influences that move the story along with some great work on the pacing front.  The characters are, for the most part, given a chance to grow as the movie goes on and htere are some really impressive set pieces here too.

However, the thing that really struck me the most about this movie is just how massively different this movie was from the rest of the studio's output at this point.  Maybe that was what worked against it but for me, it's the thing that really put it above some of their other early 2000's releases.

There is a big steam punk element to the story alonside some great subtle and not so subtle nods to the 1950's movies where they go to unexplored places and find all manners of people and creatures.  That's the road that this movie follows yet does so with a sense of fun and excitement running throughout.

The animation isn't Disney's best and I will readily admit that but there are some absolutely gorgeous looking scenes in this movie.  There were times in fact where you were so hooked in to the visuals that you could feel yourself lost in the story.  I love it when a movie has that kind of effect on a viewer.

That said, there were some moments that fell in to the side of melodramatic cliche for me and that took me a little out of the movie.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't enough to ruin the story or to bring it to a halt.  It give off more of a "why did they do that for?" feeling.

Cast wise, this one is wildly eclectic thanks to featuring such people as James Garner, Michael J. Fox and Claudia Christian.  Hell, they even cast Jim Varney, yes the man of Ernest fame, in what was to sadly be his last movie before his death.  They all do a great job of making the characters all seem different personality wise and Garner seemed to be absolutely loving playing his part.

All in all, I don't really know why this one is one of Disney's forgotten movies.  It may not be the most original movie I've ever seen but the execution of it was well thought out, paced well and had some great set pieces that really stay with you, even after the end of the movie.  Definitely one to check out if you get a chance.

Movie 7/10


Monday, 16 February 2015

Harper's Island: The Complete Series Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Created By
Ari Schlossberg

Genre
Horror

Cast

Elaine Cassidy as Abby Mills
Christopher Gorham as Henry Dunn
Matt Barr as Christopher 'Sully' Sullivan
Gina Holden as Shea Allen
Katie Cassidy as Trish Wellington
Cassandra Sawtell as Madison Allen
Brandon Jay McLaren as Danny Brooks
C.J. Thomason as Jimmy Mance

Certificate
15

Synopsis

A slasher-inspired drama, this series is about a group of friends and family who meet to celebrate a wedding on an island just outside Seattle - an island that is famous for a streak of unsolved murders seven years ago... 

Suspense ensues when they end up dead one by one. Has the killer returned or is someone else to blame? 

Special Features
  • Commentary on Selected Episodes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • CBS Network On-Air Promos
  • Harper's Globe (Webisodes 1-16)
  • Casting Harper's Island
  • One by One: The Making of Harper's Island
  • Guess Who?
  • The Grim Reaper
  • 3 Easter Eggs

Review

I have to admit that I bought this series on a whim after being given a voucher to spend on a website.  I had a little bit left on the voucher, saw this series cheap and figured it sounded interesting enough to want to give it a go.

The idea of a slasher killer on a remote island picking people off one by one isn't a new idea in the slightest.  In fact, it's a road that has been walked down so many times that it is nigh on impossible to not fall in to the cliches that a lot of entries in to the genre have fallen in to.

Harper's Island is a series that attempts to tackle that problem head on but still give enough of a nod to the slasher movies that they know the horror fans love so much but did they succeed in that?

Well, yes and no.  The series started really well.  The pacing and the quick back and forth sequences in the first couple of episodes worked really well and gave it an almost 80's feel with the killings.  As a horror fan, I loved that about the show.  In fact, that was one of the things that hooked me in.  With nobody safe in any of the episodes, it really did leave you wondering just who was going to be next and if, in fact, any of them would survive.

Then about halfway through the series the momentum appeared to stall slightly and it almost felt like they were dragging out the reveal just for the sake of it instead of doing so to add more tension.  Don't get me wrong, the series was still good at that point, it's just that there started to be moments where the action just seemed to be little more than filler.

The cast do a good job of making the characters more than just cannon fodder for the killer here.  It is true that a couple of the performances did border on melodramatic at times but at the same time, they were a lot better than some of the performances that I have seen in movies with a much higher budget so fair play on that count.  On a related front, the lady named Katie Cassidy who played Trish, went on to play Laurel in the Arrow series.

All in all, this is a good television series for the slasher fans out there.  It doesn't break any new ground and the reveal of the killer felt a little off but at the same time, it is still worth a watch.

Show 7/10

Doctor Who: Seasons of War - Tales From A Time War Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Matt Fitton
Declan May
Warren Frey
Lee Rawlings
J.R. Southall
Kate Orman
Simon Brett
John Davies
Andrew Smith
Matthew Sweet
Christopher Bryant
John Peel
Jenny Colgan
Elton Townend-Jones
Daniel Wealands
Lance Parkin
Sami Kelish
Dan Barratt
Alan P. Jack
Nick Mellish
David Carrington
Alan Roland
Matt Barber
Jon Arnold
Matthew Sylvester
Paul Driscoll
Elliot Thorpe
Paul Magrs
Jim Mortimore
Barnaby Eaton-Jones
Gary Russell
George Mann
Andy Robinson

Art By
Paul Griffin
Carolyn Edwards
Simon Brett
Paul Hanley

Introduction By
Declan May

Preface By
Nicholas Briggs

Edited By
Declan May

Published By
Chinbeard Books
Nicholas Hollands

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

"They retaliate in ways more inventive, more deadly and more unimaginable than ever before. Events are written and unwritten again and again. History is changed. Future is altered. Every moment in time and space is burning. The Time War is about to enter a new phase. Whatever you call yourself, you’re going to be very busy..."

A War that threatens all of time and space…

A man who has renounced his name and everything he stood for…

A battle being fought across the universe between old enemies, both sides keeping dark secrets that must never be revealed…

SEASONS OF WAR is collection of stories featuring the War Doctor, created in support of CAUDWELL CHILDREN.

It is an unofficial charity anthology raising money for Caudwell Children and dedicated to the memory of PAUL SPRAGG. It features more than thirty contributors, including GEORGE MANN, LANCE PARKIN, JENNY COLGAN, PAUL MAGRS, MATT FITTON, JIM MORTIMORE, ANDREW SMITH, JOHN PEEL, KATE ORMAN, MATTHEW SWEET with a special preface by NICHOLAS BRIGGS.

Accompanying the anthology is an exclusive comic strip and short film.

Review

One of the things that you can sometimes notice the most about anthologies is the simple fact that the quality of the stories can go up and down wildly as you work your way through the book.  That said, there are anthologies that can sometimes, just sometimes, hook you in from the first page and not let you go until you finish the entire collection.

Seasons of War - Tales from a Time War is an unofficial companion piece to the popular War Doctor character played by John Hurt in the long running Doctor Who series.  Appearing in just the 50th anniversary episode of the show, the character has an air of both sympathy and mystery around him that makes him a very interesting character.  With so little known about the character himself, I was wondering just how the authors here could not only do him and the show justice but to also keep the air of mystery and sympathy that surrounds the character intact.

Well, after reading this one, I have to admit that I am very impressed with the effort and obviously love of the show that they have put in to the collection.  You can tell from the writing that the people involved here really know their stuff and have done a great job of not only getting to the heart of the character but also the theme of the show.

You have a lot of tales here to sink your teeth into.  If you are a Whovian, there are a lot of things here that will really hook you in.  In fact, you wouldn't know that this is an unofficial collection at all.  It's written so well that it can not only stand alongside the various books and collections put out by BBC Books but is also one of the best ones out there.

I have to admit that there were a couple of stories that didn't hit the high standards of the rest of the anthology but even those stories were extremely well done, it's just that the best ones were so good that you couldn't take your eyes off of the action unfolding.

As well as the stories, you are treated to such absolutely fantastic art as well.  They really stood next to the stories in such a good way that it added another well thought out layer.

If you are a Whovian then I really can't recommend it high enough.  Not only are you getting some absolutely fantastic stories featuring a superb character and many more from the long running series but you are also helping to raise funds for an extremely good cause too.  What more could you want?

Story 8/10
Cover 8/10
Characters 8.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

For more information on the cause and the collection itself then visit their site here!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Phil Foglio
Kaja Foglio

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

Synopsis

In the third installment of the Girl Genius novels, Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle begins as Agatha Heterodyne returns to her ancestral home, the warped little town of Mechanicsburg. There she must claim her inheritance by convincing the artificial intelligence that animates her family’s castle that she is, in fact, the new Heterodyne. But this apparently simple task is made complicated in several ways: An imposter claiming to be the legitimate heir appears. The Empire is convinced that Agatha is the person responsible for the Long War (and to be fair, they are not entirely incorrect). And, worst of all, the Castle itself is insane.

Review

With this being based on a series of comics, one thing bugged me before I started to read this.  Would I be able to follow the action if I hadn't read any of them?

The writing here is absolutely brilliantly paced and does a great job of creating a narrative that will hook you in to the story and the world that they have created regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the series.  I have to admit that there were a couple of moments where I was a little bit puzzled but the writing does a good job of explaining the moments that feel important without feeling the need to batter the reader over the head.

Regular readers of the series will be pleased to know that a lot of characters return for this one as well as some new ones popping up.  Some of the new characters work so well that they feel like they have always been in the stories and there were a couple of others that I have had my fill of already.  That doesn't really affect the story all that much but there were a couple of moments where it was a minor distraction.  The best character of the book, other than the obvious choice of Agatha, is a certain self aware building that provided a lot of the best moments in the book.

The one thing that did disappoint me the most was the fact that for the final 100 pages or so, it kind of felt like the story was a little bit stuck.  In fact, I would almost go so far as to say that the spins were spinning but the engine wasn't firing.  That is a bit of shame because the rest of the book is near perfect in the pacing and the story itself.  I was hooked in and couldn't wait to see just what was going to happen next to the characters.  There were even moments where the story jumped from being very funny to keeping me on the edge of my seat without it feeling in the slightest bit disjointed.

 Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle is a superb book with science fiction, steam punk and fantasy elements alongside some very funny moments.  Definitely one worth picking up.

Story 8/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32.5/40