Sunday, 29 March 2015

Scooby Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Michael Ryan

Directed By
Brandon Vietti

A Hanna-Barbera Productions, WWE Studios, Warner Bros. Feature Animation Film

Genre
Animation, Adventure

Cast

Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo, Fred Jones (Voice)
Mindy Cohn as Velma Dinkley (Voice)
Grey Griffin as Daphne Blake (Voice) (Credited as Grey Delisle Griffin)
Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers (Voice)
John Cena as Himself (Voice)
Michael Cole as Himself (Voice)
Vince McMahon as Mr. McMahon (Voice)
Triple H as Himself (Voice)
AJ Lee as Herself (Voice)
Fred Tatasciore as The Bear (Voice)
Charles S. Dutton as Cookie (Voice)
Bumper Robinson as Reuben (Voice)

Year Released
2014

Certificate
PG

Synopsis

When Shaggy and Scooby win tickets to WrestleMania, the entire gang travels in the Mystery Machine to WWE City to attend the epic event. However, when a mysterious ghostly bear appears and threatens to ruin the show, Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred work with WWE Superstars to solve the case.

Review

The recently Scooby-Doo animated movies have been very hit and miss.  There have been some really good ones, some really bad ones and some, well, bizarre ones.

When I read that the WWE would be making an animated crossover movie that would feature their wrestling superstars solving a mystery with the Scooby Gang, I have to admit that I thought it was a bit of a strange mix.

Story wise, it's not the worst Scooby-Doo movie I've seen.  The story itself moves along at a quick pace and has some really good moments where they break the fourth wall, noting things like the fact that they always wear the same clothes and more.  The inclusion of the wrestlers themselves didn't really do that much for the movie.  At times, they just seemed like they were there to make up the numbers.  I have to admit that the story would have probably worked better as a half hour episode instead of a movie itself.

Animation wise, the movie looks crisp and clear with some of the more action orientated scenes really popping off of the screen.  The original Scooby-Gang all look good but a couple of the wrestlers don't really look all that much like their real life counterparts.

The voice cast are very hit and miss on this one.  Welker, Lillard and the rest of the original gang really do inhabit their characters and really deliver some of the best lines in the movie.  Alongside them is John Cena and Vince McMahon who really sound like they are having fun with their voice work.  However Brodus Clay, Triple H and even AJ Lee sound like they are either bored or couldn't be bothered with their dialogue.

All in all, while this is fun in places, I wouldn't go out of your way to catch it.

Movie 6/10


Indie Spotlight: Stephane Cote


Article By
Patrick Scattergood

Welcome to a long overdue installment of the Indie Spotlight were COASM takes a look at someone involved in the indie scene.  There's an absolute treasure trove of talent out there so it's about time we give the spotlight to some of those talented folks.


Name: Stephane Cote
Occupation: Writer, Artist

With the indie scene in such good health recently, the focus seems to be on titles not only from America but from Great Britain as well.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of focus on some of the talent from Canada.

Well, Stephane Cote is one of those talents and what a talent he is.  Hailing from Montreal, he handles both the writing and the illustration side of things, Cote has a rather unique style.  With sharp angles and bright colours combining with an almost lyrical flow to his writing, Cote really can hook in the reader to such a degree that you can't put his work down.

Art wise, his style is quite hard to pin down.  One of the things that personally impresses me is the simple fact that with each reading, you always seem to notice a little detail that he's snuck in to the background or on a character.  It really adds a lot to the stories and his art.

Another layer to his art is the fact that while it harks back to the golden age of comics, there's also a classic feel to it that wouldn't feel out of place in a silent black and white movie starring someone like Clara Bow or someone of that kind of style.  It's a breath of fresh air to find someone draw with a vintage eye without it looking like a cliche because Cote's work has such a unique mix of styles that you can look at it and know it's his work straight away.

His Serial Beauty collection was featured at Entre le café et la plume in November, 2011, and he is completing his musical graphic novel, Fantasmagoria, available soon.

All in all, this Montreal based artist and writer is a name to keep an eye on.  With such a unique style and his own title 'Fantasmagoria: An Operatic Graphic Novel' about to be released, he is going to make a rather impressive splash in the comic world.






Rollerball (1975) Blu-Ray Review

Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
William Harrison

Directed By
Norman Jewison

An Algonquin Film

Genre
Science Fiction, Action

Cast

James Caan as Jonathan E
John Houseman as Bartholomew
Maud Adams as Ella
John Beck as Moonpie
Moses Gunn as Cletus
Pamela Hensley as Mackie
Barbara Trentham as Daphne
John Normington as Executive

Year Released
1975

Certificate
15

Synopsis

In a corporate-controlled future, the world’s nations have been disbanded and conflict is a thing of the past. But blood continues to be shed on the tracks of Rollerball – a brutal contact sport which pits players in a battle of life and death.

James Caan (The Godfather, Thief, Misery) plays Jonathan E., celebrated captain of the Houston Rollerball team whose prowess on the track has earned him renown across the globe. But this fame has also attracted the ire of the games’ corporate sponsors, who wish to suppress any displays of individual achievement – fearing this could encourage the populace to revolt. With the powers-that-be pushing for his retirement, Jonathan is faced with a choice – concede to the Corporation’s will or take a stand, by continuing to compete in the increasingly deadly games.

Shot in Munich to make use of the city’s futuristic Olympic architecture, Rollerball is a classic slice of dystopian filmmaking, mixing high-octane action sequences with gripping (and thoroughly prescient) social commentary. The future is now – the future is Rollerball!

Special Features
  •   Audio Commentary with director Norman Jewison 
  • Audio Commentary with writer William Harrison 
  • Blood Sports with James Caan – A brand-new interview with the Rollerball star 
  • The Fourth City: Shooting Rollerball in Munich – Unit manager Dieter Meyer and others revisit the Audi Dome and other original locations 
  • The Bike Work: Craig R. Baxley on the Motorcycle Stunts in Rollerball – Stunt artist Baxley on the challenges and dangers of being one of the Rollerball bikers 
  • Return to the Arena: The Making of Rollerball 
  • From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle – original EPK bringing together interviews and on-set footage 
  • Original Theatrical Trailer 
  • Theatrical Teaser 
  • TV Spots 
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper 
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. 
Review

The original Rollerball movie has long been one of my favourite movies of all time.  The satirical look at the way some people have an insatiable need to see and view violence has always interested me and the movie handles that brilliantly but for some reason, I hadn't gotten around to watching it for a very long time.  Would it match up to my memories of the movie or would it have aged really badly?

Well, with Arrow Films bringing out a remastered Blu-Ray of the movie, I thought now would be the perfect time to take a look at what was one of my favourites of all time.

The first thing that I noticed about this movie was that quite simply, the transfer was absolutely gorgeous.  You can still tell that the movie was made in the 1970's but the picture quality really looked as if the movie could have been made now.

Now that I'm older but not so wiser, the satirical themes that made this movie so fascinating to me in my teenage years, are much closer to the forefront than when I first watched it.  The way that Jewison directed this movie really makes it stand out as a beacon and a message about the sometimes insane need that humanity has to see violence and people being hurt.  Ironically, the movie became so popular that, at the time, there was even talk of people setting up the leagues themselves.  Talk about missing the point of the movie!

With forty years having passed since the movie was first released, I was a little worried that the movie would have aged really badly but that's not the case.  Much of that is down to the sharp and decisive writing by William Harrison.  The points made in this movie could very well be made in a movie now and still be as important as they were then.  Don't worry movie fans, I haven't gone mad.  I'm just ignoring the awful remake from 2002 that had none of the quality that this movie has.

One of the things that I liked about this movie was the simple fact that the cast is universally good to great across the board.  That said, the movie belongs to James Caan.  He plays the part of Jonathan E with the hints of the masculine, action hero personality that he would need yet he gives the character a sense of sympathy, an emotional core that would have been missing otherwise.  It's that performance that really makes the movie on that is unmissable.

As with a lot of Arrow Films releases, the special features here are a veritable treasure chest of treats for fans of the movie itself.  There are interviews, behind the scenes, even a look at the amazingly choreographed stunt work that made this the first movie to have the stunt workers listed with a screen credit that is still used to this day.

Despite being 40 years old, I honestly believe that this movie has an important message that still rings true today.  Because of that, the breath taking stunt work, great performances and the sheer volume of special features makes this movie and it's Blu-Ray release an essential purchase.

Movie 9/10

Star Wars: Rebels Season 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Created By
Simon Kinberg
Carrie Beck
Dave Filoni

Genre
Science Fiction, Animated, Adventure

Cast

Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla (Voice)
Freddie Prinze r. as Kanan Jarrus (Voice)
Steve Blum as Zeb Orrelios (Voice)
Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger (Voice)
Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren (Voice)
Jason Isaacs as The Inquisitor (Voice)

Certificate
PG

Synopsis

A brave and clever ragtag starship crew stands up against the evil Empire as it tightens its grip on the galaxy and hunts down the last of the Jedi Knights.

Review

When I saw that Disney were going to make a new Star Wars prequel series but one that focused on a young lad going on adventures set during the gap between the new trilogy and the classic one, I have to admit that I was a little sceptical.  I thought that there would be too much humour and not enough excitement but I was definitely wrong on that front.

With this series, Disney have done something very clever indeed.  They have managed to create a series that will hook in the younger viewers but there are so many nods and links to the classic movies that the parents watching it with them will be entertained too.

The episodes themselves work very well when watched alone but when you watch them one after another, it's a bit like going on a treasure hunt but as a Star Wars fan.  The stories do a great ob of linking to classic ideas, characters and themes but do so in a way that it fits perfectly in to the Star Wars canon.

I have to admit that when the series started, I found the character of Ezra a little one sided and even a bit annoying in places.  As the series progressed, the character not only grew but became a very important and essential part of  the story.  The parts of the episodes that revealed little snippets of his past were very well done and really gave  the character an emotional edge.  It's the same with the rest of the crew.

Near the end of the season, you begin to learn more about the character of Kanan, a Jedi character that works with the crew.  In the final couple of episodes, you really do have a real sense of the turmoil the character goes through and it even lets you in to why he acts the way he does.  It was a very well written bit of television in that they did it in a way that it gives the viewers a reason to care about him as well as being easily understandable for the younger viewers.

However, for me as an adult, I loved the addition of the character called The Inquisitor that was voiced by the criminally underrated Jason Isaacs.  The sheer amount of menace and dread that he brings whenever he is on the screen really reminds me of how I felt as a kid watching Darth Vader for the first time.

For fans of the original trilogy, there are some fantastic appearances by some of the characters from their and they're even voiced by the original actors too so for an old school fan such as myself, that was a real treat.

All in all, this is a fantastic series that will really please the younger viewers as well as the young at heart ones.  Exciting stories, a great surprise at the end of the series and characters that grow as the series progresses.  I, for one, can't wait for the second season and nor can my lad so personally, you can't ask for more than that from a television show.

Show 7.5/10


Friday, 27 March 2015

The Silence Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tim Lebbon

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Horror

Synopsis

In the darkness of a vast cave system, cut off from the world for millennia, blind creatures hunt by sound.  Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed...

Swarming from their prison, they multiply and thrive.  To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death.

Deaf for many years, Ali knows how to live in silence.  Now, it is her family's only chance of survival.  To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague.  But will it ever end?  And what kind of world will be left?

Review

With a storyline such as the one used in The Silence, I was expecting there to be a lot of The Descent or Pitch Black moments but that wasn't the case here at all.  Despite there being a voice at the back of my mind wanting to compare those movies to this book, it didn't fit in to that mould at all.  Instead, Tim Lebbon has crafted a story that is both subtle, creepy and very addictive.

The thing that struck me the most about The Silence is the simple fact that the story comes across as utterly unique in both it's execution and it's style.  The slow, deliberate pacing really adds up to give the story a feeling of dread and fear that runs just under the surface to such a degree that the story really gets under your skin and doesn't let go for one moment.  That turns this novel in to one that you just can't put down. 

Another thing that I really liked about this book was the simple fact that the 'big bad' wasn't some demon from Hell or a vampire type villain.  Instead, despite the premise of the story itself, it felt utterly realistic.  The violence and gore during the story is very well handled and really effective in how it delivers a gut punch to the reader.  Alongside those moments, the characters are handled so well that you are drawn in to their world and in to seeing the harsh decisions that they have to make in order for them to merely survive.

Talking of the decisions side of things, there are moments where the dread is built up to such an effective degree that when they do have to make the decisions, you are so drawn in that you can't help but be swept along with the story.

If you have never read any of Lebbon's work before then The Silence is a great book for you to read to become accustomed to his fluid, almost lyrical writing style.

If you want a story that is going to stay under your skin long after the story has ended then you are definitely in for a great ride with this one.  Creepy, full of dread and gore, this is definitely a book that deserves to be in the collection of any horror fan.  Even if you aren't one, this book is so effective at building the tension and fear that you should pick it up and be prepared to lose the rest of the day because you won't be able to put it down.

Story 9/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35.5/40

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Pablo Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Illustrated By
Julie Birmant
Clement Oubrerie

Coloured By
Sandra Desmazieres

Translated By
Edward Gauvin

Published By
Self Made Hero

Genre
Art, Biography

Synopsis

A prodigious talent.  A passionate visionary.  Pablo Picasso.

An award-winning graphic biography of one of the world's best-loved artists, Pablo follows Picasso's artistic career from his origins in penury to the advent of modern art.  Taking in his early life among the bohemians of Montmartre, with all of its scandal and frustration, and his turbulent relationship with his model and lover Fernande, Julie Birmant and Clement Oubrerie show how Picasso's style developed in response to his friendships and rivalries.

An entertaining and beautifully drawn account, this authoritive graphic novel explores the themes and obsessions - among them, sex, death and his great nemesis, Henri Matisse - that drove Picasso to express himself.

Review

Self Made Hero are a publisher that are very well known for their graphic novels that deal with the lives of famous artists, sports personalities, writers and many more.  One of their best biographical graphic novels was Vincent that dealt with the life of the amazingly talented Vincent van Gogh and it quickly became one of my favourite releases from any publisher.

Now they have released Pablo, a graphic novel that takes a look at the life of the artist that some say gave birth to the modern art era, Pablo Picasso.

With a whole catalogue of absolutely brilliant graphic novels in their arsenal, Pablo has a massive legacy to live up to and it does so with ease.

The wonderfully drawn pages really are a feast for the eyes and look absolutely stunning while forming the emotional core of the book.  You really can see the frustrations, the loves and the passions of the characters literally leaping from the page and with a life like Picasso's, it was always going to be hard to do it justice yet the art more than lives up to the challenge.  One of the brilliant strengths of the art is the simple fact that the settings almost feel as alive as the characters themselves.  The scenes are so beautiful and detailed that you could read this again and again yet notice new things each and every time.

There are so many nuances and layers to Picasso's life that it would honestly be nigh on impossible to write about everything without it becoming a book the size of War and Peace yet here, the duo really do create a brilliantly detailed and human look at his life.  There is no glossing over the darker moments in his life as some other biographies have done in the past.  They are more than brave enough to write about his mistakes and when he took the wrong path in his life.  Yet on the other side of things, the writing is so passionate about his successes that it's hard to not feel like you are there right alongside him.

I have to admit that while Vincent is still my favorite of their biographical graphic novels, Pablo is a release from Self Made Hero that is essential for any art lovers collection.  It's so fantastically written and drawn that your heart will both break and fly high during the story and you can't ask for more than that.

Story 8/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35/40

What We Do in the Shadows Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Directed By
Jemaine Clement
Taika Waititi

A Funny or Die, Unison Films, Defender Films, New Zealand Film Commission Film

Genre
Horror, Comedy, Mockumentary

Cast

Jemaine Clement as Vladislav
Taika Waititi as Viago
Jonathan Brugh as Deacon
Cori Gonzalez-Macuer as Nick
Stuart Rutherford as Stu
Ben Fransham as Petyr
Rhys Darby as Anton
Jackie van Beek as Jackie

Year Released
2014 / 2015

Certficate
15

Synopsis

What happens when four ancient vampires become housemates in contemporary New Zealand? 

This hilarious mock-documentary, featuring Taika Waititi and Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement, details all the comic complexity that arises from such difficult living (or not living) conditions. 

A young new initiate who won’t stop telling people how cool it is to be a vampire adds to the supernatural chaos.

Review

Vampires, mockumentary and a horror comedy hybrid.  Three things that in theory shouldn't work because of how tired and over used they are as movie making tools.  Yet here that's not the case.

Vampire comedies have been incredibly popular lately and because of that, the genre has been over crowded massively.  Some have been really good and others have been down right awful.  What We Do in the Shadows is one of those movies that fits in to the first camp and does so with a large amount of flair and skill.

I have to admit that the mockumentary genre is one that doesn't really interest me massively.  I love films like This is Spinal Tap but for the most part, the movies just come across as feeling forced and unfunny.  What We Do in the Shadows not only hooked me in for the entire movie but also felt like you were really watching the story unfold in front of you.

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clements have not only written and directed a very funny tale of just what it would be like to be a vampire just wanting to live a simple life, but they also perform as two of the characters and really make them feel completely real.  In fact, Clements performance actually came across as a funny version of the Gary Oldman portrayal in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

One of the things that really interested me the most was the simple fact that not only do the jokes come thick and fast but there is also an emotional slant to the movie too, even bordering in to tense territory when the new arrival moves in.  I loved the simple fact that they were able to straddle such different styles but did so in such a way that it felt original, hilarious and touching.

With some great special features such as deleted scenes, interviews, behind the shadows, video extras and promo videos, this is a great all round release from those folks at Metrodome.

All in all, this is a movie that really deserves to be seen by a lot more people than it has been.  This is a funny, well written movie with some absolutely fantastic performances and moments that will have you howling with laughter.  Just watch out for the sandwich joke, that will literally have you spitting your drink over yourself from laughing so much.

Movie 8/10

What We Do in the Shadows is released to buy on April 13th.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Way of the Wicked Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Matt Kelly

Directed By
Kevin Carraway

A Matt Kelly Films, Odyssey Media Film

Genre
Supernatural, Horror

Cast

Vinnie Jones as John Elliot
Christian Slater as Father Henry
Emily Tennant as Heather Elliot
Jake Croker as Robbie Mueller
Aren Buchholz as Greg
Matt Kelly as Detective Fleming
Brittney Wilson as Cindy
Jedidiah Goodacre as Matt

Year Released
2014

Certificate
15

Synopsis

Father Henry goes to a local police detective and they learn that a troubled teen with a dark past has recently moved to town and has set his sights on the cop's beautiful, young daughter. Father Henry, who turns out to have secrets of his own, finds himself pitted against a demonic force more diabolically evil and twisted than any of them could have imagined.

Review

With a rather interesting premise, I have to admit that I was quite interested in where they would take a story such as this considering how many times stories of a similar style have been released.

When I saw Christian Slater plastered all over the movie posters for this one, I was kind of expecting him to be all over this movie but in the grand scheme of things, he's not really in it all that much.  That's a bit of a shame because when he does bring his 'a' game to a movie, there are still flashes of the talent that made him such a huge name in the 80's and 90's.  Here, not so much.  There were some scenes where he really stole the movie with a darkly cynical take on the over used priest character but then there were other scenes where he looked absolutely bored witless.

Then there was Vinnie Jones.  The thing I really liked about his performance was that, for once, he wasn't playing a thug or a heavy for a mob.  In fact, he gave a solid and actually quite subtle performance as the town sheriff.  The casting for him in this movie did seem a bit of a strange choice for the part but it worked pretty well.

As for the story itself, it didn't really feel all that original.  There were moments that felt like a lower budget version of The Omen even with some of the twists and turns.

My main problem with the movie was the simple fact that the movie really didn't live up to the interesting premise because of the simple fact that the flow was really off.  There were moments where a lot was happening but then there were rows of scenes that didn't really seem to go anywhere important with the story.  Even with the twist at the end, it was very easily telegraphed and even had me groan at the obviousness of it.

Also watch out for the killer tractor without an engine and no I'm not joking.

All in all, this isn't the worst low budget horror I've ever seen but I wish they would have been braver and tried something a little different considering how often this type of movie has been made.  There were some unintentionally funny moments that did take me out of the movie but then there were some really good performances from Vinnie Jones and even some flashes of cynical talent from Christian Slater so it's still worth a watch if you can find it cheap.

Movie 5.5/10


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Glenn Berger
Jonathan Aibel
Stephen Hillenburg
Paul Tibbitt

Directed By
Paul Tibbitt

A Paramount Animation, United Plankton Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies Film

Genre
Animation, Comedy, Adventure

Cast

Antonio Banderas as Burger Beard
Tom Kenny as SpongeBob Squarepants, Gary, Agreeable Mob Member, Waffle (Voice)
Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick Star, Male Fish, Eager Customer (Voice)
Rodger Bumpass as Squidward, Doctor, Angry Mob Member 2, Doughnut, Squidasaurus Rex (Voice)
Jill Talley as Karen (The Computer Wife), Harold's Wife, Ice Cream Cone 2 (Voice)
Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs (Voice)
Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy (Voice)
Mary Jo Catlett as Mrs. Puff (Voice)

Year Released
2015

Certificate
U

Synopsis

When a diabolical pirate above the sea steals the secret Krabby Patty formula, SpongeBob and his nemesis Plankton must team up in order to get it back.

Review

I have to admit that when I saw the trailer, I thought this movie looked like it was going to be absolutely awful.  I mean, I love the SpongeBob Squarepants series but the idea of it being live action with 3D animation just didn't really interest me all that.  After seeing the movie, the trailer really felt quite misleading.

Instead of live action with 3D animation all the way through, the animation is the same as the television series until the final third and that's when they find their way in to the 'real world' of the movie.

One of things that struck me the most about this movie was just how truly surreal some parts here.  During the movie there were parts that had nods to The Shining, Mad Max and others that will please the adults out there that were watching the movie yet there were some utterly rediculous moments that the little ones will be howling in laughter at.  I know my lad was.

The humour in this movie, while not up to that in the first SpongeBob movie, definitely harks back to the 'golden age' of the show.  There were some jokes that were so utterly silly that you couldn't help but laugh at how absurd they were.  The best, for me, being the time where Plankton told SpongeBob to hold his thoughts and then you see him literally holding a thought balloon!

The live action parts, that featured Antonio Banderas as the pirate Burger Beard, were pretty well done and when the 3D animated versions of the shows heroes show up, I have to admit that they looked pretty well done.  However, these parts were funny but some of the humour seemed a lot more forced then in the full on animated moments.  That said, it was a hell of a lot better than the trailers gave it credit for.

My one complaint, considering how much I enjoyed watching this with my son, would be that it didn't really feel all that much like a movie, instead it felt more like an extended episode of the show.  That said it is still worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the show itself.

Movie 7/10

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sickle (2015) Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Geno McGahee

Directed By
Geno McGahee
Forris Day Jr.

A X Posse Productions Film

Genre
Horror

Cast

Steven Joseph Adams as Anderson
Leeann Aubuchon as Beth
Crystal Aya as Kim
Forris Day Jr. as Butch
Renee Day as Susan
Scott C. Day as Phil Thomas
Martin DuPlessis as Sickle
Logan Lopez as Michael Hart

Year Released
2015

Synopsis

Twelve year old Michael Hart is convicted of the murder of a babysitter, despite his claims that a "monster did it." Upon his release, the monster returns and the bodies are piling up. 

Is it the Grim Reaper? Is it the Mothman? Whatever it is, it's a killing force and Michael must prove its existence to clear his name but must also face the darker side of humanity. 

What is SICKLE and can it be killed? 

Michael Hart will find out if it kills him. 

Review

With indie horror movies, there is a very hit and miss way with the genre.  For every impressive movie that really gets under your skin, you find there are easily 3 or 4 movies that are just awful and sometimes even painful to watch.

I have to admit that I wasn't really sure what to expect from Sickle.  The synopsis sounded really interesting but I hadn't heard of the people involved or the company that was behind the movie so when I was given a chance to take a look at it, I went in to it with pretty open expectations.

Sickle is one of  those movies that you will either really like, especially if you are a fan of indie horror movies, or you'll hate.  There isn't really a middle ground for it to be honest.

The writing itself is pretty well done.  The idea that runs through the story really likes to mess with the idea that the murders are either committed by a supernatural entity or by a very sick individual.  When the movie does veer in to the supernatural side of things, it does it a lot better than some of the other indie movies I've seen recently.  The idea behind it may not be the most original in the world but I've seen a lot worse and besides, it's well done for the movie we have here.

Acting wise, it's a bit of a mixed bag.  A couple of the characters seem really natural and organic with their performances.  One of my favourite was by far Logan Lopez who really gave the character of Michael quite a creepy feel without falling in to melodramatic over acting.  That's most true of the scenes where he has just left the asylum and an overwhelming sense of loneliness just prevades through the movie itself.  It really made you feel sympathetic to the character, which added another layer to him.

For me, the movie really reminded me of movies like Phantasm and even The Mothman Prophecies in places.  There even seemed a little hint of Halloween as well.  And for you horror fans, the kills here are pretty well done and make good use of their budget.

When the reveal of Sickle finally happens, the thing that struck me was the simple fact that the character would look absolutely brilliant as a horror comic character.  I loved the design and the costume work for him as well.

The one complaint I would have for the movie, other than some of the characters feeling like they were just horror movie cannon fodder, is that the movie itself felt like it needed a little bit more of a balls to the wall feel, a little more pep in it's step as my father would have said.
I have to admit that while it won't set the world of indie horror movies on fire, this is still a lot better than some of the recent ones I have seen.  With some good direction, interesting kills and a creepy performance from Lopez, this is definitely one that is well worth seeing at the festivals that it's appearing at.

Movie 6.5/10

Green Lantern: Rebirth Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Geoff Johns

Art By
Ethan Van Sciver
Prentis Rollins
Marlo Alquiza
Mick Gray
Moose Baumann

Lettering By
Rob Leigh

Cover By
Ethan Van Sciver

Published By
DC Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Superhero

Synopsis

Hal Jordan was the greatest Green Lantern of them all, until his shocking fall from grace.  Now witness his awe-inspiring redemption at the hands of writer Geoff Johns and artists Ethan Van Sciver!

Hal Jordan was always a hero.  Among all Earthmen, he was appointed Green Lantern of Sector 2814, to impose his emerald will in the pursuit of universal peace.

But when he failed to prevent the destruction of Coast City, fear took hold of Hal Jordan's heart, corrupting his every action.  His will was no longer his own.

Now, a struggle for his soul determines the fate of the galaxy and the evil that attempts to consume it.  Hal alone has the power to cast his light across the universe and change Blackest Night to Blackest Day!

Review

When DC embarked on the whole New 52 venture, I have to admit that while some of the titles that came from that were good and well thought out stories, a lot of them just seemed there to make up the numbers so to speak.  As well as Marvel recycling a lot of their old stories and updating them, I kind of soured on the Big Two and started to read a lot more indie stuff.

With the stories before this collection having dealth with Jordan's fall from grace and his descent in to 'evil ways', Green Lantern: Rebirth was always going to be a risky story to tell.  If written well then this would be a superb way to return Jordan to his place as the best Green Lantern that DC have had, in my opinion.  Written badly then it would be little more than a cop out and erase all the stories that came before it.

When you have someone like Geoff Johns at the helm, you just know that this is going to be an absolute belter of a story and it truly is.  Johns not only writes a story that heralds the return of Jordan but does so in a way that not only makes sense but brings together all the ends from the previous stories.  I truly believe that is one of Johns main strengths with his writing.  In fact, I'm yet to read a bad story that he has written and to be honest, he was and is one of the main reasons that I will still pick up one of the Big Two titles.

The story here is exciting, well paced and has some truly heart breaking moments amongst all the action.  That's what makes this return story to utterly gripping.  While the story is one of absolution and morality, it is still a story of one man trying to write his wrongs to feel human again.  This is going on slap bang in the middle of the rest of the stories and they all tie up brilliantly.  In fact, Johns has managed to write this emotionally gripping and exciting story so well that even if you haven't read the other installments that this one will still have the same impact.

Some of that impact is down to the absolutely gorgeous art by Ethan Van Sciver.  One of my main complaints of the art used in DC and Marvel comics is that it can sometimes look too clean and clinical yet here, Van Sciver keeps the clean look but isn't afraid to let the art become dirty and gritty in order to bring the action to life.  While the action sequences here are one of the main high points of the collection, Van Sciver really breathes life in to the quieter scenes.  His use of facial expressions and such really bring the characters and their personalities to the forefront in a big way and that helps to suck the reader in to their world and want to turn over page after page just to see what is going to happen next.

Green Lantern: Rebirth is one of those types of stories that a fan can come back to again and again, noticing new things each time.  In fact, this one is one of the best examples of that.  Johns and Van Sciver worked so well on this title that it actually reignited my love of the Green Lantern character to the point where I have been grabbing more and more of his stories recently.

Definitely one to pick up, especially considering you can get it for next to nothing online so there's really no reason to not add this absolute gem of a title to your collection.

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

Dark Detectives: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Stephen Jones
Kim Newman
Peter Tremayne
William Hope Hodgson
Basil Copper
Manly Wade Wellman
Brian Lumley
R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Brian Mooney
Clive Barker
Jay Russell
Neil Gaiman

Edited By
Stephen Jones

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Supernatural, Mystery, Crime, Thriller

Synopsis

Eighteen stories of supernatural detective fiction, featuring sleuths who investigate fantastic and horrific cases, protecting the world from the forces of darkness. 

Each writer offers a tale of a great fictional detective, including Neil Gaiman’s Lawrence Talbot, Clive Barker’s Harry D’Amour, and the eight-part “Seven Stars” adventure by Kim Newman (Anno Dracula).

Review

Titan Books has long had a great reputation for releasing some really interesting and varied anthologies in their time and rightfully so.  There have been some absolutely brilliant ones from their publishing house, especially their Sherlock Holmes collections, that have really shown the sheer depth of talent out there.

With this Dark Detectives collection that reputation will surely grow because what we have here is a well thought out, well paced and incredibly varied collection of stories that all have a supernatural and spooky twist.

When you look at the listing for the authors involved, you will notice some very big names as well as some names that you may not be all that familiar with.  You have some real heavy hitters like Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker and Kim Newman alongside some that you may not know that well and that's part of the beauty of the Titan Books anthologies. 

Story wise, there are some truly brilliant stories here.  Some of them really managed to get under my skin and I have to admit, The quality seemed pretty high for the entire collection, which is quite a hard feat for an anthology.  My personal favourite out of all the stories here has to be the story by Neil Gaiman called Bay Wolf.  The subtle and spooky feel of the story really made it stand out from the crowd for me and really cemented just why Gaiman is one of the best authors out there today.

Another thing I liked was that we have some recent detective stories rubbing shoulders against ones from a time that some people may call the classic era of detective stories yet they do so in such a fashion that the flow is beautifully done and not once does the collection feel disjointed or a mess.

Stephen Jones, who also has a story here, has done a sublime editing job and created a collection that deserves to have a place on any book lovers shelf, not just a detective novel lovers.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 9/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35/40

Friday, 20 March 2015

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Issue 44 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Kevin Eastman
Bobby Curnow
Tom Waltz

Art By
Cory Smith
Ronda Pattison

Lettering By
Shawn Lee

Cover By
Cory Smith
Ronda Pattison

Published By
IDW

Genre
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction

Synopsis

The Technodrome has just activated, set to destroy all life on Earth.  Shredder, who was transported to Burnow Island along with his forces by Donatello, is nearly killed by Krang and his army.

Meanwhile the other Turtles struggle to get past Baxter's flyborgs to stop Krang and the Technodrome.

Review

When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first burst on to the scence, their gritty and sometimes satricial stories really hooked in the readers and that lead to toys, movies and an animated television series.  With each new installment, they seemed to get more and more watered down.

That's when IDW took over and created a title that would really grab the readers that remember the original tales but would have a comic book series that would really do the original justice and they have succeeded in spades.

With this, the 44th issue, a lot of that comes to a head with some very sharp and emotional writing.  The story of the Technodrome has been an exciting one and there have been times where, despite being so used to the Turtles winning their battles, this one really has felt like they could fail on any given moment.  I loved that sense of urgency and even dread that ran through the issue.  The tension really hooked me in and you couldn't help but just will them on.

Issue 44 is the last in the Technodrome storyline it seems but I really feel like it's a tale that is going to be felt throughout the rest of the series for a long time.  There are twists, turns and revelations galore here but that's not it.  The writing leads up to a very tragic twist for one of the main characters and the emotional punch of it even gave me a lump in my throat.

The art here really gives the sense of urgency and dread a life and really makes the story fly off of the page.  It really comes in to it's own on the battle scenes where even though the action is frantic and busy, not once did it feel like there was too much on the page.  Instead, the detailing and the colour work really tie in together brilliantly and really draw your eyes to each and every panel.  That's when the shock hits and when it does, the art gives you the knock out punch.

If you are a Turtles fan then you WILL need to get this issue at any cost.  Hard hitting, emotional, exciting and even heart breaking, this is definitely not the Saturday morning cartoon that has become the norm for these characters.  This is a hard and gritty issue that is going to have some serious ramifications on the rest of the characters and I, for one, eagerly await issue 45 to see where they are going to take this story next.

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

The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Sharon Gosling

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Horror, Art, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

"Do you believe there is a demimonde?  A half-world between what we know and what we fear?  A place in the shadows, rarely seen, but deeply felt...Do you believe that?"

Some of classic horror literature's most iconic characters, including Doctor Victor Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and figures from Dracula, are stalking the darkest corners of Victorian London.
Created and written by John Logan, Penny Dreadful weaves their stories together with those of original characters Sir Malcolm Murray, Ethan Chandler and Vanessa Ives as they confront their personal demons and real monsters in search of Mina Murray.

Penny Dreadful stars Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton and Eva Green.  The series also stars Reeve Carney, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper, Danny Sapani and Harry Treadaway.

This lavishly illustrated companion goes behind the scenes to unearth the show's secrets and dissect every aspect of the production.  Exclusive interview material with the show's creator, executive producer Sam Mendes and supervising producer Chris King, as well as key crew and the main cast, accompany previously unseen images, from storyboards to stills and blueprints to sets, in this in-depth look at the making of the series.

Review

Penny Dreadful is a show that has become very popular since the first season was aired on screen to a lot of critical acclaim.  With horrific stories that manage to stay grounded and feel realistic, it's easy to see why it's found such a rabid fanbase.

I was very interested to see just how a tie-in book would manage to capture the feeling of the series yet this book is one that is absolutely gripping.  Not only does it keep the things that make the series such a popular show to watch but also goes through the entire process of it's inception right up to now.

One of the things that I liked the most about this making of book is quite simply the sheer amount of information here.  Not only that but each person interviewed about the show is completely honest about how hard it has been to make and that honesty really stands well next to the more technical parts of the book.

Talking of the technical parts, no stone is left unturned here.  Each and every little detail from the sets right down to the little details on the costumes is explored in great depth here but not once does the book feel like it's over loading the reader.  A lot of that is down to the well paced writing by Sharon Gosling.  You really can tell that she has not only a passion but a  respect for the show and the people involved but she's not afraid to write about the things that the show has struggled with either.  This isn't just a book telling you how brilliant the creators are, far from it.  It really goes out of it's way to show just how hard it is to bring a weekly television show to life but also shows how the talented team use each others skills to form the show itself.

I really loved the introduction written by the shows creator John Logan as well.  I loved the way he told the story of his life and how it interweaved with that of the characters in the show.  It was a nice, personal touch that really showed me just how proud he is of the show.

If you are a fan of the show then this is an absolutely essential purchase.  If you're not a fan of the show, this is still a book that is well worth picking up for the sheer amount of detail that is here on the creation of a show and the stories behind how the whole project came together.

Presentation 9/10
Informative 10/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 28/30

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Josh Appelbaum
Andre Nemec
Evan Daugherty

Based on Characters Created By
Peter Laird
Kevin Eastman

Directed By
Jonathan Liebesman

A Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Pictures, Platinum Dunes, Gama Entertainment Partners, Mednick Productions, Heavy Metal Film

Genre
Action, Comedy

Cast

Megan Fox as April O'Neal
Will Arnett as Veron Fenwick
William Fichtner as Eric Sacks
Alan Ritchson as Raphael
Noel Fisher as Michelangelo
Pete Ploszek as Leonardo
Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo (Voice)
Jeremy Howard as Donatello
Danny Woodburn as Splinter
Tony Shalhoub as Splinter (Voice)
Tohoru Masamune as Shredder
Whoopi Goldberg as Bernadette Thompson
K. Todd Freeman as Dr. Baxter Stockman

Year Released
2014

Certificate
12

Synopsis

When a kingpin threatens New York City, a news reporter find a quad of mutants which makes an alliance to unravel Shredder's plan as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Review

With so many awful reviews about this movie, I have to admit that I went in to this movie with some very low expectations.  Don't get me wrong, the story of a group of crime fighting turtles wasn't going to win any awards but I went in to thinking that as long as I was entertained at least then it was worth seeing.

As a fan of the original comic books created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, I sat down to watch this one.  Even with some low expectations I have to admit that this movie wasn't really one that I would be in a rush to see again.

I'm not one of those sorts of fans that bemoans changes made to long running characters.  Far fromt it.  So when I saw just how many changes were not only made to the turtles but to the other characters as well, I wasn't in the slightest bit surprised.  Some of the changes worked and others just seemed really off.

The problem for me wasn't the characters themselves, it was the story.  Not only did it fall flat, there were large parts that just seemed there in order to pad out the running time.  Some of the twists and turns were so glaringly obvious that I literally moaned when they appeared on the screen.  It was the same with some of the dialogue.  There were quite a few scenes where they were trying to walk the line between being a dark, gritty take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and trying to inject some humour in to the story but they seemed to clash really badly.  Also for a movie that is meant to be about the crime fighting team of turtles, it seemed more concerned with the character of April O'Neal, played in typical wooden fashion by Megan Fox.  I wanted to see the turtles together more, see how they worked as a team, but instead we got O'Neal, who is supposed to be a highly intelligent reporter, making some really random and dumb decisions and some bad attempts at jokes by Will Arnett.

That said, it wasn't all a bust.  The thing that I did like the most about the movie were the little in jokes about all the other versions that there have been of the long running crime fighters.  There were nods to the classic comics, the animated cartoon from the 90's and more.  They even managed to slide in the "Tonight I dine on turtle soup" line as well, which got a chuckle from me.  I also liked the little jokes here and there that were thrown at the team by the various turtles, the best being the quip about Raphael trying to sound like Batman.

All in all, this is one of those movies that is a bit of a guilty pleasure.  In fact, I would say that it's one of those unintentionally funny movies that make you laugh with just how bad some of the scenes are and there is plenty of scenes that fit that bill here.

Movie 5/10


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David Benioff
Skip Woods

Directed By
Gavin Hood

A Twentieth Century Fox, Marvel Enterprises, Dune Entertainment, Donners Company, Seed Productions, Ingenious Film Partners, Big Screen Productions Film

Genre
Superhero, Action

Cast

Hugh Jackman as Logan, Wolverine
Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed, Sabretooth
Danny Huston as Stryker
Will.i.am as John Wraith
Lynn Collins as Kayla Silverfox
Dominix Monaghan as Chris Bradley, Bolt
Taylor Kitsch as Remy LeBeau, Gambit
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, Deadpool
Tom Pocock as Scott Summers

Year Released
2009

Certificate
12

Synopsis

Two mutant brothers, Logan and Victor, born 200 years ago, suffer childhood trauma and have only each other to depend on. Basically, they're fighters and killers, living from war to war through U.S. history. In modern times, a U.S. colonel, Stryker, recruits them and other mutants as commandos. 

Logan quits and becomes a logger, falling in love with a local teacher. When Logan refuses to rejoin Stryker's crew, the colonel sends the murderous Victor. Logan now wants revenge. 

Review

A movie taking a look at the early years of Wolverine and including the characters of Deadpool and Gambit?  I had to admit that there was no possible way of this being disappointing.  Well, when I saw this the first time, quite a while ago now I must admit, I was very disappointed.  That's why it stood on my shelf for quite some time before I had another watch.

Well, after revisiting this movie, one thing really struck me.  After the first two X-Men movies were so good that the character of Wolverine was written in to being the wise cracking, sarcastic and being a complete ass kicker, I was expecting more of the same.  Yet here, they seem to have completely forgotten all the hard work set by those movies.  Instead we get a Wolverine that just doesn't seem to care.  In fact, it just seems that he is full of apathy save for a few flashes of the character that we know and love.

Another thing that bugged me was the simple fact that the movie seemed utterly disjointed and a mess of a movie.  There are moments of violence right next to cliched romance but then you have some random moments of slapstick comedy that seemed to have been taken from a completely different movie and just stuffed in to this one to fill out the running time a bit.

Cast wise, there are some fantastic names involved here and they do truly do their best with the, sometimes dire, writing here.  With Ryan Reynolds slated to bring the character of Deadpool to life on the big screen soon, his version of the character would be ultimately forgettable if not for being a massive waste of an opportunity.  It's the same with Gambit.  His brief foray in the movie was good but should have been so much more after such a long wait for the fans.

That said, I have to admit that I raised my eyebrows with the casting of Liev Schreiber as the man that would become Sabretooth but he is by far the best part of the movie.  He really gives the character multiple layers and creates an interesting foil for the character of Logan, Wolverine

I have to admit, I'm not all that sure what they were going for with this movie.  I've read some reviews that were absolutely brutal with their opinions of this movie but I tend to disagree with them for the most part.  The movie isn't that bad.  It's nowhere near the levels of awfulness that Elektra and Catwoman hit.  Far from it.  The thing that makes this movie so bad is the massive waste of talent and expectation that came with this movie.  It's one of disappointment in what should have been a fun, exciting and well thought out look in to the early years of one of the comic book worlds most popular characters.

Movie 5/10


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Clash of Eagles Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Alan Smale

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Historical, Alternate History, Adventure

Synopsis

It’s The Last of the Mohicans meets HBO’s Rome in this exciting and inventive debut novel from Sidewise Award-winner Alan Smale that will thrill fans of alternate history, historical fiction, and military fiction.

In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, a legion under the command of general Gaius Marcellinus invades the newly-discovered North American continent. But Marcellinus and his troops have woefully underestimated the fighting prowess of the Native American inhabitants. When Gaius is caught behind enemy lines and spared, he must reevaluate his allegiances and find a new place in this strange land.

Review

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for books that try to head off down the alternate history road because there is an almost infinite amount of stories that can be told.

Here Smale takes a stab at how different the world would have been had the Romans been truly unstoppable and started to conquer a lot more countries that they ended up doing in real life.  The great thing about this story is that you really can tell that Smale has done his research because the descriptions of the armies, battles and even their daily life comes across as completely authentic.

Another plus for the novel is the simple fact that Smale makes this story seem like it truly could have happened and that really brings you deep in to the world that he has created and moulded so that the action jumps off of the page.  A lot of that comes from the pacing and the flow where you can't just pick up the book, read a couple of pages and then put it down.  Instead you find yourself having lost a large chunk of time because you have gotten so involved in the story of the characters here.

Talking of characters, the one thing that did bother me a little bit is that there were a few scenes here and there where some of the characters pretty much merged together and that's a real shame because for most of the book, the characters do feel alive.  The character of Gaius suffered from this a little bit, especially in the romance story in this one.  While it's clear that he's enthralled by one of the Cahokia women, it just seemed to come out of nowhere and be for very little reasoning other than she was a strong woman.  There didn't really seem to be much in the way of emotion there and that's a real shame.

All in all, this is a well thought out and well paced look at just what the Roman army really could have won for themselves and how the conquered countries would have reacted.  I found it interesting and Smale's flair for details really made this one pop off the page.  It's just a little disappointing that there were a couple of disjointed moments there for the characters.

Story 7.5/10
Characters 7.5/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 31/40