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R. Wood "ryecroftwood2"
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Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
by Dan Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.28

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as pioneering as The Da Vinci Code...but still another excellent dose of Brown!, 26 Jun. 2013
Really, Dan Brown's name & legacy were cemented forever in 2003 when the world-wide bestseller The Da Vinci Code hit bookshop-shelves. Boasting a terrifically engaging plot, beautifully poetic writing, deliciously-deep characters and intricate narrative & pacing, Dan Brown's novel took the world by storm. It's truly one of my favourite all-time books, and I was hooked from start-to-finish.

Now, ten years later (in 2013), Mister Brown's latest (much-hyped) novel has arrived. Inferno is Dan's sixth novel, and the FOURTH to feature his trademark protagonist, Professor Robert Langdon.

An academic like Robert always seems to find himself in a great spot of difficulty in Dan's stories. Inferno is no different. This time round, he awakes in a hospital bed in Florence, Italy, with no idea how he got there, or why he's carrying a deadly biological agent that's been sewn into the lining of his jacket.

Before anyone can answer his questions, though...the poor Professor is forced to flee from an assassination attempt. With Doctor Sienna Brooks inadvertently thrust into his situation, Langdon is now being hunted from local authorities, his own government & a mysterious organization. The mystery grows darker and deeper as Robert & Sienna flee across Florence, relying only on Dante's masterpiece Inferno, to guide them.

Like The Da Vinci Code, this is quite an advanced & intelligent thrill-ride. There's genuine moments of excitement, action & tension throughout, all-the-while laced with intrigue, suspense and a really engaging plot.

Most of the things I really dug about The Da Vinci Code can be found here. Enlightening facts, strong use of a historical, iconic figure (in this case, Dante), truly memorable & purposeful characters, great dialogue and some really nice development for all the players. As ever, Robert Langdon is a strong protagonist, who interacts well with the host of new characters he meets this time.

Admittedly, though, Inferno isn't QUITE the revolutionary masterpiece that The Da Vinci Code is, and there are times when it does drag too long before changing into a higher gear. But when it does, the pace and plot take off in a genuinely jaw-dropping fashion, with incredible high-stakes and consequences for all. All sub-plots come together, & all the mysteries/loose ends are resolved satisfactorily. The ending itself is a genuinely provocative, intelligent and logical conclusion, which will provide a great shock for all readers.

Alas, Dan Brown's writing style is well-known for alienating many readers. If you're one of those people who don't like his full descriptions of settings & characters, or his flair for poetic verse, then there's nothing here that will encourage critics to change their minds. And if you're a newcomer who's never been exposed to any Dan Brown before, The Da Vinci Code is a more suitable book to start with than Inferno.

As ever, the issue on some of the supposed-facts, scientific research, protocols etc, presented here is up for debate. Whether the `truths' used here for plot-sake are genuine or not...that's up to you. Some experts are bound to pick holes in Brown's research as much as they did with The Da Vinci Code.

Nevertheless, Inferno is a cracking good read. While not quite on a par with The Da Vinci Code, this is still one of the best books of the year, and will doubtless satisfy the legion of Dan Brown fans out there. A terrific experience indeed.


Random Access Memories
Random Access Memories
Price: £5.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If ONLY there was more to this album than TWO excellent songs!, 26 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Random Access Memories (Audio CD)
Initially, I thought Daft Punk were a group who had just come out of the blue. Learning of their history & career has been a fascinating experience, and that - along with their SUPERB gimmick & flair for music - made purchase of Random Access Memories an experience I just had to indulge in.

Since forming in 1993, the duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo & Thomas Bangalter have had many a hit album, such as Homework (1997) and Discovery (2001), but Random Access Memories (their most commercially & critically successful album to-date) has finally garnered them international recognition as a household name.

But does this chart-hit live up to the hype? For me, no. And it's a real shame that it doesn't.

Daft Punk's talent is blatant, and they prove their capabilities with a variety of instruments, and their synthesising techniques. At their best, Daft Punk can produce some beautifully harmonious stuff (especially when collaborating with other artists) that will appeal to general audiences. Unfortunately, their work here is too inconsistent. Of the thirteen tracks on his album, there are only TWO that are truly great, with the rest ranging from okay-to-dire.

Songs like `Give Life Back To Music' and `Get Lucky' are simply fantastic, and are proof of what Daft Punk can achieve at their best. The synchronisation, the harmony, the lyrics, the use of vocoders and actual voices is all seamless in both these songs, and will generate genuine happiness & pleasure for listeners.

Annoyingly, though the rest of Random Access Memories is so disjointed, with results being mixed. Again, in `Give Life Back to Music' & `Get Lucky', the results are perfect, but songs like `Within', `Instant Crush' & `Touch' are just let down completely by the synthesised vocals and rapidly changing compositions which just throw you completely. There are too many times when pieces just felt flat, repetitive or bipolar. And as such I ended up being more confused, underwhelmed or tired than elated.

All this is disappointing, as I can't get over just how great some of the songs are on this album. It shows that Daft Punk can be the stuff of legend if they focused more on consistency. I just wish that Random Access Memories was excellent from start-to-finish. And I don't think it's worth paying full-price for an album with only two essential songs on it.

I really wish I could rate Daft Punk higher. And I sorely wish Random Access Memories had lived up to the hype. In my opinion, download `Give Life Back to Music' & `Get Lucky' individually, and forget the rest of the songs. Otherwise, you maybe really disappointed.


Vigilante
Vigilante
by Kerry Wilkinson
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really...there's no reason to NOT buy this!, 31 May 2013
This review is from: Vigilante (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At first glance, Vigilante sounded like a title that was right up my alley. A thrilling detective novel, set in Manchester, about a strong female protagonist who's tasked with apprehending a mysterious serial killer who's offing notorious criminals. But the waters are severely muddied by forensic evidence which implicates a man who's already locked away in prison.

What helps this story is the fact that Kerry Wilkinson produces a novel that's legitimately gripping, intelligent, realism, full of research, humanity & character. It's easily one of the best books in recent memory I've been subjected to, and easily recommended to all mature readers.

This is Kerry Wilkinson's SECOND book in his detective series, focusing on one Jessica Daniel (Detective Sergeant). It's another day in the life of a busy, honest & determined police officer, so those who haven't read Wilkinson's first outing (Locked In) needn't worry. Wilkinson recaps the events of his first No.1 bestseller throughout, doing so in a way that doesn't hamper current events. In other words, Vigilante is perfectly accessible to new readers, who will find this second volume a fantastic introduction into the character of Jessica Daniel (as was the case with me).

Jessica herself is a remarkably deep & colourful character. She's as human as they come. She's tragic, she's determined, she's resolute, she can be rude, manipulative, compassionate, fun, stubborn, strong, brilliant, vulnerable, immoral, remorseful, brave etc. She has plenty of identity and layers, and is surrounded by an equally deep and memorable supporting cast. There are no real duffs in this great piece of literature. And Wilkinson provides some rich interaction, develop the characters so skilfully, and in a way that's true to human-life.

The plot itself is masterfully done. There are all manner of shocks, twists & turns and red-herrings that will constantly have you fooled and keep you guessing. The identity of the "Vigilante" is so well-guarded that its ultimate revelation comes across as a genuine shock. Kerry juggles so many sub-plots with such coherency and a clear narrative, that it makes the pacing of the book nothing less than a thing of excellence. It's virtually faultless!

In this audiobook format, Vigilante is spread over eight discs and runs for over nine-hours. Becky Hindley provides the narration and does Kerry's writing absolute justice. Her soft-spoken tone serves her and the story well throughout, and really comes into play throughout moments of tension, drama, danger, lightheartedness or simple conversation. Becky offers a really versatile performance hear which just simply works.

I can't really find anything wrong with Vigilante. It's just a brilliant, engaging story that Kerry Wilkinson has crafted expertly. And it's certainly got me wanting to read other volumes in his Jessica Daniel series. Simply an ace piece of work, especially as an audiobook. Buy today!


Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 1 (Star Trek/Doctor Who)
Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 1 (Star Trek/Doctor Who)
by Sharp Bros.
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whovians & Trekkies rejoice!, 15 May 2013
Crossovers between two world-famous properties are nothing new. We've seen them happen many times over the years, where the most-impossible, dream-meetings that fans have wanted to see...have actually happened.

For instance, Disney & Final Fantasy crossed over to produce Kingdom Hearts, Marvel has actually clashed with the likes of DC and Capcom, Spider-Man has teamed up with Batman & Superman, Star Trek has crossed over with X-Men; among many more incredible tales. There's been tremendous success with franchises crossing-over, and last-year the latest `dream-pairing' finally happened.

Doctor Who and Star Trek. Two of the most popular science-fiction franchises to have ever emerged. There's been so much fan-art, fan-fiction & ace videos on YouTube envisioning of what such a meeting between the Time Lord and the USS Enterprise would entail.

And now, it's official. Star Trek: The Next Generation actually meets Doctor Who in Assimilation2, an eight-part story boasting beautiful artwork and fine writing, both of which pays equal respect to both franchises, and brings them together in a plausible, epic & logical setting.

It's the usual daily dose of adventuring for both crews of the USS Enterprise & the TARDIS. Then the Doctor, Amy & Rory bump into Commander Riker, Data and Doctor Crusher in 1941 San Francisco. Actually, the TARDIS and her crew materialises right in the middle of a simulation on board the Enterprise's holodeck! As the Doctor & his companions acquaint themselves with Captain Jean-Luc Picard & his crew, they soon find themselves ambushed by the ultimate nightmarish alliance of the Borg & the Cybermen.

While Assimilation2 may sound basic so far, it certainly doesn't feel cheap or lazy. It comes across as a genuine meeting between the two franchises, one that benefits from an abundance of rich character-interaction, the best being the Doctor's brilliant exchanges with Captain Picard, Data, Worf, Guinan, Riker & Beverly; all of which range from deep respect & admiration, to hilarious! (Check out the Eleventh Doctor's interactions with Worf & Data, and you'll see what I mean!)

Out of the whole-cast, it's the moments between Captain Picard & the Doctor that receive the most focus, not only due to them being the main protagonists of their respective universes, but also because there's real chemistry between the pair. The dialogue is excellent, and their feelings of the other come across flawlessly. Jean-Luc in particular with his natural suspicions of the Time Lord (& his erratic behaviour), yet also accepting the mutual respect and comradeship that soon develops between them upon meeting.

All the other characters - Will Riker, Data, Lt. Worf, Dr. Beverly Crusher, Deanna Troi, Geordi La Forge, Amy Pond, Rory Williams - are given sufficient focus to shine and once again show what colourful characters they are. Truthfully, I'd like to have seen more interaction between the Ponds & the Enterprise's crew (it only really picks up in the last few pages), but hopefully they'll be more of that in the next volume.

This creative team have produced a nice piece of work, all-in-all. Scott & David Tipton (along with Tony Lee) have written this crossover most plausibly, acknowledging both universes as separate parallels, and infusing enough intrigue to reel the reader in. For example, how the Doctor can know who the Klingons are when he's never even heard of them before and how the Cybermen can be logged in the Enterprise's databanks, which leads into an absolutely fantastic flashback between the Fourth Doctor and the original Enterprise crew (Captain Kirk, Mister Spock & Scotty!) It's all so skilfully woven, and pays equal respect to both franchises & their fan-bases.

Of course, this is only the first volume (volume 2 collects the remaining four issues), so you'll have to wait to discover the answers to certain questions - like how the Doctor can cross over to the Star Trek universe when all parallel worlds were sealed off from him, and just how the Borg & the Cybermen came into contact. But all the fine pacing, rich-character, action, excitement & a surprise twist at the end will CERTAINLY make you want to catch the next part.

The greatest-asset of the book is truly the beautiful, gorgeous artwork by J.K. Woodward. His painted illustrations are stunning, vivid and capture the atmosphere of both TV shows. It's like you're watching an actual televised crossover, with so many likenesses captured perfectly. Expressions, gestures, mannerisms, the humanity of Star Trek & Doctor Who shines through on every page, most notably through the likenesses of Patrick Stewart & Matt Smith, and the excellent imagery of the Borg standing side-by-side with the Cybermen (watch out for the Cyber Controller infused with Borg technology!). It's breathtaking and it's contrasted nicely by the Sharp Bros. artwork for the Tom Baker/William Shatner portion of the crossover (which is bright and colourful).

But is Assimilation2 absolutely essential? Not really, there are more `perfect' crossovers out there, but this is still a very recommended read. If you're a fan of both Doctor Who & Star Trek, than this is for you. Even if you're a fan of only ONE of the franchises (I must confess I'm much more of a Whovian than a Trekkie), you'll still be very satisfied with Assimilation2, and you won't be sorry you bought it. Roll on Part 2!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2013 9:47 AM BST


WWE - Vengeance 2011 [DVD]
WWE - Vengeance 2011 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cena
Offered by MegamoviestoreNL
Price: £4.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vengeance is GOOD. I LIKE a good bit of Vengeance., 6 April 2013
This review is from: WWE - Vengeance 2011 [DVD] (DVD)
Since Vengeance's 2007 transition into Night of Champions, the Vengeance name was retired for years, and now brought back to life for the October 2011 pay-per-view. Seems like a smart idea, what with the likes of Cena, HHH, CM Punk & Big Show having scores to settle with Del Rio, Miz, R-Truth & Mark Henry respectively.

It's good to have the `Vengeance' name brought back (if only for one night), and while quite a few good things were still left floundering after a terrific summer (namely CM Punk and Christian), Vengeance 2011 is a very good show overall. Certainly outclassing Night of Champions.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Air Boom (Champions) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger (w/Vickie Guerrero)
The winning combination of Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston shines through again, as the Tag Team champs defend against the talented duo of Ziggler & Swagger in a nice opener. Not as fast-paced or as innovative as I'd like but still an entertaining contest with the right team prevailing. Good way to start things off. (8/10)

WWE United States Championship Match
Dolph Ziggler (Champion w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Zack Ryder
Immediately after the previous contest, the United States Champ must defend his title against the - FRANKLY AWESOME - Zack Ryder. With his award-winning new gimmick and internet following, Ryder has proven himself most worthy of this opportunity. And Ziggler again shows his stamina and ability to work another good match immediately after the opener. Truth be told, it doesn't click as well as their match would at TLC, but still a solid bout. (7/10)

WWE Divas' Championship
Beth Phoenix (Champion) vs. Eve Torres
After the very good Kelly/Phoenix series of Divas' matches ended, it was now Eve's turn to fight the Glamazon. And you know what? It's the BEST women's match in WWE I've seen in a long, long time. Beth's skills go without question, but the real star in this match is Eve, who shows to the world what an excellent (and vastly underrated) competitor she is. This surpasses the Kelly/Beth matches of the summer on the grounds that it's crisp, fluid, given the right amount of time (at seven minutes!) and features some fantastic moments. Don't let the lacklustre crowd fool you! This is a tremendous women's bout indeed, and definitely Eve's greatest ever! (7/10)

Sheamus vs. Christian
This feels like a throwaway bout. Just something for Sheamus and Christian to do until creative could think of something else for them. Despite no real heat and very little build-up, the two pull off a decent bout with apparent chemistry. Not must-see viewing, but still enjoyable nonetheless. (6/10)

Triple H & CM Punk vs. The Miz & R-Truth
So...after all the controversies of Money in the Bank, SummerSlam, Night of Champions & Hell in a Cell...we now had the Game and the Straight-Edge Saviour going against Miz & R-Truth. The build-up to this was so bizarre, and I think WWE really got lost in the otherwise great storyline they were building up. In any event, the Punk/HHH alliance is plausible against the terrific Miz/Truth heel pairing. Good tag-team bout that's not as intense as the build-up promised. Points are deducted for the finish, and Kevin Nash's (now) tiresome involvement. Oh, well, at least things would look up for CM Punk afterwards. (7/10)

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes
The old Legacy teammates at last clash in one-on-one action. And the action is really nice, with excellent chemistry and storytelling from both. The Intercontinental Champion matches VERY well against the Viper, and while the final result could've benefited from more crowd-involvement and better build-up, this is certainly a quality outing. Much better than Sheamus vs. Christian. (7/10)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Mark Henry (Champion) vs. The Big Show
You know, once upon a time I would've expected this match-up to have been an absolute disaster. But now, after Henry has shut his critics up and the feud having been so well-booked, this turns out to be a great, smash-mouth, title affair. The physicality between these two goliaths really is something to behold, and while it may drag in places, both the World's Strongest Man & his challenger perform much better than most men their size. The outcome works for me, and the finish (although copied from the infamous Show/Lesnar bout on SmackDown 2003) is still spectacular and unforgettable. (8/10)

Last Man Standing WWE Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio (Champion w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. John Cena
This is certainly one of the most creative and inventive Last Man Standing matches I've seen. With the ring looking a little `worse-for-wear' (to say the LEAST!), Del Rio & Cena adapt TREMENDOUSLY, actually using the new environment to produce something that's refreshing and original. Cena's versatility shines through again, but this match is really Del Rio's crowning moment, cementing his rightful position as WWE Champion. There's excellent wrestling, spots that are both terrific and sick, and great arena-wide brawling, making this a real war of attrition between the pair. Mixed feelings about the interference at the end, but the outcome is certainly convincing and makes up for Night of Champions. Del Rio's best match, and match of the night for me. (9/10)

The Home-Video Exclusive Interview is with Alberto Del Rio. Nothing special, really. Just stuck on as an afterthought.

Whilst more consistent than say Night of Champions, WWE Vengeance 2011 is still pretty much decent throughout the card. It's only really in the last two matches where things truly pick-up to an unforgettable level. On the whole, pretty good, with the main-events, the Tag Title & Divas' matches being most exceptional.


Spider-Man: Dying Wish (Amazing Spider-Man (Hardcover))
Spider-Man: Dying Wish (Amazing Spider-Man (Hardcover))
by Dan Slott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THAT'S IT! Enough is enough. I'm reading Spider-Man...NO MORE., 4 April 2013
N.B. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

***

I really do question the mentality behind comics these days. Or rather, the creative direction editors insist upon that popular characters/titles `MUST' take for God-knows-what reason. Regardless of how many fans they ire.

I'm aware that this is my opinion, but I'm sure it's shared by many. I HATE what's happened to Spider-Man. I loathe and detest what Marvel have done to their flagship character in the past, with many APALLING stories produced which has tarnished the character, its continuity, the beautiful works of writers past and disrespected the loyalty of long-time fans and all that was established by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and many other legendary writers & artists.

The `Parents' saga, the Clone Saga, Gathering of Five, the Reboot stories by Howard Mackie and the ABOMINATION that was `One More Day'...all that stuff sickened and disgusted me, not just because I disagreed with the creative process behind those infamous tales, but also because they were implausible, uncharacteristic, badly executed, wholly redundant and absolutely DISGRACEFUL to the Spider-Man character & his world. Tarnishing the legacy of the Spidey-mythos into something that was nothing more than a disservice.

And yet, despite all of that, because of my love for Spider-Man as well as Marvel's attempts to rectify their mistakes, I kept coming back to read the comics. Even after not touching Spidey for years after `One More Day', I came back to read Dan Slott's `Spider-Island' and thoroughly enjoyed it, feeling hopeful once again for Spidey's future.

But now, I'm officially fed up. Spider-Man: Dying Wish is the LAST STRAW for me. For this review, there are HUGE SPOILERS REVEALED!!! So if you don't want to know what happens...STOP READING NOW!!! And know that I don't recommend Dying Wish AT ALL! TO ANYONE!

***

N.B. SPOILERS BEGIN!!!

Set sometime after the `Ends of the Earth' saga, old arch-nemesis Doctor Octopus is now at Death's Door. Terminally ill from all the batterings/injuries sustained throughout his long, villainous career, Otto Octavius asks to see Spider-Man one last time at his deathbed. Hoping to make peace with arguably his greatest foe, Peter agrees to meet him.

It's a trap. And Otto uses his latest invention to actually swap minds with Peter.

Doc Ock is now in Spider-Man's body. Spidey is now in the rapidly-failing body of Doctor Octopus.

Now, this particular premise...I don't have a problem with. It's SO gripping, powerful and raises the stakes to an unheard-of level! Mind-swaps between heroes & villains in comics/cartoons have been done to death countless times (some with great success, others failing miserably), and while the cliché is NOT a favourite of mine, writer Dan Slott deserves praise for putting such an original spin on it. It's a terrific way of hyping up the milestone Amazing Spider-Man #700 and what's `supposedly' the FINAL battle between Spidey & Doc Ock.

When I heard that Amazing Spider-Man was going to be cancelled - after all-these-years! - in favour of the new `Superior Spider-Man' title, I didn't know what to expect. Then various fan-theories popped up, and I feared for the worse. Especially when Dan Slott promised something `controversial', `upsetting' & that `he'd have to go into hiding afterwards'.

Long story short...Peter DIES whilst trapped in Otto's body. Otto's mind - now inhabiting the body of his greatest enemy, decides to redeem himself for all his sins by becoming the NEW SPIDER-MAN.

SERIOUSLY??!!

This isn't just a stupid idea on Dan Slott's part. It's flat-out, unadulterated idiocy. The mere idea of ACCEPTING a psychotic murderer/terrorist (who was created with the SOLE intent of being a classic Spidey nemesis) as Peter Parker's successor is as gross, implausible and artificial as `Sins Past', `One More Day' or Spidey actually forgiving Norman Osborn for throwing Gwen Stacy off a bridge! I simply don't buy it! And I know a LOT of angry fans worldwide don't buy it either!

After Dan Slott's SUPERB Spider-Island, I cannot fathom how and why he produced something as ridiculous as this! His writing has gone from genuinely intelligent, intricate and exciting to monotonous & laughable. The idea of Peter Parker actually dying or being replaced isn't what irks me. After all, it's been done before in `The Other' (where Peter died & was reborn with some fascinating new tricks) & the Clone Saga (where clone Ben Reilly actually succeeded Peter for a time with a new costume), but the reason why I could BUY stuff like that was because of Peter either taking a backseat/coming back with a twist/renewed purpose, or someone like Ben (or even Kaine as Scarlet Spider) showcasing a fascinating new representation of a Parker/Spider-Man. Doc Ock as Spidey is simply flushing Peter down the toilet like his life and career means nothing!

Another thing about Dying Wish that's so infuriating is that Slott writes some stuff here that's GENUINELY deep, poignant & heartfelt. Peter's soul meeting his parents, Uncle Ben & Gwen Stacy is a really pleasing and genuine highlight, as are the interactions with Peter/Otto and Mary Jane. It pays homage to the choicest moments of Amazing Spider-Man (kudos to Humberto Ramos' illustrations!), but it SHOULD'VE all been used to resolve the Spidey/Ock feud like the Spidey/Kraven rivalry in `Soul of the Hunter'. Instead it's all used merely as a cheap-means to get people to accept Otto as Spider-Man and shaft 700 issues (over 50 years worth!) of Amazing Spider-Man like it's completely irrelevant! Sorry, but NO! Just NO!!!

Knowing comics, Otto probably won't be Spider-Man forever, and the one-true Peter Parker will probably back in several months' (or one/two years') time. But after having suffered SUCH TRIPE over-the-years, Marvel's finally blown it for me. Dying Wish doesn't end Amazing Spider-Man with a bang or even a whimper. It's just worthless to me, and I'm past caring what happens to Spider-Man now.

Others can judge this - and my opinions as they wish. But for me, it's truly `Spider-Man...NO MORE'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2014 1:12 AM GMT


WWE - CM Punk: Best In The World [DVD]
WWE - CM Punk: Best In The World [DVD]
Dvd ~ CM Punk

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CM Punk's DVD? Obviously BEST IN THE WORLD!, 31 Mar. 2013
Over the years of purchasing wrestling DVDs, the best ones have come from WWE Home Video. It's simply the truth, what with WWE's unmatched approaches in producing home-exclusive documentaries that cover wrestling's most fascinating subjects with tremendous depth and detail.

The Rise & Fall of ECW, The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection, the life-stories of Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho & Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels: From The Vault, The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior....SO many essential DVDS that WWE Home Video (& Silver Vision) have released over the years. And the next of these in line? CM Punk: Best in the World.

When he debuted on the ECW brand back in 2006, I had never heard of CM Punk. I knew nothing of his success on the independent scene or the name he made for himself in Ring of Honor. I just saw a man who was coming-in to ECW with a ton of hype & charisma, and I knew that I was meant to cheer him.

Since he first set foot in WWE, I have been SUCH a fan of Punk. Most of his time, his moniker of `Best in the World' has been justified by his phenomenal wrestling ability, his fascinating, versatile straight-edge character/lifestyle and his elite mic work. From his time in ECW, to his Money in the Bank successes, World Heavyweight Championship glories, white-hot feuds with Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and (of course) John Cena to the infamous 2011 shoot promo that catapulted him to the WWE title and cemented his main-event status forever, there has NEVER been a dull moment in CM Punk's career. So now...the three-disc set that the man so richly deserves is yours to own. IMMEDIATELY.

Best in the World is easily in the top three DVDs that WWE Home Video has EVER put together. The reason why is due to Punk himself.

Naturally, like most WWE biography DVD-sets that document the lives of wrestling's biggest legends/superstars, this particular home video ticks all the usual boxes. It has a fascinating, intelligent subject, whose life-story is full of engaging family matters, tremendous struggles, terrible hardships, terrific beginnings, inspiring accomplishments and a wonderful look into the human being as well as the wrestler, supported by anecdotes/opinions from various stars/legends.

However, where Best in the World has a huge edge over so many of previous WWE life-stories is its content and presentation. This is very honest, upfront and genuine, more so than some other superstar/legend releases. It feels that way more than most other wrestling DVDs (just like Rise & Fall of ECW or The Bret Hart Story), and Punk doesn't shy away from anything. No one here does, which says a lot about the quality of the documentary.

As we know, Punk himself is a complex individual. He's very opinionated with a very high opinion of himself. His remarkable intellect, the code he lives by, his confidence, his attitude, his morals/beliefs, loyalty to his family/friends; it all comes across perfectly in his voice. Again, he makes for a fascinating interview subject, and the wonderful range of guests-on-hand to corroborate him and his life cement this feature as an essential piece from start-to-finish. There's not a single disappointing thing about the documentary AT ALL!

What's unusual about Best in the World - and all-the-more excellent BECAUSE of it - is that WWE have actually broken the norm, and reached out to Ring of Honor to provide footage to cover Punk's time in the promotion. From a fan-standpoint, it HAD to be included given how Punk made his name there, but it's amazing that WWE actually listened and how well they cover Punk's ROH run! Kudos to Vince and WWE for allowing Punk this level of creative control, as the whole DVD becomes such a mandatory package because of it.

Due to how much say Punk had for his own DVD, there are even more wicked surprises on offer, namely Lars Frederiksen (of Rancid!) & Colt Cabana (from Ring of Honor!) to offer their views. Truly, there's a fantastic array of guest-speakers to discuss Punk, such as Lita, Chris Hero, Ace Steel, Paul Heyman, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, John Cena, Michael Hayes and Triple H, along with more of Punk's family and friends. The way the documentary alternates between discussion of the man's life/career and events outside the ring - such as meeting with Stan Lee HIMSELF! - is so intricate and refreshing. Not only is Best in the World inspiring, but there's several cool, trivial moments that viewers will simply love indulging in.

For special features, this 3-Disc DVD delivers every bit as much as the documentary itself. There's an overwhelming amount of deleted scenes, shedding more light on CM Punk, his family, his friends, career and life that enhance the experience even more. As for matches, some maybe disappointed that there are no Ring of Honor bouts collected (they can be found on ROH DVDs themselves). However, the BEST of Punk's WWE career have really been chosen wisely.

There's an excellent Heavyweight Title bout from OVW with Brent Albright, his great ECW debut against Justin Credible, a stiff IC title wrestling match with William Regal, and a fantastic Tag Title team-up with Kofi Kingston. More importantly, there's the fast, furious & superbly innovative ECW Championship bout with John Morrison (from 2007), his 2008 Money in the Bank triumph, a great collision with Rey Mysterio, the awesome TLC climax with Jeff Hardy (SummerSlam '09), the excellent WrestleMania 28 bout with Chris Jericho, the PERFECT WWE title masterclass against ROH buddy Daniel Bryan (Over the Limit '12) and of course, the greatest match of Punk's life against John Cena from the legendary Money in the Bank 2011.

CM Punk: Best in the World is more than just a wrestling DVD. It's one of the deepest and most compelling features you'll ever see. A perfect release that works on every-single-level. Without this, your wrestling DVD collection is simply incomplete. An utterly mandatory release that's without fault.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2013 9:58 AM GMT


WWE - Night Of Champions 2011 [DVD]
WWE - Night Of Champions 2011 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cena
Offered by Medway Entertainment Uk
Price: £5.49

3.0 out of 5 stars After Money in the Bank & SummerSlam, we're right back to square one, 31 Mar. 2013
WWE really were on SUCH a roll throughout summer of 2011, especially after such unmissable shows like Money in the Bank & SummerSlam. With the ongoing CM Punk/WWE Championship controversy, Mark Henry's Hall of Pain, Triple H as the COO and Kevin Nash's return....WWE Television had become hotter than it'd been for years.

For the 2011 Night of Champions, there was still plenty of good reason to tune in. Alberto Del Rio had cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after CM Punk's victory in SummerSlam's Undisputed WWE Title Match. With the Mexican Aristocrat now on top, John Cena was first-in-line to challenge him. Mark Henry's convincing run of dominance had now led him to challenge World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton (fresh off his hot series against Christian) and tensions had now erupted completely between CM Punk & Triple H due to the ongoing controversies of the summer.

Sadly, WWE couldn't keep up the white-hot momentum and dropped the ball for Night of Champions. Don't get me wrong, it's a good-enough show, but after such consistent, epic quality from the previous two pay-per-views, 2011's Night of Champions feels like a letdown.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Air Boom (Champions) vs. The Miz & R-Truth
Putting Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne together as Tag Champions was just genius, frankly. Unlike most random pairings of the last few years, THIS one was actually able to capture the imagination, due to the brilliant `Air Boom' moniker, Kofi & Evan's chemistry as a unit and their popularity. Against the brilliant Miz/R-Truth pairing, Air Boom put on a nice, innovative tag team outing. Sadly, it's cut short by a daft DQ-finish, but the aftermath works. Miz & R-Truth garner some REAL heat here! (7/10)

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Cody Rhodes (Champion) vs. Ted DiBiase
The former Legacy partners square-off in strong, yet lacking title affair. Cody was really blossoming here (as both a heel & the IC Champ), but despite some good build-up (and their history together), this match is virtually devoid of heat. And poor Ted seems to get lost in the shuffle because of the way-more-over Cody. Unfortunate, as the two DO put on a solid match. (6/10)

Christian deserves `One More Match'.
Captain Charisma comes out for this interlude, and delivers a typically-brilliant Christian promo. Sheamus comes out, one thing leads to a Brogue Kick. Simple, little segment designed to set up a feud between the pair...and it's nice enough. (7/10)

WWE United States Championship Fatal-4-Way Match
Dolph Ziggler (Champion w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Alex Riley vs. Jack Swagger vs. John Morrison
I was looking forward to this one, namely because I'm a huge Ziggler fan and all the other participants are very talented. What could easily have been an exhilarating Fatal-4-Way instead turns out merely decent. Some of the action borders between sloppy/rushed & innovative/terrific. Still an okay melee, just hoping for more. (7/10)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Randy Orton (Champion) vs. Mark Henry
Mark Henry, congratulations. And I GENUINELY mean that. After so many injuries, flops and terrible angles, the World's Strongest Man - through hard work & determination - has finally made it to this level, and looks more convincing and capable than he's ever been. After a great, great run in the summer, Henry tussles with perhaps WWE's best all-rounder in a simple, yet effective story that has wonderful booking and perfect psychology. The clean finish, the historic outcome and the fierce promo afterwards make this very pleasing indeed. (7/10)

WWE Diva's Championship Match
Kelly Kelly (Champion w/Eve Torres) vs. Beth Phoenix (w/Natalya)
One reason to watch the Divas in 2011 was because of the feud between Kelly & Eve against the Divas of Doom. Like SummerSlam, Kelly & Beth put on another quality women's match with nice involvement from Eve & Natalya. This is definitely worth watching for a) the Buffalo, New York crowd rallying behind the hometown-girl Phoenix and b) the DEVASTATING superplex from Beth to Kelly! TRULY a highlight! Just a shame about the outcome and the contrived finish. (6/10)

WWE Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio (Champion w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. John Cena
Alberto's first real test as WWE Champion would truly be his biggest against Cena. And like a pro, Alberto would deliver in a terrific bout against the former Champ. The pre-match shenanigans/antics are most entertaining. The match itself is excellent, hard-fought and ripe with chemistry. The only problem is the nonsensical outcome and cheap finish. It was most counterproductive, completely unnecessary and downright pointless. Which after Money in the Bank and SummerSlam, is NOT what fans and the business needed to see! (8/10)

No Disqualification Match
CM Punk vs. Triple H
After SummerSlam, I was expecting Punk to square off against Kevin Nash (which really would've been intriguing to see). Strangely, we instead had Punk vs. Triple H with the COO's job at stake. Watching this bout, it becomes apparent that WWE really dropped the ball on the great storyline they had. For the majority, the two have a fierce, excellent brawl, but then Miz, R-Truth, John Laurinaitis AND Kevin Nash get involved at the end! A bout that's most promising just degenerates into complete overkill! Thankfully, CM Punk is strongly booked to look like Triple H's equal here, and both deliver. It's just a shame that neither the bout nor the outcome does anything for anyone. (8/10)

WWE Night of Champions 2011 does have a brilliant extra feature going for it; the contract signing between HHH & Punk (from SmackDown 30.08.2011) features some of the pair's best mic work, expressing their views on wrestling & their convictions, as well as blurring the line between kayfabe/real-life. It's a brilliant segment indeed and one that deserves repeated viewing.

On the whole, this show is a good one, but also disappointing, especially after Money in the Bank and SummerSlam. Has some nice surprises, but you won't be missing out if you decide to overlook Night of Champions 2011.


WWE: CM Punk - Best In The World [DVD]
WWE: CM Punk - Best In The World [DVD]
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CM Punk's DVD? Obviously BEST IN THE WORLD!, 28 Mar. 2013
Over the years of purchasing wrestling DVDs, the best ones have come from WWE Home Video. It's simply the truth, what with WWE's unmatched approaches in producing home-exclusive documentaries that cover wrestling's most fascinating subjects with tremendous depth and detail.

The Rise & Fall of ECW, The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection, the life-stories of Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho & Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels: From The Vault, The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior....SO many essential DVDS that WWE Home Video (& Silver Vision) have released over the years. And the next of these in line? CM Punk: Best in the World.

When he debuted on the ECW brand back in 2006, I had never heard of CM Punk. I knew nothing of his success on the independent scene or the name he made for himself in Ring of Honor. I just saw a man who was coming-in to ECW with a ton of hype & charisma, and I knew that I was meant to cheer him.

Since he first set foot in WWE, I have been SUCH a fan of Punk. Most of his time, his moniker of `Best in the World' has been justified by his phenomenal wrestling ability, his fascinating, versatile straight-edge character/lifestyle and his elite mic work. From his time in ECW, to his Money in the Bank successes, World Heavyweight Championship glories, white-hot feuds with Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and (of course) John Cena to the infamous 2011 shoot promo that catapulted him to the WWE title and cemented his main-event status forever, there has NEVER been a dull moment in CM Punk's career. So now...the three-disc set that the man so richly deserves is yours to own. IMMEDIATELY.

Best in the World is easily in the top three DVDs that WWE Home Video has EVER put together. The reason why is due to Punk himself.

Naturally, like most WWE biography DVD-sets that document the lives of wrestling's biggest legends/superstars, this particular home video ticks all the usual boxes. It has a fascinating, intelligent subject, whose life-story is full of engaging family matters, tremendous struggles, terrible hardships, terrific beginnings, inspiring accomplishments and a wonderful look into the human being as well as the wrestler, supported by anecdotes/opinions from various stars/legends.

However, where Best in the World has a huge edge over so many of previous WWE life-stories is its content and presentation. This is very honest, upfront and genuine, more so than some other superstar/legend releases. It feels that way more than most other wrestling DVDs (just like Rise & Fall of ECW or The Bret Hart Story), and Punk doesn't shy away from anything. No one here does, which says a lot about the quality of the documentary.

As we know, Punk himself is a complex individual. He's very opinionated with a very high opinion of himself. His remarkable intellect, the code he lives by, his confidence, his attitude, his morals/beliefs, loyalty to his family/friends; it all comes across perfectly in his voice. Again, he makes for a fascinating interview subject, and the wonderful range of guests-on-hand to corroborate him and his life cement this feature as an essential piece from start-to-finish. There's not a single disappointing thing about the documentary AT ALL!

What's unusual about Best in the World - and all-the-more excellent BECAUSE of it - is that WWE have actually broken the norm, and reached out to Ring of Honor to provide footage to cover Punk's time in the promotion. From a fan-standpoint, it HAD to be included given how Punk made his name there, but it's amazing that WWE actually listened and how well they cover Punk's ROH run! Kudos to Vince and WWE for allowing Punk this level of creative control, as the whole DVD becomes such a mandatory package because of it.

Due to how much say Punk had for his own DVD, there are even more wicked surprises on offer, namely Lars Frederiksen (of Rancid!) & Colt Cabana (from Ring of Honor!) to offer their views. Truly, there's a fantastic array of guest-speakers to discuss Punk, such as Lita, Chris Hero, Ace Steel, Paul Heyman, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, John Cena, Michael Hayes and Triple H, along with more of Punk's family and friends. The way the documentary alternates between discussion of the man's life/career and events outside the ring - such as meeting with Stan Lee HIMSELF! - is so intricate and refreshing. Not only is Best in the World inspiring, but there's several cool, trivial moments that viewers will simply love indulging in.

For special features, this 3-Disc DVD delivers every bit as much as the documentary itself. There's an overwhelming amount of deleted scenes, shedding more light on CM Punk, his family, his friends, career and life that enhance the experience even more. As for matches, some maybe disappointed that there are no Ring of Honor bouts collected (they can be found on ROH DVDs themselves). However, the BEST of Punk's WWE career have really been chosen wisely.

There's an excellent Heavyweight Title bout from OVW with Brent Albright, his great ECW debut against Justin Credible, a stiff IC title wrestling match with William Regal, and a fantastic Tag Title team-up with Kofi Kingston. More importantly, there's the fast, furious & superbly innovative ECW Championship bout with John Morrison (from 2007), his 2008 Money in the Bank triumph, a great collision with Rey Mysterio, the awesome TLC climax with Jeff Hardy (SummerSlam '09), the excellent WrestleMania 28 bout with Chris Jericho, the PERFECT WWE title masterclass against ROH buddy Daniel Bryan (Over the Limit '12) and of course, the greatest match of Punk's life against John Cena from the legendary Money in the Bank 2011.

CM Punk: Best in the World is more than just a wrestling DVD. It's one of the deepest and most compelling features you'll ever see. A perfect release that works on every-single-level. Without this, your wrestling DVD collection is simply incomplete. An utterly mandatory release that's without fault.


Carnage: Minimum Carnage
Carnage: Minimum Carnage
by Cullen Bunn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.97

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MINIMUM Carnage? Ah, clever! Oh, dear..., 25 Mar. 2013
Like the majority, I raved over Family Feud and Carnage: USA. Thanks to terrific plotting, great characterisation & gorgeous artwork, Zeb Wells & Clayton Crain had produced two absolutely essential mini-series, restoring Cletus Kasady to his rightful place as a colourful character, and force to be reckoned with.

When MINIMUM Carnage was first announced, I was really looking forward to it, particularly after Carnage: USA. When I heard that Venom (currently Flash Thompson) and Scarlet Spider (currently Kaine) were going to be the main-stars, my excitement level went through the roof! After all, both the new Venom and Scarlet Spider titles have proven to be some of the best series in recent years, mostly due to Flash and Kaine's reinventions as complicated, dark, flawed & tragic anti-heroes trying to prove themselves in their new roles. And throwing them together with Carnage (fresh off his own revitalised success) SHOULD have produced something worthwhile.

And perhaps it would've been...if it had been left to Zeb & Clayton. I was REALLY itching for a THIRD collaboration between the pair (having enjoyed Family Feud & Carnage: USA so much). A trilogy of Carnage stories from the duo would've not only been perfect, it would've been ideal. But alas, I'm getting ahead of myself...

After the events of Carnage: USA, Kasady's symbiote was `presumed' destroyed, and Cletus himself was taken into custody. Not surprisingly, he's back as Carnage, and escapes prison with Agent Venom on his trail. This time though, Carnage's rampage takes him to Houston, Texas - the home of the Scarlet Spider! - and Kaine's NOT happy! But this showdown is interrupted by a strange-turn-of-events. One that's going to make the proceedings even weirder...

Maximum Carnage was a GOOD story. One that could've been GREAT, if it hadn't run on for so long, hadn't been so repetitive, and been approached with more discipline. For MINIMUM Carnage (clever spin on the title!), this crossover spreads over the Venom AND Scarlet Spider comics (Venom #26-27, and Scarlet Spider #10-11), and the Minimum Carnage One-Shots (Alpha & Omega). SIX parts as opposed to FOURTEEN, which is much more sensible. Creative duties this time are shared by Chris Yost (current Scarlet Spider writer) and Cullen Bunn (current Venom writer). Various artists throughout the issues consist of Ian Medina, Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown & Declan Shalvey.

The end-result? JUST LIKE Maximum Carnage. An excellent concept, all-the-right ingredients and a potential classic on their hands, which is executed well-below-par. What could EASILY have been as fantastic as previous Carnage Mini-Series instead turns out as something that is way too radical for its own good.

The biggest problem with Minimum Carnage is the plot. Some would say you really shouldn't expect a rich plot featuring Carnage, and I would argue vehemently against that. Carnage IS a perfectly three-dimensional character and great stories CAN be produced with him (such as the Wells/Crain mini-series and those tales by David Michelinie/J.M. DeMatteis).

The idea here that Carnage makes a deal with a mysterious, sinister `third-party' is plausible, as are the circumstances that bring Venom & Scarlet Spider together. But when the crossover enters the `Microverse' territory...it pretty much ruins the whole thing. Aside from the Microverse concept being a dud, the idea is stressed far too much in its attempt to make it work. You're introduced to an overload of lifeless new superheroes & supervillains (where the odds are you WON'T see them ever again), on a bizarre stage that becomes far too much to handle. I can understand the relevance of it all for Chris Yost & Cullen Bunn's story, but for the majority, it's just far too confusing and really, really boring.

Comparing Yost & Bunn's writing to (say) Zeb Wells', the differences are plainly obvious. Family Feud and Carnage: USA succeeded because they were plausible, coherent and went for the `less-is-more' approach. If Wells had written this, he would've taken some of the great ideas/concepts - i.e. Carnage allying with others, turning on them, third-party wanting to clone an army out of him, Venom & Scarlet reluctantly teaming-up/infighting, talking about Spidey etc - and grounded it all in a way that's genuinely deep & refreshing. As it is, Yost and Bunn have missed the boat here, and after really enjoying the new Venom and Scarlet Spider books, that's very disappointing.

As for the artwork, hit-and-miss overall. Declan Shalvey's work is too rough for my liking, and while Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown & Ian Medina provide some nice, cartoony visuals, it's something of a letdown, especially after being spoiled by Clayton Crain's beautiful painted illustrations in the last two mini-series. And I really do criticise Ian Medina's rendition of Cletus Kasady, which looks NOTHING like him at all! However, there are SOME pleasant bonuses, like the alternative covers produced by Clayton and Spider-Man legend himself, Mark Bagley! These are TRULY works-of-art!

There is some great writing amidst the whole Microverse mess. Namely the interactions between Carnage, Venom & Scarlet Spider. There're some absolutely TERRIFIC exchanges/interaction between the three, be it dialogue or no-holds-barred fights to the death (the best being Kaine's INTENSE fights with Flash & Kasady!). All their characters are expressed beautifully here, and all undergo major changes at the end. The epilogue from Scarlet Spider #12 is a great spotlight for Kaine's aftermath of the whole event, and it's all-the-more of a shame that this level of character has been suppressed by a needlessly overdone story.

In closing, Minimum Carnage DOES offer some good fun. Just like its MAXIMUM predecessor, and just like said-predecessor, it's a story that could've been so much more had it been executed properly. Buy it if you're curious. You may just find some stuff that's worth the money. Just don't expect anything rich or purposeful as Family Feud, Carnage: USA or the normal Venom & Scarlet Spider books.


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