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LukeW (England)

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The Walking Dead - Season 1 [DVD]
The Walking Dead - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andrew Lincoln
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £9.90

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review of the TV broadcast, not the dvd, 13 Dec 2010
Unlike a few reviewers, I thought I'd actually wait until this series had finished airing in the UK before posting a review. Bear in mind this isn't a review of the dvd (yet to have a release date as of now), but of the TV broadcast.

With films such as 28 Days/Weeks Later, Romero's new Dead films, and Resident Evil, for example, the zombie genre has experienced a resurgence over the last few years in cinema and in books. It's only now that it's come to television. The Walking Dead isn't a perfect piece of work (no matter what the pointless 5 star reviews based on the first episode might say); in a few places, particularly early on, it's nothing we haven't seen before, but when it works, it works very well and is extremely entertaining.

To summarise the plot: Sherriff's Deputy, Rick Grimes, is shot while apprehending a few bad guys. When he wakes up a short time later in hospital, the place is seemingly deserted. It's not long before he discovers that zombies have killed just about everyone and he's more or less alone. What's more, his wife and son are missing. Heading out on a search to find them and stay alive, Grimes discovers just how dangerous the zombie world is.

As I say, this is entertaining television. Grimes is a likeable and sympathetic character, and while the majority of the supporting cast could do with being more fleshed out, this is more Grimes' story than anyone else. Where The Walking Dead lets itself down is with a few issues of plot contrivance and pacing. When it's good, it's a thrilling ride. It's also refreshing to see the programme makers treating their audience with respect when it comes to violence. This isn't a pretty world. Death isn't peaceful. It's hungry. If you're expecting something you'd be happy for your children to watch, think again. This is 18 certificate territory which is exactly as it should be.

While some episodes sink to 3 star levels, others, I'm happy to say are easily 5 star. Roll on the second series.

Full Dark, No Stars
Full Dark, No Stars
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long live the King, 2 Dec 2010
This review is from: Full Dark, No Stars (Hardcover)
Stephen King's first collection of four long stories, Different Seasons, contains two of what are probably his most famous and well-loved tales - The Body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. His second collection, Four Past Midnight, while featuring four stories which aren't that bad, simply isn't as good as the first. So here's the third: Full Dark, No Stars. And while the stories here might not be as immediately classic as those in Different Seasons, they're still superb in their own right.

King has always excelled at writing about `ordinary' people who are pushed into supernatural or horrifying situations. In the first and third of these stories, 1922 and Fair Extension, the characters go some way to putting themselves in these situations and this makes an interesting contrast with the other two stories, Big Driver and A Good Marriage, as the characters here are definitely pushed unwillingly into their horrific situations. It's also interesting to note the male characters are the ones who get themselves involved in murder and a very dodgy deal do so out of their own free will while the women are the ones shoved into nightmares because of the actions of men.

King describes these stories as harsh, and they are, but I'm all for that. This is horror, after all, and so what if the guilty are not always punished in an obvious way (read the shortest story here and you'll see what I mean). That's part of what makes these tales horrific and part of what makes King the writer he is. The other part, of course, is his understanding of the lengths to which people will go in order to survive. He is a writer who knows there is light in the darkness, and we are lucky to have him to guide us into that darkness. And sometimes, back out again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2010 8:47 AM GMT

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies
by Isaac Marion
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Braaaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnssssss for the thinking reader, 29 Nov 2010
This review is from: Warm Bodies (Paperback)
I've read a fair bit of zombie fiction particularly in the last few months. Most of it has been alright without being overly impressive and the odd book has been, frankly, poor. (I made it 50 pages into the most recent book and gave up, bored of dialogue that read as if written by a twelve year old). As entertaining as some of those books have been, Warm Bodies blows them all away. This is zombie fiction with a difference. It's not simply that the POV is from a zombie; this is a book that goes much further than the standard `eat brains, moan, eat more brains, kill everyone' idea that fills so much zombie fiction. This is the tale of a very human corpse.

R is the main character, a zombie with almost no memory of his life, no idea of his age, where he's from or how long he's been dead. All he knows is his name began with an R. This is his sole identity. R lives with a large group of other zombies in an abandoned airport; a few of them have extremely basic vocal abilities and possess some rational thought. They can plan rather than simply wander around, groaning. During an attack on the living, R kills a young man and discovers there is some tiny degree of humanity and personality inside his rotting head. For want of a better term, R kidnaps the man's girlfriend, Julie, and brings her back to the zombie enclave. Once there, the two begin a strange relationship built on fear from her and hope from him. The problem is the dead world and the living world aren't quite ready to live together.

Look below the surface of Warm Bodies and it's clear this isn't the most original tale ever written. Lovers from different backgrounds, faced with insurmountable odds and attempting to live in peace...we've seen it many times before. However, the author's clear talents and ability to make us empathise with a zombie is first rate and in a genre populated with fanboy fiction and books written like film scripts, Warm Bodies is a definite contender for best zombie book of the year.

Nerd Do Well
Nerd Do Well
by Simon Pegg
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spaced man, 15 Nov 2010
This review is from: Nerd Do Well (Hardcover)
As someone who could be described as a long-lost and (very) distant cousin of Simon Pegg (I share his obsession with zombies but not so much with Star Wars), I've been looking forward to his autobiography for a while. And while it's not quite the book I expected, it's worth reading.

A fair chunk of Nerd Do Well is taken up with chapters on films - mainly the works of Romero and Lucas, although Pegg does describe experiences with people such as Gillian Anderson and Steven Spielberg with his customary self-deprecation and a sense of British surprise that a guy like him should be involved with such famous and talented people. He also goes into detail concerning the maligned Star Wars prequels which, if I didn't see Romero's films they way I do, would have been slightly embarrassing. If you're not as obsessive about something as Pegg is with Star Wars, this probably won't do a lot for you. Not to worry, though. Pegg relates plenty of stories of his childhood and adolesence which will strike plenty of chords with readers of a similar age. As well as being funny, these stories illustrate Pegg's development from nerdy student to comic to actor and writer - all with some degree of his nerdiness. My only complaint is the relative lack of stories on the works which brought him to the public eye over the last ten years: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and, of course, the mighty Spaced. They're all given mention but it's a little perfunctory for me.

Ultimately though, it's always refreshing to read an autobiography by someone with talent and charm. And it's a bonus when the autobio comes with a great Dan Brown mickey take thrown in.

We're Here To The End
We're Here To The End
Price: £21.56

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come worship at the church of noise, 8 Nov 2010
This review is from: We're Here To The End (Audio CD)
I've seen Therapy? live several times and they always give a great show. (I got my picture taken with the evil priest when they played in Peterborough last year - which turned me into a giggling idiot for a good half an hour). This release is as close as you can get to being at one of their gigs without being deafened by a few hundred people calling Andy Cairns a fat bar steward.

Thankfully avoiding any tracks off the pretty terrible Shameless album, this is two discs of solid rock songs ranging from early favourites Potato Junkie and Innocent X through Neck Freak to Die Laughing (of course) and more recent tracks from Crooked Timber with an uptempo version of Diane thrown in. Not to forget a healthy amount of audience participation to make the listener feel that they're part of the performance.

If you haven't seen Therapy? live, this album will give you a good idea what you're missing. If you have seen them, it'll put a big smile on your face. Either way, a class release.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2011 1:19 PM BST

Predators (2010) [DVD]
Predators (2010) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Adrien Brody
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £3.95

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Come back the 1980s. All is forgiven., 1 Nov 2010
This review is from: Predators (2010) [DVD] (DVD)
The original Predator was an action classic. Predator 2, while now looking strangely dated, is an entertaining enough film if not up to the standards of the first. And the less said about the two Alien Vs Predator films, the better. And this brings us to the first proper Predator sequel in twenty years and the first question that comes to mind: where did it go wrong? This could have been a great action film that people who grew up with the first would appreciate and younger people could also enjoy, but it falls sadly flat almost right from the start.

A group of hardmen (and one hard woman) wake up, literally, in the middle of a freefall towards an alien planet that looks a lot like the jungles of South America. They quickly come together when they discover just how alien this planet is and that something is hunting them for sport. The only really interesting angle about the group relationship is the individual will to survive and how little each character differs from the others in this regard. Other than that, we're presented with copies of some of the original film's characters as well scenes and dialogue we've seen before. I really don't understand why film makers feel it's necessary to do this. There's a difference between paying tribute to the original and simply copying it when a director can't come up with his own film. The odd line or moment would have been forgivable and given older viewers some amusement. As it is, it grates and serves as a reminder of what worked well about the first film. Along with a number of unanswered questions, this flaw creates a disappointing film. And what was going on with the lead's impression of Christian Bale's Batman? I half expected Michael Caine to pop up as his butler.

Fun action films can be enjoyable on a Friday night when you don't want to think about what you're watching. Predators is not particularly fun and not particularly good. It's just...meh.

2.5 out of 5.

13 Hours [DVD]
13 Hours [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Felton
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £3.94

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Probably great if you're twelve..., 25 Oct 2010
This review is from: 13 Hours [DVD] (DVD)
...for the rest of us who've seen more than two werewolf films and want more from a movie than Gemma Atkinson in a short skirt, this is a failure on just about every level.

Firstly, did I miss the relevance of the title? At what point did the 13 hour issue come up? I can work out for myself it's a case of stay alive and wait for dawn as we saw in the vastly superior Dog Soldiers, but they might as well have called this Big Werewolf House since the actual title never came up in plot or conversation.

Secondly, I don't care this was low budget. I don't watch a film for effects. I watch it for script, story and acting. This lacked a decent story, had a predictable script and pretty poor acting. Plus various gaps in realism and logic. Witness the copper responding to a 999 call who stops at the scene of an abandoned car and then lets a civilian handle what is probably evidence of an incident from the car. Also not to forget said copper taking about a week to actually get to the house.

Thirdly, a note to the writer and director: atmosphere and acting are much more effective when making a horror film than spending half the film focusing on a blonde with big norks.

Lastly, you'll like this if you think Hollyoaks is well-acted and realistic. Otherwise, avoid.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2011 12:26 AM BST

The Haunting Of James Hastings
The Haunting Of James Hastings
by Christopher Ransom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine tale of ghosts and grief, 20 Oct 2010
After the reviews for The Birthing House, most of which struck me as unfair, I was interested to see where Christopher Ransom would go for his follow up book. While The Haunting of James Hastings is a decent tale, it does suffer with some similarities to The Birthing House: a restless past, ghosts, and a man haunted by regret.

A brief summary of the plot: James Hastings spent a few years as a double for a rapper named Ghost (think Eminem meets Marilyn Manson). After his wife Stacey is killed in a hit and run accident outside their house, he withdraws from life to spend his time drinking, grieving and little else. Eventually, he meets new neighbour Annette who quickly reveals herself to be linked to Stacey's accident. That's when the haunting starts. Phone calls with nobody there, strange noises in James' house, a phantom presence...all the prerequisites for a haunted house are in place.

There are definite pluses to Ransom's writing. He knows how to keep the reader turning the pages without resorting to childish cliff hangers at the end of every chapter (I'm looking at you, Dan Brown); he knows how to get inside the head of a man almost destroyed by grief and he knows how to develop a ghostly haunting with some great scenes that would be as stunning in a film as they are on the page - which leads me to one of the novel's downsides. As another reviewer noted, the climax is more filmic than literary which wouldn't usually be a problem for me, but Ransom overdoes it. I also would have preferred the book to finish a scene or so before it does. Despite its occasional flaw, this is a great haunted house story. Now all we need for his third book is for the author to stretch himself a little more.

Frozen [DVD]
Frozen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emma Bell
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £5.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anyone for skiing?, 18 Oct 2010
This review is from: Frozen [DVD] (DVD)
It's often the case that films with the simplest of ideas work the best. You can count Frozen as one of those simple films which succeeds almost completely.

Three college kids (two friends and the girlfriend of one of the guys) plan to spend their Sunday afternoon at a ski resort. With bad weather coming in, the resort is closing early. However, the friends head up the mountain for one last go and, due to a few events which stretch credibility only a little, end up stuck on the ski lift. It's dark, they're alone; nobody knows they're up there and they're very stuck. As I said, Frozen is built around this simple idea. It doesn't need much more than this to be a damn frightening idea. Throw in some wince making frostbite gore, not to mention hungry wolves, and you're set for a nasty hour and a half but one that definitely thrills.

I did have a minor issue with a couple of events which seemed a little clumsy in terms of realism but overall this is a fine example of low budget character based film making.

Count me out of going skiing any time soon.

Dead Beat
Dead Beat
by Remy Porter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.87

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Room for improvement, 18 Oct 2010
This review is from: Dead Beat (Paperback)
As hard as it for zombies to feel fresh and original, there have been some decent books and films over the last couple of years concerning the walking dead. Sadly, Dead Beat isn't one of them.

The problem isn't the actual story. It's not new, of course, but it's still a pleasant change to see a zombie apocalypse in a location other than a city. It's also nice to read a story told for the most part from the first person. It gives the outbreak a very immediate feel which I liked. However, there's a problem of two halves. Firstly, the book didn't appear to have gone through an edit. Typos and cock ups happen, but when they as basic and occur as often as they do here, it just looks amateurish. And that's the second problem. The writing, in several places, is amateurish. Scenes and descriptions read as if this is the first draft by an author still finding their voice. That isn't to say Remy Porter won't come up with something better than this in the future, but this is still a pretty weak book and one that left me disappointed.

Judging by the other reviews for Dead Beat, I'm in the minority. Even so, I can't find it in me to give this book more than two stars.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2010 10:39 AM GMT

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