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Jessica "Illume the mind within" (England)

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Curse the Dawn (Cassie Palmer Novels)
Curse the Dawn (Cassie Palmer Novels)
by Karen Chance
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More magic, myth and mayhem, 7 April 2009
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The sides have been assembled for an all out magical war. Well almost...after the events of 'Embrace the Night' Cassie finds herself, along with her partner Pritkin allied with the vampire Senate against Apollo and his minions. As Pythia and with the geis now gone Cassie realises that she has a lot of mess to clear up but doing her job seems a little difficult when the Silver Circle of mages, who are also allied with the Senate and who hold the key to keeping Apollo out of the world, want nothing to do with her (except maybe kill her) and the fact that what she does and who she sees is trying to be controlled by a master vampire (guess which). And anyway how does one go about killing a god?

The stakes are high right? And Chance really goes for it in this novel, its criminally action packed, deliciously quirky with a kind of demented mirth...and I loved it! There's some great set pieces and some nice exploration of characters that I genuinely care about.

There's more on the mages and I'm glad, Cassie is after all a magical being so this aspect needed more depth. On these lines Cassie's clairvoyance abilities and the mythos surrounding the Pythia's abilities and role is given more flesh as well as other mythological quirks that make Chance's weird and magical world sparkle more brightly.

There is as always a fabulous cast of secondary characters, Marsden the ex-leader of the Silver Circle who makes Pritkin seem normal being one. I've also always been a sucker for Marlowe, playing attention whenever he appears. As for Apollo...he didn't seem as terrifying as he should of...I don't know I felt a little let down by this aspect.

As for Cassie she is still brave in a kind of hysterical way, witty and feisty. I think she has developed wonderfully over the previous books, although here she doesn't grow that much we do see that she still has a lot to work through; her isolation in the midst of many and her distrust of those people have been key themes in all the books and here I started to notice here her apparent lack of self worth. Although she has accepted her power she has not accepted her ability to use it. These themes are explored nicely here whether it is by seeing Cassie learning to put her trust in Pritkin or her beginning assert her position with Mircea, the Senate and the Silver Circle.

I did become a little frustrated with her though as she rarely vocalises her observations and opinions and this makes it seem as if she isn't making a stand. As a character I appreciate that she doesn't fight everything and will go along with things as long as it suits but this means for much of the book she's just being dragged around, doing what others want her to do. Also it still takes her an infuriatingly long time to cotton on to things which can make her seem a little dim.

On the plus side she is more emotionally aware in this book. Which brings me to the love triangle...I personally wasn't unhappy with the amount of romance but I did become a little frustrated. Although Cassie now has matured enough to know how any relationship with Mircea would go (down the toilet) by acknowledging that her feelings for him are based on those of a child's and are likely effected by the geis and also registering the fact that he is quite happy to coddle and manipulate her. Yet she does little about these observations. As a result the dynamic between her and Mircea alters very little. The fact that she can't bring herself to act on her convictions is frustrating because simply put I think he sees her at best as a procession and at worst as a tool. His dynamic with Cassie by turns creeps me out and annoys me, it just doesn't work. On the other hand Mircea's relationship with Dory in 'Midnight's Daughter' does and proves that he is actually an interesting character.

And then there's Pritkin, I can't help but fall for the direct, honourable and demented mage, he is as excellent as always and things continue to progress naturally between him and Cassie and their partnership is still lovely to see. Although it's a little disappointing that not a huge amount happens between them and the Mircea/Cassie dynamic is still stuttering along I wasn't terribly surprised as frankly I think all three characters are rather emotionally stunted and so things are going nowhere fast. For anything to change between Cassie and Mircea, he would have to learn to adapt. And with Cassie and Pritkin, Cassie would have to acknowledge her feelings and genuinely let someone in, Pritkin too and he'd also have to stop hating himself long enough for himself to be happy. All these are deep rooted issues and aren't going to change any time soon but they all add depth and show how rich these characters are while supplying loads of tension and humour.

Overall I was gripped, the book exhibits everything that I love about the series. Chance said in an interview that this book will form another trilogy and this is noticeable in the progression of the plot and the changes in tone but the writing is as unexpected and as fun as ever. It was particularly interesting to see Cassie's struggle with what she must do, what she wants to do, what people want her to do and what she thinks she can do as she gets wrapped up in ever more devious power struggles and political games. I look forward to the next with the hope that a few irritating dynamics and plot threads will find a conclusion as others are expanded, as few entertains with as much style as Karen Chance!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2009 2:39 PM BST

Metamorphoses: A New Verse Translation (Penguin Classics)
Metamorphoses: A New Verse Translation (Penguin Classics)
by Ovid
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carnal delights, 31 Mar 2009
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Ovid looked at the vast collection of Greco and Roman myths and understood the unifying factor to be metamorphosis. He therefore took on the monumental task of linking them together in one long continuous poem. The results are truly monumental.

I think Penguin editions can sometimes linger a little too much on the intellectual understanding of classics but I enjoyed and continue to enjoy this edition. A chronology of Ovid's life and works is included before the text as well as an introduction by Denis Feeney which is interesting and comprehensive whilst not being terribly preachy on how 'Metamorphoses' should be experienced. There is a page dedicated to further books of interest. The translator David Raeburn also writes a short note on his intentions, the format of the original and his new version, which I also found very interesting. The fifteen books of the 'Metamorphoses' follows. On the first reading I dutifully read the summaries at the beginning of each book for a while, but they add very little, instead they mainly catalogue what happens in each segment before it does, which can ruin it a bit. Still they are nice to read after as they can add to your understanding. I found the notes on background information, points of detail and cross references incredibly useful and fascinating. The index was also useful to keep track of all the characters and to be used as a guide as it tells you where each character appears in the text so you can flick to the right section. An historical map of the world Ovid lived in is also included.

Raeburn chose to compose the text in a metre which is closer to Ovid's dactylic hexameter - which in turns references the epic style of Homer and Virgil - as opposed to the traditional English metre for narrative poetry, which is iambic pentameter. He writes in his note that he has done this to reflect the relaxed flow of Ovid's narrative. Because of this I did find the rhythm a little tricky to pick up at first but after a few pages I had become immersed in the flow of the prose and found that the text is actually very easy to understand. Although Raeburn stresses how faithfully he has tried to reflect the original format and flavour (his 11,870 is very close to the originals 11,995) he also makes it clear that this is not a literal version of the original. To help with clarity and as he was working within the limits of idiomatic English he has altered the arrangement of some of the lines and compressed and expanded some also. For this I am grateful as I am not a student looking for an English translation to study alongside the original Latin and want the translation I read to be accessible. He also mentions that he has tried to stick to one name for most of the characters, whereas Ovid used many, he has still employed some of the better known equivalents though for others, if he didn't do this I would have likely been rather lost. As it was I was still got a little turned around, with the many names of Jupiter for example.

The poem itself begins before time and takes you on a strange and mesmerising journey that finishes in Ovid's then present. Every recognisable and many minor Greco-Roman myths has a place in the poem. Ovid was a devious fellow, the scope and arrangement of 'Metamorphoses' is amazing. This is not a traditional narrative, instead Ovid plays with structure and reader expectation. The stories are connected through associated themes and characters. The whole can also be divided into three sets of five books; the first third deals heavily with the exploits of the gods and this is possibly my favourite as their base motivations are fascinating, the next focuses on the heroes and then history. But these lines are blurred and you are always being surprised as Ovid throws yet another curve ball.

Sometimes the major recurring element of transformation links the stories ingeniously and other times it's tacked on. But most noteworthy is how these transformations and transitions encompass an extraordinary range of human experience. Ovid's understanding of human motivations and readers perceptions coupled with a philosophical richness and psychological intensity is something that can be seen in every part of the poem.

The reason 'Metamorphoses' is so gripping and effecting is the reason myths are in general. By dealing in base human motivations and epic reactions, the subsequent spark of recognition the reader experiences feels integral because it is. We are all fascinated by our own identity and a collective identity. Transformations and transitions are integral to myths and integral to our sense of identity.

You can also take immense pleasure in the many different forms of metamorphoses, the huge array of characters and the intensity of the themes. Compulsion and sexual desire are strong forces that power the sometimes shocking violence and grotesque gore. No matter how many times I read it I am always entranced by the magic, impassioned by the soaring speeches, excited by the epic battles and hunt scenes, sickened by the violence, devious and often demented behaviour, which is evident in the many rape scenes and violence against man, women and children but at the same time I'm still amused by the diabolical sense of humour and wit. Ovid's epic could be seen as sensational, it was after all meant to entertain the masses with the excessive violence and erotic lusty dark edge. But there is also such intelligence to Ovid's understanding of the human psyche and the way he plays with every element, the cruel and horrific is also mixed with justice and love, corruption with honour, true heroism with petty vengeance. I love this as it feels integral and powerful, it challenges how I see narrative, structure and most importantly myself and others.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2014 8:25 AM BST

The Time Machine (Penguin Classics)
The Time Machine (Penguin Classics)
by H.G. Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.79

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant short SF but not too keen on the edition..., 13 Feb 2009
Wells ever the socialist and philosopher always had a purpose that reflected these interests when writing and `The Time Machine' is no different. The short novel is not only incredibly important considering that Wells broke from the tradition of using the supernatural to explain such wonders as time travel but in so many other things like the heartfelt social commentary, the earnest and powerful characters and the manner in which he mixes (and establishes) realistic writing and chilling fantastical elements.

The result is a wonderfully engaging and I felt moving story that follows `the time traveller', an unnamed scientist that one night announces to a group of his peers that he has created a time machine and he can prove it. He demonstrates his ideas with a miniature model, although he is faced with disbelief and incredulity he is smug in his assertion that it will work, so he sets out to prove his theories and disappears into the future on the finished larger model. Later when he returns he recounts his story to his bemused guests of his strange time in the future and the people and...creatures he meets in his struggle to return home.

I did find Wells writing terribly moving in many places not only because of his intensely hopeless conclusions concerning humanities future, what will we be when we have achieved all that we hoped to? It is not only human nature he explores but ideas surrounding the survival of species and the progression and deterioration of the world in both natural and unnatural ways. The ending chapters in particular are brilliant and Wells is very good at evoking the sublime in realistic writing, this skill makes his works kind of beautiful and a little poetic. I also love the Time Traveller himself, he takes on the horrors of the future - the chilling Morlocks - with a box of safety matches! He's a hero to challenge the greatest.

I tend to shy away from penguin editions because I just want to enjoy whatever I'm reading without being lectured on how to experience it! Foolish person that I am I read the extensive biography and introduction by Marina Warner before I read the novel and between them both they tell the entire story. I just wish that they had put these behind the story and put Wells preface which is printed at the back at the front. He knows what he's about; his original introduction would have been a much nicer opening. The problem with penguin is that they're so damn smug, any notes that they include should be provided as extras to heighten our experience not a way for intellectuals to show off their knowledge. Wow this really bothers me! This will undoubtedly not annoy that many people and both the notes on Wells life and Warner's short piece are interesting. Anyway rant aside this is a great work and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend and it really, it is all to do with your own preferences whether you take my advice and read the first two segments after you read the story. I would also say that if you trying to decide which of Wells books to start with then maybe go with `The War of the Worlds' as that is a gripping introduction to a brilliant writer.

Heart of the Dragon (Atlantis (Harlequin))
Heart of the Dragon (Atlantis (Harlequin))
by Gena Showalter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grace and the dragon, 7 Feb 2009
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Darius en Kragin, a dragon of Atlantis sees no colours and feels no emotions, he desires nothing from his immortal life other than the protection of Atlantis from those humans who live on the surface that would see his underwater city pillaged of its treasures and his people brutalised. Since his families violent death at the hands of such people Darius has protected one of the few portals into Atlantis viciously and without remorse, killing anyone who passed through whether they be innocent travellers or hardened soldiers or indeed man, women or child. But when a women emerges who carries with her a Dragon Medallion, something that only a dragon warrior possesses and a treasure forged by the very gods who banished the creatures of Atlantis to their city so long ago, can Darius kill her when she posses so many questions and seems to be able to lift the greyness that has been his existence and reawaken his deadened senses?

There is something missing in Grace Carlyle life. To fill the void she has become an adrenalin junky but nothing works for long. So she jumps at the chance to travel to the Amazon jungle after receiving a strange necklace from her myth investigating brother Alex. She begins to regret her decision when she finds herself lost in the middle of the jungle, with no water after her guide legs it and no sign of her brother Alex. Well a bad day turns into a horrendous one as she stumbles into a truly bizarre land and gets accosted by a sword wielding hulk of a man with the promise of death in his eyes!

I've wanted to read this book for awhile now but have waited for it to be rereleased. I think it's important to say that if you're like me and have read some of Showalter's later books before reading this that the quality of writing here isn't as high as her `Lords of the Underworld' books. Her work has clearly improved a lot since this book. There are a few things that annoyed me when reading; first is the how the dynamic between Grace and Darius is written, there are passages and passages of the two characters just DESCRIBING each other as they fight their mutual attraction. It's lessened when they finally get together and seems to be born from their sexual frustration and growing lust but still it really bugged me. Also I didn't warm to Darius, I found him incredibly patronising and a little dull, he's one of the more classical alpha males I've read in a while or in other words a bit of a you know what! Also I know Showalter has a tendency to do this, but why make Grace a virgin? It doesn't fit into the plot let alone her characterisation, this formula bugs me because I don't get it but it appears in so many romance novels! Also Atlantis itself wasn't fully realised and with enough flare to really sparkle but this is partly to do with the plot itself and the fact that much of the time it is Darius finding wonder in our world and as a result we don't see or learn much of Atlantis.

I'd still recommend this book, it's the beginning of what I think (or hope) will be an ever improving series, I'll likely read the others as I'm really looking forward to `The Vampires Bride' which is out in March (2009). The highlights in `Heart of the Dragon' are Showalter's witty and quirky style with a healthy dose of silliness - the villain sits on a throne made from the bones of his enemies for crying out loud! - and her ba-boom-chush humour, which I love. Also I really got into the book by the last hundred pages, the characters had really grown and the story started to pick up momentum. There are also some well placed and intriguing sub stories and secondary characters that I am excited to know more about, Showalter definitely has a talent for creating a diverse and individual cast of characters for her books and in this case species too, with all the different beings here and the interesting burgeoning mythology I say bring on `Jewel of Atlantis'!

The Gospel According to Science Fiction: From the Twilight Zone to the Final Frontier
The Gospel According to Science Fiction: From the Twilight Zone to the Final Frontier
by Gabriel McKee
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Well he's certainly well read..., 3 Feb 2009
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McKee uses an impressive amount of SF books and films to argue that SF can be regarded as the middle ground between the rather distinct areas of religion and science. After establishing this hypothesis and outlining the necessary definitions the subsequent book divided into 10 sections:

1. Gods of the Future
2. In the Beginning...
3. Inside Data's Brain: Mind, Self and Soul
4. In the Fullness of time: Free Will and Divine Providence
5. Dark Stars: Sin and Evil
6. Christ, Prometheus, and Klaatu: Alien Messiahs
7. Believing and Knowing: Faith and Religious Experience
8. Good News from the Vatican: The Future of the Church
9. Imagining the Afterlife
10. The Last Days (and After)

The sections use a whole host of examples to back McKee's ideas up, he of course makes other points and some very interesting ones at that, that caused me to think differently about many SF texts. But it's the bigger picture that McKee excels at condensing, making complex points that concern theology (a very tricky thing to do) .But there is an air of naivety to McKee's research; he states towards the end that SF is creating the faith of the future but he doesn't consider that SF with its scientific sensibilities and realistic approach is inherently distrustful towards religion and that religious themes in SF are most commonly present to debunk superstition and tend to try and prove that religious ideals are able to be explained by some physics somewhere. Although he proves it time and again McKee doesn't answer what I would think is one of the most important questions here and that is why is there such a strong religious imagination in SF, that's because there is no sophisticated philosophising. Also he doesn't analyse anything in huge detail instead he tends to dip into many different examples to prove a particular point for each section. Never mind, this is still a very interesting book, easy to understand, it gives you an alternative look at SF and is very open minded, which is something I value.

Kiss of a Demon King
Kiss of a Demon King
by Kresley Cole
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Kresley Cole's got style..., 2 Feb 2009
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Rydstrom has a plan...after over a thousand years of fighting to regain his crown and bring freedom and peace back to his ravished kingdom and oppressed people there is the possibility of success. An enchanted sword has been forged by Groot the metallurgist and has been promised by him to kill Omort for good. The strain of failure weighs deeply on Rydstrom but for a man who has always put his kingdom before everything else, even his search for his destined female how will he react when all his suppressed fantasies and ignored desires suddenly seem as if they could be made possible? But not by the pure and good queen he imagined marrying but by an evil and selfish sorceress, who captures him and who only wishes to use his body for her own ends with the intention of furthering the decline of his kingdom and adding to his continued failure of regaining his crown.

Sabine has a ensure the survival of herself and her sister Lanthe she must take full advantage of a prophesy made hundreds of years ago, that hailed her as the fallen Rage demon king's fated mate. When she was a child Omort sort her out for just this reason, to ensure his power over her he bound Sabine to him by poisoning her and Lanthe and making them rely on him for the antidote. You see he, like Sabine wants the power that surrounds the Well of Souls at castle Tornin but whereas he wants the power to extend the evil reign that he has established in the kingdom of Rothkalina all Sabine wants is a place where SHE can rule, a sanctuary from her Omorts perverted desires and her relentless enemies the Vrekeners (winged hunters of evil Sorceri). But to achieve this she must obtain the key to unlock the Well's power and that just so happens to be the legitimate heir of Rydstrom the dethroned king. But Sabine's smart and a schemer and if seduction is only way to get what she wants - a wedding vow and pregnancy - well needs must...

I haven't loved Cole's last three books as much as I did the first three. And for a number of reasons I found this one a little dull. Rydstrom and Sabine do make a deliciously exotic and erotic pair, though this is mostly in appearance as their dynamic itself is unbalance and with little chemistry. Both take turns at being captor and captive, Sabine's sensual torture of Rydstrom and his ensuing lust fuelled revenged when he escapes takes up the majority of the book and I didn't find it particularly engaging or erotic, definitely not romantic, what it is is repetitive.

The book although well written, is slow and considering the high stakes the lack of plot twists and action is odd. Although the plot makes more sense to me upon reflection, Nix said in Conrad's story that Rydstrom would have to chose between his mate and his kingdom. And so the fact that the book is so much about Rydstrom and Sabine and not the quest to regain his crown makes sense. Even so I missed the action and intensity of those first three books. But it's logical that the series has moved on and doesn't focus entirely on the concept of eternal mates, this is of course still the formula but Cole doesn't insult our intelligence with her world building; if the first three books were about establishing the importance of the characters destined mates, Conrad's book delivered a real emotional punch and Cade's dealt with the moral ambiguity that many of Cole's characters exhibit. But still the pacing here was a little flaky; the ending in particular was rather abrupt and nowhere near as epic as I had thought. This wouldn't have mattered much if I hadn't thought there was something lacking in Rydstrom's and Sabine's developing relationship but as it was I couldn't submerse myself in their story.

There are some wonderful elements however. I liked Sabine (Rydstrom too) she's witty, vibrant, sassy and yes amoral. But she isn't evil, the author gives us logical reasons for why she is the way she is; dying over a dozen times is likely to make a person willing to do anything to survive! She is also utterly unforgiving towards her personality, she is who she is. The secondary characters were what kept me interested though and the great little nuances Cole adds to the world she's crafted. I was particularly delighted by Lanthe, Thronus, the Hag and Nix is great as always but I found that Lothaire in particular stole any scene he's in.

None of these things makes `Kiss of a Demon King' a particularly bad book, this is a five star series and Cole is a great writer, furthermore all the elements are there; sensuality, darkness even a little gore, wonderful world building and the whole book exudes a quirky sassy attitude. But for me there was something unsatisfying about the dynamics of the book and the characters interaction with each other that made me feel as if something was lacking ...oh well this is a personal thing I'm sure and I wouldn't want to put anyone off, it's different to Cole's other books and therefore worth reading. Besides the series hasn't deteriorated but it has altered its format and Cole throws some decent curve balls, there is in particular a interesting surprise for those who have read Gena Showalter's `Lords of the Underworld' series (though this could be tricky pulling off as the two series are based on different mythologies after all). But the bottom line is that Kresley Cole's got style and that is what will always make these books worth reading.

Freedoms Landing (The Catteni Sequence)
Freedoms Landing (The Catteni Sequence)
by Anne McCaffrey
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A well paced, nicely developed sci-fi read that's highly enjoyable, 14 Dec 2008
The Catteni race have travelled across the universe taking over various worlds and establishing dominion over the people inhabiting them. When they arrived on Earth straight away they removed some of its people taking them to other worlds as slaves and workers, they also stayed on Earth to govern the remaining civilisation with a forceful hand.

Some of the humans taken from Earth and placed on alien worlds are taken again and `upgraded' from slaves and prisoners to lab rats. To find new habitable planets the Catteni take a selection of different species and place then on a prospective new world, they leave them there with the bare essentials and don't interfere, only returning years later to see how the differing life forms have faired. If any have survived the Catteni take control of the planet. One of these humans is Kris, she gets taken along with a Catteni male - Zainal - whilst trying to save his life. She becomes a key player in running the new settlement, whilst trying to survive she must unlock the secrets of Botany and those of Zaniel, the Catteni who she feels drawn to but doesn't understand.

Although there are various troubles and mysteries for the assorted settlers it seems like the perfect Utopia. The planet on which they are placed becomes a symbol for a new way of living, a world that they can name, can shape, can idealise with all the thrills of a new beginning, where different alien races away from the control and distain of the Catteni can live together and make their own civilisation. This civilisation is based around cooperation and agriculture, to survive they must understand and work with the land. What supports this further is the cultivated look of the landscape when they first arrive and the strange presence of silos and farming equipment. The land has clearly been tended too prior to their arrival; the settlers call the life forms behind the phenomenon `The Farmers'. Not terribly subtle but it gives the book a clear sense of self; the author intends for this way of living and the situation the people are in to emphasis the importance of working in harmony with the land you're in and with the races you share it with.

McCaffrey excels at a gentler type of sci-fi akin to Zenna Henderson's writings, where the importance of community, children and the land is enforced, in her work you'll find that utopias can be attained, although the results can sometimes be a little soft. There are quite strong messages here; the theme of freedom against mindless progression, dominion and superior minded prejudice against `the other' is clear, though the depiction of humanity against the other races is at times vaguely annoying; the evils of mans inhumanity towards man and nature is mainly reflected in the actions of the Catteni and Eoshi in comparison the men are somewhat glorified in McCaffrey's narrative in the extent of their resourcefulness and how they take the lead in establishing a community, in comparison the aliens are either evil, stupid or insipid - with the excemption of Zenial - on Botany but the message is still clear, that when you have found and to an extent created a world which embodies a cause, an ideal and a dream worth fighting for, you should with everything you have.

Dead Set [DVD]
Dead Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jaime Winstone
Price: 4.50

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly unforgiving few hours of TV!, 2 Nov 2008
This review is from: Dead Set [DVD] (DVD)
I watched the feature length version and I have to say I was gripped by the scares, the gore, the violence, the language not to mention the concept which was the reason for me wanting to see this as frankly I get a bit bored with Zombie films, they're a bit of a one trick pony, having only one real message and overdone set pieces and scenarios. But I thought this was worth watching as I liked the idea that the last bastion for humanity would be the Big Brother house, a magnet for the ridiculous in our society; and Broker shows them all here, if a bit stereotypically...we've got an idiot, a slut, a politically incorrect Jade Goody type and a brawn over brains fellow all of who want to make it. Then there are the others who are attracted to the show to `change things from the inside'; the hippy `TV is wrong and our media frenzy consumer public is out of control' older man, and then two others with more sense that play the race and sexuality card. Broker has it all here and he exploits these characters with relish, he really doesn't hold back.

The first hour is very well made; the set up is finely crafted, with good pacing, nice character set ups, the whole Big Brother frenzy is well done, Davina is great and the tension is gripping. The whole thing is very loose on explanation, though as Broker goes down the route of horror instead of sci-fi that doesn't matter much. Unfortunately after the first hour the pacing does get a bit floppy, little happens and the plot developments become rather laboured and predictable, though the ending sequence picks things up again and the horrible but entertaining producer Patrick becomes the star of the show.

Although I enjoyed the concept, the message was less than compelling, this was done as others have said in `Dawn of the Dead' very well, Broker doesn't really develop the point, in fact the very last shot directly makes the link between reality TV and shopping centres with a nation that is turning into `zombies', although this wasn't new it was pretty good and I felt like this was the shot Broker wanted to make the series to do.

Though watching this I wasn't completely brought into the world created, I got snapped out of it a few times, firstly because although the acting was good, I don't fault any - Jaime Winstone in particular sold her performance - but they were sometimes a bit too over the top. But most importantly the zombies behaviour was unconvincing for a number of reasons - I tend to pick at zombie films and this was no different - firstly the hand slapping routine they perform was pretty rubbish also if they are killing for the simple compulsion to feed then they would eat the flesh available not spend hours trying to slap a door down when there is meat right by their feet. Other reviewers have said this is a rip off of 28 days later because of the running zombies and messed up eyes, personally the use of this in this and the re-make of `Dawn of the Dead' really irritates me because these are corpses, they desire flesh from the living to fulfil the need to have life inside them and as they are dead should like with traditional shuffling zombies be subjugated to rigor mortis and decomposition. Boyle got away with this because his aren't actually zombies, they are living humans infected with rage and therefore don't want to eat flesh but tear it to pieces. Yes lightning fast zombies are scarier but only if they've been thought through, Brokers look more like living monsters with all the snorting and huffing and puffing and although the make-up is very good, I wasn't sold.

All in all this is definitely worth watching, I'm too picky for my own good but I still thought this was pretty scary and a good piece of horror TV even if Broker pinches most things and satires the rest, the former being boorish and the latter occasionally funny. Yes there are many clichés but I think this is meant to be highly generic and who cares as long as they are employed to good effect (cliché doesn't need to be a dirty word) with some nice little touches also this definitely makes the most out of the Big Brother concept. Anyway I enjoyed it and recommend.

The Happening [DVD] [2008]
The Happening [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Mark Wahlberg
Price: 2.70

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The whole nation will be cooing to their plants...probably, 31 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Happening [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I was utterly gripped by the films opening it's incredibly disturbing but the film as a whole lacks coherence which leaves me standing on middle ground. The film follows earnest school teacher Elliot and his disillusioned wife Alma as they desperately try to flee the east coast to escape what appears to be some kind of viral attack only to find themselves smack bam in the middle of the danger zone.

Strange occurrences similar to what occurs in The Happening do well happen; plants can communicate with each other and evolve to target specific species although the consequences are undoubtedly silly for endangering the planet in the film, plants are damaged by the effects of our actions not the action itself, therefore the close-ups of leaves and the indication that the plants could detect how many people were near them seemed to be an ineffective point.

But I did find some of the scientific and social points the film explored interesting; most new scientific theories are based on opinions and therefore are hard to prove. The unwillingness of the world to comprehend the scientific importance of our effect on the environment leads to the disaster and the refusal to put trust in a theory of what and why it happened and therefore change our actions leads to the unoptimistic ending. The occurrence is shrugged off as just one of those things, a freak of nature, the effect isn't terribly poignant but it did get me thinking about the issue.

This is by no means a brilliant film and as it has been addressed by other reviewers definitely not Shyamalan's best, but I did like it, it's strange and compelling and genuinely chilling in places and although it doesn't pull off being challenging it does make some interesting points, sadly these go hand in hand with some truly silly scenes. Sometimes your laughing at the rather funny moments in the writing (think Wahlberg trying to reason with a plastic plant) at other times it's the horrific aspects that just don't work.

Other reviewers have seen problems with in the acting but I didn't find myself troubled by any performance whilst viewing, although this isn't Walberg's best performance, I can see what he was trying to do and as the film rides on him I felt he keeps it up.

Considering the bleak subject matter there is an element of tongue and cheek in the writing and in the performances that I think the film would have been worst of without, I wouldn't go so far as to say that these moments make the horrific scenes more effective, the films to disjointed for that but I think I would have missed the bizarre quality of the film that these things generate, I don't think that having the writing and acting more polished would make this film better as there's oddities and matters of contempt in most aspects of this film, I therefore suggest you watch this film, because it's worth a viewing and just take it for what it is...and enjoy the madness.

The X Files: I Want To Believe (1 Disc Edition with Exclusive Free X Files Poster) [DVD]
The X Files: I Want To Believe (1 Disc Edition with Exclusive Free X Files Poster) [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Duchovny
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 5.74

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A believer and a sceptic, 31 Oct 2008
As my title suggests I'm in two minds about this film, if you consider the pacing, narrative, special effects and the overall purpose of the film, it isn't very good but I do appreciate its themes and the cinematography and the overall atmosphere that is created.

Carter never liked to do what was expected of him, he tended to follow his own intuitions and it worked for the series making them fresh, interesting and utterly compelling, allowing them to run for so long and have such a devoted fan base. I'm one of those fans, I love the series and appreciated where it was left in the last episode; the date was set, the invasion inevitable, the FBI was overrun with alien agents and our two heroes were on the run. The series was driven by more than just Scully's devoted faith in science and Mulder's desperate belief in the paranormal it was also about the escalation of unstoppable forces and unknowable entities, religion played a massive part in the complex mythology as well. What that last episode seemed to say quite poignantly was that you can seek the truth but you can't stop the inevitable though what you can do is put faith in the unknowable, in forces greater than yourself. With this in mind what's been done with the film is hard to justify. It carries along this sentiment, but it doesn't develop it. The film by turns stagnates and goes back on itself.

The film begins with Mulder in hiding and Scully working at a hospital, their living together, but when an agent goes missing rather strangely the FBI, that's populated as I've said by vicious alien agents decide they need Mulders help, the man that they so wanted destroyed.

This Mulder we're presented with seems to have reverted back three series, ignoring the closure he received in the aptly named `closure' he is looking for his sister again, Scully even accused him at one point that every thing he is doing is because of her, a line very similar to this was used in the first series, it has no place here, it's utterly irrelevant. Maybe Carter is trying to say something, or else he is hoping to give perspective viewers of the series a key motivation of Mulder's.

Also although Mulder and Scully's relationship is nicely developed in some senses; their actively together and they share some moving conversations about William (their son, which they were forced to give away) and in particular an end scene "I think it's the darkness that always finds us", in many ways this also goes back about three series, from the seventh series Mulder and Scully's beliefs had started to align this sees them sharing arguments similar to those in the first few series, with Scully refusing to acknowledge anything supernatural without scientific proof and Mulder being the unreasoning man we knew before he laid down the troubles he had accumulated over him sisters disappearance. But Duchovny and Anderson continue to have great chemistry.

The film takes the format of a supernatural thriller; it is successful in being tense. But it's in no way mysterious as the villains are clearly shown. The cinematography of the desolate snow filled spaces is compelling and the dank interiors are well shot. But the pacing is patchy at best. Scully's scenes concerning a difficult patient are disruptive to the narrative flow although they do lend support to the importance of faith.

This film doesn't feel as if it has been made for fans, but to entice a whole new generation to the series, this is probably why it doesn't develop the mythology. From a marketing point of view and looking at the script this doesn't make sense, the themes aren't easily unearthed especially if you haven't seen the series. In fact the whole narrative has the feel of an overly long weaker than average episode of the series, something that isn't going to garner much interest from cinema goers. Carter excelled at weaving action packed mythology episodes of the likes of `713' and `Patient X' with brilliantly entertaining stand alones like `Triangle' and `Fight Club' and this isn't a great way to end the saga, yes it does mix science, paranormal and religious aspects but the paranormal comes in the form of a tortured physic, played by an unexpectedly good Billy Connolly, this doesn't incite the magnitude I was hoping for, the subject has been covered many times in series with better scripts driving it. In this it's simply used to detect the movements of a crazy group of scientist's performing outrageous experiments with stem cell surgery. I just think if your not going to put the effort into creating a great script, that develops and enhances the series, don't bother. Though I was rather excited by the strange undulating inky patterns in the background of the credits, they seemed evocative of black oil and I thought maybe there was more to the film than meets the eye, that Carter had something else planned, but it's very likely that another film will be made and people have convinced me that it was just snow. But I will still watch this as part of a series that I love as it's a good if not entirely relevant film.
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