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The Cabin In The Woods [DVD]
The Cabin In The Woods [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Hemsworth
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant PARODY of horror films, with one good joke every ten seconds, some funny twists and a very good great finale. Enjoy!, 12 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Cabin In The Woods [DVD] (DVD)
This is a very amusing and clever PARODY of monster/slasher horror films and I had great time watching it, even if I liked "Scream" and "Tucker and Dale versus evil" more. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Once upon a time five young people go for a weekend to an isolated, old creepy cabin in the woods to spend some... hmm... let's call it "quality time"... Those five are the perfect representation of stereotypic victims of zombies, maniacs, monsters, ghosts, creatures, aliens, beasts, spirits, apparitions, entities, etc. which usually hunt to death young Americans everytime they step out of their comfort zone (at least in films) and therefore in the group we have:

- The Slut, a.k.a. Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), a girl who can make out even with a wolf...
- The Jock, a.k.a. Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth), a walking mountain of hot testosterone
- The Geek, a.k.a. Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), a deceptively decent and supposedly shy guy
- The Moron, a.k.a. Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz), an abominable pot head, inventor of world's biggest bong...
- and of course, last but not least, The Virgin, a.k.a. Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly) ("A virgin? Me?" "Well, we work with what we have")

As usual in this kind of movie, from the first moment those five young people arrive to the cabin in the woods, they are being watched by some (IM)PURE EVIL...))) Of course, this film being a PARODY, this (IM)PURE EVIL is not exactly what we expect...))) And I am not saying anything more.

Let's stress it again - from the first scene of the film it is said LOUD AND CLEAR: THIS IS A PARODY! This film is NOT SUPPOSED to be scary, but to make us laugh by MERCILESSLY MOCKING all the clichés of the monster/slasher horror flicks. Of course some people die (a lot in fact) and yes, there are some monsters (a lot in fact) and yes, there is blood and gore (a lot in fact) and yes, there is darkness and ancient legends (a lot in fact) - and all of this is there just to make us laugh (a lot in fact).

The trasures of this film are many, the greatest of which are the dialogs and especially all the sarcastic comments of (IM)PURE EVIL people who are watching the five young people in the cabin in the woods. Senior Technicians Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford), who are amongst the most experienced veterans of all (IM)PURE EVIL staff dealing with the cabin in the woods, are a particular delight...)))

At one moment Sigourney Weaver appears, but I am not saying here what is her character - you will have to discover it by yourself. I just want to say that even if in this film the girl is pushing 65 and could be easily a grandmother, well, Dear Lord, is this woman HOT! Here, I said it.

If you pay good attention you may find also Jodelle Ferland amongst the cast - she makes just a cameo here, but it is a nicely done one.

The film of course mocks mostly American horror films, but it also takes a big shot at some Japanese or Japanese inspired horrors, like "Ringu"/ "The ring" and "Ju-on"/"The grudge". It is a short fragment of the film but it is one of my most favourite scenes - I almost cracked my ribs at that moment...)))

Bottom line this is an excellent, clever and extremely funny PARODY of horror films, worth every penny it may cost. It is however important to be aware of the fact this is a PARODY, because if you try to watch this film as a real horror movie, you will be extremely disappointed. So turn your merriment antennae to maximum reception, forget all seriousness, enjoy and have a merry good laugh.


The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction (Paperback)) Dozois, Gardner ( Author ) Jun-23-2009 Paperback
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction (Paperback)) Dozois, Gardner ( Author ) Jun-23-2009 Paperback
by Gardner Dozois
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Of carnivorous spaceships, crabby AIs, pennywise robots, sharpshooting mares and rat operated computers-SF in Year of Grace 2008, 5 Aug 2014
For this collection Gardner Dozois selected SF stories which he considered as best amongst those published in 2008. The one from previous year was very honest and this one is mostly on the same high level of quality, in fact even slightly better as there is a lesser number of weak stories.

As in earlier anthologies, for this one Gardner Dozois selected stories which he considered as the best or most important of the given year. This collection includes also an overview of what happened in SF (largely understood) in 2008 and at the end there is also the very useful section of "honourable mentions" - stories which couldn't be selected for this collection because of lack of space (and this is already a HUGE book!), but which were also of good quality.

Most stories are good, honest, solid stuff, with six being VERY GOOD: "Boojum", "Crystal nights", "Balancing accounts", "Days of wonder", "City of the dead", "The Ray Gun: a love story".

On another hand for my personal taste there were only three stinkers: "The political prisoner", "The voyage out" and "The tear".

The remaining stories range from "good" to "readable".

That being said, as for the 2007 anthology, I cannot rate this collection five stars, mostly because of a generally depressed and pessimistic mood in most of those stories. There is not even one amongst them in which we could find at least an ounce of exhilarating joy that is usually associated (at least for me) with the exploration of new possibilities, new horizons, new discoveries, new knowledge; in fact there is virtually no joy associated with anything. It sounds almost as all modern SF was written by a bunch of terminal cancer patients for a public made of masochists enjoying chronic depression

Linked to the previous point, there is also an almost absolute lack of humour in those series; only in ""The Ray Gun: a love story" we may find some lighter moments.

Below, more of my impressions about every story, with some limited SPOILERS:
-----------------------------------------
"Turing's Apples" by Stephen Baxter – two estranged brothers join forces to decode the first signal received from an extra-terrestrial intelligent race; as one of them is a total @hole, this will be a bumpy ride… A honest, GOOD, original story.

"From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled" by Michael Swanwick – on an alien planet a human ambassador becomes an involuntary witness to a horrible war between two local alien nations… As always with this writer, the story has many weird elements (I wouldn't try to learn economy or sociology from it) but here this factor is at least kept under some control. An interesting and quite clever description of local (VERY alien) ecosystem and of aliens themselves add extra value to it. A honest, GOOD, original story.

"The Gambler" by Paolo Bacigalupi – a Laotian emigrant working in USA as internet journalist muses over his past and tries to make a living when remaining faithful to his father's legacy; a very, very well written story, but which rubbed me in the wrong way for three reasons: 1) it terminally panders to global warming hysteria 2) the ending is abysmally idiotic 3) in this story Laos is ruled by a totalitarian regime which is a restored monarchy and the exiles are nostalgic of "happy times" of Laos Democratic Popular Republic – the only problem is that in REAL world, right now, Laos Democratic Popular Republic is an abject, totalitarian, violent, ruthless, corrupt communist regime and the whole Lao royal family and most of aristocracy were mercilessly exterminated soon after Vietnamese Army tanks brought Lao communists to power in 1975… Why not make the main character a political refugee running from the very real communist dictatorship? Was author afraid that it will mark him as not "progressive" enough? Still all this notwithstanding, a GOOD story,

"Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette – in a distant future a crew of bloodthirsty, murderous space pirates roams the far reaches of Solar System on board of their carnivorous space ship…; this is a very original, clever, well written, EXCELLENT, BRILLIANT story, combining very well the traditional pirate lore (and all its clichés) with space opera and even a very well done tribute to H.P. Lovecraft! TO READ ABSOLUTELY!

"The Six Directions of Space" by Alastair Reynolds – a long, well written novella about a space empire centred around Earth which is ruled since XV century by Mongol Empire…))) One day, travellers from alternate time line appear… A GOOD, honest story, but of course deep fried in political correctness – in the alternate reality there is an enlightened, benevolent, highly civilized Islamic caliphate and extremely vicious, murderous Christian empire…

"N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka – one day Neanderthalians were cloned and therefore brought back from extinction. Surprisingly, it appears quickly they are superior to us in absolutely every single aspect and that finally creates tensions… Although this story mixes political correctness with vicious racism and also by moments sounds like a far left pamphlet against American religious right, it is well written and is definitely a GOOD, honest thing – it also certainly leaves a dent in the reader's psyche… One thing however I didn't buy at all, which was the explanation why those Palaeolithic "Übermenschen", so infinitely stronger and more intelligent than our ancestors, got extinct when "Homo sapiens sapiens" endured (author gives an explanation, but it is totally ludicrous…)

"An Eligible Boy" by Ian McDonald – another story in authors long running series about future high-tech India (this cycle began with the excellent "Little goddess" three years earlier); in this one a young, successful, hardworking, well looking man, searches more and more desperately for a wife, in a society in which there is one marriageable woman for four eligible bachelors… A GOOD, interesting story.

"Shining Armour" by Dominic Green – this actually is a kind of science fiction western, in which in a distant future a small human village on a distant planet is threatened by some unsavoury characters – and as the rule of law collapsed long time ago it is up to a lonely hero to save the day…))) A GOOD, solid story.

"The Hero" by Karl Schroeder – this story is part of the Virga cycle (Virga being an artificial planet inside which lives a huge human population) and is about a rather average guy (with huge daddy issues) who wants to save the world – and is actually one of the very few people aware how much this particular world needs saving…; A GOOD, solid, original story.

"Evil Robot Monkey" by Mary Robinette Kowal – very short but well written and quite emotional story about an "upgraded" chimp and his human handler. A GOOD, solid story.

"Five Thrillers" by Robert Reed – in a distant future a very ambitious, brilliant and handsome but also very unpleasant sociopath goes through life like a hot knife cuts through butter; interesting, disturbing and also thought provoking… A GOOD, solid story.

"The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black" by Jay Lake – a story as freakishly weird as its title suggests, about a guy who once committed a great sin and now pays for it; READABLE, but nothing more.

"Incomers" by Paul McAuley – in a distant future, after a war ravaged most of the Solar System, a bunch of teenagers living on a settlement on Rhea (one of Saturn's moons) start to suspect that one of their neighbours is either a spy or a war criminal in hiding… A READABLE story, although probably targeting mostly teenage readers.

"Crystal Nights" by Greg Egan – a multi-billionaire genius creates an artificial universe in order to develop by evolution the first real AI… Although I don't usually like this author's texts, this story I actually found VERY GOOD! A recommended reading.

"The Egg Man" by Mary Rosenblum – this is one of those stories which ride the global warming hysteria; in a near future, a very special relief worker from Mexico visits isolated human enclaves in southern parts of USA, a country completely devastated by climate change… A READABLE thing, nothing more.

"His Master's Voice" by Hannu Rajaniemi – an "upgraded" dog and an "upgraded " cat have to work as team to save their beloved human master, who was kidnapped by some rather generic villains… An original, READABLE thing.

"The Political Prisoner" by Charles Coleman Finlay – "progressist" SF writers never tried to denounce Soviet Union and especially always avoided any mention of its concentration camps and its use of slave labour; but now that Soviet Union is dead this author decided finally to describe a Soviet style "gulag" – created and run on another planet by American Christian right wingers who escaped from Earth… Although counting only 45 pages this is a long-winded, boring, seemingly unending novella piling secret plots and manipulations one after another until it all turns into a completely absurd mess. I didn't like that one at all. AVOID!

"Balancing Accounts" by James L. Cambias – a hardworking, very honest robot space ship, just trying to make a buck for its owners, receives an unusual business proposal – trouble will follow… This is an EXCELLENT, very well written, very original "old style" SF story – and I LOVED it! Enjoy!

"Special Economics" by Maureen McHugh – a not entirely successful attempt at describing the rapid transformation of China, as seen by a dirt poor female migrant worker; as usual with this very gifted writer the story is well written – but it is hardly SF at all, the plot is rather ridiculous and there doesn't seem to be any point in the whole story… I usually like Maureen McHugh's writings but here, exceptionally, I must rate this story only as READABLE, nothing more.

"Days of Wonder" by Geoff Ryman – in a distant future humans are no more and Earth was inherited by their profoundly transformed descendants, whom we would mostly have problems to recognize… This is the story of Leveza, an intelligent and unusually curious female of one of those Successor species, and of her quest for Old Knowledge. I was very IMPRESSED by this extremely original and BRILLIANT story! A RECOMMENDED READING!

"City of the Dead" by Paul McAuley – another space western – and this one is even better than "Shining Armor"; on a distant planet, in a remote human settlement a retired woman soldier accepts the job of town sheriff; of course soon after that she will have to face some extremely unpleasant, gun wielding goons, who came to her town with evil intentions – and one of those is actually an old acquaintance of hers… A VERY GOOD, very original and quite surprising thing. ENJOY!

"The Voyage Out" by Gwyneth Jones – in some distant future people considered as "criminal elements" by totalitarian dictatorship ruling Earth are send as colonists to distant worlds using some extremely weird way of travelling (I am not certain if I understood how it works); the narrator is a lesbian and for that reason was sentenced to death – a sentence which was changed into permanent exile… At least if I understood it correctly. In this chaotic and unpleasant story virtually nothing makes sense and nothing is explained to the end – for my personal taste this is the SECOND WORST story in the collection. AVOID!

"The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm" by Daryl Gregory – a strange but certainly original story showing the suffering of common people trapped in the middle of confrontation between "super heroes" and "super villains"… A GOOD, honest story.

"G-Men" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch – an alternate history tale in which, sometime after JFK assassination, RFK and LBJ face an unprecedented crisis – and the gigantic, threatening shadow of J. Edgar Hoover and especially of his "personal" archives hovers over them… A GOOD, solid, well written story.

"The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress – a good, long novella about some very old people who start experiencing something really strange, powerful and dangerous – but also marvellous…; this one is somehow lesser than the usually excellent stories by this author, but still it is a GOOD, solid story. An extremely rare thing to signal here, highly unusual both for Gardner Dozois collections and Nancy Kress stories – in this story appears a really clever and likeable police detective and not only that, but he is a white heterosexual male (a creature more usually designed as cause of everything that is wrong with the world…)…

"Old Friends" by Garth Nix – a strange and somehow unclear story about a man (creature?) on the run, chased by some extremely unpleasant supernatural enemies… A READABLE thing.

"The Ray Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner – a BRILLIANT story about an alien weapon which fell on earth and everything that followed; an EXCELLENT, intelligent story, extremely well written and with a perfect ending. ENJOY!

"Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues" by Gord Sellar – world's best jazzmen, all Black, are invited by aliens to perform on board of their spaceships… The gig pays well, you can see the whole Solar System and there are even some White women provided… But of course, there is always a catch… An interesting, well written story – but with quite a lot of completely unrepentant anti-White racism… Nevertheless, this is a GOOD, honest story.

"Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" by Aliette de Bodard – in an alternate history world part of China separated from the rest of the Empire and then welcomed some Aztec refugees after Mexica Empire was destroyed by a horrible civil war; those refugees have many problems to adapt, even when, like the female narrator of the story, they managed to find prestigious, highly paid jobs in public administrations… A promising Aztec artist was murdered and the narrator of the story is charged with investigation. She will not like what she finds… A GOOD, honest story.

"The Tear" by Ian McDonald – on a distant alien planet people who colonized it had to adapt and as result they developed a culture so freakishly weird and complicated that I couldn't understand anything from it, for want of a dictionary of alien terms and some chronology of local history; this 42 pages thing is the WORST story in the collection, as author created a universe so complex that he is the only one who can fully understand its rules… Throw in some obscene language and quasi-pornographic masturbatory fantasies and you get the picture… I got so lost in the middle that I finally surrendered before the end and therefore this is the only story in the collection I couldn't finish. AVOID AT ALL PRICE this boring pile of nonsense!
-----------------------------------
CONCLUSION: a 4.5 stars collection, on a good, solid, honest level of quality. ENJOY!


The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction (Paperback))
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction (Paperback))
by Gardner Dozois
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Of carnivorous spaceships, crabby AIs, pennywise robots, sharpshooting mares and rat operated computers-SF in Year of Grace 2008, 5 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For this collection Gardner Dozois selected SF stories which he considered as best amongst those published in 2008. The one from previous year was very honest and this one is mostly on the same high level of quality, in fact even slightly better as there is a lesser number of weak stories.

As in earlier anthologies, for this one Gardner Dozois selected stories which he considered as the best or most important of the given year. This collection includes also an overview of what happened in SF (largely understood) in 2008 and at the end there is also the very useful section of "honourable mentions" - stories which couldn't be selected for this collection because of lack of space (and this is already a HUGE book!), but which were also of good quality.

Most stories are good, honest, solid stuff, with six being VERY GOOD: "Boojum", "Crystal nights", "Balancing accounts", "Days of wonder", "City of the dead", "The Ray Gun: a love story".

On another hand for my personal taste there were only three stinkers: "The political prisoner", "The voyage out" and "The tear".

The remaining stories range from "good" to "readable".

That being said, as for the 2007 anthology, I cannot rate this collection five stars, mostly because of a generally depressed and pessimistic mood in most of those stories. There is not even one amongst them in which we could find at least an ounce of exhilarating joy that is usually associated (at least for me) with the exploration of new possibilities, new horizons, new discoveries, new knowledge; in fact there is virtually no joy associated with anything. It sounds almost as all modern SF was written by a bunch of terminal cancer patients for a public made of masochists enjoying chronic depression

Linked to the previous point, there is also an almost absolute lack of humour in those series; only in ""The Ray Gun: a love story" we may find some lighter moments.

Below, more of my impressions about every story, with some limited SPOILERS:
-----------------------------------------
"Turing's Apples" by Stephen Baxter – two estranged brothers join forces to decode the first signal received from an extra-terrestrial intelligent race; as one of them is a total @hole, this will be a bumpy ride… A honest, GOOD, original story.

"From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled" by Michael Swanwick – on an alien planet a human ambassador becomes an involuntary witness to a horrible war between two local alien nations… As always with this writer, the story has many weird elements (I wouldn't try to learn economy or sociology from it) but here this factor is at least kept under some control. An interesting and quite clever description of local (VERY alien) ecosystem and of aliens themselves add extra value to it. A honest, GOOD, original story.

"The Gambler" by Paolo Bacigalupi – a Laotian emigrant working in USA as internet journalist muses over his past and tries to make a living when remaining faithful to his father's legacy; a very, very well written story, but which rubbed me in the wrong way for three reasons: 1) it terminally panders to global warming hysteria 2) the ending is abysmally idiotic 3) in this story Laos is ruled by a totalitarian regime which is a restored monarchy and the exiles are nostalgic of "happy times" of Laos Democratic Popular Republic – the only problem is that in REAL world, right now, Laos Democratic Popular Republic is an abject, totalitarian, violent, ruthless, corrupt communist regime and the whole Lao royal family and most of aristocracy were mercilessly exterminated soon after Vietnamese Army tanks brought Lao communists to power in 1975… Why not make the main character a political refugee running from the very real communist dictatorship? Was author afraid that it will mark him as not "progressive" enough? Still all this notwithstanding, a GOOD story,

"Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette – in a distant future a crew of bloodthirsty, murderous space pirates roams the far reaches of Solar System on board of their carnivorous space ship…; this is a very original, clever, well written, EXCELLENT, BRILLIANT story, combining very well the traditional pirate lore (and all its clichés) with space opera and even a very well done tribute to H.P. Lovecraft! TO READ ABSOLUTELY!

"The Six Directions of Space" by Alastair Reynolds – a long, well written novella about a space empire centred around Earth which is ruled since XV century by Mongol Empire…))) One day, travellers from alternate time line appear… A GOOD, honest story, but of course deep fried in political correctness – in the alternate reality there is an enlightened, benevolent, highly civilized Islamic caliphate and extremely vicious, murderous Christian empire…

"N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka – one day Neanderthalians were cloned and therefore brought back from extinction. Surprisingly, it appears quickly they are superior to us in absolutely every single aspect and that finally creates tensions… Although this story mixes political correctness with vicious racism and also by moments sounds like a far left pamphlet against American religious right, it is well written and is definitely a GOOD, honest thing – it also certainly leaves a dent in the reader's psyche… One thing however I didn't buy at all, which was the explanation why those Palaeolithic "Übermenschen", so infinitely stronger and more intelligent than our ancestors, got extinct when "Homo sapiens sapiens" endured (author gives an explanation, but it is totally ludicrous…)

"An Eligible Boy" by Ian McDonald – another story in authors long running series about future high-tech India (this cycle began with the excellent "Little goddess" three years earlier); in this one a young, successful, hardworking, well looking man, searches more and more desperately for a wife, in a society in which there is one marriageable woman for four eligible bachelors… A GOOD, interesting story.

"Shining Armour" by Dominic Green – this actually is a kind of science fiction western, in which in a distant future a small human village on a distant planet is threatened by some unsavoury characters – and as the rule of law collapsed long time ago it is up to a lonely hero to save the day…))) A GOOD, solid story.

"The Hero" by Karl Schroeder – this story is part of the Virga cycle (Virga being an artificial planet inside which lives a huge human population) and is about a rather average guy (with huge daddy issues) who wants to save the world – and is actually one of the very few people aware how much this particular world needs saving…; A GOOD, solid, original story.

"Evil Robot Monkey" by Mary Robinette Kowal – very short but well written and quite emotional story about an "upgraded" chimp and his human handler. A GOOD, solid story.

"Five Thrillers" by Robert Reed – in a distant future a very ambitious, brilliant and handsome but also very unpleasant sociopath goes through life like a hot knife cuts through butter; interesting, disturbing and also thought provoking… A GOOD, solid story.

"The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black" by Jay Lake – a story as freakishly weird as its title suggests, about a guy who once committed a great sin and now pays for it; READABLE, but nothing more.

"Incomers" by Paul McAuley – in a distant future, after a war ravaged most of the Solar System, a bunch of teenagers living on a settlement on Rhea (one of Saturn's moons) start to suspect that one of their neighbours is either a spy or a war criminal in hiding… A READABLE story, although probably targeting mostly teenage readers.

"Crystal Nights" by Greg Egan – a multi-billionaire genius creates an artificial universe in order to develop by evolution the first real AI… Although I don't usually like this author's texts, this story I actually found VERY GOOD! A recommended reading.

"The Egg Man" by Mary Rosenblum – this is one of those stories which ride the global warming hysteria; in a near future, a very special relief worker from Mexico visits isolated human enclaves in southern parts of USA, a country completely devastated by climate change… A READABLE thing, nothing more.

"His Master's Voice" by Hannu Rajaniemi – an "upgraded" dog and an "upgraded " cat have to work as team to save their beloved human master, who was kidnapped by some rather generic villains… An original, READABLE thing.

"The Political Prisoner" by Charles Coleman Finlay – "progressist" SF writers never tried to denounce Soviet Union and especially always avoided any mention of its concentration camps and its use of slave labour; but now that Soviet Union is dead this author decided finally to describe a Soviet style "gulag" – created and run on another planet by American Christian right wingers who escaped from Earth… Although counting only 45 pages this is a long-winded, boring, seemingly unending novella piling secret plots and manipulations one after another until it all turns into a completely absurd mess. I didn't like that one at all. AVOID!

"Balancing Accounts" by James L. Cambias – a hardworking, very honest robot space ship, just trying to make a buck for its owners, receives an unusual business proposal – trouble will follow… This is an EXCELLENT, very well written, very original "old style" SF story – and I LOVED it! Enjoy!

"Special Economics" by Maureen McHugh – a not entirely successful attempt at describing the rapid transformation of China, as seen by a dirt poor female migrant worker; as usual with this very gifted writer the story is well written – but it is hardly SF at all, the plot is rather ridiculous and there doesn't seem to be any point in the whole story… I usually like Maureen McHugh's writings but here, exceptionally, I must rate this story only as READABLE, nothing more.

"Days of Wonder" by Geoff Ryman – in a distant future humans are no more and Earth was inherited by their profoundly transformed descendants, whom we would mostly have problems to recognize… This is the story of Leveza, an intelligent and unusually curious female of one of those Successor species, and of her quest for Old Knowledge. I was very IMPRESSED by this extremely original and BRILLIANT story! A RECOMMENDED READING!

"City of the Dead" by Paul McAuley – another space western – and this one is even better than "Shining Armor"; on a distant planet, in a remote human settlement a retired woman soldier accepts the job of town sheriff; of course soon after that she will have to face some extremely unpleasant, gun wielding goons, who came to her town with evil intentions – and one of those is actually an old acquaintance of hers… A VERY GOOD, very original and quite surprising thing. ENJOY!

"The Voyage Out" by Gwyneth Jones – in some distant future people considered as "criminal elements" by totalitarian dictatorship ruling Earth are send as colonists to distant worlds using some extremely weird way of travelling (I am not certain if I understood how it works); the narrator is a lesbian and for that reason was sentenced to death – a sentence which was changed into permanent exile… At least if I understood it correctly. In this chaotic and unpleasant story virtually nothing makes sense and nothing is explained to the end – for my personal taste this is the SECOND WORST story in the collection. AVOID!

"The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm" by Daryl Gregory – a strange but certainly original story showing the suffering of common people trapped in the middle of confrontation between "super heroes" and "super villains"… A GOOD, honest story.

"G-Men" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch – an alternate history tale in which, sometime after JFK assassination, RFK and LBJ face an unprecedented crisis – and the gigantic, threatening shadow of J. Edgar Hoover and especially of his "personal" archives hovers over them… A GOOD, solid, well written story.

"The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress – a good, long novella about some very old people who start experiencing something really strange, powerful and dangerous – but also marvellous…; this one is somehow lesser than the usually excellent stories by this author, but still it is a GOOD, solid story. An extremely rare thing to signal here, highly unusual both for Gardner Dozois collections and Nancy Kress stories – in this story appears a really clever and likeable police detective and not only that, but he is a white heterosexual male (a creature more usually designed as cause of everything that is wrong with the world…)…

"Old Friends" by Garth Nix – a strange and somehow unclear story about a man (creature?) on the run, chased by some extremely unpleasant supernatural enemies… A READABLE thing.

"The Ray Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner – a BRILLIANT story about an alien weapon which fell on earth and everything that followed; an EXCELLENT, intelligent story, extremely well written and with a perfect ending. ENJOY!

"Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues" by Gord Sellar – world's best jazzmen, all Black, are invited by aliens to perform on board of their spaceships… The gig pays well, you can see the whole Solar System and there are even some White women provided… But of course, there is always a catch… An interesting, well written story – but with quite a lot of completely unrepentant anti-White racism… Nevertheless, this is a GOOD, honest story.

"Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" by Aliette de Bodard – in an alternate history world part of China separated from the rest of the Empire and then welcomed some Aztec refugees after Mexica Empire was destroyed by a horrible civil war; those refugees have many problems to adapt, even when, like the female narrator of the story, they managed to find prestigious, highly paid jobs in public administrations… A promising Aztec artist was murdered and the narrator of the story is charged with investigation. She will not like what she finds… A GOOD, honest story.

"The Tear" by Ian McDonald – on a distant alien planet people who colonized it had to adapt and as result they developed a culture so freakishly weird and complicated that I couldn't understand anything from it, for want of a dictionary of alien terms and some chronology of local history; this 42 pages thing is the WORST story in the collection, as author created a universe so complex that he is the only one who can fully understand its rules… Throw in some obscene language and quasi-pornographic masturbatory fantasies and you get the picture… I got so lost in the middle that I finally surrendered before the end and therefore this is the only story in the collection I couldn't finish. AVOID AT ALL PRICE this boring pile of nonsense!
-----------------------------------
CONCLUSION: a 4.5 stars collection, on a good, solid, honest level of quality. ENJOY!


Europa Report [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Europa Report [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Dan Fogler
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £6.30

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The crew of Europa One changed the core context in which all of humanity understands itself. They couldn't have achieved more",, 15 July 2014
This is a good SF film, one of best amongst those I saw recently. Not exactly a great masterpiece, but certainly a very honest, very intelligent and surprisingly original film. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

IMPORTANT PRECISION: this is the review of the Region 1 NTSC version, and therefore it will not play on Region 2 European equipment. There is also a Region 2 version available, released in Germany, with original soundtrack but it has no English subtitles.

Europa One is the name of the spacecraft which, in a near future, attempts the first manned space mission to another celestial body since the last Moon landing in 1972. Its destination is Jupiter's moon Europa. It carries a crew of six (four men and two women). This is an international mission, coordinated by a joint body called Europa Ventures, funded by USA, EU and Russia - and therefore the crew, if I understood correctly is composed of two Americans, two Europeans and two Russians.

The scheduled time of flight to Europa is 22 months. Once there the crew is supposed to divide, with some of them boarding the lander and some staying in the orbiter. Those who are expected to land are supposed to gather and analyse samples from the surface and then drill through the ice and explore the subglacial ocean with an unmanned robot probe. There are great hopes that life can be discovered in the ocean, because of heat signatures observed under the ice by previous unmanned missions (fictional ones as there were no probes send specifically to Europa in real life). All of this is just the introduction and covers like first five minutes - and about the rest I will say nothing more.

This is a SF film so of course it takes some liberties with reality and in fact we still don't know with certitude if there really is an ocean under Europa's ice crust... But still, this film tries to stick to real science and real reality as much as possible and therefore offers us a very, very pleasant experience for all amateurs of "nuts and bolts" SF. I must admit that I always liked this sub-genre, ever since I started to read SF as a kid in the 70s - and in the veritable deluge of super-hero film, horrors, space opera, alien invasions, time travels, alternate reality, post-apocalyptics, etc, etc. (which by the way I enjoy a lot too) this category of films seemed to disappear a little. It was therefore with great pleasure that I discovered recently two very good "nuts and bolts" SF films - the grandiose, spectacular "Gravity" and then this film, less flamboyant but nevertheless excellent.

It is fair to warn here that this is a slow film, which accelerates only towards the end - but still, I wasn't bored even for one minute. The story is also no-linear, so I would advise to watch it integrally because you may miss important bits, even in slower parts - if you want to leave the room to get more beer or popcorn, my sincere advice is to pause the film...

With the exception of Christian Camargo ("Dexter", "Twilight") actors who played crew members were unknown to me, but they did really an excellent job. It is worth to mention them here:

- Daniel Wu plays William Xu, an American who is the captain of the mission (after all this is an American film)
- Anamaria Marinca plays Rosa Dasque, the pilot of the ship (she is European and may or may not be French)
- Christian Camargo plays Daniel Luxembourg, chief science officer (another European who may or may not be French)
- Michael Nyqvist plays Andrei Blok, chief engineer, a Russian veteran who is also the oldest crew member
- Karolina Wydra plays Katya Petrovna, a Russian science officer (marine biologist)
- Sharlto Copley plays James Corrigan, an American who is the junior engineer

The story is also partly narrated by people from Europa Ventures who remained on Earth - amongst them one is played by Isiah Whitlock Jr., who made such a lasting impression as State Senator Clay Davis in "The Wire"...))) Another one is played by Dan Fogler ("Fanboys", Good luck Chuck"), who for once looks like a human being, wears some nice clothes and speaks without using obscenities in every sentence...)))

This film, albeit slow, builds up quite a tension from the beginning and as we learn to know better the crew members a heavy sense of foreboding develops. The great finale and the ending are very strong, unexpected and surprisingly moving.

"Europa Report" being in large part about ice crust covered with cracks and craters you can expect some plot holes - and of course there are some, but they don't really harm this film.

Bottom line, I found this film a very, very successful thing and I enjoyed watching it A LOT! A really, good, solid, classical "nuts and bolts" SF movie. ENJOY!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2014 10:16 AM BST


The Adjustment Bureau [DVD] [2011]
The Adjustment Bureau [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Matt Damon
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.96

3.0 out of 5 stars Clearly, a true love's kiss can reset even the Plan of Plans..., 15 July 2014
Inspired by Philip K. Dick short story "Adjustment Team", this is a watchable SF film, but nothing more. It could have been better with some more work on the scenario, but clearly this whole thing was made in a hurry and there was not enough time to adjust it...))) Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

This film is about a young congressman, David Norris (Matt Damon), who one day meets in rather unusual circumstances Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a young, very attractive dancer (it is important to precise that she dances ballet - exclusively). This short meeting develops almost immediately into a mutual fascination... Unfortunately, their meeting wasn't supposed to happen and was just an unfortunate glitch in the Great Master Plan of Reality - and this kind of thing calls for an adjustment by a special reality police, if necessary by some extreme measures... And then the film really begins.

This film is actually better than the original short story in which the "hero" was extremely pale, the romance was absent and the ending very anti-climactic. Here we can actually root for somebody and care about what will happen to David and Elise, who are indeed the perfect example of "star crossed lovers" and this film is in fact a kind of "romantic comedy" SF... The film is not excessively long, there are some smart twists and some humour and at the end I was rather pleased with this watching experience.

The film has however also some serious scenario weaknesses which hurt it a lot. Both main characters seem to be not fully designed, as if the scenarist didn't have enough time to finish them. David is actually a kind of pale, uninteresting guy - God knows why he seems to be such a success with voters... Elise seems to be a plucky, perky girl in the beginning but then her character slows down and withers with every next scene - in the second half of the film she barely speaks and when she does, the scenario hardly gives her the opportunity to say something interesting... In the first half an hour of film dialogs are quite honest, but then it changes radically... Also, by moments the whole romance between David and Elise seems a little bit articificial and forced - and let's not even talk about the immensely romantic place of their first meeting...

In a film which is all about rips and wrinkles in the reality fabric you can rightly expect a lot of plot holes and there is indeed a LOT of them - but somehow they don't do so much damage.

You will also definitely never look at people wearing hats in the same way as before you watched this movie...)))

Bottom line, this is a honest film, quite watchable but I would advise to rent rather than buy (as I did), because this is basically a thing to see once. Enjoy!


Colony [DVD]
Colony [DVD]
Dvd ~ Laurence Fishburne
Price: £4.91

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "You know you are scre--d when even rabbits won't f--k", 14 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Colony [DVD] (DVD)
If only I have listened to this warning, I would have saved 90 minutes of my life which I will never get back... Sadly, I didn't. I really wanted to like this film, but ultimately I couldn't. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

In near future weather machines were build to control the climate change - but they malfunctioned... One day it began to snow and never stopped since... Most humans perished and the few survivors live in underground bunkers to escape the extreme cold of new Ice Age. In one such outpost, Colony 7, led by former soldiers Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) and Mason (Bill Paxton), a distress radio signal is received from Colony 5 - which after that remains silent... As Colony 5 is linked by a pact of alliance with Colony 7, Briggs takes two men, Sam (Kevin Zegers) and young Graydon (Atticus Dean Mitchell) and together they go to see what assistance they can offer. They will not like what they find... And then the film really begins...

This Canadian 2013 post-apocalyptic SF/horror had some potential, as the initial idea was good and the settings (grim industrial sites lost in the middle of frozen wastelands) were well done. At 16 million USD budget was honorable for a small production and two good, well known actors (Fishburne and Paxton) were hired. However, almost all this potential was cruelly wasted, mostly because of weakness of scenario, which seems have been written on the knee, during a short break taken by the scenarist from his day time job (which I would advise him NOT to quit...) .

Everything in this film is a cliché and every single development can be anticipated like 10 minutes in advance. We are told who will be Ze Bad Guy (ZBG) in the first 30 seconds of the film (it is the character played by Bill Paxton) and just in case the first scene in the film doesn't identify ZBG clearly enough, oh, I don't know, let's just name him Mason, to make things more obvious...))) Dialogs are completely devoided of interest and the ONLY memorable line in the film is the one used as the title of this review. In fact, the writer of the scenario was so uncomfortable with dialogs, that just to save himself some effort he made certain that half of the characters are unable to speak at all...)))

Both renowned actors, Fishburne and Paxton, are completely wasted in this film - one (not saying which one) has not enough time screen and the other is asked to do and say things that he himself cannot believe he is doing/saying them, so stupid and illogical they are... The main female character, Kai (Charlotte Sullivan) is just there to make some figuration and the main male character, Sam, is so pale and banal, that I completely didn't care what will happen to him... There are some action scenes, but they are really so lame that I simply fast forwarded them. Finally, last but not least, absolutely NOTHING in the story ever makes sense and every time when a promising idea or development appears, the director just kills immediately the person who could carry them...

Bottom line, this film is a major disappointment and almost a case study about how NOT TO make films... Two stars only for some nice images of this frozen world - otherwise AVOID this thing as if it was Mutant Drug Resistant Ice Age Flu...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2014 3:34 PM BST


Retreat Hell [DVD] [1952] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Retreat Hell [DVD] [1952] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Richard Carlson
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £11.91

5.0 out of 5 stars "Retreat, hell! We're not retreating, we're just advancing in a different direction!", 14 July 2014
This is a war time propaganda film, but it is also a darn good one! Honestly, I think this is possibly the best film about Korean War that I saw until now (although I still have to see "A hill in Korea").

IMPORTANT PRECISION: this is a Region 1 NTSC DVD. It will NOT play on Region 2 European equipment.

1950. After the completely unexpected North Korean invasion of the south, American commanders struggle to assemble enough troops to stop the enemy and prevent the whole contry to fall prey to communists. Very much demobilised after Word War II the US Marines are hard pressed to gather even one division - and therefore all bottoms of all drawers are scraped. It is at that moment that a Marines reserve officer, Captain Paul Hansen (Richard Carlson), a veteran of WWII, is recalled to duty and, although he is a communication specialist, receives the command of an ad hoc company - composed in large part of green recruits... His company is part of a recently formed battalion, commanded by an extremely tough professional officer, Lt. Colonel Corbett (Frank Lovejoy). Immediately after the first roll call everybody, veterans as the new recruits, is send into a tough training... And then the film really begins.

This film, albeit not very long (94 minutes only) is very much filled with good fighting scenes (some of which use authentic fighting footage) and also quite honest dialogs. It shows the periple of one battalion (and especially one of its companies) all the way from the training camp to Inchon landing, battle for Seoul, pursuit towards Yalu river, the sudden Chinese counter offensive, the battle of Chosin and then the archi-famous fighting retreat to Hungnam. The title comes from the authentic quote by Major General Oliver B. Smith, who, once his forces were surrounded by the Chinese on all sides, answered to a question about the retreat: "Retreat, hell! We're not retreating, we're just advancing in a different direction!" - and indeed, his division had to fight and defeat Chinese troops in order to withdraw to safety...

The director and the scenarist had the great idea to take as main hero of this propaganda film a guy who is a reluctant warrior. Captain Hansen used to be a lieutenant and a good platoon leader in WWII and he performed well - but once war ended, he got married, found a good job, became father of two little girls and was a very happy civilian, when another war started... Hansen of course tries to make his job the best he can and he certainly is not a coward, but he is neither happy nor enthusiastic about all this business and his overriding priority is to get back home in one piece and if possible bring back unharmed as many of his men as he can... He also doesn't have any ambition for promotion, as he definitely doesn't want to continue his career in the military and so he is more interested in next mail arrival to hear news from home rather than honing his commanding skills... All of this makes him not so popular amongst other officers in the battalion, who are all professionals, but it also creates an interesting character - and he remains interesting AND mostly unchanged until his last moments of screen presence...

There are some other interesting characters in the company, including but not limited to a redneck fellow from deepest south of USA, whose ancestors fought for the Confederation in War Between States and who is all happy at the idea that after more than hundred years, US Marines Corps finally fights "on the right side"...))) But the most important single character is the youngest guy in the company, 17-years old Jimmy W. McDermid (Russ Tamblyn), an impossibly immature and silly kid, so delicately build and pretty, that he looks more like a young girl than a soldier - which may be an issue when you come from a military family in which EVERYBODY is either an active duty Marine or a hardened, grizzled, battle-scarred veteran of the Corps...)))

I appreciated a lot the care for details in fighting scenes, very much visible in Inchon landing and the whole fighting retreat, but ESPECIALLY, during the first battle against Chinese army. The human wave tactics, coordonated by the sound of bugles, are here shown in all its horror - indeed, Chinese communist commanders used their overwhelming advantage in numbers to throw wave after wave of light infantry at Americans, without any regard for the casualties, keeping just enough fresh troops in reserve for the moment when their enemies run out of munitions... Considering how thinly were stretched UN forces near Yalu river in the winter 1950 and how enormous was attacking Chinese army, it was a sound strategy - but its human cost was horrible (not that it mattered to Mao and his henchmen...). I also liked some slight touches of realism, like mistakes in English made by soldiers when writing inscriptions on their equipment (some of them were clearly much, much better at using guns than pens).

This film was made in 1952 when studios didn't have yet any Soviet weaponry (or even copies of it) available, therefore director decided to arm North Koreans and Chinese pictured in this film with some Japanese and German arms, to show clearly that their weapons were different from those used by Americans. I cannot say that I cared for that much, as seeing Nambu light machine guns (instead of Degtaryev DP) and MP-40 submachine guns (instead of PPSh-41) in hands of communist soldiers in Korea in 1950 may be a little surprising - but on another hand it is just a relatively minor detail.

The tone of the film is patriotic and optimistic, even if half of the film describes a bitter, figting retreat through a frozen hell. Me, I appreciated it A LOT, but if you are alergic to this kind of things, you should stay away from this film.

Bottom line, this is a VERY GOOD war film. I will absolutely keep my DVD for another viewing. ENJOY!


Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2-disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2-disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Carrey
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £8.98

3.0 out of 5 stars "All I ask is that you do each and every little thing that pops into my head while I enjoy the fortune your parents left behind", 10 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Both me and my 13 years old daughter we found this film watchable, although it is definitely a weird, funny tasting treat. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

IMPORTANT PRECISION: neither of us ever read any of the Lemony Snickett books, before watching this film or since...

After their parents die in a suspicious fire, three orphaned Baudelaire children are entrusted to their closest relative, Count Olaf (Jim Carey). Those children are:

- Violet Baudelaire (Emily Browning), a clever 14 years old damzel who is a natural born inventor
- Klaus (Liam Aiken), slightly younger than Emily, a clever book-wormish type
- Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) is just a 2 years old toddler, mostly interested in chewing things...)))

It is quite quickly revealed that Count Olaf, a very unsuccessful (although surprisingly gifted) actor is an unsavory character and his intentions are of most evil nature... And then the film really begins.

This is by no means a bad film and in fact there are many good scenes. The children are very likeable and it is easy to root for them, especially considering how despicable, cruel and merciless is the main villain. There are some colourful secondary characters like the well meaning but completely clueless Mr Poe (Timothy Spall), the lawyer in charge of Baudelaire's estate, gentle but slightly mad Dr Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly) and harmlessly psychotic aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep).

However, considering that everybody (other than the children) in this film is either completely insane (that includes Count Olaf) or totally cut from reality, this film is really WEIRD. The visuals are also very peculiar - to say the least... When you add some creepy scary scenes, all of this makes this film unwatchable for little children, like younger than 8. There is not enough humour in this film and it actually is a waste of Jim Carey's talent (some of his comedies actually were good). Also, the whole mystery which is announced in the beginning is solved with a very anti-climactic way at the end. And finally, because this film was (of course!) supposed to launch a franchise (it will not happen), there is not even a real ending...

For all those reasons this film is an average thing - watchable, but ultimately nothing more. Watch at your own risk.


Blocking of Zeebrugge - Operation Z-O 1918 (Raid) by Stephen Prince ( 2010 )
Blocking of Zeebrugge - Operation Z-O 1918 (Raid) by Stephen Prince ( 2010 )

2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing book about this daring raid. The great gallantry of both British attackers and German defenders deserved better, 9 July 2014
Osprey Raid series was highly succesful with its first six books - but no winning streak lasts forever... This seventh book in the series treats about one of the most incredibly daring "special forces" (anachronism very much intentional) operations, the Zeebrugge-Ostend raid which took place on 23 April 1918 under the command of Rear-Admiral Roger J.B. Keyes (who was destined to a prestigious and long military and political career and would ultimately much, much later, retire as Admiral of the Fleet).

The objectif of the raid was to block the exits from both ports, to prevent German U-Boats, destroyers and torpedo boats from using those bases to launch raids against allied shipping in the Channel. It was to be achieved by scuttling old cruisers in the main channels of both ports.

Ostende operation was a total failure as, due to the vigorous reaction by German defenders, blocking ships HMS "Sirius" and HMS "Brilliant" were both unable to reach the target and were lost without achieving anything. On another hand, the Zeebrugge operation, albeit dearly paid, was a partial success as two out of three blocking ships, HMS "Intrepid" and HMS "Iphigenia", were sunk in the main channel - the third ship, HMS "Thetis", was disabled by German defences and ultimately lost before reaching the main target. The success was however only partial, as the raid didn't stop German operations but just slowed them for a time.

I expected a lot from this book, but I was partially disappointed, for following reasons:

- this thing is unfocused; in a 64 pages book too much place was given to the "prehistory" of the whole operation, namely the whole question of German occupation of Ostende and Zeebrugge from 1914 to 1918; too much place was also given to the description of everything which took place after and finally the conclusion in form of an analysis was really long-winded and mostly full of filler...

- as the result of this lack of focus, author ran out of space for things which were more significant; the Ostende part of raid is expedited on LESS THAN ONE PAGE; the terrible fight on the mole in Zeebrugge is treated VERY SUPERFICIALLY and it is a HUGE disappointment...

- quite a lot of passionating things are simply missing, like a detailed artwork about the transformation of HMS "Vindictive", another old cruiser, which was used as a sort of giant floating siege tower to attack German positions on the mole. It was to my best understanding an absolutely fascinating, unprecedented and unique transformation - and there is no good picture of it, just one extremely vague little technical drawing and some pictures of the ship after she came back from the raid, showing well the damage suffered, but not the modifications as they were mostly obliterated by German fire...

- another thing which is missing is a detailed plan or even better, a detailed drawing of German defences on the mole - a quite unique fortress which proved to be a very hard nut to crack

- a thing which is completely impossible to forgive is the lack of any drawing, picture or photo of German destroyer "V69", the lonely warship which stood against the whole British force with an incredible display of gallantry - and which crew also fought on the mole, very bravely and efficiently. If no photo of "V69" survived, I am certain it should be possible to find pictures of her sister ships, which were many (at least 20). From my own archives I was able to determine that "V69" was displacing 914 tonnes and was armed with 6 torpedoes and 3 guns, albeit it was not clear if those were 88 or 105 mm. She also probably carried at least two Maxim machine guns, although I couldn't find a definitive proof of that. By not giving a description of this plucky little ship (and not even mentioning the name of her commander) author really missed the mark...

- a good thing was to put two colour plates in this book. The first one, showing machine guns shooting from the armored tower on HMS "Vindictive", is honest - not great, but OK. The other one just shows British officers evacuating one of the sinking blocking ships - and that is a very, very poor choice of the subject, as in the same time on the mole British attackers and German defenders were locked in an epic deadly fight...

On another hand, the analysis of reasons for partial failure of the raid is well done and most of illustrations are really good. Still, it is not enough to save this book. 2,5 stars at best and if you are really interested in this incredible operation, I really advise to buy another book - there is no shortage of them. My favourite would be "Zeebrugge: Eleven VCs Before Breakfast" in Cassell Military Paperbacks by Barrie Pitt.


[( The Great Locomotive Chase - the Andrew's Raid 1862 )] [by: Gordon L. Rottman] [Nov-2009]
[( The Great Locomotive Chase - the Andrew's Raid 1862 )] [by: Gordon L. Rottman] [Nov-2009]
by Gordon L. Rottman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent description of an atypical, daring but mostly failed, raid by Northern saboteurs during the War Between States, 9 July 2014
This is a very well written, very comprehensive and very interesting description of Andrews Raid, better known as Great Locomotive Chase, a very atypical and very daring "special forces" operation which took place in April 1862.

The raid was carried by a group of Northern soldiers and two civilian volunteers (including the leader, James J. Andrews), who inflitrated into Confederate territory and on 12 April 1862 stole a train (including the locomotive "General") at Big Shanty, Georgia. The raiders intended to take the train all the way to Chattanooga, Tennessee - en route they were supposed to damage the crucially important railway by removing tracks and burning two most important bridges. It was expected that by delaying the transportation of reinforcements and supplies to Chattanooga, the raid would help approaching Northern forces to capture this important town.

This book describes all the participants (people and locomotives) with great detail and explains really well, why the quick reaction of a handful of Southern civilians and militiamen caused the raid to fail. Excellent and detailed maps and good illustrations, including one-page colour plates of main locomotives participating in the chase ("General" and "Texas"), make this little book a very precious thing.

The one point of criticism I have is that the one and only large two-page colour plate is awful, simply awful, both in the choice of the topic (raiders scattering in the forest after abandoning the "General") and in the execution, which is pathetic...

The raid itself was completely bloodless, but, as they infiltrated the Confederate territory and carried the raid in civilian clothes, eight of Northern saboteurs (including Andrews) were hanged as spies, in accordance with the customs of war (and precisely in the same way as Northerners treated captured Confederate agents and guerillas). Other saboteurs managed to escape from captivity before execution and stil others were exchanged later. This book describes also those events in some detail.

Military men amongst Andrews raiders were amongst the very first receivers of Medal of Honor (this decoration was created in 1861). The Great Locomotive Chase became also the topic of two well known films, silent "General" with Buster Keaton in 1926 and "Disney's "The Great Locomotive Chase" in 1953. Neither of those films however described the execution of eight of the raiders...

Bottom line, this is an excellent book about a very atypical special operation carried by a kind of early "special forces" - poorly trained and lightly armed, but courageous and enthusiastic. A recommended read for all military history amateurs. Enjoy!
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Immortal [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charlotte Rampling
Price: £8.09

1.0 out of 5 stars 1) A mutant girl is repeatedly raped by a giant chicken 2) Ultimately she starts to like it 3) The chicken dies. 4) THE END, 23 May 2014

This review is from: Immortal [DVD] (DVD)
This... this... thing, made in France in 2004, is amongst the most obscenely pretentious, ridiculously grotesque and morbidly bad films I ever saw - and I saw a lot of bad films in my life.

I like a lot Enki Bilal comic books and also many of his other artwork (his vision of Earl Dumarest made me kneel in adoration), but after watching this... this... thing, I say it loud and clear: "Sir, stay away from the movie making. No, seriously, put this camera down before somebody gets hurt".

After watching this film I am absolutely unable to say what it was about, but it is all right, because after like 30 minutes I didn't bother anymore - I just wanted this thing to END! The summary synopsis, for what I understood from this... this... thing, figures actually in the title of my review.

I don't think that even Enki Bilal knew what this... this... thing was about. I believe that the whole point was to find a pretext to show some skin in a soft-porn movie, featuring a former Miss France 1992 (Linda Hardy) who never played before or since and therefore can't act but still has the right kind of shapes (and was made to wear some exotic make up to make the whole thing more kinky).

It was probably also a way to get some money from some kind of subventions, because I absolutely refuse to believe that any kind of private sector producer accepted to put some funds into it. This... this... thing actually cost 22 million Euros, just to show some forcible copulation of a former Miss France with a giant chicken!

You can find almost all of this film for free on the internet so if you really want to suffer through it, at least avoid spending you hard earned cash. This... this... thing confirms once more, that every time when French make a science-fiction film, any sapient being should scream like a little girl and run away. Stupidly, I didn't do it...
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Warlords [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Jet Li
Price: £4.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average war/adventure movie, promising a lot in first 30 minutes but disappointing in the remaining time, 23 May 2014

Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Warlords [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I found this 2007 Chinese film watchable, but nothing more and it is a pity, because it had potential for so much more... Below, more of my impressions, with some spoilers.

This film tells the story of three very different men (one imperial general and two bandits) who meet and conclude a pact of brotherhood in the middle of the Taiping War (1850-1864), an incredibly violent and tragic conflict which caused quite possibly as much as 20 million dead - making it the second deadliest war in the whole history of humanity (only Second World War killed more people).

A big budget super production about such an enormous and destructive war was a great idea - but the result is not as good as could be expected. The film is long and there is not enough story to fill the 127 minutes. Battle scenes are disappointing and we can hardly see on the screen where the heck went the amount of money spend on making this film. Chinese armies of Taiping War were colourful and spectacular - and what we see on the screen is neither.

Because this is a Chinese story there is of course some elaborate intriguing, plotting and backstabbing, but we saw this kind of things already on the screen many times - and they were shown much better. It must also be said that Jet Li is not really an actor - he is a martial arts specialist, and when in a film he is not allowed to kick and scream, he seems as paralyzed as a bird staring at a snake... He got 15 million USD for this film - and in my modest opinion he didn't earn it...

That being said the film has also some merits. Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro are real actors and it shows on the screen. Xu Jinglei is a very attractive woman and even if her screen time is ultimately limited, it is a pleasure to watch her. This film also avoids - very wisely - showing idiotic kung fu which so badly damaged so many potentially good Asian films... And yes, there are some good scenes, although they become rare in the second half of the film.

Bottom line, this is an average war/adventure film, watchable once and recommended for renting rather than buying. Sadly, a really good, epic film about the Taiping War still remains to be made.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2014 1:36 PM BST

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Memorial Day [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Bennett
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £5.33

3.0 out of 5 stars An original initial idea, some honest moments and a rather good ending - but in all a rather average film..., 23 May 2014

This review is from: Memorial Day [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I found this film watchable and by moments even quite good - but ultimately I felt a little bit disappointed. Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS.

Sergeant Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett) is a young American soldier who serves in Iraq with the 34th Infantry Division. Briefly hospitalised for a not very serious injury, he strikes up a conversation with the resident military psychiatrist, Lieutenant Kelly Tripp (Emily Fradenburgh). Even if he is of course aware that this conversation is neither entirely accidental nor completely casual he accepts to play the game and tells the inifinitely patient psychiatrist a story from his childhood, about the one and only day when his grandfather (James Cromwell) accepted to share with him some of his own memories of service with 82nd Airborne Division in WWII. The film then mixes four story lines: Kyle's service in Iraq, Kyle's conversation with Lt. Tripp, Kyle's conversation with his grandafather and the WWII stories his grandfather tells him...

This is a rather well done film, but it is not entirely successful. Quite a lot of what we hear and see is quite clichéd and banal and ultimately seems... quite flat. War time adventures of both men are not very interesting - we saw ALL OF THIS like hundreds of times. In fact the really interesting parts of this film, those which I liked the best are the moments when we see the grandfather struggling with his progressing sickness and slowly overwhelming dementia, brief but clever exchanges between Kyle and Lt. Tripp and especially the very ending which is a kind of post-scriptum of the whole story...

In war time fragments only some elements were really good and original, like a brief scene in which we can see in April 1945 a veteran Waffen SS officer fighting against the Americans side by side with his young son who can't be older that 14... There is also one soldier in Kyle's squad who is a really peculiar and highly entertaining fellow. Fighting scenes are not really good and there is few of them anyway - there is however one sequence of a suicide bomber attack in Iraq which is very honest... Finally, there is a grand total of three good one-liners - not enough to carry the film, but still...

The most precious thing in this film is its respectful and grateful tone, as "Memorial Day" was clearly made as a tribute to all US soldiers who since 1941 served their country and fought bravely, risking loss of life or limb against really horrible regimes and cruel foes... It is also a respectful salute to those people from the Great Generation who are still with us, but who unavoidably wage their last fight even now, as those words are written - and this one can not be won...

Bottom line, this is a honest film, but nor really great. I liked it but I don't think I will keep the DVD. Advised to rent rather than buy.
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Fort Apache (John Wayne) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Fonda
Price: £5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The first and the best film in John Ford's legendary "Cavalry trilogy", with splendid performances by Henry Fonda and John Wayne, 22 May 2014

This review is from: Fort Apache (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
This 1948 black and white film is one of the best in John Ford illustrious career - and one of the best westerns EVER! Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

The scenario of this film was adapted from a short story called "Massacre", written in 1947 by western author James Warner Bellah. John Ford later adapted to the screen some of his other stories (including "She wore a yellow ribbon" and "Rio Grande") and asked him also to write the scenario for "The man who shot Liberty Valance". The "Massacre" was inspired by two real events, Custer's Last Stand and Fetterman Fight - but as I describe it below, author changed both those stories greatly, by making American officers act as madmen and presenting Indians in a very favourable light...

This film opens what is usually called John Ford's "Cavalry trilogy" - a tribute to US Cavalry fights and labours in Wild West plains in the years after War Between States. The other films in the trilogy, all featuring John Wayne, are SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) and RIO GRANDE (1950). John Ford turned also in 1959 one more film about US Cavalry with John Wayne, "Horse soldiers", about Northern cavalry raid into Confederate territory during the War Between States - and me for one I always considered it as a kind of "prequel" to "Cavalry trilogy"...

The film begins already some time after the War Between States, probably around 1875. A US Cavalry regiment garrisoning an isolated outpost, the Fort Apache, receives a new commanding officer - Lieutenant-Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda, grandiose!), who arrives accompanied by his extremely attractive young daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple, adorable). Thursday used to be a general during war and as virtually everybody in the US Army was significantly lowered in grade after 1865. After holding some important posts and having an exemplary record he expected finally a promotion, but instead he was send to a career-ending backwater post at Fort Apache... Just to be clear - Thursday is a fictitious character.

Thursday arrives therefore to Fort Apache humiliated, mortified, enraged and bitter - and also still in mourning after the death of his wife, whom he misses beyond everything words can describe... He is however not somebody who gives up and therefore he decides to make the most of what was given to him, make his regiment into an elite outfit and especially distinguish himself in battle as soon as local Apache Indians give him the slightest opportunity. Having fought bravely and after commanding a large unit against the Confederates between 1861 and 1865 he has no doubt about his abilities - but he is not familiar with the arid mountains of American-Mexican border and he despises greatly the Indians. Also, as described above, his judgement is somehow clouded by anger, bitterness and grief...

What follows is the description of a very uneasy working relationship between Thursday and his officers, NCOs and soldiers, who mostly are also battle-hardened veterans (and also most of them are Irish), with good battle record during War Between States, like him. His second in command, Captain Kirby York (John Wayne), used to be a colonel. The most senior of the NCOs, Sergeant Major Michael O'Rourke (Ward Bond), used to be a major in Irish Brigade - and was decorated with Medal of Honor, the highest distinction an American soldier can receive (like Victoria Cross most of them are attributed posthumously). Another NCO, Sergeant Beaufort (Pedro Armendariz), used to be a lieutenant, but fought for the South - and therefore is still nicknamed "Johny the Reb" by his comrades (and former enemies).

Three more characters are very important for this film. Sergeant Mulcahy (Victor MacLaglen, wonderful!) is amongst the toughest and the most colourful soldiers in the whole regiment. Captain Collingwood (George O'Brien) is clearly the oldest of officers and as his health weakens, he was postulating already for some time for a post of instructor at West Point - without any success... Finally, there is the young lieutenant O'Rourke (John Agar), son of Sergeant Major O'Rourke, who just graduated from West Point - albeit sons of NCOs were in those times not accepted there, an exception was made for him, as his father won the Medal of Honor.

Even if Thursday is not liked by his subalterns, for most of the film he actually copes with the whole situation better than anybody expected. Ultimately however he will lose it - and what will push him over the edge is what he perceives as the supreme humiliation/betrayal: his daughter, who is the only person who still gives some sense to his life, falls in love with young O'Rourke, a man he considers beneath her and himself. Once he enters in conflict with Philadelphia, he completely unravels and becomes clearly self-destructive and suicidal - and tragedy will of course follow...

John Wayne plays here very deliberately a character overshadowed by his commanding officer - and he does this very well indeed! This film is however mostly about Owen Thursday, portrayed with great art by Henry Fonda. All other actors, the "Duke" included, play just supporting roles.

The character and fate of fictitious Lieutenant-Colonel Owen Thursday are sometimes unavoidably compared with those of George Armstrong Custer and on the surface of things there were similarities - they both were indeed generals during War Between States and both were reduced in rank immediately after (Custer actually went all the way from Major-General to Captain). Also, they both met their fate in Indian Wars and in their final battles both were Lieutenant-Colonels.

Here however the similarities end, as Custer had a huge fighting experience against Indians and, unlike Thursday, he certainly DIDN'T sabotage any peace talks which could have ended the war... He also certainly never despised Indians or underestimated their fighting ability - to the contrary, he was very protective of his own Arikara and Crow scouts and in all his expeditions always listened carefully to their advice. Unlike Thursday in this film, in the war in which Custer died he was NOT the main campaign leader - he was acting under orders and in the limits of the plans decided by his superior officer, Brigadier-General Terry, the military commander of the whole Dakota Territory from 1872 and 1886.

Also unlike Thursday in the film, Custer didn't charge into the killing ground at Little Big Horn as the result of some kind of insanity - he was in fact mostly unlucky that his 210 strong command approached Indian camp at a moment when they manage to assemble, for a short moment, an exceptionally fighting force of at least 2500 braves, something that NEVER happened before or after. Custer was aware that he was facing a large force, because he send scouts before engaging - but clearly the reports were incomplete, because even after scouts returned, he was still completely unaware HOW LARGE EXACTLY was that force!

Finally, unlike Thursday in the film (who acts like a total madman), once the battle began, he didn't do anything foolish, to the contrary, his decisions were clearly rational. The moment he saw Indians with his own eyes, he immediately tried to disengage and retreat - it's just that at that moment it was too late, as he was caught on an open plain and already surrounded by a mobile force ten times larger than his own (and incidentally having also many better rifles...).

On another hand, considering that Indians didn't take prisoners, both Custer's and Thursday's very last actions were the only one available - make a stand and take as many enemies with them as possible.

One final thing must be said here (SPOILER AHEAD): although I read a lot about Indian Wars I couldn't find any case, in which they would spare a small American detachment which they had at their mercy because of the respect felt for its leader. It NEVER happened in real history - this is really typical Hollywod bull...t.

This little point notwithstanding, this is a GREAT FILM, which I recommend with whole my heart. Just don't consider it as a history lesson... Enjoy!


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