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Paul Tapner (poole dorset england)
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Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth
Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth
by Rick Remender
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Assassin academy, 20 July 2016
A paperback which collects the first six issues of the comic 'Deadly Class.'

It's 1987 in America. Marcus is a homeless teenager. With seemingly nothing to live for. Until he is offered the chance to join a very exclusive high school. A school for killers. Where the world's top crime families send their children to be trained as assassins.

All the usual high school tropes and cliques and problems await him. With the added one that they are really deadly. But why is Marcus, an outsider and not someone from a crime family, considered such an ideal candidate to be a pupil?.......

This features violence strong language and adult moments. A lot of them. So it's strictly a comic for mature readers only.

As with all paperbacks of this kind, it divides the six issues up via chapter pages, so you can see where one ends and another begins.

There's an introduction from comics writer David Lapham. And an afterword from the writer of this series himself.

This is a fabulous read right from the off. The art is stylistic, but it and the restrained colouring do suits the needs of the story perfectly, so it does catch the eye. It's also a wholly original story, which always counts in something's favour. The eighties setting is superbly rendered. It has a lead character who the writing makes wholly sympathetic. When it would be very easy for him not to be. And he's surrounded by a very interesting cast of characters as well.

Marcus has a strong character arc over the course of these six issues, which does reach a satisfactory point by the end. There are decent plot developments as things about him and the school become clear. It also does offer the reader food for thought, as you consider what you might do in similar situations to things characters go through here.

An excellent read and a terrific start to the series. I will get book two as soon as possible.


High Rise [DVD] [2016]
High Rise [DVD] [2016]
Dvd ~ Tom Hiddleston
Price: £10.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Screaming and dying in the high rise block, 20 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: High Rise [DVD] [2016] (DVD)
JG Ballard's classic 1970's dystopian novel comes to film.

For the uninitiated: Ballard wrote a lot about society. It's strictures. How easily it could all break down. And how people might react to being able to live a life without any of the social codes. High Rise is set in a very modern high rise block of flats, in London of the mid seventies. Tom Hiddleston stars as Dr. Robert Laing. An emotionally detached man who doesn't quite seem to fit in. His new home in the high rise should give him the chance to live anonymously. But as the living conditions in the block start to break down, as all the mod cons go, a new order emerges. One where Laing might finally find what he's been looking for.

The word always used to describe Ballard's books is 'Ballardian.' A reference to the very particular style and themes they always had. Books that depend on style are usually not the easiest things to film. But director Ben Wheatley really gives it a go.

Tom Hiddleston carries the film superbly well, with a brilliantly understated performance. He is surrounded by a stellar cast who give it their all as well. And all turn in great performances. The 70's style is superb. The look and feel of everything is just right.

As a whole, it does succeed at creating something Ballardian on the big screen. Something that uses acting and imagery rather than prose to create the same kind of style.

The ideas of the book about society, and how people might act if they had a chance to let out their baser urges, are all there and quite thought provoking with it. All of which means there is some pretty extreme stuff in here at times. Also, it's not a film that animal lovers will enjoy.

Class war enters the story also, but the idea of the super rich vs the lower ranked people is a pretty timely one, so it goes with the movie well.

This really is Ballard on the big screen. And it really is an adaptation that completely succeeds. But it just falls short of five stars. Becuase it's not an easy watch at times. The fact that it's not really plot driven, and doesn't have sympathetic characters, does make it somewhat languid at times. Also, the score is an aquired taste. And not really one that I got. Although I seem to be in the minority in that respect. Structurally wise as well, it opens with a conceit that has become overused in tv of late, which is annoying when tv does it. So I'm not entirely convinced if that was necessary.

So what those who haven't read the book will make of it is going to be another matter of opinion. But for Ballard fans, this is what we've been waiting a long time for.

The dvd has the following language and subtitles options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

The disc begins with a short logo piece for the dvd company that you can't skip. And then three trailers that you can, via the next button on the dvd remote.

Extras:

An audio commentary from Tom Hiddleston, the director, and the producer.

Bringing Ballard to the big screen: a three minute long featurette. One of those pieces that has clips from the movie and cast and crew extolling it. But some of their comments are pretty interesting.

Cast interviews: Four individual interviews done on set with Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Jeremy Irons. They can only be watched individually. All the interviews do use mostly the same stock questions. But all are really great, thanks to the four being excellent and very articulate interviewees. The interviews run for twenty two, six, sixteen and thirteen minutes respectively. And are all well worth a watch.


Replica
Replica
by Lauren Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In and out of the institute, 17 July 2016
This review is from: Replica (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First in a two volume series of young adult science fiction/thriller novels.

Recommended reading age would be thirteen and up. Thanks to a couple of bits of strong language, and mild adult themes.

It's the story of two girls. Gemma. Who has spent a lot of her life in hospital. Who doesn't fit it at school. Who has one best friend. Who doesn't fit in either. And a father who is away on business a lot. When someone tries to kidnap her, they mention a mysterious institute.

Lyra has spent her whole life living in an institute. With locked doors and armed guards. Where the staff don't stick around for long if they ever show compassion. When a chance comes along to get out, she and a boy take it.

Both Gemma and Lyra are looking for answers. And their worlds are about to collide...

This is interestingly differently structed book to most of it's kind, though. Because whereas some might do this with alternating chapters chaning the viewpoint character between each, this is a flipbook. Which is to say that one half of it - which runs for two hundred and ninety pages and eighteen chapters - tells Gemma's storyline. And you can then flip the book over and read all of Lyra's side of the story. In two hundred and forty eight pages and seventeen chapters.

This is a clever approach, and it really works very well. Because it allows both individual narratives the time to flow and live and breathe without any diversions.

Gemma is a very sympathetic character right from the off, and this does carry you through her side of things very nicely. Where the plot unfolds at a decent pace, and you can pick up interesting hints about things along the way. She has some great interaction with her best friend and another supporting character, both of whom are also superbly drawn.

Lyra's tale is a little tricky to get into at first, given that's it written from the point of view of someone with a very limited worldview and experience. But stick with it and you will get involved as well.

Certain scenes naturally duplicate between the two narratives, but it's interesting to read things that happened offpage in one actually dramatised in another.

Ultimately, though, both strands are about the same thing. What it means to be human. Which means that both girls have excellent character arcs, which lead to them growing and changing. And both meet very satisfactory conclusions.

When it says that this is a two book series, it doesn't mean that this is the whole thing in one volume. The two sides of this added together are as a whole just one book in this story. A very good one too, and a very good read. So I look forward to reading what comes next.


Allegiant [Limited Edition - Exclusive to Amazon] [DVD] [2016]
Allegiant [Limited Edition - Exclusive to Amazon] [DVD] [2016]
Dvd ~ Shailene Woodley
Price: £10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the wall, 13 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Third film in the 'Divergent' series, which adapts the popular young adult science fiction trilogy of novels.

This is not really a good jumping on point. But if you're reading this, then you're doubtless familiar with the books or the previous films, so that won't be a problem.

The film is an adaptation of 'Allegiant' the third novel in the series.

Picking up from where the second film left off, with major change coming to Chicago, it's a new era there under a new regime. Who will first deal with the remnants of the old. Tris, meantime, is desperate to find out what lies beyond the city wall. Her expedition out there finds a strange new world. And a whole new threat..

This covers the plot of the book. But with there being a fourth film still to come, let's just say that it doesn't end quite the way the book did. Prior to that, it's not desperately faithful to the novel. Taking the same ideas and setting and going it's own way with them. But, although purists may blanch, that really doesn't matter. Because as a movie, this really works well very well indeed.

It's fast paced. It's involving. It has good action sequences and strong moral dilemmas for the characters to face. The latter also gives the audience some good food for thought, as in addition to what is going on outside the city, those inside have dilemmas to face as well. Which leads you to consider what you would do in the same situation.

The leads are all well grown into their roles by now and carry the film effortlessly. Miles Teller does steal the show as Peter. Making an unsympathetic character compelling to watch. And the ending will leave you wanting to see what will happen next.

A good roller coaster ride of a movie. If you're prepared to give it a chance, then it's a good watch.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

The first disc in this edition - the two disc limited edition. Remember those? - has a few trailers at the start, but those can be skipped via the next button on the dvd remote.

Extras on it are: a commentary from two of the producers.

Two featurettes: Allegiant: Book to film. This runs for five minutes and whilst brief, is an interesting look at how the adaptation was done.
Battle in the Bullfrog. This runs for three minutes and shows the making of a fight sequence. It's a good watch.

On the second disc there are four featurettes:

Into the fringe. Ten minutes about the production design of the world beyond the city.
The escape over the wall. Ten minutes about the filming of a key sequence early in the film.
Unlocking a new look. Seven minutes about the costume designs for the film.
Composing Allegiant. Four minutes about the writing of the score for the movie.

All are interesting and involving viewing, although the first two, by virtue of being ten minutes making them feel just the right length, are the best.


Deadpool [DVD] [2016]
Deadpool [DVD] [2016]
Dvd ~ Ryan Reynolds
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £9.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The secret origin of the merc with the mouth, 10 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Deadpool [DVD] [2016] (DVD)
A movie adaptation of a comic from Marvel. Had a few of those in the past few years. But this is a rather different movie to all the others.

It comes from Fox studios, rather than Marvel studios. The former do the X Men films. The latter do almost all the others. So this does mention and tie in with the former. But none of Captain Americas and Avengers and the like.

Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson. AKA Deadpool. Who he also played in X Men Origins Wolverine. Let's just say this is a fresh take on things. So disregard that one.

Wade is a motormouth. Has a very strong sense of humour. And runs around in a red suit with swords gutting and shooting bad guys.

How did all this come to be?

This is structured totally differently to the usual superhero films in that it's not entirely linear. It starts with an action sequence, and jumps back and forth between that and what happens after it. The flashbacks filling in how we got to this point.

There's a heck of a lot of violence along the way. But it's knowingly over the top, in the style that encourages you not take it seriously. And the whole film doesn't so much break the fourth wall as damage it with a sledgehammer beyond repair. So this is very black comedy. But it's very funny comedy if you're in the right mood, and Ryan Reynolds get the character and the humour absolutely spot on.

Added to which, it gives one of the X men more to do than they've ever managed before on screen. And it's a nice love story as well. Just not necessarily solely a chick flick. And definitely not a date movie.

Ultimately the story and plot are pretty simple, but there's so much to laugh at in here that it will stand up to many repeated viewings, simply because you're bound to find funny moments that have slipped your mind.

A perfect adaptation of a fun character. And a hugely entertaining film with it.

Do keep watching to the very end if you hope to see a preview of Deadpool Two.

Although the dvd box just says that the subtitles and Language options are English only, if you check the disc you will find they are:

Although the box just says english for both, on the disc it's:

Languages: English Russian Lithuanian

Subtitles: English Danish Finnish Norwegian Russian Swedish Estonian Lavian Lithuanian

The disc goes straight to the main menu when loaded.

DVD extras are:

Sneak peek. A trailer for the film X-Men Apocalypse.
Gag reel: five minutes worth of outtakes. Gag reels are usually people forgetting dialogue and being deliberately silly, but these are genuine and very funny outtakes.
Deadpool's fun sack. Two sections to this. Videos and stills. The latter contains some posters for the film. The former has nineteen different trailers and other bits of promo material for the film. None are longer than a couple of minutes. They can be watched individually or in a row. There is some repetition as some are versions of the same trailer but with naughty words included second time around. But they are all great fun and well worth a watch.


Batman: Earth One Volume 2 HC
Batman: Earth One Volume 2 HC
by Geoff Johns
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Riddles, 10 July 2016
Second volume in the 'Batman: Earth One' series of Batman graphic novels. These provide a completely fresh take on the character, using the same basic story elements but completely free of any ties to previous continituty.

You might be able to get into this if you've not read volume one, but a fair few references back to it, and character development that has resulted from it, mean you're better off starting with that to get the most from this.

This one runs for one hundred and sixty pages.Whilst it's pretty much suitable for all ages, some of the violence is a bit strong so it might be better for mature readers.

As the story starts, the people of Gotham, the criminals of the city, and the police, are all still coming to terms with the existence of the Batman. The new DA and Mayor are brother and sister, and trying to clean up the city their way. The balance of power in organised crime has shifted. There's been sightings of a reptile man. And someone is killing people. With very lethal riddles...

As with volume one, it's really great to read the characterisation in here. Because it's fun to see a Batman who isn't perfect. Who doesn't win every fight initially, and really doesn't know that much about detection yet. He does though have to make the same choices he's made in other stories of his life. The other characters are so very well written, and the whole thing is superbly character driven throughout.

It's exceptionally well plotted also, as things do come together very nicely in the end. In a way that makes you reappraise what came before and kick yourself for missing certain clues. There's a very exciting action sequence at this point in the story also.

And the takes on familiar characters are interestingly different when they can be. Particularly in the shape of one villain. You'll see.

Coupled with reliably stunning artwork from Gary Frank, this is great to look at and great to read as well.

And the ending will make you desperate for volume three.

A second great volume in a really great series.


Torchwood - 1.1 the Conspiracy
Torchwood - 1.1 the Conspiracy
by David Llewellyn
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The man in the know, 3 July 2016
First in a new series of audios based on the tv show 'Torchwood'. And you will know what that's about if you're reading this.

This is an all new story, not told before in any other medium. It takes place somewhen during the first two seasons of the tv show.

There's no strong language or adult situations, although one moment might be a bit too disturbing for younger listeners.

It runs for fifty five minutes [approx] and is basically one long episode. The only breaks being the usual cd chapter ones.

The story is a mixture of full cast drama and narration. John Barrowman does the latter in character as Captain Jack. Who is describing something that happened.

Jack is dealing with George Wilson. [John Sessions]. One time newsreader, now bestselling writer of conspiracy theory books. Who alleges that the world is under the control of the committee. A group of aliens, who have their own plans for the human race.

Jack, knowing more than most about this kind of thing, wants to know where George is getting all this from. He also has to deal with the attentions of a blogger who also deals in the same thing.

But the truth can be deadly....

This is basically a season opener, and it fulfills it's functions in that respect very well. With a strong guest cast, this is a good character drama. John Barrowman, as you would expect, gets back into his role as if he's never been away. It is also very well written. There is one nice reference to another bit of Torchwood original fiction too.

And it is very cleverly plotted. There are quite a few twists and turns to come along the way. Nothing goes as you might expect.

It isn't self contained. It does end on a fair bit of a cliffhanger, that should set things up to come.

But as ever, Big Finish do manage to get what made a show work on tv, and transpose that onto the audio medium perfectly.

A very good season opener, and a welcome return for Torchwood with it.

There's a trailer for the next release in this series on the cd track after the end of the main story.

And fifteen minutes of interviews with the cast on the tracks after that.


False Hearts
False Hearts
by Laura Lam
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars T and T, 3 July 2016
This review is from: False Hearts (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A science fiction/thriller novel. It's complete and self contained, and not part of any series or trilogy.

It runs for three hundred and sixty six pages, and is divided into a prologue and thirty three chapters.

It contains strong language, violence, and adult situations, so is strictly for grown up readers.

The science fiction element comes from it being set in near future San Francisco. A place with gadgets and a few changes to life as we know it. The thriller part of the plot is the primary element though, along with a strong amount of character drama. but another main science fiction element is a drug that pays a key part in the plot, that means some scenes take place inside dreams.

The main character, who narrates things in the first person present tense, is Taema. She has an identical twin sister called Tila. The prologue involves a key moment in their lives. And then the main narrative in chapter one starts ten years later. So the relevance of the prologue isn't immediately apparent. But do be advised you will find out in due course.

At the start of chapter one, Taema's life is shattered when her sister comes to her apartment covered in blood. And is then arrested for murder. Which is not something that happens anymore in this world. Tila turns out to be mixed up with some very dangerous people. The only way Taema can save her is to go undercover, assuming her sister's identity.

That's half the narrative. The other half is chapters written by Tila. As a long letter. Where we find out about the past that the two had. When they grew up living with a strange cult.

Lots of secrets are about to be discovered...

This reads pretty well. The prose isn't too detailed, so you can read it fast, but it does do it's job nonetheless. Neither of the leads really stand out too much as a character, but they are both three dimensional and sympathetic enough even so. Even with all the other elements it is a character story first and foremost. Speaking from personal experience, I can say that the feeling of being a twin isn't something you can explain to those who aren't. There is a feeling of closeness. And this does get that exactly right.

You do get the details of how close they were as children, and also how they have slightly drifted away from that now. What you don't get is what comes in between and how it got to that point. But that doesn't really hurt the narrative too much. This is because the plotting throughout is really rather clever, drawing everything in in a way that does rather impress you come the end.

As a bit of near future science fiction it's good, presenting a well realised and believable setting. As a thriller, it's also pretty good. It's not a detective story with clues there for the reader to get, but one that does twist and turn very well, thanks to the aforementioned good plotting.

Another main thrust is Taema discovering more about her sister's life and what she didn't know about her. And about secrets between loved ones. This part is pretty effective.

It does wrap it up very well at the end, with an ending that will give you a bit of an emotional response.

Not quite a five star book, but a pretty decent read, and well worth a look.


Vampire of the Mind (Doctor Who Main Range)
Vampire of the Mind (Doctor Who Main Range)
by Justin Richards
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The institute on the island, 30 Jun. 2016
Latest Doctor Who audio story. This features Colin Baker as the Doctor. And is the second part of 'the master trilogy'. A run of three releases that sees the Doctor's arch enemy causing trouble for different Doctors.

First in this trilogy was Doctor Who Main Range 211 and You Will Obey Me (Big Finish Doctor Who). This one stands largely on it's own and you could get into it without having heard that one. How connected the trilogy is remains to be revealed by the third release.

This is a four parter. Complete over two discs. Episodes run from twenty five to thirty minutes in length.

The Doctor is paying a visit to an old friend. Only to find the latter has vanished, whilst looking for a missing colleague. The Doctor and the professor's daughter set out to find him. The trail leads to an institute on an island off the south coast. Where something strange is clearly going on...

The Master in this story is a different version to the one in the first release. This is the version played by actor Alex Macqueen in a few eighth Doctor audios. If you've not heard his portrayal before, then you are in for a treat. Charming. Playful. And deadly.

The professor's daughter makes a good surrogate companion. She doesn't quite stand out as a character but she's smart and able to be a good foil to the Doctor, never letting him get away with anything.

And this one does give Colin Baker a lot of good material as well.

It's a perfectly decent production, but not a story that reallys stand out as it never quite breaks any new ground. Largely following the usual format for four parters: set up. Investigate. Run around. Conclusion. You do find you are waiting for it to really become ground breaking in part two. And it never really does that. Part three has some good revelations. But nothing expectional. And it all resolves itself nicely.

However just when you think this is a story that won't stick in the mind for long, it does manage to do that after all. By doing something that seemingly indicates it might not be quite as stand alone as all that. Answers for that, though, will have to wait to the third part of the trilogy.

A perfectly decent story on it's own, but not an exceptionally decent one. Still, it's not a bad listen.

There's a trailer for the final part of the trilogy on the track on disc two after the end of part four.

Roughly eight minutes of music from the story on the last two tracks of disc one.

And roughly twelve minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the final tracks of disc two.


Gallery of Ghouls (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
Gallery of Ghouls (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Alan Barnes
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War of the waxworks, 30 Jun. 2016
Latest release in the current of Doctor Who audio stories to feature Tom Baker as the Doctor. And Lalla Ward as Romana.

John Leeson voices K9 in some of these. But said character doesn't actually appear in this story.

This is a stand alone tale, and you can get into it easily without having heard any of the earlier ones in this audio season.

It's a two parter. Complete on one disc. The episodes both running thirty minutes. Approx.

It sees the TARDIS take the Doctor and Romana to Brighton. A little earlier than planned, thus they're early for the opening of the Brighton Pavilion.

What to do? A visit to a waxworks gets them into a strange mystery...

As ever, the production values of this are perfect. The lead actors are great and get some brilliant dialogue and banter together. It so could be a soundtrack to a tv story of it's time. It does pitch everything just right, though, always staying the right side of going over the top.

The supporting characters are superbly three dimensional creations. Guest stars Celia Imrie and Nikolas Grace do great work with strong material.

What this one doesn't have though, is much of any of a level of threat or drama to the proceedings. It's a fun and entertaining and very well done character drama first and foremost. So because it's lacking that certain dramatic intensity, it doesn't quite rate five stars. But it's still a strong production that is well worth a listen in every other respect.

There's a trailer for the next release in the range on the cd track after the end of part two.

And fifteen mins [approx] of interviews with cast and crew on the tracks after that.


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