Thursday, 28 August 2008


Shelfari is a great new free service allowing users to share their bookshelves. Show your friends what you've read, what you're reading and what you plan to read soon. Add us and check out what we're currently flipping the pages of! You can even buy the books from Amazon via the Shelfari service. Go along and check it out!

Monday, 25 August 2008


Here’s one instance where starting over again is a good thing. With every film under the sun getting a remake, which I’m absolutely sick to death of, the news that the Superman movie franchise is to be started over again is actually a breath of fresh air.  Bryan Singer’s bloated misfire Superman Returns was a big fat lesson in mediocrity. It did look and feel like a Superman film, but absolutely nothing happened in it bar the baseball stadium scene. To carry on from that film would have been a mistake, as there was no real sense of scale or drama in that film, despite strong performances from a pretty decent cast.

Warners have made a brave - not to mention sensible – move in starting the franchise over. That said, I’m hoping they give us something a bit different than just another origin story (maybe something more along the lines of the recent Incredible Hulk reboot), and that there are some supervillains in it other than Lex bloody Luthor.

Y’know, there’s still some of out there that think Warners should take another look at Kevin Smith’s Superman Reborn script and use some of that. If nothing else, they need Smith or another comics afficianado on board to ensure we get something cool this time around. Doomsday would be cool. A big screen version of Superman’s death would go down very well indeed, and of course then there could be the relevant sequels.

Mind you, this new revamp could also be used to start tying the DCU movies together a bit, much in the same way Marvel have been doing of late. If there’s something that the recent DCU movies are lacking it is any coherent world. Remember, there’s a Justice League movie on the way (eventually) and this would probably have to tie into that somehow. One problem is, with that JLA movie coming, won’t that have a different Superman actor? Aaaaaaggghhh…. Is the DCU movie universe imploding already? I swear if someone says the word ‘Multiverse’ ion there I’m going to have to go Doomsday on DC’s asses.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


Fox appear to be having a bit of a tantrum, don’t they? Apparently the movie giant still retains some rights to the Watchmen property, and is trying to stop the Warner Bros-made movie being released. Right, why on earth did Fox wait until the film had actually completed production until bringing this up? The matter came up six months or so ago, after the Zack Snyder film was in the can, and has now reared its ugly head again. Look, Fox, people want to see this film. Lots of people. Some of those people have been waiting twenty years to see it, and if you held the rights back then, why wasn’t it put into production. Warners have made good on their promise of creating a hell of a feature film, that looks set to do the legendary Watchmen comic book series justice, and now fans can’t help but feel that Fox are throwing a bit of a strop for no good reason, I mean, they had their chance. Let it lie. I hope this matter can be resolved without any delay to the film’s release, or there are going to be a lot of fans out there calling for Fox’s collective heads on a platter. This is a real shame, as both studios are excellent and sometimes it would just be nice if they would get along.

Friday, 15 August 2008


The current run of Captain Britain and MI13 from Marvel Comics has just hit issue four, and it really does feel like the most consistently entertaining and well made comic on the scene at the moment. Paul Cornell weaves a script that is always gripping, funny and action packed and yet it still carries some dramatic weight. The art of Leonard Kirk and Jesse Delperdang is strong throughout. The joy of the book is that it can be enjoyed as a standalone title despite its involvement in the Secret Invasion storyline. It is most certainly part of that huge crossover event, but it can be read and understood on its own merits.

The invasion in these pages isn’t chock full of Marvel mainstays, but it is chock full of surprises and wit that can’t be ignored. The tone of the series is nigh on perfect for a modern Marvel title, and with such a strong creative team I really am excited to see where the series goes. I for one am hoping the title lasts long beyond the Secret Invasion storyline, and that Cornell stays involved in some fashion too.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Following on from the success of animated DVD features like Superman: Doomsday and DC: New Frontiers, the latest addition to the growing range of licensed animated comic movies is a feature length adventure featuring Wonder Woman. The trailer for this project is now online and looks pretty good for a DVD feature. Diana/Wonder Woman is voiced in the feature by Keri Russell, and the animation certainly does the character’s pedigree proud. Check it out:

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


I had gone into this film without expecting a great deal. The reviews I’d read had largely been indifferent or negative, but a few had said this was a return to form for a franchise that lost its way in its later years as a TV show. Now, as a fan of the X-Files from the start I was always going to go and see it anyway, and really I was just happy to see the characters of Mulder and Scully together again. So, how does the new film fare?

Surprisingly well, actually. It is a far cry from the megabucks 1997 movie- there are no aliens, no conspiracy, no spaceships, and not one bit of the scale of that earlier film. What we have here is an old fashioned X-Files caper that is unashamedly an extended TV episode. Its extremely low key storyline and minimal set pieces and effects explain why it took such a short time to make (It was only shot in December, and post was completed quickly on it). Some are yelling that it is too subdued, too small scale, but I say that this is a necessary thing to reintroduce the characters of Mulder and Scully to the current audience.

The story, involving a missing FBI agent, stolen body parts and a psychic priest with a terrible past (played to unsettling effect by an astonishingly creepy Billy Connolly), is secondary to the matter of getting the two leads back together for another outing and to set up the third film that |Chris Carter has talked about, intended for release in 2012 and featuring a full scale alien invasion. For now we have I Want To Believe, and for those of us who loved the standalone classics of the series, this is a welcome return to form. It is a self contained and gripping tale that not only serves as a fitting epilogue to the series, but also sets us up well for another adventure.

Interaction between the two leads is strong, although I’m not sure how Gillian Anderson coped with David Duchovny’s comedy beard for the first half an hour of the film. The beard deserves its own film. That aside, it is great to catch up with the characters’ lives after the end of the big X-Files arc and have them caught up in an old school runaround in search of a missing FBI agent who may be fair game for medical experimentation.

There are a number of fan pleasing moments, but I do think that the piece is so very low key and minimalist that it will turn off a good portion of moviegoers who wanted to see spectacle instead of suspense. Billy Connolly’s Father Joe character is an uncomfortable addition to the cast, but it is that discomfort that works in his favour and makes him such an uneasy presence.

Chris Carter’s direction is a little conservative- this really does feel like an episode of the early X-Files era put onto the big screen, but that works here. The world isn’t at stake, the effects shots that there are tend to be suggested rather than huge money shots, which is also great to see in this age of overblown CG epics. The comparatively tiny budget has been used here to secure a sterling cast (even Xzibit is pretty good) and bring us a nicely rounded, nicely handled story that is resolved tidily and brings the notion of the two investigators Mulder and Scully back into the public consciousness with dignity and surprisingly little fanfare. An enjoyable return for two much loved genre icons. I just hope it does well enough to warrant the production of the next one. Thankfully, with such a small budget for this one, it should gross enough for that to happen.

Incidentally, I picked up the soundtrack album after getting out of the cinema- Mark Snow’s score for the movie is really, really good. Unkle’s retooling of the X-Files theme (which plays over the closing credits) is great, and adds some real majesty to those six immortal notes.

Monday, 4 August 2008


Okay, Rich posted his glowing review of The Dark Knight over at our mothership blog on this post here, and now I’ve finally had chance to see the film I can offer my own take. I’m probably going to be burned at the stake for this, but I honestly thought the film was a huge disappointment. Whoa, put those pitchforks and flaming torches down a second, let me explain.

I went into the cinema with my girlfriend (a writer and journalist) and a bunch of friends (who are also big fans of Batman) and eagerly awaited the follow-up to the excellent Batman Begins, a film that saved the franchise from the awful memories of Joel Schumacher and Batman’s nipples. In that company, I was genuinely embarrassed by the film.

The film that followed the inane trailers was a lengthy, repetitive bore. I hate to have to write a review like this, but I’m here to tell you the truth and bring you genuine opinion. The Dark Knight, to these eyes, was a tedious film full of tedious scenes linking tedious set pieces. Much has been made of the cast, but they are almost all criminally underused, apart from the ever glorious Gary Oldman and the late Heath Ledger. The Joker does steal the show, but unfortunately this is due to there not being much of a show to steal.

Something that stunned all of us is the rating the film has been given. 12A for this? A film crammed with knives, violence, death, scarred faces and someone with half their head burnt into a mess of meat and sinew? How did the BBFC come to the decision that this was appropriate for viewing by small children? Many parents will be going under the assumption that this is a kiddie friendly superhero movie (trust me, some people WILL think that), and instead will have their kids watching the Joker stab a pencil into someone's head, shoot people at point blank range, kill people and slice a man's face open.

With the running time so bloated and arse-numbingly long, I couldn’t help but notice a good hour or so that could have been cut. Where I had expected a fascinating crime drama with added costumed action, I got the same 30 minutes of story repeated six times. The film kept on building towards something and the payoff never came. No satisfying resolution was offered, no scene really gripped me and the closing speech from Commissioner Gordon had us all cringing. I wish I could be less critical, but this is a Batman movie and thus needs more scrutiny.

Heath Ledger’s deranged performance as the Joker was a high point, and didn’t echo Jack Nicholson’s pantomime performance from the Tim Burton era, but it isn’t the earth shattering feast that the reviews have been deeming it as. It was indeed a tragic loss when he died, but his performance has to be seen on its own merits. He was an unusual choice for the clown prince of crime, and as an epitaph this seems sadly hollow.

Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent (and indeed Two Face) was my favourite aspect of the film, and his descent into madness was gripping, if a little rushed. That’s one strength the film has- Two Face wasn’t just tagged on, like, say, Venom in Spider-Man 3. The effects for his mangled face were well handled, and he carries the part off well. Unfortunately he’s in the middle of a cast who, aside from Ledger, seem to be on autopilot. Actually, Nolan seemed to be a bit on autopilot too.

With a surprisingly weak script, uninspired cinematography (what happened? Batman begins was beautifully shot!) and overly minimalist production design, the film was sadly lacking and this fan left the screen feeling short-changed, tired and rather let down. Hopefully the third in this series will prove to be better, and not get bogged down in hyperbole.