All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (Book Review)

All the Light We Cannot See was recommended to me by a friend, now said friend has always given me great book recommendations and up until this book, the books he’s told me to read have been 5/5 stars. This was the first book that didn’t follow that trend.download (3)

When I was told about All the Light We Cannot See, I was told it’s set during WWII and follows a blind girl who lives in Paris and whose father works at the Museum of Natural History. So fat it had all the makings of my perfect book so I checked out Goodreads. On there I found constant five star reviews, in fact I struggled to find anything less so I downloaded it to my Kindle and started to read.

Now I’ll say that I didn’t hate the book, in fact it was enjoyable but I just didn’t love it. The story follows two main characters, Marie-Laure, a blind girl who is brought up in Paris by her father. She spends most of her days curled up behind his desk, in the Museum of Natural History, reading a book or asking questions about the displays. Our second protagonist is Werner, a blonde haired, blue eyed orphan brought up in a mining town in Germany. When the war starts both Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives change forever.

The story itself was clever, I loved the fact that small things in the beginning of the book became big connections by the end and I loved how everything intertwined. My main issue is that I sometimes found it boring. The story focused on our two main protagonists and with that we found out a lot about their childhoods and how what they loved developed who they became. I liked this in theory but in practise I found the constant references to radios and snails, a little boring.

I did love some of the characters; in the beginning I loved Marie-Laure. Losing her sight didn’t make her wallow; instead it made her determined and strong. I loved her when she was a child and how she learned to live with her loss of sight and remain happy. As the book progressed I learned that Werner was my favourite. I was amazed by how he grew as a character and slowly learned how to become a better person.

The supporting characters were also well written, Marie-Laure’s uncle Etienne was by far my favourite, his fear to leave the house since the war and his love for Marie-Laure was heart-warming to me. On top of this, Von Rumple was a great villain while Frau Elena and Jutta gave the book a realistic a homely feel.

This all sounds great, right? So why didn’t I love it? Well in the end I didn’t care about any of the characters outcomes except for perhaps Etienne. While reading I loved each character and wanted the best for them but by the end I felt like I’d learned all there was to learn and if everyone had of died, I don’t think I would have cared.

I also found the writing style hard to follow at times, I had previously read A Court of Mist and Fury with a really easy to follow writing style then I went on to this. I found the style pretentious at times and for the first ten chapters I hated the book. In the beginning I felt like the book was written for the sole purpose of winning an award (which it did – the Pulitzer Prize) without any thought towards having an enjoyable story. As I continued this feeling did subside and I realised the story was well written and was enjoyable but I never quite got over the pretentious style of writing.

For anyone thinking of reading this, I would certainly say to go ahead and try it. After all as I said, I didn’t hate the book, I simply found it hard at times and thought it nothing more than an OK book but the end but I do know a number of people who have rated it five stars and loved every second of reading. So definitely try it – you never know, you may end up loving it way more than I did.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas (Book Review)

This contains spoilers for both A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist And Fury.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was forgettable for me.download (2)

Going into A Court of Mist and Fury was hard, I honestly couldn’t remember a lot of what happened in the previous book and struggled to get into the new novel. As I started reading, small things came back to me… Feyre killed what she thought was a wolf but what turned out to be a faerie, so is taken captive to the other side of the wall where faeries live and humans don’t. This is where my mind became very blurry; I remembered her slowly falling in love with Tamlin and something to do with a curse that only she could break…  I remembered that A Court of Thorns and Roses was a loose retelling of Beauty and The Beast and I remember the plot to Beauty and The Beast so I figured reading A Court of Mist and Fury would be like following on from my favourite Disney film.

I do not remember Feyre dying… No do I remember much about any of the trials she went through Under the Mountain.

This was a slight problem at the beginning of A Court of Mist and Fury but I soon realised that this book was so much better than the first. If you struggled with A Court of Thorns and Roses and are unsure about continuing onto the next book?  Honestly, you will not regret continuing.

Where do I even start with this book? The story was great, I found that it was really easy to follow and unlike a lot of 500+ page books, I never once wondered where it was going with the plot or when it would end. I often read big books and after 100 pages, I feel like everything has already happened and the rest of the book is just filling pages. This was different, after 100 pages I was hooked.

In this follow up novel we see Feyre unhappy and struggling to find peace with previous events which happened Under the Mountain. (I still can’t really remember those events.) Feyre is living with Tamlin who is trying hard to protect her so won’t let her leave the house or grounds fesring for her safety, much to Feyre’s annoyance. After making a bargain with the enemy Rhysand, she is swept off to his court (Night Court) for one week a month. This soon becomes a blessing as she feels trapped at home feels more like a prison since she can’t leave. After a day when Tamlin leaves Feyre locked in the house she is saved by Rhysand and goes to live with him in Night Court deciding that Spring Court (Tamlin’s home) is no longer her home.  Once in Night Court she realises Rhysand isn’t all that bad and she soon begins to find herself with him and his close friends.

Now let’s talk about Rhysand, or Rhys for short… I’ve always classed Luke Brandon, from the Shopaholic series, as my ideal book boyfriend but since reading this book that has all changed. Rhys is perfect. He’s your typical bad boy who everyone hates but when you get to know him you realise he isn’t all that bad and in fact he’s actually a really nice guy. I fell in love with Rhys so bad, throughout the whole thing I was just waiting for Feyre to realise that he is perfect and he’s everything she wants in a man and when it eventually happened (and things got VERY explicit) I was overjoyed.

As I mention, the book is very explicit, especially considering it’s written for a young adult audience but Sarah J. Maas writes it just so perfectly. The sex scenes never once made me laugh or cringe and I felt it was written in a good way for young adults who are perhaps reading about sex for the first time. It didn’t say that you have to be married before you have sex but it did bring out the message that sex is better with someone that you care about and love. Considering the age of the target audience, I found this aspect very important.

The characters were all so well written throughout the entire book. I loved Mor and found Amren sassy and strong. Cassian and Azriel were very macho but they cared about their friends more than anything else and I found myself wanting to be part of their friend group and I wanted to live in Velaris with them all.

Throughout A Court of Mist and Fury we find out that when Feyre was brought back from the dead by the leaders of each court, she was given power from each of them and I loved finding out what Feyre was able to do. Her struggle with understanding her power and the slow realisation that she was actually able to master them was brilliant. I specifically loved the wolves that she made out of water and the way she was able to control them.

The ending got a little bit muddled for me. This was the only thing I wasn’t 100% with in the book. After spending most of her time writing about Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship, the end felt somewhat rushed. Feyre had successfully collected both parts of a book which they needed to use in order to destroy The Cauldron (which was going to be used as a key feature to the oncoming war where mortals would all die or become slaves to faerie) and  so they went to do so however Feyre gets distracted and fails in her goal before Tamlin and Lucien (Tamlin’s right hand man) turn up and explain that they had agreed with the king that if he brought Feyre to Tamlin, Tamlin would allow faerie to pass through his court and enter the mortal realms thus starting the war. This bit all happened within a couple of chapters and I honestly felt like too much was happening all at once. The book was already 600+ pages so why not add 100 more to tell the story properly?

All told, the book was amazing; it had everything I look for in a good novel. It has great romance and a great friendship groups.  I loved the plot and I even loved the rushed plot twist. My only issue is that I have to wait for the next book to be released and I don’t think I’ll find something that I loved this much before the next book in the series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Highlander: A Love Story

Anyone who has known me longer than five minutes will know that i have a pure and absolute love for Highlander. I’m not one of those nostalgia fiends who merely declares a like for a film in order to score some cool points (I don’t even think Highlander would score any cool points in any era of time to be honest). My love for this film transcends space and time, dimensions even. So transcendent it is that I once bid on Ebay for a replica of Connor MacLeod’s sword when I had too much time and not enough sense. Alas, I lost the bid so we will never know what a 19 year old university student would have done with a fake Scottish broadsword.

 

My Highlander journey started on a dark and chilly evening in 1995. I, a mere youthful scamp of 7 at the time, took an opportunity to sneak downstairs and turn the television on after my parent’s had retired to their bedroom for the night. Flicking through the glorious four channels (remember when we only had 4!) that were on offer, I came across a strange vision. A vision that grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and never let me go.

 

Two men, one old, one young, one clad in trainers and dad jeans, the other in swish glasses and suit, were trying to hoof the shit out of the each other in a soggy underground car park with swords. There was the echo of clanging metal, sparks flying as they clashed their weaponry off various pillars, posts and cars, backflips were performed, and there was I,eyes wide, mouth agape, drinking it all in. For the next 110 minutes I was transfixed by the strange and bizarre spectacle of sword fights, bagpipe based flashbacks, and loud excessive noise, until it ended in a blaze of shattered glass and Christopher Lambert howling like a banshee. I’ll never understand how my parents slept through the entire thing (I had the television on loud enough) but i am so thankful that they did because if they hadn’t then maybe I would have never enjoyed Highlander in the way that i did on that very cold evening in 1995.

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It’s not The Godfather Part II, I’ll give you that. It’s not ahead of its field in special effects, the script is nifty but oddly paced, the direction a little too on the wrong side of fast and furious, and the acting is over the top on many of the actors behalf, though enjoyably so, but for giving you that euphoric feeling of joy, Highlander cannot be challenged.

 

As soon as the credits begin, and Brian May strikes that heavy opening chord of Princes of The Universe, you find yourself balling your fist tightly, and then Roger Taylor’s drums kick in and everything is alright with the world. Admittedly, the credits are a ridiculously underwhelming show of red writing over a black screen, but that music, oh that sweet music, gets you so bloody pumped up that it’s hard to stifle an aggressive declaration of ‘YEAH!’ as it rolls out between your clenched teeth.

 

Queen had done soundtracks before, Flash Gordon most notably, but the music they provided for Highlander is without a doubt one of the greatest gifts to humanity itself. Their 1986 release A Kind of Magic is essentially the Highlander soundtrack, unofficially i might add, and shows Queen returning to their heavier roots (Princes of the Universe and Gimme The Prize are almost heavy metal-esque) while also batting out some bona fide hits in One Vision and A Kind of Magic. It’s not an understatement to say that A Kind of Magic is one of my favourite albums, it’s link with Highlander is probably part of that love, and I listen to it on frequent rotation which then makes me want to watch the film which then makes me want to listen to the album which makes me want to watch the film…… repeat ad infinitum.

 

If you can’t get your tiny mind mind past the fact we have a Swiss-French-American playing a Scotsman and a Scotsman playing a Spanish-Egyptian then Highlander is definitely not for you. If you enjoy spotting random British actors in early roles (Terry from Emmerdale and Celia Imrie being two familiar faces that pop up with Scottish accents) or if you want to see what Mr Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants was doing a decade before he decided to make Krabby Patties then you might actually want to give it a whirl. Lambert is perfectly not perfect as MacLeod, his attempt at a Scottish accent being more wonky than one of my old bras, yet I genuinely can’t think of anyone else playing Connor. He plays some of the more comedic scenes (the drunken duel and the underwater sword swishing) with quite a deft touch and as we get further into the flashbacks showing his life pre-New York he manages to bring something more as we start to understand the loneliness and isolation or being an immortal (the bloke is 450 years old .. THINK OF ALL THE DEATH HE HAS SEEN), and we don’t just see Connor as some powerful bloke with a sword, but an actual person struggling with the negatives of the ‘condition’ that he is. Yes, he is an immortal, but look at the human and emotional cost of that.

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Connery plays Connery in hosiery like no one else could. He also gets a fantastically cheesy fantasy film opening monologue which he reads with gleeful gusto like he knows what he is reading is hokum but he’s getting paid a big fat £2 million or so to do it. He and Lambert strike a decent chemistry as his character Ramirez gallops in on his steed and offers to train Connor in order to defeat the nasty piece of work that is the Kurgan. There were only two characters that gave me nightmares as a child, one of them was Ursula from The Little Mermaid and the other was Kurgan. With his pale skin, hollow blue eyes, jet black hair, scars across his neck and face and low, rumbling voice like a cryptkeeper gargling gravel, Kurgan (Clancy Brown or Mr Krabs or every horrible army general on television) is absolute nightmare fuel. He beheads without guilt or fear, skewers one man and lifts him off the ground, he stalks through the night intent on tracking down Connor and separating his head from his shoulders, leaving carnage in his wake. He is wonderfully awful, a foe that you genuinely believe can defeat your hero, and that is a rare thing indeed.

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Mythology wise, Highlander is the strongest film of the lot. Before they started mucking about with the extra-terrestrial angle in the subsequent and increasingly shitty sequels, the mythology was of a far purer nature. Immortals had been fighting for centuries, whittling the numbers down until there were only a handful left who were then drawn to one particular place (which so happened to be New York City) and this was called The Gathering. When an immortal kills another immortal they absorb their energies and this is called The Quickening. Immortals can only be killed by decapitation. Immortals can sense each other’s presence hence the seemingly random opening sword fight in the underground car park. Some nit-picky questions such as ‘why? are amusingly side stepped. Ramirez dismisses the entire ‘why’ question in three lines ending with ‘Who knows?’ You either embrace this mythology or you can spend your sad time trying to pull it apart. Believe me, it’s far better when you just embrace it.

 

I’ve watched Highlander three times already this year and the returns it produces are not diminishing. It remains, for me, a true high water mark of the swords and sorcery fantasy genre that gets sullied by so much lazy rubbish (by some of its own sequels nonetheless). It’s fun, unashamedly daft in parts but with real heart and soul and i reckon i could get at least another 5 or 6 watches out of it by the time the year is out.

P.S…. if you’ve never seen it, what are you doing with your life….

Book review – The Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer)

This review contains spoilers. You have been warned.

I’ve been avoiding doing this review for a while because the series became so big and so popular that I worried if I reviewed it then I wouldn’t do it justice. Today I’m slightly hungover and I already feel like crap so if everyone hates this then it’ll just add to my sad hungover day but people MIGHT like it and if so it could make my day so much better.Cinder_book_cover

I should start off by saying that this is about the four main books; Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter. I own Fairest and Stars Above but I haven’t yet got round to actually reading them.

The books kick off with Cinder, a cyborg girl who lives with her step mother and two sisters. Sound familiar? Well it should do, each book is a retelling of a classic fairy tale. Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, Scarlet retells Little Red Riding Hood, Cress is about Rapunzel and Winter is based on Snow White and to be honest this as the reason I even picked up the books in the first place.

Cinder is loathes by her step mother and one of her sisters but unlike the classic story, she actually has a great relationship with her sister Peony. After her father’s death and loss of fortune, it falls on Cinder to make money for the family by becoming a mechanic in the market place. As there is a plague killing half the country, working in the market place isn’t the safest place to work. Luckily one day Prince Kai walks into Cinder’s workshop needing his android fixed and he takes a shine to Cinder instantly. As Cinder is a cyborg she is generally thought of as a lower class and Kai doesn’t realise Cinder is a cyborg so she has to hide her metal arm and leg from him, only falling and revealing her true self in front of him and the queen of Luna at the royal ball at the end of the book.download (1)

In the second book we meet Scarlet, a feisty redhead who lives and works on a farm with her grandmother. On the same day that Scarlet meets a sexy stranger, she gets home only to realise her grandmother is missing and Scarlet just knows that her grandmother didn’t leave at free will. With the help of the stranger from earlier, Wolf, Scarlet sets out to find her grandmother and save her.

Next we meet Cress. Cress has spent her entire life locked up in a satellite working as a top hacker work for the evil queen of Luna. By this book the queen is trying to find Cinder and wants her dead so knowing that Cress is the best hacker, she sets her the challenge of finding Cinder who is now on the run. Luckily Cress isn’t evil like the queen and she decides to become a double agent, making out that she is helping the queen but in reality she is helping hide Cinder and it helps that Cinder has teamed up with Captain Thorne who Cress is madly in love with.

After a rescue mission which finds Cress and Thorne together on earth, we meet Winter, our final hero. Winter is the step daughter to Levana, the evil queen, and Winter has slowly been going crazy because she refuses to use her magic gift in order to make life easier and look more beautiful. Winter is known to be beautiful but she’s also a beautiful person inside but feels alone on Luna, her only real friends are her guard and childhood friend, Jacin, and the animals in her menagerie. Winter hears of Cinder’s rebellion and her plan to take Levana’s throne and decides to team up with the group now made up of Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne and Cinder’s faithful android Iko.13206828

I love this book series for a number of different reasons but primarily for the kick ass women portrayed in them. Yes there is romance throughout each book and quite quickly it’s established that the protagonist of each book will fall in love but romance isn’t the main feature of the books. The girls are all portrayed as strong minded women who stand up for themselves and the love interests simply help them along the way and help them become better versions of themselves. I loved this idea because I read so many young adult books that portray unrealistic relationship goals and the idea that you can find a man who will help you with your goals and love you for who you are is the message I felt was portrayed in the Luna Chronicles and that to me is a realistic goal and one that people should be aiming towards.

My favourite character changes constantly but at the minute I think Scarlett is my favourite. I love that she remains strong and her relationship with Wolf is only strengthened by the fact that she is strong minded and independent. Scarlet is the only 100% human character out of the lead female characters and can therefore be controlled by people from Luna, due to this she is put through a lot and she comes out at the end stronger than ever because of it.

Queen Levana was an interesting character for me because ii felt she was more than your typical evil queen. I felt that by the end of the books I felt for her and was upset in the end because it became clear why she ended up as bitter and horrible as she did. I felt by the end that she wasn’t just annoyed that she wasn’t the most beautiful person in the end, I felt more that she was simply someone with real issues who let those issues get the better of her and with this she became much more real to me.41SSIYbE2LL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

The guys in the book are amazing. They’re not my favourite love interests that I’ve ever read but they’re written so well. I genuinely found myself really concerned that something was going to happen to one of them but they were such perfect fits for their female counterpart that I couldn’t even imagine one being without the other. When the main guys and women made it through the end I was overjoyed and cried a little bit because I loved Wolf so much.

I can’t recommend the Luna Chronicles enough. They’re exactly my cup of tea, fairy tale retellings with really cool women who fight for the throne and don’t ever give up no matter what is thrown at them? Yes please.

My Favourite Childhood Books

I’ve loved reading from a young age and as a child my most prized possession was my library ticket so I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite books and book series from my childhood.

Each Peach Pear Plumdownload

I still have my very worn copy of this book and at twenty-eight I can still recite the entire book from memory. Before I could read, this was my go to book. Every day I would ask my parents to read this to me and I eventually learned the poem of by heart so I would then ‘read’ the book to my parents.

The Chronicles of Narnia

You’ll most likely all know the sorties of Narnia, the books follow a group of children who find a magical world where they meet Aslan the lion who helps them fight evil in the land and claim the throne. I say I love the series but I mostly loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A group of kick ass kids fighting queens and talking to animals? Yes please.

Goosebumps

Around the age of eight I was getting better at reading and Goosebumps came into my life. goosebumps-featI can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved these books. It was my first glimpse into the world of horror and shortly after I (and the rest of my school) started reading them, the TV show was aired in the UK. It soon became ritual for my friends and I to read a book then watch the episode and discuss if we preferred the book or TV episode better. Goosebumps are a collection of horror books, each with an individual story, written by R.L. Stein. My favourite books include Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, What Lies Beneath the Sink and Be Careful What You Wish For. These books lead to a love of mystery and it was the first time I realised that not every story has a happy ending.

Point Horror41viZadC1VL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Staying in the same category as Goosebumps, Point Horror fiction were horror books written by various authors, my favourites being R.L. Stein and Linda Cargill.
These books were a step up from Goosebumps, horror for a slightly older audience. I would have been around thirteen or fourteen when I started reading these books and the fact that they included some romance (sometimes it didn’t end well) made me feel like I was reading more grown up fiction. My favourite books included The Boyfriend, The Snowman and The Lifeguard.

Sweet Valley High

1758847Now it’s time to admit a slightly more embarrassing collection of books I loved. I turned thirteen and suddenly realised that boys existed and took to the world of books to understand how they worked. Sweet Valley High follows the lives of identical twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, as they made their way through high school. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about individual stories in this series, I just remember feeling really grown up reading about high school relationships.

The Babysitter Club

BSC_Logo_(book_series)These books followed a group of friends who run a ‘Babysitters club’, each book is written in first person by the person named in the title (Kirsty wrote ‘Kirsty’s Great Idea’ and Claudia wrote ‘Claudia and the Little Liar.’) Claudia was my favourite character to follow; she was vice president of the club and always described as creative and arty. I basically wanted to be Claudia. The books basically told the story of children growing up facing normal childhood problems such as their parents going through divorce, sibling rivalry and friendship issues. They helped me with whatever issue I faced at the time.

Harry Potter

downloadI’ve spoken about Harry Potter time and time again so I won’t go too in depth but I could never have written this post without including the book series because from the age of around twelve, there was no book series that I enjoyed more. Harry Potter is the reason I still love reading so much, they made me understand just how amazing it is to get completely lost inside a fictional world.

The Naff Nic Season: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

(95 Minutes, Rating 12A)

 

I remember a time when I had hope in my life. A time where I would feel the sun beating down on my face, a cool breeze rustle through the trees, delicately brushing against my skin, and I would feel joy and elation at a bright new day. But after wading my way through the dank swamp of Nicolas Cage’s worst films, I now feel devoid of a soul, which is now something i have in common with Johnny Blaze, the protagonist (and a bit of a wanker to be honest) of our final film in the Naff Nic Season, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

 

Ghost Rider is not something I really had an opinion about when the first film was released back in 2007. The comics were something that had passed me by like light mist in the distance as I was too busy trawling through the various Punisher volumes and anything Ed Brubaker or Garth Ennis pumped out. The film adaptation of Ghost Rider was derided by the fans of the comics on release and mauled by critics. I, on the other hand, found it a mildly diverting couple of hours in between handfuls of cold chicken nuggets.and reheated chips. It wasn’t the best film I had ever seen nor was it certainly the worst (hello Beaches), so when I was tasked with watching the sequel for this particular challenge I was neither fearful nor elated.

 

In hindsight, I probably should have been a bit more apprehensive as thus far most of the films I have seen for this challenge can easily have dual use as items of torture or to incite riots (put Deadfall on constant loop in Durham prison and i can guarantee it will cause some ructions). But I trundled on in, like a blind man stumbling into a cheese shop, feeling for a strong cheddar only to find a rotten, leaking camembert.

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Cage returns as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, the stupid idiot who made a deal with a demon and ended up with a flaming skull of a head as some sort of benefit, but this time we find him in hiding as his Ghost Rider persona has become increasingly difficult to control. He’s offered a possible way out of his problem by some foisty monk called Moreau (Idris Elba), who promises him freedom if he is able to save a young boy called Danny from the hands of Mephistopheles, who we saw in the first film as Peter Fonda but is now inexplicably played by Ciaran Hinds even though Fonda was interested in reprising his role. As you can see the plot is so thin it borders on anorexic, rehashing the old ‘save the boy, save yourself’ trope from countless other heroic Hollywood films.

 

It’s no surprise to see that one of the writers involved in Spirit of Vengeance is David S. Goyer who, when on form can crack out a decent screenplay i.e. Dark City, The Dark Knight Rises, but somehow manages to puncture these moments of greatness with great big pins of solid shit i.e. Zig Zag, The Unborn. Spirit of Vengeance is one of his glorious fecal points. The script is weaker than my gran’s knees, messy to point of incoherence, which is easy to understand when you discover there are three (three!) screenwriters who had their paws on this screenplay, and there are some truly weak attempts at Schwarzenegger-esque humour smattered around the action sequences, that may have worked if Ahhhnold had been involved but instead are just embarrassing and at odds with the darker nature of the plot.

 

Cage’s performance is on the milder side of crazy. Not as googly as Vampire’s Kiss, not as dead behind the eyes as Left Behind, however, it feels oddly predictable. As we watch him scene to scene, you can almost see where he is going and what he is trying to do before he has even done it which is a massive shame as a big draw of watching a Cage is his sheer unpredictability. His fervent declaration post-Spirit of Vengeance that he wasn’t interested in doing any more Ghost Rider films may hint that he wasn’t having all that much fun filming the sequel. The rest of the cast are perfunctory, though it was nice to see Christopher Lambert pop up for a few minutes with a bald head and a sword (anyone involved in the first Highlander film are tops in my opinion and deserve endless cameos in all films), and Ciaran Hinds makes a fair fist of replacing Fonda, giving Mephistopheles/Roarke a more booming presence. For some reason, Idris Elba agreed to be in this, maybe to facilitate the purchase of a new Lexus or maybe to make a film that pushes The Reaping close to being the worst thing on his reasonably varied c.v, either way he does his bit, running about in a robe looking attractive.

 

For a film with a budget hovering around the 60 million dollar mark, the special effects and CGI in this film are laughable. The rendering of Ghost Rider’s skull is like something from a Playstation 2 game, and the achingly sad scenes of CGI usage in the stunts is enraging. I hope the special effects creators and technicians got a box of chocolates with ‘You tried’ written on the underside.

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I genuinely don’t think Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance seeks to be a good film in the true sense of the word. For me, it seems to aim to fill that ‘entertaining trash’ tick box but unfortunately it only succeeds in being shockingly shite (in the true sense of the word). If you thought the first Ghost Rider was an affront to the comics then you really should not see the second one. While the first film had its moments with some nice spiky exchanges, especially between Cage and Eva Mendes’ characters, and some decent action set pieces, the sequel is hollow, devoid of fun and bogged down by its hackneyed attempts at exposition. Nobody is having fun here, the audience included.

 

IMDB Rating: 4.3

My Rating ★✩✩✩✩

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn (Book Review)

I can honestly say that I’m slightly worried about Gillian Flynn.

After being totally overwhelmed by Gone Girl, I was desperate to read another of Flynn’s books to find out if they were just as twisted and just as hard to put down. I certainly found that with Dark Places.

Dark Places follows Libby Day who, at seven years old, witnessed her brother murder her mother and two sisters. Libby testifies against her brother Ben and spends the rest of her life trying to forget that morning. Twenty five years later Libby is running out of money and agrees to attend the ‘Kill Club’ – a group run by people who are interested in murderers and who want to find out more about them.  After her first meeting, everything she has been trying to hide from is brought back up and she starts to doubt if her brother actually did commit the crime, aftdownload (6)er all she never actually saw him do it, she was hiding from it the whole time.

I would say that I loved this book but I just don’t know how I actually feel about it. I couldn’t stop reading and strived to find out the truth in the same way that Libby did but in all honesty, at times, I found the book really hard to read.

The Day family are not wealthy, before the murders they lived on a rundown farm and were constantly in fear of the place being repossessed. Because of his families poverty, Ben feels hard done to and acts out against his family making him the perfect fit for the murderer as he is always angry at his family and lifestyle and he gets in with the wrong crowd.

For me, Ben’s chapters were the hardest to read. There were some subjects that were completely new to me in terms of reading. The book graphically describes killing animals and sexual feelings that are more than a little inappropriate. While I appreciate that the author was willing to go there and write about something that a lot of authors would be scared to touch (don’t quote me on this, I really haven’t read that many thriller/horror novels to know)I just didn’t enjoy reading it.

Although there are a few chapters that aren’t easy to get through, it does give you a good idea of what life was like for the Day family. Ben is constantly pressured into doing things he doesn’t want to and reading his reactions to these situations could at times be eye opening realising just how these things happen.

One issue that I did have with the book was that I found there are no likable characters. Although I sympathised with Libby and what she went through, I didn’t like her as an adult. As an adult she was living off the death of her family, hoping that sympathetic strangers would donate money in order to help her build a future. I never quite got over the fact that Libby was so lazy and refused to ever get a job and stick to it. Other than Libby I just didn’t care about the characters, by the end I quite honestly couldn’t have cared less if Ben got out of jail or not because I simply didn’t like him and although the rest of the family were dead, I was never particularly sad about it. I found the book more about finding the truth rather than actually building any likable characters.

The only person that I would say I liked was Lyle, the guy who first takes Libby to the Kill Club, I found it rather sweet that he was trying to help Libby out but even still, at the back of my head I kept remembering that he only ever connected with Libby because he was obsessed with her families murders.

Overall the book wasn’t half full of suspense as Gone Girl but it was still a page turner and I would certainly recommend reading it if you like the ‘who done it’ type of read. The ending was clever and each chapter leading up to the ending was crucial to the story and how it all wrapped up. Just be warned that if you do pick up Dark Places you may be slightly grossed out and it may make you ask the question of how twisted Gillian Flynn’s brain is to come up with these ideas.

3.5/5 stars.

The Naff Nic Season: Deadfall (1993)

Rating 18, 98 Minutes

 

You look at the cast list (Nicolas Cage, James Coburn, Peter Fonda, Michael Biehn), you look at the director (Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola) and you think that maybe this film will make a reasonably strong attempt at being more than decent. But no, Deadfall manages to be an atrocious mess of a film on every single conceivable level.

 

Joe (Biehn) is part of a family of con artists and after a sting gone wrong in which he kills his own father (Coburn), he vows to carry out his dad’s dying wish; to steal back some valuables from his uncle Lou (also played by Coburn for god’s sake). Lou turns out to be a trickster himself and Joe finds himself drawn into his uncle’s schemes before becoming completely out of his depth.

 

So far, so meh.

 

I’m going to be bold here and say Francis Ford Coppola’s ability to write a cracking screenplay didn’t quite flow down the family tree to his nephew Christopher. Francis has seemingly hoarded that particular genetic disposition for himself and his own branch. Deadfall’s internal logic is horribly flawed. For a film about a bunch of con artists everyone is absolutely dense as concrete, Joe in particular seems to be utterly oblivious to the fact that he might be getting played by his dodgy old uncle. Although he is sidetracked in rather spectacular fashion by Cage’s Eddie, a bizarrely tanned, moustached coke fiend with an accent so bizarre it sounds like Cage is practicing LOUD Spanish while gargling mouthwash.

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Cage steals this film. Of that there is no doubt. His performance in this film is pure Cage madness. There is top notch yelling of complete nonsense, ‘WELL, VIVE LA FUCKING FRANCE, MAN! ‘ some hardcore cocaine sniffing, an appalling wig which apparently Cage picked out himself, a very Ronseal-esque skin tone which only highlights the shoddy nature of his hairpiece, and some strange line delivery. I’m not quite sure what exactly Cage was going for here. Sometimes OTT works, see Pacino in Scarface for example, but Cage’s histrionics are so out of place in Deadfall it knocks the film on its head, almost drowning the film in a pool of Cage based insanity, although this probably would have been the preferable outcome instead of the hackneyed lump of dump we were left with.

 

Coburn runs him as close as is humanly possible, showing up towards the end as dastardly uncle Lou, with a shocking dye job that is enough to make you despair that such a quality actor has been reduced to camping around in this cesspit. Poor old Michael Biehn is rendered a mere spectator. He tries his best to keep things grounded and a bit more gritty than the parading peacocks of Cage and Coburn, but is completely overshadowed by the scenery-chewing villains. The audience’s heads are turned away from Joe’s plot and journey, and left with a bad case of whiplash as Cage steams into the film, roaring away about 15/20 minutes in. You end up not giving a royal shite about Joe, you just want to spend the next 40 minutes or so trying to work out what the hell Cage is saying. And then when he’s gone the film slides in stale, cliche ridden banality.

 

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Deadfall does not reach the depressing depths of badness like Left Behind did. At least in here we find Cage invigorated and energised, instead of seemingly resigned to his fate of shit films and death like he was in Left Behind. For that reason, it rates higher in my estimation by the width of a pubic hair. But Deadfall is NOT a good film. The Cage-less scenes are intensely boring, the director’s attempts at creating intense scenes through dark lighting and use of shadows just make you squint and wonder why everything is brown (probably because shit is brown which this film is (maybe that’s the deeper meaning we’ve all been looking for)), the counter intuitive actions of its protagonist are just embarrassing and the final showdown couldn’t have been more of a damp squib if you had drowned it in a bath.

 

Thanks to this godforsaken website and my own raging stupidity, I have seen this film twice now. Two times too many if you ask me. I thought maybe second viewing would have allowed to see things to this film that I hadn’t seen the first time round, maybe some shafts of light showing through this blackened turd of a film. Alas not.

 

Deadfall is a true exercise in Hollywood nepotism. Christopher Coppola’s family connections is probably the only reason he was given the money and time to make this utter parcel of shite. Unsurprisingly, it flopped at the box office, bringing in a paltry $18,000 compared to its budget of $10million. According to my research for this Naff Nic Challenge, it is rated higher than The Wicker Man which is the biggest lie since halitosis. At least in The Wicker Man, Cage’s weirdness meshed in with the general angle of the film and provided some comedy gold for years to come (those memes don’t just make themselves). Deadfall is cinematic ebola. Avoid at all costs.

 

IMDB Rating: 3.7

My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ ( i wish there was a poo symbol)

Totally Should’ve Book Tag

  1. Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

Pride and Prejudice, it’s my favourite book and the reason I have unobtainable relationship goals but I there’s one thing wrong with it, it’s that I just don’t know enough about Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. I would love nothing more than a sequel about their marriage and lives after Pride and Prejudice.

  1. Totally Should’ve had a spin off series

Harry Potter. I mean let’s be honest, it’ll more than likely happen eventually and J.K. Rowling has already written The Cursed Child but so far that’s not a series. I would love a series based on James and Lily’s time at Hogwarts but mostly because I need Snape back in my life.

  1. An author who totally should write more books

Nathan Filer. If there’s ever a book that broke my heart, it’s The Shock of The Fall. I loved this book from start to finish and I cried more than I’ve ever cried over a book. Nathan Filer is an amazing author and I honestly can’t understand why he hasn’t written anything more.

  1. A character who totally should’ve ended up with someone else

Peeta Mellark. I just feel he deserves someone who loves him more than Katniss does. It’s not that I really care who Katniss ends with because she had plenty of options but Peeta was one of the nicest characters I’ve ever read and I feel like he ends up with a girl who just settles with him because the guy she really loves potentially killed her sister.

  1. Totally should’ve ended differently

I didn’t like the end of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and I felt no inclination to read the second book in the series as I found the first one a little muddled. I have real issues with the act that no one cares that a child has gone missing and the fact that Jacob doesn’t seem to give a second thought to the fact that he’s leaving his family behind for a group of people he hardly knows.

  1. Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

There’s always a chance it will be turned into a film because this is still a pretty new book but I’d really love to see To All The Boys I Loved Before turned into a movie. It has a typical YA plot but it has some really strong characters and I think it would make a great film… Let’s be honest, we all want Kitty to be real.

  1. Totally should’ve had a TV show

I feel there’s a strong chance that The Lunar Chronicles will be made into films but personally I would love for the book series to be made into a TV show. By making them a TV show it means that they can dedicate a lot more time to actually getting to know the characters and we can have a bit  of back story. I would quite happily watch a full series per book and there’s potential to also include Fairest and Stars Above into it.

  1. Totally should’ve only had one point of view

I honestly can’t tell you a book where I think different points of view don’t work. I love knowing more about the characters and having more than one narrative is the perfect way to do this. If I’ve ever had a problem with a book, it’s because of the plot or writing style not the different views.

  1. Totally should’ve a cover change

I really hate the covers for The Summer I Turned Pretty. As a general rule, I hate covers with real people on, from time to time it works but as a general rule people should not be used for covers.

  1. Totally should’ve kept the original covers

The Gone series by Michael Grant. I’ll be honest when I tell you that I judge books by covers and Gone instantly grabbed my attention with it’s mostly black cover and coloured pages but after reading Gone and Hunger, I went to buy Lies and could only find the new cover with people on it.

  1. Totally should’ve stopped at book one

The Maze Runner. I’m really sorry to all of you guys who loved this series but I thought the books just got worse and worse as they progressed. I would have been happier if The Maze Runner had of been an extra two hundred pages, they could then skip The Scorch Trials and sum up The Death Cure in the last couple hundred pages. The Kill Order was completely unneeded.

 

DC and WB Need To Address The Elephant In The Room

I’m going to throw this curveball out there before we even begin. I didn’t hate Batman vs Superman, nor did I dislike it as much or as venomously as many fans and critics. For me, BvS was a classic example of a hot mess, a pizza with all the toppings but with no particular order or sense to them. I attended a screening of BvS with three other people, one of whom shared my particular opinion, another thought it was atrocious, another thought it was great. Whichever way you look at it, for DC and Warner Brothers, BvS has been a little bit of a wet fart. Yes, it started strongly, churning out best ever numbers for a March opener and the opening weekend numbers were ludicrously high, but bad word of mouth and a critical mauling (lower than Paul Blart: Mall Cop would you believe) has seen the second week numbers plummet by a startling 68% in the US, and similar drops can be seen in the international markets (bare in mind here that with marketing costs included, BvS needs to make at least $800million just to break even). It’s all looking a little bit shaky for this beast of a tentpole film, designed in part to usher in the Justice League films from 2017 onwards, and start the mythological DC ball rolling. Zack Snyder is also set, at the moment anyway, to return to the helm for the first Justice League film and therein lies the problem.

 

Zack Snyder is directoral marmite. He frustrates and enthralls in equal measure. Just looking at his filmography you’ll be lucky to find a film that didn’t cause some sort of agitated grumbling, Legend of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole aside. Dawn of The Dead irritated zombie purists, Watchmen irritated the beardy comic book guys, Sucker Punch irritated everyone I knew, Man of Steel irritated many Superman fans, 300 irritated the sober and over 30s. And now BvS has caused the kind of constipated consternation amongst the general populace that can end careers. But alas, Snyder is one lucky man, as he has a massive fat contract with DC/WB to have his sinewy finger in pretty much all of their important comic book film production pies until the next start of the next decade, if not beyond.

 

Before you spit out your rice/pasta/carb-based dinner option and accuse me of being a Snyder hater, I will mutter ‘au contraire’. I enjoyed Watchmen (I also like the graphic novel). I was even young enough to revel gleefully in the stupid macho noise that was 300, and I will boldly admit to enjoying parts of Man of Steel (the first 25 minutes mainly). Snyder’s films all show us his eye for a particular aesthetic, that slightly saturated, dark and brooding look, layers of slow motion on action sequences, wide shots morphing into extreme close up, heavy use of shadow and silhouette. There is never any doubt that his films look good and that he has made that aesthetic very much his, however, what Snyder frequently fails to transfer to the screen is the emotional heft or complexity to elevate his films from merely eye catching diversions to something affecting and impassioned.

 

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Watchmen is a perfect example of Snyder getting so close yet so far. There are shots and scenes in Watchmen that are pretty much lifted from the graphic novel itself but in concentrating on the form and presentation, and how good Silk Spectre looked, Snyder muddled the genuinely interesting ‘Who’s Watching The Watchmen’?’ theme under a waves of slo-mo violence and bombastic noise. The whole point in a comic book adaptation is just that, to adapt, to mold the inherent plot and themes into a moving visual form. Snyder had the tools there, the cast were spot on, by goodness he was given a big enough budget to do it with, the screenplay was pretty decent, even if a little heavy handed in parts, but in the end we were left with something that was enjoyable and pleasing to look at but emotionally and thematically hollow. Watchmen the graphic novel had everything to say about twisted motivations of the powerful, the motivations of the superhero and how they fit into a ‘real’ society while Watchmen the film told us that The Comedian fought well for an old man and Patrick Wilson was still a stud even after packing on some beef and wearing Deirdre Barlow glasses.

 

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This method of extensive visual lifting from comic books onto the big screen can on very rare occasions work, 300 being a decent example. Thematically speaking 300 is about as deep as a paddling pool. It’s basically some buff men with large biceps and even larger swords heading off to fight some pierced fellows from the other side of the fence. There’s some eyebrow furrowing, much shouting and excessive violence. The graphic novel has no deep seated political leanings nor anything to say about the history of the Persians or the Spartans, it’s just good old Frank Miller violence. And that’s why Snyder’s film presentation of 300 worked. There was nothing deeper to project than what was on the surface on the screen, so Snyder could go the whole hog visually with the violence, with Gerard Butler’s beard, with the ripped muscular physiques.

 

With BvS we find Snyder struggling again to find that balance between the aesthetic (though he made me fancy Affleck so one point to him there) and the emotional. The resonance just isn’t there. The only time he comes close to managing to portray something emotively is the opening sequence in which we see the close of Man of Steel from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. It was mildly refreshing to see an attempt to show the actual human cost from all that destruction, and if Snyder had continued that theme and stayed true to it throughout the film we may have had an actual thread to cling on to for the next 140 minutes, but alas he dropped it all in favour of more wanton destruction later, crowbarring in an embarrassingly turgid line about the Gotham port being abandoned so NO INNOCENTS CAN DIE (CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THE BACK?!).

 

DC/WB need to take a step back here and look at what they have. In terms of actual characters DC have a roster of delightfully peculiar and wonderfully dark oddballs to choose from. They have made some cracking casting choices for their future films (Will Smith as Deadshot and Jason Momoa as Aquaman spring to mind), and have enough money to get the writers they need and to market the royal shit out of anything they release from their sandbox. Snyder is a producer on most of these future projects (Suicide Squad included) so he is going to be involved in some capacity, but DC/WB needs to make a decision about what kind of superhero films they want to make.

 

To stick with Snyder as director is to stick with director slavish to the visual replication of a comic book without much concern for narrative integrity or cohesion. DC/WB have to be bold and plump for another option if they want their universe to come together as beautifully as Marvel’s has done so far. They need someone who can bring the visuals and the narrative otherwise they are going to be left with a lot more to be concerned about than just second weekend number drops.