Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

As the movie begins we discover that the game is well and truly afoot, Holmes (played by the suave and debonair Robert Downey Jr) is deeply lost in many months of investigation and research into seemingly random events. No one sees the threads that connect these events, no one except the great Sherlock Holmes that is. He discovers one factor within the centre of this web of death, destruction and deceit - Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris).
Watson (the tache-tastic Jude Law) is about to be married and Holmes manages to divert his stag-do so he can investigate further into the mysterious goings on. During this we encounter the gypsy Simza, played by Noomi Rapace. Simza along with the other female characters in the movie are unfortunately completely overshadowed by the bromance between Holmes and Watson. The chemistry of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law onscreen cements your belief that these to characters can co-exist. Yes just like Depp in the Pirates movies we may be veering into becoming a caricature but hey it doesn’t matter, at least its an entertaining one!
Now that Watson’s honeymoon has been rudely interrupted, he once more finds himself drawn into the fray in order to assist Holmes. Moriartys tangled web leads them on a chase across europe to track down the infamous professor and crack his master plan. I particularly liked the escape sequence through a forest as the full arsenal of a recently infiltrated weapons factory is unleashed upon them. The cinematography used in this scene particularly is outstanding, slow motion shots of trees exploding all around them. Additionally a slightly disorienting effect was used where the character focused on is in slow motion but the background flashes past at high speed, this definitely added to the feeling of chaos.
The professors plan is to create a war between multiple countries so he can increase the demand for arsenal and increase his wealth by being both the creator and suppler of those weapons. Harris plays Moriarty brilliantly his silent menace hiding in the shadows but as his battle of wits with Holmes continues his malice becomes more apparent. I love how both Holmes and Moriarty respect each others intellect but not their beliefs much like many other well portrayed antagonists (Magneto/Xavier, Obi-Wan/Anakin. The Doctor/The Master).
Stephen Fry also puts in a very funny turn as Sherlock's older brother, Mycroft Holmes. He does tend to just play his over eccentric self, maybe slightly channelling Oscar Wilde while displaying more of himself than I can bet you have ever seen before.
As the movie starts to come to its climax, Holmes and Moriarty are stuck in their tête-à-tête on Reichenbach Falls, all the while Watson has to prove that some of his partners skills of deduction have rubbed off and save the day. Its definitely not a true adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original work but it does have action shoot outs, martial arts and witty lines while being bigger and better than Guy Ritchie’s 2009 original. Stylish, funny and highly entertaining.

A Gaelic Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sunshine warm upon your face
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand

Proud Lion's Watchers Council - Zombie Night.

One night, three guys, a hell of a lot of pizza and rum....oh yeah and did I mention the zombie hordes??

Myself, Robert Barton-Ancliffe (who also creates the watcher blogs for Proud Lion) and of course the proprietor of Proud Lion himself Mr Ben Fardon all got together to get in the flesh eating mood ready for the 2nd season of The Walking Dead TV series.

We watched:

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) 
The Walking Dead Series 1 Episode 6 (2010)

What happened that night was recorded and then documented ...  

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Red State Proud Lion Review

Kevin Smith’s Red State is penned as a horror but don’t let that fool you... 

 ......fear god and cling film!

For the rest of the article go here -

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Best Man Speech for Spud and Tash

I have known Chris as a friend for as long as I can remember, he has been there for me always. Through the jokes and the tears, through thick and thin, through the highs and lows of life. 
He was my best man, which makes me very proud to be his. I know he will be there for Tash and Jasper as he has been there for me, for the rest of their lives together.
When I first met Tash I felt a tad protective over my best friend, (well I didn’t want to share!) but very quickly as I grew to know her I realized what a wonderful person she is and how good she would be for him. Overtime I watched their relationship blossom and grow stronger. Then when baby chip (I mean Jasper!) came into the world I was overjoyed to see how fantastic parents both of you are, Tash you really are an amazing mother and Chris you are perfect as a play friend to Jasper! But honestly you’re such a great dad and I cannot wait for the day where Jasper will have a little friend to play with. (don’t tell Hannah!)
Now back onto the other happiest day of your lives, today!
Chris you look very handsome in your suit, and Tash you look absolutely stunning. May you both lead a life of love and happiness for many years to come.
Now would you all please stand for the toast . . .
To Spud & Tash
Heres to your future as husband and wife, the adventure has only just begun!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

127 Hours - My Experience, My Adventure.

I like adventure; spur of the moment, flight of fancy type of adventure.  127 Hours was my first trip to the cinema by myself and man what an experience it was!

“Never Hear Surf Music Again” by Free Blood gives a good beat to the intro of the movie, mixed in with images of people living their lives.  Then we get shots of Aron Ralston played by James Franco, up early and getting prepared for a day of adventure, an adventure which ends up much more.  127 hours of pain, emotion and realisation.

Aron’s journey to Blue John Canyon is an adventure in itself, off the beaten track he drives, mountain bikes and hikes to get to his destination. During he is taking photos, encapsulating the moment and his energy for adventure.

A short break into his journey he meets two female hikers, Kristi and Megan.  After some flirting and a little adventure dropping into a subterranean lake, he is back to his journey with music pounding and energy flowing.  Then while descending a narrow opening, a boulder breaks free and falls along with Aron.  In the process trapping his arm between the boulder and the rock face!  The title hits as silence fills the air.

Now a different journey begins, one which is harsh mentally as well as physically.  Trapped we see Aron struggle to break free, to stay warm and hydrated.  We travel with Aron on an odyssey of hallucinations washing over us like sunbeams, defining moments in his life and possibilities of the future; a son which he may never have if he doesn’t get free.  All his life has led to this, like loose threads of the universe all tying together. The score continues to build the levels of suspense and emotion.

After five days of being trapped the realisation arrives that he will have to sever his arm to get free, to live – this decision makes you realise the possibilities and extent of which us as a race would go to, to stay alive.  A bone crunching build up lead by guitar squeals and tension building upon tension, is too much to turn away from.  The sounds will haunt you more than any cheesy horror movie and rather than over do gore and blood the horror comes from the realisation that at that moment a man actually had to endure this and it was of his own doing.

Once free Aron’s journey was still not over, he is then forced to rappel down a rock face and hike several miles exhausted, covered in blood he finally runs into other hikers.  The feeling of elation at that moment even for the viewer is overpowering.  When the rescue helicopter finally arrived, I am not ashamed to say a tear definitely rolled down my face while I breathed a sigh of relief.

Again Danny Boyle strikes, a wonderful masterpiece of cinema containing stunning visuals, an enigmatic soundtrack and some very stylish cinematography. I feel this is James Franco’s best work to date also, upon first hearing it was him in the movie I was unsure, having only seen the likes of Spiderman and Pineapple Express before.  But now I applaud him as he manages to portray one man’s heart pounding journey towards near death and back again very wonderfully. 

Aron Ralston - a true superman, epilogue moments at the end of the movie show his continuing adventures and his now wife & son.

After watching this movie my emotions left raw just sat on a bench in a daze just watching the world go by, every bite or swig of drink I gulped seemed to taste better.  Appreciating life and its beauty and horrors all rolled into one.  This story will stay with me for some time and it’s an adventure that I recommended to one and all.

127 Hours is released on Blu-ray and DVD on the 6th June 2011.
The Soundtrack and Novel are out now.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Green Lantern [WonderCon Snippet] - Impressions

My first impressions of the original trailer were fearful and unsure; will the bright coloured suits and very alien looking lanterns not fit well on the big screen?  Will Ryan Reynolds be able to shake off the cocky jock character and become something more?

Well I can firmly say the following footage from Wondercon definitely has quelled that fear and replaced it with excitement and wonder.

I feel this gives us more of an insight into the emotional journey that Hal has to take when adopting the power that is being a Green Lantern, from his first encounters with Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) to discovering himself and what he needs to become.

All the cast seem to fit perfectly; Geoffrey Rush as the voice of Tomar-re and Dennis Haysbert as the voice of Kilowog.  But especially Mark Strong as the complete embodiment of the infamous Sinestro!
I was right with my first impression about everything feeling very alien, but now I feel it all coming together and fitting like fine pieces within a puzzle.  The Green Lantern’s suit that looks like it’s a living thing, adapting for each of its wearers and the immense planet of Oa.  Even the very abnormal lantern itself – they no longer make me fearful, the fan wondering if the movie will fail, instead they make me want to see what more of what this movie has to offer.

One thing that sealed the deal was the moment Hal first spoke the oath.  Starting with a small bit of nervous humour, unsure of what he was doing and finally the power taking over him.  The gradual change of his eyes sent shivers of excitement down my spine, so much so I now remember the Oath where I always forgot it before.

In Brightest Day in Blackest Night,
No evil shall escape my sight,
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power. . . Green Lantern’s light!!

During the footage we also get to see more of the evolution of Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) from fearful human to Parallax powered antagonist.  Parallax itself threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe.  

Music always plays a massive role in the trailers I watch, some work for, some against.
  The orchestral score in this footage feels like the emotional heartbeat of the movie, pulling you in and increasing the momentum until finally the title logo fills the screen.

Possibilities of a sequel, big summer blockbuster? Highly likely but hopefully that won’t be a bad thing if what I have seen so far is anything to go by.  I have also heard rumours that Guy Gardner may appear and Nick Jones Jr. has been credited as John Stewart so we may be gearing up to see the full set of corps in the future?

Well I will let you decide – full of fear or something else?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Watcher for Proud Lion - Battle: LA Review

........A man on his last day of the job, what can possibly go wrong?

Los Angeles and cities everywhere are being struck by what seem to be meteors, but they‘re slowing down before they hit. Earth is suddenly invaded by aliens that have landed off the shore of LA, and begin killing everybody along the beach.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My SFX Weekender - Day Two


More bacon sandwiches and Green & Blacks hot chocolate that is the stuff of awesomeness – what a way to face the day!
Is Doctor Who still for children?  This was the subject of day’s first panel containing Paul Cornell, James Moran, Toby Whithouse and Ben Aaronovitch.

There was some rescheduling and a 2000AD came on first, so Hannah and I popped back to the chalet to inform our other trip members.

After the allotted hour we headed back to the main void to watch the Doctor Who panel, it was very interesting for me especially as a great ‘whovian’ if you will.  It contained great writers for both the TV show and novels which tie into that universe.  The conclusion that I (and I think they) came to, is that Doctor Who is both a children’s show and for adults at the same time, it is not one without the other. 
Again I went back to the Forbidden Planet stall as another favourite author was signing – Paul Cornell.  I had only really gained knowledge of his work after he opened my local comic store Proud Lion, ( but he was very jovial and pleasant to speak to and he even let my wife take an impromptu picture.

With my mind on signings I thought about the ‘headliners’ signing area as we had brought signing passes for an extra £20 and the queue was increasing.  We joined it, hoping that it wouldn’t take long – we ended up watching the next three Q&A’s while still in the queue! 

These Q&A’s ironically contained the people we were queuing to get signatures from!

Keeley Hawes
Craig Charles
Russell Tovey (Replacing Tony Head)

Keeley was lovely and I think slightly overwhelmed by geekyness at the event, Craig Charles had a pint in has already and was raring to go ready for his DJ set later and finally Russell Tovey seemed almost shy and completely down to earth.

At this point we were nearing the actual signing area (only about two and half hours later!) and to our discovery they had split the queue for the different stars in order to speed things up.  Much to our disappointment this meant we had to decide who we wanted to meet most.  We tried to separate and grab Keeleys signature first but as she started signing first her queue actually got shut off, in a way this decided things for us and we stayed in the queue for Craig Charles. (Sorry Russell but I just have been watching Red Dwarf longer)

Alright Babe?

Craig seemed like a laugh (still a pint next to him) and a bit of a sleaze when it came to the ladies, but I feel that has almost become expected of him.

After the signing we sat in the bar with a pint while probably my favourite author of all time came on stage Sir Terry Pratchett.  There was complete love for him in the room, I felt it was a shame that I found it difficult to hear him (not sure if that was because of the mic or the pitch of his voice in general) but after the signing queue I was knackered and had to sit down for a bit.  After a while a friend actually forced me to get closer to hear and I shuffled to the side of the stage and actually was quite close at that point.  I felt Stephen Baxter was only on stage with him to assist, as there were a few moments where Terry was struggling with his sentences (in 2007 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease).  Seeing this made me very depressed, a great person and amazing writer stuck with a disease that makes it more and more difficult to do what he loves and which will eventually a life not worth living.  I know he has mentioned before that he would like to commit ‘assisted suicide’ before it gets to this point and in my personally opinion I completely agree with that choice.

(For more information - and )

We then had a massive break where there was nothing going on in the main area and not much we wanted to see elsewhere, so we headed back to the chalet and cooked brinner (breakfast for dinner!).  By a strange coincidence we switched the TV on and Robert Llewelyn’s Carpool show was on, guest starring Craig Charles!

We then headed back for the SFX Sci-Fi awards and Richard Sandling; a stand up comedian.  The awards were quite funny even though not much was happening, no-one really turned up to accept the coveted awards – apart from one surprise guest (Steven Moffat!).  Robert Rankin and his wife were hosting the awards, he was very fun and friendly which made the proceedings much more entertaining.

I found the comedian Richard Sandling alright, I enjoyed his YouTube style sketch videos but I wouldn’t venture out of my way to see him again.

Next up was the late night entertainment in the form of Craig Charles DJ, I not a massive dancer so my wife and I headed back for a chill out eve with music (My Iphone4 is louder than I expected on its own) and some cider.  

Life’s a beach and then the journey home . . .  

My SFX Weekender - Day One

Up early maybe I was getting used to my surroundings but honestly it probably had more to do with the fact the beds were a bit uncomfortable - rather hard even for me.

Bacon sandwiches for breakfast thanks to my awesome wife and onto our first panel. The panel - How to get started in comics; (with Tony Lee, Dan Boultwood, Dez Skinn and Paul Cornell) was light-hearted and easy to watch with discussions about their combined experiences in the business and how much harder it is than most people think.

Next science in science fiction with Peter F Hamilton, Gary Gibson, China Mieville, Stephen Baxter and Kevin J Anderson.  An in-depth conversation about what science fiction is and how we perceive it.  The panel was very interesting, the subject as well as my observation of the authors on it.  I felt that Peter F.H and China didn’t get on at all, one discussing the old the other the new.  There were a few moments where Peter completely verbally disagreed with China, the general argument and banter made things much more interesting to watch.

I then went to the Forbidden Planet stall at the back of the room which Kevin J Anderson had moved to for a signing session.  There was less of a queue, rather a small rabble of people but I was very glad to get to meet him.  He seemed very pleasant and down to earth (lol).  I brought his new novel to get signed, shook his hand and complemented him on his Saga of the Seven Suns series (it has some brilliant characters and immensely intertwining story).  I wholly recommend you check them out.   

We then had a bit of a wonder and checked out the barter town, a small selection of stalls to purchase from - some kooky, some cool but all geek!
One thing I was very interested in getting was a signature from the great Terry Pratchett, so when I found out that he wasn’t signing I was highly disappointed. 

I then realised that the next item on the program was an auction for the Great Ormond St hospital, one of the items up for bid was a signed Terry Pratchett book!
The auction was great fun to watch and they had some great items, which donated a reasonable amount of money.  Shame I didn’t have enough free cash to throw about, the TP book went for about £160 and they also had a replica Cyberman helmet which went for £300!

We then stayed to learn how to survive a zombie apocalypse; this consisted of four stage actors creating rules and scenarios in which they had to act out to find out which of the audience would actually be capable to survive.  This was all done with tongue firmly in cheek but overall very well rehearsed and definitely made me laugh.

A bit more wondering and some food before the final events of the day, we then headed to the main void for the Imaginarium by the Area 51 group.  This was two jam packed hours of dancing girls, fire eaters, jugglers, contortionists, an escapist which was also a comedian (a bit like Russell Brand) called Chris Cross and a guy called Mental Dave.  Oh and did I forget to mention a blooming great big robot? No wait there was two! (I recommend you check out Titan the robot)  
Check out further photos here -

For late night entertainment Pat Sharp (yes Funhouse's Pat Sharp and no he didn’t have the twins with him) was on stage controlling the decks.  Some stayed but I decided to retire to our chalet for some drinks and relation ready for the next day . . .

End Of Day 1.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My SFX Weekender

Also my first convention.
I am quite surprised it has taken me this long to go to one, and this one was only by chance!
I am an unlimited member of Cineworld Cinemas, because of this I get a monthly newsletter which usually I tend to only glance over . . . but this time I noticed something extra.  A competition for something called SFXWeekender2 you say?  What’s this?  Now during my time as a newsagent I had read many a copy of SFX while bored out of my little brain serving the masses. (a light and entertaining TV/Movie/General Sci-Fi magazine)
I had actually forgotten about entering and about a month later while I was living the general SSDD (same sh*t different day), I had a phone call from a very lovely lady called Terri to say I had won - Not only one ticket but four!! I got suddenly excited to say the least!
The organising and planning on who I was going to invite and what accommodation etc did take the wind out of my sails a little, but then the day came it was time to leave.  A long journey through towns, country roads and getting slightly lost, we finally arrived at Pontins (Yes Pontins!) Camber Sands. 
Glamorous Aint It?
Trying to find our chalet in the dark felt eerie, we wondered around much like zombies in a place that time forgot.
Actually our chalet was sufficient, it had a roof, bedrooms (with added nursing home feel plastic sheeting!) basic utilities and a tiny little TV.  Oh and don’t forget the faint waft of piss!
Decided to have a little wonder, went to the first item on our schedule – a double episode viewing of SyFy’s Alice.  A much stylised mix of the classic story and dark fantasy/science fiction. Had interesting actors and some good ideas but I can see why other channels hadn’t picked it up, I just couldn’t get away from the rest of the cast & shoddy CGI. 
I was rescued from the incredibly uncomfortable seats (like your old primary school plastic ones) by a call from my lovely wife, who had just arrived.
We had a small case of getting locked out of the chalet and was luckily rescued by Mcbain the maintenance man who nicely broke in for us to get back in!

Once in the fact we were off work and frivolities commenced – pizza, cider and crisps party time in style :-)

End Of Part 1 . . .