August 2011 Archives

August 31, 2011

Babes + Alien, Leia And Dreams Of Rockets T-Shirts

Threadless for the win as always...

August 28, 2011

Super 8

Somehow I managed to avoid spoilers for Super 8. Not just detailed spoilers but completely what the film was about. I didn't watch a trailer, read a review or even see a poster. Quite deliberately. An amazing feat don't you think given the fact that it was out in the USA about a month before the UK. All I knew was that it was written and directed by JJ Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. And I thought Lost was amazing. That was enough.

I'm sure my ignorance helped increase my enjoyment because the film managed to surprise me.

To say I enjoyed it is an understatement, I grinned from beginning to end, apart from when I was jumping out of my skin. It's like a classic Spielberg film except that the climax is cranked up to 21st Century standards and there are lots of lens-flares. The heroes are the kids, the bad guys are the adults (sort of), there's teenage angst and troubled parents and a moral, there's almost teenage love and homemade zombie films. And of course it's Science Fiction, but I didn't know why when I started watching the film, so I won't say now. But it's cool.

The film is clearly an homage to Spielberg, but you also feel that there's an autobiographical element, with the love of making films highlighted by the kids joyous film making using a Super 8 camera. In fact the film is infused with love and joy, right down to the end of the credits. I don't think it's just a nostalgic trip either, I reckon the kids of today will love it too.

Tremendous fun. Loved it.

August 15, 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Does the world need another Planet Of The Apes film? The original is a classic, the subsequent films are often regarded as under-rated, the TV show was pretty rubbish and the Tim Burton reboot was terrible. Surely another film would be pointless? I had low expectations.

The first good decision made for this film however was to dispense with the masks (aka Helena Bonham Carter as an ape) and use CGI. To be honest, until I heard an interview with the director after seeing the film, I had no idea whether it was all CGI or whether they had used some real apes. It's all CGI, but it's remarkable. Andy Serkis plays Cesar the protagonist ape, using state of the art motion capture by Weta, and the expression and emotion conveyed is quite brilliant.

Also good is the human acting, with James Franco playing the scientist struggling with morals, and John Lithgow as his Alzheimer suffering father. 

And then, amazingly, there is a good story. It's a story which offers believable reasons for actions, moral questions and a surprising and yet inevitable climax. The characters try to do the right thing, both the humans and the apes, but every step leads to complications. 

It's a completely believable story of the origin of The Planet Of The Apes, with a few knowing nods to the original: the TV news showing the astronauts setting off for Mars, the repetition of the "damned dirty ape" line. Not too much in your face, and raised a chuckle from those who knew the original.

I enjoyed it immensely, and yes I'm quite surprised. It's intelligent Science Fiction, taking one key idea and examining its consequences, then taking it a step further. All rather good. And the apes are amazing. A sequel please (you don't get me asking for that very often.)

August 14, 2011

What I Read On Holiday

I've been on holiday, and as is traditional I took books.

Usually I take a few books however this year I decided to read Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon.

As a light entrĂ©e I read Bricks then divided into the monster main course.

I'm only half way through. Which means that by every day, non-holiday reading schedules I should be finished by 2013. 600 pages to go (and small print) of not the easiest reading. You really have to concentrate, even the sentences have tangents.

So the book reviews may stalled for a while. In the mean time my Fringe watching project will continue and I have a review of season one to write.

August 11, 2011

My Story Trails Is Online At Daily Science Fiction

My story Trails has been published online at Daily Science Fiction. It's about what happens when the EU shuts down in total isolationism, combined with mandatory GPS tracking.
Clarke stood on the dunes, watching the party coalesce on the beach. Over the horizon, and the grey swell of the ocean, lay Africa. Beyond their borders. Outside. Lands of suffering. A knot formed in his stomach just at the thought. He shifted his focus, tried to relax, and scanned the crowd for the familiar gait of his brother, longing to catch a glimpse of his face, but from a distance he couldn't quite resolve the features of the crowd. The wind blew hard off the sea, flicking his hair around his eyes and making the task more difficult. The exhibits, consumer products whose trails constituted art, stood on pedestals on the beach, the crowds floating between them.

August 9, 2011

Comments Are Off

I've turned comments off for the moment while I finish twiddling with my current upgrade and to prevent a barrage of spam that for some reason my anti-spam plugin is missing. If you want to leave a comment then you can use Twitter or Google+ to talk to me for the moment.

Bricks: A Novel by Leon Jenner

Bricks by Leon Jenner is full of interesting promise on the outside. The cover is a beautiful wrap around ink style drawing, the blurb talked of meta-physical uncertainty, the size was thin and presumably punchy?

The story starts with a first person narrative of a brick layer, explaining why he was a brick layer and then implying that he is more than a brick layer, talking of earlier lives, of the Romans invading Britain.

Unfortunately there's no plot to speak of, the book is instead a first person wandering metaphysical waffle. Is the bricklayer a Druid who saw off the Romans? Did he get slaughtered in a Roman invasion? By the end I wasn't sure and didn't care. The metaphysical meandering left me bored, the occasionally thrown in word from physics (like quantum) felt forced and I was left longing for something to actually happen.

Maybe I missed something? Maybe I didn't get the deeper meaning or appreciate the bricklayers musings?

Don't know, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it.