Tag Archives: Reviews

Review – Ecko Rising

Danie Ware’s debut novel Ecko Rising is the tale of the cybernetically enhanced assassin Ecko, who joins a resistance group fighting against a world where people are medicated into servitude. While on reconnaissance to track down the pharmacist responsible for the drug, Dr Grey, Ecko barely survives the mission and finds himself in a virtual world. Whether created by his own unstable mind, the resistance group’s psychiatrist Eliza, or his adversary Dr Grey, Ecko has to play the game, save the world and at the same time, save himself.

Danie writes a rich world filled with large archetypal characters such a the healer, the prophet, the warrior, the thief and of course the evil alchemist. All the while making each one worth caring about – apart from the bad guy, you really want the anti-hero Ecko to kick his ass. Both worlds are blissfully unaware of the threat is it under, suffering the same sort of apathy as Ecko’s London; where chemists/alchemists plot to rule the world, with only a small group of people fighting against the evil. There’s quite a lot of violence and a smattering of sex, and yet it never feel gratuitous. It always fits the plot rather than having it for the sake of it. Danie writes in such a way as you can clearly visualise the worlds she is describing. You can feel the the rake of a monster’s claw; the knife or sword blade; the heat of sex and fire; and the pain of loss, either life or limb. There are also quite a few unexpected twists; scenes that are brilliantly set up, only to meet swift and cruel ends.

Ecko himself, to say he’s the most interesting character in the book does him little justice. He’s cynical, a cruel wit, rebellious, selfish and uncaring. The first half of Ecko Rising I found myself not liking him, yet funny; a pain and yet siding with him. As the book, and the program he’s stuck in plays itself out, Ecko begins to see that he can care for those around him, even the fantasy characters of Varchinde. I found him more and more likeable, even as he keeps up bad behaviour to those around him. An anti-hero, Ecko slowly becomes a champion.

What I founds truly brilliant was that the reader plays the role of Ecko, just as the author plays the role of the psychiatrist Eliza. Danie fucks with the reader’s head, never knowing if the world is based in Ecko’s mind or an actual alternate world. The book never plays from Ecko’s point of view alone. We’re introduced to people who may never meet Ecko, yet play large roles within the story. It weaves a number of threads together, only to pick them apart again as Ecko crosses paths with these people. So has Ecko been plugged into virtual world, or has he somehow really ended up a magical fantasy world? Right up to the end, it’s an answer that shifts from one to the other and back again.

An ambitious tale and brilliantly written, Ecko Rising ends by setting up the sequel; one that I am most definitely looking forward to.

Danie Ware is the publicist and event organiser for cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet. She has been immersed in the science-fiction and fantasy community for the past decade. An early adopter of blogging, social media and a familiar face at conventions, she appears on panels as an expert on genre marketing and retailing.

Danie Ware will be reading from and signing, Ecko Rising (Titan Books) at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Thursday 20th September from 6 – 7pm.

Ecko Rising by Danie Ware, available from 21st September, Titan Books, £7.99. You can pre-order your copy from Forbidden Planet.

Fancy a brain burger..? The Walking Dead’s Gory Gourmet

Like zombies? Enjoy your food? Ever felt like dining like the undead? Well now you can with The Gory Gourmet , who are the first mobile gastronomers to offer a menu made up entirely of brains and offal.

Certain to cater to the tastes of customers both dead and alive who have a penchant for the innermost of body parts, The Gory Gourmet was created to celebrate next week’s release of zombie thriller series The Walking Dead Season 2, which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 27th August.

The delectable delicacies on offer will utilise meaty morsels that are all too often overlooked with a tantalising menu devised and developed by street food king, chef Mark Jankel. Formerly of Notting Hill Brasserie and now running the wildly successful mobile food company Street Kitchen, Mark will work his magic to freshly prepare the food on site.
The menu comprises three delicious brain dishes with some offally good sides, all using responsibly sourced British ingredients…

The Menu:

Big Brain Burger
Brain burger with smoked mustard mayo, lettuce and cheese in a sesame seed bun
Crispy Brain Dippers
Crispy chunks of brain with barbecue sauce
Brain Salad Wrap
Crispy chunks of brain with wild rocket and tarragon mayo
Feet and Thyroid Nuggets
Nuggets of pig’s feet and cow thyroid with herb mayo
Skewered Hearts
Grilled beef heart skewers with horseradish mayo

On Wednesday 22nd August, The Gory Gourmet will park up at world-renowned Camden Lock Market, just inside the entrance to Camden Lock Place, and will give away free servings of the dishes on offer to the lucky customers who are first in the lunchtime queue from 12.30pm.

On Thursday 23rd, it will move on to a Lower Marsh Market, Waterloo for another lunchtime serving up the dishes to hungry Londoners, again on a first-come-first served basis. Potential customers will be able to track the trailer’s progress by visiting facebook.com/TheWalkingDeadUK and will also be asked to check in to the Facebook Location: The Gory Gourmet – before redeeming their free meal.

Further locations will be confirmed over the coming weeks.

Mark Jankel said: “I can’t wait to bring this completely new offering to the public later this week…It’s a great opportunity to use some unusual British ingredients. After a heavy morning in the office our customers should have the appetite of the Walking Dead, lucky for us it means we should have some long queues!”

The second instalment of the post-apocalyptic, smash hit TV series, The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season follows police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) as he continues to lead a group of survivors across the USA, in the midst of a zombie epidemic. Out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 27th August, the critically acclaimed series is the perfect accompaniment to a brain burger.

Review – Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks

Thanks to Jammy Dodgers And Jelly Babies blogger Daniel for allowing us to reproduce his spoiler free review for Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks.

I totally passed him in complete ignorance yesterday (14th August 2012), I went back to try and get a look once my friend said he was there but I was ushered on by staff. How could I have missed Matt Smith?! I was at the premier of the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, Asylum Of The Daleks, and I had missed Matt Smith. The shame!

However, despite letting myself down somewhat, the new episode of our hallowed show did not. In fact it was one of the single best viewing experiences of my entire life, not only because it was on the big screen at the BFI in the heart of London; not only because we were all surrounded by the cast and crew and writers from Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Stephen Moffat, not only because other people from the shows history also surrounded us such as Nicola Byrant (who played Peri back during Colin Baker’s stint as the doctor). But also because the episode was packed full of huge surprises, surprises that not even a room full of middle aged men who live their lives on the forums had guessed! Once again Stephen Moffat has turned around to fans and said “I bet you didn’t see that coming.” We sure hadn’t!

Matt Smith was back to his brilliant self in this story which is probably the most original Dalek story since the show was brought back to our screens in 2005, and dare I say it, out of the entire classic series too! It is like nothing we have seen before; Stephen Moffat has really pulled this one out of the bag. I don’t even recall a classic series episode that quite attempted anything like this episode has. As promised, it features every single type of Dalek that has ever appeared into the show back from the 1960’s to present day; plus to the delight of fans, I can confirm there is a worth while explanation to the old-style Daleks showing up.

Not only is every Dalek ever in it, but the Moff-Meister has managed to do what many many writers have failed to do. He has brought the fear and tension back to the Daleks. Some moments are dark and vile, just a Dalek moment should be. It seems the show is starting to find the right balance with the Daleks, whereby the most dangerous warriors the universe has ever produced get defeated and apparently destroyed every time their show they pop up with a new sinister plan.

Matt Smith and Stephen Moffat

Some fan trivia for you now, Russel T Davies, former show runner and head writer’s Dalek which inhabits his hallway at his Manchester apartment, does actually appear in this episode as Stephen Moffat wanted it to become a canonized Dalek!

I urge all fans to avoid spoilers, and if you are unfortunate enough to encounter them, please do not share them with others. Some of the surprises concealed within this episode brilliantly highlight Moffat’s sheer genius and cunning. For your own enjoyments sake, do not spoil it for yourself!

It’s important to note just how far along Amy’s and Rory’s relationship has come from when we last saw them, without giving away too much as to how they’ve changed, I must say that both Karen’s and Arthur’s performances together were stunning and almost had me in tears. There are almost two separate stories within this episode, the one with the Daleks, and the one about the Pond’s relationship.

Writing a spoiler free preview is very hard, So a few teasers can’t hurt can they? One location will amaze you. One woman will leave you asking lots of questions, such as “where did you get the milk?”

Stephen Moffat gave away a few details about the up coming series (broken into two mini-seasons, of 5 episodes and 8 episodes a piece, including one at Christmas); so long to two partners, each week will be a brand new ‘blockbuster’ adventure, a weekly movie condensed into 45 minutes without the boring bits. Asylum of the Daleks definitely fulfilled this promise.

The whole episode is awash of brilliant humor, wit and tension with both shocking and humble moments. Alas, Stephen Moffat pleaded and has sworn us all to secrecy, so that is the most you’re getting out of me. Excited?! Well you should be, the episode will air on the 1st September on BBC One, and it will be an event not to be missed!

Oh, and remember: Rule 1, Stephen Moffat Lies!

Asylum Of The Daleks – Spoiler Free Preview via Jammy Dodgers And Jelly Babies

Review – Judas Kiss

Welcome to the magical Keystone Summit University, where washed-up filmmaker Zachary Wells (Charlie David) confronts hot young student Danny Reyes (Richard Harmon), and discovers the past may be the only place where he can truly find himself.

When failed filmmaker Zachary Wells’s best friend Topher Shadoe talks him into replacing Topher as a judge at a student film festival, he gets the chance to change his life for the better in the sci-fi movie Judas Kiss.

A former student at the Keystone Summit University where the film festival is taking place, Zachary Wells’s bad choices have left him shooting wedding videos, having blown the buzz his own film caused when he won the same festival 15 years ago. With his best friend Topher set to start filming a horror film in Spain, Zachary begrudgingly goes back to his former University. When he arrives he meets the Dean, Mrs Blossom, who remembers him and his competition entry – “Faces and films — I remember the good ones,” she says. Though she questions why he and Topher changed their names.

On his first night, Zachary hooks up with college student Danny at a gay bar and the two end up sleeping with each other – well, that is, ahem, after a whole bunch of very tasteful shot but athletic man sex! It’s not porn and it’s not quite as fun as Samantha’s frolics in Sex in the City or as in your face as the opening scenes of I Love you Phillip Morris, but it just enough to get the blood running around your fuzzy area! The following day however, Zachary is shocked to find out that Danny Reyes is not only submitting a film to be judged by him, but that they both share the same name (Zachary’s real name being Danny Reyes), the same life and the same short film “Judas Kiss”. How can this be?

Turns out that Zachary is experiencing some sort of time paradox event where he and his past self are sharing the same time space continuum. The usual sci-fi enshrined rules are all thrown out of the window in this film. Zachary can interact with his younger self – re-read the above paragraph – yes he sleeps with himself, and he’s encouraged to effect his past to change his future. And who hasn’t wanted to do that? After all you know what you like to be done and you know what you like to do… Come on, think about it, that’s why they put it on the screen! Any ways, both the Dean and the security guard are aware of the time paradox that Zachary is experiencing and offer cryptic and not so cryptic clues. However it all points Zachary in the direction of having to destroy Danny’s chances in the competition to save the career and self-respect of his own future.

Meanwhile from the younger perspective of Danny, he thinks he’s blown his chances by sleeping with one of the judges, who is now giving him a hard time. Add to that his attraction to fellow student Chris Wachowsky (Sean Paul Lockhart) and the son of the University’s benefactors Shane Lyons (Timo Descamps). Danny’s father, enters stage left – being really mean, and is about to cut him off for entering “Judas Kiss” into the competition. So, should Danny follow his heart and be with Chris or move in with rich kid Shane who can support him?

Judas Kiss is an endearing movie about being given a second chance, not only for a better life, but becoming a better person and being with your true love. Quite apart from being able to put meaning in to the phrase Go Fuck Yourself! The plot, though sometimes a little difficult to follow, is genuinely compelling. Judas Kiss is primarily a sci-fi movie which just so happens to have lead characters that are gay. It doesn’t feel forced and the sex scenes aren’t put in for titillation purposes, they have a place in the narrative. Both Charlie David and Richard Harmon do a great job playing the older and younger Zachary Wells/Danny Reyes. Ignoring the strange having sex with himself bit, it’s about Zachary learning to feel better about himself, despite Danny’s arrogance and determination to win the scholarship, at the cost of his own self-worth.

There’s intrigue as to what makes Zachary’s/Danny’s film so special, which we’re shown dramatic snippets of and this technique takes you into the auditorium with the on screen audience. The subject matter is controversial and makes for unpleasant viewing.

There are some nice little sci-fi touches in the film. Danny Reyes changes his name to “Zachary Wells”, possibly alluding to H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine and if you look closely at Zachary’s car plate, it’s 2Fut3r – to future. Richard Harmon and Genevieve Buechner (one of Shane’s friends) both starred in Syfy’s Caprica as Heracles/Tad Thorean and Tamara Adama respectively.

On the whole Judas Kiss is well paced and imaginative. Yes there are some flaws, the co-existing in the same timeline is never explained and some of the acting from the supporting cast isn’t great. Make no mistake Sean Paul Lockhart (also known as porn actor Brent Corrigan) is very believable and understated and a gamble on behalf of the producers given his cinematic history. Charlie David is good but Richard Harmon has the task of changing pace more than the other actors, which he achieves with ease. I did find myself enjoying the simplicity and honesty of the story, with a little gay bitchiness thrown in (really, his life is over at 38?). It also proves that you don’t need a big budget to make an engaging sci-fi movie. It is a movie that will stay with you – go and see it if you can, buy it if you can’t.

For more information and details of screenings taken place, check out the Judas Kiss website.

Judas Kiss is available on pre-order from Amazon.

Judas Kiss [DVD]

New From: £3.63 GBP In Stock

Review – Troll Hunter

Guest blogger Emeni Rice reviews filmmakers André Øvredal’s Troll Hunter.

In the vein of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, Troll Hunter is a Norwegian mockumentary pieced together from ‘found footage’ shot by a group of college student film makers investigating a recent spate of puzzling bear killings. Their enquiries lead them to Hans, a supposed rogue bear poacher who, after much persistence from the students, allows them to interview him and film his work as a member of the Troll Security Service. Because yes, trolls exist!

The TSS, a secret government division charged with keeping the existence of these trolls from the public, employ Hans as their troll hunter, not to necessarily kill but to contain and control Norway’s troll population. Discontent and jaded from the bureaucracy in a thankless job keeping unsociable hours, Hans takes his new acquaintances Thomas (reporter), Johanna (sound) and Kalle (cameraman) into the Norwegian countryside to seek out trolls that have caused havoc amongst local populations. He teaches them how to kill trolls with sunlight and warns them about their ability to sniff out the blood of a Christian.

Full of droll (troll?) humour, Troll Hunter could have been brilliant if it stuck to the funny but instead it seems confused as to whether to be a comedy or a horror, not quite successfully combining the two. I was certainly feeling edgy when I heard the trolls but once on screen the tension dissipated, perhaps because when have trolls ever been scary? (except in 1985 film Cat’s Eye with Drew Barrymore – shudder). Maybe my ignorance of Scandinavian troll folklore had me at a disadvantage.

The special effects were great however and the countryside quite beautiful, if very wet. Hans deadpan portrayal works wonderful in this style of film though our students lacked somewhat in personality (so it’s quite satisfying when one of them gets eaten, hee hee) and the film was sluggish in parts.

Overall, Troll Hunter is a confused film has some brilliant comedic moments but lacks the tension and terror to qualify it as a comedy-horror. If you’re after a dry, satirical, fee-fi-fo-fun monster movie, however Troll Hunter is the film for you.

Across the remotest mountains, deepest fjords and treacherous Arctic tundra of Norway, the most dangerous and secretive of occupations has gone unnoticed for hundreds of years. By the dark of the night, one brave, mysterious man protects the innocent from an ancient and deadly threat without reward or glory. He is the legendary TROLL HUNTER.

Investigating a spate of bear shootings, a group of students soon become suspicious of a mysterious loner in a beaten up Land Rover who has been spotted at every incident. When they decide to follow him across the country, they soon realise dead bears aren’t the worst of their problems, they’ve stumbled upon the last remaining TROLL HUNTER and he’s their only hope.

Troll Hunter (viewed at Moving Picture Co., Soho, 12.07.11)
Director: André Øvredal
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum
Cert: 15
Running Time: 90 min

Review – Fright Night

Guest blogger Emeni Rice reviews Craig Gillespie’ remake of the classic 1980s movie Fright Night.

It’s always a struggle to review remakes of films that I love and have watched so many times that the words and images are ingrained in my brain; to view the re-creation as a stand-alone entity and not connect it to its source. The trouble, I think, is that the originals were just that – original, telling a story I’ve not heard before. Can a remake really bring anything new and fresh to an old audience?

This is my problem as I review Craig Gillespie’ Fright Night (original released 1985).

David Tennant as the bed-hopping lothario Peter Vincent

For those who haven’t seen the original (and who presumably live in caves?) Yelchin plays Charlie Brewster, a high school student with a new neighbour, Jerry Dandridge (Farrell); a vampire neighbour that is. Convinced of Dandridge’s daylight affliction, Brewster seeks the help of Peter Vincent (Tennant), magician and illusionist, to destroy the evil blood-sucker and protect his mum (a sadly under-used Colette) and girlfriend.

Without drawing too many comparisons between the two Fright Nights, Farrell is convincing as an evil vamp (which is a refreshing change from the recent spate of loved up fangers) but plays Dandridge as a low rent thug, very different to Chris Sarandon’s 1985 portrayal of Dandridge as sophisticated and charismatic, possessing an allure that made him powerfully dangerous.

Yelchin is likeable as Charlie Brewster, a boy torn between geeky friends of his past (enter the excellent Christopher Mintz-Plasse as ‘Evil’ Ed) and leaving that past behind to establish a ‘normal present’ with his hot girlfriend.
Refreshingly, Gillespie has made the women of the story, Brewster’s mum and girlfriend, more involved and hands-on with the action, rather than submissive and docile or downright oblivious.

The star of Fright Night is assuredly David Tennant, playing bed-hopping lothario Peter Vincent, and not solely because of those tight leather trousers (hubba, hubba!).

Revamped (sorry) to be a fast-paced and witty comedy-horror, with a cameo from one of the original cast members, Gillespie has made a fun romp of a movie which audiences new to Fright Night will enjoy, particularly its target teenage audience. My hope is it will generate enough interest for Fright Night 2 (the original, naturally) to be re-released on DVD so I won’t have to fork out £116 to buy it (current price on Amazon!).

But for us old fans, it lacks the dark, seductive atmosphere, the superb soundtrack and the 18 certificate of its predecessor. I want to say “you’re so cool Brewster, I can’t stand it,” but sadly, you’re just not cool enough.

Senior Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) finally has it all—he’s running with the popular crowd and dating the hottest girl in high school. In fact, he’s so cool he’s even dissing his best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But trouble arrives when an intriguing stranger Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves in next door. He seems like a great guy at first, but there’s something not quite right—and everyone, including Charlie’s mom (Toni Collette), doesn’t notice. After witnessing some very unusual activity, Charlie comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on his neighborhood. Unable to convince anyone that he’s telling the truth, Charlie has to find a way to get rid of the monster himself in this Craig Gillespie-helmed revamp of the comedy-horror classic.

Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a high school senior who’s on top of the world—that is until Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves in next door and Charlie discovers that he is a vampire preying on the neighborhood.

Fright Night
Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Colette and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Cert: 15
Running Time: 106 mins