Book Review: King of the Weeds

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

King of the Weeds

Mike Hammer is a rough around the edges PI first introduced to the written world by Mickey Spillane in 1947’s I, The Jury. Although he passed away in 2006, a number of Spillane’s unfinished Mike Hammer stories were uncovered and finished with the help of Max Allan Collins. You may recall that I reviewed Lady, Go Die! the 2012 release by the duo on the City of Films. (more…)

Cut To The Chase Review: NEIGHBORS (2014)

Monday, May 12th, 2014

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Cut To The Chase Reviews from COF are spoiler free reviews ‘abridged for your pleasure’. Quick, concise, and sometimes entertaining opinions on the go!

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It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood..

The frat-house comedy is movie genre that has stood the test of time and left behind some classic laughs; movies like National Lampoon’s Animal House, Back to School, and Revenge of the Nerds come to many minds instantly. It’s a lot of fun to explore and luckily Neighbors does a great job using an otherwise tired premise.  It not only earns its R-rating with consistent hilarity and new ideas, but it’s also unexpectedly touching at times without losing its cool.  I welcome the self-awareness as well as a plot this absurd deserves to be mocked.

There are big jokes that never overstay their welcome, but sometimes the throwaway jokes are sometimes back-to-back and leave no thread of reason and don’t help the story or characters. It felt like they must of had free time on the set that day so they filmed some extra scenes that ended up in a movie that would have otherwise been 60-minutes.  Still, it’s actually nice to watch a comedy movie under 2-hours these days and reach for new ideas when it should be resolving others (see recent Judd Apatow movies).

It was a good time at the movies, it’s not for the easily offended, and lastly it proves what I’ve been saying a lot on this site – Zac Efron can do more than sing and dance.  He’s not in a “High School Musical” anymore; he’s a college man now.

Final Score: 8/10

+ Consistently funny
+ Zac Efron and Rose Byrne shine
- Scenes from trailer missing (I hate that)
- Felt like back-to-back SNL sketches sometimes

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Fun With Short Films – Steadfast Stanley

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

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This short film is sure to get you right in the feels.  It’s a brilliant short film brought to life by third year CalArts student John Cody Kim called Steadfast Stanley.  In the middle of a zombie apocalypse, a loyal Corgi just wants to reunite with the boy he loves.  I’ve watched it three times already and I can’t help but with this was a 90-minute feature.  No dialogue, just a Corgi trying to get to his master.  John, if you’re reading this, can we make it happen?

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The animation is reminiscent of the great Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), that it’s wonderful and richly detailed.  There are a lot of little touches with the Corgi, his little quirks remind me a lot of my own dogs.  Enjoy this one folks!

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Book Review: The Adjacent by Christopher Priest

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

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The Adjacent is the latest work from novelist Christopher Priest; it’s a puzzling and frustrating read that leaves a lot for up to the reader to interpret.  It’s also a great read as it approaches a lot of the themes Priest has worked with in the past.  If you have read The Prestige (or seen the movie adaptation by Christopher Nolan), you can expect the master of misdirection to have you turning pages as fast as you can.  The Adjacent isn’t an easy read, you will have to pay attention to take in and consider the non-linear story.

adjacentTibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled from Anatolia to an alternative, near future Islamic Republic Great Britain (IRGB) where his wife has been killed by insurgent militia. IRGB is a nation living in the aftermath of a bizarre and terrifying terrorist atrocity – hundreds of thousands were wiped out when a vast triangle of west London was instantly annihilated. The authorities think the terrorist attack and the death of Tarent’s wife are somehow connected. A century earlier, a stage magician is sent to the Western Front on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy. On his journey to the trenches he meets the visionary who believes that this will be the war to end all wars. In 1943, a woman pilot from Poland tells a young RAF technician of her escape from the Nazis, and her desperate need to return home. In the present day, a theoretical physicist stands in his English garden and creates the first adjacency.

We move between three time periods and meet many characters including HG Wells (Priest is Vice-President of the H. G. Wells Society).  I learned about WWII aircraft like the Lancaster Bomber and Spitfire. The transition between periods isn’t obtrusive; it’s structured in such a way that it just clicks for the reader.  Climate change (or global warming some still call it) is depicted wonderfully here in the near-future Great Britain.  Reading about the attack on London and the new Islamic rule is interesting fantasy.

It’s a great story for those who love non-linear novels and alternative dimensions.  Nothing is at it seems, fantasy meets fiction, and everyone you meet and everywhere you go is questioned.  If you can make sense of it all, this is going to entertain you a whole lot.

Read Titan Books’ great interview with author Christopher Priest.

Buy it today! Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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Book Review: Noah: Ila’s Story

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

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Our latest book review courtesy of Titan Books is Ila’s Story a young adult novel, written by Susan Korman, and based on the screenplay for the film Noah.  I reviewed the Noah novelization last week [read it here], which did include Emma Watson’s character from the film, Ila, Noah’s daughter-in-law and Shem’s wife but like the movie left much to be desired with a backstory.

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Note: May contain spoilers – Ila’s Story is told from her point of view and shares the events not shown in the film where her home and family are attacked and she’s eventually found by Noah and his family.  As time passes she eventually marries Noah’s son, Shem.  If you have seen the movie then you know that Ilsa cannot have children, there is a surrounding army that wants to come onto the ark, the animals arrive in droves and eventually there’s a great flood – so it’s easy to say there is a lot more action than the Bible story.

Watching the movie and reading the books, I never found Ilsa’s character likable.  She’s essentially a conflict bringing trials and tribulation to herself and those around her.  Korman has a lot more emotional traits to give Ilsa in this short read than I found in the previous Noah book.  If you want to read a story related to the Noah film I can recommend this.  It’s a very short novel that does do a great job detailing the world our characters live in.  It’s an easy read for young adults and I suppose if you have to have every book Emma Watson’s nice face is on, here’s another one for you.

Buy it today! Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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Book Review: ALIEN

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

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Since its release in May 1979 Alien has garnered iconic status, reaping critical acclaim as well as box office success, and this May marks its much-celebrated 35th anniversary.  Titan Books has re-released Alien, Alan Dean Foster’s long out-of-print adaptation, considered one of the defining novelizations ever written and we received a copy to review.

There is a reason Alien has been praised as the finest movie novelization ever written, it’s likely true.  Admittedly, I haven’t read every movie novelization, but from the many I have I can tell you they are often hack jobs.  Here we have a classic title that lends itself to a classic movie, a rare feat in storytelling.  For completionists like me, this makes a great addition to the shelves.

alien-novelIf you’re reading this then you likely know the story of Alien, if you don’t, then what are you waiting for?  The book is faithful the movie and goes into great detail which may be a bore for some (for the first thirsty pages or so).  They set up the scenes including details like technical aspects of landing, planning the course, and positioning.  The scene where they find the chamber is still scary as hell among other scenes which may actually be more intense in print then on screen.  Ridley comes off as less likable in this version, arrogant is an understatement.  So that may change the way you view the movie afterwards too, Dallas will forever be likable though.

What is wish was included was a better description of the alien.  It’s very vague which is surprising considering the detail they put into relatively small stuff.  We get detail about the egg and some theories thrown out by the crew.  Adult alien makes its appearance and it’s all up to you to decide, maybe that was the point?

Fans should read this knowing it doesn’t add any missing moments or further, but it’s still a great read that will scare you.  Now it’s time to re-watch the movie.

Buy it today! Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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Book Review: Noah – The Official Movie Novelization

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

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Mark Morris has written tie-in novels for Hellboy, Spartacus, Doctor Who and Torchwood, and novelizations for Vampire Circus and the game Dead Island.  Titan Books recently released Noah: The Official Movie Novelization, here is my review.

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I haven’t seen the movie yet, which I anticipate will be worth a viewing.  I don’t believe that the tale of Noah is anything more than that, a tale.; though I will be reviewing the book much like I read other books and watch other movies – without prejudice.  Like most people I am familiar with the story of Noah. It’s just one of those stories I remember finding interesting when I was a child.  This retelling is definitely more interesting, and exciting as far as action and fiction goes.

The interesting part in this adaptation, and perhaps it’s the same in the movie is that Noah’s actions are based on his own interpretations of his visions.  I didn’t get the sense of “And God said unto him…” so I can see why a lot of faith based readers and viewers would get offended, but again, if you go into a movie or book with an open mind and want to be entertained for a few hours, you’ll enjoy it a lot more.  Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.

If you enjoyed the movie, you will enjoy the book.  It’s an easy read and comes of as more of an action tale than a take on the Noah story from the Bible.  The hype and criticism surrounding this film seems unwarranted, but many people don’t see this story as fantasy and rather a historical occurrence.  How will you see the movie or read the book?

Buy it today! Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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Book Review: Grimm – Below the Surface

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

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Grimm: Below the Surface is a comprehensive guide that delves into the depths of the show, so if you’re a fan, you’re set.  It covers the names and habits of the Wesen from early in the series and it goes into the mind of most if not all notable characters.  There’s a lot to find here among the nice pictures that cover both episodes and behind the scenes production.  It covers all you’ll need to know about your favorite hero or villain from the show too, no bias worries there.

grimm-novelThere are a lot of insight from the entire crew, special effects team, and the show frontrunners.  Pages from Aunt Marie’s “Casebook”  are included about various Wesen – and a chapter about Grimms.  Interviews with the show’s producers, creature designers, makeup and hair artists, visual special effects (VFX) specialists, costume designers, casting director, stunt coordinator, prop master, and the writing team; interviews with David Giuntoli, Silas Weir Mitchell, Bitsie Tulloch, Russell Hornsby, Bree Turner, Sasha Roiz, Claire Coffee, and Reggie Lee; and summaries of every episode in Seasons 1 and 2.

The details found in the 176 pages are sure to make any fan of the show happy.

But it today! Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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Book Review: No Hero

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

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Arthur Wallace is an officer for the Oxford police department. He’s a good cop, but he doesn’t see the kind of action you see on the big screen. That romanticized concept of police work is one that Arthur thinks on regularly. Soon Arthur’s world is turned on it’s head when he is contacted by a secretive government agency to help stop the threat of a trans-dimensional species!

No HeroAction packed from start to finish, No Hero takes the traditional action concept and mixes in supernatural horror. Whereas much of today’s content is designed to be gritty and realistic No Hero takes a queue from some of the 1990′s action movies it references. Arthur asks the question, “What would Kurt Russell do?”. Well Kurt Russell never had to deal with giant electricity powered two faced alien monsters! This isn’t Goldie Hawn getting amnesia we’re talking about. Alright that reference was totally unnecessary.

No Hero was so successful  it spawned two more books in the series. Well what are you waiting for? No Hero is available for purchase at major retailers and was released by Titan Books in the UK on March 11, 2014.

Buy it today! Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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A Quick Peak into the World of a Divergent

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

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I say quick peak, because that’s exactly what it felt like. Divergent, which clocks in at a running time of 143 minutes, actually flew by and considering I had more scrutiny going into the theatre than I had coming out, I would argue that I enjoyed the film more than I initially gave it credit for.

Most of the casting qualms I had had since their early announcements were dissolved or easily ignored after the film started, but one was a harder pill to swallow simply because of all the liberties that needed to be taken to make sure her role was one of screen-time. I mean, you get Kate Winslet on your roster, you use her. I get it. With that being said, overall, the adaptation from a piece-by-piece basis from the book was pretty seamless on the surface.
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