Thursday 31 December 2015

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Medusa - Torkill Damhaug

Release Date: 03/11/15
Publisher:  Headline


The first novel in the Oslo Crime Files, a tense and dark quartet of thrillers for fans of Camilla Lackberg and Jo Nesbo. 'Sleek and cunning' Evening Standard

A woman vanishes from a forest near Oslo. Days later her body is found, seemingly mauled and maimed by a bear. When another woman is reported missing and then found dead with the same scratches and bites, police find the link between them is local doctor, Axel Glenne.

Forensics reveal the women were murdered and a net of suspicion tightens around Axel, who is convinced his twin brother Brede is responsible. But no one has seen him for years and if Axel is to prove his innocence, he needs to find Brede. And fast. But there isn't a single photograph of the brothers together and neither Axel's wife nor his children has ever met a man called Brede ...


I love some time with Scandinavian Crime and to be honest I had my eye on this book as I knew that Torkil was a name to watch out for from friends oversea’s who trumpeted his cause. So when this book landed I was more than happy to sit back and see what this would produce for me.

It’s well written, the prose solid, with good character development alongside plot. Add to this cracking dialogue and all round I was a more than happy reader. I also have to pass on congrats to the translator Robert Ferguson for making this a pure joy to sit back with and with the ease that it flowed. I can’t wait to read more in this series.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Dead Ringers - Christopher Golden

Release Date: 03/11/15
Publisher:  Headline


Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden - author of Snowblind and Tin Men - will thrill fans of Dean Koontz, Peter Straub and Stephen King - and chill them to the bone. Here is a haunted house novel with a deadly new spin.

When Tess Devlin bumps into her ex-husband, she's furious that he seems not to know her.

And then Frank Lindbergh is attacked by an intruder in his home ... an intruder who wears Frank's face.

In the heart of the city, a mansion stands on a hill and behind its wrought-iron fence an evil force is at work, leaving everyone who comes near it hysterical with fear.

But the real terror lies inside the house. Tess and Frank have no choice but to confront a mistake made years ago. A mistake that summoned an ancient evil ... and means even their own reflections could kill them.


A bit of a strange book and one brings everything to the fore with a tale full of evil spirits who inhabit a mirror seeking their freedom. Its definitely quirky, something unusual and a story that ll in will keep you entertained. However that’s not to say that the book isn’t without its problems. I did find the characters a little bland for my personal tastes and when at times I felt that the story struggled to keep its pace going made me feel that it was more of a meh title than a golden offering. All round I was disappointed and whilst I do accept that a prolific author like Chris is a very busy man due to his schedule, sometimes I wish that a little more time could be taken with a book to polish the tale to its best potential.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Daughters Unto Devils - Amy Lukavics

Release Date: 08/10/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster Childrens


Sometimes I believe the baby will never stop crying.

Sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner fears she is losing her mind.When her family move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, Amanda hopes she can leave her haunting memories behind: of her sickly Ma giving birth to a terribly afflicted baby; of the cabin fever that claimed Amanda's sanity; of the boy who she has been meeting in secret. . .

But the Verners arrive on the prairie to find their new home soaked in blood.So much blood.And Amanda has heard stories - about men becoming unhinged and killing their families, about the land being tainted by wickedness.

With guilty secrets weighing down on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or within her soul . .


To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with this book. It promised thrills, chills, eerie goings on and a few other things as well so I sat down to give it a go. What unfurled within was a book that was slow, dislikeable characters, dire plotline and above all else a title that was a struggle to keep on going with despite the huge promise on the cover.

All round, this is a book I would tell people to ignore for now, I just couldn’t get on with any aspect of it and for me as a reader that’s the death of a story right there. A great shame as it did promise so much more.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Bloodstream - Luca Veste

Release Date: 22/10/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Social media stars Chloe Morrison and Joe Hooper seem to have it all - until their bodies are found following an anonymous phone call to their high-profile agent. Tied and bound to chairs facing each other, their violent deaths cause a media scrum to descend on Liverpool, with DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi assigned to the case. It quickly becomes clear that the killer believes secrets and lies within relationships should have deadly consequences...


Eh, eh, eh, eh, calm down, calm down, this latest book in Luca Veste’s Murphy and Rossi series set on Merseyside is here and boy does it kick off with a bang taking the reader on a story that weaves through the darker aspects of mankind alongside the city streets of a Liverpool in a series that just keeps on giving to the reader.

As with the previous outings, the writing is crisp, the prose damn sharp and for me as a reader, its strange to discover a city in greater detail than the one I thought I knew. All round when added to characters that you’d like to take to the pub and dialogue that helps add a realism to the whole piece made me a happy reader. I can’t wait to embark on Luca’s next title.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: In Place of Death - Craig Robertson

Release Date: 10/09/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


A young man enters the culverted remains of an ancient Glasgow stream, looking for thrills. Deep below the city, it is decaying and claustrophobic and gets more so with every step. As the ceiling lowers to no more than a couple of feet above the ground, the man finds his path blocked by another person. Someone with his throat cut.

As DS Rachel Narey leads the official investigation, photographer Tony Winter follows a lead of his own, through the shadowy world of urbexers, people who pursue a dangerous and illegal hobby, a world that Winter knows more about than he lets on. And it soon becomes clear that the murderer has killed before, and has no qualms about doing so again.


Crime Thrillers always strike more of a chord with the reader when they’re familiar with the area and to be honest this one chilled me down to the bone as streets I’d walked along came back to me in a darker flavour in this new release from Craig Robertson. Its well written, has top notch prose but the key selling point in this title (alongside his other works) are the way he brings his characters over, they’re believable, they have a realism that makes them stand out and for me the real challenge is going to see how they grow over future novels but what’s most important is that I care about their fates.

All round this book was a pure indulgence to read. I loved all the aspects within and when a book grabs you so much that one more chapter becomes a blatant disregard for the following day (so you can stay up and finish your book) makes this a must read for any fan of Crime stories.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Taming of the Queen - Philippa Gregory

Release Date: 10/08/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse...

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives - King Henry VIII - commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as Regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and the first woman to publish in English, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy - the punishment is death by fire and the king's name is on the warrant...

From an author who has described all of Henry's queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer.


OK, coming from Cumbria, I was more than familiar with Henry VIII’s final wife, Katherine Parr and whilst I’ve read the historical accounts, getting events woven into a tale to help bring the time to life is something that is not only tricky but can end up being a millstone around the authors neck. So perhaps it is for the best that the woman who tackled this novel for me is well known Tudor expert was something that I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do with it.

Philippa’s gift with writing is to bring the people from the past to life, giving them a real grounding with the modern reader as well as giving them the chance to see history in all it’s technicolour glory. The dialogue is crisp, the prose wonderfully delightful and for me it’s a book that was a pleasure to sit down and savour. Magic.

Monday 28 December 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Transformation 1: Dark Intelligence - Neal Asher

Release Date: 24/09/15
Publisher:  Pan


One man transcends death for vengeance. One woman transforms herself for power. And no one will emerge unscathed...

Thorvald Spear wakes in hospital, having been brought back from the dead. He died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago.

Spear had been trapped on a planet, surrounded by alien Prador forces, when he spotted a rescue ship. Yet he and his entire squad were killed by the ship's Artificial Intelligence, Penny Royal, which turned rogue. Now, reliving these traumatic final moments, Spear finds the drive to keep on living. That drive is vengeance.

The AI still roams free and Spear vows to destroy it, planning to exploit another of its victims in his quest. But crime-lord Isobel Satomi has been modified by Penny Royal, turning her into something far from human. And as she evolves into the ultimate predator, will she turn Spear from hunter to hunted?

This is the first volume in a no-holds-barred adventure set in Asher's popular Polity universe.


A book from Neal is always a joy to read and whilst I’ve had it for a while, I like to take my time and savour them, so with the stressful season upon us, I picked this title up and sat down with a glass of mead, some Stollen and my comfy duvet. What you get from Neal is a book that is full of action, told wonderfully well from his character points of view backed up with solid dialogue with a kickass plot. Whilst you can read this book without having read any others in the series, I feel that you should as you’ll have missed solid world building as well as delightful characters and of course, the bigger picture of the tales undertone. All round a real joy.

URBAN FANTSY CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Reviver Trilogy 2: Lost Souls - Seth Patrick

Release Date: 20/08/15
Publisher:  Pan



Revivers, with their ability to wake the recently dead, have long been called on during police investigations - and their testimonies are accepted in courts across the globe. But now those who consider revival to be blasphemy are in resurgence. Well-funded and gaining ground, they threaten the work of Jonah and his colleagues in the Forensic Revival Service.

Jonah is still recovering from his injuries after his encounter with a man possessed and determined to take over the world - a victory that cost many lives and any hope Jonah had of a normal existence. The discovery of a badly mutilated corpse makes him suspect that his conquest was not as final as it seemed, and that perhaps there are worse things waiting in the shadows for him . . .


Having read the original novel in July last year, I’ve had this title on my watch list for quite some time. I wanted to know not only how the world would change but how it would expand with events from the previous outing as well as learning how our intrepid hero would develop in lue of what he uncovered.

As with Seth’s other writing, the prose is sharp, the story wonderfully rounded and when added to the crispness of the dialogue for me made this a real pleasure to sit down and enjoy. Cracking.

Sunday 27 December 2015

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Under Suspicion 2: All Dressed in White - Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

Release Date: 19/11/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Five years ago Amanda Pierce was excitedly preparing to marry her college sweetheart. She and Jeffrey had already battled through sickness and health, although their lives were certainly more richer than poorer as Amanda was set to inherit her father's successful garment company.

Then Amanda disappeared the night of her bachelorette party.

In present-day New York City, Laurie Moran realizes a missing bride is the perfect cold case for her 'Under Suspicion' television series to investigate. By recreating the night of the disappearance at the wedding's Florida resort with Amanda's friends and family, Laurie hopes to find the same success solving the cases featured in the series' first episodes. With Amanda's former fiancé now married to a bridesmaid, and a jealous sister, playboy groomsmen, and rumors about the "beloved" bride herself, Laurie and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley quickly realize everyone has their own theory about why Amanda disappeared into thin air.

One thing is certain, whoever was behind Amanda's vanishing plans to keep the truth hidden "til death do they part"…


For me, there is nothing better than a crime novel that is not only well written but keeps you guessing until the last few scenes due to all the twists is always something that is a pure joy to read. However the first novel in the series (The Cinderella Murders) left me feeling pretty flat as for me I felt that it unravelled a little to easily as well as not being as sharp or as polished as it could have been.

However as a reader I always like to give a series two books before letting it go, as there is so much that can be learned from one title to another and errors that readers have had, have been fixed in future outings. This is a prime example of this happening. Firstly the writing was a lot fresher for me, the duo working better together to help create a more seamless entity in the final product. The overall arc was delightful with multiple twists that kept me guessing and generated a story that I had a hard time putting down when it came to sleep. So much so that my brain worked overtime trying to figure out what was going to happen next. (A sure sign that a book has really hit the spot with you.)

All round, I’m more than pleased that I have my 2 book rule in place as otherwise I’d have missed this great outing. Magic.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: DC Ebony Willis 3: Cold Justice - Lee Weeks

Release Date: 05/11/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


A killer seeking revenge.A community protecting its own.The most explosive case yet for DC Willis and DI Carter.

Cornwall, 2000. Jenna wakes up after a drug-laced party to the realization that she has been raped. And it looks like it involved her new boyfriend, who has come down from London for the summer. But the case is assigned to a corrupt local police sergeant, who knows he can extort money from the boy's father, prominent London MP Jeremy Forbes-Wright, in return for his silence.

Fifteen years later and Jeremy Forbes-Wright is found dead under highly suspicious circumstances. On the same day, his two-year-old grandson Samuel is kidnapped on a London street and DC Ebony Willis and DI Dan Carter are called in to find the missing boy. They soon realize all roads lead to Cornwall and to find the little boy they must finally get justice for Jenna. But someone is murdering the people they need to speak to and time is running out …


Death, mystery and horror rival each other as an old cold case has to be uncovered and solved to help bring resolution to a modern time kidnapping in a story that takes you from the bright city lights of London through to the countrified small Cornish village where closed mouths keep hidden clues that someone is willing to murder to keep sealed.

Its delightfully dark, has moments of grave humour and when wrapped up, generates a story of a mismatched police due who struggle to find answers. As with the previous outings, its well written with delightful dialogue which when added to solid pacing makes this a sheer joy to read.

Friday 18 December 2015

DVD FEATURE: Hitman: Agent 47 Zachary Quinn Interview - 20th Century Fox

Hail Mighty Readers and Fellow Assassins,
With Hitman Agent 47 out on Digital Download on the  20th December (and DVD/Blu Ray on the 26th December) our friends at 20th Century Fox have let us have an interview with Agent 47's Zachary Quinto here's what he had to say:
Interview by Joe Utichi –

Zachary Quinto is a multi-talented actor and producer who needs very little introduction. In fact, there’s a Quinto role for every taste, from his barnstorming turn as Spock in JJ Abrams two feature-film adaptations of STAR TREK, to his role as Sylar in HEROES and the part of Dr. Oliver Thredson in AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Quinto’s career was that his first appearance of Spock, in 2009’s STAR TREK, marked his feature film debut. So assured and fully-formed was the role that it earned him a People’s Choice Awards nomination for Best Breakout Movie Actor and confirmed Quinto as a star in the making.

On television, Quinto played key recurring roles in 24 and So Notorious before being cast as Sylar in Tim Kring’s network hit HEROES, in which he starred between 2006 and 2010.

As a producer, and one of the partners in Before the Door Pictures, Quinto is responsible for bringing the work of J.C. Chandor to the big screen, resulting in the release of MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST and A MOST VIOLENT YEAR.

Today, Quinto’s diary is fit to bursting, with roles in production on Oliver Stone’s SNOWDEN, STAR TREK 3 and the NBC miniseries THE SLAP. His production company has recently wrapped production on YOU WERE NEVER HERE, starring Mireille Enos and Sam Shepard.

But right now, he’s to be found at a tool factory just outside Berlin, where he’s hard at work completing additional photography on HITMAN: AGENT 47. He sits down to discuss the film and his role.

You’re playing a character named John Smith. That doesn’t tell us very much.

I can’t tell you very much more either. [laughs] You know, it’s interesting. The structure of the film is such that you meet Katia, who is both in pursuit of something and also in retreat from something, and there’s a lot of uncertainty as to what the details of that are. My character intervenes in her life and tries to steer her in a specific direction, ostensibly away from Agent 47. And then other things become clearer as the story unfolds… How was that?

Cryptic. You’ve been fight training today. What has that involved?

Right now a lot of stunt choreography, reinforcing this fight that we’re going to shoot tomorrow. We’re back here now for this additional photography, and one of the things that we’re doing is reconfiguring one of the main fights in the movie. So I’ve been mostly working on choreography. That’s sort of the primary focus, to get the fight in our bodies and that way tomorrow, when we’re in front of the cameras, it’s just easier to pick up and break it down and get through it.

You’re back more than a year after principal photography, to shoot additional action sequences. How has it felt to reprise this character before the film is finished?

It’s not an ideal situation in terms of continuity, but it has actually been quite fun, I have to say. I’ve never gone back to a film so far after completing principal photography on it, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. But it was great to come back to Berlin, and the whole process has been been pretty smooth. I have the least amount of work to do of any of the three of us, so for me it’s been a little bit more about focusing on preparation.

You’re working with the team behind JOHN WICK – Chad Stahelski and David Leitch – on these Second Unit sequences. How have they been?

There’s a really excellent dynamic between them, melding action and tension, which I really appreciate. There’s efficiency to the way that they create their sequences that really serves the film as we’re trying to flesh it out.

Working with Aleksander Bach, our film’s director, last year was amazing, and I really enjoyed him and his process and it was very different. I feel like these guys are serving a very specific purpose that benefits all of us in the movie, so I’m happy to have the other kind of energy. They’re really cool and easy to work with. And I loved JOHN WICK. I thought it was really great.

What was your first reaction to the script? Were you familiar with the games?

No, not at all. I read the script and liked it. I’m not a gamer, so I didn’t have the burden of that comparison. For me it was just about responding to a character and the world of a studio action movie, which I was interested in exploring. I’d done a little bit with STAR TREK, but it had other elements to it, so for me this was an interesting and different opportunity.

Why were you interested in exploring the world of action movies?

I just had never done it to this degree. I was interested in expanding my experience and my exposure and all of those things that factor into decision making when you’re in the position that I’m in, but ultimately it came down to my response to the creative team; to Ali, and to Rupert who had already been cast. I had never met him, but had admired his work.

How much did you enjoy playing with the weapons?

Yeah, the gun training was pretty fun, actually. I’m not a huge gun nut but it was fun to get to roll around and shoot at things. There was one fight in particular where there was some really close range gunfire between Rupert’s character and my character and that was a little bit intimidating. And, for me anyway, there was some tension around that. [laughs] I was getting shot from a very close range and dodging bullets, and that was fun, but it was practical gunfire in like a tiny little room with the two of us and the camera crew, and that was our biggest fight until tomorrow. So the weapons were fun, but scary.

Tell us about the scene tomorrow.

It’s a pivotal turning point in the film. I would say things have come to a head and Katia and Agent 47 have been evading John Smith, and this is sort of where they all come back together for the first time in a while, so it’s a moment of weakness for John Smith in that he’s driven by this need to feel more powerful than Agent 47. And ultimately that’s his downfall. So tomorrow’s the beginning. The sequence that we’re doing is the beginning of that expression.

How have you found the experience of working with Rupert and Hannah?

I’ve really enjoyed it. I knew Hannah a little bit before this actually, just personally. We never worked together but I had known her slightly, so I feel like we’ve deepened our friendship. Rupert I’d never met, but I really enjoy working with him. He’s a consummate professional and we’ve developed a shorthand that allows us to work really easily and efficiently together, which in an action movie is really important. By and large you learn your part of the fight with the stunt team on your own and then you get plugged in with the other actor through rehearsal as much as you can, but he’s been so busy and I had to take a trip this week, so we haven’t had a lot of time to work together. But when we do work together it’s really easy and efficient, which makes it a lot smoother and more pleasant for everybody.

What do you think Ali’s brought to the film and what is his vision?

I really like his aesthetic. I think he and Óttar Guðnason, our DP, have worked together beautifully, and really captured both a sense and scope of the world, but also a depth of character that all of us are trying to bring. So there’s a bit of a balance; it’s not just one thing or another thing. My sense of when we were shooting last year is that they had a real understanding of what they wanted from each other and how to get that.

How did you feel when you watched the trailer?

I loved the trailer. I thought it was amazing, actually. I thought it extracted a lot of the most dynamic parts of what we had shot last year and then added a lot of effects like I’d never seen before. I remember shooting all the helicopter stuff, and we were in Bad Driburg - this little tiny town a couple of hours away - and I remember that felt so monotonous, those sequences of seeing the helicopter that was just a green screen. And then to see it actually fully executed out… I always marvel at the ability of special effects designers and the post-production process to affect the evolution of a film, even though I’m in it. I’ll always look at stuff and be like, “How did they do that?” But that was really impressive to me and I thought if I saw that trailer in a movie theatre, I’d be like, “Oh, I want to see that movie.” So that was cool. I don’t always feel that way! 

Deleted Scene:

HITMAN AGENT 47 Rupert Friend stars in this action-packed thriller based on the award-winning video game franchise. A genetically engineered assassin with superior intelligence and superhuman abilities, 47 (Friend), turns the tables on a sinister organization that’s out to create an army of unstoppable killers with his DNA. Teaming up with a mysterious young woman (Hannah Ware), he uncovers secrets about his origins and faces an epic battle with his deadliest foe. The film also stars Zachary Quinto.

Special Features
* Deleted Scenes
* The Hit Counter
* Re-Imagining Hitman
* Ultimate Action: Staging the Fights
* Hitman: Agent 47 Comic
* Making of the Comic Book
* Promotional Featurettes
* Gallery
* Poster Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers

Thursday 17 December 2015


Release Date: 06/10/15
Publisher:  Orbit


Kelley Armstrong captivated readers with her Sunday Times bestselling Women of the Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. Now her characters return in this gripping anthology.

The collection begins with a brand-new novella featuring werewolf Karl Marsden and half-demon Hope, in what might be Karl's last heist. Meanwhile Elena and Clay are trapped in a wintry small town with a killer on the loose, in the fast-paced and atmospheric novella 'Forbidden'.

In 'Angelic', former black witch and part-time angel Eve is sent on a dangerous mission by the Fates, while necromancer Jaime tackles a ghost with a seriously bad attitude in 'The Ungrateful Dead'. Zoe Takano is forced to defend her territory in the hugely entertaining 'Zen and the Art of Vampirism'. And in the final novella, 'Counterfeit Magic', Paige Winterbourne and Lucas Cortez take on a troubling case that will change the couple for ever.


Ah winter nights, the darkness draws in, creatures of the night disembark from the shadows and try to deal with normal as well as supernatural problems and for me, one of my favourite authors really steps out to give me a whole host of characters with varying supernatural gifts.

They’re cracking to dip into and with bite sized tales to dive into are great for breaks as well as journey time to help you make the most of your day. All you need in addition to this is a nice glass of mulled wine or perhaps a hot chocolate and you’re set to escape from everyday hassles for a well-earned break and for me, that’s the magic of Kelley’s writing.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

SCIENCE FICTION DYSTOPIAN REVIEW: Red Rising 2: Golden Son - Pierce Brown

Release Date: 24/09/15
Publisher:  Hodder


Ender's Game meets The Hunger Games in this, the second in an extraordinary trilogy from an incredible new voice.

'I'm still playing games. This is just the deadliest yet.'

Darrow is a rebel forged by tragedy. For years he and his fellow Reds worked the mines, toiling to make the surface of Mars inhabitable. They were, they believed, mankind's last hope. Until Darrow discovered that it was all a lie, and that the Red were nothing more than unwitting slaves to an elitist ruling class, the Golds, who had been living on Mars in luxury for generations.

In RED RISING, Darrow infiltrated Gold society, to fight in secret for a better future for his people. Now fully embedded amongst the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his dangerous work to bring them down from within. It's a journey that will take him further than he's ever been before - but is Darrow truly willing to pay the price that rebellion demands?

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown's continuing status as one of fiction's most exciting new voices.


The second book in Pierce’s Red Rising Trilogy and whilst the first burst onto the scene with a massive explosion, for me, the key to whether an author is here to stay or not is how the second book arrives. Firstly is it out within a reasonable time and secondly does it improve on not only what has gone before but also generates a feeling of OMG within the reader due to the sheer quality.

What Pierce brings to the table here is a tale that not only does all that but also allows the characters to not only grow but each work on how their emotions are after the events within the first outing. The writing is solid, delightful prose that keeps you glued alongside well designed characters that have a believeablity about them that really hooks you within its grasp. The pace works wonderfully well and when added to dialogue that just captures the imagination, leaves this as a book that you really don’t want to put down leaving many a reader with the “just one more chapter” feeling.

All round a cracking book that has left me yearning for the final part and one that really has set itself up for one hell of a climax. How the world will turn or change in the final outing is anyone’s guess but at the end of the day part of the fun for me, is imagining how the tale will whirl and finally seeing what conclusions will be reached. I really can’t wait. Thank you Pierce.

Friday 11 December 2015

DVD FEATURE: Fantastic Four (2015) - 20th Century Fox

Hail Might Readers and True Believers,
Our friends at 20th Century Fox have let us have an interview with actor Jamie Bell (Ben Grim/The Thing) from the 2015 Fantastic Four film released on Digital HD from the 29th November and Blu-Ray/DVD on 14th December.

Jamie Bell first came to prominence with his debut role in 2000’s British dance drama Billy Elliott. As the titular lead, Bell played 11-year-old Billy, an aspiring ballet dancer who has to face bullying and negative stereotyping. The film was set against the backdrop of the 1984-85 coal miners’ strike and its “feel-good” tone struck a chord with audiences worldwide. Both Bell’s acting and dancing received copious praise.

Since then he has been in several worldwide blockbusters - including Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Steven Spielberg’s Tintin and Doug Liman’s Jumper. He has also worked with acclaimed directors Clint Eastwood (Flags of Our Fathers), Edward Zwick (Defiance), and Lars Von Trier (Nymphomaniac), among others.

He has starred in period dramas such as Jane Eyre and Nicholas Nickleby, independent films, including Filth and Dear Wendy and now stars in the AMC series TURN: Washington Spies.

Bell also featured in 2014’s Snowpiercer, an international sensation and one of the best-reviewed films of the year.

Bell’s work on Tintin ensured he was familiar with motion capture filming, a technique used by the Fantastic Four’s director Josh Trank to help create The Thing.


Jamie Bell sat down for the following interview in Los Angeles on March 25, 2015.

Q: Tell us about what you think we can expect from this version of the Fantastic Four.

A: An original vision. It’s a very unique take on a beloved comic book property. Familiar characters with familiar powers, but told with a very new lensing. With a director whose previous work, Chronicle, was very similar in that he took what was a familiar idea – what happens when kids somehow get super powers – and made something very different. With this movie, you’re going to see something you know and love told in a unique way. I'm excited to be a part of it because I haven't really seen a superhero movie quite like this.

Q: This film sort of dips into various incarnations of the Fantastic Four from the comic books, is that right?

A: Well, I am not a comic book mythologist, but I did pick up a few of the early editions just to see the origins of these people. Like most comic books, as they progress and evolve, there's always new incarnations, new versions of these people all the time. Fantastic Four has its own versions of those things. So I think Josh [Trank] as a filmmaker and Simon [Kinberg] as a writer are influenced by the source material, but I just don't think they're dependent on it. I don't think this movie is being lifted from one set of pages anywhere, but they're agreed on a tone and have taken these characters into that tone. They are the comic world’s first family. That idea still exists. I think that's the best thing about Fantastic Four is that idea of family, and we stay true to that. But the rest is not specifically lifted from anything.

Q: So the idea of family is probably core to the Fantastic Four’s appeal?

A: Yeah, that’s a universal theme. But I also think you can take some strides with that – there’s all kinds of social commentary you can get into there...

Q: Let’s talk a little bit about your character, Ben Grimm, The Thing. It seems like it would be a good challenge for an actor, to play someone so physically different. And presumably your experience of motion capture work on Tintin helped?

A: I’d met Josh previously and we’d talked a lot about Tintin – about the process – which he was really fascinated by. A year later, he calls me and says, how would you feel about doing this? Suddenly his interest made sense because it's the same process that we would need to use for this character. I was intrigued. I mean, if you look at the work of the great Andy Serkis you can see how powerful a tool it can be in terms of bringing a character to life. I talked to Josh about the character and his simplicity. There's nothing too complicated about any of these people, really, but especially my character, Ben Grimm – at least in this incarnation. He's a faithful servant to his best friend. He's someone who errs on the side of caution. In some ways he is a parental figure for Reed Richards, who is not understood by his own parents. He has a gift of higher intelligence that can't be controlled; a thirst for science exploration that doesn't really belong in a suburban Long Island residency. And I think Ben knows this. Ben's his protector, and I think he understands that his role is to take care of him. Ben doesn't come from much of a loving home. He’s likely encountered bullying in his life and he kind of carries himself with a bit of a hard exterior. Which is ironic.

Q: Is there a sense that in some ways the powers each character gets are reflections of who they were or what they needed?

A: I think maybe they're all versions of their internal struggles. You know, Reed is always reaching for greatness. Literally his body then stretches ever further... reaches beyond what we know our body is capable of doing. Ben is someone who is conflicted, who is inside himself, who's kind of stuck. Lacking a sense of purpose & belonging, he's confused. He thinks that maybe baseball is his way out. Ironically he then gets stuck and can't find a way out. The bullying in his past is reflected because he's become literally a monstrosity that people will never be able to relate to and always will judge and condemn. And maybe Johnny in some ways was always a bit sparky with his Father, always a little fiery in his home. And Sue was probably always trying to hide…

Q: In some versions of the comic, can’t Ben go back and forth between those states? And in other versions he's always ‘brick’ solid. In this version it’s the latter, yes?

A: Yes, he is condemned to this life. I mean, there are versions where Reed develops technology that can help change him back, which would be great But not in this version.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the process of creating this version of Ben?

A: Well, obviously there is so much physically that is beyond my capability. Ben's supposed to be 6'8" I think, which I'm certainly not! And then he's also as wide as he is tall. The one thing that Josh was unmovable on was that this character still retains his human soul, and the way we access soul is through the eyes. So on every setup where I would play The Thing, there was always six to 10 reference cameras shooting my face, sometimes even just the back of my head, just to get everything, to capture reactions. With Tintin, that was a movie based solely in an animated environment: so you have so much more control, you're in a Volume. This was trickier. But the performance aspect always remains the same, in that you 100 percent come to life as a different being. It's so immersive, and it kind of has to be. For the technology to really work, you have to focus on every tiny little physicality. I would say, “When I come to a stop, can we just make sure that dust comes off me?” I just wanted to make sure that we never lost his organic matter. Fortunately, Kevin Mack (Visual Effects Supervisor)’s kind of a genius with that stuff.

Q: Is it like the Hulk, in that you can ‘see’ Mark Ruffalo in it? Will we be able to see Jamie Bell?

A: With this character, because he is not flexible - he’s literally made of rock -- to some degree his facial articulation is complicated, painful almost. His face doesn't move; he's kind of paralyzed. So I think Josh very wisely is going to use certain moments where drops a bit of light down and suddenly you're going to see these eyes looking like there's a human being in there. I think it’s more effective. I think with Mark, there isn't any restriction, you can see a real face.

Q: What did you and Josh discuss in terms of the character and what you're trying to achieve – what did he want? What did you want?

A: The one thing he always wanted was that Ben was someone who was affected. He carries himself in a certain way, in a way which was defensive, a little aggressive. He’s been affected by people. He's been affected by his family. He doesn't come from a loving place, and he carries himself as such. He doesn't connect with people, and he doesn't want to connect with people. And the shame is that when he becomes The Thing, he cannot connect with people, so he’s always running this edge of not engaging, not really looking.

Q: So it all stems from his childhood?

A: Yeah… I went through a tiny bit of that, stuff in school where I was just different from the other kids. I remember just having to kind of ‘hide myself’ a little bit, just so that it wouldn't attract attention. I’d say Ben knows what that’s like: people say things to you and it affects you. You learn to protect yourself. I think it’s that kind of thing. Josh talks very cerebrally when he talks about characters. He doesn't talk in broad strokes. He's very particular.

Q: Is that something you welcome and respond to?

A: Yeah, you want to get a wealth of information right down to the way that person walks, and that does inform all those things. As the character progresses… everyone has a metamorphosis in this movie. There wasn't really a lot of talk about what kind of a character Ben becomes other than, you know, “For three years, this is the way you've lived. Just live that always.” So I feel like I'd have to constantly keep reminding other people on the set: “Look, I know I'm dressed in a Lycra suit right now, but when you see the movie, you're going to be looking at something that does not look human. You have to remember.” Josh had a cardboard cutout of The Thing in his office. Life size. And he didn't tell me. He said: “Come in my office.” I walked in, and was like, ‘Fuck!’ It really scared me because I remember that. That's how everyone feels when they look at you, and that informs everything.

Q: How does Ben relate to the other three members of the Fantastic Four?

A: For Ben, Reed is his way into everything, you know? His way into problems. His way into excitement. His way into friendship. His way into life really. The other two, we don't really know. It’s an origin story, an origin of character, an origin of how they get all these problems and powers and stuff. An event happens in the movie, and there's a bit of a time jump, so now these people have been living with these problems for this amount of time. But there must have been a moment where Ben comes out and sees everyone else and he's like, “I got landed with this and the rest of you look like that?” So they're not the happiest family, I don't think. They're all kind of sizing each other up. They
don't really know each other at all and have to get to know each other in the most extreme of circumstances.

Q: Did you know any of the other three beforehand?

A: I'd met Michael and I knew Kate.

Q: Did that help?

A: Yeah, it helps a lot. It also helps to know that you're working with good actors. I'd seen everyone's work pretty much, so when the cast was coming together, I was really excited. It’s not an ordinary piece of casting. It's such a specific way of making this film. And I really admired that. I admire Josh's tenacity to make sure of everything, and also his audaciousness in thinking he could do it. Truthfully.

Q: Looking back over the shoot, what would you say was the biggest challenge?

A: Without question trying to imagine what it would be like to have such a monstrous thing happen to you at such a critical moment in your life. I mean, these are teenagers – 18, 19, on the cusp of figuring out what they want to do with their lives. And that is not possible anymore, especially for my character. Dreams are just gone. And physically, how do you bring that to life? The way this person would move, how comfortable he is with his body, how comfortable he is with looking at people, making eye contact. There is so much shame and so much… you know, he probably makes himself sick, the idea of himself. Trying to get all of that into a character and then wear these stilts to kind of try and simulate the height of him. And I would kind of move my face around and try to restrict myself so stuff would be harder to articulate. Trying to get under the nails of that was tricky and kind of tiring.

Q: Did you reference any other films or characters?

A: My influences for the movie were all sorts of things from Elephant Man to Edward Scissorhands to, you know, just movies of people where something happens to them, but there's still so much soul in the person from the actor. That was really what I drew from.

Q: What do you think was the biggest surprise for you over the course of filming?

A: I think just how clear Josh was about his vision and how he never wavered from it. The other day I watched 2001 again. I wanted to watch Interstellar again, so I thought I’d watch 2001 first, then Interstellar. But as I was watching 2001, I was struck by the thought: “Oh there's so much Fantastic Four in 2001.” There really is. I could see where Josh is drawing from. Kubrick obviously is unwavering as a filmmaker; that's his way. I think this film is heavily influenced by that movie, by that director. I can’t speak for Josh, of course, but I imagine he picked up on a lot of stuff. I haven't called him on it, but I saw it and that's a great thing. From the level of thought in the details, to trying to ground the movie in a reality... For a property like Fantastic Four, which is maybe one of the more ‘out there’ kindof ideas, it’s such a bold move, and a testament to a great young filmmaker who is so determined and believes in himself and has a vision. I mean, right down to when we get to the Baxter Foundation, and I'm bringing Reed into his college dorm, and the sign on his dorm room was a bit too comic book movie. Like “Reed Richards”, da, da, da! And Josh was like, “No, no, no, just get rid of it and put some tape up as if someone's just left and they put tape up and wrote Reed Richards. Things like that made it feel so much cooler to me. That's a world that’s very tangible. So in answer to your question, bringing that quality to this kind of movie was surprising.

Q: Presumably, it's reassuring for an actor to see that the director has a singular vision?

A: 100 percent. What you want is someone who believes in something that you believe in. It works. It just filters down.

Q: Do you think there are any particular themes, maybe about modern families, that the film is tapping into?

A: Yes and no. I don’t think people need to be blood-related to be family. Families aren't 2.4 children these days. The new construct of family is whatever you want it to be. I kind of think this is a movie about orphans, and I think in some way we're all a bit orphaned these days. We make more of our own choices. You end up finding whoever you find. So I think it maybe reflects a contemporary culture that’s not so straightforward anymore. Family can actually be whatever you want it to be.

Q: We have seen very light, poppy comic book movies and very dark, tortured ones. Where on the scale would you say Fantastic Four sits?

A: That's a good question. I can’t say ‘the middle’ because this movie doesn't exist in the middle, and most things do. The truth is it’s a law onto itself.

Q: So, you’re rejecting the scale!

A: I think so. [Laughs] Get rid of that scale! What I think is, if a friend of yours sees the movie and you ask, “How was the Fantastic Four?” I think the answer will be: “You just have to see it.” Because it’s not doing what a lot of comic book movies are doing. It's not X-Men - though I admire what they've done with that franchise. It’s not Captain America's and all that stuff. Those films have a certain formula and you can't get away from it, and they work. But Fantastic Four isn't playing to those rules, so I'm really excited to be part of something that isn't doing that. I do know that when people come out of the movie, because of Josh's dedication to it, they'll go, “I haven't seen anything like that.” It’s a real experience.

The all-new FANTASTIC FOUR comes to Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD just in time for Christmas.

Set in contemporary New York, this retelling stars Miles Teller (Whiplash) as Reed Richards, Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) as Johnny Storm, Kate Mara (The Martian) as Sue Storm and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as Ben Grimm.

The FANTASTIC FOUR make a triumphant return with MARVEL’s next generation of heroes—four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate universe, their physical forms altered in shocking ways. Their lives changed forever, Reed Richards (“MR. FANTASTIC”), Sue Storm (“INVISIBLE WOMAN”), Johnny Storm (“THE HUMAN TORCH”) and Ben Grimm (“THE THING”) must harness their incredible new powers and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy, the infamous DR. DOOM.

The strong supporting cast includes Toby Kebell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as Victor Von Doom; Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards) as Dr. Franklin Storm (Johnny and Sue’s father); and Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as an unscrupulous Baxter Institute board member.

Saturday 5 December 2015

GUEST FEATURE: Simon Pegg's Life in Film - Melanie Pearson

Here at Falcata Times, we have to admit to being huge fans of the talented Simon Pegg.  So with his new film, Absolutely Anything being released on DVD as well as Blu-Ray on Monday 7th December from Lionsgate Home Entertainment one of our blog friends, Melanie,  has written this cracking feature on Simon:

UK born legend Simon Pegg is known not only as an actor but a comedian, screenwriter, producer, singer and director. He has worked extensively in both TV and film and has starred alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names such as Tom Cruise, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine and Woody Harrelson to name a few.

Adding to his long line of achievements his latest film Absolutely Anything is out on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD on 7th December and to celebrate we’re taking a look at his career in pictures.

Shaun of the Dead

Released in 2004 Shaun of the Dead marked Pegg’s first big break onto the silver screen, to critical and commercial success. Collaborating with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, with whom he’d created iconic TV series Spaced, Pegg co-wrote the script as well as playing leading man Shaun, who, trying to get some focus in his life dealing with his girlfriend, mother and stepfather, also has to cope with an apocalyptic zombie uprising.

Mission: Impossible III 


This was the first of Pegg’s involvement with the Mission: Impossible series. In this film he played the part of Benji Dunn, an I.M.F technician who assists Tom Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt.

Hot Fuzz 
Hot Fuzz, released in 2007, saw Pegg reunite with Wright and Frost for a second time, again co-writing and co-starring, as he had done in Shaun of the Dead. The film tells the story of two police officers who attempt to solve a series of mysterious deaths in an English village.

Run Fatboy Run 

Run Fatboy Run was a British-American comedy film directed by David Schwimmer. Pegg played the part of Dennis who has three weeks to prepare for a charity marathon, which he entered in the hope of winning back his ex-girlfriend.

Star Trek 

In 2009, Pegg played the part of engineer Montgomery Scott known as “Scotty” in Star Trek. This was the eleventh film made in the American science fiction entertainment franchise.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a 2009 American 3-D computer animated comedy adventure film. The third film in the Ice Age series tells how the characters have to work together to rescue Sid-the-sloth after he is taken by a female Tyrannosaurus. Pegg plays the voice of Buck, a one-eyed weasel who helps the gang through the jungle.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Released in 2010, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a fantasy-adventure film based on the third novel in C.S Lewis’s epic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. Pegg plays the voice of Reepicheep, the Chief Mouse of Narnia famed for his courage and skill with a sword.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol 

Having starred in his first Mission: Impossible film Pegg went on to reprise his role as Benji Dunn in 2011, the next film in the series Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and then again in 2015 in the final film of the series to date Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

In 2013 Pegg reprised his role as “Scotty” in the following Star Trek film Star Trek Into Darkness. He will also be in the upcoming Star Trek film Star Trek Beyond, which is set to release in 2016.

The Worlds End

The World’s End is a 2013 comic science fiction film that completes 'The Cornetto Trilogy’ - the trio of films co-created with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Pegg plays immature 40-year-old Gary King who persuades his reluctant buddies to relive their youth and take another stab at an epic-pub crawl he last attempted 20 years earlier. Little do they know their journey will turn into a battle for mankind.

Finally if you're still not sure if you want to see the latest Simon Pegg film, here's the trailer, it definitely looks like our idea of a good bit of fun:

Tuesday 1 December 2015

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Now Thats What I call Sing - Koch Media

Release Date: 23/10/18
Publisher:  Koch Media


Product Description

Grab your mic and start singing NOW!
Featuring 30 chart hits including 17 number ones from some of the world’s biggest artists. Grab a mic and sing solo or play with up to 7 other friends and really get the party started.
This pack includes a USB microphone required to play.
Game Modes
CLASSIC: Sing a song solo or play against your friends.
BY HEART: Like ‘CLASSIC’ mode but some of the lyrics will disappear during the round.
DUET: Sing a real duet with your friends
EXPERT: Test your memory in the ‘EXPERT’ mode which has no on-screen lyrics or visual cues.
PASS THE MIC: Let’s you play with a partner sharing one mic.
FIRST TO 20,000: Compete against your friends and gain points. The first person to reach 20,000 points wins.
ELIMINATION: Start with a full bar of energy which depletes with every wrong note. If you lose all your energy, you’re out. The last Player standing wins.
Manufacturer's Description

Song list

Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
Meghan Trainor - All About That Bass
Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea - Problem
Jessie J, Ariana Grande And Nicki Minaj - Bang Bang
Sam Smith - Stay With Me
Avicii - Wake Me Up
Calvin Harris - Summer
Kiesza - Hideaway
Rita Ora - I Will Never Let You Down
Demi Lovato - Let It Go
Sia - Chandelier
Charli XCX - Boom Clap
Olly Murs feat. Demi Lovato - Up
Coldplay - A Sky Full Of Stars
George Ezra - Budapest
Fun feat. Janelle Monáe - We Are Young
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding - Outside
Avicii - The Nights
LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem
Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne - Real Love
Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
John Legend - All Of Me
Sigma feat. Paloma Faith - Changing
Jess Glynne - Hold My Hand
Bastille - Pompeii
Lorde - Royals
Ella Henderson - Ghost
Lady Gaga - Applause


A different type of game and one that we waited to review as we felt that it was best to bring it to readers attention at this time of year. After all, if you’re having a party what’s better than a bit of home Karaoke? This game from Koch Media, is one that we found not only entertaining but way more fun when you have a few of you joining in.

The songs are modern and up to date (as they’re from the last couple of years) , its easy to play and rather than a winner or loser, it’s the shared experience that makes this a whole heap of fun. All in whilst you can play it on your own, a group of friends is always way better, however personally I would have liked a variety of music from across the genres and time periods as older gamers may feel a bit isolated at the unfamiliarity of the tracks.

All round, this title is a good bit of fun and at a time of year when you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll find kids of all ages running for the console to have a bit of singing fun and for me, that’s the key to the game, especially when other tracks will be added at a later date. Cracking.