Saturday, July 27, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Red Line

Red Line is a 2013 Thriller starring Nicole Gale Anderson, John Billingsley and Kunal Sharma. The film was directed by Robert Kirbyson and written by Robert Kirbyson and Tara Stone and was released n the US on the 16th July 2013. As of writing this review it has scored a 5.7 on IMDB.

PLOT

A Los Angeles subway train is brought to a slamming stop, the tunnel partially collapsed, and several people injured. The survivors must figure out what caused it, and must deal with the greater danger that soon faces them.

WHY I WATCHED


I could talk about the immediately interesting idea of the plot or the fact that I like the contained nature of the action as it all takes in a subway train. The real reason though that brought me here was Nicole Gale Anderson who I did not know about until I started watching the CW Beauty and the Beast reboot starring Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan. Apparently she is also going to be the star of the upcoming Pretty Little Liar’s spinoff Ravenwood.

WHAT I THOUGHT

It is amazing how well a simple idea can be executed with a small budget. This is a fine example of that, a small efficient movie that does what it sets out to do. At the heart of Red Line is a story about people and fear and that is what holds the attention of the audience so well.  The pacing is excellent, the film doesn’t need to constantly go at break neck speed even the quieter moments are filled with tension.

Everything in the film is set in the narrow confines of that train with a small cast it definitely promotes a feeling of claustrophobia which then leads to the paranoia around who it is we can trust. The actors do a pretty good job as it is their job to sell the peril and later the despair of being trapped down there with a killer with no way out.

Another factor that makes the film interesting is that in essence it is really a cut down whodunit with all the suspects trapped inside the train, while it is not quite Agatha Christie it does give your mind something to work away on while moving through the film.


This is a film that I can easily recommend for a fun night in something that will make you think even while entertaining you. Something that surprised me was the article that popped into my inbox while I was writing up this review check it out to see how unusual Red Line as a production really is.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars Crucible by Troy Denning

Star Wars Crucible is a 2013 Stars Wars Expanded Universe novel written by Troy Denning. It was released on 9th July 2013 by Lucas Books with an ISBN of 0345511425.

PLOT

Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.


 
When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.
 
Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.
 

WHY I BOUGHT IT

I am a long time fan of Stars Wars Expanded Universe and I was eagerly anticipating the next chapter after Apocalypse. I wasn’t sure which direction it would go in but I was happy to see a story involving Luke, Leia and Han. Although it seemed clear at first that it would not be a direct follow on from the previous series.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I think Crucible was a really good way to pass on the torch; the only unfortunate thing is that we don’t know where the torch is being passed to. If you are unsure of what I mean then you should check out this interview with the author which explains thing well.


To summarise now that Disney has bought up the rights for Star Wars and are releasing at least one new film and there is more than a question as to whether this might be mean a retconning of the Expanded Universe.
Now onto the book itself, it is clear from the outset that this is one for long standing fans of Star Wars, I mean we start out with a good old fashioned bar shootout and there are numerous Easter eggs like that packed in that I will just leave you to find for yourselves.

The story is an interesting one and ties together enough of the threads left dangling after the end of Apocalypse while still establishing its own story and even taking the time to introduce a new character that looks like they will be around for awhile.

One of the things that really allowed me to feel like I was in the world of the Expanded Universe is the depth of the characters personalities , thanks to the 45 in universe years we really do know what to expect from these three who have been there since the beginning of Star Wars. Luckily this manages to stay on the right side of things as even though we know the characters so well the interactions and the story doesn't ever begin to feel like we have seen it all before it all feels new and fresh.

Although this book is in the majority about the Big Three so to speak there is space for other characters including an interesting snippet about a young and arrogant Jedi youngling who I hope we will see again in a juicier role. We also get introduced to a cocky young miner whom I hesitate to Han Solo II (Han Yolo? Sham Solo) who looks like he might be sticking around for awhile.


After Crucible I can only hope that this is not the end of the Expanded Universe and that Disney won’t let greed and pandering to film studios effectively destroy 45 years of in universe history.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cleaning Things Up


So hmm maybe last month I had an inspection of my rented accommodation which means beforehand I had to do a clean and a clear up of the flat which generally looks like a bomb site otherwise. The main problem is space and a distinct lack storage options, I think this place needs to be IKEA’d but anyway it can be cleaned up but not in anyway that supports someone living.

Cleaning up my flat got me thinking about trying to clean things up personally trying to get my life in order as much as something like that is possible without a job. Anyway I think the first step is to get more organised in terms of upcoming events, interviews and the like. Too often I have nearly forgotten about important appointments because I didn’t centralise all the dates I had to follow.

I'm not sure if I should use my phone to do it or try a diary. I have thought about e-mail or maybe Google Calendar or whatever it is called. I will have to see though after I do something about the seemingly endless paperwork I have stocked up over the last few years. Nothing is more worrying to me than tearing up some seemingly useless paperwork that I’ll need to prove I paid something.

Maybe I’m just one of those Hoarder cases waiting to happen.

Interviews and Feedback

Feedback the bane of my existence it seems as so many places that you would think of as respectable established businesses fail to provide on requests. As far as I’m concerned if you have an actual HR department then there is no excuse for not providing useful feedback on an interview short of said interview consisting of me walking into the interview of delivering 3 stone cold stunners to the panel (I rarely do this).

If the interviewee (is that a word) turns up makes an effort and justifies your shortlisting of him or her then the other side of that bargain is you taking the time to note down why they lost out to the person you picked for the job. We study up on your business we write a decent application and we turn up bright eyed and bushy tailed surely that is enough for earn feedback.

Enough with the negative stuff.

STEAM



STEAM SALE. ZOMG. First time that I have had either the money or the hardware for the Steam Sale to matter me. I decided to make my first purchase (hopefully only) in the form of Defiance after all I’m a big fan of the show and I think I am more likely to try that game with its mixed content then a straight up FPS.

Friday, July 5, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Tomorrow When The War Began

Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden is a YA/Thriller set in a small town in Australia, originally published in 1993. The latest version of the book was published on 31 March 2011. The ISBN is 0857387332.

PLOT

The first book in a million-selling series. Now a major film. The astonishing adventure begins... Seventeen-year-old Ellie Linton wants one final adventure with her friends before the school holidays are over. Packed in Ellie's parents' Land Rover, they drive to a famously beautiful camp in the hills. Returning to their home town of Wirrawee, the seven teenagers realize that something is seriously wrong. Their world has changed forever. Would you give up everything? Would you fight? Would you sacrifice life itself? Tomorrow When the War Began asks the questions you may one day have to answer.


WHY I BOUGHT IT

I first started looking around at Tomorrow When The War Began I think a little after I watched the Red Dawn remake (pretty good film) and I saw parallels and thought that a book series around similar themes would be interesting. Also the series is HUGE in Australia and after Ranger’s Apprentice it is always worth taking note of things like that.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I can see why this book and series spent so much time at the top of the Australian book charts. The book has a slow start but given that this is a series this is to be expected and my patience was rewarded with an interesting cast of characters plus the slow build helps with getting used the phraseology (it took me a concerning amount of time to realise what a chook was).

The characters are great, we follow the adventures of the kids through the eyes of Ellie and she is a great fully realised character with strengths and weaknesses she feels a lot more real than a lot of protagonists from books published 15 years later.

You see the emotions of the kids as their world crumbles around them and you can feel their pain and confusion and it generates quite a sense of fear. It feels like that could happen given the background of the kids and the luck of having their hideaway which is nearly impossible to find.


This is the first in a series but it stands up well as a single book though I defy you to try and stop just at the one. Tomorrow When The War Began reminds me of all the best parts of books like the Hardy Boys mixed in with Old Time Radio style serial adventures. So if you want a adventure with a decent sense of realism with consequences for heroic actions then check this out you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Deadline by Mira Grant

Deadline is the second book in the Newsflesh Trilogy written by Mira Grant. It was released on 2 June 2011 and published by Orbit. The ISBN is 1841498998.

SPOILERS: DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT READ FEED BOOK ONE IN THE NEWSFLESH TRILOGY, THIS REVIEW WILL SPOIL THE ENDING OF THE FIRST BOOK AS IT FEATURES A PRETTY BIG TWIST. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED BY THESE CAPS BEWARE.

PLOT

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organisation he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.

But when a researcher from the Centre for Disease Control fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun's relieved to find a new purpose in life. Because this researcher comes bearing news: the monster who attacked them may be destroyed, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

WHY I BOUGHT IT

The first book in the series FEED was an excellent and thrilling book with a rich world so there was never a doubt that I would want to follow up and see where things go from here with all the people from After The End Times.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Oh my goodness, how can something so good fall so far. After reading FEED it was all I could do not to go directly to the second in the series Deadline I really wanted to see where it would go after an ending like that unfortunately where it went was straight down the toilet. Out of context that might seem harsh but I feel that it is fully justified. Feed was a tense political thriller with a bit of undead thrown in there to keep things interested while Deadline is a much slower paced story which is fine the trouble is with the change that comes over the main characters.

SPOILERS

Georgia died at the end of FEED and that sparked a change in Shaun. During FEED Shaun was a loveable jerk and of the siblings the more personable of the two by far and at worst could be thought of as a loveable jerk. In Deadline that person is as dead as Georgia and in his place is a mentally unbalanced asshole who is prone to violent outbursts and constantly in danger of turning on his friends and colleagues.

Shaun spends his time moaning about his situation and acting as if he was the only person who lost Georgia when all the people at the blog did as well as several other people. They all went through hell together but he insists on being alone in his suffering, sometimes when I was reading I got the feeling that as far as Shaun is concerned the only two humans on earth that matter where him and George and everyone else was just window dressing. I know it is somewhat explained by their strange childhoods but hey lots of people have lousy childhoods.

We learn that Shaun has assaulted the workers under him on at least two occasions and been violent in front of them many more times than that. That combined with his rather questionable sanity and the fact that he really has passed all of his responsibilities to the rest of the After The End Times staff leaves me with little to no respect for Shaun which bugs me throughout the book.

The other thing that bothers me about this book is the Filler. Now when I think of filler I usually mean that those arcs in anime versions of manga when they run out source material. In Deadline the filler is an almost constant recap of the events from FEED because you know why would we the readers know what happened in the previous book. Of course a little recap is fine but I don’t think I am overestimating to say that a fifth of this book is directly related to the events of the previous book, a cruel editor could have a field day reducing the page count on this book.

You could call it a bad case of the “Previously On” syndrome which ruins so many TV shows these days. Writing this it feels like I am making a lot of something that must be a minor detail but trust me when I tell you that it is a big deal.

The plot moves on nicely though despite these failings the problem is the quality of the writing in my opinion but I have already invested in the story after reading FEED. We slowly learn more about the conspiracy although by the end of the story it has only really revealed only a little bit more about the huge conspiracy behind the attempted assassination of the Presidential candidate.


To summarise my feelings on this mixed bag of a sequel if you have not read Feed yet DON’T if you have and are already sucked into what you think is one of the best series you have followed in a while continue to read on but prepared for disappointment.
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