Man Of Steel – Review

NOTE: I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible! No major plot points are given away during this review. If you have watched the trailers, you should be fine to continue!

The newest attempt at creating a decent Superman film is out and yesterday I went to see it. So how does “Man Of Steel” stack up? Is it a super attempt at re-establishing Superman’s place amongst the recent titans of superhero films such as Iron Man and the Dark Knight trilogy, or is it simply the kryptonite to cinema goers everywhere that will leave you squirming in your seats, powerless to do anything to stop the terrible, terrible pain that it’s putting you through?

Jumping right in, we start the film following Superman’s father Jor-El during the dying days of Krypton. Russell Crowe is absolutely brilliant as Jor-El, settling right into the role. This, combined with the casting of Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Superman shows that the producers clearly know how to cast a movie. Following the destruction of Krypton, we see Clark Kent working various jobs in various places, saving those in need and then moving on to maintain his anonymity. This section is peppered with flashbacks to Clark’s childhood and we get to see him coping with his powers. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as the Kents are yet another inspired piece of casting, with Costner being the exact image of Jonathon Kent that you expect someone with as strong an ethical compass as Superman to be raised by.

Clark discovering his past, meeting Lois Lane and being tracked down her keeps the movie ticking along comfortably, with some fantastic scenes between Amy Adams and Henry Cavill setting up a spark of romance that could easily be furthered in any future sequels. I particularly enjoyed the brief moments of humour in the scenes with Superman learning how to fly and then being interrogated by the FBI. This film isn’t the comedic take to superhero action that one might expect from an Iron Man film though, the humour is sparse, focusing on a more solemn story of Superman’s origins.

Man of Steel also serves as a slight Matrix reunion for fanboys such as myself with both Laurence Fishburne, playing Daily Planet editor Perry White, and Harry Lennix, as General Swanwick, being part of the supporting cast. Sadly, these two characters never meet and we never have a discussion about the fate of Zion Metropolis or the powers of The One Superman. Shame.

All in all, I thought the film was amazing. Lovely visual effects, great casting, a story that really draws you in and villains that actually feel just a touch villainous. It really was a brilliant film.

Until the last 40 minutes.

When General Zod comes to Earth all of the previous scenes in the movie are wiped completely from the viewer’s minds as we embark of 40 minutes of destruction, culminating in a final confrontation between Zod and Supes. This 40 minutes is LOUD. I know cinemas are usually above the average volume you might normally watch a movie at, but this was taken to another level. Buildings falling down, cars exploding, missiles being fired, the whole of Metropolis is pretty much at threat of becoming a pile of ash, with a large amount of it ending up so. They try to hide the fact that whilst you might see a lot of people escaping the buildings and cars, most of them wouldn’t have made it out and that leads to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people that you just know are dead when that flaming train is launched through the side of a building.

All in all, whilst the relentless final third of the film does detract somewhat from the overall effect, this was in no way a bad film. It just could have been better. The aspect of morality and choice that Superman has makes him a much more relatable and much more human character than he has often been portrayed as and whilst many people may not like that, I think it adds a touch more depth to the series and (hopefully) paves the way for the DC shared universe of films, just like the Marvel counterpart.

If you like superhero movies you’ll love this. If you can forgive the ending for being a bit action heavy then you’ll surely agree that it’s a great film that just could have done with a little more forethought towards the pacing.

OVERALL VERDICT: 8/10

Good, solid film let down slightly by the rather action heavy final third. Hopefully any sequels will only improve upon this. Definitely worth a watch.

 

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‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Review

Fifty Darker

I’m going to start this review with a direct quote from the book:

“Wouldn’t you rather have a cup of tea?”

The answer to that is, of course, yes. Yes I would much rather have sat and drunk a thousand cups of tea than go through the mental torture that this book has inflicted upon me, but alas, I didn’t.

If you weren’t around over the summer months, or if you have a memory like a sieve, then you might not know that I put myself through the burning, soul destroying mental torturefest challenge of reading the hottest book in the world at that time, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. You can find my write up of that experience right here: Click at your own peril – includes Fifty Shades content!  Seven months on, I felt like I was ready to take the icy plunge into the cool steel gaze of multi billionaire CEO, philanthropist and deviant, Christian Grey.

*DISCLAIMER: THIS CONTAINS “SPOILERS” BUT THE BOOK ISN’T THAT GOOD ANYWAY, SO I’D JUST READ ON IF I WERE YOU, REGARDLESS.*

Picking up 3 days after the absolutely nail biting climax of the last book where main character and instantly irritating shrew, Ana, stormed out on Christian after deciding he was too weird for her, we get to see how Ana completely fails to deal with her recent break up. Like any cliche, Ana stops eating and starves herself, forcing herself through the motions at her new job, which she never seems to do any real work at but we’ll get to that later. Ana spends a lot of the first chapter moping about how much she misses Christian, even though she was the one who stormed out and left him. EL James, the horror architect author also keeps swapping the way she spells “gray” flipping between a and e throughout the book. I feel like a proofread was needed here.

Anyway, in true doormat form, Ana sees she has an email from Christian, asking her if she wanted to go to her friend Jose’s art show with him. You know Jose? That character that suddenly disappeared halfway through the first book? No? Don’t worry he flits in and out of this one too! Anyway, Ana accepts and spends the next 4 pages or there about worrying about seeing Christian. Quite frankly, what are you doing Ana? You’ve been broken up for like 4 days, this is not healthy. Grow up and get some common sense.

Skipping through vast swathes of this book. Ana and Christian get back together, they email a lot when Ana should be working (seriously, she does nothing other than email her boyfriend ALL day! How has she not been fired?), Christian buys her extravagant gifts and the most pointless sub plot of his crazy ex-submissive coming after Ana and him gets introduced. Honestly I don’t think there’s been a more forced strand to a story in a long while, possibly ever in fact!

After a few chapters about a charity ball, which pass in relative obscurity we end up with Christian going top-notch super crazy and asking Ana to marry him (yes I’m skipping a lot. you would too if you had to write about it.). Obviously, she says she needs time to think as she’s only known him for 5 weeks and he is nuttier than rat crap at a pistachio factory. He then goes super mental and becomes a submissive, asking her if that’s what she wants and the whole book takes a turn for the odd.

Anyway, skipping forward again, we get treated to the absolute JOY that is the return of “the tenacious Katherine Kavanagh” possibly the worst supporting character in a novel ever. If only she had been written out permanently. On the bright side though, Jose returns for a few chapters before disappearing into obscurity once again.

There’s a helicopter crash, a lot of crying and a birthday party and then we find out that Ana was being cruel by not giving Christian’s proposal a real answer because she gave him a present that he wasn’t allowed to open until his birthday, which turned out to be a keyring with a big YES in flashing lights on it. Talk about torturing a guy!

Anyway, the book ends with Christian giving Ana a truly romantic proposal, then we get a small epilogue section featuring Ana’s old boss, who Christian violently assaulted with no repercussions whatsoever and who caused the helicopter crash, contemplating murder again and foreshadowing the next book. So you know it’s going to be a light-hearted finish to the trilogy!

In summary, it’s more of the same but at least James is trying to give Christian some depth, which he needs as Ana has so little. I felt that the book picked up a bit in the second half, after we got rid of the boring, crazy ex sub-plot. That said, I wouldn’t hurry to read it again. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever think about reading it again.

I’ll probably get around to reading the last book at some point, I’ve come this far so it seems silly not to. I wouldn’t hold your breath and expect it any time soon though…

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to read something mentally stimulating, not mentally crushing.

‘The Last Angel’ by Sarah PJ White – Review

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‘The Last Angel’ is a novel by the mum of a friend of mine so you may be forgiven for thinking that I am going to be biased in reviewing this book. I wold like to put it out there right now that this is NOT the case and anything that I write is from an unbiased point of view, based upon the book itself. Smashing, let’s begin.

Set in the quaint little town of Thatcham (although I sense this is a stylised version of the town, bearing the same name and geographical location) The Last Angel tells the story of Crystal Meadows, a seemingly ordinary girl who has just had the absolute joy of turning 21. Except, Crystal isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s an Angel. In fact, she’s the Last Angel, the only remnant of a purge ordered by The Others, an overarching power of creation and control that become the faceless main antagonist of the story.

Crystal is the product of a relationship between her mother Izzy, a healah and her father Samuel, a flyah. These roles are part of the caste system of enlightened human beings on earth that have been made aware of their powers by The Others, so that they can perform tasks for them when necessary. The third full blood cast, the digahs form the ‘grunt’ troop of The Others and serve as the main weapon of this faceless enemy. I know, it’s a lot to get your head around in a short time but White paces the story well to prevent too much confusion, with Crystal learning as we do exactly what is going on in her world.

As the story progresses, we meet a host of supporting characters including my favourite character in the story, Nathan – a flyah friend of Izzy and Samuel, who for some reason I can’t picture as anyone other than Woody Harrelson as Haymitch in the Hunger Games films. Frank, the religious zealot father of best friend Emily is also introduced and becomes a key foil to the best laid plans of Crystal and co. with White clearly setting him up for greater things in the second book. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t connect with the character of Frank, finding it hard to believe that anybody that devoted their life so wholly to following the word of God could be quite as despicable and loathsome as he is. That being said, I still managed to picture him as Nicholas Cage in ‘Kick Ass’ but creepier.

As the story plots on, Crystal becomes more aware of her abilities and learns to control hem, after being entrusted with The Account – the true story of creation. It was prophesied that an Angel would set into motion the enlightenment of the world and the downfall of The Others and, with her being the only one left, it appears that Crystal has become the one to fulfil the prophecy. We also see Crystal begin a relationship with her boss, Tony the American, who I believe is quite an underdeveloped character, but I get the feeling that we haven’t seen the last of him and I have my suspicions that he may have a darker agenda than just dating Crystal; we will have to wait for the second book and see.

Overall, The Last Angel is an entertaining read, I was able to skip through it at a comfortable pace in just three evenings, with no feeling that the story was dragging or being filled with pointless padding, just to up the page count. My disappointment with the book came with the spelling and grammar mistakes in the book, with it having more than I would have liked to have seen, but as I’m sure those of you that read my posts before I have a chance to go back through them and triple check will know, I have no leg to stand on about this. Other than that tiny gripe, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Last Angel and if anybody Is looking for an affordable Ebook then I would recommend you go and grab yourself a copy before the second part of trilogy is released and you have to pay catch up!

Overall Rating:

Overall, I give The Last Angel eight happy llamas, out of ten. It’s a good book, well written and nicely paced. Well deserved!

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8 of these bad boys go to Sarah PJ White and her book ‘The Last Angel’

Book Reviews: The Hunger Games Trilogy

This might seem a little behind the times, seeing as almost everyone has now seen the film and probably read the books, but here is my own little review for you.

The Hunger Games is the trilogy of books that everyone has been talking about recently. Written by Suzanne Collins the books have been read by millions of people worldwide and topped numerous best seller lists. The film adaptation of the first book in the trilogy has had success in multiple countries. Truly these books are seen to be something special.

So why am I going against all of this to say to you that in my opinion: ‘The Hunger Games’ was alright.

I’m  not going to rail against the books for being a travesty of modern fiction because, when all is said and done, they were a good read. The story itself was captivating and you wanted to read more, to find out what happened to Katniss – the series protagonist. The setting; the great, post apocolyptic nation of Panem; was intriguing and offered a stark contrast to some of the dystopian-set books that I’ve read. At least at first. I mean, the first book in the series, The Hunger Games, was a good read and an interesting story (if quite similar to many other stories that are out there already. Battle Royale anyone?) and I found the book difficult to put down at times. So with great expectations i set about reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the second and third titles in the series. It was right here that I got let down.

The sequels were just that. Sequels that just were’nt good enough to be books in their won right. All throughout Catching Fire I had the feeling that this was nothing but an overlong prologue for the third book. That the entire purpose of the second book was to pave the way for the third book and not provide any character development whilst doing it. The third book, Mockingjay, wasn’t much better. It tried to be a war story, but it didn’t do a very good job at it.

Overall, I found the trilogy to be a bit of a disappointment after the first book. Don’t get me wrong, it was still enjoyable and readable but after the expectations that were given to me by the reccommendations of almost everybody that I know who read the books, I felt a little let down.

Overall, the trilogy gets a 7/10 with the first book deserving of a 9/10 on its own.