Star Trek Beyond Review

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I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Those were my Star Trek’s, much more so than the original Star Trek show. Saying that, Undiscovered Country is my favourite Star Trek film, with Wrath of Kahn and First Contact alongside it. I really liked the first re-boot film, I thought everyone in it was excellent and that it told a good story, while managing to be exciting. I was not such a big fan of Into Darkness, I found it used action instead of character, and the story was flimsy at best. Beyond corrects all of that and is probably one of the best Star Trek films.

First of all the story is simple and well done. I won’t go into spoilers, but the story works well, and moves along at an incredible pace. The 2 hr running time flies by.

The characters are all well-realised and work well together. Bones and Spock in particular are fantastic in this film, finally giving that relationship some much-needed time. Karl Urban has always been amazing as Bones, and this makes an even greater case for him being the perfect actor to play such an iconic part.

Chris Pine is a phenomenal Kirk. I’ve had no problems with his take on the character throughout the three films, and hope if there’s a fourth film that he continues to helm the ship. Zachary Quinto rounds out this trio, and this is his best film. There are some genuinely touching moments between him and those people he cares about, and there’s a wonderful tribute to Leonard Nimoy that really tugs at the heart-strings.

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The rest of the Federation cast is phenomenal too, although a special mention goes out to  Zoe Saldana, who I’ve always liked as Uhura, and John Cho who is just a badass Sulu. Lastly, there’s Anton Yelchin. It’s genuinely sad that he’ll never play Chekov again, as he does such a good job, and his passing will leave a huge hole in future movies.

Sofia Boutella is amazing as Jaylah. She’s a badass, smart warrior who gets some incredible action scenes, which as a whole as fantastic throughout the film. I hope she gets to come back for future films.

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I know the Enterprise gets destroyed a lot, but you’ll still be gob-smacked at what happens in the opening part of the film.

And that brings us to our villain. Most good Star Trek films have a good villain. When Krall is first introduced, played by Idris Elba, he comes off as a generic villain, albeit a good one, but throughout the film Elba is fantastic. And while I guessed the revelations about what was happening, they were no less shocking.

So, this is a well-acted, exciting, action-packed blockbuster of a movie. Are there any problems?

Well, Simon Pegg is still a bit hit and miss as Scotty, and the ending is a little far-fetched even for this franchise. Also, some of the background fx is too loud and you can’t hear what people are saying. It happened a lot when Scotty was in the engine room, and it was a bit weird. But other than that, it’s pretty much an all round excellent way to spend 2 hours of your time.

I know the trailers didn’t really inspire hope that it would be a good film, I know they left me cold, but the use of Beastie Boys Sabotage, is phenomenal in this film. Some might find it cheesy, and I guess it is a little, but I thought it worked brilliantly.

You like Star Trek, this is for you. You like big action-packed blockbusters, this is for you. You like your sci-fi with actual characters, this is for you. It’s the best Star Trek film since First Contact. I can’t wait to see it again.

 

Ghostbusters 2016 (Review)

 

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Okay, I’m going to start by saying that this isn’t as good as the original. It was never likely to be. The original Ghostbusters was such a lightning in a bottle kind of thing that it was unlikely to be matched. It’s also one of my favourite films of all time, so I was very apprehensive about this remake. And while it’s not as good as the original, it’s a hell of a lot better than Ghostbusters 2.

 

The main four women are all brilliant. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are both on fine form, and Leslie Jones has a few brilliant lines, but Kate McKinnon steals the show. She’s phenomenally funny in this film.

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Speaking of show stealing, Chris Hemsworth is brilliant. He’s just fantastic every time he’s on screen as a bumbling, charming, complete and utter idiot.

 

The action scenes are well done, especially toward the end, and the film is genuinely funny in many places (including a bit where they read Youtube video comments). The cameo’s are all really fun, and the visual effects are pretty much spot on.

 

But it’s not perfect. It has one too many beats that are lifted from the original, which do nothing but remind you of how good the original is, and some of the jokes are just not very funny. But in a film where more hit and made me laugh than didn’t, I’ll call that a win.

 

Other problems include the mayor and his aide, who were just annoying, and the main villain, who didn’t seem all that dangerous at any point. Gozer was hardly given a great character, but the build up to her reveal was excellent. Here, it’s less interesting, and feels like they could have done with an extra 20 mins or so.

 

I assume many of you have read those hate-filled reviews and posts on IMBD or Facebook, or maybe even Twitter. Posts by usually angry white men who hate the fact that this film exists, that women are allowed to be the main focus of a Ghostbusters movie. Those people are idiots. And frankly, it’s their loss. This film isn’t anti-man, or militant feminist, or anything else people have said.

 

But they’re small complains in the scheme of things. If you like the Ghostbusters, you’ll like this, if you like action-packed, funny films, you’ll like this. And, one last thing; the cinema was full of young women and girls. And judging from the clapping and cheering, they loved it. This is their Ghostbusters, and it’s a fine film.

 

I hope they get a sequel, I hope they get that chance, because if they can come out from under the shadow of the original a bit, I think they could make a phenomenal film. As it stands, they made a really good one.

The Nice Guys – Review

Last year I picked up a cinema ticket that lets me go as often as I like to see whatever I like. It lasts for a year, and I mainly got it because I knew I was going to go see X-men, Civil War, Batman Vs Superman, Star Wars, and all those other big blockbuster films that I was looking forward to. I did not buy that ticket to see The Nice Guys. I didn’t even know the film existed until about a month ago. But I’m really glad I did.

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The Nice Guys is a film about Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. It’s set in 1977 Los Angeles and it’s directed and written by Shane Black. Shane Black, for those who don’t know, is one of those guys who if I see his name attached to a film, I’ll go see it. He wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and a whole lot more.

I don’t think it’s too much to say that The Nice Guys is the best film I’ve seen this year. And i adored Civil War. The Nice Guys is everything I want in an action comedy. For a start, it’s actually funny. Not chuckle funny, but laugh out loud in the cinema funny. The lady behind me snorted like a pig. Actually snorted. And she was about eight rows behind me. That’s how funny this film is.

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Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are superb, Angourie Rice (who plays Ryan’s daughter) is brilliant every time she’s on screen. She’s not one of those annoying kids who you get tired of, she’s genuinely funny, and even though she comes across as wanting to be treated like an adult, she also has those moments when she is a thirteen year old girl who is trying to hold everything together.

Honestly, the acting is great throughout, and there’s a brilliant script for the actors to work with. The twists are surprising for the most part, and… look, if you haven’t seen this film yet, go. Now. This film deserves to make a huge amount of money. They rarely make films like this anymore, and it’s a shame. But if anyone could have pulled it off, it would have been Shane Black, and damn if it hasn’t done it in style.

Promise of Wrath Update

While there’s no cover yet, there is a blurb. And here it is:

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A powerful sorcerer. A forgotten past. Hellequin is back, and the end is near.

A terrible storm is brewing in London, and Nathan Garrett, the sorcerer known as Hellequin, is the only one who can stop it.

But his enemies have other plans. Harnessing the power of an ancient stone tablet, they cast Nate and his allies into another realm, where a bloody conflict rages between creatures twisted by magic. Meanwhile, with his friends’ lives in danger, Nate must put centuries of differences aside, and place his trust in one of his greatest foes.

Time is running out. Trapped and outnumbered, Nate must use all his wits and power to survive and find his way home before his enemies start a war that could destroy everything he holds close. Welcome to the penultimate chapter of the Hellequin Chronicles.

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I know what you’re thinking, there’s that word penultimate. To answer the next question, yes Hellequin Chronicles will finish with book 7. No, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Nate’s story. I can’t really reveal more at the moment, but rest assured, Nate’s story isn’t done with book 7.

In the meantime, you can pre-order Promise of Wrath HERE

Warcraft: The Beginning. A Review.

Despite the fairly negative reviews on sites such as Metacritic, I went to see Warcraft today, and I figured I’d do a quick review to give my thoughts. There might be mild spoilers, be warned.

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I guess I should start this review by explaining that I’ve never played Warcraft in any of it’s forms. I have no interest in starting now, either, and I’ve never read any of the books or comics up to this point. My entire knowledge of the Warcraft world is limited to knowing it’s a fantasy world, that there are Orcs in it, and obviously Leeroy Jenkins (google it).

On the other hand, I love fantasy movies and despite some awful trailers, this one intrigued me. I think it’s fair to say, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

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First and foremost, it’s beautiful. If you think the pictures were pretty, you haven’t seen anything until you see it all moving. Everything looks stunning, the scenery, the animation, the Orcs especially are something quite special.

Speaking of the Ocs, they’re the best thing in the film. Each of them looks brilliant, and you get genuine emotion from Toby Kebbell, who is incredible as Durotan, one of the Orc chiefs. Actually his story is probably the most interesting part of the film, and I wish there was more of it. The whole, “do I betray my people to save my people?” arc is well done here, and I found myself really enjoying Durotan’s time on screen. Also, his scenes with his wife and baby felt genuine and touching.

Special praise goes to Daniel Wu and his excellent portrayal of the evil Gul’dan. He was great every time he was on screen.

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The human side of the story is a bit more a mixed bag. On the one hand you’ve got Travis Fimmel as Sir Anduin Lothar. He’s brilliant, frankly, and basically holds up the entire human part of the film almost single-handedly. He’s a badass warrior, and manages to come across as someone you really don’t want as an enemy.

Ben Schnetzer is also excellent as Khadgar, a mage who’s incredibly out of his depth, and both he and Fimmel work well together when they’re on screen.

The action scenes were magnificent, and stunning to watch. The real high-point of the film, and they managed to look pretty vicious despite it only being a 12a in the UK.

The story as a whole is quite interesting, and the film flies along its 2hr show time, but there are some issues.

  1. The big reveal of the bad guy is a giant ‘meh’. I simply didn’t care about the character, nor his motivations, and frankly I guessed he would be the villain the second he comes on screen.
  2. Dominic Cooper isn’t in it enough to really give his character the drive it needed for people to want him to succeed. I wanted Fimmel to do it because he’s heroic, and badass, but his king just sort of arrived, said a few things and left. He needed a bigger part.
  3. Actually that’s the biggest problem I have with the film, it needed more of it. There needed to be more of the king, more of the humans you were meant to be rooting for.
  4. The romance between Lothar and Garona felt tacked on. It was obvious it was going to happen, but there was zero set up to it. One minute they were talking, the next they were deeply in love. I didn’t buy it for a second.
  5. There were no twists or shocking parts to the film. None. Everything that was meant to be a twist could have been seen a mile away, although that didn’t dampen my enjoyment of it for the most part.
  6. Fimmel’s son was a plot device and nothing more.
  7. It needed more humour. I wanted someone a Leeroy Jenkins moment, or more sarcastic one-liners. There were characters who did it occasionally, but not enough for my liking.
  8. More species. Hopefully if they get a sequel the elves and dwarves can actually do something.

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The film was obviously a labour of love for all involved, it’s just a shame that the script couldn’t quite match the lofty ambitions. Now, I really liked it, but I love fantasy films anyway, and I can certainly see why others might not feel as invested.

It’s better than Batman vs Superman and X-men apocalypse, and anyone who says it isn’t beautiful is either trolling or blind. The script needed polishing, and several of the characters needed to go away as they take screen time from characters who are actually interesting. It’s one of the few films where I’d say 2hrs isn’t enough. If they do a director’s cut and add another 30-40 minutes onto the running time, I’d be happy with that.

So, I do recommend it, but it’s not for everyone. You like fantasy, you’ll probably enjoy it. You like Warcraft, you’ll love it. And if you want big grand action packed scenes, or you want to see orcs and humans beat the shit out of each other, then this is the film for you. I really hope it gets the sequel it desperately wants, as I’m very interested in seeing what they do from here.

It’s also probably a film that the majority of reviews I’ve read have either missed the point (it’s not meant to be Lord of the Rings), or just don’t seem to like it because it’s a videogame movie. Go see it for yourself. There’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it.

 

 

 

Promise of Wrath

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There’s no cover, or blurb, but there is a pre-order for Hellequin Book 6, Promise of Wrath. And there’s a release date for the ebook version: 13th September (the print copy will follow in Nov).

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However, because I’m feeling really nice, here’s the setting for the flashback sequences in Promise of Wrath;

Kingdom of Jerusalem. September, 1195.

X-men Apocalypse

I’ve just got back from the cinema to watch X-men Apocalypse.

Now, I’ve enjoyed all of the X-men movies bar X-men 3, which was awful, and Wolverine: Origins, which is a crime against film goers that Deadpool managed to make me forget about.

I loved X-men First Class, and really enjoyed the sequel Days of Future Past. Unfortunately, Apocalypse doesn’t live up to either of them.

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I’ll go through what I liked first, and then say what I didn’t. There might be a few spoilers, but I’ll keep them light, if you just want to read my thoughts go to the end.

What  I Liked:

1. The cast is brilliant. Everyone is very good in their role. Special mentions go to Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and Evan Peters as Quicksilver, but everyone was good.

2. It looks very good. Seriously, some of it is incredible to watch.

3. Quicksilver’s action parts are incredible.

4. The end battle is really quite cool.

5. Pheonix.

6. Wolverine. In fact his whole bit probably steals the film. Again.

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What I Didn’t Like:

1. The story jumped around all over the place.

2. It had a massive cast and didn’t build up people it wanted you to care about: Storm, Psylock, Angel, and several others were given cursory background information and then cast into the melee to sink or swim.

3. Apocalypse’s power is basically; whatever the plot needs him to do. I know he’s been absorbing powers for ages, but every time the plot needs him to do something, he suddenly has a power that can do it.

4. Apocalypse is boring. Like, really, really boring.

5. It’s another Magneto vs Xavier with Mystique flittering between them film. This was getting old in the last film, here it’s just tired and dull.

 

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My Thoughts.

I didn’t hate the film. In fact I found it quite enjoyable, but it tried to do too much with too many characters, and didn’t really manage it. It’s worth a watch, but it made me think, “I wonder what Marvel would do with all of these characters.”

Maybe they should have just done an Age of Apocalypse film, but this feels like it’s the middle part of something larger. Still, I’m glad I saw it, and the 2 and a bit hours flew by. I just wish they’d done so much less to achieve so much more.

 

4 Years on.

4 years ago, on the 28th April 2012, I self published my first book, Crimes Against Magic. I sold 28 copies opening day. I was thrilled.

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4 years later, and after leaving the self-publishing world for the traditional a few years ago, I’ve had 5 books published, been in the top 10 best-selling books on Amazon US, and and have just handed the 6th in to my publisher after the second round of edits.

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I actually only remembered the milestone of 4 years ago, because my wife reminded me. Otherwise I doubt I’d have remembered at all, and not because it wasn’t important, or anything like that, but simply because so much has happened since then.

 

I’ve had a more traditional publisher for the last 2 ½ years, after 47North asked if they could re-publish the first 2 books and work with me on wherever the Hellequin Chronicles went. I said yes pretty quickly. As much as self publishing was very rewarding, and I’d done well enough through it, it’s also a colossal amount of extra work. Work where otherwise I could be writing another book. I’ve had a great time working with everyone there, and may that continue to be the case.

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So, that’s all up to now. 4 years as an author, and about 4 months of that as a full-time author. So, what’s next?

 

Well, this is going to be a bit of a list, and not everything here will happen within any kind of timeframe that I actually have, but it gives you a rough idea of what I’m working on.

 

  1. Promise of Wrath (Hellequin 6). This is the one people are asking me about, and I still don’t have a release date, sorry. I still have copy edits, line edits, and probably something else I’m forgetting, to get through first.
  2. A new book with new characters and nothing to do with Hellequin. It’s coming along nicely.
  3. Epic Fantasy book: I plan to start this after Divided. I plan on finishing it too. Best laid plans and all that.
  4. Warbringer: The big epic sci-fi I was working on needs a lot of work, so I have no idea when it’ll be finished. I promise my agent it will be finished though. Promise.

 

 

Both 3 and 4 here, don’t have publishers, so that work gets put behind the stuff that does. Oh, and I forgot book 7 of Hellequin. Gotta write that too.

 

So, after 4 years of being published, I’m busier than I’ve ever been. Bloodborne remains unfinished, and books remain unread.

Whole Lotta Sales

There are probably some of you out there who haven’t picked up the Hellequin books as of yet. I’m here to help with that.

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At the moment, the Hellequin Chronicles ebooks are on sale in 3 different countries. I’ll supply links and info below about each of them, primarily because I’m nice like that, but also because I want people to actually buy the books.

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So, first up is the USA.

All 5 books are currently on offer for under $10. That’s a whole lot of reading for $10.

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Now to my homeland, the UK.

All 5 books are only £0.99 each.

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Last, but by no means least, is Australia.

Each Hellequin book is only $1.49 there.

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So, that’s it. Lots of sales, and all of them only lasting until the end of the month, so get them while you can. And if you do decide to take the plunge, I hope you enjoy them.

Superman Vs Batman: Thoughts

I’ve been to watch Batman VS Superman, and wanted to write down my thoughts on the film. Considering I had no hope of making this short enough to post on FB or Twitter, I figured writing them here would be a better idea.

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First the bad:

 

  • The story is nonsensical, and jumps around all over the place for no real reason.
  • Huge chunks of story are just forgotten about, or ignored because they’re clearly just there for future films, or because Zack Snyder forgot they existed.
  • Zack Snyder isn’t a very good director.
  • Everything is gloomy and dark. The entire colour palate to the film is like watching through fog. It’s annoying and utterly misses the point of a Superman film.
  • There’s no levity in the whole film. Compare it to something like Winter Soldier, which was still a serious film, but one that had humour, and excitement. Those aren’t in this film.
  • The CGI fights look pretty crappy in the darkness that blankets the whole film.
  • Lex Luthor is more annoying, twitchy dick, than evil genius. Also, his entire plot makes no sense for someone who’s meant to be said evil genius.
  • Every character in the Daily Planet is pointless and serves no purpose.
  • It’s too long.
  • It’s obviously just a set up for a future film.
  • Amy Adams is just there to be saved for the most part.
  • In 2016 we don’t need yet another Batman origin story. EVERYONE KNOWS WHO BATMAN IS, and if you don’t, then spend ten seconds on Google before you get into the film.
  • The ending is obvious, trite, and frankly insulting to the audiences’ intelligence.
  • Doomsday is dreadful and looks like the Troll from Lord of the Rings, a 15 yr old film.

 

 

Essentially, the story is all over the place, and the direction is a mess. So, that’s not great.

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Now the good stuff:

 

  • Henry Cavill is a good Superman. He really is, even with all the moping he has to do, he’s still pretty good. If they just made him a bit more… Superman, and a bit less miserable, that would be brilliant.
  • Gal Gadot is a very good Wonder Woman. She doesn’t have a lot to work with, but what she does shines. I have high hopes for a WW film based on her work here.
  • BEN AFFLECK SAVES THIS FILM. He’s phenomenal as Batman and Bruce Wayne, managing to play a Batman who has been pushed far beyond breaking that he’s now willing to do some pretty messed up stuff in the name of what he believes. He’s brilliant and every second he’s on screen, he steals the film. I now want to see an Affleck solo Batman film.
  • The Batman action scenes. They’re brilliant.
  • Jeremy Irons.
  • Holly Hunter
  • That’s pretty much it.

 

Without Affleck, this would be a colossal mess of a film with few redeeming qualities. As it is, he drags it kicking and screaming up to a film I didn’t mind watching.

 

Just one thing. Stop letting Zack direct Superman. It’s clear he doesn’t get Superman, it’s clear he just wants slow-mo and explosions. Give the next Superman film to someone who understands the character and let them go nuts.

 

Also, DC seems determined to do grim and gritty with these characters, and it just doesn’t work. They’re so far behind the Marvel films in terms of fun characters, action and story, it isn’t even a competition. Compare this to something like Winter Soldier, the Avengers, or Iron Man, and it’s not even in the same league. It’s a real shame because they had the chance to knock it out of the park, and they barely managed to hit the ball at all.

 

I hope the Blu-ray extended version fixes some of the problems with the story, but I doubt they’d fix it to the extent it needs fixing. Essentially, it’s a pretty poor film, but with one incredible performance, which is certainly not what I would have said about an Affleck superhero film. It’s not awful, but a bad story and bad direction mask the goodness inside. Glad I saw it, but it’s not even in the top ten superhero films of the last five years, let alone of all time.

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