Archive for February, 2013

Now includes Retribution…

The Breathing Dead

Resident Evil, a media franchise… From comic books, novelizations, to video games and action figures. It was Developed by Capcom and created by Shinji Mikami, and the series is known in Japan as Biohazard. Between books and films, I thought I’d take sometime out to share my comments on the Resident Evil films.
Resident Evil (2002)
An amnesiac heroine (Alice) and a band of commandos attempt to contain an outbreak at a secret underground facility where the virus has caused the dead to come back to life.

It’s a surprisingly great Zombie film. Past Zombie flicks have contained a lot of bad acting with low budgets and story lines that weren’t that great. Whle I can’t draw comparisons of the adaptation into the film Paul Anderson does a great job of creating an empty eerie atmosphere.

While some of the CGI effects are an unnecessary distraction the make up and…

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007 must dust himself down and return to duty when a face from M’s past beings to terrorise MI5.
Having had time to digest it for the third time – Skyfall, is overrated, there is said it, yet it’s an amazing Bond outing but it’s overrated. The problem with it is that it returns to the old Bond that I fell in love with, but in doing so treads on Casino Royale re-imagined and Quantum’s departure of the older instalments and the new foundation they laid out.
Another issue is that Bond was fresh learning and honing his skills, but writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan present an experienced, washed up spy, that seems four films too soon. Anyone certainly in the UK will be underwhelmed by the setting of the latter half but it’s easy to see why an overseas audience my get a kick from the atmospheric closure but it’s home from home and not very exotic for many of us.
These gripes aside Skyfall is a solid addition to the franchise, Javier Bardem as baddie Silva is outstanding. Naomie Harris (28 Days Later) is perfect as Eve, Judi Dench returns as M (Olivia Mansfield) in an expanded central role and the supporting cast include the likes of heavy weight actors Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney (in a role which may have been fitting for the sadly retired Sean Connery). Once again Daniel Craig is Mr. Bond, what he lacks in dialogue through no fault of his own he makes up for in screen presence, once again delivering the physicality and emotion that one would expect from todays James Bond.
Sam Mendes delivers some old school framing, while some stunts are underwhelming other are purely breathtaking. Mendes with Roger Deakins’ cinematography presents a traditional style film with many modern touches you’d expect from filmmakers of their calibre. What’s nice about Skyfall is that it captures London as London, dark and damp as oppose the makeover seen in The World is not Enough or Die Another Day. Mendes’ eye mixed with Thomas Newman’s exceptional score really cements this as one of the better more gritty Bonds.
However, oddly Skyfall takes you out of the moment at times with superfluous questions – how have these criminals got the same super-spy abilities as 007, did they go to a motorbike riding on a roof academy? Why is there a Hannibal Lecture style cell in the new MI5 HQ? Silva’s impeccable underground timing and it’s purpose? Underwater hideouts I bought, flying cars, hook armed and metal teeth henchmen, even Bond going into outer-space and all the outrageousness of the old Bonds but when something is this well made these little things are magnified and seem more distracting.
As previously mentioned and without giving much away there are plenty of surprises and nods to previous Bonds but in an emphasising encompassing fashion. There’s a nice touch in the ensemble script which refers to a line in Craig’s first outing and there is plenty of depth in the story and characters.
There are many highlights, notably Adele’s Oscar winning ‘wobbly’ yet powerful theme song belting out over the wonderfully done opening credits and above par acting. All in all its a great outing but shoehorns Daniel’s Bond character skipping what was so skilfully established in Craig’s previous outings.
Walking around my city centre I realised I’d got old, that wasn’t the worst thing though I was out of touch. Not out of touch with the trends or what was going on but out of touch with people, I didn’t recognise my home town. I’d noticed sooner, but sort of shrugged it off and refused to believe it.
It really hit me when I sat down to watch the latest Die Hard, A Good Day to Die Hard… Looking around the cinema at all the empty seats at a premier I realised that me and longtime carer (Mrs. Esmonde) were the only ones there. A premier night?! So I got to the city centre, fancying a drink to fathom it  thinking I may have to queue to get a drink – but then it hit’s me again – bang dead, like a ghost town. Where was everyone?
It not just piracy killing the high street, it’s digital generally. I’m as guilty as the next- I used to buy a magazine to check out what was hot online, now print is becoming as scarce as bookstores. The scope is narrowing and your limited to how you’ll discover the next thing because the net is starting to bottle neck.
 The fun had been lost, times change but there was always people about. But these days there’s not even the bodies. The irony – I was making my books and films available for download even setting the trends, but you know regardless of the over use term financial climate, it’s the media that has changed people, the digital age.
You don’t need a digital copy to come with your DVD or Blu -Ray with UltraViolet. Not even a physical copy of any sort. Online gaming, film streaming. That’s the thing, if you don’t have the physical what do you own, what have you got -nothing…
If the severs stop working or your broadband stops you’ve nothing and nothing to show for it. No album, no tape. No fancy sleeve art, not sausage, just a void… Yeah this nothing new to many of you, it not just films, socialising and may other aspects may become a thing of the past.
The fun, the anticipation, the excitement – all gone. Granted the old days weren’t any better but they seemed one hell of a lot more busier and fun.
Nazis attempt to create a new army by reanimating corpses, when their plan goes awry they go about using Toulon’s Puppet’s secret to assist them.
Picking up where Axis of Evil left off producer Charles Band’s cult creations return. Mr Puppet Master – Band himself directs this instalment and it shows, Axis Rising feels grander than the last, more film-like with better looking locations and production values, plus there’s some noteworthy digital and make up effects. The infamous puppets look more like their original designs especially everyone’s favourites Blade, Jester and Pinhead. The outrageous new puppets this time around are more welcome and its a kick to see some ‘classic’ puppets return.
What Stephanie Sanditz’s German accent lacks in consistency she makes up for in screen presence and looks as Uschi, with Sanditz clearly having fun with the dialogue. Oto Brezina as Doctor Freuhoffer is perfect as well as some of the older supporting cast. The leads have been recast with Kip Canyon now playing Danny and Jean Louise O’Sullivan as Beth – while not the calibre of their predecessors they’re certainly better than some of the hammy performances on display and solid enough given what has been spawned from essentially a 1989 cult film.
Good B movies are certainly not dead, while suffering from the usual budget restraints as many of its predecessors, to Band’s credit Axis Rising flows, looks good, is faster paced and is also slicker than part 9.
What has been consistent throughout the franchise is the great music and Part 10, yes X, is no exception, Robert Douglas and the originals scorer Richard Band delivers a fantastic richer main theme and an excellent amount of stings and cues even if the sound design mix is a little misplaced at times.
Shane Bitterling’s writing injects this Puppet Master with a theatrical and campier tone, nevertheless this coupled with Bands on hand touch makes Rising sexier, bloodier and more fun this time around. While lacking the creepy factor of the first and second it’s still an event to be had – puppets, Nazis, zombies, experiments, boobs and blood what more do you want?
Set in 1939 after the events of the first Puppet Master just as Toulon commits suicide, the owners nephew of the Bodega Bay Hotel, a cripple Danny ‘befriends’ Toulon’s living deadly Puppets. He takes them to Chinatown but soon gets caught up in a Nazi/Japanese WW2 bomb plot and it is up to Danny and the Puppets to stop this sabotage.
Firstly, despite the intention of a theatrical run of the first film, all have been direct to video releases, this is a pity because there is a real following for these movies and the puppet characters, possibly with a larger budget it may have had more success. Sadly, Axis of Evil again suffers from that DTV feel and sits above Retro and is on par with the third instalment.
There appears to be an effort made with the set production, acting and script (racist comments and historical inaccuracies aside). The introduction of yet another new puppet despite being story hook is unnecessary and considering it is unrated there is a distinct lack of blood. David DeCoteau’s direction at times is stilted and as stiff as the puppets (who look slightly different from the original designs) giving it a TV soap opera feel. Adding smoke, darkly painted walls and combining it with back lighting doesn’t guarantee atmosphere. Nevertheless, creator/producer Charles Band’s brother composer Richard Band crafts another great score, however, the mix is intrusive at times. Actors Fiehler, Erica Shaffer and Levi Fiehler are notable and it nice to see William Hickey (1927-1997) even if it is reused footage.
As a longtime fan of Puppet Master, it’s great to see Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneller, Leech Woman and gang but it’s execution at times leaves it void of tension and horror. Overall, it’s good fun but a missed opportunity that leaves the viewer short changed, which is a crying shame given the potential and cult following.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome- charting the early career of a young William Adama and his first mission which changes his life and beliefs…
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome appears far more engaging from the outset when compared to Carprica. The special effects for the most part are excellent especially given its internet debut and if feels close to the tone of the Battlestar Galactica re-imagining.
The casting of Luke Pasqualino as the rookie Adama works and is central character who carries the show however he does not carry the intensity look Nico Cortez as seen in the Razor flashbacks. That said, Pasqualino brings a realist vulnerability to the younger incarnation of Adama. It’s admittedly contrasting but begins to build bridges to the hardened aged Edward James Olmos portrayal. Coker Fasjovik played by Ben Cotton is easy to warm to as Adama’s reluctant older sidekick and the supporting cast are credible enough.
The episodes seen as a whole have plenty of surprises, some scenes are tense and notably a familiar voice returns, no doubt you’ve already guessed who. The snow setting is interesting and reminiscent of sci-fi Screamers (1995) but executed in far more superior fashion. Although this prequel feels more action orientated than Battlestar Galactica there’s still plenty of emotion and drama.
For fans of Battlestar Galactica it’s a good solid addition to the franchise.

When being dead no longer means the end…

As civilian and military conflict of interests reach their peak Quaid Stockwell, Frank Marshal, Jayne Reed and Karen Stockwell go head-to-head in fight for survival against an army of undead flesh eaters. Dead Pulse not just as a novel but is a downloadable e-book, sadly there’s no prelude film as with Blood Hunger but Dead Pulse has ‘the calm before the storm trailer’ which can be viewed below.

What different about Dead Pulse?
We are given an insight into the zombies pecking order, their thought process and how they actually function for the first time while paying homage to George A. Romero’s ‘rules’. Dead Pulse explores what it truly means to survive a zombie apocalypse through the harsh seasons on the land, air sea and air. Of course there’s all the zombie action you’d expect from the genre and more.

The world’s focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem. Across the city at a body disposal plant a small group take shifts on the ‘death watch’. Their hopes hinge on the soldiers of Farmore to rescue them. But with no contact for months, no food and surrounded by the dead, have they got what it takes to survive?
With death at their door, only time can tell…
Click on the link below to enjoy the opening of Dead Pulse.

DEAD PULSE OPENING 

Dead Pulse the horror adventure is out now from a variety of online books stores, including Amazon US and Amazon UK you can also order it from your local store.

Check out the Dead Pulse trailer:

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Breathing Dead

And so it begins…
Baron Wilton, Iliana and Lucia and array of other Blood Hunger characters have been let loose on the world, not just as a novel but as audiobook (on iTunes); a downloadable e-book and there’s also prelude film Terminus directed by Sean Parsons. There’s no lunch box just yet.

What’s different about Blood Hunger? 
Gathering dust amongst the thousand of vampires books lay a treasure. It’s a definitive vampire story that chronicles their ancient origins and follows the fall of the vampires in the 15th Century to their return and plight to gain control in the present day.
Blood Hunger brings vampires back to basics, striping out the pop culture and watered down characters that they have so often been portrayed as. Blood Hunger returns to the tales, folklore and traditional vampire ‘rules’ but injects new lease of life into the dead. They’re are enigmatic, raw and dangerous killers that made…

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A New York cop John Mclane and his son Jack finds themselves caught in a dangerous Russian conspiracy.

Thankfully director John Moore delivers an exceptionally fun ride, which goes from one breathtaking action set up to the next.

Although in wrong the place, at the wrong time element has been imitated countless times as one of the henchmen say, “It’s not 1986 anymore” and the franchise has had to move with the times. As a result the subtleties and focus on John’s character as in the first two Die Hards has been lost with Willis having a hand full of lines and comedy quips albeit why we fell in love with him and what brought Roderick Thorp character Joe Leland (renamed and reworked John Mclane) from novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” to life. The action packed sequels drifted away from Maclane with him prominently having Samuel Jackson and a hacker sidekick respectively arguably diluting the Die Hard ‘feel’.

 A Good Day to Die Hard writer Skip Woods doesn’t give Willis enough meaty dialogue, but its not just a case of the Hollywood star picking up his pay cheque, to Willis’ credit he gets plenty to do as he chews on a few great one liners with one or two genuine laugh out moments. Of course Woods gives the obligatory Die Hard twist but at least some effort had gone into adding another surprise.

 
Jack Reacher’s bad guy Jai Courtney is a good addition as Jack McClane and Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns in cameo as daughter Lucy. Only Holly is missing but this is about an absent father, which is only touched on but do you expect depth from a sequel to a surprise 80s action hit? Cole Hauser has a bit part and Sebastian Koch is exceptional with Yuliya Snigir making an acceptable focal character. Notable is Radivoje Bukvic as Alik who is as memorable as Alexander Godunov’s Karl in the original.

 

Marco Beltrami is on form, with a few familiar music cues and A Good Day’ has plenty of atmosphere thanks to Jonathan Sela’s cinematography of Moscow, this coupled with fantastic stunts and Moore’s slick fast paced direction it ensures a solid visual package. Notably there is an outstanding chase sequence which any action director would find hard to surpass.
 

It may not have the charm of the MTV generation original and clearly panders to high-octane, energy drink, disposable film goer – But that’s the beauty of this instalment and what the critics are overlooking A Good Day to Die hard infiltrates and becomes current, it’s probably no coincidence that old rockers Rolling Stones most recent track ‘Doom and Gloom’ closes the film showing Mclane maybe over the hill but he is just a relevant as ever. 

 
The Die Hard franchise, five action films that began with Die Hard way back in 1988. They are centered around the character of John McClane. The films have been imitated the world over, there’s also been several video games based on them as well as a comic book series.
 
Die Hard (1988)
 
Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.
 
 
It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).
 
 
The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.
 
 
Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.
 
 
 
 
Die Hard 2 (1990)
 
 
Bruce Willis is back as everyday man and cop John McClane in Die hard 2, Yipee-ki-yay! Renny Harlin follows John McTiernan’s original with the same action packed spirit.
 
 
Willis is again on witty top form and the story quite meaty for an action, wisely based on Walter Wager’s novel “58 Minutes” giving it a back bone. A team of terrorists is holding the entire airport hostage, as they plan to liberate a drug lord. Its an adventure with a a nice little twist. And it’s good fun watching McClane tries to outwit the terrorists.
 
 
There are some great action scenes and admittedly it has some comedy, but what makes Die hard 2 interesting is the snowy night setting, Wilis’ desperation, it’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s a lot of atmosphere, more characters and its not a rehash heist film of the first. In addition, there are some parts where the lead fails, making it a less predictable ride.
 
 
Willis is again on top form as the character that made him a film star. Both William Atherton, sleazy paparazzi and Bonnie Bedelia, as McClane’s wife return for a second stint. William Sadler who is in profound physical shape is the prefect bad guy. He really brings weight to the role. John Amos deserves a mention and the rest of the supporting cast are clearly dedicated, the acting is of a high standard. There’s also cameo from Twinkie eating Reginald VelJohnson (it’s a shame they couldn’t have fit him in the other sequels). Robert Patrick shows up very briefly prior to ‘T2’ fame.
 
 
Once again Michael Kamen provides an excellent and fitting score, Director Harlin delivers as solid well constructed squeal regardless of some dated effects and far-fetched moments.
 
 
All in all it’s a strong follow-up and has been often imitated like it’s predecessor.
 
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
 
 
I missed the Christmas feeling of the first two instalments in this summer set blockbuster and some of the characters of the first two films.However, on reviewing the first thing that hit me was the sad echoes of real life 9/11 and one wonders if the film would ever have been given the green light now.
 
That aside the film is very enjoyable as hungover John McClane and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, play witty duo, as they run around New York undertaking tasks set out by Simon played by heister Jeremy Irons.
 
Die hard fans will find the icing on the cake is the direct link to the first film and for everyone else there’s the banter between the leads and action scenes. The story is more complex than most action films and Irons bad guy has a little more depth than the usual villain.
 
John McTiernan proves once again he knows how to direct and pace a film while Bruce does McClane blindfolded.
 
 
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
 
 
Underworld director Len Wiseman directs the fourth instalment of the Die Hard film series. With a story line that over focuses on today’s technology reliant world we live in, 4 is still an entertaining ride.
 
 
Almost everything is there, witty one-liners, great action scenes, however, like the third it lacks the ‘connection’ to the first two films, even though it includes a picture of Holly Gennaro.
 
 
Marco Beltrami score is fine and despite Willis getting on in years he puts plenty of life into John McClane. Cliff Curtis is excellent as FBI Deputy Director, action starlet Maggie Q is magnificent and the supporting cast include Kevin Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Justin Long however, appears out of place and possibly miscast.
 
 
Redeemably Timothy Olyphant’s bad guy Thomas Gabriel is perfect. He’s calm and less animated than some stereotypes. I feel that without Olyphant’s performance and Willis efforts the film would have been less fun. There’s some ‘free running’ action and the effects are great, but the jet scene was an unnecessary piece of superciliousness. In addition, it feels preachy, McClane’s son is nowhere to be seen and the end feels very rushed.
 
 
Yeap, it’s a mixed review, certainly watch for Olyphant’s performance, Wiseman’s slick direction and Wilis in his best role. Don’t expect too much and no doubt you’ll enjoy.
 

When a synthetic enemy, the Cylons resurface and obliterate a planet a handful of survivors set out to find the mythical planet of Earth in the far reaches of space.

Slated in some circles as having too many deus ex machina (I hate that usage) moments, not enough sci-fi and/or too much supernatural facets, I can safely say much of the criticism is unfounded and Battlestar Galactica deserves its acclaimed credit.
What was born from a 70s Star Wars knockoff (and sued for it) TV-series, some bright spark decided to bring it back, with a re-imagining which retains some of the fundamental elements of the original.
Viewing the mini-series and its series’ throughout I personally like this incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, it’s grim, it’s dark, it’s gritty. While essentially science fiction it is more drama and character driven, littered with religious connotation. Thanks to series’ main writers Glen A. Larson and Ronald D. Moore when I feared the shenanigans would fall into a redundant political web plot or Christian fable on loop the writers successfully rein it in, restoring an equal balance of themes, creating a vast and immiscible universe as vast, dare I say it – as the other two infamous sci-fi franchises.
The heroes and villains aren’t the stereotypes we’re used to seeing, most characters are flawed and multi layered with plenty of grey to be discovered. They feel credible thanks to some good acting from familiar faces including Edward James Olmos, Lucy Lawless and Dean Stockwell. Notable is Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer and James Callis who do a great job. Both Helfer and Callis are exceptional in places.
While some of the set ups are familiar the plots are usually unpredictable and try hard to go against conventions and formulas of genre retaining a realistic familiarity. Sometimes using flashbacks, visions, dreams and parallel storytelling there’s never a dull moment. Admittedly there are lengthy story arc’s and bravely very few singular episodes but to Battlestar’s credit the story ends with the series in retrospect being one long movie ride which makes it stand shoulders above other formatted TV shows. There’s certainly enough surprises and twists to satisfy the most hardened thrill seeker if you stick with it.
Battlestar Galactica is not scared to take chances, even when limited in some parts due to TV confines, it does the best with its budget and tries to push the envelope with it themes which debatably allowed the doors to be opened for the likes of Games of Thrones, True Blood and The Walking Dead to name a few.
Overall, an interesting fulfilling ride to say the least.