Thursday, 28 May 2015

Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Finale Review

Agents of SHEILD review, an awful lot of reviews

After the finale that we were left with for season 1, I wasn’t really sure if they would be able to write/produce something that left me wanting more (this was also amplified by the lack of purpose for most of the season...) But I’m happy to say that they were able to achieve this. I did wonder how they were going to use the “powered people” so that they became a more regular feature and also what would go down with Skye’s Mum (who I still think of as Summer from Neighbours! Even after Dollhouse that’s all I can think of!)

The “2 hour” long special started with the destruction of the safe place for the powered people to live. The betrayal from the previous episode slowly worsened over time and at first I thought that it was solely Jiaying who was to blame but it seemed that the unfolding and planning of the treachery was happening off screen. It's interesting to see how a marginalised and frightened group can quickly jump to the idea of violence and war if they feel it's the only way to be safe. I'm sure that is has some sort of profound social commentary but I'm not exactly sure how to put it into words.

There were a lot of twists and turns and it definitely was able to keep my attention held for the entire hour and 20 minutes, which is not something that has happened for a long time. I’m guessing the fact I watched it on a plane may have had more to help with that than solely the episode itself. By the way, as a random aside I’m trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible as I know how much I hate it when I see a spoiler by accident! But if I accidentally slip then I am so very sorry!

I think I was more intrigued by the story line involving Bobbie’s kidnap as I was intrigued as to why Grant and Agent 33 (yes I have forgotten her actual name) wanted to take her hostage and what it was that she had done to Agent 33 to warrant this sort of treatment. SPOILER HERE the scenes of torture that they use to get her to confess to her crimes shows true resilience and it made me really appreciation how strong the female characters are in this programme. I think the first season let down the female characters a little, but I also think it let all the characters down a little.

I’m really glad that I stuck with this show as it was one of those that had potential but sometimes it takes a while to work out all the kinks and get it running smoothly and with true entertainment. Even though, I do admit that I was a bit confused with where they were going to take the programme with the plot of the stone and the aliens. It seemed a little far-fetched and this was a spin off show to the Avengers and all the other Marvel films…. If a plot seems a little far-fetched in a genre like this then you know that you need some serious explanation as to what is happening and why. 

Personally, the last 10/15 minutes were the most exciting for me as so much happened! I did not expect any of it and the last scene has left me in shock and I can’t wait for the next season to start now. I honestly don’t know how I am going to cope with waiting for it now that there is around a 4 month gap. I had forgotten what it was like to have to wait for a series to return as I have spent a lot of time watching a few seasons in a row!

Also after having read up some of the information online since the airing of this episode it turns out that one of the characters actually did die in the last few minutes.... I still don't really know how to process this information. But it has made my anticipation for the next series increase as I am hoping that the writers and producers have fed us a false line and it's changed somehow.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Jurassic Park Review

Okay, okay so I know this is some old news, like 22 years old, but this film/story is a classic and after having recently watched it I was marveling at just how good  it was so, naturally, I thought of doing a review. But this time I thought I would do a review comparison of the book and film! I know branching into slightly different territory here and I'm not sure if I can handle it!

This is a strange situation for me because this is one of the few times that I have seen the film first and then read the book but I think that´s a little understandable as the film was released in 1993 and I was born in 1991. I don´t think little toddler Lauren would have been able to grasp the main ideas behind the book, or understand most of the words. As I said, the film was released in 1993 and was the dawn of a new era in the world of special effects. It was the first film to use CGI and animatronics together this was to make it look as real as possible, but also the animatronics helped to get the feel for how their CGI counterparts should move. I think this blend is what helped to make the film into the classic that it is today. Even in 2015 the film looks good. It doesn´t seemed to have aged in the world of special effects and it doesn´t look cheesy and have that green screen feel to it. Which unfortunately, is how many films made in the last few years have ended up feeling to me.

I first saw the film when I was around the age of 5, it was one of the boxing day films and I remember my mum recording the film on a video tape. Because of this I was able to rewatch it, but I used to be wary of the film. I loved the way that it was written and I found it fascinating to think about what would happen if someone implemented this in real life. But I was always a little scared of the consequences. The first time that you watch this film you find yourself becoming enthralled by it and captivated by the twists and turns of the plots. Like what happened to the shaving can full of embryos?!

The mix of characters and personalities in the film also gave way to a good dynamic and helped to create the tension that is felt. With Ian Malcolm constantly being gloomy and pessimistic how could you not expect something terrible to go wrong? His use of chaos theory, though sidelined a little in the film, is a crucial aspect of the telling of the book. Throughout the book we are presented with a page showing a more and more advanced picture of chaos theory. To be honest, I didn´t really understand it (and I still don't) but it is interesting to see how it spreads out. This is used in conjunction with the story-line to show how the situation on the island is progressing and how it is slowly going from bad to worse.

Both have similar story-lines (as to be expected) but there is some major changes in the film! For starters, the lawyer is actually a decent person! I know right, who would have thought that the lawyer would be good?! And John Hammond is actually a greedy old man who doesn't care about anyone but himself. But I suppose a nice, old, loving granddad makes for a more sympathetic character. Also, in the book they manage to get all the power back on in the park and begin to fix all the problems but as with the film they can't seem to get the phone lines back on.

In fact, the story-lines differ so much then when I read the book I said "Wow, this should be made into a film!" A strange situation but it shows just how much the two vary in terms of what happens throughout the problems. They briefly mention in the film that the dinosaurs have been breading because of the frog DNA which made some of the females change into males, but in the book they have a list which breaks down which species have been affected and how many more of each of them are. And surprise, surprise it's the Velociraptors which have the biggest change. I mean, there had to be a reason why they were so important in the film.

!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!! In the book, the velociraptors have been making it off of the island and are spotted on a boat by Tim whilst he's using the night vision goggles (which are a lot more important in the book than the film!) This is why Alan Grant is so desperate to get the phones back online, so that they can warn the boat before it makes it back to the main land. Also, Tim keeps the night vision goggles and uses them to trap the velociraptor in the freezer, he was so much smarter in the book. !!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!!

I think in some respects I prefer the book, but that is for it's steady and detailed progression through the problems that happen over the weekend. You aren't really left with any unanswered questions as to what happened or how things could have been done differently as most things are explored. I think that this is one of my main problems with the film. How did the velociraptors end up in the welcoming centre at the end? I know they can open doors but one of them turned up from some random area of the building, and how did the Tyrannosaur get into the building unobserved and unnoticed? Small questions that will always bug me when I watch the film.

Despite the obvious differences I think that both film and book are equally enjoyable and I can see the good points in both, a rare occurrence for me as normally I dislike the way the film has portrayed the book. I think it really helped that I liked the film before I knew there was a book so I didn't have to feel on edge watching it or feel like there was something going to have been changed. I just wish that I could do this with many more modern book to film adaptations. Also, I know that it can be difficult to get everything from a book into a film, due to time and money, and I am not negating from the quality of the filming. It's definitely more of a pet peeve of mine than anything else.

If you have seen the film I really do recommend the book and its sequel The Lost World by the author Michael Crichton.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Agent Carter:TV Review

agent carter, marvel, anawfullotofreviews, an awful lot of review, review,

As I mentioned in my February Favourites post on my main blog, I would be doing a review of Agent Carter and I thought there was no better time than the present.

For those of you who don't know (and seriously how could you not know?!) Agent Carter is the Marvel spin-off from the Captain America films. Before the programme was aired this year there had been a lot of excited chatter about what to expect but most importantly, the chatter was fixed on the fact that the main protagonist would be Agent Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Everyone was excited to finally have a Marvel related programme headlined by a female character; and if any of you are frequenters of tumblr you will know that many people are hoping this will pave the way for the Black Widow film.

I have to admit that I wasn't really sure what to expect from this show as I hadn't (and still haven't) gotten round to watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was hoping that it wold live up to my expectation and that the character writing wouldn't fall flat on its face because sometimes the hype does get too much! But I have to say I was surprised with how well the writing had been done. Peggy Carter was written as a strong character with the ability to work things out for herself but it also showed that she needed help with some things and it showed the depth of her emotions whenever the topic was related to Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. The vulnerabilities and strengths shown in this 8 episode mini series told me that the writers and producers wanted to make this character as much like a real person as possible, and it was refreshing to see this sort of portrayal.

This series revolved around the disappearance of Howard Stark's dangerous inventions and the American government's belief that Stark had sold these to the American enemies therefore being labeled an enemy himself. The SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), of which Carter is a part, is tasked with finding these inventions and also finding Stark. This is where the story really gets going. Stark visits Carter in the night and asks her to help clear his name by finding the inventions and finding out who has stolen them and why they are setting it up to look like he is to blame. This is where Edwin Jarvis comes into play. Jarvis, played by James D'arcy, helps Carter out by showing her through Stark's properties and letting her see where the theft had taken place. He also follows her on the majority of her covert operations to keep her safe but also to be of any assistance that he can. The relationship between the two characters is portrayed in a wonderful way and you can see them both becoming attached to each other without the hint of a romantic liaison, something which I must confess pleased me to no end!

Carter's main reason for becoming this double agent stems from the lack of respect that she receives at the hands of her fellow SSR workers. They all see her as just a woman, who is no good for any of the field world that may arise in the job, despite her having worked with the American army during the second world war. She sees this as a chance to prove her worth to those who only see her as a coffee and lunch fetcher.

I, personally, thought that the story line through this series was perfectly done, giving you the right amount of action, deception, love, friendship and anguish. I was excited to watch every new episode that came out, and I found myself waiting with bated breath as I tried to figure out what was really happening but I can honestly say that I did not expect the ending that did happen. A few tears were shed and now I am hoping that news of a second series being commissioned for next year will be talked about soon as there is still so much that has been left unsaid.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Battle Royale Book Review

I was given this book as a Christmas present this year by my little sister but I have wanted to read it since my friend Millie told me about it in my first year at university (which was such a long time ago!) For those of you who don't Battle Royale is a Japanese novel written by Koushun Takami and it talks about the fictional Republic of Greater East Asia, although I tended to read it as just a mainly Japanese Republic that had taken over all of the surrounding countries.

A way to control the people in the Republic was to routinely take 50 classes of 42 students from a secondary (high) school and place them in a remote location where they would have to fight to the death. No one is exempt from this practice and even people who have been favoured by the government have had their children sent to this remote locations, and it is more than likely that most of them hadn't survived. Also, although these events aren't televised the general public is told of the death toll and they have the winner of each game televised for all of the Republic to see.

This book in particular starts with students from Shiroiwa Junior High school going on a study trip, whether this was the real reason they were travelling or not is never really explained but it is assumed that it wasn't. These 42 unlucky students awake in a school on an Island they don't know. They are told that they have been accepted into the programme and then told that their teacher hadn't agreed with the idea which is when they are shown his dead body in a bag. Although the true horror of the novel had yet to come I found this scene somewhat disturbing as it showed just how far this government was willing to go to be able to carry on with their barbaric procedures.

Before the students are even given their full brief and allowed out of the school building two of the students are killed and one is seriously injured in her leg. This comes a few chapters after showing their dead teacher and adds to the growing sense of doom that the other students feel. It also reiterates the point than none of the government officials care about the children as it is to show that these people want to reinforce the fear that these exercises bring.

Although I knew what to expect from this book I have to say that I was willing my favourite characters to live and I didn't want them all to die! Some of the deaths could have easily been avoided if the characters hadn't let the paranoia of the situation overrule them, but then who wouldn't have some small feeling of paranoia in this situation? Your friends have to kill you otherwise the government will kill you all! Someone is going to want to be the last man standing! This is why the ending made me happier than it probably should have done. It showed that some people still can retain their feeling of trust even though their entire body would probably be telling them to run away from the place they are in. And that's as much of a spoiler as I'm giving as you honestly need to read it for yourself!

Whilst reading this book I did notice that there were some similarities to the Hunger Games and I can understand why a lot of people have claimed that Suzanne Collins used this book as a basis for her own series, despite her claims to the contrary. The topics covered are both quite similar and if you compare them you can see why people believe this to be the case. Both deal with an authoritarian government that uses the random selection of teenagers fighting to the death as a way to control the population. Nobody is saved from retribution. And fear and lies are used to make sure everyone is fully subjugated. However, I feel like Battle Royale went were Suzanne Collins wouldn't have been able to. Koushun Takami pushed his story to the darkest places he could, making it as violent and disturbing as possible whereas Suzanne Collins had her target audience as young adults or potentially younger so wouldn't have been able to get away with the extent that is taken in Takami's book.

I honestly think that everyone should read this book and try not to go into it expecting something like the Hunger Games as you will be in for a shock! I think that this book definitely lived up to my expectations and I was glad that I received this as a present and also that I was recommended it all those years ago!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Watersmeet Book Review

I was recently given the chance to read Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill and I jumped at the chance but not for the reasons you'd think! Watersmeet is the first book in The Twelve Baronies series and focuses on a girl named Ailith (Yes, you read correctly a girl! How many female leads are there in fantasy books? Now you can see why I wanted to read it right?!) Ailith thinks she is like everyone else until a stranger talks to her in her grandmother's garden and she is led into a world of danger and magic in a quest to find the local priest's missing son but not everything is as it should be.

I really enjoyed this book and, after looking back on my goodreads account (yeah I'm useless at remembering things), it only took me 4 days to read it. Now that's not because  it was short but I couldn't put the book down! No jokes, I stayed up till 4am on a Saturday night to finish it.

I was captivated by both the characters and the writing of them. Especially the way that the characters had their flaws hidden from the reader at the start of the book. This was the case mainly for Garrick. At the start of the book I found him to be intriguing and I wondered how his character would play out and if there would be a relationship between him and Ailith but as the story progressed his selfish and self-important persona emerged and my earlier liking of him quickly vanished. I suppose in a sense that was how Ailith's perception of him changed as well.

I found Ailith to be a refreshingly strong minded and independent character and also well rounded. Although she is incredibly powerful it isn't only her power wit magic that is her asset, she is also intelligent and is able to use the two combined to unlock the secrets of a more powerful type of magic than anyone has been able to use for centuries. Now some people may find this to be far fetched but I think it worked because it showed that the strength of the magic doesn't mean anything without the intelligence to work out how to use it. Surely that is more realistic than some things? Also, I got the impression that the magic, in this world, came from your own inner strength and the more powerful you are shows how strong you are as a person. It also helps that we find out Ailith's grandmother was also a strong and powerful wielder of the magic.

I don't want to give too much of the story away as I think it is one of those books that is better off without being spoiled and you really should be allowed to read it freely without having already heard too much! (And I fear that I may have already told too much!)

The book is available on e-readers and I think that some paperback versions of it have just been printed but I suggest going to amazon or wherever you normally buy your e-books from to check it out, especially if you are a lover of fantasy and want to read more strong female leads!

Rating 4.5/5 stars

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Mr Locke's Diary Book Review

Mr Locke's Diary is the debut novella from author Joseph Clarke. It was published in March of 2014 by Nocturnal Press Publications. As a good friend of the author I was asked to read and review this novel,

The books focuses on the life of a young, Victorian maid, Miss Jane Keyes, in the service of Mr Locke who ends up dressing as a man when her master disappears. She tries to find him but during the time she is dragged into a life of debauchery and vice. Enjoying her new role too much she ends up being caught and locked in an asylum.

The book is split into two parts and I honestly think that the first part was a lot better than the second. But this could be because the first part deals with a straightforward narrative and the second left me more than a little confused. The first part deals with the young woman's foray into the man's world as she tries to find her missing employer and it shows her attitudes to the way that women aren't afford the same standing in the world and how women are not allowed to go to university. This seems to have been done with the intention of criticising the society at the time and perhaps with a value to shock contemporary readers.

During this section of the novela we are shown a new and exciting world through the eyes of the Jane and how she finds excitement in something totally unknown to women at the time. The search for Mr Locke is filled with danger as she has to pretend to multiple people that she is herself an investigator looking into the disappearances of many girls. Towards the end of part 1 she is found out and taken to an asylum where many of the wealthy men have been forcing girls to go so that they have been able to have their way with them and no one would believe the poor girls story.

The second part starts off somewhat confusingly. In the middle of this part Jane takes a pill and then she is transported to some sort of purgatory like state where she has to punish those who have wronged her in life. I really didn't understand it as it didn't really seem to have much sense to it especially as Jane wakes up to find that Mr Locke had never really disappeared and had in fact created the disappearance as a ruse to get her in the asylum she he could pay for her to get out of it and he could do what he liked with it.

Although I liked some aspects of the story I feel that it could have done with a few more chapters as the shift in Jane's personality comes on a little too fast and the weird purgatory scene could have had some form of explanation in it somewhere. However, I do think that perhaps I was looking at the story in the sense of something that would be more for entertainment than for criticism. But with only a few people having read the book I'm not sure what other interpretations there are.

If anyone has read this book and wants to let me know what they think then don't hesitate to leave a comment or find me at my social media!

Rating: 3/5 stars

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Muppets Christmas Carol Review

muppets a christmas carol film review anawfullotofreviewsFor me it isn't Christmas unless I watch The Muppets Christmas Carol. This is, in my opinion, one of the best adaptations of Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol. With the use of Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat as narrators of the story it brings to life the characters and the settings. It also helps younger viewers to understand the plot better.

I feel that Michael Cain's portrayal of Ebeneezer Scrooge is wonderfully done and is able to show all the different facets of the character without it feeling out of place or ridiculous. I think the realisation of what people think about him during the Ghost of Christmas Present's segment perfectly shows this as you can see the character softening ever so slightly. Especially when he asks after the health of Tiny Tim and whether or not the child will live.

As I said before, the use of Gonzo and Rizzo help to make this story more accessible as they add a quality of humour to the story that isn't often found. (Although this has been made by the muppets team so it was always going to add some humour to the story.) I think that the use of songs and musical numbers also helps to make the story engaging as there is always something just around the corner to make you want to jump and jive along.

This is one of my all time favourite stories and I will always watch an adaptation of it but this particular one will always be my absolute favourite.

Rating: 5/5 stars