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LOOPER – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by stanleyriiks

When I saw the poster for this I got excited. With the two figures holding guns in different directions, and a review quote stating the film was this decade’s The Matrix, nothing was going to stop me watching it.

Unfortunately the film is nothing like The Matrix. The 1999 Wachowski brothers’ classic is a SF action thriller. In no sense of the words is Looper an action thriller. It’s more a drama with SF at the heart of the story, but virtually ignored in visual terms.

Set in the near-future, the story follows Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a looper. Loopers are assassins working for some form of mob in the future, sent back in time (30 years) to await their victims, who are also sent back through time where they do not yet exist. The murders are therefore untraceable. Every now and then a looper’s older self is sent back to be killed by his younger self 30 years before with a nice big payoff, and 30 years of freedom until they are sent back in time to be killed by their younger self. You still with me? One thing the film does do well is explain this.

So, Joe’s older self is sent back in the form of Bruce Willis, and instead of killing him, older Joe escapes and tries to survive, and to change the future by killing the person he believes will grow into the murderer of his wife and himself. Meanwhile the mob are trying to track down both Joes to kill both of them to close the loop.

The film is set in a futuristic Kansas City, which is seen only briefly. Half of the film is set on a farm in the middle of nowhere, where younger Joe holes up, awaiting older Joe, and falling in love with the lovely Emily Blunt.

The story travels a fairly predictable path, apart from the premise there is nothing new here. Visually this is more of a farm story, it only gets a bit exciting when an old looking Willis goes on the rampage, which is fun.

Despite a mostly decent story, and some good actors, the film ultimately falls flat because at two hours it’s too long, too boring, too dull. The brief moments of action and excitement are too few. The future Kansas City is barely glimpsed instead of explored, too much time is spent with no action, and when you get to the end of the film you’re just a bit glad it’s all over.

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DEAD STREETS By Tim Waggoner – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2011 by stanleyriiks

You might have thought that our hero and narrator, Matt Richter, Private Investigator, having his head cut off would be the end of the story. But this is Nekropolis, and Matt’s a zombie, so having his head cut off is just the start of his problems. He then finds out that his body has been stolen.

This is, literally, the beginning of a series of events that drive us towards the obvious conclusion, deftly swerved by Waggoner.

To give you any more of the details would be a disservice, and it’s the richness of the exploration of the mystery, as well as the brilliance of Nekropolis, that keeps you coming back for more.

This second book in the Nekropolis series focuses more on plot, whereas the first book with a mystery wrapped inside a guide book to everybody’s favourite strange city of the dead, the strange, the alien.

For anyone who has never read Nekropolis, the first book in the series, the mystery of a stolen artefact offers our zombie detective Richter the opportunity to explore the magically twisted city of Nekropolis, and gives us a back history of this underworld and our hero/narrator. Not the greatest novel ever written, it’s the city of Nekropolis that makes the book. It’s difficult to describe, but a dark adult version of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas might be the closest you could get. It’s inhabited by wizards, vampires, ghosts, werefolk, zombies and all manner of dark and mysterious creatures.

The second book moves on with the relationships and the world first explored in Nekropolis and moves it all forward. The plotting is better here, but there is still a distinct lack of tension, probably because Matt is already dead and that struggle for life is over. The mystery isn’t so much of a mystery, until the end, but it’s the getting there rather than the result which is the important part.

This is a fun book, it’s enjoyable for the very idea of the city, further explored here to great effect. But with a decent plot and some added tension, this would have been an amazing novel. There’s still the third book to hope for, but I’m not even sure Waggoner of capable of blowing us away.

FOREVER ODD By Dean Koontz – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I read the first Odd book about a year ago, and thought it was marvellous. A twisted thriller with nice horror overtones, bringing something new and exciting into my life. Odd is the reluctant dead-seeing hero, out to stop a massive armed attack on the small town of Pico Mundo where he lives. The poignant and heart-rending ending stole my heart, and made me weep. It was a great book, anything that makes me feel something I can’t help but love.

That’s why this novel is such a disappointment. Expectations too high perhaps? Well, possibly, but writers shouldn’t set a standard with their first book in a series and then immediately let you down.

Here Odd finds his night’s sleep interrupted by a dead doctor, and on going to investigate, finds his friend has been kidnapped by a crazy woman. A crazy woman, who, it turns out, wants to lure Odd to his death.

Fairly simple, and yet it’s dragged out for over four hundred pages. This feels like a novel with a minimum word count, stretched almost to breaking point. It’s a testament to Koontz’s writing skills that he still makes it readable and mildly entertaining. But mildly is perhaps being too generous.

The book is long-winded and almost boring. It starts off far too melancholy, the character of Odd and his strange friends and relationships are put on the back-burner while the meagre plot is explored.

Only loyal fans should read this second instalment in the Odd Thomas series. I will be returning for the third novel, but it better be a damn sight better than this or I will be most upset!