Posts Tagged ‘study’

When any big horror franchise declares ‘the final chapter’ in it’s last films title, you can be sure the series will be back. This is sadly evident with this, the 8th film in the Saw franchise. Who’d have thought that 13 years after the first movie we’d have a massive franchise with a deep lore spanning across 8 movies.

The basic plot follows on from the original films while also trying to work a bit like a reboot to grab new fans. With murders seemingly being committed by Jigsaw and a series of sinister traps, cops try to solve the mystery before more people are killed.

It’s a plot similar to the old films in that it features traps and mystery but that is almost where the similarities end. Here the traps are even more over the top and silly, some of which are downright unbelievable. In the older films, no matter how extreme the traps got they were all feasible and kind of believable (apart from the opening trap from part 7 which from a logistics point of view just didn’t work). The ones featured in Jigsaw are just downright stupid and also rely far more on coincidence and luck rather then choice and sacrifice. In 1-7 the traps are beatable and were all meant to teach the victim something about themselves. In Jigsaw all of them rely on someone being in the right place at the right time and looking at the right thing at the exact right moment. It takes away a major sense of fear and tension while also dropping some of the fundamental plot points from the original films.

One of the big problems is that it isn’t filmed like a Saw picture. Over the course of the franchise the Saw films developed their own look and their own feel which was largely helped by the director Darren Lynn Bousman who was responsible for parts 2, 3 and 4. Here though the Spierig brothers seem to throw all of that out of the window to make a glossy modern day horror that just loses all of the atmosphere the look gave to the series. It almost feels like they’ve never watched a Saw movie and have simply made the film on the back of knowing parts of the overall story.

The film also isnt helped by the fact its not that well written (from what I gather not because of the writers, more the fact the directors changed so much). Many people bash the Saw franchise for just being violence for the sake of violence and for being nothing more then ‘torture porn’. This does the whole series a massive disservice as each film is tightly plotted and works as a stand alone film as well as playing a major part in the 1-7 overarching story. Taken as a whole I can happily say 1-7 as a whole story is fantastic and has a near perfect beginning, middle and end. Number 8 fails in this department by trying desperately to link itself into the 1-7 story and failing pretty badly. It’s almost like they couldn’t think of a new idea so they just pasted over some of the plot points from the franchise and tried to slot themselves into the story. The Spierig brothers rely so much on a massive plot point towards the end of the film that just doesn’t work. It’s meant to tie everything together but it fails in every way. It’s poorly constructed and so ridiculously flawed it’s almost laughable.

Ultimately the film is entirely unneeded. The seventh film ended the franchise on a near perfect note and almost brought the series full circle. This just feels like a cash grab and a poor man’s wannabe Saw flick. That said, there are much worse films out there and it is still very watchable. If it wasn’t part of such a well known franchise it would be an ok horror thriller. As it stands it’s a watchable but very average imitation of a series many have grown to love.

It’s a real shame that it just doesn’t work as there are moments when it almost works. I hope they don’t make anymore because as much as I love 1-7 I don’t want to see them drive this franchise into the gutter.

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I had no preconceptions about this film as I had never heard of it before seeing the cover. From the cover it looked like a drama/comedy focusing on war reporters. What it actually was, I’m not really sure.

The first hour plays out as a very average by the numbers vague comedy following a reporter as she is thrown into reporting the war in Afghanistan. Its neither good nor bad. The humour doesnt really work and it kind of offsets the bits of drama that have been put in. It just doesn’t gel. There’s the tiny bit of romance seemingly put in for the sake of covering more genres, which only helps muddle the film more.

The final 30 minutes were the only time where the film clicked and even then it never evoked any reaction other then the feeling of mediocrity. During the final half hour the film does try to hit on some interesting points about war and journalism, but these are lost through some bad writing and unfocused direction.

The acting on the whole was pretty good with Martin Freeman stealing every scene he was in. The big problem is the overall feel of adequacy that eminates from the entire production. It almost feels like they were happy to make something merely passible to get it released.

Visually the film is ok. It handles the small combat scenes well and provides a nice contrast between city and desert. The same can be said for the audio, it’s serviceable. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s kind of sad as the elements for a good film are here but are never combined in such a way as to create a fully realised product. I’m sure a lot of work went into the production but the sheer mediocrity of proceedings means I can’t and won’t recommend the film. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s merely meh.

blair

I’ll begin by saying that the first Blair Witch Project film is easily one of my favourite horror films of all time even if many cast it off as a basic found footage film of people running around the woods. It was pivotal at the time and say what you will, but it did change horror cinema and pretty much spawned the found footage horror genre.  One of the big things that made it work so much is that there was very little script and the directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez let the actors improvise in a very loose filming style. It was fascinating to watch and stunningly made when you consider the size of the crew and budget.

The first film also has the benefit of being very ‘new’ and with social media very much on the rise, managed to latch on and create this feeling that the film was actually a real documentary. For me it worked and was nigh on perfect for what it tried to do.

In 2000 a sequel was made that was interesting as it had some interesting uses of the original films ‘footage’ but ultimately it was pretty terrible and the less said the better.

This leads us to the 2016 sequel to the original film. it completely ignores the events of ‘The Blair Witch project 2: Book of Shadows’ and tells a tale following the brother of one of the original characters who is still trying to find out what really happened to her.

17 years have passed since the making of the first film and technology has advanced greatly with tiny attachable cameras and flying drones. Wingrad has decided that he will utilise all of these and that is one of the biggest faults of the film. It never feels like a found footage film, it all looks to pristine and the shots are all so obviously framed and staged it is almost embarrassing.  Gone is any of the realism of the original, now we have what looks like a glossy low budget horror film and that is a real shame.

The script is beyond terrible and never feels natural. It would have been nice to actually delve into the history of the tale of the Blair witch a little more as from what I’ve seen through the other media based on the film (such as games, books, comics and even Book of Shadows)there is a deep lore to everything which is only hinted on in the original film. here we just have a series of loose jump scares linked with some really ropey dialogue.

the film had none of the dread that one would expect, there is no tension and it relies on getting any form of scare across by using either average jump scares like people literally bursting out of bushes, or using rally loud transitions into new scenes.  Neither work on any form of level other then being annoying.

Wingrad in my view had a lot of luck when he made the film ‘You’re Next’ which I find is actually an enjoyable horror film. Everything else he has made is pretty terrible and he really hasn’t proven that he is a particularly competent filmmaker. It’s sad as you can see in him that there is the hint of something special but with Blair Witch he just destroys all credibility he may have had.

I’d say it isn’t worth any amount of your time and to be fair you’d be better off watching ‘The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows’ as at least that film had a few interesting ideas albeit badly executed. This is a poor imitation of the fantastic original and really is so incredibly disappointing. 2/10

 

girl-who-leapt-through-time-bandai-us

Comic adaptations from films are always a mixed bag as the different forms of storytelling don’t always work with a certain story. ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ is interesting in the fact that the film it is based on, is in itself based on a 1967 novel of the same name meaning that this is essentially the third iteration of the story. It’s also interesting as it’s one of those instances when a successful Japanese animated film is turned into a manga/comic to allow a wider audience to experience the story (as well as making more money).  The book follows the same basic story, but as usually happens, strips quite a few of the side elements to try an create a more streamlined piece.
The film is one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful pieces of fiction that I have had the pleasure of watching many times, leading me to wonder how or if the book would do it justice. I wondered how the raw and powerful emotion would translate to a static medium without the aid of music or audible vocal emotion. Now I’m not saying that books can’t have the same level of power as film, because they can and in some ways can achieve it on a far more intense level. This is usually down to the fact that we have been introduced to the story/ characters through description and clever use of written language. When it comes to comics though, I find emotion translates far worse due to the fact that the description is generally no longer written as we have fallen into the ‘show, don’t tell’ mentality of the more visual medium. It doesn’t mean that a comic can’t achieve the same draw of the heart, it just means that the writers and artists need to work closely and try much harder to try and evoke the same kind of level of power as they have none of the liberties of sound and moving image.
They say that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and this is a statement that is generally true of stand-alone imagery, but when you have a book made up of hundreds of images it generally becomes much harder to find the statement true. Most of the images, if stripped back, work as a kind of filler, easing the reader into new environments or allowing the reader to see character movement. There is the odd occasion where an image stands out above the rest and lingers in the mind long after you finish the story. This is how you know that they’ve achieved the power.
Throughout ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ there are around 6 images that truly stand out with such emotional intensity that they hit the heart hard. Even though I knew what to expect of the story and I knew what was going to happen, I still found myself pulled left and right on an unexpected emotional rollercoaster ride. It’s amazing that fiction can manipulate ones emotions in such a real way as to bring about true feelings and here they’ve achieved it. I found myself audibly gasping at numerous points during the story and can even say that I felt a tear welling in the corner of my eye.
For those who have never heard of ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’, It concerns Makoto Konno, a junior in high school who’s life suddenly takes a turn for the peculiar when she comes across a device that allows her to ‘time leap’. This sets about a series of events that will change her past, present and future forever. At its heart it is a coming of age story about acceptance and love but it is told in a truly interesting way.
Time travel is a plot device that is often used in science fiction as an easier way of telling a basic story in a slightly more interesting way. It’s hard to find a story that truly justifies the use of time travel as story telling device, but here is one of those exceptions. Here the time travelling element is more a visual means of explaining how Konno’s mind is working and where she is in her mental state, rather than showing the effects on the much wider world. It does look at some of the external effects of her new found powers, but these are still shown within her tight unit of friends. With all that’s said and done, ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ is a beautiful coming of age story that is told in a powerful yet very careful way.
I don’t want to explain much more about the story itself as I don’t want to spoil it for any potential readers, but I can say that it is a story with very little in the way of action but lots of emotional drama that’s far deeper then it first seems.  It’s a nice change from the usual comics that I tend to read and has more akin to fiction like the book ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami then anything superhero related.
The characters in the story may be few, but each has a deep personality that makes them truly individual from one another. There are only four main characters in the story including Makoto Konno. Each of them work at pushing Konno on her path through the story and help her realise what she wants in life. Her friends Kousuke Tsuda and Chiaki Mamiya both show the contrasts of personality with one being more about studying while the other is more about fun. They work as a visual split in Konno’s mind. We also have Konno’s Auntie who acts as the voice of reason and I Konno’s main guide through the story.  The writer has dialled back some of the other side characters in the story which I was a little sad about as they further pushed emotional buttons in the film, but I guess it does mean that the story is far more streamlined with more focus on an end point. What we do have works brilliantly though and if I hadn’t seen the film I wouldn’t have thought I’d have questioned any of these gripes.
The art throughout is truly fantastic and helps the story flow forwards at a natural pace without ever rushing it. Some of the individual panel images contain so much in the way of emotion, that it’s truly quite a remarkable feat. It’s amazing how an image of a completely fictitious character’s eyes can evoke so much and at the same time feel so real. The character design is just as brilliant, even if they are taken straight out of the film. Everyone is individual making the story easy to follow and means that the artwork never gets confusing. In the art department side of things there is very little, if nothing at all to fault.
‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ is a remarkable story on almost every level, from base enjoyment all the way through to being an emotional rollercoaster.  It really is a truly beautiful masterpiece of storytelling. A good story will take you on a journey, one that will make you forget about the real world until you’ve finished reading. This is one of those stories. How can something so entirely fictitious contain the ability to manipulate real emotions? It’s a question that can be applied to so many stories and can be applied to almost any visual or written medium, but it’s one that can never truly be answered. Why one person feels something while another doesn’t will always be one of those special subjective things that makes each one of us individual and ultimately is one of the things that can be linked to what makes us human.
So how does the adaptation hold up to the film and is it a worthwhile read?
I’d say that the manga holds up remarkably well and works well by itself or as a companion piece to the film. It’s a story that really should be experienced in any of its various mediums. Whichever you choose you’re in for a treat. As an emotional rollercoaster I’d say that the film version may work slightly better due to the added emotional pull that sound can have, but to deny the book of any emotion would be to do it a massive injustice. I have not felt like this after reading a comic in a long time and would argue never to the level.
I’d highly recommend the book and/or film to everyone who doesn’t just look for action in their storytelling and actually wants some truly raw feelings coming out of the words the characters say and the movement of the story. It’s a true masterpiece in any medium and a story that deserves to be experienced by everyone.

wh
WOW!
Rarely do I read a book completely blind of what it is about, but this had me intrigued by the title and the stark, striking cover. From the title I guess I expected something along the lines of ‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ but what I got was unexpected.
What I got was a phenomenally deep and complex study of the intricacies of the human condition presented in an amazingly easy to read and follow story.  The writing flows so unbelievably smoothly that it’s easy to forget sometimes that the author ‘Luke Melia’ is exploring some truly deep emotions and some really powerful themes.
I won’t spoil the story for anyone as watching it unravel in front of your eyes is one of the many pleasures of the book. What I will say about the story though is that it is incredibly dark and at times pretty twisted.  It is definitely not a book for younger readers as it does feature violence, nudity, swearing and themes that could prove disturbing to some. But these points don’t hinder the story; they serve to help reveal the darkness that is inside the human mind. The things that a lot of people like to try and ignore and forget are there. Without such darkness the impact of the story may never have felt as fulfilling and as great as it did. Never did I feel that anything was particularly out of place or un-justified.
As a piece of fiction I find it pretty hard to fault. It moves at a brisk pace and keeps you reading until the very end. I read it all in one sitting and by the end I felt like I had been on an amazing journey.  Each of the characters are fully fledged out and all have reason for being there. Each has their own issues they are fighting and each helps drive the story forwards through some highly unexpected ground.  Every one of the inmates of the asylum feels different and each works to look at a different part of reason or emotion.
The art is equally as brilliant as each issue/chapter is by a different artist thus helping with the almost dreamlike state that the book creates. I will say that some of the art is stronger than others in my view but at the same time I loved all of it and thought that each reflected the situation that the chapters presented in a perfect way.  Each artist has their own interpretation of the characters while keeping the core of their looks recognisable. This really adds a punch to the book as we get to watch the characters evolve in front of our eyes.
So It’s pretty easy to see that I really enjoyed the book and I’m happy to say that I would easily read it again.
The book stayed with me long after reading and made me think about a lot of things about the human mind and conditions that some individuals go through. It had a power that I rarely experience when reading books, let alone graphic novels. I am still shocked at how amazing the book was and how I had never heard of it before.
All credit to the creative team for doing such an amazing job and a special credit to ‘Luke Melia’ who I believe could easily become the next best thing in comic writing.

urot

First things first. This is definitely not a title for children or anyone who’s squeamish. It features graphic violence and many very adult situations and themes.  As such some of the items I may touch on may talk about said

So…..

This is a little different in the fact that many have probably heard of this title (or the subsequent anime film) but have probably never read it. Some wouldn’t have read it on the basis that they can’t find a copy; others may be put off by the fairly adult nature of the subject matter. But it’s a lot deeper than you would expect.

The story isn’t explained much in the first volume but it does begin to build up to the events that happen in future volumes. The first volume works very much as an introduction piece to the main characters Tatsuo Nagumo, Akemi Itō and the demon Amano Jyaku. The former two are the more innocent parties of the story and are for all intents and purposes the heroes of this story. Amano on the other hand sits very much in the grey area of the spectrum. He does do good deeds but at the same time he commits an atrocious act right at the beginning of the story. But this is what I quite like about the craftsmanship of the story. Pretty much everyone has a dark side that really is quite deep. No one is perfect in it. The whole world created is quite grim and seedy. It’s unnerving and starts to get under your skin. It shows the underbelly that many try to ignore.  ‘Toshio Maeda’ is very open about what he wants to express throughout his writing and a fair chunk of it is to shock and make people take notice.

The art is magnificent while also being horrifying and disturbing the majority of the time. Everything has this grim layer to it that really helps emphasise the grittiness of the subject matter. The detail in the characters and the world is incredible (even the more questionable things still are amazingly well rendered.)  I will say though that at times there is so much going on in each panel that it can get confusing. Sometimes I found myself having to go back a few panels to realise what was going on. It’s not the end of the world but it does take you out of the story. It’s also worth noting that ‘Toshio Maeda’ also did the artwork for this book, which means that everything we see and read is his vision. There is no one else interoperating his ideas. It is just straight out of his fascinating mind and onto the paper.

Now…. Onto the copious amounts of sex and violence that fill the pages. Is it too graphic? Yes and no. The sex portrayed is never what one would call ‘erotic’. It is grim and most of the time, quite vile. It makes you feel on edge and that what you are seeing is some twisted voyeuristic fantasy of some outside party spying in on the characters. This works perfectly though as it helps create the atmosphere and the overall look of the piece. The violence is much the same in the fact that it is bloody and graphic, but at the same time is realistic and has almost ‘crime-scene photography’ feel to it. Maeda is clever in how much he shows and what he shows. It’s worth noting that the sex isn’t censored in the slightest and at times is highly graphic.

This brings us to the art or filth argument that has echoed through films and printed material for many years. Is there a true justification for all the sex? Yes! Unlike a lot of adult material, this actually has a deep story that the sex and violence is simply used as an aid to express.  Yes, it is also intended to shock, but is also intended to make people think and question what they are seeing. It also questions the reader into looking inside themselves and seeing the darkness that dwells within.  There is a reason why this and the film became so massive in Japan that they spawned sequels and spin-offs and it’s not simply because of the ‘adult images’ on view. It’s one of the few titles that sits on the delicate line between ‘Hentai’ or dark ‘manga’. For me it isn’t important what you judge it as. A story is simply what it is and should be enjoyed/read for what it is not under the label someone slips it beneath.

It is at no point a happy read and for this reason for me it instantly stands out from almost all ‘Western’ publications. It’s pretty much jet black in terms of the emotions it expresses. Its more lust over love; more death over life. It’s a fascinating journey through realms very rarely explored and one of the most realistically dark portrayals of the world I’ve seen in comic form (even if there are demons and such like within)

So would I recommend it?

It’s a toughie. For one it’s getting harder and harder to actually find a copy as it’s something that I doubt will be allowed in print again due to the graphic nature of it. It also focuses on subjects that many would like to ignore or pass off as ‘taboo’. It’s not ‘nice’ in the slightest and will not leave the reader with that happy sense of accomplishment they may get from reading some superhero story. It’s dark and dingy and makes you feel dirty afterwards. While reading you get sucked deeper into this dark pit and every time you try to escape you just get drawn further into the darkness.  It’s an amazing experience for people who know what they are getting into and for people who like to experience something almost entirely unlike anything else.

For me this is a true masterpiece of storytelling and is just so ‘different’. Toshio Maeda established his name with this series (as well as la blue girl) and is known for his twisted mind and the twisted imagery it pumps out. He is one of the greatest comic creators I have ever had the fortune of both reading his work and meeting him in person.

So I would recommend this, but only to those who can handle it and look past the sex and violence to see the deep story and intelligently written characters beneath.  It’s a deeply challenging and at times deeply repulsive journey, but one that is truly worth going on.

 

daredevil_end_of_days_cover_2013

Daredevil is one of those heroes that pretty much passed me by as I was growing up. He didn’t have the immediate draw of heroes like Spiderman and Wolverine – not much seemed to happen, and the stories didn’t feature as much in the way of sheer spectacle as the other comics around. I didn’t exactly avoid reading his comics, I just didn’t go out of my way to read them – I guess the appeal of a blind superhero whose main power is to see was just kinda lost on me.
Then, in 2003, the Daredevil movie was released, and I started to think he might not be quite as boring as I first thought. After watching and enjoying the film, I decided to pick up the book Daredevil: Guardian Devil, by Kevin Smith. The story felt familiar, but much darker than the likes of Spiderman and X-Men. I absolutely loved it.
The years passed, and I decided it was time to revisit the character and see what was happening. By that point Brian Michael Bendis had already started his classic Daredevil run, and it was fantastic. Everything worked, from the characters, to the art, to the story. The series that brought Marvel comics into the real world, and still one of the most realistic of their franchises, for me it was almost faultless, and called to mind the darker human conflicts that echo throughout comics like Batman.  It also helped that some of the art was by David Mack, one of the finest artists in comics, whose work is so beautifully haunting it lingers in the mind.
I was sad to see the end of Bendis’ run, even though Daredevil was being left in the capable hands of Ed Brubaker and later, Mark Waid. Although still consistently good, nothing ever quite matched the perfection that Bendis brought to the title, and I hoped he would come back. These hopes were answered in 2012.
Daredevil: End of Days is an eight part mini-series written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack. With art by Daredevil veteran Klaus Jansen, and ink by Bill Sienkiewicz, it’s the perfect combination of everything that’s made Daredevil great over the years.
So, let’s get the major spoiler-filled elephant out of the room right now. On page four of issue one, Daredevil is killed. Yep that’s right. Set in the near future, this book focuses on reporter Ben Ulrich’s (one of Daredevil’s true friends) investigation and report on who Daredevil was and why he was killed. It sets up the story fantastically well, and is incredibly brutal. In Ulrich, Bendis and Mack have created the perfect guide to lead us on a fascinating journey into the dark, gritty world these characters inhabit, and into the soul of ‘the man without fear’
Throughout the story we see cameos from countless other Marvel heroes, who all seem far more grounded then in their own books. The characterisation throughout is stunning, and ranks up there with the best of the best in fiction. This is especially evident in the fact that we find out far more about the depths of Daredevil’s character and mind then we’ve ever previously seen, despite the fact that he isn’t really in this book much in person. In a way, you could even compare the series to the phenomenal cinematic masterpiece that is Orsen Welles’ Citizen Kane, with both featuring a mystery set up by the dying protagonist, which leads the other characters on their journey through the world.
Such an amazing story deserves great art to back it up, and here you can’t fault it.  Each panel could be a painting in a gallery. It feels so fresh in its haunting beauty, yet so familiar. That said, the art may be an acquired taste, being much grittier in palette and a lot more scratchy in pen style than the everyday bright, bold Marvel art comic fans may be used to.
As you can probably tell, Daredevil: End of Days is my favourite Marvel comic, and I expect it will be for some time. It has a gripping story, great characters and faultless art, and it’s a 100% must-read for any fan of Daredevil. I’d even go as far to say it’s a must-read for anyone who likes a thinking-man’s story that isn’t all about action and massive set-pieces. For me, it’s the perfect end to the best interpretation of Daredevil there has ever been.

misty-comic-01

First printed in 1978, Misty was yet another creation from the comic great Pat Mills (who also co-created such pivotal comics such as ‘Action’ and ‘2000ad’), which tried to introduce something new and different to the world of ‘girls’ comics.
At the time the world of girls comics consisted of the rather formulaic adolescent tales of publications like ‘Tammy’, ‘Mandy’ and ‘Bunty’. All told pretty much the same stories that had been told for years previous. Most of which were about romance and adolescence (which apparently were the only things that girls wanted to read).  Then along came Mills with the idea of introducing an anthology comic which would treat girls more like adults and which would give them something different, something  edgier to read. That something was horror. Up until this point horror comics like those pumped out by E.C comics during the 1950’s, were aimed primarily at the male end of the reading spectrum. They provided those who read them with thrills and horrors that were both frightening and witty while generally trying to make some kind of moral point. Mills took this idea and just translated it to a more female audience, introducing more stories with females in the lead and providing situations that girls may relate more to.
Misty was born February 4th 1978 and would mark the first and arguably only time that horror comics were released, aimed directly at a female audience.  Each issue was to provide an anthology of horror from a wide variety of writers and artists with each story being standalone from the last.
Like an awful lot of British publications of the time, artwork was mainly commissioned out to artists in Europe, many of whom would never be truly be credited with their work. It’s kind of sad in a way that the art was just taken for granted. It wasn’t like today where most stories name the artists next to the writer. It was very rare to see an artist’s name in anything other than maybe a signature at the bottom of a front cover. As with lots of anthologies, the art does vary from story to story, issue to issue. This has always been evident in all forms of art and here is no exception. What really stood out for me was some of the covers which really did help create the atmosphere of what you could expect inside the pages of each issue.  This is especially true of the annuals which would generally feature beautiful paintings depicting the character of ‘Misty’. (there have been many rumours over the years of who this character was visually based on but to this day no one knows for certain.)
The stories themselves are a mixture of reasonably straight horror and comedic horror, and again highly varying in quality. Although some of the stories may not be great, a fair few were truly great such as ‘the sentinels’ which one could argue delves more into science fiction then horror.   On the whole though each issue felt fresh and different from all the other publications at the time.
Now, for a comic as different as this, it had a pretty good run with over 100 issues and numerous annuals being released before its inevitable cancellation in 1984.  It’s a great shame as although being quite niche, it provided that brightness in the wall of blandness when it comes to girls comics.
I must stress that I didn’t read them when they came out as I wasn’t even born. I am also a Male which may also tell you these stories aren’t limited to that of who it was aimed at.
The company that owns the rights to Misty, ‘Eggmont’ just don’t know what they are holding onto. For a time they also held the rights to 2000ad, which fortunately was sold and is as strong as ever. Misty on the other hand wasn’t as lucky. Many fans and even its creator Pat Mills has tried to get some of the stories re-released or a compilation released but to no avail.
It looks as though Misty is destined to remain one of the great comics that have faded for sight. It marked a great change in girl’s comics and for that it should be commended. It’s just a shame that we may never see this little gem released again as long as ‘Eggmont’ holds the rights.
So this Halloween, take a moment to think about Misty and if you’re lucky enough to still own any of the comics; turn out the light, burn up a candle and savour some of the horror that made Misty great.

bruce-lee_game-of-death

Made in 1972 Game of Death would be Bruce Lee’s final hurrah into the world of cinema but being only partly finished at the time of his death it would also prove to be one of the weirdest mashes of film that ranks up there with some of the best WTF moments in motion picture history.
It all started out well enough, as one would expect we had a pretty cool idea of a tower of death in which competitors would face some of the greatest martial artists in a fight to the death to the top. On paper it sounded like it could be a great showcase of the legendary skills of Bruce Lee.  Scenes were being shot and all was on schedule. With about 100 minutes of footage in the can it looked like another hit could be in their hands. What could go wrong?
Unfortunately the very worst was set to happen.  Part way through filming Lee went to work on a film of a  much grander scale ‘Enter the Dragon’ which was shooting at the same time. This would be the last complete feature he would film before his untimely death.  His death unfortunately did not deter the finishing of ‘Game of Death’. The creators decided to have a stand in (the also great Yuen Biao) for the scenes which Lee hadn’t filmed (which was a fair amount). The story dramatically changed until all that was left of Lee’s performance was a mere 11 minutes of the final section of one of the only remaining parts of the original story, the fight up the tower. These 11 minutes are as great as you’d expect but should the film have been finished in this fashion?
The film has numerous sections drawn from previous Lee film ‘Way of the Dragon’ to try and help push that this is a ‘Bruce Lee’ film and not just a cash in attempt to make the best of the worst situation possible.  These scenes stand out so incredibly badly that they only highlight the fact that what we are watching on screen is a mish mash of other films and dodgy camera tricks. From reverse shots to crudely implemented shots in different locations, we are greeted with a patchwork vision from a production which doesn’t have a clue of how to save itself.  The cut and paste nature is so evident that it detracts from some not bad martial arts that are going on in front of camera by the admittedly good Yuen Biao who is a great fighter in his own right, but unfortunately a shadow of the master he is meant to be portraying.
Part way through the film the main character supposedly gets killed, but it all turns out to be a rouse, he is merely disfigured facially and is unrecognisable as his previous self. This is quite a clever but utterly ridiculous way of hiding the fact that we are still not actually watching Bruce Lee. They even make the comment that he will no longer look like himself thus allowing Yuen Biao to not find it necessary to wear sunglasses in every other shot.  It still doesn’t help the cut and paste feel of the film which is highlighted by a conversation in a restaurant where the actors aren’t even in the same location.
It all is reminiscent of the works of a director named Godfrey Ho (who goes under many other names as well) who was doing lots of work during the 70’s and 80’s. He would film half a movie and then splice it with footage from an unreleased martial arts film that had been gathering dust. It really proved a great money making tactic and allowed him to continue working. His films were so hilariously inept that they create their own amusement. Whereas here they are desperately trying to make something more serious and it doesn’t do anything other then being cringeworthy for the most part.
What isn’t as amusing is the use of footage from Bruce Lees actual funeral (at least it is apparently from his funeral) I personally feel this is bad taste even if the filmmakers may have been doing it as a tribute to the legend.  I understand the want to include a memorial piece but doing it this way especially when they are trying to fool the audience into believing that it is still Bruce Lee that we are seeing on film is just wrong.
As this is a martial arts film in its heart, there is very little in the way of fighting. What we do get other then a terrible fight in a warehouse featuring motorbikes, isn’t that bad. Its mainly the sort of stuff you will have seen before, but its well choreographed and at least breaks up the otherwise dull and tiresome picture. When at the 1 hour 20 minute mark we actually get to see the real Bruce Lee in action, it is like a breath of fresh air. For the next 13 minutes we are treated to some of the best martial arts from his short career. It is stunning how well this climatic battle in the tower plays out. Its just a shame that until recently the other 40 mins of this battle up the tower remained unseen (the extra footage is on the dvd and blu rays unfortunately not integrated back into the film) this unseen footage entirely out-ways what was actually turned into the film. I would happily watch those 40 minutes over the actual film any day.
When all is said and done is it a good final film for the great Bruce Lee? No. Is it a good film? No. Is it worth watching? No (apart from the actual Bruce Lee fight sequence)
So you may ask what the point is in putting down all this information about a film that I personally don’t like. Well I feel that it is from a behind the scenes perspective a fascinating picture. I hadn’t seen this kind of cut and paste and doubling done to this scale before this film. Its becoming more the norm nowadays For example the famous use of CGI to complete the scenes in Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ featuring Oliver Reed. Even more recent films such as ‘Fast and the Furious 7’ which features the amazing Paul Walker in his final on screen performance. His scenes were finished using doubles, cgi and footage from the library of Paul Walker movies. This was done again as a kind of memorial and a kind of goodbye to such a great actor, but even now it isn’t seemless. On the whole though it got away with it far better then ‘Game of Death’.
Game of Death for me was kind of a turning point in cinema and experimenting with technologies and techniques that may have been used prior but never quite to the extent (there is a high probability that you may know other times these cut and paste techniques were used before but this is the first time I remember noticing it. Especially considering there is only around 13 minutes of Bruce Lee in a Bruce Lee film that is pushed as starring the man himself throughout.)
This is a film that I am glad to have seen and I would recommend it to those that may find this sort of thing interesting. I would say that anything other then that it really doesn’t hold up well and is actually a pretty sad end to a magnificent, if sadly cut short career of the master of martial arts.

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With over 10 games in their arsenal since their first appearance in 2002 it was only a matter of time before the dynamic duo of Ratchet and Clank made it to the big screen (well across  a limited number of cinema screens) 2016 would be the year of this event and also the year that a revamped reboot / remake of the original game would hit Playstation 4’s across the world. With such a back catalogue of adventures and a wide fan base across the years, it’s a risky move reinventing two iconic gaming characters for a cinematic audience especially as the creators would be hoping to keep fans of the games happy while also not alienating people new to the franchise.  How does this film hold up? Does it succeed where many video game adaptions fail? (*shudder* street fighter: the legend of Chun li)
What they have created is basically an origins story which treads on some of the frame work of the games (albeit not quite as deeply due to the run time and lack of interaction). This allows those new to everything a brilliant way in while also kind of keeping fans of the games happy. [I’ll just say that I have played some of the games but have never been a diehard fan. I like the characters and the stories but I could never find myself fully absorbed]
For those new to the franchise, the film follows the adventures of Ratchet, a foolhardy Lombax (feline like alien) and his companion Clank, a small self aware robot who was created in an accident. The two travel across the galaxy trying to stop the universe destroying plans of the evil Chairman Drek and his robot armies.
There is nothing amazing original to the proceedings and the story is as you’d expect a film like this to be even down to the pacing. This isn’t a bad thing and it makes everything accessible to all audiences while not being to heavy or draining on the mind. Its a fun adventure and one that never outstays it’s welcome. The first half is in my opinion stronger then the second but that is only my opinion.
The visuals are surprisingly good for a film like this. I expected a cheap looking cash in but was greeted with some bright beautiful animation which could easily be up there with some of the best we’ve seen from the later game sin the franchise. It all feels crisp and clean while not being garish and distracting. The action sequences are truly stunning and at times it’s hard to not be truly engrossed. The great visuals are complimented by some truly amazing audio. The voice work is brilliant from the cast of the games (with both Ratchet and Clank being voiced by the original artists) and also features some big names such as Paul Giamatti, Sylvester Stallone and even John Goodman. Everyone performs brilliantly and cannot be faulted in their commitment to the characters on screen. The musical score is a beautiful collection of melodies that just fit the visuals perfectly; From industrial factories through to open hillsides, everywhere has it’s own feel and it’s own sound.
There are a lot of in references to the games as you’d probably expect (and even some clever references to other Playstation game franchise’s). We have a lot of the weapons arsenal that made the games stand out in the third person shooter market that, at the time was becoming quite large and samey. We also have most of the main charters from the games aiding our intrepid duo on their mission. This helps as each person has their own feel that helps distinguish them from the crowd and helps elevate the film higher.
That isn’t to say that everything is perfect. I found at times the lip syncing was a bit off which is often an issue with animation. It never detracted much but occasionally it would draw me out of the film. It also feels like there is something missing form the film, that little spark that just says the film is awesome. I can’t put my finger on it but there is definitely something.
So when all is said and done is it a good film? Yes. I really enjoyed it and would be happy to watch it again. I hope that sequels are made as the big screen does bring these characters to life in ways the games never did for me. Its a great family film even if it isn’t the most original out there. I’m happy to recommend this film to everyone even with it’s few flaws.