Monday, 20 April 2015

Film: Road To Paloma

Jason Momoa (Conan The Barbarian) makes his directorial debut in this off-beat road movie.

Momoa is Wolf, a native American on the run from the law after exacting revenge on those responsible for the death of his Mother.

Unfortunately we don’t see these events and the film concentrates on the relationship between Wolf and fellow traveller Cash as they embark on their journey. The casting of Momoa’s wife, eighties sex symbol Lisa Bonet, only seems to confirm this as somewhat self-indulgent as her character adds little to proceedings.

Watching this film I have learned that there may be nice scenery on The Road To Paloma but you’ll spend the entire journey waiting for something to happen.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

TV DVD: Hostages

Dr. Yael Danon is about to perform routine surgery on the Prime Minister of Israel when her family are taken prisoner by a gang of masked men. The hostage takers have one demand; Yael must ensure that the Prime Minister does not survive the operation.

This Israeli series was recently shown on BBC tv here in the UK following a previously screened American version. Not having seen the US version I won’t make any comment or comparison.

In this version, as expected, the plan doesn't go smoothly.  Dr. Danon has a whole host of family issues to deal with during the most testing of circumstances and internal rivalry amongst the hostage takers threatens the whole mission.

This leads to various different scenarios which play out over the course of the 10 episodes. The bad guys are all slowly revealed as human, with their own problems, which adds depth to an otherwise simple storyline. 

The Israeli cast will be pretty much unknown to most viewers but there are some fine performances, none better than that of Ayelet Zurer in the leading role.

Hostages is another example of great foreign tv and easily rivals the recent successful Scandinavian dramas when it comes to cranking up the tension. However, the storyline may have been more suited to a 2 hour movie than a 10 part show as it does feel slightly drawn out.     

Available as a 3 disc DVD box set in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Good. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Film: Chappie

In the near future South Africa has robot police officers. The engineer behind them takes their development further when he manages to install full artificial intelligence into a damaged droid meant for destruction.

This has already been described as Robocop meets Short Circuit and I have to agree. We have the robot cops running around arresting and shooting the bad guys, complete with Peter Weller-esque voices and then we get Chappie, who enters the fray as a child in a robotic body.

Chappie is “born” surrounded by criminals determined to use him for their own ends but his maker Deon (Dev Patel) manages to give him a sense of right and wrong from the outset.

District 9 director Neil Blomkamp has again called upon the services of the star of that film Sharlto Copley, who does a fine Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong, Ceasar from the Apes movies) job as Chappie. Copley’s performance gives the robot a much needed human quality that the idea of artificial intelligence alone could not.

Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver also add their considerable presence as a rival engineer and head of the electronics corporation respectively. Jackman is excellent as the sneaky, sneering Vincent who has always been upset that his own design was not used for law enforcement.

Funny, exciting and sad, Chappie delivers everything you would expect but does stretch the imagination a little too far with its ideas about human consciousness towards the end.

Catch it in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.      

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Film: Enemy

Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) is Adam, a mildly depressed college lecturer who happens to spot that a little known actor looks just like him.

When Adam decides to get in touch with his lookalike it sets of a series of events that don't look likely to have a positive outcome for anyone involved.

Even though Gyllenhaal delivers a compelling performance this film moves at an incredibly slow pace and the interaction between his 2 characters is all a bit lacklustre until the last 15 minutes.

Unfortunately if you stick around that long you'll witness an incredibly silly ending.

Enemy is available on DVD and pay per view tv services now.

Ric's Rating: Poor.

Reviews News: Hostages

Following its recent screening on BBC 4 here in the UK this Israeli drama arrives on DVD on Monday 16th March 2015.

Described as far superior to the US version this has also been compared to the thrills provided by Homeland.

Noble PR have kindly provided a copy and as I haven't seen the Hollywood take on this I have no idea what to expect.

Check back soon for a full review.    

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Book: The Apostle by J.A Kerley

Strange religious murders and an ailing Preacher are the focus of the latest Carson Ryder novel which sees the welcome return of his old partner, Harry Nautilis.

Newly retired Nautilis is employed as a driver / bodyguard by an up-and-coming tv preacher who is soon summoned to stand in for the sickly veteran. This takes Harry to Miami where he soon teams up with his old buddy Ryder as they compare notes and attempt to solve the latest series of grisly murders. 

Jack Kerley took a chance when he decided to relocate his novel series from Alabama to Miami. Uprooting the main character and surrounding him with new faces was a test for even the most loyal fan.

For the most part it has worked as the Miami novels have been fresh but the absence of Nautilis has been noticeable and his re-introduction brings a much needed grounding to the Ryder series v.2. The promotion of Carson’s enigmatic brother Jeremy to a regular character is also welcome.

12 books in and these books remain as intriguing and entertaining as ever but I wouldn’t recommend The Apostle as either a starting point or a stand alone novel. Start right back to the beginning with The Hundredth Man or join the Miami series with The Death Box to get the most from The Apostle.

Visit for more information on the author and his books.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended  

Friday, 13 February 2015

Film: Jupiter Ascending

An ordinary girl discovers she is the reincarnation of the Queen Of The Galaxy..or something.

Jupiter Jones is whisked into the middle of a war between siblings of an inter-galactic race vying for control of the Earth in this sci-fi adventure from Matrix directors the Wachowskis.

The nifty special effects and entertaining chase / fight scenes aren’t enough to save this from the incomprehensible story and even Channing Tatum’s flying boots grate after they save the day a few times.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy. 

Film: Mea Culpa

When his young son witnesses a gangland killing a disgraced former cop enlists the help of his old partner to track down those responsible.

This French thriller features a powerhouse performance from Vincent Lindon as Simon, a man troubled by his past who is also struggling to come to terms with his current standing as an estranged Father.

When it all kicks off the action is ferocious and there are a few twists and turns along the way ensuring the story remains gripping throughout.

Mea Culpa is my first World Cinema movie of 2015 and it has served as a timely reminder that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to only Hollywood (or even English speaking) productions.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Book: Larry by Adam Millard

Back in the 70s Larry “Pigface” Travers was a prolific serial killer who went on several Friday The 13th type summer camp killing sprees.

Move on 40 or so years and Larry is in his sixties and living with his eighty year old Mum..but the urges have come back.

Larry decides (against his Mother’s advice) to don his Pig mask one more time and pay a visit to this years inhabitants of the camp. Are his creaking old bones up to it?

Adam Millard has produced a serial killer comedy that works pretty well. Larry is hilarious as he huffs and puffs his way around attempting to terrorise some teenagers with names like Freddy, Jason and Myers.

Laughs spliced into horrific murders make for a gory but highly entertaining quick read and in the great tradition of cheesy horror films a sequel will be with us soon. You can’t keep a decrepit killer down!

Ric’s Rating: Good.    

Film: Gone Girl

When a seemingly happily married woman (Rosamund Pike) vanishes without a trace suspicion quickly falls on her husband (Ben Affleck).

The couple’s happy fa├žade is soon exposed as a sham as we learn their troubles through a series of flashbacks. When we return to present day proceedings events take a surprising turn as nothing is what it appears to be.

Saying any more would risk spoilers but rest assured that this is a compelling tale that makes it easy to see why the book of the same name was a bestseller. Affleck and Oscar nominated Pike are excellent and there is decent support from Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers).

Seven director David Fincher delivers a series of twists and turns that should delight anyone who hasn't read the book although the finale did feel like a little over-stretching of the imagination.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.    

Film: Big Hero 6

Young Hiro’s dreams of joining Nerd School (his term for a top level scientific learning facility) literally go up in smoke when a fire destroys the building and leaves him mourning the loss of his brother.

However, his brother’s invention, a robotic health assistant named Baymax, lives on and soon becomes his best friend and ally as he searches for those responsible.

Baymax is excellent as the hapless hero and the duo quickly recruit additional members to their team.

This animated feature manages to explore the complicated issue of grief without becoming too bogged down and always remembers to be child friendly and fun.

Great comic sequences, fantastic action scenes and a touching story make this  a must see for kids of all ages.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.   

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Film: Starred Up

A troubled young man is transferred from juvenile detention to adult prison where he finds himself being shown the ropes by another inmate, who just happens to be his Father.

This UK prison drama was lauded by critics and even scooped a few awards but besides one or two decent performances this is pretty run of the mill stuff.

Attempts at rehabilitation consist of joining some sort of peer group where the members repeatedly vent their anger and then come out high-fiving each other as if to say prison life ain’t that bad.

More background on the main characters may have helped but what we are left with is a series of violent incidents leading to a pretty unsatisfactory conclusion.

Starred Up is available on all the usual formats now.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy.