Monday 31 December 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman – reviewed by Jacob Edwards

Oscar, Oscar on the wall, what’s the fairest sex of all? Snow White and the Huntsman, directed by Rupert Sanders.

It is not uncommon for the discerning movie-goer to bypass certain films on the big screen and instead proceed directly (if belatedly) to watching them on video (as those of us who remember wrist watches persist in calling it). Maybe the movie clocked up a mediocre score on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps it merely appeared dubious through dint of an overzealous poster campaign, the proliferation of which hinted at some nail-biting desperation from marketers behind the scenes. But in either case, a small screen outing often can be more forgiving, and in rare and sometimes joyous instances can turn up an overlooked nugget (gold, not fluff-covered chicken) of movie-making par excellence.

Monday 24 December 2012

Looper – reviewed by Jacob Edwards

Looper (dir. Rian Johnson). It’s not lupus. It’s never lupus.

In the world of 2044, economic collapse has given rise to social degradation and the predominance of organised crime, wherein the mob from thirty years further into the future abducts people and dumps them back in time to be executed. The men who carry out these hits are called “loopers”, so named because their job entails early retirement and a payout sufficient to keep them living the highlife for thirty years, whereupon each man will be strapped to his own bonus and sent back thirty years to be shot by himself – his final kill. So far, so good for Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but by the year 2074 a ruthless new mafia boss has emerged and is closing all the loops. Joe already has his future planned, but his older self (Bruce Willis), having lived that life, then decides that he’s not quite ready to die…

Monday 17 December 2012

Dredd 3D – reviewed by Howard Watts

Dredd 3D certainly deserves its 18 rating. Now, I’m not a great fan of 3D – I find it false from a film POV, an augmented reality akin to Google’s project glass: – a Sinclair C5 for the noggin, with apologies to William Gibson. Wearing those huge 3D glasses makes me feel like a participant at a Buggles convention, thankful for the darkness of the cinema. It’s not reality, and for me not how film should be presented. Dredd bears this out with abundance, many scenes not tailored specifically for the 3D effect suffering (as have other 3D films in recent years) from foreground distractions and blurry black artefacts.

Dredd is brutal, unrelenting, graphically violent on screen, implying it off. It’s full on – but lacks colour, favouring the grey tones of despair. The soundscape thunders around you, a marching drum of determination, punctuating its claustrophobic setting. Sight and hearing are bombarded – perhaps to the point of admitting, “too much!” Hardly a Buggles convention.

Friday 14 December 2012

Dreadstar Omnibus, Vol. 1, by Jim Starlin – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Dreadstar Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Jim Starlin (Dynamite Entertainment, ebook, 377pp) begins poorly, with a long recap of events that took place in the Marvel graphic novel Dreadstar (not included), as well as hinting at a bigger story that preceded it (explained more fully in chapter eight). Vanth Dreadstar is, as far as he knows, the sole survivor of the Milky Way, and arriving in the Empirical galaxy he did his best to ignore the two hundred year-old war between the Monarchy and the Instrumentality, found a wife, became a farmer, and lived a quiet life among peaceful cat-people until the Monarchy decided to wipe them out. His wife dead, Dreadstar decides there’s work be done, gathers a band of rebels, and that’s where we come in, ready to read twelve chapters originally published as the first twelve issues of Marvel’s ongoing Dreadstar.

Monday 10 December 2012

The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – reviewed by Jacob Edwards

You say potato, I say Sir Francis Drake wandering off-course with a sack full of sprouting ideas. The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Doubleday, 2012).

When plans for Willis Linsay’s “stepping” device are posted online, humanity suddenly discovers the capacity to travel “east” or “west”, one world at a time (without iron but with quite some nausea) across a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths, all of them untouched by humankind. For Joshua Valienté, a “natural” stepper who can traverse the Long Earth at will, this offers the chance to seek out the Silence that has called to him ever since his somewhat unusual birth, while for the rest of the populace it brings turmoil, upheaval and the bittersweet prospect of an endless frontier. Accompanying the ever-evolving super computer Lobsang, Joshua embarks on a voyage to uncover the cosmic significance of the many worlds opened up by Willis Linsay . . . and to find out what strange force is driving other humanoid life back towards the “Datum” Earth.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Interzone #243 (ft. Theaker) – out on Kindle

The latest issue of Interzone is now out on Kindle. It features fiction by Jon Wallace, Jason Sanford, Priya Sharma, Chen Qiufan and Caroline M. Yachim, colour illustrations by Richard Wagner, Warwick Fraser-Coombe, and Martin Hanford, an interview with Adam Roberts, and much more.

But of course the very, very best reason to buy it is that it also features a review by me, of The Wurms of Blearmouth, Steven Erikson's latest Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novella.


Interzone #243 on Kindle UK
Interzone #243 on Kindle US
Print subscriptions to Interzone (and other TTA magazines)
The Wurms of Blearmouth on PS Publishing's website

Monday 3 December 2012

The Super Barbarians, by John Brunner – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

The first paragraph of The Super Barbarians by John Brunner (SF Gateway, ebook, 2655ll) sets the scene; it’s fifty years since our first interstellar war was lost, twenty-five since the Great Grip was loosened, ten since humans were accorded rights on Qallavarra, home planet of our conquerors. The Vorrish have an elaborate social structure and a convoluted language to match, but despite their military superiority they seem lacking in certain areas: their cars are imported from Earth, there are members of their nobility who cannot read or write, and superstition runs rampant. All are things that Gareth Shaw, a lowly human in the Household of Pwill, begins to realise he can turn to his advantage—and that of all humans.