Friday, 29 April 2011

Short Film Review - The A-Team

Anyone of a certain age will have grown up watching programmes like the Six Million Dollar Man, Knight Rider and of course, the A-Team. They are cherished childhood memories. The problem is whenever Hollywood decides to revisit one of your icons and update it a feeling of dread grows within you. It did for me when I heard there was a new A-Team coming.

He backstory is updated, with the team’s framing taking place in the Iraq War rather than Vietnam. They are imprisoned separately in various security prisons, and in the case of Murdock a high security mental health unit. That is until they are broken out of prison to undertake a covert operation to…

To tell you the truth the plot is about the least important part of this movie. If you’re like me, remembering your 80s childhood self the things that are important are the characters, the silly, over-the-top, gung-ho actions and the implausible gadget-building. And they are all here.

Liam Neeson is excellent as Hannibal Smith, hamming it up to perfection and capturing that same glint in the eye George Peppard. Bradley Cooper captures Face’s vanity perfectly and Sharlto Copley is as mad as a bucket of frogs as Murdock. Even Quinton Jackson manages to almost make you forget the incredible Mr T (not quite though, that really would be asking too much).

Leave your brain at the door, you won’t need it, settle down and prepare to be entertained.

Book Review - A. Lee Martinez's Monster

Monster Dionysus (great name) hunts demons and other mythical or paranormal creatures for living. He works freelance for the Cryptobiological Containment and Rescue Services. He has a succubus girlfriend prone to mad jealous rages, a trans-dimensional being in the form of a cut-out paper gnome. He works his magic using runes written on post-it notes and today he is blue. At least blue means he’s invulnerable – useful when fighting yetis.

Judy Hines is a normal, and works in an all-night convenience store, the Food Plus Mart, where Yetis have decided to raid the ice cream. Unlike her co-workers, she doesn’t cower in a corner hoping they go away. She calls Animal Control Services – a call that gets re-routed when she utters the word “yeti”, resulting in Monster entering her life.

Monster arrives, and with help from Judy (and his fortuitous invincibility) the yetis are soon captured or killed. And so, despite the loss of her place of employment Judy’s life should return to normal, the memories of the big-bad mythical killing machines fading from her mind. Problem is when she gets home she finds her closet is infested with trolls. Cue another encounter with a, now purple, Monster. And things are only going to get stranger.

This is a fantastic romp of a novel. It’s ideal for any fans of Christopher Moore – it shares the same madcap sense of humour and the absurd – as well as Pratchett or Simon Green’s Nightside series. Martinez has a zany way of looking at the world and great way of expressing his weirdness.

He also has a way of telling a truly bizarre story without it breaking too far from reality as to be unreadable. Monster may be a magic-user. He may fight demons for a living. He may have a demon girlfriend and he may change colour every time he sleeps, with the accompanying and often unknown to Monster associated powers and limitations (including Purple meaning he cannot smell anything).

But at his core, Monster’s just a bloke. His attitudes and behaviour resemble your average plumber. And the reactions of the normal folk he encounters in his day job, from petrified stupor through to outright denial, are very believably real. It’s no mean feat to have such a grounded, realistic feeling in a book as out there as this.

Plot wise too Martinez excels. He builds tension as the novel at a good pace progresses to its inevitably bizarre conclusion. He develops the antagonistic relationship between the two leads without muddying the waters with unnecessary details of side characters or overly elaborate descriptions of locations or monsters (the creatures, not Monster himself).

After all anyone who lives in the modern world knows what a convenience store or an apartment looks like. And any sf or fantasy fan will just understand what you mean when you say Troll – we don’t need to have three pages of text detailing their fur colour and fang length. Close on perfect this one.

Some more film reviews (Murky Depths)

Have a new bunch of film reviews under consideration for Murky Depths. Films in questions are
- Saw: The Final Chapter (yeah I know a little late)
- Alien vs Ninja
- Prowl

Will try to get some more film watching in this weekend so I can keep up the pace...

..recovery is going well I think

A sale, a rejection and some submissions

New Myths have accepted a review from me - for Stefan Petucha's Blood Prophesy. And turned down the review for A. Lee Martinez's Monster. 50% is an acceptance rate I'll take. And I'll post the Martinez review on here soon.

Oh and I've sent in another 3 articles to them - fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Murky Depths again

Just found out another six short film reviews of mine will be appearing on the Murky Depths website soon.

These will be for -
The Bleeding
Burke & Hare
Devil's Playground
Let Me In
Little Big Soldier

You don't have to wait to visit them, go check out their site anyway -

Monday, 18 April 2011

A long pause update

Okay, if you read this blog (hey, someone might) you may hvae noticed a distinct lack of any activity whatsoever in recent times. Sorry! I'm afraid I've been a little unwell of late and really haven't been in the mood to type in blog entries - or to do much of anything to be totally honest. I finally gave in to the fact I was feeling like crap and went to see someone about it.

Result is I was diagnosed with severe depressive disorder - clinical depression in old money. It's fun let me tell you. (Yes, I'm lying) So I was put on pills to alleviate the symptoms. First citalopram and then fluoxetine. Neither of which seemed to do me much positive good and both of which came with a whole host of side effects that made me feel crappier.

I'm now off meds and trying to deal with things (unless doc advises I go on other meds - we'll see). I'm hoping to find enough strength to start getting my life back - and hopefully developing some new coping strategies for the things that bother me as they're not going away. My issues are private - I'm not going to bore you by oversharing. Suffice to say most of them are nothing new, it's just that the ways I used to cope in the past stopped working when I was ill at the start of the year.

So I'm on the hunt for new ways of dealing. (Wish me luck.)

Yesterday my wife told me to write a review. (A film review - I've not read a book this year.) So I did. It took a while, probably four times as long as they normally take. But I completed it. And submitted it (to Murky Depths).

Now I'm in the waiting period - to see if I can still pass muster. And I'm intent on writing another after this post. Typing words into this blog is meaning I'm actually typing. And I need to type to write reviews, so when the blank page proved a little too intimidating as I tried to write tonight's review (another film review) I thought I'd blog a little, hoping it would be easier and provide a simple way in.

It seems to be working. Now all I have to do is try to ensure I maintain the momentum I've gained with this blog entry.

So I'm going to just pass on some writing news - I do have some for pieces written before my recent mind-wobble started.

Murky Depths ( has a number (reasonably high number too - about 20) of recently newly published reviews of mine on their site. Just click on the link above and scroll down to find a link to the reviews menus on the left of the screen (or you can use their drop down menus at the top if you have IE). I would list the new ones but there really are too many.

Eschatology Journal ( has published one of my stories (Again written last year) on their site. The story, "Chicken", can be found at the following URL

And they also published a story written by my wife, under her Carey Lester pseudonym. It's her first sale. "The Dance" can be found at

They even managed the wonderful coincidence of posting it on my wife's birthday - an extra little bonus present for her - in addition to her waking up in a Venetian Palazzo (we hired an apartment there for the week). Finally I've just received news that New Myths ( should be posting another of my reviews on their site (for Tim Waggoner's Dead Streets) in the next couple of days. And they want more from me - so I think I may have to try reading something. Maybe the new Lavie Tidhar novella from PS Publishing. I like his stuff. Yeah, that could re-ignite my reading desire.

Anyway - to reviewing...