Bookshelf Mission #3 – Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas

I’ve never read any Thomas before but the blurb for this book caught my eye and I downloaded it on a whim. She appears to have gotten some very good reviews from notable other writers for previous works but this piece failed to wow me.

The story is an interesting one, and was very of its time, however despite a strong start and engaging first act, the remainder of the book is unbelievable, dull and just a little bit disappointing at the end. Saying that, once my bookshelf mission is over, I may try another of her books as this one had a lot of promise that just wasn’t given the space to live.

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Movie – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Oh good God. I have now found a film to take spot 3 of the worst films ever after Van Helsing and Skyline. AVOID.

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Movie – Welcome to the Punch

This is a good attempt at a gritty Brit thriller that I enjoyed a great deal. It’s hugely flawed though – the plot is painfully predictable and the ending is frustrating but that doesn’t mean I stil didn’t enjoy the ride.

McAvoy is an unlikely choice for the lead good guy/cop chasing down Strong (who I am now totally in love with), a longtime target and supposed bad guy of the piece. What we soon learn is that whilst Strong’s character, Jacob Sternwood, is a criminal and is McAvoy’s target, he is not the ultimate bad guy of the film.

Both leads are strong and very watchable and the film looks impressive. I enjoyed the use of slo-mo and love the backdrop of Canary Wharf making London look all rather dark and hi-tech. Definitely go see it but go with an open mind – don’t expect the next big action flick and you’ll have a good time.

 

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Bookshelf Mission #2 – Carrie by Stephen King

I have actively avoided Stephen King novels my whole life and not because I think he would be a bad writer – far from it. He’s the man whose imagination fed so any excellent films – Misery, Stand by Me and The Green Mile for example – and my mother who is an avid reader has been a King fan forever. So why the aversion?

I’m a wimp. I cannot watch horror films – the last time I watched one was 2003 when I saw Ringu/The Ring and it haunted me for weeks on end. I wish I could watch horror films – it’s like an exclusive club that I just can’t get in to – but I don’t have that ability to gain enjoyment from being frightened. If something scares me, it properly scares me and I will have both nightmares and daydreams that ruin whole days. My imagination is just too sensitive. It sucks.

So having seen Carrie, Pet Sematary and The Shining in my younger days, and been scared senseless by the latter two, I actively avoided reading any Stephen King. However, Carrie wasn’t that scary. And a new film adaptation that I’m excited to see comes out soon. So I took the plunge.

It’s a short book and a good book. I enjoyed it hugely, even knowing how the story goes. It’s original and haunting and knowing how close King came to binning it, I’m very pleased his wife convinced him to keep at it.

The cutting between newspaper articles, police reports and the actual story didn’t offend me but I didn’t appreciate the constant bracketed inner monologue for Carrie. I didn’t think it added anything to the book and I almost think it would read better without it.

It took me just over a day to read it (with work sandwiched in there somewhere). Definitely give it a whirl if you’ve not read it before.

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Movie – Warm Bodies

Ah, Nicholas Hoult. I loved him in About a Boy and was impressed with his turn in X-Men: First Class. But never before have I fancied him. I’m 31. I feel a bit of a perv (and a weirdo – he’s a zombie in this) but I definitely now do. Is he old enough for me to fancy him??

Make no mistake, Warm Bodies is a rom-com. I am the ultimate horror wimp and trust me, there are no scary zombies here. In fact, for someone who is as shy of true horror as I am, these are the best zombies in the world.

Hoult is charming as R, the main character and a zombie, or ‘corpse’, wandering the world feeling a bit lost. He falls in love with Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, after eating her boyfriend’s brains. Not the best start to a relationship.

The film isn’t completing engaging the whole way through – there is a section in the middle where I started getting a bit bored of R saving Julie for the umpteenth time after warning her not to wander off. But Hoult is a captivating lead and I would be happy to watch him play R for another 3 hours.

It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen but I enjoyed it immensely. The two leads are strong, Hoult in particular, and it screams feel-good factor without the in-your-face cheese that Hollywood tends to favour. It’s not a cinema must-see but definitely catch it when it’s available for home viewing.

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DVD Library Mission #6 – The Bourne Ultimatum

Quite possible the best action thriller I’ve ever seen.

WATCH IT.

That is all.

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DVD Library Mission #5 – The Bourne Supremacy

Supremacy outdoes Identity. In every way. Go Greengrass.

This film is quick, it’s clever and it’s action-packed from the get-go. If you’re in the mood for a smart action thriller, this is it.

Matt Damon is fantastic as Jason Bourne. Supporting cast in Karl Urban, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles and Joan Allen in particular are very strong indeed. You root for Bourne desperately and live and die every emotion with him. WATCH IT.

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DVD Library Mission #4 – The Bourne Identity

Got it on blu, watched it on blu. Didn’t think it could get any better but it totally did.

The Bourne Identity was not a film I loved on first viewing. To be honest, I watched it once it was on television having given it a miss at the cinema and thought it was a little clunky despite Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne being a captivating character.

Over time and numerous follow-up viewings after seeing the rest in the series (and loving them, bar Legacy which we will not talk about here – see http://mishmashmor.com/2012/08/20/review-the-bourne-legacy/), I am now firmly a Bourne Identity fan. Not often do sequels outdo their predecessors but this is one series where Supremacy outdoes Identity, and Ultimatum in turn outdoes Supremacy.

See it if you haven’t, and see them all.

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Bookshelf Mission #1 – The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

So, I adore The Bourne Identity (film). My main motivation for getting the book is because of how much I love the film so naturally, I wanted to get hold of the source material and see if it was a faithful adaptation. Well holy hell. The film is NOTHING like the book but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.

This book obviously has the same lead character in Jason Bourne and in a similar situation to start with, being an amnesiac with an amazing talent for inflicting pain. That’s where it ends. The book takes you on twists and turns so different to the film that only the reminder of Bourne’s name kept me on the same page as the film.

The momentum of the book doesn’t necessarily keep up all the way through (it’s looong) but it is mostly exciting, suspenseful and genuinely action-packed. I don’t have The Bourne Supremacy on my bookshelf at the moment but once I’m through with my bookshelf mission, I’ll sure as hell be getting it!

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DVD Library Mission #3 – The Hunger Games

As far as book to film adaptations go, I always get pissed off when people say “It’s not as good as the book.” The two mediums are so different in their power to affect readers/viewers that it will always be impossible for a film to be better than a book (if the film is staying true to the book). Films just don’t have the luxury of time and wordy descriptions as books do. But that doesn’t mean that a film adaptation cannot be good. With that in mind, this particular film adaptation shows other filmmakers how it is done.

The book is outstandingly good. It was recommended to me by a friend and once I read it, I devoured the other two in less than 48 hours (the entirely trilogy will be talked about as part of my Bookshelf Mission at some stage). The movie is also excellent (bar some dodgy CGI towards the end).

Jennifer Lawrence embodied the character of Katniss Everdeen to an absolute tee. Some other characters were shown differently to how they are in the book, at least how they looked in my imagination, but it didn’t take away from the momentum of the film. For example, I saw Haymitch as more disgusting and abrupt but Woody Harrelson’s version of Haymitch, although softer round the edges, was also powerful (when does he ever go wrong?!). I would never have cast Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and yet, I was completely pulling for him (and a little in love with him) by the end. It did go wrong a little bit with others. Cinna, for example, is a much more important cog in the book than he is in the film but that doesn’t take away from Lenny Kravtiz’s attempt at the character. I just hope he gets more screen time in the sequels.

For its intended young adult audience, and for people for all ages who don’t know the book, this is a strong, engaging adventure story that leaves you wanting more. I recommend it!

 

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