Friday, 30 December 2011
Thursday, 29 December 2011
The Next Three Days
Russell Crowe hatches a plan to help his wife escape from prison in this excellent re-make of the French film Anything For Her. Going into this one I didn’t know anything about it or that it was a re-make. This worked greatly in the film’s favour as I didn’t know how things were going to turn out.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/01/film-next-three-days.html
Let me In
Another re-make and again I haven’t seen the original. This tale of a child-like urban vampire manages to be the rarest of films, a great horror.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/dvd-let-me-in.html
Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist
Also known as Fast Five this sequel really delivers. Big on action and excitement it also features a brilliant fight scene involving Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Full review here http://www.ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/05/film-fast-furious-5-rio-heist.html
A rookie prison guard finds himself locked in with the inmates during a riot in this brilliant Spanish drama. Can he keep his true identity hidden? Ferocious film with cool performances.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/07/film-cell-211.html
This British mock-documentary from director / star Nick Nevern follows a London wide boy as his life spirals out of control. It’s powerful stuff and very realistic.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/05/dvd-terry.html
Rebecca DeMornay is amazing as the Matriarch of a violent family in this excellent home invasion film from director of Saw sequels Darren Lynn Boussman.
Full review here http://www.ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/11/film-mothers-day.html
What do you do when your boss is a tyrant? Three hapless friends conspire to bump theirs off in this surprisingly good comedy featuring fine performances from Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/film-horrible-bosses.html
The God Of Thunder finally arrived on the big screen and director Kenneth Branagh delivered a film packed with action, effects and …….laughs! Excellent precursor to the upcoming Avengers film.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/04/film-thor.html
This emotional documentary follows two young boys as they attempt to escape a life in the slums of Brazil through professional surfing.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/06/film-rio-breaks.html
At last, a decent MMA (mixed martial arts) film. An estranged family bring all their problems into the octagon in this modern day Rocky with great performances from Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy.
Full review here http://ricsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/09/film-warrrior.html
Biutiful, Red State, Outcast, Stake Land, Collapse, Faster and The Troll Hunter.
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
They are taken deep into the woods and subjected to a series of tortures typical of those employed against various terrorist suspects in recent years
It soon emerges that one of the captors is a veteran soldier who spent time working with detainees at the notorious Guantanamo Bay.
A tense opening half hour soon becomes a plodding unpleasant affair with few redeeming features. A cool P.I turning up to get to the bottom of the group’s disappearance provides little relief from the gloom.
Rather pointless really.
Ric’s Rating: 40%
Monday, 19 December 2011
Monday, 12 December 2011
It emerges that the victim was known to Doyle and he is compelled to bolster a flagging police investigation, unaware that he is upsetting some very powerful people.
Whilst caught up in this personal crusade Doyle’s professional life is also thrown into turmoil as his company is swallowed up by an Indian firm known for their ruthless drive for profits.
Are these two seemingly unrelated events connected?
Starting off like a romance novel this takes some time to get going and often gets caught up in the details of corporate shenanigans. Only when the true nature of events is revealed does it become a compelling tale.
It has murder, revenge, corruption, bribery and scandal although I can’t help feeling that Doyle’s girlfriend should have had a past so much more complicated than the one delivered. Their relationship would have been much more interesting if tested more severely.
This is the first in a planned series for Mefford’s recurring character and it’ll be interesting to see what’s next for the budding investigative journalist but hopefully the next instalment will tone down the sickly sweet romance and crank up the action.
Ric’s Rating: 62%
Sunday, 4 December 2011
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Sunday, 27 November 2011
The action is peppered with nice moments of humour too.
Saturday, 26 November 2011
With one party accusing the other of manipulating results tensions spill out into the streets and war looks likely. Will diplomacy prevail?
Friday, 25 November 2011
Ed Lynskey’s latest slice of noir evokes memories of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and feels like it should be set in the days of Al Capone and Elliot Ness. Infused with melodious jazz tones it transports the reader into a smoky world populated by shady characters but don’t be fooled, this is a modern-day tale.
Zane refuses to use a mobile (cell) phone but he does make the occasional foray into the world of emails and internet although his penchant for poetry makes him an unlikely Reaper.
Lynskey’s prose almost takes the violence out of this tale but there are murders aplenty as Zane frequently looks back on a life spent rubbing out those who have crossed his conniving paymaster.
Surprisingly the story comes across as rather poignant, the main character is very engaging and the explosive finale provides a final round knockout.
Ric’s Rating: 80%
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
This short story is similar to Victoria Watson’s previous tale Keeping Quiet but where that was an elderly lady looking back this is a much younger woman contemplating her past.
As events gradually unfold and we learn the building’s purpose various typical teenage events are remembered, like misguided sexual adventures, but when the final tragedy is revealed it puts all these things into perspective.
Emotional and thought provoking, this is another fine example of the power of the increasingly popular short story format which has seen a dramatic re-birth since the rise of the e-reader.
Ric’s Rating: 68%
Monday, 21 November 2011
The stories vary in length and content but all feature the basic premise of the dead returning to life with the inevitable catastrophic results.
Stand outs include:
Jennifer by Iain McKinnon in which the hero of the piece may not be what he seems.
Apocalypse Noo by Vallon Jackson which takes us on a scenic trip to Loch Tay in Scotland where the locals are anything but friendly. Vallon Jackson is a pseudonym for Matt Hilton, author of the Joe Hunter thriller series.
Thanksgiving Feast by A.M Boyle which is a surreal tale of an old turkey farmer and a special knife.
Seahouses Slaughterhouse by Rod Glenn which sees the return of Han Whitman, the brilliant anti-hero from Rod’s Sinema novels, see reviews elsewhere here.
My recommendation for tackling this book would be to dip in and out of it reading just one or two stories per sitting. Reading it like a novel can ruin the effect as some of the tales tend to merge.
Check elsewhere here for info. on a recent multi-author Holiday Of The Dead event in Glasgow which I attended.
Ric’s Rating: 72%
Sunday, 20 November 2011
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Unbeknown to them their Mother has lost the house and they turn up all guns blazing during the new owner’s housewarming party.
So begins the best home invasion film since Panic Room. Rebecca DeMornay (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle) puts in a scintillating performance as the feared Matriarch who goes about the business of violence and intimidation using an outwardly friendly manner which makes her all the more unnerving.
Another plus is the gradual revealing of secrets between the party-going friends. This creates great tension between them while they also attempt to survive the increasingly violent incident they are caught up in.
Saw II, III & IV director Darren Lynn Bousman has delivered a nail biting thriller that surprisingly flew pretty much under the radar.
Monday, 14 November 2011
In this society the currency is time with everyone having to bargain their days, minutes and hours on everything from phone calls to food. Timberlake’s character suddenly finds himself in possession of an abundance of time and sets about investigating the people who ration it.
This promised much but delivered little. When we reach the fourth or fifth time JT manages to save himself with seconds to spare it all becomes a bit boring. Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) does finally manage to play a menacing character after his previous failed attempts in films like Red Eye and The Dark Knight but that isn’t enough to recommend this one.
Ric’s Rating: 47%
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Jimmy Hawthorn appears to be a regular teenager with regular teenage problems and just as things are looking up for him he begins to wonder if acting out his kidnap and bondage fantasy was such a good idea after all.
All of the main characters in this book are teenagers making me wonder if they are the intended audience. If so it’s very risky as there are some graphic scenes of rape, torture and bondage.
That being said the author has managed to include these in a tale woven around a fascinatingly complex main character. Jimmy’s best friend is his brother Alan, the pair have a great relationship and Alan is happy when Jimmy finds a girlfriend. Unfortunately Alan has no idea that Jimmy already has two girls locked up in an abandoned underground shelter.
This can be compared to the recently reviewed film The Woman, but where that was awful due to the lack of a compelling story, this excels in that department. It’s a captivating journey through the mind of a young man who crosses the line and brings his darkest fantasies to life, with terrible consequences for all involved.
Ric’s Rating: 80%
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Gradually she learns the tarot and becomes Jacqueline Stargazer, a sought after party guest, but when psychic night bookings begin she delivers some advice that has tragic consequences.
This is really all about how someone’s life can change after losing their job and its thought provoking stuff that remains entertaining throughout.
These Trestle Press short stories make ideal lunch break reading, it’s nice to be able to complete a tale in a short period of time and anyone lacking the discipline or attention span required for novels should give them a try.
Ric’s Rating: 67%
Meanwhile a pair of gormless burglars pick the wrong house to rob.
This is the longest of the short story series so far and it pays off bigtime. Darren Sant has introduced a fine blend of characters, many of which I suspect we haven’t heard the last of.
Each story leaves me hungry for more and I can’t wait to visit the Longcroft estate again.
Interestingly the author has invited submissions for the fourth instalment. Head over to http://www.santsrants.blogspot.com/ for more information.
Ric’s Rating: 74%
Friday, 4 November 2011
Thursday, 3 November 2011
From her childhood before the war to her current predicament she takes us on a melancholy journey. A domineering Mother put paid to most fun in her childhood and even as an adult she bows to her Mother’s will, although things begin to change when her own daughter arrives.
The short story format (currently championed on ebook by Trestle Press) is perfect for this sad tale. It contains everything required to paint a full picture of a life filled with regret.
Powerful and affecting, this is a perfect introduction to short stories for anyone hesitant to try.
Ric’s Rating: 78%
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Each author read from their contribution to the collection. It was a heady mix of destruction and carnage and as you might expect there were quite a few twists. Lets just say that the zombies aren't always the most dangerous characters in these tales.
After the event all authors spent time signing books and chatting to fans.
Heres me with Rod Glenn, author of the fantastic Sinema books (see reviews elsewhere here).
Matt Hilton, author of the cool Joe Hunter thriller series (you'll find a review of the very first one elsewhere here) also took time out for a chat. Matt goes by the pen name of Vallon Jackson in this book.
It was my very first book event and I'm sure it won't be the last. Check back soon for a full review of Holiday Of The Dead.
Friday, 28 October 2011
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
The book doesn’t rely on Becker alone, there is an eclectic supporting cast. Jimmy Nova, Becker’s garish partner, Marielle Wilson the tenacious reporter and veterinarian Elizabeth Cunningham all lend their own unique qualities to the tale.
Drawing from personal experience (Kassey is a real-life cop) the author brings a level of authenticity rarely found in crime fiction. From the details of the case to the cop-speak and practical jokes, all areas are covered in a realistic manner that brings the characters to life.
This is the best self-published book I’ve read since Chris Kuzneski’s The Plantation. Kuzneski now frequents best-seller lists, Kassay deserves the same.
Monday, 24 October 2011
Ric’s Rating: 89%
Monday, 17 October 2011
Charlie lives a hand to mouth lifestyle so when his estranged son needs looking after he sees this as a big inconvenience.
Inevitably the pair bond through the rescue and training of their robot, Atom. They decide to use real life boxing techniques and a flamboyant style to make Atom stand out from the crowd. It works, as Atom is soon propelled to the big league of robot boxing. But can the re-engineered pile of scrap metal mix with the sophisticated top level fighting machines?
This has echoes of another Stallone flick, the largely forgotten arm-wrestling tale Over The Top. The Father & Son relationship here is very similar, as is the road trip type environment. Jackman is his usual watchable self and Dakota Goyo provides adequate support as the boy desperate for his Father’s affection. Atom too is very likable, the junkyard scene where he is discovered provides one of the films highlights and it left me keen to find out about his origins. Sequel perhaps?
It’s cheesy, predictable and sentimental……..but bloody good fun.
Ric’s Rating: 76%
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Ric’s Rating: 81%
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Three teenage boys head out on a trip that promises sexual adventure but they end up fighting for their lives. They have been lured into a trap by a group of religious fanatics led by Albin Cooper (Michael Parks).
The film then veers off in a surprising direction when a team of ATF agents descend on the church.
Michael Parks is mesmerizing as the cult leader, he possesses a melodic and captivating voice, perfect for the role of an extreme preacher.
Melissa Leo, fresh from her Oscar success in The Fighter, again turns in a decent performance as the temptress turned torturer. It’s also nice to see John Goodman back on the big screen as the grizzled government agent who questions his orders.
It all gets a bit silly towards the end but it’s exciting stuff from Kevin Smith. I’ve never been a fan but if he continues in this vein I will be converted….hallelujah !!
Ric’s Rating: 79%
Kicking of with the startling Revenge Is A Warm .45 this collection delivers thrills, laughs and food for thought.
As with Sant’s other stories (see reviews elsewhere here) my only complaint is that they are too short. I could have spent loads more time with the two aged gangsters in Unforgiven. The seemingly strange band members in The Ungrateful Dead were also very intriguing.
I’m new to short stories in general but I’m quickly discovering that a short sharp dose of crime fiction can be very refreshing. I’m also keen to see if the author will tackle a full length novel.
Ric’s Rating: 72%
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Friday, 7 October 2011
It all starts out promisingly enough as the family pull of a daring robbery and discover that they have a determined cop on their tails. A lucrative airport heist is then planned which will provide all participants with enough money to walk away.
Unfortunately all momentum is lost when what could have been an enjoyable cops & robbers drama becomes a tale of Father and Son rivalry.
The characters are dull, lack chemistry and there isn’t really anyone to root for.
For hardcore Reno fans only.
The Dead List is available on DVD in the UK from 10th October 2011
Ric’s Rating: 41%
Sunday, 2 October 2011
You can find a full review elsewhere here but in the menantime check out this brief trailer which sets it up nicely.
Thursday, 29 September 2011
The second in Darren Sant’s short story series sees the single mother struggle to repay a loan shark while protecting her son from the local bullies. If she can’t raise the cash needed the thug has made it clear what he’s after instead.
Will she keep him at bay?
Like the previous instalment A Good Day (see review elsewhere here), this really is a very brief short story, but it does manage to convey everything required to have an impact.
Reminiscent of the tv show Shameless but without the comedy element this also manages to be surprisingly uplifting.
I’m already looking forward to my next visit to the Longcroft Estate.
Ric’s Rating: 78%
Lacey shows her value to the investigation when she reveals her own fascination with The Ripper and provides insight that just may help catch Jack’s modern day equivalent.
As the story progresses it takes a cool twist showing that there is more going on here than a straightforward copycat. Flint’s own murky past becomes relevant and she has to decide if she can help catch the killer and remain on the force.
This is an entertaining serial killer novel that moves along nicely thanks to short snappy chapters. There are also some fine characters on show. Lacey herself manages to surprise while her colleagues Joesbury and Tulloch provide interesting support.
The final reveal is a bit too much of a stretch of the imagination for me but it’s a compelling tale that cleverly combines facts from the original Ripper murders with smart contemporary fiction.
Ric’s Rating: 71%
Sunday, 25 September 2011
Joel Edgerton is Brendan, Tommy’s brother. Brendan makes a living as a high school physics teacher but runs into financial difficulties that force him to return to the fight game.
Saturday, 24 September 2011
The duo then head off into a world familiar to fans of zombie movies as they traverse ruined towns & cities meeting various characters along the way. Only this time it isn’t zombies that have caused the problem, it’s an epidemic of vampires.
Nick Damici is cool as the emotionless vampire killer and Connor Paolo is perfect as the vulnerable boy trying to survive. They meet up with a Nun (an unrecognisable Kelly McGillis) and a pregnant singer (horror movie regular Danielle Harris) but as is the case with many of these movies it isn’t always the vampires that are the most frightening thing they encounter.
The Brotherhood is a religious cult led by Jebediah (Michael Cerveris) and they believe God has infested the Earth with vampires to eliminate sinners from the world. Unfortunately Cerveris is the weak link in the cast, he too closely resembles comedy bald guy Evan Handler from Sex & The City and Californication to be taken seriously as a villain.
That aside I just wasn’t expecting this to be as good as it is. Can you believe it? It’s actually an original take on the vampire movie. Ok, it borrows heavily from films like 28 Days Later but throwing vampires into the mix is a clever and fresh move.
It’s a visceral and violent road trip that also provides moments of melancholy as the survivors long for a world they may never see again.
Metrodome release Stake Land on DVD in the UK on 17th October 2011.
Ric’s Rating: 77%
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Ash and his friends are regulars at the local club and his sister (Shivani Ghai) is seeing the resident DJ, Ronnie (Simon Webbe from boyband Blue). Ronnie agrees to give Ash a chance at the club but just as things are looking up, many personal issues threaten to ruin the opportunity.
The cast, especially James Floyd, are all fantastic in their portrayal of conflicted individuals. Adam Deacon (Anuvahood) delivers another fine performance as Zaf and Art Malik (Ghosted, True Lies) pops up as Ash’s Uncle.
Emotionally charged and very relevant it’ll appeal to fans of films like Shifty (see review elsewhere here) but will also please anyone who enjoyed the comedy film East Is East as it has similar family dynamics.
It’s another slick presentation of contemporary urban life from Kidulthood director Menhaj Huda and it also boasts a cool soundtrack.
Everywhere & Nowhere is released on DVD in the UK on 3rd October 2011.
Ric’s Rating: 80%
Saturday, 17 September 2011
Following the murder of their parents, six month old twins Chad and Alex are separated. Chad moves to California with Uncle Frank (Geoffrey Lewis) and Alex is left at a Hong Kong orphanage.
Twenty five years later the brothers (both played by Jean – Claude Van Damme) reunite for revenge. The twins must overcome their personal differences and take on the villains, including female body-builder Cory Everson and perennial martial-arts movie bad guy Bolo Yeung.
This has stood the test of time surprisingly well. Following the recent reality show Jean – Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors (see review elsewhere here) and his upcoming turn in The Expendables 2 it’s a timely reminder of how much fun a JCVD movie can be.
Ok, the effects are outdated and the acting is cheesy but this is still a very enjoyable action movie that showcases Van Damme’s considerable skills which, hopefully, will be gracing the big screen again next year.
Ric’s Rating: 68%
Friday, 16 September 2011
Bears are being blamed for attacks on cattle in Norway but when a mysterious tracker shows up a group of students ask him if they can tag along and film what happens. They get a lot more than they expect.
It transpires that Hans is a professional Troll Hunter and the government have been keeping their existence hidden from the public.
This Norwegian film breathes new life into the "found footage" genre and also works as a monster movie. The Trolls themselves come in all shapes and sizes and while they reminded me of The Flumps (UK kids tv show) the film remains captivating and has some great moments of tension, like when the group find themselves trapped in a Troll's cave.
It's not up there with Rare Exports (see review elsewhere here) but fans of that film are sure to enjoy it.
Ric's Rating: 74%
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Flash cars driven by wealthy looking men are beginning to show up on a regular basis so what does one grimy flat contain that could interest them so much?
I’m new to short stories and while I enjoyed this it’s almost too short to merit a review. Saying more would give the entire thing away but if you enjoy quick-fire fiction that feels like a blast of cold fresh air first thing in the morning then this could be right up your street.
Looking forward to the next volume but maybe I’ll save a few of them before reading in order to prolong the enjoyment.
Ric’s Rating: 68%
Monday, 12 September 2011
The corpses pile up day after day but amongst them is the body of an eminent Doctor who shows no signs of the virus.
Harris and her partner Chunk must work the case while avoiding all the hazards the infected city has to throw at them.
As her frustration mounts Harris then takes the mighty gamble of deciding to go along with her husband’s plan to escape the city.
There is great set up work here as the reader is immediately thrown into a horrific environment in which the cops struggle to continue to do their job. As well as looters and angry residents, they face corruption at every turn.
The family side of the story is very emotional as ordinary parents attempt to do their best while civilization breaks down around them. Unfortunately the murder case lacks impact, it doesn’t introduce any interesting characters and the whole thing comes to a rather anti-climactic end.
Ric’s rating: 59%
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Thursday, 8 September 2011
As Nazi Germany attempts to annex Austria two childhood friends, one a Jew and one a German, find themselves on opposite sides.
Rudi (Georg Friedrich) has grown up as a close friend of the Kauffman family, who own an art gallery in Vienna , but he has always secretly envied Victor (Moritz Bleibtreu). Privy to the Kauffman’s secrets Rudi soon makes the encroaching Nazis aware of a valuable artefact in their possession and the family is soon captured.
What follows is a powerful and clever drama that should have merited a UK cinema release, just when you think you know what’s going to happen it veers off in another direction whilst always maintaining its credibility.
It’s a Count Of Monte Cristo type tale of betrayal and revenge set in one of history’s darkest times but it’s told in a fresh style with fantastic performances from the two leading characters, it even manages one or two moments of humour.
The film is in German with English subtitles but please don’t let that put you off, it’s a cracker. I’ve included the German poster as it better reflects the film, the UK DVD cover would make you think that this is all about airplane battles, which isn’t the case at all.
My Best Enemy is released on DVD in the UK on 12th September 2011.
Ric’s Rating: 89%
Monday, 5 September 2011
There is an Angel after offerings of blood, an eccentric collector of clocks, babies that can predict the future and creepy scarecrows that may not be what they seem.
We start of with the nightmarish Beware The Death Angel in which town newcomers prepare for a sinister local tradition. The stories then vary in content and length ending with the fantastic The Misunderstood in which a farmer attempts to protect his land from a supernatural beast.
This is the first time I’ve read a short story collection but it’s something I’ve been meaning to try for a while and this is the right place to start for anyone partial to some short sharp doses of horror. Each one is highly entertaining and the whole collection creates a cool otherworldly feeling that I’d have been happy to wallow in for a bit longer as a couple of the tales felt a little too short. Many could have been expanded and perhaps that’s something the author will consider. Failing that I’d be more than happy with another volume to add to this collection of wonderfully dark misfits.
Ric’s Rating: 74%