Wednesday 30 May 2012

Reviews News: Blood Tears by Michael J Malone

Just a quick reminder that the fantastic Blood Tears by Michael J Malone is available now.

Here is a taster:

A body is discovered: the terrible mutilations spell out the wounds of the stigmata. For Glasgow DI Ray McBain the killings are strangely familiar.....and then the dreams begin.

And here is a quote from my review:

"features the controversial issue of child abuse within the Catholic Church but skilfully manages to avoid over-burdening the reader with a sense of gloom.........entertaining throughout and my home city is thankfully represented positively."

Click on the Michael Malone tab at the bottom of this post to read the full review and check out the author's blog, May Contain Nuts, via the link in the "visit these places" section on this page for details of the launch and loads of other cool stuff.

Book: Commitment and other tales of madness by Glen R Krisch

A collection of six short stories with the connecting theme of madness.

Highlights include:

So Close To Home – A zombie story with a cool twist.

Wielder – A planned murder becomes something much worse.

An Untenable Madness – A promising athlete’s world becomes skewed following an accident.

Glen Krisch has managed to bring together crime, science fiction and horror in this cool collection that adds to the short story revival currently championed by the kindle. The format may not suit everyone but tales like these are brilliant for a quick fix of fiction during a lunch break or commute.

As with all short stories sometimes they feel just too short but they do have impact and often leave you wanting more.

Ric’s Rating: Good.  

Friday 25 May 2012

Film: Piggy

Joe (Martin Compston) is a socially awkward guy, someone who prefers his own company to hanging with the crowd. His brother John (Neil Maskell) is the opposite and often persuades Joe to come along to the pub. One such night out has tragic consequences.

Enter Piggy (Paul Anderson), an old friend of John’s who offers to help Joe in his quest for revenge.

Debut director / writer Kieron Hawkes has delivered the best British revenge thriller since Dead Man’s Shoes. Anderson is a revelation as the volatile Piggy and Scotsman Compston does an excellent job, even if the London accent is a bit shaky.

Gritty, violent and somewhat surreal, Piggy will leave you pondering events long after the end credits.

Available on DVD in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.


Wednesday 23 May 2012

Film: The Raid

In the opening scene of The Raid we see a man preying, speaking to his pregnant wife and then telling his Father “I’ll bring him back”. That’s all the background you get before one of the most violent films I have ever seen begins in earnest.

Rama (Iko Uwais) is part of an elite group of cops who are about to launch an assault on a tower block run by a feared local gangster. Every floor harbours lethal fugitives and Rama and the team must use all their skills if they are to survive.

Full of spectacular gun battles and fight scenes this Indonesian production was directed by Welshman Gareth Evans. Be warned though, the violence here is hardcore with every fight ending in at least one gruesome death by way of gun, knife, fist, feet or anything that the participants find lying around.

The Raid has more bullets than The Expendables, better fights than Ong –Bak and as good a location as District 13, but the overall experience is hampered by the lack of build-up. There is little emotional investment in Rama and the final fight with three participants is far too long, it borders on ridiculous and almost spoils what has gone before. Almost.

The Raid is in UK cinemas now and is known as The Raid: Redemption in the USA.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Monday 21 May 2012

Film: Grown Ups

Following the death of their school basketball coach the team members re-unite for a break in the country, but lots has changed since they were kids. Families in tow the group take on various endeavours and even run into their old rivals.

Adam Sandler heads the cast which is a veritable who’s who of comedy. Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade are the other team members.

The humour here is all slapstick and there are loads of laugh-out-loud moments, like when the portly Kevin James attempts to climb out a garden swimming pool. Steve Buscemi also pops up and has a show stealing moment when he takes on a tricky stunt.

Cheesy as hell but great fun, Grown Ups combines laughs with a coming of age tale of friendship and the importance of taking time out from a hectic lifestyle.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.         

Sunday 20 May 2012

TV DVD: Earth 2

This cult sci-fi tv series was made by Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment in 1994 and arrives on DVD in the UK on 28th May 2012.

In the year 2192 Earth has been rendered inhospitable by pollution and war. Surviving humans now live in various space stations but an infection known as “The Syndrome” leaves many stricken.

A rogue group of survivors head to a seemingly habitable planet and attempt to begin a new life…….but not all is as it seems.

The cast includes Clancy Brown and Debrah Farentino with appearances by Terry O’Quinn and Virginia Madsen but with little background the viewer is thrust into what feels like an already ongoing story. The special effects are very poor, looking more like something from a sixties sci-fi show instead of a nineties one.

This 22 episode box-set will only appeal to those who are already fans of the show and fondly remember it although this could be a case of childhood memories being sullied.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy. 

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Film: The Dilemma

When Ronnie Valentine (Vince Vaughn) spots his best friend’s wife with another man he faces an awkward social quandary. Does he tell his friend (Kevin James) about it or wait until after their important business deal?

With Ron Howard (Cocoon, Happy Days) directing this was never going to be a slapstick comedy. It’s more of a humorous take on a very uncomfortable situation and as usual Howard found a part for his oddball brother Clint, who was the child star of Gentle Ben.

Vaughn’s rapid dialogue delivery is always amusing and there are some very funny scenes, most of them involving Channing Tatum in his show stealing performance as “Zip”.

If you’re expecting Wedding Crashers or Dodgeball than give this a miss but if you fancy a more thoughtful comedy with a top level cast, check it out.

Ric’s Rating: Good.     

Saturday 12 May 2012

Book: Scraping The Bone by William Malmborg

The author of Jimmy and Text Message (see reviews elsewhere here) brings us this short story collection comprising of ten disturbing tales.

Highlights include:

Redstone Lake – A couple visit a remote cabin and long forgotten memories re-emerge.

Rest Stop – A woman escaping her abusive husband takes a well earned break. Can things get any worse? You bet they can.

The Other Side – The perils of internet dating, with a twist

The Bone Yard – Just what is that dog digging up?

Electronic reading devices have given new life to the short story and with collections like this available it’s easy to see why they are finding a market. They make ideal lunch time or commute reading, only trouble is 
sometimes they are just too short.

Malmborg is one of the gutsiest writers around and he’s fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

Head over to for more information on his work and lots of other cool stuff.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.    

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Graphic Novel: Pride Of Baghdad

This stunning graphic novel follows four lions on a desperate journey for survival in Iraq during the 2003 US invasion.

The pride (along with countless other animals) escape Baghdad zoo and roam the streets. Confused and hungry they encounter many hazardous situations.

Striking artwork and characters each with their individual take on events make this a compelling and poignant tale.

Based on real events this story is a moving alternative look at the effect human conflict has on the creatures that share our space.

This is the first graphic novel I’ve read in a long time and it has worked well as a re-introduction to an often misunderstood genre. If you think a book with pictures is beneath you then give this a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Film: American Pie: Reunion

Jim, Stifler and the gang are back for their high school reunion but are they still funny?

That question is answered immediately with a resounding yes when we see Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) attempt to relieve the daily stress of being parents to a toddler.  Let’s just say it doesn’t go smoothly.

The entire cast from the original movie appears and stealing the show once again is Eugene Levy as Jim’s Dad who even gets in on the action this time.

There are just as many sexual misadventures and they are perhaps even funnier than the original as the characters are now all adults and should know better.

Fans of the original films will absolutely love it.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Film: Marvel Avengers Assemble

Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Captain America team up in an effort to save planet Earth from the threat imposed by Thor’s evil brother, Loki.

Each of the main characters involved has had their own movie(s) leading us to this first combined effort and my oh my it was worth the wait. Also in the team are Black Widow and Hawkeye who have featured in the previous films, albeit very briefly in the case of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

The story has Loki (Tom Hiddleston) opening a space portal through which an army of hideous space creatures can emerge to wreak havoc on Earth but the real compelling feature here is the heroes putting aside their differences to work together against a formidable foe.

The entire cast are fantastic with Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man) just about edging it from Hiddleston’s turn as the villain in the performance department. Everyone looks like they are having a great time and all the characters get sufficient screen time to display their abilities.

There are many highlights in this film but look out for the cool fight between Iron Man and Thor and the stirring moment when Captain America, while issuing orders, turns to the big green guy and simply says “Hulk...smash!”

Spectacular, exciting, smart, emotional and surprisingly funny, Avengers Assemble is everything a blockbuster should be.

Ric’s Rating: Essential