Tuesday 25 June 2013

Book: The Good Girl by Sinclair Macleod

Insurance investigator turned private detective Craig Campbell returns in Sinclair Macleod’s sequel to The Reluctant Detective.

This time out Campbell takes on the case of a missing girl in St. Andrews, a Scottish town famous for its University and golf course which attracts visitors from all over.

The girl in question is a farm worker from Poland who came to Scotland so that she could help support the family back home. Her disappearance is reported by a fellow worker who is gravely concerned.

The investigation leads Campbell from the migrant worker community to the student body of the town and then into the world of escorts and prostitution.

Throw in a brilliant sub-plot with Craig’s feisty Mother looking into the discovery of a dead baby and you have all the ingredients of an excellent thriller that manages to retain a light-hearted tone thanks to Campbell’s humorous outlook.

Before picking this up I’d recommend reading the first in the series as there are several references to past events. In any case I always find that any book in a series is more enjoyable if you know the characters history.

The Good Girl is another brilliant example of the current Scottish crime fiction scene.

Ric's Rating: Highly Recommended

Monday 24 June 2013

Film: World War Z

A virus outbreak that turns people into vicious killers quickly traverses the globe and in order to ensure that his family is protected former United Nations representative Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) must return to the field and search for the origin of the virus.

World War Z immediately throws the viewer into the heart of the action as a seemingly ordinary day descends into a fight for survival for the Lane family. 

Following the explosive opening sequence (partly filmed in my home city of Glasgow) we are off on a round-the-world trip with Lane as he looks for clues to explain what the virus is and how it can be combated.

It seems that reports of re-shoots, re-edits, arguments and studio interference may have put people of this unnecessarily. Regardless of how the movie came to be in its finished state there is no doubt that this is the best zombie film since the brilliant 28 Days Later.

The undead featured here are like a pack of hungry wolves and even move like them on occasion. Pitt is as charismatic as ever as the determined investigator and the supporting cast (including The Killing’s Marielle Enos) all perform well, even the zombies!

World War Z is an action-fest with cool zombies and a bona-fide superstar getting right in the middle of it. What more could you ask for? A bit more emotion maybe.

Check it out in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Film: Movie 43

Three teenagers trawl the internet for the elusive Movie 43 and in the process discover a plethora of weird videos.

The film takes place entirely in the boys bedroom with all the videos featured being viewed on-line. The sketches include Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman on a blind date, a young couple attempting to share a “special” moment and Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant playing a game of Truth or Dare that knows no bounds.

Despite boasting a star-studded cast this was universally panned on its release and it’s easy to see why. Most of the jokes are either in bad taste or very offensive but what has to be pointed out is…….some of them are funny.

I won’t spoil what the sketches are about but the word “gross” just doesn't seem to cut it here. There were quite a few times when I was either uncomfortable or about to switch off but then something pretty funny would happen to ease the tension.

Movie 43 is definitely not for everyone but if you can imagine some of the funny but borderline sick videos available on-line then you should be able to handle it.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy       

Saturday 22 June 2013

TV DVD: The Fall

Gillian Anderson (The X Files) plays DSI Gibson, a top cop from London sent to help the Belfast police with an ongoing murder investigation in this 5 part British tv drama.

Gibson soon realises that several unsolved murders are connected and informs the team that they are looking for one man and unlike recent tv hit Broadchurch we are left in no doubt who that man is.

Right from the beginning we see that the murderer is Paul Spector, a family man and grief councillor played brilliantly by Jamie Dornan (Once Upon A Time).

Both points of view are presented as equally important. Gibson struggles with personal issues while working the case and Spector attempts to maintain the facade of all-round nice guy while he slowly unravels.

This is absorbing and often uncomfortable viewing. The scenes involving Spector’s young daughter are 
particularly upsetting as the young girl slowly discovers that something about Dad just isn’t right.

The Fall is an excellent complex and multi-layered drama which continues the recent run of high quality tv being produced in the UK.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended 

Thursday 13 June 2013

Film: Entity

A British tv crew head to remote Russia to explore the place where 32 bodies were discovered.

A renowned psychic (Dervla Kirwan) is part of the crew and she soon begins to see visions of the dead who lead her and the team to an abandoned building.

Needless to say this was the scene of some pretty horrific crimes and some strange forces still linger.

Fans of Paranormal Activity may enjoy Entity but if, like me, you are tired of the whole found footage / shaky camera genre then any interest in this will quickly evaporate.

Entity is available on DVD in the UK from 24th June 2013.

Ric's Rating: Poor

Wednesday 12 June 2013

TV DVD: Wrestlemania 29

The biggest event on the pro-wrestling calendar has been with us for almost 30 years. That in itself is a huge testament to all involved, both past and present.

The presence of wrestler turned movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (see review of Fast & Furious 6) helped ensure that this year’s event took place in front of an astonishing 80,000 fans. On offer for them was a selection of matches which included:

Ryback v Mark Henry
Chris Jericho (who is now a also a tv presenter) v Fandango (an updated Disco Inferno)
The Undertaker (going for his 21st win at ‘mania) v CM Punk
Triple H v Brock Lesnar (former UFC champion)
and the main event of John Cena v The Rock for the heavyweight title.

Disc 2 of this set contains footage from the Hall Of Fame ceremony which honours the contributions of a selected group of individuals to the world of wrestling.

The rest of the Hall Of Fame is on disc 3 but be warned the speeches do tend to go on......and on.

There is more than enough here to entertain fans of all ages but it could never match up to the early events with comic book type characters like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, although the vast crowd in attendance may disagree.

Wrestlemania 29 is available on DVD in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Good 

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Film: Fast & Furious 6

Dom (Vin Diesel) and the gang are back in the latest instalment of the fast car series and this time they’re on the right side of the law.

Following their exploits in Rio the guys are living the good life but old adversary Agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) soon turns up with a startling proposition.

Hobbs needs their help to track down an elite military group who are using all types of vehicles to commit robberies but they aren’t just stealing money or jewels, their swag is much more dangerous.

The action is mostly set in London (with scenes shot in my own city, Glasgow) but the dull atmosphere doesn’t match up to the location of the previous film. The CCTV monitored streets of London don’t make for as entertaining viewing as the violent favelas of Brazil. There are also lots of poor attempts at humour that the film could’ve done without, especially the pompous English car salesman, it just wasn’t funny.

Luckily the story begins to grip in the second half of the film. The re-appearance of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and the perilous situation Dom’s sister (Jordana Brewster) finds herself in adds an edge to the action.

The action scenes themselves are once again wonderfully staged. Throw in Hobbs and Dom fighting together instead of against each other this time and there is more than enough bone-crunching to go round.

To get the most out of this I’d recommend watching the previous films. Tokyo Drift isn’t necessary but we do finally catch up with the distorted timeline of that film in a nice after credits scene.

Fast & Furious 6 comes across as The Expendables on wheels and fans of either franchise will enjoy. Catch it in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Good.