Wednesday 24 July 2013


A Mother attempts to keep her wayward Sons out of trouble, an illegal immigrant wants out of the life she has, a former drug addict tries to stay clean and a Polish immigrant discovers that her boyfriend has been murdered. These are the four connected stories that make up this UK tv drama which was recently shown on Channel 4.

Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) delivers another fine performance as the long-suffering Mother but it’s Lennie James’ portrayal of former addict Richie that really steals the show. The episode where he just can’t seem to catch a break while attempting to mend his relationship with his daughter is by far the best of the series.

Run is a well written drama with good performances all round but it does suffer from a severe lack of humour. The makers of these types of shows would do well to remember that real life, even in the most trying circumstances, often makes us laugh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for a comedy but a series like this is crying out for one or two lighter moments.

Run is available on DVD now in the UK.

Ric’s Rating: Good

Monday 22 July 2013

Film: Pacific Rim

Take the best (and some of the worst) elements of Transformers, Godzilla, Armageddon, Real Steel, Top Gun and Starship Troopers and you end up with Guillermo Del Toro’s Robots Vs. Monsters mash-up starring Charlie Hunnam (Sons Of Anarchy) and Idris Elba (Luther).

The Earth is under attack from huge monsters knows as Kaijus so the World unites to combat the common enemy. Their solution is to build robots of similar size to the beasts, these robots are piloted by two humans and fully loaded with all kinds of weapons, they are known as Jaegers. Initially the Jaegers repel the threat but soon the Kaijus develop new ways to attack and the Jaegers (and their pilots) are deemed redundant.

Led by Commander Pentecost (Elba) a small group continue to pilot the remaining Jaegers and come up with a plan to eliminate the threat for good.

Dominated by CGI fights this is very silly at times but in a cheesy sort of way it remains enjoyable, if you can get past the first 30mins or so. Hunnam is fine as the jaded Jaeger pilot brought out of retirement for the final mission and Idris Elba exudes authority as the officer in charge. There is also a cool turn from Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy) but the two scientists are very irritating indeed.

If you can see past the dodgy dialogue and often unintentionally funny monsters this is an easy viewing adventure that requires no thinking on the part of the audience.

Pacific Rim is in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy.    

Monday 15 July 2013

Film: Dark Skies

Something strange is happening in the Barrett family home. There are noises during the night and wife & Mother Lacy even wakens up to find an elaborate structure made out of household items. Are the children suffering from a sleep disorder or is there something more sinister going on?

Soon young Sam mentions “The Sandman” who comes to his room at night and events spiral out of control when both parents begin to have seizures. All of this does teenager Jesse’s blossoming love life no good at all.

The title probably gives away the cause of these events but I’m not going to do it here as the less you know the better.

The tension mounts gradually and there are some very creepy moments leading to a nerve-shredding climax with a nifty twist.

Dark Skies is available on DVD in the UK from 5th August 2013.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Saturday 13 July 2013

Film: Maniac

From the brutal opening scene this re-make of the 1980 film leaves the viewer in no doubt what this is all about. I suppose the title is a bit of a clue as well.

Elijah Wood (The Lord Of The Rings) is Frank Zito, a loner who lives in the run-down shop previously owned by his Mother. Their business was restoring mannequins but these days Frank spends more time talking to the dolls than repairing them.

When he isn’t interacting with the mannequins Frank goes cruising for victims who are despatched with increasingly graphic and violent methods, ending with Frank’s own peculiar fetish.

A professional photographer asks if she can use the mannequins in her exhibition and an uneasy friendship begins. Of course Frank’s distorted view of reality soon becomes apparent leading to trouble for all involved.

I haven’t seen the original but I imagine that this is a pretty close re-make. There are many scenes saw through Frank’s eyes and the soundtrack has a seventies slasher movie feel to it. Elijah Wood proves that his creepy turn in Sin City was no fluke as he delivers another convincing portrayal of a deranged killer.

The extreme violence here will put people off and despite the explanation of how the main character came to be what he is there is a distinct lack of any redeeming features.

Maniac falls into the category inhabited by films like Irreversible and the I Spit On Your Grave re-make in that it isn’t exactly a pleasant experience but I have to admire the gutsy presentation of horrible events and the exploration of a disturbed mind.

Ric’s Rating: Good.       

Saturday 6 July 2013

Film: Slice & Dice: The Slasher Film Forever

This documentary film explores the history of the slasher movie. Love them or hate them you simply can’t ignore them and everyone has a favourite slasher movie bad guy. Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees have been with us for around 30 years and survived countless rubbish sequels and re-makes of varying quality.

Slice & Dice explores the origins of the genre. Psycho features heavily and the “video nasties” of the late seventies / early eighties are also covered extensively. Contributors include Corey Feldman, Tobe Hooper and Tom Holland along with recent slasher type directors Patrick Lussier and Jeffrey Reddick.

Unfortunately this is a bit too laden down with clips. There are countless showings of beheadings and various other death scenes and these too vary greatly in quality. From grainy straight to video flicks like The Burning to recent re-makes like My Bloody Valentine 3D.

This is more aimed at the slasher movie connoisseur than the casual fan but the feature packed 2 disc set does contain some fantastic footage that helps increase the value of the package on offer.

Slice & Dice: The Slasher Film Forever is available on DVD in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Good.    

Friday 5 July 2013

Book: Sinema 3: The Troy Consortium by Rod Glenn

Hannibal Whitman returns in the third instalment of Rod Glenn’s serial-killer thriller series.

The world thinks Whitman is dead but he has been secretly rescued, rehabilitated and trained by a secretive organisation known as The Troy Consortium. Their purpose is to eliminate any form of threat to Great Britain that the courts can’t deal with.

Whitman, his appearance altered, is soon set up with a new identity, but it isn’t long until the consortium hand him his first murderous assignment.

Things work well for a while and despite Han’s longing for certain elements of his previous life he begins to settle into his new persona, and excels in his work for the consortium.

Events take a surprising turn when the powers-that-be decide to get rid of all of their “assets” leaving Han and his new-found allies no option but to fight back.

Following some spectacularly violent action scenes, which have become the hallmark of this series, we find ourselves back in the setting for the first Sinema novel, Haydon.

Haydon is now a ghost town of Whitman’s making which is haunted by the spirits of former friends that became victims in the notorious “experiment”.    

The reformation of a diabolical character continues here as this time out we are firmly behind Whitman, especially when a feared adversary threatens his former lover.

Sinema 3 is a continuation of the previous books and won’t work if you haven’t read the others, but if you’re a fan of serial-killer stories that aren't predictable whodunits then do yourself a favour and read this fantastic trilogy.

Click the Rod Glenn label for my reviews of the previous books and more.

Ric’s Rating: Essential.