Film review: Hardcore Henry (violence, gore and motion sickness)

Wow  :-O

Well… I really don’t know how to describe this one. It’s a low-budget action movie, short on plot, big on a set pieces. It has something to do with an albino meglomaniac (why do albinos get such bad press in these films?) and a cyborg army constructed from resurrected corpses. I sort of lost the thread early on, but it was either hang on to it or hang on to my lunch, and since the local cineplex has just had new seats fitted…

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Film review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

I’m one of the Hunger Games’ unlikely fans: I didn’t think I’d like it, but the first two were brilliant (we should see more of Donald Sutherland). Mockingjay Part 1 was okay (kind of), and having seen Part 2, I’m pretty sure that’s where they should have stopped at Part 1

Yes, it was beautifully shot: the actions scenes were real edge-of-your-seat stuff, and the sets were breathtaking. The acting didn’t disappoint (no one’s going to win an oscar, but the performances were creditable).

So, my only real problem was with the movie itself: what was the point? Aside from the obvious (to make the studios a big pot of money), I struggled to see what they were aiming for. I had a similar problem with the Fantastic Four, except that film had been cut to fit into ninety minutes, Mockingjay 2 had been stretched to cover two and a half hours.

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There was an awful lot of travelling about; a lot deep, meaningless conversations in rooms alternating between pitch black and blazingly lit; the heroine wandered back and forth between home and the frontline while sighing and gazing into the middle distance… I started wondering if this could have all been wrapped up in Mockingjay Part 1 with a bit of judicious editing. Maybe not, but there certainly wasn’t enough here for two and half hours.  I guess that the studio (quite rightly) wanted to feel that the audience was getting its money’s worth; I’m just not sure this was the way to do it.

Still, if you’re a Hunger Games fan then you’re going to see it to find out what happens, and so you should. (Just don’t worry too much if you show up late). There are a few interesting twists along the way, though you won’t be hard pressed to see them coming, and as I said, Donald Sutherland was manically brilliant.

Five out of ten.

 

Book review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

I was a bit surprised when this one turned up in my ‘recommended’ list. I blasted through The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo series and thought that would be the end of it since the original author, Stieg Larsson, has passed away.  This fourth outing sees Mikail Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander thrown together again for another intricately woven conspiracy which seemed to be  aimed squarely at computer geeks. The new writers, David Lagercrantz & George Goulding, have made a commendable effort, though I think they’ve possibly missed out on much the shock value of the original. I wonder if it was toned down slightly to appeal to a wider audience. The characterisations are good, and for those familiar with the originals, might seem a little bit wordy. I was left thinking, “I know all this about her”, but then I guess a lot of people this might be their first Lisbeth Salander novel, so I didn’t get too hung up on it.

the_girl_in_the_spider_webLikewise with the technical detail; no prior knowledge is assumed so the first part of the book is a crash course in computer hacking and security (with a little bit of cryptography thrown in for good measure). I did find this a little bit dull, but again that could be because I know little bit about this stuff already. Still, I’m not sure it was entirely needed, certainly not all of it.

This isn’t one of the those book that goes in for the whole ‘show don’t tell’ style of writing. It’s unashamedly a tech thriller, so you were handed all the facts about someone’s life history and personality in one easily digestible paragraph. Got all that? Good, then let’s crack on … Still, I do prefer to discover people, rather than just be handed a dossier on them.

Despite the huge cast list and the complexities of the plot, the whole piece held together extremely well. I did find myself getting lost in one or two places, but the occasional literary signpost soon had me back on track. The writing style itself was fairly stark but not at all taxing to read.

So, information dumps aside, a really enjoyable book – though I’m not sure it’s quite reached the level of the originals.

A respectable six out of ten.