Category Archives: Review

Review: Bible of Butchery – Cannibal Corpse The Official Biography

Bible of Butchery - Cannibal Corpse The Official Biography
Bible of Butchery – Cannibal Corpse The Official Biography by Joel McIver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a bad read and as decent a history of the band as you’re likely to find.

Based on interviews with the band done quite recently and released to tie in with the new “A Skeletal Domain” album, “Bible of Butchery” makes for a good companion tome. Its weak point is there’s really nothing new or massively revelatory within its pages.

There’s a potted band history and a first-person biography of each member, plus a selection of song lyrics some of which are briefly annotated. In addition, there’s a longer interview section towards the end with more up-to-date questions which covers the bands’ individual touring memories and the like.

Chris Barnes’ time in the band is, of course, mentioned and the terms of his departure aren’t exactly skimmed over. While it’s a part of the current members’ history I’m sure they’re glad is in the past, it would have been good to have had something more details from around that time – and the cherry on top would of course have been to hear Chris’s side of the story. I’m sure there are reasons for that being missing (not least of which is whether Chris wants to talk about it or not), but if there was the ideal place for it to be published then this was it.

The presentation is top notch – Brian J Ames should take a bow – and there are plenty of photos scattered around the blood-trimmed pages to really flesh it out.

I enjoyed reading it, but I think the fact that the band are so damn nice and there’s been relatively (and surprisingly!) little controversy in Cannibal Corpse’s 25 years, the overall story isn’t as full of ups, downs, twists and so forth that could make it more interesting.

For the completist and the mad fan, there’s probably not another book that comes close to covering the band’s history and for this reason I’d recommend it. That and the great artwork.

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Review: Armageddon Outta Here

Armageddon Outta Here
Armageddon Outta Here by Derek Landy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great collection, though some completists will likely already have about half of the material already. What’s left, though, is typically excellent.

A handful of short stories which introduce new characters – some of whom have already made appearances in the novels – and a couple which tie in with major plot threads.

Cream of the crop is one which sits nicely on its own, and doesn’t have any real attachment to any of the existing storylines – Get Thee Behind Me, Bubba Moon. Probably the creepiest story I’ve ever read by Landy.

Some may see it as a way of extending the now-finished Skulduggery series (the final book was published this month), but there’s enough original content in here to make it worth the purchase/library loan.

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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Console Wars is John Grisham for nerds. Predominantly coming over as a “good guy vs the big bad corporation” story, and filled with industry insider detail it’s a surprisingly easy read.

The Sega / Nintendo generation was one I was part of chronologically, but not actually involved in. We had an Atari VCS which led the charge in home consoles before (partly down to wonders such as the E.T. game) crashing spectacularly and taking the whole concept of the “home arcade” with it. By that time, we’d moved onto computers (a Sinclair ZX-81 followed by an Amstrad, then Amiga and onto PCs), which was more common in the UK as opposed to the console-friendly US where Nintendo went on to corner the market.

Until Sega came along.

Console Wars is that story. The battle for market dominance between Mario and Sonic, bracketed by the demise of Atari and the rise of Sony. There are tons of little facts and background stories in here without it coming across as a book of nerd trivia. It’s about the story and the characters first and foremost.

At 558 pages it’s no lightweight, but it’s also not a coffee table book. This is written to be read, not just glanced through occasionally.

If you’re looking for a gift for the geek in your life that’ll get them off the internet for a while yet still keep them quiet, this will almost certainly go down well.

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Film review: The Unbeatables

120px-film-strip2Been ages since I did a review, but seeing as I got in to see this one as a free preview I kind of feel obligated to return the favour and rattle off a few words. Little Mister and I nabbed free tickets to see it at the Showcase and had a nice morning together!

The Unbeatables

“Show us your cross, father!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Bad guy becomes megastar and buys out his old village, only the old foosball table has other ideas…

Released in Latin America during World Cup year, this has probably made its money back already – simply because attaching a football to anything over there pretty much guarantees a sale. From what I gathered from the producer credits at the start, it’s an Argentinian film and not originally in English, but the cast used for “our” version are very good and the dub is – on the whole – well done. I’m pretty sure a fair few of the jokes have been tweaked for a British audience, which shows a bit of extra thought from the film-makers.

Despite a couple of the lines falling rather flat – jokes that just don’t work – the vast majority is good to excellent with some really sneaky throwaway lines which will tickle the funny bones of football fans. Talking of bones, sci-fi film geeks will appreciate the pre-opening credits sequence…

The story is nothing special in terms of kids’ films, in that there’s a poor, downtrodden good guy up against an all-powerful baddie. There’s a girl who needs to be “got”, a village to be saved, and so on. But there aren’t any original stories any more. It’s how you dress them up that’s important and The Unbeatables does a good job. The animation is superb with a good mixture of humour, slapstick and wonderful imagination. In terms of looks I’d say it’s close to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs but with more realistic (i.e. less cartoony) texturing.

What was more important was that Little Mister enjoyed it. He’s six and not the biggest football fan in the world (though he did sit through a few of the World Cup games with daddy this year!), but when I asked him for his favourite bit when we left the cinema, he said he couldn’t pick one as he’d enjoyed the whole thing! The general reaction in the cinema was positive, from what I could hear, with adults chuckling to some of the dialogue and children laughing out loud at the visuals.

Overall, very glad we went and the concrete test is that had we paid for tickets I’d have been every bit as happy. Good stuff and well done to the film-makers. It’s good to see that it’s not just the big boys who can make quality CGI animated features.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

120px-film-strip2Despite a night with no sleep courtesy of a vomiting baby, we staggered into the Glasgow IMAX screen for the 11:00 showing. Best seats in the house, as well!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

“Soon, everyone in the city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy, without Spider-Man!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: The continuing adventures of Spidey, the return of Harry Osborn and the rise of Electro

See it if you like: Seriously? You need this information about a superhero film?

This films seems to be dividing the film-going public, at least as far as those I know who’ve caught it. Personally, I really enjoyed it. Gillian pretty much enjoyed it. One of my pupils labelled it “alright, I suppose” while a facebook friend dropped it into the “shit” box. Even so, the one thing most people do seem to agree on is that it’s better than the previous installment.

One point to make clear – and a thing that was worrying me from the trailer – is that the film doesn’t feature that many villains, at least certainly not all at once in a big battle or anything. It’s all the better for it, too. You can have too much of a good thing, and with a character like Spiderman, plot is as important as action. I’d not want to see him battling four villains simultaneously – it would just be messy.

Instead, we have one main villain in Electro (Jamie Foxx) whose development and origin are paced and explored much as Spidey’s was in the last film. I won’t spoil too many details of the others in the film!

Visually, this is one of the best superhero films I’ve seen bar none. Especially in 3D on an IMAX screen, the web-slinging scenes of Spiderman (Andrew Garfield) swooping and tumbling from location to location are staggeringly well done. Perilous drops, acrobatic flips and physically accurate (as a “proportionate strength of a spider human being” can be, I guess) movement.

There are moment where I felt that the pace dropped a little too low, but this was offset with plenty of little references to keep an eye/ear out for and the excellent comic timing and intonation of Garfield. People have generally responded negatively to his portrayal of the Webbed Wonder, but in this film I think he’s nailed it. Definitely not trying to be Tobey Maguire, instead marking his own territory.

When I’m absolutely exhausted, I usually don’t enjoy watching films much as I’m too tired and fidgety. Despite this, I really did enjoy this outing for the Webslinger and would happily recommend it. But, as I say, you may not fall on the same side of the fence as me.

One disappointment – the mid-credit teaser for another film (I won’t spoil the surprise) is not included in the IMAX presentation. You’ll only see it on regular screens. Boo.