Category Archives: animated films

Sunday Post – 7th August

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Oscar has been staying with me this week. I don’t normally have a chance to spend long periods of time with him alone as he is the younger grandchild, so it has been a treat. He is a bright six-year-old who loves games, so as the weather has kept us indoors and we haven’t been able to have the car, we have been playing Dobble and Junior Scrabble and I have also begun teaching him the chess moves – he has picked them all up very fast, except for the pawns, which he finds very frustrating as they won’t do what he wants them to do! We went to see Finding Dory on Thursday and botfindingdoryh thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the beautiful underwater scenes and strong characterisation. The only grizzle I have is that Nemo’s bent fin – such an issue in the first film – now seems to be absolutely fine, which is a bit disappointing continuity-wise.

Yesterday afternoon, Oscar and I went to see Tim perform in Jungle Book, playing the part of Shere Khan at the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis. He was a wonderfully convincing baddie, growling and snarling his way through the show – and to think that just over a year ago, he wouldn’t consider playing anyone who was ‘nasty’ or ‘unhappy’. The speed he is progressing is amazing – it was wonderful seeing him on the stage enjoying himself and giving such a very strong performance.

This week I’ve managed to read:
The Dark Dream – Book 4 of The Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton
thedarkdreamIn this fourth BEAVER TOWERS adventure, Philip and old Mr Edgar set off on their travels so that Philip can learn how to use his powers to fight evil. But while they are away, the island itself is under threat from a strange creature named Retson. This time it is up to Baby B, the little beaver and Nick, the hedgehog, to save the day.
This is the final book in the series and once more, Hinton manages to up the stakes with one of the main protagonists putting the community of Beaver Towers in danger due to his own silly behaviour. While the Dark Lord is always more than willing to take advantage of any weakness. I shall be reviewing this book in due course.

 

Nevernight – Book 1 of The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking nevernightvengeance against the powers who destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Another gem from NetGalley, I have thoroughly enjoyed this one. Think of a very dark dystopian version of Hogwarts and you come slightly close to the atmosphere at the assassins’ school in the Red Church – please ignore the YA classification and keep this out of the hands of your younger teens before you have at least vetted it. This non-YA reader loved it…

 

The Steal – Book 3 of Star Wars Adventures in Wild Space by Cavan Scott
thestealStill on the hunt for their kidnapped parents, Milo and Lina Graf head to Lothal in search of an ally. But when something precious is stolen from them, they have to embark on their most dangerous mission yet. Will they succeed in THE STEAL?
Another children’s read – this is yet another slice in the ongoing travails endured by poor Milo and Lina in the desperate hunt for their parents. And this one leaves the pair on the real cliffhanger making me very glad I’ve got the next book for us to move onto.

 

 

Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Church of Armes of the Light has battled the forces of Darkness for as long as anyone can spiderlightremember. The great prophecy has foretold that a band of misfits, led by a high priestess will defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian, armed with their wits, the blessing of the Light and an artifact stolen from the merciless Spider Queen. Their journey will be long, hard and fraught with danger. Allies will become enemies; enemies will become allies. And the Dark Lord will be waiting, always waiting…

This is a joy. Tchaikovsky has taken some of the main tropes in epic fantasy – the struggle between Dark and Light; religious intolerance and infighting; a prophesy about a chosen one – and put his own unique spin on them. He is an intelligent, accomplished writer who also assumes his readers can keep up. So far 2016 has proved to be an amazing year – I can’t recall reading so many books of such quality – and this is yet another.

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 31st July

Review of After You Book 2 of the Me Before You series by JoJo Moyes

Teaser Tuesday – featuring Nevernight – Book 1 of The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of An Accident of Stars – Book 1 of The Manifold Worlds by Foz Meadows

Review of Solar Express by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Friday Faceoff – The First Men in the Moon featuring the book by H.G. Wells

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – July Roundup

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Over-Booked – the San Diego Comic Con 2016 Edition! http://booksbonesbuffy.com/2016/07/30/over-booked-53-the-san-diego-comic-con-2016-edition/ Tammy really provides a slice of what it is to be a fan at a busy con in this enjoyable article.

Lake Tekapo is the Sanctury You Need on a South Island Road Trip https://memoirsonthemove.com/2016/08/02/lake-tekapo-is-the-sanctuary-you-need-on-a-south-island-road-trip/ One of the joys of social media is being able to vicariously travel alongside folks experiencing the real thing, thanks to their gift for photography and word pictures. This is a stunning example.

Writers’ Other Hobbies: Polymer Clay http://melfka.com/archives/1895 I have all the artistic ability of a doorknob, so I am delighted to see what other people do with the slices of time they spend away from their computer screens.

Placeholder https://ginnibites.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/placeholder/ This sharp-edged, beautifully observed poem by Ginni is a gem.

The Problem with Female Protagonists – http://writerunboxed.com/2016/08/06/the-problem-with-female-protagonists/ If you haven’t yet visited this site and you are a writer, I recommend you do. And this depressing, articulate article may account for the reason that woman are regarded as secondary in far too many walks of life. Still.

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Review of the film Home

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I was delighted when the trailers started appearing to see another major family film featuring a science fiction theme. As a solid fan of the genre, anything that helps it break out into mainstream has to be a good thing. So when my grandson came to stay last week, I took him along to see it.

ohandtipWhen Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And while he changes her planet and she changes his world, they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

The cast is stellar – Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory stars as Oh, while Rihanna, Jennifer Lopaz, Steve Martin, Matt Jones and Dominique Monfery all very ably support him. The dialogue is sharp and humorous, with the main characters well depicted. Oh and Tip are both misfits in their own environments and their developing relationship has plenty of edges that provides interest and conflict while they are trying to flee/find family/save the planet. So far so good…

However, if you’re sensing a big BUT, you’d be right. If scriptwriters are going to use a science fiction theme, then it behoves them to ensure the plot is at least tight enough to pass muster at the very first sitting. And unfortunately Home can’t even pass this undemanding test. When the Boov alien nation decide to settle on Earth, they scoop up the whole of humanity and dump them in circular settlements in the middle of Australia in small, colonial-style houses jammed very closely together. And two weeks later, there doesn’t appear to be any breakdown in law and order, or unrest – everyone is just aimlessly wandering around. Neither is there any kind of aggression towards the Boov in the form of armies mustered to prevent them from moving into the human cities they have so recently hi-jacked.

Really?

I know it’s a film largely aimed at children – but this isn’t so much a plot hole as a gaping chasm. Most of the film, I ohandpigcatfound myself wondering what exactly would really happen if an alien species suddenly turned up and actually shunted our whole civilisation onto one continent in very crowded conditions. I’m betting that two weeks later, everyone wouldn’t be merely wandering around, looking a tad aggravated… And as for everyone happily co-existing afterwards – nope. Absolutely not. Reckon the Boov would find themselves the target for a huge amount of hatred.

So while the relationship between Tip and Oh works well, as soon as the film’s focus widens out to the broader storyline the whole narrative fell apart. There was simply none of the rigour shown in the wonderful Wall-E, which held together any way you looked at it. I found myself watching the beautiful graphics and superb acting – while trying to work out why all this effort and talent was being expended on a broken-backed story that didn’t work.

My other gripe was the other character – Pig-Cat. It is, apparently, perfectly acceptable to allow your cat become obese – and if not, then WHY does the main character possess an overweight cat glorying in the name of Pig? A whole range of activities such as running, climbing and jumping suddenly become a problem for obese cats, along with a shortened lifespan and constant health issues, which means this is just cruelty. I fail to see any merit in normalising the unacceptable practise of overfeeding pets to the point of injuring them, by featuring a fat cat in a mainstream family film.

But as far as I’m concerned, this is just another aspect of the sloppy, lazy thinking behind this lame project, which with a bit of extra effort could have been superb. Shame on you Dreamworks. You’re better than this.
4/10

Film Review of How To Train Your Dragon 2

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It’s always fun having the grandchildren to stay – and taking them to see a film is one of the treats I enjoy. So long as they enjoy the experience, too…

how to train your dragon2When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the centre of a battle to protect the peace. This film is set five years after the first hit, How To Train Your Dragon, with many of the characters who featured in that film returning. Hiccup is now on the edge adulthood and his father, Stoick, is keen for him to start taking on some of the day to day responsibilities necessary for running Berk. But Hiccup is absorbed in mapping the world as it unfolds beneath him and Toothless, as they continue winging their way through the skies, skimming the sea.

In common with many modern cartoons, the special effects – particularly the flying scenes are beautiful, as well as exciting. However, unlike the dreadful Planes, this film actually has a strong storyline and characters we care about, so manages not to fall into the trap of merely producing a series of arresting skyscapes and a few set pieces. It doesn’t hurt that the franchise is based on the very successful series books of the same name by Cressida Cowell – see my review of the book How To Train Your Dragon here. While the storyline and the characters don’t follow the same path as those of the twelve-book series,how to train your dragon2.jpg2 there are sufficient similarities that the films can utilise some of the strong main characters Cowell has created.

Hiccup and his relationship with Toothless is central to this film – if we aren’t convinced their bond is crucial to both of them, then the second half of the storyline simply won’t work. And it does… The touches of humour stopped it being too treacly – and the subsequent action then left me a bit poleaxed… Whatever I’d been expecting – it hadn’t been that.

SPOILER ALERT – So… was it a really enjoyable day out? Well, I loved the film and so did Frankie – but Oscar hated it. And if the children in your life have any issues around the loss of a father, I’d think twice before taking them to see it. While the quality of the film is excellent – I wouldn’t have taken the children to see it if I’d been aware of the whole story and who dies near the end.
9/10