Author Archives: ward

Sharknado

Among the many random ways I make a living, one of the more fun things I do is work freelance for the Syfy channel. Which is much as you would expect – there is lots of Star Trek Next Gen in HD (which is good),  but there are also films like The Human Centipede (which are mind destroyingly, eye gougingly awful).

Titanic 2 – look out for the iceberg! And the tsunami!

There are also films by people like The Asylum. The Asylum are a low budget film production company that have apparently never lost money. They make a variety of films that are nearly all the kind of cheesy horror / schlock nonsense that I have always enjoyed. They have no artistic merit, are poorly acted and scripted, and are always fun. They have made films that mimic Hollywood blockbusters like: Titanic 2 (spoiler: an iceberg in a tidal wave!), Snakes on a Train (guess what happens), The Day The Earth Stopped, and the more recent Atlantic Rim (see what they did?).

Mega Piranha

They have also done some monster flicks, which just seem to be getting better and better. I thought they had peaked with Mega Piranha, or Mega Python vs Gatoroid – which has Tiffany ‘I think we’re alone now’ in it, wrestling with Debbie Gibson just before they’re all attacked by giant beasties! Genuis.

Recently, however, they have been excelling themselves with what I like to call their ‘Shark Period’. Mega Shark fought a few memorable battles: first against Crocosaurus, then against Giant Octopus. Then, some evil mastermind fused them together and gave us the epic Sharktopus.

Two Headed Shark Attack

A particular favourite of mine, until now, was the awesome Two Headed Shark Attack. Carmen Electra in a bikini takes a load of teenagers, also mostly in bikinis, to a remote island. Where they are picked off, two by two, by a mutant two headed shark. Sometimes while topless. Fuck it, here’s a trailer:

SHARKNADO

But now all things seem to have a spectacular shark-filled climax. Their films usually have people you have vaguely seen before and this time it’s thingy and whatsit from the original Beverly Hills 90210 facing massive peril. The premise is this: a massive tornado hits a town and IT’S FULL OF SHARKS!

I know, you are probably reeling from the sheer inventiveness of their ideas but take a deep breath and stay calm. Because there is a trailer and it’s fucking awesome. These Asylum films aren’t for everyone but if you liked old school B/cult movies you might find these fun. I do. Without further ado, I give you SHARKNADO!

Game of Thrones 3

Game of Thrones

Am I talking about the book or the series? Actually both. My life seems to have been pretty dominated by Game of Thrones at the moment. I had previously read books 1 and 2 a while back, so it was great to watch the series. Then I took a bit of a break and read a ton of Science Fiction. Returning to the fantasy genre, I read the Assassin’s (Farseer) trilogy by Robin Hobb, followed by Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. Both of which were awesome and also come highly recommended with the promise from my good self of a review any second now.

When Game of Thrones season 3 began, I was in something of a quandary. I found that I increasingly had to leave rooms and pub conversations as people kept talking about it. I wanted to read it before I saw the show but the books are bloody epic. Book 3, A Storm of Swords was split in two separate books as most people don’t posses the musculature of the characters in the show and were therefore unable to carry it around. The TV show was mostly the first book, Steel and Snow, and I thought I would read just that. I could read it at a leisurely pace and eventually watch the show at some point when it had finished. Perhaps wait till the Blu Ray.

Then an episode came out that almost meant I couldn’t even go on Facebook for fear of spoilers as all my annoying friends mentioned the trauma experienced after watching it. The episode is now known as ‘The Red Wedding’. If you have seen the show, you probably remember it. The series finished soon after and amidst all the raving reviews and tales of harrowing viewing experiences, I learned that there are scenes from the second part of book three, Blood and Gold, that also appear in the season. The pricks.

So I downloaded the whole of book 3, A Storm of Swords onto my kindle and have done little else but read for the last week.

It has been well worth it. This isn’t so much a review of Game of Thrones but more of an excuse as to why I haven’t done much else with my time, including writing. If you want a review and are into fantasy then here you go:

Game of Thrones books 1 to 3 = Bloody Great!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have 10 hours of season 3 to watch.

Here is a trailer for season 3 because… well, why not? If you’ve seen the show already, just enjoy. If you’ve just read the books, watch the show! If neither, then I recommend quickly reading several thousand pages, followed by hours of your life watching seasons 1 and 2 and you’re good to go.

 

Star Trek versus Star Wars

I should point out now that this is not an article comparing the two. Because that would be stupid and something only idiots would debate about. They are utterly different types of Scifi and I love them both dearly (except cute things in Star Wars and hippy episodes of Trek).

Empire of America.

Having said that this clip is pretty dumb. I just thought I would share it as it is pretty well made and someone put a lot of effort in, and one day they might make something more plausible. Here is the premise:

The Empire in Star Wars is actually America for some reason. Although they have advanced technology San Francisco is the same as now. Maybe they invaded.

Then the Enterprise comes to visit. From the clip, it looks like it was Star Trek 4 and they are bringing a whale back from the 1980s. This pisses off the Empire.

Give it a watch and see what you think. It is undeniably well made:

There are so many problems that I, a self confessed geek, have with this. If it is the the Enterprise returning whales to the sea from Star Trek 4, then why aren’t they in a Klingon Bird of Prey (which can also cloak)? Surely the Enterprise can scan the Death Star and see it is a threat? Why do they hang around? What’s with the reference to the Kobiyashi Maru? (That was a famous unwinnable Trek simulation that Kirk beats by cheating but why would the news caster know about it?) Also, the newscaster mentions the Sea Shepherd from Discovery Channel’s Whale Wars which means this is modern time, so who the fuck are the Empire? Invaders from the past? Why can’t the Enterprise just beam the Whales straight into the sea? Why does the Empire attack? What? Why?

Alright, I’ll shut up. It just makes so little sense it annoyed me a bit. But as I said, well made, so I thought I would share.

Star Trek Into Darkness review

Star Trek Into Darkness

I saw Star Trek Into Darkness the other day (at bloody last) and loved it. If I get a day off, I might go and see it again.

First off, the plot. I won’t go into this too much in case you haven’t seen it. Basically, there is a terrorist afoot and he blows up a small chunk of London when he attacks a Starfleet installation. The terrorist is English (as our accent sounds the most evil and intelligent) and used to be a Starfleet agent. This pisses Kirk off and he asks to pursue the bad guy. That’s as much as I can say.

The movie opens on what feels like an incredibly exciting episode of Star Trek. Frankly, Star Trek Into Darkness could have just consisted of the crew going from one mini adventure to the next and I would have been happy. This sequence gives you a bit of characterisation and a bit of insight into how they now function as a crew. It mostly feels like a mini Trek intro movie like you get with a James Bond film. Exciting as hell but with a tenuous link to the main plot. Then the main movie kicks in and things get more epic.

The set action pieces are spectacular and the 3D is done well. Some people have complained that perhaps they go on a bit too long but I guess that is a matter of taste. And also a matter them being wrong. The action was awesome.

It is the characters and dialogue that really shine. Not only are the dynamics between the characters further established and believable, they are also intelligent and funny. The whole Kirk/Spock thing is the main focus but Sulu, Uhura, Bones and Scotty are great in their supporting roles. Especially the latter two, who get a bit more screen time in this one. Particular praise has to go to Cumberbatch though, who is just superb. He is menacing and intelligent and hard as nails. The acting is a real highpoint in this movie.

Cumberbatch looking menacing

The vast majority of Star Trek Into Darkness reviews, like this one, have been massively positive. Most of the criticism has to do with lens flare effects or minor plot holes (most of which are incorrect and deal with accents or skin colour or how spaceships in the future work or other pointless bollocks). Abrams has taken an established bad guy and let it play out completely differently (with some great mirroring to the original unmentioned film/episode). Some have complained that is misses out on the thoughtful exploratory scifi that played a bigger role in the TV series. They have a point I suppose, but all Trek movies are on a bigger scale with more effects. That’s the point of them. Otherwise it is just a long episode in the cinema, which some of the later Next Gen films felt like.

I think Star Trek Into Darkness is bloody superb. It is fun, exciting and should please Trekkies (like me) and non-Trekkies alike (my wife loved it – although she has a thing for intelligent, sophisticated Englishmen). I think this ‘enjoyment by most people’ was the point. And it succeeds. Highly recommended.

In case you are undecided, here’s a trailer:

 

 

 

Wool Trilogy 1 by Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey is brilliant. I suggest you buy it now. See the link below for the US kindle version (most of my readers are in the US), and thank me later.

I really can’t write too much without giving away the story. Essentially, everyone lives underground in a giant silo in a post apocalyptic world. Every floor is large, with its own function, and there are over 100 floors. It’s pretty damn big. By why is everyone there? What has happened to humanity? And what the hell is with the weird taboos and the process known as ‘cleaning’?

The book slowly reveals the secrets of the silo and the world outside through a great cast of characters. At times it felt a bit like Lost, I was desperate to see what was really going on and what would happen next. Fortunately however, Wool also has a totally satisfying explanation.

I loved this book. It got me into one of those moods where I get massively excited when I realise I have an hour or two spare and can read.

To illustrate how good it is, I should mention Hugh Howey’s own story. In 2011, Howey was bored of his job and decided to write a scifi novella and self publish it on the kindle. It sold well, so he wrote four more. These sold even better. By the end of the five novellas (the er, trilogy), Ridley Scott had read it and optioned it for a film and Howey found himself a millionaire from digital sales alone. The publishers came along and, unbelievably, Howey managed to sell the rights to just the print version while keeping full rights to the digital kindle version. He now does very well indeed.

And it is totally justified. Wool, as I mentioned, is brilliant.

Buy Wool on kindle by click on this.

 

 

Ender’s Game movie trailer

Ender’s Game

Well, it seems to be happening and, like many of my friends, I’m a bit anxious. On the one hand, the Ender’s Game book by Orson Scott Card was incredible and I am fed up with being disappointed by movie adaptations which don’t do justification to their source material. On the other hand, sometimes the movies are good and this trailer looks frackin’ awesome!
http://youtu.be/vP0cUBi4hwE