Friday, 27 February 2009

Marillion Fandom

Yet another thread on how long people have been marillion fans on the Marillion Official Forum, prompted me to blog my Marillion fan story;

1985 (I think) get presented with MC, Fugazi, Script. Go out and initially buy the Market Square Hero 12". I loved it all especially GRENDEL!!!!
1986 - Turn down the chance of going to see the MC tour. What a frickin numpty :oops:
1987 - buy Clutching At Straws on day of release.
1988 - mourn the loss of Fish! It's over!
1989 - Somehow hear that Marillion are to release a new LP. Swear a bit but hear the single. Not particularly impressed. Who's Steve Hogarth? The voice is too rich for my tastes then. But After Me captures my romantic side and it was the Summer of Love. Buy the CD; think that it's ok, but Marillion are over. :lol: Classic!
Loads of people with sense go to see Marillion live and have a great time, then follow the band, naturally. I end up listening to any old bollox and lose my classic rock sense.
1991 - I buy HiE on cassette (PhuckWit) This is on the strength of the single, notably The Party. No-One Can becomes a song I associate with my fiancee at the time.
1992 - No-One Can becomes an ironic stab in the heart as things change in my life. Friend hands me Generation Terrorist by the Manics and my music taste changes once again.
1995 - I see a 99p CD single from Marillion with a strange cover (from Brave). This makes me buy the album Brave and it moves me like no other. What do I do? Not a lot. i was not a great fan of live music (dont snigger at the back, it's true).
The next few years get sketchy, but I end up gettin the net and signing up for the Marillion newsletter. I get to hear about .com and very nearly send a picture.
I hear a free MP3 of 21st century and get pleasantly surprised that it's a departure but still Marillion at the core.
The Anorak spec ed had passed me by.
Then, thanks Lucy! The remasters get released. The first four albums were always favourites of mine despite the change in music taste to the Manics, Grunge and "rave" - well, The Shamen. SE over the years had become a favourite too, along with HiE. So I buy the remasters. I bought Brave too because I it was another album that stood out for me, and was played a lot.
I bought .com on the cheap, played it didn't like it. The same with Radiation. if I saw a Marillion album cheap i'd buy it but I really wasn't ready.
FFW to Autumn 2003, I get the newsletter about a 2-CD set that we can pay for in advance. Why the heck I thought this would be a good thing to do, given my ambivalence towards the band I don't know. Call it fate, i guess. So, I'm in.
I joined the Web for the free CD. I liked the mags so felt that I should join the Forum online, to see what Marillion fans are really like.
2004 - Marbles drops on the mat. First disc goes in. invisible Man starts up, and...God, is this it? Wasn't sold. Yet, I loved the rest.
it spurred me on to going to the Birmingham HMV signing. I met some fellow fans and from then on my world changed for the better. i joined the FRC and went to the social (soundcheck) and Web warm up show. I met some great friends through all this and decided to go to the convention in 2005. Meanwhile i was collecting all the Marillion material I could, that I didn't already have. You see, I had learned to appreciate the quality of H's voice. Invisible Man became one of my favourite live tracks because of the passion that H brings t the performance.
So, all in all, I've only really been a "proper" fan for about 5 years, yet a fan for about 24 years.

Movie News: From Russia With Love Re-Release

Want to experience Classic Bond on the Big Screen? UK readers will soon be able to do just that!
From 24 April, a restored version of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is returning to cinemas nationwide, in celebration of the centenary of producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.
Broccoli formed EON Productions and Danjaq, with Harry Saltzman, to make DR NO, launching James Bond onto the big screen in 1962. When Saltzman later sold his shares of the two companies to United Artists, Broccoli became sole producer of the Bond films.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, originally released in 1963, has been digitally restored frame by frame by Lowry Digital Images, the world’s leader in digital restoration and image enhancement. The process involves taking moving pictures that show signs of age and wear, removing the fading, dirt, scratches and other defects that occur over time, and returning them to their original condition.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, directed by Terence Young, and starring Sean Connery, Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya, will be opening from 24 April at BFI Southbank (as part of a comprehensive Broccoli season), followed by special screenings at cinemas nationwide.
115 minutes BBFC Certificate: PG
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is being re-issued through Park Circus, the UK’s leading distributor of classic and back catalogue films for theatrical exhibition. The company currently represents over 7000 titles from Arrow Films, Film4, Icon Entertainment International, ITV Global Entertainment, MGM/United Artists, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, UK and other film collections.

Monday, 23 February 2009

DVD Review: Quantum of Solace

A review is up at Flash-Bang for the latest Bond, soon to hit stores on DVD

DVD Review: The Fifth Coomandment

What sounds like an impressive action movie has been reviewed by my friend Mike, at Flash-Bang

Friday, 20 February 2009

Check out my review for the latest in Hollywood reboots. Does it suck? Find out what I thought at Flash-Bang

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

TV Review: Fringe, Season 1, Episode 14: Ability

Fringe, Season 1, Episode 14: Ability

Neeedless to say, SPOILERS! ;o)

Friends of mine into the same type of US television as myself are only too aware that I have a certain...ambivalence to this series. It's paced in such a way that I normally fall asleep by the third act. Some might say it's age.

I can't work out if I like or dislike Anna Torv as a lead actress. She has seemed particularly sterile.

Whilst I was a fan of Alias, Lost, well, lost me after a season. I wanted to like Fringe and kept with it; the main draw being John Noble as the fascinating and funny Dr Walter Bishop.

I'm reviewing this particular episode because there's been a few turning points.

1) I now "get" Anna Torv's portrayal of Olivia
2) I now stay awake during the duration of the episodes
3) There's no more Fringe until April and episode 14 really ramps up the plot

Ability begins with a re-run of Mr Jones' escape from a German High Security prison. He does this through teleportation;a mode of transport normally relegated to Star Trek and it's spin-offs. The reality of teleportation in Fringe is alot different.

Walter Bishop explains the issues of teleportation and this is backed up by Mr Jones being released from a kind of decompression chamber for teleportees. It seems that matter disintegration and reintegration doesn't do the human body much good and Mr Jones is now suffering the side effects.

The show cuts to the typical weirdness that befalls an unsuspecting member of the public. This time a dodgy two-dollar note that causes a news vendor's orifices to close (all of them as Walter discovers). Sadly, this effect wasn't quite as creepy as it could have been; seeing the man's eyes nose and mouth close up.

Olivia questions prisoner, Mitch Loeb, but all that comes out of the interview is an obscure ‘what was written will come to pass’. Ho-hum, I thought as this line was uttered but, boy, does it make sense later.

After Walter examines the newspaper salesman and tells us very little, the episode surprises . Mr Jones turns himself in. He presents himself to the FBI stating that he will only talk to Agent Olivia Dunham. He requests a numbr of what seems like ordinary everyday items and Sanford Harris begrudgingly agrees. Harris is quite redundant in this episode and smacks of an attempt to emulate the X-Files plotting, by having a character that impedes the FBI splinter group process. Harris gets in the way of Dunham interviewing Jones and Olivia is understandbly upset.

Peter Bishop helps find a manuscript which is a kind of bible for Jones and his associates. This appears to be the driving force behind events in this episode and the preceeding 13.

After another death caused by the same toxin that affected the newspaper vendor, Agent Dunham is granted the interview. Jones creates a jamming device that ensures that they have privacy during what is a revelatory talk.

So through the Dunham/Jones interview we discover that there are two dimensions in the Fringe universe, where one is more technologically advanced. The pattern refers to the way travellers visit our dimension, causing unusual things to happen. Teh document that Peter discovered predicts that only one dimension can now exist. We then find that Olivia has been prepared at an early age to become a soldier to fight an inter-dimensional war. Seriously! She had been injected with a compound masquerading as a trial for youngsters. Jones talks about a test that will show her that she has this drug; Olivia doesn't believe him. It doesn't seem all that rational to her. As an added incentive to take the test, Jones threatens that a chemical bomb has been planted with the same substance that has killed the vendor and agent.

This test it transpires is to stop a set of lights in a grid with her mind. Olivia switches off (sorry for the pun!) to the very idea that she could accomplish this task and cheats. She proves (with deception) that she has passed the test and Jones is pleased. So he gives the FBI the bomb location. Great! Except that the only way to diffuse the bomb is by switching off the lights by her mind!

Despite actually stoping the bomb by using her mind, Olivia still believes she has been tricked. Olivia discovers that she probably did receive the compound as a child during trials in her home town.

If all this wasn't revelation enough, the writers save the best until last;

Astrid is making small talk with Walter, and compliments him on building a teleporter, even if it kills those it transports. His reply is chilling. “Kills you…it does something unthinkable… but it doesn’t kill you’.

Say what? Is this something to do with mutations again?

Olivia goes to visit Jones but finds a very large hole in the wall in his hospital room. Presumably, it does mutate the body, being teleported that is.

Lastly, alone, Walter finds a typewriter and types in the word `Ability’. It appears that the manuscript Peter discovered was written by Walter. So,we have a couple of months to wait before the story continues, just as it was getting exciting.

For me, the Walter-isms were what kept my interest. My favourite being early on in the series when Walter gets quite short with his son when Peter can't understand why he has to go out to a store to get aluminum foil. Angrily, Walter shouts at Peter for not taking a life threatening situation seriously. He then adds, sweetly, that if Peter sees some Root Beer could he buy him some as he hasn't had any for seventeen years.

in this episode after the events with her fiancee, Olivia appears a lot more animated and it looks good on Anna Torv. Previously ,I found her to be quite cold even when dealing wit hher sister. Whilst I don't always approve of soap elements in stories such as these (that always seemed out of place in the x-Files) I prefer the personal issues to be handled well. Olivia seems more comfortable now. How long that'll last remains to be seen.

Some Walter Bishop moments;

Teaser Trailer: [REC]2

Again, courtesy of Twitch;

The sequel to the movie that became the US movie Quarantine (Jeez!)

Check out what TWITCH has to say

Trailer: Serbian Zombies and Ken Foree in Zone of the Dead!

Thanks to Twitch for this trailer. If you like off the wall movies, then Twitch is a great place to go and visit. Check out what they have to say about, what looks like one of the better Zombie films, of late.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine TV spots

Maybe I'm just biased but this movie is looking better, the more footage that I see. But just call it Wolverine FFS! ;o)

The second of three TV spots that Fox is airing;

Check out Trailer Addict for more

Movie Review: Outlander

My review is up at Flash-Bang

Flash-Bang, Life and Motivation

Maintaining a blog is a more difficult, demanding and time consuming endeavour than I previously thought. My friend Mike over at the Flash-Bang review site feels the same. I manage to keep up with Facebook when I get home and Twitter.

Hopefully, with some movie studio help we'll get the motivation that we need. There are changes afoot, that I hope will satisfy any loyal readers who might have been pissed off at the lack of updates.

Thanks for your patience. Watch as our movie interests finally yield results.
So, coming soon; more reviews, different layouts (on Flash-Bang), my Twitter details.

Review: Dollhouse 1.1 - Ghost

I didn’t take notice of Buffy until Season 4 was shown ahead of Angel Season 1 on sky tv. I was hooked and went back to the beginning. Firefly didn’t grab me straight away but when I “got it” I loved it and became part of the Browncoat movment to bring it back. Having read Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-men, the Serenity mini-series and the continuation in comic book form of Buffy and Angel, reading that he was to make a series called Dollhouse left me fairly cold. The premise sounded just a bit too much like Joe 90, but Eliza Dushku was back and this was Joss Whedon! Then the stories began to emerge; the pilot was going to be shelved; Firefly all over again. Still, the trailers looked good.

So, to the watching of episode 1; ghost.

The premise of Dollhouse as given by Fox:

They can be anyone you want.
The Dollhouse is a very secret, and very illegal, place where wishes come true. Clients with the right connections and enough money can hire "Actives", people who have been programmed to perfectly fulfill the needs, and desires of their clients. The Actives are people who have chosen, for their own reasons, to surrender their bodies...

Ok, I must confess to falling asleep during "Ghost". Only Fringe has the uncanny habit of being paced in such a way that I find myself dropping off for a snooze. The trouble is, I like Fringe. Initially, Dollhouse did not grab me at all. So, does this mean the end of my review? No. I gave it a second chance.

I did my best to ignore the stories, most of them from Mr Whedon himself, about the troubles with how the series was to start. So, the beginning of Ghost does come across as an attempt to get into the action early. This consists of Echo, wearing a dress that her daddy wouldn't approve of and partying hard for the sake of a client. Afterwards she returns to the Dollhouse of the series title to have her memory wiped or "treatment" as it's called. This treatment appears to reduce the "dolls" to a blank docile state ready for the next programme.

Exposition during a scene with Agent Paul Ballard, Tahmoh Penikett's character, explains why rich clients might use such a service. it seems that this cop knows a fair bit about the "Dollhouse" but hasn't got any evidence. his superiors, understandbly are losing patience.

Through the course of Echo's return to the Dollhouse facility we are introduced to a number of the key characters including the tech Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) and Echo's handler Harry Lennix (Boyd Langdon). Olivia Williams plays a kind of matriarch figure Adelle DeWitt, who seems to run the facility. She has an assistant Laurence Dominic (played by Reed Diamond) and an inhouse medic Claire Saunders (Amy Acker). Saunders appears to have gone through some very traumatic events judging from the scars across her face. Did an "active" go rogue?
Echo seems to question her role as she queries why she has a bruised knee, which she got laying the motorcycle at the beginning of the episode. After medical attention she wanders off to a supposed restricted area to see a new recruit called Sierra getting a more extreme form of "treatment". Echo is reassured that this is normal and will soon gain a new friend at the facility.
The daughter of a rich Mexican businessman is kidnapped and held for ransom, so approaches Adelle DeWitt for help. Echo is chosen to become a negotiator tasked with only ensuring that the exchange process goes smoothly; she is not to try and bring the perpetrators to justice. The businessman seems to know a lot about the Dollhouse because he tests Echo by questioning her suitability as a negotiator. I found this strange as surely the guy would know that a beautiful young woman would be the asset. Unless there are other people put through the same treatment but no evidence has been shown as so far.

We find out that the memories that are programmed in to the "actives" are from real people and that disabilities such as short sightedness and asthma help to reinforce the programming by remaining. This impacts heavily on the mission as Echo experiences adverse memory recall whilst carrying out the transaction. She undergoes an asthma attack brought on by traumatic memories from a memory "donor". This leads the kidnappers bar one to escape. Echo knows that one of them will kill the others and ultimately kill the businessman's daughter. She remains active to help take down the crew using psychology as a weapon just before Sierra mows them down with, presumably, an assassin mental package installed.

Everyone returns to the Dollhouse where a number of actives shower communally and then sleep in a set up akin to the hypersleep modules in Alien.

The epilogue consists of a mystery person watching a video of Echo’s previous life in a suburban house where two people have been shot to death. They steal a photo of her, put it in an envelope to Paul Ballard with the words ‘Keep Looking’ written on the back.

Basically, this is Eliza Dushku's Quantum Leap; playing at least one different character per episode. Has she got the range as an actress to maintain credibility in such a role? The jury's out but I suspect - yes. From this episode and stills I've seen from future episodes, typically Joss focuses on the sexuality of Eliza. Like a nightclub scene in Buffy waaay back, Eliza is seen strutting her charms on the dance floor in a tiny dress; a scene that must have been subject to careful editing. Her transition from spaced out template to the cool, calm hostage negotiator is handled well.

Overall, the plot has promise in making parallels to concerns that our civil liberties are taken for granted if it means that the greater good is protected. Also, knowing how much of a fan Joss Whedon is of the X-Men, I couldn't help but notice the similarities to the Weapon X project that a number of key characters from the X-Universe were involved in (Wolverine, Sabretooth, Deadpool);the facility, the memory tampering.

All in all, I liked this opening episode (eventually). There is a heck of a lot of disbelief to be suspended and the trademark Whedon wisecracking is sadly missing from the script but I will be watching this. Had I got put off the first time around I would have done the series a disservice, after all, I carried on with the very patchy Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Verdict: 6/10