The book I read to research this post was The Top 10 Eyewitness Travel Guide To Sydney which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book isn’t all that long but does a good job of giving an overview of Sydney’s tourist attractions and there is much useful information for potential travellers. There are many celebrities with houses here like Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Judy Davis. It’s most famous attraction is probably the Opera House with it’s curved rooves and over 1 million tiles. It has the longest single span bridge in the world, the Sydney Harbor Bridge. There are steps you can climb to the top of this bridge giving fantastic views. Near Sydney is the 2nd oldest nature reserve in the world. There is the very famous Bondi Beach which is also a neighborhood for the wealthy to live in. There are ferries from the harbor to 39 different destinations. You can rent a 20 foot motor boat for $395 for 4 hours which includes a fishing permit. The Wallemi Pine was discovered near Sydney in 1994 and was previously thought to have become extinct. A specimen was sent to the Royal Botanical Gardens in London. There is the Sealife Centre with it’s 12,000 aquatic species. There is a tourist attraction where you can go underwater with the sharks called Shark Dive. There is a major zoo. There are many beaches around Sydney and you are expected to bathe between the flags which indicate areas patrolled by lifeguards. There haven’t been any shark attacks in the area since 1963 and in one incident a severed arm from an underworld killing was found inside a shark. It turned out the arm had been severed with a knife and the culprit was never found. There is an international airport approximately 6 miles from Sydney. There are government subsidized buses which are useful for getting to general areas but for most people trying to their hotel the private minibuses which take you to the exact destination and are quite reasonably priced are probably best. I did enjoy reading this book and Sydney is Australia’s premier city although it might not be the capital. Also it is one of the great holiday resorts of the world.

 

I am reviewing the science fiction novel Quarantined Planet by John Allen Pace which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book was free on kindle and was number 1 on their free science fiction novel chart. It is also fairly short at around 160 pages. The basic premise was suggested to the author in 2006 by a friend and I think he has expanded on it quite a bit. The plot which starts in the present day is a young girl is kidnapped by humanoid aliens who give her a job as one of the crew on a space freighter and take her to their planet. As time goes on the planet starts to notice it has been cut off and supplies which are never late aren’t arriving. Her spaceship I think is limited to nearby planets and as time goes on someone comes up with the idea of putting all these humanoids in energy pods and using them for electricity. Some of the others on the planet are also humans kidnapped from Earth. The planet is called Gaiea & they do resist and some of them get away and 2 of them are kidnapped by Greys which are what we might typically think of as aliens. The young girl kills the 2 Greys and then learns they were trying to rescue them and they are a bit stuck but the Greys have modified their respiratory systems so they can breathe the lethal atmosphere aboard the ship. I won’t spoil it by telling you any more of the story. Suffice it to say it is an enjoyable story which maybe if it had been longer would have been better. I can speed read so do appreciate longer stories although I think a lot of people will be satisfied with the length of this story and it is well written.

I am reviewing the horror novel Relics by Shaun Hutson which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This is quite a controversial which features ritual sacrifice of children and dog fighting among other things. At the time it was written both topics were considered off-limits even in horror novels. Shaun received a lot of hate mail over the dog fighting scenes and a visit from the police who assumed he must have gone to a dog fight due to it’s realism. The story is mostly about a black magic who use dogs that have their throat and collected in a chalice in their ceremonies. They also use teenagers to do sex magic in exchange for heroin. I suppose they have a habit and are desperate. Two characters, Kim and Wallace investigate the sect. There is also a scene where a bottle of nitric acid falls off a shelf and gets someone in the face. There are also gruesome murders carried in a kind of serial killing fashion. The book is complete with a shock ending. This book confirmed Shaun’s status as the Godfather of Gore and he does say is one of his favorites. It’s certainly a very gruesome book which does maintain your interest throughout. I enjoyed reading it and must admit the gore didn’t bother me too much.

I am reviewing the updated Robocop movie which is an excellent film. This movie has been released on blu ray and dvd quite recently in the UK and where as the original was more of a violent thriller, this movie is more of a science fiction film. In a lot of ways although I enjoyed the original, I prefer this movie. For those ┬áthat don’t know the story is set in the near future when street violence has reached unprecedented levels and organized crime is rife. The story in both films is set in Detroit and a policeman played by Joel Kinnaman is very seriously injured mainly due to the other cops being corrupt and landing him in it. He gets blown up and a technology company turns him into an android that still embodies the human side of him. The dilemma of how someone half machine, half human has to still have some kind of relationship with his wife and is quite intelligently explored. With at one stage him being almost being turned into a kind of zombie to cope with the disturbing emotions he experiences and at one point not recognizing his family. He isn’t allowed to investigate his own murder which is another dilemma he ultimately ignores. He shoots an unarmed man in revenge for the attempted murder on him and the corporation try to have him shut down partly because the trail leads to the head of the company played by Michael Keaton. There is another dilemma in that he can’t damage company property including Keaton who wears a special bracelet that causes him to shut down if he breaks that protocol. Samuel L Jackson plays one of the directors of the company & Gary Oldman plays his inventor. Abbie Cornish also gives a nice performance as his wife. Robocop in this film is far from invincible unlike the original film which really works in this film. It’s the kind of film I bet would be really impressive when viewed at the cinema and the special effects are magnificent especially when Oldman shows Robocop what he has become and removes the mechanical parts and he is just left with his head, neck and chest and the various organs. It’s a very disturbing scene.

 

I am reviewing the multi oscar winning movie The Life Of Pi which is one of the best films I have ever seen. It’s directed by Ang Lee who has made films like Sense and Sensibility & Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger. The cinematography and special effects are fantastic. It is based on the huge bestselling novel of the same name. It is the story of Pi so called because he can quote the mathematical number pi to hundreds of digits. He gets a job aboard a ship after growing up with a father who worked in a zoo. The ship is transporting wild animals and gets sunk in a storm with Pi being the only surviving member along with several animals. The storm is very realistic. In his lifeboat are initially a hyana, an orang utang, and a zebra. The hyana turns on the other animals and then a hidden tiger kills the hyana. At this point Pi attaches some lifejackets together to make a makeshift raft and ties it to the lifeboat to avoid being eaten by the tiger whom he can’t oust from the boat. He does feed the tiger because it is a good swimmer and if it gets hungry might come after him. He fishes to provide food and uses the supplies in the lifeboat. The relationship between him and the tiger is fascinating and he doesn’t try to tame it straight away but gradually does. The tiger does get quite emaciated and they do find land which turns out to be an uninhabited desert island before they finally make a voyage to proper land. It is an amazing story with lots of detail showing how he survives. At the beginning and end of the story a grown up Pi is telling his story to a friend played by Rafe Spall. Gerard Depardieau probably gives the best performance of the movie as a cantakerous ship’s cook. Sadly he only has a brief part. It is the kind of story where you empathize with Pi and the Tiger. I think it’s Ang Lee’s best film and it has been out a while on dvd and blu ray.

I did try to review Season 2 last week but the dvds were faulty so I’ll get another issue of them and review them at a later date. I am reviewing A Game Of Thrones Season 3 which is an excellent series and the series as a whole is probably my favorite series ever. It has recently been nominated for 19 Emmy’s which I think is for Season 4 but that is top number of nominations for a series this year. This series continues where the Lannister’s and their army have been defeated at the Battle of Blackwater by the Starks and severely weakened. The head of the Lannister’s although little more than a boy is quite evil and his fiance who wants revenge because he killed her father gets out of marrying him and tries to have him killed. She ends up in an arranged marriage to Peter Dinklage and I think neither of them particularly wants the marriage. She is only 17. Peter who has won awards for best supporting actor becomes the main star in this Season appearing in 9 out of 10 episodes. This season is based on the first half of A Storm of Swords the 3rd novel in the series by George RR Martin. Emilia Clarke is reunited with her dragons and is raising an army to reclaim the territory that is rightfully hers. She takes 8,000 slaves in exchange for a dragon which promptly ignites its new owner and she is then able to reclaim it. She also invades an ancient city. By the time this series comes out it is set on an alien world where each season lasts the equivalent of 2 years and they are going into winter. A big army is coming from the North to crush the Lannister’s although the actual battle will take place in a later series. They don’t seem too concerned about it think the wall and fortifications will hold it back. Most of the Stark’s are assassinated in a blood bath by their King which pleases the Lannister’s. This series isn’t quite as violent and erotic as the previous 2. The production is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland because they get special funding. Some of it was filmed in Iceland as well as Croatia, Morocco & Ireland as well as other places.

I am reviewing the animated movie Escape From Planet Earth which is a very good movie. In Britain this has just been released on blu ray and on dvd and they have incorporated both the 3d and 2d versions on a budget blu ray which I think makes this good value. I have a HDTV but have to watch films in 2d so can’t comment on the 3d performance. Apparently a lot of people complain get disorientated and get headaches with 3d so I’m reluctant to upgrade. Anyway the 2d version of this film is absolutely sumptious and one of the best animated films graphically I have ever seen. The film stars Brendan Fraser and Rob Gondry as brothers who are aliens and Brendan is sent to Earth or the Dark Planet as it is called. No alien has ever come back from the Dark Planet and they all seem to be trapped in Area 51 although this film is quite light hearted. Brendan of course gets captured and it is a trap orchestrated by his boss voiced by Jessica Alba & an army officer who hates aliens as when the Roswell incident happened his dad died as a result. The flying saucer crashed into him. I think most people know about the Roswell incident in the 50′s when a flying saucer crashed and there was a big cover up with claims it was a weather balloon and everything was taken away under a shroud of secrecy. Anyway Rob’s character tries to rescue Brendan and he too is captured. His wife voiced by Sarah Jessica Parker and their son also try to rescue them. It is quite a funny film with Shatner’s wearing an Elvis tuppee to try and impress Jessica. Shatner’s character wants to eliminate all the aliens and Rob’s character can fix any Earth technology device as it is very basic to him. I can tell they have spent a lot of money on this film and would recommend it. I think the message of the film is preaching tolerance towards potential aliens which probably can be applied as well to other cultures. I definitely recommend it.