I am reviewing the animated movie The Boxtrolls which is a very good film. The Boxtrolls has recently been released on blu ray and dvd in Britain. They used stop motion 3d animation and it is very detailed in every shot. It is based on a children’s book. Ben Kingsley won an award for doing a voice for one of the characters and there is an excellent voice cast. The plot is there are rumors in a town that boxtrolls which are harmless creatures kill children. The head of the town does a deal with the local exterminator that if he gets rid of them he can join the exclusive white hat guild for cheesemakers. There is a boy who has been brought up by the boxtrolls and he sets out to rescue the boxtrolls. The boxtrolls have been captured and put to work building a machine for the exterminator. The leader of the town has his daughter disappear and it is blamed on the boxtrolls but in fact she is helping the young boy rescue them. ¬†They do get captured by the exterminator but escape along with lots of the boxtrolls and set off to warn her dad. Inadvertently as they try to warn him a kind of sacred cheesewheel is knocked off its stand and rolls off. Her dad doesn’t want to hear what they have come to say. In the meantime the exterminator has a machine that captures and kills boxtrolls and anyone else that gets in his way. He causes lots of mayhem but as with any family film there is a happy ending. This film was nominated at the Oscars for Best Animated Feature but lost out to Big Hero 6. This is a better film in that it is more original. I watched it on blu ray and the animation is fantastic. I definitely would recommend this film.

I am reviewing the movie Mad Max starring Mel Gibson which is an excellent film. This is a post-apocalyptic drama set in a future world presumably where there has been a catastrophe like a nuclear war. It is a world more or less dominated by motor cycle gangs and gung ho police units. Mel Gibson plays the part of one of these policemen who falls foul of a motor cycle gang led by Toe Cutter. He has his wife and son murdered by them and goes out for revenge. This film which was made on a budget apparently of $350,000-$400,000 for many years had the highest profit to budget ratio of any film made. The Blair Witch Project finally beat it. When Mel auditioned he didn’t think he’d get the part and had been in a fight before was quite badly injured. They liked the look of the injuries and gave him the part and told him come back in 2 weeks. They didn’t recognize him when he came back because the injuries had healed but still let him have the part. The film was banned for many years in both Sweden and New Zealand because they applied to release it there had been gang related incidents in them countries where someone had been burnt alive which there is a similar scene in the film and it was considered inappropriate. In America rather disastrously they released the film but dubbed the actors voice with American ones for fear they wouldn’t understand there accents. Dialogue was also changed to American words. There is quite a lot of sex and violence in the film probably not for the squeamish. The motor cycle gangs featured were mostly actual outlaw members who used their own motor cycles.

 

I am reviewing the action thriller Tom Clancy’s Support and Defend by Mark Greaney which is a very good book that I bought from a local supermarket. This novel features Jack Ryan’s nephew so is indirectly part of that series. Tom died in 2013 and a lot of authors have written works continuing characters he invented in his books. This book is only just published in paperback in Britain and is bound to sell well. The plot is the nephew works for an intelligence agency and his trainer is killed in a terrorist operation and the Americans realize information must have been passed on the terrorists by someone senior. They are right someone has been passing on info to the Venezualans. Dom the nephew who was left for dead by the terrorists but somehow survived wants them brought to justice. The spy is in trouble with the Russians, the Arab terrorists and the Americans. It is one of the other parties that capture him initially but the Americans want to prosecute him and it is a soft alternative compared to what the others want to do. There is a stand off at the end when the spy is being held aboard a bus and some brave men have to fire blanks to entice them from it as there are passengers aboard. There are other marksmen who fire live rounds once they exit. Of course there is a happy ending. This book is around 510 pages and I think Tom would be pleased with this book. I did enjoy it and do recommend it.

I am reviewing the science fiction novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood which is a very good book that I bought from Amazon. This is a post-apocalyptic novel set after a nuclear war when people live in communes with dangerous radiation outside. This particular community appears to be run along the lines of a religious cult with religious stereotypical behaviours. Women are merely there to service the men who reach a high rank and if they are lucky will get married. Even the married ones have to accept their husbands will probably have extramarital affairs in part to boost the dwindling population. The commune is patrolled by people with cattle prods indoors and guns outdoors. The latter are called guards and it is these that tend to get a status to get married. The lady in this gets a job as a servant and has an affair with a commander. They are only allowed to live as long as they are useful as someone with appendicitus unfortunately finds out. If they are lucky they get the chance to travel to Israel as a Jew where conditions are better but now they have tightened up on who can go. The commander does die at the end which spells trouble for the key character. The book is around 300 pages so is a fair length. I did enjoy it and do recommend it. Margaret is Canadian and lives in Toronto. This book has won some awards and been made into a feature film.

I am reviewing the dramatic novel Amsterdam by Ian McEwan which is an excellent book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book won the Booker prize in 1998 and is definitely one of Ian’s best books. Ian’s books tend to be about sexual angst and coming to terms with life. In this book is quite typical. The plot is wealthy socialite Molly Lane has died at the age of 46 from a illness similar to Alzheimers. He had a tingling in her arm and became very forgetful and they sent her for tests but with in weeks she was dead. She had been a bit of a stunner in her time and had affairs with at least 3 men who are at her funeral along with unpopular husband publisher George. The 3 men are a composer, a foreign secretary and a newspaper editor. There are photos of the foreign secretary in women’s underwear in a sordid pose with her. The newspaper editor has the dilemma of should he publish. The photos are in her private collection, but he is a politcal rival and also it is defaming her name. He also is aware the composer has an impotency problem from conversations with her. The composer is struck by some sort of illness towards the end of the book whilst conducting an orchestra he can only hear the note A repeatedly. Also there is a forthcoming service at church as a tribute to her and her husband has the dilemma of what he will say now he knows she has had several affairs. This book is around 170 pages so is fairly short and I did enjoy it and recommend it.

I am reviewing the thriller The Brutal Art by Jessie Kellerman which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book is set in the contemporary art scene in New York.The plot is a struggling artist who owns an art gallery is offered some fantastic art left by a person who has died. He realises they are really good and potentially worth a lot of money. He then claims he created the pictures and sells them. The police start to take an interest in the pictures because it appears the original artist was a serial killer who used body substances like blood to create the pictures. Often art galleries sell pictures on the understanding if the market value of the pictures drops they will buy it back with in a given period for the original price. This one doesn’t because the artist thinks they need to have a vested interest in what they invest in to make it work. He is frantically trying to buy back these paintings and many of the people don’t want to sell and the market price has gone up a lot. Of course he is worried he will be accused of being a serial killer. He does at one stage get beaten up for interfering where someone doesn’t want him to. It does also appear the deceased killer has an accomplice who is still doing pictures in the same fashion. I think the idea that using body fluids to create better than normal pictures is a bit way out but just about plausible. Sunstroke is probably Jessie’s best novel. This novel though is nearly as good. Jessie’s parents are the authors Faye and Jonathan Kellerman. From the books I have read by him he is a pretty good author. It is around 400 pages so is a decent length. I did enjoy this book and do recommend it.

I am reviewing the procedural thriller The Killing Room by Richard Montanari which is a very good novel that I bought from a local bookstore. This book is around 430 pages so is a decent length. It is part of the Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano series about 2 cops who solve murders in Philadelphia. The plot is several churches are earmarked to be sold for redevelopment. Presumably because of declining attendances. Someone is luring people into the churches and murdering them in macabre ways. A policeman is wrapped in barbed wire and spends 10 days before he dies. Another victim is encased in a block of ice. Yet another is force fed stones until he suffocates. He is someone purporting to be the devil and is following in a warped way the Book of Revelation. In comes out in the course of the story that Byrne used to have another partner who in an incident took a bullet meant for him and died. He also had an affair with his partner’s wife. It is a gritty story squeamish people may find disturbing. Byrne also at the beginning meets a young lad he is related to and tries to develop a friendship with him. We also hear a tale of a young lad brought up in the projects who was shot but survived although badly injured for not joining a street gang. There is a stand off situation at the end and Byrne gets injured. I enjoyed reading this book and do recommend it.