RRR 26 Ender's Game

By Roy Mathur, on 2014-01-30, at 01:35:00--02:35:00 GMT, for Roy's Rocket Radio, Listen

Ender's Game (2013)

Movie based on the book that was, in turn, based on the excellent novella by Orson Scott-Card, who's short stories, along with Harlan Ellison I was a big fan of in the '80s, during that throw-over period after the New Wave. Ender's Game, the novella, was published way back in 1977, in fact.

Aside: Scott-Card is a great illustration of liking the works, rather than the person. His fiction is consistently good, but his politics are questionable to say the least, and I'm being generous here.

Ender Wiggin is a boy chosen to attend an elite military academy where cadets are trained to become the leaders in the next war between mankind and the Buggers, an insectoid species that once tried to invade the Earth.

You get a real sense of pressure and the way they use zero-G in this movie is absolutely fantastic. No magic zero-G generators here!

If I have one minor criticism, it is that it seemed very short for a story on such an epic scale, but then the original story was not that long either. I think this is one case where the makes could have easily made the film a three hour epic and not been accused of bloating it out.

Also, Ben Kingsley's Kiwi accent sounds South African.

I enjoyed this move a lot. I enjoyed it more than Gravity! Go and see it on the big screen if you still can. Brilliant.

Last Days on Mars (2013)

Limited release in the UK last Autumn.

Outbreak with zombies on Mars.

Bad, very very bad. About a third of the way through this movie changes from intriguing, slightly cerebral SciFi to over-the-top zombie movie.

Black Sails (2014)

Possibly riding on the success of Pirates of the Caribbean and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Black Sails is a new drama on Starz.

This is a Golden Age of Piracy very loose prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, in that we follow the adventures of a young, and already very crooked, Long John Silver.

It is set in the Caribbean's traditional piratey haunts of New Providence, Port Royal etc..., but actually filmed on location in South Africa.

Strikes a balance between full out Pirates of the Caribbean and a vague attempt at historical accuracy.

As is traditional for all Starz productions, it is also soft-core, sweary and violent.

Despite being a largely Michael Bay production and on schlockmeister network Starz, and I can't quite believe I'm saying this, it is actually seems quite good.

No idea of a UK air date.

Helix (2013)


Outbreak with zombies in the Arctic.

Not as terrible as Last Days on Mars is the best I can say.

The Magus (1966)

John Fowles novel and also a poorly received (though now cult) film starring Michael Caine in 1968.

Michael Caine didn't seem to like the film and has said this, but then there are so many films he starred in that he no longer rates. Ungrateful ######!

Miserable, directionless, middle-class teacher, bored of England and his girlfriend applies for a job teaching English at a school on a small Greek island.

The island is beautiful, but boring, but apparently has one rather interesting resident, who I haven't read far enough to have met yet.

So, I'm a hundred pages in and, although the writing style is very readable and flows well, the character is a right and total git. It is very had to sympathise with him though, to his credit, the character doesn't seem to like himself much either.

I'm just hoping something bizarre happens to him soon to liven things up.

The Dead Boy Detectives (2008) Ed Brubaker, Brian Talbot et al, DC Vertigo

Brubaker and Talbot spinoff from Gaiman's Sandman.

Two dead boy detectives solve the mystery of missing street children.

If you dismiss occasionally Dick Van Dyke dialogue and gender-bending depictions of the very effeminate boy detectives, then it's a fair distraction, though not particularly memorable adventure.

Fables 1001 Nights (2006)

Bill Willingham et al, DC Vertigo.

Another addition to the fine Fable's canon in the shape of this spin on the Arabian Nights. This time it's Snow who introduces a Far Eastern potentate to a series of framed tales in order to spare her head and recruit him to the fight against the Adversary.

Not bad, but didn't make nearly as much impression as the first time I picked up Fables all those years ago. I think the franchise is just so broad now that I'm starting to get Fables-fatigue.

I enjoyed variation in artists for each tale.

Invincible Ultimate Collection V.1 (2005)

Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, Image.

Before Robert Kirkman hit the stratosphere with The Walking Dead he wrote this sort of alternative son of Superman/coming of age type story.

Entertaining and disturbing account of Mark Grayson (Invincible) inheriting superpowers from his father Omini-Man.

One really awful thing in an otherwise fantastic comic was the abysmal Star Trek TNG parody half-way through. I've seen this down before, equally badly by Peter David in the Dreadstar series. Enough! Not funny, just sad!

As the colourist is often the unsung hero, a special note of appreciation to Bill Crabtree who does a bang-up job with the colours.

Haunt of Horrors (2008)

H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Corben.

Lovecraft stories and poems adapted and drawn by Corben in this collection for MAX, Marvel's subsidiary for mature publications.

Art: great and distinctive, non-generic art (as always) from Corben (Den for Heavy Metal, Hellblazer for DC etc.).

Writing: well adapted for modern audience.


Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha: The Project (2012)

John Wagner, Carlos Ezequerra, Rebellion.

Read this about two months ago in an effort to catch up with one of my favourite characters: intergalactic and occasional time-travelling bounty hunter and freedom-fighter Johny Alpha.

Having actually died in the last mutant uprising (back in 1990 would you believe) the original creators retconned, Johnny back to life while talking out one of ny other favourite characters Feral Jackson (grrr). Despite this atrocity, the comic does a good job of both tying up some loose ends and bringing back the old feel of the original comic and, especially the artwork.

I have grown up with Johnny Alpha as I remember buying the was first copy of IPC's Starlord. Fantastic, large format, full-colour, high-quality and ridiculously short-lived comic book that was snaffled up by sister publication (on much cheaper paper) 2000ad. I miss that comic! The point is that it is good to see Alpha back in the game. Go, Johny go!

The next two stories in the series Mutant Spring and Dogs of War have yet to be be collected into trades.