Film – ‘I Am Number Four’- The puppy-lizard ate the script

There is a seemingly increasing trend for movies with teen protagonists – well the character is meant to be a teen, the actors are normally much old!

These films seem to spend most of the first half setting the scene and have a manic second half with as much action crammed in as possible. Most of these are films are adapted from teen books which I will probably never read, so I am having to trust that the films give me enough backstory to make sense of the potentially wider universe – but very often I end up with the impression that the script writer didn’t read the books either.

I am number four film post

(Film poster for ‘I Am Number Four’)

‘I Am Number Four’ is one of those films, there have been four books released out of a planned series of seven so I’d presume that there is a fairly large and structured plot.

However the film of ‘I Am Number Four’ was a bit of a mess, the premise is a bit like Superman: a doomed world sends alien kids to Earth. The mean aliens who destroyed the planet now come to Earth to track and kill the kids.

The film doesn’t embellish this simple plot terribly much at all, there is a bit of outcast at high school melodrama including a girl and a bully, a cute puppy-lizard turns out to be more than he seems – incidentally the puppy-lizard is also the best actor in the film and the only character worth caring about.

i am number four - Bernie Kosar - puppy lizard

(Photo from iamnumberfour.wikia.com)

Number Four is a dull character made worse by bad acting, he is too stupid to have lived that long even with the help of Timothy Olyphant’s bodyguard character who pretends to be his dad so that humans don’t get suspicious (or something!)

Even to a casual observer Timothy Olyphant wouldn’t pass as his father – perhaps older brother at a push, however he is the least annoying human character in a film that is frankly overlong teen twaddle with no real point.

The only last impression I will have of this film – apart from the puppy-lizard, is that a Haunted Hayride is one of the most hick things that I have ever seen.

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Food: Godiva raspberry filled chocolate – with added Japanese confusion

My sibling kindly brought me a Godiva chocolate bar back from Japan – it was raspberry flavour. The packaging was in English with a Japan language sticker over the ingredients, which was a little weird.

Having not tried Godvia chocolate before I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I was excited about it being dark chocolate as I’m trying to be good and only eat stuff with high cocoa content as that way I can pretend it has some health benefits!

Godiva Raspberry Chocolate

(Photo from ohnuts.com)

I then got a little confused as I couldn’t easily see how much cocoa the bar contained – this may have been due to the Japanese sticker placement.

However I am very sure that there was next to no raspberry in it despite the claim that it is “filled with raspberry”. There was a very mild flavour to suggest that there had been some sort of red fruit waved vaguely in the direction of the chocolate and that was it!

The chocolate itself was pretty nice although it didn’t seem to have a high a cocoa content as I’d prefer, but I’d have felt cheated if I’d had my heart set on raspberry!

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Nails: Dotty – Don’t touch me I’m toxic

A worrying number of my co-workers have decided to mark 2014 by sharing infectious diseases with the entire office.

As a protective measure I have decided that dotty nail art would let me pretend that I have measles and encourage my plague-bearing colleagues to take their germs elsewhere.

I love the dainty look of these nails, the cute colour contrast and the fact they are so darn pretty. But these simply won’t deter my co-workers enough, in fact they are such a gorgeous mani that they might attract ill co-workers who are looking for a morale boost. These are a 2 out of 10 for terrifying co-workers.

pale blue dotty nails

(Photo from blog.flauntme.com)

Grey base colour is not normally something I like, but the different colour dots off-set the grey whilst keeping the overall look understated and classy. This does mean that they won’t scare my co-workers so 4 out of 10, although possibly 6 out of 10 if I did a red and yellow combination version.

grey backed dotty nails

(Photo from wrappedupinrainbows.blogspot.co.uk)

These have potential, they look slightly like they belong to a well manicured zombie. They imply a classy type of infection. These are a 7 out of 10 for encourage ill co-workers to go elsewhere.

black and white dotty nails

(Photo from nailtreasures.tumblr)

I love these, they look like I’ve been exposed to radioactive material and might blow up at any minute. These are a 8 out of 10 of the freaked out co-worker scale!

dotty nail art

(Photo from nailzilla.com)

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Film: ‘Young Demons’ – Slow motion horror

This is another by David DeCoteau film I’m afraid. In my defence I didn’t realised, until after I’d purchased it, that the film ‘Young Demons’ was actually ‘The Brotherhood 3: Young Demons’.

David’s film are generally bad enough that I wouldn’t knowingly watch one of their sequels. ‘Young Demons’ is a lovely illustration of why this is the case, if you removed the slow motion shots, the semi-flash backs and the random shower scene then you would probably have maybe 45 minutes of footage.

young demons film cover

Of this 45 minutes  around seven minutes actually contain plot. The plot is some teens role-play in school after dark, in one game they invite a jock and use a budget Book of Pure Evil.

It was a very bad film, however it was more watchable than the live action Thunderbirds film.

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Book: David Wellington’s ’13 Bullets’ – “when you run over a hippy with this thing, extra chunky is about all that’s left.”

I prefer urban fantasy style stuff to horror but I am willing to try most things.

Which is why I tried ’13 Bullets: A Vampire Tale’ (sometimes called ‘Thirteen Bullets’) despite knowing it was going to be a bit icky. By a bit icky I mean during daylight hours vampires turn into slush – their flesh melts, maggots wriggle in their remains and they only become whole again at night. This is described in loving detail and probably would have turned my stomach if I hadn’t just been utterly gross out by the first episode of ‘Criminal Minds’ season nine so the point where nothing else was going to phase me for the evening.

13 bullets

(Book cover art)

The plot reminds me of something that would come out of vintage Stephen King, the action takes place in modern day Pennsylvania  where people know that vampires exist but think they are extinct (or at least really rare). Special Deputy Arkeley killed the last one in the 1980s… except he didn’t, she was locked in a sanatorium and is protected by Federal Law (as long as she doesn’t hurt people).

Then State Trooper Laura Caxton encounters vampires running wild and ends up assisting Arkeley in hunting down the monsters. Laura is also a lesbian and the book mentions this a fair bit – with little to no tact. I can’t recall the last horror/urban fantasy/whatever book with the lesbian character, as oppose to a bisexual female, so that was neat and different.

It was also nice having good old fashion evil vampires and these vampires are ugly on the outside in addition to the inside!

Wellington has made some interesting enhancements to vampire mythology, to make someone a vampire the person has to accept the invitation to be undead and then commit suicide. The invitation doesn’t have to be verbal, it can be as simple as meeting a vampire’s eye and them ‘speaking’ in your head.

Nonso Anozie as renfield

(Nonso Anozie as Renfield in the current TV version of ‘Dracula’)

Renfields are also present in the book – because no evil vampire worth their salt would do their own dirty work.

There was some gore and a reasonably high body count for rural Pennsylvania. The gore got a little dull as there are only so many ways to describe a face or arm being ripped off. The last third of the book also seemed somewhat slow, I understand that the protagonist needs to be put in peril in order to develop but the book was more interesting when everyone was running around and the master-plan wasn’t being out at the forefront of the book.

It was an ok ending overall and the last scene was very good. However I am not in a rush to pick up the four other books in the series as I suspect Laura will end up being a lesbian version of Sarah Connor in ‘Terminator 2’, her mission will be to escape the vampire fate and possibly save the world.

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Film: ‘Thunderbirds’ (2004) – Fortunately I have no fond childhood memories…

I don’t even want to write about the 2004 live action film version of ‘Thunderbirds’, it is just dire and has no deeming features – apart from technically it doesn’t go on forever and cause the destruction of civilisation.

Despite not having any over fond memories of the original Thunderbirds (or any memories at all really) I don’t want to acknowledge that this dreadful film exists.

orgy band picture

(Photo from rpj)

The hair reminded me of the styles usually worn by the band Orgy, Tin-Tin’s top couldn’t contain her nipples (and that was before she went swimming in the Thames) and Ford got an obscene amount of product placement.

The only thing of note about this film – apart from it sucking, is that Lady Penelope was played by Sophia Myles.

Sophia Myles Underworld

Sophia is notable for playing a skanky vamp in ‘Underworld’ and for dating a skanky vampire in ‘Moonlight’

My husband has noticed that almost everything has a link to ‘Game of Thrones’ which Sophia also provides as she dated Charles Dance for a time. It is like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but far quicker – Thunderbirds is ***t, has Sophia in and she dated Charles = Game of Thrones. Did I already say Thunderbirds was ***t?

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New Year, new stress – including broken suitcases and yellow food

The immediate start to the New Year isn’t meant to be stressful, it isn’t meant to involve a suitcase weighing 25kg with broken wheels and a broken handle, it isn’t meant to involve my sibling sitting on the floor of a charity shop looking at music magazines from the 1980s for 30 minutes, it shouldn’t involve eating at a restaurant that sells chicken that was packed with a certain type of person – largely groups of four people where the males looked like sex-offenders, it shouldn’t involve my sibling unsubtly putting a couple of their menus in their bag so they can take them back to Japan whilst I desperately pretend not to notice.

I presume that this last incident was due to my sibling wanting examples of English in every-day environments, although I am not sure that peri-peri sauce has a Japanese translation.

yellow plate

(Photo from scholarlifestyle.blogspot)

I’d not been to a (lalala not going to actually name the restaurant) before but had heard the hype. Based on this experience I am not sure that I understand the hype, chicken is pretty hard to get wrong and they managed not to. They did manage to get corn on the cob wrong but it didn’t look like vegetables were a popular option in their core clientele.
What was really interesting is that everything on the plates was yellow – the chicken in sauce was yellow, the rice was yellow, chips were yellow, corn was black with yellow bits, the garlic bread was yellow-brown…

There is the rule of thumb that the more colourful your food the better it is for you – which falls apart the minute you bring e-numbers and colours into the equation, so on those grounds I resisted looking up the nutritional black hole that was our dinner and will not be revisiting the establishment.

broken suitcase

(Photo from worleygig)

I daren’t mention my sibling and the debacle with the suits or buying a new laptop – which is badly needed but was met with total disinterest except when I asked them what colour they wanted.

The suitcase was so trashed I immediately knew that a new one was needed – absolutely no question, there was wire sticking out of the bottom, the outside lining was falling off, the pull handle had literally come off in their hand, the wheels no longer turned. But my sibling was in denial and ignored all of this. So I am going to buy one anyway – otherwise they will never make it back to Japan with all their stuff!

As guilty as I should feel for saying it, I am rather looking forward to my sibling going back to Japan in just under a week, but first I need to buy them a new suitcase.

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Nails: Robin Hood nails – blocking out my mother’s inappropriate interest in Jack Whitehall

My sibling has exposed my mother to Jack Whitehall, I am hoping it is because she finds him amusing – at least I really hope that is the reason.

Despite this I did record one of Jack’s stand-up shows when it was on TV over the festive season. In this Jack babbled about being 13 and dressing up as Robin Hood.

So looking up Robin Hood nails seemed safer than pondering what exact bit of Jack’s stand-up my mother likes… these are nicely distracting as I remember the animated Disney version of ‘Robin Hood’ from when I was little – either it was always on TV or my parents has recorded it so the TV could be used as a babysitter.

robin hood nails

(Photo from flickr.com)

I don’t even care that these nails are a bit rubbish, it distracts me from wondering about my mother’s interest in Jack Whitehall.

robin hood nails wtf

(Photo from disneynailart.tumblr)

It turns out there aren’t that many Robin Hood inspired nails on the internet, so random Disney will do – these are rather nice too. If you really want me to justify it then Peter Pan does have arrows in it…

tinkerbell

(Photo from themanicuremama.com)

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Film: ‘The Frightening’ – Frightening for all the wrong reasons

Films directed by David DeCoteau seemingly have to show a certain quota of males missing clothing, this is can be the only noteworthy thing about the films – other than the bad acting and poor horror special-effects.

I’ve seen three or four of his films as my ex-local video rental store sold them off very cheaply and they are pretty interchangeable – which makes them easy to get rid of.

However for old times’ sake it seemed only polite to watch them first, starting with ‘The Frightening’. Plot wise, Corey moves into a small town with his mother, on his first day at Hallows End High School he gets several warnings that all is not well, but doesn’t seem to take them seriously.

the frightening

Specifically he is warned about staying away from the wresting team – which he doesn’t listen to. For the majority of the film it seems to be the stereotypical jocks VS alternatives scenario – which ‘Disturbing Behavior’ set a pretty high bar for.

As it is only a 15 rated film the missing clothing was limited to the top half of the body, the gore is implausible and very badly done – even watered down ketchup would be preferable. The costumes are skintight to the point where you wonder how anyone can actually walk. The dialogue is stilted and you’ve heard it all before in every other teen horror movie ever.

Despite all these flaws, or perhaps because of them, ’The Frightening’ is pretty watchable… right up to the weird twist. Major spoilers after the picture.

a still from the game Limbo

(A still from the game ‘Limbo’)

I am not sure why there would be a version of limbo set in a school and where the “transfer” students get butchered in order to send them on their way. I am also really unsure why ending a film so the main character knows he is dead but has been kicked out of limbo (I think) seemed a good idea. Poor Corey ends the film watching his mum talk to his photo, then the credits roll, I even fast forwarded to the end credits to see if anything was resolved – it wasn’t.

In short, a nice idea that was badly handled and ended up being less scary than my cat lying in ambush position under the bed sheets.

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Book: Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris’ ‘Phoenix Rising’ – . “My ample bosom broke my fall.”

‘Phoenix Rising’ is book 1 in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series – the name of the series sounded rather interesting and was the primary reason for my purchase of the book.

The cover very nearly put me off, I am aware that corsets are a prominent feature in popular interpretations of steampunk- they seem to feature more than the technology, however it has never been thrust in my face so much before.

phoenix rising - ministry of peculiar occurances (cover photo from somewhere on the internet)

I haven’t read a great deal of steampunk or alternative history, but I know what makes a good book – interesting and well-structured plot, believable character interaction and development, sensible (if not clever) dialogue… the usual.

The plot can be summed up a two people are thrown together and after initial difficulties they work together to stop a nefarious plot that threatens all of England.

There is very little actual steampunk present in the book – I do not count a bullet-proof corset as a gadget, gizmo or invention. The villains were horribly stereotyped as stiff-upper lipped bad eggs.

If there had been a steam train in the books (which would have been nice) then they would have been simultaneously planting dynamite to blow up the tracks and tying the female lead to the same tracks!

Perhaps alarm bells should have rung when the muscle is a lady called Eliza D. Braun and the brains is Wellington Books – this is rather labouring their respective purpose in the book to the point of silliness.

Books was the more interesting of the two character, he at least seemed to have a backstory, Braun was headstrong to the point of stupidity and the book kept going on about her being this liberated female but she was rather two-dimensional action character with boobs.

Big Dog robot (Photo from bostondynamics – Big Dog is fantastic)

Personally the plot didn’t feel like it had an overall point or even joined together terribly well, it wouldn’t surprise me if the whole book was a bet to see how many set pieces could be crammed into one book with little to join them up.

There was the escape from the castle, the telling off and punishment duty, the getting to know the new partner, seeing/mourning the old partner, finding the clues on the old case, infiltrating the bad guys, shagging the bad guys, oh-no-the-bad-guys-are-onto-us, seeing the dastardly evil master plan, stopping dastardly master plan, the end.

I got rather bored really, which was a shame as at least one part of the dastardly master plan would have been rather interesting if it had been explored properly (SPOILER) – I mean who wouldn’t love to read about London being invaded by robots made out of squishy human bits?

It seemed that some people much have liked it as there are a couple of sequels and some “tales of the archives” cash-in books. Personally it is not my cup of tea and my copy will be finding a new home.

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