You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat – Jaws

1 10 2014

Jaws (Universal Pictures - 1975)

Imagine you are being pursued by a terrifying creature, but you don’t know what it is. You turn around for a second, lose some running time and momentum and you see the horrible creature that wants to kill you and eat you. That want and desire to know what is after you, do you really need to know? Movies are filled with such creatures, ranging from The Alien and Predator, to Dragons and The Host. But when you watch said films, there is a level of reassurance in them in which you know they don’t exist. But what if the creature is real? What if a film could make you scarred of something that is real and make you think twice before engaging in an activity in which, while rare of course, means there is still a chance of meeting the creature. Well, there is one film that has done just that for nearly 40 years now.

Jaws (Peter Benchley - 1974)

Released by Universal Pictures in 1975, Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the Peter Benchley novel of the same name; Jaws is highly perceived as one of the best films in the world, helping to launch the career of Steven Spielberg in the process and to this day being one of very few films on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100% fresh approval rating as well as becoming a major moment in the history of cinema upon its release. All of that for a film about a Great White Shark.

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The film begins on Amity Island with a young girl called Chrissie (Susan Backlinie) who goes skinny dipping before being pulled under water. The following morning, Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) who lives on the Island with his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) and two sons Sean (Jay Mello) and Michael (Chris Rebello) goes in search of Chrissie meeting up with Chrissie’s supposed boyfriend Cassidy (Jonathan Filley) and Amity Police Deputy, Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) who has found the remains of Chrissie’s body washed up on the shore. Chief Brody waits to hear from the coroner who tells him that Chrissie died from a Shark Attack. Brody spurs into action wanting to close the beaches, but the island’s mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) however persuades Brody to keep quiet, so that he can keep the beaches open during the summer period. Brody decides to let it slip and go with the coroner’s new statement suggesting that the incident was a boating accident. While relaxing with his family on the beach, Brody spots something odd happening in the water and calls everyone to get out of the water, however, a boy named Alex (Jeffrey Voorhees) has disappeared, and the mother of the boy, Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro) puts up a $3,000 reward for whoever can kill the shark that killed her son. At a meeting to discuss this, Brody states he is closing the beach, but the mayor says only for 24 hours. Everyone is then drawn to the appearance of local Shark Hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) who says he will kill the shark, but demands $10,000 in return.

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The next day, fishermen head out to the ocean to hunt the shark. Meanwhile, marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives on the island and looks at Chrissie’s body and states that she was in fact killed by a shark. The fishermen then catch the supposed shark but Hooper states that it is a Tiger Shark, and not the shark they are looking for. That night, Hooper goes to have dinner with Martin and Ellen, saying he would like to look inside the caught shark’s stomach, but the mayor wouldn’t allow it. Brody and Hooper do it in secret and find no trace of Chrissie. They go out to sea and find a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner (Craig Kingsbury). Hooper goes underwater to look at the wreckage and finds a sizeable tooth but drops it after he sees the fisherman’s corpse. Brody and Hooper try to persuade the Mayor to close the beaches but he doesn’t listen and decides to keep the beaches open for the fourth of July.

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Tourists arrive in their hundreds to enjoy the sea-side resort while Brody and Hooper do what they can to keep the beaches safe. The mayor persuades people to go into the water and everything goes ok until a prank caused by a couple of kid’s forces everyone to run out of the water. The pranksters get found out, but a shark fin is spotted going into a pond/estuary where Brody’s son Michael is on his new yacht. A man in a rowing boat (Ted Grossman) is killed and Michael goes into shock. Brody has the mayor sign a contract to give Quint whatever he wants in return for killing the shark. Quint immediately falls out with Hooper but reluctantly agrees to take both him and Brody on the voyage. The next day, all three men head out to sea and Quint has Hooper drive the boat and Brody putting chum out to attract the shark. Quint has something hooked onto his fishing rod and tries to pull it in, but the identity of whatever it is remains unknown and eventually let’s go. Brody puts more chum out but sees the shark and is shocked by the size of it by saying the famous line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”. The three men manage to tag a barrel onto it but the shark manages to get away before they can attach another.

They stay the night and talk to each other showing each other their scars before Quint reveals that he was on the USS Indianapolis, the ship that delivered the Hiroshima Bomb before being sunk by a Japanese Torpedo and where a large number of the sailors were killed by sharks. The boat is then attacked by the shark. The following morning, the three men attempt to repair the boat but the shark returns. Brody tries to call the coast guard but Quint destroys the radio. They get another barrel attached to the shark and then attach both barrels to the boat, but the shark pulls the boat flooding the deck and engine. Quint, now consumed with killing the creature burns out the boat’s motor while trying to suffocate the creature in the shallow waters. With the boat now sinking, Hooper suggests a radical new plan to go down in a shark cage and poison the shark. The plan fails though when the shark attacks the cage, with Hooper narrowly escaping. Back on the boat, the shark attacks the two remaining men eating Quint in the process. With just Chief Brody left, Brody attacks the creature throwing a scuba tank in its mouth. From Hooper telling him the previous day that the tanks would explode, Brody climbs the mast of the almost completely sunk boat and shoots several rounds at the creature before finally hitting the scuba tank, causing the shark to blow up. Hooper returns to the surface and the two men swim back to shore.

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Jaws is an incredible film, a point you begin to realise the more times you watch it, the more you begin to understand it, and even more so when you discover that Jaws was supposed to look a lot different, and if had originally come to fruition may not be as good or as highly regarded as it has become. Jaws cast are terrifically portrayed from Minor to Major. Characters that only appear briefly such as Brody’s children, Mrs. Kitner, Meadows the reporter and the town’s upper-class woman Mrs. Taft (Fritzi Jane Courtney) have their own major points. Meadows (Carl Gottlieb) has a great yet brief on-screen presence, while Brody’s children add an extra level of depth to the Brody family giving them more of an emotional attachment to the screens setting as well as a connection for the audience also. Mrs. Taft is a great character as in she is an incredibly stiff upper lip toff type who is an absolute rotter to be around and acts in such a manner that makes herself feel superior to be around others but doesn’t achieve any sympathy from anyone and everyone else, particularly the audience. She is in the same league as the mayor and his cronies and believes more in stature and glory than in safety or the lives of other people wanting the beaches open instead of closed and possibly safer as a result. Scenes with her also include not laughing at jokes made by others and even protesting that she doesn’t find them funny, you know, the kind of person who believes that standards are more important than anything else. From here we go into the more major members of the cast. The character of Chrissie is only seen very briefly, but she is the all-important first victim. When she is grabbed from under water and pulled under you do see a level of terror in her eyes and the way she is portrayed, even more so to the point when she also has the look of someone who has no idea what is attacking her and it is more the fear of the unknown and death on the whole than what exactly is about to happen to her, a realization that becomes more clear as the scene carries on and as she screams for help.

Ellen Brody holds the point of sanity for her family trying to keep Brody on the relaxed side of what is going on and not get too involved or in-depth with his new enemy. She is generally more patient and holds a great scene presence when she is on, appearing to be more calm than emotional, but that doesn’t stop her getting emotional when Michael is in danger or when Brody is going out to sea. Next to that you have the character of Hendricks; the deputy of Amity Island. He doesn’t appear to have much in this film other than to be the bumbling buffoon secondary policeman who doesn’t do much in the way of standing up for himself and mostly just takes orders than showing his own opinion. He is also however the only real political support that Brody has and is seemingly the only one in a political stance who believes Brody’s judgement on the situation is correct and trust that he knows what he is doing. He is also not devoid of much life as he takes his position seriously and when he finds Chrissie’s body, a real sense of emotion comes to light as the remains are not pleasant and he shows that he is in fact human and not at all a fool, but just seen as one. Then we move onto the Mayor of amity Island, Larry Vaughn. He is a man who is much in the same league with the higher end civilians of the own who believe in the accumulation of money being the biggest priority. A fair judgement for a small island as the island very much requires a lot of tourism in order to survive, however, when it comes to the appearance of a killer shark, Mr. Mayor and his higher-ups still want to keep the beaches open and at first think nothing more than this just being a passing incident, but when it continues, he still thinks solely about the money. He is in many respects a secondary villain after the shark as he is very single-minded in the pursuit of what he thinks is best, although it really isn’t and provides the film a good opposite comparison and something for Brody to put his frustration on as Brody has safety in front and the mayor doesn’t. He is also a very dodgy character in the way that he will use whatever persuasion skill he has to get what he wants, even having the coroner change his professional opinion as to what happened to the first victim. He is overall played very well as he is the type of character, along with Mrs. Taft that you have not the slightest bit of sympathy for and it is only from pure experience in the end that he learns the error of his ways, but still tries to shift the blame off himself in return.

Lorraine Gary, Jeffrey Kramer and Murray Hamilton

Despite all these great qualities though, the films three main cast members are the highlights.

Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider

Roy Scheider’s character is that of the concerned outsider. It’s obvious that he knows what he is doing when he hears about the shark, closing the beaches and everything and while he may not be an expert or fully aware on the subject of sharks he does know the best course of action. However he does get a bit too committed and paranoid over the whole thing. There is also the problem that while his job is to uphold the law and protect others, there are those higher above him who have the authority to tell him what to do and will make him do, even if it’s the wrong course of action. The result then is that he is unable to do his job properly due to the shady characters who tell him what to do and as such becomes frustrated with the whole affair, especially when the body count continues to grow and knowing that if politics didn’t get in the way, he could prevent deaths. The use of a policeman character is also well done and makes the film not just an action film, but something of a crime drama at the same time with the policeman being the detective, closing in on his suspect and the shark the murderer but in a similar twist, it shows that the goody-goody policeman has to become as focussed as the killer and tap into his natural primal instincts in order to finally achieve the end result. He therefore gets overly committed to this result and by the end; he is a much more different person than the first time the audience sees him.

Roy Scheider

Richard Dreyfuss on the other hand starts off as something more of a decent guy. He is brought in as a marine biologist and at first you grow to like him as he knows what he is talking about but is not just some professor or lecturer. Monster Movies have always required a level of science for the audience and usually achieve this through a character who might know what he is talking about. Hooper on the other hand does not look like a lecturer or acts like a mad scientist, instead he dresses more casually and connects to the audience as a likeable guy as such as he becomes more approachable. However this nice guy attitude eventually begins to dissipate, mostly at the point he meets Quint who also doesn’t take a liking to him either. At this point Hooper takes much a defensive stance and as he continues he begins to grow more distant from everyone else, in particular Brody who originally both start off as friends but who are now at constant loggerheads with each other. It’s only at the very end when the shark has finally been killed that they return to normal. As the final act progresses though you begin to see more of a normal person in Hooper though as he jokes and has a few laughs when he and Quint observe each other’s scars, just showing that while he may be the expert guy, he is also a human being inside too and while he may go astray for a while during the final act, he grows more in person as a result too.

Richard Dreyfuss

When I first watched Jaws when I was about 6/7 years old, I always had Robert Shaw’s character (Quint) down as a bad guy, because well, he wasn’t really pleasant and so when he dies I always assumed it was a good thing. In more recent years though, particularly more so in the last year, I have grown to like Quint a great deal and observe him no more as a villain, but as the film’s best character. From the first time you see him he is unpleasant, scraping the chalk board making everyone’s ears hurt, demanding everyone to listen to him, talking about what he does and demanding more money to achieve it. When he appears again much later in the film nothing has changed, he still appears to be somewhat dodgy and angry and points out things about other people, mainly Hooper, has fun about things people do and takes the position of a lazy fisherman on the boat but when the shark arrives becomes something of a Captain Ahab type character getting transfixed on his shark and bounty up until the moment he gets killed. Sounds unpleasant and almost like he say what was coming to him. But when you look between the lines and real study who he is, he becomes much more likeable as a person. When he demands more money, he is not just some greedy Bounty Hunter; he is an experienced Shark Hunter who knows what he’s doing. When he falls out with Hooper, he is not being horrible, he just despises those he thinks are getting a better way of living for doing much less, when he is fishing and having others do his work for him, he is keeping close vigil on the water and knows how best to hunt the animal and requires the other two to do what he asks fully to achieve this. It’s only towards the end when he gets too committed that things begin to go bad for him. He is a hardworking man and believes he is getting the most out of his job in order to do well at it.

Robert Shaw

On top of that though, he is a man of experience, and not all of it good. Why is he a shark killer, because he knows what sharks can do from first-hand experience and when he tells his tale of life on the USS Indianapolis in what is a terrific monologue, you begin to get the real insight on him? You begin to fall in line with him, and try to question his position wondering if he does his job to live, or is looking for revenge; like Captain Ahab and his whale. From then on, and every time you watch the film from then, you really begin to understand him as a character and know not to judge a book by its cover, because while on the outside he is a committed man who appears to be very unpleasant, inside he is a normal human being and you become like a friend to him and understand the way he acts, because he doesn’t want to appear weak, but also you understand what he has gone through.

The characterization of the shark is terrific achievement too. When the film was initially produced, the plan was to use the shark animatronic from early on and to see the shark from early on, but the shark did not work all too well and so Spielberg adopted an approach inspired by Alfred Hitchcock in which to suggest the existence of something underwater but not to show it, and more have a look that suggests that you are looking through its own eyes. This works as it makes the shark not just an animal but more like an actual killer, as you are seeing it pick its targets. It’s only until very much later on that this technique is held off together as the audience member is with Brody, Hooper and Quint out to kill the creature, and so you no longer are looking at the creature’s perspective but the perspective of those out to kill it. To begin with though, the shark is more positioned as the animal and also the mysterious killer. When you get to the final act out at sea, you begin to see the shark take on new traits, that of taking things personal with the crew by attacking and damaging the boat to fully chasing them and picking them off one by one. This trait of revenge makes the final few moments really hectic as each character goes to extreme lengths to survive and for the shark to increasingly damage the boat to get at them or get them in the water therefore fully transforming the creature from killer shark to monster.

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Another way that the shark is shown is through great effects in using a combination of Real Life footage with animatronic. The real life footage of the creature from a distance helps the thing to look real as it indeed is a real shark on the footage. The animatronic is more used for shots of real sharks that they had to fake because a real shark wouldn’t be able to really act for them, it would more likely just swim away, or eat the film crew. Such realistic shots are mostly used for underwater shots with the cage, such as seen far away, swimming away and tangling with the cage after Hooper gets out. The animatronic fills in the rest. The actual shark animatronic, it’s actually pretty good. While the effect looks very much outdated and almost cardboard/wooden like, it still holds an element of realism in it as the thing worked pretty perfectly in close up shots towards the end and while now may look more silly, thanks to the film building up the appearance of the creature, you are now fully in the scene and the possible silliness of the creature today is almost completely removed when the creature starts eating people close up. When the animatronic is used in the water too, from the perspective of above the water, the effect is brilliant as while it may not carry a lot of close-up detail it does enough to show the size of the creature as well as what it would look like at that angle.

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The film’s soundtrack produced by John Williams also aids in the shark’s portrayal. The film for the most part uses a soundtrack which covers different topics from tense mystery moments, to everyday life in amity, happiness, sadness as well as moments of wonder. The film generally uses pieces over and over again but they are pieces that work. The moments on the land with no Shark use great themes and soundtrack for moments of joy and happiness as well as general life and that is used to great effect to portray those moments. However it is the moments with the shark that produce an interesting contrast. When the shark is being hunted a piece of music plays which sounds more adventurous, like something used in a sailing, pirate film which sound like a celebration theme as the three men attempt to kill the shark. On the other hand to that though, you have the film’s main theme, that of the shark’s theme.

The shark’s theme is iconic to this very day but its actual quite simple. It suggests the presence of something mysterious, but is not overly joyful. It sounds bad, it sounds dark, as there is a real danger approaching. The theme then builds into a tense action paced sound as the danger arrives and is now in view of sorts and you know you can’t get away, it is the approaching predator. As the theme is used into the later parts of the film, the same piece is transferred into another piece and becomes more of a piece of last stand music as Brody fights the shark alone and the tense sounding music begins to grow more desperate before finishing on a final high note which allows the film to use one more note of silence as to question what the final outcome is.

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Jaws is as amazing as it is regarded to be. The film is brilliantly shot with combinations of island life, to the perils of sea until its final conclusion out to sea with a sense of moral danger and adventure. While the film’s look and effects (not to mention Quint’s cool looking boat the Orca) may be outdated, they are still able to hold a great element of terror too as they are used to great effect. The film’s soundtrack is terrific and the portrayal of all the film’s major cast including the shark, are enjoyable from start to finish and at no point get boring. For nearly 40 years now this film has entertained and (but probably mostly) terrified audiences the world over, and still will do for decades to come. If you have not seen this film yet, you should. It is one of the true classics of cinema and still holds true to this day. While some monster films may use creatures that are entirely fictional, there is nothing more terrifying than using a subject and creature that is real, and continues to remain a real life danger as long as they continue to survive. Jaws is so well done to this point that you will be scarred of going back in the water for some time, unless it’s a swimming pool, well, because a Great White Shark can’t get into a swimming pool………………………..can it?

GENEPOOL (Has anyone else noticed that the film’s three main cast members all have names which begin with the letter R)?





I Have Finally Gotten Round To Playing Demigod, And I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

24 09 2014

Demigod2

Back in 2007 when I first got my Computer, it was not long until I had bought Supreme Commander for it, a game which quickly became my Favourite Game and today is still one of my all-time favourites, mostly because I don’t know what my favourite game is at the moment. A few months later when I found out that Gas Powered Games, Supreme Commander’s developer was producing a sequel I kept up to date with the company, and still do.

Supreme Commander1

Before they released Supreme Commander 2 though, they released another game called Demigod which I had a look into. From first glance I liked the look of it, the monsters, the giant creatures, the armies. It looked to me like an army orientated Real Time Strategy (RTS) Game, the kind of games I like. So, I kept a look out for it, but I did not buy it when it first came out in 2009. I don’t know why, I just didn’t. A year later Supreme Commander 2 was released at that was that but still I had not bought Demigod. In fact, it has only been very recently when it was on Sale on Steam that I finally bought it, over 5 years later. So with it finally bought, and then with some time spare after completing Borderlands 2 I decided to download it and give it a go. When I played it for the first time though, I discovered a problem.

Demigod1

I went into a little skirmish game, just to have a quick go and try it out, and I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a tutorial mode, I discovered this the moment the battle begun and I had a character and task bar but had no idea of what to do with them. There are options, but as to what to do with them as well as how I am supposed to play this game at all was a sheer mystery.

Demigod3

The idea behind this game is that there are two main gameplay mechanics:

“There are two distinct types of Demigod: Assassins and Generals. Assassins rely on their varied combat abilities in a direct fight to kill other Demigods. Generals are a hybrid Demigod that create and support their own minions and other Demigods.”

Wikipedia Demigod Article

So in theory, Assassins can fight who legions on their own, while Generals use armies to fight for them. I played as a General the first time but had no idea how to build or create an army and for the most part seemed to just appear of their own fruition. I then played as an Assassin, but just kept on dying the whole time.

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It may be the case that there is a Tutorial in the game somewhere, maybe in the tournament mode, but I thought that would have been in the main menu if there was one. I might have another go at the game and see if I get anywhere, and if I don’t I could just go back to playing Supreme Commander 2, but seeing as 2 is not as good as 1, I might just play that one instead and wait and see if Gas Powered Games makes another Supreme Commander one day, who knows.

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GENEPOOL





3 Reasons To Watch WWE

17 09 2014

WWE Logo

I have been a fan of professional wrestling for 10 years now. I first watched Smackdown in July 2004 and can remember the first time I saw my favourite wrestler The Undertaker come out to the ring and challenge the then WWE Champion JBL for a match at Summerslam (2004), a Pay Per View (PPV) I still have on DVD. Since then my interest and enjoyment grew and I even went to see Smackdown on two occasions at the Manchester Evening News Arena. In 2008, TNA started being shown on Bravo in the UK; later Challenge and since then I have seen TNA in Manchester on two occasions. I really do enjoy wrestling, and when I have had the opportunity to do so, I have even seen local British wrestling also. But my enjoyment of WWE has begun to flounder in a chain of events which started at Wrestlemania 21 in 2005 when John Cena became WWE Champion for the first time, since which WWE has gotten to the point of annoying with John Cena being champion “ALL THE TIME” and better wrestlers not being given an opportunity. At the moment there is only (to me at least) 3 reasons to continue watching WWE, and two of those surround an area of wrestling I have not really been all that interested in.

First Reason – Paige

Paige

Back in 2011, while watching an XWA show in Morecambe, There was a sort of exhibition match which incorporated two wrestlers from Pro-Wrestling EVE, an all-female promotion, and the match was for the Pro-Wrestling: EVE Championship. The match was between Inaugural Champion Britani Knight and challenger Jenny Sjödin (another terrific female wrestler) with Sjödin winning the title. However most of my attention was on Britani Knight and after the match I looked into her career every now and then to see how she was doing. When the Channel 4 show “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family” aired, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Knight had been signed onto the WWE, and from that point I was even more inspired to follow her career. The divas division of WWE has always been something that I would generally avoid as I was more a fan of the wrestling and not the eye candy that the divas division was more or less mostly about. TNA’s knockout division was more wrestling and less eye-candy and for the women’s side of wrestling was genuinely enjoyable with both good wrestling characters as well as wrestling.

Paige NXT Champion

Since the point of her debut in WWE, Knight has quickly shot through the ranks in the divas division to become one of the most interesting and best wrestlers in the entire company right now (in my opinion) all be it with the new ring name of Paige. The Divas division in WWE was finally enjoyable to watch at least from my point of view and thanks to Paige was finally able to rival the TNA Knockouts. From her wrestling skill, to her look (black hair and ring attire), the way her character is played, the way she speaks (keeping the British accent), her cool leather jacket; to just everything about her. On top of that, she genuinely has in ring talent and wrestling skill (probably mostly thankful to her wrestling family origins). So you’re not watching an ordinary match, you’re watching an actual wrestling match (and not just something which looks more like a cat fight than anything else) with a very talented wrestler up front. I found myself watching a tiny portion of Raw a few weeks ago just to watch a match she was in and then when she was no longer on-screen, I turned over because as far as I was concerned the best bit of the show was on and I did not want to watch anymore. It’s an absolute treat that someone from Britain is wrestling in the WWE big league’s right now and that it is someone as cool as well as talented as Paige is an extra bonus. She is easily one of the coolest wrestlers in quite a long time and also one of the best things about WWE right now.

Second Reason – AJ Lee

AJ Lee

The second reason to watch WWE is also Diva related and that is in the form of AJ Lee. My knowledge of AJ is varied at best as she was someone who just appeared alongside Daniel Bryan a couple of years ago, but there was something appealing about her character and since that point has become the company’s forerunning Diva. Much like Paige, everything about AJ works (minus the leather jacket because AJ does not wear one) and this includes actual wrestling Talent as well as other forms of in ring talent which includes the bizarre skipping routine which is quite cool for her character. AJ also has one of the best and most memorable wrestling themes of the moment, and not just in WWE. While I may not have much to say on her as I did with Paige, AJ Lee is still one of the most enjoyable things about WWE right now.

Third Reason – STING

Sting Champion

While I may have only been watching wrestling for the last 10 years, my brother has been a fan longer and I remember when he used to watch some of the videos he had, and one of the outstanding wrestlers on these shows was STING. This was during his stint in WCW, and through this period Sting was quite possibly their biggest star. After the closure of WCW though, Sting declined to join the company, but more recently Sting had made a comeback in TNA, and it brought back the real enjoyment of wrestling to me and I absolutely loved every minute of Stings time in the company. When it was recently announced that after so long, Sting would be appearing in WWE, I was happy. The great worry about Sting being in the WWE though is how he would be used, but I am confident that he won’t be used in either an uncomfortable way on the part of the wrestler and nor for the wrestling fans either. With Stings appointment in the company, this could be the turn around the WWE has been needing in terms of their product and it also opens possibility for the dream match that we would all like to see, Sting vs The Undertaker, and if anyone should have ended The Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania, it should have been Sting. If it happens, it could quite easily be the match of the decade.

Sting

GENEPOOL (If you can find any more reasons for the above points or can think of more reasons to continue watching WWE other than these, or none of these or not to watch WWE at all, please leave a comment below).





Film News – Mockingjay and Seventh Son

16 09 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies - 2014)

It’s been a long time since I did some Film News but recently there has been some exciting developments in the film world regarding one of the most popular film series of the moment, a film that has had a greenlit sequel despite not being released in the UK yet and one film which has become one of the most annoying pieces of film news this year.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Lionsgate - 2014

At long last, well yesterday a trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 was finally released after months of waiting. Mockingjay Part 1 is of course the first part in the final part of The Hunger Games trilogy (Quadrilogy now) and is the movie adaptation of the final book in the series Mockingjay. It has been a long time for the trailer to be released as up till now there has only been a few teasers, but even then they were only a few months ago and it is surprising really that Lionsgate have waited this long to release the trailer when Catching Fire last year was released around about March/April time, not two months before the film is due for release. Having finally gotten round to reading the book earlier this year (it was 2012 when I read the first one) due to me being preoccupied with the incredible GONE series, I have been wondering how they were going to show the underground world of District 13 as well as how it was going to look and also wonder where the film would split in half. From watching the trailer I can see that the world has once again been beautifully crafted and from shots alone can see that once again the filmmakers have been true to the books. One thing though that I think works spectacularly is that of the appearance of Donald Sutherland in the trailer. One of the things I have enjoyed most about the series is the casting and acting of both Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Donald Sutherland as President Snow and with him in particular having another up front role in the trailer is an added bonus. The trailer though feels very minimalist with most acting pieces going to Snow and Katniss with bits from Peeta and Haymitch, but I suspect that more will be revealed as the release date approaches on November 20th 2014, with the UK getting to see it before the United States; I suppose it makes up for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Seventh Son (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

You may remember for some time now I have constant mentions to the film Seventh Son, an upcoming adaptation of the book; The Spook’s Apprentice (which I have also made constant mentions of and even reviewed) by Joseph Delaney. Initially put down for like a late 2013 release and then an early 2014 release with a trailer originally released around about August 2013, the film’s release was pushed back by an entire year due to Universal buying the release rights from Warner Bros. when Universal Studios stepped in as the co-produce and co-finance partner to Legendary Pictures and then deciding to push back the release date to roughly the same time, (give or take a month) one year later. Well, another trailer has been released……….with the date attached (February 6th 2015), so hopefully, we may finally get to see this film. The trailer discloses a lot more than the previous trailer did with still some sections of Comedy from Jeff Bridges (the film also stars Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander), however, much like the first trailer I still get the overall opinion of “I don’t remember that happening in the book” (much like the trailers for the recent film version of Noah as I have heard the real story of Noah). Despite that though some of the trailer looks true to the book and it is still 5 or 6 months until it gets released and so we’ll just have to wait and see. Expect Monsters, witches (not sure about Ninjas or Turtles) and Fantasy galore as Seventh Son (“HOPEFULLY”) gets released next year.

Which finally brings us on too, you guessed it……………………….Hellboy 3. No not really, the constant references to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles means that yes I am going to talk about a film that has already had a sequel confirmed for release in 2016 while annoyingly has not been released in the UK yet, and I don’t know why? This is the new live action adaptation of the popular series starring those loveable ninja turtles and their master rat. The film has been in development for a long time and all until roughly last year I was hoping it would be an animated sequel to the 2007 film TMNT. The film however is a live action film, and upon discovering this I have been sort of worried as to what it would look like, but thankfully Michael Bay was producing it. The film looks like it is in fact adopting the look and techniques that were used in producing the Awesome Transformers series and from what I can so far gather, looks really good. Trailers for the film have been hard to come by and have so far been only available on YouTube; there are however been some clips of the film too. From the looks of the film the film will be exploring the first time the turtles met reporter April O’Neil played by Megan Fox as they once again do battle with the villainous Shredder. The films cast include William Fichtner and Tohoru Masamune as the Shredder with Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard and Johnny Knoxville playing the role of the 4 turtles (confusing I know) and not forgetting Danny Woodburn and Tony Shalhoub as Splinter (again, confusing). The film does look pretty impressive and I am very excited about finally getting to see this film when it gets released October 17th 2014 (10 days before Godzilla gets released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK), particularly to see how they are going to approach my Favourite turtle, Raphael. So let us finish there with this awesome clip from the new film, and also the best lift music you could possibly want to actually listen too.

And here’s the trailer.

GENEPOOL





Book Review – MICRO by Michael Crichton

10 09 2014

Micro by Michael Crichton (HarperCollins - 2011)

Title: Micro

Author: Michael Crichton, Richard Preston

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 000735007

There are many frontiers in the world today. Space is a possibility of course, but if you want to keep your feet on planet earth there are many regions you could explore. You could climb the highest mountain, dive to the bottom of the deepest ocean, cross vast inhospitable deserts or discover new landmasses just waiting to be discovered. But what about the areas of the world that we know about but are yet to truly discover? What if you could put yourself in a position to discover more of the world we already know? What if you could make discoveries about Insects on their level………just a thought.

Released in 2011, Micro is the final book by best-selling author Michael Crichton whose previous work includes Jurassic Park, Disclosure, The Andromeda Strain, Timeline and State of Fear. Crichton had begun writing Micro and had finished a third of the book by the time of his death in 2008. The book was discovered on his computer sometime later and Science Writer Richard Preston; the author of The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees (and the only person not to be a medical practitioner to receive the ‘Centers for Disease Control’s Champion of Prevention Award for public health‘) was asked to complete it. This does not mean in any way though that the book loses anything from the loss of Crichton as Preston has done an amazing job in keeping the writing style the same from the moment he picks it up till the very end. The book also features an introduction into the world the book explores written by Crichton himself but was also sadly unfinished.

Micro, much like many great books starts with an event which for the most part has characters which do not have a major story in the book but is a great way to lure the writer in. The event ends with three men dead in a locked Honolulu Office with razor-sharp cuts all over their bodies. In Cambridge, seven bright students are encouraged to visit Hawaii based start-up company Nanigen who are making increasing discoveries into the world of microbiology. Wanting to learn more the students go to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu where things begin to take a mysterious twist as a death at sea occurs with the presumed death of the company’s vice president who is also a relation of one of the students. The students begin to marvel at the how the company operates and make the discoveries, but when one student goes to talk about the incident out at sea, things take a dramatic twist as all seven students are instantly thrown into a world which is far beyond their wildest nightmares. It’s now a struggle for survival as the students have to contend with the cruel natural world and harness the abilities they each have as they struggle to survive in the rainforests of Hawaii and battle nature that only a few days ago was smaller than them.

I first spotted Micro a few months ago when I started reading Jurassic Park. Within a few chapters I wanted to read more work from Michael Crichton. When I spotted Micro, the first thing that drew me to it was the size and spacing of the letters, it had plenty and it was nice and big for me to read without causing too much strain, something that I find hard to avoid with smaller writing and spacing. The books cover also got my attention and when I read the blurb on the bag, it was a book I wanted to read, and read then. Several Months later I bought it and started reading. One thing I sometimes do is that when I read a the books blurb, I try to picture what the book might be about, and more often than not I get the right idea, but not in the right direction. When you see the word Micro on the books cover you know the book is going to be about something Small or tiny and over reading the first few chapters I was waiting to see what would happen but I thought it was going to be about Nanorobotics and Nanotechnology. By the end of Chapter Nine you discover what the book title really means and then you get more of a clear perspective of what is going to happen to a group of students whose main form of research is the study of Insects.

The book is written in the third person but does not break to move from the thoughts and actions of a single character but just does it. This at first can seem regularly annoying, but as the book keeps going and more and more characters start appearing and of course, disappearing, it becomes more part of the flow of the book. The only time the book does use breaks are the points the narrative changes location. One thing the book does which at first appears to be overlooked is the way the chapter beginnings are formatted, with the current Narrative Location as well as the time and date. This method is a terrific way to show the passage of time but also shows the progression of specific ailments that the characters begin to feel and suffer from as time goes on, something that the book continually reminds you of and makes you wonder how long the characters have left until the proverbial end. The book though is not quick and there is a real sense of real-time going through the entire story without much need for skipping except for moments of large amounts of time passing.

The books characters are a mixed bunch of good, bad, annoying and sinister. For the most part the book takes the narrative of one of the students with tiny points of narrative coming off of him here and there, this being the character of Peter Jansen. For the most part, the tertiary characters only have short points here and there with only little bits of introduction for each one but highly detailed sections of narrative for when they are the main spotlight, the secondary characters though are a main spotlight in the story throughout with characters like Rick Hutter and Karen King standing out and eventually taking top spot in the story. In terms of other major characters, the story focuses on those who are not in the group including the sinister head of Nanigen Vincent Drake, his Security chief and the interested policeman who begins to unravel the huge plot going on as things begin to get weirder and weirder. As the story goes on more and more characters are introduced but whose appearances are not major and usually don’t last, but a nice little twist is added later on. As for the other students, real characterization begins to unfold when you discover what they are actually like in the current situation with some becoming strong and fearless, while one of them just becomes plain annoying and is the kind of character who is mostly interested in his own survival and as a result the one member of the group you probably wouldn’t mind leaving behind.

One of Micro’s key points is that it is believable due to it being set in a real world location. If a book is set on a distant planet or in a different universe, a lot of imagination is required to make the story work, and if it is not done properly, it is easy to confuse the reader. Micro though, being set on Hawaii instantly rings through the head of the reader, even if they have not actually been there they can get an idea of where it is and a partial idea of what it might look like. It’s a lot like the setting and introduction to Jurassic Park where the introduction talks like an essay being written in the here and now but then talks about the company and location as if they’re real and this sets up the story for you. by putting the story in the real world it makes the story seem real as if something like what is happening in Micro could be happening right here and now without us even knowing it and this is one of the brilliant things you begin to realize when reading a book by Michael Crichton, and it’s that he has written something entirely fictional, but is also incredibly plausible at the same time.

That is one thing reason why Micro is so enjoyable, it’s believable, but on that point you get something else which is also a sort of key trademark of works by Michael Crichton in that the world and setting is so finely and minutely detailed in a way that is not boring. When you read Micro, there is a lot of gaps and moments of detail of the world that the characters are experiencing, moments where it talks about certain smells of the rainforest, and the types of species and relations to each other there in. Crichton details everything and talks about everything that the characters are dealing with from complex names of species to how venom and poison from insects work to even how well detailed creatures nests are to pheromones that creatures give off; and it’s not just prohibited to the insect world, but also the technological world with devices which as far as we know don’t currently exist but gives a detailed look into the experience such machines do. This level of detail may sound rather boring, but instead it is much the opposite, it’s incredibly interesting and while such moments may slow down elements of thrills or action, they are very much required in order for the player to experience the world that they are trying to engross when reading (there’s even a bibliography after the story showing points of reading that was undertaken in order to write the book).

Micro is an incredible book, one which I find possibly better than Jurassic Park as the story dives into a world that we can only dream of experiencing yet one that we see every day and it’s only thanks to the true visionary of author Michael Crichton that we get to both experience and enjoy it. While there are moments here and there of high levels of violence as well as moments that I found revolting in a very disgusting way when visualizing, it’s also a book of peril, thrills, action, discovery, corruption, love, romance, death and beauty and one that continues to push levels of discovery and hardship as the book continues and as a result becomes a read that you will find hard to put down.  While I find it sad that Michael Crichton sadly passed away before he could finish it, I do feel that Richard Preston has done an excellent job completing it. From Start to finish, Micro is one intense ride and one that is enjoyable from start to finish and is in itself a brilliant ending and a terrific tribute to the Amazing career of one of the world’s Best and Greatest writers.

GENEPOOL








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