Posts tagged with reviews - page 3

One Hit Wonderland

Okay so my current munchy reads Great Expectations but those who’ve visited my Zen-like abode will have admired the un-Zen-like bedside tower of pulp that rivals the best Pisa has to offer in the way of leaning towers. For a few days Pip has been taking a back-seat to a tome of non-fiction…

One Hit Wonderland comes from the multi-talented and under-exposed British writer, musician and comedian Tony Hawks. When not appearing on TV and radio shows he takes to writing books that chronicle taking on unlikely bets in the hope of impressing a friend or, most lately, getting laid. This book, his latest, starts with such a bet made at a dinner party where Tony takes on the challenge of creating another musical hit…

Another musical hit you may wonder, after all Tony is not a house-hold name, but in 1987 had a number 4 hit with Stutter Rap, originally performed as part of his stand-up comedy and later released by fictional band Morris Minor & The Majors. The band produced a follow-up single but the novelty nature of their song (parodying Beastie Boys while paying homage to a few other 80’s hits) meant the follow-up disappeared without much of a trace and the entered the one-way tunnel of the one-hit-wonder. They did however manage to spin-off a six-episode TV show based on the characters under the name Morris Minor’s Marvelous Motors.

The book is a pleasure to read, witty yet honest as Hawks take every opportunity to achieve his mission and exploits the clause that allows him to apply his talents everywhere from Memphis to Southern Sudan and through eastern Europe to find recognition and adoration. On his way he’ll bump into “Pop Idol”‘s Simon Cowell, 60’s comic legend Norman Wisdom and top lyricist Tim Rice.

His other two books revolve around betting he couldn’t travel Round Ireland With a Fridge or beating the Moldovan football team at tennis. They’ll both be hitting my reading tower soon providing I can get clearance from ATC.

He should, under no circumstances, be confused with American video-game darling and skateboarder Tony Hawk.

[)amien

Hitchhiker’s Guide: Continues

I really like Hitchhikers Guide, a lot. I’ve read all five books and listened to the radio series on CD far too often. I then put them on my iPod and listen to them regularly. I’ve got the original TV series on DVD, it replaced my VHS copy…Recently things got moving again with a new radio series and the long-awaited movie…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Tertiary Phase

The original radio series was published on CD imaginatively titled the Primary and Secondary phases. The radio series continues this tradition with installments packaged as the Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential phases.

Making the new radio series was an arduous task for Above The Title who, despite the 25 year lapse since the original production, managed to get the original crew involved from their various diverse locations with the sad exceptions of creator Douglas Adams who passed away in 2001 and the narrator of both radio and TV series Peter Jones who passed away in 2000. Listeners can take some solace in knowing that Adams had put a large amount of work into the new series before his death including recording his own scenes as Agrajag as well as the excellent job by Bill Franklin as the new voice of the book.

It’s very enjoyable although the plot doesn’t move very far over the three CD’s, the story entirely being based on the people of Krikkit, their history, and the universes fate but it is a very fitting continuation to the series. Ford sounds a little odd but then if I sound the same in 25 years I’d be surprised…

Rating: 4/5

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Movie

Okay, where to start…

Casting

Mostly good with everybody managing to fit into the roles although I’m not sure Ford works, he was a research geek in the book and TV show but Mos Def just seems, well, too cool for the role. As much as I like Stephen Fry his voice just doesn’t work as a narrator, it’s not deep and rich enough after years of enjoying the radio series but I guess we can be thankful it’s still English. Bill Nightly’s performance seemed stilted like he had forgotten the words or perhaps was just doing a Christopher Walken impression.

Visuals

Fantastic sets and while I was a little apprehensive about shape changes to Marvin and the Heart of Gold they worked okay on screen and didn’t distract much. The new Hitch-Hiker logo with the planet rings and a thumb is just fantastic and the flash style guide animations are not only acceptable but actually funnier than those in the TV series.

Screenplay

Okay, you knew this couldn’t last. The script is bad, real bad. Why do Hollywood insist on picking up the rights to successful books if they are going to rewrite them into something else? It says Hitchhikers Guide on the movie poster and I’ve gone to see it because I love the story. This is not that story.

The story starts with the demolition of the Earth by Vogons quickly followed by our crew meeting up and looking for Magrathea who are building the Earth mark 2. That is about all the film has in common. It eschews clever jokes, wordplay and delicate character interaction for a slapstick, set pieces and a tacked-on heavy romance between Arthur and Trillian which comes across less as romance and more as stalked-across-the-galaxy-by-a-looser. The Arthur of old was a little like Victor Meldrew. Sure he was cranky but generally robust and likable, the script delivers us a less likable whiner who you feel wouldn’t last much longer in space.

For a brief moment I considered the lack of time you get to your story across in a movie but then reflected on how much time they’d wasted on the pretty dolphin intro sequence that ate up several minutes without adding to the story and the stupid face-smacking scene on the Vogon’s home world complete with the famous crabs.

I can’t help but hope that this was not the film the director, writer and cast set out to produce but rather a revised and edited version the film company put out when they didn’t understand what they had. Perhaps in a few years we’ll get a directors cut that will loose the romance and slapstick and put back in more plot and dialog.

Keep an eye open for the cameos including the original Marvin robot from the TV series in the queue to release prisoners and the original Arthur as the face from ancient Magrathea. Douglas Adam’s face flashes up in one sequence, you may notice it if you are still awake.

Rating: 3/5

[)amien

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

I’ve just been to see this little ditty at the local cinema (well, 20 seats in front of something a little bigger than a plasma screen that’s a story unto itself).

So, to the film… The visual style is very slick and Burton-esq, the cast are well chosen and the details fantastic (an old style car with remote central locking and a tape-reel audio system….) but ultimately let down a little by the script.

The narration did not enrich the story telling process instead it broke the flow and stole valuable screen time while the actual story, such as it was, felt a little predictable with a couple of repetitive elements but more importantly a major plot element that started to get unraveled disappears into the ether without resolution.

Still, it had it’s moments and for the most part was enjoyable but you can’t help wondering with such style and talent if it couldn’t have been something much better.

[)amien