Friday, 18 January 2013

Review: Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Part of me feels bad for not enjoying Watchmen. I will own up and say that I didn't finish it: I can't bring myself to pick it up and open it... It's like, I feel as if it's something I should have enjoyed; I know that the movie is regarded by many to be far inferior to the novel and the majority of the time, I'd agree. The source material is almost always better than the movie. But Watchmen just didn't do it for me. But I digress.

I found the book a real struggle to read. For me, it was anything but a page-turner and I just didn't find it grabbing me and making me want to read it in one sitting. The story just didn't feel like it ever got moving, and it was as if it was on this singular invariable level, creeping along without really doing a whole lot. I honestly found it monotonous and anything but engaging.
Then comes the characters... The only character that was in any way interesting to me was Rorschach, but I found every other character dull and uninteresting. There was nothing about them that made me care, that made me want to see what happened to them. If I ever write reviews, I try to be reasonably eloquent, but I found the characters and their personalities to be reasonably... meh.

Maybe it's a generation thing, and I'm just that bit too young to fully appreciate it. Or perhaps it's too intellectual for my understanding. Regardless, I frankly didn't enjoy it and I wish that I had.

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Friday, 7 December 2012

Elementary, My Dear Watson

After an extended period of putting it off, I have finally started watching Elementary.
Yes, Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.
I was pretty reluctant to start it for a while, I mean it all seemed a little bit of a cheap move, making another modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes to ride upon the wave of success made by the BBC's Sherlock. This time, though, the difference was New York, over London, and Joan Watson, over John Watson.
I decided that I wasn't going to get involved in such a seemingly petty move but, against all odds, I have succumbed to the weight of popular culture. I have heard many good things about it. And so, yesterday, I gave in and watched the first six episodes.

And I absolutely, unequivocally, love it.

Now, truth be told, you can't really compare Sherlock and Elementary. They're two very different shows. Sherlock attempts to take the classic stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and place them within a modern setting, and I think that it works fairly well. Elementary is more of a traditional, modern "sleuth" type show, in which Sherlock and Watson seek to solve crimes and mysteries of a less, shall we say, romanticised nature. Traditional stories aren't re-told. New stories are created. And it's due to that element of Elementary which, for me, makes it a better show.

Elementary takes the traditional with their traits and differences and moves it to a modern era with modern cases. Sherlock is a recovering heroin addict who works as a consultant detective with the NYPD. Joan Watson is a former surgeon whom is his sobriety partner, and she seeks to work with him, helping him in his cases, if she can, and ensuring that he doesn't relapse. It's an incredibly interesting show, and the development of the characters is done in an really smart way. The relationship between Sherlock and Joan is tense and, at times, strained. Sherlock gives off a very distinct impression that he doesn't really want Joan there and that puts some initial stress on the relationship between them. However, as the show progresses, respect is built, a friendship of sorts is formed, Sherlock begins to see that including Joan in his work and, to a lesser extent, his life is a beneficial thing to do.

And I have to talk about the colloquiality of Sherlock. I heard that in Elementary, Sherlock is English, being played by English actor Jonny Lee Miller. Now, when I hear that a character in an American show is English, I always automatically cringe a little because, in my experience, it's never a good representation. They get an English actor (or an American actor doing an English accent) and write into their dialogue all the American colloquialisms that an Englishman really wouldn't say. Trash, soccer, bathroom (over loo or something similar), and just things like that. Sherlock, however, is English. He sounds it, accent wise, but he also talks like an Englishman which is a breath of fresh air for a show produced in America.

Well done, is basically all I have to say. You've done very well and I shall be paying more attention to you than I will be to Sherlock. It doesn't deserve all the attention it gets anyway, particularly with its pathetic crop of episodes and obscene shooting schedule. Moffat is just being a tempting little nitwit. He needs to be taken down a peg.
Anyway! I'm off to watch more of this delightful show. Cheerio!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Movember, or Why I Choose to Mo

Well hello blog... It's been a while. This is a very strange place to me now, I've not really had a great deal of input into this form of media for quite some time. Strange.

Anyway, we've hit the midpoint of November or, as it is known to many, Movember. The moustache is growing, I am pruning it and all things are going fairly well. However, I want to do a little bit of a PSA about Movember. What it is, why I do it, all those kinds of things. I was going to do a bit of a vlog about it but, as it turns out, I am terrible at vlogging. Who knew! I can't come up with things to say off the top of my head and if I script things they sound absolutely terrible coming from my mouth. They have as much fluidity as a piece of cardboard. A frozen piece of cardboard...

Anywho, on with the show.

Movember is cause I have a lot of love for. After doing it for the first time last year, it's become an event which I feel sure will be a part of my November for many years to come. Why's that Benji, I hear you cry! Well, for good reason, fellow traverser of the internet. Breast cancer, and other such high-profile, if you will, cancers receive a lot of publicity and that's brilliant. Honestly, how could one such as I ever complain about cancer receiving too much publicity... What a daft idea. But more male-oriented(?) cancers don't seem to get as much of a look in. Prostate cancer and testicular cancer are pretty big deals. Definitely not something that anyone wants to get, really. So last year I decided to take part in this event. I mean, I'm a hairy guy so growing a moustache is no big deal, and my pride can take its temporary presence for the month. It's a no-brainer, as they say!

However, as with every X-Factor auditioner, there is a more personal reason for taking part. Prepare the tissues! (I'm joking, it's not that bad.)
A year or so ago, my granddad was suffering from a few issues which were a little bit of a cause for concern. They were causing him some difficulties so he went to the doctor to get things checked out, make sure everything under the hood was running smoothly. It wasn't long after his appointment that we heard that the symptoms he was undergoing are often associated with prostate cancer. And that was a big surprise to me. Not that cancer is ever really expected; one doesn't have a medical exam, discover that they have cancer in their nuts and respond "Well, durr, tell me something I don't know." Moving on... it was a shock and I felt quite inwardly upset. I'm really close to my grandparents on that side and I began to feel quite worried about it. I didn't want my granddad to suffer through that, and to have to undergo all the tests and the medical care and all the other wonderful things that go alongside it.
Before I go any further, there is good news in this story. After having a biopsy, it was determined that my granddad didn't have prostate cancer. Wooo! ~fireworks~ He is safe from the Big C. That was a massive relief. But I still wanted to do something to make sure that I was helping. I'm no medical researcher; I can't come up with some breakthrough cure for this great affliction that seems so prominent in our society. I'm just a nerdy bloke from Norwich that enjoys reading. But I can grow facial hair...

And so this is why I take part in Movember. I want to do something that will help, rather than sit idly by twiddling my thumbs, hoping and praying that it doesn't happen to me or anyone I love. Or anyone in general, for that matter. This year I'm not doing it on my own, which is great. A couple of my friends are taking part alongside, and it feels a lot more productive to be donating to someone else, rather than throwing cash at myself...

But I can't fund the whole thing myself: I'd really appreciate the support of anyone (and, preferably, everyone.) If you, dear reader, can afford a little then I would be eternally thankful. Really, whatever you can spare would be immense. Last year I raised £49 and I'd love to do better this year. If you do want to donate, then you I present you with my face. It's clickable so you can go straight and donate.

For those that read this far, thank you for your time.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Checked Shirt and Pigeon-Holing

So you join me in this blogerino amidst a bit of a existential crisis of sorts and I am considering turning this blog post into a (most probably) short vlog later on, maybe tomorrow, so yeah, that could be interesting. Anyways, back to this existential crisis.

A couple of events occurred the other day that have led me to question myself; myself and, well, basically everything I am. One of these events has lead up to a purchase and the other will most likely lead up to another purchase... on Friday... if I can afford it.
The first event was this: I visit sainsburys and tried on a shirt. Today, I bought said checked shirt. *tragic screams accompanied by thunderclaps.* Yes,  I know... a checked shirt. The fare of hipsters and lumberjacks. It's a tragedy and I provide no excuse. The shirt looks good! And it's comfy. And I like it, okay. (As a side note, it's really nice; it's grey and red and looks really good on me. Moving on.)
Event numbero due! I visited the animal website and spotted something that I wouldn't normally say, "that's nice, I might get that." It was, in fact, an olive canvas messenger bag. Yes, I am most likely going to buy a man-bag on Friday. Possibly. If I can afford it which I probably can. ANYWAY.

Both these things are not normally "me" things; I'm pretty much the stereotypical nerdy type. T-shirts of Star Wars and TRON and space invaders and random things from Threadless... Standard, not really at all "fashionable" jeans, you know the drill. And in all honesty, I'm not really at all bothered by this. The shirt looks good. I like to carry stuff around with me and I only have 2 hands: solution - bag. At first I was a bit, like "what is happening to me!!1!1one!" But after thinking about it for a while (and, believe me, that's something I do a lot) I've come to the conclusion that nothing is happening to me at all. I'm just... buying stuff that I like/ is useful.

And then I got to thinking how we pigeon hole things. We take a certain type of clothing, a certain type of item, a certain interest and we pigeon hole it into a certain type or label or whatever you want to call it and although these pigeon holes tend to be pretty accurate I still can't help but wonder... what in the world is the point? See, my first reaction to getting a check shirt/ putting a bag on my wish list was to go "what's going on with me?" I've been taught, unintentionally, to assign these things to "hipsters" or those who are somewhat more "fashionable" than I. The first response I got when I told one of my friends that I bought a check shirt was "it's mantart-itis".
I don't like this. People are so often put off wearing things or doing things that they like because "it's emo" or "it's so hipster" and stuff like that which is ridiculous, from my point of view. Because I may start to wear checked shirts, doesn't mean I'll start listening to bands that you've never heard of because they're too obscure. Just because I may start to wear mostly black doesn't mean I slice my wrists and listen to My Chemical Romance and Bullet for my Valentine (I do like a bit of the MCR... Don't judge me.) and I find this whole ideology... really weird.
I doubt I'm making a whole lot of sense here but bear with me, I'll try and be clear.
I've noticed that we as humans have a need to classify and separate and to make distinct the things that we encounter in an effort to better understand them. But to better understand each other, that classification shouldn't be implemented. We're all humans; surely that should be enough without filing each other under E for Emo, G for Goth, H for Hipster, N for Nerd, W for Whatever...

Now, I'm going to confuse matters here by saying that I don't mind people assuming a certain - for the sake of simplicity I'll say - label. I would class myself as a big, fat, juicy nerd with a side helping of geek. I'm perfectly content and proud to be classified as such. But the difference is, I cannot for the life of me understand the need for anyone to see someone enjoying a certain thing which makes them then go "Oh, X-person's a *insert label*" Am I being crazy here because I feel like I am...

I guess it's the distinction between "I identify with this label" and "I don't know you, but you dress in a certain way so I will apply this label to you." It's that automatic assumption that we know something about a person at first glance when we really know nothing. Not their taste in music, not their favourite tv shows, not their political affiliations, not the beliefs. It's a waste of time, ninety-nine percent of the time, to pre-judge in this kinda fashion because the majority of the time the stereotypes are disproved. It would be so much more worth our time if we suspended our judgement and actually spent some time getting to know people before applying any label. I know that from experience, and it's so much more interesting that way.

Well, that's about all of today's illogical and potentially oxymoronic ramblings. Take care interwebs.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


So lately I've been on this massive reading kick and it doesn't seem to be going away which is AWESOME!
I used to read a whole lot when I was younger - mainly a lot of Enid Blyton books, like the Famous Five and the Adventure Series and things like that. I used to love stories about normal, young kids going off and having amazing adventures where smugglers and robbers and all these bad guys would hatch their plans, only to have them foiled by kids my age. I felt like I could be any one of them, hatching plans to stop the bad guys getting away with it. But as I got older, and as I discovered the internet, my reading started to fade and there was a period of a few years where I didn't read at all. I think that it was partly to do with a drying up of reading material. I was getting too old for Blyton and I didn't like the look/ sound of anything else. Oh how things change...

I find myself eager to read more and more, and I love it! I guess I have John Green to thank partly for it. I was given Paper Towns (and some of his other books) and that was when I really came into my love for it all. I realised there are exciting, thrilling books about life as I would like to live it - whether that be as a different version of myself in this reality, or as an ultimate version of myself in multiple different realities.
I've read 24 books so far this year, which is ridiculous considering I barely read 5 last year, if that. I consume books, like I would a good meal. Especially books that feed my imagination; Assassin's Creed, Eragon, Inkheart, Doctor Who, Frankenstein, The Hobbit... all have been read in the last year.
It's funny really. A year ago I was all about the movies, the DVDs which I still love. But... pages. Words. The smell of a new book, or a good old one. My second-hand copy of Inkheart smells delicious. As does my brand-new copy of Eragon. It's like all the smells that are described in the book, all the smells that are smelled by the characters leak out and mix into this overriding smell that defines the story. And I half believe it... 

I don't know why Paper Towns triggered me so much and caused me to start reading again so furiously. But I'm very glad it did. I've been missing out on a lot of great books...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Kermode: How to Take Life Too Seriously

I have a great deal of love and respect for Dr Kermode. But he needs to give the Pirates franchise a rest.

Having just watched an enormous argument he had with Jason Isaacs about why the Johnny Depp is terrible in Pirates of the Caribbean (which I totally disagree with) I feel like I want to comment on this. Regardless of my feelings, I love a good Kermodian rant and the video was pretty hilarious (see here).

I'm not possessed of this "stupid gene" of which he speaks; I "got" Inception on my first viewing. (Because we all know how hard that movie is to get.) But I like Pirates 1,2 and 3 (4 not so much). I know it's big, it's stupid, it's ridiculous and you know what? I love it. I love it for the simple reason that sometimes, when I go to the cinema, I want to be entertained. Shock horror, yeah!? The Devil's Double was shocking and hard to watch, but I can appreciate it as a shocking move. It's a movie that you wouldn't expect to be made. But when I go to the cinema I don't go for a lecture or for an artistic piece or for some piece of cinema that is avante garde. I go to watch something that entertains me. Pirates of the Caribbean may be a bit rubbish, but I love it because it is entertaining. It does what is says on the tin; they are pirates and they are in the Caribbean. You shouldn't expect much more from a movie with that title. 

Don't get me wrong though; On Stranger Tides was rubbish and they should have left it at a trilogy.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Review: Eragon

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

well, firstly I can understand why Eragon gets such a rough deal when it comes to reviews. It is very unoriginal; I warn any potential readers that you will find Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and a plethora of other fantasy novels/ series in here. However, that didn't bother me in the slightest. I found the book well written, I found it exciting, I found it engaging. Although the scenery was a but done, the characters were new if a little cliched (the farm boy, the old man that turns out to be a wizard and teaches the farm boy but then dies too early, the gruff, unexpected hero with a dark secret...) All that set aside, I cannot lie. I really very enjoyed this book and even gave me shivers at certain places.

Now, a word on unoriginality. There are three types of unoriginal: distractingly unoriginal, cherry picking and fan-fiction. Eragon falls into the second category. As I read it I didn't find myself going, "oop, there's some LotR... And there's some Potter..." etc and so on. It was only when I looked a bit more closely that I noticed the parts that were cherry picked from other great books. Now I have no issue with this. It makes a great story with it's own, individual characters. It was like building a lego set with pieces of other lego sets and placing your own, made up mini-figures inside it. I enjoyed the journey and I really look forward to reading Eldest (when I get done with Inkspell.)

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