Monday, 3 December 2012

My trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

To say this tour surpassed all my expectations would be an understatement. It was simply incredible! The amount to do and see makes the tour well worth the entry price and a must see for any Potter fan.

If you've got no idea what I'm talking about (where have you been?) the tour is a chance for fans to step behind the scenes of the film series and see the props, sets and costumes from the Harry Potter films. I won't spend too long talking about the tours layout and structure but basically after a short film and an introduction in the Great Hall you're free to explore at your own leisure. The tour, itself consists of three areas: Studios J and K (I see what you did there Warner Bros.) and the Backlot.

Studio J is made up mainly of different sets from the films adorned with props and costumes. This area was the highlight for me. Walking into the Great Hall was truly awe-inspiring and none of the sets disappointed. One thing which struck me was the amount of detail and work which went into making these films, much of which was barely seen on screen. As well as the sets, there is a section dedicated to the special effects of the different magical methods of transport, including a chance to ride a broomstick and the Ford Anglia. This is probably the main activity you can take part in and photos are reasonably priced (especially if you're with a group). Some of the other interactive elements of the tour include activating special effects in the Burrow and touch screens allowing you to really explore different sets up close.

The backlot featured some amazing features, including the Knight Bus and Privet Drive. However the main draw out here is the chance to try Butterbeer. This was something I was incredibly excited about after being told how delicious it is in Orlando. Unfortunately this was the one aspect of the tour which let me down. Although it was much cheaper than expected (only £3, compared with the £8 I heard online), I just couldn't drink it due to how sweet it was. But this might just be me as everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

After the backlot you step into the creature shop. This really illustrated the technical skill in the films from the animatronics of Werewolf Lupin to the special effects used in the Merpeople and dragons. There is so much to see in here but the most incredible had to be the moving Buckbeak model which was just unbelievable. Also, quick word of warning, if you're an arachnophobe (like me) look out for Aragog. It terrified me.

Next is the Diagon Alley set, which was breathtaking. I've already mentioned the incredible detail in this tour but this set really enforces just how much wok went into these films. Every shop is dressed meticulously with little homages to the books, much of which would be impossible to see on screen. For example, Florean Fortescues Ice Cream Parlour was built for the set and fully decorated, but never seen on screen. To truly appreciate the art an craftsmanship which was devoted to these movie you need to see this tour.

At this point things begin to wrap up with a gallery of gorgeous concept art, much of which I've never seen before, and intricate models of Hogsmeade and the Burrow. However the best is yet to come. After leaving this gallery you walk into a room with a huge scale model of Hogwarts castle. I was stunned! I'd heard about this beforehand but in reality it was much bigger than I expected. So much care and passion clearly went into designing this castle for the films and any Potter fan will be blown away by the craftsmanship and finally being able to see Hogwarts up close. Truly the perfect end to the perfect day.

Quick word on the gift shop, set a budget. Otherwise you may never leave.

5 Stars

Afterthought: It's just my luck that the day after I visit the Christmas decorations were put up. Oh well, gives me reason to visit next year!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

5 'Marvel: Now' Titles I'm Most Excited For (or why I never seem to have money)

Marvel: Now is finally here and to say I'm excited would be an understatement! Marvel's already off to a great start with Uncanny Avengers and the Point One issue but with the dozens of titles soon to launch even the most hardcore of fan is going to struggle to keep up with everything. So here's my pick of the titles I'm most looking forward to. Some minor spoilers ahead.

5. All New X-Men
The aftermath of Cyclops' and the Phoenix Five's action. Professor X's original students in the present day. The end of 'No More Mutants'. That's a plot combination any X-Fan would be excited by. Added to this, Brian Michael Bendis on writing duties and the promise of the X-Men being tied closer to the main Marvel universe, makes this a must-have for me. Oh and the return of a living-non-clone/hallucination/Phoenix Jean Grey.

4. Thor: God of Thunder
I love Thor! Of the core group of Avengers he's easily one of my favourites and the recent 'Everything Burns' event was stellar. The idea of being able to see his past, present and future in one book is certainly exciting. In fact it's one of the most high-concept books in the line-up. Although I don't know too much about the books plot (I'm trying to avoid spoilers lately) the art looks gorgeous and I can't wait to pick it up next month.

3. Avengers Arena
I don't think there's much I really need to say about this. Basically it's Superheroes meet The Hunger Games. That's all you need to know. In all seriousness one of the biggest draws here for me (other than the incredible premise) is the return of The Runaways. Although I'd have loved to see a full-fledged Runaways title, just to see Nico and Chase appear as tributes contestants is great (and I'm still hoping for Molly and Klara in All New X-Men).

2. Avengers/New Avengers
Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four has become legendary for his intricate plotting, so understandably most fans were excited when he was announced as the new writer for Avengers. And then the cast was (partly) announced. All the heroes from the film, Spider-Man and Woman, two New Mutants, Falcon, Ms. Marvel and Wolverine and that's not even the full cast. If that wasn't enough, just a few weeks ago we learned the Illuminati would be headlining New Avengers taking the book in a darker direction.

It will be interesting to see how much (if any) the teams cinematic success will impact on this book. Regardless I'm excited. Firstly, the series has an incredible set of creators. But secondly the book has an amazing cast. The group as a whole is diverse and interesting, I just hope Hickman can balance all the characters, although based on FF, he'll be fine. I particularly love the inclusion of Cannonball and Sunspot from the New Mutants. However speaking of a younger and diverse characters...

1. Young Avengers
This was always going to be my most-anticipated book of Marvel: Now. Wiccan. Miss America. Kid Loki. Hulking. Hawkeye. Protector. Now that's a team! The Young Avengers are by far my favourite superhero team. From their early days trying to stop Iron Lad become Kang right up until The Children's Crusade, I've followed every panel of their journey. I'm even cosplaying as Wiccan for Comic-Con. So it's no surprise that this book is top of my list for 2013.

However it's not just that. The preview (in Marvel's Point One issue) was one of the best stories featured and the artwork was great. I especially loved how the fight sequences are so distinct from those in other books. Kieron Gillen's work on Journey Into Mystery and Uncanny X-Men has been some of my favourite storiy arcs and I am so excited to see another ongoing Young Avengers series. All I can say is roll on January!

So there you have my top five Marvel: Now titles. That's not to say there aren't dozens of other exciting titles. In fact numbers 4 and 5 were incredibly close. I could have easily ended up with Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers or FF on this list. I don't know how my wallet's going to cope!

Afterthought: How amazing is the variant cover for Avengers Arena #3?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Perk of Being a Wallflower (or that time I was creative)

Dear Charlie,

I'm touched you think of me as such as a good friend but I have to admit it took me a long time to get around to reading your letters. I'm sorry. I sincerely wish I had sat down to peruse them sooner but I was just too busy (I wish I could say with participating but that's probably a lie).

Let me just say how inspirational I found your story. Despite everything the world threw at you and your friends, you all just carried on. Charlie, I have to tell you, I relate to you a lot. Well to the times before you met Sam and Patrick, the shy wallflower. I think that's why I was so affected by your story, it reminded me of myself and I'm sure most people will see parts of themselves in you.

I don't really have much else to say to you because, well, I don't think you need it. Within that year of your life you shared with me you made it. Thats the important part. Despite all the obstacles, some of your own making, you survived and to me that's the true moral of your story. No matter how dark things may get, there's always light at the end of the tunnel. Well that and the importance of friendship.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. When I finished all your letters and saw your happy ending, for one moment, I felt infinite

Love always,
A Friend

NEXT READ: Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Afterthought: Ever since seeing the Perks film I have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop, to the point where I nearly know the entirety of Charlie's Last Letter. Nothing wrong there. However I now have 'Come on Eileen' stuck in my head and have been singing it all day. Sorry to anyone who's been offended by my awful voice...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Casual Vacancy: Book Review

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I want to love it, I really do. I love J.K Rowling's style, the characters were well crafted and the plot did finally pick up in the last one hundred pages. But that's the problem. It took 400 pages of exposition which moved at a snail-like pace for the story to begin to get interesting.

But before I get to my negatives lets begin with some positive. Rowling's styles has definitely matured since the last Harry Potter. The language and structure is more sophisticated suiting the mature content of the book. Although there are still an abundance of clich├ęs and an overuse of parenthesis, the book is well written.

More importantly Jo has managed to retain her skill at crafting characters, particularly the younger cast. Krystal, Andrew and Sukhvinder, despite severe personal flaws, are engaging characters who you strongly feel for making the tragic ending all the more affecting for the reader. However I do feel that, at times, the cast became too large leading to a convoluted novel with too many different perspectives. I'd much rather have seen a smaller cast who were given more time, allowing them to grow in a subtler and more natural way as at times some of the development felt a little forced.

I'm not sure how to describe the plot of this novel. I wouldn't go as far as some and call it boring but on the other hand it was hardly an engaging read. I suppose at best I'd call it a slow-burn. The beginning half was quite dull and at times a little pointless, however as plot lines began to draw together and the novel made it's way to the climax things thankfully began to pick up leading to a semi-satisfying conclusion. I say semi as I felt some characters could have been given a more complete ending but that's the price of such a large cast.

That's my views on the book itself but quickly I have to talk about one more element of the books content. Specifically Jo's use of sex. I understand that she was trying to make the book adult, but at times (quite frequently actually) I found this forced and didn't feel natural or necessary. I'm not saying that sex shouldn't have been in the book at all. Just not to the extent Rowling used it.

So how do I feel about the Casual Vacancy in one word? Conflicted. A part of me wants to love it. The cast, although vastly too large, were well developed and easy to empathise with and the climax was riveting and I struggled to put the book down past page 400. However up until that point I found the pace too slow and much of it unnecessary. The novel could easily have been much smaller with some stronger editing.

Maybe I'm being overly harsh as I was expecting much more, but my advice is only read this is the synopsis interests you. Don't make my mistake and pick it up just because it says J.K Rowling and you're hoping for a new Harry Potter because you will not find it here.

As the follow up to Harry Potter: 1 and a 1/2 Stars

As a standalone novel: 3 and a 1/2 Stars

Friday, 12 October 2012

Quick Update

Just a quick post today with some (very) brief thoughts on different things. All of these will probably be expanded on in later posts but here goes anywhere.

1. Once Upon A Time - Season 2
Is it just me or is this season better than the first? The show had a incredible first run but the opening two episodes this year have just gone from strength to strength. But I'm not sure if I can cope with these twists each week, (Spoiler alert) first the Enchanted Forest still exists and then Cora's back! I don't know where the writers get their twists from but I hope they keep it up.
Also Cora is definitely the Queen of Hearts (I think I just found the topic of the next Once Upon A Theory).

2. Glee Season 4.
Not too much to say about this one except I'm glad I stuck around through Season 3. Looks like Glee is finally finding it's feet again!

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I saw this film last night and was blown away! Unfortunately I didn't get around to reading the book beforehand (more on that later) but finally have a copy which I can't wait to read. Hopefully I'll be able to start it soon, once I've finished...

4. The Casual Vacancy
I will most definitely write a full review of this book soon but it's just taking me so long to finish. It's not that it's a bad book, it's just that nothing seems to really be happening. I'm only half way through so hopefully things will pick up but so far I'm not loving it as much as I'd hoped I would. Maybe I shouldn't have been expecting another Harry Potter and put too much anticipation on the book, but it just doesn't have the same spark and magic that Rowling's former books had.

Well, that was a quick post but I haven't really had much time to blog lately. Hopefully I'll write more thorough posts on each of these soon, my next post will probably be a full review of Te Casual Vacancy. With luck, I might just finish this weekend.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Fox's Shared Marvel Universe: Why it just won't work.

Earlier this week we received word that Fox had hired Mark Millar to oversee a shared universe for their Marvel properties. Well that was the least surprising news I've ever heard! Just a few months after Marvel's mammoth success with The Avengers, and the culmination of Marvel Studios excellent Phase 1, it seems everyone wants their own comic-book universe on film.

However Fox's just won't work. This isn't me being negative against Fox. I want it to work. Two of my favourite superhero teams are the X-Men and the Fantastic Four and I would love to see a successful film series for these characters (especially the FF who were ruined in their last set of films). It's just, unfortunately, these two properties just won't exist together.

Sure they live in the same universe on the page, but not to the extent that a team-up between them would make sense on screen. The closest relation between the two groups is Franklin Richards status as one of the worlds most powerful mutants and Reed Richards and Xaviers membership of the Illuminati (and that will definitely not work without Tony Stark). Neither of these are, in my opinion, valid basis for a shared universe, other than the odd cameo of Franklin attends the Xavier Institute.

Now the problem is Fox just doesn't have the sheer number of properties that Marvel has. In a weeks time (unless David Slade completely changes his mind) this will decrease even more once Daredevil reverts to Marvel. This leaves then with two which don't coexist together and any film will feel forced.

However that isn't to say Fox can't have a shared universe, they just need to forget the FF. The X-Men could easily sustain an entire shared universe. Not only are there the original films, the First-Class franchise and the Wolverine series (which should hopefully all come together in the proposed Days of Future Past film) but there are any number of characters from the comics who could be introduced.

Firstly Captain Britain and Excalibur assuming they have the rights could easily make a film with a tone distinct from many others and should presumable bring back Kitty Pryde and reintroduce Psylocke (the best and worst character in The Last Stand respectively). Then there's always the New Mutants, a team I'd love to see on film, X-Force, X-Factor, the list goes on and on.

But where does this leave Marvel's first family. Simple. In a franchise all of their own. The FF don't need the X-Men. All they need is a director with a good vision, a strong script and a talented cast. I could talk forever about how to make a FF film but I've already wrote a blog about that before and that's not what this is about.

So, these are just a few of my initial reactions to Fox's plans. I hope I'm completely surprised and it will be a success, however I just can't see it working. What I'd really love to see is the characters revert to Marvel and come together for one movie with all the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Marvel's hundreds of other characters (Civil-War anyone?). Well, a fan can dream...

Friday, 24 August 2012

Once Upon A Theory: Jefferson's magic hat

Late last season we were introduced to Jefferson's hat and it's role as a gateway between different worlds. As of this point in time we only know two worlds it can definitely access and one implied world:

  1. Enchanted Forest/Fairytale Land - The world where most of Storybrooke's residents come from. We definitely know it can be reached via the hat as Regina managed to reach back to grab her apple.
  2. Wonderland - Traditionally home of Alice, the Queen of Hearts and the Hatter himself. Obviously the first world we saw anyone travel to through the hat.
  3. Storybrooke/Our world - We haven't definitely seen anyone travel here through the hat but as Regina was able to reach back to the Enchanted Forest, it's a safe bet to assume Jefferson's hat is linked to our world.
The Flying Monkeys in Henry's book
During 'An Apple Red As Blood' it was even implied that the hat could be used to travel back (or forward) in time. But what other worlds might we see characters travel to this season? Based on some of the doors and clues there are certain worlds which I think are likely to show up.

The first world I'm sure we'll see is the wonderful world of 'Oz'. In the gateway between worlds in Jefferson's hat we've seen a doorway distinctly resembling the emerald curtain The Wizard hides behind in the story. We've even seen subtle hints at Oz in Henry's book. A page, shown briefly early into the show, featured a group of the Wicked Witch of The West's (Elphaba?) flying monkeys. It wouldn't be hard for Oz and it's colourful cast to appear in the show as Disney currently hold the rights to the Oz franchise (other than Wicked).

Mulan, Oz, Wonderland, a corridor and a front door?
I think we'll also see a separate world for the     character of Mulan. After hearing of the casting of Jamie Chung I wondered about how the character would fit into the existing Fairytale world and couldn't really see any obvious ties to existing characters and locations (then again who would have thought the Genie would also be the Queen's mirror?). However when re-watching Hat Trick, during the same shot showing the emerald curtain, I spotted a door with an oriental theme which looks incredibly similar to the emperors palace in Disney's Mulan. 

Now is where things become less easy to predict. I'll begin with some ideas for worlds which, although there aren't any obvious doors leading to them, would suit the direction the show is taking in season two. Firstly Neverland. Neverland has always been treated as a world separate from our own and I don't see any reason why Once would change that. I'm guessing a door would feature a star motif linking to the 'Second star to the right' quote. Another world I think likely is a world of giants. We know that Magic Beans can open a gateway between worlds so maybe Jack used a gateway to reach the giants world. It would therefore make sense that Jefferson's hat was linked to this world. Lastly there's a world of Camelot. We know Sir Lancelot will be appearing next season, so Camelot will probably appear or at least be referenced. Although, it may be a doorway in Jefferson's hat, but I think it will probably just be another kingdom in the Enchanted Forest.

Some more of Jefferson's doors including the brick wall
 (hopefully leading to Hogwarts)
The next two ideas are based on doors which reminded me of different stories but seem unlikely based on the shows direction and their access to stories. Before I get to my crazy fan crossover theory, I'll discuss Narnia. While Regina and Jefferson were between worlds several doors seemed like quite plain wooden doors, but one stood out as reminding me of the wardrobe in Disney's adaptation of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. However, as amazing, as a Narnia-centric episode would be I doubt it will happen. If I'm right Disney (and ergo ABC) sold the Narnia franchise to Walden media and it's not generally seen as a fairy-tale or legend (a theme the show seems to be focussing more on with Camelot and Mulan). 

My last idea for a world for the show is pretty big. In fact it's my favourite. It's the magical world of... Hogwarts! Okay, okay. This won't happen, but there is a door which would be perfect. One of the doorways is simply a brick wall and any Potter fan knows that Harry walks through walls many times throughout the series, such as when he visits Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4. I know this won't happen, Warner Bros would never allow it and it's not really a fairy-tale but for me this would be the ultimate crossover.

These are just a few of my ideas for worlds in the show. What other worlds can you see appearing?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Catching Fire Casting

One of the best fan-posters I've seen
As of yet I haven't commented on any of the announced cast for 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' and I probably won't until after the films release (or possibly a trailer). This is for one very simple reason. I haven't seen many of the new cast in anything yet. Therefore it would be impossible to make an informed opinion on their acting ability and whether they suit the character.

Sure I could talk about how 'this actress doesn't look like such and such' of how they have the wrong eye or hair could but this would be wrong. We shouldn't judge an actor simply on whether they look the part. For one thing, it's incredible how much an actor can change physically before starting filming. Just take a look at how much weight Anne Hathaway lost before Les Miserables or the difference between Tom Hardy before and after Bane. An actor you thought looked wrong for a part could surprise you and end up as the perfect embodiment of how you imagined a character.

But more importantly we should base whether an actor is appropriate on their acting ability. An actor could look exactly how you see a certain character, but ultimately if they can't act the role they won't work in the film. It's incredibly superficial to say that you don't like a character just because of their looks and doesn't make sense. Sure, you may want Finnick to be an Adonis but if you dig deeper into his character he is so much more than 'just a pretty face'.

I'm not saying how a character looks isn't important, simply that wait until you've seen the actor in action before judging. Or at the very least a photo of them in character.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Once Upon A Theory: Maleficent's ties to Rumple

Nearly every back story in Once Upon A Time has a link to either Regina, Rumple or Snow. However based on some information we were given in Season 1 (specifics later), I'm guessing Rumple has quite a big role in the tale of Sleeping Beauty coming up in Season 2 of the show. So in this installment of Once Upon A Theory I explore just how everyone's favourite deal-maker ties into the classic story of Aurora and Maleficent.

My only real evidence that the two have a connection is the knowledge Maleficent appears to have of the curse and Rumples knowledge of Maleficent. In 'The Thing You Love Most' Maleficent seems to know a lot about the curse and how it works, warning Regina against it. How does she know so much? My guess is she learnt it from the curses creator (Rumple). Then in 'A Land Without Magic' Rumple clearly knows a lot about Maleficent and her dragon form. Admittedly, both are tenuous links, but I'm going to venture a guess that the two have a shared past.

So how are they linked and why does Maleficent know so much about the curse? I'm betting we'll see Maleficent visit Rumple seeking help for her problems with Aurora. In response Rumple will offer the curse in the hopes that someone else will enact it, saving him from paying the price and also because there is nothing he loves apart from Bae and Belle, neither of whom he can reach. However Maleficent will refuse when she realises what the curse would do. Instead she'll take an item very precious to Rumple. His spinning wheel, which we've seen in 'Skin Deep' and 'The Return'. This will be the wheel she uses to curse Aurora.

I don't know if we'll see much more of a link between Rumple and Maleficent, but I'm hoping the show explores her history with Regina. I'd love to see how Regina treats a "friend".

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

LeakyCon London

Although I've loved Harry Potter practically my whole life, I only really became active in the fandom about three years ago. This means, living in the U.K, I've never really had the chance to experience a fan convention. So, I've been ardently following any news regarding the planned 'Alohomora 2013' and 'LeakyCon 2013' (just in case it came to London).I wasn't sure which I'd go to. Alohomora, Leaky or both.

When Leaky released their riddles last week and announced that they'd be heading to Portland, I thought the decision was made for me and I was all set, ready and excited for Alohomora's announcement on Sunday. But then Twitter completely took me by surprise with a tweet from Leaky announcing their first con in London.

 Between squeals of excitement I thought to myself "Wow, conventions are just like buses. Wait years for one and two come at once" and decided to watch Alohomora's announcement before making any decisions. My reaction was something along the lines of this: "OH MY GOD! Alohomora is also Leaky so I can go to both! I'm so excited! I can't wait until next August!" etc. My family were not impressed.

I've even managed to find someone to go with. Now I just need to make sure I have enough money when registration opens in a few weeks. Shouldn't be a problem.

On a completely related note, I'm really hoping there's a fan trip to the Studio Tour. I would love to explore the sets and props with fellow fans (and I haven't been yet). Oh, and Starkid. Always Starkid.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Once Upon A Theory: Henry's really Peter Pan

I have a confession to make. I am in love with Once Upon A Time! Somewhere between the 'Pilot' and 'Snow Falls' it became my favourite show. Since the series finale, like most fans, I've been trying to work out what's going to happen in the next series. So this is the first many theories for the show focusing on who Peter Pan is in Storybrooke.

At Comic-Con we received confirmation that Captain Hook would be coming to Storybrooke and last week casting was announced. But surely if Hook's being cast we should have heard about Peter by now. How can we explore what makes Hook tick (sorry about the pun) without his adversary? Where is all the casting for the boy from Neverland? My theory is we don't need a new cast member. In fact, if I'm right, Peter has been in the show from day one and is one of the first characters we're introduced to. He's actually, arguably, the most important character. Henry.

This is a theory I've had for a while now, which dates back to when I first saw 'That Still Small Voice' During one of Henry's counselling sessions, where Archie tells him he needs to stop believing in the fairytales, I realised that Henry doesn't want to. Not just stop believing. Henry doesn't want to grow up. Throughout the entire first season he holds on to his faith in the book, in the same way any child holds onto their belief in fairies, Santa and magic.

A boy who won't grow up. Sound familar? That's because it's a trait Henry shares perfectly with Peter. Peter Pan, in both J.M Barrie's original and Disney's adaption, is a young boy who refuses to grow up just like our friend Henry. This childlike faith and resilience is held onto by Henry throughout the first season, even when Emma tells him to stop believing.

So what else links the two characters? I'd say both's search for a mother. Whilst Peter Pan recruits Wendy to be his 'mother', Henry is desperate to reconnect with his real mother Emma. Both also suffer from abandonment from their parents. A tenuous link, but a link nonetheless. They're also parallels of each other. Peter escapes our world into a land of magic, just as Henry does, but there's one key difference. Henry brings magic from the Enchanted Forest (It sounds better than Fairytale-land) to the real world effectively doing the opposite of Peter.

Faith, Trust and an Evil Queen's magic?
Obviously none of this proves anything, but news regarding series two has given some more evidence for this theory. Our first glimpse of the new series (seen here) shows Captain Hook entering Mr Gold's shop and stealing his famed hook back, so we know Hook is coming, likely with other inhabitants of Neverland; but also shows Henry seeming scared about something happening in Storybrooke. Could it be that Henry's come to clash with Peter Pan's old foe?

Then these pictures surfaced. Henry flying. Just like Peter Pan. Albeit with the help of a spell or two of Regina's but maybe Henry keeps the flight. If he can fly he's a lot closer to becoming Peter.

I'm probably completely wrong and shouldn't try second-guessing the Once writers. I mean, who saw Ruby actually being the Wolf? However I'd love to see this happen. It would be a great twist and the town of Storybrooke probably doesn't have much space left for new character (more of that in a future theory) and I love Peter Pan.

Next time in Once Upon A Theory: Two villains, a curse and a spinning wheel.

Monday, 6 August 2012

How 'The Dark Knight Rises' surprised me

When I saw 'The Dark Knight Rises' I was blown away. The film completely took me by surprise, however not in the way you'd expect. I'd pretty much guessed all the major plot twists in advance, especially John Blake being Robin and inheriting the Batcave. No, the film surprised me due to how much I enjoyed it!

As someone who reads comic-books and loves superheroes I've, surprisingly, never really found Batman that interesting. Not that I don't think he's a good character, I've just never connected with the character and his stories. He's fine with the JLA and I enjoy his supporting characters but not solo Bruce Wayne. I'm probably one of the few people left in the world who haven't seen 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight' so I wasn't particularly excited to see 'The Dark Knight Rises'. However I went along anyway and have to say I'm glad I did.

Christopher Nolan crafted a truly great film which didn't dumb itself down to appeal to the usual summer film audience. The film tackled it's themes well and did really make you think. As I've said above I'd pretty much guessed the ending (other than Talia Al Ghul showing up) but the plot was amazing in scope and well-written. Generally the pacing was perfect, although I did wish some scenes were slightly shorter, but that's a small complaint. The effects and cinematography were also done incredibly well helping to create a truly great film.

Even better, unlike many superhero films, all of the actors put in solid performances. Christian Bale was great as Bruce Wayne, as I've heard he is in the other films, although what's up with the Batman voice? I couldn't help but laugh at some scenes ("WHERE IS THE TRIGGER!?"). All of the supporting cast were great, but especially Anne Hathaway. Her performance as Catwoman was brilliant. In fact I don't think I've ever seen a film with Anne Hathaway I haven't liked (this bodes well for Les Miserables).

Although I hate to seem negative, I do have some slight complaints. As I've said above, I didn't particularly enjoy the Batman voice. It was quite distracting in some scenes and I found it hard to understand at times. Also I'd have loved to John Blake wear one of Robin's outfits. Sure the original costume wouldn't have suited the film but a variation on the Nightwing costume would have worked fine. This last complaints has nothing to do with the film and is simply to do with me but all I could see everytime Alfred was on screen was 'A Muppets Christmas Carol'. I left the cinema with 'One More Sleep 'Til Christmas' in my head.

Despite not feeling the same level of anticipation I felt for 'The Avengers' or 'The Amazing Spider-Man',  I loved this film! Although I'm not 100% behind the gritty approach to superheroes it allowed the film to tackle it themes in a much stronger way than this years other comic book adaptions, and created an amazing adaption and stand-alone film.

Four and a half stars

On a slightly different note if Warner Brothers don't use John Blake in the 'Justice League' movie they are insane. The 'Man of Steel' teaser looks like it could easily exist in the Nolanverse and they'd already have two characters established before the film (rumoured for 2015). They'd only need to make a Wonder Woman film and the main trio are complete.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

My vision for the Fantastic Four reboot

A few weeks ago news broke that Josh Trank, the director of last year's 'Chronicle', was set to direct Fox's reboot of the Fantastic Four. This set me thinking about how the film should be and two things stuck out for me. Firstly, Trank's use of handheld cameras and the 'found-footage' format. Secondly, what I feel defines the Richards from other superhero teams, the dysfunctional family dynamic. Not only are the Fantastic Four a powerful group of heroes, but they are first and foremost a family. In fact they're also known as 'Marvel's First Family'.

The Fantastic Four
So how could this two different ideas be used in a film? I'd look towards the (quite frankly, awful) E! show 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians'. I know this sounds crazy but bear with me. In the comics the Fantastic Four have been public with their powers for many years and have a celebrity-status. So why couldn't they have a TV show following their lives?

Obviously this would skip over the groups origins, but they don't really need to be retold. Nearly everyone knows how The Fantastic Four got their powers and it's not the most interesting story to tell. That's not to say they can't be referenced. Every reality show needs a great opening. Why couldn't 'The Fantastic Fours' show their origins? So how to show the reality show set up.

They could take the route 'The Hunger Games' used and have an actor portray a presenter commentating on the events of the film. Why not take a character from the Comics for this? One character they could use is Dazzler. Fox has the rights to the X-Men characters, including Dazzler. Although she is a singer in the comics, during the 'House of M' reality she was portrayed as a talk-show host.

We could have a great first act exploring life as a family, heroes and celebrities, which should create a dynamic different from most other Superhero films. This would follow shows like the 'Kardashians' or even 'Modern Family' allowing characters to speak to the audience and should have a comedic tone.

But every great superhero film needs a great villain. I'm not entirely sure who should be the main villain of this film but know that it shouldn't be Doctor Doom. He should be saved for a later film and pose a huge threat. That's not to say he couldn't be referenced but he shouldn't be the villain of the piece. If the piece focuses on the family dynamic and fame I think the Puppet Master could be a great foe. He could control the Fantastic Four and try to turn public opinion against them. It probably won't be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although I can dream) but if it is it would be great to see cameos from other Marvel heroes.

These are just a few ideas for how I think the film should go. Chances are I'm completely wrong but I can dream...

Deathly Hallows: 5 years (plus a day) on

Let's all just pretend this was posted yesterday (21st July), on the actual anniversary of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' release, otherwise I just look stupid.

J.K Rowling and Deathly Hallows
It seems like only yesterday that I was queuing to receive my copy of, what is arguably, the most highly anticipated book of all time. Being just eleven years old, I (much to my dismay) couldn't go by myself to a midnight release and had to spend the night waiting whilst others were already reading and some were probably already nearing 'The Battle of Hogwarts' or even finished when I finally got my copy (a whole eleven hours after the books release, thanks Mum and Dad). I still remember being given the book by a man dressed (quite believably) as Hagrid and rushing to the checkout so I could finally learn the fate of Harry, Hermione, Ron and (most importantly for me) Lupin.

The next two and a half days were spent going through a mixture of emotions. Firstly, frustration at family and friends keeping me from reading. Secondly, sadness. I cried countless times throughout my first reading of 'Deathly Hallows'. Considering I cried nearly every time a character died (even Pettigrew) and for most of 'The Battle of Hogwarts' you can imagine how tear-stained my copy became (Okay, I'm probably exaggerating a bit but that's how I remember it). But mostly I felt excited and exhilarated for every twist and turn and whatever J.K Rowling had planned for the next chapter.

Reading "All was well." and closing the book was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, it was over. Harry, Ron and Hermione had survived the war, beaten Voldemort and had grown up. Truly a happy ending. On the other hand, it was over. There would never be another book. There would never be a new story. No more Hogwarts. No more adventures with the Trio. No more magic.

The Deathly Hallows in the sand
(made by Me!)
Sure, there was still three films left to look forward to but would it ever be the same? Would Harry Potter still be there now the books had finished. I thought 'No, it can't not without a new book', how was I? Since that book we've obviously had the film, but also a Tour, Pottermore (finally new information from Jo!), countless fandom projects and events (MyHogwarts, LeakyCon, Starkid's musicals, the list goes on and on) and a theme park (which I've yet to visit, fingers crossed for 2013)! I could spend forever talking about how strong the fandom still is, how Potter will continue and how it changed my life but they're all stories for another day. This is about the final book.

I can't actually believe it's been five years since the last book (and a year since the last film!). As I've already said it seems like only yesterday I was reading it for the first time and thinking it was the end. But I was wrong, as J.K Rowling said "Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home". All was well.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thor Predictions

A few days ago I made some predictions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe; specifically that Malekith the Accursed would be in 'Thor: The Dark World'. Well, it looks like I was right...

(I also wrote this article. Just thought I'd point that out)

Some (very) brief thoughts on the Emmy nominations

Before I start saying my thoughts I should probably admit, that living in England, I haven't seen all of these series so my opinion is probably widely inaccurate. However I still have some thoughts on a couple of categories I thought I'd share with the world.

So, my first reaction to the Drama nominations was... I need to watch my drama. I am not lying when I say that I haven't seen any of the series nominated. The only one nomination I can judge is Uma Thurman's nomination for Smash. Thinking about it the only Dramas I watch are Sherlock and Once Upon A Time leading into my next point...

Where were all the nominations for Once Upon A Time? I don't know how well it's been received critically in America but it's definitely one of the best (and I'd argue the best) programme on TV. At the very least I thought Robert Carlyle would get a nomination and I think many more of the actors deserved a nod. Although as long as Once gets the award for costume design I'll be happy, Eduardo Castro truly earned it.

I really hope Smash wins the award for best original song. 'Let Me Be Your Star' has become one of my favourite songs since I heard it in the Pilot, but I'm surprised some of the other songs ('I Never Met A Wolf' specifically) didn't get a nomination.

Now a few thoughts on actors. I hope Dot Marie Jones wins for 'Outstanding Guest in a Comedy'. I know Glee doesn't get the critical acclaim it once did, but her performance in the show was amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch should win, although I'm not sure why 'A Scandal in Belgravia' was the Sherlock episode put forward. I found 'The Reichenbach Fall' was much better. Lastly I'd love Zooey Deschanel to win for lead comedy actress as I love her in New Girl and Sofia Vergara for supporting. I loved the number of nomination Modern Family has in 'Outstanding Supporting Actor in a comedy'!

Just a few of my thoughts on the nominations with my limited experience with the nominations, probably not right though.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

'Monsters of Men' by Patrick Ness

I'm not exaggerating when I saw that 'Monsters of Men' by Patrick Ness is one of the best books I've ever read. Just like it's two predecessors in the 'Chaos Walking' trilogy it's thrilling and a joy to read yet also makes you think about some pretty big themes and ideas.

'Monsters of Men' is the third and final book the trilogy which began with 'The Knife of Never Letting Go'. To avoid spoilers I won't discuss the plot too much, but just say that the setting and characters are rich and well-developed drawing you in as a reader. The plot has so many clever twists and turns that I didn't see coming (despite my friend warning me to look out for them). Ness creates suspense and tension masterfully and manages to juggle three distinct narrative voices throughout. I found this created a great dynamic, although got slightly frustrated by this device at times. Not because it wasn't used well or I didn't like it. Simply because just as I was on the edge of my seat with one characters story I was left on a cliffhanger and moved to another's. Apparently I'm a very impatient person.

Some very large themes are also addressed incredibly well. The book forces you to think about quite dark concepts including war, power and redemption. One line which really stuck out for me was "a frightened but willing army being led by a blind man". In the novel there's a very obvious literal interpretation but this quote just stood out to me with all the different connotations and meanings which could be found about war and whether it's necessary and if anyone truly wants it.  I know plenty of young-adult novels address similar themes ('The Hunger Games' anyone?) but I felt these ideas were much more strongly represented in this book.

To sum up I loved this book! It was a breath of fresh air (sorry about the cliche) and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. It was the perfect conclusion to what has become one of my favourite book series. Now if someone would be kind enough to lend me a Kindle I can read the prequel 'A New World' and be all set for the film (I can't wait).

5 Stars

Next Read: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - A classic I've never got around to reading. I'll also finally understand Bella Swan's obsession with the book.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Disney/Pixar and Sequels

Let me just say right now that I loved Toy Story 2 and 3. Somehow Pixar managed to improve on a masterpiece each time and managed to make films about toys which still make me sob (I can't help but cry every time Jessie sings 'When She Loved Me'). However those two films were rare jewels in Disney's line of sequels, which are often terrible successors to great films, and for some reason they seem persistent to continue this trend.

Following the Disney Renaissance, beginning with 'The Little Mermaid' in 1989 and ending with 'Tarzan' in 2000, I think it's fair to say Disney hit a bit of a creative block. Let's face it films like 'Home on the Range' were going to fail after 'Pocahontas' and 'Beauty and the Beast'. Disney then started churning out direct-to-video sequels of many of the classic films. I'm not saying all of these films are bad, but they don't stand up to their predecessors and the Disney legacy.

Unfortunately Pixar seems to be starting down a similar path. Later this year Monsters University will be released, whilst Finding Nemo 2 (rumoured for release in 2015) and Toy Story 4 are reportedly in development. This worries me. These films may be amazing and prove me wrong (I really hope they do) but it just seems Pixar are running out of ideas. The Toy Story sequels have admittedly become classics and I would love to see more from the characters in Finding Nemo, but don't belittle their legacies by rushing and producing less than stellar films. Make sure there's a valid plot and give the films enough time to be made properly and whatever you do never make a sequel to 'Wall.E' or 'Up'. Those films are perfect just as they are

That's my slight rant about Pixar and sequels over. Now for something a bit more positive but still related. Disney finally seems to be turning things back around. 'The Princess and the Frog' and 'Tangled' were both amazing film, which I hope will be regarded as classics in years to come, and 'Frozen' is sounding better and better the more I hear about it.

A fan's predictions for Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Since Comic-Con everyone now has a better idea of the direction Marvel is planning for their film universe and their plan for the next few years. However we don’t know the exact details of each film, so using my powers of deduction (which aren’t great), I’m going to try to piece together what’s coming up in each film and how they’ll link together. Before we start, I'm guessing each film will feature Maria Hill (or as I like to call her 'Robin Scherbatzky') and Thanos.

Iron Man 3                                     

Iron Man 3, the first film in Marvel’s second phase and the third in the Iron Man franchise. This is probably the easiest film to make predictions about as we know the most about it. We know it’s going to be a more personal story for Tony and after the footage screened at Comic-Con we know The Mandarin will appear. So which story are they focusing on? My guess would be ‘Extremis’. It’s been rumoured for a long time now and it’s pretty much been confirmed this film will feature nanotechnology. We’ll likely see Tony manipulate the virus allowing him to mentally activate his armour.

With the reveal of the Mandarin it’s also likely that they will be adapting a story in which the Mandarin, a long-time villain of Iron Man who possesses ten rings each granting him a power, releases the virus into the general population, though that's just one of thousands of Mandarin stories. I'm hoping Mandarin will be the only major villain. He can easily carry a film, and everyone knows what happens when a superhero film tries too many antagonists (Spider-Man 3?). We may have the government continue to try to take control of Tony's armour designs, but it won't be a major storyline, just setting the scene a little more for the eventual Civil War film.

My guess as to how this will link to ‘Avengers 2’will be that one of the Mandarin rings will have an Infinity Gem which Thanos will arrive to steal. We may also see a link to Ant-Man such as Janet Van Dyne (The Wasp) as the daughter of one of Tony’s business partners. I don't think this film will link into the next Thor film, though we might see a post credit sequence setting up for Captain America.

Thor: The Dark World

This films a little trickier to make predictions about. All we know is the title and that it will focus less on Earth, but on Asgard and the other nine realms. From ‘The Dark World’ I’m betting that one of three storylines will be adapted. Firstly, The Dark Elves. If they appear, will be led by ‘Malekith the Accursed’ and will use the ‘Casket of Ancient Winters’ (seen briefly in Thor) to attempt to conquer Asgard. On the other hand Hela, the Asgardian goddess of Death, will likely be trying to expand her power outside of Hel and Niffelheim. Thirdly they may be adapting a story about 'The Dark Gods' a group of Asgardians who were banished by Odin, but escape and attempt to take over Asgard, but this is a really obscure plot to choose this early into the series. I'm hoping 'The Dark Eleves' will appear just so we can see more of the nine realms and their population. However these are really just guesses and anything could happen in this film.

However I'm pretty certain that at some point in the film Loki will escape from prison and steal the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ or gem for Thanos tying into Avengers 2. If Hela is introduced she may be used as a substitute for the personification of Death which Thanos is in love with.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This will be a pretty faithful adaption of Ed Brubaker’s ‘Winter Soldier’ story-arc. We’ll see flashbacks to ‘Captain America’ but after Bucky supposedly died he’ll be saved by a group of Russian scientists. He’ll then be ‘re-programmed’ and given biological enhancements and act as a super-soldier for Russia. In the present day Captain America and Black Widow will find out about this and attempt to free Bucky and remind him of his past life. How it links to the other films is a bit harder to work out. My guess is that Bucky is being controlled using the Mind Gem (one of the Infinity Gem’s Thanos is collecting) and we’ll be introduced to several more S.H.I.E.L.D agents who will play a role in future films. At some point in the film Cap’s shield will break and an after credits scene will show S.H.I.E.L.D agents travelling to Wakanda to get Vibranium to fix it. We’ll then see the Black Panther who will be introduced in ‘Avengers 2’.


To start with Ant-Man may not even appear in Phase 2 but, with filming slated to start next year, hopefully he’ll be ready to join the team for ‘Avengers 2’. This film probably won’t have many strong ties to the ongoing storylines in the other films, apart from the odd S.H.I.E.L.D agent. Edgar Wright’s already said that the film is going to focus on both Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and Scott Lang, his successor. I’d expect flashbacks to Pym in the 60s discovering Pym particles and inventing the Ant-Man suit and helmet. This will probably be a faithful adaption of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s ‘The Man in the Ant-Hill’. If Scott Lang is involved, they will likely be adapting a story where Lang steals the Ant-Man suit and uses it to steal money to save his dying daughter. As a long time 'Young Avengers' fan (I'm planning a Wiccan costume for Kapow Comic-Con next year) this excites me. Even though Cassie won't be old enough or in a position to take on the role of Stature, she'll still be the first Young Avenger introduced to the MCU setting the stage for the others.

As I've already said there won't be much to tie this into the other films. We will hopefully see Janet, but I don't know if she'll ever make it to The Avengers and maybe an after-credits scene will show Nick Fury inviting Lang to join the Avengers. I think it's weird that Pym isn't being introduced into the modern MCU. It sort of puts a barrier against loads of great storylines and characters (Janet, Ultron and Vision).

Guardians of the Galaxy

This film will probably be used as an introduction for Thanos, as well as the Guardians. I’d predict that Thanos will manipulate the Guardians into helping him but will ultimately betray them to steal an infinity Gem. The Guardians will attempt to fight him whilst one travels to Earth to warn them. We know the team features Starlord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Racoon and Groot; but I'm guessing either Ms Marvel or Nova will be introduced as S.H.I.E.L.D or S.W.O.R.D (basically space S.H.I.E.L.D) agents, either in this film or before (maybe in Captain America 2) and will gain their powers at some point in the film. This gives the film a human basis and someone who can act as the eyes of the viewer. 

An after-credits scene will show Fury watching footage of one of the guardians (Ms Marvel or Nova if they're in the film) crashing towards Earth, before ordering Maria Hill to assemble the team. The camera will pan out and show Fury in possession of the last Infinity Gem. Cue heavy rock music as a teaser for Avengers 2 plays featuring the team looking distraught and scared interlaced with shots of explosion and fights before ending with Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet and the films logo.

Avengers 2

There's not much to say about Avengers 2. We pretty much know that Thanos will be the main antagonist and any comic book fan knows that this means the Infinity Gauntlet. The only major variables are who will make up the team? My guess:
  • Iron Man
  • Captain America
  • Thor
  • Black Widow
  • Hawkeye
  • Hulk
  • Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and maybe The Wasp
  • Black Panther
  • Ms Marvel or Nova.

Obviously that's a huge team with potentially nine members (unless Marvel surprises us all and kills off one of their major heroes), plus all of the supporting characters. I'd hope some of these characters would leave the team at the end. The obvious member to leave is Tony Stark as Robert Downey Jr. contract doesn't last much longer, but anyone could leave in this film. Nick Fury could even assemble a team without some members because they're not needed to face Thanos. As long as Janet Van Dyne and Thor are there I'm happy (Janet probably won't be so I'm not getting my hopes up). 

These are just a few ideas of where Marvel Studios could be heading in the next few years. I might be right or I might be completely wrong (probably the latter). All I know is the Phase 2 is set to be pretty incredible.

Who am I?

I think the title of the blog says it all. I am a geek. Well, I don’t really like that label but that’s what society tends to call someone who spends their time obsessing over literature and books (particularly Harry Potter), reading comics and sitting on the Internet trying to find a place to shout their views. I aspire to become a journalist one day and like to write fantasy fiction in my spare time. That’s probably one reason why I started this blog; A love of writing.

But I won’t bore you with the specifics of my life. All you really need to know about this blog is that there will be a lot of three things.
A)    Harry Potter – Something I have an (probably unhealthy) obsession with.
B)    Marvel Comics – I only really began reading comics in the past year and a half and have since fallen in love with the medium, but particularly Marvel and their characters.
C)    Broadway – Not the street, the theatres. Specifically musicals. A love of mine from a young age. Also where I’d be heading in life if I could sing, instead I’m settling for regular old New York.
These are just a few of the things I’m likely to blog about, but I don’t know why I’m saying any of this. It’s not like anyone really cares. You can probably find a million blogs virtually identical to this. Oh well, I’m just going to carry on talking to myself anyway...