Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Iron Man 3 posters may be sexiest posters ever made

Seriously! Even if you haven't got the hots for Robert Downey Jnr. (why not you crazy person!), these posters are just so damn... well, sexy! Roll on 26th April 2013 (3rd May 2013 USA).

Monday, 25 February 2013

Wicked cast ask for your votes for the #Oliviers

The fun and magical untold story of Wicked is eligible to win the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award at the 2013 Olivier Awards - and it's the only award that gives theatre fans the chance to crown their favourite show.

Wicked is based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, which re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. The show follows the unlikely friendship between Glinda and Elphaba - before they become the now infamous Glinda The Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West. 

Wicked has already been seen by over 36 million people around the world and to win over a few more votes, the cast themselves have recorded a special message...

Votes for Wicked can be made via the following link: and voters will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win tickets to the Olivier Awards themselves. 

WICKED is showing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre NOW and is booking into April 2014.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Cloud Atlas: Book vs Film

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell's sweeping epic tale of six paths connecting over time and space does not leap off the pages as the easiest book to adapt for the big screen. However, Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski didn't let a little thing like complexity stop them adapting it onto the big screen.

The book was one of the most challenging novels I have ever read but man, was I proud when I reached the end of it. The book spans our past, present and future with six different storylines that are connected in some way as each person's soul continues to move through time. One man writes a diary that is read by another, one composes music that is listened to by another....

What made the book such an impressive piece of literature, though, is not just the complexity of weaving six storylines together as one. What Mitchell has managed to achieve with this book is nothing short of miraculous. He uses different styles for each - letters, diary entries, transcribed interviews - and alters the language to suit the era. His intricate prose is simply stunning to behold. It is all about the language he uses but thanks to his insane skill as a writer, the story becomes so much more than the words on the pages.

To adapt this 2004 Man Booker prize-winning book onto the big screen then, presents no end of problems. How do you cater for the sheer number of characters required? How do you compress all the intricacies of such a complex plot into just one film? How do you convey the subtleties of the customs and linguistics of the book in something as overt as a film?

Well first of all, the stellar cast enlisted for the film each played a different role in each of the six storylines, showing the connection between them all the more overtly. The layout has been altered too. While the book stuck with one story, moved onto the next and then worked its way back, the film jumps between them all continuously. This, once again, serves to reinforce the inate connection between everyone.

What the film manages to capture is sublime. With an incredible cast, perfect direction, six different worlds that are entirely immersive and plenty of action, drama, romance and intrigue, the film manages to remain compelling irrespective of its length.

Somehow, though the beautiful language and prose used in the book isn't exactly conveyed onto the big screen, the book adds as an aid. The pair work well as just that - a pair. Understanding the basic concepts of the book beforehand makes it that much easier to follow how each story is linked in the film. If you went into the film knowing nothing, it would probably be a jarring experience that would leave most viewers baffled. It is hard to enjoy something, after all, that just flies over your head. That said, it isn't essential to read the book before seeing the film. A lot is explained and a little research beforehand will suffice.

When I first read the book a couple of years ago, I only gave it 3/5. Yet now, having seen the film and given more thought to the story and what Mitchell achieved, I can appreciate it for what it is. Both book and film are challenging, require constant focus and attention and are certainly not easy to follow but if you have the time and patience, they are both thought-provoking and stunning to behold.

Book and film - 5/5 FOBLES

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Warm Bodies: Book vs Film

Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies quite consciously does not fit into any neat genre box. It is both dark and fun, romantic and twisted, silly and serious. Yet in Marion's capable hands, the story never feels disjointed and flows just as richly as the blood from those being devoured by the zombies. In so many ways, Marion's tale is filled with brains.

The story follows a chance encounter between zombie 'R' and human Julie. When R goes on a hunger run with some of his fellow zombies, he is instantly drawn to Julie and feels the need to protect, not eat her. What follows is the development of the relationship between the two, as R tries to become more human and Julie realises that the 'dead' are not as dead as she first thought. It pays close attention to the elements of connection and interaction that makes us feel alive.

The book, though often romantic and fun, is set against an immensely dark backdrop where humans have been forced into compounds in order to survive the zombie epidemic that has taken over the world. It raises a lot of questions about the shifting priorities in this dystopian future and the conflict between surviving and really living.

The film adaptation, directed by Jonathan Levine, manages to remain quite faithful to the original text and has two incredible actors playing R (Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (Teresa Palmer). What Hoult manages to capture with such little dialogue is nothing short of miraculous. It is unsurprising then that Palmer's Julie falls for him. Hoult has arguably the most expressive eyes seen on screen for years, conveying so much depth with a shrug or a glance. His inner monologue helps, of course, and keeping his narrative was a genius move on the part of the filmmakers. Palmer, in turn, rises to leading lady with class, bringing the hardened edge to Julie that the role requires as well as the intense vulnerability. She is incredibly brave and daring, as much when facing the zombies as when she faces her terrifyingly rigid father - who just so happens to be the general of her compound.

The combination of peril, action, romance and comedy is there in the film, just as it is in the book. The only real difference to the feel of the story is that it is far more heavily weighted on the romance. This, though, is a forgivable shift as the romance itself is so brilliantly original, it still brings something new to the table. 

Another brilliant element to the novel that has found its way into the film is the author's great use of music. In the novel, when R cannot say what he wants to, he uses music to say it for him, often playing Julie records that reveal his true feelings. In the film, this happens to great effect and is mixed with a sublime soundtrack that blends some classic tunes from recent decades which serve to enhance the nostalgic elements of the story.

Overall, the tone of the book has been softened for cinema audiences. A lot of what made the book so devilishly dark has been glossed over or ignored entirely and the ending is all just a little bit 'nice'. However, the heart of the book remains, thanks to the same careful character focus Levine showed in 50/50 and the beautifully emotive leads.  

While the book has a real crossover feel to it - because it never feels like a young adult novel despite the youth of the two leads - the film does seem to have more of a teen audience in mind. However, the plot is so clever and witty that it will appeal to anyone looking for something a bit new and different. Twilight, this is NOT.

Book - 4.5/5 FOBLES
Film - 4/5 FOBLES

Friday, 8 February 2013

Win Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion film tie-in edition


The film adaptation of Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies arrives in UK cinemas today. To celebrate, here's your chance to win your own copy of the book that started it all...


‘I never thought I could care so passionately for a zombie. Isaac Marion has created the most unexpected romantic lead I’ve ever encountered.’ STEPHENIE MEYER

‘R is the thinking woman’s zombie – though somewhat grey-skinned and monosyllabic, he could be the perfect boyfriend if he could manage to refrain from eating you. This is a wonderful book, elegantly written, touching and fun, as delightful as a mouthful of fresh brains.’ AUDREY NIFFENEGGER

‘A mesmerising evolution of a classic contemporary myth.’ SIMON PEGG

Warm Bodies Synopsis

R is a zombie, with a great record collection, no memories, no pulse and limited vocabulary. But he has dreams. He is different from his fellow Dead.
Julie is human, warm, fierce and very much alive.
When R makes the decision to rescue her from a zombie attack, a switch is flicked and he suddenly finds meaning to his lifeless existence. This has never happened before. This is against all the rules. R begins to have new thoughts and feelings, and together, he and Julie attempt to bring the whole decaying world back from the dead.

Isaac Marion lives in Seattle. He is not married, did not go to college and has not won any prizes. He has, however, written several short stories and novels which he has published online or in limited editions. Warm Bodies began life as a short story called ‘I Am A Zombie Filled With Love’ which was published on his website and promoted with a video trailer on YouTube. Visit his blog at

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, all you have to do is email with the name of the actor who plays R in the film adaptation. (If you're not sure, check out my interview with Marion here). Don't forget to put "Warm Bodies competition" as the subject heading and please include the city in which you live in your email.

This competition is open to UK residents only and closes at midday GMT Sunday 3rd March.

Interview with Warm Bodies author Isaac Marion

The film adaptation for Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies hits UK cinemas today and stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. I got to ask the book's author a few questions about the zombie romance novel and how it felt having his book turned into a film. Here's what he had to say...
How did the idea for Warm Bodies come about?
Are you asking where thoughts come from? Are we the sum of our experiences, or does identity and creativity come from somewhere outside of us? Pretty heavy stuff for a blog, man...
What made you want to bring romance into a zombie-filled dystopia?
I couldn't write a novel about a zombie just wandering around eating people for 250 pages. He needed to change, to rediscover his humanity and learn how to feel again, and what feeling is more essentially human than love? It's the most powerful emotion we're capable of. It seemed like the perfect catalyst to trigger R's transformation.
Though the setting for the book is dark, you've included plenty of humour and satire - and a little romance too. Was it always a conscious effort of yours to include all these elements together in the one story?
Nah, it just happened. The humor flows naturally from the premise, which is inherently ridiculous. The story is sincere and it takes itself seriously, but it also embraces its absurdity, which leads to jokes.
How did you react when you found out the book was being made into a film?
I probably ran around and punched a lot of walls. (In a good way.)
Have you been involved on the adaptation at all? If so, how?
They consulted me at various steps in the process. I had meetings with the director to discuss his ideas and whatnot. I gave extensive notes on the script, many of which were implemented. I wouldn't call it a collaboration, but they were really respectful toward me as the author.
What do you think about the casting? Did you have anyone in mind when you wrote the book? An idea of who they might be like?
I always kind of pictured Ryan Gosling as R when movie plans were first announced, but Nicholas absolutely nailed the role and I can't imagine anyone doing it better.
I hear you're writing a prequel about R, Julie and Nora. What can you tell us about it?
It's written! It’s called The New Hunger and it’s out now!
Have you seen the film? If so, what did you think of it?
I've seen it three times. I like it a lot. It glosses over some of the heavier elements of the book and takes a bit lighter approach, tonally, but that's always the case with film adaptations and I think it works really well as a movie. It's funny and charming and I'm incredibly excited to see it reaching so many people.
What's next once you're finished with these characters? Will you be writing more dystopias or something entirely different?
 I definitely won't be writing anything involving zombies or any other pop-culture fixtures after this. Most of the stuff I write is much weirder and harder to categorize, and I'm looking forward to letting my imagination run wild again and watching people struggle to figure out which box to stuff it into. If I've learned anything from publishing Warm Bodies, it's that people can't just let a book be a book. It has to be a YA book or a paranormal-romance or some other reductive, easily dismissed subcategory. I'm excited to write something that can be judged on its own merits instead of the merits of its assigned genre.
WARM BODIES BY ISAAC MARION IS OUT NOW. Check out my review here.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Film Rights Bought for Karen Thompson Walker's THE AGE OF MIRACLES

One of the most quietly affecting debut novels from last year was that of Karen Thompson Walker. Her novel The Age of Miracles was a refreshingly calm look at a sort-of-apocalyptic future. Through the perceptive voice of a young girl, the story follows the aftermath of the announcement that the Earth's rotation is actually slowing down - meaning that days and nights are getting longer and what effects this phenomenon will have on the planet in both the short and long term are, as yet, unknown.

River Road Entertainment optioned the film rights before the book had even come out but - though I adored the book - I'm not sure how well it will work on the big screen. What makes the book so captivating is the prose used in the text - not what actually happens. It's all very slow and calm but a compelling read nonetheless. There's no asteroid making its way down to our planet or the threat of annihilation - not imminently anyway.

It will be interesting to see if someone can take this on and keep the feel of the original text - without making it like every other apocalyptic/dystopian future set film. The Age of Miracles is a beautifully unique text and it would be such a shame to see it adapted into just another film that has been done so many times before.

Check out my review of The Age of Miracles here.
Source: Word and Film

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Film Review: Zero Dark Thirty

One of the biggest shocks when the Academy Award nominations were announced was the notable absence of Kathryn Bigelow. The former Oscar winner (for The Hurt Locker) was thought to be one of the favourites to win for her most recent effort, Zero Dark Thirty. In fact, the film’s star, Jessica Chastain, has been nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of Maya and the film itself has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. So why was Bigelow herself left off?

Arguably, it is because the film is so controversial and so very current. The film begins with a black screen and a haunting audio of just some of the calls made to emergency services on 9/11. This is quickly followed with scenes of torture as the CIA operatives try to get answers from their prisoners. There are also lots of reenactments, mixed in with real footage of just some of the terror attacks across the world in the years that followed that horrifying day we all remember so vividly. Personally, I found the recordings at the beginning and the London bombing far more upsetting than the torture scenes (though they hardly made for easy viewing) because it is all still so close to home for me and no doubt so many others.

What sceptics may not realise, however, is just how brave and un-biased Bigelow’s latest film is. It all feels very real, making for an unsettling few hours at the cinema. But what it may lack in ‘comfort’ it more than makes up for in simply stunning filmmaking. Bigelow is no idiot. She has clearly done her research here and offers as much truth as she can. However, at no point does she condone the use of torture or force an agenda down her viewers' throats. She explores the reasoning behind the use of torture and the lengths so many were desperate to go to to bring down Al-Qaeda.

With the strong, capable and complex Maya (Chastain) becoming the team’s leader, Zero Dark Thirty becomes more about the people involved behind the scenes than the war itself. With a strong female lead on both sides of the camera, this is no girl-power driven film. It is a film about strong characters, giving their all for the safety of their country.

Maya is to this decade what Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling was to the 1990s. She is driven, confident, extremely intelligent and not afraid to upset her bosses by telling them off. But underneath it all, she is human and totally relatable. She is an incredible central character and the driving force behind this multi-faceted character-driven story. Though many of the faces of the supporting cast are well-known, there is rarely a moment where you find yourself thinking of them as Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler or Chris Pratt. They all embody their characters to such an extent that who they are off camera has no relevance. Even a shockingly small part for Mark Strong soon became just one cog in this flawless machine. The only break from this pattern was when - quite bizarrely - the brilliantly fun Doctor Who star John Barrowman appeared as a straight-laced character who is on screen for mere minutes.

Though Zero Dark Thirty is clearly not the sort of film that will appeal to everyone, it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive pieces of cinema from recent years - bold, unyielding and immensely powerful with an end sequence so tense I'm not sure I remembered to breathe throughout.

Zero Dark Thirty is a very long film - at almost three hours in length - but worth every second of screen time it demands. It is the type of film that lingers. It gets under your skin and stays there for days, even weeks, afterwards.

4.5/5 FOBLES

Book Giveaway: The Host by Stephenie Meyer


Next month will mark the release of the film adaptation of The Host, which arrives in UK cinemas on 29th March. It was surely only a matter of time before bestselling author Stephenie Meyer's other book was adapted into a film and the adaptation certainly looks promising, with Saoirse Ronan cast as Melanie Stryder, support from Diane Kruger and William Hurt and writer/director Andrew Niccol at the helm.

To celebrate the film's release, the lovely folks over at Little, Brown UK have got three copies of the film tie-in edition of the book to give away. 

To be in with a chance of winning one of these three copies of The Host, all you have to do is email with the name of the other book series that was written by The Host author Stephenie Meyer. Don't forget to put "The Host competition" as the subject heading and please include the city in which you live in your email.

The Host Official Synopsis

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading 'soul' who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

This competition is open to UK residents only and closes at midday GMT Sunday 10th March.