Film Review – “The Imitation Game” (Director: Morten Tyldum)

the-imitation-game-poster-uk

 

NOTE: As this film has not been released in all territories at the time of writing, there are some plot points that could be considered as slight spoilers.

 

Normally, I’d be on the site writing about all stuff Whovian, or at the very least something geek related.  However, I want to break this habit this once to write about a film that is gaining a lot of buzz at present, “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

For those who don’t know the plot of this film, “The Imitation Game” follows the story of mathematician and logician Alan Turing.  Primarily set during the Second World War, the film sees Turing and his team, including rival Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and best friend Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), seek to crack the Nazi Enigma cypher system.  It also looks back to his teenage years at boarding school and his post-war conviction for maintaining a homosexual relationship that led to him having to endure the indignity of Government enforced hormone “therapy” and his suicide at the age of 41.

I have to admit to knowing very little about Alan Turing, both the man and the contribution that he actually made to to the war effort.  So, due to my interest in the Second World War and the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch was to play the lead as Turing, I decided to see this film on the first day of release.  Over the two hours running time, I was treated to not only a fantastic historical drama/thriller, but a film with a very human core and, despite the foreknowledge of how it would end, it has a great deal of dry British wit within it.

The storyline by Graham Moore, based on Andrew Hodges’ book “Alan Turing: The Enigma”, the story moves you throughout three key time periods starting with Turing’s arrest in Manchester in 1951.  However, it doesn’t dwell in this time period, choosing to focus on the World War II time period whilst providing snippets of background from Turing’s youth which seeks to provide an insight to who he is and the reasons for some of his behaviours – notably his close friendship with Christopher Morcom and the unhappiness he had to endure due to bullying and, from the film’s perspective, a form of obsessive compulsive behaviours.  Whilst I have seen films where the audience is guided backwards and forwards along a character’s lifetime, this film avoids the trap of becoming a confusion of where to follow the storyline as it plays the story out by looking at Turing’s behaviours and then providing a context to them, either in a Second World War time period scene or a scene from his youth.

The direction by Morten Tyldum provides just enough plot movement to keep the audience at the edge of their seats to classify this as a thriller.  In fact, it’s not just a thriller, it’s a thriller with further thrillers within it.  The scene where Turing and his team work out how to set the cyphers had my heart in my mouth when you realise that moment of clarity that they must have had.  However, it also has moments of calm to allow the audience to catch their breath and follow the story.

The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat is beautiful working alongside the story with the main piano theme sounding like Turing’s early computer and matches his work on films such as “The King’s Speech”, “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” in using the background music as an additional source of character and tension alongside what you see on screen.

The acting on this film is nothing short of peerless with Benedict Cumberbatch making a fantastic lead in the role of Turing, in fact I would go as far as to say it’s the best performance that I have seen him in to date.  He combines the arrogance of a man who knows that he has the answers that others don’t (remind you of anyone) with an all consuming passion for the work that he is doing and a cold mathematical clarity which comes to the fore in a chilling scene later in the film.  He also gives Turing a humanity and dignity which whilst present throughout the film definitely comes to the fore in the film’s climax.

Keira Knightley provides a perfect counterpoint to Cumberbatch in the role of Joan.  Her character opens him up to the possibility of Turing not being the lone outsider to meet their joint objective of cracking Enigma and providing the basis of a deep friendship that, in their own way, could be seen as a deep love for one another.  Ms Knightley also make Joan uncompromising in that love for Alan, especially in the scene where he cold heartedly rejects her and in the final scenes where she provides emotional support after his conviction.

Matthew Goode is an effective “adversary”, and later colleague and friend, in the role of Hugh.  At first, Hugh sees Alan as insufferable and selfish, only to thaw in his opinions thanks to Joan’s influence and their joint goal.

Charles Dance is equally adversarial in the role Commander Denniston, a man who could be seen as the “villain” of this movie whilst Mark Strong gives a cleverly pitched performance in the role of MI6 officer Stewart Menzies, a man of secrets who seeks to bluff both allies and opponents.

Away from the main storyline, Alex Lawther perfectly matches Cumberbatch in the role of the young Alan providing equal sympathy and humanity in the role whilst Rory Kinnear gives a sympathetic portrayal of Detective Nock, the man who eventually managed to get Turing convicted.

 

My own personal opinion is that this is probably Benedict Cumberbatch’s finest performance that I have seen him appear in and if he or the film as a whole doesn’t receive Oscar or BAFTA accolades, then there is something wrong.

It is particularly poignant at this time when we have remembered the people who have died in conflict that this film which commemorates not only Alan Turing but the silent people who worked behind the scenes is released.  A lot of the freedoms we experience today are thanks to brave people such as those who serve in our armed forces and the backroom staff who support them and we should never forget their contributions, even seventy-plus years on.

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The Great British Sherlock Read Off – A Case Of Identity

Sherlock Challenge

It seems an age since I’ve posted on this blog, but those of you who follow me on Twitter and my own blog will understand the reasons for my absence.  Anyway, I’m back with the next part in my ongoing Sherlock reading challenge.  This time it’s “A Case Of Identity” which was published 1891 and became part of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” anthology.

The story centres around a client by the name of Miss Mary Sutherland.  She is a woman with her own income from an investment fund and who has met a man by the name of Mr Hosmer Angel, much against the wishes of her stepfather.  On the morning that she is due to marry Angel, he disappears from the hansom cab which has been ordered to drive him to the wedding, at which point she engages Holmes into finding her missing fiance.

This is probably the shortest story from the Holmes canon that I’ve read so far… and probably the least rewarding.  The reason for this is that there is little substance behind it, in fact, Holmes never leaves Baker Street during the “investigation”.

You can tell that the readership is getting increasingly familiar with the Holmes and Watson pairing as there is little actual deduction taking place, apart from Holmes’s observations of Miss Sutherland’s dilemma and profession and the tying up of the actual story at the end.  The reader doesn’t get given any new facts about Holmes and Watson – apart from a line which states the Watson has to deal with a medical case whilst Holmes carries out his investigation, which is done “off stage”.

Without wishing to reveal any spoilers, it’s a basic “procedural” storyline in the same mould as “The Red Headed League”.  That said, you don’t get the evidence trail laid out in front of you as with previous stories, which leaves you in the Watson role of playing catch up at the end when Holmes does the “big reveal”.

For fans of “Sherlock”, I would recommend reading this story first and then going back to the Season Three story “The Empty Hearse” as there is a brief scene of Holmes and Molly carrying out the modern day equivalent of this story.

For those of you who are following this reading challenge, the next story in reading order will be “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” which I’ll post about in the next couple of days or so.

Alternative Cinema Festival: 5 movie reviews

Once every 3 months, our cinema has an alternative cinema festival, where they show five alternative movies which haven’t been released in cinema’s yet in the Netherlands. This time they showed Her, Ain’t them bodies Saints, August: Osage County, Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Keeper of Lost Causes.

 Her

IMBD abstract (very light spoilers):

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. When he’s not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games and occasionally hanging out with friends. He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness,” the ad states. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1 (Scarlett Johansson). As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn’t, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS?

My opinion

This movie has 5 Oscar Nominations and I understand why. The genre of this movie can best be described as a comical drama (or dramatic comedy). I struggled with to fully gasp this genre until I saw this movie. It shows us a bizarre but maybe realistic image of the future and it’s interesting to see how both Theodore and Samantha each have their own problems and struggles with a relationship between an human and an OS. This movie is a must-see if you are a person who can laugh because of the bizarreness of situations, even if they’re sad. Or maybe just because you want to hear Scarlett Johanssons voice being sexy.

Ain’t them Bodies Saints

IMDB abstract (no spoilers)

The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met.

My opinion

Well, that is a short abstract. You know why? There is nothing more to tell about this movie. A guy and a girl commit crimes, he gets caught, she gives birth while he is in prison. She manages to have some kind of a normal life with her daughter, but he escapes and want to be reunited with his girlfriend and daughter. There is some shooting, that’s it. Characters show no emotions whatsoever and nothing is explained about the inner thoughts, motivations or back stories of the characters. Don’t go see this movie unless you like long movies where noting happens. Also, I don’t understand the title (but maybe that’s because English isn’t my native language).

August: Osage County

IMDB abstract (no spoilers)

A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

My opinion

I really enjoyed this movie. The catch-line of this movie should be ‘it’s funny because it’s sad’. This family gives the word dysfunctional a deeper meaning, although I’m afraid that there really exist families like this. This movie has a star cast of, among others, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and, dumdumdum… Benedict Cumberbatch! I was really surprised to see him here because I didn’t check the movies before going to the festival. I only know him as Sherlock, so it was nice to see him in a totally opposite role (a shy, unsure, and maybe slightly mentally disabled man). Anyway, go see this movie if you like Benedict Cumberbatch, go see this movie if you like good movies. From now on, whenever I am irritated because some of my family members, I will remember this movie and think it always can be worse.

Grand Budapest Hotel

IMDB Abstract (no spoilers)

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

My opinion

Before this movie started, we were told we are normally not allowed to make recordings, but with this movie, we were extra not allowed to make them. Because we got the honor of seeing a world premiere of Grand Budapest Hotel, and they were only allowed to show us if they extra warned us and checked with night vision goggles during the movie. With this announcement, expectations were raised, and they were double met.

This is by far the best movie of the day and the other movies set the bar high already. The movie starts with a flashback in a flashback in a flashback and that sets the type of humor for the rest of the movie. The type of storytelling and humoristic logic used makes me think of the first part of Life of Pi. There is also a hint of dark humor that reminds me of Tim Burton movies, but the overall setting is a chaotic and cheerful. The background and scenery in this movie is beautiful, but really you should just go see by yourself when it is in cinema’s.

Some deeper thoughts: The story takes place in a non-existent Eastern European country called Zubrowka in a village called (if I remember correctly) Lebensbad. Although, the architecture of the hotel and the fact that they mention hot water springs strongly remembers me of Carlsbad, a spa village I once visited in the Czech Republic. So I wonder if Lebensbad is based on Carlsbad.

The Keeper of the Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret)

IMDB Abstract

The Keeper Of Lost Causes tells the story of chief detective Carl Mørck and his assistant Assad who become involved in a five-year-old case concerning the mystery of politician Merete Lynggaard’s disappearance – a journey that takes them deep into the undercurrent of abuse and malice that lurks beneath the polished surface of Scandinavia.

My opinion

A Danish movie to close the day. This movie made me wonder what the requirements for alternative cinema are. I have the feeling that if this movie wasn’t Danish spoken but English, it would’ve been a mainstream movie. Now I usually don’t like crime mystery movies, but I kinda liked this one. The plot was exiting and I really wanted to know how it ended. But compared to other movies of the same genre, I would say this one is mediocre. There are some much used tropes (good cop-bad cop, rogue agents, rooky agent-experienced agent, among others), which makes the story predictable. You can clearly see that this movie is based on a book, because certain plot elements are inserted  but have absolute no added value at all (like the step-son of the main character). So, you can go watch the movie if you’re a fan of the genre, otherwise, you’ll miss nothing if you stay home.

The Great British Sherlock Read Off – 2. The Sign Of Four

Sherlock Challenge

(As originally published on my own blog, The Wandering Bookworm)

So, on to story number two in my (hopefully) year long challenge to read all of the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories and I can already see refinements in the formula from what I saw in “A Study In Scarlet” within the second story published, “The Sign Of Four”.

As with “Scarlet”, the story is written from Watson’s point of view and from the start of the case, there is a degree of romance to this adventure.  Partly, this is down to the character’s habit of embellishing their investigations with a dash of adventure, something Holmes berates him upon his fictional publication of “A Study In Scarlet”, and partly down to the fact that this story opens up his character as a man who admires women and who has a degree of chivalry within his behaviour.  This comes to the fore thanks to an important character in Watson’s ongoing story in the form of Mary Morstan – the client in the main investigation of this story which starts with her receiving pearls on a regular basis following the disappearance of her father and leads to the inexplicable murder of a man in a locked room.

In addition to the above character development, the reader is treated the unearthing of one of Watson’s secrets thanks to a test of observation and deduction which fans of “Sherlock” will recognise through a similar test in “A Study In Pink”.

The story also adds some of Holmes’s better known quirks and eccentricities from the outset, namely his self-prescribed usage of cocaine and morphine along with his talent for disguise.  In addition to these traits, you also get hints to Holmes’s past – namely his talent as a boxer.  (Fans of the Robert Downey Jr. incarnation of Holmes will know of this).

New and refined versions of supporting characters join this story with Inspectors Gregson and Lestrade being replaced with the blustering Inspector Athelney Jones, whilst 221B Baker Street’s housekeeper receives the famous name of Mrs Hudson and Holmes’s army of child observers, informants and detectives being christened as the “Irregulars”.

Conan Doyle’s narrative style also shows signs of change between the structure of “Scarlet” and that of “Sign”.  Rather than the two part structure which describes the investigation followed by the backstory, “Sign” is more linear in approach with the story having a clear beginning, middle and end with the backstory being recounted by one of the perpetrators of the crimes within this story.

I have to admit that I am a little of an advantage with this story as I have seen the Granada Television adaptation transmitted in 1987 which starred Jeremy Brett as Holmes, Edward Hardwicke as Watson and John Thaw.  When matched up against the book, this film is extremely faithful to the original story and well worth a watch.

People may be more familiar with this story nowadays through the “Sherlock” episode “The Sign Of Three”.  Although there is no wedding of John and Mary, hamfisted best man speech by Sherlock or drunken escapades of their stag night, the core themes of the “Sherlock” version, namely revenge and a man’s interpretation of justice, stacks up well between “The Sign of Three” and the original book, albeit that the motives behind the perpretator’s acts are very different.

If you’re a “Sherlock” fan, I would make the same recommendation as in my review of “A Study In Scarlet” of re-watching “The Sign Of Three” before reading “The Sign Of Four”, not only to gain familiarity with the story, but in spotting the various “Easter Eggs” which tie in with the plot of the book (specifically through the stories that Sherlock recounts as part of his best man speech).

Two down, fifty-eight to go and the next story is Sherlock’s one and only encounter with “The Woman”.

A very Geeky Valentine 2014!

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. My fellow bloggers worked very hard to get you some awesome gifts for Christmas 2013, and I screwed up by a serious lack of time. So I guess I owed them and you faithful readers of course something special for Valentine’s Day this year.

Without further ado, some lovely gifts for that geeky someone in your life, a collaboration post done by Theta, Tekira and myself!

Doctor Who / Torchwood:

Theta: On the visual side of things, I have a bumper bundle of DVDs and Blu-Rays timed for release around December last year to get your hands on.  Firstly, and the most costly, is this boxset of Series 1-7 on Blu Ray.  It includes the Specials along with Series 5,6 and 7 on Blu Ray, but it also includes Series 1-4 which have previously been unreleased in this format.

Theta: Shortly after the November transmission, there will be a release of two programmes which mark the fiftieth anniversary.  The first of these is the docu-drama “An Adventure In Space And Time” written by Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss and starring David Bradley (Argus Filch in the “Harry Potter” franchise and Solomon The Trader in the Doctor Who episode “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship”) in the role of the actor who portrayed the First Doctor, William Hartnell.

Theta: The other item to mark the fiftieth anniversary is the episode that we’re all waiting for, “The Day Of The Doctor”, starring Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna Coleman, Billie Piper and John Hurt.

Theta: The final DVD is the first of two special releases marking the recent recovery of lost episodes in Nigeria.  “The Enemy Of The World” features the Second Doctor, portrayed by Patrick Troughton, in adventure where he faces up to a ruthless dictator, Salamander, also portrayed by Troughton.

Theta: The fiftieth anniversary is being marked by Big Finish Productions, who have been producing Doctor Who audio adventures since 1999, with “The Light At The End”, a story that stars Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann in their respective incarnations of the Doctor who have to face off against The Master, portrayed by Geoffrey Beevers, reprising his role from the 1981 story “The Keeper of Traken”. The story can be bought in three formats – Standard Edition, Collector’s Edition and a Limited Vinyl Edition.

Theta: Finally, some clothing and I’m going to use it as a shout out for a Whovian friend who produce t-shirts as part of her ongoing artwork projects. Sami produces t-shirts as part of her “Time and Space and Cute” range through Red Bubble and the name pretty much sums up the shirts as she has designed a series of shirts which portrays various Doctors, companions and villains in cute designs.  Suitable for both girly and boy geeks.

Mendy: Ok, first of all, I’m going to use my whovian gift ideas as a shameless self-promotion for my recently opened Etsy store. How about a nice and cute cuddly plush Adipose toy? They have different accessories; you can add bowties and fezzes if you like.

Mendy: and if that’s not to your liking, how about a warm, hand knitted Doctor Who season 18 hat. The hat is based on the famous red, orange and purple scarf the fourth Doctor wears oh and the scarf itself is not for sale, at least not made by me. It takes me about 2 months to knit such a long scarf and you can’t afford my prices I would ask 😉

Mendy: Talking about scarves, you can actually buy them from someone else, check out the Doctor Who scarves by Lovarzi. They have the multicoloured scarf, the red, orange and purple one. Even a lovely Dalek scarf, as far as Daleks can been seen as lovely.

Mendy: one thing I have my eye on, and if there isn’t a lovely geek willing to buy me these, I’m going to buy them in September myself, are the range of new  Doctor Who earrings from forbidden planet! They have the 10th and 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver, the Tardis, Cybermen and Daleks. I want them all!! And the best thing, they are affordable!

Mendy: although not really romantic, I’m gonna give another shout out to the geeks from Direct Blinds for their amazing Tardis Blind. Check my blogpost for details and remember they have a promotion at the moment for 33% off!

Mendy: If you don’t already have it in your collection, I recommend, as a Torchwood fan, to buy this book: the Torchwood Archives. It’s amazingly detailed and a must have for every Torchwood fan.  And just to add another book, Torchwood Exodus code, written by John and Carole E. Barrowman (his sister) and it picks up after the Torchwood TV series! Again, you must read this!

Sherlock

Mendy: as always, there isn’t a lot of Sherlock merchandise out there. After we ended season 3 the BBC picked up on some items. If your geek doesn’t have it yet, buy him/her Sherlock season 3 on DVD (I don’t have it yet, hint hint!)

Mendy: as I said, the BBC has released some amazing items (don’t have them either!) To enjoy your cuppa after running around London with a certain Detective, the Sherlock mug. Or what if he ruined another one of your shirts by doing experiments. Sherlock T-shirt set based on season 3. Including an ‘I don’t shave for Sherlock’ and ‘I don’t understand, I still don’t understand.’ They come in different sizes and in men and women shirts!

Mendy: Something the BBC shop doesn’t have, but I do, another shameless self-promotion. The one and only Sherlock deduction game Chullo hat. Hand knitted, warm and ideal for a deduction game with annoying siblings or loving geeky partners.

Mendy: I bought some amazing and lovely Sherlock earrings from Etsy last year and I wear them almost every day! Check out Pia’s etsy shop and don’t be afraid to ask her if she has a new batch ready!

Mendy: One of my dear DCC friends Meike as her own etsy shop as well and I have 3 of her hand drawn Sherlock pictures on my wall. She is an amazing artist and I urge you to buy something from her!

Mendy: last item on the Sherlock list, made by ConsultingFangeeks, a 221B messenger bag available on etsy!

Gaming:

Tekira: You can never go wrong with figures! They exist in all price categories, and they are made for Practically each manga, anime, or game. Just make sure the other person does not already own the one you intend to buy. They are quite easy to acquire. I always get mine from amazon.co.uk or achonia.com. You can also buy them on anime and/or game conventions

Tekira: On Etsy, you can find jewelry of every fandom you can imagine. I’m especially fond of Zelda jewelry. Last Christmas, my boyfriend made me very happy with this Heart Piece necklace from the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, available on www.thepixelsmithy.com

Tekira: (Limited Edition) Guide books Often not so limited as you might think, but awesome nonetheless. For a few pounds less you can get the ‘regular’ version, but that just means a less awesome cover in most of the cases. You can get them in game stores and on amazon (the picture shows Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Legendary Edition (Prima Official Game Guides), available on amazon.co.uk).

Tekira: Plushies are awesome. There is not much else I can tell about them. Buy them on amazon, game stores, or achonia.com.

Star Trek

Theta / Mendy: I think that everyone will agree that the highlight of Star Trek Into Darkness was Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Khan… I mean, John Harrison.  Well, IDW has created an official tie-in mini-series of comics not surprisingly titled “Star Trek: Khan” which tells the character’s back-story.  Oh and don’t forget to buy the DVD ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ if your geek doesn’t have it already!

Game of Thrones

Theta: Okay, I admit it.  I’m still not into this whole Game Of Thrones thing but as “Winter Is Coming” (see that, I’ve made a pun), I thought that this box set of books would be a nice item to put on any Game of Thrones or fantasy fan’s wish list.

Mendy: People like their eggs all sorts of ways. In an omelette. Scrambled. Fried. Poached. Boiled. And then there’s Daenerys. She likes hers roasted in a funeral pyre. Illyrio’s gift to Daenerys upon her wedding to Khal Drogo, these eggs are now yours to take home. No, really. We asked Jorah Mormont. He’s cool with it. Note: Do not place these in your fireplace. They will not hatch dragons. And if they do, it’s not our fault. These ‘Game of Thrones plush Dragon Eggs’ are a must have for any Khaleesi! If you can’t find the real deal of course!

Mendy: Speaking of eggs, to stay in the same theme here. Buy your lovely geek a ‘Game of Thrones Dragon Egg Canister’ to keep hidden treasures, a pre-hatched dragons (capacity: 1) or home bakes cookies safe.

The Hobbit/The Lord Of The Rings

Theta: For Tolkien related items, it’d be so easy to go with an item from the new film “The Desolation Of Smaug”, but I’m going to pick two which are more generally “Hobbit” based Firstly ladies, for that frustrated LARPer in your life, this Deluxe role play Dwarven battle axe should hit (see, another pun) the spot.

Theta: Secondly, I’m going to suggest a big part in my TV childhood with this CD reading of The Hobbit from the BBC television children’s series “Jackanory”.  The Hobbit was selected to commemorate the 3000th episode of the programme and is read by Maurice Denham, Jan Francis, David Wood and (now how’s this for geeky credentials) Bernard Cribbins.

Mendy: To unlock the heart of your geeky love, use this lovely ‘Thorin Oakenshield Key’ and a slight warning, only accessible on Durins day!

Mendy: Or something to cuddle with, a cuddly and ‘invisible Bilbo’ I wonder if Amanda Abbington has one in her collection. I’d say you buy a bell and put it around his neck, those damn invisible burglars these days!

Mendy: and last but not least, of course Smaug deserves some love. All those gold coins and jewels don’t warm that big heart of his. I have yet to find a good plush Smaug, but this cute ‘Flygdrake’ from IKEA makes a good representative!

Vampires:

Mendy: well, this is my area! I freaking love vampires! And I do mean the monsters, not the sparkly kind. First some advice from last year, ‘Anita Blake’ Laurell K. Hamilton has everything on her website, check it out!

Mendy: A tat more expensive, but for the hunter geeks amongst ourselves, as in Buffy the vampire slayer, Think Geek provides us with this amazing ‘Vampire Hunter Kit’ everything a slayer needs these days!

Mendy: a ring for your loved one! The reason I started wearing this particular ring was my love for the show. ‘Claddagh Ring’ you can get one at your jewellery store, but Amazon ships.

Theta: I thought that I’d select a vampire film, or should I say films, which uses the winter atmosphere of snow and the like are “Let Me In” or “Let The Right One In”.  Now, I have to admit that I’ve only seen the Hammer version that was released in 2010, but I thought that it was a hauntingly beautiful film.

Werewolves:

Theta: Okay, when you think of werewolf franchises, you’re probably thinking of the current “Teen Wolf” television series.  Well, as I had already exhausted my number one pick of “Being Human”, I decided to go back to my cinematic teenage years and pick the original “Teen Wolf” film starring Michael J. Fox.  He manages to craft a character who is funny, the underdog (number three on the pun-o-metre), and learns a lesson to be true to yourself, rather than just being popular.  A brilliant film.

Mendy: Although the series Beauty and the Beast doesn’t really fall under the category werewolves, he does look like one, check out the ‘Beauty and the Beast webshop’ for all cool stuff.

Mendy: What to do if you meet a real werewolf? Thank god your geeky love provided you with this silver bullet to protect you. (Ps not real ammo, just for decoration only!)

Mendy: and I though you Teen Wolf fans out there love these ‘Teen Wolf Phone Cases’ just so you know (go Stilinski)

Comic Books and Movie adaptations

Theta: Well, it has been a year for comic book adaptations in the movies, but I’m going to focus on two.  The first is “Man of Steel” directed by Zack Snyder.  Granted, this film has polarised opinion, but I really enjoyed it with the treatment of the source material with suitable gravitas and Henry Cavill making for a suitable portrayal of Clark/Kal-El/Superman facing off against Michael Shannon’s Zod.  Think of it as “Superman: Year One”.

Theta: The second, and my favourite adaptation of this year is “Kick-Ass 2”.  Rude, crude and exceedingly violent, this film sees Kick-Ass, portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, inspiring a whole host of superheroes including Colonel Stars & Stripes, portrayed by Jim Carrey, whilst having to battle against the former fake super-hero Red Mist (I’m not going to say his character name on this site), portrayed by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, whilst fellow super-hero Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) struggles to find a place in the world after the death of her mentor, Big Daddy.

Mendy: wanna be part of the good guys? Show you are a secret / not so secret agent? Wear an ‘agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ t-shirt and the whole world knows. Maybe not so smart to wear it in public, you might never know what kind of baddie you may encounter.

Books:

Theta: Rather than putting a book related item on this list, I’m going to plug a series of books based on the virtue that I really enjoyed the first book.  The “Geekhood” series of books by Andy Robb follows the character of Archie who seeks to build a relationship with classmate Sarah in the face of a hostile reaction from his fellow geeks and intimidation from a bully.  The first book was a fast read that I could relate to and I really want to get hold of the second novel.

Mendy: I do love books and bookish gifts, and again I’m dusting of a gift idea I gave you last year. I love all the bookish gifts this site provides. Check ‘the Literary Gift Company’ for the ideal geek Valentines gift for your lovely bookworm.

That’s it:

That’s it my lovely geeks, I hope you liked this epic post and you’ll be able to find some nice geeky gifts for that special geek in your life, and it’s safe to say we all accept one of these gifts as a thank you 😉

Love, your geeks, Tekira, Theta and Mendy.

The Great British Sherlock Read Off – First Update

Hello to all Girly, and Boy, Geeks out there in the interweb,

As regular readers of this lovely blog will know, I have decided to take up the challenge of reading all 60 Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories under the banner of “The Great British Sherlock Read Off”.  (You have Mendy to thank for this title).

Well, I have my first update from this challenge as I have completed my first Holmes story earlier this week….

Sherlock Challenge

1. A Study In Scarlet  (Update originally published on my own blog, “The Wandering Bookworm”)

So, understandably, to start my epic quest to read all of Conan Doyle’s original works, I had to start with the first story in the Holmes canon, “A Study In Scarlet”.

I had previously attempted to read this story roughly ten years ago and gave up before Watson had finished his first meeting with Holmes at Bart’s.  Roll on to 2013 and having seen the “Sherlock” episode “A Study In Pink” and I can admit to reading it in a new light.

For those who are familiar with “Pink”, this story recounts Watson’s first encounter with Holmes.  What follows is their first investigation into the inexplicable murder of a man in an empty house.

This story establishes what we know of the Holmes canon and may come as a shock to people whose knowledge is derived more from the Basil Rathbone films than the more modern Benedict Cumberbatch.

I’ll start with Watson as he is our way in to the stories as the narrator.  The traditional image from the movies is that of an older, bumbling man who is trailing behind Holmes.  The Watson from “Scarlet” is presented as a younger man affected by his war experiences, not only in body but in mind, as we see in Martin Freeman’s interpretation of the character.  Watson is obviously a man of intelligence – after all, how could he be a medical doctor or write memoirs of his investigations alongside Holmes if he was a complete buffoon?  What makes Holmes all the more remarkable is that although both men are intelligent, Watson is trapped in the realms of conventional thinking of the ways of the world, whilst Holmes strictly structures his knowledge and world view to the needs of his chosen profession.

The Holmes of “Scarlet” has recognisable traits that people may be familiar with. As I said above, Holmes is possessed of a fierce intellect which is structured to fit the needs of his profession as a consulting detective. Those who are familiar with “Sherlock” will note the inspiration for the TV Sherlock’s “Mind Palace” with Holmes describing the retention of knowledge as filling an attic.

Whereas Benedict Cumberbatch has the benefit of the Milk special effects house to display Sherlock’s thought processes on screen for the audience, Conan Doyle devotes a chapter to carefully explain Holmes’s methodology of investigation, ensuring that the chain of clues follow each other and ensuring that there are no logic holes in the investigation.

Whilst Holmes has a withering disregard to the conventional wisdom of the police’s methods of investigation, he is not as caustic on the written page as Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal on screen. That said, you can definitely see where the “Sherlock” portrayal stems from Conan Doyle’s pen and ink.

In addition to this, there is the allusion to Holmes’s nature as a man who on the one hand lives for the thrill of the hunt, whilst on the other hand revels on episodes of indolence.

The police force is represented by Inspectors Tobias Gregson and Lestrade (Gregson has surely got to be an influence on the “Sherlock” Lestrade’s forename of Greg). Both are represented as capable police officers within the narrow confines of their conventional thinking, but their willingness to jump to the apparently straightforward conclusion, rather than using Holmes’s analytical skills, show them up to be as far behind as Watson, whilst their competitive nature shows them to be publicity hungry.

“Scarlet” is split into two distinct acts. People whose only knowledge of this story is through “A Study In Pink”, as mine was, will be able to follow the first part of the story due to it’s resemblance to that story. The murderer’s M.O. is similar to that of the murderer in “Pink”. However, where the murderer’s motive in “Scarlet” is quite different to that in “Pink” and chimes more with Sherlock’s behaviours as an agent of justice, rather than of the Law, and is explained in the second half of the story.

If you haven’t read the story before, I would recommend possibly watching “A Study In Pink” first to help ease you into the story as despite the differences in time period and motive, it does help to ease a reader in who hasn’t previously read Conan Doyle, as in my case.

Given the time period that the book was written, some of the racial and religious terms, along with the trigger for the murderer’s actions, may come as a shock to the system with 21st century eyes. That said, it’s a well constructed story and a great start for my Sherlock reading challenge.

Smaug!!!

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. The DCC, well some of us, went to see the Hobbit: the desolation of Smaug, last Friday. And oh my, it was good! So here is my review and it contains spoilers!

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Synopsis according to IMDB:

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

My thoughts:

I loved it! I missed seeing the first movie in the cinema due to surgery recovery, although I was lucky to get see it in a more unconventional way…

But his movie deserved to be seen, if you can, in IMAX 3D. And after much careful planning, 6 of the now 15 members got together to watch Smaug!! In all its glory.

First of all, prepping for the Desolation of Smaug:

I didn’t have time to read the Hobbit again, probably will do it in the next couple of weeks. But I did watch all the Lord of the Rings movies, extended versions of course, and the Hobbit, extended version again, on DVD prier to my cinema visit. I love being in this middle-earth mind set to properly enjoy the movie.

We start with a flashback as Gandalf meets Thorin in the prancing pony in Bree. He, that looks familiar. Speaking about familiar, did you notice, and sorry but how could you not, the carrot eating man in the first openings scene as Peter Jackson himself?

There is a price on Thorin’s head and Gandalf wants him to claim back Erebor, thus creating actually the beginning of the Hobbit and how it came to be.

Last time we left the dwarves and Bilbo after the eagles saved them and they are now on their way towards the lonely mountain and Smaug!

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUGAs the companion is being tracked, yet again, by orcs and in particular the pale Orc Azog and the Warg riders they all but flee for their lives. But the orcs are not the only thing hunting them; a monstrous looking bear is on the hunt as well.

Gandalf leads the company towards a house in the middle of nowhere, where he explains it to be safe / not safe depending on their host and they find themselves in the house of shape shifter Beorn. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but the passage in the book seemed a bit more elaborate than what we can see in the movie.

We are introduced by Beorn and he helps them flee towards Mirkwood, but with a couple of warnings in mind. Gandalf finds something disturbing inside the woods and get’s a warning from Galadriel, and leaves the confused dwarves and Hobbit behind to meet up with the Doctor, ehh, I mean Radagast the Brown, brilliantly played of course by Sylvester McCoy. But not before Bilbo explains about finding his ‘courage’ with the Goblins. Sure Bilbo, but that wasn’t the only thing you found.

The dwarves don’t pay much attention to Gandalf’s warning and get under the influence of the illusion of Mirkwood, keeping them walking in circles, straying from the path and fight.

One of the scenes I love in this movie is the bit where Bilbo climbs up the tree and for a moment, the spell falls from him and he gets a breath of fresh air, enjoying, content, sighing with relief.

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Ok, there is one thing seriously bothering me. Not about the movie but about Martin Freeman. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Martin is a brilliant actor, amazing. The things he can do with simple facial expressions, a well placed sigh, how he poses his body. I mean, he’s not simply an actor, and every bloody time I read an interview with him it’s all about Sherlock and Benedict joining as Smaug. I really believe is he underrated as an actor. The things he can do, Benedict wishes he could. Don’t get me wrong, Benedict is brilliant, but in his own way. And in this little scene, just peaking above the treetops, that what makes me love and appreciate Martin even more as an actor. He can act with his eyes, which I think is rare.

Ok, back to the movie, and one of the reasons I hate 3D in this bit. Spiders! I freaking hate spiders! I don’t have need to see them up close in IMAX 3D, thank you very much.the-hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-hobbits-wb

Bilbo saves the day and the dwarves think they are save, but get captured by the Mirkwood elves. And mind you, they are not like the Rivendell elves, not at all.

Hey look, it’s Legolas. Ok purist will hate Peter brought him in, as well as creating Tauriel, but I don’t mind. I have a thing for elves. Not only in the way you think, but they fascinate me, their language, their posture, how they live and experience things, old and wise, but also merry and light-hearted at times.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUGLegolas seems to put up a bit of weight, and one thing we noticed, his eyes. And I don’t know if it has to do with the fact we had those butt ugly 3D glasses on, but his eyes seem all wrong. And we had this discussion after the movie, especially when we saw Thranduil, that the wood and whatever was in that wood as portada9well, affected the elves somehow. Because this Legolas is nothing like the Legolas we saw in the LOTR trilogy and you wonder that maybe he offers himself a place in the quest to redeem himself of the actions of him and his father in the Hobbit movies. Which is an interesting theory, but we’ll have to wait till movie nr 3, now don’t we.

The escape of Bilbo and the Dwarves in the barrels is one of the most fun scenes in the movie, almost slapstick like and it makes for a fun intermission between all the drama of the movie.barrels

Poor Kili gets shot by a poisoned Orc arrow. (Ok sorry for this, but I love Aiden Turner and he is one hot dwarf).

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Meanwhile Gandalf has problems of his own and he is looking to find answers about the necromancer (brilliant voice that guy has, sounds familiar).

And wait what?! B is the necromancer, is the eye, is Sauron?! Wow, didn’t see that one coming.

Ok, back to the company of dwarves and the Hobbit.

They try to outrun the Orcs still following them and meet-up with Bard, habitant of Lake-town and part-time smuggler. For the right price he brings them into Lake-town so the the_hobbit_the_desolation_of_smaug_photo_bardDwarves are one step closer to the Mountain in dire need to reach it before Durins Day.

tumblr_mu0tnwL9iz1r50xflo1_500The master of Lake-town, an epic Stephen Fry, if I may add, finds the dwarves and with some old prophecy, because what’s a fantasy story without at least on good prophecy, gives the Dwarves all they need to send them on their quest to slay the dragon.

But without Kili, who is now seriously infected by the Orc poison. Oin and Fili decide to stay with him and luckily, depending on what side you are on, Bofur overslept, thus missing the boat and stays behind as well.

With Kili on the verge of dying, Bofur is looking frantically for Athelas or Kingsfoil, which apparently these humans in Lake-town use as pigs food.

Elves to the rescue! As soon as Tauriel found out Kili was being poised thanks to a now headless Orc, she rushed after the Dwarves with Legolas in her pursuit. They make it to Lake-town in time to fight with the Orcs and Tauriel helps Bofur and Kili with the kingsfoil and she saves him (I think it was the same spell Arwen used, but I’m not sure, my Elvish is a bit rusty).

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Legolas finds he’s not infallible as he thinks he is and is bleeding after a nasty fight scene with an Orc.

la_ca_1217_the_hobbitFinally, the mountain and Smaug!!! The moment we have been freaking waiting for all damn year! Bilbo proves again to be the clever one, solving the riddle on Thorin’s map and getting the Dwarves inside the mountain.

Sometimes I hate Peter Jackson for all the feelings he’s giving me with these movies. The part where the Dwarves walk into the mountain, it almost made me cry.

So Bilbo finally gets to know why he’s there, to find the Arkenstone and leave the dragon the hell alone!the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-dragon

Enter a big pile of gold, a very confused Bilbo, look for a pretty white shiny stone they say, leave the dragon sleep, they say. And of course he screws up and wakes… Smaug!!! Did anyone else have the whole Khan experience as well? YOU SHOULD HAVE LET ME SLEEP!!!

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Smaug is, wow, he’s beautiful and magnificent and stupendous and marvellous and, and … well, it’s a huge dragon with Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice; seriously, I’m now swooning over a freaking CGI dragon!

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I know some people complained about the scene with the dragon taking too long. No, oh god no, please give us more!!!

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All in all the movie ends with one seriously pissed of dragon, taking revenge on Lake-town and a pile of Dwarfs and a Hobbit who look guilt ridden as they watch Smaug the stupendous fly away.

I freaking loved it! I mean, at fist before the whole Hobbit is going to be two movies, no wait three movies, I was a bit reluctant, afraid the movies would be to slow, the pace almost sleep like, but I sat on the edge of my chair the whole time. When can I go again!!!

If you haven’t got the time yet to see it, do so!

Love, your own hot cute girly geek, Mendy.