Monday, 18 November 2013


5* Transcends criticism-

But is not beyond it. What I mean by that is that if you've seem Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy then you know exactly what you're getting. More or less. This is lighter in tone -it is based on a children's book after all- and includes songs sung by the characters (like the dwarfs). You know that it's going to be Jackson's version of the book too as he takes additional characters and events from various Tolkein-written sources plus original input from his writers. So to complain, as some certainly will that it's a bad thing to include material that is non-canonical to the original book, is entirely missing the point. He hasn't padded out a shortish kids book, he's extended it and done so extremely well.

What we get here, as we did before, is a magnificent cinematic fantasy experience where Jackson creates a completely convincing magical environment -aided, it has to be said, by the scenery of perhaps the most beautiful country in the world. I avoided seeing this at the cinema because I wanted to wait for the extended edition. Now I'll be queueing at the multiplex door for Part 2.

And, yes, the extras are all you ever wanted and possibly more.

Just a word of advice to buyers who are as dim as me. The 2-D version is on disc 3, Discs 1 & 2 contain the 3-D version only. It took me a few frustrated minutes to figure that out. But I'm old and that's my excuse.

4* Deranged

But in a good way.

Also in an often amateurish way too. But there's a loony enthusiasm pervading the mostly frenetic numbers. There are even some which are actually musically accomplished such as Storm Warning by Mac Rebennack (who would reinvent himself in the 60s as Dr. John, as if you didn't know). This is largely fun dumb music and, hey don't get me wrong, that's praise.

4* A feast for Fifties guitar fans.

Um, that was the review, okay? No? A little more then.

It hits most of the high spots so any avid fan of the music is already likely to have the best of the tracks here, though for a dabbler like me, it's excellent. Indeed it was worth getting for my favourite surf instrumental ever -Pipeline by the Chantays. It also highlights just how good The Shadows were in comparison to the competition. Good driving music as all the tracks are pretty short.

3* Not quite so fashionable

Considering that this is set in the fashion industry, of a sort, this is distinctly unglamourous and, in fact, downright ugly thought that, I suppose is part of its intent. Set in a city which reminds me of the perpetual night-shrouded locale of the excellent film Dark City, this is a grim read. The art, while accomplished and effective, is not attractive to look at.

The story, being by Alan Moore, is of course effective, particularly with its motif of illusion and reality which is best exemplified in ambiguity of the sexual identities of two of the story's main characters. However, it's worth remembering that Moore wrote this as a film script and it has been adapted as a graphic novel by someone else -Antony Johnston- so the reader is not getting a graphic novel by Moore as one would normally consider it.

Ultimately it's a bleak depressing piece and one which I believe will come to be considered as one of Moore lesser works. Read it if you must but make sure any sharp objects you own are locked away.

5* The best book about Alan Moore to date.

Okay, I haven't read the academic American texts about the world's most famous graphic novelist but I have read the more accessible ones and this really is the best. Unlike the most recent biography (Alan Moore: Storyteller) by one of Moore's mates, this isn't authorised and author Larkin is prepared to delve into some of the more controversial aspects and in detail.

There's as much about Moore's relationships and attitudes towards the comic book industry as there is about the comics/graphic novels themselves. Just one example: there is a very detailed exploration of Moore's widely publicised dispute with DC Comics which the author looks at from both sides and attempts to evaluate the situation. He also discusses Moore's possible motives for his reactions to a variety of issues. So what makes this book stand out above others published to date is that this is as much about Alan Moore the man as Alan Moore the writer, something very much missing from the other title I cited and which I noted in my review of it here on Amazon. Actually, the two books complement each other quite nicely.

That said, it you only gotta buy one book about Alan Moore then this is one: perceptive, witty, and highly readable it's worth every penny.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, the man himself has given it a tacit nod of approval.

Post Script: Coming Soon.

Maybe. If I feel like it. After I've had a chance to digest them properly.

THE WATERBOYS: Fisherman's Box.
The complete Fisherman's Blues sessions 1986-88. A massive 6-CDs. Expect an effusive review.

A mere 4 CDs with a shitload of demos and unreleased alternate versions. Previously released in a more expensive edition.

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