Thursday 8 April 2010

Book Reviews

Twilight - The Graphic Novel: Volume One
Young Kim & Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown Book Group

Available Now - £12.99 (Hardback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Was anyone surprised that this happened? I don’t mean just a comic book adapatation of Twilight; I mean a sanitised, “manga-ish” version of Twilight? Is anyone surprised that it’s terrible? No, I wasn’t either.

Young Kim’s artwork is fantastic. Her work on figures, backgrounds, shading, flow...everything is simply great. The arrangement and illustartion of the dream sequence half-way through the book is excellent. Put simply, Young Kim has done the best she could with the task assigned her. It’s just unfortunate that the rest of it is such terrible dross.

From the aforementioned fact that this a manga-ish take, to the way it hurtles through the plot at a speed that would make it incomprehensible to newcomers, this is such a blatant cash-in that it’s hard not to feel a little repulsed by it. It’s obviously aimed at the Twi-Hards who will buy anything with their franchise's name on – rather than a genuine attempt to interest new people.

All the worst aspects of each characters (Edward’s douchebaggery and Bella’s indecisiveness) are at their most prominent here, and even the attempted mugging (the only sequence in the novel with any tension) is completely ballsed up here. What takes a good five minutes of the film and a good ten pages of the book is over in six panels here. Pathetic.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Sex/Nudity: +1 Subtext of Mormonism.
Swearing: None
Summary: A hollow, shamless cash-in aimed at Twi-Hards everywhere. It’s very pretty to look at, but I’d advise people to stick with the original. 3/10

Werewolves on the Moon Versus Vampires
Matt Fillbach, Shawn Fillbach and Dave Land
Dark Horse Comics

Available Now - £9.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Through all of history, on the night of the full moon, the bloodcurdling cries of werewolves have pierced the night sky. For centuries werewolves have had to content themselves with shortened forays of feral change as dictated by the source of their power -- the moon! But all that is about to change as three werewolf friends -- Ted, Jeff, and Stan -- leave Earth and travel to the lunar surface in a quest to become Kings of the Moon!

Unfortunately, Moon Patrol captain Maggie Pilgrim has other plans . . . as does the hive of vampires living on the dark side!

With a book called Werewolves on the Moon Versus Vampires, you know what you’re in for: fun, campy, B-Movie inspired comedy – and that’s exactly what you get. The characters are all great fun, the artwork (whilst not outstanding) is good and functional. It’s a fun ride. Also, it may be the only comic I’ve ever read that manages to do slapstick properly, which is a real achievement. The pacing is great throughout, and it’s fun.

However, its biggest failing is a major problem. One of the greatest pieces of writing advice I ever received was “If you’re going to write something funny, make sure it’s hilarious”. When writing a comedy piece you have to load it with as many gags as possible, because some will fail, and you need a high return ratio. Unfortunately, Werewolves on the Moon Versus Vampires is funny enough to raise the odd smile, and maybe the odd smirk, but the jokes just don’t come often enough to mark it as “hilarious”.

Also, I’m not really sure who this book is aimed at, or – having read it – exactly who I would recommend it to. It’s a fun series, though, and I hope that it gathers both momentum and identity in the future.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Several scenes of stakings, mutilations, arm-ripperings, stabbings, impalements, biting and general fighting.
Sex/Nudity: Some cheesy references.
Swearing: Some mild uses.
Summary: Throwaway pulp fun. Worth a chuckle, but don’t expect it be blown away. 6/10

Following the phenomenal success of her explosive screen debut in Chocolate, Thailand's young female martial arts sensation Jija Yanin returns to the screen in Raging Phoenix, an awe-inspiring action-adventure that takes the "full-contact" combat thrills seen in Chocolate to an inventive and unprecedented level.

With fight sequences supervised by acclaimed Thai producer, director and fight choreographer Panna Rittikrai, Raging Phoenix unveils a brand of never-before-seen martial arts action that combines Muay Thai techniques with Drunken Boxing and dazzling hip-hop dance moves to deliver a "real fights, real injuries" action extravaganza like no other.

Yanin stars as Deu, a rock and roll drummer abandoned by her family and recently sacked from her band, who finds herself being pursued by a gang of kidnappers. Sheis rescued from their clutches by Sanim, a master of an obscure drunken fighting technique known as the Mayraiyuth. After informing Deu that she is the target of the Jaguar Gang, a group of criminals who kidnap young women and extract their pheromones to sell as a potent aphrodisiac on the black market, Sanim and his three sidekicks - Pigshit, Dogshit and Bullshit - agree to train her in their unique methods of combat.

Her training complete, Deu insists on joining Sanim and the others in infiltrating the Jaguar Gang's underground lair and bringing down their lucrative and exploitative people trafficking empire. Their mission brings them face to face with a horde of murderous thugs led by a fearsome she-boss who proves to be more than a match for Deu and her new friends, all of whom have their own scores to settle with this most deadly of foes.

Once again, Jija Yanin shines in a movie packed with incredible hi-impact martial arts, breathtaking free-running and bone crunching stunts that will leave martial arts enthusiasts and action movie fans desperately wondering just what Thai cinema's latest action hero will come up with next.

Thanks to our friends at Cine Asia, we've got three copies of Geisha Assassin to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Thursday 15th April (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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