Lucifer (season 1)

lucifer poster

Once upon a time a little graphic novel series, Sandman, told of the Lord of Hell, Lucifer Morningstar, growing bored of the job and deciding to decamp to Los Angeles – where else?! He opens up a nightclub and sets about living life to the full, encouraging the mortals around him to do the same.

Neil Gaimain’s story was picked up by Mike Carey, and Lucifer got his own spin-off comics – which have now been adapted for the small screen, but with the same irreverent humour and sympathy-for-the-devil tone that would probably have my granny rolling in her grave. Ahem!

So… after a shootout at Lux, his nightclub, Lucifer ends up consulting for the police department. He’s soon rather obsessed with Detective Chloe Decker – possibly the one person on earth who seems immune to his plentiful charms. But talking of immunity, how is Lucifer’s power, and his invulnerability, going to be affected by a prolonged stay in the mortal realm?

I’m a bit late to the party with this one, seeing as it was squirrelled away on a less-than-handy broadcaster. Still, better late than never – except for the bit where, after three series, they’ve only gone and cancelled this! Is it still worth watching? Hell, yes! 🙂

I absolutely love the story here. It’s dark and funny and not as blasphemous as some might think (ymmv). More, the intrigue levels are kept high – I practically bounced off the sofa at the big cliff-hanger statement setting up season 2!

Tom Ellis does wonderfully as the sardonic, not-quite-slimey-somehow title character, utterly clueless as to why he can’t walk through life doing and getting what – or who! – he wants. The fish out of water schtick works really well when your outsider character is a fallen angel with the power to make people blurt out their deepest, darkest desires…! His relationship with the detective is so-so, but his experience with therapy (yes, really!) is a hoot, and his faithful demon, Mazekeen, is absolutely kick-ass and I love her a lot!

Best of all, perhaps, is the way that Lucifer is so upfront about who and what he is and watching all the humans around him try to turn into into something else – metaphor, delusion, etc. Waiting for the penny to drop for some of them is the least of what’s keeping me watching, but watching I am! More!! #SaveLucifer all the way!

First broadcast: 2015
Series: 3
Episodes: 13 @ ~42 mins each

My rating: 9/10

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Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool2 poster

I frickin’ loved Deadpool (2016) so of course I was a little worried that the sequel could only disappoint. But thankfully following a successful movie isn’t always just a money-making exercise these days, and with a team that loves the source material as much as any of the fans we’re in safe hands here.

It’s hard to say too much about it without giving away plot points, but safe to say that we’re still breaking the fourth wall, subjected to a barrage of swearing (including a use of the c-word that surprised (but not shocked, it’s just a word, people!) me a little in a 15), and treated to more gore than Marvel’s entire output to date – good! 🙂

What I love so much about these movies is that they are ‘proper’ superhero action movies, while at the same time utterly poking fun at superhero movies in general – one fav line: “You’re so dark are you sure you’re not from the DC universe?” 🙂 And anything else they can think of to poke fun at, let’s face it – I’d need to trawl the ‘net or watch this about six times (tempting…!) to get all the references, I think! Top of the hit list is Ryan Reynolds himself, from previous performances to just him as an actor, and likewise Josh Brolin’s turns in the Goonies and last week’s (!) Infinity War.

Amongst the mayhem and jokes, however, there’s also quite a moving story about family and friendships. It almost hits harder when things happen, as you’re not expecting it between the laughs and blood splatter.

I won’t say this is perfect, but dang I am struggling to pinpoint any actual faults. It’s pretty much everything I could have wanted from a Deadpool sequel, and part of me hopes there are about sixty more to come 🙂

So remember… #WadeWilsonDemandsYourSisterSorryStupidAutocorrectSilence especially during the FIVE post-credit scenes (but not shoved all the way at the end, so you don’t have to sit too long) 😀

Released: 15th May 2018
Viewed: 17th May 2018
Running time: 119 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 9/10

The Hanging Tree – Ben Aaronovitch

hanging tree cover

“I dreamt that I heard Mr Punch laughing gleefully by my ear, but when I woke I realised it was my phone.”

NB: this is the sixth book in a series, and as such it’s almost impossible not to have vague spoilers for events in the previous instalments – read at your own peril!!

Peter Grant’s life seems pretty established now, since we first met him in Rivers of London and he discovered the branch of the police that deals with “weird bollocks”. Still training in magical skills, he’s now confident in his role, au fait with the ‘demimonde’, and even has a girlfriend who may or may not be the physical representation of a major English waterway. Yeah.

The story, too, is pretty established: this is not a volume for newcomers, this is a continuation of events that have been building over several books. If you don’t know who The Faceless Man is, or what Lesley may or may not be up to these days, or how Peter’s ‘relationship’ with Mr Punch has come about, then you’re really going to struggle with this.

As it was, it’s been long enough (for no good reason!) since I read the previous book(s) (and note to self: really, stop leaving series unfinished!!) that I was a little vague on just a few points. That was fine: I caught up quickly enough. But there was enough of a gap to make me very aware that this wasn’t a ‘whole story’ – not only is the ending (no spoilers!) fully open for the next instalment, but it picks up the plot directly not even from the previous book (Foxglove Summer), but back even further to Broken Homes!

So, read this as a series. I’m really quite looking forward to a bit of time passing, a few more books being out, and starting over from the very beginning as a continuous piece. As it stands, this one is a very good read but with flaws from that ‘middle book’ kind of feel, and perhaps just a bit of cockiness in both the main character and from the author being fully into his best-selling stride. I still want more! 🙂

NetGalley eARC: 384 pages / 16 chapters
First published: 2016
Series: Peter Grant book 6
Read from 7th-15th May 2018

My rating: 8/10

I Feel Pretty (2018)

i feel pretty poster

Renee (Amy Schumer) is full of insecurities and wishing she was one of those supermodel-types who walk through life being handed everything on a plate just because they’re skinny and beautiful. She’s a stereotype of ‘normal woman’, in many ways – albeit one who seems a little too disappointed that throwing a coin in a fountain during a thunder storm doesn’t actually make her prettier o_O But when she hits her head in a spin-class accident, she wakes up seeing all of her dreams come true – twist being, it’s all in her head. And yet, the resulting confidence might just be exactly what Renee’s real dreams need to come true…

I went into this expecting either daft fun or a total train wreck – early reviews promised either as a possibility. Thankfully, I found it more of the former and not a repeat of the direness that was Snatched. Critics have argued that it’s poking fun at fat people, but just a second here: Amy Schumer is not fat. She’s not a super-model, sure, but despite the cast of this (or any) movie making it look like 90% of the population belong on magazine covers, she’s pretty normal and it’s the rest of the cast that are making her look anything but.

I actually rather liked the message that confidence is key. And it’s true that the make up and fashion industries are awful for eroding said confidence, setting up unrealistic expectations. Renee’s journey through the movie is predictable, but apart from a bit where confidence grows into shallow arrogance, the character was easy enough to like. I was cheering her on, in fact, as she goes from mouse to strutting her stuff – without one of these cliched glasses-off-makeup-on makeovers. My favourite role, however, was Michelle Williams (Brokeback MountainThe Greatest Showman), affecting a daft voice and having a whale of a time being less than serious for a change.

Overall, this is a feel-good movie with a message I thought was valid and worth telling. I was surprised to find it quite as funny as I did, and even more surprised that it didn’t annoy me – damned with faint praise, but still! 😉

Released: 4th May 2018
Viewed: 11th May 2018
Running time: 110 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 6/10

A Column of Fire – Ken Follett

a column of fire cover

“We hanged him in front of Kingsbridge Cathedral.”

Who would have thought an almost-1000 page tome about the building of a cathedral would capture the imagination of so many readers (and viewers, with the subsequent TV adaptation)? And yet, 1989’s The Pillars of the Earth did just that, and spawned a sequel, 2007’s World Without End.

For the third part in the trilogy, author Ken Follett jumps forward half a century or so. We’re still in Kingsbridge, but now in a time of religious upheaval. The Protestant faith has grown, unhappy with the hypocrisy often seen in the Catholic leadership. Henry VIII’s announcement of himself, not the Pope, as head of the church leaves England divided. His successors are his two daughters: first the Catholic Mary Tudor – known as Bloody Mary for the number of Protestants she has executed – and then Protestant Elizabeth, who’d much rather rule over a kingdom of tolerance.

Against this background, we follow Ned Willard and a cast of characters, from Kingsbridge to France, the Netherland, and even the Caribbean. Religious upheaval throughout Europe is the cause of dramas huge and small, and this book doesn’t shy away from the gory details.

Perhaps because of the change in time period, or an over-familiarity with the era in popular culture these days, I didn’t find this book as enthralling as the first or even second in the series. In fact, the opening chapter was enough to almost have me hand the book back to the library without reading any more: “Oh great,” I thought, “another ‘woman married against her will’ history. Urgh!”

I decided to give it one more go, and slowly picked my way through the rest. The writing remains strong, the dramas told well – let’s face it, holding attention for 750 (or over 900, depending on binding!) pages is no mean feat! – but still, hmm. While it didn’t work quite as well for me as the first book, but it was a nice change of pace from my more usual sci-fi and fantasy reads.

Hardback: 751 pages / 30 chapters
First published: 2017
Series: Kingsbridge book 3
Read from 6th April – 5th May 2018

My rating: 7/10

Read Herring Hunt – VM Burns

read herring hunt cover

“‘Did you see the getup that little floozy had on?'”

The Plot is Murder introduced us to Sam Washington, who takes the devastation of her husband’s death as a chance to live their dream of opening a mystery bookshop. Settled in to her new life and recovered from finding her realtor dead in her new yard, Sam is once again about to be thrust into a real-life murder mystery. This time it’s her practically-family new tenant who’s being accused of murdering his tarty ex-girlfriend. Can Sam, along with her grandmother and motley cast of friends, clear the accused’s name and find the real culprit?

I didn’t not enjoy this book. It was a light and easy read, exactly as I hoped and expected, and the characters are all quite fun. However, I felt that the author has really rushed this out – the first installment was only published at the end of November last year! That might not necessarily be an issue, but it’s an obvious culprit behind the too-sudden ending. Although the ‘whodunnit’ was fairly predictable from quite early on, it still seemed an abrupt and jarring chapter that dumped the ‘big reveal’ on us, and even more quickly tied up the peril. It was a little disappointing, to be honest.

Still, cosy mystery readers might find the ongoing personal dramas – dating and ‘learning to live again’ kind of things – enough to smooth over that. I did like the book-within-the-book element, adding an extra layer, although the “Cor blimey gov” dialect gets a bit cringeworthy.

I’d probably give the series at least one more go, and hope that the next book has a slightly stronger mystery element.

NetGalley eARC: 288 pages / 23 chapters
First published: April 2018
Series: Mystery Bookshop book 2
Read from 19th-27th April 2018

My rating: 5/10

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avenger Infinity War poster

Well. Here we are. Ten years of Marvel ‘MCU’ movies, ten years since Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) told the world “I am Iron Man” and turned the comic book to screen adaptation from a bit of a hit-and-miss affair to a roaring juggernaut of fan favourites.

The word ‘fan’ is kind of important there. While there have been movies in that last decade of output that non-fans could enjoy, or take or leave, this is one that absolutely requires you to be fully along for the whole ride and most if not all of the 18 (!) movies that lead up to this point. Or, as I put it leaving the cinema: “I loved that, but it’s not one for non-fans.”

Infinity War ties together plot threads from several of the movies. The big baddy, Thanos, has shown up in several previous installments, but finally steps fully forward here. He’s on the hunt for all six of the Infinity Stones, elemental gems that were (so it goes) created in the Big Bang and control fundamental aspects of the universe. We’ve met five of them in previous movies, from the Tesseract (housing the Space Stone) in Thor to the Time Stone wielded in Doctor Strange. Combining all six will give Thanos the power to… well. Anything, quite frankly!

So, grab your popcorn and settle in for a fast-paced 2½ hours of action with the usual bit of Marvel humour, but also a lot of darkness – and, about three quarters of a plot. Because yes, there is a second part of this story coming next year!

There’s no gentle intro to anything here – as stated, there are 18 other movies of ‘introduction’ – which is obviously a massive downside for some. I didn’t mind: this isn’t a stand-alone by any stretch, it’s the culmination (or the start of it, at least!) of a lot of other strands, a bit of a season finale kind of piece.

There are also a LOT of characters to jam in here, and you could suggest that none of them get a great deal of time or development – see previous comments, though. For me, the best bit was the interactions between characters from some very tonally different MCU movies: Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, Stark meeting Strange, and so forth. True to form, some of the best laugh out loud moments happen with these culture clashes.

It’s not perfect. It’s absolutely frantic in pace. But, as a fan (can I say that enough?!), that just makes me want to see it again and again, to fully absorb some of what’s flashing past on the screen – if my nerves can stand it! And, of course, to get the answers to a rather cliff-hanger-y ending o_O

Released: 26th April 2018
Viewed: 28th April 2018
Running time: 149 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 8/10