The Murdstone Trilogy By Mal Peet – Review

murdstone

What does every writer want, more than anything? More than a book deal, along with a movie adaption deal?

Someone to write the book for them, that’s what. And don’t try to tell me you don’t, every writer has, at least once in their writing life, wished the book would either write itself, or for someone to do it for them.

That’s exactly what Philip Murdstone gets.

Murdstone starts this book as an established writer, but he hasn’t published anything in years, and his sales are going through the floor. He usually writes books for ‘sensitive boys,’ overcoming some sort of trial in their lives, and that kind of thing just isn’t selling anymore.

What is selling, though, is fantasy. Fantasy is selling by the bucket loads. Every literary agent, publishing house, and writer, is looking to create the next Harry Potter.

There’s one problem. Murdstone hates fantasy, abhors it, wants it banished from the world. He’d rather die than write a fantasy.

“I hate Tolkien. I mean. Bloody pretentious escapist nonsense, isn’t it?”

His agent doesn’t like the genre very much either, but it sells, so who cares?

But when he is faced with no other choice, he gives in, and that’s where this story starts.

Murdstone ends up meeting Pocket, a swearing, uncouth, yet strangely likeable, Greme from another land, who agrees to tell him about Morl, a dark necromancer trying expand his Thule. The book becomes an instant classic, Murdstone soars to J.K Rowelling levels of fame.

It all comes at a price, though. And that price is Morl trying to use a sacred Amulet to get into this world, an Amulet that Murdstone possesses, and uses, to translate Pocket’s stories into our language.

Every writer’s dream, and worst nightmare, wrapped into one.

But, for a reader, it’s brilliant.

For a reader, who also happens to be a writer, or knowledgeable in the publishing industry, it is dream, to read.

Full of sass, snark, and just about every insult to Tolkien, Rowelling, and the fantasy genre as a whole, The Murdstone Trilogy is an unrelenting, yet hilarious, story, with twists and turns galore. Nothing is safe from Murdstone and his ire.

“Writers no longer work in solitude, crafting meaningful and elegant prose. No. They have to spend most of their time selling themselves on the fucking internet. Blogging and tweeting and updating their bloody Facebook pages and their wretched narcissistic websites.”

In between the Hamlet-esque ‘is he mad, or is this actually happening,’ diatribes against just about everything, and the fear for Murdstone’s life, there are moments where the audience can really sympathise with Murdstone’s plight.

Every writer has thought that they couldn’t finish the book, or face huge deadlines that loom overhead, or have been so unbelievably stuck, they didn’t think they could ever get out of it.

Every writer has wished that they were as successful as J K Rowelling.

Every writer has definitely wished for someone to take the story away and magically complete it for them.

And that’s the magic of this book. It’s wacky, and insane, but it speaks to the authors, the publishers, the editors. It creates a story focused around the world of publishing, while keeping the most fantastical elements flowing.

I loved every second of this book. It was truly a wonderful read, that had me laughing throughout, and half wishing I could have my own Murdstone-style adventure.

Witty, uncompromising, definitely not for the faint of heart, but, an absolute must read for anyone who loves books.

Valerian And The Intense Special Effects

For weeks now, every time I’ve gone to the cinema, I’ve seen adverts for Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets. I feel like it’s been everywhere for ages now, so I decided to go and see what it was all about.

Now that I’ve seen it, I’m still not entirely sure.

Valerian follows Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne), who are agents working for the space police in the future, and their adventure around Alpha. Alpha is a conglomeration of a thousand planets, who pool all their knowledge together for the greater good. But there’s a problem, according to the general, there’s an area in the centre of the station which is heavily irradiated, and it’s killed every agent who’s gone inside it.

At least, that’s the plot line I picked up on. There’s about four going through the film, to do with general, an alien species and their dead planet, and the fact that Valerian wants to marry Laureline, but she doesn’t want to, until he’s decided to grow up.

These plots weave in and out of each other, quite heavy-handedly at points, with fight and chase scenes interspersed throughout. I found it really quite difficult to pick out exactly what the plot was supposed to be,  it felt like there were so many things going on constantly, with no real cohesion, until the end.

For the most part, I didn’t feel much for anybody. The film threw it’s audience into the action, without giving anybody the chance to find out anything about any of the characters. Not that there was much to say about the characters themselves, really. I found both Valerian and Laureline to be stereotypes, with barely any padding on them, and any chance for them to become more was completely ignored.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that every chance for the story line to break away from stereotype was ignored. There was so much this story could have explored, the writers had an incredible play ground to play in, with so much they could have explored, and instead we got the same old tired space story.

The best part of this film was definitely the special effects. The special effects team deserve medals to say the least. Every alien, space scene, and chase looked real. I was utterly convinced of the special effects, which did so much more to transport me into this sci-fi world, than the story line.

If the writers had spent as much time working on the script, as the special effects team clearly did on their part, this film could have been amazing. Instead, it felt rushed, and left me wanting so much more than what I got. Maybe if I had read the comic book by Peirre Christin first, I would have gotten more from it, but personally, if you’re going to adapt a book into a film, it should be made for die hard fans, and complete newbies too. Without it, you lose half your audience’s interest.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Is Out Of This World

 

Alright, I’ve had 4 hours sleep, which was interrupted thanks to a lovely pounding headache, but I have to write this now because I cannot stop thinking about Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, as I do with all the films Marvel releases, but the Guardians have had a special place in my heart for a while. The first film was a triumph, and made me fall in love with how different they are from other superheros in the franchise, how the humour is kicked up a notch, and just simply how lighthearted this rag-tag team of misfits are.

But Volume 2 hit me sideways. I was not expecting the turns this film took, I was expecting a laugh out loud comedy action film, instead I got a funny, but poignant, film focusing entirely on one important thing: family.

When we left the Guardians Of The Galaxy had just learnt to work together as a group, and in this film, they still work together, but they’ve become a family. And by family, I mean a very dysfunctional one. Peter and Rocket argue constantly, Gamora is ignoring all of Peter’s advances, Drax doesn’t listen to a word anybody else says. Groot mostly stays out of it, because he’s just a tiny baby tree (and by just I mean the cutest thing Marvel have ever created), who is in essence a toddler who likes to cause trouble. The arguing is getting worse and worse, they all love each other in their own ways, but they haven’t learnt to live together, and they are getting close to tearing each other apart.

Meanwhile, Yondu’s crew have mutinied against him, The Sovereign are after the Guardian’s, and there’s a mysterious man hanging around with an alien claiming to be Peter’s dad. That’s right, Peter’s dad has found him, and we finally find out why Peter could hold an Infinity Stone without dying instantly.

I won’t say who he is for spoiler reasons, though if you’re on the internet as much as I am, you’ll know by now, as it was announced months ago. All I’ll say is that the man is full of mystery, and thanks to him, we find out so much more about each member of the team, things that we were desperate to know, some we really weren’t.

I’m making this sound like it’s really angsty all the way through, and it really isn’t. The essence of what makes Guardians Of The Galaxy is still there, the humour definitely more adult in places, but this is still as fun as the first one, if not more so. The plot is great, with some fantastic plot twists that hit me so hard in the chest I nearly wanted to cry. The stakes are higher, the bad guys are more powerful, and most importantly, the films heart got bigger. The Guardians have always been about family, and this time it shines brighter in the most beautiful way.

Volume 2 is like Volume 1, dialed up 100 notches, it’s brilliant, fantastic, just as mind-blowing as the first. I loved every second. I laughed, I nearly cried, I freaked out in places at references as to what is to come later in the MCU. Essentially, I loved it. Plain and simple.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 is an awesome mix of fun, love, and consequences. A film I feel that everyone should watch. Marvel have once again hit the nail on the head, and made one amazing film.

 

Enchanting Beauty And The Beast

I have a small confession to make, I have never watched the original animated version of Beauty And The Beast, and to be honest, I haven’t watched most of the classic Disney films. I was a kid who was more into watching The Matrix Trilogy than Disney films, but now that I’m older (and having gotten heavily into Once Upon A Time) I’m giving Disney films a go, and seeing as this remake had just been released, I decided to give it a go.

Starring Dan Stevens, Emma Watson and an all star cast of wonderfully talented people, Beauty And The Beast tells the story of Belle, a bookish young woman who ends up trapped in a run down castle, owned by a prince, who has been turned into a monstrous beast, thanks to a curse. The Beast is a rude and terrible creature, and the only people who can stand him are his old servants, who have all been turned into sentient objects. Only a beautiful woman can break this curse and return everyone to their original human form, but she has to fall in love with the beast to break it.

It’s a tale as old as time, but it’s absolutely brilliant! I absolutely loved every moment of the film, from the incredible special effects (Dan Steven’s doesn’t just voice Beast, he actually motion captured his body and facial expressions throughout) to the wonderful songs, it all comes together so beautifully.

Of course, this is a Disney movie, so things do generally come together beautifully. But sometimes remakes can be awful, but this one wasn’t. It may be because I haven’t seen the original, and so can only compare it to the Once Upon A Time version of the characters, who are, in a lot of ways, wildly different. But to me, this films seems to be lovingly remade from the original animation, and done brilliantly.

Dan Steven’s Beast is so perfectly misunderstood at the beginning, and becomes a such a nice person, I couldn’t help but fall for him. I wasn’t expecting him to have such a nice singing voice either, or be such a wonderful dancer.

The same goes for Emma Watson, and she plays Belle brilliantly. Belle is an intelligent girl, one who can save herself, and she does so several times throughout.

And that is without mentioning Luke Evans, who plays Gaston. Somehow, he made the character likeable, yet easily hateable at the same time. I couldn’t take my eyes off him whenever he was on screen.

All in all, Beauty And The Beast is a wonderful remake, made by a talented cast and crew. I was easily swept up in the magic of it all, found the story enchanting, and everything to do with the film brilliant. I truly feel like I missed out as a child not watching the original, but I’m glad I saw this one first, at this age, so I could appreciate it as much as I did. The only thing I’d suggest as an improvement would be to see more the Beast as a human, or possibly more of a back story for him, so we as an audience got to see how Beast became to be so beastly a person. Other than that, this is a fantastic film, one I would highly recommend seeing.