Toy Story 4 – When they said ‘to infinity’…

I’ve said it before, that sequels maketh Hollywood, and yet again this proves true with the release of Toy Story 4. I was disappointed from the beginning this film was even being made – it seemed so pointless when the third instalment had wrapped up the story so perfectly. Plus the timing of Toy Story 3, released over 10 years after the first film, meant that the sweet sadness of Andy giving up his beloved toys for someone else to enjoy, Andy growing up, tugged at the heartstrings of all the right people, of the right ages. It just worked. Another film seemed so unnecessary.

Did we really care about the journey, now that our beloved Andy had gone off to college? What about this plastic spork ‘toy’ we’ve been seeing everywhere? And Bo’s new character development that was so heavily publicised? What more could Toy Story 4 give us, really?

**SPOILER FREE POST**

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Aladdin – Lazy filmmaking

So as if Disney aren’t getting enough money out of the entire world already, they’re churning out yet more remakes of old classics. If they were all good, it might not be a bad idea… but safe to say they’re not. And it’s getting lazy.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Their latest offering is a live action remake of Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, with Will Smith put up to the task of filling Robin Williams’s gargantuan shoes, and needless to say, that was not to everyone’s delight. Though it has to be said, that wasn’t the worst part of the film. Not that it was a total disaster. There were some good things to say about it. Some.

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Welcome to Night Vale – And now for something completely different

Podcasts. They’re a thing now, right? Well, for those of you that are more on trend than I am. But even I have delved into the world of the podcast, courtesy of a couple of Waterstones booksellers.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

The guys recommended to me a podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, on the basis that I was a fan of stories set in the weird and wonderful worlds of fantasy type books. They pitched it to me as a bunch of short episodes of wacky stories set in one American town, mostly unrelated to each other, but with the occasional continuing thread. They told me it’s set up as a radio show, and the presenter has the most golden voice in the world, and the weather section is… well, they chose not to spoil anything for me.

So I gave it a try. And in three weeks I’d listened to over 40 episodes.

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The Rook – Dear you, the book you are reading should be this one

“Dear You, the body you are wearing used to be mine.”

Now if that opening line isn’t going to capture your attention, I don’t know what will. But that’s how this book opens, and it’s one of those rare and magical times that an opening line does everything it’s supposed to do at its best. You’ve got an enticing idea, and character, it gives you some sense of what to expect in the coming 400 pages, and it perfectly tees up the tone for the rest of the book. So if you’re turned off by that line, you can close the book on this post right now.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

But I should probably say a few words on what Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is actually about. Ahem. Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) wakes up in a park in central London surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. With no memory of who she is, she has only the letters her previous self left behind to piece together the plot that led to the gloved corpses in the park, and her own identity. Which she quickly learns is as a leading member of a secret government organisation tasked with protecting Great Britain against supernatural forces. So a piece of cake really.

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Ready Player One – A note on adaptation

You may or may not remember that I read Ready Player One about 6 months ago, although devoured is probably a better word. And after saying my piece about the book, it seems only right that I should follow up with a few words about the film, seeing as it’s arrived.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

The first thing to be said, especially for those of you who’ve read the book, is that it’s quite different to the original material. (If you need it, my brief-and-spoiler-free synopsis is in the post linked above, for reference.) The challenges that stand between player and key are significantly changed, and much of the real-world action has been doctored too. But stick with me, that’s not to say it’s all bad, far from it! The Gates that a player must pass through to obtain the keys that will eventually lead to finding Halliday’s Easter Egg in this virtual reality multiverse (I most definitely stand by my comments made in the last post – I do NOT envy the writers trying to exposition this bad boy on film) needed to be changed. They were far more complex in the book, with more stages to get through, and they were not always very visual, if at all.

Yeah that’s right, I’m praising changes made to the adaptation.

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Call Me By Your Name – Poetry dressed as a novel

With the release of the film starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet a few months ago, which was met with critical acclaim, it seems everyone has swarmed around this book ever since. And what better way to break my 2 month hiatus than to get myself a piece of this book. (Thanks to MrsNightRead for lending me her much loved, highlighted and labelled copy.)

**SPOILER FREE POST**

A basic synopsis then. Elio is seventeen, and lives on the Italian Riviera with his family, where they host a summer guest for a few weeks every year. This year, it’s twenty-four year old American, Oliver. And in just six weeks, the pair share an all-encompassing summer romance of such intensity and magnitude, that the ripples are felt even two decades later.

So, what did I think of it? That actually isn’t the easiest question to answer. From the positive ravings that seem to be everywhere in its wake, I actually thought I’d love Call Me By Your Name more than I did.

I should explain.

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The Shannara Chronicles – Ultimate guilty pleasure TV

Someone asked me recently about what my favourite films and TV of 2017 have been, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy trophy to give out to just one film and one TV show. I did eventually manage to name a favourite TV show (Legion) in the end, but there was one show that stuck in my brain, crying out to be recognised, that I couldn’t quite bring myself to name as my favourite. And that show is The Shannara Chronicles.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

I have talked a bit about The Shannara Chronicles before, in one spoiler-heavy post from season 1, (where there’s also a brief synopsis of the overall concept if you’re interested) but there’s more to be said now that season 2 is on in the UK. It’s a fantasy series, based on an epic series of books (and epic is the only word for it, when you count up over 20 books set in Shannara!) by Terry Brooks. It’s big and bold, and I am completely hooked by it. It’s not all good though – the show is a bit crap in places, and doesn’t do the best job of hiding that fact. Yet somehow, that’s part of its charm! Hence, it gets the title of ‘guilty pleasure’ TV. I couldn’t name it as my favourite more out of principle than anything else, but it’s definitely up there in my top 5. And I’ve been itching to do a commentary on it. Who knows, maybe it’ll even persuade you to give it a shot?

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