Oof! Just finished watching all 23 episodes of series 1 of Arrow. I tell you this: it’s no Jessica Jones or Daredevil. Marvel are winning the battle of the superhero tv series, I reckon. On the plus side, the story-telling is high tempo, the action sequences are well done, the acting of the whole cast is great and there’s eye-candy aplenty. On the less positive side, it’s very repetitive, the plots go from set-up to showdown without any development in between, it’s full of sappy cod psychology, and there are drawn out flashbacks in every-single-episode. The whole premise is a bit forced and not too credible either – a guy is marooned on a Chinese island for five years (although there are squads of British soldiers there too) – and then returns to mainland America with near mystical powers. The baddies shoot hundreds of bullets at him and they all miss!… simply because he’s doing a bit of parcour/free-running! Bit naff. All that said, the closing episodes and season finale are fairly strong… if you get that far. I’d give it 7/10 (don’t wanna be too mean).
Cool, right? Being published with Luna Press Publishing around April 2017. It’ll probs be launched at EasterCon. With wine, I hope. What? No wine, I ain’t going!
I’ve just given an interview on the secrets of publishing, approaches to writing and fantasy literature to Kerry Parsons. You can see it on her site here: https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/qa-with-author-a-j-dalton-ajdalton1/. Happy days!
Pleased to say I’ve just signed a contract with Luna Press for the publication of the ol’ PhD. It’s entitled ‘The history and sub-genres of British fantasy’ and will be out around April 2017 (sort of EasterCon time, so we might launch it there, with suitable fanfare and amounts of wine). If you want to read the official announcement, where there’s more about the PhD’s content: http://www.lunapresspublishing.com/single-post/2016/11/13/A-J-Dalton-Joins-the-Luna-Family
Ben Affleck plays a high-functioning autist who works as a phorensic accountant (checking the books of companies to see where money has gone missing). His work brings him into contact with various nefarious individuals. Fortunately, he was trained in martial arts as a kid by his father (a US army colonel), meaning that he can ruthlessly deal with such nefarious individuals. He’s pretty much a superhero. While checking on the books of one company, employees start getting bumped off by someone trying to cover up the theft of 60 million dollars. The baddies soon decide to come for Ben (and the pretty admin assistant who discovered there was a problem in the first place). Ben has to protect the assistant and take out a small army, which he does, and that’s about it. The plot could have done with a few extra twists, but this is a film that engages you with its characters enough that you don’t really mind. Various film critics have been quite ungenerous about The Accountant, but it does bring something new to your average Hollywood thriller. It’s a movie with a heart. I’d give it 7.5 out of 10.
Where the Jessica Jones tv series is all about psychological and implied violence, the Daredevil Marvel franchise is all about physical and graphic violence. Where Jessica Jones works to create a noir and brooding atmosphere, Daredevil delights in presenting a man shoving a spiked railing thru his eye and into his brain, a child taking a hammer to the back of his father’s head and a man having his head slammed in a car door until he is entirely decapitated. I had to turn away during a few of these stomach-churning moments. Between these shocking scenes, we’re given long, very unsophisticated and repetitive moral agonising. The tempo really flags and the first series seems to lose its way on more than one occasion. For all that, Daredevil has a heart, great acting throughout (leads and supporting cast) and brilliant/original set-pieces. The true saving grace of series 1 is King Pin – about whom we genuinely feel some sympathy (despite the unambiguously evil things he does), since he is as much a victim/product of Hell’s Kitchen as everyone else. Indeed, King Pin is so charismatic compared to Daredevil that he steals the scene much of the time. It all comes together in a decent showdown at the end of series 1 (unlike the lame finale of the Luke Cage series), and is successful enough to make you want to watch series 2 (already available on Netflix). And what does 2 offer? Plenty. The Punisher, and Elektra, to boot. Plus, they tighten up the moral dimension and questioning quite a bit – it is apparent that in removing King Pin and showing the value of vigilante-ism, Daredevil is responsible for unleashing a wave of super-powered vigilantes who are much happier about killing people than our murder-averse titular protagonist. Basically, having thought he’d cleaned up crime, Daredevil now realises he’s created an even worse mess that he’s obliged to clean up… except that this time he might well be over-matched. If you like your super-hero drama, you’ll like Daredevil (even if a lot of the lines are a bit too muttered to catch). I give it 8 out of 10!
Liverpool Hope University is hosting a free Tolkien Day on 11 November 2016, featuring Alan Lee, the Academy Award winning Concept Artist of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. After Lee’s talk, the university will host a free evening screening of The Return of the King. More details of the event can be found at http://www.hope.ac.uk/media/media,67442,en.pdf