HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!!!

The 31st of July is a somewhat special date – mainly just an excuse to get the DVDs, books and memorabilia out, as well as quoting the hell out of Twitter. ‘Why so Special’? I hear you ask. Today is the day that one of the most anticipated quotes of all time (in the Potter-universe) was uttered – ‘Harry – yer a wizard.’ On this day, Harry’s 11th birthday, The Keeper of the Keys, Rubeus Hagrid, brought Harry Potter his Hogwarts acceptance letter, and from that point we were sucked into the wizarding world.

Not only is today Harry Potter’s name day, but also his creator’s J. K. Rowling’s. I cannot thank her enough for giving me the escape, passion, hobby (lifestyle choice) of Harry Potter. From the stories that inspired me to read and write, to the best friend I have made through a common interest, it is all thanks to J. K. Rowling.

Both Rachel and I hope you have the most wonderful of birthdays.

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‘STOP! I FORBID YOU!’ yelled Unlce Vernon in panic.

Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.

‘Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh,’ said Hagrid. ‘Harry – yer a wizard.’

There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be hear.

‘I’m a what?’ gasped Harry.

‘A wizard, o’ course,’ said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa, which groaned and sank even lower, ‘an’ a thumpin’ good’un’ I’d say, once yeh’ve been trained up a bit. With a mum an’ dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An I reckon it’s abou’ time yeh read yeh letter.’

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop

Across every radio station I tuned into today all I heard was how many times Miley Cyrus’ music video to We Can’t Stop has been watched – it’s breaking records apparently. So of course I had to venture to YouTube to watch the latest internet sensation. Well I was so shocked at what I saw I stopped everything I was doing and written this blog post.

What has happened to little Miley bird? Well little bird she is no more. If the blonde crop wasn’t enough of a sign to say she wanted to leave her Disney image behind her, this video will put the nail in the coffin.

I have always been a fan of Miley and although I didn’t care for the make-over (constantly wondering if Liam still fancied her with short hair – what I was attached to that beautiful mane of hers!) I was super-excited to hear that she had been back in the studio, and I wasn’t disappointed.

On first listen the song seemed pretty slow, and pretty auto-tuned, but the more I hear it the more I want to turn the iPod up to full and sing at the top of my voice while dancing round my room. So you can imagine my anticipation on hearing the video had gone viral – I had to see it. Now I sit in mere shock – seeing Miley shake her booty in tinie-tiny clothes, move in some extremely raunchy positions and what I believe to be a grope of another girl’s breast, it is safe to say Miley is no longer the little girl she once was.

I hope that this video was her break away from teenage-hood and she doesn’t have to be so ‘out there’ next time!

Much Ado About Nothing

Back in October 2011 as fans were tantalised by reports and on-set pictures of Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon, whilst taking a break from filming, completely shot his own adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Much Ado About Nothing. At his own house. In about 14 days. And no one knew about until filming had completely wrapped. A feat even for Whedon’s standards.

The production was largely inspired due to Joss Whedon’s Shakespeare reading parties, which came about during filming of Buffy, in which various cast members would come to Whedon’s house and perform read-through’s of Shakespearean plays. It stars a cast of Whedon alumni which include Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof in the lead roles of Beatrice and Benedict, amongst others including Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Tom Lenk, Sean Maher and Fran Kurtz. It’s completely shot in black and white and the script still keeps Shakespeare’s language despite its modern day setting. The backdrop of Whedon’s home brings a wonderful intimacy to the film, and in general the film is beautifully shot.

Acker and Densiof are great sparring partners for each other and the chemistry that they had in Angel is still very much present on-screen. They make a fantastic Beatrice and Benedict, both feisty and bringing a fresh take on the characters. There are some funny moments, mostly provided by the uncanny double team of Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion. Also the classic scenes of Beatrice and Benedick eavesdropping on their friends as they secretly set them up are brilliant fun.

The wait was quite long for most to see this film, with the film opening on release about 18 months after it was originally announced. It received great reviews at various film festivals it was shown at and received a limited release at selected cinemas in the UK and US. If you weren’t lucky enough to find it, or fancy giving this Shakespeare adaptation a try, then it’s certainly worth a watch – even though it’s Shakespeare’s work, it simply screams Joss Whedon and has his stamp all over it.

 

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me” (Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing)

Star Trek Into Darkness

*****PLEASE NOTE THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS – Continue at your peril******

 

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So, better late than never….

Let me start by saying that despite all my relative geekiness, one fandom I’ve never really been interested in joining is Star Trek, or as their affectionately know ‘The Trekkies’. I recognise the faces of many of the characters and probably could even tell you some of the actor’s names but I’ve never sat and watched a full episode of any Star Trek series or any of the previous films.

This all changed when J.J. Abrams took the director’s chair and rebooted the franchise, seemingly taking the Star Trek franchise from nerdy to sexy and cool all in one fell swoop. True I actually only saw the first movie that came out in 2009, the night before going to see Into Darkness, but that’s beside the point – I was still full of anticipation!

So as I walked in the cinema feeling the excitement and the adrenaline that most fans had experienced over an 18 month period, it’s fair to say I didn’t want to be disappointed – I wasn’t. If the first film was about how Kirk got to be the Captain, this film was certainly about how he kept it and actually earned the right to sit in the chair. The relationship between Captain Kirk and our favourite Vulcan, Spock, is again at the heart of the film and this film certainly cements it even further. The chemistry between Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto is lovely to watch on screen and they brilliantly capture the opposite natures of their respective characters.

The film opens with drama, as Zulu and Kirk racing through an alien planet and Spock being lowered into a ready to erupt Volcano. From this point onwards the story moves along quickly, with the attack on Starfleet by John Harrison (later revealed to be old nemesis Khan, played deliciously by Benedict Cumberbatch) the real catalyst in the movie, with the death of Admiral Pike a result of the attack. I really loved Admiral Pike –he was certainly like a surrogate father figure to Kirk, discovering him in that bar and giving him the opportunity to join Starfleet. As soon as the film started really, I knew he has to die but I so wish it didn’t have to happen. However, Pine did an excellent job conveying the hurt and anguish of losing him, and certainly justified Kirk’s revenge-fuelled mission to go after Cumberbatch’s character across the stars.

Now, speaking of Benedict Cumberbatch – where do I start? Benedict Cumberbatch – where do I start with him! He is simply excellent at playing the villain of the piece; cool, calculating, sinister, and manipulative. He does it with a style and swagger and with a voice that is beginning to be iconic. At times in the movie, you begin to wonder whether he is a evil guy at all. His reveal as Khan is not over-done, as it easily could have been, especially when it had been rumoured for so long.  For me, he stole the show with bucket loads of self assurance and a stillness that at times was frightening even without dialogue.

However it isn’t just Cumberbatch – the entire cast put in stellar performances, making it a fantastic ensemble piece. Chris Pine develops Kirk into a Captain – a man of leadership and strength, making hard decisions and being smart about them. Zach Quinto also grows into his role as Spock even more, showing facets of his character that we hadn’t seen before. The scene where he is explaining to Uhura why he chooses not to feel emotion and the moment where he undoubtedly feels emotion when Kirk is trapped in the radiation unit are emotionally stunning and certainly brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. Again the comedic aspects are brought by Scotty and Bones played by Simon Pegg and Karl Urban respectively, with Zoe Saldana, Antonio Yelchin and John Cho also back and at their best. With an ensemble cast it’s easy for characters to be lost, however that doesn’t happen here – it’s full of individual personalities and there’s a sense of care and love that definitely signifies that they are a family on the ship.

Now even though I was daft enough to semi-fall for the fact they had killed Kirk, I quickly snapped out of it because even J.J Abrams wouldn’t kill of the main protagonist of a huge franchise such as Star Trek (but there was a tear). The ending certainly left it open with Khan literally chilling in his freeze chamber. And the end warp also left the series to have another film although it did leave me smiling as it seemed all was content with the Enterprise crew. However the niggling that the end of this movie was very much like the end of the first one made it feel very repetitive to me, especially as I had seen the first literally 24 hours earlier. I also think it could have done with an extra 10 minutes, as the end felt a little rushed to me.

All in all, this film was a fantastic follow-up to Abrams re-boot and is a good end chapter note for the beginnings of the Enterprise crew….for now.

With J.J. Abrahams moving on to fry bigger fish (well the franchise at least has the word “Star” included) there’s no telling what his involvement will be with Star Trek 3, rumoured to be coming out around 2016. Whether it’ll be him at the helm (unlikely due to Star Wars VII) or whether someone else will take over the reins is something that will be interesting to hear.

However it isn’t just his schedule that is a headache and a half – Chris Pine’s turn as Jack Ryan is set to come out this year and if that does well at the box office they may choose to do a sequel, which will only make him more in-demand than ever. Add to that if they choose to bring back Khan, Cumberbatch is fast becoming hot property within the business and so may well be a busy beaver himself. Who knows and only time can tell – for now live long and prosper:

 

Kirk: Let me explain what’s happening here. YOU are a criminal! I watched you murder innocent men and women, I was authorised to END you. And the ONLY reason why you are still alive is because I am allowing it. So, shut your mouth! (Star Trek Into Darkness)

One Day – Paperback

Everyone knows that a summer holiday spent sitting by the pool is the perfect excuse for an intense reading session, so on mine this year I decided to catch up on some books I should have read some years ago – this also means I can now see the films! I began with David Nicholls’ One Day.

I was surprised to realise that the book was only published in 2009 as the film came out in 2011 – fairly fast if you ask me! Anyway… the story follows two lead characters on one day (15th July) for twenty years of their lives, showing snap shots of where they are and what they’re doing after leaving university. Although on several occasions I did just want to know what happened after that day e.g. while they were on holiday, I realise that that was not the point of the book.

It is obvious from the get go that at some point these two best friends were going to end up together one way or another which kind of ruined the book for me in a small way; I found myself just waiting for it to happen and not really enjoying the book to the full.

I did not see the twist towards the end coming. I won’t ruin it here as the book’s worth a read, but WOW. I was in shock – sitting pool side with my mouth gaping open was not a good look but it happened so there.

This book is about love, friendship and life, and is definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something easy, fast and non-intense; definitely one for the beach.

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Remembering Cory Monteith

Today, the world lost a talented young actor, taken far too early.

Cory Monteith, best known as Finn Hudson from Glee was found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver after failing to check out. Whilst it’s unclear what happened, the police are not treating it as foul play.

Fans and celebrities including fellow Glee cast members have been posting tributes about the actor all day. I awoke to the news this morning and was shocked and hugely saddened. The actor had voluntarily checked into rehab back in April but was last pictured looking happy and healthy last month. As a huge Glee fan, I cannot imagine how his fellow cast members and Cory’s family and friends are feeling right now, as well as the countless fans.

In this situation, my heart and prayers go out particularly to Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Berry on the show and is also Monteith’s real-life girlfriend. They were together for 2 years, and she has openly said in interviews how happy she was with the actor.

Even after watching episodes of Glee and listening to the songs, I’m still shocked that he won’t be back on our screens and his talent will be sorely missed. I don’t think it will sink in properly until season 5 airs but for now, I’ll leave everyone with a performance from Mr Monteith.

Rest in Peace Cory – a star will be shining brighter in the sky tonight

Genesis – by Karin Slaughter

So Kat is currently enjoying the sun on holiday so I am holding down the fort here at OBOB HQ. I’ve been a little quiet recently which I apologise about. Anyway on to the review….

Karin Slaughter is perhaps my favourite crime writer; after reading her ‘Grant County’ series I fell in love with her style of writing, the twists and turns that are never ending with honest character storytelling whilst still being inventive with crimes.

This novel incorporates the characters from her ‘Grant County’ series and the Will Trent/Faith Mitchell series. Even though I haven’t read the latter series, I was intrigued as to how the character of Sara Lynton would fit into the story (I won’t spoil what has happened in previous books – they are definitely worth a read!)

In this book, after a woman who is run over in the middle of the night is brought in to A&E and is found to have evidence of torture and trauma on her body, Detectives Will Trent and Faith Mitchell uncover an underground torture chamber and evidence that there is more than just this one victim.

I hadn’t read a Karin Slaughter novel in a long time and this book reignited my love of her books. The integration of both her series worked well, and the characters gelled well together. The storyline was intriguing and as gruesome as her previous novels however, I felt the ending was a little rushed with the resolution of the storyline happening quite quickly. Despite this I really enjoyed this story, and I have now vowed to re-read the other Karin Slaughter novels. The characters are three-dimensional, each with their own personal trials and tribulations and the plot is fast-paced, and moves the story along quickly.

If you do decide to start reading Karin Slaughter, I would advise you to start with her first ‘Grant County’ novel entitled Blindsighted – I promise you won’t regret it.

“Get a search team out here!”, Will rasped.

“What’re you talkin’– “

Will looked at the piece of broken tooth in his hand. “There’s another victim!”

(p59 Genesis)

The Vault – Blade

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Made in 1998, this is definitely one from the vault! My initial reaction was that it was kind of like a male version of Buffy; vampires being slain, people with freak fighting abilities … you see where I’m coming from. The fact it was made so long ago, and the stage props and make up (mainly the fake blood) were extremely low-key compared to now-a-days, made the film all the more fun. I, (bearing in mind I scare easily) was able to watch it quite happily, without once having to shield my eyes.

With Wesley Snipes as the lead (Blade), it was great to watch an older actor in more of his prime years. He was great and reminded me of a modern day Will.I.Am (I don’t know why).

My favourite parts however, were the scenes showing the computer technology. The difference 15 or so years can make! This film is worth watching just to see what they once thought was futuristic, it’s an eye opener to how fast the world is moving, and may be an insight that the technology we see on the likes of Iron Man, could in fact be coming our way!

“I promise you, you’ll be dead by dawn.” – Blade to Frost.