Wednesday, December 28, 2011


In 2011 I saw 24 new release movies (three twice) and 2 “retro” movies at various special screenings for a total of 29 visits to the theatre..  This is an increase over the 25 times I went to the movies in 2010, and I will say that overall the quality of this years movies was a lot better.

I have to say I had the most fun at the two “retro” movies.  Jaws is my all time favorite movie (nothing else comes close).  My wife and I sat down to see a pristine copy of Jaws in a packed movie theatre that was a perfect experience for a midnight movie.  I was shocked to discover that the people in front of us had never seen Jaws before (based on their jumps)…come on.  How do we let something like this happen in this country?  Robocop has always had a fondness in my heart for the pure level of violence and extremely dark humor.  Seeing it with my brother on the big screen this summer was a truly fun time.  Hard to believe the first time I saw the movie was over 20 years ago! 

Keep in mind my comment list only includes films I saw at the theatre (home rentals do not count) as I managed to see many of these movies Trollhunter, Red State, home.

The worst movies I saw in 2011 were SUCKER PUNCH (great CGI surrounded by a lame story…and I am a huge Zack Snyder fan so it was tough to experience) and THE HANGOVER PART 2…just wasn’t very funny because they tried to be gross and merely repeat jokes that were funnier the first time, also it’s easier to be funny in Vegas than Thailand.

The best movies were incredibly difficult for me to narrow down this year.  When I began the list I thought it would be simple, then I reread my choices and spent 30 minutes just sorting and resorting.  2011 was clearly the year of the GOOD superhero movie as 4 made it onto my list.  Plenty of great action movies stepped forward this year as well which is nice to see.  If this list could have been the Top 12 then my job would have been a lot easier.

The TOP TEN BEST MOVIES OF 2011 (in my opinion):

10. A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS – Some movies just hit me the right way.  In 2011, no movie made me laugh as hard as this one!  Wafflebot, Neil Patrick Harris, riffs on claymation, A Christmas Story, and shooting Santa Claus.  This was some seriously funny stuff.  If it wasn’t so perverse and violent, I’m sure it would become a holiday classic.  Still, file it along with Bad Santa for the Adult-time Christmas Movie Festival. Remember…Waffles + Robots = AWESOME!

9. THE GREEN HORNET – Most likely this will be this year’s divisive movie on my list.  Many of my friends don’t like it, and I won’t argue the point with them.  I’ve always been a fan of the character and I do think that Seth Rogan made a funny movie that plays as a great origin movie.  Having re-watched this movie on TV, more times than I care to admit, all I know is I enjoy it every single time.

8. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 – I still think Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the best book and movie in this series, however, there really hasn’t been a bad Harry Potter movie.  Eight movies, all blockbusters and all good!  Wow!  That’s impressive and shows how good the source material was.  The battle of Hogwarts and Professor Snape’s revelation here are the defining moments and they’re perfect.  I was also impressed that the final battle between Harry and Voldemort was better in the movie than it was in the book (that rarely happens with movies).

7. SOURCE CODE – So someone took Groundhog Day and made it into a sci-fi movie…a VERY good sci-fi movie.  I had zero expectations for this movie, and it kept me glued to the screen for the entire runtime.  Just when you think you have things figured out the movie throws a new curveball at you…right up until the conclusion.  I see it’s on Netflix now…so most likely I’ll be giving it another viewing to look for clues that I may have missed the first time around.  The sign of any good sci-fi movie is the ability to talk and dissect it upon viewing, and Source Code allows for plenty of conversation.

6. THOR – I’ve never been a Thor fan.  Even as a child watching the cartoon, I found the premise somewhat silly.  The Thor comics…bore-fest.  So, I wasn’t too excited for the movie.  But, when my wife showed an interest in this movie I decided to give it a chance.  Wow, glad I did.  Kenneth Branaugh delivers a solid movie that is a spectacle to watch.  There’s a lot of mythology to explain but it is all handled well especially when dealing with the Thor-Loki (brother vs. brother) scenario.  My only minor gripe is the lack of a truly memorable action sequence.  Still, I would never have expected a movie about the Norse God of Thunder to even make the list.

5. SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS – This was the final movie of 2011 that I saw.  I ended the year on a good note.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Robert Downey Holmes movie (in fact the BBC’s Sherlock made for TV movies are superior in every way) but it was satisfactory.  I ended up liking this sequel much more.  Guy Ritchie slows down the camera and much of the dialogue and delivers a cat-n-mouse chase scenario that is fun at every step.  The inclusion of Professor Moriarty (and his showdown with Holmes) is the difference maker in this sequel.  Shockingly, when the movie was over I found myself thinking, “I’d enjoy seeing another adventure with these characters.”

4. X-MEN FIRST CLASS – I pretty much hated the first three X-Men movies.  This is coming from a lifelong X-Men comic book fan.  The translation from comic to movies just rubbed me the wrong way.  They got Wolverine right and everything else wrong (especially when they let Halle Berry exercise her “creative control” on the series).  Then this movie comes along which I was hating before I sat down to watch it…and then…I LOVED EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF IT.  Michael Fassbender is the ultimate bad ass as Magneto.  I’d pay $10 to watch him go kill Nazis for 2 hours anytime.  I hope this movie made enough for a sequel and that it remains in the same creative hands.

3. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – Somewhere there had to be a movie without action and superheroes…right?  Yeppers.  I’ve seen the original version of tGwtDT and I’ve read the book.  Both were excellent.  Still, this new version by David Fincher is even better.  The story is gripping surrounding a 40-year old mystery and the means of solving it are handled exceptionally well and quite gripping.  Still at the heart of the story is the odd partnership between journalist Blomqvist and hacker Salander and this character study keeps things constantly moving and never dull.  If you’re interested, you can’t go wrong with any version of this story.

2. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL – I’m a fan of all of the Mission Impossible movies.  None are great, but as a series they each feel quite unique.  I wasn’t even excited to see MI4 until the movie began.  Brad Bird made a stellar action movie with some of the best (and most intense) set pieces this year.  When Ethan Hunt climbs the tower in Dubai…I was on the edge of my seat.  I’ve been a huge Jeremy Renner fan since S.W.A.T. and it was great to see him enter this franchise.  Kudos to the cinematographers for filming a movie that is so fast paced, but edited in a way where I can smoothly follow every single scene.  It’s nice to leave a movie without a headache.  The MI movies are America’s answer to James Bond, and if you’ve never seen them go ahead and start with this one because you’re in for a fun ride.

1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER – The best movie of 2011 and one of the best superhero movies ever made.  The time period is nailed perfectly.  I loved the pacing of the origin story and the use of CGI to turn wimpy Steve Rogers into human-perfection Captain America was stellar.  I smiled through this entire movie because Joe Johnston (who also did a remarkable job with The Rocketeer for the exact same reasons) molded a solid adventure story that reminded me of how fun attending a great movie can (and should) be!  It was an added bonus to see Tommy Lee Jones having as much fun on the screen as I was having in my seat.  This was also the first movie in years that had me stopping at a Best Buy to purchase the DVD on the day of release.  This movie ranks alongside Superman The Movie, The Dark Knight, and Spider-Man 2 as one of the best superhero movies ever made.


*Shark Night 3D…could have been so much more.  Still, it did have a decent grindhouse feel to it.  I wish the film makers had followed the Piranha 3D model and gone for more violence and nudity instead of the watered down PG13 which in the long run hurt the movie.

*Green Lantern…could have been epic, but wasn’t a disaster.  Warner missed a surefire franchise opportunity because they didn’t make good casting, directing, and writing choices.  Hope they learned their lesson before they make that Flash movie.

*Conan the Barbarian…see my reviews for Shark Night and Green Lantern.  This could have been the start of a new franchise…instead it felt like a made-for-TV movie.

*The Muppets…it was funny and entertaining.  My wife is the true Muppets fan, so I know it made her Top 10 list.

*Battle: Los Angeles…was there a story in this movie?  Still it was made decent enough to entertain me for two hours…but 5 minutes later I was hard pressed to remember anything that happened in it.

*Transformers: Dark of the Moon… “If I’m a giant robot, why do I need to turn into a car?”  This concept has always confused me.  I hate Shia LeBouf and Michael Bay.  And yet, there was so much eye candy that it kept me watching.  When the building collapsed…that looked cool!

*Final Destination 5…and when the bridge collapsed in this movie…that was cool too!  These “snuff” films keep being made…and me and my “Netflix Group” have to attend them all and skewer away…and we do with joyful merriment.

*Fright Night…the original Fright Night is one of my all time favorite movies.  This one didn’t have a chance.  But, it was different enough to at least not have me hating it.  I still think they wimped out at the end by not delivering a stellar battle with a bad ass vampire (see the original to experience that).

*Scream 4…I like the Scream franchise and this one did everything right.  I had no real complaints, it just wasn’t strong enough to make a run for the Top 10.

*Cowboys & Aliens…not sure why so many people turned on this movie?  It mixed sci-fi and westerns perfectly.  For a summertime popcorn movie it did its job as well.  At times it reminded me a bit of Independence Day and I think that’s why I couldn’t get it onto the Top 10 list.

*Rise of the Planet of the Apes…before I saw this movie I had it pegged as a summertime BOMB!  Wow!  I was wrong.  It was smart, entertaining, and ended up being a nice hit.  It took a long time for me to decide if it was going to make it into the Top 10.

*Fast Five…Man I SO wanted this movie to make it into the Top 10.  Then it got bumped.  But, make no mistake.  I love this movie and the entire Fast & Furious franchise.  This was a solid action movie and heist film…that delivered a great Vin Diesel vs. Rock showcase fight.  I can’t wait for Fast 6 and 7 which are in the pipeline.

My rundown of the 2011 movies I saw in the theatre and the order in which I viewed them…wow did I end the year on a strong note with some great films.  Do yourself a favor and go see some of these (or rent them) and have a few hours of fun and entertainment.

2001 at the movies…remember I saw a few more than once…
The Green Hornet
Sucker Punch
Battle: Los Angeles
Source Code
Scream 4
Fast Five
The Hangover Part 2
X-Men First Class
Green Lantern
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys & Aliens
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Final Destination 5
Fright Night
Conan the Barbarian
Shark Night 3D
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
The Muppets
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Bring on 2012…

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review - THE WOLF'S HOUR - Part 2

In November 2011 Subterranean Press will be releasing a limited edition follow-up to The Wolf's Hour.  Robert McCammon's novella and short-story filled continuation with the Michael Gallatin character is titled: THE HUNTER IN THE WOODS.  Check out their
One of the novellas to be included in this new collection is THE ROOM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS which was just released as a free (WOW! Don't hear that often) ebook download.  This 30,000 word story takes place after the events in The Wolf's Hour and really shows that McCammon is still writing at the top of his game.

Where as The Wolf's Hour was a superb spy-horror-action story.  The new novella is much more of a drama-romance story.  Shocking to see the change, but it works remarkably well.  There's so much fun to the Michael Gallatin character, and a richness to the trials and tribulations he faces on his newest mission behind enemy lines.  McCammon is always excelled in creating strong villains and "punishing" surprises, and this novella continues the trend.  The final action set piece is both exciting and terrifying in its brutality.  Astute readers will understand that the novella's title is both the setting of the climax and an allegory to a place Michael fears he'll one day see.

I loved reading THE ROOM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS.  I hope McCammon continues to release his past works on ebook formats as my Kindle gets far more attention these days than any books on my shelf.  If you're interested in ordering THE HUNTER IN THE WOODS or snagging the free novella download look here...

If you've never read anything by Robert McCammon, check out some of his best work: BOY'S LIFE, SWAN SONG, BLUE WORLD, SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD, STINGER, and MINE.  The author's website...

Keep up the great work Rick!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review - THE WOLF'S HOUR - Part 1

Original Pocketbooks paperback cover - 1989
In the late 1980's I discovered Robert McCammon's work through the excellent horror-sci/fi novel STINGER.  It didn't take me long to devour THEY THIRST, THE NIGHT BOAT, BLUE WORLD and practically everything he wrote.  Reading the works of Robert McCammon is like seeing a Saturday matinee cliff-hanger. THE WOLF'S HOUR (first published in 1989) was the 6th book by McCammon that I had read at the time.  Initially I chose to pass it by because the plot seemed a little too bizarre for me. How cool can a werewolf book set in World War II be?  But, I gave it a chance and discovered the answer...VERY VERY COOL! Since my first reading of this awesome novel, I have gone back to it numerous times for the sheer level of character depth and ambitious action sequences.

McCammon tells the story of Michael Gallatin in two parts. Part one deals with the early years of werewolf life and addresses the myth/fact areas of the legend that will be necessary for the novel. Part two is sheer action as Gallatin goes on a mission deep into Nazi Germany. The stories are told concurrently and intertwine throughout the novel. The book is a study in duality - good vs. evil, man vs. wolf, action vs. horror...and through it all we are left to ponder the question, "What is the werewolf in the eyes of God?"

As with his other excellent works  McCammon provides a strong protagonist and more importantly an equal antagonist. The Wolf's Hour gives us three villains that the hero must deal with: Colonel Jerek Blok, his muscular henchman "Boots", and big-game hunter Harry Sandler. Waiting for these characters to meet and battle really made the read thrilling. McCammon starts the ride in motion on Page 1 and takes us through more suspense and action than we could get at any theme park. The book is sheer kinetic energy. And, just like the cliff-hangers of yesteryear, McCammon puts our hero into numerous perils in every single chapter. Whether it is battling a Berzerker wolf in the forest, fighting off Nazi's on the roof of the Paris opera house, struggling for survival in a Nazi death camp, or battling a vicious hunter on board a literal locomotive death-trap, we are continually asking ourselves "How will the hero get out of this one?"

A few years ago when he was promoting his new book MISTER SLAUGHTER, I had the opportunity to meet Robert McCammon at a book signing in Ann Arbor (see earlier posts).  During the Q&A I asked him if he would ever consider writing a sequel to THE WOLF'S HOUR.  His reponse was the tease of, "A  However, I do think the character has several shorter stories worth telling."  Well, that got me pumped up and the wait began.

Luckily the wait is partially over...see you tomorrow for Part 2 on this topic.

Friday, March 11, 2011

804-JAN Part 2

Sorry Part 2 took a couple of days. Nusbaum and I had to check the legal ramifications of our adventure (which for any law enforcement officers reading from here on out shall be filed under "fiction"). Turns out the statute of limitations for being an asshole teenager ran out a long while ago for us.

So, the chase was on.

We tore down Pennsylvania Avenue in hot pursuit of 804-JAN.

It stands to note that if my adrenaline hadn't been going a million miles a minute several questions would have probably crossed my mind...
*Why were we chasing someone we didn't know?
*Why was he running from us?
*What would happen if we caused an accident?
*What would happen if we caught 804-JAN?

Nope didn't care.  Since I'm writing this in 2011 and Charlie Sheen is foremost on everyone's minds.  WINNING!  That was the only thought I truly had.  Nusbaum as my wingman didn't seem to mind as he worked to keep the faster vehicle perpetually in our sites.

We shot across Fort Street and were working our way into Wyandotte.  804-JAN had a lead and was capitalizing on it because the Mustang was more than a match for the Buick.  So, I decided to push an insane situation to the next level.  I needed to gain ground so I did the only thing I could.

I pretty much threw all the rules of legal driving out the window.   I zipped across the double-yellow to pass a semi (narrowly dodging an oncoming car).  I ran a light, and then a STOP sign...or three.  I made hairpin turns at top speed sending some of the loudest SCREECHES you could imagine through the neighborhoods.

We had 804-JAN in our sites and we were right on top of him.  Then he pulled his own special manuver and made a surprise left turn...I overshot him.  I then made the next left and continued my 65+ mph speed through a 25mph community.  Luckily it was late so the kids, and most adults, were in bed.

We raced at top speed through the area of 15th and 17th streets.  Afew times we could actually see the 'stang between houses on the next street over.  He was slowing down since he foolishly thought he had lost us.

The Beast shot ahead and I cut over, "intercepting" our quarry!  804-JAN was shocked to say the least.  He made a fast turn and did a 180 racing back towards Pennsylvania Avenue.  My energy once more got the better of me and I had to pull into a driveway to turn around...killing our momentum.  But, I made up for it with "pedal to the metal" time (I'm sure the tire marks are still burned into that concrete).

Once more 804-JAN was in our site, but another fast turn and he got the better of us.  We were somewhere between Electric Avenue and Biddle.  There was a series of warehouses and storage areas, and in one moment the White Mustang was visible...and in the next he had vanished (just like Keyser Soze).
The trick was doubly amazing since we ended up at a deadend...staring at a brick wall.  I stopped the car and we got out and looked around.  Listening.  NOTHING.

"Now how did he do that?"  I asked.

"No clue," Nusbaum replied.  This was doubly shocking since Nusbaum rarely was left without an answer to a pondering situation.

"What do we do now?"

"Let's go back to his apartment and look for him."

Like Batman and Robin we jumped back into the car, set the "Turbines to Speed" and returned to where the chase began...


Thursday, March 3, 2011

804-JAN - Part 1

When I was 17 my best friend Nusbaum and I used to enjoy playing the occasional game with other cars. It seemed like simple mindless fun, but in looking back on our high speed chases, of which there were many…we’re lucky to be alive.

Our routine was simple. We’d usually go out and see a movie, stop at the 7-11 and grab some snacks and then spend the time between 9pm and midnight cruising around some neighboring towns…following people. I’d be driving my 1978 Buick Regal (which I fondly called "The Beast").  Nusbaum was the “spotter”. That’s all we would do - follow. We’d just pick a car and say, “Ok. Follow them.” Every turn a chosen driver made…we’d make the same turn. We’d keep a close distance too. Amazing how many drivers never noticed, even when we were the only other car on the road with them. We’d tag along with cars as they took a complicated route home for miles and miles. Heck, occasionally we’d pull up into the person’s driveway and then back up and leave. Not so much as a startled look.
That was until we met 804-JAN.
804-JAN (or the closest pic I could find)
If memory serves we had just come from a screening of the Billy Crystal – Gregory Hines movie Running Scared at the Southgate 4 cinema. We stopped off got some Big Gulps and candy and picked a white 1986 Ford Mustang to follow. Hey, the guy just picked the wrong time to pass us by.
Our following began. For us there was just something so amusing about a car chase that only one party was in on. The Mustang drove on and the following continued.

As we drove behind license plate 804-JAN, we chuckled to ourselves at how funny it would be if the driver noticed us. Again…stupid fun and just oh so lame.

804-JAN made a turn into a nearby apartment complex. My Buick followed at a casual speed. We passed through several parking bays, turned near some buildings, and worked our way to the back of the complex. As we drove the Mustang seemed to be inching away from us. It was noticeable at each turn as we started to see less and less of it. Eventually we had to guess at the direction the car went. At the final left available to us, we turned into a parking lot that was a dead end.

The real "Beast" ended up under a I could find.
Our target was nowhere to be seen.

I looked over at Nusbaum with a “what the hell?” expression.
We scanned the parking lot which was fairly crowded with cars but couldn’t see the Mustang. By this time it was easily 10pm so the darkness was not our ally. After a few seconds I opened my door, the light came on, and I stood outside of the car. Nusbaum did the same on his side. We kept looking and looking. Finally beyond the row of cars at the opposite side of the parking lot I saw 804-JAN. The driver was sitting in the car, lights off, engine running. He had managed to drift around the dead end parking lot and get back to the entrance.

“THERE HE IS!” I said as I pointed.

I’m not really sure what 804-JAN was expecting from us, but at my gesture he floored his car with a squeal of the tires and tore out of the parking lot at a dangerous rate of speed.
Nusbaum and I jumped into “The Beast” and gave chase.

We took the same way out of the parking lot that we had taken in…but at an incredibly dangerous rate of speed. Each turn came at a blazing rate and it was clear the Buick could turn and accelerate anywhere close to the Mustang.

When 804-JAN came to the apartment’s entrance and the major intersection, he didn’t stop, nor slow down, but made the turn with a tremendous screech of his tires.

To this day I’m not sure what I was thinking…but I followed. The brake wasn’t even touched. For some reason my brain was telling my body that it was just like being in a car chase in a movie and we’d be “perfectly fine”. Had Nusbaum leaned over and told me to slow down I’m sure it would have snapped me back to reality and the endeavour that we were now a part of. But, the adrenaline was pumping and stopping was no longer an option.

At about 70 miles per hours the Mustang and Buick raced down Pennsylvania Avenue…this chase was just starting…


Saturday, February 26, 2011


My friend and I have been working on a novel.  It's a science fiction novel and we're pretty pleased with the early stages.

The one thing I can promise you, this will NOT be the opening line of the novel.

In the year 2323, the Space-Pope was rocketing through the galaxy in his jet-car.

Thank God for editing and level minds!  :)


Friday, February 18, 2011

Best Movies of 2010!

Ah 2010, for me what a completely forgettable year at the movies this was. Don't get me wrong, I did see some good movies...but it was so hard for me to remember 10 of them that I needed to go online and refresh my memory about what was released over the course of the year.

Sorry this reflection is coming late, but HEY at least you can now go Netflix the choices I recommend if you haven't seen them.

In 2010 I saw 23 new release movies (two twice) and 4 “retro” movies at various special screenings. I have to say I had a lot more fun at the “retro” movies. In looking over my list 2010 wasn’t a bad year for movies, no ‘E’ or ‘D’ grades, but as I said it wasn’t a stellar year either. Keep in mind this list only includes films I saw at the theatre ON THE BIG SCREEN (home rentals do not count).

Grade: “Retro”…releases that had me smiling every second I was watching them… The Warriors (A-), John Carpenter’s THE THING (A), Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom (A+), and Back to the Future (A+).

Grade: “MEH”…just seemed to miss the mark…Clash of the Titans, The A-Team, and Tron Legacy. I had high hopes for all and just expected a lot more.

Grade: “W” …The wife made me see it…Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Black Swan. The guys in Twilight took their clothes off too much, the girls in Black Swan didn’t. Bummer!

Grade: “C”…Averageville…Iron-Man 2…next to Tron this turned out to be a let down.

Grade: “B+”…WAY BETTER than I could have expected…The Crazies, The Wolfman, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Other Guys, The Expendables, and Buried. Went in with little expectation…came out thoroughly entertained.

Grade: “Awesome…Totally Awesome”…Piranha 3D and Machete…these movies seemed to come straight from a 1970’s drive-in to 2010 and I loved every second of them! Nudity and violence and CHEESE = ME BEING HAPPY.

Grade: “A-“…just missed the top category…Predators, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. All good and original movies just not quite top-tier for the year.

Grade: “TOP TIER”…in my mind the best that 2010 had to offer (based on what I paid to see in the theatre)…KICK ASS, TOY STORY 3, DESPICABLE ME, INCEPTION, THE TOWN, and TRUE GRIT. All stellar movies, very original, superbly executed, and worth a viewing (and for me future DVD ownership).

Stop reading this and go see a movie! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


In 1987 when I saw Robocop…it blew my mind. This was the same summer that I paid my own hard-earned money for movies like Jaws IV: The Revenge and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and was introduced to the concept of EPIC FAIL. Then along came Robocop. The poster looked lame. The title sounded cheesy. The previews were lacking. Still, one evening my friend Mike and I had little else to do so we climbed into my ’78 Buick Regal and headed over to the Southgate 4…for what turned out to be one of the best movies I saw that summer (maybe of the 1980’s).

I’m not giving a summary, I mean if you’ve never seen Robocop then stop reading this immediately and go rectify this situation. But the key points we need to know for this blog are: the movie takes place in Detroit (or rather “Old Detroit”), it focuses on a crime ridden city and an over-whelmed police force that both end up getting a shot from the new technology that melds dead officer Alex Murphy with Omni Consumer Products super cyborg. The sheer level of action and violence that follows is incredible.

Robocop had three prime directives:
1) Serve the public trust
2) Protect the innocent
3) Uphold the law

How great is that!

So here we are in 2011 and I’m writing about Robocop. Why? Well it turns out some jokey tweets lead to a movement for some sci-fi fans to erect a statue of Robocop near the police station in downtown Detroit. The idea was immediately turned down by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. However, the fans got an online petition going, found some private property and managed to collect $50,000…that’s all they needed and now ROBOCOP will stand tall in Detroit.

I love this idea. I don’t think it’s the “joke” that some naysayers do. Robocop is a great movie. Robocop is a police officer protecting the city of Detroit. Doesn’t he represent three excellent traits? If Rocky stands for the “never give up” quality that Philadelphia fans love so much (and he got his statue in Rocky III that is still standing today), then why not Robo?

Here’s the article from the Detroit News about the topic…
RoboCop statue reaches funding goal The Detroit News

If the statue does get built, I hope the trend continues. How cool would it be to see a huge Snake Plissken statue standing up in New York City...and then in L.A...and for the purists...Cleveland!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

TRAPPED! (an "I Read It" Review)

One of the most useful devices I've gotten in the past decade has to be the Kindle from Amazon. I could write a book about how much I use and love it! Obviously over the past year I've spent more time reading than be prepared for lots of reviews in the next weeks about some terrific books (ebooks) I've been treated to.

I'll start with the most recent book I've read (finished less than 10 hours ago) - TRAPPED by J.A. Konrath. Hearing some great online buzz about the book, I downloaded it via my Kindle and dove right in. To say TRAPPED is a great horror/action novel would be an understatement. It's an exciting read that paints visuals in your mind so powerfully that you can immediately picture it as a movie. The pace is unrelenting. The characters are placed into unique and frightening situations. And, the villains/monsters...are scary.

The quick lowdown is that TRAPPED focuses on a small group of teens and their counselors who spend a weekend on a small island in Lake Huron. It's supposed to be a fun camping/team-building isn't. Turns out the island is home to an evil scientist, his "monster", a sociopath, and a pack of rabid cannibals. Trust me, "fun vacation" isn't going to happen. Smart money is on, dismemberment, brutal deaths, and running for your life 24/7.

Like his previous novel AFRAID (which I am a huge fan of, and last I heard was being made into a movie), Konrath is a master of giving you reason to keep turning the page. Each character's section ends with some form of cliffhanger that makes the reader need to keep going. His visuals reminded me of scenes from horror movies and the entire novel plays out like a Friday the 13th movie mixed with a bit of Frankenstein...then add tons more torture and gore...truthfully, the word "tons" probably won't do it justice so just don't read while you're eating anything.

One of the things I enjoyed most about my Kindle download of TRAPPED was the extras (see there's a reason I love the Kindle so much). This was my first time getting anything additional with my download and I've downloaded plenty. Mr. Konrath includes the published version of TRAPPED, along with his original version which was turned down by his editors (I won't tell you which version is presented first when you read). In between the two novels Konrath gives us a letter of explanation about what happened during the editorial process and why changes were deemed necessary. This is much like watching a commentary track on a DVD. To delve into the creator's process, is something I truly enjoy. There are also some excerpts from other Konrath novels. This is a lot of material (easily 500+ pages) for a $2.99 download. Just too much material that you would miss if you merely bought a book at the store (and you're paying alot less for the Kindle version).

Still, there is a flaw and it's one that J.A. Konrath does need to focus on. Two words, spelling and grammar. I'm not sure if TRAPPED has spelling mistakes due to the conversion to a Kindle file or merely slopping editing. But each of the spelling mistakes has the look of a computer doing the spell-check. There are around 20 word goofs similar to this..."hatched" instead of "hatchet"...and each one unfortunately took this reader out of a very exciting novel. I hope for future Kindle releases a few more editorial spell checks are made (trust me, I’m a fan…I’d be glad to assist).

And, if you're a fan of horror and action...TRAPPED will keep you turning the page. In the end isn't that what a good novel and a good author should do? YES! And for $2.99 Mr. Konrath succeeds perfectly.