Archive for June, 2013

Here is a short story which I wrote when I was bored. Enjoy :).

Not Talking this morning are we? by Darren Derbyshire

The alarm sounded as I awoke with a start.  My head was throbbing; I had awoken with a really bad head ache. I lay for a few seconds contemplating whether to ring in sick but thought I’d better not as I had an important meeting with my boss today. I could hear birds tweeting in the background but they were competing with the snores coming from my wife who lay next to me. I got up without disturbing her, washed and dressed.  The cat didn’t even bat an eye lid when I walked past it. Downstairs I could hear Tracy, my 14 year old daughter, playing.

“Morning” I said

But no reply came back

“Not talking this morning are we” I said.

There was still no reply.

“Fine” I mumbled as I went into the kitchen to make breakfast.

I was incredibly thirsty and even a pint of water did not touch my thirst.  I wasn’t hungry so decided against breakfast.  But I nearly slipped over a puddle of water when I left the kitchen.

“Dam it Tracy” I shouted.

But there was still no reply. I didn’t have time to tidy up so left the house quickly as I walked to the train station.

“Morning Barry” I said as I walked past my neighbour who was getting in his car. But he didn’t even reply or look at me. Strange I thought.

My head felt strange, in fact I still felt half asleep and I was dreaming. Even when I got to the station everybody seemed to be ignoring me. On the train the ticket collector even walked straight pass me and didn’t check if I had a ticket. I felt invisible. What is happening?

Annoyed, I got off the train at my stop and walked into work.

“Morning everyone” I said as I walked into the office.

No reply.

“MORNING” I shouted.

Again, there was no reply.  In fact everybody seemed to be ignoring me.


I ran around the office shouting at every body but they were oblivious to me.  I screamed and screamed and screamed but still no response. So I ran out, and somehow I made it to my home. I felt so alone, I did not know what to do. I entered my home, and saw my family in the living room. They were crying but they did not take notice of me entering. Why were they crying? Why didn’t they see me?

And then there was a voice behind me, a familiar voice calling my name, but it can’t be because he was dead. But yes it was the voice of my father. But he had died many years ago.

I turned and there he was. My dad, looking youthful, with a white glow around him.

He held out his arms smiling.

“You will be ok”

He said

“I’m with you now”.

The end

Here is my review of “Man of Steel” which I saw at the Odeon Cinema in Stoke today (Released on 14th June 2013).  Please don’t read if you have not seen the film, spoiler alert.

I have been looking forward to this reboot of superman for a while. For me Christopher Reeve is Superman so I was keen to find out what director Zack Snyder would do.  And in fact it was the first time I have taken my 5 (nearly 6) old son to the cinema. Like me, he is a huge fan of super hero movies. So, I will also tell you what he thought as well.

The film starts on the the planet Krypton. It faces imminent destruction due to its unstable core, and its ruling council is under the threat of rebel General Zod and his followers. Scientist Jor-El (played by the brilliant Russell Crowe) and his wife save their naturally conceived newborn son Kal-El by placing him on a spacecraft to Earth, infusing his cels with a genetic codex to preserve the Kryptonian race. After Zod murders Jor-El for stealing the codex, he and his followers are captured by Kryptonian soldiers and banished to the Phantom Zone. However, peace is short as Krypton explodes afterwards while the mourning Lara helplessly watches before dying with her planet.

The infant Kal-El is raised as the adopted son of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent, who name him Clark. Clark’s Kryptonian physiology gives him superhuman abilities on Earth, which initially cause him confusion and ostracization, but he gradually learns to harness his powers to help others. Jonathan reveals to a teenage Clark that he is an alien, and advises him to not use his powers publicly, fearing that society will reject him. After Jonathan’s death during a tornado, an adult Clark (played by Henry Cavill) spends several years living a nomadic lifestyle, working different jobs under false names.

He eventually infiltrates the scientific discovery in the Arctic of a Kryptonian scout spaceship. Clark enters the alien ship and it allows him to communicate with the preserved consciousness of Jor-El in the form of a hologram where he finds out about his origins. Lois Lane, a journalist from the Daily Planet who was sent to make a story on the discovery, sneaks inside the ship while following Clark and is rescued by him when she is injured by the ship’s automated defences. Lois’s editor Perry White rejects her story of a “superhuman” rescuer, so she traces Clark back to Kansas with the intention of writing an exposé. After hearing his story, she decides not to reveal his secret.

Having been freed from the Phantom Zone when Krypton exploded, Zod and his followers seek out other colony worlds only to find the Kryptonian inhabitants all deceased. They eventually follow a Kryptonian distress signal that was sent from the ship discovered in the Arctic, and triangulate it to Earth. Zod demands that humans surrender Kal-El, who he believes has the codex, to him or humanity will suffer the consequences. Clark agrees to surrender to the U.S. military, who  in turn hand Lois and Clark over to Zod’s second-in-command, Faora.

Zod reveals that he intends to use a terraforming “world engine” to transform Earth into a new Krypton, eradicating the human population in the process, and to use the codex inside Clark to repopulate the planet with genetically-engineered Kryptonians.

Clark and Lois manage to escape Zod’s ship with the help of Jor-El’s spirit. There follows a mammoth battle between Clark and General Zod’s followers leaving a trail of destruction in their path. Clark manages to defeat Faora in Kansas and convinces the military that he is on their side.

Zod in turn deploys the world engine and initiates the terraforming in Metropolis and over the Indian Ocean.

Clark, now dubbed “Superman”, manages to stop the world engine in the Indian Ocean. And the military uses the spacecraft that brought Clark to Earth in an aerial strike on Zod’s ship over Metropolis, returning Zod’s crew to the Phantom Zone. However Zod escapes, and he and Clark engage each other in an amazing battle across Metropolis. In the battle Superman is forced to kill General Zod to stop his rampage.

Some time later, Superman continues to earn the U.S. government’s trust, although evading their efforts to spy on him to uncover his secret identity. To create an alias that gives him access to dangerous situations without arousing suspicion, Clark takes a job as a timid, bespectacled reporter at the Daily Planet.

So what did I think?

Well, this was a fantastic film. Russell Crowe was excellent in his role. He portrayed the perfect elements of poise, honor and compassion that one would expect from Superman’s father. Also Kevin Costner was also really good as Mr Kent. It was very sad when he sacrificed himself to protect Clarks Identity.

Michael Shannon was brilliant as Zod. He was extremely villainous and ruthless. And, in the end we were able to understand his motivation. In one short scene, he was able to make everyone understand the culture of the Kryptonian people, which was missing from the original Superman movies. Before we never understood Zod as anything more than a monster.

Laurence Fishburne as Perry is great. Amy Adams as Lois is ok but doesn’t really get a whole lot  to do. And the rest of cast did a superb job.

But I loved Henry Cavill as Superman.  He was brilliant and stole the show as he rightly should. Not only was he dashingly hot and sexy (according to my wife) with his bulging muscles, but Henry was able to portray his character as an innocent, caring, and people oriented person. And at the same time, he was amazingly strong and courageous. He has taken this role as his own and I can’t wait for any sequels. My only gripe is that Superman’s infancy and arrival on earth is mostly told out of order, which at times can be confusing. However, in doing so it reveals a bit more at various times of Superman’s life.

The effects were jaw dropping.  They were truly awesome. I really enjoyed watching the action sequences, explosions and the battle sequences between superman and the other Kryptonians.  It made you realise just how “god” like these beings were.  The choreography is stunning, making for some brilliant bone crunching fight sequences.  Snyder has seriously raised the bar for superhero films and provided much needed competition to the Marvel superhero films.   And unlike the original superman films the violence is real and people die.

Don’t get me wrong I liked the old Superman films, but there’s no denying how dated they have become when compared to this. I have covered this previously. Read my blog, rebooting classics. So in my opinion the “Man of Steel” has successfully reinvented Superman for a modern audience.

In summary, I loved it.  It was a brilliant brilliant brilliant movie :). What more can I say?

But most importantly my son, Oscar, thought the movie was BRILLIANT too. He was transfixed in his seat for the duration of the film, which was well over 2 hours, so it must have been good.  He couldn’t stop talking about it afterwards and when I asked him what he thought the best bit was he said it was when Superman killed Zod. So there you go, a film enjoyed by all the family :).

Oh, and there definitely isn’t a post-credits scene which is a shame. So don’t wait around during the credits as we did.

Anyway, what do you think?

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As you may know I am not a huge fan of rebooting classic films, see Total Recall….Not another remake!!!  but I watched something the other day that may have changed my mind.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I decided to watch superman 2 with my 5 year old son.  I had recorded it for him as I thought he may enjoy it. I have always thought that “superman” and “superman 2” were brilliant (at the time). For me, superman will always be Christopher Reeve.

When it first came out back in 1980 I was still at school and I remember the fuss at the time when I went to see it at the cinema and I remember being blown away by the special effects.  Never before had we seen superheroes fighting super villains with superpowers, except in cartoons. But the other day when I was watching it with my son, it suddenly dawned on me how crap the special effects were compared to say the “Avengers Assemble” or “Iron Man” or even probably the “Man of Steel” (superman reboot) which I haven’t seen yet. My son loved it, but I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong Christopher Reeve is brilliant and the action and story is pretty darn good, well if you ignore the fact superman can wipe somebodies memory just be kissing them, but for me the effects look really bad.

Superman was and still is one of my favourite superheroes. I loved reading the comics and watching the different TV series/films. I still remember when I was young boy (late 70s I think) watching old repeats of “the adventures of superman” on a Saturday morning starring George Reeves.  And I remember the anticipation waiting for Clark Kent to turn into superman and use his powers to thwart the baddies. It was the highlight of the show.  Now if I had watched that now I will probably think what a load of rubbish.

And it got me thinking. Have I gotten too old to enjoy classic blockbusters and television series or I am expecting too much from special effects. Is it me?  Am I being too demanding as a viewer or do we need to reboot now and again just to keep up with current technology/trends

Here is another example to illustrate my point. In 1933 they released a horror movie that set the standard at the time. It had loads of action, state of the art special effects and was a brilliant movie, for its time. Do you know what it was called, “King Kong”. It was remade in 1976, and then again in 2005.  The 2005 version was really good and for me was almost as good as the original. Did it need to be remade/rebooted?

Well I hate admit it but sometimes I think yes things have to rebooted  to keep up with current trends and current technology of film/television program making.  The original “King Kong” is still a masterpiece and the remakes haven’t detracted from that.  In fact I think the remakes have made it relevant to a younger audience and in turn they may seek out the original.

So does that mean change is necessary?

I will give you an example of where change has been paramount to its success. Take Doctor Who, my favourite and the longest running science fiction series on TV. Here is an example of something that keeps reinventing/rebooting itself to keep up to date with modern audiences. And because it does this, in my opinion, it is still as good and keeps getting better.

So does that mean change is good?

No not in all cases.  Take another of my favourite films “Star Wars”.  I can still watch the original “star wars” from 1977 and still be entertained and blown away by the movie. In my opinion the effects are brilliant and the film hasn’t dated. I liked the sequels and prequels, but they didn’t have the magic of the original. And even though they are making some more sequels in the next couple of years (of which I have no interest in at the moment) I don’t think that original should ever ever ever be rebooted.  But then that’s the nostalgic part of me resisting change. And I think “if it ain’t broke why fix it.”.

Anyway, I guess I am rambling now. And what I am trying to say is that some films/TV shows date well and some don’t and therefor some do need rebooting and some don’t.  But who am I to say which ones?

What do you think?

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