Category Archives: Reviews

The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker (2019)

Page count:
532

ISBN:
9780990694977 

The final showdown between Detective Sam Porter’s team, the FBI and 4MK Anson Bishop. In this game of cat and mouse the body count continues to rise and tables turn in ways no-one could have imagined. 

The Sixth Wicked Child is the third novel in the 4MK Thriller series. Continue reading The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker (2019)

Join the Circus — A review of BARNUM The Circus Musical (2019)

Live at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre
Starring Todd McKenney, Rachael Beck, Suzie Mathers, Akina Edmonds, Kirby Burgess and Joshua Reckless
Continue reading Join the Circus — A review of BARNUM The Circus Musical (2019)

Just blew in from the Windy City — A review of Calamity Jane (2019)

Live at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre
Starring Virginia Gay, Laura Bunting, Anthony Gooley, Christina O’Neill, Rob Johnson, Matthew Pearce and Tony Taylor

I love musicals. I love musicals a lot. Most of my favourites come from the “golden age of musicals” — think Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra et al. One of my favourites from this particular period is Calamity Jane, which stars Doris Day as the eponymous character and Howard Keel as ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok. 

So it should go without saying that I was positively beside myself when I was gifted a ticket to see Calamity Jane live. And this wasn’t just any ticket. It wasn’t even a front row ticket. It was a freakin’ “you are sitting ON THE STAGE” ticket. Cut to actual footage of me.

So, how was it? In a word? Ah-MAY-zing. I don’t know if that counts as three words. The point is that it was an unbelievable experience and a delightful show.

Not only is the audience given the option to book a seat on the stage, but the cast frequently pop up in the audience and involve audience members in the narrative. The whole experience is delightfully immersive and I must admit being a little bit envious of the audience member who was given lines to read on the stage.

The audience interaction makes for some very funny moments but the show is just very funny in general. In the session I saw, I’m positive there were times that were improvised and that is one of my absolute favourite things about the theatre. Scripted humour is good but, when it lands, unscripted humour is great.

The entire cast did a phenomenal job, especially given that most of the actors played more than one role. The stand out for me was — rightfully so — Virginia Gay as Calamity Jane. Gay’s performance is captivating every time she is on the stage … or in the audience … or getting snacks. No, really. Someone give her all of the awards for this role. Then cast her in lots more things.

I cannot recommend Calamity Jane enough. If you’re in Australia and have a chance to check out this interactive and exciting take on the classic, you absolutely should. Did I mention you can sit on the stage? Because you can. 

Have you seen Calamity Jane live on stage? What was the last musical you saw live? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

– CJ

Comic Review: Cellies, vol. 1

I was perusing the comics available on NetGalley recently when this cleverly named collection jumped out at me. Cellies follows a group of retail employees at a cell phone store through midnight launches, parental drama and store romances.

Volume one of Cellies is a fun introduction to some interesting and varied characters. The staff feel like they’re your average underpaid and under-appreciated retail worker and their manager is a hoot. Though, I must admit, I never found myself really caring about the characters or what happened to them.

Interspersed throughout the main storyline are “real life” retail horror stories that have been drawn in the same style as Cellies. I think these in particular will resonate with anyone who has ever worked in retail. 

The art is quite cool and I loved the use of colour throughout the comics.

I enjoyed Cellies, vol. 1 as a very quick “slice of life” style read, but found it odd that the volume ended on a cliffhanger. Most collections I have read in the past end on the conclusion of the current story arc so that each collection can be read separately. 

While I did enjoy the first collection, I wasn’t hooked in enough to be super keen on checking out the next instalment in the series. I don’t feel like what I’ve read will be particularly memorable in the long run, but it was a quick read that gave me a few laughs.

 

Have you read Cellies? Is it worth continuing with or do you have another indie comic you’d like to recommend? Hit me up in the comments or on the Twitters.

– CJ

The best of 2018

I’d like to restart the tradition of posting my opinion on the best of the movies and TV shows I watched, and books I read in the past year.

So I will! None of the items on these lists are required to have been released in 2018, but I had to have watched or read them for the first time in 2018.

Here goes!
 

Movies

10. The Meg (2018)
A giant shark movie starring Jason Statham. There was no way this wasn’t making the list.

9. Ocean’s 8 (2018)
A fresh take on an old concept with a stellar cast.

8. Rampage (2018)
A giant animal movie starring Dwayne Johnson. There was no way this wasn’t making the list.

7. Get Out (2018)
Smart horror that doesn’t skimp on the scares.

6. Christopher Robin (2018)
Adorable live action addition to the world of the 100 Acre Woods.

5. Mary Poppins Returns (2019)
Sweet sequel to the story of the world’s favourite nanny.

4. Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
A dark and gritty world of cultism, robbery, espionage and dreams.

3. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
One of the highest stakes movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but still good, action-packed fun.

2. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
A heartbreaking and inspiring look at one of the world’s biggest rock bands.

1. The Greatest Showman (2018)
One of the best musicals I have ever seen and the absolute best outside of the golden age of MGM musicals. Inspiring, visually stunning and an amazing soundtrack — just perfect.

 

Television

10. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: Season Two
It’s fun to see the art these queens create and even more fun to revisit them after their first taste of RPDR fame.

9. Midnight, Texas: Season One
An enjoyable urban fantasy series based on a great book series by Charlaine Harris.

8. Santa Clarita Diet: Season Two
Drew Barrymore as a zombie and Timothy Olyphant as her uptight husband? Gory comedy gold.

7. The Handmaid’s Tale: Seasons One and Two
A dark dystopian journey through the world of Gilead as told through the eyes of June and those around her.

6. American Horror Story: Seasons Five and Six
This year Hotel and Roanoke became two of my favourite seasons of American Horror Story. 

5. Ozark: Season Two
A stellar cast feature in Ozark and the stakes get even higher this season. Great crime drama.

4. RuPaul’s Drag Race: Seasons Six and Seven
Two of my favourite seasons of a favourite TV show — not only because they feature so many favourite queens but the challenges are fantastic and the competition fierce.

3. The Crown: Season Two
I maintain that if Queen Elizabeth has truly dealt with even half of what is shown on this show with the same amount of grace, she is a wondrous human being.

2. Queer Eye: Seasons One and Two
A new fab five hit the road to change the lives of people through self-enhancement — and it’s fantastic.

1. The Haunting of Hill House: Season One
While only one season in, The Haunting of Hill House was the absolute stand out for me this year. Brilliant horror.

 

Books

10. The General Theory of Haunting by Richard Easter (2018)
A combination of science fiction and horror that brings great elements from both.

9. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (2018)
A beautifully constructed mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.

8. Ender’s Game (1985)
A classic science fiction story about war in space and the tolls the training takes.

7. Final Girls by Riley Sager (2017)
An interesting story about the lives of three massacre survivors after the world stops looking.

6. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)
Funny, heart-wrenching and inspirational at the same time. Poehler’s talents don’t seem to end.

5. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (2003)
An exciting start to a long running series about a man who sees the dead. 

4. Redshirts by John Scalzi (2012)
An enjoyable satire of science fiction television shows, particularly Star Trek.

3. Strange Weather by Joe Hill (2017)
A collection of four quirky and thought-provoking stories, all tied to strange weather events.

2. Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker (2018)
The prequel to Dracula that I didn’t know I needed until I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC.

1. The Outsider by Stephen King (2018)
A murder mystery with a unique twist that could only come from the mind of Stephen King.

 

So those are my best of lists for 2018. What were some of your favourite movies, TV shows or books that you experienced in 2018? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.

– CJ

Castlevania: Season One

Review by CJ

Director:
Sam Deats

Writer:
Warren Ellis, Hitoshi Akamatsu (based on the series created by)

Starring:
Richard Armitage, James Callis, Alejandra Reynoso, Matt Frewer, Tony Amendola

Other notable appearances:
Graham McTavish, Emily Swallow

Running time:
22-25 minutes per episode

Number of episodes:
4

 

After humanity burns his wife at the stake, Dracula gives them one year to prepare for his army of demons. Trevor Belmont, the last in a long line of monster slayers, and his allies must band together to put an end to the heartbroken vampire’s vengeance.

Continue reading Castlevania: Season One