Alita: Battle Angel – Film Review

This is one brilliant film. Set five hundred years in the future, in a post apocalyptic world. Well not post nuclear, but post interplanetary war. 

All the remains of humanity crammed into the partial ruins of a skyscraper’d city below a tether’d, cut off and unreachable sky city up above.

There are borrowed elements. Rollerball is a big feature. The Island, where the lucky winner has the chance to break out of the dystopian stew and go to an imagined paradise.

There is a shadowy evil overlord controlling all the minions on the Earth city like a whack job puppet master, eerily played by Edward Norton.

In to this cyberpunk world of mechanised cyborgs,  Rollerball heroes, and hunter killer bounty hunters comes the beautiful Alita.

Her father, one third Dr Jekyll, one third Baron Frankenstein, one third Mother Teresa, builds her from scrap parts discarded by Sky city as a replacement daughter.

Alita, the girl cyborg is amazing. Intelligent, independent, capable, she is on the most important journey of all. The journey to discover herself.

The visual architecture of the dystopian world, the fight scenes, special effects, the great cast of characters go to make this an incredible film. Amazing Sci Fi action for a new generation, and concealed within it a powerful feeling, an understanding that will inspire that generation.

It’s brilliant and I loved it. 

Copyright © Jhedron Luckspar 2019

Checker Board

She looked at the square tiles on the wall and the checker board pattern on the floor and they made her smile.

It had all started ironically in a wood late at night. That was when they had met. They were there, right there, at the beginning. 

She had been a student at film school. She had loved the movies, and growing up as a child had spent her private hours making shorts, putting on shows for her family, sending off her work to competitions and festivals, looking for a lucky break.

She had been able to choose a film school, and she had picked the best.

It was her friend Lisa who had seen the note on the student notice board. It was a common thing. There was always someone in the school with a project, looking for actors, technicians or just extras for a crowd.

This was a bunch of radicals shooting a horror flick in the woods. It was held to be ground breaking, the whole thing shot on hand held cams. Lots of jerky motion and raw realism.

That’s where she had met Peter. He wasn’t even in the movies. He was just a friend of a friend, drafted in to run around the woods at night, getting gored up, having a crack.

They had met over a cup of tea in polystyrene cups. Huddled together in the back of an old van, Billy the director, had borrowed for the night. It had been Love at first sight. 

That was twenty years ago. It had been twenty years of blissful marriage. She had gone on to be a successful filmmaker. Arty low budget films that drew respect in the industry and won prizes at small film festivals. They often got included at Sundance and even Cannes back in ’09.

Peter went on to develop a very successful Architects practice and she always thought they were the perfect couple.

It was ironic, because that film shot in the woods had gone on to be a worldwide hit. It created a whole genre of grainy films shot on hand held cams. 

Being an eminent if low key film-maker, she often was on judging committees for festivals. She watched a lot of movies, some of them inspired, occasionally dreadful, but mostly entertaining enough. After all it couldn’t be any better than this. Not only did she do what she loved, making films, she got paid for watching them too. Life doesn’t get any better.

She had her own private cinema in the basement of the house. She spent a lot of time down here watching the films they sent her. She loved the old days when she wound the spools of film into her projector, but now it was all digital.

She settled down with a lovely bottle of dry white wine, and pressed play.

This was the third film she had seen this week that used that slightly shaky handheld technique. She found it rather passé. It was not a technique she ever used, but she always felt a slight frisson of excitement when she thought back to that film in the woods long ago. It certainly hadn’t hurt her career to be associated with a revolutionary block buster.

This film was shot from the perspective of an, as yet, unknown character. She recognised the location. A famous metro station in Paris with art on the walls. She had been there many times with Peter. At one time they had even had an apartment in that district of Paris.

Nothing much was happening, a few drunks on a bench on the opposite platform were raucously singing an old French ballad, popular ten years ago. Then that rumble and rush of air that preceded the arrival of a train.

The camera waited for the train to stop and the doors to open. She realised this take was just being shot on the fly. The camera took the audience onto a normal looking subway train and turned right. A punk with a scarlet quiff and a tartan jacket, sat vacantly in the first seat, lost in whatever music he was listening to, but as the camera focused a few rows back, her heart seemed to miss a beat in her chest, and her numb fingers let go of her wine glass, which unnoticed spilled its expensive contents on her carefully chosen fabrics.

In a daze she wandered up to the kitchen. She looked at the shining rack of Sabatier knives. Not quite right. She remembered that time in the woods. She remembered the feel of the hammer. Her hand seemed to reach for the meat tenderiser of its own volition.

Like a wraith she made her way up the thickly carpeted stairs. Numb to everything all she could see was Peter and Lisa side by side in the metro carriage. Lisa had aged well. Still a beautiful woman, her silken lips whispered silently into Peter’s ear.

Pushing open the bedroom door, she silently entered the room.  Peter, always so perfect. She stood by the bed watching the rise and fall of his chest, his handsome face.

Tightly holding the handle of the tenderiser behind her back she brushed her fingers lovingly on his cheek, whispering, “Peter, darling.”

She watched his eyes open sleepily, smiling with love as he focused on her face.

She didn’t even cry out as she brought the checker board pattern down onto his forehead with all her might. That was what she remembered. The regular squares embedded in his forehead. 

By the time they had found her the tenderiser had done its work, the beautiful patterns obliterated. Still she appreciated the images. Focusing back on the tiles of her new home, she was looking forward to creating the juxtaposition of squares when she came to film it.

Copyright © Jhedron Luckspar 2019



George Orwell 1984 – Review

In a recent interview I was asked about books that have influenced me. There are some books and films  that I have read and seen once, that were truly brilliant, and I never want to be exposed to again.

Dracula by Bram Stoker was one, read as a child. He just kept on winning. Another, read when I was sixteen in the 1970’s, was George Orwell’s 1984.

This is a dark story of Winston Smith, living in a totalitarian society ruled by the wonderful Big Brother. Winston partially remembers a childhood rhyme from the past

“Oranges and Lemons sang the bells of St Clements…”

His journey to discover the rest of this haunting song, mirrors his quest for identity and love, in a society where all is crushed, and the past before the revolution, dissolved.

Published in 1949, it was a terrifying prediction of things to come. When things go badly for Winston he is threatened with Room 101. This is the room where you face your most terrifying fears, used to tear out your last thread of resistance, and human spark of identity. When I was a young man, the BBC, champion of British television, made a light entertainment program based on this concept!

The most disturbing concept for the young me though, was the constant surveillance. The concealed camera in his living space, in his television.

When things go wrong, it is in his most private, secret, safe space, shared with his love.

This is the first review I have written that even hints at the plot, and for that I apologise. When I read this story 1984 was still in the future, it was still Science Fiction. Like Aldous Huxley before him, Orwell, master of literature, paints a terrifying future society.

Now, 34 years on from his vision, I leave you to judge the reality.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2018

Interview with Awesome Gang – Part two

What other books have influenced you?

This is a real toughy. All of them to some degree. I am in my late fifties and have been reading all my life. The great Anthony Burgess didn’t distinguish between ‘Literature’ and other genres, in what makes a great novel. I have read much Science Fiction, but mostly written last century. I think great novels are timeless. Great Sci Fi can be superseded by time and technology, but the ideas and the characters carry on. “Slan,” by AE Van Vogt is as brilliant today as when it was written. But a space ship travelling at 300mph. Things have moved on.

A good novel, like good music is priceless, wherever it comes from.

Sci Fi, Asimov, Clarke, Simak, Van Vogt, Card

Fantasy, Tolkien, Donaldson, Peake, Silverberg, Moorcock

Aldous Huxley is a genius.

Lit, Burgess, Fowles, L Durrell, Hesse, Camus, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Greene.

Action (thoughtful), Deighton, Clavell, Brown, Yoshikawa.

Humour, Sharp, Adams, Moorcock, Elton, Bryson.

Classic, Dickens, Voltaire, Balzac, Goethe.

That’s enough of lists. Modern stuff. I liked The Girl With All The Gifts, by MR Carey. I missed him at this year’s Swecon, as I was only there for a few hours. Pity.

I think Philip Pullman is brilliant, and George RR Martin. I loved Game of Thrones, Ayra Stark is an awesome character.

What are you working on now?

Three concurrent projects.

I am writing the second book in the Polly Granger Series, sequel to The Lift. Set five years after Polly meets up with Walter and André.

As yet untitled, the fourth book in the Friendship Series is well underway, and finally treading water is Vigilante. This was originally two connected short stories in my book Equations Of Being. I always felt it could grow into a novel, and it’s about 20 chapters in. A superhero noir.

Any advice for new authors?

Yes, copyright your book, and don’t blog every chapter. The second caused me massive headaches with Amazon. The first fixed it.

What’s the best advice you ever had?

That’s a pretty broad question. My Dad told me it’s better to be half an hour early than five minutes late. I guess we can apply that to all situations, even preparing a book for publishing.

What are you reading now?

Dan Brown’s new book, Origin. Very good.

What’s next for you as a writer?

More writing, more travel, which often inspires writing, both in content, and opportunity. Audio books.

What books would you take on to a desert island?

The ones I have read again and again.

Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, Coleen McCulloch’s Masters Of Rome, I missed her out, absolutely brilliant, and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

Thank you

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Jhedron Luckspar

 

Interview with Awesome Gang .com Part One

Tell us about yourself? How many books have you written?

So, I have written 7 books so far. The first two were Philosophical novels about a Boy who is mentored by Death and travels through time and history learning about life. These were privately published. Death was a mix of Death from Terry Pratchett’s brilliant books, and Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. I used one Chapter, which was set in Space, in my book of short stories, Equations Of Being.

So at the beginning of 2014, I was hospitalised for a month. I was writing a lot of poetry at the time. I had written several poetry books, so that’s 9 books in total, forgot about those. I wrote a poem in Accident & Emergency about what was happening to me and that was how my friends found out what where I was. I like emailing my stuff out for feedback.

Anyway I’m stuck in hospital, can’t work, can barely leave the ward. My one advantage is I have been taught to be positive.

I have great friends who visit me every day. They talked me out of my first plan to be a professional backgammon player in Monte Carlo and Geneva. Writing this, I’m a little sad about that. I thought it was a corker.

So I think it would be a crack to make a graphic novel and go to Comicon. One of my good friends was a brilliant artist. He was too busy to do the artwork. So, I look online for a Sci Fi convention, and find Swecon, Sweden’s National Convention and book in as an author.

Well, I left hospital in February and the convention was in July. I wrote my book of short stories. My friend did a great cover for me, but couldn’t come to Sweden.

Another friend, the author and illustrator, Faramond Frie, offered to come with me and help. Good job, because I would never have coped flying to Stockholm and getting a train across Sweden with two suitcases full of books.

It changed both our lives, and like all pebbles thrown in ponds, has sent its ripples out in to the ‘Verse.

Our adventures sparked off Revenge Of The Hrym, and the books that were to follow.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

My latest book is Beano Grigio. It’s the third book in The Friendship Series.

I mentioned in a previous interview it was based on a joke. The band I am in were trying to come up with a name, and I came up with Beano Grigio. I thought it was brilliant. No one else did. Too good to waste, I made it the title of my next book.

Lucky really because it’s my best book so far.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

What like sitting in a bowl of custard with a windmill on my hat?

I can write anywhere but I write best in the mornings, often after waking. I need time, and to be relaxed. Years ago, I could only write with a pen. Unfortunately, the writing process is so urgent with the flow of creativity, and comes out so fast, I had trouble reading my writing. That is a little troublesome, especially as sometimes individual words can be quite specific, and important.

Now I write straight into Notes on my smart phone. This is great, because I read it through, spotting errors. Then I send it to a few friends by email, both because that is satisfying, and also, it’s good to get feedback.

I will read it through a couple more times, because I enjoy it, which is good, but I also pick up a few more commas, and maybe tiny alterations, and email myself the edit.

Later I transfer it into Word, which picks up all kinds of errors, and finally into the final publishing software, ready for my proof readers.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2018

 

 

 

 

London Conversation

This conversation dates from February, and some how missed being posted. Things have moved on. Beano Grigio is being published on July 1st. The Lift is already available on my book page. I finished the sequel to the children’s book yesterday. Guess I have been busy.

My plot lines? Well, good question.

My plot hopefully runs through with some kind of logic. But it’s a bit like a Morecambe and Wise song, all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.

Because my characters are cosmic adventurers, assassins and warriors, bouncing backwards and forwards in space time, so do the series of events. I like to break up the action and come back to it. So there are multiple plot lines running, but also multiple times, not just now, the past, the future, but also different times in the life experience of each character. The way I look at it, a person’s life is a thread of moments. If I catch the train to London and spend the day at the British Museum and Ronnie Scott’s that’s the thread. Tomorrow I fly to Paris, drink coffee and play chess on the banks of the Seine, browse the shelves of the American Bookshop, and base jump inside Notre Dame. The thread continues. Next day I go back in time, still in Paris, and have dinner with Robespierre. Sunday, I travel by horse to Giverny, and look at the water lilies 130 years before Monet paints them. Four days of my thread. Each character is living their own thread, which crisscross, and intermingle throughout the plot lines.

Base jumping, no I’m only kidding. Never parachuted. An old friend once base jumped inside a cathedral. We pick up inspiration from all places.

I once heard the secret of life. The first two, of three, absorption, expulsion. Expulsion, in this case, creativity, but you need absorption in your life. Experience, travel, books, movies. Sometimes I will hear something in the morning on the radio, and by midnight it will nudge a thought, a sentence, an idea.

My stories are about adventures. People get shot, blown up, stabbed, but they also look at sunsets and enjoy dining together. At the moment in the world, there are events happening, and sometimes their ghost will haunt an idea.

Who knows how the creative process works?

What am I working on at the moment? Polishing off Beano Grigio, my third novel in the Friendship Series. The last few weeks I have been writing some side plots and character stories. I keep being asked for more detail, so I’m trying to listen.

I have a small group of friends who I send out my latest chapters to, when I have written them. It’s good to get feedback. Recently I wrote a stand alone short story, The Lift, which I posted out. Three friends were quite adamant. What happens next? It’s now ten chapters. I have set it aside now to concentrate on finishing Beano, but I guess that’s my next project.

I have the prologue written for Beano, and I know roughly where I’m going on the fourth book in the series. I wrote the first page months ago.

Also I am doing a children’s book with my friend, Faramond Frie. We did a private edition for children of friends and family for last Christmas. We only had time for the cover illustration then, but Fram is working on the artwork for an illustrated edition for publication.

How is it? Well I’m really pleased with it. We got some great feedback from parents, but most importantly from the kids.

It’s a fantasy about a princess, a horse and a dragon.

Why did I write it? Three weeks before Christmas I had dinner with friends. One friend was talking with me about reading to his ten year old daughter, and trying to find something she liked. I inquired about her likes, and was told horses. That was on the Friday night.

On the Sunday I wrote the book. It’s only 25 pages. Fram did the cover and I managed to deliver a hardback copy for my friend’s daughter in time for Christmas. There’s that thing again. Absorption, expulsion. If I hadn’t had the conversation, I wouldn’t have written a children’s book.

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2018

The Lift

Polly was late for work. Everything had been going wrong. She had slept through her alarm this morning. How could that happen. She felt grimy, because in all the rush she hadn’t hadn’t time to shower. She had laddered her tights, snagged on something on the tube. She had had to stand the whole way from Holborn.

Now she was waiting for the lift at her office building on Canary Wharf. A magnificent building that rose into the sky, floor upon floor, as it dominated this part of the London horizon. She was involved in the bizarrest of conversations.

“Believe me lady, you don’t want to catch this lift.”

“Yes. I do.”

“No Ma’am,” replied the smaller, compactor of the two, “not now, not this lift.”

“But this is my lift, I work here.”

“Not this lift Ma’am, try later, or that one over there.”

Polly wanted to scream, but she was still holding it together.

“Listen to me. This is my lift. I catch it everyday. I am very late. I am catching this lift.”

“Can’t let you do that Ma’am.”

“And stop calling me Ma’am. Are you Americans?” she asked exasperatedly.

“No Ma’am, we are adventurers.”

Polly paused for thought. They were two of the weirdest guys she had seen in a long time. It wasn’t the brightly coloured hair and beards or the alchemical symbols tattooed on their faces. It was their costumes. Like two guys from a SWAT team, but tie dyed instead of camouflage. Perhaps that was their camouflage. Both men carried large holdalls.

“Gentlemen, I am catching this lift.”

“Okay Ma’am,” replied the smaller, who now accepted that the persistent woman was going to share their ride. He had introduced himself as Walter. “And this is André,” he indicated his larger companion.

“Like the giant?”

“Yes, like the giant.”

“Weird,” she muttered to herself, “who are these nutters?”

“Not nutters Ma’am,” said André, in a voice that was decidedly silken for a man of his stature, adventurers.”

“Adventurers with supersonic hearing?” she muttered again embarrassedly.

“Yes Ma’am, it comes in handy.”

“On adventures?”

“Yes Ma’am, on adventures.”

Polly was saved from any more of this whack job conversation by the ding of the bell. The lift doors whispered open.

Standing either side of the door, the two mismatched, but identically dressed men bowed their heads and held out an arm, inviting her to enter first. With a few unexpected butterflies in her stomach, Polly stepped into the lift.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar ©2017/18

 

 

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To get a free eBook of THE LIFT, click on the link          THE LIFT – FREE BOOK

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bubble

The bubble slowly rose to the surface carrying all the hopes and aspirations of a planet. It was the first.

The Boy carried his wooden sword proudly. He had walked many miles away from the area of the devastation. The cities lay in ruins. All vestiges of technology were gone. Hulking wrecks that were once mighty, now collosus collections of smashed steel and concrete. Roaming gangs like packs of rats swarmed the land devouring stragglers and lone travellers and yet still the Boy walked proud.

Corpses, mostly human, scattered the land, filling the air with that sweet smell of putrefaction and occasionally the Boy gagged with the stench of it, but still he carried on.

They stood blocking the road. Five men, faces burnt by radiation. Clothes blackened by filth and flame. What weapons they carried were simple but effective. The boy saw a hammer, some form of club or bat, chains, a rake, even the broken remains of a metal chair.

The threat was more a growl than language but the Boy understood. His sword was smooth, curved and carved from white oak from another land. It shone in the evening light from it’s lovingly polished wood.

It’s first kiss was against the temple of the leader. There was a loud crack as the bone shattered but the Boy was in flight now. Spinning away from the falling body he brought the blade down in a cut on a shoulder, the wooden sword breaking rather than cutting the collar bone. A deflection inwards caught the line of the jaw and another dropped.

A roar behind him, caused him to pivot on the loose ground. A large wrench smashing down at his head. Moving subtly the Boy drifted like a wisp of smoke as the metal club crushed the empty air. Two small cuts of his blade almost like magic broke the descending arm at wrist and elbow and the wrench crashed down harmlessly hitting the ground almost simultaneously as the edge of the Boy’s sword ‘cut’ through the throat, crushing the thorax with it’s polished wooden edge.

A detached part of the Boy’s consciousness remembered his Master and the moment he had presenting him with this beautiful blade that had become a part of him. A symbiotic partner that together weaved a life of love, motion and magic.

“Remember my Son, it is a sword. Whether finest folded steel or gift of the forest the man and the blade become one.

The Boy continued on his journey. Behind him the scavengers remained, broken and quiet, and somewhere the bubble arrived at a surface, where it crossed into the emptiness and so, again, it began.

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2017

Original artwork by Faramond Frie

Rogue One

 

A straight forward fight between good and evil. This film is magnificent. I had forgotten how good it was and was only really watching it to tweak my new home cinema sound system.

It’s hard to believe that Star Wars is forty years old. No video, dvd or internet in those days. I missed the first film even though my sister was an ucherette at the local cinema. I caught Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back on a double bill, sat on the front row of the balcony, in one of the old giant screen cinemas, all now long gone. I was never the same again.

Rogue One as I’m sure you already know is the immediate prequel to Eposode 4. A small band of rebels who strive to steal the plans of the Death Star that Princess Leah is taking to the Alliance and conceals on R2D2.

If you haven’t by some miracle seen it yet I won’t be giving away the plot. It’s heroic, brilliantly portrayed by an inspired collection of previously little known actors in the central roles. It’s got George Lucas’ name on it and if I was him I would be so proud of this film. It really rocks. It’s Star Wars but without the quirky, goofy humour that we all love, and actually all the better for it.

The strength of the film lies in it’s solid plot. It’s a stand alone story woven within the fabric of Lucas’ epic masterpieces. There are great characters especially the central six.

There are also main characters from the original film cleverly intertwined to tie it all together. Brilliant.

At the end I was connected and you can’t ask more than that.

They keep on making the films. I thought the last sequel was brilliant too. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for great entertainment, but of course, it’s so much more.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s great. If you have and it’s been a while, it’s worth seeing again.

 

Thank you to Faramond Frie for his great artwork.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a fantastic film. The original was ground breaking. Based on Phillip K Dick’s, “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep,” it was the great cyberpunk world of sleazy streets and magnificent architecture set in a future Los Angeles of flying cars and deep space exploration.

Made in 1982 it was a brilliant multilayered film of film noir, Dashiell Hammett type detective, Science Fiction, beautifully ambient, with the story of the human condition and the gift of life told through the experiences of a small group of androids, or human replicants, who had a four year life span and were fighting their mortality. A complex and intelligent film that the studio forced director, Ridley Scott, to put a commentary voice over, so that the less sophisticated cinema audiences might know what the hell was going on. Blade Runner was a film that inspired a generation.

So quite a lot to live up to. I rewatched the original the week before, thankfully the directors cut, long ago restored to it’s original glory.

The first twenty minutes were a surprise. A step away from the Los Angeles of the future. A little slow as the plot was developing, I was starting to panic. Still, no need to worry. We were soon catapaulted back to that steamy Los Angeles world. That mix of back street Hong Kong or Shanghai, replicant prostitutes, street markets selling robotic parts and organs. That mixture of flying cars and pedal bikes. If you have ever taken a taxi ride in Cairo at night it is full of fast moving images. Beautiful, amazing and scary all at the same time. All the cars driving as fast as they can, like around the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, but with no head lights, dodging, camels, donkeys, carts, pedestrians and all the other completely insane drivers. When you arrive at your destination unscathed it is like being reborn.

The greatest of Science Fiction uses it’s world as the backdrop to tell a great story. Scott’s dystopian world is the stage for a new complex twisting plot that continues and builds on the original story of 2019, now thirty years in the future. I thought it was very well done and I left the cinema feeling lifted, entertained and inspired.

You can’t ask more than that. Harrison Ford, bringing back the role of Deckard was brilliant. Perhaps this film will inspire a new generation. It should do. I hope so.