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FAIRY TALE ENDING?
Bryan Singer’s Jack The Giant Slayer is a film that was finished a little while back but apparently because of extra work needed on its 3D scenes, it has only just been released. 2013 is beginning to feel a bit like the year of the fairy tale movie with Raimi’s Oz The Great and Terrible and the atrocious Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters. Jack The Giant Slayer tells the story of the eponymous Jack (Nicholas Hoult) who grows up with stories of giants trapped in a magical kingdom above his home. The giants plot to return to terra firma and wreak havoc on the humans and Jack unwittingly gives them the conduit to make this a reality. King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) sends his best knight Elmont (Ewan MacGregor) to defeat the giants but it takes simple farmhand Jack to rout them and win the hand of the beautiful princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson). Jack The Giant Slayer feels like the sort of films they used to make in the Seventies and Eighties and with a predominantly British cast, it feels like no other Bryan Singer film to date. The dialogue is a little bit hackneyed and stilted but the film does have its heart in the right place, there are some strong visual touches and a solid cast including MacGregor and Stanley Tucci. It also feels less manipulative than Hansel & Gretel and with a simple plot that should appeal to young audiences over the Easter holidays. Not a perfect film by any means but an eminently enjoyable one…

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MAGIC MOMENTS?
Sam Raimi has always seemed capable of merging his dark horror sensibilities with something more mainstream and so I had high hopes for Oz The Great and Powerful. An intriguing trailer and a decent cast that includes James Franco, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz meant that expectations were high. Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a magician of questionable ability who finds himself swept away to the land of Oz, where the grateful inhabitants greet him as their saviour and he has to decide whether he has it in him to be the man they believe he is capable of being. Diggs meets three witches, Glinda (Michelle Williams), Evanora (Weisz) and Theodora (Kunis) but all is not what it seems. One of the witches is responsible for the land’s troubles and he must discover who it is if he is to save Oz. Franco is good here, as he brings a certain amount of range to his performance and Williams lends Glinda a naive charm but Oz The Great and Powerful just doesn’t quite gel. When you are trying to revisit a subject that is so loved and revered by audiences worldwide, then you are already at a disadvantage before you start. Raimi was a good choice for this as he has shown his ability to shoehorn adult themes into children’s vehicles but the tone here is strangely uneven. The script comes across as hackneyed and overly familiar and it’s not quite dark enough to satisfy adult audiences but perhaps a little too knowing and arch to really connect with children. It’s a real shame as it’s not a total disaster (the introduction of the China Girl (Joey King) is nicely handled and the origin of the Wicked Witch is quite clever) but it does fall between the stools. Dramatically it is not as well made a film as 1985’s Return To Oz and it certainly falls far short of the 1939 Wizard of Oz. So disappointing rather than terrible, Oz The Great and Powerful is worth checking out with a number of major reservations…

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TRIPWIRE 21: A SPECIAL COMPETITION
Well we’ve been up on Kickstarter for 22 days now and we are making decent progress. But I have decided to offer a very special competition. Once we hit 25% of our target, we shall be doing a prize draw, putting the name of everyone who has pledged into our hat. And we shall be picking one person who gets a one-off limited edition hardcover of TRIPWIRE 10, our tenth anniversary book we published way back in 2002. We only published this in paperback so this will be a true one off: we are getting an old-fashioned book binder to create this lovely object. So get pledging, as it could be you taking home this lovely item. Here’s the original cover to TRIPWIRE 10 from 2002 by Ashley Wood…

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17 DAYS INTO KICKSTARTER
So we have 43 days left on the Kickstarter campaign for TRIPWIRE 21. It started well but it has tailed off a little bit. I do wish that we had an extra 30 days to fund this but 60 days is the maximum. So I have been pushing it relentlessly on Twitter and Facebook, reminding people of its existence. I am not by nature a salesman and it does make me feel a little uncomfortable about doing this but if we don’t fund it this time, then I’m not sure what we’ll do. Here’s a few more layouts to show you the progress of the book. Pledges start at only £1…
TRIPWIRE 21 kickstarter