Movie Review – Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Deobia Oparei

Twenty years after humanity fought of the alien invasion, a signal is received. They’re coming back.

Like many others I was surprised when I heard they were making a sequel to Independence Day. However, I had the pleasure of watching a double bill of the two films this week and after I watched the first one I did find it interesting to think about what the ramifications of humanity would have been in the aftermath, and not to mention the fact that all those aliens were stranded on Earth. Resurgence answers these questions in satisfying ways yet doesn’t get bogged down in showing the intricacies of the world. It’s fast-paced, much more so than the original.

A few of the original cast members return, combined with new faces that have ties to characters from the first film. While it’s good to see Goldblum again his presence is fairly incidental to the main plot of the film and I don’t think the story would have had to change any without him. Same with Hirsch. Pullman and Spiner have good roles though. On a personal note I’m actually going through a re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation at the moment so it’s nice to see Spiner on the big screen again.

Perhaps the thing I most liked about Resurgence is how it shows that humanity continued to work together and didn’t fall back into old habits. One thing I also noticed about the film is that there’s very little conflict among humans. Some may complain about this, and say that conflict is the essence of drama, but I appreciated how everyone was working to a common goal and while they may have had different ideas of how to go about it, ultimately they were one people. I also appreciated the efforts made to make this less American-centric than the first, with Oparei’s warlord one of the more memorable characters.

But where the destruction in the original film is visceral and terrifying, somehow it feels less so in the new one. There are some heart-wrenching moments, but in this aspect at least it falls short of Independence Day.  I also felt that even though this film broadens the horizons to space and brings an even bigger threat, it still felt smaller. I don’t know if it’s because the threat is too big, almost too abstract for us to comprehend, or if it’s simply because the actors chosen aren’t able to bring life to their characters, lacking the natural charisma of Will Smith, but I felt more detached from this film than I did the original. However, it’s still enjoyable by any standards and there are some intriguing subplots that hint that they may be yet more stories to tell.

Movie Review – Gods of Egypt (2016)

Director: Alex Proyas

Stars: Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Geoffrey Rush

Set interrupts Horus’ coronation and declares himself to be king of Egypt. With Osiris slaughtered and his eyes taken from him, Horus slinks off, defeated, and exiles himself in a tomb. Set rules over Egypt with a heavy hand, craving more and more power as he slaughters the gods who dare resist him. Meanwhile, Bek, a mortal, is struggling to free the love of his life, Zaya, from one of Set’s most loyal servants. This leads to an unlikely alliance between man and god as Bek seeks Horus’ help to end Set’s tyranny.

The world of Egyptian mythology feels much fresher than that of Greek, and even though I prefer Greek mythology I appreciate the change here. I’m by no means an expert on Egyptian mythology so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the characters but I enjoyed the dynamics between the gods and mortals, as well as the exploration of the ancient Egyptian world. The world presented is a hyper-realistic one in which gods and mortals walk the earth together. I feel that this is well-handled as the film uses techniques to give the gods a larger-than-life feeling, and the script worked well to show the hubris of the gods in not paying well enough to the matters of man.

Horus and Bek form an uneasy alliance as they travel through various parts of Egypt in search of a way to defeat Set, who is growing stronger all the time. Again, I enjoyed the varying locales, and also the mere fact that the film is so bright! It seems common these days for movies to be cast in shadows and darkness, but Proyas does not shy away from using the sun and golden hues, and it made me more immersed in the world as it had an aura of majesty about it.

The cast was mostly good. I enjoyed Thwaites as Bek the most. He was basically playing Aladdin, but he and Eaton shared good chemistry and it was just a shame that her basic function was to drive Bek’s motivation. However, her faith in Horus did play an important part in the story so she was a little more than window dressing. Elodie Yung fared much better as Hathor, goddess of love. Coster-Waldau was decent, although as much as I enjoy him in Game of Thrones I don’t think he’s quite leading-man material. I found it amusing how Butler didn’t even try to hide his Scottish brogue, but he was suitably imposing as Set. The worst actors were Set’s vipers, and thankfully the only had to deliver a few lines but even so, their awfulness is immediately apparent.

I enjoyed the action and while the plot isn’t anything revelatory I liked that it focused on a different mythology than I was used to. The score is bombastic and the effects are, I think, pretty decent. At first I wasn’t sure how good it was going to be having the gods transform at will but Proyas did a good job at making them feel like gods, and after the generic fantasy fare served up by Warcraft I found the golden sheen of Gods of Egypt a welcome change.

Movie Review – Hardcore Henry (2016)

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Stars: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth

After waking up in a lab with his wife attaching cybernetic implants in him, Henry is then forced to go on the run from Akan (Kozlovsky), while trying to find a way to hunt him as he captured his wife. Along the way he finds help from Jimmy (Copley). Oh, and the whole thing is shot from a first-person perspective.

When I saw the trailer for this I was impressed yet remained skeptical for I wondered if, over 90 minutes, the visual style would get annoying. I am pleased to report that it does not. In fact, it is incredible and I can foresee a few more films following this trend. Henry doesn’t speak through the film and yet it’s testament to the script, the direction, and the way the actors react to Henry that we do want Henry to succeed and feel an attachment to him. The style is obviously a tribute to video games and I’m sure that there are many homages to various titles that I didn’t get because I’m not into that whole scene. I loved how different the film feels though. The stunts and camerawork is impressive and the sense of humour is prevalent through the film. If you want a gauge to see if you’d like this or not then think of Crank as it is very much in the same vein.

Copley is brilliant here, and in my opinion its his most enjoyable role since District 9. It’s clear quite early on that there’s something going on with his character, and all I say is that the colonel is my favourite.

The plot of the film is one thing I wondered about going in, because video games are mostly notorious for having thin stories. This one is better than I was expecting although there are still some shortfalls. For example, Akan has telekinetic powers but there’s no hint as to why, and I do wish more had been made of Henry’s past life. We get flashbacks to his father but there were a couple of opportunities to show some more of his past. However, those complaints are minor because the film is so much fun and there are so many little references to the genre it is paying tribute to that it just feels wonderful.

I highly recommend this. I had such a blast watching it and I hope that the good word of mouth spreads.

Movie Review – Midnight Special (2016)

Director: Jeff Nicols

Stars: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Ezra Miller, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Lieberher

A child has special powers and he and his father go on the run while the government and a cult, who fear him and worship him respectively, chase after them.

I had high hopes for Midnight Special as, although it’s not based on a comic book, it is basically a superhero movie given that it deals with the themes of power and how people react to it. The film begins with a great deal of intrigue as we’re thrust in media res to a hotel room with a newscast playing on the tv about a boy who has been abducted. There’s something strange about Alton (Lieberher) but we don’t know yet, all we know is that his father, Roy, (Shannon) and friend, Lucas, (Edgerton) are the ones who have kidnapped him. The narrative moves to introduce the cult that seeks to worship the child, and the government who soon get involved for, it turns out, Alton has been able to intercept secret government broadcasts. These two factions are both trying to get their hands on the boy while Roy and Lucas are trying to get him to a mystery destination because…they have to?

That’s basically all the film offers. It’s vague intellectualism at its worst. It introduces a few themes but leaves the audience so misinformed that there’s nothing of substance here. Sure, it acts as a metaphor for parents having to deal with their children growing up, and it presents the two contrasting viewpoints on how to view someone with extreme power, but these are neither original ideas nor explored fully in the film.

Shannon gives his best pained looks as he fights to protect his son, and we’re drip-fed some information here and there but there’s nothing to hold onto. I never felt emotionally invested in the story because it never felt like there was a story. It feels like this film is the second act in a film, and it sorely misses the first and third acts. If there’s any meaning here then it’s all on the viewer to infer for themselves. The history the film hints at is interesting, and the future of the world at the climax of the film doubly so, but there’s no point to any of it. There’s simply no point to the film. The pacing drags and I was hoping that it would lead somewhere but it never does. The cinematography is murky, and the dull, droning monotony of the film is interspersed with some sci-fi effects that jolt the viewer from slumber.

Highly disappointed in this one and I’m quite frankly astonished that this has been getting such a good reception. It didn’t engage me on any level and left me feeling cold, so it’s a hard pass.

Movie Review – Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Stars: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman

Based on a true story, Eddie the Eagle depicts the journey that Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards (Egerton) went through as he tried to achieve his childhood dream of being an Olympian. Facing challenges from the British Olympic Committee and his would-be peers, he eventually convinces washed-out ex-ski jumper Bronson Peary (Jackman) to become his coach, and together they forge a path to the Winter Olympics in Calgary.

First of all it’s important to note the ‘based on’. Much like The Danish Girl this takes extreme liberties with the background of its subject matter, even to the extent of creating Hugh Jackman’s character from nothing, which is quite egregious. But Mr. Edwards himself has come out and said that although the facts are inaccurate, the spirit and essence of the film are correct. The grace with which he approaches this adaptation of his life is symbolic of the film itself, and one that transcends mere facts. I’m 30 so I’m not old enough to remember Eddie the Eagle when he flew, only mentions of him as I was growing up and unfortunately he’s become somewhat synonymous with heroic failure and played for laughs, a punchline to a joke that everyone seems to be in on.

This film corrects that myth and although it is inaccurate and probably exaggerates the extent to which he was opposed by various people (according to what I’ve read his father was in fact supportive, rather than the grumbling figure depicted in the film) it does encapsulate the Olympic spirit, which is that performing to your best is the most important thing. It’s a phrase that has often become trite and patronising, almost a way to soften the blow of defeat, but through this film we are reminded that overcoming one’s own shortcomings is a triumph in and of itself, and in a pointed conversation towards the end of the film we are reminded that it is through heart and attitude that we become champions.

In an age where much of our pop culture has had a cynical edge Eddie the Eagle is an antidote to the gritty, brooding attitude that pervades much of our entertainment. It’s heartwarming without being saccharine, uplifting without devolving into empty sentiment. Egerton is quickly forging a reputation for himself and should be commended for his work here. Jackman gives a standard Jackman performance, but I liked the way their two characters complemented each other. The direction was good, capturing the majesty and unnerving danger of ski jumping almost as well as The Walk captured the dizzying heights of tightrope walking.

It’s simply a film that reminds you that things are possible, that if you work hard enough you may not be the best in the world, but that’s not the only thing that matters. For a long time Eddie the Eagle has been identified with failure, but he should be championed for his success because he achieved his dream and became an Olympian. We can all learn something from his example, and for that reason I give this film my highest recommendation. Absolutely loved it.

Review – Scribd

Scribd is an e-book service that’s basically Netflix, but for books. It’s not entirely accurate, and I’ll get into that in a minute, but it’s $8.99 per month and you get access to a range of books, comics, audiobooks, documents, and sheet music. The last three categories don’t interest me at all but the first do too. I’d been toying with the idea of getting Marvel Unlimited (which is $9.99 a month and grants the user access to most of the Marvel comics ever printed). However, Scribd has a two week free trial and Marvel Unlimited has not, so I signed up for the two weeks of Scribd to see what it’s like and if it’s worth sticking with over trying out Marvel Unlimited.

I’ve had it for just over a week now, and my initial impression is that I really like it and I’m going to keep my subscription after the free trial period, but it’s not perfect. As I said, it’s a little similar to Netflix with one major difference. There’s a limit of three books and one audiobook a month, which they seem apologetic about in the FAQ but it’s still a little annoying, especially for someone who can read quickly. I’ve read two books in the first week. But to make up for this Scribd do have a number of books that are unlimited, so they won’t count to your total. Also, you can read a section of a book before you take it off your monthly limit so if you’re not enjoying it as much as you hoped you won’t have to regret using one of your slots. Another aspect of this is that if you don’t use your slots they will roll over to the next month, which is another nice touch and it gives me the impression that Scribd really do want to give its customer base the best value and deals possible, and if they have to have a limit in order to make money then so be it because, quite frankly, for the price it’s still good value to get access to their catalogue (especially if you’re like me and you don’t mind owning books).

The other great thing is that comics don’t count towards this limit! And, although it doesn’t have as much depth for Marvel comics as Marvel Unlimited it does have comics from other publishers like IDW and Vertigo, so there’s a huge back catalogue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers comics, for example. The Marvel comics they have range from some classic stories to more recent ones, so overall there’s a good selection. The books are split into various categories and when you sign up it takes you through a process where you enter your likes and dislikes so the right books will come up for you. There are also editors’ picks and trending books, so you can see what other people are reading. So far I’ve explored sci-fi and was delighted to see that there are a plethora of Star Trek books on the service, so I plan to catch up on a lot of the developments in the TrekLit world, as well as some classic stories like Imzadi that I never got around to reading.

I’ve explored a few other categories that I’m interested in and I’m hoping that the biography and memoir section gets some more content added soon, but already I’ve added so many books to my library it’s going to take a while to get through them all.

Once in the library you can make collections, so I’ve split some up into Trek novels, Marvel Comics, Other Comics etc. This is neat, but I do wish that the books would then be taken out of the library just for ease of use and neatness’ sake. I also wish that in the case of some comic series, like Transformers, there was a guide or an easy way to suggest the order in which they should be read. For comic reading there’s one main annoyance I’ve found and that is that Scribd doesn’t offer panel-zoom. So you get the page presented and can’t tap on a panel to enlarge it, which is usually alright on my Kindle Fire if the page is portrait, but on landscapes I have to zoom in and scroll around to read the page properly.

Other than that I really like Scribed. The wealth of books offered is awesome and although the limit is something of a handicap for a voracious reader like myself, I like the fact they’ve made the effort to have unlimited books, and I can supplement my reading with comics or getting books from my local library. All in all I would highly recommend at least checking out the free trial, and if I could make a suggestion to Marvel Unlimited I’d say that they should have a free trial as well


Movie Review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Director: Zack Snyder

Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne

Earlier this week the reviews started coming in and they were middling at best. Empire gave it three stars and IGN gave it 6.8. I didn’t actually read those reviews, but my own predictions were that the film was going to be polarising. I thought that Affleck was going to be good as Batman but Superman was going to be mishandled again, that the film was going to be way too cluttered and it was ultimately going to make loads of money but it wasn’t going to be that good. Well, I can tell you here folks that those critics were wrong!

Yes, they were being too generous with three stars. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an abysmal film. And it disappoints me because I wanted it to be good, I wanted to believe that Snyder could improve on Man of Steel and deliver with this epic. But the sad thing is I’m not even surprised. It was two and a half hours of empty moralising, pretentious speeches, and ultimately felt like a child playing with toys. So there’s lots to talk about here.

It begins in the most unoriginal way possible with the death of Batman’s parents. Oh yes, that again. Then there’s a hamfisted dream sequence (not the last one of the film), then the basic theme of the film is introduced. Can Superman be trusted? Should he be allowed to act unilaterally? Bruce Wayne saw the destruction of Metropolis firsthand and believes that he needs to take action to stop him, because, if he wanted, Superman could destroy the world easily. Once he finds out that Lexcorp has found some Kryptonite, he gets an idea. But the whole notion that people still mistrust Superman…the film is set 18-24 months after Man of Steel, didn’t this come up in that time? Superman is once again brooding, I mean, from what I can recall he maybe smiled once in the whole film? It just shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the character. Snyder shoots his scenes in a way that depicts Superman as a being so far away from humanity, and it reflects the way Luthor thinks of Superman. People always say that Superman is difficult to write because he’s too powerful but that just shows a lack of imagination. They’re forgetting the man.

The bit that got me most mad was when Superman uttered the line, “No man stays good in this world,” and if you’re reading this and you don’t have a problem with that then that’s fine, you might actually get some enjoyment out of the film. I get that some people think that Superman should reflect the state of our culture now, and the sad fact of the matter is that the world is cynical and ridden with angst, but I dismiss the notion that Superman should be a reflection of us. Superman should represent the best of us. The kindness, the compassion, the striving to always do what’s good, to be truthful, to be a hero. Contrast this film’s Superman with the current Supergirl on the tv show of the same name. In a recent episode there was a scene where a little girl, wearing a Supergirl costume, was being picked on by some older kids. Supergirl heard this, swooped down, and acted like she was this girl’s friend. I just can’t see Cavill’s Superman doing that.

Affleck makes a good Batman I think his solo film is going to be really good, especially if he’s directing it. But even Batman isn’t handled perfectly. There are vague dream sequences/ hallucinations that are crammed into the film to set up the sequel, but feel shoehorned in, much like the Thor cave scenes in Age of Ultron, and it simply makes the film more of a mess. Batman though, it was an okay depiction of the character until he flies in the Batplane and kills a load of people in a hail of bullets. By that point I was just laughing at how stupid this all was. And it feels vacuous as well, everything in the film happens so quickly and so arbitrarily that it lacks any kind of emotional impact. The much-vaunted fight between the two titular characters is okay. I liked how Batman made up some traps, but again is was basically ‘Batman is amazing. Superman…ehh’ and the switch to when they form a truce is absolutely ridiculous. There was no organic flow, it was just people doing things because the plot demanded it.

Oh yes, Lex Luthor is a perfect example of this. He’s basically a plot device. And you know how people were saying that there’s more to the character than what we saw in the trailer? Nope. I was hoping that the kinda-crazy was all going to be an act, that it was going to be the mask he wore in front of everyone but no he was just insane. Lois wasn’t much better either.  And this is what makes me really mad, the film trades on Superman’s history. In the film his relationship and love for Lois is said to be important but we hardly see them together. It trades on this history but it doesn’t respect it and Snyder doesn’t understand why Superman is such an enduring figure. Could they not have got some Superman writer to consult on the film?

Wonder Woman is probably the best thing about the film (either her or Perry White) and that’s most likely because she’s not in it enough for her character to be ruined. The conflict with Doomsday is empty, again, there’s no emotion to the battle. In Avengers the heroes were fighting a CGI army but at least there was Loki to give some context to the battle. This was, again, just a kid playing with action figures. But I get the feeling that Snyder probably thinks he’s made a grand, deep, profound film when instead the philosophy presented is shallow.

There are a couple of iconic shots lifted from comics that were kinda cool to see on the big screen, but the few things this film does right are let down by the rest of it. I mentioned Superman’s brooding earlier and I get that sometimes people are filled with a bit of doubt, but his brooding is never contrasted with him being optimistic or hopeful. We never get to see Superman actually look like he’s enjoying what he’s doing, like being the hero to earth is a burden. And the most damning fact of all for the film is this. A Civil War trailer played before this, the first one, the one I’ve seen probably 5 or 6 times now. Yet in those few seconds where Cap says “Bucky’s my friend,” and Tony replies with, “So was I,” I felt more emotion than I did in the entirety of the two and a half hours of Batman v Superman.

The film strives for an emotional ending but it feels unearned due to a misunderstanding of the characters and a rushed story. Disappointing, not surprising.



TV Review – Daredevil Season 2 (Spoiler Free)

I don’t usually do reviews of tv shows but when a whole season comes out on one day it’s a bit different. I’m aware that not everyone will have seen all of the show yet so I’m not going to go into spoiler territory, and I’ll only mention things that you would have known from the trailers. I’m going to give my general impressions and talk about some of the themes and concepts in the show. I really enjoyed season 1, although I thought it started off slowly, but I enjoyed the tone. There were  a couple of problems I had with it, so did season 2 correct them?

Yes, but it does have problems of its own as well. The two main criticisms I had of the first series was that it took a long time for things to happen, like Daredevil actually getting his costume. That is completely not the case here and the fast pace is evident from the first episode. The other thing that I felt was missing from the first season was courtroom drama, but that plays an element in season 2 as well. The action  is once again very good, although some fight scenes do become repetitive. But what I like is that this isn’t a show I watch primarily for the fight scenes. I watched it for the characters and the philosophical concepts discussed.

The main theme of the season is examining Daredevil’s code of no killing, and what effects that actually has. The contrast is drawn between two figures in his life, The Punisher and Elektra, who both have different reasons for going to the extreme. The first bulk of episodes focus on the emergence of Frank Castle as a one man killing machine and I loved the way he was introduced and the mystery surrounding why he does what he does. Bernthal is amazing, channelling a young De Niro, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Netflix series starring him because he was such a dominating screen presence that sometimes it felt like it was a Punisher show co-starring Daredevil (although I’m going to say upfront that I like The Punisher more than I do Daredevil). He brings such a brooding intensity and it takes something special to out-brood Matt Murdock.

Punisher is obviously into killing and there are several amazing scenes between the two characters where Punisher calls Daredevil out for being a coward. The criminals he catches get released and go back out on the street, but when Punisher deals with them they’re done. The discussion was handled maturely and both perspectives were given a balanced overview. In a summer where superheroes are going to be fighting each other this is exactly what I want to see, a clashing of philosophies and a way to examine what it actually means to be a hero/vigilante. This is basically everything I want from a superhero tv show, and when Elektra is introduced there are more deeper conversations as Matt has more of a personal connection to her.

Elektra is as well cast as Punisher and that’s probably the main strength of the show. The casting, even to supporting characters, is stellar. Elodie Young captures the essence of Elektra and I felt she and Matt shared the kind of uncontrollable passion that they knew was going to destroy them, but was too powerful to resist. There’s a particularly tender scene in which they compare their scars, and it comes at a point where Matt is struggling to balance his personal life with that of his crime-fighting side. And of course that impacts his relationships with Foggy and Karen. I know a few people get annoyed with Foggy but I love him, and he’s a vital part of the show as he finally gets tired of Matt putting the costume above the lawyer suit. Karen has a subplot where she’s going after the truth about Castle, but honestly I felt for most of the season she was underused, and was just caught between the conflict that arose between Matt and Foggy. Also, they hint at her backstory but it’s so vague that I honestly don’t know why they bothered. I thought they would have delved more into the reasons why she came to New York, especially where they seem to be going for season 3.

But as the season goes in the quality lessens, and that’s understandable in a way because the first 4/5 episodes are SO good. I would put that block up there with the best of superhero screen depictions. The next four episodes are still good, especially the parts with Elektra, but the end of the season I found disappointing. The war that Stick alluded to finally comes to New York as The Hand search for Black Sky, but the big problem is that everything is so vague. Matt actually calls out Stick for being so vague about things, but just because a character on the show hints at a problem it doesn’t excuse it. There’s no reason given why they need Black Sky or what’s going to happen if they get it, or why it’s so powerful, and because of this the end of the season feels anticlimactic, and the themes of the earlier episodes feel lost. The show never really comes to a conclusion about whether Punisher or Matt’s philosophy is right (and it’s probably a good thing that the viewer is left to make up their own mind and think about it themselves) but there was an opportunity in the finale to follow up on that yet it was missed, and where the beginning of the season feels like it’s getting deep into the underlying mythology and tropes of the superhero genre, the final episodes feel like they’re following the same formulaic pattern that has been laid out before them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the show a lot but I think my opinion is just tempered by how good the first episodes were. My other niggling thing is that by the end of the show I enjoyed the Punisher subplot more than I did the actual main plot of the show, and in his own show Daredevil should not be sidelined. But it’s another high-quality superhero product and I’m interested to see how Batman v Superman and Civil War compare in how they handle a conflict between heroes.

Book Review – Ripper by Isabel Allende


The blurb on the back of the book describes the basic outline for the plot, which is that Amanda, a young girl, is part of an online roleplaying game called Ripper, in which she, her grandfather, and a few other teenagers all try and solve fictional murders. But then her interest gets piqued by some real life murders, and the group turns their attention to that, especially when more murders occur and they begin to suspect a serial killer is at large.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? I like role-playing games and the concept of one where you play detectives is intriguing and oh how I wish the book had actually been about that. What the book actually concerns is the love life of Amanda’s mother, Indiana, and the ripper game feels like a side note. And I wouldn’t even mind that so much if the characters had been interesting and well-rounded. There are so many characters involved in this book and they keep getting introduced even at the 200 page mark, which is almost halfway through the book. For a thriller this lacks any kind of suspense, and the crimes are basically footnotes in the saga of Indiana’s relationship problems.

The two main men in her life are Alan Keller, a wealthy man who she loves and has been involved with for four years, but who has never shown any sign of being able to commit, and Ryan, an ex-Navy SEAL who has anger management issues and a problem with alcohol. It’s not exactly original stuff and the scenes between these three characters are well-worn and familiar, and because the cast of characters is so large I never felt like I was given a chance to form an emotional connection to any of them. I get the impression from the acknowledgments that this is the author’s first time writing a thriller, and it’s severely lacking in intrigue and suspense, and these two ingredients give way to vapid relationship drama which comes off as inconsequential and uninvolving.

The initial concept is a good one, and I wish there had been more focus on the roleplaying group but as it is Ripper comes across as a bloated work that places far too much attention on too many characters that do not warrant it. And the final sentence is so trite that I rolled my eyes. Not for me at all, give this one a pass.