Posted in films & DVD

Jurassic World

I have recently watched the exciting dinosaur film Jurassic World again. It features Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell who visit their Aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) who works at Jurassic World as the park’s operations manager. Jurassic World is currently owned by weathy industrialist Mr Masrani (Irfan Khan). Zach and Gray decide to explore and watch the huge Marine reptile Mosasaur in the Lagoon before going on a Gyrosphere ride round the park where they see Triceratops, Ankylosaurs, stegosaurs, Pachycephalosaurs, brontosaurs and parasaurolophus

Meanwhile Owen Grady, (Chris Pratt) a Navy veteran, is researching the intelligence of the park’s four Velociraptors. However InGen Security chief Vic Hoskins has a sinister agenda regarding the velociraptors. Masrani secretly asks the scientists under Doctor Henry Wu (B.D.WONG), to up the Wow! Factor by creating a genetically modified Dinosaur, however the animal dubbed “Indominus Rex”, turns out to be far more intelligent, adaptable and dangerous than anyone previously thought and it manages to escape form its enclosure clobbering everyone in it’s path and leaving carnage in it’s wake. Masrani tries to hush it up to avoid causing panic and sends a specialist unit to recapture Indominus Rex, however they are also killed by Indominus Rex. Owen suggests killing it, Masrani refuses, meanwhile Claire orders the evacuation of the island.

Unaware of the danger Zach and Gray continue exploring the park in a gyrosphere ride, but enter a restricted area where they are attacked by The Indominus Rex before finding the ruins of the original Jurassic Park visitor center where They repair an old jeep and escape to the main resort. Claire and Owen are not far behind, however they also encounter the Indominus. Meanwhile Masrani and two troopers track the Indominus by helicopter, which escapes into the park’s aviary releasing a flock of flying Pteranodon and Dimorphodon which attack the crowd, killing Masrami, Zara and the troopers. Gray and Zach eventually find Owen and Claire at the resort. Hoskins suggests that the Raptors be used to track Indominus Rex. unfortunately this does not go to plan and more carnage ensues.

Paleontologists will point out that, according to fossil records, that there are a number of inaccuracies: neither velociraptors or Mosasaurs were actually as big as portrayed in the film. velociraptors were Turkey sized, which is still frightening enough if you being chased by a pack of them, and Mosasaurs were about forty feet long (13 Metres approx) which again is still terrifying. Dimorphodon had relatively short wings and could probably only fly short distances and may have only eaten insects like guinea fowl or woodpeckers do today.

Posted in books, films & DVD


I’ve recently watched the charming Oscar winning historical adventure Hugo again. Directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan, and based on the Carnegie prize-winning novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick (whose Great Uncle David “O” Selznick was involved in many great Hitchcock thrillers). It is set in 1931 and concerns a young boy called Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) whose father (Jude Law) works at the Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris making sure the clocks in the station all tell the correct time. His father is also working on an clockwork Automaton which he found amongst a pile of junk and was trying to repair.

Sadly though His father dies in unfortunate circumstances before he can complete it and Hugo finds himself dragged to the Gare Montparnasse by his wicked uncle Monsieur Claude (Ray Wintone) to look after all the clocks in the station. Here Hugo meets all sorts of wierd and wonderful characters, including Emily Mortimer as a florist, Christopher Lee as a friendly bookseller named Monsieur Labisse, Richard Griffiths as Monsieur Frick and Frances de la Tour as a Coffee Shop Owner.

Unfortunately Hugo’s uncle is found deceased after drowning, and Hugo finds himself living within the walls of the station leading a rather precarious Hand-to-mouth existence, often having to resort to stealing food in order to survive. This often brings him into conflict with the comically inept and accident prone Station Master (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his dog Maximillian, who regard Hugo as a trouble-maker and are determined to catch him and send him to the orphanage.

When not winding clocks Hugo decides to finish the Clockwork Automaton which his father was trying to repair, however it is missing many parts including a Heart-shaped Key. So he decides to steal clockwork parts in order to repair it, however this brings him into conflict with the stations Toy Shop owner, a bad-tempered stall holder named Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley), though Hugo manages to make friends with Georges’ orphaned niece Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz – Kick Ass/Let Me In) and the two of them have many adventures , she introduces him to novels and he introduces her to film. Then They also meet a film expert named René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg) at the the Film Academy Library, who was inspired by Méliès films as a boy.

Gradually Hugo learns more about Papa Georges and Mama Jeanne and discovers that Georges Méliès was in fact once a phenomenally popular prolific and innovative film maker who had made many science fiction and fantasy films but sadly lost it all. So Hugo, Isabelle and Rene decide to locate all of Georges Méliès lost films and making sure he finally gets the recognition he deserves.

Posted in cars, sport

Alain Prost

French racing driver Alain Prost, OBE, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, who was born 24th February 1955 in Lorette, Loire. He is A highly successful four-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion, Having won the World Championship in 1985; 1986; 1989 & 1993 Prost has won more titles than any driver except for Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships), and Michael Schumacher (seven championships). From 1987 until 2001 Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories. Schumacher surpassed Prost’s total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category.

Prost discovered karting at the age of 14 during a family holiday. He progressed through motor sport’s junior ranks, winning the French and European Formula Three championships, before joining the McLaren Formula One team in 1980 at the age of 25. He finished in the points on his Formula One début in Argentina and took his first race victory at his home Grand Prix in France a year later, while he was driving for the factory Renault team.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Prost formed a fierce rivalry with mainly Ayrton Senna, but also Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. In 1986, at the last race of the season, he managed to pip Mansell and Piquet of Williams to the title after Mansell retired late on in the race, and Piquet was pulled in for a late precautionary pit stop. Senna joined Prost at McLaren in 1988 and the two had a series of controversial clashes, including a collision at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix that gave Prost his third Drivers’ Championship. A year later at the same venue they collided again, but this time Prost, driving for Ferrari, lost out. Before the end of a winless 1991 season Prost was fired by Ferrari for his public criticism of the team. After a sabbatical in 1992, Prost joined the Williams team, prompting reigning drivers’ champion Mansell to leave for CART. With a competitive car, Prost won the 1993 championship and retired from driving at the end of the year.

In 1997, Prost took over the French Ligier team, running it as Prost Grand Prix until it went bankrupt in 2002. He currently competes in the Andros Trophy, which is an ice racing championship. Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modeling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He was nicknamed “The Professor” for his intellectual approach to competition. Skilled at setting up his car for race conditions, Prost would often conserve his brakes and tyres early on in a race, leaving them fresher for a challenge at the end.

Posted in books, Fantasy, films & DVD

Wilhelm Grimm

Best Known for writing Grimm’s Fairy Tales, German philologist and folklorist Wilhelm Grimm was born 24th February 1786. He was the younger brother of Jakob. Grimm’s Fairy Tales (German: Grimms Märchen) was first published in 1812 and The first volume contained 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1814. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totalling 170 tales. The third edition appeared in 1837; fourth edition, 1840; fifth edition, 1843; sixth edition, 1850; seventh edition, 1857. Stories were added, and also subtracted, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 211 tales. All editions were extensively illustrated, first by Philipp Grot Johann and, after his death in 1892, by Robert Leinweber. The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called “Children’s Tales”, they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter. Many changes through the editions – such as turning the wicked mother of the first edition in Snow White and Hansel and Gretel (shown in original Grimm stories as Hansel and Grethel) to a stepmother, were probably made with an eye to such suitability. They removed sexual references—such as Rapunzel’s innocently asking why her dress was getting tight around her belly, and thus naïvely revealing her pregnancy and the prince’s visits to her stepmother—but, in many respects, violence, particularly when punishing villains, was increased.

The influence of these books was widespread. W. H. Auden praised the collection, during World War II, as one of the founding works of Western culture. The tales themselves have been put to many uses. The Nazis praised them as folkish tales showing children with sound racial instincts seeking racially pure marriage partners, and so strongly that the Allied forces warned against them; for instance, Cinderella with the heroine as racially pure, the stepmother as an alien, and the prince with an unspoiled instinct being able to distinguish. Writers who have written about the Holocaust have combined the tales with their memoirs, as Jane Yolen in her Briar Rose.The work of the Brothers Grimm influenced other collectors, both inspiring them to collect tales and leading them to similarly believe, in a spirit of romantic nationalism, that the fairy tales of a country were particularly representative of it, to the neglect of cross-cultural influence.

Grimms tales were partly influenced by the Russian Alexander Afanasyev, the Norwegians Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, the English Joseph Jacobs, and Jeremiah Curtin, an American who collected Irish tales.There was not always a pleased reaction to their collection. Joseph Jacobs was in part inspired by his complaint that English children did not read English fairy tales; in his own words, “What Perrault began, the Grimms completed”. Three individual works of Wilhelm Grimm include Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen und Märchen (‘Old Danish Heroic Lays, Ballads, and Folktales’) in 1811, Über deutsche Runen (‘On German Runes’) in 1821, and Die deutsche Heldensage (‘The German Heroic Legend’) in 1829. Sadly Wilhelm Grimm, passed away on 16th December 1859. However Google celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales on December 20th 2012 with an interactive Google Doodle.

Among the best known of Grimm’s Fairy Tales are: Snow White, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, The Riddle, Mother Hulda, The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich, Cat and Mouse in Partnership, Mary’s Child, The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, Trusty John or Faithful John,The Good Bargain,The Wonderful Musician or The Strange Musician,The Twelve Brothers, The Pack of Ragamuffins, The Three Little Men in the Wood, The Three Snake-Leaves, The Fisherman and His Wife, The Seven Ravens, Clever Elsie, The White Snake, The Valiant Little Tailor, The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage, Town Musicians of Bremen, The Singing Bone, The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs,The Louse and the Flea,Thumbling (Tom Thumb), Thumbling’s Travels and The Elves and the Shoemaker. Many of these stories have also been turned into films too.