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Brand New: Jurassic World One Sheet and Stills

Jurassic World Banner

You’d have had to have been living under a rock not to have noticed that there is a new Jurassic Park sequel on the way. Starring Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World promises to be louder, more terrifying and more realistic than its predecessors.

Jurassic World takes place twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993). The infamous Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as was originally envisioned by John Hammond. But with visitor rates declining and a corporate mandate to fulfil, park bosses introduce a new attraction to drive up visitor numbers. What could possibly go wrong?

Jurassic World will open in cinemas in the UK on 11 June 2015. Alongside Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World stars Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong and Judy Greer. Steven Spielberg returns as Executive Producer and Colin Trevorrow directs.

We can look forward to a host of teasers, one-sheets and stills over the next months including two stunning ones that have been released in the past 24 hours.

The Mosasaurus One-Sheet

Jurassic World Mosasaurus

Behold! The brand new Jurassic World attraction, The Mosasaurus. Somehow the image of a massive shark-eating jurassic beast wasn't that terrifying until I saw the tiny little child in the corner. With the oversaturation of violence and gore on our big screens, I have a feeling that Jurassic World is going to take us back to our most terrifying roots.

The Claire and D-Rex One-Sheet

CLAIRE & D-REX’ One-Sheet

I love this image of Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the D-Rex. Everything from the matching neutral tones in her outfit, to her perfect poise make this a most terrifying and realistic scene.

Gallery

Chris Pratt is Owen Grady

Guardians of the Galaxy superstar Chris Pratt is Owen Grady.

Bryce Dallas Howard is Claire Dearing and Chris Pratt is Owen Grady in Jurassic World

Bryce Dallas Howard is Claire Dearing. Bryce is best known for her roles in M. Night Shyamalan's The Village and Lady in the Water.

Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson star as Zack and Gray in Jurassic World

Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson star as Zack and Gray. Ty Simpkins is best known for his role as Dalton Lambert in the horror film Insidious. Hopefully he won’t be the scariest thing in the film this time.

Chris Pratt is Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard is Claire Dearing in Jurassic World

Scenes like this just give me déjà vu. I mean, come on, didn’t they see the original Jurassic Park?

I’m really looking forward to this one – how about you?

iPhone App Review: The Trace Murder Mystery Game

Relentless Software - The Trace

The Trace is the iOS game that is taking the gaming world by storm and for good reason. It was picked as Editor's Choice just days after it was released on the App Store and is getting coverage on radio stations and print media alike.

Created by BAFTA-award winning studio, Relentless Software and written by David Varela (Sherlock, The Network), The Trace is a murder mystery game that will keep amateur sleuths playing right into the night in their efforts to solve just one more clue.

Plot

In The Trace, the player takes the role of Baltimore Police Department Detective Sam Pearce, called out to a nearby car dealership to investigate a suspected suicide. By accumulating clues, the player is able to piece together what actually happened in the dealership, leaving them to move on to the second and final scenes in the game.

Relentless Studios - The Trace - solve clues

Nothing is as it seems and the player must sift through red herrings and attempts by the killer to cover up the crimes in order to make sense of the events that have unfolded. The player is assisted along the way by forensic tools and an assistant back at the precinct but it is the player’s own deductive skills and the ability to weave together clues that will bring success in the game.

Relentless Studios - The Trace - scan for forensic evidence

Look

The Trace looks great. Lead designer Karl Fitzhugh and lead artist Darren Farmer have created an authentic underworld full of filth and grime and you can almost touch the sticky surfaces and smell the pungent odours. Everything from ceilings to floor tiles to the stitching in the victim’s wallet has been painstakingly captured to give the player an immersive experience.

Relentless Studios - The Trace - reconstruct events

Gameplay

The Trace is a slick, well-designed game and for the most part the game is highly responsive to the gestures that the player is making on screen. Some gestures were slightly difficult to perform though, especially on the first level, which results in the first level being more difficult overall than the subsequent levels.

Relentless Studios - The Trace - explore realistic 3D murder scenes

For instance, it would be really handy to take a look at the side of that locker but it was one of the most difficult gestures of the game to perform. I also found it extremely difficult to open the safe (HINT: if you turn the dial really slowly, first to the right and then the left, the lights will light up when you hit the numbers 70, 30, 90 and 10).

Fun / Level of Difficulty

The Trace is a lot of fun. Once I got the hang of it, I realised that the clues had to be answered in a certain order and I began to figure out that none of the clues and items that I found were really superfluous. As I’ve mentioned, the first level was the most difficult one in terms of gameplay and getting the hang of the game but that didn’t make the second and final levels any less fun.

If I had to choose, I’d say the second level was my favourite mostly because the clues were so easy to find but it was putting them all together that proved most challenging.

The quality of The Trace experience is in the clue interface which enables the player to pick up, store and posit hypotheses that answer the questions that arise.

Relentless Studios - The Trace - track deductions

Sound

The music and sound was created by Sanj Sen of Ropeysound. It really does sound like you’re in an episode of BBC Sherlock or Doctor Who, with the eerie violins and carefully placed piano inserts. It all adds to the tension of the game but when you’re stuck in a rut and can’t solve the next clue, the music does become repetitive after a while and I had to switch it off!

Value for Money

The Trace is available on the UK app store for £3.99 (link). This does seem like a lot of money to play for a game with three levels. I admit that I played late into the night but I still finished the game in one day. If you consider the superior quality and design of the game and the amount of money you’d spend in an arcade, then £3.99 is reasonable but compared to the price of other games in the app store, it does seem a bit steep. I enquired whether there were any plans for extra levels or gameplay that would be added to the game and it was confirmed that there are currently no plans for additional content.

Verdict

I give I really enjoyed The Trace and my only real complaint is that I enjoyed it so much that I wish there were more levels to solve. This obviously ties in to value for money but I won’t deduct points for that. With a slight deduction for some tricky gestures in the first level, I’d give The Trace an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans of BBC Sherlock and Broadchurch.

4 Stars

HBO Silicon Valley: DVD Review and Giveaway

HBO Silicon Valley - season 1 giveaway and review

Imagine a world run by the most brilliant minds, where genius is the order of the day and innovation the local currency. Now imagine that those brilliant minds had no social skills, couldn’t present their way out of an elevator and had absolutely no business sense whatsoever.

This is the world of Silicon Valley, the setting for the hit HBO series created by Mike Judge (Office Space, Idiocracy) and based at least partially on his own experiences in Silicon Valley in the 1980s.

Thomas Middleditch is Richard in HBO Silicon Valley

HBO’s Silicon Valley is the story of the awkward yet brilliant computer programmer Richard (Thomas Middleditch, The Wolf of Wall Street) who lives in a ‘hacker hostel’ and just happens to create a compression algorithm that will change the face of tech forever. Soon caught in the crosshairs of the bidding war between billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch, The Master) and innovation master Gavin Belson, Richard must make the impossible decision between selling out or going the long game with his product Pied Piper.

“It's weird. They always travel in groups of five. These programmers, there's always a tall skinny white guy, a short skinny Asian guy, fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair and then an East Indian guy. It's like they trade guys until they all have the right group” – Gavin Belson, Silicon Valley, “Minimum Viable Product

There is much hilarity along the way as Richard and his hacker friends hit the parties and big life in the Valley. Life in the ‘hacker hostel’ is not without its trials and tribulations though. Richard soon learns that he has no idea of how to pitch his product and get his ideas across. He has to navigate the slippery path between success and friendship and soon learns that alcohol and business do not mix.

With the exception of some, the cast of Silicon Valley was largely unknown before the series; they were the type of actors that you might recognise but could not place. In the opening scenes of the first episode, I was unsure whether I would find sympathy with Richard and the rest of his friends in this unknown territory of tech and coding. My fears were absolutely unfounded – Silicon Valley draws you in and I soon found myself binge-watching the entire first season.

Zach Woods is Jared in HBO Silicon Valley

The best character on Silicon Valley is without a doubt Jared (Zach Woods, The Office). Former executive and right-hand man to Gavin Belson, Jared defects to Pied Piper and works as business developer for Richard. He is meant to be the least cool, most awkward and most disposable member of the team but he is the backbone of the company. Zach Woods is brilliant in this role and his performance as the sleep-deprived, caffeine overdosed, rather unhinged Jared in the final episode “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency” was inspired.

“How much would it be worth to you if I told you I had a GPS app called Pied Piper tracking the location of your child? I can follow your child anywhere and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Most missing children are never found. Interested, very interested, or very interested?” – Jared, Silicon Valley, “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency”

In a world dominated by young, single, awkward men, it was great to see that the only characters with any real power were the women. While the hackers chase their own tails putting out fires and Peter Gregory and Gavin Belson trip over their own feet trying to outdo each other, there is one character who remains cool. Amanda Crew stars as Monica, Peter Gregory’s head of operations and the one who convinces Peter to invest in Pied Piper.

Amanda Crew is Monica in HBO Silicon Valley

There was nothing to dislike about Silicon Valley. Sure, Erlich (T.J. Miller) is not as cool as he thinks he is and neither are Gavin Belson or Peter Gregory but that is no criticism.

I give Silicon Valley a superb five out of five stars and am thrilled that it has been renewed for a second season and will return to HBO on 12 April 2015.

5 Stars

HBO Silicon Valley: Season 1 will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Demand on 23 March 2015 in the UK and 31 March 2015 in the US. You can buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com or you can enter below to win one of two copies of the complete first season on DVD.

Competition Rules

This competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom only.
Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
There are nine different ways to enter and completing each task will give you up to 32 entries into the competition.
Remember to tweet about the giveaway each day to gain an extra entry
Remember to comment on another Addicted to Media post each day to gain an extra 5 entries to the competition
This competition runs from 22 March to 12 April 2015
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Book review: The Originals: The Rise by Julie Plec

Joseph Morgan - The Originals The Rise book cover

There is no doubt about it, the Originals are the best thing to come out of the hit CW series The Vampire Diaries and fans were thrilled when they got their own show. Gorgeous, sardonic and deadly, viewers can't seem to get enough of the Original three vampires Niklaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson.

The problem is that there is so much to the Originals story and fans want to know about their time in New Orleans in the early 18th century just as much as their lives in the present day.

Elijah and Klaus in New Orleans

To this end, a brand new trilogy of books is being published by Hodder Children's Books in association with Alloy Entertainment.  The Originals: The Rise is the first novel in the Originals trilogy and is written by Julie Plec, creator and executive producer of the CW series.

We meet the Original vampires nine years after their arrival in New Orleans after fleeing Europe to escape their father's murderous advances. The Mikaelson siblings have been living in the shadows, forbidden from owning property and bound by a promise to the witches of the fledgling city that they will not create any new vampires.

Their life of relative obscurity comes to an abrupt end when Klaus meets Vivianne Lescheres, rare child of a witch and werewolf and fiancée to the son of the most powerful werewolf in town. While Klaus pursues an impossible prize, Elijah slips under the radar to secure a home for the family and Rebekah's attempt to raise an army land her the welcome attentions of French Captain Eric Moquet.

Klaus and Elijah in New Orleans

One thing you can count on with the Original Vampires is that nothing ever goes as planned for the Mikaelson siblings. Just as they begin to rise up in New Orleans, everything goes horrible awry.

The Originals: The Rise is a lot of fun to read and as a fan of the show, it was great to be able to spend hours absorbed in the world of the Originals. The book provides a lot of insight into Rebekah and Klaus's motives and what made them the vampires they are in present day.

Elijah is portrayed as being a lot more straightforward in his motives and intentions which is a pity because we get far less insight into this brooding and dangerous vampire. I would have liked to see more of that side of him coming through.

The Originals The Rise book coverNevertheless, that is his character and apart from that, my only real complaint is that we didn't see any of Kol in the book. Then again, my one enduring complaint throughout the whole of the The Vampire Diaries and The Originals series has been that Kol was killed off and hasn't been somehow resurrected.

I give The Originals: The Rise an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals .

4 Stars

I will certainly be reading the next two books in the trilogy The Originals: The Loss (due out this month) and The Originals: The Resurrection (due out in May).

You can buy The Originals: The Rise at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.


An advance, electronic copy of this book was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Blu-ray Review: The Imitation Game (2014)

Alan Turing called it The Imitation Game, his theory in computer science and artificial intelligence that aimed to answer the question, “can machines think?” Sixty years later, audiences around the world would answer with a resounding ‘no’ when it came to light that the machine, the very society which Turner helped save with his ground-breaking work, turned on him and destroyed him.

Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Allen Leech in the Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is the acclaimed story of cryptanalyst Alan Turing and his team of code-breakers who raced against time to beat the German’s Enigma Code and gave the Allies a winning advantage in World War II. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke and Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander, The Imitation Game has been nominated for several awards in the 2014 / 2015 awards season and won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in his role as Alan Turing and I was surprised he did not receive the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Both Cumberbatch and Alex Lawther (who played Turing as a young boy) went a long way to capture Turing’s unique manner and idiosyncratic manner of speech, going so far as to wear dentures made from a cast of Turing’s own teeth. I can only say that the Oscar snub had more to do with Eddie Redmayne’s masterful performance than any failure on Cumberbatch’s part.

The Imitation Game is a thrilling film, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats as Turner and his team work through many nights in their bid to decipher the Enigma Code, only to fail again and again. The pace is repeatedly broken and the audience kept on tenterhooks as we cut to scenes of Turing in high school and then later in life as he is interrogated by police. The film reaches a climax as the code-breakers celebrate success at last only to be contrasted with the lowest moments in Turing’s life.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a champion of many causes. Audiences will tear out their hair at the injustice and homophobia that lead to the destruction and untimely passing of a genius, beat their chests at the sexism that challenged Joan Clarke at every turn and cheer at the arrogance of the Nazis that lead to their ultimate downfall. Despite the power of friendship and acceptance that emerges in the film, this is not an inspiring story and rather leaves the audience with a sick feeling of disappointment and betrayal, rather like Turing himself might have felt.

benedict Cumberbatch and Charles Dance in The Imitation Game

While there is so much that was excellent about The Imitation Game, there were also several historical inaccuracies and while many would cry artistic license, I feel the film could have been just as good without some of these embellishments.

Perhaps most obvious is that Alastair Denniston (played by Charles Dance) was not the villain he was portrayed to be in the film. The writers also seemed to be unusually obsessed with Soviet spies given that this was a film about World War II. In the words of The Guardian’s Alex von Tunzelmann, the idea that Turner committed treason and covered up the identity of a Soviet spy was ‘wholly imaginary and deeply offensive’.

Keira Knightley and benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a highly enjoyable, fast-paced film with beautiful costumes, design and direction. I feel that the film was ultimately let down a little by unnecessary historical inaccuracies in the screenplay but nevertheless give it four stars out of five for bringing this important story to film in an entertaining and well-acted manner.

4 Stars

The Imitation Game will be released today on Blu-ray and DVD. Both the Blu-ray and DVD include the special features "Making The Imitation Game", "Alan Turing: Man & Enigma" and "Heroes Of Bletchley". You can buy The Imitation Game at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Film Review: Hinterland (2015)

Harry MacQueen and Lori Campbell star in Hinterland

Filmed in 13 days in 2013 in London and Cornwall, with an estimated cost of £8,000 and set over one weekend in February, Hinterland is the directorial debut from Harry Macqueen.  It stars Macqueen as Harvey and musician Lori Campbell as his childhood friend Lola. When Lola is forced to return to London after several years abroad, Harvey arranges to take her on a road trip to the seaside cottage where they spent many a summer growing up. Out of season and with a million years since their last visit, Harvey and Lola embark on a journey of self-discovery where they contemplate everything that has changed and everything that still connects them.

It is easy to see why Hinterland caught the eyes of the judges at the Raindance Film Festival where the film was nominated for Best UK feature in 2014. It is a visually stunning film featuring bleak coastal seascapes and inclement February weather contrasted with cosy scenes of mutual affection in pubs, around a campfire and in the guest house. The metaphor is clear, the warmth of Harvey and Lola’s relationship will transcend the bleak climate in which they find themselves.

Sweeping coastal cinematography in Hinterland

The film begins with political commentary about the predicament of young graduates and the burden of student debt. We glimpse a provocative statement on Harvey’s bedroom wall stating that “we are the children of Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher”. We are promised a scathing attack on the current socio-political climate but ultimately, Hinterland doesn’t quite deliver that.

The difficulty with Hinterland is that is it realistic to a fault. The truth is that everyone goes through a crisis in their mid-twenties where they don’t know what they are doing and wait in a limbo between studying at university and not quite pursuing the career of their dreams. The difference is that most people don’t warrant having a film being made about them and in this instance, it is possible that neither did Harvey and Lola.

It’s hard to take two privileged middle class twenty-somethings seriously when they’re road tripping across England in a Volvo and they have the option of returning home when things don’t quite work out as planned.

Harry MacQueen and Lori Campbell in Hinterland

Nevertheless, Harry Macqueen and Lori Campbell give a tender portrayal of two idealistic if not naive young adults who are on the verge of beginning their adult lives. Under Harry Macqueen’s direction, cinematographer Ben Hecking captured the mood of the film perfectly and I predict that this will not be the last we see of both of these talented young filmmakers. Likewise, Lori Campbell is clearly talented as a singer-songwriter but I do hope that we will see more of her on film. A highlight of the film was her performance of her track “September”.

Hinterland poster

I would recommend Hinterland to lovers of British independent film and give the film three out of five stars.

3 Stars

Hinterland will be released in UK cinemas and On Demand from 27th February 2015. The film will open at Curzon Cinemas and will be simultaneously available on Curzon Home Cinema from 27th February through Soda Pictures, before touring UK cinemas.

Book Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron

Normal book review - Graeme Cameron

Normal, unremarkable, invisible. There is a killer on the loose in England but you won't see him coming because you won't even notice he is there at all. That is until he falls in love with a checkout girl and begins making fatal errors, of course.

Normal is the debut novel by Graeme Cameron and is due for release on the Mira Books imprint on 31 March 2015. It is a small town England version of Dexter or Silence of the Lambs, told in the first person narrative of a nameless killer.

This is where the book falls into difficulty. Without the cold, objective glare of a profiler, we're given very little insight into the killer's motives beyond what he tells us and he isn’t the most forthright of narrators.

What actually happens is that the reader is subjected to the misogynistic inner dialogue of a killer as he lures unsuspecting women into his van and murders them immediately,  or abducts them, holds them captive and terrorises them before he releases them into the woods only to hunt them down and kill them.

There is no pattern, nothing links his victims, we’re told little about his motivations beyond that his father wasn’t particularly nice and his mother abandoned him as a child.  It could be that this lack of structure to the serial killers actions belies a lack of research on the part of the author but it might be simply an opinion that not all sociopaths follow a set pattern.

What did seem unlikely to me were the actions of the police and the manner in which they accumulated evidence about the murders and disappearances. Firstly, there are CCTV cameras along just about every stretch of canal in England as was evidenced in the disappearance of Alice Gross and Chris Brahney. It is possible but unlikely that the entire events taking place in the book alongside the canal would not have been captured, at least in part, on CCTV.

Normal book cover - Graeme CameronThe police become hellbent on pinning the crimes on the killer in Normal but at no point whatsoever do they present a shred of evidence beyond our narrator owning a white van combined with a healthy dose of the great old police stereotype: gut feeling. Again, that might work in a novel set in any other country but roads in England are teeming with CCTV and average speed cameras and it is highly likely that the police would have had a significant amount of evidence at their disposal including the exact number plates of the van they were looking for.

The final nail in the coffin for me was how unlikely the characters’ actions were in Normal. The narrator paints his hostage Erica as morally bereft and quite insane by the end of the book but no amount of Stockholm syndrome would even come close to explaining her actions. Likewise, the detective Fairy would never have colluded with him, in a manner real or apparent. He was losing out to tokenism, he would have dug his heals in and solved the damn case. And finally, Green would never have switched back and forth between mothering him and essentially letting him get away with murder.

A last word on character development. We’re lead to believe that all of this mayhem ensues when the killer falls in love with a checkout girl but ultimately, she falls in love with him. Nothing about his actions suggests anything further than distraction and he certainly doesn’t grow as much the author would like you to believe.

It's always disturbing when a book has a string of positive reviews to find that you are the sole dissenting voice. On the one hand, I commend the author for writing such a vile, hateful character but on the other, I'll probably stick to Twitter next time I want to browse the innermost thoughts of a sociopathic misogynist.

It occurs to me that Normal is probably a spoof and I probably just didn’t get it but from the cover commendation by Lee Child, all appearances were that this was a serious attempt at crime fiction. Besides, there are far better researched, more intelligent ways to write comedy.

I did laugh out loud on more than one occasion while reading the book and for this reason I give Normal a disappointing two out of five stars.

2 Stars.

I wouldn't completely avoid it but I wouldn't recommend it either.

if you must, Normal is available to purchase at Amazon.co.uk. Honestly, I'd rather recommend you read Darkly Dreaming Dexter instead. At least Dexter was likeable.


An advance, electronic copy of this book was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Win: HBO's Looking - the Complete First Season on DVD

Looking giveaway

I promised you a year full of competitions in 2015 and the first giveaway begins now! Looking is the hit HBO series featuring Jonathan Groff and Britain's own Russell Tovey. Released on Blu-ray and DVD this week, I gave Looking a well deserved five star review and the good news is that I have three copies of the complete first season of Looking to give away.

To win, simply enter using the widget below.

Murray Bartlett, Jonathan Groff and Frankie J. Alvarez in Looking

 

Competition Rules

This competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom only.
Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

There are seven different ways to enter and completing each task will give you up to 25 entries into the competition.
Remember to tweet about the giveaway each day to gain an extra entry
This competition runs from 17 January to 17 February 2015

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blu-ray Review: HBO - Looking Season One

Looking is the new critically acclaimed HBO series from Michael Lannan (creator of Nurse Jackie) and starring Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett and Russell Tovey. It aired in January 2014 to rave reviews and the complete first season is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray just in time for the airing of the second season.

Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett and Jonathan Groff in Looking

Set in the iconic city of San Francisco, Looking provides an unfiltered look into the lives of three friends and their romantic escapades as they navigate the city’s gay scene and come to terms with successful ex-boyfriends, commitment, attraction and vulnerability.

The three friends are Patrick (Jonathan Groff, Glee), Dom (Murray Bartlett, White Collar) and Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez, Smash). The charm of this series lies in its support cast and viewers will love appearances from Russell Tovey (Being Human), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) and O.T. Fagbenle (Material Girl).

Jonathan Groff and Raul Castillo in Looking

Patrick is a 29-year-old video game designer who is reeling from the upcoming nuptials of his ex-boyfriend. He’s not certain if it is a hook up or relationship that he is looking for but over the course of the season, we see him grow from a somewhat naive character to one who ultimately stands up for himself. That doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of catastrophic mistakes though and Patrick’s choices in the last episode will mean a lot of trouble for next season.

His main love interest is Richie (played by Raúl Castillo) and their difficult, volatile relationship takes up a good chunk of the storyline in season one. Jonathan Groff is fantastic in his role as Patrick and has the most expressive, seductive face. I’m not surprised Richie fell for him!

Murray Bartlett, Jonathan Groff and Frankie J. Alvarez in Looking

Dom (pictured above on the left) is my favourite character. We meet him just before his 40th birthday and it is safe to say he feels old. Dom is what you’d call a career waiter who once had big dreams of owning his own restaurant. Early on in the season we see him come face-to-face with his ex-boyfriend, a former meth junkie who happily accepted the gift of Dom’s life savings before disappearing out of his life. Soon Dom meets businessman Lynn (played by the ever lovely Scott Bakula) who teaches him that he is not as old as he feels and still has a lot to learn.

Frankie J. Alvarez in Looking

Agustín was one character I didn’t really get. He was selfish and chaotic and it is safe to say I sided with his partner Frank (O.T. Fagbenle) in everything that ultimately transpired in the season. Agustín is an aspiring artist who hasn’t exactly made a success of his life. Something about moving in with Frank in the first episode causes him to push his boundaries until ultimate, he pushes too far. I can’t wait to see him picking up the pieces in the next season.

One of the stars of the show is definitely Russell Tovey in his role as Patrick’s boss Kevin Matheson (although not in the way you might be expecting). Unlike his perfectly lovely, slightly vulnerable roles in Being Human and Sherlock, Kevin is a nasty, manipulative piece of work. There is going to be a lot of drama in the second season of Looking and Kevin is going to be right in the middle of all of it.

I watched this show on Blu-ray and was reminded once again of why Blu-ray is so much more worth it than regular DVD. The video quality allows beautiful vistas of the San Francisco Bay Area and city while the DTS 5.1 audio really brings the funky soundtrack to life.

Looking is funny, addictive, heartbreaking and uplifting all in one and I cannot wait until the second season. I give it an HBO Looking unequivocal five out of five stars. Definitely catch the first season and definitely look out for season 2 which starts on HBO on 11 January 2015.

5 Stars

Own the complete first season of HBO’s Looking on Blu-ray and DVD at the HBO store on Amazon.co.uk or at Amazon.com. Looking will be released on 12 January 2015 in the UK and 6 January 2015 in the US.


An advance copy of this Blu-ray was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Buy or Design: Is it worth buying an app template?

iPhone_4s_black_2560x1600

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create your own Android app? I'd always assumed it requires a ridiculous amount of genius programming skills to create an app or mobile game but apparently that's not quite true. 

Just like blog layouts can follow a general, customisable template, so too can apps and there are sites out there that create ready made app templates. You can choose the template that best suits your needs and then customise it and reskin according to your brand. Sites like Chupamobile go even one step further and run a customising service where they will design your app according to your requirements and you don't need any coding or design skills. 

The questions remains as to whether it is a good idea to buy an app off the shelf, so to speak. The life cycle of an app is quite short so you're going to want to minimise your time from development to market so that you can start making money and recover your investment. In terms of this, buying an app template and customising it yourself or paying someone to do that would be a good idea. 

Just like with any good business investment, it is always a good idea to know what you're doing and you're definitely going to need to know how to fix the app if it breaks or customise it further as your brand evolves. There are readily available online courses that will teach you the basics of app development. 

The key is to do your research and look at other apps to see what works about them. An excellent example is the Ubrain app which blows its competition out the water. 

So do you think you're ready to design your own app? Super. Just remember to plan carefully and while you're at it, consult this excellent Mashable article on 10 tips to avoid if you're designing your own mobile app. 

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