Sunday, June 14, 2015

On My Shelf: New Books and Films….Day 164 of Bond 365

Happy Saturday evening everyone! I’m making a departure this evening, which I hope you don’t mind. Tonight, I’m going to chat a little bit of a few of my recent acquisitions to my spyfi and superspies collection.


Although I seldom shop at the discount stores, every once in while the opportunity presents itself and I find myself in either one of those stores where everything is not over a dollar or the discount stores that carried discontinued items and test products that did not find a consumer audience. Well, today I was in a discount store, which had a display of DVDs and Blu-Ray movies. I found a few copies of Licence to Kill (1989, sorry Mr. Dalton!) and several other titles. Since I have been researching space horror and alien films, I was quite excited to find a 2-disc release of District 9 (2009) and Jason X (2002). I have to do a shout out to Kane Hodder who I met at the first Crypticon in SeaTac, Washington some years ago. For a guy who has played Jason a number of times, he is truly a kind man.

I did find another spy gem – well, maybe just those of us who research will – The Man Called Flintstone and is touted as the original 1966 theatrical release. We’ve got Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty in their first full length film with the following tagline you have just got to love: “If he can’t stop the notorious green goose, everyone could end up a dead duck!” And, here is the blurb on the back of the DVD:

Meet Fred Flintstone, superspy. He’s the kind of guy who’d go down in history, except this is the Stone Age and history hasn’t been invented yet. What, you don’t know him? You will when you watch the feature-length cartoon spy spoof The Man Called Flinstone.

Our man from Bedrock takes on the mission of an injured super agent who looks exactly like Fred. His task: find the arch-baddie Green Goose and stop his world domination plan. So, pretending to be on a modern Stone-Age family vacation with Wilma, Barney and Betty, Fred wings overseas to Eurock for some wild and woolly-mammoth intrigue. This is one spy caper that won’t be finished ‘til it’s yabba-dabba-done!

And there are gadgets!! How about the Slingshot-Shoe (makes me think of Get Smart), a Helicopter Hat, and a Beak-a-phone – well, it is the Stone Age after all! I think what surprises me, and I know it shouldn’t, is the fact that the influence spy-dom, James Bond, and the Eurospy films made their way to Fred Flintstone and Bedrock! I’ll give a full report once I have watched it!

The other film I just picked up today is Kingsman (2015). I didn’t get a chance to see it in the cinema earlier this year, so I have been (sort of) patiently waiting for this to arrive in stores. And, yep, I’ve already watched it. Part of my interest in the film stems from having read Mark Millar’s comic book series titled The Secret Service. I thought it was a fun film that pulled together a solid selection of actors to fill the various characters. In particular, I would like to point out Colin Firth as Harry, Taron Egerton as Eggsy, and Mark Strong as Merlin. And, I loved seeing Mark Hamill back on the screen! However, while there are some similarities between the source material and the film, I think I lean more towards the comics. I might change my mind when I provide a comparison between the two. For the moment though, if you haven’t read the series, you can read my review and analysis: Part I and Part II.


I have to say that children’s books are becoming more sophisticated and knowledge of world and popular culture events expected at younger ages. I guess that if a child doesn’t understand something they read, they can go Google it quickly and then continue reading.

I came across Stuart Gibb’s books at the local retail bookstore and picked up the first book, Spy School, which I reviewed recently, found through this link here. I went and picked up the second and third books in the series, Spy Camp and Evil Spy School. Everyone that was introduced in the first book did make at least brief appearances in the second book and it is my favorite of the three stories. I could relate to going to summer camp in some forested area, expected to engage in participatory activities, albeit not strenuous and definitely not dangerous as Ben experienced! In the third book, Ben finds himself expelled from his school and suddenly attending SYPDER’s spy school. I felt like the pacing slowed in this story because Gibbs chose to limit the number of students tucked in the evil spy school, and I think that hurt the momentum. In addition, it cut Ben and us the readers off from the characters we had to know and like. Once Ben was reunited with the Hales, the story picked up to a brisk pace that didn’t slow until the very last page. Expect a book four since Gibbs did leave some loose strings to pick up at a later time.

What I like about Gibb’s books is that he understands the spy tropes, deconstructs them and pokes fun at them, with the intent to ground his young spys-in-the-making into a more real world reality. I was disappointed however in his treatment of Alexander Hale, who is based on James Bond. Gibbs makes him into a fraudulent spy with accomplishments that were not deserving, either through his twisting of facts or through his perceived persona of a capable spy. Instead, Gibbs peels away that shell to reveal a person who has been a disappointment to a family with a history of spies, especially his father and daughter. The way they speak and treat Alexander is uncomfortable and embarrassing to witness during the second book. I think I wish Gibbs would have handled that aspect of Alexander with gentler hand than he did.

The other book I picked up is Live to See Tomorrow written by Iris Johansen. I picked it up on the discount rack at the same bookstore when I was I looking for Sir Roger Moore’s Bond on Bond. Instead of finding Moore’s book, I found this one. Set in Far East and San Francisco’s Chinatown, Johansen intertwines Eastern mysticism, spy (CIA agent) and romance into her tale. I have enjoyed the mysticism and the bit of romantic tension between the leading lady – a kick ass spy – and a mysterious fellow who is the guardian of a secret society. I’m nearing the end of the story and will get a write up soon.

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