Review: The Living Daylights (1987)

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15 - The Living Daylights (1987)

“Smiert Spionum? Was a Beria operation, in Stalin’s time. It was deactivated twenty years ago.”
– Leonid Pushkin

General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) is a defecting KGB officer. Secret Agent James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is assigned to him, though he is still working out the assassination of a fellow 00 officer on a training expedition. While Bond is to pick up Koskov at a concert hall in Bratislavia, Bond sees that the female cellist is the KGB assigned sniper that is to prevent Koskov’s defection. Bond does not kill her, though it is against his orders and he gives her a fright. Bond recovers Koskov and has him sent to Britain for hiding.

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“Just taking the Aston out for a spin, Q.” – James Bond

Bond reconvenes with M (Robert Brown) and associates in Britain, where Koskov spills the beans on a KGB plan of Death to Spies (Smiert Spionam). According to Koskov, General Leonid Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) has enforced the old policy, and Bond refuses to believe the new head of KGB would start with such a drastic measure. He is issued with orders by M to assassinate Pushkin, which he grudgingly accepts. They cannot have tension run rampant between the West and the Soviet Union. Shortly after Bond leaves, Koskov is kidnapped by KGB operatives.

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“If I trusted Koskov we wouldn’t be talking. But as long as you’re alive, we’ll never know what he’s up to.” – James Bond

Bond approaches Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), the cellist and attempted assassin on Koskov. From here he garners that there was not one iota of truth in Koskov’s claims and that he defection was all fake. Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend, not a real sniper. Bond uses the guise of a friend of Koskov sent to fetch her to get her to assist him in his mission, though she naturally does not know this. Bond figures out that Koskov is actually working with Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker), an American arms dealer. Bond and Milovy head for Tangier to confront Pushkin, and it is established that Pushkin has nothing to do whatsoever with what is going on. Koskov is actually being sought by his own government for embezzling government funds. In an elaborate scheme, Bond and Pushkin work together to fake Pushkin’s death to see what Koskov’s greater plan is.

Betraying Bond due to a false claim from Koskov, Milovy spikes Bond’s drinks. He comes to, and she realizes that she has made a mistake and trusted the wrong man. They are flown to Afghanistan, and Milovy, too, is imprisoned with Bond. However, the pair escape and free another prisoner, Kamram Shah (Art Malik), who is an instrumental ally to have seeing as he is the leader of the local Majuhideen. Bond uncovers the truth behind Koskov – he is using Soviet funding to purchase opium from the Majuhideen. He will sell it and keep the profits, but use money to buy arms for the Soviets.

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“Thank you both for your help. My name is Kamran Shah. Please forgive the theatricals, it’s a hangover from my Oxford days.”

Bond needs to find a way to prevent Koskov from getting the opium out there and getting it sold. He needs to prevent this man from getting back into the good graces of the Soviets and start a massive war while raking in plenty of profit. Will Bond be able to foil the plan in time? Will a war truly break out between the sides? What will Milovy do now that she has been betrayed by the man she loved?

An 8/10 for The Living Daylights. This is what I have been waiting for! So long I have been waiting, and I was finally rewarded. Timothy Dalton is a fantastic Bond, and I was completely sold on having a grittier and raw Bond. Out with all the lame that Moore brought to the table and in with a more serious and realistic role! The story line was also much better, not the stock standard world domination thing, and the camera work was nice. I liked the dialogue and a lack of a million girls just buckling at the knees because a guy with a tux waltzes past. Dalton was a far more driven Bond, with more focus on the spy thriller side of things versus too much comedy and light-hearted puns. A lot of the cast has been changed for The Living Daylights, but it seemed to work. Lois Maxwell has been replaced, and it was rather sad to see her go, I was rather attached to her. I enjoyed Q and Bond having a more functional understanding in this one, not that whole “give me expensive equipment to wreck” thing, and Q lamenting that. Overall, one of the most enjoyable Bond films that I have seen so far.

Review: A View To A Kill (1985)

8

14 - A View To A Kill (1985)

“If you’re the best they’ve got, they’re more likely try and cover up your embarrassing incompetence.”
– Max Zorin

003 is murdered in Siberia and 007 agent James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to recover the microchip that was on his colleague. The microchip is intended to endure an electromagnetic pulse and is manufactured by Zorin Industries. Bond is sent on a mission to research a little bit more about the microchip development as well as the developer. Attending a horserace at Ascot Racecourse, he sees that Max Zorin’s (Christpoher Walken) horse wins the race though he was decidedly the underdog. The horse is agitated, and Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) is convinced that Zorin is cheating somehow.

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“Somebody will take care of you. ” – May Day

Bond meets up with a French detective and discovers that Zorin is hosting a horse sale, but is murdered during dinner. With the information, Bond and Tibbett get themselves onto the invite list for the horse sale under a disguise, and progress to snoop around. They determine that Zorin really is drugging the horses by implanting adrenaline-releasing devices into them. May Day (Grace Jones), Zorin’s lover and henchwoman, and Zorin establish that their compound has been breached and rapidly break through Bond’s disguise. May Day assassinates Tibbett and attempts to go after Bond, though she is unsuccessful.

It turns out that Zorin was financed and trained by KGB, and General Gogol (Walter Gotell) is furious that Bond was killed without permission. However, Zorin has gone rogue. He is planning to destroy Silicon Valley so that he can claim the Valley for himself and some potential investors, and they will run a monopoly over microchip manufacture. Zorin is going through great pains to execute his plan, and attempts to pay of State Geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) for her family’s oil business. Bond and Sutton come together to figure things out, and have a few show downs with Zorin himself, who is a true psychopath.

a view to a kill

“Well, actually, captain, I’m with the British Secret Service. The name is Bond, James Bond.”

They establish that Zorin has a plot involving setting off an earthquake that will cause terrible repercussions. This will guarantee that Silicon Valley will be taken over. Can Bond find a way to prevent all the explosives from going off? Will Sutton be able to help him, or will she just hinder him? Will they be able to make Zorin accountable for his actions, and if they do, will he even care?

Another 5/10. Moore had nothing moving in his performance at all, but I read elsewhere that even he did not like the film. However, I must say that I enjoyed Christopher Walken. He was a great villain and something fresh and new. His whole character was a little cooked, but I liked it, and he pulled off the role. May Day was truly one scary looking woman, and more often than not had me thinking of Satan, what with all that dodgy red and the hair put up in spikes and horns. Loved the little machine that Q made, it was quite sweet. The banter between Sir Godfrey and Bond was also entertaining, the poor guy had to take some serious flak from 007. I was truly not even shocked to see Bond on skis in this film, and even less so when he ended up on only one ski again. Crazy car jumps and all, and naturally he was hanging off of some airborne craft again, so you can understand this was your typical Roger Moore Bond. Overall, better again, but I am just glad I have reached the conclusion of this era.

Review: Dark Skies (2013)

10

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“People think of aliens as these beings invading our planet in some great cataclysm, destroying monuments, stealing our natural resources. But it’s not like that at all.”
– Edwin Pollard

The Barrett family is living under many false pretenses. Daniel (Josh Hamilton) is the father of two young boys, Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sammy (Kadan Rockett) as well as husband of his loving wife, Lacy (Keri Russell). Having been out of work for three months, the family has been cutting back on a lot. He has a trail of unsuccessful interviews in his wake, and Lacy stresses immensely in an attempt to keep everything together and working for her family. The marriage is suffering, and directly this means that the brothers are having problems, too. Jesse, the oldest, reads horror stories about the Sandman to his brother Sammy over the walkie-talkies that they have, and it scares Sammy a little.

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“This wasn’t a cooking mess. This was like a mathematician’s idea of a geometry joke.” – Daniel Barrett

Soon strange and inexplicable things start to happen around the family. Sammy explains it as the doing of the Sandman, and progresses to having nightmares. Daniel and Lacy try very hard to find reasonable explanations for the kitchen stacking funny, photographs going missing and Sammy’s odd behaviour, though none is forthcoming. The strange things become more frequent and persistent, and each time they are slightly more menacing than the previous time, and everyone begins to bear the brunt of the weight. Soon trances begins to thunder through the family, and it scares them. Lacy finally sees something in her sons room, and goes into panic. Daniel becomes superbly paranoid of her claim that someone was in their son’s room and installs video cameras.

Lacy lapses time, and it results in her being suspended from work until such time as she is ready to return. Both parents are now jobless, and Jesse is having a hard time dealing with whatever is going on. Family friends start to whisper about them, and this does nothing to appease him. Lacy does some research into the bizarre going-ons and figures that it may possibly be that their family is being visited by an alien race. Daniel naturally shoots down the theory, thinking his wife has finally lost her marbles, but is forced to reconsider when he witnesses humanoid figures beside the beds of his family. Finding a professional on the matter, they seek out Edwin Pollard’s (J.K. Simmons) advice as to how to deal with what is happening. Something is targeting their family; something is coming for a member of their family. They need to prepare. They need to fight.

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Just a hint of a glimpse

Will the Barrett family be prepared for what is considered to be the inevitable? Is there truly an unidentifiable force out there that is tracking them and grooming them for an abduction? Has the stress finally gotten to the family and driven them all mad? If they are really marked, how are they going to defend themselves, and how are they going to protect themselves against a force they have rudimentary knowledge at best of?

Dark Skies tallies a 6/10 for me. I know that is higher than most people rated it, but I found the movie to be alright. While nothing ground-breaking, they kept within the parameters that I can respect when it comes to alien movies. I never want to know too much, because then it takes the mystery and the freakiness away, in my opinion. Not knowing is what makes them threatening, and never really getting a clear look, both things which this film managed quite well. The performances from the cast were alright, and the effects were also stock standard, so not too bad. While there are flaws with the film, that is to be expected for any of them. I feel that this concept was executed alright. Again, not the best thing ever, but you can really do much worse in terms of a horror/thriller at any given moment (goodness knows the genre is overridden with junk). I really liked watching the father, Daniel, creak, break and snap. His spiral into a bit of craziness and a lot of stress and the refusal to believe was incredibly well done, so good for Josh Hamilton. There were a few creepy moments in the movie, nothing to make it terrifying though, but enough to keep you interested. I feel that the end was just a little bit off, but not overly rushed, just not rounded off as well as one would hope, but that seems to be an issue with movies nowadays.

Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Millennium I

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo officially marks the halfway point in my book challenge.

Publisher and journalist Mikael Blomkvist loses a very public libel case in court against billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Feeling deserted and angry, he is approached by Advokat Dirch Frode on behalf of another incredibly wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger, who is the retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation. Henrik employed Milton Security to run a thorough background check on Blomkvist, and he was vetted by the best of the best – he was checked out by Lisbeth Salander, an asocial, super-skinny, tough as nails girl, though he is unaware. Meeting Henrik in Hedestad, Henrik tells Blomkvist the tale of his niece that went missing in 1966, and that he is convinced she has been murdered and wants the answers to the mystery seeing as he is truly on the way out. He asks Blomkvist to write the family tale, though his true task is to uncover the truth.

Blomkvist realises that Henrik’s nice, Harriet, has been the old man’s obsession for decades, but takes the ludicrous offer that is put on the table of a few million kronor for services rendered when Henrik dangles the promise of information that will nail Wennerström. Blomkvist takes the job, though his long-time lover and partner at their magazine Erika Berger is not happy about the development. Meanwhile, Salander is getting a raw deal when her legal guardian, Holger Palmgren, ends up hospitalized, and his duties are taken over by Advokat Nils Bjurmen. The man now has control of her finances and her life, so to speak, and is vicious, cruel and nasty, and Salander misjudges the extent of his sadism. She is intent on teaching the man a lesson as well as regaining control of her own life and finances again.

Blomkvist is hard at work on the mystery of Harriet as well as the Vanger chronicle, and later when he makes a breakthrough on the ancient case that nobody expected to happen, he needs a research assistant. Naturally, Frode suggests Salander and the two of them become remarkably close, as close as anything Salander would ever allow. Harriet was researching something when she went missing, and it seems she was onto hunting down a violent psychopath that was brutally raping and murdering women. Soon, though, pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place in rapid succession, and the two race against the clock to solve a mystery that is decades old, though undertones seem to have seeped into the present, and many times after Harriet’s death.

Blomkvist learns many things about Salander, and keeps the fact that she is a brilliant computer hacker to himself. A semblance of trust seems to develop between the two, seeing as he knows more about her than Salander has ever let anyone in on. Will Blomkvist and Salander solve the mysteries surrounding the brutalized women over decades? Will they find out what truly happened to Harriet Vanger? Will Blomkvist get what he needs from Henrik to finally take Wennerström down once and for all, without burning sources or facing another court case?

GRADE 8The book was most certainly captivating, and demanded your attention at any and all possible moments. It was intense, it was interesting and it was, most importantly, exceptionally intelligent. It is very seldom that you find a mystery novel that demands to be read and insists on being sorted into a wholly new category from any other type. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo simply claims that, and so it is granted. When I was first given the books to read, I will admit that the titles put me off, and matters were not helped when I saw that they were translated from Swedish (translated books never seem to work as well as they do in their intended and original language), but this one begged for more. The prose flowed beautifully and it was incredibly well written – it was gritty, it was fast, it was raw. I can only imagine how stunning it must have been in its original tongue. Stieg Larsson is a writer to be respected, and it is heartbreaking that he is not around to present to us more in the series, but I will be eternally grateful that we got some insight as to what he could do. Amazing book, great debut novel, and high up on my “to read list” if you have not experienced these books.

Review: Octopussy (1983)

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13 - Octopussy (1983)

“Mr. Bond is indeed of a very rare breed… soon to be made extinct.”
– Kamal Khan

After finding one of their 00 agents dead, in East Berlin, MI6 automatically sends 007 agent James Bond (Roger Moore) out to investigate the Soviets and why 009 (Andy Bradford) was carrying a brilliantly reproduced Fabergé egg. Bond goes to London and commences a bidding war with an exiled Afghan prince, Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), at an auction for the egg, and swaps out the real one with the fake one they have from 009. Knowing who the seller is, Bond follows Khan to India, where they officially make one another’s acquaintance.

Khan is angered when Bond beats him for a couple hundred thousand Rupees at backgammon, and Bond is seduced by Khan’s girl, Magda (Kristina Wayborn), who steals the real egg. Khan’s bodyguard Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) finally succeeds at capturing Bond, and Bond discovers that Khan is working with Soviet General Orlov (Steven Berkoff), who wishes to expand Soviet borders into Europe.

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Sneaking around yet another Indian palace

Bond gets out again, and infiltrates another castle, this one owned by Octopussy (Maud Adams), an affluent cult leader. More secrets come to the fore, such as Orlov and Khan’s in depth plot of priceless Soviet treasures. Orlov is organizing priceless Soviets treasures to Khan, who is replacing them with replicas and selling the real ones off in the West using Octopussy’s circus as a cover. Naturally, Bond’s next move is to East Germany when he hears that Orlov and Khan plan to meet there.

Infiltrating the circus, it becomes evident that Orlov has replaced the priceless treasures with a nuclear warhead that will explode at a US Air Force base in West Germany. The explosion would mean that Europe would push for disarmament thinking the one that went off on the Air Force base was an American one detonated by accident. When everyone joins in on the disarmament thing and carry through with it, Orlov will have all the power to bring the remainder of Europe to its knees.

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“I am more concerned about an atomic bomb exploding on a US Air Force base in West Germany! You surely can’t be inviting a nuclear war?” – James Bond

How involved is Octopussy with what is going on? Will Bond be able to put a stop to a nuclear warhead going off and killing thousands while preparing Europe for complete invasion? Will the priceless jewels ever be recovered? With Khan having escaped, Bond will need to capture him and make things right. Will he and Octoupussy each have their revenge on a man that has evidently set them up and used them both?

A 6/10 for Octopussy. It was nice to see Maud Adams again, she truly is a beautiful woman, but Roger Moore is really getting to me. I say this every week, I know, but these last few movies have been like sheer torture at the best of times. The corny rendition of a tennis match while being chased on the streets of India was just plain ridiculous (and yes, I understand why it was done that way). I enjoyed Bond’s Indian ally, Vijay (Vijay Amritraj). Robert Brown is just not selling the role of M for me, and I desperately am looking forward to Judi Dench coming in again, and miss Bernard Lee for the role a lot (such a pity he passed). The story line was a little bewildering, too, seeing as it seemed that they wished to squeeze far too much and a ton of information in, and then the point of it all is lost. I loved the concept of the warhead going off and how Orlov planned to take down Europe, but the implementation left a lot to be desired. I thought the whole notion of Octopussy running a full on female cult on their own little island was a bit… arb. Not the worst of the lot, but really? Thank goodness there was no water chase, but there was some completely preposterous scene with Bond hanging to the top of a plane in flight… I cannot wait to move on to Dalton…

Review: Flight (2012)

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“Hey, don’t tell me how to lie about my drinking, okay? I know how to lie about my drinking. I’ve been lying about my drinking my whole life.”
– Whip Whitaker

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“Death demands responsibility.” – Hugh Lang

Airline captain William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington) pilots a flight to Atlanta after a hard night of sex, drugs and alcohol with his fellow flight attendant Katerina Márquez (Nadine Velazquez). Coked up to be ready for the flight, it starts as any other day would, though the turbulence is bad and his co-pilot, Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty), wonders if Whip is alright. Whip consumes some vodka discreetly on the flight, and takes a nap. This is where his life is irrevocably changed. Ken Evans attempts to gear up for a landing, and the plane goes into a ridiculously scary dive. Whip is instantly awake, and even in his state takes over. After a nasty scare with the engines failing and the inability to get the plane righted, Whip makes the call to make a forced landing in a field, with some terrible consequences. He is dragged from the wreckage of the plane.

Waking in the hospital, he learns that of the one hundred and two passengers on board, six died; of which two of them were flight crew. His union rep and old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) is there to greet him. The National Transportation Safety Board has to undergo an investigation as to what went down on the plane that morning, and an NTSB official tells Whip that Katerina was among those who lost their lives in the unfortunate accident. Whipe calls in his drug dealer friend Harling Mays (John Goodman) to get him some cigarettes and get him some cash from his home for when he leaves the hospital. While under observation at the hospital, Whip meets with drug addict Nicole Maggen (Kelly Reilly) who is recovering from a heavy overdose. He instantly takes a liking to her and wishes to see her again.

FLIGHT 2012 MEDIA

The press are relentless when you are either a hero or a scapegoat

Leaving the hospital and taking cover, avoiding his own home, Whip goes back to the family farm, and the first thing he does is get rid of all the pills and all the liquor in the house. Naturally, it does not last long after he goes to meet with Charlie and his lawyer, Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), where he learns that a toxicology screen was performed on him at the hospital by the NTSB and they know about the drinking and the drugs. Angered, Whip leaves them and gets knackered, and he then moves on to visit Nicole, where he finds her moving out from her apartment, and takes her in to stay with him. The two begin a haphazard romance, which gets dark quickly when Nicole is intent on cleaning herself up while Whip will not even admit that he has a problem, though it has already cost him his now-ex-wife and teenage son. He needs to start getting ready for the NTSB hearing, where Ellen Block (Melissa Leo), the lead investigator, seems to have it out to prove his incompetence the day of the flight. Everyone is trying their damndest to get him ready and help him out, but he is not interested.

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“Nobody could’ve landed that plane like I did.” – Whip Whitaker

Will this NTSB investigation bring Whip to his knees? Will they pin the entire accident on his hindered abilities, or rule that it was a mechanical fault that led to the terrible crash? Will Whip ever admit he has a problem, and what will it cost him to figure out there is an issue?

Flight earns a 7/10. It was a good movie, well put together and was compelling to watch. This was definitely an outstanding role for Denzel Washington; you get so attached and involved in the life of Whip, and you feel for him. It is more pity than anything, because he is a product of his own circumstances, ones that he created purely on his own. His battle is a difficult one to watch, and you are permanently in his corner waiting for him to admit to his shortcomings. Denzel Washington truly impressed me with this role, and again demonstrated why he is such a great actor. Don Cheadle was great as Whip’s attorney, and he gave me a few of the laughs that I experienced in the movie. I must say that there were a few times where the script followed a simple and predictable recipe, but overall not that bad. The soundtrack for this film was also very remarkable, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review: I Am Ozzy

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I am Ozzy book cover

Ozzy Osbourne is undoubtedly a legend, both in his own right as well as a musician with one of the most awesome old school bands in history. This book takes us down the path that one man travelled as a child into his adulthood, with a group of friends, a group that was a band with a dream.

Following his criminal years as a delinquent teenager and the inability to hold down a job, we see how Ozzy had a dream and no way of knowing how to make it happen, but being relentless about it nonetheless. On the fateful day that Tony Iommi came looking for a lead singer, it was truly looking doubtful that he was ever going anywhere. Soon the band Black Sabbath was born, and together a group of friends rode the journey through to fame and fortune, marriages, divorces, drug sprees and families. Getting incredibly big very quickly, this book tells how they dealt with it, how they made their music, who contributed what, what an amazing songwriter Geezer was, what the band and fame represented to them, what it was like to record and tour and live on the road.

Ozzy gives an intimate look into how his family came to be as well as the desecration of it, but how he will always love his children. His intense regrets for certain things in his life are highlighted, and remorse at some of his deeds is brought to the fore. There is also pride for certain things, and a blatant questioning of “what the hell” for so many others. Ozzy shows here that not everything was so amazing as you would think being the Prince of Darkness, yet at other times it is clear that he is thrilled and amazed at the opportunities that he got and the things that he did.

I Am Ozzy is the life of Ozzy Osbourne, truly compacted and presented concisely, many questions are answered as to his feelings of being kicked from Black Sabbath, being replaced by Ronnie James Dio as well as how he clawed his way back into the game with his own band and how his fame changed him. Ozzy’s tumultuous relationship with Sharon is also discussed here, and you cannot help but see exactly how and why they ended up together.

GRADE 8It was an incredibly entertaining read, whether you read it all as fact or as a great storyteller telling his life’s tales as he experienced them, it is totally worth the read. Heavily enjoyable, I laughed out loud on more than one occasion. You cannot help it, and there is no way that there will not be a time when you have to laugh. The history of Ozzy Osbourne from a young boy, to a criminal and later to a young man with a  dream and a PA system his dad managed to scrape cash together for, it is an ongoing adventure from the get go. The success of Black Sabbath to the firing of Ozzy which gave rise to his successful solo career and back into the folds of Sabbath, Ozzy takes you on a rollercoaster ride that you cannot help but enjoy. The funny, the sweet, the absolutely nasty, it is all in here. This is really a wonderful book to read about his journey. I liked the writing style, the words just flowed and it was easy to read, but not childish. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Ozzy Osbourne or Black Sabbath.