Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Captain America - The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger


In 1941, the world was introduced to Captain America. A patriotic superhero that fought during World War 2 and has had an enduring legacy that still continues to this day, with a range of comics, action figures, movies and more.


Captain America - The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger was published in 2016 by Dorling Kindersley. It was written by Matt Forbeck, Alan Cowsill and Daniel Wallace, with a special foreword by Stan "The Man" Lee.


The book itself covers everything you needed to know about Cap in a comic sense. It covers his inception in 1941, right through to the start of Sam Wilson's career as Cap. The book starts off with some basic information about Cap himself, all the different incarnations of the character throughout the 616 universe, as well as Ultimates. It also takes a look at some of his key allies and enemies.


This is where the real meat and potatoes of the book comes into play. The book talks about each decade in turn, as well as showing key events and key comic issues from that decade. It covers the main 616 cap run, Avengers and the Ultimate universe as well. This is where fans of all levels can learn some interesting facts about Cap and his Universe, such as how Zemo's mask got stuck to his face or the origins of the Red Skull or even how Bucky became the Winter Soldier.


While this book is aimed at 10 year old children, who may be interested in Cap thanks to the MCU, I feel that this book isn't really aimed that way. I feel it's more aimed at fans of Marvel Comics, thanks to the level of detail put in and that it only covers comic exploits, going back to 1941. Like all of the DK Marvel guides, I highly recommend this for any Marvel fan out there. 










Nerdversity Reviews: Obsessed with Marvel


Marvel Comics has had a long and varied history over the past 77 years. Starting out as Timley Comics, to the juggernaut and powerhouse it is now. 


Obsessed with Marvel is a computerised trivia game in a book form. It's written by Peter Sanderson, who is a long time expert in Marvel History and Trivia. At retail, the book cost $30, but these days, it can be found fairly cheaply on the secondary market.


The book is printed in black and white with 9 questions on each page. There are over 2500 questions. The computer in the lower right houses all the answers and the games. The two modes are "random",which is you get given a question, answer it, move on to another randomly generated question. "Starting Point" challenges players to tackle all 2500 questions in one sitting. The questions range from startlingly easy to insanely difficult, with some questions requiring an intricate and in depth knowledge of Marvel's history.

The categories are: Fantastic 4, Avengers, X-Men, Hulk, Marvel Knights Horror Heroes, Cosmic Characters, Spider-Man and a generic "Marvel Time" for characters and specific events that don't fit into the above categories. 


As fun as the book is and as much as it gets players thinking, there are some flaws with it. Peter Sanderson has made numerous mistakes in the book, The computer has a tendency to fail after 5 minutes of play and it even asks players to answer 2501, which doesn't exist. If these flaws had been fixed prior to release, I think we might have had a top notch game for comic book geeks to show off their knowledge of all things Marvel






Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Peril



The Sharpe novel series ran from 1981 - 2007 and clocked in at well over 20 stories. In 1993, a TV adaptation was made for ITV, starring Sean Bean.


Sharpe's Peril was written by Russell Lewis and directed by Tom Clegg. The final Sharpe movie made, for now, it takes place in 1817, yet adapts material from Tiger, Triumph and Fortress. 
The story continues from where Sharpe's Challenge left off. On their way home to England, Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) and Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley) reluctantly agree to escort Marie-Angelique Bonnet (Beatrice Rosen) to the hill fort of Kalimgong, where her fiancé, Major Joubert (Pascal Langdale), is stationed. They encounter a baggage train heading to Madras, made up of soldiers from the King's and the East India Company's armies, commanded by the young Ensign Beauclere (Luke Ward-Wilkinson), engineer Major Tredinnick (David Robb), and Subedar Pillai (Rajesh Khattar). Included in the train is a redcoat prisoner named Barabbas (Amit Behl), an Indian princess (Nandana Sen) and her retinue, and Tredinnick's pregnant wife (Caroline Carver). When the train is attacked by forces of the bandit Chitu, the Subedar is wounded. They are saved by the timely arrival of Colonel Dragomirov (Velibor Topic) and his cavalry squadron. With no one more qualified, Sharpe is forced to take command.
Trouble comes from within the train as well. Sharpe discovers that Barabbas is in fact the son of Obadiah Hakeswill, the man who murdered Sharpe's first wife. Flying into a rage, Sharpe almost kills Barabbas on the spot, stopped only by Harper's intervention. They also face opposition from Colour-Sergeant Wormwood (Steve Speirs), a British soldier who dislikes Sharpe's methods and fosters feelings of resentment among his men, which grows when Sharpe punishes two of Wormwood's men for drunkenness and attempted rape.
Arriving at Kalimgong, Sharpe and Harper find the entire garrison killed, with the exception of the fort's commander, General Sir Henry Simmerson (Michael Cochrane), Sharpe's old enemy. Strung up naked in the courtyard, Simmerson's mind is addled with the heat and he seems to only speak nonsense, such as "save the harvest." Major Joubert is not among the dead, to Marie-Angelique's relief, but neither are the Company ledgers that reveal what has been stolen from the fort. The Subedar succumbs to his wounds and dies.
Continuing on, the train finds a farming village destroyed by bandits, the entire harvest stolen, and everyone dead but a young girl who witnessed the attack. Between what the girl saw and Simmerson's addled ramblings, Sharpe realises that not only were these people growing opium for the Company, but Colonel Count Dragomirov and Major Joubert were responsible for the slaughter in the village and at Kalimgong, using bandits as scapegoats.
The train is forced to leave mounts and wagons behind when the bridge over a river is found to be destroyed. While crossing, Dragomirov and his men attack. Joubert grabs Marie-Angelique and rides off with her. Sharpe tries to pursue, but Wormwood uses the chaos to try to kill Sharpe, managing only to wound him in the shoulder. Harper drags Sharpe to safety.
Dragomirov's troops retreat. Once his wound is treated, Sharpe takes a horse and leaves to rescue Marie-Angelique, putting Harper in command of the train. When Sharpe finds Joubert, they fight. The weakened Sharpe is disarmed, but Marie-Angelique shoots and kills Joubert with his own pistol. However, Dragomirov's cavalry finds them, and takes them to their field headquarters on the Indian plains. Meanwhile, during the night, the seriously wounded Tredinnick sneaks away, as he is slowing down the train. He tries to ambush Dragomirov, but his shot misses, and Dragomirov stabs him and leaves him for dead. Lance Naik Singh (Raza Jaffrey) finds Tredinnick and hears his dying words: Dragomirov's lie that Sharpe is dead.
Dragomirov shows Sharpe around his field headquarters, where Indian slaves produce opium. He offers Sharpe Joubert's position and promises to keep Sharpe's people prisoner rather than kill them, but Sharpe turns him down. Later, Dragomirov threatens to give Marie-Angelique, who has been dosed with opium, to his men, so Sharpe agrees to lead Dragomirov to the train and convince Harper to surrender. During the night, Dragomirov has Sharpe chained in a pit with cobras, but he gets free, rescues Marie-Angelique, and catches up with the train. Dragomirov follows, but Sharpe uses gunpowder to create a roadblock.
When the train comes to a village, Mrs. Tredinnick goes into labour. Sharpe has no choice but to stop and defend the place. He gets the village's leader, the real Chitu (Ulhas Tayade) and the rest of the residents on-side for the upcoming battle. Singh repairs a very old cannon. Wormwood wants to desert, but his two cronies decide to fight alongside Sharpe. That night, Sharpe apologises to Barabbas for his earlier treatment and agrees to let him fight, but later, Wormwood frees Barabbas and tells him that Sharpe plans to execute him in the morning. Both Barabbas and Wormwood ride away separately. Wormwood joins Dragomirov and tells him all about Sharpe's defences.
When Dragomirov attacks the next day, Sharpe's men resist strongly. Beauclere is fatally wounded while defending the women. Wormwood kills one of his former comrades (with the other also perishing in the battle), but Harper kills him in a hand-to-hand fight. At the last moment, British cavalry soldiers arrive, led by Barabbas, who had ridden the entire night to bring reinforcements. Sharpe duels Dragomirov and kills him.
After the battle, Sharpe says his goodbyes to Marie-Angelique, who talks of visiting Sharpe's farm in Normandy, and to Simmerson, with whom he has an almost-friendly conversation, before he and Harper ride off for home.
Sharpe's Peril aired in 2008 on ITV. It would receive a DVD release in time for the Christmas period.





Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Challenge


Sean Bean was cast as the title character, Richard Sharpe in ITV's adaptation of the character, first debuting on TV in 1993.


Sharpe's Challenge was written by Russell Lewis and directed by Tom Clegg. In order to deal with Sean Bean's aging, the movie was set in 1817, instead of 1803. It loosely adapts Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe's Triumph and Sharpe's Fortress. 

The film starts with a flashback to 1803 in India, where Sergeant Sharpe (Sean Bean) leads a patrol to an East India Company outpost. He arrives shortly before another supposedly friendly group of soldiers led by Major William Dodd (Toby Stephens). In a treacherous surprise attack, Dodd's men kill the entire garrison, leaving no witnesses, and makes off with the payroll. However, Sharpe is only wounded and manages to survive by pretending to be dead.
Fourteen years later, in 1817, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sharpe, now a farmer in France, is summoned by his former commander, the Duke of Wellington (Hugh Fraser), to his London home, Apsley House, and asked to undertake one more mission for him: to find a man in India. The missing agent was trying to learn the identity of a turncoat officer advising a rebellious Maratha rajah. Sharpe refuses, unwilling to press his luck any further, until he learns that the agent is his old comrade in arms and best friend, Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley).
Sharpe sets out for India. On his way to report to General Burroughs (Peter Symonds), he passes a group of soldiers escorting Celia Burroughs (Lucy Brown), the general's attractive daughter. After a short conversation with her, he rides on ahead. He is soon attacked by marauders, but is rescued by Patrick Harper, who shows up just in time with his signature 7-barrel gun.
Celia Burroughs' escort is also attacked, by none other than Dodd; she is captured and taken to the fortress of Khande Rao (Karan Panthaky), the nominal leader of the revolt. However, he is not yet of age and is under the influence of a regent, his late father's favourite concubine, Madhuvanthi (Padma Lakshmi), and her lover, now General William Dodd, who plan to kill Rao before he declares his majority.
Sharpe reaches the encampment of General Burroughs, who is preparing to lay siege to the fortress of Ferraghur. The General is ill, so command has passed to an old, bitter foe of Sharpe's, the cowardly General Sir Henry Simmerson (Michael Cochrane). Simmerson refuses to act without orders and reinforcements from Agra. However, when Sharpe requests permission to infiltrate the enemy fortress, Simmerson is only too happy to allow him to risk his life.
Sharpe and Harper, posing as deserters, are welcomed by the rebels. Sharpe makes the acquaintance of former French Colonel Gudin (Aurélien Recoing), a fellow veteran of the Battle of Waterloo two years earlier. Gudin has been hired to train the men.
Meanwhile, General Burroughs recovers his health, dismisses Simmerson, and commences the siege. Sharpe discovers that Dodd has laid a trap for the British: they will attempt their breach of the wall just where he has mined it with barrels of gunpowder.
In a skirmish, some British soldiers are captured, among them Sergeant Shadrach Bickerstaff (Peter-Hugo Daly), who had clashed with Sharpe earlier. To avoid torture and execution, Bickerstaff betrays Sharpe. Sharpe and Harper are beaten and imprisoned, but Gudin, disgusted by the barbaric execution of prisoners, helps Sharpe and Harper escape, just as the British launch their assault.
Gudin next attempts to free Celia, but is murdered by Bickerstaff. Sharpe and Harper successfully set off the gunpowder prematurely, resulting in a huge explosion which kills many defenders. Harper encounters and shoots Bickerstaff, while Sharpe goes off in search of Dodd.
When it is clear the fortress has fallen, Dodd prepares to flee. Madhuvanthi attacks him with a knife when she learns that he is going to abandon her; he murders her. Sharpe finds and kills Dodd.
Khande Rao is allowed to keep his throne after he signs a peace treaty, much to Sharpe's disgust. Celia is reunited with her father. Their mission accomplished, Sharpe and Harper ride off. Celia tries to get Sharpe to stay, but when he does not she kisses him and bids him farewell, wishing him luck.
The movie was released in 2006 and broadcast on ITV. A DVD release followed shortly afterwards.



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Waterloo


Sharpe was a series of novels written by Bernard Cornwell, based on the Napoleonic campaign. In 1993, ITV broadcast a series of TV Movies based on adaptations of Cornwell's novels.


Sharpe's Waterloo was the penultimate movie in the original series. It was written by Charles Wood, adapted from the novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is In 1815, war breaks out once more as Napoleon returns to France from exile on Elba. Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) cannot resist the chance to finally see his enemy and breaks his promise to his French lover Lucille (Cécile Paoli) to fight no more. However, unlike his adulterous wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden), she forgives him and accompanies him to the battlefield, where he finds employment as a lieutenant colonel on the staff of Prince William of Orange (Paul Bettany) and makes the acquaintance of his aide de camp Colonel Rebecque (Oliver Tobias).
Sharpe then scouts far south of Quatre Bras. He spots French troops and sends a Dutch cavalryman on patrol to alert the Allied command. However, the cavalryman and his patrol are attacked and killed by French cuirassiers (who were pursuing Sharpe).
Meanwhile, Lord Rossendale (Alexis Denisof) has joined the staff of Lord Uxbridge (Neil Dickson), Wellington's second-in-command, and has brought his lover, Sharpe's estranged wife Jane, with him to Brussels, but they find that not only will polite society refuse to accept or even acknowledge Jane but also that Sharpe is also in Brussels and close by.
Sharpe then returns to the Prince of Orange's camp. There, he is reunited with his former sergeant major and best friend, Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley), and two of his long-time "chosen men": Hagman (John Tams) and Harris (Jason Salkey).
Sharpe scouts the French forces, while a contingent of Dutch musketeers holds a French column off. He then alerts the Duke of Wellington (Hugh Fraser) at a ball in Brussels that Napoleon is on the move. As Sharpe is leaving, he runs into Jane and Rossendale; he chases Rossendale and challenges Rossendale in front of the guests. When Rossendale shows his cowardice by refusing to fight (and wetting himself in the face of Sharpe's rage), Sharpe extracts a promise that he will get back the money Jane stole from him. Previously, Jane had persuaded Rossendale that he must kill her husband during the coming battle.
Sharpe is sent to command the defence of a crucial farmhouse at La Haye Sainte, which is manned by the King's German Legion and the 95th Rifles. He saves a King's German Legion officer, Macduff. Believing that La Haye Sainte has fallen, Prince William orders an English regiment to reform from square to line and re-capture the farm. However, French cavalry are nearby and, with the British in exactly the wrong formation, destroy the unit and capture its colours, while Sharpe watches in disgust.
As the battle rages, both Lucille and Jane wait for news; Lucille praying for Sharpe's safe return and Jane writing in her diary that she is pregnant with Rossendale's bastard child. Sharpe re-encounters Rossendale on the field; Rossendale draws a pistol on Sharpe, but doesn't have the courage to fire as Sharpe calmly rides up to him. Sharpe takes both Rossendale's sword and pistol and breaks them. He makes Rossendale write the required promissory note for Sharpe's money (which is actually worthless, since Jane has the money and Rossendale has no money of his own) and then tells Rossendale that he can have Jane since he has just bought her.
That night, Rossendale invents a story for his fellow officers to explain the destruction of his sword and pistol, but later confesses the truth to Witherspoon. Witherspoon tells him the only way for Rossendale to regain his lost honor is to fight like a demon in the coming battle.
Sharpe witnesses more instances of the absolute military incompetence of Prince William. The last time, it costs the lives of Harris and Hagman while the Prince gallops away to save his own skin, leaving his men to be slaughtered by the French. Furious, Sharpe shoots the prince at long range from a secluded spot, but only succeeds in wounding him. (The real William of Orange played a large role in and was wounded at the Battle of Waterloo.) Meanwhile, on another part of the battlefield, Rossendale finally manages to fight bravely, but is killed fighting French cuirassiers.
Sharpe then rejoins his old unit, the Prince of Wales' Own Volunteers, taking over when its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ford, becomes a casualty. At the crucial point of the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon sends in his elite Imperial Guard. Sharpe repels the last-ditch assault, much to Wellington's delight. As the Prussians finally arrived, Wellington gives Sharpe command of the regiment and tells him to pursue the retreating enemy. Whilst advancing, Sharpe glimpses Napoleon as he rides off in defeat.
Sharpe's Waterloo aired on ITV in 1997. It ran for 100 minutes and was released on VHS, with a DVD release fairly recently.




Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Justice


In 1993, Celtic Films created an adaptation of the Bernard Cornwell novels of Sharpe. It was filmed in the Ukraine and starred Sean Bean in the title role.


Sharpe's Justice was written by John Tams and Patrick Harbison. Like Mission, Justice is NOT based on any existing novel, and is an entirely new and original story. It was directed by Tom Clegg and the plot is It is 1814. There is peace in Europe as a defeated Napoleon is sent into exile on the island of Elba. Major Sharpe (Sean Bean) is assigned to head the Scarsdale Yeomanry in his native Yorkshire, depriving him of a chance to settle the score with his adulterous wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden) and her lover, Lord Rossendale (Alexis Denisof).
Sharpe and Regimental Sergeant Major Harper (Daragh O'Malley) are met on their arrival by George Wickham (Douglas Henshall), an officer in the Yeomanry. As he escorts them to town, they are ambushed and shot at. Sharpe pursues (but does not catch) one of the men, who turns out to be his close childhood friend, Matthew Truman (Philip Glenister).
Wickham takes Sharpe to meet Sir Willoughby Parfitt (Tony Haygarth) and Sir Percy Stanwyck (Philip Anthony), wealthy businessmen who own many cotton mills between them. Parfitt tells Sharpe about the post-war unrest. The discharge of men from the army has flooded England with unemployed workmen; the increased competition and a reduced demand for cotton gives Parfitt an excuse to lower wages. He is opposed by Truman, a rabble rouser who stirs up the discontented, poverty-stricken masses.
Meanwhile, the financially strapped Rossendale inherits an estate in neighbouring Lancashire. He had used his influence to get Sharpe posted as far from London as possible, but now has to relocate (with Jane) nearby. Both Rossendale and Jane speak with Sharpe separately, but nothing is resolved.
Dan Hagman (John Tams), one of Sharpe's former riflemen, shows up looking for work, but turns down Sharpe's offer - nine years in uniform is enough for him. He becomes a follower of Truman.
When Sharpe hears of an illegal meeting, he orders his soldiers to tread gently, but Wickham deliberately disobeys his orders and incites a massacre; Truman gets away in the confusion. However, Wickham cleverly manages to place all the blame on Sharpe.
Sharpe visits Sally Bunting (Karen Meagher), a woman who had been kind to him in his childhood. From her, he learns that his mother is dead and also that Truman is his brother (or more likely half-brother). He arranges to meet with him at their mother's grave. Parfitt learns of it and sends Wickham to take them both. Sharpe, Harper and Hagman get away, but Truman is shot dead by Wickham.
While in hiding, Sharpe is warned by Lady Anne Camoynes (Caroline Langrishe) that Parfitt and Wickham intend to secretly intercept and destroy a steam engine that Stanwyck is bringing in, in order to weaken his business rival. They intend to blame it on disaffected machine wreckers. Sharpe and his friends foil the scheme, catching Wickham red-handed. Sharpe uses this to blackmail Parfitt into clearing his name. In the end, Sharpe heads back to London, Harper to Ireland, while Hagman stays behind, having taken a liking to Sally.
Sharpe's Justice was broadcast on ITV in 1997. Later that year, it would get a VHS release and has since been released on DVD. 




Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Revenge (TV)


In 1993, Sean Bean was cast in the role of Richard Sharpe, This role of the romantic, yet swashbuckling hero of the Napoleonic Wars made him a household name.


Sharpe's Revenge was written by Eoghan Harris, based upon the novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is Sharpe participates in the Battle of Toulouse, at the end of the Peninsular War. On the other side are French General Calvet (John Benfield) and Sharpe's nemesis, Ducos (Féodor Atkine), who is in charge of Napoleon's treasury. During the fighting, Sharpe encounters and humiliates Ducos, but lets him escape with his life. Napoleon loses the war and is sent into exile.
Before the battle, Sharpe gives his wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden) power of attorney over his entire fortune of 10,000 guineas, just in case. She extracts a promise from him that this will be his last fight, that he will ask Wellington for a transfer back to England. However, Sharpe is insulted by another British officer; forgetting his promise, he exacts revenge by shooting the officer in the buttocks in a duel. Infuriated, Jane is persuaded by her friend Lady Molly Spindacre (Connie Hyde) to run away to London to spend some of her husband's money.
Things get out of hand when Jane becomes infatuated with the handsome Lord Rossendale (Alexis Denisof). After they become lovers, he convinces her to invest her money in various projects and pay off his gambling debts. Eventually, she runs out of money, at which point her "friend" Molly deserts her.
Meanwhile, Ducos is ordered by Calvet to take the treasure to Paris, but with the war lost, steals it instead, framing Sharpe for the theft and murder of the guards. Sharpe is brought before a military tribunal and jailed pending the arrival of a purported witness, Colonel Maillot (Stephane Cornicard), the officer in charge of the treasure's escort. In actuality, the Frenchman had rebuffed Ducos' offer to share the loot and had gone home to Normandy in disgust.
Sharpe's friends Sergeant Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley) and Captain Frederickson (Philip Whitchurch) break him out of prison and all three head off to find Maillot. They arrive too late; Ducos has had him murdered shortly before to cover his tracks. Sharpe is wounded by Maillot's widowed sister, Madame Lucille DuBert (Cécile Paoli), when she mistakes him for one of her brother's killers. While he recuperates, they become romantically involved, to the dismay of Captain Frederickson who had been interested in Madame DuBert.
In Paris, Frederickson learns the whereabouts of Ducos and is contacted by Calvet. Sharpe joins forces with the Frenchman and his loyal Imperial guardsmen. Together, they storm Ducos' fortress in Naples. Sharpe shoots his nemesis at long range and Calvet recovers the treasure. Between them, Calvet and Madame DuBert clear Sharpe's name.
Sharpe's Revenge was aired on ITV in 1997. It was released on VHS that same year and eventually on DVD. 





Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Mission (TV)


In 1981, Bernard Cornwell wrote a historical fiction novel called Sharpe's Rifles and created a character that became a cult icon. In 1993, Celtic Films bought Sharpe to live on the TV screen.


Sharpe's Mission was written by Eoghan Harris and directed by Tom Clegg. Now, this is an interesting one, as Mission was NOT one of the novels and is an all new and original story. The plot is After a prologue set in 1810, which introduces Major Brand (Mark Strong), a British officer serving with Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean), the plot fast-forwards to present-day 1813, where France is losing the war. Major Sharpe is teamed with Brand, now a Colonel renowned for leading a small band of soldiers operating far behind enemy lines. Wellington (Hugh Fraser) assigns them the task of blowing up a store of gunpowder vital to French General Calvet (Olivier Pierre). To do this, they need the expertise of explosives expert Major Pyecroft (Nigel Betts). Major General Ross (James Laurenson), Wellington's head of military intelligence, decides to go along to evaluate Calvet's intentions.
Meanwhile, a Gypsy family stumbles upon a secret meeting between a French colonel and a masked Colonel Brand, with one of his men. The interrupted plotters pursue and kill the Gypsies, except for a young woman, Zara (Berrin Politi), who manages to hide. Afterwards, she starts to bury her dead parents, only to flee when another masked man appears. However, it turns out to be Pyecroft, whose face was disfigured by a bomb accident. He digs the graves and takes Zara under his protection.
In the British encampment, Zara spots one of her family's horses and her mother's ring in the possession of Brand and his men, confirming Sharpe's suspicions. Brand is luring them into a trap, with the goal of capturing Ross for his knowledge of Wellington's plans.
Forewarned, Sharpe is able to thwart the turncoat. After Sharpe's men capture the fort where the gunpowder is stored, he has Ross convene a court-martial, in which Brand is convicted and sentenced to death. Fearing that Brand's influential friends will be able to overturn the verdict, Sharpe conducts an impromptu execution, pushing the traitor into a deep well. The British blow up the gunpowder and escape, while Brand's men are given the opportunity to redeem themselves by acting as a rearguard to hold off the attacking French forces.
All is not well for Sharpe however. His wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden) is becoming more and more dissatisfied with his career as a soldier. Pyecroft has more luck; he and Zara become engaged.
Sharpe's Mission aired on ITV in 1996. It would be released on VHS that year and later be released on DVD.



Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Siege (TV)


In 1993, Celtic Films created Sharpe, a TV movie adaptation series, based on Bernard Cornwell's novels of the same name. They had Sean Bean as the titular hero.


Sharpe's Siege was written by Eoghan Harris and Colin Wood, based on the novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is In 1813, the war turns in favour of the British. Lord Wellington (Hugh Fraser) is poised to invade southern France after triumphing in Spain. The Comte de Maquerre (Christian Brendel), a French nobleman, offers to raise a rebellion in Bordeaux against Napoleon. Major General Ross (James Laurenson), is unconvinced, as his spies have reported no discontent in the region, but agrees that a brigade can be sent as a probe if the Comte can provide a secure base; he offers a family castle, though he admits that it is garrisoned.
Wellington is forced to put a young, inexperienced Colonel Horace Bampfylde (Christopher Villiers) (the son of a general Wellington needs to placate) in charge of the expedition, instead of Major Sharpe (Sean Bean). Sharpe is reluctant to go, as he has just married Jane Gibbons (Abigail Cruttenden) and she has come down with a deadly fever. Without quinine, her prognosis is bleak, but he is a soldier and he has his orders.
Bampfylde botches the initial assault on the fortress and is driven back with heavy casualties. Disgusted, Sharpe and his men gain entry to the castle at night by a ruse, pretending to be a French patrol, and capture the place. The Comte is reunited with his sister (Amira Casar) and gravely ill mother. For his trouble, Sharpe is sent by Bampfylde on a useless reconnaissance in order to grab the credit for himself.
While Sharpe is away, the Comte brings the "Mayor of Bordeaux" to Bampfylde who confirms that Bordeaux is ripe for rebellion, however the Comte is in league with Napoleon and the mayor is in fact Napoleon's agent and Sharpe's old enemy Major Ducos (Feodor Atkine). Ducos also tells Bampfylde that Sharpe was ambushed and killed by a French column. Now convinced that his mission is a success and there's no further reason to stay, Bampfylde is convinced by the Comte to demolish the front gates, blow up the captured ammunition, abandon the wounded, and return to Wellington immediately with the wonderful news.
Sharpe's patrol meanwhile ambushes and annihilates a French column of reinforcements, and captures a resupply cart and a doctor bringing quinine for the Comte's mother. Resisting the temptation to save it for his wife, Sharpe allows it to be given to the ailing woman.
Rifleman Robinson (Danny Cunningham) is found with a local French girl. Sharpe is required to hang him by Wellington's standing orders, but when the girl says she had been willing, Sharpe reduces the sentence to a beating from Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley). Meanwhile, they question the locals and find them fiercely loyal to Napoleon and conclude that the Comte's rebellion is a sham.
Hearing the explosion from the castle's magazine, Sharpe and his men hurry back. When he gets a description of the mayor, he realises he has been trapped by Major Ducos. Not only will Wellington be tricked into advancing into an ambush, but Ducos will have his own personal revenge on Sharpe.
French General Calvet (Olivier Pierre) arrives with a sizable, but inexperienced, force. Under a flag of truce, the Comte reveals himself to be Napoleon's agent, and offers to let the British go free provided they leave Sharpe behind; Robinson replies for them all, "Fight them to the finish, sir." Sharpe turns them down. In a shooting contest, sharpshooters mortally wound the Comte in the back at long range as he returns from the parley.
Sharpe and his men only have 18 rounds a man. Earlier, out of gratitude for Sharpe providing her mother with quinine, the Comte's sister had told them to burn a cellar full of oyster shells to produce lime.
The French attack, but are met by accurate volley shooting. With the British ammunition running low, Sharpe's men dump powdered lime from the walls, blinding their foes as they enter the castle. The British form ranks and proceed to massacre the blinded Frenchmen.
The French retreat just as the British run out of ammunition. Then, a messenger arrives from Marshal Soult, Calvet's superior, wondering why he wasn't guarding the flank when Wellington attacked... fifty miles away. The wily British commander had been suspicious and so only ever intended the uprising to be a distraction while he attacked elsewhere. General Calvet hurries away, leaving Sharpe victorious.
When Sharpe gets back, Bampfylde is placed under arrest for cowardice and other charges. Sharpe is astounded to find his wife well; she tells him that Wellington had gone to some lengths to obtain quinine for her.
The movie was broadcast on ITV in 1996 and ran for 100 minutes. It would be released later that same year on VHS, with a DVD release in 2005.



Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Regiment (TV)


In 1993, Celtic Films created an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series of novels. Sean Bean starred as the titular hero.


Sharpe's Regiment was written by Charles Wood, based on the novel of the same name and directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is It is 1813. The First Battalion of the South Essex Regiment has suffered terrible losses in the fighting in Spain and the entire regiment is in danger of being disbanded as a result. Major Sharpe (Sean Bean) and Sergeant Major Harper (Daragh O'Malley) are sent back to England to find out why replacements have not been sent. Sharpe is told that the Second Battalion of the South Essex is drawing pay for over 700 soldiers, but when he arrives at the Second Battalion's barracks, he finds only eleven men, even though there is regular recruiting for the regiment. Sharpe senses something is amiss and is determined to get to the bottom of things.
During an audience with the dimwitted Prince Regent (Julian Fellowes), Sharpe is introduced to Lord Fenner (Nicholas Farrell), the man responsible for the regiment's troubles. Fenner insists that the second battalion of the South Essex exists only on paper as a means of paying troops who have been scattered for various reasons until they can be placed into a proper unit. Fenner sends Lady Anne Camoynes (Caroline Langrishe) to sleep with Sharpe and ascertain his intentions. When he finds out, he sends assassins to solve his potential problem, but Sharpe and Harper dispose of them instead. Their bodies are tossed into the river and rumours are spread that Sharpe and Harper have been killed.
Meanwhile, the two men "enlist" in the South Essex's Second Battalion to find out what happens to the recruits. They learn that they are being trained by the brutal and effete Lieutenant Colonel Girdwood (Mark Lambert) and then auctioned off to other regiments by Sharpe's old enemy, Sir Henry Simmerson (Michael Cochrane) with Fenner getting a kickback. Simmerson's niece, Jane Gibbons (Abigail Cruttenden), helps Sharpe and Harper escape afterwards.
Sharpe goes to Horse Guards to see the Commander in Chief of the Army, the Duke of York, but learns that the Duke is not in London. Sharpe sees his old friend, Lawson, in whom he confides. Lawson, on his own initiative, approaches Fenner and proposes a solution—the South Essex will get its men and Sharpe will be given command of a Rifle battalion in North America. Lady Camoynes overhears and contacts Sharpe. She tells him that he needs proof of the sales and tells him that she wants to ruin Fenner, who expects sexual favors from her as a way of paying off the debts of her late husband, whom Fenner ruined.
Sharpe and Harper return to Girdwood's training camp and take over (claiming authority that they lack), placing Girdwood under arrest, but they are unable to find any paperwork documenting the sales. (Harper does complete the paperwork necessary to make the recruits officially part of the South Essex, however, so they cannot be auctioned.)
Girdwood, however, escapes and goes to Simmerson's estate, where he collects the incriminating paperwork, and then heads to Simmerson's London house. Sharpe arrives at Simmerson's house too late to stop Girdwood, but he sees an invitation to a party to be hosted by the Prince of Wales. Sharpe also learns from Jane that Simmerson regularly beats her (Simmerson has little regard for her given that she is a marital relative whose father was a lowly saddler), and Sharpe rashly proposes marriage as a way of enabling her to escape Simmerson's power. Jane agrees to go to London to try to steal the paperwork from Simmerson's house there. Sharpe forms up the recruits of the Second Battalion, tells them to throw away their leather neck collars, and marches them off to London where they march in on the Prince of Wales's party and with Sharpe bearing the eagle he took at Talavera, the recruits dramatically present themselves as volunteers dedicated to the Prince, placing his feather in their shakos. (In fact the feathers are from chickens they purchased on the march). The Prince gleefully claims them as his own, making the regiment the Prince of Wales Own Volunteers (POWOV), instead of the South Essex.
Sharpe confronts Lord Fenner, but does not have any proof, as Simmerson gave the paperwork to Fenner who ordered it burnt. Just in time, Lady Camoynes shows up with ledgers—which she saved from the fire—detailing the crimes and uses them for blackmail for herself and for Sharpe. Simmerson, due to his influential friends, once more escapes prosecution. To shelter Jane from Simmerson's wrath, Sharpe becomes engaged to her, declining an offer of a return to Lady Camoyne's bed.
Thanks to Lady Camoyne's blackmail of Fenner, Sharpe gets the men he came for and goes back to fight in Spain, saving the regiment from being deleted from the army list. The regiment is now under the command of Colonel Girdwood, which Sharpe also specifically requested. In Spain, Girdwood has a close encounter with a French artillery round during an attack on the French border and suffers a mental breakdown as a result. He is invalided home, and Sharpe takes command of the Prince of Wales Own Volunteers, leading them on to victory. One of the POWOV men is asked "what regiment?" His response sums up the episode: "Sharpe's".
The Prince of Wales Own Volunteers regimental colors differ from those of the South Essex regiment, as seen in Sharpe's Eagle. In Sharpe's Eagle, the POWOV's regimental colors are a circular floral device on a yellow background. The POWOV's regimental colors are a chained French imperial eagle, surrounded by laurel branches, on the same yellow background, honoring the regiment's capture of the eagle at Talavera.
The movie was broadcast on ITV in 1996, with a runtime of around 100 minutes, It was released that same year on VHS and later released on DVD.



Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Battle (TV)

In 1993, ITV broadcast the TV Movie series Sharpe. It starred Sean Bean as the titular character and was a cult phenomenon.


Sharpe's Battle was written by Russell Lewis and is a loose adaptation of the novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is While on patrol, Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his men rout some French soldiers who have raped and murdered the inhabitants of a Spanish village. Two are captured alive. Their commander, Brigadier General Loup (Oliver Cotton), attempts to bargain with Sharpe for the lives of his men, but Sharpe has them shot in front of him. Loup vows revenge as he departs.
Meanwhile, Wellington (Hugh Fraser) receives unwanted reinforcements from the King of Spain. His Most Catholic Majesty sends his personal bodyguard, the Real Compania Irlandesa (Royal Irish Company), composed of poorly trained men of Irish descent under the command of the inexperienced Lord Kiely (Jason Durr). Wellington doesn't trust them, not least because of reports in American newspapers that the British are committing atrocities against the Irish people. So he orders the unreliable men to garrison a fort near the French lines, where it will be easy for them to desert if they want to. He assigns Sharpe to train them and puts him under the command of former Wagonmaster-General Colonel Runciman (Ian McNeice).
Kiely's wife, Lady Kiely (Allie Byrne), and his mistress, guerrilla leader Doña Juanita (Siri Neal), both show up in camp. In the meantime, Sharpe has enough time to train the men and strengthen the fort's defences, so that when Loup finally attacks, he is repulsed. Afterwards, Sharpe proposes a quick surprise assault on Loup's headquarters, which is approved by Kiely, Runciman and Juanita.
When Kiely learns that his wife is pregnant, he sends her away, out of harm's way, but she is captured. Juanita reveals herself to be a French agent by giving Kiely a secret ultimatum from Loup. He is to let Sharpe and his men commit themselves to the attack, then abandon them in exchange for Lady Kiely's life.
It almost goes according to plan. Sharpe's men are trapped, though he himself manages to reach Kiely. When Kiely refuses to act, Sharpe fights him, only to be shot in the arm by Juanita. At that point, Kiely finally rebels. He kills Juanita and shows that she had distributed fake newspapers to undermine the Irishmen's loyalty. Together, he and Sharpe lead the attack against the French. Meanwhile, Harper, in temporary command of Sharpe's company, tricks the French by pretending to be dead. The British win the fight - although Harper is devastated by the death of his youngest rifleman, Perkins (Lyndon Davies). As the battle draws to a close, Kiely is killed by Loup when he tries to free his pregnant wife. Loup is slain in turn by Sharpe.
The movie was released in 1995 on ITV and runs for 100 minutes. It was first released on VHS that same year and in the 2000s, the movie was released on DVD.



Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Gold (TV)


In 1993, ITV broadcast a drama series called Sharpe. It was a TV adaptation of the novels, written by Bernard Cornwell.


Sharpe's Gold was written by Nigel Kneale and is a much looser adaptation, using only about 10 pages of the original novel. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is  It is summer 1813. Lord Wellington (Hugh Fraser) is preparing to invade France from Spain after the winning the campaign on the Iberian peninsula.
Meanwhile, Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) gets into serious trouble when he tries unsuccessfully to save one of his riflemen, Skillicorn (Philip Dowd), from being executed by the zealous Lieutenant Ayres (Ian Shaw) for stealing a chicken. To maintain discipline in his army, Wellington makes Sharpe apologise to Ayres.
Bess Nugent (Rosaleen Linehan) and her daughter Ellie (Jayne Ashbourne), arrive unannounced from Ireland to visit their cousin, Wellington. They are there to search for Bess's husband, Will (Peter Eyre). Wellington however refuses to assist their foolhardy mission, demanding they go home. Sharpe and Ellie become attracted to each other.
Wellington assigns Sharpe the task of handing over 50 rifles in exchange for some British deserters caught by a feared Spanish guerrilla leader named El Casco (Abel Folk). The Provost Marshal insists that some of his men go along, so Sharpe is saddled with Ayres. Later, the two ladies catch up to Sharpe's detachment, forcing him to take them along for their protection. On the way, they repel an attack by French cavalry led by Lieutenant Barbier (Julian Sims). Ellie becomes distraught after having to shoot and kill a young Frenchman. When Sharpe tries to comfort her away from the others, they embrace.
The trade goes as planned. However, Ellie then discovers that one of the deserters has her father's pipe. When Sharpe refuses to begin a search, the Nugents ride off, forcing Sharpe to go after them. The riflemen spot Barbier's detachment and drive them off with a surprise attack.
The ladies encounter El Casco's men; Bess is killed and Ellie taken captive. When she is taken to El Casco's cave lair, she finds her father, though he has become deranged. Sharpe tracks them down with the help of Barbier, whose men were captured and had their hearts cut out while still alive by the partisans (who believe they are descendants of shipwrecked Aztecs). Sharpe attacks the Spaniards and rescues Ellie and her father. El Casco kills Ayres and wounds Sharpe, but is killed by Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley). Back at camp, Will recovers his senses and thanks Sharpe.
The movie was broadcast in 1995 on ITV. The movie ran for 100 minutes and was released on VHS, later DVD. 






Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Honour (TV)


In 1993, ITV broadcast Sharpe, a series of TV movies that were adaptations of the Bernard Cornwell novels.


Sharpe's Honour was adapted by Colin MacDonald, based on the novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is In 1813, Napoleon is reeling from his disastrous invasion of Russia the year before, and Lord Wellington is preparing to drive the French out of Spain. Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) is mourning the death of his wife Teresa.
Sharpe's archenemy, French Major Ducos (Feodor Atkine), proposes a plan to his emperor to split the alliance between Spain and England (and gain revenge on Sharpe). He has a French spy, la Marquesa (Alice Krige), write a letter to her Spanish husband claiming that Sharpe tried to force his unwanted attentions on her. Sharpe is forced into a duel with the outraged nobleman, but the fight is broken up by Wellington's men. Later that night, while he is sleeping, the Spaniard has his throat cut by El Matarife (Matthew Scurfield), a partisan leader. Sharpe is framed for the murder and is sentenced to hang. To placate his Spanish allies, Wellington is forced to go along.
Major Nairn (Michael Byrne), Wellington's spymaster, arranges for another condemned soldier to be executed (keeping spectators at a distance so the switch can remain undetected), while he sends Sharpe and Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley) to find out what is going on. Meanwhile, Father Hacha (Nickolas Grace) and his brother El Matarife, Ducos' co-conspirators, abduct la Marquesa and imprison her in a nunnery to tie up loose ends. Sharpe learns of this and frees her, only to be chased by El Matarife and his men.
Sharpe is captured by a French patrol and taken to Ducos. The gloating Frenchman tells Sharpe that his duel and the murder of the nobleman has made it possible to negotiate a vital peace treaty with King Ferdinand VII of Spain; the British army will be forced to leave the country. Harper and the rest of Sharpe's "chosen men" infiltrate the French prison in disguise and rescue their commander, just in time for him to play a pivotal role in the British victory at the Battle of Vitoria. Sharpe finds El Matarife at the end of the battle, fights him man to man, and forces him to confess in front of Spanish and British witnesses. El Matarife then tries to stab Sharpe in the back, but is shot by the Spanish major, who now clearly believes Sharpe. With his plot in ruins, Ducos kills Father Hacha.
In his attempt to flee from the advancing British, the arrogant Ducos is hauled from his horse by the routed French soldiers and is shot and left to die (but survives to bedevil Sharpe in the future).
The movie aired in 1995 on ITV. It ran for 100 minutes. The movie would be released on VHS and later DVD.




Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Enemy (TV)


In 1993, viewers in the UK were given their first adaptation of Sharpe, a book series by Bernard Cornwell. It starred Sean Bean as the titular character. It would prove to be a cult phenomenon.


Sharpe's Enemy was adapted by Eoghan Harris, based upon the novel by Bernard Cornwell. The movie was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is In 1813, a band of deserters, British, French, and others, led by Sharpe's nemesis Obadiah Hakeswill (Pete Postlethwaite) and a French renegade named Pot-au-Feu (Tony Haygarth), takes over a Portuguese village. Lady Isabella (Elizabeth Hurley), the wife of Sir Augustus Farthingdale (Jeremy Child), the English military envoy to Portugal, is taken captive. The brigands demand a ransom for her and for another lady taken earlier, Sarah (Helena Michell), the spouse of French Colonel Dubreton (François Guétary).
Sharpe delivers the money for Lady Isabella, while Dubreton does the same for his wife. Sarah mysteriously recites a verse of poetry. Hakeswill demands double the amount and gives each man five days to deliver the second installment. When Sharpe returns to camp, Wellington (Hugh Fraser), the British commander, decides that drastic action is required to discourage desertion before it can infect the rest of his army.
Sharpe also reports seeing a Major Ducos (Féodor Atkine), who accompanied Dubreton. This worries Major Nairn (Michael Byrne), the head of Wellington's military intelligence. He suspects that Ducos, his French counterpart, is scouting the route for a French invasion of Portugal. The village happens to be directly in the most likely path.
Sarah's poem  conceals a clue to the captives' whereabouts. Sharpe comes up with a risky plan to rescue the women. When Farthingdale objects by quoting regulations that a major must lead a detachment of this size, Wellington presents him with a letter from the Prince Regent, who has followed Sharpe's exploits with admiration, promoting Sharpe to major.
Sharpe then sneaks into the village with Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley) and his "chosen men" on Christmas Eve, when the enemy is drunk and distracted, and frees the captives. While they wait for Captain William Frederickson (Philip Whitchurch) to bring up his company of the 60th Rifles, it is revealed that Lady Isabella had been a prostitute, and at one time Sharpe's lover. With time on their hands, they resume their sexual relationship.
The battle goes almost as planned. The deserters are killed or captured, except for Hakeswill, who escapes. He runs into Sharpe's wife Teresa (Assumpta Serna), who had been scouting the approaching French force. Hakeswill kills her, but is then caught by Dubreton, who hands him over to Sharpe.
Ducos delivers an ultimatum, demanding the surrender of the village. Sharpe refuses. When Farthingdale tries to negotiate, Sharpe stops him by threatening to reveal Isabella's past to the Lisbon court. The French attack, outnumbering the British 10 to 1, but fall into Sharpe's trap and are repulsed with rocket artillery. Afterwards, Hakeswill is executed by firing squad.
The movie was broadcast in 1994 on ITV. It would later be released on VHS and most recently on DVD.