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Mac83

Mac83
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      20.01.2013 13:20
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      One of the best musicals around!

      Les Miserables' is one of the biggest musicals around and the longest running in its 27th year. If you are a fan of musicals or just enjoy catching a live show every now and then, this one might be one you have already seen or one to definitely check out. It is also a show that would suit everyone and attracts a wide audience because of the range of themes within it and has a story that works perfectly when turned into a musical show.

      Location
      -----------
      'Les Miserables' takes place in Queen's theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue located in Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square, the closest underground stations are either Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly line/Bakerloo line) or Leicester Square (Piccadilly line/Northern line) not far from China Town both only a short walk from the stations and a perfect location to catch dinner after the show - but the worst location if your returning home when all the shows finish around the same time.

      Schedule
      -----------
      'Les Miserables' can be seen from Monday to Saturday in the evenings at 7.30pm. Matinee shows can be seen on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm. There are no shows on Sunday. The show runs for 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission of around 15 minutes in the middle.

      Seating plan
      ----------------
      The shows ticket prices stay the same most of the year round. You won't save any money by booking tickets in advance, but you might save money booking tickets last minute, either online or booking on the day from the box offices in Leicester Square, although your seats might not be as as you preferred. Below are the different areas you could choose from, but officially Queen's Theatre offer: Stalls, Royal Circle, Upper Circle and Standing area (Balcony - back of the theatre).

      * Stalls: Stalls are usually all on one flat level without much of a gradient and all the stall seats are located in roughly the front half of the theatre, are on a level lower than the stage and so you will be looking up at the stage from these seats which means you might miss some of the stage features on the floor for example. Just make the decision of which tickets you go for in the stalls according to the row number offered; back rows of the stalls are bad seats in my opinion - the best of the stalls are normally roughly near the front and in the centre. Stalls prices for Les Mis are around £100 for premium seats near the front and around £70-£60 at other stall seats, like near the back and around the sides.

      * Dress Circle: Dress circle I think are best viewing seats as long as you are at the front. Seats we have chosen have previously been near the front of this lot and there are stunning views to be seen. The Dress Circle is lower than the Upper Circle and slightly forward so the views will be better. You are also at a good level in relation to the stage, so you will get a better view of it, you won't be looking up like you do when in the stalls which I think is great - better at seeing some of the effects like the rotating floor etc. Prices at the back and sides of the Dress Circle range from around £50-£45, but the best seats of the Dress Circle are around £60 at the front centre rows.

      * Upper circle/Grand Circle: The Upper circle is very high up at Queen's theatre and front row here can be priced almost the same as seats near middle of the Dress circle. If at the front, you will have the same sort of view as that of the Dress Circle only that you will be higher and up and it might look slightly more distant. The prices are around £35-£40 if they are "restricted view" tickets or side view and £40-55 for good middle front seats.

      * Balcony/'Standing area': I personally wouldn't watch a show from the standing area. This is the area right at the back of the theatre, you could literally touch the back wall and you will stand in a line behind the last row of the upper circle. You can get seats for the balcony pretty cheap, around £20.

      * "Sides" vs "Centre" Rows: If the seat you choose is on the edges of the theatre (like the early or later numbers 1-4 or 22-26) these can be awkward seats most times as you might not get the "full" experience that you'd get when sitting as centrally as possible - you might have areas of the stage cut off and could ruin your experience but with Les Mis in the Queen's theatre, its really weird because these seats are priced roughly the same, and almost as high as some of the great seats in the centre front - it may be to do with demand but don't pay the same when you can get better seats!

      Before you buy your tickets, it could be a good idea to check the theatre seating plan map where you can see every little seat and can check out what seats exactly you are paying for and if they look as though they are awkwardly positioned in the theatre, you may as well avoid and go for others at similar prices. Plus on the official website - www.lesmis.com/uk/ - you are able to pick a range of seats and check out what the view will be like from those particular seats which I think is a very cool feature. Normally I have always avoided side seats and mostly the stalls altogether and also have never paid more than £40 - £50 per seat for any other theatre show but for Les Mis you might have to spend a bit more than £50 for that better experience (unfortunately).

      About "Les Miserables"
      ----------------------------
      'Les Miserables' is in its 27th year running since it was first showing in 1985. It is based on a novel also called 'Les Miserables' by French poet Victor Hugo. Obviously originally the story was in the French language and only later was it translated into English in 1985 where it was first performed in Barbican in London. The show won an Olivier award for most popular show voted by audience in 2012, last year.

      The show
      -------------
      What it's about: 'Les Miserables' is about a man named Jean Valjean who breaks parole, after spending 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children. As the story begins, we see him trying to start his life afresh but gets into more trouble with the police and is caught again by Javert. Caught stealing again, he comes across the Bishop who tells a lie to help him and this in turn helps free him, both from further time in prison and from the state of life he had been living. This Bishop had been very kind to him and encourages him positively. And so after 8 years, he has changed his name to Monsieur Madeleine and becomes an owner of a big factory. Here, he finds that one of his factory workers called Fantine has an illegitimate child but the supervisor of the workers throws her out of the factory, leaving her with no work, no money and so she takes to the streets to sell herself to make the money she needs to provide for her daughter - who we later find is named Cosette. There are these sort of demanding and challenging things Valjean goes through in this story, where he is seen to be having dealings with the police continuously on his back, his rage at those people with the power, the kindness he offers with taking care of Cosette who he promises Fantine, the intense experiences of the citizen rebellion against the French army in this post-revolutionary Paris and keeping from Cosette, as she grows up, her own background history. 'Les Miserables' like the title suggests is a sombre tale but is told beautifully and captures our imagination through the experiences we see the characters go through. There are much more serious tones than there are happy ones, but I find it very compelling and uplifting because of the journeys we see some of the characters go through as the story builds up.

      The characters: Jean Valjean when he is released from prison - also known as "prisoner 24601" by Javert - is seen as a tough and hardened criminal. His hate for society is powerful, and he doesn't hold back but he soon becomes the hero of this story because of the right paths he chooses to take along the way, the friends he makes and the kindness and sentiment he is able show as well. And although we see that he is capable of affection and kind-heartedness especially when he steps in to take care of Cosette, throughout the story he still remains strong mentally and physically as he always was. The injustice to our protagonist for his treatment of petty stealing becomes stronger as viewers. The next most important character of the show might be Cosette. We see her in her childhood as a servant with a bucket cleaning the tables at the Thenardier's inn in her first scene. But as the show goes on we see her grow up into a young woman who is loyal to her father, she has been brought up the way Valjean has wanted and she turns out to be a well-educated and happy person to who she was but she develops her own issues. We also see that she has a love interest Marius which allows for some more personality development in Cosette. Another important character in the musical is Javert, the police officer who we see pursuing Vajean but whom we can not empathise with as he comes across as unfair. He sticks to his rules, shows no heart and is dedicated to completing his work. Throughout there is a constant clash between Valjean and Javert and lots of drama and it is interesting when things get heated. Few more other important characters in the show, are Fantine who we see near the start of the show - a poor working class women, the mother of Corsette and we see her go through extremes to protect her child and ensure her safely. And then there's the Thernardier's - evil and abusers of Cosette as a child, selfish and money-hungry, but very funny as characters in the show and there is Epoinine, another very interesting character, since she is the daughter of the Thernardier's where we see her helping them of course with their pitiful work - but it is interesting to see her personality change as she falls for Marius.

      The cast: The cast of 'Les Miserables' on stage bring us the entertainment we paid to see and so they are expected to build up a connection with the audience as best as they can, capture our attention for around to 3 hours and leave us with an awesome musical experience. The cast were brilliant and they did a great job at doing all of that. Each of them portray their characters with acting and singing very well, the way it seemed was the best they could have, flawlessly without any obvious slip-ups and they are believable and appealing with lots of emotion, personality and humour where needed. The cast current include Gernonimo Rauch who plays Jean Vajean, Tam Mutu who is plays Jervet, Fantine played by Sierra Boggess, Cosette played by Samantha Dorsey, Marius played by Craig Mather, Eponine played by Danielle Hope (Dorothy from 'Wizard of Oz' before it closed in the West End last year) Other cast members include Cameron Blakely (Thenardier), Linzi Hateley (Madame Thenardier), Liam Tamine (Enjolras).

      Themes/Issues: Issues of a cruel society and its law and beggars versus petty criminal and its unfairness, self-sacrifice and bravery, love and death and trust and childhood, saving yourself, selling yourself, the treatment of women and their place in society and the attitudes of men, are some issues that go to make up the content of Les Mis. As the show opens we are instantly shown a level of poverty and the difficulties faced by these poor people and the song 'Look Down' which opens up the show illustrates this - it feels grim and oppressive as a start but then again we didn't expect a colourful musical anyway - so it was a perfectly appropriate beginning. As the story continues, we are taken along with a mixture of many more different themes: like plenty of horrors of unfair death, poverty, 'sacrifice' and abuse, romance such as the strong relationships and the developing love between Cosette and Marius/the beauty of the father-daughter relationship between Valjean and Cosette, then there is plenty of action like the scenes of battle on the barricade and not to leave out plenty of dramatic episodes through a journey of highs and lows. Although, like I mentioned, there is more to feel gloomy about when we see some of the more saddening revelations within the drama from the start to its very final scene, it still captures plenty of humour like the behaviour of the working class and other little unexpected bits here and there which was always a welcome addition. Overall this story is packed with lots of different themes but all of it leads back to poverty and hardship.

      The show/production: There is a lot going on on the stage and the pace of it is quick and the visuals are appealing - just how we would expect it to be really, so don't mistake the gloominess of its sbuject and the serious tones to Les Mis as dull! The actual stage has the effect, probably like most theatre productions, of drawing us into its setting were we see the effect of bricked paving outdoors during the night and windows and walls indoors and table and chairs, food and drink in the inns and additionally, the stage rotates on a revolving circular plate that makes up the floor of the stage to add some imaginative motion and reality to the drama. There are barricades brought onto stage later on which form in a rather outlandish way joining on either sides of the stage and used in scenes of the revolt with the actors on their guns that light and bang loudly, again keeping to the reality of the events as much as possible and really successfully. There is no spoken dialogue in the show - all is sung in a musical format unlike some others shows in the West End. I have to say I personally like a combination of spoken and sung, but then again I think the way we see it here works perfectly in this case and took us away with the powerful vocals since singing has more tendency to bring out greater emotive content.

      In terms of seeing the whole production comfortably, one thing I do think strongly is when deciding on which seats to finally book, 'Les Miserables' is one show you need to really make sure you are sitting as close to the stage as you can (like in the front or near the front rows of the dress or the stalls) since it is heavily based on the emotion that these characters are trying to show and so you really need to see their facial expression etc for the best effect - if you cant see there faces, that will be one element you will miss out on. The production of this show is really not like 'Wicked' or 'Lion King' where it is all really 'massive', hugely scaled, glitzy, bright colourful lights and really OTT where you could easily get away with a brilliant experience somewhere near the back. Les Mis is slightly more subtle than that and you might risk feeling slightly disconnected when sitting near the back - that is the mistake I made the second time round when I went to watch Les Mis - I thought I could get away with it, but I definitely couldn't (Although I did end up saving a bit of money anyway...!)

      Music/Songs: Since there is no spoken dialogue within the show and every bit of the story is sung, all of the songs linked from one to another tell the entire story of 'Les Miserables'. Live music from the orchestra sounded great and the songs are some of the catchiest of a lot of musicals out there. The story of 'Les Miserables' is not totally a piece of cake though - many people find it long-winded, confusing at times and you really got to concentrate, and so do I. It is sometimes difficult to follow the singing the first time you hear it especially when the songs are completely new to you and the first time I went to see it I found it difficult to pay attention to the lyrics of the songs, focusing more on the overall sound of it. So it may be a good idea to find out the basic plot before watching. The songs are still stunning though, and the sound is very powerful and intense. Some of the most popular well-known songs of Les Mis are: 'Who am I' sung by Valjean when he questions himself on who he is after stealing and he makes a wise decision at this point that we see following into the next song within the story. Another favourite is 'Do you hear the people sing' (singing the song of angry men) which is another well-known of the show since its most of the cast singing together and a song with basically sums up the entire musical and very uplifting all on its own; I Dreamed a Dream' - another favourite sung by Fantine where she is thinking back to her past and how her life was to how it is now when she is unhappy. And of course the list goes on....

      Overall
      ---------
      If you like a good show, with great songs and lots of meaning, action and depth then you should really get yourself tickets to go and see this - It will not disappoint. I really just can't recommend this musical any more than that! Of course I cant wait to see the new 'Les Miserables' movie in the cinema but going to watch it in theatre is a much more intimate experience that you wont forget as soon as you might the film. The only downside to this musical is that the tickets prices are generally higher than most other shows unless you are willing to sit somewhere near the back, in which case your experience might be poor. Overall a brilliant quality show, and this wont be my last time I see the show, I'm sure, one of the reason why a show like this still carries on after 26th years!

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      • The Orphanage (DVD) / DVD / 36 Readings / 36 Ratings
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        30.12.2012 17:47
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        Classic

        'The Orphanage'/'El Orfanato' is a Spanish horror thriller directed by J.A Bayona with Guillermo Del Toro in production (director of amazing fantasy fairytale 'Pan's Labyrinth', horror film 'Julia's Eyes' and the 'Hellboy' movies.) 'The Orphanage' was released in 2007, is given a guidance rating of 15 because of some of its frightening scenes and runs for one hour and 40 minutes. FIlm is in the Spanish language. 'The Orphanage' is rated a massive 7.5 out of 10 on IMDB. At first I couldn't imagine how a horror could be rated so highly, but once I saw it, I realised, this is not like most other horror films.

        Plot
        ------
        A woman named Laura buys the house she was once brought up in as an orphan. This house is a large and secluded orphanage. When Laura, her husband and their son Simon, move into the new home they learn there is more to Simon's 'invisible friends' than just a child's active imagination and a search for attention. When Simon's behaviour becomes stranger and all of a sudden he disappears, not to be found, Laura thinks it is something that it hanging about the house being the cause of all of this. With the help of paranormal investigators, will Laura be able to figure out what is happening in the house and get her son back?

        The film
        ----------
        The beginning: There is nothing directly creepy about the first scene of the film, but it still creates the effect of giving off a chilling feel which makes it a pretty powerful opening to the film. With a shot of the old mansion that is the orphanage and the garden in which the children are playing a game of 'knock on the wall', it opens us up into this orphanage - but this game the children are playing later comes into the film in a more haunting way with a scary story to go with it. The mansion we see in the first shot as the film opens is a gothic styled house and we learn this was once an orphanage. As the opening credits kick in, we get another horror styled theme, as we watch wallpaper being ripped off walls by little hands with credit names revealed underneath, creating a stunning effect. We learn a bit about the lead character's backgrounds and the little girl playing in the garden is an orphan but when we see her again (maybe 10 more minutes into the film) years have gone by, the same girl is now happily married, has adopted a son of her own and bought that same old orphanage she was once the orphan girl at. The opening of this story gives us the things we need to know about the story and has us started right away.

        The story: It is not the usual things like stunning visuals, the special effects or outrageous scares, nor blood, gore and horrifying scenes which makes 'The Orphanage' an entertaining film to watch - it is really just the simplicity of the story and reality of the themes that make up the plot which I thought had everything to do with this film actually being really captivating. The engaging plot keeps you guessing the direction its heading, making twists and turns during certain places in the film and although some areas admittedly felt as though it may have been seen before in other films with a slight over-lap here and there, that seemed too minor to even get in the way of the overall appeal. With a combination and mixture of horror, mystery, drama, psychological thriller and romance, the story really does have a traditional almost classic vibe to it, really far from any modern day horror story, since it is kept as 'true' and gritty as possible along with its uncomplicated and easy-to-recognise, maybe even relate, situations and so once you reach the ending you could see this being the type of film you would want to watch once again because of the convincing energy around the story-telling and going through all the events again just to re-watch the events with a new developed angle.

        Horror/Mystery: Since the film doesn't rely on edge-of-your-seat jumpy scares, it instead brings viewers to find other simple things occurring in this film as dark and sinister, like disappearances, the ghosts, and strange old lady, etc rather than just constantly and anxiously waiting for the thrills like those effective boo scares that are not always so appropriate. That is not to say the film is not scary! There are scary things that are always occurring mostly revolving around giving off a very unsettling tone. There are experiences the characters in the film encounters that are also creepy and there are 'sad spirits' of children wandering and haunting about the house, which is chilling. There are just a couple other shocking scenes in the film that you would have not really expected. The medium that visits the house to investigate and she was the one who suspects that there were these 'sad spirits' or 'crying children' in the house but to be honest, these particular scenes could have been a lot more frightening if they had been more to see as viewers. On the whole though, as much as this film might fall under the horror genre, it actually touches a lot more on mystery and fantasy first and foremost. It only becomes horror when Laura becomes obsessed with her past.

        Theme/Mood: The serious tone dominating the scenes has the effect of bringing out the pure eeriness you would imagine atmospherically within a film like this, with strong themes based around love, loss, death, haunting childhood memories, secrecy/silence, child illnesses, disabilities and imaginary friends. Also, visually to accompany the overall mood, the film looks and feels very grim. If you remember the film 'The Others', it seems to fit under the same kind of area and whilst watching you might think about that film a lot, trying to draw together likenesses, but 'The Orphanage' still manages to take its own road; even then the story is not entirely the same. I think 'The Others' wins though in the scary department by far! Either way, if you liked 'The Others' you will definitely enjoy this one. More thematic visuals includes those general things I would not want my horror film to go without - like a big gothic mansion-like house in which the plot unfolds within, lots of doors and rooms to get lost in and long dark corridors, along with its creaky floorboard and dim lights - a perfect setting for terrifying things to happen in. Other elements include: ghosts/spirits, parapsychologists, the police, grand piano playing (classic horror movie stuff), and (some) investigating!

        Special/visual effects: The actual digital or computer generated effects are minimal and mostly revolving around 'invisible' effects that look subtle and blend into scenes without really being highlights of the film or standing out too much. Clearly it stays away from blood, gore or abnormal things that normally look great in cinema, and focuses instead on the simplicity of presenting the story in an interesting and impressive way. Although this could actually sound a little empty, especially since it is a 'horror' film that contains plenty of supernatural occurrences - the least you would expect is glorified poltergeists (maybe)... But it happens to still works flawlessly and you could in fact appreciate the way it is presented a lot more this way with its 'hidden' and unobvious effects. Although there are a few scenes where CGI effects were used and is done nicely, like the scene where we see that horrific - on verge of hilarious - gruesome dead shot (which you'll know what I mean when you see) along with its shaky camera shots, was very weird and actually turns out to be very unexpected which is a good thing. Others visual effects like the way the children are given the 'appearance' of a ghost, accidents that happen, the effect of 'footsteps' in the sand or the idea of invisible friends are all pretty persuasive and nicely done.

        Audio: Throughout the film, we could notice the audio tones fitting and coordinating with the mood intended with watching the story unfold - the musical background sounds are unnoticeable most of the time as if it is something you might hear from a tense drama, though equally upbeat at other times during more happening moments to accompany those fast-paced scenes - like the 'treasure hunt'. Common sounds effects helped build up suspense like when the lead characters walks cautiously around the house in anticipation of finding something including things like doors creaking or slamming shut, creaky floorboard, the sound of rainfall and the thunderstorms outside. There are no musical sounds to initially open up the film but once it gets started it commences with some music in the background where tones do not sound very important but then the credits kick in, and gets very horror-like with the sounds of chords and that distinctive ripping of the papers off the walls. Again, the film ends very similarly, with sombre music because it suits the sad ending that concludes the film - the musical background would not have been any other way.

        Ending: The conclusion to the film was okay. It might have actually been slightly less promising than I expected, but then I suppose others would say it is this ending which actually makes the film special. Either way, it definitely turns out to suit the tone of the entire film and that 'sweet' and emotional ending was the likely route it was going to take, certainly standing out as different to the usual Hollywood horror story endings. Something this ending did remind me of was one of Guillermo del Toro's other films and it seems to fall under the same sort of style - you will know which I mean but on the whole though, the finale rounds up the mystery we were intrigued by during the main bulk of the film and it all falls into place really nicely. Overall, not exactly a twisted shocker of a horror ending but like I say it is THIS ending which people are going to love. The bittersweet touching finish might just have been the way forward.

        Overall
        ---------
        'The Orphanage' is like an 'old-fashioned' traditional where it never really gets shocking enough nor thrilling enough to have you scared out of your wits (which is what you might have expected if it is a horror film you decided to watch) yet the chills hover over you endlessly throughout the film - you might never really be able to pin-point exactly what were the most 'frightening' parts of the film as the entire film is subtly spooky and this is were the film seems to build up most of its strength. I've seen this film three times now and I always notice there are lots of things which make this film FEEL different to other horror films though it not necessary is and when you look deeper into 'The Orphanage' you might actually notice that it is just like other films - content-wise - minus the much-loved boo-scares, where there is nothing really extraordinary about its plot content. Take the ending of the film for example - this is a reason 'The Orphanage' stands up as bold and distinctive, yet it seems to be borrowed from another of Del Toro's films! So I decided that I think it is the telling of the story that is the most interesting to watch and actually really beautifully done, along with its pace, and the development of character and plot, which horror films seem to disregard most of the times; and so in the end it is really just down to the way the film brings on a connection between the viewer and its characters.

        Every film is going to have its plot holes however, and this film certainly doesn't come without them - but we don't question those as much because it is easy not to when this film brings on so many other brilliant things. Since the scenes and plot are nicely progressing, it will have you absorbed in its events, with occurrences that linger with you long after the film. Overall, this is a clever film (production) and I think quite rare to find, so this is one film definitely worth checking out and enjoying, whilst at the same time maybe being aware it may not be your standard cup of tea - whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I cant say, but I think the first time I saw it, I could easily have not liked it, as much as I did, it could have gone either way.

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        • Underworld: Awakening (DVD) / DVD / 46 Readings / 43 Ratings
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          16.12.2012 16:08
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          Great 4 out of 5

          'Underworld Awakening' is an American action fantasy film released in 2012 and directed by Bjorn Stein and Mans Marlind replacing original director of the 'Underworld' movies Len Wiseman. It is the fourth film of the 'Underworld' series, runs for an hour and 28 minutes and is given a guidance rating of 18 because of its violence and gory content. The film is rated 6.4 out of 10 on IMDB which is a great rating, but I would think the film has probably gotten a mixture of views because there is not much that goes in the film in terms of the plot, besides the action and fight scenes. This is not necessary a bad thing - it is still a entertaining film to watch.

          Plot
          ------
          When a Vampire woman Selene finds herself awoken out of cryogenic sleep, twelve years have passed and things have changed. She now finds herself in war against human beings who are out to rid of vampires and Lycans. The vampire needs to win a battle against this newfound enemy and the BioCom company run by these humans who are about to create a super Lycan force powerful enough to eradicate all. Along the way, she finds people she didn't expect to have met. Will she work with them to fight through another battle...

          The film
          ---------
          Beginning: The film starts the way 'Underworld Rise of the Lycans' ends (although the 'Rise of the Lycans' tells the story of the origin of the characters well before the events of the first film) but it flawlessly carries on from that third film. There is a nice recap of all previous events into one, so you would still be able to follow basically just like all the other Underworld films, where the background is from the viewpoint of Selene (Kate Beckinsale) with 'flashbacks', explaining the war between the vampires and the Lycans, all the way up until she meets hybrid Michael and how things got out of hand as the vampires turned on their own. You have got to be hooked right from this beginning to the film because of the way it just gets into the story right away. Once the recap is done with, the very first action packed scenes gets the plot moving some more. This then leads to the title of the film that kicks in and again without any breathers or gaps just carries on, months after the events of 'Underworld Evolution'. I thought this was a cool opening to get viewers right back into the Underworld films and couldn't wait to see more!

          The story: The story on the whole actually does take a bit leap into a new plot idea completely, as the vampires now have new enemies and these are not the Lycans. They are the human beings. The rest of the film continues to build on this, only downside for some maybe is that there is very little dialogue, but instead just thrives on straight-up action sequences with scenes of battle between these two kinds of characters. Along with this the story revolves around Selene's newly discovered daughter, and as it develops on just that and reaches towards the final scenes in the film, it almost feels as if it is made so that there is room for a fifth chapter and the purpose of this film was really just a bridge to a next one. If anyone gives this film bad reviews, I think it might be because of the fact that the story is so thinly spread over the entire film, and because the film is so short and over in an hour and 20 minutes. It didn't bother me though, and I think it was worth the wait. I think overall story-wise, the 'Underworld Awakening' still delivers and presents everything we would want a really engaging way even if felt as if we were watching a video game most of the scenes.

          Theme/Mood: General effects include typical gloomy and dark, almost grey-blue scenes throughout that are really characteristic of the Underworld films, contrasted during some scenes with the bright red of the blood, along with others themes like the science lab as part of the plot, test subjects, research experimentation, the usual supernatural characters, the city at night, guns, axes, needles. There might have been more focus on bringing out the emotional side of Selene, more so than the other films, in relation to her daughter and the situation with herself and Michael, bringing up more issues to do with family/friendship and the notion of love vs. war as well, of course. There is also the recurring theme of the past and history in which this 'war' is entirely based. Along with this, the film is packed to the rim with the same of all the usual - so there is nothing really new in terms of most of the themes revolving around this film. If you watch a little piece of this film, you could actually be watching any of the Underworld films! The intense non stop sequences of horror, blood and gore, fast moving battle scenes and fast paced special effects always achieve an awesome visual experience for the viewer. But you really need to be in the right mood to watch it. And also when watching at home, it probably needs to be watched in a very dark room since all the scenes are always so dark.

          Special effects: The special effects look and go beyond most of what we have seen in the previous film, but I think that had to be expected since the film is mostly just relying on the visual quality more than anything else. With the CGI Lycans, the killing techniques and all the gory violence, continuous fight sequences, and the wound healing vampires, these all bring out cool effects in the film. If you don't see the film in 3D, it should be obvious that this is a 3D film when, for example, the computer generated Lycans come jumping out at our screens - things like this are made just for 3D, but still look really great 3D or not. Other special effects include the usual things typical of Underworld films like jumping off of high rise building, jumping off walls, fighting the CGI werewolves, blood splat and Lycans transformation from human to werewolf form. As well as this, the special effects of vampire make-up, the effects of being frozen in a sleep, machine guns blazing and the effect of looking into the minds of the vampires all help bring out the best of sfx used in 'Underworld Awakening'.

          Audio: Epic background tone to the movie makes it fun and absorbing to watch - its sombre and dramatic sounds are exactly what we would want from this film and during dialogue scenes, we get intense musical background sounds and also throughout the film where there is no area left without any musical tone not being heard in the background. This just helps keep up the intense and powerful atmospheric nature of the film, and with a fast paced action adventure going on, we would want enough audio sound to make it as convincing as the brilliant visuals. During action scenes, we get sound effects that come across really nicely with the whole cinematic experience such as the loud machine guns, the sound of growling werewolves, the sound of blood splat and slicing, and the rain.

          The ending: The ending of the film I thought was pretty good. Even though the film was short, it rounded up to the final scene really nicely because once you reach the narrative in Selene's point of view that closes the film and where she tells us about the leading events, you don't think you would be able to wait to the see the next part of it. The purpose of this film might have been to get you ready for the next instalment to come, or if not if certainly felt like that was the main idea of it. But despite this lack of much depth in the story, the film was still definitely appealing enough to take time out to see and what part of a sci-fi horror vampire vs. werewolf adventure is not fun to watch? Also since this is a pretty short film, you could hardly consider it being a dull film as it never reaches a point of boredom really - although if it had gone on for any longer it might have started to get slightly same-ole, due to the lack of plot content. So overall the length of the film is just right and the ending of the film is just great.

          Overall
          ---------
          So this film is a continuation from the second one (Underworld Evolution), but even if you had not seen any of the previous Underworld films, it doesn't mean you can not still get hold of all of them and catch up on all that you have missed out on! Don't forget many film franchises have one awful release and maybe a couple more after that but this film is hardly like that! It is definitely a movie franchise worth being a part of and the best vampire vs. werewolf story there is. 'Underworld Awakening' may not have been up to everyone's standard but to dislike the film and pick out its bad points would be nit-picking.

          I like the pace of the film, all the new characters in this film, the new story to this film and that some characters we thought we had lost may make a return later on, the fact that it is open and ready for the fifth chapter to continue on from here. But I think that if there is to be a fifth film for release, it should have a big story and should also be released very soon otherwise people may loose interest! Overall, don't listen to the critics, and watch the film to make up your own mind about it. Must watch if you are into the Underworld film, if not, start from the first film! :)

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          • Red Lights 2012 (DVD) / DVD / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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            16.12.2012 16:05
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            Worth watching

            'Red Lights' is an American supernatural mystery/thriller directed by Rodrigo Cortes (director of 'Buried') and released in cinemas in June 2012 and out on Blu-ray/DVD in October 2012. The film is given a guidance certificate of 15 because of some of its spooky content and runs for an hour and 53 minutes. It is rated an impressive 6.2 out of 10 on IMDB and its cast of Robert DiNiro, Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy may have something to do with that.

            Plot
            ------
            The title of the film 'Red Lights' comes about as a terms the paranormal researchers use to describe the tricks and illusions used by fraudulent psychics and faith healers as a way to get people into thinking they have a special power and do extraordinary things. The plot revolves around these two sceptics that are physicians and their thoughts about these mind-reading people. But things start to get out of hand, when famous psychic Simon Silver comes back into the public after many years of being away and one of the physicians has an urgent need to investigate Silver's work however the other is not so keen and we later learn what had been troubling each of them in connection to their relation with Simon Silver.

            The film
            -----------
            Beginning: I had no idea what to expect from 'Red Lights' before I began watching it and other than the fact that I knew it was a spooky suspense flick with a big cast, I was keenly looking forward to what was in store, hoping it was mostly entertaining and contained nice surprises since the film's promotional poster/DVD cover looked great. The nice thing about the start of the film is that it doesn't hang about too long trying to build up the right kind of tone or mood - it already all seemed great from the very first scene and it just dives into the action very quickly. Here we see the two physicists/psychologists Dr Margaret Matherson (Sigourney Weaver) and Dr Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) visiting a haunted house in which a family have just moved in and this is where they are to perform a séance which gets the film rolling really nicely. From this first scene you've nearly gotten used to what is going to be expected from the rest of the film and it's almost like you would never expect a film with a start like this to ever get dull. It was creepy, interesting and suspenseful and unlike many other horror-suspense flicks, it was difficult to tell what was about to happen next.

            The story: This film has a great story idea - this is not totally surprising that a film like this will bring you a thought-provoking idea since viewers would have expected something imaginative and exciting mostly because of the way it was sold to us. However less than half way through the film, I couldn't help feel slightly disappointed. It had real potential to be very good but it turns out to be quite a boring representation of the idea that 'Red Light's' is trying to tell us . The strong point in terms of story for me was the controversial topic idea of demystifying the 'truth' behind psychic powers (and people with paranormal powers) and also that there is a twist in the story which I did not expect. It was nice to know, as I reached towards the conclusion of the story, that while watching the film there was something hidden from us and revealed later on to totally change what we knew. So on the whole, the story idea is appealing, it might not be that much of an original idea more generally as there are so many films that have done this many times before but I have to say here it does feel like an original idea in a few ways - as if no other film has used it before. Last thing I have to add is about the promotional poster referring to 'Red Lights' as the new 'Sixth Sense' - although it has the same kind of quality as that film, I think it really does not compare in terms of the amazing and surprising plot and spine-chilling timeless twist in which the story of 'Sixth Sense' brought to us.

            Characters: The film has great actors and clearly is one of main reasons a film like this would do so well. The acting is as anyone would have expected - the believability is spot-on and the strength in the performance is terrific, but what really came across poorly, like I covered above, was the way in which the story was told which then made the actors come across badly - these actors who normally do a good job in any other film seemed to have acted out a poor plot well. There are three main characters that the story revolves around: Robert DeNiro's character - a world-famous blind psychic called Simon Silver - convincing name and only a small part in the film. However his role is hardly as exciting as you would have initially thought it could be. You wait patiently for DeNiro's first appearance but after that it is mostly tedious - it might as well have been any other actor and not DeNiro playing that part. Either way though, he does definitely help bring out a puzzling character here and the psychic is so creepy - we learn bits about him as the film goes along but we can never really make sense of the person he is until we reach the end. Then there is Sigourney Weaver's character, the paranormal sceptic and physician who strongly believes against the work of fraudulent mind readers and faith healers. She has a very strong character and personality and her performance of this is persuasive and also likeable to viewers. She works with her assistant physician Cillian Murphy, whose character Tom Buckley, I thought was the most impressive. Maybe this is because as it turns out he has a slightly more of a leading role than the DeNiro and Weaver, and I think his acting of a guy who is mixed up is absorbing - I actually thought even though most people would not even bother with this film nor even care he appears in it, it is still one of Cillian Murphy's best roles. Finally Elizabeth Olsen also features playing the part of one of the students who takes interest in the work of Matherson and Buckley, and an interest in Buckley himself.

            The mystery / themes: Obviously this film revolves around a lot of obscurity and so there are lots of dark secrets, giving the film a sinister and bleak tone. The characters have dark pasts, we are let in on this helping with the character development - for example Matherson is troubled and it is interesting to hear her 'haunting' past experiences in life. But the obscurity behind other characters is set aside for a treat later on. Thematically, there are issues of science, reality/truth vs. fiction, love and death, faith healing, medical illnesses /comatose patients and the afterlife. It seems all areas are covered to get the viewers thinking and engrossed into its topics. The scenes within the film generally feel slow-moving and even though all are actually very relevant to the story and the story does keep moving along, the problem really starts unexpectedly when it all just becomes dull to watch and as much as you are drawn in by the interesting ideas, the story telling is poor, so you could find yourself fading away sooner than you would have liked. There are some bits of violence in the film and a few creepy happenings which suddenly allow things to liven up once again, but this was still not enough to make it super exciting and suspenseful.

            Special effects: The digital effects in the film, especially towards the end look stunning. CGI is always great in any film and I love those great ott mid-blowing effects especially when they really do look spectacular and enhance the impact of the plot we're seeing. As much as the CGI here was great here, it also however distracted me from concentrating on the story, because already the plotline seems to be a little bit astray. Brilliant CGI will let you forget it is artificially created because you will be wrapped up in the film, but the effects here just had the impact of just feeling quite mediocre overall. Special effects here revolved around explosions, dramatic glass shattering, smoke and fire, and all of this over theatrical music to go with the effects of course. Other more standard effects we get to see in the film revolve around things such as Silver's blindness, some spoon bending or the effect of watching a research documentary within the film to give it that effect of reality.

            Ending: The conclusion which is the twist at the end of the film is the big deal to this story, but the problem was it really did not feel as important as maybe it should have been made to feel because it was not made to feel very surprising at all and only a short amount of time was spent on it - in turn it was not very memorable. This was the twist that should have been spooky enough to send shivers down our spines and given it its 'Sixth Sense' comparison - but I do think that some might like it more than myself. So on the whole 'Red Lights' just turns out to give off an interestingly ending - it's likeable but it was not the highlight of the film for me. Either way though Cillian Murphy's involvement in the last part of the film was the best way to go. The ending where a twist is revealed mostly consists of a few flashbacks into events we have already seen in the film. I couldn't have said I saw it coming, and it was nicely kept under-wraps, so you probably wouldn't have been able to predict it.

            Overall
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            After watching the film from the opening credits to the closing, I would be lying if I said I was not interested in knowing what was about to happen in every scene following and how the film was finally going to conclude. So one thing is for sure, even if the film may be disappointing, it does keep you holding on interested in knowing more and this could be because of the persuasive acting and the interesting themes and topic, I don't really know, but I still can't understand why a film like this is so highly rated. So in the end, I think I have decided that this is the type of film people are either going to really enjoy and appreciate because they can relate to what the story is trying to tell us and the originality to the style of the film and others like myself are just going to expect a more upbeat pace and thrilling mystery, with lots of twists and turns, shocks and horrors which 'Red Lights' really does not bring us! It may just be a good idea to get hold of the film and watch it for yourself as you never know which direction you might go with this one - in which case you should just ignore everything I've talked about in this review. This one might just be your thing.

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          • The Box (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 24 Ratings
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            13.12.2012 20:50
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            Not bad

            'The Box' is an American mystery thriller film released in 2009 and directed by Richard Kelly, director of 2001 movie 'Donnie Darko'. The film is given a guidance rating of a 12 because of some of its violent scenes, and runs for an hour and 55 minutes. The film is rated 5.6 out of 10 on IMDB. I expected this film to be really different and since 'Donnie Darko' is one of my favourite films, I really wanted it to be something as good as that. But because of its sci-fi/fantasy horror/thriller mix and a poor plot to go with it, it may leave you in two minds about it.

            Plot
            ------
            A couple receive a box on the doorstep and are told if they push the button they will receive $1 million, but someone that they do not know will die. Is $1 million worth that? The couple need to decide in 24 hours before the box is taken away from them and passed onto to someone else who will then be made this offer. But this will potentially mean that they themselves may be the victim of death by this button if the next person decided to push it!

            The film
            ---------
            The beginning: The first few scenes of the film are very interesting and within a few minutes the box is introduced. It is an exciting concept to begin with and it is going to have the viewer engrossed into what this box is capable of doing, if anything - whether is it real, what's REALLY going to happen when the button is pushed? It's easy for the viewer to think that the characters think nothing will happen, but it's a movie of course so you wait patiently for them to push to the button. Basically, the idea behind this box is that if the button in this wooden box is pushed, it will bring that $1 million but they are aware and have been informed that this in turn will lead to the death of someone else that they don't know. It seems the main point is that they don't know the person who will consequently die, so will that hold them back for the sake of doing the 'right' thing? Either way, they need to decide fast because if the owner does not push the button, the box will be taken from them the following day and will be given to someone else, who in turn could potentially receive $1 million instead. So when an old smartly dressed man appears at their door upon receiving the box on their doorstep, he explains all of this, the box's purpose and meaning - his face is half deformed, you instantly realise that this film wants to really take mystery to a new level. But at this early stage it was difficult to take any of it seriously, as much as the tone of the film within these first few scenes is nothing but serious, we feel really aware that it is beginning to sound like a very unrealistic concept. The story is very nicely built up initially but once the beginning few scenes lead us into the main bulk, we kind of get what it is all about and there is not a great much more suspense - but it is something we'd want to continue with to see how it all works out (or not) in the end.

            Characters: The characters in the film play a simple part in building us up into their reactions to all of strange situations that they get are put through. It is definitely is interesting to see what they would do or how they would react to these particular situations and why they would choose to do what they do. But overall the role that these actors have to play was dreary and even though we might like the story, we can not form much of a connection with the characters and this was the first thing I noticed during the first few scenes of the film - it was disappointing. The dialogue was pretty bad and the interaction between any of the characters was slow and depressing. The characters in the film consist of Norma Lewis played by Cameron Diaz who is happens to be a teacher and one morning she picks up the box from their home doorstep. It seems she is the main decision-maker on whether to push the button or not. She is the wife of Arthur Lewis played by James Marsden and NASA employee. They also have a son. They are pretty broke, so it is interesting to see which direction they would go and why they chose that route. The man who arrives at their door who is the keeper of the box is played by Frank Langella, but there is not much we learn about him either apart from the basics, like how his face got deformed which we learn later on and his own opinion on this whole pushing the button thing, which is supposed to have added another dimension to the story. The characters just seem to be there to fill out the plot but there was nothing that stood out or was memorable about them overall.

            The story/idea: I really enjoying watching most kinds of films, and even if I don't particularly like a film, I tend to find something else that like about it such as the acting or the visual effects or maybe the story idea. But since there was not much I was crazy about in this one, I had to find out what this film was based on and what that original idea was really all about. 'Button Button' is what 'The Box' has been based on, and after reading about the short story, I decided that it may have been something which worked so well as a short story of the 1970's on television, but not so well as a feature length film - something that goes on for too long which should really be half the size is going to suffer. And so the characters in a short story are not necessarily meant to have strong personalities as those from a film where the characters and acting is one of the most important aspects of presentings the entire story! At the end of the day, this film was made out of one simple idea about pushing a button and its consequences - 'The Box' clearly gives us that, but when it runs dry we a driven into a repeat of movie 'Donnie Darko' where things don't always make sense (Donnie Darko pulls this of well), but 'The Box' might have lost its way by trying to be too wacky for its own good.

            Theme: There are so many topics and themes brought up into the plotline, and the entire film is really all about presenting these in and trying to make it a thought-provoking, intense experience for the viewer and hopefully getting the viewer involved into the case of what exactly would THEY do if they were faced with a scenario like this one. Well, first of all, we wouldn't be, and secondly, it was not captivating enough to have us engrossed into scenes as much as it might have liked. I never felt more disconnected, and this just increased and intensified from the middle of the film to the very last scene. But anyhow, it was nice that thematically the story tries to strongly touch on lots of interesting issues that you wouldn't have expected before you began watching - like the issues of human nature and instinctual choices and choices/thoughts of men versus women, money and guilt, selfishness and selflessness, love and loss, reality versus supernaturalism with the idea of time travelling - the time travelling idea that was already used in 'Donnie Darko'.

            The ending: The film ends the way we would have expected in some ways and in other ways I can tell that they are going for a clever kind of meaning to the consequences of this box, so at least it does round up the story quite nicely. But there was nothing spectacular about the conclusion which would have been brilliant here and definitely nothing is shocking - no twists and turns to make it even more exciting as it leads us out toward the end of the film. I couldn't help feeling it was really unconvincing and I found it really hard to believe even though it is a sci-fi fantasy, you are still expected to be convinced by what you are seeing, at least to some extent. And without giving away too much, I felt that the film seems to have ended up representing the idea of death as something so silly and straightforward that you can just give and take it so easily - really I would think there is more to the effect of life and death to people than just that. We see the couple make a few decisions about life and death as a result of the button, but really before people decide on those kinds of things, there are going to be deeper emotional concerns that people are going to naturally be tied down to as well - like the direct impact on other people. So, as much as the end of the film was maybe a show of selflessness, I thought it was actually showing a certain sex, like the woman, as actually being weak throughout the film.

            Overall
            ---------
            This film is more interesting when you haven't seen it than it is after you have seen it. Not knowing what this film really was about was far more appealing, than what we get on the whole. It feels very slow moving and because this film has been made from a short story with a simple concept, you can see that the content is lacking a little, which was bound to happen. Another thing is this film is set in the 1970's, all the scenes, costume, make-up, and anything else visually looks of that era but it makes the film feel really dated. Bringing it into the modern day rather than sticking to a past era would have been more relevant as that way the sci-fi fantasy element of it could have felt a lot more impressive. Either way, watch if this is your kind of thing, but don't expect any revelations like what 'Donnie Darko' gave us.

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            • The Crow (DVD) / DVD / 38 Readings / 38 Ratings
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              04.10.2012 21:31
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              Great film, must watch

              The Crow is one of the best action/horror films around - I'm sure anyone who has seen this box office hit would totally agree with me. It always reminds me of the Batman movies, and it is said to be reminiscent of it but I have never liked Batman, so this one always takes better place for me. The Crow is an American action movie released in 1994 and directed by Alex Proyas - starring Brandon Lee. It is based on a fictional adaptation of the 1989 comic book. Regrettably however this film had to take with it, a real-life tragedy in which Brandon Lee was accidentally killed during filming, during the last few days before shooting was complete. I will be reviewing the film only of The Crow - this film runs for roughly an hour and 40 minutes, and is given a guidance rating of 18. It receives a massive score of 7.0 out of 10 on IMDb which is very impressive, but am not surprised really!

              The plot
              ----------
              When Eric and his fiancé are brutally beaten up and murdered by a group of thugs in Detroit, a crow awakes Eric from his grave a year later, to avenge the death of himself and his fiancé. Eric follows this crow who leads him on his mission to hunt down the killers, bringing each one of them down. He also learns that coming back from the dead has given him a phenomenal super-human strength where he cannot be physically harmed.

              The film
              ----------
              The Beginning: The story begins with scenes of the crime where Eric and his fiancé Shelley were attacked in the loft of the house they lived - we see that the crow is present and perched at the window and watching all that is happening. Eric died there and then, however his fiancé fights for her life, is taken to hospital but dies later, although Eric never got to learn when she died or how. A year goes by and one rainy night, we see both their graves; a crow lands on Eric's and we see the ground breaking as he emerge from underneath. It doesn't take too long for this part of the film to get started - this was the moment we were all waiting for after all and it doesn't allow us to lose interest anytime soon. So overall a really great and exciting start to the film.

              Theme: The issues within this story such as murder, love, pain, vengeance, death are all what make this film as powerful as it is. I suppose some viewers may find it all a little bit too clichéd, but there is nothing wrong with the re-use of some useful subject elements as long it is really effective for the story. Only thing was maybe we get too much of are those over-the-top scenes lovey-dovey flashback scenes of Eric and his fiancé - it does lean towards corny but this I guess it is just a way of illustrating Eric's sentiments and his past with his girlfriend. The film also features a small car chase, a cemetery, a lot of rooftop-perching, scenes inside a church, plenty of guns, knives, explosions, nothing but night scenes and of course it's always raining at night, and this night-time rainfall helps really bring out its extremely dark and gothic quality. Additionally the fact that Eric chooses to go with a Halloween sort of image for himself with the white face paint, dark eyes inspired by the masquerade mask hanging beside the mirror in his home, is pretty gothic in itself. Other thematic features include criminals, rape, coke heads, a Halloween wedding (which never took place), rock bands and gigs, arsonist, settling scores and maybe karma? And just basically decadence - the story strives on it, which makes it what it is.

              Characters: The protagonist of course is Eric. It is the crow that essentially makes Eric the way that he is. Although we actually don't get to learn too much about Eric personally other than he was to be married and was a musician, we still feel as though we have gotten to know him pretty well. Brandon Lee's acting as a guy in deep pain is so strong, effective and incredibly convincing and because of that, we are rooting for him right from the very start. Lee's version of Eric is also good because there are bits which actually make you smile - his attitude and the way he approaches people; some of his one-liners are witty and just amusing. He may be fighting a battle of deep sombre, but the nice thing is there are times when it's clear that this film knows how to show off an alternate side. Another of the lead characters within the film is the little girl called Sarah (Rochelle Davis), who was looked after by Eric and Shelley. She starts of the film and ends the film too, almost like it is her that is telling the tale, which is a nice touch. She has issues of her own mostly revolving around her drug-addict mum, which is the reason why she is taken care of by Eric and Shelley. All of the bad guys, we don't really get to know but thankfully we really don't need to, as they are to be killed of pretty fast. Their presence is basically what is needed, without too much other contribution, though of course their bizarre gang names like Funboy, Tin-Tin, Skank etc, may helps suggest their personalities without having to go too deep into it. What I learnt about the way this film goes, is that it seems only what is important to know, is important for the viewer to know. It doesn't mess around with fillers or useless bits and pieces of story-telling - even those flashbacks have a reason in the film, as pointless as they may seem - but the importance is in the mysteriousness of it all. And in turn it is the use of the characters that allows this film to build up in strength while we pick up the pieces towards the end.

              The action/horror: We already know it's a love-story but the action in the film revolves around scenes of revenge as a result of the loss of love. So knives and guns as usual - but also the use of martial arts mixed in with lots of suspense equals some really good fast-paced action scenes. Furthermore I like to think this film is horror as much as it is action - it may technically not be classed as a horror film - but I would argue that it has all the right ingredients in order for it to come under the horror genre. It is not scary horror but then horror doesn't all have to be frightening all the time - it just has to give of the right vibe. Firstly, Eric is actually a zombie, like it or not, he is a dead man come to life - that means he is a zombie! We see him emerge from his grave. Secondly, the film is almost a slasher-flick - this is where a character, normally the villain (not in this case though) stalks all of his victims (who are bad-guys in this case) hunts them down and tortures them. The killer normally has a slight psychotic tendency and is a little bit unstoppable in these types of slasher-films - totally the case here (yes, I know he's doing everything he is doing in the name of love, but still CRAZY-in-love...).

              Special effects: Obviously a film eighteen years old is going to show CGI as that of its time but what we do get in the special effects department is perfectly great for the film as a whole. Don't even bother comparing it to digital imagery or effects of today as there is no point, but the special effects used for things such as fire blasts and bullets like Eric's bullet wounds, and all the other action scenes, are great but what in turn completes the film (or has allowed the film to be completed) is the use of a body-double used for the last few scenes of the film, after Brandon Lee was shot in real-life. His face was digitally imaged onto the body double, and the truth is if you hadn't have known that, you wouldn't have noticed either - it is that good. The way the film was finally edited, completed and the way it all ties together at the level it's at right now is seriously stunning.

              Visuals: On the whole, if we leave out the help of the digital effects, there is no denying that the film today does look pretty dated but yet still the imagery we do see is very powerful; it could be that it is actually the age of the film which further helps bring out that gritty and murky side of it even more so than it should in some ways I suppose, but the fact that the film seems entirely colour limited - favouring the dark colours - allows it to look incredibly stylish I'd say. However Eric's flashbacks are very vivid in colour and it's obviously drawn the colours as a symbol and emphasis of the happy and brigher times of his life. Like I mentioned earlier, even though I'm not a fan of the Batman films, I still like the idea of it - the dark figure in the night, the tall buildings in the urban city ideal for flying off of etc, and the scenes around the city in The Crow is not far off from this Gotham City kind of thing.

              Atmosphere/Mood: The film is chilling, moody, and gives off an eerie tone. The mysteriousness of the crow is class, and I think this is how it goes to build up that haunting atmosphere that this film is sought after. It is a passionate and heartbreaking story all the same - its emotional and engaging from the start and with scenes where Eric and his fiancé are killed, and although this is an upsetting start, we watch and watch some more until we get great satisfaction with the direction the story is taking us - justice is being made, making room for an uplift and fulfilment but never allowing to set aside the fact that death is constantly hanging around the corner. The atmosphere we get from this film maybe holds just as much strength as the acting and the characters, making it a really unforgettable experience.

              Audio: There is a lot of Eric sitting on rooftops playing at his electric guitar again and this just helps with setting that underground grunginess the film looks out for. But along with that, one thing you will notice is the constant drone of police sirens, and the sound of the city at night - echoey, empty and lonely. Music-wise bands featured in the soundtrack include Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, The Cure, etc., though nothing too amazing; it is a pretty industrial soundtrack though maybe it could have been better - more bands from the soundtrack playing in the background during the film would have been nice, but also a more stunning soundtrack of similar style - more electrifying and so much more angst - would work perfectly. Either way though what we have here is fantastic enough and great for its time.

              Ending: Towards the end we realise that there is more to Eric and his crow than just the fact that he is a man back from the dead. There is a way to capture his weakness (or his strength) and once the bad guys discover a way of bringing down Eric, the suspense really kicks in at another level; the last thing we want to have as the conclusion to the story is Eric not successfully completing his quest for revenge and sweet justice. I do think the final few scenes are the best of the entire film, by that I mean probably the last 20 or so minutes of the film. The violence doesn't end, and so doesn't the building up of the story. Towards the ending we are reminded again about the meaning of love. It's a bittersweet ending, because even though its a happy one, it's still shattering. I personally have never been able to see how this film can be made into a sequel. I think it should have just been left as "The Crow" starring Brandon Lee and not prodcuced any sequels from it. Either way though I think a modern remake would be cool - I'd definitely be up for that.

              Remake?
              -----------
              A remake is due to be made of this film, apparently to be released in a few years. It was said that Bradley Cooper was to take the role of Eric but dropped out. Mark Wahlberg was to take the role instead which could be good...I don't know if it's exactly certain who is to be the next Eric, but either way, I think it could be a really great remake if done properly, with its contemporary twist. I do like a good remake, I have no problems with them if they are good, and I think that a modern take on this kind of dark comic book action film would really work so well with the help of new technology and the use of CGI that wasn't available during the mid 1990's. Whenever it's released, I'll be there to watch it! Either way though, I feel the anger rising already in those extreme fans of The Crow who may HATE and want to throw-up at the idea of a modern take on this cult classic. Times change though, things get recycled a lot these days...

              Overall
              ---------
              Although anyone could easily suppose this film is about action, violence and nothing much else, there is more to it than just those things. It has to offer so much more - it also covers so many different genres from romance to horror, action to fantasy and adventure making it so clearly suited for all, and allowing it to pull in a wide audience. With solid performances from the lead actors, it is as convincing at telling a tale as any other full-on drama; it's a clash of opposites that really messes with your mind and make you marvel at how it could work so well - it's depressing yet it's energetic, it's a tale of eternal love but it's all about death, it's compelling but it's morbid - and you try to argue it doesn't work...but it's impossible! It's an incredible film, everything has its own place and Brandon Lee made this film what it is at the end of the day. If you haven't watched it already, what are you waiting for?

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              • More +
                01.10.2012 13:51
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                Must see at least once!

                Billy Elliot is not one of the musicals I would usually choose go to see, as I normally go for the more magical, colourful and mysterious types of shows but I was really glad I did go to this show. And since it is much different to my usual, I found it to be as beautiful as those in its very own way; In my opinion, even though it may not have been as enchanting or romantics as some other shows, its emotional and expressive content amongst its very gritty feel, made the show something very special. "Billy Elliot" is now in its 7th year and still is one of the most popular musicals around. It is a show that attracts a large diversity of audiences which not a lot of musicals are actually able to do. And there is a reason for this...

                About Billy Elliot
                --------------------
                Billy Elliot is based on the story of the British Film of the same name released in 2000. The popularity of the film allowed for the success of this musical show and once the show was opened, it gained interest all on its own. The film won a BAFTA for best British film in 2001 and the musical production which was opened in 2005, won the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2006. The show is a part comedy, part social-political musical.

                Schedule
                ------------
                Billy Elliot is performed twice a day - in the afternoons and evenings; however no shows on Sundays. The matinee can be seen on either Thursday, Friday or Saturday at 2.30pm and the evening shows can be seen at 7.30pm each day of the week (except Sunday). The show runs for 3 hours with one intermission in the middle of 20 minutes.

                Getting there
                -----------------
                Victoria Palace is situated close to the even larger theatre the Apollo Victoria currently showing "Wicked". The best ways to get to the Victoria Palace however are either by Underground or bus if you are already in London. To travel by Underground, head towards central London (zone 1) and get onto the Victoria (blue) or Circle/District (yellow/green) line which will stop at Victoria Underground station; the theatre is a very short walk from there - you will actually see it as you exit the station. There are some close by bus stops near the theatre, so any of the buses that stop there may be even more ideal for you than the underground.

                Seating plan
                ----------------
                The price you pay for your ticket varies so much depending on a number of things such as which month you go and how far in advance you book; you also need to know which area of the theatre you roughly want to sit in and this depends on your personal preference too. Below are different areas you could choose from, although officially Victoria Palace offers "Stalls", "Dress Circle" and "Grand Circle".

                * Stalls: Stalls are usually all on one flat level without any gradient and all the stall seats are located in roughly the front half of the theatre. They are on a level lower than the stage so you will be looking up at the stage from these seats. Even though Victoria palace is not incredibly big, the seats in different areas of the stalls section varies so much, so make the decision according to the row number offered; back rows of the stalls are bad seats in my opinion - the best of the stalls are normally in the middle, but at Victoria Palace I would say the best of the Stalls are the first few rows. Prices range from £50-60 at the middle of the Stalls to £70 near the front, to even £30 near the back rows of the stalls.

                * Dress circle: My personal preference is the dress circle. I like looking down on the stage from a high level, and since you are at that height you should have an aerial view of the stage. At the Victoria Palace the layout is slightly different to other theatres as the Dress Circle here is directly below the Grand or Upper circle. I have not sat in the Dress Circle of this particular theatre or been on that level so I don't know what the experience is like there, but I would think you will have a much better closer view of the stage as you will be on a good level in relation to it. The ticket prices of the dress circle, again varies according to whether you are sitting in the rear or the front of the dress circle or whether you are sitting on the sides. Ticket prices of the Dress Circle are much higher at this level from around £60 - £65 at the back of the Dress circle to around £80 at the front row.

                * Grand(upper) Circle: The Grand Circle is quite high up - not as high as some theatres, but the further back you go on Grand circle level the higher the level you will be at, though it will reduce your view of the stage at the same time. What you should go for are the front row of the Grand circle - this is not a bad view and these are the seats we had right in the centre of that front row. You should go for these because the price in comparison to the level below (dress circle) is amazing. You will only be paying around £35 - £40 for these seats. They are labelled as "restricted view" seats at that front row, since the safely barrier will be in your line of sight, but you can fix that as long as you are not bothered with leaning slightly forward. And for us, I don't think this really took away any of the good experience - the show was still the same and we saw every bit of it. All I would say is not to go for the last section of the Grand circle. These tickets can be bought for as little as £25-£20 but you won't be able to see facial expressions as much, and could make you feel slightly disconnected from the show. It might not be worth that £25.

                * "Sides" & "Centre" Rows: If the seat you choose is on the edges of the theatre (like the early or later numbers 1-5 or 36-39) these can be awkward seats most times as you might not get the "full" experience that you'd get when sitting as near to the centre seats as possible and could ruin your experience I think. Prices here could be a little as £15 if your right on the edges.

                Overall, when you purchase your tickets, it's a good idea to check the theatre seating plan map to see what seats exactly you are paying for and if they look as though they are awkwardly positioned in the theatres, you may be better off just avoiding them and go for others at similar prices instead. Other than those few things, the majority of the seats are not too bad and all relative to how suitably you want to see the show and therefore how much you want to pay. I have always avoided side seats and the stalls and also have never paid more than £40 - £50 per seat (for any other theatre show) and we always go for the front row middle dress circle. Always do the seating plan research and recognise what's better!

                The Show
                -------------
                What is it about: "Billy Elliot" is set in a small industrial town in 1984 in the North of England and revolves around the story of a boy's beautiful ambition and dream of ballet dancing. When one day he suddenly learns he has a passion for dancing, it is not as easy for him to achieve the dream and progress on it, because with his father dead set on him attending boxing classes instead and possibly becoming a miner like himself and his brother, Billy confidence can't be right up there. With intense situations within the community such as the UK Miner's strike, the family are lacking the money coming in and the general living condition is poor for them - and because of that, there is a lot of anger, aggression and violence constantly around, making it a pretty grim atmosphere most of the time. It seems nothing could really change that - all until the point in which Billy takes his 50p coin for his boxing lesson, and gets caught up in a girls ballet class instead! There is fun, humour, entertainment revolving around scenes like this and it seems that "Billy Elliot" is basically balancing these two different things together, making for some very moving and expressive performances.

                The characters: The character Billy Elliot is a regular kid, but seems bored and sad most of the time. Within the show, we are shown him taken on a lot of responsibilities for a boy his age, like taking care of his Grandmother and dealing with the unhappiness of the loss his mother. He never forgets his mother and we as viewers know this when there are appearances of the ghost of Billy's mother on stage. He seems to keep his feelings to himself, but things like this allow us into Billy's world. I would have thought the second most important character of the musical was Billy's father Jackie, whose simple view is that all men should be in the working industry - that is the prospect of life and the way money is to be brought home in order to provide for a poor family. When Jackie sends Billy to boxing classes, there is fury from him - but although at first, see him as a heated, shouty person, and someone depressed a lot of the times, we later see a different side develop that is tolerant, and there is also humour on stage in representing this. Another important character to the show is Billy's teacher Mrs Wilkinson, who is the partly the reason why Billy can develops this stunning talent - she is the most important person in Billy's life at the time of the show. Her character seems to be taking care of Billy and she almost comes across as a mother figure for Billy. There are lots of other interesting cast members involved with their own unique characteristics such as Billy's Grandmother where comedy is offered to us when she keeps forgetting things. Then there is Billy's brother Tony, whose part in the show/story is mostly to discourage Billy from taking on dancing and Billy's friend Michael who presence seems to be a chance for Billy to open up and also opens up the funny side of things. There are also the group of the other miners and the policemen - the miners on the whole seems pretty bad-mannered most times, they are mostly angry because of their situation, but what's interesting is that despite all of their crudeness, they are represented to the viewers in a way that we feel for them and understand where they are coming from. Overall, most of the characters that we see on stage are of course characters that appear in the film - but the way they are presented on stage has given us a stronger connection than we seemed to have had in the film.

                The cast: The cast of "Billy Elliot" changed in February 2012. I saw the show just before the alteration, so when I watched it, Billy was played by 13 year old Kaine Ward (November 2011), however they alternate with other casts of Billy as well mostly due to the young ages - Ryan Collinson, Josh Baker and Adam Vesperman. Currently Billy is being played by Harris Beattie, aswell as with Ryan Collinson and Adam Vesperman. But it's clear they all do an amazing job, by the general popularity of the show. Each member of the child cast playing the characters are very impressive in their own right. And since the show is live and a large part of it is run by children, it seems to still stay at a very high level - there are hardly any noticeable slip-ups and this just goes to show up the excellence of the cast and the production. Other cast members include Deka Walmsley as Dad "Jackie Elliot", Michael Pevoy as brother "Tony Elliot", Gillian Bevan as "Mrs Wilkinson" and Connor Lawson as Billy's friend Michael.

                Theme/issues: The story of "Billy Elliot" almost feels something like a Dickens tale - a young poor boy in a rags to riches tale - but instead of 19th century social issues, we have the 1980s issues of the struggle of worker's rights and Margaret Thatcher of course. Basically, the central issue that "Billy Elliot" is based on is the social political difficulties of the working class groups. Some people have believed the musical to be a moving story since is touches on typical life stories of what people of the Northern England went through. I can't say it fits into my experience, but coming from someone that it doesn't, I have to say that watching it on stage felt like seeing a true experience of a family. Everything about it felt genuine and important. I think the main reason a show like "Billy Elliot" can attract such a wide range of people and aim to please them all is because, for those who would prefer a more stronger story over the singing/dancing, this show definitely caters for that. Along with the political issues we expected from the show, it doesn't end there because, we then have other (as important) matters intertwined within it all such the dealing with death, friendship, responsibilities, and the rights and wrongs in an oppressive society. This show simply offers more than just what you would have imagined. Before I saw the show, I did think that it would be very similar to the film, but direct it's focus slightly more on Billy and his ballet. But I found that was not entirely the case - this show seems to manage to touch on a whole lot more than just that and I think that makes it very special.

                The show/Stage setting: What is fantastic about the show is that although it is not as grand as shows like "Wicked" or "Phantom of the Opera", there are other things within it that really win you over. It's not just all about a massive, striking stage and set to please the audience. In regards to the stage and setting of the show, from the start we get the idea of the condition and standard of Billy's family home and establish it is pretty poor and basic, just as we remembered from the film. The kitchen seems shabby and the dining area looks untidy and scruffy. On stage, Billy's room can be seen at a higher level which is a nice touch. This set which then disappears under the stage, is later converted into a dance/boxing class hall. With chairs all around and a piano playing stage in the background, the hall could feel pretty similar to any evening class you may have attended as a kid. Other scenes brought out include a loo where Mrs Wilkinson usually has a smoke, a scene that changes into an audition hall and a stage at the Royal Ballet school; all of these settings seem to be prepared very simply but as much as it may look pretty plain, you can tell that there has been a lot of attention to making sure that we get the impression of the "realness" it needs. Other scenes consist of miners and their picketing line, and policemen opposing. We also see a lot of smoking of real cigarettes on stage, like the scene with the policemen have their dance and smoke, and even though we were not actually very close to the front, we did get whiffs of smoke drifting up to our seats.

                Special effects that we see on stage are reasonably impressive, like the snow falling during the outdoor scenes, and it was nice that it was actual white bits falling from above, not just lights making it appear as snow. And of course, the most incredible scene of the entire show: the Swan Lake scene. Even if it's for this scene that you went to see the show, you probably would have made your money's worth - it is that fantastic. In regards to the effects, we see the smoke that swallows up the stage beautifully, making it look really heavenly and was probably the most magical scene of the entire show. You might already know that within this scene Billy is dancing, along with an older version of himself. And since both of them are incredible dancers, I just found it difficult to focus on which one to look at - I found myself looking at the older version a lot more, and this older Billy having more experience did look as though he was a stronger and more powerful dancer. It was a little bit distracting but not really in a bad way - both were brilliant dancers. Overall, and as you could tell, I thought the show in general was perfect and what completed it to that towering level were the musical songs that went to compliment the entire show.

                Music: The songs composed by Sir Elton John, alongside lyrics by Lee Hall, may be impressive enough to let us to have our very own favourites but aside from Elton John's songs, I do think everyone's favourite musical performance is probably the Tchaikovsky musical piece of the Swan Lake scene. Other favourites of mine would include the performance called "Expressing Yourself". This one was funny, camp and just completely off the wall! It involves lots of over-sized dresses coming out on stage doing their own thing and cross-dressing boys having a lot of fun. You just have to watch it and see how it nicely fits into the show. Another of the great ones and probably one of the most popular is "Electricity". Not only is this an important part for the story, but it is also one of the most important moments for Billy himself and it is through this song (and dance) that he expresses why it is that he likes to dance, and how he feels when he dances. It is "Electricity" in which Billy happens to perform in front of the judging panel and he performs this in front of his doubtful Dad. In contrast my least liked musical number was probably the Margaret Thatcher song called "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher" - and I know it plays and important part to the story, but it sort of got me slightly bored. It is Christmas themed, with Thatcher puppets, so it just felt very tacky, but then I suppose it was the look that was intended since it takes place at the Miner's annual Christmas party. Margaret Thatcher is seen as the "enemy" of the miner's strike and so she can't be shown very nicely, but it is a fun show, and there is a lot of drunken singing, which also felt slightly mediocre. In the end though, it turns out to be quite an emotional affair, when Jackie remembers his late wife. Finally just to add one more, another of my favourites would have to be "Angry Dance" - I'm pretty sure there was something similar in the Billy Elliot film, but it always reminds me of that great angry warehouse dancing scene by Kevin Bacon in Footloose, in its very own way...Either way though "Angry Dance" just brought out a lot of emotion and that passion for dancing within Billy, which was really powerful and exciting to watch. Overall, really great music throughout that keeps the story running flawlessly.

                Overall: Worth the money?
                ---------------------------------
                The show really does take you through a mixture of emotions which I think makes it a lot more interesting to watch. At one point you get the tension and the anger in the strikers you feel brewing, and understand their sense of uneasiness which is so right. Other times you feel happy for Billy and find yourself having a laugh with Billy's father Jackie later on, which we never expect; then we feel the realness of the loss of Billy's mother where every moment in relation to it feels truthfully heartbreaking. Also, there is some strong language in this show, but it seems to be focused as a means of representing the realities of the working class lifestyle. However thinking about it, I actually did think that even if the language was not included in the show, there is no way it was have affected the storyline in any way or even played a negative part in its success.

                On the whole, what makes Billy Elliot a great theatre musical is that the whole family could definitely go together to watch it since it is bound to have something in there that will make each person in the family smile. It also focuses on the idea of following your dream which has a deep meaning to many people who don't have that much needed confidence. Maybe some kids may find a little bit of Billy Elliot in themselves, and maybe some Dads feel they need to be a bit more broad minded and open up like Jackie does and since it's a live show, the connections on stage could feel a lot more intense and deeper. I have only seen the show once, and even though I admit I don't think it's the type of musical I would really want to go and watch again, I did enjoy every moment of what I saw in the theatre that night, and I am really glad I chose to go and watch Billy Elliot over any other show, as now I really know what all the fuss was about! Definitely worth the money I paid for the ticket, and I think it's a show absolutely worth going out to catch - at least once

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                • White Noise (DVD) / DVD / 37 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                  24.09.2012 15:25
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                  Good film but not to take too seriously!

                  White Noise is an American supernatural thriller released in 2005 by Universal, directed by Geoffrey Sax and produced by Paul Brooks. The film is rated a 15 due to some frightening scenes and runs for around an hour and 40 minutes. It is rated 5.4 out of 10 on IMDb which is not a bad score. This film does not really have much to do with the truth about Electronic Voice Phenomena but it does take on the supposedly real-life phenomena and use it as the structure of the story of the film giving it a spooky and haunting show to look forward to.

                  What is that white noise...
                  ---------------------------------
                  Thomas Edison believed that electronic technology could be used to make a connection to the dead via transmission waves. This became known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) in the 1920s. Electronic Voice Phenomena is actually used to refer to any random or unintentional voice recording picked up from the static of, for example, a radio station - the term white noise is basically the name given to electrical sound or noise with lots of continuous frequencies. However "White Noise" the film, is not talking about those but the paranormal transmissions that are scientifically said to be identified where a means of communication between the living and the dead from the "other side" have been found. And of course this makes for some great techno-horror, and that's how this film goes with it. Just remember that everything is about the film is made the way Hollywood likes it.

                  The basic plot
                  -----------------
                  When an architect's wife fails to return home after a freak accident during a thunderstorm, she eventually returns to him (Michael Keaton) from the dead. But it seems that she is not just trying to contact him through his radio, his phone and his television...there is more to it; There is a message she is attempting to communicate to him, which could really make a difference to another person. But over the hazy static and the unclear meaning of her messages, will he come to make sense of it before it's too late...

                  The film
                  ----------
                  The beginning: The start of the film begins with a few lines about EVP which gets up into the frame of the film. The little introduction and few facts about this phenomenon does initially make it feel true to life slightly and therefore expecting the story of the film to be a lot more disturbing and shocking. The first few scenes with the opening credits revolve around black and white static filled TV screens. The story does not take too long to get started; after Jonathan's wife dies, the first contact through the phone is made right away. Since we never know what is going to happen next and since all of this is all pretty intriguing anyway, we are easily glued to the screen during these opening scenes of the film. I was looking forward to more of this.

                  The characters: After a brief introduction to the family during the start of the film, we learn the Jonathan Rivers is an architect, his wife is a well-known writer and they have a son, whose mother is Jonathan's ex-wife - that is as much as we really need to know and since we never really get to know any of the characters in detail, I think this allowed it to work with the whole tone of the film - the mysteriousness of the actual story and so the characters too. Michael Keaton as Jonathan is terrific - the story may not be that great but the way Keaton plays his part in all of this, made me appreciate what I was seeing. And even though his character does seem unclear and distant most of the time, the emotion that builds up in him later on in the film is in turn convincing and compelling to see. The young boy (Jonathan's son) it seems is just there as a distraction and to "humanise" Jonathan in a way, and not make him look too cut off from reality as his son doesn't really have much of a part to play in the story. His ex-wife offers Jonathan support, so this again goes to build up some more sympathetic emotion. The other character who is by Jonathan's side through most of this film is Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger) who is in the same situation as Jonathan - we don't know all of the story but we do know her fiancé passed away and has experienced contact from him. It seems it was through her character that in turn helps Jonathan to communicate to the viewer what he is thinking more than anything else. Her presence as much as it is necessary for the viewer to understand Jonathan, just seems to be there to help the film move along. Another of the characters that plays an important part in the story is EVP expert Raymond (Ian McNeice) who introduces or invites Jonathan into this EVP world and since his identity at first is unclear, it builds up that much-needed anticipation which is great! So basically the characters are as simple as that - they all seem to be put in the film to help make Jonathan what he is.

                  The horror: Once Jonathan learns more of trying to pick up messages from his dead wife, he becomes almost obsessed with it, and so we KNOW something is going to go very wrong...and as promised it does. The scares within the film only start to kick in though, half way through and even though it does take a long time for the actual scary bits of the film to come in, it does not feel it took a long time to arrive, which is a good thing. I think this just goes to build up a lot of suspense and intensity. This film is slightly addictive, so all along we carry on watching, it keeps us waiting and waiting, really helping to built up the picture and once it reaches a stage in which we feel something big is likely to happen we already get that unsettled feeling - and even though the majority of the frights which are mostly towards the end of the film are not incredibly horrifying , we can still give it credit for being eerie and pleasing. Despite that however, the rest of the film is built on typical scare tactics like when the character or the viewer concentrates intensely on a TV screen trying to decipher a message, and then - obviously - something pops out of the screen in order to make you jump: that is a part of what the scares in White Noise consist of.

                  The story: I think it's a nice idea to use the story of a supposedly true to life occurrence - if it's done properly it could give a real spooky authenticity but this film doesn't feel realistic to be perfectly honest and I think this is really just down to the way the producers of the film want to go with it. If you have seen the trailer of the film, the phenomena is taken very seriously, where we are given examples of some strange voices that were actually picked in from static in radio waves during the 1970s - One says "Get out of my house!". Now that's frightening. This makes it's a strong film trailer, which not only allows the film to seem fascinating enough to want to check out but pretty horrifying too. So as much as the occurrence may be real, there is more to the film in order to allow the story to go somewhere else interesting as well. The fact that his wife is trying to give him a message and what he discovers from it is quite chilling and it's a fun part of the story that we wouldn't have guessed was going to be part of it. I like this addition (or "twist") to the story.

                  Special effects: The majority of what are probably the most fear-provoking scenes are towards the end of the film. The only thing is this film is about EVP and it is supposed to about muffled voices of the dead communicating through television or radio frequencies - how do you present that in a exciting way? Well, that is where the film takes a turn in order to give the viewers its usual horror requirements it seems - so we get ghosts. I did think it was all about voices, but we get actual physical ghosts that come out of the transmissions (yes, somehow, OUT of the TV screens) and scare the hell out of Jonathan. This is definitely Hollywood's answer to picking up the film a notch - maybe without it, it may have started to get slightly tedious I suppose, but this is also where the special effects have a chance to come out and play. Although the ghosts did look a little bit cartoony at the end of the film with the help of digital effects, it did go on for ages and with all those sounds and the recurring image that we see, it was effective. Either way though all the images that we do see of the ghosts and spirits are all distorted and very few, so when we do see them, we get the full impact which is good. Other use of special effects within the film involve things such jumping out of windows, car destruction, lots of shadows, glimpse of paranormal things which are supposed to be spirits of the demon and can't really make out..

                  Theme: The film revolves around aspects you would expect from a horror film; in fact the entire film is filled with it - clichés and the classic horror elements. There is the idea of good ghosts that are only trying to help and then the bad ghosts that are only trying to kill you and make life difficult for its victims. There is the mysteriousness of the whole idea of white noise and where exactly these spirits are going to make its noise is uncertain to us so that of course helps with the edginess of it. Thematically the film fits right into the horror genre but if it was not for some of the bold supernatural elements of it (like when the ghosts actually come out of gadgets), I may have mistaken it for something out of the tiresome romantic drama genre. Basically we find the film revolving around death, technology, thunderstorms, lots of night scenes, empty dark rooms, too many funerals, scenes inside a church, a construction site (perfect isolated place for haunted things to happen...), attempted suicides, a psychic and possession by the demon. All perfect to help set the scene and get us believing.

                  The mood: The mood of the film is just sombre, dark (dreary at times) but at the same time it's edgy, creepy and uneasy. I mean this is a sad story about a man who is mourning the death of his wife - he needs some information about her - what happened, was she okay, how did she die, he needs closure...and in some ways it is understandable he wants to contact her, but in other ways he just comes across as a bit too fanatical; he is even told this by the psychic "It is one thing to contact the dead. It's another thing to meddle, and you're meddling!" So he might be interfering but we can see that the grief of the death of a loved makes him want to do the things ordinarily someone may not necessarily want to. It feels quite sad at first, but when the tone does not change from the same repeating notion of contacting the wife and nothing much coming out of it, it becomes slightly annoying to watch. Thing is, this film takes such a humourless approach to a story that the majority of us can't really take seriously anyway and I'm not saying it should be a comical take on the issue of EVP, but it couldn't have hurt just to lighten the mood a little bit and maybe introduce a small amount of life and a hint of the funny-side somewhere along the line - that could really have done wonders for the atmosphere of the film and allowed it to be a little bit pleasant as well. So what we get in the end is basically a grave, slow, firm and stern tone where the rate of movement in the film never really builds up to the speed we could have had a good time with until the final few scenes where then just seems to end way too quickly!

                  The ending: As much as the ending of the film is far too rushed, it still is a thrilling end to a film, which I personally expected to be rather dreary. Where the horror is concerned, even though it is a happy ending to some extent in regards to how things work out, it is also sad because we are talking about death throughout the film, and no doubt it touches on it at the end of the film too. With the help of special effects there is a mildly scary occurrence that leads to these final scenes. If I tried predicting the ending at the start of the film, I would not have had any clue as to which direction it was going to go, so I was looking forward to it! And after such a slow-paced film, I did expect a more impactful ending to balance the film out. Let's just say that it was not one of the best horror movie ending, nor was it dreadful - it just was, what it was. Obviously, a sequel was made from this first film called "White noise 2: The Light" in 2007, but the truth is with a story about EVP, there could be another ten more films, and only the first one will ever be the one anyone would be interested in; unless the whole take on the film is done completely differently - like if it is made more closer to reality such as an exploration of the REALITY of the phenomenon maybe allowing the viewer to understand the stories of people who had experienced it or how it could possibly happen paranormally...? I might be interested in knowing that and of course a little bit more special effects, more fun, more drama and suspense is a guaranteed winner.

                  Overall
                  ---------
                  White Noise was the type of film that attracted me to go watch in the cinema on its release, but if I had known what it was actually like, I would have saved that money on a better film. I also would not want to own a copy of the film because I know I would never watch it again. I wouldn't mind taking my time watching it if I was either borrowing it or was not paying for it. I think that just basically sums up my view about the film. It was good but not GREAT. The film was interesting and gripping during moments but lacked that proper entertainment, the potential of having me hooked to it and the frightening horror than I definitely would have expected from a film like this. I think this film gives a false impression. Since it's based on EVP and with the trailer content being very chilling, I had expectations of it being a very terrifying film, one with lingering images of horror, but it was nothing of the sort. Despite all of that though, I would definitely recommend this film to watch once when you have nothing else to watch. It's worth giving a go - you may like it more than I did, I know it's got something in it that's likeable and you might find it.

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                  • The Fourth Kind (DVD) / DVD / 44 Readings / 43 Ratings
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                    17.09.2012 19:53
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                    Worth watching

                    "The Fourth Kind" is an American sci-fi horror film released by Universal in 2009 based on supernatural experiences, directed by Olatunde Osunanmi. The film is rated 5.9 out of 10 on IMDB which is a pretty good rating for this film, runs for around an hour and a half and is given a guidance rating of 15 because of its 'disturbing' content. The film is said to be based on true events and is given to us in a documentary investigation sort of style backed up with real video footage of interviews and events and others areas portrayed by actors.

                    The plot
                    ----------
                    The film is based on experiences of psychologist Abigail Tyler who recorded interviews of her patients who were disturbed by strange and unexplained occurrences. This Alaskan town where the incidents happened had too many unaccounted disappearances - the truth was never discovered but this film attempts to finally reveal to the viewers what the reality behind these disappearances really was. Once we learn about what Abigail witnessed and how it affected her life, we begin to realise the intensity of this supernatural force. And so we also get to learn what exactly this shocking fourth kind actually, really is...

                    The film
                    ----------
                    The opening: First scene begins in a 'naturally' irradiated woods with its typical supernatural vibe that it is trying to give off. Milla Jovovich appears out of a dark blurry shadow. She introduces herself - as herself - and explains that she will be portraying Abigail Tyler in the film. She goes on to explain that names of people involved in the film have been altered for their own privacy and archived footage will be used in the film. She also explains that this film is based on incidents that occurred in October 2000 in North Alaska and that they are based on real case events. The sincere tone at this stage does in some ways have the effect of helping give off a serious, non-Hollywood feel. We are also told that what we see might be disturbing - but even so at least they give us the option that if this all sounds slightly doubtful, we can make our decision on whether to believe it or not - and the fact they added this statement I think just has the effect of maybe wanting you to continue watching to see what exactly they are going to show us and how it could possibly be as 'disturbing' as they say it is. The beginning then goes straight on to a scene with the director beginning his interview with Abigail. Overall the opening of the film is basically is as blunt as it promises to be - we get a good idea of whats to come - archive video footage, shocking scenes, 'truth' behind a mystery. We want to learn more even if we are not even convinced just yet.

                    The scares & suspense: The start of the film was almost like message that there is Hollywood and there is reality, so continue watching out of interest and you will be given the truth to something you didn't even know occurred. Some of the interview footage feels slightly creepy, and other scenes are actually just based on special effects with actors as opposed to real video footage, so it's a mixture of both things and they show it in a way that we are aware what is supposed to be 'genuine' and what is not. But I think the level of how shocked or surprised you might feel by the events is mostly down to how convinced you are by the whole story that the film attempts to expose. Do you believe in ghosts or aliens or some of kind of spirit form? And is this how you expect them to terrorise human beings, if they do that at all? Either way though I still thought it was nice that the film remained relatively entertaining and gripping to follow. All of the things that are not scary instead have you hooked by the strong suspense and anxiety the story carries. All of these 'archive footage' material does have the effect of looking real in a documentary movie type of way, whether it is in actual fact authentic or not and on the whole it is easy to agree that the film succeeds in delivering shivers down your spine, because of things like the strange behaviours of the victims, the hypnosis sessions and the eerie conclusion. Only thing though (and this is pretty funny...) just don't read up about the story this film tries to reveal BEFORE you have seen the film as you are just going to end up feeling deeply disappointed and it will only make the film feel less frightening and chilling than if you were unaware of the truth behind the 'truth' of "The Fourth Kind"!!!

                    Mood / theme: In some ways "The Fourth Kind" feels as though it tries far too hard to be different from all the rest of the horror movies we know, just so that they could prove the point that was made clear right from the start - that these are true events. It does feel unique in its own way, but it also doesn't feel very special or memorable either. Other ways the film is different to others of the horror genre is that although visually it is a chilling, uncomfortable and gritty watch, it doesn't seem too over-done in the special effects department and seems to try to stick to an atmosphere relevant and appropriate to this kind of documentary style with shaky camera scenes and other subtle effects instead. But having said that you will notice that it still needs to throw in the odd few clichés here and there, of course, to support the story a bit - like that scene when they drive out to the man's house, it has to be a night time scene and it has to be pouring it down with rain and cops always arrive conveniently too late...

                    Special effects: The special effects are not so bad and even if some scenes are far from what you imagine to be actually possible in reality, they are still good enough and fascinating to be relevant to go with the story. Apart from the very first bit of effects we see, involving a bit of bloody death, which is very subtle though and we see no more of that afterwards, the rest of the effects are very simple and I don't think it would have required anything over the top anyway as this just helps with the overall natural and ordinary tone the film is going for. Other effects however are a slight bit frustratingly placed into some scenes or footage - like, just when you are about to go deeper into a particularly frightening interview experience of the patient, or some video material, there are just a bunch of blurs and blackouts conveniently place instead during that gripping point - the point that we were actually waiting to see! If it was genuine footage, it would not have been distorted at that point exactly, maybe any other point, but not those points - and the effects just slowly started to feel far too easy, maybe because there was actually nothing to reveal in the first place...

                    The audio: Background music during scenes are kept to a minimum maybe as expected - this just helps bring out the reality of the events in some ways. Even the archive videos have their own way of making us totally believe as though we are viewing real tapes because of the background noise disturbance and the heavy breathing that we can hear. Other sound effects are not too bad either, so that when some edgy scenes are shown they are then exaggerated with the help of loud and sudden sounds during those moments - basically the usual horror movie stuff. And along with that, the background audio gives us the tone and atmosphere that would help us enjoy the film and still keep it entertaining - with the calm but tense music during the right times. On the whole, the film keeps the audio sounds and music to the least which works perfectly with this kind of film.

                    The ending: The film closes with some 'real' facts, figures, photos and more of the interview tape. It then goes into the same way that it opened, with the director and Milla Jovovich explaining to us some of these details and telling us once again that we can believe what we want...and its our decision. But as I walked away after watching the entire film, I felt less convinced about the whole thing than I was before I began watching the film - which is not good! You are actually likely to be more convinced by the films trailer than you are that very first opening scene. Also I think this film had the tendency to drag a little bit and I felt myself looking forward to the ending to see how it will all wrap up. Then again watching the film was amusing and I am glad I watched it until the end. The ending doesn't really have much of a surprise as there are no real unexpected shockers or anything memorable to end the film off with. It ends in the exact same way you would have expected it to when you reached half way through the film.

                    Overall
                    ----------
                    This film has a great DVD cover/film poster and this shot is so much more effective and chilling than the actual film itself and although the film is slightly weird, it still does get our hopes and expectations up because of the cover/trailer but what we end up getting instead is an unconvincing series of interesting but stupid events. And we feel slightly insulted by it all and even because of the fact that the director actually had to come out of the film in order to give us an explanation about the truth of this story.

                    I would recommend this film to people who like to believe in aliens as you might be able to relate to this film. Also I think sci-fi movie fans might like this film, but I think it sits slightly outside the horror movie genre as much as it is quite spooky. It is a sci-fi thriller. Either way though , it doesn't really matter - it did have some great scenes that mess with your mind and it was fun to watch. But trust me, this film is really not one that will get you either thinking or discussing or intrigued by the whole concept of it - it is just what it is - another Hollywood movie. Even so I still think the film is definitely worth a watch anyway.

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                  • Silent House (DVD) / DVD / 19 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                    17.09.2012 19:50
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                    Worth watching despite its bad points

                    'Silent house' is an American horror film released in May 2012, by independent film company Open Road. The film has a guidance rating of 15 because of some of its frightening/disturbing scenes, runs for an hour and 25 minutes and is rated 5.1 out of 10 on IMDB.

                    Plenty of new horror films have been based on 'true' events this year, including the poltergeists in house stories and 'found footage' type of idea and 'Silent House' is one of them. I don't know how believable you could really say they are, but one thing that might be true is it seems any film revolving around a haunted house could make viewers consider the possibility of the occurrence because you might maybe me more able to relate to them, especially when presented in a gritty kind of way, emphasising some authenticity. Some might need a lot of convincing but either way what you see in the film is pretty engaging with a few scary bits here and there, and after all of that, it is a story that is so messed up psychologically that it's maybe very possible in reality, making the story of this particular film, a good one.

                    Plot
                    -------
                    The story revolves around a girl called Sarah, played by Elizabeth Olsen, who while clearing up her family's vacation home for it to go on sale with her father and her uncle, she hears a sudden bump and more strange sounds around the house and soon starts to believe she is seeing people. And things start to go from bad to worse when she finds she can't get out of the house to escape the horror of things within it stalking and practically haunting her. But as more and more strange things start to happen, we start to learn that there is something more to all of this than just what is evident.

                    The film
                    -----------
                    The beginning: The film opens with a daytime scene, possibly late afternoon, so that we know it is soon to be night for the rest of the events to unfold more fittingly in the dark. This first opening scenes involves the lead character approaching the holiday lake house in which all the events will later take place and its almost right away at this point that we get an idea of the isolated and very secluded setting and the location of the house which immediately becomes the key feature of the film - we know now that this is what is supposed to be the silent house. We are then introduced to her family from these early scenes (her dad and uncle) and it is essentially these three characters in which the entire film develops upon which just goes to show the simplicity of it. Overall a good beginning to the film that gets started quicker than expected, but I feel that's a good thing...

                    The characters: ...However since the film does jumps quickly into the main bulk of the plot, it almost seems to leave out any character development altogether, and we hardly build up a connection with any of the three characters or learn anything about their backgrounds which might have been nice to know a little about. Despite that though, it still doesn't take away that their performances are done well, and there was is hardly point during any of their acting that you might feel a little bit doubtful about their actions or emotions conveyed: so on the whole, the performances are basically good enough to keep the film entertaining enough to carry on watching. In terms of the actual purpose of the two secondary characters - dad and uncle - that's a different thing altogether, as it seems they were mostly just there somewhere in the background, and although, like I mentioned earlier, there is nothing disastrous about their performance in the film, they are still very forgettable. Since the story moves along with the experiences of the girl Sarah trapped in the house, the entire film is able to capture her emotions, views, encounters, since the story is seen solely from her point of view even if our relationship with the lead character was not strong at all. Even so, Olson's performance as Sarah was pretty decent, and as the viewer begins to experience what she is experiencing, we do get a sense of it being terrifying as we begin to feel her agony and pain, almost as if you could imagine being in her position in that house, at that particular time. Overall not the best character development, but great acting from all.

                    The horror: The scares in the film are based on a combination of both mystery horror and psychological horror of the effects and the horror of being enclosed by eeriness trying to 'get you' along with the attempts at escaping it - all the unexplained things and 'people' that we never really get to see, successfully give off a creepy tone and atmosphere, especially since the events are all taking place in pure darkness, making it feel more daunting. Although we never really get a true idea of what is even happening, this I think may have just helped mess with our minds and build up a lot more fear than any type of slasher-horror or a typical spooky house story might be able to. The fear that this story creates is different to the usual in many ways - normally the audience can be won over by shock and visually disturbing scenes, but 'Silent House' very little jumpy scares or frights, or visually startling experiences that are purposefully sudden with the intent to make you jump regardless of whether it fits in with the story or not. Instead it builds up an atmosphere of terror based mostly on its simplicity of its events and so can easily rely mostly on brilliant suspense - and I think this is what makes the film more special.

                    Theme: Some elements that really stand out and help give off the right type of vibe we'd want for an intense and creepy viewing experience are things like the technique in which the entire film is shot in one piece, which works well for horror films, and also the fact that it mostly takes place in the night which is great helping give off the feeling that what is happening is happening 'now' whilst watching it. Elements that help make up the film, content-wise, and are part of the plot are things like the stalking, possible hallucinations, the sinister-vibe and the mystery surrounding the 'people' or monsters in the house that we see shadows of, the power cuts, use of guns, some blood and violence, a creepy basement, endless hallways and wall-papered rooms, which all visually help work with the plot. Other things such as the emptiness of the house or the loneliness of the setting, just have the effect of setting the scene for unusual events to take place and in some ways help give off a claustrophobic feeling like unwanted isolation. This, along with the helplessness, vulnerability, paranoia and going insane over certain things, really help get you into the position of the lead character. However regardless of all that which all will generally work in favour of the film, it has to be said that when you think about it there is hardly much in it to have you hooked completely and basically if you are the type of person that is very likely to switch off mentally as soon as a film looses its way, be prepared for this film not to float your boat, and switch the film off half way.

                    Special effects: With the lack of jump-out-of-your-seat scary action and the method of producing a level of reality in filming that one long continuous shot in a day meant special effects were subtle to probably convey the 'reality'. But even if over-the-top CGI is where horror is the best, the visual type of effects we get here instead, takes advantage of the simplicity of its scenes, and with its 'found video footage' kind of idea, this has the ability of making you feel as though you yourself are walking around this house, and allows us to maybe imagine that this could be the closest thing to our own experience of being trapped in a house if maybe... 'strangers' got in...Other effects such as doors that suddenly slam shut, mysterious shadows, strange knocks and bumps and threatening footsteps that gradually get louder giving the effect of being stalked, the effect of blood are some of effects this film is based on, and there is some visual appeal to it all and you might start to notice that its this that you really begin to enjoy most about the film, more than anything else.

                    Audio: Like you would expect, the film contains subtle musical or dramatic background noises as it tries to create a series of true to reality experiences - this is mostly without much additional background sounds that you would normally expect from horror films like tense screeching chords, symbols and instead being replaced by clear sounds like footsteps and movement around the house, the tense sound of silence, breathing and some bursts of noise when necessary and the music tones that we can sometimes hear in the background are very light that you would not normally notice it. All of this still has just as much of an effect of creating a chilling feel to the setting as does a film filled with lots more obvious fear-proving sound effects. So on the whole, the style and use of audio really suits the overall atmosphere of the film.

                    The ending: Once we reach the ending all the answers that we needed to know are revealed, which then allows everything to properly fall into place and this should really make it a satisfying ending to the film, but really it is not. I wouldn't say it was the most terrible ending but the fact that it hardly had a gripping and interesting conclusion, which it not even properly delivered and just seemed to have been brought in to finish of the story very casually and tediously, makes it a disappointing ending to the film overall. I might have expected a twist to end the film, but it became very easy to predict the final events as you were halfway towards the closing of the film.

                    Overall
                    ---------
                    Even if this film is not the most exciting horror film out this year, I still think it's probably a welcome film release for horror movie fans, as there are just never enough films of the genre out each year. Even if at times it does tend to go downhill, I didn't actually find myself trailing off completely during any part of the film - it was still interesting to know what was going to happen next in every scene and in my opinion that is definitely a good sign that the film is actually watchable.

                    'Silent House' is definitely one you'd either hate or just appreciate, but probably not love since there is nothing really captivating about it to be intrigued by. Bits that I did quite like, was the idea that an uncertainly of 'things' and experiences which don't make any sense were strong enough to build fear and terror, but once you make sense of it, it makes you wonder if it actually makes things better or worse. Maybe you can never really overcome fear and in Sarah's case, both are quite daunting really.

                    On the whole, I would not really watch the film again, but I do think the film is not that bad that you should avoid it altogether like most critics have said about it. For fans of horror and suspense, this is one that is worth watching at least once and making your own opinion on - it might not be the best film, but I have seen worse than this, and this film is pretty decent to check out.

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                    • The Messengers (DVD) / DVD / 41 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                      14.07.2012 20:51
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                      Good film, with a bad ending

                      "The Messengers" is an American horror film released by Ghost House Pictures in 2007, directed by the Pang Brothers (production of "The Eye" movies)and produced by Sami Raimi (previously involved in directing films like "Drag me to hell" and the "Spiderman" movies). The film has a guidance rating of 15 for its "frightening" scenes, rated 5.2 out of 10 on IMDB which is very average and runs for around an hour and a half. Best bits of the film is the atmosphere, setting and watching the unexplained things going on in the house. Worst part is the ending / conclusion of the film.

                      The plot
                      ----------
                      The story is about a family that drive all the way out to North Dakota to move into a farmhouse on an isolated location on a sunflower field. As soon as they arrive and start settling in, the family begin to experience strange things happening within the house and out on the field and the two children of the family (a baby Ben and Jess, played by Kirsten Stewart) see some freaky things which seem sinister enough to be out to cause some harm. And since the parents do not initially see what the kids see, this creates feelings of disbelief and distrust within the family, almost tearing them apart with plenty of tension. So is there actually something supernatural lurking in the house trying to destroy them, or is it all just in the mind...

                      The film
                      ---------
                      The beginning: The opening scene features an event that happened in the past - it contains a good amount of suspense, mystery and allows us to feel a little sympathy for what we see happen to its victims which are two little children.This really great start immediately has the viewer interested in the story of what has happened in the house before the family move in and what this ghost (that we don't see) is possibly capable of. It gives the impression that the film is going to carry on with this kind of tone - house haunting. And since we don't get to see the supernatural thing behind the horror in these opening scenes, this in turn just has the effect of keeping us holding on to find out what's behind it. Overall a nice inviting start which at this stage you could only imagine getting better.

                      The characters: Characters in the film revolve mostly around the four members of the family - plus a farmer. The characters are not the liveliest and maybe it just suits the "serious" tone of film well, but I think if they may have been a little more open, interesting and had more than just one type of emotion, it would have only helped with the plot. Kirsten Stewart's character Jess is supposed to be an under-pressure, troubled teenager. She is the reason why they have come to this remote farmhouse since she has done "something wrong" and so her parents think they need to help sort out her ways. The parents (Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller) seem very uninterested in anybody other than passing the blame on to one another and we start to realise there very little interesting about them characteristically. The baby brother is a mute, and as much as he is cute, he is still really annoying as he plays with a SFX ghoul that crawls up walls and ceiling, thinking it's perfectly normal. He shows no fear, hesitancy or confusion about it and I'm just guessing a normal kid his age would be a little bit taken aback seeing that. When they hire a farmer called Burwell played by John Corbett who shows up pretty much conveniently, he does actually make the story a bit more interesting as we can't really figure him out - is he the good guy, the bad guy?? Overall the characters were okay - they do a good job playing their part but that is not to say that the cast were bad. The cast were great and it's almost as if its not there fault that their roles were the way they were. It generally made them seem very dull, but on the whole they seem to have done the best with what they are given.

                      The story: As we move in to the film, we learn its a psychological horror more than just a ghost story and as it goes on further into the plot, the story really changes (or looses) its direction. What really ruins the story is near the main bulk once we realise how the film changes for a bizarre idea instead, it then starts to get very predictable and seriously ridiculous. The first half of the film just does not match the second half of the plot. The thing is, the plot seemed to have had great potential to be a good one: It starts off with a family moving into a creepy looking farmhouse and as they settle in, weird things happen - nothing wrong with that and quite interesting....BUT later we get our explanation of why things are happening in the house and what caused "It" to become "trapped" - and at this point it seemed like the story became a bit stuck and got all confused and instead thrown in whatever seemed appropriate and effective and this just made the story feel really clichéd and recycled. All the scares, the supernatural events and everything else that is introduced to give us a scare, might not have been scary enough, but I blame that on the unconvincing poor storyline.

                      Theme: This film has everything you would expect of a horror film thematically and in terms of the setting I think its great to have all the horror elements of the genre built into it as it just nicely reinforces the creepy atmosphere that we want, in order to be taken away. The only thing is even though its nice to have all those elements, there is nothing original added on top of that to make this film stand out from the others - it just seems to rely on most unoriginal ideas and basically just that only - this doesn't allow the film to stand out much. Either way though, I do like some of the things we get in the film - things such as this secluded and isolated spooky farmhouse, things that go on in the basement of the house that no one can really explain, there are rooms that for some reason remain locked shut (but its odd that no one in the family seems too bothered about gaining an extra room in the house by opening it up), the creaky doors and floors, lot of peering out of the windows expecting ghosts, and too many crows eerily hanging about all over the place behaving strangely - the crows may have been a little bit over the top but it couldn't have actually gone to make the film any worse.

                      The horror / scares: The thing about "The Messengers" is that although there are no real jump out of your seat scares that are really effective in making a bad story exciting, this one goes for something else that seems to be the most positive thing about it as a whole. It doesn't try desperately to provide viewers exactly want they want out of a haunted house ghost story - and instead it gives us eerie unexplained events or little things happening around the farm and the house that we don't always get explanations to and that in turn gives off that greater sinister tone to it - like the mould growing on the wall or the baby getting out of the cot at night or the drawing of a crow that Jess finds drawn onto the dirty window - all of these we don't really get answers to which makes it quite creepy. Even though these things don't really mess with our heads as viewers, if you were actually in the girl's situation and started to see what she saw, then you would be totally freaked out, and no one really gets a clear answer in the end anyway, which just feels a bit more mysterious. This is why psychological thrillers can be more effective, similar to films like "The Shining" - "The Shining" is not REALLY scary, but there is something really alarming about it, behind all the stuff going on and this film is just like that. So even if you're unlikely to be scared out of your wits by jumpy boo scares, you may find this film is the type of horror you actually prefer instead of the over-used cheap scares we normally get.

                      Special effects / Visuals: This film relies quite a bit on special effects in some places but the computer generated effects that we do see are clearly average. CGI is used for the ghouls or creatures that crawl the walls and ceiling, that is a really poorly generated image which you will see looks very cartoony and a strange jerky movement - so strange you'd think it was delibrate. There is nothing terrifying visually about them even though you don't get to see them so clearly anyway and there presense on screen is very short. This sometimes means its less scary when we don't get to take in their scary overall look, but in this case, it may been for the best. Special effect is also used for the ghosts that try to grab people in to the basement and these were a lot more convincing than the bad ghouls. Other effects of the attacking crows I thought were great - they were made to look threatening. Visually the film looked really great - the sunflower field looked impressive and the outside of the house was perfectly moody - this all just helped build up the sombre, serious and strange tone and mood of the film.

                      The ending: There is nothing special about the ending of this film - there are no twists, turns or surprises which may have suited this film really well, and instead we get the answers behind the weird things that had been happening around the house. However explanation does not even make much sense as much as the writers might have thought it would and it just seems to be thrown into the film for the sake of ending it. Either way though, at least we do get answers behind the freaky occurrences in the house, but don't expect too much from it. What might be nice to know is there is a sweet happy ending to this story so there is something to look forward to...

                      Overall
                      ---------
                      I don't think this film is as bad as it has been made out to be but there are things that could have been better about it- like the ending and maybe opening up the characters a bit more, allowing them more emotion in order for the viewer to enjoy the story better. Other than that though, this horror film is as simple as any other haunted house movie - more or less. The scares are less frequent and there is hardly any blood or gore which does not suit all horror films anyway. The main thing is "The Messengers" definitely is entertaining and enjoyable, it's not too lengthy and has reasonably likeable actors. The only other thing is that the title of this film sounds a lot more menacing and interesting than the actual reality and explanation of it.

                      So basically, it's definitely worth a watch as long as you are not expecting a massive deal out of it - remember no twists or turns here, just a mediocre story and a brilliant setting and strong cast.

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                      • The Collector (DVD) / DVD / 19 Readings / 19 Ratings
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                        14.07.2012 19:29
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                        Entertaining film - definately worth a watch

                        "The Collector" is an American horror film released in 2009. The film is directed by Marcus Dunstan who wrote the SAW sequels which is not very surprising. The film runs for around an hour and half with a guidance rating of 18 because of the gore and violence. It is rated 6.2 out of 10 on IMDB. Best bits of the film have to be the non-stop suspense and the pure horror of the events. The bad bits is problem the poor plot.

                        The Story
                        ------------
                        The story revolves around a horror figure called the Collector. When thief Arkin (played by Josh Stewart), who works as handy man for a family finds he needs to urgently help his wife sort out the debts she owes loan sharks, he to decides to break into that particular family's home, since he already knows they are going to be away on a two week vacation. As it turns out, the night he chose is the same night a serial killer has set up traps in that same house. And as if the traps weren't bad enough, the maniac but scheming killer, lurks within the house to make life more painful for his victims. The rest of the film falls into place when those cleverly set up traps of knifes, nails, fish hooks and others, all make for the most shocking house-hostage situation.

                        The film
                        ----------
                        The beginning: The opening scenes are a prequel of what happened earlier on and I think its great that the film almost seems to jumps right into the horror of the story without messing around too much. The opening credits then kick in after that, which I didn't realise was actually previews of parts of the film's story - like you get to see the house being rigged over some cool gritty effects. However after these opening credits, the main bulk of the film actually takes longer than expected to get started. It does seems to leave the viewer unsure about where the story was going and really made you feel curious regarding what point exactly the film was about to turn horror. But even if it keeps you holding on longer than you would have liked, it does get better - and when it does, it all happens at a pretty good pace. Overall the first few scenes of the film give you the feeling that something nasty is round the corner, but it does take a while for the nasty to show up.

                        The story: What is most disappointing about the film is the story, and I know that this kind of film doesn't need much of an intelligent story to keep it together, but I would have liked to know just a little bit more about the killer's motive, who he is, why this family, why set up traps, what is the whole idea about "collecting"? But then again, I think these answers could have been left deliberately untouched with the sequel being the place to expand on that. Either way though, I think all these questions have just made a bit of a negative impact on the film's plot and character development. In turn "The Collector" seems more focused on other things such as making certain scenes as gory as possible in order to provoke the shock and repulsion in the viewer which of course you'll find is the goal, rather than trying to create an incredible storyline to go with it, that is clever and exciting. So from this, in terms of the film's story I would just say not to expect anything smart, from this film - it's just a silly kind of film with many empty gaps.

                        The characters: The characters in the film are simple - just very two-dimensional. We don't get to know them hardly at all, and I think the storyline once again is to blame for that; but despite that I still think it works reasonably well because when you think about it, it wasn't completely necessary to know as much about any of the other characters/victims other than the fact that they were either members of the family - or not - so to put it another way, the characters purpose in the film were just as objects to feed the serial killer's psycho needs. And as much as we don't get to learn so much about the characters, we do learn that it really is a case of stupid people die first - and don't we all love to see that. The lead character, who seems to be the smartest of the bunch, cleverly finding ways to get out of the traps, tries to direct others through more safer routes - they don't listen and things don't go well for them. And so the only character in the entire film who we see as anyone at all, is Arkin, who plays the role as a protagonist, though he is the "bad" guy - a criminal - turned good on this occasion, which is what Hollywood movies thrive on. Basically, on the whole all other characters in the film are just pushing the plot along to provide us with the gore and let face it, the bloody death. And basically the more characters there are, the more the gore we see and in turn the collector, like all other horror figures seems to mostly always win - well he's got to otherwise there will be no hope of a sequel for him.

                        Horror / scares: This film is not intended to provide jump-out-of-your-seat scares, but meant to give us with the cringy moments. If you like the SAW movies and other horror films like "Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Halloween", this will be right up your street. Only thing to note like I mentioned earlier, is this film is no where near as twisted as the genius SAW movies. The scares in this film will revolve around the terror of being hunted down and the claustrophobic feel of the inability to escape from the house which itself turns out to be one big trap. The collector himself is hardly scary enough though - he doesn't have the ability to build up fear in the viewer as does characters like Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger. And I think I figured out why - It is likely to do with the fact that the Collector (although HE IS creepy), does not come across as chilling enough as the other two characters because we don't even get to even see him properly or get to know him as much (again, bad character development). I mean, Myers and Krueger have got faces that stick in your head and haunt you forever, helped by the fact that we have gotten familiar with their background stories (though I suppose it was really thanks to the sequels). On the whole though the collector doesn't do extremely badly in a horror movie world - we get to see his cold eyes or his demon souls or whatever it is, behind the mask that he wears which is tied up with behind his head. Creepy and effective, but hardly daunting enough to provide the spooks to last beyond the duration of the film.

                        Theme / setting: I have a thing for horror movies where the entire film is set inside a house. I think there is definitely something more haunting about a home setting than any other settings and this might be mostly due to the fact that it is going to have the effect of developing a more realistic fear than any other random setting. Although it may not necessarily be as realistic as you would have like, for example, you always have to wonder why no one thinks to switch on the lights, and even if the landlines have been disconnected, what about the use of mobile phones, or house alarms, but there is still something a bit more closer about that practically. Thematically I wouldn't say the film fits into your typical horror genre, as there is hardly much of a chilling or eerie atmosphere to it but it really just relies on the actions of the killer to provide any kind of fear. Despite that though there are certain elements about the setting that have to remain a cliché, like events only occur through the night, and it is a stormy night, there is thunder and lightening, the police are useless etc, we've seen that all before but it works so perfectly. The film has a whole new style to the usual - daunting as possible. On the whole the film is about escaping and surviving, and every scenes feels important to the viewer for the survival of the lead character.

                        Special effects: I think it is obvious that CGI plays a big part to the film. The majority of it of course is purely based just on the computer generated effects of terror and torture but on the whole, the special effects as well as general visual effects are just okay. It features brutal, cruel death in the form of victim pain and suffering, but not really literally by the hands of the killer - the traps are the killers. And quite literally it's about the blood and guts as we do see the guts as one of his victims poured out over the floor, which in any case does look like real guts. I mean, what else would it look like... Overall the viewer should be prepared for some real graphic horror and violence. I have to say, I have seen some films were I just felt the gore may have been a little bit put on and maybe just trying too hard, but funnily enough, in "The Collector" everything shown somehow just seems to go with the film, and that might be to do with the fact that there is nothing more this film has to offer, (like a solid story line) and so this turns out to be the key contribution of the film.

                        The ending: Have you ever seen a film when you feel like you have dedicated quite a bit to watching it, and then the ending really lets you down? Well, be prepared for that too, because I would personally say this film has a frustrating ending. I mean we have almost been on a journey with Arkin and I just feel more effort could have been made to provide a more clever and twisted, shocking ending, some more explanations and filling up of the gaps to finish it all up. Its almost as if you have to wait to the very last scene to get the fact that this film actually wants to preserve anymore of its potential for its sequel - this is extremely disappointing and really doesn't work in favour of the film, because if you did not like the first film what are the chances you are going to go out of your way to watch its sequel, just to get answers? You would have stopped caring by then...

                        Overall
                        ---------
                        The sequel is due to be released some time this year and is called "The Collection". This time Marcus Dunstan not only writes it but directs it too. This kind of gives us hope that we are going to delve in a bit more into the mind of the Collector and find out what his whole collecting idea is. The good news is that the film is to star Josh Stewart again - I do seriously think the sequel would not be the same without him as he really was the best part of the film - he did after all carry most of the film on his own. All I can say is that the sequel is going to be really great or really bad - we'll get have to wait and see about that.

                        I can't say this film is one you definitely need to get a copy of and watch. If you haven't seen it you are not really missing out on much, but if you watched, it's likely you would have enjoyed it anyway. If movies like Halloween, Elm street, Friday the 13th, SAW are what you normally like or don't mind watching its worth giving it a go. If you hate films like those, then just steer clear of this film as there is nothing in it that you will appreciate.

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                      • More +
                        23.06.2012 12:35
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                        Good album, but not Korns best

                        If this was KoRn's debut release, it would be an incredible album but the fact is KoRn have done so much better than this, which makes "Korn III: Remember who you are", one of their poorer albums. KoRn will never really be who you want them to be anymore but I have been able to look on the bright side of things. "Remember who you are" is KoRn's attempt to give us what we wanted the most: the old KoRn! Obviously, we wanted the old KoRn back and this album is a shot at going back to their "roots". They got back with the guy who produced their first two albums and the sound we're hearing here feels as though there is effort at taking us back vocally and musically to the quality of albums we knew like"Life is Peachy" and their debut album "Korn". But, something is missing - there is nothing really outstanding about this album and it's probably down to a lack of a proper idea making the creation of this album pretty really lazy and half-asd.

                        In case you were not aware, KoRn consist of four guys, Jonathan Davis former morgue attendant, James "Munky" Shaffer, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu and Ray Luzier Ray (Ray, the drummer and newest member since 2009), all of them responsible for their own song-writing, creating their own music and sound and nu-metal itself - since they created it and was named after them. But KoRn lost their way during the point after Brian Welch (founder and guitarist) left the band and David Silveria (drummer) left too. And even though they weren't the strongest at that point they pulled through. Since then they have released albums "Untitled" and also reached their big 10th and current album release "Path of Totality" where they got back to giving us something fresh and totally new and different, maybe more along the lines of what we might expect from koRn - revolution, originality...etc (Check out my "Path of Totality" review?? It's a better album as well).

                        As far as "Remember who you are" goes, the album definitely has its highs and lows. As soon as you as you go through the album, track by track, it's unlikely you will be totally thrilled by most of the tracks, at that very first instance. They are slightly unmemorable, ordinary and nothing really stood out like anything exciting or just completely out there. Another thing you'll notice is how short the album is. It only contains 11 tracks. The album consists of the following 11 tracks: 01. Uber-Time / 02. Oildale (Leave Me Alone) / 03. Pop A Pill / 04. Fear Is A Place To Live / 05. Move On / 06. Lead The Parade / 07. Let The Guilt Go / 08. The Past / 09. Never Around / 10. Are You Ready To Live? / 11. Holding All These Lies.

                        A big contribution to KoRn's early success was down to the bands personality, characteristic, all really distinctive, and this could all mostly be picked up in what they are express in lyrics and performances. This album goes back to those days, when Jonathan Davis expressed the pain and emotion for people who he hurt him back then. What I don't get is, why they need to go back to those times again, and why renew those Jon Davis issues expressed in albums like "Korn" and "Peachy" such as the high school bullying, the child abuse, the homophobic teasing, the alienation, the haters etc, (the list goes on...) all experienced when he was younger, like when he was 12. It seems unnecessary to do that all over again - isn't that like one big bad nightmare revival? Or could it be therapy. Is it even progress though? I'm sure Jonathan Davis has million and one other issues today that he can incorporate into his newer work.

                        But then again, am being too hard on KoRn (?) since whatever they do, they do in the most incredible way, and slowly you start to feel what the band feel - this album is a journey rediscovering and reuniting the old times, going old-school for the sake of remembering who they are. So forget comparing it to their other more superior work, this album still rocks. Musically the tracks are amazing. The nu metal guitar riffs are heavy and infectious as ever, and Fieldy on bass - real extreme. One of the most outstanding tracks of the album has to be "Lead the Parade" track 6 - this track is worth listening to if it's the only one of the album you hear. It is like a schizoid, completely insane track, chillingly dark, chaotic, so appropriate - this is probably an example of what it sounds like when you cut open Jon Davis's head - and it is one of the heaviest tracks of the album which has so much more to offer that we cant find it all in one go. This then leads right into track 7, the successful single release "Let the Guilt Go", and an awesome track. Yes, it's repetitive and catchy, but who cares, its genius. This leads to "The Past" which completely takes you back to "Life is Peachy", because of the eerie vibe of it, with the bass work as incredible as always and practically violent drum pounding. Another of the tracks to check out is track 10 "Are you Ready to Live" - this track is almost at the same kind of place as the really disturbing track "Daddy", of the debut album "Korn", though lyrically not really the same message, where he gives it all to the point of emotional breakdown in the form of his agonising cries. To end with, "Holding All These Lies" is another really emotional track for Jon Davis and again more crying.

                        So basically "Remember who you are" is an album that is consistent as all tracks flow from one to the other effortlessly - but it only allows you to relate it to the first and second album. This album almost makes a trilogy out of those and without being familiar with those earlier albums, "Remember who you are" will seriously be a weird one. Like I said before, the whole idea of singing about those early issues seems strange without getting what those first two albums were about. And of course it was always going to be difficult to feel as though the old koRn are back again just by getting into this album, since this band are not even the same original line-up they used to be back then. But the important thing luckily is that we can sidestep that fact since this album is clearly not ALL about its lyrical content and the band's history; the sound, the vibe and atmosphere musically is of a really good standard, and that KoRn trademark sound is apparent throughout. Either way, I think this album will always have mostly varied views - you'll either love some things about it, dislike other things, and no two people will have the same view about it - this album messes with your mind and I still havent been able to decide what I truly feel about it, but one thing I do know is that "Remember who you are" always seems to get lost somewhere far away while the other KoRn albums don't...

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                        • The Others (DVD) / DVD / 29 Readings / 29 Ratings
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                          13.06.2012 19:15
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                          An ending that sends shivers down your spine

                          "The Others" is an psychological/supernatural horror film released in 2001 by Dimension Films, directed by Alejandro Amenábar and inspired by the book about a ghost story of the late 1800s "Turn of the Screw" by Henry James. The film is about an hour and 45 minutes long and is given a guidance rating of a 12 because of a few frightening scenes. It is rated 7.7 out of 10 on IMDb. "The Others" is one of my favourite supernatural mystery/thriller. This is bbecause the film is clever, suspenseful most of the way through and contains a brilliant twist that is difficult to see coming at any part of the film - even when you reach the scene before the twist, it never feels expected and I think that makes "The Others" ONE of the best horror films out there!

                          The plot
                          ----------
                          "The Others" is about a small family of single mother Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). They live in a remote and incredibly big and dark Victorian mansion in Jersey. Grace needs some house helpers - the previous just disappeared. When one day she has three strangers who call on her door and says they are looking for work, she hires them on the spot as replacement servants of the previous. But the more comfortable the servants get with the house, Grace feels their behaviour seems to be getting stranger - and why would we blame her? - There seem totally weird! When Grace learns that her children can hear voices, which she later hears too, the story takes a completely new turn in the most spectacular but shocking direction to make way for the conclusion at the end.

                          The "others" refers to the company present in the house. It is what the children believe are the ghosts that they see and hear and call them the Others.

                          What to expect from the film
                          -------------------------------------
                          * The beginning: The film starts like a sweet little story. Grace, who teaches her children at home starts of the film as if she is about to tell a tale to her children (we hear just her voice); she explains to the children that the story happened millions of years ago but was over in seven days - a biblical tale...about how God created life. It definitely sets the tone for the type of character the lead is - religious and very simple. We are shown illustrations over opening credits that look as though they could have been pulled out of a very old children's storybook - but some are actually pretty creepy pictures, if it was that they are from a children's book. Some of these drawing feature later on as scenes within the film, like the children wandering around the house, to the "door-locking", the nanny, and lots of candles around the house. All of this is over some very sombred-up Disney-like music (just so it feels very child-friendly I suppose, to go with the story-telling) but it feels very eerie. Finally we are shown an illustration of the house in which this family live - you can see the immense scale of it, it does look like a very traditional building and looks like the type of places ghosts may love to live in. It's a perfect horror movie house. And once the illustrations are over, it cuts into the first scene which is of Grace screaming - it is just really bizarre. Overall, a really great start, which sets the mood and introduces characteristics.

                          * The characters: The main cast of the film is small and consist basically of the mother, and her two children and the three servants. This film develops into a great story just based on the actions of these characters, and other things happening around the house that the characters deal with. As soon the strangers turn up on the door, we see them as a pretty normal group of humble workers. The three servants consist of old lady who is the nanny called Mrs Bertha Mills, a gardener who is an old man named Mr Tuttle and a girl named Lydia who is a mute. The old woman seems nice enough, but all is not as expected. Nicole Kidman's performance as Grace is excellent and is the large part of where the strength of the film is based. Her English accent is perfect and proper and her personality as an over-protective mother along with her strict policies, principles and teachings on religion to her kids and servants seems to work to give the viewers the idea that she maybe a little bit on the insecure side of things. As Grace shows the servants around the house, she tells them of the "rules" involved when walking around the house. Since there many rooms, each with two doors, one of her rules is to make sure to lock (with the huge bunch of keys) the door they entered through before leaving through the other door - it does sound unusual. We are then introduced to Grace's children. The scene in which they are brought into the film, we didn't really know what to make of them before we get to see them because it felt like a big anticipated build up - so it gets you thinking is there something really odd and spooky about them? Either way their performances in the film were really fantastic. Everyone in the film is just so mysterious and peculiar and this does help with making us feel a little uncomfortable during most parts of the film. We get to know the characters as much as we really need to, and an important thing about horror films is that if you actually begin to care about the welfare of the characters, then you know the film is really good. There is nothing too menacing about the goings-on in story or anything that could potentially harm the characters, but we do later start to actually care about their situation and this affects how much we enjoy the story.

                          * The horror: The horror within the film is very subtle and really not over-whelming. Sometimes something delicately presented works better than something thrown at us. The horror in the film in turn just goes to make whatever is given to us, feel increasingly cold, tense and chilling. There is no gore or blood or any other kind of frantic scare tactic to help the film along with the horror and the awfulness of the situation. Even if this film is essentially a haunted house story, there is nothing that feels put on in the form of over-used shocks or something likes ghosts floating around the top of the staircase in the night - that is just too cliché for this film. The horror in the film is very mature and grown-up; every detail is given to us sensitively and is perfectly captured throughout - we feel the emotion for the characters that feel this terror. The terror that we do receive though is more psychological and intelligently deceiving - even if nothing is happening at that time, we still remain on the edge of our seats building up the panic. And overall it's really a matter of what you see is what you get; so basically if you were actually there in that house, you will see and feel exactly what the actors are feeling which makes the whole story and the horrors of the film come to life for the viewer. The scene that ends the film or reveals the twist is what this entire film is working its way towards - so if some find the film "dull", if you wait until the end, the reward is immense, and additionally really heartbreaking and will send shivers down your spine. "The Others" is presented in ways that differ to most other horror films - it IS different to all others and that is what makes it such a great film to watch and be horrified with.

                          * Special effects: The special effects in "The Others" is nicely limited. Whatever we see is really what you would effectively see in "reality", if you like. It just doesn't need those extra things going on in the film as it would have just felt completely unnecessary. People who think the use of special effects, especially computer generated effects, destroy horror films and make it feel unrealistic and unlikely in every way, you would love this film. I have to admit, I am not totally against the use of special effects in certain films whether CGI or just lots of make-up, as I think in occasion it helps some films with the imaginative build up and the presentation of the story - but it only suits certain "silly" or "fun" film. If you think effects ruins film for you with its unrealistic detail and huge budgets (sometimes understandably), this one will be a delight. Come to think of it, I could imagine this film could have taken a whole new route and introduced lots of different effects, especially computer generated, to increase the shock, like unambiguous ghosts for example - but the producers have nicely kept this film simple. And I think this is what makes the film so beautiful as there is nothing to allow the stunning setting of the film to be put second best. The only few scenes of special effects that you will find, involve things like the thick fog outdoors when Grace leaves the house, the scene at the end of the film which reveals the twist, and one other little scare in the film when the girl becomes possessed, but you will know it when you see it! Overall I think this film just goes to show that you don't need huge budgets to show off dubious special effects, if films like this can turn something so basic into something completely enchanting.

                          * Theme/ Atmosphere: Although this film could be criticised for being very slow-paced, the truth is, it really is not. And it's not just because I don't agree with that view that it is slow, it is just that there is a reason for the film being at the pace that it is. It emphases the dark, shady and mysterious past, and how could that be presented in a pace other than steady and cautious. The other thing is, there is actually a lot of detail about the story being revealed within those spaces which may feel slow. The story is pretty much a drama - there is no action or fast-paced activities during any part of the film and since the film is supposed to be set in the mid 1940s, we couldn't deal with the liveliness anyway. The film was produced in the early 2000's, so how it actually feels as though it is filmed in the 1940s or 50s is incredible in itself - and so it makes it feel not just convincing visually and atmospherically, but feels as though us viewers are not insulted by making us believe things which look utterly unrealistic! Anyway, back to the story, the whole point is to go with it and be patient about it but always pay attention. And for those who appreciate this, it will in turn give you back a charming, elegant but painfully grim and sinister feel about it. The majority of the scenes are filmed in the dark - the dark rooms with closed curtains, the dark mist outside, the graveyards and basically scenes during the night time and once again this only goes to help work up the murky, haunting and macabre tone it tries to achieve. It feels really gothic and all aspects you would expect of classic horror are touched on here visually and atmospherically - from the creaky floorboard in the creepy house, to doors that slam and close shut on their own accord, noises coming from upstairs, the mysterious grand piano playing, candlelit rooms - they all fit right in, and allows us to focus on the story more comfortably. The scenes along with the story are really stylish, really appealing but you feel the coldness around - the house itself feels cold! The more I watched this film, the more I was absorbed by the entire environment which kind of takes you away into that intimidating ghost house.

                          * Audio: There is not much sound or music through the film but whatever we do get is kept balanced and effectively too because it just really goes to enhance any terror within the film. When we don't get the eerie silence and the "echoey" feel of the isolation within the interior of the house, we get musical sounds that feel traditional Hitchcock-styled, with plenty of menacing chords, flutes and violins which at times really get your skin crawling - and even though it is quite light most of the time, it really feels very harsh at other times. There is also an even more intense accumulation of tones during more severe scenes of the film which always gets us at the edge of our seats, but it never feels over done at any point. I think this build-up is important to this film, because with the subtlety of visual horror, there should be something else in the film to boost the fear, and the sounds are clearly that additional element. Throughout the film we basically get the same sort of thing throughout, and I think that is all we really need to feel any of the tension and nothing more fancy seems to be required. Other things that we and the characters get to hear and so experience the same fear are things like mysterious children crying and whispering from unknown places (and not one of Grace's children), running footsteps again from unknown places and of course the piano playing during one of the scenes - I think any piano in a horror film feels very spooky! Overall I would say the audio in the film - whether it is the music in the background or the general sounds of the set - all seems just right to accompany the visuals we are getting and does actually help create or develop the amount of horror we are going to feel as a result of it.

                          * The ending: The ending is what we have all been waiting for since the twist is revealed. There are elements of shock and surprise in it, because overall I really just though it was so fascinating how everything fell into place. The ending is genuinely sad, I thought anyway - I really felt for the family and there was something so realistic about it - the situation felt realistic, the acting felt realistic and the possibilities felt realistic (in a horror film sort of way...). It was as if it makes so much sense for things to turn out like they did in the film. In most films, once the twist is revealed, it's like, that was great twist, and that's it! "The Others" sort of takes it further and makes you think back to all the other puzzling things that happened previously in the story. On the whole it is this fantastic ending to a film that should really keep you holding on. This is ONE of the finest and smartest twists I have seen in any horror film, and I have seen lots! All I can say is it was beautiful. And once the final scene is over, the film closes with nothing more fancy to offer us other than the closing of the gates to the house and the closing of the film, with final credits over some more grim music. Sooo perfect!

                          Overall
                          ---------
                          Overall, "The Others" is the type of film which is a treat not only to horror movie fans but everyone else too. The amount of horror in the film is stylishly and intelligently mild in order to heighten the final few scenes and this makes it really entertaining and exciting right until the end. The only real downside is, that this is not the type of film you could watch over and over again unfortunately. I have actually seen this film twice - once was when the twist was new to me, and the second time I watched a long time later - I knew the twist, but it was interesting to know it and see it in a different light and to see how certain scenes that previously seemed unimportant, suddenly stand out as important to the conclusion. It is a very memorable film, and one that you probably would never forget since it is so captivating, and this just means that if you have already watched it, you probably would not want to watch it again. Either way, the film is powerful and so I don't think that will make the film any less thrilling - the chills will always remain no matter how many times you decide to watch the film! If you haven't seen "The Others", I think you might be missing out! It is almost a classic.

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                          • Tekken 6 (PS3) / Playstation 3 Game / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                            07.06.2012 20:12
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                            Your ps3 is not complete without this game!!

                            I'm not a huge fighting game fan, but if on the occasion a good fighting game on Playstation3 is required then Tekken will always be the one. I am an occasional gamer who doesn't lose sleep over games, but I do know a good game when I see one and although when it comes to Tekken 6 I usually start out by only wanting to play maybe a game or two, I seem to get far too addicted to it. The positives have to be that it is the type of game you can learn very quickly and can play over and over again and never get bored (as it's very addictive!); the bad points is it is a difficult game to master - getting to the highest rank takes a lot of hard work, and I'm no where near it.

                            Tekken 6 was released in 2010 by Japanese developers Namco Bandai and is available on either Playstation 3 or X-Box. I am reviewing the PS3 game.

                            Scenario Campaign
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                            The story of Tekken 6 is about Lars Alexandersson, a member of the Tekken Force military unit, who is rebelling against Jin Kazama's organisation (Mishima Zaibatsu) and Kazuya Mishima's (Jin's biological father) G-Corporation who are at heads with one another. Kazuya sends for Jin to be captured, so Jin in turn calls for The King of Iron Fist Tournament 6 against the G-Corporation in order to bring down Kazuya Mishima. This is where all the characters are called upon and come together to battle one another:

                            "Some seek fame. Some seek the bounty on Jin's head. Some seek soley to banish their own inner demons. Each fighter has a unique agenda".

                            As we begin our campaign we are given the story from the start - the very first "Tekken" to the current Tekken in the form of a series of appealing animated videos which although is pretty lengthy, are also very easy to skip by. When the story mode begins, Lars is our leader and the player controls him by completing stages with whatever obstacles lie in his way and fight all enemy that is presented before him. Alisa, who Lars awakens her out of cryo-sleep when he meets her, will always be by Lars side during the start, helping him along. A tutorial is given to begin with in order to get you used to the controls. Once you are past the tutorial, more and more stages are unlocked by completing the objectives. As this happens, Lars will be able to receive help from other players of your limited choice and their background stories are also revealed in time. Money bags and treasure chests need to be picked up as you go along which contain rewarding items.

                            My only problem with this campaign mode is that since the characters are all in a 3-D setting, it is sometimes difficult to control them, as you need to use your d-pad or left stick a lot more in order to get in the right position to attack the enemy. If it were in a 2-D setting, then you wouldn't really be bothering with trying to make sure you get into the right position. The good graphics of the game probably meant something had to be sacrificed (will talk about graphics later on); either way, I learnt that if you are in a position where you are surrounded by enemies from all directions, the left direction button and square works really well!

                            Detail about the game
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                            * The characters: There are at least 40 characters - the same characters as Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection and a few new like Bob, the fat American who is surprisingly a VERY quick Martial Arts expert and never lets me down (looks can be deceiving in this game) and Miguel, who I've tried playing a few times but his smug and big ego always seems to get the better off him (and kills me..). All of them as they play have health bars on top in green, which eventually drop as you fail in the battle until its red and reaches "rage", just prior to "K.O". If you drop to this rage stage, some of your most impactuous moves could cause some serious damage to your opponent, so take advantage of it. You will also be able to see your enemies health bar, so you know how far he or she has left. As you browse the list of character, you will notice that all are accessible and do not need to be unlocked - which is great in one way as you have free and direct right to use to all of them, but in another sense the fun in working on "unlocking" certain stages and the characters will have been lost. Finally, all the characters have their own agenda and their own unique strength (or weakness). To get an idea, some of the characters include Panda who I tend to find a little bit irritating (sorry to those Panda lovers) and is skilled at bear fighting taught by Heihachi Mishima, the host of Tekken back in the day. Then there is Sergei Dragunov, one of the few human-like fighters who looks like a (Russian) Nazi (unless you give him a outfit change later on with your fight money) and has some very strong attacks - one of my first favourites. Another of my favourites, Yoshimitsu, the Samurai God who can recharge his own health meter and heal himself through "meditation", that's of course if your opponent will let you...then there's Devil Jin whose laser eyes can dangerously bring down his enemy and another strong fighter is android Alisa who appears at the start of the campaign - she has wings and her flying ability along with built-in chainsaws makes her a very strong and ruthless competitor.

                            * Graphics: The quality of the graphics is very good. Movements of the characters during fighting or when in motion is very fluid and realistic allowing you to judge attacks much accurately and in turn feeling very natural to play. When you do the leg-pulling attack for example, how you deny that it doesn't look painful! There is lots of detail in the graphics and personally I would say the visuals are good enough to not let it badly or minutely affect your game play. There is no blurring during quick motions which means the quality of the graphics continue to look super and the vibrant colours just gives it that extra appeal. The graphics of the different stages that are available to play in (you do not need to unlock any of these) are just as attractive; some are multi-tier where if you throw your opponent onto the ground or walls, they will break and you will fall to the lower-level to continue the battle. When this happens, the graphics remain just as spot-on, with no blurring or disorientation. There are also things going on in the back of all of the stages available (roughly 14 stages), some have more things happening than others like in stage called "Urban War Zone" cars are thrown around after explosions or in "Mystical Forest" which is a forest pond you are basically fighting in shallow sparkly water and looks fantastic. Some stages are more interesting than other but none of them lack terrific graphic detail.

                            * Sound: Sound is just as strong as the graphics in Tekken 6. During fighting all attacks presents a sound; the stronger one deliver an even more pounding and crushing sound, making you further proud of the attack you just pulled. Along with this each of the stages has its own soundtrack that plays throughout battle - some cool, some annoying like the sheep stage, for example. But these can be adjusted in the settlings. And finally all the characters have something to say before the match begins; whoever wins at the end of the match is likely to say something smug - all expect Dragunov, who is a mute or just doesn't like to say anything, which is why he is so great...

                            * Gameplay: The game relies a lot on button bashing. Its different to Street Fighter in the sense that you are able to learn to play right away, you don't really need to practice or think about your moves beforehand, you just bash whatever controls you think seem right and you are likely to hurt your contestant in some way or other. Each of four buttons controls a limb of your fighter and combined with the directional buttons you can create some killer attacks. Once you play more, you will then be able to press two limb button together for example with one of the directional buttons and create some stronger attacks. It really comes with practice and each of the characters has its own strongest combos. Basically what we had in Tekken 5 is what we get here, like chain attacks where you can pull off consecutive attacks that can forcefully damage your opponent or wall-hits where knocking your character against the walls and attacking from within that space will make them pretty defenceless. The first time I played Tekken, I always liked to master around 2-4 players before I moved on and started fighting some more players, because as easy as it seems to just button-bash, there are some hidden moves in each of the characters that you need to learn in order to consistently win fights. And the nice thing about it is that each character is different; if you have been playing Devil Jin for too long, and then decide to switch to Steve Fox the boxer, it may be a bit awkward to work at first.

                            OFFLINE MODE
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                            * Arcade battle: This is the mode in which you can play quick matches against the CPU. Just pick your character out of the long list and the CPU will be ready to take you on. It is pretty much the same way you will play online with your friends, through the character select screen and then select a stage, and get started. There are around 2 minimal rounds depending on how easy you or your opponent is able to knock you out, but most likely and if your pretty much equal, it will go on for a third round or fourth and final round. You could even conclude with a draw at the end of the game if you both knocked each other out at the same time in that final round.

                            * Ghost battle: The ghost battle is a great way of battling your way through different opponents and climbing up in rank. Each of the "ghost" you are faced with is CPU controlled and will be on a different rank - some higher than you, some lower - though before your battle begins you can choose from a choice of three. It is through ghost battling that you can easily progress up in ranks and I reached to at least 1st Dan level with my favourite fighters such as Yoshimitsu, Alisa, Sergei Dragunov and Bryan Fury, this way and than after that online - because, the highest rank you will be able to reach on offline mode is1st Dan. To get any higher you will need to battle online. The nice thing about Ghost Battle is that for each battle you win, you will be rewarded in fight money.

                            * Survival: Survival is pretty much the same as ghost battle, but once you reach stage 5 you will be faced with different CPU opponents where you will try to fight as many battles as you can whilst keeping your health bar up. As you win a round, your health bar will increase slightly but ends when you go into rage mode and are knocked out.

                            * Practice mode: Practice mode is where your fighter can train and build up new skills and manoeuvres which will all be helpful later on in your fights. All this mode involves is, once you have selected the fighter you want to train, select an opponent you want to attack and basically just use him or her and a punch bag to practice your moves on. This is your chance to work out how to master that 10-hit combo (see below for more about this killer) and later on use it during the actual fights.

                            ONLINE MODE
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                            The online mode allows you to do a number of things, like play a ranked match where you are able to record your score on the leaderboard or invite a friend for an online battle session and play consecutive matches against them - they just need to be online the same time as you. They will choose the character they want and you are free to choose yours. If you want to play against a real person rather than the CPU and your friends don't happen to be online, then you can go for a quick player match where you can choose whichever character you want, like you did when playing with your friends, but instead you are connected and synched online to someone else around the world in order to kick their butt. For me, this online match whether its with friends or a quick player match around the world is really great to participate in one-off short and sweet matches. I don't have a problem with the connection myself and whenever I have played online it has never been slow, lagged or disconnected mid-play; but my only problem is that automatic connection to an opponent can take a long time, so I find it best just to wait until a friend is online to battle against them.

                            Other bits
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                            * The 10-hit Combo: The 10-hit combo is basically a way in which if you press a full combination of buttons around 8-10 controls long, in a certain order, where some are pressed down at the same time, which in turn will enable you to bring down your opponent, supposedly, without them even getting the chance of attacking you. The truth about the 10-bit combo, in my opinion anyway, is that it is too much to memorise and too much hard work for something that is supposed to be fun (and mostly because it doesn't always work out for all of my characters lol). Either way though, defeating your opponent with a 4-hit combo, which is a 4 button attack or even a 3-hit combo is just as effective. I'm not really bothered if within the middle of my technique, I get attacked - either way, I'll get my own back later!

                            * Ranks: The motive of the game is to reach the highest rank possible of course. You start of at 9th Kyu and you then just work your way up and up by fighting a lot and improving your skills. The highest you can reach is Tekken God, but you will past many ranks to reach that - you have got to reach Tekken Lord before you become GOD and then you will be the master of your favourite character.

                            * Fight money: Oh, and the other motive is that monetary reward - earning fight money! But as much as this sounds good, there is not much you can do with your fight money other than give the characters of your choice a make-over in the "Custom" mode where you can purchase (or sell) new things and accessories for your characters - from a new hair-do, to new boots or even an aura which is pretty cool - but expensive, the aura is probably the most expensive at around ten million dollars or something....! And trust me, that takes a lot to earn...

                            Overall: Value for money
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                            Tekken 6 is one of few games that is has brilliant value for money mostly because once you have completed the campaign or story mode, you are still likely to continue using the game as you can play quick casual matches with friends or online. This makes it a game which will is likely not to be left on the shelf never to be returned to. It is a easy game to get into and learn, though a very difficult game to know all about - learning to defend properly, to master the 10-bit combo, to reach higher ranks are all very tough to achieve; though the great thing about it is it never gets frustrating when it does get tough. The fun never disappears for me, and with the amazing graphics, the ever-brilliant characters and the overall fantastic gameplay, Tekken 6 should be a must-have for PS3 (or X-Box) owners - if you don't have a PS3, get one just to play the game! ;)

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