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Although I'm coming up for renewal on my 24 month contract, it seems like yesterday that I upgraded my Motorola for an Apple device, going with the same brand my family all have. Having damaged my previous phone, I figured that a screen protector was a sensible option for my nice, new iPhone and set to getting a top quality one.
Zagg is a reputable company, and specialise in protective equipment for a range of devices. What makes them strong with the competition is the touch screen reliability that remains after attaching one of their protective screens, and so having bought one for a nominal amount (I think it was about £10 or something like that) I attached it to my phone.
It's a thin but durable piece of what seems like plastic, to be honest, and doesn't actually seem to do much on first look. I have dropped my phone a number of times since applying this, but what I noticed was that very rarely did I ever drop it onto something that was edged. My cover for my phone (as in the protective cover around the whole of my phone) actually gives me a couple of millimetres of protection all the way round, which means that a screen protector doesn't actually do much other than provide a slightly less sensitive touch screen experience.
So I took it off.
I did notice the difference in touch screen quality almost immediately, although it's really not that bad. You still get the functionality you'd expect, you just have to be a bit more certain amount where you touch the screen and the consistency with depression on the screen. It's a snug fit around the edge when it's on though, and when I'm out and about, I do sometimes put it on in case I drop it on some coarse gravel or stones or something where there's an edge. As this is rare, I usually keep it off, especially at work, but for that piece of mind then it's certainly worth having it. My wife and son have both experienced smashed screens and it's an annoying amount of money to get that fixed, whereas you could just fork out a small amount and have that element of peace of mind.
So, it does the job it needs to, although it might be worth removing it when you're in a safe environment in order to improve the touch screen element. Recommended.
Whether you're going to fork out and get a proper cover or case for your iPad depends on just how much you're likely to use the device itself and in what circumstances. I would hasten to add at the outset that although there are many cases which allow for usage while it's in it, such as snug fit and access to the buttons, this really is more about a protective carry case that it can slot in and out of.
The majority of the case features a soft protective foam zippable soft fabric cover. Visually, it is ribbed, and the stitching is very professional and of a high standard. This has durability and as a transporting case for your ipad it is something I would highly recommend. One side is covered with the rib design, whereas the other has two leather pads, one on the top and one on the bottom. This adds to the design and makes the product look rather professional.
What we're essentially looking at here though is something more akin to a laptop bag rather than a protective case from which you can still operate the device, which is what most people will be looking for. You can still use it when it's in the case, as the zip allows for nearly full access in this respect, although it's cumbersome and restrictive.
Retailing at around the £20 but often available at a hefty discount, the important thing is to consider what you're actually getting this for. If you're looking for something that allows you to still use the iPad whilst giving it protection, then look elsewhere. If you're looking for a case that allows for safe transportation, then the padded effect of this should give you comfort - it might take up a bit more room, but it's of quality design that rings true to form for Port Design. Recommended, but be careful what you need to use it for.
Similar to Apple's own bumper case for the iPhone4 but notably cheaper, whether or not the Scosche bandEDGE is useful to you depends very much on how you treat your phone and ultimately what your lifestyle is like.
The silicon outer rim is soft to the touch but the interior is hard plastic and this provides the effective protection with a clear effect to make it look minimalistic and to not weigh a lot or hide the device, with 4mm or so being added.
It's slightly flexible, but durable. When you fit it, you do need to stretch it a little, and I do wonder about the actual fit. There's potentially a little bit too much give between the bandEDGE and phone, and this is a genuine concern.
There's a comfortable grip and the controls are easy to access at first glance. However, the case does cover the side buttons and these aren't the easiest to depress when you need to. You do get used to having to press them a little bit harder than you might with other cases, but it's not ideal.
In terms of protection, there are screen protectors that come with it, but these are more for protecting against scratches rather than dropping, so don't expect this to provide a full protective all round cover for your phone.
You have to look at this from a value point and how much you actually use the phone. If it tends to stay in your pocket, then this may end up just being the peace of mind you're after, but as this is only actually a little bit less than a genuine Apple cover, then you may be better off paying a small amount extra and getting the full quality you're after.
I just can't feel comfortable with this around my phone, and when I switch it back to a genuine Apple product, I'm much more at ease and this says a lot for me. Not recommended as much as I thought I would.
The recent Judge Dredd film featured the 2000AD character fighting his way upwards through a large crime riddled apartment block to get to the crime boss at the top. I remember thinking at the time that it was a great idea, but left a little to be desired in the execution. What I hadn't realised is that this was no unique plot, but that this Indonesian action packed film was sitting there doing the same thing. Now with a sequel to boot, The Raid is just one of a long line of foreign language films that deserve to be watched and promoted, and was enjoyable throughout.
Billed as an action film, it delivered perfectly on its promise. There is a moment early on to try and tug at the heartstrings, as our hero SWAT officer Rama (Iko Uwais) leaves his pregnant wife at home to go and be part of the raiding party on this film's crime riddled apartment block. There's small effort to identify individuals at the beginning of the raid, but as nearly every character is in identical SWAT riot gear there is no real need to do this for a good few minutes.
It doesn't start off as well as planned, and the raiders' number is severely reduced, which gives us an underdog situation of good vs evil as the few raiders work out how to make their way to the top and escape. When the characters start being developed, we get a treat - it's done through the action and fight choreography, which is nothing short of brilliant.
Eastern action films tend to be focused on martial arts, but this has a combination of brutal fighting and martial arts mixed in with fast paced action and attack. The fact that it's all done in a dingy and dirty apartment block with a variety of camera angles, short and wide shots and a healthy dose of bloody and fatal violence means that the element of realism is very much present for the most part of the film. There are a generous dose of villains, and a slight twist in the tale which is somewhat evident from early on but still has a decent impact when it arrives.
The turns from Uwasi as well as villainous henchmen Yayan Ruhian and Donny Alamsyah are very strong, and the action makes this what it is. The enjoyability factor is very high, and it's one of the better modern action films I've seen. If you don't like action and violence, then you probably should steer clear of this film, as that's pretty much what it's about. As long as you like this genre, and you can stomach a few graphic scenes, then I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy this - it's very well done and represents Indonesian cinema with pride. Recommended.
Donna Tartt was recommended to me by a colleague, and she suggested this was the best book to start with. Reading the blurb, I was really looking forward to it, a seemingly Dead Poets sort of campus feel, with endless terms harking back to a time when Greek and Latin were spoken by those who considered themselves in the upper echelons of modern English speaking society.
I found that the reality of reading Tartt is a different thing to that which I expected. Detail upon detail is given, whether you want it or not, but the elegant prose with which she scripts is so enchanting at times that you can't help but read every word for fear of leaving something important out.
At the outset of the novel, narrator Richard Papen reflects on his formative years at the elite Hampden college in Vermont, and in particular on the death of Bunny Corcoran, a friend of his. As the book progresses, the narrative is told through Richard's reflections on the events building up to Bunny's death. In doing so, Tartt introduces us to Richard's fellow classics students: the highly intellectual and magnetic Henry; the jittery Francis, whose parents' country home forms part of an escape for the group; twins Charles and Camilla, whom Tartt portrays as painfully beautiful; Richard the narrator, who presents himself as a reclusive and pensive character; and Bunny, a bouncy and lively character with more social than academic leanings and a penchant for getting his friends into trouble.
Aside from the occasional additional character, particularly towards the end of the novel, these six are the mainstay of the novel, and although there are long passages of the text when they do not appear, these do drag, and the reintroduction of one or more of them into the tale inevitably brings with it some more excitement. Tartt's characterisation is not in question as far as I am concerned, and it was only after I'd finished that the same colleague indicated that there were plenty of bits you could easily skip, and that she thought Tartt had been a bit indulgent and perhaps needed a stricter editor. I agreed, but could have done with the info a bit earlier!
Essentially, that's a pretty good way of summing the book up - there are plenty of occasions where she builds tension, but this is often over a period of 20 or 30 pages, and is occasionally laboured, in my opinion. Don't approach this with a view to having a quick read, for that's exactly what it is not. Stephen King is the master at dragging things out and giving you far more information than you'll ever need, but I find that there are snippets that are essential to the plot in his work, whereas with this really did feel like you could chop a whole load of the filler text out and it would still have the same impact. Recommended, but with its caveats.
I've never really worried too much about getting the right tyres for my car during the colder months, but this particular cold snap and the offer from my father in law has prompted me to go for the best tyres I can get for the sort of roads I'm likely to encounter. It being winter, and me living by the coast, the grip is essential as the coastal wind can really make the wet roads turn icy in the blink of an eye, and although previous years haven't really yielded a sudden variety to worry about, this year's extreme freezes in the south west really have made me think.
Enter Goodyear. Usually I just go with whatever is the cheapest, but this does not always mean the most efficient for my car. I find that the Goodyear tyres are of top quality, and this particular tyre fit my car perfectly. The biggest lure for me with these tyres was that they are designed to be better on wintry roads, and we've certainly had a few of those recently. I think that the extra grip these tyres have afforded me have been well worth the extra cost I've paid for them, and although you're never sure whether you're going to slide around on the roads or not, the better the tyre, the better the grip, in all honesty.
In terms of cost, these tyres are easily over the £50 mark per tyre, but I still reckon they're worth the extra money to ensure you're you're getting the best safety out of them. Having two kids also makes me think twice about what tyres to get and whether my car is safe enough on the road or not, and sometimes having the best tyres available is a reassurance that you've secured your and their safety.
Giving you the extra grip is most notable on the wet or wintry roads, but you can also notice this during general driving. On normal driving, the cornering with these tyres is much better, and you almost make sure you drive in a more controlled fashion because you respect what you've put on the bottom of your car to get you from A to B. Sure, the cost is a part of this, but it certainly feels like you have more quality taking you to your destination each time.
Cost wise, I'm looking at my local garage, and there's probably an extra £15 or so, maybe more, on each individual tyre, to what I usually buy for my car. You notice the grip, and if you;re going to replace all four tyres, you'd certainly expect that £60+ would help you notice a difference.
And it does - thankfully. I feel safe when driving with these tyres in a wintry climate. Once the weather warms up, I'll switch back to cheaper tyre, no doubt, but when winter comes around again, these will be my tyres of choice.
iPad cases are often a bit of a lottery - I've used plenty which have been designed for a specific model but haven't been useful, and some that have been right on the money. It's a fine line between efficiently protective and missing the mark. This Trust Smart Stand is a hardcover iPad case which I find to be one of the better models, although not perfect.
The case fits snugly around the corners of the iPad, and only adds a little amount of width to the iPads dimensions. The hard rubber is much better than most of the softer rubberised cases I've seen, and the benefits of this one are in the reassurance you can get from the protection it offers. There's no 'give' in the corners, but it's a bit more flexible around these and the edges than the flat surface of the back.
The front is divided into four segments which can fold. I've used cases with three sections before and it limits the usage for propping up, etc. Having four means that you hold up a triangle as a support at back to have your iPad leaning up against itself to present a near vertical device without having to hold it. It only works on the horizontal axis though, so having portrait shapes on your screen will be somewhat limited to the height of the horizontal screen.
It flips open and closed quite easily, and the connection between the four segments is solid - there are no gaps, which provides complete suction around the edges for the magnetised edges of the lid, which is somewhat more flexible than the backing. I think this is one of the best features of it, certainly as a new device.
If I had a criticism of this, it would be that after a lot of usage, the shape does seem to get slightly less robust, at least with the four segments on the top. Slight sliding from the lid means that the iPad could be 'open' without you realising it, draining battery and activating some features, as the magnetic element isn't the strongest and could easily lessen. I suppose something like this isn't necessarily designed for long long term use, although at £10 you'd hope it would be more durable for a longer time. I started noticing the lesser quality of closure after a few months, and although it remained solid for quite a while, it reduces its quality enough that you'd notice and perhaps think twice about getting this again as a replacement case.
The thing with this is that its options for support and initial quality are enough to warrant recommendation. I would recommend this and have used a few of these, mainly for work, where the iPads get plenty of use from a wide range of people. They last quite well and for £10 or thereabouts are worth the price tag.
Aside from seeing Kevin Bacon flaunt just how fast his internet runs with 4G from EE, he is also an extremely accomplished actor. Lending his talents to a TV show is something that I know many have waited for since I don't know when, and we finally get it with The Following.
It follows Bacon as Ryan Hardy, a retired FBI profiler who is also a recovering alcoholic with a heart problem - give the guy a break - whose nemesis in the form of Brit acting stalwart James Purefoy is taunting him from prison in anticipation of the release of his new autobiopgraphy.
It seems that Purefoy's psychotic mass murderer character, Joe Carroll, has attracted a large cult following, which is evident from the rather graphic beginning to the series when we see a woman inflict physical harm on herself because 'Joe wills it'. Thus ensues a game of cat and mouse as surprise after surprise arises with who has become one of Joe's followers. No one is safe, and anyone could be a follower, willing to spring him from prison, kill for him or even maim themselves.
The premise is very good, and the format builds up the tension episode after episode. We soon become familiar with characters on both sides, as the FBI bring Ryan out of retirement as a consultant and team him up with a select few who are capable of tackling the situation, and a core of followers are also focused on to give us the other side of the coin. The skill in the writing and acting is in the sympathy that we sometimes end up feeling for the followers, and in the annoyance we experience at the actions of some of the FBI and other 'good guys'.
In terms of style, it's extremely dark and doesn't really pull any punches - you sometimes see things dialled down in a TV series in order to appeal week upon week, but this is full on every episode and actually quite shocking in a memorable sense, especially in the first few weeks. I thought that things tailed off a little bit mid season and there were a couple of episodes where I was a bit disappointed, but it certainly picked up towards the end and finished with a bang! The clever thing from the writers' perspective was in finishing each episode on a cliffhanger of some sort, whether it be a couple of minutes of dark suspense followed by a jumpy moment, or a surprise unforeseen twist at the end that makes you want to watch the next episode right away, and not have to wait another week, as originally televised.
Luckily, with the boxset, you can go straight to the next episode, and I wouldn't be surprised if this dark and twisting psychological thriller of a TV series isn't gobbled up within a few days of starting it. Very dark and not for the faint of heart, but well worth a watch.
Many years ago, the Earth was invaded by the Formics. Heroes fought off the attackers, with ultimate warrior Mazer Rackham sacrificing himself in a suicide mission to destroy the enemy mothership and cease the fighting. It's now 2154, and fearing a new attack, soldiers are trained from a very young age to be recruited into those worthy of leading any prospective battles. One such is Ender Wiggin, the brightest tactical brain they've seen for a long time - and he's still a child.
Ender's Game focuses on Wiggin's journey through training, demonstrating the military tactical awareness that the forces are after. The film develops him as a character quite well, following a tried and tested formula of entering military training at the bottom and working his way up, making friends and enemies alike as he progresses through. I suppose most of the focus should be on the technology used for the film rather than the plot itself, at least in large part, as it is particularly futuristic and well delivered.
A lot of the film focuses on simulation of battles, and some of the futuristic elements used within these scenes are quite impressive. There has certainly been some clever visualisation of the original script gone into this production. When Ender enters a game specifically created for him, the design is quite impressive, and this follows through to the end of the film as well.
The acting is generally very good, with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis perhaps the most recognisable names and faces, but with Asa Butterfield as Ender proving to be a solid lead role. The living quarters featured in the film remind me a little of Pacific Rim, a bit dark and dingy and claustrophobic, but this merely highlights the fact that we're dealing with children rather than adults being trained to lead the fight, and this somehow gives it more of a desperate edge, at the same time as making you feel a little nervous and slightly disbelieving due to the unlikely nature of children being the saviours of our future.
The film has a powerful ending, one that I didn't see coming, but it is well crafted and easy to predict if you're thinking about it. To be honest, the film largely flows very smoothly and is quite simple to follow, which is perhaps why I was concentrating as intensely as I might have been and therefore just watched it without thinking of what might happen. As a result, the end was impressive and as the credits rolled I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. There's nothing overly special about it, and I wouldn't rant and rave about it, but it's certainly worth a watch if you spot it.
As dark vigilante films go, you don't get much more on the money than 'The Crow'. Famously the film in which Brandon Lee lost his life during filming, he stars as Eric Draven, murdered along with his raped fiancée, Shelley, by a gang of city street thugs. A legendary tale of the power of the crow allows for the winged creature to resurrect one soul for the purpose of revenge, and Draven is chosen exactly one year after his death. With the assistance of the crow, Draven makes his way through the gang, one by one, to kill them all as revenge.
A very simple premise, done very well. Other films have tried, and failed, to follow a simple plot such as this, but I think the key here is in keeping the film very dark. There are only minor tugs at the heartstrings, and the characters are not allowed to talk at length. This is a film designed for the visual, something for the special effects, visual display and mood creators to get their teeth into. You're not going to get much in the way of sophisticated speech; this is one man, returned from the dead, exacting revenge on those who killed him and the one he loved.
From the young girl, Sarah (Rochelle Davis) who is a friend of Eric's and recognises him post-resurrection, to Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson), prominent at the scenes of both the initial murders and the vigilante gang slayings; and from each individual in the gang, to their leader Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), speech is minimal and only included when necessary. The characters in the gang are characterised as the vengeful Draven finds them. Some choice conversation as he finds each one is all we need to understand them as characters: killing someone is nothing to them. At each juncture, director Alex Proyas gives us flashbacks as Draven is able to see, through the crow's eyes, the actions of the individual that led to his and Shelley's death, spurring him on even further.
Vigilantes on screen are commonplace now, with many comic book superhero being made into TV shows and films. Just over 20 years ago, when this was released in 1994, it wasn't quite so prevalent on our screens, and the dark nature of the film is perhaps what has spurred many on to create what we see now. Vigilantism is a very dark thing, and the film takes place entirely at night. The special effects are very good for the 90s, and minimal enough so that the actions are seen to be as human as possible, despite being an undead avenger meaning that he can't die...again.
Excellently directed and acted, this is simplicity done spot on. There will always be discussion over the fact that it was an incomplete film due to filming ceasing after Brandon Lee's death, but what we do have as a result is a richly dark film that's well worth a watch, more than once.
Needed a 'passes the time' film to spend with my poorly 10 year old yesterday evening, and we came across this on Netflix and decided to give it a go.
A scientist invents a search and rescue robot (Robosapiens) only to find that his employers are prepared to adapt the design to mass produce search and destroy robots because of the higher financial reward. When he deletes the production files allowing access to the internal workings and urges robosapiens to run, a chance encounter with a high school science geek provides temporary safety from the bad guys.
What follows is quite an endearing film, with the kid, Henry, his older sister who is embarrassed to have him as a brother, and their single mum accepting robosapiens into their home after a few tense scenes where he proves to be more of a hinderance than a help. The entertainment comes thick and fast, there are a few funny moments, and the main plot of robosapiens being sought by the villains is often forgotten for the more child oriented adoption of a funky robot - why wouldn't you?
A few social topics are tackled, with bullying probably foremost. Films targeted at kids regularly do this, and there's no exception here, with the class bully picking on Henry throughout the film. Films often deal with this in a flippant manner, but I quite liked how this film tackled the subject and with its overall outcome. It also focuses quite well on the sibling rivalry and how love is there despite them appearing to not being able to stand the sight of each other. I guess the acting is key here, and while there's nothing to write home about, the acting is decent enough. The biggest name I recognise is Penelope Ann Miller, although I wouldn't call her a big name. I recognised a couple of faces, but ultimately it's not the sort of film where you would expect to see famous faces. It's a middle of the road film and everything sort of fits with this.
The technology involved is quite good - I can see the awkwardness of having a robot performing functions like a human boy would, and the special effects team have worked this quite well in terms of making it seem realistic. They don't try to overdo it at any point, which is good, and the main focus remains on the story rather than the effects. If you're after something entertaining that'll pass the time with a couple of laughs and not taking itself too seriously, yet all the while delivering some morals in a gentle fashion, this is certainly worth a shout.
I love Molton Brown products, but I usually don't have to buy them as I get them bought for me, at Christmas and on my birthday. We have a good range of their products at home, and my favourite is probably the Black Peppercorn body wash. The recharge comes a close second and at times I opt for it rather than this, but they're both in favour with me throughout the year.
I find that some products are better at different times of the year, the refreshing ones in Summer and the cuddly and warmer feeling ones in the Winter, for example. Black Peppercorn works for me all year round, and gives me a good confidence level after coming out of the shower. Its smooth gloopy gel comes out of the bottle nice and easily, although it depends which bottle size you get as to whether you'll find it easy to dispense or not. I must admit, there are plenty of brands that get their dispensers spot on, and Molton Brown does fall down on this, especially with the bigger bottles, which operate solely on a screw top lid and you have to pour some of the liquid out. It's very similar to the Bayliss & Harding bottles (I'm guessing the latter has designed theirs with MB in mind), but the difference is that Molton Brown products come out of the bottles nice and easily, whereas some others don't. It would certainly be easier with a plunger on top, but other than that I have no gripes.
In terms of the product itself, it is great for my skin, as it leaves it refreshed and vitalised, rather than drying out quickly afterwards. I still have to use moisturiser on a regular basis because of my dry skin, but this product does make it less of an issue. The scent is pleasant before you lather it up and mix it with water, and when that combination happens, the friction of rubbing it into a lather on your hands brings out all the scents, from the reassuringly masculine black peppercorn, to the gentle and more effeminate coriander oil and basil oil that bring out some fresh herbal scents.
And the smell lingers nicely when you get out of the shower as well. I like scents that overload your senses in a reassuring way when you're washing but aren't overpowering once you've finished, and this one certainly ticks the box. I find that a few hours later, I can still get a faint whiff of the Black Peppercorn every now and then, as long as I choose my deodorant and aftershave wisely so as to not clash with this.
It's a great product, the only falling down being its screw top rather than a plunger. The antioxidants certainly help my skin, and the scent lingers just how I like it to. Lovely product. Highly recommended.
I'm never sure why some products specify they're for women rather than men, or vice versa. I'm sure it's relevant in some cases, but for a long time, I've used specific women's products, and my wife has used some of my men specific products. Liz Earle products fall into this category quite a lot in my household, but the most commonly 'shared' product is shaving foam.
Some foams are lovely and wonderful, foaming up and opening the pores to make hair removal easy, while others barely do anything more than a bit of soap would. This particular product, Tesco Sensitive Shaving Gel (for women!) does wonders with my sensitive skin most of the time, and is pretty effective in part for some sort of after shaving moisturiser.
Standard can with a lid that pops off and on pretty easily. Always shake it before using, otherwise the foam comes out as a dribbly non-mixed blue goo. Once shaken, the nozzle is pretty easy to use, and squirts out this blue gel into your hands. A small amount is enough really, depending on what you use it for, and bear in mind I'm talking about shaving my face here. Rub the gel between your hands gently and it lathers up into a whiter gloopy foam with a blue tint - I'm not sure what the active ingredient that causes this is, but it tends to be commonplace in these sorts of products now.
Applying it to your face is easy enough - I always make sure to shave after showering as my pores will still be open and hair removal is easier and more effective. Once this foam has been applied, your razor then does the rest. I find this foam does a good job is preparing the hair for shaving, and after all that is what it is designed for, so I'm happy.
In terms of aftercare, I do feel that this is ideal. My skin, so often sensitive and dry, is smooth for quite a while after shaving and smells quite refreshing as well. There isn't much of an aroma, which is fine, as my aftershave accounts for this. However, if I didn't use this then the pleasant and faint aroma would be enough. The moisturising element is a nice addition as you wouldn't necessarily expect this from such as product.
This is a decent product and very affordable. It occasionally makes me question the more expensive brands, although on the rare occasions when I use these (round a friend's house, etc) there is often a slight difference but not enough to warrant us changing brand. Incidentally, my wife and I both use this product and she is equally as happy with it. It's more affordable than other products and lasts quite while. Recommended.
Take this as it is = a chance for 4 ageing actors to show that they still have it when it comes to delivering on screen. They pretty much pull it off too, with a healthy dose of comedy coupled with an ease of being on screen that can only come with experience.
The film starts off gently, with an intro of 4 friends as kids, before fast forwarding 58 years to see 3 of them past life's best, coming together once more to celebrate the 4th bachelor party in Vegas before he gets married to a woman half his age, the butt of many jokes about how young she is compared to him. The four stalwarts of the screen (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) actually work very well together, sparking off each other on screen and playing Vegas to its full.
Recently, they've been on screen less and less. I've seen a few things with De Niro, and the occasional Freeman cameo, but the other two not so much, and it was a reminder of how suave Douglas is and just how funny Kline is in a natural way. Many have slated this film, saying it's more about 4 desperate old actors needing a bit of kick start in the twilight of their careers, but as long as you look at this as a bit of fun then youre unlikely to be disappointed.
Each character has something to offer. The basic premise is the bachelor party, with Douglas' successful businessman and De Niro's bathrobe wearing recluse not speaking, Morgan's stroke-endangered grandfather sneaking out to Vegas from the watchful eye of his son, and Kline's hip and knee replacement wise cracker with a weekend 'pass' from his wife, along with a card, condom and Viagra. A recipe for comedy, if not disaster. Extra bits such as them being mistaken for 4 heads of drugs cartels, a small cameo from 50 cent and the occasional reference to some of their older films are all welcome, and the plot ticks along nicely.
There are no surprises, it's all a bit of fun, and the mild attempt at genuine romance is probably a bit out of place, but it's nice to see these four actors on screen. They were commonplace in my youth and I've enjoyed seeing them again. They clearly had fun filming this, the acting is decent even if they don't seem to be making much of an effort, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a sequel of some sort at some point. It's basically a geriatric and dumbed down version of The Hangover, and well worth a watch, even if it is nothing special.
The gruff tones of Gerard Butler come full force with terrorists in this full on action thriller. Butler plays a former Secret Service agent who has been sidelined to a Treasury desk job after a disastrous event, but when the White House comes under attack and the President is taken hostage, he kickstarts back into attack mode and tries to save the day.
If you're looking for improbable Hollywood action cheese with explosive special effects that Michael Bay would be proud of, look no further. Right from the start, cast members such as Butler, Dylan McDermott (on fire at the moment in film and TV) and Aaron Eckhart flex their thespian muscles as director Antoine Fuqua leaves us in no doubt that he is not fussed about taking things slowly and developing the characters, while other recognisable such as Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett only join in later on. It's all about the action.
I suppose as long as you don't expect too much from this film, it's great. Writers Creighton Rothenberger (fantastic name) and Katrin Benedikt keep the pace moving with characterisation done through action and stilted conversation as we have a glimpse into yet another potential way in which the heart of the US can be attacked. It's actually quite clever, and well staged, with timings, double crosses, a bruised foreign ego and some harsh violence all combine to provide more than just an entertaining hour and 45 minutes of virtually non stop action.
It's easy to compare this to White House Down, with an extremely similar plot and starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum (cheesy brawn yet again), but I felt this was the more superior of the two in terms of entertainment. Despite the unlikely bravado and improbably situations, there is a certain element of this film that takes itself incredibly seriously without overdoing it.
One way in which this is achieved is by heightening the level of violence shown towards some of the hostages and the sheer scale of what would happen should the terrorists' plan succeed. At times, it seems a bit mindless and over the top, but the majority is well choreographed and entertaining.
They slip up with some visuals though. The replica building used is clearly not the White House. The biggest give away is that the front lawn is not much bigger than my front room, or so it seems. There is also a scene where part of the building is completely destroyed yet in later shots it appears whole and intact. Shots are fired at angles and walls with the resulting deaths only possible through an incredibly unlikely angle of ricochets or bending bullets, neither of which are the case.
Some sillier moments with the security forces don't help and are a bit of a shame, but as long as you expect entertainment and not Oscar worthiness, it does more than just pass the time. Enjoyed this one.