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shabbating
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    • More +
      11.04.2014 04:50
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      • "Good fantasy"
      • "Robert Carlyle"
      • "Lana Parrilla"

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      • "Too much sweetness"

      Another fantasy hit.

      *DVD extras not reviewed ? film only review*

      Plot:

      After the events of season one, the curse is broken in Storybrooke and the fairy tale characters remember their true identities. Things can?t be happy for long in Storybrooke though as some of the group get sucked through a portal into the Enchanted Forest.

      Created by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (Lost).

      Review:

      The second season of Once Upon a Time continues to expand the cast of fairy tale characters whilst giving us a look at more of the backstory of the main players. With Emma and co. being stranded in the Enchanted Forest it gives the show another land to explore, which is a good move. Anyone who has seen the show knows that outside of Storybrooke, the computer generated landscapes are a bit lame but if you?ve made it this far then you probably don?t care. I kind of just accept that the creators are trying something pretty inventive for TV and also pretty tough to do convincingly on a TV budget.

      In my review of the first season, I said that the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) and Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) were the standouts. In the second season it is the Evil Queen that takes centre stage. Lana Parrilla is brilliant as the conniving Evil Queen; the role is tougher in this season as the Queen and Regina become different characters. Regina, the Queen?s name in Storybrooke, softens as the season progresses and although I think they soften her a bit too much, Parrilla?s portrayal of the two distinct characters is impressive. The flashbacks remind the viewer who she was but in Storybrooke, the Evil Queen loves her son. Going forward, the show needs to keep the Regina/Evil Queen kinda evil, there is enough sweetness in the show as it is. Lana Parrilla is brilliant in both roles but she exceeds at being evil, they can?t make her too soft! She is gorgeous as well (for those of you who care).

      Robert Carlyle?s accent changes so much, he goes from Scottish to creepy voice in an instant. I?m guessing it?s because he couldn?t/wouldn?t keep up the stupid Rumpel voice but for loyal viewers it is quite annoying. Aside from the accent, Carlyle continues to be a tour de force. Some may say he is too good for the show, personally I think he is excellently cast. Rumpel is more emotional in the second season, like the Evil Queen, he is more than a simple ?bad guy?. Although I do appreciate giving the evil characters more depth, I think the writers run the risk of getting rid of all the evil and just having too much niceness.

      As in my review of the first season, I find Jennifer Morrison who plays Emma Swan a little tiresome. She fails when she is pushed in the slightest, I think she would be fine as a supporting actress in a show such as this but she just doesn?t have that spark that Lana Parrilla and Ginnifer Goodwin have. It would be tough for a show to push a character like Emma Swan back into the second tier but I just don?t buy Morrison as a lead, I know she has a lot of fans but I don?t see her convincing neutral watchers.

      Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas continue to do good work as Snow White and Prince Charming. I may be alone on this, but I would like to see them take up some of Morrison?s time and become real leads of the show, along with the amazing Parrilla of course.

      The ?good? characters are just a little too sweet for me, too much ?true love? spiel that gets more and more annoying. It?s probably a good show for young kids to watch with all the ?good triumphs over evil? speeches they deal out but for anyone over the age of ten, it gets a bit sickly sweet.

      It is a good programme and the second season is always tough for shows (creators tend to have an idea for 24 episodes and then it all goes a bit off). I think the OUAT staff does a good job of backing up a very strong first season. As a Buffy fan (for life) I would like to see them push Jane Espenson to the fore and show her comedy writing skills more in the show. OUAT is a little guilty of taking itself too seriously at times, it could do with some lightness and Espenson is just the woman to do it. If it could have a little more bite then I think the show would increase in popularity.

      For anyone who hasn?t watched OUAT yet, I would urge you to do so. The first two seasons are great and it really is family fun. I think OUAT becomes a little too family friendly in the second season but it is enough to keep me hooked. For anyone who is a fan of ?genre? television, Once Upon a Time is a must.

      Cast:

      Jennifer Morrison - Emma Swan
      Ginnifer Goodwin - Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White
      Josh Dallas - David Nolan/Prince Charming
      Lana Parrilla - Regina Mills/Evil Queen
      Robert Carlyle - Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin
      Jared Gilmore - Henry Mills
      Colin O'Donoghue - Hook
      Emilie de Ravin - Belle
      Meghan Ory ? Ruby/Red Riding Hood
      Barbara Hershey - Cora
      Michael Raymond-James - Neal Cassidy

      Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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    • 24 - Season 3 (DVD) / TV Series / 17 Readings / 15 Ratings
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      04.04.2014 05:54
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      • "Great bad guys"
      • "Good twists and turns"
      • "Kiefer Sutherland"

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      • "You will binge watch it and lose your life"

      Another great season of 24.

      *DVD extras not reviewed ? film only review*

      Plot:

      Three years have passed since season two of 24. CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) receive a threat that a Mexican drug lord will release a deadly virus unless his brother is released from prison. Meanwhile, President Palmer is attempting to get re-elected for a second term.

      Review:

      If you?ve read my reviews of the first two seasons of 24 then you?ll know what it is all about. For those of you who haven?t heard of 24 (anyone?), it is a spy thriller which plays out the actions of one day in real time. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is the lead agent in the field and risks his life to subvert acts of terrorism.

      The biggest change for season three of 24 is the fact that Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) is now a member of CTU. It is quite a good move in order to keep the character in the series, there are only so many times the writers can put Kim in danger as a private citizen without it getting a little tiresome. I?m not sure when Kim became a computer whizz but I?ll go with it.

      There are some new faces in the CTU group. Star Trek?s Zachary Quinto puts in a good performance as Adam Kaufman. It is only a relatively small role but he puts some character into it and makes it more memorable. I am not such a big fan of Chloe, played by Mary Lynn Rajskub; the character has a bit of a ?personality disorder? and is very blunt. It seems like she is almost supposed to be the comic relief but she is just annoying. It is half down to the writing and half due to the actress; I just really don?t get the point in her. James Badge Dale is another new addition as Jack?s partner Chase, he is believable as an action man type but he?s not a great character. He is necessary for the plot but that is about it, I didn?t really care about what happened to him.

      Carlos Bernard is as awesome as ever as Tony Almeida but I was not buying the chemistry between him and Reiko Aylesworth?s Michelle. Both are great individually but the simmering romance between the two is just not believable and could easily have been cut out.

      President Palmer?s storyline isn?t thrilling to start with but it does get better as the season progresses. DB Woodside is a great addition as the President?s brother and chief of staff. He is brilliant in the role and plays off Dennis Haysbert well. Penny Johnson Jerald is as crazy as ever as Sherry Palmer; she is one of the best characters in the show. The President?s storyline is better this season than season two.

      The bad guys are great in season three; Joaquim de Almeida steals many a scene as Ramon Salazar. He is totally believable as a drug lord, I don?t know if that is a compliment or not. Paul Blackthorne is also great opposition to Sutherland?s Jack Bauer. This season follows the pattern of prior seasons, one bad guy leads to CTU discovering another bad guy and repeat until it gets to the big bad. In that respect it is a little predictable but with the format, it has to follow a certain formula.

      There were plenty of twists and turns that I didn?t see coming in season three, the writers definitely keep you on your toes. The style of the show remains the same, with multiple camera angles on show and of course the ticking clock, something that really makes the show distinctive. It doesn?t feel like your standard procedural, the season long arc is something that isn?t really done very often as it can alienate potential viewers but it really works for 24. I am a fan of shows that require you to see every episode, I like to commit to it and get kind of obsessed. I highly recommend season three of 24, there may be a few characters that I would change but overall it is a very strong season.

      Cast:

      Kiefer Sutherland - Jack Bauer
      Elisha Cuthbert - Kim Bauer
      Carlos Bernard - Tony Almeida
      Reiko Aylesworth - Michelle Dessler
      James Badge Dale - Chase Edmunds
      Dennis Haysbert - President David Palmer
      D.B. Woodside - Wayne Palmer
      Penny Johnson Jerald - Sherry Palmer
      Joaquim de Almeida - Ramon Salazar
      Vincent Laresca - Hector Salazar
      Paul Blackthorne - Stephen Saunders
      Zachary Quinto - Adam Kaufman
      Mary Lynn Rajskub - Chloe O'Brian
      Paul Schulze - Ryan Chappelle

      Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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    • 24 - Season 2 (DVD) / TV Series / 41 Readings / 39 Ratings
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      15.03.2014 01:53
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      Good follow up but not quite as great as season 1.

      *DVD extras not reviewed - film only review*

      Plot:

      A year after the events of season one, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is out of CTU and estranged from his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert). A threat of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles brings Jack back into the action to try and save the day once again.

      Review:

      Skipping forward a year in time is a good set up for the second season of 24, it leaves enough time for things to change but the effects of the first season can still be seen on the characters. Jack Bauer is clearly still suffering as he has a beard in the season opener, is there a clearer sign of heartache on a TV show than an overgrown beard? It doesn't take long for Jack to be brought back into the CTU fold, although he is still a little bit damaged. Bauer continues to be the best character in the show by quite a way and is seemingly 100% better than the next best federal agent.

      Jack's daughter Kim is an au pair for the Matheson family, sounds like a safe enough job but nothing with the Bauer family is straightforward. I don't want to ruin what happens with her but there is a long side plot involving Kim which is rather drawn out and not that interesting for the first 5-6 hours. I really liked Cuthbert in the first season so it was a shame that her storyline in the second season wasn't quite as strong.

      A year after the first season, David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) is now President of the USA. Palmer spends most of the season trying to work out who is working with him and who is working against him in his team. Michelle Forbes (The Killing) is Lynne Kresge, the biggest new addition to team Palmer. Forbes is strong in the role; she is tough to read but puts enough personality into it to be interesting. The David v Sherry dynamic is again the best part of the Palmer storyline.

      The Warner family are new characters this season, with the focus being on a marriage between Marie Warner and Reza Naiyeer. They are linked to the nuclear attack on LA but it isn't clear to start with who exactly is involved. Kate Warner (Sarah Wynter) gets the most screen time out of the Warner family members, which is a shame as she is pretty awful. Wynter has the same expression on her face no matter what is happening, not a big fan of hers.

      The CTU team of George Mason (Xander Berkeley), Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) and Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth) are strong. All three are good in their roles and manage to stop the show descending into melodrama despite some of the OTT dialogue.

      The nuclear threat storyline is good and the twists and turns are (semi) believable, it becomes more and more complex but as it is built up slowly it doesn't become too hard to follow.
      I like the visual style of 24; you get to see multiple views at once i.e. a camera on both parties in a conversation throughout, no switching between the two. It is something that isn't really done and gives the show its own unique style.

      Overall, it is a good second season. Some of the side storylines aren't quite as tight as in the first season so it feels like the writers are treading water at times. The main nuclear bomb threat is interesting and it is as addictive as the first season. You will lose a lot of time watching this box set, but it will be worth it. 24 is must see television.

      Cast:

      Kiefer Sutherland - Jack Bauer
      Sarah Wynter - Kate Warner
      Elisha Cuthbert - Kim Bauer
      Xander Berkeley - George Mason
      Carlos Bernard - Tony Almeida
      Dennis Haysbert - President David Palmer
      Penny Johnson Jerald - Sherry Palmer
      Reiko Aylesworth - Michelle Dessler
      Billy Burke - Gary Matheson
      Michelle Forbes - Lynne Kresge
      Laura Harris - Marie Warner

      Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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      • 24 - Season 1 (DVD) / TV Series / 45 Readings / 44 Ratings
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        09.03.2014 04:07
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        Excellent first season.

        *DVD extras not reviewed - film only review*

        Plot:

        Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is called in as head of the Counter Terrorism Unit after a threat is made on Senator David Palmer's (Dennis Haysbert) life. Bauer also has to worry about his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) who is missing after sneaking out of the house.

        Created by Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow (La Femme Nikita).

        Review:

        I'm probably the last person in the world to get into 24, prompted by the new season starting in the Spring I finally kick started my binge watching. The unique thing about 24 is that is plays out in real time, there are 24 episodes which show the events of a single (hectic) day. If done poorly the show could drag badly, but luckily the writers have enough threads to keep it exciting without it being too complex to follow. At times it seems like scenes are irrelevant but then something happens to make it matter to the plot.

        Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys) is bad ass government agent Jack Bauer. In the early episodes I felt he was a little over the top but as I got more engrossed in the show, his acting matched the intensity of the events unfolding on screen. The script writing didn't help Sutherland early on but it got tighter as the season went on. Sutherland has shown time and time again that he is a quality actor and he is no different in 24 once it gets going.

        Bauer has a wife and daughter who both get dragged into the chaos of the day. Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door) is rather good at playing a terrified teenager; she is a lot better than Leslie Hope (The River) who is really annoying as Teri Bauer. Hope is a bit of a sap and never really shows any intensity, Cuthbert is much more likeable. I found it tough to root for Teri despite her troubles. Obviously the whole show is a little "out there" but some of the twists that occur in the Kim/Teri part of the show are a little far-fetched to say the least, you will roll your eyes.

        Dennis Haysbert (Heat) is well cast as Senator David Palmer; he has enough gravitas to be a believable presidential candidate but is also likeable. The people in his team are not as likeable but it gives the show some good drama. Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle) is brilliant as the conniving Sherry Palmer, David's wife. You won't like her but you'll like to hate her.

        Jack's main help in CTU comes from Nina Myers, played by Sarah Clarke (Twilight) and Tony Almeida, portrayed by Carlos Bernard (Dallas). There is a love triangle storyline between the three which is wisely left in the background rather than being front and centre as there is much more interesting stuff going on. Both are good in their roles and bounce off Sutherland well.

        Although there is quite a large regular cast with multiple storylines, the success of the show is down to Jack Bauer/Kiefer Sutherland. Without a charismatic lead, the show wouldn't be as addictive as it is. Sutherland dominates the show despite the strong supporting players, Jack Bauer is 24.

        One thing I do like about 24 is that they put twists and turns throughout the hour rather than just at the end of an episode. There is usually something happening at the end of an episode to get you to tune in next time but big plot points happen throughout the show, you always have to be alert to the action.

        As I said, some of the plot turns are a bit ridiculous but that is part of the show. A 24 hour terrorism hunt is going to have to get a little inventive along the way. It never gets Homeland-silly so I stayed glued to my television for the full 24 hours.

        Everyone's probably seen 24 by now but if you're slow to it like me then I encourage you to get involved. This is one box set that you need to own. Some of the twists I saw coming but there were plenty of surprises, something that not enough TV shows manage to achieve. Brilliant piece of television.

        Warning: the beeping clock may get on your nerves occasionally, beep...beep...beep. ARGH.

        Cast:

        Kiefer Sutherland - Jack Bauer
        Leslie Hope - Teri Bauer
        Elisha Cuthbert - Kim Bauer
        Sarah Clarke - Nina Myers
        Dennis Haysbert - Senator David Palmer
        Penny Johnson Jerald - Sherry Palmer
        Carlos Bernard - Tony Almeida
        Xander Berkeley - George Mason

        Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating.

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        • 12 Years a Slave (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 55 Ratings
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          08.02.2014 02:48
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          A must see.

          Plot:

          Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

          Directed by Steve McQueen (Shame), written by John Ridley (Three Kings). Based on 'Twelve Years a Slave' by Solomon Northup.

          Review:

          Everyone has heard the hype surrounding this movie; it is nominated for 9 Academy Awards and has won the Golden Globe for best film (drama) among many other awards. The subject matter makes it perfect for these kinds of ceremonies but the quality of the production and the outstanding cast makes 12 Years a Slave a truly memorable film no matter who you are.

          This is the first film I have seen by director Steve McQueen and I was impressed by his style. His composition was strong, going for some alternate angles and shots without it seeming too artsy and try-hard. The team behind the camera deserve the same recognition that the actors are getting as 12 Years a Slave is extremely well made. The cinematography is beautiful; it is a good film just to look at.

          The main star of the film is Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster), who puts in a moving performance as Solomon Northup. The film starts with Northup as a slave and through flashbacks we see his regular life, as a free man, and how he ended up becoming a slave. It is an incredible story but it takes a quality actor to bring it to life and Ejiofor has the talents to make you feel the story, not just watch it. You see shots of Ejiofor throughout the movie, which aren't accompanied by words but they don't have to be as he conveys emotion so well. It is a shame that he isn't winning many awards for this performance as Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) seem to have stolen the spotlight. Not everyone can win and I haven't seen those movies (yet) so I can't compare but in most years, Ejiofor's performance in 12 Years a Slave would win the Oscar.

          Michael Fassbender (Shame) is creepily good as Edwin Epps, a man who works his slaves hard and seemingly enjoys punishing them. Fassbender has been in all three of McQueen's full length feature films, clearly they know how to work together well as the actor has been lauded for all three performances. Epps is one of the 'villains' of the piece and it would have been easy to overdo the performance but Fassbender plays it with subtlety. He has shot to fame over the past few years seemingly from nowhere but it is movies like this that really show what he can do.

          Lupita Nyong'o makes her film debut in 12 Years a Slave and what a debut it is. Nyong'o plays Epps' favourite slave, Patsey, which doesn't mean she gets favourable treatment. She comes into the film roughly half way through with Fassbender; they put in such powerful performances that it almost feels like they have been there throughout. It is a nuanced performance from someone with such little experience, she is rightly up for the Oscar for best supporting female and it seems like it's between her and Jen Lawrence at this point. Nyong'o is one to watch for the future.

          There are many other great performances in 12 Years a Slave, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti stand out for me. Brad Pitt also has a small role in the film, along with producing it. It is an impressive ensemble, no matter who is on screen at the time, they are captivating.

          There are two scenes that I found particularly hard to watch, I won't mention what they are as it would ruin the film for those of you who haven't seen it. Obviously 12 Years a Slave is full of deplorable moments, the title gives that away, but McQueen puts emphasis on these moments so you feel uncomfortable watching them. The movie could have been very one note, with the audience becoming numb to what they are watching. It needs these extra awful scenes to make sure you are feeling it with the characters. It isn't particularly enjoyable but it makes the movie more touching.

          12 Years a Slave is a brilliant movie, I really can't fault it. I never cry at movies but I was holding the tears back at the end, it is such an emotive film. The source material lays the foundation but the people in front of and behind the camera makes the movie something special. Believe the hype and go see it!

          Cast:

          Chiwetel Ejiofor - Solomon Northup
          Michael Fassbender - Edwin Epps
          Lupita Nyong'o - Patsey
          Benedict Cumberbatch - Ford
          Paul Giamatti - Freeman
          Sarah Paulson - Mistress Epps
          Alfre Woodard - Mistress Shaw
          Brad Pitt - Bass
          Adepero Oduye - Eliza

          Runtime: 134 mins

          Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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          • Revenge - Season 1 / TV Series / 57 Readings / 56 Ratings
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            25.01.2014 13:11
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            An indulgent treat.

            *DVD extras not reviewed - film only review*

            Plot:

            Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp) returns to the Hamptons posing as a socialite, Emily Thorne, in order to exact revenge on the Grayson's, who were responsible for her father's imprisonment.

            Created by Mike Kelley

            Review:

            The first season of Revenge had mostly standalone episodes, called 'takedown' episodes, making it easy to watch without having to think too hard. In most episodes, Emily takes down someone who played a part in her father being framed as a terrorist. Her plans for the Grayson's are more long term but there are plenty of people to exact revenge on in the meantime. Whilst I did enjoy the episodes, it became a little silly when new characters were introduced just to be taken within the hour, every single week. This is something the writers have rectified in future seasons but it was quite a good way to start the show, making it accessible to new viewers.

            Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters) is a strong lead as the revenge seeking Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne. She essentially plays two different characters, flipping between the scheming revenge seeker and the sweet rich girl at will. Although there is a lot of scene time for the rest of the ensemble, the success of Revenge hinges on VanCamp's performance. Without a decent Emily the show wouldn't work, luckily she is good.

            Madeleine Stowe (We Were Soldiers) steals many a scene as the matriarch of the Grayson family, Victoria. You shouldn't really root for Victoria, yet Stowe is so good in the part that you just can't help it. Victoria is suspicious of Emily from the beginning, giving the show some much needed bitchiness. Most of the best scenes in the show are between the two, they play off each other extremely well.

            Emily Thorne gets help in exacting revenge from Nolan Ross, portrayed by Gabriel Mann (The Bourne Identity). Nolan is responsible for most of the witty lines, stopping the show descending into too much melodrama (sort of). Mann's delivery is spot on, the character could become a bit of a joke but he knows when to rein it in.

            The majority of the rest of the cast is strong; Henry Czerny (Mission Impossible) is brilliant as Victoria's husband Conrad Grayson. It is a bit of a twisted marriage, giving the show lots of tense scenes and as well as banter. Nick Wechsler (Roswell) plays Amanda Clarke's childhood friend Jack Porter, he gives the show some heart and honesty amongst all the lies. I do find it a bit weird that the narrative is supposed to be that Jack and Amanda were pretty much childhood sweethearts yet they were very very young when they knew each other. Freaks me out a bit.

            The poorest member of the cast is Josh Bowman (So Undercover) who plays one of the main characters, Daniel Grayson; he acts as Emily's way into the Grayson family. He's English so I kind of feel like I should defend him but he's pretty bad. I'm guessing Bowman was hired for his looks rather than his talents. Even in a show as over the top as Revenge, there is a line that crosses into full on soap opera and Bowman goes over that line too much.

            Revenge is a soapy drama but it is addictive, if you buy this DVD you will run through it in no time. As first season's go, this is a very good one. Yes it stalls in the middle section a bit with too many takedowns in a row but the writers rectify it before it becomes stale. It would be easy to dismiss Revenge as just another show with an attractive cast but it is surprisingly good. Give it a try, Revenge is fun.

            Cast:

            Madeleine Stowe - Victoria Grayson
            Emily VanCamp - Emily Thorne / Amanda Clarke
            Gabriel Mann - Nolan Ross
            Henry Czerny - Conrad Grayson
            Nick Wechsler - Jack Porter
            Joshua Bowman - Daniel Grayson
            Christa B. Allen - Charlotte Grayson
            Ashley Madekwe - Ashley Davenport
            Connor Paolo - Declan Porter

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          • More +
            21.11.2013 14:40
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            Strong start.

            *DVD Extras not reviewed - film only review*

            Plot:

            Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is found by the child she gave up for adoption as a baby, Henry (Jared Gilmore), and took to Storybrooke. It is a town unlike any other; it is full of fairy tale characters who don't know who they are.

            Review:

            Once Upon a Time started three years ago, when fairy tales were making somewhat of a comeback on both the small and big screens. Everyone is familiar with the characters in Once Upon a Time (OUAT) and that is why it was instantly so popular. Everyone knows Snow White, the Evil Queen and the other characters so the audience are immediately invested in the show and what happens. That existing knowledge also means that the show can get right into the action.

            Throughout the first season, the show is essentially split in two as we watch what is happening in Storybrooke as well as seeing the characters previous life as a fairy tale character. It is an interesting way to approach the show and one that really works. A lot of what happens is quite predictable for anyone over the age of 15 but there were a few shock twists that show the writers are willing to shake the show up every now and then.

            The stars of the show for me are Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/Evil Queen and Robert Carlyle as Mr Gold/Rumpelstiltskin. They both are aware of their prior lives unlike the rest of Storybrooke and they portray their multiple personalities brilliantly. Carlyle's Rumpelstiltskin accent is a little iffy, not really sure what he was aiming for, but apart from that he gives a layered performance in a surprisingly complex role. They both steal scenes away from their cast members as they have more screen presence.

            The lead role of Emma Swan is played by Jennifer Morrison who is a little wet in the role to be honest. Morrison is ok in a lot of the episodes but when she has to show real emotion she's not that convincing. As the season progresses, the storylines naturally become tenser and Morrison struggles to hit the high notes. It is a shame as the supporting characters are much more interesting than the supposed lead.

            Ginnifer Goodwin brings her usual quirkiness to Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White, her role diminishes slightly throughout the season which is a shame. Her 'other half' is David Nolan/Prince Charming who is played by Josh Dallas. He does a good job in the role and Dallas has good chemistry with Goodwin. The duo are prominent at the beginning of the season but both do get pushed to the back by the end of it, hopefully they are a big part of future seasons as they are a strong duo.

            There are plenty of supporting characters that pop in and out of the storylines, you'll recognise the names but the stories are sometimes tweaked a little. They have to make it original somehow.

            The fairy tale land is very much computer generated, obviously the budget is limited given that there are two primary locations for the show. I wasn't a fan of the fake castles and whatnot in the beginning but I learned to ignore it, there really isn't much alternative given the scale the writers want to achieve. The costumes and make-up are good; they definitely help sell the characters to the audience.

            Overall, it's a family friendly show which has a compelling arc whilst remaining largely accessible to newcomers throughout the first half of the season at least. There is a good cast on board and a wealth of material for the writers to use. Hopefully OUAT can maintain its strong start, the first season is highly recommended.

            Cast:

            Jennifer Morrison - Emma Swan
            Lana Parrilla - Regina Mills / Evil Queen
            Ginnifer Goodwin - Mary Margaret Blanchard / Snow White
            Josh Dallas - David Nolan / Prince Charming
            Jared Gilmore - Henry Mills
            Robert Carlyle - Mr. Gold / Rumpelstiltskin
            Jamie Dornan - Sheriff Graham

            Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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          • Scandal - Season 1 (DVD) / TV Series / 46 Readings / 45 Ratings
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            12.11.2013 13:26
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            Be prepared to lose a good chunk of your day watching this.

            Plot:

            Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is a former White House employee who left to set up her own business to help people get out of tough situations.

            Review:

            Scandal is one of the most addictive shows on television, it is one of those shows that hits you with something at the end of an episode to get you to watch the next one and it works. It's full of action despite being a political drama. I know most people turn off when hearing the word 'politics' but it's not complicated/boring politics it's all about scandals with a political backdrop.

            The synopsis of the show is good; fixers are also fascinating in TV land. A lot of the episodes get a bit ridiculous as Olivia Pope and co. go about their business and fixing people's problems. If you watch this show believing that fixers can do anything and get away with it, you will love it. Don't be cynical about the ridiculousness of it all, the show was created by Shonda Rhymes after all, who also brought us Grey's Anatomy.

            The first season only had seven episodes in it and it focussed on introducing the characters as well as the link between Olivia Pope and President Grant.

            There is a lot of fast talking in Scandal, I don't think it is quite as clever as the writers think it is but it is good to watch. It veers towards being preachy at times but it's not as bad as The Newsroom (season one) in that regard.

            Kerry Washington is brilliant as Olivia Pope, to be fair she is brilliant in pretty much everything she does (she was robbed at the Emmy's this year). Washington is believable as the god of fixers; she commands the screen and owns everyone with her speeches. The writing is a little bit harsh in the first season, there is a disconnect between the deadly serious Olivia and the emotional Olivia. She comes across cold for the most part and then the writers slip in an emotional scene which Washington pulls off but it often feels at odds with her character. The subtleties are often missing, something which the show definitely gets better at.

            The President is played by Tony Goldwyn. I didn't find him all that impressive in the first season; he is sometimes overshadowed by the other cast members, something that shouldn't happen to the President. I don't think the fast talking nature of the show came as naturally to Goldwyn as it did other members of the cast. His chemistry with his on screen wife, played by Bellamy Young, and his mistress, Washington, is strong. As is his connection with Jeff Perry who plays his aid Cyrus Beene. He is one of the hidden gems of the show, his role grows throughout the show and rightly so as he is brilliant when he gets going.

            Olivia Pope's gang is made up of four people. Columbus Short takes the lead throughout the first season as the smooth talking Harrison Wright. He is very strong in the role and a good character, apart from his fondness of flipping his phone in his hand constantly. Quinn Perkins, played by Katie Lowes, is a very important character and Lowes is very capable of switching her performance quickly.

            Guillermo Diaz is the lovable but slightly odd Huck. He is either acting psycho or totally chilled/dazed, one of the best characters in the show. Abby Whelan is the final member of Pope's team and definitely my least favourite. I didn't think she was particularly likeable and the show wouldn't be any worse off if she wasn't in it.

            There is a surprising amount of action for a show that is clearly focussed on its dialogue. Scandal is a great show and unique, there may be other shows about fixers (i.e. Ray Donovan) but combining that with the presidential storyline is a good idea. It gives the show more depth and somewhere to go in the future. I would definitely buy the box set and devour it over a couple of days. Be warned, you will watch this show very quickly.

            Cast:

            Kerry Washington - Olivia Pope
            Columbus Short - Harrison Wright
            Darby Stanchfield - Abby Whelan
            Katie Lowes - Quinn Perkins
            Guillermo Díaz - Huck
            Jeff Perry - Cyrus Beene
            Bellamy Young - Mellie Grant
            Tony Goldwyn - President Fitzgerald Grant

            Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating.

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          • Planes (DVD) / DVD / 51 Readings / 50 Ratings
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            07.11.2013 13:30
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            Good fun despite not being very original.

            *Film only review - DVD extras not reviewed*

            Plot:

            Dusty, a crop-dusting plane, dreams of being a racer despite having a fear of heights. His friends try to convince him that he can't compete with the professional racers but Dusty doesn't give up on his dream.

            Directed by Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure), written by John Lasseter (Toy Story), Klay Hall and Jeffrey M Howard (Tinker Bell).

            Review:

            Planes was originally meant to be a straight to DVD special and you can kind of see why. It is clear that not as much time has been spent on Planes as was Cars, the backgrounds are mostly not as rich and intricate as in the Cars movies. Planes follows the story of Cars very closely, the characters are so similar as well. Cars has done so well merchandise wise for Disney that it isn't a surprise they would try and push a similar concept onto us. There aren't many films in the Disneyverse for boys so Planes is perfect for them (and me...)

            I really enjoyed Planes, if you forget the similarities to Cars and that it is a money making exercise then you will enjoy it too. I know most people aren't that keen on Cars compared to other Pixar movies, so you may be sceptical of a film that is a lesser version of that movie. I'm a bit different/weird in that I actually love Cars so I also loved Planes, not as much but it is still a movie I would watch repeatedly.

            It is a kid's movie so the plot isn't going to blow your brains, it is fairly predictable but still enjoyable and it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside thanks to its family friendly message. As I said, it is very similar to Cars but kids are unlikely to notice, they will just enjoy it. It is more child focused than other Disney/Pixar movies, the humour is definitely more for the kids than the adults.

            Dusty (Dane Cook), the protagonist of the movie, is a likable plane but he wasn't my favourite character. He is kind of the straight guy next to his weird plane friends. The simple yet loveable Chug was one of my favourites. I thought Teri Hatcher's voice was a little old for Dottie the mechanic but the character is still quite likeable. Skipper is the experienced hand, trying to help Dusty to become a racer.

            The competitors in the Wings Across the World race have more distinctive characters, I found them more memorable. El Chupacabra, the Mexican plane, was my favourite plane in the race. I can relate to his uselessness at romance. The writers do a good job of building characters in the race to make it more interesting, there are quite a lot of characters to get to know quickly.

            I would buy Planes and watch it many times over, but it's probably time for me to grow up and watch adult stuff. Let your inner child out for an hour and a half and just enjoy it. It isn't a classic Disney film and I doubt there will be a Planes land coming to Disneyland anytime soon but it will put a smile on your face.

            Cast:

            Dane Cook - Dusty Crophopper
            Stacy Keach - Skipper
            Brad Garrett - Chug
            Teri Hatcher - Dottie
            Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Rochelle
            Priyanka Chopra - Ishani
            John Cleese - Bulldog
            Cedric the Entertainer - Leadbottom
            Carlos Alazraqui - El Chupacabra / Additional Voices
            Roger Craig Smith - Ripslinger / Additional Voices
            Val Kilmer - Bravo

            Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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            • The Heat (DVD) / DVD / 65 Readings / 65 Ratings
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              06.10.2013 17:39
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              Give it a miss.

              *DVD extras not reviewed - film only review*

              Plot:

              Uptight FBI agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) has to work with unconventional cop Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) in the hunt for a notorious drug dealer. The two officers' different styles of law enforcement clash time and time again in this comedy.

              Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and written by Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation).

              Review:

              The Heat hit the headlines before its release for the wrong reasons with a poorly photo shopped poster that made Melissa McCarthy unrecognisable. I was hoping that the actual movie would be better than the poster but I left feeling disappointed. I am probably the only person on the planet who hasn't seen Bridesmaids but I have heard the hype and thought that having the same director and McCarthy on board would have good results.

              The film basically relies on viewers finding Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) funny, no matter what she does. If you're looking for actual funniness, like I was, then you will be disappointed by The Heat. The movie is quite odd, the drama and comedy are not balanced and the transitions are not exactly seamless. It is like a poor man's CSI and then it switches it up and attempts to be funny, which means having McCarthy shout something quite obscene. Given the writer is involved in one of my favourite comedies, Parks & Rec, I thought she would have come up with something better than this.

              Sandra Bullock (Speed) does her best in a role that doesn't provide many laughs. Bullock has made many a comedy but she isn't really given the opportunity to impress. McCarthy gets most of the jokes but they aren't great, as I said before they mainly surround her spouting profanities. I don't have a problem with bad language but I also don't find it funny, clearly they were aiming this at a teen audience.

              The rest of the cast doesn't really have a huge impact on the film. Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie) surprisingly has no comedic input into the movie. Given his background I expected him to provide some laughs but he had a serious role in the movie.

              The plot is pedestrian, there's no real drama and no real comedy (in my opinion), so The Heat fails on both counts. Trying to touch both genres backfired into a clichéd movie led by two actresses who are too good for this. Bullock and McCarthy can both do comedy, I'm sure most agree on that, but the script gives them nothing. As a side note, can movie/TV people stop making McCarthy look bad all the time? She deserves to be glammed up sometimes!

              A sequel has already been announced although Sandra Bullock has stated that she can't imagine doing it so I'm not sure who will be in it or what it will be about. The Heat does leave it open for a sequel but recasting Bullock would be tough.

              The Heat may titillate some but whether you laugh or not, it is unlikely to stay in your memory bank for too long. Maybe just rent it if you're a fan of either of the two leads, otherwise I would give it a miss.

              Cast:

              Sandra Bullock - Sarah Ashburn
              Melissa McCarthy - Shannon Mullins
              Demian Bichir - Hale
              Marlon Wayans - Levy
              Michael Rapaport - Jason Mullins
              Jane Curtin - Mrs. Mullins

              Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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              • Only God Forgives (DVD) / DVD / 56 Readings / 55 Ratings
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                03.10.2013 12:12
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                Do not watch this.

                *Film only review - DVD extras not reviewed*

                Plot:

                Julian (Ryan Gosling) is compelled by his mother to find the man who killed his brother Billy (Tom Burke) and get revenge.

                Review:

                In summary: this is a weird movie. The trailer looked pretty and if a film has good cinematography then I'm there. The trailer showed little plot though, which I thought was a teaser but it turns out there just isn't much to it.

                The plot is stated at the start of the review and as you can see it isn't a particularly long tale. This movie dragged out the thin plot for an hour and a half, which was too long. It could have fit into an episode of CSI to be honest, that would have been preferable. It kept cutting to karaoke scenes in which the audience looked bored stiff, kind of a reflection of how the audience looked in the cinema.

                I haven't seen Drive but I have heard the rave reviews so seeing the same director and lead actor do a movie together again pushed up my expectations for Only God Forgives. If you Google this movie you will get some 5 star reviews and a lot of 1 star reviews, I cannot understand why anyone would give this 5 stars. Yes it is stylish but there is nothing going on, it is full of silence which I wouldn't mind if there was some point to it but it just came across as filler.

                Kristen Scott Thomas was great as the overbearing mother figure; she was the standout performer in the movie. To be fair, she was the only member of the cast with a decent script to go off. Ryan Gosling sulked his way through the movie; I am pretty sure I could have played his part he did so little. This is the first Ryan Gosling movie I have seen (shocking I know) and I wasn't particularly impressed, he didn't have much to do so it is hard to really judge him on this performance.

                Vithaya Pansringarm was good as the cop who was good with his sword (no jokes please). It did bug me though how he kept pulling his sword from his back yet when the camera was behind him, there was no sword holder. Where was he getting it from? Argh. He was involved in most of the violence and he pulls it off with style, clearly he is meant to be a killer.

                I just didn't get Only God Forgives, I'm assuming it was intentionally weird but I'm not sure why you would make a movie like this. There is some good violence if you're into that, hence the 18 certificate, but it isn't enough to make up for the mass of silence littered throughout the movie. The karaoke scenes were odd and went on too long. The whole movie went on too long. It was a pretty movie, I'll give it that, the lighting was excellent but I can't compliment it much more. Kristen Scott Thomas earns a star, the rest was just meh. Avoid at all costs.

                Cast:

                Ryan Gosling - Julian
                Kristin Scott Thomas - Crystal
                Vithaya Pansringarm - Chang
                Yayaying Rhatha Phongam - Mai
                Tom Burke - Billy

                Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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                • The Wolverine (DVD) / DVD / 63 Readings / 63 Ratings
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                  11.09.2013 18:37
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                  Good but doesn't hit the heights of the original trilogy.

                  *Film only review - DVD extras not reviewed*

                  Plot:

                  Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is asked to go to Japan to say goodbye to an old friend. Things aren't as straightforward as they first seemed however and Wolverine becomes embroiled in a life or death battle.

                  Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line) and written by Mark Bomback (Total Recall) and Scott Frank (Minority Report).

                  Review:

                  In my opinion, the Wolverine Origins movie was nowhere near as good as the X-Men movies (ignore X-Men 3 which was awful). Having all the mutants together makes for a better movie than just having the focus on one, as good as Hugh Jackman is as Wolverine. The trailer for The Wolverine peaked my interest however as it did look a lot better than the slow moving Origins film. So I watched it and I wasn't totally disappointed.

                  The Wolverine takes place after the X-Men movies (the original trilogy), which means they don't mess up with history as they did in the first film. The plot is decent fare, you can see where it is going a mile off but it is still enjoyable. Having Wolverine sulk around about the death of Jean Gray was a good move as it brought Famke Janssen back in dream sequences. Everybody loves a bit of Famke right? It reminded me of the original movies which was a good and bad thing as you then start to miss Prof. X etc. There were a few plot holes which were annoying, they were big ones as well. I guess the writers think the audience won't notice but some just hit you in the face.

                  They insist on making Wolverine movies as Hugh Jackman made the character so popular in live action format but I wish they would mix it up a bit. How about a Storm movie? Let's see more of Halle Berry in that awful wig! I think the original plan was to make Origins movies on more characters but it didn't come to pass for whatever reason, which makes me sad.

                  As I said, Hugh Jackman owns the role and can't really do any wrong. He can do the action and the emotional aspects of the character with aplomb. The other mutant in the movie, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) wasn't a particularly interesting villain. She looks like a younger Portia de Rossi which was all I could focus on (you didn't have to concentrate that hard to follow the script). Viper wasn't a huge part of it; she just popped up every now and then so they could put in some nice venom effects. Bit of a waste.

                  The main enemy was the Yakuza, the Japanese mob, who are human and therefore not what I expect to see from a film about a mutant. The Wolverine movies try and break down the character more so you can see his emotions, which is fine but I still want to see mutants and there just wasn't enough of that in this movie.

                  The action in The Wolverine is pretty good as you would expect, but there wasn't as much as I expected and I have to say the final fight was a letdown. It all gets a bit silly in the end, I don't want to ruin it for those of you who haven't seen the movie yet but the big silver thing was a mistake (you'll know what I mean when you see it). It was a rather poor fight that pushed the CGI people to the limit as it is hard to believe any of it is happening no matter how 'realistic' they make it look.

                  This review is probably a bit too negative, it is an enjoyable movie but it is such a disappointment that these movies don't live up to the first two X-Men movies or X-Men: First Class. Perhaps it is the writers or directors, I'm not sure, but it seems like not a whole lot of time was spent thinking up this movie or trying to make it flow perfectly without big holes. Wolverine is a great character and I think he deserves a better solo outing than this. Catch it on TV; I wouldn't pay the extortionate cinema prices to see this one.

                  Cast:

                  Hugh Jackman - Logan
                  Tao Okamoto - Mariko
                  Rila Fukushima - Yukio
                  Hiroyuki Sanada - Shingen
                  Svetlana Khodchenkova - Viper
                  Brian Tee - Noburo
                  Hal Yamanouchi - Yashida
                  Famke Janssen - Jean Grey

                  Also posted on Ciao under the username shabbating

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                  • More +
                    23.08.2013 00:47
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                    Brilliant television

                    *DVD extras not reviewed - film only review*

                    Synopsis:

                    After getting a little trigger happy in public, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is relocated from Miami to Harlan County in Kentucky. Harlan is Givens' childhood town and his return brings back old rivalries and memories.

                    Based on the characters created by Elmore Leonard.

                    Review:

                    Justified is not hyped up as much as shows such as Breaking Bad or Games of Thrones but it is certainly one of the best shows on television. I've always been a fan of shows about U.S. Marshals, as they can do whatever they want (on TV anyway). This brings an element of unpredictability that you don't get in CSI-type shows that rarely break out of their well-worked formula.

                    The first episode of Justified hits the high notes, setting out the characters roles and bringing the action full force. The first season isn't as intricate as future seasons but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't swing so far as to have totally standalone episodes, there are threads throughout but you can also miss an episode without being totally confused. It is a good way to kick off a series, not scaring you off with intricacy.

                    Harlan County is old country; if you're a fan of southern American accents then you will love this show. It's a nice change to have a show that isn't full of high tech gadgets; it is a back to basics gritty law enforcement show.

                    Timothy Olyphant (Hitman) is perfectly cast as the laid back Raylan Givens. I have watched Olyphant in a lot of poor movies and have felt that his CV hasn't really done his ability justice, until now. Olyphant seems at home in the role from the very first episode, he is believable as the gun slinging Marshall but also in the more vulnerable moments. One of the best elements of the show is Olyphant's on screen chemistry with Walton Goggins.

                    Goggins (The Shield) plays Givens' foe Boyd Crowder, head of the Crowder family who aren't exactly law abiding. Goggins is pretty much a tour de force in Justified; he owns the screen and demands your attention as a viewer. You can feel the energy between Goggins and Olyphant when they are together on screen, they both feed off each other. The duo is a big part of what makes this show so good.

                    Nick Searcy (Cast Away), Jacob Pitts (21) and Erica Tazel (House of D) are the other Marshalls focused on in the show. All three have great chemistry with Olyphant and each other, giving good depth to the show. They aren't used as much in the first season as in later seasons but the foundation is there.

                    It is a really strong ensemble on both sides of the law. The writers, mainly Graham Yost (Speed), do a great job of building the back stories of the characters quickly so they can get right on with the action. Justified has great action scenes but also great dialogue, it is that combination that makes it such a great show.

                    I really can't recommend Justified highly enough. I was a little sceptical at first that a 'cowboy' show could be as good as the reviews are for Justified but it certainly doesn't disappoint. The show is a success mainly due to Olyphant and Goggins who put in amazing performances episode after episode. Buy it now people!

                    Cast:

                    Timothy Olyphant - Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens
                    Nick Searcy - Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen
                    Joelle Carter - Ava Crowder
                    Jacob Pitts - Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Gutterson
                    Erica Tazel - Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks
                    Walton Goggins - Boyd Crowder
                    Natalie Zea - Winona Hawkins
                    David Meunier - Johnny Crowder
                    Raymond J. Barry - Arlo Givens

                    Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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                  • World War Z (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 56 Ratings
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                    19.08.2013 00:18
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                    Close to being great.

                    *Film only review*

                    Plot:

                    A zombie pandemic is breaking out and it is up to Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) to travel across the globe in hope of finding a cure to save the world.

                    Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), written by Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom), Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and Damon Lindelof (Prometheus). Based on the novel by Max Brooks.

                    Review:

                    World War Z is a zombie movie and we've all seen a million of them by now, so what makes WWZ different from the rest? This is zombies on a massive scale, most zombie movies are low budget affairs which some will argue adds to the movie rather than having CGI everywhere but it gives a different look to the film.

                    This movie had its fair share of production issues (lack of finance, reshoots etc.) that delayed its release; it feels like I have been waiting for this movie forever. Taking that into consideration, I was expecting it to be a bit more of a mess but it was anything but. Most of the problems have been blamed on the director, Marc Forster, who has only one other big budget film to his name (Quantum of Solace). Is he the best action director in the world? No. Is he awful? No. There are some brilliant action pieces in the film, he must get some credit.

                    The beginning is the best part of the film; the initial outbreak is brilliantly done. I felt like I was right there with them. It was the tensest part of the film and the effects were top notch. It was even more impressive given the scale of the scene. There are several moments throughout the film that feature massive events, requiring a lot of CGI and for the most part it was successful.

                    It becomes a tad predictable by falling into the trap of plan-problem-plan-problem so you know that there will always be a zombie shaped obstacle to everything the protagonists do. That always annoys me; sometimes the writers need to just let things go OK so that there is an element of surprise to it but this rarely happens in movies.

                    Brad Pitt leads the way as Gerry; I think everyone knows by now that Pitt can lead a film of this magnitude. He commands the screen as usual, taking on the physical and emotional aspects of the role with aplomb. Marielle Enos (The Killing) plays his wife Karin and is somewhat wasted. I have a lot of respect for Enos and think she deserves more than a worrying wife role, why bother getting a good actress if you're not going to use her talents?

                    This really is a Pitt vehicle, the rest of the cast gets little screen time. The support is good but they can't really impress themselves on the audience as they don't have huge parts to play. The other characters come into the picture and then go out of it very quickly.

                    My main criticism of World War Z is the end, essentially there wasn't one. The sudden conclusion doesn't do the film justice; I can see no reason to end it like that other than money. It is a summary ending that makes you feel like you just wasted the past few hours of your life.

                    Another criticism is the version of Wales that is portrayed in the film; they don't have Welch's grape juice or Mountain Dew there, something which is easily researched. Plus, who stops for a drink when surrounded by zombies? Oh yeah, the people getting paid for product placement. It was a little silly and could have been put in at a more sensible time in the action. And why are there no Welsh people in Wales? Lord.

                    I enjoyed the movie a lot but the end did annoy me and really took away from what was a thoroughly entertaining film. Brad Pitt carried the film as one of the few constants, there could have perhaps been more development of other characters but it was pretty much all about Pitt. This is a movie you should definitely watch once; it probably won't be viewed many more times though.

                    Cast:

                    Brad Pitt - Gerry Lane
                    Mireille Enos - Karin Lane
                    Daniella Kertesz - Segen
                    Fana Mokoena - Thierry Umutoni
                    Peter Capaldi - W.H.O. Doctor (Ironic)

                    Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating

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                  • Pacific Rim (DVD) / DVD / 56 Readings / 55 Ratings
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                    12.08.2013 13:55
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                    Not a classic.

                    *Film only review*

                    Plot:

                    There is a rift under the sea that is allowing monsters through to Earth and they are attempting to destroy the human race. In order to beat the monsters, humans had to build machines (powered by humans) that are strong enough to defeat the monster threat. The monsters are known as Kaiju and the machines are called Jaegars.

                    Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy), written by del Toro and Travis Beacham (Clash of the Titans).

                    Review:

                    The plot is interesting and it kept my attention despite the fact that you can pretty much predict what will happen throughout the movie. It is a little long; it feels like the movie should end about half an hour earlier than it does. Pacific Rim wastes no time with back story, it gets right to the action and rarely lets up. Think Transformers in the sea, it is a surprise that Michael Bay didn't play a part in such an action blockbuster.

                    At times it did look like an updated Power Rangers, it must be inspired by the Mighty Morphin' TV show as the similarities are plain to see. The operators of the machines are even called rangers. I was expecting the finale to have the machines lock in together, but it didn't happen. Gutted.

                    Considering the film is all about the action, it needed great effects or it would fail. The CGI certainly lived up to my expectations; I would recommend you catch Pacific Rim in 3D if at all possible as it truly shines in the format (without any gimmicks). It looks brilliant; I can quite easily believe that giant monsters were taking on metal machines all over the world during filming. The action scenes are great and it didn't get too crazy a la the aforementioned Transformers in which I often struggled to know who was who and who was winning each fight. There was a nice variety in both the Kaijus and the Jaegars, which gave the movie a bit more personality as you can see them as real characters.

                    I must say that I did struggle at times with the technology in the machines. The two rangers control it, one is essentially the left brain and the other is the right. They enter a 'drift' to get aligned to each other and the machine so that they can fight. Clearly it is a high tech piece of equipment, but then they would hold a button down to work an intercom and the illusion was over. Surely they could come up with something a little better than that.

                    If you look past the action and take note of the actors in Pacific Rim, you might be a little disappointed. It is led by Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) who plays Raleigh Becket, a fearless and unconventional ranger who is somewhat of a legend in the field. Sadly his acting skills aren't up to much. The whole film comes across a little melodramatic and Hunnam is at the helm of it all. I thought he warmed up a little as the movie went on but that might have just been because I was getting used to his acting 'style'.

                    Idris Elba (The Wire) is a little too good to be in this film, I assume he was tempted in by Guillermo del Toro but this isn't a classic. Elba is a strong presence on camera and is easily the best actor involved in the movie. He does his best in his portrayal of Stacker but as I said before, it is more melodrama than quality drama, the script is often too clichéd.

                    Rinko Kikuchi (Sideways) plays the part of trainee Mako Mori, who is exceptionally skilled but too emotional. Kikuchi is alright, the characters back story has been seen a million times before and there's not really chance for her to impress.

                    The rest of the cast is definitely a mixed bag. Rob Kazinsky (Eastenders) played ranger Chuck, his Australian accent is awful in this movie. He goes from Australian to Londoner and back round over and over again. It is good to see a former soap star do something decent in the US but his accent is shameful in this. The two scientists in the film are stereotypes and a constant annoyance to me. I imagine some will love them but I was hoping they would get killed whenever they were on screen,

                    Pacific Rim is by no means a bad film but there isn't much to enjoy once you get past the breath-taking action. The acting is mostly bad, which gives it more of a B movie feel (and I don't mean that in a good way) than a top blockbuster. The effects are great and it is worth watching for that aspect but don't go into it with high expectations as you are likely to be disappointed. There isn't much originality in the movie, which is the most disappointing thing. It is a load of stuff we have seen before bundled together in a pretty package.

                    It has somewhat of a sudden ending, which may be a blessing in disguise as the non-action scenes weren't memorable. I would recommend you watch Pacific Rim, either at the cinema or on a big TV, but accept that you are only there for the monster mash. Do not expect a life changing experience.

                    Cast:

                    Charlie Hunnam - Raleigh Becket
                    Diego Klattenhoff - Yancy Becket
                    Idris Elba - Stacker Pentecost
                    Rinko Kikuchi - Mako Mori
                    Charlie Day - Dr. Newton Geiszler
                    Burn Gorman - Gottlieb
                    Max Martini - Herc Hansen
                    Robert Kazinsky - Chuck Hansen

                    Also posted on Ciao under the username shabbating

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