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    • More +
      08.06.2010 23:34
      Very helpful



      see review body for overall opinion

      This is a review of the bluray version of the film.

      The Movie:

      For me his last few films have given Tim Burton a definite style, 9 took us off in a clever animated world as did Corpse Bride and his style definitely fits the Alice in Wonderland world, The only other director that I think could pull it off would have been Guillermo del Toro. Burton has given us a new take on the Wonderland world by giving us a story where Alice had already visited and then left again, all the characters that we recognise are still there and it seems that they have all been waiting for Alice to come back.

      Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a young girl that has vivid dreams that she cannot understand although we as an audience can guess what they are she of course doesn't understand the meaning of them, and before you know it she, with her mother, are off to a large country mansion where others assume she is going to be married off to a lord, whilst at the mansion she see the white rabbit (Michael Sheen) and needing some time to herself she sets off after him and of course falls into wonderland for the second time.

      Once there it is apparent she doesn't remember her previous time there and the creatures and animals that inhabit Underland do not recognise her either, she is the wrong Alice as far as they are concerned, Tweedledum and Tweedledee (matt Lucus) think it, Dormouse (Barbara Windsor) thinks it and The Blue Caterpiller (Alan Rickman) thinks it too... hell even Alice herself thinks it. However after meeting the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) she is taken to see The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and he believes it to be the right Alice and this Alice needs to save Underland by restoring the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) to the throne by slaying the Jabberwocky who is the champion of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), although the mad hatter believes she has lost much of her muchness.

      Tim Burton has done a fantastic job of creating a world that is recognisable as a world that Alice (in wonderland) would exist in, I find his mind amazingly imaginative and his films are generally entertaining so I was surprised to read some bad things about Alice and after watching the film on Blu-Ray I have to wonder if I saw the same movie that others have reviewed. I found the characters to be rich and fantastic and you cared about them.

      Mia Wasikowska as Alice seemed perfect for the role especially for the age that they were aiming for, she looks like she is at that period of time between being a girl and a woman and yet she looks like how I imagine Alice to look, She can be girly and soft and yet has a steely resolve about her, I've not actually seen her in anything else. Johnny Depp of course doesn't really need any introduction, he is a class actor and puts everything and more into any character that he gets involved in and this is no exception. The other outstanding actor in the film was the red queen (Helena Bonham Carter), she reminded me very much of queenie in blackadder with her shouts for attention and temper tantrums, she is superb.

      The other characters are brilliant too and there is a star studded line up behind the CGI creatures that we see on screen, and I just loved the fact that they had all been brought together in this production, for me the best character was the Cheshire Cat, voiced perfectly by Stephen Fry he gave the character a smooth feline grace which at the same time seemed to come across as cunning and scheming, absolutely fantastic. Watch out for the point where he paws the Hatters hat.

      All the locations are CGI created and they are very well done, the forest comes across as quite dark and gloomy with spots of colours here any there whereas the Red Queens castle is smothered in reds of all shades (as you would expect), in fact each area seems to have its own, slightly different hue so that even though the look is uniform throughout each area has a slightly different feel about it.


      What a fantastic visual feast. Once Alice falls down the hole into Underland I really felt that this was the real deal, how Carroll would have intended it to look like. The colours were bright and sharp and yet there seemed an underlying menace to everything.

      It may have been the player but on a couple of occasions the sound dropped out, only for a split second eachtime but it was noticeable. Luckily it only happened the twice and i found the rest of the soundtrack to be superb, dialogue was never drowned out by sound effects and the bass was nice a punchy, barring the couple of dropouts this would have been one of the best audio tracks I have heard lately.

      The Mad Hatter (6 mins approx)
      Johnny Depp and some of the crew discuss how they came up with the look and feel of the Mad Hatter, Depp is an interesting guy anyway and I really enjoyed hearing his take on it.

      Finding Alice (6 mins approx)
      A short on Alice, her traits, the character and how they created her character to be slightly different to what we have come to expect.

      Effecting Wonderland (7 mins approx)
      A short look at the special effects used in the film, it was quite interesting to see this knowing that it was a heavily CGI'd film although they completely missed out the Cheshire Cat.

      The extras that were there were good but I would expect more from a blu-ray disc and therefore I was a bit disappointed with the number of extras, it isn't as if the ones that are on the disc are lengthy.

      There is a BDisney Live feature but on choosing it I was told that it was not available in my region.

      I loved the film, I thought it was much better than I had expected, the characters were all excellent as was the CGI, I really felt that I had been transported to Underland. The only let down was the quantity/length of the extras and the couple of sound dropouts, I can heartily recommend this movie though, great entertainment I only wish I had seen it in 3D.

      Disc overall 7.25/10
      film 8/10


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      • 2012 (Blu-ray) / Blu-Ray Movie / 78 Readings / 76 Ratings
        More +
        21.03.2010 13:05
        Very helpful



        see review for overall opinion


        I suspect that Roland Emmerich just wasn't really that satisfied with the 2004 movie Day After Tomorrow after it hit the cinema's, or perhaps the things he really wanted to do were just not available technically back then and he had to wait until now before he could create the movie that he always wanted to make. I cannot see any other reason to make two global disaster movies so close to each other. That aside the more succinctly titled 2012 delivers a disaster movie although similar to Day After Tomorrow, it is 10 times bigger.

        First up we get the science behind it. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) works for the White House and is in contact with a number of scientists throughout the world all of whom are monitoring massive activity from the sun, this activity has affected the Earths core and is destabilising the surface of the planet. He goes back to the White House to report the news to Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt), who in turn takes Helmsley to brief the President (Danny Glover). The forewarning of the impending disaster has enabled a host of world leaders (who this time thankfully believe the scientists) to prepare by building massive arks in China. These arks are supposed to be filled by randomly selected people from around the globe in order to save the greatest minds as well as people to re-populate the planet once the disaster has passed. But in reality (as usual) money has done the talking and ensured that the rich have found their way onboard with not a poor person in sight. Which speak volumes for the kind of people that would be left after such a disaster... what chance would the Human race have?

        At the other end of the scale we have Jackson Curtis (John Cusak) who is a fairly unsuccessful author and limo driver who is estranged from his family but is spending some time camping with his two kids Lilly (Morgan Lily) and Noah (Liam James). Whilst out in the wilds of Yellowstone national park he comes across Charlie (Woody Harelson) who is a doomsday conspiracy nut who tells Jackson about the impending Armageddon that is about the befall the planet. After dropping the kids back with his wife Kate (Amanda Peet) and her new beau Gordon (Thomas McCarthy) he becomes convinced of the destruction that is about to be unleashed and rushes back to rescue his family, but once he picks them up things start going downhill very quickly so where can he take them, and how will they get there? Well we get around another 2 hours to find out, during which times you will see some fantastic disaster scenes that ravage the planet.

        Emmerich's name is synonymous with disaster movies, from the (pretty much) city localised Godzilla, to the tame by comparison Day After Tomorrow and it is something that he does very well. Each time we get a disaster movie we get entertaining, popcorn munching, edge of your seat indulgence that has comedic moments thrown in for good measure and that is pretty much all I want from my disaster films so in that respect 2012 delivers. I suppose people could point at the lack of characterisation but I think that every one was well cast and I did care enough to want them to survive, I have also read about how unrealistic it is. I never understand these negative points, I never hear that Star Wars is unrealistic, or ET and I think the term is bandied around too easily, especially with a film like this.

        Personally I think that Emmerich gets a lot of bad press but for the most part I quite enjoy his films, the only exception of which was 10,000BC which bored me senseless. Sure 2012 is loud and brash and in your face and doesn't take itself seriously. It's a disaster movie we want it loud, brash and in your face and unserious, it is the attraction of movies like this. Sure the movie doesn't have masses in terms of character development, but to be honest I don't think many disaster movies delve deep here but I personally did at least care about them enough to want them to survive, and bar a few dodgy green screen effects that stood out like a sore thumb the special effects were wow enough to keep my glued to the screen for the bum numbing 158 minute runtime.

        Sound n Vision

        As you would expect with a new release of this nature the soundtrack is loud with deep bass; it takes you along on the ride and doesn't let you go, whether it is the earthquakes rumbling through your living room, or volcanic meteors smashing into the floor it is full on. It doesn't obliterate the dialogue though which is always clear and concise, all the speakers were used and so we are surrounded with disaster and mayhem.

        Image wise it is crisp and clear for the most part, there were a couple of times I noticed a couple of contrast issues and there were a few times when I noticed back green screen effects, but overall a pretty good image and with so much going on you will not know where to turn. Black levels are nice a rich without losing details and daylight shots are colourful and crisp.

        Bonus Material

        Mysteries of the Mayan Calender:
        A short documentary that gives information on the Mayan Calendar which is the basis of the disasters in the film.

        Mayan Personality Profile:
        Put in your date of birth and it will give you a profile about yourself, I would not say that mine was completely accurate.

        Commentary with writer/director Roland Emmerich ad co-writer Harald Kloser:
        Not exactly a lively commentary but for those that like to listen to technical details it is very good, with both commentators discussing scene by scene the technical aspects and other details of the film.

        Picture in picture - Roland's vision:
        This seems to almost come under the guise of another commentary but it sits as a small picture in picture at the bottom left of the screen, but what confuses me about it is that it never really corresponds to the larger picture that is on screen. Some of the information that comes up has been seen before in some of the other extras.

        Designing the end of the world: (26 mins approx)
        This speaks in some length about the special effects that were used in the film. For me when watching the film some of the green screen stuff was noticeable as such, but generally when we are seeing wide shots the special effects are impeccable. But it was interesting to see how they create the effects that we see, and it all must have cost obscene amounts of money.

        Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic: (9 mins approx)
        Most of the running time is of cast members blowing smoke up Roland's arse and telling us how brilliant he is.

        The End of the World : The Actors Perspective: (7 mins approx)
        This is about the casting of the film, Roland thinks that 80% of getting it right is the casting and I do have to say that I think that he got the casting spot on, his reasons for choosing the people he chose, I agree with.

        Science Behind the Destruction: (13 mins approx)
        This deals with the theories around how the story was created and this was how the story was created. It would seem that there is some fact based into the story, a number of people are interviewed and if they are to be believed then December 2012 will not be a good time.

        Deleted Scenes (5 deleted scenes)
        All bar one scene I think they pretty much got it right about taking out the scenes that they took out.

        Alternate Ending (approx 4 mins)
        I think they got the original ending right although it is always good to see an alternate.


        I much enjoyed the movie. As a piece of entertainment it certainly hits the rights notes and the special effects are truly fantastic although I think if you have seen the trailer and been wowed by it you may well think that the film was not as good as you thought it might be. But I believe that when we see a film we want to be entertained, even if things are a little far fetched it is the escapism that draws us to the films in the first place, so for all the negative comments out there about this film I think you have to ask yourself one thing. Does it entertain you, and for me the answer was yes.


        © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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        • Zombieland (DVD) / DVD / 63 Readings / 60 Ratings
          More +
          09.03.2010 22:02
          Very helpful



          see review for overall opinion


          Horror comedy; Directed by Ruben Fleischer; Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin.

          Zombies and Comedy; The mixing of two genres that has been proven really do suit each other quite well as has already been witnessed in the excellent 2004 movie Shaun of the Dead. This time round we are in the United States with a bigger budget, different actors and a film that reminds me slightly of the zombie game Left 4 Dead.

          The world is a different place after a mad-zombie-disease has swept the globe leaving few survivors and plenty of zombies, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is one of these survivors and he has kept himself alive by adhering to his rules, which we get to hear about throughout the film, he is trying to get back home. On his journey he meets up with no nonsense Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who is on a quest to find twinkies. The two are complete opposites but band together when Tallahassee says that he will take Columbus part of the way home.

          It isn't long before they meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and her little sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who add even more friction to the fray. Initially they are all at odds with each other they begin to become closer only to have the newly formed friendship tested when more zombies rise against them.

          I had heard really good things about Zombieland and was looking forward to taking the plunge with the movie, the benchmark for me as mentioned before is Shaun of the Dead, a fantastic British movie that in my mind blends the right amount of horror with comedy. But does it work? To an extend yes it does, the talkover given by Eisenberg can get annoying at times but it is needed and does add a dimension to the film that added a fair few comedy moments, examples of this are when he is explaining his rules on survival.

          But in truth there is nothing much fresh and new hear, in fact it plays out very much like a game with set locations that the group visit where they waste a few more zombie and talk to each other a little more before moving on to the next location. This could be a major problem if the film was lengthy but at 82 minutes it moves along quite rapidly and we accept the set piece format as we do find out more about the characters at each stage. The best section of all is when they find themselves in a Beverly Hills Mansion and we get the much talked about celebrity cameo.

          Harrelson is the best of the bunch acting wise, his redneck character manages to come across all macho most of the time barring the moment when he doesn't want to be shot with his own gun, or when he is searching for twinkies. The girls are not really given much to do for large swathes of film accept to make up the numbers although Emma Stone looks good pretty much the entire time. Eisenberg is the perfect nerd to Harrelson's redneck and they feed off each other quite well (pardon the pun).

          Zombieland is not a perfect movie, there are a couple of times when it ran a bit flat but it is a funny movie and is certainly worth a watch.

          Nothing wrong with either the audio or visual aspects of this movie, the picture looks great, full of colour and no "noise". Audio is clear throughout with lots of good impact noises when humans meet zombies, so altogether I was very pleased with it all.

          The disc is quite content rich in terms of extras. We have a packed commentary with actors Harellson, Eisenberg as well as the Director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick. Then In search of Zombieland is a 15 minute making of feature which includes the characters and the makeup of the zombies. Zombieland is your Land is covers the great sets that we see. We get the obligatory deleted scenes and lastly visual effects progressive scenes which as it sounds covers some special effects with multiples views on how they did the scenes.

          Ultimately as a zombie/comedy it does work but I still think Shaun of the Dead is better.

          © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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          • Malice In Wonderland (DVD) / DVD / 50 Readings / 49 Ratings
            More +
            28.02.2010 00:53
            Very helpful



            see review for overall opinion.

            Malice in Wonderland is a dragged into the twenty first century by its white rabbit ears take on the classic Alice in Wonderland tale. Only this time instead of white rabbits and playing card soldiers we get prostitutes, gangsters, robbers and the like in place of the characters we are used to.

            The story follows Alice (Maggie Grace) who is running away from an unknown group of people. In her rush to get away she is knocked down by Whitey (Danny Dyer) and suffers from amnesia. Whitey is on a quest to get a present for Harry Hunt who is being released from jail and so gets rid of his female distraction as soon as he is able to.

            Alice decides that she wants to find her mother and in her quest comes across all sorts of weird characters (most that you will recognise from the original movie). In the meantime Whitey discovers that Alice is quite rich and a reward for her return has been put up by her father, Whitey then attempts to track her down, only this time more and more people seem to want Alice for themselves.

            This is a movie that you will either love or hate. You may sit there and appreciate that this is an independent movie made on a shoestring budget, you may think that the characters are interesting, unusual and as colourful as the backgrounds that you see and you may enjoy they way that they have adjusted the original story into modern times, and if you like you movies with that touch of inane psychedelic lunacy that makes you think you're going off your trolley a bit then this is certainly for you.

            The acting will never win Oscars but at the same time you can't really fault it, everybody plays their roles well enough from Whitey, through to Harry Hunt and all the little minions that work away around him and I guess it is interesting to see how characters from the original film have been evolved into something else for this modern take. Danny Dyer is his normal Cockney and yet strangely charming self and Maggie Grace plays her Alice quite well although she is a little too trusting in who she takes pills from.

            For me the film didn't really hit the mark at least not in the beginning but as the story progresses it does improve and you feel more comfortable with what you are seeing on screen, the last 10 minutes of the film were for me the best parts and it almost made it worth watching the crazy middle section of the movie. It's just a question of if you enjoy your movies with a dash of insanity.

            Audio Visual:
            I watched it with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track which is clear and concise, dialogue was never overshadowed by the soundtrack and so was easy to listen to. The visual were good too, no real detail lost in the dark scenes (and there are plenty of dark scenes) and the colours are big and bold, especially during the "Wonderland" portions of the film.

            Bonus Features:
            Just a single feature on this disc which is "The making of Malice in Wonderland" a 10 chat with the actors and other people involved in the making of the film, it seems a bit hastily put together and had it not been for the chat with Maggie you would be left a little confused with it all.

            If you like your films with a dash of insanity then this is for you, I personally couldn't get into it as much as I had hoped.


            © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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            • The Ugly Truth (DVD) / DVD / 67 Readings / 64 Ratings
              More +
              08.02.2010 23:26
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              see review for overall summary

              The Ugly Truth.

              Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) is the uptight, control freak producer of a breakfast TV show in Sacramento who has such high expectations of her ideal man she struggles to meet anyone. To add to her woes the ratings for her morning show are dropping through the floor. To counter this her boss hires Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler); he hosts a slot called The Ugly Truth where he casts his blunt, critical opinion on relationships.

              Abby, who has seen his show, and disgusted by it is left reeling by the news that Chadway will be on her show but as they interact on a daily basis she calls on his dating advice when she meets the guy of her dreams. Surprisingly his methods seem to be working and Katherine gets her man, although it would seem that Mike may well be falling for her.

              I am a firm believer that films are there to entertain you, to take you into a world that is away from reality; which is just as well because the ugly truth has as little to do with reality as almost any film that I've seen of late, although I will admit that romantic comedies are not really high on my list of must see movies.

              The problem that I had with the film went beyond the fact that the story line is the same storyline that most other romantic comedies posses which is that guy and girl who are polar opposites and hate each other gradually seemed to be pulled together but not before they get on each other's nerves, I know it is difficult to be truly original these days but c'mon this is so generic it's painful.

              Other issues were that Heigl is supposed to comes across as an uptight, control freak with stratosphere high standards and whilst she lives up to this character at the beginning of the film once she finds her man and is getting the advice of what to do and how to do it from Mike it is never really noticeable, we never see the inner struggle she has with herself, it is as if she slipped from one character to another with no problems whatsoever. In fact until we get towards to end of the film when she remembers that she is supposed to have these traits I actually forgot that they were there.

              Butler is marginally better although he seems to pull funny facial expressions in order to keep his American accent on track, but apart from that his character is all about painting guys totally as two dimensional, shallow creatures who only think with their crotch, this of course being more of a shortcoming with the script rather than any negative acting points from him, and on top of this the language in the film is a bit heavy for a 15 rating, I am no prude but to insinuate anal sex and talk about blow jobs and cocks I felt was a little overboard.

              It isn't all bad, there are quite a few funny moments in the movie although they do all feel a little contrived and placed but they are funny nonetheless, the football game and the official dinner being the funniest. But sadly a few laughs is all this film really has to offer.


              Extras wise we have a selected scenes commentary from Robert Luketic (Director) and Gary Lucchesi (Producer); there are also 6 deleted and extended scenes none of which really would improve the film in any way. There are two alternate endings which may or may not be better than the actual ending depending on your take on the ending used. The customary Making of documentary follows this. Lastly we have The Art of Laughter: A Making of Hilarious Proportions which takes a look at the casting within the film.

              An average comedy which seems to rely on course language to push it forward, there is no real originality in the film with the storyline probably used a thousand times before.

              © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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              • More +
                14.01.2010 18:20
                Very helpful



                see review for summary

                Taking of Pelham 123 (this is a review of the blu-ray although most aspects of it are the same for the DVD, the only difference being the picture quality and possibly the extras, any blu-ray exclusive extras will be noted.

                I've not seen the original Pelham movie made all the way back in 1974 starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw although I am aware that it is considered a classic thriller although knowing how to content of movies have changed over the years I would imagine that this Tony Scott remake would be visually more appealing and more visceral than the original film.

                New York Subway train Pelham 123 has been taken over by a small group of terrorists led by Ryder (John Travolta), he is demanding $10 million in order to release the 18 hostages that he has with him. When Ryder calls in with his demands he gets Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) on the other end of radio and makes his demands clear, he wants the money within an hour or he will execute a hostage every minute after the deadline and suggests rather strongly that Garber should be contacting the mayor.

                Tony Scott's take on the Pelham story is a good, tense thriller for the first two thirds of the movie although it tends to wane a little during the last act. The enclosed, shadow strewn tunnel and the harshly lit train carriage as well as the technology filled MTA dispatch centre make for excellent locations for Ryder and Garber to exchange dialogue, and the dialogue is quite gripping with the calm, quite humble Garber equalling his time between trying to find out more about Ryder as well as trying to calm him down when he flies off the handle dropping mother*****r bombs left right and centre. The last third however didn't really hold the same interest or tension and found myself quite disappointed with the rather lame ending, although I I've no idea if this ending is a new one for this film or one that is copied directly from the original.

                Although there are a couple of small cameo roles from James Gandolfini (The Mayor) and John Turturro (A Hostage Negotiator); this is very much a John Travolta and Denzel Washington movie. I think Travolta is at his best when playing a bad guy and yet he changed his look sufficiently each time in order to keep the character fresh and different, the look he has in Pelham suits him and you certainly wouldn't want to mess with the guy he looks and acts completely badass.

                Washington's Garber on the other hand is the Polar opposite to Travolta's Ryder, a man who was in a fairly senior position within the MTA until he was demoted following an investigation for bribe taking; Although hw doesn't play it brash and loud, indeed he comes across as quite a humble man and this was the only way he could be played really, he had to be the opposite of Ryder in order to bring the story together a little more. It is nice to see him in a role like this whereas he normally plays the dominant character; in this he is quite submissive.

                For the most part the Taking of Pelham 123 is a well made thriller barring an annoying "what the hell" moment when Garber is given a deadline but seems to spend an age on a telephone conversation which eats through precious seconds. I think that the first two thirds are much better than the final third and even ignoring the poor ending it isn't a film that does anything that has not been done before, in fact with this being a remake is has very much been done before, back in 1974, although with less swearing, and that, from what I read, is the better movie.


                The image is stunning on this blu-ray release; when in the tunnels the blacks of the shadows are rich and deep and is in direct comparison to the starkly lit train carriage where everything is intentionally washed out. I could detect grain or noise of any description and it was a joy to behold. Likewise the MTA centre which was a hive of technology has a warm cosy feel to it almost in matching with Garbers mood. The scenes that are outside buildings are filled with detail too, shot with a slightly cool colour palette.


                Most of the audio seemed to come from the front array with the occasional effect such a trains, helicopters etc appearing in the rears at times, the dialogue is clear and concise through the centre with the soundtrack never really drowning out what needs to be said, altogether a nice job although I would have like to have heard more through the rears.

                Firstly there are a couple of commentaries, one with Director Tony Scott and a second with the screenwriter Brian Hegeland and Producer Todd Black.

                No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 123, this is a decent making of feature, lasting about 30 minutes it takes a look around the new production as well as explaining the retelling, rather than a remaking of the original 74 movie. Travolta explains it very well when he says that it is like the original Pelham 123 only on steroids. Throughout the 30 minutes we are treated to a number of main character interviews and insights. A very good feature.

                The Third Rail: New York Underground is a more in depth look at the underground system in New York, whereas it is looked over in the first extra this one concentrates only in this aspect of the filming includes the carriages that were used and how they built and modified their own. From the top down is a rather pointless 5 minute extra looking at the haircuts for the characters. Marketing Pelham is simply the trailer for the film.


                A good film although it doesn't do anything you have not seen before but a very good Travolta and Washington performance ensure that it is entertaining.

                Overall 7/10

                © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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                • District 9 (DVD) / DVD / 62 Readings / 56 Ratings
                  More +
                  25.12.2009 20:31
                  Very helpful



                  see review for summary

                  ***District 9 - Blu-Ray***


                  Twenty years ago a massive spacecraft came to Earth; it bypassed cities like New York and eventually came to a hover of Johannesburg in South Africa. The spaceship stayed there completely inert for a while until humans managed to enter the ship; inside they discovered over a million locust looking aliens whom they nicknamed prawns. The aliens were malnourished and dying so a decision was made to bring them to Earth and set up an area where they could live. That area is District 9.

                  Being in such close proximity with Humans it is inevitable that there would be conflict and tension and so it was decided that the aliens would be moved to another camp 200km away from District 9 and so the MNU, who is the company that oversees the camp, has been charged with moving the 1.8 million aliens away to the new camp.

                  The task for putting this into motion is given to Wilkus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who is an officer within MNU. Wikus is not really an ideal man for the job, It isn't that he is so much incompetent as he just doesn't take enough precautions and he is exposed to some alien biotechnology, after Wilkus is exposed he finds out some shocking news and also needs to form an alliance, an alliance he would never have dreamt would of occurred.

                  I recall hearing in the bonus features that District 9 is not a political film and is not out there to make a political statement although I find that difficult to believe and there are a number of reasons for this. Initially the film is set in South Africa and in recent history this country had apartheid to separate white and black people. District 9 is an area segregated too with aliens within the confines of what is essentially a prison camp, and the humans outside.

                  Secondly also on researching this review I read that there used to be an area in Cape Town called District 6, this was an eclectic mixed of races whom had settled in an area and the Government had decided to relocate the inhabitants and had evicted them to an area 25km away, In district 9 the MNU are attempting to evict the aliens to take them to another camp.

                  But political statement or not there is no denying that Writer/director Neill Blomkamp and writer Terri Tachell have come up with a fantastic story that has us rooting for the good guys, and the good guys in district one are not necessarily human. Sharlto Copley who plays Wikus Van De Merwe is fantastic in his role; I am really surprised that he has not been discovered as an actor earlier although he did play a role as a sniper in Blomkamp's first ever directorial outing called Alive in Joburg; he brings a sense of realism to the movie that I found stunning. He balances the character in such a way that initially we are not really sure what to think of him, at points comes across as a semi competent bureaucrat that has been given a promotion well above his station, but then that character changes into a man that grows stronger and has belief and conviction, although the changes he makes are so subtle it is completely believable and a natural evolution on the man.

                  The aliens are fantastically created. Being around 7 feet tall they resemble locusts and live in hive like hierarchy, they sift through rubbish within the landfill surrounding their shacks finding scraps of food and junk, although it also appears that they are searching for something, they also have dealings with the local Nigerian warlord who buys their guns (which they hide in caches) and other weaponry and it is hinted that prostitutes satisfy the aliens needs too although thankfully we don't see that and the movie never goes there, in return the warlord supplies the aliens with cat food at highly inflated prices, they (the aliens) had developed a taste, almost an addiction to the stuff since they landed some 20 years before.

                  Where the first half of the film deal more with building Van De Merwe's character and setting the initial background behind District 9 and the MNU performing the evictions. The second half of the film will appeal more to the action fans like me. I cannot reveal much as it would be a spoiler but suffice to say that we see some of the enemy weapons in use and running battles with MNU mercenaries and the Nigerian Gang and very impressive it is too with explosions and bullets thudding into metal and flesh, also if you are into computer gaming and are familiar with half-life2 there is a gun used that is very similar to the anti-gravity gun wielded by Gordon Freeman.

                  Blomkamp is a director to watch out for in the future, the storytelling (which he penned along with Terri Tatchell) is superb and his directorship style is refreshing and nice to watch. The documentary style portions fit in with the more traditional sequences like a glove to the point where they are unnoticeable by the viewer, also the documentary style here is not like the style in say a film like Cloverfield which although I personally enjoyed had excessive use of the shaky camera which can get tedious.

                  Come the end I was struggling to find anything negative to say about the film, and I suppose if I were to be really harsh I would question how the humans would understand the aliens language, but I think that is a particularly harsh point for me to bring up and I can safely say that I enjoyed everything about the film, I can't wait until the next one.

                  As well as the Directors Commentary there are Deleted Scenes:
                  A whole heap of deleted scenes; you can play all or watch them individually, however there is no explanation as to why these scenes was deleted nor is there any commentary explaining why they were deleted. Most of the scenes are very short.

                  ***The Alien Agenda - A Filmmakers log (three-part documentary):***
                  These three documentaries essentially form a "making of" for District 9, Each part deals with a different part of the movie. The first part covers the creative ideas behind the film. The second part covers the actual filming of District 9 and the third part which is called refining District 9 takes us through the post production of the film.

                  I am not sure why they split it into three parts although there is a play all option but as a whole it is a decent "making of" documentary and it holds our interest throughout its total (approximate) 40 minutes length and explains every aspect of the film that you would want to know about.

                  ***Metamorphosis - The transformation of Wikus:***
                  This covers the make up that Sharlto Copley went through, sometimes his makeup would take up to 5 hours but when you see the results that they produce you can see that they have done a fantastic job.

                  ***Innovation - Acting & Improvisation:***
                  As the title suggests this covers the acting and we find out that the actors were given a great deal of freedom into how to approach their scenes and how they were allowed to improvise on the lines that they needed to say.

                  ***Conception & Design - Creating the World of District 9: ***
                  We get to see the design sets that were created.

                  ***Alien Generation - Visual Effects: ***
                  We see how the aliens were created as well as the exo-suit that Wikus dons in the film.

                  ***Joburg from above - satellite and schematics of the world of District 9 Interactive Map (BR Exclusive):***
                  This is exactly as described, a satellite view map that allows you to drill down and find out more information about specific aspects of District 9 and the surrounding area.

                  A must see movie from a new Director that is at the top of its game for storytelling and cinematography and an ending that will leave you thinking.

                  © This review is entirely my own work and will have been cross posted elsewhere.


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                  • Black Water (DVD) / DVD / 61 Readings / 59 Ratings
                    More +
                    13.12.2009 00:47
                    Very helpful



                    see review for summary

                    Black Water.

                    During a trip through a Mangrove swamp in Australia Grace (Diana Glenn), her husband Adam (Andy Rodoreda) and Grace's little sister Lee (Maeve Dermody) find themselves attacked by a crocodile. The boat has been capsized, the guide is missing and although Adam & Grace make it to the relative safety of a tree, Lee is stuck on the bottom of the upturned boat.

                    The Massive Crocodile is loitering around the area awaiting easy pickings although he cannot be seen, as the water is so murky, the group needs to escape but with no knowledge of the area and no relevant skills they will be hard pushed to even survive., especially as no-one knows where they are.

                    My interest was initially perked when it was announced that the film was based on true events, whether these events are surrounding one such encounter or a culmination of a number of Crocodile attack stories I am unsure, as it never says. My next thought was that as it was a low budget film, would the Crocodile look like a very bad puppet.

                    I have to say that they have done an impressive job. I do know (from the website) that they used real Crocodiles in the making of the film which is to be expected with maybe a bit of stock footage, but I was impressed by the quality of the Croc in the close up scenes which obviously had to be a puppet, or CGI of some description, it looked real enough to me.

                    The fact that a film has a low budget doesn't necessarily mean that the film is going to be a bad one, although it will take a special director (and crew) to make a low budget film look exceptional. Black Waters low budget was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I think it steered them away from having a gore fest, something where it is thick with blood and half eaten limbs and having to keep the cost down forced them to look at creating tension within the film.

                    The curse of the budget is that the Crocodile is never really used in a way to sare the bejesus out of us more often, concentrating for long perids of time on the characters, which is fine sometimes but it basically make everything very repetative which threw out the flow of the film.

                    The acting seemed ok, I've never heard of any of the actors in the film but none of them really hammed it up or overacted massively although you do find yourself questioning some of the decisions that they make in the film (as you do in most films like this), but that is more a script things rather than any fault of the actors.

                    There were a few things that I didn't like about the movie. There were a few points when I thought that the silent moments in the film went on too long and the actors should have been saying something, a few too many panned shots of mangrove trees to force home the fact that they are in the middle of nowhere. And during a night time storm scene the screen was completely dark, only showing people when there was a flash of lightening, the dark parts went on a bit too long. The biggest downer though was at certain points it is predicable; I guessed when all the attacks would take place and who would be attacked: Saying that though there are plenty of suspense filled, jumpy bits of the film that had me edgy and the heart pounding a bit, so I have to say that as a suspense film it did its job very nicely.

                    These things aside though I did enjoy the film I've certainly seen worse and it was jumpy at certain points so all in all I am glad that I saw it. I think however that I can only really recommend this for a rental.


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                    • More +
                      31.07.2009 10:34
                      Very helpful



                      jump in, get involved, but read the small print

                      I have been a member of Dooyoo since June 2001, I don't post all the time for a number of reasons and have only posted 64 (this will be 65) reviews so far in my time on the site which averages out at only 8 reviews a years posted..

                      However Dooyoo, along with Ciao (where I have been since 2006) has been a site that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I can post a review up and make a little bit of cash and also find out about new items when I return the reads/rates of the people that read me.

                      I can delve into as much or as little as I want, you can meet new people, you can improve your writing skills and you can get a real opinion on a product or service that you maybe interested in buying/getting involved with so in this the site is a very good site with a community spirit.

                      That said there are bad points to all these types of sites, for me it is two fold. Firstly it is the churners, people that throw out masses of low quality reviews on a daily basis in that search for a quick buck, I avoid those people by looking at the statistics as most of these people are so busy churning out crap that they don't read other peoples stuff, so it is easy to pick these people out, and so I don't read them.

                      Also a new bad point has come to my attention via someone on my Circle of Friends and this is something that Dooyoo themselves have initiated. Now I must admit I don't know if this rule was there all along or if it is something that has recently been updated, but if you go to http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/community/_page/faq/
                      And look at #1 it states "Reviews continue earning dooyooMiles for the first 6 months that they are live on the site, after which time they will remain visible on the site but will no longer earn dooyooMiles if other members read them (unless you update the review)."

                      Now I know some of my very early reviews can be off in terms of quality, but for me, because I only post irregularly most of my reviews are more than 6 months old, which means that most of my reviews will not earn me points. Sure I am reasonable and would either go back and update the poor ones (or I assume that with items I no longer have such as the Flightplan DVD I can ask for the review to be removed entirely WITHOUT having any points deducted after all it is over a year old and even though it was awarded a crown it is not worthy of any reward as it isn't up to date).

                      However in many ways, not having many reviews posted is a blessing as if I wanted to update it would not be insurmountable but what about those that post very regularly, these people have a real issue regardless of the quality of their review as Dooyoo now determine that a review that is 6 months old is not worthy of reward because it isn't up to date.

                      If this was already in the Ts and Cs then I missed it when I joined those years ago, however If this is a new addition to the rules I can only assume that dooyoo are under some pressure financially, they don't want people earning points, and there for money, from their older reviews regardless of how good those reviews are.

                      And I think that by implementing this rule (assuming it is new) they are encouraging the scourge of sites like dooyoo and that is the churner, those people that chuck out crap reviews all day every day. THESE are the people that dooyoo should be looking to thwart, not the people that actually put effort into their reviews.

                      My opinion is I will see how things go, if I notice that a lot of my reads are on my reviews over 6 months old, then I won't be getting any points, and if I don't get those what is the point of me actually being here? That's right there is no point and so I will leave the site and close my account. Or I could just come back in 6 months and update this review as after then I wouldnt earn anything from it anyway.

                      I would have given a 4 star rating, 1 being removed for the churners that spoil the site, the 2nd star has been removed simply becuase of this rule that reviews over 6 months old do not get rewarded.


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                      • Bones - Season 1 (DVD) / TV Series / 101 Readings / 99 Ratings
                        More +
                        11.06.2009 17:09
                        Very helpful



                        see review for overall opinion

                        Bones - Season 1

                        The Review

                        A friend of mine recently loaned me his Season 1 boxset of Bones. He was singing its praises as he handed me the box saying "the show really sucks you in". So with no idea of what to expect I started trawling through the episodes.

                        In the ongoing quest to arm criminals with a plethora of information on how NOT to get caught we have seen a number of television shows crop up that delve a fair bit deeper than your average cop show. CSI being probably the most well known. When CSI popped onto our screens a fair few years ago audiences loved the fresh approach that was being taken as well as the special effects that showed bullets and other sharp objects entering human bodies. CSI was so popular we even got CSI - New York and CSI Miami as spin offs. So popular was the first show that apparently it boosted applications for Forensic jobs by more than 100%.

                        Bones takes a similar but visually different approach in that crimes are investigated from a forensic point of view. Although looking at the very different setups between CSI and Bones I assume it is a different form of forensics that is being used, (I am not in Forensics and so I cannot comment). They also team up with the FBI which I think has been put in to A: make it a little more interesting and B: To get them out of the lab.

                        The programmes two main characters are Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who is a forensic anthropologist, and Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) of the FBI. Temperance, who, apart from having a silly name and looking suspiciously like David Coulthards sister is quite a strange character. She seems to be completely science driven having few if any social or people skills, she would rather stay late investigating old bones rather than going out to a club or for dinner. There is some back story that creeps in over a few episodes where we find out more about her. She has just written a book and she lost her parents when she was 15 and went into the foster care system. But so far from what I've watched she is decidedly strange and drops into analytical deductions at least once every episode.

                        Boreanaz is not only there to get Brennan and her team out of the lab. There are the not so subtle romantic undertones to their relationship which may or may not be explored in later episodes/seasons, and he also gives that human touch to the investigations that they get involved in. He is also written with a sense of humour that brings the occasional smile from the audience. His role is vital, without it the program would be completely and utterly boring.

                        There are three main other characters that make up Brennans team, between them they talk in that scientific babble that makes the science-mumbo-jumbo chatter of Star Trek fame seem like listening to a children's book. But everyone looks sufficiently satisfied with the deep, meaningless-to-normal-mortals spiel that takes place at least once per episode, the writers must be aware of this technical chatter as they even have Booth saying "I need subtitles when I come in here." During one of the episodes, I've no idea if what they are saying is accurate although I suspect that many a forensic anthropologist would tut and slowly shake their head to the dialogue. After all these are actors and whilst some realism is going to be incorporated, errors and emissions are bound to happen.

                        The rest of the team are Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J Thyne), Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) and Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin).

                        Hodgins seems pretty normal to me, he is hiding a bit of a secret but it is not a oh-my-god kind of secret, it is just something he doesn't want as general knowledge, you will find out about this in the episode where they are all required to attend a banquet, I am not going to tell you what it is. Even though I say he is normal he is still a bit geeky, preferring to play bug races with Zack on a Friday night rather than going out, but on the whole he seems a decent enough guy.

                        Angela is there mainly as a bit of alternative eye candy to Brennan, but her given reason for being on the show is that she is an artist that gives the bones that they find faces and identities' using a rather funky holographic device which I am sure has not actually been invented for real. She often tries and pulls her best friend "Brennan" out into the real world for dates and fun, although how they are best friends given their interests and lifestyles is lost on me.

                        Lastly there is Zack, and this for me is where the show is a let down a tad. The reason for this is that the actor that plays Zack plays him like a robot. In fact I would say Data in Star Trek is more human than this guy. He is taking the premise of a geeky scientific nerd and is really going other the top, it doesn't help that he has a rather annoying voice. He doesn't spoil the show, neither do the others but I always find that there are weak points in every show and in Bones it is Zack.

                        With that said, I am actually enjoying the episodes, and whilst i am not being "sucked in" to each of them they are really enjoyable to watch and at the time of writing this I have nearly finished the season. The relationship of the two main characters (Booth and Brennan) are reminiscent of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully of X-Files fame which is appealing as we always wonder if they are doing to take that extra step, the characters are also interesting, and well thought out with time both in the lab and out on scene trying to catch criminals so we get to see two sides of the same coins really, Booth in the more "grunt" side of working the investigations and "Brennan" finding out all sort of clues from the remains that they work on, even if her and her team do use big long words you do tend to "get the gist" of what they are talking about because they have to repeat it to someone in a dumbed down form, not that people are dumb of course, but because the original explanation is way out there and the program makers need to mention the techno-babble without alienating their audience.

                        If I have one gripe...ok then two as the first one is Zack then that is when they are driving. For the majority of the time (at least at the beginning of the season) they seem to be in front of a projected screen which I think degrades the production values somewhat, especially as the lab looks state of the art. It just seemed a bit tight fisted to do it that way than to actually do it for real. But these are small gripes really and I think that if you like shows of the CSI ilk then you will love this.

                        Sound n Vision
                        We get a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture that looks fantastic. Images are crisp and clear in all the episodes (as they should be) just check out how clean, sterile and well lab like, the laboratory looks. On some occasions there was a very slight issue when character were is a car driving. They seem to put the car in front of a projected image and you can sometime see an extremely light halo effect around the characters, but it is certainly nothing major. I the blacks are deep and solid and the colours are bright and vibrant.

                        A nice Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track does occasionally filter through the rears but mainly it is the front speakers that are used, with some nice base effects thrown in on occasion too. I found the dialogue was crisp and clear and that the music never overpowered the speech.

                        The extras a spread throughout the disks, If you read the back of the individual boxes, it indicates the disks on which the extras can be found.

                        * Audio commentary for the 'Pilot' episode
                        Barry Josephson and Creator Hart Hanson talk us through the pilot episode, it pans out the same way as most commentaries, we find out where and why they did certain things, and little bits of the show that we may have missed.

                        * 'Will The Real Kathy Reichs Please Step Forward' featurette

                        * 'Squints' featurette
                        We get to talk to the cast and we find out how they see their characters in the show. I found this fairly interesting, we get each persons take of their characters which of course allow us to get to know them a bit better.

                        * 'The Real Definition' featurette
                        They take a few of the really long winded words and explain what they mean. I guess this is interesting up to a point, but ultimately it isn't going to be something that you watch more than once.

                        * 'Bones: Inspired By the Life of Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Reichs' featurette
                        We find out much more about Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), as well as speaking to Kathy Reichs who is a real life Forensic Anthropologist about how she is involved in the show as a consultant.

                        * Character profiles
                        Text based writings about each of the characters.

                        The show is interesting and enjoyable to watch, most of the characters are good, likeable people, although I do think that for people like Brennan and Zack they have made them too scientific in their mannerisms and speech. The show is based on a real life forensic anthropologist, Kathy Reichs (Author) who is also involved in the creation of the show so it does on the face of it carry some clout in terms of realism.

                        My only question is to whether to own it on DVD. It is not that it is a bad show, quite the opposite but as with all TV shows, how many times are you really going to go back and watch it. I would say if the seasons were £10 each then I would go for it, but at over £20 at the moment for a season then I think you need to be a bit of a die hard fan.

                        © This review is entirely my own work but may have been cross posted elsewhere. MAY also be published under the name sjp1966 on Ciao UK and also under sjp1966 on the Digital Lard/Movie District website to which I am a contributor, as well as cross posted to IMDB external reviews, and possibly other places too.


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                        • More +
                          11.05.2009 14:18
                          Very helpful



                          see review for summary

                          == Back to Normandy ==

                          === film ===
                          When this review disk came in the post I thought it was going to be about World War II, revisiting some of the beaches with people that actually fought there all those years ago; combined with a good few then and now pictures to pull us into the documentary. However whilst it is a documentary about revisiting a place, it certainly has nothing to do with World War 2.

                          Nicolas Philibert is a French director, however back in 1976 Philibert was an assistant director working on Rene Allio's film I, Pierre Riviere... That film was about a murderer called (Strangely enough) Pierre Riviere and he murdered three members of his family back in 1835. Allio's film cast local farmers as some of the main characters in the film; Philibert's documentary however was to track down these farmers 30 years later to see what had happened to them.

                          I've not seen the original film and I am not sure that even if I had there would be much advantage to gain in terms of working out why Philibert went and made this documentary. I guess the original film and/or the cast had a profound effect on him and now that he is a director himself he wanted to soak up a bunch of nostalgia surrounding a film he had a part in making some 30 years earlier.

                          I have to say that I didn't really connect with the film; in fact I am only calling it a film because it is easier and shorter to write than documentary. This could be because I have not seen the original movie, or maybe because it is a foreign language piece, although I actually think it is more to do with the pace of the film and structure, it is mind numbingly slow with no real sense of direction or pace. For example there is a scene at the beginning where there is a static camera filming a pig being born, I was beginning to wonder if it were a webcam as we hung on that scene for so long, I was also thinking what the hell is this all about, it is certainly nothing to do with a 19th Century murder. It was in fact to introduce one of the characters who starred in Rene Allio's film, as that person is now a farmer.

                          The structure of it all is all over the place as well, we get scenes from everyday "modern" life, an interview or two then some excerpts from the original movie and for me it was just all too much, there doesn't seem to be any reason to make it except as a personal nostalgic trips to satisfy the director himself and he has "allowed" us to come along and join him.

                          === Overall: ===
                          I think this film would suit fans of the original movie, or for fans of the director but this is not for random viewing. I couldn't cope with the snail like pace, the disjointed structure and just could not connect or get into it at all.

                          © This review is entirely my own work but may have been cross posted elsewhere. MAY also be published under the name sjp1966 on Ciao UK and Ciao US and also under sjp1966 on the Digital Lard website to which I am a contributor, as well as cross posted to IMDB external reviews, and possibly other places too.


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                          • 300 (2 DVDs) / DVD / 121 Readings / 119 Ratings
                            More +
                            26.03.2009 13:27
                            Very helpful



                            see review for overall opinion

                            Ok ok, not the most original title, but still I think it is the best quote. This review is on the 2 disc region 1 set..

                            For me the films Troy, Alexander were a disappointment, Kingdom of Heaven was a little better but still not by much and the only film that had given me my fix of that era was Ridley Scott's Gladiator way back in 2000. After seeing the trailers for 300 I knew that I wanted to see it, but would it be the kick arse, ancient time's blockbuster that I hoped it would be?

                            Based on the graphic novel by writer/cartoonist, Frank Miller 300 is his take on the Battle of Thermopylae which took place in 480BC. The novel and the film concentrating almost wholly on the 300 Spartan troops who helped delay 100,000 (maybe more) Persians at the narrow pass.

                            The basis of the story is simple. The Persians are coming. Their massive army is conquering all the known world and self proclaimed god leader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) has sent messengers to Sparta demanding that King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) submit and kneel before him. With that offer being rejected in true Spartan fashion Leonidas, unable to sent a proper army due to political manoeuvrings, gets together 300 warriors and marches North (meeting with other Greek troops along the way) to meet the Persians at the Hot Gates which is what I know from my history lessons as Thermopylae. It is here that the Spartans meet and frustrate Xerxes and his massive Persian Army. What follows is the visual feast that is 300.

                            I will dispense with my one and only negative point that I have about this film right at the start and that is David Wenham's (Dilios) voiceover. At the beginning of the film it isn't as bad as it only seems crops up here and here, but towards the end of the movie it is used quite excessively and for some reason it really grates on me (although it didn't when I saw the film at the cinema). I have asked others and they are not bothered by it at all so I guess it is a purely personal thing. But for me he sounds like a cross between Inspector Clouseau and Obi Wan Kenobi.

                            But this for me is the only negative in the film, even the hint of Scottish accent from Butler does not detract from Leonidas at all, in fact Gerard Butler IS King Leonidas, his physique and the strength of his character and the way he carries himself and delivers his lines were so strong that I am convinced that the real Leonidas spoke with a slightly Scottish accent. He is absolutely superb in his role, and looks every inch the leader of a nation of warriors. I would go so far as to wager that a high percentage of males leaving the cinema shouted "this is Sparta" at every available opportunity and wished wholeheartedly that they were soldiers of Sparta. The speeches that he gave his men, and his actions on screen gave me that little tingle down the spine that made me believe that his men would indeed follow him to hell.

                            But as good as Gerard Butler is 300 is so much more than just him oozing power and passion onto our screens, it is about making a stand for something that you believe in, it is about not giving up in the face of extremely bad odds and doing the best that you can. Zack Snyder has taken Frank Millers graphic novel and really given it a life and purpose outside of the pages of a book.

                            We do not spend all of our time at the battle; we also go back to Sparta where Queen Gorgo (Lena Hedley) tries to convince the politicians, particularly Theron (Dominic West) to send troops to Leonidas's aid. I think Hedley and Butler have a great screen attraction; I was quite convinced that she was his queen and he was her king, for example the look that passes between them before Leonidas dispenses with the Persian messenger says so much more than words could, he is seeking her acceptance even though as king he need not do so.

                            West as the politician Theron is quite loathsome and you constantly wish bad things to happen to him. He obviously plays his role extremely well as I could not stand the man by the end of the film, he is manipulative and comes across as particularly slimy.
                            For those of us that know our history (at least that version that we were taught) then we know what happens in the end, but that by no means spoils the journey; and it is a fantastic journey. The fight scenes drop into slow motion so that you can see the ballet of battle in action and gaze in awe at the carnage of it all, although I have to say that the film is not as gory as I thought it may have been given the subject matter at least not what I would call gory; yes there are decapitations, blood and limbs coming off, but it is done in an artistic way, if that is possible.

                            As you may be able to tell I loved this film with only the talk over grating me on the second watching, everything else about it; from the stunning visuals to the fight scenes were all top drawer, I can only recommend that you buy the disk put it in the player and wonder how so many eight packs got onto the screen at one time. This is my review, this is Spaarrttaaaa!

                            ** Presentation: **

                            Film mainly on green screen the image is a joy to behold, heavily produced the film looks exactly like a graphic novel come to film, the rich reds and browns look fantastic on my setup. The 5.1 Surround also performed with the sounds of battle reverberating around my living room, but not at the expense of the dialogue.

                            ** Extras: **

                            >> Audio Commentary with director Zack Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong <<
                            The guys talk us through all the elements of making the movie, pointing out how shots was made and pointing out details that we may miss just by watching the film normally, it is a good documentary and worthy of a watch.

                            >> Featurette: The 300- Fact or Fiction? <<
                            A documentary that speaks to historians, Zach Snyder and Frank Miller on this interpretation of the battle as well as real history. Frank admits that the fighting of the Wolf was made up, put in as an allegory to the actual battle itself where he traps the wolf between narrow rocks. He goes on to reveal other little titbits of information about the movie and we also get to lean something about the real history of the time.

                            >> Who Were the Spartans? The warriors of 300 <<
                            A very short documentary that gives some information about life as a real Spartan.

                            >> Frank Miller Tapes <<
                            A biography of sorts on Frank Miller and his train of thought behind 300.

                            >> Making of 300 <<
                            Fairly short making of which is really more of a chat with some of the actors about the film, It shows some really good clips of the film but overall is very weak as a "making of" section.

                            >> Making 300 in images <<
                            Montage of quick fire images depicting scenes from the film, each image as less than a second on screen before it is replaced by another, a pointless extra really dropped in as filler.

                            >> Deleted Scenes <<
                            Zack Snyder talks about three scenes that were deleted from the film. Short, but nice to see the deleted scenes. Personally I think they were good choices to have been deleted.

                            >> Webisodes: Behind the Scenes Peeks <<
                            Some short pieces that explain certain aspects of the film, from production design through to some of the characters within the film. Some bits repeat themselves from other areas of the extras but overall I found them an interesting watch.

                            This was my best film of 2007, apart from the talk-over (and even then only towards the end of the film) I loved every moment, the grand opulence of the Persians against the grit and toughness of the Spartans, recommended.


                            © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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                            • More +
                              12.03.2009 12:27
                              Very helpful



                              an enjoyable 1st outing for the four, but may not appeal to die hard fans

                              >>> Movie: <<<

                              There is a storm coming, as Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd); a brilliant but bankrupt scientist and his friend Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) explains to old school "friend" Victor Doom (Julian McMahon). Reed wants Doom to fund an expedition, as well as provide his space station in order to study this storm which may give clues about the very birth of mankind. Doom agrees, but only after fleecing Reed for a massive percentage of any profits as well as a place on the trip for himself and Susan Storm (Jessica Alba) who also happens to be Reeds ex-girlfriend, and her brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans).

                              After being introduced to characters, the mission gets under way. But we quickly find out that a miscalculation in the plan means that everyone gets exposed to massive amounts of radiation from the storm; and so the Fantastic Four (Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing) are born, as well as new arch villain Dr Doom.

                              Initially I had been told lots of bad things about the Fantastic 4 film. That it was not worth seeing. That it was a lemon of a film, and that it was not a true depiction of the Fantastic Four characters from the comics. The last of these reasons (to me) would not be very high on my reasons for not seeing the film as I had not read any of the comics and so I didn't know the true story of the characters, also this was a theatrical release and so would probably upset the purists anyway no matter how it was done. However I was still not completely confident when I inserted the disk. But how did it fair?

                              I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the film and the different "take" it had on the other superhero films I have seen such as The Hulk, Spiderman, and Batman etc. Whereas these other Superhero's have a lot of inner turmoil and angst it is not (with the exception of Ben Grimm (The Thing)) brought to play in this movie. In fact they all pretty much take their new powers in their stride. Whilst I have read that one of the downfalls of the movie is because their new powers do not seem to phase them in any way we have to remember that this is a action/adventure superhero movie, not a delve into the physiological effects of having a mind blowing "super power" thrust upon them.

                              When back on Earth and their transformations and changes become more apparent, Reed works tirelessly to try and find a cure, In the meantime Victor Doom starts turning into the bad guy and predictably the good Vs evil battle begins and soon their paths cross.

                              Tim Story the director has allowed the characters to have a bit of fun with the roles, there is humour scattered throughout the film by way of quips from all of the main people. The special effects are decent too, the view from the space station when Victor is talking to Susan as is the storm when it hits the space station for example give us a great preview into what is to come further into the film. The characters too are for the most part very good. The human torch effects I think are probably the best although It may fall down a little with Grimm's, The Thing looking like he is in a rubber suit some of the time, but at the same time I am glad they didn't resort to a CGI thing, that would have been worse.

                              Also, unlike most other superhero films the public seem to love them, Rather than seeing them as "the bad guys". Whilst there are a few moments in the film that seemed "wrong" (Ben Grimm's girlfriend leaving the house is very risqué garments, for example these were not overbearing to the point of spoiling the movie completely. After all, my son said the film was "much better and much funnier than the Hulk".

                              >>> Picture: <<<
                              Presented in Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic, the picture is a joy to behold. It came across as amazingly sharp and detailed with various hues of colour being used for different scenes within the film. A couple of cases of edge enhancement cropped but, but these were minor. I felt it was definitely up there in terms of best picture quality.

                              >>> Sound: <<<
                              Audio tracks available are English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 5.1 DTS. I watched the DTS version this time and was quite impressive. It was loud. To the point where I had the turn the Db down on the sub woofer a tad. Use of rears was more pronounced in the later half of the movie.

                              >>> Extras <<<
                              Please note that I received only disk one of the 2 disk set and so I cannot comment on the disc 2 extras .

                              *** Disc 1: ***
                              On entering the special features section you get the choice of:

                              *** Cast Commentary: ***
                              Which is an audio commentary from cast members Ioan Grufford, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon: I think what Is different about a commentary about a commentary from the actors rather than from the director or screenwriter etc is that you get little snippets about the movie that you would never learn if it had been given by the other people. Fairly interesting commentary, if you like watching that sort of thing.

                              *** 'The Fantastic Tour': ***
                              A handheld mini tour from Jessica Alba with interviews with the rest of the cast. Lots of jerky camera action which is a tad annoying however it is a different take on most of the "making of's" or "behind the scenes" that I've seen before. And whilst giving no insight into the actual technical aspects of making the film, it does give an appreciation into the promotion of a movie once it is made.

                              *** Music Videos: ***
                              'Everything Burns' music video
                              Anastasia and Ben Moody video from a song featured in the film.

                              *** 'Come On, Come In' music video ***
                              Velvet revolver's video from a song featured in the film.

                              *** Music soundtrack spot ***
                              A plug for the film soundtrack available as an album.

                              *** Inside Look: ***
                              X-Men 3': Fantastic Four and X-Men 3 producer Avi Arad walks us through X-men 3.

                              >>> Disc 2: <<<
                              'Heroes Are Born - The Making Of Fantastic Four':
                              A feature length "making of" covering each of the main characters and scenes.

                              *** 'The Baxter Building -Declassified': ***
                              The film's associate producer David Groder takes us around the art deco home of the Fantastic Four team. He guides us around the set and describes the key elements, with cutaways to the movie scenes showing how they appeared on the big screen.

                              *** Animatic comparison: ***
                              Computer animation side by side with final finished film element.

                              *** Deleted scenes: ***
                              Scenes that didn't make it to the final cut of the film, including one where Mr. Fantastic morphs into Wolverine as Sue Storm describes her perfect man!
                              'The Making of Fantastic Four': a fun and fast paced featurette introducing the franchise and characters, touching upon their powers and the special effects
                              'Fantastic Four -Making a Scene': a detailed guide to the creation of special effects used for a scene in the movie.

                              'Fantastic Four - Casting Session':
                              A collection of audition sessions involving each of the final cast members shot during pre-production of the film.

                              *** Theatrical teaser trailer. ***

                              *** Theatrical trailer. ***

                              *** TV spots. ***

                              Disc 2 subtitles:
                              English, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Greek, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Turkish, Russian

                              © This review is entirely my own work but may have been cross posted elsewhere. MAY also be published under the name sjp1966 on Ciao UK and Ciao US and also under sjp1966 on the Digital Lard website to which I am a contributor, as well as cross posted to IMDB external reviews, and possibly other places too.


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                                19.02.2009 13:04
                                Very helpful



                                see review for overall opinion

                                10 Rillington Place:


                                Who would have thought that the naïve and yet likeable John Hammond of Jurassic Park fame would be a creepy serial killer? No, nor me, but in 1971 he did just that; playing the part of British serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie in Richard Fleischer's 10 Rillington Place..

                                John Christie (Richard Attenborough) is a landlord, along with his wife Ethel (Pat Heywood) at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill. Christie looks like a quiet and unassuming character, he has a balding head, glasses and a soft voice; but he holds a terrible secret, and that is that Christie is a murderer, a fact that is established as soon as the movie starts.

                                After the initial crime we leap forward a few years to when Timothy Evans (John Hurt), his wife Beryl (Judy Geeson) and their permanently unhappy baby Geraldine are looking to rent the upstairs flat. Christie eyes Beryl with a perverted glint in his eye and lays the groundwork to gain her trust. Christie of course has other things in mind and weaves his web of lies that if successful will spell tragedy for all involved.

                                Made in 1971 many people may pass this film by, They may see it as too old (as it is in Black & White), or not "scary" enough, especially with the current climate of gratuitous gore that seems to dominate these days. But 10 Rillington Place shows how well films can be made without having to resort to those kinds of tricks. Instead of hacking and slashing our way through 111 minutes of movie we have a very tense, disturbing film; which I thought was filmed in a clever manner.

                                For example the flat that the Evans rent; although small and looking more than a little grotty, it does actually look quite bright, whereas Christie's rooms always look claustrophobic, dark and grubby which nicely sets the scene and the mood of how we feel about the man. There is also a nice camera sequence that stood out when on the ground floor where it seemed as if a hand held camera was following a character through the narrow hallway, this stood out for me as I would have thought that cameras were large clunky affairs at that time and that the scene would have been a little difficult to film within the confines of the house, I think it is worthy of mentioning as it stood out as a decent piece of camerawork. It is little nuances like this that show the superior qualities of this film.

                                The four main actors play their roles exceptionally well; Attenborough (Christie) is superb, oozing creepiness and trustworthiness at the same time which speaks buckets for his skill as an actor. He is not a man of physical presence so his menace is portrayed superbly through his tone of voice. In the bonus features he states that although it was a wonderful part to play for a character actor, he actually felt unclean and was glad when filming was over.

                                John Hurt is another great British actor. He plays Timothy Evans the illiterate husband of Beryl. His range of acting is superb, during the times when he is arguing with Beryl and her Friend Alice you really feel that a full blown row is in progress. When in the courtroom his expression of a man who is confused and struggling to understand what is going on is so believable, he gives an excellent performance and one that as of equal if not slightly better than that of Attenborough's.

                                Pat Heywood plays Ethel, Christie's wife. In all honesty she does not have a massive part to play in the film, she crops up now and then through the first two thirds of the film and appears a little more in the last third but it is never a role that is at the fore, Ethel was unaware of her husband's murderous ways and is often away when the crimes occur.

                                Beryl (Judy Geeson) is the trusting wife of Timothy and she is the reason that the plot moves forward, it is she that trusts Christie after his "little chat", it is she that approaches him with her "secret" and so the film is really geared around her once her family are in the flat, however due to Attenborough's portrayal of the serial killer, and Hurts fantastic performance she is relegated to third place. Her acting is excellent throughout though, in one example there is a scene where she looks extremely nervous and hesitant in both her speech and body language, and you really feel for her character at that time. It comes across as completely realistic.

                                All the actors were superbly directed by Richard Fleischer, although with the quality of actors that he had he certainly had made his life easier, other works of his include Tora! Tora! Tora!, Fantastic Voyage and 20,000 leagues under the sea, He also made a film about the Boston Strangler but I have not had the opportunity to watch that.

                                As a side note, in the interview Richard Attenborough states that they filmed in the actual No 10 Rillington Place which was demolished the day after they stopped filming, IMDB however contradicts this by saying that they filmed in No 6. IMDB does not reveal the source of their information whereas Richard was a main character in the film so I tend to make him right. That must have been so surreal filming a movie about a serial killer in the very house that he did the murders. That itself is almost as creepy and frightening as the murders themselves.


                                A superb, disturbing movie that relies on superior acting and mood rather than on more modern hack and slash techniques. If you like crime/murder films and you have not seen this then it must go on your wish list.


                                © This review is entirely my own work and may have been cross posted elsewhere.


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                                  27.01.2009 01:08
                                  Very helpful



                                  a splendid occasional treat

                                  Muller as we have come to know it has been with us since 1980 when Muller Rice was first introduced over here. Now 28 years later (yes it has been that long) there are a ton of products in the range. The one I will be talking about here is Muller Fruit Corner Blueberry Yogurt..

                                  The pack is the standard Muller corner pack that we all know and recognise, it weighs in at 175gr which is a bit bigger than standard pack yogurts that you get on the shelf. The lid is an easy peel back to reveal the contents, and yes I DO lick the lid. I have never found a packet to be messy to open, they have always opened with ease.

                                  The smaller section contains the fruit which in this case is the Blueberries, which look strangely red and have a gelatinous, jam like look, the larger section contains the creamy yogurt.

                                  There are several combinations on how to eat one of these things, I normally either take about half a spoon of fruit, then dip into the yogurt then eat or I transfer the entire fruit section to the yogurty goodness and then stir in turning the yogurt a delicious marbley mixture of creamy yogurt and the fruit. On this occasion I went with the full mixture.

                                  The taste is moreish, the creamy yogurt swirls amount your mouth before the slight sharpness of the fruit kicks in with the occasional bite into a berry or two which bursts additional flavour into your mouth, it isn't long before the pot is empty unless you have immense will power and are able to resist scoffing it down.

                                  The packaging is fully recyclable although I tend to use the washed, empty packages to make herb ice cubes, which basically is this. When you purchase fresh herbs from the supermarket, 9 times out of 10 you will have a bunch left over, so chopping them up fine you can freeze then in water (an ice cube) and then drop them in the saucepan when cooking recipes.

                                  Muller states that there are No artificial colours, preservatives or sweeteners which is all good in the world of "E" numbers.

                                  Each pot is 175g

                                  Nutritional Values per 100gr
                                  Energy 440k 105 kcal
                                  Protein 3.8g
                                  Carbs 12.9
                                  Of which sugars 12.9g
                                  Fat 3.9
                                  Of which saturates 2.4g
                                  Fibre 0.4g
                                  Sodium 0.1g
                                  Calcium 125mg - Which is 27% rda (recommended daily allowance)

                                  Blueberries 13%
                                  Carob bean gum
                                  Guar gum
                                  Citric acid
                                  Also contains milk

                                  So there is a lot of sugar although I would imagine that it is mainly from the fruit, the calorie content seems a tad higher per 100gr than some standard yogurts, but as an occasional treat is perfect.

                                  Website is - http://www.muller.co.uk/

                                  © This review is entirely my own work but may have been cross posted elsewhere. MAY also be published under the name sjp1966 of Ciao


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