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**This site, as the name suggests, sells computer and console games for all the major platforms. I've only made a purchase here once only(at present), my experience as outlined below being based upon the purchase of a Gameboy Advance game in August 2003.** When it comes to shopping online my needs are simple. 1) Show me a good price. 2) Get the item to me yesterday, if not sooner. Rarely do the two mix. If you want it fast, you pay extortionate postage - if you want it cheap, it often arrives days later having passed through 18 different countries. Not so with this site! Not only did they stock the game I was looking for (which is more than can be said for many of their competitors), they also had it at the cheapest price (based on my personal searches and use of the Kelkoo and Pricerunner comparison shopping engines), with FREE delivery to UK addresses. I placed my order at 2pm, had shipping confirmed at a little after 3pm (yes, it shipped just a little over ONE HOUR after ordering) and the game arrived the very next day! Amazing. Other stuff you might care about: Packaging - not great. Item tossed in a Jiffy Bag which just about protected it probably more through luck than anything else. Spammy stuff - Nope. Not one single piece of correspondence since, no newsletters, no special offers etc. Wonderful. Range - Only as good as your needs right? If they stock just one single game and it's the one you want then they rock don't they?. If they stock 1 million games and not the one you're looking for then they suck right? They had what I was looking for when many others didn't so that's my personal benchmark... Prices - Generally very competitive indeed in my experience. Shop around if you've got time, come straight here if not - that's what I'll be doing when I've actually got time to play games... :o( Navigation etc - Erm, horses for courses. I find the site very easy to use, you might not. Is my credit card safe? - Dunno. They didn't steal all the money I haven't got so erm, yeah y'know...probably. Thassit. Any more questions go read one of the other reviews which aren't on here yet or go look at the site. Visit: http://www.gamesplanet.co.uk
If you?re like me and like the idea of James Bond but hate the cheesy execution with a passion then you?ll be interested in the new Vin Diesel movie xXx. Of course, if you like dumbass action movies then you?ll be interested in xXx as well because you don?t get much more action or much more dumbassed than this! With Arnie on the decline, Stallone becoming increasingly more laughable and the likes of Van Damne (thankfully) disappearing off the face of the planet the way has been swept clear for someone like Vin Diesel to take up the reigns as the king of the action genre and he appears to be grasping that particular fast-track to megastardom with some gusto. Not quite as pneumatic as the others, Vin is an action hero for the 21st century and xXx is the perfect foil for him - all action, bugger all feasibility. Diesel plays Xander Cage, or just plain ?X? to his friends, a point which is made several times in the movie and which is underlined by the camera zooming in on a large ?xXx? tattooed on the back of his neck - if ever I smelt a sequel, or perhaps a franchise wafting off of a movie then this is the one...or at least that?s what the producers of this movie are quite obviously hoping for. I?m not sure whether the 21st century needs an American James Bond style movie franchise but there you go - don?t be too surprised if you see at least 2 sequels. Anyway, X is an extreme sports enthusiast and general thrill-seeker who finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Numerous misdemeanours etc. land him with a lengthy term in gaol should the cops ever catch up with him - which they do...but fortunately for him, there is a way out. Xander is approached by M...sorry, Agent Gibbons(the seemingly omnipotent Samuel Jackson)...who after putting him through his paces offers him an escape route. In true Dirty Dozen style(if we?re going to borrow most of the typical Bond plot we might as well cannibalise some other movies too), the ?agency? has a mission which is truly dirty and tired of losing agents wants to throw a wolf in wolf?s clothing to some ravenous Russian wolves. ?Triple-X?, as he?s now been redubbed is to go undercover and find out just what some ex-army Russian terrorists led by Blofeld...sorry, the megalomaniac Yorgi(Marton Csokas) are up to, report back and get the hell out, not that anyone expects him to get to the ?getting out? part of course. En route he picks up with Bond -girl-gone-grunge Yelena(Asia Argento - daughter of Italian horror maestro Dario) whilst being aided and abetted by resident weapons expert Q...sorry ?Virg?. Yes, the comparisons to Bond movies are terribly obvious but (and this is either going to be seen as a good thing or a bad thing) it?s devoid of the suave, sophisticated and very ?charming? Mr. Bond and is replaced instead with a generic Hollywood action hero who delivers a few sharp one-liners. Personally, I?ll take this movie, you might prefer Bond. either way, you only watch this kind of movie for the action anyway and this has plenty of it. It?s the second time Vin Diesel has teamed up with director Rob Cohen, the last time being in the hit movie The Fast and the Furious, with which this has many comparisons. It?s fast, it?s loud in terms of both big stunts and it?s pumping soundtrack and whilst requiring you to leave your brain outside with your coat is guaranteed to entertain a typical action movie fan. xXx will live and die on it?s stunts and they are great - but dumb. Exhibit A, in the dumbness trial is ?the avalanche?. You need to start one - do you: A) Jump in a helicopter, set some explosive devises on a mountainside, jump back in again and set them off from a safe distance... B) Drop some grenades out of a plane, helicopter, etc. onto the mountainside, come back when the snow has settled... C) Strap on a snowboard, parachute out of a plane, drop the grenades on impact and then race down the slope as fast as possible whilst being chased down by both the avalanche and a bunch of machine gun toting, sled-riding enemy agents...the ones you are creating the avalanche to avoid? Hmm...if you guessed C then you?ve seen a few of these movies before...if you thought C sounded *plausible* then you are director Rob Cohen. You (no, not you Rob) might also be forgiven for questioning how a motorbike manages to jump over a building without some kind of ramp as well and a whole host of other questions may attempt to gnaw at the edge of consiousness, but it?s OK, because you?ll have read this review and safely stored your brain under your comfy chair so everything will be all right and you?ll swallow all of this and more. The stunts are spectacular, plenty of guns, plenty of explosions and all the usual trappings of the action movie genre set to an adrenaline pumping soundtrack so there is little to not like if you?ve liked similar movies. It?s a tried and tested formula - a little bit of plot, some action, a huge stunt, a bit of plot, some action, a huge stunt...and so on, it never fails despite what the critics will tell you every time a movie like this is released. It?d be nice if the exposition part could have had a little more brain behind it, but brainless has it?s place and this is it. You instinctively know what everything else is like here - the acting is dubious, the script equally iffy and the characters are more charicatures than real people but you also know whether you?ll care or not. Vin Diesel certainly has a commanding screen presence and he uses it here to good effect in the kind of role he is rapidly making his own with a distinctly American bravado, swagger and a bevy of typical action hero one-liners. It?s easy to believe Diesel is the adrenaline junkie ?X? to the point where you may even swallow some of the stunts...maybe. Samuel L. Jackson (who seems to get everywhere these days like some kind of welcome rash) appears briefly in an outrageous charicature of the James Bond ?M? figure but stealing Blofeld?s comic book scar to give you a character which wouldn't have been out of place in Dick Tracy Returns whilst Blofeld himself this time turns out to be a Russian terrorist played by Marton Csokas who does mad, bad and dangerous to know adequately enough but won?t be picking up more of the same kind of roles in future. Asia Argento was something of a revelation to me though, not because she was much cop, but because I didn?t know Dario had a daughter and I rather like grunge chic... In all, xXx does exactly what it sets out to do - entertain. I?ve seen it criticised for some dodgy CGI(the avalanche could have been better) and, unfairly I feel, for failing to inject any adrenaline into the action sequences as well as the usual ?it?s dumb? criticism from those who love stating the bloody obvious, but for the most part it?s pretty much guaranteed to thrill anyone who enjoys being thrilled by Bond movies or the kind of action movies Stallone, Schwarzennegar et. al. would be making now if they weren?t so old and crusty.
The Movie Sci-Fi movies have always been something of a mixed bag in my opinion. For every good one there are countless other bad ones...or should that be really bad ones. Fortunately, you have places like this to let people in on the good ones and this, dear reader, is a good one. The plot is simple and derivative but in terms of great ways to spend an evening in front of the goggle box, it provides all any fan of the sci-fi/action genre could wish for. We begin in space with a routine flight to the planet dubbed New Mecca. However, it is doomed to never get there as a meteor shower forces its crew of of hyper-sleep and into a crash-landing on the nearest planet, a desert planet burned constantly by the white heat of its three suns. Few survive and amongst those is a multiple murdered who was being transported to a prison planet in chains but who escaped in the confusion after the crash. There is no night here, just eternal day and no life whatsoever. Or is there? It's no secret to say that the crew soon find that day turns to night here once every 20 years and that murderer Riddick's(Vin Diesel) escape is the least of their worries because when it does, the beasties come out to feed...and guess what? It's soon going to be feeding time and the crew who imprisoned and were hunting Riddick are going to need to turn to his love of violent chaos to help them through the night... David Twohy takes a smallish budget here and manages to turn in a stonkingly entertaining movie. Yes, it's a little hokey, yes it borrows many ideas from other movies, most notably the Aliens franchise, but when it's this much fun who cares right? Pitch Black is fun and it is rather well made as well and was in many ways the springboard for Vin Diesel's continuing career as the new darling of the action movie genre. Here he is great, launching himself into the Arnie style role he has been given with gusto, delivering the occasional one -liner and generally looking mean and kicking butt. The rest are equally good, although they slip neatly into stereotypical quirky action movie style roles after the opening 30 minutes which are rather impressively written for this genre. As soon as the beasties show themselves you start picking out the victims and it's just a matter of waiting for when...or is it? Pitch Black has a few surprises up it's sleeve in this respect. Yes, you've got the same stereotypes thrown into the cinematic mixing bowl but the result which pops out of the oven is something very different than what you'll be expecting I assure you. It's rare to see surprises in this kind of movie, Pitch Black gets brownie points for having them. In terms of special effects there are some absolutely gorgeous shots here of alien landscapes and outer space nebulae and all that jazz. Particularly impressive is the way in which the planet during daylight has been filmed through a kind of washed out lens(there's a term they use for it but I forget now!) which gives the whole of the opening section a white hot, scorched and very alien feel to it. It's a little off-putting at first(and you'd be forgiven for wondering if the colour saturation is on the blink lol) but once that initial discomfort disappears then it really draws you in. Good too are the creature effects, a mix of digital jiggery-pokery and puppeteering on the big dudes(which resemble a cross between a giant bat, the alien from Aliens and a hammerhead shark) and pure CG on the flocks of the creatures which circle around over head constantly. Cleverly, they've made sure you never really get to focus too long on most of the creatures and by making them flock together you can't anyway but it looks incredibly impressive! For sure there are some rather brainless moments and there comes a time when to push the story along the screenplay has someone go off and do something incredibly stupid but for the most part it's well written even if it does decend into cliche once the creature feature kicks in. Overall, it's a really entertaining movie, not one which offers much in the way of intellectual stimulation but makes perfect bubblegum for the eyes to chew over and is well worthy of a rental at least. Oh and if you do check it out, then it simply has to be on DVD because that's the only way you'll get the full alien effects of the daylight footage...I swear it didn't look as good in the cinema and undoubtedly won't look as good on VHS either. The DVD Well then, onto the Disc itself. Not bad, not great but yes umm, not bad lol. In terms of the picture and sound quality then yep. no problems. It's a new disc of a relatively major release so you'd expect nothing else really. Picture quality is sharp, grainless and free from damage. The colour hues are 'odd' and unsettling during the daylight shots...but that's how they're meant to be and the bleaching technique used to give the alien landscape its white hot effect really comes to lfe on the DVD, far better than if you've seen this on video or in the cinema. Oh yeah, it's an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 thingumy as well if you need to know such things. In terms of sound, you are given a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 so no complaints there either. I'd love to ramble on about the quality of the audio transfer further but I'm stuck with playing discs straight through my TV speakers here so I'll just say - 'tis good, I've not noticed anything 'wrong' with the audio so I've no complaints and no particular accolades to bestow upon it either. What else? Umm, well the menu isn't particularly intuitive but there aren't that many extras so you'll not care. At least it doesn't feel the need to blast you with a montage of all the good bits of the movie before you eve n get to the 'play movie' option. Personal bugbear, and it doesn't apply here so I'm happy. Extras So, onto the extras then...not as many as I would have liked but all the ones you'd probably expect. I would have liked some deleted scenes and some more info. on the making of the movie in terms of documentary footage for a start but you get what you're given and I've seen worse. Commentaries There are two commentaries on this disc, one from the director with stars Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser and the other from the director, producer and visual effects supervisor. I kinda think when they put two commentaries on a disc it's because someone didn't want to put the extra expense into making additional documentaries but there ya go. Are these worth listening to? Always, in my opinion, but no, they're not the most interesting or informative commentaries you've ever heard. Do count the number of times Vin Diesel says 'Loved this' or words matching closely in the first because it accounts for at least 50% of his contribution lol. To be fair, it sounds like they loved the movie erm, to the point where they get too into watching it at points and forget they're meant to be commenting! Hauser in particular is one you'll forget is even there by halfway. The other commentary is better though, focusing upon the technical aspects of the movie and explaining the motive behind some of the plot elements which helps explain a few things you'd have probably missed or not fully caught on to first time around. Webcast - Pitch Black rave events Apparently they organised various rave parties across the US shortly before this movie was released which were intended to 'immerse people into the Pitch Black experience'. Yes, that's right they unleashed a screaming host of ravenous bat creatures to tear apart a bunch of drugged up clubbers...oh no wait, no they dimmed the lights gave them fluorescent rods, unleashed the likes of Carl Cox and filmed them boogying down. I misunderstood what the Pitch Black experience was all about. :P Anyhoo, they did that which is a cool way to advertise if you ask me and then broadcast the events live across the web...and now you can watch them here. Personally, I can't really see the appeal of watching other people erm, 'raving' for 20-odd minutes but there ya go, it's here if you want it... Trailers Two promo trailers as always are provided on the disc. I can't see the point in having them as ever but they're here. Making Of Featurette Umm, very short and rather like an extended trailer. The one thing which really disappointed me about this DVD release was basically that they put so little effort into showing all the behind the scenes stuff. I kinda do like seeing how they created the creature effects, watching the puppets being built up from a block of clay or whatever and all that jazz. In sci-fi movies, particularly one packed with these kinds of effects, there is plenty of scope for this kind of intruiging extra but there is nothing like it on this release. There's a little here, but it's pretty much a whistlestop tour of the obvious aspects and very much like an extended trailer because most of the time is taken up by movie clips. Production Notes, Cast and Crew Bios The reading bits, for those who buy films for a good read. Actually, considering the rather sparse information given in the audio commentaries, the production notes are actually worth reading this time around. Cast and crew bios are the usual kind of thing, you're either interested or you're not, personally, well there's a few relative unknowns here so again, more interesting than usual. Overall To sum up then, the movie is a good one, definitely one of the bet ter sci-fi offerings of recent times and whilst not exactly particularly clever or groundbreaking it will offer a fair bit of entertainment and does have a certain amount of rewatchability...always good if you're buying it! The washed out imagery during the daylight scenes is very off-putting at first but you soon get used to it and really come to appreciate its purpose and the DVD provides the very best platform to see the technique at its best so if you are going to buy the movie, make sure you get it on DVD because the image quality is important here. In terms of extras, it's not great and probably makes this a 3.5 star offering but the movie itself raises to 4 stars. Buy, watch and enjoy...and don't turn out the light, you never know what might be lurking out there!
Never let it be said that Hollywood doesn't love a war. This particular easy money-spinner transports us back to Stalingrad during WWII...a period of history you'd have kinda thought Hollywood's head honchos just may have tired of milking by now but never cease to drag up again with increasingly underwhelming results IMHO. Anyhoo, this movie has absolutely no intention of looking at the broader perspective of the war but instead focuses upon a small band of (real and fictional) individuals and their personal involvement in the conflict. In some ways it works, in others...well erm, it bored my arse off to be perfectly honest but I've seen mostly positive reviews from other 'real' consumers so erm, each to their own I guess. ;o) The movie opens well, with scenes which are reminscent to the opening of Saving Private Ryan which I now suppose will be an obligatory inclusion in all movies of this type until something else comes along to emulate. New recruits are bundled into crude boats and sent across the river into Stalingrad whilst heavy shelling decimates the city and aircraft swoop down picking off the newbies with the greatest of ease. Those who try to jump ship and swim to safety are shot by their own officers as deserters, those who make it into the city have a one in two chance of actually getting handed a gun or of being sent into the conflict weaponless and being told to follow someone else around until they get shot and they can pick up their weapon! It's a tough and bloody opening and it is an undeniably impressive start whatever my opinion on the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, in my opinion it goes downhill fast from then onwards. Perhaps from when the 'storyline' kicks in lol. The centre of this story is the real life figure of Vassili Zaitsev(Jude Law), a whizz with a rifle who is recognised by political officer Danilov(Joseph Fiennes) as being a huge asset to the army and enlisted as a sniper. Rathe r than forcing their troops into the affray and keeping them in order with the threat of a bullet if they should offer up and kind of dissention Denilov proposes to Nikita Khrushchev(Bob Hoskins) that they should instead give the men something to aspire to, something to motivate them and turns Zaitsev into a folk hero by reporting daily upon the number of officers etc. he has picked off through the daily propaganda leaflet drops. Soon the ruined city is awash with snipers and the German army finds themselves locked down by fear, replacing officers several times a day because as soon as one appears in view he ends up with a sniper's bullet in his head. They bring in their own sniper hero Major Konig(Ed Harris) to pick off Zaitsev for a little of their own propaganda and it is the battle of wills between these two which the movie then focuses upon... ...well kind of focuses upon. You see, mainstream cinema being what it is, we also have to throw in a stupid love triangle which is handled with all the aplomb of a soap opera subplot. Denilov wants Tania(Rachel Weisz), one of the Russian's many female recruits but she wants Zaitsev and he wants her so Denilov decides to collapse Zaitsev's reputation in revenge and ugh, sorry, 'tis awful nonsense which apparently has nothing to do with the real historical facts, certainly isn't worthy of any screen time and even more certainly not worthy of me writing too much about. Suffice to say, it succeeds in being very naff and takes up far too much screen time. So, is Enemy At The Gates worth your viewing time? Umm, the battle scenes are excellent, the special effects are good and the opening 20-30 minutes bring the brutality of Communist Russia during wartime into really sharp focus but aside from that it's all rather mediocre. The casting I had something of a hard time with for starters. It was difficult to take it all that seriously when all the actors speak in rather plumby English ac cents(arguably better than crap Russian accents but still off-putting for me) and then you've got Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchev which I'm afraid made me giggle a little. Rachel Weisz is a constant thorn in the side of any serious movie seeing as she simply can not act and again proves it coming across as virtually the same character you saw in The Mummy but in a Russian army uniform. Hoskins just growls and shouts a lot(although does bear some resemblance to Khrushchev) whilst Jude Law does a reasonably good job of looking lost as you'd expect from a sheep farmer turned hero of the Russian army. Ed Harris on the other hand is absolutely magnificent as Major Konig but his the only really good performance of the lot of them. I found the poor casting was one contributing factor to me finding it very difficult to get into this movie, not aided by the very impersonal directorial style adopted here which refuses to let you get close to the characters, certainly not close enough to care about them. The real people in the conflict are kept at arms length and it is obvious the love triangle element was thrown in to give American audiences something to latch onto in view of this(reminded me rather unfortunately of the similar tripe in Pearl Harbor) but it's all too clumsy to work. Furthermore, the very nature of it's main theme scuttles any attempt to generate the kind of tension you'd expect from a movie about a cat and mouse game played out between two top snipers, as you know neither is actually going to shoot the other until sometime near the end, if at all, or the movie will be over! Safe in that knowledge Enemy At The Gates becomes little more than watching two men stumbling around amongst the rubble with a silly love triangle thrown it to add something else to it all. Not my idea of fun and I was bored by the 60 minute mark with another 65 to go... Sadly, this could have been a far more interesting movie if it had had the intelligence to explore some of its more interesting themes. We are given a taste of the importance and the power of propaganda during war time and a sniff at history(albeit inaccurate as you'd expect but who cares) but this is glossed over in favour of a cat and mouse game with 60 minutes of enforced and obvious padding and some silly interpersonal canoodlings. "The action is powerful, the drama intense" according to the back of my DVD casing...erm, I expect, and not for the first time, that Jonathan Ross, from whose pen the quote comes, watched an entirely different movie to me, or perhaps was commenting only on the first 20 minutes in which case I would entirely agree... Shame the rest is a bit pants though IMHO. ? DVD Features As much as I wasn't impressed by the film itself, the actual extras are pretty impressive, especially when you consider the movie wasn't exactly doing over-time at the box office! It's fair to say that Fox have really excelled themselves here...apart from one big gripe, but we'll get to that later. No, let's have it now: This DVD does not work fully on all players! I think that's quite important to point out. I have a Pioneer DV-454 (One of Amazon's top sellers at he time of purchase and on which has no problems playing any of my other DVDs) and neither of the behind the scenes featurettes work correctly as for some reason the background music is brought loudly into the foreground whilst the dialogue etc. is left as an inaudible background mumble. Bah! Apparently this isn't localised to this particular model because searching around the net I see that some Bush players have the same difficulties and there's probably more I'm yet to read about. Not a great start but anyway... The picture quality of the DVD transfer is pretty darn good to my untrained eye. Presented in its original cinematic 2.35:1 ratio you'l l find the transfer free from grain or other damage as you'd expect from a new movie and despite the purposeful washed out appearance of the images they are crisp and sharp throughout with perfect flesh tones and colour depth. No bleeding or edge sharpening here, it's a really excellent transfer. Picture quality is very good indeed whilst the sound quality appears to be good too. I say 'appears to be' because I'm without a particularly decent sound set-up here but there's nothing to provoke comment upon. You have the option of Dolby 5.1 or DTS or described action(someone describes the scene content as it happens) or plain English subtitles. The menu which you'll use to navigate around the extras is equally impressive. You get a computer generated depiction of the ruined Stalingrad seen from the first person perspective as if you yourself were the sniper. A cross hair floats around the screen targetting your options whilst a montage of war images from the movie rage overhead. It looks great but it does mean that accessing the various sections is delayed whilst it plays through some of the effects. Submenus are accessed with a brief computer generated movie played as if you are moving through the rubble to aim elsewhere and...oh if menu's can be great then this is a great one! The initial look, sound and feel of the DVD is then very good, very polished and can't be faulted. Shame about the ferk up with the extras but there you go... ? Extras ? Director's Commentary An interesting directory from Annaud alone, no additional cast and crew for conversational commentary as you usually get, where he explains some of the history and some of the reasoning/interesting points behind his movie. All delivered in a very dry, matter of fact style but he never takes pause for breath throughout the entire movie so there's plenty of information to soak up should you be interested. Annaud is apparently som ething of a history buff so there's a lot of history which gets poured out here which I found more interesting than his actual movie to be honest! I do like a little more joking around in my commentaries which makes them feel more like a friendly conversation over coffee as opposed to feeling like a lecture as this one occasionally does but it's a good, detailed commentary nonetheless. ? Documentary Parlez vous francais? Pathe news footage in French documenting the German assault on Stalingrad, showing battle plans, strategies and the assault itself with plenty of footage from the time. Umm, it also shows Khruschchev and what a striking resemblance Bob Hoskins has to him in this movie! It's an interesting history lesson again. ? Deleted Scenes It's always good to see DVDs including deleted scenes on their discs...even though their detractors always snottily comment on how "if they were any good they wouldn't have been deleted". No kidding? Anyhoo, there are nine of these here although it is never explained preceisely why it was decided they should be dropped from the movie. When you see a few of them though it is pretty obvious - they are undeniably awful in this case lol. Oh well, they are here and you can insert them into the movie if you sit there and hit the button when the star symbol appears. Personally, I saw the movie once and wasn't really interested in seeing it for the second time(well, third if you include watching the director's commentary) but others seem to love it so this option is here for them. ? Inside Enemy At The Gates / Through The Crosshairs The two behind the scenes featurettes I couldn't play. Both run for around 20 minutes and give you background info. to the movie. Erm, looking at the actual video(without sound) they both look like extended promo trailers but I'm sure there are a few pearls to be found in here if you can actually hear anyth ing but the music! ? Trailer Just that. I never will see the point of watching a promotional trailer to a movie you have already bought and watched but there you go...it's here for those who want it(if the anorak fits, wear it my dear :oP). ? Filmographies Move the menu crosshairs over the star and shoot to be given a flipbook of their past work and dates of release. Nothing more, nothing less than written filmographies for the stars. ? Film Posters As with the filmographies this is exactly what it says it is. A flipbook of posters for the movie from around the world. Interesting for a skim through but nothing more. ? Storyboards Another for a quick skim through. You get artists' scribbles on the left and the actual conceived and filmed scene shown on the right. There are only 14 scribble/scene match-ups but it's worth skimming through. Erm, apologies for skipping through the last 4 extras but there really isn't much to say about them. They are included for anoraky completeness which is good because I'm sure someone will be extremely interested in them but there really is nothing there which most people will be in the slightest bit interesting in dwelling upon. Me included. ? Overall Well, that pretty much sums up the disc. There are the usual scenes selection options, subtitles and suchlike but nothing else to get excited over. It is all extremely well presented and there are lots of extras here which is impressive as, like I said, it didn't exactly whoop up a storm at the movie theatres. Personally, the movie itself just didn't do it for me and considering the disc is known to have problems on some players, mine included, I can't possibly give it anything above a 3 star rating, despite the great presentation and above average extras. If you like the movie then consider the disc but be aware of the potential problem with the extra s.
OK so this was written for somewhere else but I'm bored so I thought I'd C&P to while away the time. :oP~ What are we up to now at dooyoo anyway? 200...300 perhaps of these Room 101 ops? lol Geesh, well you've got mine now. I haven't used Speakers Corner for aaaaaages so I'm sure you'll forgive me. if not then bol...erm, never mind eh? ;o) First to go... No. 1 - Testicles What?! OK I have no problem with testicles, in fact, I'm rather fond of my own and realise that any banishment of such things to Room 101 may have somewhat dire consequences to the human race (only dogs would be able to hear men speak for a start) but I do have a complaint. The very nature of testicles shakes the very foundation of my beliefs. I'm an evolutionist. I'm quite happy to believe that giraffes have long necks because over time they evolved that way to reach the more succulent buds at the top of trees or that tigers developed stripes for camouflage and baboons grew big red arses to amuse the rest of the animal kingdom. It works for me. Testicles, just don't fit. No one can convince me that after thousands of years of evolution, the strongest of the strong had the most sensitive part of their anatomy dangling between their legs just begging to be kicked, punched, sat on, caught in a zipper etc.! What's with that!? Surely there's somewhere more CONVENIENT for them?? Like erm, 'inside' where they tend to run if kicked, punched, sat on etc. anyway! (incidentally I thought I had seen evolution in action once until I realised it was a guy with a bad case of piles). Testicles simply do not fit in with my theory of life, the world and everything. Indeed, they threaten to shake me from my anti-creationist apple tree and convince me of the existence of a God...one who likes tea-bagging. No. 2 - Handbags How come men get away with pockets whilst women need to carry the entire contents of an upper drawer around with them? And why does this bag increase in size as the bearer increases in age? It starts off as a purse, progresses to a shopping bag and culminates in something so large it needs wheels and they have to push it along! OK so I don't really care about handbags either, what I care about is this: Why does the guy always end up carrying it and looking like a complete pillock because his other 'arf has stuffed it with so much shite over the years it now becomes impossible for her to carry for more than five minutes?! I've seen inside these bags. It's like the bastard love child of the Tardis and a skip! Purses, tissues, pads, umbrellas, more bags(!), 2lb of pennies lurking around the bottom, mace, make-up, perfume, spare pair of tights...Lord Lucan, Shergar, the Marie Celeste... Geeeeeez. Sort it out ladies huh? If my evolutionary theories are indeed correct and I am missing the glorious ingenuity of having testicles dangling in the most inconvenient of places then I would expect women to grow marsupial style pouches by the year 3001 if this practice isn't curbed immediately. ;o) Does anyone remember the "male handbag" that style gurus tried to convince us was a great fashion accessory not so long ago by the way? They didn't catch on because we didn't see the point in carrying two... No. 3 - Shopping Trolleys (trollies? why doesn't that look right?) Trolleys(trollies?) are a menace. There is nothing pleasurable about shopping in a supermarket and I put the blame all down to the invention of the shopping trolley. It's hardly rocket science but I do believe I am yet to come across a shopping trolley which you could actually push in a straight line. They're not designed that way. Shopping trollies are designed to turn to the right. So convinced am I of this fact that I am certain one day someone will open a chain of c ircular supermarkets consisting not of aisles but of circular rings of shelving and make a killing. That way, you can just push the trolley and around it would go, turning right all the time, hugging the shelves rather than driving through them, making shopping that much more pleasurable. Great! I would shop there. They also have this innate love affair with human ankles. Particularly mine. Forget about missile guidance technology, our scientists should investigate just how this works and harness that power instead. It would be far more accurate and effective than all this silicon wizardry. If we'd unleashed self-propelled motorised trollies into the Iraqi desert and waited a week then all it would have meant is mooching around picking up the crippled, ankle-less survivors without any of the current fuss. Worst of all, some fool added a seat at the back so sometimes trollies also come with a snotty, screaming kid attached. Not only does this thing aim at shelving, make a bee-line for yer ankles and generally make shopping hell, but it also screams like a banshee too. No. 4 - Kilroy I hate this smug, smarmy, patronising shite with a passion. I also hate how I never quite manage to reach the remote before he has delivered his smug, smarmy, patronising daily question and pissed me right orf in the morning. Does anyone watch this...this...thing? Can anyone justify giving 'it' a daily platform to dribble out pseudo-intellectual pants to the hard of thinking in couch potato land? I have a theory with both Trisha and Kilroy. I think it's a thinly veiled governmental conspiracy to drive all those people who over-slept, are skiving off etc. to get their arse out of the door rather than to face a day of such TV hell. You've over-slept, you were going to take the day off so just after 9 you switch on ITV and see Trisha's buck-toothed mug, you then turn over and get Kilroy's spiel...and ten minutes l ater you're on the way to work. It must do wonders for the economy. If this holier-than-thou abomination were struck by an express train I would I be first in the queue to buy the inevitably top selling CCTV footage of the event - on DVD for extra replay value. (there's a packet of Werther's Originals in it for anyone who can arrange this btw). No. 5 - Forms Forms are the demonic creation of idiots for the consumption of geniuses. There is no other way to explain the things. I swear you need a Phd in form-filling to complete some of the things and I swear you only need this Phd because the people creating them are idiots. I have a 28 page form sat beside me(it's been there for over two weeks lol) with a 48 page accompanying booklet explaining how to complete it. If you write over the line it will be returned. If you tick a box instead of putting an X it will be returned. If you scribble something out, it will be returned. If you don't use black ink it will be returned...good fecking grief! Why? Of course, I could always access an online version and have it crash on me halfway through. What is it with forms? Why do they ask for a client ID and then require you to fill out 20 pages of information they ALREADY have on file associated with that client ID which was the whole point of assigning you one in the first place!? Why do they demand you only write in the space provided and then make that space so small it becomes physically impossible to do so? Dare to deviate from the set structure of a form (which I find rarely ever fully applies to me anyway) and the person on the receiving end is lost. Probably because they have a computerised form to fill in which is equally as unforgiving. Ugh! I hate forms. And they're getting longer too. I bet it's something to do with Europe isn't it. Le form. Eine form. Bloody things. (I'm having spiders too. And old people in car s. And kids in pubs. And militant anti-everythings) Cheers. ;o)
"The Robe" is one of the classic movies from yesteryear. It's one of those lavish, sermonising, somewhat naive biblical epics which simply wouldn't work in modern cinema but makes for highly entertaining Sunday afternoon viewing whatever your religious persuasion in modern times. I saw The Robe recently for the first time and aside from the odd chuckle and frequent eye-rolling(because I am a cynical heathen) thoroughly enjoyed it as many have before me. Somewhat lesser known however(to me anyway :P) is its sequel, "Demetrius And The Gladiators", which follows on directly from the events which conclude "The Robe" but this time focuses entirely on the Greek slave Demetrius(Victor Mature). In a nutshell, we pick up with roman emperor Caligula's(Jay Robinson) continuing searching for the robe(as worn by Jesus when he was crucified) which he now sees as being the source of Christian insurrection and as having the power to raise the dead. The robe is now in the possession of the Christians, under the protection of the freed Greek slave Demetrius who would lay down his life for its protection. We follow Demetrius as this desire to keep the robe safe leads to his capture and to his enforced gladiator duties (an unfortunate position as a Christian who refuses to fight) after he catches the eye of labidinous senator's wife Messalina(Susan Hayward) and later to his position as her concubine(or whatever the word is!) as he struggles with his Christian faith under the pressure of circumstance in ancient Rome. Where to start... I enjoyed The Robe. Some of the more 'religious moments' (as I'm too lazy to think of a better term) were somewhat clumsy and grating to a confirmed cynic such as myself but it was an entertaining movie with lots of good ideas. In much the same way Demetrius and the Gladiators is entertaining in parts as well but also feels very much like a bid to cash in on the success of its fore-runner without much thought going into its own plot which somewhat spoils things. The idea of following Demetrius throughout the sequel is a sound one and the idea of him being forced into gladiatorial duties is again an interesting one, especially since we are told Christians won't fight. It should have been intruiging to watch how a gladiator would manage to survive without fighting(or at least without killing...and yes I know most gladiators weren't killed anyway before anyone points that out) and it should have been even more interesting to see how a Christian resolved the issue of his faith through the events that unfold. I can feel ideas flowing already, I'm sure anyone reading this can put 5 minutes thought into it and see the possibilities are endless. This movie however explores two paths. Boy has girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again - and - boy has faith, boy loses faith, boy gets faith back again. It's not an awful lot more complicated than that but it's still handled with the utmost naivety. Perhaps it's more to do with the times but just when you think the movie may actually explore an interesting path it is snatched back again almost as if the idea of touching upon anything remotely controversial might be too much for the viewer to stand...or, as is more likely, too much for the censorship boards of the time to stand. In many ways I was and still am highly confused by the message the movie was actually trying to portray. The Robe is undeniably an extended sermon, Demetrius And The Gladiators plays more like a giggle at the stupidity and hypocracy of all involved...which I can't help thinking is an entirely accidental consequence of a slapped together plot and the utter naivity of all involved. Christians won't fight we are told, yet Christians as portrayed by Demetrius do nothing BUT fight and exact bloody revenge wherever and whenever possible and as soon as something hap pens Demetrius doesn't like then he's off killing, renouncing God and shacking up with a Senator's wife and more! Having seen Demetrius drop his God in the blink of an eye, other gladiators decide being Christian is a great thing because his faith is so strong(huh?). People are willing to die and watch others die for a robe which is nothing more than a worthless symbol one moment and in the next are being told to hand it over without a fight. Peter in fact uses the robe as little more than a tool to con Demetrius back into Christianity and is willing to watch others die to achieve these ends! And so it goes on. The whole movie hinges upon Demetrius' somewhat pendulous faith which in turn seems wholly reliant upon whether God looks after those he loves and how often Peter can pop up and play games involving smoke and mirrors. Anyway, jumbled messages or not you still get the desired garish spectacle of ancient Rome and the blood, sweat and ceremony of the arena which is pretty much all I personally wanted from any movie of this type. Gimme blood, sex and steel and I'm a happy bunny lol. Naturally this isn't up there with the likes of Gladiator or Spartacus, Ben Hur or Barabbas to at least give the movie a chance with its contemporaries but there are the odd moments when you do feel you are getting the required bang for your buck. The moments in the actual arena are quite few and far between and the combat very lacklustre and highly orchestrated for the most part but there are a few saving graces including Demetrius facing down 5 tigers in one scene...even if they do seem to be five very friendly tigers lol. These moments and the fautless sets are most of what sells the movie. You rent or buy something like this and you expect large, garishly decorous backdrops and sumptuous costumery that's exactly what you get. I have no complaints there and neither will you. As a spectacle it's faultless as most of the time were and indeed is a step up from its predecessor with much more in the way of real backdrops and far less calling in the painters...if you know what I mean. Demetrius & The Gladiators also presents an extremely fun cast including Victor Mature as Demetrius who I always find amusing on screen if only because his expression seems to change even less than Arnie's and because that one expression is more than a little reminiscent of a constipated camel. It would be easy to rip his performance apart as it erm, always is so I won't bother, seen him once, seen him a thousand times if you ask me. Jay Robinson, on the other hand, steals the show once more as a truly repugnant Caligula; complete with squealing, nasal whine he really does come across as quite depraved and it's a shame he's not on screen more often. So to with Susan Hayward as the morally bankrupt senator's wife Messalina who is at the centre of the movie's most (unintentionally perhaps) amusing moments as her overt sexuality bubbles over in a role she obviously relishes. I don't doubt the censors at the time hated every last labidinous word she drawls and some of the thinly veiled exchanges of words between her and the likes of Caligula must have tried their patience no end lol. Of course in todays more in-yer-face times it all comes across as very camp and highly amusing but it adds enormous entertainment value. Also along for the ride is Ernest Borgnine as the head of the gladiator school, Barry Jones as Claudius(Messalina's husband), William Marshall, Anne Bancroft, Debra Paget(who squarks alot) and Michael Rennie as Peter so you can see the strength in depth the cast has. Fox certainly spared no expense with this production and despite my never having heard of it aside from the trailer at the begining of The Robe on DVD, it appears it raked in the big bucks at the time and it's fair to say, still looks good today. Does it still cut the mustard...yes and no. It certainly lives up to its promise as being a gladiator movie seeing as much of it takes place 'behind the scenes' of the arena as it were as opposed to just showing the battles themselves but the action does feel muted. You can't fault the cast and the production(as a time piece), nor will you fail to be entertained by the campy nature of the censor-dodging innuendo, leering and drooling from some of the more depraved characters. However, in terms of the central religious themes it comes across as somewhat twisted and confused and in many ways I can't help but feeling it would have been a far better movie without trying to pull in these concepts as well. Overall, good Sunday afternoon viewing, much like its predecessor but nothing to shout about. Oh yes, the DVD...nothing exciting, just trailers and the picture is pretty grainy...but then, the film is almost 50 years old so whaddya expect? Flippin' miserable cover though and you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a B&W flick if you were just browsing the shelves and saw it...which it isn't.
You probably aren't quite so much as an ignoramus as I am and already know the basic premise behind Ulysses' adventures. Those who don't well, if you're in the slightest bit interested in watching the movie then you'd be better off not knowing as I find there really isn't much more to these kinds of old mythological adventure movies other than watching the quirky events unfold. Skip the next (highly uninformative actually lol) paragraph if you don't want to know about any of the shennigans. The movie begins after the fall of Troy, the Greeks are victorious and Ulysses is on his way home to his wife and child with all the treasure the sacking of a city provides. Neptune however, favours the Romans and sets into place a serious of events which cause the voyage to take ten years. Ulysses and his men encounter the one-eye giant Polyphemus, he is bewitched by Circe and his men turned to pigs, they brave the death songs of the sirens and have a chinwag with dead blokes and so on as they journey home. During this time others have moved into his palace and are demanding his wife choose one of them as her husband's successor. Will Ulysses ever make it back home and will he have a kingdom to return to? Erm, that's it in a nutshell. Basically, the chances are if you enjoyed any of the Sinbad movies or Jason And The Argonauts then you'll enjoy this. It doesn't quite match those for a couple of reasons but it is still all good, clean entertaining stuff. In the lead role of Ulysses you've got Kirk Douglas, who hams it up nicely, alternating from kind and noble leader to devil-may-care searcher-outerer (grin) of adventure wherever it may lie and regardless of whoever may end up dead or injured as a result. Ulysses goes through a number of adventures, each bringing out a completely different side of his character, it's like watching different people each time....different, very 'hammy' people, but Kirk p ulls the role off nicely. Anthony Quinn gets to chew the scenery as Penelope's(Ulysses' wife played by *mumble-mumble *...OK some Italian actress I've never heard of) main suitor as well. To be fair all he's asked to do is puff out his chest and speak boomingly but I guess he does it well in those few brief scenes he is afforded wgilst the rest are erm, 'the rest' as is often the way of things. Yes, it's cheesy and it's also cheesy whilst being dubbed from the original Italian as well but it's great Sunday afternoon viewing. You've got your heroism, your rescuing of damsels in distress, magic and mystery, sword fights, wrestling and the odd (amusing) piece of dated special effects jiggery-pokery with a fair amount of humour (both intended and otherwise) thrown in to boot. There's plenty of action but without the blood and gore of modern day movies, nor the foul language etc. which makes it great for kids and adults too. Oh there's plenty of implied violence (someone gets eaten, blinded, a room full of people are spiked, speared, stabbed and mauled...y'know, kids stuff :P) but it's all completely bloodless or occurs off screen. Ulysses is not a movie which ranks up there with the best in its genre but it is good fun. You'll either forgive it for being dated and dubbed or you won't, personally I found the dubbing distracting only during the dull moments and during one crowd scene where the voices get mixed and lag behind to the point where some guy ends up shouting something with a woman's voice... The action isn't non-stop and at least one 'adventure' came across as a non-event for me but other than that, good fun and recommended. In terms of the DVD, I have a R1 from WinStar and it's not worth bothering with other than for your usual reasons for buying DVDs as opposed to VHS. Y'know the ones - it looks nice and shiny, it takes up less space than a VHS copy, it'll last longer and if you get bored with it then you can always use it as a coffee mat or shove it in the microwave for a lightshow but other than that, go for the VHS version unless you want to watch it over and over. The disc includes filmographies for Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn, scene access, production credits and three soundtracks - Spanish, Italian and English but that's it. I don't think they tarted up the picture or sound at all either but then I guess there's not an awful lot of demand for Ulysses as opposed to the likes of some of the other oldies which get the Criterion treatment...and a price tag to match. The bottom line: Ideal Sunday afternoon viewing for all ages, nothing special in terms of DVD release, get it if you haven't seen it and want something along the same lines as Jason And The Argonauts or the Sinbad movies. You might even learn something about Greco-Roman myths as well...like if you meet up with some bird called Circe then you're in for six months of nookie and will forget your name and...OK *you* might learn something, I'll just remain that ignoramus who thinks Zeus is a nightclub full of jailbait in Chelmsford and Polyphemus can be cured with a strong dose of Penicillin. Enjoy... I'm off to watch The Black Pirate now so expect another lazy churny review of something else you have no intention of buying coming to a buggy green, peach and white page some time soon... :oP~ (all bizarre punctionation, page breaks and other formatting wierdness are entirely the fault of this schtoopid site, all spelling mistakes, shite grammar etc. are all mine, mine, mine and I wear them with pride. Thankyou.)
A man chases a white haired girl onto a railway track before being run down. The post-mortem look of horror on his face portrays a horror far more extreme than simply being hit by a train...and then there's the matter of the perimortem bleeding from his ears and eyes. The girl is never found and no one else remembers seeing her. A German exchange student goes nuts and is dragged raving into a police station to cool off, his eyes are bleeding and a little later he is dead. Cause of death...unknown. A little later his girlfriend too is found dead in the bath having seemingly bled to death but no visible wounds and the look of horror on her face betrays otherwise. So starts Feardotcom. What do these three and those which follow have in common? The internet. We soon find the link between them all is a voyeur site called "fear.com" which allows its subscribers to tune in to watch the slow torture and murder of kidnapped victims at the hands of a sadistic doctor who both delights and is an expert in inflicting pain. It's the ultimate extension of fly-on-the-wall voyeurism but how is this liked to the apparent psychosis and ultimate bloody death of those who tune in? Who is the girl who seems to haunt their visions before hand and how can it all be stopped when the owner of the site and perpetrator of these kidnappings and murders has evaded capture for so long...? Such are the very beginnings of the questions posed to the pair who find themselves inexorably drawn to the case and naturally they can't resist the temptation to visit the site themselves despite their better judgement and are drawn inexorably into the insanity which will eventually lead to their deaths unless they can crack the mystery. Sometimes it's impossible to know where to begin with a review. I kinda liked this movie, but at the same time it's fair to say that its screenplay is such a horrendous mess and the visual s so nightmarish that I can imagine a fair number of people walking out of the cinema in revulsion or not getting any further than half an hour into the DVD! It's also fair to say that at the last time of checking it was ranked at #70 in the Internet Movie Database's bottom 100 of all time based on user votes and had no positive reviews at the meta-critic site rottentomatoes.com so erm, you'll probably want to ignore me and anything else I might say here and just avoid it. Anyhoo, for those still interested, it's a horror movie and one which borrows liberally from one of my all time favourites, the very creepy Japanese movie "Ringu" in many respects. In that movie, watchers of a cursed videotape full of nightmarish imagery would die within a certain amount of time unless they broke the curse. The makers of Feardotcom are obviously fans too(and sneakily rushed their movie out in front of the Hollywood remake of Ringu in the States) as their movie follows upon very similar lines indeed, this time though upping the technological stakes by drawing the web into the mix. Internet based thrillers aren't exactly a new thing but I rather liked the way this one utilised the idea. If the plot outline I've given sounded a little confused then I'm sorry, the screenplay is one of the worst I've seen for a while...it really is a chaotic mess. It seems the writers had some great ideas, but lacked the artistry to actually craft a decent story around them so to get from one idea to the next they either just leap there with no explanation as to how we reached this point or cause our characters to take the most illogical (and outlandishly correct) guesses as to where the whole thing is going. For instance, a German exchange student and his girlfriend die with blood pouring out of various orifices and a look of terror on their faces. A video diaries they made the day before shows them cavorting around for 8 hours...oh and goi ng online for 20 seconds...conclusion? Well naturally it means that they must have visited an internet site which kills them 48 hours later by building upon their deepest psychological fears apparently!! Err, yeah, obviously eh? Don't think that's an isolated incident either because it continues in the same vein throughout. This also gives rise to some of the dumbest horror clichés being recycled again, right down to the "whatever you do, don't go down into the basement"(this time, "don't log in to the website") scenario which is used not once, not twice but THREE times! Arghhh! And on the subject of recycling, if you've seen Ringu then you'll notice the similarities between this movie and that one and second guess everything to come 10 minutes before each supposedly 'twist' event is going to happen as well. On the other hand, the acting is fairly good for a horror flick and it's nice to see one which isn't populated by scream queen teens with push-up bras and $10,000 smiles for a change although it's fair to say the characterisation is virtually non-existent. We have a detective bloke(Steven Dorff) and a health inspector bird(Natascha McElhone) investigating, that's about as deep into their shoes as we get and a sadistic doctor who is erm, a 'sadist' and that's as far as we get with him too! The doctor particularly is a completely wasted opportunity because aside from delivering a few twisted speeches and quoting Stalin he is pretty non-existent throughout...he is also a totally unconvincing psychopath coming across more like a nutty professor so perhaps this was a good thing. I spent a lot of this movie mourning wasted opportunities because with a little tidying up of the screenplay and a bit of direction given to the cast it could have been so much better because there ARE some things to really like about it...if you are a fan of horror movies and have found all the rec ent offerings to be a bit pants. The bottom line for those who DO NOT like horror movies or know they probably won't appreciate or give a flying toss about some of the clever imagery used throughout is that Feardotcom a nasty little gory mess and you're unlikely to find anything at all to like about it, give it one star and avoid it like 99% of movie critics seem to be suggesting you do...if it ever gets released here of course...I've still yet to see it on anything other than Region 1 DVD. ..and for those still here, I'll assume you do like horror movies and might find something to like about the movie. I've criticised all that's wrong with Feardotcom, which amounts to most of it to be fair but fans of the macabre amongst you will find some enjoyment from the twisted imagery you have thrown up before you. Feardotcom is a dire movie for the general cinema-goer who will be expecting a plot, will be expecting it to add up, will be expecting far less logical holes and contrivances, will be expecting dialogue which isn't so lame and will be shocked by gratuitous scenes of torture and murder depicted on the website(truth be told it's more hinted at than seen but ain't that always worse?). On the other hand, the rest of you will no doubt revel in the kind of imagery other horror movies promise and never serve up. It always amazes me the number of people who go to watch horror movies, find they aren't shocked, scared or repulsed but then complain again when one comes along which actually is repulsive, gory and all the rest of it! Feardotcom actually delivers on its promises which oddly seems to be one of the major complaints about the movie. Apparently it's sick and nasty but erm, what do you expect from a horror film? Maybe it's because the whole genre has been hijacked by teen screamers and the numerous slasher movies we've been miserable assaulted with since Scream inexplicably revived the m that no one expects anything other than pantomime gore and cats jumping out of cupboards? Who knows. Visually, Feardotcom is one of the most impressive movies, particularly in this genre, that I've seen for a long time and if you allow yourself to be drawn in, it's also very creepy indeed...and in some ways very clever despite the chaotic screenplay. Feardotcom crafts its own nightmarish reality(kinda like David Fincher gets applauded for but no one else is allowed to do without a slating :oP), with a US city turned into a damp, brooding mass of seething decay and perpetual rain and darkness which fades into monochrome as the movie progresses. The encounters with the website give you searing millisecond flashes of squirming victims awaiting a living autopsy, wickedly sharp blades, darkened doorways, mutilated faces and sickly grey flesh with a temptress voice inviting you to delve deeper before showing you the voyeur's horrified reaction as a fatal dose of negative energy is transferred and the (off-screen) images intensify in horror. It is super effective without showing too much. Whatever your feelings on the movie, it is also conceptually ingenious(the execution is debatable but worked for me) in the way the website is shown to expand its focus as the movie progresses to blend with perceived reality as our protagonists fall under its 'curse' and slip into an unreality populated by their own fears which will eventually kill them. Towards the final 20 minutes you'll start to notice something very subtle has been happening throughout the movie since out investigators visited the site themselves. The city is becoming the website for those who have seen its contents. The visuals always tended towards being bleak and washed out yet now it is becoming progressively more obvious as the macabre and bizarre become part of 'real' life for them and the site extends its focus to encompass all around wreathing everything in a mask of decay. The closing sequences themselves are pure genius visually, flawed in concept of course because nothing adds up in the slightest but it looks great and as nightmares crafted in reality go, this is one of the best recent depictions I've seen. On a platform of visual delight alone this movie kept me 'entertained'(for want of a better word ) from start to finish in spite of the horrendous short-comings elsewhere which let it down really badly. Generally, all the criticism this movie has received is well deserved but I do think many who criticised did so with any regard for the places the movie does excel in. Maybe this kind of thing is only acceptable when it is done extremely badly to the point where it becomes laughable as most horror movies are but not when it actually does horrify and repulse the viewer? It's certainly not a movie which will appeal to most, definitely deserves the 18 certificate it will surely get if it ever appears on these shores and probably deserves a 'guilty pleasure' tag for anyone who is more interested in submerging themselves in a freaky atmosphere and nightmarish visuals from the director who, to a lesser extent, brought you more of the same in the remake of The House On Haunted Hill. I liked it, fans of macabre horror movies will find much to like amongst the things to hate as well but everyone else is well advised to give it a miss. I think that sums up its appeal.
Greetings cheesy 80's B-movie nostalgia fans! Greetings also to all cheesy sword and sorcery action movie fans! Welcome to the DVD review of "The Sword and the Sorcerer" an "action packed adventure saga, filled with brutal battles, luscious maidens, savage monsters and MORE!"...so proclaims the box anyway. The "MORE!" in this instance by the way is a cheesy script, over-ambitious clunky plot, not-so-special effects and a lazy-cum-pointless DVD transfer(Anchor Bay sucks)...but don't let that put you off. As hack 'n' slash 80's B-movie adventures go this is one of the better ones. The Sword and the Sorcerer is probably not something most people out there will be rushing out to rent...or, as is more likely the case, *buy* seeing as it's now around 20 years old. I remembered seeing the first 15 minutes of this as a child before being hustled off to bed after the opening scenes of a blood soaked necromancer ripping out a witch's heart threw my mother into censorship mode...and then watching the rest upstairs and wishing I hadn?t afterwards. I?d pretty much forgotten all about it until Peter Jackson decided he would revive the whole fantasy genre(or at least to drag it out of nerdy bedrooms and thrust it onto the big screen again) and then cruelly leave huge gaps between film releases with few others daring to step up to fill the void! I doubt I'm alone in hunting around for more fantasy movies and I doubt I'm alone in noting the same names turning up time and again on top ten lists. "Krull", "Conan The Barbarian", "Willow" (there's no accounting for taste) and strangely, considering how few people seem to remember it when you mention it in conversation "The Sword and the Sorcerer" all pop up regularly. In many ways, this is little more than your typical attempt to cash in on the Dungeons & Dragons craze of the late 70's early 80's but wh ere others went for the simple 'show me the money' style of cinema, the makers of "The Sword and the Sorcerer" actually do make an attempt to put some effort into the production. You will no doubt notice a glut of dungeons and umm...well no dragons whatsoever(despite both trailers proclaiming otherwise!) as at least half of the action takes place in the depths of a castle but it?s all good fun so very forgivable. The first point in its favour is that the storyline is pretty complex for this kind of thing. Oh sure, it's also pretty clumsy too, you can be sure of that, as in order to bring it across to the viewer they intersect the first 20 minutes with an annoying narration, but it's a hell of a lot better than the majority of others which just lurched from one excuse for a punch up to another with nothing in between to say why. We are introduced to our villain 'Cromwell' early on when he enlists the aid of a sorceress to raise an ancient evil necromancer from his gory tomb. Cromwell wants the kingdom for his own and knows with the aid of the necromancer that his desires will surely be satisfied...but not without a price. Cromwell gets his wish by slaughtering the king and taking the kingdom as his own. Everything is dandy except the king's youngest son does a little slaying of his own using a mystical three bladed sword which shoots out two of the blades at opponents (we all wanted one as kids 'round my way lol) and escapes to become the stuff of legends amongst the peasants who expect him to return one day. Oh and the sorcerer decides he naturally wants more out of sacking a kingdom than just 'his life' and, as is the way of such things, pays for it with his death(again). Wouldn't you just know it though, the sorcerer isn't reeeally dead and when a small rebellious uprising begins against Cromwell's despotic rule guess who's there egging it along. Worse still for Cromwell, a mighty roving warrior wielding a funky three-bladed sword has ridden into town with his motley band of barbarians and is stirring up even more trouble after accepting the offer of one night of nookie with a beautiful princess if rescues her brother from Cromwell's dungeon... OK so it sounds cheesy on paper(and on a monitor screen) and doesn't get much better on the screen but it's a lot of fun. Much of its appeal probably comes from the fact that "The Sword and the Sorcerer" rarely takes itself too seriously so even when there are some really misjudged moments(and there are a few) it produces a smile but not a groan accompanied by muchos eye-rolling and reaching for the remote. It's naff in a fun, "Conan The Barbarian" kinda way as opposed to just plain naff in a "Red Sonja" way... The fight scenes are great as is the costume and even though you may get the feeling you are watching an adult, scuffed up version of TV's "Hercules: The Legendary Journies"(please bear in mind I kinda like watching that too and the Robin Hood one they show in the mornings sometimes so you may like to ignore my opinion of what's naff and what isn't!) with more blood and gore and gratuitous norks-a-plenty. Even though I'm not sure Dungeon's & Dragons fantasy heros can ever be described as swashbucklers, you can't shake the feeling that Lee Horsley certainly does buckle a good swash(or whatever) in some scenes in the greatest traditions of an Errol Flynn movie. All great fun. The script is forgivably silly and the casting not always that great but serviceable. There are no big names on show here, in fact, I couldn't remember seeing any of them before and had to go rooting around the IMDB for info. Just in case you were interested in the cast you've got Lee Horsley(famous for appearing in nothing else memorable whatsoever) gets to romp it up as a smart-arsed cross between Arnie and Errol Flynn as Prince Talon and does so well but you end up questioning his 'beefcake hero' status when he seems to get his butt kicked so often and spends half the movie in a dungeon! Richard Lynch plays Titus Cromwell who doesn't seem all that villainous apart from the fact that he is forcing the princess to marry him(heard that plotline before eh? lol), Simon MacCorkindale(Jaws 3D and now apparently in Casualty on the BBC??) is Prince Mikah, put there to be captured a lot and Kathleen Beller(Time Trackers) gets to play the typical defiant princess role... Notable names are thin on the ground, original characterisation even thinner. The bottom line, further waffling is futile because it can't be said any plainer than this, if you enjoyed the likes of "Conan The Barbarian", "Krull", "The Beastmaster" and the countless other fantasy movies released in and around the 80s then you'll probably like this as well. If not, then I doubt it's going to convert you to the genre. Simple as that. Oh yes and the DVD... Well, Anchor Bay gets their usually thumbs down from me for their DVD release of this movie. Having bought the DVD on a whim and sat through "The Sword and the Sorcerer" I can honestly say that, had I bought a copy on VHS instead, then I wouldn't have lost anything from the experience. There appears to be very little attempt having been made to clear up the picture, particularly in the opening few scenes where there is visible damage to the print and the blacks are horribly grainy. The picture quality does improve after the first 10 minutes or so although I probably just got used to it. Anyhoo, it looks like a straight transfer to DVD with little additional work done to improve an old print so thumbs down. In terms of the sound, you've got the choice of Dolby surround or Dolby stereo...which both sound pretty much the same to me but there you go. Still, I'm not sur e I could take the cheesy heroic music in surround sound anyway and at least there is some sign of effort there. No subtitles though, not even in English which is very lame and so it's thumbs down again. Then you've got a scene index comprising of 18 scenes, two trailers and a TV Spot(lasting 27 seconds...lol) and a selection of stills from the movie. That's all, nothing else. Not even a commentary and judging by the way these actors' careers have blossomed(hah!) I'm sure they would have turned up and said something about the movie if someone at Anchor Bay had slipped them a fiver. Ho hum. Oh and incidentally there?s not even the "Cast & Crew Filmographies/Biographies" that the box lists amongst the features list either. Hmm... Verdict: 3/5 for the movie. 1/5 for the DVD. 3/5 overall because I like the movie, just don't expect anything special from the DVD.
There are few (non-stoned) people in this world who could think the idea of a kangaroo stealing the mob's money before legging it into the Australian outback with a hairdresser and a slacker in not-so-hot pursuit sounds like the perfect foundation for a hit movie. Few people other than Jerry Bruckheimer that is! Just when you thought this guy couldn't plumb the depths of mediocrity any deeper than he already has then along comes another stinker. This time, he has almost made it into the IMDB's top 20 WORST movies of all time list...#21 and the only way is DOWN(or is that up?) from now on! What the hell was I thinking? Why the feck did I watch this?! Firstly, the name "Bruckheimer" attached to a movie should tell you it's going to be brainless but Bruckheimer making a movie starring a kangaroo, the local mob and one of Hollywood's most annoying bit-part sons could only be bloody awful. And bloody awful it is, heck it's almost insulting to think that someone out there honestly thought a cinema audience might enjoy this! No, I take it back...it *is* insulting and no, no cinema audience will enjoy this in case you were wondering. The ludicrous plot is basically that two bumbling fools lose the local mob a few million dollars and as punishment get sent to Australia with $50,000 in a brown envelope. Now I'd call that a "vacation" but anyway...they have to deliver it to 'some bloke' for 'some reason' but shock horror, they mess up again when a kangaroo steals it and legs it across country with the loot. Fortunately the 'roo is wearing a bright red jacket so is easy to spot and umm, they chase it. The end. You may have gathered that the plot is virtually non-existent and you may gather by the end of this review that this in itself is something of an ENORMOUS RELIEF. At least it's over quickly. Anyhoo, add the consistently fecking awful Anthony Anderson(who sounds like he has regressed to 5 years old, sucked down the contents of a helium balloon and been placed on fast-forward for the duration of this movie), Jerry O'Connell who hasn't given us a decent performance since Stand By Me and a constant barrage of amazingly misjudged jokes aimed at...well certainly not at kids...and you have the major part of what makes this movie stink. You can add a crap script, naff acting, bad CGI and Anthony Anderson once more as well if you like but I think the aforementioned three parts are enough to kill the movie for most readers. As an adult you'll hate this, as an adult with children you'll probably feel a little aggrieved at the bizarre lack of either judgement or film censory type sanitisation shown here, whilst as a kid, you'll wonder where the kangaroo is you saw in the trailers and you might laugh at the one fart gag if you're still awake by then. This *is* a kids movie but after the homophobic gags, sexual gags, drunken debauchery, racism for kicks, constant unveiled threats of violence ("He'll kill you in front of your mother and let her clean up the mess"..sweet dreams kiddies) you might want to sit them down in front of Monsters Inc. just one more time... One question above all others will spring to mind quite early on. No, not "I wonder what's showing in the screen next door...?" nor "Where's the goddamn exit!!!?" although both will no doubt cross your mind at some point as well, but quite simply this: "Where's the fecking kangaroo?!?!" You'll see gangsters, not kiddie gangsters but full on Godfather style gangsters(Christopher Walken doesn't tone down his tried and tested mob boss role for starters) and you'll see theft, violence and more morally dubious activity but no kangaroo. Another 30 minutes later(assuming you haven't left yet) you'll still be asking the same question and then wait...THERE! There he is!...There's Jack th e kangaroo! He's....oh he's dead because they ran over him and oh look, what fun...they're dressing up the corpse and posing with it for photos! Oh how you'll laugh! Erm yeah, OK, you might, no one else in the cinema did. Of course, Jack isn't really dead but springs back to life and legs it with the dosh allowing our 'heros' to run around the outback trying to put a bullet in his skull with a sniper rifle some 20 minutes later which is the next brief moment you'll see him. Oh...and then he's gone again. Now let me think about how this movie was advertised again...no, I could swear it was sold on the premise of being a fun romp across Oz with a funky kangaroo in shades having a major role? Maybe I'm confusing it with something else...Mad Max 4 perhaps...it certainly has little to do with this movie. Still it's a comedy right so lack of kangaroo or not the important question should be..."is it funny"? My favourite gag must be the one with the reference to the Australian baby who was snatched and killed by dingos...oh no wait, that's not funny. Someone in the scriptwriter's chair for Kangaroo Jack thinks it is though. How about when one of our heros grabs a female co-star's breasts turns to his partner and says "they...feel...real" for absolutely no apparent reason? Try it at home kiddies, g'wan! Why doesn't Disney have gags like that? Or perhaps my 'favourite' gag was the good old farting camel joke, or the playing with shit in the loo joke or the two guys in the cubicle gag, or the drunken, swearing Australian stereotypes or...or...oh what's the point, the poor examples are endless. In fact, the *poor examples* are all there are, I'm sorry to say I didn't laugh once. I did check my watch frequently though which is saying something when the movie runs for a piddling amount of time anyway. Perhaps they couldn't get much out of a kangaroo steal ing a packet of cash. Go figure eh? Geez... Frankly this movie sucks butt. 'nuff said I feel(yes the rest was waffle...you should know me by now). I would say Jerry Bruckheimer ought to be ashamed of himself but it's pretty much what you'd expect from him so I'll say Christopher Walken ought to be ashamed of himself instead because inexplicably he has a role here. I'll assume he has taken out a subscription to the Anthony Hopkins school of show-me-the-money film-making and is taking any old role he is offered to boost the retirement fund, either that or Bruckheimer is threatening to sell those incriminating polaroids of him out on a bender with Nick Nolte again... The bottom line is simple: Whoever you are, wherever you are - avoid Kangaroo Jack! Don't go see it. Don't rent it. Don't even borrow, steal, download, sneak in to see it after another movie or wait for it to come on TV in a few years time because it is 90 minutes of your life absolutely, totally, utterly and completely wasted! And should your kids get sucked in by the advertising and nag you to take them see it then ground them on some trumped up charge("you have weapons of mass destruction" seems a popular one) until it has left the cinema screens...or at least don't talk your dumb English friend into coming with you against his better judgement because he may never forgive you... ;o)
Umm, my excuse for watching this was erm, umm, no OK I admit it, I heard Alyssa Milano was in it and there was a fair amount of bare skin on display Well, may as well be honest about it eh? It's pretty much the only selling point behind the movie and surely the only reason New Line actually bothered to dig the movie up from the obscurity of their straight to video back catalogue and transfer it to DVD. Actually that wasn't the only reason because I was looking for something camp and vampyric for last weekend's viewing pleasure and it was either a choice of this or Razorblade Smile which I've yet to hear anything at all good about. Embrace Of The Vampire got the vote and would continue to every time because any movie with Spandau Ballet's Martin Kemp as a love-lorn vampire, Charmed's Alyssa Milano as a convent educated prissy girlie sliding towards becoming a vampire harlot and the likes of Jennifer Tilly getting in on the action someplace just sounded too bad to be true. Truth be told, it was bad, but really bad movies have their place in the entertainment world and sometimes they are a lot more entertaining than the good ones! Anyhoo, the plot is nothing much to speak of, in fact, it's one I'm sure you've seen at least 100 times before in B-movie flicks with befanged ones providing the entertainment. Yes it's the ''I've crossed oceans of time to be with you'' thang again ladies and germs, the ''charismatic bloodsucker running around harrassing some virgin or other again because she reminds him of his lost squeeze from hundreds of years ago'' plot, the...oh basically it's about a vampire who wants to get into Milano's frillies! Why these creatures take so long to actually get around to business is anyone's guess but they usually have some lame excuse or other. The excuse trotted out this time is that the virginal Milano must completely give her heart to the vampire and dump her long-suffering virginal boyfriend of 14 months(aka the blue-balls champion of the college campus) or else he can't properly have her as there's some unwritten vampire rule saying he can't just take her...or something! Apparently this has to be achieved within three days and she simply must remain virginal or our horny vampire in love is going to ''fall into the sleep of eternity''...that's erm, ''die'' to the rest of you non-vampires. In order to split the pair up our vampire visits their dreams to put doubt in their minds about their relationship and slavers over Milano during her dreams whilst slipping the notion into her head that she might like to be a little more promiscuous...giving the movie the opportunity to show her drifting from one near moment of nookie to another during her waking hours as she slowly transforms from convent girl to town bike. Not that this makes sense when you consider that 'the vampire'(he never is given a name and is credited at the end as ''Vampire'') needs her to remain pure but oh well! Anyhoo, the exciting premise you're meant to be hanging on to the edge of your seat over is whether the befanged Kemp will get to play hide the salami in three days time or whether Milano will have a headache and he'll had to roll over and go do that sleep of eternity thing... Did I mention it was naff? Still, maybe you're like me and see any movie which is really bad as actually being quite good...if you are, then you might like this. Truth be told, I love vampire flicks and I've seen an awful lot of them and amongst a rather naff genre packed with B-movie tripe this isn't all THAT bad. It's a three star vampire movie, whilst barely scraping a 2 star rating as a movie in general. Martin Kemp really doesn't make a very good vampire(American critics seem to think he's a low budget Nicholas Cage alternative lol) as he 39;s too soft spoken and commands very little screen presence. It's hardly a powerful performance and he hardly exudes that irrestible sexual lure our typically randy vampire is meant to but he does get to deliver the most hilariously lame monologues so there is a redeeming feature. You will laugh pretty much every time he opens his mouth. Milano on the other hand plays sweet and virginal well, although it's a little difficult to swallow the role when she seems to spend at least half the movie nekkid and by the halfway point has already posed for nude photography and had several moments of almost nookie(with both sexes). The rest are the rest, there to get bitten or shift the plot along...oh yes, Jennifer Tilly wanders in for about 5 minutes to play the husky voiced femme fatale role yet again in case you're interested, whilst the rest I've never seen or heard of, nor would expect to in the future. So, the acting is erm, 'of dubious quality' and the script matches it so in a vampire movie you're left with the blood, guts and gore count...which is very low. There's a few amusing shots of Kemp trying to bite students on the neck but you can see his false vampire teeth get in the way to the point where he can barely open his mouth wide enough to part them lol! More amusement comes later when he's to be found again licking a blood splattered door(please don't ask, I think it is meant to be erotic) whilst ignoring the sweet juicy throbbing jugular at his feet...makes you wonder how he managed to make it this far as a vampire as he seems pretty clueless! Oh let's face it, the movie seems to have been sold on the promise of seeing the bird who used to be in Who's The Boss (and later Charmed) in the buff, so add or subtract stars based upon the appeal of that premise to you. Embrace Of The Vampire tries to be an erotic vampire flick when it remembers to but for the most part it's all rather amusing with the few times it does attempt to turn up the heat being rather abortive and quickly closed off in order to ensure it's place on late night cable channels everywhere. Expect it on Channel 5 sometime soon, it's right up their Friday night alley. The DVD features on the R1 release are...non-existent(sorry, no clue about the R2 but I doubt it'll be any better, worse perhapsas they're rarely better). The picture quality is about as good as you are going to get from a straight to video release, a little grainy but the colour hues seem fine and it's passable if you don't expect too much. The sound is passable too, probably mildly better than a VHS copy but not much. You do get two versions of the movie here on the R1 release, one supposedly steamier than the other but to be fair there's nothing particularly steamy in either version so that's a bit of a marketing ploy from New Line which has little foundation in reality! No commentaries, no making of featurettes, no cut scenes etc. you've pretty much just got the film on a nice shiny disc as opposed to a chunky black video tape. I'm not even sure the R2 release has the two different versions for that matter. Would I recommend purchasing this? Nope. Borrow it from a friend, rent it if it's cheap enough but buy it? No. Not unless around 10-15 minutes of Milano's norks wrapped up in an amusingly derivative 80 minutes of vampire story is worth around £12.99 to you anyway. It's pretty much that other rather naff Alyssa Milano vehicle Poison Ivy 2 again but with some blood and fangs thrown in.
The Movie When I first saw Blade at the cinema I wasn't impressed. I'm not too keen on the idea of modernising the old vampire myths and you don't get much more modernising than a half-human/half-vampire 'daywalker' kicking Vampire butt in modern day America with martial arts skills and a variety of high-tech weaponry! Subsequent watches drew me in to what is basically a comic book action movie with loads of action, some supremely camp moments and of course Wesley Snipes on top form which you just have to like. Of course when I heard they were making a sequel I was first in the queue to see it - especially when I heard horror maestro Guillermo Del Toro was going to be the man behind the camera this time. I wasn't too keen on the idea of Whistler(who died supposedly) making a return, nor with the idea of Luke Goss(from 80's pop icons BROS) starring as Blade's most evil enemy yet, but none of that was going to put me off. I suppose I'm the wrong person to be reading a review from - fans aren't often the most reliable sources of information! Well, a number of years after the original came out the 'Daywalker' is back and this time faced with a new menace, one which threatens vampire and humans alike, indeed one which threatens to upset the whole world order! Something new is stalking the night, something which feeds on vampires as its main source of food, something tougher, faster, stronger and more relentlessly evil than a vampire could ever be and they're worried. Worried enough to approach their sworn enemy and vampire killer extraordinaire Blade and offer a bizarre union anyway. The vampires have a deal, join with a specially trained team of vampires known as the Bloodpack to kill these creatures before its is too late, or watch the world be overrun by them. Tough choice, made tougher by the fact that the Bloodpack have been in training for two years with for one purpose alone - t o kill Blade and they aren't too happy about working with him either! Still, together they are and the chase is on to find the ring-leader, the one who carries the new strain of vampirism which creates 'Reapers' before things really get out of hand... Well that's about as much of the plot as you are going to get from me, part of the fun was watching it all pan out so I'm not about to spoil it. One of the really impressive things about this movie was that it has been so overwritten, most unlike your usual slice of chop-socky action flick anyway. Under the direction of Del Toro Blade has returned more action-packed, bloodier, more violent and with a darker more horrific element to it. Whilst the original may have been action packed and a little campy, this one has a darker much more horrific edge to it and for me that adds more flavour to the proceedings. Blade 2 takes the horror aspect of the original and quite literally turns up the gas to an eye-bubbling level which makes up for the lack of it in the original. The Reapers are severely nasty creatures, Novak's look reminding me(undoubtedly on purpose) of the clothing worn by lepers and plague carriers of bygone years - his being the worst plague a being could ever carry. Reapers have the look of Max Shrek's Nosferatu, but a hideously diseased Nosferatu, with scuttling spiderlike movements to strike true horror into the hearts of the viewer. It'll probably be the first time you'll feel sorry for a vampire anyway when one of these beasties gets hold of them...the first time you see a reaper 'put the bite on' is a real feast for the eyes! In terms of acting you already know what to expect. If you've seen the original Blade then you'll know its Wesley Snipes show, this one being no different in some respects although its also very much Del Toro's too. As the ultra cool Blade he doesn't get to say much, but every word is measured to purvey too things - he the coolest dude on the block, and if you mess with him, you're going to end up regretting it. Aside from Snipes, ultra cool, ultra kinetic performance is the surprise inclusion of Luke Goss as Novak, the carrier of the Reaper virus. Surprisingly he does a good job as well, I wouldn't be the first to admit to being a little worried about seeing him here, but yes, he does do a good job. I wouldn't say it was Oscar winning but it is a good performance where his could easily have gone way over the top like others who have tried and failed to make the transition into action - especially in this genre. The Bloodpack themselves are mostly macho charicatures, highly under-developed other than those you know are going to survive a little longer than the others which is the only area where the movie falls down, but then its a common failing in action movies and I suppose the movie was long enough at 2 hours without spending more time developing the characters of vampires who were only there to look nasty and become Reaper fodder very quickly. Biggest disappointment was Kris Kristofferson returning from the dead as Whistler, because other than delivering a few cheesy one liners so that Snipes had even less to say and getting beaten up a lot his inclusion is more than a little pointless! He just seemed superfluous to the whole thing, but then perhaps he has a more important role to play in Blade 3 which is apparently already being written. There's good and bad in most movies and this one has more good than bad although of course its not going to be to everybody's taste. The action is not stop, fast kinetic and well choreographed and with Del Torro behind the camera not only is the horror aspect ramped up but so too the action and suspense. It does get a little cheesy at times and at one point near the end one of the battle sequences looked like something which the WWF would have been proud of! Apparently, they wanted to make each fight sequence different and I guess this one was to show Blade doing a little showboating so erm I guess it's forgivable. You're meant to be having fun anyway, not taking it seriously! If you forgive its shortcomings there is a damn good movie in here. In some ways you could liken it to Alien and Aliens in terms of ramping up the action and adding the 'bigger, better, faster, more' which all good sequels should have, in others you might find yourself put off by the step up in horror movie stylistics. If you liked the original, or want to see a movie which is certainly unique in its handling of subject matter then check this one out - Blade vs Blade 2...no contest! DVD Features Entertainment in Video have given us a stonkingly good DVD, or rather two DVDs, which are both superbly produced and jam packed full of excellent extras. Visuals are excellent, a superb 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer with crisp, clear, grainless images throughout and thankfully, considering the whole thing is filmed at night or in shady night-clubs, sewers etc., huge attention to detail has been paid to graduating the black palette to give the shadows a real depth. Sound too is excellent as we are given the choice of Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS ES 6.1 Surround Sound which makes full use of your speakers...of course you'll need the right hardware to fully appreciate it but if you have, then this is an excellent disc. Everyone else will appreciate the crispness and clarity of the sound if nothing else. What else? Well, the menu system is uncluttered and easily navigable. It gets straight into the menu rather than playing through a selection of cut scenes, or almost video game footage, as some others opt for which I personally find annoying. Subtitles are available as you'd expect, although they seem to be English only...not that that is going to matter to most reading this but it's worth noting...I guess. Umm, wel l that's about as informative as I get with the techie kinda stuff...lol. Extras As I said, Entertainment in Video have really excelled themselves in terms of extras...and they're not just junk thrown in to pad things out but they are really excellent and entertaining extras too! Commentaries Disc One carries the movie itself and two commentaries, one from director and producer, the other from the writer and the star himself Wesley Snipes. Both are incredibly informative and hugely entertaining as well. One of the things I particularly liked about both commentaries is that those involved with the movie are 100% enthusiastic about their creation but at the same time recognise the limitations and aren't afraid to share them, and explain what they meant to show but to have a giggle about it when it didn't really work out. One section looks very much like a video game and on the DVD, with it's enhanced picture, it actually looks worse than at the cinema when I first saw this and they fully admit this part really didn't work and explain why. A little later they laugh about some of the cheesy lines in the script...it's refreshing to see those involved in the creation of a movie not being so umm, tight-arsed about their creation! You'll also find an awful lot of things revealed which you'll have not have considered when watching the movie and it's amusing to hear how Del Toro et. al. basically lied through their butt half the time to the studio so they could inject the horror elements they wanted to and got away with it because most of it was shot unchecked in Czechoslovakia... Isolated Score Also on the first disc you'll find you can watch the entire movie with just the score running through it. Umm, why you'd want this is anyone's guess of course and they've cut out all the pumping techno during the fight sequences so even less reason to c are. Still, someone might and it's nice to have it on here for that one person...lol. Deleted/Alternate Scenes + Commentary Onto the second disc now. Introduced by Del Toro as being "mostly crap", but actually very entertaining, you'll find the deleted/alternate scenes and as they've included even the most minor of cuts in here you'll find it all pretty comprehensive stuff once more. You can choose to watch them with commentary or without commentary, by selection or all played through at once...the only thing you can't do is add them into the movie and watch it with them added. Umm, not really a problem because they're often quite dire - some very cheesy scripting, an incredibly lame flashback to Blade as a weedy teenager, a vampire lord baring a terrifying resemblance to Michael Bolton...and a cum splattered peepshow window which, umm 'surprisingly' was picked up upon by viewers at a test screening and replaced by a plain window in the movie...all of that and much more here. I love this kind of thing and there's around 20-something minutes of it here. Production Workshop A whole heap of documentary footage, interviews with cast and crew, loads of special effects and animatronics info.(very cool indeed!), behind the scenes footage, outtakes, B-footage and so on split up between several documentaries and sub-documentaries("The Blood Pact", "Sequence Breakdowns", "Visual Effects"). Far too much to talk about without boring your butt off(even more than already) just consider that if there is anything at all you wanted to know about this movie or how it was made then you'll probably find it in here! There's at least 3 hours of supplementary footage here, probably more... Video Game Survival Guide Erm, a trailer for the console game...which incidentally, isn't very good. Music Video C ypress Hill/Roni Size music video "Child Of The Wild West" - basically the usual rap video kinda thing cut with scenes from the movie. Was this on the movie soundtrack? I didn't notice... lol. Theatrical Press Kit The usual kind of thing, reasonably comprehensive actor and crew bios alongside some production notes. Great if you like reading through them, which I generally do...but only on rainy days when I've nothing else to do. I've had a skim through and they're relatively informative, if not exactly earth shatteringly exciting...are they ever? Trailer The theatrical trailer and a teaser trailer. As I've said before, I don't really see the point of these on DVDs but they're here for completeness. Art Galleries & Notebooks Two separate features but I've lumped them together because I've not really taken the time to look through them closely yet...they're what I call ''rainy day'' extras, but if you're interested in filmmaking and set design then you'll probably find them enormously informative. Umm, basically there are comic book style storyboards, set designs, character designs, weaponry designs and all that kind of thing in the galleries and then the Notebooks extra gives you a step-through gallery of pages from the notebooks of Del Toro and the script supervisor which are full of doodles and ideas which were never used...sort of interesting, mainly unreadable...although if you can zoom and scroll around then you can pick up bits and pieces. Like I said, a rainy day feature for me. There are also three unfilmed script sections here as well to read through. Verdict An absolutely stonkingly good DVD, a hugely entertaining movie from Del Toro with an excellent transfer to DVD in all respects and with masses of additional information and bits and pieces on the extras side of things and all pr esented in a very professional and entertaining way. I think I gave the film a 5 star rating at the time of its cinematic relea se (for sheer comic book entertainment value) and the DVD release easily achieves more of the same. Loved it, if only all DVD releases were this good... (and just a quick note to 'Easter egg' lovers who own the Disc already...if you navigate through to "Visual Effects", scroll down to "Progress Reports" and then select Left and Up on your remote(revealing a vampire glyph) followed by Enter then you'll find a little extra footage...all be it bizarre lol)
This is one of Dolmio's 'stir-in' range of Pasta Sauces, which are absolutely perfect for a creating a tasty meal on the cheap without the slightest bit of hassle. I'm pretty damn useless in the kitchen it has to be said (although I do make a mean chilli and my spaghetti bolognese rocks big time) so when forced to actually 'cook' for myself I tend to turn to something like this or reach for my beloved microwave. At the moment, I'm tending to turn to these tubs more often because they are rather cheaper and more tasty than microwave trash. The sauce comes in a 150g foil covered tub which contains enough of the sauce to throw on pasta enough for two people to eat reasonably well and the tubs are small and easily stackable which is great for me because space here is of a premium as well. Cooking guidelines are incredibly simple as it's just a case of cooking 150g of pasta, drain it and stir in the sauce and you've got a tasty lunchtime snack. Well, I use it as a snack, but Dolmio suggests it makes a full meal at dinner time if served with a green salad and crusty bread. Each to their own, I'm more of a pig at meal times and that simply wouldn't cut it for a main dinner. ;) Once opened, the tub can be stored for upto 3 days in the fridge so there's no need to use it all at once if you don't want to. You can just use half in 75g of pasta and save the rest for another day - two cheap and very tasty lunches. Personally I like the Spicy Pepperoni and Tomato version of these best, but the range also includes: Sun dried tomato Roasted vegetable Sweet pepper Smoky bacon & tomato Tomato & roasted garlic Carbonara ...should you like the sound of those better. I think the "Sweet Pepper" one was a trial idea which was quite nice, but nothing too exciting and I'm not too sure whether they went ahead and added it to the range or not in the end, but the Baco n one and the Roasted Vegetable variety are rather nice as well - I'm yet to try the others. The Pepperoni variety on review here is very tasty indeed, with lots of pepperoni chunks and a nice thick spicy tomato and red pepper sauce. It might be a little too spicy for some and it should be noted that although the tub does look quite small, half of it is certainly enough for once reasonable sized portion of pasta, adding the whole lot is quite over-powering in flavour, so don't be tempted. A good thing is that the flavours here are all natural, Dolmio claiming there are no artificial colours or flavours so none of that artificial crap either. I'd definitely recommend it, oh and if you take a mooch around the net there are some rather wonderful sounding recipe ideas involving these as well, but I'm no cook so I've not tried them! I'd definitely recommend at least trying them out, although it's a shame they do not come in larger size tubs or jars if Dolmio are trying to market them as a main course meal. As a snack, they are brilliant though and definitely recommended. Oh and here's some tiresome completist rubbish for those who care: Ingredients: Tomatoes(42%), Red Pepper(16%), Tomato Puree(11%), Pepperoni(10%), Olive Oil, Onion, Salt, Modified Starch, Sugar, Parsley, Basil, Garlic, Chilli paste, Spices, Milk Protein, Stabiliser(Xanthan gum) Nutritional mumbo jumbo for those who can make sense of it (per 100g): Energy 608kJ/147kcal, Protein 3.4g, Carbohydrate 7.9g, Fat 11.5g Webshite: www.dolmio.com - although there is bugger all information there about anything. You can sign up to do product trials if you want to though which might involve free food but probably involves junkmail. ;)
Review Of Itipi.com Itipi is a French site (part of a larger company called Wallace) which offers to pay you to test websites for them. Yes, for an hour a week at a designated time you are asked to come online, click a few links and typically earn around £1.80 for your efforts. Not exactly a fortune, but £7.20 a month goes halfway to buying a DVD/CD, pays a bit off your internet connection etc. and an hour a week hardly encroaches much on your busy life now does it?! Truth be told it's really around 15 minutes spread out amongst that hour so you can spend the intervening time reading emails, chatting on msn or whatever it is you do online... For Starters... To get involved with this site you'll have to toddle off to www.itipi.com and register. Registration is your usual process of entering name, address, telephone number etc. and log-in details, boring, but you'll only have to do it once so just get on with it! Once registered you will need to download the Itipi Browser which you will ONLY need to use during the web tests. I thought it might be an Internet Explorer plug-in when I first heard of it but it's not, so nothing to worry about there. Download this small program, less than 1MB in size, install and you're all set to start doing the tests. Sometimes you'll need to upgrade the Itipi browser but you will be told well in advance about this. ow It Works Every Monday, once registered, you will get an email reminding you of the upcoming weekly tests and requesting those interested in taking part in this particular round to register their interest on the site. You MUST log in and reserve your interest in the upcoming tests before they are scheduled to begin or you will not be able to take part. If you forget to do this(as I have twice now!) you will find that when you open the browser software expecting a test to appear it will sit there looking blankly back at you instead. If you do remember to reserve your place in the tests (do it as soon as you get the email or you'll forget) then you must open up the itipi browser around 10 minutes before the first test is scheduled to begin and when the time comes it will (slowly) connect to the website you will be testing. You'll have two windows, one large with the site in you'll be testing and a smaller one with instruction on what you are required to do in each test. So far all I've been asked to do is click a few links and at the end of the test to say if any were broken, how fast the site was and how it compares to others I have used. It's not exactly taxing! At the end of the test you return to the start screen and wait until it is time for the next one to become available. You are given a 20 minute window in which to complete each test but invariably they only take a couple of minutes so you have to wait until the next time slot arrives. I tend to read a few opinions, write a couple of emails whilst waiting so it doesn't really encroach upon my time for more than say, 15 minutes out of the hour. The Pay You pay nothing to join up, I suppose I ought to say that just in case anyone was wondering. If you have to pay for anything like this online then it's a scam and should be avoided. That goes for surveys as well by the way, I've seen a lot of sites requesting £20 for a list of paying survey companies recently and frankly you'll get all the information you need on a free survey site so don't get sucked in. Anyhoo, I digress as usual. You pay nothing to join up, they pay you around 60p per test you perform which generally amounts to £1.80 per hourly testing session. Not bad when the actual tests take around 15 minutes I find. You actually get Itipi points but these are converted into English smackeroonies at the end of the month if your account balance surpasses a certain level. You'll be pleased to know that this level is set very low indeed so you're not looking at waiting 3 years for a payout like with some sites...yougov.com take note please. You will also find the cheques come rather quickly as well which is also something other internet sites could take note of. This one lately so I hear... :P Anything Else? Nothing you can't find out for yourself at the site. Go here: www.itipi.com if you've still got questions. My Opinion I like this idea and I like how regular and easy it is. I have signed up for other similar things in the past and have never heard anything back from them, or have been given one test a year which is pointless. Visitor Friendly is a similar idea people used to rave about but after two years, I hadn't heard anything and had forgotten all about them until I finally got my first test back in January lol. Itipi isn't like that. You get regular assignments sent out weekly and it is well worth your time and effort to get involved. The tests are easy to perform, it pays well and it pays promptly. I also think it's a great idea to support this kind of site because anywhere which is basically promoting making the web more user-friendly has got to be a good thing. Wouldn't it have been great if dooyoo had spent a few quid getting people to test the Aurora mess through Itipi? We might have got those bugs ironed out months earlier... Umm yes, I ought to have a grumble or two as well. There are times when I have not found it possible to be around at the time the tests are sceduled, or have forgot to turn up or, as I mentioned before, forgot to reserve a place in the testing schedule. I find that being forced to be around at a particular time as opposed to choosing your own time is very restrictive and means that I've participated in less than half of the tests I have so far been elligible for. Also, I'd rather not have had to download their software into my system to take part but can of course understand their reasoning behind it as it's all too easy to cheat at this kind of thing - especially when they often send the same site week in, week out to be tested! Oh yes and you need to have Internet Explorer installed which immediately shafts all Mac users. Sorry! :oP~ I suppose they are minor grumbles however and all in all this is a great idea and something I would recommend to anyone to get involved in. Well, almost anyone, it's probably not really going to be worth you time if you are on one of those internet plans where you pay for the time you are online as opposed to a monthly flat rate. Everyone else, go check it out. That address again? http://www.itipi.com