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WWE - Night Of Champions 2011 [DVD]
WWE - Night Of Champions 2011 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cena

3.0 out of 5 stars After Money in the Bank & SummerSlam, we're right back to square one, 31 Mar 2013
WWE really were on SUCH a roll throughout summer of 2011, especially after such unmissable shows like Money in the Bank & SummerSlam. With the ongoing CM Punk/WWE Championship controversy, Mark Henry's Hall of Pain, Triple H as the COO and Kevin Nash's return....WWE Television had become hotter than it'd been for years.

For the 2011 Night of Champions, there was still plenty of good reason to tune in. Alberto Del Rio had cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after CM Punk's victory in SummerSlam's Undisputed WWE Title Match. With the Mexican Aristocrat now on top, John Cena was first-in-line to challenge him. Mark Henry's convincing run of dominance had now led him to challenge World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton (fresh off his hot series against Christian) and tensions had now erupted completely between CM Punk & Triple H due to the ongoing controversies of the summer.

Sadly, WWE couldn't keep up the white-hot momentum and dropped the ball for Night of Champions. Don't get me wrong, it's a good-enough show, but after such consistent, epic quality from the previous two pay-per-views, 2011's Night of Champions feels like a letdown.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Air Boom (Champions) vs. The Miz & R-Truth
Putting Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne together as Tag Champions was just genius, frankly. Unlike most random pairings of the last few years, THIS one was actually able to capture the imagination, due to the brilliant `Air Boom' moniker, Kofi & Evan's chemistry as a unit and their popularity. Against the brilliant Miz/R-Truth pairing, Air Boom put on a nice, innovative tag team outing. Sadly, it's cut short by a daft DQ-finish, but the aftermath works. Miz & R-Truth garner some REAL heat here! (7/10)

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Cody Rhodes (Champion) vs. Ted DiBiase
The former Legacy partners square-off in strong, yet lacking title affair. Cody was really blossoming here (as both a heel & the IC Champ), but despite some good build-up (and their history together), this match is virtually devoid of heat. And poor Ted seems to get lost in the shuffle because of the way-more-over Cody. Unfortunate, as the two DO put on a solid match. (6/10)

Christian deserves `One More Match'.
Captain Charisma comes out for this interlude, and delivers a typically-brilliant Christian promo. Sheamus comes out, one thing leads to a Brogue Kick. Simple, little segment designed to set up a feud between the pair...and it's nice enough. (7/10)

WWE United States Championship Fatal-4-Way Match
Dolph Ziggler (Champion w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Alex Riley vs. Jack Swagger vs. John Morrison
I was looking forward to this one, namely because I'm a huge Ziggler fan and all the other participants are very talented. What could easily have been an exhilarating Fatal-4-Way instead turns out merely decent. Some of the action borders between sloppy/rushed & innovative/terrific. Still an okay melee, just hoping for more. (7/10)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Randy Orton (Champion) vs. Mark Henry
Mark Henry, congratulations. And I GENUINELY mean that. After so many injuries, flops and terrible angles, the World's Strongest Man - through hard work & determination - has finally made it to this level, and looks more convincing and capable than he's ever been. After a great, great run in the summer, Henry tussles with perhaps WWE's best all-rounder in a simple, yet effective story that has wonderful booking and perfect psychology. The clean finish, the historic outcome and the fierce promo afterwards make this very pleasing indeed. (7/10)

WWE Diva's Championship Match
Kelly Kelly (Champion w/Eve Torres) vs. Beth Phoenix (w/Natalya)
One reason to watch the Divas in 2011 was because of the feud between Kelly & Eve against the Divas of Doom. Like SummerSlam, Kelly & Beth put on another quality women's match with nice involvement from Eve & Natalya. This is definitely worth watching for a) the Buffalo, New York crowd rallying behind the hometown-girl Phoenix and b) the DEVASTATING superplex from Beth to Kelly! TRULY a highlight! Just a shame about the outcome and the contrived finish. (6/10)

WWE Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio (Champion w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. John Cena
Alberto's first real test as WWE Champion would truly be his biggest against Cena. And like a pro, Alberto would deliver in a terrific bout against the former Champ. The pre-match shenanigans/antics are most entertaining. The match itself is excellent, hard-fought and ripe with chemistry. The only problem is the nonsensical outcome and cheap finish. It was most counterproductive, completely unnecessary and downright pointless. Which after Money in the Bank and SummerSlam, is NOT what fans and the business needed to see! (8/10)

No Disqualification Match
CM Punk vs. Triple H
After SummerSlam, I was expecting Punk to square off against Kevin Nash (which really would've been intriguing to see). Strangely, we instead had Punk vs. Triple H with the COO's job at stake. Watching this bout, it becomes apparent that WWE really dropped the ball on the great storyline they had. For the majority, the two have a fierce, excellent brawl, but then Miz, R-Truth, John Laurinaitis AND Kevin Nash get involved at the end! A bout that's most promising just degenerates into complete overkill! Thankfully, CM Punk is strongly booked to look like Triple H's equal here, and both deliver. It's just a shame that neither the bout nor the outcome does anything for anyone. (8/10)

WWE Night of Champions 2011 does have a brilliant extra feature going for it; the contract signing between HHH & Punk (from SmackDown 30.08.2011) features some of the pair's best mic work, expressing their views on wrestling & their convictions, as well as blurring the line between kayfabe/real-life. It's a brilliant segment indeed and one that deserves repeated viewing.

On the whole, this show is a good one, but also disappointing, especially after Money in the Bank and SummerSlam. Has some nice surprises, but you won't be missing out if you decide to overlook Night of Champions 2011.

WWE - CM Punk - Best In The World [DVD]
WWE - CM Punk - Best In The World [DVD]
Price: 11.02

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CM Punk's DVD? Obviously BEST IN THE WORLD!, 28 Mar 2013
Over the years of purchasing wrestling DVDs, the best ones have come from WWE Home Video. It's simply the truth, what with WWE's unmatched approaches in producing home-exclusive documentaries that cover wrestling's most fascinating subjects with tremendous depth and detail.

The Rise & Fall of ECW, The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection, the life-stories of Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho & Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels: From The Vault, The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior....SO many essential DVDS that WWE Home Video (& Silver Vision) have released over the years. And the next of these in line? CM Punk: Best in the World.

When he debuted on the ECW brand back in 2006, I had never heard of CM Punk. I knew nothing of his success on the independent scene or the name he made for himself in Ring of Honor. I just saw a man who was coming-in to ECW with a ton of hype & charisma, and I knew that I was meant to cheer him.

Since he first set foot in WWE, I have been SUCH a fan of Punk. Most of his time, his moniker of `Best in the World' has been justified by his phenomenal wrestling ability, his fascinating, versatile straight-edge character/lifestyle and his elite mic work. From his time in ECW, to his Money in the Bank successes, World Heavyweight Championship glories, white-hot feuds with Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and (of course) John Cena to the infamous 2011 shoot promo that catapulted him to the WWE title and cemented his main-event status forever, there has NEVER been a dull moment in CM Punk's career. So now...the three-disc set that the man so richly deserves is yours to own. IMMEDIATELY.

Best in the World is easily in the top three DVDs that WWE Home Video has EVER put together. The reason why is due to Punk himself.

Naturally, like most WWE biography DVD-sets that document the lives of wrestling's biggest legends/superstars, this particular home video ticks all the usual boxes. It has a fascinating, intelligent subject, whose life-story is full of engaging family matters, tremendous struggles, terrible hardships, terrific beginnings, inspiring accomplishments and a wonderful look into the human being as well as the wrestler, supported by anecdotes/opinions from various stars/legends.

However, where Best in the World has a huge edge over so many of previous WWE life-stories is its content and presentation. This is very honest, upfront and genuine, more so than some other superstar/legend releases. It feels that way more than most other wrestling DVDs (just like Rise & Fall of ECW or The Bret Hart Story), and Punk doesn't shy away from anything. No one here does, which says a lot about the quality of the documentary.

As we know, Punk himself is a complex individual. He's very opinionated with a very high opinion of himself. His remarkable intellect, the code he lives by, his confidence, his attitude, his morals/beliefs, loyalty to his family/friends; it all comes across perfectly in his voice. Again, he makes for a fascinating interview subject, and the wonderful range of guests-on-hand to corroborate him and his life cement this feature as an essential piece from start-to-finish. There's not a single disappointing thing about the documentary AT ALL!

What's unusual about Best in the World - and all-the-more excellent BECAUSE of it - is that WWE have actually broken the norm, and reached out to Ring of Honor to provide footage to cover Punk's time in the promotion. From a fan-standpoint, it HAD to be included given how Punk made his name there, but it's amazing that WWE actually listened and how well they cover Punk's ROH run! Kudos to Vince and WWE for allowing Punk this level of creative control, as the whole DVD becomes such a mandatory package because of it.

Due to how much say Punk had for his own DVD, there are even more wicked surprises on offer, namely Lars Frederiksen (of Rancid!) & Colt Cabana (from Ring of Honor!) to offer their views. Truly, there's a fantastic array of guest-speakers to discuss Punk, such as Lita, Chris Hero, Ace Steel, Paul Heyman, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, John Cena, Michael Hayes and Triple H, along with more of Punk's family and friends. The way the documentary alternates between discussion of the man's life/career and events outside the ring - such as meeting with Stan Lee HIMSELF! - is so intricate and refreshing. Not only is Best in the World inspiring, but there's several cool, trivial moments that viewers will simply love indulging in.

For special features, this 3-Disc DVD delivers every bit as much as the documentary itself. There's an overwhelming amount of deleted scenes, shedding more light on CM Punk, his family, his friends, career and life that enhance the experience even more. As for matches, some maybe disappointed that there are no Ring of Honor bouts collected (they can be found on ROH DVDs themselves). However, the BEST of Punk's WWE career have really been chosen wisely.

There's an excellent Heavyweight Title bout from OVW with Brent Albright, his great ECW debut against Justin Credible, a stiff IC title wrestling match with William Regal, and a fantastic Tag Title team-up with Kofi Kingston. More importantly, there's the fast, furious & superbly innovative ECW Championship bout with John Morrison (from 2007), his 2008 Money in the Bank triumph, a great collision with Rey Mysterio, the awesome TLC climax with Jeff Hardy (SummerSlam '09), the excellent WrestleMania 28 bout with Chris Jericho, the PERFECT WWE title masterclass against ROH buddy Daniel Bryan (Over the Limit '12) and of course, the greatest match of Punk's life against John Cena from the legendary Money in the Bank 2011.

CM Punk: Best in the World is more than just a wrestling DVD. It's one of the deepest and most compelling features you'll ever see. A perfect release that works on every-single-level. Without this, your wrestling DVD collection is simply incomplete. An utterly mandatory release that's without fault.

Minimum Carnage
Minimum Carnage
by Chris Yost
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.86

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MINIMUM Carnage? Ah, clever! Oh, dear..., 25 Mar 2013
This review is from: Minimum Carnage (Paperback)
Like the majority, I raved over Family Feud and Carnage: USA. Thanks to terrific plotting, great characterisation & gorgeous artwork, Zeb Wells & Clayton Crain had produced two absolutely essential mini-series, restoring Cletus Kasady to his rightful place as a colourful character, and force to be reckoned with.

When MINIMUM Carnage was first announced, I was really looking forward to it, particularly after Carnage: USA. When I heard that Venom (currently Flash Thompson) and Scarlet Spider (currently Kaine) were going to be the main-stars, my excitement level went through the roof! After all, both the new Venom and Scarlet Spider titles have proven to be some of the best series in recent years, mostly due to Flash and Kaine's reinventions as complicated, dark, flawed & tragic anti-heroes trying to prove themselves in their new roles. And throwing them together with Carnage (fresh off his own revitalised success) SHOULD have produced something worthwhile.

And perhaps it would've been...if it had been left to Zeb & Clayton. I was REALLY itching for a THIRD collaboration between the pair (having enjoyed Family Feud & Carnage: USA so much). A trilogy of Carnage stories from the duo would've not only been perfect, it would've been ideal. But alas, I'm getting ahead of myself...

After the events of Carnage: USA, Kasady's symbiote was `presumed' destroyed, and Cletus himself was taken into custody. Not surprisingly, he's back as Carnage, and escapes prison with Agent Venom on his trail. This time though, Carnage's rampage takes him to Houston, Texas - the home of the Scarlet Spider! - and Kaine's NOT happy! But this showdown is interrupted by a strange-turn-of-events. One that's going to make the proceedings even weirder...

Maximum Carnage was a GOOD story. One that could've been GREAT, if it hadn't run on for so long, hadn't been so repetitive, and been approached with more discipline. For MINIMUM Carnage (clever spin on the title!), this crossover spreads over the Venom AND Scarlet Spider comics (Venom #26-27, and Scarlet Spider #10-11), and the Minimum Carnage One-Shots (Alpha & Omega). SIX parts as opposed to FOURTEEN, which is much more sensible. Creative duties this time are shared by Chris Yost (current Scarlet Spider writer) and Cullen Bunn (current Venom writer). Various artists throughout the issues consist of Ian Medina, Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown & Declan Shalvey.

The end-result? JUST LIKE Maximum Carnage. An excellent concept, all-the-right ingredients and a potential classic on their hands, which is executed well-below-par. What could EASILY have been as fantastic as previous Carnage Mini-Series instead turns out as something that is way too radical for its own good.

The biggest problem with Minimum Carnage is the plot. Some would say you really shouldn't expect a rich plot featuring Carnage, and I would argue vehemently against that. Carnage IS a perfectly three-dimensional character and great stories CAN be produced with him (such as the Wells/Crain mini-series and those tales by David Michelinie/J.M. DeMatteis).

The idea here that Carnage makes a deal with a mysterious, sinister `third-party' is plausible, as are the circumstances that bring Venom & Scarlet Spider together. But when the crossover enters the `Microverse' pretty much ruins the whole thing. Aside from the Microverse concept being a dud, the idea is stressed far too much in its attempt to make it work. You're introduced to an overload of lifeless new superheroes & supervillains (where the odds are you WON'T see them ever again), on a bizarre stage that becomes far too much to handle. I can understand the relevance of it all for Chris Yost & Cullen Bunn's story, but for the majority, it's just far too confusing and really, really boring.

Comparing Yost & Bunn's writing to (say) Zeb Wells', the differences are plainly obvious. Family Feud and Carnage: USA succeeded because they were plausible, coherent and went for the `less-is-more' approach. If Wells had written this, he would've taken some of the great ideas/concepts - i.e. Carnage allying with others, turning on them, third-party wanting to clone an army out of him, Venom & Scarlet reluctantly teaming-up/infighting, talking about Spidey etc - and grounded it all in a way that's genuinely deep & refreshing. As it is, Yost and Bunn have missed the boat here, and after really enjoying the new Venom and Scarlet Spider books, that's very disappointing.

As for the artwork, hit-and-miss overall. Declan Shalvey's work is too rough for my liking, and while Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown & Ian Medina provide some nice, cartoony visuals, it's something of a letdown, especially after being spoiled by Clayton Crain's beautiful painted illustrations in the last two mini-series. And I really do criticise Ian Medina's rendition of Cletus Kasady, which looks NOTHING like him at all! However, there are SOME pleasant bonuses, like the alternative covers produced by Clayton and Spider-Man legend himself, Mark Bagley! These are TRULY works-of-art!

There is some great writing amidst the whole Microverse mess. Namely the interactions between Carnage, Venom & Scarlet Spider. There're some absolutely TERRIFIC exchanges/interaction between the three, be it dialogue or no-holds-barred fights to the death (the best being Kaine's INTENSE fights with Flash & Kasady!). All their characters are expressed beautifully here, and all undergo major changes at the end. The epilogue from Scarlet Spider #12 is a great spotlight for Kaine's aftermath of the whole event, and it's all-the-more of a shame that this level of character has been suppressed by a needlessly overdone story.

In closing, Minimum Carnage DOES offer some good fun. Just like its MAXIMUM predecessor, and just like said-predecessor, it's a story that could've been so much more had it been executed properly. Buy it if you're curious. You may just find some stuff that's worth the money. Just don't expect anything rich or purposeful as Family Feud, Carnage: USA or the normal Venom & Scarlet Spider books.

Soon I Will be Invincible
Soon I Will be Invincible
by Austin Grossman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best takes on the whole dynamic superhero/villain mythology!, 22 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The superhero genre has been one of the most colourful in all history. The idea of superpowers, extra-ordinary individuals & their worlds has generated some of the greatest fiction of all time. Obviously, when we think of this, we look to Marvel & DC Comics. In recent years, we've also been treated to some refreshing, original and innovative takes on the superhero concept; for example, Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles and Mur Lafferty's Playing For Keeps.

Soon I Will Be Invincible naturally appealed to me right away. Not just because of its subject-matter, but also because of Bryan Hitch's GORGEOUS artwork for the cover. This hardback version is a thing of beauty in my hands. The dust-jacket is immediately eye-catching, what with Hitch's illustrations and the foil-stamped title. The book itself is all-the-more of a masterwork with the binding, paper-quality, font variations and more of Bryan's colour illustrations/sketches in the back of the book, some presented as actual comic-book covers! It's a true work of art, with the story to match.

Speaking of story, Austin Grossman has written a typical cliché of a comic-book plot. Supervillain wants to take over the world, and the heroes must stop him. That's the POINT of these kind of adventures, and while it NEVER gets old, Grossman wisely presents a twist for his novel to stop the whole thing from being redundant.

The twist is the EXPERT first-person narrative that Austin writes, alternating between two central characters; Doctor Impossible - a supervillain who's continually defeated/yet obsessed with ruling the world - and Fatale - a cyborg super-heroine and rookie who's been drafted to join the almighty team of heroes, the Champions. Neither character has anything to do with each other (apart from being on opposing sides!), but this is why Soon I Will Be Invincible succeeds. Great variety and contrast of insight.

Grossman pours a lot of qualities into both Impossible & Fatale to make them appealing. It's more than just a case of one being villain, the other being hero that makes this joint narrative a real winner. Both are as human as you & I, and because of their contrasting backgrounds, attitudes, situations, personalities & motivations, it makes the whole experience so refreshing. Not only can you RELATE to Dr. Impossible & Fatale (in some regards), this also helps advance the intelligent plot along.

But a key thing about Grossman's writing is that he keeps it all completely coherent. You won't get lost reading into the proceedings, and as much focus as Dr. Impossible and Fatale receive, the author manages to provide sufficient examination on the rest of the colourful supporting cast. The influence of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Avengers etc is blatant throughout, but again, it's so refreshing because of the human environments/domestic situations which grounds it all. A special appendix of all the players and timeline for this universe (provided by Austin) helps clarify certain details and makes the read even more of a fun, intelligent read.

Soon I Will Be Invincible is a work of excellence. It's well-paced, utterly engaging, breathes originality into a classic concept, has tonnes of character, and is bound to appeal to not only comic lovers, but sci-fi fans as well. Austin Grossman has produced a simply terrific novel here, one of the most outstanding in recent memory. Well worth a look.

Tomb Raider Underworld (Wii)
Tomb Raider Underworld (Wii)
Offered by Online Game Shop
Price: 16.42

2.0 out of 5 stars A potential classic betrayed by shoddy controls and BUGS!, 20 Mar 2013
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The joys of having a PS2 for several years were plentiful. A lot of them came from the excellent catalogue of games for the system, including & especially the rebooted Tomb Raider games, developed by Crystal Dynamics.

Boasting seamless, utterly responsive controls, gorgeous visuals, clean sound, cinematic production values & deep storylines, Legend and Anniversary were necessities for PS2 owners. Lara Croft had truly been reborn for the next generation with tremendous success.

In 2008, Eidos & Crystal Dynamics looked set to round-off the rebooted series with Underworld. Having opted to go for the Nintendo Wii rather than the PS3, I was most keen to try out this Wii version.

The majority of Wii users rated the Nintendo release of Anniversary very highly, for its great control system and innovation. Having never played Anniversary on Wii, I was keen to try Underworld for this format. Hoping that the Wii console's sheer fun factor would serve this version well, I was frustrated to discover a number of bugs that made the experience a real letdown.

To start with the positives, the graphics and sound of Underworld are very nice. Although not as gorgeous and detailed as the HD versions for PS3 or X-Box 360, the Wii version's graphics are easily on a par with the PS2 at its prime. Sound-wise, the fantastic music score shines through with its excellent orchestra. The sound-effects are crisp (the effects coming through the Wii remote are a nice touch!) and of course, Keeley Hawes remains impeccable as the voice of Lara.

The plot of the game is as grand & epic as Lara's previous adventures, blending high-stakes & discovery with the depth & development of Lara's character. Her past and resolve really come under the spotlight here, maybe more than even Legend or Anniversary. It's cinematic gaming at its finest, with the leading lady herself really shining through!

Unfortunately, all this is letdown by the shoddy gameplay. The levels and their layout (along with various secrets) have been suitably reworked for Wii controls, which is commendable, as it does allow for some genuinely good use of the Remote & Nunchuk to come into play. There are fun moments, fun innovation & some tremendous puzzles that you'll enjoy solving...

But these are VERY sporadic! Too much of the time, the controls aren't anywhere near as responsive as they SHOULD be! When I think back to (say) Super Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Punch-Out or Super Mario Bros. Wii, THOSE titles showed just how fun, reliable and addictive Wii games can and should be. In comparison, this version of Tomb Raider: Underworld just feels so rushed and incomplete, that fans who enjoyed the Wii version of Anniversary will be left feeling cheated.

Having researched various reports of Wii owners who angrily found their games littered with faults, I was amazed that Eidos actually allowed release of this bugged-version without more testing! For me, when I got to the Southern Mexico level, I was prevented from going further in the game when one of the puzzles was represented by TWO-YELLOW-BLOCKS floating in mid-air over one of the stone dials! This broke the game, and I was absolutely appalled! This is worse than even all the faults that plagued 2003's The Angel of Darkness!

Tomb Raider: Underworld for the Wii is a mistake. One that SHOULD have been rectified. If the PS3 and X-Box 360 versions were released with the same degree of utmost quality as Legend and Anniversary, WHY NOT THIS particular version? It doesn't make SENSE! It's inexcusable, and not what I would expect from the likes of Crystal Dynamics. And given that this Wii version could potentially have been something special, this is all the more of a great, great shame.

Top Gear - 50 Years of Bond Cars [DVD]
Top Gear - 50 Years of Bond Cars [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Hammond
Offered by themediamerchants
Price: 7.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The name's Hammond. Richard Hammond., 18 Mar 2013
During Top Gear's lengthy absence throughout the majority of 2012, the lads focused their efforts on the amazing spectacle of Top Gear Live and other projects. Jeremy & James went off to Whitby to produce the DVD-exclusive "The Worst Car in the History of the World", whereas Richard got the GOLDEN assignment.

Broadcast back in October, 50 Years of Bond Cars was an excellent special, certainly one of the best Top Gear have ever done. With the Bond franchise having recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, Top Gear saw fit to honour the James Bond phenomenon through the one aspect BOTH entertainment-forums have in common/excel at.


It's most pleasing that this special was released on DVD. 50 Years of Bond Cars MERITS a home-video release, because of how unusually mature it is for Top Gear. The producers have truly set about making a programme to express their genuine love & appreciation for Bond, packing in a great amount of history and insight into the wonderful spectrum of 007 (specifically its cars). However, true to Top Gear, the crew have poured in enough trademark fun, antics and dedication into this special to appease the usual fans.

This programme immediately gets off to the right start because of the presenting. Understandably, Jezza and Captain Slow couldn't be part of the proceedings here, but even if they had, all three of the lads being on hand would've been overkill for this particular format. By himself, Hammond presents the whole documentary/handles the interviews with great professionalism, warmth & enthusiasm. He narrates a fantastic account of the Bond girls, gadgets, cars, stunts, most memorable film moments with great relish. There's even a behind-the-scenes look at the most recent Bond-outing Skyfall (MASTERPIECE!) to sink your teeth into.

There're some major guest appearances on hand, such as veteran Bond Director Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die & The Man with the Golden Gun), former 007 Sir Roger Moore, Ola Rapace (Skyfall baddie Patrice), former Stig Ben Collins, legendary Bond producer/screenwriter Michael G. Wilson and the current 007 himself, Daniel Craig. All involved really add to the spectacle of this documentary, making it a truly enlightening piece, particularly when Richard has sit-down chats with Hamilton, Moore, Wilson & Craig.

As for the premise of looking at the most major CARS/sequences in Bond history, this Top Gear special definitely does get a great look in at things. Such as the legendary Aston Martin DB5, the BMW sequence from Tomorrow Never Dies, the car duel from Die Another Day, the hilarious Citroen 2CV chase from For Your Eyes Only, the Bus chase from Live & Let Die and of course, the UNFORGETTABLE moment from The Spy Who Loved Me, where the Lotus Espirit converted into that awesome submarine. The insight into how the whole sequence was shot - with models and modified Lotuses - makes this the highlight of the whole show, along with when Hamster actually converts a Lotus into a proper-working submarine! WATCH OUT for this amazing challenge!

As was the case when it was first broadcast, Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars remains essential viewing for both fans of Top Gear AND James Bond. The ONLY area where this DVD is let down is the ZERO inclusion of special features. You would've thought that there'd be additional interviews or deleted scenes to make this home release even more special. Alas, it's a missed opportunity.

Still, this remains another great Top Gear DVD to fit on your shelf. It trumps Apocalypse, At the Movies, the APPALLING India Special, and even the very good "The Worst Car in the History of the World". Like the Challenge and Great Adventures DVD, 50 Years of Bond Cars is worth the purchase.

Transformers: Season 2.2 [DVD]
Transformers: Season 2.2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Frank Welker
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Aerialbots, Stunticons, Protectobots & Combaticons - COME ON DOWN!!!, 10 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Season 2 has been regarded by many as the best season of the original Transformers G1 series, from an all-round storyline/animation perspective. There's certainly a lot going for it. Boasting a whopping 49 episodes and at the peak of its popularity, the original animated series then took the chance to explore and expand in radical, stunning and creative ways.

The first season had established the premise of the Transformers' war; how they departed from Cybertron and came to Earth, how the Autobots encountered their human friends/allies and how the Decepticons were able to create their Space Bridge etc. The second season proceeded to develop the colourful cast/setting even further, as well introduce a brand new array of fabulous characters, and take that first bold look into the origins of the Transformers and their war.

Volume One of the Season 2 boxsets (containing the first 24 episodes of said-season) showcased more of old fan-favourites the Dinobots, the Insecticons & the Constructicons, introduced the likes of popular newcomers Carly (Spike's girlfriend), Blaster, Perceptor, the Decepticon Triple-Changers (Blitzwing & Astrotrain) and Omega Supreme (among others), and also showed how the war kicked off and how the Cybertronians were first able to Transform. For this second volume (featuring the remaining 25 episodes), even MORE brand new, unforgettable characters are introduced, the wonderful looks into Cybertron's past are expanded upon, and for the first time, we're actually treated to the amazing ORIGIN of Optimus Prime.

Volume 2 continues the overall trend of being deep, exciting and meaningful. Characters you wouldn't normally give a second thought receive the spotlight to show-off their personality in various one-offs (i.e. Beachcomber in `The Golden Lagoon') and there are some outstanding two-parters that change the status-quo and further develops main-characters like Optimus Prime, Megatron & Starscream.

As with any eighties cartoon, Season 2 had its share of really bad episodes (the season finale B.O.T. unfortunately springing to mind. What on EARTH were they thinking ending such an AWESOME season with one of the WORST episodes of all time?!), but when you've got SUCH classics like The Secret of Omega Supreme, The Search for Alpha Trion, War Dawn, Cosmic Rust, Masquerade and Aerial Assault, you can EASILY afford to forgive and forget.

Of course, the REAL reason to check out this box set is for the glorious arrival of the Special Teams - the Aerialbots, Stunticons, Protectobots & Combaticons - who (with the exception of the Protectobots who just `show up') are written into the show with the greatest storytelling fashion that the writers could conjure. The Key to Vector Sigma (parts 1 & 2), War Dawn, Starscream's Brigade and The Revenge of Bruticus are truly the greatest episodes of the entire season because we're treated to the origins of the greatest groups of Transformers of all time, and that they all mark major turning points in the Autobot/Decepticon war. Megatron really changes tact by creating a new generation of warriors (the Stunticons) and Optimus Primes knows that the only way to survive and safeguard the Earth is to create new warriors of his own (the Aerialbots). When Starscream builds the Combaticons to help him oppose Megatron, it marks just how dangerous a threat he is. It's very significant development all-round for the Transformers saga and its characters. One that demands attention.

Quality-wise, Metrodome have done a great job all-in-all of restoring the original episodes. The picture is beautifully colourful, clean & crisp, the sound is pitch-perfect, and the menu-design for this set is much improved (in terms of design/function) from the first Season 2 volume. The extras include the usual character bios, postcards by Andrew Wildman, DVD-ROM scripts, a pretty cool trailer for the 2004 PS2 (based on Armada) game, a very `Ho-Hum' Transformers DVD game, which is pretty pointless considering what you get for winning, and a fan art gallery which is good but nowhere near as impressive as that in the previous boxset.

The highlight extras are the quiz, where the hidden Easter Egg for completion is the first episode of Transformers: Headmasters; The Four Soldiers from the Sky, which is not bad at all, but I would have much preferred the Japanese alternative to the movie, Scramble City. The other extra is the free mini-comic, `The Beast Within', which you have to read for yourselves in order to appreciate how brilliant it is.

On the whole, purchase of this is highly recommended. In fact, it's mandatory if you're a Transformers fan. A few things to nitpick about, such as the episode listing (how can Aerial Assault take place before Starscream's Brigade when the Combaticons hadn't been created yet?) and some of the episodes themselves, but then again, that's just nitpicking. I have no hesitation in saying that this is the best Transformers boxset available.

Skyfall (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
Skyfall (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Price: 14.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond is back! At his VERY best!, 1 Mar 2013
I love James Bond as much as the next chap. Among the best of British, Bond is one of the most quintessential elements in cinema. The cars, the gadgets, the girls, the villains, the missions, the man himself etc - all trademark ingredients used to produce some of the greatest spy movies of all time.

Therefore, it was a given that I was gonna check out Skyfall. But the overwhelming number of rave reviews really piqued my interest. Then there was talk of Oscars (which the film recently won TWO, for Best Sound Editing & Best Original Song), which was almost unheard of for a Bond film! So now...after having regretfully missed Skyfall at the pictures, I've finally got the chance to watch it on this special Blu-Ray/DVD.

The plot for this particular Bond flick is much more personal than most usual escapades of thwarting the dastardly terrorist's scheme to take over the world. Here, Bond's latest assignment is compromised thanks to M (the legendary Judi Dench), leaving 007's loyalty and relationship with his boss in ruins, and MI6 highly vulnerable & exposed to ruthless terrorists. As MI6 struggles to survive, M's position comes under heavy scrutiny and Bond is a shell of his former self. Can even James possibly bounce back? And more importantly...will he WANT to?

Since the continuity of the films was rebooted with 2006's Casino Royale, I haven't been blown away by James Bond as much I was growing up. Being honest, I thought Casino Royale was overrated, and I enjoyed Quantum of Solace much more, yet even that film lacked the excellence of Bond's glory days.

It's a huge relief for me then, that I've finally been blown away by a Bond film with Daniel Craig. All this positive reception of Skyfall is definitely justified. It's a hard-hitting, emotional triumph of a film, blending intelligent plotting, with the right levels of action, espionage & intrigue. There's sufficient character focus & development, along with winning reinventions of/tributes to the choicest parts of the Bond spectrum. And when all's said and done, you've witnessed history, which pays tribute to the old and establishes the new. It's so masterful and intricate that fans of all generations are bound to be pleased!

Daniel Craig is back for his third outing as 007, and I've got to say, this is truly his greatest performance as Bond, maybe the finest in his entire career. Very similar to Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises, Daniel turns in an engaging presentation of Bond. Broken, down, dispirited, struggling to get back to form, this is a 007 unlike any we're used to seeing. It's a bold portrayal and one that ultimately works. It breathes such new life into the character, especially during the film's final moments when a rare insight into James' past is provided in the set-up for the rip-roaring climax.

There's an amazing cast lined-up for Skyfall, all of whom stand out. Ralph Fiennes (Mallory), Naomi Harris (Eve), Bérénice Marlohe (Sévérine) & Rory Kinnear (Tanner) provide real human support, but the best on offer are definitely Ben Whishaw (whose reinvention of Q is truly worthy of Desmond Llewellyn!), Javier Bardem (whose main baddie Raoul Silva is as deep/colourful/charismatic as Heath Ledger's Joker!) and Dame Judi Dench, who gives her classiest, most powerful & tear-jerking performance as M. Seriously, her role as M this time surpasses all her other appearances in previous Bond films! It can't be missed!

To me, the best part about the music. Thomas Newman's score is the most distinctive & memorable I can ever recall experiencing while watching a Bond film. I know that's saying a lot, but the power of Newman's orchestration, the flair and grandeur of his composing is just staggering. Every scene receives the perfect musical sequence to accompany them. The soundtrack pushes all the right buttons, making the movie even more of a treat that will rattle you to the core.

And finally, there's Adele's theme song. Like all Bond songs, this is iconic, evocative and unforgettable but even more so. Words cannot do this Oscar-winning masterpiece justice. By all rights, it's a PERFECT song. Absolutely beautiful. The icing on the cake.

The versatility of this package is most appealing, and to be honest, this Blu-Ray/DVD set is the one I'd recommend to customers above all others. Even if you don't have a Blu-Ray player, you can still play the DVD. You can also insert the disc into your computer to get your free Digital copy (which DOES work with iTunes!), enabling you to put it onto your iPod, iPad, Android phone etc. And if you DO have the ability to play Blu-Ray, you can unlock some excellent special features.

There's TV spots for the Soundtrack, the official trailer, audio commentaries with either Director Sam Mendes or Producers Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson and Designer Dennis Gassner and the fantastic `Shooting Bond', a series of thirteen featurettes detailing all the essentials of the film's production. Boasting great values, enlightening interviews and providing terrific insight into Skyfall's creation, `Shooting Bond' is definitely the best extra on offer.

People have been calling Skyfall the best James Bond film ever. Having finally seen it, I'm struggling greatly to disagree. This is truly 007's best outing in absolutely ages, and after its overwhelming success, this will be the benchmark for years to come. Five-stars easy (for both the film itself & the home video release).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2014 12:02 AM GMT

Hunger Games (Deluxe Edition) (3 Dvd)
Hunger Games (Deluxe Edition) (3 Dvd)
Dvd ~ Elizabeth Banks
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: 13.03

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation of a classic novel!, 26 Feb 2013
The Hunger Games. Beyond doubt one of my favourite books/series of books of all time. I can't believe it's approaching four years ago now when I received my copy from the Amazon Vine programme to review.

The idea of a horrific reality television show where adolescents are meant to face off in a barbaric battle to the death, infused with Suzanne Collins' impeccable pacing & writing style, and coupled with the down-to-earth, perfectly human first-person narrative of main protagonist Katniss Everdeen, made for one of the most definitive recipes in all of literature.

So after the overwhelming success of the trilogy...we have the much-predicted film adaptation of the first Hunger Games book. Featuring the likes of Jenifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) and the legendary Donald Sutherland as President Snow, this movie certainly has all the talent to make it a triumph.

But does it TURN OUT so? Absolutely, because of Director Gary Ross and his willingness to remain faithful to the source material. The moment the film starts, it's pretty much exactly the same as Suzanne Collins' original novel (who incidentally helped write the screenplay). The macabre nature of the Hunger Games, the world of Panem and Capitol life, all the morals and messages preached, the gripping drama, tense moments, the sheer heartbreak, action and drama; the very heart & soul of the book's world and its characters have been captured and translated superbly onto screen. Ross has really done Collins' work justice here! If it's not quite how you imagined it, it'll certainly come close!

However, the biggest thing that The Hunger Games movie has going AGAINST it was the greatest strength of the books themselves, and that was Katniss' first-person narrative. Obviously, it would've been impractical to capture/portray that in film, but it's still unfortunate. The beautiful insight into Katniss' mind was really the core of what made the books so refreshing. With that absent from the film, it can't really compare to the richness of the novel, despite us knowing how inadvertent the problem is.

What compensates for this drawback, Jennifer Lawrence herself. She is VERY MUCH the leading lady for The Hunger Games. Her knowledge and understanding of Katniss' character is clearly intimate right from the beginning. Her mannerisms, her awkward nature, her humanity, capabilities, confidence, compassion, rebellious attitude - the way her EYES allow people to see into her soul - it's all so uncanny & graceful. Jennifer doesn't `play' Katniss here, she IS Katniss. She just lives & breathes the character.

Of course, Lawrence isn't the only one who deserves top credit. The rest of the entire cast all deliver. Every single one of Collins' colourful characters are brought to life with great ease & satisfaction. There are no slackers or anyone who looks out of place on camera. It's an all-round faithful & excellent adaptation produced, so kudos to the entire cast and crew for making this film as good as it possibly could be.

For extras (on either the Blu-Ray or the 2-disc DVD version), there's tremendous insight provided into the success of the books and the creation of the film. There are several really strong documentaries/featurettes in the form of "Gamer Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon", "The World is Watching: Making of the Hunger Games", "Letters From The Rose Garden", "Controlling The Games" & "Preparing for the Games: A Director's Process". Featuring superb input from Gary Ross, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast & crew - along with school teachers, children, publishing staff etc - the array of extras are truly excellent for the detail they provide over this remarkable phenomenon. There's loads to sink your teeth into here, providing a worthwhile experience.

A great variety of marketing posters/stills are also available for viewing, along with the special `Propaganda Film' (as seen in the movie's Reaping scene) to promote the Hunger Games themselves. Great finishing touches for what's an excellent package. It could've been so easy for this cinematic adaptation to flop, but thanks to a trustworthy director and the correct cast & crew, The Hunger Games is a terrific film of a classic book. Even those who haven't read the novel will be satisfied with this movie. Like Suzanne Collins' tale, an utterly essential experience. Roll on Catching Fire!

Silver Hawk
Silver Hawk
Dvd ~ Jingle Ma
Offered by qualityfilmsfromuk
Price: 14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable film featuring another cult heroine!, 20 Feb 2013
This review is from: Silver Hawk (DVD)
It really is amazing the things you can discover on YouTube, purely by happy accident. For me, such discoveries have resulted in unearthing gems such as Queen of Swords and Transformers: Animated. TV shows which have brought such joy to my life upon learning of their existence.

Silver Hawk is the most recent of these discoveries, where I learn of something that piques my curiosity enough to actually want to learn more, find a DVD and actually watch it. While the film hasn't had the same thrilling impact on me in a way my previous YouTube discoveries have, Silver Hawk is still a sci-fi/action flick that makes for enlightening and enjoyable viewing.

Based on a rare comic book, Silver Hawk takes a concept we're all familiar with. It focuses on one Lulu Wong, a rich philanthropist and heiress who fights crime as a beautiful vigilante, armed with ancient fighting techniques and the best technology money can buy. As Silver Hawk reigns as the champion of Polaris City, Lulu's life takes a complicated twist when she meets the new Police Superintendent, Rich Man (YES, that IS his name!), who is obsessed with arresting the vigilante, yet is also a dear friend from her childhood. Their relationship will come under fire, as notorious baldy baddie Alexander Wolfe plots to take over the world.

Silver Hawk is an Asian action film that was released in Eastern theatres back in 2004, yet it was intended for European viewing as well, hence the filming in both English and Cantonese. Watching it, you can tell that there's Asian influence aplenty here, as there's material in this movie that ranges from comedic to downright bonkers. Case in point, Silver Hawk rescuing PANDAS from notorious Animal Smugglers! Rich Man dressing up in cringing drag to try and catch her! Some of the stuff I could swallow good-naturedly (like the Panda rescue), but other highlights just made me shake my head in disbelief (i.e. Rich Man dressed in drag. Good grief).

It soon becomes apparent that you're not meant to take this film too seriously, which is fine, because Silver Hawk is actually quite enjoyable. Ninety-five minutes is just the right length for this sort of thing, and there's enough pros to sustain the movie's quality.

To get the cons out of the way first, the plot is so-so. Typical high-stakes let down by some underwhelming twists, some redundant, uninspired characters, iffy dubbing here-and-there, hit-and-miss humour, certain story aspects that aren't fleshed out enough, unresolved sub-plots, and some bad acting which brings the overall grade down; the most notorious of which being Richie Jen as Rich Man.

But these negatives are forgivable, mostly due to Silver Hawk herself, and the legendary Michelle Yeoh who plays her. Those who are familiar with her work will obviously remember masterpieces like Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and again Michelle doesn't disappoint. Beautiful and convincing as ever, Michelle plays the title role flawlessly. She's reserved, cheeky, spirited and serious for both Lulu and her alter-ego, with her formidable martial arts prowess once again coming into play for some terrific fight scenes.

Speaking of which, the choreography in Silver Hawk is fantastic, and provides the most enjoyment for viewers. Michelle's moves and stunt work remain things of beauty, such as a brilliantly elegant fight scene with bungee jumpers in the latter stages and an unforgettable bike jump over the Great Wall of China! Other notable mentions must go to the famous Michael Jai White and Li Bing Bing as henchmen Morris and Jane. They contribute excellent moves to the fight scenes, and their reserved nature and implied love makes them very interesting characters. Luke Goss truly deserves praise also for his riveting performance as the chief antagonist Alexander Wolfe.

What makes Lulu Wong interesting enough to keep the viewer's attention is the flashback focus the character receives, chronicling her childhood friendship with Rich Man, her training at the Dojo and sudden departure, how she developed her strong notion for justice and the idea to hide her identity. All this is acted out by the wonderful Wu Sai Kit (Little Lou) and Liu Wei (Young Rich Man), and when Adult Lulu explains her motives even more, it makes Silver Hawk's origins all the more natural.

Things like Silver Hawk's costume design are also clever in the sense that even though it's the same scheme, it varies throughout unlike other superhero attire, due to the large range of wardrobe, retaining the same silver colour scheme, yet providing another element to the heroic figure. The hero bike is another nice touch, as are all the Batman-esque gadgets.

Momentum Asia have put together a fine DVD release for the film. There's English subtitles on hand, a 5.1 soundtrack option between Dolby and Surround, crisp picture, animated menus, nice trailers for this film and Born to Fight, and finally a slideshow containing stills and cool-looking character art. Would've really loved an audio commentary with Michelle Yeoh herself, just to hear her views on the film. Oh, well...

Silver Hawk is an action film that should satisfy lovers of the superhero and Asian action genres. I certainly didn't have any regrets watching it. More for cultists than mainstream lovers, but still worth taking a look.

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