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m "macey" (United Kingdom)

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Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ron Perlman
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: £2.75

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The quirkiest blockbuster of 2008, 5 Jan. 2009
Do you ever find yourself saying, just as the credits roll: "I wish that film had been a bit longer..."? No? Me neither, but I did here. I really enjoyed the first film, and there's no denying that this one came at things from the same off-centre, quirky angle. But I felt it was all a bit rushed. It looked great but the story seemed to just...slip by too un-noticed.

Am I the only one to feel that the whole elements were simply not given enough time to come to a full flowering? Abe's little romance, the story of the legendary figures being forgotten, it was all there but somehow not clear enough. I really wouldn't have minded another 20 minutes or so to round things off properly. Was Del Toro forced to trim the time down? The emergence (or not) of a directors cut will answer that I suppose.

In short, a good sequel with some GREAT ideas, but not used to their fullest advantage. And fair play to Luke Goss - I was ready to laugh him off the screen (I remember BROS!) but his scary, white skinned, evil-eyed monster guy shut me right up. Again, I would like to have seen more of him. In a way, Hellboy is almost like a TV character - I would love to be able to see him more frenquently in varied stories (the comics will have to do for now.)

Also, Del Toro's love of the weird mechanical machines shines through again - you either love that or your don't. And finally...some sort of prize for best ever use of a Barry Manilow song?

The Dark Knight (Two Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2008]
The Dark Knight (Two Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £3.98

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I love this film (in less than 500 words), 11 Dec. 2008
Well...I might as well have my say - everyone else on Amazon is!

Like practically everyone, I loved this film. As a 30-something lifelong batfan, it delivered the kind of quality movie that I always wanted Batman to have. It really is the diametric opposite of those late 90s efforts: intelligent, challenging and...sophisticated. This is a film which does not talk down to the audience.

Like all the other Nolan efforts, at its core is a great story well told. But why is it SO flipping great though? You could go for the present-day ordinary city setting, the strong crime-thriller/mob money storyline, the quality actors cast in every role (even the minor ones.) Or what about the fantastic effects or gadgetry on display?

For me, the best element was the willingness shown to twist each main character so they almost become inverted: Dent goes on a moral rollercoaster trying to clean-up a totally corrupt city, Batman starts to move from being an outright hero to something darker - the sense that he is having to get right down in the dirt and it's not all going to wash off.

The biggest thrill for me though, like many people, was the portrayal of the Joker. Ledger manages to conjure a sharply defined character from practically a blank slate. More than that - and you only really pick this up after several viewings - there is a sense of almost empathy he manages to conjure. The Joker was always very enjoyable in the comics, but ultimately lacked a real depth. Here, Ledger gives you the sense of, if not outright understanding, then at least a hint that behind the smudgy makeup and brittle personality, there is/was an actual human being.
The Joker emerges as someone who, for all his insanity, has a very sobering (and sane)point to make about human behaviour and instincts, and the question as to whether he is right or not ultimately plays out through the film, and that is great writing. The Joker is rebooted from being the `classic entertaining villain' of the comics to a real nemesis: someone who attacks not on a physical level (though he does that too) but striking at the very beliefs you hold, and Batman's whole rationale. Batman wants to be a symbol, and it is that symbol the Joker wants to tear down, everything else is just grist for the mill.

I particularly liked Gary Oldman's performance - very easy to miss since he has no hero suit or gadgetry to rely on.

The DVD is solid - very much like the first film in terms of content. There's no commentary, just like last time, but enough other material to keep you watching. Am I wrong in thinking that there will be another edition at some point with the commentary - like Nolan did with the 3 disc edition of Momento? Let's hope so.

Controversial opinion time: they shouldn't make another one. Why? I think they would struggle to top this. It's Empire Strikes Back for Batfans - tragedy, great characterisation, unexpected plot turns.
Do I hope they make another one? Of course!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 11, 2008 6:06 PM GMT

The Ice Harvest [DVD]
The Ice Harvest [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £4.89

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Little cheer in sight..., 1 Dec. 2008
This review is from: The Ice Harvest [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this film second-hand on the off-chance: director Ramis has, of course, done the fantastic Groundhog Day, and having read the brief synopsis, it sounded like a darkly comic 'christmas crime noir' (and there's a genre we need more of!)

The problem this film has is a lack of ANY sympathetic characters. Even John Cusak's character - who is obviously meant to be the (very weak) moral centre of things just isn't generating enough on-screen empathy: he is, at best, neutral, and that's not enough.

The black humour is fleeting and largely flat, but most of all there's no SPARK: the setting and set-up ought to deliver great moment after great moment, but sadly not.
I didn't expect to see Santa every two minutes or a Capra-esque ending, but a big part of the pitch for this was the festive setting which is hardly referenced at all. Also, and this is a rare one for me to moan about: I didn't like the general tone towards women in the story as a whole. Usually, I'm your standard ignorant-bloke on this type of thing, but even I became a little tired of the uniformaly negative and/or weak role-call of female characters - it only really hit me when I was pondering it all in the days following.

I can't fault the DVD package (commentary, alternate endings - proper ones too, not the usual attempts at that where someone says or does something slightly differently, so as to just meet the dictionary definition of 'alternative') so perhaps in the end it just wasn't my cup of tea. John Cusak is always worth a watch, but I think here everyone is struggling to find their places in the story, and so much seems to happen off-screen or be simply referred to by characters rather than shown, it all came off very flat.

NO ho ho!

Wristcutters - A Love Story [2007] [DVD]
Wristcutters - A Love Story [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous)
Offered by babsbargains *** WORLDWIDE SHIPPING ***
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, 27 Nov. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's nice to see Patrick Fugit (him from 'almost famous') moving on with his career. This is a sort of 'oddessy of the afterlife' Jim Jarmuch kind of thing. It won't suit everyone but if you like a bit of a challenge, I'd recommend it.

No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars The biggest disappointment of 2008?, 6 Nov. 2008
I could hardly wait when I heard there was another film with BOTH Pacino and DeNiro coming out - I'm sure everybody remembers `Heat' and particularly that great coffee shop scene. So it was a real disappointment to find this low-grade job when I went to the cinema. Veering between whodunit-type pro-forma cop buddy-movie, and `intensive character study', it simply doesn't know what it wants to be.

I may be way off but it feels like they had a small cop thriller with a twist ending, then suddenly Al and Bob come on board and it's: "quick! We need some character depth" and hey presto before you know it people are seeing psychiatrists and anguishing about `their place in the world' and having `troubled relationships.'
But what can you do when the two biggest actors in the world want to do the film together?

It almost feels now like `Heat' was as good as it is ever going to get: the suggestion of them together is, perhaps, weirdly, better than them actually PROPERLY appearing together in a film. I don't know - as a long time fan of both actors I was left disappointed and confused. Also, DeNiro looked awful in the film - really unhealthy and bloated; whereas Pacino is much same as he always is, but - unless it was some classic DeNiro `methoding' on the role (and of course you never know, it COULD BE) - that was a bit of a sadness.

Don't get me wrong, it's not outright rubbish, but at best it's a miss-match: a B-movie weighed down by massive expectations because of the stars involved. And I don't think those expectations are that unreasonable, given the almost uniqueness (and big selling point, let's be honest here) of paring Pacino and DeNiro.

Am I wrong?

The Box of Delights [DVD]
The Box of Delights [DVD]
Dvd ~ Devin Stanfield
Offered by A1tradingGB
Price: £9.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time and tide, and buttered eggs wait for no man...., 4 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Box of Delights [DVD] (DVD)
This fantastic film is one of the very few DVDs that I would recommend sight-unseen to anyone. If you are a little tired of `It's a Wonderful Life' and `Holiday Inn' then I can't think of anything else which will get you into the Christmas spirit more easily.

The Box of delights is one of the best children's productions the BBC have ever done, and for a variety of reasons has managed to achieve longevity. A key factor is the approach to visual effects. A generous helping of animation mixed with real action has helped keep it seeming different and fresh, even though it's now over 20 years old. There just aren't many films or programmes which have made use of this technique so well. At the other end of the scale, a lot of it feels like a theatre production. There are people in animal suits for example - no attempt to try to make them look anything other than what they are, and it works really well.

The other great thing is that John Masefield's story has been left intact. True, there is more happening in the book than occurs on screen, but omissions are purely practical (the budget was big, but not unlimited) and the story doesn't suffer, and all characters are intact.

Set in the 1930s at the start of the school Christmas holidays for young Kay Harker, returning from boarding school, it captures a rare innocence and spirit of adventure. The time-set and social placing of the characters makes it doubly interesting. Foreign viewers probably think England still is like this: the wealthy parents gone away skiing, the charming governess and humble driver, the avuncular village constable and the snow covered rolling hills. It's the sense of an idealised pre-WWII world which gives the whole thing it's viability. If it had been set in the 1980s (when it was made) I don't think it would have worn so well, but placing it during the era that the book was written is a masterstroke.

The other really smart move they made was to cast superb actors in the adult roles. Patrick Troughton is brilliant as the aged, magical showman. He exudes mystery and wonder - anyone who thinks he was good in Doctor Who really should check this out. And also Robert Stephens as the diabolical Abner Brown, chomping his way magnificently through every scene he is in. The story is dotted with great character actors: the magic-trick obsessed PC, the enigmatic Hotel Landlady ,and I still maintain that the Herne the Hunter appearing here deserves his own series...
You could almost get lost in some side-street story of these peripheral characters alone. In a way, there is a sense of a very early Harry-Potter type world and adventures going on. And the language! You could ponder for weeks on phrases like `the purple pym' or `my ruby, my graven image' the words just drip from the tongue...

Devin Stanfield as young Kay Harker is just the right balance of upper-class `Gosh and Golly' and daring-do adventure. It is strange then, as the chunky-length interviews with him and director Renny Rye show, he didn't want to pursue acting and this was the last role he took on.

It's a tribute to such whimsical story telling that the very end, which should by all reasonable standards make you groan out loud, actually enhances the whole thing! It almost drags you back the beginning, like some sort of Escher painting.
It has always been a mystery to me why the BBC only really showed this series twice. I remember clearly the first run of 6 half-hour shows, finishing on Christmas Eve. Then they showed it again slightly trimmed down a couple of years later - infact I think I'm right in saying that the US version was heavily edited down to around 90mins! Well, here's your chance to enjoy the full experience.

The DVD is lovingly done: a solid interview with grown-up Kay (AKA Devin Stanfield) and director Renny Rye. A commentary track would have been wonderful, but perhaps too much to hope for. There are some other features/mini documentaries, but the 3-ish hour `film' (for that is really what it amounts to) is the main event. Picture quality is very good, and the lovely music rings out clearly.
Like other reviewers, the watching of this has become and annual event for me. I'm all grown up, but don't intend to stop watching it at Christmas anytime soon.

For some reason it seems as though the copies of this DVD are running out! It was only released a few years ago but as of winter 2008 Amazon don't seem to have any in stock and the only option is to buy second-hand. So act quickly, and get your own copy to bring out once a year and watch: it's becoming a generational thing. I'm planning on saving my DVD for my future grandchildren!!

Strait Jacket [DVD]
Strait Jacket [DVD]
Dvd ~ Shinji Ushiro
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £12.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, 24 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Strait Jacket [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A sort of steampunk terminator kind of thing. Looks great but falls down with clunky dialogue and charaterisastion. I wonder if this is a result of translation issues?

Worth checking out but not as good as something like, say, 'Origin.'

In a Dark, Dark House (All Aboard Reading - Level Pre 1 (Quality))
In a Dark, Dark House (All Aboard Reading - Level Pre 1 (Quality))
by Jennifer A Dussling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, 15 Oct. 2008
I can't believe there aren't any reviews for this brilliant piece of work!!

A great stepping stone for pictures-to-words, my little boy loved it when he was small, so I bought a new copy for my daughter and she loves it too!
The book gives kids just what they want: a young boy, a haunted house, a scary monster, and a safe and secure ending. The rendering of the monster is just right, too, for the younger mind.

A very short book but one they want you to read again and again...until they start to read it by themselves.

Parents: buy without fear!!

Little Star
Little Star
by Andi Watson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a diamond in the sky..., 15 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Little Star (Paperback)
A little gem of a graphic. England-based (which is always nice)and dealing with a new(ish) father's life and career struggles. The portrayal of the early days of parenthood is spot on: his little daughter is a little nugget of love and frustration.

The shock to the pysche once you are totally responsible for another life is very well done, and if anything lets it down it's the lack of a meaningful narrative leaving us happy and well rounded at the end.

I will certainly be checking out the author's other stuff...

The Tattooist [DVD]
The Tattooist [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason Behr
Price: £5.47

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uh Oh..., 15 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The Tattooist [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was actually quite up for the whole concept here - I can't recall tattooing ever being prominent in any film I've seen. Alas, my hopes were dashed by this weird little film which comes over like a cores between the first Hellraiser and The Grudge. I wanted to like it, but it was all too predictable and uninspired. One or two scary moments (a bit scary) but I expected a better experience. Also: why the periodic watermark and running time on the screen? That was annoying.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2008 8:33 PM BST

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