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A. Mckellar "Andymack" (Wokingham, Berkshire)

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The Incredible Hulk [DVD]
The Incredible Hulk [DVD]
Dvd ~ Edward Norton
Price: 3.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is That All You've Got, 26 Feb 2010
This review is from: The Incredible Hulk [DVD] (DVD)
Having been transformed into the Hulk, Bruce Banner has escaped to Brazil away from those in the US army desperate to capture him. After months without being detected he is slowly managing to get a grip on controlling the beast within. That is until the Army discover where he is and come looking for him. Still searching for a cure Bruce evades capture but knows his only chance of becoming normal again is to return to the United States despite the real possibility the Army might find him.

There have been so many poor comic book adaptations that until recently you could count the good ones on one hand. In fact even the original Hulk movie was pretty poor but the series has been reinvented under a new director and a new lead actor. These changes have lead to a much better and far more enjoyable movie the second time round and at times it made you forget that there had even been a movie made in 2003 let alone remembering how bad it actually was.

Louis Leterrier who was the man behind the 2nd Transporter movie and is currently working on the forthcoming Clash Of The Titans movie occupies the director's chair for this second instalment. The improvement is significant as the film seems to flow a lot easier and feels a lot more enjoyable than the first movie. The special effects are still stunning and work very well at creating the Hulk as realistically as you can with a giant green monster. Of course whether it be the Hulk himself or the action sequences it seems that Leterrier has really shown what a Hollywood action version of a comic book should be about.

Of course the movie is full of explosions and special effects but it also has a plot which I feel is sadly missing from a lot of these big budget versions. Of course it helps that the script was written by one of the writers behind the successful X-Men series, Zak Penn. the X-Men movies are by far my favourite comic book adaptation movies and by getting Penn on board for The Incredible Hulk it brings far more cohesion to the plot and makes the story a lot more enjoyable.

Like all major Hollywood franchises if a cast doesn't work then simply replace them and that's exactly what has happened here. Along with departing director Ang Lee went Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliott and it's fair to say their replacements do a far better job. In the lead role the casting of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner is perfect. He has the ability to capture the essence of the character and seems to have the ability to display a much wider range of emotion than Bana.

It also helps that there appears to be a great deal of chemistry between him and Jennifer Connelly's replacement Liv Tyler. During their scenes together you actually get a real feeling for their relationship. With William Hurt completing the line up of replacements I think the casting was far better this time around. The real star of the show though was Tim Roth who played the determined Army Sergeant desperate to make a difference and after his initial encounter with the Hulk wants to discover his secret. The casting of Roth is perfect and he really suits the part combining a sense of national pride with a personal desire.

Overall this second attempt at a movie version of The Incredible Hulk works far better than the original back in 2003. It would seem the studios are finally seeing the importance of getting these right and the success they could potentially achieve. Hopefully in the future decent comic book movies will become the rule rather than the exception. I'd thoroughly recommend this movie as a decent 112 minutes of entertainment. It doesn't try to hard or take itself too seriously, which I think is exactly why it works.

Over Her Dead Body [DVD]
Over Her Dead Body [DVD]
Dvd ~ Eva Longoria
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.10

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When Three Can Certainly Be A Crowd, 26 Feb 2010
This review is from: Over Her Dead Body [DVD] (DVD)
When Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) is killed on her wedding day she is assigned a mission by an angel before she gets into heaven. The only problem is she wasn't really listening and has no idea what her mission actually is. Her former fiancée Henry (Paul Rudd) is finding it hard and with encouragement from his sister turns to a psychic to make contact with Kate. After a couple of sessions he starts to feel a little differently about her and that's where Kate returns as she is convinced she'd meant to stop Henry getting hurt and must do whatever she can to stop Ashley (Lake Bell) from hurting Henry.

Ever since Jenny moved into the flat I seem to spend more time watching out and out chick flicks than the action films I used to watch. This was the latest in a long line of them and while I really wasn't sure about it before we relaxed on the sofa I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It's not that Over Her Dead Body provided anything new in terms of comedy or scripting, it was just a good, easy going and enjoyable film. It probably helped that I was feeling a little ill before we started watching it, but it did seem to fulfil all the criteria of an easy going and relaxing movie.

This is the first film from director Jeff Lowell as he makes the step from simply writer to writer and director. He has previously worked as a writer and producer for TV sitcoms such as Spin City and Just Shoot Me. I thought he actually took the step to director rather well. Obviously there are quite a few complexities in filming a movie where one of the lead characters can only be seen by one person and he seems to pull it off well. The most important aspect for him was getting the chemistry right between his lead characters and I think he did this rather well.

It's in the script that Lowell actually makes this a watchable film. The characters are quite well written and in fact the cast helps to make the characters likeable. The instant acceptance of Paul Rudd as Henry for instance really helps to convince you of the story and in particular each person's approach to their roles. While the script isn't anything exciting or new, it does exactly what it needs to and it may not be the most original 95 minutes of cinema time, it's something simple and enjoyable.

If it hadn't been for some very clever casting I think this movie would have really flopped. I wasn't sure whether the two lead characters would have the desired chemistry to pull it off after their initial screen meeting but I was pleasantly surprised at the level of apparent attraction between Paul Rudd and Lake Bell. I wasn't particularly familiar with either before the movie, other than Rudd's appearance in Friends but both seemed to take to the roll well and ended up becoming very convincing in their roles.

I hadn't been particularly familiar with Eva Longoria Parker until recently either and while her role in the film is slightly more unconventional she does it quite well. She made the character her own and while you don't necessarily like her, you kind of feel sorry for her, even if the scene that kills her is perhaps the most ludicrous thing I've ever seen in a movie. There are also reasonably funny performances from Jason Briggs and Lindsay Slone too, which again help to make the film more watchable than perhaps it should be.

Overall I have to admit to being very surprised by Over Her Dead Body. I didn't really expect to like it and while I can't say it's not anything I haven't seen before, it surprised me by actually being reasonably enjoyable. There are some funny moments and while most men will only watch this movie because of a significant other it makes it reasonably painful. That said I couldn't justify spending money on this film and for that reason I'm glad it came as part of our lovefilm subscription. It's a reasonable film, but certainly not something I'll be watching again.

Ghost Town [Blu-ray] [2008]
Ghost Town [Blu-ray] [2008]
Dvd ~ Ricky Gervais
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 5.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only Floss The Teeth That You Want To Keep., 4 Dec 2009
This review is from: Ghost Town [Blu-ray] [2008] (DVD)
This is one of those films that looked really good on the adverts and while I had a little trepidation about watching it, I decided to go into it with an open mind. My main concern was whether a comedy about a Dentist who could interact with dead people would work and particularly as Gervais was taking the lead role. Despite my slight concerns I can honestly say that I really enjoyed the film and as romantic dead comedies go it was particularly funny.

It's a slightly different type of movie to the usual films from director David Koepp with his previous films including Secret Window and Stir of Echoes. He has put this film together particularly well and the special effects are really well done. In particular the sneeze as someone walks through one of the ghosts is a very clever concept. He uses some very clever camera work and creates some very amusing scenes. His direction and use of the lighting and sound work particularly well and I was very impressed with the finished article.

With Koepp also taking on part of the script writing with John Camps it meant that the script and direction stayed true to the original vision. The plot travels at a reasonable pace and while it doesn't follow quite the regular path you would expect it works as something slightly different. The character of Pincus is very well written and you really get a good feel for how he is and as the films progress and you find out more about him you start to understand his hatred of pretty much anyone.

The role of Pincus is portrayed particularly well by Ricky Gervais in his first lead role in a Hollywood movie. He adapts to the part particularly well and this dispelled one of my earlier worries. I was expecting to see just another version of the Office's David Brent but thankfully Gervais did something a little different with Pincus and it worked very well. You want to hate him because of his attitude to everyone, but as you learn more about him and he comes out of his shell you grow to like him. I feel I should warn you though if you're not a fan of Gervais and his humour this isn't a film for you.

While the film really appears to be a vehicle to launch Gervais in America there are also a couple of good performances from his supporting cast. In particular Greg Kinnear's performance as the dead cheating husband Frank is particularly enjoyable. He plays the character well and while you find yourself won over by Gervais you love to hate Frank throughout. The other notable performance is from Tea Leoni who plays Frank's ex wife particularly well. There is some great chemistry between her and Gervais and i really felt that added a bit of conviction to their performances.

Overall I have to say that whilst I did have my concerns before sitting down to watch it, they were quickly dismissed. This is an enjoyable comedy film that plays on an old style of story and gives it a nice new twist. The soundtrack adds some real feeling to the movie and as well as countless funny moments there are some rather serious scene that Gervais in particular pulls of very well. If you're not a fan of Ricky Gervais this really isn't for you, otherwise it s a film that will make you laugh and if nothing else will pass 102 minutes of an evening without any problem at all.

Red Dragon: (Hannibal Lecter)
Red Dragon: (Hannibal Lecter)
by Thomas Harris
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Enter The Dragon, 4 Dec 2009
Having seen both of the previous Hannibal movies and read the books I decided to read this one after seeing the film adaptation of Red Dragon. This is the first book in the series from Thomas Harris that continues with Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. It all takes place before the events of those two books and acts as a brief introduction to the character whilst focussing on the actions and victims of the Red Dragon.

Originally this wasn't a hit in the same vein as Silence of the Lambs and its first adaptation, Manhunter, passed by largely unnoticed before the more recent version in 2002. I've read a few of Thomas Harris's books and I have to admit that this one is probably my favourite one of them all. He hooks you from the start and by mixing in the interesting character of not only the villain in this book The Red Dragon, but also the personality of Lector it really draws you into the story.

In fact Harris has done such a good job with the characterisation that you really feel a part of this story and you can actually imagine the characters he's describing. This gives you the feeling whilst you read that you are actually in the Leeds family home while Graham is looking around for any clues or motives. I think that's the best thing about Harris in that he really sparks your imagination and gets you involved in the storyline. His descriptive ability is second to none and he really can set a scene with what seems to be relative ease.

I found that the insight into the characters and the flow of the plot keeps you hooked for the entire 480 pages. In fact it's one of those books that once you start reading you have to just read a little more and then a little more as he engages you in the story making you want to find out if Graham can solve the case. He also gives you a unique view of both Lector and this books choice of bad guy and that too holds your interest.

It's a decent start to the Hannibal series and rather than focussing totally on Hannibal it introduces him gradually into the series. I found it to be a fascinating read that I just simply couldn't put down and had to keep on reading. Like most books it is far better than the film version and I would recommend reading this if you haven't already. There are a few disturbing parts with the gruesome killings but I think Harris does this incredibly well. If you're a fan of crime thrillers then

by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars With Numbers, Truth And Beauty Are The Same Thing, 4 Dec 2009
This review is from: Enigma (Paperback)
This was the second novel by Robert Harris a former journalist and TV reporter with the BBC. This was not only his second book but the second of his books I'd read after reading and thoroughly enjoying Fatherland. This time though unlike his hypothetical what if the German's won the war, he turned his attention to a fictional account of real events in war torn Britain.

Throughout the book there are a number of interesting twists that hold your attention and Harris does it particularly well. He creates a very real picture through his very vivid descriptions and although he has been criticised by people who worked at Bletchley during the war for an inaccurate description of the place it works for the purpose of this book. Of course by not making it identical to the real thing it adds to the fiction side of things and I believe that will have been the angle that Harris will have been aiming for.

There was a danger that Harris could have become far too bogged down in the technical aspects of the Enigma machine and the decoding process. Thankfully he side steps what would have been a massive pit fall in this story and keeps the focus on his characters battles.

Like his previous novel I found the lead characters to be compelling. His descriptions of each kept you intrigued and his characterisation works really well. He gives you a very real picture in your mind of the setting of each scene and the characters involved that were later realised when the film version starring Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet hit our screens. As story it is a slow starter but once past those first 50 or so pages the pace really picks up and it's then that Harris really grabs your attention.

His descriptions an characterisations are his real strengths and while the story does struggle slightly at the start it soon picks up. He gives you a feeling of being involved in the story and having put major research into the layout of Bletchley he at least creates an intriguing scene for the story, even if the story isn't all that representative of live on the base.

Overall the main thing is that despite a relatively slow start it settles down rather quickly into what has now become a recognised style for Harris. It's a good thriller that keeps the twists and turns coming and once it settles down it becomes a very addictive read. It's in a slightly different vein to the topics covered in Fatherland but Harris seems to be able to take an idea for a story and really bring it to life with what seems like relative ease. It has its slower moments but these are forgiven in a book that hooks you.

Lance Armstrong: The World's Greatest Champion
Lance Armstrong: The World's Greatest Champion
by John Wilcockson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars From The Edge Of Cancer To The World's Greatest, 24 Nov 2009
Having read both of Lance Armstrong's autobiographies I was intrigued when I saw the new book on Lance by John Wilcockson. It was a book I knew as soon as I seen it that I would want to read it and find out a little more about the Tour De France's greatest champion. I've read both of his previous books written by Lance himself but this time Wilcockson has interviewed his close friends and family to get more of an insight into the man who has become not only the most famous cyclist of all time but also one of the biggest names in the fight against cancer in the world.

Of course most people will know the basis of Lance's story, how he was a great prospect in the cycling world until he was struck down by testicular cancer. He then went on 18 months later to start a winning streak that may never be equalled when he won the first of 7 Tour De France races in a row. This book though gives an insight into how the people closest to Lance viewed him growing up, through his cancer diagnoses and treatment and the desire and drive that has seen him make a comeback to the cycling world at the start of this season.

The book is written around the same time that Lance decided to make his return to the world of cycling at the age of 37 and the book deals with everything up to that point. With experienced cycling writer Wilcockson writing the book it meant that one of the journalists who perhaps knows Lance better than any other, having interviewed him hundreds of times was the best choice to take on this project.

The first thing that struck me about the book was the rather clever style adopted by Wilcockson. It seemed slightly strange to start with but by interspersing comments from Lance's friends and family into the narrative it makes the book a more compelling read. He holds the readers interest well with interviews from all the key people in Lance's life from his Mother and Auntie to close school friends and even his father who adopted him at a young age but hasn't spoken to him since splitting from his mum.

It gives a more personable view of Lance than his own autobiographies had in the past. From reading this account you get a good idea of what drives Lance to become the rider he did from his tough upbringing to his desire to be the best at what he does. While the book is about Armstrong himself there aren't as many comments from him as you would expect and I think that gives a nice balance and a good opportunity to find out who Lance Armstrong really is.

I've always been fascinated by Lance's story since his first Tour De France win back in 1999 and this is another opportunity to learn a bit more about that period of his life too. It deals with his rivalries and what really drove him to make his original comeback. From the opening pages of this book, just like Lance's own two books I was hooked and couldn't put the book down as I learnt a little bit more about a man I think is one of the greatest sportsman of all time.

There probably aren't too many people who aren't aware of Lance's story and the magnitude of what he achieved. This book expands on that a little further and perhaps details Lance and his success slightly better than his own books did. I feel that Wilcockson really draws the reader in and provides you with just about everything you need to know about Lance. He hasn't just regurgitated Lance's own books and perhaps that's why this is so good as rather than dealing with Lance's own views on the subject, by talking to friends and relatives it creates a greater overall picture. I've always thought that Lance's story is one that would inspire a lot of people and this book by John Wilcockson only helps to emphasise that point.

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