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The Wolverine [Blu-ray]
The Wolverine [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman
Price: £9.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, the series is back on its feet., 23 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Wolverine [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Not without its minor dialogue hiccups or gaps in logic, Manigold still delivers a solid and moving thrill ride. Taking the time to delve into Wolverine's psyche and his own fears gives the character flesh and gravitas previously absent, and mixed with Jackman's strongest performance to date, that's make for gripping viewing. Add to that some excellent action scenes (especially an inventive battle on top of a bullet train), an exciting yet understated score from Marco Beltrami that never goes overboard, and some top notch effects work, and you have a rather solid superhero film with a little extra.

Conan the Barbarian [DVD]
Conan the Barbarian [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason Momoa
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Conan The Indifferent, 20 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Conan the Barbarian [DVD] (DVD)
Incredibly jumbled up and all over the place, Marcus Nispel's take on the iconic barbarian simply tries to be too much at once. A jack of all trades of Conan films, in fact, with really clumsy action (save for a neat set piece involving sand warriors), tonal inconsistencies that go from overly serious & dark to low humour and Momoa's child-like grin (pearly white, as we know all barbarian dentures are, right?), and a patchwork narrative that feels like several scripts & takes on Conan sewn together as one Frankensteinian behemoth. This only serves to further compound the unevenness and lack of balance, and making for a frustrating viewing experience.

However, a suitable engaging score by Tyler Bates (300) and the enjoyable hamminess of Rose McGowan and Stephen Lang, as well as a legitmately good turn from the always dependable Ron Perlman as Conan's murdered father, do keep this from being unwatchable. That, and being closer to the source material by Robert E. Howard is admirable, but it just isn't enough to salvage a mediocre reboot like this one.

And Justice For All [DVD]
And Justice For All [DVD]
Dvd ~ Al Pacino

5.0 out of 5 stars Out of order?! YOU'RE out of order for not watching this sooner!, 19 Feb. 2014
This review is from: And Justice For All [DVD] (DVD)
Lawyer Arthur Kirkland (Pacino) is an idealistic yet tough young defense attorney, often butting heads with a strict judge (John Forsythe) while also acquainted with a suicidal one (Jack Warden), leading to some of the film's biggest laughs. One day, however, Kirkland fortunes are irreversible change when he must defend the former judge on a rape charge, even though the man is guilty.

Surprisingly funny despite the serious subject matter, Jewison's film explores the madness and hypocrisies of the American judicial system. This is spearheaded by yet another masterful performance from Pacino, who proves he has decent comedy chops while still giving us all the doubt and anxiety of a man in this strange and stressful position. Furthermore, while the humour takes on an absurd streak (including a hysterical sequence where Kirkland and the suicidal judge go for a helicopter ride when it's low on fuel) it has a definite darkness to it, and only serves to emphasize just how messed up the whole thing is, whether it be a fellow defense lawyer who goes mad following the acquittal of a murderer who kills again, or a sue-happy client who turns out to have his fingers in the seedier underbelly.

Really, I have no honest faults with the film, though some may feel the combination of darkly cartoonish humour and courtroom intrigue just a little uneven. It's a great bland of two genres that don't normally go together, and it's one of Pacino's finest, and most entertaining, works.

Dark Shadows [DVD]
Dark Shadows [DVD]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by direct-2-u
Price: £3.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Not Tim Burton's Addams Family, 14 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Dark Shadows [DVD] (DVD)
Based on the gothic soap opera, Tim Burton's take centers on Barnabas Collins (Depp), an 18th century noble cursed to become a vampire by a witch (Eva Green) obsessed with him. He awakes 2 centuries later to find his family (made up of the like of Michelle Pfieffer, Chloe Grace-Moretz, Johnny Lee Miller and Gulliver McCrath) in shambles, and the witch now runs the biggest fishing business in town. Armed with his undead power and old fashioned views, Barnabas sets out to rebuild the family fortune and defeat the witch who put him in this predicament so long ago.

Perhaps uneven and overblown, Burton's horror-comedy tries to be many things, and isn't exactly bad at any one. Part of this is due to its very talented cast, including a wonderfully straight-faced Pfieffer and smoking-hot Green hamming it up, alongside a surprisingly not overly zany Depp. This is alongside impressive gothic sets, especially the Collins Mansion, that show good money has been spent, and feels like a giant love letter to classic Hammer. Add a refreshingly zany, 70s-infused score from Elfman that calls back to the days of Beetlejuice and Flubber, and you have a film that never has a dull moment, and certainly has a number of amusing scenes.

However, its less than stellar reception is not unfounded: it does relish its darkness a little too much, going from silly gags to Barnabas mass murdering people without much grace (though it's not as relentlessly wacky or silly as the marketing made many people think. This ain't Addams Family) and the story does occasionally stretch itself a little thin, with some 'oh-lord-people-still-write-that!' cliched lines, and a couple of twists in the last third coming out of nowhere just to give the supporting cast some way to fight Green's witch. And there's a scene involving someone being blown, which was more for shock value and feels like glorified fan-service.

But despite the hiccups, I quite enjoyed myself with 'Dark Shadows'. It's not 'Tim Burton's Addams Family' in the slightest, despite what the marketing may tell you: think of it as more a Hammer throwback with comical elements. Let's hope the best for Beetlejuice 2.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn [DVD]
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Price: £3.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spielberg is back to top form, 8 Feb. 2014
Based on Herge's beloved comics, Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a young reporter on the trail of a lost treasure after coming into possession of a model of the ship 'The Unicorn'. However, other forces are at work in the form of businessman Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig), also seeking the lost fortune. Along his travels, Tintin teams up with the lovable drunk Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), descendant of the Unicorn's captain, to thwart Sakharine's schemes. Adventure ensues...

One of the best and most fun adventures to hit the silver screen in a long time, Spielberg's take on the Belgian icon is unapologetic, old fashioned matinee fun, with dynamic animation and breath taking action sequences, some even done in one long take like a chase through a Morrocan city. Seriously, if someone makes a list or book on great film action sequences, and forgets this, it's a crime in defiance of the Geneva Convention! This is further assisted by great performances from a strong cast, especially a wonderfully manic Serkis as Haddock and an unrecognizable Craig as the villain. Add in razor sharp pacing and generous helpings of humour, no shock given Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish had a hand in writing, and you have a well rounded ride.

Honestly, if I had anything to complain about, it's maybe that John Williams' theme isn't as memorable as it should be, sounding more like a 60s spy film than grand adventure, and maybe The Thompsons (played by Frost and Pegg) are exploited for a few cheap slapstick laughs, but hey, I chuckled all the same.

In closing, Spielberg and Jackson succeed with flying colours, and if 'Pirates' or 'Crystal Skull' has jaded you, then 'Tintin' may very well be the high adventure you're so badly looking for.

The Musketeer [DVD] [2002]
The Musketeer [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Justin Chambers
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh Where, Oh Where, did This go so very, very wrong, 31 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Musketeer [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
I doubt I need to explain the plot. It's Three Musketeers, nuff said. However this time, it has action choreographed by Hong Kong master Xin Xin Xiong (martials arts buffs among you may recognize the name).

Neat production values and some interesting kung-fu/swashbuckling set pieces, like sword duels on the side of a tower or across ladders, aside, this is a really dull, lackluster version of the classic adventure (at least W.S' mess had some steampunk thrown in, and even Disney gave us the forever badass Michael Wincott and a rather amusing Oliver Platt).

OH BOY, OH BOY, where to start? Well, the performances are flat-as-shot-tires all around, with the normally terrific Stephen Rea as a seemingly always monotone Richeleu being especially inexcusable. Mix that with thin characters that aren't engaging or lively in the slightest, and a plot that oversimplifies the story absurdly to focus solely on D'Artagnan, making the other Musketeers almost redundant, as well as even more lifeless (the witty repartee and banter, as well as 'All for One' friendship that almost every other version has? Completely Absent). And as if this cake needed more icing, the utterly generic score from the otherwise talented David Arnold (Stargate, Sherlock) that doesn't do much adrenaline pumping, nor has any real whimsy or levity to it.

In the end, this is the text-book definition of 'unnecessary'. The concept of swashbuckling+kung fu should make for, at least, good cheesy fun, but when that is the ONE and ONLY thing your movie has going for it, you have officially failed as a film maker.

Alexander The Great [DVD] [1956]
Alexander The Great [DVD] [1956]
Dvd ~ Richard Burton
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £4.52

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alexander The Underwhelming, 23 Jan. 2014
In 1956, Robert Rossen was a hot potato, proving himself a powerhouse writer and director. Like many before and after, he decided to venture into the territory of grand spectacle. And with success of DeMille and Huston, Rossen also ventured into history, bringing the life of Greece's most iconic leader to life. How does it fare?

Incredibly melodramatic and surprisingly tacky, Rossen's tale of the Macedonian conqueror is a lot of things. Despite a talented cast boasting the likes of Burton, Cushing, Baker and March, the production values are embarrassingly poor, be it fake costumes (just look at 'Ben-Hur' for comparison) or passing off 50s Spain as Ancient Macedon, compounded by Mario Nascimbene's droning, percussion heavy score. Furthermore, the film is very lopsided when it comes to Alexander's life, focusing exclusively on his upbringing and campaign against Persia, glossing over the Indian campaign , the mass Greek/Persian marriages and ultimately, the man's final legacy to the world; the union of cultures.

While it may also be melodramatic and a little uneven, Stone's 'Alexander' is the more engaging, as well as more competently produced, of the two.

Revolution: The Director's Cut (DVD & Blu-ray) [1985]
Revolution: The Director's Cut (DVD & Blu-ray) [1985]
Dvd ~ Al Pacino
Price: £15.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cuts of Revolution: Complete Analysis, 17 Jan. 2014
Massacred on release, with Pacino as a fur trapper caught up in the Revolutionary War, this mid-80s American epic now has the chance for re-evaluation in this BFI special edition, featuring the original and reworked ('Revisited') versions. How do they stack up?

So, Theatrical Cut: Well, much like, say, 'Heaven's Gate' I'm just sitting back and wondering 'What movie did the critics see back in the 80s?' Granted, this version of Revolution is not perfect, but still has some merits to it that make a decent viewing experience.

While the story is a little unbalanced, mainly due to some choppy editing and sudden location shifts, and the love story is a tad simplistic and hokey, Revolution overcomes that thanks to the handheld (a new concept back in the 80s before every action director thought it was 'so intense' and aped it) cinematography, given the film a quasi-documentary aesthetic, which very much fits the main idea of the film; telling the story of the revolution from the perspective of an ordinary man and his son, caught up in major events against their wishes, and foregoing a lot of the pomp this genre tends to have. Add that to a fine roster of performances, Pacino once again commanding the screen and reminding us why he is one of the great actors of his generation (and his psuedo cockney-bronx accent actually fits, considering A) this was before the states really established their own identities, so specific dialects didn't exist yet and B) New York is shown as a mix of people and cultures, mainly a lot of English, Irish and Scots, so it doesn't feel out of place or odd), solid production values that really make Southern England look like Colonial America, and a grand orchestral score by John Corigiliano that mixes of the pomp of Williams/Vangelis with some of the more moving elements of a Horner/Goldsmith piece, and you have a fairly entertaining, if choppy, film.

The 2009 director's cut removes about 10 minutes of footage and adds a new narration from Pacino.

Thoughts? While it moves along at a slightly slicker pace, the narration, though very well performed by Pacino, is hit or miss: it's more reflective, often times wondering about why things were the way they were (as opposed to most movie narration, which usually spoonfeeds things we can already see) and this does give his character a little more depth, as well as learn more about his background. However, director Hugh Hudson occasionally put the narration in irritating places, sometimes repeating what a character either says or is about to say, or amounts to just two lines said during a short break.

Plus, despite cutting some footage, the occasional choppiness of the editing still rears its head again (a particularly hilarious guff where, for a second, the British soldiers at the first battle flash orange. It was in the first cut, and it's still here!) and that sudden shift from one location to another, often in the middle of sound (a crowd, singing, a bit of the score) still goads me, and I'm wondering how someone as experienced as Hudson could be so clumsy.

But, when all is said and done, this cut of Revolution does streamline the film more, and focuses more on the father-son aspect, and brings the idea of the ordinary man at a major historical moment more to the forefront. Revolution may have its faults, but it was a ballsy film for the time, and if you go in expecting more historical drama than big budget historical epic, Hudson's film will, I hope, give you something to remember, and it isn't a bad way to spend two hours.


Patch Adams [DVD] [1999]
Patch Adams [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Robin Williams
Price: £4.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A diagnosis of 'Mediocus Lackus', 17 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Patch Adams [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
The film, from Ace Ventura director Tom Shadyac, recounts the story of Dr. 'Patch' Hunter Adams, who changed the way doctors interacted with their patients, believing that humour and openess would do more to assist in recovery than cold, clinical distance.

Though Robin Williams tries hard to infuse his trademark lovable zane, and Marc Shaiman provides a suitably moving score with a very touching opening piano piece, this late 90s dramedy is full of uncalled, and ultimately pointless, changes to a far more interesting history (such as changing Patch's murdered friend from a man to a woman for the sake of a love story). Even when that element is taken out, it's just plain weak storytelling that dumbs down the American medical profession, and all the major, hard questions about it, to simple cartoon stereotypes so that the audience can lazily root for Patch against these 'mean, cold' doctors. This isn't helped by incredibly sappy dialogue (written by the same man as Barnyard, may I add) that renders the characters completely cardboard and flat, taking out more humanity from what should be a very human tale of relationships.

It is not entirely unwatchable, thanks to the lead's work, score and Shadyac does show he can handle filming drama well, giving the film a nice, warm colour palette, but when mixed with all the changes and poor writing, it just becomes straight up disinteresting.

Jack The Giant Slayer [DVD + UV Copy] [2013]
Jack The Giant Slayer [DVD + UV Copy] [2013]
Dvd ~ Stanley Tucci
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £7.17

3.0 out of 5 stars Fee Fi Fo Fum, I Smell Average-ness!, 13 Jan. 2014
In short, a modern retelling of the much beloved fairy tale of a young boy who gets magic beans, a stalk grows from them and leads up to a kingdom of giants.

Ultimately just 'there', Bryan Singer's fantasy adventure just feels like an exercise in 'box ticking' without much gusto. This is thanks to unfinished effects (including a horrible prologue sequence that looks like a PS1 cutscene in a poor attempt to three dimensional wood carvings), as well as flat action and extreme 'been there, done that' writing with no real charm or fun, which is in dire need for how often we've seen this tale on screen, as well as the very talented Christopher McQuarrie (Usual Suspects, Jack Reacher) being onboard.

However, its charismatic cast do try, with Stanley Tucci being enjoyably hammy and slimy as a Jafar-esque advisor while Ian McShane and Ewan MacGregor make for commanding figures, and John Ottman provides a suitably bold and bombastic score ala classic John Williams that amps up what little adventure there is with a full orchestra. But they can't save a film that was reworked a lot during production, and amounts to very little other than 'cute' distraction.

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