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Benminx "benminx" (Plymouth)

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Warcraft [Blu-ray] [2016]
Warcraft [Blu-ray] [2016]
Dvd ~ Travis Fimmel
Price: £14.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thunderously good start to what will hopefully become a series., 14 Jun. 2016
As an ex-gamer of Warcraft (8 years ago) my main concern was complexity - would they be able to make a film based in such a complex world? One that would be understandable to non-gamers, and not anger the fans by drifting too far from the lore?
The good news is that I've been able to enjoy Warcraft both as a fantasy film buff and a fan of the game. Duncan Jones and team have crafted a clear-headed, compelling character-driven story that requires no previous knowledge of the games (but is liberally sprinkled with fantastic fan-pleasing ideas and images in almost every scene).
Clearly intending to set the stage for a franchise, they've tackled the first encounter between the Orcs who are fleeing a dying homeworld and the various species (primarily humans) of Azeroth - the new world they set upon. The decision to keep it simple pays dividends; the human and orc characters get fleshed out, with characterisation and dialogue well above the expected standard. Streamlining the focus also enables the director and his team to allow us glimpses of other treats the franchise may have in store down the road: magic is used liberally, and to gorgeous dramatic and visual effect, giant exotic beasts are ridden by both sides of the conflict (and are allowed behaviours, rather than just being a gimmick), and the cities look incredible. The human city of Stormwind feels fleshed out and detailed but in terms of fidelity, Jones has even kept the lakes and arches seen on entry when arriving in the videogame version - a touch sure to make gamers grin. We also get peeks at other races (terrific) but to keep it sleek, we mainly stick with the primary races.
Toby Kebbell is extremely good as Orc Chieftan 'Durotan', giving us a caring and thoughtful viewpoint for the Orcs. Travis Fimmel is very good as Anduin, the human we see the most. Dominic Cooper is a touch wooden as the King, but Ben Foster brings mystery and some depth to his character Medivh, and Ben Schnetzer shines as magician Khadgar - wisely allowed to be both naÔve and heroic where a lesser movie would have cast him merely as the comic relief.
While Kebbell is the standout on the Orc side, Paula Patton brings her half-Orc character Garona vividly to life, and Daniel Wu manages to bring considerable menace to his evil Orc leader Gul'dan.
The filming soars, sweeping into battle from the air or down country paths, and showing that Jones continues to improve with each film. You are rarely in any doubt about what's going on, despite the chaos of battle and abundance of CGI characters. That CGI is also notably better than expected - the Orcs feeling hefty and present when sharing the screen with the humans, and aided by the excellent motion-capture performances given by the actors.
Does it feel magical? Yes. Does it feel thrilling? Yes. It's also suitable for family viewing, but does contain some moderately strong violence. The only reason this isn't a 5-star rating is that despite being a well-judged and well written movie, it's such a flurry of action and detail that it almost feels a little overwhelming, and never quite manages that 'oh-my-god' heart-in-chest thrill of the supreme blockbusters.
But make no mistake, this is far from a damp squib. And if audience figures worldwide continue to rise, hopefully we'll get to see Warcraft 2 sometime soon.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2016 1:55 PM BST


Hellions [DVD]
Hellions [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chloe Rose
Price: £5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Great lead actress, let down by poor writing, directing and continuity., 10 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Hellions [DVD] (DVD)
Hellions is angling to be a Halloween classic - an aim written large across its none-more-Halloween-y setting (a town that thrives on pumpkins - the surrounding fields being awash with big orange orbs). Halloween is deliberately present in almost every scene and aspect of the movie - and it starts well with its aim. Chloe Rose is a likeable heroine, all gothed up in boots and eye shadow while wearing a frilly white dress and angel wings. She also gives good scream-queen mileage, able to handle the emotional ups and downs of her role as the pregnant teen whose house gets surrounded by mysteriously threatening little kids (or not kids...?).
What gets handled with les grace is the direction. It's brave, and starts well, with nicely framed and nicely slow-paced tension building scenes, but as soon as anything approaching plot or threat enters the picture it comes off the rails. Director McDonald is largely known for TV, and it shows. Scenes that should be rife with fear and stress are somehow just interesting to look at, and free of almost all tension. Later scenes are overly stylised, and the 'dreamlike' plot derails further and further as we near the end, devolving into about a full minute of jagged hump-cuts, loops and replays in one scene, which continue long after boredom and impatience have set in. It's indulgent photographic stylising at the total expense of plot...a plot that loses its way even further with the fate of once major player almost completely unresolved, and another more promising earlier character's potential to the story virtually wasted by the plotting. Unless they were pursuing the 'it was all a dream' angle, the continuity team would be doing a disservice to cinema if they were ever employed again, with more in-your-face errors than I remember ever seeing in a film before: - bloody handprints that disappear, turn into a smudge, come back, disappear again...a baby bump that appears, vanishes while the character stands up, then appears again (only smaller)...it adds up to a feeling that this was rushed and treated as a resume-filler by everyone except the main actress, who gave it more effort than it deserved. In some ways it's brave and inventive, but in most ways it's ham-fisted and absurd, with an under-developed bad-guy mythology and plotting that comes across as if it was written by a drunk. A messy wasted effort.


The Voices
The Voices
Dvd
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A quirky and bizarre comedy horror that's worth your time., 24 May 2016
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This review is from: The Voices (Blu-ray)
This is one of those movies that probably wouldn't work with different casting.
Reynolds manages to play lead character Jerry perfectly, his past roles and his likeable demeanour helping him to flip effortlessly from endearing goof to unnerving nut-case in an instant, while still keeping the audience's sympathy as his ex-asylum patient character struggles to fit into society and be a better person.
This is all handled with a light, comical touch but layered with dark humour and jokes that some audience members might feel are too gross or disturbing, as Jerry debates with his foul-mouthed evil cat and his loyal dopey dog, all while the heads in his fridge are perkily asking him about his day...
'The Voices' is brilliantly acted by all concerned, fully immersing themselves into Jerry's fantasy-land world, which we see almost exclusively through his eyes. It's also very well written, as we are occasionally allowed a glimpse into the true horror of his world, but it's handled with such a skillful touch that it doesn't destabilise the film.
A very unusual, occasional unsettling, and very interesting comedy-horror, with an absolute tour-de-force turn by Reynolds - once again showing why he's an actor who shouldn't be underestimated.


Hot Pursuit
Hot Pursuit
Dvd
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars A very formulaic - but still pleasantly fun - crime comedy, 24 May 2016
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This review is from: Hot Pursuit (Blu-ray)
Hot Pursuit tries hard to milk a film-length comedy out of very few major jokes. Witherspoon's short uptight cop is excessively by-the-book and has made several mistakes in her career. Vergara's tall lithe mob-wife is lax with the law, selfish and materialistic. That's pretty much it. Therefore when hitmen come after her mobster husband, Vergara's character has to go on the run with no-one but the annoying and potentially incompetent cop to protect her.
Much like every 'odd-couple struggle to cross the country while pursued' movie since Midnight Run, this follows a clear formula and they run into oddball situations and many characters who help or hinder them. Thankfully Vergara and Witherspoon get a little to do with their characters as well, who gradually become more rounded people than they were at the start of the journey. However, barring a small handful of minor surprises, this plays out very much the way you think it will, following a very predictable path. The jokes do too. Surprisingly, some of the most obvious jokes do manage to wind up being the funniest due to increasing absurdity, which is a feat to the credit of all concerned.
If you're after a light undemanding comedy, you could do worse.


No Escape
No Escape
Dvd
Price: £0.00

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nerve-racking thriller that verges on horror, 24 May 2016
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This review is from: No Escape (Blu-ray)
Americans abroad can be a thorny issue. If the film-makers get it right, you get a real feeling of being abroad, and the locals feel like rounded human beings (like the Spain depicted in 'Cold Light of Day'). If they get it wrong, it can still be thrilling, but the locals all come off as grubby or dangerous scumbags (eg: 'Taken'). At least 'No Escape' has some excuse for falling into the latter category, as Owen Wilson's family has landed just as a violent coup against the government is about to kick off.
The family are quite decently rounded;Wilson's lead is feeling like the bad guy after moving his unwilling family to Indonesia because of his job, and Lake Bell at first comes off as a little sulky as the wife who's miserable because of the move. The kids are decent, and play their roles well. However, Wilson and Bell do most of the dramatic heavy lifting, and really come into their own as the movie progresses. Pierce Brosnan plays a slightly greasy local 'fixer' brilliantly, revelling in his accent and the chance to play the sleazy booze-hound who aids in the family's escape when things kick off.
The coup is brilliantly orchestrated: if there's one thing Dowdle directs with aplomb, it's terror. The tension dripping through 'Devil' and 'As Above So Below' sweats from every frame, as gunfire starts to echo through the streets and the family's worst nightmares start to come true as the city erupts into gang-fuelled machete-wielding bloodshed. It's graphic, too. Although some of the worst atrocities are tactfully cut off-screen at the last second, blood flies and the imagination is left to run riot. The genuine fear common to all good survival movies begins to build as the terrifying mob rages - a fear that the family might not make it out of this in less than several pieces...
It's not flawless (some moments of slight cheesiness exist) but the film largely sidesteps those, giving the leads a surprising amount of room for their characters to grow. Lake Bell shines in particular, transforming from someone who feels sorry for herself into an absolute lioness, savagely fighting to save her family.
The film feels terrifyingly foreign and alien, the audience right along with the family as they stumble around unfamiliar corners in a highly eventful journey to try to escape the city and the country with their lives.
In terms of category, this cuts far closer to Dowdle's horror movies than its label as a thriller might suggest, and is probably not for the faint of heart or those offended by blood, violence or national stereotyping for the sake of drama.
As a thriller? You'd struggle to get a more nerve-racking mainstream Hollywood thriller this year.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2016 9:13 PM BST


WER
WER
Dvd
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A stark, tense and exhilarating take on the 'werewolf' thriller, 24 May 2016
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This review is from: WER (DVD)
A fascinating take on the 'werewolf movie', Wer approaches it from the point of view of a legal defence team. They're setting out their case to try to defend a hulking and possibly mentally handicapped suspect who the Police seem to have pegged as guilty just because he lived near the site of an attack on some campers and he looks imposing.
The tension is kept high as the legal team wrestle with being the unwelcome voice of opposition against the Police, and deal with their own complicated relationships. Adding to the tension is the uncertainty about the innocence of their suspect, who is a very unsettling and enormous presence, his face rarely seen from behind matted unkempt hair, and rarely speaking.
The filming style adds to the atmosphere, giving it a stark feeling not far off documentary filming. This gives the moments of shock or gore added impact, and the story isn't afraid to include challenging moments that shock and appal.
Brilliantly scripted and relentlessly tense and interesting, despite a few more unlikely story wobbles near the climax, this held our attention firmly for its entire running time.


Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry
Dvd
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant thriller that now looks even better on Blu-Ray, 24 May 2016
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This review is from: Dirty Harry (Blu-ray)
A classic that rises well above its oft-misquoted one-liner, I was glad I waited for the Blu-Ray to watch this all the way through for the first time.
Eastwood is terrific as the abrasive hero trying to sidestep bureaucracy as he hunts for a mad sniper in sunny San Francisco.
The film is brilliantly shot, with a real feel for the location, and a true sense that they're up against a heck of a challenge as the twisted killer uses the landscape, the law and even the media against his pursuers, helping it feel far more current than its age would suggest.
The film still feels very exciting and topical despite the occasionally glaring fashion of the period, and I was gripped from start to finish by the witty writing and exciting action. A classic that lives up to the hype.


The Fear
The Fear
Dvd
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual horror-thriller that feels dated but has some interesting ideas., 24 May 2016
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This review is from: The Fear (DVD)
In typical movie-land fashion, after a serial-rapist starts preying on his college campus a psychology student decides to invite his friends to his family's old lodge in the woods for a doctoral study about 'fear', overlooking the fact that he still has such huge issues about his family and the location that he's likely to derail the study himself.
The cast consist of mismatched couples; his stoner best friend, his girlfriend, stoner-friend's sister and her arrogant new boyfriend, a weird Uncle and his trophy girlfriend, and a loved-up coloured couple (in other words, what 90's Hollywood thought made for a rounded cast list).
The film has a strong feeling of the 90's in the scripting, filming and performances, all of which are very much 'of their period'.
Things begin to go awry for the group when they discover his boyhood companion - a life-size wooden doll (ex-shop mannequin) called Morty who creeps the hell out of everybody, and the fear study turns out to be a bust as nobody really wants to take part. Therefore after a few contrived sequences in which people confess their fears in brief one-liners, the cast bicker and run around, and then start to go missing or perish.
The film handles the issue of Morty nicely, leaving you wondering whether he's really supernatural or just a figment of the lead character's unravelling emotional state for much of the movie. Luckily they do commit to one or the other (I hate horror films that sit on the fence), and the film has enough interest to keep you watching.
It's patchy, with some bad dialogue, and much of it could've done with a re-write, but as an unusual horror-thriller it's worth a watch.


The Transporter Refuelled
The Transporter Refuelled
Dvd
Price: £0.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A reboot with some issues, but still the same sense of fun and mayhem, 24 May 2016
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I cringed my way through the trailers for this movie, which seemed intent on making Ed Skrein's take on the character look smarmy and infuriating - but being a fan of the series I had to take a look.
I'm glad I did.
Acting as a prequel to the earlier films (but set in the present day - go figure...) it's messily scripted, but lively. After an opening almost entirely ripped off from Transporter 2 and designed simply to establish Skrein's fight kudos, his ex-military man 'Frank Martin' takes on a shady job to transport a mysterious women. In a twist everybody can see coming (and nicked from Transporter 1) she changes the deal, and Frank is forced to help her achieve a mission, or she'll have his father (played by Ray Stevenson) killed.
Skrein is fun and enthusiastic. His Frank never stands out as well as Statham's portrayal, but it's hard to live up to what could arguably be described as Statham's signature role. His verbal joking around with his 'Dad' is a highlight, and Stevenson is brilliant, clearly having a ball as an ex-agent with an eye for good booze and a good woman.
The bad guys are functional, and as with all Transporter movies the women are portrayed as such underwritten clothes-horses it's verging on insulting. Therefore this might be one the ladies want to skip unless they're fans of Audis or Skrein, and the lads might want to crack a few beers to blur away those gaping holes in the plot.
A surprisingly faithful and acceptable re-imagining of the series, this feels just as exciting, messy and absurd as the originals, and even has the potential to stretch into a new series.


The Pack
The Pack
Dvd
Price: £0.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An occasionally brutal and chilling Aussie horror, 24 May 2016
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This review is from: The Pack (DVD)
The Pack does itself a slight disservice by starting like a million other horror films; as the audience looks on, knowing full-well what's about to happen, a farmer goes to investigate a strange noise...
It's a shame, because the rest of the film feels distinctive enough that the scene-setting could've been skipped.
A farming family (mum, dad, daughter and son) struggle to save their farm against financial buyouts even as the brutal reality of financial ruin is staring them in the face. It's starkly put, the barren empty nature of the landscape feeling like it mirrors their bank balance, and helping you to sympathise with their impatient daughter who is begging to escape being stranded in the middle of nowhere in a dead-end life.
It's a typical Aussie horror set-up. But this isn't an American slasher - which meant that the film quickly pulled a move I wasn't expecting with one important character, and then descended into a tense house-under-siege horror.
The dogs are suitably intimidating; big, black, hulking and hairy, halfway between a BIG Alsatian and a wild dog. They also show a degree of intelligence and cunning not always depicted in movies. Admittedly there are absurd moments, and some of the usual bad decisions used to keep horror films tense. However, when people die, you powerfully get the sense that it's due to the hunting prowess of the titular 'pack', and not just the stupidity of the characters. The dog attack scenes are chilling, the dogs sweeping in almost silently and unseen at incredible speed from every side with true pack co-ordination of a kind I haven't seen before in a thriller like this, and the brilliant animal handling helps elevate the material.
If you've been pining for a decent dog-attack horror since Cujo, this won't fully scratch that itch, but it'll certainly help.


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