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Benminx "benminx" (Plymouth)

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Rabies [DVD]
Rabies [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lior Ashkenazi
Price: £4.00

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of a cunningly written tension thriller than a 'slasher', 24 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Rabies [DVD] (DVD)
Rabies is actually slightly undersold by being presented as a slasher movie. In reality, it's a thriller film set around the chain of events triggered by a kidnapping.
Chopping and changing between the perspectives of an injured couple, four young friends who get roped into the drama in a nature reserve, two park wardens, a kidnapper, and the cops that get called to the scene, it actually plays like a violence friendly ensemble movie and is surprisingly well written. Everyone has a character with real personality, and the dialogue is lively, funny, interesting to listen to, and actually tells you something about the characters. The scenery is interesting and used to good effect, the character motivations feel real and powerful, and the performances are universally excellent.
The director is also excellent, building tension expertly, and just as adept at framing a beautiful scene as delivering powerful, shocking violence. The atmosphere conveys fear brilliantly, and the film isn't afraid to dodge horror-thriller clichés and try something different in order to deliver a fresh and original experience.
This is a very interesting and unusual thriller, and if you like being surprised and having a different experience to the one you were expecting, this rewards you in spades.

Comedown [Blu-ray] [2012]
Comedown [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Adam Deacon
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £3.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Passably entertaining 'teens trapped in a tower block' thriller, 24 Jun. 2013
Comedown is the less entertaining of the British 'people being hunted in a semi-deserted tower block' movies that have come out on Blu-Ray this year, surpassed by the brutality and varied cast of 'Tower Block'.
After Col (a good performance by Duane Henry) has come out of prison, he's soon roped into a scheme to help his dodgy friends break into the tower block they used to live in and put a pirate radio aerial on the top floor. The only catch is that the tower block's deserted, and they may have seriously annoyed a previous resident - a resident who may have decided not to leave...
Comedown's worst weakness is that in trying to be 'real' it falls back on lazy stereotyping. Within minutes of starting, Col's had a run in with a rival 'gang', met up with a pregnant girlfriend, and we've met his band of mates who are all frankly utterly unlikeable. There's not a single character to root for, except for the lead, and that's more because Henry's performance elevates bad material. Adam Deacon is one step above a bad TV soap 'bad boy', Jessica Barden is equally poor although thankfully better than her almost CITV style movie-breaking dreadfulness in 'Hanna', and Calum MacNab's 'Gal' deserves special mention for being such a badly written idiot of a character that you have to wonder if the awfulness of his performance was down to a sheer inability to understand the irritating berk he was playing.
It's not all bad - the tower block has moments of feeling creepy and oppressive, and moments of the filming convey an atmosphere of something sinister going on. However, these are usual spoiled by lame 'innit boy' dialogue and scenes of the characters running around empty concrete corridors yelling, or trying to chase the gang they think may be responsible. The script also falls into the horror pitfall of thinking that the characters can't be likeable in a horror movie, and as a result they're so aggressive, reprehensible and backstabbing that you lose sympathy and end up just waiting for the next 'kill'. Barring one moment after which the teens realise they're in deep trouble and panic, those kill moments are rarely shocking or inventive. The bad guy isn't original either, rooted in banal normality and bad psychology.
It's watchable, but it's also grimy and predictable. If you don't mind that, then this is okay.

A Good Day to Die Hard (Blu-ray + UV Copy)
A Good Day to Die Hard (Blu-ray + UV Copy)
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £3.79

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The Further Adventures of John McClane & Son", 24 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a huge fan of the Die Hard series, seeing this in the cinema was a must. An action movie always benefits from the deep bass boom and giant screen of a movie theatre, but sometimes Blu-Ray gives you a better chance to soak up a better, clearer image. The plot is essentially a one-liner already given away by the trailer and a million promo snippets - McClane shows up intending to bail his estranged son out of trouble and instead screws up a CIA op he's running, and ends up fighting off nefarious Russians with a hidden agenda.

Unfortunately, it rarely makes an effort to get any deeper than that. Part of the fun of a Die Hard movie has always been the gradual and well-paced unfurling of a dastardly scheme, a new layer fed piece by piece to the audience until the cunning whole is revealed. In this film, they take a less cinematic route, choosing to make it simply a chase movie about a single goal that happens to involve a twist or two.

Willis often feels almost like a secondary character as a tourist, until he starts trashing Moscow with the kind of reckless abandon that is poles apart from the attempt at semi-realism of him reporting an "officer involved shooting in your jurisdiction" after a gunfight in Die Hard 4.0. His character also appears to have shed any attempt at realism or self-awareness, the fairly convincing cop and fatherly figure of that earlier film replaced with a grumpy gung-ho pensioner who thinks nothing of ramming a vehicle full of strangers or risking crushing innocent drivers by crashing over the top of lanes of occupied parked traffic. Even his banter with son Jack (Jai Courtney) lacks the realism and heart of his sparring with his daughter in '4.0', at one stage towards the end even beginning to sound almost like the attitude of a good old-boy on a pig hunt with his kin in the Midwest. He even advises he's had a 'fun' day towards the end - a sharp contrast to the excellent "Nobody wants to be 'that guy' " speech in '4.0'.

The bad guys lack the charisma to grab the audience sufficiently, Radivoje Bukvic only occasionally veering close to memorable in a carrot-waving scene in which he verbally spars with the McClanes.

The film also has a curiously flat pace, with few escalations of threat. There's nothing to match the fear of the classic "Get me a flight - one that's low on fuel..." from Die Hard 2's William Sadler, or the chilling menace as '4.0's Timothy Olyphant taunts "What's the matter John? Crack a joke. Say something funny..." as he turns the tables on McClane.

While we don't get quite the silliness of 4.0's daft jet fighter scene, we do get something a little similar, and the film mimics the 'laughter' scene of Die Hard in a way that some fans may find fitting, and others may just find a reminder of a more effective film.

On a plus note, Courtney is very good, showing clear action chops that should carry him far. Willis also largely convinces at the action, despite now showing his age to the degree that a sixth outing should be considered ill-advised.

Moore is a better director at the wide-shot action scenes of vehicles than he is with dialogue or action with people, often getting too close and confusing the shot. However the film's several vehicle based action scenes are extremely impressive, the much publicised car chase through Moscow both huge and riddled with mouth-agape moments of inventive auto-destruction. However, as an aside, second viewing around I started to find the chase boring and over-long - a semi soul-less auto-destruction derby.

The 'Extended Harder Cut' chooses to bizarrely remove the movie's only scene with 'Lucy McClane', which had added an extra dose of family and heart (and connected it more strongly to its predecessor) and replace it with a far more impersonal scene. This is an odd decision that negatively impacts the opening. I believe the cut may also be slightly more bloody. Besides that, there are very few noticeable changes and it's the typical release day hyperbole leading you to expect vast differences when the reality is a few extra seconds of violence scattered throughout the edit.

A Good Day to Die Hard isn't a bad film at all. It's very loud, very violent, and often very good fun. However it is missing many of the key ingredients that made previous episodes work so well. Whether it's the lack of an inventive plot (both the plot device and the ultimate goal are ideas you'll have seen a dozen times), the lack of standout villains, the slightly 'Team America' spirit, or the fact that McClane has largely been reduced to a buddy role in his own movie - A Good Day to Die Hard is A Bad Day to be John McClane. I never thought I'd be saying this about a series that I've enjoyed so much on all its previous outings - but it's got tired. Now is a Good Time to Call It A Day.

The Man with the Iron Fists [Blu-ray] [2012]
The Man with the Iron Fists [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Russell Crowe
Price: £6.50

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome ego trip for RZA with brief flares of talent that save it from being a complete dog, 7 Jun. 2013
The opening of this movie bursts with grindhouse brilliance, as a cast of actors looking exactly like the typical martial-arts characters of the 70's suddenly burst into thrilling, hyper-violent 'enhanced-reality' action, tearing limbs off each other and commencing the film with exciting 'kung-fu'.
Unfortunately what follows is bursts of high directorial talent mixed with a cast whose acting standard is as uneven as a tortuous rollercoaster, a plot that flatlines out of originality within ten minutes, and a lead who's a disaster.
When clan-leader Golden Lion is murdered after pledging to protect a vast shipment of the emperor's gold in a '70's TV' stylised historical China, evil son Silver Lion and his right hand man 'Bronze' set about plotting to seize the gold and wipe out their enemies the Wolf clan. Caught in the middle is the local blacksmith played by RZA, who is paying the local madam (Lucy Lui) to keep the girl in her brothel that he's fallen for to himself. Into this potent mix arrives Russell Crowe's mysterious 'Jack Knife'. Crowe is possibly the best thing about the movie, his character an amusing drunkard and lethal assassin who arrives in a shower of blood, and who realises that such an absurd and over-the-top movie demands a tongue in cheek, humorous performance. Lui is similarly amusing, and Byron Mann is deliciously evil and full of energetic charisma as Silver Lion.
Unfortunately, the plot is tacky stereotypical rubbish. The film wants to be a grindhouse fantasy of Chinese/American kung-fu seventies movies, but instead of being an inventive and postmodern re-invention it simply imitates them in the most tiresome of ways. Barely five minutes pass without yet another fight. The gravity defying wire-work and kung-fu get old very fast, and end up being the mainstay of the plot. The killers are defined by their weapons or what they can do, not any aspect of their acting or personalities. Worse still, RZA is dreadful. Giving a lumpen, dead-eyed performance that seems to be based on depression and apathy even when his dream of escaping with his love is at its peak, his one-note showing has all the charisma of a plank of floorboard. Amazingly, it remains flat and lifeless even when retelling his life story to flesh out his character from 1 dimensional to one-and-a-half, and the movie's plot is so badly written that his main character progression points are entirely missing. We get: callow youth escapes slavery, survives a disaster, watches people pray, then suddenly gets told he's amazing and has surpassed them all (without any apparent evidence of this), and then goes in a heartbeat from depressive skinny victim to ultimate (wildly unconvincing) badass.
It's a horrendously badly written role in a horrendously badly written movie, and reeks of ego, let alone miscasting.
The dialogue is predictable (you'll mentally finish almost every line for them before they say it, trust me), the story equally so.
There are moments of visual invention, and he may yet turn from a 'decent' director into a great one based on the evidence of this, but with this egotistical mess rushing from one plotless fight to the next for most of its running time, it's a shame that you may spend as much of the film as I did trying to rouse yourself from falling asleep.

Hit & Run [Blu-ray] [2013] [US Import]
Hit & Run [Blu-ray] [2013] [US Import]
Price: £8.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a breath of fresh air, 28 May 2013
I had VERY low expectations for this film, as it looked like it could be a bad 'white guys play gangsta' thriller that was trying to be funny.
Instead, it's a sweetly funny and very inventive relationship comedy, where Dax Sheppard plays an ex-criminal holed up in witness protection who decides to risk everything by driving his loving girlfriend to the job interview of her dreams. The characters are written with the kind of dedication to giving everybody dream lines that only an actor could bring, with the scenes rich with wildly inventive dialogue that also manages to feel honestly true to life and sweet. It's also brilliantly funny at some moments, and highly unpredictable. Most of the story events trigger off human behaviour rather than some lame forced 'plot' element, and while it uses a few quite brave gags, it also manages to confront a few lazy Hollywood stereotypes through the use of smartly witty writing.
The action is fun, the characters are fascinating and terrific to spend time with, and the ending is satisfying. If you watch this film with very specific expectations of what you're going to get (ie: "I want a chase movie with gags" or "I want an action film with gangsters") you're probably going to be very disappointed as it straddles a few genres. If you just go with it and let it surprise you, you'll have a great time.

Taken 2 (Blu-ray + UV Copy)
Taken 2 (Blu-ray + UV Copy)
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Price: £6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great, sequel to a distinctive thriller, 16 May 2013
Taken 2 manages to do some of the things that any good sequel should do:
It enriches the first film's plot by expanding it naturally.
Neeson's hero, Brian Mills, is fleshed out further. This time the expansion of his character isn't demonstrated by his gunplay, but by his ingrained habits and skills - obsessive punctuality, over-caution, and some fun (if slightly far-fetched) tradecraft skills such as tracking locations in original ways that add a frisson of fun to standard thriller scenes.
Janssen's ex-wife character is much the same as before, if getting more screen time. And Maggie Grace gets a lot more to do, her role expanding to include facing up to her fears, and also some badass driving during the film's exhilarating standout car chase sequence - a smashing chase through the heart of Istanbul.
The plot also grows nicely organically from the first film, and feels like a good realistic reason for a sequel, which is a nice change in a world of franchise movies with increasingly thin reasons for extending the money-train.
The bad guys are quite well played, and the fights, chases and gunplay are quite well directed. This was especially satisfying for me, as my heart fell when I heard that Olivier Megaton had been handed this film, given the tacky, throwaway job he'd done on the pretty awful Transporter 3. Luckily this time he's on far better form, his directing showing that maybe more serious tones suit him better. He still frames too close to the action, often obscuring some of the moves and creating confusion during the bigger fights, and he still doesn't know how to shoot a city so it feels distinctive (Istanbul comes out feeling very much like 'generic Islamic city' despite the frequent rooftop shots of tourist attractions). However, while the set-pieces don't feel as memorable as those of the first film, they're still fun and enjoyable. The ending is oddly hashed up, several sudden cuts and inexplicably quickly ended fights giving the impression that over-enthusiastic editors and censors have removed some more violent moments. This leaves the baffling impression of something missing, and a sense of: "surely that wouldn't have killed him?" However, despite this bungled sequence, it's still a satisfying thriller and a worthy sequel, and appears to end with a teasing hint that something isn't quite right, and setting the possible scene for a part 3.

Lawless [Blu-ray]
Lawless [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Tom Hardy
Price: £5.75

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly distinctive gangster thriller with more room for character than most, 16 May 2013
This review is from: Lawless [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The strength of Lawless is in the casting.
Tom Hardy provides the solid beating heart of the story as man-mountain Forest. Stubborn, short on words, and emotionally stunted, he manages to convey huge ranges of inner emotion with subtle playing and acts as both mother and father figure to his entire family, while Shia LaBeouf's eager youngest brother strains against family routine to try to make changes.
Their predictable country bootlegging routine is upset by the arrival of bigger fish in their pond - Gary Oldman's Chicago gangster filling LaBeouf's head with hopes, and Guy Pearce's agent filling the locals with dread. Pearce's corrupt, venal lawman is a wonderful creation, the actor pouring his heart and soul into creating a preening, vicious cowardly psychopath who genuinely chills the blood whenever he's in a position to do harm.
Most of the characters are richer than average - a by product of a script that cares about who they are as much as what they do, and also of John Hillcoat's exceptional direction. There isn't a single duff note in a script full of confrontation, longing, danger, sweet natured romantic beats, and tension. And boy does the tension work well, adding utter shock to some truly shattering violence and moments of genuine horror. The humour is light and sparse, but what little exists is used well, and by the end of the film you walk away with a satisfyingly different experience from the usual gangster movie: that of not having watched gangsters committing crimes, but of a family struggling against evil to get by.

Kate & Leopold [Blu-ray]
Kate & Leopold [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Meg Ryan
Price: £6.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet natured romance with an amusing angle, 13 May 2013
This review is from: Kate & Leopold [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
When Hugh Jackman's aimless duke Leopold ends up falling through a time wormhole, he gets trapped in modern day New York, and soon finds his life colliding with that of cynical marketing executive Kate (Meg Ryan) - a woman who's used to fine tuning media to get the desired result and has long since given up on the idea of taking frivolous chances. However, Leopold's inventive, optimistic worldview and old fashioned decency begin to open her eyes, and he in turn finds that for the first time in his empty aimless life, he finally knows exactly what he wants...
It's a very sweet, lightly handled film. Jackman's performance is impeccable - somewhere between stage gentleman and romantic hero, and Ryan is just real and hard-edged enough to be believable, but tender enough that there's a chance things might succeed...
Many actors give fine support in the film, but Liev Schreiber is especially good as Kate's hopeless ex as he tries to cajole the insane circumstances towards their natural resolution.
After watching the tonally messy James Mangold misfire Knight and Day, I wasn't sure how this would turn out, but here he nails it with just the right measure of wistful silliness, grown up emotional wish fulfilment, and sweet romance.
A lovely film to soothe with at the end of a day.

The Punisher 2:  War Zone [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
The Punisher 2: War Zone [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Ray Stevenson
Offered by Super Duper
Price: £7.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little uneven, but not at all bad, 13 May 2013
Where Thomas Jane's Punisher movie felt like it largely had a very confident sense of identity, this film is both stronger and weaker all at once. Stronger in the sense of the violence and the willingness to go further with it - weaker in the tonal unevenness. It veers between solemn (Stevenson's Punisher is a sullen depressive with limited acting range), gangster movie bravado (Mafiosi bravado and politics) and tacky (a cheesy and badly executed faux-patriotism recruitment montage where bad guy 'Jigsaw' recruits a few extra hands).
As the Punisher, Stevenson is more physically imposing - however he's slightly overwhelmed by his overly large costume, and gets little to do besides impressive violence, depression and mulling over the car-crash that his life has become.
Dominic West is initially vile and memorably sleazy as bad guy 'Billy', but becomes almost a re-run caricature of the 1989 Batman's Joker for the rest of the movie. The supporting cast are weak, the plot even weaker, and the set-pieces aren't memorable save for a few moments of excessive violence. However - it is interesting and fun, and worth whiling away a few hours with.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2013 8:37 AM BST

Connie and Carla [DVD] [2004]
Connie and Carla [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Nia Vardalos
Price: £4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Enormous campy fun, 13 May 2013
Fans of guilt free campy daftness will love this film. Vardalos and Collette play it fast and dizzy as two absurd lounge singers who have to make a run for it when they catch mobsters in the middle of a 'hit'. One very funny and stupidly handled getaway later, they decide the only workable refuge that they can survive is to hide drag queens.
It's a good excuse for some amusing identity crisis comedy, amusing stage musical numbers and a wealth of colourful characters. As expected, some emotions get strained and some prejudices challenged, but in a fun way, rather than an earnest movie of the week way. The team never forget that the end goal is amusement, and as the hitmen pursue them, the film gets closer to a genuinely satisfying climax.
Heart-warming and funny in a '90s 'caper movie' style that you don't see much any more.

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