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Benminx "benminx" (Plymouth)

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Dulwich Designs 'Heritage' Classic Premium Leather 15 Section Cufflink and Ring Box, Chestnut Brown with Tan Suedette Lining
Dulwich Designs 'Heritage' Classic Premium Leather 15 Section Cufflink and Ring Box, Chestnut Brown with Tan Suedette Lining
Offered by Carters of London
Price: £49.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very lovely well-finished, 14 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The box meets and exceeds every expectation generated by the images. It is well crafted, with great attention to detail, and feels tasteful and expensive. A lovely item.

The Clever Gem Buyer
The Clever Gem Buyer
by Gavin LINSELL
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovingly written and detailed, 14 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Clever Gem Buyer (Paperback)
Loving this book. It's one I'm deliberately taking my time to read at my leisure, because the gorgeous images are matched by passionate text that explains a little of the history and mythology of the gems, as well as being knowledgeable about their geology. As the title would suggest, it's written with the buyer in mind and nicely explains what makes a 'good' gem of each type, and what makes it a great investment, without judgementally over-ruling things like personal taste. A well-written, easy-going and likeable text style also helps. A terrific book.

Skinwalkers [Blu-ray]
Skinwalkers [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Devin McGinn
Offered by * The Game Monkey *
Price: £4.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Aliens, found footage, and passable thrills, 6 April 2014
This review is from: Skinwalkers [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Skinwalkers starts (and spends much of its running time) very much like every other found footage movie. When a kid vanishes mid-home-video the locals think his dad's guilty, so the dad invites a crew of paranormal scientist types to investigate the 'phenomena' on his ranch...
The cast are okay, and the dialogue functional at best. Nobody is a bad actor, but a few clichés do occur as does lots of overwrought over-emotion.
Interestingly, Skinwalkers doesn't wait until the end to brings its tricks out of the bag. Genuinely bizarre events start happening well before the end, and it throws a lot at the screen to try to keep you interested. Some of the events are unusual, some of them are 'seen-it-all-before'. However, it uses almost every genre to try to keep you interested. While most of the effects are decent CGI, the film over-reaches by getting too messy. Instead of sticking to one genre and trying to make a big impression by mastering it, it tries to throw at least 3 different horror genres at the screen and ends up diminishing the impact of all of them.
It's interesting and at times startling and frightening, but it's scattergun, and you may come away thinking "I wish they'd just focussed on 'x', instead of 'x', 'y' and 'z'..."

You're Next [Blu-ray + UV copy] [2011]
You're Next [Blu-ray + UV copy] [2011]
Dvd ~ Sharni Vinson
Offered by Not2day Media
Price: £4.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite your normal slasher pic, 6 April 2014
'You're Next' is directed by one of the rapidly rising new(ish) stars of horror, Adam Wingard, whose most high-profile other releases include nerve-shredding segments in VHS and VHS 2. As such, you may know that he likes to lead you to expect 'same-old' and then wrong-foot you.
Therefore, we get the expected film-opening dramatic scene, and then the establishing segment as the main stars the members of the Davison family, head home for a weekend with the parents. Although shot cinematically, the direction has an almost found-footage feel due to the freedom of movement the camera is given. Much of the film is quite naturalistically lit, adding to the feeling, which I found increased the tension. The actors also perform in quite a naturalistic manner, enhancing the mood further. The cast are a diverse bunch and instead of the usual tired selection of pretty teens we get three very different brothers who range from late twenties to early forties, a sister in her twenties and their various partners, and a mother and father figure who actually feel parental. The dialogue is enjoyable as the family members bicker, snipe and chat in a way that will feel instantly relatable to anyone who's been to an awkward family gathering where they haven't seen each other for ages. However it isn't long before sudden violence bursts out unannounced as masked trespassers begin trying to kill everybody for an unknown reason, and the situation dissolves into a need for pure survival.
Sharni Vinson is excellent as the central character, with great acting support which surprisingly includes several horror directors (Ti West and Joe Swanberg excellent as a standout sarcastic older brother among them).
Many emotions are portrayed much more realistically than normal for a slasher movie, with the actors managing to show grief, fear, and reasoning under duress in a way that's convincing rather than just 'stagey' or typically Hollywood. The plot isn't completely original, and the death-by-numbers plot has been done a lot of times. But sometimes it's not the ingredients that matter, it's how you cook them. It's the difference between a rubbery omelette or one that melts in the mouth. This one had a great chef.

The World's End [Blu-ray]
The World's End [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Price: £8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and funny, but might need re-watches to grow on you., 6 April 2014
I found that the first two movies in the 'Cornetto Trilogy', Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, took more than one viewing for me to really warm to them with their odd blend of awkward humour and action, so this review is really just a 'first-reaction'. Maybe I'll end up liking it more down the line.
We're treated to a nostalgically and chaotically shot opening sequence of our heroes on their final great teenage binge as they attempt the "Golden Mile" in their home town, an epic pub crawl that they fail to finish. Cut to the modern day, and they're all very much more grown up, except for erstwhile gang 'leader' Gary King (Pegg) who has never really outgrown his teenage persona and uses every wile and trick up his sleeve to persuade the middle-aged friends to re-unite and finish the Golden Mile. Only once there, nothing quite feels the same. Cleverly, the script takes the idea that it's never feels the same trying to re-live memories and says that this time there's a reason for it: the friends quickly find out that many of the townsfolk have been 'replaced', and they're at risk of being next...
The cast are funny and make an interesting mix, with the first third of the film essentially being a mild comedy of embarrassment as old like and dislikes and secrets come out, and irritations rise once again to the surface - mostly with Gary. Pegg's Gary is a brave role: desperate, feckless, manipulative and self-interested. Luckily he's the catalyst for a lot of the comedy one-liners and absurdity, and Pegg is enough of a performer to give him a far greater emotional depth than first appears. Nick Frost feels a little wasted, his role never really elevating above 'annoyed ex-friend who's now a bit stuffy'.
A lot of the comedy is clever and fast, like their other movies. The sci-fi horror elements here are very cleverly handled too, and there's a fight in The Gent's that manages to be simultaneously scary, exciting, and funny.
Because it's using a subject matter that's traditionally designed to creep people out, a lot of the film feels frankly a bit weird, and the tone of the 'bickering angry friends' segments can feel a touch sour. As a result, it may take more than one viewing to decide if you like it. I'm expecting that this review may go up a point next time.

We're The Millers - Extended Cut [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
We're The Millers - Extended Cut [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Aniston
Price: £7.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowing, sarcastic and funny. A very enjoyable adult comedy, 6 April 2014
When Jason Sudeikis' low-level drug dealer gets mugged for his stash, he has to help Ed Helms' smarmy moneyman by agreeing to fetch a big load of weed from across the border. Deciding that the only way to avoid a one-way trip to a Mexican jail is to make it look like a family trip, he enlists the help of the stripper neighbour he argues with (Aniston), the possibly homeless street girl he got mugged helping (Emma Roberts) and the dopey kid who got him into trouble (Will Poulter).
The balance of the casting is perfect, and combined with a script that blends sarcastic and knowing adult comedy with enjoyable plain silliness and a few gross-out gags.
Sudeikis impresses with making a sarcastic dealer amusing and eventually likeable, and Aniston is fiery and great as the brittle attitude-filled stripper, but Poulter is gold as the 'so-naïve-it-hurts' Kenny.
Cross-border capers, road-trip comedy and a kind of bizarre reverse-family values ensue.
Great fun.

Kick-Ass 2 [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Kick-Ass 2 [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £5.63

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and occasionally brave progression of the original, 6 April 2014
Thankfully Kick Ass 2 isn't 'more of the same'. It's just as quirky, odd, and challenging as the original, often refusing to pander to quite what the audience would normally get from an action film (albeit one that has a lot of comedy). Starting from a point where Kick-Ass has essentially found his skills and met his potential, you'd think it has nowhere to go. Luckily the creators are brave enough to change direction, and so we find Hit Girl (Moretz, excellent again) essentially 'grounded' and forced to try to fit in at high school for much of the film, Dave coasting along while also trying to hide his secret identity, and a new breed of copycat heroes blossoming throughout the city to take the pressure off Kick-Ass. All seems to be going nowhere, but luckily Mintz-Plasse is back as the recently bereaved and very messed up 'Red Mist', who decides to evolve proceedings by changing his name and assembling his own group...of rubbish super-villains to rival the rubbish superheroes.
Mintz-Plasse brings a perfectly played massive juvenile teen energy to his character, getting the comedic geekiness balanced just right against genuine fury, and wreaking enough havoc that he and his team rapidly escalate from being a joke to a real threat.
The plot is broader, bringing in a lot more characters, but luckily it gives them just enough time to develop. Dave still makes stupid immature decisions like a normal teenager, but remains likeable and heroic. His friends and family are affected more by the plot this time, and grow to be more interesting as a result. The screenplay rarely forgets that it's dealing with teenagers who are struggling to find an identity and are making mistakes along the way, none more so that in Hit-Girl's emotional rollercoaster of a high-school journey that includes several brilliantly laugh-out-loud moments.
The violence that Jim Carey disowned after release is strong, but you'll have seen worse (and his character is very amusing), and at times genuinely shocking on an emotional level. This is a film that's not afraid to cross a few lines that a regular blockbuster wouldn't. It's refreshing, and gutsy. The off-kilter mix of edgy comedy, action and violence may not be to everyone's taste, but it remains the breed that fans of the first film grew to love.

Ender's Game [Blu-ray]
Ender's Game [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Asa Butterfield
Price: £5.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A kid-sized Starship Troopers with some interesting ideas, 12 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Ender's Game [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Ender's Game is set in a post-alien-invasion society where parents submit their kids for military academy testing in the hope of finding one tactically gifted enough to defeat their enemy should it return.
Ender (Asa Butterfield) is just such a kid, and quickly identified by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) as a serious contender, despite the reservations of his colleague, behaviourist and shrink Anderson (Viola Davis). Despite an apparent violent streak, Ender is selected for the military training program and soon making friends and enemies on his way to graduation, with a renewed alien threat ever looming...
For a movie about an alien threat, we never get to find out much about the enemy. Perhaps that's deliberate and we're being shown just what Ender would be shown, but it feels badly thought out, as the aliens remain a vague and distant enemy, never clearly defined - and as a result never really threatening - despite everyone trumpeting statistics about how many people died in the last invasion. The main thrust of the movie is essentially a sci-fi coming of age school movie, with all the usual tropes of the smart kid being relentlessly disliked or bullied and inevitably winning people over with his smarts or plot connivance. Unfortunately it never feels genuine. Kids flock to Ender's side to be his friend despite their resentment and dislike of him, once his tactical brilliance becomes evident. This feels deeply unrealistic and misleading about human behaviour to any kids viewing, as does the idea that a dim and hyper-aggressive bully can be held at bay with a reasoned tactical discussion. It also feels like a cheat that the academic and slightly introverted Ender always wins at physical fights (overwhelmingly). Here the movie is met with a serious problem: it's trying to suggest that brains are the key to victory, while having its cake and eating it too by granting the hero the ability to always win at a fist-fight. It's also cast an actor who's so skinny and vulnerable that the fight scenes simply don't ever convince. Butterfield is decent, but his wide-eyed expressiveness can be too much in scenes that call for subtlety. He's good against the rest of the cast however who are all of a similar standard. Ford is good, Kingsley is also very good, but Davis brings more heart and soul to the film.
In the end, this is a strange mix - 75 percent 'space camp/college movie' which often feels quite childish, blended with a sci-fi plot that should be deadly serious (and turns so briefly at one point, in a brave twist), filled with derivative clichés. Everything from Starship Troopers to Independence Day is openly plundered from, and the result is a confused and half-hearted mess that often has moments of impressive but over-acted impact. The movie wins points by introducing ethical dilemmas where few would dare, but much of it feels like you've seen it before.

White House Down [Blu-ray] [2013]
White House Down [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Channing Tatum
Price: £7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A movie that combines the best of its inspirations to emerge thrilling and enjoyable, 25 Feb. 2014
It shouldn't have worked. 'Olympus Has Fallen' beat it to the box office, and everything from 'Die Hard' to 'Air Force One' beat it to half of its plot moments. It even shares two near-identical moments with its direct competitor, 'Olympus'. However, through sheer charisma, White House Down rises above its influences to emerge as one of the best action movies of the year. Director Emmerich is the best he's been in years with a brutally slick and thrilling style. Foxx is charming, believable and somehow manages to be human and presidential all in one go. Tatum is used to playing heroic, but has rarely had to shoulder a movie almost solo as an action lead, and he pulls it off with aplomb while never losing his edge as a father torn between his need to save his daughter and his need to save the president.
Because some of the best moments in the movie are twists (albeit ones that action fans may see coming) I won't reveal much about the plot, save to say that it builds with expert precision to a fantastic old-school nerve-shredder of against-the-clock tension. If all of this sounds exactly like 'Olympus Has Fallen', take the style, charisma and directorial excellence of that other film and ramp it up to 11, and you have this one.
Does it have flaws? Yes. While they eventually become terrific, the bad guys don't initially seem that formidable. It also takes the film half of its length to shake off the feeling of familiarity and really become its own animal. It sadly also suffers from that odd curse of recent blockbusters - an over-reliance on CGI helicopters that occasionally fail to convince.
Luckily it wins on several points: it's missing the uncomfortable racism of 'Olympus', and less of the cheesy superiority-laced flag-waving rhetoric (although someone here does literally wave a flag, to much better effect). Tatum's hero also feels more like a normal everyman, until circumstances force him to raise his game. With faster, better direction, better acting, and a rip-roaring music score, this is the movie 'Olympus Has Fallen' nearly was. Solid Gold.

Battlefield 4 (PC DVD) - Limited Edition
Battlefield 4 (PC DVD) - Limited Edition
Offered by zoverstocks
Price: £13.37

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sometimes a Wolf'll chew off bad dialogue to survive...", 18 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Battlefield 3 gave us an evil mastermind out to inflict mass-destruction terror while causing conflict on a superpower and also microcosm level - your heroes were both an American and a Russian fighting against disbelief and slow reactions in their governments to save the world. In BF4, you spend more time stumbling around trying to solve the plot (intentionally) and your colleagues matter more than before. Unfortunately, although the single-player campaign globe-trots like before, it makes a less interesting impact and the plot feels more 'small-scale'. After opening missions in which your wolf-obsessed commander hands over the reins, you seems to spend an unprofessional amount of time babysitting the remainder of your squabbling squad as the world goes to hell in a handbasket courtesy of Chinese aggression. While the character models and graphics are even better than before, and the expressions and voice acting are terrific, the dialogue and scripting itself isn't up to much. The conflict and arguments are punchy and well acted but feel puerile and unprofessional under the circumstances. It doesn't help that one of the characters who takes front and centre stage can't decide on his politics. He swings from one man 'The Chinese aren't so bad!' saviour, to antagonistically hating a lead character because he mistrusts them due to their race (!) to being a one-man fan club as soon as he finds out they've been through some trauma. It's shallow and silly, masquerading as deep and meaningful. Worse still, the ending of the single-player campaign feels hollow as you never get to face off properly against the big bad guy. There are no 'WOW' moments like the jet-fighter sequence of BF3, which could easily have been a tech demo for how to make gamers feel like they're living through Top Gun, but luckily there are a multitude of 'almost' moments, including a boat raid across bouncing waves to investigate a sinking ship, and an assault on a dam.
The Multiplayer is what most people will buy this for, and is precisely the reason I'm reviewing it now. Why? Because I don't like to review a game until it's finished, and it only now feels like it has been. I think even avid fans would grudgingly admit that the game felt like it hadn't properly emerged from Beta until now (and was released horrendously unfinished due to schedule and financial reasons - EA should feel ashamed and learn from that). Riddled with crashes, server problems, vehicles sound bugs...the multiplayer as multi alright - just not playable. Until a few months ago when it improved considerably due to hard work and patching. Serious weaponry sound bugs reared their ugly head in a final round of patching, and then? They seem to be gone. And what we're left with is finally a glorious, visually dazzling game (sometimes literally - check out the shafts of sunlight on 'Paracel Storm'). This is the shooter for Modern Warfare players who are tired of the sprinting and want to be able to catch a breath for a few seconds and try a little more strategy. Bullet drop. Building destruction. Cannon-armed patrol boats. Quad bikes. Para-drops onto target.
With a real chance for stealth, breathtakingly gorgeous graphics and lighting, and some epic vehicular weaponry as well as a vast array of firearms and equipment, BF4 is a true multiplayer present-day battle joy. It can be unfair, like all online shooters, and it can still be a swine when your team gets boxed into your spawn point by a determined enemy that has every exit covered. However, it's easier to break out of such situations due to the often vast spread of the maps, dive onto a quad-bike and flank the enemy, stealing an undefended base. Or to grab an AA vehicle and blast that annoying attack helicopter out of the sky, ending his cocky and team-destroying kill-streak.
It did feel like an unfinished game, and frankly the campaign felt like a shrug beside BF3's roar, almost as if it was being left to the Multiplayer expansion packs to flesh out the direction of the war.
But if you want semi-realism with beautiful graphics that still has the thrill of all-out action, at the moment there're none better.

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