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Jo Nesbo's Headhunters [Blu-ray]
Jo Nesbo's Headhunters [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Aksel Hennie
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £10.00

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls at the final hurdle, 30 Aug 2012
I was really enjoying this movie for most of the time, and then it let me down.

Roger Brown is an unsympathetic sleaze, driven by terrible insecurities about his stature in comparison to his taller wife (and we don't need to page Dr. Freud to interpret that little problem). She wants a child, but he is reluctant. He spends money he doesn't have, trying to overcompensate for his "shortcomings", and quasi-finances this lifestyle by dabbling in a little art theft in the background. However, he aims too low, and his criminal overheads don't really leave him with a useful return. He's slowly sinking in debt while brashly gadding about town trying to uphold his "reputation". He is ripe for a setup, and one duly appears.

I won't go into any details, but as the story unfolds, Roger is subjected to an increasingly abject set of both psychological and physical humiliations, as his character gradually makes the transition from predator to prey. And it's all done very well, with a hefty dollop of black humour that keeps the story moving along nicely. At each turn you keep asking "How could anything possibly get worse for Roger than that? ... Oh ... yuck!" and I genuinely laughed out loud a couple of times. The depictions of Roger's physical collapse are visceral and grim. A fair amount of collateral damage results in copious gore to keep things interesting. Some fairly obvious plot points were conspicuously telegraphed, but overall it's a competent job.

This was all going really well. Nesbo's character was really hitting the bottom of the barrel. How was he going to turn this around?

And that's where this movie let me down. The resolution and the tying off of all the loose ends was so implausible and rushed it made me gape in disbelief. It really let the movie down. Right up until the point when Roger turned the tables it was great. The slide begins when he sneaks into the forensics lab. From that point on, the whole thing became ridiculously implausible, relied far too much on coincidence and became ultimately silly.

So only three stars for a movie that really seemed to be delivering but then fell at the final hurdle.


I Am Number Four: (Lorien Legacies Book 1)
I Am Number Four: (Lorien Legacies Book 1)
by Pittacus Lore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars By the numbers, 6 Feb 2011
This is a truly awful book, written by the numbers about the numbers. It is so lazy and insulting to the reader I can only assume that the people who decided to publish it have nothing but contempt for the young adults at which it is aimed.

I won't labour over the execrable plot, or the abyssmal characterisations. All I will say is that the basic device of using a first person present narrative point of view means that the story is essentially an endless stream of events: "This happened and then that happened and then another thing happened and something showed up and then some other things started to happen so I ..." So, right at the heart of this book (were I even to admit it had one,) alongside the tragically pitiful excuse for a story, is a deeply flawed structure that leaves you begging for it to stop.

If you were to be charitable, you could say that this book attempts to pay homage to a whole host of influences including Tolkien, Superman, Harry Potter, Spiderman, Buffy, etc. But that, I think, would be to give it far too much credit. Instead, I think the laziest team of hacks put this together out of all the "best bits" they lifted from all those precursors (and probably many more) as a cynical marketing exercise. In doing so, of course, they killed whatever magic there ever was in those references and turned this into a grab bag of pointlessness.

Isaac Asimov created three deceptively simple rules for his vision of psychotronic robotics. He then spent several decades exploring the dilemmas, paradoxes and corner cases that the logical application of these rules could throw up. The rules of the Lorien Universe read like the ad hoc mumblings of a teenage Dungeon Master, trying to force an outcome from an increasingly recalcitrant troupe of fantasy role players. As the underpinning framework for an actioner, they are woefully bad, and really don't stand up to the most cursory examination. They are presented as undisputed fact and their application relies on the assumption that the reader is an idiot who doesn't understand the way the world works. The Harry Potter magic may have been far-fetched, but it was informed by a certain consistency and had at it's centre a firm moral scaffold that supported the story and it's universal themes. This is the sheerest tripe by comparison.

The fact that it is already a movie, and a planned series, shows just how cynical these people are. It has no literary merit and will almost certainly have no cinematic merit if the movies is based on this horrible book.

I wish I could sue the authors for my money back, and for the time I wasted reading this steaming turd.

Avoid like the plague.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2011 10:10 AM GMT


The Internet Is a Playground
The Internet Is a Playground
by David Thorne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had a monkey too., 12 April 2010
A totally excellent read, full of wild humour and bizarre imagery. The cold hard logic of the absurd is brought to bear on those puffed-up officious idiots who attempt to cloak their self-important humourlessness with bloodless euphemism and code bigotry. There are some real guffaw moments here. And if you ever wanted to really confuse a seven year old little boy on his birthday - David Thorne will tell you how to do it.

Thoroughly recommended to anyone with a strong anti-authoritarian streak. This book really does make you laugh out loud.


Death Race [DVD]
Death Race [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason Statham
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £2.59

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excuuuuuse me? Whose copyright is that?, 10 May 2009
This review is from: Death Race [DVD] (DVD)
The hypocrisy of the traditional copyright threat at the front of this DVD is breathtaking. There's not an original idea in here. Okay, it's a 'reimagining' of 'Death Race 2000' - we'll accept that because it's open and acknowledged. But just how much of the content is ripped off from other better movies? Just about all of it. Let us try and count the ways:

"Mad Max 2" - fairly obvious - cars, truck, hairstyles, leather, oh the leather!
"Rollerball" (original) - star becomes too big for corporate overlord's comfort.
"The Mean Machine" - prisoner sport for the corrupt governor.
"Escape From New York" - it's on an island, where we keep all the dregs of society we don't consider human any more.
"Escape from Alcatraz" - it's on an island, blah, blah, blah ...
"The Running Man" - prisoners fight to the death for an illusory promise of freedom.

(I got a bit bored catching the plagiaristic references after a while).

Okay, that said, what did they make of this primeval soup of stolen goodness? Not a damn lot. The plot makes no sense. The characters make no sense. Even the situation makes no sense.

[SPOILER ALERT]

For example:-

If you've gone to the trouble of framing your lead character 6 months in advance, in order to get him to compete in your precious car race, why suddenly decide to kill him in the first few days of competition? That's a very inefficient use of resources and bespeaks a very bad manager.

If you've gone to the trouble of arranging your 3 day death match, why suddenly subvert your own income stream and objectives by introducing the laughable dreadnought to kill the majority of your competitors at an accelerated rate? More poor management and inefficient resource wastage.

If you've built your gladitorial arena out on "Terminal Island" (all the inmates wear tunics with the word 'Terminal' on the back, geddit?), instead of planting a crappy remote-controlled bomb on your scapegoat's car, why not permanently mine the miles long bridge to the mainland to ensure that no-one ever gets off the island? Very poor management.

Why is the identity of 'Frankenstein' so precious? So 'Frank' died. Why not just let Machine Gun Joe become the latest patsy? Who really cares about 'Frankenstein' in this movie apart from Joan Allen? (And we've just established how crap her character is).

And finally, the really basic evidence of the stupidity of this movie. Each driver is accompanied by a 'navigator' who is a sexy inmate of the Women's Prison. We are told that cars, guns and babes are a potent mix for their target audience. Got that. So then we are told that Machine Gun Joe, being homosexual, always has a male 'navigator'. Think about that. It makes no sense. The 'navigators' are there for the audience to lust over (although since they can't really be seen most of the time, I do question that logic too) not to meet the sexual needs of the drivers. So why would MGJ's sexual preferences make a blind bit of difference?

And why is each 'navigator' provided with an ejection seat in a sport that is designed to kill everyone?

And just how long does it take Jason "I can't act my way out of a paper bag" Statham to make friends with Ian "I'm not as sweary in this" McShane and his team of criminals with hearts of gold? Laugh? I nearly didn't.

There should be a special Oscar for the laziest, most clichéd writing in the movies. This film has to be a contender.

In the end I had to sit through a large part of this movie twice. Sometimes the action was so good, I just fell asleep.


Live In Gdansk (3CD & 2DVD)
Live In Gdansk (3CD & 2DVD)

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 23 Sep 2008
This is a truly lavish package. 2 CDs of the entire Gdansk concert. DVD of the concert film (niggle - not the complete concert end-to-end) and documentary. 2nd DVD of additional performances and jams, plus the full 'On An Island' album in 5.1 Surround. And then, just to cap it off - a CD compilation of other notable performances from the rest of 'On An Island' tour.

Various additional bits'n'bobs including postcards, facsimile ticket, backstage pass, poster, guitar pick and a detailed booklet.

Given the quality and breadth of what is given in this package, I have to take my hat off to EMI, Dave Gilmour and co. I am blown away by this release. All that for less than £40. Well worth waiting for.


Third
Third
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.98

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visceral, 28 April 2008
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
This is an album that requires full listener participation. Talking about it conveys nothing. Actively listening to it will either turn your stomach or send you into paroxysms of joy (me for the paroxysms, please).

By the way, if we're bandying opinions about detected musical influences, can I throw in the medieval plainsong of Hildegarde von Bingen for consideration (a slightly more fundamental form of 'Krautrock')?


Science vs.Evolution
Science vs.Evolution
by Malcolm Bowden
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is a religious tract, 27 April 2008
This review is from: Science vs.Evolution (Paperback)
The title of this book is deliberately deceptive. The targeted misuse of the words 'Science' and 'Evolution' has resulted in it being misclassified by booksellers (including both Amazon and Waterstones) as a credible science book. It is a religious tract. Anyone with an ounce of scientific or rational thought in them would realise that this title is oxymoronic. There is only one circumstance under which which science would ever be pitted "against" evolution, and that is if new evidence were discovered that refuted the current theory and supplanted it with a new, improved explanation of both the new evidence AND the existing evidence. This book does does nothing scientific. It is a religious tract by a man who also published "True Science Agrees With The Bible", a title which is at least honest about it's perspective. The fact that this book presents itself in such a deceitful manner is a demonstration of the desperate paucity of the argument it attempts to put.

This is one of the manifestations of the many anti-intellectual attempts to assert the christian creationist fairy tale and, as is often the case, it doesn't even have to honesty to represent itself as what it truly is. It attempts to assert that a belief system based on the mistranslated scribblings of the adherents of a middle eastern death cult from the bronze age trumps 5 centuries of systematic observation and scientific inquiry, derived from education and a complete disregard for unknowable mysteries.

The intellectual stance of this book is that those bronze age goat-herders knew all there ever was to know about life and the universe. Anything we don't know now needs no further investigation because, at the end of the day, "God did it" and the entire structure of physics, chemistry and biology is wholly dependant on the whim of "God", who just makes it up as he goes along. Who needs scientific inquiry when we have religious certainty?

Shame on Bowden for his intellectual deceit and shame on Amazon for being taken in and lending it a scientific credibility it does not deserve.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2010 6:50 PM GMT


300 (2 Disc Special Edition) [2007] [DVD]
300 (2 Disc Special Edition) [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gerard Butler
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.73

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never mind reality, feel the style, 15 Oct 2007
Historical accuracy - 0 stars. Right, got that out of the way.

Visual style - 5 stars. This is an extremely good looking movie. As it should be. The whole reason for making it seems to be to represent Frank Millar's visual style on the screen, and that's his bread-and-butter.

Action - 4 stars. Hey it's comic-book violence based on a comic-book source. What did you expect?

Plotting - 2 stars. Quite apart from the problems of historical inaccuracy, simplifications and time compressions, the plot makes no sense. Case in point - our 300 Spartan heroes are marching to Thermopylae to head off the Persian hordes. Somehow they contrive to be BEHIND the Persian front line in order to witness the aftermath of the destruction of a Greek town, then suddenly they are IN FRONT of the Persian front line to head them off at the pass. Geographically, temporally and logistically that's a bunch of lazy plotting, just to fit in the image of the body-laden tree.

Acting/Characterisation - 1 star. The bravura shouting of "Sparta!" and "Spartans!" is all very Brian Blessed-like, and since he and his style have now transcended parody and become a National Treasure, it probably cannot be criticised. But otherwise, the whole thing is as wooden as a Trojan horse. What Dominic West was doing in this movie beats me. I mean, surely they should have let him grow a moustache so that he could twirl it in time-honoured villainous fashion, in case we were in any lingering doubt that his cardboard character was a bad hat.

Eye candy for the non-squeamish.


Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd
Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd
by Mark Blake
Edition: Hardcover

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filling the empty spaces, 1 Oct 2007
Having enjoyed Nick Mason's insider's view of the Floyd, I found this book to be the perfect companion volume. Blake doesn't suffer from Mason's need to ameliorate the bad feeling and massage the egos of the people with whom he grew up. This means Blake can take a more objective assessment of what happened with Syd Barrett, and just exactly what went on during the recording of "The Wall" to kick off such bad vibes between Roger Waters and the rest of the band. Where Nick Mason, diplomatically following Gilmour's lead, chose to 'forget' details, Blake interviews not just the band members, but others who were involved on the management, production and session aspects. Nobody comes out smelling of roses, and it's clear that there was often more than two sides to many of the conflicts, and more players than those who were officially in the band.

An excellent book for anyone interested in the Floyd story.


Signs [DVD]
Signs [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson|Joaquin Phoenix|Rory Culkin
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.73

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven attention to detail, 7 April 2003
This review is from: Signs [DVD] (DVD)
So, in "traditional" Shyamalan style, the clues are all in place and the climax of the movie resounds with satisfying clicks as each element drops into place. It was all in front of you and this is how it all fits together. Superb craftsmanship and plotting on this front.
As always, Shyamalan takes an oblique view of things that are often cliched in other movies. In this drama we are presented with the close family perspective of a global event - an alien invasion. This aspect of the movie is handled superbly and the interplay of emotions and build up of tension is almost physically palpable. The journey of Mel Gibson's character - from a man of lost faith (except it's a bit more subtle than that - Mel hasn't stopped believing in God, he's started hating God) to regaining it is pretty obviously on the cards from early on in the film.
Unfortunately, given his usual attention to detail, I was disappointed by Shyamalan's failure to keep his eye on the whole ball of wax. As you watch the credits roll there are several important questions that come to mind: 1) Given the technological ability of the aliens, why do they need such primitive navigational beacons as crop circles? 2) Given their adverse reaction to water, why attack a big blue wet world like Earth? 3) Assuming they have to invade Earth, whose environment is so wet and hostile to them, why not wear a mackintosh and a hat to keep the rain off? 4) Having crossed light years of interstellar space, in a conquering armada of force-field protected ships, why is it necessary to drop you invasion force of unarmed "soldiers" into countryside far from inhabited areas, naked, where they might accidentally get locked in a cupboard and be unable to escape? 5) How arrogant does Mel Gibson's character have to be, to require a complex set of interlocking miracles and a global invasion of aliens before he'll accept God again?
Good supense movie, but far too many holes to be completely satisfying. "Sixth Sense" was the best. "Unbreakable" fell over at the end when the internal logic collapsed into the sort of premise that only a 6 year old could stomach. "Signs" sits in between. The craft is superb and much of the writing is exquisite, but there are too many many shortcuts and off the cuff assumptions for me.


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