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ratmonkey (Hardy Country)

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H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Collection
H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Collection

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unameably chilling, 3 Aug. 2012
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Lovecraft's works are beyond critique as they have been absorbed into the literary underbelly of studied supernatural horror. The only thing I will say is that Lovecraft's real skill was to be one of the first horror writers to inject the feeling of the 'other' into otherwise wordly domains; essentially making the unbelievable believable, if only for a brief moment. In a sense he created the spooky twist that so many Twilight Zone episodes relied upon. And he wrote with a laboured quotidian style that aided the final reveal.

For me it is a complete delight to read anything by this author which was why this Kindle edition of (pretty much) EVERY work of fiction he had written - novellas, short stories, collaborations and juvenilia (ommitting poetry and essays to a large degree) - was such a joy to behold, especially at the price.

The only down side is the actual amount of work. There are no page numbers as such which makes it difficult to negotiate but this can be rectified by bookmarking and returning to the contents page.

On the whole a whopping amount of value at the touch of a button. Chilling!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2014 8:05 PM BST

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol [DVD]
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Cruise control, 3 Aug. 2012
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As some have mentioned, this is not a cerebral experience but I am unsure why anyone watching any Mission Impossible film would ever expect that it would be. This is an action thriller, dumb and brash and extremely unlikely. It is a work of escapist fiction where the audience must suspend their disbelief a little to invest in an over-the-top international espionage and terrorism plot played out by characters who are a little 'extra' human. It is a comic book film of sorts. And it is a very good one. It's fun.

One of the main reasons why this works better than the other films in the series is Cruise's portrayal. He is reined in by the director (and, I believe, by himself) in order to give the supporting cast space to act. He is still the 'hero' or main protagonist, there are no illusions about that, but he is far more likeable and grounded in this instalment. And he even has an interesting back story that ties in with Jeremy Renner's (the new Bourne!) character rather splendidly.

The plot is ridiculous and the set pieces wholly implausible but they are certainly staged with aplomb and extract much suspense from the situations, as well as even some startling twists. The scenes in Dubai where Hunt has to scale the Burj Khalifa are stunningly silly but palm-sweatingly good. Onwards to Mumbai and then back to Seattle, they certainly rack up a few stamps on their ghost passports. And it is fun to see the team working without back-up and the least amount of gizmos to aid them.

The denouement where the new team disband with new missions and the Hunt sub-plot comes to a sad but fitting resolution is a perfect way to both move on and leave the possibility of sequels open.

Highly recommended for action film junkies. Art house lovers need not apply - but they already know that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2012 6:07 AM BST

Too Fast For Love
Too Fast For Love
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £19.16

4.0 out of 5 stars Wired, 2 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Too Fast For Love (Audio CD)
The first, and some say the best, Too Fast is definitely their best statement of intent. Rough, heavy, sleazy and catchy, this was the Crue at their unhinged finest before the ballads crept in from Theatre of Pain onwards.

Best tracks are 'Live Wire', 'Publice Enemie No 1' and the title track but the rest is all chunky, rawk heaven too. A not-so guilty pleasure.

The Karate Kid 2 [DVD]
The Karate Kid 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ralph Macchio
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £8.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miyagi Do!, 2 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Karate Kid 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Not as good as the original but still heaps of fun. The story takes a while to set up and it does get very cheesy and pan-pipy in parts but that is all part of the charm. The original KK trilogy has dated and are now part of the 80s era for the rest of time which is perfect for nostalgia-hounds like myself reliving the golden days of fun films, made with panache and passion, not breaking any records or turning any critics heads but simply entertaining the masses briefly (or for the rest of your life depending on how old you were at the time!).

This follows Miyagi and Daniel-san back to the former's old stamping grounds in Okinawa. It's got the usual close-to-home peril and nasty industry magnate, Sato and of course the love interest also comes from the same camp, forcing loyalties to cheesy breaking points and pointless dancing.

But it all works wonderfully and again climaxes with another uber-move from Daniel.

Not one for those who grew up in the post Jurassic Park cgi era as some may find it slightly boring and nowhere near a classic. But I love it.

Still Climbing
Still Climbing

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long road..., 1 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Still Climbing (Audio CD)
Similar in quality to their 3rd release, Heartbreak Station, Still Climbing also ramps up the rock n roll. Where the 1st 2 albums stayed in the auspices of 80s glam rock, this and Heartbreak Station broke out of the loose genre shackles and partook of an almost country-style quest, musically. And it worked to an extent. But they never seemed to relive the magic of their genre-bendre days, mixing glam metal with blues and country. And while Still Climbing is still a good album it does not contain any such classics as 'Gypsy Road', 'Shake Me' or 'Nobody's Fool'.

Opener' Bad Attitude Shuffle' is an ok slice of rocky blues but no way to begin an album. ' All Come Down' is a little better, and after a while the broad sound settles into a passable rock n roll number with a gospel feel. 'Talk Is Cheap' is the first quite good track. It's unabashedly glammy in nature albeit rock n roll in practice, but it has a good hook and a decent chorus, just don't expect to be hooked straightaway. Ballad 'Hard to Find the Words' is also very good but needs time to settle also. A lot of the melodies here are very subtle and get lost in a couple of spins. It's no 'Don't know What Ya Got Til its Gone' but it's ok. 'Blood from a Stone' is another more fun track with lots of screeching guitars and another decent chorus. No classic but one of the better tracks. The title track is perfectly placed smack in the middle of the album. It's thoughtful, understated and really very good. It can sound a bit 'Young Guns' in places but it does the job well.

'Freewheelin' is another similar to 'Talk is Cheap'. It is with these more upbeat tracks where the album actually comes into its own. Very good. Despite there being a lot of ordinary or middle of the road songs, 'Through the Rain' is the only one I didn't actually like or enjoy. It's a ballad too far and performs as an amalgam of all that is cliched about these kinds of rock ballads. And it's just a very boring song. Thankfully it is followed by 'Easy Come, Easy Go' which is another pacey, rocky winner. 'Road's Still Long' is another passable paean to the ups and downs of the industry and life in general, in ballad-esque form. And 'Hot and Bothered' finishes it off with another blast of cheesy, glammy, rock n rolly near-perfection.

It takes a lot of effort to tap into what wonders there are within Cinderella's 4th album. It is almost worth it but I'm hoping to gain more from every listen so my opinion could change in the future. If you didn't like Heartbreak Station then it's probably best to avoid this, as well as if you like the first 2 albums. It was made in a very dubious backdrop, musically. 1994 was (in the UK) the playground of the Britpop and dance acts. This kind of music was considered a backwards step and disappeared very quickly. But it is also not hard to see why it didn't do too well elsewhere either. It's not a bad album, in fact it can be quite uplifting at times. But it's nothing new, different or, really, anything particularly interesting musically. It is a rock n roll album with leanings towards country, blues and gospel, released when those genres were very rarely appreciated or listened to.

Cocoon [DVD]
Cocoon [DVD]
Dvd ~ Don Ameche
Price: £2.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm and cosy, 1 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Cocoon [DVD] (DVD)
On of the first Ron Howard films, and as with Splash, Coccoon exhibits a 'niceness' that permeates a lot of the director's earlier works(and indeed some latter). Today (2012) it might not hold up quite so well with a younger audience but I have fond memories of this blockbuster of sorts back when it was released. The effects at the time were some of the best, but alas the cgi playing field has changed dramatically in those 20+ years.

As a film and a story in its own right it still works however. All the actors are top notch. Guttenburg is sufficiently 'Guttenburgy' and no doubt put a few bums on seats but it is the older cast that shine and are the heart of this film. Jessica Tandy, Don Ameche and Wilford Brimble all excel in very understated but touching roles. But it is Jack Gilford as Bernie who steals the show as the unexpected soul of the piece. His humanity and humility and honesty leads to a more touching ending than simply a boat-load of septogenarians riding off into the sunset to live forever. And Brian Dennehy is always worth the price tag!

Modest, moving and emotional. With aliens.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2014 7:01 AM BST

True Defiance
True Defiance
Price: £21.93

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crux, 26 July 2012
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This review is from: True Defiance (Audio CD)
I have followed Demon Hunter (DH) since their second release, Summer of Darkness(SOD - possibly their best offering to date) and almost every album is reliably and consistently excellent. To echo another reviewer here SOD, Triptych and Storm the Gates of Hell are without a doubt the best material they have produced, with World is a Thorn coming a close second and their debut fitting into the category of good but not great (like so many debut albums). Their most recent effort is sadly on a par with the debut in quality, despite there being a handful of great tracks. Most DH albums have mainly high quality metal tracks with possibly one or two middling affairs. True Defiance (TD) is half and half. And in all honesty (and only my opinion of course) I cannot say with any degree of truth that there are any 5 star classics. I don't know why but this just seemed a little lacklustre and a little samey.

It is definitely heavy but also does have moments of beauty, which is something of a DH trademark, namely 'Tomorrow Never Comes' and 'Dead Flowers'. And these are some of the best material. When it does rock, like in 'Wake' it does so superbly but seems as if some excellent breakdowns and riffs have been slotted in to a mediocre track, which is exactly what 'Wake' is. Which is a shame because it IS brutal. Opener 'Crucifix' just about works but not even half as well as 'Storm the Gates of Hell', although thankfully much better than 'The World is a Thorn'. And I suppose the single 'My Destiny' is pretty good, but it does sound like a manafactured track and one not quite as equal to any on past albums.

This continues with 'Someone to Hate', 'This I Know', 'We Don't Care' and 'Resistance'. The latter two actually are quite good, but 'quite good' doesn't cut it on an album by a usually phenomenal band. It is with the two aforementioned slower, almost-ballads and the excellent second track, 'God Forsaken', which reminds of the unbeatable 'Sixteen' from Storm the Gates of Hell (STGOH), where the album gets most of its greatness. And it's not enough.

Just a mention about the deluxe edition's two extra tracks. These help to make the album better and should have been included as 'normal' additions as they are both excellent. 'What is Left' is possibly the best track 'not' on the album which is a huge shame as to buy the cd will take more than £50 off you (which is robbery and something that should be rectified by the band and/or record company). And 'I am a Stone' is a beautiful, orchestral and electronic ballad that they do so well. It would be preferable to release a few more deluxe editions to the populace in cd format (they are very affordable as downloads but there's nothing quite like a hard copy to call your own :)) so that the lucky few who can acquire them cannot sell them for inordinate amounts here on Amazon (rant over).

So if you can download the deluxe version as the extra tracks do add to the collection, but as a whole it is probably the most lacking DH album since the debut in 2002. But it' still Demon Hunter. Which means that it's still far better than a lot of the competition.

Clockwork Angels
Clockwork Angels
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Halo Effect, 25 July 2012
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This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
And so the Rush canon grows and their caravan trundles on through rock's dusty, wending by-ways. It would be futile of me to attempt to critique this as anything other than yet another Rush album. Every one has been different, used different techniques and structures and instruments and tone and subject matter. I could compare this to A Farewell to Kings or 2112 but that would do an injustice to all 3 albums. I could also mention that it bares a resemblance to their most recent effort prior to this opus, Snakes and Arrows, but is also somehow competely unrelated. I could perhaps agree as well that it is very dissimilar to a lot of their 80s output, but then most of that was different individually also. I could say a lot of things, but I won't.

I will say that in order to appreciate a Rush album, you have to listen to it. And listen to it a lot. There are new aspects to much of their back catalogue that I am only just stumbling upon after many listens. Clockwork Angels is no exception. And I will also say that it is as accessible as Snakes and Arrows, despite it's concept. I didn't like it. Then I did. Then I loved it. Now it is ready for real scrutiny. It will last, as their other releases have and will, for as long as I do, showing me something different every time I dust it off and start again.

You don't review a Rush album. You don't listen to a Rush album. You are exposed to it. You take it with you.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2012 2:34 PM BST

Iced Earth
Iced Earth
Price: £10.65

3.0 out of 5 stars Signs of life (and death), 25 July 2012
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This review is from: Iced Earth (Audio CD)
As a relatively long term Iced Earth (IE) fan (from Something Wicked, the original album), their first album was ironically and regrettably the last I bought. Being aware of the earlier material of the band, having acquired Night of the Stormrider (NOTS) and Burnt Offerings some years ago, I was pretty certain what the debut would sound like. And I wasn't wrong. It is similar to NOTS in almost every conceivable way. It is a concept album of sorts, is power chord happy and disposes with melody, a little like a watered down death metal band. IE are more trad-metal focussed and, on the evidence of this, always have been. It is rawer and less commercial (for IE) than their more recent albums but debut albums, especially metal ones, usually are. That said, I found it a good addition to their back catalogue but not a great one. They definitely have seasoned with age and these days (2012) always seem to deliver the goods. Their debut has moments of brilliance but also a lot of mediocre slabs of metal that seem superfluous.

Title track and eponymous opener is not the best introduction to the band. It is a good song but no more. It is not particularly memorable but does have a driving, now trademark IE galloping rhythm (itself slightly pilfered from Iron Maiden) and a decent chorus. Follower, 'Written on the Walls' is equally as good but no better. The riffs are chunky and aplenty but the nuance and delicacy are absent. 'Colors' follows suit but in a lesser fashion; it is average at best. And 'Curse the Sky', while a nice ballad (of sorts) is still a merely passable track. 'Life and Death' is better but only in comparison to the opening 2 tracks.

The real heart of the album, and where we see the band begin to mature, is from tracks 6 - 8. 'Solitude' is a soothing 2 minutes of acoustic dark beauty that segues wonderfully into the instrumental (except for a few bars of spoken word) and brilliant 'Funeral'. However these are not perfect and IE have produced far more rousing and 'classic' songs later on in their career, but they are diamonds sparkling out of the pit so to speak. 'When the Night Falls' is equally as good, slightly too long at 8+ minutes, but has a great chorus and is structured near perfectly.

Despite a wonky first half the album pulls itself out of the mire and produces a great mini saga to finish on and whet the appetite for NOTS. This is not great but if you are a fan then it is a definite must, as I personally prefer this to the over-egged Burnt Offerings. But if you are new to IE it would probably be better to start with something newer, either Something Wicked, Horror Show or The Glorious Burden (which has the career best Gettysberg opus tacked on).

The Episodes
The Episodes
Price: £8.87

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Saggy saga, 18 July 2012
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This review is from: The Episodes (Audio CD)
I have always respected Taproot as they have constantly produced album after album of consistent quality. But I am also aware of their constraints. They are not up there with the elite A-list of metal and rock's pantheon and possibly never will be. They write relatively safe (although not too safe) 3-4 minute heavy rock/metal tracks with clean singing and great choruses. Some of their material is mediocre. Some of it is very good. Some of it is outstanding. But never is it groundbreaking or does it ever herald a future headlining festivals. Which is fine. Which is kind of why I like them. They arrived when nu-metal did but managed to stick around and, more importantly, not change too much, musically, showing that their material was strong enough to survive the backlash and death of the genre. And they are GOOD. All of their previous 5 albums have been worth every penny. The Episodes, however, while it not being a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, is probably their 'least best' so far. And it has little to do with Stephen Hawking.

The concept and the running arc throughout do actually aid the tone. It feels like an album that is consistent, obvious thought has gone into its creation and it does have a handful of very good songs. The robotic voice does fit in with this. It can be distracting and a little bewildering as to the reasons for its inclusion at times but it helps to link the tracks and themes. The problem is with the quality of the songs themselves. Taproot have softened slightly. This was evident on Our Long Road Home but it didn't matter because the songs were all so brilliant. Then Plead the Fifth ramped up the heavy back to Welcome levels but kept the same songwriting excellence. This recent addition has the feel of OLRH but none of the oomph (for need of an actual word).

Opener 'Good Morning' starts it all off well. Very moody and with a great understated chorus. 'No Surrender', the single, has a great pace to the verses but as a whole it doesn't sound quite as good as a lot of there previous singles. This sort of track they can usually DO. Well. This seems slightly lacklustre, although it is not bad at all, just could have been much better in my opinion. 'Lost Boy' is another 3 minute, hook-laden joy. 'Memorial Park' is the ballad of sorts. It does a good job but also feels lacking as a whole. Another good but no cigar effort. 'The Everlasting' though is brilliant and could possibly be the best track here. But it is not close to some of the classics (for them) they have produced on other albums (Poem, Birthday, No View is True to name but a tiny few).

The latter half of the album just seems to be mediocre, by-the-numbers track after track. None are bad but there is little to become excited about. 'A Golden Grey' is the only one that is of note, it being actually quite good indeed. The closer is one of the least exciting tracks. It is slow and melancholy and has few good moments musically.

This is not at all a bad album, and if you are a fan then I would recommend it, but it is not up to their usual excellent standard. Which is a shame considering that the concept album idea could have been a wealth of creativity.

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