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The 10th Kingdom
The 10th Kingdom
Dvd ~ Rutger Hauer

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Inventive Fantasy, 30 Aug. 2009
This review is from: The 10th Kingdom (DVD)
What if fairytales were real? What if long ago the Brothers Grimm had travelled to another dimension, and their stories were in fact the tales from this alternate universe? That's essentially the questions The 10th Kingdom sets out to answer, albeit with less fluff and more humour then you might imagine. In fact, somewhat unexpectedly, the story starts with a Manhattan waitress named Virginia and her lazy, if underappreciated father Tony, both of whom dream of better things. Their lives are turned upside down when they run across a dog who seems to understand English, a man who is in fact half-wolf and three hair-metal trolls, all of whom lead (...or follow... or chase...) Virginia and Tony through the portal from whence they came into the fairytale world of the Nine Kingdoms. The following nine hours feature Virginia and Tony running into all sorts of fairytale characters and creatures as they try to help the dog (who is actually a Prince) get his body back and prevent an Evil Queen from taking over the land.
Of course, anyone with any understanding of fairytales at all can guess how it's going to end (the term "happily ever after" springs immediately to mind...) and the American insistence on a moralistic outcome can at times become grating (for example the demise of certain characters can seem unspectacular and forced, played out more out of necessity then anything else) but these are minor flaws compared to the pull of the series as a whole, and it still warrants 5 stars in my book.
More often then not the series takes a fresh look at the fairytale world, twisting our expectations and providing glorious visuals (fantastic costumes and environments, as well as special effects that can still stand up against modern TV shows ten years after the series was made).
I can also say with confidence that there weren't any actors who stood out negatively (though Camryn Manheim seemed a slightly odd choice for Snow White) and includes many English actors as well as American.
Though the series is on the whole family friendly, there a few raunchy moments (though it's all largely just implied) and references to drug use, only one of which is blatant to adults (but possibly not to children) and the other relatively harmless but continuous reference to magic being addictive (which thankfully, no one in the real world will ever be able to test).

As for the DVDs themselves: I recommend the Region 2 Dutch version mainly because it will play on any UK DVD player but also because this is a considerably longer cut then the US version (I think it's about 50 mins longer?). The Dutch menus are simple and easy enough to navigate even for those who speak no Dutch (which includes myself) and the subtitles can be easily got rid of by the press of a button on your remote control. The first disc contains biographies of the cast and characters (including character information not revealed in the show itself), and the third disc contains a "Making of" documentary.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2009 10:57 AM GMT


Restoration [1995] [Import] [DVD]
Restoration [1995] [Import] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Grant
Offered by brrsales
Price: £14.99

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, now where's our copy?, 3 Feb. 2009
Restoration follows a young doctor (Robert Merivel played by Robert Downey, Jr.) in the 17th century whose skill gain him favour with Charles II (Sam Neil), who weds him to his own mistress as a paper-groom under the condition that he does not fall in love with her, in return for his own estate. Predictably, Merivel begins to fall for the woman and ultimately falls from paradise, from which he must redeem himself.
The movie is effectively split into two parts; the first half of which focuses on Merivel's rise to power and how he loses sight of what brought him to the king's attention in the first place - his skill at medicine. The costumes and interiors in this section of the movie are breathtaking, and the tone of the movie light-hearted and comedic in places. The latter half of the movie, however, is far darker and focuses on Merivel's rediscovery of medicine and having to deal with the loss of friends and lovers, as well as plague-ridden London.
Merivel is a character who, at the start of the movie seems to be nothing more then a fool doomed to learn his lessons the hard way, but we can never truly dislike him thanks to the charming naivety Robert Downey, Jr. brings to the role. Sam Neill makes for a charismatic Charles II and David Thewlis gives a respectable performance as Merivel's straight-laced best friend. Indeed all the performances are well done save for Meg Ryan's Irish madwoman who, unfortunately, seems far too over the top even for someone insane.
Some may argue that the movie takes a turn for the worse during the second half however I believe it's a crucial turning point with regards to Merivel as a character. The audience may sympathise with him to a point, but it is not until a scene close to the end of the movie in which London's burning do we realise that we've come to know the character, and genuinely want a happy ending for him. Personally, I find both halves of the movie so full of emotional ups and downs that I can't help but love the entire thing.

As for the DVD itself, I chose to buy the Dutch version because it is Region 2, and, although I own a Region 1 DVD player, I wanted to be able to play the movie on any one of my consoles. The Dutch version contains no extras and has Dutch subtitles, which can only be gotten rid of if your DVD remote has a subtitle button, or if you are playing the DVD on a computer games console, as there is no option in the menu screens of the DVD to turn subtitles off.
Another minus point compared with the Region 1 version is that the cover is some of the worst packaging I have ever seen. The cover image is misleading, a picture of, I assume both RDJ and Meg Ryan during what I imagine is an intimate moment, despite the fact that the love story in the movie is barely even a subplot. The back cover too shows no stills of the movie, so if you aren't well informed of the movies content, and don't speak Dutch, you probably won't gain much information from the cover.
As well as this, Hugh Grant's name is largest and first in the credits, although he only cameos. Misleading as these things are, the movie itself is still sound, and if you prioritise playability (in other words, if you want to lend the movie to a friend or watch it on a number of different DVD players) over aesthetics then go with this Region 2 version, otherwise go for the American version.

One last thing; why no release over in this country anyway???
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2011 2:10 PM BST


Danger Zone [DVD]
Danger Zone [DVD]
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £1.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Action? Yes. Substance? Not so much..., 26 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Danger Zone [DVD] (DVD)
A fair enough action film, with some nice explosions and fight scenes which will entertain but you'll find little else here as the storyline is ultimately forgettable.
Billy Zane does a good enough job as the lead, even if all you remember of his character is Zane's charming smile, but why he isn't on the cover is anyone's guess, as Robert Downey, Jr.'s character, though more entertaining, spends entirely too much time off-screen.
Ultimately, Danger Zone is an action movie in which action is pretty much all you get and what dialogue there is isn't particularly interesting - it's mediocre in every sense, and what you don't see in the trailer probably isn't worth seeing. At the very least, the cast are pretty enough to keep you from switching off, even if you lose sight of exactly what's going on - Danger Zone never really asks for more then that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2011 10:52 PM BST


In Dreams [DVD]
In Dreams [DVD]
Dvd ~ Annette Bening
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Enigma, 26 Dec. 2008
This review is from: In Dreams [DVD] (DVD)
In Dreams is the story of a woman who dreams through the eyes of a killer, however it isn't that simple, as the dreams involve the people she loves, and the actions the killer takes soon begin to reflect her own... If the premise sounds confusing, that's because it is, though whether or not this is a film about possession, a psychic link between characters or something else entirely is neither here nor there. It is, as one would expect from a Neil Jordan film, a beautiful enigma. Even if you don't appreciate the storyline, the visuals will surely have you hooked.
Annette Bening does a superb job of acting insane but therein lies part of the problem. It's hard to understand her character as we're never really sure if she's actually insane, possessed, driven to the brink of madness by her dreams or all three and more, and it isn't helped when her character shows signs of such madness from the off and I often found myself wondering which we're supposed to believe.
Robert Downey, Jr. does a fantastic job as the chillingly beautiful killer (decked out in a long red wig and bright green contacts) but doesn't appear (properly) on screen until the latter third of the movie, despite his character's presence throughout the films entirety, which is a shame considering how unlike his usual roles Vivian is.
Symbolism runs rampant (apples. Heaps and heaps of apples...) and a beautiful score guides you through a number of surreal flashbacks, however you will, ultimately be left wondering how exactly these people ended up sharing one another's dreams, how many of them are actually mad (even the over trusting children don't seem to be all there) and how much of the copious symbolism is a dream and which is real, but you'll have an enjoyable time doing it - the elegant visuals make sure of that.


Wolverine: Evolution Premiere HC: Evolution Premiere
Wolverine: Evolution Premiere HC: Evolution Premiere
by Simone Bianchi
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trying too hard to be epic..., 13 Nov. 2007
Here we have a title that tries quite hard to be important and overshoots the runway...
Basically, the story focuses on what could be the final clash between Wolverine and Sabretooth. Sabretooth being my favourite Marvel character, and the rivalry between these characters also being my favourite, I felt it my duty to buy this book (having only glanced at Wolverine Issue 55 in the past).
Well, where to begin? Bianchi's art would probably be the best place to start, it's nothing short of gorgeous and beautifully detailed, making each fight between these characters (and of course there are a lot of those throughout this book) as exhilarating as the next. And the dialogue itself is not that bad either, or at least, both Wolverine and Sabretooth remain in character. However if you are keeping up with any other X-men titles, the problems with the writing become glaringly obvious pretty quickly.
The book opens with Wolverine challenging Sabretooth at the X-mansion. If you have been following the X-men storyline however, this makes little sense. Yes, Sabretooth was being held at the mansion for a while (as seen in X-men: Supernovas), but never living comfortably as he's shown here. Well, maybe the X-men gave him a break? We can only speculate. However small this mistake may be, it's a prime example of how Loeb seems to be making things up as he goes along.
So the book focuses mainly on Wolverine's amalgam of memories and flashbacks, and where Sabretooth ties in with all this. Somehow we are presented with the fact that, since it's been established that the two are not related that perhaps they are descended from a species of wolf men. Personally though, I'd always considered Sabretooth to be more closely linked with wild cats, his name being the first clue. This can of course be dodged by saying "Yeah, well, it's just a name." Yes, the two have similar looks and mutations. So why not have them descended from a species of wolf creatures? Then Sasquatch, Feral, Thorrn and Wolfsbane show up, and it's suggested that they too are related to this theory. Not sure how though. Not sure it matters either.
Which is pretty much how I felt about this whole book. I enjoyed it, essentially, because the art was fantastic and on the surface the dialogue seems good too. The fight scenes between Wolvie and Sabes are all pretty intense but in the end I just felt as though none of what had been revealed throughout really mattered.
Something BIG happens to Sabretooth, Wild Child makes an appearance and comments on how the fact that Logan has black hair and Creed has blonde is supposed to mean something (again... how?) and a new enemy is revealed. But it all feels a bit like a drunken dream then a storyline that actually fits into the X-canon.

However, despite the flaws in storyline this book contains some... interesting (for want of a better word) revelations that could be considered quite important if you want to understand the characters better, or they could, conversely, ruin the character entirely for you. Either way, it seems as though a little (however small) amount of this storyline will have some effect on other X-titles, therefore I consider it worth the read. IF what happens to Sabretooth weren't such a big deal, I'd recommend the book more because the storyline might have been able to stand up on it's own without effecting other storylines in the X-universe, and thus we could pretend it never existed. As it is, I'm afraid it doesn't.


Tomb Raider: Anniversary (PS2)
Tomb Raider: Anniversary (PS2)
Offered by APE-GAMES
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice long nostalgia trip, 11 July 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I would recommend this game to those who've played TR1 over people new to the franchise because, at the time, TR1 was totally original and mind-blowing, and therefore it follows that the remake is not (remaking a unique game is something of an oxymoron). Playing the original obviously has its advantages, though it surprisingly has a few disadvantages also. Tomb Raider Anniversary starts with you controlling Lara in the Himalayas, as did the original, however it requires you to manually open the door using the switch shown in TR1s cut scene. Though the switch is easy to find, there are numerous moments like this in Tomb Raider Anniversary in which you will think "Ah! I remember where THAT is!" if you've played the original. Unfortunately, it's not always the case, as many of the puzzles have been altered, for better or worse. Another problem, one would assume, is that you know when frightening moments are to occur and thus may find yourself unphased by them, but I myself found the anticipation of what I knew was about to happen to be a real adrenaline rush.
The environments themselves stay fairly true to the original, but look ten times better, but they are also on a far smaller scale, which can be forgiven as something so visually stunning need not be so big.
With regards to the atmosphere of the game, which made the first so exciting, there is the lack of both music (except at certain points in the game) and people talking in your ear (as they did in Tomb Raider Legend) that adds to the feeling of isolation. Add to this the fact that Lara is an ordinary human being and isn't about to develop super powers to traverse tough objects and you have yourself a thoroughly enjoyable situation - alone with a pair of guns and all manner of wild and evil creatures roaming the area and no way of telling when or where they will pop out at you.
The controls really aren't all that bad, in fact they are vastly better then the original. Following a grid system in TR1 meant fleeing from enemies/boulders etc become frustrating fast because Lara could never quite manage to turn a quick corner without jumping. Now of course she can run in any direction with the use of the analog stick, and, though the jumps she performs are less impressive as far as distance or height is concerned, they are a lot more realistic (rather like Lara's anatomy). Now and again Lara does encounter problems with doing what you tell her to do, and no Internet walkthrough can advise you differently, the room of Damocles being the most popular example in which you must perform a jump backwards off a wall whilst using your grapple - the first time I managed this jump I got cocky and found myself missing the next, and frankly easy jump, which meant having to attempt the grapple-wall-jump about thirty more times.
Although the game has it's minor problems, the positive feelings it evokes (nostalgia, excitement and a good adrenaline rush) far out way the games bad points, despite the fact that the reasonably attractive pixel-chick Natla now looks somewhat like a horse.


Earthian Volume 3: (Yaoi): v. 3
Earthian Volume 3: (Yaoi): v. 3
by Yun Kouga
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, emotional and beautiful., 3 Jun. 2007
This is probably my favourite volume of Earthian, for various reasons. Firstly, it's the end of the main story. Yes, there is a fourth volume, but that consists of shorter stories that, though related to the main story, are really just extras. So volume three is really the concluding part of Earthian.

But there is a good reason why I love this volume more then the others... we finally get the long awaited yaoi scene. It is non-explicit, and is more suggestive then anything else, but it is beautiful none the less. That does not necessarily mean a happy ending... a topic much discussed throughout Earthian is homosexuality, and whether or not it is right or wrong. Granted, that point of view is rather dated now, but the characters Chihaya and Kagetsuya come from a world in which homosexuality is a crime, so the view is, at least, justified. So the story itself represents love-against-all-odds, a beautiful concept in itself, however Chihaya and Kagetsuya do not go unpunished for their "crimes" and the two are put on trial. Without spoiling the story, this particular scene is wrought with emotion and Yun Kouga's story-telling shines brightest here, with characters' speech and inner thoughts hitting the reader - hard.

Yes, Earthian has always been a bit of a tear-jerker, but this volume is by far the strongest, in all aspects (Yun Kouga's style was also evidently evolving, if one compares it to the first page of the first volume).

There is only one minor downer with regards to this book; some have claimed the main story remains unfinished, and this is partly the reason Yun Kouga released the final volume of mini-stories (volume 4). I however think the "cliff-hanger" ending (if one can call it that) adds impact, implying bucket loads with regards to "power" of the human race.


Yaoi Gothic: An Explicit Sketchbook
Yaoi Gothic: An Explicit Sketchbook
by Laura Carboni
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relentless, yet superb detail..., 3 Jun. 2007
Before buying this book, there are a couple of things you MUST take note of! One is that it is NOT a manga, meaning there is no speech in any of it, and all the images are in black and white. The second is that it IS an explicit sketchbook, and, unlike most yaoi, no part of the characters' anatomy is left to the imagination, so do NOT buy this if you are under 18.

So the good and the bad? Well firstly, we have the set of images by Laura Carboni that start off the book and revolve around the characters depicted on the front cover. These are all painstakingly detailed and absolutely gorgeous and they tell the story of what appears to be a count and his lover, and the manservant who gets mixed up in between. Since all the images tend to follow on from one another, it's quite fun trying to figure out the story behind each. These being the most detailed images in the book, they are also the most explicit, AND the most sexy.

After these we have a bit of a mixed bag. There are a couple of similarly gorgeous styles, Le Peruggine's for example (the new illustrator of Winter Demon), as well as images by Dany & Dany (if you've read Idol or Wishing for the Moon you'll recognise the style instantly), however the majority of the images following Carboni's are lesser in quality and can feel like a bit of a disappointment in comparison.

It's still worth the money if you're looking for some truly hard-core yaoi images to drool over however, despite Carboni's style making the others pale in comparison.


IDOL (Yaoi)
IDOL (Yaoi)
by Dany&Dany
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.49

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 23 Mar. 2007
This review is from: IDOL (Yaoi) (Paperback)
The first thing I have to say about this book is that I was very impressed! So often an artist's coloured pictures fails to echo the art within but the beauty of the art you seen on the cover is continuous throughout this book. And unlike so many books published by Yaoi Press, the title story is the ONLY story in it, meaning it fills the book as opposed to ending halfway through (though there is a small preview for Wishing for the Moon by the same authors at the end).

At first I was afraid the style of art might make the men appear too feminine, but I was wrong, they always have chiselled jaws and rippling muscles and are easily distinguishable from the women within the story.

The story itself revolves around a young artist (David) who lacks inspiration, until he finds Adam, a male prostitute. At first it seems David's interest in Adam is unrequited, however the two eventually begin to feel for one another and... well I won't spoil it. There are a few (yaoi) sex scenes, each of which is erotic but there is one major point to be made when buying this manga; there is no set uke and seme. For me, this makes for a much more realistic and enjoyable read, but some people like their uke's to be feminine and beautiful and there seme's to be complete control freaks. If this sort of contrived yaoi is for you then Idol is NOT but if you want something slightly more realistic, and beautiful to behold, then buy Idol without a doubt!


Altered Beast (PS2)
Altered Beast (PS2)
Offered by Click4entertainment Limited
Price: £39.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a patch on the original but..., 30 Dec. 2006
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Altered Beast (PS2) (Video Game)
Altered Beast on the Sega Mega Drive is one of my fondest childhood memories, and after reading the reviews for this PS2 version, I had little hopes for it, knowing full well there would be no retro voice-overs telling the player to "Rise from your grabe" and that you are "welcome to your doom". And having read the back of the box, I didn't even expect the same monsters. Thankfully, we see the return of the wolf, dragon and bear forms (and possibly the tiger but that seems to be a secret) along with a few new ones such as a merman and a minotaur.

Although the change in storyline (gene alteration as opposed to the magic of... blue dogs...) is slightly irritating, there are a few noticeable techniques found within the game that hark back to the original. The first boss, a giant rat, for instance, will hurl festering body parts at you if you stay on the side lines, not unlike the first boss on the mega drive game who would tear his heads off and fling them across the screen. The controls are fairly easy to learn, although adjusting to different forms sometimes takes a while, once you've got the hang of it you're away.

The graphics are fair, and brilliant in the cinematic cut-scenes (which you are forced to watch every time you transform), however they are extremely gory, with popping eye balls and stripped flesh, however the in-game gore is nothing but fun, with enemies that are killed too close to the camera splattering blood across it, or even the occasion eye ball.

And if the idea of repetitive enemies gets you down, you probably would do best to stay away from this game, however I personally did not find that fact to put me off, as running around in beast form provided me with entertainment in itself - particularly the simplicity of such things as playing a wolf chasing a bunch of birds. Admittedly, it can get annoying trying to jump up and kill flying targets, particularly in human form, but as a wolf it's nothing short of hilarious if you actually sit back and watch what you're doing. So, if you, like me, find ripping through hordes of enemies and running around on your fours to be entertaining, then by all means buy this game, but if you want something with a little depth, then I advise you look for a more story based game, like the Legacy of Kain series, or, dare I say it, Kingdom Hearts (which really is aimed at the opposite end of the market to this...).


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