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Richard Daystrom "creator, M-5 multitronic unit" (Daystrom Institute, Earth, United Federation of Planets)

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St. Anger [CD + DVD]
St. Anger [CD + DVD]
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 18.61

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw, heavy, meaningful rock 'n roll, 20 Feb 2012
This review is from: St. Anger [CD + DVD] (Audio CD)
Given the dearth of positive reviews for St. Anger St. Anger (Bonus DVD), I feel I need to state my credentials up front. I came late to metal. My own musical interests are varied and span centuries. Classic rock, punk rock, and hardcore are where I traditionally go to rock out.

Enter St. Anger, my first Metallica album. I am now a fan and will dabble in the back-catalog as a result of this garage-sounding, low-res album sent to us from a tortured soul. I have seen the documentary Metallica - Some Kind of Monster [DVD] and I understand the background and motivation for St. Anger. This is a back-to-basics hard rock album that is intended to be raw and spare. I get it and I relate. The snare drum that is much-talked about I understand completely and the drum's sound is integral to the album. Imagine U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday War - Remastered without the same drum. The drums on St. Anger are at once primal, like beating on an old garbage can lid, and somehow reminiscent of an old military band, making its procession down your street. This is a frantic call to arms, an 11th-hour plea for release from the monster that has taken control of our lives. I think you can fill in the blanks with your own monster and it all makes sense.

The guitar work is hard and raw, and Hetfield's broken-voiced lyrics render the work sincere. Stand-outs on this album are especially the first 4 tracks: Frantic, St. Anger, the monumental Some Kind of Monster, and Dirty Window. Over the years my musical tastes have expanded rather than receded, and I can now listen to metal with an open mind and no preconceptions. If it rocks, if the band are in a serious groove, I'm into it. St. Anger rocks hard and the lyrics are heart-felt. Ulrich's drums are in your face so much that if you're listening to this in the car you'll want to stop the car, get out, find a can somewhere and start beating the living daylights out of it. Cool. I want more of this.

Van Helsing - The London Assignment (Animated) [DVD]
Van Helsing - The London Assignment (Animated) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sharon Bridgeman
Price: 5.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable Van Helsing adventure, 5 Aug 2011
Preferences going in:

I enjoyed the Van Helsing (2004) feature film, and am a fan of classic horror films of the 20th century. I watch all types of animation, from short cartoons to Japanese animated movies.

This Van Helsing prequel short film has become a favorite of mine, along with the feature film. As some have said, this might have made a nice addition to a special edition blu-ray disc, since it is 33 min. in length. The historical fiction involving Queen Victoria and Dr. Jekyll's age-reversal elixir was fun. To me, this is the stuff of classic horror. And, as with the movie, the filmmakers clearly love the material and enjoyed making the piece. Voices from actors I enjoy like Hugh Jackman, Robbie Coltrane, and Dwight Schultz were a real treat. As a Star Trek fan, I was attracted by the writer's names: Canadian-born writing duo Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who have many respected Trek credits to their names.

DVD: The unique bonus features were a treat.
28-min. making-of documentary on Van Helsing feature film. This one is quite good, and not on the DVD or BD versions
7-min. making of the Van Helsing videogame. I have not played the game, but the interviews with the actors (incl. Jackman, who lends his own voice) were great. Again, this featurette is unique to the VHLA disc.
7-min. animatics comparisons. Not so thrilling for me, as I have watched similar material on other discs in the past, but a nice inclusion.

Nice to have subtitles in Eng, Fre and Spa, and the 5.1 Dolby Surround soundtrack sounded great from my sound system.

This short film package comes highly recommended for fans of classic horror. As of 2009 it is no longer in print. I got mine for a very low price at a discount retailer in one of their large sales bins that you have to rummage through. Well worth seeking out.

Things To Come (Special Edition) [1936] [DVD]
Things To Come (Special Edition) [1936] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ann Todd
Price: 15.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Things To Come (Special Edition) [1936] [2007 DVD], 10 April 2011
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Things To Come (Special Edition) [1936] [DVD]

I won't take the time to review the film here, just the product. If you are a fan of Things to Come, the UK 2-disc Special Edition (Network, 2007) is really the only one you want to buy until an inevitable new restoration for Blu-ray is announced. The picture quality is very good, and this is the most complete version available. I look forward to a future updated high-definition restoration so that the many remaining lines and imperfections can be digitally removed. Although the disc boasts just such a digital restoration, there are many signs of age and damage still evident throughout the film.

Disc 1. The restored film and audio commentary. There is an audio commentary by Nick Cooper that, while technically informative, is delivered in a low, mumbling, monotonous tone that took me three sittings to complete. It is truly unfortunate that Network decided not to give subtitles for either the film or the audio commentary.

Disc 2. Bonus Features. A couple of very interesting features. A Ralph Richardson chat show appearance. Only tangentially relevant to Things to Come, but if you like Richardson, you'll enjoy. The other video highlight was a fascinating 1975 short by Brian Aldiss on Things to Come. The Virtual Extended Edition allows you to rewatch the film, while filling in some of the missing scenes with photographs or text -- a great bonus. I would have chosen to have Cooper deliver his audio commentary over the Virtual Extended Edition, so that he could have discussed the more complete version presented there. Both the audio commentary and the Extended Edition will appeal to cinephiles only, so they might as well have been paired. An old audio recording outlining the wandering sickness was a real gem to include.

23-page booklet that is well researched and informative. This is always a nice gift for film fans and a rare inclusion that demonstrates Network's commitment to this project.

There is simply no comparable edition to the Network 2-disc SE at this time, making this version the hands-down winner at this point. What's missing? Subtitles for the feature are required. Subtitles for the audio commentary would have been a nice touch too, so that you can watch the film with a textual commentary if you choose. The contemporaneous Things to Come (Digitally remastered in colour) [DVD] [1936] offers none of these bonus features but presents the colorized version. For the non-purist, that is a nice alternative viewing experience, so I don't regret buying that edition as well.

The Happening [Blu-ray] [2008]
The Happening [Blu-ray] [2008]
Dvd ~ Mark Wahlberg
Price: 11.44

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thinking person's zombie film, 6 Aug 2009
The Happening [Blu-ray] [2008]
The Happening is a suspenseful, spooky movie with occasional gruesome violence, unusual to date in a Shyamalan film. This 2008 movie is a thought-provoking thriller that provides hints, but no real answers to the apocalyptic crisis. The audience is left to sort through the possible causes of the cataclysmic Happening, as well as to decide what it was that ended the crisis as quickly as it began.

Was there an environmental catastrophe? Was there some earthly ecological consciousness that arose to fight off the harmful human presence that is destroying the planet? Was it a malevolent supernatural force that moved in the air, possessing and killing victims in its wake?

What stopped or slowed the phenomenon? Did it peter out as a storm dissipates? If it was some satanic force, did it just move on to another place (Paris) to possess its next victims? If the catastrophe was caused by an intelligence, ecological or supernatural, did it recognize the power of love, which halted it in its tracks?

The story focuses on the troubled relationship of a couple (Wahlberg, Deschanel) fleeing their urban life in search of anywhere safer. Both characters were played simply, pared down, but endearing and demonstrating a vulnerability and truthfulness.

I was reminded of the Biblical story of Lot and his wife, and their flight from the doomed twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Despite the couples' efforts in both stories, they failed to save the population (or fellow refugees) after repeated attempts.

I didn't find clear answers in the film, but enjoyed debating the issues afterwards. I enjoy films like this that offer more than just entertainment for a couple of hours. Shyamalan takes his place with Rod Serling (and perhaps even Carl Sagan) as a modern speculative storyteller who seeks to understand humanity and our relationship not only to each other but to the cosmos.

I enjoyed The Happening enough to purchase the BD copy. I have seen both the DVD and Blu-ray versions. The Blu-ray offers a few bonus featurettes not included on the DVD edition, as well as improved picture and nice audio quality, and a textual commentary track with occasional PiP interview material. It is regrettable that there is no commentary track from the principals or writer-director Shyamalan on either version. But the high-def bonuses are a must for any who enjoyed this film.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2010 8:27 PM BST

V For Vendetta [HD DVD]
V For Vendetta [HD DVD]
Dvd ~ Natalie Portman

4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing dystopia, 14 Jun 2008
This review is from: V For Vendetta [HD DVD] (HD DVD)
I enjoy the sub-genre of apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, or dystopian future fiction, so seeing V for Vendetta was a no-brainer for me.

Unfortunately, the things I found distasteful about this movie outweighed any of the positive aspects that other viewers have mentioned (e.g. cautionary tale, visuals, etc.).

The comparisons to Orwell's 1984 are appropriate, but Orwell's motives were far more interesting: a committed socialist who warns of a state in which even his own ideals are misused to abuse the population.

Portman's Evey is tortured by someone who believes he is teaching her a lesson and seeks her submission and service. Imagine being abducted and tortured by someone who later revealed that it was for your own good and it was only a ruse to convince you of their rightness. Literature that deals with this behavior is usually concerned with sociopaths and killers. Psychologists tell us that some victims of abduction and abuse can indeed demonstrate a loyalty to their abuser. I doubt that extolling a torturer was the intention of the film-makers, so for me their otherwise good intentions were seriously marred by the inclusion of these scenes.

The cardboard cutout stereotype of the perverted religious figure was hackneyed and sophomoric long ago. Although, in the spirit of V, I am thankful that we still live in a tolerant society where such stereotyping is permitted.

On a lesser point, I felt that Portman's performance was bland and unconvincing, and I think it wasn't necessary in such an international near-future to have her try to approximate an English accent. I found the inconsistent accent distracting.

This one is worth a rental, or loan from the public library.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2011 1:08 AM GMT

King Kong [DVD]  [2005] (2 Disc Special Edition)
King Kong [DVD] [2005] (2 Disc Special Edition)
Dvd ~ Naomi Watts
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.73

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic, 2 July 2007
I grew up loving the early ape films King Kong (1933) and Mighty Joe Young (1949). King Kong is a classic retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story and the original was groundbreaking in its use of special effects. Remaking a classic will always attract harsh critics.

For me, a lover both of classic films and of modern science fiction, I place King Kong (2005) among the best films I have seen in years. In the cinema, this was a true spectacle to behold. The action and CGI special effects were astounding. Peter Jackson took a fairly sparse story and fleshed it out. I appreciated the longer back-story to the characters in New York prior to the sea voyage to Skull Island.

The exposure of themes relating to racism, animal and ecological abuse, and treatment of women was obvious, but not preachy. Despite this being an action film, these themes seemed to me as large as Kong was himself.

Jackson tweaked the storyline a bit and improved on the original. The introduction of the writer (Brody) as love interest instead of the ship captain made more sense and was simply a better story. With the original film, I was quite moved as a kid when Kong died. With this version, I was at least as moved or more as an adult. The relationship with Kong and Ann was portrayed better. I believed that they had made a bond with each other. The moment of Kong's demise is one of the most touching moments I have seen in a film in years.

Finally, James Newton Howard's soundtrack is quite moving, with beautiful, stirring melodies befitting this grand film. Worth listening to in its own right. I would have liked to watch the film with an isolated music score. Unfortunately, this was not included as an option on any edition so far.


Two-Disc Special Edition (2006)

For the collector, this included the Production Diaries and several bonus features. A must-have if you love this film and want more background information.

3-Disc Deluxe Extended Edition (2006)

There is no overlap to what is on the 2-disc version, so this was a worthwhile second purchase for me. I enjoyed seeing the deleted scenes. The slightly longer (13 min.) version was intereresting to see. I especially wanted the audio commentary track. No regrets here for having bought both the 2-disc and 3-disc versions, because they each offered different material.

H.G. Wells And The War Of The Worlds - A Documentary [DVD] [2005]
H.G. Wells And The War Of The Worlds - A Documentary [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ H.G. Wells

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lacklustre, but generally informative, 22 Dec 2006
Version reviewed: 2005 Region 1 dvd entitled "H.G. Wells and the War of the Worlds: A Documentary" 87 min., narrated by Liam Dale.

Language: no language, subtitle, or closed captioning options.

This is a low-budget biography of the life, times and places associated with novelist H. G. Wells. I recommend this to Wells readers who want an overview of his life.

I found the writing to be trite at times, but generally interesting. Sometimes I had the feeling that we were just getting time-fillers and barely on-topic asides. The most annoying was the ongoing reference to Hallowe'en customs.

Despite the title, this video biography is not about the War of the Worlds, and one will find little more about that book than about any other Wells title. I suspect the title was chosen to market the dvd in 2005 and to coincide with the release of Spielberg's version of WotW.

This was a lacklustre biography, with no expert interviews. Visually, the film used panning video of old still photography mixed with contemporary footage of locales associated with Wells' life.

This is worth buying if you want a bio of H. G. Wells in your collection, and if you can get it a bargain price. I am satisfied with my purchase, but had hoped for a better-quality production.

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