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Fright Night 2: New Blood [Blu-ray]
Fright Night 2: New Blood [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jaime Murray
Price: £6.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars woeful, 5 Oct 2013
**IF YOU INSIST: SPOILERS**

You would expect this "sequel" to pick up where the Colin Farrell remake left off. But, as the other reviwer stated, it is more accurately another remake, whose only borrowing from the original Fright Night Part II is a female vampire as the villain. Annoyingly, therefore, you're forced to sit through the repeat of a largely predictable plotline: Charlie sees vampire - Charlie accuses vampire of being vampire in front of others - others don't believe him - vampire gives game away - others believe Charlie but knowledge puts them in danger - pursuit - pursuit - Charlie shatters windows - sunlight destroys vampire.

The writer(s) try to modify expectations somewhat. For instance, Charlie is Amy's ex-boyfriend, guilt-ridden from a vague infidelity he committed prior to their study abroad in Romania, where the film takes place. Gerri Dandridge (so, not exactly Jerry Dandridge - but close) is both Charlie's (here) across-the-street neighbor and professor. And Peter Vincent is the host of a Ghosthunters-style paranormal show called Fright Night (which Evil Ed loves to watch on his iPad), rather than an out-of-work actor of B-horror movies or a Las Vegas magician.

Not that these alterations amount to anything. Even the updated allusions to the original -- such as the scene where Evil Ed comes back for Peter Vincent after being made a vampire: except this time it's at a strip club, and this time Peter maims Ed with a tattoo of a cross on his chest, and this time Peter enlists his stripper cohorts to nail pages of the Hebrew Bible/Greek Testament to the walls to keep him safe until the sun comes up, and this time when Charlie comes for his help Peter checks he's not a vampire by taking a picture with his iPhone -- even these do not inspire a wonderful sense of nostalgia. This direct-to-video Fright Night is distinctly unfun.

Add in the intriguing but pointless mystery of Gerri Dandridge being able to live in the sun as a vampire if she drinks the blood of a virgin born on a new moon, who turns out to be Amy. However, once Gerri gets hold of Amy and does drink her blood you're still subjected to 25 minutes of tedious fight scenes before Gerri is fried to a crisp anyway, thus making for a pitiful non-sequel but standard direct-to-video fare.

The one star is for Jamie Murray who, in spite of looking like she'd really rather be back on the set of Spartacus, does the sexy vampire villain a little better than the script probably allows. (The other actors were probably doing their best against the script as well, but it just didn't show.)


Da Vinci's Demons: Season 1 [DVD] [2013]
Da Vinci's Demons: Season 1 [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Tom Riley
Price: £13.40

31 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent, 14 April 2013
Possessing neither cable television nor, in fact, a television, I was still able to catch the premiere episode for free on Starz's website. Unfortunately I won't be able to see anymore until the Blu-ray is released. Even so, I was able to summon enough of an opinion from several viewings of the first episode to form a sufficient review, which I shall surely update once I've watched the entire season. For the moment I can write that, initially at least, Da Vinci's Demons is utterly, shockingly, delightfully absorbing. As a historical fantasy set in Renaissance Italy it is roughly contemporaneous with Showtime's The Borgias, which would seem to make one robust competition for the other. Rather to my surprise, the debut series puts The Borgias to shame. This has less to do with differences in budget--while I cannot know which show has the greater and which the lesser, I suspect The Borgias is slightly ahead of Da Vinci's Demons--and more to do with the quality of the scripts. For all its sumptuous production value The Borgias suffers from writing which, while competent, is decidedly unremarkable, consisting of very spare dialogue which too often the actors, by attempting to make the most of it, stretch painfully thin. Not so with Da Vinci's Demons. Here is abundance, exuberance, and wit. Repartee is fast-paced and charming. Gravitas is measured without sounding inflated. The appearance of the dire phrase, "Believe in yourself," was enough to disrupt the harmony. But, that being the only false note, the writing was, to my ear, uniformly excellent. And there was nothing in the production which failed to captivate.

These are my impressions, gathered as they are from a mere taste. And yet, for me, that taste is definitive.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2013 5:01 AM BST


Shakespeare's Sonnets [DVD]
Shakespeare's Sonnets [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Price: £17.48

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes, 13 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shakespeare's Sonnets [DVD] (DVD)
While this series of recorded readings is perhaps less awkward as part of the multimedia experience of the iPad Sonnets (I don't own an iPad so I have no way of knowing), it simply doesn't work as a standalone DVD, which is advertised as a performance but is in fact 180 minutes of all 154 Sonnets being *read*. Each "performer" sits in a modern room, awash with modern lighting, and reads his/her respective Sonnet(s) from a teleprompter before a static camera. Hardly a performance by any reasonable standard. Five Sonnets in and I was getting bored. Twenty-five Sonnets in and I'd had enough. I tried listening with the screen off but the readers continued to sound like they were being held at gunpoint, or had been anaesthetized. Not at all what I expected.

If you want a film of Shakespeare's sequence done right then try The Angelic Conversation. In 78 minutes, and with only a selection of the Sonnets, Judi Dench keeps the eros of the poetry intact.

Such a disappointment, this one.


Shame [DVD]
Shame [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Fassbender
Price: £4.00

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame, 18 Jan 2013
This review is from: Shame [DVD] (DVD)
[BEWARE OF SPOILERS]

Imagine a film which is a less energetic, yet similarly pointless, variation of American Psycho. That film is Shame, whose skin-deep what-you-see-is-what-you-get script would not have been so disappointing had any of the characters, but especially the two vaguely-traumatized main characters, been remotely interesting. Sadly they live in a world of upper-income banality dominated by glass and de-saturated colors, a world where every character is despicable in the only way that an economically un-imperiled and seemingly endlessly privileged character can be despicable, which is in the most boring way possible. They are not witty. They are not exuberant. They are just . . . dull, because more or less dissatisfied with their moneyed existence. Sound familiar?

The screenwriters seem to have intended Brandon and Sissy (the sibling leads) to be an out clause in this respect by burdening Brandon with sex addiction and Sissy with co-dependence and then attempting to justify this behavior with an oblique reference to a past sexual trauma: "We're not bad people," says Sissy, "we just come from a bad place." And that's that. We never learn who abused them, or the exact nature of the abuse. Nor would this information be necessary were Brandon or Sissy charming or seductive or otherwise compelling. But they are none of these things: Brandon just . . . has sex. Lots of it. And he ignores Sissy. And Sissy clings to Brandon. Less-is-more must have been the idea behind Brandon and Sissy, but it undoes them quite. Less is less, in their case. They are not Iago or Hannibal Lecter, for whom opacity worked.

This lack of transparency forces the viewer to make sense of their behavior through amateur guesswork. For example: Brandon, denied entry to a nightclub, is so desperate to get off that he resorts to a gay sex dungeon for this purpose. This makes little sense unless we're meant to suspect him of using promiscuity, which had hitherto involved only women, to cope with latent homosexuality. If we're meant to think that Brandon is so enslaved by his addiction that he would sink so low as a gay bar, then the screenwriters should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. And the brother/sister interactions are so bizarre--Sissy standing comfortably naked in front of an uncomfortable Brandon, Sissy constantly hugging/touching an uncomfortable Brandon, Sissy having sex with an uncomfortable Brandon's slimy boss in Brandon's bed, Sissy climbing into bed with a Brandon who is so uncomfortable that he screams at her to get out--that I had to wonder if the trauma from their past was a touch taboo.

But all this speculation is only necessary because the film and its controversial sexual content is so very boring. At one point, Sissy and Brandon's slimy boss, a married man with children who makes it his business to hit on every woman he and Brandon encounter in a bar or restaurant, have this exchange:

Him: [Holding Sissy's hand. The sleeve of her dress rolls back to reveal her wrist, which is apparently scarred.] What happened to your arm?
Her: Oh, when I was a kid I was bored.
Him: Well, you must've been really bored.
Her: I was.

which sums up my attitude to this film.


The Unadulterated Cat
The Unadulterated Cat
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Impenetrable, 15 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Unadulterated Cat (Hardcover)
Was given this as a gift by a friend who is a cat enthusiast. Not quite sure what possessed her. I think cats are cute, but I'm far from having the enthusiasm required to appreciate this book, which is a lengthy exegesis on the behaviors of "adulterated" cats and "real" cats, a metaphysical speculation which proves tiresome after the jacket flap. I can scarcely fathom how one could devote a single page, let alone an entire book, to an imaginary (and slightly deranged) argument in which artificial categories are imposed on animals incapable of resisting them. Yet Terry Pratchett has achieved this, presumably in the expectation of laughter from the similarly pet-obsessed, who, if they cannot write a book like this, will certainly pay to read it. But the result is less than adorable, far from funny, and not a little sickly.


House of Lies - Season 1 [DVD]
House of Lies - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Don Cheadle
Price: £9.35

4 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars the anaesthetic of privilege, 22 Dec 2012
The pilot for House of Lies was offered as an extra on another Showtime series I own. Watched it today out of curiosity and was horrified at how nearly every character exhibited behavior which was quite American Psycho-like. Perhaps these preposterously rich and deeply shallow people go on to redeem themselves but I don't have the patience to find out.


Game of Thrones - Season 1 [DVD] [2012]
Game of Thrones - Season 1 [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Sean Bean
Price: £20.00

9 of 82 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It Could Have Been Worse. . . . It Probably Will Get Worse, 24 Nov 2012
While I have after several viewings managed to "get into" Game of Thrones, I can't help enjoying it with reservations because:

1) I'm not a fantasy aficionado and don't have quite the appreciation of "world-building" which the more seasoned fantasy enthusiasts seem to applaud. This is why I had to stop after a certain point when reading Tolkien. I finished the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and Silmarillion. Halfway through Unfinished Tales I just thought--and feel free to laugh--"who cares"? It had stopped being a story and become, to me, a sort of desperate escapist history which couldn't have ended until Tolkien died, and clearly not even then. (Perhaps I am being unkind to Tolkien since a lot of his Middle Earth lore was published posthumously anyway. Perhaps he never intended to publish any of it and it's his fans who can't let go.) And though Game of Thrones is, so far, the only addition to my viewing diet that is of the Dungeons & Dragons sort, and in spite of the show's creators' best efforts to foreground the drama rather than the fantasy, I here and there find myself blushing over some quite awful writing of the "you can, you must" or "I can, and I will" variety (as if they'd never read Shakespeare, or read him and resisted him), as well as over the rather far-fetched proper names of peoples/places which sound like they were wrenched from the board-game/trading-card imaginations of unbecoming nerds. In other words, Game of Thrones too often feels like the product of a sad loser made for sad losers. (And even then, sad losers are the products of bad parents, bad education systems, income disparity, structural inequality, etc. So they can hardly be blamed.)

2) Despite my reservations I know Game of Thrones could have been far worse: it could have been more like the books on which it was based. Granted, I have never read any of the books, but I spent days systematically reading every 1-,2-,and 3-star review for them on this website. Okay, a bit of an overstatement since I did this almost a year ago and more reviews were undoubtedly added since then. Even so, there were quite enough reviews a year ago for me to decide that I would NEVER read the books. This was due to my impression that:

a) the fantasy element in the books is present to an extent which I would find unbearable. The author's tendency to overload the narrative with unnecessary detail and history of his fantasy world was a serious complaint among the reviewers: the word "editor" was mentioned a lot, often in conjunction with "where was the," and more often in conjunction with "where the ---- was the."

b) in spite of a 700 to 1000-page minimum per book, and in spite of the publication of 5 books over 16 years (1996-present) the story is still not finished. But not only is the story not finished: the other serious complaint is that the plot is headed absolutely nowhere. (Hint: The author was a writer for TV serials in Hollywood in the '80s. Were the expectations high to begin with?)

I'm unqualified to speculate what fate awaits the books, except to say I feel sorry for those fans who spent so much time reading them only to become increasingly frustrated by what seems no more than a marketing ploy designed to keep stringing them along. (It takes 10 hours to finish the first season of Game of Thrones. How many hours did it take to slog through Game of Thrones the novel, let alone the whole series thus far? Again, they have my profound sympathy.) What doom this spells for the TV series is harder to say. Presumably the show's existence hinges on the books' existence, although perhaps not necessarily so: I vaguely remember watching an interview in which the author stated that he had divulged certain plot points to the show's creators in the event that he was hit by a bus (no comment) before bringing the book series to its conclusion. Then again, HBO often cancels its series before their completion, and sometimes for quite inexplicable reasons. (In the instance of Rome the reason was reportedly a financial one. Fine. In the instance of Deadwood it was never clear if the reason was to do with money or ratings. Then they cancelled John from Cincinnati for its mere 3-million viewership. Huh?) At the moment, however, Game of Thrones has nothing to fear: consumer interest is apparently strong enough for HBO to have ordered a third and fourth season (that's 2 years) to cover the third novel Storm of Swords. And who knows how the two novels after that will be divided. It's certainly enough time for the author to decide if he's going to keep scribbling in the margins or give his poor readers their due.
Comment Comments (22) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2014 3:12 PM GMT


The Borgias - Season 2 [Blu-ray]
The Borgias - Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Irons
Price: £15.70

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Region Free. Please Make It So!, 16 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The delivery for this took a while because of the hurricane. And while I knew, courtesy of the reviewer from Montréal, that my patience would go unrewarded with the inevitable arrival of a product which would prove unplayable, I did my best to fill up the time by reading Shakespeare, admittedly a reward in itself. Even so, "This player is incompatible with the region marking of this disc" was a disappointment. Sadder still was the absence of any region marking on the case the discs came in.

So 1 star for the product, the description of which was inaccurate, the inaccuracy of which Amazon has evidently been made aware, though not yet resolved. If that day ever comes I will gladly recant.

**EDIT 11-19-12: Amazon appears to be selling this Blu-ray again, and the product description still says Region Free. Can anyone confirm that the previous problem has been sorted and that these discs are indeed Region Free now?**

**EDIT 11-20-12: Contacted Amazon directly about this matter since no one had responded to my last edit. While their customer service was very polite and very prompt--they even gave me a full refund--the Fulfillment Team only checked the product packaging, which, they said, did not state a Region code. The packaging of my previous order didn't state a Region code either. So my modest hope was that an employee would actually open the packaging and play the discs to find this out. But perhaps this is not permitted?**

**EDIT 11-21-12: In the absence of any information to the contrary from other Blu-ray sites or owners, I give up. I don't know of any instances where Blu-ray/DVD distributors have region-locked their discs by mistake. So I must conclude that the authoring for this release is definitively Region B. [Sigh.] I submitted a few corrections for the product info and it looks like Amazon have actually changed them. So 3 stars overall.**
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2012 10:19 PM GMT


Prometheus [DVD] [2012]
Prometheus [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Noomi Rapace
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £2.98

2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Riddler's in the Dark, 12 Oct 2012
This review is from: Prometheus [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
The incompetent writing and (therefore) appalling acting aside --Michael Fassbender's performance is lauded as the exception but an android surrounded by implausible humans would stand out, wouldn't it?-- this prequel --yes, it is most certainly a prequel-- is --to an Alien nerd/ardent cinema-goer like myself-- totally incoherent (much like this sentence with its various anacoluthons).

If you don't wish to be (possibly) spoiled then don't read on.
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Given that Prometheus is set before the time when the alien to which we are accustomed actually exists it is indeed puzzling why a certain scene early in the movie --at 39:52-- contains a certain mural which depicts, inexplicably, the alien to which we are accustomed. I watched over and over again to be certain I wasn't hallucinating. Alas, there 'twas in vivid detail, thus rendering Prometheus chronologically incomprehensible.

This along with the film's other faults has disappointed me terribly. What has happened to the Riddler who made the original Alien, and Legend, and Hannibal (I know, but I love it so.)? He has frighted me with false fire. He promised me a gem with Prometheus and instead threw a pot of paste in my face.

And don't bother listening to his audio commentary. It is a truly disturbing experience. When the Riddler isn't narrating the film like an audio track for the visually-impaired he's indulging in the most contemptible, the most vulgar self-congratulation.


Wrath Of The Titans (DVD + UV Copy) [2012]
Wrath Of The Titans (DVD + UV Copy) [2012]
Dvd ~ Sam Worthington
Offered by MediaMine
Price: £3.79

10 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars W*** of the Titans, 26 Jun 2012
My normal method for coercing myself to sleep when I have a headache is to watch a bad movie, then write a bad review, then hopefully be exhausted enough to drift off to dreamland. Enter the Wrath of the Titans. As it turned out, I didn't have to write a bad review in order to fall asleep: the movie was bad enough. Still, some thoughts linger, mainly of how dreadful a movie it was.

***SPOILERS, PROBABLY***

Wrath of the Titans is one of those films which would not only have no reason to exist were it not for an astonishingly stupid decision made by the hero at the outset, but which is only kept going by a further series of stupid decisions. Perseus is living a serene, godless existence as a fisherman. Io (Gemma Arterton from the previous film) has died, leaving Perseus with a son, Helius, who is now a lad. Zeus comes one evening to tell Perseus that, in the absence of human prayer, the gods' power is diminishing. This includes the restraints Zeus placed on his father Kronos to keep him imprisoned in Tartarus. Demons are already breaking free of the underworld to wreak havoc on mankind, but once Kronos escapes it will mean oblivion for gods and men. Would Perseus please help?

"The world may be obliterated, but I promised my wife that I'd look after my son," is essentially Perseus's answer. Consequences be damned, apparently. Zeus smiles and vanishes. Later that night, Perseus wakes up freaked out by a dream he had of the world ending.

Meanwhile, Zeus meets up with his brother Hades in the underworld. Zeus's son Ares is also there. While both are ostensibly present to help keep Kronos in Tartarus, they trap Zeus, whose power they will actually use to free Kronos, who will allow Hades and Ares to keep their immortality. Why the double-cross? Well, Hades still resents Zeus for giving him dominion over the underworld, and Ares resents Zeus for preferring Perseus over himself. Mass destruction therefore makes sense.

Perseus changes his mind and goes on a quest with Queen Andromeda (who is even more useless than Perseus) to search for the entrance to Tartarus so he can free his father and defeat Kronos. Along the way he runs into Hephaestus (played by Bill Nighy, who does that routine of his where he raises his eyebrow, leans forward, blinks, and then lurches back as if he's been spat on, which perhaps is meant to be visual comedy, and probably would have been had he not done it for {whats seems like} every film he's been in) who takes them to the entrance of Tartarus before he's stabbed by Ares, who is able to find them all because one of Andromeda's warriors prayed to him, even though she was quite explicitly told not to lest Ares discover her and kill her, which he does.

Anyways, after stumbling through a frustrating rubix-cube of a maze, the gang make it to Zeus. Perseus attempts to free him. It's hard going at first, but once Zeus tells him to believe in himself the manacles practically fall away. Hades has a change of heart at the last minute, putting him at odds with Ares, who's still pissed off. By now Kronos, a giant of volcanic rock and seething magma, has broken free. But Ares still finds time to face off with Perseus in a temple atop a mountain, making Helius, whom he has kidnapped, watch the bizarrely erotic spectacle. Perseus prevails, taking Zeus's thunderbolt (which Ares had stolen) and combining it with Hades's and Poseidon's tridents to form a mega-weapon that he shoves down Kronos throat, bringing on a cosmic bout of acid-reflux, thus annihilating the Titan.

Zeus, proud father of demi-god Perseus, crumbles to dust. Hades does not crumble to dust but says his power is gone anyway. Perseus gets over it all rather quickly, as evidenced by his putting the moves on Andromeda, who was an old flame of his after all. It had been ambiguous when she first appeared, making for the only tension in this film. A tension which was, in the end, worthless.

It seems Warner Bros. are contemplating a third Titans film, which is strange since they needn't have bothered with this one (or the one before).


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