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Breaking Bad - The Final Season* [DVD]
Breaking Bad - The Final Season* [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bryan Cranston
Price: £13.00

88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the end, beautiful friend..., 1 Oct. 2013
Wow... just, wow
How do they do it? In the months leading up to Breaking Bad's much anticipated final season; cast member Dean Norris made a very bold claim, that these final eight episodes were the best of the entire series. Given how the previous season had set the bar so ridiculously high, I was inclined to treat those words with a pinch of salt. However, I'm happy to say, he was right, so very, very right indeed. So, just how good is this final season? Well put it this way, just about every previous season of Breaking Bad, even last year's one that I described as a watershed, seems like it was merely a faulty experiment by comparison. Even so all the previous seasons are still masterpieces, so now you know that with this final season we're dealing with something much, much more.
Picking up immediately where the last season left off, the final season's story revolves around a cat and mouse game between two of the main characters, with truly explosive consequences. And that's all I will say to avoid spoiling it. In terms of style this season could best be equated to a rocket car accelerating towards an explosives factory. The first half is the rocket car approaching the factory; the latter half is the almighty explosion and fallout

Several things make this season stand in a class of its own. Firstly, the absolutely peerless storytelling, you can always tell a great story from how well it ties into the earlier episodes. Based solely on that aspect, Breaking Bad is an absolutely gem. It's truly remarkable how every single character arc; every single plot point and major event comes together seamlessly. This is particularly evident on the episode To'hajiilee, almost as everything that has happened over the past six years was building to that final moment. If the writers truly do make things up as they go, it once again leads me to ask the same question "HOW DO THEY DO IT!?"

Secondly the stunning direction and cinematography, each scene is beautifully shot, whether it's of the desert or of a conversation between two characters. Also several scenes are drenched in symbolism, which makes every scene fabulously re-watchable. Complementing the cinematography is the excellent direction which aids the narrative magnificently. As an example consider the final scene between the two main characters, just two shots of two people nodding to each other managed to convey more emotion and more information than most other shows could manage in a whole episode's worth of dialogue.

Thirdly, the fearless narrative and creativity, whereas most shows have a terrible habit of retreading old ground and dragging on for a couple of seasons too long. Breaking Bad does neither of these things, ending at an absolutely perfect time while simultaneously taking its characters to brave new worlds. The reason why it succeeds in this is because the changes in the characters are perfectly assisted by the narrative; it doesn't seem forced or out of place because it's flawlessly in tune with all the events of the past seasons. The best example of this is the episode "Ozymandias" (I won't spoil too much, but take every single tragic moment throughout the series, roll it all into one and it will barely approach the amount of sadness and heartache you'll feel throughout the episode... you have been warned).

Fourthly there's the brilliant casting, helped out by some truly great scripts. It's so easy to forget that we are watching characters in a TV show, but the masterful performances from the cast help to truly immerse us in the experience and help turn these characters into truly 4-diemnsional beings. I'm not joking when I say that every character has several standout performances throughout the season, even the really small and comparatively minor ones (seriously how many shows do you know where even a baby turns in an Oscar-worthy performance?)
But the highlight of all these performances most definitely goes to Bryan Cranston, as the main man Walter White. Throughout this entire journey we've watched him transform from a mild meek chemistry teacher, to a confident focused criminal, to a machiavallian figure and finally a figure of pathos. In the hands of any other actor this show would probably never have become the success that it is. But Bryan Cranston managed to do the impossible, made us sympathize with a character that we should all hate and made him someone that all of us could relate to in some way. Kudos to you Mr. Cranston, for making Walter White one of the most multi-layered, interesting and iconic characters in TV history.

Finally I should mention just how absolutely everything in this final season fits together. Nothing in it is superfluous or feels unnecessary. As I've been pointing out everything just works together, the acting and the writing work together to increase the immersion, the cinematography and direction increase the effectiveness of the storytelling and narrative and so on. How many times in a show have you seen a part that you thought should have been shorter, or a character that you thought was unnecessary. Breaking Bad has none of those things, everything feels in place, like a perfect circle.

I've been typing for so long now, so let me just finish by touching on the finale. While you'll probably see a lot of the major events coming, it was so well crafted, so beautifully filmed and so touching that I just don't care. It gave an ending of definitive closure while staying true to the spirit and message of the show. Most impressively is that it found a way to please both the people who wanted to see Walt succeed, and those who wanted him to pay for all his crimes. I guarantee that when the final scene plays, you will choke up in some way. It's my firm belief that the finale will go down in history as one of TV's greatest achievements (along with the episode Ozymandias and indeed the whole show).

In conclusion the Breaking Bad team have done the impossible once again. They have simultaneously raised the bar to heavenly heights for what television can and should achieve, while simultaneously concluding their story in truly legendary fashion. It was sad to see Breaking Bad come to an end, but I couldn't have asked for a better send off.

All Hail The King, Walter "Heisenberg" White. We shall remember his name!
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2014 5:34 PM BST

Breaking Bad - Season 5* [DVD + UV Copy]
Breaking Bad - Season 5* [DVD + UV Copy]
Dvd ~ Bryan Cranston
Price: £12.99

123 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just when you thought it couldn't get any better..., 29 Oct. 2012
Following the absolutely masterful 4th series of Breaking Bad where Walter White ended the season in dramatic fashion, with both a literal bang and the words "I won", I was left wondering where this show could possibly go from here. So when the much anticipated 5th series premièred I braced myself for the worse, ready to be let down, with the gloomy though that no matter how good this series was, there was no way it could possibly hope to equal the last series. Incredibly, the most recent series not only equals the previous series, it surpasses it.

I'm not going to go into too much detail, as I don't want to spoil the plot, so let me just tell everyone about the good things. First the pacing is absolutely spot on, a perfect balance between black comedy, intense drama and suspense. This shouldn't come as a surprise since it's pretty much what made season 4 a masterpiece. But here's where season 5 differs from it's predecessor. First are the performances; it's not that the performances are better than previous seasons, but the characters themselves take on radically different roles than in previous seasons and the entire cast pulls it off to perfection. Anna Gunn gives her best performance yet as Skylar White, as the friction that has been building between her and Walt finally approaches the breaking point (portrayed with unflinching brutality in the episode "Fifty-One"). Aaron Paul also has plenty of moments to shine as Jesse, but the true star of the show is Bryan Cranston, who turns out the performance of a lifetime. His portrait of Walter White's development into a ruthless Machiavellian figure is nothing short of stunning, if a little uneasy at times (especially in the half-season finale "Gliding All Over").

But the best thing about it is how unafraid it is to challenge us with truly difficult topics, the best example of this is the end of the episode "Dead Freight", I won't spoil it, but let's just say it was like being hit below the belt.

The three episodes that highlight the shows best qualities of both staying true to its roots while pushing new boundaries for me are "Dead Freight", "Say My Name" and "Gliding All Over"

I could go on and on about what makes this season and this whole show a masterpiece, but to just sit around and talk doesn't do it any justice, it simply must be seen.

If you've seen all the previous seasons of Breaking Bad then rest assured, the series hasn't decreased in quality at all. If you haven't then start watching it right now from the very beginning, knowing that each series improves on the last and that you have this watershed at the end of the line to look forward to.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2013 2:49 PM BST

Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS)
Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS)
Offered by MICRO LTD
Price: £22.93

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest RPGs ever is finally brought to Europe, 15 Mar. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
It's time for a massive amount of nostalgia and a trip down memory lane, because the origional Chrono Trigger for the SNES was the first game I ever played. My Dad hade brought back an NSTC format SNES from the US and brought this game for me. I was lucky to have been able to play this masterpiece of a game, which is really the only RPG that is equal to the utterly sublime Final Fantasy 7.

The story begins with a group of friends named Crono, Marle and Lucca who live in the year 1000AD. Lucca and her father construct a time machine and during a test where Marle volunteers to be teleported here pendant interferes with the machine causing a portal in time to be created, which she is sucked into. Crono and Lucca then recreate the portal and set out to rescue their friend. While persuing Marle however, Crono and Lucca meet a set of different characters and when after a sequence of events they find out that a global catastrophe is soon to occur in the future. The friends also learn that they have the power to stop it and embark on a adventure to save the world and the whole universe. It is truly a benchmark for video game storytelling, you have to play it to believe it. It's fantastically topped up by some of the most interesting and likeable characters that I've ever come across in any RPG or any game for that matter. It also features entertaing and humourous dialoge.

Next we come to the gameplay, which is similar to many RPGs. You navigate your characters across many different locations including forests, towns and dungeons. You fight monsters using a standard RPG Active Time Battle system, a player takes action in battle once a timer dependent on your speed stat reaches zero, you can attack with either your weapon, magic or special physical techniques. Magic and Physical techniques are handled by the Techs command. Unique to Chrono Trigger is the exsistance of cooperative techniques. Each character has a total of 8 personal techniques which can be combined with other character techniques to create more powerful attacks, double and triple combinations exsist. For example Crono's sword spinning Cyclone move can be combined Lucca's flame toss to create the Fire Whirl combination. This aspect makes fights interesting and tactical.

Another feature unique to Chrono Trigger is the concept of time travel. The players can access seven different time period of the world's history and choices made by players in the past affect things in the future.
The overall gameplay is fantastically balanced and hugely entertaining. Whether you're thinking about the best ways to kill a monster or interacting with various characters or exploring the very colourful and varied environments across history.

However the thing that makes this tower firmly above so many RPGs is it's replay value. The fact that time travel is crucial the the game and the story means that the game has multiple endings, 13 multiple endings to be exact! Given that this is a game that you'll want to experience again and again it means that it's a great value for money.

In conclusion Chrono Trigger is a true masterwork of a game. I can't think of anything wrong with it. Every scene is memorable in some way or another. It's a true benchmark of video game storytelling, character development and gameplay. It never stops being fun or entertaining. Utterlly epic in every scence of the word, a sublime experience from start to finish. Along with Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger is easily the best RPG ever made and has only improved over the years.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
Offered by EVERGAME
Price: £18.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End Of A Video Gaming Legend, 15 Mar. 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Now as proof that I am writing my reviews and not my friend who wrote Zero Punctuation rip offs, I am giving Metal Gear Solid 4 a positive review.

Over the years gamers of MGS have experienced many different things, themes of politics, warfare, censorship, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, loyalty, reality, subjective vs universal truth, duty vs honour and other philosophical themes. And so we come to the end of an epic adventure and story. Not only does this game equal it's predecessors including the origional it surpasses them.

Set five years after the events of MGS2; the world has fallen into a state of almost permanent war. The true holders of power in the United States have systematically launched several attacks against various nations of the world causing a huge cycle of war known as the "War economy". Tens of thousands of people every day are being slaughtered for no reason other than war profiteering. Governments, rebels and terrorist organizations are employing large PMC's (Private Military Corporations) to fight all over the world, all in order to sustain the war economy. These soldiers are equipped with nanomachines, tiny robots flowing through their blood which help to control and monitor their emotions and fighting skills. The soldiers are all linked by the SOP system, allowing for instant communication between them.

Yet, behind this terrible exterior, a worse plot is unfolding. Liquid Ocelot, the leader of 5 large PMCs and Solid Snake's clone (inhabiting Revolver Ocelot's body) is planning to overthrow the Patriots and the world with an insurrection by taking control of SOP. Recruited back into action by Roy Campbell, Solid Snake, experiencing rapid ageing and now going by the code name Old Snake, is sent across the world to visit both old and new locations in an effort to stop Liquid once and for all. The characters are all well rounded and interesting and well developed. Although the game has a complex plot with many twists that ties up all loose ends and unanswered questions it is beautifully told and immersive. Although long time fans will find themselves shocked by the twists it succeeds in immersing and making us care deeply for the characters as they battle bravely to save the world and humanity from falling into chaos, war and destruction. By the end I am moved to tears. This is truly one of the finest stories I have ever experienced.

And now the gameplay. While still retaining its core sneak mechanics from the past MGS games, it manages to do things in a whole new way. The game almost has a different vibe with the new form of controls. Shooting and aiming snaps on so smoothly, even switching to first person view is filled with ease. The camera is incredibly easy to maneuver, and aiming is one of the best in any third person action game. The new shooting system makes you want to shoot, it's actually fun. But this is STILL Metal Gear, and judging from my experience with The Boss Extreme, you'll be toast in seconds if you decide to run and gun.

To describe this to newcomers, Metal Gear isn't just about stealth. Metal Gear is Metal Gear, a whole new genre of its own. It's a game that requires skill, timing, style, and finesse. Why many find Metal Gear so innovative and addicting - it isn't really a broad game in a certain genre, it requires technique, precision, and accuracy. You can even mess this painting up by just ignoring these steps and going freestyle with a load of bullets, to which Snake does his Rambo scream, "AHHhhhaHAhaaaaahhhh!!!!!!!" There are many ways to play this game - perfect and hone your technique, or just play it like a shooter, it's all up to you.

You begin somewhere in the Middle East and battle alongside the PMCs/Militia through some of the most intense, and chaotic battles you ever did witness in a videogame. There are tons of explosions, robotic enemies coming in for air assaults, and enemies relentlessly trying to kill you. Are these epic moments? Oh, you bet. Everything you've imagined in a warzone and even more is recreated here, and the beauty of it all is that even with such frenetic activity, this still remains a Metal Gear game at heart with its core stealth action game play. You can choose to make this a run and gun, or you can make this a sneaking game - it's all up to you. With over 70 available weapons in your arsenal (customisable no less), there are plenty of ways to execute enemies to your liking, as well as a horde of replay value. And also, what makes MGS4 a metal gear game without intense boss fights? Well, Metal Gear Solid 4 doesn't disappoint anyone in this department. Although the first boss is quite easy (just like the Ocelot fight in MGS1), as you proceed, you'll find that different and creative strategies will be needed for each boss making them entirely intuitive and frenetic.

The Drebin system is another great, innovative addition. You pick up guns and ammo from dead soldiers, and you give it to a new character Drebin for "Drebin Points." This all can be done within the menu. Having tons of weapons, this adds tons of replayability, as you want to unlock and upgrade all the weapons for a complete collection.

And what makes the game play so incredibly beautiful, so amazing, so immense - is that what you see isn't what you get. I'm not going to spoil anything for you, but I'll tell you that the gameplay keeps on changing in whole new and different ways. Just when you think you know what's going on, when every other game allows you to know what you're playing... Metal Gear Solid 4 keeps on changing and innovating what you think you believe, while adding plenty and PLENTY of variety to keep you on the edge of your seat. Actually, let me correct that: MGS4 will make you fall from your seat and slide against the ground, over and over and over again. The surprises here are simply no less than astounding ensuring that throughout the game boredom is an impossibility.

It's also incredibly good-looking as well. The graphics are amazing, not only are they of very high quality, but the game has you on a globe-trotting mission ans you get to explore many different environments, the desert middle-east, thick South American jungles and artic wastelands. Truly one of the best looking games ever made.

Finally there's the sound and music. The voice acting is of very high quality and the sound effects from gunshots to different explosions all help to excite you in all the write places. But the highlight of all the sounds is the utterly beautiful music composed by Harry Gregson Williams. He succeeds in composing music that is pivitol in moving us emotionally in all the major plot points and exciting us in all the heroic, action-filled and honourable bits. Truly wonderful music which is worthy of an Acedemy Award.

However the game is not totally flawless. For starters the story while epic will not appeal to newcomers since it is very concerned with tying up loose ends. If you are a newcomer play the original MGS first, if you like it then play MGS2:Substance and MGS3:Subsistance to bring yourself up to speed with the story.
Another major fault is the incredibly long cut scences, there is a total of 8 hours of cut scences. Still there would be no way of telling such a fantastic epic story without them and they are full of jaw-dropping acion sequences and visuals, even the ones that aren't based on action are mostly interactable or entertaining.
Another problem is the forced action sequences in the game. Although they succeed in adding variety and entertainment for a first time play, on higher difficulty levels this can be annoying. Still you have a huge variety of weapons and and auto-targeting system to help you out.
Finally I don't like Snake's new look, even if it is relative to the story. Cleverly however you gain a mask that can mimic different faces and can use it to make Snake look like his younger and more familiar self.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is an incredible game and it's flaws are fully a part of it's abundant brilliance. Perfection? No any can never be perfect since it's made by humans who are flawed themselves. This game is not perfect. Guns of the Patriots is simply one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking and entertaining games you'll play this year or any other year.

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