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Lee R "Lee" (UK)

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The Curse of Frankenstein (Blu-ray + DVD) [1957]
The Curse of Frankenstein (Blu-ray + DVD) [1957]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Price: £11.76

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A considered review of a controversial release., 22 Nov. 2012
Now that the fuss has died down a bit over Curse of Frankenstein, I've been viewing the disc and here's my own personal opinion without influence from either camps. I find the academy framed version generally pleasing but with an uncomfortable amount of dead space whereas the 1.66:1 is noticeably tight. Using the settings on my TV to fake a 1.66:1 from the academy version with higher framing ("common top") is somewhat better but still not without it's faults. Therefore my own conclusion would be that the Warner DVD version got it right in adjusting the matte on a shot by shot basis (though, that of course from cropped more tightly to 1.77:1). That would have created a far more pleasing to the eye 1.66:1 version, even if not 100% accurate. The academy version would be absolutely fine to be left as an option though I do believe calling it the OAR is erroneous. Neither aspect ratios as presented on the disc are completely satisfactory.

Regarding the picture quality, I have always reserved judgement on this due to the original negative being, to all intents and purposes, lost. Now that I've had a good look at the Blu-ray version, I think that many people are being unfairly harsh. It is soft, yes, but it's also quite naturally filmic without any objectionable digital tinkering. It may be true that going back to the best available colour separation elements (which were apparently made when it was discovered the film stock was degrading) and recombining them wholly in the digital domain could render superior results, but that would be costly and the ball is in Warner's court as they have the elements, not Hammer.

Overall, while not without it's faults, it's certainly not as terrible as some are making out. People, including myself, are now understandably wary of pre-ordering new Hammer discs due to some of the poorly worded PR and frankly bizarre decisions made of late (I refer you to the inexplicable lack of original effects on The Devil Rides Out). My advice is not to let it spoil the enjoyment that this disc can offer because it's very far from awful. Add to that a rather nice extras package which includes another full length film among the number, it's not a bad release if not perfect.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2013 11:51 PM BST

The Devils (Special Edition) [DVD] [1971]
The Devils (Special Edition) [DVD] [1971]
Dvd ~ Oliver Reed
Price: £8.78

41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DVD to treasure, despite it's unavoidable flaws., 18 Mar. 2012
Other reviews go into detail about this not being the 2004 longer cut that restored some previously lost footage and the only version the BFI is allowed to release is the UK theatrical X certified cut. A fact that is acknowledged in Mark Kermode's filmed introduction to the film. So I will not go over that ground again, so suffice it to say even this X certificate version is almost disturbingly powerful, even for the strong stomached. Having seen the director's cut before, the absence of the rape of Christ scene was apparent to me but, and this might be a controversial view, didn't change the nature of the film in any definite way for me. In fact, it surprised me at just what imagery is still there in the UK theatrical cut. While it might not be the version that Ken Russell would have preferred to be shown, it's still infinitely superior to the butchered US cut. That, coupled with a fine transfer in the correct aspect ratio, and I'm suitably wowed.

The sound quality should not be ignored either - it's superb. I like the fact BFI use a (big by DVD standards) DD 320kbps encode for a mono soundtrack. The reverberating, unsettling score gets the room it needs to scratch away at the ear drums. I've honestly never heard the film sound so good.

The Hell on Earth documentary is excellent. It manages to cram a lot into forty-odd minutes. Probably because there isn't any fluff. The censored footage that is included here shows just how ludicrous some of the censoring is.

The Ken Russell Q&A clip had me glued. I'd have watched so much more of that if it were possible.

I have to admit, the more leisurely Director of Devils archive piece had me struggling to stay tuned in to the screen. The archival footage was fascinating, the piece as a whole just seemed to lack focus. I'm still very grateful for it's inclusion though, it's contextual place is invaluable.

I haven't had the time to digest absolutely everything yet in this feature packed DVD, including it's thick booklet which on cursory glance is packed with knowledgeable writings about the film. But I couldn't recommend this highly enough, despite this editions unavoidable flaws. Suffice it to say, I'll be treasuring this DVD but would have no qualms about buying it again on Blu-Ray or in a less censored version. I now absolutely adore this film in a way I didn't previously.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2012 2:23 PM BST

Seeing Heaven [DVD]
Seeing Heaven [DVD]
Dvd ~ Anthony Styles
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: £8.66

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seeing twaddle, 12 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Seeing Heaven [DVD] (DVD)
Another one that sounds good on paper but spoiled by ridiculous acting and soft-porn-aren't-we-hip score. The lead was supposed to be incredibly beautiful according to the plot but that of course is going to be in the eye of the beholder. What's more important is getting someone who can act, and I'm afraid the lead is the worst culprit here.

The script is written in a style that alienates, rather than includes an audience. If you're not in the head of the writer, then much of it is flimsy or confusing with a rule of logic not apparent in the film language. However, I don't think I can blame just the writing - the acting is so flat from the lead that a lot of meaning is probably bleached away that way.

I wanted it to be good but was very let down. The low budget nature of these films isn't an excuse here. With a bit of more careful casting, a rewrite or two more and a score that adds something more than just sound would have improved things no end.

The Big Finish Companion - Volume 1
The Big Finish Companion - Volume 1
by Richard Dinnick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 27 Nov. 2011
This was hyped so much and showed lots of promise, but my initial happiness is evaporating. As I've had time to digest this, the more and more obvious and plain daft errors become apparent. When many a fan can immediately spot an error and know the correction off the top of their head, you know something's not quite right.

And the more I look at it, there is a lot of empty space. It's almost as if the final manuscript came in and they had to pad out the page count to justify the initial pricing that went up way back before this was finished. I also don't like the paper and printing used. It's very cheap looking and to the touch and as the photos were one of the main selling points, to see them reproduced so poorly is a massive let down.

I really don't wish to offend anyone involved with this book. But I can't really put a sugar coating on it either. If this was £10 to £15 cheaper and in paperback, I'm sure I could be much more supportive. As it is though, it's priced as a luxury item but with cheap printing, questionable layout and countless errors and missed opportunities.

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter [DVD] [1973]
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter [DVD] [1973]
Dvd ~ Horst Janson
Price: £4.79

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Repressed disc, 12 Sept. 2011
I've edited this review to reflect the replacement disc from Icon.

Icon were so ashamed at the print they used for the first DVD pressings, they repressed the disc with a better transfer and offered a free replacement program for purchasers unfortunate enough to have bought the horrendous first pressing. Quite how the initial version got through (by accident according to Icon) is beyond me - do Icon not have basic quality control?

What's on the new disc is an anamorphically enhanced transfer at the OAR of 1.66:1, unlike the US release which is cropped to 1.85:1. It is the same print as was remasered previously for the older DDHE release. For the most part it is clean and clear, except from around the half hour mark there is evidence of tramline scratches which have been disguised somewhat in the remastering process but are still evident. To remove them totally could have left artefacts just as bad if not worse than the original scratches. I certainly very happy with it as it stands now. I dare say it could only be bettered by a brand new, from the bottom up, high definition remaster.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2013 12:46 AM BST

The Abominable Snowman [DVD] [1957]
The Abominable Snowman [DVD] [1957]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing
Price: £4.22

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film, good DVD, 12 Sept. 2011
It seems that out of Icon's Autumn 2011 generally poor quality batch of releases, The Abominable Snowmen stands apart as being a perfectly reasonable quality DVD. The B&W picture is clean enough and is 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1, preserving the original aspect ratio. I didn't notice any colour noise or incorrect interlacing. There's a healthy level of grain and film dirt, clearly not remastered but nothing excessive - perfectly acceptable for a budget DVD release of a film of this age. The sound is clear.

I feel very satisfied at this DVD release of a classic Nigel Kneale story. Take note Icon - this is how they all should be done.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2011 12:47 PM BST

X The Unknown [DVD]
X The Unknown [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dean Jagger
Price: £4.99

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great film, awful DVD, 9 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: X The Unknown [DVD] (DVD)
This review refers to the Icon Home Entertainment release of 2011.

My copy has arrived, and I hope it's not an indicator of the rest of Icon's classic Hammer output. The good news is that the X certificate screen is presented at the start. The bad news, and it is very bad news is that it's a dirty, scratched print and is covered in random colour noise. It's normally a clue that an older, composite analogue master has been used. Worst of all is ghosting reminiscent of either a NTSC to PAL conversion, or a dodgy interlaced one. Iffy sound tops it all off. It's noisy, full of clicks and pops and sometimes has a high pitched whine to it that'll set your dog off howling. Some dialogue in the second half of the film becomes inaudible through the sheer level of loud pops.

The disclaimer at the start about the quality and age of the material is surely a joke. The age or otherwise of a film is not an excuse to release a substandard DVD when better source materials do exist. It's criminal that such outstanding films from the history of British cinema are presented this way in 2011.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 4, 2015 2:28 PM BST

Coronation Street: Tram Crash [DVD]
Coronation Street: Tram Crash [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Roache
Price: £5.39

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why do they ruin good shows with bad DVDs?, 5 Mar. 2011
As soon as I pressed play the disappointment hit. The episodes have been filmised, even unfathomably the live episode. The lead in to the closing theme over the last moments of each episode has been edited out, leading to very abrubt endings and sudden end credits. Probably more things to complain about, but I've already lost all enthusiasm for viewing it properly. It's probably just as well they didn't bother with a Blu Ray version.

If you must have it, then for God's sake wait for the sales. A very flawed way to present a great week of Corrie history.

Dewey: The small-town library-cat who touched the world
Dewey: The small-town library-cat who touched the world
by Vicki Myron
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A let down, 17 Feb. 2010
I was delighted to receive this book for Christmas, as it's one I had really been looking forward to. The first few chapters are fine and read as the cover suggests it should. Then it becomes more and more about the 20th Century history of Iowa and the life of Vicki, with references to Dewey at the end of these chapters shoe horned in. Don't get me wrong, it is well written and probably of interest to a lot of people. If I wanted to know about Vicki and the history of Iowa, that's what autobiographical and historical genres are for. Therefore, as a book primarily aimed at cat lovers wanting to read a book about a cat named Dewey, it's a bit of a deception.

Sonic Unleashed (PS3)
Sonic Unleashed (PS3)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £11.87

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another major letdown, 29 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Sonic Unleashed (PS3) (Video Game)
Having played on and really enjoyed the Wii version of this game, I was expecting much of the same, albeit with improved graphics and a bigger scope. Boy, was I wrong. This is a pure mess of a game. Camera angles make gameplay difficult. Cheap deaths often baffle the player as to what you've actually done wrong. Control accuracy is sketchy at best. Point markers are in the most horrid of places, meaning you have to fight the same old enemies with no variation - it's just basically mindless button bashing each time you die. I should have known something was amiss when extra lives are given away as freely as fresh air.

Do yourself a favour, avoid the problematic PS3 and 360 versions and go for the unbelievably superior PS2 or Wii versions. Sure, the graphics aren't as good, but gameplay enjoyment is miles ahead.

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