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G. Hanks "hanks1980" (United Kingdom)

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Crowsnest [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Crowsnest [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Aslam Husain
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 10.35

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Found footage? Record over it with something better, 16 Oct 2013
Whilst the handheld camera found footage style of horror storytelling has many detractors that will always hate these films, regardless of quality, it's a style I've still got some patience for. For me Cloverfield and Blair Witch are great examples of this style and I have no problem with other films trying it out if they do it right. Crowsnest is not one of these films, in fact it fails in almost every conceivable way a film could.

Like too many horror films these days we're introduced to four very unlikable characters in their early twenties that guarantee the majority of viewers will watch the film gleefully waiting for them to die rather than engage in their plight. We meet a fifth character who is less easy to hate largely due to the fact that she says very little and is the stereotypical moody teen of the group. When we meet all these characters the film has instantly failed at having any chance of being engaging or having the audience care about the characters, and the more you watch, this doesn't change. If anything the characters get worse and worse as the film goes on. None of them are portrayed as real humans (if they are, then we're all doomed!) and with each line, each contrivance, each completely mental uttering, they become more hateful. This alone makes this film unwatchable but that's not the only crime.

Whilst it descends into a poor serial killer version of Spielberg's Duel the set up to the horror aspect plays as a supernatural one, complete with scary little girl in white dress character magically "disappearing." Almost like the director shot the film in sequence and didn't realise what kind of film they wanted to make, thus creating a false sense of expectation that can never be delivered on.

As with many found footage films there is the contrivance of actually having the camera on to record the events. Whilst films like Cloverfield are certainly blunt in their justification, Crowsnest takes a cricket bat and smashes you in the face with it. Constantly reminding us why all these events simply HAVE to be filmed. Then throw in the camera work of an 8 year old running around with a Lego brick and it's quite the recipe for disengagement and serious nausea. Even in scenes of action the film doesn't credit the audience with having any form of spatial awareness, seeing the victims run from their oppressors at points that they wouldn't really be able to escape from.

The whole experience results in frustration as a viewer. Some of the worst scripting ever committed to film; terrible, unlikeable and unbelievable characters, poor pacing and camera work that's like a one way trip on the vomit comet. There are better amateur horror films on youtube, I don't know how this got picked up by a production company as it plays like an ambitious student project gone horribly wrong.

State of Emergency [DVD]
State of Emergency [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jay Hayden
Price: 3.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No humanity, 16 Oct 2013
This review is from: State of Emergency [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst there have been a glut of Zombie related films and videogames over the last few years there is always room for either a fresh new take on the genre or just a film that does the current tropes really well. State of Emergency does try to be fresh but falls down in too many key areas to be anything other than watchable at best.

The film focuses on human drama rather than all out zombie action and the narrative is kept simple, centred on main protagonist Jim's battle for survival. Don't expect an action blasting gorefest or zombie's that look like the box art (what was the marketing department thinking?) These are 28 Days Later running zombies so expect red contact lenses and some make up, nothing special but they do the job. The opening 15 minute section creates decent tension with no dialogue as Jim finds an empty building to hide along with a tense zombie encounter. The film unfortunately starts to go south when Jim meets up with three other survivors in a warehouse which provides the basis for the rest of the film.

For a film that focuses almost entirely on human drama the characters are really poorly drawn and the script and performances mostly substandard. Husband and wife team Scott and Julie never really feel like they're husband and wife and Alix ("call me `Ix'") seems to be the only one with any dimension even if she's completely drawn from the stereotype of moody vulnerable girl who has a heart of gold inside. The film certainly leans towards the male power fantasy side of things, Julie is just the mother role, healer and cook, we barely see any of her in the film. Ix exists to do nothing other than give Jim someone to connect with and drive some of the plot, although her performance is better than the others and her character probably the most fleshed out. The women are really poorly represented on the most part, playing the fifties helpless maidens which has no place in modern film making. There's even one point where a zombie attacks and one of them runs off with the guns!

This leaves us with Jim and Scott leading the charge in any of the real "doing" which subjects the audience to several emotionless discussions which sound more like two gamers talking co-op tactics on Xbox live than two real humans stuck in a dangerous situation fighting for their lives. This poor execution combined with Scott Lilly's incredibly flat performance as Scott (failing to play himself convincingly?) leaves a film that lacks any real weight and flattens the majority of dramatic moments. Scott's description early on of seeing his neighbour's husband eating his wife's has the same amount of emotion as describing a walk to the shops and seeing a dog urinating on a lamp post. Whilst Jay Hayden gives a better performance as Jim, he's given so little to work with in the script.

This is a shame as the rest of the film has real potential. The scenes are well shot to a budget and the cinematography is consistently decent, Turner Clay can certainly direct good scenes visually, even if he can't write them. There's even a unique take on a zombie that I haven't seen before but sadly this was not explored for more than the 30 seconds it lasted as this could've really helped the film. If Clay can get good writers in I'd like to see more of his work but as it stands this film lacks any believability within its own narrative.

For me this film can be filed under those I'm glad I watched but with far too many flaws to be considered good and really squandered some interesting potential. With a script that could handle proper human interaction and performances to match it this may have even been great. Sadly, it's one that really only belongs in the bargain bucket.

Drinking from the Sun
Drinking from the Sun
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: 11.33

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunshine hiphop, 25 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Drinking from the Sun (Audio CD)
I was recently introduced to the Hilltop hoods from a well timed facebook post by a friend. After some youtube related listening it didn't take long for me to decide that it deserved a well earned purchase.

If you need your hip-hop to be fully gangster then you're best off avoiding this one as it's a positive display of quality vocalisation that stays well clear of the guns, beeatches and bling associated with the popular end of the genre. Instead, if you like a sunnier, happier flavour of hip-hop or something that comes close (but doesn't quite match) lyrical depth of Abdominal you'll get something close to that here. To be fair the comparison to Abdominal isn't entirely fair as the Hilltop Hoods take their shot at Hip-hop from a somewhat different angle, there are no focuses on breath control here. It's sunshine all the way.

Guest vocals from ex Zero 7 vocalist Sia make "I love it" a stand out track, even if you have to fight references to the insipid McDonald's advert tag line.

There's a lot to like in this album and the energy and quality is consistent. Well worth a shot if you fancy expanding (or continuing your expansion) of the hip-hop genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2013 6:00 PM GMT

Price: 10.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful deep psyambience, 25 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mimesis (Audio CD)
Mimesis is the third release by Sundail Aeon, Metabasis being the first (under the name Sundial) and Apotheosis being the second.

Whilst Apotheosis was a subtle development of Metabasis' sound, Mimesis evolves the Sundial sound to include greater depths along with substantially grander peaks and troughs in the energy of the music. I loved the first two albums but this one really steps things up with a lot more going on in the tracks and greater synth prescence adding a more distinct tone to the subtler offerings of the previous albums.

If you liked the previous albums then you certainly wont be disappointed with the offering here, it develops on what has come before it and provides a genuine evolution of the Sundial sound. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in psy-ambience, it has enough energy to keep your attention but still providing a relaxing ambient experience, just one that governs more of your attention than the previous albums.

As always these experiences are best had with either a decent sound system or a good quality set of headphones.

Wave Race 64 (N64)
Wave Race 64 (N64)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still makes a good splash, 24 July 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Wave Race 64 (N64) (Video Game)
The N64 was host to many classics, the likes of Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time and Mario 64 are still mentioned in high regard as being great and highly playable innovations of the day. Whilst Wave Race does not quite reach the upper echelons of all time classic, it was still innovative and deserves it's only space in the history books.

There aren't many games that take on jet ski's in the racing genre which helps Wave Race stand out from the crowd. One of the biggest pulls of the game and what makes it unique is the physics engine. This was the first time in a game that water had been modelled at this level providing a decent, high quality representation that actually had a tangible physical effect on the handling of the Jet Ski. The quality of the water simulation combined with a superb, tight handling model and precise analogue control makes for a very playable experience allowing the player to focus on dealing with the course and elements rather than having something overly twitchy to hand. The handling is also adjustable so you can have a varying degrees between tight and loose which are comparatively the Jet Ski equivalents of front wheel and rear wheel drive.

Being released at a time before games threw a ridiculous large number of courses at the player this one comes with a now seemingly paltry 8. However they have different layouts depending on the difficulty of Championship you enter with buoy positions, wave formations and speed all affected making them very different propositions to race around. Even the most simplistic course on the normal difficulty become a treacherous snaking slalom where subtle adjustments and wave anticipation are key. The computer AI in Championship mode does a good job of keeping the player honest, if there is catch up on either side then it's done very subtly. Also, the computer does make mistakes too, it may not sound like a big thing but it makes them feel more like you're racing human opposition.

Once the Championship is complete then it's on to Stunt Mode where each track has jumps to hit and rings to ride through. The game holds a fair amount of lastability here as a score attack proposition and putting together high scoring stunts whilst trying to get through the course as quickly as possible driving through all the rings is a stiff challenge. Pad passing with a similarly skilled opponent really helps to bring this mode alive as you vie for the top score.

Stunts can be performed on water by releasing the throttle, inputting some stick directions, then pressing the throttle again. Such as down-up for a handstand or a full rotation in either direction for different stunts. The game also has a lot more midair tricks than its sequel Blue Storm on the Gamecube, with forward flips, divebombs, corkscrews etc... which adds to the variety, score and the all important show boating.

There is a two player mode as well, obviously the visuals take a fair hit showing two screens which the modern generation will baulk at but it is still playable and humour is inevitable as collisions and trying to "out-stunt" each other become the order of the day.

Graphically the game looks reasonable enough, the only thing really lacking is that the frame rate, is less than smooth, especially by today's standards. It doesn't interfere with the gameplay too much but those used to High def current gen racers may find it hard to adjust initially.

Whilst traditional arcade racers these days are few and far between Wave Race is the kind of IP that could do with a high quality sequel or HD tune up to bring it to a more modern audience. Until then if you can't get it on the N64 you can pick it up on the Virtual Console. Great pick up and play appeal combined with a score attack and stunt mode that can keep you engaged for longer play sessions makes for a strong package that most will keep coming back to. Combined with the fact that other than its Gamecube sequel (visually stronger but gameplay feels a bit more limited) there aren't many jetski games out there means this really is a retro prospect worth going for.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2012 10:38 PM BST

Streets of rage - Master System - PAL
Streets of rage - Master System - PAL

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Raging against the machine, 18 July 2012
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
After the superb quality and success of Streets of Rage on the Megadrive Sega decided to give a port a shot on the aging Master System. This may have made financial sense but on a technical level it was not a good idea and shows here.

Whether it's the fact that the Master System is just too under-powered to represent even a scaled down version of the original or if it was simply a rushed conversion with minimal budget, Streets of Rage simply fails to impress on this format.

Understandably the graphics are the first major difference. Gone are the large sprites, now reduced to tiny squat versions of their original selves. No longer can the screen be full of enemies as there are only ever 2-3 enemies on screen at one time. Some of the locations taken in are familiar enough but very crude in comparison and you'd best forget the sound living up to the genius of its 16 bit cousin.

This would be liveable if the gameplay had remained intact but sadly what makes it onto the cartridge is a very shallow, watered down interpretation of the Megadrive original. Gone are all the moves you could do in grapples that made the original so entertaining. Now you're limited pretty much to a throw or two and that's about it. It could be argued that you still had a competent fighter if you didn't compare it to the 16-bit original but it fails to surpass the likes of Golden Axe on the Master System which itself was a below average port. Where Golden Axe failed on being overly ambitious, Streets of Rage falls by the wayside by what feels like lack of ambition. Being so limited in a scrolling fighter, especially one that shares its name with the best in the genre at the time, means that this conversion is guaranteed to linger in the shadows of obscurity and is too formulaic to hold the attention.

The best that can be said is that it's playable, albeit frustrating, and worth a punt on curiosity value just because it is substantially different from the Megadrive original.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2012 8:02 AM BST

Altered Beast - Master System - PAL
Altered Beast - Master System - PAL

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rise from your flickery grave, 18 July 2012
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
As is sometimes the case, some impressive graphics can help to sell a game even if the gameplay is poor. This was very much the case with Altered Beast as it absorbed many a coin from arcade goers who were wowed by the large chunky well-drawn sprites, detail and reasonable fluidity of animation. It also helped promote the Megadrive in pre-Sonic times with a very good conversion of the arcade. Then we get to the Master System version which for the most part maintains the large sprites but loses any form of fluidity and has sprite flicker as pretty much a constant.

As a retro prospect Altered Beast is not a good one, it plays very poorly with frustrating design, poor collision detection, irritating enemies and a frequently unfair and unbalanced difficulty. Without the joy of being wowed by what are now very primitive graphics there is little other than historical interest to merit investing time on this one. In some ways the Master System version helps a bit on difficulty, plodding along at a slower rate and having less enemies on screen makes for an easier game that is at least possible to complete with all your hair intact. However when things do get busy, even mildly so, the action slows down to a crawl. The game can barely keep up with button presses and even your character flickers so much they disappear at times.

These graphical issues are made much more noticeable when you reach an end of level boss. The Master System has to get rid of the background so that you're fighting the boss in blackness and the screen just turns into an epileptic's nightmare of graphical mess.

Even if you rip through all these issues to look at the gameplay it is still a pretty weak prospect. Control input feels generally sluggish, the player is slow and limited in movement and if you miss the special power ups to transform into your Altered version then the game is impossible and a restart is required. Boss fights mostly feel like a luck based case of hammering the attack button and hoping for the best. These issues are prevalent in both the arcade and Megadrive versions but they are less likely to hurt your face and leave you blind.

If you desperately have to play this game then you're best off picking up the Ultimate Megadrive Collection on 360/PS3 as it's on that along with plenty of decent games to take the bad beasty taste out of your mouth.

Fantasy Zone II (Master System)
Fantasy Zone II (Master System)

5.0 out of 5 stars Not an adult freeview channel, 18 July 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Once more Opa-Opa steps up to the plate for more colourful 2D shooter shenanigans. The free roaming nature still remains but instead of just having one area to clear per level there are several that are interconnected by warp points that are revealed from destroying certain bases. The number of areas per level extends from three to five and eventually seven for the latter levels making this a considerably larger game than the original. Once you've destroyed all the bases in a given level then it's a question of taking a special red warp to the boss zone for a face off.

Outside of the size increase there have been various tweaks to the formula with more options for weaponry and bombs along with a health bar which can be extended and replenished at shops or by finding secrets in levels by shooting certain areas of the screen (listen for a high pitched change in shot to find them.) Instead of the floating balloon shop that you had to catch before it went off the screen in the first game, the shops are now static. This means that you can return to any shop in a level at any point and most importantly, if you die and lose your powers, it's easier to limp to a shop and buy back what you lost. It also means that you can save up coinage and prepare for an imminent boss fight.

These changes to the formula may not be ground-breaking but they do make for a more considered pace with many more options available to the player providing a crucial element of strategy. There are a few approaches to strategies for a successful playthrough, when to buy timed weapons, permanent upgrades (for that life) or health boosts etc... The general difficulty of the shooting feels increased from the original which does make the static shops and health bar a necessity to maintain a good balance. The warps also come in handy to escape a cluttered screen of enemies and bullets to get a much needed bit of breathing space.

Getting to the end is a job and a half but it's certainly an entertaining and colourful one. The candy coloured palette is back from the original but does mix in with some more muted pastel colours and dramatic vistas. The music and sound effects do their best with the Master System's limited sound chip and provide a good chirpy atmosphere without being intrusive. Sprite flicker and slow down are minimal with decent collision detection keeping the play sharp.

Fantasy Zone 2 works as a superb sequel, it ups everything in the right places whilst still staying faithful to the franchise. It comfortably sits in the upper-echelons of Master System gaming and is an essential addition to the collection for anyone wanting to experience the cream of Sega's 8-bit crop. It's currently out on Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console and whether you have an eye for good fun candy coloured shooters or enjoyed the first one this should be high on your list of retro purchases.

Long Sleep Plain
Long Sleep Plain
Price: 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Distorted dark psychill, 16 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Long Sleep Plain (Audio CD)
Heavy distorted synths, huge walls of sound, electronic beeps and harmonious bleeps combine to create an album in the Psychill genre that is uplifting and adrenaline fuelled but with a downbeat tempo. There is a rich depth to the sound and the dark synths flow with a strong bass to them.

I highly recommend checking out track 2 "Long Sleep Plain", it gives a good indication of the quality of the whole album and is also one of the stand out tracks.

Think of it as similar in some ways to Carbon Based Lifeforms album Interloper but turned sith. More energy, darker, crunchier.

Troll Hunter [Blu-ray] [2011] [US Import]
Troll Hunter [Blu-ray] [2011] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Otto Jespersen

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does exactly what it says on the box, 22 Aug 2011
I managed to get an advanced screening at the O2 Arena and have to say I was totally surprised and entertained. It's a fairly straight forward plot, students film a guy who hunts trolls, fun ensues. It's all shakey hand-cam but enough of it is clear to see what's going on and happening, especially some of the longer shots towards the end.

There's a great sense of humour to it but all the acting and dialogue is delivered straight which makes it even more entertaining. Whilst it's a low budget film the effects are decent enough and the trolls certainly feel like they inhabit the same space as the actors who respond to them. The film is a lot of fun and you can tell that the actors enjoyed their roles and the whole concept itself. It's definitely one I could watch again and the shakey hand cam doesn't become overwhelming either which is a nice change.

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys monster movies and the like, it's certainly up there with some of the best.

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