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Mr. R. M. O'flanagan (Leeds)

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Cloud Atlas [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [Region Free]
Cloud Atlas [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Price: £6.81

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed masterpiece, 3 Jan 2013
If you've not read the book, it has a curious Russian Doll construction where you get the first half of each of the stories, in chronological order. So it begins in 1849, and each subsequent tale has a reference to the previous, until we get to the far, post-apocalyptic future. After this you get the 2nd half of the stories, and the connections between them become more obvious. It always looked a tall order to film the book, and so it has proved, although there is much enjoyment to be had if you can stay focused for nearly 3 hours.

Rather than stick with the Russian-Doll format the film chops and changes between the stories, using the same set of actors and actresses to play quite disparate roles. For example, in the first story Tom Hanks plays a doctor who seems to have cast aside his Hippocratic oath, but he also pops up as a primitive denizen of a post apocalyptic future, an aggressive Irish author, and scientist in the 1970's. Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and many others, make similar journeys through space and time, and this format works better than the book at communicating the big ideas and symbolism. Unfortunately it also gives rise to the first problem, in that some of the make up and accents used to make the actors fit their roles just don't convince. To stick with Hanks, his performance as the Irish author Dermot Hoggins is farcical - the accent just pure comedy. Extensive prosthetics are used to make Western actors look Korean for one of the stories. The question is: why? Why not use actors that actually fit the parts? Once you've made them look and sound that different you might as well have employed all Korean actors, for example, in the Korean story.

The 2nd problem concerns the story set furthest in the future. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry work well in what would have been a dramatic and moving section were it not for the "future dialect" they use which is extremely difficult to follow without subtitles. In the book you could re-read passages to get the meaning but here you've no chance, and the effect is kind of like watching a film in a foreign language you have only a basic understanding of. They could easily have had this section in normal English without losing anything from the plot (and I notice that the Korean sections are in English rather than Korean so a precedent has been set already within the story). Hopefully the Blu-Ray will have a subtitles option, although whether that will translate enough is another matter.

Finally, each story is interesting and gripping, but the dramatic tension can be broken as you skip from one to the other, and you can feel out of the loop of some sections as they are neglected (necessarily) for large portions of the film.

It would perhaps have been better to make this as several seperate short films, with a section at the end that crosses between them and ties them together (which this has anyway). That way you could have stayed with the stories and gotten to really know the characters. The links between each story would also have been more obvious. However, even with the problems mentioned there is a lot to enjoy in each story (The Ghastly Fate of Mr Cavendish is my favourite) and once you start to understand the links between the stories and over-arching themes you realise that this is a work of real ambition and scope. I guess I would award this 3 and a half stars if I could, because of the issues discussed, but if you've read and enjoyed the book this is worth watching.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2013 7:56 AM BST

Killer Joe [DVD]
Killer Joe [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emile Hirsch
Price: £3.80

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking little film, 19 Oct 2012
This review is from: Killer Joe [DVD] (DVD)
As other reviews have already mentioned this is a film with tons going for it, so I won't repeat what has gone before other than to agree that the performances and direction are superb. What I particularly enjoyed was the constant surprises - while it may be true that it was obvious that the cunning plan was going to go awry in some way, the menace that is exuded by Killer Joe himself makes you wonder what he is going to be capable of next. Having said that, the film is really about Dottie (played to perfection by Juno Temple), whose life seems to be in the hands of those who claim to have her best interests at heart but are only looking out for themselves.

Don't look for any heroes (this is a noir after all), and prepare to be shocked - this is a film that fully deserves it's 18 rating. But it is definitely worth viewing, for the haunting imagery of the dark side of America as much as anything else.

I enjoyed that the film was tightly cut and not a bloated "epic" like so much from Hollywood these days, but it would have been nice to get more resolution from the plot. Without giving too much away, you're left on something of a cliffhanger. But while it isn't a "classic", it is still something you'll watch more than once - and given the state of movies today, that is probably high praise.

Cosmopolis [DVD]
Cosmopolis [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Pattinson
Price: £5.15

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stylish but ultimately not that enjoyable to watch, 18 Oct 2012
This review is from: Cosmopolis [DVD] (DVD)
There is plenty to admire in this film, but I couldn't really describe it as an enjoyable experience to watch. Unlike other reviewers I though Pattinson seemed out of his depth - he looks pretty expressionless and his dialogue can be hard to hear at times - but he does suit the sickly palor that seems to be the norm throughout. Other performers make a better fist of their roles, particularly Giamatti.

I guess this is a film where you should probably read the book first. I didn't, but had read other Don Delilo books, so I wasn't expecting the nonsense that is the script. All the major characters spend their time making pseudo-intellectual observations about life, money, love, and the markets, which I quickly tired of. In some cases the conversations seem to be more like two seperate soliloquys with occasional pauses for breath. Samantha Morton's deranged rantings about the past, present, and future of the markets was a particular low, although to be fair the film begins to improve after this and the second half could almost be described as enjoyable as you at least get some plot worth following.

There is some humour in places, and the film looks fantastic throughout - the limo at times could be the control deck of a spaceship, and there is a cold sense of isolation and even claustrophobia - so full marks to Cronenberg in that respect. Even the sex scenes are curiously repulsive, like the characters are enduring rather than enjoying themselves.

But in no way could I actually recommend that anyone give up more than 90 minutes of their evening to watch this, because while the events unfold before you it is hard to feel gripped by them. I expected much more, and I think you probably will too.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2014 5:38 AM BST

Laptop Battery for ACER Aspire 4230 4235 4330 4535G 4736 4740G 5236 5738 2930 4310 4520 4530 4710
Laptop Battery for ACER Aspire 4230 4235 4330 4535G 4736 4740G 5236 5738 2930 4310 4520 4530 4710
Offered by ukoutlet
Price: £11.38

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't charge, therefore useless, 22 Jan 2012
I received this promptly and at first it appeared to be exactly what I was looking for - there was some residual charge in it, so it worked straght away. After a while the charge ran down (as you'd expect) so I plugged the laptop in for charging. The battery didn't charge, and instead ran out completely. The laptop would then only run on mains power, and acted as if there was no battery at all.

Another reviewer mentioned that it doesn't fit as well as the original battery, and I would agree with this, but the fact that it worked initially says that this probably wasn't an issue. Maybe I was just unlucky with this battery, but as no replacement was offered - only a refund - I took the money and would suggest you save yours.

Kingston SV200 SATA3 2.5 7mm 128GB Solid State Drive
Kingston SV200 SATA3 2.5 7mm 128GB Solid State Drive
Offered by King Of Gadgets UK
Price: £92.22

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's quite good..., 23 Dec 2011
...but not awesome. Bear in mind that I upgraded from 2 7200rpm 250GB hard drives in RAID 0, so if you only have an old 5400rpm laptop drive you'll probably see a much bigger difference, but I can't say that this provided the boost I was expecting given the reviews of SSD's I read prior to purchase. My computer does now boot a bit quicker, but I suspect most of that is a clean install of Windows 7. The main differences are: when you get to the windows desktop you can open programs straight away (rather than waiting for it to finish booting), scans of the disk (e.g. antivirus or ccleaner scans) are MUCH quicker, and levels load faster in games (although there is no noticable improvement in game performance). I've checked the drivers and changed the bios settings as described - TRIM is activated and the drive is working as normal. Not having to defrag is quite cool I suppose as well.

Now, I do have a 3 year old motherboard and store all my music, docs, pictures on a old 500 GB hdd, and this might make a difference, but I suspect that with SSD's, as with everything else, you get what you pay for. Like I say, if you're considering this as an upgrade for a laptop hard drive then it is probably worth it, but for a desktop it would probably be worth spending another £30 or so and getting a Crucial M4 or similar.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) Ltd. Edition Film Cell [Blu-ray] [1977]
Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) Ltd. Edition Film Cell [Blu-ray] [1977]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great original trilogy, disappointing prequels, 18 Oct 2011
I'm sure everyone has their own opinion on the films themselves. What surprised me is the massive difference in quality between the two sets of trilogies. You would perhaps expect the more recent prequels to look superior, but in fact it is the originals that really stand out. The love and care that went in to the sets and costumes is even more apparent in HD, and the well-loved score and dialogue sound crisp in the surround sound.

By contrast, while the CGI looks sharp in the prequels, the actors look washed out and the detail you'd expect in close ups shots of the face is missing - as if a digital "airbrush" was used to smooth out this fine detail. This may have made the original DVD versions look better but is something that could and should have been sorted out for this release. I suspect that if you upscaled the original DVDs it wouldn't look any worse.

In a similar vein, the CGI that was added to the original trilogy in the 90's now looks incredibly dated and lame. Again, I can see how this made sense at the time but now just looks cheap next to the stunning original footage. Once you've seen these versions you'll understand why there is such a demand for restored theatrical releases.

I honestly thought this would be the definitive blu-ray collection to show off the superiority of the format. Not so. Get the original trilogy, but forget about the prequels or this boxed set.

Black Swan [Blu-ray]
Black Swan [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Natalie Portman
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £8.99

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grain spoils blu-ray, 28 Mar 2011
This review is from: Black Swan [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I really enjoyed this film, probably because it wasn't at all what I was expecting. There is a dreamlike (nightmarish) quality to the whole thing which makes it unsettling and keeps you on edge from the start. I would say that it also rewards repeat viewings, and Portman deserves a great deal of praise for her portrayal of the lead character.

However, I won't be buying this on Blu-Ray because the grain on the film just looks wrong in HD. I understand what the film maker was trying to do with the 16mm film stock, but the result is that it seems to look worse in Blu-Ray than on DVD, and rather than pay for the "Triple-Play" pack I'll be happy with the (ususally cheaper) DVD only release. I know you get better sound etc, but for me improved picture quality is the main reason to buy Blu-Ray over DVD, and you just don't get it with this release. Having said that, its a personal opinion and it may add to the atmosphere for you. My advice would be to try before you buy.

None of that takes away from a very good film, hence the 4 stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2011 10:35 PM BST

Vax U90-P2-B Power 2 Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Vax U90-P2-B Power 2 Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner

4.0 out of 5 stars Good vacuum cleaner, shame about the build quality, 15 Feb 2011
This machine does what it is supposed to do really well - there is powerful suction, a long cable, and it is pretty light. It loses a star because it didn't quite go together as it should have done - you have to fit some screws, and mine didn't quite fit the holes. The plastic it is constructed from doesn't seem the strongest, but to be fair I've had no problems in the short time I've owned it. However, if I was hoovering more frequently I'd worry that this would be broken before too long.

Intex Pillow Rest Classic King Size Airbed with Built in Electric Pump #66782
Intex Pillow Rest Classic King Size Airbed with Built in Electric Pump #66782
Offered by activeleisure
Price: £43.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is massive, 15 Feb 2011
Bought this as a temporary stopgap whilst waiting for a normal mattress (as it seems pretty much no-one will deliver on a weekend) and it does a job. Being able to just plug it in is really useful for at home. Not so useful for if you were camping, but then you would need some tent to fit this in as it is huge - much wider than the king-size bed frame I have which leads me to wonder if it isn't a super king size.

It gets docked a star because when it inflates there is a pillow area included which is much less comfortable than an actual pillow, and means you can't easily use a normal pillow. But that is a personal preference, and overall this is good value.

Skyline [Blu-ray]
Skyline [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Eric Balfour
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £4.59

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly dismal, 24 Jan 2011
This review is from: Skyline [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
As a sci-fi fan I was prepared to give this the benefit of the doubt after watching the trailer. Don't be fooled. It is easily one of the worst films of the year, if not all time.

The best way to describe it is as a pauper's Cloverfield, in that monsters menace an American city and the cast are a loathsome bunch of sit-com rejects whose deaths you'll celebrate rather than mourn. But where as Cloverfield cleverly hides the monster until near the end and builds up the tension, Skyline shows its hand pretty much straight away, and after that you get basically a B-movie.

I get that this was made on a shoestring (that much is obvious - its shot entirely around one building in LA and apart from the handful of main characters there are virtually no extras), but this could have been so much better. What little money they had was clearly spent on the special effects, which would have stunned a decade ago, but now look like something from the intro of a video game. If you were drunk or stoned they may well have looked impressive on the big screen, but in HD the limitations are obvious. It is all immaterial anyway because the the acting, script, and plot are abysmal.

If you can make it until the end there is a twist which just about lifts this above zero stars, but is certainly not worth waiting for let alone spending any money on.

Please don't buy this. It will only encourage them to make a sequel.

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