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O. Southwood "owensouthwood" (UK)

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The Inbetweeners 2 [Blu-ray] [2014]
The Inbetweeners 2 [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Simon Bird
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £12.88

2.0 out of 5 stars Rehash of part 1 and not as funny, 26 Jan. 2015
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Oh dear now this is a real shame. A really great TV series and a superb 1st movie promised much, but here we have been served up a weak, half-hearted rehash of the 1st movie with a story that feels awkward and forced. It seems a case of "why change a winning formula?". Another lads holiday with hilarious misadventure.

The repeated storyline and sense of repetition immediately flattens the movie for me. They'd already done brilliantly the lad's holiday caper in the 1st movie, there was simply no need to repeat it. They should have done something new because this feels old and tired within 20 minutes.

There are two or three (very) funny set pieces but these aren't enough to prevent an overall crushing disappointment at the haphazard storyline and lack of character development. The reliance upon toilet humour pushes a bit far at times, but I think they get away with that because it's Inbetweeners.

Maybe the problem is that part 1 had set the bar too high, or maybe it's that the hype promised too much. But I felt let down by this.

Star Trek Into Darkness [DVD]
Star Trek Into Darkness [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Pine
Price: £5.00

2.0 out of 5 stars To boldly rip off what no film has ripped off before, 26 Jan. 2015
If you grew up with the original Star Trek movies and enjoyed in particular Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn, then you will very likely be annoyed by this film. Why, because it's a shameless rip-off of that movie, with very little original content. It works less well than the aforementioned classic because most of the cast are barely out of college. Kirk in particular has a Justin Beiber look about him, clueless, wide-eyed and full of testosterone, a far cry from the mature heroic strategist of William Shatner's Kirk. These new Treks are Star Trek Lite for the teen generation, and they serve that purpose well. I suppose in fairness it would be impossible to please everyone - the oldies like me and the newbies too. Star Trek Into Darkness is one massive 'in joke' that shakes its own hand and pats its own head at every chance it gets. Look out for the crow-barred in cameo of Spock as an example of this.

It's an action film for teenagers, it's not a space exploration film. The only thing that's boldly gone anywhere is the sense of adventure. The ending however does promise some real Trekking to come. Here's hoping.

Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer
Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer
Price: £19.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously flawed., 11 Aug. 2014
This is a great idea but very poorly designed. There are some massive flaws in the design and some of them downright dangerous.

1. It cannot be wall mounted. Which is ridiculous. It must sit on its feet so you must have a conveniently positioned shelf in the room near the bed.

2. It does not take batteries and must be plugged into the mains at all times. So ask yourself first if you are able to safely put an electric chord within reach of your child's bed. (Remember the clock needs to be near the bed for the child to see it!). A childs instinct will be to reach out and grab/play with this clock, which will be plugged into the mains. Are you happy with that?

3. It is too bright and lights up the room (which in our case ruins the effort we went to making it dark!). (EDIT: There is a brightness control which helps!)

4. The mains chord again. It unplugs from the clock end, meaning the child can easily pull it out and get tangled around their neck during the night. Even if you are careful where you position the clock, this is a risk. If it unplugged at the power supply end, then it would not be such a problem.

5. The clock leans backwards about 20 degrees, so cannot be seen properly if put on a high shelf. This is very annoying if you want to keep the clock out of reach (but within sight) of your child.

Nice idea but hopeless design. I can't believe they let it go to market with these problems to be honest. And I'm staggered at the good reviews on here.

My advice is don't buy it without thinking hard about where it's going to be plugged in and how dark you want the room to be.

EDIT: Have managed to install it by securing the wire inside some plastic casing against the wall. Positioned mains plug out of reach behind a cupboard and had to put a small chest of drawers near the bed to place the clock on it. Has it made our child sleep better? No.

Riddick [Blu-ray]
Riddick [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Vin Diesel
Price: £6.90

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forget Chronicles, this is Pitch Black part 2, 29 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Riddick [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Great to see the return of Riddick and in general this was an immensely enjoyable piece of sci-fi action in the same style as its previous two parts. Definitely a worthy addition to the series and Riddick himself is on top form as the lethal anti-hero in peril. The love and devotion to the franchise shines through in this movie, it was made with great care for the material and it shows.

Problems? There are a few. First and foremost the lack of a decent opponent or any real threat to Riddick as he seems able to fight his way out of anything and lacks any sort of fear or vulnerability. The character of 'Johns' is meant to be his nemesis here but Johns never provides any real threat or indeed presence.

Second problem is the poor continuity with the previous movies. The ending of 'Chronicles of Riddick' is dealt with and forgotten within the first few scenes of 'Riddick' and then we are back to square one with Riddick as a lone refugee stranded on a strange world with dangerous aliens and monsters. Sound familiar? That's because it becomes a re-hash of Pitch Black pretty soon into the movie.

The aliens/monsters are great, and especially the dogs. But the human cast are lacking in motivation and threat. I would like to see Riddick up against a real human antagonist able to challenge him physically and strategically. What about somebody with see-in-the-dark ability or some equal power to his?

There were odd moments that remind us (rather uncomfortably) that Riddick is not a nice person and we should not like him. (He even hints at rapist tendancies at one point). For me these moments spoil him as a character, or perhaps that is the idea, to make us feel uncomfortable rooting for him?

Despite its issues, this is a solid chunk of science fiction and it only disappoints in comparison to 'Chronicles of Riddick' because it doesn't take the story forward in a way that expands that universe at all. Fingers crossed for a part 4 to address that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2014 7:59 AM BST

Port Meribel Waterproof Base Backpack for 17.3 inch Laptop
Port Meribel Waterproof Base Backpack for 17.3 inch Laptop
Price: £31.62

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great bag, but no waterproof cover?, 29 July 2014
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This is a nice sturdy bag, very roomy and well made. I like it a lot.

BUT. The pictures are misleading as there is no waterproof cover, or at least there wasn't one with my bag.

Insidious Chapter 2 [Blu-ray]
Insidious Chapter 2 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Patrick Wilson
Price: £6.60

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't get your hopes up for this disappointing sequel., 28 July 2014
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Well this was a huge let-down. What on earth happened? Where did all the scary demons and shocks go? What about the red-faced monster? Yes, Insidious part 1 ripped off a lot of well-known films such as Poltergeist but at least it did it with a solid script and some pacey storytelling that kept me gripped and had genuinely scary monsters and a tense atmosphere throughout.

This second part continues to harvest its material from Poltergeist (even has an appearance from a spooky television!) but also thieves shamelessly from sources as diverse as Ghostbusters (geeks catching ghosts), The Shining (crazed man attacks family), Back To The Future (yep, time travel), Amytyville Horror (possessed good guy goes bad) and Blair Witch (yes, there are tedious 'found footage' style scenes in here).

James Wan this time has dispersed of the varied and scary demons of part 1 and opted instead for lame, pathetically non-scary ghosts, in particular the 'bride' ghost from part 1 - for whom a lame backstory has been retro-fitted needlessly.

I would say the dreadful "retro-fitting" is one of the main problems with Insiduous Chapter 2. It felt like an explanatory guide at times rather than a thriller, and the result is a mess of a tale that has all of its tension sucked out of it.

The red-faced demon of part 1 was awesome and made the whole film work. Without him/it, this is just a by-the-numbers ghost story with no real scares or punches.

It also felt very "sequel-ish" by which I mean it feels like an add-on with reduced budget and exhausted ideas thrown up on screen for the sake of extending the story.

Insidious seems to be sliding into the trap that the SAW series did, which is to gradually weaken the story by retro-fitting sub plots and characters around the events we've already seen. Trying to be clever by showing us previous events from a different perspective? Not clever, just dull.

The problems are: (1) No more red faced demon, (2) So many re-used cliches from other films, (3) Simply not scary, (4) Too much retro-fitting that feels forced and awkward.

The acting is fine but the storyline was terrible and boring. Oh, and the ending was downright annoying.

Oblivion [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [2013]
Oblivion [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [2013]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £16.46

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good science fiction conspiracy thriller, 27 May 2014
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Oblivion is a deep conspiracy thriller with vast implications that keep you thinking long after watching.

This is a very watchable movie with good production values. The script and story are solid and intelligent. The experience is nicely spaced out with impressive wide open landscapes and only a handful of characters to fill them. Visually, Oblivion is a treat, but moreover it is refreshing to see a post-apocalyptic story with some heart and soul to it, as well as enough possibilities to keep you interested.

Cruise himself does his usual thing, playing the tormented hero in a science fiction setting. His portrayal is very similar to the heroes of say Minority Report or War of the Worlds, but to his credit, Cruise is very good at what he does, and I cannot imagine a different actor leading this film. The sci-fi / action genres do suit his skill set very well.

One of the best qualities of this film is the soundtrack. I don't just mean the music but the sound effects, which are awesome. Everything from the drones, aircraft and weapons, to the scavengers' "speech" are superbly unnerving and weird.

There honestly isn't much to criticise in Oblivion but a few niggly points remain (Stop reading now to avoid spoilers). First, the timeframe seems wrong. The world looks more like something thousands of years after the apocalypse, not a few decades. But the references don't add up. Second, there was a slight vagueness and unresolved aspect to the ending. No actual purpose or clarity for the alien invasion is ever explained. Not is it explained how the supposedly alien drones have English words and numbers printed on them. A few illogical points aren't enough to ruin the fun, thankfully.

Despite its visual elegance, Oblivion is an immerse movie that smacks of accomplished writing and production rather than over-reliance on effects.

Basta / Shaw Replacement Wood Timber Window Handle Locking Casement Fastener (Polished Chrome)
Basta / Shaw Replacement Wood Timber Window Handle Locking Casement Fastener (Polished Chrome)
Offered by DJM Direct
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does not include screws, 21 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are sturdy high quality fixtures. I got mine in polished chrome.

Screws were not included in the package so I had to buy some new ones.

Dexter - The Final Season [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dexter - The Final Season [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Price: £18.10

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A confused mess with a dissatisfying ending, 12 May 2014
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This review contains spoilers and must be taken in context. I have watched all of Dexter's entire box sets from beginning to end, so I can only review S8 as a concluding part to a long running saga. I cannot review this without giving away the plot, or without sounding annoyed, so be warned.

Let's be clear: This season was the last chance for the writers to redeem themselves, to restore the tension, mystery, intrigue and suspense to Dexter and pull everything together in a satisfying concluding act that answered the key question of what happens when Dexter finally gets exposed. The death of a key person at the end of S7 was a perfect trigger for the net to close in on Dexter and for Miami Metro to turn Miami upside down looking for the killer.

The opening two episodes of S8 seemed to be nicely pushing us toward a manhunt with Dexter in the spotlight, with the smart and unflappable Dr. Vogel seemingly teasing Dexter with hints and suspicions. So it seemed that S8 would become a brilliant test of Dexter's ability to deflect suspicion while trying to survive long enough to kill a cruel bad guy.

But then the writers decided not to bother. Instead they brought back Hannah and the pathetic fatal attraction storyline. Then they revealed this season's killer to be a bit-part character who'd only spoke two lines. (At this point it became clear they were making it up as they went along). Then they introduced a possible protege for Dexter (a teenage killer) to teach 'the code'... but then killed him, off-screen, for no reason. Then they killed Vogel, on-screen, for no reason. Then they killed Debs, off-screen, for no reason. Then they killed the sub plots for Angel, Masuka and Quinn by simply abandoning them mid-story and never mentioning them again. Then they had Dexter fake his own death and abandon his son for NO GOOD REASON AT ALL having built up the fact he loves his son.

This whole season felt like a desperate grab for ideas, none of which stuck, and all of which were aborted in later episodes. The very end was terrible and made no sense at all. If only they'd piked just ONE idea and stuck with it, this could have worked. I can imagine the writers' meetings, with everyone having the "best" idea of their own, and the chief writer saying, "Calm down lads, we'll find a way to use them all. Now let's go for a beer."

People talk about how awful this final season was, or that it started going bad as early as S6, but for me it went wrong in S7 when Hannah was introduced. She destroyed the whole premise of Dexter. She gave him too much humanity and emotion. She turned him into a simpering fool who's nothing more than a lovelorn puppy. She also provided him a way out of trouble, somebody to confide in and keep his secrets. She was somebody for him to lust after, which is totally out of character for him. Dexter is a killer not a lover! And then we are asked to care less whether this woman escapes justice and we have to see Dexter try and protect her. No! We don't want this! She ought not to be in this series at all. Get rid of her! Every moment she appears is a moment of worsening quality of Dexter.

There are other mistakes too. The utter refusal to acknowledge or allude to Quinn's earlier suspicion of Dexter (in S5) is a major irritation. With Quinn randomly falling back in love with Debs (who incidentally murdered the police chief and got away with it) it seemed the perfect point to ramp up the pressure on Dexter... But no. Instead it's just a sub-plot romance between Debs and Quinn, with Dexter not involved at all. Quinn seems to be best friends with Dexter in this season and it's not realistic at all. They should have made Quinn suspicious again and work with Vogel to bring him down.

The S7 cliffhanger is conveniently glossed over, nobody suspects Debs or Dexter of anything, and it quickly becomes obvious that it will stay that way. It felt like even if Dex and Debs walked into Miami Metro shouting their guilt to the rafters, nobody would bat an eyelid.

The utter anti-climax of Debs' death is quite frankly ridiculous. She effectively dies off-screen (goes brain dead in a coma) and then Dexter switches off the life support in secret while the doctors are distracted by a big storm. Eh? Seriously? Is that the best they could come up with? It would have taken guts for the writers to have Deb confess everything and land Dexter in trouble, but no, the writers had no guts.

The very final scene? All I can say is just, what the hell is that all about? Dexter having killed his sister, faked his death and abandoned his son to the care of a serial killer who's fled the country, sits in an unexplained log cabin and stares into camera looking miserable. I like to think he's silently apologising on behalf of the writers for the mess he's made us watch. If only he'd shrugged his shoulders, it would have been perfect.

This final season was a wasted opportunity.

My perfect final season would have gone something like this: Dr. Vogel appears and (wrongly) suspects Dexter of being the Brain Surgeon, puts him under pressure and then finds something linking him to other killings in the past. Quinn too begins to reignite his own suspicions from S5 and the two of them go to Angel with their concerns. Angel dismisses them but then he begins to suspect Deb and puts two and two together. Vogel pursues Dexter and using her psychologist skill gets him to accidentally confess. Dexter takes the blame for LaGuerta's death and clears Deb of any trouble. He then spends the final 3 episodes trying to escape the team. In a final shoot-out, Dexter ends up dying in front of Harrison who sits in a pool of blood and is destined to become the new Dexter. Debs resuces him and brings him up as her own. The End. (And no Hannah anywhere to be seen).

Dexter - Season 7 [Blu-ray]
Dexter - Season 7 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Price: £31.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Weakest season so far (spoiler heavy review), 18 Mar. 2014
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Do not read this if you don't want to know what happens in Season 7 of Dexter.

Right then. Let the moaning begin.

I am a long-time fan of Dexter but even I have to admit it. At this point in the journey, the quality of Dexter's storylines and characters is deteriorating badly. Unlike most reviewers I really liked Season 6 and even Season 5 before that. For me the worst of the lot was season 2 with it's shambolic "fatal attraction" plot. ...Which is probably why I disliked Season 7 so much: What we have here is essentially another shambolic "fatal attraction" plot with a few random sub plots thrown in. The whole thing feels like a re-hash of Season 2.

Here is what I mean. Remember that Season 2 had Dexter up against the femme fatale Layla while also contending with Doakes who suspects him of being the Bay Harbour Butcher? Doakes then died when he found out for sure, before he could tell anyone. Season 2 has Dexter up against femme fatale Hannah while contending with Laguerta who suspects him of being the Bay Harbour Butcher. Laguerta then dies when she finds out for sure, before she can tell anyone. As if to confirm the re-hash, the events of Season 2 are referred to in Season 7 through flashbacks and awkward back references.

But the lazy re-use of an old plot is the least of the problems in Season 7. Let's look at the characters. The ensemble cast are woefully underused this time around, the comic genius of Masuka barely sees the light of day, while Angel is conveniently set aside the events to open a restaurant for no reason other than give him some reason to exist on screen. The emaciated skinny cop (whose name I forgot) starts an affair with a stripper who is part of a murder investigation. (Yawn, seen it all before). We are supposed to believe he is madly in love with her, and worse still, we are expected to care. This cop is not likable and I do not care about his life. The writers seem confused, on the one hand they want us to hate him because he's corrupt but on the other they want us to see him live happy ever after. Result: I don't care either way!

Then we have the problem of the "main baddie" who is like something from an 80's Old Spice commercial, a suave Russian mobster named Isaak Sirko who has a posh English accent(?) and comes to Miami to avenge the killing (by Dexter) of his criminal best mate (and gay lover apparently). This mobster is pathetic and shallow compared to the excellent Trinity or Ice Truck Killer for example, and makes me yearn for those good old days of Dexter's "proper" bad guys. Even last season's Travis Marshall was a more compelling baddie than this lame duck.

Sirko seems to be there purely to help tie up loose ends and kill off characters whose Season 6 storylines proved too difficult to resolve. This "giving up" on characters really annoyed me. The geeky and creepy lab assistant Louis is a case in point. He was a good character! I had high hopes for the whole stalking/obsession thing between Louis and Dexter but no, that's too hard to develop so they just have Sirko shoot him in the head (for no good reason) and we forget the whole Louis thing ever happened. (And nobody seems to notice or care that he's dead!).

The waters are muddied further by the introduction of Hannah, a known killer who for no apparent reason becomes Dexter's lover when they meet during a cold case investigation. Now there is nothing wrong with this in theory, two killers finding out each other's secrets and dating each other... BUT Hannah herself is a horrendous character, there is nothing likable about her whatsoever (besides her good looks). Again the writers expect us to want this pair to live happily ever after, they expect us to be concerned when she's in danger. But NO, we don't like her! So don't set up a hateful person and expect us to give a damn how their story goes on, or care about her escaping captivity or being injured, or getting upset by her mean Dad. Personally I wanted her to die and was annoyed that she survived to escape custody in really ludicrous circumstances at the end.

And another thing: I did NOT like the way the writers dealt with the Season 6 cliffhanger. I mean really, Debs, the police lieutenant (FFS!), discovers that her adopted brother is a long-time serial killer and what does she do? She helps him cover it all up and then tries to 'cure' him as if he were a drug addict, thus implicating herself in his actions. It takes maybe 3 or 4 episodes for Debs to have apparently "accepted" the situation just get on with her life while keeping Dexter's secret. WTF? Just not credible. Oh, and nearly forgot, she is madly in love with him too. But to be fair this is the first series where Debs hasn't jumped into bed with a man.

That said, for me Debs was actually the saving grace of Season 7. The story actually challenged her and gave her something interesting to deal with for a change instead of just falling into bed with suspects or cops while swearing a lot. But the way she dealt with Dexter was a wasted opportunity.

I enjoyed the last two episodes and especially the shocking ending (see spoiler warning above!) but it could have been done so much better over all. They skipped the sickening body-disposal boat scene which I think was more essential now than ever, just to hammer home the point.

Now I look forward to seeing if Season 8 is really as bad as everyone keeps telling me it is!

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