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Amazon Customer "owensouthwood" (UK)

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Last Light
Last Light
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly realistic disaster fiction, 28 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Last Light (Kindle Edition)
The 4 stars I give this are largely down to the ambitious and thought provoking plot and the ideas behind it. In terms of writing it jumps around a bit and the opening half is a little slow but as the catastrophe takes hold Scarrow shows what he is made of, ramping up the drama and reducing human beings to our base level of selfish hungry animals in the absence of our modern lifestyle. I felt the best characters did not get enough pages especially the villain, who is a delightfully cruel asassin. The very end is a bit odd however I won't spoil it here. I am definitely going to read the sequel. Alex Scarrow has a style that I had to get used to - but I am there now and I want more.

Supernatural - Season 8 Complete [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Supernatural - Season 8 Complete [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jared Padalecki
Price: £15.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weakest season yet., 26 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Season 7 wasn't great for me, I didn't rate the Leviathans as a baddie and I was glad to see the back of them. Season 8 deals with the cliffhanger in a rather silly way, but I'll take it. The first half of Season 7 opts for a 'Lost' style flashback format before reverting to the trusted format later. The story arc in this season doesn't really take shape properly, it ambles between different aims but the general point is the boys are trying to close down Hell forever using the magic tablets being deciphered by their friend Kevin from the last series. Meanwhile Crowley (the best character in Supernatural by a mile) is trying to get his devilish hands on said tablets. It works on principle but things start to feel a bit tiresome very early on. There is also some overly convenient retro-fitting of history with a time-travel episode related to their grandfather (on dad's side) which results in a rather odd setting for future episodes.

A couple of old faces return briefly (I won't spoil it here) but it seems they appear for no other reason than to please the fans, since their presence doesn't offer much else.

As usual with Supernatural it's the last 2-3 episodes which deliver the pay-off but in this case it all feels a bit grasping at straws.

This season seems to have been an attempt to change things around a bit, but it didn't go far enough and it feels like de ja vu with the same old stuff happening over and over again. The main problem though is Supernatural's bad guys, all of whom are lame and overly human, with the exception of Crowley who provides the real entertainment throughout.

Oh and one final thing, I'm starting to get annoyed with Castiel with his dreary presence and his dirty old trenchcoat and pouting face. He was great 2 seasons ago but now he feels like a spare part.

All in all, watchable nonsense, but it makes me sad because I know how great Supernatural once was. Looking forward to the next season. Onward and upward!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2015 2:02 PM BST

Gravity [DVD] [2013]
Gravity [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: £4.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tense survival film ruined by excessive background music, 18 May 2015
This review is from: Gravity [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
I liked this film a lot more than I wanted to like it. I grew weary of the hype and was in no hurry. So here I am two years later with a bit of time to kill and I decided to give it a watch.

I would not describe this as an action movie or even a sci-fi movie. Basically it's a 'castaway' movie but set in Earth Orbit. Think of a long, drawn-out single-actor piece full of soul searching and self discovery and you've got Gravity.

Sandra Bullock's emotionally tormented astronaut must first decide *if* she wants to survive before she figures out *how* to survive. The 'if' part takes priority for a while. The psychological themes of this film outweigh the visual spectacle for me, though the effects are convincing enough.

There is something which ruins it for me, and this will sound silly, but the soundtrack of this films is ridiculous. I mean over-use of dramatic background music throughout. The sublime and terrifying silence of space is constantly ruined by a mixture of country music and dark grunge which frankly spoils the moment. The most spectacular set pieces would have been even better if allowed to breathe in audible terms without a layer of music over the top. We are not talking quiet ambient background music either, it is cranked up to 11 throughout, making it impossible to feel the emptiness and silence of space.

Other than that, it's a decent survival movie although anyone with a bit of space-travel knowledge would probably find many faults in its credibility.

The Babadook [Blu-ray]
The Babadook [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Essie Davis
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £6.88

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 5 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Babadook [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Beware this review contains slight spoilers and talks about the ending of the film.

Now let me first say that this film is almost perfect. It restores my faith in the genre which has become too reliant on gross-out shocks in recent years. The Babadook is first and foremost a wonderful idea, but then it also has great acting, a great storyline, a genuinely tense atmosphere and is very well produced. It makes excellent use of psychological horror without resorting to guts and gore. The Babadook has something primal about it, something that taps into human beings' darkest and most basic fears, seated in childhood fears of monsters and ghosts - and also the fears that we carry as adults during the cold light of day. The plot is very well developed and serves as a driver for brilliant character development.

So why only 4 stars? Put simply, it's because of the ending. The story holds very weak conclusion to a very good story, and is deeply unsatisfying as a result. This film overall has a masterful quality to it but the ending is not really an ending at all, and doesn't answer the most basic of questions posed by the story.

If taken metaphorically, The Babadook makes more sense and is indeed wrapped up nicely at the end: It is a metaphor for the darkest agonies of human relationships that have been torn apart by two opposing forces: Birth and Death. The Babadook itself is never confirmed as 'real' during the story beyond the eyes of the two main characters and one could take it that it's a shared 'projection' of the problems faced by a tormented Mother and Son trying to cope with awful life situations.

Having said that, I prefer the literal interpretation, The Babadook as a strange unknowable demonic presence that demands a sequel to explain it properly. But it really would need a sequel because the most basic of questions are left unanswered. What is it? Where did it come from? What does it want?

Like all good films, it leaves you thinking.

Under The Skin [DVD] [2014]
Under The Skin [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Scarlett Johanssen
Price: £4.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and disturbing, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
This is a strange, mesmerising film. Right from the opening credits I was aghast at what I was watching. It has a great feeling of "WTF is that?" (in a good way). Some of the scenes are like a nightmare, others a surreal dream. It sort of makes sense but leaves a lot up to the viewer to impress their own interpretation upon what they're seeing. Under The Skin is described by many as a film about an alien stalking the streets but then again there is nothing that definitively tells us that it's an alien. There is no space ship, no alien planet, no clear indication of extraterrestrial creatures. However there is definitely something otherworldly about it though and a lot of hints are given that let you decide for yourself. Personally I like to consider explanations beyond the simple alien one, such as genetically engineered weapons, or time travellers, or demons.

I was a little frustrated by the ambiguity of the film and the loose ends it left open, however the journey was captivating, like a slow motion nightmare I couldn't wake up from. In particular the motorcyclist(s) were never explained and nor were the motives of Johanssen's character.

The atmosphere of the movie is deep, dark and claustrophobic. The bleakness of it, the coldness of it, isoverwhelming at times. It traps you in a nightmare. It gets under your skin.

The Inbetweeners 2 [Blu-ray] [2014]
The Inbetweeners 2 [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Simon Bird
Price: £7.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rehash of part 1 and not as funny, 26 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £4.15

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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

8 of 12 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: £5.30

9 of 12 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 Designs Meribel Waterproof Base Backpack for 17.3-Inch Laptop
Port Designs Meribel Waterproof Base Backpack for 17.3-Inch Laptop
Price: £55.06

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great bag, but no waterproof cover?, 29 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.

EDIT: I just found it! There is a hidden pocket on the underbelly of the bag, this contains the waterproof cover. All good!

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