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O. Southwood "owensouthwood" (UK)

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The Babadook [Blu-ray]
The Babadook [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Essie Davis
Price: £8.00

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: £8.00

2 of 3 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 Shop4World
Price: £4.79

0 of 1 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: £6.40

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 Designs Meribel Waterproof Base Backpack for 17.3-Inch Laptop
Port Designs Meribel Waterproof Base Backpack for 17.3-Inch Laptop
Offered by eHome
Price: £29.98

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.

Insidious Chapter 2 [Blu-ray]
Insidious Chapter 2 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Patrick Wilson
Price: £6.00

4 of 5 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
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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 101Trading
Price: £11.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good science fiction conspiracy thriller, 27 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.

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