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G. Francis "darth_jurious" (Lincoln, UK)
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Melee (PS2)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Melee (PS2)

3.0 out of 5 stars Down the Drain, 11 Feb 2008
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
I bought "Mutant Melee" because I wanted a cheap Ninja Turtles game to give me some nostalgic thrills, and, to a certain point, you get this in this game. Based on the recent (2003 onwards) cartoon series, Melee sees you play as one of the many Turtles characters through a series of challenges, or, if you choose to go for the multiplayer melee mode, you can play mini-games or just kick the shell out of each other.

In terms of graphics, this game is pretty good by PS2 standards. I actually think the characters look great in their cell-shaded 3D forms, and the backgrounds aren't bad either, even if the camera angle is static, and sometimes pulls out too far to allow you to see what you're doing.

This game is unfortunately let down by repetitive missions and tricky game play. The missions range from being ridiculously easy to frustratingly hard - and it's not so much about skill as rapid button-mashing and good luck. (And stress levels run high when you simply can't get a move in edge ways!)

The game makes up for some of its trickiness by allowing you to play a good variety of characters in the melee battles, and a fair few are unlockable in the single player adventure mode, too (all complete with original voiceovers). Plus, since we live in an age where we expect additional extras, there is plenty of unlockable content, which includes comic book pages, character biographies, silly but fun animated out-takes, and Turtles toy photos.

I think if you're a hard-core Turtle-head you'll find something to enjoy in this game - even if it's simply the buzz of playing as your favourite character in locations that are familiar to you - but the game is unnecessarily tricky, disappointingly unoriginal, and I doubt that it'll have any replay value.


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2007]
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 3.37

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Never Say We Die", 1 Jan 2008
"Pirates 3" seems to be one of those films which has received a whole spectrum's worth of reviews, from the very bad to the very good. It's perhaps a matter of personal taste as to whether you find the third chapter exasperating and over-long or exhilarating and a fine end to the saga. I for one found it to be better-paced and far more enjoyable than the second sequel, but my opinion is simply one of many variations. It's certainly my favourite of the three films, though it is just as flawed, if not more so, than its predecessors.

One cannot deny that it boasts some wonderful performances, particularly from old-hand Geoffrey Rush, back as Barbossa, and Bill Nighy, who shines out from behind the CGI mask of Davy Jones. And though we're perhaps getting a little fed up with the antics of Jack Sparrow now, Johnny Depp still manages to play the character as humorously as ever, giving us a few surprises, and making Sparrow's descendence into utter insanity - which could easily have failed - thoroughly plausible.

The film is given a remarkable boost by Hans Zimmer's score, which builds on the music of the other films at the same time as introducing some fabulous new melodies. The movie gives the audience several remarkable set pieces as well - none more breath-taking than the maelstrom battle, which is every bit as spectacular as any other blockbuster action movie sequence to date. So where does the film fail...?

It is perhaps over-complicated in plot, with not enough being set up by the second movie, and too much being referred to as off-screen events, meaning if you don't pay attention to what's going on, you miss out. Prime examples are Barbossa's summoning of the Brethren court, and the link between the coins and "the song being sung". The death of the Kracken is also explained away in a single sentence, which is a bit of a downer considering the creature's role in the last film.

The movie is also far too long for younger viewers (and perhaps for some of the more fidgety older viewers as well), though it is better paced and moves faster than the stop-start "Dead Man's Chest". And though I love the darkness and the angst that this film delivers as the story unfolds, it might be a tad too much for children to cope with or to comprehend, so it perhaps is not as child friendly as the other films, though all of them are borderline for very young or sensitive children.

Despite these criticisms, it's a film I enjoy to watch time and again, and if you concentrate hard enough, the plot connects - just not as easily as it should. Still, even if one doesn't follow the plot - or simply can't follow it - it remains great entertainment, with mind-blowing special effects, some very amusing scenes, and with all actors playing their parts well. It caps off the trilogy perfectly, and ends the series the same way as it started for the two principle pirates of the saga - Sparrow and Barbossa - which is a kind of poetic justice.

The only qualms I have of the DVD version is that there are no audio commentaries, which would have enhanced the experience of re-watching the film a lot for us hard-core fans. The extras are also conncentrated far too much on Johnny Depp and Chow Yun-Fat. Even the easter eggs are hardly worth finding. No doubt more material will be made available on future editions of the film, but it would have been nice to have them now. The animated menus are nicely done, though, and the first disc includes a fabulous blooper reel for some extra laughs if you're in need of some. A great package for the price.


Elizabeth - The Golden Age OST
Elizabeth - The Golden Age OST
Offered by RAREWAVES
Price: 12.79

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evoking a Golden Age, 14 Nov 2007
The first thing one notices about the score to the second of Shekhar Kapur's "Elizabeth" films is that it is infintely different to Hirschfelder's from the original. And yet one must expect this for, in turn, the film is very different to the first. The conspiracies and keeping-to-the-shadows of the original, beautifully evoked by Hirschfelder's mysterious and haunting score, have been flung out for conspiracy on a larger scale and a score which, like the film, focuses on the trials and tribulations of a single woman rather than plots and treachery of a court.

Taking cues from some of his earlier work - notably "Plunkett and Macleane" - Armstrong's score to "The Golden Age" is certainly not bursting with originality, nor does it particularly put one in mind of the Tudor era, yet it manages to convey all the same the splendour and power, as well as the bitterness and sacrifice, of the film and the woman at its centre. Ar Rahman also contributed to the score and gave it a surprising splash of Eastern influence which at first sounded out of place to me, but actually works beautifully in context of the unique, almost mythic vision of the film.

If you're a fan of the choir-filled movie scores of the past decade, then you'll probably enjoy this as much as I did, but if you're after something a bit more unconventional, you'd be better served by other soundtracks.


X-Men
X-Men
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.72

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Mediocre Novelisation, 9 Oct 2006
This review is from: X-Men (Mass Market Paperback)
I've never been a fan of the "X-Men" until the movies caught my attention, and I decided to give this novelisation a shot to see if it could build upon the experience of the first of the "X-Men" movies. Unfortunately, it didn't really add anything to the film and is an unnecessary accompaniment.

The novel seems to be very basic in construction and lacks depth of detail, especially when it comes to characterisation - if one hadn't seen the film beforehand or was not familiar with the "X-Men", I believe one would be quite confused as to what was going on and who everyone really was. The chapters are quite short and I rarely felt a burst of excitement during my read. Those who know the movie-plot well will also find a fair few differences in the novel to the film, which tells one that the novel was perhaps being written alongside the screenplay but, where the film was altered or edited in production, the novel was not. I also had big problems with the characterisation of Magneto, who is my favourite character in the films. Towards the end of the novel in particular, he seems to be made out to be a typical cold and slightly insane villain, which doesn't match up with the tragic hero that actor Ian McKellen has made the man into at all.

Overall, the book's a fairly decent read, but it's really not a necessary one, and it does the film no justice. If you love the film, then I recommend you leave it at that - the book adds nothing to the experience.


Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 1 Box Set [2005] [DVD]
Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 1 Box Set [2005] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Billie Piper
Price: 14.40

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, some decent British Television! And sci-fi at that!, 22 April 2006
I was born in 1984 so I'm of that generation who really missed-out on "Doctor Who". I had no Doctor to call my own when I grew up, and little knowledge of the series outside of the cult symbols of the Daleks and the TARDIS. (When I was still at senior school we had a Christmas quiz one time and one of the questions was to name any of the actors who had played the Doctor - no one could answer, which proves the point.) But then the new series came along, and I, like many other people, became a convert. I'm a big "Star Wars" fan and I love the "Harry Potter" books as much as the next person, but forget "Revenge of the Sith" and "Half-Blood Prince" - "Doctor Who" was *the* event of 2005, without a doubt.

So, what made it work? Well, it's simple really: well-written stories, excellent casting with some superb actors, special effects better than what's usually seen in any British TV series, and a show that was as much about the characters as it was about the monsters and the spaceships. Though its eccentricity when compared to the likes of "Star Wars" and other sci-fis threw me off to begin with, I soon settled in to the show's wit and charm, and I love its ability to never take itself too seriously, which is the downfall of a lot of modern fantasy stuff. Also, the fact that it was thoroughly entertaining and accessible for both children and adults was a real bonus, especially since so many things - even "Harry Potter" - seem to be getting to that level at the moment where they're too dark for younger audiences to enjoy. How wonderful it is to safely be able to sit back with either young kids or your grandparents and still feel comfortable about watching something together!

The show's power for me lays in its characters, though, and every week, though I loved the monsters and the fantastical adventures, I wanted just as much to see what the next development might be in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose, or to see how Mickey and Jackie were getting along without them, if we had an adventure that took us back to present-day Earth. It just made it all feel so much more realistic, though it's ironically choc-full of the impossible!

Billie Piper is an absolute revelation as Rose - I had my doubts at first, but from the moment you set eyes on her in part 1, you know she's a gifted actress. Put her together with Christopher Eccleston, one of the most talented and gritty actors in Britain today, and you've got an absolutely electric combination. Talent ahoy! They're both extremely capable of bringing every aspect of the scripts - from the dry humour to heart-wrenching emotion - to life, and are the driving force behind what proves to be a very energetic, intelligent and moving drama series. Though some episodes prove to be superior to others, there's never a terrible one, and this box set is well worth the investment if you have the cash. The extra featurettes give the enthusiastic Whovian something to get their teeth into, and I guarentee you will never find some more hilarious audio commentaries than you do along to some of these episodes, which, as well as revealing the actor's thoughts, also reveal some incredibly funny asides and memoirs of the on-set hiccups.

Though there are some fans of the classic "Doctor Who" who dismiss the new series (like any fan who treasures the originals, I guess), no one can deny that the new "Who" was a huge hit and that it's an incredibly well-made drama/sci-fi series. Now showing in its second season on BBC in the UK, the first shall always be remembered as the one that set the benchmark for the rest to follow, with a Doctor of the likes that we've never seen before (I personally don't think we'll ever see another Doctor as great as Chris Eccleston, but we all have our favourites, don't we?).

So, just sit back with the whole family, relax, jump behind the sofa if you have to, and enjoy what is the best of British family drama. Thank you Russell T Davies - we owe you one.


The War Of The Roses [VHS]
The War Of The Roses [VHS]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simple & Tedious Retelling, 3 Mar 2004
I bought this video because I have become increasingly interested as of late with the Wars of the Roses and the ensuing ealry Tudor period, but it provided me with little entertainment or enlightenment. Though I still count myself as knowing relatively little about the wars, this video tended to just re-tell me about the little I already knew, or just bored me with its tedious method of telling the story. Brian Blesséd's narration is fine, and he adds all he can to the documentary, but the accompanying footage, which comprised of rather unconvincing re-enactments and so-called 'high-tech computer graphics', was most feeble.
As an introduction to the wars for children in primary or early seconday school, this tape may prove convenient, otherwise I'd steer clear and recommend heartily that you turn to books for your inspiration and education.


Scars Of Dracula [VHS] [1970]
Scars Of Dracula [VHS] [1970]
VHS
Offered by unclejohnsband
Price: 6.95

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit long in the fang..., 18 July 2002
Well, after several previous outings as the Count, Lee again resumes his role in this installment, 'The Scars of Dracula', the last of the 'Gothic' Dracula films in which he would star, if I'm correct.
Though a fairly lenient fan of the Dracula genre, I did find unforgivable problems with this picture - for one, I could never take the giant rubber bat seriously; secondly, the plot seemed almost spoof-like, and again lowered the tone, and thirdly, there were some appalling characters which didn't make the picture feel like a traditional Hammer horror at all - namely the stupid pair of Policemen.
On the up side, there's, of course, the fantastic Christopher Lee, who gets plenty of screen time, and plenty more lines than usual. His presence is stunning, although I found Dracula's death scene a little over-rated. Most of the actors are fairly good, and most of the settings are decent enough.
If you want a good Hammer horror with the legendary Mr.Lee as Dracula, I recommend any of this film's predacessors, and even Dracula AD 1972 - unfortunately, this one is one of my least favourites of the Dracula franchise starring Mr.Lee. Just one too many flaws for my liking.
But, either way, you can't go wrong with Christopher Lee!


Dracula [VHS]
Dracula [VHS]
VHS

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horror Landmark, 14 July 2002
This review is from: Dracula [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Though I am considerably new to Horror films, and in particular, Hammer ones, I already have a great fondness for them. This one has got to be one of the best. Well acted in glorious gothic settings and Victorian-like streets, this film is a masterpiece and worth every penny. Christopher Lee is the definitive Dracula - a seemingly charming and gracious man who turns out to be the most frightening of villains, and Peter Cushing is marvellous as Van Helsing.
It may not be totally loyal to the book, but films do not translate easily from novels, and I think this version was translated extremely well. The film isn't as scary as it was once considered, but that is a small downward factor. If you want to watch a good version of Dracula, I think you'd be hard pressed to beat this.


Dungeons And Dragons [DVD] [2001]
Dungeons And Dragons [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Justin Whalin
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.73

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many Dungeons, not enough Dragons..., 7 July 2002
I've been a Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan all my life, and am an avid fan of the Star Wars saga, Lord of the Rings and stuff of the likes. This film looked promising, with Jeremy Irons among those cast, and the single biggest lure for me was the fact it promised Dragons.
But I was wholly disappointed by this product...
The film is terrible. It has decent special effects, but nothing not seen before, and wouldn't do but to entertain a child audience - unfortunately, it's rated 12, so that option's a no-go.
The story is messy and weak, and all the characters are irritating, except possibly for Iron's villainous 'Profion'(sp?). There were hardly any dragons in the film until near the end, and the whole affair was so corny and poor that I felt utterly stupid for buying this DVD - the decent artwork on the DVD cover betrays the film, and makes it look alot better than it is.
The only consolation is that the extras are okay on the disc - but what's the point of extras if the film is bad?
If you're looking for something like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, then there's no substitute for the real thing. This is as corny, poor and cheesy as they come, and I advise you to steer clear and to keep to the films that are truly worthy of the sc-fi/fantasy genre. Bring on 'The Two Towers' and 'The Chamber of Secrets'...


Dracula Has Risen From The Grave [VHS] [1968]
Dracula Has Risen From The Grave [VHS] [1968]
VHS
Offered by shannon-raven
Price: 12.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dracula is back!, 7 July 2002
I loved this film! The atmosphere was great, and all the actors were very good. Mr.Lee's Dracula was, again, exceptional - and devastatingly attractive ^_^.
Some of the camera colour filters were a lil irritating, but nothing to detract from the pure entertainment of the film!
If you like classic horror films, with the pretty, innocent girls, very British actors and all the expected gore, then you'll love this!


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