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bizmandan (staffordshire, england)

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Die Hard With A Vengeance [DVD]
Die Hard With A Vengeance [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £5.14

5.0 out of 5 stars same calibre as the original, 2 Mar. 2012
Die Hard with a Vengeance brings John McClain back to the big action and equally large laughs that made the original so successful. With the director of the first film returning to the series, this third entry is heavily buttered popcorn entertainment that manages to easily one-up the fun but slightly flawed second film.

There's still the heavy terrorist angle, but what the script does so well is keep the whole set up really fresh, changing everything possible but still keeping that Die Hard magic.

In this iteration we see Bruce Willis, teamed up with a hilarious Samuel L. Jackson for a cat-and-mouse game through the streets of New York City. Though Jeremy Irons is no Alan Rickman, he takes great evil glee from his goofy-accented movie villain and is miles above the antagonists from the previous film. Supporting characters are equally as fresh, with both the cops and the German henchmen getting juicy screen time throughout the piece. With numerous gusto action scenes that, I think only the director, John McTiernan could deliver, Vengeance lives up to the high pedestal of the series and makes for one heck of a fun thrill ride.

The ending is probably the film's biggest downer; it seems, not only unnecessary but also very rushed. I read somewhere that the ending was reshot at the last second for some reason and that the original ending had Irons escaping to Europe where McClain hunts him down with a bazooka. I personally would have cut either of those endings in favour of finishing the film end where it feels like it should naturally end (you would know what I mean if you saw it).

It's strange how hindsight shines upon Die Hard with a Vengeance, especially after 9/11. This is one movie that simply could not be made now. It does, however, feature some incredibly unnerving visuals that are downright haunting considering the events that occurred just six years later.

Where as Die Hard 2 was a good action movie in its own right it didn't have the same pedigree as the first, but I can safely say that Die Hard with a Vengeance brings the franchise right back on track up to its former greatness.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £6.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars better than the last two not as good as the first, 1 Mar. 2012
The first three films in the Pirates franchise were marketed as a trilogy, but of course Disney couldn't just let the now-iconic character of Captain Jack Sparrow die, so here we are four years after At World's End with the fourth instalment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which promises to be the start of a new trilogy, or at least the cash lovers at Disney hopes that's the case. However, this isn't the same old Pirates film with an overly complicated plot and a run time that would put even the most seasoned of moviegoers into a mild case of comatose; with Gore Verbinski out, director Rob Marshall breathes new life into the franchise with a streamlined story that's easier to follow than the hectic delirium of the originals.

Ian McShane fits his pirate boots brilliantly with a mixture of playfulness and dangerous unpredictability as Blackbeard. Visually, one of the best things in the movie is Blackbeard's ship, with its blood-stained sails and fire-breathing cannons, just the thing you need to punctuate the already-treacherous nature of McShane's character.

The cunning and voluptuous female lead, played by Penélope Cruz, is an old flame of Jacks and, apparently his one true love, I know this because the story says that is the case but the chemistry between the two says otherwise. They fight, they flirt, they sort of kiss, but their relationship feels unconvincing, and her character is so ill-defined that there's no romantic tension between the pair.

Really, though, at this point the Pirates franchise is all about Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, the Keith Richards-inspired scallywag who always seems to oscillate between being drunk or hung-over. When the original Pirates appeared eight years ago, Jack wasn't the movie's main character; the films were mostly, and what seems baffling with hindsight, about Orlando Bloom's and Keira Knightley's characters (who thankfully are absent from this latest incarnation) which allows Depp the freedom to strut around mocking the stodgy, un-ironic bigness of the blockbuster in which he has found himself in. But Jack is the main event now, and while Depp manages to get his laughs, his act is starting to grow old. Still, he's like the party guest you can always count on to be the most entertaining, and he delivers.

Fans of the franchise will appreciate cameos by Keith Richards, who returns as Jack's dad. There is also a surprising and completely random cameo by Dame Judi Dench as a noblewoman who appears in an elaborate escape scene in London featuring swordplay, a wagon filled with flaming coal, and Jack swinging from a chandelier. The movie may not have all of the charm and vigour of the original Pirates film, but it's certainly worlds better than the last two instalments thanks to the renewed energy the new director brings to the table.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2012 7:42 PM GMT

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End [Blu-ray]
Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Price: £5.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars very very loooooong, 24 Feb. 2012
The producers of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End clearly wanted to end the threequel with plenty of room left for a fourth instalment so they could flog this horse for all that it is worth. But, with me, the prospect of expanding the franchise well beyond the borders of a trilogy inspires truly irritated groans. That's not to say that this is a bad movie but at this point in the trilogy I am seeing the Pirates Of The Caribbean less as a form of entertainment and more of an endurance test. so with that said, if you couldn't get onboard with the previous films, for gods sake please give this one a miss as I imagine it is enjoyed most by the hardcore fan base of the Pirates franchise.

On the one hand, Pirates 3 has an even longer running time than the second movie which, trust me is a real problem by this point. On the other hand, this film streamlines the story and brings it to fruition, providing a payoff for all that head-scratching setup we had to figure out last time.

It'll be clear to you within the first 20 minutes whether you're too turned off by the narrative style of Pirates 3 to dig it, because if you cant deal with just 20 minutes you will definitely not last another two and a half hours on top of that.

On the good side, At World's End is full of the delightful, adrenaline-fuelled action sequences that an adventure movie requires, but while the second film (despite being a rollicking good time) lost sight of its own pacing because its sword fights, chase scenes, and naval battles were a tad too long, too many, and too near-between for some tastes, this movie nails the momentum a lot better. It spaces its over-the-top excitement sparingly, giving you just a taste here and there of the high-flying action to come, until it finally lets the swords, cannons, and supernaturally conjured sea storms fly in the well-tuned climax.

There's also a fantastic sense of pirate lore in the film. The piratical world is brimming with rules and councils and procedures, with arbitrary authority and magical objects to be exploited, stolen, or misused by the brethren, whose double-crossing nature is the source of most pirate adventures in the first place. The confusing ins and outs of pirate bylaws provide a lot of humour, but those looking for a movie with a robust comedic side will be disappointed.

The script for Pirates 3 isn't constructed around jokes for the most part, though there's still a healthy dose of character-driven humour. Johnny Depp, in particular and as usual, is as hilarious as he was in either of the previous movies, but that doesn't mean that Jack Sparrow's existential crisis is over. That's one great thing about this film: the surprisingly sophisticated character development. Sparrow losing his cool because he no longer knows what he wants (as illustrated by the aimless spinning of his magic "knows-what's-in-your-heart" compass) passes as he realizes that he does know what he wants, he just doesn't know how to get it and still respect himself in the morning. Now, Captain Jack hallucinates a room full of Jacks talking his ear off and offering him an unflinching reflection of himself, which both forces him to think about who he is and provides Depp with the great chance to flex his bulging comic muscles.

Other characters get fleshed out, too, including Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann, who gives up hoop skirts altogether in favor of trousers and an impressive arsenal. And Knightley plays the part with intelligence and dignity; she doesn't shriek her way through it or play her hard-fighting duties like some cute, spunky girl from a romance novel. That's actually another surprisingly exceptional element of Pirates 3: the underlying themes about women are pretty progressive. Intentional or not, it's a relief that despite all the male blustering and masculine badassery, it remains in the movie that women wield the most potent power, and that the men who seek to contain it aren't rewarded.

This iteration of Pirates is even less kid friendly than the last film. Not only is there a ton of complex plot and wordy, old-fashioned dialogue that little ones just won't follow, this movie's violent themes are much more gruesome. The opening sequence, for instance, is meant to illustrate just how evil the bad guy, East India Trading Company boss-man, really is, so it shows a crowd of peasants being led to the gallows, where we see nooses tightened around their necks, and their twitching feet dangling from below the planks following the drop. It's creepy and moving, and it does exactly what it's meant to for adults, but for young kids, it probably just means nightmares. Scenes like this, while not graphic, would be very conceptually disturbing for younger kids, so unfortunately for them, it might be a few years until they can watch what could, for all its faults, quite possibly become an adventure classic that is fondly remembered, just not by me.

Lethal Weapon 3 [DVD] [1992]
Lethal Weapon 3 [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by Griffston-Online
Price: £4.28

4.0 out of 5 stars its good, but its not lethal weapon 2, 22 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Lethal Weapon 3 [DVD] [1992] (DVD)
I like to think of the Lethal Weapon franchise as a some what polarised object. At one end we have the original, touching on some really dark tones like suicide and depression, and on the other end we have the light hearted buddy comedy with a few explosions and kung fu moves thrown in for good measure.

As the Lethal Weapon series becomes an increasingly cartoonish self-parody, the jokes are starting to get a little tired. Lethal Weapon Two had the perfect balance between the great comic moments and the dark tones of the first film, number three of the series is moving more to the silly side of things.

A proven formula is what allows a franchise to grow old and gray, but Lethal Weapon 3 borrows and replicates the memorable moments of its predecessors so shamelessly that it hardly feels like the franchise is evolving into anything. The squabbling buddy cops Riggs and Murtaugh are still arguing over who gets to drive, how to count to three, and whether Riggs should dive headlong into extreme danger, often without a weapon.

The cast seems to be getting noticeably bigger with every iteration of Lethal Weapon, this provides additional banter but the larger the ensemble gets, the more cumbersome the results seem to be.

Even though there is plenty of action within this film it certainly doesn't score as an action movie, apart from the massive explosion at the beginning, there's little to get excited about among the succession of generally unrelated scenes involving fisticuffs, car chases, and gun battles. The wispy plot about a crooked cop-turned-gun-runner exists mostly to lend righteousness to Murtaugh, who guns down a gangster his son's age during a shoot-out with said illegal weapons.

One thing that can not be denied is that Gibson and Glover have unique chemistry that is, often, very fun to watch, and they're blessed with the zippy timing of a good comedic partnership and maybe that's enough to make a good film.

I certainly wouldn't say I hated this film, it was very enjoyable, but after seeing how perfect they managed to get the formula in number 2, Lethal Weapon 3 just seems like less of a film. This is definitely worth a look in if you are a fan of the series, but just don't expect it to have the same impact that Lethal Weapon 2 did.

Lethal Weapon 2 [DVD] [1989]
Lethal Weapon 2 [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by UclickWeDeliver
Price: £2.96

5.0 out of 5 stars the stuff that sequels should be made of, 22 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Lethal Weapon 2 [DVD] [1989] (DVD)
As much as Lethal Weapon may have stepped outside its genre trappings to strike an unexpected chord, its sequel was the film that gave the series the legs it needed to continue onward and upward.

While it still plumbs some dark, painful subject matter for its lead characters, Lethal Weapon 2 skews lighter by treating the Murtaugh-Riggs dynamic as the stuff of fruitful comedy, an approach intensified by the slightly annoying, but still faithfully endearing, Leo Getz character, whom Joe Pesci makes all his own.

But it's the supreme comfort of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, with both each other and the script that rockets this to the top of buddy movies to such an extent that it became ripe for parody.

The director again proves his command of this material with a handful of memorable scenes, and especially his use of Gibson in his trademark "lethal weapon" scenes, which coined the franchise title. Even though Gibson is a lot less depressed in this film you still completely believe him as a guy that has nothing to lose.

Where as the first lethal weapon really successfully put the story of the franchise out there, It was still not quite hitting the mark for me, but here, there is the stuff that sequel dreams are made of.

Nintendo Handheld Console 3DS - Metallic Red
Nintendo Handheld Console 3DS - Metallic Red

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars its not all about the 3d, 14 Feb. 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Well what can I say about my wonderful little 3ds? For a start it's probably the best handheld I have ever come across, it is such fantastic value for money because it is so packed with features. You almost don't need to have any games with it because straight out of the box there is just so much to do.
When I received my 3ds, my wife already had one so I already knew that it was a great console, but when you know someone that has one of these like a friend or a family member these little things really come into their own. It is such a social console, every single day I check mine and work my way through streetpass quest, and to see if I have any messages or to see if any of my friends are playing Mario kart 7 or street fighter, it is a pretty awesome thing.
One thing I will say is that if you are buying this console based solely on its ability to display 3d without glasses just let it be known that this is probably the least important feature on the 3ds, it is gimmicky, and although it is very, very impressive, you will soon get over it.
This is such an amazingly good console and to judge it solely on the 3d is a mistake. In my opinion its all about the streetpass!
An absolute essential for any lover of video games.

I Love You Phillip Morris [Blu-ray]
I Love You Phillip Morris [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jim Carrey
Price: £5.75

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a completely unbelievable true story, 9 Feb. 2012
I Love You Phillip Morris opens with the cheeky preface "This Really Happened" rather than the normal "Based on a True Story" or the standard "Inspired by Actual Events" a creative decision that playfully prepares audiences for the sheer lunacy they're about to witness.

In exploiting the more preposterous aspects of Steve Russell's (Jim Carey) incredible career as a con man, I Love You Phillip Morris the director and screenwriters have created the perfect cinematic vehicle to showcase the diverse talents of comedy icon Carrey, whose flair for drama has been gradually catching up with his killer comic timing ever since he stunned audiences into silence in The Cable Guy back in 1996. Carrey's portrayal of Russell sits so comfortably alongside his previous roles in films like Me, Myself & Irene, Liar Liar, and Yes Man that if it weren't for the fact that the film told you it was a true story at the beginning, the story could easily be believed as a farce.

The film makers seem more interested in milking the story for comedy rather than attempting anything serious or thoughtful with the material, but when dealing with a subject like Russell, absurdity and comedy just seems to be the right way to go. Still, Carrey handles the dramatic beats in I Love You Phillip Morris with enough conviction to hold his own opposite McGregor, who is captivating in his role as the timid inmate who quickly falls for Russell's disarming charisma.

Much like Steve Russell at that crucial crossroads that nudged him into a life of crime, I Love You Phillip Morris never feels like it really knows what it wants to be. But this lack of direction doesn't ruin the film at all because it's Russell's talent for BS and Carrey's ability to play the character so naturally and believably that ensure that our attention stays riveted to the story, even after it becomes apparent that the filmmakers aren't interested in much more than playing Russell's extraordinary life story for laughs. Very enjoyable indeed.

Hustle & Flow [Blu-ray] [2005]
Hustle & Flow [Blu-ray] [2005]
Dvd ~ Terrence Howard
Offered by ZavviOutlet
Price: £9.10

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars as long as you have subtitles this is pretty good, 7 Feb. 2012
First things first, if you are not from the deep south of America I would advise watching this film with the subtitles on as, although everybody is speaking English, the accents are extremely thick, but that is a tiny flaw in a film that is altogether pretty good.

Even more than its thematic cousin, 8 Mile, Hustle & Flow harnesses the grungy essence of grass-roots hip-hop, the kind produced in basements and garages, and filters it through a truly intense performance.

From his 1970s title card onward the director has produced a blisteringly hip film, one that's as capable with iconic images as it is with penetrating a deeply complex antihero.

The central figure is Djay, played by Terrence Howard, who is a revelation of simmering menace, whose desire to escape his daily pimp-and-ho grind is a physical force. As coldly efficient as his methods are, this is clearly a man with a conscience, a stern yet secretly caring father figure to the stable of prostitutes who live with him in his home. The poetics of his street philosophies naturally evolve into the necessary rhythms and life experiences for rap. As he gathers a motley group of collaborators, the music takes shape with a booming and vibrating gristle that is absolutely invigorating. Inspired by the overnight fame of another local street figure, Djay channels his gifts of persuasion into everything from acquiring sound equipment to quieting the neighbours during recording.

The supporting performances add whatever the director and lead cannot. The most well known face in this film, for me, was DJ Qualls, and he truly excels as a talented white mixing geek whose `street' attitude actually ends up seeming cool, something that really is different for a guy that is usually cast as the person who is anything but cool. Anthony Anderson clearly relishes a well-deserved respite from contemporary comedies, yet still joins with Qualls to contribute the film's significant doses of humour. Even rapper Ludacris is good! But the stars of this film, sharing the soul with Howard are the women; they really made the film for me, finding their fragile relevance throughout.

This is one of those rare MTV Films releases that actually use songs as enthralling and indispensable ingredients, and when I say enthralling I mean, this was some truly great hip hop. Because of the music, Hustle & Flow is a shot of cinematic adrenaline.

Although, for some reason, I didn't enjoy this film as much as 8mile, probably due to the fact that I am neither a pimp nor a drug dealer so I failed to relate. I must acknowledge that this is a very well put together musical drama that has a great cast, great performances and most of all outstanding music.

Taken [Blu-ray]
Taken [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £4.40

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars liam neeson is an amazing badass, 3 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Taken [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Liam Neeson lets loose a mean dose of delicious thuggery in Taken, a taut thriller that puts the viewer in the passenger seat right next to a hell-bent father seeking his stolen daughter and the blood of those behind her abduction.

This tense action film doesn't spend much time setting things up, nor does it decelerate once the flick picks up steam. Not one to overstay its welcome, this suspenseful tale is an economic exercise in delivering the goods for those who are interested in a vehicle to soak up, bask in, and then leave behind as soon as it's over.

Audiences get a clear idea of what sort of pain is in store for the bad guys early on, which sets up the kind of swift brutality this character is capable of. Neeson delivers the action with a satisfyingly steady hand. In the acting department, Liam Neesonis a single-minded, stone-faced wonder, ready to pummel whoever needs to be knocked down in order to get to his daughter. As the daughter, Maggie Grace fulfils the dual nature of her character's arc, delivering both doe-eyed innocence and wide-eyed hysteria with competence. But I don't get why she has to run everywhere? Seriously when you watch this film try and pick out a scene where she gets from A to B without running, I bet you can't.

Taken might still be on the fluffy side (the father daughter relationship sometimes seems a bit OTT), but it is of a higher pedigree than what action buffs have come to expect in recent years.

While film buffs certainly wouldn't flock to this flick, I think action fan boys should. But that being said I think that the inclusion of Neeson will hopefully tip some audiences off to the fact that there's something a little more to this intimate package than just your normal whiz-bang-pow big-budgeted romp.

Needless to say, if you happen to be snatched up against your will, you could do a lot worse than have a Liam Neeson type waiting in the wings to brutalize his way to your rescue.

Die Hard 2 - Die Harder [Blu-ray]
Die Hard 2 - Die Harder [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a solid sequel, 3 Feb. 2012
It's difficult to take any movie subtitled Die Harder seriously and that really is a good thing. Luckily, this sequel to 1988's Die Hard seems slyly aware of its own preposterousness and plays like one great, big, tongue-in-cheek cheese fest.
Much like a James Bond film, Die Hard 2 is full of ridiculous, logic bending, kingdom-of-the-crystal-skull-like superhuman stunts, but its bravado forces you to say, "Who cares about all that!?" It's so far outside of the realm of reality that it defies you to make a critical remark.
Die Hard 2 doesn't fall into the trap of making itself too similar to the first like many sequels of this type can. Even though every nod possible is made to the previous film, with many of the previous characters making a return, Die Harder still seems like a film that can stand on its own. These days, in an age where Hollywood seems to be re-making and re-booting everything in sight, this film stands out as a real gem from the golden age of action.
Of course, the perfect ringleader for all the jolly destruction is Bruce Willis, the man who has built a career largely on his ability to look good while suffering great physical hardships. He's the perfect "Iron Everyman" for the rough and tumble Die Hard series. If they ever try and make a Die Hard film without him I doubt it ever be nearly as successful, Bruce Willis is Die hard.
An absolute must see for any action fans, even though the (nearly) realism and the outstanding villain that were present in the first film are not present here, it is a fresh non stop film that, in a lot of ways, improves on it's predecessor, and isn't that what sequels are meant to do?

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