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Riot [1996] [DVD]
Riot [1996] [DVD]
Price: £1.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Omit The `i' From The Title, 14 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Riot [1996] [DVD] (DVD)
Right. Spoiler alert. Two cinematic nobodies play a couple of army special-ops who find themselves in Washington during a "race riot" apparently provoked by heavy-handed policing. One's a Yank, the other's a Brit. But they're best buddies, all the same. During the riot, the British Ambassador's daughter is kidnapped. Their job is to pay a ransom and get her back. A sturdy, if old-hat yarn. Apparently this pouting airhead is our hero's former squeeze...

The movie begins with a needlessly long episode showing what a thoroughly decent bloke Gary Daniel's character is, involving the rescue of two such hideously cute American brats from a smoke-filled apartments (illegally left home alone) that juvenile incineration would be a public service. Then an equally unnecessary stint in his home-gym advertising what a steroid-queen he is. Muscles? - I should coco...

After this he goes boozing with his buddy and they get into a fight with a baseball team in a bar. The fight is way over-long, and actually runs for two rounds. We learn that both heroes are tireless expert fighters. This sets up the rest of the movie: cardboard cut-out characters, cig-packet script, a seemingly endless round of set-piece drama school choreographed conflicts. Apparently it's being masterminded by the IRA. Pity they're not directing it.

There were all the ingredients here for a decent A/B-movie action thriller, along the lines of "Escape From New York". But I guess Snake Plisken was busy. This work is a woeful waste of opportunity, lacking tension, human interest or plot ingenuity. There's a reason why films come two on one CD as this one did - each is only half a movie. The flipside was called "Justice" and starred the better known James Belushi, but I couldn't get it to load so he gets off the hook. Frankly, I don't blame him not wanting to be scene in tandem with this tripe.

Save your pennies; each is a non-starter. Viewer-Rated 18, in colour, and about 90mins runtime if you can stay awake.

Microwave Egg Poacher & Omelette Maker
Microwave Egg Poacher & Omelette Maker
Offered by andys emporiumcouk
Price: £6.93

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Egging Us On, 10 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Here's a couple of dandy little devices to add to the rapid-nosh armoury. The poacher can be a bit awkward at first until you use some common sense. You need to have both halves completely wide open so that each handle is touching the worktop before you put the eggs in place. Whilst empty, it sits happily on one handle with the upper lid in the vertical position, but if you put the eggs in then, it will tip up and create a mess. That sorted; you're off. Problems arise from the sheer speed with which the eggs are poached. If the microwave is high-powered it'll do `em in no time at all, and they may come out more like hard-boiled breast-implants. Also, the poaching may not be consistent, with the eggs hard in parts and runny in others. This is so critical that even the size of the egg affects results, with larger taking evidently longer than smaller. I'm not kidding - 15 seconds can make a big difference, with 90seconds typical, so you might want to experiments with a lower setting and slightly longer time. That should give a more consistent poaching as well. I've never had quite as good a result with it as with a conventional egg-poacher, but the time saved in preparation and cleaning afterwards has more than offset the slight inconsistency. Although the instructions claim otherwise, I've found it wise to grease the cups slightly. I prick the egg yokes as advised. But I don't add a teaspoon of water as they recommend and don't see the point. That's about it - poach-a-go-go.

The omelette-maker is different in having proper hinges instead of bendy plastic, so its lobes lie flat more readily on the worktop. You partly microwave it open before flipping it shut and finishing it off, so a low heat setting is advisable to avoid splatters. You mix your omelette of choice in the usual way. I use 2eggs. Both items lock shut by means of each lobe handle slipping its edge under the other. This prevents any uneggspected eggsplosions giving the inside of your microwave a Tyrolean rendering. They're both prone to staining a bit, but it doesn't affect use. I haven't detected any plastic taint to the grub.

My microwave is a 25year old banger with two heat settings. Dunno what they are but I think it's 700watt max. If you have a more modern rig with multiple heat settings, you might try 200watts for around 3 mins. That should be pukka.

There you go - make them chickens work for their free range.

The Last King of Scotland [DVD] [2006]
The Last King of Scotland [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Forest Whitaker
Price: £1.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Smile at a Crocodile, 20 Sept. 2015
Uganda: Africa; a dictator. It could be one of so many past & present. Idi Amin is a rising military star (British trained). Young, freshly-qualified Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) is in `Carry On Up The Jungle' mode with his louch, cocky fast-living hard-drinking libidinous attitude to life. He means to sensuously sample the world and for a first destination, lights upon - Uganda. He arrives just as Amin has staged a coup. By a strange turn of coincidences, he has a terrifying personal encounter with the dictator-to-be. But the great leader is in triumphal humour and their departure ends in hugs, huge laughter and an exchange of shirts rather than a hail of Kalashnikov bullets. It seems that Amin is a fan of Scotland.

(Spoiler Alert) Rapidly, the young doctor is dragooned into Amin's innermost circle of confidantes. Amin sharply senses that as his personal physician, Garrigan will have the most intimate access to him, and being a white foreigner must represent the safest pair of hands for the job. He has no tribal loyalties, and couldn't possibly usurp him as nobody in black Africa would tolerate his presumed white leadership for a second. With unlimited access to the nation's wealth, Amin can afford to be generous. Garrigan is seduced.

Forest Whitaker offers a terrifyingly realistic presentation of an African tyrant. It could be any of the many. Proud, vain, intolerant, mercurial, determined to appear strong by the inevitable means of brutality and cruelty. Attempts upon his life drive this cocktail of attributes rapidly down the road of paranoia. Endowed with all the knowledge of western politics and military theory, he is nevertheless barely a step from his tribal roots: a poor, oppressed nobody, suddenly endowed with God-like power and authority. Once again, the popular revolutionary becomes the next ruthless butcher. Garrigan's position inevitably becomes untenable, and after falling foul of his patron; he is marked for a very sticky end...

McAvoy's role was doomed to pale into shadow compared with such a larger-than-life protagonist. He's a young man from a privileged background without the least experience of such violence & slaughter. At times, he seems to be clinging to the part by his fingernails, even as one might suppose Garrigan himself might've clung to reality. At times I find his shallowness irritating, yet still quite believable. But Whitaker's the man to watch - and watch him you do; every little frown, doubtful stare and blast of anger. Dictator's are not safe enough to be friends with; just the wrong smile might get you shot.

Most of the technical elements are well up to snuff, though at times I thought the editing a bit clumsy. We don't see too much of the big picture and the scale of slaughter. Instead, it's an often intensely personal and claustrophobic experience. It is listed as 115 mins runtime, `15' viewer rating and in colour. Well worth a watch. There can be few things more terrifying than the close proximity of a tyrant who doesn't like you...

Fireproof (2009) [DVD]
Fireproof (2009) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kirk Cameron
Offered by Re-vived
Price: £12.99

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Emergency Service From The Pulpit, 13 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Fireproof (2009) [DVD] (DVD)
This work was showing yesterday evening at my local (ex) flea-pit which is now a mixed venue, though predominantly catering for evangelical meetings of the more hysterical kind. I was 15 mins late and admission was free - which roused my suspicions a little - but I thought `ahh, what the hell...?'

What indeed? The artwork depicts a firefighter confronting an inferno, suggestive of something similar to "Backdraught". However; any similarity ends right there. A few minutes of fairly tense drama in which a car with a live occupant is rescued from an oncoming train, rapidly derails into story-telling disaster. Don't be fooled; this is not a movie in the conventional sense. Instead, it's a piece of very unsubtle religious advocacy - a clumsy piece of gospel propaganda in masquerade. Basically, our hero's marriage is on the rocks. And he's agnostic. One of his chums, on the other hand, has found religion...Not only that, his own father has fallen prey to the same delusion and can't seem to open his gob without spraying gospel in everyone's faces. Afterwards, emergencies appear to miraculously subside, as the remainder of the borathon centres upon our hero's attempts to preserve his marriage, allied with his almost spontaneous acceptance of the great sky fairy. It's childishly simplistic, clichéd, implausible, hammily acted, choppily edited and with a script that should serve as a self-critique of tedium for advocates of deistic fantasy. The term `Fireproof' actually refers to the bond of marriage or religious belief or some such tommyrot, and the firecrew simply serve as a parable to endorse its application.

I fought the good fight for almost 40 mins before my fascination faucet ran dry. Dunno how it ended; it was just smouldering like a dung-hill by the time I left the other half-dozen or so die-hards to fend for themselves. My guess is he saved his marriage, stopped swearing and began saying his prayers regularly. I think I'd sooner burn.

If this dreck had legs it would come knocking on your door when you're far too busy and try to convert you.

Not to be confused with movies. AVOID.

Noah [DVD]
Noah [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Crowe
Price: £2.99

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Noah Thanks, 22 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Noah [DVD] (DVD)
There can be few movies in which more commentators regard it as 1-star than 5-star, but here at least is one of them.

As a school kid I got the various Biblical myths and legends crammed at me just as most nominally Christian kids of my and earlier generations did. The great flood, the parting of the seas, Sodom & Tomorra, the three unpronounceable twits who got cast into a fiery furnace but didn't burn, etc. It was "The Bible"; you never questioned it (not unless you wanted slapping, anyway...) Classic productions like "King of Kings" and "The Ten Commandments" helped to reaffirm the miraculous wonder and present the relative stories in an epic but still digestible manner. Who can forget Charlton Heston as Moses?

(Spoiler alert)...Well, here Russell Crowe plays Noah, and never did Mr Grunt get so many opportunities to grunt since "Gladiator". Ray Winstone plays his Cockney nemesis, `Wotcher, Noah; 'ow's the missus and the dus'bin lids...?` Anthony Hopkins turns up as Noah's dad, lurking in a cave. After that, there's the new faces. The Holy Land looks distinctly Tolkienian, where we find Noah and his kids grubbing about in a largely barren rocky earth reminiscent of so many Hobbits. It's gloomy and overcast, like a bad day on Brecon Beacons. Apparently there's been a lot of family issues in the past and they're still rumbling on. Noah has a dream in which God apparently speaks to him. Frankly, it's as clear as mud. There's lot's of frightening imagery. I'm sure we've all had dreams like that, but we don't go attributing them to some deity; mostly it's down to a shellfish supper and too much strong wine. Anyway, he co-opts the help of some extras from "Never-ending Story" in the form of rock giants, to chop down a miraculous forest and things are up and running in no time. The animals arrive in pairs without preamble and inter-species squabbles are averted by the expedient of anaesthetising them all. I don't recollect any of these details from The Bible. Ray Winstone's bad guys turn-up to put the kybosh on things, but the most woefully unimaginative CGI flood sorts them out.

Sets are dismal and bland. Script is unmemorable - and largely unintelligible; the story, for what it is, appears confused, to say the least. Editing is amateurish and heavy-handed, plot details are obscure and contrived. Characters are just two-dimensional caricatures; I wasn't moved to give a hoot about any of them and got so bored that I kept nudging things forward with the remote. My overarching thought was that if God can create a miraculous forest and send a host of miraculous rocky giants to do the labouring, and then miraculously call all the animals Himself - why didn't he just provide the Ark ready built with all the animals in it for Noah to just take command; why all this other palaver? Why even bother with Noah at all? Case of the old `mysterious ways...?' Gercha!

I cannot recollect the last time I saw a movie this writhingly wretched. I'm going to feel guilty even sneaking it over to the charity shop. Don't waste your time or money; one star is too many for such dreck. Those giving it 5 must be terminally dead-in-the-head Gospel freaks.

Lincoln [DVD]
Lincoln [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Day-Lewis
Price: £2.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Idealistic View of American History, 2 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
When I saw that Spielberg had directed this movie I knew I'd made a mistake. The guy is both an idealist and a fantasist, and his attempts at "historical" and "serious" movies tend to vacillate between mawkish sentimentality and gung-ho juvenility. He really should stick to what he's good at - kid's stuff.

This work opens with a suitably bloody battle engaging both black & white protagonists, just to drive home the message that this isn't about Union and Confederacy, but race. Conflict isn't on a particularly large scale and lasted only a minute or two. The beach landings of "Saving Private Ryan" it sure isn't, though I got the message. And that was pretty much the military conflict encapsulated. From then on; its jaw-jaw rather than war-war. We are treated to a kind of fly-on-the-wall view of Lincoln during a narrow slice of this period of American history, entailing the machinations between passing equal rights legislation and ending the civil war. Various noteworthies pop up and do their stuff in the general scheme of things.

Frankly; I found it tedious, often fractured, needlessly verbose and melodramatic - though it may well be an accurate portrayal of circumstances at the time. Spielberg's enthusiasm for set authenticity meant that lighting is pretty much of the period, this in turn lends the production a very gloomy aspect indeed which reinforces Lincoln's apparently sombre personality and the seemingly heavy-handed approach to the story. I learnt very little about the man and his motives. Editing also seems rather choppy. However; sets and costumes were up to snuff. Daniel Day Lewis got an Oscar for his role as Lincoln; he certainly looks the part, but as to the rest I couldn't say. Eventually, he gets assassinated, but we don't see that happen - which seems a bit odd considering that the movie is about him.

As a military biopic "Patton" or "Waterloo" would knock this into a cocked hat. And I can think of any number of `talkies' to thrash this work, "Seven Days in May" or "Twelve Angry Men" to name just two.

It's in colour (though mostly it's hard to tell) has a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, and a 12 viewer rating, and trudges on for a quite needless 144minutes. I lot of work & effort went into this by all concerned so I've given it 3-stars, but I wouldn't recommend it. Just 3 quid from Tesco's, charity shop next day.

Jack Reacher [DVD]
Jack Reacher [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tom is Jack This Time., 26 July 2015
This review is from: Jack Reacher [DVD] (DVD)
The last time I saw a Cruise movie, it was "Oblivion" in which he played Jack Harper. Jack's and John's seem to be Hollywood's eponymous names for tough action heroes (He's a John in "Minority Report). Here Mr Harper is Mr Reacher; an obscure, mysterious and seemingly untraceable individual who's part Avenger, part Equaliser and part gumshoe.

(Spoiler Alert) a sniper who has supposedly killed 5 innocents in a psychotic rampage is caught and asks specifically for our man Jack. And sure enough; he pops up like - well - a Jack in the Box...The sniper's defence lawyer asks him to investigate what on the surface resembles an open-and-shut case. However; the mystery deepens and becomes far more sinister. Indestructible Tom - I mean Jack - hands out slaps galore, engages in a frenetic and implausible car chase, and a culminating shoot-out. It's all very slick and fun - but begins to look like an advertisement for Mr Cruise's magnificent ego (and physique). The character can drive like a formula-3 petrolhead, yet he doesn't himself own a car; He can fight like Bruce Lee, but you never see him working out...And he can shoot better than the accused sniper - and indeed any of the bad guys, yet he never appears to practice... I mean - come on...

Still; it's slick, well filmed in every aspect - especially at night; there's a good sound track, a capable script and the odd funny bit. Editing is fine. And the baddies are so horrid, you cheer when they get their desserts.

However; there's a showdown in a quarry, and in a teaser-trailer on another DVD (Flight), a colossal explosion bringing down a cliff of rock. This was not shown on the actual DVD I purchased. But there you go.

I like Cruise movies because they're so cocky and solidly presented. This has a 15 rating, 2:35 aspect ratio and it's in colour. Well worth a whizz at 3 quid.

Flight [DVD]
Flight [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short Flight, Long-Haul Rehab..., 25 July 2015
This review is from: Flight [DVD] (DVD)
This movie might be more aptly titled "Fight" as most of it seems to be a subjective analysis of an outstanding pilot's fight with addiction. The "Flight" element is nicely realised with good builds of tension and excellent effects. But; it's all too brief. (Spoiler Alert) the plane crash-lands with minimal loss of life by an almost miraculous piece of aero-gymnastics on the part of our gung-ho anti-hero pilot, very well played by Denzel Washington. However...

Hospital tests indicate the presence of illegal levels of alcohol and cocaine in his blood. Our hero isn't all he's cracked-up to be. From there on, we are watchers of his personal life, his continued bouts of drunkenness and drug abuse, whilst the various legal dramas of his potential liability and the crash-investigation proceed. To be honest; once the bird hits the dirt, so does the excitement. The remaining drama being human and personal, and frankly just a wee bit boring. All the usual cliches about religion, personal responsibility and alcoholism are slipped into the cocktail, so if you're into aviation rather than rehabilitation you may well be disappointed.

There's a suitable but signposted twist in the tale, it's well acted and all the other technical issues measure up, though I don't know how accurately it reflects American civil aviation investigations. It's in colour, widescreen 2.4:1 aspect ratio, has a 15 rating and quoted runtime of a needlessly lengthy 133mins. Mine came from Tesco's for 3 quid and it'll be in the charity shop soon enough. It's worth a watch, but certainly not collectible.

Natural Born Killers [DVD] [1994]
Natural Born Killers [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ Woody Harrelson
Price: £5.23

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Collectible, 18 July 2015
In its day, this movie was very extensively hyped as radical, violent, and original etc. Well, perhaps I missed the message, because I found it very disappointing. For one thing, there seemed to be far too much cinematic "business" for which I could see no purpose. It flicked constantly between colour and black & white, with no clear indication as to why this should be. Was it supposed to represent the merging of reality and media? If it did, then it was an inadequate effort that rather compounded the visual confusion. Added to this, there was a myriad of image splicing between the story as it unfolded in fact, and what appeared to be the perceptions of life as viewed by the individual characters. Flashes of wild predators such as wolves and snakes (natural born killers, obviously), demonic faces, and fire - were these associations with hell - who knows? It was never made clear. Added to these, came flashback after flashback, frequent emphasis on the minutiae, and some of the most grotesquely exaggerated characterisations since the early Keaton `Batman' movies. As the "story" progressed, I found it resembled more a sort black farce, but without the preposterous humour associated with such a theme, and as a result it began to bore. To be honest; it looked like an attempt to make an `arty' Tarantino movie. Well, it didn't work for me.

Runtime is quoted as 115mins. It's in colour and B&W, and has an `18' rating. It also features Mike Madsen, though he's not credited on the DVD case. A quid & a half from the charity shop; back there next day.

Not recommended.

Code of a Killer [DVD]
Code of a Killer [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Threlfall
Price: £10.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent British Drama, 4 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Code of a Killer [DVD] (DVD)
This two-part made-for-TV drama details the outset of genetic fingerprinting in concert with an investigation of a double-murder - one which, in all probability, would presage a serial-killing episode.

The stories are told with intense fly-on-the-wall detail. And although we are spared any gratuitous violence or its grisly aftermath, the investigations unfold with that typically British understated realism which makes the crudity of gore quite superfluous. The distress of the families is harrowingly well done. Unlike CSI, we barely glimpse the victims, and are never exposed to the post mortems. There's something quaintly 1960's in this moderate presentation which obviously takes account of the fact that the families of both victims are still alive, yet is thoroughly absorbing even so, and once again proof that excess doesn't necessarily mean better. Hollywood and some of our own directors could do well to take note.

(Spoiler alert). John Simm plays Dr (later, Professor) Alec Jeffreys, with typical scientific economy. There - in a modest university in the unremarkable city of Leicester - the world changed forever; genetic fingerprinting and the subsequent decrypting of the human gene-code began. It's a brand-new science and must prove itself. In the meantime, David Threlfall offers an equally robust presentation of DCS David Baker, faced with the seemingly impossible task of solving a double homicide, whilst preventing what he is certain will be the third and likely subsequent killings. Baker reads about Jeffreys' astounding discovery, and decides to consult him. The case is compounded by a delusional young man who has already confessed to the second murder, but not the first. The police are naturally anxious to clear-up both crimes, the investigation of which is costing a fortune; and there is considerable pressure to use the individual's confession and various eye-witness accounts. A good many other innocents have fallen victim to the politics of economy and convenience. It's Baker's intention to use genetic fingerprinting of crime-scene samples as conclusive evidence that the youth committed both crimes. However; the technique has the opposite effect. Whilst both specimens manifestly derived from the same subject - proving that each crime is indeed linked - neither specimen came from the accused. He would appear to be a seriously confused innocent. Now what...?

The story is set in the 1980's and authentically portrays the attitudes of 30-odd years ago. Public - and official - knowledge of genetics was all but non-existent. How times have changed. This docudrama is a slowly-unfolding work, quite at variance with the modern trend of fast cuts and clever twists, and all the more engaging as a result. Once again Hollywood could take note. No big stars, just solid character acting. Locations, editing, lighting all hit the mark, as indeed does a straightforward and believable script which simultaneously attempts to make the study of genetics understandable to the completely uninformed. The DVD contains both separate episodes of 90mins. It's in colour, stereo, and screen-format 16:9 ratio. There's also a very interesting behind-the-scenes extra detailing the creation of the programme with interviews of both Professor Jeffreys & DCS Baker. Highly recommended. I've docked a star because it is never made clear why the youth confessed, neither do we get any insight into the mind-set of the culprit when he is finally apprehended. I thought the programme length merited both.

My DVD was sourced new from Tesco's for just two spons, so shop around.

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