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Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London)
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Audioquest Pearl 2m Hdmi
Audioquest Pearl 2m Hdmi
Offered by AudioVisual Online
Price: £34.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AUDIOQUEST PEARL 4K HDMI LEAD - Stunning picture quality on 4K, BLU RAY and DVD content - but allow for 'length'..., 3 Sept. 2017
I have always found that a bit of money spent on a decent interconnect pays huge dividends for both Audio and Visual. And this lead only proves that. But some details first...

The 'What Hi Fi' 5-star reviews for the Audioquest Pearl HDMI Lead refer to former 2011 and 2012 winners. The cable I received and bought from Amazon in September 2017 is an upgraded '2016' model (says so on the box) - the Audioquest Pearl HDMI 4K UHD Version (Barcode 092592087293).

Although it doesn't have a 5-star What HiFi rating (as yet) - its box also advises that its '100% Capable' and 'exceeds' 18Gbps requirements for 4K UltraHD, HDR, HDCP, 2.2. Blu Ray UltraHD, 3D, 4:4:4 Colour etc. In short it seems you can run anything through this cable and it will handle the digital traffic with 'built-in' aplomb. And I agree with that completely...

I've had cheaper cables before that usually start around seven quid and are good - but this beast is an altogether different proposition. The picture AND sound are gorgeous - steady - deep and rich and best of all - make you want to play everything through it to see what things look and sound like. With regard to my own kit admittedly I'm using a new Sony XBP-800 4K player from 2017 that costs £320 on Amazon and 'should' rock for that money - but I also have a much cheaper Sony BDP S6500 BLU RAY Player from 2015 that costs only £76.00 on Amazon and the results through it are just as spectacular. The cheaper BDP S6500 is a new generation player that upscales into 4K and I feel this is where many will genuinely feel the benefit of the newer and better technology (at £76 and £25 for the lead - the Sony SDP S6500 and the Audioquest Pearl HDMI 4K Lead make for very good bedfellows indeed).

Three things about this lead. Get your 'length' right. I bought the 1-meter version (3' 4") for just under twenty-five pounds and that is only just about ok if your player is immediately beside your telly - especially where the lead has to go upwards to a socket on a 50"-plus telly (usually on the right side). Stretching it to an AV Amp or any other device will require 1.5 in length or even 2.00 meters - both of which are a few quid more (1.5 I believe is at £27.00 and two meters at £34.00).

Point two. You should place the cable with the 'arrow' on the head pointing from your source player 'towards' your TV or AV receiver - in other words the arrow going into your player should be pointing 'outwards' and the HDMI going into your TV HDMI-1 or -2 port should be pointing 'inwards' towards the TV port (note the arrows shown in the product's pictures).

Point three. This may seem obvious but it's important. If you have a 4K player or one that upscales or you want to stream 4K from say Amazon or Netflix – I’m finding that the cheaper cable versions won't cut it. This is a dedicated lead that guarantees to handle '4K' and above and is a 5-star winner for a reason.

Another point is regarding the 'Picture Mode' on your telly, which has a huge bearing on picture quality. Our Samsung for instance has four modes (off the Setting button on the remote) - Movie, Standard, Natural and Dynamic. Beginning at Movie Mode and working your way up through those settings you will notice the picture gets decidedly brighter at you eventually arrive at 'Dynamic'. The screen shows the difference as you chose so you can set to your preference (I set mine in 'Natural' mode as I find Dynamic to be too bright - Natural is less flashy and has gorgeous richness in colour and depth). I ran one of the few titles I have in true 4K - "Planet Earth 2 in 4K" through the system and spectacular doesn't even begin to describe it.

Another point worth noting is regarding streaming - 4K Streaming through Netflix and Amazon using my Sony XBP-800 and the Audioquest Pearl HDMI 4K Lead produced markedly better results than I've seen before - absolutely everything looks awesome and steady as a rock. It seems if you want to stream 4K properly - then a dedicated 4K lead like this is the only man for the job...

I then ran "Kingdom Of Heaven", "Lucy, "The Martian" and Matthew MacFadyen and Keira Knightley's version of "Pride And Prejudice" (all on BLU RAYS) through the cable and again - huge improvements in picture quality - clarity - colours (I've never seen Pride And Prejudice look this awesome). I then ran a Transformers film on DVD - "Revenge Of The Fallen" through the cable and it was beautiful too. Admittedly these are all well filmed pieces - but the point is that I've seen each before on lesser machines and can tell if the picture is improved or not - and it absolutely 100% is.

Bottom line – if you want true 4K – then use a 4K interconnect HDMI Lead of quality and distinction (a What HiFi recommendation is a genuine badge of honour). Love it to bits. Buy with confidence and thoroughly enjoy...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2017 5:41 PM BST


AudioQuest Pearl HDMI High Speed with Ethernet, Audio Return & 3D 1 Metre
AudioQuest Pearl HDMI High Speed with Ethernet, Audio Return & 3D 1 Metre
Price: £24.50

5.0 out of 5 stars AUDIOQUEST PEARL 4K HDMI LEAD - Stunning picture quality on 4K, BLU RAY, Streaming and DVD content but allow for 'length'..., 3 Sept. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have always found that a bit of money spent on a decent interconnect pays huge dividends for both Audio and Visual. And this lead only proves that. But some details first...

The 'What Hi Fi' 5-star reviews for the Audioquest Pearl HDMI Lead refer to former 2011 and 2012 winners. The cable I received and bought from Amazon in September 2017 is an upgraded '2016' model (says so on the box) - the Audioquest Pearl HDMI 4K UHD Version (Barcode 092592087293).

Although it doesn't have a 5-star What HiFi rating (as yet) - its box also advises that its '100% Capable' and 'exceeds' 18Gbps requirements for 4K UltraHD, HDR, HDCP, 2.2. Blu Ray UltraHD, 3D, 4:4:4 Colour etc. In short it seems you can run anything through this cable and it will handle the digital traffic with 'built-in' aplomb. And I agree with that completely...

I've had cheaper cables before that usually start around seven quid and are good - but this beast is an altogether different proposition. The picture AND sound are gorgeous - steady - deep and rich and best of all - make you want to play everything through it (don’t underestimate the audio). Admittedly I'm using a new Sony XBP-800 4K player from 2017 that costs £320 on Amazon and 'should' rock for that money - but I also have a much cheaper Sony BDP S6500 BLU RAY Player from 2015 that costs only £76.00 on Amazon and the results through it are just as spectacular. The cheaper BDP S6500 is a new generation player that upscales into 4K and I feel this is where many will genuinely feel the benefit of the newer and better technology (at £76 and £25 for the lead - the Sony SDP S6500 and the Audioquest Pearl HDMI 4K Lead make for very good bedfellows indeed).

Three things about this lead. Get your 'length' right. I bought the 1-meter version (3' 4") for just under twenty-five pounds and that is only just about ok if your player is immediately beside your telly - especially where the lead has to go upwards to a socket on a 50"-plus telly (usually on the right side). Stretching it to an AV Amp or any other device will require 1.5 in length or even 2.00 meters - both of which are a few quid more (1.5 I believe is at £27.00 and two meters at £34.00).

Point two. You should place the cable with the 'arrow' on the head pointing from your source player 'towards' your TV or AV receiver - in other words the HDMI into your player should be pointing outwards and the HDMI going into your TV HDMI-1 or -2 port should be pointing inwards (note arrows in the pictures).

Point three. This may seem obvious but it's important. If you have a 4K player or one that upscales or you want to stream 4K from say Amazon or Netflix – I’m finding that the cheaper cable versions won't cut it. This is a dedicated lead that guarantees to handle '4K' and above and is a 5-star winner for a reason.

Another point is regarding the 'Picture Mode' on your telly, which has a huge bearing on picture quality. Our Samsung for instance has four modes (off the Setting button on the remote) - Movie, Standard, Natural and Dynamic. Beginning at Movie Mode and working your way up through those settings you will notice the picture gets decidedly brighter at you eventually arrive at 'Dynamic'. The screen shows the difference as you chose so you can set to your preference (I set mine in 'Natural' mode as I find Dynamic to be too bright - Natural is less flashy and has gorgeous richness in colour and depth). I ran one of the few titles I have in true 4K - "Planet Earth 2 in 4K" through the system and spectacular doesn't even begin to describe it.

Another point worth noting is regarding streaming - 4K Streaming through Netflix and Amazon using my Sony XBP-800 and the Audioquest Pearl HDMI 4K Lead produced markedly better results than I've seen before - absolutely everything looks awesome and steady as a rock. It seems if you want to stream 4K properly - then a dedicated 4K lead like this is the only man for the job...

I then ran "Kingdom Of Heaven", "Lucy, "The Martian" and Matthew MacFadyen and Keira Knightley's version of "Pride And Prejudice" (all on BLU RAYS) through the cable and again - huge improvements in picture quality - clarity - colours (I've never seen Pride And Prejudice look this awesome). I then ran a Transformers film on DVD - "Revenge Of The Fallen" through the cable and it was beautiful too. Admittedly these are all well filmed pieces - but the point is that I've seen each before on lesser machines and can tell if the picture is improved or not - and it absolutely 100% is.

Bottom line – if you want true 4K – then use a 4K interconnect HDMI Lead of quality and distinction (a What HiFi recommendation is a genuine badge of honour). Love it to bits. Buy with confidence and thoroughly enjoy...


Logan Lucky [Blu-ray] [2017]
Logan Lucky [Blu-ray] [2017]
Dvd ~ Channing Tatum
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucky for some..., 29 Aug. 2017
I was expecting a lot from this film - especially given the cast and the funky trailers. But it was only funny in places - especially when Daniel Craig and Adam Driver were on screen. But for some reason it was also incredibly slow too.

Soderburgh's return to the Director's chair is a welcome thing in any film lover's book and you have to be (eventually) impressed with the cleverness of Rebecca Blunt's screenplay. But it never quite reaches the cool and hip of "Ocean's Eleven" - at times it's slows and annoys - and it's 'hick' with a capitol H to a point where it stops being funny and starts being offensive. Frankly "Baby Driver" was so much better.

I thought it was good rather than great - my missus thought it was cack. And God help us all but the end opens up a possibility of a sequel - "Even Luckier Logan" - "Logan Strikes Twice" - "Rob Me Two Times: Logan Lucky 2"...


Skid / 34 Hours + Bonus Tracks
Skid / 34 Hours + Bonus Tracks
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars "...Explosive Sound..." - Skid/34 Hours + Bonus Tracks by SKID ROW (2017 Beat Goes On 2CD 'Expanded Edition' Remasters), 28 Aug. 2017
When Ireland's SKID ROW released their October 1970 debut LP "Skid" on CBS Records in the UK (December 1970 in the USA on Epic) - I had just turned 11 and was living in Dublin – hungry to trash my poor middle-class parents nice living room with some hairy-arsed Rock and fire-breathing fretful rebellion (you go young Baz).

As you can imagine - young Irish delinquents like Moi had few names to turn to – Rory Gallagher and his band Taste were an obvious choice of course – and what a stunning unit they were. But when the 17-year guitar-flash GARY MOORE from Belfast in Northern Ireland hit the Republic’s North/South gigging scene (helped by Dublin songwriter and Bassist BRUSH SHIELS and his drumming pal NOEL 'Nollaig' BRIDGEMAN) – Moore's incendiary playing and Skid Row’s tight three-piece live shows became a very big deal indeed.

As a solid touring support band Skid Row even impressed Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac who had their manager Clifford Davis take over the touring/recording reins. Greeny was apparently pencilled in to be the Producer for the debut LP - but it never happened with Davis stepping up to the console instead. Impressively – when the album did arrive - it charted at No. 30 in the UK on vinyl LP release - quite a feat given the decidedly speeded-up Blues-Prog-Rock nature of the music (it wouldn't have been everybody's cup of Darjeeling even then) and the vivid creature-creepy Nigel Watson mythical pencil-drawing artwork. Big things were indeed expected of this band...

But as much as my unbridled affection for them and all things remotely Thin Lizzy-related (Moore later joined the ranks) - this rather brill 2017 twofer from England's Beat Goes On has only shown up the dreadfully dated nature of the debut. The good news however is that LP No. 2 - "34 Hours" from June 1971 – shows a huge jump in songwriting craft and the six Extras on Disc 2 actually do warrant the word 'Bonus' – putting this reissue right up there for fans and a tasty temptation for those who like their early Seventies Rock a bit mad and wild.

There is a lot to get through - so once more unto the zippy licks and teenage kicks...

UK released Friday, 14 July 2017 (21 July 2017 in the USA) - "Skid/34 Hours + Bonus Tracks" by SKID ROW on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1302 (Barcode 5017261213020) is a 2CD Reissue and Remaster of their first two albums from 1970 and 1971 bolstered up with six 'Bonus Tracks' from the period - three non-album single-sides and three outtakes from the original LP sessions that were initially withdrawn (finally issued on vinyl in 1983 by CBS). Here are the details...

Disc 1 (38:29 minutes):
1. Mad Dog Woman [Side 1]
2. Virgo's Daughter
3. Heading Home Again
4. An Awful Lot of Woman
5. Unco-Up Showband Blues
6. For Those Who Do [Side 2]
7. After I Am Gone
8. The Man Who Never Was
9. Felicity
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut LP "Skid" - released October 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 63965 and December 1970 in the USA on Epic E 30404. Produced by CLIFFORD DAVIS (Fleetwood Mac's manager) - it peaked at No. 30 on the UK LP charts (didn't chart USA).

Disc 2 (57:33 minutes):
1. Night Of The Warm Witch (Including The Following Morning) [Side 1]
2. First Thing In The Morning (Including Last Thing At Night)
3. Mar
4. Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You, Part 1 (Including Go, I'm Never Gonna Leave You, Part 2) [Side 2]
5. Lonesome Still
6. The Love Story, Part 1 (Including The Love Story, Parts 2-4)
Tracks 1 to 6 are their second studio album "34 Hours" - released June 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64411 and August 1971 in the USA on Epic E 30913. Produced by CLIFFORD DAVIS and named after the amount of time it took to record - it didn't chart in either country.

BONUS TRACKS:
7. New Faces Old Places
8. Sandy's Gone (Part 1)
9. Sandy's Gone (Part 2)
10. Morning Star Avenue
11. Oi'll Tell You Later
12. Mr. De-Luxe
Tracks 7 to 11 were part of the original sessions in 1969 but abandoned for newer material on the 1970 released LP (Tracks 1, 4, 6 and 7 on Disc 1 to be exact – all the other tracks were re-recorded too).
Tracks 8 and 9 (from the original sessions) were salvaged as an A&B-side and issued as a non-album debut UK 45 - released 26 March 1970 on CBS Records 4893
Track 12 is the non-album B-side of their 2nd UK 7” single – an edit of "Night Of The Warm Witch" released 30 April 1971 on CBS Records 7181

SKID ROW was:
BRUSH SHIELS - Bass Guitar and Lead Vocals
GARY MOORE - Lead Guitar and Lead/Second Vocals
NOEL 'Nollaig' BRIDGEMAN - Drums

NOTES ON THE DEBUT LP "Skid" – 1969 Original vs. 1970 Re-Record:
Nine tracks were initially recorded in 1969 by the band with Producer MIKE SMITH at the helm - but that version (to be called "Skid Row") was scrapped with only a two-part single of "Sandy's Gone" emerging from the sessions. That rather mellow (and musically unrepresentative) two-parter was issued 26 March 1970 as a stand-alone British 45 on CBS Records 4893 - but sold little (both sides are included here as Bonus Tracks on Disc 2).

The whole album was then re-recorded (in eleven hours) with a rejiggered track list and new material in April 1970 and became the released LP known simply as "Skid" (all of CD Disc 1). However in 1983 - CBS Records UK decided to re-issue the initial recordings as a vinyl LP again in different artwork (to show it was different material) but confusingly using the same catalogue as the original release - S 63965. This was in turn re-issued in 1992 as a 'Rewind' issue on CBS 450623 1 (LP) and 450623 2 (CD).

That original 1969 version ran as follows...
Side 1:
1. Sandie's Gone
2. The Man Who Never Was
3. Heading Home Again
4. Felicity
Side 2.
1. Unco-up Showband Blues
2. Morning Star Avenue
3. Oi'll Tell You Later
4. Virgo's Daughter
5. New Faces Old Places

This 2CD reissue will allow at least some of that to be sequenced. It is of course a damn shame this BGO reissue didn’t think to include those remaining 1969 original recordings as Bonus Tracks on Disc 1 – but alas.

So what do you get? The outer BGO card slipcase adds a classy feel (as always) to this release and the 20-page booklet with new liner notes from noted writer JOHN O’REGAN offers a detailed history, original artwork (the inner gatefold of "34 Hours") – repro label shots of several rare British, Irish and Euro 45s and even 1971 concert posters from the Lyceum, The Marquee and The Winter Gardens at Great Malvern – very tasty indeed. But the big news is new ANDREW THOMPSON Remasters from 2017 that sound amazingly clean and powerful. Sure the rapidly recorded material is crude (especially on the debut) but man does it sound good. In September 2001 Repertoire of Germany issued a remaster CD of the 1970 debut album "Skid" with both parts/sides of the "Sandy's Gone" UK 7" single as its two Bonus Tracks. I've had that issue for years and the Thompson remaster is clearer right from the start of Side 1's "Mad Dog Woman". To the music...

Even though Moore was the centre of guitar attention in Ireland's Skid Row - Bassist Brush Shiels was the band's principal songwriter providing five of the nine debut tracks - "Mad Dog Woman", "Virgo's Daughter", "Heading Home Again", "An Awful Lot Of Woman" and "After I'm Gone" - while also co-writing "Unco-Up Showband Blues", "For Those Who Do" and "The Man Who Never Was" with Moore and Bridgeman. Moore alone provided the lengthy album finisher "Felicity". I have to admit that the initial "Mad Dog Woman" track is dreadfully dated (vocals, structure, the slightly clumsy playing) - but the following "Virgo's Daughter" is brilliant. With its twinned vocals-and-guitar opening refrain - the song feels like a sort of Prog Blues - like Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac circa "Green Manalishi" meets Vincent Crane's Atomic Rooster. Its clever yet accessible song-structure is perhaps why Greeny liked the Irish band so much. "Virgo's Daughter" is still on my fave tracks from their early years.

That rocking moment is quickly replaced with the plucked Country-Bop jaunt of "Heading Home Again" - Brush showing he could do melody as well as boogie. We're then hit with a two-minute track that probably introduced Skid Row to the masses more than any other song - "An Awful Lot Of Woman". It's complicated, short and speed freak verses combined with a pure Rock 'n' Roll guitar centre from Gary Moore featured as Track 4 on Side 4 of the double-album CBS Records Label Sampler "Rock Buster" in late 1970 (the gatefold sleeve that showed big Arnie flexing those Austrian arms as you opened it out). How many of us bought those cheap label samplers back in the day (Island's "Bumpers", Polydor's "Bombers", Atlantic's "New Age Of...") and were introduced to bands and artists we might never have listened to otherwise. For the end of Side 1 we then go into five and half minutes of slow Rock-Blues with "Unco-Up Showband Blues" where Gary gets to stretch out and show some fret skills. Nice...

Side 2's "For Those Who Do" shows the band's Prog even Jazz Rock leanings and it’s so easy to hear why Moore (as he races up and down the neck of his guitar) joined Colosseum II only a few years later on. That complicated jerky rhythm is evident again in the short but funkily brill "After I Am Gone" – Bridgeman and his crashing drums doing well to keep up with Gary who seems determining to chew gum really fast as he plays. Another LP highlight follows with the guitar-and-bass battle that is "The Man Who Never Was" – a song that is possibly too clever clogs for its own boots. Side 2 of the debut ends with nine minutes of Moore’s "Felicity" – a track I find hard to listen to now – like Jeff Beck forgetting economy and going off on a playing tangent just to suit himself.

Things had improved dramatically in the songwriting front by the time they reached album No. 2 "34 Hours" – so named for the amount of time it took to record. Both CBS Records UK and Ireland tried an edit of the brilliant “Night Of The Warm Witch” as a 45 in late April 1971. It’s nine-minute album length was shortened – starting the song at about 1:03 minutes when the drums and riff kick in. It’s an absolute crying shame that this brill edit isn’t included on here as a CD bonus track. But at least we do get its equally excellent and genuinely exciting B-side "Mr. De-Luxe" - the kind of kick-ass flipside I love – a little like the flip of Lizzy’s "Whiskey In The Jar" – the fab and cool "Black Boys On The Corner". For "Mr. De-Luxe" Moore and the boys get to boogie – Rock ‘n’ Roll the place – and I’ve loved it for years.

The short but speedy "First Thing in The Morning..." turns out to be another woman-troubles song that requires a wild guitar solo from Gary that sounds like he’s in the back of a school room sulking after teacher’s admonishment. Side 1 of "34 Hours" ends on the musically pretty "Mar" where vocally Shiels sounds like Terry Stamp of Third World War – weary, angry and containing the sad-and-glad with a cheery demeanour. For me Moore plays some of his best guitar on this track – a few effects first and then a solo that feels Blues-Soulful.

Over on Side 2 of "34 Hours" nine minutes of the hornary "Go, I’m Never Gonna Let You..." confirms how good the album is – great Rock and the production values are huge – as big as the riffs and musical ideas. Time for an unexpected Byrds-go-Country interlude with "Lonesome Still" coming on all Gram Parsons Pedal Steel Guitar – a misery shuffle in four-time pain. To end an accomplished second album were back to Skid Row’s trademark rapid boogie – the excellent "The Love Story..." – vocal scatting as Moore copies the staccato words. Amidst the Bonus Tracks "New Faces Old Places" is the prize for the album outtakes and those three great single sides are actually worth owning.

Sure there is a missed opportunity here (Disc 1 could have had the two versions of the debut album for the first time – one following the other - and how about a few of those Irish-only early single sides over on Disc 2 as well) – but whatever way you look at it – this is a classy release for the beginnings of a great band that imploded too soon - Ireland's Skid Row.

Top audio, quality presentation and a good price for rarities that are now so hard to find on original vinyl - old places with new faces indeed. Well done to all involved...


Sully: Miracle on the Hudson
Sully: Miracle on the Hudson
Dvd

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Brace For Impact..." - Sully on BLU RAY..., 27 Aug. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Masterfully constructed by Director Clint Eastwood and even-handedly depicted by writer Todd Komarnicki – 2016's "Sully" is a superlative film. You get to vividly see and feel the 208 seconds it took to land/belly-flop a stricken passenger jet on the Hudson River - where life or death lay in the hands of skilled men and their crew – all of whom kept their cool in the face of what must have appeared to be immanent loss.

Right from the time the Airbus A320 was hit in ascent by flocks of birds (Canadian geese) thereby suffering catastrophic engine failure on both sides - to the moment the Captain and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles miraculously bring it to a floating stand-still on January-icy waters in the middle of New York City – you’re left breathless with admiration and just a little dumbstruck. Eastwood replays these terrifying moments three times – but from different perspectives...you get to 'see' and 'feel' the mind-blowing impact of what they did…

The film "Sully..." has many great understated-performances least not of all from the duo of pilots played by Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart. The scope of what happened to those unsuspecting people on 15 January 2009 and their cabin crew's subsequent reputation-shafting by a defensive airline industry unfolds with genuine heart and amazing realism. Of course once on the sub-zero water - it becomes a race against time to make sure everyone survives – moments will count now and not hours. And I for one detected more than a few tears in the cinema when the Big Apple's finest went into serious rescue mode and did themselves proud - helping everyone to safety in less than 23 minutes. "...No one dies today..." - says one of the determined rescue staff as he blankets another frozen survivor.

But through it all is Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger - the human factor in an inhuman scenario – a situational first no one had ever faced or trained for before in a simulator. Through his back-story you see that Sully was literally the man for the job (whilst in the army he'd handled previous in-flight failures with the same cool). You also quickly realise their staggering luck. Because if the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 needed anyone at the helm just then - it was him and his right hand man - Skiles (Sully makes certain to tell all that it was a 'team' effort and not a solo one). And maybe it's just me but you also can't help think that as Captain Sullenberger took over the plane alone and applied his thousands of hours of flight experience to the situation – that somehow God was on New York's side that day.

Eastwood draws out proceedings – snatched moments that make it real. Sully fretting the 155 count as passengers and crew stand on the wings - sit shivering in inflatable side panels - unwisely try to swim for shore - Sully searching one more time in a sinking inner cabin as his staff scream at him to leave the dangerously volatile hunk of steel. He is plagued with nightmares and flashbacks that his calculations could have been wrong - and that as he banked that morning and lost altitude (effectively losing control of the lifeless plane) – he could have crashed the fuel-laden jet straight into hi-rise buildings thereby causing another man-made 9/11.

Or maybe he could have listened to his handler at flight control and made it back to La Guardia airport (he eyeballed the horizons). With the deftest of touch and not a little affection and admiration for a genuine American hero - Eastwood handles the tension, confusion and Sully's staggering calm in the face of such danger - with a class that is rare. There is no bombastic music here - grandstanding acting moments - it's just steady as she goes - they just all do their job. Pretty much what the real participants did on that fateful day. The industry of course tries to shaft the two flyers with pilot error – but the court case and simulations reveal a different story.

A hugely enjoyable, intelligent and crafted film that does that rare thing - lifts you up and leaves you breathless with admiration for the quiet heroes amongst us.

"...Brace for impact..." indeed...


Tiptoe Past the Dragon
Tiptoe Past the Dragon
Price: £13.14

4.0 out of 5 stars "...Masquerade Ball..." - Tiptoe Past The Dragon by MARLIN GREENE (2009 Collectors' Choice CD Remaster), 24 Aug. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tiptoe Past the Dragon (Audio CD)
Marlin Green's lone album "Tiptoe Past The Dragon" was issued Stateside in the early summer of 1972 and as per their rather over-reaching jewel case sticker - this February 2009 US 'Collectors' Choice' CD would have us believe it's - 'One of 1972's Great Lost Albums!'

"Tiptoe Past The Dragon" is not a lost masterpiece despite what they claim (it has been notorious bargain-bin fodder for decades in second-hand shops – a strict no-no as a buy in) – but it has musical goodies on both sides worth rediscovering – especially if you like your Americana with a touch of Country Rock.

Musically we’re talking a sort of lesser America – or in Britain - a sort of sub Matthews Southern Comfort or Plainsong. There are even traces of Neil Young circa "Gold Rush" and "Harvest" with his backing band Crazy Horse when Greene goes all Country Rock on certain songs. And recorded down South in The Muscle Shoals Studios – the LP features a slew of notable session types like Eddie Hinton, Barry Beckett and Wayne Perkins (of Smith, Perkins, Smith and Crimson Tide).

For fans of this forgotten easy-on-the-ear album - this rather ordinary CD Reissue does at least offers up two things worth noting - a fairly tasty audio remaster and it's physically cheap too (less than four quid on some sites). Here are the details...

US released 17 February 2009 - "Tiptoe Past The Dragon" by MARLIN GREENE on Collectors' Choice CCM-997 (Barcode 617742099720) is a straightforward CD Reissue and Remaster of the 11-Track 1972 LP and plays out as follows (34:49 minutes):

1. Grand Illusion [Side 1]
2. Masquerade Ball
3. Jonathan's Dream
4. My Country Breakdown
5. Forest Ranger
6. Gemini Gypsy
7. Ponce de Leon [Side 2]
8. Who's The Captain Of Your Ship Of Dreams
9. Fields Of Clover
10. Good Christian Cowboy
11. Tiptoe Past The Dragon
Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut album "Tiptoe Past The Dragon" - released June 1972 in the USA on Elektra Records EKS 75028 (no UK issue).

MARLIN GREENE - Lead Vocals
EDDIE HINTON, LARRY 'GIMMER' NICHOLSON and WAYNE PERKINS - Guitars
LEON La BLANC - Pedal Steel Guitar
BARRY BECKETT and CHUCK LEAVELL - Keyboards
DAVID HOOD - Bass
FRED PROUTY, LOU MULLINEX and ROGER HAWKINS - Drums

Typical of almost all Collectors' Choice CD Reissues - you get a functional gatefold inlay that at least has a summary of the man's career and the album by noted writer COLIN ESCOTT (done in December 2008). BOB FISHER - their resident Audio Engineer - did the Remaster and it sounds professional, full and at times rather beautiful - the swirling acoustic guitars and 'la la' singing on "Masquerade Ball" - the pedal steel twang of "Good Christian Cowboy" - all good.

Produced by Greene himself – the album hit the shops in 1972 hoping no doubt to catch the singer-songwriter craze sweeping everything in the early Seventies. Vocally he's close to say Ian Matthews and wrote all the songs except "Fields Of Clover" and "Good Christian Cowboy" which were penned by Wayne Perkins (later with Smith, Perkins, Smith over on Island Records in 1972 – an album that I hope to one day see on CD). But despite the strength of material like "Masquerade Ball" alas few noticed - and is now confirmed by Green in the liner notes that little promotion of the LP took place at Elektra. The label more closely associated with the Doors, Bread and Carly Simon did try a Radio Promo 45 for the jaunty Eagles-sounding Country-Rock of Side1's "Forest Ranger" on Elektra EK-45790 - but it didn't raise any interest and apparently stock copies were never pressed or pursued.

The album opens with a gentle acoustic ballad "Grand Illusion" where dreamers find their own reality (could have been a single too). It then trumps up the rather excellent "Masquerade Ball" - a highly produced 12-string acoustic tune that is instantly likeable. Clearly reading 'Jonathan Livingstone Seagull' (like everyone else at the time - that book was huge) - "Jonathan's Dream" is a rather aimless instrumental that starts with gulls and ocean waves lapping and doodles around on the guitar for about a minute and a half only to jump right into Flying Burrito Brothers territory with "My Country Breakdown" - not a particularly strong track either. I much prefer the Side 1 finisher "Gemini Gypsy" - so very Plainsong - and in a good way.

Over on Side 2 Greene rocks it up with the Dobro and Piano of "Ponce De Leon" and gets melodic Ian Matthews on "Who's The Captain Of Your Ship Of Dreams" - another potential single. Wayne Perkins of Smith, Perkins, Smith (and later two albums with Crimson Tide on Capitol Records) provides the two Country-Rock tunes - the very Neil Young ballad-feel to "Fields Of Clover" and the holy-roller of "Good Christian Cowboy" - both rather good. It ends on the short but Judy Henske/Jerry Yester strange title track - "Tiptoe Past The Dragon".

Not a masterpiece for sure but there is moments that impress hugely and on repeated listens - the music grows on you like crazy.

"...Why don't you look around..." - Greene sings in the hypnotic "Fields Of Clover". I'd agree – worth a punt...
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Spooky Two
Spooky Two
Price: £40.73

5.0 out of 5 stars "...Better By You..." - Spooky Two by SPOOKY TOOTH (2016 Universal/Island 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Nine Bonuses), 24 Aug. 2017
This review is from: Spooky Two (Audio CD)
With a sabre-rattling tune-rich debut in July 1968's "It's All About" already under their musical belt - it took only eight months for the British/American five-piece SPOOKY TOOTH to unleash what many feel is their best album - March 1969's imaginatively entitled "Spooky Two".

Germany's Repertoire Records made a decent stab at a CD Remaster in 2005 - but fans are going to need and love this new 2016 version expertly and sympathetically transferred by Audio Engineers Paschal Byrne and Ben Wiseman - two names who've graced oodles of much-praised reissues.

"Spooky Two" is just one amongst seven reissues covering their stay at Island Records from 1968 to 1973 before they moved to Good Ear Records in the mid Seventies amidst myriad personnel changes (see full list below) and I'll admit that I bought the whole lot on release in the UK with a genuine sense of newfound glee. Lost in my dream indeed - here are the scary dental details...

UK released 30 September 2016 (7 October 2016 in the USA) - "Spooky Two" by SPOOKY TOOTH on Universal/Island 570 547-3 (Barcode 602557054736) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Nine Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (72:25 minutes):

1. Waitin' For The Wind [Side 1]
2. Feelin' Bad
3. I've Got Enough Heartache
4. Evil Woman
5. Lost In My Dream [Side 2]
6. That Was Only Yesterday
7. Better By You, Better Than Me
8. Hangman, Hang My Shell On A Tree
Tracks 1 to 8 are their second studio album "Spooky Two" - released March 1969 in the UK on Island ILPS 9098 and August 1969 in the USA on A&M Records SP 4194. Produced by JIMMY MILLER and Engineered by ANDREW JOHN - it peaked at No. 44 in the USA (didn't chart UK). Uncredited musicians include JOE COCKER who sings backing vocals on "Feelin' Bad" - STEVE WINWOOD who plays piano on "I've Got Enough Heartache" and DAVE MASON who plays guitar on "That Was Only Yesterday" (Winwood and Mason were with Traffic at the time, another Island Records act).

BONUS TRACKS:
9. Feelin' Bad
10. I Can't Quit Her
11. Blues Town
Tracks 9 to 11 recorded 30 Sep 1968 for BBC Radio One's "Top Gear" Session in Mono. Produced by Bernie Andrews, first broadcast 6 Oct 1968

12. Something Got Into Your Life
13. When I Get Home
Tracks 12 and 13 recorded 13 November 1968 at London's Morgan Studio in Mono

14. Waitin' For The Wind (First Mix)
15. Lost In My Dream (First Mix)
16. Better By You, Better Than Me (First Mix)
Tracks 14 to 16 mixed 12 Feb 1969 at London's Morgan Studios

17. Pretty Woman
Track 17 is the non-album B-side to "That Was Only Yesterday", a Dutch 7" single released August 1969 on Island WIP 6058 in Mono. It's a cover of the A.C. Williams Blues song made famous by Albert King on his "Born Under A Bad Sign" LP on Stax Records in 1967.

SPOOKY TOOTH was:
MIKE HARRISON – Lead Vocals and Keyboards
GARY WRIGHT – Lead Vocals and Keyboards
LUTHER GROSVENOR - Guitars
GREG RIDLEY - Bass
MIKE KELLIE - Drums

MARK POWELL - head honcho at Esoteric Recordings reissue label (part of Cherry Red) researched, co-ordinated and produced the reissue. His 12-page liner notes include new interviews with key players - the American Gary Wright and Brit boys Mike Harrison and Mike Kellie. You get period photos (black and white and colour), tour posters where ST shared the bill with other like-minded British bands Traffic and Family and a rare Euro picture sleeve for "Waitin' For The Wind" (German Island) with "Feelin' Bad" on the flipside. The recollections are fun and insightful with most admitting that "Spooky Two" is the album they are probably most proud off - a coherent whole only added to here with some crackalackin bonus tracks.

But the big news here is new 2016 Remasters from original master tapes by two hugely experienced Audio Engineers - PASCHAL BYRNE and BEN WISEMAN - names that have graced large numbers of reissues - the Strawbs, T. Rex, Audience, Unicorn, Help Yourself, Dada, Moody Blues, Procol Harum, Terry Riley and many more. This album feels like an amplified Free circa "Tons Of Sobs", "Free" and "Fire And Water" meets "Mr. Fantasy" Traffic - a combo of sound I'll take any day of the week. The drums opening to "Waitin' For The Wind" followed quickly by that organ and bass kick-in is absolutely monster - and from there is doesn't let up. A very tasty job done and it feels like that across the whole series...

Quite why the sexy Rock riffage of "Waitin' For The Wind" wasn't chosen for a second British 45 is anybody's guess - but I think a winning radio hook was missed out there (a Grosvenor, Wright and Harrison composition). The huge sound of melody and voices continues with the excellent "Feelin' Bad" where the liner notes now inform us that the equally gravel-laced larynx of Joe Cocker is adorning those backing singers alongside Mike Harrison - and if you listen hard enough - you can just about make out his distinctive Brummie rasp amidst the guys and gals. It's actually not surprising that the deeply Soulful "I've Got Enough Heartaches" got chosen as the LP's one and only UK 7" single in June 1969 (Island WIP 6060) - even if it was tucked away on the B-side of a non-album A-side written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin - "Son Of Your Father" - a song that would eventually turn up on album number four "The Last Puff" in 1970 with Gary Wright on Lead Vocals. Although the riffage for "Evil Woman" is 'rawk' with a capital 'r' (a cover of the Larry Weiss blues song first released by Guy Darrell in September 1967 on Piccadilly Records in the UK) - for me its clichéd lyrics and sentiment make it the most dated song on the LP (though many love it - especially that gee-tar solo towards the end).

The writing-combo of Wright and Kellie penned both "Feelin' Bad" and "I've Got Enough Heartaches" over on Side 1 - but all of Side 2 is Gary Wright. He opens accounts with the trippy-psych-rock of the album's most famous cut - the wicked and cool "Lost In My Dream" - a tune where nightmares do battle with reality amidst floating organ, marching drums and Harrison's intense vocals – the Englishman clearly channelling another Rock belter throughout - Steve Marriott of Humble Pie. In fact as an example of Sixties triptastic lysergic bombast - "Lost In My Dream" can't be beat. Things mellow into the Soundtrack sounding harmonica-wail of "That Was Only Yesterday" where she's gone for sure and our poor boy is wondering how he's gonna face the weekend (get the beers in son). Re-listening to it after all these years – I'd forgotten how good the song is and can easily hear why it was such a hit on German radio. None other than Judas Priest covered the choppy riff of "Better By You, Better Than Me" on their "Stained Glass" album in 1978 - and platter number two all ends on the acoustic-ethereal "Hangman, Hang My Shell On A Tree" - another waiting-to-die tune that builds and builds until it feels like a Spooky Tooth vs. Humble Pie epic.

Even though they're in Mono - the three "Top Gear" tracks from September 1968 are well recorded (God Bless Bernie Andrews, RIP) and show a band that sounds 'so' Island Records - a mash-up between Free, Humble Pie and well - Spooky Tooth (the non-album track "Blues Town" is the rocking prize here). We get two surprisingly good album outtakes in Mono - the first "Something Got Into Your Life" being very Atomic Rooster in its heavy guitar tone while "When I Get Home" feels like a really good Family song and is the more cleverly melodic of the pair. The three 'first mix' variants of key album tracks will thrill long-time fans - subtle differences in all. And Spooky Tooth's cover of Albert King's "Pretty Woman" has been a sought-after European-only B-side rarity for decades – so how cool is it to see that forgotten flip-side back on CD here.

To sum-up - a great Spooky Tooth album given quality audio, good presentation and at least some Extra Tracks that actually warrant the moniker 'Bonus'. 1969's "Spooky Two" is no longer lost in anyone's dream. Well done to all involved in this superb CD reissue...

PS: Reissue Titles for SPOOKY TOOTH in the 30 September 2016 (UK)/7 October 2016 (USA) Universal/Island CD Remaster Series:
1. It's All About (1968 Debut) - on Universal/Island 570 547-1 (Barcode 602557054712) with 10 Bonus Tracks
2. Spooky Two (1969 2nd LP) – on Universal/Island 570 547-3 (Barcode 602557054736) with 9 Bonus Tracks
3. Ceremony: An Electronic Mass (1969 3rd LP with Pierre Henry) - on Universal/Island 570 547-0 (Barcode 602557054705) with 6 Bonus Tracks
4. The Last Puff (1970 4th LP) - on Universal/Island 570 547-5 (Barcode 602557054750) with 6 Bonus Tracks
5. You Broke My Heart...So I Busted Your Jaw (1973 5th LP) - on Universal/Island 570 547-8 (Barcode 602557054781)
6. Witness (1973 6th LP) - on Universal/Island 570 547-7 (Barcode 602557054774) with 1 Bonus Track
7. The Mirror (1974 7th LP) - on Universal/Island 570 547-6 (Barcode 602557054767)


Face to Face With the Truth by Undisputed Truth (2003-06-11)
Face to Face With the Truth by Undisputed Truth (2003-06-11)

4.0 out of 5 stars "…Harmony Is The Key…" - Face To Face With The Truth by THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH (2003 'Original Funk LP Series' CD Remaster), 22 Aug. 2017
"Face To Face With The Truth" was the second US album for NORMAN WHITFIELD'S band THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH in February 1972 and this June 2003 European CD remaster on Universal Music Group/Miracle Records 067 100-2 (Barcode 044006710020) is a straightforward copy of that soul-funk peach and hard-to-find vinyl rarity.

1. You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth [Side 1]
2. What It Is?
3. Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World) Friendship Train
4. Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) - [Side 2]
5. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me
6. Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me
7. What's Going On

The 7-track LP was originally issued February 1972 on Gordy G959L in the USA (July 1972 on Tamla Motown STMA 8004 in the UK) and this "ORIGINAL FUNK LP SERIES" CD reissue (in a card digipak) fully reproduces the original gatefold sleeve artwork and offers an 8-page booklet. Inside is a very knowledgeable and concise essay on the album by DAVID COLE - Editor of the specialist soul magazine "In The Basement".

The band depicted on the front sleeve is JOE HARRIS (lead vocals), BRENDA JOYCE EVANS and BILLIE RAE CALVIN (duet and backing vocals). Whitfield produced the album and co-wrote 5 of its 7 songs with another Motown genius BARRETT STRONG. "Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me" was first outed by Gladys Knight & The Pips while the album's closer is a 9-minute cover of Marvin Gaye's 1971 Tamla masterpiece "What's Going On". Other notable musicians are DENNIS COFFEY on Lead Guitar, EARL VAN DYKE on Piano with EDDIE BROWN on Bongo and Congo Drums.

Musically the album is typical of so many Whitfield productions - the filler tracks are fairly obvious and ok - but the killer long funky workouts are stunning. Bass starter, slinky wah-wah guitar fills, strings backed up with conga rhythms - all of it peppered with social consciousness lyrics that to this day don't sound dated. The groove takes its time to get its hooks into you and even after nine or ten minutes, it never feels like it overstayed its welcome. Joe Harris was a wonderful vocalist too - a little like Pops Staples let loose. For me the big highlight is the near nine-minute "Ungena Za Ulimwengu..." - very Isaac Hayes in its hypnotic lingering pace and build - his fabulous groove always had customers coming to the record counter asking after it (lyrics above).

It doesn't say who remastered the tapes or where it was done, but the sound is wonderfully clear and defined. It's not all great for sure, but the ones that are worth it - especially in this great sound quality - make this forgotten goody well worth your checking out. Recommended.

PS: Here's a full list of the 2003 "Original Funk LP Series" CD reissues:
1. A Tear To A Smile - ROY AYERS UBIQUITY
(1975 US LP on Polydor, CD reissue is 065 620-2)
2. Propositions - BAR-KAYS
(1982 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 822 885-2)
3. Summertime Groove - BOHANNON
(1978 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 077 014-2)
4. Ugly Ego - CAMEO
(1978 USA LP On Chocolate City, CD reissue is 077 251-2)
5. Con Funk Shun 7 - CON FUNK SHUN
(1981 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 699-2)
6. Nice And Soulful - CAROLINE CRAWFORD
(1979 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 067 517-2)
7. The Gap Band - THE GAP BAND
(1979 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 698-2)
8. Something Special - KOOL and THE GANG
(1981 LP on De-Lite, CD reissue is 063 695-2)
9. In Heat - LOVE UNLIMITED
(1974 LP on 20th Century, CD reissue is 063 625-2)
10. Just Outside Of Town - MANDRILL
(1973 LP on Polydor, CD reissue is 065 619-2)
11. Them Changes - BUDDY MILES [Drummer with The Electric Flag]
(1970 LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 693-2)
12. One Way featuring Al Hudson - ONE WAY featuring AL HUDSON
(1979 LP on MCA, CD reissue is 113 201-2)
13. What Am I Gonna Do - GLORIA SCOTT [Barry White production]
(1974 USA LP on Casablanca, CD reissue is 063 694-2)
14. Moving South - SOUTHSIDE MOVEMENT
(1975 USA LP on 20th Century, CD reissue is 063 691-2)
15. Face To Face With The Truth - THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH
(1972 LP on Gordy & Tamla Motown, CD reissue is 067 100-2)

PPS: Along with many other Soul Titles - the "Face To Face With The Truth" album finally saw CD reissue once again in 2015/2016 on 'Universal Music Group/Elemental Music'. Titles to date in that CD Reissue Series are (I've reviewed 1, 3, 8, 13 and 15):

1. Hang On In There Baby (1974 LP on MGM Records) - JOHNNY BRISTOL (Universal/Elemental 88518 - 8435395501153)
2. The Original Disco Man (1979 LP on Polydor) - JAMES BROWN (Universal/Elemental 88523 – Barcode 8435395501450)
3. Music To Make Love By (1975 LP on Chess) - SOLOMON BURKE (Universal/Elemental 88528 – Barcode 8435395501627)
4. Hot On The Tracks (1976 LP on Motown) – THE COMMODORES (Universal/Elemental 88511 – Barcode 8435395500965)
5. Breakin' Bread (1974 LP on People) – FRED (WESLEY) & THE NEW JB’S (Universal/Elemental 88522 – Barcode 8435395501252)
6. Doing It To Death (1973 LP on People) - THE JB'S [with James Brown] (Universal/Elemental 88517 – Barcode 8435395501146)
7. People...Hold On (1972 LP on Tamla) – EDDIE KENDRICKS (Universal/Elemental 88501 – Barcode 8435395500569)
8. Mother Nature's Son (1968 Stereo LP on Cadet, Charles Stepney Production) – RAMSEY LEWIS (Universal/Elemental 88504 – Barcode 8435395500590)
9. Them Changes (1970 LP on Cadet) - RAMSEY LEWIS (Universal/Elemental 88516 – Barcode 8435395501139)
10. Fire (1974 LP on Mercury) - THE OHIO PLAYERS (Universal/Elemental 88506 – Barcode 8435395500973)
11. Skin Tight (1974 LP on Mercury with 1 Bonus Track) - THE OHIO PLAYERS (Universal/Elemental 88510 – Barcode 8435395500958)
12. Get Ready (1969 LP on Rare Earth) – RARE EARTH (Universal/Elemental 88505 – Barcode 8435395500866)
13. Soulin' (1966 Stereo LP on Capitol) - LOU RAWLS (Universal/Elemental 88515 - 8435395501122)
14. Smokey (1973 LP on Tamla) – SMOKEY ROBINSON (Universal/Elemental 88503 – Barcode 8435395500583)
15. My Whole World Ended (1969 Stereo LP on Motown) - DAVID RUFFIN (Universal/Elemental 88527 – Barcode 8435395501542)
16. The Groove Governor (1970 LP on Soul) – JIMMY RUFFIN (Universal/Elemental 88513 – Barcode 8435395501108)
17. Still Waters Run Deep (1970 LP on Tamla) – THE TEMPTATIONS (Universal 88502 – Barcode 8435395500576)
18. Face To Face With The Truth (1972 LP on Gordy) – THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH (Universal/Elemental 88509 – Barcode 8435395500941)
19. Together Brothers O.S.T. (1974 2LPs on 20th Century, Single CD) – BARRY WHITE and THE LOVE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA (Universal/Elemental 88507 – Barcode 8435395500880)


The History of British Rock and Roll: The Beat Boom 1963 - 1966
The History of British Rock and Roll: The Beat Boom 1963 - 1966
Price: £3.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classy and well written..., 21 Aug. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In-depth chapters and good info - but there appears to be no Index I can use to locate chapters. So I had to simply flick forward on the e-pages to find where I'd last left off.

The text is well-researched (early Beatles and so forth) and the black and white promo photos of bands makes it feel classy. I couldn't afford the paperback but I'm happy enough with the e-book version. Nice...


Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets [Blu-ray + UV] [2017]
Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets [Blu-ray + UV] [2017]
Price: £14.99

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Copy That" Crap..., 16 Aug. 2017
Walked out after three quarters of an hour - could take no more - what a disappointing mess.

Hollywood of late seems to be lost. I suffered through "Atomic Blonde" as well recently - more derivative second-rate claptrap that is only just about saved by the presence of Charleze Theron. I recently viewed "Baby Driver" however and like most in the audience I clapped at the end - loved it - fresh - kicking - actually entertaining - and above all - a whole ensemble cast that absolutely rocked with a director at the helm that knew what he wanted and how to get it (see review). And that's where "Valerian..." just falls apart.

Although there are admittedly some beautiful set pieces at the beginning and later (it's a Luc Besson film after all and the reason why we went to see it) - "Valerian..." gets lost completely when the two turkey leads arrive - Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. They immediately start spouting the most dreadful clichéd crack-space-soldiers 'copy that' dialogue and have a supposed 'thing' for each other. Cara looks like a bored model that got lucky between suntan sessions and whose idea of acting is to stand there like a pouty teen. But DeHaan (who has been good before given the right material) is the real problem. Not in any way leading man material - he's truly awful in this – looking like some pubescent thirteen year old trying to act thirty. But worse - it's clear from the outset that there's zero chemistry between them so you couldn't care less if they hook up...

While those shabby-off-world Luc Besson moments make for some fun - the set pieces themselves in deserts and gloopy three-dimensional worlds are glaringly obvious knock-offs from Star Wars and Jupiter Rising and at times the mish-mash of images gives you a headache instead of thrilling visually. The dialogue is one long stream of supposedly cool quips that come off as hammy to the extreme - spoken by actors who are forced to wear outfits that look like Jean Paul Gautier on a sick day. When a handsome lead like Clive Owen starts dressing up in 'general' outfits that can only be described as downright laughable - you know you made a mistake paying to see this.

Luc Besson is a funky director and has put some truly great stuff on screen - visionary even - unfortunately the blame has to land on his door. In "The Fifth Element", the wildly underrated "Adele Blanc Sec", the iconic "Taken" and of course "Lucy" - he had kicking leads that brought home the goods in spades. In "Valerian..." the obvious lack of spark between the two front runners and their inability to elevate anything destroys any chance the film had - and he as a seasoned pro behind the chair must have known this yet let the whole messy thing ride.

When I think of how good recent episodes of "Game Of Thrones" have been - cinema-standard special effects and storylines and characters you actually do give a damn about - I worry about Hollywood at the moment. They seem to have lost the plot with regard to doing that most basic of things – actually entertaining us.

The BLU RAY will look great - but it's strictly a rental I'm afraid...
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