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Shaun the Sheep The Farmer's Llamas [DVD]
Shaun the Sheep The Farmer's Llamas [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jay Grace
Price: £5.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic TV Special outing for Shaun and chums!, 18 Mar. 2016
After several ace TV series and a brilliant feature-length movie, Shaun the Sheep’s latest outing was a fab half-hour special for 2015 Christmas time. It’s been said that Aardman’s best stuff has always been 30-minute features (i.e. Wallace & Gromit), and after the Shaun The Sheep Movie, it’s certainly the next direction to go.

As you’ve no doubt guessed from the cover, The Farmer’s Llamas features three new arrivals to Mossy Bottom Farm…all thanks to Shaun! At the Country Fair, the Farmer unwillingly ends up bidding for three llamas after being tricked by Shaun – who believes the newcomers could definitely make things more fun at the farm. Alas, as was the case in the Movie, Shaun isn’t careful with what he wishes for…and the llamas prove wildly out of control, and everyone suffers from their antics. Can Shaun put things right before it’s too late?

Like most works from Aardman Animations, The Farmer’s Llamas is beautiful for its simple premise, presentation and flawless execution. But the quality for this particular special matches that of the Movie; there’s a well-developed story, dramatic twists, genuine poignancy and terror, a satisfying resolution and an absolutely brilliant ending! All bought about by Shaun’s actions, and the presence of new, inspired characters which turn out to be more problematic than even the Naughty Pigs!

The Farmer’s Llamas (like the Shaun The Sheep Movie) is comfortable in its format, thanks to such sublime pacing. The humour and story-telling don’t feel over-stretched and can be enjoyed just as much as any episode from the TV series. Fans of Shaun (and Aardman in general) won’t be disappointed at all, and everyone will approve of those nice little touches throughout.

For this DVD release, Studio Canal have done a stellar job, right from the brilliant animations for the Main Menu and the extras. There’s a nice little ‘Meet The Llamas’ mini-documentary and a terrific assortment of ‘Mossy Bottom Farm’ shorts (done in a similar vein to Wallace & Gromit’s ‘Cracking Contraptions’) and a good Activity Booklet for kids. All this for a fiver? BARGAIN!

Essential for all fans! Kids and adults alike!


Doctor Who: The Nest Cottage Chronicles: Fifteen 4th Doctor audio dramas
Doctor Who: The Nest Cottage Chronicles: Fifteen 4th Doctor audio dramas
by Paul Magrs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £31.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The entire range of Paul Magrs' Fourth Doctor audio classics! Compact and at a bargain price!, 27 Feb. 2016
Writer Paul Magrs and Tom Baker himself proved that was still so many great stories that could be told with the legendary Fourth Doctor. The 2009 Hornets’ Nest series (courtesy of BBC Audiobooks/AudioGo) introduced a malevolent new threat, a refreshing narrative, and gripping story-arc that linked five audio-exclusive adventures and also reunited the Doctor with former companion Mike Yates (ex-captain of UNIT, again played by Richard Franklin) and also introducing Mrs Wibbsey (Susan Jameson).

The success of Hornets’ Nest spawned a sequel series called Demon Quest (released in 2010) and a final set of audiobooks, collectively known as Serpent Crest (released in 2011). Together, this trilogy of Fourth Doctor audio-adventures has become known as The Nest Cottage Chronicles. And now, the entire range can be yours to own! In one complete set!

So…should all Whovians partake? Definitely! To begin with, it’s the Fourth Doctor. Tom Baker is regarded by many as the definitive Doctor and he fits so comfortably back into his old role. These audiobooks are an absolute treat for fans of both the classic and modern TV series. The Fourth Doctor remains as barmy & brilliant as ever!

This Nest Cottage Chronicles set contains ALL FIFTEEN audiobooks from Hornets’ Nest, Demon Quest and Serpent Crest…PLUS a special-enhanced bonus disc (exclusive to this set) which contains various outtakes, promotional trailers, an interview with Tom Baker, and a PDF-booklet which contains sleeve notes for all the various, original CD releases in this range. As someone who collected Demon Quest – and having loved the old Radio Times layouts and other artistic-references – this is a most pleasing extra for those who loved all the creative work done by BBC Audiobooks back in 2009-11.

Now, an obvious question that people are asking…is this latest release worth purchasing even if you’ve got all the individual CDs or previous Hornets’ Nest/Demon Quest/Serpent Crest box sets? Well, as someone who collected Demon Quest (and a couple of the Hornets’ Nest episodes), I’d say yes. It wasn’t just the fact that I was missing EIGHT audiobooks from this Nest Cottage series, and that there’s a special bonus disc with new, exclusive content…this set is so much more practical & convenient than previous releases. The plastic case is robust with a central post that comfortably fits all sixteen CDs; offering ideal protection for the discs and saving so much space on your shelf. And for 16 audiobooks at twenty pounds, it’s an absolute bargain! Plenty of high-quality material for Whovians to indulge in!

For those who’ve missed Paul Magrs’ range of audiobooks, The Nest Cottage Chronicles is so-called because this series essentially revolves around Nest Cottage, a humble little abode situated in the village of Hexford (in Sussex). At this point in the Fourth Doctor’s timeline, the entire Chronicles seem to take place (according to various references & Wikipedia, anyway) from after 1978’s “The Invasion of Time” (at the start of Hornets’ Nest) to just before “The Ribos Operation” (upon the conclusion of Serpent Crest). The Doctor has retired to Nest Cottage in 2009 to work on his latest, sinister mystery, and is here aided by Mike Yates (now an old man) and Mrs. Wibbsey (employed as Nest Cottage’s housekeeper).

Mike has always been one of the most legendary companions in Doctor Who’s history, and depicted in his twilight years, the ex-U.N.I.T. Captain remains as deep and as well-developed as ever. Richard Franklin clearly relishes in returning to his old role after all these years, and has so many brilliant exchanges with Tom and Susan Jameson, who is truly excellent as Mrs Wibbsey. The time-displaced Mrs Wibbsey is such an ingenious creation, written beautifully throughout this whole range by Paul Magrs and thus comes across as a companion so well-envisioned that she’s worthy of the Doctor and of any other companion from television and/or audio. With the Fourth Doctor, they help give this whole set so much heart and identity.

The stories themselves vary in terms of quality, with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Hornets’ Nest was clearly intended to be a stand-alone arc and thus functions well without its sequels. This is a five-part series that benefits from intelligent plotting, gripping horrors and stellar narrative, as well as an inspired antagonist. The Hornets are a deliciously-malevolent and lethal threat for the Fourth Doctor, with convoluted ties to the Time Lord that make them a far greater nemesis than they appear on paper. The sinister machinations of the Hornets provide a great challenge to the Doctor, as well as cleverly explaining why he has to take the fight to them from Nest Cottage instead of the TARDIS. The various storytelling duties from Tom Baker and Richard Franklin set the standard for Magrs’ audio-series make Hornets’ Nest an absolute hit; one that merits a sequel or two.

Demon Quest and Serpent Crest are done differently but follow the same winning formula. Demon Quest remains my favourite arc out of the trilogy, due to the artistic license it employs, the machinations of the enigmatic Demon, brilliant development of Mrs Wibbsey’s character, a shocking surprise link to Hornets’ Nest and a cliff-hanger ending which rolls right onto Serpent Crest. I agree with the majority who consider Serpent Crest the weakest series of the Nest Cottage trilogy; due to some contrived episodes and its (overall) less-enticing premise, but Serpent Crest is truly saved by its amazing fourth part (“The Hexford Invasion” – which I consider Paul Magrs’ finest hour), a brilliant guest appearance by David Troughton (son of the late, great Patrick – The Second Doctor), and a rip-roaring climax which says a poignant goodbye to Mrs Wibbsey, Mike Yates and Nest Cottage.

Overall, The Nest Cottage Chronicles is one of Doctor Who’s most outstanding series in the audio-world. While not quite as ingenious as the 50th Anniversary’s Destiny of the Doctor, this entire range (16 DISCS!) is Paul Magrs’ masterwork; one that’s essential for Tom Baker fans and all other Whovians, especially at such a bargain price!


Batgirl Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside HC (The New 52)
Batgirl Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside HC (The New 52)
by Cameron Stewart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Batgirl is back! In a way you'd not expect...!, 7 Feb. 2016
Batgirl has always been one of my favourite characters in the entire superhero genre. Inspired by both Batman and her father (Police Commissioner James Gordon), Barbara donned her own bat-guise to fight for justice and help those in needed. Despite lacking in proper training, Barbara would struggle and ultimately prevail in the face of adversity to prove her capabilities and worth in the eyes of her peers.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, the whole concept of Batgirl and sheer depth to the character makes her such an inspirational symbol and positive role model. And that was proved by not only Barbara Gordon, but her successors – Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. Truthfully, I hadn’t read Batgirl since the whole New 52 thing was launched. And I was honestly disappointed that Stephanie was booted from the role, in favour of taking Barbara out of her Oracle-phase and reinstating her in the cape and cowl. I felt Stephanie’s Batgirl had so much more to offer creatively, and nothing about the Gail Simone run of Batgirl inspired me to pursue it further.

Nevertheless, after that dark and critically-acclaimed run…comes something completely different.

At this point in time, Barbara has gone through so many tumultuous events. Her previous costume and original equipment have all been destroyed, and she needs a fresh start. So she moves into a new apartment in Gotham City’s district of Burnside; a hip, fashionable place where social media and the youth element run wild. However, it’s not long before trouble comes a-calling and Barbara naturally can’t turn a blind-eye to those in need. So, she creates a new costume from scratch, and Batgirl is reborn.

Batgirl From Burnside is a six-part story arc (collecting Batgirl #35-40), written by Cameron Stewart (famous for his artwork on Ed Brubaker’s run on Catwoman) and Brenden Fletcher, with Babs Tarr on art-duty. This creative team has truly produced something radical…and it all works.

Needless to say, the most striking thing is the redesign for Barbara’s Batgirl costume. Compared to previous Batgirl costumes from the past, THIS one truly looks like a do-it-yourself effort from a fashion-designer as opposed to the usual superheroine spandex. It reflects the story’s tone and direction this creative team have opted to take with the character, and the more I looked at it, the more it grew on me. This revamp is a real breath-of-fresh-air, and it’s true to what makes Batgirl so appealing.

Barbara Gordon has always been the polar opposite of Bruce Wayne; in that she’s much more approachable, jovial and lighter to contrast Batman’s darkness. Yet stooping herself in just enough darkness to be a serious, intimidating threat to Gotham’s criminal underworld. It’s the same here in Batgirl of Burnside; the balance of light and dark is spot-on. Stewart & Fletcher’s story is a rollercoaster ride of fun, social/domestic issues, sinister machinations, life-and-death situations and true elation. All of which builds towards a satisfying climax.

Today’s social-media-obsessed world is utilized to great creative effect for this reinvented Batgirl; both the positives and the negatives. Barbara has always been a positive role model, but the way she uses social media to inspire people and give them hope is creative genius. And the way the inevitable online backlash comes to torment her – along with the dangers of losing her friendships with Dinah Lance (Black Canary) and new roommate Frankie Charles (a most likeable character) – really makes you feel for Barbara like never before. Underneath that cape & cowl, she’s so human, she always has been. And this makes you root for Batgirl even more.

But it’s not just the pressure and responsibilities of Barbara’s dual life that Cameron & Brenden’s writing that makes this graphic novel so rich. It’s the flashbacks to elements of The Killing Joke (which further show how Barbara dealt with/recovered from her paralysis at the Joker’s hands in this revised continuity) and homage to the shades of Gail Simone’s run. Everything that established Batgirl has been honoured and is used to fuel the emotional high-stakes of Barbara’s inevitable showdown with her mysterious antagonist. Batgirl of Burnside maybe a complete overhaul, but it never forgets the core of what makes the character so appealing.

So…radical? Undeniably. But Batgirl of Burnside is still very much Batgirl at heart. It maybe a divisive direction for this title, but it’s fun, vibrant and full of heart, which is what Batgirl SHOULD be. Babs Tarr’s artwork is so dynamic, vivid and worthy of Cameron Stewart that it cements this new creative team’s vision as one of greatness. Batgirl of Burnside is highly recommended to all fans. Remember to never judge a book by it’s cover…give it a try, then be pleasantly surprised.


Thunderbirds Are Go: Vol. 1 [DVD]
Thunderbirds Are Go: Vol. 1 [DVD]
Price: £7.74

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5-4-3-2-1...THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO AGAIN!, 30 Dec. 2015
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One of the greatest things a child could watch on telly back in the day was undoubtedly Thunderbirds. Brought to us by the late, great Gerry Anderson – and filmed in Supermarionation! – Thunderbirds were a group of ultra-sophisticated vehicles, designed and engineered to embark on all kinds of rescue missions (from the most dangerous to the near-impossible). The exploits of International Rescue (headed by Jeff Tracy and adventured by his sons Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon & John) lasted 32 classic episodes from 1965 to 1966, and established a legacy that has appealed to adults & children alike throughout the generations.

So now – to celebrate Fifty Years of this magnificent show – ITV Studios and Pukeko Pictures have united to produce a brand new Thunderbirds series for today’s audiences. Thunderbirds Are Go is currently nearing the end of its first series (spanning twenty-six episodes), and this DVD volume contains the first thirteen episodes of the new show’s run.

So how exactly does this new Thunderbirds differ from its much-beloved predecessor? Well, it’s a complete reboot. This being 2015…there are no more puppets; this is a CGI affair. Episodes are now over twenty-minutes long (as opposed to fifty-minutes originally), all done to cater for the change in today’s audiences. Jeff Tracy is missing (status unknown following a mysterious plane crash), Thunderbird 5 is completely different than how it was before, and there have been numerous character tweaks/key changes for this reinvention – one of them being Tin-Tin; now called Kayo due to copyright issues with the Hergé character. And Brains also stutters less and speaks with an Indian accent.

As one of the legion of fans who grew up watching Thunderbirds during its repeat on BBC2 in the nineties, I think this new Thunderbirds Are Go series is truly worthy of the original. Times change and so too must shows reinvent themselves, which Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (for example) have done brilliantly over the years. Thunderbirds Are Go follows the trend superbly. The premise is brought-up-to-date for today’s younger viewers, yet also stays true to the core of what the original show so appealing. The new renditions of beloved characters like the Tracy family, Brains, Kayo, Lady Penelope, Parker and arch-nemesis The Hood are treated favourably to appease old fans, yet are reinvented so creatively that it breathes new life into the classic Thunderbirds setting.

In terms of production values, this series scores more high points. The animation is beautiful, boasting tremendous lifelike detail and humanity. The use of CGI characters gives this show an advantage over its predecessor, allowing for moments of expression and sequences that the puppets would never allow. And the use of model miniatures in addition to the CGI, certainly adds that ‘real factor’ that will please older and newer generations alike. There’s a wonderful orchestral soundtrack, superb voice-acting all-round (David Graham from the old show returns as Parker!) and a presentation that hearkens back to the old series. This does indeed possess the soul of Thunderbirds.

But this new series is by no means perfect, and it’s due to the fast-pacing. In the Thunderbirds of old, episodes built-up slowly & subtly, before snowballing towards an exciting, rip-roaring climax. In the first batch of these newer episodes, it’s all danger right from the get-go. All action and doom at a breakneck speed, thus sacrificing real tension and on the edge-of-your-seat drama. Slowing things down, and being more conservative can tell much better stories, which is what the old series thrived on.

However, that’s a lesson that this show’s creative team learns very quickly, when you come round to Disc 2. The episodes make much better use of their time, and benefit as such. The episode ‘EOS’ in particular is where the new series not only finds its groove but REALLY hits its stride. ‘EOS’ is the highlight of this set, for its tense, dramatic moments and sheer emotional investment. It’s a beautiful success for the development of John Tracy and prominent use of Thunderbird 5 (both of which were sadly never given that much to do in the original series).

Following that, ‘Slingshot’, ‘Tunnels of Time’, ‘Under Pressure’ and the exhilarating ‘Skyhook’ (among other top-notch episodes) truly score big-time, what with superb development and interaction all-round, along with some good humour here-and-there. There’s also some promising sub-plots established for certain characters and the series overall (which hopefully will come to fruition), as well as nice call-backs to classic series episodes (like ‘Sun Probe’ and ‘Trapped in the Sky’).

While Thunderbirds Are Go may not yet quite have the magnificence of its glorious namesake, it’s still early days. And so far, it’s very good indeed. This 2-Disc DVD has episode selection/subtitle options but no special features, sadly (a mini-documentary discussing the Thunderbirds revival would’ve been most welcome). Nonetheless, Volume One has much to appeal to older fans, and has already become a certified hit with today’s viewers. Roll on, Volume Two! And looking forward to the next series!


Ben Collins: Stunt Driver [DVD]
Ben Collins: Stunt Driver [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Wiseman
Offered by Entertainment Direct
Price: £2.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some say...this is great stuff from Mr. Collins! I agree!, 25 Dec. 2015
Some say…all kinds of things about the enigmatic Stig. Or rather they used to before Ben Collins publicly unmasked himself and released his 2009 Autobiography “The Man In The White Suit”. Since his subsequent departure and replacement, Collins has been doing well for himself as a leading stunt-driver in various box-office hits like The Dark Knight Rises, Fast & Furious 6 and Skyfall. And now – with Top Gear having gone on indefinite hiatus following Jeremy Clarkson’s firing (and thus no proper Yuletide DVD release this year) – Mister Collins nicely fills the void with Ben Collins: Stunt Driver.

Stunt Driver has a premise similar to Top Gear’s 2011 ‘At The Movies’ DVD. There’s a great cinematic presentation to it, but whereas ‘At The Movies’ was severely disjointed, Ben Collins: Stunt Driver is much more effective with the premise.

The main-feature lasts seventy minutes and kicks off with a superbly filmed action-sequence which showcases Ben’s impressive skills – both on camera and behind the wheel – and it’s all very creative and enjoyable, leading to the would-be cinematic plot, where Ben is ‘recruited’ by the shadowy Barry to find the ideal car for an elaborate stunt sequence. The search commences, and thus translates into a very Top Gear-esque kind of programme. There’s some great stunts, hellacious car chases/aerodynamic displays, some great appearances from various car experts/pilots/celebrities, great motoring insights and cinematography…it’s all brilliant fun, which further benefits from the creative presentation that Lionsgate provide.

I must confess…I was very surprised by Collins’ presenting. Having been subjected to his silence as the Stig for so many years, it’s weird to see the former ‘Tame Racing Driver’ come out of his shell to present a show like this. And the result works. Collins is comfortable as himself in front of the camera, and does a fine job hosting in Top Gear fashion, as well as interacting with Barry in the movie-style ‘plot’. Obviously, all the various car & action sequences is where Ben truly shines, and Stig fans (as well as motoring fans in general) will be very happy seeing the results.

Stunt Driver though does suffer from bad pacing, sadly. It doesn’t change gears like Top Gear does at its peak, and at seventy-minutes, it outstays its welcome just like previous Christmas exclusives (such as ‘Apocalypse’, ‘At The Movies’ and ‘The Perfect Road Trip’). Regardless, this is a motoring DVD that still feels fresh overall, and certainly packs more effort into it than the recent Top Gear: Greatest Hits release.

There’s a great set of extras also, such as the brilliant Storyboard Comparisons to the inspired Opening & Closing sequences of Stunt Driver, and a variety of deleted scenes, outtakes, and multiple camera shots of the various cars. It’s all nice content, and one that should satisfy those who miss the days of Jezza, Hamster and Captain Slow. Ben Collins: Stunt Driver is a DVD – that although from far perfect – I’d certainly recommend.


WWE: Summerslam 2015 [DVD]
WWE: Summerslam 2015 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brock Lesnar
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brock vs. Taker, Rollins vs. Cena, and Jon Stewart and the Arrow join the party!, 29 Nov. 2015
This review is from: WWE: Summerslam 2015 [DVD] (DVD)
This year’s SummerSlam had so much promise to it, and potentially it could’ve been the best one ever. After all, the main-event is the highly anticipated rematch between Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker; the first-time since the unfathomable outcome of WrestleMania 30. Also, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins locks horns with United States Champion John Cena in a winner-takes-all match, American comedian Jon Stewart is a fine host, the Brooklyn crowd are great and there’re many more surprises on hand.

But while the majority of the show is absolutely essential, there are some really dodgy finishes that do tarnish the overall effort. Still, there’s a lot of top-notch stuff that DOES make the 2015 SummerSlam a must-see show.

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
Once again, we see these two clash (after so many times over the years), and yet Orton and Sheamus produce a solid, if somewhat lacking opener. It didn’t really do much for Sheamus during his Money in the Bank push, but it’s still a fine opener with a satisfying result. (7/10)

Fatal 4-Way WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The Prime Time Players (Champions) vs. The New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores
Ah, the New Day…truly the most entertaining act in WWE at the moment, and in the absence of the Usos, they’ve really stepped up their game and proven to be a true godsend to WWE’s tag-team division, as have the Prime Time Players and the Lucha Dragons. This four-way title bout is such good fun, with many clever and brilliant moments. A bit disjointed here-and-there, but (on-the-whole) terrific work from all participants. Excellent outcome, too! (8/10)

Rusev (w/Summer Rae) vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Lana)
Sigh…you’re kind of left feeling ‘meh’ watching this, like you know that Rusev & Ziggler could be doing so much better than being in a feud that feels contrived. Both guys nevertheless provide a solid match-up with some good spots, and Lana & Summer offer some entertaining antics, but the awkward finish and the whole atmosphere of this results in a continuing storyline that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. (7/10)

Neville & Stephen Amell vs. Stardust & King Barrett
Over the years, we’ve had some great celebrity involvement in wrestling (i.e. Mr. T, Leslie Nielsen, Lawrence Taylor, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mike Tyson…), and Stephen Amell is the latest to join the party. The Arrow star turns-in a most-admirable performance in the wrestling ring, and shows off genuine athletic prowess. Kudos to Stardust & Barrett for playing their roles perfectly, and to Neville for carrying the ball so well. Perfectly booked, sensibly done; a bout I would happily watch again! THIS is how you book a celebrity competing in the ring! (7/10)

Triple Threat Intercontinental Championship Match
Ryback (Champion) vs. The Big Show vs. The Miz
Ryback was a worthy Intercontinental Champion, and shows why in this quality triple-threat. There’s some great power displays between Ryback and the Big Show, and the Miz’s wiles/shenanigans add another nice dimension to the proceedings. Too short to amount to anything special, but still another bout I thoroughly enjoyed! (8/10)

Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper
An excellent tag match that takes me back to the glory days of The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family. The survivors of those great factions pick up where they left off in a thrilling bout that leaves you hungering for more. Another sensational match from these four! (8/10)

Winner Takes All Match
Seth Rollins (WWE Champion) vs. John Cena (United States Champion)
After Cena’s fantastic run as the U.S. Champ this year, a winner-takes-all bout with the wrestler of 2015 was logical. Seth has truly proven himself to be the man since WrestleMania 31, and this champion-vs.-champion collision against Cena is his best title defence yet. It’s absolutely thrilling stuff…with a finish that although understandable, is nevertheless something I could’ve done without! Loved the outcome, but it could’ve been done much better! (9/10)

Three-team elimination match
PCB vs. Team Bella vs. Team B.A.D.
The whole Divas’ revolution angle was something I was thankful for. Calling up the awesome Divas up from NXT (Charlotte, Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch) was smart. Their essential presence, plus the genuine enthusiasm from Paige, the Bellas, Alicia Fox, Naomi and Tamina has given the Diva’s division much-needed refreshing. But the lacklustre booking has seriously hurt the angle, and subsequently betrays the hard-work from everyone in this match. This bout does have its moments, but it’s sadly disjointed and not what it could’ve been. A shame, especially after all those amazing women’s matches in NXT! (6/10)

Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
Since coming from ROH to WWE, Kevin has truly proven to be pure gold, following a white-hot run as NXT Champion and a feud-of-the-year with John Cena. Here, Owens continues to stay fresh & motivated in this STELLAR match against Cesaro (why don’t WWE see the true value in this man?!). Hard-hitting, innovative, intense, with amazing aerial offence; this is a SUPREMELY good wrestling match! Puts you in the right mood for the main-event! Match of the night! (9/10)

Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker
Over sixteen months after the WrestleMania Streak’s end – which I personally hated – the legendary feud became more intense than ever. And the result is absolute carnage. After 25 years, the Undertaker proves once again that he can still go in a brilliant and unforgettable brawl against Lesnar. Sadly like Rollins/Cena, the frustrating finish leaves a bad taste in your mouth! From a storyline-standpoint, I can understand why it was done, but in an age where clean finishes are so much more preferable, why not just do that instead?! (9/10)

Despite a few notable blemishes, SummerSlam 2015 remains the best show WWE’s done since WrestleMania 31 earlier this year. There’s certainly much more good than bad, and there’s a nice selection of backstage interviews to enjoy on this 2-Disc DVD set. Definitely worth owning!


Shaun The Sheep - The Movie [DVD] [2015]
Shaun The Sheep - The Movie [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Richard Starzak
Offered by Bee-Entertained
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Shaun and chums make it to the big-screen! More Aardman BAA-rilliance!, 20 Sept. 2015
Shaun the Sheep has certainly come a long way since his first-appearance in 1995’s Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave. Having had four majorly successful series of his own TV show, Shaun’s popularity certainly rivals Wallace & Gromit, making the lovable sheep one of Aardman’s absolute icons and mainstays.

So now Shaun and his flock have now landed themselves their own movie. While the stop-motion charm of Shaun the Sheep has proven to be an absolute hit on telly, does it transfer well onto the big screen like (say) Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit?

This movie features Shaun and his usual flock (i.e. Shirley, Timmy and his mum), friendly & loyal sheepdog Bitzer, the Naughty Pigs, Mower Mouth the Goat, the Bull and the Farmer. So the familiarity is already there to please fans of the TV series. For the premise of this film, Shaun and the flock are tired of the daily routine of the farm. And so plan to bag themselves a day-off! Unfortunately, the sheep all soon learn the hard lesson of ‘Careful what you wish for!’, and a disaster leads to the Farmer and Bitzer being lost in the Big City. Unable to survive without them, Shaun immediately endeavours to bring them back home.

For a start, Shaun the Sheep Movie is paced perfectly, and has the ideal running-time of eighty-one minutes. This film doesn’t outstay its welcome, and like most Aardman flicks, the entire production is littered with charm, and a story that nicely tugs at your heartstrings. The whole thing is very accessible as well, so even if you haven’t watched Shaun’s own TV exploits, you needn’t worry at all. You can just sit back and enjoy the beautiful simplicity of this movie.

As always, Nick Park, Peter Lord & their Aardman chums score the usual high-points. The stop-motion animation is as endearing as ever, there’s a nice, evocative soundtrack (including renditions of the Shaun the Sheep theme with Vic Reeves), a host of new characters – such as the lovable stray-dog Slip and the nasty animal containment officer Trumper – and all manner of great gags, subtle humour, superb tension, gripping drama, tear-jerking moments and all-round brilliance. The end-result is just as good as The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run and Pirates! An Adventure With Scientists!

This DVD has some nice special-features to go along with it; namely a ‘Making the Shaun Movie’ documentary, a look at the various characters (as well as behind-the-scenes), and a host of chats with the crew involved.

Shaun the Sheep Movie is delightful, which doesn’t come as a surprise given that it’s an Aardman production. Their latest flick shows no signs of the Aardman magic losing power anytime soon. Kids will love it, adults will love it…easily five-stars.


Fast & Furious 7 [DVD]
Fast & Furious 7 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Vin Diesel
Price: £5.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Thought you could leave without saying goodbye?", 20 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Fast & Furious 7 [DVD] (DVD)
It’s still so hard to believe that Paul Walker is not here anymore.

His tragic death in October 2013 left all his loved ones and fans devastated, and left a black cloud hanging over Fast & Furious 7. Needless to say, the entire cast & crew had a difficult time with so many dilemmas. Could they finish the film? SHOULD they even? How would they handle the scenes Paul had been able to film before his passing? How would they write-off his character – one of the most beloved of the whole franchise – Brian O’ Connor?

And if they did decide to go ahead…could they match the quality of all previous films in the series?

With heavy hearts, new Director James Wan , Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), Jordanna Brewster (Mia Toretto), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges (Tej Parker), Elsa Pataky (Elena Neves) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Agent Hobbs)…all come together and produce something that not only honours Paul and the entire Fast & Furious franchise, but is also generally a great, thrill-ride action movie.

So where are we now at this point in the Fast & Furious timeline? Well, after the events of Fast 6, Dom, Brian & family gained full amnesty for their past crimes by stopping major terrorist Owen Shaw. But their victory/retirement came at a heavy cost with the death of Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot). And now, the events of Tokyo Drift (chronologically taking place after Fast 6) have finally caught up with the family.

It’s revealed that Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang)’s fatal crash in that street race was no accident. And that Owen Shaw’s bigger (vengeful) brother, Deckard was responsible for Han’s death. Now he’s targeting Dom, Brian and all that they love. And things only grow more complicated when the enemies find themselves embroiled in a fresh terrorist conflict…

Deckard Shaw – played by the one & only Jason Statham – is a terrifying (and terrific) antagonist. Naturally, Statham is as legitimate and hard-edged as ever, bringing such charisma and presence to the role. Because of this, Jason is easily the most memorable villain out of the entire franchise, be it through exchanges and fight scenes with Vin Diesel, car sequences, or just whenever he shows up on camera. The man is simply terrific from start-to-finish.

All the other cast members/characters are as brilliant as ever, and there are all-manner of nice sub-plots going on to help add substance to the main action (as always). Dom’s ongoing care & support to his lover Letty (who’s suffering from amnesia), Brian’s struggles to adapt to domestic life with Mia and their son, the painful losses of Han & Giselle affecting the team, the friendships with Agent Hobbs & Elena; all these years of Fast & Furious films demonstrate how well all these characters have been established and how well they (and the saga as a whole) continues to grow.

This is most evident in the closing moments of Fast & Furious 7, which pays perfect tribute to Paul Walker and his journey throughout the franchise. To relieve Brian O’Connor’s story from the first film (2001’s The Fast and The Furious), all the way to this seventh outing is so emotional and utterly poignant. There’s more to this franchise than JUST cars, explosions, guns, car-chases and girls, there always has been. And that truth really hits home in this movie’s climax, as does the realization of how much Paul will be missed, and what a prolific actor and class human being he was.

Furious 7’s overall plot and action are just as thrilling as any other outing in the series. There’re twists & turns, some welcome new faces to the franchise – Nathalie Emmanuel (hacktivist Ramsay), Djimon Hounsou (terrorist Jakande), MMA Fighter Ronda Rousey (in a cameo role as Kara) and Kurt Russell(!) as ‘Mr Nobody’ – and an exhilarating array of new stunts, fight scenes and car sequences. It all manages to stay fresh as ever, and again speaks volumes of the franchise; how it’s able to keep away from growing stale.

Is it all the mark of perfection? Sadly, no. At a running time of two hours, twelve minutes, Fast & Furious 7 drags severely in places, and the end result would’ve benefitted with better pacing. However, what truly makes this Furious seventh outing perhaps the most outstanding entry in the series is its whole respectful & beautiful way of saying goodbye to Paul Walker and Brian O’Connor, the journey that began in 2001.

This single disc-edition DVD also comes with an excellent bonus feature ‘Back To The Starting Line’, a terrific mini-documentary complete with cast interviews and a behind-the-scenes look of the movie’s production. Further making this is an essential tribute for Paul Walker fans, and fans of Fast & Furious in general.


Laddies and Generalmen
Laddies and Generalmen
by Paul Gubbins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel that hits home on so many things, 20 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Laddies and Generalmen (Paperback)
Laddies & Generalmen is the brainchild of one Paul Gubbins, a writer/editor/journalist who makes his English novel debut with the strange story of one Wang Ti.

Wang is Chinese student who has come over to Britain with the dream of enrolling at Cram Vale University and gaining a higher-education and degree. Sadly, the innocent and naïve Wang’s simple desire is confounded by lack of cash, the foreign culture and the (always problematic) language barrier. Poor Wang is a magnet for all kinds of trouble, and sadly makes all-too-many enemies and very few friends…

Wang immediately merits sympathy, and his innocence and simplistic, honest nature makes his character so endearing. Paul writes him and his tale with plenty of charm and good humour, but there’s also plenty of strong supporting characters (with varying degrees of qualities and faults) and numerous sub-plots that culminate in a satisfying and plausible ending. Gubbins produces a quality piece of work here, with his biggest achievements being his grasp of character, and capturing the essence of society today.

From arrogant or dozy university tutors, useless police officers, snobbish & lazy councillors, misunderstanding & rude strangers, and evil gangsters/bullies…Paul showcases plenty of the bad men & women who plague society and are willing to either shun Wang, incapable of aiding or take advantage of him, but the writer does also contrast this by reminding us of those few good & honest men & women who are much more willing and able to help this university student get the chance he deserves.
And for all his flaws and poor circumstances, Wang’s resolve and loyalty to the few good friends he has, ultimately speaks volumes of his good nature & determination.

Laddies and Generalmen is written very well, paced nicely, with all the character-focuses/domestic situations coming together to form an actual plot, and a story that ends up feeling very complete. Paul Gubbins’ work is overall excellent, and despite perhaps being a tad incredible in places, this is a novel that I’d very much recommend to all readers. Top-notch.


The LEGO Movie 70807: MetalBeard's Duel
The LEGO Movie 70807: MetalBeard's Duel
Offered by Prestwich Trading Ltd
Price: £64.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Lego sets in this range!, 18 July 2015
Needless to say, The Lego Movie was as wild, colourful and imaginative as the toy itself. Certainly, Metalbeard was a character (part of an unforgettable cast) that helped personify this, and for fans of The Lego Movie (or Lego collectors in general), this particular set of the tie-in range is a must.

Metalbeard’s Duel includes instructions and enough Lego to build Metalbeard, one of Lord Business’ Micro-Managers, and three Mini-Figures from the film (Larry the Construction Worker, one of Bad Cop’s robot officers, and a Skeletron). Both Metalbeard and the Micro-Manager are reasonably easy for kids to assemble themselves, but of course, it is fun if grown-ups join in!

Metalbeard himself has very good articulation (better than even the old Exo-Force sets), and is an accurate replica from the movie, with all-manner of features and accessories. The Micro-Manager likewise has great pose-ability, accessories and features (such as a cockpit for the Robot Police Officer Mini-Figure) to fit in. Kids will get bags of enjoyment in having the two figures battle each other, and the addition of Mini-Figures will certainly help create inspiration for re-enacting scenes from the movie.

Word-of-warning for parents: Metalbeard’s Duel DOES contain projectiles! Both the Metalbeard and Micro-Manager figures fire missiles, so make sure young children are careful with where they shoot!

All-in-all, Metalbeard’s Duel is one of the best sets in the whole Lego Movie range to own. Kids, fans, collectors and stop-motion experts will all love it. Truly one-to-own!


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