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J. Collins

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Annabelle [DVD] [2014]
Annabelle [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Ward Horton
Price: £4.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely pointless and devoid of any scares, 26 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Annabelle [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
"Annabelle" is the completely pointless and unnecessary prequel/spinoff to 2013's "The Conjuring"

Ward Horton and the unfortunately named Annabelle Wallis star as John and Mia, the most boring and bland couple to ever grace the screen. For some reason Mia has a weird obsession with creepy and ugly looking antique dolls, so when her gormless husband buys her "Annabelle" (who looks like a cross between the Bride of Chucky and Billy the puppet from Saw) she is overjoyed. Unfortunately this doll is the same one which scared the hell out of everyone in the opening scene of the vastly superior aforementioned film, and before you can say "dolly dearest" really bad things start happening, such as the Satanic cultists who break in after murdering the neighbours. In a scene ripped straight from "Childs Play" one of the cult members (named Annabelle....yawn!) transfers her soul to Mia's new doll, before biting the dust, and that's when s**t hits the fan. What follows is some fodder about the demon doll trying to possess John and Mia's new baby. Honestly though it all feels so pointless and adds nothing to the Annabelle story. It just leaves you feeling more confused.

"Annabelle" is is a bland and cheaply made film that exists solely to make money off the back of The Conjuring, which was a huge success. It is a rushed and badly packaged horror film that borrows relentlessly from better films and the scares are so contrived that you will see them coming from a mile off. Take for example the cheap jump scares, the shrieking violins that make up 90% of the score and the many hilariously obvious stereotypes (the young and successful middle-class white couple, the kind spiritual black healer who must sacrifice herself, the crazy Satanic cult, the innocent child etc). The Conjuring was successful because James Wan is an expert at both orchestrating scares and writing characters that you actually care about. With "Annabelle" you get non of this. You get lots of pointless scenes involving bland 2 dimensional characters and a plot that borders on insanity. The ending is so ridiculous that it becomes unintentionally hilarious. The worst part of the whole thing though is the fact that Annabelle doesn't even do anything! She is completely inanimate and just sort of sits there looking creepy. She doesn't kill anyone, harm anyone, cause any mischief or do anything that could be remotely classed as scary. A film about a creepy doll should be filled with lots of eerie moments but Annabelle is so boring it defies belief. The potential to make this scary was there. In the first 5 minutes of The Conjuring, Annabelle was scary...she was evil, sinister and her scene was perhaps the best in the whole film. Here though she is just doesn't do anything. There is one scary scene in the film involving a pretty frightening looking demon lurking in the basement, but what has that got to do with an evil doll? This film is about ANNABELLE, so why does it think it's Rosemary's Baby?

Don't bother seeing Annabelle. Wait for sequel to The Conjuring. I can't believe James Wan was a producer to this idiotic humdrum. He must have fallen asleep when penning ideas for this as the end result is a boring and unscary piece of rubbish.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2015 10:32 PM BST

In The Lonely Hour
In The Lonely Hour
Price: £3.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Album of the Year, 9 Sept. 2014
This review is from: In The Lonely Hour (Audio CD)
Such a great album from a wonderfully talented young man. I love Sam Smith!

Divergent [Blu-ray] [2014]
Divergent [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Kate Winslet
Price: £5.00

62 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faithful Adaptation. Good Performances., 19 April 2014
Based on the young adult novel (series) of the same name, Divergent is the story of a post-Apocalyptic Dystopian society (a future Chicago), where districts and livelihoods are seperated into "factions" according to personality traits and human virtues such as intelligence, bravery, selflessness and truth etc. These factions are known "Abnegation", "Amity", "Candor", "Dauntless" and "Erudite" The story focusses on Triss (Shailene Woodley) a young female from Abnegation (selfless) who on the day of the "choosing ceremony" (where 16 year olds choose which faction they will belong to) chooses to join "Dauntless" (brave) who police the streets of Chicago. In choosing to live in "Dauntless", Triss must leave her family behind, including brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) who chooses to live in Erudite (intelligent) and her parents who remain in Abnegation (who govern all 5 of the factions). In order to succeed in Dauntless and avoid being "factionless" (the state of failing your human traits and being banished to the streets with no identity) Triss must prove she has what it takes to be brave, strong, courageous and fearless. Whilst she proves to be both brave and fearless, she also shows signs of being intelligent, selfless and truthful, making her "Divergent", a state which is considered dangerous by the Government. In order to avoid being killed, Triss must keep her "Divergent" status secret.

Meanwhile, Erudite run by the tyranical Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is plotting to overthrow Abnegation to gain control of the whole city. When the citizens of Dauntless, including Triss's new friends Christina, Will and Al are drugged using a serum which causes them to be under the control of Jeanine (in order to kill and eliminate the people of Abnigation) Triss joins forces with a Dauntless trainer named Four (Theo James) who she had previously developed feelings for, her parents (Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd) and Caleb to stop Erudite from taking control of the whole system. She must also avoid her own iminent death once her status as being "Divegent" is revealed.
"Divergent" is similar in context to other young adult Dystopian fantasies, such as Suzanne Collin's "Hunger Games" trilogy. Both feature a headstrong adolescent female lead who is thrust into conflict and war. Both feature a power-hungry antagonist who wants to control the whole of society for their own selfish needs and both feature a male sidekick whom the protagonist falls in love with. However whilst Divergent and The Hunger Games share similar traits they are also very different. Katniss's goal in Collins series was to free society from the clutches of an evil elitist freemason government and protect her family from war and anhialation. Triss on the other hand is on a journey of self discovery. Her aim is to find out where she really belongs and how she can use her status as being Divergent to help others whilst maintaining strength and the intelligence to out-wit her enemies.

Woodley is a great aspiring actress and she makes Triss both likeable and believable. She is a flawed heroine, much like Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss and regularly requires the assistance of her mentor "Four" (played by an angsty Theo James) however in the third act when the action really picks up she completely steals the show and gives Triss the girl power you'd expect from a kick-ass protagonist. Kate Winslet hams up her role as super bitch Jeanine and whilst her pasty faced demeanour sometimes seems too unlikely (after all Winslet is reknowned for playing the girl-next-door types) you can tell she is having a blast. Jai Courtney on the otherhand steals the show as Eric, the truly dispicable and wicked leader of "Dauntless" who subjects his new students to a terrifying boot-camp of physical and mental tests. Eroc makes for a very disturbing villain and is in my eyes the main antagonist of the whole film (and book).

Also unlike The Hunger Games, there is far more focus on the impending war and action and less focus on the romantic sub plot involving Triss and Four. There are a few romantic scenes, however this is pleasingly even further away from Twilight than The Hunger Games was (which focussed a lot on the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale). The action scenes are loud and brash (gunfire, combat etc) however the psychological tests which Triss undergoes are what make the film tense, thrilling and exciting. One scene where Triss must jump from a tall building into the abyss will have your heart racing.

The musical score is very dystopian. Light and peppy one moment and dark and moody the next. It tells a story in its own right.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys these kinds of stories. It is ultimately a story of sacrifice (there are a few tear-jerker moments) and self belief, however there are elements of family, war, poverty, ignorance, racism and romance thrown into the mix. Divergence is an emlntertaining way to spend a couple of hours and fans of the book will be pleased to know that it remains pretty faithful throughout.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2015 10:33 PM BST

The Harry Hill Movie [DVD]
The Harry Hill Movie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Harry Hill
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £2.90

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It. Great Fun!, 4 April 2014
This review is from: The Harry Hill Movie [DVD] (DVD)
This is a really good family film, especially if you're a fan of the man himself.

It stars Harry Hill, Julie Walters, Matt Lucas, Jim Broadbent, Simon Bird, Sheridan Smith and a few other well known British faces and it is essentially a road movie involving a hamster (voiced by Jonny Vegas). If you like slapstick and one liners (usual of Hill's TV shows You've Been Framed and TV Burp) then you will probably like this as well.

It is aimed at kids but a few of the innuendous adult reerences are funny, and Walters steals the show as Hill's zany Nan.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2014 5:17 PM BST

The Devil's Due [DVD]
The Devil's Due [DVD]
Dvd ~ Zach Gilford
Price: £5.00

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously Bad, 1 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Devil's Due [DVD] (DVD)
This has got to be one of the worst "horror" films ever made. It is shockingly derived of any thrills or tension and it borrows heavily from superior films, with a plot ripped straight from the inferior "Rosemary's Baby" and the filming style of "Paranormal Activity." Throw in some possession fodder drafted in from "The Exorcist" and you have the making of a blatant rip off.

The story centres on a young, good looking and recently married couple named Zach and Samantha (Zach Gilford and Alison Miller) who whilst on their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic encounter a sinister taxi driver who offers to take them to a "amazing bar" (basically the exact same set up as the Hostel series). Of course this underground club is run by malevolent satanist hicks who drug the couple and perform some stereotypical ritual on Samantha. The rest of the film is basically the couple learning that Samantha is pregnant and her increasingly strange decline into possesed nutjob. Could she be carrying the Antichrist? Do you care? (cue lots of scenes of possession, the main actress walking around in the dark, writing weird symbols on the floor, eating raw meat and attacking children and animals respectively)

What makes Devils Due such a terrible film is that it is neither scary nor intriguing. We've seen almost every scene a million times before in other films, but execued ten times better. From the creepy cab driver and underground black-market club (Hostel) to the evil child (The Omen) and the shaky found footage (The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity). The main characters descent into madness is also a completely second rate rehash of Rosemary's Baby. I'm surprised they didn't just call it that to be honest and market it as a remake.

In the last few years we've seen dozens and dozens of possession and evil child movies. When will Hollywood come up with something original? Eli Roth called this "very very scary." I can only wonder how much he was paid for those kind words.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2016 10:40 PM BST

Frozen [DVD]
Frozen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Buck
Price: £6.99

209 of 248 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Disney Film Since The Lion King, 15 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Frozen [DVD] (DVD)
Frozen is a phenominon. It is a magical and emotional experience that will stay with you for days, weeks, months after you see it. It is by far the best Disney film since the likes of The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. Everything from the animation to the toe tapping musical numbers are breathtaking.

It is a heartwarming tale about sisterhood and the importance of family. Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell put in simply spellbinding performances as two sisters forced to grow up apart due to a terrible gift/curse. Menzels ensemble musical piece "Let It Go" deserves a Grammy because it is just so so so good.

I cannot recommend this film enough. Kids will love it due to Oalaf the hilarious wisecracking snowman and adults will appreciate the romance and love in the unbreakable ties asociated with family and sisterhood.

Buy Frozen and keep it forever!
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2014 1:34 PM GMT

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones [DVD]
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andrew Jacobs
Price: £4.00

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another Nail In The Coffin, 6 Jan. 2014
Here are 10 reasons why Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a pretty bad film all round...
1) It isn't scary. In fact they tried to make it funny. A Paranormal Activity film shouldn't be funny. The last 20 minutes are mildly creepy but it's hard to take the horror seriously when the previous 60 minutes has been a self parody.
2) The writing is sloppy. Christopher Landan who wrote the screenplay for the previous 3 films steps up as director, writer and editor for the fifth outing, however he seems to have forgotten how to structure a decent script. Characters say and do things that no normal human being would even consider. More on this later.
3) The title is misleading as very little "paranormal activity" actually occurs. Landan instead decides to venture down the possesion/exorcism route which has already been done to death. I can think of least a dozen exorcist movies that have been released in the last few years (Exorcist: The Beginning, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism I & II, The Possession and Insidious to name but a few.)
4) The narrative is all over the place. What made the original a great horror film was the fact that it was so simple. A nice middle class couple suspect their surburban home is haunted so they set up cameras and record the "activity." Here we have everything from witchcraft, demonology, devil worship and even time travel thrown into the mix. The PA franchise gets more and more complicated with each film that is released and this one is no exception.
5) The characters are dumb. I mean really dumb. Take for example the main antagonist Jesse. He develops some kind of supernatural ability where he can manipulate gravity and send people flying hundreds of feet in the air by touching them and yet no one bats an eyelid.
6) The characters are unlikeable. We are supposed to root for a guy who thinks it's cool to have sex with a random girl in his murdered neighbours apartment?
7) It's a rip off of Chronicle. A far better found-footage film that deals with the main character developing supernatual superhuman abilities.
8) The scares are predictable. Someone hears a noise, goes to investigate but can't find anything...suddenly someone jumps out and scares the bejezus out of them but oh was just the friend joking around. Lame.
9) The ending is the same as PA3 and PA4 involving witches chasing the main characters through a house until they all get it.
10) The whole time travel element they confusingly tacked on is obviously meant to start the ball rolling for a whole new set of sequels. Paranormal Activity 5 is already scheduled for a October 2014 release. When will they stop?
PA: The Marked Ones is just a bad film. It can't decide whether to be scary or funny and the loose connection they throw in to link this with the first film is more confusing than intriguing. It is a silly and predictable film. You know who will bite the dust and how they will die long before it happens.
The actors all do a reasonably good job but their characters are annoying, dumb and poor carciatures of Latino stereotypes. Take for example the overly zany and hysterical Grandmother. There is also a lack of storyline. There is only so much these films can do before they start getting repeatetive. They should really have stopped after Part 3.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 30, 2014 6:01 PM BST

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 [DVD]
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kristen Stewart
Price: £3.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Finale, 16 Mar. 2013
Unlike previous entries in the Twilight Saga (including Breaking Dawn: Part 1) Part 2 is action packed, exciting and allows for Kristen Stewart to do something other than swoon over her puppy-eyed lover Robert Pattinson. She turns Bella from a angst-ridden Mary-Sue into a kick ass heroine and actually does a great job carrying the movie. She also looks beautiful as a "newborn" vampire.

The supporting cast were fantastic, injecting a bit of much needed humor amongst scenes of bubbling romance and bloodshed. Apart from a couple of scenes of hokey CGI (the baby Renesmee and a hilarious hunting scene involving Bella at the beginning) the special effects are superb. The pace is slow in the first hour but the last 30 minutes are thrilling and the battle scene at the end is well choreographed and pretty shocking and surprising if you are unfamiliar with the books.

I enjoyed seeing the characters develop, especially Taylor Lautner who does a great job in his final portrayal of Jacob Black (my favorite character throughout the film and book series). But it is Stewart who steals the show. She has grown into a respectable actress and she has turned a wooden and unlikable character (in the novel) into someone you root for in the film. The actress who portrays the young Renesmee is also ridiculously cute.

The soundtrack is amazing! "I Love You For a Thousand Years" by Christina Perri and "Heart of Stone" by Iko are 2 of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. The former had me tearing up. It really is a stunning song. Also "Bellas Lullaby" from the previous films makes a return and it has been remastered and mixed. I really enjoyed the musical score in this.

One thing that did disappoint me is that Dakota Fanning is massively underused. She plays perhaps the greatest villain in the whole series, and yet Jane does not get a single line of dialogue in this film. She clocks in around 30 seconds screen time when she should in fact play a prominent role in the fight scenes. I never found Aro (the leader of the Volturi) to be menacing and Michael Sheen makes him comical with his stupid facial expressions and one liners. This is something that bothered me about this film.

On a final note I also love how they played homage to all the cast members throughout the whole series before the closing credits (even those who did not feature in the final movie) that was a nice touch.

I expect most people will either love or loathe this but for me, as someone who is on the fence with the books, I have to admit I think this more than does justice to Smeyers' Breaking Dawn. In fact it is even better than the novel which I found tended to drag and didn't make much sense. Bill Condon, who directed this and Part 1 also added a lot more action into the final battle scene than is featured in the book.

See this if you've seen all the others. see it if you're a Twilight fan and see it if you like a bit of action and romance. If you don't like the Twilight Saga then you should probably stay clear.

American Horror Story - Season 1 [DVD]
American Horror Story - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dylan McDermott
Offered by Direct Entertainment Supplies
Price: £9.72

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blindingly Scary Haunted House Drama, 20 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
American Horror Story is the unique, fresh and scary horror series created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the guys behind Glee and Nip n Tuck. Since its initial run in October 2011 it has achieved worldwide fame and acclaim. Actress Jessica Lange even won a Golden Globe award for her performance in this. The first season centres around "the murder house" a malevolent haunted house that seems to claim the life of anyone foolish enough to stick around. It features Dylan Mcdermott and Connie Britton as Ben and Vivien, a couple who have been torn apart due to the miscarriage of a baby boy and his subsequent infidelity with a younger student. They move to LA with their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) as they believe it is the only way to save their family from falling apart. After moving into their new "dream home" the family meets numerous strange and interesting characters, including their eccentric actress neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange) her daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) who has downs syndrome and the mysterious housekeeper Moira (Francis Conroy/Alexandra Breckenridge.) Ben, a psychiatrist also begins therapy sessions with a troubled boy named Tate who may or may not have been responsible for a shoot-out massacre at his old high school. Tate also begins "seeing" Violet and ultimately ends up being the centre of the troubles in the house. From there, things take a terrifying turn as the family fight to stay alive in the house that knows no bounds.

As this is a haunted house-type drama series there are plenty of scares and a whole bunch of gruesome ghosts, but this is very much a character driven story about trying to hold onto your sanity and save your family from the greater evils in life. Each episode begins by explaining a little bit more about the history of the house and some of the ghosts who reside there (like how they died and why they are bound to reside at the house.) The main story then begins and each chapter adds depth to a family who are on the verge of falling apart. McDermott plays a man struggling to find himself, his wife is stricken with grief for their unborn child and the ultimate betrayal from her husband and the teenage daughter has a hard time with bullies at her new school and the psychotic relationship with Tate who is antagonistic and narcissistic. So much happens to these characters that any "supernatural" occurances (and yes there are many) almost seem a relief as it takes away from dealing heads on with the obvious problems that are tearing the family apart. The characters who appear throughout the season are all interesting and layered and some scenes are unsettling to say the least. There are lots of jump scares but what works the most is the creepy atmosphere that seeps through the story. There are also lots of sadomasochistic sex scenes (this is a real life couple trying desperately to add spice into their relationship) but it is mostly done tastefully. There is also lots of violence, some of which is pretty disturbing (children getting their throats cut, people being shot in their beds, set on fire etc) but these moments are few and far between and actually add a lot to the story so they are not just scenes thrown in for shock value.

This was obviously penned to shock critics and audiences across the world. Everything is thrown in- hardcore sex, countless bloody murders, children with downs syndrome being verbally abused etc, but if you can look past this then you will discover an interesting story that twists and turns and keeps you guessing til the very end. The acting is superb, especially from Lange and Evan Peters as the disturbed Tate. The dialogue between the characters is also very intriguing. The script goes from serious to tongue-in-cheek at times. Lange plays a deliciously evil character underneath but her bittersweet appearance and behavior makes her almost comical to the audience who know her real motives. Farmiga also steals the show from time to time as the angst-y teen with a fully loaded mouth to boot. Each actor and their alter ego ultimately does a very god job at convincing which is great to see in a horror driven TV show.

The only thing that takes away from the entertainment are the cliches that sometimes rear their ugly head. Every single haunted house cliche is thrown in (though sometimes it feels as though this is done as an in-joke or homeage to other films) however AHS is mostly so scary that it never really matters. The basic plot is ripped directly from The Amityville Horror (family buys an expensive house for half the price due to a number or murders that occurred there, family moves into house to try and build a relationship) and the main protagonist Ben could almost be Jack Nicholson from The Shining (he starts to lose his mind etc) but overall this still feels fresh and there are interesting twists added to keep the story moving.

This is definitely worth your time. It will keep you gripped and on the edge of your seat. The story is rich, fun, interesting and you can actually relate to the characters. Yes there is plenty of violence and it is also pretty sexy as well but this was never made for kids so hopefully you can look past that and see this for what it is- a horror series that aims to scare the living daylights out of you.

Mirror, Mirror (DVD)
Mirror, Mirror (DVD)
Dvd ~ Julia Roberts
Price: £2.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 4 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Mirror, Mirror (DVD) (DVD)
Mirror Mirror was the first of two Snow White-related stories to be released in summer 2012 (the other being Snow White and the Huntsman) however whereas the latter was more of an action thriller, Mirror Mirror opts for the cute, comical and fluffy side of Grimm's Snow White story. Unfortunately uninspiring directing and laughable overacting from the cast ultimately ends up making this feel like a big budgeted pantomime. Director Tarem Singh twists the story by incorporating new elements (such as the "beast" which lives in the forrest and terrorizes the townsfolk and the Queen who now wants to steal Prince Charming for herself) however his storytelling is pretty stale and so his attempt at recreating the fairytale is rather benign.

Julia Roberts is the jewel in a rather dull lopsided crown but she tends to overact to a ridiculous level which makes her evil queen character more annoying than anything. Still she steals the show and has the best lines so her performance can be forgiven. Lily Collins plays Snow White and despite being likeable and lovely to look at is rather dull and wooden for the "heroine" character. She is also sidelined by Roberts who basically dominates the film leaving Collins with little to do but wander around looking stony eyed. Perhaps the worst performance is owed to Arnold Hammer who chews the scenery as an obnoxious self aware Prince who takes sexism to a whole new level. He is especially annoying and unfortunately plays a significant part of the plot (these prince characters have always been irratating but at least in the Disney versions they were merely a two dimensional plot device rather than a main character, not so much here.) The rest of the cast includes Nathan Lane of Mousehunt fame who plays the bumbling servant of the queen. He is a pretty uninteresting character but Lane gets to at least ad lib some funny lines and not forgetting the seven dwarves who have gone from loveable gold miners to outcast rogues and thieves. These are a far cry from the cute dwarves in the original stories. Less doc and dopey more rough and angry, the dwarf characters in Mirror Mirror are pretty mean spirited and unlikeable to say the least.

One thing Mirror Mirror does well is imagery. The sets and costumes are beautiful and very "fairytale" like however a pretty picture does not a great story make. Too much is wrong with this to make it anything but mediocre. At times it is admittedly funny, but it is more "oh" than "WOW" and the positives are few and far between. Still, you should probably see it and decide for yourself whether it is a good take on the classic story. For me though it fails at being anything but an annoying spectacle of irratating characters and pretty scenery.

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