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Cypher  (2 Disc Edition) [DVD] [2003]
Cypher (2 Disc Edition) [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Northam
Offered by PressPlay
Price: £3.58

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shallow but very intriguing and entertaining, 14 Mar. 2004
There is less than meets the eye to Cypher. Though not based on a Philip K. Dick story, it might as well be, its story of brain-washing, industrial/corporate subterfuge, moral dilemma, confusion and loss of identity fitting in well with the likes of Minority Report.
But for all the implicatins of its plot and narrative red-herrings, this is not the byzantine, troubling sci-fi flick it appears to be.
Technically, its up there with Spielberg's film (albeit on much more frugal rescources), aided no end by outstnding, mind-numbing cinematography, forever indicating the steady process of dehumanisation, astute art-direction, utterly assured direction and chameleon-like performances. But for all its fantastic technique, it never offers any powerful sci-fi themes to give its superb style any substance. Bummer.
But the film's still great - well-worth watching. There IS vision here, if a superficial one. As the story-line advances, director Vincenzo Natali unravels numerous troubling details and makes some dangers far less threatening to his protagonist. But the film is never less than intriguing, and maintains your attention throughout.
It's great fun, and if you wanna see it, just go for it. I think the less you know about the plot the better, and some may be angered by the films lack of muscle. But as a cosmetic enterprise its a triumph, with an intelligent cinematic imagination, and more than Friday night food and booze fodder.

Lone Wolf 2100 Volume 2: The Language of Chaos: Language of Chaos v. 2
Lone Wolf 2100 Volume 2: The Language of Chaos: Language of Chaos v. 2
by Mike Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, solid fun - but has yet to really stun us, 18 Jan. 2004
The second collection in the on-going Lone Wolf 2100 saga finds Itto and Daisy trudging on with the same grim resolve, but with us none the wiser as to their destination and past.
Writer Mike Kenny and artist Francisco Ruiz Velasco continue on the same strengths of the first collection, and the same flaws. There is a nagging sense that there is less than meets the eye here. To their credit, Kenny and Velasco keep things bounding along, and their visual imagination is oen to rival Katsuhiro Otomo's. Furthermore, the characters thrown in that waylay Itto and Daisy are just as vivid and well drawn as in the previous volume. The corporate intrigue angle continues to develop, and Kenny has plenty of narrative nouse: there are grim on the horizon for our beleaguered travelers.
Yet, this is still too short. Yeah, it's still stylish, and there is plenty of entertaining action. It's also portentous and too reverential. Fans of the original Manga will find plenty or in-jokes, and the story-line is never less-than mature. But one wishes for a little more humour and content: 10 quid is perhaps a little too much.
Still, if you enjoyed the first volume, this is well worth a look, and your likely to continue reading as the series progresses. One thing is laudable: while Kenny and Velasco have yet to really stun us with their 're-imagining' of the Lone Wolf saga, it appears they have plenty of energy left to keep thing moving to a (potentially) stunning climax.

Lone Wolf 2100 Volume 1: Shadows On Saplings: Shadows on Saplings v. 1
Lone Wolf 2100 Volume 1: Shadows On Saplings: Shadows on Saplings v. 1
by Mike Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a look, 8 Dec. 2003
This 're-imagining' of the original 'Lone Wolf and Cub' manga is great fun, but the collections are very short for the money asked.
The artwork is nice and stylish, creating some dazzling cityscapes while choreographing the bloodletting with consummate skill. Nonetheless, re-reading reveals shortcomings and occasional short cuts that reduce the novelty (see and you'll understand).
Mike Kenny does a pretty fine job yanking the story up to date, giving a viscous edge and he isn't afraid to add in some pretty scabrous satire. To his credit he interweaves what is a pretty basic narrative with some nice asides. While very familiar (if not predictable), they remain solidly enjoyable, beefing up tried and tested ideas for a jaded 21st century readership.
But try as it might, it never really recaptures the romanticism of the original manga. Sure, there's atmosphere, but it all passes by too quickly in too little amounts to build it up. It's epic, yet restricted. The collaborators show great versatility in moving from place to place and assurance when covering the past and present aspects of the story, but there just isn't enough originality on show to make you sit up.
The titles recall mythology, archaism, romance, mystery and philosophy, yet it's all really style over substance. Yes, there is something genuinely intelligent beneath the surface, and Kenny does a great job delineating his world, but it's too reverential: there is no independence from the source and too few individual flourishes.
But don't get me wrong. Lone Wolf 2100 is well done and easy to read over your beer. The storyline is engaging and astute and the violence nice and (very gory). Furthermore, Kenny and Velasco show they have more to come by not revealing too much.
It's just that characters, plot and incident won't inspire.

Soldier [DVD] [1998]
Soldier [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Kurt Russell
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £14.95

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad but watchable, 12 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Soldier [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Contrary to popular belief, Soldier is not the total combat-clunker some over-zealous critics would have you believe. It is, basically, a flat-footed, brutish and sentimental exercise in carnage. Unfortunately this means connoiseurs of crud had better look elsewhere, cos this is only bad, not laughably bad.
Apparently intended to be the 'sequel in spirit' to Blade Runner (!), this is just another slice of anodyne Hollywood sci-fi with only more blood and guts than usual to distinguish it. Kurt Russell is Todd, a Veteran American soldier who has been raised from birth to kill and destroy indiscriminately and without question. In other words, he's one tough mother, and he's the sarge (not an officer so in American film terminology he can't be stupid). Anyway, poor ol' Todd is rendered obsolete when a pompous, pouting Jason Isaacs presents his new genetically modified hard nuts to replace the aging veterans. Following a scuffle to demonstrate the fitness of the new troops, in which Jason Scott Lee's Caine emerges triumphant, Todd is left for dead, and is dumped unceremoniously on an almighty rubbish tip of a planet.
However, he comes to and is rescued by the shipwrecked, forgotted settlers who are making the best of the inhospitable world. Nursed back to health (by Connie Nielsen's bosom), Todd expeiences feelings of remorse, hope, friendship, kinship, rejection, anger etc. etc. He even takes a shine to a cute ickle kid and plants vegetables. Unfortunatley, the very officers who cast him off return with the fresh, un-tested super troops on a search-and-destroy exercise, and the battle-hardened Todd is called to defend his newfound home and friends. Then lots of stuff gets blown up or shot up, there is much spilling of blood and mutilation and Kurt proves to Jason that oldies can still much butt in the face of youth's ignorance.
Soldier is a lousy sci-fi war film when to compared to supieror flicks like Aliens. Rarely generating any atmosphere or suspense (save for one or two moments late on) it is also flat-footed, abandons any promising socio-political comment, offers no intelligent reading of science, batters the audience with vomit-inducing sentimentality and fails to explore its supposedly tormented hero.
To give Russell some credit, he does a good job with the dozen lines he's been handed and his deadened eyes speak volumes. But the rest of the cast are pretty lacklustre, saddled with a dumb script (from David Webb Peoples!!!) that gives them nothing to chew. It saves the majority of its action for the last 25 minutes to the first two thirds offer little entertainment and it becomes clear early on that while Todd's enemies may be fit, they're also dumber than bags of hammers. We know he's gonna trounce them, so there's little claustrophibic tension. And those commanding officers are so stupid, you feel like bashing the TV screen in.
But when directing the bloodshed, Paul W.S. Anderson is in his element, with the widescreen cinematography serving him well. It's flashy, but crunchy and occasionally inventive. And those flamethrowers look good in slo-mo. Kurt can shoot just as well as Arnie can with a mini gun, so you're likely to go away from this film entertained, and the effects, while sub-standard, aren't terrible.
This is just as dumb as the bad guys who get killed, but it's good fun for a Friday night with Chinese take away and beer. And you'll need lots of beer, believe me.

The Long Riders [VHS]
The Long Riders [VHS]
Offered by pkeylock
Price: £9.78

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mean, lean, lovingly crafted western, 2 Nov. 2000
This review is from: The Long Riders [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This western is less concerned about telling a true story about the James - Younger gang (although it is very accurate and authentic), which terrorised banks after the American Civil War, and more concerned about giving a lovingly crafted tale about the forms of which the wastern, family, bank robbery and traditional male values. As the gang of serious, laconic men ride around, avoiding the Marshals, building a reputation and robbing banks to bring hom the bacon, we see a group of serious, prepared men who honour their set of values and the family, looking after their own. The film also honours the classic westerns of Hawks, Ray, Man and Huston with the depiction of violence, and even shows some of Sergio Leone in its close ups of gunfiring. It is a terrifically rounded western, but it can also be seen as a view of men doing what they think they have to do to stay alive in a violent world.
Director Walter Hill gives us the funeral, hoe down, shoot out, and execution of vengence to show just how tight kint these men are, also doing it through a wonderful script and using real life brothers to play the gang members.It is essential viewing for any western lover, as it is partly a disection of the genre itself, but for any other cinema goer, the fateful, slow motion, heist gone wrong at the town of Northfield is incredible and woth seeing, and that pre-dates Tarantino by about ten years.

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