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Darren Harrison (Washington D.C.)

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When Eight Bells Toll [DVD]
When Eight Bells Toll [DVD]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Price: £6.04

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 007 movie that EON never made, 8 Dec. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: When Eight Bells Toll [DVD] (DVD)
That's right, after years of searching for this hidden gem, the Region 2 DVD release of Alistair MacLean's WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL (1971) arrived in my Maryland mailbox today and, for once my memories have not let me down - it's fast paced, fun and as entertaining as I remember it from British TV years ago.
Far suprerior to the 007 movie of that year (Diamonds Are Forever) and of any year actually, WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL recounts the investigation by a British secret agent into the hijacking of gold bullion ships off the coast of Scotland. We have (a very young looking) Anthony Hopkins as Calvert (the secret agent), Robert Morley as his boss and Charles Gray (providing the voice for cancer stricken Jack Hawkins) as the sinister villain (though nobody seems to be quite as they appear in this story).
This movie simply oozes with that Bondian touch, beautiful women, exciting action, witty dialogue and a tense, intelligent, suspenseful plot (based on MacLean's book, with a screenplay by the author himself).
If you have not yet checked this out...you really are missing out big time. I have not had two hours of spy action fun like this in many years.

Jason And The Argonauts [2000] [DVD]
Jason And The Argonauts [2000] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason London

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sluggish version of Jason legend, 24 Nov. 2004
When I saw this latest version of the story of Jason and his search for the fabled Golden Fleece was scheduled for broadcast on the Hallmark channel I was intrigued. Not only did the movie feature not one, but two of the most beautiful women in Hollywood today - Natasha ('Species') Henstridge and Jolene ('Enterprise') Blalock, but it also promised four hours of grand entertainment.
Why then was I, about an hour into it, looking wistfully over at my DVD collection and in particular the classic Harryhausen version of the tale and contemplating what could have been.
Essentially put, this new adaptation of the Greek legend is a dud. Not only is the lead actor wholly unconvincing throughout but the action is tired, the narrative too drawn out and the pace sluggish. It does not help either that Henstridge's part (although top billed) is essentially nothing more than an extended cameo and that Blalock is unrecognizable (after watching her in a scene it was only her voice that clued me in to it being her).
Also why is it that the set design and effects looked cheaper and less convincing than they did four decades earlier?
All in all this was a huge disappointment and something Hallmark should have done better. For an example of the channel getting these made-for-television features/mini-series right check out the simply superb and very entertaining 'La Femme Musketeer.'

Britannic [DVD] [2000]
Britannic [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Edward Atterton
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming....despite its shortcomings, 22 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Britannic [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Riding on the wave of Titanic-fever that followed the release of the hugely popular James Cameron movie TITANIC this production focuses on the lesser-known but equally ill fated sister ship of the famous liner - the Britannic.
Ostensibly posing as a hospital ship in World War I transporting medical supplies across the Mediterranean, the Britannic is actually carrying a large cache of weapons, a clear violation of the rules of war that threatens both the safety of genuine hospital ships but also gives justification for this ships destruction by German agents.
Suspecting this to be the case Germany has planted a top German agent on board as a chaplain, who with the aid of Irish insurgents already on board as members of the crew. Not to be outdone however, British Intelligence somehow (it is never fully explained how) have caught wind of the German plot ands planted a female agent on board (despite having just graduated from spy school - she was apparently the only British agent available for the operation). No matter that the British agent is impossibly beautiful (as played by the stunning Amanda Ryan) and therefore unlikely to blend into the background (surely an essential characteristic for an agent) but her character is not only a survivor of the original Titanic sinking, but also the one passenger who falls in love with the German agent - oh the irony.
Nevertheless one charge that can never be leveled at "Britannic" is (despite its laughable claim to tell the 'untold story' of the liner), it is certainly never boring or lacking in thrills. Its special effects may look more fitting for a high production value video game, and some of the veteran actors on the cast list guilty of incredible overacting, but this is all part of the charm of this movie. Taken for what it is, you cannot help but enjoy the movie and with a cast that includes Jacqueline Bisset and the ever amazing John Rhys-Davies, it's all good hokum fun.
Leave the history books on the bookshelf and sit back for the escapist drama which is 2000's BRITANNIC

Bend It Like Beckham [DVD] [2002]
Bend It Like Beckham [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Parminder Nagra
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.54

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family, friendship and tradition with soccer as a backdrop, 21 Nov. 2004
Growing up in the UK I was always more interested in rugby than soccer and had to endure FA Cup matches and World Cup action with my family. So, when I heard about BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, it seemed like it was about as far away as a movie could be from something I would like.
Little did I know that this engaging comedy is precisely the type of movie that someone who lists SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and NOTTING HILL would enjoy.
The story of an Indian girl who breaks with her cultural tradition and goes against her parents wishes to join a girls soccer team is handled with a light personal touch. Also interwoven among the inevitable romance and hijinks of teenage girls discovering themselves is an interesting insight into the Indian culture as transplanted into England in what director Gurinder Chadha calls one of her most personal of movies.
Newcomer Parminder Nagra plays Jess, the Indian girl in question , who goes behind her parents backs to join the Hounslow Harriers - a top girls team which lists among its players a spunky tomboy named Jules (played by hot Hollywood actress and rising sex symbol Keira Knightley) who spots Jess's talents after seeing her kick a ball around with her friends at the local park.
The two immediately strike up a friendship that is compromised by a mutual attraction to the same man - their coach Joe (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
Soccer actually plays a relatively minor role in the picture, merely serving as a backdrop on which to paint the story of friendship, tradition, culture and self-discovery. And although the action scenes are well handled, the best parts of the movie are the parental interactions with Jess and Jules and the interactions between the two of them and between Jess and Joe.
Engagingly and inifinately watchable with some toe jigging musical tracks the DVD includes a commentary from Chadha, a making of featurette, deleted scenes, featurette on the Indian dish Aloo Gobi which is featured in the movie, music, ottakes and a recipe for Aloo Gobi. Also of interest is the inclusion of more humorous bloopers over the closing credits.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [DVD] [2003]
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.70

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie successfuly revives the swashbuckler, 21 Nov. 2004
Let me first of all address one of the things that is misleading in the list of special features. Fans of Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport who may be excited to listen to a full-length feature commentary by the two English stars will be disappointed. Much like the DVD `The Girl Next Door' which promises an audio commentary from Elisha Cuthbert and Emile Hirsch, what we have here instead is several scenes in which the two actors comment - though at least with Pirates of the Caribbean the two actors were obviously recorded together and the selection of scenes is more extensive.
Okay, now onto discussion of the movie itself - and what a fun ride it is (unlike the rather ho-hum DisneyWorld ride from which it takes its name and reportedly inspiration). Stealing the show and dominating every scene in which they appear is Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, what we have is possibly the best pirate movie since such productions were in their heyday with such fun filled swashbucklers as `The Crimson Pirate.' Forget more recent pretenders such as `Cutthroat Island' and the truly terrible Matthau vehicle `Pirates', this movie shows that Hollywood can still assemble a good cast and spin a pirate yarn that is both enjoyable, thrilling and well written.
The plot concerns the effort by Depp's character to recapture his former ship The Black Pearl from his former shipmate and mutineer Capt. Barbossa. The curse of the title involves Barbossa and his crew being in a perpetual state of undead (cue some pretty nifty special effects) and new meaning to the term `skeleton crew.' Barbossa seems understandably anxious to rid himself of the curse (though why I am not so sure since it certainly gives him and his crew an edge in battle) and searches for a doubloon necklace that hangs around the neck of the beautiful Governors daughter Elizabeth Swann (Knightley).
One thing that did surprise me is that Depp does not play the romantic lead in this movie, deferring that part instead to Orlando Bloom as blacksmith Will Turner who vies for Elizabeth's affection with the Jack Davenports snobbish Cmdr. Norrington. Of course there are no prizes for guessing who will win out in the end.
One reviewer commented on the movie playing out like a wild Halloween party on the high seas. While this is true of many of the scenes in this movie there are some quiet moments and more traditional action movie moments to imbue this flick with a comfortable sense of familiarity for any of those who grew up watching the pirate adventures of yesteryear on Saturday afternoon television. It's a great ride and wonderful news that a sequel is currently in the works.
Although a three-disc edition of this movie is upcoming in November I opted for this 2-disc set and was mightily impressed by the special features. Aside from the slight disappointment noted at the beginning of this review, I relished the extensive background into the history of pirates. As a person longtime fascinated with the role of these high seas rogues I found the information both fascinating and enjoyable.
I also quite liked the 40-minute making of... documentary that included interviews with most of the principal actors (yes including Knightley) and a look at how many of the visual effects and computer effects were created. Together with a selection of deleted and extended scenes and blooper reel, the decision on if to purchase this or wait for the 3-disc set is purely a judgement call on how many features you want. But I can vouch that this 2-disc set will leave you truly satisfied - aside from the Knightley/Davenport commentary.

The Mediterranean Caper (Dirk Pitt Adventure)
The Mediterranean Caper (Dirk Pitt Adventure)
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dirk Pitt's entrance novel is a fun ride, 21 Nov. 2004
I have a certain fondness for this Cussler novel, sure its missing some of those fun "pretitles" style preludes that tie together seemingly unrelated historical events in an ingenious manner and it's also very politically incorrect (but not as much as PACIFIC VORTEX is). But, this Dirk Pitt adventure (the first published, though Cussler wrote the aforementioned PACIFIC VORTEX first), is a fun ride of a novel and moves along at a fast pace (it's actually one of Cusslers shortest, if not THE shortest). With some very vivid fight scenes and some nice Alistair Maclean-esque plotting (apparently Cussler used the late Scottish writer's work as a template until he found his own style) this Cussler novel really delivers and I made fast work of it reading over a weekend about a year ago.
Starting with the attack on a US airfield in the Greek islands by a biplane and involving smuggling, German fighter aces and the trademark underwater sequences for which Cussler is perhaps best known for (through his non-fiction writings as much as for Dirk Pitt) I can guarantee that this novel will no doubt charm even the harshest of Cusslers critics as long as they take it for what it is - some harmless. Mildly diverting fun.
On a sidenote, all the reviewers who are commenting on the bad writing should really lighten up, this was after all one of Clive Cussler's earliest works :)

The Italian Job [DVD] [2003]
The Italian Job [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Donald Sutherland
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.25

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the original, but still a fun ride, 21 Nov. 2004
This review is from: The Italian Job [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Lacking the style and heart that made the original such a firm favorite among film fans and also without the talents of Noel Coward - who gave such a nicely humorous touch to the classic - was this weak 2003 remake.
In truth this movie is more of a sequel than a remake. As most film fans will know the original movie concluded with the gang of bullion thieves stuck in a rather precarious situation atop one of the Italian Alps. The remake however includes the actual "Italian Job" of the title at the beginning of its movie and then weaves a tale of betrayal and payback that has one of the thieves double-crossing his partners and taking off with the gold himself.
In this respect the movie probably would have been better off not adopting the name of its illustrious predecessor. In fact, in talks with the director to promote this movie, it was revealed that Italian authorities were less than happy to hear that Hollywood planned to remake a movie - that is such a "national treasure" in the hearts of Italy - that they almost refused the team to film in Venice. Only when they were able to convince the Italians that it was a homage and that they intended no disrespect to the original that they were allowed to continue.
Fans of another remake (Ocean's Eleven) will no doubt lap this movie up. This production has another hip cast and the same slick method of storytelling. It was pleasing to see the return of the Morris Minor car as one of the holdovers from the original movie and I thought Charlize Theron was a welcome addition to the cast as the beautiful daughter of one of the original thieves. What was most disturbing though was the fact that the original Italian Job was an eclectic collection of British thieves, whereas here they are American - not sure why they made that change since the humor employed in the original was so British.
Still, as heist movies go this film is a success and a lot of fun. If you enjoyed Clooneys version of OCEAN'S ELEVEN, then chances are you will enjoy this too.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2011 2:20 PM GMT

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen [2003] [DVD]
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sean Connery
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.75

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun popcorn flick that could have been better, 21 Nov. 2004
Quite unfairly drubbed by the critics upon its release and ignored by film audiences for the likes of X2. Matrix 2 and HULK was this entertaining action movie that slipped in and out of theaters almost unnoticed in the summer of 2003.
Taking its basis from the well known graphic novel of the same name this movie has a fascinating premise. What if the characters of Victorian literature were actually real people? What if technology that we take for granted now was suddenly thrust upon a world before their time. Thus, we have a bank robbery at the turn of the 20th century involving a tank. Machine gun toting villains tearing up an African country club. An automobile chasing through the streets of Europe and Jules Verne's Capt. Nemo (this time portrayed correctly as an Indian prince as he was in the novel) transporting our team of heroes in the submarine Nautilus.
Leading the group though is H. Rider Haggard's adventurer Allan Quatermain (played with spirit and gusto by Sean Connery). Also included among the ragtag group are the likes of the Invisible Man, Tom Sawyer (an addition to the cast of characters no doubt in an effort to help the movie sell to an American audience) and Dorian Gray.
The team must race across the continent of Europe in an effort to defuse what is fast turning into a growing conflict between the Great Powers. The villain (the Fantom) has designs on making a boatload of money selling high-tech weapons (by 19th century standards) to the competing nations - or is he...there is a surprising twist to the story that eluded me until I checked out the special features.
The narrative to this movie does seem a little muddled and at times it all appears a little too top-heavy with heroes. But if you take LXG (as it was called by Fox marketing) as a fun loving light hearted action adventure, and don't try and think it through too hard, then the movie can promise an entertaining evening.
What this movie does provide is some great action scenes, an ingenious premise and Sean Connery. It's not as bad as some would have you believe, but it's also not as good as it should have been.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2013 12:58 AM BST

Role of Honor
Role of Honor
by John Gardner
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A one-time favorite reexamined, 21 Nov. 2004
As a Bond fan who counts the movie A VIEW TO A KILL as one of his favorite entries, it should come as no surprise that ROLE OF HONOR was at one time one of my favorite of the Gardner books.
My favorite Gardner 007 novel is the first one I ever read ICEBREAKER and so I had very high hopes for this novel. Although ROLE OF HONOR does not live up to the promise of the previous outing I still found it an entertaining read and one I enjoyed very much. It is also one that clearly left its imprint on the 1985 Bond movie A VIEW TO A KILL.
Not only do we have a plot involving computers (now very dated with PCs being referred to as Micros throughout) but we also have a fight on a blimp. Of course two years later the 007 picture reenvisioned the plot of GOLDFINGER with microchips replacing gold, Silicon Valley replacing Fort Knox and the final battle with the villain revolving around an airship instead of an airplane.
One area where ROLE OF HONOR does fall flat is in the relative lack of action with a rather weak training camp sequence and a fight aboard the airship and its somewhat rambling incohesive plot. What we do have though is Bond battling SPECTRE once more and an interesting introduction to c haracters that would reappear in Gardner's novel (and a firm fan favorite) NOBODY LIVES FOREVER.
This is far from the best Gardner and can probably best be summed up as an interesting experiment by the gifted author that ultimately failed to truly deliver. Ultimately though time has not been kind to this Bond novel.

The Mechanic [DVD] [1972]
The Mechanic [DVD] [1972]
Dvd ~ Charles Bronson
Price: £5.78

13 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An action movie. curiously devoid of action, 21 Nov. 2004
This review is from: The Mechanic [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
Anyone who has seen the Charles Bronson movies of the 1970s and 1980s will pretty much know what to expect of this movie made in 1972 with longtime Bronson collaborator Michael Winner.
Bronson plays hitman Bishop who takes on a eager young rookie (played by a very young Jan Michael Vincent later of AIRWOLF fame) under his wing to teach him the ways of his craft.
Probably the best parts of this movie are in the first half hour or so. We see Bronson's character set up a hit disguised as a gas explosion. He sets up across the street from his target and watches the man make coffee (presumably), read a book and then fall asleep - all the while knowing that in a matter of hours he will be the method of the mans destruction.
In another scene we see Bronson perform another hit, this time on a person who trusts him and then in another we see him coldly explain to a desperate young girl how long it will take her to die and the feelings and sensations she will go through before death.
Taken at its basic level this movie is very disturbing. Anyone who is expecting another GROSSE POINT BLANK will not get it here. This movie is both cold and voyeuristically fascinating to see a man who cares little about life - others or even his own (he blatently ignores a doctors advice at one point, even throwing away some pills designed to help him with anxiety).
The movie is a strange one. There is very little action, and what we do have seems muted by the experiences of Bishop.

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