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G. Robinson
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The Revenant [Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV Copy] [2016]
The Revenant [Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV Copy] [2016]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Stays in the memory., 25 Jun. 2017
Hugh Glass (Di Caprio) is a guide helping trappers navigate Americas cold and desolate north west region in the early 19th centuary. When he is attacked by a Grizzly Bear he is left for dead. His survival gear is stolen and his son killed by a fellow disgruntled trapper. Can he survive, can he get the revenge he needs and that has now become his sole reason for living?

The Revenant is based in part on a supposedly real life character and the book of the same name. Inarritus film version is brutal and beautiful in equal measure, the depiction of frontier life before America was tamed is fabulously recreated using genuinely stunning real locations, fantastic sets design, authentic looking wardrobe and realistic sounding dialogue. The casting director didn’t put a foot wrong and the performances from all the principles are first rate. Di Caprio and Hardy are a revelation, both putting in Oscar worthy powerhouse performances. The Directors choice of using a filter to mute the colour to enhance the feeling of perpetual cold worked a treat, you can almost feel those low freezing temperatures creep into your living room. The “floaty” camera style is at first a little disconcerting, you feel you are often missing the action while it hovers and slowly moves around catching the action it sees, but you soon realise that the effect is to draw you into the action, the place and time and it makes you a participant in the action rather than a viewer of it. The score by Ryuichi Sakamoto is haunting and often melancholy and fits the tone of the piece very well without drawing too much attention to itself. The Cinematograhy, often hand-held is quite literally jaw droppingly beautiful. The wide open spaces, the snow topped mountain ranges, the dark dangerous forests are realisticly captured with exquisite care. The more intimate scenes of men, animals, conversation and such are often shot from below again giving the feeling of being rather than watching. The special effects are, as you would expect in a film based 200 years ago, low key and efficient in their task. However the Bear attack is a visceral and brutally real depiction of what would happen in real life and is no picnic. It’s real, close up and extremely violent and not easy to watch, but at the same time you can’t look away from Glass’s attempt to survive what in most cases would mean certain death.

The only two criticisms I can make is that the screenplay has a few slow points and is occasionally repetitious. Glass’s misery is plastered on quite thick and there are scenes that are included for no obvious reason other than someone wanted them there. The horse scene for instance did not propel the plot or give us any new information, however it did look good on screen and many people have mentioned it as one of the high points of the film for them. The second is Tom Hardys dialogue. His accent was spot on, but his diction was so difficult to understand in some points, that even after several viewings, I gave up trying to understand him and accepted that I was only ever going to get perhaps 70% of whatever he said. Saying that as the film progressed either I got better at deciphering him or the director reined him in a little.

These small gripes aside The Revenant is a superb film for those who have the stamina for all that misery and it will stay in the memory.


Split (DVD + Digital Download) [2017]
Split (DVD + Digital Download) [2017]
Dvd ~ James McAvoy
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously edgy stuff., 24 Jun. 2017
When a young man with 23 separate and very different personalities inhabiting his mind begins to contact his psychologist out of the blue via E-Mail asking for her help she begins to wonder if something bad may be about to happen.

Written Produced and Directed by M Night Shyamalan who gave us the really quite brilliant The Sixth Sense and Signs, Split is a taut, spectacularly efficient and very spooky thriller with a amazing central performance by James McAvoy. Shyamalan wrings almost too much tension from that bare-bones story and as a result this is really edge of your seat claustrophobic draw your feet up onto the couch stuff. The director really does a great job in ramping up the terror of trying to deal with a person who could be an innocent child one minute and a literal murderous beast intent of killing you the next when you sometimes don’t know who you are talking too. The writing is first class and creepily complements the central performance and tone of the piece perfectly.

Made for a paltry $9 million and grossing about $280 million worldwide, it is a phenomenal success for both Shyamalan and McAvoy who have both come out of this tiny budget indie film smelling of roses. With 2014’s The Visit also a hit for Night grossing $100 million on a miniscule $5 million budget, it appears that his ability to make money has not deserted him like so many of his critics.

Split is fabulously entertaining “almost art-house” stuff for those who like classy edgy thrillers made by a supremely talented film maker who seems to make better movies, as in this case, when he has a very limited budget. His big budget efforts like “The Last Air-Bender and After Earth” seem to go astray.

Watch out for a pleasing but surprising cameo by a big name movie star right at the end.


Moana [DVD] [2016]
Moana [DVD] [2016]
Dvd ~ Ron Clements
Offered by Direct Entertainment Supplies
Price: £10.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning animation, 24 Jun. 2017
This review is from: Moana [DVD] [2016] (DVD)
Moama, the chiefs daughter, lives on a beautiful Hawaiian like island full of Palm trees and lush green lands and peaceful people, but she secretly longs to sail out to sea past the reef and find adventure. When something very strange happens on the beach she finds herself thrust into an adventure to save her peoples way of life and perhaps discover why she longs for the open ocean.

Mild Spoilers.

There is unfortunately no getting away from the fact, if you have children and have watched Disney films for years, that Moana is Frozen transplanted to a beautiful Pacific island with hints of Lilo and Stitch, Brother Bear, Hercules, The Lion King, Brave and a dozen other Disney “Princess” films thrown in for good measure. The cut and paste story is really quite obvious and Disney have really played it very safe with film number 56. It’s a proper musical with quite a few “Let it go and For the first time in forever” sounding tracks and a fair few that do not stay in the memory, the Crab song being a very good example.

However saying all that Moana is cracking entertainment, the CGI animation is genuinely stunning and quite beautiful to look at, the colour palette (in HD) is very pleasing and the characters, although seen before, are very engaging and often very funny. The Directors and Writers have managed to keep the story fairly simple and the action exciting, something not always achieved by Disney. Maui/Moana are an extremely likeable couple and their adventures on the high seas battling Pirates, Monsters and a Lava Demon are always entertaining and only occasionally does the pace stall. A hit with audiences and critics worldwide. Moana is Disney’s best film for some time.


The LEGO Batman Movie [DVD + Digital Download] [2017]
The LEGO Batman Movie [DVD + Digital Download] [2017]
Dvd ~ Will Arnett
Price: £10.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun., 20 Jun. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Batman is easily the most handsome, best looking, most intelligent, best dressed and coolest Superhero there is and ever will be. Well that’s according to him! Those around him however think he is distant, shallow, and still acts like a kid. Can he change, does he want to? And what will the Super Villain bad guys he’s always chasing like the Joker think!

The inevitable follow up to the incredibly successful Lego Movie was going to have a hard time not only replicating that magic, but not letting the fans down. Sequels are notoriously difficult to pull off because the public want more of the same but it must be different, but not too different! Luckily Batman scores full marks by being just what the public wanted, more of the same but different.

Concentrating as the title suggests on Batman and his relationships (or ships as he calls them) with others but mainly The Joker, Batman grows up a little with the able help of Robin, Alfred, Batgirl, and strangely enough even The Joker. Along the way all the we meet literally dozens of other villains, also given the Lego treatment, like Harley Quinn, Bane, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Penquin, King Kong and even Harry Potters nemesis Voldermort turns up.

The animation is stunning, the action set pieces as inventive and beautifully done as you would expect, the dialogue is clever and as sharp as a razor and it looks and feels like a quality production.However it is not all thumbs up and rosy, the screenplay is a little lose , that lovely sharp and funny dialogue is often lost behind other dialogue from another character, the score often completely drowns out what is being said and the joke, reference, or story plot information is lost. The frenetic editing, loud music and characters talking at the same time is quite noticeable at times. Not that much of this makes a great deal of difference to your average pre teen, but older children and adults might notice they’re missing quite a lot of jokes and references.
So although there are a couple of missteps along the way, Batman is a thumping commercial and critical success with audiences worldwide and my six year old and I laughed a lot. It has to be said however the laugh rate with the original was a little higher.


Independence Day: Resurgence [DVD]
Independence Day: Resurgence [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liam Hemsworth
Price: £5.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Just terrible., 18 Jun. 2017
Exactly twenty years after Will Smith and Co kicked alien ass in Independence Day the Aliens are back, with much bigger ships and after revenge. Can humans save the day again!

The original ID was a cheesy actioner that had three huge positives in a sea of negatives. It had Will Smith at his most charismatic, an on form Jeff Goldblum and possibly the most important it had ENERGY literally bursting off the screen. It seemed pumped and there was a real feeling of threat, you felt part of something bigger than just a film, it was an event, a moment in time when almost everyone had either had seen it, was going to see it, was talking about it or writing about it.

IDR is also a cheesy multiplex popcorn selling actioner but has only one positive in that sea of negatives in the form of the always dependable Jeff Goldblum. Smith bailed (did he know it was a turkey) and the energy and excitement expertly injected into the first has definitely not made an appearance in sequel. Replaced with tedious dialogue, dull, and I mean dull, characters, cinematic cliché by the bucketload, lots of properly bad acting, not very special special effects, rather poor green screen shots and a screenplay that is literally all over the place. Characters and scenes included for no apparent reason whatsoever. It’s not surprising that the films tone is so off when there were five screenwriters and about four story editors. With that many people competing for screen time no wonder it makes little sense. The editing is choppy and the idea that effect comes after cause has been ditched entirely. People say things then the thing happens, how did this get past the director or the editor, or for that matter the person who got the coffee.
IDR is a complete embarrassing mess, bombed at the box office and rightly so. Sequels do have a problem in that customers want more of the same but different, but others have found a way. The makers of IDR couldn’t be bothered to even attempt to make a film worthy of the original, expecting customers to come because they recognised the brand. Well the paying public found them out and stayed away in droves. Total Recall and Ghostbusters just two recent lazy cash cows that tanked.

If you really want to watch a good Independence Day movie make sure it’s the original.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [Blu-ray 3D] [2016] [2017] [Region Free]
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [Blu-ray 3D] [2016] [2017] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Felicity Jones
Price: £18.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very mixed bag., 6 May 2017
The Empires new planet killer, the Death Star, has a fatal design law that must be exploited or millions could die and the Empire would become unstoppable. A Magnificent Seven of rebels decide to steal the Death Star plans, learn about this flaw and report their finding to the rebel commanders.

Lots and lots of SPOILERS AHEAD.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or Star Wars 3.5 ends literally minutes before Star Wars: A New Hope starts and explains exactly why the Death Star has such a silly design flaw and how the rebels got hold of the precious plans that eventually end up in R2-D2’s electronic innards.

After about three years of waiting, I finally got to watch this movie in glorious 3D Blue Ray at the weekend and fully enjoyed myself. It’s a true Star Wars movie, it looks and feels right, the art department and designers have made a lovely job of recreating the original Star Wars look, there are enough obvious fan references to sink a battleship, cool newly designed black Storm Troopers, lovingly recreated digitized characters (more about them later) and a fairly pleasing, if slow to start story arc that kept me watching. The special effects are awesome, the action sequences are well handled and the overall effect is of a quality and beautifully created product. On second viewing however the experience, a little like Avatar, is not so good.

To be honest the story is a little more complicated than it needs to be, it requires quite a bit of rather slow exposition (back story) to bring viewers up to speed about where and when we are and who we are watching and why. There is then quite a jump in time to the present and the Death Star becoming operational. Gareth Edwards then has to cram into a fairly short period of time six completely new characters and unfortunately he doesn’t do a very good job and these characters do remain, throughout a two hour movie, two dimensional and a little flat and uninteresting. They are introduced and that is just about it, you learn very little else about them. It’s not until the end of the film that you realise why so little time is spent giving audiences any further info about them. And this is my main gripe about Rogue One, it’s a great action film, if a little slow in places, but it has hardly any emotional weight. I really wanted to love these new characters, care about their fates, to get close to them, however it never happens and as a result when they inevitably get killed off one by one I was never shocked or surprised. When you really think about it, because non of these characters appear or are referenced in Star Wars A New Hope, they all have to die. This has made the ending a bit of a foregone conclusion, we already know the plans are obtained and the Death Star is blown up as easily as blasting Wump Rats on Tattooine.

The digitally recreated Peter Cushing as the Grand Moff Tarkin and a seventeen year old Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia are not entirely convincing and kind of stood out a little too much. I think they should have been more sparing with these digitized characters, perhaps using shadow and low lighting for their scenes. The well lit full face close up’s t digital faces, although probably the best I have ever seen, still look like what they are, fake. Darth Vader turns up and has a few scenes, but he’s not on screen very much and to be honest I think it was a mistake not to give him a bigger role. He should have been an integral part of the film and not included as nod to the fan base who were very vocal that he must be included.

Extras are rather minimal and disappointing. Some talking heads and that’s about it. No commentaries at all, no deleted scenes, no bloopers, really quite sparse.

So although I loved Rogue One with a few beers in a darkened room after a good curry, the following hours and days left me thinking that I cant see me watching it many more times, even though I have watched Star Wars perhaps 20 times over the years.

Rogue One is proudly sitting between Episode 3 and 4 in my Star Wars collection, but I don’t see it being taken down very often.


Arrival [DVD]
Arrival [DVD]
Dvd ~ Amy Adams
Offered by CARLOS RODRIUEZ
Price: £6.49

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 12 Mar. 2017
This review is from: Arrival [DVD] (DVD)
When twelve striking spacecraft land at different locations around the world, there is widespread panic and confusion. Twelve very different governments attempt to communicate with the crafts each in their own way. In America a linguist and a physicist (Amy and Jeremy) are given the task of deciding the intent of these strange visitors. Are they benign space travellers or dangerous invaders?

I first have to say I only watched about one hour of Arrival before turning it off. It’s not that it’s horribly bad but then again it wasn’t exactly revetting either. Amy and Jeremy are a dull pair to begin with but when their characters are meshed into that leaden screenplay the resulting turgid mess is almost unwatchable. Amy’s regular emotional flashbacks, signified by staring blankly into the middle distance or at her shoes, soon became tiresome and poor old Jeremy could have been expunged entirely. I don’t know why the character was there at all, he wasn’t necessary. Cinematic cliché followed cinematic cliché, you know the ones you have seen a thousand times, the stupid military, the dangerous snake in the grass, the time imperative, idiotic politicians, the bad guy plainly in sight, lots of techno speak and laptops, you get the picture. If you have seen Close Encounters, Contact, ET or Independence day, just mash them all up in a big bucket with a big dollop of pretension and navel gazing for good measure and you might end up with Arrival.

Even in a film as dull as this one there is almost always something of merit to mention, however Arrival is by the numbers film making, a B picture pretending to be something it isn’t and punching well above it’s weight. All departments seem to have been working independently from each other and the end result is very unsatisfying indeed. Top of the worst list however must be the sound mix. The rather wordy dialogue is either too quick, quiet or drowned out by the overuse of music and sound effects. Coming in a close second is the strangely underexposed and muted cinematography which seemed to have been filmed through a gauss.

Arrival really is and should have remained at heart a standard multiplex actioner. Without the delusions of grandeur, tacked on for the awards panels which actually pretty much ignored it entirely, it could have been good forgettable escapist fun.

Poor.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2017 2:57 PM GMT


The BFG [DVD]
The BFG [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Rylance
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Spielberg dud., 12 Feb. 2017
This review is from: The BFG [DVD] (DVD)
When Sophie is plucked from her bedroom by a Giant and whisked off to Giant-Land she suspects the worst. However her captor is not exactly the Ogre she expects.

There is no doubt that Stephen Spielberg’s mega budget adaptation of Roald Dahl’s perennial favourite is a quality production, all departments seem to have had plenty of cash and the production will have been crafted by some of the best people in the business. With at least an echo of ET in there it should have been huge. So what went so dreadfully wrong and why did customers stay away in droves.

With an extremely slow wordy screenplay, uninspired but workmanlike direction, almost unintelligible West Country like dialogue from the BFG and a completely missing second act, this two hour film based on a rather slender book is for the most part a pretty poor effort. There are a few moments of flair here and there but on the whole it is an imagination free zone that plods relentlessly from A to B without any detours at all. If you have read the book you don’t really need to see the film because it hasn’t really been adapted at all, just pretty much filmed as is. While Sophie and the BFG occasionally inject a little sorely needed interest almost every other character, even the Queen, does exactly the opposite. The other giants, although beautifully rendered and designed to within an inch of their lives, just plain dull, their regular teenage like shenanigans just seem like fill, amount to little but go on forever. Their search of the BFG’s cave whilst looking for Sophie is a very good example of more being less. If you remember the Dwarfs “doing stuff” from the Hobbit you will get my meaning. On the upside the world building is impressive and the set design eye catching, but alone these two plus’s are drowned out by far too many negatives. The last fifteen minutes are easily the best, at least some attempt is made to inject some humour and vitality, but by then it’s just too late and those last few minutes cannot redeem the previous 100 or so. In the final analysis the BFG feels like it was made because the technology caught up to Dahl’s imagination and not because the filmmakers thought they had something interesting to do with the material. Twenty years ago Danny DeVito made the sublime Matilda with probably ¼ of the money but twice the heart.

There is little doubt in my mind that this film was spoiled by money or perhaps I should say the excess of it, a reported $140 million. If the BBC or Channel Four had financed this for say £20 million Pounds ($35 million dollars) as a Christmas special it would have been far superior.

Very disappointed indeed.


Identity Thief [DVD] [2012]
Identity Thief [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Jason Bateman
Price: £3.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor, 22 Jan. 2017
This review is from: Identity Thief [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
When Jason Bateman thoughtlessly gives out some private information to someone he doesn’t know his life is turned upside down. The Police seem uninterested or incompetent, his boss seems only interested in himself and the thief couldn’t care less. Alone and with only a few days he must get his identity back.

I firstly have to admit I only watched, or should I say endured, about 40 minutes of this dumpster fire of a film. Not only is the minimal story terrible, nothing seems to fit, actions and events don’t seem to make much sense and it’s also about as funny as a road accident. Melisa McCarthy, once again, plays her regular default setting role of the big hefty oversize woman who is funny because she wobbles when she runs, falls over a lot, swears like a Scots Guard and dresses like trailer trash. Now if you’re the kind of person who laughs at people purely because of their size, or because they wear glasses or perhaps have teeth braces, you know the school bully, then you may like this because the writers have decided that the fun comes from the fat shaming of the main character not the dialogue or the situations the characters find themselves in, and they expect you to go along with it. I’m not overly PC and call a spade a spade, but this was lazy old fashioned, let’s just laugh at the fat chick, drivel. Although Hollywood is getting better it still marches out stereotypical tropes like this with alarming regularity, even though Miss McCarthy has now decided fat isn’t funny anymore and has made quite an effort to lose weight.

If someone were to say to me that this was the first film written by a computer I might be inclined to believe them. Essentially a buddy movie where chalk and cheese meet, hate each other then through adversity and become friends defeating a joint enemy. My 7 year old could have done better.

Identity Thief is very old fashioned and could easily have made in the late eighties. Avoid at all costs.


Kubo And The Two Strings (DVD + Digital Download) [2016]
Kubo And The Two Strings (DVD + Digital Download) [2016]
Dvd ~ Charlize Theron
Price: £4.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 21 Jan. 2017
In what appears to be ancient Japan, Kubo and his mother eek out a meager existence in a cave on the outskirts of a village. Kubo is a talented musician and teller of tall tales and uses these talents to their best advantage. However they are both fearful of the past and worry about the future. When Kubo strays too far from the cave and stays out too late his past catches up with him and both he and his mother need to flee or fight for their survival.

Focus Features and Laika Studios who created the truly magnificent Coraline and the impressive but less successful The Box Trolls now present Kubo and the Two Strings. Essentially a coming of age story focusing on Kubo and his mysterious past, this absolutely beautifully created stop motion masterpiece is very nearly perfect and just stunning to watch. The technical mastery on show is as impressive as is the story telling. Being drawn into the story of a family feud, deadly jealousies and vengeance slowly was a joy. The story unfolded with ease and at the right pace and you never feel you are being spoon fed even though this is essentially a children’s film. The voice talents are particularly good in Kubo thanks to the fine efforts of Matthew McConaughey as beetle, Charlize Theron as Monkey, Ralph Fiennes as the bad guy and Art Parkinson as Kubo. They all sell their parts magnificently. The dialogue is particularly grown up and often extremely funny, however the tone is occasionally quite dark and ominous and might be a little frightening for younger viewers. Only when you have watched Kubo do you realise that the film tackles some big issues head on.

A couple of flat moments and a rather long 101 minute running time aside, Kubo is a stunning piece of film making that we have come to expect from this studio.


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