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Reviews Written by
J. Potter "johniebg" (Berkshire, England)
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Power Bank, VIVIS 20000mAh Compact External Battery High Capacity Power Bank Portable Charger with Polymer Battery, 2-Port 4A Input & 2-Port 5A Quick Output, Quick Charge for iPhone 6 6S Plus 5S, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Smart Phones and Tablets(Black)
Power Bank, VIVIS 20000mAh Compact External Battery High Capacity Power Bank Portable Charger with Polymer Battery, 2-Port 4A Input & 2-Port 5A Quick Output, Quick Charge for iPhone 6 6S Plus 5S, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Smart Phones and Tablets(Black)
Offered by VIVIS Direct Store
Price: £69.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fake leather, bling trimming and powerful punch. Love it., 20 May 2016
I travel quite a bit and use my Android phone extensively for driving, public transport and walking directions, quite often across Europe. With days that start early and finding power often a problem during the day, and then sometimes not having the right plug converter, I’ve been looking for a solution that will juice the all important Android for a few days.

I had purchased a 10000mAh charger which was light, manageable, could do two and half charges but didn’t display how much battery was left, which caused me a lot of problems. I guess Vivis saw my recent purchase history and offered this 20000mAh unit as free sample for a review.

I’d not purchased a 20000mHa unit because the ones I saw were way too big. I would often be carring the charger with my phone late in the day and I wanted to keep light. The Vivis unit when it arrived made two impressions; 1) it was only marginally bigger than the 10000mAh unit, 2) it was old style bling with a fake leather texture and gold trimming. I loved it, to look at and hold in hand.

In reviewing its performance there is one key factor which is does it deliver 20000mAh? It doesn’t because all such devices dissipate heat and loose some charge but this does a great job of staying cool and making sure most goes into your device. I regularly get five 70% charges on my 3300mAh phone and various charges on smaller peripherals including a 0% to fully charged of my iPad mini. Yes it delivered.

This unit has a very useful touch sensitive on/of slide that also activates a flashing indicator to tell you how much charge is left. It has two inputs so you can recharge it twice as quick and two outputs for charging two devices at the same time.

In reality I don’t need the two inputs because it lasts so long I tend to just plug it in when I get home and then take it off my desk charged the next day. The two outputs come in handy quite often as I have a lot of USB powered devices I often carry such as a GoPro, bluetooth headset, speaker for the car etc.

Pros: Great design and size considering the punch it packs, feels good in hand, two outputs and a slide switch that also gives you a clear charge indicator.

Cons: In use I have found none and I’ve been using it now for a month. I guess over time the fake leather texture may wear or even come off. No sign of this yet.

Bonus use: This is fantastic for powering our Motorola usb powered baby monitor and makes carrying the monitor around the house so much easier without having to trail a plug and cable and find sockets. It kept the monitor running for three entire nights and still had 75% charge left.

Overall it has quickly become one of the most important tech. packed in my bag before any trip. Power banks are extremely useful, this one leverages size with capacity and has a status led that ensures there are no unpleasant surprises when you most need juice.

I hope this was helpful.


TEC.BEAN 2.0 Inch Action Sports WIFI Camera With 14MP 170 Degree Wide Angle and Two Rechargeable Batteries (WIFI Black)
TEC.BEAN 2.0 Inch Action Sports WIFI Camera With 14MP 170 Degree Wide Angle and Two Rechargeable Batteries (WIFI Black)
Offered by Val-Mart EU
Price: £45.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Everyday 'Family' Video Camera, 1 April 2016
As always with a review it helps to know where the reviewer is coming from. With a five month old daughter I had the idea of a daddy cam, something I could fix to me and record while interacting rather than just sit there filming. For which I bought a GoPro. At nearly three hundred pound it delivered on a ton of functionality along with crisp and beautiful pictures. More and more though for the price point I found myself using the GoPro for situational filming and not the everyday rough and tumble of being bounced, dropped and thrown for family filming. More and more I filmed with the camera on my Xperia Z2. More often than not it left me being the one filming and not interacting.

When Tec.Bean asked if I’d be interested in reviewing their EX5000 GoPro alike camera I jumped at the chance because it offered the same core functionality as the GoPro at a fraction of the price, almost one fifth at the time of writing.

Two months on it is the device I use in the every day. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros
Excellent picture quality at 720P50/60 and 1080P25/30 although I prefer the 720P for the higher frame rate and smoother transitions if you pan from side to side.
Excellent environment and lighting detection adjusting on the fly. You can reliably capture most lighting conditions to ‘dusk’ levels of low light.
The device just works. You turn it on and start filming a few seconds later. Although the menu offers a wide range of config options unlike the GoPro it doesn’t have aspect ratio modes. That isn’t a bad thing. I trust when I start recording I know exactly how the picture will be framed. No end of times on the GoPro I found I accidentally changed the aspect ratio and didn’t have the framing I wanted.
The de-handshake mode is pretty good, it doesn’t give you the un viewable vibration you would otherwise get. It’s no steady cam but offers smoother videos if you’re moving.
You plug the EX5000 into a PC and it pops up a simple menu on the display asking if you want to use mass storage or us it as a webcam.
You can use the EX5000 as a web cam. It works really well.
The EX5000 comes with a ton of accessories and mounts and you can use any GoPro accessories with it too. It is unlikely you will need to go out an buy any at the outset, there is a lot supplied. This includes a waterproof case and a mount that allows you to put the EX5000 on you and handgrip without the w/proof case.
Did I mentioned its more than five times cheaper than the Hero 4?

Cons
Recoding audio results in a background buzzing with the video. This can be quite prominent and annoying if you are relying on the camera audio. I’ve done some research and found this in lots of EX5000 videos posted online. I typically would record through a separate MIC if I wanted audio which is rare.
Videos have a fish eye effect which means the image at the outer edge can seem to be curved. This is something that can easily be removed with video software but if you want to remove it you will need that software.
The menu has so many options at one point I managed to configure it to only record two seconds when you press record despite thinking it is recording more. I think this was a bug but it did result in me losing some great footage which was disappointing. I had to factory reset to start recording properly again. I’m now pretty careful when changing the menu and always test afterwards.
You will need to buy a SDHC Class 10 microSD card. The Class 10 ensures the card can record video at the speed the EX5000 captures it. These are under ten pound in general for 32Gb so is only an issue if you buy the EX5000 and forget to order one. It does not come supplied with one at all.

In all the EX5000 is a great bit of tech. with a few gotchas, notably for me the buzz on the audio. At its core you get great value and importantly good video quality. I carry it everywhere for ‘family’ recording and sometimes for test runs on stuff I will go back and record with a different camera.

I’m currently editing a video review with recorded video that should be posted in the next day or two.

Hope this helps.


Sicario
Sicario
Dvd
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well made and acted but..., 9 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Sicario (Amazon Video)
I watched Sicario last night and enjoyed it. It features another great but understated performance from Emily Blunt, a dialled in but charismatic Josh Brolin and a stand out Benicio Del Toro. It had a production budget of $30 million and made $80 million world wide. Which isn't great.

The film starts by telling us Sicario means Hitman and then we go on a journey with a character who isn't one. Emily Blunt is front and centre but like last years Mad Max it isn't about the featured character, it's about the one lurking in the background.

The trouble was until I realised what was going on I kept being pulled out of the story. It didn't feel right because it was attempting to buck the ancient protagonist centric story structure we all instinctively expect.

It also tried but failed to show the impact of the drug trade on Mexican people. The story line was fleeting and flat because the cop was too unsympathetic.

You should definitely watch Sicario on rental if you get a chance if only for Benicio's performance as the Sicario avenging his family. There is a moment two thirds of the way in when he starts out of focus and gradually moves towards the camera. I think I might have punched the air.


Fingersmith
Fingersmith
Price: £4.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sue Trinder is a great little character, 24 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fingersmith (Kindle Edition)
There is an old writing adage that goes something along the lines of: 'Write your story about your best character'. Which is advice it would seem that Sarah Waters chose to ignore while writing The Fingersmith.

The story is set in the mid-nineteenth century amid a time and characters cleverly invokative of Oliver Twist. The Fingersmith of the title is Sue Trinder who has been raised a thief by thieves. As she turns seventeen she becomes involved in a con with a crook called the Gentleman, an attempt to defraud an heiress from her fortune.

Through the first 20% on my kindle I thrilled at the story and Sue's POV. What a great little character and enigmatic narrative.

Then Sarah Waters removes Sue from the story and even though it is clear she will be back, every page she is absent is an increasing drudge. I mean a real drudge considering this is 560 pages in paperback.

With Sue out of the way 70% of the book is focused on Maud, a character we are deliberately set-up to dislike. The plot while very clever taken as a whole gets bogged down by Waters's determination to stick with Maud. Sue Trinder does make her re-appearance but it is far, far too late and rushed. I only kept reading to know what happened, which is an irony in itself because every major plot point is telegraphed from a long way out.

Which leads to my second major gripe about this story and the lack of any twist or surpise. And I mean anything remotely shcoking or twist like. This is a clever plot, really clever but the determination to avoid any surprises for the reader seriously dilutes the quality. Nothing slaps us around the face, makes us go Wow, because we are told it will happen long before it does.

My third gripe is the much vaunted lesbian aspect of the book's legacy. In reality there is one scene that you will miss if you blink about 15% through the story. There are a few paragraphs in a 560 page book that result in a couple of ruffled nightdresses and a lovebite carefully mentioned after the fact. Other than that there is nothing in the book to warrant the 'lesbian' love story save for the fact Sarah Waters also wrote Tipping the Velvet.

If you want an accurate appraisal of what this book's about it's a story about two girls who share one very brief magical night together while intent on double crossing each other.

It is a shame, because I loved the wonderful conniving Sue through the opening section of the story. You get a sense Sarah Waters is an incredibly talented writer but can't help wonder if the book she had in mind to write was the one that was eventually published. This could have been so much more if it was written for an audience thirty years younger, if the best bits were not all telegraphed and smoothed over, if the best character wasn't missing for almost the entire book, if endless pages had not been devoted to the least interesting character.


Inateck Wireless Presenter Multifunction PPT Pointer, Cordless Presenter Presentation Device, Wireless Multimedia PowerPoint Remote Control Clicker | Adjustable Reminder with Vibration Mode | LCD Display of Battery Status and Operation | Distance Up to 66ft | Black
Inateck Wireless Presenter Multifunction PPT Pointer, Cordless Presenter Presentation Device, Wireless Multimedia PowerPoint Remote Control Clicker | Adjustable Reminder with Vibration Mode | LCD Display of Battery Status and Operation | Distance Up to 66ft | Black
Offered by Inateck
Price: £39.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some really useful additions, 19 Jan. 2015
I got this pointer as a backup for my everyday presentation bundle but also to sit in the bag of kit I sometimes take on the road with me. I frequently lose bits and pieces and as the backup it wouldn’t matter so much if that happened. Two months down the line my old presenter is in the backup bag and this is my everyday device.

The WP1001 presenter is slightly bigger in hand but that’s because it does quite a lot more. Apart from the laser for pointing and LED indicator so you know it’s on there is a small and very useful LCD. You can set a timer or just show time taken, which is my preference as it’s less to worry about. Additionally you can see battery status on the LCD too. These are such useful features.

In addition to my normal presenter’s page up and down buttons for moving between slides there is a full screen option, once again so useful. Press the button inside a slideshow and PowerPoint will automatically show notes on my laptop and the presentation on the projector. This is the first time I’ve seen this function now rely on it all the time.

Of course the presenter needs a USB receiver to be plugged into the laptop. This is stowed in the device. It isn’t spring loaded but fits very firmly and is not difficult to remove.

I’ve never really thought a presenter might have these features but now I have this one I always choose it over my other devices. It’s just so intuitive and the full-screen, LCD timer and battery status make life so much easier.

Highly recommended.


The Equalizer [Blu-ray] [2014]
The Equalizer [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Price: £7.00

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant for the first 30 minutes, 11 Oct. 2014
Robert McCall is an ex deep cover CIA fixer. Now living under an assumed name the reclusive and obsessive McCall lives a quiet life, keeping his demons well hidden while working at his local DIY store. When his insomnia brings him and ChloŽ Moretz's under age hooker together, he is forced for the first time in a long time to share something of himself. When she is beaten and almost killed by her Russian pimp McCall's demons won't stay suppressed any longer. McCall's vengeance though has been misplaced as ChloŽ's pimp was a Russian kingpin. In return the Russians send their top ex-KGB fixer to erase McCall.

The story for the first 30 minutes expertly characterises the obsessive compulsive McCall in his day to day, through to the fist clenching, white knuckle ride that is his retribution for the kingpin's beating of the young hooker.

This section builds like a boiling kettle unable to shut-off. A rattling tension that bubbles over when McCall eventually faces the kingpin. But already in this scene in a room of henchmen we are seeing some of the issues that manifest and grow through the rest of the movie. Denzil's McCall just knocks on the door of the kingpins inner-sanctum with no explanation at all for how he got through the outer security. He just knocks on the door and in he goes. What follows though, the taking out of the henchmen is of the highest quality.

Having unleashed the Equaliser, Denzil's McCall character then oddly embarks on a horribly saccharine do-gooding soirée while the story pauses to introduce the Russian fixer as he gradually closes in on McCall.

Their paths merge and despite great characterisation from both actors the script and editing increasingly fail everyone. So much is assumed that McCall's ability to suddenly appear in the middle of drug dens and money laundering factories, inside heavily protected houses, dockside ships and fuel refineries is the kind of thing you'd expect from Batman not a fifty year old OCD ex-cia hitman with an admittedly superb eye for the quick take-down. In the finale McCall somehow uses nothing but DIY products to protect everything dear to him, rigging traps and laying in wait, a patient shadow between the compost and hedge cutters.

Come the end Denzil has entertained, we have those glorious first 30 minutes to look forward to on Instant or Netflix, but overall it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The aspirations of the production are there for all to see, something fresh and stylish, a violent world without the need to constantly show the violence, but budget, the edit and script seem to have failed everyone badly. Especially as it's very hard for anyone to be original about Russian bad guys with half a decade of cold war thrillers already behind us. Equaliser tries but ends like the recent Jack Ryan re-launch in cliche hell. In fact it ends worse.

Denzil as McCall is always watchable and lopes through this with a reassuringly mesmerising presence. You believe McCall might be hiding away in a everyday American suburb and really probably is. Likewise his nemesis played by Martin Csokas, the supremely intelligent psychotic ex-soldier running around at the whim of his oligarch boss, feels human. You can barely take your eyes off either. Sadly he and Denzil rise and often imbue scenes with a greater meaning than the story or the scene in-context warrant.

As a thriller the first thirty minutes are hard to beat. You know what's coming and the slow unwrapping of Denzil's character really sets the pulse going. But once we get into the fun and games of the story there is little to concern ourselves with because we have seen bad-guy Russians so often before. This offers nothing original and often leans excessively on the cliche. The saccharine do-gooding section as Denzil Equalises a couple of rogue cops is really disappointing, inserted to keep Denzil in the story while Marton Csokas tracks him down. Throughout the last two acts the thriller/action premise is repeatedly sidestepped, as countless scenes offering the promise of tension and action are skipped, usually straight to McCall barely having broken sweat holding a gun to the bad guys. It gets increasingly unbelievable and unlikely the longer it goes on. I had my head in my hands when the big bearded, shade wearing bad guy declares to Csokas, 'We'll get this guy boss.' before heading out to the toilet. Cue Denzil appearing seconds later with the guy's broken, blood covered shades.

Believability isn't a mainstay of this movie. We are watching entertainment fiction after-all, so why get a little wound-up by Denzil randomly ghosting into various locations with no mind for security, guns or steroid induced bad-guy muscle. Well, Batman pulls this stuff off because he's Batman. The quality of the Equaliser for me is his fallibility. The guy is fifty, doesn't move fast and relies on reflexes and his wits. Apart from one brief moment towards the end, Denzil's McCall easily lopes from scene to scene without being troubled by any heavily tattoed, moustache wearing, thickly accented, machine gun totting bad guys, at all.

And while I'm at it, that closing scene, when you know who tracks McCall down because he's still living in the same house as he was before all that vodka hit the fan. Really? Having pissed off half of Russia, he's a deep cover expert but still in the same house as he was before? The same house they tracked him to in about four minutes an hour earlier?

I love Antoine Fuqua as a director and many of his movies, going back to the supreme Tears of the Sun, the underrated King Arthur and the excellent Mark Wahlberg fronted Shooter. For me though the Equaliser is a big miss. It strives for a beat and style the script can't deliver. If Fuqua had kept to it we would at least have seen the balls to the wall action fest the trailer indicated we'd be getting. The Equaliser ends up missing the action mark and falling short of the high concept thriller it aspires to be, outside of those first thirty minutes.

The production look and feel is full on Hollywood but the longer the show goes on we get a sense this was low budget. It turns out $50 million, which is practically nothing in modern parlance. I'd say they blew a good portion of that in one senseless explosion at the end, that had me looking for Michael Bay in the producer credits.

Of the performances there are many excellent but brief appearances, standout were Halley Bennet as the femme fatale, David Meunier as Slavi the kingpin with a love of beating ChloŽ Moretz's young hooker, all the way to Vladimir Kulich as the all powerful Oligarch at the very end. That said there was some thoroughly unimaginative casting direct from Russian thugs are us and bent cops are us.

Denzil Washington has a quality that draws you to watch him closer the less he does on screen. He does a brilliant job of creating an obsessive ex-cia killer at the beginning, scared to let the demons out, knowing where they will take him if he does. Sadly when he does let them loose, all opportunities to wallow in the madness are only hinted at and repeatedly avoided either by directed or edited intent.

ChloŽ Moretz's young hooker invokes the essence of Jodie Foster from Taxi but isn't given reign to enchant us as Foster did or Moretz did in Kick-Ass. The friendship between Moretz's underage hooker and Denzil's McCall feels natural with her layered innocence wearing down the reclusive McCall. They do just enough for us to believe he would put everything on the line for her. Strangely though, despite the fact Moretz is only seventeen in the real world the production goes to some lengths to make her look older. A younger girl forced to openly ply her trade in the face of American law enforcement would have really made McCall's quest mean something.

I first saw Marton Csokas in the Vin Diesel popcorn spy thriller: xXx. He stole the show in that for me. He has popped up here and there since and always chews up the screen when he does, just as he does here. Csokas is a thoroughly enigmatic presence and like Denzil is entertaining despite the movie they find themselves in descending to Russian mobster cliche. Comparisons between Csokas's Russian bad guy and Kenneth Brannagh's Russian bad guy in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit favour Csokas by some margin.

Summary
The Equaliser is worth watching, renting, borrowing, for the first thirty minutes alone. If you can't get enough of heavily tattoed, machine gun wielding Russian mafia hitmen being taken out (off-screen) by an ex-cia contract killer, then you will probably love the rest too.

I hope this was helpful.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2014 2:51 AM GMT


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Wireless Touch and keyboard for Droid boxes via USB, 10 Oct. 2014
I recently bought an Android TV Box media player and quickly found the remote was a painful device for controlling the cursor or entering any kind of text. I got the Solememo TP801 device on recommendation and while there is one small caveat, it has proved a great buy that will continue to get a lot of use.

When I first started hunting for a Droid controller the range of TP801 devices seemed a good balance between portability and usability, especially for use with Droid boxes. The Solememo TP801 was mix of good reviews and price. It arrived a day after I dropped it into my basket and clicked buy.

Out of the box the Solememo TP801 is the size of a standard touch smartphone. The keyboard and touch area are glazed and take most of the surface of the device. On the left there is a vertical plastic strip containing two small mouse buttons, a four way directional controller for gaming, a toggle to switch between touch and keyboard and a series of led lights to indicate status.

Built into the back is a casing for the USB dongle. The casing for the small dongle is an excellent touch well designed, which greatly reduces the chances of losing it, especially if you're using the TP801 with a range of devices.

On the left side of the unit is an on/off slider and volume rocker, and the right side the micro USB port for charging the internal lithium battery.

The Solememo came charged and was useable out of the box although I gave it a booster charge anyway. I've been using it now for over a month and haven't charged it since. I'm not using it all the time but a few times during the week while I catch-up on the NFL via Gamepass, Netflix and play a few games while relaxing.

Mostly I'm using the touch features of the device but it's very useful to toggle to the keyboard when entering login information to youtube, playstore and Netflix etc.

Now here's the caveat: entering normal characters from the keyboard is like any touch phone, you need to pay attention to the keys you're pressing or you will end up with rubbish on the the screen. You will sometimes need to access the extended characters, which is a simple button press but these characters are printed small and in a dull brown, which means it's almost impossible to see them even in bright light. As I'm usually watching TV or playing games in a low lit room I found I constantly needed to get up and turn on the light to work out where characters like the asterisk were. Then go back, finish with the keyboard entry and then turn the light off - repeat too frequently.

The Solememo TP801 can be used with Windows and it works fine but I cannot imagine any time I would actually use it. You could use it with a Windows Surface but only I imagine for basic gaming using the directional controller. You are not going to use this to do any kind of typing outside of basic login entry.

If you have a Droid box of any description then this is a great way to take control of the device. The Solememo TP801 is easy in the hand, has great battery life and provides both keyboard and touch functionality. If only they had printed the extra characters bigger and in brighter colours this might have made it to five stars.

A recommended buy.

I hope this was helpful.


Guardians Of The Galaxy [DVD] [2014]
Guardians Of The Galaxy [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Chris Pratt
Price: £10.00

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly original, twisting, spectacular fun., 1 Aug. 2014
The appeal of Guardians, that led me to the cinema, was originality. It wasn't a sequel or spin-off although it was a Marvel comic-book adaptation. Marvel have a pretty good track record in that regard and I wasn't disappointed.

Peter Quill aka Starlord was kidnapped from earth in the 1980s, the day his mother died from cancer. Brought up amongst galaxy roaming bounty hunters he is a criminal with a conscience. Tasked with finding a mysterious orb he discovers a secret ancient power. Thrown together with a small band of rogues and misfits Starlord fights to stop this power being used against innocents in the Galaxy.

Guardians is superbly entertaining, one of the best movies I've watched at the cinema for a long time. It is visually stunning, underpinned by superb characterisation and plot turns that never let you rest. The whole audience burst out laughing and spontaneous applause rippled through the cinema on several occasions - unheard of in the UK. Much of its appeal is its many, subtle and not so subtle references to the greatest movie legacies of the last twenty years: Browncoats will find here more heroes. Guardians is brilliant entertainment for its many layers with a nice emotional arc come the end.

There were a couple of small issues. First off the overarching story is thin: the super powerful orb is going to be used to kill innocents unless it can be stopped. Unless you're a purist this isn't going to matter at all because everything going on is so enigmatic, especially the characters and their dynamics, we are there for the ride. Likewise Lee Pace gives the bad guy a wonderful Shakespearian gravitas but he is only the driven bad guy with no shades either way.

What did really annoy me, despite a wonderful overall soundtrack was the monotoned dum dum dum dum audio track played to various speeds during action sequences, of which there are many. It was uniform, totally bland, a contrast to everything else in the movie and so formula and single toned it took me out of the moment every time. The friend I went to the cinema with only agreed on that point in hindsight, it registered but not enough to affect the fun he was having.

Guardians is original, visually stunning, full of creative twists and turns, and full of wonderful characters. A movie well worth seeing at the cinema. I can only imagine it will get better the larger the screen.

I hope this was helpful.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2014 2:52 AM GMT


Hercules [DVD]
Hercules [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dwayne Johnson
Offered by Bee-Entertained
Price: £2.98

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good entertainment with something to say about the sons of gods., 28 July 2014
This review is from: Hercules [DVD] (DVD)
If this had been headlined by anyone other than Dwayne Johnson then I'm not sure I'd have turned up at the cinema. Even then it was a bit touch and go. What could this sword and sandals flick offer that wasn't already covered by many others the last fifteen years? It turns out Hercules is pretty unique in its attempt to say something important about the world we live in, layered beneath the many coloured imagination of director Brett Ratner and the needs of a PG12 rating.

Hercules is one of the great legends of ancient Greece, the half human son of Zeus. The slayer of mighty beasts and a single man able to face down whole armies. Or so the legend says.

It has been three years since Hercules was banished from Athens for the alleged murder of his wife and children. He now roams the lands around the Aegean sea, a mercenary for hire, along with his small band of loyal soldiers. When a beautiful princess asks Hercules to save her father's once proud kingdom from marauding centaurs, he turns her down. Her offer of payment in gold to Hercules weight, is too good to refuse. As Hercules trains the rag tag army of this beleaguered nation and leads them to battle, he and his men realise not all is it what it seems. When Hercules's past turns around and confronts him face on he has to face the reality of his own legend.

Despite an often flat first half carried on the very broad shoulders of our man Dwayne, we realise at the mid-point a quite interesting premise has been played and the second half is quite something. Dwayne is always charismatic if not possessed of the ease Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane have in front of camera, both of which almost steal the show. Hercules small band of warriors work well together although Ian McShane in particular has all the best lines and moments, memorably towards the end.

Ultimately this is very watchable, a good way to spend a few hours on a Friday night. It has a very worthwhile message, is underpinned by great actors and is clever, at least in the second half. But there is something missing. This is a PG12, which means for all the violence, of which there is a lot, there is nothing to ground it as real violence. Hercules has heart but it's a long way short of Conan (1982) and a league apart from Gladiator (2000). By giving it such an unrealistic context, violence without reality, to achieve a younger audience it detracts from the core message, so painstakingly woven through the story.

Hercules is good entertainment with something important to say if you're willing to overlook a few shortcomings, mostly around catering for a younger audience.

I hope this was helpful.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2014 6:52 PM BST


Boy In The Tower
Boy In The Tower
Price: £3.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read viewed through a purple coloured lens, 18 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Boy In The Tower (Kindle Edition)
I always think it's worth keeping an eye on Darley Anderson to see what they're upto. Their latest newsletter had lots of photos of people squeezed into a little shop full of yellow books and big purple flowers. The occasion was the launch of Polly Ho-Yen's The Boy in the Tower. Unusually for a book just launched it was reasonably priced on Amazon, the biggest factor in me buying it. It was downloaded to my Kindle Wednesday night having no idea what it was about, outside of the title. I finished it Thursday night. It isn't a long book but it's wonderfully original with an engaging narrative written entirely from the perspective of a young boy, as he first contends with his sick mother and then giant purple plants that come with the rains and feed on the bricks and concrete London is built upon.

Probably the aspect of this story I loved the most was the thought of the man made constructs of London being eaten by these giant purple flowers and leaving in their wake teemng green nature. There is a part of me, as I suspect will be the case for a good many, that thinks this might not be a bad thing. But for all the cynicism of this reader it is on the narrow shoulders of Ade this book excels as we see innocence face an unfathomable terror and then just get on with life.

The story does stretch thin in places but Ade's narrative holds our attention. The mother is under served, used as a device to keep Ade in the tower, and there are some not so deft slight of hands to cover up the lack of any search and rescue or attempt to signal to the wider world people have survived in the tower. Obi had matches goddamit.

These might not be so obvious to the younger reader. Regardless of age this is a great read that shows us a little of what nature might one day do to us and at the same time the innocence of humanity we should work so hard to protect.

A book for all ages viewed through a purple coloured lens. Highly recommended
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2015 1:53 PM BST


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