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Mr. A. Whiteside "tonyjackie3" (uk)

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Downton Abbey: Series 2 [DVD] [2011]
Downton Abbey: Series 2 [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Maggie Smith
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £2.80

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This series was always going to get a drubbing, 7 Nov. 2011
It was extremely predictable really given the enormous success of the first series of 'Downton Abbey'. It won plaudits, loads of awards and was universally praised. So it comes as no surprise at all that many critics and reviewers have ripped into series two.

Was it as good as the first series? No, not if I'm honest. Does it leave itself open to parody? Of course it does and I still remember Stanley Baxter's merciless mickey take of 'Upstairs Downstairs' which was hilarious but didn't do that legendary series any harm. I mean, Matthew crippled for life and then walking again, the relationship between the Earl and Bates, the pantomime villainy of Thomas, the fact that Cora still sounds a bit like the chef from the Muppets. All of these are ripe for future TV comedy sketch shows and poor old Downton will just have to grin and bear it. Some of the dialogue can seem unintentionally funny and many scenes are predictable.

So far then, it seems that I am also jumping on the bandwagon and ripping this second series to pieces. Not a bit of it! I found it addictive, very well filmed and generally very well acted. I read one critic who said that Downton has become a posh soap opera with far too much going on and not enough time for stories to develop. What a shock, a TV drama where there is plenty happening and that always has a cliff hanger. Julian Fellowes has also had a drubbing which is ridiculous, let most of us try and write a drama like this and see where we get, not very far I guess and nowhere near the quality of his writing.

The acting from Dame Maggie Smith was fantastic as usual and even though she could play this type of role in her sleep it doesn't make her performnce any less terrific. I have always thought that Joanne Froggatt was a smashing actress but I hope that she now gets the chance to show just how good she can be given the situation with her husband Mister Bates at the very end of the series. There is to be a Christmas special and that is good news as many of us know that it will be a quality one off with still many twists and turns.

So yes, while it isn't quite on a par with series one, I still give this five stars for the reason that there was something to enjoy in every episode and we did genuinely look forward to how things would progress. It is top drawer television and it was always going to fall into second series syndrome and by that I mean it was built up only to be predictably knocked down. It is far fetched yes, but it is a lot better than many other programmes that are raved about. I would add though, that series three will have to tread carefully just in case it gets a little too daft as at the moment Downton is getting away with a few things that other series might not do. It's still a cracking series and I don't think that Julian Fellowes will let things get too out of hand.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 28, 2011 1:56 PM GMT

Doc Martin - Series 5 [DVD]
Doc Martin - Series 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Martin Clunes
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £5.45

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still an entertaining series, 4 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Doc Martin - Series 5 [DVD] (DVD)
This latest series of 'Doc Martin' lost a couple of characters in Auntie Joan and Pauline which was a pity but it did have adequate replacements in the shape of Auntie Ruth and Morwenna. I wouldn't say that this series was quite as good as the first two but it was definitely on a par with series three and four.

As always, the scenery is stunning and the acting generally excellent across the board. Some of the storylines were perhaps a little farcical and there was maybe too much of PC Penhale but by and large I believe there is still plenty of life left in and around Port Wenn. Martin Clunes is always a treat as the grumpy Doc but Caroline Catz is his equal with her terrific portrayal of Louisa.

Series 5 was consistantly watchable, not 'Doc Martin' at it's very best maybe but still much better than many other TV offerings. I do feel though that the Doc and Louisa actually work better when they are apart so to speak so it will be interesting to see how things develop if there is a series 6, which I hope there will be. Still recommended viewing.

The Last Templar
The Last Templar
by Raymond Khoury
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A story that runs out of steam, 2 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Last Templar (Paperback)
I genuinely enjoyed some of 'The Last Templar'. It started out OK and the story was pretty good. The best bits for me were the flashbacks to the 11th and 12th centuries which were interesting and reasonably gripping. There are blatantly obvious comparisons with 'The Da Vinci Code' which I won't go into too much here but gradually, my interest in this story started to wane badly and the main reason was because of the character of Tess.

Tess becomes a major pain and I ended up not caring what happened to her in the slightest. She virtually abondons her child and is seen as being self serving, sex starved and really annoying. At one point she tells Reilly 'Last time I checked I thought I looked pretty damn good'. What a twit! She does have some unconvincing redemption towards the end though. Her love interest Reilly (who she also abandons) is a police officer and he is OK until he falls for Tess and his character becomes increasingly unconvincing and the story as a whole becomes way too far fetched and cliched. There are dark secrets about Jesus Christ, a very intelligent man that becomes a villain, a religious assistant that is also psychotic and secrets hiiden by the Vatican. Sound familiar?

There are some good moments but this story falls quite rapidly into silliness with many characters that you really couldn't care less about and I actually wanted the story to end well before I reached the last page.


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the silent greats, 27 Oct. 2011
I had heard quite a bit about 'Broken Blossoms' so decided to give it a try. This particular DVD is the one I finally plumped for and it is a Korean import under the heading 'Griffith Masterworks'. The actual movie itself is terrific and it highlights the fact that Lillian Gish was a fabulous actress. All performances are fine with Richard Barthelmess good as the humble Chinaman who becomes obsessed with the character of Lucy. Donald Crisp is a little hammy as Battling Burrows but he does exude menace at the right times and is a truly memorable villain. But it is Miss Gish that steals the show here as tragic Lucy and the much lauded scene where she is trapped in a cupboard as her Father smashes the door in is acting at it's finest, you can feel her fear. D. W. Griffith does a great job with his direction and the movie has a remarkably realistic feel to it.

The picture on this DVD version is fine considering it's age. There are many blemishes in places but generally for a movie that was made in 1919 there isn't much to complain about. The sound is a very pleasant stereo mix and suits the movie very well. It's a little jumpy in a few places but it is pretty good. There are several extras listed on the sleeve but only one actually appears on this DVD and that's the 'Broken Blossoms' song so that is a bit of a disappointment. The DVD played absolutely fine and the Korean subtitles are easily removed.

This is a good version to get but I believe there is a better one on region 1 so that may be the one to go for. If you don't want to spend too much though, this version is ideal but loses a star because of the misleading extras listed.

Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £2.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype..This isn't great, 22 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Shutter Island [DVD] (2010) (DVD)

Once again, this is a movie that has garnered many five star reviews and this puzzles me as I found the movie to be extremely predictable. By that I don't mean that I guessed the whole of the plot, I mean that 'Shutter Island' was so obviously set up to have a twist to the story. My fiancee guessed within fifteen minutes that all wasn't what it seemed to be and and while I don't want to discuss the plot, it seemed obvious that Leonardo's character (MAJOR SPOILER!!!) was an inmate. He was looking for the elusive 67th patient and it was no surprise at all when it turned out to be him.

As I stated earlier, I didn't guess everything but I did suss quite a bit and I found this movie to be too slow paced and actually boring in places. The acting is a mixed bag with the best performance coming from Di Caprio and some other parts not really acted that well to be honest. It does have it's moments but they are few and far between and this is one movie I would defintely pull the shutters down on in future.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 12, 2012 12:30 PM GMT

Hanna [DVD]
Hanna [DVD]
Dvd ~ Saoirse Ronan
Price: £2.74

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An extra star for Cate, 18 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Hanna [DVD] (DVD)
This movie didn't do much for me at all. It stars Saoirse Ronan as a kind of super intelligent action child and it is totally unconvincing. 'Hanna' is full of character's you couldn't care less about including a very annoying English family she encounters along the way. There are several unconvincing action scenes and many completely inept 'agents' that are disposed of very easily. Saoirse Ronan is a decent actress but I was never convinced this role suited her and she sometimes looked uncomfortable in her action scenes.

I was surprised to see Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana in this, especially the usually terrific Cate who, while this isn't her best performance, is the best thing in this lacklustre effort. It's the kind of movie that makes you think 'Is that it?' when it ends and came pretty close to getting one star but scrapes two because of Cate.

Price: £9.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven at times but generally good, 8 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Aerial (Audio CD)
Is this a pointless release? It is essentially the same as the original apart from the fact that CD2 has now merged into one track so to speak and it is an idea that works rather well. In fact, it does improve on the original idea so in that sense it is worth buying.

Taking the album as a whole, I think it is a little uneven with some mediocre tracks mixed with some superb stuff. CD 1 has it's moments but 'Bertie' and 'Mrs Bartolozzi' aren't anywhere near Kate at her best. I do like 'Pi' and 'How To Be Invisible' though and 'Joanni' has grown on me. CD 2 is where the albums true strength lies with some truly fabulous songs that showcase Kate's tremendous talents. 'Sunset', 'Nocturne' and 'Aerial' compare favourably with some of her best work and there is a feeling that she might yet make an album to compare with the superb 'Hounds of Love'.

This isn't her best album by a long way but it is vastly superior to the recent 'Director's Cut', which was in retrospect disappointing. Her next release '50 Words for Snow' sounds very promising with artists such as Elton John, Stephen Fry and Andy Fairweather Lowe making an appearance. It does sound as though it might be terrific, here's hoping. But getting back to 'Aerial', it is a good album with more good moments than bad. CD2 is a real grower, it may take a few listens but it is a fine pice of work.

Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009]
Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: £2.74

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 24 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I found this movie to be a disappointment. Robert Downey Jr is always watchable but his English accent here was very hit and miss which is a surprise because it was so good in the splendid 'Chaplin [DVD]'. At times it was a struggle to tell what he said. Jude Law is OK as Watson but probably the best performance was from Mark Strong as the villain of the piece.

The storyline wasn't great, the CGI wasn't great either and the direction from Guy Ritchie was a bit like seen it, done it, perhaps try a different approach. He was originally a groundbreaking director with his quick scenes, striking camera and fabulous soundtracks but now his tricks have been seen too many times. There is a nice soundtrack from the ever reliable Hans Zimmer and some of the action scenes aren't too bad. Overall though, this is a mish mash of a movie and I expected better. Maybe I'm just too used to Jeremy Brett!

Orphan [DVD]
Orphan [DVD]
Dvd ~ Vera Farmiga
Price: £5.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better recent horror movies, 18 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Orphan [DVD] (DVD)
This is a movie that surprised me in the fact that I consider most modern horror movies to be boring. 'Orphan' is actually pretty good, not as good as the recent 'The Orphanage [DVD]' but a decent attempt.

Without going into the story too much, the movie would have failed completely if the character of Esther had been portrayed badly. Fortunately, Isabelle Fuhrman is terrific in the role, giving just the right amount of menace and supposed sincerity at the correct time. I also think that Aryana Engineer deserves credit as the deaf Max in a part that could be easily have been overlooked. There isn't really a duff performance here to be honest.

Perhaps the final ten minutes become a little too cliched and maybe the husband could have been more supportive to the wife at times but 'Orphan' is by and large well worth watching.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [DVD] [2011]
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Daniel Radcliffe
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £5.46

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent finale, 3 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wasn't expecting much from this final Harry Potter movie as the previous two had left me underwhelmed. 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 [DVD]' was OK but 'Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince [DVD]' was very disappointing. I am pleased to admit that 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2' was a very good final movie which brought a fitting conclusion to the franchise.

It moves along at a cracking pace, the acting is good and there are some fabulous set pieces. What I really liked was the fact that this movie shows that a British blockbuster can be every bit as good as an American one. OK, there are some parts I wasn't sure about, especially the way that the deaths of well known characters was almost glossed over. But really, this is a terrific and action packed movie that deserves credit for it's pacing, direction and storyline.

There have been a few liberties taken with the book but I honestly didn't find that a problem at all which wasn't true of the two previous movies. I was well and truly glad to be proved wrong about my concerns beforehand and David Yates really came good here. Recommended.

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