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Mr. Laurence Williams "laurence_p_williams" (UK)
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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Blu-ray) [1961]
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Blu-ray) [1961]
Dvd ~ Edward Judd
Price: £8.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated Special-Effects Don't Diminish the Power of the Story or Impressive Acting Performances, Very Good on Blu-ray, 13 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite being something of a sci-fi movie fan, irrespective of the age of the production, the British-made 'The Day the Earth Caught Fire' is one of several older films which had passed me by. So when I saw a promo for a review of this newly-issued and remastered Blu-ray it got my attention, as I'd never even heard of the interesting film title.

So, now having bought and watched this Blu-ray I can say that it is a very decent watch, despite some fairly unconvincing special-effects, and it is presented very well in HD; I'm confident that movie aficionado's and pre-existing fans of the film will testify that it has never looked as good as it does on this remastered BFI production and that they have also provided a decent collection of extras on the disc.

The Amazon synopsis for this film on this webpage describes the plot very well, but if you don't want to know the crucial driving force to the story you should leave well alone so the 'breaking news' aspect of it, which is slowly revealed during the film, is not spoiled for you...

What came across as the significant aspect of this film is courtesy of it being British, meaning that the story concentrates on covering events in the UK and that the cast (and crew/director) are British - which adds to a particular cinematic British 'flavour' and also means of course that the settings will be far more familiar to 'us'.

That 'flavour' was immediately obvious to me, not just because the opening scene is in London but also since the style of the story was portrayed in a certain 'gritty'/no nonsense way, which is not how Hollywood might have treated things....

However, that obvious slant is then emphasised much, much more as the setting then moves to the journalistic offices of a national newspaper in Fleet St and we witness a number of scenes where dialogue is continually spoken at breakneck speed to portray the frenetic working environment as the nightly publishing deadline approaches (much like reading this unpunctuated sentence at speed !).

Those scenes are performed and edited supremely well, giving a genuine impression of realism and 'pace' to events as they unfold - at this point I should mention that that realism is enhanced by the part of the newspaper editor being played essentially 'for real', as the (clearly non-RADA trained !) actor is Arthur Christiansen, who in real-life was the editor of the Daily Express from 1933 to 1957 ! He might deliver some of his lines a bit awkwardly, but it cannot be denied that he gives a definite gravitas to the part and definitely enhances the impression of us really watching activity in the setting being portrayed.

And that's the point of this film really, it's not overly concentrating on the sci-fi aspects of the plot with lots of special-effects etc, but dealing more with the cultural and 'human' aspects affected by the earth 'catching fire', after covering how the newspaper journalists 'uncover' the truth, a la 'All the President's Men' later on and also, far more pertinently, the much more recent 'Deep Impact' where a TV reporter does the same....

That 'flavour' I described includes some quite unusual scenes, including hippy-style 'riots' on the streets of London which are really quite odd, but certainly add to the story in the slightly non-conformist way it is told.

One aspect that does fall short of the norm, even for the early '60s, is the special-effects; when exterior shots are not filmed in what are clearly outside studio sets they often rely on the use of miniature 'dioramas' (with what seems to be 'tailored' backdrop images of the skyline being portrayed) or mattes (which look a bit silly as the traffic is completely static !) and where things such as vehicles or boats do not look at all convincing.

It's the same kind of specific drop in quality which affects, for example, another British classic sci-fi/horror film 'Quatermass and the Pit' (ie those awful ant-like aliens in the discovered film footage !) - luckily, like that Quatermass production this film has enough other laudable attributes to (for me at least) push those minor blemishes into the background...

For balance, I should say that some exteriors are clearly 'real' and that's when the effect the 'fire' has is most effective, with deserted streets etc.

One final unusual aspect is that whist dominantly a black and white movie, the 'fire' aspects which occur at the start and end (as the story is for the most part played in flashback) latterly are depicted by giving the whole picture a light yellow-coloured hue, most of the time that attempt to portray the hot atmosphere works adequately, but like those occasionally dodgy special-effects the overall effect can also be a bit unsatisfactory.

It came as no surprise to find that in HD this film I would think looks and sounds as good as can be, with excellent brightness and good sharpness to the black and white visuals (later embellished with that colour to depict the 'fire'/heat etc)

The soundtrack is largely dialogue, so the soundtrack being mono is not a great problem but at least it is very clear and free of damage/hiss.

I've attached a photo of the back of the case artwork and the enclosed booklet as the standard Amazon images don't show things properly.

So, an 'oldie' this might be but the storyline, unusual central setting and performances make it something special and when bolstered by this new remastering with copious extras and a decent booklet it is elevated further still.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2016 9:45 AM GMT


Mad Max: Fury Road [Blu-ray + Dolby Atmos + Dolby Digital] [2015] [Region Free]
Mad Max: Fury Road [Blu-ray + Dolby Atmos + Dolby Digital] [2015] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Tom Hardy
Price: £6.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Presentation on Blu-ray for this 21st Century 'Wacky Races' - Basic Storyline BUT Spectacular NON-STOP Action, 3 Jan. 2016
Wow, what an incredibly pulsating and memorable watch on Blu-ray this movie was ! Within the first 10mins or so I already felt like my eyes and ears were being 'assaulted'.such was the level of the visuals and sounds.

On Blu-ray everything is presented very well and my surround sound system got a VERY good work out courtesy of the Dolby 'Atmos' HD soundtrack.

Despite having seen the previous 3 'Mad Max' films at the cinema in my youth, I knew little of the plot (such that it is) for this one but had heard that the action was almost non-stop - and it certainly is. Like the earlier efforts, this is something of a 'put your brain in neutral and enjoy the ride' type of film, but none the worse for that, with spectacular settings, effects, action scenes and sound.

If you want to know a bit more detail of the 'plot' then take a look at the Amazon synopsis, but essentially it is 'prisoner/captives escape from tyrannical colony leader' with the emphasis really elsewhere, on the infrastructure, vehicles and rogue/disparate groups chasing and fighting each other over a massive expanse of largely deserted wasteland.

The details of each group reveal a lot of very weird aspects (the story writers went to town using their imagination with this one !), mainly to do with bizarre appearances, ideologies and behaviour - but almost everyone is hell-bent on the destruction of the others (and often themselves !), hence what occurs is one massive chase/battle.

I'm no 'Mad Max' aficionado I'm afraid (I've seen MM1-3, but a long time ago), but as I bought the 'Anthology' boxset which also includes those earlier efforts I can 'catch-up'; however, I don't think that there is too much in terms of 'back-story' relating to those past MM1-3 film 'stories', so this MUCH more recent production can really be watched 'standalone' without any problems.

After I'd recovered from watching 'Fury Road' I did some background reading and discovered that this most recent 'Max' films has the same director as MM1-3; this is something of a surprise considering the timespan over which they were made BUT especially when you consider more recent films by him include 'Babe', 'Babe: Pig in the City' and 'Happy Feet' - what !!!

Those observations aside, he certainly knows how to put a blockbuster movie together as a few niggles aside (some covered lower down), the effort that has gone into a top-notch action movie with full-on/completely committed performances from all the cast for such a weird plot 'concept' cannot be faulted.

There are some fantastic directorial touches, the most notable for me (and possibly missed by most) is after a fade-to-black some 30mins in, after almost constant no-holds barred action, the next scene opens with what looks like a wide aspect landscape shot of a desert plain, only for some movement to reveal that we are actually looking at a close-up of Max, who releases himself from a buried prone position under the sand - what a superb and imaginative 'illusion'....

The rest of the time we are served up regular portions of fast sweeping or close-up shots in and around moving vehicles and surrounding landscapes, to follow the various battling parties engaging each other - that is probably 90% of the film, so you can hopefully appreciate why the action is so dominant and almost 'wearing' to watch....!

The array of vehicle types is wide and numerous and the cast seemingly massive, so along with the action you can hopefully appreciate why this is something of a blockbuster movie - the only contradiction is just the occasional presence of a large setting involving infrastructure, as almost everything happens out in the sandy/rocky wilderness.

The associated body count is high,and the violence often extreme but not overly graphic and both are frequent - but there is rarely any profanity, all factors which probably contribute to this 'Max' movie being the only one that's NOT an '18' certificate (it's a '15').

On Blu-ray everything is (for me) almost presented as good as can be; this film was made for 3D - and for me in 2D it shows a little, with occasional jerkiness in movement and odd blurred perspectives in shots with a long depth of field; it might be me of course, but a few times things looked a bit odd and distracting...

I've far less criticism for the audio, where the 'new' Dolby 'Atmos' variety of HD soundtrack presents things superbly and my surround sound system got a VERY good work out - the opening scenes being an excellent starter as 'echoing' voices bounced around from one speaker to another eg from front right to rear left and so on....

What threw me a little was that as this new Dolby format is not based on DTS my amplifier displayed a usually 'inferior 'Dolby digital' legend for the disc audio track it was processing, when in fact the spatial nature and clarity of the sound was superior to 'even' the normal DTS-HD Master Audio I get on Blu-ray - very, very impressive. Having said that, I think the sound mixing was a bit too ambitious at times as, for example, engine sounds and voices didn't have a constant level throughout the film, sometimes a previously noisy motor was almost inaudible and other times previously prominent voices were almost inaudible to me.

That's why I've not said the audio and visuals were superb, as they often weren't - but I think it's more to do with the production 'style' than the Blu-ray format and things were always still entirely acceptable.

Now to some minor gripes/examples :

1. For me, the Max character played by Tom Hardy initially bears far too much similarity to the 'Bane' character in the recent 'The Dark Knight Rises', where that character was played by.....Tom Hardy !!!

2. Similarly, just like in 'The Dark Knight Rises', the voice of the Tom Hardy character is sometimes softly spoken, other times deep and gruff - a bizarre inconsistency.

3. An example of the occasionally 'off' sound mixing is that early in the film I couldn't quite make out the last word (which was VERY significant to the plot) a certain character said, so I rewound and used the subtitles - but the last word wasn't on the subtitles (another issue) !!! I eventually discovered that the uttered word was 'dad'.....

4. The plot is quite straightforward but sometimes the dialogue is not, and occasionally it is downright weird, as though it had been penned by someone who's native language isn't English eg what on earth does 'encroaching gunfire' mean - I really think they intended that utterance to be 'approaching gunfire', but the audio and subtitles said otherwise....

So, as hinted at before, don't expect too much in the way of back-story BUT there are plenty of times that the basics of the plot are 'revealed', so I'm in disagreement with some other reviewers on that one as many said they thought the plot was non-sensical - it isn't, it's just odd/unusual....!

All told, this is a really good and different blockbuster action movie with little to tax the viewer, aside from the numbing and often overwhelming aural and visual aspects of the action which is virtually continuous. Put the many good aspects of classic films such as 'Sin City, 'Gladiator', 'Batman Begins', 'The Matrix' into a blender and they will form about 40-50% of what this film features, which is then added to in spades !


The Day The Earth Stood Still - Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray] [1951]
The Day The Earth Stood Still - Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray] [1951]
Dvd ~ Michael Rennie
Offered by My Steelbook Collection
Price: £9.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Sci-Fi Classic Presented to It's Best in HD PLUS Loads More Extras (and this great Steelbook !), 20 Dec. 2015
'The Day The Earth Stood Still' is yet another classic Sci-Fi movie dating from the 1950s which still merits viewing, not necessarily for the special-effects (which are fairly limited) but for the very 'deep' and well-portrayed plot, which in some quarters might be viewed as 'propaganda' - but since it's theme is entirely laudable and non-country specific (aside from the story being centred around events in the USA) it is in no way biased in that way.

I already owned the rather aged US-released DVD of the film (a 'flipper' disc), BUT as it's been since re-released not only in an improved Special Edition DVD and now this Blu-ray (which I bought in the steelbook version when it was available for a tempting low price) an upgrade was entirely justified as so much has been improved.

The Amazon synopsis for this film on this webpage is pretty good, with no massive spoilers and nothing to give away the proper meaning of the film's title.

It came as no surprise to find that in HD this film looks and sounds as good as can be, with excellent brightness and sharpness plus a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack for the largely dialogue-based soundtrack; the main exception with the soundtrack is with the marvellous opening scene depicting the arrival of the spaceship, accompanied by an eerie and atmospheric 'electronic' musical background which you might notice was copied to a large degree in the MUCH more recent spoof comedy film by Tim Burton 'Mars Attacks !'....

This Blu-ray even improves on that Special Edition 2-disc DVD in specification at least, with an additional commentary, several more featurettes (although the 'Making Of' is apparently significantly shorter) and the HD audio is also likely to offer a definite improvement of the DVDs DD5.1 version.

Despite the 'revelation' of special-effects for a 1951 film, they and the Sci-Fi ingredients of the film are really just a driver/catalyst for the central plot which is designed to make people think about the situation that affected much of the world at that time. A lot occurs outside so some of the sets are large but actually quite basic and often is, like the the cast, 'artificially' large as it is clear a proportion of 'stock' footage is used for certain scenes.

With this Blu-ray it is the (black and white) visuals which are most improved (since much of the soundtrack is dialogue-based), with an excellent blemish-free picture full of sharpness and good brightness/contrast.

So, despite being comparatively old this Sci-Fi movie is something of a classic, with a poignant central plot the theme of which has 'repeated' itself at least twice since it's inception here.

This recent Blu-ray issue improves massively on the early DVD issue I own and also enhances the selection of special features - I can only presume that it is also better than the more recent 2-disc Special Edition DVD. This steelbook is great, as it emphasises the dominance of the film's 'Robot', having a smart 'brushed aluminium' type exterior (which depicts his 'eye') and a very decent screencap of a scene from the film spanning the 2 sides of the interior - the normal Blu-ray depicts the 'Robot' on the front and arguably gives something away about the plot....

I've attached a photo of the steelbook exterior and interior as the standard Amazon images don't show things properly and omit the interior.
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DJC Touchtab6 Lite 7" Android 5.1 Lollipop Tablet PC (IPS HD touchscreen, Quad Core 1.5GHz CPU Processor, 4G/WiFi, 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage, Expandable Storage, 1024*600 Resolution, 170 pixels per inch, 2MP Dual Camera, Bluetooth, GPS, Metal Shell)
DJC Touchtab6 Lite 7" Android 5.1 Lollipop Tablet PC (IPS HD touchscreen, Quad Core 1.5GHz CPU Processor, 4G/WiFi, 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage, Expandable Storage, 1024*600 Resolution, 170 pixels per inch, 2MP Dual Camera, Bluetooth, GPS, Metal Shell)
Offered by DJC Electronics Ltd

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality for the price BUT With a Significant Storage Limitation (Mostly Solvable), 19 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I use (Android) tablet computers rarely and then only for usually for one specific purpose, to watch my ever-increasing collection of 'UltraViolet' media (the films/shows you get a digital copy of with DVDs etc) when overseas and/or whilst travelling.

This tablet had the screen size I wanted and offered a much newer version of the Android OS for a relatively low price - £56.99 on an Amazon 'Lightning Deal', mid-Dec 15.

So, to enable downloading lots of large filesize movies, I took the 'risk' that it would allow me to use a 64Gb micro SDXC card despite the spec stating the limit was 32Gb (as with many tablets this is usually due to outdated specs not allowing for now bigger SDXC cards) BUT despite this being a newly issued tablet I couldn't be sure that the spec WAS actually correct and that my desired 64Gb micro SDXC card might be 'rejected' by this tablet !

*** The good news is that after buying this 64Gb micro SDXC card :

SanDisk Ultra Android 64 GB microSDXC Memory Card plus SD Adapter up to 80 MB/s, Class 10 FFP [Newest Version]

it was immediately recognised by this tablet and was able to be accessed/used without formatting or any of the well-advertised workaround's for those tablets which initially refuse to recognise the card.

UPDATE - It is now working fine with a 128Gb card which I had formatted as FAT32 using an easily downloadable utility called 'guiformat'.

*** I also assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that the newer Android OS would be fully compatible with the latest Flixster App which allows me to play/download my media collection - like my Samsung Android mobile phone allows me to despite the OS being 'only' 4.2 !!!

Some general observations before I finish the detail about the SD card/storage issue this tablet gave me :

1. The build quality is very pleasing and the retail box (a bizarre 'cheese wedge' shape !) includes a mains PSU with USB socket, a micro USB cable to connect the tablet to the mains PSU, a very skimpy 'Quick Start' guide and a pair of in-ear headphones. The tablet came with a screen protector and back case protector fitted.

2. I downloaded the 'full' user guide from the DJC website, which is more comprehensive but STILL very short of detail.

3. Fortunately, contrary to the user guide, the provided 2.0A mains charger is NOT the only power source for which can be used for charging; thankfully, the tablet will accept charging from my portable usb power pack (10000mAh with 1A output worked fine charging the advertised 2800mAh internal battery).

This is vital for me as I am not always near a mains electricity supply when my devices need charging !

4. Charging while using the tablet is possible, another important 'feature'

5. Power-up takes a rather lengthy 90s or so and you cannot interrupt that process to turn-off again until it's fully on.

6. There is no 'charge' light - you rely solely on the screen charging graphic display.

7. The Arrow/Circle/Square function/App navigation/control buttons at the base of the display work really well, allowing you to switch between running apps with ease and also view a graphical sequential 'history' of what you've done (each history 'window' can be closed to clear it). It may be me, but I can't switch back to running apps on my Samsung mobile phone so this is a definite bonus.

8. The touchscreen works well and the display is very good for watching my UV movies, even in SD; sound broadcasting is not as good but perfectly adequate.

9. OS performance is such that I've never felt it's getting 'maxed-out' (eg slows down) or on the edge of crashing/freezing.

10. Battery life seems to be good and likely to be close to the advertised 8hrs 'normal' use.

*** Now to the bad news about digital storage :

1. The 8Gb of internal storage memory (as opposed to the 1Gb of RAM) has only about 2.5Gb 'available' as the rest is already gobbled-up by the OS and standard-installed apps; you can make more storage memory available by uninstalling apps but I've yet to confirm which can readily be uninstalled without the OS blocking your attempt....

2. Whilst the OS 'Settings' allow you to select SD storage as the default location for saved date etc, this is IGNORED by the OS when installing apps (ie they still are stored on the internal storage memory).

* I know this setting had been made as photos taken with the built-in camera WERE saved to the card....

3. Worse still, the latest Flixster Video app when installed on this machine does not offer the 'download to SD card' option on it's setting menu.

Since my Android 4.1 mobile phone DOES offer this menu option (with exactly the same Flixster Video app installed), I can only surmise that (like app installation to SD card is 'blocked') this limitation is caused by a 'speciality' of the blend of OS dictated by this manufacturer DESPITE the OS being a much more recent issue !!!

This meant that this tablet was destined to be almost useless for my needs, until I learnt about a cunning 'workaround' which allows me to store downloaded media onto the card and still be able to access them via the Flixster app on an individual basis - it's an irritating permanent/constant process, but at least it does mean I can use the tablet for my intended purpose, albeit with some faffing that really should not be required.

The one general proviso I have is that this 'issue' is not necessarily just with this machine or manufacturer, unless you know from another user of an alternative tablet beforehand there is no guarantee that the Flixster Video app will work completely as intended as Flixsters advertised support for Android is inconsistent and very poorly detailed (eg compatible machines etc).

and that's after you've established that your desired tablet will work OK with a 64Gb card (necessary for downloaded movies) !!!

---
So, even with a SD card installed, you can't install apps onto it (some apps can be moved to it using other utility apps available for download), especially important if you install a lot and so 'fill' the internal storage memory.
---

Overall then, if the SD card download/app installation issue is not a factor for you this tablet should be perfectly acceptable and offers very good value for money with very good general functionality.

The additional, initial, good news is of course that a 64Gb or even 128Gb card is readily usable in this machine....

* - Another update after significant use on a recent overseas trip: the display is really very good indeed, even Ultraviolet films downloaded as 'SD' quality present themselves extremely well on the 7" screen version I bought and the sound via headphones is also very acceptable. I can get about 5-6hrs film-watching per battery charge, which makes the device very practical for use 'on the move'.

Another bonus is that if you follow the instructions on a card inside the box (starting by writing an Amazon review for the tablet) you can claim a free case, car adaptor, 8Gb SD micro card, stylus and screen protector with free p&p. I did this and received the items a few days later !

However if, like me, the SD card storage issues are or might be a factor then take note, BUT even if you spend more money on a different tablet you could still have the same problem as it isn't really properly covered by any tablet manufacturer or app developers such as, for example, Flixster.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2016 11:00 PM GMT


Forbidden Planet Blu ray Steelbook - Entertainment Exclusive [UK Import]
Forbidden Planet Blu ray Steelbook - Entertainment Exclusive [UK Import]
Dvd ~ Leslie Nielsen
Offered by Planet Games And Gadgets
Price: £18.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Blu-ray Provides Yet More Definition To This Sci-Fi Classic Over the Recent DVD and Adds More Extras, 19 Dec. 2015
Forbidden Planet is one of those films I caught as a youngster many years after it's 1956 release but have watched many times since then as whilst it is old, some of the special effects are still impressive but most importantly the story is interesting and well-portrayed. I already owned the US-released 'Ultimate Collector's Edition' DVD 'steelbox' of the film :

Forbidden Planet: Ultimate Collector's Edition [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

but from reviews I understood that this new Blu-ray improved on that issue further still, so plumped for the Blu-ray steelbook when it was available for a tempting low price.

This new HD issue definitely DOES improve on that DVD, but whilst the 'quality' differences ARE visible they are not enormous as that recent DVD was already pretty good; an advantage the Blu-ray DOES provide is the addition of more extras.

As the Blu-ray steelbook webpage on Amazon omits a film synopsis, here's a paste of it from the webpage for the 'normal'/identical Blu-ray :

'Forbidden Planet is the granddaddy of tomorrow, a pioneering work whose ideas and style would be reverse-engineered into many cinematic space voyages to come. Leslie Nielsen plays the commander who brings his space-cruiser crew to Planet Altair-4, home to Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter (Anne Francis), a dutiful robot named Robby and to a mysterious terror. Featuring sets of extraordinary scale and the first all-electronic musical soundscape in film history, Forbidden Planet is in a movie orbit all its own.'

A few (of what I consider to be) notable points about the film :

1. The story apparently has many references/similarities to the themes in the Shakespeare work 'The Tempest'; I haven't read it, so can't comment further.

2. The lead actor in the film is none other than the quite fantastic, usually dead-pan expressioned, Leslie Nielsen - he more latterly perhaps better known for his stellar comedic appearances in films such as 'Airplane' and 'The Naked Gun' plus the TV series 'Police Squad' for example; nuff said....

3. Anther significant character is 'Robby' the robot.

4. This steelbook continues the error my DVD 'steelbox' has of the front artwork showing Robby carrying a voluptuous woman, a scene which does not appear in the film !

The film has a terrific blend of humour (not from the Leslie Nielsen character but the ships cook, who is something of a 'wheeler-dealer' !) and seriousness, largely due to references of an aged civilisation and the psychological effects it still apparently has on other characters in the film.

The special-effects used to portray the infrastructure of the aged civilisation are impressive, with a wealth of expansive layouts - all accompanied by an eerie array of sounds.

This Blu-ray broadcasts the often buoyant soundtrack very well, courtesy of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 format which is a definite improvement of the DVDs DD5.1 version, there is noticeable activity in the rear channels. The vibrant, colour, picture is as good as you could expect - being as clear and bright as the DVD I own but with often noticeably more detail in the finer aspects eg the complicated mechanics inside the glass dome 'head' of Robby can be seen to their best.

So, despite being comparatively old this Sci-Fi movie is something of a classic, with many interesting aspects to the story and some very good visual and sound-effects to enhance the 'mystery' elements of things as they are played out.

This recent Blu-ray issue improves on the later DVD issue further still with a much better audio format and the ultimate in definition for the finer details of the picture - it also enhances the selection of special features. Whilst the steelbook is nice, it unfortunately gives total coverage to the image of Robby the robot in a non-existent scene - the normal Blu-ray has a similar picture, this time in the background BUT it correctly portrays a scene from the film as the person Robby carries is different.

Whilst the Amazon product images show the steelbook front and covering quite well, I've attached photos of the entire steelbook exterior/interior as Amazon don't show them properly.
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Mr Turner [Blu-ray] [2014]
Mr Turner [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Timothy Spall
Price: £7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing, Rather Long, 'Biopic' With a Great Lead Performance - Blu-ray Shows the Beautiful Cinematography to It's Best, 15 Nov. 2015
I first saw this film in the cinema on release, provoked by some positive reviews and as it featured the usually excellent Timothy Spall in the lead role.

So, despite already having seen it I was so impressed by the performance of Spall and the frequent, quite beautiful cinematography of outside scenery and settings.

On Blu-ray, everything looks as superb as it did in the cinema, with those beautifully scenic surroundings being shown to their best. The sound presentation is as good as it needs to be for what is a soundtrack overwhelmingly of dialogue and occasional short excerpts of classical-type music.

This film is essentially a 'biopic' of the artist J. M. W. Turner, which I feel concentrates more on his life rather than his work - although his various artistic productions are cleverly interwoven into the story often by us seeing him at the setting for what he has painted, as opposed to us seeing him actually produce it.

Not knowing a lot about the life of Turner, I can't get involved in any 'discussion' (or argument as it seems to feature quite a lot !) about factual accuracy, suffice to say that whether the events are true or not they are portrayed with great effectiveness and attention to detail.

*** What I've already stated goes some way to forming an overall feeling that whilst I found this film entertaining, it is also most certainly a 'bum number' of the highest order (justifiably so perhaps, due to the person in question and the aim of the production) AND it is overwhelmingly VERY slow-paced. When I go to my local flicks I see movies on a special Thursday morning screening for the more 'mature' viewer - the usual intermission employed by the cinema owners was never more appropriate for this film - you have been warned !!!

Allowing for those potential 'turn offs', I think that many others are likely to find watching this film as rewarding as I did; as a related aside, my ignorance of Turner's work is now resolved to a degree and as a result of my admiration for it, I have been prompted to visit the National Gallery on 2 occasions already to see many of the impressive originals which feature in this film eg 'The Fighting Temeraire' and 'Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway'.

[BTW, has anyone noticed that in the marvellous film 'Skyfall', Bond first meets 'Q' in the National Gallery whilst viewing 'The Fighting Temeraire', a cultured fella indeed !]

Suffice to say, despite the lengthy running time I found this film satisfyingly engrossing and I especially enjoyed not just the performance of Spall, but the cast as a whole AND the excellent portrayal of the period settings - as well as that beautiful cinematography of outside scenery of course...

This Blu-ray is VERY skimpy with the extras, with 'just' a 30min making-of type featurette - once again I see that the US (Region A locked unfortunately) release adds what I would have thought could/should be an enlightening director audio commentary, as well as an additional featurette - why do we miss out ?

Unfortunately (with my disc at least), we also get several uncharacteristically lengthy periods of disc-loading activity, not helped by the screen remaining blank with no icon to indicate what's going on - very disconcerting and even more baffling when it happens when the featurette is selected for playback....

I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.

So, despite being a real 'bum number' I enjoyed man aspects of this film on Blu-ray and feel that the extended running-time is justified to properly 'portray' the life of such an important personality - the only blemish with this disc is the very disappointing extras 'count' (especially when additional material clearly exists), and those pesky disc-loading 'interludes' as well of course...
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The Frozen Ground [Blu-ray]
The Frozen Ground [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Price: £5.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow-Paced Crime Drama, Based on Real Events, Which Concentrates on Character and Police Investigations - Very Good on Blu-ray, 15 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this film on Blu-ray mainly due to it going cheap, as I'd heard some sufficiently positive remarks about it to take the risk and as it includes the usually reliable presence of Nicolas Cage and John Cusack in lead roles.

If you need to learn a bit about the 'story' (more on that in the next paragraph), the Amazon synopsis does a good job without any real spoilers.

Of particular importance, the only thing that I would mention (and which I didn't realise beforehand) is that the featured criminal, several of the victims and the occurrences portrayed are either real or at least based on factual events; this makes the overall effect of watching this 'story' MUCH more significant and I wish I had realised that fact before.

*** It does. for me, also make the way this film is marketed a little distasteful (eg references to the crime thriller 'Seven') and, with hindsight, I was definitely unhappy with the style of musical accompaniment used at the end credits, ESPECIALLY as it includes a series of photos of some of the victims in happier times - I think both these aspects are totally inappropriate for the grim (essentially true) subject matter, what on earth were the producers/marketers thinking (or not probably) ???

On Blu-ray everything looks and sounds as good as you would expect of a modern release, but since it also does not rely on special-effects etc, and as the settings are predominantly in buildings (with occasional scenes in expansive natural settings) AND the soundtrack is essentially 'just' dialogue I don't necessarily think that it is essential to watch it in HD.

Leaving the factual element and those inappropriate aspects of the production/marketing aside, like any film which dramatises the goings-on of a serial killer, and the progress of the police piecing-together their discoveries and trying to solve cases of murder, there is obviously no humour and a lot is rather grim.

As a strong compliment, I think the structure of this film shares a lot of similarities to the (earlier) excellent Fincher film 'Zodiac', especially as that film also had a foundation in fact; both concentrate more on the police activities, despite us knowing in 'The Frozen Ground' the identity of the killer - and that was the right thing to do I think.

So, the telling of events is well-executed and the performance of all the cast is similar accomplished; this leaves me a little confused when I see that many critics disliked the film, although various 'viewer' outlets show more favourable responses, including the reviews on this website of course !

The picture is sharp/bright and flawless and the sound clear albeit rather inactive, BUT due to the predominantly dramatic content I would have thought that the DVD would offer perfectly acceptable viewing quality...

The Blu-ray includes just a 20min featurette which I doubt I'll ever watch, BUT despite that it's still worth pointing out that the US (Region A locked unfortunately) release adds a UV copy, about 90mins of additional featurette-type material AND a writer/director audio commentary - why do we miss out ?

I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.

So, whilst not in the same league as the similar'ish 'Zodiac' I'll certainly watch this film again at some point due to the notable actor performances, rather than any mystery and tension since they are quite lacking (partly because the killer is identified early on, but 'The Silence of the Lambs' proves that doesn't have to be a hindrance). Yes, like 'Zodiac', this film is also very slow-paced but whilst 'The Frozen Ground' does have those additional shortcomings it is still a very watchable drama which looks and sounds good on Blu-ray.
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Ex Machina [Blu-ray] [2015]
Ex Machina [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Domhnall Gleeson
Price: £5.00

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mesmerising, Engrossing and Shocking Sci-Fi Drama/Mystery - Great on Blu-ray BUT Woeful Extras, 14 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having missed it in the cinema, I had been keen to see this film as the little I'd heard about it provoked my interest and the seeing images of the female robot character in marketing material did little to dampen the intrigue.

Now having watched the film on Blu-ray, aside from saying how well it comes across in HD, it certainly entertained me and left me wanting to watch it again quite soon so I could ensure I'd fully grasped all the intricacies of the plot.

If you need to learn a bit about that plot, the Amazon synopsis does a good job without any great spoilers.

Contrary to others, I was left with the impression that this film is more of a drama/mystery rather than an out and out thriller....

My desire to watch again soon is not diminished by still remembering the fundamentals of how things play out in the story (including the dramatic climax) - those intricacies of the plot are so thought-provoking that, if this film is to your taste, you will want to ensure you've fully grasped an appreciation of all the detail. I say that despite the fact that the essentials of the film are really quite straightforward, with the main cast of 3 characters and the story essentially being played out in just one building being the primary factors proving that.

There really is so much 'going on' with those 3 main characters and their interaction - the screenplay could quite easily be adapted to make a stage play (although certain scenes are set outside in beautifully scenic surroundings).

With the film having such a dominance of dialogue and exchanged glances between characters, rather than fast moving/high-octane action scenes for example, there is scope for some to find this film 'boring' and/or monotonous, so you have been warned; if it helps, a good comparison (for multiple reasons) would be with the classic Kubrick movie '2001: A Space Odyssey', which is similarly 'slow-paced' but is still very popular due to its concept and visual/dialogue 'ingredients'...

I must also mention many similarities with the Deckard vs Rachel relationship (and the 'Voight-Kampff tests) from the classic Sci-Fi film 'Blade Runner', which must surely have been an influence for this story....

One difference between this film and 2001 though is that 'Ex Machina' was made with a relatively tiny budget of $15 million !!!

Suffice to say, I found the film mesmerising, engrossing and shocking - in no small part to the excellent lead-character performances with, for me, particular focus on Oscar Isaac (I'd never seen or heard of him before) who really did manage to eventually leave me disgusted with the character he portrayed (importantly, from an initial far less negative impression); I can immediately recall the performances of 2 other actors who had the skill to also successfully manage that, being Russell Crowe in 'LA Confidential' and latterly Dominic West in the superb HBO TV series 'The Wire'.

On Blu-ray, everything looks and sounds wonderful, with those beautifully scenic surroundings and (of course) the overall form of the female robot and her detailed 'workings' being shown to their best. Another strong aspect is with the musical soundtrack, which is often very dominant and extremely atmospheric via DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. So, despite there being a predominance of dialogue, it is those 2 aspects of this film which I think are likely to make seeing it on Blu-ray more fulfilling than DVD. Another bonus with Blu-ray is that you get a UV copy, which I think will come in handy for those intended repeat viewings whilst I'm on the road.

However, a shortfall with the Blu-ray and DVD is with the extras, which are VERY skimpy for such a deserving case. This point is proven by the fact that the US (Region A locked unfortunately) release adds nearly 2hrs of additional, worthwhile-looking, featurette-type material as compared to the paltry 12mins or so (of fairly lightweight promotional type) coverage that the UK disc gets - shame on Universal for short-changing us....

I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.

So, despite being a relatively low-budget movie 'Ex Machina' comes across as nothing of the sort, supplemented by an intriguing plot and those fantastic lead-actor performances. The production values are quite low key, but I think that this film still deserves to be seen (and heard) in HD, with the only blemish being the disappointing extras 'count'.
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray SteelBook]
Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray SteelBook]
Dvd ~ Donald Sutherland

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sci-Fi/Horror Classic, Great on Blu-ray with Very Decent Extras and a Smart Steelbook Option, 11 Nov. 2015
I've seen this sci-fi/horror film (a superior remake of the 1956 effort) quite a few times on TV, but when it was given the HD treatment for this recent Blu-ray issue AND I could get it as a steelbook it was just too tempting.

Arrow have produced another gem here. The soundtrack is not that lively, being mostly dialogue, but when the occasional creepy music plays it is bounced around my surround setup very well courtesy of the clear DTS Master Audio 5.1 choice (make sure you have it selected as there is a DD2.0 option...). The picture is just as impressive, being pleasingly sharp, blemish-free and wonderfully bright - with solid black-levels for the frequent nighttime scenes.

Amazon have a decent synopsis for this product, so if you need to know more about the film or disc extras take a peek...

The 50-odd page booklet is great addition and, for once, us Brits get a superior release with stacks more (worthwhile) extras !

I've attached a photo of the steelbook interior and accompanying booklet, Amazon show the outside well enough already...

So, whilst this film may be approaching it's 40th year it still manages to scare and provoke, largely due to the foundation in a strong story (based on a novel of the same name) supported by good acting and strong production-values. There may well be newer 'anniversary' issues in the pipeline BUT it is difficult to see how they could improve on this release, since it provides exemplary sound and image, a decent booklet and an impressive steelbook option.
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The Drop  [Blu-ray + UV Copy]
The Drop [Blu-ray + UV Copy]
Dvd ~ Tom Hardy
Price: £8.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'Slow-Burner' Crime Drama Which Concentrates on Character and Plot Rather than Action - Very Good on Blu-ray, 3 Nov. 2015
I bought this film on Blu-ray mainly due to the advertised cast and especially as it includes the always impressive James 'Tony Soprano' Gandolfini (in his last film role before his untimely death).

Soon after I started watching the film it became apparent that it wasn't going to be quite what I had expected (a fast-moving action/drama), as the story and events unfolded at a relatively leasurely pace and there were lots of scenes building the plot and developing the characters. Having said that, it was still a good watch but it was a little too slowly-paced to keep me completely engrossed and not occasionally mentally thinking about the current running-time...

On Blu-ray everything looks and sounds as good as you would expect of a modern release, but since it also does not rely on special-effects etc, as the settings are predominantly in buildings/compressed city centres AND the soundtrack is essentially 'just' dialogue I don't necessarily think that it is essential to watch it in HD.

If you need to learn a bit about the plot, the Amazon synopsis does a good job without any real spoilers. The only thing that I would mention is that this film is based (and was filmed) in Brooklyn, NYC - NOT Boston, as I've seen mentioned in several other places !!!

Whilst the main cast is 3-pronged (and a rather too-prominent pet dog), this film revolves around the Tom Hardy lead-character with Noomi Rapace (the 'Girl' films + 'Prometheus') and James Gandolfini in significant supporting roles; I also soon recognised an actor playing a prominent part as the Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts, who was in the engrossing foreign-language film 'Bullhead' that I'd seen not too long ago, which was directed by the same person that directed this film.

The connections continued as whilst watching and realising the pace of the film, it soon made me think of the type of structure that films directed by Clint Eastwood have, with his interesting but again slow-paced effort 'Mystic River' coming to mind; and blow me, but afterwards I discovered that the source novel of the film and it's screenplay were by Dennis Lehane, who is also responsible for the novels 'Mystic River' and 'Gone Baby Gone' (which was also made into yet another slow-paced, but FAR less entertaining, film by the quite awful Ben Affleck).

Therefore, if you like your drama movies 'a la' Clint Eastwood, despite this one NOT being directed by him it still exhibits the same characteristics of intense acting, heavy plot, not too much 'action', lots of character-development and that slow-pace meaning that it should satisfy you, except for me this time I was also left satisfied whereas Clint Eastwood directed-films usually leave me generally unsatisfied (exception 'Unforgiven') and almost comatose !!!

I can't quite put my finger on the reasons why this film managed to avoid the Eastwood 'curse' of near-mundanity, but I think it must have something to do with scenes not being dragged-out too long and that the lead cast provoking a bit more interest in their characters from me (a good example would be the imposing performance here by Gandolfini, akin to the same dominance of Gene Hackman in 'Unforgiven') - plus of course some kudos to Michael R. Roskam and for him NOT directing too much like Clint Eastwood !

I'm not diminishing the performance of Tom Hardy either, BUT I did feel that he laid on the 'mystery' and apparent meekness of his character a little too much - so much so that I sensed a twist in the plot (of which there are several) was beckoning, confirmed by several unsubtle 'flags' beforehand....I do think he's better-suited to fast-paced action though eg 'Inception'.

Somewhat predictable plot-twists aside, the story is structured and told well - with a lot of strands to keep you on your toes and maintain your attentiveness. I also felt that the acting and often on-location sets helped with the believability of the 'tale'....

The Blu-ray includes a director/write commentary, deleted scenes and some (rather too promotional) featurettes, one being about that pesky dog ! The picture is sharp/bright and flawless and the sound clear albeit rather inactive, BUT due to the predominantly dramatic content I would have thought that the DVD would offer perfectly acceptable viewing quality - except that I think you would miss out on the UV copy that the Blu-ray includes....

I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.

So, one thumb-up from me and a film I'll happily watch again - largely due to the quality of the acting. Yes, a little slow-paced but not pretentiously so and not so slow that the film becomes boring; it's just that whilst things do 'happen', it's all a bit lightweight and it really does overplay the pet dog subject-matter - plus the twists, for me, weren't....
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