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Avengers Assemble [Blu-ray] [Region Free] [2012]
Avengers Assemble [Blu-ray] [Region Free] [2012]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £6.82

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The assembly is good enough for me (and 99.99% of you too), 21 Sept. 2012
Yes, the special features are non-existent. Yes, there are a few seconds missing compared with the American version but, seriously, what is the problem? I own several hundred DVDs and (shock horror!) I bought them to see the films they contain. I cannot remember the last time I accessed, let alone sat through, the directors' commentary on a DVD (sad but true, we didn't get them on VHS and I don't remember feeling cheated then, either). Chances are, you have bought this because you liked the movie and wanted to get a copy or you heard good things about it and wanted to see it. Guess what? You get to see it if you buy this DVD! I didn't get a directors commentary in the cinema and, frankly, I am not bothered that I don't get one at home either. The "controversy" is a fan-boy storm in a tea cup.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2012 2:17 PM BST

Spooks: Code 9 (BBC Series) [2008] [DVD]
Spooks: Code 9 (BBC Series) [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joanne Frogatt

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So bad, it's...bad!, 1 Sept. 2008
I'm not sure whether I had as high hopes as some for a post-apocalyptic storyline without some massive set budget but this one really is a stinker. It may, in truth, have got better but I ran like the wind after about 30 mins of the first episode.

It is set in the near future where terrorists have decimated the South of England and the nation's future is in a bunch of Hollyoaks wannabes. Oh, and it is set in the North (presumably for added "grimness" and less travelling for the Hollyoaks mob). It also seems that the terrorists have used some kind of ultra smart bomb, capable of taking out anyone in MI5 with either an ounce of sense, charisma, acting ability or old enough to drink legally.

The great thing about Spooks proper was the way that, with a bit of tongue in cheek, it tried to credit the audience with some intelligence and interest in world affairs and had a nice line in British spy superiority. Maybe Code 9 is a clever satire on the fact that our future is represented by a bunch of uneducated wasters. Or maybe it is trying to tap into a specific target audience at the expense of 99% of the viewing public.

Frankly, I would avoid it like the plague. As spin offs/sequels go, it makes Ashes to Ashes and Joey look like Frasier or Godfather II. And if this is the future, then I am booking a ticket for ground zero...

For kicks? I'd give it a lot more than four kicks...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2008 12:58 PM BST

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HULK SMASH(ing), 1 July 2008
First things first- this is plainly not a review of the DVD release. I'm sure in due course you will see one and two disc versions, the latter of which will contain loads of "essential" extras such as short documentaries about the CGI, some commentaries etc. However, you won't buy it because of the extras and so here is the review of the film.

I went in with low expectations. The character is probably one of the least interesting comic book heroes around (man tries not to get angry, fails, gets green, big and strong, smashes stuff up and then calms down, whereupon he becomes a man again and resumes his quest not to get angry) and the Ang Lee film was, frankly, one of the most painful cinematic experiences I have ever had. However, the reason this film succeeds, in my opinion, is that it realises what it is and decides to go for a big screen comic book approach.

Gone is the psychobabble and "issues". Gone are the mutant dogs. Gone is the prolonged origin sequence (we all know what happened- get on with it!). Instead we have a simple story of Bruce Banner on the run, pursued by the army and ultimately by an equally mutated Tim Roth, with action scenes involving actual action rather than manic bouncing around the desert. Furthermore, I liked it because it did not have too high expectations- it had its tongue planted firmly in its cheek (witness the corking nods to the Bixby/Ferringo TV series throughout and a couple of cameos that brought a smile to all those with a fond memory of hiding behind the couch in our salad days [for some of us, it wasn't the Daleks that caused that particular retreat]), unlike the earlier film, which had a wholly different part of the anatomy stuck somewhere else. It knew what it had to do and it delivered.

The only criticisms I really have is that the actors were underused. Whilst I have no problem with Ed Norton portraying a loner with a slightly psychotic alter ego, by the same token I wasn't really convinced by him as being a gifted scientist who genuinely felt cursed with what he had become and what he could do. Maybe he just looks too young. Likewise, Liv Tyler felt underused and her involvement too rushed- witness her complete lack of second thoughts about ditching her boyfriend for a quickie with Bruce, who after all would appear to have left her in a coma the first time he "hulked out" (I wonder if that scene was only included so we could have the comedy "racing heart rate" moment). Finally, whilst I applaud anyone for coming up with a British character played by a British actor (and not, as seems to be happening now, by an American with a fake accent), he just did not strike me as the sort of psychotic marine that he was supposed to be. Maybe they could have gone for Michael Madsen and had a whole "Mr Blond-ski" thing going on.

Still, maybe those are minor points. After the last film, which struggled to get going and then lost its way when it did, this one does not set out to change the world, but sticks to its roots and does exactly what you would want it to do. It might not reach the heights of Spiderman 1 & 2 but it is a welcome additional to the canon of Marvel films and the ending plainly sets up the possibility of one if not too others to come.

American Ninja [DVD]
American Ninja [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Dudikoff
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £2.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CITIZEN KANE (IT AINT), 24 Aug. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: American Ninja [DVD] (DVD)
Brilliant acting, great cinematography, a compelling story. If these are what you are after then please don't bother with this.

But please don't think I don't like it. I loved it- this is the cinemantic equivalent of a donner kebab- dirty, bad for you and scarily, just what you want after a couple (or perhaps more) pints with the lads. There's no point talking about ther plot- there isn't one. It's like Delta Force with ninjas and more dodgy 80's outfits. For 99% of the population this film will never even register on the radar but for the "chosen" 1%, it should already be in your basket. Go on, you know you want to...

Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)
Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way of the Ninja is not an easy one..., 19 Aug. 2007
Having started this game shortly after completing God of War 2, this was a bit of a shock. The game feels less epic than GOW and, despite the fact that it is on PS3, the graphics and sound are not significantly (i.e. four hundred quid) better (that may be my non-HD TV, though) and it is by no means as much fun to play, largely because frequent deaths from bog-standard enemies (and getting mangled by the first boss you find) can be a bit frustrating if you are used to wiping out all manner of giant mythological monsters with impunity.

It's also pretty much a 100% combat game- it lacks the puzzles or variations in play that made GOW so good- and, aside from your garb, it is probably the least "ninja" game I have ever played (although I haven't played many- Saboteur 1 and 2 for the Spectrum being the last ones in fact). It would be great (perfect perhaps) if the combat was counterbalanced by some stealth and/or subtlety (a la MGS) but you can't have everything; in that sense it is "ninja" in style more than substance and could easily have been called "SAMURAI GAIDEN SIGMA" with a bit of tweaking on the graphics.

However, despite all of its faults (or perhaps because of them), it is a game that you keep returning to. More than that, its a game that, even when you complete a level, you find yourself deliberating repeating it because, having taken a few hits en route, you want to try again in order to get through without a scratch and achieve a higher rating, which frankly is something I have never done before on a game. Indeed, in terms of ability to draw you back despite failure, I haven't played a game this "addictive" since the original Lemmings.

It is difficult, make no mistake about it, and they first few (if not a few hundred after that...) plays can almost reduce you to tears. But the more you play it, the more you learn how to eliminate sloppiness, and in that sense there is a genuine learning curve. True, you have to spend 99% of your time blocking and waiting for a break in your opponent's attack before striking. True, fights take a long time, especially when you have to spend ages rolling around and back flipping to try to isolate each enemy when they start to swarm, rather than just wading in and bulldozing them. True, bosses display the sort of invulnerability that you think you should have. But it's worth it- the first time you wipe out 6 ninjas without taking a hit gives a real sense of achievement and the boss victories are a cause for celebration rather than simply another step on the way to completion.

In short, if you don't have time to invest in learning the techniques and getting over the frustration, don't buy it- there are a lot of games out there that offer a higher enjoyment:rage ratio. If, however, you are willing to learn how to play the game and your pursuit is of excellence rather then simply getting through to the next level then you should most definitely part with your cash and let this game get its hooks into you.

Five (ninja) stars!

Songs From The Deep Forest
Songs From The Deep Forest
Price: £2.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duke-ing special, 3 Aug. 2007
This is one of those albums I purchased after hearing a couple of the singles on radio. I don't regret it in the slightest.

Some of the reviews make reference to the fact that he supported the Divine Comedy on tour and, to my ears, the album sounds like a more "poppy" (in terms of the vocal and the production) version of Neil Hannon. Indeed, listening to the album, you can't help but listen to a couple of tracks and imagine what they would sound like with a lower, Scott Walker-esque singer- the similarities in lyrical and musical style are so marked.

In summary, there are a number of so-called "important" albums this year that I could happily send to the bargain bin (e.g. King of Leon, Interpol) but this is one of those rare things- an album that is immediately accessible but which still grows on you after a few listens by sheer virtue of strong tunes married with witty and intelligent lyrics (not to mention the great accent) and one which any fan of clever and catchy pop should invest in.

God of War II (PS2)
God of War II (PS2)

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TITAN(IC)!, 1 Aug. 2007
This review is from: God of War II (PS2) (Video Game)
Arguably the best looking (if not the best) PS2 game in that it manages to squeeze an awful lot out of the platform and gives most PS3 efforts a battering in terms of graphics and playability.

It represents not so much a revolution but more of an evolution from the first game and broadly it is superior. The game is longer. The graphics are smoother and better, particularly in combat. There are more bosses and therefore more oppotunity to see those unique boss killing animations.

The only downsides in my opinion are that the puzzles are a little more straightforward (and therefore, whilst avoiding the frustration/controller throwing that often crept into GOW1, they don't carry the same level of relief/achievement now) and there is nothing radically different in terms of combat or magic (the basic moves are the same and the magic powers are essentially variations on those used in GOW1) apart from the Pegasus section.

That said, as the adage goes "if it ain't broke...". If GOW1 was Star Wars then GOW2 is perhaps The Empire Strikes Back (even down to the "revelation" about Kratos' parentage). We can only hope that when GOW3 emerges (the ending of GOW2 is a blatant set up for the next- and perhaps final- installment, as there are only so many Greek Gods you can kill) presumably on PS3, it does not go all Return of the Jedi on us- but somehow you expect that Kratos and small furry bears are not a likely combination.

As to the negative reviews- see them in context. Many seem to be reviews of the genre rather than the game. If you don't like 3rd person action/adventure/combat type games then GOW2 will probably not convert you. However, if you do like the genre and/or enjoyed the first game (which is available at a criminally low price if you want a test drive first) then this is an essential purchase.

God of War Platinum (PS2)
God of War Platinum (PS2)

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OLYMPIAN!!!, 17 May 2007
Like many others, I'd never heard of this game when it came out and only bought it on PS Platinum because of recommendations elsewhere. It is probably the best game I have ever taken a speculative punt on and one of the few I have invested time on in completing.

For those who liked the Devil May Cry series, there are various similarities- the basic combat system, the ability to upgrade your moves etc by collecting red orbs from fallen enemies. However, whereas DMC was all about those double handguns and being "cool" (albeit in a Manga type way), GOW is all about blades and blood. Lots of it. It also, whilst being fairly linear in its scope and plot, involves a number of platform-like puzzles which, whilst infuriating in a number of places (particularly because the difficulty level of the game does not influence the difficulty of the non-combat elements), at least breaks up the potential monotomy of being a simple hack and slash fighter.

Plus points:

* The game looks and sounds stunning, even though it is only on PS2, with crisp animation and some great magic effects

* Combat is intuitive, magic and special moves are easy to use and some of the special kills are well thought out and brilliantly executed (pun intended)

* The Boss encounters look and play beautifully, especially in the sequences where you have to follow the on-screen button combinations to deliver unique attacks to a weakened boss- this requires more than a "hack away until their health hits zero" approach, as you often can't kill them in the ordinary way

* It's great to play such an ambiguous hero, who is so stylishly brutal. If DMC made you feel like Han Solo, GOW makes you feel like Darth Vader.

The negatives (since no game is perfect):

* The puzzle parts can be infuriatingly difficult. It is not simply a case of find X, bring to Y but often involes running, jumping or dodging your way around a screen filled with traps bringing instant failure or death, often against a very tight clock

* There are not enough Boss fights. That said, the ones that are there involve huge, well animated Bosses, with success seeming like a real achievement rather than just another "end of level" fight

* There could be a bit more variety in terms of "run of the mill" enemies- Greek mythology is such a rich source material that is a little underused by virtue of having bigger, faster and stronger versions of earlier enemies. That said, if this is to be a trilogy, I assume this will be rectified in due course, particularly on GOW3 (which I assume will be on next-gen formats).

Overall, therefore, a game that anyone who had a passing interest in the DMC genre will either already own or should have no hesitation in getting and one of my favourite games of recent times.

At War With the Mystics
At War With the Mystics
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.88

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGICAL!!!, 22 April 2006
This review is from: At War With the Mystics (Audio CD)
For once, people should believe the hype- this album is fantastic. It is quintessential Flaming Lips, managing to marry Pink Floyd type psychedelia and musicality (in places, it sounds like "Dark Side" rewritten for the 21st century) with (I know this sounds a sin for music snobs) catchy and beautiful pop/rock, which would make Coldplay jeolous. The usual themes and styles are all here- simple lyrics about life/death married with lavish production, combining to create an album of incredible warmth and beauty and one which (despite the cliche) really does reward repeated listening. Most people will be blown away on first listen by the more instant tracks, such as "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", "Free Radicals" and "the WAND" but, after a few listens, it is the less obvious songs like "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" and "Pompeii" that really strike a chord.

I have seen a number of reviews in which this album is compared unfavouarbly with the two that preceded it- Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi. For me, "Mystics" is more organic and warm than Yoshimi (the critics who complain about the indulgence of "The Wizard Turns On" here seem to have forgotten all about "Yoshimi Part 2" and seem to think that the last album consisted of 11 tracks all like "Do You Realise?") and, whilst I would agree that it is not as great as "The Soft Bulletin" (which, incidentally, is available from Amazon for less than a fiver, an absolute steal), that is an unfavourable comparison only in the sense that "Sgt Peppers..." is not as good as "Revolver". Furthermore, whilst I would agree that it is not the most immediate of albums, you have to ask yourself whether a great album is one that you can get into straight away; after all, on that test, "OK Computer" and "Nevermind" lag- for me, at least- well behind "Back to Bedlam" and "Hopes and Fears" and I know which albums are more likely to stand the test of time.

It may be that I have become jaded by the bizarre and unwarranted hype placed on bands like the Arctic Monkeys and albums like "X and Y" but I honestly believe that "At War with the Mystics" will ultimately be another in a mere handful of albums in my collection that I will return to, and be proud to own, a decade and more from now.

Hulk [DVD] [2003]
Hulk [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Eric Bana
Price: £2.48

8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It made me angry, it made me very angry..., 31 July 2004
This review is from: Hulk [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
A film that tries to bound effortlessly between, on one hand, a technicolour homage to its comic book heritage (a la Spiderman) and on the other an attempt to give a more adult, darker and contemporary edge to the story. Unfortunately, unlike the Hulk himself, it is unable to make the leap and falls disastrously somewhere in between.

For me, the acid test of a comic book film is the embarassment factor- can you take someone who is not a fan of the genre to the film and sit through it without cringing? Whereas Spiderman (1 and 2) was a resounding success and the X Men was at least bearable for the uninitiated (and enjoyable for the biased), the Hulk was (no pun intended) an abomination- even I was embarassed.

Despite the fact that Ang Lee is undoubtedly a gifted director, the film gave me the impression of an early draft that was inexplicably allowed to run to a final cut. I wonder whether the studio, keen to cash in on the success of Spiderman and X Men and provided with a well known character, allowed the obvious flaws of this film to be overlooked in the effort to cash in on a comic book renaissance, when a lot more care was needed. Or perhaps they were in awe of their Oscar nominated director and didn't have the balls to say "this isn't working".

I appreciate that the dramatic possibilities of an essentially simple proposition are limited (man gets angry, man turns green and smashes things up) but a film in which one of the most dramatic action scenes is based around a fight with a mutant poodle suggests that those involved had little faith in getting on for forty years of Hulk mythology. At least they had the good sense to bring in Magneto and the Green Goblin for X Man and Spiderman respectively- no such luck for the Hulk- no Leader, just Fido on steroids. Furthermore, whilst I have no problems with a 21st century origin, I was less than convinced by its central theme of a hero who has "issues" with his father and is emotionally retarded (there was a time when Bruce Banner would have tried some miraculous scientific cure for his condition, involving yet more gamma rays, but now it seems that radioactvity is so 1960's and instead a spot of psychotherapy- or at least a slot on Jerry Springer- would resolve the issue).

Had this film embraced its history and ran as a large scale cartoon, I could have understood it. If it had tried to embrace a darker Jekyll and Hyde theme, it could have worked as a quasi-horror (see the Doc Ock surgery scene in Spiderman 2 for how to make a comic book situation into a genuinely scary and visceral piece of cinema) and I would have respected it. Instead, we end up with a half baked story with characters we care nothing about and a chief villain whose motivation, let alone powers, remain a complete mystery. Nick Nolte was rightly criticised following his bizarre performance for being not completely sober whilst performing, but I think this criticism can be levelled at almost everyone else involved in the film.

In summary, the worst summer "blockbuster" I have seen since Godzilla, a film that took another iconic 1960s green monster, added a lot of money and a few big names and then just sought to rely on its reputation to get around a sloppy and lazy plot. There were an awful lot of dodgy superhero productions in the 1970's (Spiderman and Dr Strange to name but two) but this film made me remember fondly the days of Bill Bixby and Lou Feringo.

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