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Star Wars: The Force Awakens [DVD] [2015]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Price: £9.49

14 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Beat-for-Beat Remake of A New Hope With Weak Characterisation., 25 Dec. 2015
I went to a midnight screening of The Force Awakens and even being surrounded by many in costumes (Boba Fatt, obese Leia), my expectations were reasonable; a fresh, new installment to the Star Wars franchise that provided plenty of information about what this galaxy, these characters have been up to in the 30 years since Return of the Jedi. Well written, original with some expected nods to the original trilogy. What I did not expect was a beat for beat remake of A New Hope. What I expected even less is that the masses would bizarrely find this acceptable, though this is no doubt due to bias and insecurity; who wants to admit that they wasted 3 years looking forward to this since Disney's acquisition of SW? And for those disappointed by the prequels, they've waited 32 years! It's much easier to bury your head in the sand and deny/ignore flaws than face crushing honesty. Suffice to say, I didn't, I can't bury my head in the sand. And when I say beat for beat, I mean story, characters, scenes, shots, there was little originality in this film at all. It might even be worse than every prequel film because of this, as even they, however poorly executed, gave us new stories within the Star Wars universe, expanded the mythology with various worlds, races, fantastic music and some impressive action scenes. To throw people, the writers added the old cast and advertised it as a sequel, creating the impression that this is a follow up, despite doing the same things that ANH did. Some characteristics have been spliced, genders switched too yet have you no doubt, you've seen this all before, and much better. The effects are superior but the story, characters, dialogue, acting etc. are all not remotely close to the level of the movie it's imitating.

When I think back on TFA, I can't find anything worth lauding. Two scenes come to mind although they were both ultimately ruined by the poor writing behind them. In fact the weak characterisation behind every single character was perhaps the greatest flaw of this film. We didn't need to have it be a 3 hour film, many useless pre-existing scenes could've been removed in place of substance. Establishing motivations and skills to negate ample contrivances. Feminism is one of the biggest lies about this film, which is strange considering how Leia was a strong female character. Here the main character Rey is just a Mary Sue, a female Superman, overpowered and exceptional at everything without the trial and error as Luke had (thinking back, he failed a lot before gradually getting better, while still failing). She's a superhero. The fallacy is that a strong female character is amazing at everything but the 'strength' part refers to personality, strength of will, not instantaneous mastery of piloting, the force, lightsaber use etc. This utter failure of agenda implementation hampered the movie. The music, when it wasn't also ripping off of the originals, was just flat and forgettable. I still can't believe that even John Williams dropped the ball. The acting was split, sometimes okay, other times though I felt as if I was watching a cheap youtube fan fiction. The limp dialogue contributed to that.

The cynicism, the agendas are also too deeply rooted in The Force Awakens; when it was first announced, a small, loud minority complained about the lack of female characters and representation of ethnic minorities. To counter this, the producers and director opted to gender swap a role solely to please this crowd (Captain Phasma, an utterly useless character that had a handful of lines and a minute of screen time, despite the pervasive advertising, just to trump a 'strong, female character'). The character of Finn is another example of the ruinous, shallow left wing agenda, with an emphasis on a black character for appeal to the black audience, rather than simply picking the best actor for the job. See also the South American x-wing pilot, to appeal to South America. I have no qualms about non-male, non-white casting by any means, only when it's done specifically to quieten the maniacal, PC crowd, when the already written 'script' hasn't specified race and even when it has, with a character that has already been conceived as a man (again, Captain Phasma). The focus on this by the producers, to appear 'PC' and 'diverse', rather than on creating a great new story rather than a knockoff, should've been a major warning sign. Audiences don't care what the actors look like, only that they're good at their job. This problem only looks to get worse with next year's spin off Rogue One, where coincidentally the main cast consists of two Chinese, a hispanic, an African American and a muslim of Pakistani descent, just to cover all demographics, denying so many great actors chances based on their skin colour, for the sake of looking diverse. The biggest issue of this is that this representation is mostly meaningless; Africa as a continent adds practically nothing to global box office receipts, only the African American crowd contributes something, and even that is a tiny fraction of total intake. The Middle East, like Africa, is next to irrelevant, in Asia countries will see an American blockbuster regardless of race and that is the crux; having a character have the same race as you in a film is unnecessary. It doesn't HAVE to happen in order for us to pay for a ticket, and such pointed pandering is frankly embarrassing and adds an artificial flavour.

Which is where I reach my conclusion; The Force Awakens is a shallow, gutless rip off of A New Hope, with some Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi occurrences thrown in too, hampered by its left wing agendas, instead of focusing on making a worthwhile installment. At best it's okay, nothing more, at worst, it's unforgivable.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 25, 2015 5:47 PM GMT

Captain America: The Winter Soldier [DVD]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Evans
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £17.98

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome upturn after Thor 2 but could've been more, 2 April 2014
Some spoilers ahead. Cap 2 is an impressive rebound after the dud that was Thor 2 and in many ways provided a new standard for superhero films to strive for. The action was incredibly impressive with the limitations of Steve Rogers' powers pushed beyond what many thought him capable of. You'd think that there would only be so much that a strong man with a shield could do, but you're in for a surprise when you see this film. The story consisted of a conspiracy that undermined the stability of Cap's world with many twists and turns that should delight fans, although I can't help but feel like they held back, that they could've gone further in many cases.

The humour in Marvel films of late has been hit and miss to say the least, and I'm happy to say that it's more hit than miss in this movie. The Russo brothers have struck a nice balance between the tenser moments and levity. The inclusion of S.H.I.E.L.D. and particularly Nick Fury and Black Widow was an effective decision, taking the sole focus away from Cap without letting you forget that he's the main character. Some of the occurrences at the SHIELD headquarters are among the best scenes in the film. The Winter Soldier himself was a threatening foil to our hero although considering that his name is in the title, he isn't present in the film for that long, nor is his story too prevalent, although saying that, for every scene he is in, Sebastian Stan emits a strong presence. The apparent spoiler of his identity is ridiculous to anyone that has simply seen the first film and the direction of this does seem to be a bit muted, as if they're going to explore it more in the sequel, but I would've liked to have seen it taken further in this movie.

The climax was a little simplistic but provided a nice spectacle to behold. Frank Grillo as Rumlow was very memorable as well as Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and yet I feel that once again, the latter could've been so much more. As well as some implications that weren't really explored, like the possibility that Fury was a bad guy, a traitor, and Black Widow a double agent, the story could've been much deeper.

It wasn't perfect; the camera couldn't keep still for the first 20 minutes and the blurriness made me feel ill. Admittedly, the weakest aspect of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was easily The Falcon, he was shoehorned in without a good reason and as a result, he just seemed like the token black guy the entire time. Had he been set up as an agent to keep an eye on Cap, as the "nurse" was, and maybe Cap made a quip about who else is an agent, the tramp in the street or something, that's all that was needed for us to be able to accept Falcon. Having him be some random guy that has wings for some weird reason highlighted how out of place he was in an otherwise relatively grounded experience. When he fought Frank Grillo, I kept thinking 'he doesn't deserve to be here at this point in the film, he hasn't earned it'.

Oh well, I still enjoyed it a lot, and would put it 3rd in the MCU, behind Iron Man 3 and of course The Avengers.

A major death (or more) to up the stakes would've assured Cap 2's brilliance as well as having a final showdown without the typical large scale, big explosions we've become accustomed to. The stakes still could've been high, with the helicarriers in the air awaiting orders, but a clash in the SHIELD headquarters could've prevented Pierce from sending out the orders. This should've been a fight between the duo of Pierce (unmasked as the Red Skull) and Rumlow, the Winter Soldier (who fights Pierce as well as Cap and his group due to a failsafe), Cap, Falcon and Fury, with Black Widow against them all, having her own mission of getting helicarrier specs or something, as the Russians need to catch up with all of these American advancements. The anarchy of this division and violence, with the superpowered Cap, Skull and Winter Soldier further displaying their physical advantages over the non superpowered would have been highly refreshing and for me, preferred. But considering that the writers of Cap 2 wrote Thor 2, I guess we should just be happy that they didn't wholly disappoint this time around.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2014 7:48 AM BST

Sherlock - Series 3 [DVD]
Sherlock - Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Price: £7.99

15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Largely bereft of the finesse that defined the past 2 seasons, 15 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Sherlock - Series 3 [DVD] (DVD)
(Spoilers) Sherlock is the new fad, particularly in America. It's the new Wire or Breaking Bad, that programme you have to say is amazing in order to seem like an intellectual. For seasons 1 and 2, that's fair enough as they were for the most part very impressive. They had a few missteps but the good far outweighed the bad. They were two 4 star seasons that presented something filled with potential, only for all of its worst aspects to be prominent in S3. All three episodes are overlong (each took at least thirty minutes to actually start), self indulgent, nepotastic, nonsensical and sometimes even dumb. Each of which would be hastily denied by the fawning fanboys (fawnboys? You heard it here first!), delusional hordes that counter with profanities and condescension. As much as I may enjoy something, I'm always objective and bias doesn't obscure anything negative unlike with these people. So here I go, the good and the bad:

Episode 1- The Empty Hearse- 7/10

The first 30%+ was unashamed procrastination, smarmy self indulgence from the writers who are aware of how popular and well thought of the show is. There was an obvious hesitation to get to the meat of the episode with the ample delays though once that initial trudge was out of the way, the last hour was highly entertaining.

Episode 2- Signs of Three- 6.5/10

Worst episode of the show by far, the speech shouldn't have been longer than five minutes but went on and on. Here we see how Moffat and Gatiss pay more heed to the teenage fanboys and girls, making Sherlock sickeningly sentimental. Humanising him so much so quickly has caused the character to lose his edge. Don't get me wrong, this was the most enjoyable 6.5 episode I've ever seen, containing some great and even brilliant scenes such as the mind palace and the scene at the end where the lighting, music and Benedict Cumberbatch's acting perfectly joined together to show how Sherlock was alone and how he at that moment truly realised that fact but overall there was too much excess. It seemed, like the season in general, hastily written as it didn't make sense, which is unacceptable considering that they've had two years to work on it. You would feel getting stabbed. You'd feel a pinprick let alone something inches deep in your body. You'd also feel the blood flowing down your body as well as seeing it flow down your body, so the soldier stepping into the shower completely unaware was ridiculous too. When you take off your trousers, you look down, you look at them as otherwise you could fall over or something, therefore missing the wound and blood would never happen realistically.

Everyone knew that the major was in danger, it was obvious. He was the only one that we were told received death threats. Plus the photographer being the attempted murderer was also clear. Never before S3, to the best of my recollection, have I deduced quicker than Sherlock nor have I so clearly seen how dumb certain things are.

This is a show about cases, mysteries and character development. This episode pretty much discarded all but the latter. We got fragments of cases, one that didn't even make sense and no underlying mystery.

Humour used to weave in between the cases and mysteries but here they tried too hard to put the laughs at the forefront as opposed to real substance, yet hollow dialogue doesn't carry an episode like a good case/mystery does.

Episode 3- His Last Vow- 6.9/10

Far more consistent than the other two despite once again taking half an hour to start, it focused on a case and an underlying mystery, what Sherlock used to be all about. However establishing and killing off the new villain in a single episode was far too rushed and could've/should've easily been better set up in the prior two episodes, which both seem like a waste of time spent on character development rather than having a real plot. Lars Mikkelsen's Magnussen was a compelling villain yet I can only lament at how greater he would have been if he had been in more than a single episode and if there were more skilled writers to handle his character and everything around him. It was obvious before it was shown that his vault was actually his mind and it was again clear that once this was made known, the only option would be to kill him. Having no security around or even having Sherlock and Watson searched as they arrived was idiotic and hindered an otherwise good episode.

S3 reeked of nepotism with the inclusion of Martin Freeman's long time partner and to a lesser degree Cumberbatch's parents only another example of the shameless self indulgence that the makers of S3 have embraced. Having Amanda Abbington as Mary Watson took me out of the experience too often and despite how nice it must be (or not!) to work with your partner, it made every scene between herself and Freeman seem... fake. Her being an assassin was ludicrous and considering how CAM sent her a message in Signs of Three saying that her family would be so proud, I assumed that she was being blackmailed by Magnussen, who held her family under the threat of death, to essentially go undercover to gather information only close encounters could uncover and soon after break John's heart as a way of getting under his skin as well as Sherlock's, who would be distracted from whatever Magnussen was planning by his failing to see what should have been clear to him. Being an assassin that broke into Magnussen's building, about to assassinate him, severely undercut his menace and made him look far too vulnerable too quickly. Plus an assassin that has gone into hiding you'd think wouldn't choose to live in the most surveilled city in the world, being a partner to the colleague of the most famous crime solver in the country.

Sherlock was too unintelligent this season and too much was handed to him rather than discovered by him, for instance Magnussen telling him exactly where John was about to burned alive. I watch this show to see a unique individual be brilliant and uncover plots, not to see him act all schmaltzy and happy that he has friends and express this for 30% of the season. In this way I think the writers have lost their focus.

I enjoyed a lot about all three episodes yet my mind is drawn to the many gaping flaws, and when this occurs to such an extent it's clear that while good, they were disappointing. Moriarty in S1 and 2 was constantly alluded to, this big villain behind everything. That underlying mystery that drove everything as well as the cases and character interactions are what made the show as regarded as it was. Those 3 aspects worked in unison. In S3 we had a weak implication in the first episode (with the villain telling Sherlock where to go to save his friend, no intelligence used by Holmes at all, the bomb had an off switch, again no intellect used or needed, unlike the previous two seasons), fragments of cases in the second episode that don't satisfy as they're either too brief and/or absurd (why would a guy annoyed that his noob soldier brother was killed through the negligence of his commander... try to kill another innocent soldier? Nonsensical.) and almost all character development rather than being weaved amongst intricate cases. It was all over the place. Fan service is nice but it was excessive to say the least and as an audience I think we'd rather the writers focused on giving us more of what makes Sherlock so entertaining, which are intricate cases and underlying mysteries, the two things that made Sherlock what it was.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2014 12:46 AM BST

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug [DVD] [2013]
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Martin Freeman
Price: £3.75

11 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly underwhelmed for the most part, 23 Dec. 2013
Spoilers. I'm not one of those blatantly biased people that went into this film with my mind already made up, I enjoyed the first one (7.5/10) and after reading so many positive reviews, I was highly anticipating Desolation. To my surprise I didn't find myself particularly enjoying it too much. The CGI was the biggest flaw in that it was so obviously fake that I wasn't once truly immersed. LOTR a decade ago mixed special and practical effects to the point where you struggled to tell them apart but in DOS, everything pretty much is CGI and I just couldn't get into it. It didn't feel real. I don't know how over the course of a decade special effects seem to have got worse but Desolation of Smaug makes a case for it. The colour palettes were weird too and were reminiscent of a pirate copy on the internet. It almost looked bland.

With 3 films being announced, I wasn't sceptical, I was overjoyed at what I assumed would be a trilogy with a rich story with a range of characters having plenty of time taken to being made 3 dimensional, but DoS was simply a string of set pieces. It replaced story with action. Where action should supplement a story and characters, DoS focused on it almost solely. Look at Fellowship of the Ring; not including the Last Alliance (which did have the story set up by Galadriel prior to it so you cared), we received an abundance of story and character development before the first sword was swung. Fighting is meaningless if you are given little reason to care and so was the case with this film. Sequences such as the barrel ride conflict didn't really elicit any reaction from me at all due to the fact that I had no real reason to care. The CGI was chief among those reasons as it was practically a cartoon. I thought WETA were the pre-eminent effects studio? The choreography was too outlandish to take seriously and there was no threat or danger. No-one dies so there are no stakes. FOTR was a veritable bloodbath by comparison, with Frodo almost dying twice, Gandalf 'dying', Boromir dying, it wasn't a movie where our heroes went unscathed by any means. Every conflict posed a threat as they should.

Five and a half hours in and the majority of the dwarves have not been differentiated, let alone become actual characters. Some still haven't said a word (Bombur) and for this reason it's very hard to like them or care for them. All we need is less than a minute each to say who they are and what they're about, that's it. That's all we need to notice them but they continue to be glorified extras. I recall reading an interview in which the dwarves' actors spoke in depth regarding their characteristics but the films don't show any of that. It's embarrassing how poorly they've been handled.

It's astounding how remarkable the difference is between Jackson's previous Middle-earth films; I know it's wrong to compare them as LOTR is the greatest trilogy ever made and near masterpieces but I'm simply talking in terms of the basics. Like story, characters, moderation in all things, effects, Jackson does seem to have gone the Lucas way and focused on style over substance.

The first hour was naff. Second rate. It looked cheap somehow in terms of the sets. It lacked sense in that the company broke into Beorn's house, he was furious as he should be, returned hours later, saw them sleeping and thought 'aww, I'll talk to them when they get up'. And everything turned out to be fine. Very poorly written. The second hour was better yet still just okay. Smaug however saved the film. True, it did get a little dumb in that the dwarves were doing the cliched 'over here!' and Smaug followed each dwarf that said that but then he is a near invincible dragon that probably enjoys the hunt. I liked those last 30 minutes more and more as they went on as the visuals improved (excluding the atrocious molten gold) and I felt actual tension for the first time. Contrary to the book, I think at least a few dwarves should've fallen victim to Smaug but overall I highly enjoyed it. I also liked Legolas' duel with Bolg, another tense bout with a present sense of danger as Legolas bled and was thrown around all over the place. He smashed Bolg's face into a pillar multiple times too, it was visceral. Gandalf's duel with Sauron was another highlight despite being evocative of Harry Potter. Sauron becoming the slit of the Eye of Sauron was the niftiest thing in the movie. Thranduil was perhaps my favourite character in it, with Lee Pace giving an excellent performance as the lofty immortal King. Seeing him visibly hurt by Thorin's powerully expressed feelings of abandonment by the elves as the dwarves of Erebor were left homeless and desperate, as well as his reveal that he knew full well about the devastation dragons can bring spruced up the movie. His kingdom was not explored in the slightest, which was a massive disappointment. It's strange to say but it's true that the book delved more into it than the film. Even the spiders scene was very brief. Tauriel wasn't bad by any means, in fact she was one of the better characters but I wasn't exactly blown away by any of her scenes. The love triangle was both good and bad, though it did serve well to emphasise both her and Kili. Apart from the CGI, the worst factor about the movie was Bard's children using the word 'Da' so many times. Literally in every sentence, there was absolutely no subtlety at all. I got that they were supposed to be Welsh the first time but what felt like twenty times later, it irritated me to no end hearing it said so often in such a short space of time. I want Cinema Sins to do a video of DoS just so that they can count how many times 'da' is said. The Grima Wormtongue-esque character was a shameless duplicate and the result of weak writing. I know that Jackson and his team feel compelled to tie this trilogy in with LOTR but with all of the references, similar lines and characters, all but a small few were feebly executed.

It definitely sounds presumptuous but I think I could've done a better job at making a greater film, as what we've got feels like a draft. A template that needs to be worked on. It needed much more story and character development than constant barrages of action. It needed structure, stakes and moderation. What I will say in its favour is that the pace was brilliant; I was somehow never bored and kept wondering to myself how long had gone, because at one point I knew I was well over halfway through the film and it felt like just 20 minutes had passed.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2014 9:48 PM BST

Thor: The Dark World [DVD] [2013]
Thor: The Dark World [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Chris Hemsworth
Offered by Empor-online
Price: £10.65

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fairly entertaining sequel here and there but too forgettable, 5 Nov. 2013
Thor The Dark World begins with an instantly enticing flashback denoting the initial conflict between Asgard and the Dark Elves, featuring truly kick ass action especially from the Asgardian soldiers. It's a strong start. Admittedly the first half an hour is the weakest part of the film, consisting of a slow drudge through build up and exposition until the film truly starts, and shines. The Earthbound material from the first Thor was the weakest part of that film too yet was nonetheless enjoyable, fun and funny. In the sequel however it's tedious, mediocre and highly unamusing. With Thor we have a chance to branch out into the cosmos and it's a shame that the film makers are so reluctant to let Thor be something truly out of this world. Asgard looks spectacular and is much more prominent than Earth, and rightly so. I like how otherworldly Thor is and would rather little to no time spent on Earth as the other Avengers are always present on our planet but I'll take what I get, and what we got was much more Asgard.

The structure of the film was very irregular and a little jarring I found, less of an epic Shakespearean effort like the first one and more 'tv' than I'd expected, which is derived from director Alan Taylor's background in television. As we approached the end I didn't feel the weight of the climax and realised that Kurse was a far more imposing and scary opponent than Malakith, who was serviceable as the main villain, not needing more time than he was given although a little weak and not threatening enough at the end. Malakith is like the film in general; only sporadically engaging. There were plenty of stunning visual effects and well choreographed action as well as tension and danger posed by the dark elves' second-in-command Kurse, an unstoppable, rampaging warrior.

The acting is as good as you would expect, though Sir Anthony Hopkins sleepwalks through the film with his portrayal of Odin a tad lazy this time around, and Chris Hemsworth's accent slips a few times but is overall great as the titular character. Once again, after the first Thor and the Avengers, Tom Hiddleston as Loki eclipses all others. He brings the most gravitas, the deepest (a surprising amount of depth actually, considering his brief amount of time in The Dark World) and most electric performance, making you wish that he was in it more, as the film would've benefited even further from featuring its best aspect. What becomes of him in this movie has me highly anticipating Thor 3, and I only hope that that time around he's in it more often.

After hearing that it was hilarious and the funniest Marvel film to date, I expected hilarity yet many of the jokes didn't hit home surprisingly enough. A fair few were enjoyable, particularly a cameo of whom I won't say more. There was an insinuation of a love triangle that didn't lead anywhere which is a shame, as Sif is a character that is more interesting than Jane in my opinion and deserves more screen time, as do the Warriors Three (one of whom had two lines and was absent for the rest of the film).

In conclusion Thor The Dark World is not nearly as strong as its predecessor, with nothing much happening character wise and as a result is quite forgettable and more miss than hit.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2013 12:50 AM GMT

Breaking Bad - The Final Season* [DVD]
Breaking Bad - The Final Season* [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bryan Cranston
Price: £9.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For its quality and consistency, BB is officially the greatest show ever made, 2 Oct. 2013
How long it holds that title is unclear. If Game of Thrones maintains its quality throughout then it could be a contender. Or it could end up like Dexter, with some incredible seasons and some not so good ones that drag the whole thing down. But for now, Breaking Bad is king.

Season 5 maintained that level of excellence achieved in every season of this programme. As this product is only half the season for some strange reason (I assume that they will add the 2nd half after a few months as Amazon should've done anyway), I'll review parts 1 and 2 separately and together at the end. Warning: spoilers aplenty.

Part 1 began as you would expect; the aftermath of what Walter had done sent shockwaves with the DEA descending on the situation, arresting many of Gus' employees. Mike, upon hearing the news, stormed north of the border to confront Walter, before eventually entering into a triumvirate with his enemy as well as Jesse. Heisenberg became more terrible than ever, having eliminated everyone that stood in his way, he felt invincible and acted it. He was like a supervillain in many ways. And yet just when we had him pegged as an undeniable bad guy now, he left crime behind to be with his family. His involvement in the meth business was over it seemed, along with any chance of his actions catching up with him. If I have to rate the individual episodes then it would look something like this:

Live Free or Die 8.5
Madrigal 9.5
Hazard Pay 8.5
Fifty-One 9.5
Dead Freight 9.0
Buyout 8.5
Say My Name 9.0
Gliding Over All 8.5

That averages out to 8.9, a very solid half season. Plenty of awesome catchphrases ("Say my name", "You're goddamn right"), tension, character and plot development.

After the almost year long mid-season break, part 2 recommenced with the superb Blood Money, where Hank discovered the truth about his brother-in-law. The entire show led up to this and it didn't disappoint. Walter's hubris led to leaving a book out for the world to see, a book signed by Gale, a possession that could and did bring his whole world crashing down after so much effort to stay under the radar. Hank walking back to his family (after over 11 months spent sitting on the toilet) having his entire world rocked to its core as well as looking at Walt in disbelief was a highlight of the season. This was the turning point and the beginning of the end. My ratings for part 2's episodes are as follows:

Blood Money 10
Buried 9.0
Confessions 8.4
Rabid Dog 8.9
To'hajiilee 9.0
Ozymandias 10
Granite State 9.0
Felina 10

That averages out to 9.2, a tremendous half season with some spectacular episodes in Blood Money and Ozymandias, two of the best episodes of BB. In the latter, the aftermath of To'hajiilee was shown with Walt desperately trying to save Hank's life, Hank accepting his fate, getting shot, Walter immediately feeling the loss and collapsing to the floor, Walt's anger at Jesse for letting this whole situation come about, making the neo-Nazis aware of Jesse's hiding place, letting the thugs take him away to kill him and informing Jesse out of spite of how he watched and let Jane die. All of this happened in the first fifteen minutes, it was exhausting but in an oh so satisfying way. The parallels between Walt and Gus, with both with their faces on the ground when a loved one is murdered in front of them demonstrates the reason that the episode was called 'Ozymandias'. Then in a call back to the easier days, Walt literally rolled a barrel full of money across a desert, and before long made his way home. Yet Junior now knows and Skylar challenges her husband with a knife when faced with living on the run. After a brief conflict, Junior calls the police, Walt leaves with the baby, a heartbreaking moment for Skylar. Part 2 emphasises dramatic change in the direction Walt's life is heading and it changes once more when in an Emmy worthy scene, the baby repeatedly cries out her mother. To cap off this sensational episode, Walt makes a call to Skylar knowing that the police are listening where he says everything that every fan has ever wanted him to say to Skylar with the duel purpose of making it seem as if she's not culpable. Heisenberg, or at least the cruel, vindictive version is truly gone.

That was all from a single episode.

Jesse had quite the story arc in S5, going from cook to DEA snitch to slave and finally free, with Aaron Paul's performance worthy of much praise as it goes without saying Bryan Cranston's does to. The should rename the Best Actor Emmy the Cranston award as he wins it so often or deserves to.

The first half of To'hajiilee was a bit too slow even for BB (although the rest of it made up for that) and Confessions to me was arguably the weakest episode of S5, with many of the scenes not really resonating as much as they intended to but it was nonetheless a great episode. That's season 5 and Breaking Bad in general in a nutshell; the worst episodes are still great.

The last two episodes and the overall build up to the end was very well done, with exile proving to be understandably lonely and Walt accepting his fate; knowing that he had lost his family, his freedom and wanting to go out in style, he planned for a last hurrah. I think I would've like something more to have happened between him and Jesse and for Jesse to get more of an ending yet it also felt right, after all that occurred.

All in all a spectacular season of television with an overall score of 9.1/10, direction, writing, acting, continuity, character and plot development, tension, all of it was exceptionally and meticulously done. What now?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2013 6:52 PM BST

The Wolverine [DVD]
The Wolverine [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £2.91

30 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somehow it has surpassed all the other X-Men films. Superb, 31 July 2013
This review is from: The Wolverine [DVD] (DVD)
Mild spoilers ahead, though if you've seen the trailers then you're okay. The Wolverine was refreshing. That's the word that best describes it. With superhero films growing in spectacle more and more to the point where we receive Man of Steel, a mindless, Transformers style explosion fest, it's a relief to see a movie where plot and characters take precedence over action. Substance over style. Which makes The Wolverine a very unique film; it doesn't feel like a superhero flick. That's not to say that there isn't action, there is and it's incredibly satisfying to see but it enhances the story instead of overriding it. Which is what movies of this genre should be and were in their prime (Spiderman 2, X-Men 2) but haven't been so much in the past few years.

James Mangold did a great job directing an adaptation that arguably is even more enjoyable than X-Men 2 and First Class, although more viewings will ultimately confirm that. His respect for the material and wanting to do the Japan saga justice had me confident in him from the start and it paid off in spades. From the depiction of the Nagasaki nuclear bombing to the bullet train fight scene to more low key moments, Mangold displays an impressive handle on film making and I absolutely hope that he will helm a sequel. He simply gets the character and knows what to do with him. The characters are on the whole quite strong from the badass Yukio (whom I hope to see in a sequel or Days of Future Past), the love interest Mariko and of course Wolverine himself. In his fifth outing (not including his three hilarious words in First Class) he continues to emit a certain depth and anguish that yet again make for a compelling journey. They could make countless films on Wolverine and I wouldn't get tired of him because he is such a fascinating character. Some complain that he takes too much of a focus in the X-Men trilogy but that's only because he is easily the most interesting one. Hugh Jackman owns the role as ever whether during frenetic action scenes, exhibiting all manner of emotions from anger to tenderness and even in subtler moments where his body language tells you everything you need to know about what he's thinking and feeling. He brings an undeniable gravitas and was simply born for the role.

The plot involves being hunted and on the run with the intrigue of who is behind it and why ever present. The third act admittedly is the weakest part of the film but is still pretty enjoyable. The inclusion of the Silver Samurai felt a little shoehorned in but nonetheless proved to be a threatening foil to the titular character. The Viper was a little one dimensional but she didn't really need fleshing out as she served her purpose. There are other facets to The Wolverine as Logan is faced with the misery of living forever (or at least for a very, very long time) whilst bearing such pain and is given the choice to have his immortality taken away from him. Having it taken from him proved to be a sort of saving grace; an invincible mutant doesn't often make you fear for his safety but making him mortal and vulnerable worked wonders. Every stab and bullet wound sustained was acutely punctuated by Hugh Jackman and consequently gave a constant sense of immediacy and tentativeness in me as a viewer.

Pinning The Wolverine with a score out of ten is difficult, although I believe that it's at least an 8.5, and all things 8.5 and above receive a five star rating from me, as four stars doesn't quite seem to do it justice. It's my favourite movie of the year so far and even trumps Iron Man 3. With First Class and now The Wolverine, X-Men films are back on track to being great films (Last Stand and Origins were fairly decent but not my favourites) and next year's Days of Future Past, if it follows this trend, could become something truly out of this world.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2014 7:40 PM BST

Man of Steel [DVD]
Man of Steel [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Cavill
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £2.88

18 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In terms of hype and disappointment, MoS is The Phantom Menace of this generation, 26 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Man of Steel [DVD] (DVD)
Spoiler alert. Man of Steel. My most anticipated film of 2013, the trailers looked incredible, they really drew me in and had me desperate to see this film. What went wrong?

The whole film was grim and miserable. But not in a compelling way like Schindler's List or The Dark Knight, MoS didn't have a draw; it was just bland. For a superhero that is supposed to be all about hope, this was a film completely without hope. Superman didn't save anyone, he didn't care. He seemed content with throwing his enemies through buildings without a thought for who gets hurt. The one person he told to go hide inside a building was probably killed by Kal El when the superhero threw a Kryptonian into the same building moments later! The palette used was a constant gray, which made everything seem even duller. DC characters are quite dark in general but that refers to the tone and not being practically colourless. The direction wasn't even second rate as that would be an improvement; it was shaky to an ridiculous level. It reminded me of The Hunger Games during the actual hunger games. Too many shots were blurry close ups that made me wince and hope that they'd zoom out a little bit (or a lot). Going into the film, I thought that the critics were negative about MoS being dark and humourless because they wanted it to be more like the 70s Superman, and perhaps that's true, but seriously, it's all so miserable and bleak. A joke every once in a while would've been a nice reprieve as there's literally no humour at all. It didn't have to be a comedy or anything but every dark film has some lightness to it, even for the briefest of times to save it from total despair. And when it should be miserable and bleak, like the third act where most of a city gets destroyed, we see people staring out a window, absolutely fine without a care in the world, talking about sharing tickets to a baseball game as if it's a normal work day! There's no impact to an entire city getting leveled. All of the mindless explosions and everything were reminiscent of a Transformers movie, it lacked reasons to care for what was happening and seemed to destroy for the sake of destroying. The action was very standard, we'd seen it all before and done a lot better honestly in films like The Avengers. The characters unfortunately weren't interesting either; I felt no attachment to anyone whatsoever. The experience of seeing MoS was a very detached one as there was such little emotion on display and I just didn't really care for every continuously dull event and scene.

The writing team are rapidly declining in quality; they peaked with TDK, still did good with TDKR but had some serious (and numerous) plotholes and now with Man of Steel we've come to the stage where they should just stop. Before they do any more damage. The entire opening on Krypton was rushed to the point where there's a rebellion, warship battles, Zod going after Jor El and Zod's defeat in the space of what felt like ten minutes. It was all crammed in and not given time to flow and become real; it was almost like a montage. Zod and Kal El barely interacted in the entire film so their central feud was practically non-existent. Zod wanted to terraform Earth to make the planet's conditions more like Krypton, even though he was powerless on Krypton and can fly, shoot lasers out of his eyes, be super strong etc. due to Earth's environmental conditions. He could be a god but he chose to be basically powerless. It made no sense at all, especially considering how he wanted to bring his people back and make them great. Near invincibility would do that you would think, but not to Zod or the writers. The score was so quiet and sombre that it was entirely forgettable. The soaring, majestic music in the trailers only occurred when the end credits appeared, strangely enough. The Kryptonian Faora was delightfully vicious but overall, due to the story, most scenes whether action or otherwise weren't backed up to the point that we're on the edge of our seats or feeling SOMETHING. ANYTHING. MoS completely lacked in heart and emotion. Ultimately it was a trailer movie; everything that looked amazing in the trailers was actually pretty mediocre in the film.

So many flaws yet I would still give it three stars as it was fairly decent. Not bad (overall) just often mediocre. Replayability is very low though as I left the cinema with little intention of seeing it again anytime soon. Hopefully for a sequel Warner Brothers will bring in a better director that doesn't make my eyes water with all the blurriness and a writer or writers that can make a remotely interesting story with remotely interesting characters.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2013 8:48 PM GMT

Dexter - Season 7 [DVD]
Dexter - Season 7 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Offered by Rapid-DVD with FREE delivery
Price: £14.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumphant return to top quality tv, 19 May 2013
This review is from: Dexter - Season 7 [DVD] (DVD)
Spoiler alert of course. Season 7 righted the ample wrongs of Season 6 and turned out to be a superb penultimate installment of Dexter. The endlessly frustrating and ultimately pointless S6 was instantly forgotten as soon as the S7 premiere began. Everything changed as Deb finally discovered the truth about her brother and filled in all of the blanks, such as who Lumen really was and Doakes' framing. The premiere was exceptional, with Deb not knowing how to process what she saw Dexter do and by the end, searches his flat, finds the blood slides and confirms that he's the Bay Harbour Butcher.

Ray Stephenson was impressive as Isaak Sirko, Dexter's nemesis of the season. Isaak was eloquent, absolutely badass as shown by his Terminator style takedown of Columbian gangsters and managed to be a confidante to Dexter and almost a friend, were it not for them trying to kill each other. Yvonne Strahovski was as expected amazing as Hannah McKay, Dexter's love interest that accepted his need to kill whilst also being able to be a normal partner. She hit all of her emotional beats perfectly and her conflict with Deb was interesting to see play out, not knowing who Dexter will choose. Michael C. Hall was as ever perfect as Dexter, achieving all of the nuances that playing such a damaged and morally void character needs. Jennifer Carpenter, it has to be said, was sensational as Debra Morgan, positively spellbinding. You'd think that a character who cries all the time would get on your nerves (and Carpenter actually won awards for basically crying as a kid) but every performance in every episode was mesmerising. If she doesn't win an Emmy or Golden Globe for this season then that would be a huge injustice. Her dialogue and acting combined to make S7 a terrific showcase for Jennifer and her character, their best season yet.

Miami Metro PD actually acted like detectives for once, with Batista displaying good instincts about Mike Anderson's death and he also deftly contributed to Speltzer's confession. LaGuerta also did well by putting the pieces together to figure out that Dexter is the Bay Harbour Butcher. The aforementioned Speltzer was a frightening mini boss for Dexter, hunting the titular character in a maze wearing a bull mask and wielding an axe. That episode, Run, was arguably the best of the season with everything working perfectly. Here Deb found herself glad that the murderer was killed and questioned what that made her, to which Dexter replied "human". The siblings' tentative alliance, with Debra dealing with Dexter's after dark activities was the main focus of the season and revitalised the entire show. Everything came full circle with Deb discovering the truth and often acting as a surrogate for the audience, questioning particular actions that Dexter took, such as not killing Trinity which subsequently led to Rita's death.

The only negative of S7 was Quinn's storyline. It ended abruptly and made his entire journey pointless. Ultimately he had an illegal immigrant girlfriend, shot her abusive boss and she dumped him. Whether she actually was killed, as her boss was a part of a criminal organisation, was unclear but either way it was unsatisfactory. The boss George, having killed Isaak, seemed as if he may go after Dexter but that never happened, which was okay considering how it all worked itself out.

The finale was shocking, plentiful in it's plot threads, all of which concluded expertly and led in to the following season, ensuring that the audience is as eager as can be to see how Dexter's story continues and ends. A five star season without a doubt and a reminder of how this is one of the greatest television programmes ever made.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2013 9:47 PM BST

Iron Man 3 [DVD]
Iron Man 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £8.49

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Iron Man yet, 9 May 2013
This review is from: Iron Man 3 [DVD] (DVD)
Iron Man 3 is a triumph for Marvel and in my opinion, second only to The Avengers in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. I'm going to delve into spoiler territory here as they're what the film leads up to and you can't really review IM3 without discussing them, so if you haven't seen it yet, look to the star rating alone and come back when you've seen it. And so we begin.

Iron Man 3 succeeds on every level; story, surprises, character development, dialogue, action, it all blends together to create a highly entertaining movie. The story begins in Switzerland with Yinsen's story (Iron Man 1) coming full circle, showing his aforementioned introduction to Tony Stark, a nice little easter egg for fans. The plot revolves around terrorists empowered by Extremis, which genetically manipulates their DNA to make them nearly indestructible with a lava-like touch. They are led by The Mandarin, a formidable terrorist that can attack anywhere any time and is brilliantly acted by Ben Kingsley, giving an impression of strength and power. Aldrich Killian is the head of the organisation AIM, secretly under the employ of The Mandarin and the creators of Extremis. His character initially is sympathetically viewed, being a hopeless and crippled nerd that is nastily ditched by Stark on New Year's Eve on the turn of the century but during the events of IM3 changes into a highly dangerous individual that poses a serious threat to Tony Stark.

Robert Downey Junior has his best performance yet as the multi faceted titular character, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce shine as The Mandarin and Aldrich Killian as do Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow and even Jon Favreau in their supporting roles. The dialogue is quick and witty, as you would expect from the writer of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the story, perhaps a little loosely held together at times is overall very strong. The twist, which reveals The Mandarin to be just a paid actor, a puppet, is stunning, it knocks you for six and is arguably the highlight of the film. Having Aldrich Killian as the real nemesis was absolutely the right move regardless of comic book canon. The films and books are two separate entities, with magic rings being a little too preposterous considering how massive the jump would be from relative realism to elemental powers in these 3 Iron Man films. With Killian as the main foe we got much more of Guy Pearce than I expected, and as he is a fantastic actor I couldn't have been happier personally.

Don Cheadle's War Machine is prevalent and memorable this time around, having a reason to be a part of the story unlike in Iron Man 2. Cheadle is impressive in the role and his character also sees through Stark unlike anyone else; he sees the effects of the events in The Avengers, the post traumatic stress that resulted from it. Tony Stark evolves in this film, having gone through the transition of selfish to selfless and self sacrificing without being able to stop. He struggles to sleep, spends all of his time obsessing over new Iron Man suits and his relationship with Pepper Potts suffers because of this. He spends the film understanding that the man makes the suit, not the suit makes the man. He taunts The Mandarin to confront him which leads to an assault on his Malibu mansion, a stunning display that leaves Tony without a home, far from his loved ones and with a broken suit. From there he investigates previous terrorist attacks and establishes connections, discovering that those responsible were formerly crippled soldiers, linking them to AIM, which gave them their limbs back in return for unknowingly becoming suicide bombers. The assault on Air Force One and the subsequent sky diving was another superb showing and gave another little twist, with Tony not needing to be in the suit to control it.

The final showdown with the Iron Man suits clashing with the Extremis soldiers was awe inspiring with every character present getting, whether friend or foe, to kick ass. Right until the very end, Killian posed a terrific threat to Iron Man, being able to breathe fire and melt the armour with a touch, but his intellect and his ability to run rings around everyone with his plotting would've conquered every obstacle, were it not for Tony Stark. His death seemed certain but given the nature of Extremis, I'd be overjoyed if he returned for a sequel as he was Iron Man's greatest enemy so far by a mile.

All in all Iron Man 3 is an excellent start to Phase 2 and is fully deserving of all of it's box office successes.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2013 3:55 AM GMT

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