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ToxieDogg (Liverpool, UK)

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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Nintendo Wii U)
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Nintendo Wii U)
Offered by IronNinjaJoy
Price: £43.60

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sonic Fail: The Fall of Sega, 8 Dec. 2014
I didn't buy this from Amazon, I got it cheaper elsewhere. I've been interested in this game for a while, strangely enough. The developer BigRedButton is (or was, considering a lot of them have now apparently left, like rats jumping from a sinking ship) made up of a team of people who worked on such classics as Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter so I was expecting a good, solid, entertaining platformer to play over the Xmas months. Of course as it's release date drew nearer, negative reviews started to appear. Apparently Sega hadn't bothered sending anybody review copies and people who had played the game were running into all kinds of glitches and frame rate issues. But still I kept the faith. There have been awful Sonic gams in the past...I don't think I need to explain to anybody just how horrific Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 was. But recent years have been kinder to the old blue blur. Sonic Colours on Wii was a very pleasant surprise and Sonic Generations was even better and a fitting anniversary game. Even last year's Sonic & The Lost World was an enjoyable if flawed romp with a lot of interesting level designs set on cylinder shaped stages. Sonic's dark days seemed to be behind him. Surely Sonic Boom: The Rise Of Lyric, coming from experienced platform game developers, would continue the trend of 'good' Sonic games?

In a nutshell, 'no'. Unfortunately, Sonic's fallen right back down to near....*shudder* Sonic 2006 standards.

What on earth went wrong? It's hard to tell exactly. The framerate is extremely unstable for a start. Whilst I've not had the game go unplayably slow/jerky on me yet, it's constantly and very noticeably dipping. Nearly all Sonic games have had issues with the in game camera and this certainly hasn't been fixed here....it's either too close up, too far away, and always clunky to move around. In fact during the hub stages sometimes the camera will get stuck altogether and give you a fixed viewpoint until you walk a distance away from where you where and try and change it again. Outside of a couple of on rails sections, Sonic himself plods along at a leisurely snail's pace, and there's no run button. The frequent combat sections with Lyric's army of robot goons are just mindless, extremely repetitive button bashing affairs where death is of no consequence (infinite lives, and you'll just reappear exactly where you are) and makes the energy system (you keep your energy topped up by collecting rings) as well as pretty much all the power up glyphs you earn from doing sub quests completely meaningless. To be fair, collecting large amounts of rings does eventually unlock bonus artwork from the title menu but for all the good they do in game you might as well just ignore them.

As for the side quests, these are simplistic affairs (go and fetch an item from here, or go there and kill some enemies) but they're also very few and far between, hidden away in large, mostly empty hubworlds that feel really eerie to explore...almost as if you're in a ghost town because they're just so devoid of life, character or even enemies to fight. And the glitches are numerous. Sonic and pals will often fall through platforms and ledges and get stuck on parts of scenery, and the sound constantly messes up....the 'helicopter' sound effect that Tails makes when he glides through the air will often continue for about another 10 seconds after he's landed, and on one cutscene I encountered a loud buzzing noise that almost completely drowned out what the characters were trying to say (thank goodness for subtitles!). The soundtrack is also quite mundane....whilst I don't hate it, it never really feels like it fits being in a Sonic game, and the (very short) looped tracks on the hub stages quickly become an irritation that might have you reaching for the mute button.

Probably the saddest thing is, is that despite it's numerous flaws and general ineptness, it feels like there's a good game trying to get out here, but it's been stifled either by poor development or Sega themselves (possibly a bit of both). Whilst it has an awful draw distance for items like rings (you won't see them until you're quite close to them), some of the environments and backdrops in the game do look genuinely attractve on a decent sized TV....the Ocean Purification Plant stage for instance looks like it's had a fair amount of thought put into it. But then other sections like the Quarry just look bland, bland, bland and would seem lousy on a PS2, never mind a Wii U. There's a couple of short twin stick shooter sections that are quite fun, and the main stages often have 2 or more different paths running through them which allow you to try completing them in different ways with different characters....a feature that would be a welcome addition in a better game. And to be fair to Sonic Boom, it never feels [i]quite[/i] as bad as Sonic '06 did. Unexpected deaths from glitches don't occur with anywhere near the same level of frequency as they did in Sonic '06, in Sonic Boom they're more of an annoyance than an actual frustration. The loading times certainly aren't anywhere near as bad in Sonic Boom. And the gameplay does seem to flow a little better.

But being 'a bit better than Sonic '06' isn't exactly an accolade to be proud of, when that game is pretty much as bad as things get. Sonic Boom: The Rise Of Lyric is still an insipid, buggy, disappointment that should have been sent back to the drawing board or at least playtested properly before being let loose. And whilst I've managed to eke some masochistic enjoyment out of it, it's certainly not a game I can recommend on a system that hosts far superior titles such as Super Mario 3D World, Super Smash Bros U, Mario Kart 8, Lego City Undercover, Donkey Kong Country Tropic Freeze and even another much better Sonic game in Sonic & The Lost World.

Really, if Sega don't start getting their act together properly, Sonic will be dead soon and Sega along with him....it's not like they've got much else going on these days. So sad to see one of the gaming giants from my childhood reduced to this.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2016 6:23 PM BST

The Last Of Us (PS3)
The Last Of Us (PS3)
Offered by games.empire
Price: £29.95

18 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good, competent game with excellent graphics and voice acting, nothing more, 31 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The Last Of Us (PS3) (Video Game)
Oh dear. Naughty Dog, what hast thou created? This will be a bit of a lengthy critique of this game, so if you actually want to sit and read it all, I'd go and put the kettle on for a cuppa now.

Settled down with your brew? Good.

Once upon a time, Naughty Dog created some really good games that focused on the gameplay and providing as enjoyable an experience as possibly. I was never the biggest fan of Crash Bandicoot but I can appreciate it was one of the PS1's better platformers. I really enjoyed the Jak & Daxter games and loved exploring the worlds and finding all the secrets. Uncharted and Uncharted 2 were fantastic in my opinion, and kept things interesting from start to finish with a lot of variety.

But then they released Uncharted 3, which is were the rot started to set in. Uncharted 3 was still a very good game, but blighted by numerous sections where you did nothing more than push the analogue stick around watching Drake walk slowly along a linear path and listening to him and his chums chatter away...in many cases, this would constitute a whole level of the game, when in reality these stages should really have been skippable cutscenes. They bogged the experience down as a whole, and left me never wanting to play the game again after completing it once.

And now they've continued the trend with The Last Of Us, a game which people automatically dish out '10/10' scores to because they liked the storyline, and then just mumble a bit and stare at their feet when asked if they enjoyed the actual gameplay or not. Now that's not to say it's a bad game because it isn't, but despite running on what seems to be the same engine as Uncharted, it doesn't offer anywhere near as much freedom as that game. Your character Joel can't even jump so you don't have as much freedom as you'd like to explore the environments. And all too often it falls into the same trap that Uncharted 3 did....inbetween the action scenes, you'll often be just walking through large empty areas with nothing to see or do asides from listen to the odd line of dialogue from Ellie or any other people who are travelling with you at the time. This might seem like good storytelling to some people but like Uncharted 3, these sections really should've been skippable cutscenes...nice to watch once, but for the sake of subsequent playthroughs, nobody wants to be forced to to actually control the movement through an entire section where nothing happens asides from Ellie cracking a joke. At least I don't.

Even when things do happen, the game isn't as tense or realistic as it likes to think it is. A strange design choice will often have your AI companions deciding to run around in full view of enemies, who won't react to them (they only react to seeing the player). This can be strange and disorientating, especially if Ellie decides to suddenly randomly attack an enemy (which they *will* react to) and send them into a panicked frenzy that ruins the last few minutes you spent studying their patrol path and sneaking up on them....I'd have much preferred the AI characters to stay way back until I signnalled them to come forward. You will also tire of seeing Joel's lengthy chokehold kill move again, and again, and again, and again, and....yawn. It's not a million miles away from the bit in 'Unbreakable' where Bruce Willis kills an intruder and the chokehold seems to go on for about 10 minutes....imagine that happening multiple times in one game. The enemy AI also isn't that brilliant either as you can often dispatch a whole load of them one by one by killing one in an open area, waiting until one of the others goes 'What's this?' and wanders over and stands staring at the body for half a minute (giving you a perfect opportunity to kill him where he stands), then waiting for another enemy to spot the dead bodies, come wandering over and say 'What's this?' and stand staring....rinse and repeat. Even if you do get spotted and don't have a weapon to hand, Joel is quite a powerful fighter and has a pretty good chance of being able to take out 2 or 3 enemies at a time by just wading into the middle of them and mashing the square button. I didn't often feel in much danger whilst I was playing through The Last Of Us, save for a few sections where you need to sneak past Clickers.

Now let's compare this to another mostly stealthy game, the now near 10 year old Manhunt for PS2. Manhunt did a far, far better job of creating real tension and fear. In Manhunt, hand to hand combat was intentionally clunky so you'd often die if you faced more than one enemy unarmed, and you always felt constantly in danger because of it. Use of the environment in Manhunt was far better....James Earl Cash could hide in shadows. James could pick bits of rubbish up off the floor like plastic bags and bits of glass and innovate by using them as single use lethal weapons in an emergency. James could create distractions by tapping on walls to create noise if he didn't have a brick or glass bottle to hand. James could pick up the bodies of enemies he had killed and hide them to prevent other enemies from discovering them. Absolutely none of which Joel can do in The Last Of Us. It's pretty pathetic to think that a decade later on much more powerful hardware, a supposedly AAA title is offering us less possibilities. Even the storyline of Manhunt was comparatively hard hitting.

Basically, The Last Of Us is a triumph of style over substance. Yes, it's had a lot of hard work put into it, I can appreciate that. Yes, the production values, voice acting and storyline are of a high standard. But it's ultimately a shallow experience. You more often than not don't have any choice in how to do things (stealth or all out firefight) other than what the game's predetermined script wants you to do, and often you're forced to kill all enemies in an area to proceed, even if you could've easily sneaked past a couple of them (something even Manhunt never forced a lot of the time).

Despite it's faults though, The Last Of Us is still a decent game, just not anywhere even close to what I'd call a spectacular one, and nor is it a game that I suspect a huge amount of people will ever bother returning to once they've seen it through to it's conclusion for the first time. Remember that games are an interactive medium, not a passive medium like TV shows or movies. We shouldn't give them free passes just because the script is on a par with a decent episode of The Walking Dead.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2014 10:14 PM BST

Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (Nintendo 3DS)
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by Trade-N-Go Gaming
Price: £39.99

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an 'Epic' platformer, but still a completely charming throwback, 26 Nov. 2012
I first became interested in Epic Mickey: Power Of Illusion after seeing screenshots earlier in the year. I just loved the graphical style and it immediately reminded me of Mickey Mouse: Castle Of Illusion on the Mega Drive, to which this game is a sequel to, of sorts. Now, I could never understand the amount of love for Castle Of Illusion....nice graphics asides, it was one of the most linear, simplistic and easy to complete games ever made and if I remember correctly I sailed through it on either my first or second go with the difficulty cranked right up to 'hard' in about half an hour. Yet it's fondly remembered as a classic.

Fast forward to 2012. Epic Mickey began it's life on Wii, and whilst it didn't set the gaming world alight, it had an excellent storyline, atmosphere and art style that reinvigorated many people's interest in Disney's most famous mouse again. This year, we have the just released sequel for main consoles and this spin off handheld game which takes completely it's own direction. And it's all the better for it. Gone are the irritating camera problems and control issue that have bogged Mickey down on the main consoles, and instead we have a game that plays like a classic 16 bit platformer. Graphically, it's stunning and screenshots do it no justice...anyone who's even a little bit of a Disney fan will immediately appreciate just how much work has gone into the visuals and animation and just how well the 3DS's 3D effect compliments them. Sound-wise, it's also fantastic with plenty of chattering from Mickey himeself, tons of sound effects and grand orchestral scores for each stage. As for gameplay...at first it'll seem a lot slower than what you're used to. Mickey doesn't run (although power ups do grant him a temporary speed boost) and often you'll have to stop to draw or erase something from the game world by tracing it's outline on the touchscreen. This seems like a lot of fun at first, but in truth it can get tiresome at times having to draw/erase the same objects over and over again. But in fairness, there's barely any times when the game will actively force you to use the painting mechanic, it's usually something you'll want to do to reach a bonus, or use objects to kill enemies without the hassle of having to jump on them the conventional way, and it's a style of gameplay you'll get used to very quickly. Mickey himself is an absolute joy to control, the controls feeling as tight and responsive as any great platformer I've ever played, and whenever you die, it'll always be your own fault and not the game's fault. So all well and good then.

Well...yes and no. Many reviews are being extremely critical of the game's length, saying it's too short and has too few levels. I have a split opinion about this. The game overall spans 12 levels.....3 worlds, 4 levels per world and 3 boss fights. However, each of the stages are split into 2 fairly decent sized halves so in essence it's kind of like having 24 levels instead of 12. But still! I hear you cry....that is still fairly short. Well, it is....but if you rescue every toon and complete every side quest, some of the earlier stage will need to be replayed twice, maybe 3 or 4 times in order to find everything (side quest objectives only appear within stages once a character asks you to go and find them), you can add a fair amount of time onto the game. The half of the game also considerably ramps up the difficulty level...not so that it's unfair but it is fairly easy to be caught off guard, and the last four levels are actually genuinely challenging. Dying sends you back to the part of the stage you're on...if you reached the second half, then you start from the midway point, and you keep all the E-Tickets you colleted too (handy for buying powerups from Uncle Scrooge) but you do lose your quest items if you found any...annoying, but not the end of the world as you'll be respawned with full health.

As it is, I've still got the last 2 levels and the last boss fight to go as I write this, but so far I've been rescuing every toon and completing every sidequest along the way, and my total playing time has been 7.5 hours....so I'd estimate that I may have gotten about 9 hours out of it when it's all over? Whether this sounds like decent value for money will be up to each individual gamer but one thing I think is worth bearing in mind is that it only took me a little over 10 hours to find everything in New Super Mario Bros 2., including the secret worlds and all the star coins. I think Epic Mickey: Power Of Illusion's main fault is not that it's too short, but that it feels like it could've been just that little bit longer and leaves the player wanting more. Another world with another 4 decent sized stages that are as challenging as the stages in World 3 would've done this game wonders. But it is what it is, and even though it doesn't last forever, what it provides is excellent 2D platforming at it's finest whilst it does laat, and a game that will be well worth replaying again in the future. And when you consider that many 2D platformers that people have happily spent £30-£40 on in the past could easily be breezed through in an hour or two...it really doesn't seem so bad in the grand scheme of things.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2014 6:17 AM GMT

Buffalo HD-LB1.0TU2-EU 1TB DriveStation USB 2.0 3.5 Inch External Hard Drive
Buffalo HD-LB1.0TU2-EU 1TB DriveStation USB 2.0 3.5 Inch External Hard Drive

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Might not be FAT32 when you get it., 24 Sept. 2011
Just a quick warning to say that I purchased this exact same external HDD (Buffalo Drivestation) from another site and it arrived new and sealed....but was NTFS formatted, not FAT32. That meant that I couldn't immediately use it with my PS3 as the PSP can only recognise FAT32 formatted drives, and had to download a third party program to do this as newer versions of Windows no longer let you format drives to FAT32. So I'm knocking a star off for that, as other HDDs I've bought from Buffalo in the past have arrived in FAT32 format, and this was a pain to sort out as I've never had to do this before. Other than that, it's an excellent HDD, very sleekly designed, runs quietly and does the job perfectly. Just don't forget to check it's properties on your PC first before you copy too much onto it in case you need to reformat it!

Taito Legends Power-Up (PSP)
Taito Legends Power-Up (PSP)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so much 'Legends' as a random selection of OK/Average games, 24 Sept. 2011
There's not much point in me reviewing every individual game as if you're here reading this review, I'm pretty sure you're familiar with them. Suffice to say that they're all emulated perfectly and have adjustable screen ratios and controls. One thing that does need pointing out however is that The New Zealand Story included here is not the original version...I don't know if it's a port of New Zealand Story Plus (the 'remixed' tougher version that appeared on the Mega Drive and was then ported back to arcades) as I've never played that before, or some other kind of ROM hack because from what I played of it, some of the levels had been changed and the difficulty had been ramped up significantly....it's not as much fun to play as the original version at all, which is a bummer as it was the main reason I bought this compilation. The 'enhanced' games are much better than I expected them to be though with the updated version of Cameltry being particularly fun.

All I will echo is what other reviewers have pointed out, and that is that the selection of games for a collection called 'Taito Legends' is very odd...no Bubble Bobble? No Rainbow Islands? I suppose that's partly so that they could try and make us buy the updated PSP remakes separately but as we all know by now, they're pants and not a patch on the original arcade classics. I would have also like Jungle Hunt on the handheld version of Taito Legends too. Still, Elevator Action is always worth a play or 20 so all is not lost.

MTV: Beavis & Butt-head Collectors Edition [DVD]
MTV: Beavis & Butt-head Collectors Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mike Judge
Offered by All We Ever Look For
Price: £29.99

75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As complete a set as you'll ever (officially) get...., 4 Aug. 2009
I could wax lyrical about how entertaining Beavis and Butt-Head are, but chances are you already know that if you're here looking at reviews of this set so I'll concentrate on facts. This is a set containing all 3 of the 'Mike Judge Collections' (spanning 9 discs) along with the movie, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America on a 10th disc. Unfortunately, as you may already know, not all 200+ episodes of Beavis and Butt-Head ever made are included in this set, but it does contain a good selection (around 120) from all 7 seasons right up to and including the final episode 'Beavis and Butt-Head Are Dead'. In the episodes included, the music videos have been removed, mainly for copyright reasons but a selection of them can still be found in the extras. However, some other puzzling edits have been made, such as the odd line of dialogue or short scene being removed. From what I've seen though, my opinion is that these are barely noticeable and not nearly as bad as some reviews would have you believe and don't ruin any of the episodes at all...some have even been included on the discs anyway as 'easter eggs'. Basically then, this box set isn't perfect, but the material that's here is still top notch (it is Beavis and Butt-Head after all), the extras are very worthwhile, and now that Mike Judge has made his descisions, it's the most 'complete' set that us fans will ever be able to officially buy.....

Although if you search hard enough, you will be able to find various people selling the whole 7 seasons (including every episode in their unedited entirety) on self made DVDs, or even download them yourself. Fortunately, the huge Beavis and Butt-Head fanbase has kept them all in circulation from recordings of the original broadcasts. Now I don't advocate piracy and fully recommend that you buy this box set if you haven't got the Mike Judge Collections already, but just be aware that if you want a complete set of episodes, you'll never be able to 'officially' obtain all of them. I think Mike Judge has shot himself in the foot by trying to play God too much with his own creation. Shame, that.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 24, 2011 1:58 AM BST

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (Limited Edition) [DVD]
Star Wars IV: A New Hope (Limited Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Hamill
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £14.99

26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What on earth is he ranting about?, 11 May 2007
I don't normally criticise other reviewers personally but seeing as how Ken Weir has already unjustly slated another reviewer (B.Abraham), I feel the need to step in and correct the situation.

Ken, you have completely missed the point. B.Abraham was not saying that his DVD included a scene that yours does not, he was merely implying that the addition of the CGI Jabba The Hut to the `Special Edition' of Star Wars Episode 4 was completely unnecessary, along with the absurd `Greedo firing first' scene. It's a perfectly valid point and one that many fans, myself included, are known to agree with. If you like the scene with Jabba, then fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion.

However, the meeting between Han and Jabba did NOT appear at all in the original theatrical release, either with Jabba as a human or otherwise, and if you did see the scene in the theatrical release, then it must have been some sort of unedited bootleg copy. The `Jabba' scene was actually filmed but subsequently ended up on the cutting room floor. It only came to light when it was reinstated for the original release of the Special Edition and had a CGI Jabba superimposed over the original human actor. The only way you would have ever seen the scene played out as originally filmed is by watching one of the `Making Of' documentaries regarding the Star Wars Special Editions, where the scene is often shown first with the human actor, and then again with the CGI Jabba super imposed on top of him how to demonstrate how the effects were done for the Special Edition movie.

To use such a flawed argument as an excuse to attack another reviewer and give an otherwise enjoyable film a dismal 1-star rating and knock it's overall rating down is pathetic. Do your research properly next time, Mr. Weir.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2011 12:06 PM BST

Nintendo Wii Classic Controller (Wii)
Nintendo Wii Classic Controller (Wii)

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for it's intended use., 12 April 2007
One thing a lot of people don't seem to think about when singing the praises of the Gamecube controllers is the button layout.

If you're only planning on downloading NES/Turbografx16 games from the Virtual Console (that only require the use of 2 buttons and the D-Pad), and you also want something that you can use with Gamecube games, then by all means avoid this and get a wired Gamecube pad or Wavebird instead, especially as the Wii Classic Controller isn't compatible with Gamecube games.

However, if you're planning on downloading some decent SNES games (and there are a lot appearing now), then you MUST get this. The games for Virtual Console have been designed with the Classic Controller in mind, that means that the controls have been mapped to where they are expected to be on the Classic Controller. You might think that this doesn't mean much......but you can't optimise the controls yourself on most games, so that means if you're using a Gamecube controller (where the `X' and `Y' buttons are in strange places), then you're in trouble. This is particularly apparent when trying to play games like Super Mario World with the Gamecube controller.....it's a near impossibility. But playing it with the Wii Classic Controller is simplicity itself. When using a Gamecube controller, there are also noticeable difficulties with the button layouts (in my experience) when playing Zelda: Link To The Past and Mystical Ninja as well, whereas I can manage them just fine with the Classic Controller. And don't even get me started about trying to play Streetfighter 2 with a Gamecube controller!!! It makes getting used to Streetfighter 3 on the Dreamcast seem easy!

Also, hopefully in the coming months as decent multiformat games come out, the Wii won't get crippled with silly unnecessary tacked on motion controls that just make conventional games harder to play (as has happened with a lot of the 'shovelware' launch titles). The Classic Controller should come into it's own then. I can see it being very good for Super Smash Bros. Dojo.

All in all, you just need to think about what you need it for before you buy it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2014 7:01 PM BST

Casino Royale (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD]
Casino Royale (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £2.27

10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was hoping for, 30 Mar. 2007
This film has split popular opinion right down the middle, and I can see why.

I was bought up on Bond, and he'd always dominate the TV in our house when his films were shown. I've a fondness for Roger Moore's Bond (probably due to the fact that he's the one I'm most familiar with) but I've seen all the other films and really enjoyed the way the other actors put their own spin on the character (yes, even George Lazenby) whilst still managing to stick to the `Bond' formula that has entertained audiences ever since Dr No.

But this film is different.

First off, I'd like to say what a fantastic choice Daniel Craig was for the role. I never had any doubts that he would put 120% into the role and he delivers in spades. I don't have a problem either with certain things being `modernised'....in fact, when he said that he didn't `give a damn' how he was given his Martini, I laughed out loud. The action sequences (what there were of them) were great too....the opening scene and airport scene are pure Bond, pure adrenaline, pure excitement.

What I do have a problem with is the rest of the film. Try as you might to defend it, this was pure Snoozeville City. `Le Chiffre' came across as possibly the most unthreatening Bond villain ever and had absolutely zero character development other than what was metioned about him on the MI5 report. Eva Green was a dreadful Bond girl, her accent was beyond annoying and her acting so dull that I'd already predicted how her character was going to play out within a couple of minutes...and the plot itself, dear lord, the plot (or lack of it) revolved around Bond playing a game of poker against Le Chiffre for most of the film. I had been warned beforehand that this is what the film was about, but I couldn't really believe it until I saw it for myself, and if you don't understand (or care) about the nuances of Poker (as I don't), then a lot of the tension and drama in the card playing scenes will be lost on you. Indeed, in between the main action sequences, the film plods along at a snails pace. The ending was horrible too, I won't give too much away but there was no real closure to the story, instead there was a pathetic Hollywood style `open ending', something a Bond movie should NEVER have.

And surprisingly, as somebody who strictly opposes censorship, I was also uneasy with the age rating. When I went to see this at the cinema (where it was a 12A, under 12's allowed if accompanied by adults), there were a least a few young kids dotted about, probably aged about 7 or 8. Bond films have always been violent, but in a `clean' way, baddies normally being dispatched in explosions, one shot kills or just off-screen. In Casino Royale, some of the violence is gritty and sadistic, particularly the fight scene in between rounds of Poker. While I enjoyed it, I also felt that I wouldn't have been happy with my own young children watching it (if I had any). In my opinion, previous Bond movies have always managed to strike a good balance between all out violence and acceptable family entertainment, something that fathers and sons can watch together and be entertained in different ways, and that's what makes them so appealing. Casino Royale unfortunately crosses straight over the line, and in doing so, has sold it's soul.....this is definitely aimed squarely at the older teenager/young twentysomething market. People may complain that this is what they expect nowadays, but those people should go and watch something like The Bourne Identity/Supremacy (which are much better examples of how to make a good espionage film with a `darker' atmosphere) and let Bond continue to do what he does best, defeat crazy megalomaniacs with a dazzling array of gadgets.

So in summary then, a great new Bond in the form of Daniel Craig but a very average movie at best for him to be stuck in, give or take a couple of good bits of action. Hopefully, the next movie will be a return to form (or at least a step in the right direction) but if this is the future of the franchise, James Bond Will Return, but audiences may well start leaving.

5 stars for Daniel Craig, 2 stars for the actual film, 3 out of five seems a fair score for the total package

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [DVD] [1990]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Judith Hoag
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £7.40

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never pay full price for late pizza!, 30 Mar. 2007
In my opinion, this is a great film and one of the best comic book adaptations ever. It sticks a lot more closely to the original material than the 1990's animated series did, although there are a couple of minor references to the cartoon, such as April O Neill being a news reporter and the Turtles love of pizza. The film is also much more watchable nowadays, as when it was originally released in UK cinemas (and later on VHS), almost every scene with Mikey's nunchukus was either edited or blurred out.....which is very noticeable in the fight scenes and makes a huge difference to the confrontation with Shredder at the end....but the BBFC have now seen sense and the censored footage has now been restored for the DVD.

Basically, the plot is a simple one of good versus evil and old vendettas....Shredder (a Darth Vader style bad guy, all scary mask and gruff voice) is attempting to take over New York with his clan of ninja thieves and the Ninja Turtles are out to stop him under the guidance of Splinter, a rat who's master was killed by Shredder many years before. But it is unusually dark and emotional for a film that is perceived to be aimed primarily at children. All kinds of themes are dealt with....coping with isolation from the outside world, anger, loss, and generally growing up and coming of age...and the characters are explored in a fair amount of detail and shown to be unique personalities who deal with situations in their own way. The fight scenes are also a lot of fun too, the restored scene where Mikey takes on a `fellow `chucker' is particularly amusing, as well as being a prime example of just how much the BBFC ruined the overall feel of the film by censoring it so much back in 1990.

The acting, well it's not going to win any Oscars, but Corey Feldman lends himself well to the voice of Donatello, Kevin Clash does manage to portray Splinter as a wise and venerable creature and Elias Koteas puts in a solid performance as Casey Jones. Judith Hoag is a little weak as April O' Neill but she was replaced by Paige Turco (of American Gothic fame) for the 2 sequels.

But for entertainment value, laughs, and memorable quotes, Cowabunga says it all.

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