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All reviews - Movies (29) - TV Shows (1) - Books (17) - Games (6)

Tuff Justice

Posted : 9 years, 6 months ago on 16 June 2009 09:46 (A review of Police Car Power (Tough Stuff))

If you want your children to learn that driving fast is cool, that dogs are dangerous and road safety isn't important when you are a criminal on the run or policeman in hot pursuit, then this is the book for your ignorant offspring.

This book tells the tale of police in a patrol car who chase a stolen F1 racing car around the streets, until crashed, then the police sets their dog on the criminal when he tries to run. It ends with an arrest.

A waste of paper!

Illustrated throughout.

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Transport Illustrations

Posted : 9 years, 6 months ago on 15 June 2009 10:23 (A review of Monster Machines)

Monster Machines is a picture book aided at 3-5 year olds, showing transport in a number of different forms - all technically illustrated in full colour.

Sadly the 'monster' aspect is just a catchy title to appeal to kids and the reality of this book doesn't stand up to any adult scrutiny. For example the second vehicle featured may be the largest steam locomotive ever built, truly a monster machine, but five vehicles later we are looking at a really tiny four seater propeller plane - hardly a monster even to a three year old!

Despite being first published in Great Britain in 2003, this book has a very strong American bias at least in a couple of vehicle choices. Instead of a British Steam train there is a Wild West Train and the cement mixer has the traditional long engine at the front synonymous with American models.

Each illustration is accompanied by a brief description of the vehicle, and a question for younger readers to answer - such as where is the bell? Where is the steering wheel? etc.

Despite a few drawbacks this book is a real favourite of my 18 month old son - who loves to point at the Modern Tractor and shout excitedly "tac-ta".

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Free Zoo Gifts

Posted : 9 years, 6 months ago on 6 June 2009 12:25 (A review of Dear Zoo: Lift the Flaps)

Only sixteen pages long, few words and very basic coloured drawings, yet since its launch in 1982 it has become an absolute children's favourite, mostly due to the simple flap on every other page, each one revealing an unsuitable animal from the Zoo. The peek-a-boo element offered by this book, keeps very young children amused and eager to discover just what the next page offers. Well thumbed and torn flaps will ensure that this isn't a book that will be passed down the generations, but you can still be certain this is a book that you'll buy for your grandchildren - if Mum & Dad don't beat you to it.

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We are going to need a bigger boat!

Posted : 9 years, 7 months ago on 27 April 2009 08:25 (A review of Jaws (1975))

Today Great White Sharks are on the endangered species list. We now know that even the humble toaster in your kitchen is far more dangerous to mankind than these wondrous creatures, which have changed so little since prehistoric times. But in 1975 the world was a different place and for anyone watching this movie the sea quickly became a fearful place with sharks the hidden killer of the deep.

‘Jaws’ tells the story of the Island town of Amity and its cheerful inhabitants, most of which rely heavily on the seasonal tourist trade and are hesitant to acknowledge anything that may tarnish the islands idyllic reputation. When a body is washed ashore, its down to Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) to do his duty to serve and protect, even if he does hate the water!

What makes this movie so special is that, just like its victims, you rarely see the killer shark. John Williams' memorable score also makes this film stand out, that ‘da dum, da dum’ gives you goosebumps when you hear it and really enhances the sense of impending terror. The absence of those notes can also lull you into relaxing at precisely the wrong moment, making you jump, a trick repeated by many subsequent horror movies. But this movie isn’t just about a single killer shark or the soundtrack, it’s also about Chief Brody and the men he brings in to hunt down the Great White Shark. Spoilt rich kid and shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) is the complete opposite of the Old Seadog and Survivor of an infamous shark attack Quint (Robert Shaw), one appreciates sharks, the other prefers them dead! Together the three disparate men bond, in a very masculine way, before finally chasing after and attempting to capture and kill the very smart beast.

Given the high standards of film making and tension, the end of this movie can be a little disappointing, with us seeing far too much of the killer shark and the obviously animatronic head (good for its time). But the pleasure that is the original Jaws movie will stay with you for quite some time.

This is a wonderful movie, just don’t watch it before going into the water!

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Severe job cuts ahead!

Posted : 9 years, 7 months ago on 25 April 2009 02:03 (A review of Severance (2006))

The release that comes from a comedy moment can be made all the more potent by previously building up tension and suspense in a good horror movie. I like a good chuckle from a horror movie, so I had very high hopes for this movie, perhaps too high! Also watching it alone and on TV wasn’t the best way to enjoy this movie, but it wasn’t bad. Some lines are extremely funny, but the horror/comedy mix just didn’t work for me.

When it was all about tension, this film is very near to perfection. Camera angles change so you never know if someone is really approaching or not. Famous last words are banded about and you do expect each character to die at any moment.

The horror however isn’t horrific, there is implied cannibalism at one point, but this isn’t taken any further than finding a tooth in a pie . When limbs are lost, it is always followed with a comedy moment, which actually lessened the impact of each scene for me. What weakened this film further was the killers being too human, too visible, too numerous and far too easily despatched to be really scary.

The comedy comes almost entirely from the excellent characters lines and two visual gags. You won’t wet yourself laughing with this movie, but you will find yourself repeating some very funny lines with your mates, or even using phrases in future conversations, such as “you've got more chance of getting shit from a rocking horse”.

I’d really recommend this movie to any group of teenagers who want to rent a DVD and have a night in, get spooked and have a laugh at each other’s reactions. There is even the obligatory ‘women topless’ scene for teenage viewers to get all excited about and the classic last word of ‘Foursome?’

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Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 21 April 2009 09:38 (A review of Bat*21)

Having previously been so dismissive of the movie ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, I thought it only right and proper to review the 1988 movie ‘Bat*21’, which I highly recommend as a much better alternative.

This film is supposed to be loosely based on the real-life rescue of Lt. Col. Hambleton by U.S. Navy SEAL Thomas R. Norris and team member Nguyen Van Kiet, a South Vietnamese SEAL. It isn’t, but don’t let that fact spoil your enjoyment of this entertaining escape and evasion movie.

Set during the Vietnam War, Bat*21 tells the tale of Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton [Gene Hackman], a weapons expert whose aircraft is shot down whilst travelling over enemy territory. With no ground combat experience, Hambleton must evade the People's Liberation Armed Forces using his wits alone, until American Forces can safely extract him from danger.

Because of Hambleton’s knowledge, it is crucial that he be rescued before the Vietcong get their hands on him, so it’s not long before American eyes are in the sky desperately searching for Hambleton. He is spotted by reconnaissance flyer Captain Bartholomew Clark [Danny Glover], however the task of getting Hambleton to safety is made all the harder because the enemy is listening to Hambleton's radio transmissions, and he knows it. With restricted radio contact between Clark & Hambleton, the daring pilot attempts to assist Hambleton to safety before the area is carpet-bombed.

Racing against both the clock and the enemy, this is an edge of the seat viewing experience. Gene Hackman gives an excellent performance and even Danny Glover is believable. There aren’t any plot twists or surprises, but at the same time this isn’t your typical gung-ho war movie either, enemies are not dehumanised beyond all recognition and killing isn’t glorified. An example of this comes when an air strike is called in by Hambleton and he sees for himself the result, which the character has never seen close-up and he is clearly affected by the tragic loss of life and human suffering.

At times this movie can make you hold your breath with suspense and then get your heart pounding with excitement. Even the now slightly dated cinematography doesn’t let this movie down, if anything it actually helps place this movie in the recent past and builds on the already strong atmosphere that it successfully creates.

This is not a date movie, but a recommended war movie, and far superior alternative to the drivel that is ‘behind enemy lines’.

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God Bless The USAF & America

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 19 April 2009 11:03 (A review of Behind Enemy Lines (2001))

If you’ve seen BAT-21 (which I do recommend as an alternative), you may have very high hopes for this movie, which is on a similar theme and also staring Gene Hackman. Sadly however all hopes for a decent movie are quickly dashed as the completely fictional and highly predictable tale unfolds.

The story is about an American Navy Pilot who has become disillusioned with the United States Air Force/Navy, is later shot down in Serbian controlled territory, must struggle to survive as he tries to avoid hostile pursuers, get back to the fleet and have a complete change of heart. The movie is so predictable and so full of errors that it is almost laughable, but not quite.

The worst scene for me is when the hero stuck behind enemy lines makes it to the pick-up point and confirms such by radio, however the Admiral isn’t politically enabled to extract the pilot at that time, so all he can do is ask one of his subordinates to "triangulate [the pilots] position" – lol, why?! He’s at the pick-up point were you told him to be! You know this he just confirmed such! Why try to work out where that is or have you already forgotten?! There are many more instances when logic fails, I won't bore you with them all, watch this movie if that's your thing.

It is interesting to note that none of the actors playing Serbians were actually Serbians; the producers could not find any Serbians willing to work on this film. I wonder was this due to the really polarised anti-Serbian message of this movie? Or did they simply spot a bad script from a mile off and not want to be part of it?!

This really is just made for an American audience; you are not required to think, just be proud to be an American and enjoy the explosions. For all viewers that like this type of drivel, you'll be pleased to know that this film was followed by two direct to DVD sequels; Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil, and Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia.

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Convenient lies

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 14 April 2009 11:11 (A review of An Inconvenient Truth (2006))

An Inconvenient Truth is really weird. It’s not a drama or even a documentary in the traditional sense, it's more of a slide show, delivered to a live audience, on the subject of the environment. To make this work you should need a great presenter, so who was chosen to tackle this huge task, Bono from U2? David Attenborough? Nope, it’s Al Gore the former American Vice President – well we all trust what politicians tell us! Don’t we?

What follows is a very moving account of why we should firstly trust Al Gore, why his family were willing to change their opinion of pushing tobacco on the public when it hit close to home and then Al Gore gives us key figures, charts and even diagrams on how CO2 (Carbon dioxide) is really the biggest threat against humanity and the World today. All details are presented as facts, not theories, with no counter argument.

For example, Al Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. However the September 2006 Issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame."

What is also never discussed is that the rise in carbon dioxide levels actually lags behind temperature rise by quite a few years. So carbon dioxide rises aren’t the cause of global warming, but the outcome of rises! This movie in effect puts it that ‘the cart pushes the horse along’, despite this lunacy, everyone agrees, the movie is a success and the world changes.

Joe Public is now working harder for the environment and trying to recycle more, which isn’t a bad thing. There are however many negative sides of this movies global success, such as the renewed push towards nuclear power, carbon trading (which is nonsense), third-world countries are no longer able to use their vast natural resources and enjoy their own industrial revolutions, and scientists who attempt to obtain grants for research that may contradict the man-made explanation are shunned by the political establishment and often vilified.

Do watch this movie to see what its all about, it will hopefully move you to become more aware of your environment, but please do also use your own grey matter to think about the real causes and effects around us. Oh and don’t always trust what a politician tells you!

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End of the Line

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 11 April 2009 08:26 (A review of Final Destination (2000))

Death as a sentient entity is a concept that has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, death is often given the name the "Grim Reaper", it is also given the name of the "Angel of Death" stemming from the Bible. In some cases, the Grim Reaper is able to actually cause the victim's death, leading to tales that he (she in some countries) can be bribed, tricked, or outwitted in order to retain one's life. This movie runs with that idea and creates a wonderful roller-coaster of a ride, as we watch a group of teenagers being stalked by the Grim Reaper, as death comes calling for those he/she missed the first time around!

This movie is aimed squarely at teenagers and is rated 15 accordingly. But for anyone 15-20 years old who wants a movie to make them jump, this movie will fit the bill perfectly.

Why do I rate this movie so highly? This movie ticked all my boxes when it was first released. I was the characters age, I had premonitions, I had escaped death in a similar manner and I had read enough fables and seen the Storyteller on TV to appreciate death as an entity. Its also a good scary movie!

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Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 10 April 2009 10:59 (A review of Monsters vs. Aliens (2009))

Firstly watching this movie in IMAX 3D was a true movie experience, there were numerous times when I was so pleased with how this movie was presented. Once immersed, everything was as if you were watching the movie from the director’s chair – 3D wasn’t just a gimmick, it was used creatively. Ok, there are a couple of instances where it was just for fun, such as the bat and ball scene, but that was also there for comic effect. I appreciated just how well it was made in 3D when an on-screen character stands up into view, and for a split second I thought it was actually someone in the cinema.

However for all the delights of the 3D IMAX experience, the movie was just average, the laughs too few and far between, and movie references far too nerdy. You need both a good knowledge and appreciation of Science fiction movies from the past sixty years to get every reference.

Monsters Vs Aliens is also weirdly balanced in terms of characters. Unlike ‘The Incredibles’, which had a 2.4 children family arrangement, this movie wants you to like, well whom would you empathise with from the following list… A young woman who doesn’t initially value herself? A man-made brainless blob? A muscle-bound monster from the '50s that is now out of shape? A mad scientist?

I’m glad I saw this movie in 3D IMAX, it bodes well for the future use of 3D as a medium. But I certainly won’t be rushing out to buy the DVD. Now where did I put my copy of ‘The Incredibles’?!

NOTE: There is a scene after the credits, so do stay around to watch the entire film! The last clip certainly prevents a sequel, which isn't a bad thing!

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