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District 9 (Nine)
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This film was excellent. The CGI is superb and I think for most people a DVD copy will be sufficient as it adds to the "on the scene" feel of the film. There are a wealth of additional/extended scenes in the extra that are worth a watch.
The film itself is engaging and gets the blend between story, action and social commentary absolutely right. A must own for any Sci-Fi affectionado.
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This is one of those films - you need to like the genre to appreciate the film. If you dont like war movies or period pieces - there is nothing here for you (unless you want to watch just to enjoy good CGI). For a good action oriented movie featuring a number of set-piece battle sequences this is the stuff.
This is the kind of film you can watch after a long week on Friday night - switch off the brain and open a bottle of wine/crate of beer. Classic.
My only negative comment is that this disc offers yet more evidence that Blu-Rau was inferior to HD-DVD as (having owned in originally in the better format) the Picture in Picture commentary allowing the viewer to see the film in its origianl state is missing. This wont bother most people, so is a minor gripe, but I really enjoyed that extra and cant understand why it would be missed off other than the technology not being as good.
Muse - CD
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I can't think of any other band that sounds like a fusion of Chopin, Midge Ure, Depeche Mode and Queen - making Muse fairly unique I suppose, even though the majority of tracks remind you of someone else. If you got into Muse on the back of the rockier feel of "Black Holes...", then this may not be the album for you. But if you give it a chance, it is a classic of prog rock - very catchy and fun to sing along to. Good stuff.
Madden NFL 10
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This game would have been 5 stars if the rating was based on gameplay alone - it is by far the best gameplay of any Madden title on the 360 and allows unprecedented control over defensive matchups and substitution strategy - the greater disparity between first and second string players means that there is often a real temptation to put injured stars back into the game.
However, the EA machine rolls on and rather than put game logic and animations right first time, these will no doubt be addressed over the next two or three titles. So as well as poor commentary, we get crowds watching the wrong way, measurements when the runner was three yards past the marker (and annoyingly, possession retained even when the referees announce the player is short) and the usual graphical glitches or players running through each other or trying to make plays three yards out of bounds. One star lost.
The other crime commited here is that the online franchise so much promoted as the next big thing in online Madden, only appears to be available to UK gamers if they are prepared to pay (the US gamers get a free access code) along with all the other cheat codes that players can obtain with MS points. This is a trend that EA are pursuing aggressively this year (Tiger Woods for example only ships with four courses - the rest have to be purchased) and is bordering on exploitation. Another star lost.
Shame on EA for turning a classic into something that leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
No Line On The Horizon
U2 - CD
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Funnily enough the worst track on the album is the obvious single choice - Get On Your Boots. Most of the album is reminiscent of The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree period of the bands history, and as such is incredibly emotive. The elements all come together and you get the impression that the mix of the album is intended to be played very loud - that's when the rumbling bass lines come through and the album just rocks. This is not quite classic U2 - but it is as close as the new U2 could possibly get to it. Definitely recommended.
James Bond: Casino Royale - Deluxe Edition (2 Discs)
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If you play poker then you will know that the nuts is the hand that cannot be beat, which is a great way to describe this film. If you dont play poker, then the nuts may be a reference to one of the harder to watch scenes in this movie. And dont worry, there is a very annoying character who will give running commentary on the poker scenes for you.
I havent watched the bonus material yet so I cant say if the Deluxe Edition is any different to the standard version, but as it is the same price on Play it seems sensible to get the version that comes with more content - I may watch it one day.
The packaging is lovely - the feel of the box just helps this disc to stand out from the collection. It also hints at the superb quality of the material inside - the Blu Ray transfer is excellent, and I could watch the free running scenes al day.
This is one of the greatest Bond titles around. Highly recommended.
Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray Disc Player
This player is easy to set and looks good - the images that it produces are crystal clear (coping well with the dark scenes of films like Dark Knight) and the sound is excellent.
It works very well with standard disc formats and reinforces the fact that the slow load times are normally down to the Blu Ray disc rather than the players themselves. I spoke to someone at Sony, and they advised that load times are not likely to get much better in the foreseeable future.
I am not always great with new technology, but the set up screens are easy to use (although the interfaces are quite dull compared to my HD DVD player - which unfortunately is now back in the box due to the demise of the format). The network conectivity allows Java updates to keep the player current with latest disc releases and access to BD Live content.
The only downside for me was that Sony did not honour the "free disc" promotion, but from reading other peoples reviews that does not seem to be a common problem.
All in all, I would say that this is a great addition to my living room and I
Halo 3 (Classics)
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After the dreadful 2nd installment of Halo, I realy wanted to dislike this game. Initally, I was able to find fault with the title and focused on the re-run feel of the campaign. But now I have to admit that it has gotten under my skin - the campaign is great fun, especially when playing co-op (although load times for co-op campaigns can be a little slow). The multi-player maps are great fun and the game tries (and normally succeeds) to match you against opponents of a similar skill.
The graphics are great and the music is wonderful - a very engaging title that will easily burn hours of your day. Recommended (resentfully).
The Mummy 3: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor
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First the technical stuff - the Blu Ray transfer is actually quite good, with strong colours, great sound and it copes well with the action sequences. The problem is, what is being presented in such a stunning format is essentially pointless and rather dull.
The Mummy films have always been silly romps to give us an excuse to eat popcorn, but this one just feels so flat and listless. I don't know why Rachel Weiss did not return (maybe she bothered to read the script) but her replacement must have skipped acting class one too many times. She kills any emotion in every scene that she is involved with. The comic moments are embarrassing and everyone gives the impression that this was just about the pool renovations or that extra car in the driveway. The CGI for Jet Li's creatures are (with the exception of the dragon) rushed and of the quality of Scorpion King (although perhaps they were paying homage) - which is to say poor.
As for the extras, don't bother. The picture in picture commentary rarely has anything to do with what is actually happening in the movie and would have worked far better as a stand alone documentary. This is another example of how Blu Ray is yet to really live up to its potential and why HD-DVD was superior - why we didn't learn from Betamax I have no idea.
If you are a fan of the Mummy series and feel the need to include this in your collection, then a regular DVD would be a far better option.
Gears Of War 2 (Classics)
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To me, the first game felt like playing through a comic strip. This one felt like playing through a movie - everything is bigger, better and faster. The pace of the campaign mode is relentless - moving from one set piece to another. Played co-operatively it is some of the best fun I have had gaming in recent years. The graphics are fantastic and at times my co-op comrade was forced to fight the hordes alone as I stood and marvelled at the beauty of the vistas around us.
The only reservation I have is that (without putting in any spoilers) the last level of campaign mode is a bit anti-climatic and obviously sets up a third sequel. There are also times when the game feels like a third person version of Halo - some of the new Locust have a Flood-like quality to them. These are slight niggles and certainly not sufficient to prevent awarding a full score to this game. It is an essential part of your collection if you enjoy shooters.
The multiplayer is also an improvement on the first game - you can also get multiplayer action using bots which is great for me because I suck at multiplayer when other people are actually involved) However, probably one of the most fun additions is Hordes - fight your way through 50 waves of increasingly bad-ass Locust alone or with mates.