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The X-Files 2: I Want To Believe - Directors Cut
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Let me start off by saying that I am a huge X Files fan and followed the show from the very beginning, right through to the lacklustre 9th season. I loved the first film and was really looking forward to seeing this.
But the truth is I don't really know exactly how I feel about this film. On the one hand, it's great to see these characters back together, but on the other I did feel a little let down.
The main problem I had with this is that it's a standalone story that has nothing to do with the TV show. Great if you're a casual viewer because you don't really need to know what's going on. But it's because the film is a standalone story that I, as a long-time viewer, felt left out.
Let me explain: As I'm sure most of you will know, the series ended with Mulder & Scully running for their lives because Mulder was about to given the death sentence for "killing" a super-soldier that hadn't actually been killed.
If you are a casual viewer, you're not going to care. But as a long-time fan I would have liked to have seen more links to the TV show. Where was Doggett and Reyes? Were they still working at the FBI? If so, why didn't we see them? And why didn't we see more of Skinner? And what happened to FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh? The last we saw of him he was helping Mulder escape from prison. Was he still in charge of the FBI? All these characters are missing from this film, and you really notice it.
If there should be a 3rd film, I do hope we see more of the other characters, because after 9 years I'd like to see some pay off!
The Bluray itself is as average as the film. The audio commentary from Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz (available only on the D/C cut) is dull & boring and offers nothing new. Neither do the 3 short deleted scenes. There's various small documentaries, but the best of these is the 85-minute long behind-the-scenes documentary, which is broken down into 3 parts.
The 1st is the worst, as it mainly features Billy Connolly pulling stupid faces and telling stupid stories that he thinks are funny, but are actually just annoying. Parts 2 & 3 are much better.
The picture quality is pretty much flawless, but as most of the film takes place at night, it's not exactly demo material. The DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound is OK, but as the film is more talky then most, it won't give your surround sound the workout it deserves.
Overall, this is average stuff. The film is OK for a standalone story and should keep most (but not all) fans happy.
Film: 3/5Picture: 5/5Sound: 4/5Extras: 3/5Overall: 3/5
Futurama: Bender's Game
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I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm a fan of Futurama, but I do prefer this to The Simpsons.
I decided to get this before seeing the first 2 adventures, but the truth is, if I had known what they were going to be like I wouldn't have bothered.
I actually had to watch this three times because I was so bored I fell asleep watching this the first two times.
The story is a total mess, uninteresting and a bit confusing. The main problem here is that it doesn't know what it wants to be. First it's about Dungeons & Dragons, then it's about Lord Of The Rings and then it's about something else.
I can't really give a full review, because it's so dull I forgot it as soon as it finished!
The only good thing here is the HD presentation. Both the picture (in 1.78:1 widescreen) and 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio are good, but not exactly demo material.
The extras are appalling. Again, I can't go into detail because, like the main feature, I forgot most of it as soon as I watched them.
My advise: simply don't bother. Save yourself some money and wait for this to come on TV. Avoid this like you would avoid a gang of teenage hoodies hanging around an ATM machine at 3 o' clock on a Saturday morning. Truly awful in every way imaginable.
Film: 1/5Picture: 5/5Sound: 4/5Extras: 1/5Overall: 1/5
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2 Discs)
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I've kept an open mind when I finally got round to seeing this. There were a lot of people that went into this with rose-tinted glasses, expecting this to be like "the good ol' days!".
But even with my mind open, there's no getting away from the fact that this is rubbish. Entertaining rubbish, but still rubbish.
What we have here is a film where action set pieces seem more important than story and development. For two hours, the exact same thing happens - the good guys have the Crystal Skull, then there's a chase. Now the bad guys have the Crystal Skull. Then there's another chase and now the good guys have the Crystal Skull again. Then there's yet another chase, and yet again, the bad guys have the Crystal Skull. And so on, and so on, and so on.
The plot (such as it is) makes very little sense. It's full of so many plot holes that one wonders how this ever got past the writing stage. Most of the characters have next to nothing to do and seem to have no reason for being here.
Whilst it good to see Karen Allen back from "Raiders Of The Lost Ark", there's very little for her to do. Shia LaBeouf is good and watch able, but he doesn't need to be there. The film could easily survive without them. And the less said about the God-awful Ray Winston the better. The man has all the acting range of a soft boiled egg.
His performance here is so bad that even his Cockney accent sounds fake - and that's saying something!
There are really only two things this film has going for it - Harrison Ford and the excellent and very sexy Cate Blanchett. So sexy is this character (and indeed the actress playing her) that I wanted to see more of her than the other characters.
On the whole, this is a film for the MTV generation. Loads of special effects that will no doubt keep the teens with low concentration levels happy, and little else.
On the plus side, both the picture and sound are totally amazing and they are really the only reasons for getting this. It's so good, I was more interested in the stunning HD picture then in the film itself. Good for the HD transfer, bad for the film!
The Bluray disc itself is OK, but average. All the special features are presented in HD, but are a little on the lacklustre side.
The problem with so many special features now is that we've seen them all before and offer nothing new. If you like watching documentaries where members of the cast and crew pat each other on the back and tell us how wonderful it was working together, then you should be in your element here. All the "special" features here are the same as you get on countless other DVD's. Who doesn't know how special effect and CGI are done nowadays? It's just the same old stuff!
As an overall package, this is so-so stuff. Would I watch it again? Maybe. But I'm not going to hurry. My advise, wait until you see it in a sale. You'll thank me for it!
Film: 2/5Picture: 5/5Sound: 4/5Extras: 3/5Overall: 2.5/5
James Bond: Dr. No
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If there is any doubt about just how good the picture quality is in HD, then rest assured this meets all your expectations.
I'm not going to go on about the film, because most (if not all) already know the premise.
I'm happy to report that the HD transfer for this Blu-ray release is simply superb. Like the Ultimate Editions that were released just a short time ago, the picture is very clean and very crisp. The DTS-HD audio is so much better than the standard DVD edition and makes full use of all 5.1 speakers.
The extras (and even the menus) are exactly the same as the Ultimate Editions DVD's, though the 30-minute making off "Inside Dr. No" documentary does look as though it's in HD.
However, the booklet that came with the new DVD's are missing here, which is a shame because I always thought they were a nice touch and full of information.
Overall, there's no denying the HD picture & sound is a good improvement over the standard DVD, though not strictly demo material. If like me, you already bought the Special Edition DVD and then the Ultimate Edition, then you may want to hold off buying it for a third time. Wait for a BOGOF offer.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition (2 Discs)
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Now I've had the time to sit down and watch all three versions of what is a classic, I've noticted that the Directors Cut seems to be the best looking. There are minor scenes of grain, but overall, this is far, far better then the standard DVD.
Of the two sound formats - Dolby Digital and DTS-HD - I found the DTS-HD to be the best. Not that there's really that much of a noticable difference.
In terms of special features, there's isn't much to get excited about. All the special features from the standard DVD have been ported over. The only new special feature is a short 20-minute interview with Steven Spielberg, but that just tell you the same stuff that's in the original documentary.
Overall, if you this for the picture then you sould get this. Just don't go expecting much in the way of extras.
The Orphanage (aka El Orfanato)
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It's taken me a while to get to see this film. It's been on DVD for a while now and I didn't really make much of an effort to go and see it at the cinema.
I regret both - there's not more I can say about this film that hasn't already been said. All I can really say is that I wish I made more of an effort to see this at the cinema, because it's a true cinema experience.
Creating the sort of psychological horror that modern Hollywood films can only dream of, "The Orphanage" is an attack on both the senses and the nerves. This is the sort of film that the director of "The Sixth Sense" M. Night Shyamalan could only dream of. If it's down-and-out horror you want, with blood and guts all over the place, you're going to be somewhat disappointed. The horror in this film is all about what you hear but don't see - the power to let the viewers imagination do all the work. It's also nice to see a film where the clues are there, but you have to work it out as you go along, and not have it explained to you like some sort of child.
Performances from all are strong and very convincing - but the lead actress as the grieving mother really stands out. It's through her eyes we see the story unfold and it's her strong performance that keeps us hooked. I've honestly not seen such a strong female lead like this since Sigourney Weaver in "Alien".
The picture (presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic cinemascope) is fantastic, and although far better than the standard DVD release, it's not what you could call demo material. That's not to say the picture isn't amazing - because it is and there is a lot of detail to be had. The DTS-HD surround sound is a major character in the film, and boy, is it effective and it really jumps out at you - though Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is also available.
There are loads of extras here, including a 40-minute Q & A session with the director, a 12-minute making-of documentary that talks to all the major players in the film, and various others - all ranging from 2 minutes to 8 minutes long.
All in all, this is a fantastic film that plays on the senses and takes it's viewer on an emotional rollercoaster ride - thanks to the fine and strong performances from the main cast. And if you've not shed so much as a tear towards the end, then there's something very wrong with you.
Film: 10/10Picture: 9/10Sound: 10/10Extras: 7/10Overall: 10/10
Due South: Series 3 (7 Discs)
I've finally got through watching the third season, and noticed that this season is different in tone to the previous two seasons.
I remeber when this was shown on BBC1 on a Saturday afternoon just before Noel's House Party. The show proved so popular on BBC1 that they partly paid for the third season.
But don't go thinking that because it was shown on a Saturday afternoon that it's all family fun and cartoonish action. Alot of these 3rd season episodes were darker and more character driven then previous season, and the dramatic atmosphere makes this one of the best seasons of one of the best shows in recent years.
Episodes are spread over 7 discs, with picture in 4:3 and 2.0 surround sound.
The picture is amazing - clean and clear with no visable problems at all. The sound does differ ever-so-slightly from episode to episode, but that shouldn't be enough to put you off.
There are a few special features here that are exclusive to the UK relase - the best is the 60-minute documentary on the 7th disc which has interviews with the main cast and covers everything from the first season to the last, and seeing the cast again is great fun.
There's also an audio commentary on the last episode by Paul Gross, but I've yet to play it, though I'm expecting that to be equally as good.
Overall, a great season of a great show presented with alot of tender love and care, and is bound to be fun for fans old and new.
Due South: You may be gone, but you're certainly not forgotten. 10/10
The Bill: Volume 1 (2 Discs)
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Watching these old episodes again from the beginning was a total joy! I actually got a chill down my spine when I heard that theme tune and saw the opening title sequence we all know and love!
The episodes (13 in total spread over 2 discs) are classics and quite dramatic! This is when The Bill moved from the 9pm watershed once a week to the 8pm time slot twice a week. The eariler time slot doesn't mean the drama has been scaled back! Within the first few minutes of one episode we witness both Ted Roach and Frank Burnside actually punch two prisoners - a classic reminder of what made this show so great.
There are enough action episodes and character-driven episodes to keep everyone happy.
Those, like me, who hate what The Bill has become today will fondly remember these episodes from what was a great TV show.
The 2.0 surround sound does differ slightly from episode to episode, but that's of little importance because the picture quality is top-notch. For something as old as this the picture was very clean and clear. There's no picture damage whatsoever, which is great news.
If only Network DVD would pull their finger out and release more episodes of The Bill more quickly.......... In Austraila they're already way, way ahead of the UK market.
The people that make The Bill today should watch this and see what made this such a great show - they might actually learn a thing or two!
A fond trip down memory lane for the true Bill fan. Enjoy
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I watched Die Hard 2 before I watched this, but like Die Hard 2, both the picture and sound are top notch and is really worth the upgrade from the standard DVD for the picture and sound alone.
The only reason I haven't given this a 5-star review is because not all the extra features from the DVD have made it over to this Bluray release. There are two commentaries (none featuring Bruce Willis), trailers and photo gallary. That's it!
But fans should be happy enough with the picture and sound - for which both score 10/10.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
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For those of you wondering if this looks better in hi-def on Bluray, let me assure you that it does - a lot better. Not only does the DTS sound boom though any home cinema system, the picture quality is a vast improvement over the standard DVD.
There are minor spots of grain (which is to be expected for a film shot mainly at night), but there was no scratching or any other print problems. The picture is clean and clear and the colours really come into their own - reds are red and the blacks are black! This is pretty much flawless stuff. The picture's so sharp you can clearly see the wires of the model planes - which weren't in detail on the standard DVD. Overall this is an excellent improvement over the standard DVD and highly recommended.
Extras are the same as the standard DVD.