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The Punisher: War Zone
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Sorry to disagree with the other guys below, but this movie was truly rubbish.
I'm a fan of action movies (such as last year's awesome Rambo return, back to classics like Predator, Last Boy Scout and Die Hard, and cheesy stuff like Commando and Cobra) so this review has nothing to do with me not being the right target audience - it was just REALLY bad.
I loved Ray Stevenson in Rome, and Dominic West will always be a hero due to the Wire, but both are criminally poor in this movie. While the comments about lots of gore and violence are accurate, it's not particularly well-done or groundbreaking (unlike say, Stallone's update of Rambo.)
All-in-all, this is superior to the efforts before it, although it only just beats Dolph's version from way back when...
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Having looked forward to watching this, I have to confess to being quite disappointed. A strong build-up, with a nice line in dark humour, make the first 30 minutes or so quite involving, and the film has a nice line in creating a creepy sense of foreboding.
Then things get all "Poltergeist"-esque, and the movie moves from one effects-laden set-piece to the next. Despite featuring some still creepy sequences, the tension seems to run out of the movie before we're even at the last act. And then it can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a ghost story, a psychological thriller or an analysis of grief and mental illness (seriously!)
After such a strong start, I was left disappointed and deflated when it ended.
As a point of reference, horror movies I like include: The Exorcist, The Thing, Poltergeist. The Shining, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem's Lot.
Hitman: Extreme Edition (2007)
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This is really nothing special - I watched it this past weekend and thought it was mildly diverting, but it's by no means a five star movie.
Olyphant is ok in the role of the Hitman, and Kurylenko is certainly hot to look at, but the plot is utter nonsense! The action is done competently enough, but this has no wit, spark of intelligence or fantastic set-pieces to mark it as anything other than totally average.
It would probably get three stars from me normally, but I felt I had to deduct one to compensate for all these ludicrous five star ratings...
Encore Classic Charger With 4 x AA 2700 mAh Rechargeable Batteries
I bought these for use in Nintendo Wii remotes - and frankly they were one of the best purchases I've made from Play.
A thorough charge - and as previous reviewers have noted, they do need 27 hours - provides enough juice to keep these things going for weeks. I'm not a hardcore gamer, but even through sporadic use they fit the bill, with hardly any loss of charge through not being used, unlike some other batteries I've had.
These are first rate batteries, and for £8 including the charger they are an absolute must.
Action Replay for Nintendo DS
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I just thought I'd say that the AR we bought works perfectly on our laptop which has Vista as the operating system.
The software manager CD is very simple to operate - pretty much installs itself - and as far as adding new codes is concerned, my 10-year-old is happy typing in codes he's found online for games such as Animal Crossing and Pokemon Pearl/Diamond.
This piece of kit has done exactly what was expected from it for us, and he's very happy with it!
The Hard Way (Jack Reacher 10)
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I bought this on spec and was hugely surprised - this was my introduction to the character of Jack Reacher, and what a thoroughly entertaining read it was.
Hard-boiled dialogue, a charismatic central character and a story which managed to throw up some explosive set-pieces, despite being a quite straightforward "missing person" thriller.
The characterisation of ex-military personnel is first-rate and believable, but the actions of all concerned seem very natural and not forced.
A nice streak of dark humour runs through the dialogue too - this was a terrific read, and led me to read the rest of the Reacher novels. I would definitely recommend it.
The Enemy (Jack Reacher 8)
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For fans of Jack Reacher this takes us back to his army days, and is a hugely enjoyable thriller.
The story centres on a 29-year-old Reacher's determination to solve a case (or cases) which his superiors would rather just disappeared, and it's interesting to see the character within the confines of his regimented life.
The usual short burts of violence intercut the detective story arc, and I found this to be one of the most exciting of the Reacher novels.
A fabulous read, and very highly recommeneded to fans of detective thrillers.
Echo Burning (Jack Reacher 5)
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Like the other reviewers, I have found this to be the weakest so far of the Jack Reacher thrillers. Taking that into account though, I don't think it should be dismissed outright.
The structure is almost like a classic western - stranger enters a dustbowl town, helps damsel in distress, rights a few wrongs then leaves - and I think it is this familiarity which causes most of the "seen it before" type comments below.
But this is still a Lee Child thriller, and despite a very (VERY) slow start - in fact, I would say at least 2/3 of the book are behind us before it really hits its top gear - the run-in is as thrilling and exciting as you would expect.
Worth a read, but not as a first Jack Reacher novel - try Killing Floor first.
I was introduced to Jack Reacher in The Hard Way, and enjoyed it so much I thought I'd see where it all began. Killing Floor is a great introduction to the character of Reacher, and is a very efficient and exciting story.
While the ex-policeman turned investigator is not exactly an original concept, the twist of Reacher being an ex-military policeman affords the author a broader canvas to discuss military issues, training and politics, and of course gives him free rein to unleash some viscerally violent set-pieces utilising Reacher's particular skill set.
A thoroughly enjoyable page-turner, I would heartily recommend this to any fan of thrillers.
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No-one's mentioned that this is in effect a very grown-up and twisted re-telling of red riding hood, with witherspoon's character being terrorised by the wolf (sutherland's serial killer) while on her way to grandma's.
It is a genius spin on the tale, and if you have an open mind and twisted sense of humour, this movie is a riot. It makes me forgive reese witherspoon for the tripey rom-coms she insists on making.