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The good news; this is a cracking good yarn from start to finish. The bad news is, that it`s been presented by Warner in the incorrect aspect ratio. Now, for the interested, that means you`re losing a third of the picture you paid to see - hardly value for money. Forget the " history " shown in this movie - it`s basically way off the mark of what really happened, but the story really cranks up the action into what it must have really been like in medieval warfare. It`s dirty, mean, gritty and plain nasty to see, as limbs, heads and bodies are split in two with relish. James Purefoy as the fictitious Knights Templar is a towering, brooding presence; a man struggling with his faith after a lifetime of murdering in God`s name. And Paul Gamiatti as Big Bad King John simply steals every scene he`s in, as he verbally chews his way through the movie like a human Great White Shark - he`s mad, bad and dangerous to know. John was not the pen pushing, puerile incompetent shown in this movie, nor were his barons whiter than white champions of freedom, but as was once said, " When the legend becomes fact, print the legend " never holds truer than here. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story has always been Hollywoood`s maxim. Ironclad lives up to that.... then some. It`s a wonderful riot of murderous, visceral bloody medieval mayhem that hits the deck running and never stops the blood pumping action. A shame about Warner messing up the aspect ratio though.... other than that, it`s a perfect action movie.
Final Cut (Remastered)
Pink Floyd - CD
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So, what does The Final Cut give us as a Pink Floyd album? Not much in my opinion. The input of Gilmour and Mason was minimal to say the least, and Richard Wright had left the group because he couldn`t stand to be in the same country as Waters, let alone the same band. It` s basically a Roger Waters solo effort, culled from rejected offcuts from The Wall sessions. Gilmour`s argument at the time was if they weren`t considered good enough then, why are they good enough now? It still holds true if we`re talking about this being a Floyd album. It`s very rough round the edges and is full of Waters trademark angst about life without a father, the war, politics and modern life, etc, etc,. By this stage, it shows that the band had disintegrated as a musical unit, because what small bits and pieces Gilmour and Mason had to record, were done seperately to avoid contact with Waters. The album suffers from being over blessed with words and devoid of any recognisable tunes; a fault of Waters which Gilmour had always done his best to address in the past by attempting to hang the tracks on a firm and accessible musical frame. Without Gilmour`s input, The Final Cut can be hard going if you`re looking for any archetypal Floyd musical flourishes..... they just ain`t there. However, this album has it`s advocates, despite it`s grim pretentions; but given it`s history, can The Final Cut really be described as a Pink Floyd album? You can just as easily argue that it`s a Roger Waters solo album, which has amongst it`s session musicians, a couple of Floyd members tinkering about here and there. David Gilmour has expressed his dislike of the album, and at the time, couldn`t see any justification for it`s release. Who is right, Gilmour or Waters? In the end you pays your money. Just don`t feel too disappointed if you bought this record expecting a Pink Floyd classic, only to find out that you had bought into Roger Waters psychiatric therapy sessions instead.
Cross Of Iron (Digitally Restored)
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Sam Peckinpah`s only war film Cross of Iron finally arrives on Blu-ray in near pristine condition. Filmed from the German point of view, it`s set during the Wehrmacht`s long and bloody retreat from Russia. There are massive battle scenes, but the main thrust of the movie is the tension between James Coburn`s Corporal Steiner and Maximilian Schell`s ambitious Capt Stransky; a man who not only covets the Iron Cross that Steiner wears, but also the respect & admiration he commands amongst his men. It`s a movie that shows that not all Germans who fought the war were Nazis, but did it because they were patriots. Shot on a budget that nearly bankrupted the producers, Cross of Iron dazzles with it`s realistic and bloody battle scenes, shot in Peckinpah`s trademark slowmotion technique. The whole cast, script and production values are outstanding, in a movie that only the great Peckinpah could have shot in such a brutal and blood splattered fashion. For me, this is the definitive war movie; typically shot by this maverick film maker from the German point of view, and showing them as men grimly fighting for their country`s survival, not as blood crazed anti semitic fanatics. It`s a masterpiece of war, and highly recommended.
The Fall Of The Roman Empire (2 Discs)
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This superior example of the genre, is the movie that Gladiator borrowed it`s storyline from, as it charts the murderous intrigues involving the Emperor Marcus Aurelius`s evil son Commodus, and his willingness to stop at nothing to take the Imperial throne. Unlike Gladiator, it`s largely historically accurate - the armour and costumes in particular are a history nerd`s wet dream. The script and acting are highly intelligent, and the action in a pre-CGI world is simply awesome. The Hi-Def transfer boasts a number of wonderfully atmospheric scenes, including the funeral of the Emperor in a raging snowstorm. High production values counter act the movie`s excessive length, in which the armies of Rome are seen engaging the barbarian hordes in the darkness of the German forests on the edge of empire. The later Gladiator, for all it`s many Oscars, only exists because it stood on the shoulders of this far superior earlier film. As well as a first class transfer, there are copious extras on the movie and the historical background it`s set in. This is a forgotten gem which needs to be dusted down and seen once again as just about the finest example of it`s type ever made.
Dark Side Of The Moon
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Released in March 1973 Dark Side remained in the U.S. Billboard charts longer than any other album in history - 741 weeks and with an estimated 45 million in sales. It may indeed be the greatest album ever recorded; exploring issues such as greed, ageing, war and mental illness (inspired by former band member Sid Barret`s descent into drug fuelled mania). It was one of the first concept albums to be released, and Storm Thorgeson`s cover prism design is, like the album itself, justly famous and iconic. If there is a piece of music out there that needs to be considered "important", then Dark Side of the Moon would sit at the top of the list. It`s a piece of music that is still cool, relevant, and as inventive as the day it was recorded. It`s a masterpiece.
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If you like your Sc--fi free of a decent narrative, explanation or script, then Skyline is the one for you. People wake up to find alien starships sucking up their neighbours and nearest and dearest like giant vacuum cleaners. The struggle for survival begins as our heroes duck and dive their way from one bloody encounter with the enemy to the other, using only their increasingly shredded wits and whatever comes to hand. Considering the microscopic budget the F/X is pretty good as is the picture, but the storyline is virtually non-existent. There are good moments of tension as the movie winds down to it`s inevitable conclusion, but the characters are never given enough time and space by the script to make you feel too concerned about the outcome. It`s a good movie to fill in time if you haven`t anything better to do. No story, decent action and F/X, plus a sharp picture. That`s it.
Robin Hood: Extended Director's Cut - Limited Edition Steelbook With Booklet (2010) (2 Discs)
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The Robin Hood legend falls down to earth with a squelchy thud with Ridley Scott`s grim & grimy reappraisal. Apart from the Lionheart`s death in the opening sequence - "It might be history Jim, but not as we know it". For an english longbowman to succeed in becomming a noble imposter he would need to speak perfect Norman/French, given that Crowe`s accent roams all over the British Isles this might be difficult. Of course it`s fantasy, because very little about this movie is historically correct apart from the costumes. The action scenes are thrilling & well done, but the movie sags whenever talking has to be done - the script is banal & not very engaging. Great historical figures are trundled into view occasionally, but for the most part appear as mere cyphers compared to Robin`s towering tactical genius. You can usually count on a Ridley Scott movie looking gorgeous at least, but this one looks dull & flat & for the most part without very much visual interest. While the sexual chemistry between Crowe & Blanchet shimmers, the film contains too many good scenes in search of a coherent storyline. If you know your history, you`re going to have to disengage Mr Brain for this one and take it all with a big pinch of salt......this is Hollywood history folks!
Predators: Triple Play Edition (2 Discs)
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Predators is a tired, uninspired rehash of the first two iconic movies. Whole scenes are lifted from the original showing a complete lack of imagination from a director who gives us leaden action without scares or tension and merely ticks off the boxes in sequence without trying anything new. The new "Uber" Predator looks as scary as one of Santa`s elves and just as easy to kill. The "classic" Predators had a code of honour despite their ferocity and could be admired because of this. The new "improved" model is a one dimentional thug driven by bloodlust. The Predator myth has been mangled into oblivion by this hamfisted attempt. The pin sharp picture and copious extras are more than this movie deserves. By putting an S in the title the makers no doubt wanted to ape Aliens.....I`ve got news, Aliens it ain`t.
The Crow: Collector's Edition
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The Crow is a superb film full of imagination, visual flare and style with a great rock soundtrack. Brandon Lee, while not the greatest actor, is wonderfully brooding as the unstoppable vigilante raised from the dead to avenge his murdered wife. However, the Blu-ray transfer isn`t a great improvement over the standard DVD and the extras are exactly the same, so you have to decide whether to upgrade for a small improvement in picture quality. In my opinion, it`s still a worthwhile investment for the money being asked for such a visually influential movie which still stands alone above it`s imitators.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - CD
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This is a blistering set of timeless classics from the Godfather of Grunge, as he, along with his sometime backing band Crazy Horse, rock their way through a double CD`s worth of colossal electric distortion and sonic grievous aural harm. It`s quite simply THE Grunge album that outgrunges everything out there...and then some. A masterpiece.