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Product Reviews

55 (76% helpful)

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  1.  Hands down the best genre film of 2012


    After a summer of generally mediocre and unremarkable blockbusters, it took a mid-budget, independent, comic book adaptation to generate any excitement.
    And what an exhilarating and exciting movie Dredd turned out to be-more than living up to its classic comic book source material, no mean feat in itself.
    Dredd (2012) gets everything right that the 1995 movie iteration of the character got so spectacularly wrong.
    Dredd is a refreshingly adult piece of filmmaking-brutal, dark and with a razor sharp vein of black humour running through it and is pretty much the opposite of what Hollywood churns out today.
    Dredd is old school filmmaking at its best and reminiscent of many of the classic 80's dystopian sci-fi movies of the past, such as Mad Max II and Escape From New York, and is really not to be missed by fans of such films.
    The performances are uniformly excellent. Karl Urban perfectly embodies the cold, almost machine like character of Judge Dredd and Urban is matched by his co-star, Olivia Thirlby, who gives a remarkably committed performance, as rookie Judge Anderson.
    Your protagonists are only as good as your antagonist. And luckily with Lena Headey, playing Ma-Ma, they have their equal as she depicts a brutally ruthless individual, that is also a strangely sympathetic one. Not an easy juggling act to pull off.
    The film is visually striking with an effective (read subtle) use of 3D that never overshadows what is effectively a high octane and sharply written character study from director Peter Travis and writer Alex Garland.
    If, like me, you miss the days when films weren't just an excuse for increasingly overblown and redundant uses of CGI and in service of an actor's ego, at the expense of a compelling narrative, then Dredd is the film for you and should be ordered without hesitation.

  2.  Maiden reach for the stars!


    This is an excellent album-arguably the bands best since Dickinson and Smith returned to the group.
    There's a real sense of experimentation to many of the songs, which have re-energised the band, exemplified on tracks such as 'Isle Of Avalon', in my opinion one of the greatest songs they've ever produced, with it's almost Zeppelinesque guitar break!
    Superb stuff!
    A UK tour next year please!

  3.  Close encounters of the Biohazard kind


    A sequel to the successful "on rails" shooter, Umbrella Chronicles, Capcom offers up some more gore drenched fun, set in the Resident Evil universe.
    I've followed the Resi games since their inception on the Playstation 1 and while not as revolutionary as the original game, Darkside Chronicles has a lot to offer survival horror fans, until Capcom pull their fingers out and produce an official Wii sequel to the brilliant Gamecube/Wii Resident Evil 4(not the utterly dissapointing 5 on 360/PS3 please).
    The Darkside Chronicles plot can only be described as convaluted, so making any sense of it is nigh on impossible-but it attemps to fill in some blanks between the action of Resident Evil 2, Code Veronica and bring things bang up to date and acts as a pseudo prequel to the recent Resident Evil 5.
    It a shame that recent Wii offerings have dispatched with the puzzle solving attributes of the earlier games, but there can be no denighing that there is emmence pleasure to be had in shooting the zombie hords and mastering those headshots.
    Graphically the game is very impressive-particularly in the games many cut-screens and the sprites are detailed and well animated.
    Boss battles are less successful-mainly due to the character's weak points being poorly highlighted.
    There are plenty of unlockables to discover, which should ensure repeat plays and improves the games addictive nature.
    Ultimately Darkside Chronicles is a three and a half stars rated game, which you can increase by half a star, if you are a major Resident Evil fan.

  4.  High Voltage thrills from Sega


    For a console who's main selling point has been it's Wii Remote controller, the Wii has been strangely poorly served when it comes to quality first person shooters.
    High Voltage software have attempted redress this imbalance with the slightly derivative, but otherwise very impressive, The Conduit.
    I'd had initially been put off this game, by some highly derisory reviews from various review sites. But it just goes to show that the critics don't always get it right.
    First the bad points:
    The storyline(such as it is)is your usual, run of the mill, alien invasion variety-with a bit of political conspiracy thrown in for good measure.
    So far, so not particularly original. This is the major criticism that can be levelled at the game, there's nothing in it that other gamers with other console systems haven't played before. On the Wii however, there are few simiar games of it's ilk, which makes it a welcome change from the shovelware and inferior ports that often plague it.
    Far more impressive are the excellent graphical touches-like lighting, water effects, above average enemy artificial intelligence and some impressive "ragdoll physics the programmers have managed to squeeze out of the Wii, making it a highly attractive game to look at, for the most part-some bland backdrops and levels, not withstanding.
    As hoped, the Wii-mote lends itself perfectly to the FPS genre and aiming and taking out the enemy is both intuitive and fun.
    Also directing the position of your grenade throw is made much easier with the flick of the nunchuck, than it ever would with a conventional D-Pad controller.
    You can also tweak the control system exstensively to fit your preferred gaming style.
    Overall, High Voltage software should be congratulated for creating an impressive debut game for the Wii and I hope their future games build on this success.
    While not a AAA product, due to a few glitches, this is none the less a AA product and if you can pick it up for 20 pounds or less you can consider it a bargain!
    Happy gaming.

  5.  Epic, philosophical masterpiece.


    Well the mighty BSG is finally at an end and what brilliant journey it has been. Not only arguably the finest Science Fiction television series of all time, but quite possibly one of the finest television series in any genre of all time.
    The series has had the occasional weak, or 'padding' episodes for sure, but the final 3 part Daybreak, must rank as a triumph, in a show that has had it's fair share of outstanding dramatic moments, it's also a fitting conclusion to an overall amazing televisual event.
    The acting, writing and special effects have been of a consistently high standard and all involved should be justifiably proud in their achievement.
    The legacy of BSG should be of daring to bring complex themes of philosophy and humanity to a genre usually poorly served by Cinema and particularly Television, who choose to concentrate on the futuristic spectacle of Science Fiction, at the expense of character and intelligent narrative.
    That not to say that BSG doesn't feature some high octane and adrenaline fuelled scenes of battle, it's just not preoccupied with it. It's more concerned with telling a compelling story of mankind struggle with the Cylons-and more profoundly, with itself.
    There's allegory for those who seek it and for those who don't, there's the emotional jorney the characters take throughout the series as a whole, with its satisfying pay-off by the final episode.
    For those who have never experienced BSG, it's wise to start with the pilot movie on DVD and work your way through the remaining five box sets, as the episodes follow a continuing arc.
    I'm sure, like myself, you'll be come entranced and utterly addicted to this startling drama.
    "So say we all!"
    Roll on Caprica!

  6.  Judged average


    Oh how the initiated rejoiced when it was announced that Britain's premier comic book character Judge Dredd was receiving the big budget Hollywood movie treatment in the early 90's.
    At last, we would see on screen what we'd only read about in The Galaxy's Greatest Comic, 2000ad and imagined in our fevered adolesent minds.
    This film would put Dredd on the world stage and claim back some of the thunder stolen by that impersonator Robocop and reveal to those American spandex clad wannabes how you really write a comic book character.

    Sadly, movie history will record no such claims.
    There are some things this movie gets right. Principally the impressive costumes, production values and a decent score. But there's a lot it gets wrong. Much of the humour is laboured and the satirical edge that punctuates the comic is almost entirely absent-replaced by some of the creakiest one liners commited to film-"I Knew You'd Say That", being the most obvious. What was wrong with keeping the future speak and Dirty Harryisms of the source?
    Also the character of Fergee serves to damage and undermine the movie even further. Ok the character was pretty dumb in the original comic(Ref:The Day The Law Died, Judge Dredd-The Complete Case Files) but he was never quite this annoying. His main purpose in the film appears to be to ridicule Dredd and question his methods of justice, as fans will tell this would of resulted in a face full of Lawgiver in the comic book.
    This is were the film really falls short. The character of Dredd(at least in his early days)is so single minded in his belief system and in his dedication to "The Law" that he follows it without question. Where as the movie version is given so many neurosis, you half expect Woody Allen to appear or Dr Ruth to pop up and ask him about his sexual problems.
    The movie makers seem to be unclear whether we should really be rooting for this fascist anti-hero or actively criticising his Judge, Jury And Executioner stance. But again, you never saw Harry Callahan in therapy-he just got on with cracking lawbreakers heads together.
    Once all the hard edge and social commentary of the comic has been mercilessly chipped away, the audience is left with a fairly generic action flick, with some impressive special effects and an impressive cast list, that includes the great Max Von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow and Diane Lane. Stallone make a fairly good attempt at the role, but is hammpered by a below par script and weak characterisation. Armand Assante's scene chewing is the right side of megalomanical and is one of the few characters to strike the right note.
    But look on the bright side, it's not as bad as Batman Forever and hopefully the new Dredd movie that was recently announced as being in the pipeline will redress the balance and present a Dredd film the fans can be proud of.

  7.  Contender for best band documentary ever.


    It's been an exceptional 12 months for heavy metal legends, Iron Maiden. Not only has there been the superlative 'Somewhere Back In Time' tour(which I was honoured enough to see them play at Twickenham Stadium last summer)there has also been the well deserved Brit Award and now this fine tour diary, stroke concert film 'Flight 666'.
    Watching this production-which I caught as a one day cinema screening, I demand any music fan, even non Maiden fans,to fail to be impressed with the sheer effort involved in putting on a world tour, such as this- In particular Bruce Dickinson's dual role as frontman and pilot of their tour plane, 'Ed Force One'.
    There is much to enjoy in this movie, not only the superb musicianship displayed by the band members, but the hard graft and good humour put in by the backstage crew(the lighting riggers, music technicians and manager Rod Smallwood ect) including the many scenes of the band relaxing inbetween gigs involving several rounds of golf and the often pleasing insights into the band members individual personalities, when interviewed by the documentary team.
    But it's not all high jinks and laughter. There's also a serious current running through the documentary style footage, particularly from the fans from some of the more underprivileged countries visited on the tour, paticularly in South America.
    Here it's fascinating to view the fanatical and almost religious fervour in which local fans support Iron Maiden. Some saving up months of wages, or according to one account, even leaving their job just to see their favourite band play.
    In one particular, highly moving scene, an emotional fan clutches a prized possession, that of one of Nicko Mcbrain's keenly won drum sticks, tears running down the man's face, overcome by the whole experience.
    To some of these individuals, living in still oppressive regimes, you sense that attending a rock concert is just as much a symbol of freedom of expression as it is the enjoyment and celebration of music.
    Bruce Dickinson sums it up nicely when he puts it that for all these years he thought Maiden was just about the music and know he's beginning to think that they are doing something genuinely important. Watching 'Iron Maiden: Flight 666' your left in no doubt that he's right!
    "Up the Irons" indeed!

  8.  He's blue with a bad attitude!


    What a welcome addition to the rather under-represented action/shooter genre on the Wii this title turned out to be.
    Being a huge 2000ad comic fan-those who haven't read it for a while, should pick up a copy,it's as good today as it's ever been- I was most dissapointed when this last generation title failed to materialise on the Gamecube.
    Thankfully, Reef entertainment, in association with Rebellion(the comic publishers) have seen fit to give the game a new lease of life and added motion controls on the Wii.
    For a budget release Rogue Trooper:TQZM features some impressive presentation, smooth, well rendered sprites and healthy challenging gameplay. Playing through the game also unlocks some nice extras, like art from the comic, the game and the option to veiw the cut screens at leisure.
    Using the nunchuck for grenade throwing and the remote for turning takes a while to get used to. But once mastered, taking on the might of the Nort army becomes second nature.
    The game also possesses an fair learning curve and a healthy sense of achievement on completing a mission.
    The enviroments are suitably atmospheric and evoke a strong resemblence to the comic book that inspired it.
    The overal package represents excellent value and for Wii owners who are starved of some third person, action adventuring this is a must have!
    Can we have a GTA style Mega-City based game next please Rebellion?

  9.  "You maniacs! You blew it up..........damn you all to hell."


    This must go down in history as one of the most pointless remakes in Hollywood history and lets face it, there's been a few.
    This woeful remake, reimagining-what ever you want to call it, gets very few things right, most notably being the total miscasting of Mark Walberg as an astronaught-he is utterly out of his depth and unconvincing and appears to have been given the role simply to attract the teenage demographic.
    Burton can't be blamed solely for this traversty of a movie, as he was mearly a Director for hire after several years of development hell and other Directors having passed on the project(most notably James Cameron).
    Blame must surely be directed at the writers of this shambolic mess of a movie, who should be held up as examples on how to murder a classic. The most obvious example being to take ever ounce of intelligence, social/political allegory and wit that was present in the original book and subsequent 60's movie adaption and reduce it to the substance of a particularly moronic action movie. The film makers even fail to come up with anything even remotely close to the final iconic image from the original.
    This is a film to avoid at all costs unless you are of a masochistic nature or you derive pleasure from watching a classic movie being mangled to death.
    Do yourself a favour and pick up the totally in a different league original and pretend this version never happened!
    It barely scrapes 1 star and that's just for the impressive make up and special effects.
    And lets face it, any movie where a Chimpanzee acts the human star of the screen, you know you're in trouble.

  10.  Leppard re-discover their claws.


    Or when Def Leppard remembered to play hard rock guitar again.
    A far better effort than their generally mediocre X album, that at the very least sounds like a rock album rather than a collection of Brian Adamsesque ballads. This is a partial return to form. It's not going to challange "High 'N' Dry" or "Pyromania" for pure balls out rock and roll, but those days are a long time ago and at least "From The Sparkle Lounge" has a fair stab at giving the listener an excuse to roll down the car windows and crank the old stereo up to 11.
    Highlights include "Go", with a nice heavy riff and some lovely soloing. "Cruise Control", with its controversial subject matter, the lovely Beatlesesque tinged "Only The Good Die Young" and the closest the album has to an old school style Leppard track, "Bad Actress", with its driving AC/DC riffage.
    There are some filler tracks to be sure, but Leppard fans old and new should find something to justify a purchase.