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Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon
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It's the best of the series so far, yet Transformers 3 lacks direction and doesn't quite know what it is. Romantic comedy? Action? Sci-fi? Conspiracy thriller? It tries to be all of these and succeeds in some areas more than others.
Failed comedy aside, the Sci-fi / alien invasion epic stuff is a joy to behold with military humans and Autobots working together against the evil Decepticon armies descending upon Chicago. It all feels very silly and is hard to take seriously but nonetheless it is very watchable. The vocal appearance of Leonard Nimoy was an unexpected surprise and made me smile.
There were a couple of unwarranted F-words which seemed out of place in a Transformers movie. But then so did the romantic comedy scenes. But the imperfections can be forgiven because the flaws of the previous 2 have been largely ironed out (especially the eye-burning fast battle scenes where you can't tell what's going on). For all of this, Transformers 3 is a very likable movie.
SBTRKT - CD
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Occasionally I like to buy random music by people I've not heard before, as I like to be surprised and enlightened by new sounds. SBTRKT (great name by the way!) filled this requirement perfectly.
On first listen it's hard to know what to make of this... First ten minutes are confusing for a newbie - what is this? house, dnb, or soul? experimental dance music or obscure r'n'b?
The answer is a fantastic hybrid of many styles, driven most heavily perhaps by a cocktail of styles based on dubstep and minimal progressive house.
This album wraps its arms around you and makes you let go of preconceptions or labels and you find yourself enjoying it regardless of your tastes or the predefined musical genres of our time.
With such catchy tunes as the bouncy 'Pharoahs' and the drum and bass subtlety of 'Right Thing To Do', there is evidence of a melodic master at work here.
I'm totally sold on SBTRKT as a concept - a masked musical loner doing his own thing, disregarding all preconceptions and genres, yet giving us carefully crafted and tightly produced music.
His featured vocalists are great - although his main co-star (Samprah?) has a smooth half-rapping, half-singing cockerny-ish voice which might grate for some. My advice would be, give it a chance. SBTRKT and his vocalist have a genuine heart which comes through in the music. These are enjoyable, harmonious sounds that will appeal to music fans of all walks of life, including clubbers, drivers and bedroom listeners alike.
I guarantee at least some of the tunes on this CD will stick in your head for a long time... in a good way.
Supernatural: Season 5 Box Set (6 Discs)
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In many ways this is one of the best seasons so far, but in other ways it disappoints. Season 5 starts off with a very downbeat tone, and feels very serious and dark compared to previous seasons. It's as if the fun has gone out of it. It takes a few episodes to pick up again, but feels good when it does. There are some very good episodes in here, some "game changers" in fact. Some long-forgotten characters return, albeit briefly, and new enemies come to the fore, not least Lucifer himself. Lucifer, for me, was a bit of a let down. I mean, come on, it's Lucifer, the Devil himself. He deserved a grand reveal with forked tail, horns, the lot. Instead we get the usual "possessed human body" cop-out. I would have thought Lucifer would have got a better visual treatment. Second let-down is the big grand finale, which is meant to be the final battle of Armageddon as the Apocalypse begins. This amounts to little more than a punch-up in the end - although the conflict brings some great drama and shock as it unfolds. Final disappointment is the cover art - which depicts a scene that never appears in the series. All that said, I did enjoy it because I am hooked on Supernatural, and I will definitely get the next series.
Troll Hunter (With Lenticular Sleeve)
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The visuals of Troll Hunter are probably its best point. Not only the trolls themselves (which vary) but the lovely rain-soaked Norwegian landscapes and the overall setting of the piece. It is a shame the whole thing was filmed on camcorder as the scenery would have been wonderful in proper HD.
Actually what I hated most about this movie was the whole "found footage" gimmick which is simply not wanted any more in any film. It has been done too often by too many other movies, and everyone knows it's just a way to slash the production costs. The game is up, film makers. Now stop doing it!
The Norwegian subtitles didn't bother me that much. The English dubbing was terrible - tried it for about 2 minutes and the subbed version was far better.
The whole experience was a somewhat sedate, relaxing one, rather than a terror filled thrill ride.
The found footage angle was duff, but Troll Hunter remains a very original film in spite of this. Buy it if you want something relaxing and different to watch, but don't expect a thrill-a-minute monster movie.
The Good Guy
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I cannot understand all the good reviews, sorry.
I'm a huge Koontz fan and have read many of his books. However with this one I was left thinking, "Is that it?". The plot is wafer-thin, and devoid of twists or turns. Very linear, it's basically a chase story with a psychopath hunting a woman and a hero trying to protect her.
It all feels a bit pointless and unoriginal. There is nothing unique here and it's all a tad predictable.
The Good Guy feels like Koontz by-the-numbers - just reeling off his usual thing without any attempt to be different. And he will persist in force-feeding readers his dog obsession through his narrative, dwelling far too much on a canine character who was utterly irrelevant to the story (is it even possible for him to write a story without a dog in it?)
Then we have the obligatory psychopathic bad guy, (best aspect of the book, but so similar to baddies in his other books), and the forced comedy in the dialog between main characters. All very samey if you've read more than a couple of Koontz tales.
I've always thought the best thing about Dean Koontz was his wild imagination and originality. This effort however lacks either of those things. He can do so much better. I can only assume his agent instructed him to write something formulaeic and Hollywood-friendly so that movie rights could be more likely to be offered.
Final Destination 5
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I wish the writers of the FD series would at least attempt to progress the story arc just a little bit. Why not explain the "visions" of the opening scenes for example. Why not give some more depth to the mythology. Instead we get re-hash after re-hash of the same film with different deaths. Nothing is ever explained or expanded upon.
I would admit there are some excellent scenes in FD 5, but the overall story is frustratingly weak, and takes us no further forward in the series.
I mean come on, 5 films, each exactly the same. Something different would have been nice, just for once. This being the supposedly last one, they should have given us some sort of resolution.
Skyline (With Lenticular Sleeve)
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Skyline actually has the makings of a good, solid, entertaining alien invasion movie. The creatures are shown in their full glory in broad daylight from a very early stage, which is a welcome relief from those movies where you get only brief glimpses of the aliens throughout. And wow these aliens are monstrous in every respect.
The image of thousands of people being 'abducted' en mass from the streets is really powerful especially when you hear the people screaming as they are pulled upward.
Yes there are some great scenes.
But what lets Skyline down is the writing. There is no explanation or resolution in the story. Not even a hint at where these aliens come from (or even if they are definitely aliens?) or what they want, or why they are invading. The storyline also feels very narrowly focussed on a bunch of somewhat unlikeable people and has no sense of global catastrophe about it, which seems wrong.
The most annoying thing though is the ending. Just when it starts to get really, really good, it just... stops. Very abrubtly. It leaves you feeling somewhat conned, because it was just starting to get somewhere. It felt as if we were about to get some final outcome to the story and some answers, but then... No. Just no.
I enjoyed it anyway but the ending is ridiculously inconclusive.
X-Men: First Class
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X-Men First Class is a very good movie in its own right. But it fails badly in terms of continuity with the other films in the series. Here, many characters meet up for the first time, but in X-Men 1, 2 and 3 they are treated as if they had never met before. In particular the friendship between Mistique and Professor X is annoying in this regard because it's so significant to the story but was never even mentioned in the other films.
Also we see how Professor X became crippled as a young man, yet in X-men 3 we see him walking as a middle aged man.
Despite these niggles, I did enjoy this film a lot, and the acting is superb. But it suffers the inherant problem of prequels: You already know how it ends.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
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Skyrim itself is great, in terms of content there is so much to explore and the landscape of the game is fantastic.
Skyrim's PC treatment however, is poor. It looks and feels like a console port. The menu system is clearly aimed at console users, and the graphics simply do not tap into the power of modern PC graphics cards at all. My first play of Skyrim felt like I was playing something from 5 years ago. I had to tweek the graphics options a lot before I got anything half decent out of it.
I still play Oblivion now and then, and the graphics and interface seem a lot better than Skyrim in places! This can only be explained by the fact Oblivion was designed for PC, whereas Skyrim is aimed at console kids.
So yes I do think that PC users get a raw deal here. You expect better graphics than XBox 360 users get, if you have a PC with a top of the range graphics card with DX11 support. I have PC games from 1 or 2 years ago which have far better graphics than this!
Some better usage of the PC keyboard would have been nice too, instead of having to scroll through menus here there and everywhere. Keyboard shortcuts anyone?
These flaws aside, Skyrim is worth getting. But in so many ways, as a PC game, Oblivion was better!
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The best parts of Thor are those set in his homeworld. The fight scenes are good and the enemy Frost Giants are great baddies, if a little cliche. I did not think much of the earth-based characters who got drawn into his adventure - they just fell a bit flat for me. Despite being a superhero, Thor wasn't very likable for most of this movie. The "fish out of water" scenes of Thor trapped on Earth were pretty much by the numbers, and a tad predictable. I think they also messed with the comic book mythology a bit - no Donald Blake in this movie - instead we get a rather feeble love interest whose name I can't even remember.
Yeah Thor was an OK movie. Felt very similar to Green Lantern in places, but not quite as good.