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Paul (2011) (2 Discs)
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Well..... I got dragged to see 'Paul' by a friend, and I wasn't really expecting much from it - had he not insisted on going to the cinema I wouldn't have bothered with it and seen it as a DVD rental - probably when half-drunk and not really paying attention.
This would have been a mistake and I would have missed out on a minor gem.
Honestly, I was more interested in my popcorn than the film when it started, and I had assumed that this would be a sell-out from Pegg and Frost to the 'bigbadHollywoodmachine.' However, from the outset I got the impression that I was watching essentially an Ealing comedy backed up by American dollars.
Which was nice.
The film loses none of the British charm exuded by the two main (i.e. non-CGI) characters, and is greatly enhanced by the voice skills of Seth Rogen, who makes an admirable stoner alien - think a Grey Alien version of The Dude and you're sort of there. I was hugely impressed that Rogen brought the same sense of comedic timing to the show as the two British leads, and he was backed up wonderfully by Jane Lynch, Kristen Wiig and Jason Bateman who all play the film 'straight' but with a knowing wink to the camera.
If we imagine this film as being basically ET crossed with Harold & Kumar then it wouldn't be too far wrong, and it was a hugely pleasant surprise - not perhaps the classic Pegg/Frost vehicle, but still a truly outstanding comedy for the geeky sci-fi generation in a time when comedy seems to be based on drunk-related-antics and not on actual acting and wordplay.
The best since Hot Fuzz and The 40-Year Old Virgin? My vote, I think, is yes.
Two thumbs up! (to plagiarize those two)
Total Recall - Special Edition
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As a longtime fan of Schwarzenegger movies (yes, even Junior), this genuinely stands out as probably the best of his career, alongside Terminator 2. Most have dismissed this film in the 20-odd years since it was made, however it is perhaps the most literate, intelligent and thought-provoking of his career to date.
Put another way, if this starred anyone other than an established action hero, it would probably be considered a minor sci-fi classic at least, and in fairness would make an excellent Keanu or Sam Rockwell vehicle if filmed again today (as the IMDB rumours are that it will be).
Schwarzenegger plays a bemused construction worker, lost in a hi-tech world he has confused memories of - is he a lowly construction worker on Earth or genuinely a spy working on Mars? Or, even more intriguingly, is he genuinely lobotomized by the memory procedure and all the events of the film are a product of his seizure?
Anyway, it is late at night, I'm slightly drunk and it is perhaps best to leave it and say that this is not the most famous film Arnold has ever starred in, but it was perhaps the most intelligent and multi-faceted. This was the most expensive film ever produced at the time (1990), but seems to have been sadly forgotten over the years - watch it! Watch it, and persuade others that it wasn't 'just' another Arnold bicep-fest!
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2 Discs)
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Simply summarised: this is the film, and the version of this film, that made me believe in Blu-Ray as a worthwhile format.
Blade Runner as it was meant to be watched, on a big, big HDTV with the lights out and friends who are likely to say "But aren't robots metal?" banished from the room. This version finally (finally!) vindicates Ridley Scott's vision of the film and should condemn the original theatrical release to history.
Three thumbs up!
Left 4 Dead (Left For Dead)
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First things first. I loved this game - fresh, inventive and with a bit of humour. Had this come out 5 years ago it might have been the biggest thing since Half-Life, and would have (passed water) all over the mediocrity that was Doom 3.
These mothers are fast. Wait, make that FAST. It's the game version of DoTD, and you thank your stars they didn't move like this in Dead Rising. The weapons feel suitably hefty, with a satisfying amount of gore on the good head- and limb-shots, whilst the reload times are pitched *exactly* right for maximum tension.
So far so good! And worthy of the BAFTA award.
But.... for my sins, I'm a 360 offliner and therefore not getting the most from this game. The AI of your associates, whilst not Resi-Evil bad, is still pretty lame - I've lost count of the number of times one or more of them has wandered backwards into a clutch of the zombies. Maybe my mates would be that stupid, but I doubt it (hopefully!) The bosses are also repetitive and unchallenging after a while - even the Tank is easily dealt with, given the right weapon selection.
The graphics are not spectacular but they are bright and clear (and fast! which is the priority), and it is usually possible to see what is going on around you - the use of lighting is especially good in the indoor bits. The sound is OK, however the main drawback seems to be the replayability especially for the solo player - whilst the game works, and works OK, the addition of more plot elements to each level and the usage of more items and explosives etc, would have added a great deal more to the game. Vehicles in the sequel perhaps?....
As an offliner this is a solid and fun 3.5/5 - as an onliner I'd imagine this is an absolute riot! :-)
The Simpsons Movie
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Curse play.com for not giving the option to give a no-star review. The biggest let-down of the year, and the biggest waste of money I've paid to see in years - including the Dungeons and Dragons movie.
I didn't laugh once and smiled only twice in an hour and a half. What baffled me more than anything was how the creators and cast could write such a poor, unfunny and unimaginative script devoid of any of the charm of the original episodes, and actually poorer than many of the more recent celeb-heavy episodes.
The only redeeming feature of this film on DVD is that it would certainly make a lovely coaster.
Coming in a summer when we've been treated to the likes of Transformers, Die Hard 4.0 and Spiderman 3 (yeah, yeah), the sheer lack of humour and charm in this took my breath away. Avoid like a plague victim.
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Blimey - it was nonsense then, nowadays it's nonsensical and dated!
For me this really stands out as Arnie's 'typecasting' film - a riotous mix of ridiculous violence, exotic locations and rubbish dialogue ("I like you - that's why I'm going to kill you last!"). The plot makes no real sense whatsoever, but who cares - it's Arnold! With guns! Vs a whole banana republic!
This is perhaps the most quotable of all his films; it's an explosion of colour, noise and biceps with none of the distractions of his earlier films (good actors and a plot in Terminator; James Earl Jones turning into a snake in Conan).
Watch with your mates and then act out the lines. Watch with your girlfriend and then try to convince her it's brilliant. Watch with beer and WWE on another telly at the same time to get the same effect but raised to the power of ten.
Commando is complete and utter rubbish - and I love it!
Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Player
5/5 for the player! Bought it for my girlfriend, who is a complete Luddite, and even she could set it up first time - well worth the money, excellent pic quality, bargain all round really!
please, please Play.com (yes, you!) - don't make an offer if your marketing bods can't fulfil it! I bought this when it came with the £15 voucher for a blu-ray - after a month of having to phone you I still hadn't been emailed this, meaning I had to buy the second part of her birthday present myself, without a voucher. Finally got another blu-ray, the cost of which was refunded me by play.com. Guys, please don't make these offers if your marketing boys aren't on the ball in sending out the email vouchers!
Blu-ray player itself 5/5Play.com service 3/5 (sadly, as it is usually excellent!)
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Weeellll... I'm not quite sure how to phrase what I want to say. Watchmen is probably the best example I've ever seen of a film in which reading the book beforehand is probably a good idea. The film itself fairly slavishly follows the book, apart from a few twists for cinematic effect; however that slavish following does not really recreate the nuances and implied emotions of the main characters.
I enjoyed this film, I genuinely, honestly did but had I not read (and loved) the book beforehand, I would probably have been left frustrated and disappointed.. Unfortunately I'm not convinced that the actors are really up to par and it feels as though much of the tension and the 'ticking countdown' in the book is missing. The film apes the visuals of the book without ever really matching its narrative and philosophical depths, something that led me to not really care about the characters as portrayed in the film.
I'd advise anyone to read the book first (or at least familiarise yourself with the basics of the plot), then judge the film based with that knowledge. Too many people, I think, have been left bored and frustrated by the labyrinthine and timely plot which, sadly, doesn't seem to translate too well to the big screen.
Is this a case of a work that might have been better portrayed as a mini-series? Or simply a film with a plot that is twenty years out of date?
'Let-down' is not the correct or accurate phrase; 'close-but-no-cigar' would be more apt.
Hot Fuzz (Single Disc)
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At the cinema I didn't much like this effort, and didn't find it particularly amusing. However since buying the DVD and watching it a number of times it has really grown on me, and like SoTD is a film that gets better the more you watch it.
Much like Max and Paddy, it is slightly disappointing when compared to the original comedy material, in this case SoTD, but still an enjoyable two-odd hours spent. Rent it before you buy
World War Z
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Un-put-downable. Read this in a day and a half, and it will be rumbling around my head for some time to come. A superb example of a blend between the alternate history and horror genres.