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All reviews - Movies (108) - TV Shows (28) - DVDs (14) - Books (35) - Music (49) - Games (24)

Spider-Man 2 review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 2 May 2010 05:47 (A review of Spider-Man 2)

All the background we covered in Spider-Man really comes in handy for the sequel, which surpasses the preceding movie in every way possible. The Peter-MJ romance which was the highlight of the previous movie is still a strong element. Doctor Octupus is a much more interesting villain and the rest of the characters, especially Aunt May have been given more interesting nuances. To round it off, Peter/Spider-Man's identity crisis makes for a very interesting plot device. This is truly a good superhero movie - action, plot and romance in equal measures and a superb villain to match our hero.


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A pity

Posted : 7 years, 2 months ago on 15 April 2010 02:21 (A review of The Hound of the Baskervilles)

Any adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes story forces winevitable comparisons with the versions filmed in the 1980s and 1990s with Jeremy Brett playing the Victorian detective. So I can't help but compare this latest adaptation of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' with the earlier movie.

On the positive side, I like Richard Roxburgh in the role of Holmes. Despite being Australian, he comes off very well in his role. Ian hart as Watson and Matt Day as Sir Henry do well in their roles as well. The good news mostly ends here, I'm afraid. The screenwriters take many liberties with the other characters and not with success. The character of Jack Stapleton is especially over the top while Dr Mortimer's character has been decimated.

Any adaptation of a well loved book that doesn't scrupulously stick to the story inevitably comes under scrutiny and so is the case here. The screenwriters make several changes to the narrative, the prime one being that the narrator is no longer Watson. This is not to the movies deterrent and brings a freshness to the story. However, the other changes aren't always successful. Despite being nearly a hundred minutes long, the movie misses out crucial details of the plot while inserting several new scenes and elements, especially in the last 30 mins or so. As I mentioned before, too many liberties were taken with the characters as well. For this reason, while I enjoyed the first hour of running, my opinion of it went rapidly downhill after that point.

I'm going to file this under "failed adaptations" which is a shame since Roxburgh made a good Holmes and the beginning had real promise. It just goes to show again that there are limits to how much you can tinker with a classic story.


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District B13 review

Posted : 7 years, 2 months ago on 4 April 2010 10:18 (A review of District B13)

Lots of slick action, zero story. Deserves B-movie status but unfortunately too much money was spent on it, so it looks too good for a B-movie. The writer and director should be commended for keeping it short so it's over before it gets on your nerves. The short duration also fits into the attention span of a male adolescent, the only category of movie goers who will actually enjoy this. The rest should stay away.


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3:10 to Yuma review

Posted : 7 years, 2 months ago on 29 March 2010 09:42 (A review of 3:10 to Yuma)

Superb Western thriller about a rancher who is transporting an outlaw to a train station. Things are complicated by the pursuing gang of outlaws out to rescue their leader, Apache Indians and the prisoner himself. The main focus of the movie is the dynamic between the rancher, played by Christian Bale, and the prisoner, played masterfully by Russell Crowe.

The rancher and the outlaw seem to have an understanding of each other that defies the differences in their backgrounds. Crowe essentially plays the 'Devil in a Suit', tormenting his jailers while still respecting the rancher's integrity. It's a fascinating relationship and I really liked watching it develop. When the 3:10 train to Yuma finally rolls into the station, the movie has thrown more than a few surprises your way.


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Star Trek review

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 22 March 2010 07:12 (A review of Star Trek)

Not a comment on the quality of the film itself, but the blu-ray disc is in an aspect ratio that higher than 16:9. So even on my HD plasma display, I had to endure black bars, which just sucks. I thought HD was supposed to make all this aspect ratio bullshit redundant.


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Death and the Maiden review

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 18 March 2010 12:19 (A review of Death and the Maiden)

Paulina is the wife of a prominent lawyer in an unnamed South American country. She is deeply scarred by her horrific torture at the hands of the authoritarian regime that has been recently overthrown. Her tormentor was never caught or punished. When her husband comes home with a man, a doctor, Paulina is sure that he is her torturer and rapist. But how can she be sure if her blindfold never came off during her captivity? What follows is a psychological game of cat and mouse before the truth is revealed.


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The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) review

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 18 March 2010 12:04 (A review of The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) )

The Camp Half Blood series comes to an end with this book. Percy Jackson is about to turn 16 and the full words of the great prophecy are revealed to him. Kronos launches his final attack on New York / Mount Olympus. While the gods are occupied fighting the monster Typhon in the mid-west, it's up to Percy Jackson and all his friends at Camp Half Blood to defend Manhattan from Kronos and his minions.

The book brings things to an end without falling into the trap of making things too simple. Rick Riordan might weave his story with battles and adventures but his heart, and consequently the heart of the book, is with themes of home and family. The motivation of all the half-blood heroes, on both sides, ultimately comes down to family as well.

Riordan takes a kitchen sink approach to his continued plundering of Greek mythology in the book. Unlike the previous two books, he doesn't quite have the cohesiveness or novelty here. Instead he pretty much throws in every hero and monster from the rest of the series into this book. I guess it was inevitable at some point, but it it still a wee bit disappointing considering his inventiveness thus far.

All in all, Rick Riordan does a great job over the course of the five books. He keeps things interesting all through. By the third book, he's mastered the art of twisting Greek mythology to the needs of his story. Finally, he closes it out with a sense of purpose in this book.


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40 review

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 17 March 2010 10:01 (A review of 40)

Eddie Izzard might be one the best stand up comedians on stage, but he usually plays dramatic roles on screen. He's part of the ensemble cast of actors in this British mini series about a group of high school classmates on the verge of their 40th birthdays. The focal point is a class reunion that is visited in every episode, as their intertwined stories unfold.

It's good drama but unfortunately the constant shifting of focus prevents a deeper look into their characters. The writers try and make up for that by introducing a number of shocking elements into the story, most of which work, but some of which are over the top. Both these shortcomings prevent this drama from attaining greatness but it still does enough to stand out.


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The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) review

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 17 March 2010 09:27 (A review of The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) )

Camp Half Blood, the only place Percy Jackson feels at home is threatened by the presence of a door to the Labyrinth of Crete within it's borders. Their enemies can use the labyrinth to bypass all the magical protections for the camp. Percy follows his friend Annabeth in a quest to find Daedalus, the creator of the labyrinth and safeguard the camp.

As with it's predecessor, The Titan's Curse, this book moves far away from the long shadow of Harry Potter and continues to find it's own identity and style. The author, Rick Riordan, continues to plumb the depths of Greek mythology for characters and locations (all of which have conveniently moved to the US of A, along with the centre of Western civilization), with good effect.

The story is nicely set up for the fifth and final book in the series, The Last Olympian, with Kronos finally back from the dead and the Olympian gods already at war. Can't wait.


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The Lord of the Rings review

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 12 March 2010 11:53 (A review of The Lord of the Rings)

Animated feature length movie directed by cult director Ralph Bakshi that covers the first two books of the LOTR trilogy, Fellowship and Two Towers. The studio, United Artists, refused to fund a sequel despite the film being a great financial success (it cost $3 million to produce and grossed over $30 million, approx. $100 million in today's money). They also reneged on a promise to release the movie as "LOTR: Part One" against the wishes of Bakshi. Studio execs were sleazeballs even back then.

The movie stays true to the books for the most part, even more so than Peter Jackson's movies. The movie feels rather condensed, both in scope and grandeur, from the books. It's probably not going to make much sense to people who haven't read the books (or seen Peter Jackson's movies) as the two hour running time doesn't leave time for introductions. Despite that, it's an enjoyable ride, especially for fans of the books. I would have dearly loved to see Bakshi make the sequel and complete the story.


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