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

An Education in Jazz

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 9 March 2010 02:30 (A review of An Education [Soundtrack])

The movie 'An Education' is set in the early 1960s. The accompanying soundtrack is filled with music that is from the 60s and newer artists that take inspiration from the 60s. It's largely jazz and blues, so if you're fan of either genre, this soundtrack should sound good to you. The music complemented the movie very well but the large majority of the album is very good just on it's own. Also, both the sets of artists sit so well against each other that it's impossible to tell that they're not from the same period. In fact, till I started looking at the set list, I had no clue that all the music wasn't form the 60s.


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Ugh

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 7 March 2010 11:19 (A review of Ronnie & Julie)

I am a sucker for Shakespeare adaptations but this one doesn't quite make the grade. Transplanting Romeo & Juliet to a modern high school makes some kind of sense since the original protagonists were teenagers as well. Their parents are not warring families, but opponents for the post of the city's mayor. Fine enough so far, this idea can actually work, like the sharp, witty and irreverent '10 Things I Hate About You'.

Unfortunately the mediocrity and the cheesiness of a typical high school romance drama overtake the story. Petty intrigues, shallow characters and cliches abound. The last ten minutes are especially painful due to a couple of ridiculous plot devices used by the writers that are so patently transparent that I felt insulted. Only an eight your old could be fooled by them, which is essentially what happens in the movie. Overall, this grand story of love is reduced to the level of a cheap television soap. I'd just stay away.


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We're not in summer camp anymore

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 22 February 2010 10:59 (A review of The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3))

Percy Jackson's best friend Annabeth has been kidnapped and with a little prodding from Aphrodite, he's beginning to realise his deeper feelings for her. Meanwhile, Artemis, goddess of the hunt has also been kidnapped and then forced into a burdensome situation, pun intended. The hunters and the inhabitants of Camp Half Blood join forces and to rescue them both.

Finally, Rick Riordan breaks free of the J K Rowling comparisons with this book and the series acquires an unique identity of it's own. Lots more characters of Greek Mythology pop up on the way, adding to the great number we've already encountered in the first two books. In this third book, Rick Riordan is getting increasingly deft in using them for plot material as well as building up their characters. Combine that with the fast paced story and this book is a very enjoyable read.


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More adventures at magical summer camp

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 22 February 2010 03:10 (A review of The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2))

The further adventures of Percy Jackson as he finds a new friend and tries to rescue an old one. The comparisons to Harry Potter refuse to die down. It's almost like the plot of this series is Harry Potter going to magical summer camp after school ends instead of his Aunt and Uncle. Still, it's a good ride and numerous characters from Greek mythology pop up to keep things interesting. Of course, the bigger story is starting to take shape, one involving a vanquished foe, a young hero and a prophecy. Sound familiar?


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It's a magical summer camp, not a magical school

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 21 February 2010 03:24 (A review of The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) )

It doesn't exactly rip off J K Rowling, but it's clearly inspired by it. Percy Jackson is a 12 year old boy who has been in trouble his whole life. One fine day, it is revealed that he's actually a demigod, son of a Greek god and a human woman, and he's already in trouble. Time to step up and be hero... or something like that. Of course, he has two other friends - one boy and one girl, to help him on his quest. Hmm, I sense the author came close to be being sued by Rowling.

The author, Rick Riordan, makes clever use of Greek mythology all through the book, weaving in the characters almost every other chapter. This ploy is also what differentiates the book from the Harry Potter series. It's not so much about magic as it is about adventure and combat. Of course, adventure and combat (and other assorted violence), especially with real weapons, would seem incongruous with a 12 year old protagonist, but that's a flaw I'm willing to overlook.


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What's with the camera??

Posted : 8 years, 3 months ago on 23 August 2009 05:28 (A review of District 9)

Sci-fi at it's best this year. Takes the typical alien invasion movie that we've seen umpteenth times and puts it's own unique take on it. What prevents the movie from really soaring is the unfortunate decision of the director to shoot in a faux documentary style throughout. The grand scale of cinema is one of the things that differentiates it from television and the camera confines the movie and robs it of drama and grandeur. For large swathes of the movie, I felt like I was watching a made for television movie. Still, it's originality makes up for a lot of it's shortcomings.


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Gavin & Stacey review

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 25 July 2009 09:54 (A review of Gavin & Stacey)

This is a bizarre show. The first series is a funny romantic comedy that is great to watch. The second series morphs into a bizarre drama about a marriage in trouble combined with an uncomfortable situation regarding a pregnancy. It makes absolutely no sense to me how the writers took such a drastic turn, maybe they just lost their touch. While the humour flowed naturally in the first series, their attempts at it in the second series come off as extremely forced and unfunny. They also leave the show on a cliffhanger of sorts but I don't have any desire to watch the promised third series.

Update: I was a little surprised but The third and final series came through late last year and I'm glad to report that it found some of the funny again. It still doesn't excuse the disastrous second series but at least they closed out the show on the upswing and resolved all the story lines.


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Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge review

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 25 July 2009 09:42 (A review of Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge)

Alan Partridge is your run-of-the-mill chat show host. He is self-obsessed, self-promoting and just plain selfish at times. What sets him apart is his brilliant sense of humour that lights up every show and the music of Abba, of course. His guests seem like pale shadows of themselves when face to face with his brilliance. He is also very innovative in coming up with ways to vary the show each time. It's a shame that the show did not get an extended run.

(If anyone doesn't quite get that review, they should watch the series, it's hilarious.)


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Star Trek: The Motion Picture review

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 June 2009 09:29 (A review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

In many ways, this movie is the forgotten step-child of the Trek movies. It does not get a lot of credit for being as good as it was. Most Trek fans prefer the sequel, The Wrath of Khan, and give this an unfavourable comparison. On it's own merits, it's a very good, if not exactly great, sci-fi movie, made in the grandest traditions of sci-fi.

We already knew the characters very well, so there's not much need to go into character development. Still, a considerable amount of time is spent in the re-introductions before we get into the main plot. The story is familiar, a strange alien force, destroying everything that clashes against it, headed towards Earth. The Enterprise is to go and intercept the alien and to try and stop it.

Before we get to the climax, we go through a lot of philosophical questioning about the meaning of life, the value of emotions and other human frailties. There is very little action in the movie, I can't seem to recall even a single phazer being fired.The writers weren't looking to make a space adventure, they were looking to make a space opera, the next 2001: A Space Odyssey. Just for that, I give this movie and it's makers a lot of credit. The musical score is also fantastic, giving us a great atmosphere.

It's not roses all the way though. The movie plods along too much in the second half. The special effects are also dated but don't really detract from the story. Saving time from all the re-introductions in the beginning and better pacing in the second half, and focusing on the 'alien' a little more would have made this a better movie.

In the end, I admire the grand scale on which this movie was conceived, even if the execution did leave something lacking.


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The Girlfriend Experience review

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 13 June 2009 08:25 (A review of The Girlfriend Experience)

A faux documentary shot almost completely in a soul-less manner, it still manages to retain a certain rawness that makes it compelling, at least in parts. I'm not sure what Steven Soderbergh was aiming for here, I don't think he does either. Ultimately, it feels like an excuse to put Sasha Grey on the big screen to see what could come of it, and that, it does succeed at.


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