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Universal Soldier – Regeneration

Universal Soldier was a minor hit for JVCD back when the muscles from Brussels was the hottest action hero around, with his kicks and ballet like movements. He has dwindled in popularity whilst Arnie has gone onto bigger things, but after the recent JCVD movie, Jean Claude shows he has serious acting chops and has kept in shape. This is the 5th iteration of the UniSol series, and despite the age of the main protagonists, the show is a real serious slugfest (literally) and proves JVCD can still throw a few punches and draw in the crowds.

Dolph Lungren is also in good shape and mixes it up with the younger crowd just as well, whilst Andrei Arlovski is a UFC fight champion and Mike Pyle is another pugilist, so there is plenty of action but what impresses is the solid bass, which rivals the best from Die Hard 4, and other recent productions. The surround matches the scenes, and the lack of dialogues suits the tension of the movie, and reminds me of the first Terminator movie, where the actors let their kicks do the talking.

When the explosions go off, there is a real thump in the chest, and there are plenty of scenes which are demo worthy. There is a 25-30min sequence near the end which is one long take of action, not bad for some old chaps.

The plot isn’t much to shout about, but there is enough to keep even the casual fan interested, and for the UniSol fan, this is a fine final installment (maybe?) to the series.

Plot: 3/5

Action 4.5/5

Forget the chick factor here.

Should you buy it, well again it depends on whether you are a UniSol fan, and even if you are not, this is worth more than a rental. Welcome back JVCD. Kind of like Grumpy old men kicking ass...

Edited by petetherock

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The Gulf War seems to be a constant hunting ground for material to make movies. This was a movie done in between the older ones like Courage Under Fire, Black Hawk Down and more recent ones like Hurt Locker, and it was meant to shift the focus away from the bravado, to the people in the war, focussing more on the psyche, the angst and the personal mental trauma.

It comes with a stellar cast and director, so you would probably bank on it to succeed and win a few Oscars with the emotion driven, close-up look at a bunch of young men thrown into boot camp, then thrust into battle only to emerge empty handed, in mind, body and without a kill to their sorry names.

Yet the show rings as empty as the war itself, the actors almost sleepwalking through their roles, seemingly just turning up to take their paychecks and enjoy a break from their other movie making commitments. Perhaps they were trying too hard to empty themselves and in the process, took all their emotions and also left it in their trailers before emerging onto the set.

There is a gloom to the whole movie but you get a feel of needing to ponder about it. 3/5 for the plot

There is also little action and much less surround effects, despite the many opportunities to make use of the war driven movie. The colors are also as drained as the empty shells of the actors, although this could be a deliberate ploy by the filmmakers.

Forget any chick factor too.

I would say this could be a rental for a really really boring Sunday night, but you will need to be pretty desperate to want to watch this.

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Clash of the Titans in 3D – movie review

3D movies are now coming out fast and furious and you know you are in for a nasty time when the most three-dimensional thing is the subtitles.

The plot has not changed much and follows much of the older movie, with 3D added post production presumably to cash in on this new craze. Well lets just say that the 3D effect is flatter than an airport runway, and instead, you get this faint halo effect or grainy enlargement of the character. The picture quality is also poor, were they trying to convince us this was an 80s production? The CGI was sporadic, with the scorpion scene nicely done, whilst Medusa looked worse than the Scorpion King animation which is almost 8 years old now.

Sam Worthington tries almost single-handedly to rescue this movie and the people who hired him got their money’s worth from him. He grimaces, growls and slashes his way through the movie pulling the others along and almost makes the movie watchable. There are a few laughs and some decent action scenes, but for a 2010 movie, the bass and sound was surprisingly flat (pun intended). The surrounds were also not used much, and you wonder if this was a direct to video production. In fact the first 30 minutes resembled a B grade movie and Sam W looked like he was hopping back and forth from Avatar, especially since he basically had the same hairdo and all he had to do was retain his Aussie accent here, and swop over to a Marine’s grunt in Avatar.

The director also seems to be lacking ideas, borrowing the big scorpions from Michael Bay’s Transformers I, the Kraken looked pretty similar to an Alien, and the lady tied to be sacrificed had her set borrowed right out of King Kong. With a 2 dimensional storyline, indifferent special effects and a decidedly poor implementation of 3D, this movie looks to be a rental at best, and if you plan on seeing this in the cinema, just go 2D, and you will feel less cheated.

Avatar was the epitome of 3D for the year, and efforts like this leave such a bad aftertaste that the skeptics will feel subsequent productions are merely cashing in on the phenomenon and don’t really use 3D to add much to the plot.

Action 3/5 Plot 2.5/5

Chick factor – well Gemma Atherton was a hottie and looks better here than in James Bond if you asked me, and I wished she has a meatier role, rather than imitating an “Etheral” from Riddick. And whoever played Medusa was a fine looked inspite of her dreadlocks. 3.5/5

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The recent brace of 3D movies has allowed the ugly head of GREED to rear its head, in a way which is more menacing than the hissing snakey head of Medusa.

Alice and Titans are clear examples of movies made in 2D, but due to greed from the studios has had post-production manipulation to squeeze some 3D out of a flat film and charge the paying public more.

Unlike Avatar or even Up, these films are not natively created in 3D and it shows with lacklustre depth and poor picture quality. If this is the future of subsequent 3D productions, the uptake of 3D flatscreen TVs, HDMI 1.4 players etc will be much lower and effectively show up the obvious, that 3D is a gimmick which is meant to enrich the coffers of the producers.

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Terminator II

This is one movie which defined all action movies in its decade and its legacy still lives on with 2 sequels after. It was the movie which define its main actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, sealing his reputation as The Action Star of the 90s. its CGI was Oscar winning and cutting edge and even today it still feels fresh. The marriage of good action enhanced rather than defined by mere CGI, plus an engaging storyline and the clever use of the villain turned hero, got us rooting for the underdog, and hoping it will beat the seemingly unstoppable T-1000.

Over the years, so many versions have been released that if you were a hard-core Home Theatre Hobbyist, you will have owned at least one version. Well, I have the THX Judgment Day version, the lossy DD Blu ray version, then the DTS-MA HD DVD and now the Ultimate Skynet edition on Blu Ray.

So how good is this latest version? If you have any of the older ones, should you part with more cash for the money suckers creating yet another edition? Actually from a practical stand point, the older Blu Ray was so bad, almost any new release would beat it, and HD DVD is a dying format. And it does offer better picture quality than the older SD DVD, so its quite a no brainer.

Now at 7 GBP after you deduct VAT, that’s a really sweet price. But note that it is a region B only disc.

It comes with a DTS-MA 6.1 soundtrack, that begs you to turn up the volume and enjoy the surrounds plus a decent bass track. Now this move will not rival the best of 2009, such as Die Hard 4, Star Trek etc, but it is still decent and with the gripping storyline, it will sit proudly on your shelf and make you want to pop the disc in for a spin every now and then. The picture quality does not fair as well as the sound, it is not bad, and in the daylight scenes, the colours are rich, and it is a definite upgrade over the older releases.

Furthermore, it is packed with extras and has 3 versions of the movie. Note that it takes a while to load up, being BD-live.

Plot 4.5/5

Action 4.5/5

Chick factor – well a muscular Linda Hamilton well only make James C drool but somehow she does not cut it as eye candy. 2.5/5

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Double post

Edited by petetherock

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Date Night

Some movies allow you to escape from the doldrums of daily life, have a good laugh and sit back for the duration of the show and forget about your troubles. Others can take you past that, and whilst you are laughing, you also appreciate a deeper meaning, where you can relate to the scenes portrayed and reflect on how your life parallels that. Whilst Date Night is no heavy duty blockbuster, it has enough gravity to hit home with a message and yet remain light and fluffy enough to take you away from your woes for just under 2 hours. With ticket prices half that in Oz, and a 2 day lay up in KL, it makes watching this with friends a decent distraction, which actually worked out well.

The plot is simple and tested, two people who have been married for years go on their usual date night where they get time off from the kids to be by themselves and they have recently become a little jaded, and inside long for a little excitement in their lives.

Little do they know the night will get explosive, shots will be fired at them and they will take down corrupt politicians, kingpins of crime and literally have a blast of an evening. Some of the events are a little far-fetched, but the team of Steve Carell and Tina Fey pull it off quite nicely with good comic timing and genuine chemistry between them.

The scenes are familiar, and whilst we laugh at the stunts, the ridiculous pole-dancing, we can also reflect on how often our own lives seems so close to the couple on screen. How often do we wish things would rise above the mundane before the whole marriage or relationship breaks down. The concept of time for each other to have space, and the need to spend our whole lives trying to please the other person can be quite tiring too. This can lead to an eventual breakdown of the relationship, and that strikes home, as I do know someone who just felt there was no more love in the relationship. It was a passive decision to give up on the family and simple feel no hate and no love.

The movie wraps it up well, showing how commitment to a relationship extends beyond merely corporeal attraction, and a real motivation to keep the marriage together, whilst giving us a few laughs in the process.

All in all, good for a few laughs, and gives you something to talk about at the end, and it leaves you with a feel good warm sensation too. Recommended.

Plot: 4/5

Action: not a lot and they don’t make full of Mark Walberg, but he does make his wooden acting work for him here, and squeezes out a few laughs from his pecs… not a lot for your home theatre to work out on 2.5/5

Chick Factor: Tina Fey really looks like Sarah Pallin, and despite her age, does look pretty good, even in the pole-dancing outfit. 2.5/5

I reckon this movie is worth a rental at least and I would be looking to get the DVD.

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My Girlfriend is an Agent

Korea has come up with some interesting shows which have been trailer-blazers that have lit up the movie world and have led to sequels, copycats both domestically and remakes by Hollywood.

One of their most successful was a show called "My Sassy Girl", a show which appealed to both men and women. It had some romance, albeit in an awkward way where the man was often subject to physical violence by a woman, who was a stranger and somehow love grew out of this. This show was the top grossing movie before the current one came about.

For those who know Korean culture, this is quite removed from reality, as men dominate Korean society and you will see women walking a few steps behind or men simply walking to the head of a queue and the women quietly accepting this. My colleague had her butt pinched on a subway train over there too. I guess watching a movie where women wear the pants appeals since it is something the Koreans, and the women in particular can only fantasize about.

So this show begins with a strong female protagonist, who is beautiful, smart, and kicks butt big time as a spy, and managed to look good whilst chasing after criminals wearing a wedding dress on a jet ski. The man in her life on the other hand is a real bumbling oaf and is portrayed as a weak, easily distressed chap who cannot handle the various white lies that she conjures up whilst trying to maintain her cover as a travel agent and erstwhile girlfriend. So he leaves her for Canada for studies, or so it seems….

So what ensues borrows bits from True Lies, My Sassy Girl, My Wife is a Gangster, and many other movies. Yet there is enough originality, and it is packed with action, humor and just the right amount of romance to make this work. Add a super gorgeous and yet demure girl who kicks butts for breakfast then looks lovingly at you. They also chose the right idiotic Korean hapless chap and with good chemistry between the actors, this show works. It comes as no surprise that this show was no 1 in Korea, with the keen pacing, twists and good humor to keep it going well. You do get a glimpse of how corporate world in Korea works and its hierarchy, amidst the fun and action, but since it is keep superficial it gets its point across without being too heavy.

Although it may prove only to be in the movies, I think many guys may quietly craved for a hot sexy lady who is capable, intelligent, crazy for you and yet subservient and supremely competent domestically. Yes everything in the movie minus the hot temper and volcanic eruptions. Yet, that may remain the preserve of movies, which is what makes shows like this popular within Korean and internationally. And for the Korean women, the chance to see one of their own go beyond the boundaries of merely toeing tradition and succumbing to society’s pressures of what makes a demure lady who is made up with layers of cosmetics even when going to the market is enticing. And for those not familiar with their culture, this movie makes for an interesting watch.

in Korean, beautiful actresses have a life span of only a few years, and some get forced into doing sordid things, and only a few actors last longer, so we may not see this pairing last longer than snow on a hot summer day, but whilst it lasts, it was a funny, yet memorable hit, and will be good for both sexes to watch together.

Plot: usual lady isn't what she seems to be, spy / travel agent girlfriend, but watch for the twists etc 4/5

Action: plenty to satisfy the action buffs and it should be a fine workout on video for your HT system 4/5

Chick factor : A1 with plenty of eye candy, although I am not sure if everyone wants their GF to be like her... 4/5

So yes, buy or at least rent this..


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Ok...I know this is perhaps an old movie...and may even have been enjoyed before on this thread...but...

I absolutely enjoyed...it was such a "happy" movie....I sort of remember, that I sat through it with a stuck smile almost all the time....just so enjoyable...

...well...I am talking of "Mamma Mia"...I loved it...and the family too...

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Wiener Philharmoniker/New Year's Concert 2009 [blu-ray] [2009]


After one too many movies with just bass, explosions and lots of killing, a change was needed. Something to show off the finer qualities of the home theatre system, and its musical qualities. I chanced across this disc whilst getting a few more of the usual action fare off Amazon UK. This was a blind buy after reading some reviews.

The Vienna New Year Concert is an annual affair and this comes in the Blu Ray format, and is recorded in lossless DTS-MA 5.1 or stereo LPCM. The 5.1 is more immersive and you won’t find your subwoofer going to sleep either. The sound quality is truly fabulous and you can feel part of the audience, and yet you have no difficulty picking out individual instruments but the soundscape is immersive and smooth.

The picture quality is equally breath-taking, even though it is 1080i “only”. Check out the grain on the instrument stands and the floor boards. The colors are vibrant and you will also test the full range of colors of your display. It is only focussed on the performers in the wonderful opera house, you may feel bored, but the well filmed video also includes views of the Austrian landscape and you really want to hop on board a plane right away and fly there. The 16:9 presentation fills your display nicely.

But the icing on the cake is in the bonus section. There is a segment, almost 25 minutes long, called Linz 2009. Linz is one of the 3 big cities in Austria and there is a segment which showcases the city with music from Hayden. The picture quality is even better than the main show and the beauty of the city and its surroundings is really solid! But around the 10th min, there is the icing on the cake. The percussion section of the Vienna Orchestra perform in a steelmill and this is truly stunning. It starts first with a fireworks display which will give your surrounds and subwoofer a serious workout and goes right into a performance quite unlike what you think of most Philharmonc Orchestras and the surround demonstration is on par if not better than the typical Eagles “Hotel California” demo.

This disc comes highly recommended.

PQ: 4.5/5

SQ 4.5/5

A worthy buy.

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Prince of Persia and The Sands of Time (POPATSOT)

There are few people who can be as closely associated with the word “blockbuster” as Jerry Bruckheimer (JB), who has been responsible for producing more summer popcorn hits than almost anyone around. His collaborations with director Michael Bay are the stuff which gets long queues snaking round the block and from Beverly Hills Cop all the way to the Pirates trilogy, Jerry has amassed a wonderful repertoire of summer hits which have enthralled audiences around the world. JB aka "Mr. Blockbuster", has made more than 13 billion in movies and continues to impress with Prince of Persia.

JB has the art of the summer blockbuster down to a pat. POPATSOT will never win any Oscars, and delivers a fun-filled rollercoaster ride which seeks to thrill, humor, and excite young and old all around the world with a simple almost flaky storyline, of a street urchin who is adopted by the king of Persia and is raised as a prince and he sprinkles the obligatory deceit, murder, hot babe, action sequence with a little time travel thrown in and he managed to mix it all up with a little side dish of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction thrown in too.

JB knows how to please the crowds. The plot is simple and not hard for even the kids in the audience to follow. The basic themes of betrayal do not require Macbeth-like thespian skills, and instead rely on the chemistry of Gemma Aterton and Jake Gyllenhaal to keep the guys and gals in the audience interested, and Gemma is red hot, doing well here after a limited role in James Bond and much better than her role in Titans. Jake is good-looking but in a boyish and roguish manner and they do hit it off well enough to pull the whole scroundral with a good heart type prince and the mystical maiden with a mission tag team well enough. There is decent humor, and whatever holes there are in the plot are forgivable.

Like National Treasure, the lightweight nature of the plot does not aggravate or annoy, whilst allowing the action sequences to take the breath of the audience away. I must take my hat off to the stunt crew who obviously took the jumps, dives and leaps for Jake and made the action stunning and yet realistic, despite a liberal dose of CGI to recreate Persia in the middle of Morocco. The deserts of Morocco look beautiful and the costumes crew were meticulous in fashioning clothes which look exotic and yet believable.

But the real bacon and sausages of any summer blockbuster is the action, and it comes in the usual JB way: lots of it, hit fast, hit fast and hit outrageously. Although you can see some of the action sequences being aided by CGI and will be destined for the next Disneyland ride, it is still highly enjoyable. The surround is immersive, and this will definitely be another demo disc, with deep bass, surround effects enveloping the listener and plenty of knives, arrows and other things flying from the front to the back, all in a well constructed sound field. This show is the equal of Star Trek in its quality and intensity.

Plot 3/5

Action 4.5/5

Surround 4.5/5

And what about the chick factor?

Well ever since Gemma Aterton hit the silver screen, things have gotten hotter and she can make the temperature in the room go up by 10 degrees just by sitting in it and if she speaks in the clipped British accent or simply smiles, then you are likely to have smoke or blood emitting from your nose and eyes.. 4/5

I am also grateful JB did not resort to milking the 3D cash cow, and with all the action, fun and humor, he did not really need to stoop so low.

Should you rent, buy or ignore this?

I am putting in a pre-order for the video once it is released, enough said.

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Prince of Persia and The Sands of Time (POPATSOT)

Should you rent, buy or ignore this?

I am putting in a pre-order for the video once it is released, enough said.

Thanks for the lengthy and informative review. I have seen the trailer on one of my blu rays and thought that it looked like a good flick for a family outing. Am definitely going to go. Like JB, like JG so all good so far :)

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LIFE - BBC series

4 discs - region free.

If BBC's Planet Earth showcases what High Definition could do, then Life reinforces it and more... The picture quality here, the kind of detail on offer is so astounding, you almost feel voyeuristic in your vantage point. Sure the plethora of action movies on offer is plenty, and you can get many CGI scenes but if you want real action accompanied by real gore, and lots of surround effects, look no further.

As for the plot - lets just say Mother Nature knows how to give you a great story, and you are in the middle of the gripping action watching animals fight for their lives. This is accompanied by Sir Attenborough's wonderful narrative in his natural calm smooth voice - forget the Oprah version chaps, this is the real man.

Life does not leave you short-changed when comes to the sound. With total immersion, you almost feel seated right in the middle of the forest, or just a hair's breath away from the insect just as it is swallowed by the chameleon concealed only inches way.

Bravo to BBC for producing this and offering at at a pittance of 33 GBP.

PQ: 5/5

SQ: 4.5

Highly recommended as a keeper.

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Toy Story 3

When Pixar first emerged, their first movie was the start of a long string of hits which never seems to stop. With Toy Story I, you had a hit which was a mix of startling animation, lots of fun but mostly important and yet ironical in an animation, the human touch. The story of a bond of friendship between two different personalities, overcoming adversity together, along with genuine chemistry, lots of funny lines and some excitement made an instant hit of the first show. Can they make it 3 hits in a row?

Toy Story II was even better and there is a lot to prove almost 10 years after the first release. It also comes in 3D and with a string of duds and some skepticism that 3D is merely a means to squeeze more out of the movie goer, the third installment has a lot to live up to. But trust Pixar to not only live up to expectations, but exceed them, and be able to introduce a whole new bunch of characters, which add a new dimension, but still allow the original dynamic duo of Buzz Lightyear and Woody to shine.

Adults do not need to feel shy watching this show and it rivals my old favorite of Indiana Jones for its wonderful mix of action, romance and comedy sublimely mixed into a heartwarming show that still manages to add a new dimension even if you saw it in 2D only. The owner Andy has grown up and is going to college. The theme of abandonment, and redundancy are deftly dealt with, whilst introducing a new adventure and a roller-coaster ride of death-defying action that sees our heroes fall from one tough situation into another. There are darker moments in this movie than some of the earlier hits, and this follows “UP” which also showed a darker broodier side. Even so you won’t find kids complaining and you will be laughing along and if you decided to bring your partner, this would certainly be a nice date movie too, especially when Spanish Buzz shows off his dancing skills. That and the totally impossibly saccharine Ken and Barbie link up were the kind of romance scenes which would get you rolling in laughter and yet when Buzz gallantly rescues Jessie, that rivals any heroes moves, and certainly better than any Colin Firth or Hugh Jackman offerings.

Ultimately it is still about Woody and Buzz and our loveable heroes show the best action stars out there, how to get out of trouble in style, get the girl and save the world or at least the toy buddies in your backyard.

Highly recommended as a movie and a keeper for Blu Ray. 4/5

The action comes fast and furious and there are plenty of scenes which are demo worthy, and the surround channels are well used. 4/5

Barbie isn’t much of a chick factor, but this is after all a cartoon. 2/5

Since I saw this in 3D, I would say that it adds a little more, but it shows again that a good storyline is fundamental, and the 3D is the icing on the cake which makes a good show stand out even more. Kudos to Pixar.

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Definitely Maybe... a review

There have been a few classic romantic comedies which have impressed me over the years: 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Harry Met Sally, You Got Mail. The essential plot is about how the man, after a circuitous journey usually plus some time falling in love with others, eventually ends up with the woman of his dreams. After all these rom-coms should end well, and leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling, regardless of whether real life is like that. How about a rom-com which is funny, warm and yet reflective, and give you more than a topic or two to talk about when the show ends? Will it work if it goes off the tried and test formulae a little?

So here is a movie, where from about the fifth minute you know the main actor, Ryan Reynolds, is divorced from the love of his life, and is on his way to pick up his precocious daughter who just had her first sex education lesson, and now knows she did not come from storks. The story is about how the daughter squeezes out the story of how her parents met from her dad, who reluctantly tell her through a series of stories of all the women her dad met and loved in his life. So there is a bit of guess who as he does not tell which is which, and the story arc goes through a time in the 90s where Clinton runs for president, and his infamous Lewinski affair.

This is a quite a twist on the romance bit and leads you through a few twists and turns in the protagonist's life. I half wanted to dislike it for the amorous and almost free-love nature of the parts where there is a lot of sleeping about, with scant regard for the institution of marriage, but this is reflective of America and perhaps other societies too. It will either make you queasy and turn off the TV or accept that is what American life is like. The lead actors and even the daughter Maya, do very well, with good synergy to weave a story that is part fiction and all life. Clever flashbacks and painting it as a story remind me of the technique employed in Princess Bride, but this is more dark and it isn't an action movie.

The show grows on you, and you can watch it again to get the various nuances in the dialogue, the mock proposal which Ryan does to Isla is one highlight, and guys will do well to take notes.

It is perhaps a reflection of the fact that true love does not run smooth, and that you may love more than one person, or worse, when you think that you found the right one, after marriage and all, the quarrels begin and it all does not end well. It can also be about betrayal, by the closest to you. It can also be a reflection on life, that even after the worst events (like your best friend sleeping with your beloved), or after the dust has settled on the separation, life does go on and possibly, the journey continues, with potholes of sadness along the way, but plenty of memorable scenery, and the right company to make that long journey, a good one. But it also forces the Christian romantic to realise he or she has a choice, which is to accept such shows as status quo, or have the staying power to enjoy the long walk together with the same person, through all kinds of ups and downs. You can quit or stick with the same person, and ask God to continue helping both of you keep the love going.

Plot: good chick flick I guess, but it will definitely lead to lots of discussion if you bring your partner, or you can quietly watch it on a plane and deny all knowledge of it if you are the red-neck bloke and too macho to watch such a movie.. or feel free to share your thoughts with another lady --- 4/5

Action - zip

Chick Factor - plenty of eye candy Isla Fisher is a mix of innocent sweet and overpowering sensuality -- 4/5

Rent or Buy or forget it: depends on your stand on morals, and whether you have objections to romantic flicks, but worth a rent at least. 4/5

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Legion - movie review

There have been a few comic book based movies, which deal with the occult, and have a religious theme, Constantine comes to mind, but despite a promising idea, this movie is best remember for its references worthy sound than the plot.

So Michael who has appeared in his own movie with the same title (Michael starring John Travolta), now comes to Earth in a style akin to Terminator, in a bid to save mankind’s last hope from another apocalypse, and everything happens in a little diner in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany and others try their best to save this movie from itself, but there is simply not enough meat in the story for these stalwarts to sink their teeth into. Paul Bettany buffs up for this role and he has had previous experience doing this in the Da Vinci Code, as a monk assasin.

Plot: 2/5

The plot may be wafer thin, but forget that and concentrate on the audio.

The action comes in spades, and the sound engineers in this movie were definitely paid more than the script writers. The surround effects, the LFE are awesome and you will be caught with your jaw agape, and will want to watch those action sequences over and over again.

Action: 5/5

This disc comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack is perfect, yes, you heard me, perfect...

Chick factor: there is some eye candy, but the action is what you came for and it delivers despite a short run time of just over an hour and a half. 3/5

So will you forgive the plot and buy this for the action? I would suggest action aficionados get this to keep or at least rent it to experience one of the best surround and demo worthy discs of 2010.

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Ip Man 2 - Movie review‏

The trouble with sequels are that they need to live up to the original movie at least, otherwise it is seen as an effort to capitalise on the success of the first movie and milk some money.

Unfortunately Hong Kong knows when it sees a money train and glady hops on for the sequel and many more adaptions of it. See the proliferation of vampire movies in the 80s and now we see at least 3 Ip Man movies.

So now we have seen Ip Man defeat the Japs and move onto Hong Kong where the challenge comes from corrupt "Guai Lo" cops and the obligatory White Man beefcake who belittles Kungfu challenges Ip Man.

Well no one is too unhappy with the simple, tried and test plot, but no one is going to give anyone in this show a Golden Horse either.

Lets hope Donnie Yen sticks to his word and stops here.... I cannot imagine who else Ip Man will challenge to milk more from this franchise..

Plot: 2.5/5

Now what we really want are fight scenes and I must say, its still a little disappointing. Now we have the big match up between Samo Hung and Donnie Yen, but there is far too much wire work, and Samo is a littel past his best, so we don't see the athleticism we saw in his 80s movies with Jackie Chan.

Back then you would gasp at how a fatty like him could move so agilely and fast.

The supporting actors like Shawn Yue don't know Kung Fu and the boxing match with the great 'Twister' is a lot of pushing and shoving, and since kicking was kept to a minimum, we don't see Donnie Yen in full flight either.

So that leaves us with a less than full on experience, unlike Donnie's recent offerings.

However the audio is well done, and you feel the punches and it keeps your subwoofer happy although sometimes you feel the LFE is turned up only at the point of punches and does not lend itself to the ambience.

Action: 3.5/5

Chick factor is at a minimum and honestly it would have been inappropriate in such a movie anyway.

So should you rent, or buy it? Well I think it is worth a watch, especially if you have already watched the first one, but I would say try before you buy this one.

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Despicable Me – a movie review

Pixar has ruled the roost when it comes to animation, and other companies have tried but few come close to challenging them for movies which have excellent graphics, but even more important, an excellent and touching story mixed with humour and excitement.

Despicable Me (DM) borrows heavily from several previous efforts in the reel world and animation, but what makes it stand out is how these fundamental elements blend well together in a story which manages to make you laugh, and also tug at your heart strings too.

The protagonist looks a little like a fatter Anton from the Ratatouille show, and he is a villain who deep inside has a sorry childhood and just wants to impress his mother, and he meets 3 of the most adorable kids who turn him from competing to outdo Vector, the new kid on the evil block to a man who has a past and a heart.

His efforts are assisted by an evil scientist, who acts as his surrogate father, and scores of the funniest assistants called Minions, who look like little bananas and watch out for the light stick scene – which had the entire cinema in stitches.

How can you not love the kids with their eyes which cry out to you, to read them a bedtime story and then not laugh at the slapstick antics of the Minions, who are totally and unquestionable devoted to the protagonist.

Add plenty of non-stop action, gadgets, and many recognisable caricatures of stereotypes, and you have a movie you will watch once, cry and then watch again, laugh and again to both cry, laugh and share the many scenes again with friends.

A good effort, and I am confident this one will challenge the domination of Pixar in the animation Oscars.

Plot: 4.5 /5

Action: 4/5

Highly recommended as a keeper with good surround use and plenty of bass.

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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief (DTS-HD MA)

Imitation is one of the most sincere forms of flattery and here, movies like Clash of the Titans, Harry Potter and even High School Musical must be rather flattered for this adaption of a series of stories borrows from all of the above and more.

However, let me ask the obvious, why in Zeus’ name do we find Greek, yes, Greek gods in the middle of US of A??? The male and female leads, plus the obligatory sidekick all could be models for some teen magazine and I assume their roles is to distract from the many loopholes in a paper thin storyline, which relies on stars which all look like gods and goddesses, have nice blue eyes and megawatt smiles. Throw in a plot of thievery, conspiracy and add the old story of demi-gods which arose from the amorous ways of the gods, and you have this movie. It might keep your children entertained with plenty of good looking characters, and they might be willing to look past the failings in the plot but action aficionados will need to wait patiently between plenty of inane acting before the rather stingy doses of action kick in.

Plot- 2.5/5

As for the surround effects, this is a modern 2010 modern and yet, the surround integration is not as impressive as a good movie made this year should be. Sure the LFE is turned up in moments where there is some action, and of course the lightning bolts come with substantial heft in the bass, but there is not a lot of use of the surrounds to heighten the tension, and the LFE comes in a artificial manner which does not gel well into moments of dialogue. Speech is still made out quite easily, but it won’t go down as a match for Legion, Toy Story, or many of the other top hits on Blu Ray this year.

SQ – 3/5

PQ- here is one bit which helps to redeem the movie, and the colors are well rendered, and in particular the Camp Half-Blood scenes are well done, and very natural.

Should you buy, rent or avoid? I think if you have kids or need something for a slow weekend afternoon, you could consider renting this and I would suggest doing so before even thinking about buying it….

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From Paris With Love

Lets get it out of the way, this movie won’t win any Academy Awards, and it is the very definition of OTT – over the top. And it was a blast – literally and loads of fun.

John Travolta has given us plenty of hits and some misses over the years and I reckon he took the best bits of all his action movies and put it here. Its like some casting director told him to blend “Swordfish”, “Face Off”, “Broken Arrow”, “Pulp Fiction” and ham it up to the max, whilst pretending to be his own version of Bond and Bourne. This kicks Salt out of the ring easily.

Jonathan Rhys is there for the ride and his wooden acting makes a perfect counterfoil for the super OTT nature of Charlie Wax, the chrome dome that JT plays here. Wax is obnoxious, but he is right, he is fast to shoot, and he hits his target, leaving a trail of dead spies, terrorists and mimes in Paris (ok, I made the last one up…)

The pace is blistering, especially once Wax shines – ha ha. There are some efforts to inject drama and suspense, and even a possibly tear jerker moment – but forget the tissue, this movie is all about bad ass action, explosions and plenty of gun fights.

Plot – well its kind of like a JT best of, so it works for me 3/5

Action – well Lionsgate has come up with a superb DTS-MA 7.1 track for this and they really know how to show off Hi Def. bullets fly in from the rear, as the shots hit the walls, you can hear bits of plaster fall off and dialogue is never hard to follow. Kudos to them. 4/5

Chick Factor: well it is an action flick, so there are some obligatory femme fatales, but overall, it did not detract or add to it 3/5

So should you buy it? Well its not great for acting, but I liked it as much as “Hitman”, which means it’s a keeper.

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The best movie that I repeated watching over and over again is Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I also memorized the OST.

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Cyborg She(My girlfriend is a robot)


If you could travel back in time to love, protect, and change all the wrongs for the one you love, would that be the perfect relationship? What if your protector was incredibly beautiful, always at your beck and call, never leaves your side, and totally loyal, loving, and to top it off, cooks up a mean meal? What’s the catch you say? How about the fact that she is a robot?

Kwak Jae-Young’s previous claim to fame was giving us the very popular love story – “My Sassy Girl”, which was another beautiful story, which takes you a few viewings to appreciate the nuances and the element of time travel in his work. It was also one of the first movies to put Korea and this writer on the world map.

Here, the story is actually a rather simple one at first glance. A man builds a robot, to go back in time to save himself from a calamity which leaves him crippled, and she not only does that, but serves, protects and saves his life more than once. Jiro, the man, then falls in love with the robot, and we live through the adventures of this unlikely duo.

However that would only cover the most superficial elements of this movie, and it bears comparison to many other movies with robots and time travel, whilst paying homage to them. How about the model of the robot? We are never told her name, but she is “Cyberdyne Model 103”, like the Terminator, and will never rest, stand guard erect at night, protecting her master, and is a hybrid of human tissue over a robotic innard. The robot also saves many along the way, usually because the maker (the future elderly Jiro), felt great compassion for the people involved.

But it is the dynamics of the relationship which makes this movie so special, and you should be warned, to get a box of tissue handy, because, whether you are a woman or a seemingly macho man, those tears glands will get a good workout. As will the stomach muscles as you laugh at both the slapstick antics, the subtle interactions of a man falling in love or getting used to a robotic, who is well played by a relatively unknown bikini model Ayase Haruka. She manages to look good (the easy part), act wooden (harder) and give a robot the full range of emotion, whilst reminding you she is made of steel and synthetic material but yet capable of the ultimate love – sacrifice for the one you care about (the hardest of all, to act and in life). She is a combination of innocence, beauty and toughness when the occasion calls for it, and yet, she can do all that without many of the facial expressions, we would call human. Eat that Arnie!

Now for the males amongst us, you may be wondering, or perhaps fantasising, about such a hot model for a girlfriend, but the show also exposes us to our own ego frailties, and reality, which we may not have considered. What if she is always around, 24/7, and isn’t the fun-loving hot chick or walks in an awkward way. Sure some of you may be quick to retort that a funny walk or range of movements is ok, but will you feel shy introducing her to friends, or get tired of having her around all day?

And the killer question, what if she cannot respond in the same way that you might envisage? There is a moment in the movie when Jiro expresses his frustration at not getting the same warm response that he gave to express his love, and blurts out his frustration, and demands that the robot leaves. Some of us may express disgust at a man not being able to treasure what good fortune he has, but it is a real possibility, and we always see people in life, who have affairs, or stray, even when they are married to a woman of their dreams.

The element of time travel is also well used here, and makes you ponder on what you would do to make things right, or will you want to go and live out someone’s life, and enrich their lives whilst showing them what true love is, by giving all of your life. It also allows the story to make us think of what we would do in the name of love for the ones who mattered.

Action fans and the men watching this won’t feel too left out too, as there are some action scenes, which are well put together, and fit nicely into the story, and actually help lead to the most emotional scene in the story. There will be a moment when true love is put to the test, and that leads to another scene, which without revealing too much, is one where love means spending the rest of your life, repairing and taking care of the other. Truly in sickness and in health.

The original dialogue is in Japanese, but it is also dubbed in Chinese, and you can also read the English subtitles, but the beauty of a movie about a robot, is that many of the things she is trying to express, does not require words, and works equally well even if the sound was muted.

Does it end well? Ah come forth the hopeless romantic, the curious, or even those waiting for a great show to make that move on the girl you have been spying….watch it to know the ending…

So are you sold? Who should watch this? Well for starters please don’t watch this alone. This is the perfect movie for a guy to take his date out, get some tissue paper ready in his pocket, fish it out at the right moments when it gets really emo, and most certainly there will be moments when your lady friend will greatly appreciate a strong warm arm around their shoulders, or gently reaching out to hold their hands in the slightly scary moments, and again, when the show tugs ever so strongly at their hearts. But keep your other arm handy, because you will be reaching for those same tissue too, and that’s good, since you look sensitive and new age too. There are few better date movies around, and it may become one which both of you will enjoy time and again.

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Robin Hood – Russell Crowe version

Robin Hood is a favourite story with almost a version every other year. From Errol Flynn to Kevin Costner, there are many iterations from the heroic to the slapstick. So will the paying viewer be interested in a slightly more mature (which is of course the polite way of saying over the hill) Robin, and a Marion which in a few years will need hormone replacement therapy?

The director has worked with Russell Crowe before, and for good or for worse, borrows heavily from his previous work, and many others. It will be a challenge to carve out a unique version of this frequently told story and Ridley Scott tries his hand at a twist which sees Richard the Lionheart dying early on and John his brother actually fighting French invaders, plus a turn of Robin playing the son of a Lord.

Well does it work? In a sense, the story works extra hard to distance itself from earlier versions of the story, and yet remain somewhat true to the often told tale. However we see scenes reminiscent of past movies that Ridley did, such as the Gladiator, in the color tones, the epic battle scenes (lets see if the arrows disappear in the DNR version of the DVD). Add plenty of horseplay and a beach scene which is a inverse play of Normandy and Saving Private Ryan, and you get the idea that they just put together a whole bunch of ideas and hoped that the the charisma of the two lead protagonists will carry the movie.

Well Cate Blanchett and Russell do have some charisma, but they look like a slightly geriatric version of the merry men, and its very hard to believe they have the young and energy to run shoot, and play heroes with swords.

Plot: thin but you may like the twist 3/5

Action: plenty of swords, slashing, bleeding, and action fans won’t be disappointed. 4/5

Chick factor: if you are into Cate in her 40s then this is your movie, but even when she did Ben Button, she was already in need of plenty of CGI to just look believable as a young lady. At least here she does not hide her age and she goes with the “old maid” thing well.

Should you rent/buy or forget it? Well I reckon its worth a rental, but not much more.

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L-O-V-E 愛到底


The Asian / Chinese film industry has not been buzzing with too much excitement, and typically likes to produce copies of Hollywood hits, or re-use formulas which have worked in the past. But this show combines the talents of 4 new directors to make a series of 4 short stories, that is both funny and tugs at your heart strings.

The first of the 4, "San Sheng You Xing (三聲有幸)" is a story the lives of 3 people who have the same voice. And if the first 5 minutes does not get to you and make you reach for the tissue, you should check if your heart is still beating…

The way the story is worked in, and the person they chose for the grieving mother, is quite perfect, and I would not be surprised if this was a Golden Horse shoo-in.

Well recommended.


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The Expendables

Take a few action stars who have seen better days, add a beautiful Latina, throw in lots of explosions, and blend in some clever wise cracks, and you have a nice warm fuzzy throw back to the 80s where men were men and bleed, swore and kills loads of enemies whilst barely breaking a sweat....

Think Rambo, who could take on the entire Russian army, give him some equally deadly pals, and let them create mayhem whilst saving the girl and trading punches, jokes and bullets on a little Island in the Gulf and you will want the lot to be back.

And get cameos from the man who perfected the art of saying "I'll be back" - he gets his just dues in a line "he wants to be president" and you finally see some stars who you may have longed to see together in a single movie for the longest time.

This is no Oscar material, but Stallone brings out the best bits from these daddy warriors, and give them the license to kill and to thrill and make the audience laugh with them too. Testosterone overflows from everyone one of these oldies, but the have me and I am sure many more longing for "Expendables II".

Plot: 3/5

Action 4/5

Chick Factor: 3/5

I reckon its worth a rental or more.

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