Rio (2011) – animated romantic adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Anne Hathaway: Jewel
Jesse Eisenberg: Blu
Jemaine Clement: Nigel
Leslie Mann: Linda
Tracy Morgan: Luiz
Will.I.Am: Pedro
Rodrigo Santoro: Tulio
George Lopez: Rafael
Jamie Foxx: Nico
Director and Story Writer: Carlos Saldanha
Story Writer: Earl Richey Jones
Story Writer: Todd Jones
Screenplay Writer: Don Rhymer
Screenplay Writer: Joshua Sternin
Screenplay Writer: Jeffrey Ventimilia
Screenplay Writer: Sam Harper
Producer: Bruce Anderson
Producer: John C. Donkin

Rio (2011)

Blu, the last male Blue Macaw in the world, is brought to Rio to mate and save the species from extinction but his value doesn’t go unnoticed by local poachers. With hilarious consequences.

4/10

Blue Sky Studio’s cash-grabbing sequel to PDI’s Madagascar is entirely perfunctory and never engaging for adults; this is one parents will have to sit through patiently. Given that it’s set in Rio de Janeiro during the world famous Rio Carnival, the use of songs is hopeless. Every original song tells you nothing, moves nothing forward, elucidates nothing. That said, there are a couple of strong moments for Lionel Richie. Rio is very bright and very colourful and I remembered the names of the two main characters, indicating that the technical story-telling is entirely adequate; it’s just that nothing interesting, informative, entertaining or exciting happens throughout the entire movie. There’s no dramatic value in the story and that leaves two or three decent quality gags to hold everything up. It doesn’t. Additionally, this is another American movie that thinks that horrendous dog drool is hilarious; it’s not, it’s repulsive. Movie-makers: please stop doing that.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974) – 7/10 crime detective murder drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Richard Kiley: Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin
Rosemary Murphy: Margaret Halperin
Michael McGuire: Hugh Caldwell
Val Avery: Artie Jessup
Director: Ben Gazzara
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Series’ Creator: Richard Levinson
Series’ Creator: William Link
Producer: Edward K. Dodds
Executive Producer: Roland Kibbee
Executive Producer: Dean Hargrove

Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974)

When a man ends up throttling his wife during a heated argument about her extra-marital affairs, he goes to his friend Mark for help. Mark helps him out by providing him with an alibi and making the scene of the crime look like she disturbed a burgler. If anyone can help him cover it up, it’s Mark: Police Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin.

7/10

Solid episode with good reasons for Columbo to become suspicious that everything is not as it seems (a folded nightie under a pillow, a complete lack of fingerprints including the victim’s and an unanswered phone call). Murder She Wrote writer Peter S. Fischer supplies a terrific conclusion – one of the series’ best – requiring Falk to go from his what’s-going-on face to his you’re-the-murderer speech; which he does perfectly, of course. In fact, if Fischer could have come up with some nice little Columbo moments (he has trouble with his car but there’s nothing to work with) to augment the strong, clever plot, this could have been the best Columbo ever. As it is, it’s clever, logical and the climax is completely unforeseeable and a total joy.

This Columbo episode contains violence, mild adult dialogue

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014, PS3) – 7/10 fantasy RPG game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Motomu Toriyama
Game Design Director: Yuji Abe
Main Programmer: Naoki Hamaguchi
Art Director: Isamu Kamikokuryo
Graphics and Visual Effects Director: Shintaro Takai
Main Character Designer: Tetsuya Nomura
Music: Masashi Hamauzu
Music: Naoshi Mizuta
Music: Mitsuto Suzuki
Lead Scenario Writer: Daisuke Watanabe
Level Design Director: Takeshi Iwabuchi
Lead Application Programmer: Daiki Hoshina
Lead Planner: Kazuyuki Shindo
Lead Planner: Masahiro Ishihara
Lead Planner: Daisuke Inoue
Lead Planner: Yui Sawada
Battle Design Director: Nobuyuki Matsuoka
Lead Battle Programmer: Satoru Koyama
Character Model Director: Masaaki Kazeno
Lead Technical Engine and Rendering Programmer: Shuichi Ikeda
Producer: Yoshinori Kitase
Lightning aka Claire Farron: Ali Hillis
Hope Estheim: Vincent Martella
Jessica DiCicco: Lumina

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014)

Lightning awakes from crystal stasis by the almighty god Bhunivelze and endowed with great power and a skimpy outfit and a mission to save as many souls as she can before the end of the world. Which will be in 13 days. Making things even harder is that the world has been frozen in immortality for the past 500 years and the length of time has crushed some of their souls. These are the ones God wants rescuing and Lightning will have to do whatever it takes to help restore light to their lives and save their souls.

7/10

"You’re just making things up now." – Lightning

While Lightning’s succinct statement applies to most JRPG’s (and most video game bosses in particular), it applies with such eyebrow-raising accuracy to all of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s story sequences that you feel that the makers must be doing it deliberately. While the story does get around to sort-of explaining why Lightning has been such an overly-focused near-automaton for three games, that’s about your lot. Everything happens because it does and thanks to good production values, especially the superb voice work and outstanding music, I was happy to break out my wry smile and watch all the story scenes in their majestically daft seriousness. You see, did I mention that you can be wearing a giant hat or silly glasses or a precariously balanced afro or a tail or big bunny ears and an impractical suit of armour or next to no clothes during these world-changing sequences. It’s got to be deliberate. The game itself is generally a lot of fun and marks the first seamless 3D open-world environment for Final Fantasy. It’s easy enough to bumble through for the experience but it has enough depth in the battle system that, on Normal and Hard difficulty, preparation and strategy will be required to succeed. There’s lot to do and you will be happy helping people with their problems, ‘solving’ mysteries and swatting cactuars in the face with a sword that is twice the size you are. I’ve grown rather partial to Lightning and the fact that I can name the entire hero cast of the FFXIII universe and some of their defining character traits and arcs speaks volumes about the quality of this much-maligned trilogy.

This game contains violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..

Links

Frozen (2013) – 8/10 fantasy Disney animated movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Story Writer Inspired by “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen: Chris Buck
Director and Screenplay and Story Writer Inspired by “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen: Jennifer Lee
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Executive Producer: John Lasseter
Writer “The Snow Queen”: Hans Christian Andersen
Story Writer Inspired by “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen: Shane Morris
Songs Composer: Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Songs Composer: Robert Lopez
Head of Story: Paul Briggs
Head of Animation: Lino DiSalvo
Kristen Bell: Anna
Idina Menzel: Elsa
Jonathan Groff: Kristoff
Josh Gad: Olaf
Santino Fontana: Hans
Stephen John Anderson: Kai

Frozen (2013)

After a childhood accident nearly kills her younger sister, Princess Elsa has to hide to fact that she can produce ice by magic and isolates herself while trying to wrestle control over her immense power. As the time for her coronation approaches and a public appearance is unavoidable, the last thing she needs is any more stress. That’ll be when her sister tells her she’s marrying this dude she only met that day. Gaah!

8/10

Frozen has that rarest and most intangible of movie qualities: magic. This is the magic of Disney’s second golden age inspired by Howard Ashman and so it features songs that are integral to the storytelling. Why should it be that animation and songs go together so well and that the form is timeless? Anyway, it has never ceased to astonish me that directors saw songs as something that were bolted on to Disney’s past great animated movies. The songs, if used, are always part, indeed, I would say they were the heart, of the movie. They always tell you something, illuminate someone, touch you somewhere inside. The movie wouldn’t work without the songs (take note The Princess and The Frog). The power of the song is in telling the story, not augmenting it. Frozen realises this and the result is magic.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes

Highlights from Exodus 1-6

The Exodus account is one of the most famous in the Old Testament. There have been lots of books written about it and famous movies made about it. There’s another big Exodus movie coming this winter with Batman as Moses.

You see, to many, the book of Exodus appears to be a book about Moses. But it’s not. It’s deeper than that; and it’s all about God.

Exodus appears to be a book about legal minutia; about God getting into every orifice of your life with commandments and regulations and judicial decisions and stop telling me what to do. But it’s deeper than that. It’s a book that is setting up how completely unnecessary such detailed stipulations should be; something that would only be explained 1500 years later by Jesus Christ when he staggeringly condensed every law ever written into two sentences.

Exodus appears to be a book about Jehovah’s cruelty and violence. And, to be fair, Jehovah sure kills an awful lot of people. But it’s deeper than that. Each of the estimated 810,600 (Drunk With Blood, God’s Killings in the Bible by Steve Wells) deaths in Exodus was avoidable – indeed some Egyptians did – and they were a clear consequence of someone ignoring Jehovah’s warning. Exodus shows how Jehovah gives men free will to make their own choices – even if they choose punishment and death.

Perhaps surprisingly, Exodus also gives us insight into Jehovah’s tender feelings.

For example: what does Exodus 3:7-10 teach us about Jehovah?

“Jehovah added: “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their outcry because of those who force them to work; I well know the pains they suffer. I will go down to rescue them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a land good and spacious, a land flowing with milk and honey, the territory of the Ca′naan·ites, the Hit′tites, the Am′or·ites, the Per′iz·zites, the Hi′vites, and the Jeb′u·sites. Now look! The outcry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen also the harsh way that the Egyptians are oppressing them. Now come, I will send you to Phar′aoh, and you will bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” ”

These verses reveal that Jehovah is a deeply concerned and caring God, not just about himself, not just about his name but also about his people. He says “I well know the pains they suffer.” What does the expression “I well know” imply to you? Barnes’ Notes on the Bible comments that “I well know” implies personal feeling, tenderness, and compassion. But Exodus demonstrates that Jehovah does more than simply look with pity or hear with compassion. He is moved to act.

Obviously, he did this with the rescue and migration of Israel out of Egypt. But Jehovah’s compassion is also demonstrated on a more subtle and personal level.

Look at Exodus 6:9-13:

“Moses later gave this message to the Israelites, but they did not listen to Moses because of their discouragement and because of the harsh slavery. Then Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying: “Go in and tell Phar′aoh, Egypt’s king, that he should send the Israelites away out of his land.” However, Moses replied to Jehovah: “Look! The Israelites have not listened to me; how will Phar′aoh ever listen to me, as I speak with difficulty?” But Jehovah again told Moses and Aaron what commands to give to the Israelites and to Phar′aoh, Egypt’s king, in order to bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.”

Jehovah didn’t cruelly abandon or intolerantly criticise or violently destroy the Israelites for their lack of faith but compassionately understood their situation and spoke positively to them about how he was going to make the future better.

Jehovah wasn’t infuriated by Moses negative vibes and patiently reiterated his instructions and, to help him, went on to detail precisely what to say and how Pharaoh would react.

Today, too, we can be sure that Jehovah cares for us deeply; he knows the pains we suffer, he knows the pressures we are under and he is moved to act in our behalf. He speaks positively to us about how He will make the future better and, to help us, gives us the Bible and Christian fellowship.

Exodus appears to be about certain things; many presume that it’s about Moses. But it’s not. It’s about God and it’s deeper and more meaningful than Hollywood and, perhaps, we might imagine.

Other highlights from Exodus 1 to 6?

Exodus 4:20. Now Moses’ sons could have been almost 40 years old at this point. “Then Moses took his wife and his sons and lifted them onto a donkey.” How big was this donkey?

5. What does Exodus 3:7-10 teach us about Jehovah? [Mar. 31, w09 3/1 p. 15 pars. 3-6] These verses reveal that Jehovah is a deeply concerned and caring God. The expression “I well know” implies personal feeling, tenderness, and compassion. Furthermore, Jehovah does not simply look with pity or hear with compassion. He is moved to act. Today, we can be sure that Jehovah cares for us deeply, he knows the pains we suffer, and he is moved to act in our behalf. (1 Pet. 5:7)

6. How did Jehovah live up to one aspect of the meaning of his name in the days of Moses? (Ex. 3:14, 15) [Mar. 31, w13 3/15 pp. 25-26 pars. 5-6] Jehovah lived up to one aspect of the meaning of his name by proving to be Israel’s Deliverer, by punishing Egypt with ten plagues, and by showing that Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods were powerless. (Ex. 12:12) After leading Israel safely through the Red Sea, Jehovah destroyed Pharaoh and his army. (Ps. 136:13-15) In the wilderness, Jehovah kept millions of Israelites alive, and he even caused their clothes and sandals not to wear out. Nothing can stop Jehovah from fulfilling his word. (Deut. 29:5)

Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Sad Cypress (2003) – 7/10 period murder mystery detective drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: David Pirie
Elizabeth Dermot Walsh: Elinor Carlisle
Rupert Penry-Jones: Roddy Winter
Kelly Reilly: Mary Gerard
Paul McGann: Dr. Peter Lord
Phyllis Logan: Nurse Hopkins
Producer: Margaret Mitchell
Director: David Moore
Actor and Associate Producer: David Suchet

Agatha Christie’s Poirot Sad Cypress (2003)

A poison pen letter is brought to Poirot’s attention and though he takes it very seriously, it’s not enough to get a body exhumed for further investigation. Shortly thereafter, a murder is committed and Poirot returns only to fall short once more as a woman is sentenced to death for a crime only she had the means, motive and opportunity to commit. Yet the little grey cells refuse to settle.

7/10

"I am thirty-six times an idiot!" – Hercule Poirot

This is a nicely staged production with a good sense of atmosphere and a beautifully-judged pace. There is just enough information given to the audience for them to have worked out the mechanics of the murder themselves but no way for them to derive the motive. This isn’t a mystery where everywhere has means, motive and opportunity – only one has; Poirot’s challenge is to see that there was, in fact, another. The screenwriter’s challenge is to help the audience see that and what he does is quite interesting. Though the clues regarding the true murder are there, the audience is highly unlikely to perceive them. The only reason they will consider that Elinor Carlisle isn’t guilty is because whomever we are told is guilty in these murder mysteries is always innocent. And so, unlike Poirot, we don’t need to find another motive because we already presume that she is innocent.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains unexpectedly unpleasant nightmare scene

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

PS3 vs Xbox 360 and PS4 versus Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 is better than Xbox One  Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes

Seventh Generation

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • 360 better  Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes