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

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – 7/10 superhero action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Anthony Russo
Director: Joe Russo
Screenplay Writer: Christopher Markus
Screenplay Writer: Stephen McFeely
Concept and Story Writer: Ed Brubaker
Writer (Original Comic Book Series): Joe Simon
Writer (Original Comic Book Series): Jack Kirby
Steve Rogers / Captain America: Chris Evans
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson
Sebastian Stan: Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
Cobie Smulders: Maria Hill
Emily VanCamp: Sharon Carter / Agent 13
Toby Jones: Arnim Zola
Jenny Agutter: World Security Council member
Robert Redford: Alexander Pierce
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Increasingly unhappy with his role as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s "furious janitor", Steve Rogers finds his unease increasing as he is clearly being left in the dark about something by Nick Fury. When Fury confides in him about Project Insight (making Rogers about the last to know after the 100,000 employees that must have been involved), his fears are confirmed and action will need to be taken.

7/10

Even though the title is never explained, this is a vastly more interesting super-hero movie than expected with the character of Captain America being forced to bring his ideals to bear when the organisation he works for demonstrates that it has failed to live up to them: he has to bring the American way of truth, justice and liberty to an America that has become the bad guy. Impressively, the character and drama of the movie is fine; what lets it down is the action. It’s all frenetic cuts just before your visual comprehension is complete and endless, meaningless, impactless super-punching (even when you’re not a superhuman). None of the action is resolved with wit (though the elevator scene shows wit before the action starts and Jenny Agutter gets a good moment), imagination or even any sense of tactics or expertise. Just super-punching. This is normal for Hollywood at this time and the action doesn’t spoil the movie; it’s more that the movie might have been a classic if the action was good instead of largely forgettable.

This movie contains extended extreme violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Links

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – 8/10 science-fiction action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
For: Gene Roddenberry
Director and Screenplay Writer: Nicholas Meyer
Kirk: William Shatner
Spock: Leonard Nimoy
DeForest Kelley: McCoy
James Doohan: Scotty
Walter Koenig: Chekov
Nichelle Nichols: Uhuru
George Takei: Sulu
Mark Lenard: Sarek
David Warner: Chancellor Gorkon
Kim Cattrall: Lt. Valeris
Rosana DeSoto: Azetbur
Christopher Plummer: Chang
Dedicated To and Original Series Creator STAR TREK: Gene Roddenberry
Story Writer: Lawrence Konner
Story Writer: Mark Rosenthal
Actor, Executive Producer and Story Writer: Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay Writer: Denny Martin Flinn
Producer: Ralph Winter
Producer: Steven-Charles Jaffe

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

When a disaster on Praxis, an important energy-producing moon, faces the Klingon race with the choice of military expenditure or survival as a species, they call to the Federation to arrange a peace. Three months from retirement, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are sent as a figurative olive branch to escort the Klingon Ambassador to Earth. After a less-than-successful diplomatic meal aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is rudely awoken by the sound of Enterprise firing on the Ambassador’s ship and his subsequent assassination. In the absence of the actual killers, Kirk and McCoy are arrested and put on trial.

8/10

"Nice to see you in action, one more time, Captain Kirk." – Captain Sulu

In what must be a unique cinematic event, the original Star Trek cast literally sign off from their motion picture series and must have been deservedly proud that it was done with this spectacular and interesting, generally well paced and smart movie. Boasting social commentary, courtroom drama, murder mystery intrigue, one of the greatest beards in movie history (Kurtwood Smith), a prison escape, a dude who doesn’t have knees where his knees are and a classic space battle resolved with intellect (and a lot of photon torpedoes, admittedly), The Undiscovered Country is a terrific movie with a lot to like. Not included in that list would be Kim Cattrall who threatens to undermine everything with her lack of acting ability. Generally, though, the movie is handled surely by Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer and is headlined by wonderful work from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. It certainly was nice to see them in action one more time.

This movie contains graphic violence, gory scenes, unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

PC vs PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: The Lego Movie Videogame

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 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal  The Lego Movie Videogame

Genesis 31: Don’t Mess With Women on Their Periods

After 20 years in his father-in-law Laban’s service, under instruction from God, Jacob wants to return to his father, Isaac, and his homeland. Because God had been looking after Jacob and cheerfully reversing Laban’s attempts to cheat Jacob, Laban’s attitude toward his son-in-law had cooled. Laban didn’t like Jacob; Laban’s sons didn’t like Jacob.

Because Laban has a habit of putting several years’ worth of obstacles and random women in his way, Jacob is going to leave as surreptitiously as possible.

“Moreover, Jacob outwitted La′ban the A·ra·mae′an, for he had not told him that he was running away.” – Genesis 31:20

Well, “outwitted” is probably putting it a bit strong.

“Now La′ban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole the teraphim statues that belonged to her father.” – Genesis 31:19

On their way out, Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel steals her father Laban’s idols. These were extremely important; it’s thought that they represented the estate and whoever owned them could lay claim to it. Quite why she took them isn’t terribly clear.

“On the third day, La′ban was told that Jacob had run away. So he took his brothers with him and pursued him for a journey of seven days and caught up with him in the mountainous region of Gil′e·ad”. – Genesis 31:22,23

The idols were so important that Laban chased after Jacob (who had a 3 day headstart) for 7 days.

“Then God came to La′ban the A·ra·mae′an in a dream by night and said to him: “Be careful about what you say to Jacob, either good or bad.” ”- Genesis 31:24

They were so important that Laban ignored a warning from Almighty God himself to basically leave Jacob well alone.

“It is in my power to do harm to you.” – Genesis 31:29a

They were so important that Laban was ready to kill Jacob to retrieve them.

“Anyone with whom you find your gods will not live. Before our brothers, examine what I have, and take what is yours.” But Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.” – Genesis 31:32

Jacob, who knew nothing of the theft, suggests that Laban search the entire camp so that he can kill the thief. This seems like an entirely reasonable suggestion to Laban; the idols were so important that he would kill whoever stole his belongings.

“So La′ban went into the tent of Jacob and into the tent of Le′ah and into the tent of the two slave girls, but did not find them. Then he came out of Le′ah’s tent and went into Rachel’s tent. Meanwhile, Rachel had taken the teraphim statues and put them in the woman’s saddle basket of the camel, and she was sitting on them.”- Genesis 31:33-34a

He finally storms into Rachel’s tent where she’s put them in a saddle bag which she is sitting on.

He searches Rachel’s tent. He comes to the saddle bags that Rachel is sitting on. She doesn’t get up.

Here is a man who has stormed across country for seven days. Here is a man who has defied the advice of God. Here is a man who is prepared to kill whoever stole his belongings.

“Then she said to her father: “Do not be angry, my lord, because I am not able to get up before you, for the customary thing with women is upon me.” ” – Genesis 31:35a

More colloquially: “Pardon me, but I’m on my period and I’m not moving.”

“So La′ban searched through the whole tent but did not find them. … So he searched on carefully but did not find the teraphim statues.” – Genesis 31:34b, 35b

Here is a man who has stormed across country for seven days. Here is a man who has defied the advice of God. Here is a man who is prepared to kill whoever stole his belongings.

“Then La′ban departed and returned home.” – Genesis 31:55

Here is a man who knows not to argue with a woman on her period.

PS3 vs Xbox 360 Head-to-Head Face Off: Dark Souls II

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  Dark Souls II

Always (1989) – 8/10 fantasy action romance Steven Spielberg movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay Writer: Jerry Belson
Writer (Original Screenplay) “A Guy Named Joe”: Dalton Trumbo
Writer (Original Screenplay Adaptation) “A Guy Named Joe”: Frederick Hazlitt Brennan
Writer (Original Screen Story) “A Guy Named Joe”: Chandler Sprague
Writer (Original Screen Story) “A Guy Named Joe”: David Boehm
Richard Dreyfuss: Pete Sandich
Holly Hunter: Dorinda Durston
John Goodman: Al Yackey
Brad Johnson: Ted Baker
Audrey Hepburn: Hap
Producer: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Frank Marshall
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
Music: John Williams

Always (1989)

Fire fighting pilot Pete saves best friend Al’s life by sacrificing his own. He is sent back by an angel to help influence the life of another trainee fire-fighting pilot, Ted Baker. However, a chance meeting by this trainee reintroduces Pete to his former love, Dorinda. Will he concentrate on his duty or will he make a futile attempt to rekindle his long-lost romance?

8/10

This is a forgotten Spielberg; a gem awaiting your discovery. This is an emotionally engaging fantasy romance with some good humour and outstanding action. It’s certainly not above criticism as it’s not consistently convincing and the Dreyfuss-Hunter romance for the first part of the movie feels lifted from an animated movie. However, all of the action sequences are extremely thrilling and spectacular, there are a number of lovely scenes and the climax works emotionally. Also, Always contains a mighty Hitler moustache gag that you probably won’t ever see again in a Spielberg movie.

This movie contains mild adult dialogue, mild bad language, mild unpleasant scenes and Holly Hunter in adorably chunky white socks

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

PC vs PS3 vs PS4 vs Xbox 360 vs Xbox One: Strider and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

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.

  • PC DVD ROM logo 75x16Xbox One / PS4 equal  Strider

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 PS3 equal and better than Wii U  Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2
  • 360 better  FIFA 14
  • 360 better  Grand Theft Auto V
  • 360 better  Strider

Brave: A Warrior’s Tale (2009, 360) – 5/10 action game review

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Cast / crew

Brave: A Warrior’s Tale (2009)

HD remake of Brave: The Search for the Spirit Dancer

5/10

An HD remake of a PS2 game (Brave: The Search for the Spirit Dancer) before people really took care over them, this keeps the graphics and ups the resolution but messes up the frame rate. This technical inadequacy coupled with poor camera programming and a few bugs (one requiring your save to be restarted) can give one a poor impression and certainly contributed to the fairly hateful contemporary review scores. Shame, as the core game design is fine; a Native American God of War without the gore. It’s mostly fun enough, it’s always giving you something to do with a little tweak on what you’ve already learned, the story is good enough, the lead character Brave is enthusiastic, the art direction is good and it remains one of the only games to even attempt to use the striking potential of Native American mythology. It also has the joint most valuable achievement on 360 with 500G for completing the game.

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012) – 6/10 drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Eric Altmayer
Producer: Nicolas Altmayer
Fabrice Luchini: Germain
Kristin Scott Thomas: Jeanne
Emmanuelle Seigner: Esther
Denis Ménochet: Rapha pere
Ernst Umhauer: Claude
Bastien Ughetto: Rpha fils
Jean-François Balmer: Le proviseur
Writer (Original Play) El Chico de la Ultimate Fila: Juan Mayorga
Adaptor and Director Adapted from the play “El Chico de la Ultimate Fila” by Juan Mayorga: François Ozon

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012)

A French teacher sees a spark of talent in one of his students, Claude, when an essay about what Claude did at the weekend hooks his interest. (to be continued…)

6/10

This is an interesting movie in that it gives you something to think about but it rather takes its time and, while never boring, feels longer than it is. As is consistently the case with François Ozon, the performances are sublime. Ernst Umhauer is all kinds of unsettling as the ‘boy in the last row’ (the title of the play which this is adapted from) whose installments of prose regarding a perfect family he has insinuated himself into form the thrust of the narrative. Eventually, it is impossible to tell which parts of the film are meant to be written and which real; there’s probably a very good case to be made that the whole thing is an invention, an exercise, by Claude to give a back story to the homeless dude sitting on the park bench at the end. I suspect that if you had a friend smarter and more observant than me, you could have a most rewarding evening discussing this movie after you’ve watched it. As a final note, the opening cast and title credits are particularly well done.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, violence, nudity, sex scene, unpleasant scene

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Welcome to The Space Show (2010) – 7/10 science fiction fantasy adventure anime movie review

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Cast / crew
Creator and Director: Koji Masunari
Creator and Screenplay Writer: Hideyuki Kurata
Creator: Tomonori Ochikoshi
Tomoyo Kurosawa: Natsuki Koyama
Honoka Ikezuka: Amane Suzuki
Shotaro Uzawa: Kiyoshi Sato
Tamaki Matsumoto: Noriko Nishimura
Takuto Yoshinaga: Koji Harada
Keiji Fujiwara: Pochi Rickman

Welcome to The Space Show (2010)

Summer camp is going to be a bigger adventure than anyone ever dreamed when a group of friends go in search of a rabbit they lost and find an injured dog.

7/10

Fun, happy adventure movie brimming with invention. The finalé is confusing (a bad guy’s personal shield explodes because he’s told there’s good in him?) but it feels like good is battling bad and good wins; what more do you need to know? The film connects enough emotionally that the goodbyes and final bike ride, especially, are touching and boasts enough dazzling diversions that attention is generally distracted from the rather baffling plot.

This movie contains violence

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e06 The Chocolate Box (1993) – 7/10 period detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer (Original Short Story): Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Writer (Dramatisation): Douglas Watkinson
Rosalie Crutchley: Madame Deroulard
Anna Chancellor: Virginie Mesnard
Director: Ken Grieve

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e06 The Chocolate Box (1993)

Poirot returns to Belgium for the first time in years to accompany Japp who is being honoured by the Belgian government. While there, Poirot is reminded of a case that didn’t go his way and he decides that the time is right to reveal the truth.

7/10

It’s terrific to see a young Poirot skilfully brought to life by David Suchet with his normal weight and gait and a bit of running around and a bit of extra hair on the toupé. Dramatiser Douglas Watkinson does well in structuring the story and there’s plenty to like, especially with Poirot as a burgler and his constant lack of discretion. I did chuckle happily at the scene where Poirot is asked for, not by name but, "by moustache." Even though Hastings isn’t here, there’s a lovely feeling of friendship with Poirot accompanying Japp to an award ceremony in Belgium. While the setting and atmosphere are terrific, the colour blindness that is at the heart of the detective story climax doesn’t convince. Even if pink looks green and green looks pink, couldn’t you still tell whether a lid and a box were the same colour? Regardless, a good episode.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Killzone: Shadow Fall (2013) – 9/10 science fiction FPS game review

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Cast / crew

Killzone: Shadow Fall (2013)

About thirty years after the end of the Second Helghan War with Helghan rendered uninhabitable by a Vektan bomb, Vektans and Helghans have been living on Vekta; each occupying half the planet, separated by a massive wall. As tensions reach boiling point, New Helghan makes another attempt at taking out their enemies once and for all.

9/10

Oddly received with a desultory sniff by contemporary critics overeager to prove themselves unswayed by beautiful graphical fidelity and excitement over a new console, this is the best in the series to date. Shadow Fall features an expertly balanced campaign with some varied, thrilling, kinetic battles and enough exploration, easy sections and down time to allow you to savour the intense bits. The main criticism seemed to be that this first-person shooter was a first-person shooter and, to be fair, it is absolutely a first-person shooter. For me, it sometimes gave me the good feeling of earlier PC shooters where there would be more to the level than your objective and numerous strategic options for getting into and out of skirmishes. The ridiculous end credits crawl is unquestionably the longest for any entertainment media ever at over half-an-hour; it’s possible every human being on the planet is listed but you’ll have killed yourself before it reaches your name. Or skipped it; whatever.

This game contains strong gory violence

Classified 18+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for adults who have reached the age of 18 or over..

Wreck-It Ralph (2013) – 6/10 video-game fantasy Disney animated movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Story Writer Sour Bill and Zangief: Rich Moore
Producer: Clark Spencer
Actor, Screenplay and Story Writer Surge Protector: Phil Johnston
Story Supervisor and Story Writer: Jim Reardon
Screenplay Writer: Jennifer Lee
Supervising Animator: Doug Bennett
Supervising Animator: Mark Alan Mitchell
Supervising Animator: Zach A. Parrish
Supervising Animator: Tony Smeed
Actor and Additional Story Material Ralph: John C. Reilly
Sarah Silverman: Vanellope
Jack McBrayer: Felix
Jane Lynch: Calhoun
Alan Tudyk: King Candy
Mindy Kaling: Taffyta Muttonfudge
Joe Lo Truglio: Markowski
Ed O’Neill: Mr. Litwak
Dennis Haysbert: General Hologram
Additional Story Material: Sam Levine
Additional Story Material: Jared Stern

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Unhappy with his lonely role as the bad guy in arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr, Wreck-It Ralph decides that he wants a gold medal just like game heroes. Trouble is, he’s going to have to go to another game to get it.

6/10

One thing that can be said for just about all animated films: their lead characters almost always have a clearly defined character arc. Trouble is, it’s almost always undisguisedly the same one. Wreck-It Ralph follows the finding yourself template but doesn’t present a particularly captivating world. It moves along prettily but mechanically. It peaks with an impressively powerful scene where Ralph learns that he must do something short-term bad to ensure long-term good. The emotional impact of that scene contrasts intriguingly with the traditional emotional climax which is entirely unmoving. Wreck-It Ralph is never less than colourful and polished and entertaining – it is a good film – but it’s not a classic.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes, bad language

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

PC vs PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

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.

  • PC DVD ROM logo 75x16PS4 logo 75x16  Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Haywire (2011) – 6/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director, Director of Photography and Editor: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
1st Assistant Director and Producer: Gregory Jacobs
Gina Carano: Mallory
Michael Fassbender: Paul
Ewan McGregor: Kenneth
Bill Paxton: Mr. Kane
Channing Tatum: Aaron
Mathieu Kassovitz: Studer
Michael Angarano: Scott
Antonio Banderas: Rodrigo
Michael Douglas: Coblenz

Haywire (2011)

Private sector security professional Mallory Kane finds herself double-crossed after a job in Barcelona that goes completely according to plan. While confused and in the dark, she knows that if she keeps following the trail back up the chain of command and hits everything on the way, there should be answers and freedom at the end of it.

6/10

The name Steven Soderbergh gets snobby critics all a-quiver and so they found themselves a little disappointed when he appeared to just deliver a shallow action movie. What he really delivered was a shallow action movie with a completely convincing female action lead; it may turn out to be unique. Though her facial expression never seems to change, Gina Carano’s acting is enough and she certainly has a bit of charisma. Her action scenes, though, are consistently excellent; convincing and engaging. There’s an ebb and flow to them as upper hands are taken and tables are turned by each combatant with the final victory always being hard won through diligent appliance of their skill-set. The main thing that stops it from being a better action movie is a complete lack of triumph or cool but that’s not Carano’s fault, it’s Soderbergh’s.

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Mission: Impossible (1996) – 7/10 espionage action movie review

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Cast / crew
Ethan Hunt: Tom Cruise
Jon Voight: Jim Phelps
Emmanuelle Beart: Claire
Henry Czerny: Kittridge
Jean Reno: Krieger
Ving Rhames: Luther
Kristin Scott Thomas: Sarah Davies
Vanessa Redgrave: Max
Story Writer: David Koepp
Story Writer: Steven Zaillian
Screenplay Writer: David Koepp
Screenplay Writer: Robert Towne
Director: Brian De Palma

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Ethan Hunt is a member of an IMF, Impossible Mission Force, under the control of Jim Phelps. One night in Prague an operation goes badly wrong leaving his life in the balance. His mission, which he must accept, is to regain his pride and freedom. This plot will self-destruct in five seconds…

7/10

Action thriller that impresses, bores and excites in equal measure and boasts the impossible. Director Brian De Palma delivers three classic action sequences but the movie flags in between. He has an inate ability to make action sequences seem like ballet; his explosions and stunts look like beautifully choreographed dance sequences. He handles the wildly impossible situations with some panache and lends the film an air of authority despite the ridiculousness of some of the sequences. The opening of the movie through to the beautiful, iconic restaurant escape is essentially perfect. The second action sequence is also instantly iconic; a tense, near-silent break-in at the CIA defeating temperature, sonic and pressure sensors. The third action sequence is an astonishing visual effects masterpiece which holds up as well today nearly twenty years later as it did at the time. It, and an excellent Mission: Impossible theme remix, leaves the movie on a massive high.

This movie contains mild swear words, mild sensuality, unpleasant and gory scenes, violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – 6/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay Writer Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
Producer: Chris Columbus
Producer: Mark A. Radcliffe
Writer (Original Novel): J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
Julie Christie: Madame Rosmerta
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Professor Albus Dumbledore: Michael Gambon
Vernon Dursley: Richard Griffiths
Sirius Black: Gary Oldman
Professor Severus Snape: Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley: Fiona Shaw
Professor Minverva McConagall: Maggie Smith
Peter Pettigrew: Timothy Spall
Professor Lupin: David Thewlis
Professor Sybil Trelawney: Emma Thompson

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

After finally losing his temper and using his magic outside of the school at his foster family, Harry Potter is somewhat surprised at the lack of punishment. The whole thing is just cleaned up and he is allowed to return to Hogwarts. The only thing he finds out is that Sirius Black, the first ever escapee from the feared Azkaban prison, has got all the wizard’s fearful for Potter’s safety but they are confident that Hogwarts, guarded by the horrific Dementers, is the best place for Harry.

6/10

A step backwards as this film loses the humanity of the previous instalment. The visuals are less impressive and John Williams’ off-the-peg music is conspicuously bland but the biggest problem is director Alfonso Cuarón’s completely flat handling of all the material.

This movie contains strong violence, scary scenes, strong unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002) – 8/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Chris Columbus
Screenplay Writer Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
Writer (Original Novel): J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
Kenneth Branagh: Gilderoy Lockhart
Nearly Headless Nick: John Cleese
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Professor Filius Flitwick: Warwick Davis
Vernon Dursley: Richard Griffiths
Professor Albus Dumbledore: Richard Harris
Lucius Malfoy: Jason Isaacs
Professor Severus Snape: Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley: Fiona Shaw
Professor Minverva McConagall: Maggie Smith
Molly Weasley: Julie Walters

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Unhappily existing at his Muggle family anxious to return to Hogwart’s, Harry Potter is visisted by a house elf who’s mission is to stop him attending this year at all costs. Despite the elf’s best efforts, Harry manages to get to school but he might wish he hadn’t as petrified animals and students and writing in blood on the walls warn of the re-opening of the legendary Chamber of Secrets and the unleashing of the horror within.

8/10

Significantly better than the first episode with vastly improved special effects, more interesting photography and lots of ideas and good moments. Kenneth Branagh steals the show as a superstar wizard, Jason Isaacs is good value as what will hopefully be a recurring character but the two male leads, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, provide the movies’ unshakable heart and soul.

This movie contains intense scary scenes, violence, strong unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001) – 6/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Chris Columbus
Screenplay Writer Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
Writer (Original Novel): J.K. Rowling
Executive Producer: Mark A. Radcliffe
Executive Producer: Michael Barnathan
Executive Producer: Duncan Henderson
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
John Cleese: Nearly Headless Nick
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Vernon Dursley: Richard Griffiths
Professor Albus Dumbledore: Richard Harris
Ian Hart: Professor Quirrell
Lord Voldemort: Ian Hart
Ollivander: John Hurt
Professor Severus Snape: Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley: Fiona Shaw
Professor Minverva McConagall: Maggie Smith

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

6/10

Solid start to the massively lucrative franchise that sees plenty of ideas clearly and carefully placed on the big screen by director Chris Columbus. He makes the film a little too slow and even, clumsily lumps John Williams music on and doesn’t have access to state-of-the-art visual effects (CG replacements for the actors are particularly noticeable) but doesn’t make the mistake of making a bad film. With this first year of Hogwart’s safely sorted, a foundation is laid for the remainder of the series.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – 6/10 espionage drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Kathryn Bigelow
Producer and Writer: Mark Boal
Producer: Megan Ellison
Jessica Chastain: Maya
Jason Clarke: Dan
Joel Edgerton: Patrick-Squadron Team Leader
Jennifer Ehle: Jessica
Mark Strong: George
Kyle Chandler: Joseph Bradley
Edgar Ramirez: Larry from Ground Branch
James Gandolfini: C.I.A. Director

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

The success of the 9/11 attacks in 2011 make Osama bin Laden the most wanted man on Earth but billions of dollars and many years later, he continues to elude the C.I.A. One agent, Maya, believes the key is tracking bin Laden’s courier but he seems to have become just as much of a ghost as bin Laden himself.

6/10

Inexplicably long and only mildly compelling but highly watchable espionage drama with high production quality. It should build to its expertly staged infiltration sequence (it has completely convincing helicopter work and the night-time setting is brilliantly and clearly photographed) but it doesn’t. It feels like it paces up and down for a couple of hours; there’s no tension or convincing detective work and no illumination of the process. It never feels like pieces fall into place or intelligence is followed. It also doesn’t feel like ten years pass from beginning to end. There’s an ostentatious underplaying; wearing seriousness and authenticity at the expense of drama and suspense.

This movie contains sexual swear words, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, torture and mistreatment scenes, nudity

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012, PC) – 8/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Additional Design and Head of Studio: Ian Bell
Additional Design and Development Director: Andy Garton
Additional Design and Chief Operations Officer: Stephen Viljoen
Creative Director: Andy Tudor
Producer: Suzy Wallace
Technical Director: Ged Keaveney
Audio Director and Composer: Stephen Baysted
Sound Designer: Greg Hill

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012)

8/10

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends is yet another game unlovingly belched out by Atari before it was quite ready. Yet despite the sometimes iffy frame rate and PS1-era pop-up on Spa, a rough diamond shines through. This is a challenging but visceral and satisfying game with fun handling on Normal, attention-demanding on Pro; communicative on both. It really showcases the differences in performance characteristics between road and race cars and between generations. There is also an unusually accurate sense of speed in that your speeds feels different when you are travelling fast or slow. A lot of car games always feel like they’re going at a million miles per hour regardless of the car you’re in (see Grid 2). There are a number of tracks we’ve never driven in an officially licensed commercially available product such as Rouen and Enna Pergusa; there’s a welcome return for old Hockenheim, sort-of old Imola, old Silverstone and a top fantasy track in Misty Loch. The career mode throws up a pleasing variety of tasks and is surprisingly satisfying, especially once Mansley shows up. On Hard difficulty and Pro handling, this is an entertaining handful and a very stern challenge but there are three difficulty levels and two handling models to ensure that your time with the game is satisfying and fun.

This game contains