Prince of Persia (2008, Third-Person Platform Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Senior Producer: Bertrand Helias
Producer: Ben Mattes
Creative Director: Jean-Christophe Guyot
Art Director: Mickael Labat
Lead Programmer: Charles Jacob
Lead Programmer Gameplay: Cyril Meynier
Director Narrative: Andrew Walsh
Lead Game Designer: Thomas Delbuguet
Lead Game Designer: Kevin Guillemette
Level Design Director: Francois Emery
Nolan North: The Prince
Kari Wahlgren: Elika
Music: Stuart Chatwood
Music: Inon Zur

Prince of Persia (2008)

Some dude wandering the desert thanks to a sand storm and a wayward donkey carrying his treasure runs into Elika, a princess. He’s just in time to see her father release Ahriman, a dark god, who plummets the land into corruption and only Elika, who has mysterious light powers, can stop him. With the dude’s help, of course. Sorry, nearly forgot that; I’m sure he’s vital.

6/10

Unusually and impressively looking like incredible concept art rendered directly onto your screen, this Prince of Persia has the odd feeling of a project completely redesigned late into it’s life. While tiny heads on all our characters, super-human feats performed by our human hero (who appears to be not needed by the story though a spectacular climax does interestingly justify his presence SPOILER because he is needed to resurrect Elika; he takes exactly the same course of action as the father, for the same reason and note how both Gods keep saying the same thing; the gameplay didn’t need him but the climax of the story did), an inconsistent tone that doesn’t fit the genre or seriousness of each situation and a making-tosh-up-as-we-see-fit story can be overlooked, the game completely misses the mark with unresponsive and uncertain controls that never quite consistently coalescence into fluent awesomeness. This problem becomes critical during the occasional combat sequences as the controls become even more unresponsive and unpredictable. Music’s good, though.

This game contains mild adult dialogue and blade violence, fantasy violence, unpleasant fantasy scenes.

Links

House M.D. 6.02 Epic Fail (2009, Medical Black Comedy Drama TV) – 6/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Creator: David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Rick D. Wasserman:
Freda Foh Shen:
Andre Braugher: Dr. Darryl Nolan
Producer: Marcy G. Kaplan
Producer: Sara Hess
Supervising Producer: Liz Friedman
Co-Executive Producer: Greg Yaitanes
Writer: Sara Hess
Writer: Liz Friedman
Director: Greg Yaitanes

House M.D. 6.02 Epic Fail (2009)

House quits his job at Princeton aware that returning will likely lead him to undo all the progress he’s made. So he turns his attention to possible hobbies (apparently he doesn’t need money) to use as pain management for his leg. Meanwhile, Foreman demands House’s job even when Cuddy points out that House’s job only existed because House did it.

6/10

It never ceases to amaze me how poor the understanding of videogames is by television and movie creators. So here we have some unloved Nineties technology dressed up with a side order of daft future tech (such as facial expressions mirrored onto player avatars) used in the set-up to the patient-of-the-week and then later revisited as a hallucinogenic symptom. Foreman inherits House’s job when House decides not to return to the environment that got him into his current situation and immediately sets about taking the patient to the brink of death before hitting upon the medical solution. It’s easy to overlook, however, that the writers did allow Foreman to get the solution himself, legitimately, even though, as expected, SPOILER House had got there earlier that day just by looking at a posting on the internet. I am never convinced by grumpy Foreman – Omar Epps always seems to overplay that – but the relationship between him and Thirteen was nicer and more interesting than expected. Best bit was House boasting that he’d got a dog to pee in Wilson’s toilet which, however you slice it, is awesome.

Links

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (2006, Third-Person Action RPG Game, PS3 exclusive) – 6/10 review

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (2006)

6/10

It looks quite nice (the characters fluttering cloaks and all the water / acid effects are superb and it does run in 720p unlike a lot of PS3 games) and all the pieces are there to make an entirely satisfactory action RPG. Sadly, that includes the traditional iffy camera that makes bosses much more difficult than they should be (indeed, the last boss is so not fun that I couldn’t be bothered to persist and defeat him) and the rest of the game consisting of splatting, quite enjoyably it has to be said, off-screen monsters.

This game contains extended extreme fantasy and supernatural violence, unpleasant scenes.

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

The Fountain (2006, Romantic Fantasy Drama Movie) – 6/10 review

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer (Screenplay): Darren Aronofsky
Writer (Story): Darren Aronofsky
Writer (Story): Ari Handel
Hugh Jackman: Tomas, Tommy, Tom Creo
Rachel Weisz: Isabel, Izzi Creo
Ellen Burstyn: Dr. Lillian Guzetti

Fountain, The (2006)

A conquistador attempts to force access to the temple of the Tree of Life. A scientist races to find a cure for his wife’s cancer and hits a breakthrough using material from a tree in Central America. A man and a tree in a bubble in space is traveling to a far nebula.

6/10

What is it about film directors’ personal films and getting their lead actors to shave their heads? That said, there is some real quality here, principally from Hugh Jackman, who really connects emotionally with the part and the audience. There is also a stand-out scene when his character uses the sap of the Tree of Life to repair a stab wound, the film generally looks quite striking and it’s definitely a film worthy of discussion for film students. It’s the kind of film that no-one in their right mind would green light as a commercial prospect but that 20th Century-Fox and Warner Bros. can be proud to have in their catalogue as an intriguing piece of art that works on a level higher than a series of images flickering before your eyes; a movie that should be made and watched, even if you don’t like it or understand it.

This movie contains a sexual swear word and graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, an unexpected sort-of-unpleasant scene and sexuality.

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

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008, Alternative History WWII First-Person Shooter Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008)

Without the charismatic leadership of Winston Churchill (who died in a car accident several years before), the German invasion of Europe has gone in favour of the Nazi’s and they’ve set their sights on America. A New York construction worker finds himself putting down his hammer and picking up sub-machine guns and putting the forces of evil back in their place.

6/10

Desperately unpolished and technically deficient first-person alternative history shooter. There’s no accuracy to the shooting, not because that is just the nature of the weapons, but because the game has wads of invisible scenery that you can’t shoot through surrounding every object in the game. It’s a big shame as the premise has potential (you see off a 1950’s Nazi invasion in New York, Washington D.C., and London; locations not available to traditional World War II games), the bomb-wiring mini-game works well and there’s something endlessly satisfying about putting down evil dictators who want to rule the world. It also has a certain old-school PC shooter charm and, being shorter than average but long enough, doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. A generous six, then.

This game contains bloodless gun violence, melee violence, occasional strong melee violence.

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

Hellboy: The Science of Evil (2008, Third-Person Action Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Ron Perlman: Hellboy
Jürgen Prochnow: Von Klempt
Lead Game Designer: Chris Palu

Hellboy: Science of Evil, The (2008)

Hellboy continues the fine tradition of punching evil Nazi’s until they stop trying to use the power of the occult for their own nefarious nastiness.

6/10

Though not a direct movie tie-in (it was released in the same year as Hellboy II: The Golden Army), this feels like one but, by and large, a good one. Though the boss battles are disagreeably protracted, the levels don’t flow as part of a worthless story badly told, animation takes precedence over slightly odd control (shoot is on the left trigger and your Y charge attack is frequently ignored), and poor collision detection means you can’t grab enemies or items unless you are exactly on the same level and where the game wants you to be, this game features good-looking enemies and environments, good length, decent voice work, good game animations and it’s all rather sensibly presented. Somewhat remarkably, however, Konami never released the whole game with two chapters and 160 gamerpoints missing from the retail disc and never made available as DLC. This is a shame as it’s clear that developer Krome Studios have put some love into this.

This game contains mild bad language and extended extreme stylised fantasy violence.

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

A Countess from Hong Kong (1966, Romantic Comedy Movie) – 6/10 review

Writer: Charles Chaplin
Director: Charles Chaplin
Marlon Brando: Ogden
Sophia Loren: Natascha
Sydney Chaplin: Harvey
Tippi Hedren: Martha
Patrick Cargill: Hudson
Margaret Rutherford: Miss Gaulswallow
Charles Chaplin: An Old Steward
Music Composer: Charles Chaplin

Countess from Hong Kong, A (1966)

A Russian countess stows away on a liner headed for America and complicates everyone’s life.

6/10

A mistakenly-cast Marlon Brando (original choice Rex Harrison would have worked a treat) catatonically drones his way through this romantic comedy which is otherwise smooth and good-looking (Sophia Loren in outsize pajamas, cool) but thin on both romance and comedy. This is Chaplin’s final movie as actor or director and it’s a shame he didn’t finish his career with Limelight.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Terminator: Salvation (2009, Third-Person Action Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Terminator: Salvation Terminator: Salvation (2009)

John Connor, a resistance fighter in a future war against machines, hot-headedly goes to rescue a fellow fighter stranded inside a Skynet facility against the orders of his commanding officer and knowing it’s likely a death sentence. But he’s human, not a machine, and the odds don’t matter when a life is at stake.

6/10

For everything Terminator: Salvation does right, the teammate AI does something wrong, typically stand in a really unhelpful place and never move. Play the game in human co-op, and the mild tactical requirements of gameplay (one of you has to distract an enemy while the other shoots it in a weak point, usually the back, and you must make use of cover) shine through and it’s good fun. The game is well enough presented, doesn’t spoil the movie and is simple to play. The Achievements are easy and the game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome; that’s to say, it’s short – about half the length of similar games – and you would be miffed if you paid full price for it. So rent it.

This Terminator: Salvation game contains mild gun violence.

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

N3: Ninety-Nine Nights (2006, Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Director: Sang Youn Lee
Producer: Tetsuya Mizuguchi
Creative Director: Henry Lee

N3: Ninety-Nine Nights (2006)

Inphyy and Aspharr leads the Knights into battle against the Goblins to prevent them obtaining and combining the Orbs of Light and Dark and bringing an apocalyptic ninety-nine days of darkness before taking over rulership of the world.

6/10

This is a badly-designed game with good, fun, spectacular, button-mashing, combo-learning gameplay. The most obvious, though excusable, barrier is a lack of checkpointing; you have to slog through a level then get instantly splatted by a fresh boss (rinse and repeat). Inexcusable is that the game is so badly designed it isn’t even hinted that you have to play through all eight characters to unlock a secret mission (for Inphyy) to actually finish the story and complete the game. This is a shame as all the characters are fun and different to play and some of their Orb Spark attacks are some of the most spectacular ever seen in video games. Special mention for some frequently outstanding music.

This game contains extended extreme but non-graphic and stylised violence.

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.

Lie To Me 1.09 Life Is Priceless (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Tim Roth: Dr. Cal Lightman
Kelli Williams: Dr. Gillian Foster
Brendan Hines: Eli Loker
Monica Raymund: Ria Torres
Writer (Creator): Samuel Baum
Shea Whigham:
Fredric Lehne:
Lauren Bowles:
Cheryl White:
Richard Brooks:
Co-Executive Producer: Dustin Thomason
Writer: Dustin Thomason
Director: Clark Johnson

Lie To Me 1.09 Life Is Priceless (2009)

Lightman and Dr. Foster assist a FEMA rescue attempt to try and clear up the truth as to the locations of three missing men. Loker and Torres get an offer they can’t refuse from a billionaire businessman who wants to know if his fiancée knew about his wealth before she met him.

6/10

Two consulting producers that appeared last week, disappear this week and the opening credits return (Brand New Day by Ryan Star). Odd. While the Lightman / Foster side of the episode is pretty unconvincing this time (they seem horribly out of place), series’ morals are explicitly stated toward the end which reminds us of how unusually positive Lie To Me is: lies are found out, lies beget harder lies, lies cause damage. It is extremely unusual for Western television shows to evangelise such commendable traits. American shows, in particular, tend to advocate selfishness and power, particularly in the context of treating comparable bodies with disdain (for example, the CSI treat police as stupid or doctors will treat police as stupid or old women will treat police as stupid).

Links

Lie To Me 1.05 Unchained (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Tim Roth: Dr. Cal Lightman
Kelli Williams: Dr. Gillian Foster
Brendan Hines: Eli Loker
Monica Raymund: Ria Torres
Writer (Creator): Samuel Baum
Paul Calderon:
Deirdre Lovejoy:
Brad Beyer:
Brett Rice:
Matt Bushell:
Troy Winbush:
Ross Thomas:
Supervising Producer: Josh Singer
Writer: Josh Singer
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

Lie To Me 1.05 Unchained (2009)

Lightman tries to assess whether an incarcerated gang leader has truly reformed. Dr. Foster looks into the death of a fireman.

6/10

While not a terribly good episode with transparent storylines lagging behind audience perception, Tim Roth does get to munch a burger in someone’s face and the climax involving the is-he-or-isn’t-he-reformed gangster works emotionally.

Links

Lie To Me 1.04 Love Always (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Tim Roth: Dr. Cal Lightman
Kelli Williams: Dr. Gillian Foster
Brendan Hines: Eli Loker
Monica Raymund: Ria Torres
Writer (Creator): Samuel Baum
Tom Verica:
Sean Patrick Thomas:
Tim Guinee: Alec Foster
Brian Tee:
Co-Executive Producer: Adam Davidson
Executive Producer: Steven Maeda
Executive Producer: Samuel Baum
Writer (Screenplay): Tom Szentgyorgyi
Writer (Story): Tom Szentgyorgyi
Writer (Story): Steven Maeda
Director: Tim Hunter

Lie To Me 1.04 Love Always (2009)

The whole team assist the Secret Service at the wedding of the son of a South Korean Ambassador when news of a possible political assassination is discovered.

6/10

Monica Raymund is certainly proving an irritant (oddly this would disappear once she started wearing her hair down, amazing) but the show is working. Just a single plot this week and while I was hoping that SPOILER the bride did it, there was plenty of entertaining hidden truths to reveal before finally getting to the real assassin.

This Lie To Me episode contains graphic gun violence.

Links

Lie To Me 1.02 Moral Waiver (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Tim Roth: Dr. Cal Lightman
Kelli Williams: Dr. Gillian Foster
Brendan Hines: Eli Loker
Monica Raymund: Ria Torres
Writer (Creator): Samuel Baum
Charles Parnell:
David Anders: Staff Sergeant Russell Scott
Supervising Producer: Josh Singer
Co-Executive Producer: Adam Davidson
Writer: Josh Singer
Director: Adam Davidson

Lie To Me 1.02 Moral Waiver (2009)

After debunking the latest polygraph with an egg and a babe, Lightman is requested to determine whether a female soldier who has accused her sergeant of rape is telling the truth or not. Dr. Foster investigates a charge of bribery against a high-school basketball player who is due to turn pro at the end of the year.

6/10

The information on micro-expressions and body language is fascinating, as are the real-world examples of such; fascinating enough to paper over the frustratingly routine framework and characterisation and clumsy portrayal of the micro-expressions and body language. That won’t last, however, so Lie To Me needs to add guile and subtlety to give it legs. It also seems anachronistic of Lightman to dismiss polygraph tests while his associate uses voice stress analysis (which has the exact same weakness) to help with the second case-of-the-week.

Links

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (2008, Game, PS3) – 6/10 review

Creative Director: Paul Hollywood
Director: Nigel Kershaw
Technical Director: Mark Lomas
Development Manager: Simon Benson

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (2008)

6/10

The problem for Evolution Studios was that the handling and sense of weight and inertia in the first Motorstorm was perfect. They’ve tweaked the handling considerably for this pretty sequel and… broken it. None of the vehicles now feel right, none of them handle predictably and they all feel like helium-filled clown cars where hitting a blade of grass sends your steel steed bouncing in the air and hitting anything bigger (including other vehicles) results in your car exploding. Despite this major, and eventually game-breaking, problem, the game is still absolutely thrilling to play and highly satisfying to win but there will come a point where the frustration outweighs the fun by too big a factor.

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

Links

24 Season Finale 7.23,24 Day 7: 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Mary Lynn Rajskub: Chloe O’Brian
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
Annie Wersching: FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Renee Walker
Colm Feore: Henry Taylor
Bob Gunton: Ethan Kanin
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Carlos Bernard: Tony Almeida
Elisha Cuthbert: Kim Bauer
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Will Patton: Alan Wilson
Co-Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Co-Executive Producer: Alex Gansa
Executive Producer: David Fury
Executive Producer: Manny Coto
Executive Producer: Jon Cassar
Executive Producer: Howard Gordon
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: David Fury
Writer: Alex Gansa
Writer (Screenplay): Howard Gordon
Writer (Story): Manny Coto
Writer (Story): Brannon Braga
Director: Jon Cassar

24 7.23,24 Day 7: 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM (2009)

Jack commandeers the van to facilitate Tony’s escape but he is unexpectedly taken along to be used to source more pathogen from his internal organs. Jack’s not terribly happy about this but in his massively weakened state there’s not a lot he can do about it.

6/10

Not as bad as feared after last week’s duff-‘un, and includes a great scene (at the opening of episode 24) where Jack struggles to get under a nearly closed garage door because his testicles are too enormous and, being made of steel, don’t squash. The Taylor’s get a brilliantly recognisable scene as Olivia confesses to them her misdeeds but, even though it’s a bit more serious than spilling orange juice on the cat, Sprague Grayden fails to convey anguish or much emotion of any kind. Fortunately, Colm Feore is unexpectedly scripted to SPOILER take his daughter’s side completely and Cherry Jones successfully sells her situation with a simultaneously stoic and hysterical reaction (an oxymoron, I know). The other big thing to resolve was whether Jack would survive or not and SPOILER it is left completely open. Looking at it, it’s a little surprising just how much is left unresolved. Overall, this season has been a good-‘un and has benefited from a reduction in frequency and graphicness of violence and torture. 24 doesn’t need it in order to be tense, thrilling, edge-of-the-sofa entertainment and, despite a weak climax, that’s certainly what this season has been.

This 24 episode contains mild swear words and graphic gun violence.

Links

Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (1998, Anime, TV) – 6/10 review

Director: Hiroki Hayashi
Writer (Screenplay): Chiaki Konaka
Writer (Screenplay): Sadayuki Murai
Production Designer: Shinji Aramaki
Character Design: Masaki Yamada
Original Design Hard Suit: Kenichi Sonoda
Production Designer Mechanical and Hard Suit: Shinji Aramaki
Christine Auten: English Voice Cast: Priss
Laura Chapman: English Voice Cast: Sylia
Kelly Manison: English Voice Cast: Linna
Hilary Haag: English Voice Cast: Nene
Yu Asakawa: Priss
Satsuki Yukino: Sylia
Rio Natsuki: Linna
Hiroko Konishi: Nene

Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (1998)

A Tokyo devastated by the earthquake has been rebuilt as MegaTokyo in record time thanks to amazing advances in boomer (robot) technology. However, such advances don’t come without a price and sometimes a boomer will go insane, twisting itself into a violent maelstrom of metal death. While the AD Police are the lawfully and commercially provided means of response a team of technologically-advanced vigilante boomer killers called Knight Sabers have exploded onto the scene, dealing rapidly with mad boomers, embarrassing and infuriating the AD Police at the same time.

6/10

Though this gets progressively weaker and more baffling as it goes on, it definitely earns itself an above average rating thanks to well-drawn characters that convincingly develop throughout the show both in themselves and their relationships with others. As well done as it is, oddly, it isn’t quite enough to make you care about the characters and so hanging their fate in the balance for the last few episodes is surprisingly uninvolving. Outside of the overall character arcs, episode seven Look at Yourself stood out as getting all the elements of the show (pretty girls, robots, intrigue and relationships) to gel but it was really the only one.

This series contains mild swear words and graphic violence, strong unpleasant scenes and full non-sexual nudity, sensuality.

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

House M.D. 5.24 Both Sides Now (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Ashton Holmes: Scott
Maria Thayer: Annie
Jennifer Crystal Foley: Rachel Taub
Carl Reiner: Eugene Schwartz
Co-Executive Producer: Doris Egan
Co-Executive Producer: Greg Yaitanes
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Doris Egan
Director: Greg Yaitanes

House M.D. 5.24 Both Sides Now (2009)

House treats a man with Alien Hand Syndrome and sets about clarifying his relationship with Cuddy.

6/10

While the episode is largely poor with a medical case (Alien Hand Syndrome) unconvincingly portrayed and explained and ongoing stultifying stupidity between Chase and Cameron, Hugh Laurie still sells his scenes brilliantly. The plot also explains some of our dissatisfaction with the previous episode but it still won’t stop that episode being dissatisfying. While rigidly sticking to formula isn’t a problem for television shows, this season has been particularly transparent and has rarely presented it’s medical components with clarity or believability (largely due to ridiculously escalating symptoms in too short a period of time and always to the brink of death). On the plus side, dialogue for Hugh Laurie has been frequently great and he has delivered it brilliantly each and every time. All his scenes with Cuddy and Wilson have been highly entertaining and so season five will get itself six stars.

This House M.D. episode contains adult dialogue and gory and unpleasant scenes and sexuality.

Links

House M.D. 5.23 Under My Skin (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Anne Dudek: Amber Volakis
Jamie Tisdale:
Alex Schemmer:
Co-Executive Producer: Lawrence Kaplow
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Pamela Davis
Writer: Lawrence Kaplow
Director: David Straiton

House M.D. 5.23 Under My Skin (2009)

A ballet dancer is admitted with collapsed lungs which can’t be properly reinflated. House’s first port of call results in the patient losing most of her skin, a bad thing, and he finds himself dangerously distracted by his hallucination and knows he must do something about that, whatever the cost.

6/10

A troubled episode for the great man as his glee last week at having unfettered access to his subconscious has turned to horror than he may actually now be in serious trouble. Hugh Laurie sells it, no problem, but the writers have difficulty in taking us through two patient-of-the-week plots (House and the patient-of-the-week) that unconvincingly span only a couple of days. House’s Vicodin withdrawal symptoms only lasting overnight is also ostentatiously unlikely. And what on earth was Cameron wittering on about ("I’ve got my husband’s sperm.")? Still, the episode closes on a strong line ("I always want to kiss you.") which has got to be worth remembering for all the guys out there.

This House M.D. episode contains baffling adult dialogue and extremely unpleasant and gory scenes and sexuality.

Links

24 7.21 Day 7: 4:00 AM – 5:00 AM (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Mary Lynn Rajskub: Chloe O’Brian
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
Annie Wersching: FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Renee Walker
Colm Feore: Henry Taylor
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Carlos Bernard: Tony Almeida
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Jon Voight: Jonas Hodges
Co-Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Co-Executive Producer: Brad Turner
Executive Producer: Manny Coto
Producer: Michael Klick
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: Manny Coto
Writer: Brannon Braga
Director: Brad Turner

24 7.21 Day 7: 4:00 AM – 5:00 AM (2009)

Olivia Taylor proceeds with her plan to have Hodges killed. Jack and Walker push the FBI search into racially sensitive areas in order to try and get a lead in their second-guessing of what Tony and his team are planning. Tony, meanwhile, is busy coercing an innocent Muslim into posing as a terrorist to cover for his impending bio-attack.

6/10

Carefully moving pieces into position for the end of day seven (only three hours to go) and skilfully making the journey appear to be down to good luck and hard work instead of convenient deus ex machinas, this episode is a low-key outing. The varied pace of this season has been highly successful and has made the thrilling bits even more thrilling. That said, Jack still manages a number of "I’m fine"s and gets all shouty and sweaty at a possible lead. I still can’t believe he’s a goner. Elsewhere, Olivia Taylor gets a reprieve from obnoxiousness and an agreeably interesting moment of horror (I think Agent Pierce is responsible) and Tony is, unknowingly, now only one step ahead instead of two.

This 24 episode contains gory and unpleasant scenes, brief graphic violence.

Links

Slow Burn (2005, Movie) – 6/10 review

Producer: Bonnie Timmermann
Ray Liotta: Ford Cole
LL Cool J: Luther Pinks
Mekhi Phifer: Isaac Duparde
Bruce McGill: Godfrey
Chiwetel Ejiofor: Ty Trippin
Guy Torry: Chet Price
Taye Diggs: Jeffrey Sykes
Jolene Blalock: Nora Timmer
Co-Executive Producer: Ray Liotta
Writer (Original Story): Wayne Beach
Writer (Original Story): Anthony Walton
Writer (Screenplay): Wayne Beach
Director: Wayne Beach

Slow Burn (2005)

DA Ford Cole is as shocked as anyone when his chief prosecutor Nora Timmer is raped and she kills the rapist in self-defence. However, he is quickly introduced to Luther Pinks who makes himself comfortable and proceeds to tell Cole about another side of Nora Timmer: the true side?

6/10

Twisting and turning like a flag in the wind, this is an interesting, well-made, well-acted crime drama that eventually has to cling to the flagpole for dear life by having a series of climactic events that are just too anticipated and unnecessary. They still make sense in the plot but forcing the audience to constantly juggle a twist or two too many brings them out of the movie and starts making it an intellectual exercise. Deeper consideration of a movie’s plot should only happen after the end credits; if it occurs during the first watch of the movie itself, it means that the movie has not quite kept it’s audience in the right place. Still, I’d rather have a movie that’s really good for a long time and just stumble at the finish line through over-ambition than one that is half-heartedly regurgitated from film school textbooks. Writer / first-time director Wayne Beach is probably worth keeping an eye on and it’s more than good enough to make you wonder why it wasn’t released for two years after it was made.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and gun violence and sex scenes, nudity.

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

Brother Bear (2003, Disney Movie) – 6/10 review

Director: Aaron Blaise
Director: Robert Walker
Writer (Screenplay): Tab Murphy
Writer (Screenplay): Lorne Cameron
Writer (Screenplay): David Hoselton
Writer (Screenplay): Steve Bencich
Writer (Screenplay): Ron Friedman
Composer (Songs): Phil Collins
Supervising Animator Kenai – Bear: Byron Howard
Joaquin Phoenix: Kenai – Bear
Supervising Animator Koda: Alexander S. Kupershmidt
Jeremy Suarez: Koda
Supervising Animator Denahi: Ruben A. Aquino
Jason Raize: Denahi
Supervising Animator Kenai – Human: James Young Jackson
Joaquin Phoenix: Kenai – Human

Brother Bear (2003)

Kenai seeks to avenge the death of his older brother by killing the bear responsible. However, his older brother, now a spirit, seeks to teach his impetuous and selfish younger brother a lesson and, obviously, changes him into a bear.

6/10

Tedious talking sections undermine what should have been a largely ‘silent’ / song-based film; the same mistake they made with the rather more ambitious Dinosaur. That said, the comedy bits generally work and, in the end, it produces the requisite emotions. Phil Collins’ songs and score (co-written with Mark Mancina as with the outstanding Tarzan) are fine but the animation is distinctly below par for a premium Disney release. The CG and backgrounds are animated fluidly but the main characters appear to be done at rather less than the full 24-frames-per-second. So, almost despite itself, an above-average six. Especially, if you listen to the highly entertaining audio commentary by the moose brothers. Yep.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes and the bears aren’t wearing any clothes.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

BlackSite (2007, Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Executive Producer: Jim Molitor
Chief Creative Director: Harvey Smith
Art Director: Pete Franco
Audio Director: Clark Crawford
Design Director: Jim Stiefelmaier
Technical Director: Steve Broumley

BlackSite (2007)

Three years after a disastrous incursion to a facility in Iraq, Captain Pierce catches up with his past when he is assigned to help put down an outbreak of some kind in a military base in Nevada.

6/10

There was certainly an effort here to make a great game that also says something (about the military, prejudice and other things) but the contemporary commentary feel rather bolted on, like zits on the face of the game. Technically, the game is generally fine but does suffer from more bugs the further on you get. Graphics have that slightly unsatisfactory Unreal Engine 3 look that almost all third-party games seem to have (and a lot of the characters have a light bleed halo around their extremities) while the sound effects lack any punch and have little, well, effect. However, the game controls well, the team command is a welcome touch, the story is good enough, the enemies are pretty cool to look at, the bosses are fine (the huge tentacle monster on the bridge is spectacular though the final boss is bullet-sponge poor), cover destruction works well and the levels are clearly designed so that you don’t get lost. However, it’s never quite as good as it nearly is; there is just that last little bit of atmosphere missing that would take BlackSite from solid to really good.

This game contains mild swear words and gun violence, melee violence.

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

House M.D. 5.20 Simple Explanation (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Colleen Camp: Charlotte
Mary Jo Deschanel: Julia
Meat Loaf: Eddie
Co-Executive Producer: Leonard Dick
Co-Executive Producer: Greg Yaitanes
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Leonard Dick
Director: Greg Yaitanes

House M.D. 5.20 Simple Explanation (2009)

Patient-of-the-week is a woman who’s dying husband seems to get better as she gets worse. SPOILER However, House and the team, except Taub oddly, are shell-shocked when Kutner is found dead by suicide. END SPOILER

6/10

Clinic’s back, yay! We need more of that. The main medical case is pretty ho-hum but it does go down as one of the few where the patient dies. It also supplied a brilliant summation of House’s ethic: "Either we have all the clues and are idiots, or we don’t have all the clues." Elsewhere, the major story is hidden behind the spoiler marker above. This is the second season in a row where the producers of House have pulled this stunt and it is, again, notably out-of-place for a medical mystery comedy drama. However, if you’ve avoided spoilers for the episode it comes as an agreeable shock and we get one of the few times where House is really floundering in his inability to have foreseen or subsequently explain such an event. I wonder if House and we will ever get to know why. It’s quite interesting, but not exactly entertaining.

This House M.D. episode contains mild swear words and unpleasant and gory scenes.

Links

24 7.17 Day 7: 12:00 AM – 1:00 AM (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
Annie Wersching: FBI Agent Renee Walker
Jeffrey Nordling: FBI Special Agent in Charge Larry Moss
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Carlos Bernard: Tony Almeida
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Jon Voight: Jonas Hodges
Consulting Producer: Chip Johannessen
Co-Executive Producer: Brad Turner
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: Chip Johannessen
Director: Brad Turner

24 7.17 Day 7: 12:00 AM – 1:00 AM (2009)

Moss is forced to withdraw from Starkwood but another insider may provide visual access to the bio-weapons for Almeida. Jack starts exhibiting symptoms of his exposure but rejects a potential lifeline out of heroic stubborness. Olivia Taylor’s dastardly dealings with her reporter friend start becoming rather more complicated than she wants and so, in the middle of a national crisis, she nips out the office to try and sort him out.

6/10

This is unquestionably the worst episode of the season so far but the remainder has been so good, we’re more than willing to give it a bye. The problem is baffling non-sensical character choices. SPOILERWhy does the reporter burn all bridges with what must be the best source in the world (the US Chief of Staff)? Why does Jonas Hodges kill his Chairman of the Board? Why does the President abort the airstrike instead of quipping "You’ll find it harder to negotiate with a missile in your mouth"? Additionally, where did Larry Moss and his strike team disappear to? Did they all go down the pub? And, it has to be said, we still don’t know what Jonas Hodges is trying to accomplish here and how arranging the death of thousands of Americans including the President can possibly be advantangeous? The audience is offered a lifeline over Jack’s predicament (his imminent unavoidable death) but he refuses it. Will he die today?

This 24 episode contains mild swear words and very strong melee violence and sexuality, mild sexual nudity.

Links

Lewis 3.03 The Point of Vanishing (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kevin Whately: DI Robert Lewis
Laurence Fox: DS James Hathaway
Clare Holman: Dr. Laura Hobson
Rebecca Front: Ch. Supt. Innocent
Ben Aldridge: Daniel Rattenbury
Zoe Boyle: Hope Ransome
Ophelia Lovibond: Jessica Rattenbury
Jenny Seagrove: Cecile Rattenbury
Michael Simkins: Manfred Canter
Julian Wadham: Tom Rattenbury
Writer (inspired By The Original Novels By) Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter
Writer (Screenplay): Paul Rutman
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Maurice Phillips

Lewis 3.03 Point of Vanishing, The (2009)

Steven Mullan is brutally murdered and suspicion immediately falls upon the family of a girl he disabled by driving a truck into her car. He was targeting the girl’s outspoken atheistic father, Tom Rattenbury, but the effect was equally devastating. However, the crime was compounded by the sentence. Instead of attempted murder he got sent to prison for drunk driving. Perhaps justice has finally caught up with him.

6/10

This is nearly a very good episode with lots of clues and suspects and last-minute alibis and non-alibis and intrigue but the final section is fumbled through thin writing, inadequate acting from Jenny Seagrove and obvious dramatic nonsense (for example, why does Hathaway go steaming to the swimming pool?). Kevin Whately is better here than before as he is largely not called on to display deep-seated emotion but he keeps oddly hurling words at people during interrogations and his eureka moment is, as ever, highly unconvincing. I do not think Lewis is a eureka cop and that has been a principle mistake of the producers. Lewis isn’t Morse, he isn’t maverick, he isn’t a great thinker nor should he gain inspiration from the arts. He should be methodical, meticulous and display finely-honed powers of observation. But he doesn’t.

This Lewis episode contains adult dialogue, mild swear words and strong melee violence, blade violence.

Links

24 7.16 Day 7: 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
Annie Wersching: FBI Agent Renee Walker
Jeffrey Nordling: FBI Special Agent in Charge Larry Moss
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Carlos Bernard: Tony Almeida
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Jon Voight: Jonas Hodges
Co-Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Executive Producer: Manny Coto
Executive Producer: Jon Cassar
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: Manny Coto
Writer: Brannon Braga
Director: Jon Cassar

24 7.16 Day 7: 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM (2009)

Jack waits to discover whether he is infected with the bio-weapon and whether it has dispersed into the local area. Moss and The President have no good options, legal or otherwise, for attacking the Starkwood facility but the captured Tony Almeida catches a break that might just save the day.

6/10

So Jack gets undressed and freaks out the doctor (and later Renee Walker) with all his scars but what would have been awesome-on-toast is if he dropped his boxers and he had no privates and he just said "I lost those in ‘Nam" or "Didn’t see the first shark for about half-an-hour" or something. I suspect I might need some kind of psychiatric treatment. Of course, the big news is that SPOILERJack has only a day or two to live. Now, as an audience, we’ve seen Jack in a worse situation than this before (he died on Day 2 just before 3:00 AM, then came back from the dead and splatted everyone wearing only sweat) and so we wonder how permanent this latest setback will actually be. As it stands though, it is a strong possibility that Bauer is going to add martyrdom to his resumé.

This 24 episode contains mild swear words and strong interrogation violence.

Links

Evan Almighty (2007, Movie) – 6/10 review

Steve Carell: Evan Baxter
Morgan Freeman: God
Lauren Graham: Joan Baxter
John Goodman: Congressman Long
John Michael Higgins: Marty
Jimmy Bennett: Ryan Baxter
Wanda Sykes: Rita
Jonah Hill: Eugene
Molly Shannon: Eve Adams
Producer: Tom Shadyac
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Steve Koren
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Mark O’Keefe
Writer (Story): Stephen Oedekerk
Writer (Story): Joel Cohen
Writer (Story): Alec Sokolow
Writer (Screenplay): Stephen Oedekerk
Director: Tom Shadyac

Evan Almighty (2007)

Former anchorman Evan Baxter wins a seat in Congress and he and his family move to Washington and into an affluent lifestyle with the aim of changing the world. Then God appears and commands him to build an ark.

6/10

There’s enough of interest and enough of a positive message (performs Acts of Random Kindess) to make this rather expensive movie worthwhile and, it has to be pointed out, unexpectedly original. However, it doesn’t quite work and it’s not generally funny. It doesn’t feel quite convinced of it’s own message and comes across, at times, as a little self-righteously hollow. Oddly, this wasn’t a feeling we got with the first film Bruce Almighty; if Jim Carrey is one thing, it’s whole-hearted in his performances. Overall, it’s refreshingly good-natured for a contemporary American movie, it may move people to think about what they expect from God (does he give us courage or the opportunity to show courage?; an intriguing difference), and it encourages us to be kind.

This movie contains bad language and mild peril.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Lewis 3.02 The Quality of Mercy (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kevin Whately: DI Robert Lewis
Laurence Fox: DS James Hathaway
Clare Holman: Dr. Laura Hobson
Rebecca Front: Ch. Supt. Innocent
Maureen Beattie: Professor Denise Gregson
Geoff Breton: Joe Myers
Bryan Dick: Phil Beaumont
Abby Ford: Isabel Dawson
Daisy Lewis: Emma Golding
Ronan Vibert: Simon Monkford
Writer (inspired By The Original Novels By) Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter
Writer (Screenplay): Alan Plater
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Bille Eltringham

Lewis 3.02 Quality of Mercy, The (2009)

An actor is murdered during a performance of The Merchant of Venice and it seems he was universally disliked, if admired for his thespian ability. Hathaway pursues a side-case involving a small-time crook and stumbles on to something that forces him to reevaluate his relationship with Lewis.

6/10

When Kevin Whately is smiling and chummy and cheerful, he is quite good and eminently watchable. When he is not, as the writers keep insisting on here, he just looks like he is trying to grow more folds of skin. This includes repeated subtly meaningful comments regarding his own bereavement (his wife was needlessly killed before the series began, both artistically and plot-wise) before culminating in a number of strong scenarios late on. As ever, Whately isn’t quite up to the task. You can see him acting. They remind you of similar scenes in parent show Inspector Morse and remind you, once more, how brilliant John Thaw was. The episode is largely well written until the end when the murderer suddenly gives up. Intellectually, it’s quite interesting but dramatically unsatisfying. Perhaps appropriate for a show centred on a hallowed centre of learning.

This Lewis episode contains mild swear words and unpleasant scenes.

Links

Lewis 3.01 Allegory of Love (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kevin Whately: DI Robert Lewis
Laurence Fox: DS James Hathaway
Clare Holman: Dr. Laura Hobson
Rebecca Front: Ch. Supt. Innocent
Selina Cadell: Professor Rutherford
Anastasia Hille: Ginny Harris
Cara Horgan: Alice Wishart
Adrian Lukis: Jem Wishart
Art Malik: Professor Hamid Jassim
Tom Mison: Dorian Crane
James Fox: Professor Norman Deering
Writer (inspired By The Original Novels By) Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter
Writer (Original Story): David Pirie
Writer (Screenplay): Stephen Churchett
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Bill Anderson

Lewis 3.01 Allegory of Love (2009)

Lewis investigates the murder of a beautiful Czech immigrant who was killed using a sixteenth-century mirror. Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Innocent encourages Lewis is move on in his personal life by introducing him to a friend of hers.

6/10

One thing Kevin Whately really should steer clear of is emoting or trying to look attentive as he finds it very difficult to be convincing. Instead he looks like he’s forgotten his lines. He’s much better when smiling and I wish he’d do more of it in this show. This is a merely solid episode which is rescued by some gleefully barmy murders: one girl has her throat opened by a mirror that has been smashed over her head (in a nod to Alice Through The Looking Glass) while a man has a giant "sword of truth" run through his heart. The emotional delivery of the killer during the climax works much better than anticipated or, indeed, scripted and a slightly begrudging above-average rating is the reward.

This Lewis episode contains adult dialogue and brief violence, strong gory and unpleasant scenes.

Links

Jamaica Inn (1939, Movie) – 6/10 review

Producer (Presents credit): Raymond Rohauer
Charles Laughton: Sir Humphrey Pengallan
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer (Original Novel): Daphne Du Maurier
Maureen O’Hara: Mary, Joss Merlyn’s niece
Writer (Screenplay): Sidney Gilliat
Writer (Screenplay): Joan Harrison
Writer (Dialogue): Sidney Gilliat
Continuity: Alma Reville
Writer (Additional Dialogue): J.B. Priestley
Producer: Erich Pommer

Jamaica Inn (1939)

6/10

While it certainly doesn’t work and doesn’t feel like an Alfred Hitchcock film (no Hitch cameo), Jamaica Inn still boasts a great centre-piece baddie performance from Charles Laughton, good pace and some occasionally good dialogue (the crim wanting to be put in chains like everyone else is particularly well-done). The principle problem appears to be inconsistency of character (Laughton aside) with Maureen O’Hara (very beautiful) and Leslie Banks (as the main heavy) particularly ill-served.

This movie contains adult dialogue and violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.