Supercar Challenge (2009, Racing Simulation Game, PS3 exclusive) – 8/10 review

Executive Producer: Mark Cale
Consultant Car Handling & Race: Bruno Senna
Tiff Needell:
Game Designer: Mark Cale
Game Designer: Dave Thompson
Game Designer: Gareth Wright

Supercar Challenge (2009)

8/10

The main problem with Supercar Challenge is clear; it’s the full-price charge for DLC-size additional content for Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli (two new tracks, three additional track layouts, about a dozen new cars). However, this is to overlook the improvements that have been delivered in every area (especially the sixteen-player online racing) and the sweet driving simulation experience that has been carried over intact from the previous game. The most important change gameplay-wise is the ability to choose your own car for the central Challenge mode allowing you to form a relationship with and intimate understanding of your chosen steed (because, unlike almost all other racing games, each car feels different). While the game can be a challenge at times, the driving experience is so satisfying (in a car you like) that battling around in any position is rewarding and overtaking or pressuring the AI into convincing mistakes, especially (grrr) Lorenz Gerber, is absolutely wonderful.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

Links

The Idle Class (1921, Chaplin Comedy Short Movie) – 8/10 review

Charles Chaplin:
Copyright Holder: Charles Chaplin
Edna Purviance:
Composer: Charles Chaplin
Writer: Charles Chaplin
Producer: Charles Chaplin
Director: Charles Chaplin

Idle Class, The (1921)

A lonely tramp arrives in town, unaware that he is the spitting image of a rich socialite, and, while playing golf, meets the woman of his dreams.

8/10

Top drawer Chaplin effort which features frequent moments of comic brilliance that can only be classified ‘genius’. Chaplin pulls out a continuing series of totally unexpected and rather brilliant sight gags starting with hiding behind a newspaper (funnier than it sounds) and continuing with his astonishing golf swing and a couple of surprising golf ball lies, a terrific little chase sequence and a wonderful ‘not-happy’ punchline (or should that be kickline) ending.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Continue reading “The Idle Class (1921, Chaplin Comedy Short Movie) – 8/10 review”

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000, Disney Movie) – 8/10 review

Director: Mark Dindal
Producer: Randy Fullmer
Writer (Story): Chris Williams
Writer (Story): Mark Dindal
Writer (Screenplay): David Reynolds
Supervising Animator Kuzco / Kuzco Llama: Nik Ranieri
David Spade: Kuzco / Kuzco Llama
Supervising Animator Pacha: Bruce W. Smith
John Goodman: Pacha
Supervising Animator Yzma: Dale Baer
Eartha Kitt: Yzma
Supervising Animator Kronk: Tony Bancroft
Patrick Warburton: Kronk
Lead Animator Chicha: Doug Frankel

Emperor’s New Groove, The (2000)

Arrogant Aztec emperor Kuzco rules his empire with a whim of iron. But when he annoys his witch advisor Yzma one time too many, she turns him into a llama and takes over the kingdom. With Kuzco now exiled and lost in the mountains he turns to chunky peasant Pacha for assistance but the last thing the emperor did before becoming a llama was order the destruction of Pacha’s house and village to make way for the emperor’s new summer retreat…

8/10

While this is undoubtedly less technically showy than most of Disney’s immediately previous output (such as Tarzan and Dinosaur; though this is still a fantastic-looking, brilliantly-animated movie), this is a remarkably fun and funny buddy-buddy movie that is not a typical Disney formula film (no story songs) and shows that the classic animation studio is still leagues ahead of its would-be competitors. While the good character Pacha is a little clumsy, Kronk is hilarious ("squeakity-squeak") and Yzma is satisfyingly reminiscent of classic Disney villains Cruella De Vil and Madame Medusa.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Links

Race Pro (2009, Racing Game, 360) – 8/10 review

Creative Director: Diego Sartori
Game Designer: Diego Sartori
Technical Director: Ola Olsson
Lead Programmer: Michael Andersson

Race Pro (2009)

8/10

I hate AI that isn’t affected by grass and gravel and kerbs and camber and G-forces and momentum and variable grip and their line through corners and your car being in their way and you driving into the side of them at 100mph and, like most racing games, Race Pro is guilty of this. So why the high score? Communication. Race Pro communicates the relationship of the driver to the car and car to the track more successfully than just about any other console game. This means that every single time you crash, understeer, oversteer, slide or nail a corner oh-so-sweetly, you know exactly why. Every time. Forza Motorsport 2 and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue are more forgiving and far more polished and Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli has more heart, but this is probably the best driving experience available on 360 or PS3 at this time.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

Reign of Fire (2002, Movie) – 8/10 review

Matthew McConaughey: Van Zan
Christian Bale: Quinn
Izabella Scorupco: Alex
Gerard Butler: Creedy
Alice Krige: Karen Abercromby
Producer: Richard D. Zanuck
Producer: Lili Fini Zanuck
Producer: Gary Barber
Producer: Roger Birnbaum
Writer (Story): Gregg Chabot
Writer (Story): Kevin Peterka
Writer (Screenplay): Gregg Chabot
Writer (Screenplay): Kevin Peterka
Writer (Screenplay): Matt Greenberg
Director: Rob Bowman

Reign of Fire (2002)

After dragons return to and devastate the earth, small pockets of survivors try to scratch a meagre existence. One such pocket, led by Quinn, is about to receive a visit, however, from an American and his troops who are on their way to London to kill the bull dragon responsible for fertilizing the planet’s entire population.

8/10

Surprisingly, for an apocalyptical movie, this is a not-depressing but thrilling adventure with some spectacular dragon effects. Also, somewhat amazingly, this is the only dragon movie ever made that is any good at all (Dragonslayer is awful outside of the dragon and people don’t like it when you mention Pete’s Dragon). For that, I think I need to give it an extra star.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, mild swear words and strong melee violence, unpleasant scenes.

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

Lie To Me 1.12 Blinded (2009, TV) – 8/10 review

Tim Roth: Dr. Cal Lightman
Kelli Williams: Dr. Gillian Foster
Brendan Hines: Eli Loker
Monica Raymund: Ria Torres
Writer (Creator): Samuel Baum
Mekhi Phifer:
Daniel Sunjata:
Clea DuVall:
Emilio Rivera:
Consulting Producer: Elizabeth Craft
Consulting Producer: Sarah Fain
Writer: Sarah Fain
Writer: Elizabeth Craft
Director: Milan Cheylov

Lie To Me 1.12 Blinded (2009)

Lightman is asked to try and break a copycat rapist / murderer case but his opponent seems rather more adept at lie detection and manipulation than he is.

8/10

An episode about power and how to take it from someone who has it. It looks like Lightman has met his match and, although we know he’s the hero and this can’t possibly be, the villain is clearly causing Lightman to work really really hard for his goal. Despite the subject (serial rapist / murderer) this is good fun because it concentrates on the mind-games.

This Lie To Me episode contains adult dialogue and extremely unpleasant scenes, extreme melee violence.

Links

Batman Returns (1992, Movie) – 8/10 review

Michael Keaton: Batman / Bruce Wayne
Danny DeVito: Penguin
Michelle Pfeiffer: Catwoman / Selina
Christopher Walken: Max Shreck
Michael Gough: Alfred
Pat Hingle: Commissioner Gordon
Michael Murphy: Mayor
Vincent Schiavelli: Organ Grinder
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Writer (Screenplay): Daniel Waters
Writer (Story): Daniel Waters
Writer (Story): Sam Hamm
Producer: Denise Di Novi
Producer: Tim Burton
Director: Tim Burton

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman is called back into action when penguin-like Oswald Cobblepot decides to run for mayor under the guidance of Gotham City’s unscrupulous business leader Max Shreck whose past efforts include pushing secretary Selina Kyle out of a very high window resulting in her psyche being scarred so as to produce the Catwoman.

8/10

Rather more outlandish than the first, director Tim Burton provides a sequel that is fun and spectacular and odd (penguins with fricking missiles on their backs, awesome). Outrageously designed and great-looking from set and character design to lighting (Bruce Wayne’s intro is a classic). Great little bits and pieces such as a the vichyssoise ("it’s supposed to be cold"), the Wayne / Batman dichotomy ("sorry, I mistook me for someone else") and the Maxquerade Ball invitation scene show that Burton and Michael Keaton had really nailed Bruce Wayne (he also has the best fire place in movie history) and it was this attention to keeping recognisable humanity in all his characters that makes the Burton Batman’s more than just fun, great-looking blockbusters.

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

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

House M.D. 5.22 House Divided (2009, TV) – 8/10 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
Ryan Lane:
Clare Carey:
Supervising Producer: Liz Friedman
Co-Executive Producer: Greg Yaitanes
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Matthew V. Lewis
Writer: Liz Friedman
Director: Greg Yaitanes

House M.D. 5.22 House Divided (2009)

House’s insomnia is causing him to hallucinate Amber, former employee and Wilson’s dead girlfriend, but she proves to give House a sharpness and insight he welcomes and applies it to patient-of-the-week (a deaf boy who is hearing explosions) and arranging Chase’s bachelor party.

8/10

Despite the presence of a deceased team member, this is a comedy episode of House with him treating a deaf patient who hears explosions in his head and, somewhat unexpectedly, arranging a bachelor party ("The reason my third wife and I eloped was mainly to avoid House’s bachelor party. Have you heard of Caligula?" – Wilson). We also have full-on comedy highlights when House decides to play our patient some music (it’s visually funny and leads to the brilliant discovery of a new symptom), practices an alcohol-and-fire trick in the morgue and there is a really great gag where we discover how House gets Wilson to attend the bachelor party against his wishes (SPOILER he holds it in Wilson’s apartment. There’s also the interesting framework as House gleefully accepts the help of evil House before realising his must go toe-to-toe with her. Like Superman did in Superman III with a bit of luck.

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

Links

Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty (2008, Game, PS3) – 8/10 review

Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty (2008)

Ratchet tries to find Clank but the nefarious Rusty Pete and assorted bits of assorted pirates keep making things difficult.

8/10

More of the same and plenty of fun. While it does feel like it’s not quite finished (voices don’t always play at the correct volume, have long pauses between them and some of the camera angles are not quite right) it still boasts all the same strengths (super graphics, funny dialogue) and weaknesses (combat needs a lock-on) as the parent game. There are some particularly impressive Pythor shadows in Morrow Caverns and I love the little heliogrubs (fortunately, none were harmed in the making of the game). There is a significant area of improvement with the expansion of wrench abilities. You can pick things up and magnetically manipulate objects though scenarios involving either tend to be a little too simple and, unlike the parent game, there’s no reason to replay the adventure.

This game contains mild melee violence, mild projectile violence, mild fantasy violence.

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.

Links

F1 06 Formula One Championship Edition aka F1CE (2006, Game, PS3) – 8/10 review

Development Director: Clemens Wangerin
Game Director: Graeme Ankers
Technical Director: Jason Chown
Senior Producer: Gareth Betts
Producer: Martin Harrow
Lead Programmer: Stuart Lovegrove
Lead Programmer: James Ogden

F1 06 Formula One Championship Edition aka F1CE (2006)

8/10

Racing game which gets the racing and sense of speed absolutely right, delivers the best online racing implementation paradigm ever and best back-marker AI for lapped cars (they predictably and courteously ease out of the throttle and move off line) but these outstanding points seems to emphasise other minor shortfalls in presentation, user-friendliness, weather that completely breaks the game (your pit crew refuse to change you on to wet or intermediate tyres and will fuel you three laps short of race distance and won’t let you back in the pits and the AI continues to circulate at dry pace) and the slightly unbalanced difficulty level (a Studio Liverpool tradition).

Starter for Ten (2006, Movie) – 8/10 review

James McAvoy: Brian Jackson
Alice Eve: Alice Harbinson
Rebecca Hall: Rebcca Epstein
Catherine Tate: Julie Jackson
Dominic Cooper: Spencer
Benedict Cumberbatch: Patrick Watts
Charles Dance: Michael Harbinson
Lindsay Duncan: Rose Harbinson
Writer (Screenplay): David Nicholls
Writer (Original Book): David Nicholls
Director: Tom Vaughan

Starter for Ten (2006)

Brian Jackson is thrilled to be accepted to Bristol University and hopes to sate his thirst for knowledge. He enrols to qualify for the University Challenge team but when beautiful blonde Alice Harbinson joins the team, he has a whole new thing to fill his mind.

8/10

Consistently engaging and entertaining coming-of-age drama which builds to a better-than-expected University Challenge showdown. James McAvoy shows the talent and intrinsic charisma that would move him into stardom over the next couple of years as one of the most talented young actors around. The more predictable romantic triangle storyline is enjoyable despite the clichés (SPOILER blond stunner loses to worldy-wise brunette) thanks to crisp handling and a slight softening of the usual movie blonde archetype. No-one in the movie is horrible or nasty but they all makes mistakes; smart people do do stupid things. Like all of us.

This movie contains sexual swear words and substance abuse and brief violence and sexuality, obscured full non-sexual nudity.

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

Tell No One aka Ne le dis à personne (2006, Movie) – 8/10 review

Producer: Alain Attal
Director: Guillaume Canet
François Cluzet: Alexandre Beck
Marie-Josée Croze: Margot Beck
André Dussollier: Jacques Leurentin
François Berléand: Eric Levkowitch
Kristin Scott Thomas: Helene Perkins
Nathalie Baye: Elysabeth Feldman
Jean Rochefort: Gilbert Neuville
Guillaume Canet: Philippe Neuville
Brigitte Catillon: Capitaine Berthas
Writer (Screenplay): Guillaume Canet
Writer (Screenplay): Philippe Lefebvre
Writer (Original Novel) Tell No One: Harlan Coben

Tell No One aka Ne le dis à personne (2006)

Alexandre Beck receives an email with a link to a street security camera but the identity of the person he sees will change his life forever. However, he’s not the only one watching.

8/10

Terrific thriller (in French, by the way) which is consistently better than expected, not least in the use of the U2 song With or Without You, a fantastic-looking dog and a guest appearance by what appears to be a female Terminator. All the performances are excellent, it’s beautifully paced and staged and there are even some well-filmed and highly effective, if melodramatic, moments of action. All that’s left is the insipid Hollywood remake.

This movie contains sexual swear words and mild substance abuse and graphic gun violence, strong melee violence, extremely unpleasant scenes and full male and female nudity.

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

The Wrong Arm of the Law (1962, Movie) – 8/10 review

Executive Producer: Robert Velaise
Producer: M. Smedley Aston
Peter Sellers: Pearly Gates
Lionel Jeffries: Inspector Parker
Bernard Cribbins: Nervous O’Toole
Writer: Ray Galton
Writer: Alan Simpson
Writer: John Antrobus
Writer (Original Screenplay): John Warren
Writer (Original Screenplay): Len Heath
Writer (Original Story): Ivor Jay
Writer (Original Story): William Whistance Smith
Producer: Audrey Baring
Director: Cliff Owen

Wrong Arm of the Law, The (1962)

Pearly Gates, a leading light in the London underworld, turns to Scotland Yard for help when his lucrative business is disrupted by some upstart Australians disguised as police officers.

8/10

Classic comedy boasting a top cast performing quite brilliantly, a witty script and a delightful high-concept storyline – the cops and robbers team up to catch a particular gang of unscrupulous robbers who pass themselves off as policemen. It’s crisply handled and just becomes more and more fun as it goes along. Peter Sellers, as the straight man, deploys a French accent that he would later use in The Pink Panther while Lionel Jeffries and Bernard Cribbins mine good laughs in their roles.

This movie contains adult dialogue and violence and mild sensuality.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

24 7.12 Day 7: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM (2009, TV) – 8/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
James Morrison: Bill Buchanan
Annie Wersching: FBI Agent Renee Walker
Bob Gunton: Ethan Kanin
Jeffrey Nordling: FBI Special Agent in Charge Larry Moss
Kurtwood Smith: Senator Blaine Mayer
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Jon Voight: Jonas Hodges
Co-Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Co-Executive Producer: Brad Turner
Executive Producer: Manny Coto
Executive Producer: Evan Katz
Executive Producer: Robert Cochran
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer (Screenplay): Evan Katz
Writer (Story): Manny Coto
Writer (Story): Brannon Braga
Director: Brad Turner

24 7.12 Day 7: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM (2009)

Juma and his men drill a surprisingly large hole under the White House using just a normal drill bit but the effect is devastating. Juma leads an attack on the White House with the President as his goal.

8/10

Jon Voight pops up again after showing his face in Day 7 prequel Redemption and, in an unusual nod toward Bond villain insanity, plays some darts after delivering a critical idea under apparently intense pressure. It’s a gleefully random moment but it doesn’t undermine the tension of the rest of the episode and the significant feeling that the mid-season clear-out is about to begin. Our heroes are between a rock and several hard-places and I’m itching to see how it’s all going to pan out without decimating the cast.

This 24 episode contains gun violence, unpleasant scenes, brief graphic blade violence.

Links

24 7.09 Day 7: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (2009, TV) – 8/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Mary Lynn Rajskub: Chloe O’Brian
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
James Morrison: Bill Buchanan
Annie Wersching: FBI Agent Renee Walker
Colm Feore: Henry Taylor
Bob Gunton: Ethan Kanin
Jeffrey Nordling: FBI Special Agent in Charge Larry Moss
Rhys Coiro: Sean Hillinger
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Carlo Rota: Morris O’Brian
Executive Producer: David Fury
Executive Producer: Robert Cochran
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: David Fury
Director: Milan Cheylov

24 7.09 Day 7: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (2009)

First Chap Henry Taylor has been shot in the chest, is bleeding badly and the prognosis is dire. Dubaku finalises his plans to leave the country taking girlfriend Marika with him but is all too aware that his life is now in danger. He exerts pressure to ensure that he will escape safe and that will make Jack and Renee’s pursuit harder and riskier than they can imagine.

8/10

Another excellent episode with the focus more on personal impact for Agent Renee Walker, President Allison Taylor and unknowing Dubaku girlfriend Marika Donoso. We also get the reveal of a Dubaku conspirator inside Moss’s office SPOILER which is nicely misdirected. END SPOILER Again the change of pace works wonders for the show and means that the bits that are supposed to be tense such as the last minute or two are genuinely so and not lost amid a sea of would-be tension. Nice to welcome back Glenn Morshower as Agent Aaron Pierce (making him the only cast member other than Kiefer Sutherland to appear in every day) but it would have been an even nicer surprise if his name hadn’t been on the opening credits.

This 24 episode contains bad language and a gory scene.

Links

24 7.08 Day 7: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM (2009, TV) – 8/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
James Morrison: Bill Buchanan
Annie Wersching: FBI Agent Renee Walker
Colm Feore: Henry Taylor
Bob Gunton: Ethan Kanin
Jeffrey Nordling: FBI Special Agent in Charge Larry Moss
Rhys Coiro: Sean Hillinger
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Executive Producer: David Fury
Executive Producer: Kiefer Sutherland
Executive Producer: Evan Katz
Executive Producer: Robert Cochran
Executive Producer: Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer (Screenplay): Robert Cochran
Writer (Screenplay): Evan Katz
Writer (Story): David Fury
Director: Milan Cheylov

24 7.08 Day 7: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM (2009)

With his infrastructure attack capability well and truly stuffed by Bauer, Dubaku retreats and consoles himself with the one chip he has left: First Dude Henry Taylor. Jack and Matobo go to the White House to see President Taylor face-to-face.

8/10

"The rules are what make us better." "Not today." Is it acceptable to discard etiquette for what you perceive to be the greater good? 24 is asking this question more successfully than ever. Jack has long since ceased pretending to use anyone else’s moral compass and doesn’t even think twice about doing what he considers needs to be done. Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) is the audience surrogate here and is proving a highly effective device to generate an unusual level of empathy with the situation for us. What would we do? Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor gets easily her best scene of the series so far when reacting to Dubaku’s demands.

This 24 episode contains bad language and a brief extremely unpleasant scene.

Links

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli (2008, Game, PS3) – 8/10 review

President System 3 Software: Mark Cale
Executive Producer: Mark Cale
Technical Consultant Car Handling and Race Consultation: Bruno Senna
Instructor Race: Tiff Needell
Game Designer: Mark Cale
Game Designer: Dave Thompson
Game Designer: Gareth Wright
Lead Programmer: Craig McHugh
Manager Programming: Andrew Perella
Manager Technology: Mark McClumpha
Manager Creative: Mark Barton
Designer: Gareth Wright
Designer: Kev Shaw

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli (2008)

Partake in the international Ferrari 430 Challenge series across fifteen tracks then take over twenty models from Ferrari history for a spin in one-make Trophy championships. Additionally, you can be tutored around Ferrari’s Fiorano test circuit and take the challenge online.

8/10

One-make racing game which boasts rewarding and convincing driving and racing, outstanding rain effects (unlike a lot of games, they remembered the wiper animations), a good livery editor and some terrific tracks that we haven’t seen before in a game (Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Virginia International Raceway and the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California and, for the first time in a long time for cars, Circuit Paul Ricard). There are some nice touches such as wildlife, leaves and men with flags (yay!) at circuits and a personal favourite music track over the main menu (Ebla by E.S. Posthumus). For me, the single marque is no limitation at all (indeed, I love single marque games) and the cars exhibit a wide variety of handling; some of them are an absolute joy to drive including the F512 S, F355 GTB, and the F40.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

Links

Continue reading “Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli (2008, Game, PS3) – 8/10 review”

Haibane-Renmei (2002, Anime) – 8/10 review

Writer (Series’ Creator) Charcoal Feathers in Old Home: Yoshitoshi Abe
Producer Pioneer LDC: Yasuyuki Ueda
Director: Tomokazu Tokoro
Writer (Screenplay): Yoshitoshi Abe
Ryo Hirohashi: Rakka
Junko Noda: Reki

Haibane-Renmei (2002)

It’s an exciting day for the Haibane – an group of beings with halos and wings who live inside a walled world and are supported by a generous town – as a new cocoon, an unusually large one, grows. Inside is Rakka, the newest Haibane and she starts to learn about her new existence and new friends.

8/10

This is what I love about Japanese animation. Haibane-Renmei tackles big topics – such as death, motivation, redemption and salvation – in a gentle, intelligent and never condescending manner. Even more than that, though, it connects emotionally and it always intrigues me that I find it easier to become lost in animation than in live-action drama. (Almost all my favourite films are animated.) It is sweet and positive and thought-provoking. For instance, where do the Haibane come from? Are they children who have killed themselves accidentally or on purpose? On top of the questions raised by the show’s setting (and, generally, left unanswered), we have the global existentialist and moral questions. For instance, even if we start to do good for selfish, or the wrong, reasons, will those reasons be consumed by the good deeds? Does that constitute redemption and is that enough for salvation? Haibane-Renmei manages to be both deep and light at the same time; a remarkable combination.

This series contains mild gory scenes, unpleasant scenes and mild non-sexual nudity.

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

24 7.03 Day 7: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM (2009, TV) – 8/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Cherry Jones: President Allison Taylor
Annie Wersching: FBI Agent Renee Walker
Colm Feore: Henry Taylor
Bob Gunton: Ethan Kanin
Jeffrey Nordling: Larry Moss
Rhys Coiro: Sean Hillinger
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Carlos Bernard: Tony Almeida
Co-Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Co-Executive Producer: Brad Turner
Executive Producer: Kiefer Sutherland
Executive Producer: Robert Cochran
Executive Producer: Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: Manny Coto
Writer: Brannon Braga
Director: Brad Turner

24 7.03 Day 7: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM (2009)

Even though Almeida’s in custody, Juma’s demands to the President simply don’t give the FBI much time to do anything as he threatens to cause an American disaster if American forces are not withdrawn within the next couple of hours. Tony finds himself between a Jack and a hard place but manages to sputter out information that may save his life.

8/10

Along with Jack the writers now need to convince us of Tony’s motives and they deliver the expected plot not-twist. However, it’s not disappointing as it’s what we hoped for and it is packaged in a thrilling episode. Tony even gets a Dark Knight van jump as a bonus but we still don’t know he’s not, you know, dead. The sub-plot regarding the FBI leak is well-handled with either of the protagonists involved suspected at any one time before tying that strand up. Annie Wersching portrays Walker’s furious betrayal successfully and without melodrama. We might almost forget that the President has only part of next week’s episode to decide between American or Sangalan lives and there’s still an interesting (but Colm Feore-starring) sub-plot regarding the death of her son. This is shaping up to be a great day.

This 24 episode contains a mild swear word and violence.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot 3.01 How Does Your Garden Grow? (1991, TV) – 8/10

Writer (Original Story): Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Lemon
Writer: Andrew Marshall
Script Consultant: Clive Exton
Anne Stallybrass: Mary Delafontaine
Tim Wylton: Henry Delafontaine
Margery Mason: Amelia Barrowby
Catherine Russell: Katrina Reiger
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Brian Farnham
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s 3.01 How Does Your Garden Grow? (1991)

While at Chelsea Flower Show to be accorded the honour of having a beautiful pink rose named after him, Poirot is accosted by Miss Amelia Barrowby and insistently given a packet of Catherine the Great seed. With no seed in it.

8/10

Splendid Poirot adaptation with all the clues given to you but only the master can put them together. There’s even a great closing gag involving a bottle of weed-killer. This is great fun and Suchet is marvelous. While a gander at the cast list and the verse of the nursery rhyme from which the title is taken will reveal the guilty party, you won’t do this before the event and, in any case, the way Christie weaves the story around the nursery rhyme is wondrous to behold.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

A Touch of Frost 5.04 No Other Love (1997, TV) – 8/10 review

David Jason: DI Frost
Writer (Characters’ Creator): R.D. Wingfield
Writer (Screenplay): Sian Orrells
Producer: Martyn Auty
Director: David Reynolds
Matt Bardock: DC Barnard
Bruce Alexander: Supt Mullett

Touch of Frost, A 5.04 No Other Love (1997)

(from Radio Times)

Frost unravels two domestic cases – one tragically straightforward, the other cruelly deceptive.

8/10

Interesting end-of-series (and, at one time, intended end-of-Frost) entry which supplies the typical double-headed professional focus as well as some successful personal touches. This is probably Frost’s best episode but be warned, it is distressing, especially if you’ve been watching since the first episode Care and Protection. And, yes, despite the very well acted and clearly highly emotional climax, the ITV announcer blathers on within seconds. Isn’t it time somebody took a stand and put an end to this universally reviled habit?

This Touch of Frost, A episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue regarding child sexual abuse and gory and unpleasant scenes.

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

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Continue reading “A Touch of Frost 5.04 No Other Love (1997, TV) – 8/10 review”

Kirikou et la sorcière (1998, Movie) – 8/10 review

Director: Michel Ocelot
In collaboration with: Raymond Burlet
Writer Based on West African themes: Michel Ocelot
Doudou Gueye Thiaw: Kirikou enfant
Maimouna N’diaye: La mère
Awa Sène Sarr: Karaba
Robert Lionsol: Le sage dans la montagne

Kirikou et la sorcière aka Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)

Kirikou is pretty unusual for a baby. Firstly, he makes his own way out of the womb, walking and talking, cutting his own umbilical and informing his mother of his name. These are just the start of his great deeds as he proceeds to involve himself in a dispute his village is having with a local sorceress who has cut off their nearest water supply and is eating all the men sent to stop her.

8/10

Rather brilliant animated movie telling the story of a baby hero. However, put all thought of the horror of Baby Geniuses out of your mind, this is a charming master work, enthralling and entertaining. You know Kirikou’s going to be a bit special when he lets himself out of the womb and announces his own name. Michel Ocelot designs, writes and directs with a wonderful lightness of touch and instantly brings us into the story despite or, probably, because of, the unique opening scene mentioned above. He successfully evokes an African feel with his striking design choices and unblinking lack of coyness, something you feel would have afflicted an American production. A joy.

This movie contains continual non-sexual nudity.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Sunshine 1.03 (2008, TV) – 8/10 review

Steve Coogan: Bing
Bernard Hill: George
Lisa Millett: Bernadette
Dominic Senior: Joe
Writer: Craig Cash
Writer: Phil Mealey
Producer: John Rushton
Director: Craig Cash
Phil Mealey: Andy
Craig Cash: Bob
Executive Producer: Craig Cash
Executive Producer: Phil Mealey

Sunshine 1.03 Sunshine Season 1 Episode 3 (2008)

Making the breakthrough of realising he needs and asking for help, Bing setts off on the road to recovery. George is thrilled to see his son begin to turn things around before his anticipated demise but doesn’t stop trying to help with every last breath.

8/10

Nice climax to a good mini-series marked by good humour, recognisable humanity and convincing acting. There’s always the concern that filmmakers these days will always choose the darker outcome but Craig Cash and Phil Mealey resist that temptation and instead provide an uplifting, if emotional, ending. Though it didn’t draw a terribly big audience for the time slot, this has been a high quality show for the BBC and, unusually and applaudably, has a distinct lack of objectionable material (there’s no sex, no violence, and only occasional mild bad language).

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Sunshine 1.02 (2008, TV) – 8/10 review

Steve Coogan: Bing
Bernard Hill: George
Lisa Millett: Bernadette
Dominic Senior: Joe
Writer: Craig Cash
Writer: Phil Mealey
Producer: John Rushton
Director: Craig Cash
Phil Mealey: Andy
Craig Cash: Bob
Executive Producer: Craig Cash
Executive Producer: Phil Mealey

Sunshine 1.02 Sunshine Season 1 Episode 2 (2008)

Bernadette throws Bing out after his last straw act of betting the Disneyland fund away"on a sure thing." She tells him they will not be getting back together again but Bing doesn’t really believe her. Now living back at home with his dad, Bing continues on with his life and gambling habits believing everything will work itself out when he finally hits big.

8/10

Beautifully put together with some great writing and acting. Even in troubled times, most people still get on with most of their day-to-day lives and frequently disguise their disappointment in themselves or their circumstances through humour but it’s not something you often see in dramas. This is entirely convincing and highly recognisable as, this week, we concentrate on the break-up of the relationship between Bing and Bernadette. It starts and ends with high emotion but wisely keeps the in-between bits snappy, entertaining and on a fairly even keel. This makes the emotional hits resonate deeper, helped by Steve Coogan who, while largely terrific last week, is 100% perfect.

This Sunshine episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue.

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

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Vantage Point (2008, Movie) – 8/10 review

Director: Pete Travis
Writer: Barry L. Levy
Dennis Quaid: Thomas Barnes
Matthew Fox: Kent Taylor
Forest Whitaker: Howard Lewis
Bruce McGill: Phil McCullough
Edgar Ramirez: Javier
Saïd Taghmaoui: Suarez
Ayelet Zurer: Veronica
Zoë Saldana: Angie Jones
Sigourney Weaver: Rex Brooks
William Hurt: President Ashton

Vantage Point (2008)

A summit in Spain takes a shocking turn when the President of the United States is assassinated and for some of the people present, including slightly shaky Secret Service Agent Thomas Barnes, the day has been an horrific disaster or an outrageous triumph.

8/10

Genuinely thrilling non-stop assassination thriller whose brilliant and brilliantly executed structure completely removes any problems one might have had with a story we’ve seen many times before. While one inevitably compares this to Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon, this does not, regardless of the tagline, feature protagonists who understood the same event in different ways but, rather, the concurrent, consistent but incomplete viewpoints of different people. There is no questioning of the nature of truth or how our perceptions of the same thing are different depending on our character or social circumstance. Trying to out-Rashomon Rashomon is not a mistake this movie makes, and this allows director Pete Travis and writer Barry L. Levy to concentrate on delivering excitement and thrills which it does in spades. A great, fun movie.

This movie contains a sexual swear word, muffled mild swear words and gun violence, melee violence, unpleasant scenes.

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

Metal Gear Solid Tactical Espionage Action 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008, Game, PS3) – 8/10

Game Designer: Hideo Kojima
Writer: Hideo Kojima
Writer: Shuyo Murata
Lead Programmer: Yuji Korekado
Producer: Kenichiro Imaizumi
Producer: Hideo Kojima
Director: Hideo Kojima
David Hayter: Old Snake

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

The world’s balance of power teeters precariously after giving Private Military Corporations (PMC) UN-sanctioned power to be employed by war-mongering countries. When he is asked to assassinate Liquid Snake who is attempting to use his position as secret head of the world’s five largest PMCs to rise up against the US, a prematurely aging Solid Snake sees an opportunity to finally rid the world of the last remnant of Big Boss and his ideals.

8/10

Snake’s situation is now so dire that even his bandana is frowning. Hideo Kojima’s brilliantly produced must-play series offers great gameplay, great boss battles (four Beauties, one Wolf and a Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Ray) and a lot of great cut scenes and, thankfully, no control or camera issues. I’ve saved the world in games before but MGS4, at it’s best, makes you feel like you’re saving the world. This is despite a story which I found difficult to fathom, especially given the events of previous Metal Gear Solids (which are liberally referenced). Maybe it all makes sense. Just not to me. Nevertheless, Metal Gear Solid 4 remains undimmed in its brilliance and adds to the legend of creator Hideo Kojima.

This game contains a sexual swear word, mild swear words and extended gun, blade and melee violence, some extreme melee violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, some very unpleasant scenes and sensuality, ‘fan service’.

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

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Atonement (2007, Movie) – 8/10

Director: Joe Wright
Writer (Screenplay): Christopher Hampton
Writer (Original Novel): Ian McEwan
Executive Producer: Ian McEwan
James McAvoy: Robbie Turner
Keira Knightley: Cecilia Tallis
Romola Garai: Briony, 18
Saoirse Ronan: Briony Tallis, aged 13
Vanessa Redgrave: Older Briony

Atonement (2007)

Budding writer Briony Tallis tells a lie that irrevocably changes the lives of her sister, Cecilia, and her sister’s lover Robbie. As she grows up, she has to come to terms with her action and work out if she can atone for her error.

8/10

Impressively classy and impeccably accented drama which tackles a highly unusual subject (atonement, perhaps unsurprisingly) and presents it in an interesting and stylish manner. The acting, directing and writing is terrific throughout and while it isn’t quite as deep or epic as you’re unavoidably building it up to be, it is satisfactory and agreeably thought-provoking.

This movie contains strong adult dialogue, sexual swear words and subject (pedophiliac rape) and very unpleasant scenes and strong sex scene (no nudity).

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

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997, Movie) – 8/10

Mike Myers: Austin Powers, Dr. Evil
Elizabeth Hurley: Vanessa Kensington
Michael York: Basil Exposition
Mimi Rogers: Mrs. Kensington
Robert Wagner: Number Two
Producer: Suzanne Todd
Producer: Demi Moore
Producer: Jennifer Todd
Producer: Mike Myers
Writer: Mike Myers
Director: Jay Roach

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Frozen in the Sixties, thawed in the Nineties; Austin Powers is brought back to combat a man so evil he is called Dr. Evil. He is assigned the beautiful Vanessa Kensington as his assistant but quickly finds that the Sixties’ values of free love and drugs has no place in the modern world.

8/10

Austin Powers is, perhaps, the first ever film to spoof the Bond franchise and be funny at the same time. It works from the first strains of Quincy Jones Soul Bossa Nova and thanks, not just to Myers’ Dr. Evil as traditionally attributed, but to the charm of Myers’ Austin Powers. He’s an entirely cheerable, self-effacing hero with surprisingly recognisable humanity. On the minus side, Mindy Sterling’s Frau Farbissinia absolutely does not work at all at any point in any way, Seth Green isn’t the comedy genius he thinks he is and Elizabeth Hurley is incapable of acting (though she compensates by looking lovely and having a nice smile).

This movie contains mild swear words, strong adult dialogue and violence, unpleasant scenes and mild sensuality, mild nudity.

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

Continue reading “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997, Movie) – 8/10”

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1993, Movie) – 8/10

Producer: James G. Robinson
Jim Carrey: Ace Ventura
Sean Young: Einhorn
Courteney Cox Arquette: Melissa
Writer (Screenplay): Jack Bernstein
Writer (Screenplay): Tom Shadyac
Writer (Screenplay): Jim Carrey
Writer (Story): Jack Bernstein
Director: Tom Shadyac

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1993)

When dolphin Snowflake, the mascot of the Miami Dolphins football team, is kidnapped, there’s only one man the club can turn to: Ace Ventura, pet detective.

8/10

Superstar-making comedy which relies totally on Jim Carrey’s comedy talents and pacy, often overlooked, direction from Tom Shadyac. Luckily for the audience, this role (which he co-scripted) suits Carrey’s rubber-faced be-quiffed buffoonery down to the ground. He is given able but lightweight support from Cox and Young, but this is Carrey’s show all the way. Some of the jokes are inappropriate (unnecessarily strong sexual content and references; this is an adult comedy with a teen rating) and the audience may be getting a little tired of Ace as the film draws to a close but this is very funny for very much of the time.

This movie contains mild swear words, adult dialogue, explicit sexual innuendo and extreme, sort-of comic, violence and a sex scene, inferred oral sex scene, non-sexual male nudity.

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

PGR: Project Gotham Racing 3 (2005, Game, 360) – 8/10

Project Lead: Gren Atherton
Project Lead: Beverley Bright
Project Lead: Nick Bygrave
Project Lead: Derek Chapman
Project Lead: Alan Mealor
Project Lead: Roger Perkins
Project Lead: Mark Sharratt
Project Lead: Ben O’Sullivan
Project Lead: Paul Spencer
Project Lead: Ged Talbot
Project Lead: Gareth Wilson
Project Lead: Ian Wilson
Project Lead: Nick Wiswell
Game Vision: Martyn Chudley

Project Gotham Racing 3 (2005)

Race cars and bikes against each other and against the clock and against your ability to drive stylishly across five locations around the world (Las Vegas, London, New York City, Nürburgring, Tokyo). Solo Career and Race Against the Clock provide single player challenges and Xbox Live Gold-only modes provide multiplayer gameplay.

8/10

The joy is returned to Project Gotham Racing after the gut-punching misery of PGR2’s solo mode. Obviously the wonderful graphics upgrade delivered by the 360 is highly noticeable (this remains one of the 360’s best-looking games even three years and a sequel later) but almost all areas of the game have been tweaked for the better. Unless you want to be pushed into going on a killing spree, you might want to hold off on Hardcore mode street races for a while because the game cheats horribly and the Time vs Kudos and Cone Challenge events are ridiculous (you should have been restricted to only earning Kudos inside certain areas).

This game contains mild swear words in songs.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.