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James N Simpson RSS Feed (Gold Coast, QLD Australia)
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Maze Runner
Maze Runner
DVD ~ Will Poulter
Price: $11.99
29 used & new from $4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Standalone Storyline Movie, a To Be Continued Watching Experience, Plus Severely Small Amount of in the Maze Action, January 29, 2015
This review is from: Maze Runner (DVD)
First thing to point out is that this movie doesn't have an ending, nothing is wrapped up, it's part one of a three book (so likely four of five movies depending on how much money this first one made at the box office) series. Unlike a traditional done movie that then has sequels, this is like buying a book, ripping it into three sections and making a movie of the introduction and a few chapters beyond. The DVD cover doesn't mention this isn't a standalone viewing experience which I think is a bit unethical.

I had really looked forward to this movie, when it hit the theatres I went out a got a copy of the book. I stopped reading the book after the girl character turns up and all the boys discuss who's going to have their way with her, before that I had found the characters unlikeable so didn't want to keep reading. But the previews for the movie had made me want to see this in the first place so I still gave the film a go, albeit waiting for it to appear on DVD. For the first part of the book that I did read, the movie thankfully leaves out the boring new English language the boys had come up with and they pretty much talk like normal kids do. There is less of a bullying culture in the movie as well, other than the leader boy (kid from We're the Millers), who doesn't want anyone to do anything risky that might upset the way things are, there is really no tension in the film. I didn't read the book far enough to see if the girl becomes much of a character but other than when she first wakes up and starts throwing rocks from a tower, she doesn't seem to have any point in the movie. If they sent another boy in, it would have made no difference. It didn't make sense that she had so much alone time in a world where there had just been boys, some of which had been there for years, who you would think all be competing for her attention. Yet no one even seems interested in talking to her.

I thought with the movie being called The Maze Runner, there would be more in the maze action and that we'd see all kind of fun hazards and creatures for the kids to overcome in their bid to find their way out. There's hardly any maze action at all and what there is, is just computer generated walls and towers and obvious running in front of green screen. I won't give away the ending for want of a better word but it really made the whole rest of the movie not make a great deal of sense and there surely would be a simpler way to achieve that goal.

Price: $9.99
25 used & new from $9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Morals of War, January 28, 2015
This review is from: Fury (DVD)
When this first started playing, with the red laser beams I wondered if this was going to be some sort of Star Wars World War II mash up and if Pitt was going to emerge from the hatch of the tank and start deflecting the enemy's fire with a lightsaber while some ewoks rode logs that would smash into the sides of German tanks taking them out. Thankfully apart from the bizarre red laser beams the rest of the movie is pretty time period accurate. Other reviewers have found fault with the tank battle tactics and they're probably right but from an entertainment point of view they keep the story rolling and I from the inside the tank scenes definitely got the claustrophobic and unpleasant feeling of what it must have been like to endure being inside one. Fury is basically a morals of war story, where we pretty much experience the last part of World War II, where the allied forces advanced towards Berlin, through the eyes of a young guy who is pulled from his typist job to replace a killed in action tank soldier. Spoilers follow - It is obvious that actual war is a lot different to what the young man thought it would be, and that he clearly had a romanticised viewpoint of what soldiers need to do, likely believing that the Germans were the only ones to do some things he witnesses by our side and is asked to do. His reluctance to kill anyone without reason costs another tank crew their lives and his angry crew need him to get over that so they can survive the war and demand he shoots an unarmed German prisoner of war as the soldier begs for his life. His morals will be further be tested with the German female survivors of a town the allied forces capture.

In a way this is your often told war tale of a newbie winning acceptance by a group of hardened soldiers that have been fighting together for years. But it's refreshing that it isn't a patriotic our side were the good guys so never did anything wrong black and white viewpoint of war. I backpacked Europe in 2000 and 2001 and spent quite a bit of time in Germany and did hear some of the survival stories by women who were kids or young women during the fall of Germany and think it's nice that an allied country made movie actually acknowledges what they had to go through. When I and other backpackers from allied countries such as the US heard these tales we all later acknowledged we never thought about that side of things at all and certainly aren't taught about that in school. So for those women I think it's great that it is included, even if obviously the scenes in the Fury movie are a lot milder version. I think the actresses did a great job at portraying these woman especially the woman being pulled up into the tank being told she will also be sleeping with the other guy as well. You could see the fear and acceptance of doing what it took to survive in her eyes. The hiding the younger girl to try and avoid the same fate also parallels the stories I was told. Obviously not all allied troops participated in this sort of thing but it's good that the fact it did happen in some towns is acknowledged.

The ending of the movie again falls into the Hollywood over the top type way of cheapening the realism in order to have a big action experience. Dumbing down the ability and skills of the enemy to me doesn't acknowledge the skill, guts and bravery that those who fought and survived as well as those who also paid the ultimate price. But this is a standard Hollywood practice. Overall though it's a good war film and well worth watching.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2015 6:53 PM PST

John Doe: Vigilante
John Doe: Vigilante
DVD ~ Jamie Bamber
Price: $13.99
27 used & new from $9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different Way to Tell a Delving Out Justice Story, January 27, 2015
This review is from: John Doe: Vigilante (DVD)
This is on one hand, your typical victim whose had enough and decides to clean up the neighbourhood of repeat violent crime offenders who the Victorian (state in Australia) prison system keep giving a slap on the wrist to and letting out of jail due to the standard overcrowding, criminals are victims too mentality and that kind of thing. John Doe videotapes and uploads his brutal justice and has therefore become quite the hero to the public who have also had enough of victims’ rights being second to criminals’ ones. On the other hand it is different to that norm as this isn’t a trying to catch him by a reluctant to really want to homicide police department film. We start the film off with a massive crowd outside of a court in Melbourne, we’re told by the TV reporter at over 100 000 people strong, waiting on John’s sentencing, loudly demanding he be set free. The story is told as interviews with John (or his victim’s families) as well as flashbacks of John delving out justice, one scumbag at a time as he recounts them. There’s also a supporter movement called Speak for the Dead whose leader is interviewed to camera throughout as well and we see what some of those followers got up to by flashbacks as well.

I quite liked the film, at first I thought the style would lessen that enjoyment but ultimately it worked. Jamie Bamber does a good job as the vigilante as do the actors playing his victims who make them very unlikeable and therefore increase your enjoyment of seeing each of them get their comeuppance.

Platinum Collection
Platinum Collection
Price: $24.94
17 used & new from $8.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album, Most are Live or Acoustic Versions Though, January 26, 2015
This review is from: Platinum Collection (Audio CD)
This is a nice collection, since Amazon hasn't provided the track listings I'll do so in a minute, but what you might want to take note of is that contrary to what you're probably thinking with the words Platinum Collection, this isn't a greatest hits type album. Most of the tracks on this CD are live or acoustic versions. The reason I mention this is that I ordered this as I was after With a Little Help From My Friends as I'm into the full versions of TV show theme songs, (yeah I know that's unusual), and upon hearing of this legendary artist's passing I thought I really should get around to getting that track from The Wonder Years. Although the 9 and a half minute live version sounds great, it wasn't what I was after. But that's my fault for not researching this further before ordering. All the live or acoustic tracks sound great by the way and there's certainly many of his big hits on here, just not as their single or album versions.

The tracks (I'm assuming the ones that aren't live or acoustic are the original versions but I don't own any other Cocker albums to confirm, they sound close to what I remember from whenever they are played on the radio though. Perhaps another reviewer down the track can do so, or feel free to comment on this review if you know).
1. Unchained My Heart
2. You Can Leave Your Hat On
3. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (Live)
4. Delta Lady (Acoustic)
5. Summer in the City
6. Hitchcock Railway
7. The Letter (Live)
8. Have a Little Faith in Me
9. With a Little Help From My Friends (Live)
10. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Acoustic)
11. Many Rivers to Cross (Acoustic)
12. Up Where We Belong (Live)
13. Feelin' Alright (Live)
14. Could You Be Loved
15. You Are So Beautiful (Acoustic)
16. Shelter Me
17. Tempted

The cover insert doesn't have any lyrics or more importantly so I could tell you if you collect live tracks mention where these tracks were played live either for some reason or when they were recorded. The album was put together in 2013 for Liberation Music part of the Mushroom Group.

The Five-Year Engagement
The Five-Year Engagement
DVD ~ Emily Blunt
Price: $14.98
110 used & new from $0.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Has Some Good Moments But Drags on Between Scenes, a Bit of Editing Down the Length Would Have Been Beneficial As Well, January 26, 2015
This review is from: The Five-Year Engagement (DVD)
The Five-Year Engagement is a watchable movie but it could have been edited a bit time wise, as it does drag on a bit in parts. I didn't look at how long the movie was before watching it but noticed it was getting a lot later than I thought it would be when I was only what turned out to be about three quarters through. Longer movies aren't always a bad thing, but I think if you don't notice the clock ticking than it's not an issue but at times you do notice The Five-Year Engagement dragging on. I mean how many times did we need to relive the pink bunny, Princess Diana party scenes? The movie goes for over two hours and does drag a little between each of the set up to be humorous scenes.

Siegel doesn't break any new acting ground with his character Tom, who you've experienced before if you've watched most other couple based films he's been in, just with a different name and occupation. Basically a good natured guy who is a bit of a doormat to the woman in his life. In this one he's a successful San Francisco chef who follows his fiancée's career dreams to Michigan only to find people laughing at him or taking advantage of him when he asks for work in the industry. The only place he can find work is at a hamburger joint that of course all of his wife's colleagues are familiar with. Tom hates it there and doesn't feel he is fulfilling the male role in the relationship. Of course his girlfriend Violet (Emily Blunt) is not only oblivious to the problem, but gets annoyed by the changes in Tom to fit in with his new Michigan colleagues and friends. Meanwhile their former best friends who weren't into each other at all but slept together and have a baby on the way are living more of Tom and Violet's dream than they are.

I found the best friend's who remained in San Francisco relationship to be a lot less believable, especially when Alex is recounting his interactions with Alison that he pressured her to abort the baby, then to adopt it out. I can't see a person who obviously had the opposite outlook on life not just becoming a single parent and trying to hook up with someone else down the track, especially when the best friends that linked them socially aren't around anymore. If they both wanted the baby that would have been the link of course but I just didn't see it plausible that they'd be together.

Post Grad [Import anglais]
Post Grad [Import anglais]
10 used & new from $4.43

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Film That Highlights the Reality a Lot of University Graduates Find Exists, Ending Was a Bit Weak Though, January 24, 2015
This review is from: Post Grad [Import anglais] (DVD)
Post Grad stars Gilmore Girl's Alexis Bledel as Ryden, a girl who did all the right things in high school and university and expects to land a job with her dream employer doing what she's always wanted to do, as that's what teachers, parents and everyone else has told her will happen if she put in the hard work during her young life. Something I and lots of other people can no doubt relate to. However at the interview (by sheer coincidence her dream job just happens to have a vacancy at the time she graduates) the interviewer pretty much says next after she gives a well rehearsed trained for positive answer to the first question. Reality hits, her dream employer simply isn't interested, neither are lesser in her mind publication houses. Her dad (Michael Keaton) wants to start a belt buckle from home retail venture, she can't think of anything that screams life failure more so than joining him with that. Depressed and mentally lost she doesn't know what to do. To make matters worse her best friend just isn't taking the hint that they are only ever going to be friends and his father wants him to move to New York to become a lawyer. Life hasn't turned out the way she thought it would.

Post Grad is certainly above the standard of a simply watchable film. It's nice to see Jane Lynch not just playing another version of Sue Sylvester (Glee would air the same year this movie hit cinemas), she doesn't have memorable lines in this, which fits the movie since the movie isn't about her character (she's Ryden's mother). Keaton is somewhat underutilised but you've got to remember in 2009 it had been a few decades since he had been in anything that had much success box office wise when he was a household name in the 80's and early 90's, he was probably in this as a recognisable face to make the parents think about buying or renting this to watch with their graduating age kids. No doubt this may have spent a week or two in cinemas but it was pretty much a straight to DVD type movie. It's probably Lynch and Keaton that will carry the marketability of this DVD into the future as Bledel's post Gilmore career unfortunately seems to have died with this movie. A shame as she plays a very likeable character on the screen. Perhaps she's became a bit typecast as a teen/early twenties daughter and you can only plausibly pull that off for so long when you get older in real life. If we're being honest Ryden is pretty similar to the character Rory on Gilmore Girls so that probably didn't help her career either.

But I enjoyed this movie, as a university graduate myself I can relate to the how hard it is to find employment in the field you studied and the ridiculous way from high school days to selecting your university to even when your doing the degree you are told you will. Most people I still know from university don't work in the industry they studied, I certainly don't so I found it refreshing that this movie highlighted reality. You could even throw in the reality from the best friend who wants to be more than friends point of view, seeing the girl you'd do anything for pick a shallow older guy who you know is just going to use and then give the flick to. This is also a fairly common reality check for a lot of guys, again I've been there. Spoilers follow - although the first part of the film tells the story like happens in the real world, I was disappointed that they decided to make this a happy ending "chick flick' style realise the guy you should be with is the best friend type movie. Why couldn't he have noticed someone else and she meet someone else rather than just deciding to throw away her non relationship dreams, move to New York and I guess become a stay at home housewife down the track. Doesn't really seem plausible to me, plus how long would they last when reality hits home that he's still the same guy she only wanted to be friends with in the first place and she's bored just being a girlfriend doing whatever job she can find in New York to pay the bills before he knocks her up.

With a better ending this would have been a great film but it's still a fairly decent viewing experience. Especially if you've undergone tertiary education yourself and found the real world a lot harder to achieve your dreams than was portrayed by others throughout your childhood.

DVD ~ Ethan Hawke
2 used & new from $25.94

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Time Travel Cop Tale Than I Thought it Would Be, Too Predictable Though to Rate Any Higher, January 24, 2015
This review is from: Predestination (DVD)
I knew nothing about this movie before watching it other than it had something to do with time travel police and have to say the plot was quite different to most time travel cop films. I did wonder if I had picked up a film with a similar name to the time travel one when for the first half of the film we're just hearing the sad story by an angry man in a bar about his childhood when he was a little girl (no that's not a typo). However it actually is a time travel film, although disappointingly it takes the lazy option of clothes and everything else around a violin case time machine also travelling to the past. To say once the movie got going that it was extremely predictable as to what the bigger picture going on is, would be an understatement. It's not a fast paced, action based or comedy based time travel film. If you're after one of those, your best to look elsewhere. This is a slow paced sad tale type of time travel adventure, it is a decent story, but very, very predictable.

Have to make a mention of the brilliant acting by Sarah Snook though, she should if she hasn't already win best actress awards for her performance in this.

They Came Together
They Came Together
DVD ~ Christopher Meloni
Offered by SpReAdLoVe
Price: $9.73
72 used & new from $1.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Like Hot Shots, Naked Gun, UHF, Scary Movie and Other Films That Parody Serious Movies, This Time Tackling Chick Flick Romance, January 22, 2015
This review is from: They Came Together (DVD)
They Came Together views more like a series of skits than a traditionally told story. At times the storyline doesn't flow smoothly between parodies of different movie key scenes the writing effort is in the gags more so than the overall story. The premise is basically a series of flashbacks as to how a couple met then later decided to marry told in a restaurant table conversation with another couple. Of course along the way there were plenty of things that went wrong, they broke up got back together and dated other people. It's a quite disjointed movie, but the skits are quite fun and make fun of your mass produced chick flick romance film scenarios. If you're familiar with the original movies being parodied, this obviously helps. I also enjoyed the large number of minor character appearances of main but not the lead actors from successful TV shows. Such as the woman who played Charlie's stalker neighbour from Two and a Half Men, the serious cop from Law and Order SVU, Robin from How I Met Your Mother, the annoying guy from New Girl and many others, even Judge Judy makes an appearance a few times in this film.

If you like parody movies and don't mind if the overall story is a bit disjointed then you'll love this.

BMX Bandits
BMX Bandits
DVD ~ Nicole Kidman
Price: $14.09
30 used & new from $6.97

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Film from the 80's to Watch Again!, January 21, 2015
This review is from: BMX Bandits (DVD)
When I saw this was on DVD I just had to relive it. Every kid in the 80's had a BMX bike which they rode to school in Australia, I don't know how old I was when I originally saw this movie but watching it today, bike stunts and a few other things don't quite live up to the "awesome" memory of the stunts I had, there's lots of riding down stairs and escalators, but overall I'm still glad I watched it again. The waterslide scene I'd remembered all these years was great to see again. Watching BMX Bandits today the main bad guy henchman kind of reminded me of a cross between Billy Idol and Bill from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. This is the type of film where at no time even when they are talking about killing the kids or trying to run them down with their car do you ever believe any of the dim-witted henchman will actually harm the kids. The movie was rated G when it released, it's definitely a kids' film but that doesn't as an adult you won't also enjoy it.

Nicole Kidman may well be the only actor in this that went onto much of a career, I mean if you go to the IMBD page every other actor has no photograph. But they all did an all right job, I particularly liked the actor who played the fat rich bully kid, he did a good job. Most Australian TV shows in the 80's had a fat kid in them who was either full of himself or a bully and always got his comeuppance constantly throughout the film or episode. Kind of like the character in the American film Goonies but a little different. Huge walkie talkies where you could actually poke someone in the eye with the long aerial and other retro stuff from the 80's make this a great film to remember the past.

If you want to know the basic plot its simply two kids have their BMX bikes wrecked when the bully kid I mentioned earlier pushes Nicole Kidman's supermarket trolleys she has collected into their path. Nicole's character is fired and the three kids decide to come up with a plan to repair the two bikes and buy a new one for Nicole, so they decide to collect sea food living in Sydney Harbour to sell. When pulling up a heavy lobster trap to steal some lucrative crustaceans they instead pull up a well wrapped crate. Thinking it may have hidden money or something they quickly speed off in their boat as two bank robber thugs come to collect their merchandise needed for an upcoming job. Somehow even though the thugs are in a powerful racing speed boat and the kids in their inflatable motor boat were close enough for them to come to the conclusion they stole their walkie talkies, they don't actually catch them. The kids decide to sell the walkie talkies to other kids but also attract the attention of the police since the walkie talkies are set on the police bandwidth. While fixing their bikes with the new parts the boys overhear on the walkie talkies Nicole's character being threatened by the thugs, luckily they seem to be rideable so the boys save her from the thugs then the rest of the film is basically the trio being chased through the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly by the thugs in a car riding their bikes through all kinds of obstacles.

There is the odd poor writing in the script moments such as when the thugs are told about the walkie talkies they are told they can hear the police but the police can't hear them. The opposite is what happens throughout the rest of the film when the kids use them. But this sort of adds to the fun of the viewing experience of a classic 80's Australian kid's film. If you want to watch a similar film with mountain bikes check out the 2012 film Premium Rush with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The Giver DVD
The Giver DVD
DVD ~ Jeff Bridges
Price: $12.96
36 used & new from $4.35

3.0 out of 5 stars Should Have Had Younger Characters, Needed a Better Ending, January 21, 2015
This review is from: The Giver DVD (DVD)
The Giver is based on an old 1993 junior paperback book that has even become part of the curriculum is some schools. The main character Jonas in the book is 11 years old, this Hollywood spin on that book has his character at the older end of the teen scale played by an actor obviously in his mid twenties. I don't really think the older character worked well for the story. I haven't read Lois Lowry's novel but a lot of the outlook through the eyes look at life stuff in the movie does better suit a child than a young adult. Obviously the movie studios were cashing in on other successful controlled community colonies movies such as The Hunger Games, Divergent and altered the book to catch that teen character driven success wave. Obviously that's why they also threw in Taylor Swift in a cameo appearance where she pretty much just plays a piano. The movie also has the fan base pulling power of True Blood with Alexander Skarsgard and Dawson's Creek, although I think the target audience would know Katie Holmes more from celebrity magazine paparazzi page shots.

The film worked well in presenting a cult type existence of it's residents who are daily injecting themselves with a drug that alters their brain into a sort of high functioning zombie type state (completely plausible we've seen this happen in Haiti and other places), the drug also stops them from seeing colour (so they don't know it exists). Women assigned roles of getting pregnant (and obviously killed when they got too old), others of both gender to look after them. I thought though that the seeing colour for the first time moments for Jonas though weren't realistic, they came across as a minor thing when that should instead of been huge. The film explained the role of the receiver and giver but I didn't get what the drone pilots would do most of the time.

For me (and there's spoilers that hint at the ending here if you want to stop reading) what let the film down was the ridiculous if you cross a point on the map you'll undo the cult's work and make everyone fully functional humans again. This made a somewhat plausible film (assuming the memories were transferred through the hands by microscopic robots entering the brain or something) into a lame kids (it's magic) film. If the line turned out to be purely misinformation placed by the cult this would have maybe even worked, but as it is it lets down the film.

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