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Renfield "Up the Irons" RSS Feed (Edmonton, Canada)

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol.1
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol.1
Price: $7.82
128 used & new from $3.70

163 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to fly around in your spaceship and steal ancient interstellar artifacts to, August 4, 2014
There's no doubting that Guardians of the Galaxy is the first truly fun movie you'll see all summer. In a summer where the truly fantastic movies' themes have been the daddy issues and nuclear nightmares of gigantic radioactive dinosaurs, and xenophobia in an planet where humans and apes struggle to coexist, halfway through the summer comes the first film that has been the total escape of the year. Sure, it isn't a perfect movie- there are some issues with pacing, and the villains' dialogue is a tad corny, and some underdeveloped character relationships, but none of that matters when you're having so much fun and reveling in the action, clever dialogue, amazing visuals and in general, the nostalgia that the themes conjure up such as elements of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and even The Avengers. But one thing that is perfect? Its soundtrack. I say without exaggeration that you will walk out with several of its 1970s retro gold tracks in your head. And since I've picked up the soundtrack CD on Friday, I haven't been able to stop listening to it since- it's been on my iPad, my phone, on the way to work during dinner, etc. And I can say that one listen is enough to get this effect going.

Mix tapes play a big part of the film's themes. The protagonist, Peter "Starlord" Quill, has a Walkman he keeps on him as he goes around and steals ancient artifacts from far-off planets- something he's had since he was a kid, and a tape deck on his spaceship. He has his "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" he has had since childhood, and its music, in addition to Tyler Bates' incidental music, is what makes up the heart of the film. And on its own, it's just as great, if maybe even better. The entire album is 12 1970s hits, some you can sing along to by heart, some you forgot even existed, and others you may have never even heard. And it works- the soundtrack isn't just nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. It's music that people of all walks of life will love- in fact, when's the last time you can say you've played tracks like "Hooked on a Feeling" or "Come and Get Your Love" at full blast? That's why the soundtrack works- it's an eclectic mix of classics that's suited for any occasion whatsoever.

In a nice touch, the executive soundtrack producers (director James Gunn, Exec. producer Kevin Feige and Dave Jordan) have re-mastered the tracks in a way to make the tracks sound as if they're being played through an old tape deck, to keep the feel of the tracks. In addition, the track selection is nothing short of perfect. If this were any other film, tracks such as "I Want You Back" or "O-o-h Child" being on the soundtrack would come off as passé, but here, it makes perfect sense, given the film's themes and nostalgic feel. Starting off the tracklist on an energetic note with Blue Swede's cover of "Hooked on a Feeling" and ending with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", the tracklist is consistent- a rollercoaster of high energy uptempo rockers ("Cherry Bomb", "Spirit in the Sky"), smooth ballads to even things out ("Fooled Around and Fell in Love", "I'm Not in Love"), and funky pop classics ("I Want You Back", "Come and Get My Love"). Every track on the disc is perfectly placed, and not once does the energy come to a stop. In the context of the film, they work equally as fantastic- watching our heroes get ready for war to the sounds of "Cherry Bomb", watching Quill get down and boogie to "Come and Get My Love" over the opening credits, watching Quill fly his way back to his ship in his battle gear to the funky sounds of "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)". What's not to love?

In short, this soundtrack is for everyone. The older crowd will love having a collection of hits to remind them of the good old days of the seventies, the younger crowd can use this to put themselves in their dad's shoes and remember what it was like to be a teenager and be groovin' to tunes like "Hooked on a Feeling" and "Spirit in the Sky". As of writing, this album is currently the highest selling soundtrack of the year, and it's hardly a surprise to me- both in the sense that it's just so freaking good, and in the sense that the day I bought it, I had to go to three stores just to get it. So, by all means, buy this album. Get out your red leather coat, protective helmet and hook your mini Jetpack to your shoes, rev up your spaceship, fly around and dance around in the vast deserts of interstellar planets to these songs. Go join a group of heroes that includes a bitter and cynical raccoon, a walking tree, an angsty alien and a green warrior woman. Play these songs just to annoy them. Whatever the case, this is an absolute must-buy.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2015 6:39 AM PST

Bates Motel: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
Bates Motel: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
DVD ~ Vera Farmiga
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $24.66
41 used & new from $13.97

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Drunk on success, July 16, 2014
Second seasons are almost always impossible to get right nowadays. Scratch that, actually: second seasons have always been hard to get right. But every now and then there are exceptions. The two that stand out in my mind are The X-Files and 24. The reason for these choices are that both concepts that are already alarmingly consistent and tense and continue to build tension and intrigue in their sophomore seasons. 24's second season showed Jack caught in a decidedly sadistic terrorist plot by mistake and enduring torture and heightening intensity until the season ended on an explosive climax. The X-Files showed our agents getting more terrifying, strange, unusually and psychologically compelling cases such as "The Calusari" and the episode that is without a doubt the gold standard for the series, "Anasazi". Moving on, second season syndrome seems to be as dormant as ever nowadays and particularly disappointing cases are "Heroes" and "American Horror Story". But it's easy to understand why: the first season seems to be awesome because it set everything in place, and season 2 tries to up it by trying way too hard.

Disappointingly, Bates Motel is a show that could have, and really should have avoided this. Maybe it shouldn't have been such a hit in the first place, but looking at the first season: it was edgy, it was fast paced, it was true to the movie's psychological nature and featured a stellar performance from Freddie Highmore, who hit all the right notes while giving his own spin on Norman Bates, with Vera Farminga proving to us she could play a psycho mum really well. And the show managed to do all of this while remaining relatively simple. Murder plot, interesting subplot about a tortured girl, and the underlying theme of Norman's deteriorating mental state thanks largely to his mother.

And what do we get with season 2? Well, a lot of things. Too many things. We get several love triangles, all of which are uninteresting. We watch an important character from season 1 get killed off stupidly early in the season and in comes this uninteresting girl named Cody, who is essentially just a more rebellious and snooty Bradley (and she's extremely boring too- at no point did I care if she died or just went away). Emma has some guy she takes a fancy to, and this is largely ignored, but when it's brought up, it's treated like the most important plot in the show. Then we get Norma's subplot with the bypass and her love for men in the town council. Then we get a drug farming subplot that seems like a bad first draft for Breaking Bad. Then we get Norman killing a guy in self defense and it's immediately brushed off like a little indiscretion. Then we get Norman having blackouts. Then we get the resolution to the principal's murder from season 1 (but it comes off as lazy and last minute). Then we get... by now you get it. Or you don't. But it's alright if you don't, because it's not like any of these are particularly interesting.

Not helping matters is that this season is only TEN EPISODES LONG, like season one. Clearly this format is proving to be a writing problem for the show. Ten episodes is enough for a show like Game of Thrones because each season is based on a book from the series and each episode is a full hour, exploring Westeros. But here, these writers are apparently so happy about the success of their beloved Bates Motel that they feel more is better. Sometimes it can be, like the aforementioned 24 second season. But look at how last minute the marijuana farming subplot is. And why is there so much focus on Norma? What about Norman's blackouts? I'm sure this will be explained in season 3, but here it just feels like lazy writing all around.

I'll watch season 3, because like I mentioned, bad second seasons are pretty much a standard for TV nowadays. I get that not every show can be Hannibal nowadays. But that can't mean that it can't be good. Though considering how many movies there were in the Psycho franchise, maybe bringing in elements from the sequels could help to explain the convoluted plots and back stories here, but if not, then it'll be even more clear that this show is a victim of its own success.

In the Flesh
In the Flesh
DVD ~ Various
Price: $12.41
38 used & new from $3.19

5.0 out of 5 stars More brains than blood (literally and figuratively), June 4, 2014
This review is from: In the Flesh (DVD)
I'll admit that I myself am getting tired of the whole zombie craze. Oh, I love zombies, but we have seen more zombie flicks and works of fiction since The Walking Dead hit screens in 2010. And you know something, if I was 13 when that show premiered, I probably would have loved it, but I was a grumpy 19 year old and I hated it. And now four years later, I've finally cut my teeth on BBC Three's brilliant new sleeper hit and a show that is on its way to becoming a huge phenomenon, In the Flesh. And man, a lot of the zombies here are (understandably) grumpy too, but that's besides the point. I'll admit that having heard about the whole concept and having caught the last ten minutes of a recent episode on the Space Channel here in Canada, that's when I finally gave in.

In the Flesh is an absolutely brilliant zombie series that is something so much more. The show doesn't think you're stupid, it's very rich in character and has absolutely brilliant performances, the story is compelling and it doesn't throw unnecessary gore at the screen to keep you awake. It's a drama, first and foremost, and a compelling one at that. It's also sadly very relevant to today's society and explores issues that are going in in the world right now with zombies as the allegory- be it for homosexuals, people of different colour, religion, etc. But most importantly is that Dominic Mitchell shifts his sole focus to the characters and he is so good at making us care about these characters. Add to that one of the best lead actors in years, Luke Newberry, and you have a show that deserves to be a major hit.

The story revolves around 24 year old Kieren Walker. He is a zombie, one of the many who rose from the dead in an apocalyptic event called "the rising". He's a handsome, soft-spoken and conservative individual who took his own life 5 years back when his best friend (or was it more?) died in Afghanistan. He, and many of the other zombies are referred to as sufferers of "Partially Deceased Syndrome" (the politically correct version of the word "zombie") and is reminded that what happened in their untreated state is not their fault. He returns to his family, and almost immediately is faced with the task of trying to make peace with them after all those years ago, when he killed himself. Adjusting to home life isn't hard at first, but it soon gets tough when he has to put up with discrimination from the townsfolk on a regular basis and is commonly referred to as a "rotter" (basically a fantastical n-word for zombies)... and must deal with his extreme,y zombie-phobic sister, who helped kill zombies during the rising. He meets a new friend named Amy, who herself is a PDS sufferer and begins to immerse himself into society again, but he has a lot of confronting of his own demons to do before he can allow himself to live a normal life again.

This show is fantastic because it makes you think, it challenges you to consider what you would do if you were in Kieren's situation, and you can't help but feel bad for poor Kieren and want to give him a hug. So many shows nowadays try too hard by forcing cliched issues in to make you care for the characters, but Mitchell shows these characters as people who aren't exactly perfect, but are interesting in their own right. The absolutely fantastic cast helps it too- Newberry's performance is absolutely fantastic and never once over-acts or under-acts, you believe every word out of his mouth. Bevan's performance as Amy Dyer is equally charming and you can't help but love her. And even the bleak and depressing atmosphere of the show presented enhances the real sense of hopelessness and despair present throughout the show- in addition to the absolutely stellar writing from Dom Mitchell.

In short, this is a new show that deserves to be a hit. As I type this, I'm all caught up and am anticipating Sunday's series 2 finale. By all means, check it out.

No Title Available

7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History shows again and again how nature points up at the folly of men!, May 18, 2014
(Warning, here be spoilers)

Well. It's been quite a while since I've done a big review like this, and I don't think any film is more deserving than Godzilla. There's a number of reasons the hype around it has been monumental as of late; it's the first American Godzilla movie since 1998's failed attempt at giving Hollywood its own Godzilla; it's the first Godzilla movie in ten years altogether since the rather disappointing 2004 film "Final Wars; and it's being released on the 60th anniversary of Godzilla. And I must add, it's the first truly impressive film of the summer; it starts the summer movie season off in fine style, and hopefully it's the beginning of many more Godzilla movies to come. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but this Godzilla will for sure have lots of longevity, if I do say so myself.

The film is the closest to perfection any Godzilla movie has been since 1954. That's a bold statement, but it's the first film since the 1954 movie that's been ever-so-close to total perfection. It's everything you want in a Godzilla movie, and everything you don't know you want, too. There is but a small gripe I have with the film that prevents it from being perfect, but I'll explain that later. I've seen the movie twice as of writing, and I can tell you it's stayed with me since.

The film is already impressive off the bat with the opening titles. The opening titles are similar to the 1998 movie, with the titles being shown over footage of nuclear tests, but they're done way better here. Whereas in 1998 we are treated to generic font over what looks like footage that was shot through a jar of urine, here we're shown old newsreel footage, and every credit is shown in paragraphs, designed to look like they're ripped straight from scientific reports. The non-credit parts are suddenly whited-out to show the "DIRECTED BY GARETH EDWARDS" type stuff. In addition, Alexandre Desplat's score is just magnificent. It's not the typical Hans Zimmer "BWOOOOONG" that seems dominant in tons of music scores today. In fact, the score is very nostalgic throughout, with some influence taken from classic blockbusters and even Bernard Herrman's Hitchcock scores, with even a dash of Cliff Martinez.

The bulk of the film follows Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson. Much of the first half deals with his complicated relationship with his father Joe (Bryan Cranston)- in fact, near the beginning of the film, we see the tragedy that has estranged them both- they lived in Japan in 1999, when Ford was (I think- they never quite make it clear how old he is) 12 years old. At the Janjira power plant in Janjira, something of a large earthquake happens which causes a radiation burst, causing Joe to lose his wife (Juliette Binoche) in the disaster. Fifteen years later, Ford is an EOD in the American military, has a wife named Elle (Elizabeth Olson) and an adorable little boy named Sam. On the very night he arrives home from service, he gets a call from officials, telling him that Joe was arrested for trespassing in a quarantine area. So he heads to Japan to sort things out with his dad, who reveals that he was in the area where their house was, to get floppy discs containing data about the disaster. So they go to the house the next day only to find that there's no radiation left, and they get the discs, only to be arrested- AGAIN, and taken to the Janjira plant.

This is where we are introduced to the central conflict: the MUTO (massive unidentified terrestrial organism). There's a large, nest-like object at the plant, and after some interrogation, the officials at the plant- in particular, a pair of researchers named Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivenne Graham (Sally Hawkins), who suddenly notice what he's talking about and realize he is indeed correct. The nest looks about ready to hatch, and officials order the workers to kill it- but they fail, and we get our first glimpse of the MUTO. These things look like a cross between tarantulas and bats- they're huge, and absolutely TERRIFYING. After an attack at the plant, the military is ordered to follow the MUTO wherever it goes.

Now I know what you're thinking at this point. "What about Godzilla, that IS what the movie is called. Right?" Well, here it's where they reveal Godzilla. In the military carrier named the USS Saratoga, Ford is brought into a room where they show him footage of supposed nuclear tests on 1954 that weren't, in fact, tests. They were attempts to kill the creature they call, "Gojira". It is revealed that Gojira is on the move too, but they don't know where. And at this point, it's an hour into the film, and we get our first glimpse of the beast here. In Hawaii, the MUTO from earlier in the movie and a wing-less MUTO attack. One has knocked a submarine into the rainforest and another is attacking the airport. At the airport is where we see the titular creature. After a tsunami, he appears, and stomps over to the airport in what might be one of the coolest reveals I've ever seen. A full pan up his body to his face revealing a horrifying sinister grin, before he lets out his infamous "SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOONNNNNKKKKK!!!" roar that has made him such a household name.

I'll stop with the spoiling right there because the rest is too good. It's true that Godzilla's screentime is mostly limited to the final act, but the thing is, that is hardly a problem because the rest of the film surrounding his appearance is so good. There's tons of suspense and intrigue. One thing the film really does good is show how substantial the damage is- not by showing the attacks outright but showing the aftermath- the presence of the MUTO attacks is felt through those shots, which only makes the actual attack that much more horrifying. The film does a good job at making us care for the characters too, and you also really hope that Ford will make it home on time too.

The cinematography in the film is just magnificent. I fully recommend the IMAX experience- in fact, for the cinematography alone the price is worth it. The aerial shots of Japan, San Francisco, Hawaii, etc. in particular are just awesome. Gareth Edwards' direction is magnificent and he has an eye for detail. Whereas most monster/disaster movies show the attacks and what not outright, he chooses to limit your perspective of the attacks and what not to small doses. This is incredibly effective so then you won't feel tired of the film by the time the final battle swings around. One problem I have with the Transformers movies is that by the time the final battle swings around, I've sat through so much destruction and chaos that I'm ready for it to end, my arse becomes numb and there really is no reason for it to be as long as it is. That isn't the case with Godzilla. It's just a few minutes over two hours, and it goes by very quickly. Transformers feels like it's ten hours long, but Godzilla makes such good use of its runtime that it goes by quickly, and if anything, you wouldn't mind if it went on for longer because your attention is held firmly.

And yes, I am indeed praising the rather limited Godzilla screentime. By the time Godzilla shows up for the final battle, you've gone for so long without him that you don't even care he's been out of the movie for so long, and that is because the scenes with the MUTOs are satisfying, the drama is satisfying, and the characters work. The final battle is spectacular. The battle starts when Big G and the MUTO arrive in San Francisco, and it does indeed cut away quite a bit, but not like it bothers me at all. We see a whole battle in full when the HALO Jump bit as seen in the trailers begins. The battle itself is just wicked, if you're like me and you took great joy in watching a guy in a ridiculous rubber suit battling another guy in a rubber suit, the battle feels almost like an updated version of that. Garett's attention to detail also shows here- when we finally see his atomic breath, his spines light up one by one, only making it more exciting. Godzilla is just brutal on the MUTO, but the MUTO also are pretty brutal, given the size. And yes, Godzilla is indeed seen as an anti-hero in the film. He has no quarrel with the humans and only intends on killing the MUTO and nobody else. He still leaves people dead in his wake, but it's clear he doesn't intend to and is happy to be away from civilization.

Oh, and the final minute of the movie is amazing too. I won't give it away, but it's chilling. Synced with Desplat's score, it's just beautiful.

Overall, I give the film a 9/10. Not since The Avengers has the summer season started off so satisfyingly. If I had one gripe, it's a small one at that, it's that there is a bit too much MUTO screentime, but that doesn't take away too much. I strongly advise you to see this film with the biggest screen possible- IMAX especially. I saw it in AVX and while it was satisfying there, IMAX was even better. I for sure look forward to seeing it a third time, and eventually owning the movie when it comes out on blu-ray- in fact, I can't wait already to hear Big G's roar shake my BOSE sound system!!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2014 6:09 PM PDT

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
DVD ~ Will Ferrell
Offered by itembazaar
Price: $3.99
152 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lower your expectations and you'll have a blast, April 5, 2014
I find the abundance of negative reviews interesting because despite my rather messy memory, I remember when the first Anchorman film came out. And I can promise you, that film had a similar amount of negative press from users. Yet over the years, with the emergence of social networks and in the school hallways, I'd find words like "Great Odin's raven!" Or "Invitation to the pants party" thrown around like de-icing salt. And I'm pretty sure that this film will have a similar thing going for it. Mind you, I loved the first movie upon first viewing. It had juvenile humour, star power, and easily the best thing about it was that in every scene, the actors were clearly trying not to laugh (pay special attention to Christina Applegate- she's the worst for this in both movies. You can tell when it's getting too much for her because it cuts immediately so she can dissolve into uncontrollable laughter). It was great back then, and it was still great on my most recent viewing.

Of course, I'm not in any way trying to imply that this film is as good as first. For one, it does have a ton of pacing issues- two hours is too long for a comedy like this. The film does tend to get repetitive in places (though not like the first didn't). Yet, much like the earlier released "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", low expectations was what lessened the blow of that. And of course, the jokes are a bit too out there at times, but really, this is an absurdist comedy. And what it does good, it does very good. There's still tons of really vulgar and puerile jokes, but come on, just remember what kind of film you're watching. That said, what this film really did best was its much deserving dig at those 24 hours "news" networks. I swear, I expect that happened in this movie to happen on those kinds of s***ty networks. And of course, like I mentioned above- the star power. It's so great to see the guys having fun again, and struggling once more to keep it in the face. Every single actor has a hard time keeping a straight face in every scene, which is just what makes it funnier. And of course, the completely vulgar jokes work too. Like the scene where they smoke crack on air. Brilliant! The abundance of celebrity cameos adds to the film's absurd and surreal feel, and all are very satisfying and fun to watch.

Point is, as flawed and overlong as the movie is, it's still fun to watch. It is by no means perfect, and the film itself even is aware of it at times. But lower your expectations and you'll have a last. A common complaint I've seen in much of these reviews is that they were "huge fans if the first film" and they're digging their own graves by having such high expectations. For me, the magic was still there, and it still is. And while I'm not sure I'd want an Anchorman 3, this film still entertains greatly. It's been too long since we've seen Ron and his pals behind the news desk, and to see them back together again in itself is a purely satisfying sight

Star Trek I:  The Motion Picture [Blu-ray]
Star Trek I: The Motion Picture [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Shatner
Price: $8.80
32 used & new from $5.00

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars They don't call it the motionless picture for nothing, March 10, 2014
Star Trek is quite an interesting franchise. If there's one thing that has kept it interesting through the years, is that it's a franchise of contrasts. One week, they'd be exploring a new planet, the next, they'd be faced with a threat in space. And structure-wise, I couldn't think of a better example than this: an absolutely brilliant television series followed with an extremely boring, plodding and depressing movie. It's no wonder it nearly sank the film franchise before the GREATNESS that is Wrath of Khan. Even the cast and crew hate the movie and it's hard to blame them at all for it,

I've no doubt that this film was a big deal when it hit the screens back in 1978, and I kid you not, it's a completely beautiful movie. It has some of the best special effects I've ever seen, for a movie of the 1970s. I've noticed some offensive and blasphemous comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey, in how similarly they're paced and how many special effects there are. But, there's a difference. Namely, Kubrick's masterpiece had a story, had themes which even the most pedestrian moviegoer could pick up on on a first watch, and every scene mattered. Every shot mattered.m

There's none of that to be found in this movie. Instead, we get a drab, dry, depressing and ugly excuse to showcase special effects for two hours, complete with dialog that could fit on the back of a cereal box in large print, and acting so wooden, they put trees to shame. I kid you not, roughly 80% of the movie is just shots of the Enterprise crew staring at the pretty special effects outside the window, and long tracking shots of the Enterprise. I kid you not, there is a scene that literally lasts five minutes of the crew passing into unknown territory- five minutes of nothing but special effects shots and reaction shots. Two minutes might be enough, but imagine sitting through five minutes of 40 second tracking shots and 50 second reaction shots. Hell, if not for the music playing in the background, I'd think my blu-ray player was frozen.

Overall, this is one real stinker of a film. 100% style and 0% substance, if you're a Trekkie, it won't even appeal to you there. If you like shots of people staring for long periods of time, then by all means, waste your time (hopefully not your money) on this dull and plodding film. Thankfully Wrath of Khan was there to liven things up; there is no excuse for this mess of a film. Consider it to the Trek franchise what The Twin Dilemma was to Doctor Who, and that's not a compliment. (alright, maybe that's a bit harsh- I'd say that awful Code of Honor TNG episode deserves that name.mid say this is more the Time and the Rani of the Star Trek franchise.)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2014 9:05 PM PDT

Doctor Who: The Moonbase (Story 33)
Doctor Who: The Moonbase (Story 33)
DVD ~ Patrick Troughton
Price: $17.70
23 used & new from $13.66

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well, a climax would have been nice, March 8, 2014
I've come to a conclusion after watching this episode, that obviously the best stories were the the ones that were salvaged in their entirety. Yes, it's indeed a tragedy that much of Patty's tenure is gone forever, and some wanker let them burn to ashes, but if these stories were indeed as special as they thought they were, the BBC would have been smart to have locked them away almost immediately after transmission. I say that, because as a fan of Doctor Who both old and new, despite a bravura performance by Troughton, the majority of his tenure was a real mixed bag.

The Moonbase is perhaps the best example of this amount of contrast; with its first two episodes building up some truly scary and creepy atmosphere- and then suddenly plateaus halfway through the third. This is also one of the few Second Doctor stories to include The Cybermen- and while they're terrifying here, they're not as frightening as they are in the ultra-fantastic Tomb of the Cybermen.

The TARDIS materializes on the moon in the year 1970. The Doctor, Jamie, Ben, and Polly discover a Moonbase where a number of scientists control the earth's weather; an Aussie, a few Brits and a Frenchman are stationed in the base. Jamie falls ill and spends much of the story in the sick bay, and a plague is spreading throughout the bay, which blackens people's nerves... it is at this point where the four discover the Cybermen are behind the plague.

The Cybermen are seen in only glimpses until the third episode, but their here-and-there appearances do provide some palpable tension. There is an eerie, dreamlike atmosphere throughout much of the episode, which does build up to something of an anti-climax. Which is what made this serial frustrating to sit through; there's tons of buildup throughout, with little to no payoff. The solution of how the Cybermen are defeated seems lazily brought up at the last minute, and is rather quite ridiculous.

As for the animated episodes, well, I thought it was cool how they re-enacted some of the episode through the animation. I quite liked the style of animation throughout, though some of the facial expressions and lip movements were quite exaggerated. Nonetheless, it was better than sitting through stills with audio over them (and subtitles used to describe what is happening). Overall, this is worth owning mostly for its historical value, but if you're hoping to get into Second Doctor material, try The Mind Robber or Tomb of the Cyberman instead.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2014 6:57 PM PDT

Hail to the King
Hail to the King
Price: $9.99
84 used & new from $3.49

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The boy bands have won., February 20, 2014
This review is from: Hail to the King (Audio CD)
"The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or From Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother's Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don't Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to 'Guard' Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It's Over, Then It's Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won."

That above quote is the full title of Chumbawumba's 2008 album "The Boy Bands Have Won". Ultimately I don't think any quote suits this album but the above one, for reasons stated below. Let's get started.

If there's one thing that's noticeable about Avenged Sevenfold's discography in recent years, it's that they've gone from bad to worse, like a lot of modern rock bands. But what makes Avenged's example special is that they've done so in the most spectacular way possible; their first two albums were excellent if you take into account that they're just fun, guilt-free hardcore punk/metalcore, then City of Evil was great, as it was classic throwback metal mixed in with some metalcore elements. Then suddenly, they took a nosedive and landed at just plain "meh" with Avenged Sevenfold and Nightmare (note the bland and uninspired album titles).

And now they've landed at just plain TERRIBLE territory with Hail to the King, which completely defies description in terms of badness. The first thing that strikes you upon hearing the first few bars of the album is how blatant of a lie M. Shadows' claims that the album would be more laid back hard rock is, as in the first few seconds alone, you already hear orchestration and cheesy synths. But it's not just on that track, it's the whole album. The whole album showcases the band going in several different directions and none of them being particularly impressive. Whereas on City of Evil the band stretched their creative wings and showed us their influences, taking us on a roller coaster ride through the eighties with their modern metalcore touch, here, it seems like the band has no idea what they want to sound like. And several tracks are just clear-cut ripoffs.

Ever wondered what Metallica's "Sad But True" sounded like if they released it too far into their prime? Get a load of "This Means War", a cheesy Metallica ripoff minus the awesomeness of "Sad But True" and with ten times the vapid nonsense of tracks like "Nightmare" or "Brompton Cocktail". I even goes so far as to have a wah-pedal drenched solo which wouldn't have impressed many in the nineties. Then there's "Crimson Day", a laughable mash-up of "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica, "Coming Home" by Iron Maiden and "November Rain" by Guns N Roses, with less of the class of the two former tracks and the vapid crap of the latter. The song wouldn't sound out of place in a Call of Duty game, and while it's already bad enough that M. Shadows' voice is hardly what it once was, his attempts at sounding soulful here will have you trying hard not to giggle. "Coming Home" actually has some decent instrumentation including a good couple solos, but it either should have been an insturmental track or been written by someone else, because then we wouldn't be "treated" to laughable lines such as, "Home is where the heart is/Or so I'm told". That is indeed what Matt sings, in one of the heaviest tracks. But while many of you may speculate that Mike Portnoy was booted from the band, two tracks make me consider the possibility he left on his own accord. I somehow imagine that M. Shadows showed him demos of "Requiem" and "Planets", and Mike decided, "Ummm... yeah, I'm just gonna get out of here while the chance remains open". Both are hilariously awful attempts at sounding epic, with "Requiem" opening with a choir that themselves sound like they're trying their hardest not to laugh, leading to a plodding metal tune that completely out-cheeses any of the other tracks with tacky and overdone orchestration, and even a deep throated monologue (I'll send a gift basket to whoever can tell me what the HELL he was saying). And then there's "Planets", which makes completely cringe-worthy use of sampling from the Gustav Holst's suite of the same name.

But it isn't all gloom and doom, there's two tracks on here that do slightly give an air of hope; "Shepherd of Fire" is a nice opener that has a catchy chorus, some cool riffs and a nice solo; it's also very atmospheric and manages to get the album going on a good note, and "Doing Time" has a bit of a Metallica feel, and a nice chorus with some cool effects on the guitar solo. And as for Arin Ilejay's appearance, well, I've no doubt that he's a great drummer, but everything here sounds pre-programmed and didn't let him do his own work. Look, guys, I know you miss Jimmy, but let it go already. Your new drummer has to explore his creative territory and furthermore, has to bring his own touch to the band instead of just going on and on under your command.

I'll say this though, one way this album could have been improved is if Bruce Campbell showed up for a spoken-word section. Then using a phrase most popularized by the film Army of Darkness would have been completely justified, as long as it could help the album. But even at this point, I'm not sure if anything can save the band now, and it will be a miracle if the band's career isn't ruined by this album. But at the same time, who am I to call the fans "wrong". I'm sure the population of Mountain Dew-chugging, Monster Energy Drink hat-wearing, COD-playing teen boys will find a new soundtrack to perfectly time their headshots to in this album, so the band can take solace knowing that, for a start.

I'll say it one more time: the boy bands have won.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2016 10:42 AM PDT

After Last Season (2009)
After Last Season (2009)
DVD ~ Jason Kulas

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Perception is only nine thirteenths of reality, February 13, 2014
This review is from: After Last Season (2009) (DVD)
I've been noticing a lot of people here have been giving After Last Season horrible ratings and saying mean, nasty and vile things about this artistic masterpiece, calling it the "worst movie ever made". Given that they're more of the mainstream crowd and what not, I'll drop in here and explain why this film is an artistic achievement and why you don't get it.

Our dreams are often defined by how we feel and that's what his movie explains. We go about life thinking we'll get our way but that only happens nine out of thirteen times. The characters realize this at one point, but given that it's never explicitly stated you have to use your brain and realize it. People feel like what is happening is happening but it's only how they see it. Which explains why there's so many poorly rendered CG sequences- they add to the artistic value if the film. In example, we see an MRI machine that looks high tech and in a doctors office, but that's only how we perceive things; what if it's made out of cardboard and paper and in someone's pink bedroom? This explains these "chips" that the characters use. It's a metaphor for how we go about life. You see, in essence, there are so many th-

Oh wait, never mind, I've been hanging around too many pretentious twits who do more film courses than possible in a lifetime. The point is, this movie sucks, stole two hours of my sad and meaningless life I'll never get back, and is among the worst I've ever seen. Avoid.

Sherlock: Season 3 (Blu-ray) (Original UK Version)
Sherlock: Season 3 (Blu-ray) (Original UK Version)
DVD ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Price: $14.99
28 used & new from $14.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant season that people keep letting their ridiculously high hopes ruin for them, and unjustifiably so, January 30, 2014
Expectation is indeed a flighty creature, and it's natural that people have certain expectations after Sherlock spends two years away from the limelight, while Steven Moffat focuses on major changes to Doctor Who; such as the fiftieth response and the wave goodbye to The Doctor. But people have to realize that times change, and so does Sherlock. While I was never a fan of the books, I can still say that in the books, Sherlock eventually stops becoming such a psychopath and learns to start trusting people more, and something along those lines happens in the new season of Sherlock. So it was natural and bound to happen in the latest Sherlock movie trilogy that he changes. And so does the show, in a few areas.

For one, Sherlock is sharper than ever. He may be less sociopathic, but he can think better as a result. His mind-palace is more accessible to him. He can now draw conclusions quicker- a good example being in "His Last Vow", when he gets shot in the chest. Notice how he manages to deduce in three seconds whether he should fall forward or backward? Or in "The Sign of Three", when he manages to figure out that the threat from these flunked cases is in the room- and so is the victim, as he delivers his speech. He becomes a much better person, now that he has people on his side. And John Watson is put into good focus too- in fact, his relationships with the people around him is studied in depth, and it's really interesting EPSECIALLY to see how things appear through his eyes.

That's what's always kept me drawn to this show- how it's focused primarily on characters. This is something that Steven Moffat has been known to do in everything he tackles, and here it's heavier on character development, in addition to lending a more human side to the sleuth. That's something that he has been doing with Doctor Who recently- for the better, I must add. And it works for Sherlock too. Sherlock, for ages has been far from the superhero role model that most media forms depict him to be- in the books, he was a suicidal, drug-addicted jerk, and minus the drug addictions, Moffat's incarnation of the sleuth depicts this dark side of him perfectly.

And that may be why season 3 was my favourite season yet. I impatiently kept hitting "reload" on the torrent networks every week to get the new episode while it aired in the UK and it didn't disappoint in the least. It is unusually faster paced, but that works better for the show. It's clever, it's taut, it's thrilling, there's new twists every minute. Everything you love about Sherlock is handled differently here, for the better. Moffat, I salute you.

By the way, one last note. If you're watching this on PBS, stop what you're doing, and seek out torrents of the UK BBC One airings- the PBS airings are edited. Do be careful what torrent you download of His Last Vow too- on some files, the after credits scene is replaced with a trailer for The Musketeers.

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