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Crazy-Christian

Crazy-Christian

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Probably been away too long to remember how to do this thing. Hopefully it's just like riding a bike...

Reviews written

since 02/08/2000

79

Doctor Who - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) 21/09/2007

The Trip of a Lifetime

Doctor Who - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) When I first heard that Doctor Who was coming back, way back in 2003, I was more excited than any thirty-something man had any right to be. But this was MINE. This was the Doctor. Stretching back to 1963 this children/family TV Science-fiction adventure series had captivated the hearts of children throughout the nation and all over the world. TARDIS, Daleks, Gallifrey, regenerations, words that thrilled and excited the imagination. Despite still being a unique money-spinning product for the BBC it decided to stop making it in 1989, although they said it would be brought back in better shape. Indeed, for a variety of reasons which I won't bore you with here, it had gotten rather tired and was in dire need of an injection of cash to boost its out-of-date special effects. The monsters just weren't scary anymore... A visually splendid but over-Americanised TV movie in 1996 apart, Who fans were without their hero for 16 years, the last 18 months or so of those being excruciating as we waited with baited breath to see how the new show would work. There were a lot of positive signs. The head writer and show-runner (an American term but self-explanatory) was Russell T Davies not only a huge Who fan but one of the most well-respected TV writers of his generation. From dark Children TV shows like Dark Season to hip-and-challenging gay drama Queer As Folk, Russell (or RTD as we fans affectionately like to call him) had a track record that had propelled him right to the top of TV ...

Apocalypto (DVD) 21/09/2007

Apocalypto: The Heart of the Matter

Apocalypto (DVD) It would seem that Mel Gibson is no longer flavour of the month in Hollywood land and this perhaps explains why his latest directorial effort has been so overlooked. Which is a shame, because it's a cracking movie. At first glance this film may not seem too appealing. Once again, like Passion of the Christ, the spoken language is not English and subtitles are used instead. This is not to everyone's taste but many successful films over the past few years have not scared viewers away by challenging them to read and watch at the same time - maybe we're getting more sophisticated as an audience! Anyway, the film is very visual and the subtitles brief so it's easy to follow the story. Like Passion before it and Braveheart the film has garnered a reputation for violence and the subject matter demands a certain amount of verisimilitude to be believable. For me, Gibson only oversteps the mark once - if like me you're not a big fan of face-mauling just look away - you'll know when, don't worry! So, what is the film about? I don't like to go into too much detail about plot but it's set in 16th Century Central America (I think) and tells the story of a peaceful tribe living in harmony with nature (in a Circle-of-Life stylee) who are brutally attacked by an aggressive force who take away the fittest members to be sold into slavery or used for sacrifice to the Mayan Gods. I can't say how accurate a depiction of the Mayan civilisation this is and there have been some criticisms ...

How to write opinions 21/09/2007

THIS OPINION CONTAINS THE SECRET OF ETERNAL LIFE

How to write opinions *** OK, thought this old op might be out-of-date but with a couple of changes it's not too bad. This is my favourite review but read it at your peril! The "Advantages" won't make sense unless you're an old-timer but just ask someone - Trampus was a star... *** Who was it who said, "Power corrupts, but Absolute Power, well, that's just a REALLY good laugh!" Whoever it was, they're absolutely right, and I feel I have that power right now. It seems to be a bit of a tradition here on Ciao, that milestone opinions such as your 50th or 100th can be pretty much about ANYTHING you desire. For once, you're given a little leeway, a license to be loony, a right to be radical. (See, I'm abusing my power, already!) As I tried to decide what to write about on this auspicious occasion, several things close to my heart went through my mind. I could do that op on 14th Century post-impressionist Flemish aubergine painters that I've always wanted to do. Or how about one on My Top 101 Sins? Nah, no one would be interested in that. Then it struck me. Of course! An important subject on which I know practically nothing. Perfect! Nuzzink in ze vorld can shtop me now... So, my dear, dear friends, or, dare I say, with due modesty and humility, with hand on my most humble of hearts, as I have come to think of you all...my fans! (Too much humour? Too silly? Always consider the tone you use. Is it appropriate for the subject matter?) For my 50th op, then, I have decided to share with you all, ...

How to rate and comment 21/09/2007

How to get more reads and influence people

How to rate and comment YOU'RE CRAP!!! Call that an opinion? I know 2-year-olds that are more intelligible than you! You can't write, you can't spell, and my dog has a better grasp of grammar. Humour! Don't make me laugh, you're about as funny as falling face-first in a cowpat. I can get better information off that bloke in The Prisoner than I got from your miserable pile of misbegotten drivel! You don't even deserve to get an Unhelpful for that pathetic load of inanities you've passed off as a comprehensive review, YOU'RE A DISGRACE TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE YOU... Okay, so that's how NOT to rate and comment! Luckily, I've yet to come across someone quite so, er... forthright, here on Ciao, (except for...no, I better not!) but I can imagine how I would feel if I did receive such a comment. (And I've never felt the need to leave one either!) But I feel that rating and commenting is an integral part of this site and the better that we as individuals get at it, the more the site will benefit as a whole. WHY? The first question one might ask is why should we rate and comment. I'm paid to write on Ciao not to rate and comment. If I write good quality opinions why should any more be expected of me? Well, it isn't. There's no obligation on anyone to rate and comment on other opinions. But imagine if everybody had that attitude? If we all just wrote our opinions who would read them? It's the members who rate and comment, remember. These ratings let us know which opinions are the useful ones and ...

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 21/09/2007

Bored of the Rings Too

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Okay. Prepare to hate me now. I HATED THIS MOVIE!!! There, I've said it, gotten it off my chest and I feel much better now. I'll just sit back and wait for the backlash. I tried to like it, I really did. I believed the hype, especially when I saw all the reviews in the press which were all talking of Oscar nods for the film. I like Peter Jackson as a director. I like big epic fantastic movies. So what went wrong? Well, what I suspect, is that it's because I have never read the books. I deliberately haven't read them for the past couple of years since this movie started being filmed. I wanted to go into the cinema with an open mind and no preconceptions. I thought this would be a strength as the film had the onerous task of living up to the imaginations of thousands (possibly millions, I don't know) and thousands of readers, with their own expectations and visualisations. But I can't help feeling that this film has been so well received because people refuse to be disappointed by it. They were determined to like it, no matter what. When Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out a couple of years ago, many people were disappointed by it. I loved it! I ignored the hype, sat myself down in my seat, regressed to a twelve-year-old, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie that that nice Mr. Lucas had presented for me. I went and saw it FOUR times, which is unheard of for me! Now, I think, I know how those fans felt. Betrayed, let down, lied to. I don't think they could have put up ...

A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (DVD) 21/09/2007

Artfully intelligent but awfully indulgent

A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (DVD) For once, I came out of a cinema not really knowing what to think about what I had just seen. Was it a flawed work of genius, a towering masterpiece, an all-time turkey bigger than the inhabitants of a certain island populated by Speilberg's creations? All of these views have been offered up so far and it's hard to argue with any of them. This really is a film you HAVE to see yourself just so you can join in all the fun arguing about it! As most people know, this film started out as a pet project of Stanley Kubrick, a respected director (over-rated in my opinion) and good friend of Mr. Speilberg. He had been trying to complete it for over 20 years but had been waiting on modern special effects to catch up in order to make the movie believable (you'll understand why when you see it.) He was on the verge of making it his next film when he died. Apparently, one of his last wishes was that his friend complete it. It seems like an odd pairing, the cold and detached Kubrick and the touchy-feely over-sentimental Speilberg. But when you consider the themes of the movie you begin to think that perhaps these are the two PERFECT individuals to collaborate on such a movie. It's all about a robot you see, only this one is different. Perfect looking robots have been serving the human race for some time, in the period when the movie is set, but now they have created one, a young boy, who can be imprinted to have 'real love' for his Mommy. The real challenge, one of the creators asks ...

Pearl Harbor (DVD) 21/09/2007

It's not THAT bad...

Pearl Harbor (DVD) I just had to write this op having read some scathing reviews of this film since it opened. Not that I disagree with what most people say about it, because it is packed with flaws, but because I think the film does deserve an audience, albeit a limited one. I only went to see this film because I had an American friend staying with me, who was interested in the events that the film purports to depict. He was unaware of the critical reviews or the inherent romantic elements of the film but I decided to let him make up his own mind. I, therefore, had very few expectations for this movie. The film starts by establishing the friendship of the two main characters, Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett); each of them has a flaw, or problem, that the other compensates for: Rafe is dyslexic, and Danny needs help from Rafe to protect him from his disturbed father. All these boys want to do is fly, and when they grow up they join the air force, together naturally. They get up to all sorts of Top Gun hijinks in their planes, all against regulations, of course. Their veteran commander, Doolittle (Alec Baldwin) practically winks at them as he chastises them, so we know he is of a similar daredevil nature despite his rank. Rafe volunteers for a special squadron of the RAF for American pilots, so he can get into the war. He tells Danny he was chosen, however, protecting him again. Just before he leaves for England he meets the Naval nurse, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) who ...

The Village (DVD) 30/08/2004

If you go down to the woods, today…

The Village (DVD) Wow, I can't believe that tagline hasn't been used, yet! The Village is the eagerly anticipated new film by modern master of horror and suspense, M Night Shyamalan. You may well be familiar with his previous fare since he became mega-huge with his sensational super-hit The Sixth Sense, followed by Unbreakable, and most recently, the Mel Gibson-starring alien invasion thriller Signs. Familiarity with these movies may well determine your chances of liking his new movie. Sixth Sense had that killer twist ending that had audiences raving and reeling and revisiting the cinema to see how it was all done. His other films have suffered somewhat in relation to that twist, with eager fans wanting more of the same. Of course, Night is more than a one-trick pony and his films stand repeat watching due to great narrative depth and wonderful technique, but time and time again they seem to be unfairly judged based on their ending rather than on the whole experience. Well, a quick guide to help you decide whether or not you will enjoy this movie is what you thought of either/both his last two movies - if you still enjoyed them even though they didn't have as big twists as Sense then you will probably enjoy this. If you thought they sucked in comparison and are desperately hoping that Shyamalan returns to form with this one - don't bother going! Not that this isn't a great movie, just that you will probably find the twist/ending a bit disappointing. If you're just looking for a good ...

The Last Samurai (DVD) 11/02/2004

The best Hollywood Samurai Tom Cruise film ever

The Last Samurai (DVD) Okay, you may not like Tom Cruise and I can understand that. But don't let that put you off going to see this well-made and enthralling epic. If you liked Gladiator, well this is also written by John Logan and if you appreciated Glory, then director Ed Zwick's latest just might be your thing. It's an intelligent, if Hollywoodised, war movie, cliché-full of memorable moments. Cruise plays Captain Nathan Algren, a soldier haunted by the massacres that he was, in some way, a part of, during the Indian wars of the 1870s. It is now 1876 and he is well on his way to becoming a drunk and a joke. He is offered the chance, by his former commander (Tony Goldwyn) - spot the tension between them - to train Japanese peasants how to be a military force. Emperor Maiji is listening to his advisors who desperately want him to accept the Western culture into Japan. Of course, this will line their pockets but the politics of greed goes against the ancient Samurai, the Emperor's legendary warriors, who think Japan should remain pure. It is against the Samurai, led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), that Algren is training the new Japanese army to use American rifles. This technological advantage against the sword-wielding Samurai should be sufficient to wipe the old ways from Japan forever but Algren is forced into leading his men into battle before they are confident using their guns. The Samurai wipe them out. Algren shows a resolute determination in close combat, managing to kill one of the ...

Brother Bear (Animated) (DVD) 31/12/2003

The Best Disney Movie Since The Lion King

Brother Bear (Animated) (DVD) Just as I felt it my duty to warn you about Elf, I equally feel I should encourage you to go and see this latest Disney movie. Disney movies are not currently cool and if, like me, you've been disappointed several times over the past few years you may be tempted to give this one a miss. I have to say I was turned on by the witty trailer, which features the two intellectually challenged moose that crop up in the movie itself. One of them comments that if "you only see one movie this year then go see this" to which the other sagely points out that for that type of person it's already too late as they are obviously already at a movie, hence they are watching the trailer. The other one thinks for a moment then yells, "Quick, get out, it's not too late. This movie hasn't started yet, go see ours instead". All paraphrased, of course. Well, I found it amusing and charming and it persuaded me to go see it, in some ways, to wash the bad taste of Elf out of my mouth! Brother Bear starts off being about three brothers. The time and place are deliberately left obscure but based on the Canadian accents of the moose, the landscape, and the ethnic background of the Native North American Indians, it would appear to be in Canada, long ago in a much simpler time (mammoths still exist) but don't quote me on this. The eldest brother, Sitka, obviously tires of keeping the younger siblings in check as their immaturity sometimes prevents them from performing their tasks, such as catching and ...

Elf (DVD) 17/12/2003

National Elf Service - Don't see this

Elf (DVD) I have to say I am mightily surprised at the generally favourable and often glowing reviews awarded this movie. I think it fails miserably (okay, well it fails cheerfully, but it still fails). I'll now try to prove it to you and save you some money. Buddy is a human baby who crawls into Santa's sack when he is visiting the orphanage where he has been abandoned. As Buddy grows up, well, he REALLY grows up, leaving his elfin generation behind. For some reason his adopted Dad, Papa Elf, doesn't tell Buddy that he's human although this would explain his size and his inability to make toys as efficiently as the other elves. When he discovers that his mother is dead and that his human father is oblivious to his existence, Buddy sets out to find his Dad, in New York. Unfortunately, his Dad is on the "naughty" list! It doesn't take long for us to find out why as we see him authorising the release of a children's book despite the crucial last pages being missing, in order to save costs. Buddy has to come to terms with his own naivety as he visits the big city, reconcile with his father, and manage to win the heart of a fair maiden AND save Christmas by helping Santa's sleigh fly as it's running low on "Christmas spirit" - as you can see, there is a whole lot of plot to this movie. Sadly, it's nearly all wasted due to, well, just not being very good actually. The story is okay in its own predictable way but as the plot points bear out there are just too many threads for one ...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling 25/06/2003

The Magic Continues...But Does it Match the Hype

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling I don’t believe I can recall any product receiving quite the amount of hype as the release of the latest Harry Potter novel. Shops across the country were open at midnight on Saturday 21 June so that all the kiddies, and their parents, could get their grubby little hands on the fifth instalment in the reported seven-book series, as soon as it was released. A three-year delay since the publication of the last book in the series, The Goblet of Fire, has seen expectations built up uncontrollably, deliberately or not, I cannot tell. Rumours were rife that author J K Rowling (rhymes with bowling) was beset with writer’s block and had missed deadlines. All of this seems to be untrue according to a well-publicised interview on the eve of publication. She stated that this was one of the easiest books to write but she had just wanted some time off. I don’t think this tells the full story – my theory is that Warners (the film studio that has the rights to the Potter film franchise) have much more say than people realise – would they really have wanted the book published at a time when they were trying to advertise The Chamber of Secrets, either the cinema or DVD release? I think not. Anyway, the book is out now and will have to be judged on its merits, just as the previous four were. Phoenix picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Goblet, which is just as well, considering the world-shattering events at the conclusion of that novel. Harry ...

X-Men 2 (DVD) 03/06/2003

X-tremely disappointing sequel...and title

X-Men 2 (DVD) First off, what’s with the title? The film is officially known as X2 but it (understandably) is being marketed as X-Men 2. Do they think that that somehow sounds cooler? I can’t imagine… Anyway. This is perhaps the first sequel I’ve ever seen without first seeing the original. I think you can get away with it if you have some familiarity with the background of the (sorta-) titular X-Men of Marvel comic book fame. I’m not so sure you would if you don’t have that knowledge, however. Returning director, Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) doesn’t hang about giving explanations, which was apparently a flaw of the first film, but gets right into the action. It starts with a kinetic blue mutant blasting his way into the White House, seemingly unstoppable. He gets all the way to the President, dodging bullets and slamming Secret Servicemen in a blurred frenzy. But just when you thing he’s up to no good, he doesn’t kill the Big Man but merely leaves a calling card, or, actually, knife. It seems it was all some sort of stunt to do with equal rights for mutants or somesuch. You see, mutants are, possibly, the next stage in human evolution. Super-powered individuals are popping up all over the world. Some look entirely human but have incredible powers of telepathy or can control certain elements. Some are more monstrous in appearance and it’s not clear which mutants the humans are most scared of. There could be a war in ...

The Lord Of The Rings - The Two Towers (DVD) 08/01/2003

When two tribes go to war...

The Lord Of The Rings - The Two Towers (DVD) Better movie than the first…more boring review This is the second of New Zealander Peter Jackson's trilogy of films based on the famous J R R Tolkien books that comprise The Lord of the Rings. Anyone with a good memory will remember that I hated the first movie, considering it one of the most over-rated films of all time. This controversial opinion, admittedly very much against the general critical grain, generated lots of warm and fuzzy comments from Hobbit-lovers everywhere! Well, to cut to the chase: this is a much better film. Consequently, this opinion won't be half as interesting! Thankfully, this film has a bit more plot to it. Whilst The Fellowship of the Ring had the onerous task of setting up the overarching plot and introducing the characters which inhabit the world of Middle Earth, it could not have done it in a more tedious and turgid manner. With all the groundwork done "Towers" just gets right on with it. This is both a strength and a weakness, however, as it makes no concessions to anyone unfamiliar with the previous film or the book itself. In that sense the film finds it very difficult to exist as a separate entity. As per the movie, I will assume that you have seen the original entry in the series. (If not, feel free to glance at my opinion on it: hint, hint!) The Fellowship has broken up into three separate parties, each having their own distinct yet connected strand of plot. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gangee (Sean Astin) continue ...

Die Another Day (DVD) 24/12/2002

Connery apart, the best Bond ever

Die Another Day (DVD) Now, to put this review in context, I have to tell you that I am not a particular fan of Bond. I’ve seen most of the movies but by no means all, and only two of them at the cinema. It was only because of a "2-for-1" offer at our local Odeon and a lack of other new releases that coaxed my beautiful assistant (i.e. my wife) and I out of our warm, cosy cocoon of a Monday evening. You will understand, then, that I did not hold out any great expectations for this movie. Imagine my surprise when I came out a little over two hours later, fully converted into a Bond fan! THE STORY Unlike the last couple of Bonds, this one has a good story going for it. It’s big, it’s bold and, most importantly, it’s very Bond. Maybe a bit too much Bond, in fact, having been described as a sort of Bond greatest hits. It’s true that you’ve probably seen most of this stuff done before but rarely has it been done better. And, more to the point, it’s mostly on purpose, this being the big Bond 40th Anniversary and the 20th (official) Bond film. Anyway, I found it linear, coherent and just complicated enough to keep me thinking when I wasn’t rubber-jawing at the action. It starts out with Bond in North Korea investigating some diamond-smuggling. Surprisingly, in an action-packed start, Bond is captured and we see his various tortures played out as part of an interesting title sequence. The film is certainly noisy: my wife had to roll up ...
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