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elwood_jones

elwood_jones

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Blogger and life long film junkie For more reviews why not check out my blog "From The Depths of DVD Hell" http://fromthedepthsofdvdhell.blogspot.com/ or for Game reviews thatmomentin.com

Reviews written

since 22/01/2014

81

Imperium (DVD) 11/10/2017

Radcliffe's fearless script picks pay off again

Imperium (DVD) I’m not sure if its just me but I’m sure that the career paths of both Daniel Radcliffe and Elijah Wood if put side by side would pretty much match up with both coming to the attention of the general movie going public through blockbusters before moving into more indie productions and arguably producing some of the best work of their respective careers with Elijah Wood giving us the likes of “Grand Piano” and “Maniac” after the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy while Daniel Radcliffe only continues to make the Harry Potter years seem like a distant memory as he’s matured as an actor let alone showing the same kind of ballsy role picking with films like this and “Swiss Army Man” that helped Joseph Gordon Levitt become such a darling of the indie scene. Of course when you think of Neo-Nazi’s I’m sure that Radcliffe’s name would be way down the list of potential actors but then that was one of the main things which drew me to this film, after all this is a the kind of role which has become synonymous with the performances given by the likes of Edward Norton and Russell Crowe as well as perhaps to a lesser extent Ryan Gosling. Yet somehow Radcliffe pulls off the role playing up the lack of believability to extraordinary effect. Based on the career of former undercover FBI agent Michael German who wrote the script with director Daniel Raguissis who makes his feature debut with this film. German over the course of his career spent time undercover with both supremacists and right-wing ...

Jackie Chan's First Strike (DVD) 09/10/2017

Light on plot, big on action

Jackie Chan's First Strike (DVD) Despite being the forth entry in Jackie Chan’s legendry “Police Story” franchise you really don’t need to have seen the previous three to enjoy this film and hence why it was sold to western audiences as just “First Strike” giving it the illusion of being a stand alone film especially to cash in on the success of “Rumble In The Bronx” which had introduced Chan finally to audiences not familiar with the Hong Kong cinema. While this film takes perhaps alittle longer than his other films to get going with Chan engaging in some espionage antics before giving us the first of the films big set pieces on the snowy mountains of the Ukraine with Chan wearing little more than a humorous seal hat for warmth chases after a suspect and it what really sets the tone for the film as here we get to see Chan really working at the height of his powers as certainly highlighted by the now legendary ladder fight sequence whose painful screw ups really only demonstrate just how good Chan and his stunt team are. Its during the traditional mistake reel in the credits and you also see that Chan really wasn’t wearing anything remotely warm during the mountain sequences when snowboarding or being thrown into icy water that you may find yourself questioning the general sanity of Chan to put himself through such things. Perhaps to the benefit of Chan for doing all those snow sequences the majority of the film takes place in Australia were he soon finds himself caught up with the sister of the suspect ...

The Shallows (DVD) 08/10/2017

The most effective shark movie in years!!

The Shallows (DVD) Director Jaume Collet-Serra really is a director whose work its hard to place as while he’s given us films such as “Orphan” and “Non-Stop” he’s also the same director responsible for giving us the likes of “Goal 2: Living The Dream” and the “House of Wax” remake which so memorably was sold on the prospect of seeing Paris Hilton die. As such your never really sure what your going to get from him and while the concept and trailer for the film really gave it all the potential of being another disposable summer release this film thankfully really isn’t. Stripping the film down to its key elements here Collet-Serra really crafts something surprisingly special as he seemingly knows that the real heart of the film lies in the battle between Nancy and the shark currently standing between her and the shore... and that’s essentially it. This is also what appealed to Lively who was drawn to the project when she saw the similarities between this film and her husband Ryan Reynolds “Buried”. True it might be a big shark which continually torments Nancy but this at the same time this isn’t some gigantic creature with super intelligence, which makes this already miles better than the countless shark movies which have continually attempted and failed to top what Steven Spielberg achieved with “Jaws”. The shark here instead is designed with a much more natural behaviour for the most part with Collet-Serra really only letting it off the leash in the build up to the finale. As such the shark ...

Texas Chainsaw 3D (Blu-ray) 08/10/2017

A suprisingly decent addition to the franchise

Texas Chainsaw 3D (Blu-ray) A film I’d originally dismissed as another attempt to cash in on the legacy of Tobe Hooper’s breakout film and former Video Nasty which wouldn’t get a UK release until 1999. Despite this the studios have frequently been keen to milk the franchise and turn its chainsaw welding maniac into another iconic slasher figure. Due to this I had little intention of watching this film, especially after the abysmal “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Begining” which kill dead any potential momentum the original and surprisingly decent remake had. It was infact only after hearing Emily and Christine recommend the film on their podcast “The Feminine Critique” that I thought it was time that I finally give it a watch. In a unique twist this film doesn’t attempt to remake the original film, but instead takes the unique move of following on directly after the Tobe Hooper original ignoring all the films which followed which if you haven't seen already director John Luessenhop helpfully spoils by giving you a highlight reel of all the best parts. True this does help bring the viewer up to speed to were he wants to start his film, but I can’t help but feel this is kind of a downer for anyone who chooses to start with this film or enters it expecting a delayed follow up to the 2003 remake. Suprisingly the film was originally pitched as a new trilogy with the films being released out of order with the first film being set in a hospital, the second film would act as a prequel and the third completing ...

Tom Clancy's - The Division (Xbox One) 06/10/2017

An immersive open world experience

Tom Clancy's - The Division (Xbox One) Despite being both a critical and commercial success, let alone Ubisoft’s best selling game, with a film adaptation in the works starring Jake Gyllenhaal–who is set to both star and produce the film–it’s a wonder as to why no one seems to be talking about Tom Clancy‘s The Division. The game is set in a near future vision of New York City, which has been devastated by a virus planted on banknotes during Black Friday. This disease, known as “The Green Poison” or “The Dollar Flu” has resulted in mass chaos throughout the city with Manhattan being placed under quarantine. As the player, you play as a member of “The Division,” a strategic task force who are called in by the U.S. Government to assist the emergency services (JTF) to reboot the city. Being a Tom Clancy game, there is unsurprisingly a large amount of military lingo thrown around in the game, which to the uninitiated can seem baffling but once you get into the game its soon reveals its self to be an engrossing open world experience, which genuinely brings something new to the genre as your forced to scavenge resources such as armour and weapons, as well on a more ascetic note, clothes, which serve no purpose outside of allowing you to customise your character. Still while the character customisation might be limited, thanks to these various items that you can scavenge, it helps create a sense of individuality in this massive world. You start in Brooklyn for the training missions before you enter into the main meat ...

Commando (DVD) 06/10/2017

Explosions and one liners.....your saturday sorted

Commando (DVD) Having launched himself into the public conscious with the Conan movies and “The Terminator” with this film we really started to the see the foundations of the Arnie formula starting with his introduction in this film consisting of close up shots of his muscular frame which only seem to make everything seem bigger and more impressive than it is. Even the chainsaw which looks pretty tiny when we see it, looks like its 6 ft long in its vanity shot. The opening shot of Schwarzenegger carrying a log over his shoulder is such an iconic shot and feels almost like the studio introducing a major star being introduced and it could be considered so seeing how compared to the films which came before it, it’s tonly very different with Schwarzenegger trading in the sword and sorcery antics of his early films (Conan / Red Sonja) being changed out for one liners and heroic gunplay which would become the foundation of the classic Schwarzenegger movie formula. Its only on rewatching the film that you also realise just how bonkers that opening title sequence is as we go from shots of the all powerful, man of the earth to shots of Matrix and his daughter getting ice cream and hand feeding a deer, which while important to show the life that Matrix has made for himself since his retirement from the special forces tonely is just such a random switch. The plot itself is paper thin and really only serves to guide the audience from one exciting moment to the next, especially when Matrix has to do ...

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed (Xbox 360) 04/10/2017

A Fun Mario Kart Alternative

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed (Xbox 360) Since abandoning the console wars following the failure of the much underrated Dreamcast, Sega have since been keen to franchise out their key titles such as Sonic The Hedgehog while even squashing their rivalry with Nintendo as they cross branded for the likes of Super Smash Bros. on the Wii as well as the Mario and Sonic Olympic series. At the same time, they have been equally keen to preserve the legacy of the company through both the fantastic Mega Drive Collection and their Sega Superstars Series. Now following on from Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, an enjoyable racing game which for some reason fell by the wayside, here developer Sumo Digital return for a second crack at crafting a Mario Kart beater only to end up creating a game reminiscent of Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64. The original game was a fairly standard Mario Kart clone as players selected one of the many memorable faces to race through levels based on various Sega games from Sonic and House of the Dead through to more obscure classics like Panzer Dragon and Billy Hatcher. Not wanting to stray too far from this solid template, here the developers have changed things up by giving racers the ability to change–at set points on each track–their vehicle into either a plane or a boat. As with the previous game it’s a real mixed roster of characters that you can choose from, ranging from Sonic mainstays such as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Dr. Eggman, while from the Sega back catalogue we have the likes of ...

The Crow - City Of Angels (DVD) 04/10/2017

A passable sequel hamped by Weinstein meddling

The Crow - City Of Angels (DVD) It was always going to be a difficult task to follow on from the cult original film but believing that they could make a franchise out of the idea, the Weinstein’s offered the job to Music video director Tim Pope for his feature film debut. They also brought in David S. Goyer to write the script who at this point was yet to really make a name for himself having previously written the scripts for “Death Warrant” and “Demonic Toys” with this film sitting on the cusp of his mainstream success as he also working the scripts for “Dark City” and “Blade” at the same time he was writing this script. Moving the story from Detroit to Los Angeles the look of the cityscape is still pretty much the same landscape of seemingly eternal darkness and urban decay. Despite this similarity Pope and Goyer had initially wanted to make a film which was different from the first film especially out of respect to Brandon Lee. who only for the Weinstein’s in their usual misguided wisdom to make demands for the film to be recut so that it was similar to original as possibly ultimately leading to both Pope and Goyer disowning the film as it no longer represented their vision. Goyer was especially dismayed by the changes having fought to cut out the resurrection of villains Top Dollar and Grange from the first film. One character who does return from the first film as well as admittedly older is Sarah who is no longer the skateboarding tomboy of the first film but here is all grown up and working in ...

Resident Evil: Retribution (DVD) 03/10/2017

The Zombie war goes global

Resident Evil: Retribution (DVD) Its staggering to think at this point in the series that we are five films deep in the franchise which at this point has also gone on its own very unique path from the source material as we continue to follow the journey of Alice in her battle against the Umbrella Corporation and of course the zombie hordes created by the T-Virus. Still just when we thought the series had already gone way off the deep end Director Paul W. S. Anderson somehow manages to find a way to top it. Seeing how the previous film ended on the fantastic cliffhanger of Alice on the deck of of the Umbrella Tanker Arcadia as she stared down a squadron of Umbrella Tiltrotors. Now half expecting the film to open with Alice being captured what Anderson gives us instead is actually something pretty special as we get to the events which transpired played out in reverse slow motion which honestly only serves to make it all the more impactful than if we’d seen it played out normally. One of the strengths of the series has always been Jovovich’s performance as Alice a role she truly has made more and more her own with each film even designing Alice’s outfits through her own fashion line. Here though we get to see a new side to Alice as she finds herself waking up in a suburban dream life complete with husband and deaf daughter Becky (Engineer) only for dream to quickly turn into the same sort of zombie nightmare we saw at the start of Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” remake. Here in lies the kicker for this ...

Steep (Xbox One) 03/10/2017

A winter playground packed with plenty to see and do

Steep (Xbox One) Proudly unveiled at E3 2016, Ubisoft were clearly trying to do something different with Steep for while there have certainly been a slew of snowboarding games before it, the market has for the most part been dominated by the SSX and Coolboarders series, which with their fantastical edge and colourful characters, gave players all the thrills and spectacle of snowboarding without any of the broken bones, especially for those gamers who only wish to feel the cold when they go to the fridge for another beer. With Steep, Ubisoft have essentially found the next natural evolution for snowboarding titles by making this a sandbox game and essentially giving players a whole winter playground to explore and experiment within. At the same time, they go one better by allowing players to not only snowboard these mountains but also ski, paraglide or wingsuit, able to explore the peaks and slopes of the Alps. It’s a stunning world that Ubisoft have crafted for their players, complete with jumps, villages and ruins to play around with while you can also jump from a number of balloon platforms setup around the map to really maximise the use of the wingsuit as these courses often see you flying through rocky crevices and ski lift pillars. Like with the Ski / Snowboarding options there is a real sense of speed and realism to the gameplay while high jumps will impact your character with G-forces that has to be recovered from or risk wiping out. Designed as an online game, you can encounter any ...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (DVD) 01/10/2017

TimBurton continues his return to form with his take on the X-Men

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (DVD) It’s been a rocky road for the last decade or so with “Sleepy Hollow” marking the end of what we could consider his golden period as he instead went off to play around in the studio system, remaking his childhood favourites. However with the release of “Frankenweenie” and the overlooked “Big Eyes” it would seem that cinema’s weird kid is keen to get back to his roots. Adapted from the novel by Ransom Riggs who constructed the story around unusual photographs he had collected with the end result playing in many ways like a 1940’s set version of the “X-men” and making it all the more fitting that the script was written by Jane Goldman who previously worked on both “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Of course this story is seemingly written with Burton in mind as it celebrates the abnormal and bizarre to create a “Freaks” like family. A pipe smoking Eva Green (something we didn’t know we wanted to see until now) plays a Ymbryne here which basically means she has the ability to change into a peregrine falcon aswell as minipulate time which might be one of the more unusual combinations of powers we have seen, but it does enable her to hide the home in a continual time loop of September 3, 1943. Here she is essentially a Burton vision of what “Mary Poppins” might have turned out in his hands and here heads up this unusual children home which brings together children of exceptional abilities. The so called “Peculiar children” are unquestionably the real draw ...

Split/Second (PS3) 01/10/2017

If Michael Bay made a racing game

Split/Second (PS3) In the world of racing games there has always been a distinct line between arcade racers such as the Burnout and the Need for Speed Franchises and simulation racers such as Grand Turismo, which appeal to those who like to bury themselves in the stats. Then we get a game like Split/Second, which on first appearances looks to be another arcade racer and yet is a game that also encourages you to take out your fellow racers by reducing your surroundings to smouldering rubble. On the surface, Split/Second, which might seem like it’s helmed by Michael Bay, is surprisingly more than a fun gimmick as not only does it feature the usual selection of flash sports cars and trucks but some genuinely solid racing action as you partake as a new driver on the fictional TV Show called Split/Second, were participants race for fame and glory over the course of the twelve episode season. This is also a show whose seemingly unlimited budget enables them to rig various locations with explosives, traps and shortcuts so racers can trigger them throughout the racer to give themselves a winning advantage or just to take out their fellow competitors. Taking place across a variety of locations from city highways and airports through to aircraft boneyards and storm drains, speed is certainly one of the main focuses of the game design with sheer spectacle coming a close second as each location has its own set of trigger points that can be triggered throughout the race. Racers amass power points by ...

Big Game (DVD) 30/09/2017

A whimsical "Starter" action movie

Big Game (DVD) After giving the world a truly unique take on the Father Christmas mythos with his debut film “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” which itself built on his short films “Rare Exports Inc.” and “The Official Rare Exports Inc. Safety Instructions” Finnish director Jalmari Helander shared with the world his unique world view were Santa was less the jolly fat man but rather a horned beast incased in a block of ice, while his elves were a bunch of naked old guys. Now four years after his memorable debut he takes a stab at the action genre while still carrying across many of the traits which made his debut so memorable. The most expensive film to be produced in Finland with a budget of $10 million this is a film which for whatever reason seemed to disappear as quick as it appear on the release radar leaving me entering into this film with a sense of trepidation, especially when compared to “Rare Exports” which it seemed the blogging community were keen to discuss unlike this film which no one seemed to be talking about. Thankfully I shouldn’t have worried as Helander once again has delivered a film which is similar to “Rare Exports” in so many ways as Helander gives us his take on the action genre. In much the same way that his take on Christmas was unique the same could be said for his take on the action genre which not only gives nods the action / adventure movies of the 80’s and early 90’s which arguably shot through what almost feels like the lens of a family film, alas one with ...

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox 360) 30/09/2017

Turn based strategy meets cinematic action

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox 360) In case you haven’t heard about X-COM–and the chances of that are high–it’s a franchise which dates back to 1994 with UFO: Enemy Unknown, which spawned a further five sequels including the play by e-mail (yes that used to be a thing) X-COM: First Alien Invasion. Eleven years later the series was reimagined for the XBOX 360, PS3 and PC by Firaxis Games a company founded by Sid Meier, Jeff Briggs and Brian Reynolds when they left the original series developer Microprose. It is set in the near future were Earth is under attack from alien forces, leading a selection of countries to form the “Council of Nations” and more directly, the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit or XCOM, who now lead the fight against the alien forces. As the player, you assume the role of the commander of XCOM, tasked with not only leading your troops into skirmishes with the alien forces but also prioritising the resources and research being conducted by your HQ as you try to discover the truth behind the invasion while stopping panic from breaking out in the countries represented by the council. While on the surface it might look like a simplified version of Command and Conquer as you guide your squad through a variety of locations around the world hunting aliens and completing the assigned objectives. XCOM however is a surprisingly-deep title as you also have to juggle the priorities of your research and engineer department as you decide were the best place to spend your funds. These same choices equally ...

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3) 29/09/2017

A stuttering start for the legendry hero

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3) Despite being the game that launched one of the strongest PlayStation exclusive franchises ever – which has now reached its fourth title on the PS4 – the popularity its debut has for some reason always been seen as something like the red-headed stepchild of the franchise, with many fans of the series citing the second game Among Thieves as the real entry point in the series. The first game by developer Naughty Dog for the PS3, having previously produced some of the best titles for the previous two generations of PlayStation, such as Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter – the latter arguably being the closest the console had to a mascot – the original plan might have been to make another Jak and Daxter however the developer instead opted to use the power of the new machine to try something different. The new system finally gave them the ability to craft more realistic human models which had always been a limitation of the previous hardware. Clearly drawing inspiration from the Tomb Raider series and certainly more keyly, the Indiana Jones films, this game introduces hero Nathan Drake (voiced by Nolan North), a combination of professional thief and treasure hunter who much like his obvious inspirations, travels the globe hunting for lost treasures and battling various villains along the way. This first adventure though sees him tagging alongside journalist Elena (voiced by Emily Rose) searching for the lost city of gold, El Dorado. Combining elements of a platformer with a ...
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