Thursday, 27 August 2009

DVD Reviews

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Vol 1 - Collector’s Edition
Seiji Mizushima
Beez Entertainment

Review by Blake Harmer

Ever since I was really little, I was always been a big fan of robots kicking seven bells out of each other. From watching the ace Transformers as a kid to playing the Zone Of The Enders and Mechwarrior series of computer games and board games such as Battletech, to watching more grown up animes such as Patlabor, Appleseed and Macross Plus, they‘ve all involved large robots tearing each other apart. So when I was given this collector’s set of Gundam 00 to review, I was looking forward to it, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.

The series is set in 2307 AD and the Earth is now powered by 3 huge yet fragile orbital elevators with large scale solar power generators on each one. Because of this, the Earth has split into 3 superpowers who centre around these towers, and these superpowers still continue to fight for the sake of their own prestige and prosperity. In this world of constant fighting, a new privately armed force appears out of nowhere calling themselves “Celestial Being”, and their goal is the end of all war, and they will deploy their highly advanced “Gundam” Mobile Suits and intervene and stop all acts of war until all war is finally over.

Firstly, fans of the Gundam animes and mangas are in for a treat. This deluxe collectors set not only contains Volume 1 of the series (which features episodes 1-9), but you also get a Gundam Mobile Suit figurine with interchangeable weapons, a “Celestial Being” crest patch , a badge, and a key chain. Secondly, the series features lots of high flying speedy mech to mech combat with giant robots blowing each other up and cutting each other with big swords in all matters of cool ways. Finally the plot is complex but interesting enough and not too distracting from the main fun which is the combat. It’s deep but thoroughly entertaining.

A couple of flaws that I should mention with the set is that I felt that the series doesn’t give lots of character development to the cast and is too busy focusing on the combat or on everyone trying to deal with other superpowers or “Celestial Being”. Also, unless you are a big fan of the series, this special edition is just shy of £40 which makes it too steep for people with just a passing interest in the series, and not really worth purchasing if you’ve already bought the normal edition of the Volume 1 DVD.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Lots and explosions and flying swordplay in giant mechs. Not particularly gory but you’ll be too busy enjoying the pretty robot death to care.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None
Summary: This is an enjoyable series with lots of explosions to keep fans of the series entertained, especially with the generous extras given with the collector‘s edition. I recommend this series to people who are into robot fighting animes but I recommend you purchase the normal edition as it is a lot cheaper than this special edition. This set is a must for fans though. 8/10


Postal
Metrodome Entertainment
Review by Rob Wade




When I was told that this movie would come my way, I responded with a shudder; this is after all an Uwe Boll movie. Uwe Boll, for those who don't know, is world-renowned for taking video game franchises and violating them beyond their wildest imagination. Remember the movie version of Alone in the Dark ? Uwe Boll. Heard about the terrible sounding Far Cry movie? Uwe fucking Boll. Nevertheless, I vowed to give this movie my attention fairly in the spirit of the E14 review process.

Postal tells the story of a "Dude" living in Paradise, Arizona. He has nothing going for him; his obese wife is sleeping with other guys behind his back, he can't get a job and as if all that wasn't enough his dog keeps taking dumps in his garden (well, as close to a garden as you can get with a trailer, anyway). He finally decides he's had enough and vows to make some money to escape the town. With the help of his religious cult leader uncle Dave, he vows to steal the year's hottest new toy fad and sell them at a super-inflated price in order to make millions. Little do they know, however, that Al-Qaeda are hot on their heels, as they have their own twisted designs for the toys...

IF that plot made no sense to you, don't worry too much; the plot falls very quickly to the wayside. This film opens with a couple of terrorists flying a plane (Guess where it's heading!) and discussing their glorious martyrdom. This becomes second priority, however, when they realise that they've both been told that different numbers of virgins await them in eternal paradise. While on a cell phone call to Bin Laden, the terrorists decide that they will be going to the Bahamas instead. However, the passengers revolt, crashing the plane into...yep, you guessed it...the Twin Towers in the commotion.

It's obvious from early on in the film that this is not meant to be taken as a serious film. If that scene wasn't enough, the toy I mentioned earlier is named Krotchy, and is basically a soft penis voiced by Verne Troyer (remember him, kids? From the Austin Powers movies? Good times...). Uwe Boll actually makes an appearance in this movie as well, a tongue in cheek interview where he claims that his movie is made using Nazi gold, because in his words "something has to be done with the gold".

Fans of the Postal video game that this is VERY loosely based on will be pleased to know that some things do end up making an appearance; the cat used as a silencer, for example, a scene very reminiscient of Charlie Sheen shooting a chicken from a bow in Hot Shots: Part Deux .

Ultimately, I didn't hate this movie. I didn't particularly love it, but I definitely thought that the movie was much better than Boll's previous efforts, simply because it was done in a tongue-in-cheek style. In the long run, this decision helped the film immensely, as you find yourself unable to take any of the problems with the movie too seriously. That said, I found myself very unenthused by the movie as a whole, so as a result couldn't recommend it THAT highly.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : Absolutely bucketloads, over the top and realistic, including an amusement park scene where a LOT of kids get shot. I swear I'm not making this up.
Sex/Nudity : Several pairs of tits, and a couple of softcore oral sex scenes (as in you don't see anything) of both genders.
Swearing : A fuckton.
Summary: As hard as I tried to hate this movie, I just couldn't bring myself to completely hate it. Everything about this movie shouldn't work: the dialogue is pretty terrible and the content can at times be offensive and goddamned ridiculous. However, I found this movie to be absolutely watchable, and unbelieveably didn't feel like I'd wasted my time at the end, as the movie proved to be pretty amusing due to its over the top nature. You win this round, Boll... 5/10


The Ungodly
Thomas Dunn
Metrodome Distribution

Review by Brad Harmer

Sometimes a DVD lands on my review pile, and instantly I worry that it’s going to be pants. There’s a sixth sense you develop after a while that lets you know that what you have picked up is going to be complete and utter crud. This is why I was so pleasantly surprised by this movie. What I thought was going to be a terrible trash slash movie, is actually possibly the darkest and most psychologically challenging horror movie I have seen in a long, long time.

Struggling filmmaker, Mickey Gravatski (Wes Bentley - Ghost Rider), stumbles upon a diabolical serial killer carrying out another of his unspeakable crimes, he turns to blackmail, using footage of this madman in a disturbing new film project. What follows is a nerve-shredding psychological game of cat and mouse between the filmmaker and his dangerous new subject. To save himself, Mickey must confront the darkest side of not only the killer's nature, but his own.

What struck me most was the realism of the characters. The killer, James LeMac, is disturbingly real, showing real relationships with his family, babysitting a neighbour’s kid. Everything seemingly in direct contract to the acts he has both perpetrated and, in his childhood, been a victim of. As Mickey digs deeper and deeper into James’ childhood, the darker the film gets. Finally, James kidnaps Mickey’s mother, and starts to direct where the film goes. When Mickey is dragged to along to watch and document James commit another murder, I realised that this film was possibly the darkest I’d seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. When the ending finally arrives, it keeps you guessing until the last as to what it actually going to happen. This is how you make a good horror movie.

It’s not a perfect film, by any stretch. The actual prosthetic and gore work is a little sloppy, especially for a horror film, and whilst the two protagonists may be realistic and rounded characters, they don’t necessarily act in a realistic manner all the time, and some of their behavior requires rather a large suspension of disbelief. Normally that would be par for the course in a horror movie, but for one that is otherwise chillingly dark and realistic, it seemed rather at odds with the rest of the tone.

All in all this is definitely a film that I’d recommend to lovers of both horror movies and crime fiction. It has the darkest edge to it that I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. It’s hard watching, but let’s face it...art needs to be, sometimes. 8/10


Yellowbeard
Mel Damski
Optimum Home Entertainment

Review by Blake Harmer

Being a huge fan of the Monty Python films, as well as the works of Spike Milligan and Marty Feldman, you wouldn’t be surprised to find that I was really looking forward to seeing a comedy film featuring all of these great comics (well...just Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and John Cleese from the Pythons, anyway) as well as an all star cast of actors all round (James Mason, Peter Boyle and Madeline Kahn just to name a few). However, I was amazed to find that despite how many great comics you put in a film, it doesn‘t mean it‘s a guaranteed slice of comic gold.

The plot revolves around Yellowbeard (Chapman), the infamous pirate who murders men and rapes women. He has finally been captured and tortured for 20 years but still won’t reveal the location of his treasure. When Yellowbeard is due to be released, the British Admiralty decide to keep him incarcerated so that he will escape and go for his treasure, which he does. He visits his wife to recover his treasure map only to find that he now has a son, and that his wife had destroyed the map but had it copied onto His son’s head. So, with his son and some of his pirate friends, Yellowbeard sets off to get his treasure, and stop his old Pirate friend Moon who betrayed him and had him put in jail, the British Admiralty, and the local Spanish priests from getting to his treasure first.

This film does have a fair few problems. Firstly, the film never really tries to grab you with laugh after laugh of comedy awesomeness, and instead has it’s big laughs spaced few and far between whilst just being consistently silly throughout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in some films, but when you have a roster of comedians who can really dish out big laughs constantly, it just leaves the film feeling disappointingly average. Secondly, despite the plot holding your interest throughout, I thought the ending was also very disappointing.

The film does have some strengths though, Graham Chapman and John Cleese’s characters no doubt have the best lines in the film and are on top film. Also, when the film does decide to be funny, it really is brilliant, but as I said these are just too few and far between.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Comical Slapstick humour, typical piratey fight scenes. This film is more for laughs than violence though.
Sex/Nudity: You get some boob shots but nothing else. But hey that‘s already better than most films. Yellowbeard does “rape” a lot of people but normally this is just shown with him picking u a woman and carrying her off and you might see some clothes flying out of the window/bush that he goes into. A bit like a slightly grown up Carry On Film then. Which is disappointing coming from some of the Pythons.
Swearing: A few swear words, but nothing overly strong.
Summary: This is a disappointingly average film and contains nothing distinctly brilliant about it to make me recommend it to anyone. Fans of any of the fine comics in this film would be better off sticking to the great films and TV shows that made them famous. 5/10


Lockdown: 2009
TNA Entertainment
Review by Brad Harmer

Gimmick matches on a wrestling card work because they are gimmicks. A cage, ladder or hardcore match is supposed to be something a little different that makes the match stand out from the others, hence the use of the word gimmick. Here at Lockdown (Recoded at the Liacourous Center, Philadelphia, PA – 19th April 2009), every single match booked takes place within a six-sided steel cage. If you’re thinking that that could get repetitive and kind-of dull, serving only to undermine an otherwise fine gimmick match, then yes, you’re right. It does start to wear down a little after a while.

Things get off to a rolling start when the commentators get a couple of wrestler names wrong.

The whole thing smells of overbooking. The opening match is five-man cage escape match for the X-Division titles between Sheik Abdul Bashir, Consequences Creed, Kiyoshi, Jay Lethal and Suicide (Champion). The performances from the participants are good, but the spots come a little too thick and fast, and I can’t help but wonder if the running time of the match was reduced at the last minute.

What can go next? Well, how about a four-way match? Sojourner Bolt, Daffney, ODB and Madison Rayne perform in an acceptable match, but much like its predecessor, there is nothing to elevate it anywhere above the average.

The tag-title match between LAX, The Motor City Machine Guns (Champions) and No Limit was surprisingly average, considering the level of the talent involved. I’ve mentioned it before, and this is the perfect example of the gimmick of a match hindering, rather than enhancing, the overall quality of the show.

Things took a turn for the hardcore in a vicious brawl between Matt Morgan and Abyss. I was surprised at the amount of weapons and blood on display or what is a (relatively) mainstream wrestling promotion. Even here, however, there were a couple of factor that let it down. Firstly, Abyss is a significantly superior wrestler to Matt Morgan, and it really shows here. Secondly, there was a fairly dumb run-in towards the end that hampered what was an otherwise exciting match.

In a card that features even Team 3D and Beer Money Inc. only able to pull together an average, sub-ECW quality brawl, you know that something isn’t firing on all cylinders. The apparently overbooked Team Jarrett (Christopher Daniels, Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles) vs Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner and Booker T) is the only real highlight of the show, featuring a very tense segment on the top of the cage, which culminates in a most unexpected manner. Again, there’s a rather unnecessary run-in, which taints an otherwise great match, but this one bout was top-notch stuff!

And, of course, the World title match between Sting and Mick Foley is as great as you would expect from two utter legends.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that this is a bad pay-per-view – there aren’t any bad matches on it, per se. There are however, a lot of average or just-below average quality ones, which should make you think twice before parting with your money.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Loads. Especially in the Abyss vs Matt Morgan match, which surprised me with its brutality.
Sex/Nudity: None
Swearing: None
Summary: A load of great wrestlers not performing at their best. Whilst far from bad, the overall quality makes this worth a rental, but maybe not a purchase. 6/10

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