Reviews written by registered user

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1055 reviews in total 
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"Hide" and seek., 8 August 2016

This old-fashioned slice of child-friendly entertainment is probably more of an interesting curio than an enjoyable movie experience nowadays.

Peter Butterworth has a main role, which will make this worth a watch if you're a fan of his, but the whole thing plays out like an inferior take on some Enid Blyton material.

The plot concerns some poachers and a project to film some bird eggs hatching. When the film-makers accidentally catch the poachers on film . . . . . . . well, I am sure you can see where this is going (hence the title).

Butterworth is good. Nobody else stands out. Having said that, it's amusing enough to watch the rest of the cast go through the standard posh Brit motions of the time.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Return of the reapers? Sort of., 1 January 2015

I've heard mixed opinions on The Strain, with the most vocal detractors often being those who have already read the books (written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan). I haven't read the books, so bear that in mind, but I think this is a fun show about a vampire epidemic.

With a number of moments reminiscent of the great Salem's Lot, The Strain manages to stand out in a field - horror-centric TV shows - that looks in danger of becoming overcrowded nowadays. It does that by complementing the bloodshed with many scenes of genuine tension.

Corey Stoll is the main character, "Eph", a CDC worker who ends up going rogue when his superiors try to silence him. Working on a case involving a plane full of deceased passengers, Eph eventually starts to consider a theory put forward by Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley). This isn't just an infectious disease. It's vampirism.

Other notable characters include a city health inspector named Vasiliy (Kevin Durand), the main man who is putting all the pieces into place (Thomas Eichorst, played by Richard Sammel), Eph's work colleague (Nora Martinez, played by Mia Maestro), Jonathan Hyde may be ill but is also a human "familiar", and there's a hacker named Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas).

The biggest failing in the show is the way in which the effects of the epidemic are shown. For most of the first season, many places look fairly normal, albeit very quiet and uninhabited. There's a feeling that we're only seeing a snapshot of the bigger picture, which is all well and good, but the broad strokes of the bigger picture are often forgotten about while moving around with the main characters.

The finale may not have been as grand or neat as hoped, but I look forward to the second season.

8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Meat and greet., 14 December 2014

Like many people, I have been seduced by the manly greatness of Nick Offerman. He's just such a damn fine figure to aspire to emulate, with his love of red meat, the outdoors, hard graft and woodwork.

American Ham is a live show that, in many ways, gives you exactly what you expect from the man. He provides 10 key lessons to leading a better life, with some given more time than others. He also includes a few songs.

Unfortunately, there are times when this feels like someone else entirely. Some may think that Offerman should be able to put himself over differently in a live show compared to how we view him on films and TV, which would be fine if he hadn't cultivated such a carefully-controlled figure in many of his appearances elsewhere.

Perhaps it's up to me to separate the Offerman from the Swanson, and vice versa, or maybe I'm right to feel short-changed by a live show that relied far too often on crudity and jokes about female genitalia. The main bonus was that the key points raised would/could all help people to live a better, happier life, and you have to take your hat off to the man for having such a great outlook on life.

Whether the fault lies with me or Mr. Offerman, this proved to be a big disappointment. I'll continue to be a fan of the man, but I won't be eager to see any more of his live work.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly, it's not too corny., 4 December 2014

This is a superior Goosebumps episode, and one that is likely to raise the titular signs of fear on the arms of younger viewers.

Heather Bertram and John E. Campbell are Jodie and Mark, two youngsters visiting their grandparents at their farm. It isn't long until they notice that their grandparents are acting a bit strange. Things don't feel like they used to. Is the episode title to be taken literally? And if scarecrows are walking around at night, why would that change the behaviour of grandma and granpa?

Bertram and Campbell both do okay here, but there's more fun to be had watching Michael Copeman as Stanley, a farm helper who also seems to be acting strangely, and a young Kris Lemche (billed as Chris Lemche) as Stanley's teenage son.

Scott Peters does a decent job of bring the story to screen, and director Randy Bradshaw enjoys making some moments as scary as possible, especially during the first moment of tension.

The second half fizzes out slightly in comparison to the first half, but this is still a great episode of the show that gets the balance of fun and frights just right.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This never happened to Michael Palin., 11 October 2014

Poor Karl Pilkington. Being friends with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant may be the worst thing that ever happened to him. Oh, it's made him famous, of course, but it's also led to programmes like this.

An Idiot Abroad, throughout three seasons, has the guys sending Karl to visit famous wonders of the world, tick off items from a bucket list, and then embark on some globetrotting with Warwick Davis by his side. Every series is absolutely golden, and made me laugh harder than many other TV shows from recent years.

Karl is a brutally honest, very hard to please, man. But people see clips of him talking about his travels and often misinterpret his comments as prejudicial in some way. He's not. Believe me, this isn't a show that's wringing laughs from racism.

Karl is the quintessential Little Englander, but without the more negative aspects of that title. He'd much rather be at home, sipping a cup of tea and enjoying a packet of biscuits, than being baked under a sun he finds uncomfortably hot while he looks at some pyramids in Egypt, for example.

He's rather blunt, and sometimes insensitive, but Karl is a surprisingly sweet figure, who is shown at both his best and worst while Gervais and Merchant torment him from afar (because none of the trips go as planned, certainly not as Karl would have planned them anyway).

Hilarious stuff, well worth your time.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A mirror that helps people to disappear., 7 October 2014

Some kids have fun with a mirror in this fairly enjoyable tale from the Goosebumps series. It's a mirror that allows the person looking into it to become invisible. Great. Sounds like lots of fun, right? Unfortunately, it becomes harder and harder to become visible again after using it a few times. There's a chance that the mirror may have an agenda.

Directed by Ron Oliver, and written by Rick Drew, this is a tale that mixes some fun elements into an unsurprisingly fun end result. Invisibility is always good, and mirrors can always hint at something potentially sinister, with their reflected worlds that are just like our own . . . . . . but different.

The cast all do well enough, with Jonathan Schwartz and Flora Chu playing Max and his friend, Erin, while a young Kevin Zegers plays Noah (Max's brother).

I wouldn't say it's one of the best of the bunch, but it's a decent enough time-waster and should keep the intended audience perfectly entertained.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Quicksilver? More like slow bronze, at best., 7 September 2014

A slightly disappointing episode of the show, improved by the presence of Tatyana Ali in a central role, this is an unscary, uninteresting tale for the campfire that manages to rise up to the level of average thanks to the format of the show, and the fact that I reminded myself it was always aimed at viewers younger than myself.

It doesn't take Aaron (Kyle Alisharan) and Doug (Stuart Stone) long to realise that their new home may be a bit different from their previous home. While their parents remain blissfully unaware of the weird things happening under their roof, the boys start to suffer from some supernatural goings on. When Aaron sees a girl (Tatyana Ali) at his school who looks exactly like a girl he has seen in his house he approaches her and asks some questions. But does she know anything about his new home? And can she be of any help?

Directed by Michael Keusch, and written by Wendy Brotherlin, this episode is saved by the familiarity viewers have with the Midnight Society regulars, and a couple of decent lead performances. Ali is very good here, while Alisharan and Stone both do perfectly acceptable jobs, with the latter having a lot less to do than the former.

One to watch on your travels through the show, but not one to revisit.

The puppet master., 25 August 2014

This may not the best show that Strassman has ever done, but that's only because he's kept improving and improving over the years.

In case you don't know who he is, David Strassman is a ventriloquist who also uses a few extra tricks in each show to surprise audiences and make his characters all the more real.

There's Chuck Wood, the rude li'l guy who swears, spits and tries to get away with as much nastiness as possible. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there's Ted E. Bare, one of the cutest puppets you'll see, who also happens to be quite simple. Sid Beaverman is a wise-cracking beaver, enlisted as a replacement for Chuck, and Kevin is an alien who visits for the portion of the show that's probably the least funny, but not entirely without chuckles.

This is a lot of fun, but it's probably even more fun for those who've never seen Strassman before. But for those who HAVE seen him before - be sure to grab a copy for your collection anyway, he's deserving of your support (if only for putting up with Chuck for so many years).

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Unpleasant developments., 30 July 2014

A story familiar to those who read the Goosebumps book "Say Cheese And Die" (which was, in turn, made into a TV episode a couple of years after this one . . . . . starring a young Ryan Gosling), this is the tale of a camera with strange powers. It takes photographs, but it ends up revealing the future of any subject photographed. And those futures are usually full of danger.

Eddie Kaye Thomas plays the young man who gets his hands on the camera. He thinks that he can use it to get revenge on a school bully, but soon realises that he might be safer to just leave it well alone. Especially when considering that the camera doesn't care what, or who, ends up being photographed.

It's Susan Kim responsible for the writing this time, and she has a lot of fun with the main premise. The same can be said for director Ron Oliver, who keeps everything moving along nicely, although it doesn't feel too rushed either. Everything is entertaining enough to make this one of the better episodes of the show.

And, for fans of the American Pie movies, there's added fun nowadays from seeing a much younger Thomas (best known to many viewers as Finch from the teen comedy franchise) in the lead role.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
It may take some time, but love can ring true., 30 July 2014

A supernatural tale that's as sweet as it is predictable, this particular episode of campfire spookiness focuses on a young man (Fab Filippo) who finds a ring in his work locker, which leads to him then finding his potential dream girl (Shanya Vaughan). Unfortunately, this coincides with him realising that everyone seems to be ignoring him, with the exception of his sister (Andrea Nemeth).

Written by David Preston, and directed by David Winning, this might be far from the spookiest episode of "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?" but it's a traditional tale that unfolds nicely, making the journey more important than the final destination.

Vaughan doesn't really have much to do, besides appearing and looking like the object of Filippo's affection, but she's fine. Filippo and Nemeth both do well, with both excelling in a crucial scene near the very end of the episode.

Hardened viewers might find themselves yearning for something a bit scarier, but I enjoyed this episode as something that managed to be relatively light without ever feeling dull.

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