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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
One of the best children's TV programmes ever written!, 9 September 2010

'Horrible Histories' is a show comprising sketches and songs based around a range of different historical periods such as Measly Middle Ages, Slimy Stuarts, Terrible Tudors and Savage Stone Age, often focusing on British history but also covering the history of other nations and peoples such as Groovy Greeks, Rotten Romans and Incredible Incas. The show is based on the hugely popular books by Terry Deary (who plays the occasional cameo!) and features animations by Martin Brown.

The whole show from start to finish is just hilarious. I became addicted earlier this year watching repeats of the first series, and was overjoyed when the second series was aired a few months later. The sketches are incredibly clever - many of them are take-offs of popular shows such as Wife Swap, Ready Steady Cook and This Is Your Life. There's even a catchy, cleverly-written song in each episode which you'll find yourself humming about the house for days afterwards! It's great that the episodes are so funny but also of course it gets kids (and adults!) learning more about history which is no bad thing! And even though it is primarily aimed at children, it's obvious it's meant to entertain the grown-ups just as much! I think there's so many children's series that have come out over the years which are peddled as 'comdedy' for children but they just end up patronising them with 'gags' that they can see coming a mile off and are rarely funny at all - 'HH' credits its young viewers with a lot more intelligence I think.

But I must mention that even though the writing, structure and general concept of the show are inspired, what really makes the show what it is is its fantastic cast, many of whom contribute to the writing. Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Ben Willbond, Laurence Rickard and Sarah Hadland (as well as a whole host of others) are all brilliant in their countless roles - they seem to put a lot of thought into maximising the hilarity of each sketch and basically just do their job really well! My favourite moments are too many to list although I particularly like the medieval paramedics, the Will Somers sketch, Mathew Baynton's parody of a certain TV fashion makeover guru and the Franciso Pizzaro Rough Guide. I also love the Boudica, Charles II, four King Georges and Spartan High School Musical songs (the last just seems to get funnier with each viewing!). Just catch the repeats on CBBC or buy the DVD if you've yet to see it - if you have kids they'll love it, and even if you don't, you should like it anyway!

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Why, why, why, del Toro?!!, 12 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked the first Hellboy and pretty much love everything else del Toro has done, but I am SO exasperated about this sequel, so much that I'm writing a comment which I hardly ever do! There are only about 3 redeeming things about this film in my opinion (let's start with the positives!) - firstly, the creatures are on the whole really creative and unmistakably del Toro, in particular King Balor's briefly-seen soldiers and the creepy Chamberlain character, and the freaky Angel of Death. The tooth fairies were pretty cool too although the Golden Army itself lacked imagination visually. Secondly the Krauss character was mildly amusing even if he did suffer from bad dialogue ("suck my ectoplasmic something or other"...CRINGE!) and he was no replacement for Agent Myers, the human member of the team through whose eyes we were first introduced to the crazy world of Hellboy. His absence is explained away hastily in one clumsy line - it seems Hellboy sent him away because he still saw him as a rival for Liz's affections, even though he seemed to make peace with him at the end of the first film and accept him? Thirdly (this is so minor but I thought I'd mention it) the goblin they meet in Co.Antrim had a basically authentic Northern Irish accent - it would have been so easy to use a stereotypical comedy "sure an' begorra" accent as many audiences outside Britain may not have detected the difference but they went with the right accent which was good to see. Although, wasn't it annoying the way the place and time kept flashing up every other scene? That wasn't always needed.

My main bugbear is that I think there were too many action sequences - too many weird and wonderful characters and show-downs crammed in - you have the tooth fairies, the Scottish troll thing, then the troll market, then the utterly stupid looking CGI plant thing which was so powerful yet was easily dispatched by a couple of bullets (all done while Hellboy was holding a baby, which I feel was only put in so we could be shown that HELLBOY IS COMFORTABLE WITH BABIES - Ooh, that's lucky, cos he's gonna be a Dad! more on that later), then the giant, then the angel of death, then finally (phew!) the lacklustre and easily defeated army. I'm sure del Toro could have saved at least a bit of this for the next film which is so obviously going to happen (Krauss hastily and clunkingly refers to his lost love, which there's 'time to explain about later').

Acting - not great, especially the Princess (particularly the "No, brother, no!" line which I nearly burst out laughing at, it was so wooden!) I normally love Selma Blair but she just looked stroppy in this one and had none of the depth she had as Liz in the original. I've never really seen what is the fuss is about Ron Perlman - I just don't think he's anything special. Manning was a great character in the first one but in the sequel he just skirts around Hellboy and has none of his attitude from the original - I felt that Jeffrey Tambor's talent was wasted here. Luke Goss was actually very good, I was sorry to see his character killed.

The 'Liz 4 Hellboy' storyline has always seemed a little far-fetched to me anyway and I've heard that it doesn't actually happen in the comics (not sure?), but of course this is a Hollywood film so the hero has to be in a relationship, but del Toro has actually gone even further into the the 'let's make Hellboy normal' territory - oh my God, they're gonna be PARENTS. This is something I REALLY did not see coming, and to be honest the film lost me when Liz's pregnancy is discovered. I have some real issues with the ridiculousness of this plot turn! As if the opening with the cheesy young Hellboy (who is holding a doll or teddy and then a toy pistol, like all kids permanently do - yes we can see that he's a kid, he doesn't have to always be holding toys to drive this home to us) wasn't schmaltzy enough, and just an obvious way to get John Hurt squeezed into the sequel, we're now gonna get not one but two wisecracking and ultimately no doubt thoroughly irritating half-demon, half-human children hanging off Hellboy's back in the next film?! (shudders) That's one reason I'll be avoiding it! But further to this, call me pedantic, I know it's a fantasy story, it's not meant to be realistic, but why isn't Liz a little apprehensive about carrying two children who may each, for instance, be partially made of stone?! Or be huge like their father? How the hell's she going to carry them, what effect would it have on her physically?! It seems unrealistic that they both just accept that obviously it's going to be a completely 'normal' pregnancy with no risk to Liz's health or the babies'. Stupid, stupid idea!

This film had none of the del Toro magic and seemed to be made for teenagers or even older children. By the time they unleashed the golden army, I just didn't care anymore what happened to anyone, I was looking up at the ceiling, sighing and waiting for the end. Del Toro didn't even need this sequel, it was fine ending where it did. Fingers crossed he'll be back on form with the Hobbit.

All in all, a great film for youngsters and anyone in a light entertainment mood, but ultimately I think del Toro fans will be very disappointed. Rent on DVD if you're curious but I'd say put Cronos, Pan's Labyrinth or even Blade 2 in your DVD player instead of paying to see this.

Lassie (2005)
16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A heartwarming, inspiring treat for children and adults alike, 20 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just watched this film today and must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a family film so obviously don't expect an unpredictable ending (I mean the book is called 'Lassie Come Home' as we all know) but if you enjoy heartwarming, fun films for the sake of the fuzzy feeling to be gained from them (call me sentimental but I think that's reason enough!) then you're sure to love this adaptation of the well-known tale of an adorable rough collie and her journey back to her beloved working-class Yorkshire family, especially her best friend, the small boy named Joe.

If you aren't an animal lover this is certainly not for you, but if you have a soft spot for our furry friends you will definitely like it. If you have ever had a faithful dog as a pet it should touch you particularly - it celebrates the loyal nature of the canine and the fulfilling relationships humans can build with him. I think what is all the more attractive about the film is that Lassie's determination is so inspiring - she could just as easily be a human struggling against life's hardships.

The scenery and cinematography is homely, wild and beautiful, and the cast - Samantha Morton and John Lynch as Mr and Mrs Carraclough, Joe's hard working parents, and Peter O'Toole as the selfish Duke who persuades the scrimping family to give Lassie up, to name three - do a fantastic job.

If you are prone to crying at films then have the tissues at the ready (I went through a modest two, my boyfriend shed a few tears as well!) because the whole thing's a bit of an emotional, if unsurprising, roller-coaster! You find yourself rooting for the lovable pooch and will I think be more than satisfied with the very cute ending! Congratulations to everyone involved - this is a marvellous romp for the festive season and children especially will be enchanted by it (and probably start pestering parents for a collie pup of their own - sorry!).