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2/10
"Something has survived"
12 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film begins with a short "educational" essay in which we're informed the Megalodon lived 2 million years ago. Then the title "Jurassic Shark" appears. Playing on the public's ignorance? Nope. No playing here. This is the real thing and you'd better believe it! Please don't tell me you bought this film thinking it had something to do with the "Jurassic Park" franchise. If so then I should point out to you that "Raiders of the Lost Shark" has nothing to do with Indiana Jones. Oh yes, and it's the Earth that actually goes around the Sun.

Now to the plot. After a couple of girls are chomped and a lot of scientists have finished shouting at each other, we find ourselves on an island where a Megalodon is living in a lake. Unfortunately a group of men in black vests (obviously some kind of secret society) are holding some bikini girls at gun-point demanding they dive into the shark-infested water to retrieve a stolen painting. In a way it's kind of "Lake Placid", except that "Lake Placid" had a scary monster created with something more powerful than a my-first-computer-graphics package, interesting characters and a plot that made some kind of sense.

This movie avoids a one-star rating purely because of its humorous and ironic coda which seems to have had more thought put into it than the previous hour-and-a-half. Something may have survived, but I doubt it was the career of anyone involved with this.
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Free Agents (2009)
1/10
Another nail in the British sitcom's coffin.
28 June 2015
Three single people attempt to find love in the big wide world. Sounds kind of like "Game On", except with one crucial difference. It doesn't have any jokes in it.

When the best thing about a TV show is the title sequence, you know something's wrong. Yes, welcome to comedy for undemanding 8-year-olds and the simple-minded. Laugh until your ribs ache at the repeated f-words and c-words. Split your sides at the on-the-nose crude 'dirty talk'. This is what seems to pass for comedy these days - all stylish opening sequences, big-name actors and no humour whatsoever. I can't honestly blame the three leads, who all deserve better, for this. I'd like to see the greatest actors in history salvage this train-wreck.
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Bad Education (2012–2014)
2/10
An example of what's wrong with most of today's "comedy"
27 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Ever wondered why there have been no great British sitcoms to rival the glories of the 20th century? Or no new icons on a par with the Trotters, the Warmington-on-sea gang, the boys from the Dwarf, Victor Meldrew or Tony Hancock? It's simple really. The great comedy writing teams of old were from blue-collar backgrounds. They knew the masses and they knew what made the man in the street laugh.

These days, however, TV producers look no further than Oxbridge for their writing talent (if that's the right word). "Bad Education", the life and times of teachers in a modern school, is a prime example of this. The characters are either patronising stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs. The show treats its audience like idiots, relying on swearing and crudeness for its humour ('cos us plebs consider that kind of thing the height of comedy, huh, me old china?) I've no doubt the BBC will try passing it off as "comedy drama", but the drama in the series is so over-the-top it's impossible to take seriously.

If you want a TV show about life in a school then try "Teachers". It's a drama series, but it has comedy content which is actually funny and drama which is actually dramatic.
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Jekyll & Hyde (1990 TV Movie)
10/10
The best Jekyll and Hyde
5 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Caine plays the scientist whose breakthrough in drugs turns him into a savagely powerful brute who thinks only of violence and satisfying his carnal desires.

This is the best version of this famous story I've seen. There's never a dull moment, it has just the right mix of suspense, thrills, romance and occasional dark humour to make it a masterpiece. The storyline involving Lanyon as the father of Jekyll's late wife is a bold step, the star-studded cast are all convincing and the sets all look wonderfully authentic. A powerful and brilliantly-crafted piece of television.
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Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (2007 Video Game)
2/10
Far below the R & C quality I'd come to expect.
15 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a review of the PS2 version of this game.

After playing the other Ratchet and Clank games available for the PS2 and PS3, I was thrilled to discover there had been another game released for the PS2. It was a port from the PSP, but I was still certain it would be as much fun to play as the other R & C games I'd enjoyed. How wrong can you be? The first thing you notice about the PS2 version of this game is the camera. It's terrible. I spent most of the game unable to see where I was going, unable to see where the enemies were and often unable to see the pathway right in front of me. I spent one level constantly consulting the map to make sure I wasn't about to fall into oblivion. As if this wasn't bad enough, the weapons are quite pathetic. You empty all your supplies into villains and then end up trying to bash them to death with your ratchet (which, due to the unfriendly camera is nigh on impossible at times). The platform levels are very limited, lack any of the exploration required in even the earliest R & C games. The sub-games, meanwhile, range from the frustrating to the tedious. Racing is very difficult due to the fact your vehicle seems to be completely out of control half the time, and the Clank levels are mostly annoying as well. There's nothing in this game that hasn't been seen before and the storyline is frankly a non-event. The only thing elevating it above a one-star mark is the humour, which is up to the usual standards. But apart from that this game is an over-priced waste of time, puts me in mind more than anything of those old ZX Spectrum games which were badly ported onto the C64 without any attempt being made to use the superior graphic abilities. This game is a lazy cash-in.
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10/10
The best version of this story
14 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is without doubt the finest version of what is possibly Sherlock Holmes' most famous case concerning the suspicious death of Charles Baskerville and a centuries-old curse on the family involving a giant hound. When Baskerville's heir arrives in London, it's soon obvious he is in danger from something more than a mere legend and in no time the game's afoot. Ian Richardson is perfectly cast as Holmes and it's a real shame he only played the character in a couple of films. The rest of the star-studded cast is equally good, the sets look authentic and the moorlands are perfect whether they're presented in sunlit beauty or fog-shrouded darkness. With its genuine suspense, interesting storyline and beautiful soundtrack there isn't a dull moment in this film. A masterpiece.
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Godzilla 1985 (1984)
6/10
A return to the 'dark' Godzilla.
9 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In 1984, Godzilla returned with what is apparently a sequel to the original film, an attempt to forget all the other sequels of the 1950s, 60s and 70s and make Godzilla a villain again. This is a great-looking film, is dark and moody. I have to say that the original Japanese version is much better. The American version has been altered to make the Russians out to be villains who fire a missile on purpose. It's a monster movie! Why do we need Reagan-era political propaganda? Also there are intrusive scenes of Raymond Burr reprising his role as journalist Steve Martin, and some quite laughably blatant Dr Pepper advertising. If you can ignore them, it's a mainly entertaining monster movie.
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Burnside (2000– )
3/10
Could have been a brilliant "The Bill" spin-off.
12 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
For those of you don't know, Frank Burnside was a detective in the long-running police series "The Bill" and possibly its greatest ever character. Therefore it is a shame that this series, with him at the helm, was such a let-down. Back in the '80s and '90s, The Bill was noted for its fast-paced, realistic and involving story lines. What we have here is the complete opposite - a ridiculously movie-like over-glamorised show with over-length and long-drawn-out story lines. The first, involving a boy who takes revenge on his bullying peers, is admittedly entertaining, and it's a treat to see the return of Burnside with his ever-cynical manner. But overall this series is a might-have-been, has more in common with US cop shows than with the TV series of fond memories.
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Tittybangbang (2005–2007)
1/10
How can so many talented actors star in such trash?
22 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Comedy shows which often rely on catch-phrases can work if there's depth to the characters and something to laugh at besides the catch-phrase. For example, Little Britain, The Fast Show and The Catherine Tate Show are hilarious. But Tittybangbang is comedy writing of the laziest kind. Each show consists of the same characters popping up, saying the same things. The problem is that half the catch-phrases in this show aren't funny to start with. Dragged out to an entire series they're a total chore to sit through. A lot of the time it's just a case of "look at the funny people". Once you've seen the buck-toothed posh woman or the half-naked middle-aged women once there's nothing more to them. Characters like the Jamaican-talking gang, Salty Tales and the film star sketches are total filler material, lack any gags of any kind. A lot of it is just in-yer-face crudeness without any style or humour. The real shame is that the two female leads are great at doing a wide range of characters, and there's a strong supporting cast. Unfortunately it doesn't matter who's in it. If you ain't got the scripts then you ain't got the show.
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10/10
A treat for kids and adults alike.
15 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The old woman who lived in a shoe is about to be thrown out onto the cobbled streets by Barnaby, the tight-fisted landlord. But he will forget about the money she owes him if she allows him to marry her daughter Bo Peep. Therefore it's up to Stan and Ollie to foil the old miser's plans. This, however, leads to more trouble as Bo Peep's boyfriend is framed for killing one of the 3 little pigs and exiled to the underworld. Can Stan and Ollie prove his innocence and save him? This is without doubt one of Laurel and Hardy's finest films. The comedy and slapstick are at their best, Barnaby is excellently nasty and it all has a real fairy-tale/dark fantasy quality to it. The icing on the cake is the grand finale. You really feel like you want to get up and march along with those toy soldiers. Superb.
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4/10
A depressing film which is often painful to watch.
15 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The 1940s saw the decline of what were once the greatest comedy pairing in history, as they were placed in the hands of people who obviously had no idea what had previously made them so funny. It is fair to say that Laurel and Hardy were getting too old for slapstick comedy, had to rely more on verbal humour. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, unless of course the verbal humour is rubbish. The duo were given a script and told to stick to it, were not allowed any input into it. That, I think, was a fatal flaw, as L & H had always been great comedy innovators. Indeed, they would turn up at conventions and have audiences in fits with improvised-on-the-spot material. This film involves the duo finding employment as servants for a boy who, it turns out, is royalty. Problems lie with the stodgy, slow-moving script, the hit-and-miss gags and the fact L & H are just not allowed to play the characters that made them famous. There's the occasional laugh, and this film never goes down to the level of today's lesser 'comedy' films by relying on gratuitous swearing, sexual innuendo and the like (compared to trash like 'Kevin & Perry go Large this film is a masterpiece) but really the script could have been written with anybody in mind.
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Crash of the Titans (2007 Video Game)
4/10
Rent, don't buy.
7 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dr Neo Cortex, the bane of Crash's life, has returned, this time intends to use 'mojo' to turn all the animals on Crash's island into giant monsters. To stop him, you must guide Crash through levels 'jacking' the large beasts. This means bashing a 'titan' until it's dazed, then jumping onto its back and taking control of it. Whilst this is fun to start with, it isn't long before you realise all the levels are more or less the same. Though the titans look different, there are only three basic types - the fist-fighters, the laser-shooters and the big bruisers. Most of the game consists of bashing beasts into submission. The problems arise when you try to jack one and find yourself surrounded by titans. They'll just bash you to death and you, as Crash, have no real defences. Despite this, I reached the final boss in only a few hours. I can't say I had much fun along the way. The gameplay switches from frustrating to completely uninvolving. The levels are all on set pathways, the platform areas lacking the imagination and innovation of earlier Crash platform games. Added to that is the seen-it-all-before scenery and the almost-static camera. Only the occasional (admittedly good) cut-scene reminds the player they're playing a Crash game. This game could have been made for any video game character. I can't honestly see any reason to play this game ever again. There's a two-player mode, as well as extras. On the way through the levels you can pick up all the 'extras' such as toilets (why is this game full of toilets?) but there's no real reward to make finding them worthwhile. Younger players might find something in this, but all I could find was one interesting idea padded out to a strictly average game. Is this the weakest Crash game yet? Not having played 'Crash Boom Bang', I couldn't tell you.
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9/10
Great fun
31 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When Timmy, the ill little mouse from the first Secret of Nimh, goes to Thorn Valley he finds life there to be very harsh. So, after finding a female mouse whose parents have been captured by human scientists, he decides to do the heroic thing. After watching this I can't help feeling it has been unfairly treated. As with films like 'Son of Kong', everyone expected it to be a repeat of the original. But I think Secret of Nimh 2 is a first-class piece of escapist entertainment. The characters are good, the backgrounds look great and there is never a dull moment. Yes, there is the occasional song, but certainly nothing as teeth-grindingly twee or awful as most of the songs in the Land Before Time sequels.
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Doctor Who: Warriors of the Deep: Part One (1984)
Season 21, Episode 1
3/10
Terrible start to an otherwise top-notch season.
29 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Doctor and his companions arrive in an undersea base in the future to find something fishy going on. Before long the deep-sea station is invaded by the Silurians and Sea Devils, who have now teamed up to rid the Earth of the nasty apes known only as Mankind. Sorry if that introduction sounded jokey, but this story inspires little but humour. Worse still, it's unintentional humour. There are some positive points. The interior of the reptile-peoples' craft looks impressive, the Sea Devils' voices sound suitably sinister, and they've thankfully abandoned those string vests they were wearing in the seventies. But apart from that, the production values are pretty sub-par. The Silurians look like they're wearing flared trousers, it's painfully obvious the heads of the actors playing the Sea Devils are inside the creatures' necks, and the story's 'big beast' is a lumbering pantomime horse-like creature. The base is far too brightly-lit. There's nowhere anything could be hiding in the shadows, and there's no real feeling of being in an undersea base. It could just as well be a space station. I can still picture that scene in which Tegan is trying to make it look as though a piece of painted cardboard is actually very heavy. For the benefit of anyone who hasn't seen the seventies Silurian and Sea Devil stories (and that includes anyone working on this story, so listen up) the reptile-people were presented as perfectly reasonable beings who felt the same kind of xenophobia towards mammals that humans felt towards them. Here the reptile-people are nothing more than stock Dr Who monsters, killing everything that moves because they're 'evil'. It's just that if you're going to bring back old enemies, at least do it properly.
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Doctor Who: The Invasion of Time: Part One (1978)
Season 15, Episode 21
6/10
Fun in a silly sort of way.
25 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In the seventies, Dr Who came under fire from the BBC chiefs for being too scary. So it was toned down, but unfortunately was toned down so far it turned into a show which often seemed like a parody. Some late seventies stories like 'Horror of Fang Rock', along with most of the stories from Series 25 and 26, showed Dr Who could still be dark and sinister without being violent or nasty. But here we have what could have been an intriguing story ruined turned into what is often out-and-out comedy. The Doctor returns to Gallifrey, where he claims the title of President over some legal loophole and seems to betray his people by helping an alien race invade the planet. How anybody is supposed to take those tin-foil monsters seriously, when even the Doctor can't, is beyond me. It isn't long, however, before the Sontarans appear for a couple of obviously tacked-on episodes. Two episodes of comedy stormtroopers rampaging around a disused hospital(?) follow. The ending is a total let-down. Leela, one of the Doctor's best companions, should have either died a hero's death or left the Tardis to help or protect some downtrodden tribe/group of people. Instead she goes off to marry someone she hardly knows. Not only contrived but completely out-of-character. Ah well. Unlike the tedious 'Underworld', this story is at least entertaining and fun to watch.
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Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol: Part One (1988)
Season 25, Episode 5
9/10
An intriguing, often unfairly-judged tale.
23 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It pains me that all anyone can see in this is gaudiness and Bertie Bassett. The tacky, tasteless-looking scenery is intentional. This is a story involving a society who are forced to be happy on pain of death. It's also an interesting take on Britain under the reign of Thatcher, and it's still as relevant today as it was in 1988. Terra Alpha could so easily be an offshoot of 'cool Britain'. Helen A is a first-rate villain, her sincere broadcasts hiding her executions and her 'Happiness Patrol' troops who will quite happily gun down their own employees. The child-like, tantrum-throwing Kandyman and the cynical Gilbert M form a good double-act. Far from being just a kids' piece of light entertainment, this is quite a dark and intriguing tale about how happiness can't exist without sadness.
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Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen: Part One (1987)
Season 24, Episode 9
8/10
Great entertainment.
16 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If this story had been shown in Season 25 or 26 I'm sure it would have a better reputation, would be regarded as a jolly piece of comic relief between darker, more serious stories. Unfortunately it is an intentionally comic tale which was broadcast straight after two unintentionally comic tales. The story of a load of shape-shifting aliens going back to 1959 Butlins in a flying bus just oozes far-out sci-fi, and a lot of actors well-known for comedy roles appear - from the game-show-host-ish tollmaster to a couple of bumbling American agents looking for a lost satellite. The story also has its darker moments. Horror veteran Don Henderson plays a genuinely unsettling villain. There are also interesting comparisons made between the bees and the Chimerons. Sylvester McCoy's Doctor comes of age in this story, starts showing hints of the enigmatic manipulator he would later become. Alright, so maybe Delta herself lacks any kind of character or emotion, but this is still great entertainment.
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6/10
Alright, so it's nothing highbrow.
5 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Having seen the first Spiders film, I wasn't expecting an intelligent plot or an involved storyline. The story, such as it is, involves a ship which contains more out-sized arachnids which are soon devouring people. The first half of this film is quite amazingly tedious, with very little happening, but as soon as villains - both arachnid and human - go into action, things start to move. Whether or not you find this film frightening presumably depends on how you feel about spiders. Personally I thought it was great fun, an action-girl fighting her way through baddies and comic-looking giant spiders. If you're a fan of monster-stompers this is worth a look, but just don't take it too seriously.
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A Christmas Carol (1999 TV Movie)
9/10
One of the best versions
5 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' must have been adapted, in one form or another, more times than anyone can count. But the tale of a man who realises greed is, and always has been, his worst enemy is as powerful as ever. Patrick Stewart is one of the best Scrooges, plays him as a genuinely mean-spirited and hard-nosed businessman with a real on-screen presence. What with good special effects and strong direction, the ghosts and their travels through time are very effective and haunting. The only problems I had with this film were a few decidedly wooden performances from some of the supporting cast. Mrs Cratchit especially just seems to be reading her lines. But minor faults aside, this is one of the finest versions of this classic story.
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2/10
An appeal.
17 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'd like to make an appeal to everyone out there who has ever been involved in polluting the environment.

Godzilla returns to save the world once again, this time battling a blob with eyes. Hedora, as its known, starts off tiny but is soon growing as a result of feasting on all the toxic waste and suchlike. This entry into the seemingly never-ending Godzilla series includes an irritating little boy who says 'Papaaaaaaa' a lot, a storyline that feels as though it was put together with very little thought, occasional silly cartoon sequences showing Hedora doing nasty things, slabs of tedium and two almost identical endings, one after the other.

So please, stop polluting the environment. Because in a pollution-free environment, there'll be no need for movie-makers to come up with this kind of trash.
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3/10
Bland cash-in.
3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What is it about re-makes? Alright, this isn't a re-make, it's a film version of a TV series. But nonetheless, re-makes of any kind often seem to be riding on the backs of the originals. That, it would appear, means little thought or effort needs to be spent on them as the audience is already there. I was indifferent about this film before I saw it, but now I think you'd be much better buying the DVDs of the still-hilarious six-part TV series.

For what its worth, the film version looks good, what with its bigger budget. Unfortunately the characters leave a lot to be desired. Arther Dent seems completely underwhelmed by anything he comes across, Ford just seems aimless, Zaphod is just a boorish oaf and Marvin looks like a snowman. Everyone else just seems to be reading their lines, with all the enthusiasm of actors working out what they're going to do with their pay cheques. Deep Thought's voice is especially uninspiring, and the whole thing lacks any of the sense of awe, wonder or darkness of the TV series. The fact this film finishes seemingly halfway through the story is the final insult.

Point of note: the original Marvin makes a cameo.
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Spiders (2000)
6/10
Silly but mostly entertaining.
3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I bought this on DVD as part of a five-DVD bargain pack which contained two of the Halloween films. I finally watched Spiders the other night.

Whether or not you find this film scary depends on how you feel about spiders. Personally I find tarantulas a lot better company than most of the human beings I know. Anyway, the plot of this film involves a spider which is sent into space and is contaminated with some kind of alien. The spider lays an egg in someone, and then a huge spider bursts out of their mouth (yes, someone obviously watched the film Alien). The spider eats various people, ties others up in its silk (which strangely shoots from its rear end like laser beams)and starts growing bigger and bigger. Ultimately it reaches monster proportions and goes on the rampage in the city (where else do giant monsters goes on rampages). The special effects in this film are pretty varied in quality. Though there are some slabs of tedium, most of this film is entertaining in a campy sort of way.
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Slugs (1988)
8/10
Campy horror fun.
3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm assuming this is an adaptation of the Shaun Hutson novel. In the film version, the action is set in America, as giant flesh-eating slugs start invading gardens and coming out of taps and lavatories. I wasn't expecting much of this film, but it turned out to be a really enjoyable horror romp from beginning to end. More gory than scary, and certainly not without its humour. That's unintended humour in some cases - a man puts his gardening gloves on and is bitten by a slug hiding in one of them. He proceeds to bash his hand against a table, stick a pair of sheers into his glove and chop his hand off with an axe but strangely it never dawns on him to remove his glove. But having said that, you can't help but love this film.
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8/10
More monster mayhem.
3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
King Kong is once again at risk from being exploited by ruthless humans. On this occasion a group of power-mad people, assisted by evil scientist Dr Who, intend to use Kong to find a mineral under the ground which can be turned into a deadly weapon. Despite this film's obviously limited budget, and its 'tributes' to the far superior original RKO film, this is an entertaining romp. Not cerebral, but still fun. The monster scenes (Kong battles a robot version of himself, plus a few prehistoric beasts on his island) are good, and once more Kong falls for a human blonde. The human drama is great as well, with some real action thriller scenes.

There. I reviewed this film without making any jokes about Dr Who, so I needn't exterminate this review (oops).
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7/10
Monster-battling fun.
3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Having never seen the Japanese version, I can't say whether the US version is better or worse. But I can say that this is a jolly monster-battling romp. King Kong is intoxicated by some kind of berry which grows on his island, is brought back to Japan by ruthless businessmen who intend to make money out of him. But they reckoned without Godzilla, who returns to fight the great ape. Alright, so the film completely ignores the storyline of the original King Kong film, and the special effects (apart from the land-stalking octopus, which looks really good for its time) are pretty tatty. But come on. If you're a fan of these kinds of films, you'll be hooked until the final showdown.
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