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Matthew Newland (Tropical Montreal, Quebec)

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Daredevil (Widescreen)
Daredevil (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Ben Affleck
Price: CDN$ 14.27
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Daredevil can go to ... heck., May 12 2004
This review is from: Daredevil (Widescreen) (DVD)
A friend of mine loaned me his copy of "Daredevil" a little while back, and I was actually quite excited to watch it. I knew next to nothing about Daredevil, save that he was blind and that his other senses worked extra-well to compensate for that fact ... beyond that, I was totally in the dark. I had recently come off of seeing a pair of comic book adaptations not too long before trying out this one: the excellent "X2: X-Men United" and the pretty good-but-not-quite-as-much-fun "Hulk", so I was pretty sure I would enjoy this one too. I was sadly mistaken.
To be fair, this film did have a couple things going for it, though one of them is admittedly entirely subjective. First off, I was interested immediately by the use of Roman Catholicism in relation to the main character. To be clear, this both interested me and set me on edge ... while I appreciated seeing a character in a movie have the Faith play a notable role in his life, just as it does with mine, it also set me on edge ... I didn't want the church to be portrayed in the wrong way, as it tends to be in movies that I have seen (not in the fact that the Church is insulted, but that the writers' understanding of the Church is sometimes mistaken on a particular point or attitude, which leads to the Church not being properly represented. I felt the same way when I saw Nightcrawler praying the rosary in "X2". Gladly, I had nothing to worry about from him, and Nightcrawler definitely came out as my favorite character of that film). I felt the Church itself to be well represented in this film ... Daredevil's actions contrary to her teachings, such as the things he does motivated by revenge, were his own choices. Good enough for me.
There were two more things I liked about this film, which helps to merit it two stars rather than just one. First, the whole childhood of Matt Murdock/origin story episode of the film was enjoyable. Second, I have to say that Colin Ferrell stole the show as the villainous Bullseye, hamming it up to a most entertaining degree and becoming a true bright spot amid the mindless chaos which surrounded him. If he had been the star, I would never have considered the movie to be a perfect one, but it would have still been incredibly fun to watch ... like seeing a movie just about the Kurgan from "Highlander"!
Now that I've got the good things out of the way, let's take a look at the stuff I remembered most: the bad.
First off, there's our main characters. Murdock and Elektra have got to have the worst possible scenes together out of any cinematic couple I've seen in recent history. Their meeting in the coffee shop or wherever it is is just awful (and he comes off looking like a major creep, if you ask me), and their little fight on the playground was downright embarrassing (made even worse by the awful one-liners they were forced to spout). Things don't get any better, and there was certainly no sympathy to be found from me when Elektra ... well, let's not spoil it for those who have not yet seen the movie (though I should still tell you not to bother).
I was majorly bewildered and frustrated by Murdock's confession scene after he had 'a bit of fun' with Elektra. It's one thing not to confess something you aren't sorry for, but if you aren't ... well, shouldn't you be telling the priest about that? I find it truly distressing that he could be such good friends with a priest and so familiar with the Church and all her practices/disciplines/beliefs and not mention or even think twice about that little detail. If he had been a non-religious character I wouldn't have given this matter a second thought.
What else is wrong with this movie? There's the awful music (I eagerly await the day when the world realizes that rap is cra ... crud and stop subjecting us to it), hearing the phrase "lawyer by day ..." repeated over and over ad nauseum, the incredible stunts that Daredevil is able to pull off (I actually had to double-check and make sure that he didn't have other superpowers besides his hyperactive senses) ... If that's really true, I'd like to be able to jump off of buildings the same way he does, and a heck of a lot more.
"Daredevil" was a complete waste of time, and has soured me from seeing any more comic book adaptations until the third "X-Men" film comes out in a year or two. You know it's a bad sign when you find yourself rooting for the bad guy, which we all know will only result in disappointment if we do. If you haven't seen this yet, give it a miss and do something else, like go to the library or clean your bathroom sink. You'll have a better time of it, and if you knew what you were missing you would thank me.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider- The Cradle of Life (Widescreen Special Collector's Edition) (Bilingual)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider- The Cradle of Life (Widescreen Special Collector's Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Angelina Jolie
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 4.93
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars This cradle su ... bites!, May 10 2004
I saw this movie for free, as a friend of mine (for reasons I cannot fathom) bought it and loaned it to me, knowing that I am a huge fan of the Indiana Jones movies. I can understand someone thinking that a similar film might appeal to me, but when that film is absolute crud ... well. I knew that both this film and the one which preceded it (which I have mercifully not yet seen) were both based on video games, but this was not necessarily a bad thing: after all, "The Pirates of the Carribean" was based on an amusement park ride, and yet the movie was still very enjoyable (of course, that movie had some truly talented artists working behind it, such as Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp). But perhaps that particular movie was an exception to the rule ... it's very possible that movies based on video games/rides/other sorts of not-exactly-literate entertainment generally aren't that great (but it would be nice if they were). But what exactly were my problems with this movie? I've got a list of them, and here they are in no particular order:
The first complaint that comes to mind for this has to do with the music. Though it wouldn't be so bad if we heard it just a time or two, the "theme music" for this movie, a sort of "Lawrence of Arabia"-style sweeping orchestra piece, gets pretty danged irritating the fortieth or so time we hear it.
Second, there's Lara Croft's outfits. They aren't practical adventuring gear ... they're obviously costumes. That's the vibe I got right away, when first we saw her jetskiing in that skin-tight silver thing. She's an archaeologist, not a model, for crying out loud! Not only that, but Angelina Jolie, in spite of how well she pulled off the British accent, seemed totally phony and unbelievable in the role. She was more an archetype than a real person ... a glamorous British adventurer simply going through the moves. The character did nothing for me.
Third, the action and flow of the film struck me as nothing more than a series of incidents or set-pieces ... one cool action moment after another, repeated ad nauseum, from a hardly thrilling skydive to a motercyle ride on top of the Great Wall of China to a dozen more ... It's not exciting in the least, and only inspired for me eye-rolling tedium. It made me wonder "what's next" as each scene went by, and not in a good way.
While the action was up to that point meant to be realistic, the whole climax of the film involving the tree creatures guarding the treasure of Pandora's Box, along with the Escher-style caves the box is kept in really came out of nowhere, inspiring the question "what the heck is that all about" rather then, "wow, cool!". One thing I like now, I realize, about "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (which is quite possibly my all-time favorite movie, I should now mention) is that it gave us hints of the supernatural throughout the film, without actually throwing us into a situation where the supernatural was undeniably at work until the very end. This movie, unfortunately, keeps us (tenuously, I admit) in the real world until the bit toward the end, and the change is quite jarring and feels totally artificial.
I really didn't care for "Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life", and so I really cannot recommend it. If anyone out there can enjoy this, more power to them, I say, but I honestly believe that a healthy dose of Indiana Jones administered through a viewing of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" will immediately cure anyone of their desire to see this film again. It saddens me to know that while another Indy film seems next to impossible to get off the ground, films like this are in the meantime somehow being released and making people like me always more aware of what the movie-viewing public is really missing out on.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Yellow Submarine (Widescreen)
Yellow Submarine (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Paul McCartney
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 52.57
14 used & new from CDN$ 11.04

5.0 out of 5 stars "... and I've got a hole in me pocket!", May 6 2004
Ah, "Yellow Submarine". I had wanted to see this movie for ages ... and so I was very happy when, last January, my mom and dad got me a copy of this for my birthday. Since I received it, I've watched it several times, and enjoyed each one a little more than the time which came before. If you're a Beatles fan, a music fan, or an animation fan, you need look no further than here if you're at Amazon.com today just searching for something you might like.
While the plot of this movie is really nothing special, the music, visuals, and characters more than make up for it, and so you'll be guaranteed to be entertained whenever you pop this into your dvd player. Basically, a musical, magical, mystical place called Pepperland, located far beneath the ocean waves, is under attack by a race of music-hating creatures called Blue Meanies. One fellow, able to escape Pepperland before the Blue Meanies turned him to stone, sets off to find help for his fellow citizens, and makes his way to Liverpool. There, he (naturally) enlists the assistence of four musicians, and together they journey back to Pepperland in order to fight the Blue Meanie Menace. That's about it.
Along the way, however, they journey through some amazing (and to my knowledge, unknown) places, such as the Sea of Monsters, the Sea of Holes (classic line found here, together with a lot of ... holes ...), and a little (and big) place called Nowhere. This journey up to the arrival in Pepperland is actually my favorite part of the movie. Very episodic and varied, with some interesting sights and some great lines. This is a VERY quotable movie.
I was disappointed to learn that the real Beatles didn't actually do their own voices, but I was pleased to see them in a live-action ending sequence to finish the movie (as long as the real Beatles were involved somehow). Of the four we here, the guy doing Paul's voice did the best job, very recognizably emulating the man he was trying to sound like. Ringo's was quite good too, though John's was getting to be a little 'iffy', and I have to say that George, at least to my ears, sounded nothing like George at all (aside from the accent). I learned from this very same DVD, in one of the supplements, that they actually found the guy to do George's voice in a bar, totally by chance. Apparantly they thought he was perfect ... I disagree, but that's not really a huge complaint as far as this movie goes.
The musical selections are great (but then, how couldn't it be?). We get some favorite songs like the one that gives this film its title (naturally), along with "Nowhere Man", "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", and "All You Need is Love", plus many more. Also, the dvd includes a scene originally cut from the film, which features a song I had never heard before called "Hey Bulldog". It's a shame it was cut before, because it's a rather nice tune. I am glad they decided to include it again here.
The dvd has some nifty extras, including interviews with some of the production crew and a couple of the guys providing the voices, plus a 'making of' that dates back to the time the movie was made. It's interesting to watch, but the film quality is terrible. I really wish they had cleaned it up before putting it on the disc. There's an interesting commentary from the lead animator (which I would probably get more out of if I was an animator or a film student, but I'm neither), a trailer, and a few minor easter eggs on the main menu. I was disappointed to discover that while this film really has more than one ending, whichever one wasn't used was not included as a bonus feature on the disc (I would have appreciated it). Also, I was sorry to see that there were no comments by Sir George Martin or even any of the surviving Beatles (not that I was expecting to hear from Paul or Ringo, as I believe that anything to feature them must come from Apple Records, but surely that isn't the case with Sir Martin!), which I know I would have enjoyed.
I will finish by saying that "The Yellow Submarine" is a tremendously fun thing to watch and listen to. It's definitely worth the money it costs to include with the rest of your dvd collection, and you'll be singing songs and quoting lines you heard from it for a long time after it's over ... but it won't be long before you go back to see it again. It's a lot of fun, bright and colorful and strange, and if you go for it than I know you won't be sorry.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Ninth Gate (Widescreen)
Ninth Gate (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Johnny Depp
Price: CDN$ 8.99
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars In one word, Excellent., May 4 2004
This review is from: Ninth Gate (Widescreen) (DVD)
I love "The Ninth Gate". I have seen it many times since I first rented it back in the summer of 2000, and after buying it about a year or so later I have always made it a point to view it regularly. Director Roman Polanski has given us another masterpiece of horror with some good touches of comedy, all wrapped up in a cloak of atmosphere so thick that you could cut it with a knife. While I am not a die-hard fan of Polanski in the way I am with directors such as Tim Burton, I have seen and enjoyed very much three of his films: "Rosemary's Baby", "The Fearless Vampire Killers", and "Frantic", and have observed elements found in each of those three movies to be definitely present in this one. "The Ninth Gate" obviously has its maker's fingerprints all over it, which is good news for fans of his work.
"The Ninth Gate" works great as a detective story, which is really what it is more a horror film. Johnny Depp, my favorite actor hands down, takes us on a bizarrely fascinating journey through Portugal and France hoping to track down two of the three remaining copies of a book apparantly written by Satan himself during the Middle Ages. Along the way, we watch him being followed and see some suspicious setbacks occur, along with his dealings with his employer, a millionaire Satanist by the name of Boris Balkan.
The good things I have to say about this film: first, the directing is fantastic, atmospheric and spellbinding. You will be totally immersed in the goings-on of this film, in spite of its numerous quiet and thoughtful moments and overall slow-moving nature. The European location work is gorgeous ... we see some beautiful and sinister cities, castles, and countrysides. The movie looks and feels great. Also, a bizarre and interesting choice was made to cast the same man as four different characters, who(m) we meet two at a time, first and then again later, in the same location. Was this supposed to be symbolic or indicate something implicitly to the audience?
Second, the musical score by a fellow named Wojciech Kilar is beautiful; its haunting, subtle, and quiet. It perfectly accents the scenes it plays behind, in no way upstaging the action or even drawing attention to itself. Also, I loved the soloist (a Korean girl, I understand) who sang during the opening and ending credits. I find it appalling that during the trailers advertising this film, they played some awful new-metal-crud in an effort to get all the MTV kids into the theater. As awful as this was, I am very thankful that none of this music found its way into the movie itself ... it would be entirely inappropriate. Kilar's compositions are spot-on perfect, and nothing else should have been used.
Third, I was really taken by the fascinating artwork done for the engravings. They were almost tarot-cardish, and very bizarre. I particularly liked the one of the guy hanging by his foot from a noose (and the way it figured into a later scene after we see it for the first time) and the image of the maze with the castle turrets. The moment when we see the initials "LCF" in tiny letters hidden on particular ones was absolutely chilling.
Fourthly and finally, in spite of the fact that Johnny Depp is my favorite actor, I must say that it was Frank Langella as Boris Balkan who stole this movie away. Balkan is a fascinating character, from his special library (did anyone notice the passcode he entered to unlock its door?) to his attitude toward phony Satanists (his little "Boo!" moment was classic), all the way to his unfortunate end. His dedication to his beliefs could be both inspiring and frightening (check out what he says to Corso, Depp's character, when he tells him that the book has been stolen from his hotel room), and I enjoyed every moment that had him on the screen. Langella's Balkan definitely comes away as this movie's most memorable character. I am now very interested in seeing the version of "Dracula" he did back in the 1970s.
One final thing: I found interesting the director's choice to present Satanism in a more objective light than would normally done in films such as these. I understand that Polanski really has no religious beliefs, so as far as he's concerned one is as good as another. While I do not agree with this, it certainly makes for an interesting and original approach to the subject matter, and really works for this movie's benefit.
Give "The Ninth Gate" a try today. The DVD has some good extras, including a nice commentary with the director, and the film itself has a very high rewatchablity factor. You'll find yourself wanting to put this one into the player again and again as time goes on, and you'll find something new to enjoy about it every time. Go for it! You'll thank me.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Left Behind - the Movie        [Import]
Left Behind - the Movie [Import]
DVD ~ Kirk Cameron
Offered by Great Buy! Canada
Price: CDN$ 24.83
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eggghhh, where to begin?, May 4 2004
I caught "Left Behind" on tv the other night, and somehow sat through the whole thing. I found it amusing later on, when Roman Polanski's "The Ninth Gate", a film about the devil and satanism told from a more objective point of view, turned out to be a far better film as far as style and storytelling went (not that that was news to me: I saw "The Ninth Gate" for the first time four years ago, bought it three years ago, and have watched it regularly since. It just happened to be on the other night, and I was glad to have an opportunity to see it again). In spite of the good intentions of the filmmakers, the movie still does not become watchable.
Bringing to mind memories of watching Steven King's "The Langoliers" on tv around a decade or so ago, the crux of the movie's action is based on an event that we see occur in an airplane, which has also occured everywhere else around the world. Lots and lots of people vanish away, leaving a selected few behind (or is it the other way around as far as selection goes?). The filmmakers at least DID do something right by having the clothes remain when the people were taken (unlike "The Langoliers" ... where only metal objects like wristwatches and braces for teeth inexplicably stayed behind, but that's not enough to merit this film more than a half an extra star). Also, there was more blood than I expected considering the wholesome demographic I know the makers were aiming for, but that isn't really a positive or negative remark so much as a semi-interesting observation.
First off as far as my complaints go, this movie looks cheap. That isn't necesarily a bad thing; I know that great things can be done with a limited budget (my own favorite "Doctor Who" for one), but if they aren't done properly than the thing won't have a chance to even begin doing its job: that is, entertain. "Left Behind" fails at this; it looks amateurish, feels amateurish, and is therefore no fun to watch, like a bad TV movie (which is all it really is, in spite of its theatrical release).
Second, the acting is atrocious. I wasn't convinced by a single character (well, halfway by the Israeli scientist at the beginning, but I've got a fondness for those "elderly wiseman" types of characters), and therefore had no emotion or care invested into who they were or what happened to them. The dialogue they were forced to say was either unconvincingly phony or sitcom-stupid, or at best somewhere in between (say, bland).
Finally, there was the story, besides the characters themselves. Okay, my religious views just don't fall in line with those presented in this movie, so I suppose it is here fair to say that the problem is to a point on my end in this regard. But the thing is, I would have enjoyed seeing some other reactions to the supernatural occurances in the film besides those of complete unbelievers and evangelical Christians, such as Hindus, Muslims, or those of my own faith, Roman Catholics, as they attempted to deal with and understand the problem. Also, the fact stands that the prophesies of the Bible more than likely could have more than one interpretation, or could in fact prophesy events which occured in the future for the writer but in the past for us (The Book of Daniel predicting the coming of Alexander the Great, for example, or Revelation's Antichrist being none other than Nero Caesar). The writers limited their possibilities, and the narrow scope of the movie's story really works against it.
I will finish up by saying that "Left Behind" was a real waste of time for me, and I honestly wish I had now done something else with my free evening. Contrasting it with a really great movie like "The Ninth Gate" really worked against it too. Even if you are an evengelical Christian and buy into this whole Rapture thing, I still wouldn't give this piece of crud my time or money ... I'd just move along and do something, anything else.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Doctor Who: The Ark in Space
Doctor Who: The Ark in Space
DVD ~ Tom Baker
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 17.27
28 used & new from CDN$ 9.05

5.0 out of 5 stars An undisputed classic., April 15 2004
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Ark in Space (DVD)
"The Ark in Space" is an excellent, spellbinding tale from Doctor Who's gothic Hinchcliffe era, set on a spaceship many thousands of years in our future. It's also the first really great story to feature the wonderful Tom Baker in the title role, and is, for me at least, a better introduction to his time on Doctor Who than his own debut story, "Robot".
Thousands of years have passed since the present day, and ecological disasters have forced humanity to go into hibernation. While civilization crumbled and decayed on the surface of our world, out in orbit around it was constructed a safe haven for the slumbering human race. With the selected few meant to carry on the species in suspended animation, they were helpless to do anything when something else decided to make its own nest there too ... The Doctor arrives just as that something is beginning to reawaken, and is about to become a threat to the sleeping humans.
"The Ark in Space" would have been dubbed an "Alien" clone had it come out a few years later: while it was safely produced in 1974, its story has a lot of things in common with the Ridley Scott film. Luckily for this story, "Alien" didn't have the Doctor, but that's not the only reason to watch it now. Sure, this doesn't look as good ... the low budget is obviously apparant in most every scene you'll see here, but rather than make this a bad production it actually has the opposite effect. The production crew have done a splendid job here, constructing a sterile and utterly believeable environment for the story to take place in, from the white, empty corridors of the space station to the sleeping chambers where the humans reside. Apparantly they hadn't had a lot of material to work with, but with what they had they produced some real miracles. It's wonderful to look at. The aliens in this story, the Wirrn, are a wonderful as well... when I first caught a glance at them, I thought they looked terribly cheap, but that feeling went away after I'd really studied them. They're excellently insectoid ... even the transformation of one of the humans into a Wirrn, accomplished with green spray-painted bubble wrap, doesn't look terrible because of the fact that bubble wrap is used: insects seem to be able to create remarkable geometric structures (honeycombs, wasps nests, etc)... the use of bubble wrap, with its tiny, identical circles, is absolutely perfect and is therefore convincing.
I can't believe I've made such a big deal about the production values here, as I didn't really mean to, but they are obviously worth congratulating. But everything else is great here too: the premise of the story (pre-"Alien", I will say again), the excellent new Doctor and his companions, the setting, and the story that follows the Doctor's arrival, told over the course of four mesmerizing episodes ... You can't go wrong with this one. Of all the Tom Baker stories to be selected for a release on DVD, I am glad that this was among the first. The DVD contains a wonderful vintage interview with Tom Baker, by the way, filmed while he was still just settling into the part. Very interesting indeed.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Doctor Who: The Key to Time (The Ribos Operation, The Pirate Planet, The Stones of Blood, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll, and The Armageddon Factor)
Doctor Who: The Key to Time (The Ribos Operation, The Pirate Planet, The Stones of Blood, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll, and The Armageddon Factor)
DVD ~ Tom Baker
Offered by SURPLUSDVD NEW YORK
Price: CDN$ 162.28
9 used & new from CDN$ 93.92

5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to spend ten hours or so ..., April 15 2004
The Key to Time is an excellent series of adventures featuring everyone's favorite Doctor, Tom Baker (though in all truthfulness it's the other Doctor named Baker, Colin, who is my own personal favorite). This boxed set gives us all six adventures in that paricular season, divided out of twenty-six short-ish episodes (laying all the pieces together, end to end, will give you about ten hours of viewing time, not counting special features). This gives us a nice range of stories told in various different styles which means that who(m)ever gets their hands on this will have a nice sampling of the various different kinds of tales Doctor Who is capable of telling, while a common theme pervades throughout each one to unite them.
Through the course of six adventures, the Doctor and his new assistant, Romana (played by the gorgeous Mary Tamm), together with a robotic dog named K-9 (the pun has been completely lost on me, I realize now, after so many years of Who viewing) travel throughout time and the universe in search of six segments to a powerful artifact known as the Key of Time which is capable of providing it's keeper with absolute power over all that exists/has existed/ever will exist. Luckily, in order to use the key of time one has to be powerful enough to be able to put it to use, and out of all that exists there exist only two beings capable of doing this. Unforunately (and inevitably), one of them is pure evil, and if the Key falls into his hands... well, you get the picture.
Of the six, my favorite has to be the first, "The Ribos Operation", set on a Medieval-esque planet that is just on the verge of an astronomic revolution, while contrary to most people's opinions, my second favorite is the fourth, "The Androids of Tara", also set on a Medieval-esque planet but in specific, hidden ways technologically superior to our own time. Going onto a tangent that includes a minor complaint extending not just to these six stories but much of the entire series: a question arises when one considers just how earth-like each of the planets the Doctor visits, as far as flora and fauna and inhabitants go... How can we explain this? Either a tremendous coincidence is at work, or each planet was long ago terraformed or colonized by humans in the distant, distant past. I would have enjoyed at least some small attempt to make the sights and sounds of each less developed planet at least a LITTLE alien (the swamp environment of Power of Kroll was a step in the right direction, but what if the plants were all tinted blue or even purple? Why should the skies always be blue?). Of course, in letting this little factoid bother me I'm stepping away from the point of Doctor Who, which is of course good, imaginative, and exciting stories, all of which are entirely present in each of the stories we're given.
Incidentally, three and a half stories I realize now are excempt from my little complaint, at least only as far as the setting goes: "The Pirate Planet" (penned by "Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" author Douglas Adams) is fine because it's set on a technologically advanced planet quite a few steps ahead of present day earth; "Stones of Blood" is set on modern-day (read, mid-seventies) Earth; and the final tale, the extended epic "The Armageddon Factor", is once again set on a trio of planets with a highly developed technological society. The half comes with "Power of Kroll", as the fact that the humans in the story specifically are descendants of colonists from Earth is stated more than once as the narrative progresses.
Also, a familiar face guest stars as one of the villains in "The Armageddon Factor": the Marshall is played by John Woodvine, who(m) I immediately recognized as the doctor (lower-case "d") from John Landis' classic "An American Werewolf in London", one of my favorite movies. Just cool to see him, nothing really more than that.
The main reason to own these stories is for the stories themselves... extras aren't such a big deal to me, but we're still given a few, which I appreciate. Each story has a commentary track (with Tom Baker on three of them), plus a few actor bios and behind the scenes photographs. Good enough for me. I would like to mention the covers on each DVD case... my gosh but they're awful! Compare any of the covers from the Key of Time series with other DVDs from BBC's Doctor Who line... they could have done a lot better if they'd tried. But as it's what's inside that counts, that won't go against my perfect five-star rating.
All in all, "The Key of Time" is an excellent smorgasbord of Doctor Who adventures, with something unique to turn to for every day of the week. You'll get some great humor, some interesting ideas, and some lovely acting, and you will have a lot of fun in the process. Buy it today! (and thank you for reading these random, disorganized thoughts)
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Sea of Light
Sea of Light
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 52.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 47.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The resurrection of Classic Heep, March 4 2004
This review is from: Sea of Light (Audio CD)
In 1994, Uriah Heep experienced a beautiful transformation back into the band they used to be in "Demons and Wizards" days (1972), a return haralded perfectly by the fact that the cover was painted by the same artist who did Demons and Wizards' cover, Roger Dean. Honestly, SoL's is probably my second favorite Uriah Heep cover of all time (perhaps after the "gallery of statues" we see on "Wonderworld", which I just love), so the album is already off to a magnificent start before you've even put the disc into the player. Ten years after the release of SoL, the band still shows no sign of slipping in terms of the quality of their music... I for one am anxiously anticipating their next new album, which word has it will be out this summer (possibly in June).
SoL starts off with a loud and true rocker (making a great first impression for any newby you might happen to loan it to, if the thought of listening to music from the seventies immediately causes them to twitch), the excellent "Against the Odds". Love it... it starts off with an ethereal, quiet, synth introduction, immediately bringing to mind the idea of sunshine... or if you want, given the title of the album, a luminous ocean somehow emanating forth light from its waves... giving the listener a feeling of peaceful serenity that lasts only a few seconds before being broken (though not unwelcomely) by a fast and thunderous guitar solo by the one and only Mick Box. The song that follows from that is just great... awesome lyrics sung by the beautifully-voiced Bernie Shaw ("in the court of kings, I look around; My blood runs cold, I close my eyes"), great, only-Uriah Heep-could-do-this backing vocals, wonderful organ playing courtesy of Phil Lanzon... awesome stuff. I honestly can't think of a better way to begin an album.
Though the first two albums from this current line-up of Uriah Heep had their moments but were still, in my humble opinion, no masterpieces, that's no longer the case starting with SoL... Eleven more songs of the same quality come after "Against the Odds", in a nice variety of styles and moods. We get more rockers (my favorite of which is Trevor Bolder's fast and furious "Fear of Falling"), ballads (like the all-acoustic "Dream On" which closes the album), rocker/ballads (the beautiful "Spirit of Freedom", the opening of which always makes me imagine a mountain trying to fly and succeeding), and even some symphonic/progressive rock (the undefinable "Love in Silence", fascinatingly enhanced by an orchestra).
The well never seems to run dry... each track has something about it that can be looked forward to, and the musicianship is excellent in every respect. I was particularly happy to note that keyboardist Phil Lanzon at last discovered that true Uriah Heep music relies not on synthesizers (as it unfortunately did heavily in the eighties, with the three albums featuring keyboardest John Sinclair and the two albums before this one that Lanzon played on), but on piano and organ, primarily. Yes, there is synth to be heard (as I noted in my description of the first track), but it's sparingly and only effectively used and in no way distracting (check out the piano solo on "Mistress of All Time"!). It lends a sort of timelessness to the music that makes it impossible to date... that sort of fantasy, fairy-tale quality that Heep hasn't, with a few exceptions (like the excellent "Night of the Wolf" track from 1985's "Equator", which was organ organ left and right) given us since the Demons/Wizards/Magicians days of the early seventies.
The glory days of Uriah Heep have returned. Anyone who used to be a fan but then lost them once the eighties rolled around, as well as anyone who's never even heard Uriah Heep before listen to me: SoL is a great way to discover/re-discover one of the greatest bands of all time, and I certainly hope you will give it a try. You'll have a lot of fun, experience some great feelings, and by the time it's over you'll feel as though you just sailed around the world.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

Sonic Origami
Sonic Origami
Price: CDN$ 16.17
18 used & new from CDN$ 9.93

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars continuing the tradition of its predecessor..., March 2 2004
This review is from: Sonic Origami (Audio CD)
In 1994 Uriah Heep roared back to life with their first truly great album in arguably 17 years ... and many would say longer still, but for me, 1977's "Firefly", not 1973's "Sweet Freedom", was the last truly great Uriah Heep album. In spite of the fact that in an earlier review here at Amazon I gave 1980's "Conquest" five stars, it wasn't "great" in the way that Heep's material from the time of the classic lineup and their first release with John Lawton were... Conquest is purely, 100 per cent enjoyable, hence the five star rating, but fails to capture my imagination in the way the other albums I've mentioned do. But I digress already, not even having started! 1998's "Sonic Origami", the album I'm **supposed** to be writing about here today, continues the tradition set by the album that came before it, presenting us with still more great music that's every bit as enjoyable as the material we heard on the previous album.
Uriah Heep had a hard time throughout the eighties... with a constantly shifting lineup and a difficult time finding a record company that would actually promote them, they vanished away into obscurity for most of the music-listening public, who promptly forgot about them altogether, and to this day remain a very obsure band, listened to only by those who know about them already and are willing to seek them out (fans like me have, therefore, a responsiblity to spread their message to the "ends of the earth", forgive the pretention). This is a tragedy, because it means that a majority of the fans of music today have no awareness at all not just of Uriah Heep, but of the extremely high quality their most recent material has been. Even with the current lineup, formed in 1987 (I think) and stable ever since, started off with a pair of pretty-good-but-still-not-great albums... something happened between the years of 1991 and 1994 that revitalized their creativity, which anyone who hears either this album or 1994's "Sea of Light" will immediately become aware of.
"Sonic Origami" is a nice blend of hard rockers and gentle acoustic tunes (with a dash of symphony, believe it or not), mixed perfectly together without ever growing tiresome. It always has something to offer you, no matter how many times you've heard it or how well you know it. There is some really beautiful music here, and every time I listen to it, even the songs I wouldn't consider favorites are looked forward to once they've begun and are recognized by me. Everything that makes Classic Heep is there... the distinctive harmony vocals (they were doing the choir thing before Queen), Mick Box's wah-wah guitar, thought-provocing lyrics, and excellent musicianship all around. It's a little more laid-back than it's predecessor, so I might say that it compliments "Sea of Light" in the same way that "The Magician's Birthday" follows up it's own predecessor, 1972's "Demons and Wizards" (which will forever be my favorite Uriah Heep album).
"Sonic Origami" roars into a great beginning with a tribute to past band members David Byron and Gary Thain, members of the classic lineup who have both sadly passed away, and takes us from there on a lengthy journey through an endless variety of ideas, sounds, and feelings. There is one cover song (seeing a cover song on an album from a favorite band always disappoints me at first... no matter how good the song is or who the band is, it's just my initial reaction), "Across the Miles", a beautiful song about distance separating two lovers, which I can immediately relate to, and it's so well done that I forgot to be bothered by the fact that it wasn't **really** theirs. Plus, to compensate for the cover, an extra unlisted original bonus track is included so we can still honestly say the album gives us 13 brand-new Uriah Heep songs.
Rather than go into a song-by-song review, which would take a lot of time I don't have and waste precious space here on the Amazon server (aren't I nice to them?), I'll just leave it at that. There's not a bad or unoriginal song to be listened to here (with the one exception, and it succeeds in being wonderful anyway). Buy it today, and heed this word of advice... to fully appreciate the majestic masterpiece that finishes the album (the bonus track is a nice epilogue or extra), the symphonic "Golden Palace" listen to it in your car while driving through a snowy countryside in February, under an overcast sky. It's beautiful.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

In the Mouth of Madness (Widescreen/Full Screen)
In the Mouth of Madness (Widescreen/Full Screen)
DVD ~ Sam Neill
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 95.04
9 used & new from CDN$ 17.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Do you read Sutter Kane?, Feb. 19 2004
What if you were fiction? Inspired by the writings of the Edgar Allen Poe of the Twentieth Century, H. P. Lovecraft, "In the Mouth of Madness" is a film so loaded with strange occurances, bizarre sights, and intruiging ideas that it's inevitable that most of them will be wasted/barely acknowledged/quickly forgotten as the plot demands to be followed and the story progresses from beginning to end. There's just so much going on in the brief hour and a half we're given to watch ... I would love to explore the locations of the town of Hobs End in more detail, observe its people, their pets, the shops, watch old movies of the townspeople constructing the church (why would a colonial American town even have a Byzantine Orthodox Church in the first place?) and most of all check out the creatures lurking in the shadows/behind everyone's backs (literally, sometimes)! But alas, we are not given a chance to do much of that... we're allowed by Mr. Carpenter only a taste if the feast and are then forced by him to turn our concerns to other matters (there is a story to be followed, after all).
Sam Neil is an insurance agent that specializes in high-profile clients, who is sent to investigate the disappearance of horror writer Sutter Kane. He finds himself in the fictional town of Hobbs End, a place which up until that point only existed in Mr. Kane's novels, which seems to serve as the boundary between what is real and what is imaginary ... a boundary that is steadily growing weaker, as Kane's readership increases.
In the Mouth of Madness asks some interesting questions, presents some fascinating ideas, and treats us with some fabulous visuals. It's got every horrible thing you can imagine, from creepy little girls to a crazy mob of gun-toting small-towners to a homicidal grandma to pictures that change (uncomfortably) behind your back to sickening contortions to mental institutions to much much much much more. If you can imagine it, it's here. It's not pretty, but it's fascinating nonetheless. In the Mouth of Madness is one of my all-time favorite films, one I never get tired of watching or thinking about. Check it out, and pick up a volume of Lovecraft's short stories while you're at it (especially one featuring the first Lovecraft story I ever read, "The Dunwich Horror"). After mentally injesting both, you'll be sleeping with the lights on for a week, but it will have been worth it.
Carry on Carry on,
MN

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