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Reviews Written by
Laurence R. Hunt "Laurence Hunt" (Kenora, Ontario, Canada)
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Vikings: Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Vikings: Season 2 [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Travis Fimmel
Price: CDN$ 38.59
13 used & new from CDN$ 27.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Missing almost every desirable feature, including subtitles: This inferior Canadian version should be taken off the market!, Feb. 23 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This inferior Canadian edition of a superlative series is without subtitles, extended episodes, alternate tracks, high quality sound, and possibly other features. As a person with moderate hearing loss, I depend on the subtitles, and I challenge anyone to catch every word in the heat of action without them. Given that the US edition is fully-featured, and that this is a Canadian production, there is no excuse. I was also too late to return this shoddy product. For shame on Phase Four Productions for churning out this piece of sheer junk. And I challenge Amazon.ca to obtain the superior American product. It is more disappointing because I love the series so much! DO NOT BUY THIS. Amazon.com will ship the high quality US version to Canada for a $10 premium, from a lower base price. It's worth it, based on quality alone.

Miss Meadows [Import]
Miss Meadows [Import]
Price: CDN$ 24.83
22 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A morality play dressed as satire, Feb. 6 2015
This review is from: Miss Meadows [Import] (DVD)
This is a morality play, lightly presented. There are comedic elements, but it is hardly a comedy. Katie Holmes is indeed brilliant as the (almost) entirely perfectionistic Miss (not Ms.) Meadows. While the film is easy to watch, it does force the viewer to give thought to its overarching theme, which is that citizens must take action to preserve community safety (this is not a film that revels in violence, though violence is used to set the stage and to drive the primary theme).

The film is also a particular treat for that small minority of us who care about the proper (if not overly exacting) usage of the English language.

While this may be a minority concern, the film lacks subtitles, and I found several of the characters to mumble to the point that I couldn't make out what was being said, even at high volume. There are several child characters, and I had to interpret their communication through their actions and facial expressions, as their words were wholly unintelligible to me. Hopefully in future editions, subtitles will be added.

Carnivale: The Complete Seasons 1-2 [Import]
Carnivale: The Complete Seasons 1-2 [Import]
Price: CDN$ 55.18
23 used & new from CDN$ 40.00

5.0 out of 5 stars It is always the best of the best that are cancelled, Jan. 10 2015
There is ample evidence that we are presently inhabiting a golden age of television production. I have just completed episode 12, season 2 of Carnivàle. Clearly, the series is only establishing itself at this point. The primary quality metrics I employ are (1) how much do I think about the program when I'm not watching it? (2) How high has it moved up on my list of free-time priorities? and (3) How much do I care about the characters and how events develop? On these three metrics, Carnivàle ranks as (1) a constant daily companion in my thoughts; (2) the most important thing I do in my free time; and (3) introducing me to characters I am only starting to know, want to stay with much longer, and get to know much, much better. May I add that something magical must have happened at this program’s auditions? Every character/actor match was inspired. I know that the characterization “unique” has frequently been applied to this series, and it is an appropriate choice. I can think of no other program that has (1) captured and developed the era of the dustbowl; (2) delved into the world of an itinerant, socially marginal subculture and brought it to life; (3) developed a unique (allegorical) mythology that says something authentic about our actual nature as humans; (4) left me thinking long afterwards about the themes explored by each episode; (5) so gloriously revelled in the magic and mystery of human differences and uniqueness; and, perhaps above all, (6) inspired me with regards to the importance and possibly lasting significance of the moral and spiritual struggles of daily life. If I were to fall into a small fortune tomorrow, I would consider using it to develop Carnivàle’s seasons 3-6, as had originally been planned for this series. Bring it back? Carnivàle still lives. Somewhere out there, it is real, even now. I’d sure like to bring it back to the screen.

Carnivale: The Complete Second Season
Carnivale: The Complete Second Season
DVD ~ Nick Stahl
Price: CDN$ 15.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It is always the best of the best that are cancelled, Jan. 10 2015
There is ample evidence that we are presently inhabiting a golden age of television production. I have just completed episode 12, season 2 of Carnivàle. Clearly, the series is only establishing itself at this point. The primary quality metrics I employ are (1) how much do I think about the program when I'm not watching it? (2) How high has it moved up on my list of free-time priorities? and (3) How much do I care about the characters and how events develop? On these three metrics, Carnivàle ranks as (1) a constant daily companion in my thoughts; (2) the most important thing I do in my free time; and (3) introducing me to characters I am only starting to know, want to stay with much longer, and get to know much, much better. May I add that something magical must have happened at this program’s auditions? Every character/actor match was inspired. I know that the characterization “unique” has frequently been applied to this series, and it is an appropriate choice. I can think of no other program that has (1) captured and developed the era of the dustbowl; (2) delved into the world of an itinerant, socially marginal subculture and brought it to life; (3) developed a unique (allegorical) mythology that says something authentic about our actual nature as humans; (4) left me thinking long afterwards about the themes explored by each episode; (5) so gloriously revelled in the magic and mystery of human differences and uniqueness; and, perhaps above all, (6) inspired me with regards to the importance and possibly lasting significance of the moral and spiritual struggles of daily life. If I were to fall into a small fortune tomorrow, I would consider using it to develop Carnivàle’s seasons 3-6, as had originally been planned for this series. Bring it back? Carnivàle still lives. Somewhere out there, it is real, even now. I’d sure like to bring it back to the screen.

Carnivale: The Complete First Season
Carnivale: The Complete First Season
DVD ~ Nick Stahl
Price: CDN$ 16.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 7.75

5.0 out of 5 stars It is always the best of the best that are cancelled, Jan. 10 2015
There is ample evidence that we are presently inhabiting a golden age of television production. I have just completed episode 12, season 2 of Carnivàle. Clearly, the series is only establishing itself at this point. The primary quality metrics I employ are (1) how much do I think about the program when I'm not watching it? (2) How high has it moved up on my list of free-time priorities? and (3) How much do I care about the characters and how events develop? On these three metrics, Carnivàle ranks as (1) a constant daily companion in my thoughts; (2) the most important thing I do in my free time; and (3) introducing me to characters I am only starting to know, want to stay with much longer, and get to know much, much better. May I add that something magical must have happened at this program’s auditions? Every character/actor match was inspired. I know that the characterization “unique” has frequently been applied to this series, and it is an appropriate choice. I can think of no other program that has (1) captured and developed the era of the dustbowl; (2) delved into the world of an itinerant, socially marginal subculture and brought it to life; (3) developed a unique (allegorical) mythology that says something authentic about our actual nature as humans; (4) left me thinking long afterwards about the themes explored by each episode; (5) so gloriously revelled in the magic and mystery of human differences and uniqueness; and, perhaps above all, (6) inspired me with regards to the importance and possibly lasting significance of the moral and spiritual struggles of daily life. If I were to fall into a small fortune tomorrow, I would consider using it to develop Carnivàle’s seasons 3-6, as had originally been planned for this series. Bring it back? Carnivàle still lives. Somewhere out there, it is real, even now. I’d sure like to bring it back to the screen.

The 100: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
The 100: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 32.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 32.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A relatively strong entry in the teen/young adult genre, with more science fiction themes than most, Oct. 26 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a teen/young adult show that is in competition with franchises such as Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent. For those who like science fiction, it is much more science fiction-based than the others. The space station is incredible, a real advancement in CGI and physical set. That being said, the action takes place primarily on a post-apocalyptic earth, and the storylines are built primarily around teen/young adult themes -- varying in maturity level. The protagonist and her family are really great, and there are several strong characters. Quite a few of the foundations and premises of the show are questionable, though obviously you can take them or leave them. In summary, I will call it "best in class," but it's for the younger ones in the family. It's not really an adult show.

Continuum: Season Two [Blu-ray] [Import]
Continuum: Season Two [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 56.62
20 used & new from CDN$ 38.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Continuum creates an imaginary world that draws us in and makes us want to stay, Oct. 25 2014
It has already been said that the Continuum story is improving, and I agree. By season two, it has become much more than a "time travel/police procedural" series. The reflections on developing technologies and where they might go are particularly interesting. Every episode starts with a scene of future Vancouver, and these are particularly well done -- I would rate these among the best I have seen in the development of possible futures! The characters are varied and multi-dimensional, though perhaps not all of them deeply so. A lot of thought has gone into how evolving technologies might influence human behaviour and culture. As is so often the case in film and television, the effort to delve into political topics is amateurish by contrast, though the basic idea that a combined anti-business/anti-technology movement might influence how the future unfolds is a good one, and obviously woven from current and quite realistic threads. Bottom line: I found myself easily suspending disbelief, and liking both worlds depicted (present and future), to the point that these were places I felt I would really like to be, if only to develop greater understanding and to capture the feel of what these worlds might be like. Simon Barry is a fairly junior creator, who has done limited previous work. If this is what he's capable of, I think his future lies ahead of him, and it's going to be a necessary one to follow. My understanding is that this is not a big budget show, though it hardly feels cheap. In balance, I view this series as an advance in the production of television science fiction, one of the best on now, and one that will stand among the best as time passes.

Heatstroke [Import]
Heatstroke [Import]
Price: CDN$ 20.07
22 used & new from CDN$ 11.53

3.0 out of 5 stars An uneven effort that succeeds at some levels - the deep faults are surprisingly ignorable, Oct. 25 2014
This review is from: Heatstroke [Import] (DVD)
OK. Let's start with the weaknesses. Formulaic plot. Jarring gaps in narrative. Stereotyped bad guys. Dumb behaviour causing the thematic problem. Now that that's out of the way, the scenery is fascinating, and the two female leads are absolutely fine in carrying out their roles. This is a part of the world we rarely see in film, and the settings are edifying. Also, the scientific material on hyenas is very interesting, and the development of a theme around their behaviour is pretty clever. This is a deeply flawed movie, but I didn't find it that hard to watch, and my memories of having seen it are mostly positive.

Snowpiercer / Snowpiercer, le transperceneige (Blu-ray) (Bilingual)
Snowpiercer / Snowpiercer, le transperceneige (Blu-ray) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Chris Evans
Price: CDN$ 15.00
10 used & new from CDN$ 14.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allegory presented as science fiction... and succeeding, Oct. 24 2014
Snowpiercer is clearly brilliant, though also weird, and fascinatingly and effectively international, which is a very nice twist. I'm pretty sure it's meant as an allegory of the class system and the corresponding obstacles to mobility between classes (as represented all too transparently by sections of the train). It's also meant to have the feel of a graphic novel, and it easily pulls that off... you could think of many scenes also as "panels." Now, you might ask, what does a train that never stops moving have to do with the environmental apocalypse? Well, it's a thin line of reasoning, but the idea is that the train was set up by a visionary as a self-contained, sustainable ecosystem, and... he just happened also to like trains that travel all the way around the world once a year (without track maintenance staff?). Yeah. You can ONLY read it as an allegory. But the acting and character development is outstanding, as are the visuals, the pacing, etc. It's also nice to see the work by a Korean director with quite a few Korean actors. And while Snowpiercer's analysis of the class system is spotty at best (Marx for kindergartners, maybe?), the allegorical emphasis on obstacles to mobility is worth giving further thought to. Finally, there is an ending worthy of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which is in fact an allegory in the same vein (no, I'm not kidding!). So, should you see it? Well, if it sounds interesting, based on what I just wrote, then yeah, go ahead! It's easily one of the most interesting science fiction ideas out there right now, and it escapes the narrow formulas that ensnare the majority of cinematic efforts at science fiction (film has not done well by science fiction, in balance, in fact, television has done much, much better). Is this one of the best science fiction films of recent years? Absolutely.

I'll Follow You Down [Blu-ray] [Import]
I'll Follow You Down [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 33.74
20 used & new from CDN$ 20.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is a stage play more than a film!, Oct. 24 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'll Follow You Down is NOT a typical scifi-suspense-thriller. There are no automatic weapons or time cops. There is no high-tech research centre. There is in fact no "action" as delivered by most cinema these days, and only minimal, situationally necessary violence. The film is presented and paced like a stage play. The first hour (or more) is used to set the stage for the decisive events that occur in the final act, if you will. It is certainly slow-paced and "talkie," and calls the viewer back to another, earlier era in film-making. Honestly, the acting is not gripping, the characters aren't deeply developed, and suspension of disbelief in the technological ideas is difficult, if not impossible. Nonetheless, there is a level at which this modestly-budgeted made-in-Canada effort does succeed. That is, I found myself truly caring how everything would play out for the characters, and for how they would resolve their struggles with their dilemmas... which were mostly further losses following (minor spoiler) a father's disappearance early on. The themes were universal enough to be engaging. I'd say that the majority of the issues addressed were unstated, and the film's resolution of most of them was equivocal at best. The time travel theme has been much better developed elsewhere, yet, this film still had something, perhaps unique, to say. Finally, the "disappeared" father must face a stark dilemma, and the final minutes of the film deliver the moral of the story, which, if simplistic, did not ring false, at least in "this timeline." In terms of contemporary productions, an effort like Continuum develops a far more sophisticated and complex vision of time travel --- one that makes you stretch, and stretch again. This film doesn't do that at all, nor does it attempt to. The idea of time travel is really secondary to the primary and overriding moral theme. But... please allow me to conclude it like this: Had this been a stage production, it would in fact have worked --- and that is not easy to say for most ideas developed in science fiction film. This is a slow boiler for a quiet and contemplative evening, and not much at all like most other science fiction movies.

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