Archive for the 'DVD' Category

The Ultimate Home Cinema PC

I’m starting a new project for DVDTimes - I am going to build ‘The Ultimate Home Cinema PC’ using top of the range components and will take you through all of the steps needed to build a system capable of running anything you wish to throw at it. There will be no limitations on format - DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD will all be compatible and regions won’t be a restriction.

I’ll cover the hardware, software and configuration of the system and to top it all, the finished PC will be given away in a competition on DVD Times. The total retail cost is expected to be nearly ¬£1,000.

In the run up to the article I will also update my

FilmJournal with my progress. This is an exciting project, both in terms of scope and the ability to play all formats and I hope you all find it useful.


The First Component

The first component is here - the stunning Shuttle SG33G5M. This gorgeous piece of hardware specifically designed for media centre use - it comes with every connection you need, supports all of the hardware and software we will be using and even ships with a remote control.

Posted on 8th May 2008
Under: General, DVD, Hardware, HD DVD, Blu-Ray | 7 Comments »

The Constant Gardener

Another quick review here for a film that has sat on my shelf for over a year!

Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a British Diplomat working in Africa until the death of his wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), leads him into a conspiracy involving illegal drug trials which both high ranking diplomats and the drug companies themselves will kill to keep their activities secret.

The Constant Gardener is a reasonably good film based on a John le Carr√© story, which attempts to cover a serious subject whilst keeping the viewer engaged. The mildly non-linear narrative jars at first but once the main storyline kicks off this becomes unimportant. Fiennes and Weisz both give excellent performances, and the rest of the cast also perform as you’d expect given the praise the film has garnered.


Posted on 19th January 2007
Under: DVD | No Comments »

Pirates of the Carribean - Dead Man’s Chest

Oh dear. How far off the mark can Gore Verbinski be with his follow-up to his surprise hit, Pirates of the Carribean. While the first film was a well paced and well judged piece of entertainment, this time we have an over-long series of set pieces with minimal storyline. It’s too intense to be enjoyable and too fast to follow with any ease.

In addition, the characters become even more 2D (if that was possible?!) and their relationships from the first film may as well start from scratch. The only light in the film was Bill Nighy’s portrayal of Davy Jones, but even this can’t lift the film out of mediocrity. Coupled with so-so effects (which frequently suffer from the Star Wars-esque cartoony look) means POTC2 is a massive missfire.

It also seems that any successful film now seems to demand a mammoth two-part sequel that forces the audience to pay up twice to see the full story. Occasionally this works (Kill Bill), but more often than not it’s a massive waste of fimgoer’s money and time (POTC2, The Matrix sequels etc). Also, it’s usually a sign of a bad editor or director who can’t put together a tight story with a decent run-time - and given the plot of POTC2, there wasn’t enough story for one film let alone two.


Posted on 30th December 2006
Under: DVD, Fantasy | No Comments »

Best boxset ever?

critterbox.jpgHow cool is this? It’s a Critters 1-4 boxset housed within a Critter!

Unfortunately, it only appears to be available in Hungary and I can’t work out from the website whether the DVDs have English language options.

However, it does encourage me to start a campaign to get the rights holders (Warner?) to bring this stunning series of films(!) and boxset to the UK in time for Christmas. I mean who wouldn’t want their 4 year old to wake up with a Critter staring out of their Christmas stocking first thing in the morning?

Who is with me?

Posted on 14th August 2006
Under: DVD, Science Fiction | No Comments »

Favourite Films: No. 20: Almost Famous

almostfamous.jpgCameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film is amusing and touching in equal measure. It is very much a coming of age tale telling the story of an aspiring rock journalist, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), as he goes on the road with the band Stillwater to write an article for Rolling Stone magazine. Fugit’s central performance carries the film but with supporting turns by Frances McDormand, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee and Billy Crudup all putting in a decent effort.

As Miller travels around the US on the Stillwater tour bus he becomes expose to the excesses of the music world - the groupies, the drugs and the band arguements all combine to force Miller to break free of his mother’s (McDormand) grasp and make his own way in life.

As a director, Crowe, has yet to better Almost Famous with his following films, Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown recieving mixed critical and fan reaction. Here, he guides the story with a steady hand and the obviously more personal story gives us less flashy, but very successful results. The superb soundtrack also helps to set the film against the perfect backdrop.

Almost Famous is a heartwarming tale that brings genuine humour to the fore whilst offering plenty to bolster the coming of age genre and comes highly recommended.

Posted on 25th July 2006
Under: DVD, Music, Favourite Films | No Comments »

Underworld / Underworld Evolution

underworld-evolution1.jpgI managed to catch up with Underworld’s recent sequel, Underworld Evolution, this weekend. While the first film has a decent plot and good action, I was a little disappointed with it’s follow-up. The film starts where the last film left us - the Vampire elder, Markus is awaken by the blood of a Lycan and sets about tracking down Celine and her Lycan partner Michael.

Stylistically, both films are a winner. The CGI in the sequel was significantly better and the decision to continue the story of the first film worked well. However, while Underworld works as a decent standalone piece with a beginning, middle and end (plus the cliff-hanger that leads into Evolution), Evolution doesn’t. It’s is very much a continuation and instantly alienates anyone who hadn’t watched the first film with little exposition. I watched both films back-to-back and even then I was still confused as to what was going on for the first 45 minutes.

Kate Beckinsale was good, although Scott Speedman struggles in a lead role. Len Wiseman’s direction seems to have taken a step down since the first outing, opting for more quick cuts rather than decent choreographed action scenes.

The first film gets 7/10, the second gets either 5/10 if you’ve seen the first or 3/10 if you haven’t.

Posted on 17th July 2006
Under: DVD, Action | No Comments »

Films I still want on DVD: Part 1 - Flight of Dragons

Did anyone else see this animated film from the eighties? The best I’ve found is an NTSC VHS release, but given I don’t have a VHS player I don’t think it’s worth picking up!

I have no doubt that nostalgia is getting the better of me with Flight of Dragons, but I’d really like to pick up a decent DVD release of this even if it’s just to satisfy my urge to revisit the films of my childhood. Much in the same way I’d kill to get an English language DVD release of The Mysterious Cities of Gold or a widescreen DVD of Le Maitres du Temp.

Come on Warner, it may not be a classic, but even so I’m sure those of us that grew up in the 1980’s would love to pick this one up for old-time’s sake.

Posted on 14th July 2006
Under: Animation, DVD | 1 Comment »

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