Be good, and the rewards will come.

Hey there folks. This is mainly for the younger readers so pay attention. Coming soon on DVD and VOD is Justin and the Knights of Valour. This animated movie has voice talent from the likes of Freddie Highmore and Antonio Banderas. Below is a link to a downloadable activity pack that has games and challenges that kids can do with their parents. It also has a rewards chart that kids can use to keep track of any rewards they get for doing their chores. Enjoy!

http://www.funkidslive.com/blog/free-justin-and-the-knights-of-valour-activity-pack/

JM

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A Touch of Sin (trailer)

Coming from Arrow Films on 16th May, A Touch of Sin from director Jia Zhang-Ke.

(From the press release)

Having been nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and going on to win Best Screenplay, A Touch of Sin was inspired by four shocking (and true) events. Written and directed by master Jia Zhangke (The World, Still Life), a man widely regarded as “one of the best and most important directors in the world” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker), this reflection on capitalist China focuses on four people, living in four different provinces, who are driven to violent ends.

An angry miner, enraged by the corruption of his village, decides to take justice into his own hands. A rootless migrant discovers the infinite possibilities of owning a firearm; a receptionist working at a local sauna is pushed to the limit by a wealthy client; and a young factory worker goes from one discouraging job to the next, only to face increasingly degrading circumstances.

Check out the trailer below

JM

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Harold Ramis 1944 – 2014

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I am absolutely gutted to be writing this. News emerged today that much loved actor, writer and director Harold Ramis sadly passed away. He was 69 yrs old and had been fighting illness for the past few years. He died from complications resulting from auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis, which is an inflammation of the blood vessels. Harold Ramis was a massive part of my youth, as I am sure he was for many people. He is of course probably best known for playing Egon Spengler in the Ghostbusters movies, but he was also a brilliant writer and director responsible for films like Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Multiplicity. He will be greatly missed by all and my thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time.

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JM

Nothing Left to Fear (2013)

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When Dan (James Tupper) is asked to become the new pastor of a small town, he hauls his family half way across the country to take on his new role. Together with his wife Wendy (Anne Heche), two daughters Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone) and their son Christopher (Carter Cabassa) they arrive in their new home town to start a new life. There they are welcomed by the retiring Pastor Kingsman (Clancy Brown), who is helping them move into their new house and settle in.

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However all is not as it appears. The town and the people seem almost too perfect. When Rebecca begins to have terrifying visions, she begins to think something sinister is lurking in the town. Slowly the real reason Pastor Dan and his family have been brought to town is revealed, and nobody is safe.

NOTHING TO FEAR / Director Anthony Leonardi

What first drew me to this film was the fact that it was produced by Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses. That in itself was reason enough for me to get this film and give it a whirl. And for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. Yes it takes a little while to gather steam, but once it does get going you are left with a solidly entertaining chiller. That being said Anne Heche is completely wasted in her role. Yes it’s been a while since I’ve seen her in anything but I always thought she was a good actress and her talent goes untapped here.

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Clancy Brown is always watchable in whatever he’s in. Here as Pastor Kingsman he plays the role with restraint, but with flecks of menace bubbling below the surface. The story is very bleak and it stays that way till the denouement. I think you’ll find yourself very surprised at what this film has to offer. If this is Slash’s first attempt at producing a horror movie, then I for one am very intrigued to see what he comes up with next. This film was provided by the kind folks over at http://www.fetch.fm. It is available to buy now from all good stockists.

3/5

JM

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A Chorus Line (1985)

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Zach (Michael Douglas) is auditioning dancers for a new show he is putting on. A multitude of dancers show up for the audition, but only 8 will make the cut. As the numbers of dancers are whittled down, we begin to learn more about them. We learn about the hardships they face in their daily lives, and how quick you can be cast aside in the world of dancing.

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What first drew me to this movie was the fact that it had the late Tony Fields in it as Al DeLuca. Tony played Sammi Curr in another of my favourite movies, Trick or Treat (1986).  Tony was a brilliant professional dancer, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Zach and his number 2 Larry (Terrence Mann), slowly cut the numbers down to a line of dancers before choosing the 8 that will be in the show. Zach goes through each of the dancers and asks them about their lives. He asks them about their childhoods, their likes and dislikes and why they want to be in the show. As the dancers divulge their personal lives, we begin to see how hard it can be being a dancer and trying to navigate your way through life to find your own identity as a person.

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The whole movie is set in the theatre at the audition. Along side the stories of the dancers, we have the story of Cassie (Alyson Reed). Cassie used to be romantically involved with Zach, and has returned to audition in the show. At first Zach is reluctant, as he believes Cassie to be too talented to be in a chorus line. However he eventually relents and lets her participate. It all leads to a wonderful musical number to end proceedings with a bang.

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I have to say I am normally very hesitant to watch musicals. I just find it hard to get into them. However I did enjoy this. There are some cracking musical numbers, and jaw dropping dance moves. Everyone gives it their all and you can see they are enjoying themselves. Also any film that has a song called ‘Tits & Ass’ in it has got to be worth a watch.

3/5

JM

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From Beyond (1986)

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Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) are researching the effect that a resonator has on the pineal gland. They believe that stimulating the gland lets people see a reality beyond our own that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Crawford activates the resonator and begins to see strange creatures floating around him. When he is bitten by one of these creatures, he tells Dr. Pretorius to turn the machine off. Dr. Pretorius refuses, telling Crawford that it’s giving him a feeling like no other.

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Crawford flees the laboratory and is stopped by the police. When the police find Dr. Pretorius dead, they charge Crawford with his murder. Crawford is committed to a mental asylum where he is then interviewed by Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton). Crawford tells Dr. McMichaels about what happened in the laboratory. Together with a detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree), the three go back to the laboratory to find out what really happened to Dr. Pretorius.

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Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), and based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, this is one crazy film. It is packed to the rafters of gory and gloopy practical effects. The script and acting are a tad wobbly at times, but it adds to the overall charm and ‘B-Movie’ feel to the film. Jeffrey Combs is always good value for money. He always delivers a solid performance, no matter what the overall film is like. Ted Sorel plays the part of the perverse Dr. Pretorius brilliantly. His transformation into the hideous monster is great, and he delivers his lines with relish. I like Barbara Crampton, but she feels wasted here. She is mostly just a damsel in distress, but she reacts in some strange ways throughout the movie, even getting dressed up in bondage gear during one strange scene.

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I have never read the short story that the film is based on, so how faithful it is I couldn’t really say. But as it’s Stuart Gordon and he directed another Lovecraft tale in ‘Re-Animator’ , you know it’s a pretty safe bet for some gratuitous violence and an overall tongue in cheek tone. I really enjoy this movie, however it’s not for the squeamish, so if guts and gore aren’t your bag then steer clear. For the rest of you gorehounds, dig in and enjoy.

4/5

JM

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Hot Toys ‘Evil Superman’ from Superman III.

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Ok before I start, please excuse the carpet in some of the pictures. I was so excited to hold this magnificent piece that I just opened that bad boy out on the living room floor and started snapping away. This is just a stunningly detailed figure. Folks who know toys and collectibles, know that Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles are the absolute mac daddies when it comes to these items. Both companies employ sculpture artists of the highest order. Because they expect the best from their artists, they deliver the best to their customers.

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I was debating whether to go with a video review or pictures and text. I decided with the latter because firstly you don’t wanna hear me mumble through describing the awesomeness of this toy as it’s plain to see. Secondly my strengths lie in writing and hopefully taking pictures which compliment the toy itself.

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The toy comes in a massive box. First you have a lovely plastic sleeve which slips off the box. The box as a magnetised flap at the front which lets you look at this beauty behind plastic, should you decide to leave it in it’s box. Personally I couldn’t deny myself the pleasure of holding this in my hands. The stand it comes with is amazingly sturdy. It’s done as crushed concrete which is almost something you’d expect to accompany an Iron Man toy. It’s all done with incredible detail however. There’s even a nice little silver sign at the front of it which tells you it’s Superman.

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You get a plastic pole and clamp which is used to hold Superman in a flying position or hovering position. You also get two extra sets of hands (open palm and slighly open), plus two extra clips for the hands.  The quality of Superman’s costume and cape is amazing. It’s soft to the touch but captures every detail perfectly. As it’s the Evil Superman from the movie Superman III, his cape and costume are a darker shade of red and blue. He also has a slight 5 0’clock shadow adorning his face, to really drive home his evilness. The likeness to Christopher Reeve is uncanny. The artists at Hot Toys have captured it perfectly. This really is the closest you’ll get to the brilliance that was Reeve as Superman.

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My buddy suggested that I rotate Superman every week from flying to standing and so on. Mainly because I just can’t decide what I want Superman to be doing. This truly is a work of art. Some folk like going to museums to look at paintings. I however can sit and stare at this all day. Studying every detail and nuance it displays.

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If you are a Superman fan, Hot Toys fan or Sideshow Collectible fan then you owe it to yourself to seek this figure down and give it pride of place upon your mantle. It truly is a remarkable display in artistry. This Evil Superman toy was graciously provided by the fine folk over at Sideshow Collectibles. Should you want to pick one up for yourself, then head straight over to http://www.sideshowtoy.com and get one while stocks last.

5/5

JM

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The 13th Warrior (1999)

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Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas) has been banished from his homeland after sleeping with the wife of another man. On his travels he comes across a group of Norsemen who have been requested to go to the aid of a village that is being terrorised by ‘monsters’. A wise woman tells the Norsemen that 12 of them will be chosen, and that the 13th warrior will be a man not of their land. Ahmed is chosen to join the warriors in their journey.

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Whilst on their journey, Ahmed begins to earn the respect and admiration of the group, who see that he has a lot to offer them in their quest. Upon reaching the village, the group meet with the King. The King tells them that the monsters come when the “worm” has been seen in the mountains. When the ‘monsters’ attack the group, the group find that the ‘monsters’ are in fact ordinary men, albeit cannibals. The group decide that if they are to put a stop to the attacks, they must seek the enemy in their lair.

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However striking at the heart of the enemy, doesn’t quite have the effect the warriors hope for, leading to a brutal and bloody showdown. I absolutely love this movie. It has that old school epic quality to it. The story and acting are top notch. Everyone is clearly enjoying their respective roles. The action itself is visceral stuff, and doesn’t skimp on the gore.

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The film is based on a story by Michael Crichton called ‘The Eaters of the Dead’. Directed by John McTiernan, it truly is pulse pounding stuff. Omar Sharif has an extended cameo as Ahmed’s companion Melchisidek. I did read that there were problems on set and that Michael Crichton had to come in and oversee the directing of the film, but it doesn’t show. It is a brilliantly entertaining movie and one I wholeheartedly recommend.

5/5

JM

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The Killers (1964)

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Charlie Storm (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) arrive at a school for the blind to kill Johnny North (John Cassavetes). Johnny is warned that the men are on there way up to kill him. Yet when Charlie and Lee enter Johnny’s room, Johnny just stands there and takes what’s coming to him. Later when Charlie and Lee are talking on a train, Charlie ponders on why Johnny didn’t run, saying “I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why all of a sudden he’d rather die.”

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Charlie and Lee catch up with an old friend of Johnny’s called Earl, who tells them about a woman that caught Johnny’s eye some years ago. The woman is called Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson). Sheila got her hooks into Johnny and turned his head around. But all the time Sheila belonged to a man called Jack Browning (Ronald Regan, yes that one). The ploy was to eventually get Johnny to help Sheila and Jack on a heist to steal $1million dollars. Needing a professional driver to help in stealing the money, Sheila and Jack chose Johnny.

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As Charlie and Lee catch up with other people who knew Johnny, they begin to find out why Johnny decided not to run, and instead take the bullet. For me Lee Marvin is always watchable, in any film I’ve seen him in. The problem here however is he’s not in this enough. That’s mainly down to the flashback style of storytelling. Majority of the film consists of Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes, who aren’t terrible, but I just didn’t find the movie was strongest when they occupied the screen. Ronald Regan is passable as Jack Browning, in his final screen role before entering politics. Clu Gulager is great as the over eager Lee, and Lee Marvin is solid as Charlie Storm. The film is not terrible by any means, however I just felt it lacked a little punch.

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Also I don’t get why it’s an 18’s. I can understand that for a movie made in the 60’s it may have been a tad strong, but the BBFC are always fond of reclassifying movies, and to be honest I’ve seen 15 rated movies with more violence than this. The transfer from Arrow Films is, as always, impeccable. I can’t comment on what it looks like on DVD, but the Blu Ray is stunning. Every frame is crisp and the colours just pop. The sound is also second to none. Arrow never let me down in terms of picture and sound, irrespective of the movie. The extras consist of interviews about Lee Marvin and Ronald Regan, and one with director Don Siegel which was filmed in 1984. Again as always they are informative and are a pleasure to watch. This copy of The Killers was provided by the fantastic folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. The film is due to be released on February 24th and you can head over to Arrow’s site to pre-order your copy now.

3/5

JM

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