Modus (TV Series) (2015)

The Scandinavians do it again. Seriously. Very rarely have I watched  a programme from Sweden or Denmark where I have been bored or found the story uninteresting. Detective Ingvar Nyman is sent to Uppsala to investigate the grisly murder or a bishop. Teaming up with a psychologist, they seek to uncover just why people are turning up dead in some very strange circumstances. 

There are gruesome scenes which may not be for the squeamish, but this series is never gratuitous. It’s superbly acted and the story is gripping. It’s mostly subtitled, but there is quite a bit of English speaking in it too for those that have an allergic reaction to reading subtitles. Seriously folks, you’re missing out on some gems if you refuse to watch movies or programmes with subtitles. 

The cast do a very good job in keeping you engaged, and play their parts to perfection. I really hope that there is more of this to come. MODUS  is released on Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 19th December by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

Modus is definitely a series that you need to give your time to. Very impressed. 

5/5

JM

Beck: Vol. 2 (2016) (TV Series) 

The Scandinavians really do know how to make thrilling drama. With the likes of Trapped, The Killing, Borgen and many others, they have thrilled UK audiences. Beck is another jewel in that crown. 

Peter Haber plays the brilliant Martin Beck, a Swedish detective who hunts down all sorts of criminals. He is called back into action when a journalist is found beaten to death in his home. Various fingerprints are found which may allude to the killer’s identity, but the further Beck and his team dig, the more they realise that things may not be as straightforward as they seem. 

However that is only the first case in this series. This wonderful procedural weaves through different grisly cases, whilst simultaneously delving into each of the characters lives. It does a great job in really investing in the characters and making you care for them. The acting really is first class.

The stories are thoroughly gripping too. The writing is intelligent and there are various twists and turns keeping you on the edge of your seat. The supporting cast are fabulous, and you never get the feeling like any one character feels redundant in their role. 

If the Scandinavians can continue to produce awesome television such as this, then I think we will always have something decent to watch. Even more than once. BECK – THE SERIES VOLUME TWO is released on DVD on Monday 10th October by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

5/5

JM

OThe Out-Laws (2016) (TV Series) 

The Goethals have always been a tight bunch. 5 sisters who have always relied and trusted each other. After the premature death of the their parents, their bond only grows stronger.

However their lives are thrown into disarray when one of the sisters marries a devious and manipulative man by the name of Jean Claude, the other 4 sisters realise they need to take drastic measures to restore order. 

The sisters begin a plot to murder Jean Claude, but things go awry from the get go and only proceed to get worse from there. Everyone is on top form, and the blend of comedy and thrills is really well handled. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing, but it couldn’t be helped. The Out-Laws has been doing very well in its home country of Belgium, and I am certain that success will carry on in the UK. 

The Nordic Noir label has been distributing some absolute belters, and ‘The Out-Laws’ aka ‘Clan’ is no different. It took an episode or so to get going, but by the end you will want more. The wonderfully named Dirk Roofthooft shines as the scheming Jean Claude, and I hope to see him in more things in the future. 

THE OUT-LAWS is released on DVD on Monday 19th September by Nordic Noir & Beyond
 5/5

JM

Gomorrah: Season 2 (2016)

Don’t read if you haven’t seen the first season. 

*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*

With Don Pietro sprung from his prison convoy and Gennaro clinging to life after being shot and left for dead by Ciro, a power vacuum has been created and Don Salvatore is manoeuvring to take complete control of the city. Continuing on from the blisteringly good first season, Gomorrah aims to capitalise on its gripping story on the fall and possible rise of the Savastano clan. 

Ciro has decided to make a power grab himself, though not for complete control, rather just to stay alive. Gennaro looks to reconnect with his father but it doesn’t go as he would’ve hoped. What Gomorrah does well is fully flesh out every character, even those that are sometimes relegated to the background. The first season did it too. There were episodes that contained just a handful of characters, and didn’t need to constantly remind you that others existed. Same for season 2. One episode is dedicated almost completely to Gennaro and Don Pietro. It’s a thrillingly told episode, that shows you how deep bonds are between father and son, and how damaging a mistake can be. 

The acting is second to none. Seriously. Everyone owns their respective roles and nobody feels like they’re not pulling their weight. Same goes for the script. The story never feels like it flags, and is constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat. I seriously cannot wait for season 3.

Gomorrah season 2 is available to order now on Blu Ray and DVD from all good stockists. 

5/5

JM

Follow The Money (TV Series) (2016)

  
Alexander Sødergren (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a ruthless business man who works for a Danish company called Energreen. He has plans to corner the energy market, and believes wind farms are the future. When a dead body is pulled from the sea in which a wind farm is situated, a detective called Mads Justesen (Thomas Bo Larsen) believes that the shady Energreen had something to do with it. 

  
One thing I’ve noticed about these Scandinavian crime dramas is that it nearly always starts with dead body being pulled from the water. Maybe they should take up swimming perhaps? 

Also playing into proceedings is a young mechanic and ex convict called Nicky (Esben Smed Jensen), who finds himself tangled up with Energreen when he tries to resort to blackmail. There’s also a young lawyer called Claudia (Natalie Madueño) who receives a promotion which helps her in her investigation into the dodgy goings on inside Energreen. 

  
The plot moves along very slowly, and is nowhere near as gripping as previous Scandinavian dramas like The Killing or Trapped. This is more the political side of things like Borgen, which is no surprise really as it was created by the same guy. The dialogue is very wooden in places, though one would guess that maybe something has been lost in translation. Nikolaj Lie Kaas is very good as the ruthless Alexander or ‘Sander’ as he’s also called. He is very convincing in his role and thankfully the poor script doesn’t seem to hamper his acting quality whatsoever. 

Thomas Bo Larsen is also good as the dogged detective Mads Justesen, who’s home life also weighs him down as his wife suffers with multiple sclerosis. I felt that the aspect of his wife suffering with such a debilitating disease was kind of shoehorned in, just to make us feel more sympathetic towards him. I felt it was unnecessary as his character was already adequately defined for us to relate to as an audience. 

  
The camerawork is great in my opinion however, as it moves around the office like a shark, perfectly capturing the claustrophobic atmosphere of an office where so much is going on. 

Scandinavian dramas have always been worth watching, and ‘Follow the Money’ is no different. However I would love to see a series which delves even more into the dark hearts of man, maybe something involving the occult. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY is released on DVD & Blu-Ray Monday 25th April by Nordic Noir & Beyond and is available for pre order now. 

3/5

JM

  

Trapped (TV Series) (2015)

  
Synopsis from the Arrow Films website:

“As a ferry carrying 300 passengers from Denmark pulls into an Icelandic town s small port, heavy snow begins to fall. The ferry can t leave until the storm passes and the main road into town is impassable. A mutilated and dismembered body washes on the shore, an unidentifiable man murdered only hours ago. The local police chief, Andri Ólafssun, whose personal life is in shatters, realises a killer has descended into his town. As word spreads, order disintegrates into chaos as the ferry’s passengers and the town’s residents realise they are all possible suspects and that a killer is trapped among them.”

That does a much better job of describing this stunning series than I ever could. When we meet Chief Ólafssun he is already someone you can wholly sympathise and identify with. He’s an everyday sort of person who finds himself up against a cunning killer when he is already himself at breaking point. With his trusty colleagues, they begin to piece together the events that lead to the grisly murder, but there are lots of surprises and red herrings along the way. Each episode leaves you wanting more, and you may find that you binge through episodes before deciding to take a break, it’s that good. 

 
Ólafur Darri Ólafassun who plays the put upon Chief Ólafassun really makes you warm to him. Eagle eyed viewers may remember him from ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones’ of which he had a brief but memorable role. Scandinavia has really been on a solid run with the thrilling dramas it has been releasing of late. The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge and Those Who Kill all show why audiences are so drawn to the sterling drama on offer. Each series that has come out of Scandinavia has hooked people because of the great writing, fully rounded characters and thrills that are on offer. 

 
The supporting cast all deliver and help in fleshing out a gripping piece of television. The scenery is breathtaking too, with the mountains and the unrelenting snow really making you feel glad to be warm indoors. I love watching TV series such as ‘Trapped’ which keep you gripped and don’t give too much away in each episode.

 
I’m really looking forward to seeing what is in store for a second series of ‘Trapped’ should they decide to make one. TRAPPED is released on Monday 11th April by Nordic Noir & Beyond, and is available to pre order now from the following link:

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&keyword=trappe&product_id=710%22

It really is a top series and one I highly recommend. 

5/5

JM

  

River (TV Series) 2015

  
John River is a brilliant police officer whose genius and fault-line is the fragility of his mind – a man haunted by the murder victims whose cases he must lay to rest. A man who must walk a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift.

  
Stellan Skarsgård plays the part of John River magnificently. He displays his fragile state of mind across his face as a permanent reminder to the viewer that this man is not well. Whilst hunting for the killer of his partner who was shot apparently at random, he must also navigate other difficult murder cases and the constant questioning of his own mental state all while being haunted by murder victims he couldn’t save, and even a smirking Victorian killer who seeks to drive him to madness. 

  
Eddie Marsan plays Thomas Cream, a sinister killer from the 19th century who even professed to be Jack the Ripper. Thomas haunts River, trying to poison his mind and stop him from getting the killers responsible for the many cases he’s investigating and also from becoming mentally well again. Watching River battle with his clear mental illness is heartbreaking as Skarsgård is so invested in the character that it’s clear to see he’s done his research and has taken the time to really craft the character and make him both believable and sympathetic. The supporting cast are also really good and you will recognise a lot of faces. There are some disturbing elements, but it’s so well written that you just can’t turn away. 

  

Fans of Scandinavian drama will find lots to like here, as even though it’s set in London, it’s very similar to programmes like The Killing and Borgen. The BBC have really delivered here with what is a fantastic piece of drama. Absolutely brilliant. You can pre order the series on Blu Ray and DVD now via the following link: 

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/search&filter_name=River

River is released on November 30th. 

5/5  
JM

 

Romanzo Criminale. Coming soon from Arrow. 

  
Following the success of their most recent Italian language TV drama titles, most notably the acclaimed Naples-set crime saga Gommorah, along with the likes of Inspector De Luca and Inspector Nardone, Arrow Films will continue to house quality international crime thriller shows from various European territories and beyond, under their sub-label ‘Nordic Noir and Beyond’.
 Ahead of the arrival of the upcoming Witnesses and the highly anticipated The Bridge Season 3, both due for release later in Q4, Arrow are excited to announce the arrival of Romazo Criminale, a hard edged and violent look at the criminal underworld of Rome set between the 1970s and the 1990s. Season One will be released on DVD 14th September and focuses on the darker side of Rome during the 70s.

 Synopsis

A criminal known as ‘Lebanese’ has a dream: to conquer the underworld of Rome. To carry out this unprecedented feat he puts together a ruthless and highly organised gang. Their progress and changes in leadership take place over twenty-five years, from the 1970s into the 90’s, and are inseparably intertwined with the dark history of modern Italy: terrorism, kidnappings and corruption at the highest levels of government. Throughout these years Police Lieutenant Scialoia sticks to the gang’s trail, trying both to bring them to justice and to win the heart of Gang Member Dandi’s girlfriend Patrizia.

JM

The Park Is Mine (1985)

  

Tommy Lee Jones plays Mitch, a Vietnam veteran who takes over Central Park after the suicide of his old war buddy. He decides to take drastic action to highlight the plight of veterans living in the U.S. whom he feels are unfairly neglected and forgotten about when they cease to be of use to anyone. 

  
Thought of as a loser by his ex-wife and struggling to hold down a job, Mitch feels that doing what he’s doing will give him a purpose. However the police seek to rid New York of what they see as a menace and go all out to bring Mitch to justice, dead or alive. When a reporter Valery (Helen Shaver) enters the park to cover the action, it’s up to Mitch to make sure that both of them are able to leave the park alive. 

  
Tommy Lee Jones is excellent as Mitch, a disillusioned veteran looking for some meaning in a world he no longer feels apart of. Helen Shaver is passable as the reporter, but never really feels like she has much to do. The score by Tangerine Dream is suitably atmospheric also. 

  
It’s well worth watching if you can get hold of it. This copy of The Park Is Mine was graciously provided by http://www.twistedanger.com and is available now to purchase. 

4/5

JM 

  

Captain Rex ‘Phase II Armour’ from Sideshow Collectibles. 

 

As you can see in the above picture, even Captain Rex gives this the thumbs up. What a stunning release this is from the very talented folks over at Sideshow Collectibles. The detail is astounding. There were two releases of Captain Rex, with the first release having him in pristine white armour, and not the battle worn armour you can see in the pictures. That said, I have to say I prefer this one. I love the scuffs and scratches all over his armour. I also like the little notches on his wrists that show you how many enemies he has killed. 

 

The notches are also etched onto the base, which also details Captain Rex’s regiment. Captain Rex can be seen in The Clone Wars series. He is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker in the series, but has the likeness of actor Temuera Morrison who played Jango Fett in the movies, well I think so anyway. 

 

 The head and helmet are interchangeable, but can be a bit fiddly in places. I struggled to fit the head on securely, but the helmet fits on no problem. When I took the Jetpack out of the packaging I did wonder how on earth it would clip on, as there wasn’t any noticeable bits sticking out. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s magnetised, and actually clips on very nicely. 

 

You get two pistols which can be holstered on Captain Rex’s waist. You also get a very nice blaster rifle which has an underslung shoulder stock. Also included are two grenades and several pairs of interchangeable hands which really add character to the piece. The artists and sculptors at Sideshow really have produced a fine piece here, which will definitely sit proudly amongst my other sixth scale figures. If you are intersted in this figure and would like you get your own, then pop along to http://www.sideshowtoy.com/collectibles/star-wars-captain-rex-sideshow-collectibles-1002221/, where it is available for a very, very reasonable price. Believe me. 

 

I want to thank the fine folks over at http://www.sideshowtoy.com for their generosity in providing this figure for review. It’s thanks to them that I can bring you these fine items to review. Stay tuned for more great toy reviews. 

5/5

JM