Archive for June, 2012

Blinkbox – Simple, subscription-free movies and TV on demand

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Whilst Blinkbox might sound like a new form of non-contact fighting based entirely around aggressive eyelid manipulation, it is in fact a popular online movie and TV episode rental service.

Blinkbox removes the subscription element, and you don’t receive movies by post. You can watch straight away online, and the titles available include both brand new releases and popular films from a variety of genres.

Blockbuster is known for its exclusives, whilst LoveFilm has an enviable library that is hard to match, but Blinkbox is an upfront, clear and simple service which makes it easy to get films instantly.

You can watch with Blinkbox online via laptop, PC or whatever takes your fancy that will do the job. You can also watch through certain Smart TVs using the Blinkbox app. Either way you do need a good broadband connection or you can pretty much forget the instant watch option.

If you’re stuck with ‘up to 14Mb’ broadband, and your realistic speeds are around 5-7Mb, then you can probably forget it. However, if you have fibre-optic broadband with speeds of at least 25-30Mbps then you should enjoy smooth, buffer-free viewing.

We watched The Woman In Black on a Samsung Smart TV, and the Blinkbox user process was pretty simple and fluid, just requiring user email address and password to login. The film, in case you were wondering, is as good as it gets for pure jumpy shocks. Daniel Radcliffe is convincingly spooked by the freaky occurrences, and having the antagonist’s scary face pop up regularly never gets less terrifying. The story is thin, but you aren’t watching it for storyline, and too many horror haunting films stumble when they try to pack in explanation and exposition.

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The Grey – Nesson goes howling mad

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Ah, Liam Neeson. The trusty Irish powerhouse is always a safe bet, and even in weaker films like The Phantom Menace, Clash of the Titans and Unknown, he still comes out as the star performer and a major redeeming quality of the movie.

His starring vehicles include the vastly underrated A-Team, as well as the excellent Michael Collins, superior thriller Taken and Kinsey, which saw him showered with well-deserved awards and nominations.

As for his smaller parts in films like Batman Begins and Gangs of New York, he serves to add some extra quality which heightens the overall excellence of the finished product.

In survival-thriller The Grey, Neeson plays John Ottway, a man hired by an oil firm to eliminate the threat of wolves to their drilling team in Alaska. We are introduced to him as he considers suicide, writing in quite poetic fashion to his wife to inform her of his general state of mind. He comes pretty close to blowing his head off, but in a nick of time he is needed to do his wolf-culling thing.

Once work is completed, Ottway and the drilling team hop on a flight, but the plane decides to take a short detour downwards, and crashes horribly leaving a handful of survivors.

As if a lack of food or drink, no real shelter, unlikely rescue, several corpses and a relentless blizzard weren’t enough to create a truly grim and challenging situation, a pack of savage wolves decide they don’t like their new neighbours, and begin picking off survivors at will.

Of course, Neeson’s Ottway, the man originally so close to suicide, takes it upon himself to try and guide the men through their predicament, making good use of his extensive wolf knowledge to try and fend off their would-be killers.

Neeson is excellent, embodying the struggle that is buried within a natural survivor who has considered taking his own life. His unflinching morals, impressive instincts and sheer will to fight make for a fascinating character, and help The Grey to become a triumph beyond other similarly-themed survival movies which fail to offer anything genuinely involving.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Remake or rehash?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Steig Larssons’s Millennium Trilogy consisted of three novels which focused on Lisbeth Salander, a feisty computer hacker with a troubled past who helps a newspaper editor investigate and uncover some secretive and sinister goings-on in sunny Sweden.

The novels received Swedish-language remakes, and the first was particularly well received. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a fast-paced, thrilling and captivating piece of cinema, driven by Noomi Rapace (seen recently in Prometheus and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows), who put in a stonking performance as Lisbeth.

In the first entry, Michael Blomqvist, the editor of Millennium magazine, is hired to find out what happened to a wealthy man’s grandniece some 40 years previous. Blomqvist, in turn, finds the legendary hacker Lisbeth, and convinces her to help him. She is under legal guardianship and has to report back regularly to a man who is basically hideous scum. As she copes with this grotty fellow, she also manages to unearth some fairly horrendous information which will help Michael in his quest for the truth.

Some scenes in the original made for uncomfortable viewing, but it was all there as a key part of Lisbeth’s motivation; the way she acts, with a cold, calculated and distant demeanour, as well as her attitudes towards sex and violence, were justified by story elements which occurred both on and off-screen. It was at times torturous to watch, but at the same time you really rooted for Lisbeth, and Rapace deserved all the acclaim she received and more.

So, with this film being awesome but in Swedish, those marvellous chaps at Colombia Pictures started the process of doing an English-language version. From this point onwards, scepticism shall be rife.

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