Wild Africa in 3D DVD

Summation: Mediocre uninspiring production

Rating: 2 out of 5

Compared with a BBC Natural History production this is a damp squib, a colourless uninspiring copy. Even the 3D effects appear to be bland.

Do not waste your money on this Blu-ray. Rather purchase Africa by the BBC to view how natural history documentaries should be made.



Cirque du Soleil’s “Worlds Away” in 3D

Summation: A thoroughly enjoyable surreal fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5

This video does not contain a plot as such which comprises a series of exuberant & dare-devilish stunts by the well-known Cirque du Soleil. There is a connecting theme, a forlorn maiden in search of her true love. This provides the continuity.

Being a movie instead of a live performance, it has allowed the creators the luxury of lush extravagant sets. Viewed in 3D, this results in an ephemeral otherworldly feel about it.

As can be expected the acrobatic acts are stunning & timed to perfection.

The production is a surreal transcendental fantasy where one should just float along in the extravagance of the production.



The Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut

Summation:  The Engrossing Saga of a Reluctant & Unlikely Crusader

Rating: 5 out of 5

It was mere happenstance that I ordered the Director’s Cut rather than the Cinema Release Version. It is a stunning period epic bringing to life the Crusades told through a blacksmith – Balian – as portrayed by Orlando Bloom – who unbeknown to him is the son of a Knight. “Convinced” to join the Crusades to escape justice after killing the local Priest, who we later learn, is his brother. Unfortunately his father dies en route at Messina in Sicily from wounds sustained preventing the arrest of his son. Cast as a sullen person either due to the script writer’s lack of character portrayal ability or due to casting him as being initially distraught due to the death of his wife & child or alternatively being out of his depth in a strange new land with strange new values.

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The King’s Speech – A compelling human interest story of human failings & courage

Rating: 5 out of 5

In spite of apparently having everything in life, the second son of King George V of England had one troubling impediment: a debilitating stammer.

Prince Albert, or Bertie as he was affectionately known, was a high-ranking member of the Royal family. As such he was obliged to make speeches periodically. Every one became a nightmare for him. To overcome this affliction he had tried every form of speech therapy but none worked. Fortunately for him, he had a wonderful loving wife who persevered.

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My Week with Marilyn – Unveiling a Marilyn requiring constant validation in spite of fame

Rating: 5 out of 5

This sliver of time in the life of Marilyn Monroe highlights a woman already famous & now on her third marriage – this time to the author Arthur Miller – that still requires validation.

This movie opens the world on a Marilyn wracked with insecurities & craving attention, validation & affirmation as a serious actress. This movie does not attempt to address the issue of the reasons for her insecurity but it does shine a sharp light on it.

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Schindler’s List – Spielberg highlights the Nazi’s depravity brilliantly

Rating: 5 out of 5

The story of the holocaust is well-known & is better known than the atrocities committed by Stalin & Mao even though the magnitude of these were larger than those committed by the Nazis.

Nevertheless, the sheer horror of the Nazi’s killing machine is brought to life in this intense but moving portrayal of the first the ghettoization & then the elimination of this 600 year-old community.

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China – Triumph & Turmoil – A Brief Overview of three aspects of Modern China

Rating: 4 out of 5

With its stellar economic rise since the death of Mao Zedong 1976, more focus needs to be placed on the Chinese in order to understand the ascendant pre-eminent 21st Century World Power. Anyway, that is what the Chinese themselves believe.

The questions that require answers or at least some insights whether China will survive in its current form as an authoritarian state or whether the Chinese people will rebel in their quest for something more akin to Western values.
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The Village – Series 1 – Authentic portrayal of Life in an English Village circa 1913-1920

Rating: 5 out of 5

Undoubtedly a grim tale told through the eyes of a young Bert Middleton. Life was dismal, wretched & tough for all in a down-at-heel village where nobody seems to smile. Powerful performances of John Middleton, a tormented alcoholic father struggling to make a living on a stony patch of land are buttressed by his wife, Grace, the ballast in the turbulent mix.

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DVD Review: Earth Flight

A Bird’s eye view of birds on the wing

Rating: 5 out of 5

What a stunning video. Instead of the usual shots of birds taken from the ground, these photos are taken alongside the birds as if one were flying adjacent to them in the flock. Many of them are taken of migrations with shots of birds flying over well-known features such as the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty.

In each of the three episodes Earth Flight deals with birds from a different continent. So in the case of South Africa, my home country, the one portion is of Cape Gannet’s diving through a school of dolphins to catch pilchards, an epipelagic fish. This section shows gannets at wing height, from above & beneath the water. All are stunning.

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DVD Review: J Edgar

An excellent portrayal of an enigma

Rating: 5 out of 5

John Edgar Hoover rose to become the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, & was its head for 48 years. As such he would stop at nothing to protect his country & himself.

To do so, he illegally gathered personal information on the all the senior officials in the administration including the President. Naturally he uncovered the dalliances of both Roosevelt & his wife, Eleanor.

Remarkably he served under eight presidents waging wars against threats both real & imaginary. His solution was to bend the rules to obtain the desired results.

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