Mockingjay Part II review

Mockingjay Part II review

When you have a movie that goes on for four parts you usually want to see it to the end.
The question is more about whether it is just a stretched out conclusion to milk more money or a roaring finale ?

Well unfortunately this installation falls more into the first camp ..

Now that I have settled that, let me explain why ..

Hunger Games was the main vehicle that inspired a whole bunch of movies with a similar plot:

Young hero in a post apocalyptic world fighting against the establishment. Typically young, often female the protagonist inspires the rebels to rise up against the odds.

You have the divergent series, maze runner, even Jupiter Rising amongst recent offerings with a very similar idea.

So there is great expectations for the finale to this series.

The good thing is that there are ATMOSpheric action scenes to keep fans happy. Surround action is sterling in keeping with a recent show. But the action is not unlike past ones and one does get a feeling that we have seen it before.

Much like the Hobbit series was no longer fresh compared to the LOTR, the angst and strife was no longer exciting nor that appealing.

I felt the length could have been shortened and the three way love story also quite contrived.

Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress but the rest are quite wooden. So in the end one watches it to bring a decent franchise to a conclusion but there's more relief than much debate that tends to happen after a good yarn.

Decent enough for a rental and a probable buy for those following the series but hard to recommend as a standalone movie.

Nissan Qashqai 1.6 TDI review

Been using a 1.6l tdi qashqai ..
What a wonderful ride!
The high torque makes the response solid and overtaking is easy.
FC is good.
The QQ is a well equipped car and pretty well built.
The main issue is the interior space isn't that big, even though the external dimensions are quite large. Boot space is also not impressive. I can lie a trolley bag lengthwise in my civic but I can't here.
There's a distinctive diesel clatter too and road noise is obviously not like a Lexus.
If they brought this engine over it will be highly successful. The 1.2 petrol turbo is no match for this.
But what impressed me most was the ride on the highway which feels like a larger more solid car and the torque. There are also nice little features which are usually only found on a conti car.

After getting more familiar with this turbo diesel, I took it on some nice windy A roads and even a few B roads.
Being quite a bit higher than a sedan, you can't throw it into the corners like a sedan but it's quite good at holding its line and the lane sensing tech is rather useful.
The suspension is on the firm side, aiding road holding, but you do feel more of the road coming through. My wife didn't really feel it and said it was quite comfortable.
Road noise is good although you know it's no Lexus.
A car of this size begs for the kind of torque that the TDI has. A firm press of the pedal brings positive results and overtaking is a calm affair with no fuss.
The CVT transmission isn't that bad but when you start off its a little sluggish to react.
Visibility is not bad but the rear view is more limited than a sedan. The high sitting does really give a nice commanding view.
All in all a nice ride.

However in our local context the engine choice deters me from getting this.

Salisbury Hotel Edinburgh review

This is our first stay here and it's a bittersweet experience.
The hotel is located in a side lane with a few useful parking lots.

Firstly Marko the man at the reception was effervescent, energetic and effusive. He was helpful with the bags and let us keep the bags in the hotel whilst we went to get our car.

However there are a few things you should know about the hotel.
First there's a slope up from the main road to the car park and then a flight of stairs to the main door.
Then there's no lift, only a narrow flight of stairs. So if you have heavy bags or aren't very fit then should be something you should know and this is not posted on their website that there's no lifts and there is no alternative to reach the main door.
Secondly I wonder if boutique is a euphemism for small as the room is of modest proportion.
It is well equipped. However the walls are wafer thin and you hear all the noises or conversations in the hotel.
You will also hear anyone coming up the stairs.
Even though it's in a side lane you will hear road noises but it is far enough that the noise from the main road won't reach you.

So in summary:
Well equipped, small sized room with a helpful concierge.

But beware of the steep entrance and the lack of a lift. Not for the frail or infirmed.

London has fallen movie review

London has fallen movie review

Firstly I should say that I am no connoisseur of art house movies so blockbuster movies like this are right up my alley. Put your brain aside and watch the bombs, bangs and babes.

But even then the best movies will have a wonderful blend of action, humor and maybe romance. Die Hard is the gold standard and I have to say this one tries hard but falls short.
Gerard Butler tries hard and he did reasonably well in the first edition of 'Olympus has Fallen'.
He returns with more potus in peril, but the location is London instead of Washington.
The concept isn't too different and there is plenty of action and the surround action works well but sadly there isn't a great deal of chemistry and it shows. Both main actors seem to be sleep walking and keys doing enough to collect their pay checks.

Movies tend to demand that you suspend your believability index but you have to work harder here.

A buy for the action and sound, but only when the price drops.

Sent from my iPhone
Sorry for brevity of message

5th Wave movie review

5th Wave movie review

Interesting concept, good effort by Chloe Moritz but the execution and editing killed this.
Halfway I felt that it was like a hunger games / divergent side plot movie with elements copied from many alien invasion plots.
The love interest felt artificial and the use of kids as the front line troops is also not new.
Action fans will find some cheers but it's a rental at best.

Sent from my iPhone
Sorry for brevity of message

Amazon deals - "Only For Prime Members" - what gives?

Just a little something on the "Prime Offer" transformations..

Each week, something will come up for a special price, eg "13 Hours" was previously at USD 19.99, and dropped to 12.99 for a while - almost a week to be exact. Now it's only for Prime Members.

Likewise, "Band of Brothers" is corralled for Prime Members only. 

So will it turn back to 'regular'? Yes, but not for the offer price. So if you snooze, you lose :) 

Sometimes if something grabs your attention, grab it! Otherwise if it's not really a big deal, wait for the next price drop. 

X Men Apocalypse - Movie Review

It's been an overload of superhero movies in the past few months, beginning with Batman Vs Superman, then Captain America Civil War and now this. Can Bryan Singer bring this franchise to great higher heights? Or as Jean Grey remarked in an inside joke - that the third instalment is always the worse?

First, I think that this will make a very decent demo disc when it comes out on a Blu Ray. And yes, it was filmed on 6k.. but the VFX was 2k and so YMMV:
The surrounds and the subwoofers were working overtime here, and there are so many good fight scene to make the action aficionado happy. 
There are also plenty of new characters, in this second reboot of the franchise, reset after Wolverine did his time altering effort, thereby allowing some new cast members, which I suspect the producers planted to carry this franchise forward into the new few movies.
How about the plot? Well as a standalone movie, there's quite a bit to catch up, since you are pretty much thrown into the thick of the action, and despite a lengthy show, there does not seem to be much depth in the characters, as there are quite a few new faces being thrown in. 
Even familiar characters are now played by new actors with some exceptions, so one does take a while to get used to them.
Carried over from the last few instalments are Fessbender, McAvoy, and Evans, and as Quicksilver, Evans enjoys a fun ride. The ever reliable Jennifer Lawrence takes on a Hunger Games-seque heroine stance here, playing less of a chameleon / Black Widow type shady character, but instead leads the troops as a senior member of the X Men.
Hugh Jackman even manages a non-credited cameo, although he did look less buff than in the last show.
The beast looks less awesome, but the other standout character is the villain, who is imposing and quite menacing. Kurt Wagner is a cute teenage comic relief, but does not light up the screen like his predecessor. 
One reason I felt I couldn't get into it as much was the angst quotient of this movie. If the intensity of raised furrows and number of growls is an indication of good acting, then this movie will be in the running for the angst Oscars..
But one solid scene was the Quicksilver / Eurythymics one! What a blast - literally!

The chick count is high, and Olivia Munn does for X Men what Maria Hill ala Colbie Smulders does for Captain America and manages to heat up the screen each time she comes on.

However, there were two other superhero ensemble movies that came barely weeks before. And I suppose this movie is going to be judged against them. It certainly outperforms Batman vs Superman, which is not too difficult, but what about Civil War?

Well I feel that it falls significantly short of that one, which is my gold standard for how one can get an ensemble cast to work together, give each of the important people sufficient screen time for character development, share good screen chemistry and yet still have a blast of a time with a healthy dose of action. I suppose there are more 'return actors' in that show and their chemistry together shows.

But the new X Men are positively weaker, save for senior ones like McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Fessbender, who carry the movie forward. 
It's another new start and we hope to see more good things, but the last instalment still beats this one hands down.

3/5, and its still good enough for action fans and bass heads to own once the disc comes out. 

Demo Disc 2016: short review/synopsis

Demo Disc 2016: short review/synopsis

Welcome to the demo disc 2016. This is a disc  created for our community at to share. No one should sell it, but instead distribute it amongst our community to enjoy these demo clips, which will showcase the best that Atmos and DTS-X can offer.

Please refer to our forum to understand how to setup your speakers, the positions and what are the prerequisite speakers and amps to fully enjoy this before you begin.

Take some time to understand the nomenclature of Top speakers, Front and Rear Heights, and the Dolby Surround or DSU as well as the DTS Neural X upmixing formats too.

Try listening to the scenes with and without the use of the overheads to appreciate their action. Remember a good home theatre experience is more than loudness and bass. One will feel like they are part of the movie, sitting right in the middle of the action where the director and sound engineer intended, giving you the ambience, the suspense and the involvement in the plot.

The overhead channels should be subtle, adding a more complete soundfield, but not overpowering your means. Learn to play with your channel levels to get the right mix that suits your tastes. Like the surrounds and bass levels, some may like a ‘hotter mix’ with the overhead channels being more prominent, whilst others may prefer a less prominent yet more immersive experience, so as always experiment and do what pleases you. There is no one single right answer.

Then sit back and enjoy!

What is on this disc:

Dolby Atmos titles
        1. Capture the Flag         
        2. Pan                   
        3. 13 Hours - The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
        4. The Wave                 
        5. Goosebumps              
        6. 10 Cloverfield Lane     
        7. In the Heart of the Sea  
        8. Everest                  
        9. We Are Your Friends

DTS X titles  
      10. Gravity by Clemens Wirth      
      11. Crimson Peak                   
      12. The Last Witch Hunter         
      13. American Ultra               
      14. Gods of Egypt - Clip 1         
      15. Gods of Egypt - Clip 2         
      16. London Has Fallen
Auro 3D titles     
      17. 747 and Helicopter Flyby    
      18. Passing Tractor

Bonus titles            
      19. Ant-Man (DTS-HD MSTR)                   
      20. Deadpool (DTS-HD MSTR)                  
      21. Spectre (DTS-HD MSTR)                   
      22. TrollHunter (DTS)                        

      Overall duration: 1hr 37mins

1.    Capture the Flag

This is an animation, which has a nice fireworks scene, when it goes off, note the subtle extension of the soundfield into the top channels.

2.    Pan

The overheads are used more extensively here, with the flying ship, and the birds giving more air to the drama. When Pan is sitting by the fire, look out for the birds flying about, and above.

3.    13 Hours - The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

This is indeed a tour de force of sonic excellence on all fronts: immersive, bass oomph, and overhead action. Feel the power of each shot through your body, enjoy the thump, but also the sound that bathes you in the action. Trace the bullet paths going back and forth, see and hear the tracer shots. When there is an explosion, hear the boom and it’s after shock through not only the sub, but the ricochet and other sonic effects through all the surround channels, including the overheads.

4.    The Wave

It gets better and better! This Norwegian production gives you the premonition, with creaks and groans that start around you, then progress to the overheads. There is a build up of the tension via the use of the subs, and then as the rocks tumble, you will hear then on top, progress to the sides and also hear the metal struts as they give way. Sirens go off around you, then the big action sequence of the rocks tumbling brings your subs to life.

5.    Goosebumps

This clip jumps quickly into the overheads as the invisible creature ‘walks’ on your ceiling and then progresses into the surround sides and backs. The big mantis gives the sub a workout, but it’s the delicate ceiling effects that will thrill.

6.    10 Cloverfield Lane

It’s the same story here, as the girl hides in the hut, you can hear the monster coming onto the roof, and going around. Also feel the immersion of the gas surround the girl.

7.    In the Heart of the Sea

Here there are overhead channel usages reminiscent of “Masters And Commander”, with creaking boards, and water dripping, then the rush of water around us as we swim with the large whale. The sub then gets a big workout when the ship is pummeled and destroyed.

8.    Everest
Here we experience the fury of the storm, as it hits base camp and then the climbers on the mountain. The wind and rain come and hit them, and yet the dialogue is still clear.

9.    We Are Your Friends

This party scene is about surround action, and having a live concern feel. It will also find a beat if have a musical Home Theatre (HT) setup. If you are looking for PRAT, this is the right track. If you want to know if your sub can thump to a musical rhythm, then look no further. 

10. Gravity by Clemens Wirth

This continues with more PRAT, and this synth track will help to determine if you have not only a setup that gives you the immersive HT experience, but also find an immersive and yet musical setup.

11. Crimson Peak

This is a suspense track and you will find sound emitting from the top and surrounds as the girl talks to the Crimson Red lady suspended in mid-air. Notice the creaks and sounds.

12. The Last Witch Hunter

This scene is more about immersion again, and Vin Diesel feel the storm outside, quietly first, with a little background sub action, then more and more. Think of the scene from Fight Club, and combine that with the Flight of the Phoenix re-imaged with overheard action.

13. American Ultra

The supermart scene has surround action, and a few explosions, putting you right in the middle of the action. There is also crisp use of the centre speaker.

14. Gods of Egypt

There are two clips here:
The first is a quiet clip until the boy activates the booby trap. Then you hear the swirling soldiers from all around.
The second is another swirl fest, as the sand guardian’s voice moves around, and over you.

15. London Has Fallen

As Air Force One takes evasive action, you hear the sound of the chopper, and then when it takes a hit from a Stinger, and you hear roar of the wind as the front part of the chopper is ripped out.

The Auro clips are self-descriptive so enjoy!

16. Ant-Man (DTS-HD MSTR)

Ant-Man has bass and also the explosion coming to you from all the surround channels. The fight in the chopper is also immersive and intense. But the music playing from Siri whilst the fight plays gives you a mix of PRAT and immersion. Sweet.

17. Deadpool (DTS-HD MSTR)

When the cars pass you, there is action in all the channels, around and above. The fight scene in the car is intimate, and you have details and even the stretching sound of leather.

18. Spectre (DTS-HD MSTR)

The start of the Bond movie is punctuated by surround action, then bass from the collapsing building, followed by the flourish of music when the festival of the dead washes around you and you join Bond in walking in the middle of it. As the helicopter swirls, you can hear it go around you. Enjoy the blare of the trumpets as the familiar tune comes on.

19. TrollHunter (DTS)

This movie has the Blair Witch style feel, with a build up of suspense as the sounds of the forest being awoken by sound gives a sense of impeding room. The troll is all round and then as they are chased through the forest you join the party running away, and hear his hard breathing around you.

© all rights reserved. 

Not just another Sydney trip - food and more

So who has not been to Oz and in particular Sydney? Blue mountains? Harbor bridge? Koalas? I think most of us have seen them all .. How a...