Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Buying DVDs No Longer Makes Sense

Having recently signed up for a 30 day trial of DVD and games rental site LOVEFiLM, I have to admit that it's a very appealing service and one that will probably change the way we buy and watch DVD movies. They have over 65,000 titles available and you simply build yourself a list of the films you want to see or games you want to play and, based on what rental plan you're on, the discs get mailed to you by first-class post as soon as you have a rental slot available. You can even set the priority of the titles you want to get and you can then keep the disc as long as you want and then mail it back to them in a postage-paid envelope once you're done with it.

I chose the simplest option for the trial - unlimited rentals of one disc at a time, which I thought was enough to try it out and it works out at roughly two films a week assuming that we watch it the day it arrives and return it the next day. Frankly I doubt if we could watch more than that as we really don't want to turn into that kind of couch potato. There are lighter plans available that limit the number of rentals per month and heavier plans of unlimited rentals of up to three discs at a time. You can even add video games onto your rental plan if you want to.

Of course there'll always be discs that we'll want to buy and own for watching again and sometimes again or just for the loads of extras some of them come with but for the most part, once we've watched a disc, it gets stuffed away in a cupboard and will probably never be watched again. We've got over 300 DVDs at home now that adds up to quite a sum of money spent over the last few years. Sure, you can always sell them via eBay or Amazon, etc., and I have done quite a few times, but that's a lot of hassle for very little return and now that there's no Post Office near my work, it's simply not worth the bother.

The one disc at a time plan comes in at just under £10 a month, which equates to roughly £120 a year for about 90 discs and I'm factoring in a fair chunk of holidays there. Now think about how much it'd cost you to buy 90 DVDs and it works out at well over £120 doesn't it? Even if you wait until they're cheaper, say £7 each, then that's a massive £560! If we slowed the watching momentum to one movie a week, which I reckon we'll eventually get to once the novelty wears off a bit, it still works out that we're saving an awful lot of money renting instead of buying.

The only downside I can see to renting is the fact that rental copies often don't contain extra material or extended/director's editions and the discs themselves go through a lot of hands so can get a bit worn out. However, buying DVDs, for me, is now a thing of the past unless it's a very special disc that I simply couldn't rent or one that has enough interesting or entertaining extras on it to make it worth the purchase.

The standard trial period for LOVEFiLM is 14 days but if anyone wants a 30 day trial, then get in touch and I can send you a code for it. It gets me a month's free rental as well so even better!

Saturday, July 05, 2008


WantedWe went to see Wanted on Saturday, after a bit of shopping in town. It was too early to get dinner so we had a coffee and a bun and headed in for an earlier show. Strange to go so early but it certainly was a bit quieter than normal. Probably due to the fact that the film was an 18 certificate and most of the film-goers in the ticket queue were taking their kids to see Kung-Fu Panda or Prince Caspian.
Wanted tells the story of Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), a downtrodden accountant with a dead-end life. His overbearing boss treats him like crap and he won't stand up to her; he knows his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend but he won't do anything about it; his father ran out on him days after he was born; and he gets an anxiety attack at the slightest piece of excitement.

All this changes when he gets caught up in a gunfight at his local drugstore and is abducted by the beautiful Fox (Angelina Jolie) who tells him that his father had just been killed on the roof of an office block and that he was a member of The Fraternity, a secret society of assassins. Fox and her boss Sloan (Morgan Freeman) tell Wesley that a rogue agent is killing the members one by one and that he has the power within him to stop this killer and avenge his father's death. They also tell him that his anxiety attacks are a sign that he is one of them and that his body can operate at a much higher metabolic rate when required.

Wesley eventually accepts his destiny and joins The Fraternity, eschewing his past life, job and girlfriend, but things are not as straightforward as he thinks and perhaps Fate has played him a twisted hand!

Wanted is based on the comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones and as such a certain amount of belief suspension has to be taken for granted. These assassins have what amounts to super powers and they do what they do at the orders of Fate itself. None of how all this is possible is explained so don't try to fathom it out as you never will.

As for the movie, it's a roller-coaster ride of high-speed action that delivers on pretty much everything it tries to be. MacAvoy is excellent as the anxiety-ridden, downtrodden and frustrated office worker character and just as believable as the super-charged assassin he gets turned into. Morgan Freeman is, as ever, the consumate manipulator and Angelina Jolie adds the much needed female touch to this testosterone enriched plot. Not that Fox is anyone's fluffy bunny and she's just as lethal as any of them.

Wanted has been compared to The Matrix and there are parallels between Wesley and Neo and those characters' path from ordinary Joe to super-hero as well as the link between Trinity and Fox. The special effects are very well done and there are some excellent shots of bullets curving through space and colliding in mid air, a traing crashing over a bridge and of course, the exploding rats.

Wanted is a brainless action romp that's very watchable. It has enough pace to keep you wanting to see where it's going and a bit of a twist in the tale as well. Worth catching if you like action movies.

Genre: Action, Thriller
My Rating: 7/10