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Intelligent and insightful mobile movie reviews: the Empire Movie Guide app

Mel Martin

Empire is a venerable British movie magazine that has amassed quite a library of film reviews since it was first published more than 20 years ago. Their reviews tend to be aimed at the enthusiastic film buff, rather than academics. I have always found the reviews entertaining and a worthwhile read.

Now, the entire Empire archive has come to the iPhone and iPod touch with the Empire Movie Guide [iTunes link]. The US$4.99, 8.9 MB app puts all of the reviews on your phone without need for a data connection. As a nice bonus, Empire grabs the most recently published reviews over the air when you are connected and launch the app.

The Empire app contains about 9,000 reviews, searchable by actor, director, genre, writers, or release dates. Want to share the reviews with friends? Empire allows sharing via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

If a movie or soundtrack is available in the iTunes store, the review provides a purchase link. The Empire Movie Guide won't help you find movie times or locations, but it does put a library of well-written reviews in your hand.

I have a few nits to pick. First, some movies are just plain missing from the list of reviews. This summer's Inglorious Basterds is nowhere to be found, although several older movies by 'Basterds' director Quentin Tarantino were listed. It's helpful to be able to search the Empire Movie Guide by the genre of a movie, but odd that specific genres like historical films are left out. The list of directors, actors, and writers is sorted by first name, which is a bit strange. However, it's possible to search the entire database by typing in the full name of the person you're searching for.

Finally, 9,000 movies is really not a big chunk of our film history. The $2.99 Leonard Maltin Movie Guide [iTunes link] has more than 24,000 film reviews, and of course the free IMDB app [iTunes link} has listings for more than a million films and TV shows, with links to many reviews.

Having said all that, I like the Empire Movie Guide app. It is easy to use, provides reviews that are unavailable elsewhere, and is sure to please movie completists. The publishers need to make sure that the guide is updated with current films. Avatar made it into the reviews, but there are other new titles that are missing in action.

To whet your appetite for the Empire Movie Guide app, be sure to check out the screen shots in the gallery below.

Gallery: Empire Movie Guide | 3 Photos

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