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All reviews - Movies (29) - TV Shows (1) - Books (17) - Games (6)

I feel for the tree that gave its life for this

Posted : 7 years, 7 months ago on 22 January 2010 10:47 (A review of The Geeks' Guide to World Domination: Be Afraid, Beautiful People)

Lets be honest, I love nonfiction, I thrive on information and interesting facts, so the Geek's guide sounded like the perfect treat for me. Sadly after just ten minutes I had completed the book and was disappointed to the core. No I'm not the fastest speed reader around, rather I already knew large chunks of this book from my youth. For example there is a whole page given over to making shadow puppets with your hands, no not clever shadows of Yoda or Harry Potter, I'm talking really old pre-school shapes such as a bird. Honestly its so hard to explain how dire this book is.

A book aimed at geeks or at least geeks in training, I'd expect some very powerful modern stuff, or even interesting twists to history such as can be found in 'An Underground Education', but this book is merely a collection of puzzles from Samuel Loyd's books (and he died back in 1911) so you get an idea of just how dated parts of this book are and others are ripped off from other easily available information sources. Some information I learnt as a child and still consider to be part of childhood, a few pages are from a scientific encyclopedia and there's a page of sixteen text message abbreviations (OMG). Oh, and remember english spelling lessons 'i before e except after c...' and all that? Well I do, and its also in here. This review took longer to complete than this book, honestly there really isn't anything new or interesting in this title, which is such a terrible shame.

I cannot recommend this rubbish, its simply a waste of pulp, no good even as toilet paper - truly dire.


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No Intelligent Life

Posted : 7 years, 8 months ago on 14 December 2009 08:18 (A review of Planet 51)

Planet 51 is the animated tale of man's arrival on an alien planet, which showed no signs of intelligent life, but they were wrong, very wrong. The world is not only inhabited, the entire culture is that of 1950s America - if only everything hovered back then. After planting the flag in someone's backyard U.S. astronaut Captain Charles T. Baker discovers he's not alone and promptly goes into hiding, pursued by the planets military forces and a mad scientist.

The entire movie is played strictly for laughs, but the humour is quite forced. To keep the nerds happy there are hundreds of other movie references to spot. I knew what to expect but was still disappointed, if you liked 'Monsters Vs Aliens', then you will equally enjoy this movie.


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OK but not great

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 10 September 2009 08:58 (A review of District 9)

Missed ‘Alien Nation’ and its arrival of an Alien slave ship on Earth the first time round? Well the good news is that this is almost a remake, that is if the Aliens landed in South Africa and were more insectoid in appearance. District 9 is partially filmed in that terrible Cloverfield/documentary style, so you learn from the start that key figures survive and life doesn’t change too much in the future – like the perfect episode of a TV series (always end the way you start). This slow start and documentary style lessens the potential tension, but does make the story a little more believable.

In this movie Aliens come to Earth and instead of making us think about our place in the universe, or changing the world for the better, nothing changes and we treat them terribly, putting them into refugee camps that quickly deteriorate and then move them on to the inhabitable suburbs.

As it’s filmed as a documentary for a major part, and no one shows any glimmer of humanity, it’s hard to feel anything for the lead character, even when circumstances forces the lead to confront his prejudices.

There is a little bit of action and a large fire-fight for those that like their science fiction hollow and full of explosions, but don’t expect too much of that either. If this film was made during apartheid, it would have been impressive, but now its just depressing. A very predictable and lacklustre movie, but it still rates higher than most, simply because so much poor quality sci-fi has been produced!


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The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330 review

Posted : 7 years, 12 months ago on 26 August 2009 09:37 (A review of The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330)

This is an excellent non-fiction title that I cannot recommend highly enough. It is the first biography that reveals not only Sir Roger Mortimer's career as a feudal lord, a governor of Ireland, a rebel leader and a dictator of England but goes into the truth of what may have happened to the deposed King of England (King Edward II). To say this is just a biography may give the wrong impression, implying that its just boring historical facts and dates, it isn’t. Although historically accurate, the story of Sir Roger Mortimer is suitable for a blockbuster movie, with a great rise to power, the loss of everything, an escape from the Tower of London, becoming the lover of the King’s wife, invading England and removing Edward II in the first deposition of a monarch in British history. Even when ruling England for three years the tale doesn’t loose pace with absolute power clearly corrupting absolutely. I won’t ruin the ending, but if you know your English history you already may know it. It is also important to point out that with such a life, this book could also easily become some romanticised Hollywood version of history in which knights wear shining armour and the smell of old sweat and urine isn’t present, but all credit to the author he keeps it real and ensures a historical context is provided, so you don’t need to know your history to really enjoy this book or get a true sense of actually witnessing events. This isn’t a quick read book however with four hundred pages and small print needed to cram in one interesting life story, but equally it isn’t a book you’ll put down until entirely read. Anyone interested in non-fiction, history or just a thumping good tale will enjoy this book - I certainly did.


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The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330 review

Posted : 7 years, 12 months ago on 26 August 2009 09:36 (A review of The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330)

This is an excellent non-fiction title that I cannot recommend highly enough. It is the first biography that reveals not only Sir Roger Mortimer's career as a feudal lord, a governor of Ireland, a rebel leader and a dictator of England but goes into the truth of what may have happened to the deposed King of England (King Edward II).

To say this is just a biography may give the wrong impression, implying that its just boring historical facts and dates, it isn’t. Although historically accurate, the story of Sir Roger Mortimer is suitable for a blockbuster movie, with a great rise to power, the loss of everything, an escape from the Tower of London, becoming the lover of the King’s wife, invading England and removing Edward II in the first deposition of a monarch in British history.

Even when ruling England for three years the tale doesn’t loose pace with absolute power clearly corrupting absolutely. I won’t ruin the ending, but if you know your English history you already may know it. It is also important to point out that with such a life, this book could also easily become some romanticised Hollywood version of history in which knights wear shining armour and the smell of old sweat and urine isn’t present, but all credit to the author he keeps it real and ensures a historical context is provided, so you don’t need to know your history to really enjoy this book or get a true sense of actually witnessing events.

This isn’t a quick read book however with over four hundred pages and small print used throughout to cram in one very interesting life story, but equally it isn’t a book you’ll put down until entirely read either. Anyone interested in non-fiction, history or just a thumping good tale will enjoy this book - I certainly did.


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Mufti Mob

Posted : 8 years ago on 25 July 2009 02:34 (A review of The League of Gentlemen)

When I first began to write a review of this movie, I compared it to The Italian Job and other 'lovable criminal' type of movies that have been made since. At first I thought this wasn’t fair on such an old film, but then I discovered that even back in the sixties, when this movie was first released, this was already considered an overworked genre.

So how does it compare, well being so dated certainly gives it an advantage in some respects. It has a stellar cast – even Oliver Reed makes an uncredited appearance, as an effeminate chorus boy. Acting is superb for the period and characters are well developed, if a little stereotypical. The script is also an absolute joy, there are a few humorous moments too, but none of them are played just for laughs. The humour is very subtle and sharp. One in-joke is about the Bank that co-funded this film; when contemplating the bank robbery ex-Major Race worries, "I do hope he hasn't the National Provincial in mind. They're being awfully decent to me at the moment."

As with many bank robbery movies, it starts with the gang members being brought together, each with his own unique skill set, all gained in Army Service. Their individual invitations are attached to a mystery novel and half of a £5 note, to appeal to the sense of greed (£5 back then was worth something)! So the league of gentlemen consists entirely of ex-servicemen, each with his own chequered past, making them a formidable team. It is an ingenious start and gets you quickly into the movie. Does the Bank Raid happen? What becomes of the "league of gentlemen"? Well you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.


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Telling Stories

Posted : 8 years ago on 25 July 2009 01:11 (A review of The Night Listener)

If you’re into action movies, or expect Robin Williams to be in any way funny, then please give this one a miss. If however you like serious movies and aren’t ignorant/homophobic, this is a thriller well worth watching in the dark.

This film focuses on Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams), a storyteller with a national late-night radio show, who is suffering from writers block. Trying to provide the spark Gabriel needs, his literary agent provides him with a manuscript that will be published shortly. Its not easy reading, the manuscript is a detailed account of the prolonged sexual abuse a young boy suffered at the hands of his own parents and their friends. Wanting to know more Gabriel develops a friendly phone relationship with the fourteen-year-old boy now suffering from AIDs, but all is not what it seems.

This is an old fashioned thriller in the truest sense, not a horror or action flick. Sadly the trailer is far too fast paced to do this movie justice, and I cannot give anything away or it will ruin the movie experience for you.

If you liked One Hour Photo, this won’t disappoint. The whole movie is a slow burner, very dark and atmospheric, and as such it really needs to be viewed in the dark to be appreciated.


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Blue Red & Yellow

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 21 June 2009 05:38 (A review of Winnie the Pooh Colours)

Teach your child basic primary colours with winnie-the-pooh illustrations by E.H.Shepard. This board book covers red, blue, yellow and the colours they can make in various combinations (green, purple and orange). A very basic book with not much to look at, but for classic Pooh fans, will that make a difference? My only gripe about this book is the order in which it deals with each colour. Orange, and how to make it, comes before readers have learnt about yellow, which is odd. Still a helpful book for young readers learning to paint with primary colours.


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Toy time

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 21 June 2009 09:34 (A review of Fun and Play (Words & Pictures))

Young children love spotting and naming things, so this first words and pictures book aims to provide readers with sixty-four 'everyday' images. That said, the choice of images and objects used is a really weird mix. For example, I wonder how many Wizards will a child see everyday? Animals aren't everyday pets, nor are they real, instead photographs of toys are used and they aren't the same type either. Camel, Hippo and Zebra are hard plastic toys and as such are well defined, whilst Lion, Tiger, Monkey, Gorilla and Giraffe are cheap plush toys. With so much better competition in the first words/picture category this isn't a book I'd recommend.


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There's no such thing as a Gruffalo

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 16 June 2009 09:59 (A review of The Gruffalo)

Aimed at 3-5 year olds, I cannot recommend this book highly enough to all parents. It has wonderful illustrations throughout, lovely paced rhymes, which even younger children will enjoy listening too and at its heart a lovely tale of the small but very cleaver mouse, who manages to outwit all the other animals of the forest, which would otherwise eat him up. This timeless book will remain in your library forever for good reason – classic!


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