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    • Vegetarian / Recipe / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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      23.09.2014 11:25

      Advantages

      • "good Pasta dinner"

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      • none

      simple Pasta dinner

      All right,You need two enormous onions. You require a pound
      of linguini.whatever. You might get more expensive in case you would like, some red pepper, plus some garlic, and a small olive oil, and these in and that i might place I simply saw them at the shop.
      Ok, and this is one way you need to cut up your two onions this onion,.
      In the event that you'll, the stalk and one cut side end first, and after that cut it apart lengthwise.
      Get that paper away, after which you need to cut on it merely parallel using bottom and the top,
      Super- and then get one of these small rainbows of onion piece, beautiful. All right,So we get each one of these chopped up, we will begin caramelizing them. It appears like lots of onions, but it is likely to reduce by about half in quantity by the time we are done with all the caramelization. I will add three or two tablespoons of olive oil. I'm then likely to set the onions
      in. So I'm going to add a bit of salt, perhaps like half a teaspoon. I did not place that on the ingredients list formerly. Now, we are simply going to leave that and allow it to do its thing. That is fine.
      All right, so that is the way i will not make plain,small citrus sections for salads. I believe they've been called suprens.
      Cut the ends off. We are planning to pare it using the knife. I mean attempt, and utilizing the knife
      That is the way that actually makes them taste bitter. So when you get all that out, they will be really fairly sweet. All right, now I'm really going to cut them into small sections.
      The membrane lines can be seen, and what exactly you would like to do is cut either side.
      So you only get this particular amazing small and you entirely cut the membrane outside section put it. It gets somewhat tricky towards the finish. All right,
      That last one ,I'm simply going to squeeze the remainder with this . It is not rather safe.
      So we'll simply set this and I am likely to stir my onions.
      Truly astounding and excellent and brownish. The likely need another 15 minutes roughly. So I do believe I'll proceed and begin my water. In case your beloved is they, and late Then you just have to wait until your lover arrives, to cook the pasta. The onions are done guy.
      I'm going to put a couple cloves of garlic in that I chopped up. Stir then, and up
      add in certain wine!it is tasty! Okay, and then
      You are able to scrape on the small burny bits off the underside, and I'm going to let that go And get a bit was cooked by the garlic.
      In the meantime I'm going to cut this pepper up I have purchased that I've never
      If it by chance does not then screw it, and like it'd not go bad in here, but it could be a new creation.
      I simply cut up small rings because I think that that it'll look real pretty. It is like a really light poblano flavor, so that may not be bad. I would like to place it
      And throw them in afterwards, and cut up that is also for the pasta, and a hand filled with parsley.
      All right, this can be everything. I've got some reddish leaf lettuce that is washed and torn up into little bits. We've some salt, some olive oil, our lovely suprens, and these hearts that are just
      They can be like small, palm trees I guess' interior. In case you get
      Imagine, because ones still seem adorable, yet it does not matter.
      That is what ones look like, and occasionally you may do that and then you've got that. Is not
      that adorable? So throw a couple on, and I'm gonna put a few of these little beauties on.

      For the dressing, and all right I'm going to set a bit of olive oil and together with the rest of the juice that is like a teaspoon or so and some salt, perhaps just in this bowl. That was then, and disgusting, sorry only mix that up until we are prepared to serve these in the fridge, and we'll place them, and we'll pour the dressing on after.
      There's some liquid in the underside. I'm going to go ahead and place in the artichoke
      The unusual peppers that I chose to add now and also hearts, stir that merely and about let Only combine it about.
      Of bits since I like it hot. I will place in certain salt after throw in the pasta.
      Minute roughly, therefore it all will not stick together in clumps that are giant because that is unappetizing,
      And it is prepared in 12 to 14 minutes.

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    • More +
      23.09.2014 10:11
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Good Sized Bottle"
      • "Smells Nice"
      • Cheap

      Disadvantages

      • None

      Lovely Raspberry Kisses

      I have used Alberto Balsam hair products since I was a teenager as they produce shampoos and conditioners that retail at a cheap price but which are of a good quality. This Sun Kissed Raspberry caught my eye in the supermarket recently and it was one of the biggest bottles available for less than one pound.

      The product comes in a 400ml sized bottle which, as mentioned, cost me less than a pound. I have never seen these shampoos or conditioners priced at more than £1.20 but they are usually only £1 so they are a real bargain.

      The Sun Kissed Raspberry variety is for normal/dry hair and the shampoo is recommended to be used in tandem with the conditioner of the same range, although this is not essential.

      Since I last used the brand they have had a little change in the bottle design. They now have a press down top which pushes up the dispensing nozzle. You then click it back in place after use. This is a handy feature and possibly more secure than the previous flip style tops. I would definitely feel safer carrying this design in my holiday luggage than the previous bottle.

      The brand state that the shampoo "cleanses" and "moisturises" and also mention that the formula is infused with pro-vitamin B5 which has strengthening qualities. On the label on the back of the bottle the brand make a big point about how their ingredients are virtually the same as much more expensive brands, and that they are just as good. I tend to agree!

      The shampoo is a delicate pink colour and has the sweetest,most delicious raspberry fragrance. It's a feminine fragrance and I think it would appeal to girls, teens and ladies of all ages.

      The shampoo is easy to work into the hair and I don't need to use very much to create a thick lather. I like the way it feels when I'm massaging the foam into my scalp as it feels like I'm getting a good deep clean without the shampoo being too harsh on my hair.

      The shampoo rinses out easily and when all the bubbles are gone you can still smell the strong raspberry scent in your hair. This remains after you have dried your hair too. Using the conditioner in the same range makes the scent even stronger.

      The shampoo cleans well, removing any hair products from the shaft of my hair, getting rid of any mild dandruff, taking away the oiliness from the roots whilst giving me moisture at the ends of my hair. My scalp and hair feel really good after using this product.

      I will definitely buy this again and would recommend to others. You get a good experience and result for something that costs so little.

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    • pcspecialist.co.uk / Online Shop / 2 Readings / 1 Rating
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      23.09.2014 09:51
      Not Helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "excellent quality/price ratio"

      Disadvantages

      Excellent quality/price

      I have been using this laptop for some months.
      I was a bit skeptical because I had to buy from the UK and I live in Italy.
      So far it has been working very well.
      In my view Pcspecialist offers a great value for money.

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    • ebay.co.uk / Auction / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      23.09.2014 09:49
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "good platform to shop online"

      Disadvantages

      • "too long to get your item"

      ebay,your shopping way

      hi today I am talking about shopping on e-bay ,since I do a lot of shopping on eBay,because it's the best value for me being in UK.

      I thought that this is actually a pretty good idea and I will I'll do the review, so in terms of shopping on eBay, I do a lot of my shopping on eBay because it's a lot cheaper I generally find that when I shop on eBay I pay thirty to fifty per day for things like makeup and beauty products,so a lot of times on go to the store to swatch what I need to swatch if it's available for swatching and look at the items and then go and look at the exact same item on eBay and then buy it on ebay, but seriously if I can save 30 to 50 percent on something I'm buying I'm do that because it's a significant amount of money and that works for me, so go through and talk about what I do in terms of shopping on eBay and the kinds of things that I look out for so first of all keeping on the percentage of positive ratings for the seller.
      I trying to make sure that the sellers that I use all have a rating all ninety-nine point three percent or higher and on top of that I also make sure that I checked the number of ratings:
      as well as the percentage ratings because I don't buy from a seller whose only got maybe 30 or 40 ratings or a couple hundred ratings ,I would rather buy from a seller who has a few thousand ratings because it means that they're an established seller,they've been around a lot longer and they sold a lot more products and have a high positive rating from the number of products which just gives me a sense of comfort.

      I go on to eBay and I search for things that I want and I don’t buy them right away because you know I'm always hearing about things that I might be interested in or their new things coming out or I'm just not quite prepared to buy it at that time because I don't want to spend the money on everything ,so I put them on my watchlist , I do search and if I'm interested in I put them on my watch list,if its a product that matches what I want and based on my criteria the product in the cellar,so on my watch list I go and I check every now and then every couple days every few days and see what's going on my watch list and go through my watchlist .My Watchlist is huge and the great thing about that is that I can keep an eye on it and every now and then a seller would have a sale on,they would take five percent or 10 percent or 20 percent of the product
      that they're selling and when they do that that's a really good thing and because it's already you know a heckuva lot cheaper than the store and then when they have another for the discount it makes it even cheaper and jump on to make sure that I get the deals & bargains that way and the other thing that's really important because I live in UK and most the
      seller's are overseas is shipping From China,Hong Kong Korea Japan for free,which is fantastic
      It is really really good to see a lot of items particularly the makeup drugstore items
      that come up that I get come from the US and the shipping tends to be a bit more expensive usually it's about six to seven dollars an item I've seen it as high as nine dollars an item
      I would not go above 9 dollars each item but the other thing I make sure to check his
      whether they have combined shipping or not so you always wanted to know that the seller you're buying from has combined shipping,because usually if that's the case then the second item is only an extra dollar are an extra dollar 50 or two dollars for shipping and you know it really becomes worth it if you buy more than one item occasionally you might find that there is
      one item that you want and its you know the shipping nine dollars and you think okay I can live with that,it depends entirely on how much you would have to pay in this store where you are if you buy it in the store and you wanted to save money.
      so you know you need to weigh up your decisions about shipping and whether you
      you do combine shipping or whether you buy more than one item or whether he can
      live with the shipping or not and make that decision that way is it cheaper still after you pay for shipping and it is still cheaper after you pay for shipping then for by all means go and get I'm because the whole point of shopping on eBay is not only for you to find things the cannot normally find in stores where you are but also to pay for less for it,which is always a good thing so the other thing you want to check
      is whether the seller if you ever communicate with them have good communications do they respond quickly generally because their overseas allow 24 hours for them to respond
      normally the seller's that I contact tend to respond overnight and they tend to be really really good most them are really nice people they're really friendly,they're really helpful I've only had one difficult situation with the seller which all talk about later
      and explain how that worked out for me.

      So I place an order of one item,and I waited and waited and waited and I think I waited about forty days and the item never showed up and so I opened a resolution ,I' can’t remember what it was called at item on eBay and then the seller got really upset and was all know why did you open it up in the resolution said why you should not have contacted me and I was like yeah I
      contacted you and you just kept telling me to wait for but it never showed up
      and he made his big deal about shipping and tracking and refusing to put a tracking number and then putting in tracking number on it and and it was just really really painful and so in the end I and he said oh well if you contacted us then you know we could have sent you a replacement I said I don't wanna replacement because I don't trust you and I don't trust the way you shipping the item for it to actually reach me so i just wanna refund
      and fortunately because I had open the item
      I think the paypal to be resolved,I didn't get eighty refund fairly,you know fairly quickly but there was a lot of emails going backwards and forwards and the whole process was just really really
      painful with this one particular seller but I shopping on eBay for a really really long time
      and I only had this one encounter with the difficult seller and
      that seller was I think the name was perfume bears or is something like that so
      that was the that was that one incident and of course I'm never buying from them again and i ended up giving them a neutral feedback I didn't give them positive feedback and then give them a negative feedback I felt that a neutral feedback was fair because I didn't get my item it was difficult to deal with them but I still didn't get a full refund for my entire transaction.
      I'm so happy with that,so generally if there's an issue a you want to communicate with the seller first and send a message first via eBay rather than you know immediately opening a resolution issue resolution a thing on Pay Pal or on e-bay just to see how they they respondent they react and if it doesn't work or whatever it is.

      So be happy with on ebay.

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    • 2001: A Space Odyssey (DVD) / DVD / 1 Reading / 1 Rating
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      23.09.2014 09:48
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Daring and different"
      • "Groundbreaking visual effects"
      • "Breathtaking cinematography"
      • "TERRIFIC use of classical music"

      Disadvantages

      • "Long and lengthy"
      • "Somewhat disjointed structure (with a VERY strange ending)"
      • "May be too slow going and tedious for some."

      A considerably controversial but daring and experimental "space opera" from an eccentric filmmaker.

      Undeniably bold, ambitious, and daring, Stanley Kubrick's galactic opera 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY initially divided both critics and audiences but has since earned a place in film history as one of cinema's greatest achievements.

      In many ways, the film is deserving of that spot. The use of classical music (sparsely; there are lengthy scenes where there are no music) is one of its greatest assets, and the rich cinematography brings out the detail in every shot. The special effects also deserve a shout-out. Even for being made in 1969, they still look fantastic today, particularly the miniature shots of a spacecraft landing on the moon. The extensive "journey of the mind" scene toward the end, a literal kaleidoscope of rushing lights, color, and positive/negative imagery, is also mind-blowing. Dialogue is used rather sparingly, too; we never hear a line uttered until about 25 minutes into the picture, and the last quarter is completely silent. Then there are the fateful scenes between astronauts David Bowman, Frank Poole, and their computer "companion", HAL 9000 (voiced by an amusingly appropriate deadpan baritone named Douglas Rain), which is the stuff of great drama and tension.

      The film doesn't follow a particular story arc either; it's just four sections of different scenarios which are somehow "linked" by a mysterious monolith that appears out of nowhere. The film intentionally spares viewers information about said monolith, instead allowing the visuals to provide an interpretation.

      On the flip side, though, 2001 may not be for everyone because the film features literally no face-paced action. It moves at an EXTREMELY languid pace, which, if you are the impatient type, may prove to be tough to sit through. The film's seemingly disconnected four acts also causes the structure of the movie to feel disjointed. After a powerful, tympani-crashing overture via "Also Sprach Zarathustra", we are transported first to a barren landscape of apes who grunt, bound, and smash bones across the screen with manic glee. After about twenty minutes of this, we go from an animal bone flying in midair to a space station orbiting the moon (set, rather ingeniously, to the strains of Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube"). This is followed by the longest sequence in the movie — the scenes aboard the ship Discovery. Although these three stories don't seem to have any major link to the narrative, this latter thread, which involves topics like human (and machinery!) error, suspicion, betrayal, murder, and sacrifice is arguably the "meatiest" of the three, mainly because its impact is arguably stronger than the preceding two acts. After wrapping itself up, we are then "treated" to an extremely long finale that defies explanation. After a seemingly never-ending flight through the aforementioned dazzling lights of colors we find ourselves in what appears to be the room of an elegant mansion. But is it REALLY our time? The exotic, alienesque grunts of György Ligeti's experimental "Adventures" implies that it could very well be an "extra-terrestrial"'s "prison." Again, however, we are given no explanation, instead being "asked" to make the conclusion ourselves.

      All of this makes 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY difficult to recommend to a casual viewer who would typically go after something "mainstream," but having said it still is mandatory viewing for cinema enthusiasts, because its strong parts are very creative and unlike anything we'll ever see in the movies again. Its technical credits across the board are top-notch, the performances by everyone involved are well done, and as mentioned, the music is fantastic and put to great use. The fact that it's experimental and different than what you might expect also makes it stand out. Note, however, that it takes an extreme amount of patience to sit through this movie.

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    • More +
      23.09.2014 09:44
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Glides on easily"

      Disadvantages

      • "Staying power is appalling"

      A Lipstick That Lasts for Minutes!

      Review of Avon Ultra Colour Rich Rubies Lipstick

      Avon is well known in the United Kingdom and the company has been popular for many years. Avon was one of the first direct sell companies to become a household name. Older readers will no doubt recall the 1960's advertising campaign which involved the ringing doorbell and the cheery 'Avon Calling' sales rep. Products can be ordered via an Avon representative who will provide a brochure for you to choose form or from the company website.

      ==**The Lipstick**==

      This lipstick is a traditional stick type lipstick and it is enriched with moisturiser to hydrate lips. The lipstick is available in many different shades ranging from barely there nudes through to deeper plummy red tones. The lipstick has a glossy finish. The colour I have in front of me is called ‘Fuchsia Fame', and as the name implies it is deep pink shade.
      The packaging is simple, a plastic tube with the twist up mechanism encased inside a silver coloured metal. It is an understated, classic lipstick case design. It looks quite classy in spite of having the Avon logo printed on it.
      I have been a customer of Avon on and off for many years and used to be an Avon rep myself, but have to admit that Avon is not my favourite brand of cosmetics. I purchased from my niece’s Avon brochure in order to help her out, she sometimes struggles to make her targets and of course if she doesn’t reach a certain figure of sales, receives no commission making her efforts go unpaid. When this happens I and other family members take a look at the book and try to place an order. This lipstick was one of my selections and based on previous experience of Avon lipsticks, I did not hold out any great expectations for it as I have not always been 100% satisfied with Avon cosmetics in the past.
      This particular lipstick was purchased at the same time as another lipstick, a Matte finish which I was quite pleased with. Price wise, this retails for around £8, although mine was purchased with other items as part of a promotion.
      The lipstick colour looks good in the tube; it is a warm pink with a hint of shine. It glides on very easily, leaving lips feeling moisturised. This is where the positives end I’m afraid!
      I found the depth of colour very disappointing, I felt it was more like a tinted lip balm than a lipstick and in order to build up the colour I needed several coats of lipstick. The texture is just too soft, in fact to the point of being rather greasy feeling. The lipstick glides on easily and glides off just as quickly. For staying power, this has to be the worst lipstick I have ever encountered. I lost count of how many touch-ups were needed!

      ==**My Thoughts and Conclusion**==
      Of course much depends on skin type when it comes to cosmetics and what suits one person may not necessarily suit another but this lipstick is truly awful and in my opinion would be expensive at £1, let alone £8. I have relegated this lipstick to the bottom of my makeup drawer and I feel its next outing will be to the dustbin. A complete waste of money and I’m just pleased I did not pay full price for it.
      This is one I would have no hesitation in recommending others to avoid!

      Thank you for reading

      ©brittle1906 September 2014

      N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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    • More +
      23.09.2014 09:27
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Richard Moll and Simon MacCorkindale's turns"
      • "Lively music score"

      Disadvantages

      • "Stupid plot twists"
      • "Sloppy editing"
      • "Uninteresting characters"
      • "Cheesy VFX"
      • "Terrible acting and dialogue"
      • "Excessively gory and grisly"

      Uninspired, silly, and needlessly bloody fantasy dreck.

      Fantasy movies from the early 1980s, with few exceptions, varied mostly from run of the mill mediocre to painfully bad. Albert Pyun's THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, a bargain-basement budgeted, uninspired, and messy bloodfest from 1982, falls among the lowest end of the spectrum. Clocking in at a seemingly neverending 100 minutes, it starts out when medieval tyrant King Cromwell (Richard Lynch), on a quest for world domination, resurrects a centuries-old sorcerer, Xusia (Richard Moll, in heavy lizardlike makeup) to conquer the tranquil kingdom of Eh-Dan. Ten years later, Talon (Lee Horseley), a prince who escaped the invasion, leads a band of mercenaries to liberate conquered kingdoms. In the process, he returns to his old home of Eh-Dan, where rightful heir Mikah (Simon MacCordinkale) and his voluptuous sister Alana (Kathleen Beller), are plotting to overthrow Cromwell, who, incidentally, has plans to marry the lass. When Mikah is kidnapped, Alana desperately hires Talon to rescue him; he agrees to do so on the condition that they have a lovemaking session should he succeed. Oh, and incidentally, Xusia (who had been betrayed by Cromwell) is also planning to settle the score with his former ally, spending about a good portion of the last third disguised as a shady court advisor, Mahelli (George Maharis). (This last plot development is handled clumsily and in a groanworthy way, as is much of the movie.)

      Taken as a plot concept, THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER sounds fairly uninspired, but it's even worse in its execution. The simplistic plot becomes needlessly convoluted as it bounces all over the place, throwing in lots of unexplained and abrupt developments that come from nowhere — if Cromwell needed Xusia to conquer Eh-Dan, then why does he stab and then throw him over a cliff shortly after smashing a few armies? There are lots of unexplained stupidities, too, particularly in the hero's weapon, which, at the touch of a button, can send one of its *three* — count 'em, THREE — blades spearing through an enemy like a projectile; furthermore, at the laughably choreographed final showdown between the villain and the hero, we discover that the sword can opt as an alternate dagger in the event that it is shattered in close combat. That is only one of the many scripting problems contained in this movie.

      It's poorly edited, too, particularly the hero's first combat scene with two villains. All the shots in that moment are spliced completely out of order, making it a very choppy and confusing flow. Another particular example of bad editing occurs when a group of rebels makes plans to invade Cromwell's castle, and the next shot shows them all in prison! This is done with no transition or explanation, that it makes it mystifying how they got there.

      What ultimately works against THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER overall, however, is the excess of gory violence (one person's face is sliced in half with bloody results, another's heart is ripped out of her chest, and a tongue is cut out) and occasional nudity (the hero swings into a room with topless babes, and in another scene the leading lady is given an oil bath). These two controversial elements can be put to effective use in masterpieces like PAN'S LABYRINTH (lots of horrifying violence, but done in a meaningful way) or, perhaps in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (par for the course with the original pulp novels it was based on). Here, however, both are slapped onto this film for no other apparent reason than just violence and nudity for the mere sake of it. In one particularly distasteful sequence, we see the hero spiked onto a cross, bleeding painfully during the main villain's wedding. Not only did I find this a blasphemous and tasteless echo of Christ's crucifixion, I found it even more ridiculous (and sickening) that Talon would have the gall to yank himself free of the device.

      Even without these problems, there's hardly anything to recommend about THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER. The characterizations are mono-dimensional and uninteresting, the acting and the dialogue are terrible (Moll does get some points for being at least scary, even though he has little to do in his surprisingly scanty role, as does MacCordinkale, who does a decent job), and the direction is very amateurish and clumsy. The special effects are also pretty cheesy, particularly the aforementioned sword and especially in a corny transformation scene toward the end of the film where a character literally pulls apart his human skin to reveal a demonic creature. The only thing to come clean out of this dreck is a lively musical score by David Whittaker as well as Moll and MacCordinkale's performances, but otherwise, the movie as a whole is little more than standard junk for undemanding fans of this kind of trashy fantasy.

      When it's all over, just before the credits roll, there is a comment made that the hero will have further adventures in an upcoming film called "Tales of the Ancient Empire." It's a wonder it took more than 20 years for that to happen, but frankly, if the quality of this movie is any indication, it's not worth it.

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    • More +
      23.09.2014 09:22
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "not expensive to keep"
      • "easy to keep"
      • "fairly easy to handle"
      • "very cute looking"

      Disadvantages

      • "some won't tolerate handling"
      • "nocturnal so hide during the day"

      I love these cute little reptiles.

      Crested Geckos also known as New Caledonian Crested Gecko’s or Eyelash Geckos is part of the reptile family. They have a crest around their eyes which resembles eye lashes and these crests go down either side of their back to their tail. Their head is a wedge shape and they have gorgeous eyes. They don’t have eyelids to actually use their long tongues to moisten their eyes and to also help remove debris and dirt. They have four legs and each foot has 5 toes to it. Their feet have small claws on the end which helps them to climb and their feet also feel slightly sticky which helps them to climb as well. Their long tail can also help them to climb as well. You may see some gecko’s which don’t have tails and this is because they drop their tails when threatened or in danger. This does not grow back but it shouldn’t affect the gecko itself.

      Me and my boyfriend currently have 6 Gecko’s although these are not all housed together due to being different ages, sex and sizes.

      These Gecko’s are relatively easy to look after and they eat powdered food which you can buy from most pet shops and various places online. This stays in their terrarium and should be changed every 2 days. You can feed your gecko some pureed fruit, although it can’t be anything citrus and it can’t contain banana as this could potentially lead to health problems. You can find a list of suitable foods on the internet.

      Geckos like places to hide in their terrarium and they also like plants (real of fake) so they can climb and hide and crawl in between the leaves and vines. It’s important to also have a bowl of fresh water for them to drink from and this needs to be changed every day. Geckos like hiding places and they also like to climb so bear this in mind when choosing things for their terrariums.

      Gecko’s can jump a fair distance and they can do this suddenly which can make handling them a little awkward sometimes. Some geckos may not like to held and some might love it. Out three adult geckos don’t mind being held and we often hold them when cleaning out their terrarium every few weeks. Gecko’s do not need to be held all the time and won’t actually tolerate a lot of handling.

      Geckos are nocturnal so you may not see them out during the day as they come out more when it’s dark. We can often hear our gecko’s running and jumping round the terrarium in the evenings or when the lights are off and we are watching a film. These geckos vary in price but you can pick them up for around £50 from various different pet stores. I think these geckos make really cute pets and I can’t wait to get one more to add to our collection.




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    • More +
      23.09.2014 09:17
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "great taste"

      Disadvantages

      • "can be expensive"
      • strong

      great tasting instant coffee

      Nescafe has been around since 1938, and is a huge name in the instant coffee market, among other top brand names such as Kenco and Carte dor. Max Morgenthaler developed the Nescafe coffee for several years before perfected the recipe, and releasing it for sale in Switzerland. Since then it had grown in massive size, and is available all over the world.

      I love Nescafe, I think it has a brilliant taste to. It is strong yet not strong enough to make it unenjoyable. Now, we all enjoy a real barista style coffee, which is where the Nescafe Azera comes into play. I first saw the product in our local shop, where it was on offer for just £2 for a small 100 gram tin. It comes in a silver tin with an orange lid, which i think is a really good touch!

      The coffee is very easy to make. all you have to do is add a heaped teaspoon in a cup, ass boiling water, and milk and sugar too taste. The coffee is fairly strong, so i would not suggest it to anyone who enjoys a mild coffee, but it has a very unique taste to it. It does taste just as good as a coffee straight from the bean, but it is instant which makes life very simple.

      I love this coffee and will continue to buy it. It is cheap at £2 for a small tub, however that was on offer and may go up to its original price of £4.29, but even at that price it is a great coffee that goes down a treat! I find it to be best when made with a heaped teaspoon of coffee, caramel syrup and milk, it really is lovely with the syrup!

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    • Nikon D3200 Body / Digital Camera / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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      23.09.2014 08:16
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "good entry level camera"

      Disadvantages

      • none

      another entry level camera Nikon D3200

      Hey guys, now I am here having an overview of the Nikon D3200. With 1080p video with full manual control all in a small package and 24 megapixels this has a lot going for it but is it worth it over the D3100 or D5100??
      Taking a look round the D3200 you are able to observe that it appears quite similar to its predecessor. In case you like to check out that I have already done a complete comparison between both cameras but the gist of it's you could get strong ergonomics and build quality as you'd expect using a Nikon DSLR. Contemplating the considerably more affordable price tag it is not a surprise and really should hold up fine with regular use and it is not weather sealed although it is still made completely from plastic.
      This is a massive help when shooting in live view is much more easy with the extra clarity. There's additionally a fresh accessory you can pick up which will provide the camera Wifi capability for letting you control the camera in addition to transferring video and pictures. With 24 megapixels at your disposal there is lots of room for cropping images which provides you with lots of additional independence. In addition it also works for letting your framing to alter following the fact without losing resolution that is precious. I actually found myself enjoying shooting together with the D3200 because of this, having the ability to resolve that much detail really is notable to get a 400 pounds camera.
      compromise the low light ability but overall ISO performance is much the same to the D3100. Noise is very indistinguishable up to ISO 400 and moving up to 800 sound is still reasonably nicely maintained.

      ISO 1600 was around as large as I felt comfortable shooting, here noise is pretty observable even without cropping and colours and detail start to fade just a just a little but the documents are still functional. 3200 doesn't drop also much more detail but noise is more widespread and 6400 is really not just bad for re-sizing the pictures down for web use. You are able to enlarge the ISO to 12,800 but...well, do not try this whether you do not have to. Is in video mode, where the D3200 actually shines. I shoot on hours of video on a digital SLR a week and I've been quite pleased with the D3200. It shoots 1080p video at 30 frames-per-second or 720p at 60 frames in H.264 at around 21Mbps at 1080p. As you would expect video appears extremely quite fine from the APS-C detector with great colour and excellent depth of field. The package lens works good here although I do the majority of my shooting with excellent lenses that'll surely give better results to you. All right so I am now recording utilizing the Nikon D3200. Therefore for example while I am recording I can rise to ISO 400 or 800, I could also go right ahead and adjust my shutter speed to sort of pay for this,and again provide the ISO back off, shift the shutter speed, all of that sort of great stuff is extremely very simple to do while record. In addition to that it also comes with autofocus during video mode so if I half press the shutter, you can observe it should autofocus to the turf and then it is possible to use the D-pad in the back part of the camera to adjust wherever you would like to focus, and again we'll move ahead half press yet another time,it's not going to adjust really right here, it is not quite the best notably with the kit lens but there we go therefore rather adequate job there. Now the autofocus isn't amazing, it is definitely nice to have-but since you've to half press the shutter each moment it is not likely to be constant and as you may notice,it is a not a little bit soft. The D3200 also has a microphone port, when you're out on a shoot, which is helpful, although I personally would rather make use of outside sound it truly is a pleasant choice to have. There is a very pleasant feature you can manually adjust your audio levels together with display your amounts on screen as you record. With complete manual control on the movie,sound-in with the lowlight performance as well as degree adjusting and depth-of-field it is only one of the Nikon cameras that are most powerful for movie to date.
      Overall the Nikon D3200 is a large improvement over the already excellent D3100 and the best D-SLR. The mega-pixel count is second only in the Nikon range, a camera that costs four times as much to the D800, ISO performance is acceptable, build-quality is top notch along with the video mode is a massive advancement. For 500 pounds I may safely recommend this to anyone who's looking for an entry-level d SLR that stands right up there with the Canon T3i.

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    • More +
      23.09.2014 05:19
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "The occasional laughs"
      • "A good cast (mostly)"

      Disadvantages

      • "Noisy and shrill"
      • "Boring action scenes"
      • "Unengaging atmosphere"
      • "Incoherent plot"
      • "Completely disregards its source material"

      Video games go Hollywood -- and the results are disastrous.

      As a longtime Nintendo junkie I have to admit that the SUPER MARIO BROS. video game series is a legendary franchise. It was this platformer involving two plumbers rescuing a princess from an army of monstrous turtles (the Koopa Troopas) that single-handedly saved the video game market in 1985. The game proved popular enough to spawn multiple sequels and even a cartoon TV series (which, admittingly, is pretty dated and formulaic, but it did do a respectable job recreating the feel of the series). Given the successful reputation of SUPER MARIO BROS. as a game series, it doesn't seem surprising that a theatrical feature would be attempted. That film version premiered in the summer of 1993, and I was among those who were eager to see it.

      How could it go wrong? More importantly, how DID it go so wrong?

      For one thing, with the exception of the characters' names and a few throwaway references, SUPER MARIO BROS., the movie has absolutely nothing in common with the video game series it's based on. The production completely eschews the lighthearted, colorful atmosphere of the Mushroom Kingdom and instead slaps on a dark, fungus-covered metropolis inhabited by dinosaurs evolved (yes, I said EVOLVED) into human beings. (One figures the scriptwriters mixed up SUPER MARIO WORLD — the only game in the series to set in a dinosaur-populated environment — as the ideal atmosphere for the MARIO franchise in general.) Instead of power-up mushrooms, fireflowers, and goombas, we get a human cast of villains acting (and looking) bizarre (even the chief villain, King Koopa is disturbingly portrayed as a human), raptors, exploding flameguns, and some totally ridiculous concept called "de-evolution." The nasty goombas are transformed from puny mushroom baddies into hulking lizards, and Yoshi, the beloved dinosaur sidekick of Mario, becomes a cuddly but woefully fake-looking baby T-Rex (and get this--he's Koopa's pet!). The whole atmosphere of this "Dinohatten" is too weird, chaotic, and cold to be engaging.

      This may sound bad enough, but the movie's biggest mistake is its failure to provide anything in the way of a coherent (or compelling) narrative. The plot is a jumbled mishmash about meteorites, alternate universes, and fungus that spends too much time indulging in its own stupidity rather than offering some intelligence. The movie's action sequences should provide spark and energy, but here they come across as strangely pointless and uninvolving. Despite the clamor occurring in the scenes, the viewer feels a strange sense of detachment to the whole thing. This makes the movie as a whole a major chore to sit through, as if there aren't any duller moments to bore viewers to death (such as a slow, inactive sequence where Mario and Luigi escape from a goomba-infested elevator). Matters are not helped by the ridiculously cheesy special effects, which are so fake that they come across as laughable.

      Even the aural aspects of the movie are displeasing; the soundtrack starts out promisingly with an electronic-sounding ditty of the classic MARIO BROS. theme, but aside from that, we got a fully-orchestral score (from Alan Silvestri) which is distressingly un-MARIO like. The same is true for the throwaway rock-and-roll songs, which were obviously slapped on for commercial reasons. The overabundance of screaming and overloud sound mixing is tempting enough to make one turn the volume down.

      To its benefit, however, SUPER MARIO BROS. does support a high-quality cast — which is quite surprising given that this is hardly the kind of movie that demands one. Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo work chemistry as the brothers, even if they are nothing like their video game counterparts, and Samantha Mathis holds her own ground as the pretty Princess Daisy. Dennis Hopper's portrayal of King Koopa, on the other hand, is disappointingly uncharismatic and spends more time chewing the scenery than creating a character worth rooting against; Fiona Shaw is more effective as his dastardly secretary. All seem to take on their jobs with a good-natured attitude and do what they can with the mumbo-jumbo material.

      But even that isn't enough to qualify a good recommendation for SUPER MARIO BROS. as a movie. It's too unfaithful a recreation for MARIO fans, too noisy even for action-buffs, and too preposterous to reach a smart audience. The only "entertainment value" that comes from this movie is because of its own dubious quality. So if you want to sit through a convoluted, incomprehensible action-flick that blatantly disregards its source material, then this is the movie for you. Otherwise, SUPER MARIO BROS. is not an example of great film-making, much less adapting a video game into a movie.

      Update: I found out recently that the reason why this film turned out the way it did is because of its rather messy production period, with directors and actors clashing on set, constant rewrites, and conflicting ideas on how the film should be. It really is no wonder, as the final result clearly shows.

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    • Eragon (2 DVDs) / DVD / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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      23.09.2014 05:07
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Some good performances"
      • "Spectacular special effects"
      • "Great music"
      • "Great cinematography and production design"

      Disadvantages

      • "Not satisfying enough for a demanding audience"
      • "Uneven performances by everyone else"
      • "Undefined characters"
      • "Too fast-paced and rushed"

      Well-intentioned but flawed attempt to make another fantasy franchise.

      The genre of fantasy has always been a shaky area as far as cinema is concerned. While there were have been some truly magical (or at least entertaining) efforts such as WILLOW, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, THE DARK CRYSTAL, and THE PRINCESS BRIDE (I apologize if I forgot to mention anything else), audiences have been mostly treated to trashy dreck such as THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, DEATHSTALKER, and the DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS movie. It wasn't until the phenomenally successful theatrical releases of HARRY POTTER, the LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE that fantasy in cinema really seemed to find its peak. Perhaps because of this, other studios sought to catch the fantasy wave.

      That was certainly true of the newly released ERAGON, which, as with HP, LOTR, and CoN, is based on a popular (although not necessarily legendary) book trilogy called "Inheritence". Interestingly, the story was penned by a seventeen-year-old named Christopher Paolini, and this movie is based on the first book of his series. Unfortunately, audiences expecting the movie of ERAGON to be in the same caliber as HARRY POTTER, LOTR, or NARNIA, are bound to be disappointed, for, while the movie shows potential in many areas, it does not come anywhere near close to excellence.

      Not having read the books at all, I cannot remark on what changes have been made from the source material, so I won't make any comments about that. It has been declared, however, that the story — in which a young farm boy discovers a magical stone which turns out to be a dragon's egg, and, with the aid of an old sage and his talking dragon, aspires to overthrow a medieval tyrant and his court wizard — is a rip-off of STAR WARS and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Yet one can make the same argument about fantasy tales in general — as a huge fan of the genre I recognize that no tale is totally, 100-percent original (I could go on with comparisons on how the aforementioned HP, LOTR, and CoN all share similarities, but that's irrelevant); what ultimately matters is whether the end result is good or bad.

      For the most part, newcomer director Stefan Fangmeier handles the all-too familiar material fairly well. The movie is highlighted by beautiful cinematography, and there are many breathtaking panoramic helicopter shots and intricate production design sets that bring a fun, but underdeveloped fantasy world to life. Patrick Doyle's impressively grand music is also a plus--very epic in style and scope. As one might expect from a fantasy movie, ERAGON is loaded with special effects, and the majority of them are spectacular. Particularly noteworthy is the hero's dragon companion, an impressive beast named Saphira. As with DRAGONHEART, this purple-scaled giant — fully realized by computer-generated-imagery and a gentle, edgy voice supplied by Rachel Weisz — is the central attraction of the movie.

      Not that there aren't any good performances from the human cast in ERAGON. Jeremy Irons (who unfortunately portrayed an oh-so-over-the-top villain in the ill-fated DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS movie) is excellent as the old sagely figure, Brom, (a sort of Obi-Wan Kenobi type character) bringing both a dramatic presence and credibility to a role that would otherwise come across as cardboard cut-out. (And for those of you who dreaded him in DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, he doesn't overact here.) Just as good is Robert Carlyle as the evil wizard, Durza, a dead-on impersonation of Brad Dourif's Wormtongue in LORD OF THE RINGS.

      The film moves along at a breezy pace and is never boring — except this also proves to be one of ERAGON'S major faults. Through the movie's 98 minutes, the tangled plot comes across as very rushed; characters like a princess and a Han Solo-like rogue figure jump out of nowhere, and, as such, come across as superfluous and uninteresting. An extra thirty minutes worth of character building wouldn't have hurt. I also felt that Saphira's growth from a cuddlesome baby to a magnificent beast happened too quickly, even for a fantasy story.

      My other quibbles: newcomer Edward Speleers as young hero Eragon sticks out like a sore thumb. When he's thrust into action sequences, Speleers is decent, but for the majority of the movie he comes across as flat and emotionless (although not as much as, say, Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker in STAR WARS EPISODE II). Furthermore, John Malkovich as the real bad guy only shows up for scanty scenes, and consequently, his character never develops into anything. Because of this, I was unable to evaluate his acting to get enough of an opinion about his overall performance.

      As mentioned, it is probably unrealistic to expect every fantasy story to be totally original, and the occasional nods to STAR WARS (the hero's uncle is killed by an enemy attack, and later Brom meets a similar fate) and LORD OF THE RINGS (Durza looking down at an army of stripped-down orc imitations) don't really pose much problem. But the script doesn't do much to make the entire adventure fully satisfying for a more demanding audience. These flaws bring ERAGON down from its potential as a worthy new franchise and turn it into a fun but uninspired and too rapidly paced action flick.

      In short, ERAGON is passable although not stellar — certainly more watchable than most sword-swinging dreck, but weaker than its more superior counterparts. The movie promoted itself as the beginning of a trilogy, ending with the promise of a sequel to come. Sadly, the poor box office performance and even worse reception from the public have dampened any chances of that happening. Such is the unfortunate fate of half-finished films.

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    • Home On The Range (DVD) / DVD / 2 Readings / 1 Rating
      More +
      23.09.2014 04:59
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Practically nothing"

      Disadvantages

      • "Annoying characters"
      • "Pedestrian animation and music"

      Worst. Disney. Animated. Feature. EVER.

      HOME ON THE RANGE is rock-bottom Disney animation. It's amazing to believe the studio that produced memorable classics could turn out a movie as bad as this (yes, it's worse than HERCULES and TREASURE PLANET). The wire-thin storyline, which involves barnyard animals on the trail of an outlaw who can hypnotize animals by singing (huh?) is needlessly stretched out for 76 minutes (which is 70 minutes too long) with forced, unfunny gags, frantic but lifeless sequences and lame characterizations. The animation, usually a high point in a Disney feature, is both pedestrian and unappealing to look at. Alan Menken supplies the music, but like the movie, his tunes are banal, insepid, and unappealing, even weaker than his work for HERCULES. Failed Disney cartoons don't have to be this horrific; case in point: THE BLACK CAULDRON and ATLANTIS-THE LOST EMPIRE fell short financially and were flawed, but both movies made an attempt to be something more complex and adult-oriented than typical Disney fare (I actually liked both of those films). This film, on the other hand, is a big step backward, and the hectic, pedestrian execution ultimately cripples it. It was disheartening that this was declared at the time to be Disney's last traditionally animated feature, and even more unfortunate that they chose to go out with a flop as insidious as this. Uncle Walt would surely turn over in his grave if he found out his studio ever produced this film. Luckily, John Lasseter would salvage the Disney animation studio's reputation with better titles, as HOME ON THE RANGE, hideous as it was, proved not to be the final nail in the coffin for Disney after all. (Sadly, that title was passed onto the underrated PRINCESS AND THE FROG.) In the meantime, DON'T waste your time with HOME ON THE RANGE. Avoid it at all costs.

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    • Tangled (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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      23.09.2014 04:56

      Advantages

      • "Mother Gothel"
      • "Great music"
      • "Several beautiful scenes"

      Disadvantages

      • "Useless side characters (the bandits)"
      • "Too much comedy"
      • "Idiotic title"

      Some magical moments, but no match for Disney's better films.

      Disney animation certainly hasn't been what it used to be. After a share of mediocre to bad animated movies, they churned out an instant classic with the traditionally animated THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. But that film didn't catch on with the public as much as it should have (of course being released around the same time as the mega-super hit AVATAR didn't help matters either). Blaming the underperformance of their film on an assumption that boys were turned off by the phrase "princess", Disney decided to rename their subsequent feature, RAPUNZEL, a similar fairy tale in digital 3-D CGI. This name change is something that I still can't shake my head over. I realize the motivation was to try and attract more people, but c'mon, TANGLED? Sounds more like self-parody if you ask me!

      As expected, RAPUNZEL -- OK, OK, TANGLED -- is a very loose retelling of the famous Brother's Grimm tale. The title character is a young woman with the largest amount of golden hair imaginable shut away in a tower deep in the forest. Her only guardian is Mother Gothel, who stole the child away from her parents when she was very young. Rapunzel's hair has magic powers; it can heal cuts and make even a centuries-old being still appear young. It is for this latter reason that Gothel keeps Rapunzel captive, although of course our blonde heroine is told by her "mother" that the world is a dark and scary place and that she should stay in the tower. (If this doesn't give you echoings of Disney's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, then what will?) Of course, Rapunzel yearns to explore the outside world, namely to attend the "festival of lights" held once a year on her birthday. One day, Flynn Rider, a runaway thief who has just stolen a jeweled crown, sneaks into the tower to hide. Knocking him out cold with a frying pan, Rapunzel forces Flynn to take her to the Festival in exchange for the stolen crown. At first Flynn tries to weasel his way out of the deal, but as he falls in love with her, his motives naturally change. But Mother Gothel wants Rapunzel back at all costs....

      There are many moments when TANGLED truly shines, mainly anything involving genuine heart or magic. In the latter half of the film there is a breathtaking moment where glowing lanterns literally float up into the night sky while Rapunzel and Flynn sing the obligatory love song, "I See The Light". This is a truly colorful and imaginative sequence that ranks among the best at Disney. Similarly inspiring is when Rapunzel uses her enchanted hair to heal a cut on Flynn's hand. And the last half hour offers some powerful drama and heartbreaking emotion on the way to its happy ending (surprise).

      Arguably the triumph of the film is Mother Gothel, who ranks as one of Disney's finest villains in a long time. She has shades of Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, but there is also a little bit of Frollo from HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. She's selfish, manipulative, greedy, and deceptive in every way imaginable. The dynamic between her and Rapunzel is both one of the strongest points of the movie and reminds one of the Witch/Rapunzel relationship from Steven Sondheim's dark fairy tale musical INTO THE WOODS. In fact, Gothel's signature song, "Mother Knows Best", one of many to be written for this film by Alan Menken, is strangely reminiscent of a Sondheim song. (The score is another highlight of TANGLED; Menken's songs are very pleasing to the ear, with some emerging as true stand-outs.)

      Unfortunately TANGLED falls short of Disney classic status for the following reasons. One of them is the overemphasis on slapstick comedy for much of the first two-thirds of the film. Most of this consists of Flynn getting whacked around by Rapunzel's frying pan, comical sight gags, and LOONEY TUNES style goofiness. This gets pretty tiresome quickly after every five seconds. Other sources of comedy comes from Rapunzel's chameleon sidekick, Pascal, as well as a gang of burly bandits who break into song at one point in the film. Both are absolutely useless in that they don't contribute anything valuable to the plot. The bandits, in particular, only show up in one scene that by the time they reappear again toward the finale, I forgot who they were! Pascal seems to be mostly the typical Disney cartoon sidekick intended to provide laughs and/or lure kids into the theater, because that's exactly what he functions as. He doesn't even do anything during the finale.

      As far as the lead characters are concerned, Rapunzel is an appealing enough heroine, free-spirited and alternatingly schizophrenic (her various mood swings when she ventures out of the tower for the first time, for instance), while Flynn starts off as a smug, self-centered rogue who has a change of heart as he learns about Rapunzel's past. But while they both have a solid chemistry, there isn't enough of it in the film to emerge as emotionally impactful as it could have been. (Consequently, the climactic moments of the film, while otherwise very strong, don't resonate as dramatically as they would have with better realized leads.)

      Had the comedy level been cranked down by several notches and the story much tighter, TANGLED would truly be worthy of being Disney's 50th animated feature. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG was a much better production to earn that status. I did enjoy TANGLED overall, but I don't think it's one of Disney's greatest.

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    • Tales From Earthsea (DVD) / DVD / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      23.09.2014 04:46
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Hare and some of the vocal performances."
      • "Gorgeous animation and music"

      Disadvantages

      • "Forgettable characters"
      • "Confusing storyline"
      • "Uneven acting in both languages"

      Miyazaki Jr's Debut Feature... beautiful, but flawed and confusing epic tale.

      Even a prolific animation studio like Ghibli can turn out a lesser effort. Hiroyuki Morita's THE CAT RETURNS was my personal least favorite Ghibli movie (at least until this), but that film, simplistic and shallow as it was, seems to have much more accolades than 2006's TALES FROM EARTHSEA arguably one of the first productions from the studio to split audiences and critics alike.

      Ironically enough, the controversy actually began prior to the film's release. It has been stated that Hayao Miyazaki had expressed interest in directing a film based on Ursula K. LeGuin's famous fantasy novels, but the author, displeased with previous attempts, declined... until the success of Miyazaki's HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (arguably one of the director's least excellent but still brilliant efforts). However, it was ultimately decided that the film would be handled by Miyazaki's own son, Goro, under the persuasion of producer Toshio Suzuki. Miyazaki Senior was most displeased by these turn of events and it is said that his relationship with Goro became strained during the production period. Perhaps Hayao had reason to fear that his son was not ready to tackle such an ambitious story; although TALES FROM EARTHSEA performed well financially, it was attacked by critics and even fans of the books. In fact, Goro received the "Worst Director" Golden Raspberry Award for his first attempt. All of this sounds like a cruel, undeserved fate for the debut of the son of Japan's most respected animator, but even author Ursula K LeGuin has been disappointed with Goro's film. In fact, TALES FROM EARTHSEA would not even see a release in the United States for another five years.

      The criticisms TALES FROM EARTHSEA has received are not without merit. Anyone expecting another PRINCESS MONONOKE or CASTLE IN THE SKY will probably be disappointed, for, while this film shows moments of brilliance and imagination, it falls short from the upper echelon of those films. The problems lie in the storyline and characterizations.

      Fans of LeGuin's books will probably be even more let down by this movie. It is based heavily on the third book, "The Farthest Shore", but while most of the situations and characters survive the transition to the screen, Goro attempts to incorporate elements from the other books into the film. But he does so in a way that only results in a tangled, confusing plot which not only feels rushed, but very incomplete and disorganized. Sometimes events happen without explanation, and what little explanation we get is unsatisfying; maybe fans of the books will grasp what Goro's intentions are, but others will find themselves asking questions which unfortunately, never get answered.

      The film gets off to a promising start with a stormy sequence in which a ship at sea witnesses a bloody clash between two dragons. It's exciting and intense, with a brief flash of gory violence that brings one to mind of the similarly graphic moments from PRINCESS MONONOKE. TALES FROM EARTHSEA is still on that fine start when we see Arren, a teenage prince, inexplicably murder his father and escapes into a desert. He is rescued from wolves by Sparrowhawk, a kindly sorcerer with a scar on his face (for reasons that readers of the first book "Wizard of Earthsea" will recognize). Sparrow's mission is to restore the balance that has been disrupted in the mystical land of Earthsea.

      However, when these two adventurers cross paths with other characters such as a moody, introverted “slave” named Therru, a warmhearted farmer, and an evil wizard intent on gaining (predictably) eternal life, it becomes evident that Goro is trying to cram too much story worth of at least four books into a two hour film. Aside from giving the characters little time to fully develop into fleshed out personalities, the film works in a very confusing and frustratingly murky subplot about a shadowy “clone” of Arren that shows up from time to time to torment the youth. This is handled very awkwardly, with zero foreshadowing and the whole “explanation” behind the whole thing leaves questions instead of answers. I was also very unclear about the climactic finale in which a girl transforms into a dragon; again, this is done with no explanation, that it only makes the audience baffled instead of thrilled.

      Perhaps another big issue with the film is the pacing; as mentioned, the film’s best sequence is the opening dragon fight, but such action moments are rather scanty throughout the rest of the movie, resulting in long, extensive stretches where nothing really happens. For instance, at the halfway point, there is a long sequence in which the characters end up working on a farm. Although intended to provide character development, this sequence only slows down the film and feels more like padding than anything else. Brief moments such as Sparrowhawk and Arren talking about blistered hands after helping to plow the field feel strangely detached from the rest of the plot instead of anything else. The real areas in which Goro shows strength as an animator are the dream sequences — and there are quite a few in this tale — in which the characters find themselves standing on sunlit landscapes with luscious colors one moment and nearly drowning in an ooze-infested lake the next. These are actually far more interesting than much of the talkier scenes in the movie.

      The lack of compelling characters is another major shortcoming with TALES FROM EARTHSEA. Sparrowhawk, for instance, is nobility personified, and as such, is pretty boring. Arren could have been a compelling troubled hero — sort of a darker version of Ashi-taka from MONONOKE, but his character development comes across as rather hazy to be interesting. The slave girl Therru, despite showing some backbone and the bitterness of San, isn’t much more endearing than her co-stars. Cob probably ranks as the most disappointing villain in any Ghibli film; oh sure, he’s creepy and acts evil, but he doesn’t have much of a personality, and lacks the charisma of, say, Muska from CASTLE IN THE SKY. That he doesn’t get much to do in the film is also a letdown. Cob’s slavetrader captain henchman, Hare, is much more effective as a badguy, and arguably is the only interesting character in the whole movie to display any personality. He sneers, cackles, rasps threats, and is remorselessly ruthless. It also helps that he is voiced by Cheech Marin in the Disney-produced English dub... who naturally gives the best performance in the whole film!

      Speaking of the dub, this is probably one of my least favorite of the Disney Ghibli dubs, not because it is badly done — Disney has never produced an unlistenable dub as far as I’m concerned; their past dubs have all been fantastic (except for the recent THE WIND RISES, which is too flatly acted in many places for my tastes), contrary to what others may say (yes, even the ones with extra dialogue and music). Perhaps because of the murky nature of this movie, it is difficult for the dub to be as effective, despite the efforts of everyone involved. Still, the performers and voice director Gary Rydstrom do their best: As mentioned, Marin plays the part of Hare perfectly and steals the show. Timothy Dalton does an excellent job as Sparrowhawk, embuing him with wisdom, warmth, and subtlety. Mariska Hargitay is also very good as the kindly farmer Tenar. Matt Levin as Arren is a bit of a trickier issue: he starts out somewhat flatly, but he gradually improves and gets especially good at the end. On the other hand, Blaire Restaneo’s Therru is the least effective of the voice cast; she shines brilliantly in singing the film’s only song, a melancholy acapella solo originally rendered by Aoi Teshima and does all right in the tense scenes, but I wasn’t so sold on the rest of her scenes. Willem Dafoe’s Cob works best in the climactic scenes where he rasps his way to the tower, but otherwise spends most of the time talking in a very soft, monotonous voice. I don’t know if it was supposed to convey darkness or not, but I didn’t find it particularly effective (in fact, I was chuckling upon hearing him speak for the first time) and I’m still not sure if he was the right choice for the character. Simply put, he’s no match for Mark Hamill’s Muska. The rest of the voices are fine, although they’re not nearly as memorable as in any of the other Ghibli dubs. Even purists who insist on watching the film in Japanese will probably be disappointed, as the voice acting, or at least what I’ve heard, isn’t much more effective than that of the dub.

      Probably the most pleasing aspect of the film is its musical score contributed by Tamiya Terashima. Ghibli films have excelled with gorgeous soundtracks, and this is no exception. Using melancholy melodies and a full orchestra and chorus reminiscent of Hans Zimmer, Terashima provides a gorgeous and poundingly dramatic symphony that compliments the mood of the story perfectly. (As mentioned, Therru’s song midway through the film is a haunting highlight.) And of course, the animation is as richly detailed and beautiful as any Ghibli film.

      There are moments where TALES FROM EARTHSEA does exude some haunting visuals, but all in all, it’s probably the weakest of the Studio Ghibli movies by far. Had Goro Miyazaki opted for a less daunting storyline, then maybe he wouldn’t have received so much backlash for his debut feature. As such, the obvious failings of EARTHSEA shows that he is not yet ready to fill his father’s shoes. But even with all that said, is this movie still worth watching? Absolutely, especially if you’re a Ghibli completist. Even with its faults, TALES FROM EARTHSEA still has its share of high points to make it worth a look. But don’t expect another instant classic; on that level it falls short.

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