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Zombieland has burst on to my list of favourite films after I witnessed the Comedy mixed with Horror masterpiece directed by Ruben Fleischer last night at the local cinema. I didn't know what to expect going into the film; the trailer gave me the impression of a stupid comedy, but to my surprise, Zombieland proved to be much more than that.
Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) stars as Columbus, one of a small minority off people to survive a Zombie virus that has hit America and turned the whole country into a wasteland filled with the mindless mutants. The main reason Columbus survived the zombie outbreak is due to him being a self proclaimed loner and not having much interaction with society; along with strictly following a set list of humourous rules he made up to avoid getting injected . His general day consists of him sitting in his bedroom playing the popular video game World of Warcraft and dreaming of getting a perfect girlfriend. This all changes when he must leave his College room for once and venture across the Zombie infected country to see if his Parents are still alive, and this leads to Jesse meeting some crazy characters along the way and some hilarious events occurring.
On his way across the country, Columbus bumps into and teams up with the complete opposite to him, a tough and no-nonsense character known as Tallahassee played by Woody Harrelson (Seven Pounds, White Men Can't Jump). Tallahassee's favourite hobby is kicking Zombie ass and killing them in the most inventive (and funny) ways possible as an act of revenge for them destroying the relationship between him and his beloved dog. Zombies are only half the worry for the odd pair of Columbus and Tallahassee as they encounter the scheming sisters known as Wichita and Little Rock, played by Emma Stone (Superbad) and Abigail Breslin respectively. The four characters at first don't get along but eventually grow on each other and realise they must help each other if they want to reach their individual goals.
Zombieland is extremely well filmed and provides a ton of laughs in its short running time of 80 minutes. Don't let this running time put you off though, as director Ruben Fleischer manages to squeeze in a surprisingly deep story line involving horror, comedy, and a huge mix of emotions including relationship building and social interaction. Comedy comes in the way off both vulgarly funny, for example a zombie being crushed by a piano and his limbs flying everywhere, and witty one liners which will last in your memory for a long time and no doubt be used on many an occasion. My favourite one liner has got to be "Nut up or shut up!" used by the charismatic Woody Harrelson. Tallahassee has a strange addiction for Twinkies, and his frustration at not being able to find his favourite snack brings a barrel of laughs to the film.
The special effects seen in Zombieland are simply fantastic. You won't see many multi-million pound blockbuster explosions like other Hollywood-topping films, but the stunts seen are both funny and well directed. The Zombies in the film look scarily realistic; a great job done by the make-up team. The vast amount of Zombie deaths and particularly well done. It can't be easy faking a Zombie getting smashed around the head with a baseball bat! The scarce and deserted environments seen help to bring atmosphere to the film and really make the viewer believe the characters are in a Zombie nightmare. The vast amounts of gore seen in the film, such as blood and guts dripping from Zombie's body's makes me question the 15 age rating applied to the film. Surely this should have been an 18? I guess sexual content has to be involved to give a film that rating these days; but definitely not included to make an enjoyable film, as Zombieland has proved.
Each member of the cast excels themselves and produces stellar performances. A hilarious cameo performance from the famous Bill Murray, most famous for his performance in Ghostbusters, adds to a great cast and provides another brilliantly worked scene to the film.
A fantastic cast come together to give us one of the funniest and most heart-warming films of the year at the same time. I personally can't wait for the film to be released on Blu-ray, and I'm sure I'll see it again in the cinema whilst it's running. Zombieland is well worth the admission price, go see it!
I walked into the cinema last night with absolutely no expectations for Jennifer's Body being a good film. My main prerogative for seeing the film, along with 90% of the audiences, was to see FHM's second sexiest women of 2009, Megan Fox, strut her stuff on screen for the best part of 2 hours; surely that was worth the admission fee alone right?
Unfortunately my expectations were lived up to, with Jennifer's Body turning out to be a pretty poorly scripted and acted film. Writer Diablo Cody, who also wrote the highly successful teen flick Juno, clearly aimed this movie at teenagers and young adults by including lame teenage slang and absurd amounts of sexual content; not that many people were complaining!
Jennifer, played by the gorgeous Megan Fox (Transformers) and her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) live in a small town called Devil's Kettle which rarely gets any excitement, so when a popular band are coming to town and playing at a local bar, the two jump at the opportunity to attend. Tragic events occur at the gig when the bar catches on fire from the electrical equipment, causing mass panic and chaos and resulting in a number of deaths. The band playing at the bar act like the heroes of the situation and take advantage of a petrified and rather immature Jennifer, taking her away in their van. Jennifer's best friend, and the more mature and sensible Needy obviously fears for the worst but couldn't do anything to stop the situation.
Jennifer eventually turns up at Needy's house a couple of hours later covered in blood and looking like she just got hit by a train; still managing to look hot of course. Acting strange and spewing up an unseen before black liquid, Needy knows something happened to Jennifer that night. The local boys attending the highschool in Devils Kettle begin to get murdered and cannibalised, and certain acts occur that make Needy become very suspicious that Jennifer has indeed become possessed by an evil spirit and has a new favourite food; boys. It's now up to Needy to stop Jennifer before she can cause anymore Havoc around Devils Kettle and more importantly eat Needy's boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons).
Not the best or most original storyline I'll admit, but then movies aimed towards the young adult audience rarely contain a gripping storyline and instead entertain the masses through crude humour and hot girls, which there's plenty of in Jennifer's Body. The film surprisingly fits into the horror genre quite well with some tense moments that threaten your manliness and make you jump out of your seat; you know it's coming, but not when or how, and that's what makes Jennifer's Body and many other recent horror films jumpy. There's a few laugh out loud moments but not enough to class the film as a comedy, and the rare comedy moments are again mostly sexually orientated. An example of this is when Needy and Chip are having sex for the first time and Needy has an image of Jennifer sitting in a nearby chair and this makes Needy scream; followed by a smirk comment from her boyfriend Chip asking "am I too big?"
Jennifer's Body has once again proven in my eyes that Megan Fox isn't a great actress and is exploited in films due to her looks. Some terrible dialogue in the film probably didn't help her case, but Fox's performance seemed to lack any power or excitement. A lesbian kissing scene shows a new side of Fox and will definitely help to attract male audiences to the cinema! Two females actually walked out with disgust at this point, so taking the risk of targeting one specific sex instead of both males and females might hurt the films ratings and viewings. Although Megan Fox was a let down, Amanda Seyfried produces a very strong performance and has made me sit up and take note of her future performances. Unlike Fox, Seyfried manages to show emotions extremely well such as crying and anger, and I believed her character Needy was actually involved in the bizarre situations she was portrayed in.
Overall, Jennifer's Body has some decent scary and comical moments but has to go done as just another teen movie that will get added to an already packed catalogue. Go into the film with a light-hearted attitude and not expecting a great film, and you might just come out with a smile on your face.
If you're a petrol head like myself and dream of recklessly driving expensive cars around a track but unfortunately haven't won the lottery or struck oil yet, then your next best bet is practicing and enjoying the thrills that a racing game on the Xbox 360 console can provide. There have been plenty of classy racing games released this year such as an inevitable new Need for Speed, Dirt 2 and Fuel, and this made me wonder whether the third instalment in the Forza series could stand out from the rest and announce itself as this years best racing title, or instead fade in to the ever growing back catalogue of "average" Xbox 360 games.
Having immensely enjoyed Forza 2, I excitedly jumped straight into Forza 3's newly designed Season mode. The object of Season Play is to simply win events throughout the week and enter a Championship per season for a certain Class of car. With each year comes a new Class Championship to compete in and win, declaring yourself as the best driver out there. You start your career racing cars me or you could afford such as Ford Fiestas, Volkswagen Beetles and Renault Clios. Expect to be using these bog standard cars for a few hours until you are either awarded with higher classed cars or have earnt enough credits to purchase the vehicle of your choice. Winning races and events, along with avoiding damaging your car will award you with credits which you can use for buying new vehicles and objects from the Storefront; which I'll explain more off later. Winning races provides you with XP which increases your Driver Level; with you being gifted a nice shiny new car every time you rank up.
Instead of following a strict calendar and forcing you to race events in a particular order, you get to choose from one of three events per month. The choice will either allow you to experience new tracks, race with your currently selected car, or race with a new car. Having the option to choose events which allow you to experience new cars and tracks helps keep the game from becoming tiresome. To fully complete Season Play, Forza's developers Turn 10 reckon you'll need to spend approximately 150 hours churning through the 220 events on offer; that's a long time! These events will either be your average Circuit, Drag, Drift and Timed events.
Turn 10 claims Forza consists of over 100 different track variations, broken down from 24 individual circuits. Famous racing tracks such as Silverstone, the treacherous Nurburgring and Le Mans grace the game. 100 different tracks sounds great at first, but infact many of these tracks appeared in Forza 2 and have only had a touch up in the graphics department. If you put 150 plus hours into Forza 2 like myself, then you'd already be bored of these tracks and begging for new, exciting circuits to test your wits on. Playing through the Season mode, it felt like at least every other track I raced on was a re-hash from Forza 2 and this was extremely disappointing. Although good tracks in their own right, I'd expect new tracks to come along with a new game.
The variety of tracks might bore you after a while but the selection of cars certainly won't. The main disc ships with 300 cars available, with an extra 104 cars having to be installed to your Xbox's hard drive from a second disc included with the game. These cars, along with a few extra tracks, mounts up to a hefty 1.9GB in total; gamers with a 20GB hard drive might struggle to find the necessary space. You'll find some of the best and most desired cars in the world available to purchase, such as the Bugatti Veyron, Audi R8, Enzo Ferrari and the feisty McLaren F1 supercar.
Designing and tuning up cars is as much an attraction in Forza 3 as the actual racing itself. Turn 10 have re-hauled the customisation options and made painting and tuning your cars surprisingly easy this year; even I managed to pimp my Ford Fiesta into a slick looking machine, choosing bright orange paint and adding flames down the wings for a nice finishing effect. The great thing about Forza is you can then sell these cars in the Auction House where other gamers can bid on your car, and you can obviously bid on other people's designs and standard factory cars they are selling. You can grab some real bargains in the Auction House and purchase cars you wouldn't unlock until many hours of gameplay in Season Play. A new addition to the Forza series this year is the fantastic "Storefront" where you can sell your designs to other gamers and therefore get rewarded for your hard work, while showing it off to the world. The Storefront is the place to show all the photos and videos you've taken and get them rated by the Forza community.
If you haven't got Lewis Hamilton's driving skills then fear not. You will be able to have an enjoyable experience with Forza whatever your racing skills due to a number of driving aids you can switch on and off. You can choose whether you want the correct driving line to follow, which also indicates when to accelerate by turning green and brake by turning red. Keeping to the best driving lines is key to achieving the best lap times available, resulting in this being an essential aid for most; especially me! However, breaking assist is available for those, and probably only those, new to the racing genre. This essentially allows one button racing, with you only having to accelerate and not having to worry about breaking around corners. There are also a number of other driving aids such as ABS (Anti-lock Breaking System) and TCS (Traction Control System), which when switched off aids realism to the handling of the cars. Gamers after a challenge will relish having these aids switched off, especially whilst handling the more powerful cars as it'll be a real battle to keep the beasts on the road. Those brave enough to switch the driving aids off will get rewarded with extra credits per race.
A feature that seems to be popping up in the majority of racing games these days is the "Rewind" feature which lets you, as the name suggests, rewind the race if you crash, take a corner incorrectly etc. I personally love this feature due to many times in the past having raced for a stupidly long time, only to crash or get overtaken on the last lap of the race. There is a bad point however, with this being the gamer having an unlimited amount of rewinds per race. In similar games, you are limited to a certain number of rewinds which adds pressure to the race. In Forza however, you have as many as you like and this essentially makes it impossible to lose a race and removes challenge from the game.
Another disappointing feature of the game is the seemingly lack of effort and intelligence from the A.I racers. Other cars in the race seem happy to stick to the racing line instead of blocking you from passing and driving aggressively. When you take the lead, you're rarely ever challenged for the pole position; I'm pretty sure I never conceded first place after taking it, and that's not due to being a good driver!
The gameplay in Forza 3 is overall fantastic and extremely addictive, but it's a great shame that the game has some awfully long loading times. I've literally sat there for between one and two minutes waiting for a race to load, with Facebook on my mobile the only thing keeping me from pure boredom; and there's only a certain amount of times you can check for status updates! When you consider the huge amount of races in the game, you'll be waiting around instead of racing way too often. Installing the game to the hard drive doesn't seem to make a huge difference either unfortunately.
At the huge gaming event E3, Turn 10 promised to deliver the best racing visuals seen to date. This was a huge claim seeing there were already some gorgeous racing games available, but I'd have to agree with them as Forza 3 undeniably looks great. Each of the 400 cars looks like its real-life counterpart and your designs fit each car so naturally. The tracks and scenery look fantastic and have some brilliant textures, adding realism to the game. Two things let Forza's graphics down however; firstly, the apparent jaggy lines seen on the cars which takes away the photo-realism of the vehicles, and secondly the cockpit view looking poor compared to other games of the genre. Textures in this view seem downgraded immensely and no animation for gear shifting has been included, which seems like a very strange and lazy decision from Turn 10.
The roar of the engines in Forza 3 sound incredible as you would expect. The games soundtrack seems acceptable as you listen to the songs as you browse menus and customise cars, but it strangely drowned out by the sound of the engine during races. You can barely hear the music which is a huge disappointment; they might aswell switched it off all together.
Forza 3 is easily one of the best racing games created for this generation of consoles. Gorgeous visuals, highly addictive gameplay and fantastic customisation options provide hundreds of hours of gameplay. If you're a fan of the racing genre in the slightest, you owe it to yourself to check out Forza 3.
The hype train has well and truly rolled out this year for the much anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with the train finally arriving at the station and into the hands of us excited gamers. Modern Warfare 1 sold a staggering 13 million copies worldwide, making it easily one of the best selling video games of all time and it still has a strong online community to this day; alot for MW2 to live up to then! Fortunately, Infinity Ward hasn't let us down and have provided a sequel worthy to the 2008 game of the year.
I'm going to come out straight away and say that MW2's campaign is pretty short by today's standards, taking me a mere 5 hours to complete. Luckily then that I've always believed in quality over quantity, and my God Infinity Ward have delivered in this aspect. It might be short, but MW2's campaign is epic in everyway and easily resides among the best single player experiences I have had with a game. The majority of the campaign contains the non-stop fast paced action that you've come to associate with the Call of Duty name whilst providing incredible moments that will literally make your jaw drop in astonishment. Infinity Ward have been clever enough to include a few geniusly incorporated stealth missions to provide variety and nice change of pace to the game. If you thought the Ghillies in the Mist level from MW1 was good, wait to you see what MW2 has in store for you on the stealth front. Whether you're chasing a culprit through the shanty towns of Brazil, sneaking around in a blizzard taking out the enemy or infiltrating a highly protected prison to escort a notorious prisoner out, Modern Warfare 2 is sure to provide you with one of those "Oh My God!" moments.
What would a huge Triple A title be without a bit of controversy? The story line and certain missions in the campaign might upset a few and cause an outburst to ban video games for life; a yearly occurring over-reaction by those who don't realise it's just a game and tries to spoil the fun for everyone else. Certain missions of the game take place in Afghanistan, where obviously a war is currently taking place; this was a brave decision by Infinity Ward as this could offend those with family members currently out with the Army. You will even be welcomed at the start of the campaign with a message warning you that a certain scene in the game could be upsetting and whether you would like to be notified when the time arises so you can skip the mission! I personally think Infinity Ward have been clever in bringing in some controversial issues to the game as it will no doubt give Modern Warfare 2 more publicity and possibly help increase the game's sales even more.
The campaign takes place where Modern Warfare's left off. The Russians are re-establishing themselves as a world power again after the death of their leader Imran Zakhaev, with his close associate Vladimir Makarov taking advantage of Zakhaev's death and gaining the support of the country. In fear of Russia becoming too powerful and re-enacting revenge on the U.S.A and the rest of the world, the legendary group of the best Special Operative soldiers around the world called Task Force 141 are sent in to extinguish any fears. You play as a number of soldiers from this prestigious Task Force and team up with the likes of Soap MacTavish and General Sheppard who appeared in MW1. Although only short, the campaign is surprisingly deep and features a fantastic plotline full of twists and turns that you never see coming. I found myself starting to care more and more for the well-being of my squad as the campaign progressed; something I don't usually find myself doing in a video game.
The Call of Duty series is famous for its Veteran difficulty modes which are known to cause much frustration to gamers around the world. Whether it be the spamming of grenades, the countless respawning of enemies or the two bullets hit and your dead, the series has been a burden to many gamers over the years. I'm very glad to report that Infinity Ward have finally sorted the difficulty level out and have stopped enemies from having infinite respawns; once you clear an area out, you're now free to advance forward. There definitely seems to be fewer grenades launched in your direction now aswell, resulting in you not having to frantically change position and be exposed to enemy fire ever 5 seconds. This definitely seems to be the easiest Call of Duty on Veteran difficulty mode which might displease a few of you, but still infuriatingly hard none the less.
A good musical score or soundtrack can help bring a huge amount of tension, excitement and atmosphere to a game; Modern Warfare 2 is a perfect example of this. Infinity Ward have hired world renowned composer Hans Zimmer to produce the music for the game. Zimmer has composed music for some of the most popular films ever made, including Gladiator, The Dark Knight and the Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy. Zimmer has brought all of his musical experience to Modern Warfare 2 and created a truly spectacular orchestral score for the game. The music creates the perfect atmosphere for each setting, either slowing down the score for the more stealth based missions or dramatically increasing the tempo of the pulsating violins and instruments to create an adrenaline rush to get you pumped for some action packed gameplay. If you're enough to own a surround sound system or expensive headphones, they'll get a serious workout in your time with Modern Warfare 2. The game sounds incredible, whether you have bullets flying behind your ears or the deafening noise of fighter jets flying around your living room, the sound effects really immerse you further into the gameplay.
Modern Warfare 2 unfortunately doesn't include a cooperative campaign unlike Call of Duty: World at War, but Infinity Ward have more than made up for this. Infinity Ward have gone on record stating they came up with tons of awesome co-op ideas for the campaign which unfortunately they couldn't squeeze in due to certain issues, so instead they have created a co-op game mode separate from the campaign entitled Special Ops. Special Ops mode consists of 23 missions which become progressively harder as you unlock the later missions. You are awarded with how well you do in each mission by a star system; one star for reaching an easy goal, two stars for a hardened goal and three stars for the most difficult objective being achieved. You can only earn the higher stars and objectives if you play on Veteran difficulty mode, so be prepared for a tough challenge! Luckily you can take on these missions with a friend via Xbox Live or split-screen on the same console, or if you're feeling brave, on your lonesome. The missions vary from breaching walls and getting to a certain area, taking on waves of enemies such as Gears of Wars Horde mode, and even ski-mobile races, among other scenarios. The missions are in all honesty re-makes of Single Player missions but they are still fantastic fun to play with a friend and provide a new challenge from the normal campaign.
Call of Duty is most famous for its fast paced and extraordinary deep online gameplay. The original Modern Warfare made a clean sweep of online awards and still has a strong following to this day; proving it already has a very solid base to work on. Infinity Ward have understandably only made slight adjustments to the online play instead of completely overhauling the mode, seeing there is no point in trying to fix something that isn't broke. The online play in MW2 thankfully has just enough additional features to make it feel fresh and keep you hooked for another two years until an inevitable sequel gets released.
The main pulling point for me is the progression you make online, ranking up and receiving new weapons and perks. Infinity Ward have spiced up ranking system, now rewarding you ten times the amount of experience points than you earnt in MW1. This doesn't appear to affect the gameplay however seeing you now need more EXP to level up; it just seems to dramatise the game more and make it feel like a Hollywood blockbuster happening on your TV set. There's something that makes 500 points flashing up just that bit more exciting than 50 points. Those of you committed enough will be interested to hear there is now 70 levels to gain before you can enter the dreading Prestige mode which resets all of your ranks and weapons. The downside of this is it takes loner to reach Prestige mode, but the extra levels allow you more time to unlock a larger amount of weapons.
Infinity Ward wanted to give the player more customisation options this time around and have done so in a number of ways. Firstly, you can now customise your killstreaks. Instead of having rewards set in stone, you can now unlock and choose which killstreaks you want to use; with a maximum of 3 being allowed at any one time. For example, you could have 3, 4 and 5 kills selected at the same time which would reward you with a UAV radar, a counter UAV radar and the lethal Predator Missile which is a new addition to the series. The downside to this is that you won't be rewarded new weapons if you reach higher killstreaks. If you're brave enough to select an 11 killstreak, you'll be able to call in an AC-130 Gunship which will obliterate nearby enemies, and if you think you've got the skills to reach an incredible 25 kills without dying, you can unleash a Nuke bomb, filling the screen with a bright light and guaranteeing victory for your team.
The amount of perks available seems to be decreased since MW1, with the aim in MW2 to upgrade the perks instead of earning countless new ones. For example, achieving 150 kills while using the perk Sleight of Hand, which allows faster reloading, will give you the perk Sleight of Hand Pro which allows even faster and more efficient reloading to give you the edge in battle. As you gain EXP and rank up, you unlock banner and emblems which can give you an authentic look to your in-game gamercard so to speak which displays your rank and gamertag.
The most significant and welcomed improvement in Multiplayer has to be the new host-migration. If you have ever played Call of Duty online before, you'll be well aware that people quit if they're getting beat or just need to leave for a certain reason, and if they were the host, the game would end and you'd be left frustrated and needing to find a new game. Infinity Ward have cleverly introduced host-migration which now will search for a new host and re-start the game in a 5 second countdown instead of ending the game all together. This lets the game flow and ensures you always complete a full game.
Modern Warfare 2 utilises the same graphics engine as the original game, the IW 4.0 games engine. The graphics have been slightly upgraded at best, but fortunately Modern Warfare looked great already and MW2 continues this trend. The game manages to constantly keep a smooth framerate and avoid any jittering, and this is vital in a game which contains so much fast paced action gameplay.
Overall, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a masterpiece and improves on every single aspect of the original game. The campaign is more epic, a Special Ops co-op mode has been added to increase the longevity of the game, and the highly addictive multiplayer has been made that much better with simple yet highly affective additions. You owe it to yourself to at the least rent this game and give it the attention it deserves.
The Xbox 360 is arguably the best gaming console currently available on the market. In many peoples opinions, the console has the best library of games, both visually stunning and friendly for all the family, along with over 300 games now available to the public. Unfortunately all these games take up a large amount of storage space, and up until recent times, us 360 owners have struggled with only a 20GB hard drive being available. Microsoft now offers us a 120GB hard drive to attach to our Xbox 360 consoles, so is it worth upgrading for the extra space?
The 120GB hard drive comes with what is known as the Xbox 360 Elite console. The Elite console is basically an Xbox 360 coloured black and with a bigger hard drive, and this usually retails at around £220. The other alternative to acquiring the 120GB hard drive is to purchase one at a shop or on the internet; but unfortunately for a hefty price tag. The best price I could find on the internet is £65 from Amazon.co.uk with its rival Play.com offering the device for £73.99. Most local shops sell the hard drive for approximately £80. If you consider the fact that you can buy a 500GB hard drive for your PC for easily under £100, a £65 price tag for only 120GB of storage space seems a bit harsh.
Do I actually need 120GB of storage space I hear you think? Well, you actually only get approximately 113GB of space seeing the Xbox 360's operating system cheekily takes up 7GB of storage; a misleading title seeing you don't actually receive 120GB of space. So what will take up all this space? You've got your basic saved game files which allow you to return to a certain point in a game and save data, but these are usually very small amounts and won't cut in to your space at all. I used to own the standard 20GB Xbox 360 hard drive and still had 11GB of space left out of 13GB which just saved files; and that's with a lot of played games...
Saved games won't be a concern of yours and therefore you only need to consider the 120GB hard drive if you participate in either of the following procedures. Firstly, Microsoft's Xbox 360 console allows you to store your music on the hard drive and play the music from the Xbox 360. This can be useful if your TV has a superior sound system to your PC, or if you wish to listen to your favourite tunes whilst playing a game at the same time. The majority of people have a pretty big music collection these days and therefore need a large amount of storage space, and this is where the 120GB hard drive could come in useful.
After a recent update from Microsoft, you can now install your games to the consoles hard drive. Running games from the hard drive takes pressure off the consoles disk drive due to the disc not spinning and also makes loading times during games significantly faster. Unfortunately installing games takes up on average 6GB of storage space per game. If you own the standard 20GB hard drive supplied with normal 360 consoles, you actually only receive 13GB of space due to the operating system's 7GB usage and therefore you could only install a maximum of 2 games on the hard drive. Installing games is highly recommended due to making the system run more efficiently, and as a result, a larger hard drive is a must.
The 120GB version of the hard drive is currently only available in the colour black. This matches the Xbox 360 Elite console perfectly whilst also looking fine when attached to the normal white console. Fortunately the strong black colour does not look out of place due to the original hard drive already being grey.
The only negative point I can say about the 120GB hard drive is the annoying amount of difficulty it takes to transfer your gaming profile, music and saved game files over from your original hard drive over to your new 120GB hard drive. To complete this process, you need either a "transfer cable" which you can acquire from Microsoft, a memory card which you can purchase in shops or recovering your profile whilst logged in to Xbox Live. You have to phone up or write to Microsoft and ask them to send you a transfer cable, which although is free, can take a very long time; some people have reported it took their transfer cable over a month to arrive from Microsoft.
The largest memory card available for the Xbox 360 is 256MB of storage and therefore not very much at all. If you have many files to transfer over, you can imagine this taking an extremely long time to complete and the experience being a very tedious one. The other alternative to retrieve your profile is to "recover" it from Xbox Live. This is where you simply type in your details on the Xbox whilst connected to the internet and your profile will transfer back to your console and on to your new hard drive. However, if you have had your profile for more than a couple of months and have a lot of detail on there and gained a lot of achievements, this process can take hours to complete; and therefore is not ideal.
If you want to install games or store music on your Xbox 360, the 120GB hard drive is a must own. The £65 price tag might seem a bit steep in comparison to other hard drives on the market, but unfortunately this is the only hard drive compatible with the Xbox 360. If you can borrow a friends transfer cable or receive one in good time from Microsoft, the 120GB hard drive is highly recommended and a must for dedicated gamers.
Wireless equipment seems to be the latest big thing in technology these days, and this is very welcome indeed seeing I despise having wires cluttering my room up and presenting potential hazards; the amount of times I've tripped over my Ethernet cable is ridiculous. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance of owning a Microsoft wireless headset which is compatible with my Xbox 360 games console.
You receive a wired headset which plugs in to the bottom of your controller with any purchase of an Xbox 360 Premium or Elite. The wired headset does the necessary job but often lacks in comfort due to a large piece of plastic resting around your cranium and obviously the annoyance of wires being present. Unlike the wired headset which is placed around the top of your head, the wireless headset attaches to your ear lobe via a semi-circular piece of rubber. I personally find the rubber "grip" if you will, quite comfortable, and at least far more comfortable than the wired headset. The receiver however doesn't appear to have as much padding as the wired controller or be as soft, but even with this considered, shouldn't bring annoyance to you whilst gaming or put you off in any way.
The headset itself is very light weight whilst also being reasonably durable. The minimum weight of the headset allows device to sit comfortably on the ear and in a stable position without dragging the ear downwards or out of shape due to an excessive amount of weight. There have been moments where I have nearly forgot I was wearing the headset and been inches away from venturing outside whilst still having the headset attached to my ear; thank goodness for the conveniently placed mirror!
Even though the wireless headset is pretty comfortable and surprisingly looks quite nice, there was inevitably going to be some disadvantages to the device; and these negative points unfortunately have a drastic effect on the headset. The worst feature the wireless headset seems to have is its ability to randomly cut off during a conversation with your friend. There have been numerous occasions where I have been speaking to a friend or giving orders to my friends whilst playing a game without ever hearing a reply. When I ask if they heard properly, I receive a "you didn't say anything you fool!" Having to repeat yourself can become very frustrating and is less than ideal if you're playing a competitive game and need to relay or discuss tactics with your team-mates.
The other main disadvantage with the headset is its poor battery life. A charger which you plug in to the mains is fortunately included with the headset which defuses the issue of buying and wasting batteries, but the battery life appears to be very poor indeed. I found I had my headset charging on my bedroom floor more often than me actually using the device, leaving me no choice but to return to the more reliable wired headset. The headset has never lasted more than 10 hours for me whilst being fully charged, and that is being very kind aswell. Fully charging the headset takes approximately 1 and a half to 2 hours, so you will have to think ahead before your next gaming session if you wish to game without worrying about the battery running out.
If a poor battery life and connection problems weren't enough, the price of the headset itself is awfully steep. Both Amazon and Play.com are currently offering the headset for £29.99, which for a headset is outrageous when you consider you can receive a free wired headset with the purchase of an Xbox 360 console; and if you purchased a Premium or Elite console to play on Xbox Live with, you will more than likely already have a wired headset.
If you already have a wired headset, I recommend just staying put with reliable device and saving your £29.99 for a new game. The amount of problems the wireless headset contains doesn't warrant an upgrade in headsets. However, if you have broken your wired headset and are looking to purchase a new headset, the wired headset itself retails at £12.99, so if you don't mind charging the wireless device in between gaming sessions, the wired headset might be worth purchasing for an extra £17. Overall, Microsoft's official wireless headset for the Xbox 360 console is a disappointment and has frustrated many gamers with its poor battery life and habit to cut out your voice during conversations.
There is currently a battle in the animation world between Disney Pixar and Dreamwork Animations to become the kings of the animation genre. Pixar have released brilliant films such as Wall-E, The Incredibles and the Toy Story series in recent years, but Dreamwork Animations have been keeping up via quality titles such as the Shrek trilogy, Madagascar and The Bee Movie. Can Dreamwork Animation's latest film Kung Fu Panda provide unprecedented amounts of success and crown Dreamworks as the kings of animation?
Kung Fu Panda is based around a lazy Panda named Po (Jack Black). Po unwillingly works in his fathers shop selling noodles to the public, with his father dreaming that one day Po will take over managing the shop. Po, however, doesn't share the same, strange passion for noodles that his father seems to and instead dreams of becoming the Dragon Warrior, someone who is the master of Kung Fu fighting. Po idolises "The Furious Five" who are a group of animals trained to an expert level of Kung Fu and must use these skills to defend the world from evil. A Crane, Mantis, Tiger, Monkey and Viper all make up the Furious Five and all bring a different fighting style to the group. The Crane and Mantis provide great agility, whereas Tiger and Monkey bring more Power to fights, along with Viper's venomous attacks. The Furious Five are trained by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) in a temple on the outskirts of the city, away from the public's eye.
All is well in the world until news that the evil and menacing Tai Lung (Ian McShane) has done what seemed impossible and broken out of a prison protected by 1000 guards and is on his way back to the city to reclaim what he believes is rightfully his; the Dragon Scroll. It is believed that once you read the Dragon Scroll, you will become the best Kung Fu fighter the world has ever seen and unbeatable in every way. In order to stop this frightening event from occurring and Tai Lung using the scrolls powers for evil, the time had come for Master Oogway, the person (or Turtle!) in charge of the city and the Furious Five to give the Dragon Scroll to one of the 5 Kung Fu experts so that they could stop Tai Lung in his tracks.
Events do not unfold as planned, however. Against his father's wishes, Po decides to attend the event where the Dragon Scroll will be awarded to one of the lucky contestants. Unfortunately for Po, the ceremony is being held at the temple where his heroes the Furious Five train which is located on a high mountain, with you having to climb thousands of steps to reach it. Due to Po's less than desired physique, he arrives late for the event after struggling immensely to climb the steps to the temple. A strange and extremely fortunate set of events occur which sees Po being named he Dragon Warrior by the ageing Master Oogway, and this is a decision nobody else agrees with; even Po himself! Po must now train hard to become an expert at Kung Fu whilst battling against Master Shifu and the Furious Five's negative opinion of him in order to defend the city against Tai Lung. What follows is a heart warming and comical story which is great fun for all the family.
Kung Fu Panda's cast is glittered with an outstanding amount of Hollywood stars lending their recognisable voices to the film. Jack Black plays the courageous Panda Po with the scary Tai Lung being voiced by Ian McShane. Po's unwilling trainer Master Shifu is voiced by Dustin Hoffman, with the Furious Five voiced by a stellar cast of top Hollywood names; Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross. The cohesion between this set of characters is incredible as they all work together and complement each other extremely well. Jack Black's witty sense of humour is perfect for the lazy yet arrogant Po, and Ian McShane's deep voice brings fear to the audience from his evil role. Every voice included seems to be perfect for the films style and character it represents; great job Dreamworks!
The script of Kung Fu Panda has been expertly written to provide a story suited for both Children and Adults. The younger audience will find humour in the films soft jokes and over-the-top Kung Fu action scenes, whereas the older audience among you will not only enjoy these aspects but also take fortune in the inspiring story of a delightful character rising from a no-body working in a noodle shop to the character responsible for the life of al others and the Dragon Warrior. The story and action remains funny whilst also teaching valuable lessons and morals; and not many stories in my memory do this wit as much gratification as Kung Fu Panda.
The animation itself is of course first class and a joy to watch. Character movements look natural and the fighting scenes are a great achievement. The different styles of each character all have an effect on the action, bringing variety to the scenes whilst being funny and effective. The animation matches each characters attitude in the film perfectly. Po's lazy personality is reflected via his slouchy animations and poor posture, and these animations fit Jack Black's voice to create a brilliant character. The film is naturally a very colourful affair with the dominant colours tending to be dark greens and reds, complemented well by shades of yellow and orange.
Kung Fu Panda fights its way on to Blu-ray with a stunning transfer which has to be seen to be believed. The films array of colours are striking on Blu-ray and the description of a sharp picture would be an understatement. The amount of detail seen throughout the film is incredible. Whether it is the water glistening on the shiny surface of the Dragon Scroll or Po and Tai Lung's amazing detailed exteriors, nothing has been left out by Dreamwork's animators. The transfer makes upgrading from the DVD version of the film to Blu-ray a very worthwhile decision. Fans of the film and the Blu-ray format itself will not be disappointed.
Don't let the fact that Kung Fu Panda is an animation film fool you, it still contains a beastly soundtrack. The films 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is surprisingly good and adds all new dimensions to the film. Prepare to be amazed as sound effects whistle behind your ears in the rear speakers of your surround sound system as the Furious Five charge in to battle and show off their stuff or bass from your subwoofer engulfs your room as Po thunders to the floor. Kung Fu Panda's terrific audio track complements its picture well.
Kung Fu Panda on Blu-ray will delight fans of the film with a ton of special features that will provide hours of enjoyment after the main feature has finished.
Dragon Warrior Training Academy - This feature provides 5 mini games where you guide a member of the Furious Five through their training. You will mainly use the directional arrows on your remote control for tasks such as leaping through rings when the timing is correct whilst using Monkey or guiding Viper safely through a maze whilst avoiding spurts of fire. These games aren't challenging or particular fun but could appeal to kids and keep them entertained for a while. A nice addition to the disk nonetheless.
Dumpling Shuffle - This is a very simple yet addictive and fun game where a dumpling (piece of food) is placed under one of three bowls. The bowls are then shuffled around at varying paces and you have to keep an eye on which bowl contains the dumpling. The answer varies to keep longevity in the game, but the repetitiveness will likely make the game boring in a short amount of time. Good, easy fun which the whole family can enjoy.
Learn to Draw - This is a fantastic feature for kids and drawing enthusiasts alike. A calming voice teaches you step-by-step how to draw the Furious Five. There are reasonably lengthy periods between each step which allows you to follow and copy what the animator is doing. Along with learning how to simply draw each character, you can watch how a leading animator draws Po for the film. This is a great feature that you can interact with and learn from at the same time. Top stuff!
Filmmaker's Commentary - As the title suggests, you can watch the film whilst listening to a commentary track from the makers of the film. This track explains decisions of the film and how they came up with ideas, locations, and even the characters which star. Overall a good listen if you're a fan of the film.
Trivia Track - Trivia Track is a terrific feature that, when turned on, makes interesting facts spring up throughout the movie. An example of this is a fact springing up stating the character playing Po's dad started craving noodles whilst completing the voice acting for his character; a strange occurrence when you realise his character ran a noodle shop... Interesting stuff and a great, entertaining edition to the disk.
The Animator's Corner - If you choose to have The Animator's Corner switched on, a small screen in the bottom right hand corner of your TV will appear as the movie plays. In this screen will be animators of the film telling you why they included a certain movement or how they managed to pull of certain effects, among other things. This is a very interesting feature and upcoming directors/animators could even learn a thing or two.
Meet the Cast - This is by far my favourite feature on the disk, and there is many! Meet the Cast allows you to watch the stars in action as they provide the voices for their character and then also small clips of them speaking about their character and their involvement of the movie. Jack Black brings his humour to this feature and overall it is great viewing which doesn't get boring.
Pushing the Boundaries - Pushing the Boundaries explains how the animators of the film try to improve the film compared to their other projects. You are shown the animations in their early stages and how they are progressed to the stunning end product.
Conversation International: Help Save Wild Pandas - This is a short video sequence where Jack Black states some interesting facts about Pandas and how everybody should come together to save these beautiful animals from extinction. It's nice to see the people making the film caring so much about the topic the film is based on.
Do you Kung Fu - This is a fantastic feature which teaches you some basic Kung Fu moves from each of the styles the Furious Five uses. You can choose which style you want to learn and then copy an on-screen demonstration which is shown. This could be fun for young children to join in with, or even yourself if you're feeling active!
The Panda Dance - I wasn't aware of one, but apparently there is a Panda dance specially made for Kung Fu Panda! You can easily learn it via watching and following the easy steps shown by the choreographer and her dancers; not that you would want too...
Music Video - A music video accompanied to the famous song "Kung Fu Fighting" starring Cee-LO and Jack Black was made and released with the film, and you can now relive the video on your TV. A good and recommended watch if you like the song or are a fan of Jack Black.
Sound Design - Director John Stevenson explains how important audio is in animation films in order to make everything feel realistic and add effects to the animation. Videos are then displayed which shows a clip of the film being played along with how people made the sound at the same time. It's fascinating to see how some of the sounds in the film were produced. A short but brilliant feature.
There are also a number of Special Features that provide interesting facts and history about China and locations the film is set in along with the animals that starred in the film. "Inside the Chinese Zodiac" explains how you can find out which animal in the Chinese Zodiac relates to you by finding out which animal ruled in the year of your birth. An interesting feature is included where you see a chef turn dough in to pasta and noodles, along with a feature explaining the animal fighting styles found in Kung Fu Panda and where the styles originated.
This Blu-ray disk flaunts and amazing amount of varied special features, I think you'll agree! And the best thing about it all, every feature is in glorious High Definition! These truly are a joy to watch and add huge amounts of replayability to the disc.
Kung Fu Panda is a terrific animated film that manages to provide humour and an inspiring story at the same time. The humour and message the film sends will please both the younger and older audiences. Kung Fu Panda is pushed to the max on Blu-ray with a gorgeous picture and TrueHD soundtrack to boot. The amount of Special Features, and specifically the quality of the Special Features and unprecedented compared to anything I've ever witnessed and appear in High Definition which is a nice touch. Overall, Kung Fu Panda on Blu-ray format is well worth your hard earned money. My highest recommendation!
The video game industry is becoming more popular year after year, with millions of consoles being sold each year. The so called "next generation" of consoles feature beautiful high definition graphics which are far superior to anything us gamers have witnessed before. But I don't care how good a game looks visually or sounds through your brand new £500 surround sound system, the game must be a joy to play; and this can come down to the controller being used. If the games controls are frustrate you or simply the controller's buttons are laid out in a strange manner, this could greatly hinder the experience as a whole and therefore result in less game time. Microsoft's Xbox 360 games console undoubtedly displays some gorgeous visuals and deafening soundtracks, but does it have the controller to match?
Before you even pick up the controller and start playing around, you will obviously gain an opinion on its appearance. The standard controllers that come packaged with the console are coloured white and have a small amount of grey located near the bottom of the controller. This colour scheme matches the Xbox 360 console well and is overall pleasant to look at. The second thing I noticed was the well spread out buttons which resulted in the controller having an uncluttered look. Too many buttons located in a small space can become very confusing whilst gaming and also have a negative effect on the products appearance, but this fortunately isn't the case with the Xbox 360 controller. Last but not least, the other main aspect which shot to the front of my thoughts was the fact that the controller was indeed wireless! The amount of times I had tripped over the controller which belonged to previous consoles... Well I lost count around 10 years ago! A wired version is also available to buy and is packaged with cheaper versions of the console, but the most commonly seen controller s the wireless which is generally aesthetically pleasing without wowing the gamer.
So the controller looks decent enough to deserve a place in your precious gaming space, but how does it feel? The first thing I noticed after picking the controller up for the first time was its weight. The product balances perfectly in your grip due to the weight being evenly distributed throughout the controller. Other controllers, such as Sony PS3's Sixaxis seem to light and give you the feeling that it will fly out of your hands, but this is not the case with Microsoft's latest device. The edges of the controller are extended downwards to form the shape of a boomerang and these edges rest perfectly in the palm of your hands. Your thumbs will naturally rest near the appropriate buttons; you won't have to keep adjusting your grip in order to reach the desired button which is a welcomed feature.
The controller consists of only 8 buttons you will actually use whilst playing a game on the Xbox 360 console, with these buttons being called X, Y, B, A, Left and Right Trigger and the Left and Right Bumper buttons. Each button is accessible with the greatest of ease. The X, Y, B and A buttons are located on the right hand side on the controller in a diamond shape. Each of these buttons is colour coded which makes the button easy to recognise, along with the letter appearing on the button so that beginners with the console won't mix up the buttons. Your fingers will lay naturally n the Trigger buttons which are located towards the back of the controller, and are curved upwards in order to stop your fingers slipping off whilst pressed down. This is a very important feature as these buttons will be frequently used, with an example being the Right Trigger being pressed to fire a shot in a shooting game. Whilst this might sound like a mandatory feature, it is something other consoles controllers such as the PS3's Sixaxis have failed to incorporate.
Two thumbsticks are presented in the top left and bottom right of the controller and these provide your game character with movement. The left thumbstick allows you to walk forward, backwards, left and right, with the right thumbstick allowing you to look around the environment and aim any weapons you might possess. These thumbsticks are cleverly curved inwards, along with having 4 dots located on them, and these two features greatly help keep your thumbs firmly gripped on the sticks and avoid the controller slipping out of your hand at a vital moment in a game. A D-Pad is also included and is mainly used to change weapons; old school gamers might complain that the D-Pad can't be used for movement in many modern games, and this forces you to use the thumbsticks.
A silver and green button located smack bang in the middle of the controller is called the Xbox Guide button, and you hold this down in order to turn on and turn off the controller. It is also pressed to bring up the in-game menu on the Xbox 360, allowing you to view what friends you have online, messages received, what achievements you have unlocked along with many other features.
As mentioned earlier, a wireless version of the controller is available and is easily the most popular controller amongst gamers due to its convenience; no more nasty wires making your room look untidy! The controller has a range of 30 feet which is more than enough; you won't have to worry about how far from the Television you can sit. A feature which I feel is a must in all controllers is the vibration, and this is of course present in the 360's controller. A strong vibration will massage your hands every time you blast your machine gun or take a clip of bullets to the chest, fall harshly after mistiming a jump, and generally most events within the game. The vibration really helps make you feel more involved in the game and is used superbly well with the controller and the consoles latest games.
I unfortunately have a short temper whilst playing video games and tend to take my anger out on the controller. I've broke countless amounts of controllers in the past due to this, but fortunately Microsoft had gamers like myself in mind when they designed their latest pad. I've accidentally dropped the controller or purposely slammed it down with frustration an embarrassing amount of times, and the controller never fails to work. The thing is an absolute rock! Only one or two marks exist on the controllers plastic design, which is an amazing feat when you consider how many times the controller has been dropped. I swear the controller is destructible...
The wireless version requires two AA batteries which slip easily in to the back of the controller, and these tend to last up to 15 hours. If you play the console a fair amount like myself, you will find yourself regularly replacing batteries, and this can cost a fair amount per month. This is one of the few disadvantages of the controller, but on a plus point, a number if battery charger kits or Microsoft's official "Play and Charge Kit" can be purchased to counter this problem. These kits mainly retail at around £15; an essential if you own a wireless controller as the kit will save you many pennies in the long run.
Microsoft has produced a fantastic controller to complement a fantastic games console. The controller is aesthetically pleasing and rests naturally in your grip. The button layout will make learning game controls a breeze, and the short fused gamers among us can sleep well after learning the controller has an incredible durability level. You might have to buy a charger kit for batteries if you decide to go with the wireless version, but these can be picked up for £15 or less. Overall, the Xbox 360 controller is a brilliant product and easily my favourite gaming controller of all time.
I'm more of an action type of guy myself instead of suspense and thriller films, but when Cloverfield came on to the horizon with some tongue-wetting teasers, I had to check it out. I personally hadn't heard of the films main stars Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman and T.J. Miller, among others, and therefore wasn't expecting the top Hollywood film that Cloverfield ended up being.
The film's style is far different than anything I've witnessed before, which in my opinion is a good thing as it introduces something fresh to the genre and the film world. The majority of Cloverfield is shot through a High Definition Camcorder and this allows the events of the film to be viewed through one of the characters perspectives. The result of a camcorder being used brings a rather shaky feel to the film which is a bit like marmite; you either love it or hate it! I personally favoured this view as it really allows you to get in touch with the character called "Hud" who is played by T.J. Miller. Some people have actually complained of having motion sickness from watching Cloverfield, so if you suffer from such illnesses, you might want to give this one a miss.
The adventure starts with a surprise party for Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) who is moving to Japan in the near future to further his career. Hud plans to film the events through a camcorder so that Rob, his best friend, will be able to relive the memories further down the line. The party turns tense when Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman) and her boyfriend turn up; a past girlfriend of Rob's, and somebody who still, deniably, has feelings for. This surprise party allows the film to develop it's characters extremely well, with the camcorder being put to good use via Hud interviewing people for their thoughts about Rob leaving the country. I felt particularly involved with characters after this sequence and knew their thoughts and feelings well, and this was an important set-up for what was to come.
As the party is in full flow, New York City suddenly starts being attacked. The guests watch in horror as what appears to be missiles blow up a near-by bridge, leaving the guests in fear of a terrorist attack. Further events keep happening throughout the city until one of the guests catches sight of what appears to be a terrifying monster running rampant throughout New York. Rob's first though is of his love Beth, hoping she is ok; however, he is informed that Beth went back to her apartment across the city and could be in danger. Without a second thought, Rob courageously goes in search for Beth and save her from whatever is attacking the famous city. His best friends can't just watch Rob put his life on the line and therefore decide to help him in his quest, with Hud filming the whole adventure through his camcorder; and this is ultimately what us, the audience, witnesses.
Clover only has a runtime of 84 minutes which seems a little short compared to other recent movies, but the film is paced well and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The mixture of a love story, character development and action and suspense scenes as the heroes battle pass the dangers of a city under attack work well and provide a nice amount of variety to the film. The unknown actors and actresses showed that they're destined for future hits by producing very capable performances; I often forgot I was watching a movie and instead watching these people use their heart before their heads as they risk it all.
Some viewers might be disappointed with the ending of the film as it still leaves many questions unanswered, but this inevitably sets up a sequel which I very much look forward to. Overall, the film comes highly recommended if you are a fan of the suspense or action genres, or even enjoy some tantalising special effects as they are in abundance in Cloverfield.
Many fans of the film were worried how the picture would turn out on Blu-ray due to the majority of the movie being recorded via a camcorder, but they would not have been disappointed. The camcorder used was infact a new and very expensive High Definition camcorder which records in a resolution of 1080p, the highest available on Blu-ray. This allows for a beautifully sharp image throughout the film, producing perfect black levels in the creepy scenes and large amounts of detail. A scene where the Statue of Liberty gets decapitated and it's head lands inches from the cast comes to mind. The historic figures head glistens memorisingly in the little light that remains, and many scratches from the fall are all clearly visible on the object.
Cloverfield includes a Dolby 5.1 True HD soundtrack which will blow your mind away, and possibly your speakers aswell! The soundtrack is very loud throughout and truly uses every speaker to present an atmospheric feel to the film. Every small noise produced by terrifying foes is picked up in tense scenes, whereas the films closing sequences will leave you more than pleased; and possibly deaf!
Cloverfield features a good amount of Special Features, with 6 of them being displayed in High Definition. The most intriguing of all has to be what Paramount has called a "GPS Tracker". This is a clever feature which when turned on allows you to see the creatures position along with the position of the characters in the city at the same time. A pretty pointless feature, but a fun one all the same.
The Making of Cloverfield, events showing how the visual effects and monster were created, deleted scenes AND alternate endings are all displayed in HD and provide some great extra viewing for fans of the film.
If you want to be kept on the edge of your seat in a suspenseful and action packed film for 84 minutes, then Cloverfield is for you. The shaky camcorder style and brilliant acting provides a creepy atmosphere for a story of love and fear. The film takes full advantage of the Blu-ray format with stunning picture quality and an audio track that will burst your ear drums. A plethora of special features extends the life of the disk and therefore makes this a must buy for fans of the film. If you haven't witnessed the film before and you wan a frightening and enjoyable experience, check Cloverfield out! Highly recommended.
Whenever I turn on the TV these days or naughtily eavesdrop on random peoples conversations, all I tend to hear is "the credit crunch this and the credit crunch that" and I must say, it's getting quite tedious now. So I ask you this rhetorical question, is the "credit crunch" really that bad?
The credit crunch has actually got both its positive and negative points for me. Let me begin with the positives... I'm only 20 years old and still leave with my parents, and therefore this saves me ALOT of money. I fortunately don't have to pay any rent, pay for my dinner every evening, splash out for washing at the local laundrette, pay electricity bills and many other small annoyances; and this saves me a good couple of hundred pounds per month. Because I don't have these expenses to pay with my monthly bill, I can concentrate my monthly income of products I actually want to buy, instead of struggling to afford basic living. Now you might be thinking "he's so lucky, grrr" but I bet you enjoy your freedom and individuality...
However, having more money available to me isn't always a positive thing. Due to essential oils being harder to obtain, the prices of materials such as Petrol have dramatically risen over the last couple of months. Every item on the face of the earth has seen to off risen in price, and this has stopped many people being able to afford these luxuries. Even hardcore Football fans and struggling to afford tickets to every game these days... The credit crunch has affected me in a way of limiting the amount of products I can buy with my monthly wage. For example, I used to be able to afford 10 Blu-rays per month, but can now only afford say 6 or 7 due to the overall price of the disks being more expensive. The same goes for petrol; I can't remember the last time I went to a petrol station and put a full tank of gas in my car... Fortunately the prices seem to be dropping, eventually, but they are still at a ludicrous level which is stopping young drivers like myself from enjoying the driving experience anymore.
The credit crunch has also affected my social life. Due to the prices rising on everyday life essentials, my friends can no longer afford to go out down town or play football as much as they used to, and therefore this obviously stops me from going aswell due to me wanting to go out with them. Some of my friends have been limited to going out once every couple of weeks instead of the every weekend ritual which used to occur a year ago.
So in certain ways, the credit crunch really isn't that bad, but in others, it's terrible! I hope the credit crunch isn't affecting you too bad and I hope you get through this potentially tough period OK. Let's keep writing quality reviews for Dooyoo so we can spend less money on our luxuries from Amazon! :)
Yet another year has come to an end and I feel it's yet another year wasted. Looking back, I can honestly say I didn't achieve anything worth noting in the last 12 months; quite a depressing fact. I'm determined to do better this year and therefore will set some New Year Resolutions (not that anybody actually sticks to them!). So what can I do to make my life more enjoyable?
1. Start up my Personal Training business - I'm actually a qualified Personal Trainer but only currently work part time due to being lazy! I've been interested in fitness since a very young age and been involved with sports teams throughout my life, and therefore thought Personal Training would be the perfect job for me (well, a professional Footballer ideally, but we can dream...). My older brother is also a qualified Personal Trainer and we've been taking about setting up a business together, sharing the clients between us. Good idea?
2. Go travelling - I've always said to myself that I'll go travelling around the world before I get stuck in a relationship or a decent job. I currently live in England and can't honestly say I'm a great fan, so I'm dying to get out of the place and see what the world has to offer me. I have an uncle living in Perth, Australia so I plan to go out there and spend a month or two with him. Who knows where I'll go from there... Maybe America? It'll be nice to have a change from the drab English environment for once and get some nice tan, maybe even get a tan! And I might even get lucky and meet a nice Australian girl...
3. Join an 11-a-side Football team - I used to play as a Goalkeeper at quite a high standard, for my county Hampshire infact, but for some strange reason I gave it up and lost interest (I was only 12...). I've regained interest in the sport over the last few years and play 4 times a week for a couple of 5-a-side teams, but no longer as a Goalkeeper; defending is my speciality now. However, I've never played an 11-a-side match as a Defender and lack the motivation to do so, but I must get back into the beautiful game instead of just playing 5-a-side.
4. Drink less Dr. Pepper! - The place where I work sells cans of drink pretty cheap and this makes it very tempting to purchase the odd can or two everyday. I'm not overweight by any means, infact I'm actually underweight, but can's of Dr. Pepper and Coke isn't good for you at all... Especially for someone who is so interested in fitness and has studied nutrition! Shame on me!
5. Go out more - I don't drink or dance, and these are the two main reasons I tend to not join my friends when they go clubbing at the weekends. But due to not going clubbing, I feel I might be missing out on some fun; and of course there's the women aspect... I won't go out looking for a girlfriend because I believe that's when you find the wrong girl, but it'd be nice to find a nice girl to have a relationship with for a few months!
Well, that's about it really... The same as everybody else's; eat healthier, do more exercise etc etc... Hopefully putting pen to paper (well you know what I mean) will help me actually stick to these resolutions this time around and help change my life for the better. So here's to an awesome 2009! Hope you have a good one ladies and gents, and thanks for reading.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done
Unfortunately not a lot, and this is why 2008 won't be a memorable year for me. I must do more life changing things in 2009...
2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. Both my brothers are still at a young age and not having children yet, and the same goes for most of my relatives. Maybe this year! Not for me though I hope...
3. Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately so. My Grandad passed away late August which had a bad effect on my Grandma. Since then she has Alzheimer's disease and therefore can't remember a huge amount about the event, and also often wonders where my Grandad is (not realising he has passed away).
4. What countries did you visit?
I went to Spain on holiday with my friends which turned out to be a great experience. We went to Salou, which is located 1 hour away from Barcelona.
5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A bit more determination so I can go and follow my dreams and make 2009 a year to remember.
6. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your
memory, and why?
I'm not sure of the exact date, it might be May 9th, but the day Manchester United won the UEFA Champions League in a penalty shootout. That was one of the best nights of my life and will live on in my mind for a long time to come.
7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
It pains me to say it but I didn't really achieve anything in 2008...
8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I play Football most evenings and unfortunately picked up a few injuries throughout the year which kept me out of action for a few months. Hopefully I'll have better luck in 2009 and can play for the whole year.
9. What was the best thing you bought?
Without doubt my 42 inch HDTV which I use to play my games consoles and watch Blu-rays on; it's a beauty!
10. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I'd have to say Andy Murray. He played brilliantly throughout 2008 and improved tenfold. I can't forget one of my favourite Football players Cristiano Ronaldo who has recently been awarded the title of the best Footballer in the world!
11. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
None come to mind...
12. Where did most of your money go?
I started building a pretty big Blu-ray collection in 2008 which currently stands at 55 movies, with an estimated cost of £1000+
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Manchester United winning the Premiership and Champions League, and also going on my first holiday without the parents.
14. What song will always remind you of 2008?
No song in 2008 really stands out for me. It wasn't the great year for music in my opinion. Maybe something from Coldplay such as Violet Hill or Viva La Vida?
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Better off seeing this time last year I had a broken nose!
16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I practiced more Football when I had the opportunities so I could become a better player. I decided to stay in a lot instead of go out and socialise, so hopefully in 2009 I'll venture out the house a bit more and maybe even find a girlfriend!
17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Pointlessly browsing the internet (mainly Facebook) and wasting time!
18. What was your favourite TV programme?
There's a few to choose from... Top Gear has grown to be one of my favourites, along with the award winning "Ross Kemp on Gangs" and also "Road Wars" which follows Policeman patrolling the streets which I find interesting to watch.
19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't really hate anybody.
20. What was the best book you read?
I can honestly say I don't think I read a book last year... Maybe the last Harry Potter book if that was released in 2008?
21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Not any band in particular, but I've become a fan of Dance and Trance music. I love the beats found and they help improve my mood whilst I'm down, and also motivate me for Football.
22. What did you want and get?
Many small things but nothing which really sticks out in my mind.
23. What did you want and not get?
The only thing I can think of is possibly a girlfriend, but I;m not too bothered due to being too busy with Football to spend enough quality time with her if I had one.
24. What was your favourite film of this year?
Now that's a though question... I went to the cinema a large amount during 2008 and enjoyed many films. Death Race starring Jason Statham springs to mind as one of my favourites.
25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 20 and unfortunately didn't do anything memorable. I don't drink or go out clubbing so I just stayed in and had a quiet night.
26. What political issue stirred you the most?
If it classes as a political issue, then the disgusting rise of petrol prices. I struggled running my car at certain points last year. Thankfully the price has started to lower now.
27. Who did you miss?
My Grandad who passed away. Apart from him, not alot really...
28. Who was the best new person you met?
I met and made quite a few new friends after joining a new Football team.
29. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
To chase your goals and train hard instead of just being lazy and taking the easy route out.
I'm going to admit from the off that I despised the first two Mummy films. I can't put my finger on why; possibly the setting, storyline or poor acting? Whatever the reason, the films bored me to tears and were a sure way to send me to sleep. With this being said, it won't come as a surprise to you when I state I wasn't looking forward to the third and final instalment in The Mummy series. So did I fall asleep during yet another Mummy movie or did the franchise resurrect itself and go out with a bang?
A number of notable changes have been made since the last instalment of the series, with the director Rob Cohen coming in to replace Stephen Sommers being the most obvious. The film is set in China, a country that Cohen happens to have a keen interest in fro recent studies of the country's history and therefore this helped add passion and little touches to the movie. Brendan Fraser returns as the no-nonsense Mummy hunter, but has apparently changed wives due to the beautiful Maria Bello now taking up the role. Possibly the most important addition to the cast is legendary martial artist Jet Li who plays Emperor Han. With famous names such as Fraser, Jet Li and the return of the comical John Hannah, the film had the all-star cast to make this easily the best Mummy yet; and they sure did!
The journey starts with Rick O'Connell (Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Bello) mulling around their posh mansion, not knowing what to do with themselves and bored beyond belief. When an opportunity of escorting The Eye of Shangri-La (an ancient relic) to China presents itself, the couple jump at the chance of starting another adventure together; although they were unaware of what would lay ahead.
Meanwhile, the O'Connell's son Alex is busy in China making his first discovery; without the knowledge of his parents who believe he is studying at University! Alex and his colleagues stumble upon the tomb of Emperor Han and his famous 10,000 strong Terracotta Army. Han was cursed by sorceress Zi Juan and transferred in to a Mummy many centuries ago after killing the sorceress's true love General Ming. Alex must have wished Emperor Han stayed a mystery after he gets betrayed by colleague Professor Roger Wilson at the grand opening of his discovery. The professor had secretly been working with the evil General Yang whose ambition is to serve Emperor Han and take back the glory of China.
It so happens that The O'Connell's bump in to their son Alex whilst taking The Eye of Shangri-La to China. Their annoyance at hearing he has quit school soon turns to joy as they learn of his recent discover. An even bigger coincidence however is that The Eye of Shangri-La has the power to resurrect Emperor Han, aswell as guiding him towards a pool high in the Himalaya Mountains which offers eternal life. A race to the pool of eternal life begins, with the O'Connell's desperate to stop Emperor Han from becoming immortal and raising his 10,000 strong Terracotta army. I found the story to be interesting enough to keep me engaged throughout the film's 1 hour and 52 minute length, with the story being well told by the director, mixing the correct amount of action with story telling to keep the movie flowing well.
The action scenes found in The Tomb of The Dragon Emperor are done extremely well and provide more than enough excitement. Jet-Li brings his experience to the film via his Martial Arts background, with this style contrasting well with Brendan Fraser's more no-nonsense approach to fighting. The differing styles ensure there is enough variety in the film to avoid repetition throughout the action scenes.
Each actor and actress produced solid acting performances for the third instalment in the Mummy Trilogy. Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello have good cohesion together which makes the prospect of them being married believable, and the same goes for the pair's make-believe son Luke Ford who mirrors his dad's performance extremely well. Jet-Li expectedly performed well as the evil Emperor and used all of his experience to good affect.
Video - 5/5:
The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is presented beautifully on Blu-ray and is easily one of the best transfers I have seen to date. Each and every scene amazed me and made my jaw drop on countless occasions. The whole movie appears to be incredibly sharp with great amounts of detail seen throughout. You can easily see even the smallest detail on the armour of the Terracotta Army, with each warrior's armour carrying a different effect and varying from the next. A scene which stands out in my memory is where a group of Abominable Snowmen come to the aid of the heroes and protect them from a treacherous avalanche which would surely bring them to their deaths. Each strand of the Snowmen's fur can be seen individually and moves in it's own way, and this helps bring an amazing sense of realism to the stunning creatures.
Unfortunately I did not view The Tomb of The Dragon Emperor with a surround sound system and therefore can't really comment of the films audio qualities. However, the case tells me the film includes DTS-HD Master Audio which suggests the film wouldn't fail in testing your audio system to the max.
Special Features - 5/5:
I usually skip watching special features as they tend to bore me and are often tedious, but I am very glad I chose to view the features included on this Blu-ray disk. Universal hasn't left anything to your imagine due to ten special features being available which cover pretty much every aspect of the film.
The often seen Commentary with Director feature has thankfully been included. Rob Cohen does a good job of keeping you entertained throughout his commentary and explains all of his decisions in good detail, telling you why each scene was included, where it was filmed, what effect he hoped it would have on the audience etc... I highly recommend viewing the movie again with this Commentary feature enabled if you are a fan of the film or Director Rob Cohen.
Other Special Features include Deleted and Extended Scenes, The Making of The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, how the cast was picked for the film, building and creating the many sets of the film, along with a number of short clips giving a brief history of China and the Terracotta army.
The BD-Live Center is also available if you have your Blu-ray player connected to the internet. The BD-Live Center essentially allows you to view trailers of upcoming Blu-ray releases, and this can come in handy if you haven't kept up to date with upcoming movies or the latest releases.
The third and final instalment in the Mummy series is by far the best in my opinion. The all-star casts solid acting performances combined with an entertaining story gel together to provide an enjoyable movie experience. The film takes full advantage of the Blu-ray format with a stunning visual feast, coupled with Master audio to give that surround sound system of yours a hefty workout. A plethora of Special Features which run for 2 hours and 50 minutes is more than enough to keep you engaged well after the film has ended and will keep you coming back for more. If you are a fan of the previous Mummy films, any of the star cast or even the Director Rob Cohen, I highly recommend you take a look at The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Fans of the action and adventure genre should find the film entertaining enough for at least a Saturday night rental.
Hi all. I thought I'd answer some questions abut one of my favourite sites and hopefully provide an interesting read for anybody who happens to be bored :)
Q. How did you discover Dooyoo?
I was browsing a forum I visit regularly when I saw a thread stating "Earn money in your spare time" or something similar and was intrigued. Word of mouth really is a powerful thing!
Q. Why did you join?
I've always been interested in creative writing from a young age and therefore enjoy writing the odd review. I actually used to write Xbox 360 game reviews for a website but have recently stopped; missing it now though so plan to keep writing reviews but just upload them for the fantastic Dooyoo members to read. Along with actually enjoying writing, the Amazon voucher award was obviously an added bonus! I waste way too much money on Blu-rays so having £10 off every couple of months is very useful indeed.
Q. What was your very first opinion on?
My first review was on the Xbox 360 game UEFA Euro 2008, which if you couldn't work out from the name is a Football (Soccer) video game. I was pretty addicted to the game at the time and therefore thought I could write a decent review on it. I actually got awarded a crown for that review aswell :)
Q. Did you find it easy to get the hang of Dooyoo?
I did yeah. The site is layed out very well which makes it easy to navigate and understand what's going on.
Q. Did you read other opinions before you posted your first one?
I honestly can't remember, my memory is terrible! If I'm being honest, I probably didn't because at the time I was likely more interested in the money before realising what a great community Dooyoo has.
Q. Do you write no/some/many comments?
I write the odd comment here and there, but not as many as some people; maybe not as many as I should. In real life I like to keep myself to myself, and I think that personality trait rolls over to the site aswell. I usually just rate instead of comment, but if I have a strong opinion about the review then I'll gladly make the effort to let the review know my thoughts.
Q. When you click on the list of Newest Reviews, do you read your friend's opinion no matter what they're on/according to subject?
In all honesty, I haven't got a huge amount of friends around the site at the moment so I just try to read and rate most reviews, especially ones which I have an interest in such as Video Games or Music.
Q. Do you write your opinions in one sitting?
I do indeed; I can't concentrate if I keep leaving the computer and coming back to the review. However this probably isn't healthy seeing some of my reviews take 5+ hours. I need to start taking more breaks!
Q. Do you use a spell check?
I write all of my reviews and discussions in Microsoft Word and therefore the text is spell checked automatically for me as I go along. I'm thankful for the software aswell seeing I tend to make so may typing errors! I try and type way too fast.
Q. Do you think you can improve you chances of a crown if you suck up to a guide?
I highly doubt it. I've never tried it and never will. If my reviews are worthy then they'll receive one. If not, I'll have to try harder next time.
Q. Are you a member of a forum or chat room?
Yep. I'm a lover of the Xbox 360 games console and it's implemented achievement system and discovered a gem of a site called www.xbox360achievements.org, A.K.A www.x360a.org. The site has a great community full of helpful people. Check it out if you're interested in video games!
Q. Does it get to you when members praise or condemn you?
I always enjoy receiving comments whether they are good or bad. If bad, I could take the criticism constructively and improve for my next review.
Q. What did you do with your spare time before joining Dooyoo?
Play sports (mainly Football), play video games, listen to music, go to the gym, go t the cinema with friends etc... I still do all of these but now make time for Dooyoo :)
Q. What do you wish for the future?
In general - A healthy and happy life. Dooyoo wise, I wouldn't mind another Crown or five :)
Global Warming is becoming a major issue in modern society, with the Government releasing advertising campaigns to help make the public realise the detrimental effect everyday activities are having on our planet. Everything from television adverts telling us to switch our TV's off standby to the mystery voice on the radio reminding us to turn off the light everytime we leave the room have become an everyday occurrence. Climatologists and Scientists strongly believe that our wasteful usage of electricity and fossil fuels is changing the planets exterior with no reversible effect. Roland Emmerich decided to take advantage of such an intriguing issue in 2004 by directing The Day After Tomorrow, an epic blockbuster which shows the threatening prospect of a new Ice Age arriving.
The film begins with Climatologist Dr. Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) drilling ice cores in Antarctica when a piece on the Antarctic shelf breaks off, nearly bringing Jack and his colleagues to their death. This event makes the Doctor realise how serious an issue global warming is becoming and sparks Jack in to action as he attempts to warn the rest of the world what is upon them; a new Ice Age! To their demise, the public refuses to believe that such drastic weather changes could occur in such a short period of time. However, strange and unseen before events happen in the following weeks which convince the President of America that the country is in serious trouble and that they need to evacuate the southern states immediately.
Queue the films array of incredible special effects. The Day After Tomorrow has some of, if not the best CGI effects I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. These effects help make the audience believe New York City is actually experiencing the disastrous weather changes. Each special effect looks extremely realistic, whether it be tornadoes ripping through Los Angeles, tidal waves engulfing New York City or gigantic hailstones crashing down in Japan. Seeing New York City covered in treacherous ice is a scary sight, and strikes home what could actually occur in the future.
As America flees its borders to Mexico in an attempt to bypass and survive the oncoming weather effects, the brave Jack Hall does the complete opposite as he travels from Washington D.C to New York City in order to save his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal). Jack receives news that his son Sam is trapped in the Manhattan Public Library after visiting New York for a science convention and therefore courageously battles Mother Nature to reach and protect Sam. The journey isn't a smooth one however, with Jack and his colleagues facing many difficult events along the way.
A love story is cleverly mixed in amongst the action and suspense of the climate change. Jack's son Sam has feelings for another student attending the school trip to the science convention and must battle his emotions, trying to cook up the courage to tell his love Laura (Emmy Rossum) his true feelings. The audience will likely grow feelings for Sam as the movie progresses as he puts Laura before himself whilst attempting to make sure she survives the global warming effects.
Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum all put in solid and meaningful acting performances. You can see the pain in Jake's eyes as he sees the love of his life flirting with other guys. Dennis Quaid as Jack Hall really makes you believe he will do anything to see his son again, with a heart-warming performance which will win him many fans for future films. The other cast all do a good job aswell and made me feel as if they were in the middle of these planet-changing events. Lasting 118 minutes, the film is perfectly paced and never gets boring, with the perfect mix of action, suspense and love on display. For special effects, action and suspense fans, The Day After Tomorrow is a must see.
The special effects throughout the film fit perfectly on Blu-ray, with everyone seeming incredibly detailed. You will get the three-dimensional feel whilst watching the film and believe real life tornadoes and whizzing around your living room. No detail is left out at all, with every blade of ice, splash of water and frightening hailstone all looking extremely life-like. The outstanding picture stays consistently good throughout the film, whether it be a Tsunami wave striding proud above New York or a dark scene set inside the Manhattan Public library. The Day After Tomorrow is without doubt one of the best pictures I have seen on Blu-ray; you won't be disappointed.
With 5.1 DTS HD master Audio surround sound, The Day After Tomorrow sounds spectacular. All five speakers of your surround sound system will be put to good use. I could really hear a tornado whistling around behind my ears, making me feel like I was in the heart of New York City and getting attacked by the weather. Harald Kloser has done a brilliant job with the music, creating the perfect atmosphere for each scene.
You are able to re-watch the whole film whilst listening to commentary from Director Roland Emmerich and Producer Mark Gordon. This is actually a very entertaining listen, with both figures being very verbal and giving their views to the audience. You'll learn interesting facts about the film, such as the scene set in India was actually filmed in Montreal! Emmerich and Gordon explain thoroughly how the special effects were done and what tweaks were made, along with their thoughts about members of the cast. I must warn you though, if you are strongly against swearing and bad language, you might want to avoid this feature due to a few swear words being present. I must admit I'm not a fan of special features on DVDs, but I enjoyed listening to the commentary whilst watching The Day After Tomorrow.
A personal scene selection feature has been included which allows you to line up your favourite scenes and watch them one after the other, without having to view the other scenes in-between. This could be a useful feature to those who just want to view the special effects, but I personally wouldn't use the feature myself. Nonetheless, I'm sure some viewers will welcome it with open arms.
10 deleted scenes are available to watch, with the added bonus of commentary again from Director Emmerich and Producer Gordon. I found hearing why certain scenes were cut and not included to be a good listen and one well worth sitting through.
Possibly the best feature on this Blu-ray disc is the Global Warming Interactive Game. Throughout the movie, 50 multi-choice questions pop up on the screen with 3 possible answers. Each question is relevant to the issue of the film; global warming. An example would be "What do Weather Buoy's measure?" If you answer a question correctly, a small fact will appear giving you further detail on the question which is a terrific feature and helps educate you as you watch the film. My only concern with this feature is if you answer a question incorrectly, it will not tell you the correct answer. This could be due to not wanting to spoil the answers if you use the feature again, but it would have been nice to learn the answer there and then.
The game tries to put pressure on the player by introducing a "temperature system" so to speak. If you answer a question correctly, a temperature gauge on the left hand side of the screen will rise by 1 degree; with the gauge lowering by 2 degrees everytime you fail to answer a question correctly. Another nice feature of the game is that it gives you the ability to either relax and answer the questions as they appear throughout the film, or just skip to the next question if you're in the mood for the quiz.
The Day After Tomorrow is a story based on a new Ice Age arriving and hitting America with force. Packed full of action, suspense and even a touch of love, the film has it all and delivers with solid acting performances. Incredible special effects are regularly seen throughout the film which look terrific on Blu-ray and will be a treat for all Hollywood fans. Your surround sound system is sure to have a workout, and the respectable list of special features will allow you to enjoy the film for approximately 5 extra hours. Overall, The Day After Tomorrow is a thoroughly enjoyable movie which comes highly recommended.