Welcome! Log in or Register

MrTink12

MrTink12
  • 18
  • 71
  • 2
  • 149
  • 3128
  • 2612
  • Crowns
  • Premium reviews
  • Express reviews
  • Comments
  • Reviews rated
  • Ratings received

Member since: 19.08.2004

People I trust

User that trust you
  • Sort by:
    • myvoice.co.uk / Internet Site / 49 Readings / 46 Ratings
      More +
      08.10.2007 17:26
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      7 Comments

      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      Average market research website!!!

      www.myvoice.co.uk


      In a nutshell, MyVoice.co.uk is a market research site. In the UK, MyVoice Ltd is owned by Itochu Corporation and local MyVoice UK management team. MyVoice in the UK is approaching 100,000 members. Recently the site has gone through the process of a facelift, and looks all the better for it. Thus I felt it was a good time to write my comments about MyVoice.

      Joining the site is simple enough. The homepage has a clear ‘Register Now!’ on the right hand side of the homepage. Clicking on this will open a new page where all you have to do is type in details such as your first name, surname, nickname, email address, password, date of birth, gender, and postal address to become a member of the site.

      As a member you can log onto the MyVoice’s homepage where there are some clearly labelled boxes at the top on of the screen that you can click on, including ‘FAQs’, ‘Contact Us’ and ‘About Us’. The FAQ section of the site is comprehensive, and will detail the majority of issues that people will ask. For example searching through the FAQs will confirm that you can recommend up to five friends to join the site, and when they join you will be credited with 25 points, or that each time one completes a survey you are given an entry in the monthly £1000 prize draw. Alternatively you could simply email a query directly through the site via ‘Contact Us’. I have never needed to ask customer services a question, but if you do the site’s objective is to answer any queries with a 24-hour period. At the top right hand side of the homepage one can view how many points you currently have in your account (100 points = £1).

      When a survey opportunity is available an email from ‘MyVoice Research’ will be sent to your inbox. The email will detail the points available for successfully completing the survey, possible number of questions, and approximate time the survey will take to finish. In my experience the amount of points awarded for completed surveys ranges from 75 to 150 points or so. Personally I feel this is a fair range, but sadly emails from MyVoice seem to be very rare events. If you start a survey but get screened out MyVoice will give you 5 point in addition to 5 free prize draw entries.

      Upon reaching 2000 points you can claim a (£20) reward. Unfortunately I have only managed to reach this number of points on one occasion. The rewards offered are pretty good as they are vouchers from various high street retailers. I chose to order a WHSmith voucher, which impressively was delivered to my home address within just a week.


      --------The criticisms--------
      One thing that did annoy me was that previously on the homepage there was the option to click on ’forum’ at the top of the page. When doing so a new page would open stating ‘the forum isn’t active yet! Please check back soon’. This occurred for a very long time during my membership with the site. Thankfully the newly designed site has dealt with this and this is no longer the case.

      It took an awfully long time before I was able to claim a reward – well in excess of two yeas. This is because the site has a seriously limited amount of survey opportunities. Thus you may have forgotten your registered with the site, and out of the blue they send a survey. For example I have checked the number of points in my account, and it looks more likely than not I will be waiting a very long time before I can claim my second voucher. The new FAQ section indicates that opportunities to gain points will increase in the coming months, but I will believe this when I see it to be honest.


      --------Final comments--------
      The most important question to answer is whether myvoice.co.uk worth joining or not. Ultimately I would rate MyVoice as a rather average market research website. As such I would be hesitant to recommend joining if you wish to receive a reward in a short period of time. There are plenty of better survey sites out there that MyVoice would seem like a waste of time. Nonetheless if you are prepared to get a survey now and again, and eventually obtain a highstreet voucher years in the future then there is nothing to lose by joining.



      --------Contact details--------
      Website: www.myvoice.co.uk


      Address:
      St Stephen’s Church
      Westbourne Park Road
      London
      United Kingdom
      W2 5QT

      Comments

      Login or register to add comments
      • More +
        22.07.2007 18:23
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        7 Comments

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        SOTC is one of the few games that can be genuinely be described as original.

        Fumito Ueda and his team were responsible for creating one of the most original videogames of all time, the great ICO. Excitingly the same team developed the action adventure game Shadow of Colossus (SOTC). The game was released in February 2006 in Europe, exclusively for the PlayStation 2.


        --------Storyline--------
        I will start by saying that this is not a sequel to ICO. Similarities exist though, such as the game being set in a similar (if not the same) world, and the fictional language from ICO returns. Without a back-story, prima facie SOTC has a rather basic plot. After travelling via horseback to a forbidden land an unknown warrior is on a quest to resurrect a dead young woman. In order to successfully complete this mission our protagonist is told by a voice from the gods he must defeat sixteen colossi that roam the land. The unknown warrior asks no questions, and so our adventure begins…


        --------Gameplay--------
        Perhaps the greatest achievement of SOTC is that there is no other game like this – it is totally original. The game begins at a temple, and players must find one colossi at a time from this central point. As well as being accompanied by faithful steed Agro, one of the first things players may notice is there are only two weapons to use in the game, a magical ancient sword and a bow. Locating colossi is achieved by holding your sword in the air and going in the direction that the light focuses. When you eventually find a colossi you will witness a brief cutscene of the beast, and then the battle will commence. Basically each colossus has a weakness, and your aim is to attack the weak point or points after you have managed to get onto the beast. This may sound easy, but each battle proves to be challenging and completely unique. Pressing the R1 button will ensure you can hold onto the colossi. Every colossus will do everything in their power to get you off their bodies by wriggling and shaking especially when you are near weak spots. The difficulty is that when hanging on you have to keep monitoring a steadily depleting grip meter at the bottom right of the screen. Should the meter diminish fully you will fall off the colossi and possibly die or at the very least lose a hefty chuck of your life gauge.

        How players defeat one colossus to the next is always different, and consequently your brain will be tested. For example there are colossi that fly, some will swim, those which are terrifyingly fast, and others where your first reaction will be ‘how on earth am I going to beat that?’ due to their enormous size exceeding hundreds of feet. Some battles are so intense that they could literally cause exhaustion. After all, the first time you fight a colossi it may take in excess of an hour to defeat. If one is finding it difficult to figure out a strategy against colossi, cryptic clues are given onscreen to assist you. The game design is something to admire, particularly the more complex battles where you have to use the environment to have any chance of defeating the colossi. You may have noticed I have deliberately avoided giving overly specific details about individual colossi battles. The reason for this is that SOTC is a game people must play to really appreciate, and it would ruin the experience if you were told X, Y and Z occurs versus Colossi A, B or C.

        I did not have any complaints about the length of the game. Completing the main game for the first time will take approximately twelve to thirteen hours. Do not think that the gameplay ends there though because there is still much to see and do. For example after completing the main mission a time attack mode and harder difficulty setting become unlocked. Also noteworthy is that on the main menu of the game there is the opportunity to view a brief ‘making of’ documentary, an ICO trailer and concept art gallery.


        --------Graphics, Sound and Music--------
        Without question the fantasy world in SOTC is a delight to look at. On your journey numerous locations will be seen ranging from beautiful architecture, mountains, waterfalls, lakes and caves. Furthermore lighting effects are impressive as illustrated by sunlight appearing through tress in deep forest environments. Each colossi design is a genuine work of art, created with superb attention to detail. Agro’s animation is absolutely realistic – he moves and reacts as a real life horse would.

        Another area that the game excels in is the beautiful music. During each colossi battle, the music fits perfectly. For example, if the behemoth has not spotted you the music will be calm, but when you get on the beast the music increases in tempo becoming much more intense. Furthermore during story cutscenes the use of orchestral music is an absolute treat to listen to. The sounds effects are top notch, such as the devastating earth trembling thud made when a colossi tries to stomp on you, or the powerful roar a colossi can make during the heat of battle. Additionally the fictional language sounds reasonable throughout, magnifying the point that SOTC is unique.


        --------Critical comments--------
        Gameplay is very straightforward when you analyse it – jump on a horse, find colossi, defeat colossi, do process all over again until the last colossi falls. It can be slightly annoying that finding certain colossi in the empty world can take up to forty minutes if you get lost. Perhaps the game could have been even better if you encountered a few non-colossi adversaries on your travels as well as some thought provoking puzzles prior to battling colossi.

        My first reaction to SOTC was one of frustration because I did not find the game easy to pick up and play. Initially I struggled quite a bit with the controls, and working out how to successfully ascend the colossi. In principle the controls are relatively simple – jump using triangle, press X to call Agro and so on – but unfortunately the control system is not as responsive as I would have liked. Having said this, after you get used to the controls taking down the enormous enemies can be a real pleasure. Thus it is game you must give a chance. Moreover the camera during battles can be a little wayward. Occasionally your view can be completely obstructed, causing you to mess up. A further criticism is that the game does feature some jagged edges. There is no multiplayer action whatsoever which could disappoint some people.


        --------Final comments--------
        As with ICO, the follow-up SOTC is a majestic gaming experience. Whatever your usual preferred gaming genre, and whether you be a hardcore or casual gamer, SOTC should be fun to play. Due to the uniqueness of the game I would definitely recommend purchasing SOTC. The game (at the time of writing) can be bought brand new for the very reasonable price of just £11.99 from dvd.co.uk


        > My scores:
        - Gameplay: 9.5/10 – simple premise that is on the whole executed brilliantly. SOTC is a truly innovative game, which will instigate a huge sense of achievement as you progress.

        - Graphics: 9/10 – a few technical flaws reduce the score slightly, but overall the game is good on the eye because of its distinctive arty visual style. Each colossus is memorable, and must be seen to be believed.

        - Storyline: 8/10 – the narrative is very brief as the adventure unfolds. Even so, after the end credits finish rolling you will really appreciate the story that has been told.

        - Sound: 9.5/10 – I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that players will unquestionably choose to turn their speaker up to listen to the incredible orchestral score.

        - Longevity: 9/10 – SOTC contains the perfect number of battles, ensuring the length of main game is very good. Moreover the time attack modes will add many hours of fun as you strive to continually beat the time it takes to defeat the sixteen colossi.

        Final score: 9.0 out of ten



        Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

        Comments

        Login or register to add comments
        • Half-Life 2 (Xbox) / Xbox Game / 41 Readings / 37 Ratings
          More +
          30.06.2007 19:53
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          4 Comments

          Advantages

          Disadvantages

          Sensational first person shooter!!!

          .

          This game is a science fiction first person shooter developed by Valve Software. The original Half Life was revolutionary due to its cinematic approach and gained millions of fans around the globe ensuring a sequel was inevitable. After countless delays Half Life 2 (HL2) was originally released on the PC in November 2004. Since then, an Xbox edition was released November 2005, and later this year Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners will have the chance to play this highly acclaimed game. Today we will be reviewing the Xbox version of HL2.


          --------Storyline--------
          Players once again control the hero of the original Half Life game, research scientist Gordon Freeman. The game takes place some years after the Black Mesa incident of the original game. HL2 begins with the strange G-Man putting Gordon on a train to City 17. Gamers will learn that an oppressive alien force known as The Combine has taken over the City. Gordon soon meets members of the underground resistance who are determined to oust The Combine. Unlike many games on the market today HL2 contains no cutscenes. Any story development occurs during the gameplay, generally when talking to other characters or by watching various TV screens. One aspect of the game I definitely appreciate is how Gordon never actually utters a word, and we never see his face. It adds great intrigue to the character.


          --------Gameplay--------
          One has the choice of three standard difficulty settings when starting a new game: easy, normal and hard. At any time you can save the game, an especially useful feature in any first person shooter I find. Alongside well placed periodic checkpoints this ensures that whenever your health meter hits zero you will not have to repeat huge sections of the game. The control system works really well on the Xbox because it is exceptionally responsive. As such it is clear that the developers put much time and effort into this area of the game. For example when players use the analog stick to aim, you really feel that your weapon is pointing exactly where you intended in this fast paced game. Some levels feature an airboat whilst others include a dune buggy. I am pleased to report that each vehicle is never frustrating to manoeuvre, and subsequently enhance the overall game experience.

          The action is so frantic during many set pieces that I was literally jumping out of my seat when unexpected enemies tried to annihilate me. As such I think you could get away with stating that HL2 is a first person, survival horror game. At times it certainly was scarier than Resident Evil 4 in my honest opinion. What's more HL2 features some splendid weaponry. Gamers start off with a dependable crowbar but as the game progresses will get to use a shotgun, pulse rifle, submachine gun, grenades, rocket launcher and many others. Providing endless fun, the best weapon in the game has got to be the Gravity Gun (Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator). Principally this weapon allows players to pick up numerous objects within the game environment and use them to your advantage. For example it can be used to solve some clever physics-based puzzles, and to throw explosive barrels, saw blades, or radiators at incoming enemies.

          Many enemies will be encountered during the game, each providing a unique threat. For instance there are headcrabs, which might look small when crawling along the ground but can cause nasty damage when speedily jumping at Gordon. Furthermore there are terrifying zombies that used to be people until headcrabs took control of their body and turned them into super fast killing machines. Other enemies to look out for are gas mask wearing Combine soldiers, and the long-legged 50-foot tall striders who are exceptionally difficult to take down. Moreover enemy AI is high, which becomes apparent when they hide behind walls, hurl destructive objects such as grenades at you, and work as a team to attack. Thus the game should provide a substantial challenge to master. For most players HL2 should take between 15 to 17 hours to complete, not a short game by any stretch of the imagination.


          --------Graphics, Sound and Music--------
          Character models within the game look great. All the main characters you come across have their own distinctive appearance, as well as mouth moving in sync with the words they speak. Lighting effects in the game deserve a special mention. For instance when climbing stairs one can tell an enemy is approaching not only by the sounds they make but also by their shadow. Level locations in HL2 are wonderfully varied, including sewers, derelict buildings, beaches, a prison and so on. Thus by being well detailed each location certainly looks the part and the visuals never become repetitive.

          The voice acting in the game is very impressive, helping to strengthen your interest in the story. Alyx Vance becomes a regular companion on your HL2 adventure, and Merle Dandridge the voice actress who plays her does so with much conviction. The G-Man is extraordinarily mysterious, and it must be stated that Michael Shapiro voices the character absolutely perfectly in a sinister manner. Music is rarely heard within HL2 but the techno tempo feels very appropriate during the few set pieces it is used. On the whole the sound effects are top notch. An illustration is when killing a Combine soldier you will hear his heart monitor flat-line, which sounds totally realistic. In additional, the stronger weapons truly sound like they are more powerful than the weaker options in your arsenal.


          --------Critical comments--------
          If you have previously played the game on a high specification PC (I have played the demo on a decent PC in the past), it will be painfully obvious that HL2 on the Xbox is graphically inferior by a long way. For example in places the game does suffer from something all gamers dread - slowdown. This is especially apparent during really intense battles involving many onscreen enemies, and occasionally after a new area has just loaded. Even when comparing the game visually against fellow Xbox first person shooters such as Chronicles of Riddick or Halo 2, HL2 does not match those games’ graphical power. Thankfully none of these graphically complaints are so horrific that they significantly upset the gameplay.

          Later on in the game a squad will follow you, and hopefully help defeat enemy forces. Unfortunately these allies can sometimes obstruct your movement in confined spaces, which can be a slight nuisance. Additionally plenty of loading screens could become an annoyance as the game proceeds. This is because they break up the fantastic action and can last thirty seconds or so. It should also be noted that there are no multiplayer options or other unlockables to play once completing the game, which could dissuade a few from being interested in HL2 on the Xbox.


          --------Final comments--------
          To have released this game on the Xbox in the first place was a great achievement. This really is one of the finest first person shooters around and without any question I would recommend buying HL2. However if you have a high specification PC it might be best to buy the game for this system so as to experience gameplay and graphical bliss as well as multiplayer options. At the time of writing the Xbox version of HL2 can be purchased brand new for the very respectable £7.99 from game.co.uk, and a little cheaper second hand from ebay.


          > My scores:
          - Gameplay: 9.5/10 – in all respects HL2 is an exceptional game to play. The levels are beautifully designed, the enemies smart, and the action is ferocious from start to finish.

          - Graphics: 8/10 – visually the game is by no means perfect, but it is a delight witnessing the glorious character models and diverse environments.

          - Sound: 9/10 – scores highly due to magnificent sound effects, sensational voice acting work which brings the characters to life, and when the music plays you crave to hear more.

          - Storyline: 8/10 – overall very interesting because of the apocalyptic setting, fascinating characters throughout the adventure, and marvellous dialogue.

          - Longevity: 8/10 – having completed the game there are no additional modes to unlock. Nonetheless finishing the game in the fist place is an immense pleasure, and you are most likely to want to play all the levels again due to their brilliance.

          Final score: 8.8 out of ten



          Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

          Comments

          Login or register to add comments
          • Ocean's Thirteen (DVD) / DVD / 48 Readings / 44 Ratings
            More +
            19.06.2007 10:12
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            4 Comments

            Advantages

            Disadvantages

            Better than average heist flick!

            .


            “…Ocean’s Thirteen is not essential viewing”


            Steven Soderbergh directs the third instalment of the Ocean’s series. This is a comedy heist flick. It is fair to say that after the success of Ocean’s Eleven the first sequel, Ocean’s Twelve, was disappointing to many. The main question is: does Thirteen recapture the quality of the first film?


            --------What’s the film about?--------
            Casino owner Willie Bank (Al Pacino) causes Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) to suffer a near fatal heart attack after double-crossing him. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his loyal gang seek revenge for harming their mentor/friend. They vow to financially cripple Bank by sabotaging the opening night of his new Las Vegas business venture. Fixing all the games in a casino is no easy task. Thus, despite all the planning, will the gang succeed?


            --------Is it any good?--------
            It would be fair to say the plot is rather ridiculous, but does not prevent the flick from being entertaining. The film is well paced, looks colourful, and never becomes dull. I would categorise the Thirteen as a somewhat ‘blokey’ film. Nonetheless I am sure many women will enjoy it. After all I am reliably informed that the likes of Pitt, Clooney and Damon are aesthetically pleasing to women the world over. Moreover the film benefits from several funny moments, especially the banter between the main characters. Unfortunately, the greatest problem will be that a lot of people will watch Ocean’s Thirteen and think to themselves ‘have I not seen all this before?’

            You would have to have lived under a rock most of your life not to be familiar with the high profile cast on display. Although the cast may be top notch, the acting overall is very limited. For instance, Clooney delivers a reasonable performance as the charismatic and cool Ocean. Rather surprisingly Pitt has little to do playing Rusty Ryan, apart from answering his mobile phone with comical ring tone. Although his performance was nothing spectacular, Damon certainly ‘nose’ (those who have seen the film will understand) how to act in this film. Pacino does well in a role that is hardly testing for an actor of his exceptional ability. Don Cheadle once again speaks with a seriously dodgy English accent. The only female actress of note is Ellen Barkin who plays Bank’s right hand woman Abigail Sponder, and puts in a satisfactory performance. I was impressed with Eddie Izzard’s energetic cameo role as a technical advisor. One quick point to mention is that Julia Roberts and/or Catherine Zeta Jones do not make an appearance in this film.


            --------Final comments--------
            I would score the film a respectable 6.5 out of ten. Ocean’s Thirteen is not essential viewing, failing to match the slickness of Ocean’s Eleven. Even so, if you are looking for a film that does not take itself too seriously you could do a lot worse than watching this movie. I hope there is no Ocean’s Fourteen – they have taken the Ocean’s series as far as possible. It makes far more sense for Soderbergh to work on other (and preferably original) projects. For those interested, Ocean’s Thirteen is currently available to watch at cinemas nationwide.


            ----------
            Technical Details
            Certificate: PG
            Duration: 122 minutes approximately
            ----------



            Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

            Comments

            Login or register to add comments
            • More +
              27.05.2007 17:39
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              2 Comments

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              A quality gaming website!!!

              .
              It is time once again to review one of the quality video game websites that I use on a regular basis to keep me informed on all things gaming related. Future Publishing owns computerandvideogames.com (CVG), and the site manages to attract millions of unique visitors each month. CVG was launched in 1999 and contains articles for all major formats, such as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Wii, PSP and so and so forth.

              I would not imagine that many people would struggle to navigate around CVG, as the site is very well designed. At the top of the homepage, the website shows the top five features for the day. If you scroll over one of these features, a large screenshot from the relevant game/console will be displayed. There is a search box towards the upper centre of the screen. It does successfully find numerous relevant results even if you input the spelling of the game slightly incorrectly. For example as a test I typed in ‘metl ger solid’ and I was greeted with the latest news as well as screenshots for Metal Gear Solid 4. Scrolling below the search box will reveal additional news headlines, games that are hot, previews and reviews. Generally speaking CVG successfully report the really up to date gaming stories, ensuring that the website is well worth visiting on a daily basis. To illustrate this point, within the past few days’ new information was released concerning the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV and CVG had an article on this. Each report is never overly wordy, instead opting to be concise, and well written to ensure readers read the entire article.

              I do like how some previews on CVG are written as a comprehensive hands-on session of the game, after the journalist in question has been invited to play part of the product. Furthermore, the website contains a wealth of interviews that ask the right questions. Consequently each interview proves to be a good read, even if the game in question is not one that particularly interests you. The site has screenshots for many of the games it features, although they can look a tad on the small side. Reviews tend to lack real depth, despite proving to be an interesting read. Personally I would like them to at least twice as long, expanding on the positives and negatives of the game in question. One aspect of the site, which could prove an annoyance, is the many advertisements shown. For instance (at the time of writing), there was an advertisement before I could enter the site, as well as two additional ads on the homepage itself.

              There is a forum that not only covers the gaming world, but also contains details on movies, TV, music, sport and much more besides. Reading the forums reveal that there are some decent topics, and people backing up their opinions in a detailed manner. Another feature of CVG are competitions that generally are to win a console plus game package, although I sadly must say I have never been a winner. One has the opportunity to check out a cheat section. There is a whole archive devoted to cheats listing hundreds of titles, but cheating defeats one of the chief purposes of playing games - to feel a sense of achievement – and thus this part of the website has no interest to myself. It should be noted that people can register with the site absolutely free of charge. On the left hand side of the homepage, one can click ‘Not a member yet?’ Simply fill out a form stating a Username, Password, Email Address, your name, and date of birth. Upon doing so you will be registered, and able to do a couple of things that non-members cannot. You will be able to comment on news stories, together with writing in the forum.


              --------Final comments--------
              All things considered, I would definitely recommend CVG to anyone interested in videogames. Presenting the latest news, previews, reviews, interviews, screenshots and much more besides, it is hard be too critical of the site.



              --------Contact details--------
              Website: http://www.computerandvideogames.com

              Address:
              ComputerAndVideoGames.com
              c/o Future
              2 Balcombe Street
              London
              NW1 6NA

              Phone Number: 020 7042 4000



              Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

              Comments

              Login or register to add comments
              • The Good Shepherd (DVD) / DVD / 49 Readings / 45 Ratings
                More +
                16.05.2007 10:03
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                5 Comments

                Advantages

                Disadvantages

                Sleep induction film!

                “The Good Shepherd is not recommended…[it] will put you to sleep”


                Robert De Niro (A Bronx Tale) directs and stars in a film concerning the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It was a few months ago now, but upon sitting down in the cinema I had high hopes for this movie. With numerous academy award winners cast, and having seen a very promising trailer, what could possibly go wrong? ‘Everything’ I am afraid to report. Unfortunately a great cast on paper does not mean a fabulous film. Read on if you want to find out the reasons The Good Shepherd was such a letdown, and film that should be avoided at all costs.


                --------What is it all about?--------
                Although the plot felt utterly pointless, in order to provide a comprehensive review I will outline the story of the film. The main character is Edward Wilson (Matt Damon). There are numerous flashbacks of his life, ranging from 1939 through to 1961. For instance we witness his initial recruitment to the agency, his marriage to Clover (Angelina Jolie), and a strained relationship with his son. The film tends to jump from one year, back to another, forward to another, returning to another, and so on and so forth causing much confusion at times. Even thinking of the film’s storyline has me yawning profusely. Excuse me for a few moments….


                …. [Ten hours later]


                --------My opinions: Is it any good?--------
                In short the answer to this question is a resounding ‘no’. I fail to recall ever having dozed off whilst watching a film at the cinema, until The Good Shepherd that is. This is since the pace of the film is ultra slow, and so tedious that I would have had more fun watching paint dry or snails racing across the US state of Texas for that matter. I was literally begging for something interesting to happen, but to my disappointment this was not meant to be. The only nice thing I can say about the length of the film is that De Niro obviously tried hard to make a quality film, he simply failed miserably. ‘Why not leave the cinema?’ may be the question you are wondering. My answer would be: a comfortable seat, and a belief that having started watching a film you should finish viewing it. Nonetheless such a belief is currently being reconsidered.

                The Good Shepherd provides no acting performances which you must see before you die. Lead actor Damon’s portrayal of a CIA operative is devoid of any personality; making is really hard as a viewer to feel anything for the character he plays. Jolie is wasted in this film, playing the typical lonely frustrated wife, which any old actress could have managed. Some of the actors have such limited roles that it is hard to say whether their performances were bad, great or indifferent. For example Joe Pesci is on screen for a matter of seconds, and gone quicker than you can say ‘The Good Shepherd is a real stinker of a movie’. Other actors with a similar fate included De Niro himself, alongside William Hurt, Alec Baldwin and many others. It would have been better if De Niro cast fewer big name actors, but gave those starring in the film more time to develop.


                --------Final comments--------
                I cannot stress enough, The Good Shepherd is not recommended viewing. Insomniacs may rejoice over the fact that this film will put you to sleep due to its monotony, but the rest of us could find much better things to do over a two hour forty-seven minute period. If you enjoy torture or simply wasting nearly three hours of your life, The Good Shepherd is available on DVD next month (June 2007). Please do not say I didn’t warn you!!!



                Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

                Comments

                Login or register to add comments
                • Blades of Glory (DVD) / DVD / 52 Readings / 50 Ratings
                  More +
                  08.05.2007 10:45
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  5 Comments

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  Average pointless film!!!

                  “Blades of Glory…. is the personification of an average five out of ten flick”



                  This film is a comedy co-directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Blades of Glory was recently released in UK cinemas. Read on to discover why I felt this film was rather lacklustre.


                  --------What’s it all about?--------
                  The storyline is certainly straightforward, and totally unrealistic. Rival figure skaters Jimmy MacElroy (John Heder) and Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) are given the same score at the 2002 World Winter Sport Games. After a public altercation these two competitors are banned from figure skating forever, or are they? Three and a half years later a loophole is discovered – they can compete again, but only if these two enemies team up and become the first male/male figure skating pair in history.


                  --------My opinion: Is it any good?--------
                  That main problem with Blades of Glory is that despite being labelled a comedy, it failed to be especially funny. I heard little in the way of laughter in the cinema whilst the film was playing, despite the screening being at least 85% full. Granted there was the odd minor chuckle moment, but such instances were exceptionally limited. The main gags seemed to revolve around how figure skating is not exactly the manliest sport the world has ever known, or crotch touching. There are only so many times you can do similar jokes before they become stale, and if they were not particularly amusing the first time they were used you have a film with significant flaws. Therefore once you have seen the film, you never need to see it again – it will not become funnier on repeat viewings.

                  Although this film did not overly impress me, it should be respected for at least having a short run time of just 93 minutes. This ensures that Blades of Glory never drags, and the set pieces are short and sweet. It is not surprising that this film received a 12A Certificate, because there was quite a lot of swearing. So if you are a parent and your child wants to see this film, please bear in mind that some inappropriate language for very young children would be heard.

                  The acting should be awarded an ‘average’ rating. Ferrell just does what he has done many times before by playing an over the top, eccentric character. Unfortunately playing the flabby, spandex wearing, sex addicted, egotistical Chazz is nowhere near Ferrell’s best work. Heder’s does a fairly convincing job playing a character that is a bit weedy and effeminate. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett play Fairchild and Stranz Van Waldenberg, who are a freakishly close sister/brother team who do everything they can to stop Chazz and Jimmy winning. (As a quick side note, I kept thinking Arnett looked uncannily similar to England cricket captain Michael Vaughan). Both actors do well in their roles as the baddies of the picture, and are believable as an odd couple that fail to accept finishing in second place as an option. Jimmy has a love interest in the form of Katie Van Waldenberg who is played by Jenna Fischer. She does reasonably well in her role, but ultimately despite looking great Fischer fails to make either Katie or the romance with Jimmy particularly interesting.


                  --------Final comments--------
                  Personally I would not recommend watching Blades of Glory. This film is the personification of an average five out of ten flick. There are so many better comedies already out on DVD or being shown on TV movie channels, that you will not miss much if you avoid this film completely. Nonetheless this type of film always undeservedly does great business at the box office, so there are obviously masses of people who like silly, unfunny, generic films. Thus if you are one of the masses you will feel right at home with Blades of Glory, while the rest of us will find something much more worthwhile to watch.



                  Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

                  Comments

                  Login or register to add comments
                  • Sunshine [2007] (DVD) / DVD / 61 Readings / 60 Ratings
                    More +
                    25.04.2007 12:05
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)
                    8 Comments

                    Advantages

                    Disadvantages

                    Better than average sci-fi action film, let down by numerous flaws.

                    “…classic sci-fi this is not. I would award Sunshine a six out of ten rating…”



                    Recently released in UK cinemas, Sunshine is directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later), and written by Alex Garland. This is a science fiction action film. Entering the cinema I had high hopes for this movie, considering the trailers were great, and it was billed as intellectual sci-fi. Upon leaving the cinema I was left somewhat dissatisfied and shaking my head. Read on the find out why watching Sunshine provoked such a negative reaction.


                    --------What is Sunshine all about?--------
                    In the not too distant future (2057) the sun is dying, meaning that humanity is on the brink of extinction. The mission for the eight crew onboard Icarus II is to revive the sun using a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan, and save planet Earth. Seven years earlier, Icarus I, had attempted the same mission, but failed. Sixteen months into the mission after losing radio contact with Earth, Icarus II picks up a distress signal from the original ship. Should the crew of Icarus II investigate this, or continue on their current path to the sun? I would anticipate that many could guess the answer to this question without even needing to watch Sunshine. Ultimately, if nothing unusual happened on the Icarus II mission, there would be no film in the first place.


                    --------Is it any good?--------
                    I liked how as a viewer we are thrust well into the Icarus II mission, and witness the claustrophobic environment that has developed between the scientists/astronauts onboard. It is certainly refreshing that Sunshine avoided a more formulaic opening structure along the lines of: (a) we get a glimpse of crew member’s everyday life; (b) see how and why they each accept the mission; and (c) the early part of the mission. Moreover, one fascinating aspect of the story is that scientifically this could happen to the sun in our solar system, unlikely in 50 years but potentially in 5 billion years time.

                    I do not recall a film where the mission is to go to the sun, thus in a way Sunshine has original elements. Less original is how some scenes felt very Armageddon-esque whilst others seemed particularly reminiscent of Alien, just nowhere near as good. Still, I thought the film for the first 65% or so was going really well, it had good direction, some fine acting, seemed visually impressive, and the sound was certainly excellent. For instance, special mention should be made concerning the visuals of the sun, which are truly sensational ensuring that it felt like a character, with an individual personality. Sometimes the sun seems solemn, others ferocious and truly terrifying. Furthermore the golden spacesuits used, for example in a scene to repair the ship, looked unique and special to Sunshine. In addition, the shots of outside the spaceship were breathtaking; highlighting how petite Icarus II is relation to the rest of the universe. Overall what makes the special effects even more remarkable is Sunshine’s low budget of just $40 million. An interesting philosophical question raised was whether permitting the death of one person was justified in order to save the lives of billions. When the characters discuss this, it is thought provoking and a question that is genuinely difficult to answer. Unfortunately the final third of the film changed direction, and really lost much of the momentum it had built up to that point. There is absolutely no need to spoil the film, since what happens sticks out like a sore thumb, and significantly reduced my enjoyment of Sunshine. It really felt like Garland ran out of ideas, and could not quite work out how the film should end, opting for the most Hollywood conclusion possible. In short the final act is confusing, feels pointless and will leave you scratching your head after enjoying the first hour of Sunshine. Perhaps the DVD release will contain an alternative directors cut of the final scenes of the movie, but I am not holding my breath.

                    Generally the acting is fine from all the cast, but nothing spectacular and instantly forgettable. I think it is fair to say people will not really care about what happens to the characters since viewers will never feel like they ‘know’ the crew of Icarus II. On a more positive note, it is great to see an internationally diverse cast of actors in Sunshine, not simply American and/or British. Seeing that there are eight main characters in Sunshine, to provide the most comprehensive review possible I decided to comment on each actors’ performance. Cillian Murphy performs admirably as physicist Capa, keeping quite reserved, and speaking only when necessary. Chris Evans plays the character of engineer Mace, and he injects a great deal of energy and enthusiasm into the role. Both actors work well on screen together, with the testosterone of their respective characters getting in the way of the mission on occasions. Playing the Captain of Icarus II is Hiroyuki Sanada. The actor does so with much conviction, highlighting a man totally committed to the mission at hand. Medical Officer Seale, played by Cliff Curtis, appears mesmerised by the sun itself. This is not explored in much depth, but Curtis does especially well when the camera captures his eyes portraying a man who over time has become obsessed with the star he is meant to be saving. I did enjoy how Benedict Wong plays navigation officer Trey. You can really feel Trey’s pain when he makes an error, which could have devastating consequences for his fellow crewmembers, as well as the future of mankind. Troy Garity is the ship’s Communication Officer, Harvey, and is passable as a person who is a bit of wreck under pressure. Rose Byrne does not have much to do as emotional pilot Cassie. It is hard to criticise her acting ability, Byrne simply does her job given the limited lines of dialogue that were written for Cassie. In my opinion, Michelle Yeoh is believable in her small role as biologist Corazon who looks after the Oxygen Garden and plants onboard the ship in a way that a mother would care for a newborn child, with unequivocal love and devotion.


                    --------Final comments--------
                    Sadly, classic sci-fi this is not. I would award Sunshine a six out of ten rating, which is most certainly disappointing considering some of the film is very good indeed. The main problems are: (i) the final part of the film is a real mess; (ii) in places Sunshine feels overly familiar; and (iii) some of the characters are criminally underdeveloped. Nonetheless I would still recommend watching Sunshine at some point, and making up your own mind considering very few sci-fi films are made nowadays. I am positive that many people who watch the film will love it, after all the person I went to the cinema with was declaring how the film was ‘exceptionally’, and ‘in 20 years will be regarded as a classic’. Then again this is the same guy who does not particularly like The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Pan’s Labyrinth, City of God, and astonishingly 2001: A Space Odyssey…


                    ----------------
                    Technical details
                    Certificate: 15
                    Duration: 107 minutes
                    ----------------


                    Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

                    Comments

                    Login or register to add comments
                    • find-dvd.co.uk / Internet Site / 48 Readings / 46 Ratings
                      More +
                      10.04.2007 10:41
                      Very helpful
                      (Rating)
                      8 Comments

                      Advantages

                      Disadvantages

                      Top quality DVD price comparison website!

                      I will start off by saying that this is an excellent DVD price comparison website. Find-dvd lists prices for many retailers (over forty), including the likes of HMV, dvd.co.uk, Amazon, Asda and so on and so forth. In the centre of the homepage you will see a list of popular titles, new releases, and DVDs being released shortly. On the left hand side of the page there is the opportunity to view a ‘release calendar’, or ‘DVD price watch’. The former proves very useful indeed. For instance, click a specific date for the releases that day, or alternatively click to see what DVD delights will be available during a particular month. The release schedule goes as far as December 2007, but you always have to remember the dates shown can change. With regards the latter, this is a service that you can register with find-dvd – free of charge - to benefit from. Simply provide an email address as well as a password, and confirm your registration in the email find-dvd send you. One can then log in to the site, select numerous DVDs you wish to purchase in the future and set a target price for each title. If a DVD falls below the target price you set then an email will be sent to your inbox declaring this fact. The price watch is especially useful for boxsets I find.

                      Furthermore there are other options on the left hand side of the website to explore. For instance, those more technologically advanced than myself at the current time, will we pleased to be informed that the website does provide a price comparison for Blu Ray and HD DVDs. Additionally for PSP owners the prices of UMD movies can be compared. Another option to search through is the Region 1 price comparison part of the site. In my opinion this can prove especially useful for DVD titles that are unreleased on Region 2 format. Users to the site can even submit DVD reviews with the chance to win vouchers as part of a monthly competition (this month's first prize is a £200 blah voucher). A ‘DVD deals’ section exists but always the same titles are shown, so the usefulness of this is not great unfortunately.

                      Searching DVD prices is exceptionally easy, and has really improved in recent times due to an improve site design. Type in the DVD you are looking for in the suitably ‘DVD Title Search’ box at the top of the page, underneath the large site logo. A page will load with up to 12 result boxes showing a picture of what each DVD will look like, cheapest price available and a brief description of the product. You can then click on one of results, which will provide the long list of prices that DVD is being sold at. If you see a price that seems like good value for money then clicking ‘visit shop’ next to price provides a direct route to the retailers’ store. A criticism of the search box is that if you fail to enter the DVD 100% correctly a ‘no results found’ message will be displayed. Thus one way to improve the site would be to allow some margin for error, and still have results being displayed. I tend to find that when typing in foreign films or more unusual names, there is a greater chance of being told no result exists, which is a shame.

                      Below the search box you may notice that there are links to other ‘find’ websites, such as find-cd, find-book and find-games, but the focus of this review is find-dvd.co.uk, so I will avoid in depth discussion of these other sites. Also noteworthy is there is a brief ‘help’ section that has a few questions and answers, but still manages to cover everything you need to know.


                      --------Final comments--------
                      If you have any desire to purchase new DVDs, and wish to do so at the cheapest price available then find-dvd.co.uk is worth serious consideration. After all, it is exceptionally easy to use, provides for the most part accurate results, and the list of retailers listed is definitely comprehensive.

                      Overall: Recommended.


                      --------Contact details--------
                      Website: http://www.find-dvd.co.uk

                      Email: info@find-dvd.co.uk



                      Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

                      Comments

                      Login or register to add comments
                      • More +
                        18.03.2007 04:36
                        Very helpful
                        (Rating)
                        13 Comments

                        Advantages

                        Disadvantages

                        I agree 100% that smoking should be banned in public places

                        As of 1st July 2007, in England smoking will be banned in all enclosed public places and workplaces. Scotland has already had a ban in place for a year now. According to the Department of Health official website in 2001 27% of adults aged 16 and over smoked. I remember at school being asked for my GCSE English course to provide a speech on something I felt passionate about. At that time my speech was on why smoking should be banned in all public places, and my views have not changed at all. Carry on reading to discover why I have such an opinion.

                        The first point to make is that I have never, nor will I ever smoke a cigarette. Bottom line is: smoking kills. My main argument supporting a public ban on smoking is that passive smoking is just as bad as if I was the person with the cigarette in my mouth. Scientific evidence supporting this fact is endless. Passive smoking, just as for 20-a-day smokers can cause heart disease and various cancers. Many reports indicate that thousands upon thousands of deaths occur each year, significantly caused by passive smoking. Simply put, this is not right. Therefore if I am in a place where people are smoking, my health is being adversely affected, but if smoking was banned this would no longer occur.

                        I believe that the government would never ban smoking entirely; it brings in too much tax for that to occur. Being fed up of still breathing in people’s smoking at bus stops, outside offices, and whilst walking down the street, I think smoking should be banned in ALL public places. I think if you want to smoke that is your choice, but do it in your own home.

                        Another thing I really hate is that after a night out in a pub or club is reeking of cigarettes. This affects all your clothes, skin, eyes and hair and is truly disgusting. Also, if a restaurants’ non-smoking area is full, but there are seats in the smoking area I would rather eat elsewhere. It really is an unattractive habit to have, and I just cannot understand why some young people start smoking in the first place, perceiving it to be ‘cool’. For example I always find it weird why men smoke even though smoking is a major cause of impotence. Perhaps many smokers do not think that their health will be affected by smoking, or assume if smoking catches up with them it will only do so when they are over 70 years old. Many pubs/clubs have been complaining that a smoking ban will hit their profits. I think that there is chance it may increase profits, because smoke free pubs will be more family friendly, and others who hate breathing in and smelling of smoke may feel more inclined to spend longer and visit pubs/clubs on a more frequent basis.

                        Some smokers (note that I have not written ‘all’) will disagree with my views and say how banning smoking in public places breaches their rights. Well I am not too concerned about this, the majority’s right not to breath in cigarette smoke is more important than smokers who are so addicted they cannot wait until they go home to have a cigarette. Perhaps a ban may even help some people quit, as they will be prohibited from lighting up whenever they want.


                        Thanks for reading, hope your enjoyed.

                        Comments

                        Login or register to add comments
                          More Comments
                        • wabbadabba.com / Internet Site / 52 Readings / 49 Ratings
                          More +
                          08.03.2007 20:41
                          Very helpful
                          (Rating)
                          5 Comments

                          Advantages

                          Disadvantages

                          New search engine where you can win prizes!

                          This is a brand new website powered by Yahoo! which is attempting to be a little different than its competitors. Wabbadabba is a search engine, but unlike Google you can win some neat prizes when using the site for your daily Internet searches. The site has only been going a month or so, and I joined a couple of weeks back. Read on to find out why thus far the site definitely gets the thumbs up from me.


                          --------My opinions--------
                          First of all I would like to say that I do not believe that the name of the site is all that catchy. However this is immaterial, because I am enjoying my experience with the site. Upon visiting the site for the first time, the simplistic design should be noticeable. As such, even those with the most basic of Internet knowledge should be able to navigate around wabbadabba with no trouble whatsoever. The website does declare that you do not need to register with the site to win prizes. Even so signing up is so quick and unproblematic that you might as well. To join the site free of charge, one will have to initially click ‘Login/Sign Up’ at the top of the homepage. This will open a page with the option to ‘Sign up here’. After pressing this, inputting a nickname, email address, password, date of birth, and then confirming an activation email will successfully ensure your wabbadabba membership. This process should take a maximum of three minutes.

                          You can use wabbadabba purely as a standard search engine in the same way as Google, Yahoo!, MSN Search and so on. In the middle of the homepage screen there is a search box with smiley cartoon characters – one green, the other orange - on each side happily pointing this out. Simply type a word in this box, choose whether to search the ‘UK only’ or ‘the Web, ‘click on ‘search’, and a new page will open with a multitude of results to feast your eyes on. Search results load exceptionally speedily, with a few sponsored results listed and underneath the main results. Results do seem to generally reflect what you search for; although the likelihood of accurate results diminishes the more obscure the search. A fair criticism in my view is that Google will provide a wider, and accordingly better selection of results than wabbadabba. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile doing at least 15 searches every day on wabbadabba, because this is the maximum daily amount of searches one can do with an opportunity to win a prize. If you have any questions about the site, they more likely than not will be answered by the fine FAQ section, which can be clicked on at the top of the screen. This is concise, well written, covers all the main questions you may be wondering such as how wabbadabba makes money and whether there is a catch (thankfully there is not one), and benefits from being humorous. Furthermore, many people will be relieved to know that the site features no annoying advertising pop ups, and they promise to not send spam to your email address.

                          I am sure you are wondering whether I have won anything yet using wabbadabba. Well, a few days ago I am happy to report that I won my first prize – a £5 Amazon voucher. When you win an alert message appears on screen saying ‘stop you’ve won…’ with one of cartoon characters jumping for joy. People have five days in which to claim prizes. I was so eager to get my hands on my prize I claimed immediately. The site do cover their backs by stating prizes are normally sent within a week, but my experience reveals wabbadabba cannot wait that long. When I won my voucher, all I had to do was go to my account, enter my personal details (name, address) and voila, an email was sent more quickly than you can say ‘wabbadabba is rather good’ with my prize. Every day they award approximately ten to fifteen prizes (in total the site has already given away over 300 prizes). The only prizes granted thus far have been either a £5 or £10 Amazon voucher, although they are hoping to include a larger range of awards in the near future. For instance the home page is advertising that a 42” Plasma TV is up for grabs just by searching. It is early days, but winning one or two Amazon vouchers monthly would make me a very happy bunny, and I am positive many reading this will feel the same way.

                          Having logged in you will see an option to view your wabbadabba account at the top of the screen. Upon clicking this a list of prizes you have won, referred friends and the chance to invite more friends will be displayed. Inviting friends is particularly easy to do, with two main options:
                          (a) Via a blog – there will be a unique website site which you post on your Internet blog, directly email people, or pass on in instant messaging.
                          (b) Using email – there are some boxes to fill in, namely writing your name, including an invitation message (the standard wabbadabba one should suffice although you can write a more personal one), typing in your friend’s name and email, and finally clicking ‘send’.

                          For all those who become/are members of wabbadabba my advice is to refer as many friends as possible. This is since, if you win a prize, any friends you referred win that very prize as well. Similarly if any referral were to win a prize, you would be notified of this fact with an email, and able to claim the same reward. For example, if I won another £5 Amazon voucher, the people I have referred would each receive this prize, and be ever so grateful. Theoretically if a referred friend won the Plasma TV I would win that as well, and they would subsequently be rewarded with me buying endless rounds of alcoholic beverages for them in the coming months. It should be pointed out that each household can only win a maximum of three prizes per calendar month. Some may view this negatively as three rewards seems a little stingy, but I like the idea that lots of people will win prizes as opposed to a select few. In addition it prevents people from potentially abusing the site.


                          --------Final comments--------
                          Although this is a very new website, I would certainly recommended using wabbadabba. A significant number of people who use the Internet on a regular basis will need to search for products, companies, websites, people and so and so forth. Therefore with a chance of winning a prize every time you do such searches, using wabbadabba makes great sense.



                          --------Contact details--------

                          Website: http://www.wabbadabba.com

                          Address:
                          WabbaDabba / Add Momentum Ltd
                          St Brandon's House
                          29 Great George Street
                          Bristol
                          BS1 5QT
                          UK


                          --------
                          Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

                          Comments

                          Login or register to add comments
                          • Blood Diamond (DVD) / DVD / 59 Readings / 56 Ratings
                            More +
                            01.03.2007 20:00
                            Very helpful
                            (Rating)
                            5 Comments

                            Advantages

                            Disadvantages

                            For the most part a very good movie!

                            “Blood Diamond can be recommended…[as] a thoroughly entertaining movie”


                            Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai (2003)) directs a film dealing with conflict diamonds in Africa. Despite falling short of actually winning, you may have seen that Blood Diamond was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Editing. Therefore although being acclaimed, the main question we will address is whether this is a movie worth watching.


                            --------The Storyline--------
                            Blood Diamond is set in the 1999 Sierra Leone civil war. The film begins with African rebels (the Revolutionary United Front) attacking a village, killing and maiming many innocent civilians, destroying homes and separating families. Separated from his wife and children, noble fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) is forced by these rebels to work in the diamond fields. One day he finds the largest pink diamond imaginable (100-carat no less), and successfully hides it. Zimbabwean diamond smuggler and mercenary Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) overhears mention of this hidden treasure whilst in jail. Being an opportunist, he wants the diamond as a way to leave the African Continent for good. After tracking Vandy down, Danny states that in exchange for the precious stone he will use his contacts to ensure the safe return of Vandy’s family.


                            --------My opinions--------
                            This is a film that does contain some strong violence, none of which feel out of place or over the top. Any kind of war is disgusting, and Blood Diamond realistically uses fighting scenes and rebels chopping off hands to illustrate this gloomy point. The action scenes are visually impressive and attention grabbing, with many explosions and plenty of bullets being fired in all directions. Linked to this point is that some of the landscapes shot are truly mesmerizing, and full credit must be given to the director for this achievement.

                            Moreover Blood Diamond is an undeniably thought provoking motion picture. Showcasing how diamonds are smuggled out of a war-torn country, and the proceeds used to buy new weaponry is a very sad reality. Furthermore, young children being indoctrinated to become soldiers carrying machineguns, provides a powerful message. Viewers will be left feeling how tragic a situation it is that there are these children in Africa who kill without a shred of remorse, and all their innocence has vanished. Personally I felt compelled to find out additional information on the issues raised, and if others who watch Blood Diamond follow suit then the film has achieved something.

                            Lets now discuss the acting performances. I will start off by saying that DiCaprio does a great job, and his Leading Role Oscar nomination was definitely justified. Some people have slated DiCaprio’s South African accent for a lack of authenticity. Personally I felt that the accent was fine, and DiCaprio managed to maintain it throughout the film, something undoubtedly we should praise. DiCaprio is completely convincing as a selfish person who does not really care for the plight of Vandy’s family. Hence anyone who thought this actor was nothing more than a pretty face, you are very much mistaken.

                            In my opinion, Hounsou also provides a tremendous overall acting performance and was most deserving of his Best Supporting Role Oscar nomination. It is such a believable performance, in which his actions are those you would expect from a man separated from his loved ones and willing to literally do anything to be reunited with them. Assisting Danny and Vandy is American journalist Maddy Bowen, played by Jennifer Connelly, looking for a major scoop to highlight the conflict diamonds issue. Unlike the aforementioned actors her performance will be winning no awards anytime soon. Although not Connelly fault, some of Maddy’s dialogue is appalling and the role so limited that the performance can do no better than be rated average.


                            --------Critical comments--------
                            In terms of criticisms I would have to say that the film unquestionably drags towards the end. Many scenes could have been shortened/omitted to avoid this. For example, without spoiling anything, one scene, which is trying to provide humour to proceedings, feels particularly cheesy and screams of ‘include in deleted scenes section of the DVD, not in the main film’. Director Zwick obviously felt formulaic final scenes would appeal to the mass market. On this he seems correct as the film has achieved great success at the box office, but in terms of creating a film that will be remembered for years to come, he unfortunately fails. What's more, I also did not particularly like the relationship between Danny and Maddy, and the cliché wll-they-won’t-they-get-together storyline running through the film. Quite frankly this has been done to death in so many other films, that I would have preferred focus solely on the reasons why conflict diamonds are ghastly.


                            --------Final comments--------
                            All things considered I would say Blood Diamond can be recommended; just do not expect to watch a classic. This is a film that succeeds in making us think, as well as being a thoroughly entertaining movie. Blood Diamond is most definitely flawed, but because of its many redeeming qualities it is worth watching. Overall I would the rate the film with a very healthy seven out of ten. If Blood Diamond sounds like a movie that would appeal to you, it can (at the time of writing) be watched in cinemas nationwide.


                            --------
                            Technical Details:
                            Certificate: 15 and over
                            Duration: 2 hours 23 minutes
                            --------



                            Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

                            Comments

                            Login or register to add comments
                            • gamerankings.com / Internet Site / 54 Readings / 50 Ratings
                              More +
                              21.02.2007 08:34
                              Very helpful
                              (Rating)
                              3 Comments

                              Advantages

                              Disadvantages

                              A site with great depth, gaming fans should find heaps of articles to read

                              Having used this site for approximately a year now, I thought it was a good time to write my opinions. Owned by CNET, Gamerankings is a website devoted to providing a database on the latest computer games news, previews and reviews. For example the homepage states (at the time of writing) that there are 20,695 game titles in the database, as well as an impressive 558,536 p/review articles. Using reviews from numerous websites and magazines, gamerankings calculates the average score out of 100 granted to each game. The site can then list a series of rankings, such as best PlayStation 2 game, greatest platformer, worst beat-em-up, and so and so forth.

                              Gamerankings is not going to win any awards for most aesthetically pleasing website anytime soon. Pages look very basic, although this is not necessarily a bad thing because the site is relatively easy to navigate around. The homepage shows the most popular game, along with a brief description of how the game has been scoring, and then a list of other recently reviewed titles. In addition there is a search box towards the top left hand side of the page. Underneath one will see a list of the site contents, including gaming platforms the site has reviews for, features such as recommendations, statistics, and help. Other features include in house reviews and previews, which tend to be succinct, and a release date section. Unfortunately I find the latter rather irrelevant because the release schedule is for US audiences only. The very first entry in the site contents list is ‘The Rankings’, which should provide for fascinating reading. According to the website the 10 best games of all time are: 1.) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; 2.) Soul Calibur; 3.) Metroid Prime; 4.) Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube); 5.) GoldenEye 007; 6.) Super Mario 64; 7.) Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2); 8.) Half Life 2; 9.) Halo; and 10.) Tekken 3. In my opinion this is a very strong list, and I would only question the inclusion of the somewhat overrated Halo. As the top list proves, a game can score slightly differently depending on the format in question. Usually the reasons for this are graphical differences or extra modes included in one version. Therefore if you are fortunate enough to own numerous consoles, I would always advise checking which version suits your needs best.

                              There is the opportunity to register free of charge with the site. Simply go to the top of the website and click on ‘Create an Account’. Here you need to provide a user name, full name, password, email and whether you would like to receive the sites’ newsletter. Gamerankings will then send an email with a link to activate your account. The benefits of registering include the chance to write comments on a game, and rank games and companies. In my opinion registering with the site is not too beneficial, and only worthwhile if you have a burning desire write in the message boards or really feel inclined to review a game. Speaking of the message boards, they usually have discussions on a variety of the latest games and topical non-gaming topics, but are never extraordinary to read.

                              When clicking on a game that interests you, a summary screen is provided. This page will for instance state the game’s average score, show where the game stands in the overall database, and allow users to download any available trailers. At the top of the page there will be the option to click on the following:
                              (a) ‘Articles’ - a part of the site devoted to fully listing all reviews and previews that game has in addition to news articles. No one can read all the reviews, but viewing the IGN and GameSpot ones should be a good place to start, as they are extremely well written in my opinion.
                              (b) ‘User Revs’ – reviews provided by members of the site, some of which are a pretty decent standard, although most are exceptionally short and lacking real depth.
                              (c) ‘Forum’ – will list topics being discussed in the message boards specifically dealing with the game you are looking at.
                              (d) ‘Cheats’ – does what it says on the tin, by providing all manner of cheat codes and unlockables.
                              (e) ‘Screens’ – here one can view various screenshots, in excess of fifty in some cases.

                              I believe that as a general rule, anything rated 90 % and above is a game worth serious consideration. Nonetheless, it should always be borne in mind that a game can be rated incredibly highly but it may not be to your taste. Similarly a game can be negatively reviewed, but still a game that you get many hours of pleasure from. A review is just someone’s opinion, and you are entitled to agree or disagree. As such gamerankings should be seen as a site that could potentially assist in deciding which games to purchase.


                              --------The criticisms--------
                              As with similar sites, the average scoring system used is by no means perfect. Some reviewers do not use a 0-100 rating; they may score out of 5 or 10, whilst some grant a letter grade such as A- or C+. Thus the average score may be slightly distorted. For example: if a game receives reviews of 92%, 8/10 and B-, the average according to gamerankings is 82.33% (92 + 80 + 75 divided by 3). An 8 out of ten by one reviewer may not necessarily mean 80/100, and gamerankings is simply speculating that a B- equals 75/100. Also harming the accuracy of the scoring system is that gamerankings excludes using some reviews when calculating the average.

                              Unfortunately gamerankings search box is not the best I have ever come across. By making a slight error in the game title, a completely unrelated game may be shown. For example if one types in ‘Gd of War’, a logical and helpful search box would contain results for the awesome God of War and soon to be released sequel. The gamerankings search box is unwise and will lead to a completely unrelated game entitled Kingdom Under Fire. Another frustrating criticism I must mention is that when clicking on some reviews the link is dead. Linked to this point is the fact that not all reviews have links in the first place. Furthermore the screenshots the website contains are more thumbnails than proper shots that fill the page. If you want to see screenshots that do a game justice, then other sites will have to be checked. Finally, for those of you reading this commentary that are not gaming fans, gamerankings will be totally meaningless. A site I recently discovered such as rottentomatoes.com could prove more interesting as it provides a comprehensive database of reviews and previews for movies, DVDs as well as games.


                              --------Final comments--------
                              Gamerankings can be a very good resource for gamers. With plenty of previews and reviews the site can highlight which games are gaining critical acclaim. I would definitely recommend the site, but would warn against over reliance on simply looking at review scores and nothing more when buying games. Ask your friends and people who work in games shops which games are fun, and give more weight to reviewers you trust.


                              --------Contact details--------
                              Website address: http://www.gamerankings.com

                              Address:
                              Scott Bedard,
                              235 Second Street,
                              San Francisco,
                              CA 94105 US

                              Email: scott@gamerankings.com


                              --------
                              Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

                              Comments

                              Login or register to add comments
                              • More +
                                11.02.2007 15:35
                                Very helpful
                                (Rating)
                                7 Comments

                                Advantages

                                Disadvantages

                                The next generation console war starts after the PS3 is released!

                                Back in December 1994 Sony released the original PlayStation games console for grateful Japanese gamers. Thirteen years later the PlayStation brand is the market leader, and the third console in the franchise promises to be the best yet. This commentary will briefly outline what qualities the PlayStation 3 (PS3) has, as well as discussing the various delays the console has had to deal with.


                                There are two versions of the console – (a) one with 20 GB hard-drive and (b) a 60 GB edition. Initially only the latter will be made available in the UK (early unconfirmed indications suggest a October 2007 release for the former). A major selling point of the PS3 is that it will be able to play high definition Blu-ray movies. Also of interest is that it will use wireless controllers, has built in Wi-Fi, and the Internet service will be free to use. Furthermore, the console is backwards compatible, meaning it will play PS1 in addition to PS2 games.


                                Once upon a time the PS3 was going to be released Spring 2006 in Japan. Nonetheless this proved unachievable and Sony had to delay the console. The PS3 was finally released November 11 2006 in Japan, and in North America on November 17 2006. Unfortunately, Europe and Australia have to wait until March 23 2007. Therefore, once again the UK gets a bad deal. With a long history of delayed consoles, and games being released months/years later for PAL territories compared to NTSC counterparts, you would have hoped Sony could have made good their original assurance of a simultaneous worldwide release of the PS3. Alas, this was not meant to be. As well as a heavily delayed console, we have to deal with the PS3’s high price point of £425 for the hardware and a £49.99 cost for each game. Such prices are way too high for me to initially purchase the PS3 (Sony are more than welcome to send me one free of charge though). Therefore I may have to opt for one of the competitors’ next-generation consoles – Nintendo’s Wii or Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Most likely it will be the former because it is the cheapest option at £179.99, and I really like how Nintendo are focusing on releasing fun games and it has a really unique controller. On the other hand, the Xbox 360, depending on which reports you read is or nearly is as powerful as the PS3, and already boasts a strong catalogue of games (including Gears of War and Project Gotham Racing 3) because it has been on sale for over a year now. In addition the Xbox 360 is a significantly cheaper gaming option, the core version costing £199.99 whilst the premium package would has a price tag of £274.99. All things considered, I believe that the seventh generation of consoles will prove much harder for Sony to dominate.


                                I never initially buy a console because its wise to wait and see how many top-notch exclusives are on offer. As things stand the PS3 exclusives that really interest me include Final Fantasy XIII, Devil May Cry 4, and Metal Gear Solid 4. All these games will be released some time into the future, so I will just see how the console battle develops before buying, and am not overly concerned by the various delays. Nonetheless many will have been deeply disappointed by the delays and literally bursting with anticipation to play the powerful console come the end of March. One definite advantage of a delay for such gamers is that more games can initially be released compared to the American launch. There will be over 30 launch games, and include the likes of Ridge Racer 7, Virtua Fighter 5, and F.E.A.R. Personally when Sony finally releases the console it will hopefully mean the cost of PS2 games (new and second-hand) decreases, providing the opportunity to snap up a few bargains.


                                Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

                                Comments

                                Login or register to add comments
                                • More +
                                  02.02.2007 13:06
                                  Very helpful
                                  (Rating)
                                  15 Comments

                                  Advantages

                                  Disadvantages

                                  Games are not as bad as some make out

                                  I am a computer games player, and been so for many years now. This discussion topic is an interesting one, because it has and will continue to create powerful debate. First of all it is imperative that we establish what the word ‘harmful’ means. Using a strict dictionary definition we could say that ‘harmful’ means to cause or is capable of causing harm, whether that is an injury, damage, or other hurt. If you believe what’s written in certain national newspapers, then videogames are pure evil and most definitely ‘harmful’ to children, and a form of entertainment that should be banned with immediate effect.


                                  Scientific research does not satisfactorily help us answer the question posed. Some studies find that bad behaviour in children can be caused by violent games, whilst other research states the opposite, and go on to suggest that games can be good for children. Therefore it is best to draw on personal opinions in search of an answer. At the outset I would like to point out that games can have really positive effects, and can be seen as not ‘harmful’ at all. If you play a party game (such as Buzz: The Big Quiz) with the whole family it can only help bonding. Equally, going round a friend’s house to take part in a multiplayer game can facilitate socialising. Furthermore games are a fun activity, and can lead to much happiness for children. In addition, some puzzle games can really get the brain working, and challenge youngsters to find solutions.


                                  If children start bunking off school to play the latest games then clearly this is ‘harmful’ because their education will be adversely affected. However, it is parents’ responsibility to ensure this does not occur. I have never come across a game with advertising slogans readings ‘bunk off school; play this exceptional action game’. Similarly parents have the responsibility of not buying inappropriate games. Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt and God of War for example, have 18 certificates for a good reason; they all contain adult content. You would not allow a young child (at least I would hope not) to watch 18 certificate movies such as Saw III, Sin City or Kill Bill Volume 1. As a general rule, I suspect that parents respect the age certificates granted to movies far more than those given to video games. Too often I read of staff working in videogame stores stating how certain parents bluntly refuse suggestions to purchase Lego Star Wars or Ico because they are seen as ‘kiddie’ games, and opt to buy 18 plus games for their children. Such parents are very much misguided, and I would advise all parents to check the content of a game before letting a child play it. If they do not then they run the risk that videogames may be ‘harmful’ to their child, because the content may cause upset. Subsequently, if children play the games suitable for their age group, no ‘harm’ should come to them.


                                  Another way that some say that games are ‘harmful’ is because sitting down and staring at a TV screen leads to laziness and an obese society. Then again, a child could read William Shakespeare for five hours each day every day, but no one would describe reading the mastery of one of the greatest writers in history as ‘harmful’. In my opinion it is about doing things in moderation, be that playing computer games, football, rugby, swimming, chess, watching TV and so and so forth. Therefore children have to ensure they play responsively, and not some ludicrous 15-hour sessions for four days running. I am prepared to give the vast majority of children credit, and suggest most will know when enough is enough and take a break from a gaming session. Once again for any children who do not know when its time to turn a videogame off, then parents should be there to intervene.


                                  A real concern for me is games being banned or toned down due to controversy (Germany is a case in point). For example before the recent game Canis Canem Edit (initially known as Bully) was even released or much was known about its gameplay, some high profile people, especially in the US wanted it banned. Personally I think that this is preposterous. Game developers should have the freedom to create games of their choosing, whether that is an ultra violent free roaming adventure game, or a puzzle game with cheesy music. After all, I have played videogames through childhood into adulthood, but never have they been ‘harmful’ to me. I do not go around hitting old ladies, and am well adjusted. In conclusion we can answer the question in the following way: ‘Playing computer and video games should be a great way to relax and have fun for many children. Nonetheless, if young people play games aimed at adults or play excessively, then this has the potential to cause some ‘harm’. My argument would be that this ‘harm’ will not create a horde of mass murderers’.



                                  Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

                                  Comments

                                  Login or register to add comments
                                    More Comments