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TOPANGA

TOPANGA
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Member since: 13.08.2000

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      21.05.2002 10:30
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      I have had a lot of great movie going experiences (Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time on the big screen; American Beauty with the rowdy campus crowd; Fantasia 2000 with about thirty other people), but so far none can compare with seeing The Phantom Menace on opening day at the Cinema. There are no better movie fans, than Star Wars fans. Not only do they know the exact right moments to cheer, but?more importantly--they know when to be quiet. These kind of crowds are the reason we need event movies like this. Although my overall Attack of the Clones experience wasn't as good as The Phantom Menace, the movie is a step closer to our high expectations. It has been ten years since we last left young Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). During those ten years he has been training with his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor--not singing this time, sorry). Anakin believes that his abilities have improved beyond those of his master, and has become rebellious. When he and Obi-Wan are assigned to protect Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman), Anakin wants to hunt down the assassin, while Obi-Wan remind him to be mindful of his duties. Anakin uses Amidala as bait anyway, and soon he and Obi-Wan find themselves chasing the assassin through the streets (well, skies) of Coruscant. They find her in a bar, learn she was hired by a bounty hunter, but before they could get the name, she is killed. The Jedi Counsel--including Jedi masters Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) send Obi-Wan to hunt down the bounty hunter. They also give young Anakin his first assignment escorting the senator back to her home planet of Naboo and protecting her. It his here that the love story between Anakin and Amidala (the future parents of Luke and Leia) is played out. It was this love story that was my biggest problem with the film. It seems rushed and the dialogue is corny and unbelievable ("everything here is so soft and smoo th" may be the worst pickup line I have heard). I can more easily see these characters laughing at what the other is saying, than I can see them being wooed by it. In most love stories, there is at least one deeply romantic moment that makes the audience believe that these two are really meant for each other. This love story is missing that key element. Now you may argue that this is a Star Wars film and I shouldn't be focusing so much on the love story. But not only is this love story key to the entire series, this is not the first love story to invade a Star Wars film. I thought the relationship between Leia and Han was much better developed. Remember the scene when Han is about to be frozen in carbonite. When Leia tells him she loves him and he responds with "I know." That is the type of moment this love story needed to be effective. Meanwhile, while Anakin and Amidala are wooing each other on Naboo, Obi-Wan has traced the bounty hunter to a strange planet. Here he learns of the creation of a clone army. The bounty hunter, Jango Fett, is the model for these clones that will soon become Storm Troopers. Jango did request one unaltered clone for himself. If you know your Star Wars, then you will realize that this "son", Boba Fett, will eventually earn a handsome bounty for delivering Han Solo to Jabba the Hut. After an interesting fight scene (did Obi-Wan learn Karate after watching The Matrix?), Obi-Wan follows Jango to the planet of Geonosis. There he learns of a plot initiated by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, who also plays the villain in The Lord of the Rings) to destroy the Republic with the help of a new droid army. It is the responsibility of the few remaining Jedi to stop this plot and restore peace to the galaxy. That basic plot summary builds up to the final third of the movie when most of the action takes place. If it seems long, that's because it is. I thought the first half of the movie was to slow when I first saw the film and when I saw the film a second time, I thought it was much, much to slow. This is mostly due to the extra setup needed to explain not only the end of this film, but Episode III as well. The film's slow beginning is redeemed by its action filled ending. We finally get to see some of our favorite characters in battle, like Mace Windu and C-3PO (sort of). The best moment of all, however, comes when Yoda trades in his walking stick for a lightsaber. The little green Jedi finally gets a chance to show why everyone calls him a great warrior. That alone is worth a trip to the theater. The turning point in the film comes about an hour and a half into the film (at two hours and twenty minutes this is the longest Star Wars film yet) when Anakin goes in search of his mother. This is not only the turning point in the film, but the turning point of this entire trilogy. It just might be the point of no return for young Anakin, on his journey towards the dark side. Without giving too much away, remember, pain and anger lead to the dark side. This film's development of Anakin makes it much easier to believe his eventual defection to the dark side. If you are like me, you had a hard time believing that that cute little boy from The Phantom Menace could ever be evil. In this film you can see that some evil force (if you will) is working within Anakin. We begin to see the anger and pain of which Yoda has been warning us. It is even expressed in the film's costumes. Notice that through most of the film Anakin wears a black vest over his Jedi costume. Many times he is also wearing a long robe, waiving behind him, suggesting the dark cape of Vader. The comic relief in this film is supplied, not by Jar Jar, but by C-3PO. Whom, let's face it, should have had the job in the first place. Although C-3PO doesn't appear until about halfway through the film, he makes up for it with his hilarious troubles in a droid factory. I t seems George Lucas is beginning to realize that the original trilogy's success was due in large part to his two lovable droids. It's hard to review a movie like this, because whether or not the final product is good or not, there is no way I could tell you not to go see it. Personally, I knew going in that as long as it opened with "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . " I would not leave disappointed. It's Star Wars. It's not a movie, it's an event. Which is why I recommend seeing this as soon as you can, because the bigger the crowd, the better. The movie's faults pale in comparison with its overall appeal. I give it a B+.

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        21.05.2002 09:44
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        Easily the most anticipated films to be released last year,among mainly children but more than a few adults as well. You can hardly go into any town without spotting something "Harry Potter" related at the moment,publicising the video and DVD release. Thankfully it`s all worth it,as you probably know by now with the film being a huge success and with the promise of more films in the series to come. The three child actors are everything you would expect them to be and thankfully the makers have used British children as opposed to their American counterparts. Although the director is American and some of the darker elements are missing from the film he does a good job and keeps more or less true to the book. With such a wealth of acting,as is on show here he could hardly go wrong,Maggie Smith,Richard Harris,Ian Hart and Julie Walters all make valuable contributions,but it`s Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley who gets most of the best lines and facial expressions. Harry Potter (Radcliffe) is an 11 year old boy who lives with his aunt and uncle Dursley,after the death of his real parents. The Dursleys hate him and make him live the cupboard under the stairs. They are also keeping a big secret from him,one that manifests itself on his birthday in the form of a huge hairy groundskeeper called Hagrid (Coltrane). He arrives to take Harry to a very special school,one which will change his lifestyle forever,will make him many friends and also more than a few enemies. The double disc DVD also boasts a host of extras including a self guide tour of Hogwarts:theatrical trailers;a visit to Olivanders where you can pick out a wand;sessions in different classes at Hogwarts and a quest to find the Philosopher`s Stone which rewards you with deleted film clips from the finished movie. All in all a great film and good clean fun which everyone in the family will enjoy.

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          21.05.2002 09:00
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          After losing a couple of water bottles, getting mouthfuls of mud/cow muck and running out of water I came to the conclusion that it was time to invest in a hydration pack. I was looking for something that could carry everything that I would need for a long day out riding, with enough room for plenty of water or juice, spare tube, multi tool, mini pump, various snacks, camera and maybe a waterproof. To be perfectly honest I had already decided on a Camelbak because of their proven track record, it was just a case of deciding which one. The M.U.L.E or Medium to Ultra Long Endeavours, seemed to have everything I wanted. The M.U.L.E is built around the 100oz(approx 3ltr) fluid reservoir with big bite valve. The outside pocket has plenty of room for all my kit including spare tube and tools, separated into small interior compartments making them easy to find. There is one big main pocket with room for mini pump, camera and maps etc. Also on the outside is elastic storage webbing with plenty of room for waterproofs. Plenty of padding makes this a very comfortable and useable pack, which I would recommend to anyone. After twelve months use I am still really happy with my M.U.L.E. which still looks as good as new, but could do with the chest strap for stability, which I think does come with the 2002 model. I think that priced at around £60, what you get is good value for money. And for me now, the only time I get a mouthful of muck is when I fall off.

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            24.05.2001 09:48
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            Forums and message boards just another gimmick I hear you say,well that`s what I used to say. What possible use could they be to me. Well now I know better,just about everything you need or want to know can be asked as a question on one forum or another. I personally use a mountain bike forum more than any other,and some of the things I have found out about is astonishing. Most questions are answered in minutes usually by someone with far greater knowledge of the subject than myself,and often with offers of further help or more indepth answers if needed. Where else could you get this type of help and information readily available and free of course. So you could say that I am a big fan of forums in general,and find them a very useful resource.

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            • Top 10 Albums / Discussion / 1 Reading / 22 Ratings
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              24.05.2001 09:24
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              Every now and again when I look through my music collection I think to myself - what a strange and diverse collection of music I have. However when you sit down and think about it,it is after all MY collection and in some ways it tells a story.Each album has its own tale and place in my life,lets face it we all have songs that mean something to us,that remind us of a certain phase we went through or a particular time of our lives. On that note here is my list of top ten albums. No 1 Paul Simon - Graceland. When I bought this album it was for the hit You Can Call Me Al,however I can honestly say I know every word of every song. No 2 Meatloaf - Bat Out Of Hell One of the all time rock classics,and who can say they have never sang one of these songs to their girlfriend eh. No 3 Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman A very soulful and moving album best listened to on your own,in peace and quiet. No 4 Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californication. A very loud and brash album,the louder the better.Great for listening to whilst driving. No 5 Savage Garden - Affirmation. One of those albums bought just for one song that just grows on you. No 6 Toploader - Onka`s Big Moka. Another one of those albums bought for one song which manages to make you think what great artist some people are. No 6 Marianne Faithful - Broken English. The voice of this woman enthralls me,and some of the explicit lyrics really open your eyes if not your mind. No 7 Coldplay - Parachutes Another thought provoking album,and how does he sing like that. No 8 REM - Automatic For The People. One of those that will go down in history as a classic album. No 9 The Monkees - Greatest Hits Great singalong album with songs that we all know the words to even if we don`t like to admit to it. No 10 Tina Turner - Break Every Rule. Some fantastic timeless songs just like Tina herself. Well that`s my list,obviously subject to change as newer albums add to my collection.

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                17.05.2001 21:58
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                This album was bought for one song only....the one I had heard in the charts...Mr Writer. I sang along to it and just had to have it!! Having bought the cd I have realised that I have indeed got a bargain! (Imagine me as chuffed as that Jamie Oliver with his freebie lunch!! ;) ) Every single track on this remarkable cd is fantastic! Each and every one becomes your "new" favourite.....only to be replaced during the next 3 mins! The lyrics sheet is also sooooo cool! It's got the original handwritten lyrics complete with doodles...well I liked it.The band comment on each track too. Stereophonics have a web-site at: www.stereophonics.v2music.com Go and have a look!

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                • Rise - Gabrielle / Music Album / 0 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                  17.05.2001 21:41

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                  GABRIELLE.....RISE This is an excellent choice if you need inspiring and thought-provoking music to touch that little sentimental place in the old ticker! All your favourites are included, mine is "OUT OF REACH". This song is one you must have heard blaring out of peoples' cars as they enjoy reflecting on their past relationships and where they went wrong. Let's face it, what is more intriguing than unrequited love. My special edition includes no less than 5 hit singles plus 2 bonus tracks and 3 videos. The enhanced CD Rom Videos (PC Only) are "Rise", "Sunshine" and "When a woman". Please go out and buy this cd.....you won't regret it....and the woman in your life will love it! :)

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                • Marin Mount Vision / Bikes / 1 Reading / 15 Ratings
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                  01.05.2001 03:21
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                  A change is due After having a great time with my old bike I decided it was time for a change.Even after riding my old bike for nearly eighteen months and having the feeling of really being connected to it I still felt there was something missing.I didn`t need to think about how the bike would handle but had time to see what was coming up ahead and work out how to tackle it.Still in my case there was one or two sections on my favourite trail that I just couldn`t clear. Putting that together with the fact that everything on my old bike was wearing out at the same time,and I really wanted to change to disc brakes had made up my mind.Time for a new bike. Full suspension to give me that elusive clean run,and discs to lift my braking surfaces out of the mud and cut out expensive rim wear.The choice came down to two - The Marin or a Trek Fuel.After taking the Marin out for a day I was convinced. Marin bikes have been described of the Ford Mondeo of the trails.This I feel sems to be a pretty good description.Like the Mondeo the Marin has its good and bad points,but on the whole the good outweigh the bad. Its main advantage has to be its capability downhill and over technical terrain.After a few rides on my new bikes I found that those elusive bits on my favourite trails would soon be easily cleared.The other thing I noticed was that I could ride further.Ride lengths became considerably extended and recovery times shortened.I can only put this down to the full suspension making the overall ride less stressful on my body as a whole. So with all the improved Marin downhill speed,technical prowess and total ride comfort has my overall speed increased? No,in fact it has not changed noticeably at all.This I put down to two factors.Firstly,the uphill performance.Riding a full sus bike is harder uphill.Not by much perhaps but definately harder.Secondly,I find the Marin does not ask to be ridden as hard as my old bike.The Marin is li ke Motorway Mondeo Man - Long distances in comfort and at a fair speed with the odd flat out belt when necessary. So overall with the Hope disc upgrade taking the total cost to a smidgen over Two Grand,is it worth it? Well I have to say a loud "YES". This is what you get for your money. Frame 6000 series Aluminium Shock Fox float rc Forks Manitou Mars Super,80 mm Groupset Shimano XTR Rims Mavic X517 Tyres Maxis M 129 Kevlar Heaset WTB momentum comp Al

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                  • Mountain Biking in general / Discussion / 0 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                    19.04.2001 08:24
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                    If like me you are a committed mountain biker,then no doubt you will have heard of this mountain bike paradise called Coed-y-Brenin. Situated just outside Dolgellau in North Wales this forest has everything you would ask for as a mountain biker. There are different waymarked routes of varying lengths and ability providing something for everyone. After your thrash around the trails there is also a cafe where you can find a mug of hot sweet tea and freshly baked Welsh cakes to set you up for your next adventure into the forest. Amongst the variety of trails on offer the Red Bull trail has to be my favourite,it involves 7 miles of riding on a wide variety of tracks from fast forest roads,rocky rough and tumble tracks and brilliant technical singletracks. For more information on this or any of the trails on offer you can contact Dafydd Davies at.... Dogellau Forest District Government Buildings Arran Road Dolgellau LL40 1LW Telephone 01341 422289 Alternatively you can ring the visitor centre direct on 01341 440666 And if you haven`t been to Coed-y-Brenin yet then you really should take a trip there you will not be disappointed.

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                    • bikemagic.com / Internet Site / 1 Reading / 53 Ratings
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                      23.11.2000 21:47
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                      BIKEmagic is the only website you will need to find out everything and anything to do with all types of cycling and everything to do with bikes. When you first enter the site you will be greeted by the latest news about everything cycling related,which is kept very much upto date. You will also be given a menu ,from which you can choose any of these these sections to look at. < My BIKEmagic > This section will let you enter your own details and preferences about the type of rider you are and the type of news and reveiws which you are interested in,thus tailoring to your specific requirements. < Shopping > This section will give you all sorts of information on where to buy any items you need,and will provide you with links to reccomended suppliers. < Travel > All your travel needs are catered for in this informative and comprehensive section related to all different types of cycling holiday and places to stay. < Search > In this section you can search out any particular item,review,ride,rider....etc etc etc. < Calander > Any event,local or otherwise is listed here. <Classifieds > This is where you want to be if you want to buy,sell or even swap anything to do with bikes ,from whole bikes down to the smallest item you can think of ....it`s all here. < Chain links > Here you will find links to other sites of related items.From shops to international clubs. < Local Stuff > As described this section will give you anything local to you.Once you have entered your postcode you will be given a choice of sections,including rides,riders,shops and clubs all within a specified radius....25,50,or 100 kilometres or anywhere. < Forum > The forum is where you can ask for advice,give advice,read other peoples questions and answers,arrange rides,swop routes even have a moan to othe r like minded people. < Contact Us > This section on the menu will give you a direct link to the editors of the website,who will be happy to recieve comments and feedback on any aspect of this website. < News > Here you will be updated with any cycling related news as soon as it happens.If it is not reported here then it hasn`t happened. < Reveiws > This area is where all the latest bikes and gear are put to the test by real riders.You can expect the whole truth about any tested items without bias,if the reveiws are good here then you can be sure that whatever is reviewed really is good. So as you can see from this description,if you want to know about anything to do with cycling or cycles then this must be your first port of call.

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                      • Elton John in general / Archive Music / 0 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                        23.11.2000 07:53
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                        SIR Elton John has had a truly monumental career - and has spanned a longer period than anyone else of his rock superstar stature. This greatest hits album was recorded live at Madison Square Garden in october and features special guests such as Bryan Adams,Kiki Dee and Ronan Keating. If you name a classic from Sir Elton,it is here - Rocket man,Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,Crocodile rock,Daniel,Your Song....... His duet with Bryan Adams on Sad Songs is a classic and could end up as a single along with Your Song with Ronan Keating,which has `number one`written all over it. Another piece of genius from the grand old dame of pop.......

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                        • Toy Story 2 (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                          11.11.2000 21:40
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                          A brilliant follow-up to the first computer animated masterpiece with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen once again giving voice to toy buddies Woody the cowboy and space ranger Buzz Lightyear. Andy`s away at summer camp when unscrupulous toy collector Al shanghais Woody from a garage sale to sell to a Japanese museum. Woody (Tom Hanks) is part of a rare set including his horse Bullseye,cowgirl Jessie and prospector Stinkie Pete - but Al has reckoned without Woody`s other pals. Led by the fearless Buzz,Mr Potato head,Ham the piggy bank,Rex the nervous dinosaur and Slinky Dog set out across town to rescue Woody and bring him back home in time for Andy`s return. It`s wonderful stuff for kids and adults alike with a funny script,marvellous animation and plenty of action - Woody and Buzz are a great comic team.

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                          • Cycling / Discussion / 0 Readings / 47 Ratings
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                            17.10.2000 09:35
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                            To most people being fit means having a greater endurance capacity or being able to keep going for longer.At the core of this process is the cardiovascular system - your heart,lungs and blood. When you exercise,your muscles need more oxygen in order to convert their fat and carbohydrates stores into usable energy.As you get fitter your CV system improves its ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles.At the same time your muscles adapt and become more efficient in their use of oxygen,as well as increasing their carbohydrate stores. So regular biking trips can cause all these things to happen.... LUNGS.. ---------- The bodyneeds oxygen to produce energy to keep you biking.Frequent exercise develops the body`s ability to both take in and then deliver oxygen to the exercising muscles.Which means you can cycle harder for longer periods of time. BLOOD AND VEINS ----------------- Exercising muscles demand more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to them.To do this blood flow increases with more capillaries developing in the muscles.In addition there`s a greater opening of existing capillaries and more effective blood distribution.Plus your resting blood pressure decreases. BRAIN ------- Exercise causes the releases of endorphins (natural pain killers) in the brain.This is why after exercising you feel great,almost as if you`re on a high.This helps to combat the effects of stress. MUSCLES --------- Your muscles become more efficient at generating energy and combatting tiredness,so they can keep working for longer periods of time. This happens in a number of ways.... * They can tolerate greater levels of lactic acid,the substance which causes that tying up feeling in your muscles,this is known as the lactate threshold. *they can store more carbohydrate (the muscle fuel). *there is an increase in the substances in the muscle which enable it to work longer and harder b efore tiring. HEART ------- Your heart is a type of muscle,and it develops in response to exercise in a similar way to the rest of the muscles in your body.To provide for the demand for greater bloodflow around the body the following happens.... *it gets bigger and stronger. *it becomes more efficient and can pump more blood with each beat.When you`re exercising flat-out this means you can exercise even harder. *consequently your heart rate decreases,both while exercising and resting. BONES ------- Exercise increases both bone and muscle density.This means there is less risk of developing osteoporosis (brittle bone disease). BODY WEIGHT ------------- To fuel your activities your body burns more calories.This results in both body weight and the amount of body fat decreasing. So all in all,cycling has to be a great all round,healthy pastime.

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                              05.10.2000 04:59
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                              Just like the TV show,this game recreates the atmosphere and suspense that made the show such a success. It contains all the familiar features of the TV show including,phone-a-friend,ask the audience and 50:50. The questions are written by the original question masters from the show - which does show. You can compete by yourself,in teams or even head to head. There is even a highest score table,so you can chart your progress towards becoming a virtual millionaire. Now that`s all the good bits out of the way,the real downside of this game is that b****y awful Chris Tarrant,he gets to do all the talking.And yes he is just as annoying as he is on the telly. Then you have to try to get the kids off,so you can have a go yourself. All in all a very realistic and popular with all the family,entertaining game. You can also buy this game for Playstation. If only the money you could win came out of your printer at the end........

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                              • Three Kings (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                                23.09.2000 23:37
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                                MANY excellent films have been made about Americas involment in the Vietnamese War,such as Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse now - but this entertaining and emotive drama focuses on the Gulf War. It was a brave decision to make a major film on this controversial conflict,which still has political relevance but I feel it has been done in a succesful manner. After the discovery of a top secret map which reveals the location of millions of dollars of stolen Kuwaiti gold,a motley crew of U S soldiers,led by Major Archie Gates (George Clooney),decide to go on a treasure hunt in the deserts of Iraq. Of course nothing goes to plan and the soldiers,who include the underrated Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube,run straight into a vicious civil war. Horrific scenes of brutality are served with lashings of dark humour that combine to create an enjoyable 110 minutes. Unlike,The Patriot,this is a well-balanced historical account and is not merely an excuse to polish American ego's. In fact,George Bush,the President in charge at the time of this war,is roundly criticised throughout and much of our sympathy is directed towards the Iraqi people. In my opinion this is the main reason it did not do better at the cinema.For those of you who enjoy action and political war movies,this is a must.

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