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kingsraconteur

kingsraconteur
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Member since: 13.05.2009

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      16.11.2011 10:09
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      Hard core role playing

      You would think after spending a goodly amount of my valuable time on the follow up to this game I'd buy the original at a later date (yes, I know most people would play the original before the sequel but hey, I like to be different!). Alas, I spotted this at £11.99 on a one day special on Play.com and thought, hmm, why not. This is only available for the PS3 as far as I'm aware and the version I purchased is the standard one. There is a limited edition game available but I do tend to find these limited editions rather gimmicky to be honest. Anyway, back to the game. I have been playing this for a good few hours so I've got a pretty good insight to what is going on. Again, you can feel the Kingsfield ancestry rattling through the game's bones and it is a wonderfully crafted world you'll be exploring. I must admit, I was quite chuffed with myself for staying alive through the tutorial level until I met some overinflated bag of flesh called the Vanguard who took great delight in swatting me with some giant club. There are a host of different characters you can choose to be from barbarians, mages, royalty and so forth. I decided to select the thief who comes armed with a dagger and a bow with too few arrows. It was the first time I'd been reduced to a bloody pile of mush and certainly not the last. Yes, you will die, again and again. Unlike Dark Souls, when you die you are taken to a type of limbo known as the Nexus. Oh, and you also lose a big rack of hit points just to make things even easier for you which can only be returned once you defeat the big bad boss who has took possession of your soul. The Nexus is a place where you can talk to certain NPC's as well as drop off excess baggage and purchase weapon upgrades, medicinal materials and so forth. You can also level up but not until you've taken care an outstanding task which is a real pain. The first few enemies are a breeze but it isn't long before you find yourself outnumbered and outmatched. There's a particularly evil knight with red eyes who seems to take great delight in skewering me at the end of a polearm but I will find a way to bump him off. You've also got to be aware of a slew of insidious traps ranging from giant stone balls running you over to fire breathing dragons who enjoy the taste of fresh roasted daft adventurers. Like Dark Souls you leave a bloodied pile behind when you die along with any souls you would have collected. Souls are the currency in this game and if you've been saving for that extra special plate mail chestplate you'd best not make a mistake in trying to retrieve it. For, if you die before regaining your souls then I'm afraid it's a case of tough luck, they're gone for good. Eventually after quite a few trials and tribulations I managed to stumble across the first big bad boss. The dreaded wall of fog warns you of his approach and it wasn't long before I was sent back to the Nexus after being at the wrong end of a spear attack. Sigh, bang went my souls and most of my healing, so I had to knuckle down and try again. I soon fathomed out a weakness and also a rather annoying foible. On the controller, you can highlight the character you want to attack and I manoeuvred myself into position to deliver a blow to a beastie's back only for the target to switch to another. This meant I was flailing mindlessly in mid air whilst being royally skewered. In a strange way, this adds to the charm though. You learn to adapt and when the giant tumbles you feel very pleased and even more relieved that you wont have to go through it all over again. There is an online option but as before I haven't explored this yet. What puts me off to be honest is that you can be invaded by hostile adventurers and whilst I appreciate a lot of people enjoy that I much prefer the co-operative approach. However, that's my own personal take and the online approach has been highly vaunted within the gaming fraternity. In short, a tough rewarding game which isn't quite as good as the follow up (well, it shouldn't be really should it) but still a damn rewarding if sometimes frustrating experience. Most certainly recommended and you will spend hours on it if you get hooked.

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      14.11.2011 12:52
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      One of the best games around

      I find myself with some spare time of late so thought it was about time I popped back to say hello. Alas, being dormant for so long has led to my points evaporating but serves me right. Anyhow, I digress, I recently purchased the PS3 version of the above game and sometimes wish I hadn't. The reason why I wish I didn't is because this damnable game will eat heavily into your time and before you know it, hours will have disappeared and you wonder just what the hell happened to your day. I've played From titles way back on the Playstation which fell under the banner of Kingsfield. They were pretty uncompromising, a bit basic but very rewarding. Dark Souls takes this to a whole new level. The main deal with Dark Souls is that it is very old school. You can't pause the game for one, so if you want to fiddle around with your inventory then best you find somewhere safe or be damn quick with the controller or you will die. Unlike some games you can only save at certain points. This can be so frustrating, especially when battling through hordes of beasts and only to fall when you decide to go that step too far. Result means you have to then trawl back through the level and hope you can claim back your souls. Now, souls are a pivotal part of the game, in fact they are the currency and this is where Dark Souls can be very cruel. When you fall you have one chance to get back to where you died and claim back your souls and any lost humanity (I haven't quite worked out the purpose of humanity yet but it seems to affect the items you discover and being able to summon help on rare occasions). If you should fall again before you get your souls then prepare to launch your controller at the screen because you've lost them for good. You also get bonfires where you do get to recuperate and more importantly level up. However, if you should decide to rest then all the creatures you have slain will re-appear. This gives you the dilemma of carrying on or banking what you've done so far. This is where the hard work really starts as you need to start levelling up before moving on. You can gamble and rush ahead but chances are you will end up a bloody mess at the foot of some skeleton or dark knight should you do so. Bosses? Oh yes, this game has plenty of them. In fact one of the first you will encounter appears very early in the game and is pretty damn tough and will almost certainly crush you until you work out a path to victory. It is also incredibly rewarding when you work out how to beat them after they've been jumping up and down on your carcass for the last half an hour! This game also introduces a real sense of foreboding when you come across the dreaded passage of white light. It could lead you to a whole new unexplored area with that heavenly bonfire nearby or you'll find yourself face to face with a dreaded demon who will laugh at your temerity to enter their realm. They're also beautifully created and can be a tad on the gigantic side compared to little old you. You get to select your main character from a range of classes yet you are not restricted to that genre. You may well start with a thief but decide you might want to up his sorcery as well as their brawn. I've a couple of characters on the go, one is a thief and the other a pyromancer and each one has their own method of dealing with this infandous realm. Sound also plays a key part in the game. A shuffle of footsteps can warn you of impending doom or the roar of a dragon above warns you not to climb those stairs. You might even jump ( I did when I first saw the red dragon flew above me the first time I played!). There is also an online mode which at present I haven't explored but I've heard it is extremely good where you can either help or annoy your fellow explorers. I may come back to this after I've completed the game but I'm wasting enough time as it is! For those looking for a quick fix this game is certainly not for them. You have to be prepared to be annoyed, to put in the hard work and you will reap the rewards. If you have the patience then you will find this game very enjoyable in the long run, others I would say steer well clear. Oh, and I'll remind you once again, you will waste hours of your life on this game once you get hooked! In short, a game that is definitely worth exploring.

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      • Come Dine With Me / TV Programme / 42 Readings / 39 Ratings
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        07.03.2010 10:05
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        A nice way to slay half an hour

        What's happening to me? There was a time I would rather stick my head in an oven and inhale the fumes of yesterday's dinner than watch a programme such as this (I have an electric cooker by the way), yet here I am viewing yet more reality TV nonsense. What next, will I become a soap addict...Please God no! Anyhow, picture the scene. I am recumbent in a most comfortable settee and chilled out in my usual relaxed position after a day's graft. Coach Trip has departed for somewhere else and it's half an hour before the eggheads are on. Ergo, tis time to dine (as said by one of the guests on this show not so long ago). The show is voiced over by a certain David Lamb (he'd best be careful with a name like that lest he gets roasted!) who provides an hilarious commentary as the four (sometimes five) hosts attempt to cook a full course meal for their guests. The ultimate aim is to win a grand in their quest to provide an evening of gourmet excellence. Once again you'd think this premise for a show would be rather dull. However it seems that the diners/cooks seem to be in the Michael Winner school of critical epicures. The comments they provide after the event are well over the top (the biggest put down I've seen so far is 'It was like eating s***!!!) The amount of times I've heard them say oh the flavours were bland, the texture wasn't as it should be, presentation was poor, etc amuses me no end, especially when Mr Lamb puts in his witty asides to their pompous remarks. I also fancy that despite probably enjoying the food the guests will make the disparaging remarks to justify a low score. Of course, then that leaves the door open for them to get a better mark for their night's entertainment. Skullduggery: surely not? Nevertheless, the hosts of the evening aren't averse to pulling a few strokes themselves. I recall an actress winning after she got the local restaurant to cook her meal for her and then receive the dinners around the back of the house whilst the guests remained oblivious. She did admit to cheating and fair play to the guests who applauded her cheek. Often though, the cooks attempts to provide food from the Gods often results in grub from the gutter. Often the main contributor is alcohol as the cooks attempt to settle their nerves. Of course you get the inept cooks who don't know their spatulas from their serviettes but believe that a quick read of a recipe book will ensure they grab a grand. A topic which often infuriates the guests is the amount of time they have to wait for their dinner. It's incredible when some cooks leave everything to the last minute and we find they have no time to host and leave their ravenous critics gazing at their watches rather than their plates. You also get the guests having a good old rummage around their hosts house. They will literally look anywhere to dig out a bit of dirt on their caterer which can be unfortunate for the poor old cook of honour. If it was me I'd lay mousetraps in every draw for those prying fingers! So is this a five star programme or a grubby cafe on the corner of Old Kent Road Street? Well, it isn't quite Mayfair but I think maybe a Leicester Square type of programme (*waits whilst everyone dashes to their Monopoly boards*) It's fun, brightens my evening and kills an half hour of my life. By the way, if it was me hosting the guests would receive an advert for the local Chinese :D An ode to fin. On the eve at half of five, On Channel 4 a series not live, A den of eaters and fiery cooks, All better than recipe books. A dash of humour from Mr Lamb, Whilst diners pretend to not give a damn. Yet all the while they want the prize, A glittery grand at the others demise. Stunts will be made and scores will be dealt, Low they will be if mouths will not melt, Yet in the end there can be only one, Who'll claim the prize and scream 'I've won.' And on that note I bid you a most hearty adieu :D

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        • Coach Trip / TV Programme / 37 Readings / 36 Ratings
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          06.03.2010 12:04
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          Part of the early evening viewing.

          I was most annoyed when I turned the gogglebox on a few weeks expecting to see Mr Wogan's Total Recall only to discover that it had been booted off for a programme about a set of passengers on a coach. I quite enjoyed the cerebral challenge and now instead I had this pile of nonsense to endure. With a sigh I settled down upon the settee and was sure it wouldn't be long before I hit the TV guide button and find something else to view at what is a pretty awful time of the day to find anything worth watching. Imagine my surprise when I found that I actually watched this totally pointless programme and even more surprising is that it still takes up my viewing time. For the uninitiated this series is about a chap called Brendan taking a group of passengers around Europe (and by the looks of things) eventually Africa. He is a rather camp individual and a joyful soul as he tries his best to keep his rabble of followers entertained whilst they find various things to do in random locations. The premise sounds unbearingly dull and indeed it would be if not for one word: Cheating! The lengths to which some of the passengers will go to to ensure their survival is nauseating to say the least. From what I've seen so far a group of young travellers soon hit on the idea of bandying together to form a treacherous alliance to prevent their removal. It is cringe worthy to see them systematically unite to stick the 'reality' boot into their oblivious victims who seem to suffer extreme myopia regarding their nefarious shenanigans. The way the victims are decided is through a vote off system via a yellow and red card at the end of the day's trip. This is the moment when the cabal of forked tongues are at their worst as they explain their pathetic reasoning for voting off their chosen sacrifice. The victims responses range from emotions of relief, anger, tearfulness and even violent rage (well almost). Ultimately though it does make for entertaining television for all the wrong reasons. So would I recommend this programme? That is a tough question. At times you feel as if you're watching a baby seal getting stamped on by a heavy reality jackboot but feel compelled to watch. I think I keep watching as there's bugger all else on and secondly that I can't wait for the day when the little twerps to get their comeuppance. So yes, it is worth watching but if I'm to be honest I wished they'd have kept Total Recall on. Hmm, it's time for one of those odes... Oh dear Mr Wogan where have you gone? Now I endure a programme that's just all wrong. A gaggle of humans tossed on a bus, And goodness me they make a bothersome fuss. From country to country they sit and plot, Ensuring the journey gets ever so hot, Fisticuffs and rage, we've had it so far, Bet some of these passengers wished for a car. And so I pray the alliance will fall, Then no more will they sit tall, Until that happens there'll be no release, And Brendan'll struggle to keep the peace. And on that note this poem will end, Beware of friends who are but pretend. And on that note I bid you a hearty adieu :D

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          • District 9 (DVD) / DVD / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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            01.03.2010 20:55
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            Worth shelling out for.

            This film surprised me. When it arrived through my letterbox from lovefilm I was hopeful for a good movie but nevertheless concerned that it might be a load of old crustaceans (more of that later). Still, with disc in hand I fired on my PS3, reclined on the settee and hoped the film was decent enough to prevent a slide into a most welcome slumber. Early signs of the film weren't that great. We have the main actor performing in what seemed to be an almost David Brentesque role in a documentary format as he expounds on the joys of dealing with prawns and helping them fit into our wonderful planet. Eh? I hear you exclaim. Prawns? Has Jaques Costeau come back from the dead talking to packs of Tesco's value range on a kitchen table. No, you can discount that surreal thought and instead listen to another. The prawns in question refer to a derogatory term given by the human populace to a horde of aliens who are living in South Africa in filthy ghettos. Hmm, strange idea but I can assure you it works. Without giving too much away lets just say the hero begins the tale as a condescending little twit who takes pride in upsetting the intergalactic refugees. His trigger happy chums take great joy in cajoling the little prawns (well, actually they're about 8 foot tall I reckon) into line and Lord help the xenomorph who gets uppity. Alas for Wikus Van De Merwe (great name and oh, the condescending little twit by the way) he picks up something he shouldn't and things then start going rather shrimp shaped for him. The film shifts away from the documentary style to a more cinematic viewpoint and there are actually quite a few nifty special effects along the way. Wikus is forced to change his view and whole life as he is forced to befriend the alien guests to achieve what he desperately needs. It also forces him to approach a group of ruthless Nigerian gun lords who have set up a HQ in the extra terrestrial ghetto. This was a very controversial move by Peter Jackson and indeed it caused the Nigerians to be very offended by the way they are portrayed. I seem to remember the Nigerian government issuing a protest about the film and after seeing it I can see why. All I'll say here is that they are shown as a savage and ruthless group who do anything they pretty much want in the compound. All this leads to Wikus moving closer to his goal and of course to one big old showdown. It's in the climax of the film where we get some excellent eye candy style effects with plenty of whizzes and bangs going off in all directions. Eventually it forces Wikus (who is shown as a pretty amoral selfish character) to make a massive choice a la Clash as in Should I stay or Should I go? What does he do? Well, watch the film and find out :D I have to say this film hit top marks for me. I loved the storyline, the characters and the aliens. The effects were fantastic and I also enjoyed the ending which leaves the door open for a sequel (yes please!) The story is very original and not afraid to raise some rather self analytical questions about how governments/organisations/people act. Definitely worth a look and I haven't done a poem for a while but this Crabonza of a film inspired me :D Oh the life of a stranded prawn, Far from home and all forlorn, Guests inhabiting an Afrikaan place, Tendrils dangling from a shelly face. Hardship endured under a foreign sun, Terran authority will not be undone, In squalor and depravity they fritter away, Waiting for a glorious day, When once again they'll ride the stars, Far beyond Uranus and Mars, Yet for now they'll obey the rules, In a world that's run by fools. Ahem, that'll do and I bid my dear readers a most fond adieu and this film is most heartily recommended .

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              26.02.2010 21:58
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              Go get a a fortune :D

              Every now and then I find a game that surprises me. Sometimes for being overhyped and err rather poor and just occasionally a little bit of gold dust comes floating onto my telly. I got this game through my rewards from MBNA and wasn't expecting a great deal. It looked like Tomb Raider and will also remind you of Indiana Jones. I plumped for this as it had good reviews on the whole and well, it didn't cost me too many reward points. So, on a lazy Sunday morning I deposited the disc into the slot on my PS3 and expected to play it for an hour or so before sending the game to the back of the games cupboard. Almost 12 hours later and I was still playing! Tsk, not good I'm sure you'll agree but this little bugger is damn addictive and has some excellent visuals. It's not the visuals so much that draw you in though but a good storyline and more importantly excellent gameplay. The difficulty level can be adjusted from Easy to Hard with a crushing mode that can be unlocked. Alas my slow reflexes stick me on the easy level but for me that's more than enough of a challenge. This game certainly does have elements of Tomb Raider but it also reminds me of an old gem called Syphon Filter with the shoot outs. At first I found the gun fighting tricky to master but once I discovered the art of covering and then firing I pretty much held my own. The game itself begins in South America with the protagonist on the trail of the gold of El Dorado. It isn't long before you're thrown into action against some pirates who set about wrecking the boat which Drake is upon. This is actually a chance for you to get used to the controls and find your feet before getting into the game proper. You also get introduced to a feisty reporter and an old friend of Drake's. Both these characters help bring the plot to life and actually do contribute to the game itself. It also transpire's that Drake is chasing after Drake's treasure. Confused...well it seems that our hero is a descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Hmm, a bit corny I know but hell, it's a videogame and after a while you couldn't care less who his great, great, great (err don't know how many great's I should use!) grandfather is. The enemies you'll come up against are pretty clever. Unlike some games where they're nothing more than cannon fodder these blighters will put themselves in some very awkward positions to make zeroing in on them as hard as possible. Add into the mix that they never seem to miss you and it can be hard work. The puzzles I found aren't too taxing and are set at just the right difficulty level. The answers are found in the locale and not too intricate. There's nothing worse than a game riddled with perplexing problems which soon lead to frustration and a discarded controller. In my view this one is spot on. I have completed around 17 chapters and I'm getting to the end I fancy. Now the question is does it have the replayability factor? Well, I think it will for a while. You see there are treasures to find and I've barely scraped the surface in that regard. I've found about 30 odd I think and I believe there's a whole lot more to be uncovered and these release little bonuses to be played with. I haven't looked into this as yet but will do so upon completition. Price. This is certainly a plus point as you ought to be able to get this for around £15 as it's on Platinum. You can probably get it cheaper if you look around but I can't complain as it only cost me reward points. It's certainly worth a few of those hard earned dooyoo miles if you've got a PS3. Is it perfect then? Almost. There's always a gripe or two and my main one is the levels set in the dark. I realise that it adds to the tension at times but it can be maddening when battling hordes of enemies and being told to jump onto a rope which you can't see because it's too damn dark! There's also a couple of times where the amount of enemies can be a bit too much. The worst example is where you had to run like crazy avoiding bullets coming from all directions in a sewer scene and I died many a time before finally getting lucky. A couple of minor gripes but hopefully things will be much better for the sequel. I've glimpsed the sequel to this game and all I can say is I'd best get reviewing to earn enough points to go and grab hold of it. On top of this gem I've heard rumours that there might even be a feature film about this game. Hmm, mixed feelings about this but hell why not? To sum up then. A game that's got a rollicking good dose of action and adventure. Oh, and it goes without saying that it has the Raconteur's seal of approval. Enjoy and I bid you adieu.

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            • lovefilm.com / Internet Site / 35 Readings / 35 Ratings
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              18.02.2010 21:44
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              Very happy with the service so far and glad I joined.

              Well my free trial is at an end and I've had a few films from these people so I guess I can make a review then... I've seen the ads for this site for quite a while now and for one reason or another I put it on the back burner. However, with blu-rays failing to drop to the prices I'd prefer to pay I thought I might as well give this mob a go. I love my movies after all and it seemed a logical step. Add on the fact that it will also enable me to stop stockpiling films that I forget I have and it was a no brainer. Now lets get one thing out of the way which I found lacking in a couple of reviews I looked at. The rental fees are the exactly same for blu-rays and dvds. Now I have a PS3 so this was marvellous news for me as I thought I might have to pay a premium for blu-rays. The tariff I'm currently on is the £5.99 a month (for 3 films) one which with a bit of mathematical wizardry leads me to the figure of virtually £72 a year. Now bear in mind that if I want a brand new blu ray that'll probably cost me around £15 and that I could easily buy around 10-15 a year it makes perfect sense to activate the service. So I subbed off my details and waited for my first film expecting it to turn up within a few days or so after it said it had been dispatched. Imagine my surprise when I harkened back to my abode after a heavy days toil to find a snazzy envelope upon the floor with movie inside. I was impressed. Now, a word of warning to the unwary. The envelopes come with a paper zipper which can be tricky to find the edge of if you're not careful. I, of course managed to make a royal balls up on receiving my second film from this company when I ripped the zipper and the backing paper off the envelope (which is what you use to return the film when you're done). Of course, when I opened the missive I found that I had managed to knacker the damn thing thanks to me being rather obtuse. A tirade of invectives from myself to myself failed to rectify the situation but thankfully I had another envelope to use to get me out of trouble. You see, every month you also get a Bailey's tab which gives you a free film (well, I believe this is the case). So you can add on a further 12 films to your entitlement which can't be half bad. Luckily for me you can also put up to two films into a return envelope. The selection process of the films is a doddle. You are encouraged to add at least 10 films onto a wish list and owing to demand/priority you will receive one of these films when the time has come. Some customers may complain that they want exactly what they want at that time but for me it's not a problem as there's plenty of films I wish to see. It also adds to the fun of not knowing what'll be coming next. For the record I've watched Taken, Dungeon Siege, Push, Inkheart, Babylon AD and District 9 is next on my hitlist. I can say that I would almost certainly have bought at least a couple of these titles and I'm glad now that I didn't after being a little bit disappointed with them! The site also has competitions you can enter (does anyone ever win these mind?) and also a shop. I find that the prices for goods on sale is a bit high for the brand new stuff but there is a section that allows you to buy dvds/blu-rays which are ex-rental for far less than the retail price. I may well be investigating the 3 for a tenner deal on there at a later date. There's also a mini digital magazine to be read which is a light hearted read and plenty of movie news and clips/trailers. You can also watch films online for a tariff (free if you are on unlimited use) and can rent games. I haven't used the games option but if you are a heavy gamer it could be worth looking at. I haven't run into any problems with myopic postmen yet so I can't comment on what happens when things go wrong. However, there does seem to be plenty of advice on what to do should that happen. Ok, to sum up then. A top service and I'm very happy at present. If they behave then I shall be a member for quite some time but if they don't....then I would update my review :D

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              • Taken [2008] (DVD) / DVD / 33 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                29.01.2010 22:04
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                Leave the brain behind and enjoy :D

                I succumbed. The lure of lovefilm has finally won me over and it looks a most wonderful site...Hold it down Raconteur you've only had one film off them and you're not qualified just yet to review their service are you? Indeed I'm not. However, I can certainly take the time to review the first film I've received from them which goes by the rather unoriginal title of Taken. I had watched the trailers for this film and it held very few surprises for me. Without going into too much plot detail it features Liam Neeson as a retired 'preventer' (his words, not mine) who dotes on his estranged daughter. Of course you can guess by the title that something bad happens to his offspring and it's up to her father to restore her back to where she belongs. After a fairly slowish start the film picks up pace very dramatically and I'll warn you that it has violence by the bucketloads. This is not a thinking film but certainly an action one. Not that I'm knocking it as the scenes really do deliver excitement in heavy doses. As you would imagine with this kind of film it does centre mostly on Liam Neeson. His daughter plays the part of victim well enough and there is a Kevin Spacey body double by the name of Olivier Rabourdin who plays the part of a rather oily French secret serviceman. There's also a cameo appearance by Holly Vallance in the role of a pop star. My thoughts on the film are that it is an excellent example in the genre of spy/action thriller if maybe a bit over the top with the violence. It pushes the limits of reality a bit much at times as Neeson somehow always manages to come out on top despite whatever's thrown at him. In fact, some of the villains he goes up against really should have learnt how to shoot their guns properly. Mind you, it would have been a short film if they had. The Parisian backdrop suits the film perfectly and rather like the Bourne Identity there are a couple of insane car chase scenes. I get the feeling that the Bourne trilogy certainly had an major influence with Luc Besson's thoughts when he wrote this. It doesn't have the conspiracy of Bourne but anyone who watches this will certainly notice some similarities. To conclude I would say this film is certainly worth watching. You wont get any surprises with this movie but if you're a fan of this genre it will certainly entertain. It certainly isn't for those who would rather watch something light and fluffy or can't stand over the top violence. I will award it four stars. It doesn't get five as there weren't any surprises for me and the realms of reality were bent just a bit too much in places. However, it certainly does get the Raconteur's recommendation for a good nights entertainment. And on that note I bid you a most hearty adieu and I'll look forward to the next film from lovefilm :D

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                • More +
                  27.01.2010 21:07
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                  One of the better apps on Facebook

                  Farms. Places you see out in the countryside which are rather nice to look at whilst driving or walking along. They have animals, some big and some large and they have buildings too. Oh, and they have haystacks, barrels, New Year signs, starfruit trees, penguins, reindeer, elephants. Whoa, hold up you barmy bard. Whatever are you talking about. Elephants and penguins indeed, next you'll be telling me there's reindeers roaming loose across fields laden with eggplants. Funny you should say that... Right, enough of this tomfoolery lest you think I've well and truly lost the plot but towards the end of last year I finally made the fateful decision to accept this application from one of my friends (or should that be fiends!) from facebook. As you've probably guessed this is a little game from Zynga which has you taking care of your very own virtual farm. Initially it is very simple where you'll till a couple of fields, plant a few seeds before running out of money and having a look at your friends farms and thinking, hmm, I don't think I'll quite ever reach those heady heights. At first, playing this game will probably take up a mere five to ten minutes of your time but little do you know that you're slowly being hooked into the realms of zyngaddiction. The cause of said affliction above is very simple. As you progress further into the game it takes longer and longer to do all the tasks necessary to harvest your crops and look after the animals. Soon that five to ten minutes becomes half and hour and after a good couple of months you find that you're spending an hour and a half every day as soon as you come home. It was at this point that I decided enough is enough. The graphics for an application are actually quite good. The sounds as well compliment the game perfectly (although eventually I did turn these of). There is a wide variety of things to do and your menagerie of animals (some most peculiar) grows ever larger by the day. You advance through the game by accomplishing tasks such as planting so many seeds, harvesting so many crops and are rewarded with ribbons, extra experience. Also merely buying items rewards you with experience and should you actually build something then the rewards are much bigger (and expensive). There are tractors and harvesters to buy to assist your time management skills although the fuel they carry lasts barely enough for a field. Then you see the crafty souls at Zynga say that you can buy fuel from them. Now, a quick note. When they say buy they mean with 'real money.' Contrary to popular belief, buying fuel from Zynga does not mean that you will no longer need to run to the petrol station to fill your car up. Nay, this is a virtual world which will eat the cash of the sorely addicted. Thankfully I never reached that desperate state of mind but judging by how often Zynga update the graphics, etc on the game I would say they are making quite a bit of revenue by this method. When I last looked at my game over a couple of weeks ago I had around 700,000 credits and was looking to buy a villa for a million. My fields were awash with cabbages, lavender, tulips and peppers. My animals were grazing under the veil of an array of fine trees and this verdant life was most wholesome. Then I decided to dig no more. To me, this game just eats up far too much time. It is very good at what it does and I will award it four stars. The reason I shall not give it five is that it takes far too long to do all the things you need to do each day and sometimes their servers just can't cope with the amount of tractor traffic coming their way. Would I recommend it? Yes but if you do please ensure you have an egg timer by your side. Hmm, I don't think I've seen any timers in my chicken coops but...STOP THAT BARD lest you suffer another outbreak of Farmatosis. And on that note I leave you and will continue to endure some cold turkey (actually, I've got a few of them in my field somewhere, last time I looked they were lurking near the cottage...) Dear readers I bid you adieu :)

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                    25.01.2010 18:06
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                    Great fun for kids

                    I remember seeing this game a while back and thinking I wouldn't mind giving it a go but not at 35 sovs or whatever it was. Time passed and eventually I picked it up for a mere 15 (approx) whilst Play were having a special deal on. Many a time I've bought a game which sits idly after playing a few times and to be honest this is one of them. However, whilst I may not be over enthralled by this piece of cookery mania my nephews and nieces always put it on when they come to visit. Upon loading the game you're soon greeted by a manic looking lady chef who hails from Italy (well I assume she does!) and before you know it you're ushered off to the kitchen. There are various options available but on the occasions I have attempted culinary excellence I just select to cook. The game progresses by unlocking various recipes from around the world and gradually filling up your recipe book. No doubt something wonderful happens when you get to the end but I'm afraid my rather ham-fisted attempts at cooking (well, I guess it's sort of realistic then!) mean it's highly unlikely that I shall ever get there. The game turns your wii remote into a multi-tool for cooking. You will find yourself grating, mincing (not like Kenneth Williams mind), chopping, boiling, slicing and pretty much anything else you'd do in a kitchen. I haven't come across washing up/drying up parts to the game but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're hiding somewhere! The recipes are split into various stages where you might have to chop some carrots, then roll some dough, add seasoning, mixing and so on. The bizarre cooking lady will then urge encouragement at you and at the end of the recipe will award you a rating from bronze, silver and gold. If you make a hash of things she'll tell you off by saying 'you're not mine,' whilst suitably rewarding you when you do something well. Oddly, I've also seen her face getting rather irate when you do something exceedingly well. For me I find this game has a very short life span. I mean, once you've done the recipes once or twice you don't really feel the need to repeat the trial over and over again. However, my niece loves it. She'll gladly crack eggs until her heart's content and whirl away with her virtual chopping knife until the virtual vegetables are cowering in a veil of lettuced fear. To sum up then, not one for those who are looking for something a bit more mentally challenging but a hit for the little ones.

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                    • Pringles Paprika / Snacks / 28 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                      24.01.2010 14:04
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                      Anyone got any tubs spare? :D

                      I'm sure most of us have had the pleasure of tucking into a tub or two of Pringles finest in our time. I've had a few varieties including the original flavour, sour cream and chives and even zingy lime I believe. So I wasn't surprised to see a new edition to their range in the guise of Parika. As ever I find these things dreadfully addictive. The slogan of you can't stop popping is very true. Blink and a big couple of handfuls have gone and blink again and you witness a vanishing tube of potato snacks that are doing nothing positive for your waistline. The flavour of the paprika variety retains the original taste with a decent touch of the peppery spice. I do not find these excessively hot and quite enjoyed eating...nay...devouring said crisps. They come in an orange cylinder rather than the conventional red one and apparently the whole weight comes to 155g. Whilst we're on the issue of numbers crunching (or should that be spud crunching) I'll divulge the stats on the side of the box based on a 25g serving. Energy 552 KJ (I wonder if that energy relates to how many times you'll open and shut your mouth whilst eating this potato drug!), protein 12g (I don't think this is quite the way to build up those muscles), Carbohydrates 12g (no good for the Atkins diet then), Fat 8.6g (it should just say eating these will certainly increase your fat content!), Fibre 0.88g (no chance of these turning into a breakfast cereal then) and sodium 0.17g (this surprises me as I was sure this would be much higher. One thing I couldn't see was how many calories. Either my myopia is getting worse or Pringles would like to keep that fact to themselves...can't think why. There's really not much more to add. I'm sure some people could close their eyes whilst eating said munchie and imagine themselves somewhere exotic but not I. No doubt you could find a suitable dip to plunge them into but I'm one for just eating them raw :) All in all a nice addition to the range but those looking after their waistlines should probably steer clear. Right, time for a daft ode : For those who wish to make their tongue tingle, Then do indulge in Paprika Pringles. A peppery taste to relish and admire, Although not quite setting the mouth on fire. Addictive and unhealthy these surely are, After eating these please walk, don't use the car. Lest your waist get larger and larger, Especially if you follow with a glass of lager. So to end these are rather jolly nice, But not as healthy as plain old rice. And on that note I bid you a peppery adieu :)

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                        23.01.2010 09:50
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                        A great story

                        It's seldom I come across a book these days that makes a big impression on me but the Stieg Larsson series of books has achieved that rare accolade. I actually borrowed this book from a colleague at work where we have a kind of mini-book lending club going. I took possession of the novel without great expectations to be honest. When I read it was a translation of a Swedish story I must confess that I didn't think it would be up to much. I couldn't be more wrong. Now, before I go on I do apologise for any spelling errors of any Swedish names. I don't possess the book anymore so do forgive me from not knowing my Erikksons from my Johannsons! Stieg Larsson proved himself to be an outstanding storyteller. The story features very strong characters ranging from wealthy business magnates (the Vagners') and their peculiar families to a womanising journalist (Blomqvist) and a new breed of heroine in the name of Lisbeth Salander. The Vagners' (not 100% sure of the spelling) are a very odd bunch of people. Without giving too much of the plot away the head of the family wants Blomqvist to investigate a disappearance which took place in the 1960's. Blomqvist who has just had a disaster with a court case against a Swedish billionaire eventually sees it as a way of restoring his name. Into the midst of all this intrigue comes Lisbeth Salander. She is a mere scamp of a girl who's had rather dreadful things happen to her and Larsson pulls no punches in describing exactly what occurs. She seems socially inept and is deemed backwards by the authorities but underneath the surface lurks a woman with very high morals and a very talented lady with more than a few secrets. There are a few characters in the book who seek to take advantage of her apparent weakness but find to their cost that it is a huge mistake. If for example you were to attack Lisbeth with a knife, she'd come back at you with an M16 and never forgets. She's one of the best characters I've ever come across in a book to be honest and one of the most unlikeliest heroines you'll ever have the pleasure to read about. Salander agrees to become Blomqvist's research assistant in their quest to unravel the mystery of the Vagner family disappearance. When they finally come close to solving the riddle Larsson ensures that he gives us a thrilling closure to a wonderful story. He was also clever enough to give us a suitable ending to enable a start to the next story in the series named the 'girl who played with fire' which I finished reading yesterday (and yes, another cracking read). There is a sad outcome to this review though in that the author is tragically no longer with us. It is a shame as you get the feeling there was so much more to come with his stories and surely this trilogy deserves the right to be portrayed into a blockbuster series of films. The only criticism I would reserve is a few instances where I get a bit confused with some Swedish references but that really is nit picking. To sum up then I would say this is just a fantastic read and go enjoy.

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                      • Starman (DVD) / DVD / 23 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                        18.01.2010 21:58
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                        A little gem

                        I decided yesterday evening to find a film to entertain me and I did most heartily struggle to find a tale to keep my attention. After an eternity of cogitation (well, probably more like ten minutes) my eyes alighted on this wonderful little story called Starman. In fact I might be so bold as to say that it is one of my fave films ever. Right, before I venture on I must say under no circumstances pay the horrendous price of £18.98 which is being advertised here. For such a sum I would expect a DVD to be made of gold (well, blu-ray format at the very least!) I've seen this advertised on play for a far more reasonable £6.99 on play and with a bit of shopping around you could probably top that. Anyway, now I've saved any potential buyers a few pennies let's get back to this little sci-fi gem. This isn't about little green men demanding to be taken to our leader but features a far more friendly race. Without going into too much plot detail it turns out us humans give Mr Bridges a rather hostile welcoming. The main actors in this are quite superb. Jeff Bridges role of appearing to be super intelligent is loaded with several comical moments as he struggles to come to terms with how humans interact with each other. For virtually the whole film he has a gawky innocent look on his face as he plunges from one adversity to another. Luckily Karen Allen (from Indiana Jones fame) is on hand to help Jeff adapt to the human way of life. She proves to be the perfect foil for Mr Bridges and they make an excellent team. The film was directed by John Carpenter and is a marked departure from his usual horror flicks. One other thing I learnt was that it was directed by Michael Douglas. Another feature of this film is the haunting soundtrack provided by Jack Nitzsche and is very reminiscent of Vangelis. It is one of the rare times when the score actually forms a happy symbiosis with the film. Ultimately the story is one of the human spirit and on how a visitor from another world would interpret us. It's one of those films I find that leaves you with a warm glow and it's certainly worth watching if you should get the chance. This was also nominated for an Oscar but for some reason didn't get the nod (A crime!) Heartily recommended by yours truly. Adieu.

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                        • Avatar (DVD) / DVD / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                          17.01.2010 19:35
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                          One of the best films I've seen in ages

                          I'm going to break a golden rule here. Normally I wouldn't write a dvd/blu-ray review for a dvd that doesn't actually exist yet but in this case will make an exception. The reason is quite simple in that I can't flipping wait to get hold of it. It is a rare event for me to traipse into town to venture into a cinema, even more rare for me to escort a nephew and niece with me. Still, after a rainy journey into gloomy Maidstone I collected my tickets and 3D glasses and waited for the spectacle that is called Avatar. I must confess to being a fan of Mr Cameron. I've enjoyed the Terminator series, Alien nonsense and dare I even whisper that I didn't mind Titanic. However, CGI has been a bit of a damp squib and with so much hype garnered about this film I was sceptical that it'd live up to the star billing. At first I was concerned at the slow start. It does take a while for the flick to get going but when it does it rushes at you with quite a bang. It is evident that there are parallels between the indigenous tribes of Pandora (the planet the humans are seeking to exploit) and the Red Indians and how there were exploited by the United States in there search for Black Hills gold. In fact the inhabitants of Pandora are even equipped with bows and arrows. In Avatar's case the desired object of the human's affection is unobtanium (surely Mr Cameron could have come up with something better). The protagonist of the tale (Sam Worthington) is initially sent to infiltrate the local populace in the guise of a ten foot tall avatar. Of course his story doesn't quite pan out that way and ultimately must make a decision on whose side he is on. The effects on this film are quite staggering. For once the 3D actually works and I'll admit that I did actually duck out of the way at one point! Only once mind :D Mind you, after a while I didn't actually notice which I put down to the excellent storyline rather than me getting used to all the whizzes and bangs. Along with all the 3D we also have the fauna and flora of Pandora. All quite effective at providing eye candy as well as being quite lethal. Of course the humans rely on their modern technology which leads to a pretty brutal climax. The characters in the film are very believable despite the fact they are big blue cartoon characters. They have real depth and with the parallel with the Red Indians I found myself feeling empathy towards them. The love interest is provided by the excellent animated version of Zoe Saldana in her role as Neytiri. She portrays a fierce warrior who nevertheless has a soft side which we get to see. Sigourney Weaver also gets a part in the film as a scientist and it's great to see her in a big flick again. A quick write up about the actual 3d glasses is also in order. These are not your standard red/green ones but are like clear sunglasses. You can also wear them over your spectacles(if you have to wear them) and it works perfectly well. Now, the question I have is that will they work at home when the blu-ray/dvd eventually comes out or will we be forced to watch the 2d version which would be a real shame. I've heard rumours about 3d blu-ray players or even 3d televisions but that'd be a huge mistake for distributors to alienate the vast majority of dvd players/blu-ray players. The cost of buying 3d blu-ray or 3d tvs is likely to be extremely prohibitive and I certainly hope this will not be the case. So, apologies to those who would rather see a review on a dvd that actually doesn't exist but all I can say is that I will definitely be buying. Put your money aside and wait until the summer I imagine and go purchase. PS, does anyone know if the 3d glasses you get from the cinema actually work with anything :D ? Adieu

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                        • Egg Heads / TV Programme / 32 Readings / 30 Ratings
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                          15.09.2009 21:42
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                          Give it a watch and see what you think.

                          We all have rituals. One of mine is to plonk myself in front of the box at the hour of six to watch a certain programme on BBC2 called Eggheads. Now this isn't a cookery programme explaining how to make an omlette but a cerebral examination of what floats around in two teams heads! Now quite a considerable amount of prize money can be accrued over time and would certainly be rather nice in the bank. However, there is one slight problem in the name of the Eggheads. This is the pub team from hell and pretty much impossible to beat. They're made up from well known quiz legends from over the years and each one of them is a formidable opponent with Kevin being the ultimate foe. Kevin definitely likes his films and is pretty much unbeatable in this field. In fact he is pretty much unbeatable in most fields and is arguably the best of the bunch. CJ used to be known as the weak link but his knowledge seems to be increasing quite considerably and he has this uncanny knack of guessing the right answer. He's also prone to the odd little quirky outburst and often comes in rather bright clothes and different hairstyles! Daphne. I call Daphne the laughing assassin. Again her knowledge is quite incredible and I remember her from years ago on 15-1 where she just kept getting question after question right. She's seems to have formed a bit of a bond with CJ who has no doubt benefited immensely from her vast knowlege. Judith is the elegant one of the bunch and no doubt the wealthiest after her victory on who wants to be a millionaire. I'm sure she's the first one to win this accolade and her knowledge is quite impressive unless you ask her a sports question. Dermot (the host) often likes to poke fun at her aristocratic air. Chris. The balding pate of the former international mastermind champion presents a foreboding opponent. Having said that he does have this amusing habit of explaining an answer and then being told WRONG. Barry is the new boy of the bunch. Perhaps not quite as well known as some of the others but certainly a tough opponent. Only last week he had to face an opposing team all by himself and won quite comfortably. Five of these six eggheads are selected to go up against an opposing team from the public. You'd think the opponents should shut up shop and go home against such a side and most times they probably should. However, there have been some notable scalps in past episodes and only recently a team won over £75,000 between them. The format of the show is very simple. A topic is offered to the public team and they then choose an egghead to challenge over three multiple choice rounds. If the score is level at the end the round then goes into sudden death with no choices. Four of these rounds have to be negogiated before the final head to head. This comprises of the remaining players who haven't taken part and the successful winners of the rounds. It is not an uncommon sight to see five eggheads against one poor unfortunate opponent! Once the final round has come to its natural conclusion a team (mostly the eggheads) is declared the winner. There have been quite a few titanic tussels over the episodes and every now and then I'll remember a useless fact or two! I quite like the format but there is one thing that does tend to grate. I don't mind it when the Eggheads explain a difficult answer to me. However, I do find it incredibly annoying when you'll get a question like: (and ok, I'm going a bit over the top here but anyone who has watched the show will know what I mean!) Dermot : What is the capital of England? Glasgow, Birmingham or London. Now we all know the contestant should just say London but... Contestant : I'll just have to think a minute on this. Now, I don't think it's Glasgow as I think that's in Wales...no Scotland isn't it? It could be Birmingham as it is quite central although London sounds more plausible. Yes, I think the answer is London so I will say London. These sort of inane answers drive me bats! Everyone knows the contestant is fully aware of the answer yet we constantly get this silly carry on with the easy questions. Now if they want to impress me then perform this routine with a tough question. I'm sure it's the producers telling the contestants to hang out the time on the show but I wish they'd stop. Another irritation is when an opposing team constantly picks Judith for sports as they know she's pretty hopeless in this field. Now I don't blame them, it's fair tactics after all but as a viewer I find it all a bit predictable. Personally I'd like a random egghead to be chosen for each round rather than the current format. Heretical thoughts perhaps but it would breathe a bit of a novel approach to the show. To sum up I do enjoy the Eggheads but I wonder how long it will last. Personally I hope it lasts for a good few years yet. If you haven't seen the show then do give it a try and wonder how you'd do against these superbrains. Hmm the question you're wondering is how would I do against them. Err somehow I don't think I'd make it to the final round.

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