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The flash drive, or as it's more commonly known; the USB pen. Yes, this is one of modern day life's essentials. Not only is this essential for business men (and women), it's an unsung hero for a good majority of the nation. I'm not in any way overestimating the countribution of the humble USB to our lives, but it appears we don't quite realise how important these things are..until we lose them!
For those of you who have been living on another planet, the USB pen (or drive) is a very small piece of technological equipment. Usually smaller than the average hand, these carry all kinds of digital files, so you can carry your important files around with you when needed! They can be bought from around 8mb through to 256 gb, but note that the majority will range from 512mb to 32gb.
This particular model is a nicely sized 8gb offering from a respected electronic make (HP). It's nice and small, but not so small that you'll lose it in your bag! Fairly slim and sleek, and no sharp corners so it's pocket friendly. The other design feature I must mention is that the top (the actually usb connection) is retractable. A small flick of a swith on the side moves the usb up or down, so it's there when using it, and away from damage when you're not. For me, this was a winner. My last USB died when I misplaced the top that protected it (it wasn't long before it got a bit battered!).
So it's well designed, but how well does it work? Well it's a fairly simple, and user friendly piece of equipment. Plug it into any usb slot and it merely acts as a removable disk. If it doesn't automatically load up its storage space for you, then it can easily be found in 'my computer'. Copy and paste files at will.
With 8gb of space this isn't quite external hard drive capacity! But it should have more than enough space for the majority of people, transporting both work and your own personal files (e.g. pictures). I've also used this to show pictures on a digital photo frame and took it to photo shops for printing pictures quickly.
Bought around 12 month ago (and well used) this still seems like new. It was priced around, and I can't imagine there would be much change in this price at the minute.
All in all a valuable piece of equipment!
As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I'm one of the many who struggle to find a good skin tone match with foundation. I've got the pale genes!! Coupled with the geenral lack of sun in this country and my dislike for sunbeds, finding a coulour without looking like a corpse can be challenging. I know as well as anyone there are some foundations out there where (despite their claims) the lighter shades will have you looking completely awful! So when I looked at this little pot on the shelf, my inital thought would usually have been 'true match? no chance!', and I'd have walked straight on at the prospect of spending another £14. Luckily, however, I had previously tried the true match liquid foundation and been very pleased with the results.
Here's the basics of the product and it's claims:
Usually priced between £9 - £15
This is a mineral foundation, as such it is 95% from minerals.
There are no perfume or preservatives
"Following research into the skin-tones of women from around the world, the L'Oreal Laboratories have developed a unique palette of 12 skin-true shades. The result: natural looking, skin-true colour without tide-marks and outstanding coverage without caking."
The packaging looks a little complex but it's great that this product has been made so compact and can easily slip into your handbag! The very bottom is a plastic container with the tru match podwer in. This self contained area has small circular holes in the top to allow the powder to come through in small amounts. This area is then covered by a screw on top which forms the base of a brush used for application of the powder. A removeable plastic lid then cover and protects the brush.
This is available in 9 shades, I decided on the very light golden ivory. So I took my purchase home and stared longingly at the packaging along the way..wondering exactly how efficient apllying the makeup was going to be. I'm a messy person at the best of times, so this was a bit of a worry! I got home and took the top plastic lid off the product, and unscrewed the application bursh with sits on top of the foundation. There I found simple instruction on how the product works. So here's what to do: you can remove the plastic lid if you want to, but ensure the grey plastic on the base of the brush is screwed on tightly. Tip the product upside down and give it a gentle shake. Unscrew the brush and you'll find some of the powder has filtered through from the bottom, can be picked up on the brush and applied as normal.
So, does it work and is it worth it? My answer to both of these questions has to be a resounding yes. This product matched my skin tone perfectly and I got the hang of the application mechanism very quickly. What's also great is the ability to apply this makeup and nothing else for daily use! If you just want a bit of coverage, and especially for those mornings when you really can't be bothered; this does the trick quickly and efficiently. It can also come in very handy if you have no concealer. And extra layer or 2 over a blemish and you'd never know the difference. Even for a messy person like me, I found this no messier than liquid foundation can be. And if you spill it on your clothes (well I said I was messy!) it actually wipes off fairly easily. Best of all, this is mineral make up, so it won't harm your skin.
I've had my little pot for 2 months now and it's still half full, and I am definitely going to purchase more of this. The fact that this is a foundation and powder means the great coverage will set on it's own. Apply it of a morning and it'll still be holding strong by the time you're settling down infront of the telly at night!
I - like many of you no doubt - often struggle to find a good colour match for my pale skin, without looking like Edward Cullen from twilight! So I often switch foundations throughout the year in an attempt to find something close to my true colour. Of course they all make the same claims; closer to your skin tone than ever before, blah blah! How many of them actually don't come closer than your previous foundation? Pretty much all of them! It's rare that I try a new foundation and think 'wow'. L'Oréal True Match Foundation did exactly that, but it wasn't love at first sight!
I'll briefly explain the basics of this product. L'oreal have formulated a product that, as the name suggests, matches your skin tone and adjusts to the texture of it. (Of course you have to pick up the right shade to get the best from this). The small bottle contains liquid foundation and should give you an overall smooth look. Well, that's a summary of the claims anyway! You can find this on the high street priced around £10, in bottle of 30ml.
Now that's out of the way, I'm sure you're all wanting to get some opinion of the true match experience? Okay, so the first thing to consider with a foundation (and especially one with claims such as this) is will it match my skin tone and look natural? For me, it did exactly this, blending easily onto my skin and evening skin tone without having to be caked on. The ability to only need a small amount of this foundation, of course makes it look all the more natural. Especially of a day in summer, I find it's great to be able to just have that minimal amount of makeup. It stops you looking like a barbie doll and allows your skin to breathe!
So having applied it once, and pulling off that natural look, you don't want to have to be re-applying throughout the day, right? No worries, for daytime use I have gone ten hours with it still intact. That said, I must stress that although I do a lot of sport, I don't wear make up when I'm exercising, so that may be a different story. As I mentioned, this only requires minimal amounts, so your 30ml will go a long way. I wear makeup 4/5 days a week, and after 2 months, the level of liquid has barely moved!
The packaging is a strong see through glass bottle with a plastic despenser at the top, (covered by a plastic top) which allows you to control the amount that comes out very easily. This, of course, means less waste, and as such, more value for money!
My skin has changed considerably over the past few months (change in diet!), going from dry to fairly smooth. No matter, this make up has adapted to however my skin is feeling, smoothing it out when applied.
Overall, this product - which comes in 5 shades - , is great value for money, and for anyone on a budget it's a must have. It provides good coverage with minimal application, evening skin tone and providing UV protection. Most recommended.
I am sure there are many of you out there with exactly the same problem as me. A computer prone to overheating, crashing, and ultimately losing the work you have just spent the last 3 hours doing! Okay, so I spent 30 minutes writing and 2 and a half hours on football manager, nevertheless my progress on both is lost in cyber space for eternity! But before you start ripping your hair out, thinking there really isn't much you can do apart from save your work every 2 minutes, I am here to tell you otherwise. There IS light at the end of the tunnel.
So after despairing with the loss of hours of my life that I'd spent on lost work, having tried the laptop on many different surfaces, I knew my only option was to try buying a laptop cooler. I was a bit sceptical as to whether this would work, and as to it's comfort and adaptability to different surfaces. (The average day for my laptop consists of changing surface, from knee to wooden desk to glass table).
Choosing a make and model was the next issue, and a complex one at that. Many options from many suppliers with little to say what was different about each product. Did I risk a cheap £10 outfit if it wasn't going to do the job. Did I buy a more expensive model with the possibility of paying more than necessary (after all, for all I knew different prices could carry the same quality). In the end I decided I would buy a product that was around 20-25 of the queen's British pounds, and see what I got for my money. I browsed many websites and decided upon this belkin product from pc world (priced at £22 approximate 6 months ago).
The product itself was much bulkier than I expected, and the first time friends see it they always say 'God what is THAT attached to your laptop!'. After a bit of explanation however, they generally admit to having the same overheating problem and say they could do with one themselves. That should give you a little insight as to how highly I rate this product. Once I got over the inital shock at the size of this thing, I thought I may aswell get it out the box (basic plastic packaging, nice and secure though).
No instructions needed for setup, this has a usb lead from the back that just plugs into one of your computers USB ports, and once the laptop's power is on you have lift off! You may think the term 'lift off' is a reference to the product working, well actually it's a little more than that. The cooler works by having a powerful little fan that sits underneath your laptop, and on occassion you can hear an almighty noise (seriously it's like a rocket taking off). A slight bit of adjusment at how the laptop is sitting (if it's on your knee it may be at a funny angle) and the noise usually quietens pretty quickly! Don't let that put you off, once the adjustment is done correctly you won't notice a thing!!
The main draw to me choosing this product was the ability to adjust the height of the cooler. A small cushion-like shape at the back of the coooler can be raised or lowered to your want/need, and makes this incredibly comfortable on your knee. Note that if your computer has been on a table and plugged in for hours upon end, it may start to warm up a bit even with the cooling stand, so raising the cushion a little at the back will cool it down even more.
I've had the product for approximately six months now and have had no problems with it, and can't see it packing up any time soon *touched lots of wood*.
So you know it's comfortable, though a litttle bulky, and seems to be fairly reliable, but the question you're all screaming at me right now is of course: DOES IT WORK?! Well, yes, in fact it works fantastically. From what I've experienced, this was a great investment at little over £20. To give you an idea of how well this works I'll explain my situation. My laptop is 3 years old and was a £300 buy. This is a low budget for a full sized laptop I'm sure you'll all agree, and products just are not built to last these days. So after 3 years I was considering that with a full hard drive and a laptop that crashed 3 times a day, I was seriously considering a replacement as soon as I could afford one. Now, I'm buying an external hard drive, defragmenting this one, and making do with my reliable acer until it dies. Not once, since I have used this 'cooling lounge' has my laptop overheated and frozen/crashed. That's a pehnomenal improvement from 3 times a day!!
I am delighted at my choice to invest in this and I feel it really offers value for money.
In between making a bit of a mess of my fairly expensive 'pay as you go' phone, and scouting round for a fairly cheap contract deal, I was in desperate need of a cheap phone to keep in touch with people. So, after looking round town in pretty much every shop (and market stalls), I found that this unspectacular looking nokia was my best option. Priced at £15 from 'phones 4 u', I accepted that for the time being, I'd have to make do with a rather featureless phone.
I was slightly surprised they still made phones like this, something that does what a phone was originally intended to do, and..well, not much else to be honest. What you get is pretty much what you see with this technophobe friendly piece of equipment. You have your basic mobile phone button structure that is fairly rare these days (2 call function buttons and 12 number/letter keys, set out in 3 colums), an average 1.8 inch LCD screen, and a central navigation button.
The phone's design isn't too bad, although I wouldn't exactly use the world appealing. Fairly tall but nice and slim, it easily slips into you're pocket, and the absence of a touch screen meant my phone spent less time calling people without me noticing than usual!
It does have some basic feaures other than the 'call' or 'text' options. Sure you won't find any bluetooth capabilities here, nor will you find a camera, but you have a handy flashlight on the top right of the phone (actually came in handy a few times!), an fm radio, and pre-loaded games such as the addictive classic 'snake'.
So, what did I really think of the time I spent with this phone? Well, I'll start by saying it is cheap, practical, and as such does exactly what it says on the tin (so to speak!). I found it a sterdy dance partner (strong after being dropped on nights out), and still use it to this day when I go out of a night. The reliability it holds may well appeal to those who need a mobile but struggle with - or even can't be bothered with - technology and it's advances. I've never had issues with battery life (my phone is on 24/7 and used on a regular basis for texting and calling), I charged it maybe once a week.
I do have a new phone, but as mentioned, this is still used when on a night out, and was definitely worth the small investment. Although I'd recommend this phone, I do so to those who have read the specifications. What I mean by that is, this phone will suit some people perfectly, and at it's price, would be a great investment. To anybody looking for a more advanced up to date phone, something with a camera, bluetooth, mp3 etc. capabilities then this is not for you and don't bother buying it.
I must mention that over the last few months I have noticed this to be a popular phone with many of my student friends purchasing one of the own. The reason being of course, many phones have suffered a night out of doom, and this is a cheap temporary solution to keeping in touch with people! You need to assess your own needs before buying this phone, but top marks to nokia for filling this area of the market (where there is little cometition) with a sterdy reliable, and affordable phone.
With my old hi-fi (and I mean old) well and truly out dated (seriously, it had a cassette player and no cd player), I felt it was about time I updated to a newer model. Now I am not one to splash cash on things I don't regard as a necessity, and being a student, I really don't have the money to be shopping at top of the range prices. This audio system fits the bill perfectly.
When I bought this appliance it was approximately 2 -3 years ago, and I paid around £60 for it. I must say that I expect the price will have fallen significantly in that time, and the system is problably more difficult to find now (best shopping online as it's unlikely to be found on the highstreet).
The 'sa-en27' hi-fi is one in a long line of 'sa-..' models, so I've no doubt better, more hi-tech variations of this are now available. That said, this does the job I wanted fantastically well.
The model consits of two speakers, a cd player, mp3 port, and an am/fm radio. The best thing I can say about this audio system, is it is very user friendly. Coming with a small remote, you'll find it easy to navigate your way round the features, even if you're a technophobe! The sound quality is good and can go quite loud (loud enough for most people I would expect, but I like to have music very loud!). I am a big fan of the triangular design, a more impressive look than some box like mini systems!
What this system lacks, sf an ipod dock. Fear not, you can still blast out the tunes from your pocket sized friend via a small lead that goes from mp3 player (any mp3 player) to the system. An ipod dock however, is a life saver for playing music for long periods of time without running out of battery!
Overall I would recommend this, although there are better things on the market. I am glad I purchased this at the price I did, and I feel it was a good, reliable investment. Three years of heavy use, and the product is still as good as new.
If you are reading this review, it is likely that you have an interest in purchasing a toyota aygo, and you're having a look to see if it's the right car for you. Well before you go any further, you must first ask yourself what the main purpose of your car will be. If you're looking for something to take you up and down the country on a regular basis, a car that will impress from it's fabulous look, or a strong vehicle built to overcome all terrain, then there are much better options out there. That's not to say this little toyota (affectionately reffered to as toy-motor!) hasn't got a lot to offer.
Personally, I love this little car, although I will admit I don't actually own one myself! I did however, spend 12 motnhs of my life learning to drive in the aygo, and had a great time doing so. Might I also mention that top gear have an interesting video that can be found on youtube regarding this car.
So we'll start with the specifications on the car, taking a look at how it should perform on paper. First off, if you're thinking of buying, there are two options: 5 door and 3 door. I have only used the 3 door model and all the figures quoted relate to the 3 door model. The official maximum speed is 97.5 mph, with a gross vehicle weight of just 1180kg. Size specifications are 341.5cm x 161.5cm x 14.65cm (length x width x height). So we can see this is a compact car, but having said that the car easily allows enough space for 5 people to sit comfortably. For those of you interested in the engine specifications (can't say the figures mean much to me!), toyota quote the following:
Bore: 71 mm
Stroke: 84 mm
Displacement: 998 cc
Max output: 50 kw
Engine speed for max output: 6000 rpm
Max torque: 93 Nm
Engine speed for max torque: 3600 rpm
Of course, the way a car looks on paper is nothing if you aren't comfortable when driving it. So here's what I actually think of the cars performance.
I found the aygo to be a very light car; allolwing for quick acceleration and hitting 70 in no time at all, but it wasn't so light that I felt like I was driving a tin can. The gear stick is well produced, not too small and you can tell the car is definitely in gear (I have seen other cars where the gear stick doesn't always click into place easily). The aygo gave a surprisingly smooth drive, felt sterdy in strong winds, and was generally a pleasure to drive. The overall look of the car wasn't too harsh on the eye. Sleek and slim, it's not a bad look for a budget! The body work isn't fantastic, although it looks ok, the materials are cheap and lightweight.
Now I'm not the greatest of toyota fans in general, having had the displeasure of driving an older yaris that felt uncomfortable and hollow, with pedals small for even my size 5 feet!! This aygo, however, goes against those views of the toyota brand, making me feel comfortable and confident. I only wish I had one of my own!!
Forgetting Sarah Marshall tells the story of heartbreak, adultery and of course finding love! Rom com haters would be right to think that on that summary, this is a film to avoid. However, I would recommend giving this a try regardless. For what sets this apart from the more traditional rom-coms, is, well this has a hell of a lot more comedy!! A lot of titles you'd find in this genre may as well drom the 'com' part, but this film presents it in abundance.
From the word go the fabulous Jason Segel (main character Peter) offers scenes that will have you laughing til you drop, and may even have some of you blushing! And when his long term girfriend Sarah (Kristen Bell) splits with him, the humour doesn't dessert him.
From picking up as many girls in clubs as he can, he jets out to Hawaii, all in an attempt to 'forget Sarah Marshall'. The plan quickly backfires as he ends up in the same hotel as Sarah and her new found love Aldous (the impressive Russel Brand). Throw in a sexy single hotel receptionist (Mila Kunis), and no more detail than is needed to show you how this film is set up for hilarious, sometimes cringeworthy moments.
The story that unfolds involves plenty of laugh out loud moments and if you're looking for some lighthearted fun you will not be disappointed. Not a family film by any means however, and plently of sex scenes and sex references make this adult only viewing. Still, this is one of those feel good films you can sit on the sofa and enjoy with a nice hot chocolate, without really having to follow a story.
The acting is superb throughout, and I can't fault the performances of any of this star studded cast. Jason Segel is stand out, but I was very surprised to be impressed with the believability of Russel Brand! Other names include Kristin Bell, Mila Kunis, Jack McBrayer, and Jonah Hill.
An overall well produced, well written, well acted fell good rom-com. This should appeal to a wide audience, and I regret waiting two years from it's release to watch this! Most recommended.
Witty, charming, good looking, likeable, this smooth mover seems to have everything he needs to get any girl he wants. Things haven't always been so easy for Hitch though. Once a geeky college kid, the thought of ever becoming a 'date doctor' would have been laughable in his earlier years.
This film is without doubt one of the funniest rom-coms on the market, suprised? I thought not. Will Smith's beaming smile across the front made me feel as though this film was going to be a winner from the start. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. Smith is fantastic and the role comes naturally to him as he plays the ladies man who helps other (not so smooth) men in their pursuit of the opposite sex.
Another performance of note is the other main male character Albert Brenneman, played fantastically by Kevin James (of king of queens fame). He plays the not so lucky in love guy who wants to transform his fortunes. Can Hitch help him to pull celebrity Allegra Cole(the brilliant Amber Valletta)?
In the mean time, Hitch has his own love life to look after. Trying to woo gossip columnist Sara(Eva mendes), he has a tough ask as he tries to keep his date doctor identity a secret from the female race. Just how it ends up I won't disclose, I'll leave that for you to see.
Overall this was a wonderfully entertaining film, full of light hearted laughs. Perfectly mixed with moments of romance, this was always a recipe for success. With a run time of just 118 minutes this isn't too heavy and I felt it was just the right amount of time for the story to run it's course without becoming boring. I would recommend this to all rom-com lovers.
Admittedly, I'm not the best at keeping phones in working order for a substantial period of time, (we won't discuss how I managed to wreck my last phone!). As such, the decision to bring this delicate looking piece of equipment into my life wasn't one I took lightly. Signing myself up to a 24 month T-mobile contract meant it was free at least, but also meant I would have to look after it for that long period of time. So far so good, despite a fair few collisions with the floor there aren't even any minor problems to report, never mind major ones.
The phone itself is lovely and compact, slipping easily into tight pockets, but big enough so you don't lose it in your bag! Nice and sleek with the now very popular space saving qwerty board that slides out smoothly. The touch screen recognition is as good as I've found on most phones (just be careful of it ringing people you didn't want to, with it's high sensitivity). The front of the phone houses the call buttons so you can make calls quickly and easily.
As for the features of this phone, it's got pretty much everything you need, and as it claims it's a phone for th sociable among us. Widgets on the front screen (small icons that can be used as shortcuts) that can be dragged on or off the screen allow quick access to facebook, SMS, music player and more. Although there is no wi-fi capability there is a fully functioning internet browser that can come in very handy.
The mp3 player is exactly what I expected, decent sound quality and very useful with a good set of earphones, and also plays mp4 videos. The phones also has a respectable (but not great) 2 mega pixel camera, with video shooting capabilities. All of this displays on the impressive 2.6 inch screen. Aside from that the phone has bluetooth access and a good battery life. I have mine on 24/7 and it needs charging approximately once a week.
From the menu you can access an instant messenger (internet required so beware of cost), yet another reason this is considered such a sociable phone. The qwerty board can be used for texting but for those of you who prefer the old way you can use the touch screen to bring up the traditional style keyboard. That said the qwerty board is very easy to adjust to and I can envisage too many problems.
The final important feature to mention is the ease of access to your e-mail. Simply store your e-mail address and password in the phone and you can download your inbox on demand.
Overall this is a very easy to use, modern, affordable phone with little drawbacks. Mine was free on a £15/month contract but should be available at around £100 on pay as you go. Reccomended to all.
From the first time I viewed the trailer for this hit 2009 cinema release, I was desparate to watch it. I can't quite put my finger on what captured my attention so much in that short snippet of this fantasically produced film, but I can safely say I was not disappointed.
Starring Bradley Cooper (Phil), Justin Bartha (Doug), Ed Helms (Stu) and Zach Galifianakis (Alan) as the four who undertake a rather messy Bachelor party (that's a stag do to us!), this dvd is packed with laugh out loud humour from start to finish. With Doug's wedding just a matter of days away, the boy's trip to Las Vegas turns into distaster. Sure, they had a fantasic night out.. if only they could remember any of it! As they awake to a tip of a villa at the swanky Caesar's palace, they briefly inspect the damage before heading off to line their stomach's. It's at this point they stumble upon the sudden realisation that they have lost the groom to be! This is where the fun really begins, as the three friends must attempt to piece together any clues they can find to work out just what had happened the night before. From here a wonderfully entertaining series of events unfolds involving a Tiger, a baby, Mike Tyson, an taser guns and a hospital!
Twists and turns are assured in this awesome Tod Phillips production, and the inevitable drama will keep you gripped with your eyes glued to the screen. I found the acting to be fantastic and felt it added a lot of realism to the movie, with a great mix characters hilariously brought to life.
I have yet to find anybody who doesn't love the humour in this utterly brilliant film. However should you dislike comedy or fail to get the humour in this film, then you will absolutely hate it! There really isn't much else here apart from jokes at every possible point, so I can imagine you either love it or you hate it. Does Doug make it to his wedding, and will the boys ever find him?!
Magic and mystery, adventure and fear; those are just a few of the adjectives that are apt to describe this wonderful production. Who would have thought they could pack so much into one feature length film?! Admittedly, I am a complete fan of child aimed films anyway. Yes, from Hannah Montana to High school musical, I'm wholly entertained by the wonders and innocence presented. That said, I can assure all viewers that this movie is not just for the fanstasy fiction lovers.
I'll give a brief outline of the story, though it is difficult to say much without ruining part of the storyline. The main human characters involve a family of four, although due to the recent parental divorce, we only really see three of them. Those are the mum (Mary-Louise Parker), the two sons Jared and Simon (both played by the fantastic Freddy Highmore) and the boys older sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger). The three move out to a large house out of the city, given to them by the mothers aunty. This is where it gets interesting, for the house is the centre point of a world within our own. A place of magic and wonder unseen by the human eye, where creatures roam beside us and we don't even blink. Imagine now if all of these secrets were contained in that very house, and if the secrets are read by anybody it could put them in grave danger. When Jared stumbles across these secrets, it opens the three children's eyes to a new, mysterious and very dangerous world. A battle ensues between the siblings and the darker creatures of this mysterious world, and it's difficult to see who will triumph. Helping the kids along at every step is the wonderful character of a small creature called thimbletack, he was the original guard of the book of secrets and provides some laugh out loud moments for this film.
I found this film to be fascinating and wholly entertaining. The acting was superb and there are twists and turns at every possible stage of the film. Immensely gripping for the young and old, without scaring the life out of you, this is a wonderfully pieced construction. It's no easy thing to do when you are dealing with the far fetched and fictional, so credit to all involved.
After watching the film I noticed this is a nickelodeon production, which somewhat shocked me. It is of course a popular children's channel, but with a hit film such as this I had fully expected to see a disney logo printed on the front. This film bears a resemblance to the chronicles of Narnia, but for me it was definitely better than disney produced for either of the most recent Narnia film releases.
'300' is an American 2007 production, depicting (in a somewhat hollywood manner) the battle of Thermopylae. Although it must be said this film doesn't attempt to give an accurate reflection of the events that took place in that battle. Rather it sets out to adapt Frank Miller's novel and produce a box office hit. A film of the same nature telling the story of the same battle was released in 1962, called 'the 300 spartans', but this film brings a modernised version of the battle.
Dramatised and maybe a touch gamourised, this is a hollywood battle film that I didn't think I'd be impressed with. For the absence of mines blowing up and parachuting troops, with no special effect explosions or swirling fighter planes; what exactly would this film have to offer? Ther's no doubt about it, films depicting war of any kind attract the masses who are eager to see some special effects and lots of fighting. To see a recent film then, with armies carrying just swords shields and maybe a few archers as their weapons, it always felt like a bit of a risk.
The fighting scenes do not disappoint and the blood thirsty will be treated to their fair share of grouseme killings (do not fear though, the slightly squeamish shouldn't feel too sick!). The fight scenes though, are not the only drama in this 2 hour film.
I'll say a bit more about the stroyline before I go any further. The film starts by showing the life of Leonidas, a young spartan boy taught not to fight, but skills of survival from a very young age. He eventually becomes king of Sparta, and is subsequently asked to surrender to king Xerxes of Persia. Refusing to do so, and with Sparta under threat, Leonidas consults the (corrupt) Ephors who declare he must not go to war.
Leonidas goes against the word of the ephors (which is against Spartan law) and declares that Sparta will take a small army to fight off the Persian's. He takes only those who have left a legacy (child) in Sparta, knowing this is essentially a suicide mission.
The main reason for this storyline producing such a fantastic film, is that (as the title suggests) it is an army of just 300 Spartans that bravely face the thousands upon thousands in the Persian army (the spartans had also been joined by other greek armies who carried more men, but seemingly less of a fight). Not only holding them off, but actively depleting the number of Persian's, the Spartans put up what is an unbelievable fight.
It's difficult to say what happens next without ruining the film, but I will say the ending is the start of yet another battle. I was very impressed with the ending and I found the film to be emotive, dramatic, and gripping. This is recommended to not only those who love a good war film, but everyone who likes a bit of drama. Not a completely truthful display of the battle itself, but a truely inspiring story and a very entertaining film.
The one actor I have to mention is Gerard Butler; playing the main role as Leonidas, king of Sparta. He is a passionate, inspirational and energetic actor and acts perfectly. The only other performance of real note for me, was that of Vincent Regan as captain Artemis. Artemis was Leonidas' loyal friend and warrior.
I absolutely love films set in war time. I don't know why, I mean I hate war itself, but these films just seem to carry so much drama and emotion it is seemingly impossible not to become engrossed in them. The boy in the striped pyjamas is set in the second world war, and I think one of the main reason (as with most war films) that I liked the film so much was because I became so involved in the characters and wanted everything to work out well! This film is based on a namesake book from an Irish novelist.
The film has two main characters; Schmeul and Bruno. Schmeul is a prisoner at a nazi concentration camp, and Bruno runs the camp. Both boys are eight, and Bruno can just see the camp from his family home. Believing it to be a farm, curious Bruno manages to escape and meets Schmeul who is set by the edge of the fence. The two boys strike up an unlikely friendship, and this forms the basis of the film. The start of the film shows Bruno, his mum, dad, and sister moving from their luxury home to a rather large but dull looking house in the country, provided as his father had gotten the job at nearby concentration camp.
The focus of this film is on the innocence of childhood. In particular, Bruno's naive views on the world, and the way he is unable to see the concentration camp for what it is. He becomes very confused when his views are influenced by his family and tutor who tell him jews are bad people, as he believes his friend Schmeul is a good person but he is also a jew. Very rarely does this film expose it's view to the terror of the nazi regime, as we pretty much see things through Bruno's eyes. I don't think this is a bad thing because as educated viewers we are aware of the truth, and seeing Bruno unable to comprehend or realise that truth, for me, make the film alot more emotive.
The ending of this film was very strong and packed in plenty of drama. This film is, as previously mentioned, emotive and dramatic, and provides an insight into the innocence of childhood.
The film is not factually 100% correct, though. Schmuell would more than likely have been killed upon arrival as he is a small child, although a little known stastic is that not all children were gassed upon arrival. Secondly, it's unlikely Schmeul and Bruno would have gotten so close to the barrier so often, there were lookouts viewing the permieter of the camp and so it's unlikely this would have happened. The reason the film loses a star for me is because for a film set in Germany, the realism is lost when the characters open their mouths. Every single actor had a southern English accent.
I am a big scaredy cat; so having picked this up from blockbusters, I was completelyexpecting to be sat in the corner with the light on for days, scared to death! As apparent from the title of the film, this is a horror / thriller and is a very recent (May 09) release.
I feel the main draw of this film, and what sets it apart from your run of the mill hollywood horror story, is the printed 'Based on a true story' that heads the dvd box. Feeling as though the drama unfolding in front of you could actually happen, and had actually happened, makes it 10 times as scary! (for me anyway). Purely because I can not then sit and rationalise my thoughts with 'It's just a film, it's all fiction, it won't happen to me!'.
The basic storyline is a family who's teenage son has cancer move to a house closer to the hospital as he goes through treatment. Moving into an old victorian house with cheap rent, they soon find it used to be a funeral parlour. As the film goes on strange events unfold and become more abundant, with the son (with cancer) having 'visions' and experiencing mood changes. The family consists of a mum, dad, 2 young kids, the teenage son, and his cousin. The son decided to do some investigating on the history of the house, and the family then find seances had taken place within the house. The strange occurences in the house get worse and worse, as the family bring in a priest (also undergoing cancer treatment) to try and help. From here, I can say no more about the storyline without ruining the film. The ending I felt, personally, was quite good, and wrapped the film up well. Overall, there is a strong plot to the film.
The production of the film is very good and it is well directed. The scary parts of the film are broken up by moments of normality, and the son's cancer battle features heavily. The main setting is, obviously, the house, but there are some scenes away from it, for example in the hospital. The music in these films adds alot to how scary they are. I feel the music here adds well to the tension. As I mentioned, I'm pretty much scared of anything, so I found the parts of this that were supposed to scare people worked on me! For others who aren't quite so bothered by horror films, you may not be particularly bothered by this film. There are plenty of 'jumpy' moments, as opposed to 'scary'.
The acting is good throughout the film. I found the performance of Kyle Gallner to be particularly impressive. He plays the son with cancer (Matt), and I felt he was very believable. I peronally didn't find Virginia Madsen to be particularly believable as the mother...or maybe I just didn't like her character, actually; I'd say it was a bit of both!
After the film finished I was intrigued as to the 'true story' claims, so did a little internet research. As I have said, I feel that the claim is one of the main draws I had to the film. I was extremely disappointed then, (although slightly revlieved) to find that most of the film itself was actually complete and utter fiction. If you want to know why, just do a quick google and you will see that this is basically taking the true plot of a haunted house, and making a load of hollywood storylines for it. The ending is completely untrue and I am actually appauled that they are allowed to put 'based on a true story' across the front of the dvd. Surley there should be some kind of quota for the amount of truth in a film for it to be based on a true story? Whether or not the familys haunting claims are true in themselves is another question. However their experience is NOT what is portrayed in this film. For this reason alone, it loses a star for me.