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Ok, so I know this isn't in quite the right place, but here goes my opinion on Nicky Clark Men: Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Scalp Conditioner My wife, being the one who tends to keep up-to-date with hair and beauty treatments, harked on about Nicky Clark's products for ages. So, when I found that he had made a range of shampoo and conditioner especially for men, I felt obliged to try one out. Now, like many people, I suffer from that annoying situation of having dandruff. Head and Shoulders couldn't shift the stuff, nor could any other brand I tried, even those that were specifically for bad cases of dandruff. Having long hair (see my picture) I really do need to get hold of something that will keep the white specs at bay, so I immediately put the Nicky Clark brand to the test. Description ----------- The shampoo itself is a thick cream, which rests nicely on the hands, unlike some of these thinner shampoos that seem to drip through your fingers before you even get them on to your hair. It also lathers up nicely with little effort, something that saves a lot of time when washing my hair before work in the mornings. The smell is unfortunately the only bad point in the whole look and feel side of this shampoo, resembling something similar to 'gone off' cream, but then I guess that’s the price you have to pay for something that might actually work and it doesn't transfer itself to the hair anyway. It doesn't last either, you'll find after rinsing that the smell goes away and leaves your hair smelling fresher. All this is wrapped up in a nice metallic silver bottle that most men wouldn’t be embarrassed to keep on their shelves, despite the Nicky Clark label. Testing the suds ---------------- As I mentioned previously, the shampoo lathers up pretty quickly and it actually feels like it’s working on your scalp straight away, rather than just
sitting on the top of your hair and doing nothing. This means that it’s quite easy to know that all of your hair is covered before you begin to rinse it out. The conditioner must have done its job, because my hair felt a lot bouncier and easier to manage even before it was completely dry. The look was certainly shinier than it had been before and the whole think looked remarkably dandruff free. On closer inspection, there were still some flakes of the annoying white dandruff, but a few washes more during the coming weeks seemed to sort that out nicely. I got remarks from work about my hair too (derogatory ones from the blokes of course, suggesting that I had been auditioning for an advert which required ‘bouncing’ hair) so it was nice to see that it worked from other people’s perspective as well. I'm still using the shampoo now and I tend to wash my hair every other day. Once I transfer to another shampoo I find that the dandruff re-appears after a few days. Conclusion ---------- I’m glad my wife keeps up-to-date with these things, without her I wouldn’t have found this excellent shampoo. I’ve noticed so much of a difference since using it that I went out and got another couple of bottles, just in case I run out! I do use a weaker shampoo in between washes with this though, it’s supposed to make the stronger shampoo work better the next time around. Going for a shampoo with conditioner in never really appealed to me before, but after trying this I’m glad I did, as my hair doesn’t have that ‘straw man’ look that it often had in between washes. I’d recommend this shampoo to any man with dandruff, and especially those with longer hair. In Brief --------- + points .Really works on Dandruff .Thick and easy to feel .Great silver container - points .the initial smell
I could have started this review by copying my Gran Turismo 3 review, deleting the detailed description at the beginning and leaving you with the juicy parts, all tarted up and with new words. Why? Well, that basically describes what GT Concept is all about. History ===== First, let me describe the Gran Turismo games. These games started on Sony's first console, the original Playstation, and took the racing game world by storm. Never before had so much detail gone in to the graphics, the handling and the customisation of the cars. It was the first time you could spend hours tinkering with a car for a race, only to buy another one for your garage with the winnings. There were hundreds of badged models to collect and each game was better than the last. Gran Turismo 3, being the first of the series to appear on the PS2, was even more of a graphical dream than the last 2 games. GT New Concept? =========== So where does that leave our newest title in the famous range? Well, GT Concept is almost like a middle ground between Gran Turismo 3 and the next full blown instalment of the series, but don’t let that put you off. The GT games have a pedigree that most Cruft’s winners would be envious of, and the latest game is no exception, using the same basic model as its older brother but changing the rules slightly to give a whole new driving experience. The game, for those who have never seen or played a GT game before, is all about collecting cars. You start with a selection of cars already picked, which you can race on any number of tracks. This in turn will win you more cars and access to more tracks, both standard circuits and rally tracks, but you can also take ‘licence’ tests which will hone your driving skills and give you a chance to win yet more cars. The best thing about these games is that there are always plenty of cars and tracks to choose from, and racing on them is an absolute dream, s
o expect lots of replay value, even when you have the full set of cars. So what else is new? ============== Concept, as it’s name suggests, showcases over 100 new concept cars from several motor shows. Some of these are pretty way-out, like the Sony-Toyota smart car (which smiles when it is happy, no really!) others you might recognise on the road, such as the new Mini Cooper S. All of these handle differently, with different power ratios, turning etc. There are plenty of tracks to choose from too, with some familiar faces from the PS1 GT games making a welcome re-appearance. The graphics have been given a facelift, with the option of a 60hz mode and some of the best real-time reflections yet seen in a game, there really is very little difference between watching the replays and watching a real race on TV. Each car is represented down to the smallest detail and the tracks are beautiful to look at and to drive. Sound is pretty much the same as in the previous game, with faithful engine sounds and a host of famous (and in house) music artists, such as Feeder, although the track listing will be familiar to anyone that owns GT3. Driving Lesson ========== The tests on GT Concept are pretty easy to start of with, even easier than on GT3. Where it differs though, is that this version has only 2 types of test, Beginner and Expert, the second of which can be rock hard at times. Unlocking the cars may take some time, but this just means that the game will last longer. For those who can only complete the Beginner tests, there are still plenty of cars to unlock and play and you are still getting more cars and tracks for your money than on most other games out there. Passed the Test? =========== Although GT3 is now on the Sony Platinum budget range, the extra cars and tracks and the spiced up graphics alone make this a worthy purchase on top of its older brother. If you like the GT games and are gagging for mo
re cars, or simply just want one of the best driving games around, then GT Concept is a bargain, especially considering that it has more cars than most other driving games put together and such wonderful graphics, all at a low price of £24.99.
The far-from-unusual story of two people who find themselves having to pretend they are a 'professional couple' in order to secure a nice flat is turned into something far more surreal and entertaining when penned by Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson for Channel 4. What it becomes is something resembling 80's hit The Young Ones with a 90's twist. The plot revolves around the two housemates, Daisy Steiner and Time Bisley, who have a certain love hate relationship and the mix of them together with their oddball friends like Mike the man obsessed with guns and the army make for some fantastic and classic TV moments. Spaced is a sitcom with a difference. It's fresh and funny, yet reminds you of the old days when they used to make quality sitcoms all the time. A bit like Ally McBeal, there are strange interludes in the story where a character has flashbacks or dream sequences. Most notable is the episode where Tim plays far too much Resident Evil 2 while spaced out on drugs and ends up thinking everyone around him is a zombie, which goes down really well at an art party that Daisy and Tim attend! If it sounds weird, then it's because it is and much more entertaining than the usual run of the mill sitcoms. It's not just the plots that make this modern classic so watchable and different, the way that the actors react to their situations and their constant play with the camera (think Moonlighting) will have you in stitches. The other cast members are equally bizzarre and entertaining too. So who's in the house? Tim Bisley - Played by Simon Pegg ---------------------------------------- Tim specialises in Graphic Art, which he tries to sell to the comics companies. While he waits for success, he works in a Comic shop, for owner Bilbo. Tim has a close friend called Mike, who is mad on the army. Daisy Steiner - Played by Jessica Stevenson --------------------------------
------------------- Daisy is a would-be writer for any magazine that would take her articles. Her best friend, Twist, is a fashion victim who loves to shop. Mike Watt ----------- Due to an undisclosed (well, until the second season) incident, Mike is unable to join the Army and makes do with the TA's until he is booted out due to an incident with a Tank and Eurodisney. Nevertheless, Mike is mad about the army and can always be found wearing his uniform. Mike and Tim have been best friends since they were young. Twist Morgan --------------- Into fashion in a big way, Twist works in clothes (well, at the dry cleaners) and is best friends with Daisy. Marsha Klein --------------- Marsha is the landlady at Tim and Daisy's flat. She has a thing for red wine and also for Brian, who tries to avoid her at every cost. Her daughter, Amber, can often be heard shouting at her mother or storming out of the house. Brian Topp ------------- Brian is an artist who lives downstairs from Tim and Daisy. He tends to be very introvert until he paints. He is also....strange. Channel 4 are willing to take risks and this one has really paid off, now planning for its 3rd series, Spaced just seems to get better and better. It's finding new audiences with every repeat though the 3rd season is rumoured to be the last as Simon and Jessica don't want the series becoming stale. The good news is that the whole of series 1 and 2 is now available on video and DVD, the DVD having loads of deleted scenes and a fantastic commentary from the stars which adds a whole new dimension to the storyline of each episode. These feature all the episodes and some fantastic menus (particularly season 2, which has some great artwork of the characters). You should be able to pick these up for around £18.99 each. I'd recommend Spaced to anyone fleeing from Eastenders or the miriad of other
plain soaps around, or anyone just trying to find something new and original.
Here’s a fact that most of you already know, I like my driving games. With that in mind, I was quite surprised to find that there was a new game on the shelves that I hadn’t even heard of, TD Overdrive. Not being one to pick a game up without knowing whether it was any good or not, I had a quick go on it in a games shop and found, to my delight, that it was pretty playable. Showroom - The Overview ----------------------- Atari’s TD Overdrive is yet another racing game on the PS2 and Xbox platforms, and Sony’s machine certainly has a lot of them. In light of this, most new driving games are having to come up with something a bit different to appeal to the pretty full games market these days. Overdrive gets around this by introducing a story mode, where you can win cars by racing against others and against the clock (think Gone in 60 Seconds). It also has a few other interesting modes that make it a worthwhile game to add to the already sagging PS2 shelves. Like MSR and Project Gotham on the X-box, this game lets you drive at high speeds through real locations, namely San Francisco, London, Monte-Carlo and Tokyo. All of these are faithfully re-created, though you’d be hard pressed to go sight seeing at the speed these cars go. The cars on offer are badged models too, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lotus, Toyota and more, though there doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference in their handling other than the obligatory top speed and acceleration times. Handling -------- The difficulty levels are pretty high on this game right from the start, but after you get used to the tracks and the handling of the cars, you can find yourself screeching past the tight corners in no time. Handling itself is a bit of a pain at times, it seems all too easy to skid off the side of the road after pushing the joypad even a little way. This will put a lot of people off, especially when there are plenty of other driv
ing games on the market that can manage to do it better. Polished Body? - Graphics -------------------- The graphics are crisp and clear on both versions, though not as realistic as in Gran Turismo, they all have some nice lighting effects during night races and lots of detail in the scenery without popup or fogging. The cars themselves won’t win prizes in a beauty pageant, but they are pretty enough to get by, with fully working brake lights, headlights and dust effects. Extra fun comes from having pedestrians and objects to run in to, although the pedestrians tend to run away (surprisingly enough). There is little graphical difference between the two versions either, it does look like the game was written for the PS2 and ported directly over to Xbox. Car Stereo - The Music ---------------------- Music is well thought out and comes from artists such as DMX, JA Rule and Buba Sparks, some of which you might recognise from hearing them on the radio. These suit the feel of the game and the action. Voice acting during the story mode is up to the usual standard and does its job well, where as the engine noises are all pretty beefy. Getting to the Race on Time --------------------------- Loading times are the only real sore point of the game, as they are in most PS2 games, but are made that bit better by a great little game of Pong which Atari have included as a nice little extra. It’s pretty hard to beat, but keeps you busy until the game has loaded. Added Extras ------------ So far, this game is everything you expect from an arcade racer, with circuit and street tracks, some of which are available from the start, others which you have to earn, but the game has another trick up its sleeve. One of the gaming options is a police chase which is so much fun that it could have been made in to a game in its own right. Based loosely on arcade classic Chase HQ, you get to drive a police car and it
8217;s your job to stop a bunch of illegal racers before the time limit reaches zero. This mode is great fun and worth revisiting. At the Finish Line - Conclusion ------------------------------- The problem is that the police car thing has already been done by the Need for Speed series (currently appearing on all next gen consoles) as well as Burnout 2 and to be honest, these other two games do it much better. The options on here may appeal more to the arcade racer who wants a quick fix, but I personally like to have more option to change the racing rules. So, is TD Overdrive worth adding to your growing collection of car games? Well, if you like a challenge or simply want to ram cars of the road in a cop car, this game is for you. On the other hand, it adds some new experiences to the racing genre and is pretty fun for anyone who fancies a race around a famous location. It's also cheaper than some of the other new games out there at around £29.99.
A definitive top ten of anything is always a pretty hard thing to come up with, at least for me. I always seem to change my mind every few months, particularly where films and music are concerned. Well, this time I’ve decided to commit my current choices to paper (well, screen) and perhaps I’ll look back in 6 months and they’ll be the same, who knows? Besides, my film choices are all over the place. I mean, a psychologist would have a field day analysing this lot. Before I begin, dear reader, I want you to know that these films aren’t being reviewed here. No, this is simply a description of why I find them so good and maybe a plot outline if you’re lucky. I will leave it up to you as to whether you then go and look up the review, rent the film or just think ‘whatever’ and walk of shrugging your shoulders. So sit comfortably and I will begin. 10 – UHF Now this one is one of my more cult moments. The film stars Weird Al Yankovic, a famous American parody artist who you may recognise from such songs as Fat, Eat it, Like a Surgeon and Smells Like Nirvana. He does it again here with a great mix of Money for Nothing with the lyrics of Beverly Hillbillies. Who else would have though of such an ecclesiastic mix of music?! The story is basically about a guy called George who can’t fit in to any job, even in a burger bar, because of his day-dreaming. His uncle wins a 2-bit TV station in a bet and ends up handing the keys to George. After this all nature of weirdness ensues, including such memorable moments as the Rambo scene and the advert for Gandi III – The Revenge. Why is this in my top ten though? This film is so corny, but somehow it pulls it off wonderfully. The gags are thick and fast but don’t distract from the plot or characters. At the end of it you’ll be wanting more and you’ll even be replaying the film and laughing at the jokes all over again, it
’s that good! 9 - Phenomenon This one is another of my stranger choices. During the early 90’s John Travolta had a run of mediocre to dire film appearances. Due to this, Phenomenon didn’t really receive the reaction it deserved at the cinema. The story is set in a small American town and is about a man who just wants to be noticed by a woman who has moved in to the area. After his birthday party he wonders out in to the street and sees a bright light, which gives him greatly advanced brain power. He suddenly finds that he can learn languages in seconds, recognise secret radio codes from the US Army and many other things besides. This brings him the attention of everyone around, except the one person he really wants. The film is touching and funny and it just has that little magical touch that I fall for every time. It’s not the actors or even the dialogue, but the film seems to have a certain charm to it. 8 – Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) Now who hasn’t heard of this film yet? A Science Fiction classic that many new Sci-Fi films inspire to even get close to. This film is reason enough why Ridley Scott is held in such high esteem. It’s amazing to think that the film was a bit of a gamble at the time, but being based on a Phillip K Dick story (although wholly un-similar to the original story) has it’s perks and the dark and gloomy feel was something new to fans of futuristic adventures at the time. I could go on forever about how good the effects are or how breathtaking the scenery is, but the film works so much better as a whole, rather than dissecting what it is exactly that makes it so good. The dark mood and the director's original ending just add to the amazing experience. 7 – Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan Ok, I admit it, I like a Star Trek film, but then who doesn’t like this one? It has everything
that makes trekkies shout for joy at their favourite series, yet it’s so accessible to the rest of us. Unlike some of the later movie episodes, this film has an excellent script and some great acting from the main cast, before they started to fade a bit and get replaced by some bald guy and an android. Besides, Ricardo Montalban is seriously menacing as the evil superhuman Kahn and the ending is just one of the best pieces of Sci-Fi ever seen. If there is one piece of Star Trek which you would happily show to people who would normally scoff at the thought of watching the show, this is it. 6- Abre Los Ojos You may recognise this Spanish film by its remake starring Tom Cruise, Vanilla Sky. Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) is, to me, the superior of the two films. This movie is something that could easily have come from the pen of Phillip K Dick, a film about truth and illusion, it defies genres and is totally unlike any other story I have seen on film. I’m not going to even attempt to describe the plot here, it’s far too complicated for such a short space! It may not be obvious from my top ten list, but I do like a story that makes you think, and, boy, does this one do that! By the end you may well be scratching your head and wanting to watch something brainless instead, but that’s the beauty of it. Brilliantly acted and extremely well produced, this is my favourite foreign language film. 5 – Yellow Submarine The Beatles. Undoubtedly one of the best bands in the history of music, and the inspiration for this animated classic. Despite not being voiced by the fab four themselves, the film captured all the essence of the band at the time and has some wonderfully psychedelic scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Monty Python episode. There is something magical about this film, perhaps something has rubbed off from the band themselves, but from beginning to end
, where the Beatles make an appearance to triumphantly acclaim that all you need is love, this is as stunning as western animation gets. 4 – Excalibur John Boorman’s epic vision of the legend of King Arthur is amazing. Each scene is so rich in detail and dripping with history that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was filmed as a documentary. Everything from the legend is captured here, but with something more than any other version of this story has ever had before. Gabriel Byrne, Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson are just some of the memorable faces from the cast, and they all shine. This film shines on every level and is probably one of the best fantasy films of all time. It’s not afraid to show it’s dark side either, so battles are believable and often leave many slain victims in their path. What more can I say, forget Braveheart, King Arthur is the true defender of freedom. 3 – The Crow Yes, it may look to have as much substance as a glass of tap water, but like the self same glass it also contains far more than at first glance. Brandon Lee’s rise to fame as a star in his own right really came from this film, which is a pity as it was also his last film. What a way to go though. Based on a Dark Horse comic which had already attracted many underground comic fans, The Crow is a story of loss, retribution and love. It is both beautiful and violent, as well as having a great soundtrack which goes all the way from guitar ballad to raging rock. I love this film, I’ve seen it so many times. The sequels don’t even come close to the dark and ethereal feel that this movie offers. 2 – Ghostbusters What? How can this film, an 80’s paranormal comedy, be so high on my list. For oh so many reasons, dear reader. Not only does this film have some of the best lines, best characters and best comedy actors of all
time, but it also has Slimer. That should be reason enough to love it, but no, Everything about Ghostbusters is great. The plot centres around a group of off-beat psychology students who are investigating the paranormal and have their funding cut off right before the largest ghost sighting America has ever seen. Their services needed once more, they tackle a series of spooks until they find the source of the energy and face the battle of their lives to save America. Full of great sight gags, one liners and completely mad characters, Ghostbusters still stands head and shoulders above any other comedy. 1 – The Muppet Movie Ah, now who can resist the sight of a frog and pig in love? Anyone who tells me they are simply puppets will get a slap, Kermit and his friends are magical beings who have been sent here to enchant us all. This movie, the first Muppet movie to be made, is the story of how all the muppets met. Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the irrepressible Animal all shine out and come to life as they find each other and try to find fame and fortune. To say that this film is magical is underselling it. The Rainbow Connection (as sung by Kermit) is probably one of my favourite songs of all time (hey, don’t laugh, I mean it!). It may be that I have a soft spot for anything magical, but The Muppet Movie is just a perfect piece of cinema that should be watched by children and adults everywhere.
In this day and age people are insisting on for something original in their lives, whether it’s music, gaming or something else in the media realm. Problem is that in today’s society we are bombarded with so much in the way of media that it’s difficult not to copy. Let us look at what affect music has on us to see where all of this is coming from. Advertisers use music to drum messages in to you, music stations and MTV play non stop back-to-back hits and even shops use music to get people buying their wares. Gaming is increasingly in the limelight and even on your PC the internet is awash with adverts for new games, which are mostly the same as something already out. Media is a manipulative art form and can seriously affect any artist trying to create something new. Of course, there are the usual cash incentives. Television companies create identikit programs because they see that one particular series is doing well, they make money from other people’s ideas in a way. Take Pokemon, now how many cartoons about collecting creatures are there at the moment? I counted four of them on the same morning without even trying! It’s a cheap and easy way of making money from a concept drawn up by someone else. Don’t think that original artists can get away from it either, it’s so easy to be subconsciously aware of the millions of songs going through your head as you live and work each day, then not really notice when your brain regurgitates these into something you thought was original. Occasionally a shining light shows through, but then it’s soon made in to another copy by someone else, whether subconsciously or otherwise. There are other ways of making money from copying media, of course (and I’m not talking about pirates!). Spoof versions of songs and TV programs always go down well, 'Weird Al' Yankovic has turned this in to an artform and current MTV favorites Tenacious D
use it to great comedy effect in their music, making fun of rock bands everywhere. These are more substantial than your usual cash-cow records and they can often provide a useful social comment or two. The result of all this copying means that we are always doomed to hear the same basic record, see the same basic TV show or play the same basic game again and again, but if it sells no-one will stop producing them. Originality is sometimes hard to find in media, but once achieved it’s like finding gold at the end of the rainbow. The other side of the coin is that some artists will strive too hard to be original and end up making something that even they aren't happy with. In the end, music should come from the heart of the writer or composer, whether it's original or not doesn't really matter, it just needs to mean something to the artist, and if it does then, more than likely, it will also strike a chord with the audience. So, to the good points: .Original music means we have something to listen to, bar the same old thing every day .It means artists are trying hard and care about their music rather than their pockets .The record companies are made to sit up and take notice rather than mass-produce the same old thing .It can start trends in the music business And the bad points: .Originality can sometimes get in the way of the artist's true feelings. .Consumers may not rush out to buy it. .Record companies may well turn the band down, being unsure of their ability to sell records. So, there we have it. Record companies do take notice of bands who are trying to be original, but more often than not they find that making a quick buck from a mass-produced band until the next big thing comes along is often the easiest route to line their pockets. In a way, there's nothing wrong with mass produced, un-original music, after all, why would anyone be buying it if th
ere was? It would be nicer to think that there is room for both kinds of music in the industry though, otherwise we may find ourselves drowning in pop. As a consumer and listener, the only thing you can do is support the original bands, go to small concerts and pick up singles from artists who have been lucky enough to find their way onto the shelves. Of course, you can always try the game yourself, if you have the talent.
Turok is something of a legend as far as Nintendo 64 owners are concerned. So it now comes down to this new Turok game, on Gamecube, Xbox and PS2, to re-instate the power of the Dinosaur, can it do the job or will it become extinct before its time? Story ==== The premise of this new game is that our hero, Tal'Set, has been sent to a dimension of dinosaurs called the lost land and must find Tyrannus, who threatens to take over the place. Not exactly a new formula, but it worked for the previous games, so there’s no need to change it here. You start the adventure armed with a nifty bow and arrow, and get to pick up all manner of weapons from tomahawks to some serious firepower. These will aid you in your quest against the evil forces and some seriously angry dinosaurs that cross your path, and trust me, you'll need them! It's obviously been given a lot of thought and means that you will find yourself in many different stages, from the early forest based settings to the later castle parts. Graphics ====== The graphics in this new Turok have improved immensely since the last outing, as you would imagine. There are plenty of lovely dinosaurs to stare at, great looking enemies to fight and some nice fire and water effects on show as well. The only niggle here is that the paths are pretty defined, and if you try to go too far you will come up against a 2D wall of plants, not very realistic! Still, despite that there are some beautiful sights here and you will often find yourself admiring the animation on the dinosaurs as they walk past. The general air is pretty good though, but the developers could do with a few more classes in making bounderies more realistic. Look at Grand Theft Auto 3, it may not be perfect, but it feels in keeping with the game. Music ==== Music and sound effects are nicely done too, with some great use of surround if you have the equipment. It really adds to the e
ffect as you walk through the water and hear something swimming up behind you, or hear a large creature trampling the grass and snorting. You know that sooner or later you will have to turn around and confront it! It's nice that more and more games are utilising the surround technology now, it helps to create a better atmosphere for the games. Controls ===== The controls take some getting used to. It seems at first that they are too responsive. If you press up, then the view shoots upward, allowing for some tricky aiming at times, but as you progress you’ll find it easier to control the character and get those accurate shots in. There are, however, still little niggles with the control system that prevent the game from being as easy to pick up and play as it could be, but it’s worth putting up with this to get to the luscious later stages or the great multiplayer. As with all First Person Shooters, the multi-player modes are where you will find the longevity, and Turok gives you these in abundance. All sorts of modes are on offer here, each with multiple weapons and much slaying action. Everything from the usual Deathmatch mode to the fan favourite Capture the Flag is there and waiting for you to inflict multi-player mayhem on your fellow Dinosaur Hunters. This is where the game really stands out and you’ll find yourself coming back to the deathmatch modes again and again. Conclusion ======= Does Turok manage to live up to it’s N64 hype? Well, it does have problems with the controls and the single player can get a bit boring, but with the help of some lovely graphics and many modes of play it certainly does the trick in multi-player. Turok is indeed alive, well and kicking butt. Score 7/10
What the smeg is Red Dwarf? =================== Once upon a time, a new space comedy with a small budget and even smaller cast sailed out over BBC 2. That comedy was Red Dwarf and it grew up to be a huge cult smash hit. Throughout the mid nineties, the show grew and grew and more people began to use the phrases and quote the lines at school, work and in the high street. The story centres around the crew of the mining ship, Red Dwarf. As the ship experiences a radiation leak, Dave Lister (Craig Charles), the chicken soup machine repairman, manages to get put into stasis, thereby saving his life while everyone else around him dies. When he awakes, he finds himself alone on a craft lost in the depths of space. Of course, pretty soon he finds out that he is not alone after all, for one Arnold Rimmer (played by Chris Barrie), would be captain and Lister’s room-mate, has pinched the ship’s only holographic projection unit and, to Lister’s horror, has come back from the dead. Having Rimmer back is not exactly Lister’s dream come true, either, as he explains "Hermann Goering would have been better than Rimmer. Okay he was a drug-crazed transvestite, but at least we could have gone dancing." Not only that, but Lister’s pet cat has had children which have mutated over time to become Cat (Danny John Jules) and the ship’s slightly senile computer, Holly, makes up the fourth member of the inept crew. So why all the fuss over a science fiction series? Even now the first series of Red Dwarf is considered a classic and the jokes are still side-splittingly funny, even after many viewings. Rimmer’s obsession with his status, Lister’s disgusting habits and curry consumption and Cat’s vanity are all there from the beginning for everyone to enjoy. The acting, jokes and situations remain as funny know as they were when first shown to an unsuspecting audience on BBC2. This is a chance to revist th
e origins of the crew or to watch the beginning of Red Dwarf for the first time, it shouldn't be missed. And on DVD? ========= The DVD contains all six classic episodes; The End, Future Echoes, Balance Of Power, Confidence And Paranoia, Me2 and Waiting For God. The show is beautifully scripted throughout and presented in its original form, rather than the re-mastered updates the BBC had the misfortune to make later on. The picture quality is superb and the sound is perfect, but don't expect movie quality, this was only a BBC TV series, after all. Extras ==== There are a whole host of special features too, Cast and crew commentary on all episodes, the Series One trailer, an A to Z of Red Dwarf and Extended and deleted scenes (previously shown on a companion video), special effects shorts (showing shots of the models), the whole of Smeg-ups (Series One) and a Japanese dubbed episode. That should be enough to keep any Dwarfer happy, and that’s only for the first series. The BBC seem to have gone the whole hog with this collection and have produced what looks like a fantastic package, both for fans and those new to the series. Space: The Final Conclusion ================== As a chance o relive a classic series and one of only a few good Sci-Fi comedies, this is second to none. It has all the episodes, all the features from the extra videos that were originally released, plus loads more. To say that this DVD release is something that Red Dwarf Fans have been waiting for is a bit of an understatement, it would be more accurate to say it was smegging brilliant!
First things first, there are enough racing games on this planet to last you a lifetime, fact. Why, then, would you want to buy another one? Well, read on, dear games player and I will tell you. The Need for Speed games have been going for a pretty long time now, since the PSX and Saturn originals, in fact. The basic aim of the game is to race as fast as possible against other famous racing cars. All the cars in the games are badged model supercars and you will always find lots of shortcuts in the tracks to overtake the other cars. The new game isn't just a rehash though, it adds a lot of new features to the formula. The version I am reviewing is the Gamecube version, as it is the one I have at home and therefore have played the most, but there are also Playstation 2 and Xbox versions of the same game available. Graphics 9/10 ======== Firstly, with the amazing power of the next generation consoles, we have a game that looks the business. All the cars are recognisable badged models, shiny to their sleek metal shells and looking for all the world like Jeremy Clarkson’s dream collection. The graphics artists have done the business on the circuits too, with tons of tiny details as you rush through the streets and hilly mountain roads, past waterfalls and villages. The Gamecube version showcases some of it's best graphic effects too. Music 7/10 ===== The next step is to add some racy music, the tunes range from pumped up metal tracks to heavy beat dance music and all of them add to the feeling of a fast paced race. The tracks are either in-house artists or 'famous' bands, not that it makes that much difference when you're concentrating on the race, but it helps when you show other people your replays. Not only that, but the Dolby Digital effects are put in to effect on the sound effects front, with the police sirens and taunts as they lay their speed traps and call in the helicopters. Gameplay 9/10 ======== Ah, yes, the the police don’t just have their own sports cars to hunt you down, nosir. They will use every means at their disposal to try and thwart your plans at coming first, or finishing a race at all. If you manage to outrun them for any period of time, the boys in blue will come down heavy with their helicopters dropping bombs on your car and their tricky speed trap spikes that appear in the middle of the road as you turn a corner at top speed. It all adds to the confusion, I can tell you and I've been known to utter a few choice words on such occasions. The worst part is when you are first and finishing a race, then find yourself being passed by pretty much every other car as the cops get you in their speed trap. If you’ve had enough of the cops on your tail, you can always go for the option to switch roles and play the cop yourself, chasing those no-good racers across the courses you’ve unlocked. Choosing either a single game against computer controlled opponents or against a friend, you can try to ram the other cars off the road and arrest the speed freaks on your beat. This reminds me of Chase HQ, though it's a bit basic. Still, it's nice to have another option when you finally get bored of playing the race modes. Other modes featured in the game let you race one on one or pits the two players against the rest of the pack. There are loads of other options to fiddle with in the single games too, making it much more than just a simple racer. You can turn the tracks around, play in bad weather, turn on or off the cop chases and pretty much fiddle with most of the game to create your perfect racing environment. Lifespan 9/10 ======== As usual, all the courses aren’t there at the start of the game, you will have to work hard to unlock the later tracks. This is another area where Need for Speed differs from other racing games. By completing courses in the H
ot Pursuit and Racing Tournament modes, you can unlock the many tracks on offer in the single and multiplayer modes. This means that you don’t even need to unlock tracks in any particular order, but perhaps go for the hardest first. The longer and harder tracks cost you more points, but boy are they worth shelling out for! You can also unlock cars and other options too, the later cars, like the tracks, are well worth waiting for too. Versions ======== The different versions of this game (PS2, Xbox and Gamecube) have been made by different programming groups, but basically contain all the same cars and tracks. From what I've gathered, the PS2 version seems to be the best to control, but the Gamecube and Xbox versions have the better graphics. Verdict 9/10 ======= You can find this game in most shops for around £39.99, or on the net between £32.99 and £38.99 so it's worth shopping around. It may not be the fastest game in the pack, but Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 sure has the most features and with great graphics, some fine sounds and music and a multitude of options, it looks like it will get to the finish post way in front of the others, with other games only tasting the smoke from it’s exhaust.
Britannia Music and Video Club, a name that strikes fear into the hearts of many shoppers and sends Watchdog into a frenzy, it seems. So why exactly did I try them out? Well, it all started with a phone call. Once upon a Time ---------------------- A polite young lady (aren’t they all when they try to send you something?) asked whether I was interested in videos or music, I told them I was interested in films, but on DVD. She then mentioned that I could get a free DVD sent to me, Swordfish to be precise. Well, I’d heard about Britannia’s lack of success and the dreaded editors choice, so I quizzed her. It turned out that accepting this offer allowed me to get this free DVD (for the cost of postage and packing, £1.94 to be precise) and only have to buy 6 more if I wanted to quit. Not only this, but they sent 4 £10 off vouchers for later. Fine, I thought, and said yes. A few weeks later the postman came a-calling. Well, I’d got my DVD and a nice little catalogue explaining the system and giving me a chance to get some more DVDs on a two for £20 offer. Good so far. I phoned the orderline with my credit card details and paid the postage, making sure that I could get out of the offer if I wanted. I could also buy CDs and Videos with the same account as well. How it Works ----------------- Let me explain the system to you, if I may. There are two ways to get out of the club, one is to buy the minimum amount of DVDs (6 altogether) at once and at the regular price, then you can quit, even after just one month. The other is to pay for the DVD which they gave out for free. This sounds very fair and I will be trying it out quite soon. Catalogues ------------- Ok, so I was happy with the arrangements, I just needed to wait for a month before the next Britannia magazine arrived. The problem was that the £10 vouchers that they supplied could only be used with the catalogue numbers, not a
vailable on their website. This meant waiting for the catalogue to arrive. Now, I don’t know about you, but I believe that there are plenty enough DVD titles out there to form a pretty thick catalogue. Well, imagine my surprise, then, when a flimsy little 12 pager came through my door. Half of this was filled with offer titles which couldn’t use my vouchers for and the other ones that weren’t full price titles were all videos. Not being one to buy old technology where I had a perfectly good DVD player, thank-you-very-much. So I await catalogue number two. Recommended Recordings --------------------------------- The second point to remember is that you are asked to buy a recommended recording once a month, when the tiny catalogue is sent out. If you don’t want it then you can contact the company by phone, leaving a message on the answer phone, by mail, or my own preferred choice, by using their internet site. The site has been improved a lot since it started and now offers a safe way of paying for and ordering your titles. It has a much wider range of music and films than the catalogue, but it can also be used to reject your recommended recording by pressing one simple button. If you want the title then you can choose to get it sent straight away instead of waiting the full 28 days while they wait to see if you have sent a rejection form to them. This is neat and simple and only takes a few minutes, where as the phone option is a maze of options and recorded messages which may have a few customers tearing their hair out! Prices ------- Well, Britannia say that they can save you pounds compared to high street prices, and they are right, in one way. If you buy a title at a regular price (the equivalent of RRP) then you are free to choose another or more at the Bonus price, which is often very good. These are not just titles which have been gathering dust, but many new films at very low prices. It does mean
that you would have to buy quite a few recordings to make your money, but with the free offer at the beginning it all adds up nicely. Now remember that I told you I would be testing their quitting system out soon? Well, this is because I’ve found out that with the amount of DVDs I actually buy I will just end up paying the full amount or risk getting angry scowls from her who looks after the money. I’ve just bought my six recordings in one go (from the website) and will soon be working out which titles to use my £10 vouchers on, then it will be bye-bye Britannia. Britannia rules the waves? ------------------------------- Ha, not at all. My suggestion to you is to check out their website at www.britanniamusic.co.uk and look at the prices and the bonus offers, then decide whether it will save you any money. You will also need to think whether getting sent a recommended title every month which you have to reject will really annoy you or if you are prepared to accept it. Also bear in mind that many people have had problems with the company, and I don't agree with their bulldog sales tactics either. My own opinion? I for one don’t want the hassle and will buy my titles online from a proper retailer in future. Coming to the End --------------------- It has been 2 months now since I left Britannia and unlike the horror stories I had heard from other people, I have not heard any more from the company or been billed for any extra DVDs. The money I owed had already been paid over the internet and a simple phone call to the company ended the membership. I did add that I was leaving due to not being able to afford it (the truth!) so they may have realised they were not getting any more money out of me! So, all's well that ends well, but I would still only recommend the company if you were buying a lot of DVDs per month and didn't mind the hastle of rejecting a title monthly. Fa
r better to go to www.play.com for your cheap discs, I think I was one of the lucky few, so don't rush in to buying from this company on the strength of free gifts alone. It's true that there's no such thing as a free lunch.
We all know that films can be fun, inspiring, thoughtful, scary and even deep, but once in a while a film comes along that is just pure magic. Harry Potter is one such movie and it comes as no surprise that the experience oozes pure pleasure in every celluloid moment. (Does it sound like I like this film yet, I wonder?) For those still not in the know about Harry Potter, the story goes something like this; as a baby, an orphan son of a wizard and witch is left on the doorstep of a regular family. It isn’t until his 11th birthday that Harry Potter suddenly finds out that he’s adopted and he is expected to attend wizard school, and with the help of friendly giant Hagred (Robbie Coltrane) he escapes the clutches of his terrible adopted family and begins his new life as a wizard. Harry’s adventures are only beginning, though, as he finds himself caught up in a grand mystery, involving strange creatures and larger than life characters and making new friends in fellow students Ron and Hermione. The Movie --------- ‘But hang on’ I hear you ask, ‘how can a children’s book be such great entertainment for adults? Surely it’s a bit immature?’ Well, ask the thousands of adults who ended up hooked to J.K Rowlings amazing series of novels and you will find that this particular adventure is well worth taking. The good news is that the film has been closely overseen by Rowlings herself and follows the first book very closely, bar cutting down on a few scenes (the only downside to the film is that John Cleese wasn’t in it as much as he should have been). It also showcases some of the finest British talent in film and the experience as a whole is just wonderful, actors such as John Cleese, Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltrane get to show off their stuff and bring the famous characters from the book to the screen. The children can be a bit over-dramatic at times, but this only reminded me of th
e 'classic' old films like the railway children, when children's cinema wasn't just something churned out by the bucketload. The amazing sets bring the school to life, as well as creatures such as the giant Fluffy, and it’s great to see the game of quidditch being played right in front of your eyes. Every moment of the film’s 147 minutes really is magical and you will be swept up in the excitement and suspense of the story. The special effects add to the magical feel of the adventure too and the broom ride will take your breath away. The musical score is typical for this type of film, think big orchestral background music (especially in the sweeping flying sequences). Still, it does the job nicely and doesn't detract from the movie. DVD Extras ---------- If that’s not enough to make you rush out and buy the film, the extras on the DVD are something even more lovely. Set around the halls of the school, these extra features on the second disc are divided into games and features. Everything, from catching the Qudditch snitch ball (which will give you the rules of the game) to getting past Fluffy for some extra special features, is so well done that it seamlessly blends in to the feeling of the movie. As well as the Interviews with Director Chris Columbus and Producer David Heyman, trailers and extra footage, there are plenty of activities for children too. You can cast a spell in different languages (nicely showing off the dubbing from other versions), be sorted by the sorting hat and even take the adventure on to your computer with Quidditch Screensavers, game demos and even flying owls! There are also two versions of the DVD available, widescreen and the ol' Pan and Scan (where the camera moves around to compensate for the lack of screen area). I always recommend the Widescreen version though, as this is as near as possible to how the movies are meant to be watched. Do look ou
t for this though on the box when you buy the film, as it can be easy to miss. The average price of the movie is around £18.99, but I've seen it for a lot less in sales recently (try www.play.com to get it for £14.99 for instance). so...Potty about Potter? ----- Ok, so I admit I never read the books before watching this film, but I can’t recommend this movie enough, even If you haven’t read the books, Harry Potter is real magic and you’ll want to keep reliving it again and again (or at least until the next one is out!)
I’m a big fan of the Megadrive and one of it’s biggest hits was the Streets of Rage series. There hasn’t been a game with that intensity and human body count for ages, so who better to bring it on that the creators of Grand Theft Auto 3? I found this game second hand at the local game shop. It only cost me £15, but you should be able to pick it up new for anything from £29.99 to £19.99 depending on where you go. It seemed a bargain to me at the time, anyway. Plot - Down with society ======================== 'Ah, but what of the plot?' I hear you ask. Well, State of Emergency is set in the far future, where corporations have replaced politics and freedom with advertising and control over the media. All news is good news and the people who work hard and do what they are told are treated with money and a home. There are those that prefer their freedom, however, and refuse to bow down to their corporate masters. You play one such character, choosing from either an ex-police man or a female lawyer, who are out to save Capital City from the evil of consumer based tyranny. Sound interesting? Well, it's enough of a story to create a game around, I suppose. Gameplay - Gore or Grrrr? ========================== So how does it play? The gameplay is pretty easy to get to grips with. Either compete to complete missions, such as stopping an important person from leaving an area or attacking a certain amount of guards in a time limit. This is the main body of the game and the missions can get pretty tough and pretty hectic at times. You are usually given orders by a fellow member of the gang and a large arrow shows you to your next destination. Of course, you can always choose the scenic route and take out a few of the guards at the same time. If you get fed up with the structured missions, you could go in to Chaos mode and try to get the highest score before the timer reaches zero. Think a fully fre
e roaming version of Streets of Rage, mixed with the violence of Grand Theft Auto and you’ve got this part of the game in one. Graphics - Bloody mess or Bloody great? ======================================== The graphics are of a completely different style to GTA3, they seem rather smoother and more cartoony somehow, but the locations and characters are just as detailed, with most objects either being breakable or used as a weapon. Pick up a rubbish bin and you can use it to smash a window or throw it at a guard in defence. Sound is also used to great effect, with shouts in the distance from pursuing attackers and screams from nearby bystanders as you rampage through the streets and malls. It’s great to just throw something at a window and stand back as you hear all the screams around you while people run in every direction. (don’t try this at home, though!) There are many ways to kill the guards, but if you kill or hurt innocent bystanders points will be taken off. (this game does have some morals after all!) Guns, grenades and many other weapons are littered around the levels, and you’ll need them to survive as more and more of the corporation’s guards and vigilantes chase you and try to stop your crusade. Conclusion - Smashing Game or Awful State? =========================================== The game is pretty bloody and the dark humour through-out just adds to the violent but fun atmosphere in each level. Although a two player mode would have made this game perfect, you’re still going to spend a lot of time trying to beat your last score or get past that next level, it can get pretty tough later on, with many more people after your blood on each level. The levels can also seem a bit repetitive at times, but this is the same with most games in the genre and there are varied missions to keep you occupied, plus the Chaos mode, which you can easily pick up and play. Th
e thing is that you can now pick this up for around £19.99 or less, so it's still going to give you value for money. With a great sense of humour and quite a bit to do, the game could last quite a while, but you may find yourself wondering off after a while of running through the same old level, trying to find some guy with a suitcase. It's possibly worth renting out first to find out whether you will be playing this for some time or leaving it to gather dust, but I personally find myself coming back to it for a quick blast (literally!) on the chaos mode. Definitely not a game for children, but certainly a great way to unwind after a day at the office, State of Emergency will keep most fans of the old school 2D games happy for ages.
At first glance, a grill doesn’t seem to be a very exciting kitchen appliance, and most of the time they aren’t. Enter ex-boxer George Foreman to show you exactly why you should be excited by his new grill range. The George Foreman range of grills are quite small compared to other grills, but they have an excellent feature that the other grills lack. My choice was the 10023 model, but there are many others, ranging in size. The grill is designed to sit on the table or worktop and slant forward. This looks like it could be tricky keeping food in it at first, but a quick first trial run (that’s my excuse for eating this week, at least) shows that the food stays put. The idea of designing the grill in this way is so that all the fat from your food will drip down the grill tray and in to the removable drip tray. It’s a simple idea, but very useful for cooking low fat foods such as chicken breasts and burgers that would normally be covered in fat. The inside of the machine has large grooves, which drain away grease and fat from the food while the ridges keep food above the fat and other liquids that drip from it. This means that your breasts will be free from fat and taste perfect. (hey, I heard that sniggering at the back.) Not only does this make your food lean, but it also means that your burgers, sausages and other food will take far less time to cook, excellent for anyone who needs their food in a hurry. This is heigthened by the fact that the non-stick tray will heat the food from both sides. The machine will even tell you when the grill is hot enough to cook the food and when you should take it out via an indicator which changes colour from red to green. The tray inside can hold around 6 or 7 burgers or up to 10 small sausages, ideal for a family feast. There are also smaller versions of the grill which can hold 2 or 4 burgers each, these are great if you have less space, but I would personally go for the larger mode
l every time, as you never know when you will need to cook for more (with my parents popping round, it could be anytime!). The plastic casing on top of the grill lifts up to reveal a bun warmer too, which will warm any size buns (I thought I told you to stop sniggering!) while your food cooks. Excellent for that Burgershop effect. Not only does the grill have all these features, but it comes in a bright range of colours (currently 4, ruby, clear, violet or green). See, I told you it was exciting. This is great if you are conscious of creating a colour scheme in your kitchen or just want to brighten things up a bit. The build quality is also good, with some extra tools such as a spatula in the pack and full easy-to-read instructions. The grill needs to be heated the first time it is used, but after that it can be turned on really quickly (oh, go on, there’s no point stopping you now, is there?). For a great alternative to a barbecue and a low fat one at that, the George Foreman grills are fantastic and fast, but most importantly it gives you an excuse to eat more burgers, which can’t be bad!
Let me explain a little what Neon Genesis Evangelion is, and why I’ve chosen to devote this opinion to a sole Japanese series. Evangelion is: A Japanese anime series A fresh and original idea A great story with a weird ending Addictive and compulsive Full of Western and Eastern religion and mythology. Evangelion isn’t: Just another Akira Boring For kids Lacking in Eastern strangeness Right, now that’s out the way, its down to work. I hope I haven’t lost you already, I know when some people see the word anime or realise that someone else is banging on about another one of those Japanese Manga movies they instantly turn and run in fear. Well, I’m here to tell you that Evangelion is different and worth your time. The Story --------- I suppose I’d better divulge the plot before I get to the nitty gritty. It all starts with a boy. Shinji Ikari to be precise. It is 2015, a large proportion of the Earth has been wiped out by a huge nucular explosion named ‘Second Impact’. Survivors from Japan have been kept in a newly built Tokyo while others live in the ruins of the old city. Shinji is waiting to meet a stranger and before he knows it he is caught in a cross-fire between the United Nations forces and a large creature known as an Angel. So far so anime, but the story takes many turns from this beginning and after a call from his father, who he hasn’t seen since he ran away from home at an early age, Shinji soon finds himself enlisted in an agency, NERV. NERV is dedicated to fighting these strange creatures and he becomes one of three children chosen to pilot the only force that can defeat the Angels, the Eva units. What makes these creatures different from the usual Japanese mechs that proliferate the thousands of other animated series is that the creatures are part biolog
ical and it is only by mixing the mind of the children with the body and soul of the Evangelion units that they finally work. There is something special about the children used, they are the only ones who can pilot the Evas and soon it becomes clear that even they have problems connecting to the living machines. As the story progresses, more and more questions are thrown up to the viewer. Who are the Angels, why is NERV so shady and what do they really know about the second impact, why is the first child, Rei, so strange and solitary? Shinji’s inability to fit in with anyone or feel part of something is an integral part of the story too, as is his attempt to understand or even speak with his father. He is a boy with a habit of running away from his problems and finds it hard to trust anyone. Background Sources ------------------ It would be so easy to create a series about a group of large machines fighting a group of odd aliens, but somehow Neon Genesis Evangelion is beyond all this. It focuses on the characters, who all have their problems getting on with each other, as well as the huge problem of fighting these aliens. Mixed with this is the emerging story of how second impact actually happened and what these angels really are. The series calls on the origins of Adam, Eve and Lillith from the Old Testament and also parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the teachings of the Eastern religions. Shinji is not a typical hero and doesn’t have any of the answers in saving the lives of his friends or anyone else, he’s not an anti-hero either, but just a boy who is confused and growing in a world that doesn’t make sense to him. The other two children are just as stunned with their huge responsibility, but react in different ways to it. The powerful imagery may affend some people and affect others in equal amount. It is so well thought out that many of the elements are deeply affecting and th
e religious ideas are incorporated well, making the whole series much more than simply an action based ‘us against them’ story. The music ranges from heavy pop inspired numbers to classical tunes then all the way back to the end theme ‘fly me to the moon’, an old song which seems to have a chilling weirdness when used in the context of this series. There are moments of nudity, not unknown in many Japanese series. Some of these are justified by the situation and others are used for amusement and to show that the main character is still coming to terms with his own sexuality while still in adolescence. My own opinion -------------- What makes this so powerful for me? The symbolism and the way that western religion is so deeply embedded in the story is intriguing. It adds a completely different slant on the creation of the universe from a Christian perspective and you can go as deep as you like into the meaning behind each of the characters and events. At every turn you will find a reference to some biblical event or text. Not only does it have a deep, brooding feel that wells up as the story progresses, but the characters are all so fleshed out and interesting that you soon believe you’ve known them for ever. The writing should be commended for focusing not only on Shinji, but really giving us more of an insight in to what drives the other people around him and how they each cope with their losses, feelings and the events unfolding in front of them. The story left a mark on me, it forced me to think about values and the way we think about life. It also forced me to re-watch the whole series again and now I find myself eager to do the same for a third time after getting it on DVD. I am not obsessed, but highly intrigued by the whole of this amazing series and have been seeking out more information through websites and other fans. To describe just how big this is, mo
st teenage Japanese have heard and watched the series and many adults have an obsession with it. It has also led to a massive open air concert of the original soundtrack! The western world hasn’t been hit quite so hard, but many model shops now stock Eva models and there are a growing army of fans in the UK and USA. More Evangelion? ---------------- When the original 26 episode series had finished, the ending wasn’t exactly what the Japanese fans wanted. It doesn’t really answer a lot of the questions raised in the series and they drove the creators wild for a solution to this. The writers obliged, but decided that the final two episodes would be presented as films for the big screen. These became Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion. Death revisited the series story from the viewpoint of each of the characters, while Rebirth added to the ending, but left the future uncertain. The End of Evangelion followed on from this and explained many of the questions posed before finally ending with a spectacular finish which blew many people away. Formats ------- The original series is available in the UK on video (from AD Vision) where it is shown in English. MVC is just one of the stockists. I would recommend the DVDs which give a choice of English or Japanese, plus character bios and other extras. Unfortunately, the English language ones are only available in the US, either individually or in an 8 disc box set called the Perfect Evangelion. Death and Rebirth will be available for the first time in English on DVD on 30th July 2002, again in the USA, while the End of Evangelion will be released in September 2002. More Information ---------------- To get more about the series, I would recommend the following sites. http://members.lycos.co.uk/Ritsuko/666-protector/home.htm http://www.lwhy.clara.net/nge/ For information on the two movies, and a lovely tra
iler, see the site below: http://www.deathandrebirth.com/ Lastly, the series will be airing on the Sci Fi channel (Sky and Cable) from June after the 10pm movies.
Horror films seem to be getting worse these days. Ok, so it’s a sweeping statement but the world of horror in the eyes of directors and screenwriters these days seems to be made up of quick shocks and lots of blood. This, in my humble opinion, is what’s known as a ‘bad move’. I was reminded about this the other day when I had a chance to catch the showing of Ring and Ring 2 on Channel 4 over the last week. The first of these films is probably one of my most highly rated horror films of all time and its utter lack of reliance on blood and ‘shock’ scenes is a fresh and welcome experience. Ring is a Japanese film by director Nakata Hideo and written by Takahashi Hiroshi. It is actually based on a famous book by Suzuki Koji, still unavailable in an English language translated version (this is apparently in progress though). It concerns an unmarked videotape which when watched can cause the viewer to die exactly one week afterwards in mysterious circumstances. The plot takes a little getting used to if you’ve been brought up on Western films as it caters for its own Eastern audiences, with only a few nudges towards the film-makers we are so comfortable with. The film is in Japanese with English Subtitles. Plot Outline ------------ The plot centres around a reporter for a local newspaper called Asakawa Reiko, played by Matsushima Nanako. She is assigned to investigate what seems to be just another Japanese urban legend. College children are interviewed talking of a tape which, when watched, will cause the phone to ring and a woman’s voice telling the viewer that they will die in exactly 7 days. All of this is taken with a pinch of salt until Asakawa learns that her niece and 3 other friends have died in mysterious circumstances, all at the same time. In a bid to get to a big story, despite being a single mother who seems to get all the back stories, she follows the last known steps of
her niece, Tomoko, to a small cabin and while talking to the owner of the resort, spots a blank video tape that seems out of place with the others. Something inexplicably leads her to watch the tape and frightening, disjointed images confront her including a woman’s face in a mirror, the word Eruption and a well. Not being fazed by having been cursed, or still not believing this to be true, she goes back to her ex-husband, a teacher called Takayama Ryuji, for help in solving the origin of the tape and the woman in the mirror. They trace the picture of the woman, via a newspaper cutting, back to a psychic who was reportedly heralded as a freak after killing some of the reporters who heckled her. From here things get weirder as Reiko has to deal with her curse and then her son, Yoichi, watching the video too. As things are pieced together, the story becomes more inexplicable and it is soon apparent that Reiko is in extreme danger unless she can break the curse and escape from the strange figure with long hair covering her face. Actors: Asakawa Reiko, played by Matsushima Nanako TAKAYAMA RYUJI, played by Sanada Hiroyuki TAKANO MAI, played by Nakatani Miki. ASAKAWA YOICHI, played by Otaka Rikiya. OISHI TOMOKO, played by Takeuchi Yuuko. KURAHASHI MASAMI, played by Satou Hitomi. My opinion ---------- Like with many other films of this ilk, the plot does not do the film itself justice and you simply have to watch the movie to gain the Ring experience. It is an experience too, the images from the video will be burned in your memory for a long time to come and even watching this film during the day does not detract from the eerie feelings or sense of something malignantly evil in the story. The images of Sadako, the protagonist, and of the strange way the curse is passed on will have you throwing away your unmarked video collection in an instant. But it isn’t about technology so much as it
is about the way that technology is used and how people react to being cursed. Would you curse someone else if it meant you could survive? Ring (or The Ring as it is sometimes known by western audiences) is half ghost story and half true horror, I have personally never seen anything that has this much impact on the viewer or drags you in as much before making you shrink back in fear. Part Poltergeist in the aspect of the television being the medium for the spirit, part psychological horror in the growing realisation that an urban myth can be true and have such dire consequences, Ring is both one of the most in your face and, at the same time, subtle horror films since Exorcist, but unlike Exorcist it need no great makeup and only the merest special effects to produce the same results. The book (part of a trilogy, like the films) has many differences to the movie storyline, which seems to have been dumbed down somewhat for the sake of length. The virus that affects the video is not explained in the film and the more scientific explanations found in the original are glossed over. Yet still the film seems polished and accomplished as it winds its way through the heart of modern Japanese fear. The sequel is not even remotely akin to the book, but does offer some interesting insights in to the origins of the tape. It is worth watching for this alone, although the prequel (Ring 0) is the one that gives the most background to the evil beginnings and tries to go back on track from the original story. Interestingly, this film is so big in Japan that several television miniseries were made as remakes to try and get closer to the original book, yet each one is apparently worse than the last. Ring figures and other assorted collectibles are available and the forthcoming remake for American cinemas is underway at Dreamworks. This is not a film recommended for anyone who can’t stand strange phenomena or ghost stories. Anyone watching
this, particularly near the end, will need nerves of steel to get up the stairs to bed afterwards and I’m pretty sure it’s not healthy for the mind unless you love being scared! That said, this is probably one of the best horror films I’ve seen in the last 5 years in terms of the fear it gives out and the great storyline. Watch it if you dare, then throw away your video! The movie (and the sequels) are available on Tartan video and DVD in the UK, with the DVDs retailing at around £19.99. The images on the video can be viewed at: http://www.somrux.com/ringworld/ring.ram For an idea of the video images in the remake, there is a hidden section in Dreamworks own website, go to dreamworks.com and then click on the movies link. From here, move your mouse into the Road to Perdition and then to the blue area above the Dreamworks logo. The picture will be replaced by red. Scroll down into the flashing area and left click for a quick burst of the video images..