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pmcds
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Member since: 31.01.2008

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    • More +
      17.02.2015 00:17
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      (Rating)

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      • Characterisation

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      • "Drags at times; filler"

      In a glorious and heady Vermont elite campus college, an unlikely murder takes place

      Donna Tartt was recommended to me by a colleague, and she suggested this was the best book to start with. Reading the blurb, I was really looking forward to it, a seemingly Dead Poets sort of campus feel, with endless terms harking back to a time when Greek and Latin were spoken by those who considered themselves in the upper echelons of modern English speaking society.

      I found that the reality of reading Tartt is a different thing to that which I expected. Detail upon detail is given, whether you want it or not, but the elegant prose with which she scripts is so enchanting at times that you can't help but read every word for fear of leaving something important out.

      At the outset of the novel, narrator Richard Papen reflects on his formative years at the elite Hampden college in Vermont, and in particular on the death of Bunny Corcoran, a friend of his. As the book progresses, the narrative is told through Richard's reflections on the events building up to Bunny's death. In doing so, Tartt introduces us to Richard's fellow classics students: the highly intellectual and magnetic Henry; the jittery Francis, whose parents' country home forms part of an escape for the group; twins Charles and Camilla, whom Tartt portrays as painfully beautiful; Richard the narrator, who presents himself as a reclusive and pensive character; and Bunny, a bouncy and lively character with more social than academic leanings and a penchant for getting his friends into trouble.

      Aside from the occasional additional character, particularly towards the end of the novel, these six are the mainstay of the novel, and although there are long passages of the text when they do not appear, these do drag, and the reintroduction of one or more of them into the tale inevitably brings with it some more excitement. Tartt's characterisation is not in question as far as I am concerned, and it was only after I'd finished that the same colleague indicated that there were plenty of bits you could easily skip, and that she thought Tartt had been a bit indulgent and perhaps needed a stricter editor. I agreed, but could have done with the info a bit earlier!

      Essentially, that's a pretty good way of summing the book up - there are plenty of occasions where she builds tension, but this is often over a period of 20 or 30 pages, and is occasionally laboured, in my opinion. Don't approach this with a view to having a quick read, for that's exactly what it is not. Stephen King is the master at dragging things out and giving you far more information than you'll ever need, but I find that there are snippets that are essential to the plot in his work, whereas with this really did feel like you could chop a whole load of the filler text out and it would still have the same impact. Recommended, but with its caveats.

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      03.02.2015 02:40
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      • "Top winter tyres"

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      • "Cost a bit more"

      Top winter tyres

      I've never really worried too much about getting the right tyres for my car during the colder months, but this particular cold snap and the offer from my father in law has prompted me to go for the best tyres I can get for the sort of roads I'm likely to encounter. It being winter, and me living by the coast, the grip is essential as the coastal wind can really make the wet roads turn icy in the blink of an eye, and although previous years haven't really yielded a sudden variety to worry about, this year's extreme freezes in the south west really have made me think.

      Enter Goodyear. Usually I just go with whatever is the cheapest, but this does not always mean the most efficient for my car. I find that the Goodyear tyres are of top quality, and this particular tyre fit my car perfectly. The biggest lure for me with these tyres was that they are designed to be better on wintry roads, and we've certainly had a few of those recently. I think that the extra grip these tyres have afforded me have been well worth the extra cost I've paid for them, and although you're never sure whether you're going to slide around on the roads or not, the better the tyre, the better the grip, in all honesty.

      In terms of cost, these tyres are easily over the £50 mark per tyre, but I still reckon they're worth the extra money to ensure you're you're getting the best safety out of them. Having two kids also makes me think twice about what tyres to get and whether my car is safe enough on the road or not, and sometimes having the best tyres available is a reassurance that you've secured your and their safety.

      Giving you the extra grip is most notable on the wet or wintry roads, but you can also notice this during general driving. On normal driving, the cornering with these tyres is much better, and you almost make sure you drive in a more controlled fashion because you respect what you've put on the bottom of your car to get you from A to B. Sure, the cost is a part of this, but it certainly feels like you have more quality taking you to your destination each time.

      Cost wise, I'm looking at my local garage, and there's probably an extra £15 or so, maybe more, on each individual tyre, to what I usually buy for my car. You notice the grip, and if you;re going to replace all four tyres, you'd certainly expect that £60+ would help you notice a difference.

      And it does - thankfully. I feel safe when driving with these tyres in a wintry climate. Once the weather warms up, I'll switch back to cheaper tyre, no doubt, but when winter comes around again, these will be my tyres of choice.

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    • More +
      18.01.2015 16:25
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      • "Solid protection"
      • "Good support for standing up"

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      • "Doesn't last"

      Decent iPad cover - protective and supportive

      iPad cases are often a bit of a lottery - I've used plenty which have been designed for a specific model but haven't been useful, and some that have been right on the money. It's a fine line between efficiently protective and missing the mark. This Trust Smart Stand is a hardcover iPad case which I find to be one of the better models, although not perfect.

      The case fits snugly around the corners of the iPad, and only adds a little amount of width to the iPads dimensions. The hard rubber is much better than most of the softer rubberised cases I've seen, and the benefits of this one are in the reassurance you can get from the protection it offers. There's no 'give' in the corners, but it's a bit more flexible around these and the edges than the flat surface of the back.

      The front is divided into four segments which can fold. I've used cases with three sections before and it limits the usage for propping up, etc. Having four means that you can fold up a triangle as a support at back to have your iPad leaning up against itself to present a near vertical device without having to hold it. It only works on the horizontal axis though, so having portrait shapes on your screen will be somewhat limited to the height of the horizontal screen.

      It flips open and closed quite easily, and the connection between the four segments is solid - there are no gaps, which provides complete suction around the edges for the magnetised edges of the lid, which is somewhat more flexible than the backing. I think this is one of the best features of it, certainly as a new device.

      If I had a criticism of this, it would be that after a lot of usage, the shape does seem to get slightly less robust, at least with the four segments on the top. Slight sliding from the lid means that the iPad could be 'open' without you realising it, draining battery and activating some features, as the magnetic element isn't the strongest and could easily lessen. I suppose something like this isn't necessarily designed for long long term use, although at £10 you'd hope it would be more durable for a longer time. I started noticing the lesser quality of closure after a few months, and although it remained solid for quite a while, it does reduce its quality enough that you'd notice and perhaps think twice about getting a second one were you to look at a replacement case.

      The thing with this is that its options for support and initial quality are enough to warrant recommendation. I would recommend this and have used a few of these, mainly for work, where the iPads get plenty of use from a wide range of people. They last quite well and for £10 or thereabouts are worth the price tag.

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    • More +
      14.01.2015 20:04
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      • "Dark and obsessive"

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      • "Weak moments in the middle episodes"

      Kevin Bacon's FBI profiler has to deal with a mass murderer's cult following

      Aside from seeing Kevin Bacon flaunt just how fast his internet runs with 4G from EE, he is also an extremely accomplished actor. Lending his talents to a TV show is something that I know many have waited for since I don't know when, and we finally get it with The Following.

      It follows Bacon as Ryan Hardy, a retired FBI profiler who is also a recovering alcoholic with a heart problem - give the guy a break - whose nemesis in the form of Brit acting stalwart James Purefoy is taunting him from prison in anticipation of the release of his new autobiopgraphy.

      It seems that Purefoy's psychotic mass murderer character, Joe Carroll, has attracted a large cult following, which is evident from the rather graphic beginning to the series when we see a woman inflict physical harm on herself because 'Joe wills it'. Thus ensues a game of cat and mouse as surprise after surprise arises with who has become one of Joe's followers. No one is safe, and anyone could be a follower, willing to spring him from prison, kill for him or even maim themselves.

      The premise is very good, and the format builds up the tension episode after episode. We soon become familiar with characters on both sides, as the FBI bring Ryan out of retirement as a consultant and team him up with a select few who are capable of tackling the situation, and a core of followers are also focused on to give us the other side of the coin. The skill in the writing and acting is in the sympathy that we sometimes end up feeling for the followers, and in the annoyance we experience at the actions of some of the FBI and other 'good guys'.

      In terms of style, it's extremely dark and doesn't really pull any punches - you sometimes see things dialled down in a TV series in order to appeal week upon week, but this is full on every episode and actually quite shocking in a memorable sense, especially in the first few weeks. I thought that things tailed off a little bit mid season and there were a couple of episodes where I was a bit disappointed, but it certainly picked up towards the end and finished with a bang! The clever thing from the writers' perspective was in finishing each episode on a cliffhanger of some sort, whether it be a couple of minutes of dark suspense followed by a jumpy moment, or a surprise unforeseen twist at the end that makes you want to watch the next episode right away, and not have to wait another week, as originally televised.

      Luckily, with the boxset, you can go straight to the next episode, and I wouldn't be surprised if this dark and twisting psychological thriller of a TV series isn't gobbled up within a few days of starting it. Very dark and not for the faint of heart, but well worth a watch.

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    • Ender's Game (DVD) / DVD / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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      14.01.2015 01:54
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      • Entertaining

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      • "Nothing special"

      Ender Wiggin is hailed as the saviour of the human race

      Many years ago, the Earth was invaded by the Formics. Heroes fought off the attackers, with ultimate warrior Mazer Rackham sacrificing himself in a suicide mission to destroy the enemy mothership and cease the fighting. It's now 2154, and fearing a new attack, soldiers are trained from a very young age to be recruited into those worthy of leading any prospective battles. One such is Ender Wiggin, the brightest tactical brain they've seen for a long time - and he's still a child.

      Ender's Game focuses on Wiggin's journey through training, demonstrating the military tactical awareness that the forces are after. The film develops him as a character quite well, following a tried and tested formula of entering military training at the bottom and working his way up, making friends and enemies alike as he progresses through. I suppose most of the focus should be on the technology used for the film rather than the plot itself, at least in large part, as it is particularly futuristic and well delivered.

      A lot of the film focuses on simulation of battles, and some of the futuristic elements used within these scenes are quite impressive. There has certainly been some clever visualisation of the original script gone into this production. When Ender enters a game specifically created for him, the design is quite impressive, and this follows through to the end of the film as well.

      The acting is generally very good, with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis perhaps the most recognisable names and faces, but with Asa Butterfield as Ender proving to be a solid lead role. The living quarters featured in the film remind me a little of Pacific Rim, a bit dark and dingy and claustrophobic, but this merely highlights the fact that we're dealing with children rather than adults being trained to lead the fight, and this somehow gives it more of a desperate edge, at the same time as making you feel a little nervous and slightly disbelieving due to the unlikely nature of children being the saviours of our future.

      The film has a powerful ending, one that I didn't see coming, but it is well crafted and easy to predict if you're thinking about it. To be honest, the film largely flows very smoothly and is quite simple to follow, which is perhaps why I was concentrating as intensely as I might have been and therefore just watched it without thinking of what might happen. As a result, the end was impressive and as the credits rolled I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. There's nothing overly special about it, and I wouldn't rant and rave about it, but it's certainly worth a watch if you spot it.

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    • The Crow (DVD) / DVD / 7 Readings / 6 Ratings
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      12.01.2015 12:08
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      • "Dark and mysterious"

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      • None

      Eric Draven is resurrected one year after his death to exact revenge on his killers

      As dark vigilante films go, you don't get much more on the money than 'The Crow'. Famously the film in which Brandon Lee lost his life during filming, he stars as Eric Draven, murdered along with his raped fiancée, Shelley, by a gang of city street thugs. A legendary tale of the power of the crow allows for the winged creature to resurrect one soul for the purpose of revenge, and Draven is chosen exactly one year after his death. With the assistance of the crow, Draven makes his way through the gang, one by one, to kill them all as revenge.



      A very simple premise, done very well. Other films have tried, and failed, to follow a simple plot such as this, but I think the key here is in keeping the film very dark. There are only minor tugs at the heartstrings, and the characters are not allowed to talk at length. This is a film designed for the visual, something for the special effects, visual display and mood creators to get their teeth into. You're not going to get much in the way of sophisticated speech; this is one man, returned from the dead, exacting revenge on those who killed him and the one he loved.



      From the young girl, Sarah (Rochelle Davis) who is a friend of Eric's and recognises him post-resurrection, to Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson), prominent at the scenes of both the initial murders and the vigilante gang slayings; and from each individual in the gang, to their leader Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), speech is minimal and only included when necessary. The characters in the gang are characterised as the vengeful Draven finds them. Some choice conversation as he finds each one is all we need to understand them as characters: killing someone is nothing to them. At each juncture, director Alex Proyas gives us flashbacks as Draven is able to see, through the crow's eyes, the actions of the individual that led to his and Shelley's death, spurring him on even further.



      Vigilantes on screen are commonplace now, with many comic book superhero being made into TV shows and films. Just over 20 years ago, when this was released in 1994, it wasn't quite so prevalent on our screens, and the dark nature of the film is perhaps what has spurred many on to create what we see now. Vigilantism is a very dark thing, and the film takes place entirely at night. The special effects are very good for the 90s, and minimal enough so that the actions are seen to be as human as possible, despite being an undead avenger meaning that he can't die...again.



      Excellently directed and acted, this is simplicity done spot on. There will always be discussion over the fact that it was an incomplete film due to filming ceasing after Brandon Lee's death, but what we do have as a result is a richly dark film that's well worth a watch, more than once.

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    • Robosapien (DVD) / DVD / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      31.12.2014 12:09
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      • Entertaining

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      • "Nothing special"

      Entertaining family film about a robot boy

      Needed a 'passes the time' film to spend with my poorly 10 year old yesterday evening, and we came across this on Netflix and decided to give it a go.

      A scientist invents a search and rescue robot (Robosapiens) only to find that his employers are prepared to adapt the design to mass produce search and destroy robots because of the higher financial reward. When he deletes the production files allowing access to the internal workings and urges robosapiens to run, a chance encounter with a high school science geek provides temporary safety from the bad guys.

      What follows is quite an endearing film, with the kid, Henry, his older sister who is embarrassed to have him as a brother, and their single mum accepting robosapiens into their home after a few tense scenes where he proves to be more of a hinderance than a help. The entertainment comes thick and fast, there are a few funny moments, and the main plot of robosapiens being sought by the villains is often forgotten for the more child oriented adoption of a funky robot - why wouldn't you?

      A few social topics are tackled, with bullying probably foremost. Films targeted at kids regularly do this, and there's no exception here, with the class bully picking on Henry throughout the film. Films often deal with this in a flippant manner, but I quite liked how this film tackled the subject and with its overall outcome. It also focuses quite well on the sibling rivalry and how love is there despite them appearing to not being able to stand the sight of each other. I guess the acting is key here, and while there's nothing to write home about, the acting is decent enough. The biggest name I recognise is Penelope Ann Miller, although I wouldn't call her a big name. I recognised a couple of faces, but ultimately it's not the sort of film where you would expect to see famous faces. It's a middle of the road film and everything sort of fits with this.

      The technology involved is quite good - I can see the awkwardness of having a robot performing functions like a human boy would, and the special effects team have worked this quite well in terms of making it seem realistic. They don't try to overdo it at any point, which is good, and the main focus remains on the story rather than the effects. If you're after something entertaining that'll pass the time with a couple of laughs and not taking itself too seriously, yet all the while delivering some morals in a gentle fashion, this is certainly worth a shout.

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    • More +
      29.12.2014 17:29
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      • "Lovely mix of masculine and gentle fragrances"

      Disadvantages

      • "Screw top rather than plunger"

      Slightly spicy scented reassuring and ideally lingering body wash

      I love Molton Brown products, but I usually don't have to buy them as I get them bought for me, at Christmas and on my birthday. We have a good range of their products at home, and my favourite is probably the Black Peppercorn body wash. The recharge comes a close second and at times I opt for it rather than this, but they're both in favour with me throughout the year.

      I find that some products are better at different times of the year, the refreshing ones in Summer and the cuddly and warmer feeling ones in the Winter, for example. Black Peppercorn works for me all year round, and gives me a good confidence level after coming out of the shower. Its smooth gloopy gel comes out of the bottle nice and easily, although it depends which bottle size you get as to whether you'll find it easy to dispense or not. I must admit, there are plenty of brands that get their dispensers spot on, and Molton Brown does fall down on this, especially with the bigger bottles, which operate solely on a screw top lid and you have to pour some of the liquid out. It's very similar to the Bayliss & Harding bottles (I'm guessing the latter has designed theirs with MB in mind), but the difference is that Molton Brown products come out of the bottles nice and easily, whereas some others don't. It would certainly be easier with a plunger on top, but other than that I have no gripes.

      In terms of the product itself, it is great for my skin, as it leaves it refreshed and vitalised, rather than drying out quickly afterwards. I still have to use moisturiser on a regular basis because of my dry skin, but this product does make it less of an issue. The scent is pleasant before you lather it up and mix it with water, and when that combination happens, the friction of rubbing it into a lather on your hands brings out all the scents, from the reassuringly masculine black peppercorn, to the gentle and more effeminate coriander oil and basil oil that bring out some fresh herbal scents.

      And the smell lingers nicely when you get out of the shower as well. I like scents that overload your senses in a reassuring way when you're washing but aren't overpowering once you've finished, and this one certainly ticks the box. I find that a few hours later, I can still get a faint whiff of the Black Peppercorn every now and then, as long as I choose my deodorant and aftershave wisely so as to not clash with this.

      It's a great product, the only falling down being its screw top rather than a plunger. The antioxidants certainly help my skin, and the scent lingers just how I like it to. Lovely product. Highly recommended.

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    • More +
      06.12.2014 09:57
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      Effective shaving foam - useful for men and women alike!

      I'm never sure why some products specify they're for women rather than men, or vice versa. I'm sure it's relevant in some cases, but for a long time, I've used specific women's products, and my wife has used some of my men specific products. Liz Earle products fall into this category quite a lot in my household, but the most commonly 'shared' product is shaving foam.



      Some foams are lovely and wonderful, foaming up and opening the pores to make hair removal easy, while others barely do anything more than a bit of soap would. This particular product, Tesco Sensitive Shaving Gel (for women!) does wonders with my sensitive skin most of the time, and is pretty effective in part for some sort of after shaving moisturiser.



      Standard can with a lid that pops off and on pretty easily. Always shake it before using, otherwise the foam comes out as a dribbly non-mixed blue goo. Once shaken, the nozzle is pretty easy to use, and squirts out this blue gel into your hands. A small amount is enough really, depending on what you use it for, and bear in mind I'm talking about shaving my face here. Rub the gel between your hands gently and it lathers up into a whiter gloopy foam with a blue tint - I'm not sure what the active ingredient that causes this is, but it tends to be commonplace in these sorts of products now.



      Applying it to your face is easy enough - I always make sure to shave after showering as my pores will still be open and hair removal is easier and more effective. Once this foam has been applied, your razor then does the rest. I find this foam does a good job is preparing the hair for shaving, and after all that is what it is designed for, so I'm happy.



      In terms of aftercare, I do feel that this is ideal. My skin, so often sensitive and dry, is smooth for quite a while after shaving and smells quite refreshing as well. There isn't much of an aroma, which is fine, as my aftershave accounts for this. However, if I didn't use this then the pleasant and faint aroma would be enough. The moisturising element is a nice addition as you wouldn't necessarily expect this from such as product.



      This is a decent product and very affordable. It occasionally makes me question the more expensive brands, although on the rare occasions when I use these (round a friend's house, etc) there is often a slight difference but not enough to warrant us changing brand. Incidentally, my wife and I both use this product and she is equally as happy with it. It's more affordable than other products and lasts quite while. Recommended.

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    • Last Vegas (DVD) / DVD / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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      02.12.2014 17:18
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      • "Old skool comedy"

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      • "Nothing special"

      Entertaining geriatric version of The Hangover - worth a watch

      Take this as it is = a chance for 4 ageing actors to show that they still have it when it comes to delivering on screen. They pretty much pull it off too, with a healthy dose of comedy coupled with an ease of being on screen that can only come with experience.

      The film starts off gently, with an intro of 4 friends as kids, before fast forwarding 58 years to see 3 of them past life's best, coming together once more to celebrate the 4th bachelor party in Vegas before he gets married to a woman half his age, the butt of many jokes about how young she is compared to him. The four stalwarts of the screen (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) actually work very well together, sparking off each other on screen and playing Vegas to its full.

      Recently, they've been on screen less and less. I've seen a few things with De Niro, and the occasional Freeman cameo, but the other two not so much, and it was a reminder of how suave Douglas is and just how funny Kline is in a natural way. Many have slated this film, saying it's more about 4 desperate old actors needing a bit of kick start in the twilight of their careers, but as long as you look at this as a bit of fun then youre unlikely to be disappointed.

      Each character has something to offer. The basic premise is the bachelor party, with Douglas' successful businessman and De Niro's bathrobe wearing recluse not speaking, Morgan's stroke-endangered grandfather sneaking out to Vegas from the watchful eye of his son, and Kline's hip and knee replacement wise cracker with a weekend 'pass' from his wife, along with a card, condom and Viagra. A recipe for comedy, if not disaster. Extra bits such as them being mistaken for 4 heads of drugs cartels, a small cameo from 50 cent and the occasional reference to some of their older films are all welcome, and the plot ticks along nicely.

      There are no surprises, it's all a bit of fun, and the mild attempt at genuine romance is probably a bit out of place, but it's nice to see these four actors on screen. They were commonplace in my youth and I've enjoyed seeing them again. They clearly had fun filming this, the acting is decent even if they don't seem to be making much of an effort, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a sequel of some sort at some point. It's basically a geriatric and dumbed down version of The Hangover, and well worth a watch, even if it is nothing special.

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    • Olympus Has Fallen (DVD) / DVD / 8 Readings / 8 Ratings
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      19.11.2014 18:46
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      • "Fast paced entertaining action"

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      • "Visual slip ups"

      Gerard Butler tries to save America - actually quite entertaining!

      The gruff tones of Gerard Butler come full force with terrorists in this full on action thriller. Butler plays a former Secret Service agent who has been sidelined to a Treasury desk job after a disastrous event, but when the White House comes under attack and the President is taken hostage, he kickstarts back into attack mode and tries to save the day.

      If you're looking for improbable Hollywood action cheese with explosive special effects that Michael Bay would be proud of, look no further. Right from the start, cast members such as Butler, Dylan McDermott (on fire at the moment in film and TV) and Aaron Eckhart flex their thespian muscles as director Antoine Fuqua leaves us in no doubt that he is not fussed about taking things slowly and developing the characters, while other recognisable such as Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett only join in later on. It's all about the action.

      I suppose as long as you don't expect too much from this film, it's great. Writers Creighton Rothenberger (fantastic name) and Katrin Benedikt keep the pace moving with characterisation done through action and stilted conversation as we have a glimpse into yet another potential way in which the heart of the US can be attacked. It's actually quite clever, and well staged, with timings, double crosses, a bruised foreign ego and some harsh violence all combine to provide more than just an entertaining hour and 45 minutes of virtually non stop action.

      It's easy to compare this to White House Down, with an extremely similar plot and starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum (cheesy brawn yet again), but I felt this was the more superior of the two in terms of entertainment. Despite the unlikely bravado and improbably situations, there is a certain element of this film that takes itself incredibly seriously without overdoing it.

      One way in which this is achieved is by heightening the level of violence shown towards some of the hostages and the sheer scale of what would happen should the terrorists' plan succeed. At times, it seems a bit mindless and over the top, but the majority is well choreographed and entertaining.

      They slip up with some visuals though. The replica building used is clearly not the White House. The biggest give away is that the front lawn is not much bigger than my front room, or so it seems. There is also a scene where part of the building is completely destroyed yet in later shots it appears whole and intact. Shots are fired at angles and walls with the resulting deaths only possible through an incredibly unlikely angle of ricochets or bending bullets, neither of which are the case.

      Some sillier moments with the security forces don't help and are a bit of a shame, but as long as you expect entertainment and not Oscar worthiness, it does more than just pass the time. Enjoyed this one.

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    • More +
      15.11.2014 09:35
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      • "Easy to use"
      • "Pleasant and lingering"

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      • "Nothing really"

      Effective and quality affordable original spray from Beckham's fragrance range

      When David Beckham branched into fashion and fragrance, no one really batted a cynical eyelid. An astute businessman and fashion icon himself, it was only a matter of time really. I was given a Beckham set for Christmas last year, and have used some of his products as a result.

      The Instinct fragrance is Beckham's first, and doesn't disappoint. The packaging is rather simple, with a black box and some simple silver embossing. Less is more, I guess. The box opens much like any other fragrance box, so nothing special or surprising there. The bottle inside is a small and dumpy little bottle, which I quite like. The taller and thinner it is, the more chance I've got of knocking it over or breaking it in transit. It has a rather large lid on top of a slightly curved bottle, the lid housing an effective spray that is very easy to use and doesn't drip. This to me is a fundamental part of an effective spray, one that doesn't drip. Too many are poorly designed and after a period of use the spray fails on you a bit, getting worn away and becoming more of a nuisance than a simple morning spray.

      It's designed for daytime use rather than going out at night. It makes sense, really, as it has a rather gentle fragrance to it. Officially, it's grapefruit zest, bergamot and cardamom, although there are plenty more flavours in there to a lesser extent, such as sandalwood and star anise, of all things (I haven't noticed any aniseed flavouring which is just as well as I'm not a fan). The resultant effect is a rather pleasant and gentle fragrance that does actually last a lot longer than most. Throughout the day, particular movements might trigger the residual fragrances on my skin, and I'll catch a gentle whiff of the scent. I wouldn't say it's as recognisable as something like Joop Homme or Game, but they have much stronger, masculine out at night scents which are designed to be noticed and associated with particular age groups, for example. This Beckham fragrance can be used by all ages, and I would say is ideal for work, personally.

      They market it as a strong fragrance for the man looking to stand out, and the subtlety of the fragrance along with its durability is probably what does this. I found that even driving home at the end of the day, the scent was still there in its gentle guise, and this is what impressed me the most, I guess. So many fragrances rely on power at source in order to remain as a scent later in the day, which is where their secondary scents come through and potentially aren't quite the same quality. Beckham's original scent is ideal for durability with a mature approach. Retailing at £15 for a 30ml bottle, you can often get it for less, but it's still a price worth paying. Quality product.

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      14.11.2014 21:05
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      Advantages

      • "Scent is gorgeous"
      • "Oh so lovely when using it"

      Disadvantages

      • "Makes my skin itch"

      Gorgeous smelling bath foam that sadly makes my skin itch

      I should really learn, I guess, from past experiences with Original Source products, that there's something in them that just doesn't agree with my skin. The thing is, they feel and smell lush and usually foam and lather quite nicely as well, whether we're talking about bath foam, shower gel or any of their other products.

      This particular one is one that we have had in the house for a while, and my wife usually uses it. It does have a bit of a feminine scent to it, and certainly suits her more than me when emerging from a steamy bathroom having used. However, if that's all there is, the floral nature is not that much of a deterrent to me. You don't need to use that much for it to foam up, and the fumes permeate nicely throughout the house if the door's open. I also found that they linger for quite a while afterwards, and they're not overpowering whether you're in the room or elsewhere in the house.

      Getting in, the feeling on my skin is usually nice to start with, and indeed throughout the bath I felt nothing but relaxation. After a bath or a shower, I usually need to use a moisturiser on my face and some sort of cream on my arms and legs to stop them itching, and after bathing in this, I did notice that my face was drying rather quickly and so I needed to apply a bit more moisturiser than usual.

      A couple of hours later though, I was itching quite a bit, and even though I applied more cream, I still had itchiness and it was annoying. This reaction happens to my skin every time I use Original Source products, and I should learn - the lure of the soothing nature on my skin when I use it, and the scents and general way their products are put together though is just too tempting and I regret it only later when itching like crazy!

      The packaging is pretty good. You could easily put a portion of their sales down to visual marketing and clever product packaging, with an easy to open and hold bottle coming as no surprise given that most of their products are equally as easy and convenient to use.

      My natural conclusion would be to say that I can't medically recommend this from a personal point of view due to how badly it makes me itch and how dry and flaky it makes my skin, but from a scent point of view throughout, and a soothing point of view whilst using the product, it's lovely. If you don't have the sort of skin I do, get this stuff. It's lovely.

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      10.11.2014 21:54
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      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Has durability"
      • "Smells pleasant"

      Disadvantages

      • "96 hours not tested - I wash too regularly for that!"
      • "A bit pricey"

      Effective and pleasant lasting deodorant

      I've been on the hunt for a decent roll-on deodorant for a while, and so far I've only managed to find one or two that do the job I need them to. The best for me is by far Forever Living's roll-on, although I've been experimenting and comparing prices as well.

      L'Oreal has a quality label attached to it and has done for a while now. We have the occasional product from them, although it tends to be the wife's beauty products rather than my grooming stuff. This particular deodorant piqued my interest as it has this 96 hour protection tag coming with it. I wondered whether you'd have to lie still for 96 hours in order for the effects to last that long.

      It turns out that the 96 hours promise relates to the anti-odour properties that the product professes to have. When you first see the 'stick', it's easy to hold and easy to take the lid off. It also goes back on okay, which is vital in ensuring that the stick doesn't dry out when it's not being used. Rolling it on the first time, as the liquid contents make their way round the rollerball, a masculine and sublte fragrance comes off, something unlike any other product I've tried. I kind of liked it.

      Trying it on a work day is the best test for me - it's the typical example I need to test it with. By the end of the day I hadn't experienced any issues with sweat or odour, but this doesn't make it a unique product, as it's the 96 hour part of it that interests me. Waking up the next morning, I could still smell it to a certain extent, although i do sweat a bit in my sleep and this had taken a lot of the impact away. The problem I suppose is that I wash every day, and so my underarms get a clean slate every day as well, rendering the roll-on less effective.

      Strangely though, after a few days of using this, I found that the deodorant gets even more effective and the subtle smell tends to last longer through the night. It's a pleasant enough smell and I suppose it does make me feel a bit better knowing that it keeps odours away and so it's something that I wouldn't be averse to using again. Easy to use and has a long lasting impact. I can't give it the 96 hour seal of approval as I don't leave it that long to wash and therefore can't say whether or not it lasted that long...

      The price can be a little steep - I've seen it at £4 and over for the roll-on, although it is a decent quality product from a well know quality brand so this is no huge surprise. It doesn't top my list but it's certainly within a list of similar products I'd recommend.

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    • More +
      10.09.2014 19:25
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      Advantages

      • "The Gaiman magic of fantasy and memory"

      Disadvantages

      • "Too short; I wanted more!"

      Fantastic Gaiman tells a tale of reminiscence and lost memories

      I've often wondered what's at the heart of Neil Gaiman's consciousness, and how he formulates his ideas to ensure a captivating piece of literature. I think that with 'Ocean at the End of the Lane' I get closer to that understanding, as the author takes us on an exploratory adventure; a fantasy rich tale that uses quaint and innocent surroundings and external characters that hide the sinister and deep reality that lies beneath. As ever, you'll be lured in and only realise it has happened when you surprise yourself in turning the last page, glancing up and realising it got dark.

      Our 40- or 50-something narrator comes away from a close family funeral near the place he once called home, and takes a long and slow walk down a path that stirs some distant memory; surroundings are described as the narrator struggles to remember, and then a chance encounter and some time to reflect brings everything back in floods. We read a tale of a 7 year old boy and his relationship with his parents; of his neighbour Lettie, who has been 11 years old for a very long time; of a duckpond that is apparently an ocean; and of villainous and haunting other-worldly characters who are clearly not real yet seem so possible.

      To say this has horror elements wouldn't be incorrect, and indeed the only shivering moments come with Gaiman's fantastic descriptive abilities. It's his first book for adults for a while, and to me it seems to have haunting elements that remind me of his non-literary project: the game 'Wayward Manor', with its quirky and sinister visuals and characters. Indeed, the characters in Ocean are largely innocent and normal, such as our nameless narrator's parents and sister, the lodger and the nurse. It's when Gaiman's subconscious fantasy-fan literary skills come to the fore that some of these characters take a more sinister and page-turning form that you really find it hard to put the book down; the images forming in your head become as scary as your own impression of fantasy and mild horror will allow you.

      Adults are the target here. Gaiman writes from an adult perspective and gives a tale of reminiscence and recapturing your memory, exploring some mythical tales and creatures in obscure and individual ways and ensuring that the quizzical questions we often ask ourselves about our own memories, both fading and firm, are at least attempted if not completely answered. I found myself experiencing satisfaction and thinking that some of his answers are indeed ones I'd be happy to adopt with some of my inexplicably disappearing memories. Can you remember most of what happened when you were 7? Don't answer that...

      Ocean at the End of the Lane is a tale of memory and of reminiscence. It allows you to enjoy it as a fantasy tale, and allows you to complete it quickly. At easily under 300 pages, it doesn't last though, and this is my only criticism: I wanted more...

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