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samgriff

samgriff
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Member since: 12.10.2005

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    • The Great Gatsby (2012) (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 24 Ratings
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      11.02.2014 23:39
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      A good and interesting film, worth a watch

      As most of my family know, and quite a few members of dooyoo probably know by now, I'm a huge film buff. I haven't written a film review in quite a few years so please be gentle. I have always heard of The Great Gatsby book before and have still, even after the film, not read the book. However I believe I might after viewing Baz Lurhmann's newest creation. As a huge fan of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet, I bought the DVD and watched it, expecting excellence. Did I receive it, we'll just read on and find out.

      The Great Gatsby is a skilfully directed film which takes the guise of many genres, comedy, thriller, intrigue and romance. Baz Luhrmann takes us deep into the fun, fantastical and sometimes downright depressing time of 1920s America. The film begins with a young, dishevelled man, that most will know as the 2002 Spiderman, Tobey Maguire. He begins to tell his tale of a time in his life that was the greatest time and the worst time. Within this story he gets back in touch with his delightful cousin Daisy, has some antics with his old friend Tom and meets the infamous Jay Gatsby. I can't really delve much into the plot as it could be quite easily ruined. What I will say is that we are treated to a journey made by these characters that could be easily done by anyone in the world. We see parties galore, a few romances, a couple of punch ups and some lovely twists that made me go a bit red in the face.

      I have to say, the direction in this film is absolutely fabulous. Baz Luhrmann certainly knows how to create a visual treat for the mind. Everything about this film, from its sweeping camera shots to its fading out music and colours, scream out Baz. The party scenes in particular had me and my boyfriend smiling and laughing as everything just seemed so fantastical. He blends in music superbly in this film, I can imagine the soundtrack being a rather good buy. Considering this film is about 1920s America, we listen to music by Jay-Z and Florence and the Machine. Sound weird? Well, it is a little, but strangely enough, it suited the scenes and the overall feel of the film.

      How Leonardo DiCaprio hasn't won an Oscar by now, I'll never know. The man is just fantastic, he can go from being a kind, warm hearted host to a violent psycho within the space of a minute. His dialogues can get a bit tedious as his favourite saying annoyed me by the end. Tobey Maguire has made his career by playing the weedy, nervous guy and here he goes again. He plays it well and in a couple of scenes shows what he is truly capable of as an actor, anger and threats. However I feel as if he needed to show a bit more in this role. Carey Mulligan who plays the leading lady, Daisy, portrays the 'poor' let down wife rather brilliantly. She seems sweet, lovely and the woman you'd like to rescue, however there is another side... Mulligan plays this role well, I won't give anything away but her performance in the end did make me appreciate her acting skills a little more. Joel Edgerton plays Daisy's husband, which he does in a way which makes you feel slightly sorry for him but at the same time you want to give him a good whack.

      The script is good, however without reading the original book material I can't comment on how close they stayed to the story. The lines flowed well, the material was believable and apart from a few annoying phrases by Leo, the dialogue was used purposefully. I thought the twists and turns and subtle manipulation by certain characters in the end showed just how confidence and speech can affect a person's behaviour and choice.

      My boyfriend and I sat in pure rapture during the first half of the film, the cinematography, dialogue and pacing of the film kept us happy. I do have to say that the second half of the film was a little bit slow paced and could have done with a little more jazz that the first half had. Not that it didn't keep my interest, but I did find myself looking at the clock once or twice. Coming in at over 2 hours long, it did feel as if it could have had half an hour chopped off somewhere.

      Overall I have to say that I did enjoy this film and thought the acting, direction and music of the film was wonderful. I think the second half could have done with a slight pacing difference but I thought the ending was suitably wrapped up.

      The Cast
      Tobey Maguire Nick Carraway
      Leonardo DiCaprio Jay Gatsby
      Carey Mulligan Daisy Buchanan
      Joel Edgerton Tom Buchanan

      Special Features
      The normal DVD content is pretty boring, just some deleted scenes.
      The Blu-ray version is a little more interesting:"Within and Without" with Tobey Maguire
      The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby
      The Jazz Age
      Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the '20s
      Fitzgerald's Visual Poetry
      Gatsby Revealed - Gatsby's Party
      Gatsby Revealed - The Plaza
      Gatsby Revealed - Pool Scene
      Deleted Scenes
      1926 The Great Gatsby Trailer
      The film is rated 12 I think because of scenes of violence and I would say purely because of the mature themes set in this film, I would say the certification is correct.
      Running time: 142 minutes!

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        10.02.2014 22:29
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        Excellent for everyone

        I never thought that by being a teacher I would need to print out so many documents, oh how little did I know. After moving into a new house I thought I better get a new printer and after numerous comparisons and hours of searching by my boyfriend we finally settled on the HP Photo smart 7520 and I have never been happier.

        Looks
        The printer isn't the smallest piece of equipment and you would struggle to fit it into a small cupboard or under your desk. Its roughly 50cm long, 30cm deep and 30cm high. Not too bad considering all the features it has to offer. We ended up buying the nice, sleek black model which ended up looking great in the study. A sturdy paper holder makes way for the lid to lift off for the copying slate. There is a small LED touch interface screen which can be moved slightly to allow for bigger books to copy, but we'll get to that later. Overall it looks smart and does the job its required.

        Features
        The all-in-one printer comprises, printer, scanner and copier. I have to say the speed to which it prints out documents is better than most printers I've seen. The best part about this little guy is the touch pad which is the simplest thing in the world to use. As a bit of a technophobe I saw this panicking but once I looked, it is easy. A home button, a copy button and a scan button all lead to various menus which are very self explanatory that even my mum could understand how to use it. It allows you to preview scanned and copied papers which I find useful if I haven't got the right part of the text lined up. One of the nice little features about this is that by pressing one button you can see your ink levels. This may be quite common in printers now but my old one didn't which is why I got quite excited as now I know when I have to get a new cartridge.

        Quality
        Nothing much I can say about this, I have had no smears or faults so far with any papers produced, printing or copying wise. Considering I have printed out hundreds, if not thousands of papers by now, the quality is still as good as anything.

        Price
        I got my printer for £120 from Currys which seems to be the price that every retailer is shipping it for. Cartridges are as usual quite expensive, running at about £7 each.
        Overall I love my little printer and it does the job perfectly. Ease of use, looks wise and quality of printing, I would recommend this to everyone.

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      • Apple iPod Earphones / Headphones / 21 Readings / 21 Ratings
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        10.02.2014 12:14
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        You might need an upgrade

        I had my first experience with Apple earphones years and years ago and since then have found that experience not much different to my present experience.

        Aesthetics
        The earphones look as normal and ordinary as you would expect earphones to come. They have a rounded white ear bud piece that has a nice little L or R on the side for everyone to see where to put them. The long, white wire that extends from the earphones looks very mundane. To put it in very simple words the earphones look as ordinary and simple as you would expect earphones to look. No bold colours or different between ear buds, they do look as boring as they sound.

        Fitting
        The ear phones, no matter how boring or mundane they look, they do get the job done. They fit nicely into each ear with no wriggling or uncomfortable jutting out. The ease of which to put them in can't be complained about. They are the perfect ear phones for lying down on your bed while listening to some tunes. My only issue with these ear phones is if you like listening to music while exercising. I have found that these earphones do tend to fall out when either running or on the cross trainer. This has happened so much I have ended up buying other earphones that stay in better.

        Sound
        The sound that comes from the earphones, their actual job, I have to say is rather average at best. Yes it does the job, yes you can hear the music and the singing however the best word to describe the experience is 'tinny'. The sound quality is very underwhelming, but considering they are the standard earphones Apple produces with every product, we can't really expect that much.

        Price
        The earphones do come with every IPod/IPhone that is shipped however for a replacement pair you would need to pay around £25 on the official Apple website. However on amazon you can get a cheap pair for anything around £3.50-£5.

        Overall
        These earphones are average at best and only good if you listen to music infrequently. Anyone who enjoys listening to a good quality sound or works out may need to purchase a higher standard set.

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      • HP Deskjet 1000 / Inkjet Printer / 28 Readings / 26 Ratings
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        20.08.2012 10:50
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        A fairly good printer for most people.

        After spending three years with a fancy printer/scanner/Wi-Fi/transformer/alien gadget I thought I would only need a standard, run of the mill printer. Was I right? Well in a few ways, yes.

        The Hewlett Packard 1000 series printer is a perfectly good and easy piece of technology that even my mom with a techno-fear can use, with some help sometimes. The printer itself is rather compact and can sit nicely under my desk not taking much room. For students everywhere and those that rarely need a printer, this piece is certainly one for those who don't want too much room taken up. The printer itself has a subtle two tone grey colour which is pleasant enough without having all the bells and flashing lights that many fancy printers have these days. The paper tray folds down onto the printer which minimises space when not used. In fact all the parts can fold down which means when it isn't in use, the space used is quite low, at 40cm in length there's not much to complain about.

        As for the installation process, I must say it was one of the most painless processes I've come across. Whack in two leads to pc base and power supply. Throw in a cd, follow the simple instructions and hey presto, a printer ready to use. Now for the printing, it's fairly fast, a page can print out at roughly five to eight seconds depending on the amount of ink needed. I haven't had any chance really to complain about the quality of the pages being printed.

        Now for the negatives of the 1000 series. If you're in a jam to print something fast or a lot of pages, be prepared to be in a jam. One of the most infuriating parts about this printer is the constant warning of 'There is no paper in the printer, please reload and press the power button'. There is paper in there, just print! This does happen pretty much every time I need to print out a few pages of something, you need to make sure the paper is fully inserted and in the correct position. Again, this can get fairly irritating for someone who needs to print out more than two pages.

        Overall the HP 1000 series is a good printer and has many advantages. For one, the price, at £29.99 (found at a few places) you can get a printer which does the job. For students who need for the space issues and for people like me who don't print that much, it's a perfectly good piece of equipment. However if you do need to print quite a lot or you don't have the patience to cope with the error every time you print, go for something a little more reliable.

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        • Wii Fit (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 97 Readings / 78 Ratings
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          01.07.2008 19:37
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          A great game for everyone

          After seeing my sister's Wii and Wii Fit I decided that as a console loving girl such as myself I really should treat myself to one. So exactly one week ago today I ordered a Wii and Wii fit from Game station and on Thursday a package came to my house with my name on and a bran spanking new console for me. So now my Wii sits perfectly besides my PS3 and has taken up a couple of hours away from that machine.

          First off getting the Wii Fit is a hard task at the present as no retailer seems to have it in stock. Indeed I asked about a million Game employees when it would be in stock and no-one had any idea. My advice for anyone wanting to get this game is to head to a website called www.wii-consoles.co.uk as this checks websites for stock availability and it is how I got mine.

          What's in the box?
          Upon first opening the box which is quite large and has a nice picture of the Wii fit on the front, you come across a bit a packaging and inside is a white board approximately half a metre long. It doesn't look at all special and you wouldn't think it could do much, but oh how you would be wrong! This white board is actually the essence of the Wii Fit and is called a balance board. Along with this you get a manual which I haven't read, some batteries which make it work and the Wii Fit disc which you pop into your Wii console. The balance board works by the sensors within it that can communicate with the sensor bar from the console.

          What's it all about, Wii Fit!?
          Well the first impression of the Wii Fit is: whoopee! No more gym and hard work on the treadmill, unfortunately this just isn't true. The Wii fit is good but is in no way shape or form an excuse not to have proper exercise. However what the Wii fit can do is give a fun and friendly way of doing some light exercises that can get you into the mood of doing some proper work. Once you pop the game into the Wii console it is incredibly easy to get started, all you have to do is create a save data which basically means choosing a Wii Mii to represent yourself within the game. To power up the balance board is simple, insert some batteries which are provided and the game will tell you when to come off and step onto the balance board, easy as anything! Also it is recommended to play this game bare foot as wearing socks can make you slip and would be a bit dangerous.

          Body Test
          The body test on the Wii Fit is one of the first things that you should do to start off the game and I try and do this every day even if I don't do any training. It is incredibly easy to use the balance board, basically just step up onto it and away you go. It doesn't feel weird at all, quite natural actual although when you are doing some of the exercises it feels strange that you aren't really moving much but it can respond to even the slightest of movements. Sorry I'm getting off topic, back to the body test! So once you have chosen your Mii you input your details such as your height and your date of birth. Then it asks you to relax your shoulders and stand on the balance board. A very high voice then says measuring and you Centre of Gravity has been taken. All this states is your posture and if you lean a bit more on one side of your body than the other. After doing this is comes up with your BMI (body mass index) and your weight. This is an effective tool in its own if anyone just wants to measure themselves now and again.

          The next part of the body test is to determine your Wii Fit age which can be quite humiliating if you come out as years older than you truly are. There are quite a few tests which it can do now including standing perfectly still and walking paces. However the first time you do it is a test of your ability to shift your weight from one side of the body to the other. This is done by showing to bars of blue, one for left and the other for right. A block comes up on both bars which you need to move your weight in order to distribute the right amount of block on either side for a few seconds. I can't explain this properly as you really need to play it to understand it properly. However all this is fine and dandy but I'm sure you really want to know about the main part of the game which is the exercises! Well don't worry, here they come!
          Exercises
          The Wii Fit firsts asks you to choose your instructor, male or female. My advice is choosing the female as the male always shouts as me! The game comprises of four main exercises: yoga, muscle workouts, aerobic and balance. I will explain these more fully ahead. Once you have chosen which exercise you want to do the trainer first explains what they want you to do and then lets you try it; however there is an option just to skip that. What I also love about these exercises is that you can unlock different levels such as doing more reps and longer distances in different things.

          Yoga
          Yoga is a pretty fun way of playing with the Wii Fit and I enjoy it tremendously as I have always wanted to try Yoga. Basically there are about twenty different yoga poses which are all different and vary in how difficult they are. They can come in very basic forms such as breathing which demonstrates how long you should breathe in and out for and how it affects your posture. Then there are a few difficult ones such as King of the Dance which is quite fun to do except I keep falling over trying it! The one thing I can say about these is that they are actually relaxing and you really can feel parts of your body working while you are stretching. I love doing about twenty minutes of pure yoga as I do feel quite energised after it.

          Muscle Workouts
          These compliment the yoga workouts brilliantly as doing them you can truly feel your muscles stretching and working. After playing on these exercises for awhile you can start to feel a sweat coming on which is something I have never got from playing a console game before! They are quite similar to yoga in that they require you to use different parts of your body and complete reps however they are a little different as they require a little bit more energy and are therefore a bit more tiring. They come in the form of doing rowing squats which can help tighten your thighs, push ups which did get me a tired and lunges. There are again about twenty with different variance in toughness yet they are all fun to do.

          Aerobic
          These are fun and probably what I spend most of my time doing as they are just amusing and good for you. The hula hoop exercise is just brilliant as it is so fun to do and you look like such as idiot doing it but is actual good for you. It takes about a minute of swivelling your hips in big circle motions to complete this but I have to tell you, I felt the burn in this one! There is also the step game which is on the same path as the dancing mat but not quite so energetic. There is also a simple jogging game which has you off the balance board and simply jogging on the spot for a few minutes. However this one gets a little harder when you unlock the island jog which takes awhile and has you quite breathless. These exercises are probably the most important of the game in terms of getting fitter as they focus on getting your heart rate up and therefore giving you a bit of a workout.

          Balance
          These games are fun to partake in also as you really do look a bit of an idiot doing them however they are hilarious to do! My favourite is doing the football where you have to move your body in order to hit the balls coming at you on the screen. It sounds easy to do but when they start coming fast with different items that you have to miss it can become a little difficult. There is a ski-salom one where you have to turn the balance board on its side and play that way. The simplest exercise in this group is one where you simply have to sit on the balance board and stare at the screen. It's meant to be some form of posture helper and balance co-ordinator.

          All of these exercises are extremely fun to do and can certainly make you laugh while doing them. I was once doing the hula hoop one at my sisters when a man walked past the window and looked at me quite quizzically, I don't think he'd heard of the Wii fit before! Some exercises are not really helping with fitness but are just fun to do. The trainer that you pick to do the yoga and muscle workouts are quite funny as they can encourage you to do better which I love. The woman says I have a perfect posture and you know what, I think I believe her!

          The amount of time you spend on these exercises is monitored by the use of a Fit piggy which keeps a tab on how many minutes you spend on it each day. I love it when you spend a total time of thirty minutes and the Fit piggy does a little dance to celebrate, hilarious! I also like that you can set a goal on this game such as to lose 5 pounds and give yourself a deadline for it. When you complete the body test every day it keeps a record so that you can view a graph of your efforts. I also like that it keeps a record of how long you have spent on the different forms of exercise. The other useful aspect of this is that if you don't want anyone to know your weight or progress you can password set your account. So anyone who is a little nervous or embarrassed about their weight doesn't have to be when playing this game.

          Price and availability
          The Wii Fit comes with a price tag of £69.99 which is its RRP. However some stores are selling it as bundles with the Wii console and sometimes on its own but at a higher price. This is most definitely because of its stock shortages all over the world. If you are able to get one that you will be one of the lucky ones. I will mention again the website www.wii-consoles.co.uk as this is a very effective tool in finding Wii Fits

          Overall Opinion
          Well if you haven't guessed, I am a true fan of the Wii Fit and think it is one of the most innovative games to come out for quite a few years. To actually get a game people can use and not feel so guilty about it just amazing. The price is completely fair for the product that you receive and the amount of fun and time you can spend on this game. The only negative of this is that I can see some people feeling this is a replacement for real exercise which is a big mistake. Please don't just play on this, actually go for a walk or play some tennis! However for just some fun and a way of getting a bit of exercise it is amazing and completely worth buying. Hold on just thought of another negative of this, I promise this review will be over soon! I am quite a small person and consider myself quite slender, however the Wii Fit did actually criticise me last night for putting on one pound. I'm fine with this a just laughed at it but I can truly imagine some people with eating disorders getting completely obsessed and upset by this. So please don't let anyone play on this that is a bit sensitive about their weight.

          Overall just buy this game if you have the Wii, or even buy the console because of this game which is pretty much why I did. The price, fun value and exercise you can get for this game makes it one of the best and well loved console and game in the UK and by me! The best part of this game is that it is truly a game for anyone. Kids, parents, moody teens will all love this game and want to play on it. The only people that can't play on the Wii Fit are those over 23 stone as that is the balance board's weight limit!
          Please tell me if I have forgotten any information which is important or if there is any general information you would like to know. x

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            26.06.2008 21:52
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            A fun book but very flawed

            After I had read Matthew Reilly's first novel 'Contest' and enjoyed It, I decided to buy some of his other books which Included Scarecrow. The first thing that I should say about this book is that if you are going to take it seriously, just don't read it. Its fiction and that Is precisely what the author wanted readers to get out of this book, its pure fantasy and if you just go along with it you'll enjoy the ride.

            Plot
            So what is this novel about? Well Scarecrow rejoins the adventures of Captain Shane SchofIeld who was in a couple of his other books. It starts out with SchofIeld (call sign: Scarecrow) on a mission In Siberia which goes terribly wrong and he realises quite a lot of people would be happy to see him dead. He then goes on a mission to find out who and why people want him dead. The story revolves around SchofIeld and a bunch of characters who find out that there is a large bounty hunt going on with fifteen names on a list, all who have to be dead by noon the following day. So begins a frantic chase that takes them all around the world trying to stop people from dying, and a larger plan from being undertaken.

            My Opinions
            The story does sound fun and that is truly what this book is about, It Isn't serious and it wasn't written to win any prizes. All It Is, which it succeeds at, is taking the reader on a bit of an adventure where people get shot at millions of times and don't die. So yes It Is very unbelievable as many of the things they do in this book have you shaking your head thinking no way that could be done. But It Is still fun reading It, Imagining If someone could do the amazing things that they do in this book. In that respect I think that this is a brilliant story and Reilly Is a fantastic writer as he truly does bring out the reader's Imagination.
            The Idea of a bounty hunt and a mystery surrounding it and its main reasons is an excellent concept and kept me entertained for a few hours. I liked how the novel had times where it was complete action and had cars racing along with people shooting everywhere, helicopters blasting missiles on the road. The mystery surrounding the bounty hunt and the reasons behind it are slowly ravelled together throughout the book which added to the suspense and tension of the whole book.


            The writing of this book seems to have come along a lot since first reading Contest. HIs grammar and way of constructing sentences seems a lot more mature and easier to read. The pace of this book compared to his others is off the chart! Every chapter is filled with literally thousands of bullets being fired, cars being destroyed and helicopters flying around. Not for one minute did I get bored reading this book as I simply found it too hard to put down. The negatives with his writing are again that you can tell that he could never write a book that maybe had a little substance to it. He still writes as If his main audience is thirteen year old boys and not adults. The reason for this being the over use of swearing and complete paragraphs dedicated to the description of guns and their mechanisms. Also what really bugs me about his writing is that the speech of characters never seems to flow correctly. It always seems to be written as If the characters are taking an English elocution exam which I know is strange as they are swearing lots of the time. The conversations they have never seem real, it's like you know you are reading a book and therefore can never really get a proper feel for it.

            The characters in this are pretty cool, SchofIeld being the hero therefore being Indestructible. I can't count how many times in the book that he should have died yet something always happens to save him at the last possible moment. I know its fiction and you should expect this but sometimes it just gets repetitive and annoying. The other characters are quite funny especially Mother who reminds me of a type of Ellen Ripley character only more beefed up. It was quite funny to read this book as you could tell that Reilly was going for some kind of character development within the book but it never truly goes right. There is a particular scene when everything was very emotional and the characters were having a heart to heart but after two pages they went back to normal, guns blazing and all. Therefore this so called development just felt forced and a little pathetic.

            The length of the book is probably one of my main niggles about this novel. Scarecrow is just over 500 pages and for a good action novel this may be acceptable. However an action novel of this quality seemed to lag in the middle and I think a good 100 pages off this would have been acceptable. I wasn't necessarily bored and I did enjoy the book however having It this long, there are so many times that you can go through the exact same fight just In a different setting. SchofIeld comes in, guns fire, exits cut off, guns fire again, he finds tiny miraculous way of getting out, and guns fire and they escape only for another battle to occur a chapter later.

            Overall I did enjoy this book plainly for the fact that I thought it was a fun read and distracted me for awhile. It is completely unrealistic and you cannot read it thinking that these things could actually happen. Reilly's writing has improved since earlier books yet he still has quite a way to go before his work can truly be appreciated by adults who like a good action novel. The characters are fun but there isn't much development. A lot of this book feels forced and it is a bit lengthily for the quality of the writing. However If you ever fancy a dip Into a book which can get you away from reality a little and have some pure fantasy action, then Scarecrow Is an aright read, but only If you can get It cheap!

            General Information
            Length: 524 pages
            ISBN: 0330487590
            Price: You can get this off amazon.co.uk for £5.49
            P.S. Some grammar and spelling may be wrong in this as I had a little mishap with the checker on word!

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              23.06.2008 20:56
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              A great film to watch if you ignore some parts

              Anyone that has read a few of my previous reviews will know of my love of martial art films such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers. In the January sales I bought Curse of the Golden flower as my friend who loves the same movies as me recommended it to me highly. So I managed to get it for £3 and it has taken me until yesterday to actually watch the film. What I can say is that my friend was right and I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of betrayal and deceit in the time of the Chinese Tang dynasty.

              Plot
              Curse of the Golden Flower has a bit of a long winded plot and it would take me a while to really get over just how multi-layered and wonderfully written this film truly is. The annoying part is that I cannot describe too much of the film to you as it would most definitely spoil some of the twists in store. Ok I will finally get on to what the film is actually about, the film starts off in a beautiful Chinese Palace that is home to the royal family. We see hundreds of helpers and staff running about getting ready for a celebration, the return of Emperor Ping. We are introduced to Empress Phoenix who seems slightly unhinged and Prince Yu who seems quite young. The whole of this film is centred on the royal family including the Crown Prince Wan who has secrets he shares with the Empress and Prince Jai who returns from fighting a war. So basically the film is rather like a secret being unravelled as there are many twists and turns and plot developments, so you do have to pay attention as each member of the family has a secret they would die to protect.

              My Opinions
              Ok I know that I haven't given you the most informative description of the plot but it is for the simple reason that I really don't want to give anything away. This film is written wonderfully and really kept my interest as the plot and characters developed. However I do think the first twenty minutes are quite slow and confusing but once you get past this it is quite a riveting film and everything does get explained. The twists that occur in this film are amazing and I didn't guess them and wouldn't have in a million years. The characters all interact with each other differently to show how their personalities and plans for the film affect the other members of the family. Many will be wondering what the title of the film is in reference to and all I can say is that the flower the chrysanthemum plays a large role in the film and the overall meaning behind it. The story is just great and kept me entertained as I was dying to know what everyone had in store and would keep anyone else interested to.

              There isn't much I can say about this film's direction apart from that it is simply breathtaking and beautiful at the same time. It is very reminiscent of other films such as Flying Daggers as its use of colour is shown in literally every scene. The shots of the palace and surrounding areas are just magnificent as the colours are so vibrant and overwhelming you watch it with your mouth wide open. The palace is shown full of purples, blues, pinks, yellows, golds, greens and reds. There is not a dull scene in this film apart from one scene which was meant to signify betrayal and horror, so you can permit them for not using bright colours for that! The costumes worn by the actors in this film are out of this world, how much I would love to wear these outfits and not be snickered at! The gold robes and accessories that the royal family wear are incredible, especially the Empress's outfit which is simply breathtaking and makes Gong Li look like true royalty.

              All the main actors in this film portray their characters brilliantly and are so believable you really can start to feel hate and empathy for a couple of them. Gong Li is brilliant as always as the empress and conveys emotions of sadness and greatness with ease. I love this actress and try to see her in any film I can as I think she is one of the great Chinese actresses of this time. Jay Chou I really loved as Prince Jai and thought he looked so vulnerable throughout the entire film and then at the end truly shone as a warrior and looked unbeatable. Yun-Fat Chow kind of bugged me as the Emperor as he seemed to have the exact same expression on his face throughout the entire film. He didn't seem to change and in a certain scene when his character was meant to be sad, I thought he completely overacted it and just made it seem ridiculous. Ye Liu also bugged me as the Crown Prince but this might have just been because of his characters as I found him wimpish and annoying. However to me his acting ability was not consistent and at times his character seems complete different to what it did ten minutes before. All the extras and minor characters however were excellent and added to the overall mystery and twists of the film.

              As I have said before I did fin the first twenty minutes rather slow going and I will expand on this. The story starts off without any real explanation or introduction to any of the characters or the plot. The viewer is pretty much thrown into the film head first without any knowledge. I think I found it rather confusing and spent this time trying to figure out what was going on and who everybody was. After this though the film does run smoothly and all the bits and pieces of the film come together which then makes for enjoyable watching. The film runs for just under two hours yet it does go quickly and never lags in excitement.
              The fighting sequences are incredible and choreographed very well. Of course I don't think they are up to the standard of other martial arts films yet in the context of this film they suit it and blend well. I was amazed at the sight of how many extras they had in this film which was apparently included one thousand real soldiers so the movements of the extras in some scenes were incredible.

              Extra Features on DVD
              Definitely not enough extra features on this DVD. On it are the pretty common film documentary which lasts for twenty minutes and shows behind the scenes features of the actors, director and the sets. Pretty average really and does not hold much interest in watching and I don't recommend doing so either. There is also a small feature showing Gong Li and Yun-Fat Chow at a premiere, boring and only lasts a few minutes, definitely not worth watching. Last of all is a photo gallery, guess what that is? Again boring and wouldn't recommend looking at as it doesn't add anything to the features and is pretty boring.

              My Overall Opinion
              Overall I think this film is pretty good, yet it doesn't match up to Director Zhang Yimou's other films. This is definitely not a film for some people, obviously because of it being subtitled but because the story might be too drab for some. However I found it exciting to see the relationship between the characters and how it changes as the film continues. The themes in this film are quite interesting and touch upon important subjects such as oppression, secrets and the need to fight back. Some sub-plots I just found ridiculous such as the Crown Prince's relationship with a girl. I honestly couldn't care less but luckily it didn't distract from the rest of the film.
              There is not a lot of music in this film which is quite strange for director Yimou who usually uses pieces of music to convey emotions and intentions. However in this I thought it was pretty drab and used the same tone and piece a lot which didn't do much for me. At times it seemed as if different music was used for different characters, but again this wasn't properly established and to me seemed liked an added part the director wanted in final editing.
              However the plot I thought was solid and the twists and turns it had were believable in parts and blended well with the overall theme of the film. The acting was good but Gong Li overshadowed the rest as she was truly brilliant. The ending of this film was quite horrible but it was true and not glossed over in happiness like most of the films you get in this modern era.
              The extra features on the DVD was a bit of a letdown for me as I like to watch some after the film but they were boring and the things you get on every single DVD.
              So overall watch this film, buy it if you really like Chinese films, but rent it if you are just curious.

              General information
              Rating: 15 and for a reason. Some of the themes expressed in this film are inappropriate for children and will have some parents having some awkward conversations with their children. Also there are a few scenes which depict war and people being killed in some not very nice ways. So I recommend not letting young children watch it however it depends on how mature they are.
              Running time: 108 minutes
              Price: Curse of the Golden Flower can be picked up for £5.97 off amazon.co.uk. However you can probably pick it up at a high street store for about £5.

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              • Family Guy / TV Programme / 36 Readings / 32 Ratings
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                13.06.2008 11:51
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                A great programme with many laughs

                Every so often new series come out that you hear about but you don't watch until a few years later when you realise its genius. Well I did with Family Guy and it wasn't genius that brought me to this programme, it was its utter propensity to not care about what they were saying or who they were offending. It reminds me a lot of South Park in its ways yet it is an entirely different concept to anything I have seen before. I love it now and own all six seasons on DVD and plan on buying a couple of the stand alone movie versions.

                So what is Family Guy about I hear you say? Well this cartoon was first released in 1999; it got cancelled, then renewed, then cancelled and renewed again. Hmm interesting, I think all those politically correct people got wind of this series and went on their hunt again. Getting back to the plot anyway, Family Guy is about a not so normal family, the Griffins, in the fictional town of Quahog in Rhode Island. There is the dad Peter, mom Lois, daughter Meg, sons Stewie and Chris and last of all, the family dog Brian. Sounds a lot like the Simpsons doesn't it? Well it does on paper until you hear a bit of the twists this show has going on. Peter is an idiot obsessed with beer and sex, ok a lot like Homer. However Lois is also obsessed with sex, drugs and pretty much anything that is weird for a mom to do. Meg is butt ugly and also the butt of many ugly jokes, Chris is thick with an evil monkey in his cupboard. Stewie is a psycho baby with megalomaniac tendencies who wants to kill Lois and finally Brian, a seven year old dog who can talk and drinks a lot.

                So yeah the premise of this show is a little wacky and may be too odd for some people to appreciate. The other part about this comedy show is many of the jokes come in the form of flashes which have nothing to do with the plot of the episode. For instance Lois could say 'that was worse than the time I got high in home tech' and then we would see a flashback of her getting high in school. They can be weird and sometimes I think the flashes can go on a little too long with some jokes really getting old after a while. However many times I find them hilarious and also very wrong in many, many ways. Just to tell you how wrong this show can be the Griffins have neighbours. Quagmire who is a sex addict, Joe a paraplegic cop and Cleveland that many jokes are made about him being black. Some jokes do go way over the line of what is acceptable and really make you laugh, and then you're ashamed of laughing. One example of this is the prom night dumpster baby song when a bunch of babies start singing about being dumped by their mothers on prom night. A terrible, terrible and wicked song that makes you laughs.

                Plot
                So overall the plot of Family Guy is a little wacky at times, very inappropriate but like hell is it funny sometimes. Some of the one liner they have are comedy gold and I have been crying in laughter a few times from watching this series. My family always say they hate this programme but whenever they are sitting in the same room when I'm watching it they have a little giggle. The only negative I have about this programme is that sometimes the jokes do go on a bit long. However I love this programme and think the writers must have some weird minds to be able to write this stuff. The writing is not the most elegant I have seen from a series, but from this type of comedy you don't expect it.

                Characters
                The characters in this programme are written brilliantly and don't have the general American family vibe about them which I feel most programmes like the Simpsons do. All characters are completely nutty yet likeable which I think is the most tantamount part of any series. The weird thing is that the main character Peter I actually find the least entertaining of the show. I think that this might be because we have seen the lazy, idiot American characters so many times it's a bit boring now. However all the other characters I love, especially Stewie and Brian, I think that their moments together are some of the funniest of the show. The banter between the two is comedy at its best and has had me in hysterics quite a few times.

                Overall I think that this is one of the best series to come out of America for quite a while. Even though it is a cartoon it is most definitely not for kids as the humour in it is most entirely for adults. There are quite a lot of innuendos in this programme that would have kids asking their parents some very embarrassing questions. If you don't believe me watch a couple of episodes and you will see why, one of my favourite episodes is 'Prick up your Ear', which had a quite interesting way of having sex! If you are looking for a Television show that can have you in absolute hysterics, blubbering in laughter so much you have to pause the DVD, then this show might be for you. It is definitely not a show I think everyone will find amusing. You need to have a certain sense of humour, very black comedy, and quite a weird view on jokes. If you have that you probably will find it funny. I believe this series to be of a much better quality than other cartoon out there such as the Simpsons and South Park. So if you ever want to watch it, do but be warned of its craziness!

                General information
                Running time: Each episode lasts for approximately 22 minutes
                DVDs: Every season is out on DVD in the UK up to season 6. You can catch them quite cheap on play.com for £9.99 each. There are also a couple of standalone extended episodes such as Blue Harvest and Stewie Griffin: The untold story.
                Rating: 15, please for the love of your children do not let them watch this programme. Some episodes are suitable but most aren't and I wouldn't want to risk you having to answer some questions.
                Shown on TV: Family guy is often shown every night on BBC3 usually around 11 o'clock.


                Favourite quotes, don't ask why.
                Lois: Brian, he's knocking on the back door, shall I let him in?
                Stewie: What the deuce?
                Peter: It makes me so mad I want to punch Meg in the face!

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                  08.06.2008 20:46
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                  Great PS3 game, one of the best

                  As from my previous review you will know that a few months ago I bought a PS3 for myself. Well since then I only have a few games as I don't think there are that many out that are worth shelling over £50 for. Well this changed when my cousin recommended Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. As a fan of the game from earlier versions I decided that I should buy it and check it out. So I sat in my room, drink and crisps by the side of me I felt like a true gamer and put on the latest outing for Call of Duty. Well astonishment is the word that comes to mind with this game, I truly believe that Activision and Infinity Ward have made the best FPS (first person shooter) to date.

                  The previous games have focused on the second world war and were great in their own right but Modern Warfare has took it light-years ahead into, well, the modern age. The story takes place in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, mostly Afghanistan, where you a soldier led on different missions with different aims and objectives. The one main objective is killing as many enemies as possible and stay alive, which on some missions become quite difficult. That is pretty much all I can say about the story, there is no real in depth story with the character, I couldn't even tell who was the main guy I was playing all the way through. But it doesn't matter because what you get in this game is so much more which I will further explain in this review.

                  As I have said before this takes gaming into an entirely different realm of realism and superb game play. The weapons are more realistic and modern with light scopes and night vision goggles. The playing style is a lot more realistic with different guns actually feeling heavier and very different to use than previous games. The graphics have to be mentioned in an entirely different review really as it cannot be described fully just how amazing they really are. I was so shocked and amazed by how realistic everything seemed. The buildings, people, guns and general atmosphere was absolutely breath taking. When you shoot a gun, you can see exactly where the bullet hit a building; you can even see the dust settle on places. Simply walking around feels wonderful and scary at the same time as you feel as if you are truly in the game, walking around with a gun. Carrying on from that the tension is fantastic in places, especially online.

                  The missions and game play offline are quite limited and may annoy some gamers who really want to sink their teeth into the game. Offline campaign is extremely short; I think I completed mine in only a few hours which is quite poor considering you pay £50 for the game. However the missions are amazing and I have replayed them quite a few times. My favourite mission is one of the first you play when you have to search a house with night vision goggles on. The whole atmosphere just feels cool and is such a rush when you are playing it. However the offline campaign is just the start of this game, you cannot fully appreciate this game without playing it online.

                  Call of Duty 4 online is simply in another world to other games of this genre. Never have I played an online game that is as addictive or rewarding as this one. There is over a dozen games you can play including death-match and search and destroy. There are different settings to play in which all have a different atmosphere to them which makes the game more exciting. The more kills you get the more points you get, these points then increase your ranks, from sergeant, to lieutenant to commander and general. There are so many things to do online with the different challenges that are set and the guns and perks you gain once reaching certain levels. I think I have spent about thirty hours online and have loved every minute of it.

                  Overall I just love this game and it has to be my favourite of the PS3 games that I own. I believe that this game shows just what power the PS3 has and what the future of gaming has to offer. I was a bit reluctant to hand over £50 for the game but now I think I would have paid more for it. It is arguably the best FPS game out there at the moment and maybe even ever (Not including Half-Life). The graphics in this game are top notch and make you feel as if you are in the game. Unfortunately I do not have a HD TV and therefore cannot comment on the quality of it playing on it, but come on, it really does have to magical on a screen like that! Online is simply amazing and words cannot describe just how wonderful playing against other people and having the sense of achievement when you hear them scream when you have killed them. Exciting and fast paced this game truly outperforms any game I have played on and for the price I really do think you are mad if you don't buy this game!

                  Technical information
                  Players: 1-4 offline. You can play split screen with friends or by LAN where I think if someone close by has a PS3 you can play with them. I'm not that good with internet capabilities and the technical side of it, but that's what a friend told me.
                  Memory: 10MB minimum
                  HD capabilities: 720p, 1080i and 1080p which must be glorious!
                  Age rating: 16+, with good reason. There is a considerable amount of violence in this game, come on people it's about a war! There is a fair amount of killing and you do see blood, so please do not let your kids play this game but of course it is up to you.
                  Price: You can purchase this game from the GAME website for £40.
                  I haven't written a game review for quite a long time, so please inform me if I have missed anything crucial.

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                  • More +
                    03.06.2008 20:19
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                    Great book to read if like action

                    I was first introduced to Matthew Reilly by a friend a few months ago and bought this book on complete faith that it would be as good as he said it would be. I was not disappointed!

                    First off I do love a sci-fi book and rarely find any kind of book that literally has me on the edge of my seat while reading it. This one however was most definitely something special as I just couldn't put it down. As I was meant to be revising for exams I did feel guilty for a while but this book overcame that emotion.

                    The plot of this book is mind numbingly simple and straightforward that you would think it had been done a million times before. There is a contest held every one thousand years in which the best and strongest competitors from around the galaxy (yes this is a book with aliens in it) compete until one is left standing. The rules of the game are simple; seven contestants will enter; only one can leave. Stephen Swain is an ordinary man who on this night is drawn into the game against his will with his eight year old daughter in tow. He can hide and try to run but one thing is certain, he can only leave if everyone else is dead.

                    Plot
                    The book takes place in the New York State Library which always makes me laugh. A place for quiet reflection and sanctuary is the setting for a high octane thriller, seems odd. Well overall the plot is definitely not for some who don't like the thought of aliens running about trying to kill one another. Me on the other hand, I loved it, I just thought it was so simple and a form of futuristic Roman gladiators! Contest is full of action and the thrills never seem to stop, everyone is in a panic and nothing is calm for long. I also love the way he started the book with little tid bits of information gearing you up for the event such as 'electrification in five minutes'. The book doesn't have any twists really which I do like in a book, but even though it was a straightforward story it managed very well. The ending was predictable but was still satisfying at the same time which was good. Overall I thought it was a very good story which had me turning the pages to find out what happened.

                    Characters
                    I won't delve into what each character was called and information on them, all I will say is that the character development in the story was written quite well. Throughout the story you could see them evolving and learning new things about themselves. Swain is never portrayed as a super-hero as you get in many action books. He is described as a simple man, with faults, who gets drawn into a game he doesn't want to be a part of. Overall they were very likeable characters with the alien competitors being quite interesting in their different aspects and characters.

                    Quality of writing
                    As this was Matthew Reilly's first book you can tell that he may have been unsure how to phrase certain sentences and the grammar does seem to be off in places. He writes very simply, with many sentences comprising of a few words. Overall Contest is a very easy read and may bug some people who like to read something a bit more substantial.

                    Length
                    If you read below it may seem like quite a large book at over 700 pages but trust me, it will go by like Christmas. In one sitting I think I read about 400 pages, simply because I couldn't put it down. It never drags and feels lacking in places. It is one book that keeps its promise of being literally full of action.

                    Writer
                    I did love this book when I read it even though it is a very easy read. I think this book was the start of a very good career in thriller writing. Even though it was his first attempt at a book I thought it was excellent, not the same as every other book being put on the shelf. This is pure action, very much like his other novels. He does get better and only increases the amount of action.

                    Overall I think this is a great book which I completely recommend to everyone to read, its basically just pure fun in a few hundred pages. A complete action novel which fails to disappoint, I think anyone who wants a book that they can read which will keep them on the edge of the seat should definitely buy contest. The characters are interesting and made very realistic and likeable. The aliens are thought up well and really grab your interest. For the price of this book and the knowledge that his other books just keep getting better should make you order this book immediately!

                    General information
                    Price: £5.49 off www.amazon.co.uk
                    Length: 763 pages
                    ISBN: 033048995X

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                    • More +
                      09.03.2008 16:51
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                      A great market full of atmosphere

                      One day last December I was in Birmingham and met my sister for lunch and we decided to go to the Frankfurt market that is on in the middle of Birmingham every year.


                      The market is on in Victoria Square in Birmingham every year from the end of November to the end of December and if you are ever in the area I seriously suggest that you go as it is a wonderful place to be at Christmas time.


                      To get there is extremely easy, just come out of New Street Station in Birmingham via the Pallasades exit. Go down the ramp, turn left and walk a few hundred metres and then you are at the Frankfurt Market. It is in victoria Square and literally anybody new to Birmingham can find it as there are sign posts everywhere. If you are not sure just ask and someone will point you in the right direction.


                      As you first walk onto the first hut, or chalet, you begin to realise just how festive this market can be. Surrounded by Christmas lights and the many people who are always there, the atmospheres in the place are simply astounding. There are dozens and dozens of huts that sell a wide variety of products.


                      The main reason I go to this market is the food that they sell there. It is absolutely delicious! When we were there we decided to try something that was like small pancakes with Nutella on. They were absolutely gorgeous and I would eat so many of them. The smells when you are walking around the market are just to die for; you really could spend quite a lot of money just on food such as burgers, sausages and my favourite, honeyed cashew nuts!


                      Yes the food is pretty impressive and they sell quite a lot of it, however they also sell lots of chocolate which is another big seller. They have tonnes of sweets and hundreds of varieties of chocolates you can buy there. They are all delicious and I wouldn't recommend visiting the market on an empty stomach or else you really will be spending quite a lot of money.


                      The market sells lots of other products such as jewellery, toys and different craft products. It's all very unique so if you are someone who doesn't like mass produced stuff, then this is the place for you. Everything has a certain charm to it, and the prices aren't bad either. In fact the market is free just to walk around which I always think is a nice touch. It has a great atmosphere at Christmas time at night when its all lit up so just walking around you can have a good time.


                      There is usually some form of entertainment in the middle of the market most days, there has been the last few years I've been. It's usually a brass band playing most times which gives a jovial feel to the market. Also there is a carousel for kids to keep entertained if they get bored of looking around. There was also a man as Santa for a picture opportunity for the kids. I thought it was mechanical and got a bit scared when it said hello to me!


                      Overall I think the Frankfurt market is a great place to spend a couple of hours if you are ever in Birmingham at Christmas time. It has a wonderful atmosphere and you can't help but feel a little cheerful and Christmassy by the time you go home. With plenty of huts and different things you can buy such as delicious food and great presents, it truly is a wonderful market. The gifts are quite unique, i haven't bought anything from there in the past few years apart from food so try to look at all the huts for some interesting products.


                      The Frankfurt Christmas market is on annually usually from 15th November to 23rd December.
                      It is open daily from 10am to 9pm in Victoria Square, Birmingham."

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                        07.03.2008 18:29
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                        A great bit of food that leaves you wanting more

                        Before Christmas my family and I decided to visit the Frankfurt market on in Birmingham. However we were hungry when we got there so we decided to go to a restaurant. The first one we came to happened to be Bella Italia, which I was extremely impressed with.

                        It isn't the hardest place to get to, come out of New Street Station in Birmingham towards the Bullring. Turn left and follow the road for about 5 minutes and on the left you will see a big sign for Bella Italia. It has seating outside and tends to be quite busy so it's a very visible restaurant.

                        First walking into the place I was impressed, it was warm, had a good atmosphere and you could smell the delicious food as soon as you stepped inside. It looked very busy when we got there at about 7pm with all the staff running about taking orders and the hussle and bussle of a city restaurant. However it was still able to maintain a quiet and calm atmosphere which I found pleasant. It gets very busy on the night so you are usually waiting in a queue, we were, but it was only for five minutes, however after we had sat down I saw it got notably busier and some families were waiting for ages before getting seated. It had a cosy atmosphere, the tables are close together and there are candles on each table which suited the place very well.

                        The menu is quite large and has a wide variety of food from which you can choose from. Of course this is an Italian so expect the usual amount of pizza and pasta dishes. My sister and I both had a pizza and I have to say it was wonderful. It looked too big at first glance but it was so delicious I had to eat it all! Most people would say that pasta was a 'one bite' meal which I agree with but the pasta they served my mom was out of this world. The sauces and herbs they used mixed beautifully and gave off some gorgeous smells. I almost wanted to nick her pasta for myself that is if I hadn't already full from my pizza! Usually I don't eat much but I cleaned the plate and nicked a bit of garlic bread as well!

                        I was actually very impressed with the service provided at Bella Italia. The staff were extremely pleasant but still had the air of professionalism and efficiency about them. Our drinks came within five minutes of ordering them and the food came after only a fifteen minute wait which I thought was amazing considering the place was packed.

                        The only negative point I would have to make about this restaurant is the close proximity of the tables to each other. Yes when I first walked in I thought it seemed cosy but when I had someone behind me on another table and they kept on fidgeting, that bugged me a little!

                        My whole family enjoyed their meals saying it was one of the best Italian's we had gone to. The service was also very quick considering the restaurant was so packed, the food was great and the price was ok considering it was the city centre. We paid around £20 each for our meals and drinks. Overall I would completely recommend this restaurant if you are ever in Birmingham. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

                        Bella Italia's address: 102 New Street
                        Birmingham
                        West Midlands
                        B2 4HS
                        Tel: 0121 6431548

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                          06.03.2008 20:58
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                          A great machine with excellent potential

                          Well as a computer geek and a hard core fan of the Playstation series I just knew that I would be destined to purchase the Playstation 3. But I ended up waiting a few months before I purchased this wonder machine, basically because I'm a cheap skate and wanted it to come down in price before I bought it. So about six months ago I walked into GAME and walked out with rather a big bag of entertainment goodies.
                          So for anybody that doesn't know what a Playstation is, I will dutifully inform you. The Playstation was released in 1995 and fast became the leading brand in console gaming. This lead to the hugely successful PS2 and in 2007(UK release) the PS3. The console is primarily a gaming unit; it plays video games such as 'Gran Turismo' a driving game. There are many other types of games such as RPG and shoot-em-ups which have all graced the Playstation. The PS3 has taken this to the next level, not only is this a gaming machine, it's a whole entertainment system. It can store and play MP3s, videos, photos and can play DVDs, although I will go into greater detail of these later.

                          The machine
                          First off I will say that I will be reviewing the 60GB version of the PS3. Well on first looks the PS3 sort of looks like a George Forman grilling machine. On closer inspection you will see the PS logo and the shiniest console you will ever see. It isn't the most lightweight machine, it is quite hefty, and you couldn't really carry it about for long without your arms dropping off. But it is a stylish machine; it just looks cool and futuristic. The CD insert slot is now automatic, so you just slide the CD in. There are now four USB ports for if you want to attach accessories or load some music or photos onto the machine. I will give you the specifications for the machine, and I will try and explain what some of the information means.
                          * CPU: Cell Broadband Engine
                          * GPU: RSX
                          * Main Memory: 256MB XDR Main RAM
                          * Embedded VRAM: 256MB GDDR3 VRAM
                          * Hard Drive Disk: 2.5" Serial ATA (60 GB HDD)
                          * Main Input/output: USB 2.0 (x4), Memory Stick/SD/Compact Flash
                          * Ethernet: 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T
                          * Bluetooth: 2.0 (EDR), Wireless Controller (up to 7)
                          * Wireless Communication: IEEE 802.11 b/g
                          * Screen Size: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
                          * HDMI: HDMI out - (x1/HDMI)
                          * Analog: AV MUTLI OUT x1
                          * Digital Audio: DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL x1)
                          * Disc Drive: Blu-ray/DVD/CD (read-only)

                          Honestly I don't understand what most of this gobbley-gook means but some you can sort of read. Basically the CPU is just how the machine runs; the memory is concerned with how fast the information can be processed. Screen size is just how detailed you can get your games to be on your TV. For example 1080p is the best you can get if you attach a HDMI cable to a HDTV, it's pure brilliance. I'm so sorry but I don't really know what the other bits mean but I have put the information there in case you would like to research the product yourself.
                          So upon first opening the box I noticed that there are an awful lot of wires and booklets that I found rather confusing. Luckily I automatically knew which leads I needed to get set up but I felt sorry for anyone who was new to the whole gaming experience. When reading the booklet I felt it wasn't explained as well as it could have been. Lots of fussy diagrams and technological words that many people would be scratching their heads at. I recommend that anyone who hasn't had a console before ask someone who has to help out with all the leads and wires and connecting the PS3.

                          Gaming
                          The main reason that I and I suppose many other people have bought the PS3 is for its gaming capabilities. With its superior engine and Blu-ray technology the gaming discs are capable of containing much more information which for us gamers means better graphics, more freedom and quality of game play. When the PS3 first came out there wasn't that many games worthy of spending the money. But now there are dozens of games that are absolutely fantastic and truly show just what the PS3 is capable of. The best game for me is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the graphics are simply top notch and the PS3 plays it's smoothly, especially online. 2008 seems to be the year for the PS3 to come into its own with many new games on the horizon.

                          Online
                          Over 90% of gamers have their console connected to the internet for online gaming. This is one of the best features of the PS3 as all online connectivity and gaming is completely free! So I could spend hours online COD4 and not spend a penny. Online is just fantastic, you can really get caught up in the action of playing people from all over the world. I love it when you can hear people over their head-sets getting stressed and laughing. Completely insane, but it's one of the best features of console gaming and especially brilliant on the PS3 for being free.

                          Entertainment
                          As I have already mentioned the PS3 is primarily for me a gaming unit but it can also serve another purpose, well a few actually. The machine can actually store and play all of your photos and music from your computer using simple transfer methods. It can play all your CDs and DVDs. I think the new feature and one of the primary selling points for the PS3 is its Blu-ray capabilities. When connected to a HDTV whether gaming or watching Blu-ray DVDs the picture quality is literally out of this world. For poor little me I don't have a HDTV so I can't have this glory. I did get to play on my friends PS3 which is connected to a 42" HDTV capable of 1080p and I have to say I was blown away. Not only in gaming do you feel you are actually there, but the DVDs just look stunning. While playing Resistance Fall of Man I have to admit I did get pretty freaked out by the realistic graphics.
                          Playing old games from the PS and PS2 is fine on the 60GB model, they can have a few problems with some games but mostly it's ok. You have to create an internal memory card for them which isn't a hassle.

                          What's new?
                          For everyone that has played on the PS2 knows what a leap the PS3 has taken. First off the PS2 never got online gaming up to proper speed that we gamers wanted. There were only a few games that were capable of network play which took ages to get set up. On the PS3 it literally takes two minutes to set up a wireless internet connection. Also pretty much every game you buy on the PS3 is capable of online play. COD4 I just love online and within two minutes of loading up the game I am playing online. This is at the best of times; sometimes it may take a few minutes extra to get onto a game.
                          The huge leap I think is that the PS3 now deals with a system where you can choose what to do, whether it being gaming, watching trailers or playing demos. This is the screen which comes up as soon as you turn the power on. Its predecessors were only capable of playing the games and checking your memory card, a bit boring really. You can have a friends list to keep in touch with people you meet while playing or just friends you know who have PS3s. You can send free messages to them and voice chat to them.
                          The wireless controllers I find to be a nice addition, only taking a few hours to charge they literally play for about thirty to forty hours before needing to recharge. The only negative function is they no longer have rumble qualities which I did like in earlier controllers. The Sixx-axis controllers are quite unique as they have motion sensors. So when playing a driving game you can tilt the controller to make the car turn. I thought this was a nice little touch.
                          The Playstation Store is one of the main parts of the PS3. From here you can buy games that are either full massive online games or smaller classic games such as Crash Bandicoot. You can download demos and trailers all for free. I love this as I can download a demo of a game I think looks interesting and then play it, deciding on if I shall buy it or not.

                          Costs
                          So on to what people really care about, how much does it all cost? Well the PS3 started out at a heart stopping £525 which was a little unacceptable to ask people to pay. They were shown it was too much by poor sales. Now the PS3 has brought out a 40GB model which has no backwards compatibility unfortunately which means you can literally only play PS3 games on the machine. This now costs £300 from most shops. The price can vary depending on the deals with games and controllers you get with the machine. From GAME you can usually get a game with the PS3 for £300. The controllers are quite robust and can last a while if kept properly. My friend complained that his gave out within two weeks but I know he threw his controllers about quite a bit and at £35 a controller it's a bit of money so please take care of them. At the moment games cost around £40-45 pound each so they are a bit pricey. I usually only buy the games that I really want and wait for others to come down in price.

                          Overall
                          On the whole I am glad I purchased the PS3, its makes a nice addition to my room! The gaming is just superb; I have literally spent hours playing on Oblivion and COD4. Online is just fantastic and I really recommend it to anyone. The graphics are great but I think at the moment they really don't show just what the PS3 is capable of. The new features are pretty great but you really don't get the full advantage of them unless you connect to a HDTV which is a bit annoying as I don't know many people that have them. The price for the PS3 is pretty reasonable now considering you do get a Blu-ray player in the deal, they usually cost upwards of £500! I just love the thing and really cannot wait for some of the games that are coming out this year and just loving the thought of what possibilities lie ahead. For any gamer this is a worthy machine.
                          P.S. Sorry if this review is a little long I just wanted to fully explain the necessary features of the PS3. However I probably have forgotten some things so please comment if I have. Thanks for reading.

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                            04.03.2008 20:17
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                            A great show, a real must see

                            When my family and I were in London back in June, the primary reason we went was because me and my sister were desperate to see Phantom of the Opera at the theatre. We had seen it ten years ago but as it's our favourite show we wanted to go again. So we booked for a Saturday evening for the 7.30 showing.

                            The Phantom of the Opera was shown at Her Majesty's theatre in London. It's quite easy to get to if you know your way around London, but if you don't it can be a bit tricky. It is in the heart of the theatre district and the easiest way to get there is catching the tube and getting off at Piccadilly Circus or Charing Cross and walking. I don't really recommend getting a taxi there as the centre of London can get extremely congested and it would take forever. Its best walking as it only takes five minutes from either underground.
                            The actual address of the theatre is:
                            Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4QL


                            Walking up to the theatre it looks quite impressive from the outside. A large building in itself, it looks very old London and brings an excellent vibe to the theatre. It is lit up at night which adds an even nicer atmosphere to the area when there are quite a lot of people around. Walking inside of the theatre you come across a large area where there is lots being sold. There is ticket collection, coat checking, theatre programmes being sold. This is all just in the first part of the theatre. Walking a little further you come across a desk which sells merchandise of the show. There are key-rings, t-shirts and key-fobs. Quite a lot of stuff is sold there but it does come at a price. I think I saw a mug being sold for around £15, now I don't know about everyone else but I wouldn't pay that much for a mug! The bar is pretty nice and has a few people serving.

                            Plot

                            So getting on to the actual play. I love the Phantom of the Opera and I think the music is just out of this world. Everyone is the world knows the main song "The Phantom of the Opera", its just one of those songs that you hear and you feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up! My favourite song is "Music of the Night" as I think the words and the composition of the song is just wonderful. I think most people know the story of the show but if they don't here goes. Christine Daae is a dancer in a Parisian theatre being coached by a mysterious man. She becomes noticed and soon is put in a leading spot. The Phantom sees her as his protégée and falls in love with her but it becomes obsession as he wants her to always be the leading lady no matter who get hurts. Add in some great songs, a love interest called Raoul and you have the basic plot for Phantom of the Opera.

                            Music

                            The orchestra was brilliant and really went to town on the songs. It all sounded fantastic, they did a wonderful job. The music softened in the more emotional scenes and they came to a great crescendo when the more action and intense scenes were on. As mentioned before i honestly think the music in this show is outstanding and really can invoke many emotions on viewing.

                            Players

                            Well after coming to London's West End to see my favourite show i was in intense anticipation waiting for the first note to be sung. At first i was ecstatic and thought that it would exceed my expectations. Unfortunately as soon as the woman playing Christine came on i felt like walking out and demanding my money back! She was dreadful, how she had got the job i will never know. She did not have the voice to be on the stage in the West End, i don't mean to be cruel but she honestly wouldn't have been out of place in a Disney Resort singing random songs. Luckily everyone else made up for her inept performance. While see kept floating about the stage everyone else was brilliant and acted and sung beautifully. The man playing the Phantom was out of this world and had a wonderful voice.

                            Stage

                            The sets were simply amazing, I couldn't believe how they managed to pull off some scenes with such ease. When Christine is taken to the Phantom's underground home, it was done wonderfully, especially the boat and all the mist and fog they had on stage. The way they executed it was very clever with the use of stairs and curtains, it just looked perfect and really gave the creepy and intense feelings that scene should provoke. The costumes were beautiful as well, the dresses the women wore were gorgeous and all the costumes for the "Masquerade" scene were out of this world.


                            Overall I just loved this show and I wanted to see it again straight after I'd seen it. I could easily go and watch it again now. Prices were not that bad, I paid £47 for my ticket, which isn't the worst considering you could pay upwards of £70. We had great seats as well near the front where we could see and hear everything perfectly. I cannot remember the girl who played Christine in the production i saw but i truly hope that if you go and see it you will not have to listen to her. Overall it's a great night out for anyone who loves the theatre and I would recommend it to everyone!

                            General Information
                            Length: The evening performance usually starts at 7:30pm and lasts for over two hours. There is a short intermission.
                            Current Cast List: The Phantom- Ramin Karimloo
                            Christine- Leila Benn Haris or Robyn North
                            Raoul- Alex Rathberger

                            There is a film version of this show starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum which is worth a look. The DVD is on play.com for £4.99. You can usually buy the original Broadway recording on the internet. It is on play.com for £17.99.

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                              03.03.2008 20:30
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                              Mouth watering food, great service and nice price

                              Pastiche is a bistro in Lichfield that in my opinion has to be one of the best places to eat in this area. Situated in the city centre it can be a bit tricky to find if you are new to the area. The best way to get there is to travel into the centre and find you way to the train centre. From here travel up the road, turn left at the traffic lights and get onto the car park. From here it is a short walk down the road and when you turn right Pastiche is right in front of you.


                              Walking into the restaurant it may seem to be quite a small restaurant but surprisingly it can fit quite a lot of people inside. As soon as you walk through the doors you can smell the food and honestly, it is rather mouth watering. The tables are all quite close together but it isn't invasive, just cosy. Pastiche is set within two floors and has a very cosy atmosphere to it. Most of the tables are suitable for four people but there are a few larger tables capable of sitting six or eight. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful. They will always greet you with a smile and answer any questions you may have.


                              The menus are the same throughout the month but then change on the first of the new month. So there is a new lunch and dinner menu every month. You can buy a three course meal for £5.50 at lunch and around £10 for the evening meal. The food is simply delicious and there is quite a good variety of food. They always have a couple of meat and fish choices, and there is always a vegetarian dish option. The meals are presented very well but usually are on the small size, which I don't really mind as I like to be ready to gobble up my desert.


                              I always try something different every time I'm there. They also have extras such as chips and vegetables but these cost about £2 each. Also some of the meal choices you have to pay a couple of pounds extra for. This is usually the steak or puddings such as chocolate tortes. The puddings are probably the best and I love to go there just for this course. However all three courses are delicious.


                              I love this place and try to go every month for the new menu. The food is delicious and for the evening meal with drinks and extra courses you are looking at around £15 each which really isn't bad at all considering the quality of food you receive. I recommend this place if you are ever in Lichfield as it is a gem of a restaurant and the food is to die for.


                              There are four Pastiche restaurants in the West Midlands, Lichfield, Stafford, Hanley and Tamworth.
                              The address for the Lichfield restaurant is:
                              Pastiche Bistro Lichfield
                              3 - 5 Lombard Street
                              Lichfield
                              WS13 6DT
                              Telephone number: 01543 257986 I recommend calling for reservations as it does get full early.

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