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After seeing all the news on the SARS outbreaks in the Far East and Canada and then watching this movie it is not difficult to believe that despite the far-fetched nature of the disease in 28 Days Later (28DL) this kind of thing could actually happen. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland have conjured up a film that despite its slightly far-fetched storyline and lack of big name actors(like Leonardo DiCaprio in Boyle and Garland's last collaboration "The Beach") it engages and scares you throughout. The basis of the film is this: It starts with some animal rights activists trying to free some infected chimps..bad move. Then cuts to Jim who wakes up from a coma locked in his room in a London hospital, it is deserted - he walks outside, nothing to be seen. He walks through the deserted streets of central London and finds no-one until he gets chased by some rabid-zombie-type people and is rescued by Selena and Mark who recount the story of the last 28 days. Eventually they discover Frank and his daughter Hannah who live in a tower block fortress. They receive a radio signal and decide to go to Manchester where they discover Major West and his men who have converted a stately home to an impregnable fortress. I'll leave it there as to go further would ruin the ending. Needless to say, there are a lot of chases and close-calls, a few deaths and some lighter moments along the way. I've heard this film likened to some of George Romero's, also to Resident Evil - this may be true, I did see a quote from Danny Boyle saying he was inspired by Romero, but I wouldn't say it was that similar. I think they could have done more with the disease, called RAGE. Lots of red eyes, fake blood, puke etc.. but for a low budget film it works well enough. The actors are almost all unknowns, apart from Christopher Eccleston from Shallow Grave who plays Major West. Cillian Murphy(Jim), Naomie Harris(Selena), Megan Burns(Hanna h) and Brendan Gleeson(Frank) play the 4 main characters well and are all likeable. The camera work is great and really gives you the kind of apocalyptic atmosphere that the disease has created and the desperation of the characters as they try to find some sort of sanctuary from the infected. There is only a small bit of CGI used in the film so a lot of credit has to go to the director and his crew for the look and feel of the movie. Worth a look - the DVD has a good making of featurette on it too.
I've been reading James Patterson novels on and off for about 5 years. My friend introduced me to them, and after spending quite a bit of time ploughing through a Clancy novel it was enjoyable and I could hardly put the thing down. All of JP's books are based around detective's of one sort or another. There are the famous Alex Cross novels (including the 2 that were made into movies Kiss The Girls and Along Came a Spider). At this point you may be noticing a little theme...all the Alex Cross novels use nursery rhyme titles: Pop Goes The Weasel, Jack and Jill, Roses are Red, See How they Run, Cat and Mouse, Cradle and All and his most recent novel Violets are Blue. But the master of the detective story also has a few other books based on other characters: Black Market and When the Wind Blows are good examples. When the wind blows is quite a departure from his normal formula - although the detective element is still there - the story itself is more of a fantasy with the discovery of some very unique children. He has aslo recently started a new series based on a female detective in San Francisco. The first book was called "1st to Die" and involved a series of grisly murders of newly-wed couples. The most recent release is titled "2nd Chance" (another title theme developing here maybe??), and picks up shortly after the previous one (I'm only half way through this so I can't say much but it is another page-turner). One of the things that I enjoy about his books are the dual commentaries where you also get the story from the killer's point of view, and you wonder how Cross is actually going to get the killer. He always includes a few twists and turns throughout the way and I can't remember reading one of his books without the main character having some sort of love interest. (Alex Cross has had about 6/7 women that he always seems to fall in love with - most of them die!!). If yo u are looking for a book which is not too heavy going, you like detective stories with a few twists and turns, and you like reading a series of books then Patterson's your man. Start with something like Along Came a Spider it is the first one (I think) and is a good introduction to the formula, although not his best. You will also (if you've watched Kiss the Girls movie) picture Alex Cross as the actor Morgan Freeman, which is good - although I think Patterson means for Cross to be a few years younger than Morgan Freeman, maybe more like Denzel Washington's age.
Prepare yourself for a shock, despite all the hype this film is actually very good!! I was lucky enough to get tickets for the 00:01 showing last night. The regular actors have returned, Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu, Ewan McGregor as (the now fully bearded) Obi-Wan Kenobi and Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala. Newcomer Haydn Christensen plays (the soon to be Darth Vader) Anakin Skywalker and Christopher Lee plays the new bad guy Count Dooku (ex-Jedi Knight). The story is set 10 years after the first one and Obi-Wan has been training Anakin to become a Jedi, Queen Amidala has finished her reign as Queen of Naboo, but is now a senator in the republic. I won't give too much away, but basically the film is based on Obi-Wan's attempts to find out who is trying to assasinate Padme (and why), and the blossoming relationship between Anakin and Padme (future parents of Luke and Leia). As usual there are many twists and turns and a huge battle at the finish. The story itself is a dark one, ie depicts how the demise of the republic(and its transformation into the empire) begins. The one feeling that I got all they way through is that the whole film is just setting the scene for Episode 3 and a big finale. Lots of new characters are introduced and you discover some things about characters who feature in the original Star Wars trilogy. For instance, Boba Fett, Uncle Owen & Aunt Beru. Also Jar Jar is in the film, but he only appears 3 or 4 times and has about 6-7 lines of dialogue - with a bit of luck he won't be in the third one!! Haydn Christensen does a good job as the brooding and troubled Anakin and you start to see how he is turned into Darth Vader. The film is excellently shot and the effects are fantastic. Some of the acting is a little wooden at times and the "love" scenes are a little hammy. But over all it is very much the Empire Strikes Back of the prequel trilogy. There are the usual comedy moments (mostly restricted to C-3P0 and the odd comment by Obi-Wan), but the highlight of the film for me is the battle between Yoda and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). I can't explain it, it was just beyond words and the coolest thing I have seen at the cinema for ages - if you thought the Matrix was cool or Pulp Fiction - you ain't seen nothing yet!! Unfortunately the fight is a little short and you will have to wait for the last 15 minutes to see it - but don't blink!! I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the film it was a good story, action-packed and fun. I did read the book and if you want to get a bit more background to the story I would recommend reading that, it kind of fills some of the little gaps left by the film and also sets a couple of the scenes better.
After driving my new car for a couple of weeks it is not difficult to see why this model was voted European car of the year. I bought a 3-door 1.6 Rapier in Black, with black interior. The Rapier is the mid-range model, falling in-between the LX and the GLX, it comes with single-disc CD player, Air-con, power-steering, ABS, air-bags all over the place (including curtain air-bags), and it is a driver's dream (in my opinion). This car is so easy to drive, it has a responsive engine, excellent handling, smooth changing gear-box, very light steering (but still good feel), comfortable seats, everything electric and easy to reach. It is a very driver-friendly car. One thing that you think straight away when you sit in the car is how big it feels from inside - the cabin is incredibly roomy and the all-around view from the driver's seat means very few (if any) blind-spots. However, when I parked it next to a Vectra it looked quite small (apart from in height). The controls are excellent and the arm for the stereo situated on the steering column has been up-graded from older Peugeot's (206/306). The models with Air-con also feature a chilled glove-box compartment for small bottles/cans. The only criticisms I can level would be the size/weight of the doors on my 3-door model, although it makes climbing into the back so easy, and the lack of a foot-rest for your clutch foot - apparently this is only on the GLX/XSi models. Lack of mud-guards (£49 per pair extra). One other criticism is they are only made in France so it can take anywhere between 1-2 months to get hold of your car once you have ordered it. Overall I am thrilled with my new 307, and I am glad I took my time when selecting, test-driving and finally buying it - the garage knocked roughly 10% off the price of the car (little did they know I was convinced the first time I sat in one!!). UPDATE: 8/5/2003 After driving the 3 07 for just over a year I can honestly say this is still a very good car. I've had one or two little niggles with it: Loose bit of carpet in driver's footwell Indicator has a little fault turning right - it can click itself off when you're sitting waiting to turn or rolling up to a junction. Electric window is sensitive - when you hold and click it to auto-shut it occassionally re-opens, not if you hold the button for a normal close. All of these things Peugeot will fix for free, and the 6000 miles service was free. I'm on 18000 and due for a service in about 6-7 weeks - which I think will be my first big expense. Although I think the front tyres might need replacing soon. I also had a replacement windscreen as it got cracked on a dual carriageway - that is one downside of the good visibility in this car - its a big windscreen to hit!! As far as MPG goes - I get 35-40 miles per gallon depending on how fast I drive, or if I do a lot of town driving it goes down. I'm a bit disappointed with the MPG as the 307 diesels get easily 45+ mpg. I think this car would be ideal for someone who will use it regularly and for more than trips to the shops/pub/school etc - I wouldn't recommend it to someone who does a lot of town driving - its much better on the open roads. It's got good bootspace - I've had my mountain bike in it with only one wheel off, it can also cope with big suitcases, my parents always travel with big Samsonites and it fits 2 of them and 3/4 rucksacks/holdalls at the same time without removing the parcel shelf.
The first thing that strikes you about Black Hawk Down is its unrelenting battle-action scenes. If you could imagine the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, pretty much the whole movie is at that sort of pace, with similar effects - lots of pouring blood and limbs being blown off. The story itself is based around an American operation in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1992. The operation was to kidnap senior members of the staff of rebel leader Mohammed Aidid. However to do this they would have to venture into the Bakala Market area of the city, deep in the heart of Aidid's territory. As you would anticipate things start to go wrong fairly quickly (otherwise it would be a pretty boring movie). The new boy in the unit falls 30 ft from a rope while exiting one of the Black Hawk helicopters - mainly due to the pilot having to dodge a rocket-launcher. This is just the start though, a few minutes later one of the Black Hawks takes a hit and goes down about a mile away from all the troops - so they have to send a rescue party. After numerous scourmishes, arguments and minor disasters they secure the crash site(as best you can outnumbered 20:1) - however then another Black Hawk gets shot down, which stretches the forces further. The story features a number of main characters - Sgt Eversman, played by Josh Hartnett, in charge of his squad for the first time - Grimes, Ewan McGregor, a desk clerk who gets dragged along due to another soldier's injury, Lt Colonel McKnight,Tom Sizemore, who is in charge of the ground operation and Sam Shephard who plays the General. Other actors you might recognise are Ewen Bremner(Spud from Trainspotting), William Fichtner(Armageddon, Go, Perfect Storm), Ron Eldard(Deep Impact, Sleepers), Jason Isaacs(The Patriot), Matthew Marsden (of Coronation Street fame) and many others.... The film itself is very violent, extremely fast-paced and very rarely stops for any character development. The director does very little to present the Somali rebels point of view, and also fails to mention the presence of Pakistani UN forces based in another part of the city who had not been informed of the operation previously. As you will see, the first mention of the UN is when the Americans are in such a mess that they need an armoured convoy to rescue them - even then they have to concentrate on the 8 soldiers who were forced to run behind the trucks, because there wasn't enough room. It is very similar to other american war movies - you know the way even the worst mistakes and military blunders are turned into a victory of sorts. In terms of the story - it is a good story, and a true one (what was artistic license or truth I am not sure). The characters are strong but you don't get too much background on them. The actors are excellent, and I think most have plenty of experience in these sort of films, which helps. I'm also glad they didn't try and add in a love story, like Pearl Harbour, it would have detracted from the main story. The scenery and effects are excellent - the horrific injuries make you squirm in your seat altogether its a very good film. I would recommend this to most adults, but be prepared for blood and guts and a constant stream of bullets and explosions.
Having read just over half of the Fellowship of the Ring book, I could wait no longer to go see the movie...so off I trotted fully prepared for a 3-hour vigil at the local cinema. I read the book(s) first time about 15 years ago - so I am reading them as a refresher. The first thing that struck me was the scenery, the film-makers really had found a stunningly beautiful place to build Hobbiton. You immediately realise why Hobbits are so homely and unadventurous types. Unfortunately, Hobbiton was just about the only location and the rest of the places in the movie are CGI. The second thing that struck me is the cast: Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee..... Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd play the 4 young hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry & Pippin) almost perfectly, and I couldn't think of anyone better than Ian Holm to be the older Bilbo Baggins (although I'm not sure who would play the younger version if rumours are true and they decide to make "The Hobbit"). Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean are excellent as Aragorn & Boromir. Liv Tyler plays Arwen daughter of Elrond (played by Hugo Weaving - "Matrix" & "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" ). For me though, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the wizard reigns supreme. Only an actor of such calibre could provide the range for Gandalf as he goes from caring old friend to scary, powerful wizard. I was also curious as to how things would work with character interaction, if you've read the books you know that Hobbits are only supposed to be about 4ft tall, whereas the Elves and Men are 6ft and Dwarves 4-5ft. But after a couple of scenes it became normal and I stopped looking for it. One thing it is important to remember is that this is the first of 3 books and there is no big exciting climax. So many people I overheard as I walked out at the end were saying how bad the ending was. This part of the story is about the Fellowship and how the journey to destroy the One ring begins. It is a very good film, with excellent acting, superb effects and fairly faithful to the book. There are a few chunks missing, but when you think about it the bits missing aren't that important. I would recommend reading "The Hobbit" first as "Fellowship.." relies on the Hobbit for a lot of set-up of characters and the history and possible effect of the One Ring. The film does have a short narrative at the start to try and summarise the story so far. I would recommend this movie to anyone who can bear 3 hours in a cinema seat. Shame we have to wait until December next year for episode 2 of 3.
I am sure everyone on the planet has heard of Pink Floyd - one of the most famous, yet mysterious bands of the latter parts of the 20th century. And here they are reminding us that they are still around as we take a few early steps into the 21st century where we are ruled by manufactured pop bands and money hungry music-executives, who seem more interested in merchandising revenue than in originality, freedom and musical talent. Lets face it, if Pink Floyd were just starting now they would get nowhere. But, fortunately for us Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright formed a band in the late 60's when anything goes....LSD, marijuana and free love etc... Pink Floyd are often referred to as Quasi-Classical, Space-Age Rockers and their music referred to as Wagnerian and Operatic. The reason these description sound so strange (and ridiculous) is because PF's music is varied, innovative and does not conform to any particular standards (other than that laid down in their previous albums). This album takes us through the entire history of the band, from early singles like 'See Emily Play' and 'Arnold Layne'. The singles were shortly followed by the band's first album 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn'. Echoes also contains the classic space-age number 'Astronomy Domine' and 'Bike' taken from the first album. Shortly after the first album lead singer/songwriter/lead guitarist Syd Barrett departed due to health reasons (mostly mental apparently). Fortunately the band had already brought on board Dave Gilmour - a friend of the band who was originally brought in to cover Barrett for the live shows where he seemed particularly unstable. After Barrett departed, Gilmour's influence began to push the band slightly more mainstream which eventually culminated in the release of the All-Time Classic album 'Dark Side of the Moon'. There are a few tunes fro m this album: 'Money', 'Time', 'Great Gig in the Sky' & 'Us and Them'. Fortunately this record also contains some of the more traditional marathon-length Floyd tunes like 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' (a tribute to Syd Barrett), 'Echoes' and 'Sheep'. Its good to see that they didn't cave in and fill the album full of 4 minute tunes. 'Division Bell' (the band's most recent studio release in 1994) is well-represented too, with 'High Hopes' and 'Keep Talking' (which features the voice of Stephen Hawking). There is quite a good mix throughout the album, the tunes are not played in order of release and each album is well-represented: 'Learning to Fly' & 'Sorrow' from 'Momentary Lapse of Reason'; 'Sheep' taken from 'Animals'; 'Hey You' & 'Comfortably Numb' & 'Another Brick..(part 2)' taken from 'The Wall'; 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' & 'Wish You Were Here' from 'Wish You Were Here'. (You may or may not have seen Wyclef Jean, the ex-Fugee, on MTV doing a version of 'Wish You Were Here' recently). I would recommend this album to most fans. I own a few Floyd albums (Division Bell, Momentary Lapse..,Wish You Were Here, Dark Side, Relics and Pulse) and I enjoyed 'Echoes' immensely, but I did miss a couple of tracks like 'Run Like Hell' and 'Take it Back' which are a couple of my personal favourites. 'Echoes' is a good album to own, but for those of you who want to experience things properly you have to listen to one of the live albums like 'Pulse' (released 1995) or 'Delicate Sound of Thunder' (released 1988). I prefer Pulse as it contains a few tracks off Division Bell and the encore is my 3 favourite songs (Run Like Hell, Comfortably Numb and Wish You Were Here). We can only hope and pray that the band can put the contract/money/control wrangles to one side and do the decent thing, and do a series of (farewell?) gigs for those of us too young to see them last time and others who have followed them since their heyday.
Do you remember the adventures of Monkey..? His journey across the barren wastelands of China with his sidekicks Sandy and Pigsy, and the strange boy/girl-type holy person Tribitaka...? Well, if you remember that then this film is going to mean something to you. The film is the story of 2 warriors Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien played by Chow Yun Fat ('Anna & the King', 'The Corruptor', 'Replacement Killers') and Michelle Yeoh('Tomorrow Never Dies'). Li Mu Bai returns from the Wudan temple and decides he must give up his life as a warrior, and so he decides to pass on his sword (called the Green Destiny)to his friend Sir Te and asks Shu to take the sword to him. When Shu arrives at Sir Te's house so does the governor and his soon-to-be-married daughter Jen Yu (played by Zhang Ziyi). Anyway, the sword gets stolen and numerous fight scenes and lots of strange building-leaping, wall-climbing and floating later we find out it is Jen Yu, the thief in the ninja suit. Even more shockingly we discover that she is in fact the protogé of Jade Fox, Li Mu Bai's most deadly of enemies and the woman who murdered his master. We also discover that Jen Yu has a secret lover, Dark Cloud - a barbarian living in seclusion from his enemies in the desert. Hence the many Monkey-like desert sequences. It is at this point that the love story part of this movie begins to develop, and we see how Jen Yu met Dark Cloud. We also get an insight into the past history of the relationship between Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien. I'm not going to give the ending away, but it is well worth hanging around for. I must say that this is an excellent movie, I watched it on DVD with the dubbing rather than subtitles, and I was pleasantly surprised there were no Bruce Lee-esque moments. The sets are very extravagant as are some of the costumes, and the location filming was superbly shot, it is d ifficult to tell which is which sometimes. The fight scenes are amazing and the choreography required must have been an immense task. Some of the building (and tree) leaping sequences are a bit strange, but you get used to them. The music is also worth a mention, it really sets the scene. Ang Lee really has put together a masterpiece and fully deserves the acclaim (and oscars) this piece of cinema magic has laid at his doorstep.
I watched this film on the strength of one thing - Robert DeNiro. I wasn't sure what to expect - a buddy cop movie with DeNiro as the mentor to Edward Burns (from Saving Private Ryan) seemed the most logical to expect. What you get is a very strange, disturbing, satirical piece on the American judicial system and the American Media, and how the two interact. DeNiro is a famous New York Homicide detective called Eddie Fleming, responsible for arresting some major criminals - and made famous by Kelsey Grammer's sleazy tabloid TV show, 'Top Story'. His fame is helped along by his reporter girlfriend interviewing him at every crime scene. Ed Burns is an Arson investigator called Jordy Warsaw, with a dislike for the politics of the job and the media. Their paths cross after an Eastern European couple are found burnt to death in their apartment. They were murdered by 2 guys, one Russian and one Czech who searched them out to retrieve some money from a robbery that one of them had been jailed for. Emil (the brains) and Oleg (the braun) locate the guy and his wife and Emil flips out when he discovers the money is gone. Oleg is constantly running around with his video camera and films everything. This leads to further chase scenes and murders (all filmed by Oleg) and eventually culminates in De Niro's murder being filmed (and consequently aired by the moral-free Kelseg Grammer). It is at this point that the judicial system is heavily parodied as Emil is caught and pleads insanity, sells the movie rights etc... I won't give the rest of it away but there are a couple of good twists towards the end. All in all its a very strange film, with some good acting - especially the guy playing Emil, his part reminded me a lot of Gary Oldman's in 'Leon'. Ed Burns also does well in what is essentially his first major role. DeNiro is convincing as the older detective but is only really in it for the first hour and a bit. I won't kid you its a pretty violent film and at times is very unrealistic, and although in places it is billed as a black comedy - it isn't. It is a violent parody of the American legal system and its interaction with the media. I watched this on DVD and there were a lot of extras - deleted scenes, actual footage from the video cameras used by the actors and a couple of fairly long documentaries on the media and judicial system.
As some book readers might know 'Along Came a Spider' is another episode in a long line of Alex Cross novels written by the excellent author James Patterson. This one actually comes before Kiss The Girls in the Alex Cross series so it was a strange choice as the '2nd' film. There are a few subtle changes from the book - Megan Rose is now a Senator's daughter, rather than an actress's daughter. The second child involved is the son of the Russian ambassador rather than son of the Secretary of the Treasury. I have to admit, I think Morgan Freeman is a superb actor and makes an excellent Alex Cross. My only complaint would be the age factor - in the books Cross is supposed to be about 10-15 years younger than Morgan Freeman (Cross is described as 'like Muhammad Ali in his prime'). Although having seen him play the part twice I couldn't imagine anyone else doing it. Anyway the story is based around a serial killer who kidnaps the daughter of a senator (played by Michael Moriarty from the TV show Law & Order and his wife played by Penelope Ann Miller) and involves Alex Cross as a challenge to him to catch him. Cross is currently on leave due to the death of his wife. Gary Soneji played by Michael Wincott (The Crow, Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves) is convincing as the clever kidnapper/killer although he does come across as a little wimpy at times. He doesn't really seem evil enough to do what he is doing (the book portrays the character as the epitomy of evil, a cold-blooded serial killer) and missing out the initial murders from the story weakens his character a little. Monica Potter (from 'Con-Air' & 'Martha meet Frank, Daniel & Lawrence') plays the secret service detective (Jezzie Flanagan)responsible for Megan Rose's safety and at Cross' request becomes his partner in an attempt to track down the kidnapper. As with any James Patterson story, there are numerous twists and I won't fill you in on them because it gives the whole thing away. As is usual with films of this nature a lot of changes are made to the book and makes me wonder if (or how) they will make any of the other Cross novels. The film itself is good, the car crash scene at the start looks a little false, but the rest of the action and chase scenes look realistic. The constant searching for clues and Cross' brilliance in spotting the tiny details is brought to light again and again. I would recommend this film, but if you've read the book it may leave you feeling a little unfulfilled at the end.
The first thing that strikes you with this game is its similarity to the Championship Manager series on the PC. The function is the same, but it suffers in comparison to the PC game due to the lack of versatility of the playstation on simulator-type games. The area it suffers most is navigating around the screen, and the search for players function - the search parameters are basic in comparison and buying a single player can take quite a while. Also there can sometimes be some confusion as to who has scored the goals during the game - your bidiprinter will say one person, but the game summary will say a different one. However, despite its shortcomings it can be quite an addictive game. Once you start to establish yourself and build your own squad it becomes like a personal project. I had built a Leeds team including the regular star players, but added the likes of Dino Baggio, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Seth Johnson, Robbie Keane (which both turned out to be prophetic signings) & John Carew. The only problem I had was trimming my squad and wage bill to accomodate my new signings, the younger players wouldn't leave to go play in Divs 1 & 2 and others like Radebe and Batty were too old, even if you drop their values to virtually nothing no-one wanted them. If you let yourself, this is the sort of game you can get really engrossed in, but eventually you might get bored and decide to hop on your PC and load up Championship Mgr and play the real thing.
Aaah, yes another World War 2 film I hear you say - just cashing in on the back of Private Ryan. Well, to a certain extent they are but this movie stands apart from the other war movies - in that its heroes are Soviets. This is the story of the Battle of Stalingrad (now known as Volgograd) in Autumn/Winter 1942 and more importantly the story of Vassili Zeitsev (played by Jude Law) a Soviet sniper and his duel with Major Konig (played by Ed Harris), the German's sniper school instructor (and their best sharpshooter). The film starts part way through the battle for the city - the Germans are sweeping east towards Moscow and have reached the talismanic city of Stalingrad. The Soviet leadership (Stalin, Kruschev et al) know that if Stalingrad falls then the whole country will quickly share its fate. Although the Soviets have greater numbers they are badly under-equipped and cannot withstand the German artillery and air attacks. Political Officer Danilov (Joe Fiennes) discovers a soldier with an unerring accuracy with a rifle and witnesses him take down 5 German officers. Danilov decides that this soldier is the hero that will inspire their people to fight back. So he publishes pictures and stories of the shepherd boy from The Urals. At this point we are introduced to Nikita Kruschev (played by Bob Hoskins) the Soviet general who is tasked with repelling the German advance. We are also introduced to the Tania Chernova (played by the lovely Rachel Weisz) By now Stalingrad is in ruins but the Soviets know they cannot give it up. Although they are outgunned the sniper squads (and Zeitsev) sneak around the ruined buildings killing German officers and being nuisances - disrupting the German advance. This is when Major Konig arrives tasked with eliminating Zeitsev. As soon as this occurs Zeitsev is joined by Kulikov (played by Ron Perlman) who knows Konig from his training days. Needless to say the film then becomes a game of cat and mouse between the two, with a backdrop of a growing romance between Tania and Vassili - plus a spot of Jealousy from Danilov. I won't give it all away but it is quite a good ending - although made a little bit soppy by the relationship between Tania and Vassili. I have tried to check on the true story surrounding this movie. It is true to a certain extent - although certain things have been added. The 2 soldiers were definately involved in the battle for Stalingrad. Some sources say that Konig was shot by Zeitsev, others say there was another German sniper called Heinz Thorvald. Either way this kind of sniper-sniper duel is very unusual and it makes for a very good and very tense film. I can only take my hat off to the set designers - the background is superb and everything looks so realistic and bloody. It was filmed in East Germany, near the Polish border at an abandoned (and flooded) mine. I would definately recommend this movie - the combination of good actors, a true story and a different point of view on the War make for excellent viewing. My only disappointment was the DVD has no extras - I wanted to see deleted scenes and a documentary on the real life Vasilli Zeitsev.
First of all let me give you some background - I love Ice Hockey and I'm a big NY Rangers fan. Now although this gives me added insight into playing the game it also gives me a bit more knowledge to criticise this game - which is difficult. This is arguably the best team sports game I have ever played. It is realistic, it has all the players and you can change the game settings to suit your own capabilities. Unlike a lot of games where you choose beginner, pro or expert level and that is it, NHL 2001 allows you to set the game speed, the harshness of the ref's, the likelihood of fights, whether you want to control your lines, the camera position, your goalie, the number of games in a season etc...... But, my favourite addition of all is the NHL Challenge where you create a player (use yourself - trust me its much more fun!) and by reaching milestones throught the games you can score points which can be added to your players attributes - or you can use a cheat I found and create yourself like a good player already. Also when you move on to a second season you go through free agency, retirements and drafts as you would normally, and your current crop of players skill levels change at random. The other good features are player trades, injuries, hot and cold streaks, big hits, in-depth stats and retro uniforms. Like every game there are bad points, but not many: When you sign a new players all your lines automatically re-shuffle to accomodate your new player (there could be a way to turn this off - but I haven't found it yet); To trade players you have to scroll through all the teams, you can't do a search by position or name; During gameplay the commentary can be quite a way behind the play; When changing lines during open play it basically involves the entire team (excl Goalie) clearing the ice and leaving you exposed to an attack - in real life the player coming on is often on the ice before the other player leaves. Apart from these few little annoyances the game plays brilliantly - its fast, furious and fun (especially when you create yourself as a player and score a goal!!). You also have the option of playing it for hours or just for a quick game (which lasts around 15mins). If you are looking for a good sports game, then I would recommend this one - even if you haven't got a clue about the game.
2 days after watching this film at the cinema I am just about recovered from the injuries sustained when non-stop laughing for nearly 2 hours. This film is excellent..!! It's funnier than the first film, in that it doesn't deal with too much mushy sentiment (like the Vicki & Kev sh**ging drama in the first). In this one they concentrate on the humour, and despite the fact that some of it was predictable - it was still funny when it happened. The major coup with No.2 was managing to get everyone back for the sequel (despite the fact that most of the actors careers have taken off since ep 1). No one is missing - even Sherman and the MILF boys are in it. The plot basically is that they are all back home for the summer and bored. Kev gets more advice from his big brother and rents a beach house for the boys (Jim , Oz, Kev, Finch and Stifler). They move to the beach and get work as house painters. (Cue a hilarious lesbian dilemna). It just so happens that the band camp is down the road - so Jim goes to seek out Michelle to help him improve his sexual performance for the impending visit of Nadia. Oz and Heather are still in love and she disappears to Europe for the summer (but returns for the end of summer party). Vicki shows up(with Jessica)(Tara Reid looking just a bit gorgeous!!) and Kev has trouble getting used to being just friends. Finch is obsessed with Stifler's Mom and takes up Tantra and meditating. Stifler is his usual self and provides a lot of the comedy throughout the film. Jim's Dad provides almost all of the embarrassing moments, including the opening sequence. As expected it all ends on a happy note (again - especially for Sherman!!) and leaves itself open for a third episode - although I'm sure they will run out of jokes. All in all this is a very funny film. It was a little predictable and had some really gross moments, but if you want to go to the cinemas for a good old la ugh, this is the movie to see. In fact, this is a movie I will probably go see again - it was that funny. (That and the fact that all the girls are really hot!!)
Well, after all the hype and numerous live performances finally the boys from Starsailor have released their debut offering 'Love is Here'. You will hear them referred to as this years Coldplay or Travis, which is a fair reflection of the type of music they play, but they do have their own style and singer James Walsh's voice is very distinctive. There is also more of a mix of instruments with piano/hammond/organ/keyboards and a little bit of sampling featuring on some songs. The album begins with the haunting 'Tie up my hands' a slow starting moody song which builds to a climax. Track 2 is a more upbeat singalong number called 'Poor misguided fool' that you'll find yourself instinctively foot-tapping to. Track 3 is the classic, recently released single 'Alcoholic'. A ballad about childhood misery - highlighted by James' Walsh's classic chorus "Don't you know you've got your daddy's eyes and daddy was an alcoholic". This is another song that builds to a crescendo and then descends to a slow chorus with only the singer and a piano. Track 4 is called "Lullaby" and is a bit more cheery and upbeat. Track 5 is called "Way to Fall" and slows things down again. It also mixes in some haunting background sounds. Track 6 is "Fever" - one of the first tracks they released. Light on the guitars and a bit heavier on the drums this one kind of marches along then bursts into a wailing chorus. Top tune!! Track 7 is "She just wept" - again slowing everything down with a kind of rolling guitar sound. No drums at all, just guitars piano, keyboards and singer. Track 8 is "Talk Her Down" - very short intro and into a kind of Charlatansesque beat with lots of drums and organs. Track 9 is the title track and again is a slower number - a love song (funnily enough with a title lik e that !!). Track 10 is another of the singles "Good Souls" and my favourite tune from the album. A bit more upbeat with a good singalong chorus. Track 11 "Coming Down" was a B side to one of the singles. It is basically James Walsh and an acoustic guitar, another wailer of a song with some good lyrics. This album is another in a long line of albums with a 'not so' secret track at the end. The tune is basically 1 minute of them humming along like a bunch of gregorian monks with a giggle at the end. You have to wait 10 minutes from the end of "Coming Down" to hear it. Not really worth the wait and the album's one failure. Overall this is a great album. Fans of Travis, Coldplay & Turin Brakes should love it. The CD cover has very little detail/info so don't expect oodles of reading material and there are no lyrics in it - so much for a good ol' singalong..!! I give these guys top marks for their music but can we please dump the 'phantom' track and put a bit more effort into the CD sleeve please.