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1) What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before?
I don't actually think there was anything... I tried new food and watched new movies, that's about it! Oh, I also read a lot more books.
2) Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few people I know gave birth, but no one particularly close to me.
3) Did anyone close to you die?
4) What countries did you visit?
None! I think it is my first year in life I haven't been abroad, or on a holiday as a matter of fact! Ah well, what do you expect when me and my girlfriend are moving down under next year?
5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Even more time with my girlfriend, more money (saving!), and possibly a little more time!
6) What dates will you remember from 2008?
There's quite a few excellent days, but I can't remember all of the dates! 19th December, my girlfriends birthday, was an excellent day :)
7) Did you suffer illness or injury?
Only a cold, which isn't really all that bad!
8) What was the best thing you bought?
It would probably have to be my Xbox 360 at the beginning (February) of the year - it's kept me and my girlfriend busy when we couldn't be bothered to do anything else! If not that, probably my iPod Touch, but that was only on boxing day and can't really compare it to a product i've had for almost a year!
9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration?
I don't have a clue!
10) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Not so much appalled and depressed, but everyone at college (we're talking 17/18 year olds here) are so immature it's ridiculous!
11) Where did most of your money go?
Just the usual... savings, clothes, phone credit, ink catridges, supplies for school, and the odd dvd etc.
12) What did you get really excited about?
Taking Gemma out for her birthday!
13) What song will you remember from 2008?
The one that stood out to me most was American Boy by Estelle when I heard it before the trailers at the cinema.
14) Compared to this time last year are you- happier, fitter, more productive.
Happier - Yes: Got so much to look forward to, and things are just getting better and better.
Fitter - Yes: Cut down on the junk food a bit, and started jogging back from my girlfriends after leaving hers/walking her home.
Productive - Yes: Got more of an idea of what I have to do to become a graphic designer, and definitely seem to have better ideas for everything.
15) What do you wish you had done more of?
Probably a little more coursework - then I wouldn't have so much to do now!
16) What do you wish you had done less of?
Nothing really.. I enjoyed pretty much everything I did last year.
17) What was your favourite TV programme?
Probably Lost, even though it's been almost a year since it's been on! It starts again soon though! I also really enjoyed Heroes, and a couple of not-so-big series' on BBC like Mutual Friends etc.
18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?
Don't really hate anyone... Dislike quite a few people though!
19) What's been the best book of 2008?
There's three, all my Cody McFadyen: Shadow Man, The Face of Death, and The Darker Side. You should read them, they're brilliant!
20) What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't have a clue!
21) What did you want to get in 2008?
I'd be here forever if I listed them all!
22) What did you want and didn't get?
Again, I'd be here forever if I listen them all!
23) What is your favourite film of the year?
There has been quite a few films I loved last year. My favourite film that was bought out in 2008 is probably Twilight - I wasn't expecting all that much from it but it was excellent. Although, my favourite film I watched last year was Rec which was out in 2007, but damn that was good. I'm going to look into more Spanish horrors if they're all that good!
24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I had my girlfriend stay over, ate lots of food, opened lots of pressies and played on my xbox!
25) What political issue stirred you the most?
All of it - no offence to anyone but it's all a load of rubbish!
26) Who was the best person you met?
Probably Gemma's Nan and 'Grampy', and her dad etc. They're all great and everything is a laugh around them!
27) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008?
Not to listen to anyone, and do what you want to do!
Happy 2009 everyone!
Nici is a superb German toy factory based in Altenkunstadt, North Bavarian of Upper Franconia. They produce many good quality gifts, such as figurines, stationary, cards, hot water bottles and quite easily their most popular, plush toys. The company also produced Goleo, who was quite well known as he was the mascot of the 2006 Fifa World Cup.
Since opening in 1986, they have produced a very large amount of quality toys.
This monkey, however, is in their 'Wild Friends' collection, which also consists of a zebra, a giraffe, a lion, a tiger, and quite a few more.
I think they're very reasonably priced compared to some other plush toys out there and they are most definitely better quality than the majority of them!
You can buy the monkey (and all their other products) in various positions (either standing/hanging or laying - as shown in the picture above) and many different prices: 15cm from £5.99, up to 80cm at £49.99! You can also get most of their products in a miniature keyring, or a magnet version where they have small magnets in each hand/paw so you can stick them to the fridge or any other magnetic metal!
It's like this monkey has a personality when he is given a name! I personally got mine from my fiancé as a gift for Christmas, and she had already named him Jeremy, which really suits him. Every time we see him or move him we automatically call him Jeremy - it's a little strange!
By the way, he is most definitely a lot more fluffier than the picture shown above - although I do have the 'hanging' version but I'm pretty sure that doesn't make a difference!
Overall, I think this adorable monkey by Nici is of an incredibly high quality, make excellent gifts and are certainly worth the money.
http://www.nici.de/index.php?id=25 - A well presented list of all the Nici characters.
http://www.plushpaws.co.uk/ - A popular and well priced UK Supplier of Nici.
I love Iced Coffee, and after experimenting for a while, I came up with a perfect recipe!
-Vanilla/Chocolate Ice Cream
-A blender/smoothie maker
1. Make your coffee: I found the easiest way was to make a standard mug-full of strong black coffee with no sugar, use 2/3 teaspoons of coffee, otherwise you'll lose the taste of it once you've mixed it all together! Pour the mug-full in to the jug, and repeat the process depending on how much iced coffee you want to make, or how strong you want the iced coffee to be. Feel free to put more/less coffee in... it's your drink after all!
2. Leave the coffee out for a while to cool down, then place the jug in the fridge for a couple of hours until it's cold. Come back when it's done... I personally made the coffee and put it in the fridge in the evening and finished my drink off the next day!
3. Now you have to melt some ice cream! Use how ever many scoops you want to... I use quite a lot as I like my iced coffee nice and thick, and creamy! Leave the scoops in the blender for a while to soften up, then when the time comes, switch that blender on! Then add some milk, and repeat the process until you're happy with it! ...Don't forget to put the blenders' lid on!
4. Now you have a nice creamy drink, add the coffee. you might have to do it in two or maybe three lots depending on how much coffee you made! It should look quite thick... if it's to thick for you, add some more coffee or milk. Keep tasting the iced coffee during the process as you may like yours differently to mine!
5. Pour the drink into your jug, and put in the fridge for a while. Finished!
-Vanilla/Chocolate Ice Cream
-Square of chocolate, biscuit or similar
1. I personally like to chill my glass before serving, mine are usually chilled because the cupboard they're in gets so cold, but if not put it in the fridge for a bit to cool it down.
2. Get one scoop of your chosen ice cream and plop it in the bottom of the glass.
3. Grate half of your chocolate, biscuit or similar on to the ice cream.
4. Drop 1 or 2 iced cubes in to your glass.
5. Slowly pour your iced coffee in to the glass.
6. Grate the rest of your chocolate, biscuit or similar on the top of your iced coffee.
7. Dunk in a straw or two, and serve!
Just Friends is a hilarious half-romantic comedy written by Adam 'Tex' Davis and directed by Roger Kumble. I saw it a couple of years ago not long after it's release date (6th January 2006), but have recently watched Just Friends again with my girlfriend.
Chris Brander is an obese high school student in New Jersey, and as you can probably guess from the title 'Just Friends' has a secret crush on his best friend Jamie Palamino. It's the year of 1995; Chris and Jamie have just graduated from high school, which of course means a house party! Jamie decides to host a party, and Chris feels this is the night to tell Jamie the truth - well, instead of telling her the truth he decides to write down the truth in her yearbook. The upcoming events were a little predictable - Jamie's ex-boyfriend (who happens to be an American Football player, as most boyfriends are in these Teen American comedies) gets a hold of the yearbook, thinking it was his own. Before we know it, he's up on the balcony reading Chris' feelings out to the rest of the school! Chris storms home, not wanting to talk to anyone...
10 years later, we find out that Chris is no longer obese, and is a highly successful record producer. He hangs about with all the popular pop-stars, and doesn't even think of going back home to New Jersey. Chris is assigned a task, and has to take the up and coming pop singer Samantha James to Paris to sign a deal. This doesn't go to plan after the incredibly annoying, stuck-up Samantha sets their private jet on fire because she didn't remove foil from her microwaveable meal.
The plane obviously had to land, and the closest airport just happened to be right by Chris' home town in New Jersey. He decides to face the humiliation he left behind all those years ago and stay at home for the night - taking Samantha and her incredibly annoying voice with him! They decide to go to the local bar, and runs in to some old friends who got married, and of course the love of his life, Jamie - who's working as a bartender as whilst she's at university (although she doesn't seem to be there very much)!
I'll leave the rest for your imaginations, or of course you can always watch the film! Let's just put it this way, he once again falls in love with Jamie, and his chances seem to be a lot better this time. But can he crack whilst there's another guy chasing Jamie, and whilst he has to babysit Samantha as if she's a five year old girl?
Ryan Reynolds -- Chris Brander
Amy Smart -- Jamie Palomino
Anna Faris -- Samantha James
Chris Klein -- Dusty Lee Dinkleman
Chris Marquette -- Mike Brander
Julie Hagerty -- Carol Brander
Stephen Root -- KC
Fred Ewanuick -- Clark
Amy Matysio -- Darla
Jacob Anderson -- Mr. Palomino
Maria Arcé -- Athena
Ty Olsson -- Tim
I think all the characters in this film, especially Chris, Jamie and Samantha were played incredibly well. I personally don't have a clue how they filmed this - if I had anything to do with it I'd end up laughing in every scene and having to start over! I'm not really familiar with any of the actors (other than Anna Faris), but would love to see them in more comedies!
Deleted scenes (10 mins)
11 'Behind The Scenes' featurettes!
'Jamie Smiles' music video
I'm not entirely sure how much we paid for the DVD, but probably about £10 as we got it when it was quite a new release. You can pick it up for a mere £5 from Play.com now, but can probably find it a little cheaper used!
To conclude, Just Friends is a great movie. I'd say it's suitable for the whole family as it can be enjoyed by virtually anyone. There's a few jokes that I'm sure the kids won't understand, but there's most definielty plenty for them that they'll love, such as when Chris (who plays ice hockey as a hobby - and is good at it) can't skate on his 'rentals' when he visits home and ends up having to go to hospital after he knocks him self out! It's not so much a romantic comedy, because I don't personally think there's all that much romance in it, but it's a great film and I do recommend you watch it!
I've seen Along Came Polly at least a few times now since its release, and I personally love it. I watched it again the other night with my girlfriend and her mum, and I think it's safe to say that they both thoroughly enjoyed the movie too. Who wouldn't love a film with two of the greatest performers of all time; Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston - doesn't get much better than that!
The film starts off with Reuben Feffer and Lisa Kramer getting married - all goes to plan... until Reuben walks in on his new wife sleeping with a scuba instructor (who just happens to be a nudist!) on the first day of their honeymoon! Now I know you're asking, why wasn't Reuben there in the first place? Well he works for an insurance company as a risk analyst... everything he does in a day he puts into some computer software to find out what option is apparently less risky (this of course doesn't take him long to get in trouble).
Reuben obviously couldn't stand up to what his wife did, so travelled home and tried to get his life back on track. His best friend, Sandy Lyle, invites him out to a party, where Reuben then discovers an old class mate, Polly Prince, to which Reuben feels a connection straight away. The storyline is pretty much about Reuben trying his very hardest to get the incredibly risky Polly Prince to like him. Of course, to make the film hilariously funny, Reuben has to put up with all the risks of eating hot, spicy Indian foods (Reuben has a bowel problem), eating peanuts from a stall from which hundreds of people have had their unwashed hands in, and even make friends with Polly's pet Ferret.
Ben Stiller plays as the main character Reuben Feffer. As per usual, the performance is amazing and makes virtually everyone laugh throughout the whole film. There's many scenes in the movie which make me laugh over and over again, a couple of which are when Reuben eats something that upsets his stomach, and ends up having to use Pollys Grandmothers hand-embroidered towel when there's no toilet roll left, and to list one more when Reuben learns Salsa dancing and ends up showing off to the whole Salsa club! Great performance, brilliant actor and director John Hamburg couldn't have made a better choice!
Friends star Jennifer Aniston plays the incredible, risk-taking, ferret loving Polly Prince. As always, along with Ben Stiller, her performance is top notch - just as you expect it to be after watching hours and hours worth of Friends. She plays Pollys well built up character as if she's being herself, which is always great to see in a film. Once again, John Hamburg made an excellent choice. Lets hope to see Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston in more movies together soon!
Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Reubens best friend Sandy Lyle, and Debra Messing plays Reubens cheating wife Lisa Kramer. Both of these performances were acceptable, but I think they could have been a lot better and the characters themselves could have been developed a little more, as they do annoy me a little! However, it's still a great movie!
I'm not sure of the ferrets' real name (as I'm yet to watch the special feature about him), but in the movie it's called Rodolfo - he had to be mentioned as he is blind, runs into absolutely everything and gives Reuben the shock of his life when he crawls underneath the door when he's on the loo! Excellent!
I can't write all that much about the soundtrack as it's by several different bands, and was never released as a CD. All the music is incredibly suitable for the film though, and I don't once remember hearing a song that sounded out of place.
As in all my review, I'll let you work out what the special features are about, as they're all pretty self explanatory:
*Audio commentary from director John Hamburg
*Original opening of the film with optional audio commentary
*Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary
*'Making Of' featurette
*Rodolfo goes to Hollywood
*Theatrical teaser trailer
This DVD is a bargain as it was released back in 2004. It's available brand new on DVD for £4.99 from Play.com, or you can pick it up in perfect condition for £2.20 (at the moment), again from Play.com.
Well, what can I say? I've seen this film at least once a year since its release, and it has to be in my top 10 of comedy. Well to be honest, most films with Ben Stiller in are! It's full of action packed, not only hilariously funny, but embarrassingly funny scenes too! It's great for anyone interested in comedies, or of course fans of the hugely successful Ben Stiller or Jennifer Aniston. Great film and I can truly say you haven't lived if you haven't seen this!
*PLEASE NOTE: This is a review about the movie dvd 'About A Boy'. I accidentally posted it in the wrong section but hopefully it'll be moved soon! Sorry!*
Growing up has nothing to do with age.
I've seen this movie quite a few times, one being when it was first released on the 26th of April, 2002. For those that don't know, the film is based on a novel (also called About A Boy) written by Nick Hornby. I can't comment on the book as I am yet to read it, but most definitely will after re-watching About A Boy after discovering my girlfriend hasn't seen it!
Will Freeman is a happily unemployed, relaxed man in his late 30's (38 to be exact). He lives in London, and survives purely off a one hit wonder Christmas song that his father wrote. His life consists of many things, which he likes to call units: Shopping, Exercise (Snooker), Drinking Music, Bathing, Smoking and watching TV (usually Countdown). He doesn't like the idea of settling down (or responsibility for that matter). He is, however, a successive womaniser and all he really wants is sex.
After one of his friends (who has a career and started a family - just thought I should mention that) sets him up with a friend of hers, he decides to accept the offer and go on a date with her. However, it doesn't take him too long to realise that she's a single mum... So anyway, after a satisfying fling with a single mum (which ended up with Will getting dumped, the complete opposite of what usually happens), he decided to join a group called SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) to try and hook up with some more single mothers! He lies to them all, telling them that he has a 2 year old son called Ned, by the end of the first group meeting he has a date arranged with a nice woman called Suzie. The date arrives, and Will unexpectedly ends up going on a day trip to the park with Suzie, Suzies daughter and one of Suzies friends son, Marcus.
After a not so entertaining day for Will, where he has not only suffered from sitting in a park eating picnics, but also covering for twelve year old Marcus after throwing his mums (Fiona) home made bread at a duck and killing it. After this event, they head back to Marcus' house to find that his mother Fiona had attempted to commit suicide. This is where it all begins - the dead duck day.
The rest of the film is packed full of hilarious moments... Will is trying to disown his imaginary son Ned, and unpredictably becomes friends with Marcus. He finds out that he's having an incredibly hard time at school with bullies, so he teaches Marcus how to be a 'cool kid', in return Marcus tries to teach Will some manners and how to become a decent, loving bloke.
There are a few well known names in About A Boy, one of the biggest being Hugh Grant who plays the marvellous, well developed character 'Will Freeman'. After his huge success in Bridget Jones's Diary in 2001, directors Chris & Paul Weitz (who happen to be brothers) couldn't even think of anyone else to play the role of Will. Hugh acts amazingly well in About A Boy, and I personally have to say that this performance has to be one of his best! After a little research, I even found out that Hugh Grant himself said that his performance in this film was the one performance that he is most proud of, so it explains how good he is if any of you have seen any of his other movies.
The twelve year old boy Marcus is played by the (at the time) infamous actor Nicholas Hoult. Previously he had only really been in TV Shows such as Holby City and Waking the Dead, so this was his first premiere movie. All I can really say is how fantastic his performance as Marcus was! I thought the scene where he was walking down the school corridors singing Shake Ya Ass whilst listening to a rap CD Will bought him for Christmas was absolutely hilarious and I honestly don't think the film would have been as good if anyone but Nicholas Hoult was chosen for this movie! For those that still don't have a clue who Nicholas is, he is now more commonly known as Tony from the popular UK series Skins.
Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz were also in About A Boy. Toni plays the role of suicidal hippy mother Fiona, and Rachel Weisz as again another single mother who Will falls in love with. Both of these performances I think were very good, although it would have been nice to see and hear a bit more from The Mummy star Rachel Weisz as she probably only had 15 minutes (if that) screen time.
The soundtrack was written and composed by artist Badly Drawn Boy with help from London Metropolitan Orchestra and Jonathan Rees. The soundtracks CD has been described as an excellent follow up to Badly Drawn Boys debut album, even though it is a soundtrack! Although I haven't listened to the album, I remember liking all the music in film and would happily give the album a listen. Actually, I might have to considering you can pick the 16 track CD up used for just over £2 at Play.com!
The music in About A Boy also consists of rap, rock and even Christmas music, but unfortunately this wasn't released on a separate soundtrack!
There are several additional bonus features on the DVD which are not only funny but are also interesting. There definitely worth a watch if you have the time - I personally haven't watched all the bonus material yet but will try to remember to when and if I ever have the time! I won't explain which each one is as they're all pretty self explanatory.
Feature Commentary with directors Chris & Paul Weitz
Making of About A Boy
Deleted Scenes with Directors Commentary
Badly Drawn Boy Music Videos
Born in the UK - Interview with Badly Drawn Boy
I'm not quite sure how much we paid for our copy of the DVD as we got it when it was released, but I imagine we paid a good £10 for it, but I don't regret it! You can now get this brand new for £5, or about £2 used from Play.com - bargain!
This film easily makes it in to my top 5 comedy films. It has me laughing almost the whole way through the movie every time I watch it, even when I know exactly what's coming! This is one that's great to watch with anyone, whether it's the whole family or just a quiet night in with your loved one! It won't disappoint with it's hilarious storyline and immaculate performances, I promise!
USB meets love!
So what is this weird USB Humping Dog I hear you asking...
Well, it's a miniature plastic dog with a USB shaft in between its legs. Shove its USB shaft into one of your USB ports and away it goes, humping your port for hours and hours on end! Well, more likely to be a minute (if that)!
The dog, as mentioned, is made out of plastic. It feels quite cheap, and its legs do tend to get stuck in the same position over and over again - but then again I suppose this only happens once every couple of minutes, and chances are you won't use it for longer than a minute at time, as it's just a novelty joke! So really, it doesn't solve any problems - it doesn't have a flash storage device, it doesn't light up, well to be honest it doesn't do anything other than hump your computer! It does however make you laugh; it's great for a novelty birthday gift or stocking filler. I personally received mine for my seventeenth birthday and I must admit me and everyone around me did laugh for quite a long time, and rushed to the nearest computer to check this pointless gadget out! We all cracked up with laughter, but a couple of minutes later we were back to our normal selves!
I've dug this gadget out a few times since then, usually just to show friends and family who haven't already seen it, as it does tend to put everyone in a happy mood! Another thing I must mention is the packaging: it comes in one of those cardboard/plastic packages, where you have to rip the plastic off and you're left with a pointless bit of card. This bit of card wasn't any old bit of card though, it had a hilarious vector background (for those that don't know what vector is, it's a type of illustration that includes blocks of colour). It was of a landscape with lots of hills, and it took a while to realise that the hills were actually cartoon breasts! This also made everyone laugh!
I personally have a black and white dog, but it is also available in dark brown and light brown, and brown and white.
To conclude, these stupid but hilarious gadgets won't be used much if you were to buy or receive one, but they do cheer everyone up and bring out the best in people. After thirty seconds or so they will get on your nerves with there continuous, incredibly noisy humping.
These will set you back £3.99 from Play.com which is a bargain compared to most other places that sell these for about £6.99. For £3.99 you can't really complain all that much, as I have mentioned several times they do make everyone laugh! However, you're probably better off spending £3.99 on a classic comedy DVD as it'll last a hell of a lot longer! These are great for a novelty gift though!
P.S. Alternatively, instead of wasting £3.99 on this product, you could just watch the video of the dog in action with added blur effects at the following address! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI-pct3zy18
Warrior. Legend. King.
- Introduction -
After watching The Mummy saga and being incredibly pleased with them, my girlfriend and I decided to watch The Scorpion King. The movie was released in 2002 just after The Mummy Returns was released in 2001. The film of course features The Scorpion King, who was resurrected in The Mummy Returns. This movie tells a story of a small section of The Scorpion Kings life back when he really alive.
- Plot -
It's ancient Egypt again; as always there is an evil king, this one named Memnon. His sorcerer, Cassandra, has psychic powers which give her the ability to see into the future. Memnon uses Cassandra to his advantage to stop attacks on his kingdom, to capture those that thieve and of course, to help him take over the world, as all greedy kings do.
Mathayus and his two brothers are Akkadian mercenaries, and are hired by a local 'tribe' to kill the sorcerer. Mathayus ended up with a lot more trouble than he expected. He wormed his way in to the kingdom to soon find out that the son of the father who hired him had betrayed the tribe and chopped of the head of his father, and obviously telling King Memnon that the Akkadian mercenaries were on there way to try and kill his precious sorcerer. Mathayus got the perfect opportunity to kill the sorcerer, but when he discovered that this sorcerer was actually a young, beautiful woman he soon had second thoughts - he got distracted and was soon captured. He had to go through the pain of watching his brother die, but this didn't stop him from fighting back. Cassandra, for some strange reason, protests against Mathayus' death, and tells the king that killing him would bring him and his army a great misfortune. Memnon, not being able to kill the mercenary himself, had him buried in the sand up to his neck and released thousands and thousands of flesh-eating fire ants so that they could feed on his head. With the help of a stranger who steals horses for a living named Arpid, he manages to escape but as a consequence has to promise to take this annoying horse thief on his adventure.
A few scenes down the line and Mathayus manages to capture the sorcerer to find that the reason she kept him alive was because she thought he was the only person who was not only strong enough, but clever enough to help her escape the evil king forever. The story continues from here, and instead of Mathayus killing the sorcerer, he now works together with the sorcerer, the tribe, and the tribes' leader Balthazar to try and kill the evil king.
- Cast -
I think all the actors in this film performed well, although there are a few characters (mainly the kings soldiers) that could have played there part a little better but this doesn't affect the film too much as none of them have more than a couple of minutes filming time, and even then they're only get a few words in.
Mathayus, played by Dwayne Johnson - more commonly known as The Rock from his earlier career as a wrestler in the WWF (now known as the WWE) sticks to his normal action-packed non-stop fighting role in The Scorpion King as he fights his way through an entire army. His performance is again excellent here, and I honestly don't think writer Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) and director Chuck Russell could have chosen picked anyone better for the part of The Scorpion King.
Memnon was played by an actor I'm unfamiliar with called Steven Brand. After a little research I discovered that he's starred in quite a few TV show such as The Bill, Doctors, Still Life and CSI. He played his role very well and to me he seemed as if he was being himself - but I'm sure he's a nice person at heart! Another great performance!
Michael Clarke Duncan I recognised from The Green Mile, Planet of the Apes and of course his speciality of doing the voices for animated movies and series' such as Cats & Dogs, Family Guy, Brother Bear and Kung Fu Panda. He plays the tribes leader Balthazar in The Scorpion King, and just like The Rock and Steven Brand, does an incredible job! Although I don't remember which parts of the film made me laugh, I do remember that all the comedy moments had something to do with Mr Duncan!
The last performance I think I should I mention is Hawaiian Kelly Hu. I am unfamiliar with the name but when I saw her on screen I strangely recognised her face. Of course I jumped online to find that she was in one of my old favourite Jet Li films, Cradle 2 the Grave, and she even did the voiceover to one of my favourite games on the Xbox 'Star Wars - The Sith Lords'. She plays the sorcerer Cassandra who in the end falls in love with Mathayus. Her acting skills were incredibly good in this movie and played the role of Cassandra perfectly. I'm looking forward to seeing her in a film being released later this year called The Tournament.
- Special Effects -
The special effects are limited in The Scorpion King, which to be honest pleased me after watching The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (read my review about this)! It was good to see that the director Chuck Russell cared about the storyline and the performances, and mainly concentrated on these rather than focusing on only the special effects! Special effects are great, but nowadays a lot of directors go a little overboard! There are a few special effects, but nothing too amazing.
- Soundtrack -
The soundtrack, unlike The Mummy series, used previous songs rather than having someone compose music specifically for the movie. I liked pretty much all the songs used in the movie, but it is a little far fetched considering they're all hard rock/metal, and we're watching a movie that's meant to be set in Ancient Egypt... However, the album is good and it features some well known bands such as System of a Down, Nickelback, Rob Zombie and Ozzy Osbourne. The 16 track CD can be purchased from Play.com for £7.99.
- DVD Features -
There are several decent features on the DVD to keep you busy after you've watched the film, these include:
Feature commentaries: Listen to what both people behind the making of the film and the actors have to say.
Outtakes: View deleted scenes that weren't included in the final movie.
Alternate versions of key scenes: View different versions of scenes that weren't chosen.
'I Stand Alone' Godsmack music video: View the music video for 'I Stand Alone' by Godsmack.
'The Making Of' featurette: View a video of how they made the movie.
Some other features the DVD has that I have not yet played about with are:
Shooting a fight sequence
The Rock and Michael Clarke Duncan
Working with animals
- Prices -
You can buy the DVD brand new from Play.com for £5.99, or alternatively buy it used with free P&P for around £2.75, again from Play.com! Bargain!
- Conclusion -
To conclude, I thought this was a brilliant film. It kept my eyes open and glued to the screen from beginning to end, even when I was eating my freshly baked bakewell tart! The performances were great, the fighting scenes were even better, and although the soundtrack was a little unrealistic for a film set in ancient times, it did suit the film very well. The only thing that did slightly confuse me, was how the portrayed The Scorpion King to be a really bad, evil person in The Mummy Returns, when in fact he was a hero. Buy hey, maybe all our questions will be answered in the prequel The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior which is due to be released later this year - it'll probably be rubbish though as The Rock isn't starring in it! I hate when they do that!
A New Evil Awakens.
- Introduction -
As you can probably guessed, I thought I'd review all The Mummy films in one week as I've just watched them all from start to beginning, including The Scorpion King. If you've read my two previous reviews you'll know that I watched the first two Mummys in order to go and see this at the movies with my girlfriend and her parents, so I was expecting quite a bit from it. I knew this wouldn't be nearly as good as the first two movies, mainly because Evy's character wasn't played by the excellent Rachel Weisz, but instead Maria Bello.
- Plot -
As all the previous movies in The Mummy saga, there's again a short scene at the beginning of the movie. This time the film is based around the Emperor of China (That's right, China) called Han - he was known as the Dragon Emperor as he conquered all his enemies and buried the majority of them under The Great Wall of China. He mastered the five elements, but wasn't immortal, so anyone still had a slight chance of killing him although it was incredibly unlikely. He asked for help from a witch called Zi Yuan, knew a lot about the secret of immortality. Han, as most emperors and leaders do, set one of their soldiers, or in this case his second commander General Ming, to help Zi Yuan with her research. Zi Yuan and General Ming fell in love, and it didn't take Han long to discover this as he also sent a spy along to keep an eye on the couple. Han kept quiet about their secret though, and waited it out, at least until they had discovered the secret. Before long, they'd found out the spell that would cast immortality on the evil emperor. Han orders her to cast the spell on him, so she does... or does she? A couple of minutes later and we're shown the two standing on a balcony, with Zi Yuans new lover being held captive right before her eyes. Han gives her a choice of either marrying him, or watching General Ming die. She get's angry, and refuses to marry Han, and unfortunately has to watch her new man get pulled in to two pieces by horses. Zi Yuan must of known something bad was going to happen, as she quickly flees after telling the dragon emperor that she didn't set the immortality spell on him, but instead a curse on his army, that'll turn them all in to terracotta.
It's now 1946, 13 years after the O'Connells previous adventure in The Mummy Returns, and I must mention that Rick O'Connell has aged incredibly well! Rick, Evy and Jonathan had all retired and all secretly miss their adventures. Evy is now an author who wrote two amazing books about their previous two adventures (which of course can be seen in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns), but had promised her wide-audience a third book. Rick, however, didn't really have a hobby and has to pretend that he enjoys fishing - instead he gives up every time and ends up shooting at the river to try and kill the fish! Jonathan, Evys brother, got what he wanted (lots of money), and opened a night club in China. Their son, Alex, is obviously 13 years older, and he now has turned in to the adventurer - he's currently in China staying with his Uncle Jonathan, but both his parents think he's still at college.
An old friend of the family, pays a visit to the O'Connells (Rick & Evy) telling them that they need their help to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China as a good faith to the Chinese people. Of course, what ancient artefact doesn't cause problems these days? They finally agree to take it back to China, and the next thing we know they're at the Imhotep Night Club, which is the nightclub that Jonathan owns - original name!
Alex, who founded the tomb of the dragon emperor, was in fact tricked, along with his parents who had to bring The Eye of Shangri-La back to China - which happened to be the key to open the tomb. Before we know it, the tomb is open and the emperor rises once again, along with his 10,000 man terracotta army! It's up to Rick, Evy, Alex, Jonathan, Zi Yuan (who is immortal herself, which is why she's still alive), Zi Yuans immortal Daughter Lin, and the Yeti (yes, you read that right) to save the world and put The Dragon Emperor and his army back in the ground where they belong. To make things better, they only have a limited time to destroy the army, because as soon as the terracotta army cross the great wall, they become invincible. The war begins...
- Cast -
For the third time in The Mummy Saga, Brendan Fraser puts on an excellent, solid performance. I think it's great that he's stuck with the series, and he is his usual self returning as adventurer Rick O'Connell - by his usual self I mean, acting in the same brilliant way he performed in the previous Mummy films. I thought he was a little funnier in this film, especially when he tries shooting at the fish near the beginning of the movie as I mentioned earlier... Once again, he's perfect.
There are a few problems with this film, but the main one being the incredibly deep hole left by Rachel Weisz not being in the cast list. The film would have been a lot better with her, but hey, if she says she has different interests, we have to live with it. Instead, Evy was played by a actress called Maria Bello, who I hadn't even heard of before. She isn't a bad actress, but this definitely isn't her type of film. Maybe if they used her from the first Mummy, it would have worked - but swapping actresses half way through a series just doesn't work! She was nothing like the Evy we all knew and loved, but instead far too posh and stuck-up for my liking.
John Hannah was again exceptionally good and again very, very funny (especially when he shouts out "Die you Mummy bastards!") The Australian Luke Ford got the part to play the O'Connell's son Alex, now that his all grown up and all. His performance was average, it probably could have been better but I feel that's more down to the script rather than Ford himself. Another new addition was the Famous Jet-Li - I'm sure you don't need an explanation to who he is. He of course played Chinese Emperor Han. He didn't actually appear all that much in the movie, and when he did he was usually covered and surrounded in special effects, so it's quite hard to comment on his performance as you can probably imagine.
- Special Effects -
Bloody amazing, excuse my French. The special effects are all over the place. Virtually all the villains in the movie (Han and his 10,000 men) were covered in effects. Han himself, was stone, but had of course mastered the five elements - however I didn't see any water! I felt the same thing happened as it did in The Mummy Returns, though, with the directors concentrating more on the special effects rather than the plot and performances. Yes, they are brilliant, and most action films these days would be a bit dull without them, but it makes people forget about the real talent in the movie - the actors! The Yetis and dragons in the film were of course computer generated, and they looked like actual animals. Rhythm and Hues studio did a great job at that, and of course so did Digital Domain with making Jet-Li not look like Jet-Li.
- Soundtrack -
This time the soundtrack was composed by Randy Edelman who used lots of different Chinese and Middle Eastern instruments, with a little bit of classic British folklore. John Debney provided a few tracks for the bigger battles in the film. The soundtrack is available for purchase for just below £9 at Play.com.
- DVD Features -
This I cannot do as the film hasn't yet been released on DVD! I can't find any rough estimates of when the DVD will be released either. However, when the DVD is released I'll most probably buy it even though the film was no where near as good as the first two. I'll update this at some point in the future.
- Prices -
Read above! ...Probably £5-£8 per ticket at the cinema, though!
- Conclusion -
To conclude, this is definitely worth a viewing if you're a fan of The Mummy series. I admit, it's no where near as good, especially with Rachel Weisz not appearing as Evy. I thought the dialogue was pretty rubbish and there was no chemistry between Rick and Evy even though they're meant to be married! The story was good, and the fighting scenes were excellent, but there's no way has this compared to the second of the series 'The Mummy Returns' and the even better original 'The Mummy'.
The most powerful force on earth is about to be unleashed by the two people who should know better.
- Introduction -
For those that haven't seen the original film, please go back to my profile and read that first! The Mummy released back in 1999 was a great film. I know most people, and me occasionally being one of them think a lot of sequels to movies are rubbish, especially compared to their originals. But this is where The Mummy Returns, released only 2 years after the original in 2001, is different. I watched this the night after The Mummy in time to see the new release The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor on the big screen!
- Plot -
Like the first Mummy, there's a scene at the beginning of the film that's set 5000 years prior to the story you're actually going to be watching - this just informs you a little about a villain you'll see later on in the movie called The Scorpion King (in which there was a spin off movie called The Scorpion King a year later in 2002). This opening scene is set in 3067 BC in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes where a warrior only known to us as The Scorpion King leads his incredibly strong army to conquer the city - as most of these Ancient Egyptian leaders do! Luckily, for us and our fellow members of the Thebe Army, the majority of The Scorpion Kings army is killed, so he and his remaining soldiers retreat back into the desert of Ahm Shere. His only remaining soldiers die one by one from the obvious scorching heat and the lack of food and water, the not long after The Scorpion King was the only man left standing. He was slowing dying, so he decides to pray to the god of death, Anubis, and asks for his life to be exchanged for the power to defeat the soldiers of Thebes. He picked up a black scorpion that just happened to be running by his feet and ate it for a great oasis to form around him. He returns to Thebes with the Army of Anubis which looked like to me to be a never ending crowd of wounded soldiers.
Five hundred years later in 1933 (9 years later to their previous adventure 'The Mummy') and the stars of the movie Evy and Rick O'Connell are doing what they do best. This time they found an ancient chest in which contained the Bracelet of Anubis, which was in the shape of a Black Scorpion, immediately I knew what and who this linked too. Back at their incredibly large home in London, their son (a new character to the series), Alex, finds the bracelet and decides to put it on, not knowing some of the consequences of these ancient Egyptian items as he was not around 9 years earlier to experience his parents original adventure. When he puts the bracelet on, he is shown a virtual map which directs him to the oasis of Ahm Shere. By putting the bracelet on, Alex has set a timer - he has 7 days to get to Ahm Shere and enter a pyramid, if not The Scorpion King and his army will be awakened.
From here, the story starts to develop really fast. The next thing we know, Alex is kidnapped by an unholy Egyptian who has once again resurrected Imhotep's Mummy, who of course was seen in the original movie. The reason behind this is so that they can use Imhoteps unbelievable powers to kill The Scorpion King, capture his army and take over the world. The O'Connell's set out to save their son; their small army consists of Alex's parents Rick and Evy, Evy's helpless but hilarious brother Jonathan, and some extra help from the Medjai warrior that appeared in the previous film, Ardeth Bay.
As you can imagine, the events that follow this may give the story away a bit, but they need to stop The Scorpion King from being awakened and once again put Imhotep and his lover Anck-Su-Namun.
The cast are pretty much the same as the original movie back in 1999. These include the likes of Brenden Fraser, who again played one of the main role of Richard "Rick" O'Connell after director Stephen Sommers liked his performance in the film George of the Jungle prior to The Mummy in 1999. I feel in this he again performed incredibly well, and if anyone else were to be chosen the film probably would have gotten 3 out of 5 stars rather than 5 out of 5 which is what I've given this masterpiece of a movie.
Evelyn "Evy" Carnahan-O'Connell is once again played by Rachel Weisz who was very unfortunately not in the latest film 'The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor'. I saw the latest edition to the series earlier this week at the movies and can tell you now that without her it was no where near as good, even though Brendan Fraser and John Hannah were still in the film. Ms Weisz plays her character amazingly well again in The Mummy Returns and I still congratulate Stephen Sommers and James Jacks for choosing her to play the role of Evy.
Jonathan Carnahan is played by the marvellous actor John Hannah, who just like in the original Mummy is hilarious. The film wouldn't really have any humour in it if it wasn't for this guy, and what he does here in The Mummy Returns is what he does best, especially when he's playing the role for a man that can't fight who always manages to get himself stuck in situations that usually include several mummies. Another great aspect about his character is that he is obsessed with treasure and just wants an incredibly large fortune. For example near the end of the movie he is hanging from a floating ship, hanging on for dear life knowing all well that the pyramid below him is going to blow and second - yet he still dangles a little lower to pick up piece of treasure that's worth millions! This is John Hannah at his best, it really is.
Imhotep and Anck-Su-Namun are still played by Arnold Vosloo and Patricia Velásquez, both who play their roles very well. Freddie Boath played Alex O'Connell, and for a young boy I must say that he read Ancient Egyptian incredibly well. The new villain, The Scorpion King, is played by world famous wrestler 'The Rock'. I can't really comment on his performance too much as to be honest I can't even remember a word he says. He doesn't appear all that much in the film, only the part where he is awaken, and not long after destroyed before taking over the world.
- Special Effects -
The special effects in this movie are just as good as those seen in the original. The Rock, for example, was half man half scorpion. That for a starter looked amazing. The film is very modern and up to date with its special effects even though it's going on 8 years old! However, some of the special effects in this movie do feel like they're making the actors come second after the large amounts of impressive computer generated images, which did make me feel as if I was paying a lot more attention to the effects rather than the excellent performances in this movie.
- Soundtrack -
The soundtrack of The Mummy Returns is again available on CD - you can pick this up for just short of £10 from Play.com. Jerry Goldsmith composed the soundtrack for the first Mummy film, and fans say that the music in The Mummy was some of his best work. The same story is happening here, just with another composer! The music this time was composed by Alan Silvestri after Goldsmith turned the offer down to write music for the new hit film. He has a different approach to Goldsmith, but with 70minutes worth of amazing tracks to keep up with the pace of the fast, action-packed movie Silvestri did incredibly well, and his fans say it's some of his best work along with music for Cast Away and The Mexican.
- DVD Features -
The DVD of The Mummy Returns is a two disc blinder. It's packed full of features, including a DVD-ROM. The below features are all pretty self-explanotory so I won't bore you by blabbing on!
Audio Commentary from director Stephen Sommers and the cast
'Interview with The Rock' Featurette
'Spotlight on Location' Featurette
'The Scorpion King' Featurette'
'Egyptology 2001' Featurette
'The Chamber of Doom' Featurette
DVD-Rom Features include: Scorpion King footage, visual and special effects formations of Imhotep, the Pygmy Mummies, Anubis Warriors and the Scorpion King
Playstation 2 Game Trailer
Music Video: 'Forever May Not Be Long Enough'
- Prices -
You can The Mummy Returns (2 Discs) from Play.com for £6.99 brand new with P&P. I personally bought it used (as new condition) for £4 of Play.com. You should buy this, even if you have seen it before... bargain!
- Conclusion -
In my honest opinion, I think the first film was better than this one. The special effects are amazing in both films, but in this one I feel they took over the actors performances a little. Another thing I found when watching the film was that this one didn't glue my eyes to the screen - the storyline in the first film was much more appealing (to me, anyway!). A great movie though, and to me it still deserves the full 5 stars! Unmissable!
The sands will rise.
The heavens will part.
The power will be unleashed.
- Introduction -
The Mummy was released back in 1999 now, which to me, feels like a long time ago. I remember it being released, and wanting to watch it as soon as I could. I also felt the same for its sequel, The Mummy Returns, in 2001. However, I only just watched both of these films this week for the first time, 9 years down the line from their original release date. I finally decided to purchase and watch both DVD's in time to go and see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor with my girlfriend and her parents. What can I say...? I was impressed, very impressed!
- Plot -
The start of the movie begins in Egypt, as you most probably guessed, in 1290 BC - the time of Pharaoh Seti I. Imhotep, a high priest played by Arnold Vosloo, is having an affair with the Pharaohs mistress, Anck-Su-Namun who is played by Patricia Velasquez. This all ends in tears, well actually, a little more serious than that, it all ends in death. When Pharaoh Seti I finds out about the affair, Anck-Su-Numan murders him, and then commits suicide hoping for the love of her life to resurrect her. If you're one of the people who can't stand people dying, than coming back to live several times then you should probably stay clear of this movie, as quite a lot of this happens. But hey, after all, you probably knew that considering the film is titled 'The Mummy'. After a good five or ten minutes viewing, the movie starts getting somewhere after Imhotep is caught half way through the resurrection of Anck-Su-Numan, and is forced to undergo the dreaded curse of Hom Dai. Hom Dai is a curse where ones tongue is cut out, wrapped like a mummy and then buried alive, with a rather large group scarabs that live off human flesh. Yes, in real life he would die rather quickly, but that's where the curse comes in to play - the curse allows him to live an everlasting life... stuck in his tomb with lots of evil scarabs, of course! The consequences, however, are a little worse. If someone was to locate and release Imhotep, he would be immortal to mankind and have powers strong enough to kill the Earth. For those that haven't seen this film before, don't worry, I haven't ruined it for you. That was probably the first ten minutes of the film, and was just the opening scene so that the actual storyline of the movie makes a little more sense.
3,000 years later, Rick O'Connell (played by Brendan Fraser), an American, is captured (for reasons that you'll discover when you watch the movie). Egyptologist, and a Cairo librarian, Evelyn "Evy" Carnahan (played by Rachel Weisz), comes across a elaborate box and map that her brother, Jonathan (played by the hilarious John Hannah), claims to have found in Thebes. Evy examines the map, and finds out that it actually leads to Hamunaptra (a lost city where Imhotep was mummified), which is when Jonathan reveals that he actually pick-pocketed it from the prisoner I mentioned earlier, Rick - who was once in battle at Hamunaptra. They go and talk to Rick, and Evy makes a deal with him; if he helps her and Jonathan locate Hamunaptra, she'll convince the man in charge not to hang Rick. All goes to plan, and not long after they are under attack by the Medjai, which is an army protecting the city of Hamunaptra so that Imhotep isn't dug up.
The next thing you know, there's a lot of stuff to pay attention too. We're soon introduced to the 'Book of the Dead', which unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, Evy reads and unexpectedly awakens Imhotep from his tomb. There's only one way to kill the High Priest again, and that's by reading from the Book of Amon-Ra.
- Cast -
All the cast in The Mummy, I think, all performed extremely well, and at least in this film, were all very talented. The role of Rick O'Connell was also offered to the likes of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who are all very well-known actors. James Jacks, the producer of The Mummy, and the Director Stephen Sommers were both extremely happy with Brendan Fraser's performance in box office hit George of the Jungle, and of course the amount of the money the film made in the cinema, that they decided to choose George of the Jungle star Brendan Fraser to play the main role. In my opinion, I think they made a very good choice. He's different compared to the other actors that were offered the role and played his character better than I think anyone else would be able to; it was as if he was being himself throughout the whole movie!
Evelyn "Evy" Carnahan, as mentioned earlier is a Egyptologist. Rachel Weisz plays her role. Near the beginning of the movie, you see a scene where she somehow manages to knock down every single bookshelf in the library she works in, so as soon as we're introduced to her we know she's going to be a clumsy, yet amazing character. She again plays her role incredibly well, and it's a shame that she wasn't on the cast list of the third Mummy film... I'm not sure if the new blockbuster hit will be as good without her.
John Hannah is an excellent actor, and for me concludes that James Jacks and Stephen Sommers made perfect choices when choosing the cast for three of the main roles in the movie. As mentioned earlier in the review, he plays Evys brother, Jonathan Carnahan. He doesn't really care about the history of Egypt, just the fortune that he knows is buried out there in never-ending desserts. He is hilarious in this movie, and had me and my girlfriend laughing several times - although I must admit I laughed a lot more as she has seen the movie a good twenty odd times... She even knows some of the ancient Egyptian lines in the movie which the director had to hire a professional real-life Egyptologist for!
The rest of the cast were all very talented, and I was extremely happy to hear that all the characters were played by the same actors/actresses in The Mummy Returns - unfortunately there have been a few changes in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
- Special Effects -
There are some amazing special effects in the movie, and this isn't surprising as Mr John Andrew Berton, the visual effects supervisor of Industrial Light & Magic (who are a company who specialize in effects like the ones seen in The Mummy) started working on Imhoteps Mummy three whole months before the filming even began. A whopping fifteen million US Dollars was spent on the special effects alone, but it's safe to say it was worth the money. The film, like most films these days, used a combination of both real life acting and computer graphics merged in to one. There's a section in the DVD's special features that shows a recording of Imhotep eating a Scarab bug, although there is actually no bug. They show the different stages of how it was recorded, then what it looked like when they added the Mummy 'mask' to his face, and then the final outcome when the bug crawls through a hole in his cheek, of course with crunching sound of the bug when he squashes it in his mouth. Overall the special effects are brilliant, and all the actors did extremely well acting when half the things they were 'interacting' with, weren't even there!
- Soundtrack -
The music to the film is very suitable, and made every moment even more tense than it already was, and even though your eyes will already be glued to the screen, the excellent soundtrack will make them even more secure. The music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and although I am unfamiliar with him, after a few searches it is clear his fans think this is some of his best work of the 90's. Alexander Courage also helped Goldsmith with the soundtrack as he provided him with some additional orchestrations. Decca Records released the 15 track CD back in 1999, and it's still widely available from most online stores.
- DVD Features -
*Animated Menus - The DVD has excellent animated menus that keep your eyes glued to the screen as soon as you switch your TV on.
*Egyptology 101 facts - Here you can find out a little about Egypt and its history and be on your way to fighting real life mummies!
*Deleted Scenes - There are two deleted scenes that you can watch, both of which are only a couple of minutes each. They're worth a watch because there's a couple of lines that made me laugh!
*Visual and Special Effects - This special feature really made me amazed. I wasn't sure how they did all the effects and was thinking to myself during the movie how they managed it, and then I found out how!
*Directors Commentary (Stephen Sommers) - Here you can view the film again but without its original audio. Instead, you can listen to Stephen Sommers commentate every second of the film. I can't really comment too much on this as I haven't had the time to view it yet.
*Cast and Filmmaker's Notes - This is pretty self-explanatory really!.
*Theatrical Trailer - You can also view the original Theatrical Trailer that was shown on TV all those years ago!
- Prices -
You can buy this DVD for £3.99 new at Play.com, or go up in the world and buy the uncut edition for £6.99, which is wish I did!
- Conclusion -
This film is a MUST see. The storyline is amazing, it's full of full-on Mummy fighting action, comedy like moments, excellent acting skills and amazing special effects. This has easily jumped in to my top ten movies, which is a hard thing to do as I am such a big horror (zombies, slasher) fan - a film with not much gore usually struggles getting up there in my top ten, which goes to show how good this film really is. Expect your eyes to be glued to the screen and your bottom to your seat as you sit through the whole 125 minutes of pure excellence.
P.S. This has easily qualified as the review I've spent the most on, I spent a good 2-3 hours over two nights writing this, and have just come back to add a few bits that the film guide said should be included (special effects and soundtrack). If there's something you think should be here, please let me know so I can update the review. Thank you!
- Introduction -
The Logic 3 Soundstation 2 is a 2.1 sound system which is probably Logic3s best seller of the year 2000. It was originally released for use with Sony's incredibly popular Playstation 2, as you can probably tell by both the design of the system and it's name. However, it can be used with any consoles, your computer or anything else with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
- Connections/Setting It Up: 1/10 -
There's 3 sockets on the back of the systems subwoofer. One for the main power, one for the stereo output and one for the stereo input. It's very easy to set up... Plug the mains in, plug the speakers in, and then plug your input device in, and away you go! If you're hoping to connect this system to a console, you'll have to connect it via a scart socket. This is as a special scart adapter is included in the Soundstation 2's box, and without it (unless there's another lead you can buy), it's impossible to connect any other way. That's really the only problem with this product, as I use high definition cables to connect my Xbox 360 to my TV, not scart connections - meaning I can't use it!
You can, however, use the Soundstation 2 for your computer, or anything else with a 3.5mm headphone jack. I use to use the speakers with my laptop, but I don't any more as I listen to all my music through my Xbox 360 (using media sharing), therefore putting these away in storage to save space!
- Sound Quality: 9/10 -
Simply amazing. For a product that costs hardly anything nowadays, the sound quality is excellent. You can turn its 3 Watt satellite speakers up to (almost) full (via the bigger knob on the subwoofer) and the sound will be extremely good. It's 20 Watt subwoofer definitely makes playing games, watching movies and listening to music a better experience, and if it gets too much you can always turn it down a notch via the small knob. The subwoofer also makes quite a good fan if you stand in front of it when you max out your music - that just goes to show how powerful this system really is!
- Design: 5/10 -
It's quite a sturdy sound system, but the speakers are very light which causes them to fall over very easily, especially if something hits them. The subwoofer, however, is a lot heavier and I highly doubt anything would knock it over unless something equally as heavy hits it! It's made out of plastic, but doesn't feel very strong. You could probably tread on a speaker and put your foot through it, or at least crack it... One of my speakers also has a few scratch marks on it from where I put my keys on it, so the plastic is pretty soft too. The design itself, was made to fit in with the Sony PS2 console, so it doesn't always look too great if you hook it up with your 360 (but hopefully everyone uses High Definition with their 360's by now!). The speakers have quite long wires, so you can spread them out a bit if you wish. However, the soundstations power cable isn't that long, so if you wish to put it on a high desk you need to have a extension lead. You can get this in either black or silver.
- Price & Tech Specs -
I bought this for about £50 when it was released years ago. However, you pick one up second hand on eBay for about a tenner (+P&P). I can't find anywhere off or online that actually sells these brand new any more, so if you're looking for a new system, this probably isn't for you.
Product Type: Multimedia speaker system
Enclosure Material: Plastic
Media Type: 2 speakers, subwoofer
Speaker Type: Active
Nominal Output Power (Total): 26 Watt
Output Features: Bass Reflex
Audio Amplifier: Integrated
Connectivity Technology: Wired
Controls: Power on/off, volume, bass, Volume, bass
Magnetic Shield: Yes
Max Output Power: 26 Watt:
1 x subwoofer - 20 Watt - wired
2 x satellite speaker -3 Watt - wired
- Conclusion -
This is an excellent speaker system so long as it fits your needs. It's very good quality, and its bass can blow you away. As far as I know it can only be connected via scart if you want to use it with your consoles, but it is excellent for use with your computer. I only wish I could find a use for it, instead of it sitting in storage - so if you really want one, you know who to ask!
I joined up to homepages friends only a few days ago, and already feel I know enough about the site to share my experience and opinions with you.
For those that don't know, myhpf.co.uk is a website that pays you for searching the internet. Sounds fabulous, does it not? If you're anything like me, you search the internet probably 20-50 times a day, now imagine getting paid 2-4pence for every search you made? I know it doesn't sound like much, but times this by say 50 searches a day, and you could be earning £2 a day for doing absolutely nothing - well apart from what you would do any way!
Now of course, there are always let downs! So I'll quickly run you through them without trying to bore you too much... First things first, is the actual website itself. First of all, the logo you can see at the top of this page... It states that the website is homepagesfriends.com, type that into your address bar and you'll get nothing! To make matters worse, the logo on the actual site (myhpf.co.uk) says homepages-friends.co.uk - guess what? That doesn't work either! So that's the first thing that annoys me about the site... It doesn't seem very professional whatsoever, and I think they really need to sort this out along with some of the other problems they have:
-The fact that you can click on the login page even though you're already logged in.
-How to log-in, you need to visit the register page first.
-The incredibly poor navigation menu, which to be honest is a little confusing until you get use to what you have to click on.
-Not having the option to change your password; they give you a random one which you always have to go back in to your inbox to copy and paste!
So it does have it's problems, but overtime I'm hoping they'll fix these!
When I first heard about this site, I though I was going to have to go onto a web page every time I had to search instead of using the search bar in my Firefox window! If that was the case, there'd be no way I'd ever remember to search! Instead, you can simple add the search bar to your already existing search bar (I'm not sure about internet explorer, but on firefox you can click on a button next to the search bar and select from a number of search engines such as google, yahoo, msn, ebay, amazon etc). So all you have to do is set the search engine as your default, type in your search, hit enter and you got paid. Just to warn you though, they do hunt down the people who don't actually click on the links and just search random things over and over again.
I guess you want to know what search engine they use? We all have our favourite search engines, and I'm incredibly disappointed to say that they use one of the worse, that's right, you guessed it, Yahoo Search Engine - Eurgh! I'm not sure about you, but I hate Yahoo's Search Engine, I sometimes search through it, find absolutely nothing that I wanted to find, do a quick search Google using the same term and then immediately find exactly what I was looking for.
So, yes, it does have it's let downs but remember you are getting paid for doing virtually nothing, and you can even earn money for family and friends that also use the same computer! I'm not fortunate enough to do this though as I own my own laptop, and I'm generally the only person to use it apart from my girlfriend who uses it now and again.
Your account gets credited for each search 24 hours after you hit the enter button, and you get paid once you've received £20, which does seem a little too much for a minimum payout for a site like this, but I suppose at least then you'll have a decent amount to spend when you do finally receive your cash, which can take quite a long time. They pay you either by PayPal or BAC (Bank Transfer) which are both really good ways of paying the users in my opinion. Quick and hassle free!
...Well not so much quick in this case. Myhpf.co.uk pay you 45 days after the end of the month you have exceeded the minimum payout. So if you have exceeded the minimum payout of £20 by the last day (the 31st) of January, you'll receive your payment sometime in the middle of March! It's quite a long time to wait, but I guess if you don't pay too much attention to it and don't get impatient, the time will come quick and in the end it will feel like some incredibly kind stranger has just deposited a £20 note in your bank account for no apparent reason!
There's also a referral system where you can earn some more money. You receive a percentage of every referred members search, so if they search 50 times a day too, at 4pence a search you can be earning 10% of this, equalling a grand total of 10pence! You also get 5% of the friends your friends invite, and another 2.5% for your friends friends friends. Imagine if everyone referred 100 people! Ah, dream on! I'm struggling to get one! So if you want to sign up using my referral link so that this time next year we'll all be millionaires, send me a message!
I actually don't know what to call this, I know people who call them pen drives, some that call them usb sticks, usb flash drives... the list goes on, but whatever you call them, I own a few different ones, and this is probably my favourite because of it's looks, but the most annoying because of what it does...
Let's start with the looks. It's a small design, and as you can see is pretty modern and stylish! It does feel very durable, and I have dropped it several times and no damage has been done. There's a slider on the usb pen that is easily slid from one side to another, this of course 'ejects' the usb from it's shell so you can simply put it in to the usb port. This is one of the things I love most about this product, all my other pen drives have lids. That's right, small, tiny lids, that you put on the side, turn round and the next thing you know they're gone! An absolute nightmare, once you've lost a lid they never seem to return, and without a lid your usb is easily going to get damaged. All these problems are erased with SanDisk's excellent solution. On the back of the pen drive is the SanDisk logo, followed by the U3 Smart logo (which we'll come to later) and in small writing are the products serial number, where the products made (china, obviously), and a few small symbols you see on most products. On the front of the pen drive to the left of the slider lays the products name 'cruzer' in a stylish font, and on the right of the slider lays micro 8gb (or whatever size you have) in the same stylish font. It fits in your hand nicely, and is extremely easy to insert into the usb port as expected!
Now for the thing that irritates me... When you insert the product, as long as you are using some of the latest operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows Vista, two auto play menus will pop up. Yeah, that's right... two. One for the actual pen drive where you store all your files, and the other acts as if a cd/dvd has just been inserted into your drive...
For the actual storage device, you can simple open it up as if it were a normal hard drive and copy and paste, or drag and drop items on to it. You can even save files from the internet straight into it, you can't get much easier!
As for this U3 System you're still wondering about, it's a little more complicated. If you launch 'U3', a little logo appears on the right hand side of your task bar by the clock. This built-in software allows you to download programs of the internet such as free virus protection programs, zipped file software such as winzip and winrar, and other little gadgets that often come in handy. These install straight onto your pen drive, which I have to admit is an excellent idea if that's what you need. The majority of us however own these pen drives as we want to simply store files on them so that we can transfer them to other computers, whether it be for school or work. The U3 System is all that much of a problem, if you don't want to use it, you just don't click on it, but it does occasionally pop up with updates that it 'needs' to install, which can be irritating if you just want to get on with what you're doing. And the most annoying thing is not having the option to delete this software... there it is just sitting there on your pen drive. You can right click and delete, but as soon as your pen drive is put back into your computer, it's reappeared again! Fortunately, it only takes up 1mb, but it's the fact that it's sitting there in my nicely organized folder that bugs me most.
Overall, I'd say it's the best pen drive on the market, even if it does come with an annoying piece of software that some of us don't require. It's very stylish and modern, looks great, doesn't have a lid and is available online and in some shops for a great price!
You can get it in Black, White and Titanium, and lots of different sizes including 1gb, 2gb, 4gb, 8gb and 16gb. You'll be looking at about £5 for the 1gb version, £30 for the 16gb version, and about £10 for the 8gb version if you buy them from Amazon.co.uk.
At the retail price of £130 in leading game stores such as GAME and Gamestation, most people think, including me, that this gadget is extremely overpriced. I do own this product, but only because it's standard with the Elite version of Microsoft's Xbox 360. There's no way I'd fork out this much cash for something that, lets face it, hardly anyone needs.
Of course, 120gb's isn't really all that much nowadays, with the amount of space modern software takes up, and not forgetting the huge amounts of music, videos and photos people store. But remember, this is Microsoft's Xbox 360 we're talking about here, not a PC.
The best feature of the 360's hard drive is that is saves your games, which means no more memory cards that cost a fortune if you're still a Playstation 2 fan! Your games save straight on to the hard drive, end of! You'll never fill up even a tenth of a 20GB hard drive though, so the 120GB hard drive obviously wasn't released for this reason.
Only those with hundreds of pounds to waste on downloadable content such as game expansion packs, standard definition or high definition movie rentals, arcade games or even original xbox games will get close to filling up this massive hard drive.
If you like to listen to music on your 360, this could be one of the excuses to use to buy this hard drive, but with Microsoft being extremely careful with the copyright laws, they only allow you to rip the CD's contents on to the hard drive other than copy and pasting from one place to another like we're so use to doing on our PCs, MP3 Players and other portable devices... So if this is the reason you want this hard drive, just keep in mind that it will take you hours and hours on end to transfer your music, even if you purchased your downloads legally through an online service such as iTunes!
This also means you can't put your photos or videos on your hard drive. In my opinion it's a lot easier just to stream your music, videos and photos through a wired or wireless network. This saves you a lot of money as you can share your PC's hard drive with your 360's instead of forking out for this product. I find it's a lot easier, and you can view videos etc on any computer on your network (as long as they've allowed the media sharing of course!).
The hard drive is only available in black, as it was released at the same time as the Elite console, which as earlier mentioned is shipped out with this 120GB hard drive. It's 'shell' is made out of plastic, which I guess is a little cheap considering the amount people are paying for the upgrade. However it is good quality, and is made out of the same materials used for the 360's faceplate and controllers. It's finished with a matt black finish, and on the sides it has a chrome-like finish. There's also a long oval shape with the same chrome-like finish on the top of the hard drive with grey writing stating that it is the 120GB HDD. It's incredibly easy to attach and detach from the top of the 360, making it easy for anyone to install and even easier to take it round to a friends house so that you can play your saved games with your extra content and even listen to your own music!
You'll be looking to pay a good £130 in the shops for this product, but you can get it online for about a £100 from Amazon UK or Play.com. But I personally recommend you just buy the Elite console as this also includes the high definition cables (inc. the HDMI able) which also cost a bomb by themselves. You'll save a lot of money this way, and you'll also get the much more stylish black console. All this and only for £60 more than the premium console which only has a 20gb hard drive and no high definition cables!
Overall, this most definitely isn't required if you're an ordinary gamer, it's almost impossible to fill all the space unless you have lots of money to spend on downloadable content, or just choose to play demo's over and over again instead of buying the full game!