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Mr. T. E. Rochester (England)
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2 TP
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2 TP
by Kevin O'Neill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Moore or Less!, 6 May 2014
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The 2nd volume in Alan Moore's "League" series serves as a good sequel to the original.

This 6-part story is based on HG Wells' "War of the Worlds". The martians land on Earth, and the League (Mina Harker, Alan Quartermain, Mr Hyde, Harley Griffin and Captain Nemo) are tasked with investigating and stopping them. As I am a massive fan of Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of this story, I had it playing in the background as I read it - amazing!

The plot is great, and like the first story, is filled with literature references, some obvious, some more secretive (spot Bleak House, Rupert the Bear and Mr. Toad in this one!).

However, the sex scenes seemed a little unnecessary perhaps, and the plot was a bit more simplistic in some places.
Having said this, Hyde's character is greatly developed in this one (and brutally so, poor Harley!). But the Invisible Man makes a stupid decision which doesn't really get explained methinks. I know he's scheming and greedy but really...?

The book is also filled with random fun miscellanea which is fun to read through, such as a pull-out boardgame.

However, the "New Traveller's Almanac" was a chore, and I only read the first chapter of it in the end (the British Isles). Now I treat Mr. Moore as something of a genius, but for one to understand this section, it seems one needs to have read, I don't know, every great work of literature written in England and America from Shakespeare onwards? I understand what he was doing (telling the history of the League and its world), but the content is so self-indulgent that unless you have read all these books, you'll get lost in the intelligent nonsense...


Coriolanus [DVD] [2011]
Coriolanus [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Ralph Fiennes
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £5.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Re-Setting of a Lesser-known Shakespeare, 6 May 2014
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This review is from: Coriolanus [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
I loved this film!

Its one of Shakespeare's not-as-famous plays, but I have no idea why!!

The plot:
A famous general (Ralph Fiennes), wins a great victory over Rome's enemies (led by Gerard Butler), and is soon promoted to the Senate, but some of the Senators fear a dictatorship and scheme to have him removed. He eventually joins forces with his old enemies against Rome in revenge, before being stopped by the pleas of his family.

The reason why I like this one is that its modernisation is truly inspired. Whilst retaining the original language, the contemporary setting makes this a great story referring to political greed and the idea of war against minority governments.
James Nesbitt's turn as a plotting senator in the market place is one such scene, the impeachment scene re-shot as a TV debate is another.
My favourite scene though, has to be the initial battle scene, complete with explosions, a knife fight, and a bloodied Fiennes, which leads to my favourite line, delivered with great authority: The blood I drop is rather physical// Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus// I will appear, and fight... And then he leads his men back into the battle!!

Buy it, watch it, love it!


Red Cliff (The Special Edition) [DVD] [2008]
Red Cliff (The Special Edition) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Tony Leung
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £4.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Tale of an Epic Battle, 6 May 2014
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This is the Special Edition of "Red Cliff", and by that, read "Extended Edition" - nearly 5 hours!
The film is split in two to what I believe is the 2 original Chinese releases of this this, which was eventually contracted into one very long film for a Western audience.

The film itself is amazing, with a plethora of varied characters which, to the unobservant Western eye, can be a little confusing to follow sometimes!
Who exactly are the lieutenants and who are the generals? A 2nd watch of this film clarified things (but that's no hardship!).
And the way the characters interact is great - Sun Shiangxiang and the innocent Piggy being one pairing, and the battle of wits between the two advisors, Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu, to out-do eachother is brilliant.

The plot follows a bunch of rebels who join together with the Southern king against the Prime Minister of the North, who has plans of his own, aided by the largest army and navy that has ever been assembled. After a few skirmishes and clever planning, all the forces eventually gather at "Red Cliff" for a final showdown.

Some may complain that the film is too long (being in two parts and all), but this really means that the film is filled with great depth and characterisation. The importance of the tea ceremony, and the tiger hunt have great symbolism with the actions of the rest of the film.

The only negatives I'd have would be the CGI in the second half of the film. I know the battle is meant to be hundreds of thousands big, but Lord of the Rings detail this isn't. You can tell its a bit computer. But don't let that deter you from what is otherwise an amazing film!

There is individual warrior scenes a la Crouching Tiger/Hero, but also large battle scenes, so plenty to whet the appetite. A must of Chinese cinema!


The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness
by Timothy Keller
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Sermon on How to View the Self, 20 April 2014
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Keller's "book" The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness is a short, 3 chapter work looking at what it means to have real freedom in Christ.

The first chapter lays out our issue: We think too much about our own self-esteem - too much and we're selfish or proud, too little and we're miserable.
The second chapter lays out a Christian response.
The third chapter actually tells you how to have that freedom. Essentially it boils down to CS Lewis' suggestion that self-forgetfulness is not thinking less of ourselves (self-deprecation) but thinking of ourselves less. Instead, we should be thinking more of Christ. Its not about our self-esteem, but how much do we esteem Him.

Some issues though:
The whole work reads as a good published sermon. This isn't a bad thing, but he often refers to verses, yet the passage he's preaching from (contained at the front) doesn't have verse numbers. Without a Bible handy, its sometimes hard to follow.

Secondly, its almost like he spends too much time building up to the solution of "How might I achieve such self-forgetfulness?". Its a good book, but I wish he'd have gotten to this part sooner and expanded it, rather than spend so much time on the first 2 chapters. I was reading them thinking "Yep, gotya, I agree... now what?".


A History Of Christianity [DVD] [2009]
A History Of Christianity [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Diarmaid MacCulloch
Price: £9.10

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise yet Deep, 20 April 2014
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This 6 part documentary series is brilliant.
It covers most of the important things in the history of Christianity in a chronological order, though often leaves you wanting to find out more. He interviews practising Christians to dig deeper into particular traditions.
Some topics, however, are treated with very little detail - he doesn't really say much about Jesus at the start, but mainly with the movement he first inspired. Similarly, Darwin is only mentioned in passing for 30seconds in the final episode.

The 5 star review comes from the presenter himself. Between beautiful churches, cathedrals and landscapes, he narrates his history in a very unbiased way. He doesn't take anything for granted, including some difficulties Christians face. He was certainly right in the final episode when his suggestion that Christianity bears responsibility for the Holocaust would make some of his viewers uncomfortable!
MacCulloch describes himself as a "candid friend of Christianity", though not a professing Christian. It appears he has struggled with biblical teaching (particularly on homosexuality, as he is gay) and/or the inspiration of the Bible.
However, he carefully and fairly explains church doctrine and makes it accessible, particularly often complicated topics such as the nature of the Trinity or the hypostatic union.

Well recommended if you're a Christian and want to know your roots - your denomination today probably didn't exist in its same form 100 years ago, let alone 2000 years of Christian history!
For a non-Christian, it'll show you exactly how Christianity has shaped our modern world and continues to have an important global impact.


Mark of Calth (The Horus Heresy)
Mark of Calth (The Horus Heresy)
by Laurie Goulding
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Calth Background, 20 April 2014
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Mark of Calth (MoC) is an anthology of 8 stories set on Calth during the Horus Heresy.
However, you MUST have read "Know No Fear" by Dan Abnett (and possibly "The First Heretic" by AD-B) for this book to make any sense. There are several Ultramarine and Word Bearer characters throughout that appear previously, or events are referenced that you'll want to be familiar with. I waited nearly 2 years between reading KNF and this, and some parts went over my head. It *might* be better to read this first before reading "Betrayer".

As a collection, some pieces are better than others, but overall the additional info from various perspectives that this book provides to that battle is great.

The first book, "Shards of Erebus", explains how certain knives are first forged, and these provide almost a running theme through several of the other books here.
The second, "Calth that Was" is novella-length, and is written from the perspective of Remus Ventanus and Maloq Kartho, generally explaining the context of the Underworld War.
"Dark Heart" was next, following a young Word Bearers acolyte named Marduk, and whilst good, probably meant more for people who have read the Word Bearers series by Anthony Reynolds.
"The Traveller" was probably the worst for me - I wasn't really that interested with the plot, and the "twist" at the end (if you can call it that?) left me thinking "So what?".
"A Deeper Darkness" was next. I enjoyed this one, but it was a bit slow to start with, and it didn't really add much to the overall Calth or HH plot.
AD-B's "The Underworld War" is set deep into this stage of the Calth conflict, and follows a member of the Gal Vorbak, and explains how he first came to be possessed. It also features my favourite heretic, Argel Tal, reveals more about why certain Word Bearers were chosen for Calth, and impacts on the events in "Betrayer".
"Athame" was next and was ok I guess, tracing the titular weapon from its discovery through various owners. I didn't get the 8th section though - who was it talking about?
Finally, "Unmarked" was one of the stronger works for me. It follows Oll Persson's group after he cuts a hole into the warp, and their journey onwards. Particularly interesting is his conversation with fellow Perpetual John Grammaticus, and the hints dropped in this one that are followed up in "The Unremembered Empire". Also, heavy hints dropped that Oll knew the Emperor at the dawn of civilization, but decided he didn't want any part of the Emperor's schemes and was therefore not a part of his inner circle.

A good collection, buy it if you're a HH enthusiast, but make sure you've read KNF first (and preferably fairly recently!)


Waltz with Bashir [DVD] [2008]
Waltz with Bashir [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Ari Folman
Offered by BOOKS-DVDS-TOYS-TECH
Price: £4.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Short and Powerful, 4 April 2014
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Waltz with Bashir is a beautiful yet harrowing account of one young soldier's experiences during the 1982 Lebanese War.

Based on a true story, it follows Director Ari Folman's attempts to remember what happened to him during that war after a friend visits him about a recurring nightmare he's been having.
The film is then separated into various interviews which re-create the experiences of Ari's fellow soldiers during that war.
Key themes throughout the film are the reliability of memory and denial.

The animation is superb and beautifully shot - there is great use of colour and movement.
In addition, the soundtrack contains what I believe are contemporary Israeli songs about the war.

I wouldn't say its an anti-war film or a pro-war film, it just seeks to portray events as they occurred from one particular point of view. His realisation of his involvement in and the lessons he learns from the Sabra and Shatila massacre sum up this short film quite tastefully, as the animation finally gives way to real footage captured from those camps in 1982.


Who Moved the Stone?
Who Moved the Stone?
by Frank Morison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Logical Inferences, Dated Presentation, 4 April 2014
This review is from: Who Moved the Stone? (Paperback)
Who Moved the Stone? was an enjoyable read.

Morison's main contention is to show that the tomb of Jesus was indeed empty on that first Easter morning. But he doesn't go much further than that. There is little discussion of the nature or meaning of the resurrection appearances for example, or the implications of empty tomb + appearances = risen Christ.

The prose is quite dated at nearly 80 years old, but take it slowly and carefully and its entirely manageable. Some readers may be put off by his characterisations of the women disciples of Jesus. Furthermore, he makes references to authors or arguments yet provides no footnotes to back up his quotes and let the reader follow his trail.

Some of the minutiae in his case seems a bit odd too.
For example, he argues that we can have no idea who the "young man" at the tomb in Mark's gospel is, because he dismisses Luke and Matthew's accounts that there were angels at the tomb as later legendary additions. Instead, Morison prefers some unknown disciple, not one of the Twelve and not one of the women, who believed Jesus' message about his forthcoming resurrection and hurried to the tomb first thing to see for himself if what Jesus had predicted was true.
Secondly, as to the question "Who moved the Stone?", Morison (I think) suggests that the Temple Guard who had been placed there moved it themselves, based in part, from a quote in the 2nd Century, fragmentary "Gospel of the Hebrews".

Overall though, his case is good. He makes logical inferences when reading the New Testament as an historical narrative. In particular, his suggestion that the women did indeed visit the tomb and discovered it empty, yet were subsequently removed from the early Christian apologetic makes sense.

This book has helped me consider afresh the reality of Easter, and will prove helpful when discussing the resurrection with non-Christians. However, I would not recommend giving this book straight to a non-Christian; it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt in parts.


Planet Hulk Omnibus
Planet Hulk Omnibus
by Greg Pak
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Arc for the Incredible Hulk, 3 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Planet Hulk Omnibus (Paperback)
I haven't read much Hulk at all, but that didn't matter with this book.

Having read "The Road to Civil War", this book explains what happens next to the Hulk after he is blasted into space by his "friends".

As a Hulk novice, this book was perfect for me.
Little or no previous knowledge of Hulk or his universe is required - he lands on a new planet, and the reader is as much a stranger to this place and its people as he is.

The plot is fairly basic - evil dictator/emperor, Hulk smash/leads a rebellion, results, but the characterisation is great, as the variety of aliens on this planet add multiple layers of depth to this.
The ending leads up to the "World War Hulk" series.

The only downside I felt was the Gladiator Guidebook to Sakaar at the back of this volume. It gives a very in depth account of the history of the planet and its people, but having read the preceding issues, I felt it would've benefitted from being dispersed throughout rather than collected together at the back. Some of the issues/history in the book would've made more sense if I'd been able to read parts of this first. Nevertheless, it adds a great level of detail to a great story.


Secret War
Secret War
by Brian Michael Bendis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Premise, slight shame about the execution, 3 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Secret War (Paperback)
Secret War was an interesting premise: Nick Fury (director of SHIELD) gathers a select team of superheroes, sent them on a covert mission to Latveria, then wipes their memory of the whole event. A year later, someone comes to take revenge.

However, the mission is kept so secret in this collection that you could blink and miss it. I wanted more details!
And the fact that a new hero was created just to finish the mission seemed a bit deus ex machina - young girl who can create big earthquakes...

Having said that, the artwork in this piece was really good, and the ending sets up Nick Fury's character as AWOL for several years to come in the Marvel comics series. His character and motivations were one of the better things about this series, and the bonus "Files of Nick Fury" at the back, as well as the interview pieces in between each issue, really add to the overall story.
One of the best scenes of this was when the heroes all share the same plane together and don't know what they're doing, featuring a drunk Logan/Wolverine, and people guessing who Peter Parker actually is.


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