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J. Groom (UK)

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Eberron: Sharn City of Towers
Eberron: Sharn City of Towers
by game designer. Keith Baker
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 2 Feb. 2006
I am a recent Eberron convert so I thought I would add my views on the products released to support this setting.
This book details the largest city in the world of Eberron and manages to really capture the feel of this unique metropolis. I really enjoyed reading it and I certainly found loads of great ideas for adventures. It would certainly be true to say that there is far more flavour text (fluff) than actual stats and rules additions (crunch) and this may put you off depending on your style of play, but I think this goes very well with the campaign setting book and presents lots of different ideas for the imaginative DM. Recommended.

Eberron Campaign Setting (Dungeons & Dragons Accessory)
Eberron Campaign Setting (Dungeons & Dragons Accessory)
by James Wyatt
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesomely imaginative!, 2 Feb. 2006
Right I have played D&D since I was 12 blah blah and since 1st Edition blah blah I have used Forgotten Realms since 2nd Edition blah blah. Now I first saw Eberron advertised with some teaser articles in a magazine and thought, here we go another setting we don't need. Then I got hold of a copy of this book cheap and was blown away.
It makes Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk and just about any other setting redundant and cliched. Every part of this book just oozes with ideas. It is a high magic (used kind of like technology in a lot of ways) yet also low magic and gritty (there isn't a 20th+ level character in every village like in Faerun). The world is big enough to be expanded upon by and DM and yet focused enough that every region has its own flavour and feel (something else that Faerun sorely lacks, I mean who knows anything about half the places on the poster map of the Realms?) and there are some cool new races that work really well (particularly with the Races of Eberron books), new slants on existing monsters, new monsters, new feats, new magic goodies and ways of creating them with magic gems called Dragonshards, a complete and evocative history of Eberron, (catch of breath) and just to top it all off the book looks great too.
In short, Eberron breaths new life into D&D and brings it crashing into the present without comprimising what makes it D&D in the first place - much like the release of 3rd edition.
Avid D&D players if you haven't already, you owe it to yourselves to check this out! I am converted!

Firefly - The Complete Series [DVD] [2003]
Firefly - The Complete Series [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Nathan Fillion
Price: £9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What more can you say......, 2 Feb. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
140 reviewers, average review rating 5 stars.
I don't think there is anything more to add that other people haven't, but for the love of all things good, please, if you are a fan of westerns, sci-fi or just plain old-fashioned action and adventure with a setting and characters rich with depth and not a filler episode in sight, then buy this. Especially at the current price, I borrowed a friends copy recently but at £12 this should not be missed and I am about to buy myself a copy!! And hopefully if enough people buy this and Serenity when it comes out - Joss Whedon may get to do another series or film. And that would please an awful lot of people, myself included.
141 reviews, average 5 stars....

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad [DVD] [1974]
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad [DVD] [1974]
Dvd ~ John Phillip Law
Offered by joe4books
Price: £6.95

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Harryhausen's second Sinbad spectacular., 18 Dec. 2005
Its hard to believe that this film was made nearly 20 years after the 7th Voyage of Sinbad - it looks prety much exactly the same. I guess that technology just didn't advance so quickly back in those days without the aid of computers. The formula is bascially the same: Sinbad + evil magician + royalty in need of aid + beautiful women + stop motion monsters = adventure.
The main advances between the two sinbad films is in the script. Its a little more contemporary and genuinely humuorous in places, Sinbad himself is a little more Arabian flavoured than the clean cut Sinbad of 7th Voyage, and Tom Baker makes a great evil wizard whose dark arts visibly age him as the film progresses lending a slightly darker feel to the film.
The thing that lets the film down really is the monsters. Always the main focus of these films, if you don't have decent monsters then you lose a lot of the feel of danger and adventure. The animation is up to Harryhausens usual standards, but a couple of animated statues, a one-eyed centaur and a ragged looking griffon that lasts only a few minutes just don't make for good action. Certainly the six-armed sword wielding statue is masterfully animated and easily the high point of the film action wise, but there is nothing to match the Cyclops or the Dragon from 7th Voyage, in terms of a monster that has character and actually feels threatening and exciting.
Still its worth having for fans of the genre and a good one to watch now and again.

Eberron Explorer's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Option)
Eberron Explorer's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Option)
by David Noonan
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly dissapointing!, 20 Oct. 2005
I was looking forward to this one. I really like the explorer aspect of the Eberron campaign setting and as there are several cool locations that are relatively undetailed in the main book I was hoping for some cool info here. What I wanted was lots of nice 'fluff' about Xen'drik and the Demon Wastes and the like, to really give these places some atmosphere. New monsters, new hazards and new gear to help overcome them, new treasure, maps of these uncharted regions etc.

Well what do you get?

The first chapter is good giving some description and game mechanics for methods of travelling long distances such as the lightning rail and airships. Then we get a few passable new prestige classes (although I can't see many PCs actually becoming an airship captain - kind of limits the usefulness of the PC unless he's piloting an airship - and how many adventures can you really have at the helm of a ship?). And then comes the good bits right? Well not really...

The majority of the book is dedicated to presenting some 'adventure sites' which are touted as some bases to start the adventure (a club in Sharn for example), a waypoint on the way and finally the actual adventure sites. With one or two exceptions these are generic to the point of uselessness. Even the most pressed for time GM could have come up with most of these places, sure you can build on them and expand them into full adventures, but to be honest most of them aren't worth it, and lets face it we buy sourcebooks to get info we can use right off the bat or at the very least to get inspired by the ideas presented, not to have to fill in the blanks. There are a couple of good ones (the city of the Lords of Dust is very cool, and the ruined city in the middle of Q'Barra is also quite good) and many tantalising snippets of good ideas. For example, there is a reference to Digester skin boots to protect you from acid pools in Q'barra, but no info as to the cost, DC to make or actual game mechanic effect of these boots.

There's also a nice but short section at the back for some very nicely detailed magic items which picks up the quality for a brief few pages.

There's enough here to make it worthwhile if you have to have every Eberron product out there or really love the setting, but this should have been so much better.

Races of Eberron (Dungeons and Dragons v3.5 Supplement): A Race Series Supplement (Dungeons & Dragons)
Races of Eberron (Dungeons and Dragons v3.5 Supplement): A Race Series Supplement (Dungeons & Dragons)
by Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More great ideas for Eberron, 7 Aug. 2005
This book is cool. Not essential by any means unless you are playing an Eberron campaign, in which case you could do a lot worse than investing in this book of goodies. There are very few wasted pages here. We get new feats and gear and powers and so on - all of which serve to expand the range of customisation for eberron characters which is a good thing of course.
The icing on the cake really is the sections devoted to a more in-depth analysis of the Eberron specific races. This is of course pure 'fluff' compared to the 'crunchy' rules additions, but it really helps to get to know these races a little more, espcially the Kalashtar and the Changelings, neither of which really grabbed me in the inital campaign setting book. I really like the Kalashtar angle now, sort of undercover freedom fighters fighting against an insidious and alien race that many are unaware of.
Why only 4 stars? Well it is a bit short for the money, although the artwork and presentation is top quality as always and I would have preferred a bit more info on the Eberron versions of iconic D&D races, something to set them out from the pack a little more.
Still for Eberron fans, this really should be on your purchase list as there are loads of ideas on offer here.

Team America: World Police [DVD]
Team America: World Police [DVD]
Dvd ~ Trey Parker
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.69

8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars love it or hate it........., 17 Jun. 2005 I'm more ambivalent about it.
First of all let me get this straight this is not a political satire. Parker and Stone take straight up pot shots at everyone from Michael Moore (he becomes a suicide bomber) to stereotype Arab terrorists to North Korea, to the actors who spoke out against the war in Iraq to aids victims. It quickly becomes clear that they don't have the brains to have a political agenda and are meerly content to take the piss out of everything, and the lack of any mentions of George Bush, Saddam Hussein, the Irag War or any other contentious issues shows that they don't the balls for political satire either.
Right that out the way, this film is actually pretty funny in places, no actually it is hilarious in some places. Mostly this relies on the terrific visual humour inherent in the fact that the cast are made of puppets (watch out for the Hand to Hand combat scene, the puppet scene, and when the puppets interact with Kim Jong's pets, also the action scenes in general are tremendous fun). Other highlights include the Team America theme song and the spoofing of big budget Bruckheimer style films with plenty of exploding national monuments.
Regretably this film also misses the point in rather a lot of places. The songs (apart from the aforementioned theme song) are staggeringly unfunny, as are the 'comedy accents' (downright offensive really) and the coarse humour never really hits the mark (the final speech is particularly poor).
So overall you have a pretty average film that will provide some laughs with a few mates and some beers. As long as you are not easily offended of course.

Manchurian Candidate, The [DVD] [2004]
Manchurian Candidate, The [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Price: £2.69

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars waste of time, 17 Jun. 2005
Right I haven't seen the original but I am sure that it was more cutting edge at the time, but to be honest in this day and age when there are more 'real' conspiracy theories going round than you can shake a stick at, this just seems bland and boring. All the requiste tricks are here, deja vu, flashbacks, paranoia, little implants under the skin, a plot that goes from the military all the way up to the highest office in the US government. So far so dull.
The actors are quality, Meryl Streep in particular is excellent, although Denzil, normally superb, seems to be on autopilot for much of the film.
I think the main problem here is, in addition to having seen this all before, that the directing is so heavy handed. There is no tension, no build up, just some crappy flashbacks and Denzil jumping to wild conclusions.
If you love conspiracy theories stick with your X-files DVDs , they are much cleverer and better.

Blackened Sky
Blackened Sky
Price: £5.99

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars modern overlooked classic, 6 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Blackened Sky (Audio CD)
I don't hand out 5 stars without a damn fine reason, and what a reason this is!
This album is quite simply one of the best I've heard so far this millenium. Its influences are kind of obvious - Nirvana, Pixies etc but it crafts them into a completely awesome sonic brew.
Biffy's command of song dynamics are masterful as is their ability to alter time signatures and tempos without it sounding in the slightest bit strange. Everybody knows the quiet-loud dynamic back to front but nobody does it like Biffy. One minute they sound like coldplay (but with more balls) and the next the guitars crash in over such emotive and raw vocals like a runaway juggernaut. If the hairs on your arms don't stand up on hearing the howl of 'I still feel the pain in my heart' (sounds cliched I know but it's all in the delivery) over crashing guitars on track '27', then you shouldn't be listening to rock music.
Quite simply if you don't own this album and you love powerful rock music, then you are seriously missing out. If you do then like me you probably fallen in love completely. All hail the mighty mighty Biffy Clyro!!!!!!

Shatterproof is not a Challenge
Shatterproof is not a Challenge
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £5.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not another sophomore slump!, 6 Jun. 2005
Hundred Reasons looked set to conquer the world (well not quite). First album: amazing, one of the best rock albums released its year (beaten only by the mighty Queens of the Stone Age). Great singles, moderate commercial success for a band of its type, and scads of touring and great festival appearances - all of which left them poised to hit the big time. Their brand of emo/post-hardcore type stuff looked set to crossover into the mainstream without sacrificing credibilty.
Unfortunately, and frustratingly they didn't. This album is not bad, but compared to the first, just plain unimpressive. The hooks are considerably weaker and it rather expand or improve their sound, they seem to have run out of steam. Sure, there's still spirit and fire in their blood, but the material just does not back it up. Many of the songs sound like they've self-plagarised their back catalogue. Pop in particular sounds almost identical to Silver with the bassline from If I Could (and interestingly was already released as an superior acoustic version to b-side the Falter single) and even album highlight What You Get sounds uncomfortably like its adhering to a template.
Its not a bad album, but oh so dissapointing. Please, please, please, please, please hundred reasons, I know you can do so much better and release a storming third album. Please.

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