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Rich (United Kingdom)

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Man of Steel [DVD]
Man of Steel [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Cavill
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Everything they said was true, 3 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Man of Steel [DVD] (DVD)
Yes, it's mediocre. The film is entertaining enough, I guess, but it goes on forever. My main criticisms are:

1) The constant use of flashbacks that break up the flow of the present-day narrative
2) The rather boring plot involving General Zod
3) A forgettable Lois Lane
4) Too much bludgeoning through CGI, especially in the last 30 minutes
5) A bland, charisma-free performance from Henry Cavill
6) An almost complete lack of humour or sense of fun

'Man of Steel' is po-faced and takes itself much too seriously. Of the recent films I've watched in this genre, I thought 'The Winter Soldier' was far superior.

Primer [DVD]
Primer [DVD]
Dvd ~ Shane Carruth
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £15.99

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter drivel, 3 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Primer [DVD] (DVD)
Incomprehensible rubbish, 'Primer' must rank as one of the most woeful films I've ever seen. That fact that it looks cheap and is so poorly acted are of secondary importance compared with the 'plot'. It's complete gibberish from beginning to end. 12-year-olds might think they've stumbled upon something profound and insightful but I suspect most adults will find the entire enterprise risible. There's really little more to be said. 0/5

Why Does E=mc2?
Why Does E=mc2?
by Brian Cox
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oops - didn't finish it, 3 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Why Does E=mc2? (Paperback)
Not sure how to rate this as I never actually finished it so I went for 2 out of 5 stars but then I'm not sure if the fault lies with me or with the authors.

By page 80, at least, I was confronted with what, for me, were mathematical and scientific ideas that I just couldn't understand, e.g. the part about measuring something in spacetime using the analogy of moving from a bed to a kitchen and having breakfast over the course of an hour. I just did not understand it. I just didn't understand the descriptions of rotational or translational invariance or how they related to the topic being discussed. Sames goes for angular momentum and momentum.

There are a lot of equations cited in the book and attempts are made to explain them, but for me it didn't work. I'll go back and have another attempt at some point, armed with a calculator, pencil and paper. I appreciate the main arguments about time dilation and space contracting with velocity but the nuts and bolts of it went straight over my head. By the time we got to causality I think I'd just about given up.

Dracula (Penguin Classics)
Dracula (Penguin Classics)
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as I remembered, 1 Dec. 2014
I first read 'Dracula' when I was 17 or 18 and I remember really enjoying it. Twenty years' later I thought I'd reread it. Big mistake. Stoker conjures up some terrific individual scenes and the opening few chapters documenting Harker's time at Castle Dracula are superb. For me it starts to fall apart about halfway through when the plot begins to run out of steam. Some of the subsequent events feel like word-spinning but the biggest criticism I would make now is the two-dimensional characterisation. The men are mostly insufferable, stiff-upper-lipped Victorians, trembling with suppressed emotion or weeping with wonderment at the plucky bravery of Mina Harker. Mina herself is almost angelic in her sweet virtue and holy nature. Everyone is utterly wonderful to everyone else, and it sort of starts to grate. I also found the attempt to mimic Van Helsing's Dutch accent really very trying towards the end.

'Dracula', as an idea, is superb and, as I said, some of the scenes are iconic but rereading it with older eyes I can't but realise that the book isn't actually that well written or that well plotted. It's undeniably a cultural classic but more, perhaps, for what it started than as a work of literature in its own right. As a piece of writing, 'Frankenstein' is far superior.

Umbrage: The First Vampire [DVD]
Umbrage: The First Vampire [DVD]
Dvd ~ Doug Bradley
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £5.24

1.0 out of 5 stars The worst film I've ever seen, 23 Nov. 2014
Yes, the worst. Not only the worst horror film but the worst film of any genre. It is appallingly awful from beginning to end. Imagine a bunch of people with no acting or production experience had got hold of a video camera and decided to film a script that they'd written the night before...that's what this film is like. 'Amateurish' doesn't even cover it. It's not even amusingly bad, like so many others. It's just BAD. The acting, the script, the dialogue, the 'plot', the acting, the camera work, the lightning, the's just an utter mess.


Heavenly Harmonies - Byrd and Tallis
Heavenly Harmonies - Byrd and Tallis
Price: £14.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest recordings of Renaissance music ever made, 20 Nov. 2014
Oh wow, where to start with this. Words seem superfluous. I was familiar with the Tallis works on the disc but less so the works of William Byrd. 'Infelix Ego', 'Ne irascaris Domine', 'Quis est homo', to name just three of the Byrd pieces, are agonisingly, transcendentally beautiful. Soaring phrase is piled upon soaring phrase, the voices interweave to create an incredible tapestry of sound. The mood is often elegiac and dark-hued. It's impossible not to be moved. Sit somewhere quiet, preferably with a good pair of headphones, turn the sound up and be transported. The singing is simply beyond criticism. Tempi are moderate giving this spectacular music the chance to breath. I've got 1000s of classical music CDs but this is one of my absolute favourites. Just buy it.

On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic
On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic
by J. Kent Layton
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supreme & Indispensible, 4 Aug. 2014
This is, in my opinion, the best single-volume book on the Titanic disaster ever written. I've got plenty of others but 'On a Sea of Glass' leaps to the very top of the list surpassing such noted works as 'A Night to Remember', 'The Maiden Voyage' and 'Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy'.

The first half of the book recounts in deliberate, fascinating detail the building of the ship, the launch, the journey to Southampton, the preparations in preparing the ship for its maiden voyage, the incident with the 'New York', the cross-channel trip to Cherbourg, etc. etc. etc. It goes on and on, page after engrossing page. The timeline of the sinking itself is helpfully split into small sections recounting what was happening when. There is a lot of survivor testimony included in the text, much of it infrequently cited in other books. When there is contradiction the authors take the time to tell the reader why there is contradiction, what the different accounts mean and how best to arrive at the most likely version of events. Embedded within this first half are a series of small essays which explore some of the issues surrounding the ship and the crew e.g. the 'Olympic switch conspiracy theory', whether the maiden voyage was supposed to be Captain Smith's last, etc.

As if that wasn't enough, the entire second half of the book consists of a series of riveting appendices which explore many of the controversies surrounding the disaster e.g. the 'Californian' incident, whether an office committed suicide, how the ship broke apart, etc. And then, at the very end, is page after page of detailed footnotes relating to the main text in which sources are provided as well as more discussion on particular people, features of the ship, incidents.

One small example: there's a brief but very interesting debate (in the footnotes or the main text, I can't recall which) about whether the dining chairs in the First Class Dining Room (and chairs in the First Class Smoking Room) were upholstered in green leather, as on the Olympic, or another colour which didn't clash with what we now know was the colour of the flooring on the Titanic. (I think they were red). OK, it's a small detail, but one that you rarely see discussed in other books.

That's not to say that the book is for Titanic enthusiasts only. If I had to recommend a single book for anyone with even a passing interest then it would be this one. It's a scholarly tome but one which wears its scholarship very lightly. The book has been written in such a way that a lot of information has been included without slowing down the narrative itself. 'A Night to Remember' was published in 1955 and much has come to light since then.

The reader is left with one over-riding impression: that the authors have done an incredible amount of research, carefully weighing up all the information available and, having viewed it objectively, they then carefully constructed every single sentence to mean what they intended it to mean. Nothing appears to have been put in simply because it's now part of the historical narrative. Everything has apparently been re-examined and thought through. If the authors disagree with any part of the 'myth' then they give you their reasons backed up with primary sources or logic.

There are hundreds of photos and diagrams embedded in the text, some familiar, some not, but all relevant, and a 70-photo colour section in the middle.

For me 'On a Sea of Glass' is now the definitive work on the maiden voyage of the Titanic and her loss on 14/15 April 1912. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2014 5:33 PM BST

Seben Laser Collimator to align telescopes LK1 31.7mm (1.25")
Seben Laser Collimator to align telescopes LK1 31.7mm (1.25")

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Surprised with the positive reviews, 16 Mar. 2014
I've no idea why this thing has had such good reviews. It is utterly useless and a total waste of money. I ordered one to help collimate my 10'' Newtonian reflector. The laser itself required collimating when it arrived. This is fiddly and requires minute adjustment of the allen screws holding the laser in place. I got mine to within about 2mm over a distance of 3 metres. Unfortunately, within days of collimating the laser, I discovered that it had gone out of collimation. It if doesn't hold its collimation particularly well then what is the point of having it? I did use it once on my telescope but it couldn't really be trusted. In future I'll rely on my Cheshire/sighting tube and collimation cap. The laser has too much slop when in the focuser to be anywhere near accurate.

Please, save your money and buy something else.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2014 8:52 AM BST

Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors
Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors
by Chris Skidmore
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Particularly Interesting, 7 Aug. 2013
A big disappointment, although I've not enjoyed the other books Skidmore has written either. He seems to have a superficial grasp of the events and little ability to make a story come to life through prose. It was a real struggle just to pick it up and carry on reading. Even Phillipa Gregory is preferable. No, this one is a definite miss.

Lincoln [DVD]
Lincoln [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Day-Lewis
Price: £3.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and Worthy, 17 July 2013
This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
Sorry, but it really was boring. Day-Lewis is great as the eponymous character but the screenplay was so dull. In fact the entire film was surrouded with a po-faced aura of piety (maybe that's why almost every scene was so dark as to be almost comical). An important and interesting story was hobbled by Spielberg's need to make as respectable a film as possible. No risks were taken. Everything depended on the performances as Spielberg seemed content to take a back seat and do very little. There was neither pace or rhythm. The film just meandered on from one scene to another. I wouldn't want to sit through it ever again.

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