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Apple-eater "Severn Boy" (Worcestershire, England)

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Last Light
Last Light
by Alex Scarrow
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, but characters and plot devices clichéd and contrived, 29 Dec 2008
This review is from: Last Light (Hardcover)
I enjoyed the book, and finished it in a couple of days. The subject matter, the way our crazy over-reliance on oil is unsustainable and likely to lead us to catastrophe, is important, and well handled in the book.

As the author points out, we are totally reliant on imported fuel and just about everything else for our current lifestyle. Cut off the fuel, and the rest falls apart frigtheningly quickly.

But the novel is dragged down by its own implausibilities. The idea of a centuries old conspiracy theory, the world being run by a hidden clique reponsible for developments as diverse as the rise of capitalism, the USA, Hitler and pretty much everything else, is just adolescent nonsense, utterly implausible, and not even necessary for the plot. Then there's the hoary old one of the family struggling to re-unite, and rising, heroically, implausibly, to the occasion, while everything and everyone else falls to bits.

Then there's the dialogue. The English speaking Arab's use of English is utterly absurd, and frankly condescending. And people don't very often use the word 'whilst' in conversation. Americans just don't use the word at all.

Basically, there was no need to put the hero and his family at the centre of the story. There was no need to resort to the clichés of the family struggling to get back together, the hidden assassin, even the one about the middle aged bloke with no military experience suddenly becoming a brilliant army officer (why is it that everyone in fiction is better at being soldiers than soldiers are...?)

Also, the author was obviously keen not to offend the people he thinks likely to read the book. So, the British soldiers are portrayed basically positively. The British govt is shown as inept. Most Brits would agree with those things. But he clearly doesn't want to antagonise some communities, so he makes the real 'bad guys' invisible, mainly American, business types. And whilst he does point out the dangers of being dependent on imported fuel, food and manufactured goods, he steers well clear of discussing what some would consider the dangers of over-use of migrant labour. Indeed, the only people shown as really bad are the presumably white working class mob from a Midlands estate.
Despite all this, it was a good book. It just could have been so much better.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 8, 2010 11:37 AM GMT

30 Rock - Season 1 - Complete [DVD]
30 Rock - Season 1 - Complete [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tina Fey
Price: 9.89

9 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sporadically amusing, the critics are wrong, the public is right., 23 Dec 2008
There seems to be some hand-wringing going on about this one - how can such a gem get such critical acclaim, yet be so cold-shouldered by the public?

I think the answer is relatively simple - the show isn't all that funny. There are some brilliant moments in it, admittedly, but you have to sit through a lot of dross to experience them.

Also, many people are put off by the idea of well paid Hollywood bigshots, like Baldwin, satirising the very media world they are so much a part of. They portray themselves as critical outsiders subverting the system, but make a very nice living by being very much part of it.

So yes, it's relatively painless, but the reason the show is relatively unknown and unwatched is pretty clear - it's just not worth watching for very long.

In The Cut [DVD] [2003]
In The Cut [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Meg Ryan
Offered by Jasuli
Price: 4.95

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I've seen this film a million times before...., 13 Oct 2008
This review is from: In The Cut [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
The whole story seemed to be a cut and paste of various other films, like Basic Instinct etc, with no other purpose than to give Meg Ryan a chance to get her kit off and do rude things with a bloke.

I've got no problem with Meg Ryan doing that, but this was a pretty dreadful film, with a very derivative and uttterly unconvincing plot.

It starts with the fact that the police just didn't look like police investigating a murder, and got worse. Also, the women I've spoken to find it hard to believe the Ryan character would be so attracted to the moustachioed Bert Reynolds lookalike hero.

Me, Myself and Irene [DVD] [2000]
Me, Myself and Irene [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Jim Carrey
Price: 4.27

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts the boot into political correctness, 15 Aug 2008
It's filthy, and it has a lot of laughs at the expense of political correctness.

As a Brit, I'm just sorry that a film like that probably couldn't be made here.

OK, there were a few annoying things about the film, but really barely worth mentioning.

Some of the gags, sight and spoken, were just brilliant.

Unfaithful [2002] [DVD]
Unfaithful [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Gere
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 3.93

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, 9 Aug 2008
This review is from: Unfaithful [2002] [DVD] (DVD)
The acting and storyline are fantastic.

For once, a Hollywood film which parts from Hollywood story conventionality. There is no hero, no bad guy, no good guy, and no happy ending.

There is some brilliant acting, great filming, pretty good sex scenes (can't knock that), and an ambiguous end.

OK, anyone familiar with modern detective shows will know that the police bit is full of holes - the police would definitely have found and convicted the people they needed to (I won't say more, as I don't want to spoil).

But though the brilliant acting owes everything to Hollywood, the other good things about the film owe everything to its French origins.

All in all, a great film, which stands out against other much better known ones. If it were possible to give 6 stars, I would.

Apocalypto [DVD] (2006)
Apocalypto [DVD] (2006)
Dvd ~ Rudy Youngblood
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.72

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A typical Hollywood actioner in disguise, 18 July 2008
This review is from: Apocalypto [DVD] (2006) (DVD)
The fact it was set in pre-European arrival South America, and didn't use English, made me think this film would be different and interesting.

In fairness, in many ways it was. I admired the overall look and feel of the film, and the unusual setting. But, underneath it all, it was the typical Hollywood action movie.

The scene setting, the arrival of the seemingly invincible adversary, the action scene in which the bad guys win, the hero's valiant struggle, and then, just as all seems lost, the fightback and inevitable victory for the good guy.

Couldn't someone in Hollywood, just for once, throw that basic script away and make something new and original?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2011 2:43 PM BST

Man and Boy
Man and Boy
by Tony Parsons
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.20

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of great, and grating, 16 Jun 2008
This review is from: Man and Boy (Paperback)
I really liked the basic storyline and a lot of the characters. It was a refreshing change from the history, detective and chicklit which most novels nowadays seem to be.

It was 'great' to read a funny book, about family relations, from a male point of view.

But the 'grating' list is too long for me to want to wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Firsty, I loathe the way the writer gives his hero, i.e. himself, such beautiful wives/girlfriends. It makes the writer seem incredibly arrogant, or frustrated.

Secondly, using the dad's death to wring every ounce of sympathy out of the reader was just cheap.

Thirdly, the estranged wife's stay in Japan was an obvious and unconvincing plot device to allow the main character to be on his own with the kid (who of course also had to be incredibly beautiful).

Fourthly, the reasons for the introduction of the American girlfriend were utterly transparet. One, to make the book, and no doubt film, sellable in America, and two, so that

Fifthly, the book could feature that most lame, predictable cliché of all, lover's dash to the airport, and happy reunion there (sorry, don't mean to wreck the ending).

28 Days Later (2002) [DVD]
28 Days Later (2002) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Cillian Murphy
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.77

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lived down to my expectations, 16 Jun 2008
This review is from: 28 Days Later (2002) [DVD] (DVD)
When I started to watch this film, I thought 'I bet this will be just another zombie film'. And it was.

So you could say it was my own fault that it turned out to be terrible, and that I watched it anyway.

However, I'd heard this one was a bit different, a zombie film with a British 'twist'. So I thought it would be satisfyingly bleak, and free of Hollywood clichés.

How wrong could I be....?

This one was clearly written by computer and acted by robots. It was full of tick-the-box characters and plot 'twists', and had the obligatory Hollywood ending.

There was so much that was so wrong about this film, it's difficult to choose the worst, but I suppose it has to be the way the British troops our hero meets and overcomes which takes the prize. Firstly, they were standard issue baddies. Secondly, I just don't buy the idea of an untrained unarmed civilian finding it so easy to beat a large bunch of trained squaddies.

The negative characterisation of the soldiers, from the madness of the obviously 'nazi' officer, to the stupidity, viciousness and incompetence of the squaddies probably ticks all the boxes for a certain, small, polictically correct media set. But it was horribly clichéd, and unforgivably unrealistic.

If it was possible to give 'nul points', this film would get them.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story [DVD]
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Price: 3.33

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Was I watching a different film to everyone else?, 15 April 2008
There were some funny moments in this, but they were few and far between.

Stiller has done stuff much funnier than this. The film just doesn't compare to stuff in the same vein, like The Fokkers, Blades of Glory, Wedding Crashers, even Zoolander, etc.

I thought it just tried too hard, with the characters just that little too zany to engage the viewer's interest. Why have a bloke who thinks he's a pirate for example?

I'm all for parodying underdog and sports movies - but this one was just too slapdash, lazy, and poorly written. They could learn from Mike Bassett.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2008 3:26 PM BST

Kama Sutra [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Kama Sutra [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Naveen Andrews
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 4.90

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully filmed, but, frankly, rubbish., 31 Mar 2008
The film looks great, but apart from that, the film fails on all levels. The story is non-existent, the acting bland. All that's left is a rather sub-standard soft porn film masquerading as art.

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