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The Making of the Atomic Bomb
The Making of the Atomic Bomb
by Richard Rhodes
Edition: Paperback

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Giant of a Book, 15 Feb. 2005
There aren't many books that can claim to tell a story as important as the story related here, in Richard Rhodes' astounding history of an astounding sequence of scientific discoveries. His book, as attested to by the praise, lives up to the epic reality.
The first two thirds are the most interesting - the tale of the science, still new and very mysterious, becoming clearer gradually, often in tiny increments; and the tale of the scientists, who were moving civilisation towards something both magnificence and terrible. The final third is riveting, but can't match the thrilling story of the maturing of atomic theory and experiment.
Rhodes pulls everything into the book - conversations and recollections on the streets of London; commando missions to destroy heavy-water plants in Norway; descriptions of hikes up hills during which scientists discussed the next set of scientific possibilities; and intimate character portraits of not only the key players, but of anyone who in some way impacted upon the development of the bomb. Some may find the style so exhaustive as to be exhausting; but if you are patient, Rhodes will effortlessly show you whole worlds you would never otherwise have seen.
I can't recommend it highly enough.


Spider-Man 1 and 2 (Four Disc Box Set) [DVD]
Spider-Man 1 and 2 (Four Disc Box Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tobey Maguire
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £13.98

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Pair, 29 Nov. 2004
On their own, these are great films; together, they form the greatest set of films ever made about a character from a comic book. If Sam Raimi can pull off the same trick with the third film, he'll have produced a trilogy unlike any other in Hollywood history.
If you don't already own these on DVD, or if you have managed to miss them in the cinema, this set will be a very healthy addition to your collection of DVDs. And while you're on Amazon, check out the wonderful Spider-Man comics currently being written by Brian Michael Bendis.


Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD]
Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ron Livingston
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £39.96

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Television Drama, 29 Nov. 2004
Television drama simply doesn't get any better than this. Compulsively watchable, this set, once it arrives, will tempt you to do all manner of things to better enjoy it undisturbed: miss work, dodge the household chores, chain yourself to the chair\sofa\bed. Whatever it takes.
And quite justifiably, too - every episode is well-plotted, well-written, and well-acted; each character grows and becomes more real as the series progresses; and the evocation of Europe at war is nail-bitingly, ear-shatteringly engrossing. Most importantly, it is history brought to life - something too rarely done well.
Buy it, watch it in a day, and then watch it again. As television drama goes, this series can't be recommended highly enough.


Spider-Man 2 [DVD] [2004]
Spider-Man 2 [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Tobey Maguire
Offered by FUNTIME MEDIA
Price: £2.75

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Just Keeps Getting Better..., 29 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Spider-Man 2 [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
As anyone who enjoyed the first 'Spider-Man' film will know, Sam Raimi knows how to transfer a super-hero to the screen with just the right blend of humour and pathos, action and emotion. And where the first film was forced to relate the back-story of the character, using up precious minutes better put to web-swinging, here, in the sequel, we already know the story - Raimi can get right down to it, and give wall-to-wall web-action.
But these films aren't simply about amazing powers and heroic deeds; they are also about a very human, down-to-earth, likeable character, and his very ordinary problems and extraordinary moments of believable joy. Only the most cynical viewer will fail to be moved by the ending - I won't spoil it, but it promises much for the next film in the franchise.
Alfred Molina is excellent as the scientist turned to the dark side; Kirsten Dunst is at her usual, stunning best; and J. K. Simmons does another star turn as Jonah Jameson. Tobey Maguire is the ultimate Peter Parker. And Raimi has his usual fun with the direction - this film looks like no other super-hero film you've ever seen.
A classic, through and through, and well-worth adding to your DVD collection.


The Sum Of All Fears - Special Collector's Edition [DVD] [2002]
The Sum Of All Fears - Special Collector's Edition [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Ben Affleck
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.94

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Thriller - Worth a Look, 20 Nov. 2004
Films like 'The Sum of All Fears' often get an unfair press, reviewers moaning about poor characterization, over-emphasis on visuals, plot-holes and other such things, when all the time these movies - techno-thrillers, as they're often known - are just doing what they supposed to be doing: entertaining the audience on quite a basic, bubble-gum level. This latest cinematic re-working of a Tom Clancy novel - starring Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, and a whole host of other 'name' actors - succeeds admirably on that level. Although at times it's a little dumber than it needs to be (making Jack Ryan a lot younger than he is in the book is part of the problem), most of the time it has the right blend of wit, excitement, tension, and explosions to carry the audience through.
Affleck is competent when he needs to be, and does a good job as Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin was better, though, in 'The Hunt for Red October'), but the real star of the show is Liev Schreibner (playing special ops agent John Clark) who in his limited screen time completely inhabits his role, and turns out a fantastic performance. Schreibner is one to watch. The other performances are all good, but the script isn't really asking a lot of top-class actors like Morgan Freeman or James Cromwell, and what they squeeze out is dependent on the scene they're in. But 'The Sum of All Fears' isn't about the actors - it's about the drama, the excitement, the thrills and spills. Even though the plot isn't all that complex, it seems like there is a lot happening, and as long as you don't think about it for too long, it holds itself together.
'The Sum of All Fears' doesn't match the sheer quality of 'The Hunt for Red October', and lacks the charisma of 'Clear and Present Danger', but it is nevertheless a pretty good adaptation of the lengthy (highly recommended) Tom Clancy novel. If you're looking for a bit of entertainment, give it a go. (Additionally, Tom Clancy's audio commentary with Phil Alden Robinson points out a lot of the factual inaccuracies and plot holes present in the movie, but it's worth listening to for amusement value alone - Clancy obviously doesn't like the liberties taken in adapting his novel, and Phil Alden Robinson spends a lot of being corrected and sounding apologetic.)


The Sum Of All Fears/Kiss The Girls/Along Came A Spider [DVD]
The Sum Of All Fears/Kiss The Girls/Along Came A Spider [DVD]
Dvd ~ Morgan Freeman

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Thriller - Worth a Look, 20 Nov. 2004
Films like 'The Sum of All Fears' often get an unfair press, reviewers moaning about poor characterization, over-emphasis on visuals, plot-holes and other such things, when all the time these movies - techno-thrillers, as they're often known - are just doing what they supposed to be doing: entertaining the audience on quite a basic, bubble-gum level. This latest cinematic re-working of a Tom Clancy novel - starring Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, and a whole host of other 'name' actors - succeeds admirably on that level. Although at times it's a little dumber than it needs to be (making Jack Ryan a lot younger than he is in the book is part of the problem), most of the time it has the right blend of wit, excitement, tension, and explosions to carry the audience through.
Affleck is competent when he needs to be, and does a good job as Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin was better, though, in 'The Hunt for Red October'), but the real star of the show is Liev Schreibner (playing special ops agent John Clark) who in his limited screen time completely inhabits his role, and turns out a fantastic performance. Schreibner is one to watch. The other performances are all good, but the script isn't really asking a lot of top-class actors like Morgan Freeman or James Cromwell, and what they squeeze out is dependent on the scene they're in. But 'The Sum of All Fears' isn't about the actors - it's about the drama, the excitement, the thrills and spills. Even though the plot isn't all that complex, it seems like there is a lot happening, and as long as you don't think about it for too long, it holds itself together.
'The Sum of All Fears' doesn't match the sheer quality of 'The Hunt for Red October', and lacks the charisma of 'Clear and Present Danger', but it is nevertheless a pretty good adaptation of the lengthy (highly recommended) Tom Clancy novel. If you're looking for a bit of entertainment, give it a go. (Additionally, Tom Clancy's audio commentary with Phil Alden Robinson points out a lot of the factual inaccuracies and plot holes present in the movie, but it's worth listening to for amusement value alone - Clancy obviously doesn't like the liberties taken in adapting his novel, and Phil Alden Robinson spends a lot of being corrected and sounding apologetic.)


Touching The Void [DVD] [2003]
Touching The Void [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Simon Yates
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £8.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 4 Nov. 2004
On one level, 'Touching the Void' is the story of Joe Simpson's superhuman survival of an accident on a mountain; on another, it is a story embodying all that is good about humanity - our wild need to try impossible things, our stubborn determination to survive whatever the world throws at us, and our craving to spread our stories, even when they are not entirely positive or ennobling, to others, so they might better understand what we have lived through. Because of all these things (and a few more besides), 'Touching the Void' is a classic of its form.
Pain in this film is remarkably well expressed. From the moment Joe breaks his leg - and after he has described, very visually, how it has been broken - the audience is again and again made to wince and almost turn away, until by the end, Joe's struggles are almost too painful to watch. Kevin Macdonald has done a sterling job of weaving together compelling interview footage with reconstructed scenes, ensuring that the audience sees vividly the intense sensations, physical and psychological, of Joe's struggle.
If you have a soul, 'Touching the Void' will ignite it, leaving you feeling changed. And if you've not already discovered Joe Simpson's books, you will probably want to - I, for one, intend to purchase and read all that he has written.


Akira: Vol. 2: Bk. 2
Akira: Vol. 2: Bk. 2
by Katsuhiro Otomo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.03

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Second Volume, 1 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Akira: Vol. 2: Bk. 2 (Paperback)
In the second volume of Katsuhiro Otomo's masterful science fiction epic, the heat is turned up a notch - a very big notch. More of the background is filled in, raising the tension; and the characters are further developed, drawing us closer to them. By the end the book - after giant lasers have fired down from space, and after Tokyo (or Neo-Tokyo) has come close to a second cataclysm - the reader is left wondering what could possibly fill the remaining volumes of this giant narrative. The finale - as compelling as you would expect - left me aching to read more.
Buy this, and buy volume three at the same time - to save yourself any unnecessary anguish.


Akira: Vol.1: Bk. 1
Akira: Vol.1: Bk. 1
by Katsuhiro Otomo
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great First Volume, 1 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Akira: Vol.1: Bk. 1 (Paperback)
Many people's first exposure to 'Akira' was the 1988 film; epic, visceral, and immensely accomplished, it is widely acknowledged as a classic of modern cinema. But Katsuhiro Otomo's masterpiece originated as a multi-volume comic, hundreds and hundreds of pages long. 'Akira' the comic is superior to 'Akira' the film in many ways; the massive scope of the illustrated work allows it to imagine its future world (Neo-Tokyo) with a breadth and depth impossible in a constrained cinematic timeframe.
And it is not only the visual, architectural splendour of the world that blossoms in this longer format; the social and cultural aspects of the world - the quirks that make every world tick - are also brought brilliantly to life turn. All together, the world of 'Akira' is one of the most vivid worlds to ever be recorded on paper.
This first volume establishes the background, setting up the landscapes (visual, thematic, and narrative) and introducing the characters who will become so compelling central to Otomo's story. The plot itself is too wonderful to spoil, too complex to effectively summarise. It is a book everyone should read and you would be foolish not to buy it now, along with volume two (and perhaps three).


Hellsing Volume 1
Hellsing Volume 1
by Kohta Hirano
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, Guns, and Killer Dialogue, 23 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Hellsing Volume 1 (Paperback)
It may be lacking the punchy, punctuating soundtrack of the TV series, but this book is easily as entertaining as its younger anime relative, and more stylish to boot. In short, it tells of the Hellsing Organisation, a secret group set up to protect the English Protestant church and monarchy against the monsters, particularly vampires. And one of their key weapons is a mysterious, sharp-dressing, wise-cracking, and very powerful vampire who goes by the name Alucard. The stories are slickly told and drawn with a stunningly precise eye for physical detail and emotional expression. The dialogue is, in turns, hilariously funny and shockingly grim. And if you have seen the anime, you'll be pleased to discover just how much story and drama was trimmed away to produce those meaty short episodes - there is much to treasure in these little volumes.


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