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Caleb Williams (Liverpool)

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Original Christmas Classics Gift Set [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Original Christmas Classics Gift Set [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Fred Astaire

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 9 Dec 2010
I won't go into much detail about the stories, characters and other stuff like that as it's highly likely that any parent considering buying this set will be very familiar with the stories. Featuring Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, Frosty Returns and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, these are all genuine Christmas classics that can bring the whole family together, and have been given an upgrade to stunning HD to ensure the entire family will enjoy them for more years to come.

Something I would strongly recommend.

Philips DS3000/05 Fidelio Docking Speaker System for iPod and iPhone
Philips DS3000/05 Fidelio Docking Speaker System for iPod and iPhone

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 30 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The clarity of sound and bass given off by this wonderful device makes it a worthy addition to anyone's gadget shelf. Suitable for all iPod/iPhone devices, this is definitely worth the purchase.

The Karate Kid [2010] [DVD]
The Karate Kid [2010] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jaden Smith
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: 4.67

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Karate Kid - Putting the original aside, how does this work?, 4 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Karate Kid [2010] [DVD] (DVD)
Having not seen the original Karate Kid for many years, the content, story and overall feel of the original is simply lost in the annals of time as a result of my terrible memory. So with that, I'll say that my review will be written as if the original Karate Kid movie had never been made and this was an entirely original piece. For me to try and make a comparison would create a review based on false ideas and comparisons, which is not what I want my reviews to be.

The film came as a surprise as Jackie Chan took on a role which I am totally unfamiliar with him playing, and that is the serious role of a man who is deeply traumatised by his past, and looking for something to make his life better. Jaden Smith, son of the fantastic Will Smith, is a young actor I wasn't entirely impressed by with his role in the remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still", but also surprised me in his role as Dre Parker.

The film focuses around 12 year old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his Mom who move to China to start life anew. Struggling to settle in, Dre encounters maintenance man, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan, and also an entirely unintentional rhyme) who saves Dre from a beating by a gang of Kung Fu bullies. There's nothing more dangerous than a Kung Fu bully I'll have you know. After saving Dre, Mr. Han agrees to help train Dre in the art of Kung Fu to prepare him for a tournament which will get rid of the bullies once and for all.

The false advertisement of calling it "The Karate Kid" aside, this is actually a really good film. They acknowledge that it is not Karate but Kung Fu that Dre is learning, but whatever the martial art, it is still done really well. The setting of China couldn't have been more perfect for a number of different reasons. The fish-out-of-water plot, the cultural and scenic perspective the film is told from works perfectly and allows the plot and its characters to truly flourish.

Jaden Smith, from a family of acting royalty couldn't have been more perfect for the role. He's clearly a kid who feels comfortable in front of a camera and has a bright future ahead of him; some of the beatings he received from the bullies in the film were a bit too harsh to be comfortable viewing considering he's a 12 year old, but he's a very good actor all the same. Chan performed well as the quiet, tormented and mysterious Mr. Han and this is without a doubt a great stepping stone to a more serious career for Jackie Chan.

Overall, the film was great. It dragged at times and I didn't really feel the chemistry between Smith & Chan, although they performed well individually. The Chinese setting presented some breathtaking shots and managed to portray Dre's awkwardness starting a fresh life really well. The supporting cast, including Dre's love interest, were a simple tag on to the main plot and help you become more emotionally invested in the young life of Dre Parker.

Gamer [DVD]
Gamer [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gerard Butler
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: 3.46

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gamer - Wouldn't it be brilliant if all the soldiers I killed in Call of Duty 4 were real?, 22 Aug 2010
This review is from: Gamer [DVD] (DVD)
There seems to be developing a trend in recent years with these films being critical of society and the way it looks to be going. Films such as Live! [DVD] [2008], Surrogates [Blu-ray] [2009] and now this all seem to enjoy saying the same thing; "This is an image of you society and we don't like it". Ken Clarke's one of the originators of this type of film with his collection of films featuring teenagers getting down and dirty under the sheets. Clarke's films were quite deep, clever and had a serious message to send. "Gamer" - on the other hand - said "we don't like this blood thirsty society, phwoar look at that man's head explode, that was so testosterone pumpingly awesome; now here's a pair of breasts for you to enjoy". I usually like these types of films, as they usually have something quite serious to say, whilst at the same time still managing to be entertaining. "Gamer" was just confusing from this stand-point because, on the one hand it tries to be critical of a blood thirsty society, whilst at the same time being a film that caters to exactly that type of audience.

In the year of the future a maniac by the name of Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has invented self replicating nanites which allow people to remotely control the movements of others. This technology led to the creation of the game "Society" where fat, spotty, disgusting teenagers would pay to control other people who are paid to be controlled and have them have sex with each other or just be downright depraved without leaving the comfort of your own sofa. It's also led to the creation of convict slaying computer game "Slayer" which allows gamers to control death row convicts in a call of duty deathmatch type game where, if the controlled player, in this instance "Kable" (Gerrard "KING LEONIDAS" Butler), wins 30 rounds they are set free. He just has to rely on the skills of his controller and a computer hacking pro-humanity group aptly called, "Humanz" to get good old "Kable" free to get his revenge on that madman Castle.

It's got enough blood spattered walls and breasts to please any 13 year old, or every adult with the IQ of a goldfish. Let's look at "Gamer" in the context of a relationship. "Gamer" is the dominant one while its audience are the naive loved up puppy just wanting to see someone be blown apart by a grenade. Now and again "Gamer" will give its audience the love and affection it deserves by showing enough nudity and gore to give any red-blooded male a semi; but then "Gamer" has the dark, hidden personality that rears its ugly head in the odd scene and starts abusing its audience. "Look, see this fat greasy scumbag teenager. This is you. I hate you. You're disgusting" but will then realise the harshness of what it's just done, apologise to its loved up audience and promises never to hurt it again, and proceeds with the blood and nudity.

If you look past the self loathing, violent relationship between the film and its viewers, you will be mildly entertained by the mindless action and the - sort of - twist. Michael C. Hall makes me want to watch this film as he's just truly magnificent for every moment he's on screen. You're never sure whether he's, just all of a sudden, going to go slightly mental and start dancing around a sombrero singing la cucaracha while punching a small animal just for the hell of it, as he comes across as that unbalanced. King Leonidas does what he does best which is violently mutilating people while looking intensely into the camera making to worried about whether he's going to punch you just for watching the film. The supporting cast members are forgettable to say the least, as they're merely there to try and give the films plot more purpose and meaning, but just winds up becoming too cliché to bare.

If you do decide to watch this at some point, then you should probably drink a lot before hand.

Everything is Broken: The Untold Story of Disaster Under Burma's Military Regime
Everything is Broken: The Untold Story of Disaster Under Burma's Military Regime
by Emma Larkin
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Emma Larkin - Everything is broken, except this book., 15 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I know the review title is terrible, but I couldn't think of anything clever. The book, is truly superb from start to finish. Covering the Cyclone Nargis tragedy of 2008 and the Burmese monk protests of 2007, Larkin paints a terrifying picture of a country under an extremely oppressive military regime. She paints a picture of terror, brutality and callousness on an unimaginable level. I wasn't much familiar with Burma and its military rule, and only vaguely recall the protests of 2007 and hearing about the shocking brutality used to quash the protests. The story of the Cyclone was new to me, but no less shocking when reading the personal stories of those involved whose lives were destroyed by the regime's refusal to allow international aid. The book delves further into the personal lives and spirituality of the Burmese people, and attempts to shed some light on the military regime and its history, but makes very clear that the regime do everything within their power to ensure that as little information on the regime escapes the country as possible.

Really good book.

Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern
Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern
by Simon Winder
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth your time., 15 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Told in an anecdotal, conversational style, this book covers a large portion of the history of Germany from the Roman Empire right up to the unfortunate days of Hitler. Despite the fractures in its history, the book manages to paint a beautiful picture of the country that makes it both interesting and entertaining. After reading this you probably won't want to bother with any other German history book as they won't be as entertaining as this.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 12, 2012 9:19 PM GMT

Surrogates [DVD]
Surrogates [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 3.96

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surrogates - Welcome to the future, 9 Aug 2010
This review is from: Surrogates [DVD] (DVD)
The film "Surrogates" when first released in the cinema escaped my attention, and I only really watched it by both coincidence and my own laziness. Picture the scene, you have the movie channel on, it's late, you're tired and you can't find the remote. Rather than getting up to look for it I thought to myself "f*** it, I'll just watch what's on next"; what was on next was Surrogates. Suddenly very vague memories of the times seeing the trailer and thinking to myself "hmm, I should see that" came flushing back and I simply decided to keep watching. Not a particularly engaging or important film, what really captivated me was that this film said a hell of a lot more than I imagined it would about the society that we live in and the way it's going.

Set sometime in the future, humans have decided to lie back and live out their lives as remotely controlled androids built to their specifications. Almost the entire human race decides to live out their lives in these robotic bodies, but a few small reservations of humanity, who choose not to live as robots still exist and, lead by a man known as The Prophet (Ving Rhames), seek to end this abomination. A string of mysterious murders take place where the android is destroyed using a special weapon, which at the same time kills its controller. Called in to investigate these crimes are Agents Greer (Bruce Willis) & Peters (Radha Mitchell).

Agent Greer has a more personal presence on the screen (as he is the star, durr) and it deals with the more personal impacts of living your life in the body of a robot. Agent Greer struggles to reconcile his differences with his wife over the failing relationship with his wife and lack of any human contact between them, as they have only come to communicate via their androids, motivated by the death of their son. The investigation into the cause of the murders comes with a lot of surprises both fairly humorous and genuinely surprising.

The message of the movie was the most interesting element of the whole thing. Sure, there were some great action scenes and Bruce Willis' presence was what really secured this movie's credibility, but it said so much about the way in which society seems to be going. We've become an internet obsessed society, a medium which can allow us to become whoever we want and with games such as "Second Life" and "World of Warcraft" having literally millions of users, they allow for a welcome escapism from the horror or pain of real life. Personally, I would say it's only a matter of something like 100 years at the most and we will be close to the society depicted in this movie.

Starring one of actions biggest legends, the script isn't great, but you can't go wrong with some excellent action and a truly intriguing concept. Buy it, you'll enjoy it. I promise.

The Third Man
The Third Man
by Peter Mandelson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Peter Mandelson - I didn't do it., 8 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Third Man (Hardcover)
No, politicians aren't the most popular people in the world, and I think it's fair to say that "Mandy" is one of the worst of an already bad bunch. The New Labour project ended in disaster under the rule of Gordon Brown; but from this book alone I got the idea that it could have been so much better had ego's been set aside and the true modernising ambition of the New Labour triumvirate put first. No really a book filled with political "revelations " as a lot of the stories told within, the public were already aware of, the stories told by Mandelson were merely his perspective and generally went along the lines of "it was someone else's fault" or "it wasn't as bad as the papers were making out".

There are a number of issues that Mandelson failed to really put across and actually made worse in my view. He mentioned the "cash for honours" scandal which enveloped and nearly destroyed the Labour government at one point. He mentioned that various names would make donations to the party and "expect something in return" but did nothing to try and explain away or justify the assumption of corruption you can get from this, really he puts across the assumption that if you think it's corruption, then you're a bit silly. Naturally the Brown/Blair rivalry, which begun with the alleged deal allegedly made in the Granita restaurant, plays quite a prominent part in the book but it wasn't exactly surprising considering the time it was released and Mandelson's role in the feud.

The deal is never confirmed nor denied in the book, although Mandelson labels a deal to step down after two terms as "unlikely", mention that it's possible a deal to step down and support Gordon as leader was made, but insists on the unlikelihood that Blair would have agreed to an exact timetable. The idea of Gordon Brown having quite a volatile personality isn't exactly new as we've heard about it from time to time during the entire length of the New Labour government. I felt that Mandelson portrayed Gordon as the villain of the piece; a man hell bent on achieving the power of Prime Minister, but was ultimately brought down by his own determination and ego. The strong and aggressive ego of Gordon Brown was not the only problem of New Labour as Blair was painted as weak, and only kept Gordon Brown as chancellor because he feared a Brown revolt if he would attempt to remove him.

Although not exactly the most popular person in the world, Mandelson is known for his charm and fun sense of humour. Unfortunately, a lot of this seems to be lost within the pages of the book as it lacks any real emotion or humour; this isn't without trying, however. He would have a go at explaining emotional reactions to certain situations, but you wouldn't really feel it as it just appeared he was including certain things possibly because the publisher told him more emotion would make him appear more human. The epilogue of the book is one of the better parts of the whole thing, not because it's the last chapter of the book, but because he uses this as a means of reflecting on the years gone by and acknowledging the mistakes he and the New Labour project made during their time before and during their time in government.

It was a good and informative book. I would have liked a more personal background to his life, especially his upbringing, and I would have certainly enjoyed more genuine emotion invested into the memoirs. Of course, this book was rushed out in order to capitalise on the hype of the recent general election, and the rushing is evidenced in a number of obvious spelling and grammatical errors, which would have been ironed out had more time been spent on ensuring the book's overall quality. l. I'm sure he will pop up in a future Labour government (whenever that may be) as he's become the political itch that you can get rid of for a short time, but always returns when you least expect it. Factually engaging and politically intriguing this is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.

George Washington: A Biography
George Washington: A Biography
by Washington Irving
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Washington - How to build a nation, 2 Aug 2010
Now I want to say at the offset that although my review may become critical and doubtful of the brilliance of Washington as he is portrayed in this book, I am not looking for reasons to put the man down through nitpicking, but I felt that this was a very awestruck account of Washington and was a little biased as a result. This is really an excellent biography of a man whose name transcends the time and nation in which he helped to create and even now, when you mention the name, George Washington, to even the most simple of non-Americans 99% of them will tell you he was the first president of the United States of America. That's the image everyone has of him; but very few, including myself until I read this, are familiar with his military history and prowess in the times of the revolutionary war.

I'm not going to recite the history of Washington in brief terms as you can all find the stuff out you need to know by simply having a browse of Wikipedia, or better yet, buying this book. Washington Irving is a man who, as a young child, met George Washington and received a pat on the head from the great Commander-In-Chief. This definitely seems to have had an effect on the author as in his mind, the president can do no wrong and through recounting the man's history, he appears to be without flaw. As we know, however, George Washington was human and as a human he has his flaws like we all do. Irving seems to have missed any mention of a flaw of the great man and that made this feel more like biographical story book, rather than a full fledged biography which was disappointing.

The story of the great mans exploits are really something to enjoy when you sit down and get into it. The tales of the revolutionary war are very heavy in detail and, as another reviewer said, a lack of maps or diagrams made it a tad hard to follow when it came to descriptions of particular destinations and so on. The descriptions of landmark battles and so on are really well put together and create an exciting atmosphere around the story the author is trying to put across. Because of the time it was written, there is also a lot of archaic language within the book which for some may be a bit hard going, but you will get used to it and become enthralled by the story you witnessing and picturing in your own imagination.

There is no doubt that George Washington was a great man. After all, he led the United States to independence from Britain and became the first president of the independent United States of America. But, I still feel a bit disappointed by the bias displayed in this book and felt the man could have been better served had there been a more two sided analysis of his behaviour, rather than the obvious awe-struck discussion in this book. However, that's not to take away the fact that it is a superb read and if you have an interest in the revolutionary war, then this is certainly a book you want to pick up at one time or another.

Toy Story 3 [DVD] [2010]
Toy Story 3 [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: 5.42

59 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Toy Story - Remember the good old days of your childhood?, 1 Aug 2010
This review is from: Toy Story 3 [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I remember seeing the original Toy Story when I was just 9 years old when life was so much simpler and the adventure of Toy Story provided some welcome entertainment. 15 years later and we now have Toy Story 3; life is a lot more complicated, but Toy Story 3 isn't just casual entertainment, it becomes a welcome escapism reminiscent of a childhood long gone. There was no doubt whatsoever that this film would be a success as the franchise had built up quite a following. Every adults inner child would have been screaming incessantly as soon as it heard the announcement that there would be a third Toy Story. I know I was excited from the moment I saw the teaser for the film and wanted to know more and more every day as to where they would take the story next.

Andy (John Morris) is now 17 years old and preparing to go to college. Almost all Andy's old toys have already been either thrown away in the trash or donated, all the toys that are left are Buzz (Tim Allen), Woody (Tom Hanks), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Bullseye, Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), Mr & Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles & Estelle Harris), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn) and the Green Aliens (Jeff Pidgeon). They are worried about what will happen to them when Andy goes to college, will they be thrown in the trash, left in the attic or will Andy take them with him. The third option being the most unlikely. When Andy is packing his stuff, the toys find themselves ending up in Sunnyside day care centre, which seems like heaven to them all. Run by Lotso (Ned Beaty), what seems to be a heaven for toys turns out to be somewhat of a hell for the old gang and they have to find a way back home before Andy goes to college.

I'm a massive fan of the original movies as these are something I've literally grown up with. The bits of adult type humour I didn't really get when I watched the films when I was younger, I enjoy watching again and getting new and more fruitful laughs. Toy Story 2 was shown on TV a few weeks ago and it was a genuine pleasure to watch something I had not watched for a number of years and still managing to be able to enjoy the humour and the message to pass onto the kids about friendship and loyalty. The message was strong then, and it's good to know that the message hasn't been lost in the 11 year gap leading to Toy Story 3, and is actually even stronger. The characters that were left are tied together, stronger than ever by the fact that it's only them left and they do not want to be split up, but in fact if they can't stay with Andy, they want a new home where they will be played with every day.

The animation has seen a significant upgrade in almost every department. Lee Unkrich has commented that when approaching the animation for this movie, the makers have not approached it in the mind that it must look the same as the last two instalments. They animators approached it with the mind of making Toy Story 3 look how they would have wanted the originals to look, had the technology been as advanced as it is now. There's definitely an upgrade in look and feel of the characters and the atmosphere of the whole thing, especially with the human characters as it makes their story a lot more believable, and allows the viewer to invest more emotion into the story.

The characters both new and old are excellent and create some hilarious moments. Possibly the best addition to the Toy Story cast was Barbie's male counterpart, Ken who's as camp and image obsessed as you would possibly imagine him to be. Lotso, the villain of the film was quite the typical villain you would expect. A mob boss of sorts in the setting of the day care centre, he's a toy that was lost and replaced as a youngster who feels bitter and angry towards the humans and the toys that play with them. Although I understood why Lotso was the character he was, I never really understood why he was so hell bent on keeping the toys locked up in the day care centre. Perhaps that was just a negative symptom of me not paying much attention to that part of the story.

Overall, however, the film was truly splendid from start to finish. The characters were both as enjoyable and lovable as I remember them and it contained some truly hearty laughs, my personal favourite was the Spanish Buzz Lightyear trying to win Jessie's heart. I would highly recommend this to anyone still in touch with their inner child, or someone looking to introduce these characters to a new generation as it's promising entertainment for the entire family.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2010 4:26 PM GMT

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