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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long way from round
I saw 'Long Way Round' and thought that 'Long Way Down' would be worth a watch, too, as I'd enjoyed LWR so much.

It was, without doubt, entertaining yet seemed hurried by comparison. I don't think they spent enough time on places they passed through though I do take the point that the whole thing was about their motorcycle experience. What they did show was...
Published on 20 Dec 2009 by Mr. R. Sparrow

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half Way Down?
Or should that be 'Don't Look Down' as some of the reviews on here have been a little savage. The project actually started in exactly the same vein as LWR and looked set to have all the neccessary ingredients for 6 hours of engrossing entertainment.

But after Tunisia, what happened? There is an interminable mid-section which consists of Ewan moaning, giving...
Published on 27 Dec 2007 by Prospero77


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half Way Down?, 27 Dec 2007
By 
Prospero77 "Prosp77" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Or should that be 'Don't Look Down' as some of the reviews on here have been a little savage. The project actually started in exactly the same vein as LWR and looked set to have all the neccessary ingredients for 6 hours of engrossing entertainment.

But after Tunisia, what happened? There is an interminable mid-section which consists of Ewan moaning, giving bedraggled diary entries to camera and a voice over that is bordering on a whine. They edit out the big barny they go on to have-why not all this negative stuff.

Other reviewers overlook the Unicef element and parts of the next section were very moving, detailing the terrible events in Rwanda in 94. But this was followed by the bizarre addition of Ewan's wife and 5 minute footage of her falling off her bike (lovely lady but bonkers all this).

In fact it all nearly recovered in Botswana with some beautiful camera work as the series was cued up nicely for a good climax when -whoosh- the end. The handling of the finale is abysmal. There is a retrospective voice over, a quick bike ride through South Africa, sentimental musak and cheesy 'we did it' monologue then it just ends. If a special edition is ever released they really need to address the climax because the series is really out of balance. Almost two episodes on prep and barely 15 minutes in South Africa.

LWR was a great series worthy of an award and Charlie and Ewan, contrary to other reviews aren't in the same arrogance league as say Clarkson and May, but the structure of this one was so rushed. Long Way Down? More like Half Way Down...after that something goes badly wrong-5/10
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long Way Frown, 11 Feb 2008
By 
Mr. S. R. Edwards "Cannibal Clegg" (Allhallows-on-Sea, Kent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Like most 'sequels', this one doesn't compare well to the original. Let me state at the outset that if you love travel, love Africa, love bikes, then you will enjoy this -- it's just that it doesn't have the novelty or the wide-eyed awe and sense of discovery that Long Way Round had. The sense that you have two guys out on their own on one big adventure is completely and utterly lost. Mind you, compared to something like Mondo Enduro, even Long Way Round didn't quite have that, but the extent to which the film crew and background characters feature on this DVD makes it a much weaker offering.

The biggest weakness for me is that people such as Russ Malkin and David Alexanian feature so heavily in this DVD, almost as if they sensed that this was their opportunity to make a bid for TV stardom themselves, to 'up' their public profiles to more evenly match McGregor and Boorman. They just keep appearing on the screen! In Long Way Down their occasional appearances on screen, and the dramas of their own journey as back-up, provided enjoyable -- but, crucially, separate -- counterpoint to McGregor and Boorman on the bikes, but here they feature so heavily as to be almost co-stars. The result of this is that you get no sense whatsoever that the boys on the bikes are on their own or in any way at risk of getting lost, of finding themselves in danger, or in situations where they really have to think on their feet to get through, which let's be honest, is a real draw of adventure stories. Instead, you get the sense that they are cossetted in amongst a much bigger corporate venture, one that is desperate for screen time itself. Conversely, this DVD loses much from having so few appearances by the third rider/cameraman Claudio Von Planta, who always kept a respectful distance in Long Way Down but featured there at just the right level to make him an enjoyable addition to the two on the bikes, and part of the biking story itself. Not here. So, the production/direction team themselves do much to make this a lesser DVD than their first one. If I'd wanted to buy a DVD called "A Film Crew Travelling Round the World in Expensive 4x4 Vehicles", I'd have bought one.

I've also mentioned that this DVD doesn't have the sense of adventure that Long Way Down had. I guess that to some extent this is unavoidable -- when you experience something for the first time (i.e. a round-the-world biking adventure), then subsequent experiences are never going to hit you at quite the same level of excitement. That said, they do travel through perhaps even more amazing places than on their first trip, if that were possible, so quite why they don't seem so dumbstruck by the whole thing is a bit of a mystery. I think that perhaps the two main reasons for this are firstly the absolutely over-the-top level of backup they take with them, which must have taken away some of the rawness and adventurial spirit of the whole trip (the cost of it all -- the expensive vehicles, top-of-the range kit, medics, fixers, hotels -- must surely have run to hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe more, but then maybe the comically sponsorship-emblazoned backup vehicles managed to claw back some of that expenditure). The second reason is perhaps that this trip genuinely seemed to be a much greater corporate exercise than Long Way Down. That first trip was borne out of McGregor and Boorman excitedly chatting about their dreams and ambitions of seeing the world from the seats of their motorbikes; this second trip seems to have been more about simply making a lucrative television series. All the sponsorship, major TV network scheduling, Radio Times covers, promotion and marketing, T-shirts, advance orders, podcasts, members-only websites etc etc etc just seems to me to be a bit too much, and serves only to detract from the original spirit of adventure that characterised Long Way Round.

Another huge issue with this series is the ridiculous timetable they travelled to. On a trip to Africa, it took me 10 weeks to travel between Kenya and Zimbabwe, and that wasn't nearly enough time to do justice to those countries. These guys attempt to travel from Scotland to South Africa in 3 months -- a ridiculous undertaking. They seem to realise this themselves very early on, but how it didn't occur to them in the planning stages that they were attempting to cram way way way too much mileage into their timeframe is hard to understand. It makes for a very frustrating viewing experience (they miss out on most of England and the Continent, and speed through North Africa faster than a speeding bullet!). Watching the episodes as they travel these first few weeks, you can clearly see that they have frustrated themselves, too.

I don't know if they have another journey/series planned, but if they do, I sincerly hope that it focuses just on the trip preparation and on-the-road experiences of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman -- very decent blokes that they seem to be -- and occasionally on the cameraman that travels with them, ditches the excessive backup, keeps the programme makers where they should be (i.e. behind the camera), and rediscovers some of the joy and spirit of adventure from their first series that seems to have largely eluded them this time.
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95 of 105 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 2 Jan 2008
By 
This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
After seeing "Long Way Round" (which I loved) and "The Race To Dakar" I was excited to learn that the old team came together once more to do another motorcycle adventure. Man, was I disappointed after watching the 6 episodes. LWD just feels so different from LWR. Long Way Round came across as a sincere adventure of 2 friends taking of in the unknown to find out if you can drive your motorcycle from London to New York. Long Way Down just can't deliver this. Why you ask ? Well, here are my reasons:

1. The level of support: This time around the level of support they organized is insane. Not only do they have 2 fully equipped 4x4 with 5 support crew follow them around, they also hired local guides which brought their own support vehicles and additional personnel. Other then in LWR the support crew was never further away then 2 hours. On top of this, they stayed in luxury hotels about half of the time, hired helicopters, private jets and private guides to do their "adventure" trips. Big deal - if you just throw enough money on it everybody can do these "adventures".
2. The whole trip feels rushed: Especially in the first 3 episodes the guys are under more scheduling pressure then a Wall Street Stock Broker. They have almost no time to stop anywhere just because of artificially induced scheduling constraints. What's the point on going on a 20k adventure-roadtrip if your are scheduled to arrive at certain points to the HOUR ? This actually created quite some friction between Ewan and Charley and it shows.
3. Ewan McGregors Family trip: The trip really degrades at times into a McGregor family outing. This was already annoying in the LWR, but here it's much worse. His father, his brother and his wife (which _never_ drove a motorcycle before - let alone offroad) all have to join Ewan at some stage or another. This is not in the spirit of LWR and again creates some friction between the two friends. And again - this shows in the series.
4. Biased Editing: For whatever reason the editing in LWD is very biased towards Ewan McGregor. Not only does he get much more screen time then Charley in general, but he also gets portrayed as the "sophisticated, caring celebrity and family man", which Charley is shown as the village idiot lighting his farts. All of Ewan's mood-swings and desperate moments of LWR have been edited out in LWD. And then there is almost NO mentioning of the 3rd rider and cameraman Claudio which deserves probably the most credit for his achievement.
5. Ewan McGregor calling the shots: It seems that this time around Ewan McGregor was calling all the shots. From route planing to equipment to scheduling to editing he was in charge and it seems like that Charley and rest of the team had very little influence on what happened. Towards the middle of the trip there must have been a major clash between Ewan and the rest of the team - which again - has been careful edited out. From there on out it seems like Charley is just saying the right things and just goes along for the ride instead of being a part of it. Maybe this is a indication of who is initially financing the whole thing ?
6. Way over commercialized: It would have been o.k. to make some more advertising for BMW motorcycles in LWD. They did provide the bikes and at the end of the day BMW touring bikes are very reliable and suitable for a trip like this. But what's with all the rest ? This stupid mobile-phone product placement. As if somebody in his right mind would rely on a mobile-phone based GPS system on a trip like this ? And then all the merchandizing! LWD logo's _everywhere_ . Did you check the website ? They actually want you to sign up for a PAID membership to download exclusive content and participate in their online discussion forums ? I guess that's one way of shutting up the critics.

So bottom line: Not even close to Long Way Round. As other reviewers said before: They got it all wrong. Don't buy it !
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars S Moffatt, 27 Dec 2007
By 
Sean Moffatt (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Having watched Long Way Round, I was looking forward to viewing Long Way Down. The first series (for those who are yet to view it) follows Ewan and Charlie (accompanied by Claudio- a motorcycle-bound cameraman) as they attempt to travel from London through Europe, Russia and then America towards New York.

The first series follows the actors as they encounter the varying cultures, landscapes (and the impact the landscapes have on their ambition to cross on their bikes) and confront their own emotions about the trip. The series seemed adventurous, interesting and enjoyable to watch due to the bonding between the three bikers and the challenge they had set themselves.

The second series (Long Way Down) has the brief of Ewan and Charlie (again accompanied by Claudio on a third bike) travelling from John O'Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa. This journey appeals mainly due to the riders travelling through Africa- a continent which will be unfamiliar to the majority of viewers.

Of the six episodes which make up the DVD, the first episode basically shows the riders preparing for the trip (interesting from a logistical point of view, however it appears a slight waste of time if this series is viewed as a travel documentary). The second episode takes quite some time with the riders travelling through the UK. Whilst this is interesting for viewers not from the UK, this again wastes valuable viewing time showing the riders (and the all-too-prominent support team) apparently having a relaxed journey through Scotland and England (stopping overnight at Silverstone race-track- random and not compelling viewing as little is mentioned about the track for motorsport enthusiasts and too much about the team setting up tents).

Similar to Long Way Round, there is very little screen time showing mainland Europe. The time which is covered tends to feature voice-overs of the riders continually complaining about their time-scale (perhaps this would not have been so noticeable if they hadn't taken 5 days to travel through the UK). The support team are also becoming more and more noticeable- instead of the support team being seen briefly at border crossing check-points, we now have the producers being shot within their support vehicles commenting about their concerns/issues about the trip. This pretty much sets the tone for the majority of the series. The riders complain frequently about the distances they are attempting to cover and stating that time constraints are affecting their enjoyment of the trip. The support team have quite a lot of screen time, including a developing issue relating to two personnel (both American) stressing about whether they will get a visa to enter Libya. This issue runs throughout the first three episodes. Whilst this must be of great personal interest to those concerned, this takes valuable time away from what should be the focus of the series- Ewan and Charlie- after all the support team are supposed to be just that.

For the remainder of the series, it appears that the riders have limited experiences (such as the riders meeting local people and commenting about the cultural changes as they proceed on their trip) to comment on. Instead, the series has too much footage featuring on-board videos of the riders driving along highways (albeit with changing scenery) with voice-overs about how tired they are/ too much distance expected to be covered in their timescale, etc. Claudio (the cameraman), a prominent character to the adventure on the last series, is hardly seen during the entire trip. There also appears to be tension between Ewan and Charlie, especially with Ewan bringing along various family members throughout the trip- brother and dad at the start, followed by the decision to let Eve (Ewan's wife) ride with them for a week or so in Africa despite Eve not having any experience riding prior to the start of filming for the series. This leads to Charlie ride off over more testing terrain whilst Ewan and Eve go along easier routes (complete with Eve crashing her bike apparently every 5 minutes). Whilst it is apparent that Eve seems enthusiastic to ride with her husband, allowing a novice to ride in Africa means that the route appears to have been altered to accomodate Eve's presence, and the bond between Ewan and Charlie is broken during this time, causing Charlie to look uncomfortable and redundant during this sequence. I would have thought that Ewan should have suggested that he accompanies his wife on a private biking holiday, rather than impacting on this series (which is supposed to be following Ewan AND Charlie, not Ewan, family and a friend). The bond between Ewan and Charlie appears to be damaged throughout the series causing the viewer to sense tension between the two riders, making this series less enjoyable to watch.

In summary I found LWD to be an exercise in self-indulgency for both the producers, Ewan (especially) and Charlie. The series was generally unpleasant to watch (due to tensions between the riders, mainly caused by timescale issues). This is in marked contrast with LWR where you wanted to feel involved with both Ewan and Charlie, as if you have been invited to share their adventure with them. There was very little focus on actual locations/ people they meet/ cultures they experience, etc and too much focus on on-board cameras watching landscape (and opportunities to develop the journey through meeting others) slip by.

Whilst I would certainly recomend LWR, I could not recommend LWD in its current format. The series would have made far more sense if it was called "Africa" and started with the riders starting their journey IN Africa- this would give them more time on the "interesting" part of their journey- and hopefully removed some of the pressure of 'pressing on down the road'. Another issue with the LWD series is poor editing and an apparent lack of focus in the series- the riders are not given enough screen time whilst there is too much emphasis on following the support crew. If the support crew believe that their story is worth telling, they should release their own accompanying series "Supporting LWD" to highlight their adventures and illustrate the logistics behind the series- however I believe the general public would be uninterested in following their story.

The DVD should have been offered on release as an extended edition (say 8 rather than 6 episodes) to expand on scenes and themes covered in the series to hopefully bring more insight into the journey. Currently the DVD is essentially the same as the TV series, meaning that certain African countries appear to have been edited into a montage. I'm sure that an extended edition will be launched in the near future, however with the majority of the reviews for this DVD being so poor, I believe that the LW team might have lost the interest of many fans of LWR with this mediocre offering.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear! Such a let down., 26 Dec 2007
By 
Claire (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
A series with great potential, very disppointingly lost, due in the main to appauling directorial decisions. The brilliance of the first series was completed missed in this, and the magic between Ewan, Charlie and their thrill in exploration had barely got started by the time they reached their destination. This was mainly due to the rediculous idea of introducing Ewan's wife to the team, and their route being horrendously over planned and as it turned out badly planned. What was the director thinking, did he have no idea why we liked the first one i.e. the adventure and bonding of 2 guys as they overcame adversity.

This series was over prepared, so there was no adversity to over come, and the route was over planned, so when it didn't do what they wanted we had to go through weeks of them whineing about how bad the route was timing wise, before the plans were changed. Thus, stopping the guys from enjoying the trip and therefore loosing the point completely as far as the viewer was concerned.

In addition the producer and director seemed to think we cared what they were doing and thinking. Since when does anyone want to see the production team on a documentary, do we meet Palin or Attenborough's production crew as they travel around the world, I don't think so! This simply rang of not having enough footage of anything interesting going on!

The final nail in the coffin for this series, was the failure on the part of the director to tell Ewan and his wife that this was essentially a TV program, or at least that's how the trip was being funded, and not a holiday. If she wants to go adventuring with Ewan, they needed to do it on their own time. Her presence even meant at times that Ewan and Charlie were taking separate routes, as her riding wasn't up to anything tricky! From the second the idea was introduced the Charlie/Ewan bond was broken, and until she'd come and gone the magic of the previous series was prevented from happening.

Such a shame, I was so excited to hear it was happening, and had planned to buy the DVD's and the book, but having seen it on the TV I won't be, and I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling like this.
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53 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Big Let Down, 2 Dec 2007
By 
Richard J. Flanagan (zug, switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
After 86 days and 15000 miles, the boys are able to give us approximately 4 hours of well, nothing really. This trip may have been adventure for them, but certainly not for the viewers. I still can't believe that they travelled the length of Africa with so little to show for it. The final espisode follows their final leg of the ride from Malawi through Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and on to their final destination in South Africa - completed in a little over 45 minutes on film - what a bore! The cameras were turned on the two 4 wheel drive support cars for much of the time, with the odd shot of one of the bikes up ahead with either Ewan and Charley screaming the odd few words into their helmets to give the viewer a sense of excitement that otherwise wouldn't be there. A few stops at UNICEF sponsored projects along the way helped fill in the gaps a bit, but that didn't really work either. Charley was so unfullfilled, it seems by the whole thing, that he even manages to squeeze a bungy jump in at the very end. I suppose I can't blame him for that.

My personal message to Charley and Ewan is - next time guys, do it alone, just the two of you and maybe the Swiss guy too to take the photos, but leave the two SUVs behind along with the doctor, the fixers, the telephones and the vacuum packed ready meals. You might then get a sense of a real adventure and perhaps even discover something great about yourselves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long way from round, 20 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. R. Sparrow "Rick in Eye" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I saw 'Long Way Round' and thought that 'Long Way Down' would be worth a watch, too, as I'd enjoyed LWR so much.

It was, without doubt, entertaining yet seemed hurried by comparison. I don't think they spent enough time on places they passed through though I do take the point that the whole thing was about their motorcycle experience. What they did show was very good indeed but I do feel that they could have given us a little more depth but they were probably saving time to accomodate MacGregors wife. I didn't enjoy the friction it caused between the boys nor did I like the time constraints that were very evident in the first few parts. This again caused very visible friction between them and did nothing to enhance the production. I didn't like the very obvious amount of money that had been thrown at this production which was very evident in the standard of accomodation they enjoyed throughout much of the trip. It did nothing to enhance what was supposed to be a fairly 'iffy' yet epic journey.

I took exception to the appearance of "the wife" aboard a motorcycle she couldn't stay on and how Charlie was abandoned for the days that she was present. I thought it was all about the two boys on an epic journey and was dismayed that "the wife" was allowed to muscle in on the easiest part of the route yet still managed to keep falling off. If I'd wanted to see a film about relationships then I'd have bought one. It smacked too much of "Prima Donna'ish behaviour and left me wondering if threats like "If she doesn't come for this part of the trip then its all off" were made to the film company and they were given no option but to indulge him.

I'm glad I bought it, though, as some of the profits, apparently, go to charity but the series really is nowhere near as good as LWR and if a star rating were required then LWR would get 10 with LWD getting 5.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not so good, 5 Jun 2009
This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Long Way Down: Complete BBC Series [DVD]I really enjoyed Long Way Round. It had a real adventure feel that I found appealing. It motivated me to do the things I wanted to in life, to make my own luck, to challenge myself and experience life's up and downs, to trust in others more and to learn from my mistakes and to become a stronger person. I have alot of respect for Ewan and Charley from what they did on this adventure. They may seem to be privileged in someway with the help and back up they received in the making of this DVD. But I have no doubt that they have made their own luck in life through hard work that helped them to achieve their goals.

Long Way Down did not spark any of these emotions for me. Although I can appreciate it was a tough trip from them. It felt more of a commercial venture than two mates going on another adventure.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Its the Sloane Ranger and TomTom - again", 31 Jan 2008
By 
This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
There is a well worn biking mantra, "Its not the destination, its the journey" and one cannot take that away from these two, as John O' Groats to South Africa is a pretty decent journey. One mustn't forget that Charley has also taken part in the Dakar rally, a real hard-arsed event, so, `respect`and 2 stars just for that, but that's it. Although there are some interesting snapshots in this second, heavily supported and sponsored `jolly`, after `The Long Way Round` it is a big yawn. The wheelie'ing antics of Charley really are tiresome (most skilled riders could do one, but most responsible riders don't) and even the crew had a go at him about their concerns. This was proved right when in the final episode he wiped out the unsung hero, poor Claudio the cameraman, in yet another ego wheelie. For those interested in what can be achieved with nil sponsorship, old technology and good old fashioned guts, they should take a look at "The Last Hurrah" DVD and book (both available on Amazon) to see what can be achieved with a fraction of what "The Long Way" had. Sorry guys, but thats it. No more repeats, please.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear oh dear...., 2 Jan 2008
This review is from: Long Way Down [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I feel slightly sorry for these two. They seem to have been given the worst advice from an exploitative bunch of plonkers who then have the cheek to accompany them almost every step of the way. The director proudly claims that they will only meet up at borders - however the programme reveals frequent contact. All the adventure and excitement has been stripped from the film of the trip. How one of the riders did not die on their hurried night ride through the deserts... The editing is appalling - revealing little of Africa - only Charlie putting one foot then the other firmly in his mouth, and Ewan becoming increasingly luvvie. Perhaps the editor is a little twisted as the lowpoint scene of Charlie walking in to a village and asking `So, how many wives do you have then?' as an opener to the head man - made it into the programme. How come there so many more horses ar*es than there are horses? Does little to promote the British tourist abroad. Sorry lads, you should have known better. Can I give zero stars? Avoid at all costs.
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