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Philips Azur GC4641 2400 Watt Steam Iron With Auto Shut Off
Philips Azur GC4641 2400 Watt Steam Iron With Auto Shut Off

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a big ole bird, 26 May 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When you open up the box, you'll be flabbergasted by the size... it's pretty much a small canoe. Only it's heavier. I opened it up with my mum and there was a lot of "ooooh" and "It looks like a spaceship!" going on, so it's definitely very impressive to look at. Tis very sleek and reflective and stylish.

So it's big, which is fine... but it's also heavy. I didn't think to weigh it, but if you hold it by your side, it's heavy enough to drag your arm down at the shoulder. When I used it on an ironing board it was easier, of course, but it's easily double the weight of my last iron.

It absolutely glided through creases, though - literally like a hot knife through room-temperature butter, and very little pressure was needed so you don't actually have to exert yourself too much, even with the extra weight. It's ionic, but I've just never understood what that means, or what it does. It makes a low level humming sound which I actually found a little annoying, but putting on music in the background drowned it out, so all's well that shakes-yer-rump well.

The manual says it can be used vertically (for curtains, etc) but I didn't even try as the weight really is prohibitive in that respect. Instead, I tried a pair of heavy linen trous that were rumpled beyond belief after months of winter neglect and they came up a silky treat, so I can see them doing an excellent job on heavy curtains. It also has an automatic shut off system, in case you leave it unattended, or if it falls over which, in practise, is actually brilliant. Never again would you have to turn around 5 miles into your journey cos you think you left the iron on. It's really very reassuring, and the best aspect of it, I think.

I'm not an expert on irons, at all... I don't mind the odd wrinkle so my frame of reference is limited, but this is definitely a nifty piece of kit. However, realistically, it's also jolly expensive. It's got definite style, and it does have substance so if you have £70-odd to spend on an iron, you could definitely do a lot worse. But if you decided to go for something a little less extravagant, I don't think you'd be missing out on anything life-altering.

Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian [DVD] [2009]
Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £3.19

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh of a mehness, 25 May 2009
The magic formula that was so abundant in the first one is sorely lacking in this, the second. Night at the Museum was excellent because it felt like it sort of stumbled across something lovely - it was the group of mates that get together in someone's garage and throw together something wonderfully haphazard and joyous. The sequel, though, falls foul of the Tricky Second Album Curse with its taking itself far too seriously and being far too polished.

That's not to say it doesn't have its good points. Larry (Ben Stiller) has left the museum having made his fortune selling, amongst other Price Drop TVesque tat, a torch that glows in the dark. (Quite want one.)

He's called back to the museum on what turns out to be the night before most of the exhibits are packed in crates and taken away - some to the Smithsonian, others to the great exhibition in the sky. When they get there, the tablet that brought all the characters to life in the first outing is still making with the jiggerypokery, and it brings to life Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), an ancient Egyptian dictator type with a lisp who wants to rule the world.

So, with the help of friends from the first, and new friend Amelia Earhart (played delightfully by Amy Adams - who appears to be starring in almost any film you care to mention... how is she doing that? I suspect Disney actually created her, then made loads of copies) he has to wrestle power back from naughty mummy-dude and underlings, Napoleon and Al Capone.

If it doesn't sound overly interesting, it's cos it's not. It's too aware of itself, and it's all a little cynical and lacklustre. If you've seen the trailers, with mummy-dude taunting Darth Vader, you've seen the best bit. It's still a phenomenal cast, with luminaries-British such as Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan reprising their roles, along with luminaries-non-British such as Owen Wilson and Robin Williams also reprising their roles, and luminaries-sort-of-British, such as Christopher Guest... plus it has monkeys dressed as people which is always funny. And yet, it manages to disappoint.

A perfectly nice family film, but it has very little replay value, and older kids and adults won't be nearly as charmed as little folk.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2009 11:46 PM BST

Lennox/Dawkins - the God Delusion Debate [DVD]
Lennox/Dawkins - the God Delusion Debate [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Lennox
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.31

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a salve, 19 May 2009
Dawkins is a world renowned scientist, and probably the leading proponent of "New Atheism"; John Lennox is a leading mathematician and Christian apologist (largely using the philosophy of science). Both are professors and fellows at Oxford University, and both are are intellectually unimpeachable. So to see them debate something as important as God (or "The God Delusion Debate", to give it its official title) is truly fascinating, in a culture where the debate has become horribly cruel, hateful and polemical.

As a Christian, I feel very wary of Dawkins: I am fully aware of the scorn he would pour upon me were we to meet, and I am aware of his (reputed) unwillingness to debate people of faith. But, in this debate, he comes across as a gentleman, and it was a lovely surprise. He slips in the odd barb, and there was a smattering of undeniable venom, but he was mostly respectful, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to listen to him expound on his opinions without its being so pejorative-laced and didactic.

The structure of the debate is a little frustrating - as Dawkins himself says, he rather wishes he were permitted to respond directly to Lennox, as opposed to taking turns in expressing their views. But, the debate covers 6 main points in Dawkins's The God Delusion, so while it's not comprehensive, it gives them both ample - and, importantly, equal - opportunity to talk. The 6 points of discussion, as plucked from the book, are:

~ faith is blind, and science is evidence-based

~ science - in particular, evolution - supports atheism, and not Christianity

~ who designed the Designer?

~ Christianity is dangerous

~ no-one needs God to be moral

~ Christian claims about the nature of Jesus are not true

I don't want to use this review as an opportunity to ram my own beliefs down anyone's throat, so I won't discuss the content of the actual debate, nor how persuasive I found it, as it's subjective and, within a review, irrelevant. Suffice it to say, in watching this, my faith was strengthened. By the same token, I think an avowed atheist will find their opinion strengthened, too. People in the middle, though, may find this immensely thought-provoking and, in places, surprising and it's really 50/50 as to which side of the debate will be found more persuasive.

Towards the end of the debate, the rigid structure causes it to stumble slightly, with both chaps becoming frustrated and losing their respective trails of thought. (Lennox, incidentally, discusses his side of the debate in his own book.) But it remains polite - if slightly more prickly than it began - and given how ugly the entire debate has become, it is a genuine relief, and a salve, and be you (rational) Christian, (rational) atheist, or somewhere in the middle, chances are you'll find this fascinating.
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2014 2:07 PM GMT

Footloose [15th Anniversary Collectors' Edition]
Footloose [15th Anniversary Collectors' Edition]
Price: £3.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's that over there?!, 17 May 2009
Peek into my house on Saturday morning at 9am and you would have found me spring cleaning (and dancing) like a whirling dervish. Footloose was the soundtrack, and not only did it make spring cleaning funner, it's what actually gave me the impetus to do it in the first place!

I shouldn't like to give the impression I sit around wallowing in my own filth, but I don't find cleaning enjoyable, at all. It's necessary, and once you're doing it it's satisfying, but it's certainly not fun. Except, with ole Kenny Loggins and Welsh lunatic Bonnie Tyler exuberantly warbling out their power ballads in the background, sweeping became a dance, and vacuuming became a joy.

It has to be said, not all of the tracks on here are good. "Almost Paradise" (track 3) is everything that was bad about drab, uber-earnest, 1980s love song dreadfulness. (When it came on, it's most likely I missed a spot.) And the last few tracks, barring the fabness of Foreigner, aren't as good as the earlier part of the album. But given the earlier part's awesoneness, it can be forgiven.

It's easy to forget how well known the songs are. Holding Out For a Hero (aforemetioned Welsh lunatic) is shamefully, embarrassingly catchy and makes wiping counter-tops fun; Let's Hear it For the Boy is deceptively tuneful (the singer suddenly goes soprano at one point, highlighting how singers back then were genuinely talented... not something we always demand from our musicians nowadays) and makes fluffling sofa cushions a breeze.

Kenny Loggins is the star of the sountrack with the best track of the album, and one that's not too far off the pace. The title track is a vintage 80s "rockin' out" choon and absolutely sets the tone. But, for me, I'm Free is the standout song. It's not just catchy: it is absurdly, toe-tappingly, hip-swingingly, running-manningly fantastic and sounds even better when played obnoxiously loud.

So open your windows, turn up the volume, grab a broom and be safe in the knowledge that once in the open air, the original source of music becomes lost... no-one will know you're the one playing it. Oh, they'll suspect, but they won't know for sure. Win! Whether you're working out or cleaning, or just feeling a little blue, even the most cynical of ears will be energised, enthused and, most importantly, genuinely cheered while listening to this. Tremendous stuff!

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy)
The Strain (The Strain Trilogy)
by Guillermo del Toro
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent, if unimaginative, 17 May 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It all starts terribly well, with a plane full of dead passengers landing at LAX airport. From the off, the mood is oppressive and really quite malevolent.

At first, you're under the impression that this is just a typical pathogen of some sort, but gradually discover it's something entirely more supernatural and frightening, and at this point, it turns into a vampire novel. Albeit one with a "scientific" twist. Where Dracula and Buffy portray vampires as something demonic, The Strain applies a far more realistic explanation, and it's a nice addition to the vampire lore. That being said, if you've read I Am Legend (or, indeed, watched Fringe), it's nothing earth-shatteringly new.

And that, perhaps, is the over-riding feeling of the book. It's very good, it really is. It's readable and even a little addictive: but it's also much of a muchness. I tend to think Del Toro and Hogan have chased it down that particular path with "Hollywood Blockbuster" in mind. It's very filmic, indeed, and I'm sure the rights have already been snapped up by New Line.

So, aye, it's a little cynical in that regard. But it's still a fun read, and what it lacks in originality it makes up for in full-tiltage, so you'll find yourself speeding to the end, no bother. It also sets up the sequel nicely... presumably, then, we can expect a trilogy a la Lord of the Rings.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2009 10:37 PM BST

Fringe - Season 1 [DVD] [2009]
Fringe - Season 1 [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Anna Torv
Price: £14.00

114 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly hit and miss, but mostly excellent, 15 May 2009
There's no denying it, really: Fringe treads precisely the same ground as The X Files. Except, where X-Files was almost uniformly supernatural or alien-y, Fringe approaches it all with science. Or, rather, "fringe science". So while it deals with the same topics, (such as telekinesis, telepathy, ghosts, "alien" parasites, spontaneous combustion and even vampires) each is given an entirely earthly scientific explanation. The explanations are, of course, as fanciful as any explanation given in the X-Files, and that's a part of its charm.

It has 3 leads, really: Anna Torv as Olivia Dunn, an FBI agent, Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop and John Noble (the unmitigated gem and joy of the entire series) as mad scientific genius, Walter Bishop. Walter is Peter's estranged father, and watching their relationship gradually develop is really very lovely.

Fringe is a complex and wildy twisty series, so describing any one part of it is immensely tricky as it's a little like a knotted ball of string, so everything is connected to everything else.

Each episode is stand alone in terms of topic, ie, telepathy, but arcing throughout the series are multiple threads and you need to watch every episode to keep a handle on them. There's the mysterious, unseen William Bell, Walter Bishop's former lab partner; there's a shadowy, seemingly emotionless, hairless man who seems to be everywhere you look; Nina Sharp, the secretive face of "Massive Dynamic", a huge science and technology conglomerate started by William Bell; Olivia Dunn's past: the tests she went through as a child, and Bell and Bishop's involvement; the big mystery about Peter's childhood and "death"... on and on it goes, everything inextricably linked with everything else, and everything revolving around Walter.

Some of the episodes are phenomenally good and some are terribly lacklustre, making the series so far quite hit and miss. Without John Noble as Walter Bishop, Fringe would be mediocre - he is absolutely its heart and soul - so everything combined, so far so watchable.

However. The final episode is breath-taking. Actually, that needs to be condensed even further: the final scene is breath-taking. I can't possibly overstate how powerful it is. The entire episode is hugely intriguing, and asks as many questions as it hints the answers to. Plus there's a lovely cameo from a sci-fi legend, so it was already rubbing the elbow of greatness. Then the final scene came, and I watched it blithely and contentedly, thinking nothing of it. The camera pulled back slowlyslowly for the big reveal and when realisation sunk in, my skin literally prickled. It was eerie, and it made my head fuzzy for about an hour.

I find myself thinking of it, and wondering, "What if?" The entire series is almost worth watching for that one scene alone. Luckily, the entire series is, overall, really very good, so it won't be a big ole waste of your time. Yes, Fringe is most certainly an homage to X-Files. But it's done well, so no harm done. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is an homage to butter... but it's still lovely on toast.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2010 8:25 PM BST

House Season 5 [DVD]
House Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Laurie
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £19.97

50 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a peculiar season, 13 May 2009
This review is from: House Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
Season 5 is straight up weird. It's rich with hints and clues that not all is well with House, and the season finale ends on the mini-mother of all cliff hangers. Season 6 opening episode is going to be unmissable. American tv shows always end a season with a cliff hanger, but so often they're appallingly slapdash. Not so with House. From about mid way through the season, it's subtly hinted at that there is something profoundly amiss, and it culminates in a dark and surprising final few scenes.

Anyway, back to the beginning. At the start of the series, Amber is gone, and so is Wilson. In his place there's a private detective, Lucas (played wonderfully by Michael Weston) who is sardonic and clever (actually a match for House) and, apparently, is being given his own spin off series. That's officially Good News.

Chase, Cameron and Cuddy get more of a look in than they did in season 4 - it's no longer incongruous that their names are in the opening credits... although, Cameron and Chase are largely spent fine-tuning and/or imploding their relationship. Season 5 also introduces a relationship between 2 more of the main cast... and the violent loss of another. Apparently in the States it was widely touted as a "Very Special Episode", with ramifications that would ripple throughout the rest of the season. They set up a bit of a red herring leading up to it, so it is a genuine shock but, somehow, that whole storyline is a little unsatisfying. That being said, House's situation is possibly predicated on it, so maybe there are huge, House-shaped ripples we've yet to fully see.

The team still solve the unsolveable, House still offends anyone with ears (and, indeed, someone without), and it's still fiercely clever and frequently funny. The entire season feels a lot more chaotic than the others - almost as if they wrote much of it on the fly, but it's no poorer for that. It's still House, it's still wonderful, and it deserves no less than 5 stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2010 11:30 PM BST

Star Trek XI (2-Disc Edition) - with Free Comic Book (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD]
Star Trek XI (2-Disc Edition) - with Free Comic Book (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Pine

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy awesome, Batman!, 10 May 2009
I'm a grown woman but in watching this I became a 13 year old boy and it. was. awesome.

There are so many things to mention and talk about I don't even know where to start! Star Trek chronicles the lives of James T Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto, better known as Heroes's Sylar) before they came together on the SS Enterprise. We meet them both at a young age and discover that Kirk was a hell-raiser even as a child, and that Spock - half human, half Vulcan - had to choose which part of himself to repress.

A sequence of events involving the Romulans (who, for the first time ever actually seem evil and scary) brings Spock and Kirk together where they clash dreadfully... and the chemistry between the two could become the stuff of legend. You absolutely believe that these 2 people will become like brothers for the next however many decades.

On the Enterprise we also meet vintage favourites: Uhura (whom, of course, Kirk tries to seduce - keep your eyes peeled for a lovely nod to the OS where Kirk beds a chick with green skin and fiery red hair), Sulu, Chekov, Bones (who is fantastically and sardonically played by the relatively unknown Karl Urban) and, finally, as Scotty, we have Simon Pegg. Throw in Leonard Nemoy as older Spock (or Spock Prime) and you have the makings of something extraordinary.

The effects are mind-blowingly good. Remember how Terminator 2 made an epic leap in terms of CGI? Then Independence Day made another? Well Star Trek is all of that raised to the nth degree. I sat in slack-jawed wonderment for so long I didn't even finish my popcorn. And it was buttered! JJ Abrams totally reinvents and rejuvenates that entire world. The Enterprise itself is shown in all its glory; the effects used for warp speed are beautiful, as are the "Energise" transportation effects. Space is incredibly realised, and the inner workings of the Enterprise itself is really quite stunning. Scattered throughout the scenes filmed inside the actual ship, beams and shards of light glance off the screen, like sunlight in a rearview mirror. It's otherwordly and mesmeric.

This isn't a cash in or a lazy money-maker - it is a brilliant, brilliant film and I have to stop writing now as I want to go and pretend am a starship in my back garden.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2010 2:48 AM BST

Big Bang Theory - Season 2 Complete [DVD] [2009]
Big Bang Theory - Season 2 Complete [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Johnny Galecki
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £7.97

63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not a comic; it's a comic book, 8 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Geek chic has become the style du jour (channelling Wolowitz, meshugana. You knows it.) and BBT is all about the chic geekery. Season 1 was largely spent cementing the main characters personalities and lifestyles and making believable the fact that a "normal" chick like Penny would really become friends with 4 geeks. And not 4 pseudo-geeks. There's Sheldon (played magnificently by Jim Parsons) - the exacting, egotistical, Vulcan-like theoretical physicist; Wolowitz - the tiny Jewish sex-pest (and the unheralded gem of the show); Koothrappali - the Indian physicist with selective mutism and a penchant for yoot lingo and, finally, Leonard - the show's "everyman": the bridge between the normality of Penny and the otherwordliness of the geeks.

Season 2 takes their characters and runs with them. Sheldon becomes even more monstrous and Sheldonesque (they introduce his laugh. His laugh is a breathy machine-gun pant and it's truly a beautiful, beautiful thing), they give us Sheldon in dungarees (dungarees!) and the relationship between Leonard and Penny develops, stalls, develops, stalls... and in a way that isn't remotely clunky or ham-fisted.

In fact, that describes the entire show. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady must be bonafide geniuses - they dip their toes in things that are notoriously incomprehensible. They dabble in particle physics and rocket science and string theory with consummate comfort and ease. By the same token, the show is drenched in internet memes - it's absolutely up to date and on the crest of the wave. It's not slightly behind the times trying to appear cool: it's genuinely, so cutting-edge-it-bleeds cool. Plus, season 2 introduces Rock-Paper-Scissors... Lizard-Spock*. Genius!

Most of the series takes place in Sheldon and Leonard's flat, as in season 1. The Cheesecake Factory has disappeared, and we are introduced to the comic book store, along with its manager, Stuart. He is a comic book geek cum artist who puts a crimp in Leonard and Penny's possible relationship. In the comic book store - and prior to BBT, I had no idea comics and comic books were different things! - there's a silent character called Captain Sweatpants who hangs around in the background, and, even without dialogue, he's one of the better people on tv right now. That speaks volumes about the awesomeness of BBT's cast, and the writer's talent in creating characters.

This review has become far too long so, suffice it to say, Big Bang Theory is one of the most affectionate, funniest, warmest and cleverest comedies in a very long time. Season 1 was wonderful; season 2's 23 episodes actually surpass it and, thankfully, 2 more seasons are already assured.

* In case you want to play: Scissors cuts Paper covers Rock crushes Lizard poisons Spock smashes Scissors decapitates Lizard eats Paper disproves Spock vaporizes Rock crushes Scissors.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 10, 2011 2:11 PM GMT

Crossing Over [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Crossing Over [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £7.37

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Runs the gamut, 4 May 2009
Crossing Over could probably be compared to Crash - except it's far less pretentious and self-congratulatory. In fact, unlike Crash, it doesn't stroke itself even once.

"Crossing over" refers to illegal immigrants becoming citizens of the United States - either through naturalization (naturalisation to you and me) or through acquiring a green card and the film tells a variety of stories, all of which peripherally intertwine at some point.

The stories range from insipid to powerful. Insipid is the tale of the vacuous Australian actress who wants a green card so she can get a part in a series and ends up as the sex-doll of a shonky Green Card checker-person. I don't care about that story enough to find out what his actual job title is.

Then there's the Korean family who are about to be naturalised; the English Jewish chap who feigns orthodoxy in order to be allowed in on religious grounds; the family of Hamid, an Iranian American police officer who has joined the Immigration department and is partnered with Harrison Ford (who is probably the film's main protagonist). Their story further involves the murder of Hamid's wayward younger sister and a brief whodunnit side-plot. There's also the young African girl who is sitting in a detention centre waiting to be adopted, and Ashley Judd, the immigration defense lawyer who wants to adopt her and who is married to the shonky green-card checker chap.

By far the most powerful story of all, though, is the 15 year old Muslim girl who is in trouble for apparently sympathising with the bombers who flew into the Trade Centre buildings. In the first few minutes, she'll raise your hackles, she really will. But as you get to know her, and see the way she is treated, you grow to understand her and you see what it is she was trying to say. Aside from the fact that Summer Bishil gives the stand-out performance of the film, what happens to her is agonising, and it will give you much pause for thought.

I suppose the message of the film is we mustn't be so quick to judge, and to assume. Specifically when it comes to people of the Muslim faith. That being said, it also covers a reprehensible aspect of Islamic tradition, so it's not preaching in any way. The immigration police/paper pushers aren't (all) pantomime baddies, nor are the illegal immigrants universally lovely and loveable. But it certainly leaves you with the feeling that as far as we've come with human rights and equality, we've still barely scratched the surface.

Not an easy film to watch in places, but it is absolutely worth doing so and I think this could be 2009's word-of-mouth dark horse.

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