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Reviews Written by
Simon McMahon "Film Buff" (Chelmsford, Essex, UK)
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Implode
Implode
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £9.86

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate soundtrack..., 17 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Implode (Audio CD)
...ever written for a non-existent movie. Implode certainly feels in parts like a science fiction movies soundtrack. In fact the best track on here, Synthetic Forms (and one of my all time favourite pieces of music) has samples from the Jerry Goldsmith Alien soundtrack as well as from Event Horizon.
Like most of FLA's music this is an album which provides a new experience each and every time you listen to it. There are so many "layers" within each of the songs that each time you will hear something new. It is quite possible to sink into this aurul treat, losing yourself in the deep layers of music.
And exceptional album and one which thorougly deserves a really dedicated listen.


Half-Life 2 (DVD ROM)
Half-Life 2 (DVD ROM)

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wait was worth it..., 16 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Half-Life 2 (DVD ROM) (Video Game)
Half-Life 2 is, in a word, extraordinary. If you played the original back in 1998 (was it really that long ago?)you may remember the feeling of disbelief we all felt. It was as close to a movie as a game had come, with incredible scripted sequences and superb AI. It says something that even after 6 years the original remains in many PC games magazines top 10, for both readers and reviewers.
But now the orignal can be finally laid to rest. For Half-Life 2 blows it away, along with Far Cry and even Doom 3. If this is the future of FPS then the future is golden.
The first thing you'll notice as you enter City 17 (the sprawling urban metropolis that is Orwellian in nature and is the location for the first few chapters of your adventure) is the visuals. I have never seen anything like this. And I'm not talking about the scenery (which is amazing) or even the HAVOC physics (which for the first time make the world feel real... and allows for ingenious solutions to problems).
What I am talking about is the faces. The new Source engine allows for a level of expression never seen before. When you come across an old friend from the original game I defy you not to gasp in amazement. He is as close to real life as is possible and all rendered in real-time 3D. And as for Alex, your female companion... well, I've never understood how people can be attracted to polygons but in this case... well, you'll see!
The AI is also some of the best I've seen. Most Press releases now a days claim that the enemy will behave in a human like fashion performing flanking manouveres and so on. But aside from Far Cry few I have seen have actually achieved this. HL2 improves on Far Cry, and for the first time that I can remember I was actually properly flanked and pinned by an enemy. In fact one guy looped around behind me, went up a flight of stairs and found a balcony over looking my position and all the while his companion covered him. I died with a smile on my face...
I won't give away too much about the content as its better when these things come as a surprise. Needless to say the game gets better and better as it continues. The vehicles are also brillaint, particularly the chapter when you cruise up the coast in a little sand buggy, avoiding Ant-Lions which sense tremors in the sand (all very Dune) and come up from below ground to snag you. Then there are the abandoned houses off the beaten track, do you stop and explore or keep on driving?
Oh and as for the Gravity gun... this is something really special. You can pick up pretty much anything, from bottles, to bicycles and breeze blocks then lob them at your enemies. On one level there is an ample supply of buzz saw blades...
There is very little I can fault from what I have experienced so far. There seem to be a few minor glitches, I got stuck a couple of times in scenery and died once for no apparent reason. And that's it. There is nothing else this game has wrong with it.
I was really surprised at just how good this game is. I have had more moments of jaw dropping surprise and sheer amazement in the first few hours of gameplay than I've had in many other games entire length. If you need to update your system do it now. Play it before walkthroughs appear and the game is discussed to death. Play it NOW!


The Passion of the Christ [DVD] [2004]
The Passion of the Christ [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ James Caviezel|Maia Morgenstern|Monica Bellucci
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.94

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Emotive., 15 Nov. 2004
The Passion of the Christ was a film that was certainly not in my top 10 movies to see last year. Being a devout atheist the films subject was not of the greatest interest. However, the controversy and the media storm which had surrounded the movie on its release in the states persuaded me that it might be worth a watch.
And it came as quite a surprise to me just how much I enjoyed... well enjoyed isn't the right word... lets say it made quite an impression on me, and really shows what Gibson can do when not aiming his sights firmly at the English...
Seeing this movie in the cinema afforded my an experience like no other. There was not only the usual crunching of popcorn and slurpping of drinks as the trailers played, but a large group of "uncouth youfs" sat about 3 rows in front of me and immediatley began blabbering (and in Essex we certainly knwo how to blabber). This was soon joined by the grinding of my teeth.
However, 30 seconds into the film I was amazed by the sound of total quiet. The whole cinema was shrouded in silence. In fact I only recall one sound and that was someone coughing which I have to say made me jump. It was quite eerie to have such an atmosphere in a cinema.
The film itself has been discussed elsewhere. What I will say is that some of the scenes feel almost like paintings, their composition is truly beautiful. There is also a real sense of the age it is set in and you find yourself pulled in without question.
The violence is strong, and even I blanched at the scourging scene. The decision to show this much "gore" was the correct one in my opinion. It was a good idea to remind people that the generally santitised version of Christ on the cross seen in churches around the globe, is just that, sanitised. This man, whether you believe he was the son of God or just a wise teacher, went through horrendous pain for what he believed in.
The DVD also gives us the oppurtunity to view the film as Gibson intended. Without subtitles. Indeed if you have a passing knowledge of the gospels (which I do, I may be an atheist but I know a bit about religions) it is difficult to get lost by the story.
Overall I highly recommend this to you. If someone as cynical as I am can be moved my Jesus' plight in this movie then anyone can. I also highly recommend the soundtrack, especially if you enjot the recent work of Hans Zimmer.


Titus Crow: the Clock of Dreams / Spawn of the Winds: 2
Titus Crow: the Clock of Dreams / Spawn of the Winds: 2
by Brian Lumley
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to follow Lovecraft's Mythos, 15 Nov. 2004
Lumley's work here should not be classified as Lovecraftian. Lumley instead develops the ideas of August Derleth who, after Lovecrafts premature death in early 1937, controlled the Cthulhu Mythos output for around 30 years. He introduced various concepts which, whilst going against the philosophy of Lovecraft himself have since become synonimous with Lovecraft's name.
Many authors have written stories within this Mythos and many are valid and decent entries in this world. Yet Lumley fails to capture either Lovecraft's more subtle take on Cosmic terror, or Derleth's more overt writings. Instead we are left with what feels like a graphic novel in text form that really fails to deliver on any level, and can barely be considered a true horror.
Lumley's work here is a distraction rather than a truly gripping work. If it's horror you want then I suggest starting with the original omnibus editions, alternativly one of the later collections of Cthulhu mythos stories by various authors (often a very mixed bag, but usually with one or two little gems).


Rome: Total War (PC)
Rome: Total War (PC)
Offered by PROGAMES
Price: £5.99

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Gratification..., 11 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Rome: Total War (PC) (Video Game)
Having been a fan of the Total War series and having kept a very close eye on the progress of the latest game in the series I thought I knew what to expect when I loaded Rome: Total War for the first time. But my expectations came nowhere near this, well I can only describe it as an experience.
Firstly the strategy map, the overall view of your world, is far more elaborate and useful than the previous versions. You can pick the ground you fight on on the strategy map and this will be reflected on the battle map so strategy forms a huge part of the game. Governing cities is now far more intuitive and the help system is excellent.
But it is the battles that make this game. This is as good a reason as any to upgrade your PC. The first time I moved a decent sized army in to engage some barbarian scum (I believe that is the correct historical name for the Gauls...) my jaw dropped.
My General gave a rousing speech to the troops the in game camera swooping majestically across the gathered ranks of elite Roman soldiers. And then... TOO BATTLE!
And my heart leaped. For on the hill before me was a mass of Gaulish swordsmen and skirmishers bashing their shields and crying out insults. I could pick out each individual and almost see the hate in their eyes. My men advanced slowly up the hill, my archers giving covering fire with flaming arrows. Gauls dropped by the dozen but did not break.
Then our armies met. Brutal combat ensued, my Generals cavalry unit sweeping in from the side and shattering the Gaulish left flank. Then from the forest to my right a cry went up, more Gaulish warbands had been hidden among the trees and were now charging towards my exposed right flank. My archers were hit first and a slaughter ensued. Wheeling my reserves of heavy infantry to confront this new threat I sent the rest of my reserves into the centre where my line was starting to break.
Then more Gauls poured from the other flank. Too late a realised my General who was also my faction leader was cut off, surrounded by baying savages. One by one his bodyguards fell to the ground, until only three men remained. A unit of my elite heavy infantry was cutting a swathe through the enemy to reach him. Would they make it? Or would they too be cut down.
And all this is just a game! It's as close as we will ever get to being there and I haven't even mentioned the elephants or sieges...


Faith Stealer (Doctor Who)
Faith Stealer (Doctor Who)
by Graham Duff
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An improvement, 11 Nov. 2004
The eighth doctor seemed to have lost his way in the last season of audios from Big Finish. The stories on the whole were sloppy and failed to engage the listener. The overall feeling ever since 'Zagreus' has been that the authors have become too clever for their own good, this is Doctor Who not George Orwell...
Faith Stealer feels more traditional, and this is a good step. The story is solid as conatins some interesting concepts taking place as it does in a settlement in which hundreds of religion compete for converts. Aside from a few poorly written attempts at humour (the cult who consider accidents to be lucky...) this is a good solid story.
If you were put off by the last season give this a shot. Or if you're new to Big Finish get a copy of Storm Warning and start from the beginning of the Paul McGann seasons...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2014 7:54 PM BST


Reise, Reise
Reise, Reise
Price: £5.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introspective, 11 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Reise, Reise (Audio CD)
Till and Co are really on form with this the fourth album from German Industrialists Rammstein. In some ways there is "less" music here than on Mutter; that last album was operatic in scope. This is far more introspective. And looking inward was a brilliant move on the bands part as Reise, Reise delivers something of a sucker punch...
The individual tracks have been discussed elsewhere, but it's great to see Till Lindemann stretching his vocal muscles once again. From the eldritch voice of Mein Teil to the soaring vocals of Ohne Dich and Morgenstern this album really delivers. And the bluesy riff of Los is as far from Herzeleid, Rammstein's first album as you could get.
Rammstein's discography can now be divided into two chapters. The first containing Herzeleid and Sehnsucht is raw and potent, simmering with power and unrelentingly heavy. The second contains Mutter and Reise, Reise, two very different yet similar albums that bring a more mature, developed and epic sound to the German Industrialists. Rammstein's albums are all fantastic and I would recommend them to anyone, and I'm looking forward to what they unveil with chapter 3...

I was immensely privileged to attend one of three rehearsal concerts of this album in Berlin this year. The album sounds fantastic but live, even with all the little kinks that need to be ironed out still present, it was amazing. Anyone who can get to see them live this year or next year (they're in the UK in February) should take the chance. Until then buy Reise Reise. You won't be disappointed... oh and when you get to Moskau, crank it up to 11...


Irreversible [DVD] [2003]
Irreversible [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Monica Bellucci
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £14.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling, 5 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Irreversible [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Irreversible is without doubt a very disturbing film. Two of the previous reviewers have described it perfectly. However, I have to take issue with the last review. The author seems dissapointed that the rape scene was "clearly fake". Judging from the fact that he then refers to Baise Moi where the rape scene involves shots of actual penetration, I assume the scene would only have seemed real if we'd have had this level of detail...
The infamous scene in "Irreversible" is so disturbing because of the single shot that does not move from Bellucci's face. Anyone who can watch this scene without flinching is a stronger man than I (or a sicker one). "Baise Moi" was shot with real porn stars so while the rape scene is graphic it feels like porn stars acting it. And we all know the level of skill among the porn community...
Anyway. Buy this film. It does what it intends and disturbs on mnay levels (there is even a sound played for the first 30 minutes that is barely audible to the human ear but causes nausea hence people rushed out of the cinema to be sick, subtle and very effective)


The Day After Tomorrow - Two Disc Edition [DVD] [2004]
The Day After Tomorrow - Two Disc Edition [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Dennis Quaid
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.41

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong way around..., 5 Nov. 2004
This is a pretty bizarre film. The major problem I had with it is that it played its trump card way to early. Within the first hour the big storms and special effects sequences are over. The film then sinks into a quagmire of slow pacing and dull set pieces. It's a shame because the storm scenes are great fun to watch (and hear if you've got a 5.1 setup)...
The problem here is that the writers have decided to be "realistic". They want us to think this could happen and so have presented us with an alleged scientific possibility. Unfortunately this leads to the second half of the film seriously lagging behind the first.


The Bunker
The Bunker
by James P. O'Donnell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best account of the Final Days, 2 Nov. 2004
This review is from: The Bunker (Paperback)
Having read most of the accounts available to us of the last days of Hitler I have come to the conclusion that this is the best. All too often it is overlooked for Hugh Trevor Ropers famous account. However, Ropers account is essentially flawed, produced as it was in 1945-1946 it lacks many of the key witnesses available to O'Donnell, and is based largely on the testimony of a man who many felt was unreliable at best, and downright dishonest at worst (he later admitted that he lied to his interrogators, telling them what they seemed to want to hear).
O'Donnell had access to those officers (including Hitler's Adjutant) who were captured by the Russians. This allows for a far more accurate view of the final days (this also includes the fate of those who escaped from the Fuhrerbunker, including Boorman) and is also extremely well written and fantastically researched.
If you want just one account of the last days, The Bunker is an excellent choice (though I do recommend reading a few of the available works to get a good overview).


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