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Reviews Written by
A. J. Kirke "alexis kirke" (Plymouth, UK)

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An updated bond with plenty of fun and excitement, 26 Nov. 2002
"Die Another Day" is the Bond film of the future, and if this movie is anything to go by it looks like there'll be a fine future for the franchise. Various aspects of 007 have been updated: the Bond opening theme itself, the way the opening credits are used, the behaviour of Bond's leading woman, and the fact that Bond is at last made vulnerable and truly defeated in the first part of the movie.
Another key aspect of the movie is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. It is full of jokes against itself (such as the ridiculous but fabulous surfing escape scene in the last part of the movie). One of the most humorous parts is the initial dialogue between Bond and his leading lady Jinx - it is flirting taken to a comedy extreme, and they don't blink an eyelid. I was almost choking with laughter.
But despite all the humour in this movie, it is a real action thriller as well. Bond movies are renowned for their ridiculous stunts, high technology and for Bond's invincibility and ability to escape from/defeat anything. "Die another Day" deliberately takes this to extremes and continuously throws Bond clichés out, but with such rapidity and grace, that they actually keep you interested and involved.
A big well done to the director and script writers on this movie. They've really succeeded in updating Bond for a new generation, and keeping an old generation like myself interested. Don't expect artistic brilliance or spiritual satisfaction, but expect to be impressed and entertained.

About a Boy [DVD] [2002]
About a Boy [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Hugh Grant
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.25

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great story/moral: Twice viewed, will watch it again!, 21 Nov. 2002
This review is from: About a Boy [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Are you a man or a woman? How old are you? Both of these may effect how this film impacts you. I'm a 32 year old unmarried man, and so caught the brunt of this film's message (I assume the protagonist is not far from his mid-30s, and he's _very_ male and _very_ unmarried). But I know at least one woman who really enjoyed this film as well, so you don't have to be in my demographic to get a kick from it.
Overall, an excellent movie. Let's start simple: the soundtrack. It was so good I almost bought it! However I'm not really a "soundtrack buyer" type person, so I didn't in the end. But it's got a great bunch of songs in the movie anyway, and they seemed to fit in perfectly with the story.
Next: the genre. What type of movie is this? Well it's not what I'd call a romantic comedy. It is more comedy than romantic - in fact it is very very funny. Although there is a romance in this movie, it is more a romance of the "self" - the main character coming to love and hate parts of himself he wasn't even conscious of. The main relationship in the movie is between the man, and the boy who comes into his life. And, by the way, the portrayal of the boy by Nicholas Hoult is absolutely brilliant and scarily convincing. And Hugh Grant is perfect, with his part being closer to his Bridget Jones days than his 4 Weddings days. Toni Collette, as the boy's mother, is just fabulous. Apart from the relationship between the boy and the man, the relationship between the boy and his mother is the other important one in the movie: and it is heart-rending, heart-warming, frustrating, and quite realistic.
When I say “heart-rending”, in relation to this movie, I mean it. Either I am emotionally unstable (probably) or this movie is very touching (definitely). I had to hold back my tears a number of times and at the end just had to give in to the old water works. Hugh Grant's character is torn apart and rebuilt in the crucible of a forced growing up, brought on by the boy coming into his life. "About a Boy" talks to men like myself in an almost subconscious way - I found myself moved by things and not knowing why. But I just knew it was important. And the resolution and finale on stage was just brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Bravo Hugh!
I've watched this movie twice and will probably do so again. I feel it has a real message for myself and says something significant. And it's great fun to watch!
A quick footnote: I'm actually a fan of Nick Hornby (he wrote the book the movie was based on). If you are a Nick Hornby fan I strongly recommend you see this movie. Forget the half-hearted attempts made to bring "High Fidelity" on to the screen. This one is the real thing! It really brings the book to life - it is definitely a "Nick Hornby Film", if you know what I mean.

The Matrix [1999] [DVD]
The Matrix [1999] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matrix / Movie
Offered by qualityfilmsfromuk
Price: £4.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it to watch (it's great); buy it show off your system, 20 Nov. 2002
This review is from: The Matrix [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
I haven't come across anyone who doesn't like the Matrix. Even my mother liked it! It is the DVD I have used most to show off my home entertainment system, particularly the Kung Fu fight between Neo and Morpheus, the Lobby shoot up, and the roof top bullet dodge. This movie is worth seeing just for the lobby shoot-up scene in fact. And what a great sound track.
But underneath all of this great action and special effects is the excellent application of some simple philosophical ideas. It is much easier to write reams of waffle about "what is reality" than it is to embed the questions and answers on this issue into a good script and movie. When I first saw the Matrix I commented to my friend how "deep" I thought it was, philosophically. He is quite well-read and said that most of the philosophical ideas in the Matrix had been around for a long time. However the Matrix really brings these ideas alive by including them as part of it's story.
A highly thought provoking and exciting movie.

Scooby-Doo - The Movie: He's Live And Un-Leashed (2002)[DVD]
Scooby-Doo - The Movie: He's Live And Un-Leashed (2002)[DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew Lillard
Price: £3.00

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly decent millenium update, 19 Nov. 2002
I wish there was an option for giving 3.5 stars for a review on Amazon. I wouldn't quite say that this film deserves 4 stars. But I don't think it's bad enough for 3 either. Like many people my age (early 30s) I was a big fan of Scooby Doo cartoons as a kid. So it was with some trepidation that I approached this movie, after so many disappointing attempts by Hollywood to cash in on cartoon nostalgia (e.g. the Flintstones). However I was pleasantly surprised.
I liked the way that the movie starts towards the end of a typical Scooby Doo mystery. So right at the beginning you get to see all the classic stuff like the unmasking and the "if it wasn't for you pesky kids!" A key part of the movie, the computer graphics special effects (such as Scooby Himself) were very well done. One constant reminder of the original cartoons is Shaggy’s voice, imitated excellently by his real-life counterpart. And Sarah Michelle Gellar's Daphne looks and acts great for the guys...
By a rather non-Scooby-Doo-ish sequence of events, the whole team end up on a spooky island amusement park owned by Rowan Atkinson's amusing character. The island turns out to be overrun by what I assume are "invading monsters from another dimension". But the precise details don't matter. Suffice to say the team is lead through a set of events which give the movie the opportunity to re-live some of the old Scooby-type scenes, including a "flash-back" appearance by Scrappy Doo. This appearance leads us rather neatly on to the movie's ending (to understand why it is "neatly", you'd have to see the movie). I won't tell you the end, because it's so stupid, so silly, so absolutely ridiculous, that you have to see it for yourself. Ex-Scooby fans will either be horrified or choke with laughter on their popcorn. I did the latter - it felt like the script was playing a massive joke on itself. It may be a case that the ending is "so bad it's good", but I still enjoyed it.
Overall I would recommend old Scooby fans see this movie. I have to say though, I don't know if I would watch it again. It's got some nice cartoonish sets (a little like the cool sets for the Addams Family films) but the script is not that involving and the characters are just...cartoony... (doh!) But seriously, perhaps this movie is a 3.5 star on first viewing an a 3 on second viewing. Rent it for fun? Yes. Buy it? No.

The Road Less Travelled (Arrow New-Age)
The Road Less Travelled (Arrow New-Age)
by M. Scott Peck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only THE manual for life, but also a fascinating read., 15 Nov. 2002
The best self-help book ever!
I don't know how many times I've read this book. In my experience the principles of action described in this book really work, and lead to greater happiness and contentment.
There is a spiritual element to the book, which gets stronger in its second half. This may put some people off. However, even if you do not believe in spiritual things, (the first half of) this book is still worth buying, reading and using.
Scott Peck focuses in on the key tools for living in a convincing and interesting way. He is a psychiatrist but does not get caught up in any technical analysis. He just describes simple tools that work, and backs them up with argument and case studies.
Whether you're spiritual or not, this book could bring greater fulfillment to your life, and at the very least will be an entertaining and thoughtful read.

Ice Age [DVD] [2002]
Ice Age [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Denis Leary|Kirsten Johnson|Jack Black|Andrea Bowen
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.71

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a "Monsters Inc" I'm afraid, 15 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Ice Age [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
For adults: I did enjoy this movie, but at the end I felt fairly neutral. The story in the movie felt rather cliched and there was no original use of Computer Graphics as far as I could tell. The characters didn't have the spark found in some of the other CG animated releases (e.g. Monsters Inc). Many of the other CG movies felt like "events" when I went to see them - they push forward the CG technology and utilised it in the script in an exciting way. This was more like a substandard Disney cartoon which just happens to be use CG animation.
For kids: o you'll probably love it! But if you want something your mum and dad will enjoy as well, and you will enjoy EVEN MORE, then why not try Monsters Inc or Toy Story II?

Dead Famous
Dead Famous
by Ben Elton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read - and fun trying to guess the end, 15 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Dead Famous (Paperback)
Nice one Ben.
He's definitely got the gift of the gab when it comes writing topical, enjoyable and engrossing novels like Dead Famous. I'm one of those people that tends to read a lot of "heavy" stuff, but also likes to kick back with a nice easy popular novel like this one every so often. I found I could just "pour" my brain into this book and totally switch off, leaving only my pleasure centres going as I read it.
At the same time as being an "easy" read, it is also a demonstration of how to write stuff like this. Ben Elton is very good at writing enjoyable books. This book was intelligent enough to keep me guessing, and it was dramatic enough to keep me reading. No doubt Elton also gave me some insight into the whole Big Brother experience, as he did interview ex-contestants for the book. He also addresses the "lad" culture issue in an interesting way.
Overall this is a book that was easy to read (though no doubt very hard to write), and kept my mind engrossed in intelligent-enough pleasure for a few days.
Thanks Ben.

Nokia 8310 - Vodafone - Pay As You Talk (Smartstep)
Nokia 8310 - Vodafone - Pay As You Talk (Smartstep)

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars O no - another brilliant Nokia phone ruined by instability, 15 Nov. 2002
What can I say? This could have been a great phone. THE great phone. It has a fabulous address book - you'll never run out of spaces again (similarly there's loads of room for storing text messages). It has speech rec which I've actually found myself using. The voice recorder is great fun, and can even be used to record phone calls. The radio is really excellent, good quality, a genuinely useful feature, not just a gimmick. And the hands-free kit is great - it's got two earplugs and a real pleasure to use. Try talking to your friends hands-free with both ear plugs in - it's a very different experience to using a single ear plug - much more pleasurable. And of course it's all topped off by Nokia's great and simple button user-interface system that, I believe, is a major reason for their success generally.
BUT, and this is a massive BUT, the phone has instabilities, like the 8210. I had an 8210 and loved it, but had to return it 5 or 6 times. I've had to return my 8310 once as well already, because it kept resetting itself at inconvenient times. And my current one reset itself for the first time last night! Aaargh! I really hope Nokia sort this out, because other than that it's a great phone.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones [DVD] [2002]
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Hayden Christensen
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £9.80

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not a great movie, but I've watched it twice!, 13 Nov. 2002
How can I be subjective about this darned movie? I'm 32 - I saw Star Wars when I was 7 years old. I was doom from then on to be drawn to every Star Wars movie since. It's an old story repeated 100's of thousands of times around the world for other people I'm sure. How can I not have the DVD in my collection? If you are a Star Wars fan you must see and own this movie. If you are a student of Cinema and the latest technology then you probably need to do the same thing. Otherwise...well you'll see below.
Okay, first things first. This movie is revolutionary. The special effects techniques that Lucas pioneered in "The Phantom Menace" have taken a great step forward here. They are more convincing and jaw-dropping. Clearly in decades to come this movie (and the Phantom Menace) will be viewed as having ushered in a new era of computer film-making. If you are the sort of person who has to have the latest cool graphics computer game, or who has to have the latest Special Effects movie, then you must get this!
There is a negative side to this special effects stuff - I think in 20 years this movie will look very dated. A bit like the old Sinbad movies, that depended for their spectacle on a lot of old fashioned effects. People will watch this movie in decades to come and think "how quaint", as well as "how revolutionary it was".
Okay - special effects aside, how about the script and the characters? Well there's two ways to approach this, depending on whether you're a Star Wars "junkie" who can't help themselves, or an average movie goer:
(i) Average movie goer:
The plot is pretty standard stuff. No amazing twists. In fact in parts it's down right confusing, but without creating any curiosity (e.g. who's side is Count Duku on?) There is very little "natural" drama in the plot, one it not really caught up in events as they happen. Now another way to catch people's interest in the plot is to create interesting characters we care about. How many interesting characters did I care about in this movie? Err... none. Anakin, Obi Wan, Princess Amidala, etc, etc. They're almost as lifeless as the plastic toys which inevitably come with any Star Wars movie release. One wonders if Lucas has become more caught up in the "plastic toys" than in the real people - writing for the lowest common denominator of shallow children's games.
(ii) Star wars junkie:
Hey - but who cares!?!? I've known these characters since I was 7 years old. The movie may be relatively lifeless, but my memories and nostalgia fill in the gaps. I just want to see more of the Star Wars world, of Obi wan, of the Jedi, of Stormtroopers, and Boba Fett. I want to be transported back to the delight of the young age when anything seemed possible in the world of Star Wars, and men were real men, women were real women, etc, etc. Star Wars has become for me much more than a movie. It is part of my psyche. When I watch the movie it is tapping into an energy reservoir in my psyche and gaining power from it. Watching Attack of the Clones for me was not really like watching a movie, it was like experiencing the development of a piece of myself.
O boy - I feel I've gone too far with the analysis there. I guess in the end I would recommend two things: if you are a Star Wars fan this movie is for you, if you are not - and you don't care about the "History of Film making" and special effects - then you're probably better off with The Lord of the Rings.

Spider-Man [DVD] [2002]
Spider-Man [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Tobey Maguire|Willem Dafoe|Kirsten Dunst|James Franco
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.25

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A movie to take its place in my heart next to "Superman"!, 13 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Spider-Man [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
I remember as a kid watching the Superman movie series. I still watch the first few now with nostalgia and enjoyment. I also remember later in life watching some of the other superhero spin-off movies (e.g. Batman) and being very disappointed. Spiderman is really the first superhero spin-off movie since Superman which has reach the "kid" in me (I'm 32 by the way!)
I felt involved all the way through, with the suspension of disbelief building until I was hardly analysing the movie at all - just enjoying it. Some of the computer graphics were a bit dodgy, and will probably look dated in a few years time (but then again the Superman flying scenes look dated now - and I still enjoy them).
Kirsten Dunst is a great female lead. She's not a "typical" US blockbuster female lead, and she's even got red hair like the original Mary Jane! Tobey Maguire is pretty good as Peter Parker. At one point he is excellent - it is at the end of the movie where he makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect those he loves (I won't go into details - I don't want to spoil it).
The sacrifice at the ending finished Spiderman with what I considered was a deep message full of integrity. Kind of bizarre to get that from a "Blockbuster". It left me with a good taste in my mouth.
The action scenes? Well they're great. The Times Square scene is massive, the 59th Street bridge scene is really nail-biting, and the final fight between Spidey and the Green Goblin is suitably dark, but also adrenaline pumping.
As an adult I don't know if I could watch this movie many times, it does not really have "hidden depths". (Probably if I'd seen it first as a kid, I'd have a lifetime of nostalgia coming back to it though.) However it fulfilled it purpose perfectly - it was aimed at a certain level of involvement, artistry and "intelligence" and it hit that level so perfectly I finished watching it the first time feeling elated.

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