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Reviews Written by
Tim Bentley (UK)

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Red Planet [DVD] [2000]
Red Planet [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Caroline Bossi
Offered by MY APPLE
Price: £12.05

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Missed Opportunity, 16 July 2006
This review is from: Red Planet [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Like De Palmas dreadful "Mission to Mars", "Red Planet" has all the ingredients of a Sci-Fi epic but fails to deliver. Unlike "Mission to Mars" which attempted to go for excessive plausibility in supporting its missing presumed dead storyline "Red Planet" swings the opposite way with weak characterisation, trite dialog and some poor performances.

Val Kilmer is not miscast, however, his cartoon-like character should not have been involved in such a mission. Carry-Anne Moss as Bowman, the commander of the mission, demonstrated no command strengths except perhaps yelling and seemed to be little more than eye candy with her tendency to take her clothes off - hardly a strong female lead and certainly not much of a role model. Other characters played by Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker and Terence Stamp were bland and interchangeable.

The idea was sound I suppose, the idea of terraforming using algae to convert the atmosphere to a more earthlike mix, the concept of earth becoming too crowded and polluted etc etc. A little hackneyed yes, but it was the most interesting part of the movie. A combination survey/combat robot? Well of course it was going to go nuts and start moulinexing its way through the crew - cliched and overused in so many other films.

Overall it came out as a weak movie that appeared to set high standards for itself and then failed to reach them. I give this movie three stars for its setting as Mars did look pretty good, and for the use of the algae idea.

I was looking for a serious plausible movie and didn't find it, but had I been looking for a semi-serious sci-fi road movie I might have enjoyed it. If all you want is a simple space movie with a little action and excitement then perhaps you'll get more out of this than I did.

Acer AL1916WS 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor
Acer AL1916WS 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Wide Young Man!, 14 July 2006
I'm sitting here looking at this screen that my better half bought for me and thinking, what a great screen. Okay so the resolution is a bit odd (1440x900) but my video card understands it and the computer works well. I've run some widescreen DVD stuff and the (ahem) downloaded HD capture and I'm stunned, it is excellent - I've been using Premiere and Pinnacle Studio with it and I'm impressed.

The price is competitive and the results marvellous. For those of you who care, the surrounding bezel is a mere 11mm. A great looking monitor. Take my advice and go wide.

Mission to Mars [DVD] [2000]
Mission to Mars [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Tim Robbins
Price: £3.49

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear oh dear., 13 July 2006
This review is from: Mission to Mars [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Great cast, great idea, plausible ship, credible science, but what happened? The story fizzled, the ending kind of an anti-climax, and I was so very disappointed.

I figured what with genuine NASA people involved that this movie would be a space geek's (i.e. me) heaven but even with six time astronaut Storey Musgrave this tale just dragged.

I won't spoil the story (such as it was) for those who haven't seen it, but it involves Mars, Cydonia and the face in the rock, Martians and what happens when you have nothing else left to lose.

I'd say avoid this movie, but in my heart I want to like it, it has everything a space geek could want. It just didn't work for me. Perhaps you'd like it?

Date Movie [DVD]
Date Movie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alyson Hannigan
Price: £1.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining waste of time., 12 July 2006
This review is from: Date Movie [DVD] (DVD)
Okay, so this movie isn't replete with fine performances, or beset with stunning special effects. What it does have is a wicked sense of humour and the tendency to shamelessly parody pretty much every chick flick on the shelves.

You won't be enlightened, challenged or enriched. You may spend half the movie working out what movies have been spoofed, and you may just sit and gaze at Alyson Hannigan. Whatever way you go you'll be entertained, but only for a short time as this movie doesn't have the ground breaking spoofing of the Airplane/Naked Gun ilk and doesn't have the poignant humour of the likes of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".

If you're an "American Pie" fan, you'll probably enjoy it more than the average viewer. Fortunately, I am!

Apocalypse Now Redux [DVD] [1979]
Apocalypse Now Redux [DVD] [1979]
Dvd ~ Marlon Brando
Price: £2.93

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too much and a little disjointed, 3 July 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is very much a case of more is less. Apocalypse Now is *the* Vietnam movie, the first of the big films openly criticising the war, but in this Redux incarnation the flow is significantly disrupted by the additional scenes spliced into the whole.

The extra footage was probably left out for a reason in that it detracted from the story. For instance Martin Sheen as Capt. Willard exhibited some strong character traits and focus in the original edition but loses that focus in the Redux - trading fuel for the boat crew to 'use' the playboy bunnies? Wouldn't that have jeopardised the mission? Stopping for dinner with the French planatation owner and his staff? I enjoyed him stealing Kilgore's surf board, but it didn't really fit with the story flow either.

All in all, I don't think that this edition adds anything to the movie, in fact I think it weakens the presentation. Coppola purists will enjoy the extended footage, but if you want to see the seminal Vietnam War movie, buy the standard edition.

The Secrets of Freemasonry: Revealing the Suppressed Tradition
The Secrets of Freemasonry: Revealing the Suppressed Tradition
by Robert Lomas
Edition: Paperback

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Traditions of Freemasonry, 28 Jun. 2006
Dr Robert Lomas is known to us for his best selling works depicting his personal journeys in demystifying Freemasonry through science and research, his collaborative works with Chris Knight and his biographical work on the Royal Society and Nikola Tesla. This book, "The Secrets of Freemasonry" is somewhat of a departure from what we've seen from Dr Lomas before. Does this book reveal the secrets of Freemasonry? No. It is a history text comprising the freshly indexed works of five well known writers (in Masonic circles) of the 'secret' traditions of Masonic Lore - the writers being; Preston, Gould, Ward, Waite and Wilmsurst. The five put forward many theories; Is Freemasonry a 'modern' extension of the Knights Templars? Is it Druidic in basis? Is it all from the Temple of Sion? Are some of the rituals Egyptian? How about Roman?

Each of these writers have examined the roots of the traditions of Freemasonry and published their works, and to a lesser or greater degree been flayed in review by the United Grand Lodge of England. Did Freemasonry start in London in 1717? None of the cited writers seem to think so hence UGLEs strange condemnation of them - I say strange because UGLE sanctions the delivery of the "Prestonian" lectures recognising Preston's obvious learned achievements, but insists upon a very non-Prestonian content. Unsurprising as Preston believes in significantly earlier roots reaching into early Briton Druidic practice, somewhat at odds with the UGLE 'party line'. Gould, Ward, Waite and Wilmhurst also disagree with UGLE and the Lodge of Quatuor Coronati, the 'official' historians, although the four and Preston don't agree on a common set of roots.

Dr Lomas offers a commentary and continuity in this work with conclusions summarising the context and the main thrust of each of the writers' five respective works and so has compiled a reference text that should be useful to Freemason and non-brethren alike. The book is a history text so do not expect the usual Lomas explanatory journey, but do expect to see contrasting and sometimes conflicting views of the secret traditions of Freemasonry. In reading the text I am no closer to a documented definitive truth, however, the options offered are certainly food for thought. Additionally, those interested in the history of the 'oldest' and most 'ancient' will find useful information in the form of minutes and commentary from the lodges.

A challenging and informative work, leading to the obvious question to ask yourself - "What do *you* believe?"

The 13th Warrior [DVD] [1999]
The 13th Warrior [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Antonio Banderas
Price: £2.69

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Lo do I see my Father standing before me...", 27 Jun. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
John McTiernan's excellent presentation of Michael Crichton's story "The Eaters of the Dead" depicts an earlier time in our history, the days when Vikings roamed Europe and plied their trade overseas. The story centres around Ahmed Ibn Fadlan played by Antonio Banderas and his first contact with the 'North Men' lead by Bulwyf (Beowulf) played by the typecast Vladimr Kulich and follows his journey as he travels with them to face an ancient evil. Fadlan and Bulwyf and the other eleven warriors battle an unnameable horror in a far off Nordic kingdom that was shot in Canada but looks and sounds suspiciously like dark ages Scotland - one of the characters refers to a settlement in the next 'Glen'.

The story while alluding to the 'Saga of Beowulf' has a root in history in the tale of the 'Rus' as recorded by the real Ahmed Ibn Fadlan. Fadlan a scholar from Bagdad in the old kingdom of Persia was sent to the North to be an Ambassador to the King of Volga and recorded his experiences of a brutal civilisation of Viking Warriors (the Swedish 'Rus') with shockingly barbaric rituals and an existence based on superstition and violence. The movie tones this down somewhat but still maintains certain parts of Fadlan's writings.

Beautifully set and executed, this film is replete with battles, mystery and intrigue punctuated by some marvellous moments - a particular favourite of mine is when Fadlan says he cannot wield a Viking sword because it is too heavy; his Viking friend smiles, shrugs and simply says "Grow stronger". There were some inconsistencies though, certainly in costuming, but mostly a fine production. I would have liked to see some extras on the DVD, and in some places it is clear that the movie has been cut for length - what about the removed scenes?

A movie I watch time and time again if only to join in with the Viking battle chant before the 'Magnificent Seven' style last stand. A bloke's movie to be sure, but a terrific one.

2010: The Year We Make Contact [DVD] [1984]
2010: The Year We Make Contact [DVD] [1984]
Dvd ~ Roy Scheider
Offered by EU ELECTRIC
Price: £19.99

19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated but interesting, 27 Jun. 2006
"2010: The Year We Make Contact" is a fine representation of the second of Arthur C Clarke's Odyssey books. The production is a product of its time though with the Soviet Union still very much in existence and antagonism between East and West very much still alive. I don't believe that the movie suffers too much because of that specifically, more for the title I think - 2010 is a little too close to now and the combined space programmes of every country are too far off the technology for any realism.

Some good performances, John Lithgow as Walter Curnow for one and Bob Balaban as Dr Chandra are worthy of note. The Russian accents are pretty ropey despite a number of Russian actors, and Roy Scheider is a little wooden - take particular note of his fake laugh early in the movie whilst checking Discovery's orbit.

Not a bad movie, and while the movie is widescreen, the version I got was letterbox rather than anamorphic 16:9. Sound passable but uninspired and unexciting during the aerobraking manoeuver.

I'm not disappointed that I bought the movie as it is worth the pittance I paid for it. I would have liked anamorphic widescreen, DTS and a decent crop of DVD extras - then I would have given four stars rather than three (or the two and a half it is really worth!).

Contact (Special Edition) [1997] [DVD]
Contact (Special Edition) [1997] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jodie Foster
Price: £3.94

4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is there life out there?, 27 Jun. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A passable movie extracted from a passable book. Some decent imagery and some fine performances from the main protagonists. The special effects were not that special.Contact shows religious intolerance and fear, it shows politics at its worst and humanity at its strangest and introduces us to the idea that we might not be alone. All in all, a decent enough film that is perhaps a little slow for mainstream audiences and a little too cerebral in places for the masses.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2017 11:28 PM GMT

GEAR4 FirePower World Tour  V2 - Travel Charger for iPod, iPod nano and iPod Shuffle
GEAR4 FirePower World Tour V2 - Travel Charger for iPod, iPod nano and iPod Shuffle

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, value for money but not stunning, 19 Jun. 2006
I bought this item to give my PC a bit of a rest - translation: got tired of partner plugging her iPod into my PC to charge it. I chose GEAR4 as I'd already purchased a GEAR4 case for an iPod Nano and was very happy with the product. The charger basically does what it says on the packaging, but it just feels a little cheap. The item works first and foremost, but it isn't as slick as it could be and the cables could do with being either a little shorter or retractable.

If you just want to charge up your iPod then this gadget does the job at a reasonable price, especially as Amazon provided the GEAR4 car charger free with this purchase as a special offer at the time I ordered this.

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