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Michael Anderson (UK)

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Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
Offered by EVERGAME
Price: £15.49

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dull, 12 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) (Video Game)
I find it very hard to believe Gran Turismo 5 has been in solid development for six years, more like it was thrown together in six months. There's so much recycled material from GT3 and GT4 that surely nothing was necessary except a bit (and I mean a bit) of polishing. Talking of polish, this isn't a very good game at all, either in AI terms or looks. When I buy a new title I play it back to back with other games of the same genre. Slightly Mad Studios' NFS: Shift is a great racer straight out of the box, unlike GT5. Criterion Games' Burnout Paradise is deep and beautiful - the latter is a rarity in GT5. Even Codemasters' Grid is more thrilling and enjoyable. None of these games required six or seven years of development. Yet Polyphony Digital reckon this dull, fiddly game is so fantastic it's worth releasing a shorter "teaser" version for twenty quid, well before the full game's release. Unbelievable arrogance. I stuck with GT5 for four or five weeks, and was bored almost to tears by the endless grinding and parsimonious rewards. At least I can still enjoy GT4 - a far better game. This game has lost the series a lot of its former lustre for me, however.


Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3)
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3)
Offered by The Treasure's Island
Price: £20.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary, 12 Jan. 2011
There are some truly bizarre negative reviews of NFS:HP on Amazon so far. Complaints about a lack of manual gear changing, a lack of steering wheel support, and dismissive remarks about the game being "too arcadey". An arcade racer too arcadey? Who would have thought it? Anyway, my gripes are about the actual content and not erroneous simulation aspects. Having seen a friend's copy of the game on PC, I was struck by how well defined the graphics were and how excellent it looked in full screen, therefore the rather washed out and letterboxed nature of the console versions came as a definite disappointment. My HDTV has a pretty big screen, but when large "cinematic widescreen" borders enter the equation, the viewable area of screen is greatly reduced. Then there is the graphical fidelity, which is a very noticeable step down from the PC iteration. Gameplay-wise, it's a very mixed bag. The races and police pursuits are fun, but these are almost outweighed at times by solo time attacks and police car races against the clock. If I wanted to drive around without on-road competition I wouldn't have bought a game called 'Hot Pursuit'. Then there are problems such as a lack of responsiveness at high speeds, making some crashes with AI traffic almost unavoidable, and there's also questionable collision detection. I compared Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box back to back with Hot Pursuit, and there is little competition - the former is the better game in every department. NFS:HP is a really rather ordinary arcade racer, which is hugely overrated.


The Last Sherlock Holmes Story (BBC Audio)
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story (BBC Audio)
by Michael Dibdin
Edition: Audio CD

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Jan. 2011
As a homage to Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle (referred to here, almost endlessly at one point, as ACD), Michael Dibdin successfully uses appropriate 19th century novelistic idioms to convey the time, place and characters we have come to expect from Conan Doyle's stories. It is this close cloning of the originals which I find most enjoyable, and obviously much research and work went into getting the ambience as close as possible to the source. This, however, is perhaps Dibdin's one real success, with the story itself being serviceable but highly disappointing once the reveal occurs.

==SPOILER==

The personality of Jack The Ripper has been one of the most intriguing mysteries of the past century. There have been numerous books published on the matter, with varying qualities of "evidence" used to pinpoint a number of individuals, with Francis Tumblety being perhaps (for me) the most compelling and fascinating. Despite its fictional characters, Dibdin is unafraid of using real-world persons and events to further his tale, so I was looking forward to a Holmseian analysis of the available facts. This is largely unforthcoming, however, and it was a major anti-climax to be informed that Jack The Ripper was none other than Holmes' arch nemesis Professor Moriarty. For myself, it was at this point that most of Dibdidn's good work fell to pieces. An intriguing whodunnit suddenly became a tiresome romp, and I had little interest in what followed. A Sherlock Holmes tale (and tribute) involving Jack The Ripper ought to be somewhat less predictable than a workmanlike dumping of the Whitechapel Murders squarely at the feet of a fictional supporting character.


The Complete Fawlty Towers [1975] [DVD]
The Complete Fawlty Towers [1975] [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cleese
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £17.95

1 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Badly dated, 4 Jan. 2011
Fawlty Towers was hilarious when I was in my teens, but returning to it now largely leaves me cold. Broad farce is fine, if you like that kind of thing, but over thirty years on I find this more embarrassing than entertaining. Some of the episodes still stand up, such as the one in which Polly attempts to impersonate Sybil from Sybil's bed, and the "rat in the cake" ("Ee's hamster!") episode is brilliantly done. But there are too many illogical moments of guests and other minor characters acting bizarrely purely to set up a scenario (a la Some Mothers Do 'Ave' 'Em), and others such as the occasion when you can see Manuel very carefully inserting his foot into a gourmet duck before "accidentally" walking around in it. In many instances such as these the contrivances are painful and - I'm afraid - amateurish. Another that springs to mind is when Bazil asks Manuel where Cybil is, and the latter replies "Que? The bill?" Why wouldn't Manuel know the name of the manager's wife whom he sees every day? I'm happy to suspend my disbelief occasionally, but things like that are a bit much. The regular characters, however, are excellently created and it is this solid basis which lets the writing and performing get away with weaknesses much of the times. Fawlty Towers isn't unwatchable, unlike the great majority of '70s sitcoms, but it has aged badly.


Dumb and Dumber [DVD] [1994]
Dumb and Dumber [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ Jim Carrey
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 26 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Dumb and Dumber [DVD] [1994] (DVD)
Surely one of the greatest and funniest comedy films ever created. Dumb and Dumber is consistently hilarious, witty and well observed. Again and again the Farrelly Brothers serve up fantastic set pieces which Carrey and Daniels deliver with flair and astute timing. D&D is a real rarity in that it is a genuinely amusing film with barely a flaw, from the writing to the performances, casting and story development. D&D doesn't try to be sophisticated, but it is light years ahead of any other comedy film I can think of. People often talk about "masterpieces" like Some Like It Hot, but such older comedies never elicit from me more than a smile; Dumb & Dumber is both witty and clever, but it is also hilariously funny and contains a great depth of human warmth. You laugh at Dumb & Dumber because it is funny, not because you feel you should.


The Remains Of The Day [DVD] [2001]
The Remains Of The Day [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Price: £4.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My misake, no doubt... one of many, 21 Dec. 2010
A fantastic film, and one to be watched many times by those it enthralls. Kazuo Ishiguro's novel is one of the rare occurrences of a book becoming a possibly even better film, with The Godfather being another which comes to mind. Ishiguro captures the social mores which governed England for many generations, and which still do, but this Merchant Ivory adaptation perhaps promotes the material to another level again. The time and setting - the dark days of the late 1930s - have never been more lovingly evoked, and Hopkins' and Emma Thompson's performances are amongst the best of their careers. This is a love story, but a thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate one, without the false schmaltz of a romcom. As mature leads, Hopkins and Thompson connect whilst failing to connect, and one famous scene more than any other typifies the way they constantly miss each other whilst regardlessly becoming ever more involved. Throughout, the performances are perfect, and the period detail, while minimal, is just right. The Remains of the Day never veers into mawkishness, and is a love story for grown-ups which is, by turns, intelligent, warm, superbly observational, dark, and delightfully wry.


Relics
Relics
by Shaun Hutson
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars twenty years later..., 17 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Relics (Paperback)
I first read Relics shortly after its release in the 1980s, and as a young man who was not very well read, I quite enjoyed it. Fast Forward over two decades, and in 2010 this novel is an anachronism. Worse, however, is the relish with which Hutson churns out unnecessary cruelty for cheap thrills. I am along-time fan of horror both in novel and film form, but this is tacky and tatty horror without a redeeming feature. Hutson not only writes in a simplistic style reminiscent of early James Herbert, but he also has a quite unpleasantly cavalier attitude when it comes to what is acceptable for advancing a rather weak plot. If you enjoy reading about dogs tearing each other limb from limb there might be something here for you, otherwise you'd be better served with far superior writers like Graham Masterton.


Mrs Dalloway (Penguin Essentials)
Mrs Dalloway (Penguin Essentials)
by Virginia Woolf
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 17 Dec. 2010
Virginia Woolf was influenced by Joyce's "stream of consciousness" as seen in such works as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, but is somewhat more accessible than the latter and more complete than the former. Clarissa Dalloway is a wistful, reflective character, who spends the majority of the novel reminiscing about her youth and planning a forthcoming party. A few miles away, and unknown to Clarissa, lives Septimus Warren Smith, a former soldier of the Great War attempting to cope with the debilitating effects of shell shock. Woolf's masterful depiction of Warren Smith and his wife, Lucrezia, were, for me, the most rewarding aspects of the novel, containing pathos, desperation and even hope. But as everything here is of such a high standard that is not to say that there is nothing else of interest, because Mrs Dalloway herself is a fascinating individual in her own right, and other characters have charm and warmth also. It is, however, the plight of Septimus which elevates the novel, making it much more than a high quality musing on the internal struggles of the middle aged middle classes. Mrs Dalloway is both a wonderful read and an important milestone in modernist writing.


The Rainbow (Penguin Classics)
The Rainbow (Penguin Classics)
by D. H. Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 16 Dec. 2010
The Rainbow is a hugely rewarding novel, which despite its relative brevity has the air of the epic about it. I had previously read Lady Chatterley's Lover and I've since read Women in Love, but while I enjoyed both neither had the impact of The Rainbow. That this book was censured and unavailable to buy legally in Britain for over a decade is testimony that many aspects of British life in the earlier decades of the last century are not worth mourning. The Brangwens are a family to be savoured, and Lawrence expertly evokes a long lost semi-mythical past without resorting to sentiment. This is a magnificent novel, and in over thirty years of devouring books of many kinds, this is one that has few peers.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2016 5:22 PM GMT


Wuthering Heights (Wordsworth Classics)
Wuthering Heights (Wordsworth Classics)
by Emily Brontë
Edition: Paperback
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning achievement, 16 Dec. 2010
I read Wuthering Heights during my English Degree, and was completely captivated and enthralled from start to finish. This is an astonishing novel, with rich, complex characters in a brooding landscape, and so entranced was I by the writer and the setting that I visited Howarth and the family home in order to try and understand better the environment from which Emily and her equally tragic sisters emerged - it is an intoxicating place, and for me it felt like a pilgrimage. I have since read and enjoyed Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Anne's Agnes Grey (plus Elizabeth Gaskell's excellent biography of the former), and while both are superb Emily's gothic masterpiece is, for me, one of the greatest novels in the English language. I would urge anyone who loves books to read this remarkable novel.


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