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since 05/03/2001


Islands of Adventure 12/03/2006

Puts the Theme in Theme Park

Islands of Adventure Islands of Adventure is a Theme Park, in fact it is THE Theme Park. Located in Orlando as part of the Universal Studios resort, it opened in 1999 with Steven Spielberg as it's creative consultant. It makes U.K Theme Parks (and I'm not knocking them) look like broken down travelling fairs with two dodgy-looking rides. The theming of the park is breathtaking, each 'land' has an entirely unique look and even the soundtrack is great. Oh, and lastly, the rides. It is going to be a struggle to describe how good they are. You could say I quite liked the place when I visited in April last year with my girlfriend. LOCATION Islands of Adventure is located in Orlando near International Drive. The park is opposite Universal Studios which is linked by City Walk - an complex of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shops. The park can be reached by water taxi if staying at any of the Universal Hotels, there are large car parks and most hotels on International Drive have free buses that go there every morning. The car parks and bus parks are linked to City Walk and both parks are a five minute walk from the entrance. PRICE As part of our holiday package, we purchased a five park flexi ticket that gave us unlimited access to SeaWorld, Wet 'n Wild, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Busch Gardens for 14 days. This cost about $225 each ($200 for children) and proved excellent value. You are given a ticket at the first of the parks you visit which can then be used to ...

Universal Studios 28/02/2006

Hooray for Holl.....Florida

Universal Studios Universal Studios, located in sunny Orlando, is all about bringing the movies to life or at least turning them into state of the art shows, 3D films and rides. It is a working studio and television programmes are made and broadcast from there. But for this review we are looking at the Theme Park - a place to shoot Aliens, be stalked by sharks and monsters and see parts of blockbuster film franchises not available anywhere else (except at other Universal Parks). LOCATION Universal Studios is situated near to International Drive and has grown from a single studio theme park to a whole resort with another Theme Park (Islands of Adventure), a night spot with clubs, restaurants and shops (City Walk) and hotels. The park can be reached by water taxi if staying at any of the Universal Hotels, there are large car parks and most hotels on International Drive have free buses that go there every morning. The car parks and bus parks are linked to City Walk and both parks are a five minute walk from the entrance via City Walk. You can technically walk there from International Drive but this would probably involve running very fast to avoid cars. Taxis will take you there but you can also use the Lynx system bus service. We didn't use this to get to the parks but there is a bus stop just at the steps to the walkway to City Walk. A lot of these buses cross International Drive and so are a cheap way to get back (if your staying there) as a trip costs $1 each PRICE As part ...

SeaWorld - Florida 26/02/2006

Always beware the Kraken

SeaWorld - Florida Me and my girlfriend visited SeaWorld as part of a two week holiday to Orlando in April 2005. The fact that we spent the whole of our first day there until it closed at 7.00pm (despite being very jet-lagged), another afternoon and the morning of our last day would give you a clue that this review is going to be a positive one. Location Seaworld is situated at the top of International Drive in Orlando and like all the theme parks in the area has a large car park. However, if you are staying on International Drive then the I-Trolley bus service goes past the park every ten minutes and is a cheap and easy way to get to and from Seaworld (although be prepared for a wait and potentially being squashed on the journey back to your hotel). Price As part of our holiday package, we purchased a five park flexi ticket that gave us unlimited access to SeaWorld, Wet 'n Wild, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Busch Gardens for 14 days. This cost about $225 each ($200 for children) and proved excellent value. You are given a ticket at the first of the parks you visit which can then be used to access any of the parks as many times as you like (including visiting more than one on the same day). This also includes a free bus ride from Seaworld to Busch gardens in Tampa. A 4 park flexi ticket is also available (it doesn't include Busch Gardens) for around $180 ($150 for children). If you are planning on visiting all the parks on your visit then these tickets are the way ...

Chicago (DVD) 03/03/2003

Just lacks a bit of JAZZ

Chicago (DVD) Chicago is an adaptation of the hit stage play of the same name. A stage play that I've seen and enjoyed (I think I did an op on it) despite having reservations as I'd never seeing a musical on stage before. I had reservations about the film version for different reasons - a) I'd seen the stage play so what was the point in watching the film version and b) I'm not a big fan of Catherine Zeta Jones and I'm not a fan at all of Richard Gere. However, my girlfriend couldn't wait to see it so off to the cinema we went. The film starts with Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), one half of the singing duo, The Kelly Sisters performing on stage at a seedy Chicago night-club. She's late and has to wash blood off her hands before going on stage, alone. She's watched in awe by Roxy Hart (Renee Z), wannabe singer who is about to go back to her apartment with her sleazy boyfriend behind her husband's back. By the end of the scene, Velma has belted out "All that jazz" and been arrested and Roxy has been promised the earth (and a singing career) from her boyfriend. A few weeks later and Velma's in prison while Roxy finds out that her boyfriend is not what she thought he was so she fatally shoots him. The excellent John C Reilly playing Roxy's none-to-clever husband agrees to take the wrap thinking that Roxy's secret lover was really a burglar. Unfortunately for Rozy, the truth comes out in a song and she ends up in sing, sing (I'll not do anymore puns, honest). At first Roxy finds ...

Daredevil (DVD) 16/02/2003

Marvel do it again

Daredevil (DVD) I’m a bit of a comic geek – not as much as I used to be but I’ll always take a big interest in any comic adaptations coming to the silver screen. I was never a massive fan of Daredevil so I wasn’t going to be too bothered if they strayed away from the source material. However, a lack of reviews in the movie mags and a general “bad” feeling meant I went into the film with low expectations on the actual quality of the movie. After seeing the film, I can report that it is one of the closest adaptations of any comic to the source material and a damn fine film as well. The film begins with the all-important origin (slightly changed from the comic– Batmanised would be a good description): Matt Murdoch lives with his father on the mean streets of Hell’s kitchen in New York City. He’s getting bullied by Tony Soprano’s kid and his dad is a washed up boxer working for the mob. One day, Matt witnesses his old man intimidating some guy and runs straight into some toxic waste robbing him of his sight. It also super enhances all his other senses giving him super powers. Some bad things happen after this and Daredevil is born. Jump to the present and Matt (Ben Affleck) is a lawyer running a struggling law firm with his partner, Foggy Nelson (Jon Favreau). His powers allow him to sense if people are lying so when a criminal escapes justice in the courtroom, Daredevil can dish out his own justice at night. Daredevil is a man ...

WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth (PS2) 09/02/2003

Dvon Get the tables

WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth (PS2) Smackdown 3, the first Smackdown game on the PS2 was a big disappointment. While it offered better graphics and sound (except for the terrible commentary) the gameplay just didn’t click and the season mode, well the less said about that the better. The whole thing felt rushed (the curse of the franchise game) when everyone was hoping for a game to challenge the awesome No Mercy on the N64. One year on and THQ have sorted themselves out to come up with a game that is a worthy rival to No Mercy and easily the best game on the next-gen systems. First, the basics: Smackdown 4 is a WWE (WWF) endorsed wrestling game featuring all the wrestlers of the WWE: The Rock, Steve Austin, Triple H, Chris Benoit, Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, etc. The only real notable absence is Rey Mysterio Jnr but he can be created (more on that later). As you would expect the game uses the likeness, music, entrance videos of all the stars and events. The presentation is everything you would expect from a next-gen licensed product. It looks good and sounds good (although the commentary, while better than Sm3, is still pretty poor). But what about the game……. The control systems and game mechanics haven’t changed that much – X is used for striking attacks, O for grapples, /\ for running and [] to block. The shoulder buttons perform various tasks from changing the opponent you are focussing on (which works pretty well), taunts and the all important Smackdown button. Pretty much ...

Are You Dave Gorman? - Dave Gorman, Danny Wallace 07/01/2003

Who is this Dave Gorman

Are You Dave Gorman? - Dave Gorman, Danny Wallace Are YOU Dave Gorman? If so, chances are you've heard of this book, in fact you may be in it. For the rest of you it may need some explaining. Stand-up comedian, Dave Gorman and his flat-mate, journalist Danny Wallace are the authors. It's their story of trying to find 54 other people called Dave Gorman. Now, why would someone want to find one person with their own name let alone 54? Three reasons: male stupidity, a bet and, most importantly, tequila. During a late night session in their local, Dave and Danny have an argument over the fact that there must be loads of other people with the name Dave Gorman. The words, "wanna bet," are uttered and they wake to find themselves on a train to Scotland. Dave had heard of a namesake who was assistant manager at East Fife FC; fortunately they were at home. Following a dismal match, they meet a very confused Dave Gorman. That should have been the end had Dave 2 not had a son also called, you guessed it, Dave Gorman. Despite Danny's protests the two lads met Dave 3 and then, instead of conceding the bet, Danny foolishly ups the stakes. He challenges Dave to meet another 52. Dave accepts and the two friends find themselves not just traveling Britain but Scandinavia, America and Israel.They find people willing to change their name to Dave Gorman, here of people who are nearly Dave Gorman (Dave O'Gorman doesn't count) and Dave manages to make a stage show at the Edingburgh festival out of his quest to find the 54. A story ...

Austin Powers - Goldmember (DVD) 02/09/2002

Good things come in twos

Austin Powers - Goldmember (DVD) I loved the first two Austin Powers movies. Saw them at the cinema, got both DVDs and the soundtracks. I was looking forward to Austin Powers 3: Goldmember but I was also very aware that film franchises that reach "3" tend to be pale imitations of their earlier incarnations. Austin Powers 3 begins with a star filled cameotastic as the film starts with "Austin Powers - The Movie". Stephen Spielberg then kick starts the obligatory musical sequence that concludes with Britney Spears. So far so good: all the rumoured cameos out of the way and a good musical number to kick off. I was back in Austin's universe and nothing seemed to have changed. The film's plot concerns the introduction of a new villain Goldmember (played by Myers) a crazed Dutchman who loves gold. He kidnaps Austin's father played by Michael Caine and takes him back to the seventies. Austin goes back in time to get him where he meets Foxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) an old flame. Very quickly everyone jumps back to the present as Dr Evil and Goldmember team up to destroy the world. Of course the plot doesn't really matter in an Austin Powers film its the characters and situations that are important. Everyone from the previous two films is back (with the exception of Liz Hurley and Heather Graham as there cameos were cut) as well as new characters. So it sounds like Austin Powers 3 should be pretty good. Right? Well, watching the film I kept telling myself that. About half way through I realised that ...

AA Driving School 01/09/2002

Not driven around the bend

AA Driving School Two years ago I started driving lessons with the AA Driving School. Working for another company that was under their parent company (Centrica) It seemed to make sense to use them (plus I was being lazy). I phoned a call centre, block booked 14 lessons (for a discount)and was given the name of an instructor and a lesson time. It was easy. I had seven hours of lessons and, to be fair, it seemed to be going well. The driver was patient, friendly and a good teacher. So why I this not a four or five star opinion? Well from now on my experience with the AA Driving School was nothing but bad. My instructor never turned up for my next lesson. I tried to call him but couldn't get an answer. About the same time my girlfriend was moving to Bristol to go to Uni and with my mind on other things I didn't chase the instructor again. I didn't hear anything from him or the AA for another three weeks until I received a letter from the AA informing me that my instructor was no longer working for them. The letter asked me to contact them to arrange a new appointment with a new instructor but also claimed that I only had five hours of lessons left meaning they had deducted 2 hours for the lesson that I never had. It took numerous letters and phone calls for me to reclaim the lost hours and by the time it was sorted out I was moving to Bristol and jobs, flats and life in general got in the way. (Two Years On) A few weeks ago, I decided to start lessons again. I rang the call centre ...

Eight Legged Freaks (DVD) 28/08/2002


Eight Legged Freaks (DVD) 8 Legged Freaks is stupid. Dumb, loud and stupid. You'll have figured out the plot about ten minutes in and the star name is David Arquette. Oh and its by the guys who did Godzilla. Hang on. Don't run away just yet as this 'B' movie update is pretty good. Small town USA and a barrel of toxic waste gets thrown into the local river. A crazy spider collector fishes out contaminated grubs to feed his pets. An annoying intelligent kid is an expert on arachnids and learns all about different spider (pay attention - it will become important later)David Arquette returns to his home town to take over his father's 'METHANE GAS' filled mine and reclaim his lost love, the police chief of the town (also the annoying kid's mum). There are some other characters, most notably the corrupt landowner with a shopping mall and a paranoid DJ who has watched too many editions of the X-Files. The spider collector feeds the contaminated grubs to his pets and all of a sudden pets start to disappear including an incredibly stupid cat vs spider fight that is taken from a cartoon. The sub-plots and (lack of) characterisation continue seemingly taken directly from the fifties B movies they appear to be parodying. You will chew your popcorn and slurp your drink in impatience waiting for the spiders to show up. Fortunately it is worth the wait. The spiders look good (great CGI), they sound good and they all have a bit of character to them. Best and most important of all there are hundreds of them. ...

Fuerteventura (Spain) 25/08/2002

The Quiet Canary Island

Fuerteventura (Spain) If you tell most people that you are going to Fuerteventura they will ask you "where's that?" Those that have heard of the island and have never been there will tell you that its windy; and it is. However, this is not Blackpool sea front in November windy. In the off-season when temps are in the seventies/eighties the wind can make it feel a little colder than it is but temperatures are still very high in our winter months. During the summer, temperatures can reach up to and over a hundred and then the breeze is very welcome. The island is the second largest of the Canary Islands after Tenerife and lies just south of Lanzarote. Fuerteventura has four main resorts: Corralejo in the north of the island; Caleta de Fuste in the middle and closest to the airport and the neighbouring resorts of Playa Jandia and Costa Calma located in the south. Correlejo is the main and busiest resort but none of the island's four resorts are particularly lively. Those seeking an abundance of night clubs, bars and alcohol should look to one of the other Canary Islands. Choosing a resort depends on choice of beach. Fuerteventura is famous for its beaches, with the southern end of the island boasting some amazing long golden sands that will appeal to everyone. To the north, near Corellejo, lie a massive stretch of white sand dunes that are part of a national park. The island is an outstanding location for beaches: they are safe, clean and have ample space for holiday ****. Some of the southern ...

NHL 2002 (PS2) 22/02/2002

He Shoots He Scores

NHL 2002 (PS2) NHL 2002 on the PS2 was a game I was very excited about. A favourite game of mine in its earlier incarnations on the Megadrive (going back a bit) and the Playstation (although I only saw the 96 or 97 version). The back of the box promised a lot and as I had been impressed by my other PS2 games this had a lot to live up to. NHL stands for National Hockey League which is the American/Canadian Ice Hockey league so as you would guess this is a sport simulation of Ice Hockey. If you're not a fan (and that shouldn't stop enjoyment of this game) then a quick summary: The game is played with two teams of six players for three periods of twenty minutes each (the default is five minutes a period but you can play the real 60 minute game). As with most team sports the idea is to score goals in the opposition net by speeding up the ice and smashing a puck at high speeds with your stick. The opposition try to stop this by checking (ie skating up very fast and knocking you stupid). Players that hit too hard are sent to the penalty box and miss game time (usually two minutes) leaving their team-mates a man down to defend the poor old goalie. The game in real life is very fast and very bruising and EA have captured this in the game. The game engine has remained more or less the same since NHL 93 on the Megadrive because it works so well. It's very easy to play but requires fast fingers due to the high paced action. Add this to the fact that you get to smash the opposition into little ...

Superman 2 (Special Edition) (DVD) 03/02/2002

Bow before Zod

Superman 2 (Special Edition) (DVD) Superman 2 was filmed at the same time as the first Superman film (don't worry this review won't be filled with mindless trivia, unless think of anymore). I'll presume you know who Superman is, what he looks like and what he can do, etc so on with the story. The film begins with Lois getting in trouble with some terrorists in Paris (no prizes for guessing who rescues her) meanwhile we are re-introduced to General Zod (played with great menace by Terrence Stamp) and chums, who, at the beginning of the first film were being tried on Krypton for being very bad men and women and sentenced to be trapped in the swirly square thing of death. They escape and decide to head to Earth. Being from Krypton these three nasty individuals all possess the same powers as Superman so Earth finds itself in a bit of trouble. Superman to the rescue then, well no because Lois has figured out him and Clark Kent are one and the same and they have both shot off to the North Pole for a dirty week-end. While Zod takes over the world with some help from Lex Luthor (another great performance by Gene Hackman), a now powerless Clark is getting a beating from a thug in a restaurant. Of course all's well that ends well. Having not watched them for a while I considered Superman 2 to be my favourite of the Superman quartet and, don't get me wrong it's still a great film but having just watched it again I didn't enjoy it as much. In contrast I watched the first film and absolutely loved it. Nostalgia is a ...

Chicago 16/12/2001

Murder is the best way for a girl to get ahead

Chicago Chicago, a town where the best way for a girl to get ahead is cold blooded murder. The higher the body count and the more brutal the crime; the higher the chance of stardom. Roxy is an unknown lounge singer who, in a fit of jealous rage, kills her boyfriend. Failing to get her faithful husband to take the wrap, Roxy takes a trip to jail awaiting trail. There she meets Mama, the prison fixer and Velma, a singer who, after killing her sister and husband, is awaiting front page news and stardom. But how does a girl convicted of murder get out of jail in order to capitalise on all this publicity? Easy, hire Billy Flynn, a lawyer who only works for the purest reason possible, love (but $5000 also helps). Roxy is forced to manipulate her husband, the press and her fellow inmates in a town where the next big thing is only a gunshot away. Chicago is a musical currently on tour within the UK and recently visited the Bristol Hippodrome. The west-end version was graced by the presence of Denise Van Houten while the tour version gets John "Nick Cotton" Altman. He surprisingly shakes off his "eastenders" persona, does a bit of acting and belts out a good tune in the process. The rest of the cast are professional singers and dancers who all out-shine most of the "performers" at the top of the charts. The story is engrossing and peppered with great bits of humour. It's interesting to think about the storyline in today's society. Would an Appleton sister killing her sibling ...

Grand Theft Auto III (PS2) 16/12/2001

Bad to the Bone

Grand Theft Auto III (PS2) Liberty City is a place where crime does pay. Rockstar Games' controversial series goes next generation as Grand Theft Auto 3 comes crashing onto the Playstation 2. The game caused quite a stir on the Playstation. It centered around stealing cars and doing jobs for the mob. Four years on from the sequel and attitudes to games have relaxed a little but GTA3 keeps its 18 certificate. The original Playstation game (and its sequel) were very playable. Unfortunately the top down view and rather basic graphics prevented the games achieving true greatness. A move to the Playstation 2 has meant a massive improvement in the look of the game. The once cartoony graphics have been replaced with a living, breathing 3D city which shows off the power of the Playstation 2. The game is split into missions; each linked with a well voiced animated cut scene. Most missions involve driving somewhere and either picking someone up or running someone down; all the while trying to avoid the attention of the cops. The driving is a step up from other games; thanks to the range of vehicles available (everything can be driven from sports cars to boats to tanks) and the amount of detail that has gone into the game (cars move out of the way for a police car and buildings are reflected in puddles). Racing through the streets with the cops behind you is an exhilarating experience. The walking parts of the game are also impressive but let down by the tricky weapon targeting system. It ...
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