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since 23/10/2009


2012 (DVD) 21/04/2010

Is this the worst film of recent times?

2012 (DVD) When someone suggested we watch this recently, I went in to this film with very low expectations, as I dislike disaster films in general, but I tried to maintain an open mind. This film however was much worse than I had even anticipated, and that really is saying something. Normally you would hope than when one's expectations are that low you would be pleasantly surprised. This was similarly the case with Roland Emmerich's extraordinarily bad 10,000BC. Let's get the one genuine positive out of the way, the film was visually stunning and the graphics were very high quality. There were multiple scenes of the water levels rising, and of the cities being destroyed that were rather haunting and that were beautifully shot. There are also some quality, but wasted actors in this film such as John Cusack and Danny Glover. This aside, the film was poorly acted, very little in the way of a stroyline, too long, dripping with painful and cringe worthy morality and sentimentality and at times so poor that we all laughed out loud. The basic plot centres around prophecies for doomsday, which according to the Mayan calendar the world will come to an end on 21/12/2012. Due to solar activity the core of the earth is heating up, all of this happens in a ludicrously rapid timeframe, and we follow the fate of a series of characters, as they face life and death attempting to dodge the worldwide disaster. You may be surprised that I am so harsh on this film, as all know that disaster films ...

Ramada Manchester Salford Quays, Manchester 07/04/2010

An excellent value hotel

Ramada Manchester Salford Quays, Manchester I recently stayed in this Hotel located a couple of miles from the centre of Manchester. It was located very close to (opposite) Salford Quays metro stop, which can easily be found by taking a metro bound for Eccles from Manchester Piccadilly, this is only eight stops. The hotel is a four star establishment. I managed to book the room for only £61, on Ebookers, despite this rating, so we were unsure of what to expect. Rather annoyingly I later looked on the hotel website itself, and found that rooms were available for only £53 so it shows that it is always beneficial to shop around. Arrival The reception was very nicely, although simply laid out, and was spotlessly clean and bright. We were seen to and provided with our keys quickly and efficiently. We arrived half an hour before our 2pm check in time, but were allowed to check in early with no problems. We were provided with all of the information we would expect. The staff were friendly and polite, as they were at all times during our stay, and they made it clear that were available at all times should be require any assistance. The room We were pleasantly pleased with the room, it was very well decorated and bright, and was very spacious for a standard room such as this. There were lots of the kind of amenities that one would expect from a nice hotel, such as tea and coffee making facilities, a very good quality shower, a safe deposit box, a sofa, and some nice quality shower gels and ...

Chaophraya, Manchester 17/03/2010

A top quality restaurant but what's the rush?

Chaophraya, Manchester The Chaophraya restaurant which is named after a major river in thailand, currently has three restaurants in England, in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. This review will focus on the Manchester restaurant that I recently attended with my girlfriend for our anniversary. Chaophraya is a rather prestigious restaurant that claims to be the best Thai restaurant in the United Kingdom, and in support of such lofty claims, it has won numerous awards and accolades since opening. Amoung these are: -Best Newcomer award at the Cheshire Life Food & Drink awards, -The Thai Select Trophy’, which is apparently an award bestowed on restaurants that have shown outstanding quality for Thai food. - The best restaurant in Manchester award from -The Times newsapaper award for the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK. The big question is does the restaurant live up to the hype I called the restaurant on a monday afternoon hoping to book a table for the saturday at 7pm but they were fully booked and so we were told that we needed to arrive by 5 and leave by 7. This was obviously slightly frustrating but not the fault of the restaurant, more a sign on just how popular this place is. The decor was very pleasant and simple and totally appropriate for this Thai restaurant, with soft lighting. There was a comfortable bar area with reasonably priced drinks. The Food As a vegetarian, I was very pleased by the wide range of vegetarian dishes available, I am not ... 01/03/2010

JusinGuitar-One of the most useful websites I have ever been on This is an excellent website that offers an incredible amount of information with regards to learning how to play the guitar. This website works on an honour system, meaning that if you can afford to donate then you can donate an amount of money of your choosing, but if you can't afford it, then then it is free. This is very refreshing in terms of online instructional videos, so many websites of inferior quality, offer small nuggets of information, only to go on to say that you must pay a fee to access the material in full. Alternatives also include watching people on youtube but again, good videos that are reliable and of use are few and far between. As I will go on to explain there is an extraordinary amount of information on the site that must have taken a great deal of his time to produce, and it is genuinely very useful Justin Sandercoe One of the best things about learning from this site is that you can be safely assured that you are learning from a high quality and knowledgeable teacher. Justin Sandercoe is a professional teacher who has taught at the prestigious Guitar Institute, has bought out his own studio album and has played with Katie Melua. As someone who has spent a great deal of time exploring the internet for instructional videos on how to play various songs, and for help with guitar technique; I am acutely aware of how many very poor and misleading videos there are on youtube and the net in general. The fact that you can access high quality teaching, ...

Olympus FE-270 26/01/2010

A high quality, good value and easy to use camera

Olympus FE-270 I bought this camera a couple of years ago, having been generally very impressed with an Olympus camera that I had previously owned. This camera has also not disappointed, and has been used a great deal for a variety of purposes in the last two years. Who/what the camera claims to be for The reviews that I read at the time for this camera including the Olympus website claimed that whilst this is essentially an entry level and rather basic camera it still provides high quality performance with simplicity and value for money. Thus for the general user such as myself that merely needs a camera to snap the odd family gathering and holidays this seems a very good choice indeed. Achieving a high quality, easy to use camera that is also value for money is a bold claim, but I believe that this camera comes through in all of these areas. What the camera can do The camera is 7.1 Megapixels, which is obviously not toward the higher end available, (and not as high as some camera phones these days) but is perfectly acceptable for general picture taking, which as I said is what this camera is designed for. The amount of Megapixels only really becomes an issue anyway when you wish to enlarge the pictures, but considering most pictures we all have developed are only 6X4 inches this is not an issue. The camera also comes with the standard zoom that you would expect. The camera also comes with a number of scene modes including film recording with sound, these can be played back on your ...

Philips DVP3310 17/01/2010

An excellent and value for money DVD player

Philips DVP3310 Intro I purchased this excellent DVD player from Sainsburys recently for the bargain price of £27.99 on sale, and am so far very impressed with what I have got for the money. Having paid a great deal more for my previous one, that did not last very long at all, I was not keen to shell out a great deal of money, and decided to go for quite a basic model. This particular player attracted me for several reasons. What it does that makes it so good Unusually for a cheap player, it plays a variety of different video formats. It is possible to watch JPEG photo CD’s, so you could put in your CD of photos, and as long as they are in this format, (which from what I am told most are) then you can view them on your TV screen. It plays audio CDs, simply meaning all your music CDs and CD-R/CD-RW. This means that if you had something that you wanted to watch recorded onto a CD it would also play that. In fact it plays pretty much any format, so any self-made DVDs can be watched. It is also multi-regional. I have to say however that I have not had the unit long and so cannot attest to this always working, but it does claim so on the box and the user manual. Being multi-regional can be of more use than you may think. For example, In the past I have bought DVDs, especially boxsets from the USA on Amazon, or whilst there on trips, for much cheaper than in the UK, many standard players here would not play them, but this little beauty will. It was also very simple to set up, I simply turned ...

Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (DVD) 03/01/2010

Classic Python and Live!

Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (DVD) This show that was recorded live from the Hollywood Bowl in 1982, lasts for around 1 hour 20 mins, and includes several classic sketches as well as some never before seen footage. This was Python near their worldwide prime, riding on the success of the 1979 brilliant and timeless film The life of Brian. In this classic show featuring all of the pythons we are shown some of their best known and classic sketches, although some of these are slightly modified. These include The Ministry of Silly Walks, the sketch in which Eric Idle annoys Terry Jones with random innuendo with the famous lines, Nudge Nudge wink wink, and the classic four Yorkshiremen sketch which originally appeared on At Last the 1948 Show. For some reason however for those of us who are big Python fans, the great familiarity of the sketches makes them even more popular and entertaining, maybe it is because we get a sense of connection with the show and it encourages audience participation. These are the kind of timeless sketches that you can watch over and over again, know the script off by heart even and yet still enjoy every moment. There are also some video clips shown to the audience which include a very funny sketch in which John Cleese plays Little Red Riding Hood, and sketch entitled the silly Olympics including such random events as the 200-meter freestyle for nonswimmers. There is also a fair amount of music on this DVD from Neil Innes from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band including such songs as sit ...

Star Trek - The Next Generation - Series 1 - Complete (DVD) 21/12/2009

A good start to the next generation

Star Trek - The Next Generation - Series 1 - Complete (DVD) As a big fan of star trek (without being a trekkie) for me this was a must have on DVD. This first season in my opinion did a very good job of making the transition from the old original star trek series starring William Shatner to the new generation. This was no easy challenge considering the enormous popularity of the franchise, and the need to bring it into modern times, and away from the outdated 1960s. There are a lot of very good episodes in this series, especially for me, an episode titled, "11001001", and we are introduced to many of the characters that we will grow to love over the seven seasons, including some characters who make excellent guest appearances throughout the seasons such as the superbeing known as Q. The performances are perhaps a little shaky and uncertain, and it is not perhaps until later seasons that the characters are firmly established. There is a real sense that they are testing out certain ideas and concepts, and deciding which characters will work the best and will feature the most prominently in the series. For example this is the only series featuring Denise Crosby in her role as Security Chief Tasha Yar. We also see the beginnings of the rather annoying welsey Crusher a young boy who will ultimately save the entire crew on multiple occasions. The ill defined nature of the characters is especially the case for Captain Picard and Data, as far as I am concerned, but nonetheless it still a solid start to the new show. The DVD also provides ...

The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins 10/12/2009

An excellent much needed book

The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins The god delusion is a controversial book written by the biologist and author of numerous science books Richard Dawkins. It suggests that belief in god is not only an illusion but that it is a pernicious one, harmful to society in many ways. It condemns belief in a supernatural god in all forms, and equally passionately, condemns all organised religions, exposing the extensive problems that can be the result of devout and blind faith. On the whole I thought that this book was engaging, intelligently and passionately written and much needed in modern times. There are several very serious and very important points that Dawkins makes, not least the dangers of indoctrinating children, who are particularly vulnerable to suggestion. He also highlights the extremes that people will go to, to protect their faith. One of the best points he makes, I feel, and one that everyone in our society from atheist to heavily religious should take heed of is how wrong it is that religion is somehow immune from criticism and debate. An excellent Douglas Adams quote highlights how we can happily debate peoples differing political and social opinions, but that it is far more of a taboo to debate religion. As far as I am concerned anything worth anything is worth debating, whatever view you hold. Another interesting point he makes is that just because we cannot prove the existence of god,at this time in either direction that the truth lies somewhere in between his existing and not. There is an ...

Samsung S5230 Star 21/11/2009

The best and most advanced budget Phone around

Samsung S5230 Star This phone was released in may of this year and is available in black white and pink (as far as I am aware) although I chose the most manly option available :) which was black. I obtained this Samsung Lite touchscreen phone on a new contract from The Carphone Warehouse just a couple of weeks ago, on what I consider to be a good deal, and so far I have been very happy with it. Although I am on a two year contract, this phone was free and I receive 500 texts and 100 minutes for the price of £10 per month for the entire length of the contract, a pretty good deal as I was spending probably more than this on pay as you go beforehand. The phone is available both from a variety of companies, but having shopped around I found this to be the best deal I could find. What I like about the phone: The phone is very attractive and sleek, and can easily slip into your pocket. The nice and large 3 inch touchscreen is very sensitive, bright and easy to navigate around. It can of course be locked so that you can have it in your pocket without worrying that you are accidentally calling someone. The phone is also lite by name and lite by nature, weighing in at less than 100 grammes. The phone has bluetooth which although I have only used it a few times has worked very effectively. The phone also has an MP3 player, and the sound quality is excellent. The phone is very easy to use, and to navigate around, even for someone like me, who is far from being tech savvy. I have been able to find any ...

Smallville - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) 21/11/2009

A good starting season

Smallville - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) This first season of Smallville first appeared on US tv in 2001, and charts the life of young clark Kent/superman beginning with his life as a high school student. This is a very entertaining and addictive show, even though admittedly rather teenagerish and samey in plot lines. This season introduces Clark as he tries to learn to cope with his powers, and live as normal a life as possible, whilst always supported by his parents johnathan and Martha, played by John Schneider and Annette O'Toole respectively. As a matter of interest, Annette O'Toole played Lana in superman III starring Christopher Reeve. This season, is a good introduction to the show, and one of the main elements of the show follows Lana played by Kristen Kreuk and Clarks attempts to hide his feelings for her. They both seem to feel that they are meant to be with each other, but of course anyone remotely familiar with the superman story, knows that this is not the case. Lex Luther (Michael Rosenbaum) also plays a pivotal role in this series, in fact interestingly in this series Clark and he are good friends, although it is clear from the outset that Lex has an interest in Clark, more suspicious than merely as friends. but Lex is portrayed as a good man in this series on the whole, with not too much indication of the man he is to become. There are some excellent episodes in this series, especially episodes called Nicodemus and reaper for me. As I alluded to earlier the show can be very samey with people ...

Dexter - Series 1 (Box Set) (DVD) 21/11/2009

Dexter..a very likeable murderer

Dexter - Series 1 (Box Set) (DVD) This show has one of the most simple but exciting and unique premises for any programme I have seen in years. Originally based on a series of novels by Jeff lindsay, this was bought to the televsion by James Manos, Jr, who was writer and co producer for the first season of the Sopranos. Like the Sopranos, Dexter has a rather morbid plot. Meet Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter anyalyst that by day helps to track some of the worst serial killers in Miami, yet by night is serial killer himself. In this series we are shown how when a small child Dexter was adopted by a policeman, who seeing early Dexter's homicidal leanings, taught him to control and direct his violence. Thus then, there is one twist, Dexter only kills those whom he sees as being deserving, accodring to a strict code, which he always vows to stick to, so basically he only kills those who are killers themselves. This first series is fantastic, we see how Dexter slowly develops from someone completely devoid of any emotion, or apparent compassion to starting to show some glimpses of emotion. His character is very psychologically complex, and one of the great things about watching this series, is gaining such a detailed insight into the mind of a killer, you really have to watch the show to see how this develops. By far and away the most amazing thing about this show, is that Dexter is very likeable and despite the fact that his actions are violent and obviously brutal and immoral, we start to see as Dexter as ...

Rear Window (DVD) 02/11/2009

Rear Window...Another Hitchcock classic

Rear Window (DVD) This classic 1954 film is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most celebrated and enduringly popular films, famed for its incredible case and suspense, and when you watch it, it is easy to see why. Basically the film centres around a photographer called L.B Jeffries, played by the superb James Stewart, who is confined to his apartment due to having a broken leg. He spends a great deal of time looking out of his window, merely out of boredom and intrigue and one day grows suspicious that a woman in an opposite building may have been murdered by her husband. This is an incredibly suspenseful, atmospheric and well acted film, with the vast majority of the film taking place in one room looking out into a courtyard. The performances from Stewart and the incomparable Grace Kelley make this incredibly easy to watch. Their relationship and the way in which it develops through their investigation of the suspected murder, is for me one of the highlights of the film. In particular the way in which James Stwart's opinion of Grace Kelley changes so dramatically as she becomes increasingly embroiled in the investigation. The directing is obviously flawless, and in true Hitchcock style we live the film through the eyes of the hero in this case James Stewart. This is achieved by the fact that the camera angles looking out of the apartment are always from the same perspective that Stewart sees from, thus when he looks out of the window, we see the coutyard from his perspective. The ...

Wii Sports Resort (Wii) 30/10/2009

Wii Sports Resort- Fun for the whole family

Wii Sports Resort (Wii) Since its release for retail purchase in 2006 the Nintendo Wii has enjoyed immense success. One of the key reasons for this is probably that it reaches a wider demographic than the majority of games consoles and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Wii sports resort, released as a kind of improvement on wii sports was released in july of this year, and is no exception, providing entertainment for people of all ages, and has the potential of being enjoyed by the whole family. Wii sports is set on a island beach resort, and allows the playing of a number of different games, either as a single player or for up to four players. The game requires an additional device in the form of wii motion plus, which is a more sophisticated sensing device than the regular wii remote, and is able to pick up more complicated and sensitive movements when you are playing. This obviously improves the experience of the game, making it more realistic. Like wii sports this game can be played in single player mode, and there are more games on offer than in the original wii sports. In my opinion sports resort offers more enjoyment for a single player, than wii sports. It includes a variety of games that become increasingly more difficult as you progress, challenging different opponent at each stage. The many games on offer, twelve in total which include, sword fighting, archery, Canoeing, Cycling,frisbee golf and basketball. My personal favourite is table tennis, which becomes very challenging and ...

Twelve Angry Men (DVD) 28/10/2009

Twelve Angry men- A classic

Twelve Angry Men (DVD) This classic 1957 film starring Henry Fonda, has to be one of my favourite films, and one that I respect very highly for several reasons. Firstly it is a sign of masterful film making and directing by Sidney Lumet that such an engrossing, suspenseful and excellent film can be produced when, with a couple of exceptions, every scene is filmed in one single room. The plot in itself is highly simple, not complex or difficult to follow. The film revolves around a young boy who is on trial for murder, and the story focuses on a jury deciding on the boy's fate. At the outset the jury seem pretty decided on a guilty verdict, all except for one man (played by Henry Fonda) who votes not guilty. Throughout the film he slowly shows the holes in the prosecutions arguments, and highlights the prejudices and preconceptions of the jury men. Slowly and brilliantly others begin to change their minds also. It sounds rather dull when explained in this fashion, but this is far from being the case. It is the interactions between the characters that is so engrossing and flawlessly done. It also highlights how prejudiced we can all be and how we can so quickly judge and dismiss people without really considering all that we know about a person or situation. The film is a testament to the great acting, script and staging that such a convincing film is produced.There are many actors in the film who were at the time unknown, as well as some more well known actors such as Henry Fonda and Lee J ...
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