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since 25/11/2005


Should world debt be forgiven? 17/01/2006

Forget the Debt?

Should world debt be forgiven? I've actually been thinking about this issue for some time and I still haven't made my choice yet. This rant of mine therefore doesn't intent to come to any real decision but instead should fill you in on what I believe to be the crucial issues that need to be looked at. Most third world debt is located in the continent of Africa which is where I am focusing my attention, although many areas of South America are also indebted to the major world powers (mostly Western Europe and the United States) --------------- --------------- ---------- What the Money is Spent On --------------- --------------- ---------- War: On of the major drains on a countries resources in war. Large proportions of money loaned to third world countries by the IMF and the World Bank have been squandered buying arms and paying soldiers to fight in what can only be considered pointless wars. For example the genocidal actions in Rwanda in 1994 were largely funded using money derived from loans. Corruption: It may seem stereotypical to consider African leaders corrupt, and I am in no way saying that they all are. However, many leaders of Africa's poorest countries are able to live in relative splendour while their compatriots lie dying of hunger. If African leaders use money to fund their dictatorships (it would be difficult to call them anything else) then should world powers wipe the debt and consequently just give them the money? However should the average person in such countries be ...

Blood Wake (Xbox) 16/01/2006

Blood Wake, the Game You'll Love to Hate

Blood Wake (Xbox) I bought this game about 3 or 4 years ago when the words 'Blood' and 'Wake' sounded pretty good, how naïve I was. This game was largely a big disappointment, and certainly not worth playing. You may ask, why are you righting a review about this game if its 4 years old, and my answer is as follows: with the release of the Xbox 360 old Xbox games will now start to flood places like eBay, and I thought you should be warned. To sum up the game in one sentence I would say the following. A mediocre game based around the idea of gun loaded speed boat blowing each other up. --------------- --- Good Points --------------- --- - Visuals - The visuals are pretty good. As you can image the game is about boats so there is a lot of water. Here the programmers have done their job, and they look good. However, the game has aged and the visuals are now nothing in comparison with newer games such as 'Halo 2' and 'Half Life 2'. The rest of the game appears rushed, and does not use nearly all of the Xbox's power. - Story - The in game story mode is good. It works well and is quite enthralling. The story it self follows Shao Kai (who you play) as he joins the Shadow Clan (a group of pirates in the South China Sea). The story follows Shao Kai as he battles for acceptance, honor and finally vengeance (against his brother, who killed his friends and tried to Shao). You are introduced to a multitude of characters including your crazy first mate. If only the programmers had spent ...

Airplane II - The Sequel (DVD) 13/01/2006

Not really about an airplane!!

Airplane II - The Sequel (DVD) Please know this review does reveal minor plot details If reading this, you may well be asking, 'why has this guy decided to review a film that was released before he was even born?' Well it's a good question, however, if you've ever seen the original air plane you may well understand. If you liked airplane then you're sure to love this film as it is filled with similar styled jokes and ideas. This is either really good if you loved the first film, or a complete travesty is you didn't. --- Plot --- The basic plot is that the Mayflower I is a passenger space shuttle attempting to make its first trip to the moon, once it has taken off, however, a computer glitch sends the shuttle heading straight towards the sun. Ted Striker (the main man of the story), played by Robert Hays, was the shuttles test pilot, and had realised that there was a problem when he flew it. The company, needing the shuttle, made striker out to be mad to prevent him testifying against the shuttle. Ted escapes from his mental hospital and makes it to shuttle only to find that his past love Elaine, played by Julie Hagerty, is a stewardess for the shuttle (he still loves her, she now loves the shuttle pilot). The plot essentially pans out exactly the same as the original, Ted is forced to pilot the plane single handedly, save the passenger and get back Elaine (again, obviously the relationship might not be working, having lost her in the time between the first and second movies). However he ...

I, Robot / Minority Report / Independence Day (DVD) 11/01/2006

Are You in the Mood for Sci Fi?

I, Robot / Minority Report / Independence Day (DVD) Normally I'm not a fan of box sets; I find that you normally end up with two really good films and then some sort of dud that nobody really wants. In this case though this is not true, all three of these films are great and would willingly watch all three in a row. I shall go from worst to best in the review. --- Minority Report --- - Plot - The plot is rather simple. Tom Cruise plays detective John Anderton who is framed for a murder he didn't commit, at least not yet. The twist to this story is that in this future (2054) murders are predicted by 3 'fortune tellers'. The plot follows the basic cat and mouse routine of films that pit one man against society. This film is reminiscent of 'The Fugitive' with a slight twist. Anderton has a dark past which is revealed throughout the story. Will Anderton manage to outwit the police of the pre-crime unit, will he be able to prove his innocence, and who are his true friends? Plot: 5/5 Originality: 4/5 - Characters and Performance - Tom Cruise plays our hero Detective Chief John Anderton, his performance is good and harks back to the days of Mission Impossible 1. Max von Sydow plays the Pre-Crime Director Lamar Burgess, Anderton's old mentor and the father figure of the story, a good performance of what appears at first to be a simple character. The supportive characters are rather small, but there performances are none the less well thought out and nicely done. The performances do not let down the film in ...

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (DVD) 02/01/2006

Robin Hood Prince of Films

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (DVD) Well this film has to be one of the best around. I apsolutely love this film and this new special edition really adds to the experience. Crammed full of special features I can watch this film over and over again. --- Brief Synopsis --- The story follows the traditional story of robin hood, which if you haven't heard it (where have you been if you haven't?) is as follows. Son of a rich nobleman (Robin of Locksley) returns from the third crusade where he has been fighting with Richard the Lion Heart. On his return he discovers that the evil brother prince John (later king john) aided by the sheriff of Nottingham has userpt the throne, he has also excommunicated Robin's father. Finding no friends in enlands nobility he is force to flee into Sherwood forest where he meets and joins a band of outlaws. He then wages a guerrilla war against the nobility giving what he gains to the poor. This film differs from many others as it follows historical 'truth' (although weather Robin Hood ever existed is still up for debate). Throughout the film Robin (played by Kevin Costner) attempts to win the heart of Lady Marian (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) while helping the outlaws reconstruct something of their shattered lives. He simultaneously must defeat the sheriff of Nottingham (played by Alan Rickman) who attempts to marry Lady Marian. --- Characters and Performances --- The performances in this film are spectacular. Costner gives a star performance that was to be ...

The 300 Spartans (DVD) 23/12/2005

A tale that echoes through the ages

The 300 Spartans (DVD) This film is an absolute masterpiece. It is based on a true story that took place in ancient Greece. An epic that was released in the 1960's (the age of the epic with Ben Hur and Spartacus) however was never as high grossing as the other two mentioned. I could watch this film over and over again, it is just amazing Note: This review does give away the ending (however as the story is two and a half thousand years old) --- Background --- The story is based around the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC. Thermopylae is a small pass in central Greece with the see on one side and high cliffs on the other (Thermopylae meaning 'hot gates' referring to the hot sulphur springs). To protect the Greeks from a possible Persian naval attack the Greek fleet was positioned off Artemision so as to command the straits of Thermopylae. Here the Greeks lead by the Spartan king Leonidas fought the Persians lead by their king Xerxes. The Persians vastly outnumbered the Greeks (contemporary records vary between 100,000 to 5 million men in the Persian army, with the Greeks having a maximum of 5,200 men). The Greeks were unable to provide more men because of the annual festival of Carnaie (also many Greek city states were unwilling to provide men as they had entered into a truce with Persia). However in this narrow pass man power was unimportant, instead the longer spears and better training of the Greeks and primarily the Spartans were to prove decisive. The battle took three days, and ...

Under Siege (DVD) 21/12/2005

Can a Battleship be put Under Siege?

Under Siege (DVD) I ended up buying this film from a bargain basket near the checkout at a store. I thought hey this should be worth a laugh. I really enjoyed the film, and if you liked Die Hard, then you will too (as many of the cat and mouse movies are similar). --- Brief Synopsis --- The USS Missouri, once the flag ship of the US Navy is due to be decommissioned after over 40 years of service (the Japanese signed their surrender on her deck in 1946). She has one more tour to carry out, to the port where she will be decommissioned. Travelling with a skeleton crew this was intended to be an easy shake down cruse. On board is Chef Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal) a former navy seal team captain. On a mission in Panama his team was almost completely decimated due to faulty intelligence, on his return he hit his commanding officer. This offence meant that he could only hold the rank of either yeoman or chef. On the Missouri he is Captain Adam's (Patrick O'Neal) private chef. Captain Adam's birthday is due to occur during this tour, and Ryback is intent of preparing a great meal for the captain. Commander Krill (Gary Busey), the ships first officer, has other plans. He's booked a band to fly in accompanied by a former Playboy centre fold Jordan Tate (played by the real Miss July 1989, Erika Eleniak). On arriving the band set up and Tate is give some travel sickness pills, she some what ODs on them and promptly falls asleep having climbed into the cake. Krill attempts clear all none ...

Star Trek 8 - First Contact (DVD) 20/12/2005

Perhaps today IS a good day to die!!

Star Trek 8 - First Contact (DVD) If you read my first attempt at this review, you would agree that it was shocking. This is a second and hopefully much better attempt and a review that will hopefully do this film justice. --- Brief Synopsis --- Picard and the whole crew from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series return. This time they are in the new and vastly improved Enterprise-E1 which just looks incredibly stylish. As the film begins we find that a Borg cube2 has entered federation3 space. A fleet is dispatched to protect earth; the Enterprise is not included though. However, when the battle begins it goes badly and the enterprise is sent it. Destroying the cube is only the beginning, as it explodes a small sphere is sent out and begins to travel back in time. The Enterprise follows the sphere and travels back to the mid 21st century just after the end of the 3rd World War. Once there they must help Zephram Cochrane launch the first warp ship4 while preventing the Borg (led by the Borg Queen) from taking over the enterprise. What ensues is classic sci-fi actions both ship-to-ship and hand-to-hand. The plot is both original and compelling. --- Characters and Performances --- The lead is as usual Captain Jean-Luc Picard played by Patrick Stewart. Having had 8 years to perfect this role, he unsurprisingly performs it amazingly. If anything his voice is enough to carry the entire film (fortunately the other performances mean it doesn't have to). Picard's right hand man is as ...

Total Recall (DVD) 19/12/2005

Total Recall Should be Totally Recalled

Total Recall (DVD) Have you ever been up really late at night and unable to sleep? Then you may well have seen this film (as the BBC seems to want to show this every couple of weeks). I am normally up until 2 in the morning so I've seen my fair share of late night movies, and this isn't the worst I've seen (Death Train has that honour). --- Brief Synopsis --- Arnie plays Quaid, a nice guy who works on a building site and is somewhat poor. In an attempt to 'get away from it all' he visits a company called Recall. Recall manipulates memories to make you believe you've had a holiday somewhere exotic. During the procedure they uncover hidden memories, and scared of what might happen they chuck him out on the street. Suddenly Quaid is immersed into a major power struggle on mars, being shot at from both sides. When he teams up with the mutants and his girlfriend from the past, Melina (Rachel Ticotin) he takes the fight to the boss of mars Cohaagen (Ronny Cox). A film filled with crazy twists as Quaid tries to work out what real and what's not, and whether he is really Quaid, or Cohaagen's right hand man Hauser. --- Characters and Performances --- Well as is often the case with movies of this calibre the performances are largely based around the central character. Arnie does what he does best, and I'm sorry to say that its not acting, it is instead more of the running and shooting. The film does well in the action sequences with Arnie leading well. However the performances simply ...

Die Hard (DVD) 16/12/2005

Yippy Kai Yay!!

Die Hard (DVD) Ok, I've just remade this review, as it was my first and probably my worst. My first review contained mostly irrelevant and not nearly enough information as many people told me, so here goes with attempt number 2. --- Brief Synopsis --- John McClane is a police officer from New York who flies into LA to spend Christmas with his wife and kids. On flying in he is picked up by a limo from the Nakatomi Corporation (who his wife works for). Due to his wife getting promoted she now lives out in LA, this has put a strain on the relationship, and this is compounded when he finds out that she is now using her maiden name. McClane arrives at Nakatomi Plaza (a 40 story skyscraper and the setting for the movie) during the Christmas party. Unfortunately for this family reunion his is quickly followed by a group of well armed European Terrorists/Bank Robbers headed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who are determined to get the $640 million in negotiable bearer bond held in the company safe. What ensues is mayhem with a classic (but in no way dull) cat and mouse chase. McClane slowly starts to take out the group one at a time. Not surprisingly this leads to a tremendous climax between McClane and Gruber which fortunately does not end as an anti-climax. --- Characters and Performances --- John McClane is the hero, he is a Lieutenant in the NYPD and simply becomes pissed off as the film goes on. Bruce plays this role really well, despite not being the first choice for the role ...

McVities Milk Chocolate Digestives 15/12/2005

Sweet Sweet Chocolate

McVities Milk Chocolate Digestives Ok, let me paint you a picture its cold its wet and I arrive home and I've not had a great day. On days like this I tend pig out on anything in the house, usually a couple of biscuits (by some I mean about half a pack but whose counting). I've gone through phases of which are the best biscuit for this specific purpose, and I have to say that these have got to be up there. Now if you on a 'diet' or you actually on a diet then you should probably stick away from these as they seem to have 8 million pounds of fat per square inch (only kidding that would be ridiculous, but there not exactly lean cuisine). Ok, I know what your thinking, its only a biscuit it can't be all that but hopefully my outline below will explain my feelings to you. --- Taste and Texture --- Not surprisingly they tend to taste of chocolate, but, it's a good creamy chocolate which melts in the mouth (or a hot drink if you like to dunk) to wondrous effect. They have the distinctive digestive taste, which if you're not a regular eater, tastes like a wheat mulch (but in a good way). When these two flavours combine they create a delicious mix of sweet and savoury, which won't leave you with a head ache. They have no really smell except that of a nice chocolate. They have a great crunchy texture which allows for a good crunch, however they're not crunchy enough to hurt you mouth. Some people think the biscuit is two dry, and occasionally it can be (I find it best to have these with a drink tea ...

Sergeant Bilko (DVD) 14/12/2005

Oh I Just Want to Be a Soldier

Sergeant Bilko (DVD) The other day I looked at my DVD collection and realised that is was rather comedy sparse (largely containing action and thriller films). So I went down to HMV in an attempt to bulk it up. I found this film in the 'bargains' section and I thought it was worth a laugh. I've seen loads of reruns of the old classic TV series and wasn't sure that this film would live up to my expectations. Fortunately I was proved very wrong, this film doesn't disappoint. If your looking for hard hitting, Oscar winning talent, then this is not a film for you, but if you don't mind a laugh then (If the films anything to go by) you should enrol in the US army. --- Background --- Set at Fort Baxter, a Research and Development base for the US army, Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko is a master sergeant in the motor pool. In reality this was a front for his other activities (gambling, loans, lotteries etc.). Aided by Sgts Henshaw and Barbella he runs everything in the base behind the back of the unwitting Colonel Hall. --- Brief Synopsis --- Sgt. Bilko's life seems perfect, he's got a great job (doing nothing), great fiancée Rita (Glenne Headly), and everything seems rosy. Everything changes when Major Thorn is sent in by the department of the Army to view a Prototype test (for a hover tank). It soon becomes obvious that Thorn and Bilko have history, and Thorn takes it on himself to ruin Bilko. Bilko seems to have the inability to actually marry his fiancée (a similar problem to that of Nathan ...

Speak for Yourself - Imogen Heap 13/12/2005

Heap Hipe?

Speak for Yourself - Imogen Heap I first came across this album while looking through my sister's music collection. I know, a little sad to look for music in a teenage girl's collection. However, what I came across was this stroke of genius. I have to say from the outset that I really like this album. If you like original sounding moderate rock with a pop twist then you would really enjoy this. --- Artist --- Originally born in Essex her career was started with classical piano training (which I believe has influenced parts of her music). After starting out as a solo artist she soon became part of the London based duo Frou Frou. In 1997 she again returned to her solo career signing with Almo Sounds. Her first album 'I megaphone' drew heavily from the works of Kate Bush and Annie Lennox and was met with mixed feelings. --- Album --- The album released in 2005 in an interesting mix of rock, pop and electro-pop which has the enticing qualities of a siren; however, as with many things I have found that you either love it or hate it (several of my friends have forced me to turn her music off). The album draws both on her classical back ground but also from her connections to the Eurhythmics (through one of her past producers). --- Songs --- 1. Headlock A song, heavily influenced electro-pop, which shows of the artist vocal and instrumental range. Often reminding me of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (theme tune to the exorcist), this has a strong beat and coarse texture. A feeling of intricacy ...

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach 11/12/2005

A book of ideas

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach I originally stumbled upon this book last summer. I arrived at the airport late, and after checking in realised that I had no book to read. Going into one of the book stores in Heathrow terminal three I discovered this book and took a shine to it immediately. I have found the book a witty and cheerful book, which has certainly given be some entertaining ideas about what to do afterwards. My first advice to you though, is that if you particularly dislike the ideas of death then this book is not for you, but if you want an unusually interesting read then this book may well be for you. This book covers the majority of ways to use a corpse (with the exception of the tradition and somewhat boring ideas of burial and cremation). It is well researched, and adds interesting tit bits from both ancient and modern history. --- Synopsis --- I think that the easiest way to explain this book (due to it being non-fiction) is to go through chapter by chapter: Chapter 1; A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste: This chapter is based around how dead bodies are used by surgeons to practice, especially for their recertification. The author primarily bases the chapter on her experiences with recertification of plastic surgeons using human heads. The author shows how some surgeons have huge difficulty with this, and how this is overcome. A well thought out and interesting chapter. Chapter 2; Crimes of Anatomy: As the title suggests this chapter covers the use of cadavers for ...

One Tree Hill - Series 1 (Box Set) (DVD) 09/12/2005

One Tree Hill, the new Dawson's Creek?

One Tree Hill - Series 1 (Box Set) (DVD) Well, the real question you need to ask is do you like teen trash? Yes, then you should read on. No, then stop now, save yourself 5 minutes. The basic story is, as usual, based around a Middle American high school. The main characters are based into 2 groups, the so called cool group based around Nathan Scott (the basket ball team captain) and the renegade group based around Lucas Scott (the rogue, who is the half brother of Nathan, and also happens to be a really good basket ball player). The season is basically all about how the two groups are force to combine, and the conflicts that ensues. Story: As I've said above, the story is quite weak, and not particularly original. The standard American high school, the standard social groups (the cool one, and the socially rejected one), and the standard motives to move together and of course become friends (I'll pause to let you throw up with the cliché). The are the inevitable ups and down that you would come to expect, and with the exception of the basketball element its just not great. Characters: Nathan Scott played by James Lafferty and Lucas Scott played by Chad Michael Murray are half brothers, with the same father; Dan Scott (the evil villain of the story). Lucas's mother is the good hearted and hard working single mum, Karen, who is a somewhat unusual heroine in the story. Nathan's mother (who married the boy's father) is rich and lets say, the less than ideal mother. There are also 3 main girls, who ...
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