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since 30/11/-0001


Dragons Den 21/07/2008

Here Be Dragonse

Dragons Den I was going to start off with a load of Olde English, but forsooth and forswain, I can't keep that up for long. Let me just take a bite out of this turkey leg, toss it to the hounds, then we can get started. You must know this show by now, and if not, it's basically televised panhandling in a trendy London warehouse in front of five investors who all look like they've entered the finals of the lemon-sucking contest. The premise is - various members of the public take an invention, a product or an investable idea up a narrow flight of stairs and plonk it down in front of a panel of rich "dragons". Said people then try to get the dragons to give them money so they can launch their product or idea. Past highlights include a man who had a special machine that made shoes not smell of cheese, a woman who invented an inflatable banana protector, and Levi bloody Roots, who clawed his way back from music limbo with a tasty condiment in his grip. Why dragons? Well, who knows. Most dragons in mythology used to flap about eating people and getting stabbed by knights, rather than wearing suits and glaring. These mock-lizards vary from season to season, but invariably include a load of smug gits with roughly the same amount of sense than they have money. They are completely interchangeable, even though there are stalwarts like Duncan "I never invest in anything" Bannatyne or Peter "Unreadable" Jones. The formula remains the same - they talk at the contestants until they either ...

Fahrenheit (XBOX) 19/10/2005


Fahrenheit (XBOX) People will mither and moan about the oddest things. As videogame technology has improved over the years, so have the imaginations of game developers. Some folks see this as A Bad Thing, detracting from the pure videogaming experience that 2-D classics offered a few decades ago. Asteroids…Pac-Man…they all had simple, compelling game play that has ensured their longevity - Mrs Pepper even has Pac-Man on her mobile phone, by crimeny! The point is, new technology gives us the opportunity to get creative with the medium. So says David Cage and his latest attempt to push the boundaries - Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in the USA). Fahrenheit is less of a game, more of a gentle reminder of how adventure games used to be (think Beneath A Steel Sky, Grim Fandango and the like) mixed with a few new elements. It's been dubbed a "player-directed movie" by some - in truth it's more like the aforementioned games titled mixed with WarioWare style sections, adding a dash of Daley Thompson's Decathlon style button-mashing. ***PLOTS AND SCHEMES*** Initially, the plot is intriguing. The main protagonist, Lukas Kane, has a kind of out-of-body experience, stabbing a complete stranger to death in the bathroom of a local diner. He comes to, knife in hand, and begins to freak out. The screen splits, "24" style, to show a policeman in the diner - who finishes his drink and walks to the bathroom. By this point, panic sets in, and you must try to find a way out of the jam. ...

Most Haunted 19/10/2005

Watch Me Ghoulies

Most Haunted Pointlessness. Pointless is...having designer spectacles - they're for HELPING YOU SEE. NOT HELPING YOU BE FASHIONABLE! I'm A Celebrity Burns Victim and the like...pointless! Trying to capture ghosts on film... pointless. Ah! Or is it? Well, not according to LivingTV (digital satellite channel 112) who dredged up an ex-Blue Peter presenter so they could film her in night-vision getting all teary-eyed in a Blair Witch stylee. Confused? Read on. ***THE CONCEPT*** Britain is, as everyone knows, jam-packed with haunted houses and spooky locales. You may have been to a hotel before and gotten all queasy walking upstairs, or experienced unexplained smells and lights that were *not* caused by a drunk robot weeing itself outside your window. This is para-normality for Yvette Fielding, the mouse-faced presenter of the show. Each week the rodent-like Ms Fielding leads a film crew (along with a few expert types for credibility's sake) to a haunted place in Britain with the express purpose of spending 24 hours in the hotel/ex-church/inn etc. to capture evidence of ghostly doings. ***THE "STARS"*** Well for one you have Yvette - she's a nervy soul with a penchant for screaming at the slightest noise - supernatural or otherwise. She also has something of a blue mouth when agitated, which can be very amusing when the worst she said was "gosh!" on Blue Peter when confronted with a pile of rock cakes. As the series continue (season 4 hits soon) she has become a ...

Balls of Steel 22/08/2005


Balls of Steel Imagine, if you will, a tropical paradise. An unspoiled vista, plentiful supplies of fish and fresh fruit with no mysterious giant monsters or French radio signals making you go crazy-mad. One day you decide it would be a good idea to kill all the fish by throwing all the fruit into the sea; then you carve "CHAVZ ROOL" into the mountains and soil yourself on the beach. That's basically what Balls of Steel does to the entertainment format. Balls of Steel is Channel 4's new - I baulk at using the term - comedy show. It sucks the fun out of pranks and Jackass-style tomfoolery by any means necessary. I hate Big Brother but this kind of tripe makes me pine for its return. The show is presented by a comedic non-entity whose best comedy lines are ones you have heard since TIME BEGAN. If a random duck walked by, he would describe this non-event as "quackers". In one episode, a man's trousers were revealed to have a secret flap at the rear to expose his bottom. "We'd like to thank Graham Norton for the trousers!" gawped the bespectacled berk. Format-wise, the programme is a disaster. Jackass and Dirty Sanchez work because the shows don't really have a format, besides the occasional glimpses into the characters of the protagonists. These segments serve to make them more human, and their antics all the funnier. BoS makes the mistake of formalising the prank, in much the same way as Game For A Laugh did in the 1980s. Every week, a random selection of performers chosen ...

Everything that starts with Q ... 08/06/2004

Questions, Qualms, Quibbles and Bits

Everything that starts with Q ... Another challenge – just filling the gap between my next proper review… Name: Ben What time is it: 23:33 in the p.m. The Fruits of Your Labor (things you can't live without): Dr Pepper – hypocritically enough, I am anti-corporation. But I don’t drink tea/coffee sop need something to make the brain function, and since they won’t let me eat magic mushrooms at work… Something important on your desk: Legs. It’d fall over without ‘em. When you sleep you wear: Nish all. If you could afford it at the moment, you would buy: a new PC. This one is all virusey and won’t run Grand Theft Auto: Vice City well enough for me to enjoy pummelling people with iron bars. Something you don't have a lot of: hair on my back. The day I become back hairy is the day I begin sleeping on sandpaper. If your house was burning and you could only save 3 items what would they be: my insurance documents, my dignity and…that’s it. Morals ************ If there were no side effects, you would enjoy being addicted to: Sex. My tallywhacker can only take so much! A time when you purposely hurt someone emotionally: Today! Someone at work I don’t like had printed off something, I accidentally picked it up and rather than hand it to him I chucked it away. He probably got a little annoyed and THAT hurts emotionally – if only for a moment. Don’t worry, karma will smite me later. A time you accidentally hurt someone emotionally: I’m sure it happens all the time. I don’t really like ...

Firefly - DVD 07/06/2004

In Space No One Can Hear A GORRAM THING!

Firefly - DVD Sci-fi shows are hardly spread wide-rife nowadays - and not without reason. Back in the 60’s everyone got all excited about some guy treading in space dirt and FWEEEEEP! the world’s imagination-flutes were blown into. In the 70’s, space movies/shows blew up because everyone liked seeing action that could reflect their dreams and fantasies. Good timing. And so we come to Firefly – cancelled after just one season despite being entertaining, funny, dramatic and touching. Why? Maybe people just thought spaceships were old and lame. Not me! ***THE PREMISE*** It’s the future – how can you tell? SPACESHIPS! For some reason – presumably using up Earth’s resources, people have settled on many other planets, eking out their existence in impoverished communities. Some planets have more civilised populations – and amongst them are those who wander the cosmos, making their living as best they can. 5 years after an unexplained war ends, Sgt Malcolm Reynolds purchases a ship - Serenity – and gets together a ragtag bunch of comrades to help him make money however they can – usually through a mixture of theft and sporadic violence. There’s cute as a button mechanic Kaylee, the ‘tough guy’ Jayne, eccentric/brilliant pilot Wash and his tough/beautiful wife Zoe, plus ‘companion’ (read: high class prostitute) Inara whose shuttle is used to – entertain. The crew have taken on board three passengers who take up residence out of necessity – cleric Book (or as the show calls him, ...

Everything that starts with M ... 06/06/2004

My Eyes Glaze Over - The Film Is Clear

Everything that starts with M ... Well now, seeing as I’m in a reflective mood I thought I’d give Zoe’s challenge a whirl, and get all introspective about the movies that matter to me. And some of the ones that don’t. Yeeup! ---What is your favourite film and why?--- Aaaaand I hit my first stumbling block. I don’t really have a FAVOURITE per se, so I guess I will have to go with the movie I know I can watch and re-watch without ever becoming bored of the plot, tired of the jokes, critical of the acting etc. Okay, it has to be The Producers. I’m not even going to bother trying to intellectualise it – it’s just funny. Every single time. ---Who is your favourite director?--- Dario Argento, for somehow managing to shape nightmares into film imagery. He may repeat himself and overuse certain motifs, but the man knows scary. The fact that he is internationally recognised but has never gone to “the dark side” (i.e. Hollywoodland) to compromise his vision gives him huge brownie points. Also, he appears to be barking mad – and us nutters have got to look out for one another. David Lynch comes second. Fnar fnar. ---Who would you want to play you in a film of your life?--- Chris Morris from Brass Eye/The Day Today “fame”. Appears normal but has a surreal side waiting to burst forth at any opportune moment. If Morris was wet - Kiefer Sutherland would do. ---Who’s your favourite Actor/tress?--- I’m going to be boring again and say I don’t have one. Because it’s true – I just don’t think ...

Alien Terminator (2004) 04/06/2004

So Nero And Yet So Blah

Alien Terminator (2004) There are certain factors involved in the production of a B-movie. You automatically gain B-movie points if you meet any of the following criteria: o A character says “here they/it come/s!” whilst the rest of the on-screen actors turn and gawp o Unrealistic blood o Hardly any music – and any that features is sub-par o Regurgitated plot/characters from other movies o Give George Kennedy a role Of course, there are lots of other ways to become a B-movie. AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, Alien Terminator features most of the above – and a few new ones. Before I have at it, let’s clear something up – this was not released in 2004, but Ciao have decided to say it was. The back of my video (£2 from the local video shop’s Bargain Bin!) says 1989. Just in case you feel like trying to track a copy of this down… ***THE PLOT*** Somewhere in some country (I’m really not sure where – geographically challenged y’see), moustachioed actor Franco Nero is a globetrotting Bill Bryson type, but with more eyeshadow. I have forgotten his character’s name due to non-attention paying. Anyways, you can tell Franco leads an exciting life because a mysterious woman comes into his room, and pulls an antique knife out from between her bosoms. This Aztec artefact sparks the facial-haired halfwit into action – and seeing as he’s months behind his publishing deadline, this new story could pull him out of his Pernod-drinking doldrums. Sadly, his boss doesn’t think so, and sends him a one-way ...

Freddy vs Jason 03/06/2004


Freddy vs Jason Just because you don’t know about something, does not mean that it doesn’t exist. What a philosophical minefield! Who would have thought you could apply such a concept to a slasher movie? But Wes Craven did in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. He held that the villain of his piece depended on children’s belief in him so he could exist. Hence, if you did not want to be carved from gizzard to gullet you just had to ignore him. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Jason Voorhees. The infamous hockey-mask wearing killer from the Friday the 13th series, he seems to have a preternatural ability to sense mischievous teenagers being – mischievous (as hinted at in Jason X). He then finds and kills them. Simple. Not so simple is the fact that nothing seems to kill this guy – and no (decent) explanation has ever been dredged up for this. These two horror leg-ends are good enough in the attempts that have been made over the years to invigorative their franchise (New Nightmare was a fun precursor to the clever-clever Scream movies and Jason X was gleefully OTT). Still, in the spirit of Godzilla movies, some bright spark has decided to launch these western kaiju into a battle of the titans and so on…pass me the tie-in merchandise and shut the hell up. ***THE PLOT*** Nobody remembers Freddy, mainly because he is lame. For some reason he is incapable of getting to kids through their dreams and so invades the dreams of one Mr Jason Voorhees, who as usual is having a nap at ...

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (DVD) 02/06/2004

Oh, On It Goes...

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (DVD) There comes a time in everyone’s lives when they realise they aren’t enjoying things like they used to. I’d like to think that I’d held on to my innocence as long as I could, and will admit to giving myself over to the power of cinema on occasion. But it seems that all-encompassing love of anything the big screen offers is just not being experienced by the Pepper-brain any more. Which is a shame. In a nutshell, I think I’m getting too old for kids movies. Harry Potter in particular. The books are a different kettle of onions, because they require a certain amount of interaction between the writer’s and your own imagination. When a vision of something you had pictured one way turns out to be completely at odds with your perception, disappointment sets in fast. As I'm sure you know. Which brings me to the latest in the Harry Potter series. ***THE PLOT*** Harry is being picked on by his “muggle” relatives. He goes back to Hogwarts. He encounters a threat. He ropes in his friends and uses some of the more pertinent lessons he has been taught through the year to help defeat said threat. In doing do he uncovers more of his past. End credits. ***HO-HUM POCUS*** Okay, so there isn’t really that much to the plot – which leaves it up to the characters and the design to create the interest. Harry just isn’t enough of anything to be a hero – he just sort of stumbles through the plot as in the other stories, discovering things through coincidence or dumb ...

Wrong Turn (DVD) 31/05/2004

Them Boys Is Backwoods

Wrong Turn (DVD) ONLY YOU know that messing with people on their own property is not a clever thing. ONLY YOU know that woods are scary places. ONLY YOU can prevent getting yourself killed by savage mountain men. Let The Institute of Gory Movie Hazard Pointing Out and their mascot Pepper Bear guide you through the do’s and do not do’s of woodsmanship. #1 KNOW WHAT’S AHEAD Consider the example set out by the informative movie “Wrong Turn”. A doctor is on his way to an appointment when his way is blocked by a traffic snarl-up. He decides to try another way around – and makes a…WRONG TURN! Whilst travelling down a stretch of country lane, he accidentally crashes into another vehicle, which has also made a…WRONG TURN! Their tyres have been punctured by some seemingly misplaced razor wire. The good doctor teams up with the 5 folks who were travelling in said vehicle, and they go looking for assistance. Of course, seeing as they have made a….yup…they do not find help. They find a shack full of suspiciously sharp items and human remains. Soon a band of mutated, backwater freaks are hunting them down. Pepper Bear says: If these young ‘uns had remained on the proper, signposted routes recommended by the fair country of America, then they would not have encountered any peril. But we would also have been denied an enjoyably old-fashioned movie based around their attempts at survival. #2 KNOW YOUR FRIENDS Now, when you embark on any kind of trip, you want to be certain the people ...

The Osbournes 25/05/2004

The Ozzman Boreth

The Osbournes Bane of my god damn life, reality TV. It’s like a perverted old man sticking his part through a hole in a toilet wall. Only occasionally will his old chap be met by the warm inviting lips of entertaining television (Big Brother season 1 / The Mole). For the most part, he will be slapped across the privates with the steel ruler of disappointment and irritation (I’m A Celebrity…Fame Academy). The Osbournes is a middle ground kinda show. It has its moments, but it has a distinct lack of them too. Well, that’s the end of my review – bye! What? Oh, okay, you can have a little more. But just because it’s you and you wear your hair so well. ***THE PREMISE*** Simple really – a bunch of cameras follow the daily lives of an Anglo-American family. Namely the family of British rock star Ozzy Osbourne. He lives in a sprawling house with his wife Sharon, and children Jack, Amy and Kelly (Amy opted out of appearing in the show). Also living in the house are a menagerie of troublesome dogs, a few cats and a select bunch of outcasts and (presumably) assistants. ***BARK AT THE STRUCTURE*** This being an MTV show (what else is there on MTV nowadays? Music? Don’t make me giraffe!), there is no room for anything but rapid cuts and scenes with “amusing” musical cues over the top of dialogue or montages. Not taking the route of – oh, I don’t know – downplaying emotional moments for the sake of respect really grates on me. As an example, you may be aware that Ozzy ...

The Warriors (DVD) 24/05/2004

Run Jump Kick Stab Punch

The Warriors (DVD) Sounds like the instructions for a level of Parappa The Rapper (topical…) don’t it? Well, yes and no. Mainly no. It mainly sums up the survival ethos of the gangs of 70’s street gangs, or so the makers of this movie would have you believe. It’s the inspiration for the promo video of D12’s ‘Fight Music’. I have a t-shirt with the logo on. So I thought it was about time I bought the bloody movie to see what all the cultish fuss was about. (By the way - £3 on eBay. Ker-ching! The till of bargainicity rings for moi!) ***THE PLOT*** Noo Yawk is home to many a gang – and each of them sends 9 representatives to a meeting upstate. Why? Well, seems some well-respected gang leader is plotting something. That gang leader is the biggest cheese in the street gang fromagerie – um, I mean world – Cyrus. You know he means business because he wears a robe and shouts a lot. Anyhoo, Cyrus has a dream. He wants all the gangs in Noo Yawk to merge into one big gang so no one can stop them. All seems peachy (well, mebbe not for the cops) until a movie prop goes off under Cyrus’ fetching robe, signifying his death by bullet entry. Yes, he has become worm food. The perpetrator of this confusing act blames the whole shebang on the titular squad, who must make the hour’s train journey back to Coney Island before they get their heads staved in by the 100,000 other gangbangers who think they were responsible for the naughty gun firing. ***VESTY-MULES*** The whole thing at the ...

Final Destination 2 (DVD) 22/05/2004

Come In Number 2 Your Time Is Up

Final Destination 2 (DVD) Some things are simply unavoidable. Pressing your tongue against the inside of your mouth to feel out the cause of a sharp pain in your gums. Your ear getting warm after speaking on the phone for too long. And – sequels. It sounds wacky but even Gladiator is being mooted for a second coming. The Hollywood rule of thumb being; if it makes a profit, make another. Hence, you get stinkers like the woeful The Mummy Returns, or Scarface 2 – Tony Lives! But occasionally you get a nugget of goodness like Gremlins 2: The New Batch – or this second outing for the wacky adventures of fate. ***THE PLOT*** A series of characters travel along a highway, amongst them is College Girl (I don’t always remember character names – deal with it!). She seems to keep witnessing fatality-related ‘signs’ as she drives – a small boy in a passing car smiles and crashes two toy vehicles together in his hands…”Highway To Hell” plays on the radio…and there follows a violent accident, which kills around 10 individuals. The twist is – this never happened. The College Girl merely envisioned it, and manages to evade death, along with a select bunch of underwritten stragglers. All this exactly one year after the events in ‘Final Destination’, which involved the passengers of airplane flight 180 dodging death - and then trying to stay alive by predicting the pattern in which they would have died. Both movies then follow the same plot – can the people destined to die avoid an untimely death? Most ...

Ghost Ship (DVD) 21/05/2004

Ship Of Pools - OF BLOOD!

Ghost Ship (DVD) Titanic has a lot to answer for. Celine Dion’s heartless warbling. That much-aped “flying” scene. Cameron’s Simpsons-rip-off Oscar speech. Most of all, it has assisted in the creation of many a water-based movie, thanks to the construction of its huge watery set. I’m unsure if Ghost Ship used this wet-o-rama, but if they did, I’m resting part of the blame firmly on the hairy shoulders of the aforementioned bearded one. Well, I can’t make a lot of unfair blame-stabs, so let me aim my dagger at the true culprits – Dark Castle Entertainment. Yes folks, the people what brung you The House On Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts just don’t learn. Or maybe it’s chumps like me who don’t learn – seeing as I always think, “well…it can’t be as bad as the last one…” Before you go any further, gentle reader, I must disclaim myself by stating that I get a bit graphic later in this opinion, so if mine words could offend thee, get the pluck out. ***THE PLOT*** Something years ago (probably 40, I can’t recall), a plot device lead to the deaths of lots of passengers aboard ocean liner ‘The Antiona Graza’. Now, something years later, a crew of hot-headed marine salvage agents are offered the chance by Mr Obvious Bad Guy to located and – yes! – salvage the old boat. Ship. Whatever. WHO COULD HAVE IMAGINED, that when they board the wrecked vessel, spookiness ensues? It now boils down to who out of the nondescript characters will survive – and can the feisty heroine POSSIBLY come away ...
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