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since 05/04/2001


Terminator 09/01/2005

He’ll be back - and he was

Terminator IMDB (The Internet Movie Database – is always bloody good for info on films, even more so than the rather garish, but nevertheless very helpful, Rotten Tomatoes website, so I usually consult those guys when I’m trying to find out about a movie. If nothing else, they carry a nice line in movie taglines. There’s no change here, either, so get this … “In the Year of Darkness, 2029, the rulers of this planet devised the ultimate plan. They would reshape the Future by changing the Past. The plan required something that felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable. They created 'THE TERMINATOR' … The thing that won't die, in the nightmare that won't end … Your future is in his hands.” Chilling stuff, to be sure, and Arnie’s phenomenal success with The Terminator when it exploded like a … well, explosion, I suppose, was very easy to understand. The Terminator contained all the key ingredients for a smash blockbuster when it came to us in 1984 (errrk, 21 years ago, you old fogies, difficult to believe, I know) … a massive star (Schwarzenegger), a doomsday scenario (a future fight to the finish between Mankind and Machines), an intriguing premise (both sides in the future conflict send their champion back through time to protect/destroy the saviour of the human race with all the paradoxical “What happens if we change history?” academic mysteries), pretty snazzy special effects (Herr S’s gradual physical degradation and his splendidly scorched barnet ...

Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi 08/01/2005

Not so much sci fi as high farce

Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi Star Wars had been an unbelievably huge smash hit movie when it came out in 1977 – it enjoyed the same sort of popularity through return to basics that Raiders of the Lost Ark enjoyed when Harrison Ford’s later cycle of movies relaunched the action adventure genre. George Lucas’ Star Wars did exactly the same, much earlier, for science fiction, and launched Ford onto the world. Star Wars, though, was an even bigger phenomenon, sparking off crappy cult hysteria about the ‘religion’ of the Jedi. Such laughable Star Trek-itis always gave me the heebie jeebies, but there’s no denying the fact that Star Wars was one hell of a great film. Its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), managed the rare trick of at least living up to its predecessor, and had lots of highlights of its own, but, by the time of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, the magic had gone. Lucas had little choice but to finish off the first of his sci-fi cycles because he’s left things trailing at the end of Empire, because he was a bit of an anorak who had to finish what he’d started, and because there was simply too much money to be made. In my view, however, he should have just left it at that, because Return of the Jedi is a poor shadow of the first too movies. True enough, it doesn’t plumb the asinine depths of his later Episodes 1 and 2 (but then what could?), but it does leave a pretty bitter taste after the heights of his first two episodes (later repackaged as Episodes IV and V – please don’t ask, I ...

Little Britain 13/12/2004


Little Britain Matt Lucas and David Walliams have recently come to the offer as the latest cult comedy super heroes with the coming of their Little Britain radio series first to BBC Three, then BBC Two and finally prime time BBC One on a Friday night. It’s easy to see why as well, with their surreal blend of the mundane, the ridiculous and the sharply satirical all linked together by the plummy voiceovers of the splendid Tom Baker ("Britain. Britain. Britain. Population one millions. Number of towns 11. Average height 30. Shoesize. But just who are Britain? Over the next twenteen weeks, we aim to find out - by following the lives of ordinary British folk. What do they? Who is them? And why?"). And best of all, Little Britain is just plain out and out funny, although it weaves the laughs in and out of pathos and melodrama, and leaves you actually feeling a little sorry for the main protagonists. They’ve just completed their second series, with six shows this time rather than the eight of the first series a year ago, and have moved avowedly much closer to the knuckle, with the disgusting, aged, balding, obese Bubbles De Vere the most appalling piece of humanity which they have yet provided us with. If you’ve not happened across Little Britain, then none of this will mean that much to you, and this could all strike you as so much Emperors New Clothes … it’s certainly achieved enormous acceptance with the chattering classes of late. Lucas and Walliams take a very serious and sincere ...

Spider-Man (DVD) 12/12/2004

A boy, his mask and his cardie

Spider-Man (DVD) The superhero movie thang has been a bit overbearing of late … you know what I mean, a bunch of guys in tights (or black rubber in cinemaworld) running round doing their superbusiness, eating their superburgers and going to their supertoilets … turn around and you’ve got the latest weirdo crawling out from under a stone and putting the world to rights. The first Batman movie was one of the first (if you leave aside Superman, which feels like it belongs to a different age), and probably also the best, and many of these films fade into a relative sameness … they’re all enormous fun, of course, and eminently watchable, but they are pretty formulaic after all … no real problem with that, of course, if it represents good entertainment, but there’s no denying it… The Spider-Man movie (why on earth make with that damned annoying hyphen, which seems to have come from nowhere) has a little bit more going for it, much as did the Marvel comic book of the same name, with its emphasis on the troubled real life of the hero’s alter ego, poor bespectacled Peter Parker, a put upon academic trying to make his way in the world and bringing doom and destruction to all who love him. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY, and all that … Born in the hours of the death of his Uncle Ben, and blaming himself for not stopping the killer, Spiderman (I’ll stick to the traditional Marvel version without the dash thanks) is a dark avenger on a mission to repay his debt. It makes for an ...

Incredibles, The (2004) 11/12/2004

Back in jeopardy again

Incredibles, The (2004) “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again…” So saith Mr Incredible, the main character in The Incredibles, the most hyped film of the year … true enough, it’s been hype of a fairly low kind, an almost cultish drooling hype which is intended to just entice you into its loving embrace, just long enough until it can get a good hard grip of you so that you can’t get away and smother you with its SUPER kisses… It’s a phenomenally attractive promise of hedonism and joy, supremely self deprecating, lightly watchable and darkly funny … sporting the vocal talents of Holly Hunter and Samuel L Jackson, although it’s the relatively unknown Craig T Nelson who provides the voice for Mr Incredible … you know, however, that the voices aren’t the key thing on such films (even though Pixar always strives for the big names), they soon fade into the background if the material is good and what such a film is about is the marvellous animation, the action, the story and the sheer damned thrill of it all. Like Toy Story and Monsters Inc before it, The Incredibles is an enormously enjoyable piece of work, nothing too demanding, but endlessly amusing … it doesn’t live up to anywhere near the level of hype that you’re going to be inflicted with, but it’s a bloody good movie, and well worth checking out. Pixar always goes in for the most supreme and revolutionary animation that you could possibly imagine … do you remember exactly how ... 03/11/2004

They’re my mates I get loads of advice through work regarding technology and the best place to go for kit, so normally I’m fairly well advised about what to do when I’ve got a need. Now Mr Technical Advice Guru recently dropped it to me that most decent IT professionals these days are choosing to patronise the very delightful stores at Scan, whom you can locate via their excellent website at - it’s functional and effective with little flash about it, but it certainly shows off the Scan organisation’s wares to great effect, and boy do they have a lot. The real attraction of Scan is the delightful combination of high quality, enormous range and excellent prices. True enough, you will need to fork out for delivery, and that can be quite extortionate, and purchase depends on whether it’s in stock or not, but in my case, I’m within easy driving distance of the Scan warehouse, which is in the shadow of Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium, so I can afford to go over and just pick the stuff up direct, which is pretty good, so I’ve got no complaints. I also have to say that it’s a pretty low price to pay for the wonderful service offered by the nice guys at Scan In terms of product offerings, the Scan website offers loads of goodies, with a large banner of top level items at the top of the home page thus: Backup – Barcode – Bluetooth – Cables – Cameras – Cases – CDR/CDRW – Coolers CPU – DAB radio – DVD/DVD-RW – DVD Players – Flash Memory – Floppy/zip – Graphics cards – ...

The Tuxedo (DVD) 31/07/2004


The Tuxedo (DVD) Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt … superspy spoof … all manner of groovy gadgets … fun time had by all … lots of jokes and skits and good time … smart family entertainment … it’s a Mini adventure… Now, I could just leave it there because that about says it all about The Tuxedo, but where on earth would be the pleasure and the challenge, even if it is succinct and to the point? I’ll give you more… The Tuxedo is a light hearted comedy adventure from the Dreamworks stable which was released in 2002, featuring Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jason Isaacs with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown in a neat cameo as himself. Chan plays Jimmy Tong, who is hired as a chauffeur for Clark Devlin (Isaacs) a super smooth spy and has to take over from him when he’s indisposed after an attempted bombing. All of Devlin’s abilities, knowledge and skills are actually the direct product of his marvellous tuxedo, which is packed with supreme gadgets. As soon as Tong dons it, he is rendered a gifted spy with all sorts of hilarious results!!! (The exclamation marks signify that this is a hilarious yuk a minute farce which will keep you amused for hours … well, they do in the world and mind of director Kevin Donovan and writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi … unfortunately in the world we mere mortals inhabit, it’s actually a yuck a minute disaster which might appeal to six-year-olds but will do little to keep anyone more sophisticated even slightly distracted.) The Tuxedo is ... 31/07/2004

I like BLOGGING, yes I like to BLOG… I like BLOGGING, yes I like to BLOG… (Replace BLOG with TRUCK, and you can find the original as a joke song from Not the Nine O’Clock News, trivia fans…) When writing about BLOGGER, it’s inevitable that you will kick off the review with a pathetic pun, because it’s just TOO tempting to weigh in with the standard one liner, so please excuse me for my own little lapse in taste as a starter for 10… BLOG – type in define:blog in the Google search engine (there’s a little hint for you if you want the meaning of a word) and you get the response: “A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in cronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently.” The term is actually a slang name for a Weblog, or a journal maintained on the Internet, and believe me it can be intense fun maintaining a BLOG, although I wouldn’t bank on getting a load of hits to your daily diary because there’s undoubtedly a whole host of rubbish out there and 99.99999% of it is absolute junk. However, if you’re of a mind to share all your most valuable thoughts and personal insights with the entire world wide community who browse across cyberspace then blogging might be for you. If you are ...

Pentax Optio 550 29/07/2004


Pentax Optio 550 Forget having to trail down the high street any more with that Stone Age film cartridge, seeking to find some kind soul to take it away and develop your pix in a day or two if you’re lucky. The wonders of modern digital technology has rendered all that fiddling round and inconvenience a sad relic of an earlier age. When you can get a bright shiny new digital camera for less than 400 quid which gives simply wonderful results and requires no ongoing maintenance or expense other than the occasional sheet of photo paper and/or colour printer cartridge should you choose to turn it into a print (and why would you, when you can enjoy a far superior version on your computer or TV screen) then why on earth would you want to bother with the box brownie and Mr Truprint. No, my friends, the present and future is strictly digital and you simply have to get yourself a digital camera. And rest assured, you don’t HAVE to get a computer to enjoy the quality – many of this you can connect directly up to a printer to do your stuff. Anyway, enough of the generic advert for digital cameras – this review is about the Pentax Optio 550, so let’s get down to the detail. First, the price – Kelkoo via Ebuyer offers this beauty at £291.86 including £3.99 post and packing. Tesco online offers the same beast at a whopping £489, so please shop around for the best price, although Internet Cameras Direct - ...

Daredevil (DVD) 28/07/2004

Man without depth

Daredevil (DVD) Graceless, shapeless, badly clothed lumps of human flesh, wandering inanely up any high street the length and breadth of this sceptred isle … a far cry indeed from the male and female model, androgynous, flawless perfection of film, television and magazine … I was particularly struck by that horrific juxtaposition today as I sat in a shopping mall simply watching this disgusting world going by. Of course, the superhero film genre is just that little bit different … Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, the Hulk … why, all of them apart from Superman have human (or superhuman) flaws, even if it is merely split personality with a darker side, even if they still exhibit all the perfect beauty of the catwalk in visual and physical attributes … Daredevil is slightly different, because although Ben Affleck is as wonderfully gorgeous as all the rest of his kind, his character suffers one extraordinary failing in that he is blind. As with all these things, however, there is some significant compensation, and our Ben, when he was involved in the car accident which took away his visual senses, found all of his other faculties wonderfully improved, such that they more than make up for the fact that he can no longer see … I mean, when it’s raining, Ben’s senses allow him to detect the drops of rain on the face in front of him and create a sort of sonar picture … what a lucky chap. Lippy preamble over … Daredevil is one in a long line of films based on American comic book super ...

Canon Digital IXUS I 07/07/2004


Canon Digital IXUS I Amazingly, for such a decent digital camera, the Canon Digital Ixus 400 is offered for sale at Amazon at less than £250 according to Google, although when you click the link, the Amazon says disappointingly, “This item is not in stock or has been discontinued”, although it goes on to offer new and used versions at just £220. I daresay that all that will soon change, however. Kelkoo suggests prices in excess of 300 notes, unfortunately. Best advice is to shop around. Also known as the Powershot S400, the Ixus is a compact, 4 megapixel digital camera, finished in the obligatory, ultra modern silver, sporting a zoom lens which offers three times optical zoom, although Canon’s own site maintains that the zoom goes right up to 11 times (Hmmm…). Featuring in the not quite ultra-budget end of the digital camera market, the Ixus is a decent bit of kit with an awful lot going for it, feeling reassuringly chunky, solid and robust, although it is nice and small (see picture at Canon boast that the body comes with a Super Hard Cerabrite case, which is substantially more damage resistant than most other cameras. It also offers the neat touch of being able to shoot short videos with sound, although if you really want such things then you’d be better getting a proper DV camera. Being jack of all trades can often mean you’re master of none, but the Ixus is a decent, value for money digital camera which does its core job ...

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (DVD) 06/07/2004

Moody masterpiece

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (DVD) J K Rowling certainly was on to a very good thing indeed when she came up with the idea of a young trainee wizard making his way in the world in the modern day. Since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the latter half of the 1990’s the Potter brand has become one of the biggest phenomena of the modern day, with its unique blending of the sorts of stories which Enid Blyton made famous with a substantial splash of today’s sophistication. Five books have now been written about the teenage wizard with more to follow, and we’re now onto the third movie in the franchise, with the exceedingly wonderful Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The book of the title saw Rowling stretching and expanding her theme, with a look into the horrors of Azkaban Prison and the appearance of a character from the past of Harry and his parents, the mysterious Sirius Black. There was a new depth and darkness with the third episode in the series, with the book easily outstepping its two predecessors and the film version likewise breaks new ground, with a change of director and an altogether more sinister staging. It feels like an authentic film noir, and there are several cinematic tricks used to create some gorgeously bleak atmospheres and scenarios. There’s a tension and monochromatic feel to this modern day epic which sees the Potter world move on in leaps and bounds from the technicolour and vaguely immature world painted in the first two movies. HPATPOA enjoys ...

Canon EOS 10D 05/07/2004

SNOB value and BIG bucks

Canon EOS 10D Now this is one serious bit of photography kit, a veritable Rolls Royce of digital cameras. PC Pro, in a general article on the Cannon range in March 2003, said: “For the more serious amateur and professional photographers, Canon has also released the £1275 EOS 10D, which succeeds the EOS D60. A 6.4 million pixel digital SLR with a seven point wide area autofocus system, it is the first digital SLR camera to feature Direct Print capability. It can save images simultaneously in both RAW and JPEG formats, with a choice of six JPEG file sizes. It covers ISO 100-1600, adheres to the Adobe RGB Colour Space standard and can support large capacity Compact Flash memory cards of over 2Gb storage size.” I don’t know about you, but very little of that flash techie nonsense actually makes an awful lot of sense to me, so it’s as well to stick to the knitting of layman speak. First of all, price … A quick look around the Kelkoo site, demonstrates that the EOS 10D varies in price between £929 at right up to £1,224 at, and that pricing range shows what sort of mark up the suppliers and distributors put on these beauties, but I guess if you can afford a grand for a digital camera, then a couple of hundred either way won’t make that much of a difference. Still, why should you pay £300 more for no great benefit? The EOS 10D is worth every penny of whatever you pay for it (!!) because it’s the sort of machine where quality is everything. It’s a big, chunky, ...

The Jam 03/07/2004


The Jam Punk imperative number one: never admit you like a melody Punk imperative number two: never admit you can play Punk imperative number three: use safety pins and tears Now if that was the case how the hell did Paul Weller and the Jam become darlings of the new wave, because that was certainly what they were back in the late 1970s. Weller, Foxton and Buckler flew madly in the face of the accepted wisdom of the time with their nice haircuts, smart clothes and fiendishly clever reworkings of songs by the Beatles and particularly the Who. It was odd that they were always accused of being Who copyists, and it was always too easy to trace the similarities between Weller and Townshend, because the Rickenbackers, the mod stylings, the manic live gigs and the whirlwind guitar playing always call to mind the Tommy boys. However, listen to the music, at least after the first album, In The City, with its shallow touch of mod style, and it is more the memory of Lennon and McCartney than that of Daltrey and Moon that fills your mind. God, they even lifted Taxman by George Harrison for one of their major hit singles. It was, I suppose, when they got onto All Mod Cons when they really went for it with their homage to Mersey beat and finally left behind mod music, and those were dreamy days indeed. The Jam were always about Paul Weller, not the other two faceless nonentities who failed on his divine coattails to find their way onto Top of the Pops. He wrote all the songs, well ...

Portugal 27/06/2004

Joy v Gloom

Portugal And now the inquests begin, while the cheerful and affable hosts of Euro 2004 go sailing on into the last four, convinced that this is going to be their year… I’ll come back to a dissection of an insipid England performance shortly, but firstly this section is about the Portuguese and pride of place must go to them, so here goes. In the run up to the Portugal v England quarter final clash, we had all the normal tub thumping faux optimism which always surrounds England’s assaults on major competitions … on a man for man basis THEY said, England were superior throughout the side, and that we MUST start as favourites. Portugal were a bunch of fancy dans with a soft centre, who flattered to deceive, who had little punch in front of goal. Well eat those words, xenophobes, for this Portugal side does have resolve and backbone, and a damned fine football team. They started off the tournament with Couto in defence, but quickly found him out and opted instead for their new young braves, turfing out the golden oldies and were much the better for it. Christiano Ronaldo seemed destined to be constantly a second half super sub despite some match winning performances, but this time he was in from the start to give Cole and Neville reason to be very UNcheerful. With the evergreen Luis Figo on the other flank there was every reason to believe we would see some classic confrontations, and so it proved, with Portugal emerging as by far the better side, even though it took the ...
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