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Product Reviews

74 (50% helpful)

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  1.  A prawn cracker!


    Blomkamp's darkly comic, intelligent satire is also hugely entertaining and contains a tour-de-force performance from the unknown lead Sharlto Copley. Although the allegory is thinly veiled, and the logic somewhat flawed, it still packs a significant punch. The movie deals with themes we're all familiar with but adds a freshness to the mix by placing a stranded alien race at the heart of the matter. There's lots of gore, lots of profanity, lots of energy, and lots of humour. And the message is thoughtfully constructed: the lead character's dramatic and poignant epiphany is all the more believable because of his conflicted viewpoint. It's also worth mentioning the effects, which are impressive given the apparently modest budget. Excellent and worthy of 4.5/5.

  2.  Wassup brah?


    Okay, I have to fess up and admit that I didn't realise this was written for a late teen audience, and that sadly I no longer fall into this target age range (I picked it up it simply because I'd been meaning to read a Doctorow novel for some time). So I can only express my views as an older reader.

    For the most part I agree with the sentiments expressed in this novel. I'm also something of a geek so the technology referenced in the text is familiar to me. I'm not sure, however, that I recognise the young adults who feature in the book. They're all a little too sassy and cool to ring true. I also had some difficulty believing their actions. But maybe these observations are age-related. Perhaps younger readers will connect with these kids. The story just about keeps the pages turning but it's all a bit underwhelming, and the technological explanations serve only to interrupt the narrative flow (but then again, maybe the didactic tone is commonplace in teen novels). There's nothing terribly wrong with this book but there's nothing exceptional about it either. All-in-all it's a solid but unremarkable read.

  3.  Death by reloading


    RE5 is a great game spoiled by atrocious controls. I mean the worst ever. These are the main problems: You can't move while reloading, aiming, or shooting; instead you become rooted to the spot and therefore hopelessly vulnerable to attack. When aiming the sight is often (although, oddly, not always) wrenched away from the point already centred so you have to find your target again. And you can't jump or crouch unless prompted. What the hell is that all about? Also the AI is pretty poor. Sheva gets in the way more often than not. The UI looks like something out of the 90s and is clunky to say the least. And you can't access the inventory during gameplay (although I understand the reasoning behind this it is frustrating at times). So what is there to like? Well it looks amazing. The graphics are among the best I've ever seen, with particularly impressive character models and animations. And, controls aside, the gameplay is enjoyable, with a good selection of environments, some pretty tough bosses, and a range of simple but enjoyable puzzles to solve. Ammo is often scarce so you have to be more thoughtful about your approach to the combat than in many games. Overall it's a top-flight game marred only but it's poorly designed controls and interface. Sadly these are so bad I can only give it 3 out of 5, which is a real shame.

  4.  Super furry aliens, innit?


    I've always enjoyed the humour of Joe Cornish and Adam Buxton, and so looked forward to watching this movie. To say I was disappointed would be an exaggeration but I wasn't bowled over either. The film isn't especially funny, and it certainly isn't scary, but it is charming and heart-warming (in a grisly sort of way). Cornish's love of Hollywood creature movies is evident and transposes nicely to the decidedly un-glamourous setting of a south London tower block. The largely unknown cast perform well and are utterly convincing (the patois is the funniest aspect of the film) and the low-budget effects mesh with the overall tone of the piece. It's fun but I can't help thinking it's an unfulfilled work. I'm sure Cornish will do better. 3.5/5.

  5.  No country for man and boy


    I'm a fan of McCarthy's but I found the novel on which this film is based a little disappointing. For me, it was a tad too distant for it to fully work. And so this is one of those very rare occasions where, for me at least, the film surpasses the novel. It's bleak stuff for sure, and it won't be to everyone's taste, but as a study of humanity and parenthood under the most extreme conditions imaginable it's a powerful piece of cinema. There's no plot to speak of, but that doesn't matter. The film is about people not events: A father and son clinging onto each other and onto life, as they search for hope in a destroyed world. The performances are convincing as is the recreation of a post-apocalyptic world. It's difficult to describe such material as enjoyable, but it is certainly engrossing and thought-provoking.

  6.  I ain't gonna bite, pro'ly


    I was concerned that I might not like BORDERLANDS, as I've played games with stylised graphics before and have found this type of design can reduce the immersive qualities that I love about gaming. I need not have worried. Borderlands is one of the best games I've played. The visuals are very impressive and suck you right in. This is open-world gaming at it's best, with many large maps to explore as you complete the numerous missions. There are hundreds of weapons to collect and use, or sell along the way (gathering loot quickly becomes addictive). A wide variety of enemies will take you on as you progress up the levels. The combat is varied and the AI is good if not exceptional. Although there's little story to speak of there's enough humour to just about make up for this. It's possible that some might find the missions a tad repetitive but I was so engrossed in the game that I didn't tire of them and completed every one, including the 3 DLCs available. As for multi-player, well co-op is great fun but best played with people who you can rely on to share the loot. 4.5/5

  7.  To boldly go again


    J. J. Abrams's reboot of the Star Trek franchise is great entertainment. It's a by-the-book blockbuster that ticks all the usual boxes but doesn't deliver anything unexpected or leave much of a lasting impression. But that's fine because that's what blockbusters are all about. It's a shame, however, that the storyline is a tad formulaic. The cast are uniformly good, and manage to portray the familiar characters convincingly. Overall it's a good, solid couple of hours of fun. 3.5/5.

  8.  Who let the simps out?


    About a year ago I heard a BBC Radio 4 adaptation of RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA. The two-part serial, which was actually produced in 2009, was gripping. So I decided to read the novel. I knew I had serious reservations about Clarke's work, but I couldn't remember exactly why. Well, I can now. Sadly, he wasn't much of a writer. Although first published in the early 1970s, I was reminded of SF from the 30s and 40s. The book is populated by boy's own adventure heroes who speak in primly succinct exposition, even in the most stressful of situations. And Clarke's prose is entirely bereft of either style or nuance. But I don't deny the influence he had on the SF genre, and I think where he excelled was in his scientific insight, rather than his writing prowess. And that's what works here: the daunting world that is Rama. In essence then, although much of the strangeness and awe present in the radio drama is diminished in the book by poor characterisation and bland prose, what we're left with still packs a sense of wonder and is worth reading for that alone.

  9.  Who needs Botox?


    There's a generally underwhelming tone to SURROGATES. Although far from being a bad movie it never really engages or realises its potential. It's a predictable slice of dystopian cop schlock lifted only by some neat set pieces and a nuanced performance from Rosamund Pike (as Willis's grief-stricken wife). There's the nugget of an interesting movie here but the concept of living through a surrogate isn't given the attention it deserves, and what we get instead is the usual action romp we've come to expect from Willis, who is, in fact, capable of more. Watchable but a missed opportunity.

  10.  Finally cooked in his own juices


    Another decade on and Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom is well into his middle-age. He's 56, overweight, and still living the American dream. He splits his time between the old home town in Pennsylvania and his condo in Florida. All should be well, but his cokehead son is running the family business into the ground and Harry is eating himself to death. As flawed and human as ever Harry is still struggling to balance his conflicting impulses. He's the product of an excessive USA, and consumes with gusto. His opinions are still modelled by the media and corporate American mores. Selfishness and lechery are still getting the better of him. And his health is suffering badly from his indulgences. But Harry is incapable of moderating his behaviour. He can't even resist his own uncertain daughter-in-law; with predictable consequences. And Rabbit is tired. He's swiftly wearing out. Finally he decides that maybe enough is enough. So long, Rabbit. I, for one, shall miss you.