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All reviews - Movies (108) - TV Shows (28) - DVDs (14) - Books (35) - Music (49) - Games (24)

Excellent songwriting and songcraft

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 3 June 2008 06:07 (A review of Narrow Stairs)

This is the first 'Death Cab for Cutie' album I've heard even though they've been popular for many years now. I heard 'I will possess your heart' on the Radio and decided to take the plunge, and I'm glad I did. The radio version of the song is actually edited to about half it's length and removes the awesome bass dominated instrumental intro to the song. It's the undisputed highlight of the album. The rest isn't shabby either. The album starts off strong and the first four songs are varied and brilliant. These guys have amazing song craft for an indie band. I guess they're not indie anymore since they're signed to a major label now.

The song writing is uniformly excellent. The slightly obsessive love song 'I will possess your heart' reminds me of the Police classic, 'Every breath you take'. 'No sunshine' is dark and bitter but set to peppy, swinging music. There's also the Springsteen style story-telling of 'Your New Twin Sized Bed'. The music is varied as well, highlighted by the use of Indian percussion instrument 'tabla' in 'Pity and fear'. It ends with the beautifully written 'The Ice Is Getting Thinner', an excellent song to round the album off.


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Endless Ocean review

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 2 June 2008 02:37 (A review of Endless Ocean)

I was led to believe that the game consists of meandering around the ocean aimlessly. To my surprise, it's actually more fun than that. As you dive, you discover newer fishes and newer areas of the ocean. It's the new areas that interest me the most. So far, I've come across a forest of huge corals, an underwater cave and a hundred foot deep trench. The music is very good and changes with the area you're diving into. I still have to dive at night and it's supposed to look rather different, can't wait to get into that.

There are also small 'missions' you can accept, like being a diving partner for some tourist, helping find fishes for an aquarium, take photos underwater etc. They keep thing varied.

People who want a conventional 'game' should probably keep away from this one. Other people (like me) who want an interesting experience, beautiful visuals and a good background score will like this 'game'.


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Shows the way but doesn't get there

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 1 June 2008 03:01 (A review of LostWinds)

Disclaimer: My opinion of the game might be tainted by my natural disinclination for playing RPGs.

The innovative gameplay is the highlight of this Wiiware game. The idea is simple - you control the power of the wind and it moves everything it touches. You move your character around and perform other tasks with the wind. You control the wind by waving the Wii remote around. The learning curve is almost flat, you're up and running within minutes. The game looks good for the most part, the Wii doesn't have mind blowing graphics anyway but the game looks pretty.

The problem is that the game gets tedious within a few hours of playing. I'm 4 or 5 hours in right now and I don't think I'll replay it once I'm done with the story the first time around. It might be because I don't like RPGs that much or maybe the game isn't the best around. Probably a combination of the two.

The only reason I'm even playing this is the innovative gameplay. This makes good use of the Wii's capabilities. I'm sure developers will be looking to re-create and even improve on this game. So it does show the way but doesn't completely deliver. The game does provide good value, since it's a cheap Wiiware download. So I don't mind just playing it once and being done with it.


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It's not a disaster

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 1 June 2008 02:49 (A review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)

That sums it up...

It's not a bad movie, it's mostly entertaining and the action sequences are pretty good (and Harrison Ford shows his age). Despite all that, everything feels like it's been re-cycled. After three movies, what do we expect? The plot is wafer-thin, but this is a George Lucas creation, what do we expect? Thankfully, he wasn't writing the screenplay or directing it. Spielberg ran out of steam some years ago but at least he can effectively use old ideas. Cate Blanchett is wasted, but again, what do we expect?

Clearly, my expectations were pretty low going in. Go watch it if you're a fan of the series and you should be satisfied. If you're wondering what the fuss is all about, maybe you should go check out 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and skip this one.


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I rarely play RPGs, but ...

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 27 May 2008 03:52 (A review of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga)

... this is *Lego* Star Wars, after all, and all six episodes of it too. So far I've played (and finished) Episode I. The game play is ... easy, even by my low standards and the focus is more on getting through the levels rather than the action. It's a lot of fun to play. When you mix Star Wars *and* Lego, how could it not be? The action is fun too, it's awesome to wave your light sabre around and use the 'force' to move your opponents. You have to use the 'force' to get through all the levels by solving mini-puzzles. It's totally awesome, it really is. Clearly, they have aimed this at a younger audience and for the older Star Wars fans (yours truly included), anything works anyway.


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Transsiberian review

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 27 May 2008 01:22 (A review of Transsiberian)

A well directed thriller set primarily on the Trans-Siberian train line in Russia. An American couple get caught up with a drug trafficker working for the Uzbek mafia, his girlfriend and a corrupt cop. The wife is the most interesting character, complex and frustrating at times. Ben Kingsley does a great turn as the corrupt Russian cop. Good acting all round as well. The only thing that bugs me was the whole cliche of American tourists getting being victims of something shady in a foreign country, though thankfully it wasn't quite as straightforward as that.


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Everything Is Fine review

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 26 May 2008 05:31 (A review of Everything Is Fine)

Four friends commit suicide on the same day leaving behind a fifth friend, an ex-girlfriend and their parents. Intense performances by all the actors contribute to a satisfying look at teenage lives.


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Missed connections

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 26 May 2008 05:24 (A review of The Edge of Heaven)

A prostitute, a retired Turkish immigrant in Germany, his son who is a Professor of German and the prostitute's daughter who is a Turkish political rebel. The people is this story keep trying to reach out to make a connection but they keep tanatalisingly missing each other, again and again.

The director/writer has written a very clever script and backed it up with excellent direction and the acting is top notch too.


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Nice way to kick off SIFF 2008

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 25 May 2008 05:41 (A review of Mermaid)

SIFF (www.siff.net) started on Friday and this is the first of 15 or so movies I plan to watch. It was a nice way to kick it off - offbeat, bizarre and very interesting. The perfect film festival movie, not because it was some arty crap, but because this kind of movie never makes it to the theaters.


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Deceptively simple and addictive

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 23 May 2008 08:32 (A review of Boom Blox)

The idea is (deceptively) simple - take a tightly packed group of boxes and throw balls at boxes, pull at them, use other boxes to hit them etc. You get points for every box that falls over, more or less, unless there are multipliers and a few other tricks. Each stack of boxes is a puzzle that you can crack in several different ways. The physics engine is *very* impressive and so are the different puzzles. It's takes 5 minutes to learn, but I'm guessing that it will take me several hours to master.

You use the Wii remote to position yourself and then point at the box and then press the A button while you swing and then release the A button to release the ball. The ball's velocity is determined by how fast you move your controller. This type of natural gameplay cannot be done on any other console. This game really does make good use of the Wii's unique capabilities.

Did I mention you can have turn based competitive and co-operative multiplayer games? And that they are insanely fun too? There, I just did.


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