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Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race: Speed of Silence (2005)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
7/10
If you like toy cars...
27 December 2010
... and my three year old son LOVES toy cars. Cars the movie, and Hot Wheels.

This film doesn't make a whole load of sense viewed in isolation as it is midway through a five part series, but the plot doesn't really matter when you are only three.

(If you must know though Dr Tesla has assembled a bunch of racers from rival street racer gangs to race against the drones to gain the Wheel of Power and save the world.. or something...) The graphics are not too bad for a computer animation. The cars are well crafted and the physics are about right for toy cars. The 'drones' make quiet good baddies, I suspect they are influenced by the Borg in Star Trek though.

The final race in the city 'world' is good, and that's what this film is all about, don't worry too much about the hokey plot, just enjoy the racing of Team Teku and the Metal Maniacs against the baddie drones.

It ends abruptly though. I suppose I'll need to buy the boy the next in the series to see what happens next.
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8/10
You know you shouldn't laugh
21 December 2010
Channel 4 back on form if you ask me but I am sure this won't be to everyone's taste. Part stand up, part sketch show, it is half an hour of sick comedy with plenty of swearing and a rather disturbing amount of jokes about paedophilia.

But then that's Frankie Boyle, he likes to push peoples buttons and joke about topics that other comedians wouldn't touch with a barge pole. Frank himself does the stand up, in his usual aggressive Glaswegian banter but a few other regulars are there to help him out with the sketches.

While most of the material is really out there, I love it, because it reminds me of the old days of Channel 4 when they used to do edgy and weird programs all the time. Stuff that makes you wonder if you won't be tainted just for watching it. Great!

God help Frankie's kids though...
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The Morgana Show (2010– )
8/10
Anyone seen this?
21 December 2010
This is a sketch show ran by the titular Morgan Robinson. It's not bad. I never rated Catherine Tate that much and I would say Morgan is slightly better than her.

The two chaps that are there to help her out with the sketches are good too and I love the rather confused Chelsea pensioner skit that they do.

I like Gilbert too, and the Mortitians, but the mad film star and Fern Cotton I can do without.

Like a lot of shows at the moment though it does suffer from having the same characters doing the same stuff each week ala the Fast Show.

Good enough to watch on a week night though, and does fine in the slot after Frankie Boyle on channel 4.

I think I fancy here a little bit too! O_o
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Bellamy's People (2010– )
8/10
Fast Show + Down the Line = Not Bad
12 February 2010
You can't really go wrong with this crew. I enjoyed the Fast Show a lot and I listened to most of 'Down the Line' on radio 4.

Bellamy's People is basically 'Down the Line' on TV in that Bellamy himself is a character rather than a real Radio DJ.

Down the Line was a Radio 4 show and the first time I heard it for about the first 15 minutes I thought it was real rather than the spoof that it is. It was set up like a phone in show ala 'Any Answers' and sounds very very real until the callers become more and more silly and you realise that your actually listening to Higson, Whitehouse, Day et al. I liked it very much and the last ghost episode was actually very spooky.

Having survived the ghost in his studio anyway, Bellamy is out and about talking to 'members of the British Public' - actually characters played by the cast. This is one thing I would say that makes it not quite work as well as on the radio, because you can quickly tell its a spoof as whatever make-up he's under Paul Whitehouse has a very distinctive face!

Also, some of the characters are very reminiscent of Fast Show characters.

Still its a good format and funny, in the same slanted way that the Fast Show was funny. I laughed last night the most at Bellamy questioning the rappers about their names and that if he wanted to be known as 'accurate' then why was his name 'Sniper' (which was violent) and not 'Atomic Clock'.
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Tokyo Mater (2008)
10/10
A fun short film
20 December 2009
My 2 year old son loves this film! It's - what - 5 minutes long? About 6th in a series that include Mater being a Matedor, being a fire truck, befriending a UFO etc.

The set up is the same each time, Mater will start telling a 'tall tale' that involves him and a rather bemused Lightning McQueen.

This tale, in my opinion (and my sons!) is the best so far. Mater tows a Japanese car back to Japan and is then 'Modified!' to be a drift racer. He insults another car and must race to the top of Tokyo tower at midnight to become 'King of the Drifters' or suffer the indignity of being stripped of all modifications and becoming .... STOCK! Fun, non-stop excitement and an excellent sound track.
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10/10
Very true to the book and the house
9 January 2009
My wife read the Diary of Anne Frank last year for English class, and when we visited Amsterdam we went to see the house.

The house in this TV series is exactly the same as the real house, almost to the extent that I wonder if they filmed it there.

The story as told in this series is very close to the book and shows Anne as she shows herself in her diary. An intelligent, boisterous, moody, lively teenage girl.

The fact that she was SO full of energy and ideas and yet was cooped up in those rooms for so long is the really moving thing about the book I think and they have captured it very well in the series.

This BBC drama feels completely authentic, I can't think of anything to criticise it about at all!
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Poppy Shakespeare (2008 TV Movie)
7/10
Good story, but a bit rude to the NHS!
1 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly, I did enjoy this film, it had strong characters and some interesting scenes. However, I've worked in a mental hospital and I can say that where I worked was nothing like that! The patients were supervised a lot more and given much more attention than Poppy , N and the others were given.

I suppose it could be argued that it was being portrayed as how the hospital 'felt' to the patients rather than reality, but this is not shown really in the film. It could also be looked at in a Kafka-esquire nightmarish slant on reality, but again , I think that would be reading too much into it. I know it is a film about madness, but it is obvious in it what is real and what is not.

Poppy is the character in the film that is supposedly sane, who as been sent to the hospital by accident (like One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest), and this was another thing that bugged me. How on earth can you do so badly filing in a job application form that you end up in a mental hospital?? This was the reason given in the film and I half expected it to turn out that Poppy WAS mad after all, as it seems such a daft reason!

I think the only reason Poppy was in hospital was because the Plot demanded that she was. The modern day NHS simply does not operate like this.

And again and again I got a little bit ticked off by the rail road plot that sent this poor woman down a pretty predictable decline into actual madness, until it reached its rather disappointing ending.

Still, I don't want to put anyone off as I did actually enjoy this film, but more for the good performances than the plot, which turns the NHS into some sort of ghastly monolithic institution very far away from reality.
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9/10
Great series
15 December 2006
This has been a cracking series.

David Starkey is a good presenter, a lot more serious than Adam Hart-Davis - but that's the way we like it! This is serious history for serious grown ups! It goes into a great deal of detail on each of the monarchs and I have really enjoyed the recent run through the Stuarts, the four Goerge's and William the IV. My wife is Indonesian and is learning all this for the first time and asks lots of questions - but it shows how the good the series is when a complete history newbie is happy to watch an hour of this every Monday night.

In essence each episode concentrates on one monarch (of England, and then the United Kingdom) and leads on to the next one. So for instance you will get a whole hour (more or less) of Charles II, leading onto James II and then the Glorious Revolution.

Because of the depth of detail I have been learning a lot. Especially about how bloody and ruthless things were back then! I can't recommend it enough. It isn't as accessible as something like 'What the Roman's did for us' but I think anyone can watch this - not just history-buffs like me.
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1942 (1984 Video Game)
10/10
A classic game
19 September 2006
1942 was one of my all time favourite arcade games when I was a kid. Although 1943 was better, 1942 was still top notch.

It was a 'shoot-em-up' in style. You viewed your little plane (It must have been something like a WW2 'mosquito' by the shape of its tail) looking down at it, you enemies arriving from above or the sides.

You started off on an aircraft carrier, presumably you are an American during the battle of midway.

From here you took off and quickly you are shooting down wave after wave of fighters and kamikaze planes and collecting power ups.

As with other games of this type there is an end of level boss, which could be a massive air craft carrier, bristling with gun emplacements, or a huge flying fortress type plane, which you had to blast the wings off.

What I loved about this game was the frantic pace that it had, and the ducking and weaving you had to do to avoid all the baddies and bullets.

I got very good at it, and still like to fire it up on MAME32 sometimes.

It is still good fun even today!
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Horace Goes Skiing (1982 Video Game)
8/10
oh lord - the memories!
14 September 2006
This was one of the games that came with the Spectrum 48k, although I suspect it ran on the 16k as well.

We had a Spectrum at Primary school and the competition was fierce to get on it and play games like this one. It is a laughably simple game, but for kids from the 1970's it was great.

The game consisted of two main levels which you played over and over as they increased in difficulty.

The first level was a Frogger clone and you had to guide Horace (A head on legs basically) over two roads to get to the ski shop. If you got run over you were taken away in an ambulance.

Assuming you survived that then next you had to ski down a hill going through the ski gates and over ramps while avoiding the trees.

Very simple, but we loved it as kids back then!
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Populous (1989 Video Game)
10/10
the start of the God Game
14 September 2006
Populous defined the God Game genre. I played it on the Amiga, and it was one of my favourite games for a long time.

Like all 'god games' you manage a group of people who are struggling in a tough world to survive. The game world was a colourful 3D environment that varied from level to level, from grass lands to snow scape's and even volcanic areas.

You built up your fortresses and followers, the more you had the more power you gained.

Meanwhile though, on another part of the playing area another god was doing the same, and to win the level you had to defeat him. As you gained more power you gained increasingly more powerful means of destruction. You could visit storms and volcano's on your enemy for instance.
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3D Ant Attack (1984 Video Game)
8/10
A very eerie game
14 September 2006
This was one of the first games to come out for the Spectrum 48k and one of the first ones I played.

The game itself was very simple. There is a city scape, made from blocks arranged in a '3D' isometric view.

The city is inhabited by ants bigger than humans, and it is your job to rescue your partner from the city without getting eaten by the ants.

Each level your partner would be a bit further in the city and harder to get to. Once you had got her (or him!) you then had to escort them back to the city entrance.

Like all games of that time, it was very simple. It was also almost entirely black and white, the human figures being not much more than stick men.

Still, back then it was pushing the technology to the limit I'm sure! And the city was strangely haunting and desolate and I still remember the game very clearly.
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Sabre Wulf (1984 Video Game)
10/10
an old ULTIMATE classic
13 September 2006
This is an old 'Ultimate : Play the Game' classic game.

I played it on the Spectrum 48k.

You start in a clearing of trees, in a very colourful, but 2D jungle and must fight your way through snakes, warthogs and many other kind of jungle beastie.

Along the way you will find orchids, which act as power-ups for a short time.

You are searching for pieces of an amulet, in order to escape from the jungle.

The jungle itself is very maze like and it is difficult to navigate and find your way around - I used a map that was printed in CRASH magazine! Along the bottom of the maze was the Wulf! He was much bigger than the other jungle beasts and as far as I remember he was indestructible, all you could do was run away! I never completed it, it was too hard, and this was back in the days when there was no such thing as a save game option.
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Heretic (1994 Video Game)
10/10
An old favourite
13 September 2006
This was one of my favourite games back at the time of its release.

In essence it was a fantasy version of DOOM, a first-person perspective shooter. The weapons were even similar in format, the basic wand acted the same as the pistol, the crossbow was the same as the shotgun etc.

The storyline was good and the level design was great. I played it through from start to finish several times and it was always a blast.

There was even a hidden chicken mode, in that you could turn all the monsters into chickens and then squish them easily. You could even turn yourself into a chicken! The monsters were good, following a demonic theme similar to doom, on the whole.

A great old classic on the PC.
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It's Me or the Dog (2005– )
7/10
Another watchable 'nag' show
13 September 2006
This is a channel 4 mid-week standard, similar in vein to 'How Clean is your House' and 'You are What you Eat'.

Think 'Supernanny' for dogs and you have the right idea.

Each week the format is the same. You have a person or family that have a very badly behaved dog, and Victoria very quickly brings it into line, although most of the time it is the owners behaviour that has to change more than the dogs!

Some of the problem dogs can be very funny, and often the owners can be very annoying.

Victoria is amazing, when she gets a badly behaved dog to behave itself in a guaranteed 2 minutes.

Very watchable, especially if you have pets.
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Doomdark's Revenge (1985 Video Game)
A good sequel
9 March 2006
Doomdarks Revenge was the sequel to Lords of Midnight. In the game you took control of a cast of characters and sent them out into the fantasy lands of the game to recruit more people to lead your armies and to gather more troops from guard towers and fortresses. As you gathered your forces, your enemy to the north was doing the same. The game had great depth and strategy and it was very hard and took a long time to play.

Graphically it was very simple by todays standards but it was amazing at the time and showed a 3D world of mountains and forests. Just in blue and white though as the ZX spectrum was never much good at colour. The heroes were colour though and very expressive for such simple graphics.
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Lords of Midnight (1984 Video Game)
10/10
One of the best of the 80s
9 March 2006
Lords of Midnight was a seminal and ground breaking game from the 80's. I played it on the spectrum 48k. It is still amazing that such a huge gaming area could be squeezed into such a small size of memory. In the game you took control of a cast of characters and sent them out into the fantasy lands of the game to recruit more people to lead your armies and to gather more troops from guard towers and fortresses. As you gathered your forces, your enemy to the north was doing the same. There was even a barbarian chief whom could be swayed either way - the Utag of Utag, who had a large army and a good tactic was to race up the map as quickly as possible to recruit him. The game had great depth and strategy and it was very hard and took a long time to play. Me and my dad loved it and we even drew out the map on a cork board so we could move pins around on it! The pins had the coats of arms of all our heroes and armies on them so we could keep track of our troops movements!

Graphically it was very simple by todays standards but it was amazing at the time and showed a 3D world of mountains and forests. Just in blue and white though as the ZX spectrum was never much good at colour. The heroes were colour though and very expressive for such simple graphics. The sequel was called Doomdarks Revenge.
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Manic Miner (1983 Video Game)
The Dawn of Time for computer gaming.
9 March 2006
Wow am I old! I remember Manic Miner on my 48K ZX Spectrum. A couple of dozen levels of fiendishly difficult platforms.

Each level was one 2D screen which you usually had to make your way from the bottom to the top of. Even the first screen was difficult and if you lost all your lives back to the beginning you went. This was way back before the concept of 'Saved Games'.

In my opinion a better game than the slightly more free-form Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner is right there at the dawn of time of computer gaming, and games like Mario Bros, Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia can all trace their roots back to here.
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Shogun: Total War (2000 Video Game)
A very good game
5 January 2006
This is the game that started off the Total War series of games, which now include a Medieval version and a Roman Version (as seen on BBC2!). It is available on budget now and is a little dated but still good fun. There are two main sections to the game. The first is the main game area which represents a map of feudal japan. From here you can build up your forts and towns and move your armies around.

When you meet an enemy force you go to the next part of the game which shows an area of terrain and the two armies. Incredibly at the time the game could represent about 3000 individual soldiers making for some fairly large scale battles.

It feels very realistic as well. Height, terrain, troops morale and tiredness all making a difference, and how your army was made up - spear men, archers, samurai etc.

Still, the way to win was always to make sure you had twice as many troops on the field of battle as the enemy, so after a while the battles could get a bit repetitive.

Worth a look if you haven't tried it.
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EverQuest (1999 Video Game)
10/10
One of the great MMORPG's
29 December 2005
What is a MMORPG? A Massive Multiplayer Online Role Play Game.

Writing a full review of Everquest would be very tricky, and it is even more tricky from a 'movie website' point of view but here goes.

Firstly, from a gaming point of view ; I have been playing EQ for four years now, and have stuck to the same character through-out. The game is presented to the viewer as a 3-D virtual fantasy world of dragons and goblins. You start life as a new level one adventurer and work your way up to level 70 at which point you will be fighting minions of the gods themselves! I myself am still only level 68, mainly because like so many other players I have taken the 'scenic route'. There are many things to do in the game besides leveling your character. Working on your tradeskills (e.g. Baking, Smithing, Brewing), or 'factioning' - i.e. completing quests or killing the enemies of one faction to gain you favour in the eyes of another. e.g. Killing orcs to gain favour with the elves.

For me, the main lure of EQ and indeed any game like this, is the social aspect. In its heyday EQ could boast half a million subscribers, but I think there are less now. The game is separated into 30(ish) servers - separate instances of the game all running at the same time and typically there will be 2000 people playing on any given server at any given time. I play on the only European server - Antonious Bayle.

Players organise themselves into Guilds and the guild I am a member (and officer in) has a very friendly Euro feel to it. We have also organised real life meetings - Amsterdam, London. Brussels and Copenhagen so far!

So, to the game itself.

The original continents of the world of Norrath are Antonica - home to men, orcs, dark elves and halflings. (Halfling are non-union Hobbits :P ). Faydwer - home of dwarfs and elves. Odus - home to a dark skinned race of men called the Erudites.

EQ has run for so long it now has 10 expansion packs! Which surely must be a record. To give you an idea of the size of the game I will list them here.

The Ruins of Kanark : Introduced a new continent, inhabited by a xenophobic race of lizardmen.

The Scars of Velious : Introduced another continent, an icy area inhabited by giants, dwarfs and dragons.

The Shadows of Luclin : Luclin is the moon of Luclin. Inhabited by all manner of weirdos.

The Planes of Power : Introduced the planes of the gods. For many players (and myself) the game changed a lot from here on in. It became much more or a game, rather than a virtual world.

The Legacy of Ykesha : An island full of troll pirates. One of my favourites!

The Lost Dungeons of Norrath : New dungeons on the original continents. New gaming ideas.

Gates of Discord : A new continent. Telosia. (or something like that! :P )

Omens of War : A new area , The Planes of Discord. Pretty tough areas.

Dragons of Norrath : More lands are accessible on the continent of Antonica - inhabited by dragons!

Dungeons of Darkhollow : Underground dungeons beneath the Nektulous Forest of Antonica.

So, wow! This virtual world is massive! When you die - you are reborn at either a safe place or wherever you last chose as your safe point. You loose 'experience points' but these can be regained later by varied means.

Currently the game is so heavy with stuff that has been added with each expansion that it is in danger of becoming totally inaccessible to new players, but the design team have recognised this and have redone the user interface among other things.

If you have never tried a MMORPG before, this would be as good a one to try as any, but there are newer ones around - such as Everquest 2 (never but much smaller) and World of Warcraft.

Anyway - in terms of 'movie' like stuff there isn't much. In Everquest 2 - there are well known voice actors such as Christopher Lee. In the original game there are small examples of voice acting but I should think it was all done in-house. The tutorials all have this guy with a thick American accent!

I love Everquest, despite its many flaws, and I think it will be around for a long time because it has a certain type of magic about it. The newer games of this genre are faster paced, but loose something for doing this. EQ2 and WoW I would compare to ripping and readable yarns - Harry Potter or something. Everquest is like War and Peace - a huge beast of a game, but untimely worth getting to grips with :)
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A Small Problem (1987– )
Long Forgotten?
29 December 2005
Just an average comedy from the 80's. It had Mike from the young one's in it. I remember it from when I was a kid, but I can't find anyone else that remembers it!

Well, basically, short people are put into ghetto's and segregated from the rest of society.

A fairly weird concept I guess, but I suppose there must have been a political under-current there about how it is silly to judge people because of how they look.

This would have gone over my head (ho-ho!) at the time as I was only just into my teens then, but I seem to remember it was amusing enough.
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Frontier: Elite II (1993 Video Game)
Not as good as it could have been
29 December 2005
I loved and played the original Elite on the ZX Spectrum so looked forward to this sequel on the PC. It was a bit of a disappointment in that there were a lot of good ideas in it that were not followed through. The stars around the Solar System were all placed correctly e.g. Alpha Centari, Tau Ceti, Ross 128 etc, so that was good. But there were millions of other star systems that just seemed to exist to fill up space - you could never get to them. The basic premise of the game was to either trade between stars, hunt pirates, or be a pirate yourself, or by some other means make enough money to buy a bigger and better space ship. After a bit of play you soon realised there was nothing else to actually do, but it was nice to fly around and imagine how good the game could have been.

I am surprised this game gets an IMDb listing as I don't remember any voice acting - the game shipped on a couple of 3 1/2 inch floppy disks after all! But maybe the docking computer said something...

Anyway - a game that needs a decent update for the 21st Centary! X2:The Threat and the new one from those German developers I forget the name of are OK games - but the science in them is shockingly bad. I loved this Elite game because it had a bash at making the part of the galaxy around our solar system look to a certain extent realistic!
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The Dick Emery Show (1963–1981)
9/10
You are awful..
4 February 2005
..but I like you! This was always a firm family favourite at my house in the 70's. As a kid I used to find all his comic characters really funny.

This isn't the sort of show that gets repeats though, like The Two Ronnies and Morcam and Wise. To be honest, you can see why, it didn't age very well.

Emery sure liked dressing up as a woman though, and his nazi is still very funny! Excellent nostalgia for any thirty somethings out there, and as there are very few repeats on TV, seeing Emery again really stirs up the dim memories of child hood :)
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5/10
black and white adventure
25 August 2004
This film was a bit like King Solomons mines at the beginning but not as exciting. Then it turned into a whodunnit towards the end although it was fairly predictable.

Was watchable as an 'afternoon and its raining outside' sort of movie although there are lots of other old black and white films I like more.

Interesting as it was set in a pre-apartheid South Africa and what was fine in 1951 ie being very dismissive and arrogant with black people is very far from OK today.

My mum spent most of it trying to remember the name of the lead - Jack Hawkins it was though :)
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The Hole (2001)
5/10
not as good as Cube
23 July 2004
The thing that annoyed me the most about this film, among many other things, was that most of it took place outside the hole!

I was expecting a tight thriller, where they are locked in and slowly starve to death and run around killing and eating each other and then go mad from claustrophobia.

Instead it was just like a batty episode of The Bill or Silent Witness (UK cop dramas).

In no way did it live up to the promise of the first 15 minutes of the film.

If you want to see a really good psychological and very claustophobic thriller - watch 'Cube'.
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