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All reviews - Movies (34) - TV Shows (2) - Books (8) - Games (11)

Something new from the Sims

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 22 August 2008 09:51 (A review of The Sims 2: Open for Business (Expansion))

Before OFB, most of the things in the expansion packs led back to something in the original Sims game. But OFB was the first pack to break almost entirely free of the original. And they did well with the idea. It's one of the better expansion packs.

The major new interaction is building a business. You can arrange flowers, build toys or robots, or cut hair. And you can sell anything your little sim's heart could desire. Some of the bits of this expansion work better than others, but overall, it's a fun addition, especially the makeup chair. The errors your sim makes before they improve are always fun to see, and it's a great way to make the sims in your neighborhood look the way *you* want them to, even if you can't change their clothes.

Still, it's kind of a one-trick pony, though it works better than University. Overall, if you like the idea, you'd probably find it fun. Otherwise--you can probably pass it up.

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Sims 1 Hot Date gone wild

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 22 August 2008 08:01 (A review of The Sims 2: Nightlife (Expansion))

This is my favorite of the expansion packs, though I just got Free Time, so that might change. On the surface, this expansion pack seems like a combination of House Party and Hot Date from the original Sims, but there is so much more included.

You've still got to deal with Mrs. Crumplebottom and getting downtown to go to the lots there, but now you can meet people who could turn out to be the date of your dreams (there are two guys and two girls who actually have a lot of money and belongings that they would bring to your sim's home if they marry into the family), or even befriend (and be bitten by) a vampire. And while you can still call a taxi to take you downtown, you now have a new option--cars!

For most people, cars alone are reason enough to keep this expansion pack. And they're well worth it. Some of the user-created content even expanded cars into other types of transport including motorcycles, horse-drawn carriages, and even flying brooms.

But then you get the new dating features, and the new aspiration (Pleasure, which is like Romance, but without the need to sleep with everyone), and this expansion expands the Sims 2 world tenfold. I highly recommend using a Pleasure Sim as your first vampire. They seem to be the best suited for the role, as they tend to prefer jobs that keep odd hours.

Definitely highly recommended.

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Sims go to school

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 22 August 2008 07:53 (A review of Sims 2: University (Expansion), The)

As the first expansion pack to the Sims 2 game, this was a mix of both good and bad. Overall, there were some nice things added to the game, but not as much as some would have liked, and then only if you were actually playing with a student character.

Most important changes -
New jobs, though only if your sim has a degree.
New age-group, but again, only if your sim is a student.
New interactions - school cheers and pranks.
Lifetime want - a reward-building want that can actually put your sim into platinum for the rest of their life.
Extra wants for sims who have finished their degree, and the ability to lock down two wants.

Overall, it's a good expansion, but very focused in what it affects, and hardly affects the game overall, and one gets bored with running the student to their classes and making sure they do all their homework. The biggest change is the lifetime want, which is also included in the later expansions, so if you're not interested in school, this one is mostly skippable.

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The greatest time-waster of all time

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 22 August 2008 05:14 (A review of The Sims 2)

I started playing the original Sims round about the time the second expansion pack came out. It's one of those games that can pull you in so much that you forget to take care of your own needs. In fact, it's a running joke in the Sims fan community.

This sequel is everything the first was, and so much more. Now we've got genetics, and aging, which means your sims can be related as more than just child or married. You actually get grandparents, aunts, uncles...all that great stuff.

Your sim can be abducted, so be careful when watching the skies through your fancy telescope. And if your sim dies, there is a chance they might haunt the family who lives on the lot they died on (so long as their tombstone is on that lot).

It's graphics intensive, but the new behaviors and genetics make it more than worthwhile if your computer can handle it. I highly recommend it.

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Not quite perfect

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 19 August 2008 05:16 (A review of Becoming Jane (2007))

I watched this hot on the heels of watching the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. I have to say, it rather paled in comparison to that, and to Shakespeare in Love, from which it stole the story's basic premise. It is a premise I wouldn't mind seeing more, so long as it was done well. And this one is fairly well done. Just not quite as good as Shakespeare.

My major issue with the movie was that it didn't dare enough. It was too obviously based on Pride and Sense. I would have preferred to see them making a larger leap than they did.

The one bit I was especially appreciative of was the young man who is courting her as she falls in love with Tom. He seems obviously to be the one based on (or who was the inspiration for? I'm not sure if he's based on a real character.) Colonel Brandon, with his understanding of what exactly passed between Jane and Tom when they nearly eloped.

James McAvoy was lovely, and I think he did a lovely job with what he was given, though it felt a bit frustrating his character was so boxed in. I would have liked to have seen him dare more.

I'm not a huge Anne Hathaway fan. I don't dislike her, I just don't search out her movies. To be honest? I would have preferred to see an English actress in this. There are plenty, after all, and I think it would have lended a touch more creedence to this story.

Overall, a good movie. I might even buy it. But I don't think it will ever be in my top favorites.

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Pride and Prejudice (1995-1995) review

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 19 August 2008 05:07 (A review of Pride and Prejudice (1995-1995))

I finally got to watch this version all the way through this weekend. I've always seen it as the ultimate of the Jane Austen Novel-to-movie translations. I do love the 90's Sense and Sensibility translation, but this one is far and away beyond that. Both because they can take the time to do it right and draw it out, and because Firth and Ehle are such amazing actors.

I think that, unlike S+S, Pride and Prejudice has a great deal more depth, and while I like the character of Colonel Brandon, nearly every other character type is represented better in P+P.

The development of the love story is excellent in this piece, and Elizabeth's development from loathing to loving Darcy is wholly believable. Ehle's not only believeable as the second-eldest daughter in a family of many, but she never makes a leap that isn't totally believable for her character.

I do have to say I am slightly prejudiced myself in favor of Firth. He's such an amazing actor, and he's at his height in this piece. From scowl to minute smile, I'm drawn in by him. And his eyes are practically hypnotizing. He's not a particularly gorgeous man, but I still end up falling for him every time I see him, and especially in this movie. Just an incredible actor. I would watch him in just about anything, really.

Definitely the Austen movie to watch, even if you watch no other.

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I Am Legend review

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 13 August 2008 02:51 (A review of I Am Legend)

Okay, so I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did, after hearing both the hype and the complaints about it. I never went to see it in the theatres because it wasn't the sort of movie I generally go see. I do think it could have been handled much better, though. And I think the real ending (granted, I've only heard about it) would have been much better than the one we ended up with.

I also think my high rating may have something to do with the fact that I recently (last week) watched the Cruise War of the Worlds, and this is grand cinema by comparison. It makes it harder to see the flaws in this one.

Definitely won't become one of my favorite-ever movies, but not bad for an evening or day of horror films.

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Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 6 August 2008 02:50 (A review of Beowulf)

My major problem with this film wasn't the story--it's quite possibly the closest to the original tale I've seen, and the most interesting. They did a great job with showing the difference between the words the characters spoke, and what was actually being thought or said by them--a very different thing in this story.

No, the major problem with this film was that there was no reason for it to be animated. The animation still isn't fluid enough to feel real, and it distracts you and pulls you out of the film. Moreover, they use the faces of the actors anyway, so why bother animating them? You might as well spend the money (and far less time) costuming them and letting them act out the scenes. Computer animation hasn't progressed far enough to work for this sort of thing, and the story (and effects) weren't fantasical enough to warrent the whole thing being animated.

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Could have been so much more

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 5 August 2008 04:45 (A review of Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

Just watched this film, and I have to say, I was rather surprised how good it was. But the truth of the matter is, it still could have been so much more. Both Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie are tremendous actors. Why they feel they need to phone in their roles when they know they could do better, and both earn huge paychecks to do it, is beyond me.

The banter was good. Most of the acting worked okay. But I just wanted to see more--from both of them as well as from the script.

Overall, a disappointment. Probably a good tv movie, but not much more.

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A fresh new start to Downey's career

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 3 August 2008 02:44 (A review of Iron Man)

To make a long story short: if you like Comic Book movies, this one is a must-see. Funny and fascinating in turns, and features Robert Downy Jr at his best. It's a great action film and never gets too horribly preachy. Just great fun to watch.

And now for the spoilery bits.

I will admit, the amount of stuff I know about Tony Stark/Iron Man would fit on the head of a pin, but this movie played up the few bits I knew exceptionally well. The fact that he's a playboy who would put Bruce Wayne to shame. The fact that he drinks like a fish. The fact that he's permanently attached to part of his suit. All of it explained exceptionally well.

And, too, they grounded him not just in the real world (he's in a convoy in Afghanistan when he's attacked and captured), but also in the Marvel world (the repeated joke about S.H.I.E.L.D.), which was great to see, knowing how many more Marvel films we're likely to see in the next 5 to 10 years.

Robert Downy Jr took this role and ran with it. Not only is he believable as the millionaire arsehole who just wants to make his weapons, bigger, faster, better; but also as the playboy who can't be arsed to care about anyone, and the captive who realizes just what he's done to the world, and the man who would be Superman (okay, Iron Man, but you get the gist, right?). He's also the creator of the suit, rather than having it made for him. And each stage of the process, his delight as each new part works is just incredible to see. If he has any chance of regaining some of the stature he once had, this film has definitely managed that.

The comedy aspects keep from making the movie too depressing and too dark. My particular favorite was one of the robots Tony has helping him work on and test the suit as he rebuilds it once he gets home. The timing in those scenes... Especially the comments about not wanting to hurt his precious cars, his first "flight" and the arm's "help" in fire suppression.

The plot is a bit obvious in points, particularly when it comes to Stark's right-hand-man. He's set up almost from the get-go as the badguy, though he doesn't show his spots till about the middle of the movie, and the pacing of the plot kept that from being too annoying.

All in all, I loved it, and I highly recommend it.

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