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The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)
7.4 (8 Ratings)
Book Rating
“As the Wheel of Time turns, places wear many names. Men wear many names, many faces. Different faces, but always the same man. Yet no one knows the Great Pattern the Wheel weaves, or even the Pattern of an Age. We can only watch, and study, and hope.”

― Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World

There is perhaps nothing more magical than finding yourself fully immersed in a story. The first book in The Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World, creates a full world of places, histories, species, religions, and myths. Robert Jordan first introduces you to the simple town of Emonds Field and the characters that live there. Then he takes us with those characters to explore a vast and more complex world. We are taken on a journey through different cities and meet a variety of people including meeting strange creatures and beings with strange, magical powers. Including Trollocs, Aes Sedai, Warders, and Myddraal. Jordan has an extraordinary ability to create intriguing mythologies for his world and creating species that have fully formed cultures and politics.

But before I get too far ahead of myself let us start with Robert Jordan. He is an American 31ulybtb-yl-_ux250_author from South Carolina, whose real name is James Oliver Rigney, JR. He lived from 1948 to 2007. He wrote books in many genres including fantasy, historical fiction, western and dance criticism each under a different pen name. The first book in his The Wheel of Time series was published in 1990. He was able to finish eleven books in the series before he passed, leaving his extensive notes to renowned novelist Brandon Sanderson who wrote the last three books of the series, finishing in 2013.

Personally, when reading a book, the most important thing for me is to become invested in at least one of the characters. Once I am, I’m completely dedicated to the book. Robert Jordan has a large group of main characters and switches perspective between them throughout their journey. Picking out a single main character is very difficult, Rand al’Thor might be the closest but Matrim (Mat) Cauthon and Perrin Aybara and possibly Egwene al’vere and Nynaeve al’Meara create the central cast. They are the natives of Emonds Field before their adventures take them journeying to places unknown. Each of them is special and through the course of the book, you uncover the power each has. What is amazing is how Jordan is able to make you care deeply for each character and while he is switching perspective you never find yourself, bored. This is impressive for often in novels that switch perspective there is that one storyline you do not care about. Upon finishing the first book I can honestly say that I do not have a single favorite out of the group but love them all and care about what will happen to them next.

My one issue with the book came with frustration at what I call Tolkien Naming Syndrome. With such a mass of characters it is not surprising that some names start to sound similar but like Arwen and Eowyn there are two females with feelings for one of the boys whose names are oddly similar Elayne and Egwene with other female names rhyming such as Moiraine and Morgase while the male names tend to sound different and are thus easier to keep apart and remember. Depending on what you want in a story, the other thing that keeps this book from being unique is the black and white stance on good vs. evil. The two sides are clear and do not leave much room for the morally grey.

The book offers a great mix of solved mysteries while leaving you with an abundance of questions to make you need to continue reading the story. It truly is an epic adventure story. Fulfilling the good vs. evil battling and grand adventures and meeting strange creatures and discovering new magic. While it might not have the grand battles of Lord of the Rings it has the magical journey and strange adventures that create the amazing epic fantasy novel. I plan on reading the next book soon and highly recommend this book to fantasy readers as it offers great characters, an amazing world and interesting rules on magic.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
2020 | Fighting, Shooter
Treyarch returns to Call of Duty with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and updates the franchise while staying true to what has made it such a massive success.
Unlike Black Ops IIII, Cold War features a campaign and it is one that offers players side missions, alternate in-mission objectives, dialogue options, and differing endings.
Set in the 80s but jumping in time to Vietnam and other timeline events; the player is cast as an operative named Bell. Players have the option to customize their character in terms of name, gender, backstory and such but it does not play much into the game as “Bell” is what players are known by.

From Eastern Europe, to Vietnam, Cuba, and other locales, the game includes 80s technology and music as players must stop a Soviet General named Perseus from unleashing a Nuclear onslaught.

As fans of the series can guess; players will undertake various missions using combat, stealth, infiltration, elimination, recovery, and more to save the day. There are all sorts of weapons for players to select from ranging from Western to Eastern and allows players to experience a variety of options from sniping, run and gun, and even a Bow.
Vehicles also play a part of the game but they are more heavily featured in the multiplayer portion of the game.

The game does offer variations on the ending based on a player’s choice of completing side missions and choices they make along the way and the game also offers players the chance to grab enemies and use them as a shield in taking on enemy fire. This is one option I would love to see appear in multiplay.

The graphics are solid and some of the landscapes from jungle to frozen tundra really stand out as I was playing on an EVGA 2700 GTX card. The game was also considerably more stable than Modern Warfare was at launch as I did not encounter any issues with my gameplay.

At first I thought the campaign was short but I later realized I had become so engrossed in it that I mistakenly thought so. The levels do offer some real treats which I would love to discuss but do not want to spoil.

Multiplay is the bread and butter of the series as it is what drives the popularity of the series along as players will spend countless hours leveling up, customizing, and playing the various maps and modes as new content arrives until the release of the next game in the series.

Some have complained that the maps are a bit sparse and uninspired but I have enjoyed my time in the multiplayer and enjoy the fact that I can now select only the modes I wish to play for Quickplay to avoid being placed in a mode I do not wish to play.

The Co-Op Mode I enjoyed so much in Modern Warfare is gone this time around in favor of a Zombie mode and while it does not shake things up much from the prior Zombie offerings; it does offer plenty of entertainment and I look forward to seeing more content in the future.

There is an Assault mode where players can use vehicles ranging from Tanks, Snowmobiles, Jet Skis, Gun Boats and more which adds to the fun as ramming your ride into a landing area which an explosive attached is great fun.

The only issue I had with the game was with Warzone as attempting to launch it took me to desktop and out of the game so hopefully this will be smoothed out soon as new updates are already out for the game and next week will see the return of the popular Nuketown map which now is updated to 1984.

In the end Black Ops Cold War does not reinvent the franchise but rather gives players more of what they have come to expect with a few new wrinkles to the mix.

4 stars out of 5

Bob Mann (459 KP) rated Old (2021) in Movies

Jul 28, 2021  
Old (2021)
Old (2021)
2021 | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
6.1 (12 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Cinematography and Sound Design - very Hitchcockian (1 more)
Concept and initial set-up of the movie
Goes OTT with farcical elements and story inconsistencies (0 more)
Dafter than the Dharma initiative.
"Old" is the latest from the gloriously inconsistent writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Will this be great Shyamalan (à la "The Sixth Sense") or dire Shyamalan (à la "The Last Airbender")? The answer, in my view, is somewhere in the middle. It's a curate's egg of a movie.

- The premise feels very familiar (desert island beach; time slips; weird things happening.... "Lost" anyone?). But as a shell for a big screen adventure it kept me well-engaged.
- Shyamalan and his "Glass" cinematographer Mike Gioulakis use some novel techniques to portray the ageing effects. The angles they utilize feel quite Hitchcockian at times. Shyamalan supports this with the sound design, which makes this a REALLY good movie to watch in a cinema with good surround sound. Often the camera will be spinning showing nothing but ocean or rocks, with the character's conversation rotating behind you in the cinema. It's really quite effective.
- Shyamalan knows that no visual effects can improve on the horrors your mind can come up with. Although a '15' certificate, the "sustained threat, strong violence and injury detail" referenced by the BBFC pales into insignificance (in terms of what you actually see) compared to the equally rated "Freaky".
- I've seen other reviews comment that the "twist" (no spoilers here) was obvious. But, although not a ground-breaking idea, I was sufficiently satisfied with the denouement. It made sense, albeit twisted sense.

- I enjoyed the movie's leisurely set-up, introducing the characters and the movie's concept. (In many ways, it felt like the start of one of Irwin Allen's disaster movies of the 70's and 80's). But then Shyamalan turns the dial up to 11 and the action becomes increasingly farcical. Add into that the fact that you can see some of the 'jolts' coming a mile off, and the movie becomes progressively more disappointing, with a high ERQ (eye-rolling quotient) by the end.
- In particular, there are inconsistencies to the story that get you asking uncomfortable questions. For example, wounds can heal in the blink of an eye.... but not stab wounds apparently.
- The cast is truly global in nature: Vicky ("Phantom Thread") Krieps hails from Luxembourg; Bernal is Mexican; Sewell is a Brit; Amuka-Bird ("David Copperfield") is Nigerian; Leung is American; Eliza Scanlan is an Aussie; and Thomasin McKenzie (so good in "Jojo Rabbit", and good here too) is a Kiwi. But although it's clearly quite natural that an exotic beach resort would attract guests from all over the world, the combination of accents here makes the whole thing, unfortunately, sound like a dodgy spaghetti western!

Summary Thoughts: 'Time' and 'ageing' have of course been a popular movie topic for many years. I remember being both gripped and horrified by George Pal's wonderful 1960's version of "The Time Machine" when Rod Taylor threw his machine into fast forward and the dead Morlock decomposed in front of his eyes! Ursula Andress did the same as the rapidly ageing Ayesha in 1965's "She". And, more recently and with better effects, Julian Glover did the same in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

Unfortunately, "Old" isn't likely to join any of these classic movies in my consciousness. It's a diverting enough movie, with fabulous views of the Dominican Republic (which the local tourist board will no doubt be delighted with). A "less is more" approach might have made this a classic. But unfortunately, that's not what Shyamalan delivered here. Since what we get is a 'Lost-lite' with farcical elements.

And, by the way.... The movie that Charles (Rufus Sewell) refers to starring Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando is "The Missouri Breaks". It has a very unusual John Williams soundtrack, which I have on vinyl somewhere and is probably worth a few bob!

(For the full graphical review, please check out One Mann's Movies on t'interweb, Facebook and Tiktok. Thanks.)
    Toca Life: Stable

    Toca Life: Stable

    Education and Entertainment

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    Welcome to a world of horses and adventure! Groom horses, care for them and show them! Engage in...

Viceroy's House (2017)
Viceroy's House (2017)
2017 | International, Drama
5.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The 80:20 Rule.
India, 1947. Churchill’s government has sent Lord Grantham – – sorry — Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma (Hugh Bonneville, “The Monuments Men“) as the new Viceroy. His mission is to make sure he is the last ever Viceroy, for India is to be returned to independence. But racial tensions between the Hindu and minority Muslim populations are brittle and deteriorating fast. Can India survive as a single country, or will Mountbatten be forced to partition the country along religious lines to avoid civil-war and countless deaths?

Of course, there is little tension in this plot line since we know Pakistan was indeed founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah (played by Denzil Smith) on August 14th 1947. (In reality, Jinnah’s victory was short lived as he died of TB the following year). The rest of India went on to be ruled by Jawaharlal Nehru (played by Tanveer Ghani). What the film does remind this generation of is the extreme cost of that partition, with riots, mass abductions and rapes, over a million estimated deaths and one of the biggest migrations of populations ever seen. (All of this is largely shown through original newsreel footage, which is effectively inter-weaved with the film).

So as an educational documentary it is useful. However, as an entertaining movie night out? Not so much. After coming out of the film we needed to buy some milk at Tesco and I was put on the spot by the checkout lady to sum-up the film: “Worthy but dull” was what I came up with, which with further time to reflect still seems a good summary.
This shouldn’t have been the case, since the film is directed by the well-respected Gurinder Chadha (“Bend it like Beckham) and boasts a stellar cast, with Bonneville supported by Gillian Anderson (“The X Files”) as Lady Mountbatten; Michael Gambon (“Harry Potter”) as General Ismay (Mountbatten’s chief of staff); Simon Callow (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”) as Radcliffe (the drawer of ‘the new map’); and Om Puri (“The Hundred Foot Journey“) as former political prisoner Ali Rahim Noor. Playing Mountbatten’s daughter is Lily Travers (“Kingsman: The Secret Service“): Virginia McKenna’s granddaughter.

But unfortunately, for me at least, the film lumbers from scene to scene, seldom engaging with me. Bonneville’s Mountbatten, whilst perfectly sound, was just a re-tread of Downton with added humidity and curry; Anderson’s (probably extremely accurate) crystal-glass English accent quickly becomes tiresome; and elsewhere a lot of the acting of the broader Indian cast is, I’m sorry to comment, rather sub-par. For me, only Om Puri, who sadly died in January, delivers an effective and moving performance as the blind father (literally) unable to see that the arranged marriage for his daughter Aalia (Huma Qureshi) is heading for trouble thanks to Mountbatten’s man-servant. And no, that isn’t a euphemism…. I’m talking about his real manservant, Jeet Kumar (Manish Dayal)!!
As an aside, the late Puri (probably most famous in western cinema for “East is East”) has made over 270 feature films in his prolific career, over and above his many appearances on Indian TV. And he still has another 6 films to be released! May he rest in peace.

Probably realising that the historical plot is not enough to sustain the film, the screenwriters Paul Mayeda Berges (“Bend it like Beckham”), Moira Buffini (“Tamara Drewe”) and Gurinder Chadha try to add more substance with the illicit romance between the Hindu Jeet and the Muslim Aalia. Unfortunately this is clunky at best, with an incessant 30 minutes-worth of longing looks before anything of substance happens. Even the “Lion“-style denouement (also with a railway train connection) is unconvincing.

After that, the film just tends to peter out, with a ‘real-life photograph’ segue delivering a rather tenuous connection between a character not even featured in the film and the director!
Mrs. Chadha has clearly corralled an army of extras to deliver some of the scenes in the film, in the hope of delivering a historical epic of the scale of Attenborough’s “Gandhi”. For me, she misses by a considerable margin. But that’s just my view….. if you like historical dramas, its a film you might enjoy: as the great man himself said “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress”.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
2014 | Comedy, Western
Neil Patrick Harris is delightfully devious. (1 more)
MacFarlane shows he has potential in his on-screen acting debut.
The humor is at times very vulgar and immature. (2 more)
The film is slow-paced and overly long.
"A Dozen Ways to Die in the West" would have been a more appropriate title.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is good for a few laughs but it feels like it goes on unreasonably long. Still, if you're a fan of MacFarlane's other works, you'll most likely enjoy his parody of the Old West.
Following the success of his directorial debut, Ted, Seth MacFarlane steps in front of the movie camera for the first time in his new film, A Million Ways to Die in the West. MacFarlane is best known as the creator of the popular animated television series, Family Guy, and he was also the host of the Oscars just two years ago. Now he’s taking the starring role in a film he wrote and directed himself. Here MacFarlane plays a cowardly sheep farmer named Albert who is miserably living in the dangerous Old West. Or rather, the not-so-dangerous Old West. Despite what the title suggests, there’s not a whole lot of dying going on in A Million Ways to Die in the West. You won’t find a whole lot of substance either, but there are a fair amount of laughs if you’re able to tolerate the crude toilet humor and dirty jokes. All in all, MacFarlane does a decent job in this comedy, but his jokes stick too close to his own conventions, and much like life on the frontier, the film can be kind of a drag.

If you’ve ever seen Family Guy, you should feel right at home with the humor in this film. It’s crass, edgy, violent, and full of pop culture references. Although, given that this is an R-rated movie, MacFarlane’s able to push the limits further than usual, and he makes sure to do that by including a lot of raunchy humor and toilet-gags. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, male genitals are still the hottest thing in comedy right now. As you’ve no doubt deduced, this is certainly not a film you’d want to take your kids to see. Nor is it for the easily-offended. Though in the film’s defense, it’s not entirely tasteless, and its use of vulgarity isn’t overly frequent. There’s plenty of great slapstick physical comedy and some pretty hilarious dialogue. I laughed more than I thought I would, and was never so disgusted that I wanted to walk out. It’s an entertaining film, it just happens to run a little long and lose momentum down the stretch. Plus the main premise of the film is never all that compelling to begin with.

In A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane’s character Albert is a man entirely self-aware of the time and place he’s living in, as well as the many dangers that come with it. He sheepishly lives his life, terrified by the threat of death that lurks around every corner. When his beloved girlfriend leaves him for a man with a mighty mustache, Albert has to cowboy up to prove his machismo and try to win her back. Luckily for him, he meets a gun-toting woman named Anna who’s happy to help him face his fears and show him the ropes of being a cowboy. Unfortunately however, this new friendship ends up putting Albert right into the crosshairs of Clinch Leatherwood, the deadliest outlaw around.

While MacFarlane does a respectable job in his first foray into acting, his character feels rather uninspired. I couldn’t help but see him as a hodgepodge of various Family Guy characters, having the clumsiness of Peter Griffin, the self-consciousness of Chris Griffin, and the intelligence and charm of Brian. Given that he created that show, perhaps that should be expected, but it just felt like Albert was lacking a unique and consistent identity. He’s a character who can be charming and funny, but he also comes off seeming like a jerk. All in all, the film has a good cast of actors, with Neil Patrick Harris being the stand-out of the bunch. He plays the pompous, mustached snob, Foy, who steals the heart of Albert’s girlfriend, Louise. Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman are likable as the flawed, clueless couple who serve as Albert’s close friends, Edward and Ruth. Although their characters stay pretty comfortably within the realm of what you would expect from their respective actors, with Edward being the naïve nice guy, while Silverman’s Ruth is the seemingly-sweet-and-innocent, foul-mouthed hussy. Charlize Theron does a fine job as Albert’s mentor, Anna. She has a strong presence in the film and is fun to watch, but despite her best efforts, the emotional element she brings to the story ends up feeling forced and unconvincing. Though that’s no fault of her own. It’s just hard to imagine her, or anyone, falling head over heels so easily and suddenly for a guy like Albert. Then, of course, there’s Liam Neeson, who is effective in his performance as the intimidating villain, Clinch, but would have benefitted from more screen-time.

A Million Ways to Die in the West proficiently parodies the western film genre, capturing the right atmosphere for the setting and time period. Visually it’s a pleasant film to look at, with good camera-work, well-created sets, and lots of beautiful scenery. This makes it all the more disappointing then that the filmmakers decided to place a visual filter over the entirety of the film to give it a more old-fashioned look. As a result, there is a constant flickering throughout the whole movie, and while not quite seizure-inducing, it certainly is distracting. At times you kind of get used to it and forget about it, but it really stands out in scenes with heavy lighting and most of the movie takes place in broad daylight. On the audio side of things, the music is appropriately fitting, but little of it is particularly noteworthy. There is a great song about mustaches, accompanied with a well-orchestrated dance number led by Neil Patrick Harris in what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film. Additionally the film’s theme song is appropriately fun. The visual effects in the movie, although limited, are done quite well and nicely add to the film’s comedic effect. Although I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say the movie could have done just fine without all of the animated urinating sheep.

I think the film’s greatest flaw is the fact that it’s doing too much as it tries to incorporate all of the main stereotypes of the western genre. It has duels, bar brawls, jailbreaks, horse chases, and even capture by Indians thrown in for good measure. In trying to cover all of the bases, the movie ends up running too long and becomes a little boring and tired. Rather than building up to a climax, the film diverges with some unnecessary scenes, and then concludes with a lackluster ending. It would have been cool to see Clinch and his group of bandits lay siege to the main town, which could have given the filmmakers an opportunity to create a wide variety of deaths, and allow Albert to exercise his newly developed skills before setting up to an ultimate final showdown. Maybe that would be adding to the long list of clichés, but at least it would have given this slow-paced film some much needed adrenaline and would have made it more true to its misleading title. There are also several cameo appearances in the film, and while a couple of them are great conceptually, I don’t think any of them are quite as satisfying as they should be. They end up feeling out of place, like last-second additions that have no purpose other than to acknowledge other films. I can appreciate the attempt but the cameos aren’t particularly funny and they just seems to emphasize how much better those other films are.

Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West is good for a few laughs, but just like his character Albert’s long-winded ramblings, it feels like it goes on unreasonably long. It’s still an entertaining film regardless, and if you’re a fan of MacFarlane’s other work, you’ll most likely enjoy his parody of the Old West. The movie has a talented cast, some truly great scenes such as a bar brawl and a memorable dance, as well as plenty of good old-fashioned slapstick, and witty dialogue. If you can handle the occasional gross-out gag, you’ll probably have a good time. Just don’t expect to actually see the many ways people can die In the Old West. The movie doesn’t show many deaths at all, and all the best ones you likely already saw in the trailer.

(This review was originally posted at on 6.3.14.)
The Last Samurai (2003)
The Last Samurai (2003)
2003 | Action, Drama, War
Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren Ken watanabe as Katsumoto The battle sequences Hans Zimmer's score Nathan and Katsumoto's conversations The beauty of japan Edward Zwick An emotional ending (0 more)
Nothing (0 more)
" I will tell you, how he lived"
The honour and code of the samurai has always been enticing to a Western civilisation that is far removed from such customs, which perhaps makes The Last Samurai such an enticing, enigmatic film. Edward Zwick crafts quite an epic adventure rich in mythology & thematic resonance that while traditionally Hollywood in its construction still manages to exist a cut above many such movies of its ilk, a touch of class surrounding how the story of Captain Nathan Algren is put together, based as it is on several real life legendary American figures who played key roles in the Satsuma Rebellion in Japan during the late 19th century. This isn't a direct re-telling of those events but serves as a leaping off point to construct a tale about a stranger in a strange land, of a man haunted by fighting an unjust war who rediscovers his honour & place in the world through a dying culture. Zwick's film is slick, sweeping, beautifully shot and frequently involving, backed up by a strong performance by Tom Cruise in one of those roles that remind you just what a good actor he can be.

In the role of Algren, Cruise begins a dejected man living out of a bottle, bereft of purpose & suffering post-Civil War nightmares of a man touted as a hero despite feeling the guilt of slaughtering Indians crushed under the might of a military machine; in that sense, The Last Samurai is very anti-war in its message, John Logan's story painting the Americans and specifically the Imperialist Japanese not in the greatest light. Cruise takes Algren on a traditional voyage of discovery, first pitted against the samurai code & eventually becoming consumed by it, consumed by the similarity of the way of the warrior between both cultures - and Ken Watanabe's dignified samurai 'rebel' Katsumoto learns from him, as well as the other way around, with Cruise remaining stoic & only getting flashes of a chance to display the usual Cruise charm, but that's OK - Algren isn't the kind of character to benefit from that, Cruise's natural magnetism is enough here. Wit is provided thankfully through, albeit briefly, Billy Connolly as a tough old Irish veteran & chiefly Timothy Spall as our portly 'narrator' of sorts, who serves to help mythologise Algren & the legend itself. Zwick is most concerned with that, you see, the idea of legends and how men become them, exploring that concept alongside digging into the cultural rituals and practises of a changing Japan.

Algren's story is placed at a time when the old ways of Japan were shifting, under the pressures of global politics & business; the Emperor here is a naive young man, sitting on an empty throne, looking to Watanabe for validation as his advisor's push to quash a rebellion fighting to preserve the old ways, preserve Japanese interests as America knocks on the door. That's why Cruise's role here is so interesting, his character learning of the samurai code & helping those around him remember their history, and Zwick explores well the concept of national identity alongside personal ideas of myth, legend & destiny. It all boils together in a careful script, never overblown, which neatly develops the relationships involved & helps you fully believe Algren's transformation into the eponymous 'last samurai'. Along the way, Zwick doesn't forget theatrics - staging plenty of well staged & intense fight scenes which utilise the strong Japanese production design, before building to a quite epic war climax with army pitted against army, with personal stakes cutting through it, backed up indeed by another superlative score by Hans Zimmer. It becomes more than just a historical swords & armour film, reaching deeper on several levels.

What could have been a slow paced, potentially ponderous movie is avoided well by Edward Zwick, who with The Last Samurai delivers one of the stronger historical adventure epics of recent years. Beautifully shot in many places, with some excellent cinematography & production standards, not to mention an impressive script well acted in particular by Tom Cruise & Ken Watanabe, Zwick creates a recognisably Hollywood picture but for once a movie that doesn't dumb down, doesn't pander and ultimately serves as an often involving, often damn well made story. Especially one to check out if you love the way of the samurai.