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Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA)
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Cracking the GRE, 2013 Edition
Cracking the GRE, 2013 Edition
by Princeton Review
Edition: Paperback
54 used & new from CDN$ 1.13

5.0 out of 5 stars A GRE prep guide like no other, Dec 17 2012
If you only get one GRE prep book, this is the one to get. Other books will tell you how to solve the kinds of problems you are likely to find on the test itself, but this book shows you how to figure out the correct answers to questions you'll face. As the authors make special note of, "The GRE assesses how well you take the GRE." Hey, it's great if you can solve every math question the Educational Testing Service throws at you, but doing so can take more time than you have to spare. It's much more efficient to tackle those hard problems by eliminating all but one of the answers to figure out the correct choice. This strategy goes beyond your basic process of elimination, but the Princeton Review gives you all of the strategies you'll want to have at your disposal, gives you numerous "Here's how to crack it" examples, and even helps pump you up to do your best when test day comes.

The Princeton Review strategy was particularly helpful to me. I aced the GRE back in 1991, but that was a long time ago. I had forgotten more than I'd like to admit about the Math section, the Verbal section had changed quite a bit (no more antonyms - boo), and the challenging yet super fun Analytical section had been eliminated and replaced with an Analytical Writing section. Heck, even the test experience itself had changed drastically. Not giving myself as much time as I should have, I had to do some cramming. I started with a Barron's book, and it was quite helpful - but not nearly as helpful as this one. These guys have done their best to get inside the minds of the test creators. Other books teach you how to solve problems, but this book shows you how to take the test. Did I still encounter a few problems on the real test that weren't in this book? Of course. Were my scores as high as they were over twenty years ago? No, to be honest, but I was still happy with them, especially considering I had been out of school for eighteen years.

Obviously, Cracking the GRE, 2013 Edition covers the new revised version of the GRE, so you're good to go until ETS shakes things up yet again. You're still going to need to work to prepare for test day, though. If all of these strategies were obvious, there would be no reason for any GRE prep book. The book is probably most helpful in terms of the Math section, but there's no shortage of tips and tricks for any of the test sections. I know I would have been less prepared than I was for the actual test if I had not worked my way through this book.

Christmas with Mahalia
Christmas with Mahalia
Price: CDN$ 14.71
15 used & new from CDN$ 5.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and deeply spiritual Christmas album, Dec 17 2012
This review is from: Christmas with Mahalia (Audio CD)
If you prefer your Christmas songs performed with reverence and tradition, you know Mahalia Jackson will deliver on both counts. The true meaning of the season truly reverberates in each and every word that comes from this gospel legend's lips in this collection of ten Christmas favorites. Nowhere is that more true than on Oh Holy Night, a song which - when it's done right, as it is here - delivers more spiritual power than any other Christmas song. What Child is This? is another of my favorite Christmas songs, and Mahalia performs it with beauty and true grace.

I must admit I had never heard No Room at the Inn, but it's a beautiful, almost dirgeful tribute to the humble nature of Christ's birth. Of course, this album is really about the joy of Christmas, so Mahalia immediately follows that song up with the nonreligious but perennial Christmas favorite Silver Bells. Mainstream songs such as this and White Christmas are actually my least favorite songs on the album, however. For me, it's as if Mahalia's voice is so spiritual that she gives these songs more power than they inherently possess. Don't get me wrong - these songs are wonderfully sung, but Mahalia Jackson was born to sing praises to Our Lord, and it is in the traditional religious hymns (such as It Came Upon the Midnight Clear and The First Noel) that her spiritual prowess shines the brightest.

Monster Brawl
Monster Brawl
DVD ~ Dave Foley
Price: CDN$ 14.97
3 used & new from CDN$ 10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Are you ready to rumbleeeeee?, Dec 17 2012
This review is from: Monster Brawl (DVD)
It doesn't get any cheesier than this: a wrestling pay-per-view featuring eight of the world's most terrifying (albeit generic) monsters: Frankenstein, The Mummy, Lady Vampire, the Werewolf, Swamp Gut, Cyclops, Zombie Man, and, of course, Witch Bitch. There's no Michael Booker asking fans "Are You Ready to Rumbleeeeee?" but that's just as well since there aren't any fans there. The monsters are sort of shy around crowds, and the last thing promoters want is for some fans to get their arms torn off, so the ring is set up in a creepy old graveyard - a cursed, creepy old graveyard - in Michigan. But hey, Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart is there, and Kevin Nash joins in the fun as Colonel Crookshanks, the man who's been secretly training Zombie Man for the past decade. Providing the funniest play-by-play since Celebrity Deathmatch are Sasquatch Sid Tucker (Art Hindle) and Buzz Chambers (Dave Foley). Is it stupid? Of course, it's stupid - but what glorious stupidity.

These are death matches, folks. Two monsters step in the ring, and only one leaves alive. The only rule is that there are no rules. You just know all of those tombstones around the ring are going to be put to good use. I don't know why the two middle-weight winners don't wrestle for a championship but, let's face it, we're all really here to crown a heavyweight champ. That's right, the winners of Werewolf vs. Swamp Gut and Frankenstein vs. Zombie Man must return to battle it out for the Monster Brawl Heavyweight Championship. And what a glorious fight it is, with both men - ahem - monsters showing remarkable resilience and unbelievable heart in a monster fight for the ages.

If you think monsters can't wrestle, think again. You'll see a number of actual wrestling moves, including the Figure Four (my favorite, despite the fact that my neighbor used to use that on me every time we wrestled as kids), the Sleeper, multiple clotheslines, and all kinds of good stuff. If you love monsters and wrestling, you're going to love Monster Brawl.

Messiah
Messiah
by Boris Starling
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars There's much more to this mystery than simply identifying the killer, Dec 15 2012
This review is from: Messiah (Paperback)
Investigator Red Metcalfe's toughest case begins with two killings in one night. One man hanged, the other beaten to death - but both with their tongues removed and silver spoons inserted into their mouths. By the time a third victim has been found decapitated, Red and his team of investigators are still clutching at made-up straws. As the murders continue to mount, Red can ascertain no patterns and no motive. Besides his trademark calling cards, the killer leaves no clues, and nothing seems to tie the victims together. Red's obsession with the case threatens to destroy his marriage, even as it calls up dark secrets from Red's own past.

While it falls short of living up to its billing as "the most terrifying thriller since The Silence of the Lambs," Messiah certainly makes for a compelling and unforgettable read. The story of this unique killer's murder spree alone makes for a great story, but Starling adds a whole other dimension to it by deftly bringing events of Red's past full circle in the final pages. A little patience on the part of the reader goes a long way, as Red's early investigation features a couple of wild goose chases, but the action and tension really start building by the midpoint of the novel. I must admit, however, that I actually identified the killer less than two-thirds of the way through. This is noteworthy because I almost never figure out a whodunit; the fact that I stumbled onto what turned out to be the correct theory suggests to me that the author gave a little bit too much away too soon - either that, or I finally got lucky and guessed right for once.

Obviously, given the title, there is a religious aspect to the plot - but it's probably not what you're thinking. Fortunately, Starling manages to make even the most twisted of motives make some kind of sense in the end. What makes Messiah better than your run of the mill mystery, though, is the way Starling ties Red's own story to that of the case he's investigating. There's much more to this mystery than just figuring out who did it and why.

Strippers vs Werewolves
Strippers vs Werewolves
DVD ~ Robert Englund
Price: CDN$ 19.61
18 used & new from CDN$ 13.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Keep your filthy paws off my strippers, Dec 8 2012
This review is from: Strippers vs Werewolves (DVD)
As this latest episode in the age-old battle between strippers and werewolves plays out, I think we all know who the good guys are. Things have been quiet since the explosion of the Silvadollaz strip club back in 1984, but that all changes when one dumb brute goes all hairy during a private dance with “Justice” (Adele Silva) inside Vixen’s. One silver fountain pen to the eye later, a werewolf lies dead and Vixen’s owner Jeanette knows that her girls and her club are in danger. There’s not a lot of good you can say about werewolves, but you can’t say they aren’t loyal to their pack. Once they find out how their mate died, it’s on.

When these strippers signed on to dance, they knew they would have to deal with some potentially dangerous – even hairy – guys, but I’m pretty sure that werewolves were not mentioned anywhere in their contracts. Never underestimate a stripper, though – especially Justice, as she’s even able to turn a complicating and potentially disastrous complication to the girls’ own advantage. There are a few subplots that make this movie a little more interesting (strippers are people, too, you know) and there’s a fair share of comedy sprinkled throughout, but in the end it’s exactly what the title says – Strippers vs. Werewolves.

Here’s a list of things to be aware of before watching this film. Robert Englund basically has a cameo scene and that’s it; there’s not much in the way of actual stripping; and the special effects (especially the werewolf makeup) aren’t going to win any awards. There’s some blood and gore, but this isn’t really a horror film. It’s pure camp, and you probably already know whether you’re the type of person who would enjoy it. I thought it was pretty decent.

Lord of the Rings War in the North - Amazon Exclusive - Standard Edition
Lord of the Rings War in the North - Amazon Exclusive - Standard Edition
Offered by EntertainmentForLess
Price: CDN$ 16.64
7 used & new from CDN$ 7.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Plenty for LOTR fans to enjoy here, Dec 4 2012
Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
They sing songs about Frodo and Gandalf and that lot, but guess who was protecting their flank and fighting the battles of the north during that time? A man, an elf, and a dwarf - with help from the Great Eagles. Surely that's a story that deserves telling. There's your premise for Lord of the Rings: War in the North, a rather visually appealing cinematic experience with plenty of bloodshed and limited gore, somewhat uneven difficulty, and lots and lots of talking. There's a lot of dialogue between each chapter, but you do have a couple of options. The first time through, I wanted to explore all of the dialogue I could with as many characters as possible, but you can choose to stick solely to the choices driving the story. As for the look of the game, I found it rather visually stunning at times and completely fluid throughout. Combat isn't bad either, especially the slow motion killing blows that oftentimes send heads or various limbs flying.

You take on the role of dwarf, elf, or man, and you can switch characters as you go along. I found it easiest to play the Dúnedain ranger the first time through, then I switched to the dwarf for Heroic mode. Of course, having a friend or two alongside you to team up together is probably a lot of fun, but I only played single player mode - where my comrades sometimes served as pretty weak links. You can be tearing through a whole party of goblins and trolls, but you're usually screwed if your comrades both fall in battle - having to go heal one or both of them during a fight can get annoying (and usually leads to your own death). Along with their unique fighting skills, though, different characters also introduce a few different secondary story elements, thus making the game less monotonous on replay. Either way, though, the main storyline is quite linear. Your mission begins as a means to keep Sauron's forces - under the command of an evil Black Númenórean named Agandaûr - busy in the north and away from the Fellowship as it makes its way to Mordor with the one ring. As you fight your way across the region all the way to the dark citadel of Carn Dûm, you'll encounter goblins, orcs, trolls, sorcerers, the legendary Spider-Queen, a stone-giant, and even a dragon. You'll discover and help defend a lost band of Longbeard dwarves, take in the sights of Rivendell, make friends and allies of the Great Eagles (Beleram is easily the best character in the game), and even get to meet the members of the Fellowship as well as Bilbo Baggins.

Gameplay is all about hacking and slashing, really, with swords, axes, staffs, crossbows, elfin bows and the like. Most of the time, the battles aren't that difficult, even at heroic level, but a couple of bosses and the defense of the dwarf stronghold of Nordinbad can be pretty frustrating and require multiple replays. Disappointingly, the final confrontation with Agandaûr actually makes for one of the easier boss fights. Another disappointing aspect of the game is its length. I can't really say the game is too short, but it definitely could be longer. Even a less than competitive gamer such as myself can easily play through the entire game in two or three nights. Still, you can access different story elements and up the challenge by playing the game through again at the next level with a different character. In the end, the game's not going to blow you away, but I found it pretty darn fun to play. It should definitely appeal to the vast majority of LOTR fans.

Airborne
Airborne
Offered by ItchyDisc
Price: CDN$ 17.49
9 used & new from CDN$ 3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly weird and different -- but ultimately saddled with a stupid plot twist, Nov. 28 2012
This review is from: Airborne (DVD)
This movie had it going on - a weird, unpredictable storyline, just the right amount of dark comedy, and even Mark Hamill - and then it shot itself in the foot. Airborne doesn't just jump the shark - it does cartwheels in the air while jumping the shark. I still think it's a good movie, mainly because it's so different than other films in the horror thriller genre, but it had the potential to earn some measure of cult status. I really don't understand why such a good story had to be ruined by a dumb and unrealistic twist.

This truly is the flight from hell. With unprecedented storms battering all of the UK, we join the cast and crew of the last flight permitted to take off from England. Only a smattering of passengers is left to actually board - and what a motley crew they are - along with some mysterious object in a box marked fragile. So who's on the flight manifest? You have a surly, bigshot jerk and his two henchmen, two veteran soldiers who served in Afghanistan, a very horny young couple, an American geography teacher with a motor mouth, a doctor, a young woman, and a drunk. A few of them may appear pretty normal, but there's a story behind just about all of them. The flight crew isn't exactly top notch, either. One steward and one stewardess are decent folks, but they work with a real witch (well, it rhymes with witch, anyway) and a foreign dude who just shows up saying he's replacing someone else. Meanwhile, Malcolm (an almost unrecognizable Mark Hamill) is back in the airport control room just trying to make it through his last shift before retirement. The last thing he needs is a jet to go rogue, but that's just what happens, of course - although no one could ever imagine the events actually taking place out there above the Atlantic Ocean. The trouble starts when one passenger goes missing. Only one person really seems to care, but things start to unravel as a couple more go missing later on. I won't describe anything that happens - except to say that it's increasingly weird and genuinely unpredictable (and eventually too weird for the movie's own good). Until the big twist, I was really into it and trying to guess how things might play out in the end.

Those with sensitive ears should be aware of the fact that the entire film is filled with profanity. I haven't heard this much cursing since I lived in a college dorm. That doesn't take anything away from the story, though. Some may also be interested in the fact that Mark Hamill stars in this British horror thriller. As I mentioned above, though, I honestly didn't recognize him - not until I went back to see which character Hamill portrayed. Of course, it's been a long time since Luke Skywalker graced the big screen.

I'm giving Airborne four stars because I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the film; I should probably deduct more than one star for the final twenty-five minutes, but the overall story is still unique enough to set it apart from the hordes of unoriginal thrillers being pumped out every year.

PROTOTYPE - Standard Edition
PROTOTYPE - Standard Edition
3 used & new from CDN$ 12.96

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most impressive and enjoyable games I've ever played, Nov. 21 2012
Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
By the time I was drop-kicking helicopters out of the sky, all of my initial concerns about this game were completely forgotten. Having indulged in several weeks of FPS mayhem, it took a little while for me to adapt to Prototype's much different controls, but before too long I was running up and jumping between buildings with ease. Combat took a little longer, mainly because you have to complete a few missions before acquiring the abilities that make this game so much fun. Once you gain enough experience, though, you'll be amazed at all of the things you can do.

You take on the role of Alex Mercer, a man who wakes up in the morgue, discovers that he has incredible abilities, and makes it his mission to understand who he is and what has happened. Outside, New York City is now a quarantine zone with more and more people becoming infected by a virus that turns them into something resembling zombies. Also on the scene are swarms of elite military personnel calling themselves Blackwatch. Their mission is twofold: stop the infection from spreading outside the city and capture or kill Alex Mercer, the man blamed for unleashing the virus in the first place. Of course, you - as Alex - have no memory of doing any such thing. You're willing to bet that the man behind Project Blackwatch has the answers you're seeking, though - but getting to him won't be easy. Aside from all of the infected people and the firepower of Blackwatch, you also find yourself constantly hunted by Hunters and other genetically engineered mutants with strengths and abilities rivaling your own.

In order to survive, you will have to kill untold numbers of soldiers, monsters, and civilians (well, you don't have to kill civilians, but it's just too much fun to resist sometimes) - and those kills will be bloody affairs, especially once you have access to your most devastating offensive weapons. This isn't a game for the squeamish. You have the ability to alter your genetic code, which opens up a world of possibilities: home-grown armor plating, massive fists, chain whips you can throw and spin around for multiple eviscerations, the deadliest of blades, etc. Your most interesting and important power, though, is the ability to consume others. Consume a person and you gain access to his memories (your only real way of learning the truth), acquire his skills (such as piloting tanks or flying helicopters), and gain the ability to disguise yourself as that very person (the only way to access certain areas of the game). Consume a "monster" and you gain increased strength and health.

Prototype is only as linear as you want it to be. You do have to follow the storyline, but you can take all the time you want along the way to wander around New York, killing and consuming at your leisure. There are also a number of different challenges you can undertake to increase your experience points. The more XP you have, the more quickly you can gain access to your most devastating abilities. Whenever you're identified by the military, you have the option of simply evading them or standing your ground and killing them all - both of which reward you with extra XP. You're really going to want to master your skills and learn when to use each one because Prototype is - in my experience, at least - quite a challenging game. The only potentially negative aspect of the game is the fact that it can only be saved at certain checkpoints, but these are spaced evenly enough that you won't find yourself having to replay long sections of the game just to get back to the part where you failed or died.

So, in a nutshell, what you have here is a challenging, incredibly enjoyable, wonderfully violent game featuring a unique interface and a solid, intriguing storyline. That definitely earns five stars in my book.

100 Million BC [Import]
100 Million BC [Import]
DVD ~ Michael Gross
Price: CDN$ 7.88
17 used & new from CDN$ 4.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of The Asylum's better monster movies, Nov. 13 2012
This review is from: 100 Million BC [Import] (DVD)
Whatever you do, don't show 100 Billion B.C. to a Navy Seal. It will make him very angry, and you don't want to make a Seal angry. You see, it's a group of Navy Seals who are chosen to go back in time to rescue an earlier team of soldiers who were unable to return from their virgin time travel mission. This "elite" team doesn't acquit themselves very well, I'm afraid. A real Navy Seal doesn't get nauseous at the sight of human remains, get all trigger happy when he thinks he sees something, and he sure as heck doesn't turn and run from anyone or anything, even a dinosaur.

Michael Gross plays Dr. Frank Reno, an impossibly old scientist who participated in the Philadelphia Experiment and sent a team of time travelers, led by his own brother, all the way back to 70,000,000 B.C. in 1949. (The only reason the movie is called 100 Million B.C. because it's a knock-off of the film 10,000 BC, and The Asylum likes to play tricks with potential naïve viewers.) Unable to get the team home, he has spent decades perfecting the technology so he can try again. When some distinctive cave paintings are discovered, he knows both where and when to find the long-lost team. Off he goes, along with a team of Navy Seals, back to the Cretaceous Period, but their rescue mission is only half of the story. The trouble with time portals, you see, is that it makes for a two-way street, permitting anything from the other side to make the jump, as well. I think you can see where this is going.

While the CGI effects of the dinosaurs and the destruction they wreak are pretty weak, and the story itself even weaker, I was still entertained by 100 Billion B.C. The film isn't anywhere near as good as other Asylum monster films such as Mega Piranha or Mega Shark vs. Mega Octopus, but this sort of movie really is The Asylum's bread and butter. You know to expect middling acting performances by has-been actors such as Greg Evigan, cheap special effects, and an average storyline. This movie sort of shoots itself in the foot near the end, though, as we get a quick stream of scientific psychobabble to explain some unexpected events that, quite frankly, don't make a lick of sense. Well, there's also the fact that a flaming red, 60-foot dinosaur is routinely able to sneak up on people - that definitely got my goat, as well. In the end, though, this movie is all about campy fun and the love many of us share for dumb B-movies. If you don't have the B-movie gene, you'll probably want to stay away from this one.

A Night at the Roxbury
A Night at the Roxbury
DVD ~ Chris Kattan
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 32.89
8 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty dumb but very funny, Nov. 10 2012
This review is from: A Night at the Roxbury (DVD)
No one can stretch a single joke as far as Lorne Michaels and the team at Saturday Night Live, and A Night at the Roxbury may be the ultimate proof of that. The disco guys with the bobbing heads certainly had the potential to wear thin after just a few skits, so I had my doubts that there would be enough material here to sustain a complete feature film. Surprisingly enough, there is - and the brothers' shtick never really grows old.

For brothers Steve and Doug Butabi (Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan), life is all about hitting the clubs every night. By day, they work - reluctantly - for their father at his silk flower shop. Pops wants Steve to settle down and marry Emily, the girl next door (Molly Shannon) and bring about a merger of the two family businesses into a lamp and flower store, but Steve just wants to hang out with his more reckless and even dumber brother, dance the nights away, and maybe even pick up a woman successfully someday. Privately, the brothers dream of opening their own night club - but they're stymied by the fact that they have never even been able to gain admittance at the Roxbury, the cream of the night club crop. Then fate steps in and Richard Grieco gets them in and even introduces them to Mr. Zahir, the club's owner. Suddenly, it looks like their ship may finally have come in - until the following day, when everything starts to crumble. Will the brothers go their separate ways? Will Steve take up permanent residence under Emily's thumb?

It goes without saying that this is a pretty dumb movie; the important thing is that it is a genuinely funny dumb movie. Ferrell and Kattan turn these two characters into the kind of hopeless dorks you can't help but pull for, and a strong supporting cast featuring the likes of Dan Hedaya, Loni Anderson, and the late Michael Clarke Duncan (not to mention Molly Shannon) keep things entertaining when the brothers aren't showing off their dance moves. Critics hated the movie, of course, so you know it must be funny; the blowhards in the media have no appreciation of comedy for its own sake.

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