Reviews

Reviews (6)

Comparative reviews are one thing and obviously must be done as objectively as possible but reviews of individual items are in many ways more difficult because you're not giving them context. They must be handled as objectively, as fairly, as possible and the following is the overall way in which I try to review something.

It is not enough to simply say you hated a film or loved it, you must be seen to be consistent so proper evaluation is necessary. I know it's a pain but it works quite well and can give some quite surprising results. The following outlines the method I use and the categories I use to do so, all the reviews on this site follow this method. I've given some considerable thought to these categories and hope that they make the review that little bit more objective and interesting.

Most reviews on this site will be books but occassionally I will also review films, TV & DVD, all are typically evaluated against the following categories:

  • Action: How much action (as opposed to violence) in the film.
  • Direction: Quality of direction and its effect on the final product.
  • Effects: Quality, appropriateness & effectiveness of the effects.
  • Extras: Quality and amount of extras (DVD only).
  • Music: Originality and appropriateness of the score & other music.
  • Originality: How innovative the concept behind it was.
  • Plot: How good the basic story is.
  • Presentation: Packaging, booklets & other extra stuff (DVD only)
  • Romance: How well/appropriately the romance & sex scenes are handled.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the scenario scope is.
  • Sound: How good the sound effects (as opposed to music) are.
  • Suspense: Well we didn't see that one coming ... or did we?
  • Violence: How much violence (as opposed to action) in the film

Books are typically evaluated against the following categories:

  • Action: How much action (as opposed to violence) in the book.
  • Originality: How innovative the concept behind the story is.
  • Plot: How good the basic story is.
  • Presentation: Pictures, introductions and various other aspects of the book.
  • Romance: How well/appropriately the romance & sex scenes are handled.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the book's scope is.
  • Suspense: Well we didn't see that one coming ... or did we?
  • Violence: How much violence (as opposed to action) in the book.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the book's scope is.
  • Writing: How good the author's writing style is.

Games are typically evaluated against the following categories:

  • Action: How much action (as opposed to violence) in the game.
  • Addiction: How eager you are to get back into the game.
  • Control: How easy the game is to control.
  • Difficulty: How easy or hard the game is.
  • Gameplay: Straight line play or can the player deviate from the path (linearity).
  • Graphics: How realistic/smooth the graphics are in relation to the platform.
  • Music: Originality and appropriateness of the score & other music.
  • Originality: How innovative the concept behind it was.
  • Plot: How good the basic story is.
  • Presentation: Packaging & supporting booklets etc.
  • Romance: How well/appropriately the romance & sex scenes are handled.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the scenario scope is.
  • Suspense: Well we didn't see that one coming ... or did we?
  • Violence: How much violence (as opposed to action) in the game
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the scope is.

All reviews carry two further categories:

  • Personal: A personal score based on the reviewer's gut reaction to it.
  • Overall: Overall mark (calculated ... see below)

Guidelines for reviews:

  • Reviewers can choose the standard suggested sets of categories or adapt them.
  • Reviewers should not use inappropriate categories e.g. the action category would not normal be correct for a romance.
  • Chosen categories should be accompanied by a short comment and/or explained in greater detail in the review.

All category marks are out of 10 but the "Personal" category score is doubled.

The "Overall" score is calculated as:

(SUM + (2 * PER)) / CAT

Where:
SUM: Sum of all category scores except "Personal"
PER: "Personal"> x 2
CAT: No. of Categories excluding "Overall"

Ultimately it up to a reviewer how they evaluate a film but this does, at least, allow for a degree of objectivity and if anyone has better suggestions we'll be only too pleased to listen.

Thanks for reading.

J. C. Rocks (aspiring author: "The Abyssal Void War" series)

A brilliantly written popular science book that explains how evolution can create the staggering variety it has, whether dinosaurs were warm or cold blooded, why cinematic monsters such as King Kong and Godzilla are laughably impossible, why the marsupials kept control of Australia, why insects are so small. Finally he explains why, despite our apparent superiority, we really don't own the world at all, that there is no such thing as a superior or dominant lifeform on the planet. He also explain why, of course, elephants do have big ears.

In 'River Out Of Eden', Dawkins writes of a universe with no apparent design or purpose and explains more of our evolutionary past. With thorough knowledge and captivating style, Dawkins illuminates how life has achieved what to the uneducated or bigoted appear to be miracles. Science journal 'Nature' says, "It abounds with metaphors that make things brilliantly clear, an excellent introduction to many important evolutionary ideas".

A brilliant idea that ultimately fails in execution. It has been said of Turtledove that he is the master of the alternate history series, on the basis of the first seven books of this series I have little choice but to disagree.

The scientific endeavour, assumed an "unending march of science" by many but, in truth, no one claimed it as such. But why? Why does science, a purely human endeavour, give us real answers whilst religion only pretends to? In discussing some of the most famous feuds in science the author throws light on the true motivations and petty jealousies of scientists throughout history. In cleverly revealing the kind of sarcasm and abuse competing scientists would often throw at each other he puts to rest the idea that science is infallible whilst reflecting on today's media battles between evolutionists and fundamentalists.

A review of "Soldier of the Republic", the debut novel by Ben Slythe. The book might be classed as military science fiction, is well-written and engaging demonstrating the author's excellent grasp of both military organisation and historic battles.

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