Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Pirates At World's End

The final instalment of the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie proves to be hit and miss, despite the best efforts from Johnny Depp in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. The plot is extremely difficult to follow, leaving the viewer dazed and confused as to what the hell is going on.

It doesn’t help that the film involves lots of twists and turns, with everyone double-crossing and backstabbing each other. However, the action sequences are pretty spectacular with some of the most impressive CGI effects this year. It’s just a shame that the charm and personality from the 2003 original – The Curse of the Black Pearl – are cast aside with a hollow and uninspiring narrative.

Despite the poor storyline, you can’t fault the performances by the leading players. Johnny Depp is superb and it was amusing to see multiple Jack Sparrow as he suffers from his hallucinations. Depp’s enthusiasm carries the whole weight of the film with some of the best dialogue and comic timing you come to expect.

Geoffrey Rush also provides top quality entertainment in the role of Hector Barbossa and it was great to see the two captains upstaging each other over who gets to command the Black Pearl. Davy Jones makes a reappearance, played by the talented Bill Nighy, along with Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-Fat as the evil Captain Sao Feng, though this character was underused in the story.

And what about the two ‘eye-candy’ stars, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom? Both seem to be enjoying themselves but you can’t help but notice that Keira and Orlando were being upstage by a multi-talented monkey! The simian even had more screen-time than Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards playing Jack’s father…

As for the action sequences, the cinematography is a work of art in itself with some truly beautiful imagery. So is this the end for Pirates of the Caribbean? Well, the final scene in this epic 168-minute film might suggest a possible fourth sequel, so it all depends how well it receives in the box office. But for the viewer, At World’s End can be seen as a high sea adventure with action and humour in the company of the charming Jack Sparrow.

Alonso leads McLaren domination at Monte Carlo

Fernando Alonso winner Monaco GP 2007

A perfect weekend for the double world champion as Fernando Alonso gave the McLaren-Mercedes team their 150th Grand Prix victory with a dominant performance on the streets of Monte Carlo.

The Spaniard led home team-mate Lewis Hamilton to score his second Grand Prix win of the season. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa finished in a distant third place and was the last remaining runner to finish on the lead lap. The impressive pace from the McLarens meant that the rest of the F1 field were lapped.

The expected rain never made an appearance after the clouds parting away just before the start. The two McLarens left the grid in formation with Alonso ahead. Hamilton tried his best to stay in touch but lost out due to traffic. Second place was the best he could have hoped for, despite many predicting that this was the race Lewis can win.

Despite starting in third, Felipe Massa just didn’t have the speed to compete against the two silver cars out in front. The Brazilian opted to switch to the super-soft compound Bridgestones (with the white stripes) during his first pit-stop, but it didn’t work out so he dropped even further behind… In the end, he was a full minute behind the race winner.

Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella finished in a lonely fourth ahead of the reliable BMW-Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld respectively. Both drivers employed single-stop strategies in the 78-lap race. Alex Wurz took seventh for Williams, his first points-scoring finish since making his return to Grand Prix racing this season. The Austrian managed to stay ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who started the race in P16. Kimi didn’t progress quite so well in the mid-pack especially when he was stuck behind the heavy-fuelled and single-stopping Honda of Jenson Button. He eventually got passed to claim the final point.

Alonso’s superb victory in Monaco means he now leads the drivers’ championship table with 38 points. Hamilton’s hard-fought second – his fifth podium in succession – gives him the same score as his team-mate, but Lewis is officially second in the standings since Fernando won two races this season. Massa is five points behind on 33, with Raikkonen on 23. In the constructors’ standings, McLaren have 76 points to Ferrari’s 56 as the championship moves onto the double rounds in North America.

Monaco Grand Prix result – 78 laps

1. ALONSO McLaren 1h40m29.329s
2. HAMILTON McLaren + 4.095s
3. MASSA Ferrari + 1m09.114s
4. FISICHELLA Renault + 1 lap
5. KUBICA BMW-Sauber + 1 lap
6. HEIDFELD BMW-Sauber + 1 lap
7. WURZ Williams + 1 lap
8. RAIKKONEN Ferrari + 1 lap
9. SPEED Toro Rosso + 1 lap
10. BARRICHELLO Honda + 1 lap
11. BUTTON Honda + 1 lap
12. ROSBERG Williams + 1 lap
13. KOVALAINEN Renault + 1 lap
14. COULTHARD Red Bull + 2 laps
15. TRULLI Toyota + 2 laps
16. SCHUMACHER Toyota + 2 laps
17. SATO Super Aguri + 2 laps
18. DAVIDSON Super Aguri + 2 laps
R. ALBERS Spyker + 8 laps
R. SUTIL Spyker + 24 laps
R. WEBBER Red Bull + 60 laps
R. LIUZZI Toro Rosso + 76 laps

Fastest lap: Alonso 1min 15.284 secs

UPDATE: McLaren are to face an investigation by motor racing’s governing body over the team orders they imposed on their drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix.

World champion Fernando Alonso and teammate Lewis Hamilton were ordered to hold position after the first round of pitstops in Monte Carlo – in a move aimed at reducing risks to secure a McLaren 1-2.

A statement issued on Monday said: “The FIA has launched an investigation into incidents involving the McLaren Mercedes team at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix in light of a possible breach of the International Sporting Code.

“The relevant evidence is under review and a further announcement will be made in due course.”

I will be surprise if the team is excluded from the race result. This is the worst-case scenario if this happens. I reckon a fine for fixing the race is the most likely outcome.

Alonso beats McLaren team-mate Hamilton for Monaco pole

Fernando Alonso Monaco Grand Prix

Double world champion Fernando Alonso took his first pole position of the season after beating his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by a small margin of two tenths of a second.

The McLaren drivers dominated the one-hour qualifying session and despite a brief shower, the pace of Alonso and Hamilton was mighty impressive. Hamilton was fractionally quicker than the Spaniard until he encountered Mark Webber’s Red Bull Racing on the approach to Portier. The Australian moved off line as they went through the tunnel, but Hamilton lost that vital moment to record a lap time of 1min. 15.905secs. This was only good enough for second, but despite the outcome this was his best ever qualifying performance after four races.

As for Alonso, he was fast approaching Nico Rosberg’s Williams but managed to squeeze in a lap time of 1min. 15.726secs to take the top spot. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa qualified in third but for team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn will start back on row eight after damaging his car.

Raikkonen clipped the inside barrier at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex on his first flying lap in session two, breaking the Ferrari’s right-front suspension.

The Finn continued as far as La Rascasse, but the damaged F2007 could not make around the sharp right corner and ended up parked in virtually the same place, as Michael Schumacher had been in that infamous blocking incident in last year’s qualifying session.

As Kimi sat there – stricken on the outside of the corner – Massa came upon him and decided to go to the left; for a moment a double nightmare loomed for the Italian team, but Raikkonen managed to reversing his way out of trouble, and the Brazilian was able to go by. The Finn eventually got back to the pits, but the damage could not be repaired in time.

Giancarlo Fisichella took Renault’s best grid spot of the season with P4, with Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber doing the same for Williams and Red Bull in fifth and sixth respectively. The BMW-Saubers will start on row four, with Nick Heidfeld ahead of Robert Kubica.

As for David Coulthard, he made into the top-ten shootout but was denied by the race stewards to take part as a punishment for blocking Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen when on an out-lap near the end of the second qualifying session. The Red Bull driver was demoted to 16th on the grid, behind Raikkonen, while Kovalainen could only manage 14th.

So with the two McLarens up front, it will be fascinating who will lead into Sainte Devote first. Overtaking on this narrow street circuit is near impossible so it is vital to have track position and the best race strategy. It also doesn’t help that there is an eighty percent chance of rain on race day…

Can Lewis Hamilton win his first-ever Formula One race after four starts? He has an amazing record around Monte Carlo, winning last year’s GP2 event with some style. Or will we see Fernando Alonso scoring his second win as a way of kick-starting his title defence? What about Massa? Will the Brazilian score another race victory despite qualifying in third. The 2007 Monaco Grand Prix should provide these answers with drama and thrills around the Principality.

Monaco Grand Prix starting grid

1. ALONSO McLaren 1:15.726
2. HAMILTON McLaren 1:15.905
3. MASSA Ferrari 1:15.967
4. FISICHELLA Renault 1:16.285
5. ROSBERG Williams 1:16.439
6. WEBBER Red Bull 1:16.784
7. HEIDFELD BMW-Sauber 1:16.832
8. KUBICA BMW-Sauber 1:16.955
9. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:17.498
10. BUTTON Honda 1:17.939
11. WURZ Williams 1:16.662
12. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:16.703
13. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:16.319 *
14. TRULLI Toyota 1:16.988
15. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:17.125
16. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:16.251
17. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:18.250
18. SPEED Toro Rosso 1:18.390
19. SUTIL Spyker 1:18.418
20. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:18.539
21. SATO Super Aguri 1:18.554
22. ALBERS Spyker No time

* Coulthard was not allowed to participate in Q3 after impeding Kovalainen during Q2.

Jack Bauer making an appearance on The Simpsons

The Simpsons & Bauer

The longest-running animated television show, The Simpsons, celebrated their 399th episode by creating a stylish and amusing parody of hit ‘real-time’ drama 24.

The episode entitled ’24 Minutes’ features guest appearances from none other than Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) as the hard-ass CTU agent who never sleeps or goes to take a break in the comfort area, and his CTU assistant, the know-it-all computer wizard Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynn Rajkskub).

Sample these two video clips below with Kiefer providing the familiar intro to the show plus edited highlights of 24 references!


It’s quite amusing to see the famous ticking clock and the split-screens.


Leaf on Xbox Live

Leaf Xbox Live

I finally upgraded my Xbox 360 to Xbox Live, though it cost me over £100 to do so! Why so expensive? First, I needed to buy that official wireless adapter as a way of connecting to the Internet without the aid of cables. Due to the way my router is set-up in my house, it was impractical to run the long Ethernet cable from the router to the console (as the router was in the lounge, while the console was upstairs).

The wireless adapter cost £60, but luckily I had enough points on my HMV games card to take £10 off. Still, it is a bit much for this accessory… The next item I had to purchase to access Xbox Live is a 12-month Gold subscription. With this special membership, I can download playable demos, film trailers, music videos and Dashboard themes.

This so-called ‘Gold’ membership – an upgrade over the limited Silver status – cost £40 and it only last for one year… Once this is over, you will need to spend another £40 to remain a member on Xbox Live.

So that’s £90 spent already just to go online. For the Nintendo Wii, it was free and the Wi-Fi was built in to the machine…

But I haven’t finished yet, as I needed some Microsoft Points in order to purchase items available on the Xbox Live Marketplace. So this means spending a further £20 to get 2,100 points.

Now that I got everything required to play Xbox Live (wireless adapter, 12-month subscription and points) just how much did I spend? Well, that’s £110! But was it worth it in the end? Yes, absolutely.

The ability to play online games in multiplayer mode is fantastic and I had the opportunity to sample this experience for the first time while playing against MrSamuari (Jason) in Virtua Tennis 3.

There was a slight bit of lagging – due to the different broadband speeds – but it was playable. In fact, the tennis game was quite competitive between Jason and myself. He won in the end, but I will get him next time!

I wasn’t a fan of online gaming initially but since playing the excellent Mario Kart DS with a group of friends over the ‘net, I have to admit its addictive. Now that I have Xbox Live, I’m looking forward to playing the sublime Gears Of War with Jason, Josh and Nigel soon. This should be a blast (sorry, bad pun)!

So playing online is one great part of Xbox Live, the next is the ability to download new stuff for your console including new game levels and Dashboard themes.

In the case of Dashboard themes for example, for only 400 Microsoft Points you can have the Heroes look (see the image above). There are many more to choose from but surprisingly there wasn’t any on 24 or Formula One

In addition you can download playable demos for forthcoming Xbox 360 games. So with that, I’ve downloaded two games I was interested in: Top Spin 2 (a tennis game) and Forza Motorsport 2 (Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turimso). Both were free.

But the best part of Xbox Live is the ability to communicate with your friends with instant messaging thanks to the new update. MSN Messenger works quite well on the Xbox 360 and even though it was quite tricky to type messages using the controller, by using a spare USB keyboard ‘borrowed’ from my old Apple iMac, I can now type out my messages just like I do if I was on my computer.

So despite the high costs to get going, it is worth every penny.

Grönholm wins at Rally Italia and takes championship lead

Marcus Gronholm Rally Italy

Finland’s Marcus Grönholm has moved back into the lead of the World Rally Championship by winning the Rally Italia after main rival Sébastien Loeb spun off in leg three.

Before sliding into a ditch and into retirement, the Frenchman looked set to take his fourth consecutive victory despite suffering a lack of grip on the loose gravel stages during leg one.

Grönholm’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen finished in second, which helped the Ford Rally team to remain ahead of Citroën in the manufacturers’ standings.

Dani Sordo came home in third, ahead of the Solberg brothers (Henning and Petter respectively).

Massa dominates as Hamilton takes championship lead

Felipe Massa Spain Winner

Felipe Massa took his second successive victory with a dominant display in the Spanish Grand Prix. He led from pole position and despite a brief contact with double world champion and home favourite Fernando Alonso at the first corner, the Brazilian had the speed advantage to beat the McLarens for the race win. Lewis Hamilton benefited from his team-mate mistake to finish second and now leads the drivers’ standings after only four races in his Grand Prix career.

Alonso finished the race in a disappointed third place, after his failed attempt to take the race lead by going around of Massa into the turn one. The Ferrari and McLaren banged wheels and the Spaniard was forced to take a trip through the gravel, losing vital track positions to Lewis Hamilton and Kim Raikkonen.

From there on, Massa was in full control in the 65-lap race with only a brief scare during his first pit-stop, when a small fuel spillage caused a dramatic fire on the side of his F2007 as he pulled away. The damage was only superficial and the Brazilian went on to take his fourth career Grand Prix victory.

As for his Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen, the Finn was initially in third place split between the McLaren pair, but after just ten laps was forced to retire with an electrical problem. This retirement means the Finn drops down to fourth in the leader board with only 22 points.

Robert Kubica finished in fourth for BMW-Sauber, his best result of the year. As for his team-mate Nick Heidfeld, the German had a nightmare race when during his pit-stop Nick was signalled out before the right front wheel gun was disengaged…

Heidfeld managed to get going again but was forced to retire with fifth place on the cards. This left the way clear for David Coulthard in the Red Bull, scoring his and the team’s first points of the season. The Scot finished ahead of a tight battle featuring Nico Rosberg’s Williams and the three-stopping Heikki Kovalainen in the Renault.

Finishing in eighth and scoring that all-important championship point was Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri. The Japanese driver drove a superb race and benefited from the late pit stop of Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Spanish Grand Prix race results means Lewis Hamilton moves ahead of former record holder Bruce McLaren as the youngest driver ever to lead the world championship, with 30 points to Alonso’s 28, Massa’s 27 and Raikkonen’s 22.

“I keep saying I am living my dream,” he said, “and it’s really true. I’ve been working so hard, and to come out of my fourth grand prix leading the world championship, driving with top drivers in world, is just incredible.”

The championship now moves to the most glamorous race track on the calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton has an excellent record on the narrow streets circuit with last year’s GP2 race win. Can the Formula One rookie score his first win in two weeks time? Let’s wait and see.

Spanish Grand Prix result (65 laps)

1. MASSA Ferrari 1hr 31mins. 36.230secs
2. HAMILTON McLaren +6.790s
3. ALONSO McLaren +17.456s
4. KUBICA BMW Sauber +31.615s
5. COULTHARD Red Bull +58.331s
6. ROSBERG Williams +59.538s
7. KOVALAINEN Renault +1m02.128s
8. SATO Super Aguri +1 lap
9. FISICHELLA Renault +1 lap
10. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
11. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +1 lap
12. BUTTON Honda +1 lap
13. SUTIL Spyker +2 laps
14. ALBERS Spyker +2 laps
R. HEIDFELD BMW Sauber +18 laps
R. SCHUMACHER Toyota +20 laps
R. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +45 laps
R. SPEED Toro Rosso +55 laps
R. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +55 laps
R. TRULLI Toyota +56 laps
R. WEBBER Red Bull +57 laps
R. WURZ Williams +62 laps

Fastest lap: MASSA 1m22.680s (lap 14)

Massa beats home favourite Alonso with pole position in Spain

Felipe Massa Spain

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took his third successive pole position by beating his main championship rival and home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso by just three hundredths of a second.

This was another impressive performance by the Brazilian; his fifth in the past six races and tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix should be another great battle between Ferrari and McLaren.

By qualifying at the front, Massa will have the advantage of leading the chasing pack into the first corner. Overtaking at the Circuit de Catalunya will be tricky as the track relies on the aerodynamics of these modern spec Formula One racing cars. But the possibility of cars passing each other could come into effect with a new chicane at the end of the lap.

The Brazilian predicts that the Grand Prix will be difficult to call but Massa believes he has a good chance of winning in front of the Spanish crowd.

“Definitely it is very nice. Three pole positions in a row this year so I have a really quick and great car,” said Massa.

“I am happy to see the job of the team, for sure. I am really happy to be first in qualifying and we are looking forward to having a good race.

“I am really happy to be here, tomorrow will be difficult and tight race for all the Spanish people and everyone watching, hopefully we can have some good laps and a good race.”

Massa has again out-qualified his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn having to settle for third position for the third time running.

Raikkonen admitted he was happy with his car over the first two sectors of the circuit, but struggled with the handling in the final one.

“I think it is better than nothing,” said the Finn. “I was happier today with the car, I think we had good speed in the first two sectors but lost it all in the last. The car was difficult to drive.

“We have to get that right for tomorrow so we can drive, but it is not a bad position and we will see what happens.”

As for McLaren, double world champion Fernando Alonso remains confident for the race despite losing out on the top spot in the closing stages in qualifying.

“It has been a very good weekend for us so far with the car performing well, the front row of the grid is confirmation of how competitive the car is and how competitive the package is,” said Alonso.

“We are confident for tomorrow and we can see a very good race for the battle for the victory.”

His McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start the race in fourth but the British rookie might have the upper hand on the Spaniard with a better race strategy.

“We weren’t able to get any further up than fourth – I’m getting used to that position now in qualifying,” he said.

“But we had a slightly different strategy than Fernando at least, and I think we’re in good shape for tomorrow.

“If you work it out, I was just as quick, if not maybe quicker. But we will see.”

Behind the four fastest drivers came BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica, who managed to out-qualify his more experienced team-mate Nick Heidfeld. The German will start in eighth with the Toyota of Jarno Trulli split between them.

Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen made it into the top ten for the first time in his Formula One career with eighth, two places and three tenths of a seconds ahead of team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

Between the Renault pair it’s David Coulthard in the Red Bull. This was the Scot’s highest grid position since the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.

Tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix should be quite tense as three drivers are tied on exactly the same championship points (Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton). The long run down to the first corner will be critical and the McLarens seem to be pretty good off the line this year. Alonso will be going for glory in front of his passionate crowd but can Massa stop him? What about Raikkonen, can he take his second victory for team? Or will we see the first Grand Prix win for Hamilton? Let the racing commence!

Spanish Grand Prix grid

1. MASSA Ferrari 1:21.421
2. ALONSO McLaren 1:21.451
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:21.723
4. HAMILTON McLaren 1:21.785
5. KUBICA BMW 1:22.253
6. TRULLI Toyota 1:22.324
7. HEIDFELD BMW 1:22.389
8. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:22.568
9. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:22.749
10. FISICHELLA Renault 1:22.881
11. ROSBERG Williams 1:21.968
12. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:22.097
13. SATO Super Aguri 1:22.115
14. BUTTON Honda 1:22.120
15. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:22.295
16. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:22.508
17. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:22.666
18. WURZ Williams 1:22.769
19. WEBBER Red Bull 1:23.398
20. SUTIL Spyker 1:23.811
21. ALBERS Spyker 1:23.990
22. SPEED Toro Rosso No time

Leaf busy working at The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph masthead

You may have notice a lack of posts on eMagi, a website that features the latest articles on the world of video games, movies, anime and other forms of entertainment. The reason for this is due to my new job working in the media industry.

I now work for The Daily Telegraph – one of the leading British broadsheet newspapers and though I am not involved in the actual design of the paper, I do offer my creativity in promoting the brand.

My new working environment is extremely impressive and the news room itself claims to be the largest open-office space in the whole of the UK! I work with a group of designers in the Create department and so far have enjoyed my time there.

It is such a nice privilege to have your designs featured everyday in the newspaper – from advertorials to specialist supplements – knowing that you have played your part in the creative process. I am lucky enough to work with a team who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they do and to be part of that brings me great joy.

As for my contribution to eMagi, do not fear about the lack of news content on this popular site. I will still be around to provide my detailed Formula One race reports and film reviews; it is just finding the time and opportunity to provide interesting and stimulating stories is becoming more difficult due to my new role as a designer. In the meantime, the other members like NeoBlade, Luna and Yink will provide content to keep the site up-to-date and fresh.

Loeb wins in Rally Argentina

Loeb Rally Argentina

World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb clinched another victory in his Citroën C4 but the Rally Argentina will be remembered for its controversial start than its competitive World Rally Championship action.

The first day of the event was cancelled due to heavy overnight rain and it didn’t help that all the drivers and teams were so far away from the special stages to compete in… Nevertheless, the Frenchman took commanding control as soon as the real stages began and Loeb finished the event with a 36.7-second gap over rival Marcus Grönholm.

Loeb has extended the championship points lead by two, now with 48 to Grönholm’s 45. Early standings leader Mikko Hirvonen is now third with 36 points. Even with Citroën’s lead driver Loeb on top of the standings, Ford still maintains the edge in the Manufacturers’ title chase with 81 to Citroen’s 72 points after six rounds on the WRC calendar.