Hollywood at home

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 1995, 12:00am

THERE will never be a film-lover's CD-ROM that will satisfy the crazed, fanatical film fan. The reason for this is quite simple: it can never be complete.

Even the fastest designers and programmers would take several weeks, working at top speed, to put together a CD-ROM like orel All-Movie Guide. In a few weeks there will have been a number of films released that are not on the CD-ROM and for every week that you own it, it becomes more dated.

So, why even bother? One good reason is that it can provide you with a database of most of the available films.

With more than 90,000 films on this CD-ROM, it would be difficult not to find what you are looking for, provided it was not released only yesterday.

In some respects the vastness of the information on this CD-ROM is something of a drawback. There is so much of it that it can be a little confusing trying to keep it organised.

The design model for th CD-ROM is the local video shop. There are sections for all the usual types of film: horror, action, western, comedy, drama and television and documentary movies. You click on the type of film you want to see and a list comes up on the left-hand side of the screen.

The list begins with the first film in that category and you can scroll through it in what could be called a browse-mode, or you can search for a title you are interested in. Once you have found the film you are looking for, you get another window with the film details.

The details are impressive but it is obvious that the information has been scanned in with the help of optical character recognition (OCR) software. At least, it seems to me that this is what was done.

Names that have an 'i' in them are sometimes spelt with an 'l' instead, a typical OCR quirk. I do not find this all that irritating, although I realise that there are those who will not agree with me. Given that the alternative is waiting for a long time for the results, I will take the small blemishes, provided they remain small.

The information contains most of the usual sort of thing; names of actors, director, producer and cinematographer. All of this information is cross referenced: you can click on the name and be taken to that person's personal entry.

There is also a list of films at the end of the section that attempts to point you at other films of a similar nature. If, for example, you liked Terminator 2, then the list at the end will include Aliens, Terminator and The Abyss. All these films are by James Cameron but others are included.

There is also a somewhat dubious section that attempts to ascertain the popularity and the importance of the person or film in question. The popularity is, naturally enough, based on American tastes and the historical importance is also based on American history.

Although not too many people would doubt that Gone with the Wind was both more popular and more significant historically than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there are cases where the distinction is not as easy to make.

The Corel All-Movie Guide runs on both PCs and Macintoshes and looks exactly the same on both platforms. I have also run it on Windows 95 and it seems perfectly all right. Although I feel the interface could have been a little crisper in its design and the data checked a little more carefully, it is, nevertheless, an ideal CD-ROM for the movie addict. The mistakes will not make that much difference because they will have to bring out a new one in a year.