Friday, 30 September 2011

Today's Review: Stake Land

In case you haven't had enough of post apocalyptic movies, zombies and vampires, here's an amalgamation of them all. Stake Land displays a ruined America, struck with an epidemic of Vampirism. There are small pockets of survivors, but mostly the streets are deserted during the day and filled with blood suckers at night. But a man known only as Mister (Nick Damici) is braving it all, travelling north to a supposed haven in Canada. Accompanying him is Martin (Connor Paolo), a boy whom Mister rescued from the clutches of vampires after his family was massacred. Mister is training Martin to be a badass vampire slayer, but is also intent on keeping him alive. But the obstacles they face on their journey may get the better of them.

Stake Land is a pretty good movie. It reminds me a lot of The Road, except a lot less cripplingly depressing and more gory and badass. They could have gone down the zombie route, but replacing them with vampires that kind of act like zombies gives a real up close and personal experience when guns just don't work well and stakes through the heart do. The fight scenes are often intense given this close quarters element.

Surprisingly the main villains aren't the vampire themselves, but instead a shady organisation known as The Brotherhood, who are intent on keeping the virus alive, convinced it is the Lord's work. This extra threat, while somewhat cliche, helps to enhance the menace and make you root for the characters along the way. Action scenes are broken up nicely by the various townships that Mister and Martin visit, but as the lines start to blur the sense of danger and urgency increases. While the build up is certainly suspenseful though, the ending leaves a bit to be desired. Still, it's not the destination, it's the journey, and I was so pulled into the journey that I almost didn't write last night's review.

There are great performances all around in this movie, and for a movie I'd never heard of before I was very pleasantly surprised. While it may not be perfect, this is one of the best horror movies I've seen in a while.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Today's Review: The Inbetweeners Movie

This movie's been out for a while, I know, but I don't make a habit of paying for the cinema, and today I had a free ticket, so off we went. The Inbetweeners was a good show, even if it went a bit stale in the third series.I wasn't that convinced about the idea of a movie, especially once the clubbing holiday element came to light. It reminded me too much of Kevin & Perry Go Large, which was great when I wangled my way in to see it when I was 13, but in hindsight was pretty crappy.

So basically, the boys go on a holiday to Malia, where they hope to do some clubbing, get drunk and get laid. Trouble is they're still as awkward and unfortunate as ever, so it's just opportunity for failure on a massive scale. Despite the larger scope, however, the movie still sticks to the roots of the series. It's just about the boys and their friendship and situation, just in a different location.

The jokes have shifted a bit in quality though. Instead of the witty(?) vulgar catchphrases the series was known for, there's a large emphasis on poop and puke jokes, and while Jay is still always coming up with different words for vagina, it's overshadowed by the presence of other, sillier things.

While there's not much movie-scale conflict that could arise given the basis of the movie, the film makers tried their best, and the introduction of four actual females who appear interested may seem a little contrived, but it gives the characters something to aim for. Unfortunately it turns into yet another movie where you can probably guess what's going to happen, and everything really starts to fall into place against all odds.

The boys play their roles just as well as in the series. You can tell they're still having fun, and the movie is a nice little ending to the show as a whole, especially given the fact that the last episode didn't really provide much closure. But in the end, while the movie is good, it's just not great. It reminds too much of Kevin & Perry, but definitely is a superior film. There's just quite a bit that's holding it back from being even better.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Today's Review: Triple Chocolate Mars Bar

Ever eaten a Mars Bar and thought "Hey, this could use more chocolate"? No, me neither, but someone apparently has because here we have the triple chocolate Mars. It's chocolate nougat with chocolate caramel, covered in chocolate. That's a lot of chocolate.

But they have taken away the essence of the Mars Bar, being the malt. The malt sets Mars apart from any other bar, and they've just added in more chocolate and turned into some kind of chewy chocolate goop. Essentially it tastes a little bit like a slightly melted Charleston Chew. It's by no means a bad thing, but I was expecting more of that Mars texture out of this bar.

Also it's confusing, seeing as a Mars in England is actually the same bar as an American Milky Way, while the English Milky Way is called Three Musketeers in America. So now to have an English Mars that tastes like yet another American chocolate bar is just aggravating the situation. But it's a limited edition, it'll all be over soon. But for now we have this quite nice, if slightly gooey and sickly, triple chocolate bar.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Today's Review: Taunting People With Unreleased Movies/Games

Someone came up to me at work today and asked if a certain movie had 50 Cent in it. Clearly a movie connoisseur I know. Well, it wasn't out yet, but we had just had it delivered, so I figured the easiest way to find out was to look at the box. Cue the inevitable questions:

"You've got it? Can I have it now? Why not? No one will know."

Yes we do have it, DVDs don't magically appear on the shelf overnight, we have to receive them in time to process them and have them out for display on release day. No you can't have it, because it's not out yet, and yes, people probably will know if I give you one on the sly. But then I was asked if I'd seen it. I said no, but I will get it out tomorrow, indeed before release date, because I can. That made him jealous.

I know it's entirely dickish, but there's a childlike sense of self satisfaction that comes from telling people that I have stuff before they do. Last week I finished Gears Of War 3 before it was properly released anywhere. Feels good man. Especially when you tell all the eagerly waiting fanboys "Yeah, I've been playing it the last couple of days, it's pretty good".

I know it's not very nice to do, but it's one of the only great perks I get from my job. So while I do feel a bit of a dick after for dangling these things in people's faces, everyone likes to boast about things from time to time, so perhaps it's best I confine mine to strangers rather than using it to drive my friends away. It's all a bit of harmless fun really. Until I show someone a copy of Modern Warfare 3 and they physically murder me to get their hands on it. But that won't happen for over a month yet.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 26 September 2011

Today's Review: Tangled Wires

Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Whenever there's a wire, especially groups of wires, they will tangle themselves when you're not looking. God forbid you have a large group of unsupervised cables lying idly around the floor, because they'll be all over each other within a matter of hours, like horny teenagers.

That's kind of a problem for me, seeing as I have over 30 of the bastards behind my TV. Going back there is like going into an electronic jungle, and it's all because of the tangled wires. Whenever I attempt to sort everything out, or move some things around, most of my time is spent undoing knots that it seems are physically impossible to occur naturally. This is why I always have all my stuff plugged into the TV. Attempting to switch over one wire with another is a Herculean task, and don't ever try to wiggle a tangled wire free, because you'll inevitably unplug whichever wire it was tangled up with, and so on and so on.

Why the hell does this happen? How can some inanimate objects left out of sight become so intricately woven? I remember my GCSE Physics teacher telling us that there is no scientific explanation for this. I just did a quick Google search, and the best explanation I could find is that out of all the states wires can be in, there are more tangled possibilities than untangled. So basically that's a "Wires tangle because they do". There is no force that I know of that can exclusively knot up wires and leave everything surrounding intact. In fact I'm almost convinced this is proof of a God, for this is surely the work of a powerful being. Too bad it's using those powers to be a dick.

Come on Science, fix this already. I don't have the time nor wire length to do fancy cable winding techniques, just give me a wire that doesn't tangle already. It really sucks.

My rating: 0/5

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Today's Review: Boot Sales

You don't get anything that's much more English than a car boot sale. When Americans want to sell loads of crap, they just put it on tables in their front yard for a day or two. But English people? None of that, that's too easy. We have to get up at 5am, load all of our stuff into a car, drive to a field and lay it all out, and hope that it sells when there's nearby competition from loads of other people. People love going to boot sales to buy things too, it's pretty much an English Sunday tradition to get up early, go and buy someone else's crap, go home, have a roast dinner and then go to sleep.

Anyway, I love boot sales because I love finding bargains, especially of the nerdy variety. One of my most prized finds is an Um Jammer Lammy figure that I bought a few years back for 50p, fackin' bargain. Today I was on the lookout for a SNES, but it was not to be. I did take £100 with me though, I was sure I wasn't going to spend it all, but after buying some toys, lending some out to my mother and buying some drinks, I came home empty-walleted but with these:

Did I say some toys? It was more like an entire carful of toys. I spent £75 on this lot, which may seem like a lot to fritter away at a car boot sale, but if I were to buy this stuff new it would cost a hell of a lot more. I got a PSOne for £4, loads of cheap Megadrive games, and the toys were stuff that we have been looking for on eBay, but at a fraction of the price. You see, while eBayers want ot get rid of their stuff, they're probably not too fussed about it, 'cause they can always list it again at a lower price if it doesn't sell. But people at car boot sales? They've paid quite a lot of money for their pitch, and they want to make that amount back, plus profit, and not leave with a load of crap that they came to get rid of. So things are cheap, pocket money cheap, and there's always room for haggling.

So car boot sales are awesome. I would go to one every week, but I work some Sunday mornings, and also my financial situation would simply not allow it. Because if there's one bad point to boot sales, it's that it's easy to spend far too much. Not having been to one in four years, I was happy to part with quite a bit of cash for some true bargains. But I certainly wouldn't make a habit out of it. Please visit car boot sales responsibly.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Today's Review: Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Oh no, it's another horror comedy attempting to ride on the coattails of Shaun Of The Dead. Haven't we had enough of these? What more can they do? Turns out quite a lot.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil opens with a group of college kids going up to camp in the woods of some hillbilly state for the weekend. Cue the generic creepy gas station store full of menacing hillbillies. But as they leave we focus on the titular Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) instead. Though they are a little rough around the edges, turns out they're just two best friends off to fix up the vacation cabin that Tucker just bought deep in the woods. While they're fishing that night they see one of the college girls, Allie (Katrina Boden) fall in the lake and bump her head, and take her back to the cabin to fix her up. The rest of the college kids, however, are convince that the pair are hillbilly murderers, and set out on a mission of survival to help their friend.

This movie does something I've never really seen before. It takes the oft used comedy trope of misunderstanding and implants it perfectly into a slasher flick. As the deaths start piling up with Tucker and Dale stuck in the middle, it's one hilarious unfortunate incident after another. The college kids are gung ho and willing to fight for their lives, in fact they pretty much act the same as any group of college kids in a slasher movie, but in this case they end up being really dickish, and indeed the villains of the tale. Tudyk and Labine do a great job as the redneck pair, they seem like great friends and their reactions to each situation are wonderful.

The movie isn't too long, but in this case I think that's a good thing. If it had gone on for longer I think they would have had to fish for more unfortunate situations and the whole thing would have ended up feeling stale. As it is it's a well rounded and quite polished little movie, that has its hilarious moments. It is definitely unlike anything I've seen before, and it's awesome.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 23 September 2011

Today's Review: Pizza Hut Warm Cookie Dough (The Restaurant Version)

I had a magic envelope to open today at Pizza Hut. I could have won a 3D TV, which I already have, or a Kinect, which I already have. Instead though, I won 30% off my food bill that day, so that was nice.

Since I was saving so much on the pizza I decided to treat myself to some dessert. The warm cookie dough I've ordered for delivery have always disappointed me. They've always been burned, and while there is certainly some good stuff there, the taste is masked by the brown burny mess.

So imagine my surprise when I was presented with an unburnt bowl of cookie dough, with a healthy dollop of ice cream on top, and even chocolate dusting! Amazing. I would've taken a picture, but I didn't think about reviewing it. But just picture it in your mind. Warm, chocolate chip cookie dough, it melts in the mouth and leaves a glorious sticky goop, that is soon washed away with the cool dash of ice cream you indubitably put onto your spoon. If you didn't, you're doing it wrong. By the time I got the dessert I was full, but I couldn't help but eat all of it.

Despite my apprehension due to cookie dough disappointments of the past, I am pleased to say that eating it in store is a refreshing experience. So get over there and delve your chops into it.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Today's Review: Thor

I wasn't too sure about Thor when I first heard about it. I know the Marvel universe has plenty of mystical things about it, and I haven't devled into them so much myself, but for the last member of the upcoming Avengers, Thor just has little in common with his Earthly companions Iron Man and Captain America. Still, I needed to be all caught up for next year when they all get together.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who is king of Asgard, part of the nine realms. What are they exactly? I don't really know, it's never really fully explained. But there are mystical realms, one of which is populated by Frost Giants, who are apparently evil because they want to kill everyone. Anyway, Thor is about to be pronounced king when some Frost Giants sneak into Asgard and attempt to steal the Casket Of Ancient Winters. This pisses Thor off because it goes against the peace treaty and interrupted his coronation. So against his father's best wishes he goes and kicks their asses, and starts a war. Odin isn't very pleased with this, so he banishes Thor to Earth where he meets up with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is especially interested in the kind of storm that brought Thor from his home realm.

Sound confusing? Well. it kind of is. There is some backstory, but not too much. It probably helps if you know what the nine realms are and all the background of the mythology, but it's not too important. All we need to know is Thor has gone through a magic portal to Earth and he wants to go back through the magic portal to get home. Unless he, you know, actually starts to feel a connection to these humans, especially this one woman.

Of course, that's what does happen. Thor is a man away from home, without his powers, so he has a lot to learn about life on Earth and what it means to find humanity. Well, I assume that was the plan, but instead we're treated to scenes of Thor eating vast amounts of food, getting drunk with a guy, and getting horny over this attractive woman who is interested in him because not only is he muscular and handsome, he's a bit weird too. The character development is pretty bad, either that or I missed the entire relationship that blossomed between Thor and Jane that made them want to be together. There is a villain in the form of Thor's brother, Loki, wbut his agenda changes so many times it's hard to figure out whether he's evil or not.

The special effects are decent, I'll give it that. The fight scenes are well done, with whooshing winds and devastating blows, but in the period between when Thor loses his powers and the climax of the movie, it's all a bit boring. While other Marvel movies have a slow bit at the beginning where the hero discovers their powers, Thor already has his hammer, which does things that are never clearly explained. It seems like he can just do whatever he wants most of the time. But the lull in the middle of the film breaks up the action, and without much substance it really dragged the movie down for me.

So yes, I was a bit dubious about the mystical elements of Thor when I first saw the trailers, but it turns out they're the best parts of the movie. The locations are stunning, especially when compared to the dusty New Mexico town Thor lands in, and the characters are more rounded, especially the Gatekeeper who opens the bridges between realms, he's awesome. So while Thor could have been a great movie if it focused more on the right things, the big expanse of stuff not happening in the middle dirtied my overall view. There is a lot of potential though, as shown in the major action scenes and the inclusion of S.H.I.E.L.D., and hopefully this will be explored in The Avengers and the upcoming Thor sequel.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Today's Review: Lion Cereal

A Lion bar? In cereal form? What could possibly go wrong? We've certainly had an abundance of chocolatey cereals over the years, there's even been Cookie Crisp, which is just cookies in a cereal box that you pretend aren't cookies while people judge you.

What sprang to mind when I saw this box was a bowl full of chopped up Lion bars. The thought was appealing and disgusting at the same time, but I'm pleased to announce that Lion cereal is not like that. It's basically made up of three different flavoured cereal pieces. There's regular old cereal, caramel and chocolate. The biscuity part of the bar is obviously represented by the crunchiness of the cereal itself, but all in all it doesn't taste too much like a Lion bar. Why you'd want to eat Lion bars for breakfast though is beyond me, and if you did you wouldn't be buying cereal, you'd just be buying Lion bars because you have no shame.

So as a cereal it's not bad. Perhaps if they released it under another name it would avoid the expectation associated with making a cereal form of a chocolate bar. The taste is quite nice though, it's a rare treat to find some caramel flavouring in a breakfast bowl. The crunchiness is also satisfying, and the cereal didn't succumb to sogginess at a fast rate. If you're after something different, it's definitely worth a go.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Today's Review: Tymbark Apple Mint Juice

I was feeling in the mood for something different today while food shopping, so I took a quick glance at the "ethnic" aisle, where I laid eyes upon a fancy juice in a glass bottle. Only 50p too, bargain. Apparently there was meant to be an apple and cherry flavour too, but they were all gone, so apple mint it was.

I'm not generally a fan of mint in things, and the thought of having mint in a drink was pretty off-putting, but I am always willing to try new things. Thankfully it wasn't a bad experience. The mintiness is certainly not overwhelming. You can taste it, but it's clear that this is an apple juice first and foremost. It wasn't too refreshing, something just didn't sit right with me as far as the mint was concerned, but that's my own personal taste. But it was quite nice. It's like drinking apple juice, but with a minty fresh feeling afterwards, like you've just brushed your teeth.

So if you like your drinks minty, but not too minty, grab yourself a Tymbark.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 19 September 2011

Today's Review: Being Locked In Blockbuster Past Closing

I'm currently waiting to open the doors of the store for the Gears Of War 3 midnight launch. Probably won't be too busy, but for now it's quiet.

Apart from the music I have on over the PA of course. So that's cool. In fact, if a zombie apocalypse happened right now I'd be quite safe. There are metal shutters on either door, various sugary snack foods that don't go off for a while, and a shit ton of movies and games to keep me occupied until the power grid goes down.

So yeah, there are many worse places to be locked in. But my experience will only be short-lived, but quite sweet.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Today's Review: Something Borrowed

This movie has been out for a while, but I've been avoiding it because it didn't really look that great, or interesting. But tonight I took the plunge, because why not? I was in the mood for a lighthearted romantic movie.

That is exactly what I got. Something Borrowed follows Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), whose best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson) is getting married soon. Trouble is, she's secretly in love with the groom, Dex (Colin Egglesfield) and has been for years. Apparently he feels the same way too, as it's a few weeks before the wedding and Dex decides to make a move on her. Oh no, now their feelings about each other are out and there are plenty of awkward situations for them to be in while they attempt not to let Darcy know what happened. What could possibly happen in the end? Place bets now.

It's okay for our main character to sleep with her best friend's fiance though, because it's clear from the start that Darcy is a total bitch, mostly because she acts like a total bitch, and several of the characters comment on her bitchiness. She's always trying to get one up on Rachel, and steal the limelight, so it's totally cool to hate her, guys, especially as her character develops into even more of a bitch as the movie goes on. There's also some comic relief in the form of Ethan (John Krasinski), Rachel's best man friend, as he tried to avoid the attention of a crazy woman and provide moral support for Rachel's situation. 

I'm going to give spoilers right now, because it's the only way to get across how shallow and predictable this movie is. Don't read if you want to be surprised, but I can guarantee you won't be. 

Of course Rachel ends up with Dex, even though they spend the better part of two hours pussyfooting around, in the will they won't they stage. But first we're forced to endure many pointless things, like several weekend beach trips where Rachel gets sick of watching Dex and Darcy be together and then mopes. Once is enough people, we get the picture. There's also the revelation near the end that Ethan, who has moved to London, has in fact loved Rachel for a long time, which is easily guessed, but there really was no clear indication in the rest of the movie. I was convinced he was just there for comic relief. Even so, this twist isn't even necessary, because he says Rachel should go get her man anyway, and Rachel says "Okay, thanks", leaving him sad and alone in London. You don't see him for the rest of the movie. Everything winds up quite well for the other characters, but it's safe to assume that Ethan got massively depressed and threw himself in the Thames.

There's really not much else to say about the movie, hence the spoilers. The acting is bland, the locations would be nice if there weren't random shots of logos and branded stores. The plot is predictable, and the film drags on for way too long because of this. It's almost two hours long, but if they cut out all the unnecessary shit they could have been done in an hour and a half. I don't know whether to call it a romantic comedy either, because there wasn't really anything funny in it,apart from Ethan's ramblings, which pretty much made him Jim from the US version of The Office. It's just a big stinking pile of average. So if you want to rot your brain of an evening, go for this one.

My rating: 2/5

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Today's Review: Not Having Anything To Review Because You've Been At Work All Day

I started work at 11am today, and got home at about 10pm. Normally there's a point in the day where I watch something, or eat something, and can give a nice little review of it when I get home. But since I've been at work all damn day, I've just been working all day. Sure, I ate some food, but it was chicken and some pastries, so nothing special. I could certainly review my job or some other aspect of it, but that's some dangerous ground to tread on, and to be honest it would take me a long time to form an adequate balanced review of my work place.

So instead I am sitting here at 11pm, with nothing to write about, feeling at a loss for words. Except for tonight, obviously, as I am reviewing my situation. I guess you could say I have writer's block, but that's only because I have just been doing the same old thing I do every day, with nothing new or interesting to show for it. But don't worry, I'm sure I'll find something tomorrow, even if it is a random item. For now though, I am pretty drained, so I shall just say that having nothing to review sucks a bag of balls.

My rating: 0/5

Friday, 16 September 2011

Today's Review: Arthur

There's certainly nothing like a good remake. I haven't seen the original Arthur, but Wikipedia informs me that it received "universal acclaim". I probably would have enjoyed it more than this then.

Arthur stars Russell Brand as Arthur Bach, the son of a wealthy lady, Vivienne (Geraldine James), who has a $950m fortune that Arthur just likes to blow on frivolous stuff because he's a drunken playboy who never received enough love and care from his mummy or something like that. Btu people are starting to get a bit weary of Arthur's antics, and don't want to invest their money on a woman whose heir is a complete jackass, so Vivienne decides to marry him off to her assistant Susan (Jennifer Garner), in order to force him to grow up, and also to given control of the company to Susan so Arthur doesn't screw it up. Arthur doesn't want to be tied down to a woman he doesn't love though, because he likes having all the sex with drunken sluts and stuff. But with a threat of being cut off he reluctantly agrees. But by some sheer stroke of luck, he comes across a free spirited woman from Queens, Naomi (Greta Gerwig) the very next day and falls in love with her. Presumably because she's quirky and wears a bright yellow jacket. But now whatever will he do?

While Arthur may share some similarities with its previous version, this movie pretty much is all about Russell Brand being Russell Brand. He prances around as usual, acting drunk, as usual, and spouting random stuff that can at times be funny, as usual. I'm not sure if he's actually acting anymore. He's had so many of these roles that it seems like they just ask him to show up and talk for a few hours and then build the rest of the movie around him. Don't get me wrong, he can be quite funny and charming at time, but only occasionally. The rest of the time it just feels like he's trying to hard to be completely off the wall, and just comes off looking weird.

His character isn't all that great anyway. We're supposed to empathise with him, but really Arthur is a complete jackass. He throws money at every single problem that comes his way, and even when he falls in love with Naomi most of their encounters are so awkward it's hard to see their relationship going anywhere. I know a certain amount of improvisation went into the filming, but when this quirky couple are together they're just bouncing random stuff off each other rather than saying anything to advance their relationship.

Still, there are some funny moments, but you do have to wade through a lot of completely random stuff to get there. Garner does an alright job as the slightly crazy Susan, who, surprise surprise, has ulterior motives, because she needs to be evil so we don't care about her. Helen Mirren probably turns in the best performance besides Brand's as his nanny, Hobson, and she provides most of the humbling moments for Arthur where you actually almost start caring about him. The plot is predictable, but I wasn't really expecting it to be any other way really. It is fun to make a game out of how many plot points you can guess with complete accuracy though. All in all, I know it's supposed to be a feel good film, so I won't hold that too much against it.

Arthur isn't an awful film, it's just very unrefined. I know a lot of people like the whole ad-libbing thing in their movies because it really can produce some fantastic results. But they really went overboard with this one, and random dialogue is a largely intrusive factor in this movie, and does little to advance what little plot there is, and instead almost engulfs it. Russell Brand certainly plays a unique character, and this probably would have been a good thing if he hadn't already played the same character in other movies. At this point though, it is starting to get a bit old. If you're looking for a light-hearted, kinda funny movie though, this one won't really do you wrong. Just don't expect to be amazed.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Today's Review: Skittles Crazy Cores

I am a sucker for new variations in sweets. Especially when they're reduced in price, and especially when they say "crazy" in the title. So imagine my joy when I found these new Skittles sitting in the aisle, at half price no less. Soon after they were all up in my mouth.

There have been quite a few variations of Skittles. The sour ones are pretty common and awesome, but I've also dabbled in some imported tropical variety, and some kind of other theme that I forget the specifics of. All of them have been pretty awesome, because Skittles are pretty awesome in themselves. They're always very juicy, and very moreish. Crazy cores are no exception.

What makes them crazy? Well, each colour Skittle has two flavours, both in the shell and the chewy centre if the picture is to be believed.I have yet to nibble off a shell to see if it's true, because I cannot be bothered to invest much time in it, and I don't really care that much. I certainly would if one of the two flavours was disgusting, but these are right on the money. In the lineup we have mango and peach, cherry and lemonade, melon and berry (which berry I'm not sure), blue raspberry and lemon, and strawberry and watermelon. I was skeptical about whether they could pull it off at first, and it may be due to the power of suggestion, but each colour tastes pretty much exactly how it says on the bag. Except for the cherry and lemonade, which tastes more like a cherry bakewell. But still, they got the cherry right.

So if you're a fan of Skittle and want to change up the game a little bit, grab yourself a bag of Crazy Cores. They have that same Skittle-y juicy taste, and the new flavours are awesome.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Today's Review: The Gunstringer

Since I started this blog I have realised that games are a hell of a lot harder to review than anything else. For food, you just have to eat it. For movies, you just spend two hours of your life watching something. Perhaps you may miss minor plot points because you're too busy making up witty things to put in your review, but no biggie. But games are bastards, especially the massive ones that take ages to finish. I only play games in the late hours when everyone ghoes to bed, and while I can still finish a game in a steady week or two, by the time I've gotten round to finishing it everyone else already has it and a review seems quite pointless. Plus I may only have gone through the game one way of several, and can't be bothered to do it all over again, so it's hard to form a proper critique of everything the game has to offer. The few times I have reviewed games on this blog I have often only scratched the surface, and therefore have probably given a terrible and biased review.

But to hell with it this time, because The Gunstringer is awesome. Even though I have played it for less than an hour I feel I need to shout from the hills: "Hey everybody, there is a good Kinect game out!" The Gunstringer is the latest offering from Twisted Pixel, the people behind Splosion Man and Comic Jumper, the latter of which I haven't played, the former of which I have. Their style is quirky, humorous and original, which is probably the exact kind of people you want making a game for your quirky and original console peripheral.

The game starts with a video of a puppet show being set up. The audience is in place, the props are ready, all that remains is for you to pick up the main character's marionette. With a flick of your left hand the story begins. You play as the titular Gunstringer, an awesome looking skeletal cowboy whose old posse left him for dead. He is now on a mission to deliver them justice, armed with his sharp shooting pistol. After you find and deflate the Wavy Tube Man with ease, it's off to find the rest of your victims.

The game mostly plays like an on rails shooter. You can move the Gunstringer left and right using your left hand, and jump by moving it upwards, while your right hand selects targets and pull the trigger with a flick of the wrist. The game suggests you turn your right hand into a finger gun, and while this isn't necessary, it is fun. The gameplay does change up quite frequently though, briefly changing into a cover based shooter, a side scrolling platformer or a vehicle section. The stages themselves are quite short, but the gameplay switches up often enough to really keep it fresh so you never get bored.

The visuals are awesome. Glimpses of the audience from the beginning can be seen in the background at times, and the props range from authentic looking buildings and barrels to paper cut townsfolk and beer can horses. Often massive real life hands drop in to throw down obstacles and smash others. The graphics are crisp, the characters have great detail, overall it's just a great game to look at.

But of course, this is all a show, and it wouldn't be complete without some input from the audience. People cheer you on as you aim and shoot, and boo if you get hit or screw up in any other way. There's also an old time cowboy narrator whose lines are wonderfully written and delivered, injecting large amounts of humour into the events, or simply telling you the accomplishments you pulled off with your finger gun.

What of the gameplay? This is Kinect after all, and I'm sure a lot of people are still a bit skeptical about how well it all works. The truth is it's not perfect, but it's very easy to control, and not a huge amount of mistakes were noticeable. The left hand maneuvering is a tad off, sometimes overreacting, sometimes not at all. Perhaps it takes some getting used to in order to negotiate all the obstacles, but I found myself smashing into things when my hand was clearly trying to avoid them, or not jumping after a large flick of the wrist. The right hand control can't really be faulted. The crosshair follows your movement perfectly, and the targets are automatically picked out for you to easily dispatch.

So yes, The Gunstringer is the first Kinect game I have actually considered buying on release date. It has awesome visuals, original and fluid gameplay and a great sense of humour. While I've only played through the first of five acts, and haven't even scratched the surface of the extras you can buy for it, I can only assume that this will make the game more awesome than it already is. So while the control may be a little bit off at times, this is a must play for anyone who owns a Kinect.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Today's Review: Pirate Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Captain Jack is back, not that anyone really expected him to come back after they wrapped up the first trilogy, but hey, the theme park ride that this franchise is based off clearly provides enough inspiration for four movies. Okay, this one was based on a book as well, but you catch my drift. Perhaps this dead horse has been flogged enough?

Apparently not, and apparently Johnny Depp somehow needed more money, or just really likes pretending to be a pirate, because where Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley turned up their noses, Depp willingly jumped into his Sparrow costume once again. Geoffrey Rush also returns as Captain Barbossa, so that's quite nice, and the inclusion of Penelope Cruz is a nice touch too.

On Stranger Tides finds Jack Sparrow working at different times alongside and against Barbossa, and also the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane), as they both rush to find the location of the fountain of youth before some filthy Spaniards get to it first. How Sparrow got into this mess is a little unclear. He's first approached by the king, then he escapes and meets his former flame, Angelica (Cruz), who manages to knock him out and put him on Blackbeard's ship. I guess Sparrow's only real motivation for finding the fountain is so he doesn't get killed by a funky voodoo doll that Blackbeard somehow has the ability to make, but off everyone sets, magically knowing the secret formula for unlocking the fountain. They have to capture a live mermaid and find a lost ship that is apparently very easily found, but it's all a part of the journey really.

The truth is, On Stranger Tides expects you to just accept a lot of things, because if they actually took the time to explain anything or add any sense of realism to the search they'd probably have to add a couple more hours to the movie. So yes, all three parties know exactly where to go and what to do, and they're all setting off to find the fountain at the same time. Yes, Blackbeard may be a regular menacing pirate, but his sword is magic and can make ropes tie people up. You may ask why, but why not? Most of the time I spent watching this movie I found myself asking "How did they get there?", or "How do they know what to do?", or "When is this going to be over?". Every time I found myself asking a question like that though, the movie seemed to be saying "I know you're confused, and this is all really stupid, but look, Johnny Depp is about to say something witty and stagger around a bit, and that's all that matters really". Then Johnny Depp said something irritating and did his wobbly thing that isn't really fun anymore. He looks like he has a serious problem.

I would comment on the pacing of the movie, but I couldn't really work it out. It sure is fast paced, but they seem to have left out so many explanations of things that it feels like I slept through several scenes that probably wrapped everything up and added up to a nicely planned movie. The fight scenes are silly, with several men with swords and guns often succumbing to a wobbly pirate armed with just ropes and sometimes various foodstuffs. Mind you, they're kind of fun to watch, it does bring back good memories of the first couple of movies, with the well thought out action sequences, it's just that these ones don't really have the same impact when they're mostly broken up by someone shouting.

Visually you can't really fault it though. The locations are great, the costumes are as awesome as ever. The actors certainly do a good job too, Rush is still good as Barbossa, and McShane plays quite a menacing Blackbeard, and Depp really puts his all into reprising Jack Sparrow, it's just the character's kind of worn his welcome. Despite all the messiness and unexplained bits and pieces, there certainly is an alright movie in here, they just need to get rid of some of the crap clogging it up. Still, it's certainly a lot better than At World's End.

My rating: 2/5

Monday, 12 September 2011

Today's Review: Dead Island

I am aware that my reviews for the past week have mostly been short ones about things I have snacked on, and devoid of the few movies I normally review a week. There is a reason for that, which is the fact that I haven't watched any movies because I've been playing too much Dead Island.

After launching itself upon the public with possibly the best teaser trailer ever, everyone was very excited about this game, myself included. But I ignored all the other stuff that was released for it, be it gameplay videos or other trailers. I knew I was probably going to buy it, and that was based on that trailer alone, not really the best decider. But at work I can rent out the new games a couple of days before release to try them out, so Dead Island promptly found its way into my XBox.

Dead Island is basically Borderlands with zombies, and with a little bit of Fallout 3 thrown in. You play as one of four characters who has woken up in the midst of a zombie outbreak on a tropical resort island. You turn out to be immune to the virus (glad they actually explained that one), so naturally you become the errand boy for various survivors dotted around the place. So of course there are lots and lots of quests to complete, be they fetch missions, escort missions, or various others.

If you haven't played Borderlands or Fallout 3, Dead Island is basically an action RPG. You run around, killing zombies and completing missions for experience points, which allows you to level up your abilities and turn you into a badass zombie killing machine. Of course, you'll also need weapons, and this is where the comparison to Borderlands becomes even more apparent. There are several types of weapon to be found, mostly of the melee variety, be they machetes, hammers or baseball bats. But each weapon has a unique name and set of attributes, and they can be upgraded and repaired to be more powerful. Yes, that's right, repaired. When your weapons first start to wear out it's reminiscent of Dead Rising, but upon realising you can repair them using your hard earned dollars that you've looted off corpses, the Fallout 3 survival element kicks in. If you don't keep your weapons in good condition then you're going to be screwed pretty easily unless you're good at scavenging some more.

Of course one of the main features of the game is the zombies themselves. Like many other zombie themed games, there are several types of zombie that come after you. You have the standard shufflers, but also ones that run straight at you and start tearing you to shreds. There are also special zombies like the massive Thug or the exploding Suicider. Each zombies is gruesomely detailed, and the action can become quite intense when they start to gang up on you and try to tear you a new one. Thankfully, with the right weapons, their body parts are just soft and squishy things just waiting to be hacked off or pummeled to a pulp with a blunt instrument. The blood flows rapidly, and body parts fly all over the place, giving that authentic feel to your personal zombie apocalypse.

The locations are nicely varied too. I am only halfway through the game at the moment, but starting out in the tropical beach resort, I found the map to be quite huge, with plenty to explore. After a while though, you move on to a large city further inland, and suddenly those sunny open spaces, beaches and roads are replaced with grimy streets more jam packed with zombies than you ever imagined before. The difficulty curve can get a little intense here, with zombies running at you from all directions, but you can either stand your ground, fight, and perhaps be rewarded with lots of dollars, or sprint away and hope no one's fast enough to follow you.

Like many RPGs nowadays, the main quest only scratches the surface of what this game has to offer. The main missions can be quite long in themselves, but it wouldn't take long to get through them all. The real bulk of the game comes in the form of the side missions that other survivors give you, and following them can easily reveal more strongholds and missions close to the location you're sent to. I am a completionist myself, and it's amazing how much time you can spend doing side mission after side mission, uncovering more and more as you go form place to place. If I were ignoring them, I probably would have finished the game by now, but as it stands the bulk of my time has been spent helping other people and levelling up my character with new skills, such as the awesome head stomp I just obtained. The good thing about Dead Island is that even if you just blazed through the main story, the game wouldn't hold it against you. The enemies level up with you, so if you're not harvesting experience points then the game isn't going to get exponentially harder.

There's also a four player co-op mode in case you can't handle the apocalypse on your own. I've only dabbled in the online mode, but from what I can see it's pretty smooth. You can complete quests together, and while the zombies become stronger based on how many people are playing, it's easy enough to double team them and overpower even the strongest enemies.

But every game is not without its flaws, though with Dead Island it's mostly in the form of glitches. Sometimes I've become stuck in place while running, but mostly it's glitched map and quest markers that kind of jar my enjoyment. The trail may lead you in the complete opposite direction to where you're supposed to be going, or tell you to go to the other side of the map when you should be turning in the mission where you're currently standing. Probably the most annoying is when you're selling items in the shop, and the cursor jumps to another random item every time. It's almost made me give up on selling things. There is a cool glitch for duplicating any weapon you have, but I obviously don't use that because that would be tantamount to cheating....

So yes, Dead Island is an awesome game. The quests are involving, and can often lead you on several hour long tangents in order to discover everything around. The zombies are greatly designed, and can become terrifyingly overwhelming at times, but that's just how zombie apocalypse survival should be. The graphics are stunning, and the locations are beautifully presented. I've sunk several hours into this game, and the only thing stopping me playing it right now is the fact that I'm really tired from playing too much Dead Island. Yes, the game has some glitches, probably more than usual for a new release, but the game itself is wonderful, and the glitches will most likely be fixed within a week anyway. If you like zombies, get Dead Island. If you like RPGs, get Dead Island. Hell, if you like games, get Dead Island.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Today's Review: The Three Chocolate Chip Cookies That Have Been Sitting On My Fridge For Two Weeks

We had a party a couple of weeks ago for Amelia's fourth birthday, and many snack items were purchased. Some were consumed on the day, and most were finished up soon after that. But one foodstuff remained, in the form of an almost empty packet of Asda chocolate chip cookies atop my fridge. Often I was told to eat them, or else they would be thrown away, and every time I would vow to eat them. Whenever I saw them, however, I was never in the mood. But tonight I returned from work and saw the little guys sitting there. Three little amigos abandoned, just waiting for someone to love them. Love them with his mouth. So I did just that.

You'd think that after two weeks of sitting in the same opened packet the biscuits would be a bit stale, somewhat soft and unappealing. But these cookies have retained their crunchiness, and provided a short yet satisfying snacking session. These cookies were small, but well preserved. So if you're ever wary of those cookies you've had sitting around for a little while, just remember this review, and know that those cookies are still good, and they're just waiting to fill your mouth with their chocolatey load. If you think I'm being dirty you're just strange, cookies aren't sexy.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Today's Review: Haribo £1 Tangfastics

Despite creating perhaps the most awful TV advert ever, I have not lost my faith in Haribo. I can hardly remember a day when Haribo was not in my life. I do though, because I distinctly remember them first coming out, and that was pretty awesome. Well, prices have gone up since those days of my childhood, but these new packs that are all over the place are bigger than the norm, and they have "£1" printed on them, so they have to be sold for a pound. Brilliant.

I was drawn to the Tangfastics this evening, mainly because I fancied some Tangfastics, but I was also curious to try this new Rhubarb & Custard splat they've put in the bags. There were only two in the bag I had, and they were pretty damn nice. Not so fizzy, but the flavour is strong and pretty authentic. It was really like I was eating a traditional rhubarb and custard sweet, but in chewy form.

I soon found that the rest of the bag also suffered from the lack of fizziness. I can handle a sour sweet, and I usually love the mild yet zingy flavour Tangfastics normally get me. But for some reason this bag was entirely lacking. I'm not sure if it was just a dud bag, or whether Haribo have had to skimp on the flavouring in order to get these big ol' bags sold for £1. Either way, I don't like it.

So if you like your Tangfastics satisfyingly fizzy, you can try your luck, but you may be disappointed. As for the new flavour, it's not really worth spending too much money to see what it tastes like, you're better off just buying a bag of regular rhubarb and custard sweets, 'cause the taste is the same. If you're in the mood for some Tangfastics on the side though, knock yourself out.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 9 September 2011

Today's Review: Going To Bed At 7:30

There's nothing wrong with going to bed early, no shame in it at all. There's no need for me to feel like a child, even though my children are still awake in their bedroom. I know I could outlast them if I tried, but I'm calling it a night.

12 hours of sleep seems to be what I need at the moment. Start fresh. A Saturday lie in could have the same effect, but my kids don't know the concept, so going to bed at 7:30 is my only option. It is not the most desirable, but I'm gonna go ahead and do it anyway. 'Cause sometimes you just need to sleep.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Today's Review: The Official Blogger App

Hallelujah, the Lord has delivered. Oh wait, not the Lord, the internet. After lamenting the lack of this app in an earlier review, here I am writing a blog post on the official Blogger app. Seems quite snazzy, the only snag so far is I almost keep walking into things, but I can hardly blame the app for that.

This app is very good for me. I rarely get to sit at a computer until after 11pm most work days, but now I can write proper entries from my phone, with pictures and no spelling mistakes and everything. I could even do it on my break.

Hmm, I just went to add an image, but it appeared in a separate bar underneath the writing space. So who knows where it will end up. Anyway, it's the earliest picture I have in my camera roll, and it was easy to add. But if the placing is wrong you lose a point, Blogger.

All in all, this seems like a pretty neat app. I can't see a way to look at my blog stats though, as I am wont to do when I want to feel popular, but this is the first version, things can only get better. There aren't many text options either, I can't make words impossibly huge or change colours willy nilly, but I rarely do that anyway because apparently I am quite boring. But this is a good first try, Blogger. Let's see what else you got.

My rating: 4/5 (Or 3/5 if the picture ain't right)

EDIT: What the hell is this? The picture is right at the end, and so huge it covers up the sidebar, and apparently the title doesn't know what an apostrophe is. Shame on you Blogger app, now you get a 2/5

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Today's Review: Cheesy Chips

It was a cold, damp Wednesday night. I left work slightly later than usual, and after a chat with my colleague about our old after work eating habits, I was on a mission. A mission to obtain cheesy chips. But tonight it was raining, and it was getting slightly too heavy to walk down the street unprotected. I swiftly put up my umbrella, but the wind turned it inside out too many times for it to be practical. Thankfully the rain had died down to a slight drizzle, so my quest could continue.

My destination was only a few streets away, but first I had to navigate through the drunken crowds that accumulate in Chelmsford on a Wednesday night. Around the stumblers and shouters around the former Que Pasa, and the former Edwards, through the inexplicably long queue to get into Chicago's. But after a few minutes, and no drunken shouts in my direction, I had arrived at Mrs. Cod.

I glanced at the corner of the window where cheesy chips used to be advertised, only to find out that this establishment now offered an Indian head massage for £10. I wondered if they had a back room or if they just laid you down awkwardly next to the fryer, but there were more urgent things to do. Inside I went, only to glance up at the menu and find that this succulent dish now cost £2.50. When I last went it was but £1.80, but I guess that's inflation for you. Or greed, either way, I was now determined to get my hands on some cheesy chips.

For a while I gazed in wonder at this deceptively disgusting mess. This is true English cuisine. If chips ain't enough, go ahead and dump a load of cheese on top, because cheese is scientifically proven to make everything taste better. (citation not needed) After smothering my dish with half ketchup, half burger sauce (see aforementioned reasoning as to why), I was on my merry way.

The chips taste like chips, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're ordering cheesy chips and not expecting some normal tasting chips underneath it all then you're probably a little bit deranged. The cheese, however, was a little bit different. Not your average cheddar, but more like a cheesestring or a stuffed crust, but completely melted down. I often see snippets of the preparation of this fine dish, and before they shove it in the microwave they get the cheese from somewhere, I'm just never too sure where. 

Well, after a few minutes of looking like a chip eating hobo I was done. While stringles are a problem a lot of the time, I mostly avoided them tonight, although there's nothing more fun than walking down the street feeling like a cheesy walrus. Actually, there are a lot of things that are more fun than that. But with the roof of my mouth ever so slightly burned, and my stomach almost uncomfortably full, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed this tray of cheesy chips. The cheese is just melted enough to twirl around your plastic fork, instead of pooling at the bottom of the tray like radioactive slime. The chips were nicely hot, given an extra heat boost from the time spent in the microwave. If you ever want chips, just go for cheesy chips. What have you got to lose, except the time spent in hospital recovering from a heart attack in a few years? So worth it.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Today's Review: Lucozade Energy

Recently I've been having a strange kind of headache when I've touched certain parts of my scalp. I figured it was a bit concerning, but since it only really affected me when I brushed my hair I mostly didn't think about it. Then I started getting pretty bad full on headaches a few days ago, so I went to the doctor, who prescribed me some anti-epileptic, mood-stabilising medication. Which makes sense.

What does this have to do with Lucozade? Well, these pills have made me feel not that great, quite nauseous in fact. So what was my first thought when figuring out how to stop myself feeling ill? Grab a bottle of Lucozade of course.

Lucozade Energy is an energy drink, but it's not like those other energy drinks that rely on intense names and vast amounts of caffeine. Lucozade comes in many flavours. There's an "Original" flavour that I guess tastes like glucose, it's not that great. The orange flavour, though, is amazing. Not only does it taste good, it seems to have awesome healing properties when I drink it. At the age of 16 I found that drinking Orange Fanta used to settle my stomach, but in recent years I've learnt that a bottle of Lucozade can simultaneously relieve stomach aches, headaches and nausea. I don't know if it's the dose of glucose and caffeine or whether it's purely psychosomatic, but Lucozade is my go to drink for when my tummy's not feeling good. I'm not sure if anyone else feels that way, but I'd like to find out.

Of course, there are other flavours to consider, all of them do me good, just not as much as orange. They still taste awesome though. Apple is maybe a bit too sour, but the latest additions of tropical, cherry and blackcurrant are all really nice. So if you're looking for a quick boost, or a chance to see if Lucozade has magical healing properties for anyone besides me, pick one up, I doubt you'll regret it.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 5 September 2011

Today's Review: The Sudoku Cube

I can't figure this out. I got it as a present a while back, and haven't really picked it up much. I had a bit of a crack at it today, but to no avail. I am quite good at Sudoku, but I have never solved a Rubik's Cube in my life. This is like a Rubik's Cube, but a helluva lot harder. Or so it looks. There aren't just solid blocks of colour on each side, there are the number 1-9. and they must be arranged in some kind of order, I don't know, I didn't read the instruction properly, if it even came with them. I don't think making each side read perfectly from 1-9 counts, because there'd still be the same numbers in any given line.

I don't know. It baffles me at the moment. But I know if my intellect soars due to a freak genetic accident, or if I'm bored enough to work out the method of doing it, this cube will keep me entertained for a while.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Today's Review: Water For Elephants

See, Robert Pattinson doesn't just star in tween love stories about vampires and stuff, he also stars in other kinds of love stories. Water For Elephants is a little bit more than just a love story though.

Pattinson plays Jacob, a Polish American man who is on the verge of finishing his veterinary degree when his parents are killed in an accident. Since they left huge debts, the bank forecloses on their home, leaving Jacob homeless and without much direction. so instead of finishing his studies he decides to go and jump onto a train. As it so happens the train belongs ot the Benzini Brothers circus, and the employees who discover him let him do odd jobs around the place as the circus travels along. Before long though, he is summoned to meet the ring master, August (Christoph Waltz), who orders Jacob to be thrown off the train until Jacob reveals is area of study.

Begrudgingly, August takes him on as the circus vet. While Jacob deals with a poorly horse, he meets August's wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), a wonderful woman who seems quite at the mercy of her powerful husband. Naturally, Jacob begins to fall in love with her and realise that August is more and more of a dick, especially when he buys an elephant for the the troupe, and begins to abuse it when it doesn't do what it's told. Cue a dangerous liaison between Jacob and Marlena, that could end rather badly if August finds out about it.

As always, Waltz plays a fantastic bad guy. He switched almost instantaneously between charming and deadly, but at all times maintains a very menacing presence.  I wish the same could be said for the other two leads. Don't get me wrong, Pattinson has risen in my esteem, and Witherspoon carries on the good dramatic presence she established with Walk The Line, but the chemistry between them is just not that great. The actual scenes that show the development of their relationship aren't really too striking. You really do end up rooting for the couple, but this is mainly due to the fact that August is a guy you can really hate.

The movie itself is paced a bit strangely. While the beginning parts showing the life of the circus are certainly engrossing, the main dramatic parts of the film are kind of squished into the last half hour. It could well be that that's how the book also portrays it, but the start of the movie seems quite drawn out compared to the amount of things that are crammed into the final moments.

The look of the movie is stunning though. The circus itself looks awesome, and the animals and costumes dotted around really give off an authentic feeling. The animal stars do a fantastic job as well, especially the elephant. All in all Water For Elephants is a good movie. It could have been great if more emphasis was placed on the actual developing romance, but the setting and cast, especially Waltz, really drew me in and made me enjoy a movie I wasn't expecting to enjoy.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Today's Review: Red Or Black?

I must confess I got a bit suckered into this one. The ads didn't look too bad, with daredevil motorcyclists jumping over ramps and shit, all the fireworks and deep announcer voices. "Red Or Black?" looked pretty awesome.

I've been watching old game shows on Challenge the past few days, and have been reminded of such classics as Family Fortunes, Catchphrase, Crystal Maze and The Generation Game. Those were all awesome shows, and at least relied on some skill on the part of the player, not so much in Family Fortunes, but definitely in The Crystal Maze. But as I grew up these old shows faded away, and while we still see some things in the form The Cube or Hole In The Wall, there's nothing really that challenging around anymore.

"Red Or Black?" is no different. Following hot on the heels of the inexplicably popular Deal Or No Deal, it's one of those "make a guess and you might win" kind of games. Basically there are a shitload of people, who each have to choose either red or black. Then some event happens involving red or black, and the winner determines the half of the contestants that goes through to the next round. I say half, because although more than half may want to choose the same colour, they're pretty much forced to go half and half throughout.

The show started off quite nicely with the aforementioned daredevil bikers, then we saw David Hasselhoff being launched into the sky by Louis Walsh, because that's just what is classed as entertainment nowadays. All of this had been filmed before today though, so when we finally got to the live part with the few remaining contestants things suddenly got a lot more boring. Especially the bit where Leona Lewis sang a song and then opened a briefcase. Ooh, how dangerous and exciting.

The bit that made me laugh was when the people in the show congratulated people for getting through, saying it has not been easy. It's been pretty easy for them actually, they've just had to stand there and say one of two words throughout the entire process. They're probably the most lazy game show contestants to have ever existed. At least a nice guy got through to the final, and actually won the million pound prize that's up for grabs each evening it's on. He did just have to choose between red and black for one last time though, with the decider this time in the very subtle form of a massive roulette wheel. In fact, Wikipedia states "Simon Cowell said that Red or Black? was inspired by the game of roulette". Well, I could've guessed that, Sherlock. No need to wave it in my face right at the end too.

"Red Or Black" is just boring. Despite the fireworks and stunts going on throughout it's still just a bunch of people standing around saying either "red" or "black" and then crying if they don't get their own way. I can't blame them too much though, a few of them don't seem like the kind of people who know what such alien concepts of "luck" and "statistics" are.

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 2 September 2011

Today's Review: My Trip To Legoland

I could review Legoland itself today, but my experience today has left me tired and infuriated, and I'm sure it's not representative of a regular day at Legoland. So instead I'll review this one trip in particular.

My parents were kind enough to offer to take us to Legoland before my father returns to Oman, trouble is he left half of his driving licence in said country several thousand miles away. So instead of the rental car we would have to take us there they procured some cheap train tickets. Here's a hint, going on a two and a half hour train journey with various changed is not the easiest thing to do with two small children. Still, we got to Windsor without much difficulty, trouble is we left home at 9am, so by the time we'd gotten the bus from Windsor station to Legoland itself, alongside the car traffic, it was after midday. With only six hours left until closing time, imagine my frustration at having to queue for tickets for over half an hour. I put this down to the customers, as we got through the transaction quite quickly, apparently most people don't know how to effectively buy tickets.

But soon we were in the park. After a spot of overpriced lunch we took the un-Lego looking train down to the bottom of the hill and went through Mini Land to get to some rides. Mini Land itself is pretty impressive, with a faithful small scale Lego model of London and several other places from around the globe. Both the kids liked to stop and stare and point out the trains and boats going around.

The rides were a bit annoying though. There was quite a bit of walking between them, and the wait times were quite long because there weren't many spaces on the carriages, or enough cars to go in. I know it's expected from a theme park, but I'd really forgotten how tiresome waiting is. We took Amelia to Disney World when she was around the same age Alex is now, and the waits seemed so much longer from looking after him. The lack of rides suitable for under 3s was a little disappointing too. I knew there probably wouldn't be a whole lot, but being used to Disney World and Adventure Island in Southend I thought there could've been a bit more. After much walking and waiting, we didn't get to go on many rides in the end, about five or six in total despite the closing hours being extended to 7pm.

We left slightly before that to go into the gift shop, but for some reason it was insanely hot in there, as if their air conditioning had not only broken, but decided to do the complete opposite of its purpose in life. After failing to convince Amelia to buy the more plentiful and cheap box of Lego blocks to start our collection, we left with a £50 Cars 2 Lego set (paid in part with some of her birthday money, we ain't spoiling our kids... too much). So yay, not a bad day overall, time to go home.

Oh wait, the last bus was at 5:30pm. Yeah, that makes sense, seeing as the park closes after that. What do we have to do now? Get in a six seater taxi. What's that? Massive traffic jam coming out of Legoland? Sure, why not? There's nothing more we like than paying a £30 taxi fare on top of the return bus tickets that are now useless. Thankfully, due to the power of my iPhone, I was able to effectively plan every train home whilst stuck in traffic, so the rest of the trip was relatively smooth. But since we left at just after 7pm and got home after 11, I wouldn't say it was the best trip ever. Kinda put a damper on the day really. Apart from the onion rings I got at Burger King. That was smart.

So it wasn't really the best trip. Took ages to get there and back, the queues were long, not many rides were ridden, but the kids seemed to enjoy it, so I guess it wasn't a total failure. Also, if you're going, I suggest you buy the £6 refillable souvenir cup, you will make your money back in regular drinks refills versus the extortionate prices they pay for separate bottles. Yeah, I'm super smart.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Today's Review: The "I'm ... weeks and craving ..." Facebook Status

Oh yes folks, it's that time again. Women were not satisfied with plastering the entirety of Facebook with random colours which apparently pertained to their bras, but shh, that's a secret! Now there's a new status floating around which is less cryptic but more annoying. Now they must state they are so many "weeks", and craving a particular kind of food. I've read one of the original chain messages, and apparently the variables are provided based on the date and month from the accompanying list, but I see that's been disregarded pretty quickly.

So basically women are taking it upon themselves to find it truly hilarious to make people think they're pregnant. I know I sound like a complete sexist right now, but it is only women doing it and it is truly annoying. A man putting that as his status would just be baffling.

But who should I be to get in the way of their fun? If they want to post stupid statuses on my wall I can't stop them. Of course the annoyance lies with the assumption that it will help raise awareness of breast cancer, like the aforementioned bra colour thing. Here's a hint ladies, posting a cryptic status that no one knows the meaning of only raises the awareness that you are a bit of a jackass. If you really want to raise awareness then just put your status as "Breast cancer exists and it's awful".

But for those who aren't providing various snack foods they're craving in an attempt to suddenly cure an illness, I suppose it's not so bad. It takes me less time to skip over the latest annoying viral cryptic update than it does to write a review about it, that's for sure, but I had no ideas for tonight and I thought I could be topical. So while these statuses do annoy me, it's not something I'd stand on my soap box for, it's easily ignored, and while hatred against it is probably justified, if you just ignore it it will eventually go away.

My rating: 2/5