Tuesday 31 January 2012

Today's Review: Tyrannosaur

That's a misleading poster. Perhaps even a misleading title. But it's symbolic, yo.

Tyrannosaur is both a depressing and uplifting movie. It certainly is interesting. Peter Mullan stars as Joseph, a man with quite a temper. After losing it a few times and later regretting acting like a dick, he finds refuge in a charity shop and the woman who works there, Hannah (Olivia Colman). She is unflinchingly nice and godly to Joseph, which at first he can't stand, but eventually he warms to her offer of friendship, in hopes that he can become a better person. Trouble is Hannah has troubles of her own in the form of her abusive husband, and as the two develop their relationship they reveal and learn to confront their true natures.

On the surface, this is a movie about a bunch of dicks. They shout, swear, threaten each other, and generally just behave like the scum of society. But really Tyrannosaur is a study on the human condition. Joseph is a man who has behaved badly in the past, regrets it greatly and wishes to overcome it, despite all the things that threaten to send him into a violent temper. Hannah is a woman who is forced to reevaluate her life in order to escape a potentially fatal situation in a dangerous relationship. Both have to learn to deal with rage in their own ways, and it becomes clear that things aren't always so black and white.

Mullan and Colman are wonderful in their roles. I can't fault them. Joseph's violent streaks are almost scary, but still I really grew to like his character based on his quiet, reflective moments. I've only ever seen Olivia Colman in comedic roles, but she handles Hannah's character very nicely, from the saccharine Christian temperament to the point where she begins to fight back.

While Tyrannosaur does drag in some places, it's reasonably well paced, and it's certainly a very emotional, thought provoking movie. If you like your hard hitting dramas, this one's for you.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 30 January 2012

Today's Review: Running Out Of Meds

Seeing as my MRI results won't be back for another couple of weeks, I am still on the meds prescribed to me quite a while ago now, Amitriptyline. Before I was put on them, I was pretty much getting a constant headache, in addition to a strange sore spot on top of my head. The Amitriptyline deals with the proper headaches though, so it's made life more bearable, apart from the times when I brush the top of my head and it hurts.

Trouble is, I was told to take the pills for six weeks, which should have led me up to my follow up appointment after the scan, but the pharmacist being the wonderful person they were only gave me enough pills for four weeks. There have been some days where I've missed a dose, and it hasn't harmed me too much, but seeing as I've now run out and haven't taken them for a few days, I'm in pain again. Hooray. The solution is, of course, to get an appointment with my doctor and get a repeat prescription. But the problem with doctors in this country is that they don't give a shit about you on the weekends, and on the weekday calling my surgery is like a furious television phone in competition with only a couple of lines open. If you don't start calling at 8am on the dot, chances are you won't get in the queue quick enough to be given an appointment for that day. Not that I've tried to get one yet, I've got that down nicely enough, but I wanted to sleep today instead of sitting with a phone on my ear for ten minutes.

Yes, running out of meds sucks. In my case is causes pain, and it probably does in several other cases too. Still, it's not all that bad. The surgery is just up the road, so when I actually make a concerted effort to get some more pills, I'm sure the process won't be quite as tiring as I made out. But for now, I am a little annoyed.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 29 January 2012

Today's Review: Abduction

When I first heard about this movie I assumed it was about aliens. I guess I was wrong.

Abduction stars Taylor Lautner as Nathan, a teenager who is not a werewolf who lives in a nice neighbourhood with his loving parents. However, while researching for a school project he stumbles upon a secret about his past that suddenly brings a whole shitload of people out to try and grab him. So off Nathan runs, bringing along his hot class project partner in tow, because she is now in danger. I bet if he was teamed up with the fat loser kid he wouldn't bring him along.

Chases ensue, the plot is slowly uncovered, and Nathan manages to fight his way out of several altercations with his previous training in, uh, the high school wrestling team. But will the full truth ever be uncovered, and will Nathan ever stop running? Well, yes, obviously, otherwise the movie would have a very shitty ending.

Abduction is just a pretty average movie. I almost didn't write a review on it because there's really not too much to say. The acting is bland, the effects are okay and the action accompanying them is so so. For a movie that seems to be all about twists and turns, it seems like they ran out of ideas halfway through and just went with the theory of events they last came up with, so the movie just kind of cruises along at an average speed until it hits the end, which feels like a bit of a rip off.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Yes, there is a story there, and yes, it does all get wrapped up, somewhat. But it's just not very good. There are plenty more identity themed action movies out there that offer a lot more than this, but if you've seen all those, by all means give this a watch. Just don't expect to be blown away.

My rating: 2/5

Saturday 28 January 2012

Friday 27 January 2012

Today's Review: Warrior

I guess they called it Warrior because "The Fighter" was already taken, and "Men Punching People" didn't really sound right.

Warrior certainly seems like it's riding on the success of last year's similar fraternal style punch up The Fighter, but perhaps it deserves to be seen with a pair of fresh eyes. It stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as brothers Tommy and Brendan, who parted ways years before due to their abusive alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). Brendan went on to become a family man while Tommy joined the marines, but with Tommy now back in his hometown and Brendan needing some cash, they find themselves drawn to their old hobby of beating the crap out of people in MMA fights. With a high profile tournament coming up, it's up to each brother to prove their worth and come out on top, and perhaps try and heal old wounds along the way.

The three main characters are fantastic. I've been keeping my eye on Tom Hardy since he turned out an amazing performance in Bronson, and he hasn't disappointed me so far. While his character is very quiet and broody, Hardy's body movements and expressions make up for it, and his character progresses very nicely. Edgerton is great as the family man fighting to keep his family living in their house, coming up against all odds and struggling to win the fights and the forgiveness of his brother. Nolte plays the former alcoholic father, longing for forgiveness from his children, and the sadness he portrays in the role is very heartfelt.

Warrior is over two hours long, a little too long in my opinion. Still, all the time is put into building up the characters and their relationships before diving into the tournament itself, so it's good to see that this isn't just a fighting movie, it explores some very personal areas too, much like The Fighter did.

Warrior isn't perfect, but I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's got face punching for the men, naked muscly guys for the ladies, but it's also a good movie. Everyone's happy!

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 26 January 2012

Today's Review: What's Your Number?

I'm taking bets right now. Who can guess the ending to this movie? Come on, you might be really surprised. 

What's Your Number? is a romantic comedy that is pretty much like every other romantic comedy. Anna Faris plays Ally, a girl who likes to have fun with men, as in she likes to have sex with men. She's done 19 of them, and according to a magazine she read, women who sleep with more than 20 find it hard to get married later in life. Ally freaks out, seeing as she believes everything she reads in her stupid magazines, and realises that perhaps her soulmate has passed her by in the form of an ex. So with some help from her sexy neighbour, Colin (Chris Evans), she starts to track them down.

Yes, her sexy, womanising neighbour, who helps her track down all the men she used to date so she can go through awkward situations with them. Anyone who hasn't guessed how this movie turns out should get some serious schooling. So yes, What's Your Number is a pretty standard romantic comedy. Ally is an independent, fun loving girl with a quirky talent, both main characters go through some wonderful character changes and everything works out fine. 

Still, it's slightly entertaining. Some of the dialogue is quite funny, especially between Ally and Colin. It makes them slightly more likeable than if they talked about boring stuff, but then they're not too likeable to begin with, so it just makes them okay characters. 

If you like your regular generic romantic comedies, then this one will certainly fill the void until they release the next one in a week or so. But seeing as I just finished watching Crazy, Stupid, Love before writing this review, I know romantic comedies can be so much better. What's Your Number? is just not that great.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Today's Review: Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly

Yay, a new novelty chocolate from Cadbury. They've already got regular chocolate bars with bubbles in, but I guess they didn't think that was enough, they need to go all out on the bubbles, with a bubbly name and bubbly packaging

Bubbly chocolate too, that looks a little bit like piles. Look at it, it's not uniform, there are no pieces. You can't share it equally between people, so it must be assumed that you should eat the whole thing in one sitting. Anyway, how does it fare against bubbly chocolate king Aero?

It's quite nice. I chose the milk chocolate coated white chocolate flavour, which was a bit strange due to the mixture. While it certainly is bubbly, for me it has nothing on Aero chocolate, it's just too thick for my liking. If you don't like the taste of other brand chocolate, it's certainly worth a go, it does have that nice Cadbury taste. But compared with other bubbly chocolate such as Aero and Galaxy Bubbles, it doesn't quite cut it.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Today's Review: MRI Scans

I went for a head scan this morning, as I am clearly a medical marvel who has doctors baffled. My destination was a big ass MRI machine, which I have been in before, but purely for a psychological study on how left handed people use their brain differently.

The machine looks like that. I didn't take a picture of my one, I'd left my phone and ring in the waiting room because MRI scanners don't like metal. See that caged bit near the top of the bed? That's where my head went, before I was slid backwards into the ring. It's quite cramped in there, just enough room for your body and arms to go in. If you're claustrophobic and need an MRI scan, I would suggest trying to do something about that fear first. Or hey, just go for it. Flooding is sometimes the best way to deal with a phobia, except this machine makes a crapload of noise and is mostly used to find out what's wrong with you.

I was given the option of listening to music during my scan. I said no, but then I was told it would last 25 minutes and I didn't want to say "Oh bloody hell, in that case stick Radio 1 on." Anyway, in I went, and the machine booted up. It does make some odd noises. Probably still better than the music I would've been subjected to, I just pretended I was listening to some rudimentary dubstep.

Problem was, I was a little bit tired. I tried to keep my eyes open, but failing that I just decided to keep them closed and hope the noise would keep me awake. I had some pretty strange daydreams, and I don't remember any of them, but I don't think I properly fell asleep, just had a nice little doze. The first time I went in one of these I had to look at words and think of corresponding words, and I struggled to keep awake then. But this time all I had to do was lie there, so it was nice to have a little relaxation time. Gawd, I hope I didn't snore, they have mics in there...

Anyway, MRI scans aren't bad at all. Unless you're afraid of small spaces. But I would gladly go in there again and have a nice little scan doze. Hopefully without the medical problems that would require me to go in there. Perhaps one day when I'm a vampire who lives in a hospital for some reason I can use this as my futuristic coffin.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 23 January 2012

Today's Review: Shark Night

Each time I've gone to write the title for this movie, I've almost typed "Shark Knight". Now that I'd gladly watch.

Shark Night is a horror movie. With sharks. In 3D. There's really not much to say about the plot, because it's pretty much the same as every other generic horror movie out there. A bunch of college kids go to a remote luxury house in the middle of nowhere, in this case it's the middle of the bayou in Louisiana. Of course, the luxury house is on an island that anybody can get to, but the locals are friendly, so no one thinks of stealing all the boats and jetskis and shit that are lying around.

Anyway, the kids all start to whoop and holler about what an awesome time they're going to have, doing flips on jetskis and playing beer pong in swimwear, but all of a sudden a guy called Malik (way to avoid the black guy goes first stereotype, guys) gets his arm eaten by a shark. Why is there a shark in a lake? I don't know, they'll probably explain that later. What I want an explanation for is why, in an area with no mobile phone reception, at the luxury house of a rich family who own several forms of water transport and lots of lovely furniture, is there no landline? You'd think they'd at least pay out the money to get some form of communication with the mainland aside from flares and bonfires. This isn't the 80s anymore people.

Well, let's get back to the sharks. Sharks are probably the least threatening thing to ever be featured in a horror movie. Sure, they can swim fast, and they have big sharp teeth, but you know the shark's biggest weakness? They can't live out of water. If the aforementioned communication was set up, the friends could call for an airlift, tell people there's a goddamn shark in the water and the movie would be over. But this is a horror movie with sharks, so instead we're treated to several contrived reasons for the friends to go back in the water, and plenty more sharks are thrown into the midst with a pretty half hearted reason given as to why they're there in the first place.

The acting is as bland as you'd expect, even though all that's asked of the actors is to scream a lot and constantly go on about how they have to save their friends, or seek vengeance, or say "Huh, why are there sharks here?" The 3D is obviously a gimmick thrown in there, but it's still not bad to look at. At least I made it through to the end without switching off from sheer boredom, but seeing as this is a horror movie the lack of the regular amount of gore and boobies really makes this one suck quite hard. If you're looking for a nautical themed horror extravaganza, just go with Piranha.

My rating: 1/5

Sunday 22 January 2012

Today's Review: Melancholia

Hot off the heels of the genital mutilation extravaganza that was Antichrist, Melancholia is Lars Von Trier's latest deep and meaningful movie. But this time we're not talking about a fox with vox and hitting cocks with rocks (take that, Dr. Seuss), we're confronted with a literally world ending scenario.

Kirsten Dunst stars as Justine, a newly married lady who is attending her wedding reception at the mansion of her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her husband, John (Kiefer Sutherland). Everything is lovely, until their opinionated and obnoxious mother kicks up a fuss and Justine herself begins to descend into a bout of depression. As the family members try to pick up Justine's spirits, things begin to spiral a bit out of control.

Not as out of control as the parts of the movie that sandwich the wedding reception. There's a long, slow motion sequence at the beginning of the movie that shows the characters in various symbolic situations, and also portrays the Earth's demise as the planet Melancholia collides with it. On the back half of the movie we have a story set some time after the reception, as the Justine and her family gather at the mansion to see the rogue planet travel by Earth, but all is not well as Justine falls into a deeper depression, and it becomes apparent that Melancholia may not make a simple fly by after all.

Kirsten Dunst is great in this movie. Her descent from happy bride to a state of deep depression is greatly portrayed, from the moments of pure despair up to the calm, accepting state of mind as the possibility of extinction emerges. Melancholia, after all, is a movie that attempts to portray a realistic depiction of depression, and how depressed people appear strangely calm in disastrous situations, due to the fact that they are predisposed to think that bad things will happen. While I certainly wouldn't have thought Kirsten Dunst would be able to handle a role of that magnitude, she really surprised me. Charlotte Gainsbourg turns in a great performance too, her character is quite the polar opposite of Justine's, calm and commandeering as the wedding party falls apart, but quickly breaking down in the face of death.

The imagery throughout the movie is beautiful, it's something that Von Trier certainly knows how to get right. The massive, blue planet Melancholia hangs out on the horizon most of the time, its presence threatening, yet peaceful at the same time somehow. The mansion and the grounds in which the movie takes place are wonderful, and it doesn't feel like a shot is wasted throughout the entire movie. While there is a lot of imagery and meaning injected into Melancholia, it certainly isn't too difficult to grasp the themes and concepts presented. While I got a little lost while watching Antichrist, this movie is split evenly into the two different time frames, each presenting the opposite ends of the personality of the two characters, one a "normal" human being, one suffering from severe depression. The sci-fi element of the massive blue planet is only there to create an utterly disastrous situation, what could be more distressing than the end of the world? Still, those who aren't used to thinking too much about movies (I know I'm not some of the time) might find themselves a little bored or lost throughout, especially given the drawn out and entirely musical opening sequence).

Melancholia manages to portray the subject of depression in a unique and engaging way, while the movie is certainly quite long and slow moving, it doesn't feel like a moment is wasted, the relationship between the two female leads is greatly written, and both roles are played perfectly.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 21 January 2012

Today's Review: Starbucks' Honduras Premier

The sun was setting in the London skyline. I made my way through the crowds of people, people I never knew, people I'd never see again, people who were as insignificant a detail in my life as I would be in theirs. The idea was instantly extrapolated in my mind to the grandiosity of the universe. How insignificant our planet was in comparison, how minuscule I was on the surface of the planet. The thought tired me, parched me. So I popped into the nearest Starbucks.

The usual fare was on offer. Mass produced drip coffee and blended ice designed to appeal to the masses. To be consumed, in more than one sense of the word. Various patrons were tapping away on MacBooks, slurping on their syrup infused drinks, probably working on that next big screenplay, the best selling novel. My eye was drawn to a new section of the menu, the Starbucks Reserve, special coffees originating from far away corners of the world. Perhaps they would make me feel one with my habitat. Perhaps the farmers who grew these beans felt as isolated as I did. I chose the Hondura Premier, which offered tones of toffee and honey to provide a bittersweet cup to match my mood. I also got a Caramel Creme Frappucino with whippy cream.

With the frap delivered to my partner and daughter, I returned to the serving counter. My coffee was being prepared specially, the barista pouring small portions of water onto the beans, the infused result falling drop by drop into the cup. The process took over five minutes, much longer than the masses would be prepared to wait for their coffees. The increased waiting time gave me more opportunity to question ny mortality, my place in the grand scheme of things. To check my Facebook and get up to date with my Words With Friends games.

Finally the coffee was prepared. I sat down and took a sip. I could not identify the sweet tones, all that ran along my tongue, down my throat, was a bitter, yet smooth, dark liquid. I stared into the remaining coffee in the cup, its blackness seemed to reflect my very soul. Then my daughter passed me an iPhone so I could help her play Super Monkey Ball. I love that game.

Sure, it's not a bad cup of coffee, it's pretty smooth, but in the end, to me anyway, it just tasted like any other regular coffee. So if you want to wait around for a pretty standard cup, feel free to try this one, otherwise just stick with the caramel lattes. I know I will.

My rating: 1/5

Friday 20 January 2012

Today's Review: Red State

It seems like Kevin Smith lost his way a bit when he churned out Cop Out a couple of years ago, which was a pretty average buddy cop movie that was in no way related to his View-Askewniverse classics. So perhaps he can get back on track with this... horror story about extremist Christians?

Yes, that's what this movie is about. Basically, three horny teenagers find an older woman online who is willing to screw all of them together, but when they arrive at her place they are quickly drugged and caged up in the church of local pastor (or rather, cult leader) Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). After a long and preachy sermon about how gays are bad and deserve to die, along with other sexual miscreants, they start to murder their captives. At the same time a task force led by Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) arrives at the compound, responding to a potential terrorist threat posed by the group and their horde of weapons.

There is clearly a train of thought running through this movie, but it's kind of hard to stay on top of it. The compound and group itself is obviously based upon the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and its leader Fred Phelps, the comparisons are laid out plain as day, the only difference is that the guys in the movie have guns and end up using them when they are threatened with arrest. There's also a message about a response to such a threat of domestic terrorism, and how the group are dealt with over the course of the movie. The focus of the plot chops and changes quite rapidly, and Kevin Smith is not afraid to dispose of characters once they've done their part to advance the plot.

The whole thing really feels like an unfinished Coen Brothers movie. There are certainly some strong characters in Red State, especially the pastor himself, and the part played by John Goodman. They are both featured in a couple of scenes that provide them with some great lines, and they are delivered wonderfully. But it seems like Smith is trying to do too much with the one movie. The chopping and changing of focus and subject matter just feels too rushed, and a person could come away from watching this with a confused bundle of messages.

Red State starts out as an adequate horror movie, but quickly loses its way and plunges into other subject matter, which is somewhat saved by some good performances throughout. Perhaps if it were a little longer it would have a chance to steady itself, but instead I was left feeling like Kevin Smith could have done better, as he has proved by his past movies.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday 19 January 2012

Today's Review: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

I absolutely love Sesame Street. If I were to become a celebrity, the high point of my career would not be winning an Oscar or an Emmy, it would be appearing on Sesame Street. I've watched it since I was little, and it still holds the same charm now as it did all those years ago. It's a pure loving and learning experience, and while there are a whole host of characters that are massively loveable, there is no doubt that Elmo has his own kind of special charm.

But who is the man behind Elmo? Kevin Clash, that's who. He operates the puppet, provides the voice, and built the character up himself after the puppet was discarded by one of his co-workers. How do I know this? Because I've watched Being Elmo.

This documentary follows the life of Kevin Clash, from his obsession with puppet shows as a child to the pursuit of his dream, to become a puppeteer himself. Along the way we see a man who is so involved with his work, who has had this passion for a lifetime, and has never given up. The way Kevin can take a puppet and convey emotions so convincingly with a piece of cloth and some plastic eyes is truly amazing.

Being Elmo is a special kind of documentary. While most might deal with pressin issues, this one simply focuses on the character that has brought happiness to millions of children, and has become an icon over the years. It's an inspiring film, as we clips of Kevin Clash's parents recalling when he first exhibited his talent for puppetry, and the unwavering support they gave him, we see clips of Kevin himself meeting with his idols and proving himself to have what it takes to make it to the big leagues. While it was a little short, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen for the full 75 minutes. If you're a fan of Elmo, this is a must see.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Today's Review: Fright Night

Eww, it's another one of those 70s and 80s horror movie remakes. We've already had Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine, I Spit On Your Grave, Last House On The Left, they weren't that great, do we really need more?

Apparently so, and hey, this one was made in 3D! Needless to say I wasn't going into this one with the highest of expectations. I haven't seen the original, and starting off with a blank slate is probably a nice thing too. Fright Night stars Anton Yelchin as Charley, a regular high school kid who has managed to bag one of the popular girls. He used to be a bit of a dweeb though, and his old best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) feels a bit sore when he accuses Charley's new neighbour, Jerry (Colin Farrell) of being a vampire and is promptly shot down. But with kids going missing and Jerry exhibiting some odd behaviour, it's only a matter of time before Charley begins to figure out the truth.

Fright Night is actually a pretty good movie. Yes, it's about vampires, which may be a bit of a tired subject lately, but at least they burst into flames in sunlight instead of standing there, sparkling, Farrell plays the part of the villain well, being charming one minute, and turning into a ferocious hunter the next. The suspense is kept up well throughout, and there are some good action scenes thrown in with a lot of over the top gore. But Fright Night is also a comedy, just not in an obvious way. It never gets too silly, it's mostly in the form of one liners and reactions, but there are some good characters thrown in for comic relief. Charley's friend Ed often spouts off some great lines, and the appearance of David Tennant as a vampire hunter is extremely well implemented, and he really lightens up the situation.

That being said, it's not a perfect movie either. The pacing is a little bit off, the main characters live on the outskirts of the Vegas strip, but the action shifts between the two locations, making the whole thing seem a bit segmented. If all the actions took place in one location then the suspense could build up constantly rather than stutter a little. Still, as horror remakes go, I really enjoyed this one. It had a nice blend of gore, suspense and comedic moments, and with the amount of obvious 3D shots I could see throughout, I might have to track down the 3D version and watch it again. 'Cause everything's better in 3D, innit?

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Today's Review: The Iron Lady

I'm not a man who loves Politics. Sure, I studied Politics at A Level, but I gave that crap up as fast as I could (still got an A though, swish). But still, biographical epic style movies are all the rage these days after The King's Speech made everyone cream themselves. Surely one about Margaret Thatcher is worth a try?

The Iron Lady basically chronicles Thatcher's life from gutsy young student to Prime Minister, told through a series of flashbacks. The time from when these flashbacks take place is indeed the present, where we are presented with a frail Thatcher suffering from dementia and attempting to get rid of her late husband's belongings in an attempt to stop her hallucinating about him. Meryl Streep plays the lead role, and her performance is indeed quite outstanding. In the present day scenes you can clearly see her thoughts drift elsewhere, and her emotional reactions to her hallucinations and old things she finds around the home are wonderful. Even as a young Thatcher, Streep gives it her all, taking on the voice and image perfectly.

Several people have stirred up controversy in the way that this movie is portraying Thatcher's illness while she is still very much alive. In fact, it is quite insensitive, especially as Thatcher's own children have spoken out against it. While it is known that Thatcher suffers from dementia, the full extent is probably not as clear, and the key symptoms portrayed in the movie might not even be happening, especially as in the case of the hallucinations, which are there simply to advance the plot.

But still, I am reviewing how good the movie is, not how offended I may have been by it. But the movie itself isn't too great either. There seem to be large chunks missing from the story. At one point Thatcher is the educational secretary, the next minute she's running for the head of the party, and the minute after that she's Prime Minister. There must have been something worth filming there, but instead it's all rather hurriedly skipped over like it doesn't really matter. The whole narrative in fact does seem a little forced, it's very segmented, and relies heavily on cues from the present day scenes. I know there is a large time span to portray here, but the movie could easily have been longer and added in some scenes from the past to tie the events together.

The Iron Lady is extremely pro-Thatcher too. The dementia angle certainly drums up sympathy from the audience, but there's no real attempt to portray the bad side of Thatcher at all. It's shown that her family feel she spends too much time working, but no shit, she's Prime Minister. She's shown to be a bully, but then is immediately shown being bullied out of her job. The scenes focus mainly on her, and the overall tone of the movie seems to portray her as some kind of hero who fixed the entire country against all odds. The opening scene shows Thatcher walking to a newsagent owned by an Indian, with loud Indian music blasting from unseen speakers, and Thatcher has to step round a large black man to leave. Gawd, what has Britain come to, with all these immigrants selling us milk and queuing up behind us? Things were better in the 80s. Oh no they weren't, they were crap.

Still, The Iron Lady is still quite a good movie. Without Streep it would probably be a whole lot worse, but everyone else puts in a good effort in their roles too. The set pieces and costumes are wonderfully done, it's just a shame that the script isn't really up to the task.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 16 January 2012

Today's Review: Drive

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as "The Driver", a somewhat gormless young man who doesn't say much and takes ages to answer people's questions. He works as a stunt driver by day, but at night works as a getaway driver, promising to help people escape the police provided they turn up within a five minute period. He is professional, a perfectionist, and he never works for the same person twice. In his down time he gets to know his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and while helping her husband out of a little bit of trouble, The Driver gets caught up in a shit storm involving local gangsters, and finds he has to get away himself.

Drive is a very stylish movie. The director, Nicholas Winding Refn, also directed Bronson a couple of years ago, and some of the shots in that movie were absolutely amazing. There's no difference here. The camera is always used to its full effect, with lingering shots just where they need to be, and the opening sequence introducing us to The Driver is awesomely shot. The interior shots while he's driving the car actually made me want to be there with him, feeling the suspense mingled with the purr of the engine.

The characters are all pretty well done too. The gangsters are very threatening as the situation worsens, and The Driver's boss is played pretty damn well by Bryan Cranston. The only bad point with this movie, I feel, is with Gosling's character. As I mentioned before, he doesn't say a whole lot. Maybe that's the point, but when people are talking to him and he takes ages to answer them, it's a wonder why they don't say "Why are you just standing there looking at me, asshole?" Still, Gosling shows emotion where he needs to, and his character actually goes through a very radical change.

We start off with the meticulous, professional driver, never taking any chances and making sure the job gets done right. But as things start to go wrong and people start coming after him, The Driver's true instincts come to the surface. There is some intense violence towards the end, which really exposes The Driver as a man who must stay alive and protect the ones he needs to, no matter what. Without that progression it feels like the entire movie would have fallen quite flat. 

Drive is a very entertaining movie. It's beautifully shot, the story and character progression is wonderful, and despite some woodenness from the cast, it's all very well pulled together. 

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 15 January 2012

Today's Review: Creme Egg Splats

So yeah, it's Easter apparently. We started selling Creme Eggs on Boxing Day, so it's been Easter for a while. But not content with simply watching people go ape shit for eggs filled with gooey icing, Cadbury have decided to cash in even more with a bitesize version (I speak for the average person, a regular Creme Egg is certainly bitesize for me).

Well, it certainly looks like a splatted egg, I'll give it that. Not quite sure why it's so speckled, but that doesn't really affect the taste. Basically, if you've ever had Caramel Nibbles, these are similar, but instead of caramel you get the gooey Creme Egg innards. The bag promises that these contain "a little bit of goo", and while there certainly is a little bit, it tastes like a lot more than it seems they could fit in there. Taste wise, there's not much to say, they taste like Creme Eggs basically. But in a way they are better. If you think the goo inside a regular egg is a bit too much, these will be a pleasant surprise, as they strike a nice balance between chocolate and goo, which to me is a nice thing. If you like to scoop icing out with your tongue and slurp it down your face though, stick with the regular version.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 14 January 2012

Today's Review: 30 Minutes Or Less

What's Mark Zuckerberg doing in a bomb vest? Hyuk, hyuk.

30 Minutes Or Less is a comedy that bears striking similarities to a somewhat tragic real life event that occurred a few years back, and although the writers say they were "vaguely aware" of it, it feels like the borrowed quite a bit from it.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Nick, a loser pizza delivery boy who is drawn into a dangerous situation when a pair of different losers, Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride & Nick Swardson), who strap a bomb vest on him and instruct him to rob a bank for the $100,000 they need to pay off an assassin to kill Dwayne's father. Understandably, Nick isn't too happy about that, so he ropes his friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) to help him on his misadventure.

The basic premise isn't really enough to flesh out the whole movie, but 30 Minutes Or Less does a good job filling the gaps by having all of the character cross and double cross each other throughout. The bumbling kidnappers are always on our heros' tails, and the assassin they want to hand the money over to gets caught up in the situation as well. There are several twists and turns throughout, but despite it being quite a short movie it does feel a bit lacking in actual plot. Still, the actors all do a good job, even if they're cast mostly into their archetypal roles. Eisenberg is the regular nerdy loser, perhaps with a little less nerd, Ansari is the hyperactive guy, perhaps a little bit calmer, but McBride is basically like every other McBride character. But hey, perhaps it's better to use the actors in the kind of roles they're most comfortable with, I certainly didn't find it overly annoying.

Despite falling a little short with the overall story, there are some great scenes in this movie, particularly when the pair find their way to the bank. The dialogue is sharp in some places, but could definitely use some work. Overall 30 Minutes Or Less is an entertaining movie, it just doesn't quite pack the punch of some of the other comedies out there.

My rating: 3/5

Friday 13 January 2012

Today's Review: Friends With Benefits

Hey, didn't we have a fuck buddy movie already recently? Yes, this movie has the same basic premise as No Strings Attached, but thankfully that movie was so forgettable that this Friends With Benefits felt all nice and new again.

This one starts Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as young attractive people Dylan and Jamie, who apparently find it hard to hold onto partners. After Jamie headhunts Dylan for a job at GQ magazine, they form a friendship, before deciding to just have sex with each other with no complications. That's something that bugs me about these romantic comedies. Everyone's always in a really good job. Why could Mila Kunis star as a McDonald's employee or something? Oh well, it is what it is.

In a twist that no one in the world saw coming, like ever, things get a bit complicated between the two, posing the question, "can anyone just be friends with benefits?", because calling the movie "Fuck Buddies" wouldn't be a great marketing move.

As much as I slated No Strings Attached up there, I remember it not being so bad, I think it was even quite funny in places. Friends With Benefits beats it in that sense though. The dialogue is sharper, the one liners are great at times, and some of the situations were quite damn funny. There is definitely some great chemistry going on between Timberlake and Kunis, which you could probably expect from two people who have to spend hours of shooting pressing their naked bodies against each other. There's also a great storyline going on between Dylan and his dad, which fits into the movie quite nicely and lends a bit of fresh air to the proceedings.

While I did enjoy the movie as the events unfolded, at the end of it all this is a romantic comedy, and a romantic comedy isn't a romantic comedy with some kind of sad decline towards the end. For just a second I thought it might avoid cheesy cliches, but it certainly disappointed me in that regard. Still, as a romantic comedy, it's certainly one of the better ones I've watched recently.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 12 January 2012

Today's Review: Monster

I'm going to be at work past midnight tonight, so no movie review like I planned. Instead I shall review what I am drinking to stay awake.

Monster Energy has been around for a while, it seemed to come out of nowhere and knock the shit out of Relentless and Red Bull. It's an energy drink, basically. All energy drinks may taste pretty much the same, but I have grown to like Monster following my love affair with berry Relentless. While that tasted nice, I've found that energy drinks wake me up more if they actually taste like energy drinks. Psychology and all that, innit.

Monster does come in juicy flavours, but screw that, I drink the traditional green flavour. I don't know if it's just the colour of the can, but it does taste a little bit green. Like some radioactive plant that is awesome and doesn't kill you. Anyway, I can happily glue away at this stuff, it has reasonable waking up powers, and as far as energy drink tastes go, it certainly doesn't leave the kind of aftertaste that a Red Bull does. Glug that taurine, people.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Today's Review: The Way Light Guns Don't Work On Flat Screen TVs

Yeah, look at them bad boys. The pride and joy of my collection of game controllers. I remember popping coins into the arcades of old, shooting it up on Time Crisis or Point Blank. Then I got older and realised I could just get the Playstation versions and a couple of guns from eBay. Good times were had. 

But now I have a new TV, and the problem is that while it can do pretty much everything, what it can't do is make light guns work. There's some difference in the light signals or the way the image refreshes that render the way they work useless. I realised quite how useless they are with my new addition: The NES Zapper. I was forced to resort to sitting cramped up in the bottom of the kids' bunk beds in order to play Duck Hunt on their tiny old school TV. But why can't they work on these fancy new ones? Why isn't there a setting to make the picture light gun friendly? It's a niche market, I know, but now I have to buy an old CRT TV just to be able to shoot some bad guys, or ducks.

Oh well, I guess it's an excuse to have a retro gaming room. 

My rating: 0/5

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Today's Review: Angry Birds: Knock On Wood

I think it's fair to say I didn't take this picture. Sorry internet, but it's so much easier to take photos from Google than to make my own. Anyways, this is another awesome Christmas present I got. It's the board game equivalent of Angry Birds!

You're basically supplied with three squishy bird toys, four plastic pigs, a series of wooden beams and a catapult. There are some cards in there too, each with a certain points amount and a diagram showing you how to lay out the beams and pigs, and which birds you're allowed to use in a certain sequence. The player has to choose cards based on how many points they feel like winning, 100 points being the easiest to knock down, 300 being the hardest.

If you manage to knock every pig to the ground with your allotted birds, you get the points. If even one remains, you get nothing. So it's worth getting used to the aiming and trajectory skills needed to make your shots count. The first player to get to 1000 points wins the game. It doesn't sound like a large winning amount, but knocking down these constructs is harder than it looks.

Knock On Wood is a pretty damn awesome way to bring Angry Birds off the screen (think of the children!) and into a multiplayer family friendly game. My only gripe is that it feels a little unpolished, especially with the doling out of points. Perhaps there could be a staggered system rather than an all or nothing scenario, but the whole thing seems a bit unplanned and rushed. There are even golden egg and star trophies that are included in some of the building cards, but the only thing they seem to be there for is to look pretty. They're not even mentioned in the instructions, which lends to that slightly unfinished feel. Still, it's pretty cool to launch your own little rubber birdies at those smarmy pigs. If only they had sound effects too...

My rating: 4/5

Monday 9 January 2012

Today's Review: Mario Coin Candy

Well, I didn't watch anything new today, but now when I'm bored I can start reviewing my Christmas presents. Let's start with a litte, but awesome, one. I got this Mario coin candy tin, shaped and patterned just like the question mark blocks scattered throughout the Mushroom Kingdom, and filled with tasty, tasty coin candy. 

I'm not exactly sure what the candy tastes of, but it does taste nice. It is somewhat lemony in nature, though while the ingredients say they are artificially flavoured, it doesn't tell me what the flavouring is called, only the colouring, which apparently can cause increases in hyperactive behaviour in children. Even better.

While the flavouring may also have potential side effects, like slightly increased likelihood that I'll actually find joy in my life instead of meticulously studying how I can blame my shortcomings on the food that I eat, I'll eat them anyway. These Mario candies are tasty, nerdy and accurately designed. Hey, when the candy's all gone, I can use the tin to store other things too. Most likely my collection of small things that I'll start collecting so I have something to put in the tin. How meta of me.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 8 January 2012

Today's Review: Arrietty

I do love Studio Ghibli. Though I haven't seen a lot of their movies, I haven't yet seen a bad one, so that's always a good indication. I guess they're my second favourite animation company after Disney (now they've enveloped Pixar anyway).

Arrietty is an adaptation of The Borrowers, so I guess Ghibli are falling into the same vein as Disney with the whole adaptation thing, seeing as Ponyo was based on The Little Mermaid. Arrietty is the daughter of a small family of borrowers who live underneath a house belonging to big people. They get by "borrowing" things that won't be missed, such as scraps of fabric or single lumps of sugar. Crafting their own furniture and subsiding on meals cooked from the large scraps they find, all is well in the household, until Arrietty is discovered by the human boy living in the house, with whom she forms an unlikely friendship.

Arrietty is beautifully animated, but I wouldn't expect anything less from Ghibli. Drops of water fall from leaves, grass blows in the wind, every aspect of the two houses is beautifully detailed. While I usually prefer listening to the original Japanese audio when watching anime, I watched Arrietty with the English dub since the kids were watching too. While most dubs are awful, Ghibli movies are normally excellently handled, and this movie is no exception. The voices are all great, and the sound effects and music that accompany are absolutely flawless. The mellow, sweeping music creates a calming atmosphere, and indeed, while Arrietty is quite uneventful compared to your average animation, even the average Ghibli movie, the whole atmosphere drew me in, and I sat back just marvelling at how great it all looked. It's a peaceful, friendly family movie, and it certainly kept my four-year-old captivated throughout.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 7 January 2012

Today's Review: Colombiana

I do like a good movie featuring a trained assassin. Whether or not Colombiana is a good movie featuring a trained assassin, that is up for debate.

Zoe Saldana plays Cataleya, the daughter of a man working for the drug lord Don Luis. After betraying the boss by taking vital information, Cataleya's parents are slain in front of her, but she manages to escape from the thugs and gain entry to the United States with the information her father has given her. Seeking refuge with her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), there is only one thing on her mind, training to be a killer so she can seek revenge on Don Luis for her parents' death.

Of course, the focus of the movie is on Zoe Saldana, as you can probably guess from the poster featuring only her, but the girl who plays Cataleya as a child is worth a mention too. Both are pretty good in their roles, eluding the bad guys either through emotional trickery or general badassery. As Cataleya makes her way through her victims, we come to see the full extent of her training, with a particularly well planned assassination near the beginning of the movie. Apparently her uncle trained her, though he doesn't seem the type to slip into a black catsuit and swing around all over the place.

I put this movie on with the intention of doing other stuff while watching it, but Colombiana did a pretty good job of dragging me in and making me pay attention. The scenes are well structured, with just enough character development slotted in between all the killings. The only problem is that our heroine seems to fizzle out somewhat. We start off with a meticulously planned break-in and murder, but as she progresses she just seems to throw all plans out of the window and opt to just run in with guns blazing. Maybe it's just to match her fiery passion and thirst for vengeance, but it just seemed a bit off, especially in the final scenes of the film, which left much less of an emotional impact than they could have done.

Still, Colombiana is a good movie. It's not quite up to Hanna standards in the trained assassin genre, but it certainly held my attention.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 6 January 2012

Today's Review: Arena

Look at that cover. Isn't it awesome? It's got Samuel L. Jackson, a sweaty, bruised muscular man, swords, fire and some fighting guys. This cover perfectly sums up Arena. Well, apart from the copious amounts of boobies, but you can't put that on a DVD cover.

Arena tells the story of David Lord, a man in mourning after his pregnant wife is killed. While drowning his sorrows in a bar he is kidnapped and taken to a secret location, where prisoners are forced to fight to the death for an internet show called The Deathgames. After being thrust into his first fight, David is offered the chance to be set free, if he can survive for ten fights.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the head honcho behind the show, turning in a pretty lacklustre performance compared to others he's done. Not that it particularly drags the movie down, because Kellan Lutz is just as awful, as are the supporting ladies. Not that they particularly act, Lutz just gets naked, works out and punches people, and the women show their boobs.

The story is pretty much as complex as I described above. There's a lacklustre twist at the end, but for the majority it's just people punching and slashing at each other. It's a typical guy movie, so if you're looking for full on action, gore and titties, this is one for you, because it does all those things quite well. If you like your movies to have some substance, you might wanna give it a miss. Still, I liked the Office Space reference near the beginning.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday 5 January 2012

Today's Review: The Change-Up

Hey, it's one of those crazy body swap comedies that were all the rage back in the day. This time it's about a father of three swapping over with a guy who sleeps with copious amounts of women but is a loser.

Apparently they used to be school buddies, which is a bit hard to believe since Jason Bateman is seven years older than Ryan Reynolds, but hey, we'll let that slide. I can even forgive that the magic body swapping is initiated by pissing into a magic fountain. But The Change-Up had a bit of a bad start by starting to portray what being a tired father is like, then having a baby shit in Bateman's mouth. Also there's some kind of special effects baby that is repeatedly hitting his head on the crib. So yes, I started watching this movie thinking it was going to be really stupid, but thankfully it redeemed itself a little.

I can't help but feel the plot is a little one sided though. We have the slacker in the working dad's body, through which he learns the meaning of family and relationships, and the value of hard work. On the other hand we have the working dad inside the slacker's body, where he discovers the wonder of being able to masturbate in private and hang around places not doing an awful lot. But hey, there's some character progression at least, although not having that in a body swap movie would be pretty much inexcusable.

The jokes are quite crude, as in your regular teen movie, with F bombs and boobies thrown in for good measure. I feel this movie tries a bit too hard sometimes, throwing in swear words in an attempt to make a not very funny situation funnier, but in the end it didn't really make me laugh out loud at any point. I was entertained enough to watch until the end, and actually care about what happened to the characters.

Perhaps the best thing is the way in which Reynolds and Bateman act. In their own bodies, they're pretty much playing their typical characters. But when the bodies swap over, Reynolds has to pull off the uppity Bateman vibe and Bateman has to be a slobby Reynolds type, and they both do a pretty good job. The rest of the cast aren't anything to write home about though.

The Change-Up is your basic body swap movie, but with some titties and swear words thrown in so men will like it. It starts out ridiculous and ends a little more serious, so it's worth sticking with it to the end. Entertaining, but not great.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Today's Review: Pound On My Muffin By Shira

There's a new music prodigy on the scene, her name is Shira, and she has released the video to her song, "Pound On My Muffin". It really is amazing stuff, have a listen/watch:

A masterpiece, I'm sure you'll agree. Kudos to director Cornelius3, who clearly wasn't awesome enough in his first cloned incarnations, but possessed a fine directing talent in his third malformed body. Speaking of malformed bodies, I'm sure that either Shira has one, or doesn't quite know what a muffin is, she seems to be pointing towards the badonkadonk region whenever she gestures, but everyone knows a muffin is a vagina. Silly girl.

Anyways, the song is sung by a girl lamenting that boys don't want to give her nothin', 'cause they just want to pound on her muffin. The video is so cleverly done in the way that it provides us with a double entendre. Does Shira mean that guys just want to stick their bits inside her corresponding lady bits, or does she mean they want to drum rhythmically on her baked goods (which in the video are cupcakes)? That's how you get past the censors, people.

I'm trying to decipher what these lyrics are to ascertain the meaning of the song, but it's pretty hard due to the fact that my ears are bleeding. From what I can make out, Shira seems to want something from men who want to pound her muffin, but only gets mad when after the act of love making, the men don't leave something behind. One guy gave her loads of drugs before he used her body, so that's cool, but only if he keeps on providing her with free drugs afterwards.

We have a contribution from a loveable scamp called Asco, who mentions that Shira doesn't play him because he's always paying her, so from this we can conclude that this lady doesn't just let people pound on her muffin, she requires payment in cash or drugs. What a great role model. Things do get a bit confusing if you're watching though, because the assistants in Shira's bakery wear aprons that say "Pound on my muffin", which we know is the name of the song, but it could be misconstrued as an invitation by the patrons. Also, they seem to have not had enough footage when they cobbled together the video, because they inserted some clips of a guy sleeping:

Or maybe he just died from the whole ear bleeding thing. I know that feel, bro.

My rating: 0/5

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Today's Review: Eating A Load Of Junk Before Starting A Diet

One of my "resolutions" as it were is to lose me some weight. Trouble is we had a whole lot of food that is not conducive to that goal. So the past few days has been a veritable eatathon. 2 litre bottles of Coke, chocolate oranges, Cheetos, more chocolate, biscuits, yet more chocolate. For the past few nights I have eaten until I've felt slightly sick.

While eating a bunch of crappy food can feel good, it's not something I'd make a habit of. In this situation it might be a good thing, as I almost don't want to look at chocolate again. The healthy eating can commence, and maybe I can get some exercise thrown into the mix. I'll probably need to, since eating a whole load of chocolate has probably drastically increased the amount of weight I need to lose.

If you're planning on starting a diet, but have remnants of naughty food lying around, do yourself a favour. Throw it away, or better yet, give it away, because binge eating is not the best thing to do before you start on extra healthy diets.

My rating: 2/5

Monday 2 January 2012

Today's Review: Trix Swirls

I've skimmed over these in a previous review that I wrote when I was in Oman, but my brother went over there for Christmas and asked if he wanted me to bring any food back. So of course, I asked for Cheetos and Trix, because I love to experience the flavours of Middle Eastern Culture. I ate some this morning, and don't fancy pouring out another bowl for a picture, so here's one I found on the internet (don't sue me):

Trix Swirls are pretty much like regular Trix, but there are two flavours in each piece. That may sound different, but in Trix terms, "flavours" means "varying chemicals and sugars". The cereal tastes like something, but it definitely does not bring to mind the fruits written on the box. I'm not saying they taste bad, they actually taste pretty damn good. It's the sugary, colourful cereal that all kids dream of, and which have been altogether banned in the UK. But in America it's still fun and games, they have Trix, they have Lucky Charms, and they proudly state on the box that they contain artificial colours and flavours.

You may call me a silly rabbit, and tell me Trix are for kids. But I am a kid at heart, a kid whose government were after me Lucky Charms, and they got them. So when I pour myself a big ass bowl of Trix, I am giving this country the finger. You can take my cereals, but you can never take my ability to buy them imported at an inflated price or bring some back from different countries.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 1 January 2012

Today's Review: New Year

We're now living in 2012. Oooh, it's like the future, man. What will happen this year? Will humanity start to dig itself out of the hole it's in, or will we merely perish in some as yet unknown (publically) enormous disaster? Whether the world is ending this year or not, last night was New Year's Eve, the night after which many promise to become better people, even if there isn't a widely publicised threat on their lives. New year's resolutions are a staple of our culture, our chance to get a fresh start, start doing things we never did, or give up things that we shouldn't be doing. I can be a cynic at times, so obviously I have wondered what the big deal with it all is. Sure, it's a new year, I get the symbolism, but why is this the point at which we decide to change? Why can't we do that on a whim, at the dawn of any other day?

I guess there is some reasoning behind this mass creation of resolution, and that is the complete mess the night before can become. Nowadays it is a prerequisite that on New Year's Eve you drink yourself silly, and for some people, getting drunk invariably makes them assholes, and for the rest it can mean a killer hangover. In the past few years I have heard numerous stories of bad events on New Year's Eve. People falling in rivers, people getting into arguments, people beating the crap out of each other. I'm not normally one to go out on the town, but I know for sure that even if I did start going out regularly, I would stay the hell away from a crowded bar on New Year's Eve. Last night I spent a quiet day with my fiancĂ©e and kids, and then spent an evening with a couple of people over, eating snacks and playing board games. It was fun, I didn't drink, and I didn't particularly wake up this morning with a desire to change myself for the better. Meanwhile there were probably millions waking up swearing they'd never drink again.

I'm not saying I'm a better person for avoiding all the drama. I'm happy with what I have, but some people are indeed happy getting drunk and squeezing into a bar with several other people. I've always been quite a quiet person, and I understand that more outgoing people want to get out there and live it up. People like to have excuses to celebrate, and landmark dates to set goals for themselves. I must admit, even though I don't normally indulge in making resolutions, this year I've decided to start this year with a couple of changes. I suppose it is nice to have a landmark day on which everyone starts trying to be a better person, but it's a shame that New Year's Day can be preceded by drunken misery. Maybe it's just the stories I've heard that have put me off. Many can have a wonderful time. For me though, it has soured the experience somewhat. But hey, it's New Year's Day, so let's all promise to be better, okay? Could be our last year alive, you wouldn't want to die with everyone thinking you're an asshole, right?

My rating: 3/5