Saturday 30 June 2012

Today's Review: John Carter

I wasn't too sure what to think about this movie when it was first announced. It was put across as something pretty epic that had taken a long time to be adapted (100 years, woah!), but there really wasn't all that much publicity. Some say that was its downfall. Others say it was just a bit of a crappy movie.

John Carter follows the adventures of John Carter, surprisingly. He's just an army captain caught up in the American Civil War, but he doesn't want to kill dudes, he wants to go hunting for a cave of gold. After being detained by Bryan Cranston for a while (second strange bit part in as many weeks), he finds said mysterious cave, but also gets ahold of a mysterious amulet that transports him to Mars. Except it's not really called Mars, it's called Barsoom, and it's inhabited by a strange four armed deadly tribe of aliens, who decide to take him in because he can jump real high thanks to the change in gravity.

But Barsoom is under threat from an ongoing war between the cities of Helium and Zodanga, populated by humans who have redder skin, because they're on Mars I guess, and they needed to make John look pasty so they could label him as an outsider. Well, naturally, John becomes embroiled in the fight, especially since a hot princess is involved, and things just escalate from there.

Yes, that's quite a lot of plot points there, and I didn't really cover everything. There are several quite interesting threads going on at any time, but that also means there is a lot to explain and introduce the audience to, and despite John Carter being over two hours long it still feels like it's lacking some important plot points. There are some flashback scenes in particular that seem to be just thrown in, with no real explanation given. Perhaps they're to be explored more in a sequel, but Carter seemed pretty over it by the end of this movie.

Not only is there a somewhat complex plot to get your head round, there's a whole bunch of weirdly named stuff. Thankfully John Carter is just as clueless about it as we are, and utters every strangely named thing like he's Matt Damon from Team America. Yeah, Carter's southern drawl was certainly one of the biggest things that put me off the character, but I must admit he grew on me as the movie went on.

In fact, I was going in expecting to hate it, and probably willing myself to a little as well, and despite it certainly starting in somewhat mediocre fantasy action hero ways I really started to enjoy myself towards the end, especially as the action really stepped up and delivered some pretty epic battle scenes. It's just a shame that there was so much to explain first, and even more so that they still didn't manage to cram everything in. The first half of the movie seems quite rushed, but the potential really comes through in the final scenes, and shows what Andrew Stanton would really have in mind for sequels.

It's unlikely we'll get one though, this movie didn't make nearly as much profit as expected. I would totally watch a sequel though, now most of the exposition is out of the way they really have a chance to let it shine. So c'mon Disney, I know you've got the money. Sure, the first movie was a bit cheesy, and the pacing was a bit off, but this is Andrew Stanton we're talking about. He gave us Finding Nemo and Wall-E, I'm sure he can pull off a few more good movies with this series.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 29 June 2012

Today's Review: Project X

I'm getting old. Sure, I went to a couple of house parties in my teenage years, and they were pretty awesome, but nowadays the whole prospect just makes me cringe. Who the hell would let teenagers into their home? Kids are assholes.

Project X follows three assholes in particular, played by newcomers, because they want you to think this really happened. Yes, it employs the hand held video camera filming technique, which is kinda starting to annoy me. I know they wanted to make it "realistic", but Warner Bros. have decided to plaster the box and the beginning of the movie with a disclaimer saying that it's not real and holy shit do not do this. Anyway, these teenage assholes are led by the king asshole, Costa, who decides to invite everyone in the world to a birthday party at his friend Thomas' house. Naturally things go wildly out of control, boobies, swears and booze fly everywhere, and everyone thinks it's awesome somehow.

Well, I spent most of this movie cringing. I knew it was fake, but I've heard enough stories to know that people are like this nowadays. Kids piss me off on the best of days, so to put a bunch of them in one place acting like complete assholes just makes me feel uncomfortable. Still, that all wore off in the end when everything spun completely out of control, and I could finally see that the movie wasn't too badly done. It reaches a pretty epic scale by the end, and they actually show the repercussions of everything that happens.

So yeah, Project X is not too bad once you settle into it. But it's still just a bunch of asshole being assholes.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday 28 June 2012

Today's Review: The Special 500th Post Guest Review

Wow, this is my 500th post. I've been reviewing for a long time. 500 days in fact. To mark this special occasion I'd like to present the first guest review, written by my good friend Robin, who also designed the logo for this blog. So without further ado, here it is:

Guest Review - Schwarzkopf Live Colour XXL Shake-It-Up Colour Foam

First of all, thank you kindly to Messr Dan Bishop for allowing me to provide the first ever guest entry for A Review A Day. I was proud to provide the graphic banner for this expository tour de force, and am even prouder to help share with the world a learned verdict of Western Consumerism's many available commodities.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Shake it Up Colour Foam, a new method for changing your follicular hue from our good friends at Schwarzkopf. It is provided in a canister whose shape and materials puts one in mind of a takeaway Frappucino or Smoothie - these are fun things that make us feel better, so naturally we expect that this particular hair colorant will also provide a fun and enriching experience. A notion further cemented by their use of the word "fun" on the packaging, alongside such words as "vibrant," "dazzling," and "easy."

I wish to focus the brunt of my review on that particular claim - "easy," in particular "easy as shampoo - no dripping," as the blue circle promises us. Let's examine that, shall we? In my 25 years of experience cleaning my hair with shampoo, this is the procedure I am familiar with:

  1. Put blob of shampoo on hands
  2. Rub in to hair
  3. Wash off
  4. Enjoy having clean hair for roughly 24 hours, depending on activity levels.

I'm sure some of you might have variations on that, but I think we can agree it's all a fairly simple process, thusly a claim that dying ones hair with a similar level of ease is an attractive proposition. But is this claim true? Let's compare the above with the procedure I am now familiar with for using Shake it Up Colour Foam.

  1. According to instructions, empty small bottle of aggressive chemicals in to canister.
  2. Gingerly retrieve small see-through packet of gloves from amongst chemicals.
  3. Put on gloves
  4. Notice that the packet of powder you need to open has no tear mark, so retrieve scissors.
  5. Open powder and mix in to aggressive chemicals by shaking canister (with lid on).
  6. Open canister and move head back to avoid unpleasant smell. Make peace with the fact you're about to rub this on your head.
  7. Remember that the packaging promises no drips, so you can apply in liberal amounts. Therefore retrieve generous dollop and place on your head.
  8. Utter mild swear words as half the dollop drips well away from your target, possibly on your own body, your sink, or perhaps staining bathroom upholstery.
  9. While holding back thoughts of retribution against Schwarzkopf, take smaller dollops and begin adding to your hair, until it is all covered.
  10. Following instructions, employ circular motions to ensure total coverage of every hair.
  11. (If applicable, put your glasses back on.) Curse the fact that the circular motions have caused more drips on various places on you and your bathroom, as well as spreading of the dye on to the areas of skin surrounding your hair.
  12. Reign in your frustration while you use several pieces of toilet paper to try and get the dye off your skin while keeping it in your hair.
  13. That's never going to work, so give up, and take the gloves off. Reject the irritation that comes from realising that the gloves have let plenty of the goo on your hands anyway.
  14. Wash your hands and other stained body parts.
  15. Go and sit down for 30 minutes somewhere. Which is strange, because I never remember having to sit down for 30 minutes in the middle of using shampoo, but I must be wrong, as this process is as easy as using shampoo.
  16. Go and wash off the goo from your hair. The instructions say to do this until the water runs clear, however this point will never arrive if you stay on our standard time-space continuum, so decide a point at which to give up.
  17. Look in the mirror and be disappointed by the results.

At my count that's thirteen extra steps beyond the simplicity of using shampoo, many of the points being infinitely more complex in and of themselves. Therefore I have one response to the claim "easy as shampoo - no dripping," and that response is: bollocks.

However I must admit on the second day, after another wash and condition, the colour has come out okay. A fairly nice and bright red for someone whose natural colour is dark brown.

But the process is far more complex, irritating and drippy than the more traditional offerings, so despite the successful colouring I am loathed to give this silly gimmick a high score.

My rating: 2/5

Well, that was quite in depth. I feel like I know a lot more about hair dye now, and I've done it myself a few times. But oh, Robin, you shouldn't believe everything you read. Of course there'll be drips if you throw caution to the wind and rub it around your scalp like a man infested with head lice. That's the way I picture it anyway. I agree with the gloves aspect though. Those things are tiny, hardly big enough for my chunky man hands. I find that a little bit sexist. As for the dye on your face, I know it's not ideal, but it's just as easy to attempt to remove once the process of rubbing it into your hair is done. Just scrub away until the skin's gone. Ta-dah!

One thing Robin didn't mention is the smell it promises, the "juicy fruity scent". How exactly does something smell juicy? Or do they mean it smells like Juicy Fruit? I saw him a couple of days after this process was done, and I cannot say he smelled like chewing gum. Perhaps the scent is short lived, like when you can actually smell that scented shampoo you use. It's always gone by the time you see someone else, and you have to get them to shove their face in your hair so they can smell it. Other people do that too, right? Anyway, I suppose it is quite like shampoo in that respect, but that's pretty crappy. 

All in all, a great review, though I do have some apprehensions regarding Robin's ability to properly apply hair dye, perhaps there is a bit of bias in there. But it is a shitty process that stains everything, so I guess I can pretty much agree with him.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Today's Review: Cheetos Spirals: Cheese And Ketchup Flavour

I do love a big bag of Cheetos. But the powers that be have decided that we British are not worthy enough to buy this awesome snack, so my experiences are few and far between. Still, I've picked up bags of the regular variety and the crunchy, which are clearly my favourite. But at the new Polish supermarket I found this bag of loveliness. 

They're quite weird actually. Certainly the same kind of texture as original Cheetos, but slightly more powdery. The weirdest part is that despite that they don't leave behind much of the signature Cheeto dust on your fingers. They're just softer overall really, they almost crumble in your mouth and let the flavour go. Not sure how I feel about that.

As far as the flavour is concerned, it isn't all that great. Sure, it's cheesy, but the ketchup part leaves much to be desired, and in fact it just makes me wish that it was all cheese, 'cause that's what Cheetos do best. Sure, these are a tasty snack, but I know Cheetos can be so much better.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Today's Review: Green Apple Mentos

There's a Polish supermarket that's just opened up nearby, so of course I went in hunting for some interesting foodstuffs. Well, just sweets and crisps really. But I stumbled upon some green apple flavour Mentos, alongside the regular minty and fruity varieties.

There's not too much to say. They're just like any other Mentos. The flavour though, is awesome. It's slightly tangy, wonderfully fruity, they were wolfed down with some speed. They're a great addition to an already fantastic range.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 25 June 2012

Today's Review: The Rabid Response To Fifty Shades Of Grey

This did it for me. I've been letting the massive success of this book pass somewhat under my radar, but now I find out that my local Waterstones has completely sold out. It's crazy. Well, I guess you wouldn't want to buy it used. Ick.

For those of you somehow not aware of the Fifty Shades trilogy, it is a series of books in which a young innocent virgin, Anastasia Steele (what an awesome yet horrifying name), is targeted and stalked by mysterious billionaire Christian Grey. Finally he persuades her to let him sex her up in all kinds of wonderful ways (BDSM, oh my!). While it sounds like something you might see on Crimewatch, since this is novelised it's, like, the best thing ever, 'cause Christian Grey sounds really hot and this corrupted young woman is definitely completely into it of her own accord.

I won't be able to get through this review without sounding sexist, so I'm just gonna lay it all out. Women are perverts. The first book just managed to surpass Harry Potter as the fastest selling paperback of all time. Harry. Potter. You know who likes Harry Potter? Everyone. When a new book came out you'd see young and old alike with their heads buried in it wherever you went. But somehow, this book has managed to surpass it. There are statistically more rabid horny women than rabid Harry Potter fans. That's a scary thought.

So yes, it's a series of erotic novels. I can't say I've read them, but I've read excerpts, and after that reading the whole lot seems to be the worst thing I could ever possibly do with my time. It's pretty badly written, which is understandable seeing as it originated as a fan fiction of Twilight. Yeah. Seriously. Write about a pasty girl and a vampire doing lots of sex, change the names and you're onto a winner. The sex scenes themselves are standard erotic fare, all elongated shafts and clutching and thrusting, but they've got so many women hot under the collar that I've started to wonder if the female race has forgotten about the existence of porn. Or, in fact, sex altogether.

But no, of course they haven't forgotten about porn, they still think men are perverts for watching it, judging us from behind their book while they read about Mr. Grey producing a contract asking if Anastasia would like to participate in anal fisting. If a man wrote a book about a guy tying women up and sticking his engorged penis synonym anywhere he could put it, there'd be an uproar, but no, it's written by a lady. It's being treated like a call to arms for women to experience their sexuality again, by reading about a guy completely dominating a woman. Yeah. Sounds legit.

So come on, calm down ladies. It's just a book. You should try the real thing sometime.

My rating: 0/5

Sunday 24 June 2012

Today's Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is like Love Actually, but with just a bunch of old people. Also less love, and set in India. So actually it is not like Love Actually, but it has got Bill Nighy in it, as part of a nice British ensemble cast.

So all these old guys play a bunch of old guys, who due to several different circumstances find themselves taking residence in a dilapidated retirement home in India, run by inept but determined young man Sunny (Dev Patel). After the inevitable culture shock, especially felt by massive racist Muriel (Maggie Smith), the residents begin to see the beauty of the country and its residents, and begin to see that their final days may not be as grim as they once thought.

Well, yes, that's pretty much the story, and we can probably all guess that everything will work out in the end, but this is a light hearted drama with a bunch of very good actors who all play their roles quite wonderfully. Muriel's transformation is probably the best of the bunch, but we also have Judi Dench's Evelyn, who's probably the most grounded of the lot. You probably couldn't ask for a better cast, and they even overshadow the shortcomings of the plot.

So yes, I enjoyed this. Not so much for the substance, but for the performances that made it, and the heartwarming moments that the cast created. It's not perfect, but it's a solid movie.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 23 June 2012

Today's Review: Wanderlust

I wasn't quite sure what to think of this when I first picked it up. Sure, there are some good cast members in there, but it could have gone either way. Then I found out it was produced by Judd Apatow, so I knew I was in pretty good hands.

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as George and Linda, a married couple from New York who are forced to move in with George's brother after he is suddenly dismissed from his job. On the journey to their new home, the couple stumble upon Elysium, a bed and breakfast that actually houses an idyllic community of oddballs who practice peace, love, truth and veganism, headed by trippy hippy Seth (Justin Theroux). At first weirded out by these strange people, George and Linda soon start to be won over by their kindness and the new experiences they are offered. Could Elysium be the place they've been looking for all along?

Wanderlust is certainly a much more philosophically involved movie than Role Models, Superbad or any of that bunch which are about assholes trying to get laid or out of trouble. This movie is all about exploring different ways of life, and finding true happiness, but unfortunately it's still portrayed in a kind of immature way. The residents are often just openly creepy and weird, and quite one dimensional in a lot of respects. There's only so many ways to poke fun at the community, so it does start to drag a little around the middle parts of the movie, until the plot gets shaken up again. Still, the movie does manage to stay on top by having some great performances that get as much as they can out of the characters, and some great improv scenes that give some genuinely funny dialogue.

So yes, it may not be amazing, but Wanderlust is a light hearted movie that got quite a few laughs out of me. It's probably the best comedy I've seen in recent months.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 22 June 2012

Today's Review: Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance

I haven't seen the first Ghost Rider, which is probably a good thing, because now I really don't want to. In this sequel Nicholas Cage returns as Nicholas Cage, I mean, Johnny Blaze. As the back story so kindly tells me, he made a deal with the devil to save his father's life, and is now periodically possessed by a flaming skeleton dude with a flaming motorcycle, who kills everything in sight. Kind of like the Hulk but with more fire and bikes, and less of those purple underoos. I don't know if it's any less homoerotic though.

Well, we don't see much of Johnny Blaze at first, we're treated to what I guess is called "the plot", in which an alcoholic priest attempts to save a boy from a group of bounty hunters, something which Anthony Head fails to do. Poor Anthony Head, he used to be Giles, and now he can't even survive the first ten minutes of a Nicholas Cage movie. What happened? Anyway, the same devil dude that made the deal with Johnny wants this boy for some mysterious purpose, which is explained in a painfully drawn out way through the rest of the movie to give the impression that the plot is more complicated than it actually is. The alcoholic priest decides the best thing to do to save the boy is to recruit a guy who turns into a flaming skeleton and kills everyone, so he strikes a deal with Johnny to rid him of the curse if the boy is saved.

So begins a rollercoaster thrill ride as Nicholas Cage drives somewhere, sees bad guys, turns into Ghost Rider, kills them all, and repeats. He's never in any particular danger for long, and he also pisses fire in the boy's imagination at one point, just because. This movie is, quite simply, a mess of fire and engine revs starring a ridiculously overpowered hero with no depth whatsoever. Nicholas Cage often attempts to employ some biker language in his cooling off periods, but just ends up sounding like an embarrassing father.

There are random small scenes thrown in during which nothing much happens, which disrupts the small amount of flow and pacing that the movie manages to create.

Ha, see what I did there? I mirrored what I was talking about in my own writing. I can do English really well. So yes, suffice it to say that I did not particularly enjoy this movie. The effects were okay I guess, but I watched it in 3D too, and it looked as flat as a pancake in a shitty 3D movie. The performances are awful, the pacing is all off, the story is pretty much non existent and dull, I don't feel anything towards these characters, it's just not good. The final kick in the teeth is how it ends. I don't care about spoiling it for you, I'm gonna tell you how it ends.

"Did we win?"
"I'm the Ghost Rider"

Shakespeare right there.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 21 June 2012

Today's Review: Cadbury's Choc Full Of Popcorn

Wow, it's called what it is. They've got a genius working over there. Yes, the Cadbury bags behemoth is showing no signs of stopping, but instead of cutting up another of their chocolate bars they've decided to go with chocolate covered toffee popcorn.

The bag informs me that the kernels are generously coated, and they actually are. It's a great combination. I've had chocolate popcorn before, but never with Cadbury, the holy grail of chocolate. The only problem with there being a liberal coating of chocolate is that the toffee flavour of the popcorn isn't as noticeable. Still, you can certainly detect a hint of it, and it's the smooth chocolate with the soft popcorn creates a great texture. You've done it again Cadbury, another great snack.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Today's Review: P****y Energy Drink

It's weird, this reminds me of an energy drink I bought from a random newsagent a couple of years ago, but that was just called "Pussy". I don't even know how to pronounce this. Do I start with a soft "p" and leave a gap before squealing "ee"? Or do I attempt to insert a bleep somewhere in between? To hell with it, let's just call it "Pussy". It's a stupid name for a drink designed to cause shock for no reason. Any sexual connotation associated with announcing your consumption of the drink just sounds weird and clumsy anyway:

"I'm having a can of Pussy"
"Let's crack open a nice tall Pussy"
"I'm drinking all this Pussy juice... from a ring pull can"

See, you thought I was going to just sound plain rude, but it's all just awkward. But enough of this silly name talk. How does the drink taste?

It's pretty refreshing. It's not your standard energy drink, pumped full of that energy drink flavour that I'm assured is caused by some super ingredient. It's one of those drinks that just has all kinds of weird bits of fruit and plants thrown in to give you the effect that you're drinking nature, and all it wants to do is wake you up. So yeah, it's nice, but it's not quite as uplifting as all those normal energy drinks that scream a list of additives at you from the side of the can. They're my favourite.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Today's Review: A Dangerous Method

Ooh, a movie about psychologists. I'm one of those apparently, though not as badass as Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. I wish they'd taught me about this part of their lives at uni, but they were too busy telling me about "important" things like their actual theories.

So here we have Michael Fassbender playing Jung, who starts to treat a young, disturbed patient names Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). After uncovering her dark sexual fantasies, it only takes a litte nudge from a particularly charismatic patient (Vincent Cassel) for him to break his monogamous boundaries. After working with, and on (har har) Sabina for some time, Jung finally gets the chance to meet with the man who he has based his methods on, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). But as the two's theories clash and Sabina's affections become intense and scattered, a rift opens up between two great minds.

Of course, for a movie about Freud starring Keira Knightley, there is quite a lot of sex. Knightley seems to have almost as much of a knack for getting naked in her movies as Kate Winslet. People must think British actresses are exhibitionists or something. But really, these are two women who put a lot into their craft with quite a lot of success. In the earlier scenes where Sabina is in her full mentally ill phase, Knightley's acting is superb, contorting and quivering to create a very unsettling portrayal. The performances are great all round really, especially in the scenes with both Jung and Freud debating Psychology. Fassbender employs his thoughtful stares to great effect, and both actors have a way with their words that got me drawn in to each side of their debates.

So yes, it's not all about sex. There is quite lengthy debate included too, and if you're not really into the whole Psychology thing you might find yourself getting bored. But the performances are good enough to really keep interest going, and while I found myself distracted by other things towards the final stages of the film, it was an enjoyable experience. I would say that the ending could be tidier and more tied up, but as with most true story movies there's no real way to give finality when you're just portraying a certain point in a person's life.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 18 June 2012

Today's Review: The Notice I Saw At Hospital

I love how it has to announce itself as a "Polite Notice", there are certainly no pleases or thankyous to indicate its politeness, but does informing me of the hours that a door is open require any manners?

What's particularly strange is that the door wasn't open at all, merely unlocked. I don't find that very polite. You fail, notice. I'll give you points for trying though. It's only polite.

My rating: 1/5

Sunday 17 June 2012

Today's Review: My Father's Day Snack Surprise

So I asked my daughter to get me a surprise while she was at the shops. She could've chosen anything for me. Generic chocolate bar, packet of crisps, cookies. But no, I got waffles. Awesome.

Yeah, that's how you eat waffles. Maple syrup and apple pie ice cream. I couldn't be more American if I tried. They should give me citizenship just for eating that. Although I guess I did miss the bacon. Damn. Awesome snack present though. Top marks, kid.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 16 June 2012

Today's Review: One For The Money

Katherine Heigl has turned into somewhat of a deal killer for me lately, she's been in some pretty bad movies. Watching the trailer for this one, I was expecting a pile of garbage.

Heigl plays Stephanie Plum, a woman who is down on her luck and out of a job. With the bills piling up, she starts working as a bounty hunter for her bail bondsman cousin, and soon becomes embroiled in a mysterious case involving an ex-lover of hers. It's up to Plum to keep one step ahead, brush up her skills and be ready to take everything the case throws at her.

Well, the movie doesn't start out too well, with cheesy music and a pretty terrible narration from Heigl. When they say it's based on the book I don't expect to hear the lead read excerpts from it, but that sure is the option they went with. There are some quirky characters scattered throughout, most are slightly annoying, but no one is particularly awful, if you don't count Heigl dropping in and out of her New Jersey accent willy nilly. The plot is actually quite dark in places, but it never stays there long, which is a shame, because it probably would've done better with less of the silly comedy.

But hey, I certainly didn't hate it. One For The Money actually managed to hold my attention through out. It's quite nicely paced, the story isn't as cheesy as the trailers and such make out. It's certainly got a few bad movie elements that could have so easily been avoided, but I can safely say it was enjoyable.

My rating: 3/5

Friday 15 June 2012

Today's Review: Power Cuts

We had a power cut today for the best part of an hour. Luckily, we were sorting things out around the place and it was daytime, so it didn't affect us too much. But being so unclear about when the power would return started to cause some alarm. What if we ran out of battery on our phones? We wouldn't be able to contact anyone. How long would it take the freezer to leave us with a load of half defrosted ice cream that we'd have to eat quickly? First world problems really.

But what if it was dark outside? Sure, I have a torch app on my phone, but that would only last so long. I have candles and a couple of lighters, but otherwise I'm woefully ill equipped for any kind of long stint without power. These kind of thoughts always lead to the bigger picture. How much we all rely on energy. Those on life support or using other electrical equipment, with which a lack of power could mean your death. We've become so reliant on gadgets, electronics for our entertainment, we can't even imagine being without power for long without becoming completely crazy.

So yeah, power cuts suck a lot. Because they prevent me from doing any of the electronic stuff I rely on for entertainment, but also because they remind me how dependent I am on all that stuff.

My rating: 0/5

Thursday 14 June 2012

Today's Review: Safe House

First Chris Pine, then Ryan Reynolds. Who will be the next Hollywood heart throb to team up with Denzel? My bet is on Channing Tatum.

Anyway, Ryan Reynolds plays Matt Weston, a low level CIA agent in charge of a safe house in South Africa. His work is pretty boring until Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) comes along. Tobin has some pretty top secret information and has turned himself in after being chased by mercenaries, but when they take out the safe house too, it's up to Matt to ensure Tobin is escorted to safety, and that he doesn't overpower him and escape.

That's pretty much the whole movie. There's not too much of a plot to be honest. The whole "secret file" plot element takes a back seat as we spend most of the movie watching Matt chase down Tobin after he escapes several times and gets attacked by mercenaries again. It feels like they couldn't really write a whole lot about the file, so they just opted for a load of chase and action scenes.

Still, they're quite well done. Denzel strolls around being his usual badass self, taking out guys with ease, and Matt frantically drives and runs around trying to cover his own ass while sticking his neck out  to get recognition in his job, and Reynolds does a good job striking that balance with his character. But despite the good performances and action scenes, the movie is ultimately let down by its lack of plot. There could have been many twists and turns throughout, but instead we just have Ryan Reynolds chasing Denzel Washington, and I was hoping there'd be something more.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Today's Review: Carte D'or Caramel Cinnamon Waffle Ice Cream

I've stated my dislike for cinnamon several times before, but I don't know, maybe it's starting to grow on me, especially when mixed with desserts. I'm partial to the odd cinnamon roll, and while buying ice cream yesterday I was drawn to this interesting flavour.

It certainly has caramel, cinnamon and waffle, so no false advertising here. The combination of flavours is actually pretty nice, and it all has that signature smoothness that you find with other Carte D'or varieties. There is perhaps a little too much cinnamon for my liking, I would've preferred a larger ratio of caramel, or even the waffle, which only covers the very top. But all in all it's an interesting flavour that's quite well done.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Today's Review: Apple's Magic Mouse

I got this mouse with the Mac Mini I bought last year, and so far I've failed to mention just how awesome it is. I was dubious at first about a mouse with no discernible buttons, but you can left click and right click just like any other mouse, so that's all good.

It's the trackpad function that really makes the mouse special. You can scroll just by swiping your finger up ad down the top of the mouse, go forwards and backwards on our web browser with a left and right swipe, it's so smooth, feels awesome to use.

Apart from that, what really wows me is the battery life. They can last for pretty much a few weeks, and this mouse gets pretty heavily used, so to think that a couple of AAs in a Bluetooth mouse can last that long is astonishing really.

So good on you Apple. If you're in the market for a mouse and are apprehensive about the high price point, I understand, but it's probably the best mouse purchase you can make. Apart from one of them fancy gaming mice I guess, but what are you, some kind of massive nerd?

My rating: 5/5

Monday 11 June 2012

Today's Review: Rocket Fuel Self-Heating Coffee

I heard about these self-heating coffee cups/cans a few years ago, and was eager to try one, but could never find one. I assume they discontinued them due to people burning themselves with their own stupidity. But after a double take in the coffee aisle today I saw Rocket Fuel, a coffee whose packaging is aimed towards six year olds, and that other coffees sneer at in a snobby fashion. But hey, they've got a self-heating version, so I didn't need convincing.

There are two sets of ring pulls on the can, one on top and one underneath. Pulling the bottom reveals this, which apparently is some water, but we can't be sure. Anyway, a firm press on the centre will start off the reaction that makes the heat, as it mixes the water with a calcium oxide deposit tucked away inside the can. There was something slightly unsettling about a chemical reaction producing vast amounts of heat in my hands, but to be honest it was quite boring. No comical bubbling sound, no strange shaking, just the gradual increased heat of the can as I walked home. Finally, after what I guessed was three minutes, I cracked open the top and stared into what this photo implies is an abyss.

But really it was a can of slightly milky, hot coffee. Now, the instructions on the can informed me that the liquid would be piping hot, and it wasn't. But this is by no means a bad thing. Sure, the reaction is cool, but I don't want to stand around for three minutes waiting for it to heat up only to have to wait for it to cool down again. But what I had here was a pleasantly hot, quite strong cup of joe. It certainly has that instant coffee taste, but the ingredients explicitly say it has instant coffee in, so I can't really complain there. All in all it was an interesting experience, and quite a nice beverage. If you're desperate for hot coffee and can't find a Starbucks or Costa anywhere (I guess you live in the wilderness), this is an intriguing alternative.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 10 June 2012

Today's Review: The Sound Of Rainfall On A Quiet Evening Indoors

I'm snuggled up on the sofa, everyone else is in bed, and it's raining outside. Apart from the click clack of my fingers on the keys, that's all I can hear. That constant pitter patter that makes you glad to be home and dry. It's soothing, calming, almost makes you feel one with nature.

But also, screw you, weather. It's June, dammit, it's meant to be summer. So quit raining all the damn time. I know the rain sounds nice in this poetic context, but I'd like to be able to leave the house without getting wet. Gawd, the weather is an asshole.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 9 June 2012

Today's Review: This Blockbuster Ad I Found In An Old PS2 Magazine

I must say, as a guy working at Blockbuster this certainly made me chuckle more than it should. Hee hee, how old school, look, Metal Gear Solid 2 isn't even out yet.

But really, while it seems like quite a bland and boring advert, it seems to do the job quite nicely. No in your face, flashy catchphrases, no digging at the competition, just some release dates for some sought after games, and some solid advice that you should probably rent them before you go out and buy them. Good guy Blockbuster wants to steer you in the right direction.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 8 June 2012

Today's Review: Kellogg's Mini Max

We went to Sainsbury's Jubile Family Festival last weekend, despite the crappy weather. It wasn't bad, especially since there were various food tents around offering free samples. Paying a visit to the Rice Krispies tent rewarded us with a box of Mini Max for some reason. I thought it was a new cereal, seeing as it said "NEW" on the box, but apparently they're not all that new. Still, I've been eating them for the past few days.

They're pretty much like bitesize Shredded Wheat, but with a generous sprinkling of sugar on top. I am not a fan of Shredded Wheat, but these aren't half bad. They don't come apart into strands like Shredded Wheat, and the sugar is just enough to give it a nice kick, while still making me feel like I'm beaing healthy. Sure, they're nowhere near the nicest cereal around, but if you're after a healthy-ish cereal that you don't have to choke down, give these a go.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 7 June 2012

Today's Review: Jack And Jill

Why did I even watch this? I can't even make the excuse that I wanted to be sure to warn you all that it iss a terrible movie. I mean, just look at that poster. It's Adam Sandler playing a man and a woman. That's the entire concept. How can it not be terrible?

I don't know what happened to Mr. Sandler. I can only assume that there's something wrong with his brain, because why else would he write and star in such nonsensical garbage? How the hell did he get Al Pacino and Johnny Depp involved? Heck, how did he even get Katie Holmes? If I read the screenplay I'd assume it was written by the crazy homeless man that they introduce in the movie for no reason, and who disappears halfway through for no reason.

This movie makes no sense. It's a series of non-sequitur occurrences that I guess are meant to be jokes, but they're all so disjointed and poorly written, acted and filmed that the whole thing just seems like one big blooper reel. It's hard to tell what's a joke and what's not, nothing is funny, nothing is explained, there's just Adam Sandler dressed as a woman, some farts, and Al Pacino. Seriously, Al Pacino? What happened?

Even The Nutty Professor, hell, even Big Mommas is better than this, at least those movies had some semblance of a plot. This is just a mess, a big steaming mess. Anyone who's seen the trailer can probably figure out how bad it is straight away, but you really can't grasp how awful this whole production is without watching it all the way through. I literally felt embarrassed for everyone involved.

In short, Jack And Jill is a thought provoking movie that raises many questions. What is wrong with the mind of Adam Sandler? How did so many people fail to see how terrible this whole thing was? How desperate is Al Pacino? How did this movie cost $79 million to make, and who the hell actually paid to watch it enough for it to gross $150 million? This is the end times. The world is stupider because this movie exists.

My rating: *sigh*

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Today's Review: Moonrise Kingdom

I hadn't heard about this movie at all until yesterday when a friend suggested we go see it. I must say I haven't seen much of Wes Anderson's work, which, I have been informed, is unforgivable. So off I went, attempting to begin to right my wrongs.

Moonrise Kingdom takes place on a small island located in New England in 1965, and follows young boy scout Sam and local girl Suzy as they attempt to run away together. Of course their plan is soon discovered, and the scout troop and Suzy's family join in the search, along with a few local oddballs. But there's a big storm brewing on the horizon, and how easy will it be to find the lovestruck pair with Sam's amazing wilderness skills?

Yes, I may not have seen many of Wes Anderson's movies, but I've certainly seen a few parodies on YouTube, and it's plain to see that Moonrise Kingdom is very much his style. We have dysfunctional, quirky characters, and shots that are set up like Rube Goldberg machines, where everything has its place and plays out perfectly. There's not a single wasted shot, and the movie is quite beautiful as a result.

Character wise, even by looking at the poster I could tell it would be something special. What an amazing cast. Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, even a brief appearance from Harvey Keitel. Everyone plays their part perfectly, and you really get sucked into this little community where everyone is as strange and flawed as each other. But the big names aren't even the main focus of the movie, it's the kids who really steal the show. The romance blossoming between Sam and Suzy is wonderfully captured, and the scout troop on their trail are fantastic, like an indie-fied Goonies.

I had relatively high expectations from seeing the cast and the good reception this movie has, but Moonrise Kingdom stil managed to impress me. I enjoyed every minute of it, everyone does a fantastic job and it pulls together into a great movie.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Today's Review: Ben & Jerry's Oh My! Apple Pie

I've been waiting for this to be on offer for so long. Well, it wasn't particularly cheap anyway, 2 tubs for £6, but I'm tired of waiting, so here it is. Oh My! Apple Pie boasts apple pie ice cream, with apple chunks and pie crust all mixed in. Sounds awesome. Tastes awesome.

The apple pie ice cream is good. You'd think that something so strangely flavoured would be a bit overpowering, but it's simply smooth, with a delicate apple pie flavour, which is really kicked up a notch when you find a piece of something. The apple is your standard apple pie fare, and is rather tasty, but the pie crust pieces are thick and crunchy, exactly how I like it. It's like Ben & Jerry came up with an awesome apple pie recipe they could easily sell on their own, but they just decided to cut it up and dump it in some ice cream. Well, I'm not complaining. This could easily be one of my favourite flavours of all time.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 4 June 2012

Today's Review: Microsofts' E3 Press Conference

Yeah... Usher...

I don't normally watch the live streams of the E3 conferences, but I thought this year I would give it a go. I quickly learned that this was a bad decision.

Sure, it wasn't awful, it was just very mediocre. Hey, Microsoft, what new games have you got? Halo 4? That's cool I guess. A new Tomb Raider, called Tomb Raider, they gave up numbering them a while ago. Ubisoft have a new Splinter Cell too, they never bothered numbering those, so they can reboot and skip around as much as they want. This one even has a cool "Execute" feature, which is basically a "kill everything in a cool cinematic way" button. Well, with all those awesome original games out of the way, it's time to talk about what's really important.

Yes, being able to shout at your TV while playing FIFA and Madden, it's what I've always dreamed of. Also a whole buncha channels being added to the TV section. I'm sure they don't make this much fuss when they announce new Freeview channels. But wait, there's one more surprise up Microsoft's sleeve. After a bunch more Kinect stuff, that is.

"Hey guys, the Wii U has some awesome innovative features stuck right into the new controller. How can we match that without bringing out a whole new console?"

"Eh, there's an app for that. Oh, there isn't? Well, make one."

Yes, now you can use your smart phone or tablet as a "second screen", with the ability to swipe movies and other content up to your TV screen, or access information about what you're watching or playing. Sound familiar? Probably, because it's what the Wii-U does without requiring you to hold both a controller and an iPad. But hey, I guess there's room for some good stuff here, hopefully not just showing a map for those geographically challenged while watching Game Of Thrones.

Well, with all that "lifestyle" stuff out of the way, it was time to talk about some real games. Original games. How excitin- oh, it's a few trailers and no information. Cool. Thankfully Matt Stone and Trey Parker came out to totally own Microsoft within a sentence, say their South Park game is pretty cool, and then make their excuses and leave. Best part of the show.

"You mean even better than Usher saying how he put some of his dance moves into Dance Central 3, but then deciding to show you them on stage anyway?" Yes, of course, what's wrong with you? His dance sucked anyway. I can't slide all the way across the floor like that in a Kinect game.

So yeah, that was pretty much it. Apart from the 10+ minutes of generic Call Of Duty gameplay stuck at the end. I tried to watch it, but apparently the internet exploded at that point and everyone logged into the stream, so I encountered much lag.

Sure, it was okay, I guess. But it's really just a sign of where the gaming industry is headed. Lacklustre sequels, a lack of focus on new and original content, and stupid gimmicks that no one really asked for. Microsoft, I am disappoint.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday 3 June 2012

Today's Review: Solero Exotic Explosion

I've gotta say, the exotic Solero is probably one of my favourite ice cream treats. The ice cream is awesomely smooth, and blends in with the fruit flavour wonderfully. So imagine my delight when I found an all new version, promising an explosion, of all things.

Basically it just means that they've put fruit pieces into the outer shell of the ice lolly, and really, it doesn't add to the taste too much. Sure, there's more texture, perhaps a bit more flavour, but it just seems like a mediocre attempt to stir things up and grab more money. It just doesn't impress me too much, but hey, it's still the same old Solero, so that sure gives it good marks from me. It's just that the novelty here just isn't very good.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 2 June 2012

Today's Review: The Vow

Wow, that's a right proper romantic movie pairing. I hear a massive "PHWOAR" coming from both sexes.

Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams play Leo and Paige Collins, a happily married couple living happily, until they get in a car accident and Paige loses her memory of the last four years, which conveniently covers the entire period that the couple knew each other. Suddenly Leo finds himself having to prove their love to his wife, and with her overbearing parents trying to drive them apart, can Leo succeed in making love happen for a second time?

It's an interesting concept, one that I might have tossed into the "that would never happen" pile, if it weren't actually based on a true story. Brains are funny things, yo. So we have an interesting twist on the romance movie, and it's actually handled pretty well. Sure, our happy couple both have hipster jobs, and their friends are a bunch of weirdly dressed hipster guys who never seem to be working, but the memories and sentiments are nicely put into place.

Despite how much I dislike Channing Tatum, he isn't all the unlikeable here. He plays the nice guy very well, and The Vow does a good job of not showering him with rewards just for being there. Leo has to put the effort in, and despite all he does there is certainly not the fairy tale ending you might expect. There's a bit of cliche thrown in, but for the most part it tries to stay realistic.

I went in expecting the same old crap, but the Vow surprised me. Sure, it's not great, the performances are a bit lacking in places, and it's a bit corny in places, but it's quite an enjoyable movie.

My rating: 3/5

Friday 1 June 2012

Today's Review: White Crunch

Where there's a milk chocolate bar, there's always an opportunity to bring out a white chocolate version. So here we have white chocolate Crunch.

It's basically like the lovechild of a regular Crunch and a Milkybar, and the result is pretty nice. I should just say it's like a Milkybar with crispy bits in, but you probably get the idea either way. The chocolate itself is nice, and while I wasn't sure about the pairing of crispy pieces and white chocolate, it did grow on me. So yes, a pretty nice bar, though it doesn't quite surpass the original in my view.

My rating: 4/5