Friday 31 August 2012

Today's Review: Supermalt

I wandered to the other side of town today to visit the council offices, the side of town that has a few random Carribean/Polish supermarkets dotted around. Of course, these are always good places to find new foodstuffs, and I certainly did find something. It's Supermalt, the malty, naturally wonderful energy providing beverage. It's something I could get behind. I love malt balls, I love malt shakes, I even love me a cup of Ovaltine, so how could I not love Supermalt?

I'll tell you how. Because it's fizzy. Why is it fizzy?! There's the distinctive malt flavour in there, sure, but it tastes like it's been watered down and put through a Soda Stream. Holy hell, it's so fizzy. I couldn't even get past a few sips, the fizziness just got the better of me. If it were just a flat, malt flavoured drink I would have really enjoyed it, but it was just ruined for me from the start. I had to have a sparkling guava juice just to get rid of the taste. That was quite nice. Supermalt, however, is not.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 30 August 2012

Today's Review: The Hunger Games

Hollywood sure does love a book series, don't they? What better way to keep a franchise going for years, especially when you can split the last book into two separate movies (yeah, they're doing that). So here we have The Hunger Games, first in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It takes place in a post apocalyptic America, where the nation is split into twelve slum-like districts surrounding an affluent Capitol. In the past, the districts rose up against the Capitol, but were defeated. Now, to appease the wealthy scum bags, each district must send one boy and one girl to the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death, in which the victor achieves fame, glory, and probably PTSD.

The story follows Katniss, a girl from District 12, who volunteers herself for the games after her sister is chosen in the ballot. As a well trained archer, she seems to have a good chance in the proceedings, but she is up against some very worthy opponents, the interference of the organisers watching over her, and her belief that killing a bunch of people is not necessarily a good thing to get behind.

Yes, I've heard the cries of outrage, about how this is a shameless copy of Battle Royale. But that's not correct. It's more like a shameless mashup of Battle Royale and The Truman Show, but with a backstory thrown in that gives some great indication of things to come, and gives us more cause to root for our heroes. I haven't read the books, (I don't really intend to now that I've settled on watching the movies), but I can see how the next instalments in the series are going to be something quite different, and I'm actually looking forward to being taken in an entirely new direction.

Of course, if the movie was crappy, I probably wouldn't be looking forward to more as much, and although this series may be decried as a shameless cash cow, it's actually pulled off pretty well. There are some great recognisable faces in there, such as Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson, and Jennifer Lawrence puts in a great performance as Katniss. Each and every person seems to fit their role perfectly, making us love them or hate them depending on whose side they're on.

The scope of this movie is quite grand as well. We're taken from the run down districts to the technologically superior Capitol to the lush forest where the games take place, and each area has distinct visual difference and costume designs that are very well done. Despite all this though, it did seem like the movie was over too quickly. Maybe that's a good thing, as it's almost two and a half hours long and I was left wanting more, but it just seems a bit fast paced. Just as I was getting engrossed in one point of the story, I was whisked along to the next. During the games, especially, it felt more like a methodical kill-by-numbers than horrifying fight for survival. Still, that's one of the main problems with adapting from a novel. Sometimes there's just not enough time for everything.

The Hunger Games is a very well made movie. There are some great casting choices, some good action sequences, and you can really get sucked into the future dystopia while watching. It may feel a bit rushed, but it's definitely worth watching, and I look forward to more.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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

Hey, it's another Cadbury bag. But hey, it's something new! Something I like but is hard to find! Sure, I can get some bags of Flipz from Cybercandy, but they're pretty pricey.

So yes, these are chocolate covered pretzels. If you've never had them before you're missing out. You may have had chocolate covered biscuits before, but it's the specific consistency of the pretzels, and the dash of salt thrown in that really makes these shine. Salty, chocolatey, crunchy, it's a great combination. The only downside with these Cadbury ones is they're a little on the small side. I'm sure I remember Flipz being bigger, I may be mistaken, but these are just a little too tiny, I need more to satisfy my cavernous man mouth. But they do taste good. I'm sure I'll be buying more.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Today's Review: Rolo Milkshake

Ha, I just realised how Rolo sounds like YOLO. There must be something in that, but I'm not willing to give that stupid acronym any attention. Instead, I'll talk about McDonald's Rolo milkshake. I guess it's their next step after creating every kind of McFlurry imaginable, now they just need to make every kind of milkshake. This was a good choice though.

It's as smooth as every other milkshake they provide. Definitely very chocolatey, but with a hint of caramel obviously. Not too much though, I didn't get that distinctive Rolo flavour when I was drinking, just a smooth, slightly caramel chocolate shake. So yes, more attention to detail could have been made with the flavour, but I love me a milkshake, and this was highly enjoyable. So try it before it's gone forever. ROLO!

My rating: 4/5

Monday 27 August 2012

Today's Review: Strawberry & Blueberry Mini Rolls

If there was one thing I was looking for, it was some more Union flag themed food, because I just haven't seen enough of it over the last few months. I guess Poundland dug these out from the back room though, because the wonderful proud British summer is almost over, and everyone will soon go back to saying how crap everything is.

I\m quite impressed with Cadbury for making these though. Most people just opted for changing the colour of the packaging or the actual food for their special edition stuff, but these guys are adding in a whole other flavour. They already have the red and the white, so the blueberry was a no brainer. Good move.

Sadly, they're not too fantastic. The blueberry flavour is a bit too fake and intense, holy E numbers Batman! It detracts from the strawberry a little too much, and it give me the impression that I'm ingesting a helluva lot of sugar. They taste nice, sure, but I think I prefer the original Mini Rolls.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 26 August 2012

Today's Review: Cotton Bubble Gum

Ah, Chupa Chups. You have supplied me with wonderful lollies for many years, but apparently you want to branch out, because here is a product that combines two foods, neither of which are lollies. Cotton Bubble Gum is a weird, unearthly substance. Sure, it looks and feels a bit like candy floss (cotton candy), but as you chew it quickly dissolves and comes together to form bubblegum. It's a weird, juicy process that I can't really explain, but basically the end result is you chewing a piece of gum.

I see how this could appeal to kids. Two for the price of one, novelty and all that, but to be honest I wasn't too impressed. The gum is nice, sure, but the weird candy floss substance they've managed to create from it is just really weird. I think I'd just rather grab a stick of gum anyday.

My rating: 2/5

Saturday 25 August 2012

Today's Review: Honey Pops

I remember my childhood days, when I used to see a cartoon bee flying around my TV screen, with the theme tune "Honey Nut Loops, let's loop together". The cereal was awesome too, and it has been a while since I've had any. I must remedy that.

But here we have a new bee on the block. Well, new to me anyway. It's hard to know whether these cereals I find are new or not, they may have been out in some corner of Europe for ages. But yes, here is a (I assume) female honey bee, peddling me some honey flavoured "pops". The closest thing I can compare them to is Golden Nuggets, but with less of the hillbilly, and by that I mean less roughness.

The texture of this cereal is pretty smooth, and the flavour is mellow, and very tasty. It's like a bowl of sunshine, and no, the box art is not pushing me to say that... I thoroughly enjoyed my first bowl, and I look forward to the bowls yet to come. Oh Kellogg's, you rock my cereal world.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 24 August 2012

Today's Review: Sainsbury's Bolt Energy Drinks

Bolt. Now that's the name for an energy drink. That's right up there with the likes of Relentless and Monster, names that make you feel energised, unlike Tesco's Kx that makes you stop and think for a minute. "How do you pronounce it? Are they going for some cool abbreviation, or are they attempting to make it sound like a chemical element?"

So here we have Blue Bolt, Sainsbury's own attempt at an energy drink, but one that also comes in other flavours. They were on offer, so I helped myself to mango & passion fruit and cherry & blackcurrant along with the original. As far as the original is concerned, there's not much to say. It tastes like generic cheap energy drink, and that's okay, but my focus is with the nice flavours that different companies are injecting into theirs.

Mango & passion fruit seemed the most interesting to me, but really it wasn't as good as it sounded. A little too overpowering, it isn't a particularly good use of the flavour. The cherry & blackcurrant was pretty damn good though, not quite on the level of Relentless Juiced Berry, but for an own brand drink it was surprisingly tasty. So don't get put off by the cheap stuff. If you're in Sainsbury's and want something different, give Bolt and its variants a try. Not amazing, but a pretty good effort.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 23 August 2012

Today's Review: Making Birthday Cakes

I've dabbled in baking before, it's something that I quite enjoy, especially since you get to eat the result. I can make some pretty good cookies, cupcakes, and even a mean chocolate cake. But it's our daughter's birthday next week, and while we've had cakes made for her before, we figured we'd try to make something.

Well, it didn't turn out too great. The cakes I normally make are just for those under our roof, but faced with making a cake for about 15 people it's a bit trickier. What made a nice sized cake before in my tiny cake tin creates pretty much a pancake in the big one I just bought. So many ingredients, do much space to fill. Plus when it rose it left the outside flat and the inside enormous. I guess that's what I get for not letting it settle.

So yes, making a big birthday cake is not as easy as it sounds. Perhaps I'll take some baking lessons before next year so I can be more prepared, but for now it's off to the supermarket to buy something that won't waver my daughter's faith in me. But hey, at least I get to eat the failed creations. They may look bad, but it's still cake.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Today's Review: Back Cushions

My sofa is currently a shadow of its former self. We threw the back cushions aside to hoover it before spraying it with flea spray. Again. So here I sit, my butt on a comfortable seat cushion, but my back pressed against a hard surface, and it just feels wrong.

There were times that I was content to sit against a regular old surface, all those chairs at school, hell, even stools with no backrest at all. But now I know the beauty of being able to curl up on the sofa, let those back cushions embrace my old, twisted spine. Right now I feel so uncomfortable, so incomplete. All I want to do is relax, but there's velcro scratching my t-shirt and a lump of wood digging into me. Did we ever really live before back cushions? Or was it just a trundling mediocre existence? A man has the right to press his back into a soft cushiony surface, and back cushions are there to fulfil those desires. I love you, back cushions.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Today's Review: Brave

You know it's been three years since there's been an original concept Pixar movie? That's a long time, and I think people had a lot of expectations, and probably apprehension, for this one. After all, medieval settings and princesses aren't really Pixar's thing, you can't really fit a Pizza Planet truck in there. Plus we have Disney releasing a movie full of video game characters later this year. Things seem a bit backwards. But hey, this is Pixar, and I've never given up on them.

Brave follows the exploits of Merida, the princess of a Scottish clan who is more content riding horses and shooting arrows than acting like royalty, much to the disdain of her mother, Elinor. After Merida refuses to play along in the betrothal ceremony that Elinor organises, their relationship is strained, and a chance encounter with some will-o'-the-wisps leads Merida to a catalyst for change that she desperately wants, but barely understands.

The story may seem simple on the surface, the trailer especially left me wondering what they could fill a whole movie with. But it seems like some key plot points were kept secret, and I was surprised with the direction the story took. What I thought would be a completely serious movie about a woman finding her bravery by hunting a giant bear turned out to be much more. There is still the bravery element, as implied by the title, but there are powerful themes of family, compromise and understanding. The story works on many layers, and they're all interwoven beautifully.

The animation, as expected, is flawless. Merida's ginger locks flow throughout, the Scottish countryside looks beautiful. Pixar revamped their whole animation system for the first time to make this, and it definitely shows. What they managed to do with the ocean in Finding Nemo, and space in Wall-E, they've finally managed to accomplish with land. This whole movie is just full of rich, detailed environments.

There's only one gripe I really had with Brave, it seems too fast paced most of the way through. While Merida and her family are very well fleshed out, which is the most important thing, there are other points that are just barely explained. There is a back story concerning a legend of an old kingdom that is only touched upon in passing tales, it left me wanting to know more about the mythology of this world. There's also a certain character that "helps" Merida who seems completely hollow. There's no explanation of her motivations, and I felt a lot more could have been done with the character. The movie itself is only 93 minutes long, so with an extra few scenes they really could have built up the elements that were lacking.

Still, Brave puts Pixar back on form after the good-but-not-so-great Cars 2. It's a new direction for them that they manage to pull off very well, with some great characters voiced by some great actors, and the new animation looks better than ever. Sure, it's not among their very finest work, but I certainly enjoyed it.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 20 August 2012

Today's Review: Fleas

If you've been reading this blog regularly for some reason, you'll know that I have a cat. We bought her from some random on Facebook, and despite avoiding the most obvious danger of death associated with meeting a stranger from the internet, we suffered the next worst thing. We bought a cat that they assured us was flea-free. But she was not.

We had our suspicions for a little while after we got her. She scratched quite a bit, but we didn't really see anything, and none of us felt any effects. It was only after going to the vet that they confirmed it. A quick comb through, and they said "She's covered in fleas. You'll need to spray your whole house." No, I didn't know much about this process, but I was forced to when I was informed that for every flea on the cat, there would be hundreds of eggs around my flat. But the thing is I still couldn't see them. I was assured the fleas were there, and I'd have to act quickly to stop any negative repercussions, but I found it hard to believe. Sure, I feel a little nagging itch from time to time, my brain playing tricks on me? Or is it perhaps the fleas letting me know in some small way that they're there, watching me?

Either way we didn't need too much convincing. The fleas were there, we needed to believe that, and we needed to do something about it. That something was buying a £17 can of flea spray and getting to work on every one of our rooms. It's a lot of dedication, more time that I was willing to give to beings that I couldn't even see. But eventually we had finished, and things seemed appeased for a while.

But now the niggling feelings are back. The cat is scratching again, it could be possible that the fleas are watching over me right now. We have the vets again tomorrow. Perhaps they'll tell me of the presence of the fleas, feed me more information about what I should buy and how I should live my life in order to appease the fleas. Will I believe them this time? I don't know. But I get the feeling that the more their existence is discussed, the more I'll feel them. One day, just one day, I may find Fleasus.

Seriously though, fleas can go suck a bag of dicks.

My rating: 0/5

Sunday 19 August 2012

Today's Review: Refreshers Squashies

Well, I didn't think I'd find another flavour so quickly. Here we have squashy Refresher pieces, and the same positive points from the last review hold true. No elongated, sticky bars, no sherbet spraying everywhere when you open the packet.

These ones just aren't as great in my opinion. The yellow ones taste exactly like the yellow bars, but the strawberry ones seem a little bit off, not that tasty. I suppose I find Refreshers bars less annoying and more satisfying to eat than Drumstick lollies, so while these Squashies are nice, they're not perfect.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 18 August 2012

Today's Review: Drumstick Squashies

I have eaten a fair number of Drumstick lollies over the years, and what really frustrates me is how damn sticky they get, and how they never manage to stay on the stick for long, and how they stretch so damn much, and how they're a bit too chewy.

Apparently these guys read my mind, because here we have Drumstick Squashies. They're basically like Drumsticks but in gum form. Which is awesome. Sure, they have a slightly softer consistency, but they have the exact same Drumstick flavour that we all love. There's none of the mess, and I think I actually prefer the texture of these to the actual lolly. Whoever came up with these is a genius. Now all I need to do is find the Love Hearts and Refreshers versions that the back of the packet tells me exist.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 17 August 2012

Today's Review: The Front Page Of The Sun Today

This is it. This is what we, as a species, have come to. There are people who exist in the world, professional people, people in charge of a nationwide publication, who think that this is front page material.

I get the hype around the story. An average couple wins massive amounts on the lottery, everyone rejoices, it's good news for a change, it shows that any one of us can receive good fortune. But when the pictures of the smiling couple become overused, apparently it's time to trawl back through the story for anything remotely interesting. So instead of having a front page dedicated to any matter of importance in the world, we get a crappy quality grainy picture with a terrible pun and a headline that screams "Ha, look at this unlucky bastard, he almost got the winning ticket but in fact he didn't"

This is not news. It's on the base level of a gossip magazine. It's unimportant and opinionated. Oh wait, it's The Sun. That's completely normal then. Carry on.

My rating: 0/5

Thursday 16 August 2012

Today's Review: Power Horse

Every time I go in one of these pound shops there's a different energy drink. Where do they keep coming from? Do they just come up with a different name every week? I think that's probably it, because they all taste the damn same.

So here was have Power Horse. I don't know whether it's meant to give you extra horse power, or grant you the powers of a horse. Although my gallop didn't improve, and I could barely whinny coherently, so I assume it's the former. There's really not much to say. As I've said, it tastes like all the other weirdly named energy drinks you can pick up. It's nothing special, but if you want a cheap pick me up it does the trick. 

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Today's Review: Getting A Filling

I went to the dentist today for the first time in a long time. Tut tut, you may say, but there was really nothing bothering me about my teeth that I felt demanded urgent attention. There was a spot between tow of my front teeth that periodically bled while brushing, and this is what I mentioned to the dentist during my checkup. Well, it turns out my teeth were all pretty good, but that spot where the bleeding was happening had a cavity.

Well damn, that's not what you want to hear about your front teeth. But luckily enough, the dentist told me she'd put a white filling in there, and she could do it right now if I wanted. Not wanting my new dentist to think I had commitment issues, I quickly agreed. After all, there's no time like the present. So onwards we went. She asked if I'd like to have the area numbed first, informing me that it wouldn't be too uncomfortable but there would be some pain. Here's the catch-22 of dentistry. I've had fillings before, I've also had orthodontic work in the past, and the injection they give you to numb any potential pain goes right in the roof of your mouth and hurts like a bitch. So I figured I'd try it sans goofy juice, 'cause I'm a big tough man, I can take it, and also I had work straight after and I didn't want to slur my way through the shift. There'd probably be some drooling involved too. Not pretty.

So the procedure began. Some nice light cleaning of the area, I love all those suction and spray pipes that rid you of your need to swallow saliva. "This isn't too bad" I thought, foolishly. Then came the drill. There's a funny thing about being in pain when two people are staring intently into your mouth. Normally your first reaction when in pain is to shield the painful area, and also to moan or contort your face in some way. But when a dentist is directly causing pain by cutting away at one of your teeth, there's not much you can do to convey it. Well, if it was bad enough I'm sure I could have reached out to slap them or something, but it wasn't excruciating, just pretty painful.

So here I was, laying in a chair, a woman literally boring a hole in my tooth while another harvested my saliva for probably nefarious purposes, and all my body could do to respond to the situation was to widen my eyes to a look of intense discomfort and pain. Not that it helped, these are dentists, not opticians, they probably don't even know what eyes are. Soon, it was over. When the tools were out of my face I had a sneaky little tongue of the affected area, and discovered a pretty massive hole. How is this meant to help? "Oh, I see bacteria have caused a small cavity in your tooth. Let me fix it by making it bigger". But I guess them's the breaks in the dentist world.

After that it was pretty simple. Some amount of stuff got jammed into my newly acquired tooth hole, and the assistant kept pointing what appeared to be a laser gun at it until it beeped enough times. I wasn't sure of the details because I was more concerned with getting out of the room alive, but at the end of it I had no hole, and instead a build up of what seems like dried super glue at the back of my tooth, which I have been assured will fall off in due time. But all in all I must say it wasn't a very pleasant experience. If someone informs you that they decided to have a filling one day and really enjoyed it, I don't think you should believe them. They're probably wrong in the head or something.

My rating: 0/5

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Today's Review: The Colour Green

I never used to like the colour green. It seemed that out of all the colours in the world, green was the one that represented the highest number of disgusting things. there's snot, vomit, generic slime... Well, they're probably not all naturally green, but that's the colour you see them portrayed as on TV and the like. So I guess green has a bad rap in the media. 

But now I've grown up. My opinions have changed slightly. Green is probably still my least favourite colour, but my prejudices have faded. I have come to embrace darker greens in my clothing, apparently they can make me look quite dashing (not my words, probably not anyone else's either, I'm paraphrasing). I used to hate lighter greens the most, but now my kitchen has lime green all over it, and I have to admit that while it wasn't my choice, it doesn't look too shabby. You know what else is green? Old school aliens apparently, before they got all insectoid and gross, and although they'd probably try and kill us, aliens are badass. 

So if you really hate a colour, just give it a chance. Let it grow on you. You might be pleasantly surprised with which shades can change your mind. Sure, I still don't think too highly of green, what with snot, vomit, bile and the like. But green can also represent nice things, like grass and apples, and even though it is the colour of slime, that brings me back to the time when Dave Benson Phillips dumped it on people's heads, back when it was perfectly fine to do so. Those were the days.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 13 August 2012

Today's Review: Fiery Irn Bru

I do enjoy a bit of Irn Bru on the odd occasion that I find some, same goes for Tizer, but I prefer Irn Bru. So to find out there was a limited edition was exciting, but to discover it was "fiery" made me apprehensive.

What makes it fiery? A "secret ingredient" apparently. I couldn't find out what it is, but I'll assume it's capsicum powder, because this drink is pretty spicy. It's like they took a can of Irn Bru, took out all the nice flavour and just replaced it with the hotness of a harsh ginger beer. I suppose you can make out a hint of the traditional Irn Bur in there, but soon after that your taste buds cry and all you can taste are flames.

I jest, somewhat. It's not too hot, but it's certainly enough to not make it a very enjoyable experience. Just stick with the original, fellas. 

My rating: 1/5

Sunday 12 August 2012

Today's Review: Monster X-Presso

Is it Monster? Is it coffee? Is it Monster coffee? Yes, it's Monster coffee. Not content with taking over the energy drink business, Monster have decided to produce this interestingly coloured can, which promises "coffee + energy", which I guess means twice the energy. I don't know. How much is an energy?

Yes, it's been done before, and the comparison was instantly made between this and the Starbucks Double Shot Espresso. It's the same drink basically. But this one is a lot smoother, milkier. None of the slightly bad aftertaste you get with Starbucks. It seems like Monster know what they're doing a lot of the time, and apart from that Rehab drink, I've enjoyed everything they've thrown at me. This is another hit.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 11 August 2012

Today's Review: Eating Melon

I bought a melon today, haven't done that in a while. Sure, I've had the chunks that you get in fruit salads and the like, but not an actual whole melon. I like the idea of it though. A big old juicy melon, just ripe for the cutting and eating. So I set that bad boy down on the counter, cut myself a slice, and got ready to chow down.

Wait, how do I eat this again? Don't get me wrong, I'm not new to this. I did the whole criss-cross cuts with the knife business. But no matter how deep I dig that knife, no matter how efficiently I pluck that piece of melon out with my teeth, there's always some left over. Sure, I could sit there with a spoon and scoop it out, but I want to bury my face in it and claim victory over that fruit as nature intended. There's just no way to do it without getting juice all over my face.

It's that shape, man, that distinct melon shape that just doesn't gel well with our jawbones. But I guess it's a testament to the melon's tastiness that I want to dig right to the very bottom of the juicy flesh, it's so good I want to be covered in the juices. So yes, it's not too easy to eat a melon with just your face, it's quite messy, but it sure is satisfying.

My rating: 4/5 

Friday 10 August 2012

Today's Review: Honey Shreddies

I don't have a bad word to say about Shreddies. I love the original variety, and then they went ahead and added chocolate, sugar, even orange chocolate, and every one of them has turned out great. Now here we have Honey Shreddies. I don't know how long they've been around, but this is the first time I've seen them. It's nice they add so much to reassure me of the flavour. Not only are they named "Honey Shreddies", the box is also honey coloured, and there's a honeycomb tucked into the top corner, as if to say "Yeah, that kind of honey, the stuff that comes from these".

So safe in the knowledge that I was not about beautiful lady Shreddies, I poured myself a big bowl of these bad boys. The verdict? Fantastic. A nice, sweet flavour that blends very nicely with the wheaty texture of the Shreddies. Not too overpowering, just right. If you like your Shreddies, you're gonna want to try these.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday 9 August 2012

Today's Review: Battleship

Hey, remember that time when you were playing Battleship with someone and the entire enemy fleet, that you previously thought matched yours in every way, actually turned out to be a few alien spaceships? Me neither, but apparently we've been playing the wrong board game, because this movie is based on some seldom played kickass alien version of Battleship. Why they licensed a board game before making a movie with only a passing reference to it is beyond me. But hey, Hasbro have probably maxed out sales of Transformers and My Little Pony, so they need to start selling some other stuff I guess.

So here we have Battleship, the most self-gratifying American movie I have ever seen, even more so than Transformers. Taylor Kitsch stars as Alex Hooper, a complete jackass who gets up to all kinds of shenanigans. After the movie spends an inordinate amount of time chronicling Alex's attempts to break into a mini mart to steal a burrito for a woman, we flash forward to seven years later, where he has successfully risen through the ranks of the US Navy. Yes, even the dumbest Americans are better than you. While on a routine naval exercise off the coast of Hawaii, some strange alien craft crash land in the ocean, and it is eventually up to Alex Hooper to kick their asses, because America. You see, the aliens are there because scientists have been sending off signals to other planets, and clearly scientists are wrong, because these aliens become hostile after the Navy shoots at them. Stupid scientists. Also, there's a subplot where Alex's girlfriend is accompanying a Navy amputee on a hike in the midst of the alien attack, and it's up to him to kick ass and get the scientist to clear things up so the Navy can step in and solve everything by blowing shit up. Because even an American in the Navy with no legs is more badass than some scientist.

This movie is pretty much everything you'd expect. Explosions, one liners, more explosions, sweeping patriotic music, different coloured explosions, lens flare, and also some explosions. Sure, it looks nice, but there's nothing spectacular here. Plus Rihanna's in it. I'm not even sure what to say about that. Still, if you're after a mindless action flick, and haven't been able to fill that hole of robots, explosions and bad gags that Dark Of The Moon left in your soul, then you can't go wrong with this one. In the end, it's all a bit of fun. Basically, since I'm watching this in the wake of Curiosity's landing on Mars, the only message I can take away from this movie is that the advancement of science is threatening to expose us to all kinds of alien shit, and only the military can take care of it. So stop funding space phone calls, and keep on buying missiles. Because America. Navy. Ooorah. Wait, that's the Marines. Well, okay, them too. 'Murica.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Today's Review: Silica Gel

Ah, silica gel. Where would we be without it? Probably in the same place, but with slightly damper shoes. I'm not reviewing silica gel for its useful abilities inside my show boxes. It has other uses to me. Any time I think about how we as humans have advanced as a species, how intelligence and innovation are some of our key qualities, all I have to do is think of a packet of silica gel to remind me there are still some really stupid people out there.

What else does it say on the packet apart from "silica gel"? "Do not eat" of course. This implies one thing. That someone once bought a pair of shoes, cracked open the box, saw an unknown substance nestled between his new footwear, and thought "You know what? I bet that's delicious". Hours later, lying in hospital, gravely ill from the moisture that this substance absorbed from him, they asked why the hell he would eat silica gel. His only reply? "Well, it didn't tell me not to eat it. So now we have to be reminded which things are probably not good to eat, because we can't figure that shit out on our own.

Do you feel pride in the human race? Then take a gander at a pack of silica gel. Guaranteed to instantly humble you.

My rating: 1/5

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Today's Review: Wotsits Wafflers

According to my darling wife-to-be, these things were around for a while when we were kids, but I sure don't remember them. So when I spotted them in Poundland I had to grab a pack for her, even though she only remembers the cheese ones. But the blurb at the top right assures me that yes, these were once a thing.

Wotsits Wafflers are waffle shaped Wotsits. As such, they're more structured, so they're crunchier than your average Wotsit, so really they're like differently shaped Frazzles. I just wish I could try the cheese flavoured ones, because I've never been a fan of meat flavoured crisps. Still, these weren't so bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to look for another pack. I much prefer the cheesy originals.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 6 August 2012

Today's Review: Ted

Yes, Seth MacFarlane has wandered into movie territory, and strangely under Universal instead of Fox. Oh well, maybe they didn't like the swears.

Ted (MacFarlane) was once just an average teddy bear, owned by John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg). But when John made a wish that Ted could come to life, it came true, and while the bear was thrust into the limelight for a while, John and Ted simply grew up together as best friends. Which means, of course, that this teddy bear loves to swear, drink and bang hookers. But when Ted appears to be putting a strain on John's relationship with his girlfriend (Mila Kunis), it seems like it might be time for this man to leave his teddy bear behind.

It's a romantic comedy, with a talking teddy bear. It's a foul mouthed Family Guy, you know, before there was a family. The comparisons are inevitable, because this is so obviously a MacFarlane movie. His natural, Peter Griffin voice comes unabashedly from Ted, and the pop culture and self referential jokes run rife as always. But it's a bit of a breath of fresh air seeing as Family Guy has become all awkward cutaways and overused gags. This is a new situation, with new characters, and while many aspects are similar to Family Guy it's a good movie in its own right.

Not that it's without its flaws, obviously. I was fine with all the similarities with McFarlane's other work, but there were a few points where random bits were thrown in that didn't quite work. Also, Mark Wahlberg's accent was really weird. I guess he was going for Boston, but Ted doesn't say his words weird like that.

So yes, I would recommend Ted. It's a well made comedy, and while the humour may run a little dry or depend too much a knowledge of pop culture, there are quite a few genuine laugh out loud moments. It's not a perfect movie, but for his first, MacFarlane has managed to pull it all together nicely.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 5 August 2012

Today's Review: Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer

I'm not particularly a fan of either alcohol or ginger beer, but I felt compelled to try this because it's quirky and unique, like a beautiful snowflake, and me, according to my mummy.

This alcoholic ginger beer is just that, ginger beer with alcohol, but the alcohol site isn't overpowering. I managed to finish the whole bottle without getting sick of the taste, which is good for me. It's not too heavy on the ginger either, so it's really a smooth, mellow experience all the way through. Way better than I was expecting.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 4 August 2012

Today's Review: Tesco's Scan As You Shop

I love a bit of technology, I do. I was pretty excited when the self service tills came along, but now look at what we have. It's a handheld scanner you can take around Tesco, scanning each product as you go, and you simply pay at the end. Awesome stuff. You have to agree to their lengthy terms and conditions, but they're pretty much summed up as "scan everything, steal nothing, but if you do we'll fine the shit out of you". If you're cool with that, just scan your clubcard on the large wall of scanners, and a receptacle glows for you, willing you to pick up your one true scanner.

It's a pretty neat piece of machinery. It fits nicely in your hand, or in the little scanner holders they've put in each trolley. It's touchscreen, and has quite a few buttons as well, so it's quite easy to cancel any items you've mis-scanned or don't want. It updates the price as you go as well, letting you know how much you've saved through offers. It even lets you know which products are on offer when you scan them, I was mightily impressed with all the things this little device could do.

One of the best things about it is that you can pack as you go. No need to bundle it all stressfully into bags at the checkout, you can methodically pack as you make your way through the aisles, providing you grabbed a few bags on the way in or brought your own. You may think this would arouse suspicion from employees, but we had no trouble. Of course there are staff members on hand to make sure you pay for everything at the end, and there is a random check they carry out, but this just involves scanning a few items to make sure they've been registered. All in all it was a pain free experience, and the kids were pretty entertained by scanning our groceries. Here's to the future of the supermarket. What next, RFID tags that charge your card as you walk out of the store? Yeah, that'd be awesome. But this will do for now.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 3 August 2012

Today's Review: Choka Blok's Peanut Butter Nutter

Peanut butter. I love the stuff, but I've met a lot of people who hate it. There's nothing quite like tucking into a big old peanut butter sandwich, and that's all I did with the stuff for a long time. Then I discovered that in America peanut butter is one of the main food groups, and suddenly peanut butter was as versatile as cheese, everything is better with it. Peanut butter and jelly? Good stuff. Peanut butter chocolate bars? Delightful. Peanut butter burgers? Yes, still good.

The UK has been quite slow in catching up with this whole peanut butter thing, I can never find a jar of Goobers around here. But the good folks at Choka Blok are helping the movement along with this peanut butter infused ice cream. Of course, it lives up to its name, it's chock full of stuff. We have peanut butter flavoured ice cream, mixed with caramel swirls and chocolate chunks, wrapped in chocolate embedded with peanut pieces. Does that sound good? Well, it is. The first bite has a distinctly peanut buttery flavour, and while I was expecting it to be a bit odd, it was  pretty damn tasty. Unfortunately the flavour faded as I progressed, but the rest of the contents kept my taste buds busy, and there definitely was a hint of peanut butter throughout. It's an intriguing combination of stuff shoved into one bar, but for me, it's a winner.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday 2 August 2012

Today's Review: The Griffin Survivor Case

I got a shiny new iPhone 4S the other day, and naturally I was scared to even touch it in case I scratched it. But now I can live safe in the knowledge that it would be fine if I threw it straight across a car park. Why? Because I got a badass case.

The Griffin Survivor case is like 2 cases in one, but better. It comes with a snap on plastic case, which then fits snugly into a chunky rubber receptacle for ultimate protection. Just watch this video, see the punishment this case can go through. It may make the phone twice as thick, but at least I know that when I want to take this phone out to sell it it will be in fantastic condition.

Of course, there is some trade off, on top of the aforementioned chunkiness. It makes the phone pretty heavy, and all of the slots and speakers are covered by thick rubbery flaps which you have to move out of the way whenever you want to access them. That's the only reason I was unsure about buying this thing, I'm a sucker for nerdy novelties, and was severely tempted to get some video game related snap case. But then I realised, what's nerdier than a case for your phone that can withstand being chucked down an icy hill? It may be a little ugly, but it's an awesome product.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Today's Review: The Lorax

I'm not sure what to think of Illumination. They did pretty well with Despicable Me, but then they churned out Hop, which was not particularly great. But I was quite excited to see they were making a movie based on a Dr. Seuss story, seeing as the recent Horton Hears A Who adaptation is one of the only non-Disney/Pixar animated features I love. Did they deliver?

Zac Efron stars as Ted, a boy living in the city of Thneedville, which has no natural plant life. Of course this cuts down on the air supply, but the villainous O'Hare is on hand to sell air to the residents for a hefty price. But Ted's freakishly tall crush Audrey (Taylor Swift) has a dream of seeing a real life tree, so without a second thought Ted rushes out of town to find the Once-ler, a man who has a story about what happened to the trees, a story involving a little orange man known as The Lorax (Danny DeVito).

If you can't get the environmental message this movie is putting across then you probably have no thought processes and are legally dead. Still, they present it in a nice enough manner, the preaching guardian of the forest is particularly delightful, because he's voiced by Danny DeVito, and that man can do no wrong. The whole O'Hare air storyline is quite inventive too, especially as none of that was in the book to begin with.

But this movie cannot be carried on story alone, and it's when observing the rest that the cracks start to appear. See, the story isn't that complex, and there's a lot of stuff thrown in just for the novelty and cheap laughs. Most of the forest creatures in the backstory are just annoying, especially the fish who spend their time screeching theme songs and bad impressions. There are a whole bunch of songs thrown in for good measure too, but none of them are very good. In fact, there was something off about the sound in general. I wouldn't normally make a point of this, but it was prevalent throughout the whole movie. Backing vocals in songs were way too quiet, as were background sound effects during action sequences. It just felt very wrong when there was a lot of stuff going on in a scene.

I do hold The Lorax in higher esteem than Hop, but I can't say it's a great movie. It's good, sure, but it seems to be riddled with annoying filler and other flaws. After Illumination kicked out a really good movie with Despicable Me, I figured they'd be able to iron out the creases with this one. It just seems like they gave up before they could really make it something great.

My rating: 3/5