Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Today's Review: Soju

One of my friends returned from South Korea this week, so of course the customary thing to do was to meet up and go for some drinks. He'd brought a surprise home though, namely a bottle of Soju, an alcoholic beverage particularly popular in Korea. He also got me some Angry Birds socks, which is awesome, but I'm reviewing this thing right now.

Soju is basically like vodka. This particular kind was around 20% in volume, which Wikipedia ensures me is like most varieties. Koreans like to sweeten everything up though, so it's a much more pleasant experience than drinking straight vodka. Sure, you still get that telltale vodka burning sensation, but it's a much more mellow experience.

The real benefit is in the price. These bottles cost 1000 won each, which is around $1, or 60p. That's cheap even for a regular bottled drink, let alone stuff that makes you drunk. Hell, I briefly considered moving out there just so I could drink lots of this stuff, but then I realised that I'm not an alcoholic. Really, it's a good thing for me though, because for several years now I have stayed away from drinking due to the sheer cost and bad taste involved with drinking alcohol. Many people pride themselves on their ability to drink vast amounts of alcohol and not get wasted, but to me if you can get good and drunk for the cheapest possible price it's just good sense. Seeing as this stuff doesn't taste too bad and could easily take its toll on your body for just a few pounds, it's a big winner for me.

I don't know how I'd get on with drinking it in its native land though. There is a lot of etiquette involved in the drinking, it's a big tradition over there. We were taught a couple of drinking games involved with the bottle though, such as twisting the excess plastic away from the bottle cap and taking it in turns to try and flick it off. There's also a number just inside the cap that everyone has to try and guess. They're nice resourceful games to play, but it doesn't really matter who wins, because both the losers and winners end up drinking anyway.

Overall it was a nice little taste of the Korean lifestyle. I don't know much about the rest of it, but I know if I ever find myself stranded in Korea I can at least drown my sorrows for a very small amount of money.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Today's Review: Hanna

When I first saw the cover of Hanna, I figured it was a foreign movie that was kind of like Leon. Don't ask me why, 'cause it's neither. Never judge a movie by its DVD case. In fact, Hanna is about a girl named Hanna, surprise surprise, played by Saoirse Ronan. She has been brought up in the wilds of Finland by her father, Erik (Eric Bana). She has been trained to fight, hunt, speak several languages and to generally be a complete bad ass. But, at the age of 16 she fianlly feels she is ready to go out into the brave world, or in this case, to fulfill the secret mission planned for her. So with the flip of a switch the story begins.

You see, there is a CIA agent named Marissa Weigler (Cate Blanchett) who is intent on finding them, but Erik's plan is for him and Hanna to find her first. This sparks a chase through several countries across Europe, with each party gaining the upper hand on each other at some point. While Hanna discovers the technological wonders of the world that she has been sheltered from, Weigler hires a few baddies, led by the menacing Isaacs (Tom Hollander) to ensure she is tracked down.

Hanna is a great movie. The characters are all so clear cut and distinct, from Blanchett's cold hearted and smooth professional to Hollander's unrelenting killer. Every actor throughout gives it their all, and there are moments where the scenes become quite Tarantino like in nature due to the characterisation, visual and dialogue at play.

The movie works on many levels. While I was completely taken along for the ride and loved every minute, upon watching the bonus features I discovered a whole new layer to Hanna that I hadn't noticed before. It's a great chase movie, but also manages to have some chilling and surreal settings, and while there is some comic relief, it comes in the form of a family that Hanna meets on her journey, and isn't wedged into the existing characters where it could so easily take the edge off their performances.

Visually Hanna is a great movie. There are great settings and set pieces, and some of the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed. On top of the visuals there is also a custom soundtrack throughout written by The Chemical Brothers, which effectively mixes in sound effects from the movie and provides the perfect musical accompaniment to the movie, especially the theme provided for Isaacs, which stuck in my head for several days after watching.

I'm surprised that Joe Wright, whose previous movies have been mainly dramas, has managed to pull out all the stops and deliver a great suspenseful action thriller movie. He clearly had some untapped potential, and you can tell that he poured a lot of love into Hanna. It's a great looking movie with an awesome soundtrack and memorable characters played flawlessly. What more could you want?

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 29 August 2011

Today's Review: Wrecked

Wrecked looked like a promising movie, kinda like Unknown but in the wilderness. Unfortunately it wasn't. Wrecked stars Adrien Brody as a guy who wakes up in a wrecked car in the middle of a forest, his leg trapped and a dead body in the back seat. How did he get there? Who is he? Conveniently he doesn't know.

Wrecked is like one of those "let's stay in one place" movies, though for me Buried has dominated that genre. Wrecked is more like a version of Frozen but with some amnesia thrown in. You see, while our hero(?) is trying to figure out what the hell is going on, there's a mountain lion eating the remains of the couple of corpses resulting from the crash, and he's probably next. Eventually he does get out of the car though, I don't consider that a spoiler because otherwise you might think this is a movie consisting entirely of Adrien Brody flailing round in a car seat and moaning. When he does get out though the movie is only slightly less slow. Since his leg is hurt we're reduced to instead watching Adrien Brody awkwardly crawl around the wilderness for the rest of the movie. There are certain clues that pop up along the way that begin to reveal how he got there and who he is, and it all falls into place eventually, but the movie in a whole is just quite boring.

Brody does a great job with what he's given though. Being pretty much the only actor in the movie he managed to keep some amount of interest by portraying the injured, confused, crawling guy quite effectively. Unfortunately the story just isn't that inspired, and it seems to drag on for far too long despite running in at under the 90 minute mark. There was some potential with the premise, but not enough was done with it to keep me interested. Wrecked is not an awful movie, it's just quite boring.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Today's Review: Hitting Your Fingernail With A Hammer Several Times

We've been laying laminate flooring for a few days, and while it's been tedious and very frustrating I decided to add an element of fun to the proceedings. So in the interests of human curiosity and the advancement of the knowledge of our species, I took it upon myself to find out what happens if you hit your finger while hammering.

Let me reiterate that I intended to do this, as hitting my fingernail with a hammer several times by accident would be a silly thing to do. Anyway, onto the results. The first time I smacked my nail, the pain was quite immense. Bruising appeared after a very short time, and it was difficult to use my finger afterwards due to the pain from applying pressure on the injury. Still, it was bearable.

The second time was a doozy. Of course hitting myself in the exact same place with the exact same hammer two days straight would be an extremely moronic thing to do by accident, this was purely for science. After the strike the pain was even worse, and I found myself almost curling into the foetal position willing the pain to stop. Thankfully this pain soon passed, and not much more bruising was added to the nail. While the finger is still rendered slightly useless for taking DVDs out of cases, which I do a lot of at work , I can type and perform most other tasks with little discomfort.

Here is the result of my experiment:

Overall, the experience, while initially causing a lot of pain, is not really painful most of the time, only when applying pressure to the affected area. Still, the only effects seem to be pain and an unsightly bruise, and I see no way in which the action of hitting yourself repeatedly with a hammer could be beneficial. Perhaps something happens after the fourth or fifth whack, but after two I thought it was a safe bet not to try again.

My rating: 1/5

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Today's Review: Hop

I was starting to think that maybe I should get off my Pixar loving high horse. CG animated movies have started to not be awful, and I thought newcomer Illumination was onto something when they made Despicable Me and it was actually, you know, quite good. But thankfully they have followed it up with Hop and confirmed my previous opinion.

Hop follows the misadventures of E.B. (guess what those initials stand for), voiced by Russell Brand. He is the son of the Easter Bunny (oh, just gave away the answer), and is therefore the next in line to take up the role. Problem is, he doesn't want to be the Easter Bunny, because he likes drumming instead. To be fair, he's actually a pretty talented musician, seeing as he often plays along to a song perfectly despite not hitting the right drums at the right time. Anyway, E.B. decides to escape from his home on Easter Island (that's as original as it gets, folks) and make his way to Hollywood to follow his dreams.

Of course, it turns out the real world has real humans in it, and E.B. quickly runs into Fred O'Hare (wait a minute, that sounds bunny related!), played by James Marsden. Fred is a bit of a slacker, and his parents want him to get a job or they'll be really ashamed of him, just like E.B.'s dad is slightly ashamed of E.B. Turns out the best plot point to put into a movie is how much you disappoint your parents sometimes. Fred is coincidentally housesitting for his sister's boss in a Beverly Hills mansion, and E.B. decides to crash there and generally make mischief and mess up everything Fred is trying to achieve, i.e. getting a job. Also there are some rabbits in pink berets trying to capture E.B. and take him home, and the head chick for the candy production plant on Easter Island is planning a coup to take over as the Easter Bunny. I don't know, it's all unnecessarily complex.

As you can tell by my trailing off in the last paragraph, the plot leaves a lot to be desired. It seems like someone had an idea to make a movie about the Easter Bunny, but then couldn't think of much else so he added in several song and dance routines, silly slapstick humour and a stupid ending. Everything that made Despicable Me so endearing is pretty much nowhere to be found in Hop, it's like they were made by different companies entirely. The characters aren't very likeable, and there's just nothing massively entertaining about the whole thing.

It does look nice though, I'll give it that. The blend of live action and CG, which I don't particularly like, is seamless. It's like a new age Who Framed Roger Rabbit, except without the whole being a good movie thing. The animation itself is very nice to look at, and I only wish as much effort went in to rounding out the plot as it did making the characters.

In short, Hop is not great. It'll probably keep the kids entertained, but there's so much better out there, and I'm pretty disappointed that Illumination, having shown so much potential with their debut, have managed to mess it up a bit with this outing.

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 26 August 2011

Today's Review: Scotch Eggs

Look at it. Disgusting right? Wrong! I love a good Scotch egg, even if I do feel a bit dirty eating one. Why do I feel dirty? I have no idea. I think I get the impression that there's a stigma surrounding the food, the same as there is with pork pies. I may be imagining it, but it seems like eating these kind of deli items makes me look a bit like a scavenging hobo, especially when I bite into an entire one as I am wont to do.

Maybe people are just racist. A lot of people have negative views of Scotland, apparently all they do is get drunk and angry about their independence or lack thereof, and then eat a sheep's guts for some reason. But I have no quarrel with them, and despite my warped views on other people's opinions on Scotch eggs, I bloody love 'em. They're certainly not the best food, but they're cheap and filling, and pretty tasty. So don't worry if people don't love you, Scotch egg, I will always be there for you.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Today's Review: Assembling Bunk Beds

Today was a busy day. Our flat is currently in a complete mess because we ordered a crapload of furniture and there's stuff everywhere waiting to take its rightful place on the stuff that hasn't arrived yet. But today we took a plunge and started painting and laying laminate flooring in the kids' bedroom. As if that wasn't draining enough, when it got to 7pm, the kids' bedtime, we decided it would probably be a good thing if they had a bed to sleep on tonight, they've been sleeping on just mattresses for the past two nights. So we cracked open the bunk beds we received yesterday and got to making.

We finished at half past 10. It was an awful experience. Putting one bed together is bad enough, but putting two together? Then attaching them to one another? Awful. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was one of those lovely flat packed  ones. Sure, it was a flat pack, it came with all the fittings and stuff, but most of the screws didn't have holes to screw into, attaching 28 slats with my bare hands has made my body hate me. The instructions even explicitly tell you not to use an electric screwdriver, so I can only assume they expect you to develop superhuman screwing powers. I ended up wearing marigolds just to get the grip I needed to grind those screws into the solid wood they're meant to connect to.

Still, I suppose the instructions were clear enough, and we had all the parts. Both kids are now asleep in their beds and they haven't collapsed yet, so that's a pretty good thing. But why no holes, you awful people that made these beds? You could have at least punctured the pieces in the right places so I don't have to guess as to how far apart to put the slats.

While it was a quite horrifying experience, perhaps an earlier start would have made it more bearable. But as it stands it was just awkward and annoying. Also my hands still hurt.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Today's Review: Uglies Cookies

It's always nice to get some new kind of snack in the food delivery at work, even though my curious nature compels me to buy and eat it immediately. Today we got a box of Star Bars and these strange little things. Thankfully they weren't massively overpriced, just 32p after discount, but the box had two different flavours, which is a dastardly way of making me part with more money just to get the full experience.

From what I can tell by the packaging, these cookies may not look great, but they taste good. Apparently not only are these cookies ugly, they also have crazy eyes and like to sit amongst splatters of paint. But enough of looking with my eyes, it's time to look with my mouth.

Woah, wait a minute. Yup, they're pretty ugly. At the bottom we have the cocoa flavour, which looks like a bumpy turd, and at the top we have the honeycomb variety, which looks like a turd from someone who's eaten lots of sweetcorn. While they certainly fit into the Uglies moniker, perhaps they'd be better off being called "small bits of turd cookies", though I see how that could affect their likelihood of being bought and eaten.

I realise I haven't given any sense of scale in these pictures. These cookies are tiny. Really tiny. One little mouthful and they're gone, there's no waiting around. So while they weren't massively overpriced, they were still overpriced. It was my only hope that they taste good.

Thankfully they're quite nice. I don't see how someone can call them cookies, in reality they're just chunks of chocolate with little bits stuck in it. See, they sound more like turds every minute. Still, the chocolate is good and the pieces are plentiful and tasty. I can't really tell you more than that because the experience doesn't last long. A few chews and it's all over. I've found mention of little packets of several cookies, so there is hope, but I wouldn't shell out a lot of money for these individually wrapped ones.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Today's Review: Babies

Yeah, I'm not reviewing babies in general, that could take a while. Instead we have a movie called Babies, a documentary about four babies from different parts of the world during the first year of their life. Our babies hail from Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and California, and the camera follows them all pretty equally.

Of course, the aim is to show how different cultures raise their children, and how those children develop and grow. These are certainly very different environments, from the dusty heat of Africa to the colonial Mongolia, and onto the busy city centre of Tokyo and the suburbian American life. Babies is certainly a documentary, but it's not your average documentary. There is no narrator, and no parents talk to the camera, they are only seen in scenes alongside their children. The main focus is the babies, and only the babies. The movie follows them from just after they are born and carries on through their first steps and words, capturing their curiosity and reactions to the world along the way.

It could be compared to a nature documentary in a way, watching these animals in their natural habitat. But the beauty of it is that no explanations are needed. The actions and facial expression of the babies are enough to understand what they are thinking or trying to do. The other major advantage of just focusing on the babies is that despite the vastly different cultures around them, they still develop in pretty much the same way. Sure, we see the American baby partaking in some Yoga, and the Namibian baby learning to balance items on his head at a young age, but these scenes are interspersed with clips of all four babies going through the same processes. Breast feeding, learning to eat by themselves, learning words from their siblings and parents, and taking their first steps. All of these stages serve as a reminder that despite how different people in the world are, we all started out the same.

Babies is wonderfully shot. It was clearly a laborious process to select the clips for just 80 minutes of video from a year's worth of footage for each child, and they certainly have picked many cute and fascinating shots. While it certainly is a novel approach to film just babies for the entirety of the movie, it does start to drag a little, and the short running time is probably a good thing to avoid losing the audience.

Of course, this is a movie for those who like babies. It was great watching through and picking out some of the things that my own children did when they were younger, and now that I am in parent mode it gave me plenty of warm fuzzy feelings inside. If you don't like babies, you won't like this, though why you'd consider a movie called Babies in that case is beyond me.

Babies is a a nice little movie. It's a very neat idea, and is well executed, even if it does start to get a bit boring after a while. But ladies, beware. Upon watching Babies you will most likely develop an insatiable desire to bear a child, so make sure there aren't any ineligible men nearby that you may accidentally leap on.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 22 August 2011

Today's Review: Bacon Popcorn

I found my last packet of bacon popcorn while going through the cupboards the other day. I got some at Christmas, and the other two packs were consumed long before I started reviewing. But it was as good a time as ever to stick this baby in my microwave and chow down on some bacon goodness.

"Bacon popcorn? How absurd!", I hear you cry, but you're forgetting that everything is better with bacon, because that's the American way. You can tell this is an American product because it has some of that weird, streaky, thin rectangular bacon you see in the States, and not the good rounded chunky stuff you get over here. You also know it's American because it's bacon popcorn. Anyway, the guys who made bacon popcorn have also created bacon salt and Baconnaise, so this is probably made with some loving bacon experience. So into the microwave it went.

Oooh yeah, nothing like a big inflated bag of freshly popped corn, with steam still rising from the openings. Unless that steam is actually black smoke. Thankfully mine wasn't. So after opening the bag and leaving it to cool for a little while, I was confronted by the innards.

A little burnt, but still good. How does it taste? Not amazing. Come on, it's bacon popcorn, what do you expect? It's pretty much like salted popcorn, except a whole lot more salty, and with a interesting taste to it. I wouldn't call it bacony, it's kind of a smokey meaty flavour. A little bit of a burnt flavour. Perhaps with all the bacon related words and imagery they plant all over the bag your mind will lead you to think that's just what bacon tastes like, but it's certainly unlike any bacon I've tasted. 

So sorry, bacon popcorn. You certainly aren't a terrible popcorn, but you aren't a great bacon product. Perhaps I shall go on the hunt for something else promising me bacon where bacon should not be.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Raspberry White Chocolate And Almond Bombes

Another leisurely visit to the reduced section the other day allowed me to stumble upon a cornucopia of dessert delights. I quickly grabbed up a couple of choux buns, and was eyeing up the Bramley apple crumble when a curious item caught my eye. You know when something's in the Tesco Finest packaging it's always going to be a bit of a strain on your wallet. I'm sure it's only stylised as "Finest*" because there's some small print linked to the asterisk that states only wealthy people need apply.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating here, but Finest stuff is still expensive enough to make me stay away most of the time. But these things were half price, only £1.50, and they looked so good I have to give them a go. I assume they're called "bombes" because French words sound cool. Eating just a "bomb" would sound a lot less sexy, and of course I'd rather my food be called a "bombe" than a "giant pus-filled spot looking thing". Anyway, calling it a "bombe" gives the impression that it will be like explosive sex in your mouth, except instead of all the strange bodily juices you just get chocolate and raspberries. I guess I had high hopes for this thing.

Well it didn't disappoint me. One thing that was putting me off was the almond aspect. I'm not an almond fan, but to my surprise I couldn't really detect much almond at all. The dessert is basically a flan style base topped with a massive ball of raspberry and chocolate mousse. I guess the almond part is in the base, and it was a nice little addition, but the mousse is where the magic really happened. It was melt-in-the-mouth, it was smooth, and it tasted so good. I guess there is a reason they call it "Finest" after all. This is the kind of thing you'd see in a fancy restaurant for about £5 each or some other ridiculous price. Top marks for presentation, but good luck getting it home in one piece. Still, the packaging held up well to being shoved in a bag with other and taken to the park for a while, so it's good enough for me.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Today's Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood is a movie kinda like Twilight, by the director of Twilight. It also has some people from Twilight from it, but don't let that lead you to believe it's anything like Twilight. Despite my own personal opinion that Twilight kind of sucks, this is in a league of its own.

I fear Red Riding Hood is the first in a long line of movies based on things that are nothing to do with the things they are based on. I know there have been some in the past, but this is a clear example, and with movies based on Battleship, Candy Land and Monopoly coming out of the woodwork I feel Red Riding Hood has opened the floodgates.

Red Riding Hood follows Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), a girl who loves Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a lowly woodcutter, but has been betrothed to another man, because her parents probably don't want her to be happy or something. Also, her village has a problem with a local werewolf, because just a love triangle would be too boring. Anyway, the villagers have upheld a peace treaty with the werewolf (no idea how that was worked out), and they leave out livestock for it every full moon. But soon Valerie's sister is killed, so the villagers decide to call in some outside assistance to deal with the menace. Enter Solomon (Gary Oldman), a guy who knows his way around a werewolf, and who instantly quarantines the village to identify which of its inhabitants is intent on ripping out people's throats.

Basically Red Riding Hood is a whodunnit with a werewolf, set in a medieval village, whose residents can't quite decide if they're English or American, and the Twilight element comes in when it's implied that Valerie's love interest is in fact the wolf. Or is he? There seem to be many clues peppered throughout that imply several people are the wolf. Sound confusing? That's because it's a mess. This movie is clearly trying to draw in the Twilight crowd in the empty void in their life between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, where they can see their favourite boys with their shirts off again. It's also trying to be something else, a movie in its own right, it just can't figure out what it wants to be.

The acting is bland, the characters aren't very likeable and the plot twists and turns are just tiresome. It's hard to see why they even called this movie Red Riding Hood at all, it bears no resemblance to the fairy tale, the film makers probably looked at their first cut and thought "Wait, there's nothing in this movie to do with Little Red Riding Hood, so let's make her wear a red cloak for a little while and add in a stupid dream sequence near the end with that famous 'What big eyes you have' dialogue in it." Seems like the only purpose of calling this Red Riding Hood is to draw people in who are just interested about how much they can screw it up.

Overall it's a poor attempt. The story drags and gets held up too long by having too many plot twists and turns. The special effects are decent, but they're not enough to save a movie with no real substance.

"Warner Bros., what big eyes you have"
"All the better to greatly misread the source material with, my dear"
"Warner Bros., what big pockets you have"
"All the better to cash in on Twilight and take the teenagers' money with, my dear"
"Warner Bros., what a big anus you have"
"All the better to lay a big fat steaming dump of a movie with, my dear"

I actually had that conversation with one of their executives. No lie.

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 19 August 2011

Today's Review: Candy Floss

Ah, candy floss, also known as cotton candy, also known as a buttload of sugar. I got some free candy floss from the lovely folks at T Mobile today, because they were giving away things even to people who have no desire whatsoever to become a customer. Anyway, the kids enjoyed it, and I had a little taste too, because who doesn't love candy floss?

Me, I don't like candy floss. Sure, it's nice to eat, for the first five seconds. If you have the kind that comes on a stick you just stick your face right in it and bite a chunk, and it's so good. Then you pull your face away and realise you looks like a badly shaved pink haired hobo, what with the clumps of wet sugar stuck in random points all over your face. Candy floss is only good until you can't get rid of the damn stuff from your skin. There'll always be a little bit managing to escape from the stick to your skin, and it wants to stay there. Despite your efforts to lick it off, there'll be a nice sticky residue to remind you of it.

So yes, it's messy, I suppose the same could be said about several sweet foods, but this one really takes the piss. But surely taste needs to be factored in to give an honest opinion of the food. Candy floss, granted, is quite tasty, in the way that a large lump of sugar is tasty. Meaning it's quite nice, again, for a short while. then you realise that you might as well have just emptied a bag of caster sugar into your face and spared all the stickiness that comes from this evil pink cloud of disguised sugar.

It is a noble approach to a treat though. In the same way that aerated chocolate tastes better, so does aerated sugar. Sure, it expands to evil giant monster proportions, but it still manages to be tolerable for a couple of minute's eating, whereas the aforementioned sugar bag dumping would be disgusting from the off. So congratulations candy floss, you have managed to provide people with the ability to consume vast amount of pure sugar without feeling disgusting. For a little while at least.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Today's Review: The Lack Of Safety Features On Alien Ships In Movies

I just watched the last Star Trek movie, and while it was indeed awesome and worthy of praise in a review, I haven't yet had to resort to reviewing a movie that is years old, and there is a more pressing concern within the movie itself.

The antagonist, Nero, has commandeered a Romulan mining ship and is using it to create all sorts of havoc. Of course, the climactic battle takes place within this ship, and it's instantly noticeable just how unsafe the whole place is. It's a mess of narrow platforms at varying heights, suspended over seemingly bottomless pits. Worse still, there are no guardrails. Seriously, who designed this thing? Apparently the same person that designed countless other alien spaceships and industrial areas in various other movies.

Okay, perhaps humans are just more accident prone than any other species in the galaxy. Perhaps the aliens who designed these other ships could not comprehend how one of their kind could slip and fall off an incredibly narrow walkway. But wait, just look at Star Wars. The pit over which the climactic scene in The Empire Strikes Back takes place, the mess of platforms and lasers that we see in The Phantom Menace. They must have been designed by humans, albeit ones in a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago. Surely they can understand the safety concerns with endless bottomless pits and lasers out in the open. They do live in a time with lightsabers though, so I guess they just think "Screw it, if these guys can swing lasers around all day we might as well just stick a few more in everyone's path"

Of course, the safety concerns don't stop there. Various movies, TV shows and video games contain places that are altogether bafflingly unsafe. In fact, there's a comprehensive list of them here. It's not just alien constructs, and it's certainly not just pits and walkways. Countless times I have been walking through factories or strongholds in a video game and come across open pits of lava and acid, swinging saw blades and axes, pretty much anything that could kill a person is eagerly waiting to maim in some game or movie. I know it adds to the challenge, I know it adds some danger to the proceedings, but when you think about it you really start to wonder how all this stuff got approved for everyday use. These places probably aren't built with the knowledge that a large scale battle between good and evil will occur there, they're mostly just for everyday use by some unfortunate employee who could become brutally killed by slipping or pressing the wrong button. These places are dangerous, and they should be shut down before anyone else gets hurt. Hell, a duel in a room with guardrails and protective glass could still be pretty awesome.

My rating: 0/5

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Today's Review: Software Updates On The PS3

I just got a 3D TV, cry out all you will about how it's just a gimmick and a waste of money, but dammit, I spend a large portion of my life watching TV, and I wanted a new one, so the 3D is an added bonus to the awesome sauce picture I now get on my nice thin LED screen.

But let's get to the point. I have watched a couple of 3D movies, they look pretty damn good. But the PS3 also has a few 3D games, and I was excited to try them out, until I remembered the reason I don't play PS3 games too much. The stupid software updates.

I am predominantly an XBox 360 gamer, I only really dabble into the PS3 for the odd exclusive, otherwise it's a Blu-Ray player. When there's an update for a game on the XBox, it's an easy process. The file is around 4MB and is finished within a couple of seconds. The PS3, however, is a completely different story, and it's a baffling one. Their game updates are in the hundred of megabytes, and they take an age to download.

I don't really understand, especially when you have to install some files for the game and then update it. These games are on a disc with way more capacity than an XBox disc, but they require so much more updating and installing to even run. If you don't want to install an update for an Xbox game, that's fine, you can just play it offline. But the PS3 forces you to install the update, and doesn't let you do anything else while it's downloading.

It wouldn't be so bad if it downloaded at the speed with which my other devices do. But for some unknown reason it can take over an hour to download just over 100MB of data. Every time one of these update screens emerge I want to kill it dead. They stop me from playing the game for a pretty large amount of time, especially considering that if I hire them from work I only get them for two days. By the time it's gone through all the failed downloads and installing I could probably only play it for a couple of hours before it needs to go back.

I gave up tonight. After a couple of failed attempts at snail pace downloading over Wifi I found an ethernet cable and plugged the PS3 directly into the modem. There's a noticeable difference, but it's still slow as hell. This whole thing is a broken system, and pretty much ruins my enjoyment of any major PS3 game before I even start it. Sony can suck on my joypad.

My rating: 0/5

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Today's Review: The Amount Of Time It Takes To Play Monopoly

I've been playing this game for three hours. No one is clearly winning. Monopoly is an evil game, you pay money, you take money, you all own one property from each group and you don't want to sell. The game goes on forever and you can never sleep. This game is from hell. I'm sure I'll be reviewing it again tomorrow because it won't have ended...

My rating: 1/5

Monday, 15 August 2011

Today's Review: Redneck Jesus

Whilst paying an impromptu visit to my favourite atheism blog (yes, I have one of those), I came across a post concerning the self-proclaimed Redneck Jesus. Well, I say self-proclaimed, in fact God proclaimed him to be Redneck Jesus. So yeah, self-proclaimed.

Here is the website. While it is a bit of a mess, I'm surprised he's got the technical capacity to place a video on the front page. In the video he explains all of the different ways he can change your life, and believe him, he can. You can meet up with him, you can ask him questions, or you can read his books. Of course, all of these things cost money, especially the "interesting pricing" on his latest book. Redneck Jesus tells us to explore the website to find out the reasoning behind pricing his book at 74 freakin' dollars. You see, G and D are the seventh and fourth letters in the alphabet, ergo he needs to charge that number because that almost spells God. I get it now, it's so simple! The reasoning behind the pricing is fuck you, he wants money.

It doesn't stop there, you can book events with this guy. The most eye catching is the Limo Meal outing you can buy. For the small price of $1,000 you and some friends and family can crawl into the hummer limo Redneck Jesus inexplicably has, and you can go and eat a meal with him. Oh, you've gotta pay for the food too, Jesus doesn't pay for his food. As if I wasn't sold already, there are several benefits listed that you will gain from this event. One of them is having a great time, so I guess that's guaranteed. Also, you can take pictures and videos with the one and only Redneck Jesus, in his signature hick gear. The best though, is the "lifetime memory" you will take away with you, of the time you spent over $1,000 to get in a massive car to go and eat with a crazy person, something which could've been easily accomplished by taking a couple of bagels to the slums.

There's really too much to talk about on this website. Let's just say Redneck Jesus is pretty sure of himself. He WILL boost your sales by being your spokesperson, and you WILL be blessed for giving him your money. Because he talks to spirits, and the spirits can apparently sign his book for you too, with their ghost hands or something.

But hey, it's not all bad. All the money he makes is going to God, Inc. Because God needs Earthly money in order to make the change we all need, it's not like he's all powerful or anything. He needs the dolla, apart from all those corporate jet trips and hummer limos he's paying for. But hey, that's what Jesus needs to spread the word nowadays.

I would say it's not worth paying too much attention to him, but I'm sure there are people out there who will actually fall for it, and that makes me sad. They'll be joining his mob and doing some crazy but fun things in Little Rock, Arkansas. They'll be paying to take this guy to play golf or watch football games in a corporate jet, and they'll be contributing to the shit eating grin you can see form on his face at the end of the intro video. His name is Redneck Jesus, and here's here to screw you over.

My rating: 0/5

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Today's Review: Leftover Pizza

We went to Pizza Hut today, and since we had a 2 for 1 voucher, the missus and I decided to go for a large pizza each. After some confusion where the waitress informed us we couldn't get half Italian and half stuffed crust, after which she looked at us like weirdos for having a large pizza each, we got our food, and a promise that they would box up anything we have left over.

I am a man who can eat a lot of food. When I order a large pizza I can normally consume it with vigour. But I filled up on free salad and found myself almost defeated halfway through the pizza. But no worries, for leftover pizza is a widely accepted phenomenon. If you go to KFC and save the chicken for later, you probably don't want to eat it 'cause it just seems gross. Even more so with a burger, eating a discarded half of a Big Mac or Whopper would instantly make me feel like a shameless hobo. While Chinese food is slightly more acceptable to come back to later I always feel a little bit dirty when I do it.

Pizza, however, is the ultimate leftover food. It is probably the most common weird thing that people have for breakfast. Many argue that cold pizza is better, and though I was inclined to agree at one point, I have found that reheated pizza is pretty damn nice, and not likely to kill you or make you ill. It's probably because I always get stuffed crust, and the heat makes the cheese nice and melty again, but hot leftover pizza is probably my favourite. They even put reheating instructions on the box, so it has to be popular.

So why is pizza not a disgusting thing to leave someplace and eat later? I can't say I really know. The thought of eating most fast food later on doesn't appeal to me at all, but I'll happily leave some pizza and think about how I can consume it over the next day or two. Yes, buying a large pizza could in fact keep me fed for a couple of days. Perhaps it is not worth looking into the reasons why leftover pizza is so widely accepted, I should just accept it for the phenomenon it is and try not to spoil my enjoyment of some old greasy dough. Yum.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Today's Review: Quarantine 2: Terminal

I get it, because the disease is terminal, and airports have terminals. Ha! The disease is airborne. Two plane/disease related puns on one poster, this is a gold mine.

But Quarantine was about an apartment block full of zombies. Plus it was based on the movie Rec, which was identical except in Spanish. Rec 2 carried on the story directly where it was left off, and delved right into a demonic religious theme. I thought it was a bit strange, but it's certainly a fresh direction. But Americans obviously don't like all the demon crap, but apparently they do like planes. Just look at Snakes On A Plane, and even Flight Of The Living Dead. Want to make something fresh? Put it on a plane.

So I wasn't really expecting much, especially after Flight Of The Living Dead. First of all, the plane in Quarantine 2 is tiny, so any real zombie outbreak would be over in a matter of minutes. We're not talking Flightplan or Snakes On A Plane size vessels, this had one cabin, and only four flight crew. I was braced in position for a terrible time (I can do flight puns too), but just after the outbreak starts the pkane does manage to land, so don't worry about that. The survivors do get quarantined though. In a terminal. Suddenly the title is completely literal. So there are no crowds of strangers escaping from running zombies, just these few people trying to work out an escape route before they all get infected.

Quarantine 2 also abandons the first person camera views of the first, so as well as abandoning the original sequel's premise they also abandon the overall look of the movie. The only way this is in any way connected to Quarantine is because they mention that the same thing happened in an apartment block that same night. There are further links, and they're not exactly subtle, in fact they just feel tacked on at the last minute for continuity's sake.

So yes, Quarantine 2 is not the best movie story wise, and it also abandons the hook that drew people into the first, so really it just settles in with any other mediocre horror movie. It certainly isn't awful. The special effects are decent, the acting isn't bad, a little off in places, though the lack of the first person angle kind of kills the suspense and forces the movie to rely on gore and jump scares. But it could have been a lot worse, killer zombie lab rats aside.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 12 August 2011

Today's Review: My Bed

To review my bed effectively I decided to get into it for the full experience. Trouble is I'm very tired. So now I want to sleep. My bed is very comfy, it's got memory foam and everyfink. I would write more about it, but the overwhelming urge to just fall asleep speaks louder than words. I love this bed. It makes me do sleep.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Today's Review: Vimto Skiddadles

I don't know why Vimto seem so intent on capturing their drink in sweet form, but so far they haven't done a bad job. The chews were pretty good, and the Vimto bonbons are amazing. But Poundland don't seem to have the bonbons anymore, they have these weird things instead.

It's an obvious attempt at becoming Skittles. Just read the name. But they're not Skittles, and Skittles should not be encroached upon because they in themselves are awesome, as are their adverts. Skiddadles are only one flavour, that being Vimto, which seems to be an amalgamation of several different fruits. These aren't bad. They're a lot smaller than Skittles, and they pretty much taste the same as the bonbons. Skiddadles leave a slightly chalky texture after eating, and their tiny size force me to eat many in one mouthful, and that makes me feel like a greedy giant.

So yeah, they're not bad. In the absence of other Vimto sweets I'd like them a lot more, but having the bonbons as alternatives makes me long for them somewhat. But it's a good attempt at Vimto broadening out to (cashing in on) various forms of sweety goodness.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Today's Review: Trust

You know the last movie David Schwimmer directed? Run Fatboy Run. I did not like that movie. You'd imagine his next project would be something not too far off, so here we have a drama about a 14 year old girl who gets groomed by a paedophile. Wait, what?

Trust follows the story of Annie (Liana Liberato), a pretty normal 14 year old girl who enjoys chatting on websites. There's one particular guy who's really nice to her, named Charlie (Chris Henry Coffey). Upon getting to know more about him, however, she learns that he is not in fact 14, but 20. Oh wait, he's actually 25. But that doesn't matter, there's a special bond between them. So when they decide to meet she is a little apprehensive when it turns out he's actually over 30 and really creepy. But events take their course and eventually the unthinkable happens. The rest of the movie explores the fallout from these events, specifically Annie's emotional journey and her father's (Clive Owen) unrelenting search for answers and justice.

Trust is not a film that dances around the issue. From the point that Annie meets Charlie it descends from just plain creepy to pretty damn harrowing within minutes. There are certain details in the aftermath that are explained flat out, and the whole movie is pretty much designed not to sugar coat anything that it confronts. This is a hard hitting movie about the effect that grooming can have on the children involved, how it affects their mental state and their relationship with their family.

Of course, none of this would be effective without the skills of Liberato. She is absolutely fantastic as Annie, and the stages she goes through are so well portrayed you're just sucked into the rollercoaster ride that she's on. Owen leaves a little to be desired, but in this instance, as the straight talking, massively angry father, he does a great job. These two really do steal the show because this movie is largely about the relationship between them. The rest of the family seem to just be there for appearances, but it would have been nice to see a bit more input from Annie's mother or siblings.

One thing I can say is that Coffey is really good at playing a creepy paedophile. I've always kind of admired actors who are able to take on negative roles like this and manage to smash them out of the park by making them some of the most uncomfortable I've seen. All you really see of Charlie is the moments in which he and Annie meet, and although his words are well-wishing he oozes creepiness from the start.

I don't quite know what I was expecting when I started watching Trust, but it was a whole lot better than I thought it would be. Despite the few main characters and perhaps a slightly drawn out story which develops quite slowly, it is pulled together by a few very strong performances and a gritty realism that you can't really shake off after watching. Trust seems to be a movie more designed to educate than entertain, and it certainly left an impression on me. 

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Today's Review: Super 8

Oh, Abrams, how you taunt me. First all the secrecy behind Cloverfield, even Lost, and now Super 8. Although there were probably plenty of spoilers hanging around for me to discover about all of these, I think I owe it to the man to go into these things with nothing in mind, and wait for him to surprise me.

All I knew about Super 8 was that it's about kids filming something, and then there's a weird thing that comes out of a train. So I went into the cinema with no idea about what could happen. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed.

Super 8 follows a gang of kids, with our main character, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) trying to keep up with the antics of his best friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) as he tried to film a movie using his Super 8 camera to submit to a festival. To complete it however, they need female talent, so they manage to persuade Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) to act in some scenes. Apparently she's quite something, as Joe quickly attempts to get to know her better. However, while filming a scene at an abandoned station, the boys are caught in the midst of a massive freight train wreck that leaves carriages and weird objects scattered all over the place. But that's not all that got out... Over the next few days strange things start happening in town, and in the face of secret military presence it's up to the gang to figure out what's causing all the strange events.

This movie is signature Abrams. The train wreck is magnificent and seems to go on for ages, reminding me immediately of the plane crash in the first few minutes of Lost. The thing that escapes from the wreck is deliberately and carefully hidden from view, just glanced in puddles or out of focus, which is pretty much a continuation of the techniques used in Cloverfield. Also there's a ridiculous amount of lens flare, so that's Star Trek covered too.

Super 8 really is a hark back to the 80s sci-fi movies. It's no mistake that it's set in this time period, the feel of the era is really captured through the use of older gadgets, even if it does get a bit in your face at times ("I'm listening to a Walkman, it's a brand new thing. Look!"). There are definite comparisons with beloved 80s movies to be made, it's very much a cross between The Goonies and E.T. with a large dollop of Cloverfield thrown in for good measure. But while it references and borrows from the era constantly, it manages to be a very entertaining movie in its own right. The modern suspense shots and explosion effects slip nicely into the movie, instead of standing out obnoxiously.

The actors help to keep this a good movie the whole way through. The kids all do a great job in their roles, and managed to get many laughs out of the audience throughout. You have the lead who's obsessed with the girl, his friend who's obsessed with his film, another who's obsessed with fireworks and yet another who's obsessed with... being cowardly and puking I guess. Despite their wildly extreme personalities they all play off really nicely with one another, and actually seem like an authentic group of friends trying to have a good time, despite all the weird shit going on in town.

Super 8 is a wonderfully shot, nicely paced movie. Abrams employs all the techniques he uses masterfully, and while this movie is an amalgamation of many different inspirations, it all pulls together to make a great movie. The ending does tail off a bit into not-so-great territory, but personally I liked it, and the scene during the credits made it worth my while anyway.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 8 August 2011

Today's Review: Sucker Punch

I like Zack Snyder, and while a lot of people found fault with his adaptation of Watchmen, I personally loved it. So imagine my delight when he came out with Sucker Punch, promising more action packed and fantastical sequences. And girls in skimpy clothing, but that didn't get me too excited, honest.

Sucker Punch tells the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a girl who find herself in a mental institute after her abusive stepfather puts her there in order to inherit her mother's fortunes for himself. Trouble is, Baby Doll may still be able to alert the authorities, so he bribes an orderly to book her in for a lobotomy in a few days' time for good measure. Understandably Baby Doll is not particularly pleased with the situation, and responds by delving into a dream world in which the hospital is actually a brothel, and with some other girls, her fellow dancers, she plans to escape.

But while a lot of the movie takes place in this imaginary reality, Baby Doll apparently has some wicked dance moves that mesmerise anyone who watches her. Not that you get to see it, because every time Baby doll starts dancing she delves into yet another reality where she fights some kind of enemy in order to claim one of the items she needs to escape. Sound a bit like Inception? Well, it's not really, and it's a whole lot more over the top than that. Baby Doll and her friends fight their way through robots on a train, orcs in a medieval castle and steam operated German zombie soldiers in the trenches. Yes, steam operated German zombie soldiers. Just say that again over and over in your head. Then watch the movie because they're awesome. 

In these sequences the effects and action are amazing. It really is signiature Zack Snyder, steaming from one scenario to the next but pouring huge amounts of detail into each section. You can't have too much of a good thing though, and the scene quickly switched back to the brothel, which is quite fun at first, but soon drags you down after you've watched the girls jumping all over the place firing machine guns.

This is the main problem with Sucker Punch. It's a mess. It's a really awesome looking mess, but there's really just too much going on to really pull you in, you're always being shifted from one reality to the next with not enough time to appreciate what has gone into each. While there's definitely story progression to be made in the brothel, it would have been nice to see these actions sequences go on a little longer, or perhaps present them one after the other in an ongoing quest.

There's also not much character progression. We have four other girls apart from Baby Doll, and they seem to just be picked at random because they don't seem to have much in the way of background. Most of them just seem to be there for the eye candy, an excuse to use as many skimpy outfits as possible and have them grunting and screaming as they jump around each other.

But who said all film needed to be deep? While it's certainly nice for a movie to have a deeper meaning, it's quite clear that Sucker Punch is just porn for your eyes. If you want gunfights, explosions and young hot women you've come to the right place, although it may be a bit slow in places. If you've come for a thoughtful movie you've picked the wrong one. Sure, there are several interpretations that can encourage thought and debate after watching, but first and foremost this is a wonderfully executed action movie, and it's just a lot of fun.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Today's Review: Beastly

A lot of people have tried to do a take on Beauty And The Beast. Disney, of course, did it with great success, but there have been many other movies and TV shows that have not been so successful. But here we have another, more modern take on that classic fairytale.

Beastly tells the story of Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), a popular, attractive high school student who obviously knows how popular and attractive he is, because he spends his days talking about just how popular and attractive he is. Ugly people, he says, don't get anywhere in life 'cause they're ugly and people hate them. One particular "ugly" person he singles out for humiliation is Kendra, who actually turns out to be not just a goth kid, but a witch (the name's a red flag, obviously). So she puts a curse on Kyle that makes him ugly, and tells him that if he doesn't find someone to love him within a year he'll stay like that forever. Thankfully, after a while of hiding away, he decides to go after Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), a quiet spoken girl who doesn't seem repulsed at the sight of him. Turns out Lindy's dad is a druggie, and a scuffle with some dealers leads Kyle to insist that he protect Lindy by making her stay with him and never letting her outside. Will he get her to love him despite holding her hostage for no apparent reason? Only time will tell.

As premises go, this version of the tale is kind of weak. There's a few too many holes and random things going on, like Kyle's daddy issues with the father that doesn't have time for him, and who basically abandons him once he turns ugly, instead hiring a maid and a blind guy to take care of him. Why? Just because. The blind guy is played by Neil Patrick Harris though, and he's awesome in everything. The main thing I had against this movie from watching the trailer is that apparently in Beastly "ugly" is synonymous with "has tattoos on his face". The witch that Kyle picks on has shit drawn round her eye, and the main characteristics of "beast" Kyle are his baldness and the drawings all over his head. In the movie though, he does have a few scars on his cheeks, so he is slightly more grotesque looking than on the packaging, but I'd hardly call him an elephant man. People would probably be more likely to sympathise with him because it looks like he's been in a nasty accident, perhaps involving a guy who tattooed his face against his will.

Beastly is a very tween movie. It's a classic romance story, with all the awkwardness and misinterpretation of teenage love thrown in. The "will they, won't they" theme is present throughout, and watching the two run around each other will probably get boring even for the Twilight obsessed. There's just not much substance. Where Beauty and The Beast had talking furniture and musical numbers, Beastly has tiny glimpses of social networking sites, and a greenhouse. Thrilling.

In the end it's all a little too predictable. But I won't majorly hold that against the movie, it's based on a fairy tale and aimed at teenagers, there's a certain expectation of how it's going to turn out. So while it's boring, and a little nonsensical at times, Beastly is not a terrible movie. The actors all do quite well in their roles, especially with what they're given to work with, and I didn't feel an overwhelming desire for it all to just be over already. I guess what I can say is that Beastly is not as ugly as it looks on the outside, but it's certainly not beautiful either.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Today's Review: Poundland's Banana Slicer

I sung the praises of my apple slicer in an earlier post. It's awesome, because having to always slice apples by hand is a pain, and that item did it all in one cut. But you know what I don't need to slice? Bananas.

Once I've gone to the effort to peel a banana I don't really feel like cutting it into thin, bitesize pieces. My kids don't either, they just grab it and chow down like monkeys. So I don't really see the point in a banana slicer. I know that some people might like to cut up a banana and have it on cereal or something, but I think if they're going to that amount of effort then they'll probably just cut it themselves with one of their 20 different kitchen knives. But that's probably a snap judgement.

My qualm is not with people who slice bananas. I'm sure people have perfectly good reasons, and I will not deny a man the right to slice his bananas. My problem is that this banana slicer is going to useless most of the time. My apple slicer is good because apples are invariably round. They may be different sizes, but they're always the same shape, and they always have a core that needs extracting. Bananas, on the other hand, all look different. This slicer only accommodates for a certain shape and size of banana, one with a slight curvature at the top.

I have three bananas in my kitchen at the moment, and as well as being different sizes they also look nothing like the banana this slicer assumes you'll have. So would I ever use it? There might be the odd occasion when I see a banana at the supermarket and think "Wow, that's exactly the banana I need to fit into my very particular banana slicer", but apart from those times it would just be sitting in a drawer somewhere, presumably crying specifically banana shaped tears.

So good luck with selling your banana slicers, Poundland. I suggest next you start selling genetically modified bananas with that exact shape and size.

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 5 August 2011

Today's Review: Door Handles

What is a door without its handle? Can it even be called a door at all? Probably, but it's not a very good one.

Door handles come in all shapes and sizes, they can be ornate, plain, or just funny lookin'. Handles are there to be grasped, they provide you with the main interactive element you need to open or close a door. In a way a door handle is the only passage to the complete door experience.

I know there are some doors without handles. The kind of ones that swing by themselves, and can do so both ways, like ones in hospitals or western saloons. You even have automatic doors, which do all the work for you. But what good are these doors really? Without a handle a human cannot take the fate of the door into his owns hands. If a zombie horde attacks and I were to run through a door, I'd like to be able to know I can physically pull that door shut and ensure my safety. I don't want to wait for the slow swing of a fancy handle-less door, or hunt around for an automatic door control panel. Doors with handles win out every time. Except those ones made of shoddy wood that zombies can somehow break through easily.

So long live door handles. Without them doors would just be giant slabs of material that stop us getting places. Door handles are essential to the human endeavour of exploration. They keep us safe, but also let us free. That's deep, man.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Today's Review: Having 4 Hours Of Sleep

I can't say I sleep a massive amount. In recent years I've taken to staying up until about 3am doing nerdy stuff like gaming or watching movies, 'cause why not, everyone else is sleeping, and I still get my seven hours of sleep providing I get a good enough lie in. Since having kids I have had to start going to bed earlier, because children seem intent on waking up at seven in the morning, or even earlier.

But last night I took a gamble. I stayed up until 3am, for apparently no reason whatsoever, it didn't feel very productive. Of course I figured I might regret it at the time, as it was my turn to get up with the kids, but I pressed on as I wasn't that tired.

I was woken up at 7am. Now, while I certainly find getting through a day on four hours sleep manageable, it just dampens the whole experience. At times I longed for sleep, at others I just wanted to sit there and have no one bother me. I felt like being slow and sluggish and it was all my own fault. But now it is half 11, and while I was tired an hour ago, now I think I should be able to stay awake for a couple more. My body is apparently weird, and only wants to sleep when it is inappropriate.

Tonight I shall endeavour to get seven or eight hours, because that would be the sensible thing to do. But as much as getting through a day on little sleep may suck, I like to see it as a kind of endurance test. Sleep is a stupid thing, if we didn't need to do it then I don't think anyone would say "You know what would be fun? Making myself unconscious for several hours". So the less sleep the better, really, as long as it doesn't drastically affect me. At the moment I have managed to work it down to an average of six hours that I need, maybe it could be less.

But at the moment, four hours of sleep kinda sucks.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Today's Review: Your Highness

Hey look, it's those guys from Pineapple Express, in a movie by the guy who directed Pineapple Express. I liked Pineapple Express, so I was hoping I would like this. The trailer was amusing enough, a medieval themed movie with dick jokes and weed. What could go wrong?

Your Highness follows the exploits of Thadeous (Danny McBride), a layabout prince whose famous and adored brother, Fabious (James Franco) returns from his latest quest with a beautiful virgin whom he intends to marry (Zoeey Deschanel). But at the wedding the virgin is reclaimed by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), so the two brothers embark on another quest to save her. Trouble is, Thadeous has never been on a quest, so hilarity ensues as he comes across the dangers and peculiarities scattered throughout the kingdom.

There's really not much to this movie. It reminds me more of a spoof along the lines of Disaster Movie instead of the Pineapple Express antihero romp it could have been. While it's clearly not as mind-numbingly awful as Disaster Movie and its sisters are, it is littered with sex jokes and swear words seemingly just for the fin of using them. It starts out by saying "Oh, you thought this was your traditional medieval heroic tale, but actually they're saying 'fuck' and talking about dicks", but quickly lets you know that it's not going to stray away from that at all.

The storyline is simple enough, yet manages to be slightly baffling when they reveal that the evil wizard actually wants to have sex with the fair virgin in order to make a dragon baby. Why? I don't know. There are weird characters thrown in with little effect, like a particular scene with a Yoda looking guy which is mostly there for gross out value. Even the introduction of Natalie Portman as a companion only serves to sex it up a bit, otherwise it would just be about hairy men in armour walking through fields and using their 40th synonym for "penis".

But hey, I can't say I was overly surprised. Your Highness does exactly what it says on the tin, or in the trailer. While the dialogue can go on for a bit too long to squeeze in that extra gag, there are a few lines that actually made me laugh. In all, it's entertaining enough. As I said before, it certainly doesn't fall into Disaster Movie territory, it's pretty much a good, if slightly tedious, comedy. Another down point is that the special effects leave a little to be desired, but I can forgive that because it's a comedy movie, they should be focusing on the jokes rather than the explosions.

The actors do well in their roles, even Danny McBride seems to steer away from the hard talking crazy characters he always seems to play. Franco does a pretty good British accent too, though Portman and Deschanel sounded a bit off. The movie is also quite well paced, so although the dialogue doesn't really offer anything new, there's a nice range of locations for the action to take place in.

Your Highness is quite good, just not nearly as good as I was hoping. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to comedy though, and I have been steadily drawn to the Apatow produced features, so it should appeal to less of a fan boy. Still, I had fun, even if all the cocks and titties did seem a bit too much.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Today's Review: The Lack Of An Official Blogger App

There's an app for that, or so they say. But there isn't for the very website I'm using at the moment. I will be at work into the early hours tonight, so I have no chice but to write today's review on my phone. Problem is I have to write it via Safari.

It's not too awful, just annoying. At least it doesn't redirect me to a mobile site, but I have noticed that if I write too much the screen stops showing me what I'm typing. Also there's no way to upload pictures.

I know there are some blogging apps, but they all cost money and aren't really the proper deal. So why is there no Blogger app? Surely it wouldn't be too hard to make one, and without it I am left ever so slightly annoyed. So hurry up people, satisfy my entitled self.

My rating: 2/5

Monday, 1 August 2011

Today's Review: Black Tiger

I went shopping earlier, and since I had nothing in mind to review today, I thought I'd pay a visit to the ethnic section. Well, it's less "ethnic" and more "efnic", as it pretty much only has stuff that's like things you can get elsewhere in store, but foreign. There's nothing outlandish, just enough for a pedant to classify it as "that efnic stuff". But enough of me being on a high horse, let's talk Black Tiger.

It's an energy drink. I didn't get it thinking it would be particularly different from any other energy drink, because they all taste the same. I got it 'cause the can looks pretty cool. It's black an it has a tiger on the other side, and that's cool. I guess it's called "Black Tiger" just for the edge that the colour gives it. Hell, I'd buy an energy drink called "Tiger", but I most definitely did buy one called "Black Tiger" 'Cause it's awesome. There is a slogan on it which states "Power is black", which I'm sure could have some racial connotations, but I won't be the first to suggest it.

My fears were dispelled when I visited the website though, where I was assured that Black is not only power, but it had no need to prove anything and it marks its territory with black. Glad that's cleared up. So, the guys who made this are really into black. If only the drink itself was black...

Bet you thought it would be for a second there. Well, no, because that would be weird. Instead it's one of those almost fluorescent colours that all energy drinks are. I don't see why, seeing as the primary ingredients are sugar and water, but hey, I guess that's just what energy looks like. As for the taste? Not much to say. It is pretty much like any other energy drink, probably along the same lines of Tesco's KX. So it's not bad, but it's not fantastic either. But it does get extra points for the can, and then loses them by saying weird things about the colour black.

My rating: 3/5