Sunday, 30 September 2012

Today's Review: Cadbury Crunchy Spider

Yes, it's Halloween again... Or rather, it's the month of Halloween, so naturally all the shops are filled with everything you need, and everything you don't. It's also time to roll out the trick or treat candy, and the Halloween themed sweeties. Here's a new one from Cadbury, the crunchy spider. It's basically a hunk of chocolate with green crispy rice balls inside, wrapped up in some neat spider packaging. There's even a pink one for the girls, because we need to enforce gender boundaries on chocolate spiders.

It's pretty nice actually. It's a fairly sizeable hunk of chocolate, and there are enough crispy pieces to stop it tasting like your average chocolate bar. At least they thought of something different to stick into it instead of just changing the shape or the colour. Still, it's probably a little too expensive, not that I'd expect anything else, because, hey, it's seasonal. But if you can snap these up on the cheap on November 1st, go for it.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Today's Review: Mars Caramel

I love Mars bars. That nice thick chocolate layer, disguising a smooth smattering of caramel and a satisfyingly chunky block of nougat, it all makes for a great chocolate bar. So what can you do to top it for a limited edition? White chocolate? Stick some nuts in there? Take away the best part?

Yes, the limited edition Mars Caramel promises all the goodness of a Mars bar, as long as you only want the chocolate and caramel. I was a bit perplexed by the name at first, because Mars bars already contain caramel, but it all became clear as I tucked in. This bar is far skinnier than the regular, and the caramel is harder, chewier. Sure, it's okay, but without that big chunk of nougat it just felt empty. It's like they had a bad batch go through the machine and decided to sell it anyway. I think I'll be sticking with the old fashioned variety, thank you very much.

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 28 September 2012

Today's Review: Eyebrows

We, as a species, have reached a plateau in our evolutionary process. Advances in modern medicine has ensured that the unfit don't die out, and the increased importance of emotion and character in relationships means even the ugliest person can make sweet love and pop out troll babies. So now we are stuck as we are. We're probably not going to grow wings, or extra limbs, we're just gonna stay this human shape forever. With its appendixes and eyebrows.

Seriously, eyebrows? What's the point in those things? Sure, they allow us to more adequately display our emotions, but is it really so hard to figure out what another person is trying to convey without needing two hairy caterpillars twitching around on top of their face? They may be useful for catching dirt and such, but we've got eyelashes for that, and I think they're much more effective considering they're actually on top of our eyes. But eyebrows are just pretty useless. Sure, we may think people without them look weird, but that's only because we've somehow become accustomed to random thick hair patches that need to be kept in check to avoid them bridging our nose and making us look even stupider. Eyebrows are weird.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Today's Review: The Sun

Man, that sun is a pretty cool guy, right? It's keeping us alive right now, giving us all the warmth and light we need. It's keeping us in place too, stopping us zooming off into space to an untimely demise. Without the sun, we wouldn't exist.

So why does it have to be such a jerk? Sure, we can now harness its power for electricity, but does it have to cause cancer? Sunstroke? Why does it have to hurt our eyes when we look at it directly? Look at it up there, all high and mighty. Oh wait, you can't, as I discussed in the previous sentence. What, we have to be in such deference to it that we can't even look at it properly? That we have to be stuck orbiting it until the end of days, when it will just say "screw it" and explode, incinerating us all?

I mean, I appreciate all that big hunk of burning gas has done for us, but for something so hot, why does it have to be so cold?

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Today's Review: McCoy's Pickled Onion Crisps

I'm quite a fan of McCoy's crisps. Well, the salt and vinegar ones at least. The flavour is really intense for a regular shaped crisp, maybe those ridges kind of work after all. But now there are a couple of limited edition flavours out, and my attention was drawn to the pickled onion.

I, like many others, count Monster Munch as the definitive pickled onion crisp. They taste awesome, and once in a blue moon you may find the random build up of flavour at the bottom of the packet that will knock your tastebuds out. So yeah, they're a tough act to follow, and these McCoy's certainly don't taste like Monster Munch. I was trying to put my finger on what they tasted like exactly, until I realised that they taste like actual pickled onions. So yeah, they're pretty nice if you like the real thing as opposed to Monster Munch.

The flavour did vary throughout the packet. The crisps at the top didn't have too much flavour, but the ones nearer the end had a real kick. It was a weird inconsistency, but I guess the salt and vinegar have that problem too. Probably not enough ridges. But these are certainly worth a try.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Today's Review: Reward Stickers

Everyone loves a sticker. People will, strangely, do many things for a sticker. Reward stickers have surprised me twice today with their effectiveness. First, they were a good enough incentive for my son to eject his waste into the toilet instead of on the floor (potty training, not problem child). Second, the possibility of obtaining a sticker caused both of my children to let me wash their hair with no fuss whatsoever (a previously unobtained achievement).

I'm sure it could be said for any type of behavioural based incentive. Badges, video game achievements, they're all things that we'll behave in a certain way to obtain, because we think they're cool and we want to show off. But my word, these stickers for the kids' reward charts have started to do wonders. Why do humans place such value in insignificant things? I don't know, though I probably should have an idea, what with my Psychology degree. But I'm not here to talk about that, I'm here to talk about stickers, because that's more fun.

These stickers can change the world. Had we rewarded some of the baddest people in history with tiny star shaped stickers on a chart, we might have avoided countless years of bloodshed. In fact, I think the usage of stickers could bring about peace and harmony throughout the whole world. As long as they're stuck on food packages, bags of money and peace treaties. But hey, let's give the guys holding all that back a sticker for their good behaviour, and we're good to go.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 24 September 2012

Today's Review: The Dictator

Oh, Sacha Baron Cohen, you crazy guy. Is there no limit to your offensive, stereotypical characters? Couldn't you just become a leading psychologist like your cousin? Oh well, he is good for a laugh sometimes.

This time Baron Cohen kits himself out as African dictator, Aladeen, a man who casually oppresses his people and spends his vast wealth on nuclear weapons development and celebrity booty calls. After the UN become a bit wary of Aladeen's secretive ways, he travels to America in order to address the council, only to be betrayed by his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) and replaced with an imposter. Escaping death, Aladeen finds himself separated from all he knows and lost in New York, until he finds a helping hand in environmentalist Zoey (Anna Faris).

The Dictator, unlike Baron Cohen's previous movie efforts, is not a mockumentary. It does indeed have some semblance of a story, rather than several out of place sketches stitched together. I'm not sure if this is a good thing, seeing as the story isn't particularly good, and most of the time Aladeen goes around doing random, unrelated stuff like Borat and Bruno anyway. Perhaps if they worked more on the plot and characters than trying to gross out the audience or make more offensive jokes, this movie could have really been something. Sure, there are some funny parts, but most of the humour is quite juvenile, and jokes drag on for a lot longer than they should.

Still, Baron Cohen turns in a good performance. It can't be said that he doesn't throw himself into his characters, and Aladeen is probably one of the most well rounded that he's played. Also, of course, Ben Kingsley is quite good. I was surprised to see him in this kind of movie, but you can never really go wrong with him.

The Dictator is... okay. It could have been a lot better if they didn't focus so much on masturbation and boobies, because there's a lot of good social commentary in here, especially in the speech that Aladeen towards the end. The characters are well played, but they don't really get a chance to develop what with all the random gross out jokes they have to live through. Oh well, I'm sure he'll come up with another character to play soon.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Today's Review: The Cabin In The Woods

A ethnically diverse group of college kids decide to go to a seldom used cabin in the woods for vacation. Can you guess what's gonna happen? You might think so, but this is The Cabin In The Woods, and things are certainly not as they seem.

Yes, this movie is perhaps one of the best forms of lampooning I've seen. It starts off like every other slasher movie that has been churned out by America, but there are also some shady goings on in a facility staffed by the always competent Bradley Whitford. After the regular horror flick happenings go down, the movie veers wildly off path and culminates in some of the weirdest and wonderful stuff I've seen in a movie.

So yes, The Cabin In The Woods is split into two quite distinct parts, the ordinary and the absolutely extraordinary. I don't think I'm alone in thinking that the first part is quite procedurally boring, but I think that's pretty much the point. We have the parallel events occurring in the facility to add the air of mystery, and once everything becomes clear it all falls into place, and I can easily say it makes an excellent movie overall.

Performances are... nothing amazing. I've already mentioned Bradley Whitford, who earned my love from The West Wing and Studio 60, but there's also his partner, played by Richard Jenkins, and they both do a great job as the shady professionals on the job. The rest of the cast certainly do the job well, but not quite up to the standard of the other two. Still, the meat of this movie is in its scope and originality, which it certainly gets top marks for in my book. If you're after something different, this is definitely worth a watch.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Today's Review: Peanut Punch

I've recently lamented the lack of peanut butter food offerings available in this country, but I guess I can put those fears to rest, because now apparently you can have your peanut butter and drink it too. I found this bad boy on offer in Tesco, apparently eggnog is included in the deal but I couldn't see any. How sad. But hey, it's a peanut butter drink!

Yes, literally, the main ingredient, apart from water, is peanut butter. There's also some milk powder thrown in for good measure, and some amount of questionable chemicals. The recipe is pretty simple, and it tastes exactly like it says on the box, like a peanut butter milkshake. Perhaps slightly too nutty for my tastes, but once I got used to the flavour it was quite nice. If you like your peanut butter products, try and hunt this one down. If you don't, then don't. If you're allergic, don't, or you'll die.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 21 September 2012

Today's Review: Not Winning The Lottery

I don't normally play the lottery, but I sure did today. You see, I figured that having several million pounds would probably be a good thing, and as they say, you've got to be in it to win it.

So I popped into a newsagent and marked the "lucky dip" box, because in my mind I'm more likely to win through a series of randomly generated numbers not affected by fate or destiny than through a series of planned numbers not affected by fate or destiny. I attempted to think to myself that I was in with a good chance of winning, but then I realised that machines that spew balls out don't absorb the collective human consciousness. Or if they do they're only feeding it to the Skynet central mainframe.

Long story short, I checked the number after work and I hadn't won millions of pounds. So what was the point? I just wasted money. You'd think they'd at least chuck me a few thousand for taking part, but no, nothing at all. People do this every week? It must be entirely disappointing depressing for them.

I don't normally play the lottery, but when I do, I don't win.

My rating: 0/5

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Today's Review: Losing A Remote/Controller

I've lost my XBox 360 controller. Not in an untimely death kind of way, I guess the correct term is "misplaced", but it sure feels like a loss.

So many things are controlled remotely these days. It used to be that if you lost the TV remote, it didn't really matter, you could just twist the dials on the set itself and everything would be okay. But now I can only perform rudimentary functions with the few buttons tucked under my screen. If I want to tune the thing, or press the red button, turn on subtitles, activate 3D mode, I need that remote or I'm screwed. I guess that's the price we pay for having so much functionality and sleek design.

Controllers for consoles are the worst to lose though. Without those the entire system is rendered useless. Games will sit there on the shelf gathering dust because there is simply no way to interact with them. The best you can do with the buttons on a console is turn it on or eject a disc. So when that controller goes missing it's the worst. The trouble is they make them so damn small nowadays too. We're a pretty storage-savvy family, so at any given time there are countless nooks, crannies and boxes that a misplaced remote could be hiding in. Especially with damn kids and their ways.

Thankfully I have a previously kinda broken XBox controller that I've managed to kimmy into semi-working order with a screwdriver. So that'll do until I find my regular one embedded in the cat litter or something. But losing stuff sucks.

My rating: 0/5

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Today's Review: Haiku

You can write great things
In just a few syllables.
My rating: Top marks.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Today's Review: Bread

Bread. Who ever thought of bread? A genius, that's who. Where would we be without bread today? Well, we might still be in the same place, but we wouldn't have bread, and that would be sad. The best thing about bread is that it's so versatile, and it comes in so many forms. You've got your standard loaves, your sour dough, your baguettes, croissants, pitta, naan, you can stretch that dough into whatever shape and consistency you want, and it's almost invariably awesome and nutritious.

I don't know how much bread I've consumed in my life, but it sure is a lot. I went to Disneyland several months ago, and I am still curious about how many bread rolls they get through in their breakfast buffet.  Bread is everywhere, and it's easy to produce, so it isn't going away anytime soon. From its humble beginnings being assembled on rocks to the moment the Earl of Sandwich slapped some meat in the middle, bread has been with us, making us strong, and healthy, and giving us chest hairs as long as we eat the crusts.

There's a reason people say "the best thing since sliced bread". They can't say "the best thing since bread" because it's not possible.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 17 September 2012

Today's Review: Honey Waffles

Yes, the Sugar Puffs guys are at it again, trying to make another different cereal for me to buy and gobble up. It totally worked.

But Honey Waffles aren't your average Sugar Puffs cereal. These are actually crunchy, waffle shaped pieces that actually taste a lot like honey. I know, I was surprised too. These taste like honey, not like pure sugar. In fact, the flavour is pretty delicious, and the waffley, crunchy texture makes it even better. The holes in the waffles probably add more flavour, or something pseudo-sciency. Anyway, these were a mighty pleasant surprise. It's a sweet, tasty cereal that very much restores my faith in the honey monster.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Today's Review: Safe

You know where you are with a Jason Statham movie. It's all very comfortable, very safe. Like Safe. Safe is your average Jason Statham movie in which Jason Statham plays Jason Statham. He's a man, slightly down on his luck, who gets targeted by some bad guys, and he goes around shooting them in the face a lot. But wait, there's a twist in this one.

You see, Mr. Statham has gotten into trouble with the Russian mob, and in return they have vowed to kill anyone he's close to, which makes him even more lonely than in his other movies. Meanwhile, a particularly clever Chinese girl, Mei, gets shipped over to America in order to work as a database/calculator for the Chinese mob. But when Mei is asked to memorise a particularly lengthy and important number, the Russian mob get particularly interested in her, and soon she is on the run from gangsters and cops all over the city. Jason Statham ends up caught in the crossfire, and automatically decides to save her at any cost.

Of course, the cost is the lives of a whole load of gangsters. In fact, around half of this movie is just Statham punching people or shooting them in the face. But hey, what do you expect? At least they put a little thought into his character this time, although why they gave him an American accent I don't know, he can't pull it off too well. As far as plot goes, there's not much else than what I told you, so just sit back and enjoy some good car chasing, face shooting action, because that's all you're getting.

Not that that's a particularly bad thing. This is a pure popcorn movie. If you're expecting something in depth, then you shouldn't have chosen something starring Jason Statham. What you do get though, is a quite well planned pure action movie, with enough variety of gunshots and fisticuffs to keep you occupied for an hour and a half. It's not going to win any awards, but it's fun to watch.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Today's Review: Coltsfoot Rock

I got a comment from a lovely person at online sweet shop The Gobstopper the other day, saying they'd like to send me some tester sweets. How could I say no to that? The answer is that I couldn't. I was given free reign of their delicacies, and although there were plenty of great classic sweeties on offer, Kola Cubes, Fizzy Peaches and the like, I settled for something a little... different. Lo and behold, a couple of days after emailing them my decision, a nice sturdy box arrived in the post, with a little something extra. 

The treats on the left were my choice. Coltsfoot Rock. The description on the site, and anywhere on the internet for that matter, was so mysterious that I had to give it a go:

"These hard sticks of brittle rock are flavoured with Coltsfoot, a plant with hoof shaped leaves. Once used for its medicinal properties, the juice was used as a cough cure and to relieve asthma."

So yeah, that sounds interesting. What do they taste like? I didn't know, because all I could ascertain was that the plant's leaves look like hooves. But that's what I'm here for. To seek out weird and wonderful things and let you know if they taste good. If you like your liquorice then you're in for a treat, because there's some liquorice extract in there too. I'm not such a fan of it to be honest, but thankfully it's just subtle enough not to overwhelm the whole flavour. The "coltsfoot" flavouring isn't too distinct, but the result is quite a smooth, medicinal-like sweet that felt like it was doing my throat some good on the way down. If only I still had that cough I had a few weeks ago. All in all it's pretty nice. I was quick to judge it based on the liquorice smell/taste, but once you get used to it it's all good. If you're after something different in amongst your bags of sweeties, you can't go wrong with this.

My rating: 4/5

Yes, not content with sending me one bag of free sweets, the lovely Gobstopper folks threw in five boxes of Atomic Fireblast, and they sure live up to their name. They're tiny little candy balls that will set your mouth on fire. Sounds good to me, I like my spicy food, but unfortunately the burning is accompanied by an intense cinnamon flavour, which I just can't get on board with, what with it being one of my mortal food enemies. Cinnamon lovers should enjoy them though.

My rating: 2/5

Friday, 14 September 2012

Today's Review: Yorkie Honeycomb

Wow, a limited edition Yorkie, haven't seen one of those before. Yorkies are pretty nice, despite being massively sexist, and the raising and biscuit variety is probably one of my favourite chocolate bars. So I was pretty excited to see this one.

There's not too much to say about it really, it's a Yorkie with honeycomb pieces in it. If you like Yorkies, you'll probably like this. The only problem is that there is far too little honeycomb in it. I get the fact that Yorkies are all about being chunky and chocolatey, but the raisin and biscuit ones managed to be packed full of bits. I could hardly taste the honeycomb in this one, the only way I knew the pieces were there was because it was crunchy in places. 

I can't complain too much, it's still the good old Yorkie chocolate that I love, I just wish they threw a bit more honeycomb into it, then it really could have been something. If you want your chocolate chock full of pieces, look elsewhere, or stick with the raisin and biscuit.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Today's Review: Cadbury Dairy Milk: Golden Biscuit Crunch

Hooray, time for a new chocolate bar. Cadbury already launched a bronze and silver biscuity bar during the Olympics and went with nuts for gold for some reason. I see this as completing their trifecta of biscuit bars. There's also a toffee popcorn flavour out now, but that's a review for another day.

What we have here is a very nice bar. No small biscuit chunks mixed into a load of chocolate, this bar actually has three distinct layers that run the whole length. There's your standard milk chocolate surface, followed by a creamy layer, and rounded out with a nice crunchy, golden biscuit. It's a bit like having a crunch cream in your chocolate bar, and that's certainly not a bad thing. It's certainly nice not to be skimped on the fillings for a change, and the proportions of each layer are pretty perfect. The result is a crunchy, yet smooth, chocolatey delight. Very nice indeed.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Today's Review : Strawberry Fields Tic Tacs

I don't really partake in Tic Tacs too often. The thing is I don't really like mint, and the only time I do crack open a box of these is when I find a new flavour. The standard orange and lime are nice, but the tropical ones were even more so. But now we have Strawberry Fields, how could I resist?

While it may look like the flavours are strawberries and cream, in fact we have two different types of strawberry in the pack, "dark pink tart" and "light pink sweet" Both are nice, although the lighter colour certainly has more of that creamy feel to it, and the darker ones are sometimes a little overwhelming with their flavour. Still, pop one of each colour in your face and you're in for a good time. Of course, there is that fresh, almost minty aftertaste after you've chowed down. I don't particularly like it, but hey, these are Tic Tacs, of course it's gonna be that way.

This is a nice addition to the Tic Tacs line up. Strawberry is always a good flavour to go with, and they've managed to squeeze two different flavours into the tiny packet. Still not as good as the tropical ones, but it's pretty close.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Today's Review: Mike And Ike Lemonade Blends

If you havent tried Mike And Ike before, you're missing out. They're nice little chewy capsules with some great flavours. So imagine my delight when I found this box of Lemonade style sweeties. They're like your regular flavours, but with lemonade.

Sound weird? I guess it is. Especially when one of the flavours is lemon anyway. But still, they're all quite nice. The lemonade twist gives them a nice sour kick, and despite them tasting a little watered down and lemony, the lime tastes like limes, the raspberry tastes like raspberries, and the snozzberry tastes like snozzberries. I mean strawberries. Stupid autocorrect. (Not really, that was a pop culture reference. I bet you'll never get it.)

You want to know how good these are? I polished off the box in one sitting and didn't leave any for my children. That's what they did to me, and I'm not even mad.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 10 September 2012

Today's Review: The Pirates!

Whether it be The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, or The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, this movie is the same and they just named it differently for some stupid reason. Still, The Pirates! is a 3D stop-motion adventure from Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace & Gromit and a few other things that I've not been particularly interested in. Well, Chicken Run was good.

The Pirates! follows the misadventures of The Pirate Captain, a not-so-fearsome man who doesn't particularly have the best luck when it comes to pillaging. But intent on winning the pirate of the year award, The Pirate Captain and his crew step it up a notch, and before long stumble upon Charles Darwin, who informs them that one of their possessions is valuable to the scientific community. However, pirate-hating Queen Victoria may have her eye on it too...
I wasn't sure what to expect of this movie. I knew I was in relatively safe hands with Aardman, but I'd really heard nothing else about it. Thankfully I really enjoyed it. The animation is wonderful, with great effects and awesome attention to detail. The performances are great too, there are some really high class names in here, like Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton. I didn't even recognise a few of them until I read the credits, especially Hugh Grant, so it just goes to show how they all put some effort into it and didn't just phone in their roles. Granted, they have a fantastic script to work with, with some great jokes and one liners, but the performances were certainly one of the best things about the movie.

I don't think I can find much fault with it. It's an awesome film with beautiful animation, a tight, funny script, great physical comedy and some fantastic performances. Definitely one to watch.

My rating: 5/5 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Today's Review: Airport Scanner

I decided to peruse the Top 25 apps the other day (the free ones of course), and actually found one that might be worth a look. It is Airport Scanner, in which you, average citizen, can assume the role of that guy who sits watching X-rays of bags all day. In the airport from hell.

You see, this game couldn't reflect the average day in the life of a real airport scanner, because that would be boring and probably racist. So instead the aim of the game is to pick out one of a plethora of deadly weapons that are hidden in about half of the passengers' bags. Things like this axe:

Looks easy, right? Well, it may be at first. But soon enough the illegal items get smaller and more well hidden, plus there's another aspect in which you have to change the queuing system in order to fast track flight crew and first class passengers, and yes, even the flight crew can be carrying illegal items. 

The eeriest thing about this game is the random insertion of TSA all over the description on the App Store. "Join the TSA" it cries, boasting about the inclusion of "Real TSA prohibited items", as if axes, morning stars and bombs are perfectly acceptable on flights outside of America. It seems like there's some kind of propoganda/sponsorship deal going on here, perhaps reassuring Americans that clearly half of the passengers on domestic flights are trying to kill us all, and the TSA is the only thing stopping them. Still, they certainly missed a trick with the bonus games. I don't see the ones where you pat down toddlers or try and differentiate between a knife and a penis while looking at full body scanner pictures. It does accurately represent how they treat suspected terrorists though: 

Sorry, that was too good to pass up. Let's talk about the game. It's an nice little time waster. The levels are short, but require good observation skills and multitasking. Thankfully the money you earn from discovering drugs and fining passengers can be used to buy upgrades for your scanner that make items more visible, or slows down the conveyer so you have more time to search. This adds nicely to the replay value, and takes the heat off when things get more difficult. 

Unfortunately there's not too much variety. You get taken to different airports, but the layout is the same. There are new classes of passenger with potentially more items in their bags, but I couldn't see myself playing for too long without getting a bit bored. Still, it's fun, and for free it's certainly worth a try.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Today's Review: Walkers Deep Ridged: Salt & Malt Vinegar

You know what you do when your average crisps are getting boring? Go deep. Ridge those bad boys up. But what if they start to get stale as well? Walkers have the answer. You go deeper. So here we have Deep Ridged, the crisp that takes no prisoners and compares itself to mountains. Or something. I've never really believed all that hype about ridges. Everyone tells me that they allow the more flavour to hold on, but no one has ever given me a scientific explanation for how that is true. Sure, McCoy's salt and vinegar crisps are pretty damn flavoursome, but so are Chipsticks, and they're just sticks. I don't buy it.

Still, there certainly is more flavour packed into these bags, it's just probably not the ridges that caused it. It's a nice, strong flavour, but that's my thing. It may be a little overwhelming for some, but for me it was just right. But there is a problem with the ridges. They just don't feel right. When you start to chew there are edges slipping around all over the place, it's just an awkward, jagged eating experience. Compare it to the sublime Pringle, which fits nicely over the tongue either way up, and these will surely make your mouth wish these crisps were flatter.

Still, they taste nice, and that's what counts. I just don't think they're that necessary. They're a bit too awkward and just seem like a gimmick. I think I'll stick with regular ridges. Or maybe the sticks. They're simple too.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 7 September 2012

Today's Review: The Raid

The Raid is a foreign film, yes, but it is one that has been so well received that Hollywood is already remaking it. Well, it does have all the hallmarks of a great Hollywood flick. Not much semblance of plot, lots of guns, lots of blood and lots of punching faces. Basically, there's a crime lord holed up at the top of a tower block that he controls, and a group of elite cops are sent in to get him out. Of course everything quickly goes to shit, and a few survivors are left fighting for their lives. There are some obvious twists and turns, but really there's not much to it.

But that's fine, the action is where this movie really shines. It's a shamelessly over the top shooting, fighting movie. Although a large portion of the beginning involves bad guys firing guns that seem to have clips that hold 1,000 bullets into cops that flop around like puppets for half a minute, the martial arts action really picks up around the middle. There are some spectacularly crafted fighting scenes, with grapples, kicks, punches, and the environment all put to excellent use.

If, like a lot of people, subtitles movies aren't really your thing, it doesn't matter too much with The Raid, because most of the people communicate solely in "Hyaa!"s and "Aargh!"s as they fly out of their apartments in casual wear wielding machetes. It's just a fun, violent, well crafted action movie. Definitely worth a watch.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Today's Review: Kung Fu Panda

Wow, this is the first time I've reviewed a movie this old, but I watched it again today, and remembered my earlier review of the sequel in which I stated that I couldn't quite remember it but assumed it was awful, and full of slapstick and cultural references. Well, I was wrong. I was also wrong about not liking any other Dreamworks movies that much, because apparently I'd forgotten about How To Train Your Dragon, which is also awesome.

Kung Fu Panda follows the misadventures of Po, a panda who works with his father(?) at a noodle restaurant, but dreams of becoming a master of kung-fu, fighting alongside his heroes, the Furious Five. Thankfully he doesn't have to wait long, as the infamous villain Tai Lung has escaped, and a Dragon Warrior must be chosen in order to face and defeat him. Through a hilarious(?) misunderstanding, Po ends up being the one chosen for the title, much to the dismay of the Furious Five and their master Shifu. Does this bumbling panda have what it takes?

So yes, here I am to make amends. Kung Fu Panda is not awful, in fact it's very enjoyable. There are none of those obscure cultural references like stupid 80s songs thrown in to make less intelligent adults chuckle. Sure, there's a lot of slapstick, but that's because it's about a fat-ass panda trying to become a kung-fu master. The rest of the movie, though, shows the Furious Five busting out some moves, and it leads to some seriously well coreographed fight scenes. Hell, even the ones with Po are pretty well done, and the whole movie looks beautiful too.

I guess the problem I had with it was it contained Jack Black basically being Jack Black, but as a panda, that likes kung-fu. Sure, it's loveable, but I'm sure I was tired of it when I first watched this. Sadly, though Po's character develops during the movie, it feels quite empty, leaving us with the feeling that he's probably still not that adequate at kicking ass. The other characters are quite bland as well, but thankfully we have the sequel, which is pretty refreshing in its exploration of Po's past and the teamwork of Po and the Furious Five combined. So I apologise for my earlier misgivings about this movie. It's a pretty solid effort from Dreamworks, as ashamed as my Pixar fanboy heart is to admit it.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Today's Review: Forks

Who ever came up with the idea for a fork? It's a weird concept, if you want to jab something and pick it up, why not just use a stick? Or a knife? But no, someone must have one day been using a single boring stick to jab at their food with, and then suddenly come across some freakish stick thing with several prongs and realised how much more potential this had to be awesome at eating with. Or digging with. Or whatever else different varieties of fork are used for.

So now we have forks, and I don't know how the human race could survive without forks. We'd all have to learn to eat with chopsticks, and that would be infuriating and take ages. Forks are amazing. We've even given the prongs of a fork their own special name, that's how amazing they are. There may be two tines, or three or more, but forks have changed the way we jab at the food on our plate, so much so that no one probably knows what people did before the fork. It was probably discovered before fire, because then people needed something hot to hold their forked food over. Forks are timeless, and useful, and without them we'd all starve to death with chopsticks in our hands. Seriously, chopsticks are weird.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Today's Review: Superglue

Ah, superglue. For when glue is just not enough. For when you need to repair a plastic toy rather than just stick glitter to paper (I have kids, they're not like my weird pastimes or anything). I've bought a few tubes of superglue over the years. You know why? Because most of the time it doesn't work well.

Take the aforementioned toys. We've glued one broken plastic piece back together twice now, and it's again sitting in a pot on top of the fridge, snapped in the same place. The glue may keep it together when it's suspended in zero gravity, but once the kids get hold of it again it's only a matter of time before it buckles and breaks again. I don't think we've managed to successfully keep something repaired after superglue has been applied.

I'll give it some credit though, superglue is good for some things. Like sticking your fingers together. It manages to do that without fail every time I use it. Also I got a dollop on my trousers once and that drop is never coming off. So well done, superglue. You stick to what I don't want you to and barely work on things I want fixed. What a great invention.

My rating: 1/5

Monday, 3 September 2012

Today's Review: Candy Letters

A couple of years back I had a vague recollection of some particularly scrumptious candy letters I had as a child, until I stepped into my local sweet shop and found that the guy stocked them. A 100g weighing later and I was back in that candy letter heaven. So what's so good about these? I'm not entirely sure.

They're crunchy, slightly chalky, the flavour isn't anything you can really describe, but I can't get enough of them. They're just not your average sweet, the texture is something new. The flavours, the few that there are, are distinct. Plus they're letters, so you can spell out rude words. Tee hee. So while they may not be the first choice for a lot of people, whenever I go into that sweet shop I go for the candy letters. Crunchy, chunky and satisfying.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Today's Review: The Adventures Of Tintin: Flight 714

You know, I never really read the Tintin books that much when I was a kid. I read a few, sure, but I can't really remember them. I was more of an Asterix man myself. Still, I saw this book in the library the other day, and I just had to borrow it. It's every man-boy's dream. Adventure, mystery, guns, a drunk sea captain and a dog.

Little did I know that Flight 714 is the penultimate (finished) book in the series. As such all the characters are introduced as if they're my old friends, but I had vague memories of most of them, so it was okay. The plot follows Tintin, Haddock and Professor Calculus as they journey to Australia, only to be invited onto a private plane by an eccentric millionaire. Unfortunately people are out to get said millionaire, and the gang get caught up in the plot, being kidnapped and taken to a private island, a sceme masterminded by Tintin's apparent old nemesis, Rastapopoulos. Wow. What a name.

I read this book pretty much in one sitting. Not that it's particularly long, but I certainly got engrossed in it. From the kidnapping to the daring escape, to the hidden tunnels on the island, it's a nice little tale to get sucked into. But then it got to the end and things got a bit weird. One of the evil henchmen lost his teeth, making his speech difficult to read, while at the same time Tintin and co. stumble upon a weird dude who is contacting them via telepathic alien technology, and whose speech is also difficult to read because he ends every other word with "ink". Then they all get beamed aboard an alien spaceship. That's just weird, and it's hardly explained, it's like Hergé ran out of ideas to get the team out of their predicament, but then just said "Aliens!".

Still, while the plot does get quite ludicrous in the final pages, it's still a good read. Beautifully drawn, of course, and I feel that if I had the previous knowledge of the earlier books under my belt I could have been even more engrossed in it. This has done the job of giving me the desire to hunt out the rest.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Today's Review: Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks

Huzzah, The Doctor is back, and right in the midst of his worst enemy. But, surprise twist, they need his help! You see, they need a planet full of broken and insane Daleks, the titular asylum, taken care of before the inmates escape. The reason behind the potential escape? A ship has crash landed through the forcefield, and the one remaining survivor has spent her time messing with the Dalek systems, and becoming obvious future companion material.

So yes, a lot of different elements at play here. The Daleks asking The Doctor for help, a sassy marooned space lady, weird human-Dalek amalgamations, and also Amy and Rory now hate each other. A bit too much to fit into 50 minutes? I believe so. Sure, the story was quite well fleshed out, especially the final moments featuring our new character, but everything seemed a bit too rushed and squeezed in. For a planet supposedly populated by millions of Daleks, we only saw about 15, and the whole sub-plot regarding Amy and Rory's relationship seemed completely pointless.

Still, I have some faith in this series. It's all part of a massive climactic arc, so I've read, so everything must have its place. I'm interested with how the end result of this episode pans out to the rest of them, and I hope some of the plot elements that seemed a little hollow here get fleshed out later on. But this is Moffat's Doctor Who. It was hard not to enjoy it. Matt Smith was as fantastic as ever, and while questions were certainly left unanswered, it was quite an enjoyable episode.

My rating: 4/5