Thursday, 31 October 2013

Today's Review: Zombies

'Tis All Hallow's Eve, the night to celebrate everything spooky and scary, from witches and wizards to deranged serial killers. But no matter how many creepy thing exist in movies, stories, or weird old Doctor Who serials, if you ask people what their favourite monster is, a large amount of people will probably settle on zombies. Undead, bloody, dismembered people, hungry for human flesh? What could be scarier? Well, we shall see.

The origins of the zombie lie in South Africa, where it was believed that a sorceror, or "bokor" may have the power to raise a person from the dead and keep them under their control. This is a far cry from the zombies we love to watch eat people today though, so let's fast forward to 1968, when George Romero released Night Of The Living Dead, a seminal film about the dead coming back to life to feast on human flesh. Apparently this was a good idea for a movie monster, because everyone is still zombie crazy 35 years later.

But when you think about it, zombies are a bit rubbish. I'm not talking ultra fast, screeching zombies as seen in 28 Days/Weeks Later or the Left 4 Dead video games, nor the ultra buff, mutated monstrosities as seen in Resident Evil, or... the Left 4 Dead video games. No, I'm talking the traditional, slow, groaning shufflers that stumble along on their ragged and broken limbs. In general these zombies are easy to outrun, easy to kill, and really only pose a threat when there's a large number of them. You'll hear many people talk about how they could survive in a zombie apocalypse, but I wouldn't think those same people have plans for how to escape a serial killer or outrun a werewolf. Zombies have to be the most unrefined, sluggish killers in horror movie history, so why are they so adored? I posit that it's what comes with zombie territory that is so alluring.

You see, your regular zombie outbreak is caused by some kind of disease, that is spread through bites and can raise anyone from the dead, as long as their brain is intact. One bite means inevitable death, and whenever a zombie outbreak happens, it's pretty much assumed to be the end of the world. No cure is found, the military is useless, and all that's left is small pockets of survivors doing their best to scavenge for food and not get killed by either the undead or other, more dangerous survivors. This is where The Walking Dead gets its popularity. The zombies themselves are just a backdrop, the cause of the apocalyptic situation that the characters find themselves in. Sure, they show up from time to time to bite some people and ruin everyone's day, but the main causes of drama in the series, and the comics, are the relationships between the survivors themselves, or the hostility that forms between rival groups of survivors. In any other monster movie, it's humanity against the monster. In zombie movies, it's humanity against itself, lawless, desperate people killing other people to ultimately avoid being killed by, and becoming, a zombie. but the zombies themselves? Not so impressive.

Not that they don't have their good points though. A zombie can survive and get around in any kind of state. I've seen zombies with limbs missing, holes in their torso, or even with the lower half of their body blown off, but they still do their best to get around and sink their teeth into people. That's dedication. Also, their people detecting skills are top notch. I've lost count of how many time a zombie has sniffed out a regular human, or heard the smallest noise from a sneaky survivor. Once a human is in their sights, their dedication to catching them is pretty good too. No matter how shambling or dismembered they are, they'll hammer at windows or fences for hours, until eventually they give way. Also, when a zombie catches a human, I must say I'm consistently impressed with how easily they can rip open their stomachs and grab a fistful of intestines. I'd like to think that it's not easy to do that, but I can't say I've ever tried.

Zombies are a staple of the horror genre, even though they're not overly menacing. They're easy to kill and outrun, and the only danger they really pose is that they'll inevitably create an apocalypse that will leave us all fighting each other for our lives. Still, you don't wanna mess with a zombie, especially a pack of them. If you're not careful, they'll bite your neck, rip out your guts, and all other kinds of gruesome things. As crappy as they appear, they're still a great way to drum up some scares, and it's not really hard to see why they've remained so popular for almost 40 years.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Today's Review: Walkers Monster Munch Webs & Wotsits Zombie Fingers

I've been avoiding these crisps for some time now, as they seem to be quite lazy products rushed out for the Halloween season, regular flavours rehashed with fancy packaging. But as I got to thinking, I realised Flamin' Hot Wotsits haven't been around for a while, and I don't think I've ever had bacon Monster Munch. So I delved into a packet of each to see if they were worthy as spooky treats.

Monster Munch Webs

As you can probably guess, these are pretty much the offspring of the recently revived Wotsits Wafflers and Monster Munch. They have the same shape and flavour as the Wafflers, which means they're not really that web-like at all, and bacon doesn't strike me as a particularly spooky flavour, but they're certainly edible. The Monster Munch parentage becomes apparent due to the texture. They're quite light and crumbly, as other flavours of Monster Munch are, which means that these soon get reduced to a mushy, bacon mess. I was afraid my apprehension with buying these crisps was well founded, as there's really nothing too special about these bacon webs.

My rating: 2/5

Wotsits Zombie Fingers

Thankfully, my mind was changed by the Zombie Fingers. They actually have less prominent curves than regular Wotsits, so the finger analogy holds up well. As for the taste? Fantastic. They're not overly spicy at first, but have a delicious saucy flavour, that almost brings me back to the days of spaghetti flavour Monster Munch. The flavour hangs on long after the crisp itself has gone, with a lovely spicy aftertaste that kicks in. It's a shame I didn't try these sooner, because after Halloween tomorrow I probably won't be able to find any. I dub them my favourite Halloween themed crisp of 2013. I knowe there wasn't much competition, but these Zombie Fingers are delicious.

My rating: 5/5

That rounds up some spooky offerings from Walkers this year, one nice, one not so nice. A trick and a treat, if you will. So if you're looking for some last minute spooky snacks for your Halloween party, you should certainly pick up some Zombie Fingers.

Overall rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Today's Review: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

I love Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. It's a visual foody treat, laced with great characters and some fantastic humour. I've watched it a good few times, and I always seem to find myself chuckling several times throughout. So imagine my joy when a sequel was announced. It may have been a shameless cash grab, but with a great first movie to work from, I was expecting great things.

Cloudy 2 picks up where the first left off, exactly eight minutes after actually. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and the rest of the inhabitants of Swallow Falls are sent mainland while their home is cleared of the leftovers caused by Flint's FLDSMDFR. But when it becomes apparent that the machine is still operational, and spewing out sentient foody animals, Flint and his gang of close friends return to the island to stop the machine once and for all.

As you can probably guess, food puns abound in this movie. From Tacodiles to shrimpanzees, every creature is perfectly modelled after food items for maximum wordplay potential. The animals look amazing, especially with the lush, edible environments they're given to walk around in. The bold, colourful style of the first movie definitely carries over, making this instalment a great treat for the eyes.

Unfortunately, that's the best thing about this movie. The plot is something of a twisty turny adventure with no real substance, and introduces new characters who are nowhere near fleshed out enough, and did little to hold my interest during their screen time. Thankfully we have the original gang back in action, with many of the voice actors returning on top form, especially Hader and Ann Faris, and even Terry Crews doing a great job replacing Mr. T. But as charming as they are, they all seem to be shadows of their former selves. Much of their development happened in the first movie, and now they just seem to be coasting along, with much of the dialogue and jokes seeming like rehashed stuff from the first instalment. There are still some good gags to be found, including a few very subtle ones that had me chuckling, but Meatballs 2 just seems to lack the charm and humour of the original.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 is a fairly solid sequel. It looks fantastic, but suffers from a convoluted yet meagre plot and some boring new characters. It's certainly watchable, I would probably even think more of it if it were a standalone movie, but since I hold the original in such high esteem, and know the great heights the franchise can reach, the sequel just seems lacking in comparison.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 28 October 2013

Today's Review: McCain Quick Cook French Fries

Ah, the french fry, perhaps the most popular form of potato. But sometimes french fries take too damn long to cook. Who ever has the patience to wait 14-16 minutes? Wouldn't we rather wait, say, five? Well, now you can, because McCain have brought out some french fries that you can cook from frozen in just five minutes. 

You don't even need a magic oven either, just a normal one (well, a fan assisted one anyway). Sounded a bit dubious to me, but hey, I'll try anything once, and there's nothing dangerous about undercooked fries. So in the oven they went, and five minutes later, out they came. I am a pro at following simple instructions.

There they are. Well, they were certainly cooked, and that's a mean feat itself in just five minutes from frozen. But what of the crispiness? Well, slightly inconsistent. Some were a little soggy, but there were a fair few that had a satisfying crunch, and I can certainly say I've had much worse bowls of fries. Maybe if I'd stuck it out for another minute or two they would have been uniformly crispy, to my liking. Either way, 5-7 minutes is a pretty short wait time for some nicely cooked fries. Now we just need Birdseye to come out with some five minute fish fingers and chicken dippers, and frozen meals will never be the same again.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Today's Review: Turbo

Theo, or as he likes be called, Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is a snail with big dreams. He wants to be a world champion racer. The problem is, obviously, that he's a snail, and the rest of his snail community waste no time telling him so, especially his brother. Chet (Paul Giamatti). But when Turbo runs away and finds himself dragged through a car engine during a street race, he becomes infused with some nitrous super powers, and truly becomes the fastest snail in the world.

Okay, probably not the most promising premise in the world, but thinking about it, it's not much more crazy than a movie about a rat who can cook, and indeed, the first part of this movie does quite closely follow that of Ratatouille. There's the outcast in a community with big dreams beyond his station, with a supportive but unbelieving sibling. There's even a foreign superstar on TV that spurs on our heroes, saying that anyone can achieve greatness if they truly want it. After that, there are even pretty close parallels with Cars, as Turbo finds himself in an abandoned lot of stores staffed by cookie cut stereotypes, desperate to be put on the map in order to drum up some business.

So yes, Turbo is perhaps not the most originally executed movie, but it certainly isn't a bad one. The premise, although quite ridiculous at first, plays out pretty well, with Turbo working his way up to super stardom, culminating in a fantastic race sequence. In fact, a lot of the scenes showing off Turbo's powers are fantastically crafted, and gave me some much needed adrenaline on an otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon. The visuals are great, with lush garden landscapes and noisy city streets accentuated by Turbo's neon blue trails. The movie is also helped out with a fantastic star cast. I've already mentioned Reynolds and Giamatti, who do a fantastic job seeing as they're voicing snails, but there are also great turns from Bill Hader, Samuel L. Jackson and even Snoop Dogg.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this movie at all, but its actually surprised me. It looks and sounds great, but it's not perfect. Aside from the uncanny similarities to Pixar great that I pointed out above, it just lacks a certain polish. Some jokes are good, others fall flat. The story is a little thin on the ground, but it's adequate enough to fill the 90 minute running time. Turbo is certainly not groundbreaking, or even particularly original, but it's a solid, entertaining movie.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Today's Review: Lindt Lindor Stracciatella Truffles

Lindor truffles are amazing, that's an established scientific fact. So while these truffles were a little bit pricey, I knew I was probably making a good investment. It was the limited edition flavour that drew me though. Although I have no idea what "Stracciatella" means, the box kindly informed me that they taste like cookies and cream, so into my trolley they flew.

If you've had a Lindor truffle before, you know what to expect. If you haven't, I strongly suggest you stop reading this and go and get some. These truffles are nothing different. a nice, creamy, chocolatey shell, hiding a soft, melt in your mouth truffle centre. The difference with this variety is that the chocolate is white, the truffle has a fantastic vanilla flavour, and there are a bunch of cocoa nibs hidden in the outer shell that give a satisfying crunch. The box is kind of right, they do taste a bit like cookies and cream, but I think that's doing them an injustice. Each of these morsels is a smooth, creamy, vanilla delight, and it's only through sheer willpower that I have any left. Top marks, Lindt, though I wasn't expecting anything different.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 25 October 2013

Today's Review: Häagen-Dazs Salted Caramel

When it comes to pint tubs of ice cream, I'm afraid my heart is mostly with Ben, Jerry and their wacky flavours. However, Häagen-Dazs have swayed me in the past with some interesting limited edition flavours, and I couldn't pass up this new one when I spotted it the other day. This salted caramel boasts salted caramel swirls through caramel ice cream, with caramel pieces thrown in for good measure. Yes. that's a lot of caramel, but what more would you expect from a caramel flavour?

Despite this being called "Salted Caramel", I must say that salt wasn't one of the first things I tasted, not that I minded. The ice cream is as smooth and creamy as Häagen-Dazs always is, and the swirls add a lovely sweet flavour. The pieces are absolutely fantastic, generous, brittle chunks of butterscotchy goodness. It's after the sweetness of all the elements starts to subside that the saltiness turns up and adds a lovely finish. Nothing is too overwhelming, it's just an overall decadent caramel experience.

This is definitely a fantastic flavour, definitely the best Häagen-Dazs that I've tried in a while. If you like your caramel, this is the perfect choice.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Today's Review: Kettle Tortilla Chips

Surveying the crisp aisle at Tesco, I resisted all kinds of temptation. I'd already tried most, the rest were too expensive for my liking. But then my eyes settled on these Kettle Tortilla Chips, labelled up at a surprising 50p (yes, for a big bag). How could I resist? Well, I couldn't.

First up was the cool sour cream flavour. Not exactly an original flavour, but hey, it's a classic. The flavour to chip ratio is actually pretty good here, a nice, powdery coverage that doesn't overwhelm the senses, and the chips themselves are light and crunchy. I find that with many tortilla chip brands, the flavour quickly gives way, leaving a mushed up, bland tortilla mess. With these, it's quite the opposite, with the sour cream taste sticking around for a long time, making me crave more. In fact, I'm polishing off the rest of the bag after meticulously measuring out a portion earlier... Oops.

My rating: 5/5

Next was the sweet chilli salsa. I love spicy crisps, so these seemed right up my street. Unfortunately, they're not particularly spicy, but I wasn't exactly expecting flames to shoot out of my mouth from sweet chilli. They do, however, taste exactly like salsa, which was a little strange at first, but once I got used to it, these were absolutely delicious. So much so that I'll probably be tempted to eat the rest of them even after filling up from the sour cream. 

My rating: 5/5

So yeah, my stomach may explode from eating too many tortilla chips, but that just goes to show how delicious these are. Go get some.

Overall rating: 10/10

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Today's Review: Strawberry Lucozade

Hot on the heels of Melonade, here is another limited edition Lucozade flavour that I picked up in a local newsagent. This time it's strawberry, as you can probably tell from the funky looking bottle with a green lid. It's coloured like a real strawberry! But does it taste like one?

Well, not really. This drink has that distinctive syrupy Lucozade taste, and while the strawberry flavour certainly isn't as syrupy and disgusting as it is in other drinks, there's just something a bit off. It tastes like strawberry, certainly, but that fake strawberry that's reserved for sweets and the like. Don't get me wrong, it's still a nice drink, but it could have been so much better, and there are indeed much better varieties out there. My heart may always be true to orange, but the Melonade flavour has really won me over out of these two limited editions. If you have a choice between the two, I'd recommend skipping over this one and delving into the green bottle instead.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Today's Review: Frijj Caramel Latte Milkshake

There's nothing quite like a good milkshake, and Frijj have some consistently great ones on offer. Whether they be simple vanilla and strawberry, to elaborate honeycomb swirl, every flavour is thick, creamy and tasty. I spotted this caramel latte flavour in Tesco earlier, and since I'd never seen it before, I had to give it a go. I love caramel lattes, and I like milkshakes, so what could go wrong?

Well, not much to be honest. This milkshake is certainly delicious. The shake is as thick and creamy as always, and the flavour itself is really well done. It does have that distinct not-quite-coffee taste you find in coffee cakes and the like, which I'm not normally a fan of, but in this shake it seems to blend in really well. The caramel flavour blends in nicely too, I was expecting it to be overwhelming like most toffee milkshakes are, but everything just comes together really well in this bottle, overall creating something much like a thicker iced coffee. This is an interesting flavour choice for Frijj, and they've done a really good job with it.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 21 October 2013

Today's Review: Pringles Limited Edition Mint Choc & Sweet Cinnamon

Christmas is coming, and that means time to bust out the Pringles, share the tube around, and inevitably be the family member who has to squeeze their hand right into the tube to get any decent amount of crisps... I've had some bad experiences, okay? But Pringles are hoping to lighten my mood again by presenting me with some interesting limited edition flavours, in the form of mint chocolate and cinnamon.

Mint Choc

Yeah, you heard me right, mint chocolate crisps. I'm not talking actual chocolate, like those Pringle shaped Cadbury Snaps that were around years ago. I mean mint chocolate flavoured potato chips. Does that sound disgusting? I thought so too, especially as I'm not a fan of mint chocolate. But hey, I had to try them, and to their credit, they certainly taste like mint chocolate. There was a slight chocolatey hint when I first started chewing, that soon gave way to a very intense minty taste, much like a mint Aero. Coupled with the crisp texture, though, it didn't come together all too well, and while they're certainly not as awful as I expected, I felt there was something off about them. Perhaps people who enjoy mint chocolate will get more of a kick out of these, but I won't be buying another can.

My rating: 3/5

Sweet Cinnamon

I was looking forward to the cinnamon flavour even less. I have told before of my long standing dislike of cinnamon, so to sprinkle it on top of crisps was a bizarre and disgusting thought. But, upon trying these cinnamon Pringles, I was very impressed. They're certainly sweet, and that sweetness does become a little overwhelming at times, but there's also a certain spiciness to the whole affair that actually goes really nicely with the crisps themselves. I was reminded of paprika Pringles for some reason, but obviously a far more sweet version. So while not perfect, the cinnamon is definitely my favourite flavour of the two, but it's not quite up there with the classic Pringles flavours.

My rating: 4/5

So there you have it, two weird and wonderful (or not so) Pringles flavours for the festive season. These certainly are original ideas, and they're pulled off quite well, but I think they're just a little too weird for me to enjoy fully. They're certainly worth trying though, so grab some before they disappear.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Today's Review: Reese's Peanut Butter Snowman

Ho ho ho, 'tis the season to stuff your face with chocolate, and Reese's are on hand to make sure you get your fill, with their massive Peanut Butter Snowman. If you're a fan of Peanut Butter Cups (I know I am), the sight of this will probably fill you with excitement. It's 140g of peanut butter filled chocolatey goodness. Unfortunately, I wasn't too excited about the price of £5 (damn imports), but Tesco have just reduced it to £3.50, so it was high time I snapped one up and cracked it open.

Look at that. Just look at it. Yes, this is basically an oversized Peanut Butter Cup, but looking at the amount of filling that's crammed inside it's clear that this is a chocolate peanut butter monster unto itself. The thick chocolate shell is absolutely packed with creamy, filling peanut butter, and while it is indeed very sickly, the whole thing tastes delicious. I was wary at first of the peanut butter overwhelming my senses, but the chocolate actually holds its own despite looking quite scarce, and the ratios seem to work out just right, giving that signature Peanut Butter Cup taste, but to the extreme. Much like the large Lindt bunnies, it's clear that this is not designed to be eaten in one sitting. But, much like the large Lindt bunnies, I couldn't help myself. So here I am, full of peanut butter, but completely satisfied. This is a fantastic super sized peanut butter chocolate treat, and I suggest you pick it up while it's still cheap...ish.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Today's Review: Boy Bawang Chili Cheese

I picked up this interesting bag of "cornick", or toasted corn, at my local Asian supermarket today. It's a brand called Boy Bawang, which certainly has a nice ring to it, and though there were a few flavours, I went for the chilli cheese, partly because I love chilli cheese, and partly because the mascot on the front seems to be punching the flavours off the packet. I get that the mascot is a garlic bulb, as that's the most popular cornick flavour, but why is he so hostile towards chilli cheese? I picked up a bag of barbecue flavour, and he seems perfectly happy there:

I'm not happy that these are three months out of date though...
Well, baffling packaging aside, I opened up the pack and poured myself some toasted corn goodness. 

A nice helping of perfectly presented toasted corn. Not that I'd ever had toasted corn before, but I looked forward to trying it. Unfortunately, I was not blown away. It's a nice, filling snack, but what starts off crunchy slowly breaks down into a kind of mush. Still, they grew on me the more I ate, and the texture really wasn't much of a problem after a short while. The flavour, however, is just not strong enough. There's certainly a hint of cheese, but I couldn't really detect any spiciness, apart from in the dusty residue that had somehow materialised on my fingers afterwards. 

Perhaps I need to keep at it and try the other flavours, but these just didn't do too much for me. They're nice and filling, but just a bit too plain for my liking.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Today's Review: Ritter Sport White + Crisp

I've seen various mentions of Ritter Sport chocolate around the internet, but have barely seen any myself. I picked up a small bar in Sainsbury's a while back, but never got round to reviewing it. Today though, upon entering my local Lidl (which I don't do all that much), I found a stack of Ritter Sport bars on a shelf, and decided to pick up the most interesting looking one. This is a white chocolate bar filled with pieces of cornflake. A reverse white chocolate cornflake cake, you might say. How could I resist?


As you can see, the pieces inside are plentiful, and they certainly add a nice crunch to the bar. The chocolate itself is fantastic too, smooth and creamy, and it didn't give me that slightly sickly feeling I normally get from eating too much white chocolate. However, the chocolate was perhaps a little too thick in relation to the cornflake pieces, as although the different textures were noticeable, it was hard to pick up any cornflake flavour. It's a delicious, chunky bar of chocolate, but it left me wanting just a little bit more in the crunchy cornflake department.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Today's Review: Mr. Uppity

Adorning my Twitter, Facebook and Google+ profiles (I know, super social media guru) is a picture of a quite random selection of items. It is supposed to be representative of the array of things I review on this blog, and while I have indeed reviewed the R2D2 cookie jar and table fans, I certainly haven't reviewed the rest specifically. Well, now it is time to delve into the literary classic present at the forefront of my profile picture, Roger Hargreave's Mr. Uppity.

Mr. Uppity is part of the Mr. Men series of books, each of which deals with a different Mr. Man with a different Mr. name. There is Mr. Happy, Mr. Tickle, Mr. Small, and so on, and each character is pretty well represented by their name. Mr. Uppity is no exception. He is a rude, rich man who lives in a massive house.

You can tell from the middle window that his house is 1/3 atrium
Mr. Uppity spends his days wandering around and being rude and uppity to people. But one day, that changes, as he encounters a goblin in his garden, and promptly tells him to go away. The goblin, in return, works a spell on Mr. Uppity that shrinks him:

Now, Mr. Uppity doesn't appreciate being tiny, and so is led to the Goblin King, who allows him to return to normal, but on the condition that is he is ever rude to somebody, he will quickly shrink again. So, through a magical form of operant conditioning, Mr. Uppity learns not to be rude to people, for fear of having his entire molecular structure shrunk over and over again. But that's okay, because once Mr. Uppity stops being a dick, people start to like him, and that makes him happy.

So there you have it kids, the moral of the story is not to be rude to people, or else goblins will make you shrink. While the first part of the moral is pretty sound, the second is pretty ridiculous, but this is coming from a guy who wrote books where Mr. Greedy is scared slim by a giant, and Mr. Mean is tortured via magic until he becomes less mean, so I guess anything goes.

But, all in all, this is an entertaining book for the kids. The pictures are big, bold and happy, and while the threat of goblins in the real world is negligible, it is nice to have life lessons put across in an entertaining, magical manner. Mr. Uppity is a good addition to the Mr. Men range, and while it may not hold up to other classics like Mr. Happy and Mr. Small, it's still good fun.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Today's Review: The Purge

The year is 2022. Crime and unemployment in the United States are at an all time low after the nation became "reborn" under the New Founding Fathers. This is due to the introduction of "The Purge", an annual 12 hour period in which all crime is legal and emergency services are suspended. Citizens are encouraged to act on all their negative thoughts and feelings, and hopefully eliminate some homeless riff raff in the process.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a man who has made a lot of money selling home security systems to those who would rather stay inside at this special time of year and not be murdered in cold blood. The movie focuses on James and his family, all locked up inside their massive house as The Purge begins. But when a stranger comes calling, their safety is compromised, and the family must make some difficult decisions, and fight for their survival.

Does that sound like a silly premise? Well, that's because it is. The Purge just seems to exist as an excuse to show mindless violence, and while there are countless points in the movie where people on the radio or TV state that America is a prosperous country because everyone's allowed to murder people once a year, no one seems to explain why. There's some kind of class issue in the undertones that is quite interesting, but it's never fully explained or developed, because the whole movie takes place in one rich guy's house.

So the premise may be poorly executed and a little silly, but hey, we're here for the violence, right? Well, there's not a massive amount of that either. In the first half is just a waiting game, that does get a tad more suspenseful once the gang led by "Polite Leader" (Rhys Wakefield) turns up on the doorstep. Wakefield puts in quite a menacing performance, which is probably the best of the film. Unfortunately that isn't saying much. After a quite frankly boring first act, the action commences, but there isn't too much of it, and we're mostly treated to jump scares and cliche fight sequences. There's a twist thrown in at the end, but it's not really well developed or executed.

There's really not much I can say about The Purge. From the moment I heard the premise I was expecting to be unimpressed, and what I got was a boring plod through an underdeveloped plot, with crappy acting. If you want your fix of home invasion horror, go and watch Funny Games. Even if you've seen it already. Just stay away from this.

My rating: 1/5

Monday, 14 October 2013

Today's Review: Butterkist Toffee Apple Popcorn

I now present the last instalment of my Halloween trilogy. Well, it's the last of the three Halloween products I bought the other day, there may be more to come, who knows? Anyway, it's another limited edition flavour, a toffee apple flavour popcorn from Butterkist.

Toffee apples are a staple food of Halloween and Guy Fawke's Night, but I've never really bought into them. Sure, the coating on the apple is nice, but once you've bitten off all the skin you're just left with a disappointing apple on a stick. Thankfully, Butterkist have done away with all that healthy fruit nonsense, and made their toffee popcorn all apple flavoured. It's as simple as it sounds, but it's actually a pretty neat idea. The popcorn itself is as sticky and crunchy as always, and the apple flavour is actually very nice, blending in with the toffee nicely. It is, perhaps, as little bit too sweet, lending a somewhat artificial taste to the experience, but I certainly enjoyed it as a nice change from regular toffee popcorn. If you like toffee apples, or popcorn, or both, you can't go wrong with this one.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Today's Review: Penn State Devil's Flame Roasted Chipotle Chilli Pretzels

It's another Halloween treat today, and probably the one I've gotten most excited about this year. I stumbled upon these yesterday, and just had to try them. Penn State pretzels are crunchy little morsels of goodness, and now they've risen to the Halloween challenge with not just a new flavour, but some seasonally shaped pretzels too.

Look at that, little spider webs and bats. That's some Halloween dedication. It would have been cool to see some pumpkins too, but hey, we can't have everything. So these snacks certainly look the part, but the proof of the pretzel is in the tasting, as they don't say. Penn State have gone with a spicy chipotle chilli flavour, and I must say I've never tried a spicy pretzel before. Spicy flavours are a pretty good match for Halloween, but I am assured that these have been roasted by the devil's flame, so they're truly spooky.

These pretzels have a nice spicy kick to them. They're not overly hot, but these are chipotle flavoured, not ghost chillies, so I'll forgive that (I'd love to see some ghost chilli flavoured Halloween snacks though). The spiciness does get a little overwhelmed by the pure taste of pretzel underneath, but I quickly found that there was still a nice, spicy tingling sensation that hung around after. These pretzels are definitely my favourite Halloween themed snack so far this year. They're different, well presented, and most importantly, very tasty.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Today's Review: Pickled Onion Pom-Bear

The Halloween snacks are out in full force now, and I managed to pick up a few interesting ones today. Perhaps the one that most caught my eye were these Halloween themed Pom-Bear. They've actually gone and made a new flavour, instead of just repackaging an old one, so now you can get your favourite bear-shaped potato snack in pickled onion flavour.

I didn't bother taking a picture of the innards, because they still look like the same old Pom-Bear. A few had heads and limbs missing, as is the norm, so I suppose that's gruesome enough. The flavour is pretty much the same as any other pickled onion crisps, which is by no means a bad thing. It's interesting to see how they work with the light and fluffy texture of  Pom-Bear, as opposed to regular shaped crisps or chunky Monster Munch, and they certainly provide a tangy, tasty experience. Unfortunately, the flavouring doesn't seem to last too long, and after a few good chews they just taste like regular Pom-Bear.

This is a good effort to provide something different for Halloween, a whole new flavour that is actually pulled off rather well. They may not quite have the full on flavour I was expecting, but these are definitely tasty crisps that are worth a try, especially as they won't be around for long.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 11 October 2013

Today's Review: Tango Cherry & Blue Raspberry Sour Mega Toobz

Tango seem to be churning out all kinds of weird confectionery, and I seem to find it dotted about all over the place, mostly in Home Bargains and pound shops. Today I picked up these Sour Mega Toobz. They're cherry and blue raspberry pencils, with a purportedly sour coating. Now, I love pencil sweets, they're like the next evolution of laces, and fondant is delicious, so I couldn't pass these up.

Well, "toobz" they certainly are, and their size could be described as "mega" compared to other pencil sweets, I suppose. They're fairly long, and there were quite a few of them in the bag, seeing as it only cost a pound. As for the sour? Well, not so much. There's a slight tang in the sugar, but my lips didn't even think about retracting into my face. Still, the flavours are certainly nice. They're not the boldest, but they're fruity, and the flavour choices are nice. Although the sugar on top isn't really that sour, at least there's not enough that it makes a load of mess. These certainly aren't the best pencil sweets I've tasted, but I won't turn my nose up at another pack.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Today's Review: Lindt Cookie Crunch Bar

Another day, another bar of Lindt. I'm certainly not mad though. I feel I haven't tried enough Lindt products, outside of the truffles and bunnies, but I must say I've never really come across any other varieties. But I did manage to find this bar for merely £1 in Wilkinson.

It's a Lindt milk chocolate bar, with pieces of cookie in it. Certainly nothing groundbreaking, but seeing as my Lindt experiences haven't been too varied, I was pretty excited. The chocolate is smooth and creamy, as always, and as you can see, the bar is absolutely packed with cookie pieces. They're quite small, so they don't pack a massive crunch, but it ensures an overall smooth, creamy experience with a nice cookie flavour. It's a delicious bar, and certainly more tasty than other cookie filled chocolates I've had in the past. I'll probably pick up another bar if I run across one in the future.

My rating: 5/5 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Today's Review: Lindt Lindor & Nocciolatte Bars

These Lindt bars have shown up in my local Tesco, conveniently priced in a 2 for £1.20 offer. I'm not sure how long they've been around. but it's the first I've seen of them, so obviously I had to snatch them up. 

Here we have a Lindor bar. If you've ever had the Lindor truffles, then you know what to expect here. It's basically the same thing, the same fantastic chocolate, the same melt in your mouth truffle, but in bar form. The bar is pretty long too, so you get quite a bit for your money. Truly delicious, all the way through.

The second bar, Nocciolatte, is a little different. It's quite a thin slab of chocolate, with three whole chocolate coated hazelnuts plopped on top. It's like a chocolatey traffic light.

I'm not normally a fan of whole nuts in chocolate bars, but these certainly aren't hard on the teeth. There's a nice amount of chocolate around them, and a nice hazelnut filling in between, and the flavours all blend together really well. 

So there we have it, a couple of long, tasty chocolate bars. They're both delicious, not that I expected anything else from Lindt. 

My rating: 10/10

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Today's Review: Pizza Hut's Cheeseburger Stuffed Crust

Have you ever been eating pizza and wished you could have been eating something else? Well, Pizza Hut have covered your pizza/hot dog crossover cravings, and have even managed to squeeze meatballs inside their pizza crust. "Whatever next?" people cried in dismay and disgust (probably), and indeed, how could the stuffed crust possibly evolve any longer? Pizza Hut has answered that question with a resounding "cheeseburgers".

That's right, cheeseburgers. In a pizza crust. Many would look down upon such a pizza in disgust, but I looked down and saw opportunity, the opportunity to gorge myself on two of the most delicious offerings of modern fast food in one sitting, and probably increase my risk of heart disease. But I don't care. I love pizza, I love cheeseburgers, and I've been eagerly anticipating chowing down on this crust since it came out in the Middle East.

Only available in large, the cheeseburger stuffed crust pizza comprises of ten slices, each with a small, perfectly formed burger patty wrapped up in doughy pan crust, topped with cheese. The patties themselves, while 100% beef, aren't exactly the Aberdeen Angus offerings you'll find at established burger joints. It seems like they're made of the same ground beef that you can order as a topping, which is pretty smart from a cost effective point of view. As such, the burgers are quite soft, not very chewy, and still have a kind of distinctive "pizza topping" taste to them, but they are attached to a pizza, so it's not all bad. The crust surrounding the patties is pretty good too. It's not your average burger bun, but it still works, bridging the gap between pizza topping and burger.

So really, these burgers aren't as tasty as they could be, but let's face it, if you are willing to pay good money for a massive pizza with cheeseburgers baked into the crust, you're probably not a gourmet food critic. What we have here is a neat idea for a new crust, executed pretty well, considering Pizza Hut don't do burgers. It's not the best crust they've ever done, but I certainly enjoyed it. I look forward to seeing what they think of next.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 7 October 2013

Today's Review: Mountain Dew Amp Energy Drink

Amp, short for Ampere, is defined as "the constant current that will produce an attractive force of 2 × 10–7 newton per metre of length between two straight, parallel conductors of infinite length and negligible circular cross section placed one metre apart in a vacuum". Obviously it's the perfect name to slap on an energy drink. Alright, all jargon aside, it's a buzz word for electricity, and energy, and guitars and stuff, so here we have Mountain Dew's Amp, an energy drink that is apparently set apart from their already established energy drink.

I must admit that I'm disappointed by Mountain Dew's presence in the UK. I'm a big fan of the original, iconic American drink, but all we have over here are weird tasting energy drinks. This one is no exception. It states that it's "citrus flavoured", but it doesn't taste like any citrus fruit I've ever had. After swishing it around my mouth for a while, like a mediocre wine taster, I concluded that this drink actually tastes like pear drops, and last time I checked, a pear is a pome fruit, not a citrus.

But yeah, this drink tastes like pear drops. Watered down, caffeine infused pear drops. It's not exactly undrinkable, but it's certainly not very nice. I did quite the energy kick from drinking it though, so if you're overly tired and for some insane reason this is the only energy source around, by all means give it a go. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend it. Come on Mountain Dew, you're letting your image down. Release the good stuff over here, so I can stop paying import prices for it.

My rating: 1/5

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Today's Review: Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup

It seems Brits are finally understanding the versatile wonder of peanut butter. Once confined to simple jars, peanut butter is now creeping into various snack foods, be they imported or nay. I hope to one day see a home grown jar of peanut butter and jelly, but to hold me off for the time being, everyone's favourite ice cream duo have caved in to public pressure and brought over this Peanut Butter Cup flavour ice cream.

This flavour is all about the peanut butter. It boasts peanut butter flavour ice cream, stuffed with chocolate peanut butter cups. I wasn't too excited about trying this, as the Peanut Butter Me Up Core flavour came out a while ago, which was the same thing, but with an added jammy core. But, since this was on offer, I figured I'd give it a go, and I'm glad I did. The peanut butter ice cream is as creamy and delicious as before, but the real difference is in the peanut butter cup chunks. In the Core flavour, they're quite small and far between, since there's a lot of room taken up by the jam centre. In Peanut Butter Cup, however, there are a load of cups, and they're huge. I can only get a small part of the way through the ice cream before having to stop to excavate half a delicious, chocolatey peanut butter cup, as if I'm some kind of frozen food archaeologist. The peanut butter inside the cups lend a different texture to the experience too, so almost every spoonful is a creamy, crunchy, chewy delight. This is definitely a great flavour, and I'll most likely be buying another tub at some point in the near future.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Today's Review: Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin

Well, that picture is a bit off centre, isn't it? Well, it's all gone now, so I can't take another one. Anyway, I saw this bar reviewed a while back, and was wondering when I'd be able to get my hands on one. Thankfully, Cyber Candy delivered last weekend, and before long I was tucking into this Dairy Milk Tiffin, which is basically Dairy Milk with raisin and biscuit. Since I love the Raisin & Biscuit Yorkie, I was really looking forward to this one.

As you can see, there's plenty of stuff packed into this bar. Imagine a fruit and nut Dairy Milk, but with biscuit instead of nuts (that's probably self explanatory). So it's a nice, smooth, creamy, juicy, chewy, crunchy experience. Yet, there seemed to be something a little off about it. I'll put it down to my tastebuds expecting Yorkie chocolate instead of Dairy Milk. I probably would have formed a better opinion, but the bar itself is very small, and vanished quite quickly. 

So while it did taste a bit weird, I certainly enjoyed this bar. I've wanted a raisin and biscuit Dairy Milk for a long time, and this fits the bill. I just didn't love it as much as other Dairy Milk varieties I've tried lately.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 4 October 2013

Today's Review: Cadbury Blackcurrant Bite Mini Rolls & McVitie's Screamin' Sour Blackcurrant Cake Bars

With all that pre-Christmas excitement yesterday, I forgot that I've picked up a few Halloween treats lately too. Halloween means trick or treaters. Less so here than in America, but it does happen. Trick or treaters means sweet companies churning out all kinds of Halloween themed products with the hope that they'll be bought and chucked into the buckets of costumed children on the big night. Now, lollies, treat size chocolate bars and gummy sweets I'd understand, but would one expect to receive a Mini Roll during a trick or treat? Cadbury seem to think so, enough to put "Trick or Treats" on the front of these mini rolls. What makes them Halloween themed Mini Rolls? Not much, really, but they are "Blackcurrant Bite" flavour, and there's a vampire in the picture. Spooky. 

Inside though, it's just a perfectly normal Mini Roll. The jam is certainly blackcurrant flavoured, but as you can see, there's hardly any there. The sponge and creamy filling are as nice as ever, but it's a decidedly less than average Mini Roll. At least with the strawberry version you can actually taste the jam. I certainly wouldn't buy any of these to give to kids on Halloween, they'd probably just end up egging my house out of pure spite.

My rating: 2/5

I'm not even sure any cake bar could be considered an adequate "treat" on such a spooky evening. But wait... What's this? A competitor appears!

McVitie's have also brought out some Halloween cake bars, and they're also blackcurrant flavour. I guess blackcurrant is the spookiest flavour (after blood orange of course). This bar is described as "an eye-watering blend of ghoulish purple sponge, dark crackly chocolate and a sour blackcurrant filling". That sounds more like it, let's take a look inside.

Yeah, these look good. Ghoulish indeed, the sponge is a wonderful dark purple, and it goes really well with the dark chocolate, which is indeed quite crackly. The best part, however, is the filling. As you can see, there's quite a thick layer on top, and while it's not overly sour, there's certainly a very nice tangy taste to it, and the whole bar comes together in a sweet, sour, chewy, gooey experience. This is what Halloween food should be about. Dark colours, odd textures, strange flavours. These cake bars are delicious, it's a shame that they'll probably only be around for Halloween. Still, as far as Halloween treats go, McVitie's have definitely won the trick or treat cake bar battle.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Today's Review: Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Wonderland & Snowy Delight

Christmas is here. Well, it's in the shops anyway, and that means I can sample all the wonderful Christmas themed chocolate bars. I actually picked up this Winter Wonderland Dairy Milk a while back, and didn't get round to reviewing it, but now I have two festive Cadbury bars that I can jam into one post. 

Winter Wonderland is quite a weirdly named bar, but it's quite a different idea, so I'll give it that. Inside you get your standard size Dairy Milk bar, but made up of tessellating Christmas tree shapes. Not only that, but the chocolate alternates between milk and white chocolate. The classic Cadbury chocolate is still as good as ever, and the white chocolate is certainly wonderful and creamy too, but it disappoints me a little that the white trees are only white on the surface, with mostly milk chocolate underneath. I understand that manufacturing alternating pure white and milk chocolate bars would probably be impossible, but I just wish there was more white chocolate. Perhaps if every piece was partially white, like snow covered trees, I'd like it more, but it seems the aesthetic qualities won out on this one. Don't get me wrong, it's still very tasty, and it looks fantastic and festive, I guess I'm just longing for more Cadbury white chocolate.

My rating: 4/5

Thankfully, the Snowy Delight bar makes up for the slight misgivings I have with Winter Wonderland. This is one of the good old Cadbury bars with fancy filling, and this time it's a vanilla flavour one. Nothing too fancy, but definitely keeping with the season in terms of colour. 

As you can see, there's a pretty thick helping inside, and it melts in the mouth rally quickly. The vanilla filling is wonderfully smooth and creamy, and blends in wonderfully with the flavour of the chocolate. I couldn't get enough of this one.

My rating: 5/5

These bars are both great, festive offerings from Cadbury. The Snowy Delight may not be the most original idea, but it's very tasty. The Winter Wonderland really looks that part though, and while I wish for more from it, it's still a great Christmassy product, and there's plenty of time to eat a whole lot more before the big day. Merry pre-Christmas!

Overall rating: 9/10