Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Travels in New Zealand Part 1

Travels in New Zealand Part 1 – Christchurch, Franz Josef, Westport

Day 1: Besides the being held for longer than normal at the customs desk because neither myself or Jude could remember or find the address of our first hostel, we finally made it to the rental place.

Here’s Simon. There was some serious debate over his name, and I petitioned for Neil strongly for about 10 minutes before conceding. Jude also tried to name him Sunny but I was having none of that.  During our drive to the hostel I hit the switch for the windscreen wipers instead of the indicators approximately 17 times because they are conveniently on the wrong side of the car. Needless to say Jude didn’t fare much better the next day.

On arriving in Christchurch which was surprisingly sunny (although all the locals seemed to be wearing coats) we took a walk down to the beach. I’m optimistically wearing sunglasses. After our tiring walk to the beach we got a takeaway from Pizza Hut and fell asleep at promptly 8:30pm.

 Day 2: We set off early and headed to Franz Josef, a small town surrounded by giant glaciers.

Jude driving, look, there's a mountain in the snowy background!

Look, there's a cow and a snowy mountain!

Oh look, the mountain's getting closer, how pretty!

Vicki: Um.....do we have to drive through that?? Jude, now is probably the time to tell you I'm terrified of heights!

Jude: *swerves round 'Deaths Corner' at 85kpm*

I kept complaining how cold I was, and Jude kept reminding me that we were “in a giant cocktail glass with ice.” Nevertheless we donned out bikinis and checked out the local hot springs, made up of 3 pools which range between 36 and 40 degrees. They were rather hot, but not so hot that Jude’s glasses steamed up (although I would have paid to see her enter the men’s changing rooms by mistake...). After half an hour we were as wrinkled as prunes so headed back to our hostel. Later that night dressed as nicely as you can in a town made of ice we headed out for a discounted dodgy chicken burger and chips and headed to “the strip” to check out the bars.

Upon arriving at second of only two bars we could find we purchased a corona and checked out the man candy. We kept looking. Desperate to practice our skills on the pool table we asked to go doubles with two men from the Philippines who lived here, one of whose brother-in-law worked at the bar so they kept offering to buy us cheap pizza. We happily took the free corona’s but turned down the pizza. We also met some cute guys from the States but they shortly left and we were back to wondering how long it would be before the guys attempted to kidnap us. An offer to go back to theirs to play karaoke was all we needed. We staggered home, turned the heating on, and curled up in bed. Alone.

Day 3: After a hearty breakfast and what felt like two tins of baked beans we took a walk up to the glacier. Here’s picture number five. After the first four attempts we realised our heads were too big so we had to duck down to get the glacier in the picture...

I took over the driving that day having been less than impressed with Jude’s “driving” the day before, and taking corners recommended at 25kpm at 125kmp. After I pointed out that one of the corners up ahead was called Death’s Corner she slowed down to 85kpm. We were heading up north along the coast to Westport. Having missed out Queenstown because I didn’t want to drive seven hours to watch Jude bungee jump, we decided on Buller Gorge in Westport which is another hub of sports activities.

Because it was a relatively short drive (3 and a half hours) we made a couple of stops on the way. Jude had promised me we would see the Pancake rocks so I was particularly excited about this prospect. But first we stopped off in a town called Greymouth because we both needed the toilet and wanted to get some lunch. I also bought a book and Jude bough some pens and a pinhead. 

Next up were the pancake rocks. In my head they looked like this.

In actuality, they looked like this. I was rather disappointed.

Finally we arrived in Westport and checked into a rather nice backpackers which offered fresh towels, heated blankets, and a cosy living room with a fire place. We hit the local supermarket to buy some nail varnish remover and some make up remover, which we forget, but I ended up with a cheap pay as you go mobile phone that just about calls and texts. After scouring the streets we found a nice play called the Danniston Dog Saloon for dinner, but found later on that the concept of bars didn’t exist in Westport yet.

Day 4: This was it: our adventure day! First up – horse riding. Now this may not seem like a dangerous sport to you, but here is a picture of Jude riding....

Here is a picture of me riding.

Here is another picture of me NEXT TO Jude.

After than was Quad biking. But after managing to crash 3 times while going in a straight line I admitted defeat and went home to shower. I returned half an hour later, nearly running over Jude on her quad bike while attempting to cross the road. Here is a picture of Jude on her quad bike looking all muddy and stuff.

Jude told me she was amazingly good at it and is thinking about taking it up as a career, and not to tell her mum. I’ll wait for the proof. On the way back from picking Jude up we got pulled over by the police. This had never happened to me before so I was equally terrified/excited/wondering what on earth I’d done wrong. Luckily I hadn’t, and they were merely checking for fugitives. Phew.

After Jude showered because she smelt we took a trip to the seal colony. Here are some pictures of the seals. You have to look quite hard because the rocks are brown and the seals are brown. If you’re colour blind don’t bother. 

This is how far we are from you guys in London. It’s pretty far. That’s why we’re 11 hours ahead.

This is Jude blending into the hillside.

And so ends the first part of our journey because Jude has just
emerged from the kitchen with wine and if I continue there will be even more typos. Stay tuned for wine tasting and swimming with dolphins – but not necessarily in that order.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A first-timers guide to San Diego Comic Con

A First-timers guide to San Diego Comic Con

I’ve seen a lot of articles written recently from long time attendees of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) for those attending for the first time, but having been myself for the first time two years ago here are some helpful tips pro’s tends to forget but I found essential.

1)      Be prepared to queue: Don’t expect a nice one hour wait to see the panel of your favourite TV show or film, if you want to get in the first few rows be prepared to join the queue at 4am at the latest, but some people queue for days.

2)      Buy a rug or a fold up chair: This is an absolute must. You will be queuing. For hours. The pavement is not comfortable.

3)      Bring a source of entertainment: It’s a long wait, and while it’s nice to chat to those around you a pack of cards, access to internet, or any other form of game based entertainment will be needed to get you through hours of queuing and the gaps in between panels

4)      Don’t think that after a quick dinner you can head pack to the hotel for an early night ready to rise at dawn tomorrow. You will meet people. Nice people, who will invite you with them to the next bar they’re hitting and you’ll want to go. You’ll drink shots and strange cocktails and arrive back at the hotel at 2am with your alarm set for 4am.  It will happen. Embrace it.

5)      Remember that whatever you buy it’s got to fit in your suitcase on the way home. Although you do have two carry on items remember that if you buy an expensive piece of large artwork it’s got to survive the plane journey back to wherever you came from.

6)      If you want to see a panel that starts about 11am or 1pm, get in the room as soon as it opens in the morning otherwise you run the risk or either not getting in at all, or being stuck right in the very back row and spending your time staring at a TV screen because the stage is so far away.

7)      You will likely be queuing from very early hours of the morning until 6/7pm, bring enough food to last hour 14 + hours and plenty of water.

8)      Final reminder to not leave your bags unattended. I know it seems simple but the amount of people that pop off to use the bathroom or meet their friend and leave all their belongings unattended is ridiculous so keep your belongings close.

But most importantly enjoy Comic Con!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Arthur Review

If you’ve seen the original Arthur, there’s not much (if any) point in seeing this remake. Unless, of course, you’re a diehard Russell Brand fan.

Perhaps the most complained about problem with Arthur, besides the fact that it’s starring Russell Brand, is the tagline “Meet the world’s only lovable billionaire.” A couple of valid points have been made by others and are worth repeating here: firstly – the fact that his mother threatens that Arthur will lose his inheritance of $950 million (note the M for MILLION), and secondly, even if he were a billionaire he’s certainly not the *only* lovable one – what about Bruce Wayne, or that woman that wrote that about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard?

See the rest of the review here: http://www.heyuguys.co.uk/2011/04/20/arthur-review/

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Drive Angry 3D Review

Title: Drive Angry 3D
Director: Patrick Lussier
Rating: 15
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner

Drive Angry can really be summed up in one word: absurd. I used to like Nicolas Cage, and for a long time Matchstick Men was one of my favourite films. Now it seems Nicolas Cage is a joke. Fresh of the failure of Season of the Witch, Cage stars in this 3D film about driving angrily and killing lots of people in order to get back his granddaughter who has been kidnapped by an evil cult who plan to sacrifice her to bring back Lucifer.

It’s almost as if they tried to incorporate as many of Nicolas Cage’s bad films and make it in to one film. It’s The Wicker Man/Ghost Rider/Gone in Sixty Seconds all wrapped up in to one explosive-car chase-killing spree-mythical film that makes very little sense.

Cage plays Milton (*hint* religious metaphor *hint*) who is on a mission to save granddaughter and seek revenge on the cult that kidnapped her and killed his daughter. The cult believe that by sacrificing Milton’s granddaughter – there’s no explanation why is has to be that particular baby – they will resurrect Lucifer and all be rewarded.

Needing a sexy female sidekick, Milton picks up a waitress named Piper (Amber Heard) in a bar who’s bored of her life and abusive boyfriend so decides to go on the run with a monosyllabic man she met at work. Reckless decision? Nah, just another regular day at work.

However while Milton and sidekick are busy chasing the cult, they are being tracked down by William Fichtner’s character The Accountant (he has no name), who is hell bent on finding Milton but always seems to be one step behind him.

What’s great about this film is that everyone seems to get shot/shot at but still survives. What’s also great is that they don’t explain why until the end of the 104 minute film, so for 100 minutes you just have to accept that Nicolas Cage can get shot in the eye and live to tell the tale.

The supporting cast, Heard and Fichtner, who are both good actors end up completely over shadowed by Cage’s overbearing screen presence which generally consist of him glaring angrily and either ignoring people or answering in monosyllabic syllabic sentences. Maybe Cage didn’t bother to learn his lines and figured all he had to do was shoot guns and drive angrily it would all be okay?

Being female I will admit that members of the male gender may find this film somewhat more enjoyable than I did, but anyone who sees this film and doesn’t laugh with absurdity through half of it needs to have their brains checked.

Rating: Two stars

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Top 10 Films of 2010

I haven't seen most of the films fellow reviews have, nor have I had the time to get round to watching half of them, so here's my own take on the top 10 films of 2010.

1. Mary and Max

Probably a film that outside fellow reviewers no one will have seen, but it's without a doubt my favourite film of 2010. I'm very pleased to have seen it in other people's top 10 as well as I really want to encourage more people to see this exceptional film. It is a beautiful, honest, and unique portrayal of human connection with brilliant animation and design supported by a fantastic and memorable soundtrack.

2. The Social Network

Another film that made it in to most people’s top 10, and for good reason. The script, the acting, the direction...everything about this film is excellent. The recent Golden Globe nominations see this film up for six categories and undoubtedly will receive Oscar nominations when they are announced.

3. Toy Story 3

Most people have How To Train Your Dragon as opposed to Toy Story listed, but ashamedly having not yet seen the former Toy Story 3 takes this spot. I don't think I need must justification for this choice, but it brought together adults and children, made grown men weep (you know who you are) and ensured that Disney has owned the top two highest merchandised films (Cars is the other).

4. Inception

Another film that's been Golden Globe nominated. There was so much hype surrounding this film that many people felt quite let down when it was eventually released, but I wasn't one of them. I didn't see it on the weekend of its initial release like most, but waited until 3 or 4 weeks later and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't really been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio going in to the cinema, but I definitely was when I came out.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs The World

The hype, however, did ruin this film for me. Why then is it my number 5 then you ask? While I was slightly disappointed by Scott Pilgrim, I do appreciate that it was stylistically a unique film, with some great dialogue and a fantastic cast, and I'm definitely partial to Michael Cera.

6. Kick Ass

I'm not usually a fan of violent films, or really any film where people get tortured or violently killed, but Kick Ass is my exception. There were parts of this film I enjoyed more than Scott Pilgrim, and others that were worse so I feel like both films are about equal rank in my top 10, but I didn't want to start doing joint places. Although Aaron Johnson had the leading role in the film, Chloe Moretz was definitely the star, and I'm certainly looking forward to Kick Ass 2.

7. The Town

There are a few people out there who felt pretty 'meh' about The Town, but it was definitely one of my favourites of the year so it creeps in at number 7. Although Gone Baby Gone received positive reviews, I really think this film has put Ben Affleck on the map as a great director. It has a fantastic cast - I was very surprised to like Blake Lively's performance - and any film that doesn't make me switch off when the car chase scenes begin is certainly worthy of being in my top 10.

8. The Brothers Bloom

Probably an odd choice and I haven't yet seen it in anyone else's list, but I thought this film was funny, entertaining and brilliant with some fantastic performances from Mark Ruffalo, Adrian Brody and Rachael Weisz. With a sort of 'In Bruges' humour style, The Brothers Bloom is quirky, enjoyable and definitely worth a watch if you haven't already.

9. Whip It

Too be honest I'd almost forgotten about Whip It until I spotted it in View London's list and then I remembered what a brilliant film it is. Drew Barrymore directs and stars in this film alongside Ellen Page, Justin Long and Kristen Wiig about a female roller derby team. It's a shame it never saw wide theatrical release because it's a fantastic and enjoyable film.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I know, I know. I'm sorry, but you're dealing with a massive Potter fan here. In fact, 'Potter' and 'Harry' were 5th and 7th place in my tweet cloud which says more than enough about me. The Potter series have a reputation of, validly so, not being particularly good. But I honestly think Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows changed that, it was darker, more mature, with some fantastic emotional and dramatic scenes. The only reason it's not higher up is because, as much as I love him, Daniel Radcliffe still can't act.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Matt Damon in talks for 'Elysium'

Shrouded in secrecy, Elysium is Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming project, so secret that no plot synopsis is known and casting is only just beginning. In a previous interview with Bleeding Cool, District 9 star Sharlto Copley said that he considered Blomkamp “to be the best Director working out there right now, so I would love to be able to continue the relationship” and it looks like he is going to get the chance. Copley is the first actor to be confirmed for Elysium and Deadline today have Matt Damon in talks for a role.

Copley, who has recently starred in The A Team is set to appear in the much anticipated Men in Black III is 2012 prior to Elysium which currently has no production or release date. Meanwhile Damon’s upcoming films include Hereafter, True Grit and The Adjustment Bureau.

Despite relatively nothing being known about Elysium, the director and cast (confirmed and rumoured) ensure this film is going to be surrounded by buzz even from this early on in the pre-production process. District 9 gave Blomkamp seven wins and twelve nominations for writing and direction and Copley who received four nominations for his performance, while Damon holds twenty award wins and fifty-four nominations to his name.

Viral Video released for Neil Burger's 'Limitless'

NZT - The Clear Pill

The marketing minds supporting Neil Burger’s Limitless have released a viral video advertising NZT – The Clear Pill. The film will star Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a copywriter who discovers a drug that gives him supernatural powers and this ad sells that drug.

This clip shows you in less than 2 minutes the fundamental difference in American TV to anywhere else, and why only in the US could a film like this be made. For those of you have un/fortunately not sat through endless hours of American TV, channel hopping for what feels like an age, hoping to find a channel that doesn’t appear to be continuous adverts about miracle drugs, imagine this trailer on repeat.

You know that spam box in your email account that gets filled up with magic diet pills and penis enhancements drug emails? That’s what an American ad break is like. Because of the regulations, these types of drugs can be advertised regularly on TV but the advertisers also have to say what the side effects are, and although the Clear Pill video may seem funny, it is filled with exactly the kind of things you can expect to hear.

With a brilliant cast line up including Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel and Abbie Cornish, Limitless looks to mock these adverts by taking the drugs to the next level and supplying superpowers as side effects, and will hopefully be a brilliant and sharply funny film.