14 December 2013

Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Movie Review

More walking! Despite being dropped by eagles at the end of the first film, who could have quite easily taken them directly to the mountain! This is like three films in one, as the dwarves, who are still running from the orcs, end up going through a dark forrest chased by spiders and captured by elves. Meanwhile Gandalf goes off to investigate if the 9 Kings of Men have been resurrected, which they have, and that leads to the discovery of Sauron being back in action (link to Lord of the Rings). Meanwhile again the dwarves have escaped in barrels down a river, again being pursued by orcs, getting ever closer to the mountain and Smaug the Dragon! The third part of the film is based entirely in the mountain facing off against the dragon, but it ends on a cliff hanger! Even more action that the first, but there is some very dodgy CGI in parts, it almost feels slightly too long at 2hr 45mins, but just manages to keep you engrossed for the whole time. We didn't bother with 3D or HFR versions this time, as last time it disappointed on both fronts.

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 8 out of 10

7 December 2013

Frozen Film Review

Well Disney seems to be back on form under John Lasseter of Pixar fame. Based on The Snow Queen, this is more Tangled than Wreck-It Ralph (as the poster says). Usual Disney princess film, filled with some great songs and funny sidekick snowman. Two sisters, one with ice powers lose their parents and are left to rule, but after a nasty freezing incident accident when they were younger the sisters seal the palace and live in fear. Until finally the coronation of the new queen, when her powers are revealed and she runs away. This is then a journey of going to find her. Really well animated, and probably would have been good in 3D, the songs however are something else, with very memorable and powerful lyrics in "Let It Go". A perfect winter christmassy movie for all.

Ben 7 out of 10
Barry 7 out of 10


30 November 2013

Airkix Indoor Skydiving

Today we went to the new Airkix Indoor Skydiving in Basingstoke. We'd bought a bogof ticket way back and finally decided to use it. Which was just as well, as at £47 each normally you only get 2 minutes flight time. They do tell you that the average skydive is 50 seconds, but still, bit pricey! The actual experience was very good though, free floating in +100mph winds, Barry even paid an extra £5 to go spiralling up the wind tunnel with the instructor.

24 November 2013

Hunger Games: Catching Fire Movie Review

Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a much darker film than the first. There are rumblings of revolution as the people living in the districts look to Katniss to set them free. The increasingly jealous president sees this and threatens her if she doesn't back down, read the preset PR scripts and play ball. She doesn't, so the president holds a special 75th games, where winners from each district fight again, knowing full well that Katniss is the only female winner from District 12 and will automatically be re-entered. The film from then on in is pretty much the same as the first, but with a different more aggressive arena. The actors are a bit older and bit wiser and this film plays out much better, both acted and story wise. It ends with a nice cliff hanger setup for the third film.

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 6 out of 10


10 November 2013

Thor 2: Dark World 3D Movie Review

In Thor 2 he takes on the Dark Elf who has some ancient power hidden away somewhere that can apparently destroy everything. The film seems to jitter around between ancients battles, sword slashing, laser bazookas and space craft, a right miss-mash of technology and styles that didn't really work for me. Why does someone with a laser walk up to someone with a sword to shoot them? Anyway. The ancient power is obviously found in its hidden place and a chase between worlds to control its powers ensues. Then portals start opening up between worlds as they align and people start popping from world to world and it all gets a bit confusing!! All you need to know is this is completely OTT comic book action, with tongue in cheek humour and you just have to sit back and lap it up with a bucket of popcorn.

Ben 7 out of 10
Barry 8 out of 10


9 November 2013

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 3D Film Review

The follow up to the amusing original, but minus Mr-T. They thought they had destroyed the food making machine, but it turns out that its gone into overdrive and is creating foodimal based creatures such as Shrimpanzes, Hipotatomus, Melonphants, Flamango, Mosquitoasts and Grand Tacodile. Where the CEO of LIVE (evil backwards people!) is after the machine to try and churn out his next Food Bar 8.0 product and uses Flint's urge to impress his childhood hero inventor against him. The story is fairly average, but its the animation that impresses with its wacky style and all the amusing flourishes going on with the background characters, in particular Steve the monkey. We deliberately saw this in 3D as the first one impressed and there are some great bits in this film too.

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 6 out of 10


2 November 2013

Feeding the Tigers at Longleat

After staying at the Premier Inn in Frome for the night we got up early for breakfast and then headed to Longleat Safari Park to give the tigers their breakfast! After a brief Land Rover drive to the enclosure, we carefully stepped over the tiger wee and fed each one a couple of pieces of horse meat. They were literally huge, much bigger than you expected and a couple of them stood up on their hind legs to grab the meat through the bars, the keeper said the male was like 12ft tall! After the tiger feeding, which lasted about 30 minutes, we drove round the actual safari park to see all the other animals, then we parked up by Longleat House and walked round the smaller animals including the penguins.

27 October 2013

Ender's Game Movie Review

What looked like a very promising sci-fi movie from the trailer turned out to be a kiddy version of Wargames crossed with Starship Troopers, except without even seeing the bugs! Basically the human race is all but wiped out and Harrison Ford is training the next super-strategist child to control the entire human fleet to wipe out the bugs before they attack again. What follows is an hour and a half of children playing laser tag in a zero gravity room (which actually looked ideal for 3D treatment, but wasn't 3D-ised). While the child actors are pretty good they also grate slightly and you never really believe they're up to the task of saving us. Average fodder and definitely a DVD job.

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 6 out of 10


21 October 2013

Last Day in Fort Lauderdale

The final day and we have until 5pm to soak up as much sun as we possibly can!

20 October 2013

Gravity IMAX 3D Movie Review

Today started out grey so we headed to the IMAX by the mall to see Gravity. A bit of a silly story which sees a Russian satellite destroyed, as it was malfunctioning, which sets off a chain reaction of shrapnel in space, which gradually takes out other satellites and causes a huge load of debris moving faster than bullets. And why do we care about this? Well because George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are in outer space too, trying to repair a space station and are just about to be in a whole heap of trouble! Its a very tense story of how these two are stranded with no communication to Earth and how they survive. The story moves between action, suspense and emotion, with Bullock in particular playing an amazing role. If you can look past the silly starting story, then this is a superb film and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The 3D didn't look that great but the IMAX sound was amazing!

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 9 out of 10


18 October 2013

Road Trip Outta the Keys

We start the 4.5 hour drive from Key West to Fort Lauderdale, but after multiple stops it ended up taking 6 hours! Anyways the roof way down on the Camaro, the sun was shining, so it didn't really matter.

17 October 2013

Key West Jet Skis

Today we set of early for a Denny's breakfast followed by Jet Skiing round Key West and three other smaller islands with Fury Tours. The first section was at around 25-30mph with lots of zig-zagging to get us used to turning at speed. The second section we got upto 35mph and were then given free reign to do whatever we wanted in the Gulf of Mexico. We then set off at an even more rapid 40-45mph under a bridge and over to the Atlantic Ocean side arriving at a sand bar, where we could get off and stretch our legs in the shallow water. The final section was again at full speed right back to dock, passing the southern most point again. All of this was captured on camera, but for some reason the camera decided to have an epic-fail and all the photos are blurry!!!

16 October 2013

Key West Parasailing

After a morning in the shade by the pool, as its boiling hot, we braved a parasail with Fury Tours. Had a great view of the southern end of Key West.

15 October 2013

Driving to Key West

Our 2hr 20min drive from Key Largo to Key West started (after a flooding lavatory incident) in style in our Chevrolet Camaro, as seen as Bumblebee in the Transformers movie.

14 October 2013

Key Largo and Snorkelling

No messing around on this holiday, as Sunday night when we landed we drove straight to Key Largo where we were staying in the rather luxurious surroundings of the Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort. We fell almost instantly asleep after a 1.5hr drive, but the very next day sprang into action and went snorkelling with the Pirate Island Divers and explored Grecian Reef and Key Largo Dry Rocks Reef, where we saw underwater Jesus! Yes we aren't joking, it a replica of an Italian statue and sunk on the reef, he's actually now covered in fire coral, so any touches or hugs would be very poisonously painful!

The Marriott Key Largo Beach Resort

Look carefully! Its underwater Jesus!

6 October 2013

Up @ The O2

My delayed birthday surprise was to climb over one of Europe's largest concert arenas, The O2 arena in London! The dome is 365m around (for 365 days of the year), has 12 supports (for the 12 months) and is 52m tall (for the weeks in a year). The walkway is actually suspended 2m above the dome, and is only anchored at each end and the centre. Needless to say the walkway is a bit bouncy and steep, but you are strapped onto a safety rail at all times. They actually allow you to take your own photos too, but only at the very top. It was a beautiful day with a slight breeze and we could see the financial district, olympic village and Thames Barrier.

15 September 2013

White House Down Movie Review

Olympus Has Fallen 2... err I mean White House Down is yet another summer movie about the White House being taken over/blown up. Being directed by Roland Emmerich, who has already destroyed the White House before in Independence Day, I was expecting a movie with a lot more explosions and destruction. Both films have ridiculous plots too, with the same 'Oh I happened to be in the White House when it got taken over by terrorists' excuse. However it really turns into a game of cat and mouse with lots of shooting, which is disappointing as this makes Olympus Has Fallen the better movie.

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 7 our of 10


25 August 2013

Elysium Movie Review

Zzzzzzzz, oh sorry dozed off there, as this is a fairly old basic story but in a sci-fi setting. Its the future, the rich are getting richer and moving to outer space, the poor are getting poorer and living on the toilet that is now Earth. Everyone is dreaming of getting up to Elysium, the perfect city in space, but those with illegal connections make it a reality. Mix in a hidden power struggle twist and Jodie Foster with a very dodgy accent and thats pretty much it! Damon plays Max, who has dreamed of making it up there since childhood, but due to a fairly nasty accident is driven to make it happen, as they have technology on Elysium that can save him. It all sounds very action packed and the sci-fi element adds a new spin, but the whole film just seems to plod along and not really get going. The twist seems like a huge convenience just to try and spice the story up, but fails. The suit that Damon wears to make is look more sci-fyey isn't actually for that purpose at all. I really don't know about this film, with some tuning it may have been rescued, but as is stands its decidedly average.

Ben 5 out of 10
Barry 5 out of 10


18 August 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Movie Review

Firstly this should be called Sea of Monster (not plural) as there is only one! Secondly this is kiddy sequel follow up by numbers. Safe, predictable going from A to B to C. The shield that protects their camp is destroyed by poisoning some mystical tree, so they go on a very long quest to get the golden fleece to heal the tree and bring the shield back up (although this won't stop someone from poisoning the tree again, but thats by-the-by). There is some good CGI and passable greek mythology inspired monsters. There were also some really dumb moments when the demi-gods forget they have powers and stand around hugging while the Titans are brought back to life! Also the demi-gods seem to forget the Titans snack on children, yet insist on resurrecting them, derrrrr! Anyways this will be entertaining to the under 10s, but pretty mind numbing for everyone else, DVD job I think.

Ben 5 out of 10
Barry 5 out of 10


11 August 2013

London Eye and Museums

We met up with Mark and Carol in London this weekend. We hit the London Natural History Museum and Science Museum on Sunday and the London Eye and River Cruise on Monday.

4 August 2013

The Heat Movie Review

Bullock plays an ultra nerdy FBI agent and McCarthy plays a passionate yet alternative cop. They get thrust together as Bullock pursues a promotion and McCarthy tries to protect her family from a drug cartel. Personalities clash and hilarity ensues with most of the comedy coming from McCarthy, who is so far removed from what you expect a cop to be. This is basically a funnier version of Miss Congeniality with a side kick thrown in and made us chuckle all the way through.

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 8 out of 10


28 July 2013

Now You See Me Movie Review

A group of misfit magicians get brought together by the mystical 'Eye' and are convinced to pull off gradually bigger and bigger bank robberies for the sake of the magical art. A rich sponsor (Caine) is one of the targets and Freeman portrays an ex-magician, who's trying to figure out how they do it and gets roped into helping the FBI. The tricks are all intriguing and well explained as to how they pull them off. Its not until the final heist that things get slightly unbelievable, going into the realm of silly. Its a shame as you buy into the rest of the magic and this brings you out of the illusion you are watching something believable. It basically boils down to a magical version of who-done-it? On the whole though a very entertaining movie and is something different from the usual summer film fodder.

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 6 out of 10


27 July 2013

The Wolverine 3D Film Review

We were promised a full on graphic R/18 rated Wolverine, they lied! We got a 12A watered down version again, but no matter as this is still a good film! Wolverine is carted off back to Japan to say goodbye to someone who is dying that he saved during World War 2, although he ends up being dragged into a Yakuza feud and a family battle for power. Cue lots of kick ass ninjas, claws and the Silver Samurai. The story plods along a bit until finally it gets to the action and there are some good scraps to be had, leading upto a huge battle at the end. The 3D yet again sucks and sometimes you have to check if you are actually watching a 3D film as it looks decided flat. I'm also really not sure about the 12A rating, as it is slightly on the violent side, with lots of implied stabbing 'n slashing. You even see Wolverine impaled by about 20 spears, but as long as theres no blood that seems to be fine! A good film, but if this had been at least a 15 they might have been able to do even more with the action scenes.

Ben 7 out of 10
Barry 7 out of 10


20 July 2013

Airkix Indoor Skydiving for Jamie's 16th

Keith and Jamie visited for Friday/Saturday and we had the biggest BBQ followed by games and movies. Saturday afternoon we surprised them with indoor skydiving for their birthdays!

18 July 2013

Monsters University 3D Film Review

You already know how this film ends, as its a prequel to Pixar's Monsters Inc., but how they get there is completely unexpected. While there are loads of characters in this film, you don't really get to know many of them, which is unfortunate. There are also nods to characters from the previous films, so you know where they came from. Its the story that disappoints, as after Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 this just doesn't cut it for a Pixar film and feels a little limp. The 3D does absolutely nothing for this film either, there aren't even any cheap tricks to wake you up like Despicable Me 2. Maybe it needs a repeat watch to catch all the in-jokes, but its Pixar by the numbers playing it safe. Kids as always will love it.

Ben 7 out of 10
Barry 6 out of 10


14 July 2013

Pacific Rim Film Review

The film starts out great, simple voice over tells you thats aliens arrive from under the sea and bam we're into fighting monsters straight away! It then plops you out into a slow story bit, which are all basically acted by B class old UK soap actors who you care little for. A plot about a missing brother and a traumatised child don't really do it. You therefore find yourself waiting for the next monster mash, which is a shame as with a little tweaking the bits between monsters could have been so much better. Luckily for the scale of this film the wobble cam is kept to a minimum, but a little to close to the action to see everything clearly sometimes. A great monster mashing popcorn film let down by scene filler.

Ben 7 out of 10
Barry 7 out of 10


9 July 2013

Despicable Me 2 3D Movie Review

Dreamworks trying to take on Pixar again in it's sequel to an enjoyable original film. Unfortunately the follow up is a slower lacklustre affair, relying too heavily on the minions antics. The story is pretty simple too, a serum has been stolen that turns things evil, and its one of 12 people working in a mall (for some reason) and its upto Gru to identify them. As he's now gone good and working for the Anti Villain League (AVL), he also comes with a sidekick. The whole thing just didn't seem to hang together for me, but I'm sure kids will be amused by the silly minions. The 3D doesn't really pop either, only in certain parts, most seem reserved for the credits, which is a huge shame, as this sort of movie is calling out for popping out the screen effects!

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 5 out of 10


6 July 2013

3 July 2013

Night Out at Yumbo

The Yumbo can best be described at the Tricorn of Gran Canaria. A large collection of shops and bars all in a concrete block, however it's nicer than it sounds! We had quite a few drinks and Barry decided to get a henna tattoo.

Later there were some street acrobats performing in front of the bars.

1 July 2013

Spa Day

The hotel has a pretty luxurious on site spa with salt, womb, africa heat, sauna, ice, aroma and dead sea floatation rooms. There is also a hot lagoon with amazon rain shower and hot back wall. Outside you have a private pool and deck with hot and cold plunge pools.

Barry coming out of the womb room!

Just a tiny shower

29 June 2013

Lopesan Costa Meloneras Hotel

We've arrived, but the Internet is soooo slow that we're not going to be able to do many updates! The hotel is very posh and already had a run in over shorts/trousers to dinner, stupid Spanish!

25 June 2013

World War Z Movie Review

What a great start to a zombie flick! No namby pambying around with back story and scientists fiddling around, there just is a zombie infection outbreak! Lets get on with the action! And it doesn't really let up until the few remaining survivors are rounded up on a boat and Mr. Pitt comes out of retirement to go and try and find patient zero. Even after this little break the action ramps right back up again, this is basically a full on, non-stop popcorn zombie flick. That is until Brad does something very, very stupid and annoying with a crowbar, you'll know it when you see it, but literally it is so dumb its unbelievable they left it in! Apart from that ace film.

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 7 out of 10


23 June 2013

Man of Steel Film Review

Forget everything you know about the old Superman movies, this is definitely the new darker 2013 version. New Superman, new suit, new sci-fi styled Krypton, just basically everything new! The story is a bit flaky and not made very clear, but basically Zod wants to terraform Earth and change it into New Krypton, let a huge battle between Man of Steel and the badies start! And what a battle it is, people being thrown miles and through several blocks of buildings, big flying things drilling the planet, a fairly weedy army trying to hold their own. There is also a nice back story, done through flash backs, of how Clark Kent grew up and maintained his secret identity. Not knowing anything about this film, it took a while to take it all in, and we really weren't sure if we enjoyed it or not. It took about a week to analyse everything and piece it all together to realise that we did and want to see it again.

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 9 out of 10


2 June 2013

Go Ape Segway

Today we headed to Swinley Forest near Bracknell to do Go Ape Segway through the forest. The hour experience starts out on a test track, moving onto 3 looping tracks of varying difficulty, then onto the long trip home, which takes the long way round Swinley Forest back to Go Ape HQ. Great fun and highly recommended. No photos this time, but video below...


1 June 2013

Basingstoke Kite Festival

It was such a nice day and on the way back from a quick visit to town we saw signs saying "Kite Festival", so we decided to visit! Had a nice wander round in the sun, saw a giant teddy bear kite and watched the stunt show kites.

25 May 2013

Gang Visit and Marwell Wildlife Zoo

Mark, Carol, Charlotte, Elliot, Gareth and Sarah all visited this weekend for a long overdue gang get together. The weather was beautiful, so we went for a day trip and picnic to Marwell Wildlife Zoo in Winchester. We also finally managed to use our outdoor table with a BBQ in the evening. Sunday saw a bowling contest where the Lewingtons beat the locals.

12 May 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness IMAX 3D Movie Review

JJ Abrams has done it again! Ignore the fact that this is Star Trek for a moment and this is still one of the best sic-fi films I have ever seen! They managed to keep loads of plot points and characters secret, which was a nice surprise. Loads of action, drama, huge set pieces and battles all mixed with a great story, characters and the odd dash of humour at the right points. Simply superb! The IMAX experience really immersed you in those space scenes. The 3D conversion looked good in some small parts, but mostly flat. We enjoyed this so much, that we're actually going to see this for a second time, which we very rarely do. All I can say is roll on Star Wars!!

Ben 10 out of 10
Barry 9 out of 10


11 May 2013

Book of Mormon London Theatre Review

OK lets get the straight, this is a musical from the writers of South Park, so if you are easily offended or don't like the mickey being taken out of religion and Africa, then avoid. For everyone else come in, as its hilariously outrageous and contains too many things you really shouldn't be laughing at! With songs about Uganda, AIDs and mixing religion with Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, plus a General called Butt F**king Naked. You will laugh until your eyes water!

Ben 4.5 out of 5
Barry 4 out of 10


5 May 2013

Iron Man 3 3D Movie Review

Its here, Marvel Phase 2, starting with Iron Man 3! The background story is that terrorist, The Mandarin, is going after the President using a new bio-enhanced human, but all is not quite as it seems. Tony Stark is up to his usual short quips and one liners and tinkering with various Iron Man suits and prototypes, in fact probably a few too many suits! The story and action moves along at a nice pace, until it stalls half way in a sleepy village and they wheel in an annoying kid! Why?! Luckily it doesn't stall for long and the action carries on again. This is basically a great summer popcorn film, go see it now!

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 8 out of 10


14 April 2013

Oblivion Movie Review

A future Earth, ravaged by nuclear war with aliens. The human race has escaped and moved to Titan, one of Jupiter's moons. A few people have stayed behind in the Tetrahedron to help repair crews on the ground guard the water reclamation machines from alien scabs left behind on the planet. Or are they? Hmmmmm! This is a great film, with slowly revealing mysteries leading up to the ultimate twist. It unfortunately drops a few obvious clues too early on, and I figured out what was going on about 30 minutes in. However it still kept me watching and the action/mystery sections are well mixed keeping the film interesting. A great turn from Mr. Cruise.

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 8 out of 10


30 March 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Film Review

Delayed for over a year to avoid Avengers and be converted into 3D this was unfortunately not really worth the wait. Even with more star power in the form of Rock and Willis and some great stunts, particularly the cliff running ninjas, it just falls into a pile of noise, bullets and explosions. A flimsy story, the president has been replaced by a shape shifter, who strangely wants the world to disarm its nuclear weapons so he can destroy it with his own, it just simply didn't keep my interest. Also the 3D looks pretty poor and certain scenes just look like cut outs, some things are also too close the camera and make you go cross eyed.

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 6 out of 10


27 March 2013

360 Views of City Walk and Griffith Observatory

Click in each image, then use your mouse to scroll left to right, up and down.

Croods 3D Movie Review

Killing time before the airport meant we plumped for Croods 3D, the latest movie from Dreamworks, and after the excellent Despicable Me and average Rio, this is them on a downward slope. The story of a family of cavemen who are afraid of everything and the dad (Cage) keeps them sealed in a cave, even when the world is ending. That is until Guy (Reynolds) shows up and shows the Croods how to live life and takes them on a journey of discovery to avoid the end of the planet. Except that the journey isn't all that enjoyable, and bits that should be funny simply aren't. This is DVD fodder at best and wait for Despicable Me 2!

Ben 6 out of 10
Barry 5 out of 10


26 March 2013

Hollywood Walk of Fame

On our final day, we walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame and hop on board Star Tours to the Hollywood Sign, round Beverley Hills and back again.

Hollywood Sign just above Barry's head!

24 March 2013

Olympus Has Fallen Film Review

Basically this is a yea-hah american butt kicking movie, so what better place to see it than in an american cinema! The North Koreans basically storm the white house and take the president to the underground bunker to get nuclear codes. They achieve this through some very glaringly awful decisions on behalf of the air force/navy/secret service/acting president, which you simply have to ignore if you're gonna enjoy this film, just let them gloss over you. It also helps a great deal that every time a terrorist got shot or stabbed the american audience cheered and whooped! This is simply an all out action, guns blazing film and its actually great and very tense in parts, with action and stealth pieces in equal measure. Just ignore those plot points and enjoy when it opens in the UK in April!

Ben 8 out of 10
Barry 8 out of 10


23 March 2013

Santa Monica Take 2

Enjoyed Santa Monica cycling/skating so much in the grey that we decided to repeat, but this time in the sun!

22 March 2013

Universal Hollywood Take 2

Today we headed back to Universal to complete all the rides, including the Backlot Tour...

21 March 2013

Incredible Burt Wonderstone Movie Review

A boy fascinated by magic, works his way up to the top of the Vegas game and lands a 10 year deal doing a daily show. After 10 years of doing the same show and audiences dwindling, along comes a new street performer who dazzles and Wonderstone (Carrel) loses his job. He then has to find his original wonderment with magic and ends up working in a care home, where he meets his childhood idol. A few chuckles along the way, this should have been much funnier, but instead is very average at best.

Ben 5 out of 10
Barry 5 out of 10