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 A flimsy story, the president has been replaced by a shape shifter, who strangely wants the world to disarm its nuclear weapons so he can destroy it with his own, it just simply didn't keep my interest.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.
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!
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!
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.
Headed up to the Griffith Observatory today, which overlooks downtown LA and the Hollywood sign. It was a beautiful day and could see for miles. We also did two shows in the planetarium, "Water is Life" and "Centred in the Universe", both narrated live by Beverley who had the most hypnotic voice that almost sent us to sleep, but not in a bad way, because it was anything but boring, full of facts, purely her voice!
Today we pre-booked the Warner VIP Studio Tour in Burbank round a live working movie studio. Unfortunately while its live, we didn't see anyone famous, only a few crew sleeping in trucks! We did however see numerous backlots, sound stages, The Mentalist set, Friends cafe, car museum and Warner museum. Fairly interesting, but a slight rip off of our $49.
A much later start today, as Universal is literally 5 mins walk across the road and didn't open until 10am. We ran down the ridiculous number of steps to the backlot and straight onto Transformers The Ride 3D, which was absolutely A-MAZ-ING! It was so good, we did it twice right away! We then trotted onto The Mummy backwards roller coaster in the dark and bought our pack-a-macs for Jurassic Park water ride. Slowing the pace we then saw Shrek 4D and the live Waterworld stunt show. We're going to go again, as the $80 ticket it valid all year!
Again we woke at the crack of dawn today, so decided to goto Disneyland in Anaheim, which is about 1 hour drive from Universal City. Disney opened at 9am, and we arrived just after, which was just as well, as it was heaving because a cheering competition was in town (bad timing). Theres actually two parks there, Disneyland and California Adventure, so we bought a hopper ticket to do both in one day. We headed straight for Soarin', one of our favourite rides, then headed into the newly extended Cars Land, based on the Pixar film, and drove round radiator springs on the fantastic new Cars ride. Great day, but shame about the crowds, plus we got tired quickly!
How do you turn Jack and the Beanstalk into a million dollar earning movie, ask Brian Singer because he just did it! Jack the Giant killer is basically the same story, but with some huge set pieces, a love story and some huge CGI giants. The story keeps moving at a nice pace, with some stealthy bits invading the giants castle, and some actions bits when the giants attack. IMAX and 3D rocked, with booming sound, great 3D and literal giants on the 8 storey high screen!
We woke up at the crack of dawn today, so decided to head to the beach. which was a shame as the sun never burnt through the morning haze while we were there. Anyway, we hired rollerblades and a bike and skated/cycled from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Muscle Beach and back again! Was only 2.5 miles and took us 1.5 hours, with a coffee break in the middle.
Borrowing heavily from Wicked musical storyline, where the goodies aren't who you think they are, this movie tells the story of Oz's rise to power in the Emerald Kingdom. Starting out in black and white, but strangely not 2D like the original, it tells the story of a crooked con-man Oz who gets taken by a twister to the colourful 3D land of Oz. It then tells the story of his journey to meet Glinda and save Oz from the wicked witches. The beginning unfortunately seems to drag, and the journey also takes forever, meeting a talking monkey for comedy relief and an annoying china doll on the way. The final battle is clever, an Oz continues to con the people, as he has no real wizard powers at all.
We're staying in the Hilton Universal City, literally next door to Universal Studios Hollywood. Its the first time anywhere in USA where we have been able to walk, yes WALK, anywhere! We literally have to just go round the edge of the Hilton and cross the bridge (seen above) and then you are at the entrance to Universal Studios and City Walk. The rest of Saturday we spend shopping as usual, finishing off with a movie in City Walk and dinner in the Hard Rock Cafe.
Waiting in the Virgin Upper Class lounge for our flight. Everything is FREE!! We both start with champagne, then Barry has a choc muffin and more champagne, I have full on latte and breakfast roll! Our flight is delayed 1.5hrs, but it doesn't matter as we can go for a massage now.
Today we took Mum, for her Christmas present, to see The Audience (with the Queen) starring Helen Mirren. The show is minimal in stage set, literally a couple of backdrops and 2 chairs, but takes you through 60 years of Prime Minister meetings with the Queen, held every Tuesday at 6.30pm. Starting with Winston Churchill, right up to present day, but skipping Tony Blair (which I guess was catered for in The Queen movie). It was quite different from anything we usually see, but very interesting, and Mirren was amazing!