How To Train Your Adult Not To Cry 2

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The announcement came that there would be a second How To Train Your Dragon, and I believe I was more excited than any child ever was. I turned up at the cinema armed with my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s nine year old sister, and my Toothless plushie.
Yeah, really.
The film went ridiculously quick compared to most films I’ve seen in the cinema (but I’m used to Marvel films, The Hobbitses and the Hunger Games, so that was understandable). But every second of it was beautiful.
Without giving much away for those who haven’t seen it (and why haven’t you seen it yet? You’ve had plenty of time, hop to it!), it was even better than the first one. Toothless gets a hell of a lot more airtime doing all sorts of cute cat-like things, to the point that when I left the cinema, my whole being ached for dragons to be real. I needed Toothless in my life. For real.
In other words, it was good.
There is a whole load of new dragons, and one in particular is almost as cute as Toothless… although we all know that’s impossible.
His name is Cloudjumper. He acts almost like Toothless’ serious older brother, and their relationship is absolutely adorable.

Cloudjumper and Toothless

Cloudjumper and Toothless

But there was one particular scene that I’m always going to choke up on, no matter how many times I rewatch it (and believe me I will). Some stuff happens. Sad stuff. So sad that I was sat in the cinema, surrounded by dry-eyed children, tears streaming down my face. I would have been full on sobbing if it wasn’t for my dignity. I would not break down in front of a room full of children!
And thank God for 3D glasses making me look cool and unemotional when I was an utter wreck inside.

All I can say is good job, Dreamworks. I may need rehab but at least you created another masterpiece. Easily the best film of the year.

A Million Ways to be Impressed With the West

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The plot is as clichéd and old as the hills… but it’s executed brilliantly.

**Spoiler alert.**

Albert Stark is the generic hero left broken-hearted by his unworthy girlfriend – until he meets Anna. Anna pretends to be his girlfriend in order to make his ex jealous. Then of course Stark falls for Anna in the process, only to find out she’s married to the big bad guy – Clinch (aka Liam Neeson, who is as hilariously awkward running with a gun as he was in the Taken films) Big bad guy is defeated, boy gets girl, happy ending.
…But this is a Seth MacFarlane film, and he’s pretty damn good at subverting the expectations. Particularly with amazingly unexpected cameo appearances, it seems. To name a few:
– Ryan Reynolds as a random cowboy with a five second appearance in which he gets shot.
– Ewan McGregor as a Cowboy at the fair.
– Christopher Lloyd – In character as Doc Brown!
– Gilbert Gottfried as Abe Lincoln.
– Jamie Foxx – in character as Django!
…So I was partially bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement when I saw these tip-of-the-hats to some of my favourite movies. And they worked so well!
But MacFarlane also subverts the expectations by taking a cliché, walking us up a familiar path with it, only to throw us off a cliff. For instance, in the usual ‘aha! The big reveal! This is how I cleverly beat you, bad guy!” moment, he’s cut short by the fact Clinch died a while back in his speech, and nobody got to see “how really clever” he’d been.
But most importantly as a comedy, the film was funny. There were a few crude moments – but that’s to be expected. And for once, this comedy’s funny bits weren’t all shown in the trailer. In fact, some of the film’s funnier moments weren’t in it. Stark’s acid trip, the moustache song, and many other hilarities set this film apart from others like it. I couldn’t fault the acting or the casting, and I fully enjoyed it.
Even if your sense of humour isn’t dark or warped, you should be able to appreciate the sarcasm, quick wit and irony in this film. I’d highly recommend going to see this film… Although I’ve probably just ruined a lot of it for you.

Godus V2 Review 2

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asdfghodus

Well the update finally arrived for Godus! And now the game is practically unplayable. Don’t get me wrong, some of the changes they made are definitely for the better.

But a lot got worse too.

The cool noise you heard when you opened a chest? That’s been removed. The annoying noise when you finish collecting Belief? That stayed! And they’ve now added more annoying sounds to accompany it. If you send someone out to build a house, they now shout, “building!” every time, and sometimes randomly for the hell of it.

That plus the game is still, if not even more buggy, so now the sounds get stuck… we get to hear them over and over again! Yay!

But it’s not a completely negative review. Here are the changes I like:

  • Card system revamped and all the better for it.
  • Land is now easier to sculpt.
  • The people are more interesting and do more than just sit in their houses all day, like collect coconuts, or sit around camp fires.
  • Settlements are now prettier and more defined.
  • Less bugs (so far) concerning land expansions.
  • Storms no longer destroy practically every building every night.
  • The God awful AI have been removed entirely and replaced with a different mini game system.

However, here are the changes I don’t like:

  • Card ‘stickers’ get extremely thin on the ground, and you have to rely on the horrible mini game to get most of them.
  • The horrible mini game.
  • The sounds.
  • The fact it now takes about ten minutes to make a small house, and the builders often go home and sleep.
  • People in settlements need to be assigned jobs… but you leave them alone for a while and they end up unemployed for no apparent reason.
  • The fact that halfway through playing the game again, they incorporated new changes such as “you can’t move that land yet.” I’d already moved the land… now I have houses stuck up there.
  • Any houses behind shrines will not be clickable. Trust me. I’ve tried.
  • The inability to move higher up land, to gain any more stickers and to progress any further will make you faceplant your keyboard.
  • The game crashing every. single. time. you try to quit… and sometimes even when you don’t!

I’m seriously hoping the next update will improve the improvements they tried to improve the last game with.

And fast!

 

Godus Review: 7/10

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Godus

Godus

As soon as I saw the beauty and uniqueness of Godus, I wanted it. I just wasn’t paying the full £14.99 for it.

It went on sale at the beginning of January and I snapped it up right away. Godus is a game where you literally play God (if you couldn’t guess from the title). You can mould the land, build houses, farms and… well actually that’s about it.

No I’m kidding, there’s more to it than that. You begin in the Primitive Age, and your first aim is to get a certain amount of population, which when achieved gives you more land to build on, or upgrades for you people. Once you have progressed enough, you’ll move onto the next age.

It is partially a card based system, in that you collect cards, and once you have enough cards you can use your upgrades. You can find some of these resource cards in chests dotted around the vast map (I’m not kidding, the map is HUGE. I still get a bit lost sometimes).

But the primary focal point in this game is the land. It is the source of all your power! Crush homes, build homes, make pretty cliffs or even art…

Pacman Island

Pacman Island

It comes in several beautiful layers of colour, that you can shape to your heart’s desire… providing you have collected enough Belief from your followers, which is essentially your money.

This is a very clicky game. You have to click a lot to make the land go where you want, and even then it will sometimes pick another layer by accident. This can get annoying, but it’s not a major issue.

This is especially annoying with houses. I’ve lost count of how many times I accidentally destroyed a building with land whilst collecting Belief. And yet if you TRY to destroy a building in the same way, it won’t let you.

This game was addictive, and before long I’d racked up 21 hours on it, just in the Primitive Age. Because the game is still in Beta (and according to them only 41% complete), it only currently has two playable ages: Primitive and Bronze. Primitive I enjoyed very much: I got to explore and build and play around to my heart’s content.

The Bronze Age is not so fun. As soon as you reach it, a storm begins. This was terrifying because it was the first real change to happen in the game. The visuals were quite cool though. Until it stopped and you realised half your buildings were damaged.

So I set to work repairing them all, and found out instead of population goals, I now had agricultural goals. Apparently if you have a plot of land near a town, it will become a field for harvesting, and only the houses in settlements are safe from the storms (because we all know that farms are most common in towns, and wind can’t damage houses when they’re together).

So yeah. The storms come back. On a regular basis. Every night, in fact. There really isn’t a point in fixing your houses, and there’s not really a point in the houses at all in the Bronze Age. You just need to farm. This was where I got bored in the game. I knew there was nothing after the Bronze Age yet so there was no point in continuing with it.

There were a few glitches in the game, such as the three land expansion cards I received that didn’t do anything. I could see the unavailable land, and it stayed that way. It was quite frustrating because I’d run out of space and couldn’t do anything about it.

Another was the timers on buildings. They would randomly freeze so I couldn’t use the people in them, or during the AI challenges the clocks would reset when I needed those people most. The bots also glitched out several times. They would try to move land but it would be blocked by my houses. They’d keep trying and not get anywhere, which gave me free time to win the battles.

Another annoying thing were my followers. They need stairs made for them to get to any level higher or lower than they already are. But these stairs need to be perfect to them; many times they looked at my stairs, pointed at them, and then died after walking around doing nothing.

The Pointing

The Pointing

The noises in this game are also quite peculiar. There is a heartbeat sound effect when you near your goal, and it’s quite unnerving, like you’re about to be ambushed. Then there’s the noise if you collect a lot of Belief all at once and then stop. It’s the most disappointed sound ever, and I found myself taking it slowly when collecting Belief to avoid this noise. And the followers make a noise like a choking duck when they die.

And dare I mention the creepy conversation the bots have in the battle challenges! You get the impression someone rather old created these people and tried to talk like a youngster. There are even some on-purpose mistakes thrown in too for realism.

The main storyline is that one guy fancies a girl but gets rejected, and another girl’s cat gets hit by a car, then she gets made redundant and potentially commits suicide… and these are meant to be Godus players. Seems promising!

But all in all this is a really fun and addictive game. Because it’s only in Beta, the glitches and bad stuff are forgiveable, and I can’t wait to see what they do with the other ages and multiplayer. I would seriously recommend it.

Godus

Isn’t It Pretty!

 

Review: Dark Inside

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As an aspiring author of teen fiction, I’ve currently been picking up any books that catch my eye in WHSmith. Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts had a blurb and front cover that drew me in; mostly because it mentioned nothing about supernatural love triangles, which was nice and refreshing.

The story follows the lives of four teenagers as they fight to survive by any means necessary. None of the four know each other, but when a global disaster brings something out of the dark, their paths intertwine. Suddenly husbands turn on wives, children murder parents, and strangers fight to the death.

The darkness reaches out to all the suppressed urges of the brain, whispers to the mind until people give in to them. Usually these urges tend toward the murderous side. Most of them seemed crazed and unreasonable, but a narration simply titled “Nothing” explains how some of them still regain consciousness on occasion.The darkness is punishing humanity for the sins it has committed.

One particularly gruesome point is Clementine’s introduction. Whilst sat with her parents in a town hall meeting, some of the villagers turn their weapons on their neighbours and begin the massacre. Clementine’s mother receives a premonition (which is unexplained as to how or why she knows what she does), and she saves her daughter.

The other three protagonists’ introductions are less horrible, but equally as depressing. Mason’s mother dies in a car crash, and shortly afterwards his school is bombed. The other two protagonists spend the entire book wondering whether their loved ones are alive… but don’t seem all too upset by it.

All four of them manage to find other survivors along the way. Aries meets the mysterious Daniel, and for the majority of the book I was left wondering how he knew so much about the apocalypse. She also finds several of her classmates (none of which had much personality) and I was surprised so many of them survived. Mason meets two people; one of which has diabetes, but insulin is a rare thing because of its expiry date.This was a nice touch, showing that despite the end of the world, some problems in people’s lives still remained.

Michael accidentally led a group of survivors to their sticky end. Michael left them to die in order to save his own neck. People do things they regret when they panic, and this came across well in this scene. Michael then met up with Clementine, who had been alone up until that point, and had a rather horrible experience with a urine-covered shirt.

The beginning set the scene nicely, but the middle of the book dragged a little with the they-found-us-but-we-escaped scenarios. Eventually though, it became apparent that all four of the main characters were heading to the same destination: Vancouver.

Sure enough, fate led them to one another, and in a final stand against the “Crazies” a nicely timed Earthquake occurs after three weeks without one. The infected fall to the ground and everyone escapes to the beach. Two of them stay behind to ‘create a diversion’ and join the rest of the group only a few minutes later covered in blood. This fight isn’t narrated, and I wondered how two teenagers managed to fight a horde of what was described as ‘dozens if not hundreds’ without being hurt or killed.

Once on the beach, the small group of survivors find they are not alone. A bigger group of survivors is nearby, and it is suggested that they’ve made it to safety. Daniel once again disappears, but this time his disappearance makes sense. I guessed the plot twist just before I turned to the final page, but I was glad I hadn’t figured it out sooner.

So overall, I found this book compelling and an interesting story. I would have liked some more differentiation between the four narrators, as the two girls felt similar to one another, and Michael sort of faded away towards the end. The ending felt rushed, and it was never properly explained as to why particular humans weren’t plagued by the darkness. However, these answers may be in the somewhat unnecessary sequel.

However, the concept was interesting, it was well-written, and it made me contemplate how unimportant most things in everyday life are. If a book can make me seriously consider a point of view, it is well worth reading it. I hope to see more from this author soon.

Doctor… Who? Spoilers, Sweetie.

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It was that time of year again. Late Christmas evening, the family sit down and wait for the familiar sound of a TARDIS materialising on the TV. We’ve had Sycorax, flying Titanic replicas, flying sharks, living snowmen… this year we have… all the monsters from Matt Smith’s era!

Sound familiar? *cough* Pandorica *cough*

Except the millions of aliens flying overhead didn’t seem to be the real enemy here. Time itself did. Matt Smith aged considerably over the episode as he protected one small town called Christmas (though why the TARDIS couldn’t have gone back in time and retrieved him earlier, I don’t know).

So when Doctor Who returns with Series eight, will these monsters even scare us anymore? The weeping angels (one of two Doctor Who aliens that I actually find scary) made a small appearance to grab Clara’s ankle, and then they left for the rest of the episode with no explanation.

The Silence and Cybermen’s roles were also unimportant – the only real threat were (as always) the Daleks. After all, the Time War only had the two races – why were the other aliens even relevant? As soon as the Daleks were defeated, everything else vanished. They were there to make up the numbers and play a part in the ‘This is Your Life’ episode of Matt Smith. They had so much more potential.

Clara spoke to the crack in the wall we thought was finished with in series five, which conveniently returned for the Time Lords to talk through. She gave them a good talking to, so that they could send the Doctor some magic regeneration dust… just as the Daleks decided to attack (after hundreds of years of patiently waiting for the Doctor to just die of old age).

Matt Smith blasted the Dalek ships out of the sky with his regeneration energy. It looked like he was about to get his new face.

After the explosions, Clara returned apprehensively to the TARDIS, and we all held our breath for the first appearance of…

Matt Smith. Back to his young, cosmetic-less self. We were confused, but then surely it was just Capaldi using the hologram machine from the beginning of the episode?

But no. He hadn’t regenerated yet. It was “taking longer than usual.” There was a little more reminiscing about previous Matt Smith episodes, and then he discarded his bow tie. Thanks for the extra kick in the feels, Moffat!

But as sad as the scene was, it was ruined by the abrupt (and I mean VERY abrupt) regeneration. One minute Matt was stood there, the next it was Capaldi.

His first line was something like, “I have new kidneys!” This reminded me all too much of Tennant’s “new teeth… that’s weird,” and Smith’s “Legs! I’ve still got legs!” Was the recycling of old lines intentional or has Moffat just run out of new material?

So overall I think it’s clear I was extremely disappointed with The Time Of The Doctor. Nothing truly interesting happened; it was a way of explaining why the Doctor has more than thirteen regenerations, and to say goodbye to Matt. A few of Matt’s lines and mannerisms made me chuckle as usual, but nothing spectacular. If anything, the only good part I remember is Matt Smith being naked. But that’s just personal preference.

The Hunger Games: Rampaging Rafikis

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SPOILER ALERTS! (Though you should have read the books already… so it’s your own fault).

So after a slight mishap of reading the wrong cinema times that had nothing to do with me (honest!), we finally sat down to watch Catching Fire. It begins with a montage of forest images, and then goes straight to Katniss in the woods with Gale. I found this scene a bit of a drab beginning… it seemed pointless, and going straight into the action would have been much better.

In fact the entire beginning was quite boring, so much so that I can’t remember much of it. Until they shot the man in District 11. Then things started to get interesting.mockingjay-pin-300x298

The film captured the adrenaline and fear and fire of the uprising perfectly. They did it quite subtly; the scribbled messages and symbols, the secret videos of fighting and massacres… it really gave a feel of a suppressed nation. And the Peacekeepers had a feeling of ruthlessness about them; killing anyone who happened to show the slightest sign of rebellion. We felt along with Katniss the guilt and sorrow she must feel.

The sexual involvement with Gale was overdramatised. I don’t remember her kissing him as much in the book as she did in the film… but the way she kissed both of them didn’t make her look good. She was like every other generic 21st Century heroine – caught in a love triangle (or pentagon in some cases *cough True Blood cough.*

After Gale is publicly whipped and his back is mended by Prim, a television appearance from Snow announces the Quarter Quell; the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games. This year,  the previous 24 victors will return to the arena. Katniss, her mother, Haymitch and Peeta’s expressions were perfect in this scene. They all reacted exactly how they should, and it brought tears to the eyes. Again, at the Reaping, it is painfully sad to watch (despite the humour of Effy Trinket pulling one piece of paper out of an otherwise empty jar).

Effy herself was a lot more likeable in this film. Her dresses are wackier (and there’s more in her wardrobe than Katniss’), but she’s also a bit less ditsy. Haymitch is his usual drunken self, as the books dictate he should be. Some of his quips about alcohol, and drug induced victors are great, and they light the darkness of the story. For instance, in the moment when Peter announces, “we’re expecting a baby,” Haymitch raises his hip flask to him in the audience.

Unfortunately, as I was watching, I remembered the events that were about to happen from the book. I haven’t read it in well over a year, and Cinna’s death came back to me just before the unveiling of the dress. The reveal of the mockingjay dress was beautiful, and his composure, his knowledge of his own self-condemnation was heart-breaking.

However, when it came to the actual scene, it was a bit of a let-down. When his face hit the glass, I was expecting a really gory scene; enough blood and screams to REALLY upset Katniss, but he just sort of lay there whilst they kicked him and then dragged him off with a little bit of blood round his mouth. I don’t think they did that scene justice.

But one thing they did get right was the arena. It was almost exactly as I pictured it; with the obscure clock face and the different, deadly things in each section. The mist was horrible – they blistered to the touch. The monkeys were genuinely terrifying; so much so that half the cinema jumped when one screeched. I never thought I was scared of monkeys. Suddenly I never want to be near one.

Anyway, away from the monkeys.

The casting was spot on. “Nuts” and “Volts” (or Beetee and Wiress) were awesome, but Johanna Mason was by far the best. It was good to have someone who wasn’t compliant to the rules of the Capital, but genuinely angry and a bit of a loose cannon. Jena Malone portrayed her well, and I found myself liking her more in the film than I did in the book.

Finnick’s relationship with Mags is also lovely. Just the image of this young (and rather good looking) man carrying a tiny old woman on his back was so sweet, and it made it all the more depressing  when she disappeared into the mist to save Peeta. You could tell she meant an awful lot to Finnick.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic after the big lightning drama and everything falling apart around Katniss. It was an eerily beautiful scene, and I think it would have been better to leave it there… especially when they’re making Mockingjay into a two parter (like every other move franchise is currently doing). But Jennifer Lawrence’s facial expressions say a lot about Katniss’ emotions at the very end of the film.

So overall, I’d give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a 7/10. It was good, a bit boring to start with but as the action kicked in, it was gripping. They missed next to nothing from the book which is a rare circumstance in film these days (though it may have had something to do with Suzanne Collins being on the production team). I’d definitely recommend going to see it… and reading the books if you haven’t already!!