How To Train Your Dragon is back!

On 7 June, DreamWorks released the first trailer for the third installment of the animated hit fantasy series, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

DR3_Tsr1Sheet_HiddenWorld_RGB_2SMIt’s been nine years since the first How To Train Your Dragon film flew into cinemas across the world. Two films have followed the adventures of young viking, Hiccup, and his unique dragon Toothless, as they protect the Isle of Berk and it’s people from multiple threats and it looks like it will be no different in the third and final film… well, except for Hiccup’s beard.

In 2014, I was lucky enough to be selected to travel to Norway to celebrate the release of HTTYD 2 for National Geographic Kids magazine. It was the most amazing experience, especially having not been to the country before.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the head of character animation, Simon Otto, in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, took part in a spot of dragon racing (thankfully whilst firmly on the ground) and even gave indoor skydiving a go to … all of which were caught on camera and published on the NG Kids YouTube channel!

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is due in cinemas next spring.

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15/31 Curiouser and curiouser…

15. Timeline of your day

This morning, I made myself a killer breakfast of cumberland sausages, fried eggs, Spanish bread, mozzarella and tomatoes, before heading off to a press preview screening of Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass at Leicester Square’s Empire IMAX.

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Now, anyone that knows me, knows just how much I love Disney. I’ve pretty much got 98% of Disney’s films on DVD and will always answer ‘The Little Mermaid’ when asked what my favourite film of all time is. Plus who doesn’t love that magical feeling you get wandering around DisneyWorld in Florida?! I haven’t been for well over ten years but I remember the excitement as if it was yesterday.

However, I just wasn’t a fan of this film and I really, really wanted to like it. In my opinion, even the cool graphics, big names and quirky designs couldn’t save it. There were hints of humour in the film but not as many as I was hoping for and some parts even made a few kids cry. One part I did like though, was when Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Time, told Alice something along the lines of “Everyone parts with everything eventually, my dear.” It made me realise that we shouldn’t hold on to material things and guard them so preciously, as at the end of the day, when you leave this life no-one else is going to care for those items the same way – it’s the memories you make that matter the most.

The thing I like about todays Disney films (aside from the incredible comedy they inject into most of them) is that they always carry a message, that (hopefully) gets through to the young audiences watching them around the world. Yet, with Alice Through The Looking Glass, it took an awful long time to get there. In fact, it was only within the last few scenes that it became apparent that the message was to appreciate the time we have because everything can change in a matter of a heartbeat.

Usually, at the end of every press preview screening, the audience will clap as the credits begin to roll. Unfortunately, this time that just wasn’t the case. Silence speaks volumes!

Sorry Disney, but I think I’ll stick to the 1951 classic of Alice in Wonderland instead.

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2/31 Wait… you didn’t know?!

2. 20 facts about you

I have a feeling that this is going to be a tricky prompt… ten I could have managed but 20 facts just about me?! Well, here goes:

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My Queen… Amen!
  1. I’m addicted to RuPaul’s Drag Race and love pretty much all of the queens that have walked through the ‘You Better Werk’ room doors.
  2. My favourite colour is duck egg blue.
  3. I own more pairs of socks than I care to admit.
  4. I’m a bit of a Netflix addict – entire mornings can disappear if I’m not careful.
  5. I love singing and dancing.
  6. When I’m at home, I’m often found in pyjama’s… I mean what’s the point in wearing your outdoor clothes, indoors?!
  7. I began and completed WordPress’ 365 Days of Writing Prompts challenge in 2014.
  8. People find it odd that I don’t drink tea or coffee…
  9. If money was no object, I’d go to see a West End theatre show every single week.
  10. I have a very close family, which means the world to me, and am even related to Howard Carter, the guy who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb.
  11. My Great Nan reached 104 and a half years young… the half is very important at that age.
  12. I’m obsessed with Mi backpacks. So far, I’ve got a peacock feather one, a gumball one, a galaxy print one, a duck egg blue polka dot backpack and one with elephants all over it.
  13. I’m commonly found wearing Converse hi-tops… wearing heels is for special occasions.
  14. For RuPaul’s BOTS, I temporarily dyed my hair blue. I loved it so much that I’m planning to dye it permanently blue – hopefully two tone, using cobalt and duck egg blue (of course!)
  15. Through my last job, I was sent on press trips to Iceland (Ice Age 4: Continental Drift), Norway (How To Train Your Dragon 2) and Slovenia (Postojna Cave), interviewed a robotic cockatoo (Nigel from Rio 2, with actor Jemaine Clement in another room) and even photographed the stars of TV on the red carpet at the National Television Awards.
  16. I have a BA (Hons) in Human Resource Management.
  17. I love afternoon tea… especially quirky ones such a Spanish or Thai themed.
  18. Working in children’s media means that I get to see many of the new films before they hit the cinemas and I’m a big kid who loves everything Disney, so I end up enjoying every single screening… sometimes even more than the kids that are actually there.
  19. I love unicorns, rainbows and mermaids. I even wanted to be a mermaid growing up… still do!
  20. Primates are my favourite animals (well, and dolphins and marine life of course), but I’ve been lucky enough to meet the famous Primatologist, Dr Jane Goodall three times and even helped her present awards.
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At the most recent Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots Awards with my flatmate, Féaron, where we got to meet Dr Jane’s beloved Mr. H, which travels around the world with her.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – My Review

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A few days before it was released in UK cinemas nationwide, I was invited to Disney’s FDA Multimedia Screening of the hotly anticipated Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, in London’s Leicester Square Empire IMAX!

If you haven’t heard of this film yet, you must have been stuck under a rock somewhere. Not only is it brimming with star quality performances but it’s got amazing special effects, the creative design of the future world is super cool and most importantly, this film carries a couple of very important messages. I’m just not too sure it’s going to be powerful enough to reach everyone…

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When I arrived, I was greeted by a red carpet and hordes of fans packed around the cinemas entrance. Bemused, I double checked my ticket to make sure I’d gotten the correct venue and indeed the correct day… but I hadn’t been mistaken. I knew it couldn’t have been the Tomorrowland European premiere as this had already taken place the previous Sunday, so I decided to wait around… to see who went in, of course! A couple of glammed up women went in first, who unfortunately I didn’t recognise (sorry!) but then I spotted motorbike enthusiast, world explorer and presenter of the Long Way Round programmes, Charley Boorman. My family and I are huge fans and thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the crazy adventures he’s been on with Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, so that was quite cool to see him. 

And then I could hear a cluster of cheers and screams to my left. Randomly (or so I originally thought) it was Baywatch and Knight Rider actor, David Hasselhoff shuffling down the red carpet. It looked like he was really taking the time to stop and talk to as many people as he possibly could, which was nice to see. I thought at first that maybe he might have had a cameo role in some sort of futuristic getup but alas, this was not the case. I have only recently found out that he was actually there for the premiere of his own TV show, Hoff The Record, which airs on Dave later this month. 

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But anywho, back to the film I’m actually reviewing! I went in and nabbed the best possible seat that would provide me with the greatest experience. But before the film began, we were treated to two exclusive new trailers for Marvel’s Ant Man (due to hit UK cinemas 17th July) and the one that everyone’s been raving about, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (due to hit UK cinemas 18th December). Don’t hate me, but I wasn’t that fussed by either of them – that said, I’d still like to see Ant Man just incase the trailers haven’t been doing the film justice.

So without giving away too many spoilers, this film begins with a really detailed flash back to Disney’s 1964 Tomorrowland; a recreation of the original Tomorrowland found in Walt Disney World Florida’s Magic Kingdom, which opened back in 1955. This is where we meet young Frank Walker (played by 12-year-old Thomas Robinson) and his awesome gadget, that he wishes to submit for the New York World Fair. From this point onwards you are treated to an action-packed two-hour special-effect extravaganza, with inspiring designs of what a futuristic world could look like (as you’d expect, with jet packs and the like), and, yet more unfortunately, quite a bit of sciencey tech-like jargon – some of which flew right over my head!

One of the things I loved, and it’s a pretty simple one really, is that they designed Tomorrowland to look like a futuristic, space-aged Cinderella’s castle! Another concept of the film that I liked and was fairly comical, were the robots that were constantly chasing George Clooney (aka older Frank), Britt Robertson (who plays Casey Newton) and Raffey Cassidy (who at the young age of 12, gives a stellar performance as Athena), in an attempt to stop the trio from reaching Tomorrowland… they of course failed!

Hugh Laurie, Brit Robertson, Raffey Cassidy and George Clooney attend the European premiere of Disney's “Tomorrowland: A World Beyond” in Leicester Square on May 17, 2015 in London, UK
Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy and George Clooney at the European premiere.

One of the things I most liked about the film, is the constant underlying messages that are subconsciously emphasised throughout, telling us (mostly) that we need to look after our planet, as it’s not going to last forever the way it’s currently being used. Young Frank Walker says wisely during his (unfortunately unsuccessful) World Fair pitch, something along the lines of “Inspiring people makes the world a better place. I’d feel anything’s possible if I saw people flying with a jet pack over me” and I felt that it was a great way to show kids to be optimistic, believing that they can achieve anything if they put their mind, and heart, into it. But I think the character who was given the most poignant messages to deliver was Hugh Laurie’s character, as towards the end he (in my opinion) spoke some home truths that some people prefer not to accept or even acknowledge. He was explaining how we as a human race create so many fictional books and films that feature the “end of the world theme” but even then, we fail to realise that this is a very possible future for our planet and not just fantasy. As he references in the film we are shown so many warning signs, such as the glaciers and ice caps melting, species becoming extinct, the changes in the climate, drought etc, but we continue to turn a blind eye. We see it as the future is far in the future… as if there’s nothing we can do about it now. There’s everything we can do about it now! A very poignant line that resonated with me is “how is it possible that we have an obesity crisis and starving people around the world at the same time?!” And I quite frankly (pardon the pun) couldn’t agree more! It’s the same with poverty and people without money, yet we have football players receiving an obscene amount of money to play a game?! Consider my mind well and truly boggled.

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I’d say the only downside (which of course I’d need to watch again for verification), is that I think I spotted a continuity error in the film. If you don’t want to know any spoilers before you see it, then stop reading… right now… stop! But, in the famous scene regularly featured in the official Tomorrowland trailers, where Franks house is under attack by the crazy cyborgs we see Frank clamber into the bath tub first to sit on the left and Casey squeeze in after him, now sitting/laying squished in the tub on the right. However, after the bath tub/capsule/newly-formed-rocket-ship is catapulted from the house, it lands in the river. As the roof comes off, we see Frank climb out of the bath from the righthand side and Casey is lying in the left side of the now-boat. They’d somehow managed to switch sides in the space of 30 seconds… and in the small confinement of a one person bath tub!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my review and I’d just like to leave you with this last thought, as I feel that we really need to ask ourselves this every now and again – “What if there is a place; a secret place where nothing is impossible. A miraculous place where you could actually change the world. You’d wanna go?”. Think about it… I mean really think about it. Don’t you feel like this place is now? As we have the ability to change the future of the world. Right here. Right now. So what are you going to choose?

Images: Tomorrowland logo – staytuned.co.in/; Main cast at European premiere in London’s Odeon Leicester Square 17/05/15 – theupcoming.co.uk/; All others – my own.

Update on life

Hey everyone!

It’s been a bit of a busy start to the year for me (hence why I’ve only posted a handful of times so far) and I have truly missed writing something new every single day. So, I thought since March is now in full swing, I’d give you a quick update on my hodgepodge shenanigans of 2015 – enjoy!

As some of you might remember, I announced that this year I was going to start vlogging – I love presenting, producing and video editing for NG Kids and I love blogging… et voila, my vlog is born! However, I had been struggling to decide on what to vlog about as I wanted it to have some sort of structure and purpose as opposed to talking about what I ate for lunch. But now, I think I’ve finally decided on a selection of topics that I’m going to vlog about and they are: – event exclusives and sneak peeks (where possible), review the latest toys and films, as well as some sort of obsessions type post (but I haven’t narrowed this one down just yet, so it could be weekly, monthly or simply sporadic!).

Big Hero 6

So, I got to attend the UK gala screening of Disney’s Big Hero 6 and I was not disappointed! It really is a film for everyone – packed with cool characters, amazing graphics and various types of humour, it was the perfect weekend movie. Also, if you’re like me and wait for the credits to finish so that you don’t miss anything, you’ll be treated to an extra sneak peek ending, which features one of our most beloved, legendary Marvel icons! Plus I instantly recognised that the edgy soundtrack, Immortal, was by Fall Out Boy – one of the bands I listened to in my youth – so this made the film even better. I just can’t wait for it to come out on DVD!

Toy Fair 2015

An then there was The Toy Fair, in London’s Kensington Olympia. It was my second year attending the event and it was just as big, if not bigger, than I remember. Plus, I’m the perfect candidate to check out all of the latest toys and games that are due to hit the shelves, as I kind of am still a kid! I love Disney movies and characters… actually pretty much all animated films, so love seeing all of the branded toys – it’s all so exciting! I thought it would be the best place to start vlogging, so with the help of my best friend Vinnie, I filmed a few bits here and there (most of it was secret, so it turns out it wasn’t the best idea!). But then I faced the problem of not having any video editing software to actually put the blog together! A few months down the line I finally have iMovie, which for the time being will suffice, so I’m hoping that once I transfer the files from my phone, I’ll be able to get cracking and publish it as soon as possible.

4 movies

Four movies in four weeks… that’s a record in my book!

Jupiter Ascending – I saw the preview for this in what is quite possibly THE best cinema screening in all of London (actually in Europe!). You guessed it… it was the London BFI IMAX! But there’s only so much the viewing environment can do for a film, even if the surround sound made you believe you were physically in the story… So, this movie follows Mila Kunis’ character, Jupiter, as she discovers albeit to her initial disbelief (with the help of Caine Wise, played by Channing Tatum, and baddie Balem Abrasax, played by the wonderful Eddie Redmayne) that she has the genetic signature which makes her next inline to the throne, to become the Queen of the Universe. Exactly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great action film and the graphics were pretty cool (especially in 3D), but unfortunately, I was able to spot too many other films within it – Star Wars, Jurassic Park, X-Men, Avengers, Men in Black – which made me feel as if the writers didn’t have any original ideas of their own (sorry!). It’s still worth a watch if you’re having a movie marathon weekend though!

Project Almanac – Everyone likes a bit of time travel right? I saw the preview for this one at London’s Soho Hotel, which is one of my most favourite screening rooms as they are super duper comfy, with their individual little sofas and armchairs! But back to the movie… filmed from the viewpoint of a home video camera, a group of high school teens excited by science discover top secret plans on how to build a time machine. Together, they create the device which allows them to jump back in time… but they forgot to consider the consequences that come from changing the past! I really enjoyed this film as the twists and turns were fairly unpredictable, and it had a killer ending that left me yearning for a sequel.

Cinderella – I saw this film a few weeks back at the divine Ham Yard Hotel in London and was absolutely blown away. I love Disney as it is so was incredibly excited to be among the first screening of people to see it! So, keeping true to the Disney classic, this tale follows Ella on her path to finding true love and finding herself… wowzers, that’s gushy. But everyone knows this story inside and out. However, what’s great about this film is that it’s been given a Maleficent-esque twist, in which the story is told a little differently and a little darker! An all star cast with all the magic of the iconic classic, this is truly a film that is NOT to be missed!

Focus – More than just a title… a requirement! I think Will Smith is a great actor and I’ve enjoyed every film I’ve seen him in. With this one, you very much need to be on your A game when you watch it as it’s quite fast paced and has intricate details that you need to pay attention to. Think Ocean’s Eleven with it’s perfect heists and suave surroundings, but with more humour, more con man antics and a teensy bit of romance threaded throughout. That said I thoroughly enjoyed it and absolutely loved the ending as it was another unexpected one! (FYI: I have a terrible habit of predicting and foreseeing what happens next in films and TV programmes… I annoy myself with it!). I would definitely watch it again.

If you’ve managed to make it this far, thanks ever so much and I hope you enjoyed reading it!

The Theory of Everything – My Review

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So today, after waiting 10 days since premiering in the UK on the 1st January, I (along with a fully booked screening) found out about the legendary Stephen Hawking’s early years through the BAFTA nominated, critically acclaimed wonder that is The Theory of Everything.

I must say, if you haven’t heard of this film yet… where the heck have you been?!?! I saw the first official trailer back in August and it gave me goosebumps. Not only was I drawn to this film because of lead actor, Eddie Redmayne (who played Marius in Les Miserables – one of my all time favourite musicals), but I soon realised that I didn’t really know that much about Professor Hawking aside from him being one of the greatest minds on the planet… and of course his brief (but pure gold) cameo’s on The Big Bang Theory.

If I was asked to sum up this film in one word, it would actually be impossible to do so. It is quite simply phenomenal and one of the greatest films I’ve seen in a very long time (and I’m quite lucky in that I get to attend press screenings on a fairly regular basis). Based on his loving ex-wife’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, this film allows its audience to get a genuine, no holds barred insight into the struggles this inspirational couple have gone through. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but these two are the definition of true fighters!

It was recently revealed that The Theory of Everything has been nominated for TEN BAFTAs, and rightly so! Both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones’ performance in portraying this incredible story is absolutely outstanding, and in my mind, if they don’t bag the BAFTAs they so clearly deserve then the judges obviously haven’t seen the film for themselves!

I was advised by a friend, who’d seen it a few days ago, to be armed with tissues. But, surprisingly even to myself, I have to admit I only found myself glassy eyed and choked up a handful of times. I believe that a tear did not actually fall because with the majority of the sad parts, some light and unexpected humour were short to follow. He proved that even in the darkest of times, he could find something for people to smile about.

When I’d seen the trailer all those months ago, I knew it would be the biggest film of 2015. But having seen (and thoroughly enjoyed) Into the Woods back in December, I thought I may have been too presumptuous. Until today. This film will go down in history as one of the greatest, true life stories ever to be made and I’m so pleased to have seen it.

Be sure to catch it in cinemas as soon as possible… you can’t miss out on watching such an epic on the big screen!

A brand new you, effective tomorrow!

#365: Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new year. Tomorrow you get to become anyone in the world that you wish. Who are you? If you decide to stay “you” share your rationale.

I’d still be me – just a healthier, non-ill version! I look forward to the simple things, like eating normal food once again and more than anything, I’ve just realised I’m really looking forward to deciding what I’ll do with my blog for 2015! So far, I’m thinking one of the following:
– taking up a photography challenge;
– writing about the events and opportunities my career takes me to;
– turning it into a bucket list blog;
– writing regular reviews on my favourite things (films, games, restaurants etc).

It would be great to hear from my fellow bloggers on their thoughts or any other ideas.

Thanks to everyone in the blogging community for welcoming me into this incredible world and showing me such overwhelming support – you’ve made 2014 fabulous!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Simply the best

#298: NASA is building a new Voyager spacecraft that will carry the best of modern human culture. What belongs onboard?

Wait, where is this spacecraft actually going? Or is it just going to orbit a few times and then disappear into the solar system?!

That point aside, onboard would be…
– an iPod loaded with the greatest songs of all time (and of course some earphones and a charger!)
– an iPad with the great movies on it (ditto to the above brackets)
– Galaxy chocolate (no pun intended!)

This is actually pretty tough because I don’t know where it’s going (if anywhere) or who it’s intended for (again, if for anyone). I’ve taken this prompt to symbolise a time capsule type idea, but I always associate those with little kids drawings, currency and photos… Far from the digital age we live in now!

Fright night

#283: Do you like being scared by books, films, and surprises? Describe the sensation of being scared, and why you love it — or don’t.

Not particularly – I’ve never been the kind of person that puts themselves in situations where I know I’ll be scared to within an inch of my life. For example, Thorpe Parks Fright Nights, going to see films such as Ouija (soon to hit cinemas) or Annabelle (currently out in the UK), visiting London Dungeons… it’s never been my kind of thing. However, that said, I love roller coasters and particularly enjoy the thrill you get from rides such as Thorpe Parks Swarm & Saw, where they have a spooky story built in. I must admit, I did also enjoy films such as Saw, Final Destination (although not the airplane one – I have a problem with those as it is!), Alien vs Predator etc, so I do enjoy an element of heart racing excitement/fear. I guess it’s only the psychological thrillers I hate, as there is a possibility that it could actually happen in real life.

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Image: wall.alphacoders.com 

Drawing a blank

#211: When was the last time you walked away from a discussion, only to think of The Perfect Comeback hours later? Recreate the scene for us, and use your winning line.

Last night! Perfect timing WordPress!

As I was waiting to get off the train, after attending a preview screening of Step Up 5 (ace film that makes you want to join them on the dance floor!), a guy asked myself and the girl next to me, our opinion on his dilemma so to speak, that he had been discussing quite loudly on his phone moments before. If I can remember correctly, he said “what would you do if you’d come up with a concept that would fix a big problem and it was pinched and presented by someone else as their own idea? You’d want to kick ass right?”. Trying not to laugh (as he’d clearly had a little drinkie-poos to subdue his anger), I looked at the other girl for inspiration but all she said was “I’d kick major ass”… In a panic as to what to say since my mind had gone blank (*thanks very much brain*), I went with “there’s nothing else you could do but kick ass”… oy vey!!

Once we had got off the train and all gone our separate ways, I thought of some pretty cool responses that I wished I’d thought of right there and then – it’s always the way! My first option was “try to find a flaw in your own concept/plan and expose it”. This way the thief would learn not steal other peoples ideas and it’s a sweet, sneaky form of revenge. But then I came up with option two, which is much better… “in front of the people the thief had pitched your concept to, ask him a question about the design/creation process that only you would know the answer to”. This would also expose him/her and show the people that had been impressed with the concept, that it was in fact your concept and not the work of the thief. Voila!