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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Permission granted by Dreamworks to use imagery (sent via press release).

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – My Review

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…

Photos from Tomorrowland 2

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. 

Photos from Tomorrowland 1

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!

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?

This post was written as a result of being invited to visit as press whilst I was working at NG Kids Magazine. All images 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!

This post was written as a result of being invited to visit as press whilst I was working at NG Kids Magazine. Permissions given for all images used.

Island of misfit posts

#174: We all have something we’d like to write about, but that doesn’t really “fit” our blog. Write it anyway.

Luckily, as stated in my headline, my blog is a load of hodgepodge… i.e. a jumble, a mixture, basically a blog full of mix and match posts. But this is what I love about it – I can write absolutely anything I want and it still fits 😀 For example…

Yesterday, I took my cousin and her boyfriend to the gala screening of How To Train Your Dragon 2 – and boy was it good!

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I was first to arrive at Leicester Square yesterday, so whilst waiting I decided to have a little wander. On my travels, I enquired about West End Live‘s mini exhibition opening times as I didn’t want to miss it, and then I stumbled upon a row of sleek vehicles. These were from the famous James Bond movies and were neatly lined up to promote a new exhibition, called Bond in Motion, that has recently opened at the London Film Museum.

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Once I’d met up with my guests, we entered the cinema – there were cute little dragon cookies on display (which tasted delicious may I add), refreshing “dragons blood” mocktails (which were a concoction of cranberry juice, orange juice and lemonade, over ice), the chance to feature on a HTTYD2 poster (we’re big kids so couldn’t resist dressing up in the famous vikings headdresses and attempting to slay my cousins boyfriend!), as well as other activities for the kids… face painting, balloon dragon makers etc. When we entered the screening itself, we were treated to further refreshments, popcorn and a copy of Cressida Cowell‘s original novel!

We put on our 3D glasses and in doing so, joined the biggest action packed adventure you could ever think of! Not only that, but this sequel was full of humour and it was visually, the best kids film to hit the big screen this year! The graphics were phenomenal and the hundreds of creatively designed dragons meant that you didn’t have a chance to get bored! So my congratulations go to everyone who was involved in making it – you’re all in for a very rewarding summer!

After this, we went to the West End Live mini exhibition – such a great idea! We were able to get closer to original scripts, set designs and costumes, used in our favourite theatre productions. My favourite (as you can see below), was Mufasa’s costume from The Lion King. The Lion King is my favourite West End show (joint favourite I should say, with Les Misérables) – the staging, the vocals, the costumes – everything is absolutely magical! There was also Elphaba’s famous outfit from Wicked, but the lighting restricted me from getting a decent snap.

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NB: words not written or at all edited by a third party – these are my own views and opinions, no one else’s.

This post was written as a result of being invited to visit as press whilst I was working at NG Kids Magazine. Permissions given for all images used.

From Here To Eternity Review

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On the 3rd July something spectacular is going to take over a cinema near you… so be prepared for a musical like no other! Welcome to From Here To Eternity!

Based on the classic James Jones’ novel of the same name, From Here To Eternity takes you back to the year 1941, where many people believed that the safest place to be, furthest away from the already raging war in Europe, was Hawaii. Following an American military base in the lead up to the attacks on Pearl Harbour, we are not only invited into the lives of the G Company soldiers, but more intimately four individuals, who ultimately fall in love with people they really shouldn’t have!

It kicks of with a malihini, which is the Hawaiian term for an island newcomer, named Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (played by Robert Lonsdale), who we learn is not your average soldier. For me, he stood out the most, not because he is effectively the lead male, but because of his absolutely phenomenal vocals! I am a huge West End theatre geek and I knew, as soon as I heard ‘Fight The Fight‘, that I needed the soundtrack to this musical in my life. I just have to find out where I can get my hands on it now…

Siubhan Harrison, who in my eyes plays the lead female, compliments Roberts vocals beautifully in her portrayal of Lorene, a kind-hearted woman caught in an unescapable situation. Another cast member who I feel also deserves a mention is Ryan Sampson, whose character Private Angelo Maggio, provides the majority of the comedy – it would certainly have been a different musical without him!

The staging was great as well, as you weren’t focused on the set changes one bit, so without realising, you’d seamlessly entered new rooms and scenes! There were also fantastic slow motion scenes throughout, which the incredible cast made look like a piece of cake… although I’m sure it’s far from it!

Even though this isn’t your typical “feel-good” musical filled with daisies and sunshine, it certainly leaves you thinking about what these men had to go through, especially in relation to the recent 70th Anniversary of D-Day. I left this special cast and crew screening wanting to meet and thank the brave soldiers (both survived and passed) for the sacrifices they’d made in order for us to have the world we do today.

Tim Rice’s incredibly timeless musical is set to play in over 250 cinemas across the UK and Ireland. I highly recommend catching this film, especially if possible at a Cineworld as you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase the glossy programme as if you were at the theatre – I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed as it’s packed full of history, exclusive interviews and amazing photography! I must admit, halfway through the show I was so drawn in that I’d completely forgotten I was in a cinema screening, as opposed to a theatre! Don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE West End theatre like there’s no tomorrow, so I’d never want it to be replaced, but it did leave me with this thought – “welcome to the future of affordable musical theatre for all to enjoy”…

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Watch the theatrical trailer here!

NB: words not written or at all edited by a third party – these are my own views and opinions, no one else’s.

This post was written as a result of being invited to visit as press whilst I was working at NG Kids Magazine. Permissions given for all images used.