Food & Adventures

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Defending Batman V Superman: A spoiler free review

By now you've probably seen that Batman V Superman has been absolutely savaged by the critics, well today Me, Mrs Cool and the 3 Cool Kids went to see it for ourselves and we all loved it. Me and my boys (Harry 9 and Jack 5) love all things superhero and we have been waiting for this movie ever since it was announced. In anticipation we all decided to watch Man of Steel recently and even Mrs Cool and Heidi (6) enjoyed it. I'll be the 1st to admit that Man of Steel had its problems (the final battle was too similar to the final battle of Avengers Assemble for my liking) but it is still a 'good' Superman movie. Is Batman V Superman an improvement? in the words of Stone Cold Steve Austin "Oh Hell Yeah!". I don't know what all the critics and reviewers were expecting, maybe the next Citizen Kane or the next Godfather, well you're never going to get that in a superhero movie.

The film starts by introducing Batman, 1st with the obligatory montage depicting the death of Bruce Wayne's parents and then by showing Bruce's view of the final act of the Man of Steel and straight away you know that Batman is pissed off with Superman. I'm not the biggest Ben Affleck fan but he brings a great portrayal of a beaten down, grizzled and bitter Bruce Wayne/Batman. He comes across as a man who has been trying to be a hero for 20 years and is still thought of as a vigilante thug and then here comes Superman who destroys a city in his 1st appearance and most of the world worships him as a psudo-messiah, as you can imagine Batman is pretty damn mad. As always Batman is assisted by his butler Alfred, played by the brilliant Jeremy Irons, this Alfred is Batmans mechanic, engineer, co-pilot, costume designer and therapist and is constantly reminding Bruce he is a good man and a hero not a villain. 

Superman is and probably always will be my favourite superhero, I still remember as a kid watching the original Superman movie and thinking this is the greatest hero ever. While Henry Cavill is no Christopher Reeve he is a worthy successor to Kal-El's cape, my only criticism with him is he doesn't play Clarke Kent as quite the inept dufus that Reeve did. Amy Adams is Lois Lane and although in Man of Steel she was Supermans feisty human counterpoint in this movie she is very much lost as simply a damsel in distress. Here Superman is trying to use his powers for good but when he does something good it results in unanticipated consequences. Saving the world from General Zod and the Kryptonians in Man of Steel resulted in hundreds of lives lost and people injured as well as millions of dollars of damage and some people think he needs to answer for these consequences. One of these people is Lex Luthor.

I don't know if it's because Jesse Eisenberg Played him in The Social Network or if it was the intention of the filmmakers but I thought this version of Lex Luthor comes across as a twisted, psychotic Mark Zuckerberg. The open plan, easy going portrayal of Lexcorp reminds me of what I think it would be like at the Facebook offices and Lex Luthor as the 'Hey, I'm your pal' boss hits the nail on the head. Luthor already has some Kryptonite (for a rare mineral there seems to be alot around in Superman-lore) and he uses his wealth and influence to gain access to the crashed Kryptonian ship from Man of Steel and General Zod's corpse which he plans to make a weapon (or a deterrent as he calls it) against Superman.

While Bruce is investigating what Lex Luthor is up to he meets a sexy Femme Fatale called Diana Prince. She is after Lex for her own reasons and in the process Bruce and Diana discover that Lex has secret files on some MetaHumans. These files give cool intos to The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg who are all scheduled to have their own movies leading up to the Justice League movie. We later find out that Diana Prince is none other that Wonder Woman. Most people knew this already but Mrs Cool, who usually ignores all movie news and trailers, didn't see this coming. Wonder Woman really comes into her own in the third act and we're all looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie.

The final act involves the epic battle between Superman and a mechanical suit clad, Kryptonite powered Batman. Batman uses all his gadgetry to neutralise Superman's powers and proceeds to kick the shit out of Superman. As a Superman fan this was hard for me to take but it was still a rollicking good punch up between The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel. As in life when 2 blokes have just beat each other up they come to have a mutual respect for each other (usually, as in this case, because they both love their mam). At around the same time Lex Luthor releases his weapon, Doomsday! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman unite in a Mini Justice League to battle Doomsday but I won't give away the ending.

Is this movie as good as Superman I or Superman II? No. Don't be ridiculous, that is never going to happen. Is it better than every other Superman movie? Absolutely. Is this movie as good as Batman (1989) or The Dark Knight? No. Don't be ridiculous, that is never going to happen. Is it better that every other Batman movie? Absolutely. By my reckoning that makes Batman V Superman both the third best Superman movie and the third best Batman movie. I would go as far to say that, with a few exceptions, this is the best comic book/superhero movie since 2008's The Dark Knight and there have been a hell of a lot of comic book/superhero movies since then.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is in cinemas now and you can get tickets here

Here is the trailer:

Well thats all for now



Sunday 20 March 2016

Spoiler Warning! A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Me and Mrs Cool recently went to Northern Stage to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. I enjoy a lot of Shakespeare's plays, I remember reading a few in high school and one of them was A Midsummer Nights Dream and it remains one of my favourites 20+ years later (good god has it really been that long!).

I work most nights until 8pm but managed to get an early finish, so after smuggly saying goodbye to my colleagues I hopped on the X6 bus and headed to town. The show didn't start until start until 7.15 so we met in McKenna's Cafe Bar which is on site at the Northern Stage. I was greeted by Mrs Cool who had already got me pint (I was disappointed they didn't have any John Smiths but Wylam Ale was an acceptable alternative). We had a catch up about our day and by the time we had finished our drinks it was time to take our seats ready for the show.

Our seats were pretty good

The play opens with Theseus, Duke of Athens (Sam Redford) and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons (Laura Harding) discussing their wedding plans when they are interrupted. Egeus (Peter Hamilton Dyer) wants his daughter Hermia (Mercy Ojelade) to marry Demetrius (Chris Nayak) but Hermia loves Lysander (Jack Holden). The Duke states that Athenian Law dictates that Hermia must obey her father or she will be executed (a bit extreme I know but the play was written circa 1595). The Duke gives Hermia some time to make her decision. Hermia and Lysander decide they will meet in the forest and run away together.  Hermia confides in her friend Helena (Laura Riseborough) their plans, however Helena loves Demetrius and decides to tell him Hermia and Lysanders plan in the hopes that Demetrius will look more favourably on her. Is it still a love triangle when four people are involved? (a love square maybe?)

Image credit Topher McGrillis

The setting of the play in this production had been transported from ancient Greece to to the 1940's with Theseus and Hippolyta dressed in aristocratic formal wear,  Egeus was dressed as and army officer while Demetrius and Lysander were dressed as wealthy gentlemen. The change in setting did not detract from the story, Mrs Cool mentioned in the interval how Shakespeare can be timeless and that the themes of forbidden and unrequited love are still valid today over 400 years after A Midsummer Nights Dream was 1st performed.

Next we meet a group of amateur actors, The Mechanicals (in this performance played by actual amateur actors from The Peoples Theatre), who are planning a performance of 'The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe'. This is where the comedy really starts as the amateurs are hilarious. Before the show I was wondering if the language of Shakespeare would make me laugh and I can confirm that the Bard's work made me literally LOL. Peter Quince (Jo Kelly) dishes out the scripts and lets all the actors know which part they will play. Bottom (Pete McAndrew) is tasked with playing the titular Pyramus but as Peter assigns each other performer their part Bottom hilariously insist he should also play that part. The players decide to meet in the forest to rehearse so they won't be interrupted. 

Image credit Topher McGrillis

Things now take a surreal turn as we are transported to the forest where Fairies are having a party. Oberon, King of the Fairies (Chu Omambala), comes swaggering down a staircase. Oberon is angry with his Queen, Titania (Ayesha Dharker), as she has an Indian Changling (whatever one of those are) and he wants it as one of his knights. Oberon is furious and decides to make a fool of Titania. He asks one of his sprites, Puck (Lucy Ellinson), to get some magic potion that will make Titania fall in love with the 1st creature she sees when she wakes up. Puck, who is brilliant, flies off around the world, which involved clambering over the audience and even nicking a drink off someone in the front row! 

Image credit Topher McGrillis

Soon after Titania falls asleep in the forest the Mechanicals arrive to begin rehearsals so the mischievous Puck decides the 1st creature Titania will see is going to be Bottom but first he replaces Bottom's head with the head of an Ass. This transformation terrifies the rest of the Mechanicals who leg it. Bottom doesn't care and is full of himself as Titania falls instantly in love with him and her Fairies wait on him hand and foot.

Image credit Topher McGrillis

Happy that his plan has worked Oberon decides to resolve the love square involving Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius by using the love potion to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena but this goes all tits up when Puck gives the potion to Lysander and Demetrius who both fall in love with Helena. The verbal jousting between Demetrius and Lysander both trying to profess their love for Helena as well as Helena believing they are trying to make a fool of them leads to more hilarity, but poor Hermia is distraught that her love no longer loves her. 

Image credit Topher McGrillis

Puck eventually fixes everything and Hermia and Lysander are back together and Demetrius ends up wth Helena and everyone thinks they just had a weird dream and decide they too will get married along with Theseus and Hippolyta. 

Image credit Topher McGrillis

Image credit Topher McGrillis

Oberon lifts the spells from Bottom, who runs back to meet the other Mechanicals, and Titania who he embraces. After the triple wedding is the Mechanicals' performance of 'The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe' and this was the highlight of the whole show. There were roars of laughter as the amateur actors fluff their way through the performance.

This was one of the best plays I have ever seen the stand out performances for me where Puck and Bottom but the entire cast were phenomenal. Me and Mrs Cool have said for years that we would love to go to The Globe Theatre to see one of Shakespeare's plays and I think we need to make this happen soon. This performance confirmed why A Midsummer Nights Dream is one of my favourite Shakespearean plays and one of my favourite quotes comes from this play and if perfectly sums up the story "The course of true love never did run smooth".

The play continues until 26th March at Northern Stage. you can buy tickets here.

Well thats all for now.


Friday 11 March 2016

Project Bond: Everything or Nothing

One of the things that got me thinking about writing a blog was was an idea I had to watch all 24 official (Eon Productions) James Bond Movies from Dr. No to Spectre and give my thoughts, opinions and a review of each film.

It was when I recently bought Spectre that I got the idea. I have all 24 movies on either DVD or Blu-ray and although the next film is a long way off I've realised if I watch one movie every few weeks I should get through them all just in time for the new film to be released and then I can do a review of that one too.

So I'd better get cracking, the biggest challenge I think I'll have in getting through all 24 films is finding time to watch them. With 5 people in our house all wanting to watch their own thing, fitting a film to watch on my own on top of the (many) TV shows I watch is going to be tricky. Especially as on my days off daytime TV is usually chosen by Sam and then after school its usually cartoons until teatime (which I don't mind, there are some really great kids shows on at the minute but I think that may be a subject for a later blog post).

Look out for the 1st post in this project in the next few weeks which, of course, will be all about Dr. No.

Well thats all for now.



Saturday 5 March 2016


Here's me in the form of a Minecraft character

Our kids love Minecraft, they've tried to teach me and Sam how to play but were both useless at it (Sam more so than me). Today we went to NetherMined an unofficial Minecraft event at Northumbria University. Sam had told me a little bit about it before we went, I wasn't expecting it to be busy but when we got there the queue just to get in was huge, I had to take a panoramic picture just to fit it all in.

Sam can't quite believe the size of the queue

Although the queue was big and it was freezing cold we didn't have to wait too long to get in a had a chat about the kids favourite things about Minecraft. The tickets to get in are £15 each which I don't think were over priced however i did think it was a bit stingy to charge and extra £1 to buy and 'Event Guide'. Once we got to the front of the queue and showed our tickets and got our wristbands it was time to meet 'Steve'. If you don't know Steve is the main guy you play as in Minecraft the kids loved meeting him and were excited to get a pic with him.

Inside, the Event was held over 2 floors the 1st floor had a bar called Reds in which you could get a drink or some food whilst there were several guest speakers discussing various subjects. We listened in to the Building Panel which consisted of False Symmetry, Dangthatsalongname and Emtronvenger. The kids listened intently to the panel but it all went over my head if I'm honest. We then had a look around the merch stalls and the kids bought a few Minecraft related sweets.

We then took our seats in the 'Domain' room and waited for the next guest speaker panel to start, this was a Q&A by False Symmerty, Phoenixgg2 and Sir Cutie Yuki a lot of children in the audience were asking questions about being a YouTuber and Harry in particular was interested in this as he has his own YouTube channel and wants to be a YouTuber when he's older.

When the Q&A was over we decided we'd had our fill of Minecraftiness and headed home for lunch. We all had a good time especially the kids. 

Sam has done a Vlog of our day at NetherMined you can see it here:

Well, that's all for now.


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Wednesday 2 March 2016

A new blog from a blogger husband

So, my wife, Samantha, has had a blog for a few years now. She's really good and has become quite successful at it, you can check out her blog here. Over the years I've been tagging along on my wife's blogging assignments, usually having my photo taken, taking photo's of Sam or waiting to start my meal while Sam takes photos of it.

Anyway, I digress, I decided to start my own blog. It's mainly going to be about stuff I watch, whether that be TV or Movies, I usually lean towards Sci-Fi/Comic book stuff but I like everything really from Westerns to Horror and True Life to Fantasy.

I'll also be giving my take on what we've been up to as well as any (mis)adventures I have on my own. I'll try and post as often as I can but I do have a full time job and work 12 hours most day so it'll depend on whether or I have time (which is really code for if I can be bothered).

Well, that's all for now.


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