Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N

Last night I had the privilege of going to a press night at the new immersive experience from Marvel called the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Located just outside London’s Excel in a purpose built arena the experience is the ideal experience for any Marvel fan.

You are treated as new recruits of SHIELD as soon as you get there with the staff ushering you through the different rooms (although you can absolutely go at your own pace if you want to nerd out a bit longer than everyone else – like we did!). Agent Hill welcomes you to the training programme in the first room before the walls open up and you are taken through into the first of 4 exciting rooms, Tony Stark’s Workshop.

Greeted by a life-size Iron Man costume and closely followed by the Hulkbuster suit, Tony Stark’s Workshop sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the tour.

Moving through the experience you get to see Hulks fists, Captain America’s bike and shield, Thor’s hammer, Hawkeyes bow and arrow, War Machines suit and the remains of Ultron as well as much more. All wrapped up with a full size arc-reactor at the end. Costumes, activities and displays from all of the characters can also be found all the way through.

The final stage of the training is an I-phone powered game where you get placed in different teams to destroy Ultron (I was in Team Hawkeye, which I was very happy about!).

It’s a fantastic experience for any marvel fan and perfect for the whole family. With similarities to last years Star Wars Identities experience at the O2, there’s enough activities throughout to keep children entertained.

I had a couple of disappointments as a huge Marvel fan in that they missed out a few of the pivotal characters, Spider-Man and Dr Strange being the main ones. There’s also no mention of the Guardians of the Galaxy which was a shame.

From a personal perspective I was happy with how ‘Age of Ultron’ heavy the experience was as that’s my favourite film, however some people might find it strange that there’s not a huge mention of Infinity War or some of the other characters.

It’s a great experience and it’s a lot of fun, I had a great time trying to lift Mjolnir (turns out I’m not worthy) and sitting on Cap’s bike. Make sure you look out for the ants leading you to Ant-Mans suit.

The shop was ok, there’s a good green screen photo opportunity just as you enter it, but the whole shop could have done with a bit more variety – this is probably due to it not being officially open yet.

Overall I really enjoyed it and I think families will go crazy for it.

Stan would have loved it.

Excelsior.

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Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N

Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy is a one act comedy play which tells the story of a corner shop set in Yorkshire, showcased at Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Walthamstow as part of the Undisposables ‘New Voices’ season.
Throughout the piece we are introduced to the staff members and some of their regular customers through the cleverly written script by one of the shows leading actress’, Hannah Whyman. 

The piece features a clever and innovative script using wit to aid the comedy and keep the whole performance at a watchable pace. I’m not usually a fan of sit-com style comedy but for me this was just the right amount of crude, slapstick and nonsensical to make it enjoyable for the whole audience. 

The performances were fantastic, the timing throughout was perfect and given that it was performed in an intimate setting the cast didn’t overact and the expressions on their faces and the comedic skills they were using were on point. With a cast of only 5 people and much more characters than that, they did a fantastic job of quick changes and sudden accent changes that it didn’t effect the piece at all.

I was very impressed with this production, particularly with the writing – I thought the script was perfect. 

Amazing job done by all, they should all be very proud. Looking forward to seeing what else The Undisposables have got up their talented sleeves.

Directed by: Caspian Cunningham
Written by: Hannah Whyman
Starring: Hannah Whyman, Francene Turner, Caspian Cunningham, Jamie Terry and Richard David Law. 

 

 

 

Retail Therapy

Wildlife

London Film Festival 2018

Wildlife tells the story of a family of three who have recently moved to a remote town in a bush fire-prone area of Montana. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) looses his job at a local golf club and after his supporting wife trying to help him find a replacement job he leaves his family to work for the volunteer firemen to help protect their town from the ever growing bush fires. Jerry’s wife Jeanette (Carrie Mulligan) is left at home to raise their son and find a job to provide for them both. The news of her husbands departure sends her on a downward spiral of affairs, alcohol and deceit. Whilst all of this is happening around him Joe (Ed Oxenbould) is left to fend for himself, find a job, and is forced to grow up before his time.

This story of family, lies, affairs, depression and heartache is stunningly told through Paul Dano’s creative direction. There is a dominant sense of intrusion into the family home throughout the entire piece, with the use of still camera shots which allow the actors to move on and off the screen without looking like it’s a mistake. Dano also set up a shots so that we didn’t see the conversation happening but the reaction from the character concerned. Joe plays a big role in providing a constant emotion throughout as we see the majority of the action from his perspective, as a 14 year old kid he feels it’s his duty to sit back and watch his family fall apart in front of him but as time passes he then feels the instinct to become the parental figure in this car crash situation.

Dano is one of the most intelligent filmmakers in Hollywood at the moment, as seen in this film, his use of symbolism may not be subtle (as seen with the wildfire representing the family being naturally destroyed) but they are powerful and they leave the audience completely glued to the screen.

The performances throughout were perfect. Carrie Mulligan tells the story of a woman fighting against the expectations of a 1950’s housewife and dealing with a pre-midlife crisis so elegantly that she makes it look effortless. There are parts throughout the film where you empathise with what she’s dealing with but that soon turns into hatred for her as she continues with a sordid affair. Gyllenhaal’s character can, at times, come across as pathetic but once you remind yourself of the pride of men in the 1950’s your forced to sympathise with him, his love for his son is evident throughout and the delivered performance is utterly compelling. Pretty much perfect in all the films he’s performed in, Gyllenhaal proves his incomparable acting ability yet again.

The stand out performance for me came from Oxenbould, he carried the entire production on his shoulders and did so with complete grace and prowess. He controlled Joe’s emotions perfectly without ever showing him giving in to the world that is currently crashing down around him. Flawless.

I loved this film, everything about it was effortlessly perfect. The styling was stunning, we usually see 50’s suburban America in a bright colourful light but throughout Wildlife we are shown it to be normal, not always happy and really quite drab in times. The script was calm and quiet without overpowering dialogue which allowed the cast to perform. I will be gutted if it doesn’t receive award recognition for performance and direction.

I highly recommend Wildlife to everyone, it’s an example of how great minds can make great films.

 

Wildlife

A Star is Born

***Contains minor spoilers***

A remake of the 1976 Barbra Streisand remake of the 1954 Judy Garland original, A Star is Born tells the story of a want-to-be singer rising to fame with the help of a famous country singer. Ally (Lady Gaga), a grafter who writes songs, is performing at a drag bar when Jackson (Bradley Cooper) stumbles into the bar in search of alcohol and to his surprise comes across Ally’s performance of La Vi en Rose.
Jackson takes Ally out for a drink, in a drug store’s car park, and she performs one of her songs for him. He instantly falls in love with her voice and takes it upon himself to aid her in making her a star. Thus…a star is born.

I had really high hopes for this film due to the hype that has been thrown around it, I also love country music so I thought it would be right up my street. Unfortunately it just didn’t tick all the boxes for me. I found the characters quite difficult to connect with and the storyline was too predictable.

I thought it was very well cast, Lady Gaga was brilliant in the role of Ally, however, I really didn’t like her character. At the start of the film she was head strong, tough and stood up to people who treated her badly. We see her battle with her awful manager, we see her deal with the every day stresses of living at home with her father and all his work colleagues and, for some unknown reason, we see her breakup with a boyfriend on the phone right at the start. On top of all of that we see her punch a policeman in the face so there’s no doubting she is a strong, independent female. So why when she suddenly has a burst of fame do we see her giving in to all the demands of her awful producer and getting pushed around by her drunk husband. I don’t buy that she would have changed her personality that much just because she was in love with him. That isn’t the Ally we are introduced to right at the beginning of the story.
So, although Lady Gaga was absolutely fantastic in the role (and we can’t deny she has a flawless voice) I just didn’t buy into her character. I thought she was weak willed and at times pathetic.

Bradley Cooper, as well as bringing this film to the screen in his director debut, leads this film incredibly. He was by far my favourite thing about it, although playing a stereotypically awful character, he absolutely smashed it. He performed with grace and prowess whilst making me physically cover my eyes at times because he was just so uncomfortable to watch…in a good way. Jack is a vulgar, ugly, nasty human being who’s one true love in life is his addiction to alcohol, drugs and music. We see so many sides of him throughout the film, he disregards his brother from his life, he abuses his wife and more so abuses himself. His health is declining as is his career and he blames everyone around him for this, including Ally.
Similar as with Ally, I didn’t like the character but in a different way, I believe you are supposed to empathise with Ally but I didn’t whereas Jack is just awful, he knows it, the writers know it and the audience agrees with it. He’s perfectly written.

Bradley Cooper did a stunning job at directing this film, I particularly loved the set up of the festival/concert scenes, it felt really personal and invasive with the characters on stage with the use of the backstage shots and close ups. And the live recordings of the songs worked perfectly.

My favourite part, by a long way, was the scene where he persuades Ally to join him onstage and they sing Shallows together. I love Lady Gaga’s delivery of the song, her charming querks make her really easy to watch and you truly believed that she was utterly terrified despite being seemingly confident. The chemistry between Ally and Jack is clear from the get go and this scene really was the peak for me. It all went downhill from there.

Full of clichés and a constant attempt to make the audience cry, this film just didn’t do it for me. With a huge Oscar buzz around it I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it gets nominated for Best Lead Actor and Actress as well as Direction and Original Song. I’m still not entirely sure where I stand on re-makes getting Academy Awards so I’d be disappointed if it wins Best Picture. I don’t think it deserves it.

Well done to Bradley Cooper for a good first attempt.

I’d recommend it to most, A Star is Born – now showing at pretty much every cinema in the country.

 

A Star is Born

A Simple Favour

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) has a perfectly comfortable life, she has a wonderful son, a beautiful house and a popular only Moms Vlog where she shows the world how to bake healthy snacks and fun arts and crafts for children to enjoy. On an average day whilst collecting her son from school Stephanie meets another Mum in the playground, Emily (Blake Lively). Their friendship flourishes when Stephanie is asked to collect Nicky, Emily’s son, from school one day. 4 days later Emily is no where to be seen. Her husband has no idea, her boss has no idea, no one has seen Emily. In what started out as a comfortable drama comedy the story takes twists and turns to keep the audience constantly guessing and turns into a gripping thriller.

As a whole I absolutely loved this film, I felt completely captivated by the entire production. The settings were incredible and the characters were fascinating. It takes some really dark turns and delves into plot points that I really would never have expected.

Constantly keeping you guessing and unsure who to trust and who you’re ever supposed to like, Pail Feig (Geeks & Freaks, The Heat, Sky) does a fantastic job with bringing this completely original story to life.

The cast were fantastic, such interesting choices for the two leads but so compelling to watch. Anna Kendrick was a complete stand out for me, she played the slightly crazed, overly perfect, deceitful best friend so perfectly. I was completely addicted to her throughout. Blake Lively was also fantastic.

The two kid actors playing their sons were brilliant, the young actor playing Nicky was perfectly on point. Brilliantly done.

A completely addictive script written by Jessica Sharzer adapted for screen from the original novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. The dialogue was perfectly executed and not over-used as can be a danger zone when creating dramas. It was full of witty lines which allowed the audience to enjoy this film, with all its dark themes, as a comedy.

I really loved it, absolutely brilliant and a strong female cast. I highly recommend.

You can see it in cinemas nation wide now.

A Simple Favour

Knights of the Rose

Knights of the Rose tells a story of royalty, betrayal, love and hate set during the Shakespearean age. Entwined with an impressive soundtrack of hits from the likes of Bon Jovi, Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler and many more.

Prince Gawain is the head of the army and it is therefor his job to fight for crown and country and protect the pride and honour of his father and family.

The story opens at the end of a Great War with Prince Gawain and his battalion are returning home to their wives, girlfriends and families.

Princess Helen, Gawains young sister, awaits the arrival of her true love, Hugo, to be greeted by him vowing never to fight again if she takes his hand in marriage.

After an attack on the King by a rival settlement, Avalon, Hugo is called forward by fellow soldier Palamon.

Palamon also bids for the Princess’s heart and therefor persuades Hugo to fight in hope that he will fall and Princess Helen will be his and he shall one day be King.

Full of twists and turns and love and hate, Knights of the Rose is the perfect combination of heart and humour.

Although containing a bit of cheesy dancing and a lot of unnecessary ‘clicking’ this new musical had its crowd well and truly entertained.

The cast were faultless, some incredible voices; Adam Pearce’s bass tone never fails to impress (having previously seen him in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard …safe to say I’m a big fan!).

All cleverly carried by the stories narrator and brilliant performer, Ruben van Keer.

Side note: I also really loved the horses! Fantastic use of lighting and props all the way through.

I highly recommend this new musical full of heart and familiar songs.

Well done to the entire company!

Knights of the Rose

Eugenius!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An easy 5 Star!

Soon to make it’s return to London’s The Other Palace theatre, after a sell-out run earlier this year, is Eugenius! The Musical. A vibrant, upbeat musical about a boy named Eugene who dreams of writing comic books and telling stories about his beloved Tough Man. After getting scouted in a high school competition, Eugene is flown to Hollywood to turn Tough Man’s origin story into a blockbuster movie.
Eugene gets swept up in the excitement of Hollywood and ends up getting pushed around by his not-so friendly producer, Lex.
In a bid to help Eugene, his best friends Janey and Feris fly to Hollywood to be “tough, but fair” and save him from making a huge mistake.

Whilst all of this is happening, a parallel story of Tough Man’s evil twin brother, Evil Lord Hector, is taking place. He has flown to Earth from his home planet of Itsaballoon to track down Tough Man and kill him!

The two stories cross paths in this hilariously uplifting musical, full of courage, friendship and above all genius!

Chris Wilkins and Ben Adams bring this show to life with it’s bonkers characters, witty dialogue and fantastic songs. Full of brilliant catch phrases, 80’s sci-fi references and a theme song you’ll be singing forever. I for one am very excited for this brilliant show to be making a well deserved comeback. With a few returning faces to the cast (the likes of Dan Buckley, Laura Baldwin and Scott Paige) and a whole array of new talents (Rob Houchen, Neil McDermott and Alex Bourne among others).

This show reminds everyone in the audience that no matter how hard something may seem, if you are willing to work for it and give it your all, you have the ability to achieve it. As Eugene and his friends remind us throughout the show; don’t shoot for the stars…shoot higher!

Eugenius! The Musical will return to The Other Palace on September 1st 2018.

Eugenius!