Ben and Barry's Blog

Friday, July 13, 2007

Evan Almighty Film Review

Another film out in USA way before UK! Evan Almighty certainly wasn't worth the $175 million it took to make, but is was very entertaining and uplifting feel good film. A simple Bible story retold as a modern comedy. Wanda Sykes has some classic lines in her screachy trademark voice, and Steve Carrell carries the film along nicely. As we reminded about a hundred times at Universal Studios a few days before, this film had the largest animal cast ever, with over 100 pairs of real animals used. With predators and prey filmed seperately on green screen and combined in FX. They also really built the ark!! For the one screen times the ark and animals had they could have easily CGIed and saved loads of hassle and probably $100m on the budget!! Anyways still a highly recommended film.

4 out of 5

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Film Review

Certainly the darkest Potter film yet! Aparently the 5th book was a bit rubbish, and the film sort of shows this, as theres not alot going on until the final showdown. It was made more fun by the stupid American audience's screaches and yelps, at one point one woman even yelled out "Crap he's loose!", but this was about 5 minutes after the event!! Doh!!

3.5 out of 5

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ratatouille Film Review

Better than Cars, no where near as good as Finding Nemo & Incredibles! Showed much more imagination than the sedate and quite frankly boring Cars, and made you smile in certain places, but still middle of the road for Disney/Pixar. In fact the trailer for Wal-E, their 2008 summer film showed more promise, and the short about an alien taking his driving test was even more entertaining!

2.5 out of 5

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Universal Studios Hollywood

Today we headed to Universal Studios. Again much smaller than Florida and mainly "shows" instead of rides. However one new ride was "Revenge of the Mummy" which was a superb twisting turning roller coaster through the dark passages of The Mummies tomb. Shrek 4-D was also superb, along with old classics such as Terminator 2 3-D and Back to the Future (which is due to be retired on Sept 3rd!).

One of the shows we saw was particularly amusing, which was "Animal Actors", which showcased some very talented animals. See the video for the funny monkey sketch!

Us by the sign!
Amazing Spider-mmmmmmman!
Barry again (oh no neon Kong sign!)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

LA by Helicopter

OK so I lied, the only way to travel isn't by limo, but by helicopter! Today we get a birds eye view of the many landmarks around LA. Watch the video to spot them all!!

Truck limo (thanks Beryl & Ray!!)

So close we could have spat on it!
(this is with no zoom from helicopter window)


Monday, July 09, 2007

Hollywood Blvd. Again

Today we headed back to Hollywood, to spend a bit more time downtown. However when we get there, the whole area has been sealed off, as apparently slightly earlier the stars from Harry Potter had been putting their hand prints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre for the premier of Harry Potter 5 in a few days time!

It's still wet!!

We wander around the Kodak Theatre again and around the many shops. Look around the hundreds of stars set in the "sidewalk" and the many prints outside Grauman's.

Two themed footprints!
Two un-themed characters!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Barry's 33rd at Disneyland!

Well the plan for LA all along was for Barry to be there on his birthday. And after two lazy days by the pool, what better place to celebrate than at the "happiest place on earth"! The parks here are much smaller than in Florida, so we decided to get a park hopper, so we could do Disneyland and California Adventure all in one go. The parks were quite quiet, so actually got round all the rides we wanted between 9am and 3pm. We managed Soarin' twice, which is a cool gliding simulator over California, plus some LA only rides like Monsters Inc., India Jones Adventure and California Screamin' roller coaster. We wanted to do the Nemo ride, but the queue was over 2hrs for that, as it was new!!

After all the rides, we crossed back over the road to the hotel for a splash in the pool, before heading back for the evening shows. We saw the original Electrical Parade in California Adventure, which brought back memories of when we saw it as a family in the 80's. We then crossed back to Disney to see the "Remember... Dreams Come True" firework display to music, which was superb, and also see Mickey battle his imagination in "Fantasmic!" special effect bonanza!! Needless to say we we're quite knackered after all that!!

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Headin' into Hollywood

Today we had a guided tour in a Limo, with champagne of course! It really is the only way to travel ;-)

Is 10.30am too early for champagne?

We drove around Beverly Hills, past Capitol Records, the church from Sister Act, Julia Roberts balcony from Pretty Woman, down Rodeo Drive where the famous shop. We then stopped for an hour at the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars are held, which is also actually a mall. From the balcony we got a great view of the famous Hollywood sign. Next door is Grauman's Chinese Theatre and outside are a few characters dressed up, like Darth Vader, Marilyn Monroe and Elmo!

After our lunch stop we head up into the hills where the rich and famous live. We drive past the Osbournes, Madonna, Elvis, Playboy Mansion, Bruce Springsteen (where we pinch a notice to film a CBS TV series!), Johnny Depp, Queen Latifa, Aaron Spelling and many others homes. The Spelling household, if you can call 3 people a household, live in the most expensive house in Beverly Hills, which is 125 rooms big, a snip at $40 million!!

Osbourne and Playboy Mansion entrances

We also visit the Greystone Estate, which has been used in many films, including Batman, Spiderman 1 and 3, Ghostbusters and Garfield. After all that we headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool to escape the 91° heat!!


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th July!

Fireworks from over the road at Disney, next to the Tower of Terror ride.


Muscle Beach, Venice

Today we headed on down to Venice, not Italy, but California, and straight to Muscle Beach. Today is Independance Day, 4th July, and they're having a competition. The beach itself is very nice, although overcast today and only 73°. The bit behind the beach is a row of very scruffy shops that urgently need a face lift, as they spoil the area.

However we were here for the competition and so headed on down to the weight pen behind the stage. The competiton started at 1pm and lasted for quite a while going through all the categories. Guess which one we were rooting for ;-)

The man blowing up the hot water bottle in the video is Franco Columbu, who worked out with Arnold Schwarzenegger on muscle beach back in the 60's!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Live Free Die Hard Film Review

Its boiling hot today at 91°, so we have a lazy day by the pool. In the evening we head to Downtown Disney to see Die Hard 4.0. Bruce Willis looks old, but not so old that hes unbelievable. The story however is a bit far fetched about "cyber terrorism". If you can overlook the silly story, then this is typical Die Hard action, but with a splash of modern CGI thrown in to heat up the action. The story keeps going at a nice pace, along with injections of action at the right points. Silly story, but very enjoyable.

3.5 out of 5

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Transformers Film Review

Woohoo, yeah, yeah, woohoo, yeah, *claps*, *claps* and thats just as the credits start! Americans are so loud! Faced with a full screen we settle down to watch the preview of Transformers The Movie.

The film starts with the nerdy american getting a 'new' car (note to film makers, Bumblebee was a Beetle not a Camero as portrayed in this film). Eventually boy meets girl, realises that his car is not just a car, its more than meets the eye! Then the action finally begins.

The CGI and transformation sequences were very well done, however a little too close to the screen making it difficult sometimes to see what was actually taking place.

Overall the film was average but the whole experience was ruined by over the top americans clapping cheering and laughing throughout the film. I am sure that had we seen this preview in the UK (with British reserve!) we would have enjoyed the film alot more.

2.5 out of 5

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Head to Beverly Hills

Look at the sign! We're in Beverly Hills!! Today we head on down through LA into Beverly Hills and Hollywood. We drive down Santa Monica Blvd and Rodeo Drive. We weren't quite sure where we were on the sat nav, until we saw one of the famous brown signs in the photo!

We head on into the Beverly Centre Mall for a spot of shopping and lunch, before heading back to the hotel.

Its 95° today! Bit too hot really, but we lie by the pool for about 5 seconds before having to get in! Floating around in the pool is much nicer and very relaxing.

After a few hours out in the sun, we head to Downtown Disney's Rainforest Cafe for a spot of dinner in the rain forest themed restaurant. We then head to a sneak preview of the new Transformers film!

Dinner with Barry (oh no its a monkey!)
Big waterfall in the restaurant!
Latest Beverly Hills fashion!


Sunday, July 01, 2007

We're Here!!

A well timed holiday and a bit of sun, badly needed by us both! We're at the Radisson Maingate in Anaheim, California, literally over the road from Disney! Just four lanes of traffic between us and Mickey. The sign in the photo is from Disney's California Adventure, which you walk past when going into Downtown Disney shops.

The flight over was excellent, and only 10hrs 20mins. We flew Virgin Premium Economy on a very new plane. We did have champagne before take off, and our food from china plates with real cutlery! The seats were also roomy and surprisingly springy from plane seats!

Sunday we both felt a bit jet lagged, as there's 8hrs difference, so we took it easy and hit the malls. We went to Buena Park, Main Place and The Block at Orange, spent a small fortune, then came back to the hotel to rest!