Paddington 2 – Movie Review

Paddington 2 – Movie Review

I saw the first Paddington movie and I really enjoyed it. With Paddington 2 I actually enjoyed it even more than the first movie. Normally sequels can be a bit of a letdown, often the 2nd film is just to capitalise on the first movie. This time round, I think Paddington 2 bucks the trend and is a wonderfully written and presented movie.

From deepest darkest Peru, Paddington was left in Paddington station with a tag. “Look after this bear”. The Brown family, took Paddington into their lives in a quiet sleepy street at Windsor Gardens.

Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins return in Paddington 2 and they are joined by a struggling actor who is on hard times, namely Hugh Grant. (I’m not slagging him, you need to see the movie to understand the Hugh Grant statement).

The story of Paddington 2 revolves around a pop-up book which Paddington wants to buy for Aunt Lucy. However the pop-up book is over £1,000 and Paddington needs to get a job to buy the book. So, Paddingtons first job is a disaster at a barbershop, shaving a line of hair from Tom Conti who plays an angry judge

Hugh Grant now arrives on the scene as the villain. He plays a self-absorbed West End acting “legend” called Phoenix Buchanan. Basically Hugh Grant was asked to overact and then overact again to become an egotistical method actor.

Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) finds out about the antique pop-up book after Paddington tells him about it. Apparently the book is key to a long-lost treasure stash. Paddington is then framed for the robbery of the book and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Paddington makes a few unlikely friends in prison. His sweet ways means that he doesn’t understand why a mean chef can’t be his friend. Paddington confronts the terrifying chef Knuckles (played by Brendan Gleeson) and eventually they become befriended through the means of a errant marmalade sandwich. There is a lot of fun to be had with he convict Paddington and eventually he wants to get the book and prove his innocence.

From here on, I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the plot as there is a lot of laughs and also some sad scenes for Paddington …. you may have a period of severe worry during this film, so mind the young ones at it.

I found that most of the laughs were to be had with Paddington, Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson and Grant. The script is expertly written and there are a lot of jokes aimed at the adults or older kids too. The graphics are surreal and at times you question if Paddington is real, especially the scene at the barbers where his fur moves in sync with the razor.

I really Paddington 2. BBC Film critic Mark Kermode says, if you laugh 6 times it is a comedy. I can tell you that at Paddington 2, I laughed 6 times in the opening 10 minutes and about 6 times every 10 minutes after that! Paddington 2 is a worthwhile film to see. It is entertaining, charming and worth the admission fee!

Official Trailer – Paddington 2

My Score – Paddington 2

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Review Score

Thor Ragnarok – Movie Review of Thor Ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok – Movie Review of Thor Ragnarok

Having seen the last Thor movie I wasn’t sure what to expect from Thor Ragnarok. The reviews were all positive and I went in hoping that Thor Ragnarok would be as good as the hype.

Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, this instance is much more humourous and has a very tongue in cheek attitude. It’s almost like the quirky, cheeky comic books we grew up reading.

Thor Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi who also directed Hunt for the Wilderpeople (which is a great movie in itself)

The movie has a very funny sequence near the start with Thor and a devil type character called Surtur. After an encounter with Surtur, Thor has a shock to the system…His hammer is destroyed by his banished sister Hela who returns to rise and destroy those who oppose her. Hela played by Cate Blanchett’s looks down her nose of her weak father who once ruled the universe but then became a peaceful ruler.

Thor also has other major losses (no spoilers) and this almost becomes a crisis of confidence for Thor.

Thor Ragnarok gives lots of cameos and subtle nods to other films. After landing on another planet he and his semi-evil brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) plus the Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and a hilarious but effective hero with a drink problem Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) try to save Thor’s home Asgard from destruction.

Before they can do that, Thor and Hulk must escape from a Hunger Games style contest. It is within this ‘gameshow style’ event that they are pitched against each other. This is all under the watchful eye of game keeper “Grandmaster” played by the amazing Jeff Goldblum.

After leading a revolt now the race is on to save Asgard. Can Thor win the battle without his trusty hammer?

Overall this was a highly entertaining film with lots of humour and a decent enough story. Chris Hemsworth was brilliant and had some great lines as was Jeff Goldblum. (Someone did say that Jeff Goldblum was just asked to do his Best Jeff Goldblum impression.). Another standout, was Tessa Thompson who played Valkerie. I had not seen her in anything before but she has starred in over 45 other productions. Maybe we have not yet seen the last of Valkerie.

Conclusion, if you want a film where you will leave smiling and with a sense of money well spent them Thor Ragnarok is the one to see. The soundtrack is also excellent – some of the music in the movie is very 1980 synth, one was very reminiscent of the Street Hawk theme by Le Park. Thor Ragnarok is not a classic or an Oscar nominee but certainly a highly entertaining movie. Enjoy!

Thor Ragnarok is the last Marvel film of 2017 and next on the list is Avengers: Infinity War.

Looking for a good hotel in Niagara Falls? Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls – Hotel Review

Looking for a good hotel in Niagara Falls? Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls – Hotel Review

Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls, Hotel Review

If you are planning a trip to Niagara Falls then you are probably searching the web looking for independent review of hotels, to help make your mind up. You are probably searching for Good Hotels in Niagara Falls or Recommended Hotels near Niagara Falls. When I visited Niagara falls I had no such luxury, my hotel was arranged by my travel agent. I was told it was a great hotel so I took their word. They were right.

Staying in Niagara Falls is something you just have to do once in your life. If you do visit the area, then get a good hotel, one with a good view of the world famous Niagara Falls. The Sheraton on the Falls is one of these great hotels. The view is something which you will probably have to pay a bit more for but I can guarantee that it is worth it, especially if you only have 1 or 2 nights at Niagara Falls. You get to see the Niagara falls from your room at sunrise and also when the falls change colours, illuminated with lights in the evening.

 

Sheraton on the Falls

The Sheraton at Niagara falls is obviously a Sheraton hotel; a brand of hotels everyone knows. This Sheraton has a clean and fresh appeal about it. The Sheraton on the Falls Hotel has 669 first class rooms, varying from traditional guest-rooms to the beautiful Falls View suites. These falls-view suits feature floor-to ceiling windows providing guests with the best hotel view of Niagara Falls. All guestrooms are non-smoking which is ideal as I don’t smoke and I can smell if rooms have been smoked in.

 

The Rooms at Sheraton on the Falls

After a courteous and detailed check-in, you get a chance to see the view for yourself from the room. Note, the checkin area is one of the busiest I have ever seen but they processed the guests very quickly. I would recommend getting a superior room (or better) on the higher floors, which will afford you a better view of the falls. The noise of the falls when you open your balconette door (not really a balcony but you can open a door protected by a guard rail), is amazing.

Rooms at the Sheraton on the Falls - Rooms at the Sheraton on the falls have great views of Niagara Falls

You can hear the roar of Niagara falls if you leave that door open.  The recommended room to stay in is the Fallsview King Jacuzzi Room. This room offers a King size Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, floor to ceiling windows, and a fireplace with sitting area, and a 37″ LCD Television. Also included are phone, desk, in room tea/coffee, wireless internet access (charged), and pay per view movies. The pay for WiFi is something I hate but hopefully in 2017 this policy might be different (check on booking).

Anyway, the rooms in the Sheraton on the Falls are very nice, well laid out, clean and bright. Good size bathrooms, ideal for a luxury break away. A sound nights sleep is guaranteed!

View from Sheraton on the Falls from the Rooms on the 16th Floor

 

The Food

Options for food are plentiful. There are restaurants nearby and in the hotel. The best place for casual and fun dining is the Hard Rock Café within the same complex. Buffet Breakfast is available in The Sheraton on the Falls and this is a very large buffet with everything from pancakes, cereals and fried foods to fruit, yoghurts and omlettes / eggs cooked to order. You won’t be hungry! Even though it was a buffet we were still asked to tip the server, a person who came once to us offering coffee – I found that strange as we served our own breakfast. Tipping is strange to me as we don’t really have it in Ireland.

 

Conclusion

I was very happy with the Sheraton on the Falls, a great base for exploring the area as it is within walking distance of all the main attractions. I would certainly return to this hotel and have no problem in recommending it.

 

Sheraton on the Falls Location

Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls

Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls, Canada
American Made – Movie Review

American Made – Movie Review

American Made starts way back in 1978. Barry Seal, played by Tom Cruise, a is a young and very bored TWA pilot. Barry plays fast and loose with his job as a pilot – something we have seen Tom Cruise do before in other movies. Barry has a little sideline in smuggling contraband cigars. This does not go unnoticed and the a member of the CIA, played by Domhnall Gleeson, approaches him with a proposal.

At one point Barry asks Domhnall Gleeson’s CIA character, “All this is legal?” … “If you’re doing it for the good guys,” was the response. This sets the tone for the film and it’s hard to know whos the good guys sometimes. The CIA job is more of an ultimatum than a proposal and he is asked by the CIA to take reconnaissance photos of Soviet-backed insurgents, the contras, in South and Central America. Before he knows it, after only a few years Barry Seal starts drug smuggling for some of the most famous drug lords in Central America.

The thing which makes all this a bit more appealing – American Made is all based on true events.

As the film progresses Barry Seal takes on more and more risks. If caught he could be killed by the contras, a drug lord or imprisoned by any one of the many law enforcement groups he annoys. At one point I though his wife was going to kill him, as Barry has a growing family to raise. The family gets a lot bigger as Barry becomes more successful. His wifes brother comes and works for Barry which causes its own issues. The scenario and Barry’s life becomes more and more complex. I’m not going to spoil the final act but all in all this is a great movie with a great 70/80s soundtrack.

American Made is very Tom Cruise. Since Top Gun, we all know Tom loves fast cars, bikes and planes. Some of the aircraft sequences are very well done. At one point Tom or Barry (hard to know sometimes) adjusts the aircraft pitch trim in order to keep the aircraft flying level. At this point he goes back into the small plane to release the drugs he was carrying. This is not a stuntman, the was most probably Tom Cruise. In reality though Barry Seal was built like a wrestler was not as trim as Tom Cruise. The one thing I did notice was that the aircraft scenes and procedures seemed to be well researched, Tom was probably all over this detail.

The filming is very retro in parts, especially the opening and ending credits which I loved. I thought the credits, graphics, filming and music added a great air of vintage authenticness to the film.

American Made is not a deep or gritty drama. It has the wide cheeky grin of Tom Cruise at the start but you know it will be full of action and will be entertaining. There are a few reviews of the American Made movie who focus on it being cheesy but it is more than that. I think it was highly enjoyable, entertaining and would actually love to see it again.

Official Trailer – American Made

American Made – Overall Movie Rating

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American Made Movie Rating

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Hong Kong to Sydney

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Hong Kong to Sydney

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Review

In a previous post I mentioned how great Cathay’s Premium Economy was during our flight from London to Hong Kong. It was my intention that I would review the Hong Kong to Sydney leg.

On arrival at gate 71 in HKG our tickets were very unexpectedly upgraded to Business Class. This was a first for me. I was more than happy with the Cathay Pacific Premium Economy service which was excellent. However, I had never been upgraded in over 15 years of world wide travel. This came after a very bad Tuesday in Hong Kong when my expensive Canon 7D camera died. It also coincided with the fact that this international trip was a milestone birthday trip.

On arrival I was in awe of the amazing space which would be my abode for the next 11 or so hours during the trip to Sydney. The seat which also turns into a bed is very comfortable and at this point I was hoping we would be routed into a few holding patterns just to extend this amazing comfort.

As usual there were drinks on arrival and I chose the signature Cathay drink “Oriental Breeze” with cranberry other juices and a hint of Rose water. This was a beverage from heaven, a lovely taste and also quite potent … I slept very well after this !

Welcome drinks in Cathay Business Class

Within 45 minutes food was served – that was a fast turnaround. We were only in the air under and hour and already the food is here. If you thought food in Premium Economy was good then you must experience the Michelin Star influenced food. Fresh Fruit with a hint of ginger, 2 types of hummus and breadsticks (best hummus I ever tasted), fresh bread rolls, and the highlight was the fish with boiled rice with the excellent oriental touch of chopsticks and the refinement of a table cloth and proper cutlery (no foil packets in Business class)

Cathay Pacific Business Class food

This was an amazing meal and accompanied by a signature cocktail of Cointreau, vodka called “Cloud Nine” – another ‘Must Try’ in Business Class with Cathay Pacific.

I was very well impressed by the food and the level of service which also included you being addressed by name… This attention to detail just blew me away.

The breakfast with fresh fruit compote and yoghurt with granola, croissant, plus really good dim sum was just perfect. Follow that with a lovely coffee – my breakfast experience was complete.

The whole flight spent in Business Class reminded me that if you are travelling a long way and wanted to enjoy the best food, the best service and you wanted to arrive refreshed, then I would certainly recommend Cathay Pacific Business Class. If you cannot afford business class, don’t forget that the Cathay Pacific Premium Economy experience is also very good and probably the best in my experience.

Cathay Pacific Business Class is truly a wonderful way to fly – an even better way to arrive!!

 

This review is my own experience of the Cathay Pacific Business Class flight, I was not paid or compensated in any way in return for this blog post and it is simply a review of this flight.

Beauty and the Beast – Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast – Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live action remake of the 1991 animated classic of the same name. Directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Luke Evans as the egotistical and quite funny Gaston, and Josh Gad as LeFou this is a very entertaining movie for all the family.

Set in 18th century France, the movie starts with Belle in the local village as we are introduced to the key characters in the village. The setting and production would remind you somewhat of other classic Disney movies from the 50s/60s while being modern and stunning to watch. This production of a live Beauty and the Beast rendering really wraps the film and music we know from the 90s and brings the whole thing to life.

Emma Watson is perfectly cast as Belle, the beauty of the village and the one girl who has the intellect to go far in life, much to the annoyance of the local learned and scholars (a bit like the know-it-all Hermoine from Happy Potter). Emma Watson also sings 3 songs in the movie, but I thought in the first number there was a slight amount of auto-tune going on (either that or the production on the audio was a bit off)

Beauty and the Beast would be nothing without the beast. We are indeed introduced to the Prince who is turned into the beast after dismissing and insulting an enchantress. He has until the last petal from a rose falls to find true love. We also see Belles father, played by Kevin Kline, and we find out how he ended up at the beasts castle. There are some changes to the original storyline in the film, one being that Belles father was a bit slow but in the live action version the father, Maurice, is quite skilled at making clocks and automated devices.

Gaston is forever after Belle, thinking of her as his future wife. He is accompanied by Le Fou who some people say is Disneys first openly gay character. Gaston hears that Belle is in trouble and goes to find her, thus encountering the Beast which is vows to kill.

I’m not going to spoil anything, there is a lot of story to go from here, but the films CGI is very entertaining and combined with the musical numbers its something to behold. Beauty and the Beast may not be everyones cup of tea (excuse the pun chip) but overall it is worth the admission fee – if you have kids, it’s a no brainer, they will love it.

If you enjoyed the original Beauty and the Beast, you will love this one too. If you have not seen it, then you will be enthralled by the story, the characters and a few twists in the story.