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So No No No

Like a Millennium Falcon without its navigation computer, Solo just doesn’t know where it wants to go.

Production issues aside, the Star Wars/Disney empire continues to trudge onwards towards the world’s wallets with Solo: A Star Wars Story…but this time, Disney’s barrage of AT-AT Walkers seemed to have tripped up. Though more of a Luke fan myself, I was genuinely excited to hear when Solo was announced, as there was a huge scope for fun, excitement and a general ‘Indiana Jones’-style caper which would have charmed even the most cynical cinema-goer. So, it’s with great disappointment that Solo falls at nearly every hurdle and though a relatively well-made film, it doesn’t add anything to series.

There’s clever gags and comedic moments which don’t mix well with rather heavy underlying themes, and a general lack of imagination outside of the early big train action scene. You can feel the influence of Guardians of the Galaxy throughout (there’s even a Rocket Raccoon-alike) and in a bizarre twist, Marvels’ take on Star Wars outdoes Lucasfilm at its own game. With a universe of exciting locales to jump around in, Solo’s locations don’t add anything, most are generic, and you’ll have seen them before in many other sci-fi films. Despite this, Solo looks good if a bit grimy – the special effects are top-notch, cinematography is reasonable, and the music is workmanlike in application with occasional flurries of emotion. The train scene at the start is compelling and well thought-out, with a great sense of tension, but the latter ‘big’ moments are of diminishing returns in both originality and tension.

The script methodically ticks off a lot of back story – Solo’s name, dashboard dice, his blaster, outfit, Chewie, and that’s about it. The narrative treads water and focuses on a somewhat unbelievable romance for its core, but even worse than that it doesn’t dare to make Han unlikeable or do anything particularly heinous, meaning there’s no arc for him – he’s pre-packaged as the ‘good guy’ whose flaw is being a bit rough around the edges. You could argue they were holding off this character progression for the next film, but it was needed here. On top of the structure, there’s some terrible immersion-ruining dialogue which although few and far between, felt amateurish and immediately recalled what Harrison Ford told George Lucas back on the original films “You can type this shit, but you can’t say it!”.

One of the greatest shames is that the film’s break-out performance from Donald Glover doesn’t get enough time to shine, and when he’s on screen it’s very apparent who can and can’t entice the audience with charisma, charm and wit. Alden Ehrenreich tries his best but isn’t given any demanding scenes, and to be fair, balancing imitating Ford with an original spin on it is a nigh-impossible task for most actors. Woody Harrelson puts in a decent performance and gets more moments to shine as the grizzled mentor, while Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a few killer scenes with her freedom-fighting droid L3-37. The less said about Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra the better, but suffice to say, in comparing love interests, Carrie Fisher’s Leia has more fire, energy and charm in just one of her hair buns.

It baffles me that was so much of a desire to film this particularly take on the character, with Lawrence Kasdan, acclaimed Star Wars/Indy scribe, pushing heavily for Disney to make his script. The film doesn’t really have anything new, interesting or exciting to say, which, given the incredible universe and set of iconic characters it has to play with, is just a bit sad. Time to get Marvel on board to get this piece of junk back on course to hyperspace and fun-filled escapades.

Deadpool 2 – Sustained sequel satisfaction

Can the immortal shock-value contract killer still make you laugh and feel terribly guilty for doing so?

Ryan Reynolds, the spunky, all-Canadian wonderboy who took a fourth-wall breaking Marvel anti-hero from a bizarre side-character in a Wolverine film to his own blockbuster success makes this film worth seeing. If you get off on his snappy one-liners, never ending supply of dick jokes and clever quips to the audience, you’ll be in A-ha-ven, sorry heaven. The comedic timing, sight gags and Reynold’s zany energy overcame the first film’s somewhat bland main villian and overall main plot, it felt like a throwback to gonzo film making – doing it on the cheap but having a shitload of fun doing it and poking fun at the big budget superhero conveyor belt.

Deadpool 2 likes to finish to a different tune. We still have the laugh-a-minute gags, edginess and Ryan Reynolds, but there’s a lot more CGI, more ‘set pieces’ and the overall plot feels like an extra, clumsy third leg, grafted on from Marvel Studios – this extra limb brings more emotion, a larger cast and lots of potential for spin-offs, sequels and ‘franchises’. Enough of ‘third leg’ jokes though, this doesn’t bring down the film overall, but there’s just slight mismatch of tone.

But lets back to the humour. Practically every line is dripping with raunchiness, edginess and whatever dirty jokes they can throw at the screen without getting an 18/R-rated sticker slapped on it. We get slapdowns of Marvel/DC (no one is left unscathed…Hawkeye), fanny-pack shaming, Taylor Swift(!?), plus even Frozen gets burned for its theme’s uncanny resemblance to a Barbera Streisand classic.

Speaking of the music, it plays a larger part here with a bunch of licensed classic tracks, the best being DMX’s fiery anthem ‘X Gon’ Give It To Ya’, plus some South-Park-esque dramatic, yet hilarious vocal harmonies towards the end.

When the scenes aren’t splashing in blood, the action is great, especially one elegantly crafted one where a character gets rather lucky in avoiding immenent death. There’s a lot more thought gone into the set pieces here, and it’s a great improvement on the budget-restricted action of the first film, they may have got a ton more briefcases full of money to make this but they didn’t all splurge it on the white stuff.

Shout-outs have to go to the extended cast, and though they offer more Disney-franchise-dollars, Zazie Beetz holds her own with comic timing, as does breakout March of the Wilderpeople star Julian Dennison, who though well used, should have been on the screen more! Mr Brolin has the unviable task of playing the straight man to Reynolds’ comedian, as Collusus did in the first film, but adds a gristled heart as he channels Terminator 2 Arnie, while much love goes to the criminally underused Rob Delaney (apparently most of his scenes were improv). Keep your eye out for cameos, they’ll fly by in a flash, but they’re gobsmackingly special.

Deadpool 2 is a delicious cocktail of sharp, tangy humour blended with a shit-load of blood and topped off with some standout performance cherries. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and not particularly filling, but once it gets down your throat it’s sure to satisfy.

Top trips to take right now

InsureandGo have got customers covered for their next sun-soaked adventure whether that is an action-packed family trip to Europe or a scenic cruise in the Caribbean. The UK’s leading travel insurance specialist has picked out the top spots to guarantee sun this spring and as the weather in the UK picks up, a staycation is not ruled out. InsureandGo offer a range of different policies for one-off holidays, cruises, staycations within the UK and optional cover for sports and activities, making travel this spring that little bit easier. 

LONG HAUL…

A cruise around the Caribbean is the perfect place to guarantee sunshine. Rum, sun and steel drums are the perfect combination for the ideal trip and a cruise enables travellers to take in more than one destination and to pick the best beach on offer in the islands!

InsureandGo offers cruise cover that covers holidaymakers for problems exclusive to cruise travel such as itinerary changes, unused excursions and missed port departure.

MID HAUL…

Far too long in the shadow of its Emirati neighbours, Bahrain is now a top holiday contender with temperatures 30+ degrees in the spring. With beautiful mosques, bazaars, heritage museums and stunning beaches to explore there is no stopping the small nation from becoming the next big tourist destination. And of course, in post Bahrain Grand Prix mania, adrenaline junkies can drive in the dazzling desert on a dune buggy course or try out pearl diving into the blue, which is a new activity on offer to tourists in 2018.

All of InsureandGo’s policies cover a wide range of 50 activities and sports, including scuba diving.*

SHORT HAUL…

Vitamin ‘sea’ seekers can bask on the sun-soaked beaches of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands. Delicious cuisine, blood pumping water sports and beautiful scenery, endless cycle trails and quaint harbours make it the perfect family destination. Holidaymakers can head to Sóller for a tram ride through the town, past orange groves and to the glistening coast or stop off in Sant Elm on the west of the island for traditional tapas in the countless taverns along the sunny beachfront.

InsureandGo offers multi-trip travel insurance that covers kids for free and lasts the whole year, so families don’t have to worry about getting insured each time a quick short haul trip takes their fancy.

STAYCATION…

Holidaymakers should take advantage of any sunshine in the UK and book their next holiday within the British Isles. Make the most of the great outdoors in the Brecon Beacons with huge open spaces in the National Park to soak up the sun and try out something new such as horse riding, rafting and abseiling to make it a holiday to remember.

Man’s Best Friend’s Guide to Summer Skincare

We all see ourselves as a summer stud with a brilliant bronzed glow, but thanks to air-con, high outdoor temperatures and oil build-up, the reality is that you could be looking more dud than stud. Bulldog of course, have created a sun-savvy skincare routine so that you can enjoy your summer without worrying about oily skin and imperfections.

Cleanse  
Your skin is prone to be oily in the summer so use a balancing formula every morning and evening to remove excess oil without stripping it.
Oil Control Face Wash (£4.50, 150ml) contains witch hazel, willow bark and juniper. It’s been formulated to deeply cleanse the skin and leave it feeling thoroughly refreshed.     

Exfoliate  
An exfoliator buffs away dull, dead skin cells to leave you with a clear complexion. Scrub away the day after cleansing in the evening twice a week.
Oil Control Face Scrub (£5.00, 125ml) Boasting black charcoal to exfoliate the skin, this scrub will minimise excess oil and leave the skin feeling smooth and soft.

Moisturise
Even though your skin might feel greasy you still need to hydrate it daily with a moisturiser. Choose a mattifying formula that will absorb quickly in to the skin.
Oil Control Moisturiser (£6.00, 100ml) leaves the skin feeling smooth and looking healthier. It was designed to provide lightweight hydration whilst leaving a mattified finish.

Don’t Forget About Your Body  
Chances are, you’ll be exposing more skin than usual so keep it hydrated and looking healthy.
Original Body Lotion (£4.50, 250ml) is super nourishing and delivers 24hr hydration to leave your skin feeling smooth all day. It contains aloe vera, camelina oil and green tea.

Ready Player Won!

With this being Spielberg’s 33rd full length feature it wouldn’t be wrong to worry if he’s just phoning it in by now, but this is so far from the case here. Making computer game heavy concepts can be a tough act to crack. Spielberg (and the writers) just get it. Having dabbled in the industry himself with incredible gem that was The Dig back in the 90s, the director evokes the fun, suspense and adventure but without the pitfalls other films with game tie-ins often fall for. The movie’s over the top racing scene is as CGI-heavy as you can get, but still feels grounded in reality with its clever use of cinematography that obeys the rules of traditional cinema.

Understandably Ready Player One lives and breathes nostalgia, and while you don’t need to get the references to understand it, viewers who don’t may feel a little left behind. The nostalgia isn’t just limited to cameos, cars and cassette tapes. The plot itself harks back to the old adventure films from the years it references (70s, 80s) with McGuffins galore, actual old film scenes, and a (SPOILER) finale shout out to the grail scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

While Blade Runner and the like nailed the dystopian effects of a tech-led future, the story doesn’t delve too deep into the real dreariness, despair and horrors of the real world, but this is a more positive film and it’s understandable why it glosses over this.

The film rushes through most of its 2 hours and 20 minutes at breakneck pace, with a giddy sugary sense of fun throughout all of its spectacular set pieces. It takes the technological savviness and innovations of Minority Report, and slathers it with the youthful innocence, excitement and adventure that was served up in Tintin.

Return of the Gentleman – The Meaning of Masculinity in Today’s World

 

If you’ve ever taken a moment to search the internet on the topic of men, you will notice very little is written about what it actually means to be a gentleman.

I grew up around people who hated men. I was physically abused because I was boy. Despite all of this, I have always desired to have a world where both men and women were empowered to create something greater and where everyone received nurture and care.

In today’s culture, what message are we, or are we not, sending out about what it takes to ‘be a man’? We need to redefine societal views and expectations of manhood, the answer of which lies in the return of the gentleman.

The return of the gentleman is all about being the best we can be as men. It’s about acknowledging our greatness with no shame, no wrongness and no apologies. It’s the place of honoring everyone.

Much of what we have been taught about what it means to be a man is the opposite of this. Take care of everyone else. Make sure your woman is happy. Make sure the family has what they desire. Make sure life is good for others. Have you ever noticed how much of you, you must cut off in order to accomplish this? True gentlemen don’t try to stuff themselves into the box of someone else’s desires. Rather, they include themselves in the creation of their lives. They honor themselves while honoring others.

Every day we’re faced with a barrage of images and messages that tell us how to look, dress and act, often reinforcing stereotypes and ideas of what it’s like to be a man or woman. For men in particular, they can find themselves limited by unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a man – namely, the long-held belief that men should aspire to be the ‘Alpha Male’, and that any show of emotion or vulnerability is considered taboo.

A true gentleman is honorable, kind, and caring, and also potent, sexual, able to make money and able to contribute to family. The most important quality is honor. Men should honor women, children, the planet, and yourself and your needs. In doing so, men should not try to conform to the expectation to be the ‘ideal’ man, as this leads to you in constant judgment of yourself and trying to change your behavior. Instead, stop pretending to be something you’re not and just be you.

Here are three signs of being a true gentleman:

1. Asking the Question, “What would make me happy?”

You are a gift to the planet. You are a contribution to everyone you meet. When you cut off any part of you in order to make someone else happy, we all lose out.

If you desire to be a gentleman, you have to start including you in the creation of your life. What do you desire? What makes you happy? What makes you come alive? Whatever it is, do those things. Choose those things. When you honor you and choose for you, everyone around you benefits.

2. Strive for Greatness
Many of us have been taught to seek perfection but perfection doesn’t actually exist. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for greatness. In greatness, you allow yourself to be greater than you were yesterday and you don’t judge you for not being enough. In greatness, you recognize that the “mistakes” you make actually contribute to you being greater today than you were yesterday. In greatness, you see that every choice you have ever made has created the person that you are today.

Perfection is the judgment of you. Greatness is the gift of you that includes all of you and judges none of you. Choose greatness.

3. Like Yourself
Real men like themselves. They are grateful for who and what they be. What if you woke up in the morning, looked at yourself in the mirror and had no judgment of you? What if you practiced gratitude for you – all the time. Even when you mess up. Even when others ae unhappy with you? How much more fun would your life be if you could laugh at yourself when you do something stupid rather than taking yourself so seriously. Be willing to be you unapologetically.

The return of the gentleman is really about you willing to be you. When you are willing to choose for you, when you are willing to know what makes you happy and commit to having that, when you don’t apologize for the kindness, the care and the potency of you but allow yourself to be all of it, you become an invitation to something greater in the world. You become a gentleman.

Dr. Dain Heer is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and internationally renowned speaker. He is a co-creator and leading facilitator of Access Consciousness®, a personal development modality available in more than 170 countries that has contributed to changing the lives of tens of thousands of people, over the past 30 years. A conscious and creative thought leader with a profound understanding of the power of personal creation, Dr. Heer draws upon his personal background and unique perspective to facilitate positive change in the world, and empower people from every culture, country, age and social strata to create the money, relationships and life they truly desire. drdainheer.com.

Last minute New Year’s Eve escapes

Still undecided about how to ring in 2018? Do it in style by jet setting to three trending New Year’s Eve Destinations this holiday season. From glittering oversized decorations at the Coliseum to extravagant parties from dusk til’ dawn, there is something for everyone. Make it a night to remember with top New Year’s Eve deals from CheapOair.co.uk

 

Las Vegas, United States

Las Vegas does not fall short of exhilarating New Year’s Eve celebrations, with plentiful concerts and shows to last from sundown to sunrise. Transforming into a giant street party with 300,000 of your ‘closest friends’ the night’s proceedings are nothing short of unforgettable. With fireworks displays launching from several rooftops along the Strip, the party capital sure knows how to farewell the year gone by. CheapOair.co.uk has return flights with United Airlines from £649 from London Heathrow, based on travel to Las Vegas via San Francisco on 29 December 2017 and returning via Los Angeles on 2 January 2018.

Rome, Italy

Branded the ‘eternal city of love’ Rome is surely the most romantic city for a New Year’s Eve getaway. Whether you’re celebrating the festivities with a loved one, or jet setting overseas with a group of your closest friends, the city promises a magical backdrop for wine-infused celebrations. Think strolls through historical landmarks like the Coliseum, or indulging in the country’s many delicacies, the capital is sure to spark fun filled carnivals with an Italian twist. CheapOair.co.uk has return flights with Vueling Airlines from £285 per person based on travel from London Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino on 29 December 2017 and returning on 2 January 2018.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Revellers can venture to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik for an experience a little more left field. A natural winter wonderland with the added potential of a Northern Lights sighting, the city boasts breath-taking views in the northernmost capital of the world. With only four hours of daylight in late December, New Year’s Eve is truly unique. CheapOair.co.uk has return flights with easyJet from £279 per person based on travel from London Heathrow to Reykjavik on 29 December 2017, returning on2 January 2018.

Christmas Dinner survival guide

Did you know we consume as much as three times our recommended daily calorie intake on Christmas day? But it’s not all doom and gloom…

Although the traditional Christmas dinner gets a bad rep, it’s actually a pretty healthy meal if we strip it back to the bare bones. We just need to be careful of how much we have.

Portion control: Everything looks so tasty that you want to have it all. Do, but only have a little of each. Don’t pile your plate upwards. Try to think about the size of your stomach and be kind to it – don’t stretch it too much!

Avoid skin on turkey: The white meat is best – such as the breast. The skin has a high fat content and most likely salt if you added it, so avoid.

Go light with the sauces: Sauces not only add flavour, but also salt, sugar and calories. Go easy on gravies, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and red current jelly.

Eat slowly: The more slowly you eat, the easier it will be to tell when you’re full so that you avoid that horrible ‘I can’t move’ feeling.

Drink slowly: The slower you drink you wine, the less likely someone is to top it up and the less you’ll drink.

Go for a walk between lunch and pudding: Allow some time for your meal to digest. The walk will also help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and should help to wake you up a little. Plus, the later you have pudding, the less likely you are to snack later on.

Hopefully these tips will help to reduce the guilt associated with Christmas day. Make sure you enjoy yourself and don’t restrict yourself too much – it only happens for one day each year after all!

Comment by Dr Sally Norton.  NHS weight loss consultant surgeon.  Founder of www.vavistalife.com.  

5 WAYS TO EASE YOUR CHRISTMAS STRESS

Over the festive period it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by stress. Whether it be visiting family members you haven’t seen for years, or something as simple as choosing the right turkey, it can be difficult to deal with the extra pressure. Today we are sharing a post from the THE INTUITIVE PATHFINDER on 5 ways to ease your Christmas stress.

1. MEASURED BREATHING – if your mum’s moaning is driving you mad, take a deep breath – in through
your nose, out through your mouth and repeat five times. It will help to bring your blood pressure down,
clear your thoughts and reset your brain, which will hopefully prevent you from saying something in
anger that you can’t take back.

2. BLUE LACE AGATE – if you find your emotions are getting the better of you, look to the crystal Blue
Lace Agate – it helps to ease intense emotions soothe anxiety.

3. MIND YOUR MIND – think about your thoughts. If you initially think negative thoughts about a situation or
family member, you’ve already set yourself up to experience it in a negative way. Try to find a positive thought about it all – that may be all you need to change the experience.

4. WALK AWAY – we’ve all experienced that situation where a personality grinds on you. The best thing to
do is walk away. Politely excuse yourself; find a quiet corner to breathe. Envisage a beautiful waterfall, which you stand under, asking for all negativity to be washed away.

5. DO SOMETHING THAT YOU LOVE – in the run up to Christmas we rarely have the time to think about ourselves. Making sure that everyone is going to have a fabulous time can be super stressful, so pop a date in the diary that is just for you.

Having something to focus on & look forward to is a great way to help you de-
stress.

 

The History of Gaming

When Pong launched as the first arcade game back in 1972, kids began flocking to the arcade.  Since that time so much has changed in the gaming industry.  Nowadays, kids do not have to leave their home to play.  With online gaming, they can play against people from all over the world and given that the average gamer is 35-years-old, it is possible that their parents are sitting beside them engaged in a heated competition.  In 2017,the gaming industry generated a staggering $108 billion, there are 2.2 billion gamers worldwide and by 2020 mobile gaming will account for half the market.  

As the gaming indutsry arcades, to home consoles such as Nintendo to online and mobile gaming has been remarkable and profitable..Today, there are 2.2 billion gamers worldwide who play against each other regardless of their location and by 2020, mobile gaming will account for half of the gaming market.

The team at HistoryDegree.net put together a very cool History of Gaming Infographic which gives a detailed timeline on the history of video games.  It will certainly bring back some fun childhood memories.