Tag Archives: Cinema

A Fun Family Day With Thomas The Tank Engine

12 Sep

As a blogger I’m lucky to find some really exciting invitations in my inbox of a morning and recently I received one of these from HiT entertainment.

This was an invite for myself and the children to visit Drayton Manor Park home to Thomas Land. We would be reviewing the parks many attractions as well as watching a special screening of the brand new film Thomas and friends – Blue Mountain Mystery at the parks 4D cinema.

Alice-Sara was out for the day so myself and a friend took the 2 boys along. Little man had a big interest in Thomas the Tank engine from the time he could walk. His Thomas obsession was one of the many factors that helped CAMHS diagnosis him with Aspergers Syndrome, So, Yes, it was pretty intense. His now into transport as a whole but still won’t say no to a bit of Thomas if Tiny Tot is watching it! Little man collected everything Thomas the Tank Engine when he was younger. He has loads of the train sets (that are packed away and kept out of his siblings reach). It’s a shame as Little Harley who is 3 in December is now a huge Thomas fan and would love to sit playing with these!

Drayton Manor is a fair distance from where we live in South East London, in fact it took over three hours to reach the park by car. Nonetheless I felt that it was worth attending as the boys would absolutely love it! They were dead excited when we left bright and early on a Tuesday morning. Harley especially who was kitted out in his Thomas gear.

Two service stations, some sing songs and one minor meltdown later, we finally pulled into Drayton Manor Park some 3 and a half hours after first setting off.

The car park is massive and given this was the 4th of September, many children had just gone back to school resulting in us grabbing a great parking space quite close to the parks main entrance.

I decided not to take Harley’s buggy as I was guessing he’d be to excited to sit in it! I was right, Harley loved it at Drayton Manor and spent very little time sitting with the exception of the cinema and the rides.

As many know Little man 11 has Aspergers Syndrome and Special needs. He was entitled to a ride access band and this was collected from the guest services. I’ve written an additional review that looks at the parks facilities for those with a disability or special needs (particularly an autism spectrum condition) and this will feature on the blog following this one.

Next stop was Thomas Land. Now we only had a quick peek as we needed to head on over to the cinema and as we had little man with us, as to avoid any anxiety we decided to go over a bit earlier than needed so to avoid any queues. Lucky the screening was closed to the public so it was ourselves and a small number of other families who had been invited to review the film. This was perfect as it meant little man remained rather calm avoiding any meltdowns.

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We were given some popcorn and bottled water and headed inside. HiT had organised for a few of its fabulous PR team to demonstrate some of its newest toy releases in connection with the movie. My Harley’s eyes lit up like beaming flashlights as soon as he entered the room. There was some great games and play sets on show. Harley went right for the Mega Blocks – Blue Mountain Quarry (which I’m going to have to buy him for his birthday as he keeps request to play with it)!

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Little man coped well with all the people and sat in the corner playing with his brother Harley with a great remote control Thomas.

The film was being shown in 4D and we were pretty excited (even me at 30 years old was itching to get in there)! We were called for the screening by no other than the ‘Fat controller’ himself and inside we were shown to our fantastic seats.

The film was brilliant, it ran for an hour which was long enough for a toddler. The storyline was good and easy to follow, even for the youngest of audiences.

In Thomas’ latest adventure, the Fat Controller sends Thomas to work at the blue mountain Quarry where Thomas spots an engine he’s never seen before trying to hide. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery Thomas tracks down befriends Luke who tells Thomas he’s hiding because he did something so bad he could be sent away from the island of Sodor forever! Thomas does not believe this and set off on a journey to discover the story of this poor runaway engine. On the way he learns of engines bought to sodor from faraway lands and an accident in Brendam Docks where and engine fell into the sea. But only when he’s learnt every piece of the story can Thomas convince his new friend that there’s no reason to hide.

The 4D effects were perfect for the smaller children. Every so often the chairs would move! There was also bubbles when the lights come on and fake snow that gathered on the stage as the lights went down.

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After enjoying the movie we then went off to enjoy the rest of the parks many attractions, in particular Thomas land. This was the perfect place for a Thomas fan, it truly is one-of-a-kind, a real Thomas paradise!

Thomas Land boasts 12 wonderful themed rides, a spectacular indoor play area and a shop filled with fantastic Thomas & Friends merchandise.

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We went on almost every ride at Thomas land, we even did the Troublesome Trucks Coaster – a 220 metre roller coaster that runs up and over Thomas Land… Ok it’s nothing major for me, I’ve been on some massive beasts but for the 2 year old… I was surprised. It does go really fast and has some pretty sharp turns! I really thought he wouldn’t meet the height restriction, but he did and given he was jumping up and down with excitement, we went for it and yes, he loved it!

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Little man also had a fabulous time he really wanted to ride the Ben10 roller-coaster, only he got a little anxious and changed his mind. In order to cheer him up I got him a large hotdog and we chilled by the parks stunning lake and fed the ducks before finally checking out some of the shops such as the Thomas gift shop and the fabulous cartoon network store.

Not that we needed anything! HiT had provide both of the boys with a Thomas goody bag following the film and Oh my… what a lovely goody bag it was!

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The kids had an awesome time at Drayton Manor Park – Thomas Land. They also enjoyed the 4D movie Thomas and Friends – Blue Mountain Mystery which is now out on DVD for all to enjoy.

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During our long drive home, there was silence… Yep, within 10 minutes of getting in the car both boys were fast asleep.

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Thanks HiT the boys had an amazing day at Drayton Manor Park.

Checkout our Video of the day.

The Premiere of Mr Poppers Penguins

27 Jul

A few weeks back I was delighted to receive an invite from ‘Thinkjam’ to attend the premiere of, ‘Mr Poppers Penguins‘ starring funny man ‘Jim Carrey

 The Premiere was screened in London’s Leicester Square at the beautiful Empire on Saturday the 23rd July .

I went along to this early morning screening with my good friend Donna and my daughter who brought along her, (I quote) best friend in the whole wide world! 

 I decided it would be find, and likely best if my daughter had her friend stay over at ours on the Friday night, and both could be heard chatting in an extremely excited manner about the coming events of the following day. I had decided that it would possibly be to too much for Little man to contend with, given his hate of crowds, his dislike towards his little sister (So, not joking) and his reluctance to walk around London (Yes I wanted to hit the shops after the film) I decided It would be best that he remained behind with his Little Bro who both spent the day with their father.

 (However, It’s not all doom and gloom! The ODEON will be screening, ‘Mr Poppers Penguins’ as part of its, ‘ Special autism friendly screenings’ which I will elaborate on a little further on) 

 We arrived a little after nine to a stunningly decorated foyer, filled with many delights  for little excited children. both my daughter and her friend demonstrated their joy by whirling around and giggling excitedly. Face painting, ballooning modelling, and pictures were just some of what was on offer. There was food and drink and a host of Celebes plotting about. I turned around at one point to find that Ophelia Lovibond who plays pippi in the film, was having her picture taken behind me. ” Gosh, Little old me mixing with the stars! Whatever next?” Said with a cheeky smile and a bit of a giggle.

 So… The Film, “Mr Poppers Penguins what’s it’s all about and is it worth a trip to the Cinema during this years summer holiday?

 Title: Mr Poppers penguins

Director: S. Waters 

Release date: 5th August 2011

Genre: Family, Comedy

Rated: PG

Running time: 1 Hr 34 mins

The plot: The life of a businessman, ‘Tom Popper’ (Jim Carrey) is turned upside down when he inherits an unusual gift from his late father, an explorer who had little time for his son when growing up. The unusual gift of six penguins join Tom Popper at his swanky Manhattan apartment, work commitments begin to suffer and his charming and devoted personal assistant, ‘Pippi’ (Ophelia Lovibond) who has a fondness for the letter ‘P’ can be seen desperately trying to keep both Mr Poppers work affairs and penguins in order. 

At first Tom popper frantically tries to get rid of his new flat mates, who he later names, Captain, Stinky, Loudly, Nimrod, Bitey and Lovely. Well, that’s up in-till his son ‘Billy’ (Maxwell Perry Cotton) catches a glimpse of the little cute waddling six, mistaking them as a birthday gift.

 

The Penguins play a vital role in bringing divorced parents Tom and Amanda Popper (Cala Gugino) back together much to the delight of their Children Billy, and that of over hormonal teenage daughter ‘Janie’ (Madeline Carroll) who’s having a boy crisis!

But this isn’t before Mr Poppers has turned his apartment into a snowy ‘Winter Wonderland’ and become a father all over again when six penguins become eight.

All the time his business is going down the pan, what with him failing to close the deal and buy out, ‘Mrs Van Gundy’ (Angela Lansbury, better known in the UK for, ‘Murder she wrote’) an equally tough business woman who shows no signs of selling the restaurant he and his father would visit during his childhood, sees him get fired from his well respected position in his high flying job. 

Like most movies aimed at a young audience, there’s a bad guy. The Zoo director, ‘Nat Jones’ (Clark Gregg) is that guy. He has a sinister plan to get his dirty mitts on the Antarctic penguins by posing as somebody who actually gives a dam about the penguins welfare! There’s a touching scene that sees Tom Popper waiting anxiously for the third egg to hatch, “Penguin number nine” that sadly never gets to see life beyond its shell! With this, Tom hands over the remaining eight penguins and tries to convert himself back into the “workaholic” he once was, much to the disappointment of his ex-wife and two children. 

Releasing his mistake and families unhappiness, the whole Popper family gang, along with personal assistant ‘Pippi’ set out on a rescue mission to reclaim the penguins, which leads to ‘Captain’ (The first of Mr Poppers penguins) flying from the roof of the zoo and into the sun roof of the waiting get away car! (Yes, I know Penguins, they don’t fly! Trust me this one certainly does!) 

With lots of very loud squawking and, umm, Yes… Farting, beside a truck load

 of Penguin poop the film had most the audience holding their sides.

Our Thoughts 

My daughter and her friend are both 8 years of age and sat though the film with no problems except for the trip to the loo that needed to be made only five minutes into the start of the film, (Kids)!

I asked both my daughter and her friend what they thought of the film! Both gave the same answer, “It was sick” Translation from Mum… I think you’ll find that actually means, “It was great, good, wicked, fantastic… take your pick!” Both also stated how they found the penguins both cute but equally funny.

My daughter, ‘Alice Sara’ shared her favourite scenes as being… The flooding bathroom scene that resulted in a floating penguin; the cute choreographed dancing scene, that saw Nimrod fall over, ‘YET AGAIN’ lastly the touching scenes where Tom Popper lies in the snow with the egg.

Her friend was equally impressed with the above (proving why these little girls are best friends) she also throw in the scene where Captain flies from the roof and into the sunroof of the waiting car, during the rescue mission form the Zoo.

My friend who is of course a grown up like me (no sarcasm please) shared her thoughts on the film as being that of enjoyment, yet a little confusion as to some of the points that made up the film. She made an interesting comment, by stating that some parts of the story line tended to become a little overloaded and were not really unneeded, stating that at times there was just a little bit to much going on. Still, like myself she giggled along to the film and at times even demonstrated a laugh out loud moment, as did 99% of the audience. 

I, myself found it a good family film that has enough laughter to hold an audience for the 1 Hr and 34 minutes it was screened. It made a welcome change from your, “Tipcally” cute talking puppy (that I’ve seen my fair share off thanks to that of my daughter)! Jim Carrey was fantastic, though I’ve seen this guy in funnier, ‘Liar, Liar’ being one example! Yet this film showed a somewhat softer side to Mr Funny and I liked that! When I told my daughter that Mr Poppers was in fact the same actor who played, ‘The Grinch’ & the ‘Mask’ she struggled to believe me, (though that could have something to do with him NOT having a green face for this title)! 

Though at times I found the story line to be somewhat predictable, my daughter didn’t and that to me was all that mattered. I must admit, what really made it something for me was that these penguins were the real deal! Yes, these were very cleverly trained penguins with some scenes featuring both the penguins & a combination of clever CGI (computer generated imagery) I think this was done in such a skilful way it was hard to work out which bits were actually CGI and which wasn’t. (Ok, all with the exception of the very loud opened mouth squawking shots!) It was easy to see why all the children in the audience, including that of my daughter and her friend, rolled about in their seats laughing loudly to the pooping and farting scenes… It was funny stuff especially to a couple of eight year old girls who couldn’t get enough of it! 

‘Pippi’ the assistant, played by, ‘Ophelia Lucy Lovibond’ was a pleasure to watch, as  was that of Mrs Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) both Uk actress. Sadly I didn’t have a clue as to who Carla Gugino (Amanda Poppers) actually was having not seen her in any previous films (I know, This mum don’t get out much)! Jim Carrey, as mentioned wasn’t at his funniest but played a good part all the same

So, If you like Carrey, penguins and lots of penguin poop then this is the film for you! Some very funny scenes and cute penguin moments, you may even shed a tear or two when watching the precious moment between Carrey and the un-hatched penguin egg.

Would I add it to the DVD collection that’s already greatly over following?

Yes, I would!

Mr Poppers Penguins will be realised in Cinemas nation-wide from the

5th August 2011

I will be watching Mr Poppers penguins for the second time with my eldest son, aka Little man who has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome.

Dimensions and ODEON have come together to bring us  ‘Mr Poppers Penguins autism friendly screening’ which is taking place at a number of ODEON cinemas across the country on Thursday 11th August 2011

There are 30+ cinemas involved in the screening and a full list can be found, ‘HERE’

What makes the screening autism friendly?

The lights will be on low

The volume reduced

You’ll be able to bring your own food and drink

You’ll be able to move around the cinema freely without having to worry about upsetting other public viewers

Tickets go on sale August 2nd and can either be purchased in the usual way form cinemas in your local area or online through the ODEON website “Here”

Support workers and carers go free with a valid CEA card. to find out more or apply click, “HERE”

Depending on the turn out and success within all 30 participating cinemas of the pilot screening of ‘Mr Poppers Penguins’ on the 11th August  will determined whether the green light will be given for other upcoming films in the near further.

We are going to our local ODEON to watch this great film while showing our support for this fantastic & much welcomed idea. Why should children miss out due to autism? If you ask me this is something all cinemas should have been providing for a long time.

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