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Empire States9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley

Posted on Saturday June 28, 2014, 18:14 by Ali Plumb in Empire States




1. It’s big
While Hogwarts (and the ride inside it, Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey) and Hogsmeade itself (and the ride beside it, Dragon Challenge) is a decently-sized destination – especially considering the queues lining up around the franchise outlet of Ollivander’s Wand Shop – its new sister site Diagon Alley is flipping massive in comparison.

Though you might initially think that Diagon Alley would be, well, just Diagon alley, the new section of Harry Potternalia in Universal Studios Orlando also includes the more sinister lane that branches off it (Knockturn Alley) as well as an entirely new street and a covered market. Think Borough Market - huge crowds and railway bridges above you - but don't go expecting giant cathedrals slap bang in the middle of it. There’s also Gringotts Ba...

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Empire StatesHow Edible Cinema Finally Allows You To Eat A Movie

Posted on Monday April 28, 2014, 10:29 by Ali Plumb in Empire States

There are a few moviegoing “experiences” out there – some requiring you to dress up, others involving a jacuzzi – but I don’t think I’ll keep any of their literature in my memory drawer. Here’s a scan of my lovingly crumpled menu from Edible Cinema’s Trading Places screening from back in December 2013, which I bring up now because a new Edible Cinema event is coming up soon, and it’s important you know about it.

The premise is simple: each audience member sits in a seat with a tray of numbered footstuffs in front of them. A low light is kept on to see what’s what, and just beneath the screen itself there's a handy Edible Cinema assistant who raises the appropriate number on a piece of card when you’re required to eat (or drink) something. Otherwise, it’s a relatively normal screening of a relatively normal film – albeit one that featur...

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Small ScreenSherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Posted on Monday January 13, 2014, 14:48 by Ali Plumb in Small Screen
Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Bold, budget-busting and a bit bonkers, ‘His Last Vow’ felt like a real series finale: guns, girls, girls with guns, guys with guns, gadgets (but not really), helicopters, sleeping potions, twists, twists-upon-twists, face-flicking, face-licking, resurrections, references and revenge. It delivered the goods, and (figuratively speaking) had them sent in a private jet. How often do you see something this grand, this impressive, this BIG on British TV?

If you like feeling wrong-footed, this was the episode for you – I honestly can’t count the number of “…the hell?” moments I enjoyed. For those not familiar with the original Conan Doyle story of ‘The Man With The Twisted Lip’, seeing Sherlock choose life in a drugs den would have been one of them, but if you have read that short story, it’s a very similar set-up: one of Watson’s neighbours can’t find her husband, says he’s probably in a cloud of opium, and when...

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Small ScreenSherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Posted on Monday January 6, 2014, 17:08 by Ali Plumb in Small Screen
Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Like any good best man’s speech, The Sign Of Three is fun, loveable, messy, slow to start, booze-fuelled, sometimes funny, sometimes not funny, sometimes only funny if you were there (or read the book), full of incoherent anecdotes, but ultimately kinda satisfying and brings a tear to the eye (if you’re susceptible to squishy-cuddle stuff).

I enjoyed it, but the whole episode felt a little too busy. Where ‘The Empty Hearse’ danced a merry waltz on the line between smugness and self-confident silliness, its follow-up drunkenly hopscotches around the line before collapsing on the floor, smiling happily and bleeding from the belly.

You’ll accuse me of sniping here – and you should, because that’s what I’m doing – but I have a list of things that just didn’t work for me, starting with the opening ‘gag’. For the most part, I like Rupert Graves as DI Greg Lestrade, but his bank heist / desperate text skit was weak. ...

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Small ScreenSherlock Series 3, Episode 1: 'The Empty Hearse' - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Posted on Wednesday January 1, 2014, 20:59 by Ali Plumb in Small Screen
Sherlock Series 3, Episode 1: 'The Empty Hearse' - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Sound the spoiler alarm! If you haven't watched this episode, go away. Still with us? Good stuff. Yes, Martin Freeman’s other half, Amanda Abbington, plays the role of Watson’s bride-to-be, Mary Morstan. And yes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, play Sherlock’s parents. Glad that’s out of the way.

I was lucky enough to watch a preview screening of The Empty Hearse at the BFI, which was followed by a Q&A with the stars (Freeman, Cumberbatch), the writer/co-creators (Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss), the director (Jeremy Lovering) and producer (Sue Vertue). With hundreds of fellow die-hard Holmes boys – okay, mainly Holmes girls – in attendance, there was A LOT of applause and even more laughter throughout the episode, so perhaps my appreciation for this first slice of the third season is a little higher than it might have been otherwise, but ...

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Empire States‘Is Jackie Chan Dead?’ And Other Amazing Film Questions From Google’s Auto-Suggest Function

Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2013, 15:53 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
‘Is Jackie Chan Dead?’ And Other Amazing Film Questions From Google’s Auto-Suggest Function

Type the word ‘is’, followed by a space, into Google, and you’re given four auto-suggestions. They are: ‘is it down’; ‘is jackie chan dead’; ‘is shingles contagious’ and ‘is nelson mandela dead’. One of these is regretably understandable (Mandela is elderly and in poor health but happily, at the time of writing, is not dead), one is pretty dumb (shingles are contagious, yes), another is nonsensical (is what down?) and the other... is incredibly worrying (Chan, who is not that old or that unhealthy, despite his frequent bone-breaking).

This inspired me to see what other cinematic Auto-Suggest gems I could find. Using the starting words of “Why”, “Is” and “When”, here are just ten examples based on characters from The Avengers....

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Empire StatesWhat Are Your Cinematic Affectations?

Posted on Friday March 1, 2013, 17:37 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
What Are Your Cinematic Affectations?

There’s a moment in Iron Man where Tony does this thing with his hands. It’s like a double finger click with his right hand that slaps into the palm of his left hand, making a sound like “Clicketty-click” in the process. It’s the kind of thing everyone’s favourite billionaire playboy philanthropist does when he’s walking, or thinking, or just being a bit cool. “Throw a little hot rod red in there…” Clicketty-click.

There’s another moment in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where the semi-professional fourth wall breaker is in the bathroom of posh restaurant Chez Quis, washing his hands and talking to no one in particular. Before he leaves, he picks up a mint from a bowl. “Mint”, he says, popping into his mouth. That’s it. “Mint.”

Finally, Fantastic Mr. Fox. “What’s this thing you do, the whistle ...

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Empire StatesEmpire Vs. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

Posted on Friday November 23, 2012, 14:53 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
Empire Vs. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

As part of the Amazing Spider-Man New York press trip, I got the chance to see the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical on Broadway. If you were to ask me for a one-word review of the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical on Broadway, the one word I would give you is ‘bonkers’. On the better side of bonkers, mind, but still – ahem – completely off the wall.

Chances are, you’ll have already heard about its initial technical glitches, huge running costs and critical mauling. Maybe you’ll know it as “that U2 Spider-Man musical where those stuntmen were injured” or possibly as “the Broadway show with the weirdest name of all time”, but now that the dust has settled, the script has been rewritten, certain songs excised and nuts-on-the-wire rigging firmly tightened, this felt like the right time to appreciate Marvel’s foray i...

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Empire StatesThe Amazing Spider-Man / MIB3 Press Trip Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Visiting Movie Locations

Posted on Friday November 16, 2012, 11:22 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
The Amazing Spider-Man / MIB3 Press Trip Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Visiting Movie Locations

As part of the recent Amazing Spider-Man / Men In Black III New York press trip – one that took place literally hours before Hurricane Sandy hit, believe it or not – a lucky few got to trapeze, bungee, helicopter, space shuttle, taxi and parkour around The Big Apple to celebrate the films’ releases on Blu-ray. I was one of that lucky few, and I can safely say that it was one of the best adventures in Abroadland I’ve ever been on....

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Infinite LivesLego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview

Posted on Monday November 5, 2012, 09:19 by Ali Plumb in Infinite Lives
Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game is the latest in a long line of Lego video games based on movie properties. Though they’ve only been making them since 2005, developers Traveller’s Tales have brick-ified Indiana Jones (twice), Batman (also twice), Star Wars (three times) and many, many others, creating family-friendly 3D platformers with their own unique look, feel and sense of humour, all centred around everyone’s favourite plastic building blocks.

The team are so trusted, it’s almost inconceivable that TT wouldn’t do the films justice. The bigger question this time around is whether they can rejuvenate a series of games that’s so set in its ways it’s practically become its own genre.

Encouragingly, TT’s previous Lego game, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, was a huge leap forward for the franchise, creating a more open world for Lego fans to explore, fix and smash up. But the second plastic coming of the caped crusader was limit...

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