Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D

The last time I was this excited about Star Wars was in 1977.  The queues had gone around the cinema and even as a child I knew it was something special.  My gran took me and it was the first time I experienced another world.  Today there were no queues around the block anymore.  With multiplex screens they can show the film to many more people than back in 1977, but the sense of excitement was still the same.

To experience it properly I booked tickets to see it in IMAX 3D.  As soon as the screen opened with the story and that legendary music, I was emotional.  Would it live up to my expectations?

The story covers a disheartened Stormtrooper called Finn (played by John Boyega) who doesn’t agree with the First Order and their slaughter of innocents.  He meets up with Poe and they escape together only to crash again later.

Meanwhile Poe’s droid (who contains a key part of a map to the location of Luke Skywalker) meets Ray, a scavenger played by Daisy Ridley, who likes the droid and after rescuing him allows him to hang around with her.  

When Finn’s plane crashes he cannot find Poe but only his jacket so he puts it on and it’s not long before he bumps into Ray and the droid.  Pretending to be from the resistance they steal a ship to get off Jakku.  This ship is the Millennium Falcon.  Of course Star Wars fans already know this.

It is exciting when Han Solo makes his entrance alongside Chewbacca.  He is just as loveable as we remember.  And again when we see Princess Leia – although she is now General Leia rather than a princess.  Poor Carrie Fisher has moved on from a gold bikini to a dull boiler suit.  

The First Order are styled very much on Hitler and the Third Reich.  The flags, the hats, even the way they deliver a speech.  A key player in the First Order is Kylo Ren, who is torn between the darkside and the light.  Sound familiar?

There are many similarities between this film and Star Wars IV – A New Hope, I especially noticed the bar scene comparisons.  This film is full of action and lots of everything you love about Star Wars.  I will not tell you too much of the story otherwise it will be spoilers but this film works because you have all three original main characters (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia played by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher respectively).  These are key to the film as it’s really aimed at people like me.  People who saw and loved Star Wars IV – A New Hope back in 1977.  They are hoping we bring our kids – we buy the merchandise – and share the love of Star Wars for future generations.

I am pleased and grateful to say the audience I shared this experience with were quiet and respectful.  There was no talking.  No popcorn crunching.  No chair kicking.  No irritated children.  It was bliss.  Maybe parents don’t want to spend almost £20 a ticket to a child who doesn’t love it?  Whatever the reasons I was grateful to be immersed into the film.

Did I laugh?  Yes. Did I cry?  Absolutely.  Did it have action?  Undoubtedly.  Should you go and see it?  Without a doubt.  This film is the stuff of legends.



Sunday, 6 December 2015

Is The Clothes Show still in Vogue?

The Clothes Show was a hugely successful TV show in the 1980’s.  It was so successful that they turned it into a live annual event.  The Clothes Show is no longer screened but The Clothes Show Live has grown and developed into a huge pilgrimage for all shoppers.

For someone who was there at one of the first Clothes Show Live events and watched the TV show avidly during those early years; I can honestly say I am a veteran of shopping.  I still strut like I’m on a catwalk every time I hear that iconic tune by the Pet Shop Boys.  So of course I go every year to  The Clothes Show Live and adore it.  It’s a place where you can get the most up to date clothes, see couture up close and new and upcoming designers.  Of course there is also a huge make-up section and the best part is the catwalk show.
So I ask you…do you want £75 of make-up for £10?  Do you want to find unusual pieces that no one else will be wearing?  Do you want to wear high fashion before it hits the shops?  Do you want to see an amazing show of dancers and models strutting their stuff?  Of course you do!

However this year I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.  Here are my reasons why.

1.    The tickets are going up each year but we only seem to be offered deals such as 3 for 2 after we have already bought the tickets.  There is no reward for loyalty for those like me who go each year and they have stopped the deals of getting something free with the tickets (for example I have previously had free eye lashes with the tickets)

2.    The floor this year was much smaller than previous years.  It did not extend as big as in previous years and the stalls had much more space in between them.  This meant not as much choice as previous years.

3.    The stall holders were complaining of how much it costs to have a stall.  One stall holder told me it was £350 per square foot.  That’s a lot of product that needs to sell if they want to keep returning each year.

4.    It wasn’t that crowded.  I personally like that but worry that if the stall holders do not make their money back – even less will apply to come next year and The Clothes Show will slowly die.

5.    This year there was no couture section and the designer section was rather poor.  Although the university section is always popular I do think it is not an appeal to most of the general public

6.    Many ‘famous’ people attend such as Joey Essex and some internet sensations.  I am sure this is great for those of a younger generation but for serious shoppers like me I wish that they would keep a corner of the floor for them rather than having to fight through crowds of screaming kids..

I am a dedicated follower of The Clothes Show and the pièce de résistance is always the show.  This year they did excel themselves.  Each year there is a theme and this year the theme was The Empires.  What a show!  It felt like Star Wars meets Divergent with a bit of The Hunger Games thrown in for good measure!  The fashions are everything you grow to expect and want to see at a catwalk.  And it’s not just models.  These people can not only strut along a catwalk but dance too.  Forget Strictly – this is pure class.  It really did make up for some of the disappointment of this year’s event.
Will I be going next year?  Probably.  But I do hope it pulls its socks/stockings/flares (input what is in vogue here) next year.  It is in need of a review if it wants to survive instead of milking everyone for money.  We are not just buying a ticket – but an experience.  Please Clothes Show – deliver us our dream shopping experience and I will be first in the queue.