The Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, Leavesden

_mg_1749

Around 10 days before I was due to fly out to the UK, I saw a tweet from @DaddyBird about a Hogwarts castle being built as part of a Harry Potter studio tour in the UK. Quickly looking it up, I was excited to find the attraction was opening up on March 31, 2012. And I’d be in the UK till April 6. Perfect.

Hey, not so fast missy. Things are rarely perfect.

To my utter dismay, when I looked at the official website, tickets were sold out till the end of April. What? I fired off an email to the customer service contact asking how I could overcome this obstacle, and they replied rather promptly (I think all their CS reps have been trained in the art of dealing with rabid Harry Potter fans). I was told I could either keep trying on the official website because sometimes slots do open up, or he pointed me to third-party operators that have a certain number of tickets for each day allocated to them already.

I decided to wait for the official website for a variety of reasons, and for 5-6 days I kept clicking, refreshing and shaking my fist at my laptop until…tickets were available on April 2!

I bought myself tickets faster than a motorist in Dubai can honk after a traffic light turns green.

On that day, I was so excited you’d think I was going to study at Hogwarts myself. Watford Junction is only 20 minutes away from Euston (and I think it’s £6 return with a 16-25 railcard), and there’s a bus that stops outside Watford Junction that takes people to the tour site (it’s a £2 return for that).

I won’t say much though, other than I’d advise you to buy the tickets for the earlier time slot during the day. I had the 3:30pm ones, and because I was listening to the audio guide narrated by Tom Felton (highly recommended btw) and taking so many photographs, I had to rush through the end bits, which I was very disappointed about.

But it was an absolutely amazing experience, and I ended up spending nearly £100 in the souvenir shop at the end of the tour. Absolutely amazeballs.

View all the photographs I took at the tour here!

_mg_1745
Advertisements

Movie review: Avengers Assemble

When Loki decides to attack Earth, it’s up to the superheroes, Captain American, Iron Man, Thor, and Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, along with the Black Widow, to step in and fight alongside Nick Fury.

That’s quite a few massive egos in one team. How does that work out?

Quite well actually, and one of the main reasons for this is that Joss Whedon, who was at the director’s helm, is a genius. 

It’s not easy to bring together four big guns into one ensemble, and then mix them with equally important supporting characters, and make it a success. But that’s exactly what Whedon does. Creator of the hit TV show Buffy along with Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse, Whedon has spun together a believable and strong tale of action, adventure, and lots of humour thrown in generously. And to no one’s surprise, every character has their own part to play, with no one cutting in to another’s role.

Robert Downey Jr.’s deprecating charm and wit is out there as always, and he’s managed to deliver his role as Iron Man/Tony Stark with an ease many would envy. Not just a comic element, his role portrays emotional power as well. Chris Evans does well as Captain America, although his perfection can seem annoying at some times. Chris Hemsworth is still rocking the Asgardian armour as Thor, delivering a strong and stable performance. Mark Ruffalo is perhaps the surprise as Bruce Banner. In his Banner role, he seems vulnerable, yet sweet, making a great contrast with his angry green half. And their chemistry together is amazing, which makes it all the more exciting to watch.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is evil to the core, making it great fun to watch them try to defeat him. His complicated, twisted mind has been shown well. 

Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D. is suitably dangerous. Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow perhaps echoes more to those familiar with the Whedonverse of strong, intelligent women who have an emotional side. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye had a smaller role but did it well, although a backstory there would’ve been more interesting. 

There are many scenes that lend themselves to a laughing audience, or one gripping their seats. I shall not, however, spoil it for you. There are alien races apart from the Asgardians, there are some absolutely hilarious comic moments – even during the climax action scenes – and there are some losses.

I saw the movie in 3D, and after the initial discomfort that sets in, I actually forgot I was watching it in 3D. I think though, that that’s what one needs: watching 3D and forgetting it’s in that format and immersing in the movie and how good it looks, without worrying whether the alien is going to fly straight towards your nose or not.

The movie may be slightly longer than most, at just over two hours, but is a fine amount of time to develop the story well and leave the audience waiting for more. And it’s not the CGI that dictates the flow of the movie, and for that I’m extremely thankful.

It’s a dysfunctional motley of heroes we’ve got, but they put on a show. And what a show it is, conducted by the ring leader, Joss Whedon, who must really take a bow for his accomplishment.

A super-hero film that relies on great acting, fine direction and a whole lot of gritty pizzazz. Watch this movie, because it’s one of those rare gems that really does live up to your expectations.

 

How to cosplay like Princess Leia

Dsc_2644

Photograph courtesy Muzammil Majeed

A historic event happened just two weeks ago – the first Middle East Film and Comic Con took place in Dubai, UAE.

See all the pictures from the two-day event here.

I won’t go into detail about what happened; I’m hoping the pictures are sufficient. I will say though, that if you like John Rhys-Davies, Luciana Carro, Jason Momoa, Mark Sheppard and Max Landis, you WILL enjoy those photographs.

The second day of the event, I’d decided to cosplay as Princess Leia from Star Wars.

After months of being asked the same question over and over again when…wait, just read:

XYZ-person: “Oh are you cosplaying for MEFCC?”
Me: “Yes! As Princess Leia.”
*pause*
XYZ-person: “The…uhh…gold bikini?”

I quickly learned my answer needed to be this: “Yes! As Princess Leia from A New Hope, NOT the Jabba’s lair version.”

I still got gold bikini comments though. 

Img_2438

Photograph courtesy Carlin Gerbich

So HOW does one get the Princess Leia look?

First, don’t do what I did, which was make my Mom run around Dubai’s shops looking for a white dress that could work. For one, that can make your Mom slightly annoyed (mine wasn’t thank goodness, but I could sense through the Force she was soon to be), and second, you will not find it even if you do look. Honestly, we looked and looked and looked, and NOTHING looked right.

What you should do instead is this:

  • Google Image Search “Princess Leia white dress” and print off images that look closest to the look you want and as large as possible
  • Procure a mother like mine who, without me asking her, comes up to me and hands me her 6-yard white sari and says, “Make your dress from this.” Alternatively, go to Meena Bazaar or Satwa and find white cloth. Coz let’s face it, my Mom is something awesome.
  • Also buy “butter crepe” the same colour as your dress material, for lining.

AND NOW FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT:

  • Call this number 050 349 2209 or email bhambra.preeti@gmail.com. Save this number because it is the single most important thing this blog post is giving you. That number will lead you to Mrs Rani Kaur, who is my friend Gurvinder aka Preeti Bhambra’s mother, who stitches like something out of a dream. Her fitting is perfect, her ability to sense what you want and how you want it is impeccable, and it doesn’t cost you a bomb.

Img_2446

Photograph courtesy Carlin Gerbich

She took one look at the photographs, and I could see her creative brain whirring away. I came back a few days later and the dress was ready! Also, the belt I used is Gurvinder’s, so having cool friends with awesome accessories also helps.

Now for the hair.

  • Find a friend like Shruti who, like my mother, just comes up to me and says, “Find me a YouTube tutorial and I’ll do your hair.”
  • Find one that involves socks. Like this:
  • Realize that while it takes three minutes in the video, it will actually take close to an hour.
  • Find clean socks.
  • Become the Princess when the buns are done!

It was a lot of fun cosplaying; also because so many people recognized who I was meant to be, and came up to me. I took pictures with Yoda, Chewbacca, along with random visitors at the event who asked if they could click my picture, if I could stand in a picture alongside their kids (yes, really!), and the best part was when two people came up to me at different times and said, “Your costume is the best we’ve seen throughout the event.”

And for that, I shall thank (in Oscar-acceptance speech style): my Mom for the white sari and introducing me to Star Wars, my friend Gurvinder and her Mom for the awesome work on creating the dress, and Shruti for completing the final piece of the Leia puzzle and making me rock my buns.

In other news, Star Wars day is coming up… May The Fourth…and there’s an event to celebrate it. Click this link for more info on NerdyCon DXB 2012. I’ll be there, though not in costume. I’ll be in one of my awesome MEFCC t-shirts I bought: “Luke Habibi I am your father” or “Shou Droids?”

See you there, and may the Force be with you. Always.