Showing posts from 2007

Season's greetings

Well, that's it for 2007... Today's the last day of work before our 2-week holiday break and in that time I'll be taking a break from blogging as well. So let me take this opportunity to wish all my loyal blog readers (and anyone else who happens to stumble across a very merry Christmas, happy holidays and a fantastic new year.

See you in 2008!

But before I leave you, here are stills from some of the best / coolest / most striking / most entertaining movie releases in South Africa in 2007, bearing in mind there's still a few more weeks to go in the year. Out of interest, my Worst Movie of the Year Award has to go to Ghost Rider.

Mad for the holidays

Looking for something lightweight and fun to read this festive break?

If you, like me, are tired of the forced fanboyism of so many video game publications, bored by the in-your-face sexuality of Cosmo and FHM, laugh at all the "get a 6-pack" mags as you tuck into your third helping of Christmas trifle, and have dumped YOU and Heat's outdated gossip for the daily skandaal of Perez Hilton, then perhaps you should pick up the Summer 2007 issue of Mad Magazine?

Contents for this issue include:

- Harry Plodder and the Torture of the Fanbase
- Boo (a 300 spoof)
- Spider-Sham 3
- A Simple Prison Break Life
- Everyday pet peeves of the Transformers
- The "Secret"
- The Believability / unbelievability of Harry Potter
- A Mad look at Mixed Martial Arts
- A Mad look at Spiderman
- Don't you hate when your parents...
- Things shouted out to Paris Hilton as she left jail
- If chickens could time travel

Why so serious? The Dark Knight draws near

Not exactly the latest news, but here's a little online Christmas pressie for you - a collection of US and International posters recently revealed for Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight. The following were all originally found on SuperheroHype.

I was in the minority opinion group when Batman Begins came out - I just found the film so generic, both in comparison to director Christopher Nolan's other work, and in comparison to Tim Burton's flavoursome original Batman (for the record, I'm a long-time Batman fan, dating back to the early 1990s). Begins was OK, but nothing definitive. It had no bite, no edge. In trying to make Batman "realistic" so much of the universe, and its iconic villains, were blunted. As a result I'm very cautiously optimistic about The Dark Knight.

Anyway, I'll reserve any further commentary for the first Trailer Tuesday of the new year, when The Dark Knight trailer will be put up here. However, if you can't wait till then, yo…

Sam & Max reviewed... and must-play games of 2007 I missed

We started FINALLY playing Sam & Max Season 1 this weekend. For anyone looking for a break from tedious shooters, intense immersive RPGs and sword-slashing action, Sam & Max is a refreshing change – a genuinely funny game.

The puzzle solving that dominates the gameplay – there are a few comical driving stages where Sam & Max rear-end cars and shoot out tail lights in order to give drivers obscene fines – can be a bit of a brain strain, so I recommend playing the game with a partner to ease the mental load. Working together, the boyfriend and I were able to complete the first of 6 episodes in a few hours.

In fact, Sam & Max Season 1 is what I would call the perfect couples game. It isn’t co-op, but you’re working together towards a common goal without the tension of depleting life bars or collapsing armies. Comedy Adventure games are light on player punishment, if sometimes mentally frustrating (resist the urge to consult a walk-through!), so they’re an ideal way to get…

Trailer Tuesday: Speed Racer

So you thought The Matrix's creators, the Wachowski brothers were one-trick ponies who would vanish after the 2 incomprehensible sequels? Well, no they haven't. The Wachowskis are back, applying their FX-heavy brand of film-making to a big screen adaptation of Speed Racer, the hit anime series from the 1960s.

Watching this trailer, well, I really don't know what to say... It seems that the Wachowkis - working completely with green screen in Speed Racer - have beaten the Dragon Ball Z creative team to making the first "authentic" live action anime film. Speed Racer looks 100% trippy - it's hyper-stylised, love-it-or-hate-it movie making that is either going to send audiences wild, or leave them completely alienated.

Big name critics I'm sure will be repulsed by the bright colours, stilted (typically anime) dialogue and impossible action.

Personally, I'm not a big anime fan. I grew up watching Robotech, and I followed the Dragon Ball Z story arc where Go…

Christmas spending tips

OK, perhaps this post is a tad late... or perhaps not. There's now 10 shopping days till Christmas. If you still need to get organised/motivated, perhaps there's some advice you can use here...


With interest rates hikes, massive spikes in petrol and food prices, as well as the new threat of armed robberies at shopping malls, many South Africans have found the Christmas cheer knocked out of them like a punch to the gut. The festive season has become a time where a lot of people succumb to despair, or go completely overboard, getting themselves into a vicious cycle of debt.

I do think the temptation exists to go overboard. I’m proud of myself for getting organised early on and keeping things under control this year, without succumbing to excessive spending. (Pity the bf hasn't done any of this shopping yet, so all my carefully crafted plans to avoid the shopping mall madness have been for naught). Ho hum:(

Anyway, here goes...

1) There’s nothing worse than …

Whip cracking fun!

The first piece of offical poster art for the fourth Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull popped up online the other day.

Here it is off the Ain't It Cool News site:

Although the intrepid archeologist is looking a tad more weathered in the pic, the backlit approach reminds me a lot of the poster art for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

To accompany the release of the poster USA Today has run a First Look article on the new movie. You can read the piece here, but some bits and pieces of info revealed in it include:

- Indy won't be fighting Nazis this time around. Now he's taking on Soviet operatives at the height of the Cold War (The movie is set in 1957).
- Indy's adventures will take him to New Mexico, Connecticut, Mexico City and the jungles of Peru.
- Cate Blanchett is playing seductive Soviet agent, Agent Spalko.
- The Crystal Skull of the title refers to South American artifacts that supposedly have supernatural powers, and attrac…

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

A few days early (got to accommodate everyone's schedules), but this year's Christmas tree is up...

And captured sans camera flash:

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass suffers from the same problem that’s already affected many of the Harry Potter films: in adapting author Philip Pullman’s hefty fantasy novel, the movie comes across as a rushed highlights package.

Scenes jump from one to the next without giving the audience a chance to process what’s happening, or even a chance to develop an emotional connection with the characters. It’s highly likely that people who have read the book, myself included, will have a better grasp of the plot as well as the alternate universe the characters inhabit.

Speaking of which, it’s important to know that The Golden Compass takes place in a world where every person’s soul manifests itself as a lifelong animal companion, called a daemon. It’s also a world where immortal witches and talking polar bears co-exist, and a sinister dictatorial body, the Magisterium, is trying to tighten its control over the free thinking minds of humanity.

In this context, feisty orphan Lyra (Dakota Blue Richa…

Trailer Tuesday: The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian

Family fantasy, for better or worse, is big right now.

I adored The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 3 years back, and coming in May 2008 is Prince Caspian, the second big screen adaptation of CS Lewis's Narnia Chronicles.

In a nod to the legend of King Arthur, this time Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are called back to the fantasy kingdom when their help is most needed. You see, despite only a year passing in our world, over a thousand years have passed in Narnia - and in that time humans have colonised the country, Aslan has been forgotten and all the magical creatures have retreated into hiding to become the subject of myth.

When the young rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian, starts following the ways of Aslan it pits him (and his ragtag army of dwarves, fauns, talking mice and other fantasy beasties) against his evil uncle, King Miraz and his superior Telmarine forces.

Of course, Prince Caspian the book isn't quite at the level of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe …

Pop Culture munchies of the last 3 days

*Takes deep breath, then repeats mantra* Just 9 more working days till Christmas shutdown.

Anyway, in terms of my pop culture consumption this weekend, on Friday evening I watched The Golden Compass. You can expect my full review up here soon but the summary version is that the film is good, not excellent. It's beautifully filmed, the special effects are fantastic, and the casting is spot-on, but like some of the Harry Potter films, it feels a bit too much like a highlights package. Some moments stand out (2 battle sequences especially) but as a whole the film just doesn't emotionally involve the viewer is it rushes from scene to scene.

Otherwise, a good portion of my wet Saturday and not-so-wet Sunday was spent playing World of WarCraft.

Here's Herkon the Blood Elf Paladin - looking just a tad more masculine in his new technicolour armour.

And here's Euridycce the Undead Warlock - who, despite looking all brown and scruffy, is incredibly wealthy and has now overtaken …

Festive Friday

I actually had a more substantial post planned for this morning but thanks to multiple accidents and road closures in the Durban rain, I've only just arrived at work, having sat in traffic for over an hour (double the length of my normal commute).

I don't know what it is but the day part of Friday is rapidly establishing itself as my worst day of the week. If it isn't traffic calamities, there's normally some crappy task I get lumped with on a Friday - usually proofing - which plunges me into a black mood, and spoils my day.

Anyway, onto more cheerful matters...

When it comes to Christmas decorations and putting up a Christmas tree, everyone follows a different tradition. Some people will have theirs up already, some will put up everything on Christmas Eve and some (like my family) will decorate their home 10 days before Christmas, and take everything down 10 days after the 25 December.

Of course, there seems to be a disappointing counter-Christmas movement taking shape wh…

Books we keep on rereading

I was surprised at just how accurate I found the following list of Most Reread Books, compiled by Costa, a UK coffee shop chain. Out of the top 20, I've read 11 once and out of that 11, I've read 5 of them more than once.


1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
2. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
6. 1984 by George Orwell
7. Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
8. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
10. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
11. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
12. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
13. Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews
14. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
16. The Bible
17. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
18. Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
19. Gone with th…

What's your game?

Blizzard has recruited some big guns to promote their super smash hit PC game, World of WarCraft - the no. 1 MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) in the world, with over 9 million subscribers.

Pop culture icons, Mr T and William Shatner feature in 2 new commercials for the game. I'm not so keen on the Shatner commercial, but the Mr T one is great. "Shut up fool!"

Meanwhile I'm trying to get my second character, undead warlock Euridycce, up to level 30 before Paul returns (I'm on the crest of reaching level 29). It's a major distraction though when I still have a "creative" Christmas present - a photo collage - to put together in the evenings.

Trailer Tuesday: 10,000 BC

Every so often an intriguing film sneaks up on me without me even knowing of its existence. 10,000 BC is one of those films - I was utterly blown away by the teaser trailer 2 weeks back when I saw it for the first time at the cinema.

I received a very strong Stargate vibe from the trailer (well, when the military arrive in the Ancient Egypt universe, anyway) and this is understandable when you realise that 10,000 BC is from Stargate director Roland Emmerich, the man also responsible for Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow.

Given this pedigree, you can probably expect 10,000 BC to be overblown in all aspects, as well as very emotionally cheesy. But you know what? I don't care. I happily gobble up epic "pre-history" action adventure - I loved Apocalypto and Conan the Barbarian. And 10,000 BC - with its cast of unknowns, and storyline centred on a young mammoth hunter's attempt to save his tribe from extinction - looks absolutely stunning.

10,000 BC is released o…

Dudeity and the rest of the weekend

I'm still deciding what kicked off the recent splurge in movie dudeity - Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom in Troy perhaps? - but male skin baring has popped up prominently in 2 "epic" Hollywood blockbusters in 2007. As a result I'm still pondering who is the more badass (hmmm) hero: Leonidas or Beowulf, who both have the habit of rushing into combat almost to completely nude.

This deep philosophical brooding fuelled the latest Girlz 'N' Games comic, which kept me busy for a good portion of Friday and Saturday evening.

Otherwise my weekend was a pretty quiet one: baked choc chip cookies, played World of WarCraft, caught some sun, visited family, and Skype chatted to Paul (who is STILL going on about all the hot Chilean girls after him). Grumble grumble.

I also rewatched The Neverending Story for the first time in years, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it still holds up despite it being 23 years old (the film was originally released in 1984). The character…

Watchmen and Indy

I get pretty tired of always having to explain to clueless people what graphic novels are. But my enthusiasm always perks up when I get to talk about Watchmen, probably the greatest superhero-focused graphic novel ever created - written by Alan Moore, drawn by Dave Gibbons, and only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present."

Anyway 300 director Zack Snyder is hard at work in Canada on the big screen adaptation of Watchmen, and some new set pics are up on the official Watchmen movie site. Fans of Moore and Gibbon's work will be blown away by the minute attention to detail - though nit-pickers may notice that the couple-embracing silhouette graffitti is missing, as is the nuclear car chargers. This truly is the Watchmen world (an alternate take on the 1980s) brought to life!

Click here to see more pics. Watchmen is set for release in June 2009.


Now let's move onto the latest addition t…

Tequila is the Devil's breast milk

Please excuse me if I'm a little subdued on the blogging side of things today.

Last night was our company's "Wear a festive hat" Christmas / end-of-year lunch, held at Harvey Wallbangers in Durban North. It was a "lunch" that ran past 9pm. It was one hell of a good time (and surprisingly controlled, even if a company bigwig licked my palm), with excellent food, drink and company. It was also easily the most drunk I've ever been.

The advertising industry has often been presented as a collective of deranged and egotistical creative types fuelled by a cocktail of booze and illicit drugs. The drugs part is mostly a lie these days, but there's one fundamental requirement for people considering a career in advertising and marketing: the ability to drink!

I didn't have to drive last night, and I'm still pissed off at being boyfriendless for another 10 or so days (on top of 6 weeks already, hmph), so I could afford to let myself go a bit.

So there was…

The Magic Cape Race... you have been warned

So I watched The Magic Cape Race last night on SABC3, and yes, it is as big a botch-up as I thought it would be. I understand that the makers would have to be careful of infringing too much on The Amazing Race’s format, or face legal action, but there are some basic, fundamental errors made.

The main one is that the series is completely devoid of character. The Amazing Race introduces the competitors taking part: You learn that Dad A is away on business trips frequently and rarely spends time with his family; you learn that Mom B is a widow struggling financially to raise 3 kids, and you learn that Brothers C aren’t exactly enthusiastic about their youngest sibling coming out of the closet. This kind of information, whether dropped in tidbits, or painted in broad strokes, gets the viewer emotionally involved – for better or worse.

It’s no fault of the local competitors in The Magic Cape Race, but they’re presented sans personality or motivation. The series creators might as well have g…

Brace yourself for.... the Magic Cape Race!

In a new low for South African television, it turns out that we have an uber-lame local reality series starting tonight on SABC3 at 19:30: The Magic Cape Race.

Yes, you read that stupid title correctly.

You see, instead of letting us jump from the season finale of Survivor: Cook Islands to the highly anticipated first episode of The Amazing Race: All-Stars, the "brainstrust" at the SABC has decided that it's better if we viewers first endure our very own low budget, local Amazing Race knockoff.

Here's the synopsis:

Find the clues, travel in donkey carts, taxis, buses, cars, bicycles - hitchhike - to get to the next destination - don't be last or you'll be disqualified. Join the race set in the picturesque Cape.

There's very little info available on this series other than it features 10 competing families, will run for at least 4 weeks and is heavily sponsored by Toyota, who are using the show to pimp the new Toyota Corolla Verso.

Reading all this, I'm actua…

Trailer Tuesday: Cloverfield

I've pretty much already posted my thoughts on Cloverfield, the top secret new movie project from Lost creator-producer JJ Abrams. And, honestly, this new trailer hasn't changed my opinion at all.

I've had a few discussions with people about Cloverfield's apparent Blair Witch-style take on urban monster movies, with a focus on affected ordinary people. My personal feelings are that after such an incredible (and frankly inexplicable) hype build-up, the pay-off can be nothing but a let-down. I mean, it's some big monster wrecking New York for goodness sakes - that's a B-movie schlock genre that went out of style with the rise of the contemporary blockbuster. Consider how the 1998 Godzilla remake tanked so royally.

So count me in the unexcited minority when it comes to Cloverfield... which opens in the US on 18 January next year.

The weekend

The weekend played out pretty much as I suspected it would.

Friday evening was dinner with friends (with lots of video game discussion) followed by movies at a surprisingly quiet Musgrave. You can read my review of Beowulf below. I arrived home to find a massive box from Figure Fanatix on my bed. Turns out that Paul was attempting to cheer me up from afar with a gift – a Nightmare Before Christmas snow globe. Naturally it now occupies a place of honour alongside my PC monitor.

Saturday was spent at the Submission Wrestling Tournament in Durban. I hadn’t slept very well the night before because of nerves, but it turns out that all the stress and additional training was unnecessary because not a single woman competitor pitched. Why is it that women are such faders when it comes to sporting commitment? Anyway, as usual I did my bit, keeping track of the tables, collecting the entry fees and score keeping. I got a free competitor’s T-shirt out of it, and everyone got to watch some intense, …