Showing posts from July, 2007

Trailer Tuesday: Beowulf

Beowulf is based on the 11th Century Anglo-Saxon Epic poem, focusing on Scandanavian hero Beowulf and his encounters with various monsters... including a dragon. The story has been adapted for the big screen a handful of times, but this time it's Robert Zemeckis in the director's chair with author Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery behind the screenplay. The film also features an all-star cast, including Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Crispin Glover and John Malkovich.

As Zemeckis did with Polar Express and Monster House, Beowulf was filmed live action, performance captured and then CGIed over - a technique called digitally enhanced live action, according to Wikipedia.

It's an interesting choice of approach, and I'm quite excited to see the finished film, despite the fact that I'm not that familiar with the epic poem on which Beowulf is based. Oh, and and apparently it's going to be PG-13, so don't be expecting copious amounts of …

Down for the count

The weekend started well enough – a few glasses of red wine, a juicy slab of rump steak and more World of WarCraft.

Things headed rapidly downhill though from about 3am on Saturday morning, with a phonecall. Paul’s 86 year old grandfather, who had last month moved to frail care from the family home, was on oxygen, lapsing in and out of consciousness and asking for Paul’s father. Paul’s father rushed to the home to find Paul’s grandfather completely unresponsive – this after he’d been having mini-strokes, and getting progressively weaker for a few weeks now. Before Paul could get his just-woken gran to the home, his grandfather passed away, probably around 4am.

Death is really weird if you think about it. One second a person is there and then they’re gone forever. It just doesn’t really register at the time. And life around you just carries on perfectly normally like any other day.

Whether it was a good or bad thing, we couldn’t take it easy on Saturday. Functioning on 5 hours sleep for …

Family Guy Friday: The Picnic

There are a lot of people out there who don't like Renée Zellweger - some even going so far as to dub her "She Who Must Not Be Named". Whether it's her squeaky strained voice, her podgy cheeks, or her squinty eyes, she seems to grate a lot of people... including Family Guy's Peter Griffin, who insists that with her squishy face she's better suited as a best friend onscreen than the lead.

Anyway, here's your standard Renée Zellweger Romantic Comedy, as envisioned by the Family Guy writers...

Watchmen official casting, and Harry Potter casting rumours squashed

Alright, I've been sitting on this info since the beginning of the week but up until this point the announcements haven't been official. Now they are!

The Hollywood Reporter has the list of who's playing who in Zack Snyder's ambitious film adaptation of Watchmen, arguably the greatest superhero-themed graphic novel ever written (from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons).

Here's an extract from the Hollywood Reporter article, highlighting the plot and cast:

Set in an alternate America, "Watchmen" follows costumed hero Rorschach, who is living a vigilante lifestyle because most masked heroes have retired or been outlawed. While investigating a murder, Rorschach learns that a former masked-hero colleague has been killed, prompting him to begin investigating a possible conspiracy.

Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children) will play Walter Kovacs, aka Rorschach, who ignores the ban on costumed vigilantes.

Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Big Fish) will play Dr. Manhattan, a superpo…

Andre the hilarious hypnotist, and more

Much to my surprise, yesterday I landed complementary tickets to the opening night of Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist’s annual Durban run. I guess sometimes it does pay to forward on promotional emails. Anyway, I’m sure the dishing out of free tickets for the first evening is largely to get the word out, so yeah, I’ll do my bit here.

This is my second year of watching the show when it’s in town. If you’re a returnee like me then you’ll quickly realise that Andre tends to stick to the same routine. However, it’s not so much the hypnotist you come to see as it is all the people who rush up onto stage to be hypnotised. With different people every time, each show is different.

And man, oh man, is it funny. Hypnotism seems to have the usual effect of stripping people of their inhibitions and regulators over their prejudices. Some participants speak garbled nonsense as if they’re in a dream state. So last night we had a participant believing he was an accomplished French artist, another rippin…

And the new Punisher is...

Titus Pullo! Rome'sRay Stevenson is pulling on the skull T-shirt to replace Thomas Jane in Punisher 2, based on Marvel's vicious anti-hero vigillante, Frank Castle.

I'm very happy with this casting. As Rome proved, British Stevenson can easily pull off big, bulky and badass without sacrificing likeability. You can read more about the actor here.

Trailer Tuesday: Trick 'r Treat

There's been a lot of positive buzz swirling around the Internet about Trick 'r Treat, a horror film from writer-director, Michael Dougherty, the screenwriter behind X-Men 2 and Superman Returns. Good friend and frequent collaborator Bryan (Usual Suspects, X-Men 2) Singer is producing. Plus it's from Legendary Pictures in collaboration with Warner Bros, so you know it has a solid pedigree.

And honestly, watching this trailer, the movie looks great - far more creative, polished and retro-feeling than most horror flicks these days, which just seem to resort to degrading torture-porn to shock audiences. And, apparently, as an added bonus, Trick 'r Treat also includes that element that is even rarer in horror today - a healthy sense of offbeat humour.

Here's the Trick 'r Treat plot synopsis, with involves four interwoven stories that occur in one small town on Halloween:

It is said that Halloween is the night when the dead rise to walk among us and other unspeakable…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Probably the biggest problem with the Harry Potter films is that very often they feel like a highlights package of the much heftier novel on which they are based. Goblet of Fire, especially, felt rushed, as if the film makers were trying to squeeze in as many fan favourite moments as possible – without letting the audience digest the leisurely unfolding mystery at the heart of the storyline.

Order of the Phoenix is a much longer Potter book than Goblet. Yet, as a film adaptation, it does not feel nearly as rushed. Sure, certain characters and events are whittled down or absent – Auror Tonks has essentially a cameo appearance – but you rarely feel like you’re being goose-stepped through the wizarding world on a very tight leash.

It probably helps that Phoenix is based on the darkest of the Potter books (and my favourite) – where Harry is feeling most frustrated, angry and alienated. While director David Yates steers clear of Harry’s jarring in-book tantrums, he very cleverly positions …

Phew, I'm here

God, if the start to the day is any indication, this is going to be one of "Those Mondays" - a lost protein drink shaker, and 2 traffic jams caused by a broken down bus and badly signposted roadworks, respectively.

Anyway, my Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie review is coming (the short version: the BEST of the Potter flicks), but in the meanwhile here are some promised screenshots of my World of WarCraft character, a Level 15 Orc Hunter, Bestilla.

She's flying here on a hired mount between cities, so naturally you don't see her "pet" boar, Rawg.

And I must say that I've discovered the advantage of playing a Horde race (Undead, Orc, Tauren, Troll, Blood Elf) as opposed to Alliance (Human, Dwarf, Gnome, Night Elves, Draenei) - even if you're playing a female character, you're so ugly that you're never hit on by the equally unattractive player characters.

Well, maybe Blood Elves are an exception...

Oh, and I picked up my copy of Har…

Family Guy Friday: D&D

OK, let's try to get another weekly tradition doing on this blog: Family Guy Friday!

I'm a huge fan of this cult animated comedy series, which had a blink-and-you miss-it First Season run on South African television a few years back. The series is available locally on DVD but I find its general obscurity really sad because it proves that Saffies can't cope with subversive adult cartoons in prime time (with the exception of the increasingly tame Simpsons, of course).

I don't know what it is about the show but clearly a lot of children and teens of the 1980s are involved in its making - episodes are heavily flavoured with skewed pop culture references to the period (everything pops up from Mr Belvedere to The Goonies to Thundercats). Personally I receive a real warm, fuzzy nostalgia kick from such moments.

Anyway, you can now look forward to one of Family Guy's trademark cutaway moments every Friday morning right here. If you have any specific requests, please contact …

Entertainment updates

Hmmm, nothing much happening at all in Entertainment Land at the moment...

SuperheroHype posted up a new fuller synopsis for Watchmen - for those of you chumps who have been too lazy to read the greatest graphic novel of all time. A reminder is that the film adaptation, directed by 300's Zack Snyder, should be coming out in US Summer next year.

"Watchmen" is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" – which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union – is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing c…

Die Hard 4.0

Die Hard 4.0 (alternate title: Live Free or Die Hard) is actually best action film of the year so far. It’s largely a throw back to the overblown, hyper-destructive action flicks of the 1990s – although with 21st Century inclusions like heavy doses of CGI wizardry and always impressive free-running stunt work.

I’ve never been a massive fan of the Die Hard series. Although I’ve seen all 3 previous films they just never made any real impact on me. This time, though, I received a real sense of why Bruce Willis’s John McClane is such a popular character. It’s largely because he’s the most vulnerable and street-smart of action heroes. McClane’s not just flying fists and shoot outs. He’s a wise-cracking urban survivalist who will use anything at his disposal to come out on top.

Of course, as an ordinary working class guy he lacks a certain finesse in pulling off his moves. It really wouldn’t be a Die Hard film if John McClane didn’t reach the end of the movie without torn, oily clothes, a li…

Trailer Tuesday: Cloverfield AKA 1-18-08 AKA Slusho AKA JJ Abrams sci-fi flick

The online geek community has been going ga-ga for this teaser trailer first attached to Transformers. It's for the latest as-yet-unnamed film project from producer JJ Abrams, the creator of Alias and Lost.

The film, which usually adopts its 18 January 2008 release date as its title (in fact, 1-18-08 is the current official site), is shrouded in mystery. The most that can be said of it is that it's sci-fi, filmed in the hand-held camera style of the trailer. Well, this is according to Wikipedia at least.

I can't say I was particularly blown away by the trailer. Sure it's keeping all the trump cards clasped closely to its chest, so I may be totally off-track in terms of my first impressions, but I'm really getting a "Blair Witch meets Godzilla" vibe from the trailer. Unknowns. Shaky camera work. Explosions. Something decapitating the Statue of Liberty. Apart from the clever, enigmatic marketing, I'm not exactly stunned by the originality. Which isn't…

The weekend

As I mentioned on Friday, there was going to be a lot of World of WarCraft playing this weekend. And there certainly was. On both Friday evening and Sunday Paul and I pushed our orcs (Paul’s warrior Owick and my hunter Bestilla) up a few levels and got to the first major Horde city, Orgrimmar – where you get to witness such wonders as a Level 70 Undead Warlock parking his skeletal horse mount halfway up a palm tree.

I also tamed my first pet, a rather useful boar I’ve named Rawg.

Mostly, though, I took to my new professions of skinning and leatherworking with major enthusiasm. I’m already a Journeyman skinner, and I probably would have been even nearer to my next upgrade if I had made the great trek back to the professions trainer closer to the level cap.

I’ll try post up some screencaps next week.

Now in case you think that online gaming is turning me into a cat-arser (love that term!), fear not, because I didn’t even touch a PC on Saturday. It was actually a very busy day out and abou…

Watch out, it's Friday

Quite quiet in entertainment land at the moment. The other day I emailed a message to Watchmen's Rorschach via his online journal:

I just wanted to let you know that I am a great supporter of your work. If only others had your courage…

The masked vigillante's typically clipped response:

thank you.

Anyway, Warner Brothers, who are behind the upcoming Watchmen film, are really pushing the whole viral marketing thing. You see that Rorschach icon on my menu bar? Well, Rorschach, via his blog is encouraging visitors to download the high res version, print it and post it up everywhere. Oh, and Adrian Veidt has a self-help website as well, which Rorschach has apparently been attempting to hack.

EDIT: Ooooh, the plot thickens! Well, according to CHUD, all this mysterious Watchmen hype isn't actually officially sanctioned. Rather, it's the work of a rather ingenious fan with his own marketing company... and clearly a lot of time on his hands.

Anyway, crossing back to real life from t…

A time out, please

OK, I really need a night off – an evening to just curl up under the covers with a mug of Milo and doze off while reading, or watching this week’s episode of Heroes.

You see, I’ve had something on every evening this week and I need a little “Me” time. Plus, I think I need to give my body some time to recuperate. I’m going on a week and a half now of having this terribly annoying tingle in my throat, which keeps making me break out in a dry coughing fit. And it seems to be combined with some kind of one nostril sinus infection which isn’t running, or congesting, or even affecting my senses of smell and taste

Still, I’m tired of being pseudo-sick so I’ve decided to take a break from my daily morning kettlebell routine until I’m 100%.

Anyway, back to this week’s busy evenings so far –

Monday was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as usual.

On Tuesday we did the boyfriend/families thing at the Barnyard Theatre, guzzling pizza while we watched The Buddy Holly Story. It really made a pleasant change to watch a…

Pan's Labyrinth

Innocence Has A Power Evil Cannot Imagine.

I can’t say that Pan’s Labyrinth is the most original film – its fantasy segments draw on instantly recognisable fairy, folk tale and myth motifs (“You are a long lost princess”, “You most compete 3 quests”, “Whatever you do, don’t eat anything from the feast”) .

Not that drawing on these classic tropes is a failing of course (they can clue you to where events are leading though), but Pan’s Labyrinth’s real strength lies in the fact that it truly makes the audience care about characters, and their fates. And that is no doubt helped by natural, unaffected performances across the board.

Pan’s Labyrinth focuses on a young girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baqueroc) who, in post-Civil War Spain, moves with her heavily pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) from the city to a remote country region to live with Carmen’s new husband, the rigid, chauvinistic Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez). Vidal has taken with relish to his task of rooting out Communist rebels hiding in…

This weekend’s pop culture consumption

I wasn’t on the best of moods on Friday evening, but finally watching Monty Python’s Life of Brian, combined with a few glasses of wine and some very unusual shooters (Milo and Stroh rum, Paul?!) was a passable way to spend the time. I still think I prefer Monty Python and The Holy Grail though for being more consistently funny.

On Saturday morning we joined Robin and Yvette for “something completely different” – Pan’s Labyrinth. We thought we better see it on opening week due to the likelihood it’ll be yanked tomorrow or Thursday so that Harry Potter 5 could be screened in 2 cinemas.

Anyway, my review of Pan’s Labyrinth is a full post in its own right (coming tomorrow), so I won’t say anything about it now.

On Saturday evening we finally got around to hiring and watching Thank You For Smoking, the witty look at tobacco lobbying, starring Aaron (Yes, I WAS in The Core) Eckhart. I don’t think it has quite the venomous bite of Lord of War, but the film is definitely part of that same “Make…

Trailer Tuesday: SiCKO

Michael (Bowling for Columbine, Farenheit 9/11) Moore's latest fiery documentary, SiCKO, takes a scalpel to the American for-profit healthcare system and pharmaceutical industry.

Whether you love him for his razor-sharp commentary, or hate him for his sneaky editing and fact-bending, I really think Moore's value lies in how he gets people questioning the status quo. That in itself is a healthy first step towards change (well, in theory anyway). And he always does it in such an entertaining way!

Plus, it's kind of reassuring, if sad, to see that other countries have health insurance systems as predatory as those in South Africa.

SiCKO is currently sitting at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and in limited release has already secured its spot as the 8th highest grossing documentary of all time. No clue yet when SiCKO will be released locally, but I'm certainly looking forward to it.

Cheers, South Africa

Yeah, I know you've probably popped in here for your lighthearted Monday morning entertainment fix - and that will be coming in time - but please bear with me. First up is a personal South African socio-polital rant, because, really, I need to vent.

Last week, the annual South African crime statistics were released. Of course everyone was outraged at the shocking figures, but few were surprised at the dramatic surge in violence.

This figure, after what happened to Paul's family earlier this year, grated me the most... because there can be nothing more devastating than to be threatened and assaulted in your home - your personal, private, "safe" space.

Robberies at residential premises increased by 25.4%.

Another article had this to say, about South African criminals' bizarre, psychopathic preference for violent armed robbery over burglary:

It was a sad reality that the more people increased security measures, the more likely it was for murders and violent crime to occ…


Bah, I’m having little to no luck with the Internet today. So who knows when you’ll read this…

Anyway, as for the coming weekend, I’m planning on largely taking it easy. I woke up this morning with a half-blocked nose and a voice that sounds like Jessica Rabbit’s, if she has been smoking 4 packs a day for a decade… and was now being strangled.

The Durban July, South Africa’s premier horse race is on tomorrow in Durban so we’ll be attempting to stay clear of the city. The roads in the centre of town, and around the racecourse, were horribly jammed last year with assorted socialites and wannabes all dressed up, and on their way to the track. We certainly don’t want to be stuck in all that again.

What we will de going tomorrow morning though is going to the early morning show of Pan’s Labyrinth at Musgrave Ster Kinekor. Both Pan’s Labyrinth and Die Hard 4.0 open today in SA, but we thought we better see the Del Toro film first, seeing as it’s likely to be off circuit by next weekend – there…

Gaming update

I bought the NAG July issue over the weekend, largely because the accompanying DVD included the demo for Overlord – the fantasy action-adventure/real time strategy hybrid that is coming out this month for Xbox and PC.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, largely because I love the idea of its inverted, darkly humorous take on traditional fantasy. Case in point: In the demo you fireball a rogue group of Halflings hiding in a field of corn. One spark, and the entire field is ablaze with shrieking, flame-grilled hobbits. What is more nasty fun than that?

In case you’ve forgotten what Overlord is about, here’s the synopsis:

Controlling a mysterious figure that has inherited the legacy of the evil, long-dead Overlord, the player emerges, near death, from the ruins of the old Overlord's Dark Tower. Only the player's actions determine if they will rise to become the new all-powerful Overlord; it's all down to how much of a bad ass they want to be in order to succe…