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Showing posts from March, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Up

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Clearly 2009 is the year of the curmudgeonly old fart, because not only do we have Clint Eastwood snarling and grumbling his way through Gran Torino, but in Pixar's big release of the year, Up, the main character is a grumpy 78 year old who has seen life pass him by.

Fortunately though,Carl Fredricksen has decided it's time to realise his lifelong dream of travel and adventure, and takes to the skies - by attaching hundreds of balloons to his house. The only problem though is that an overly enthusiastic boyscout has stowed along for the ride.


I must say that this new trailer for Up is far more appealing than the original, almost cryptic teaser (which I'm sure most of you would have seen if you own the Wall-E DVD). Not only does Up look suitably whimsical, but it also seems to have a retro Indiana Jones sense of adventure. Then again, I've always been a sucker for zeppelins and bi-planes. Oh, and big dumb dogs with squirrel obsessions.

Anyway, I'll be very curious to s…

Another weekend blazes past

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And just like that, another weekend has passed by.

Fortunately next weekend is the Easter long weekend (not that I have anything planned), and as of this Friday school holidays kick off for South Africa's coastal provinces for the following 2 weeks. And that means a quieter morning commute for all us rat race participants. Yay.

In terms of my weekend's activities it mostly seemed to be TV and film watching, interspersed with a bit of shopping, some sketching, an overly long stressful farewell at the airport (who knew you could be charged as much as R3000 for excess baggage?), our weekly D&D session and a return to World of WarCraft - where I've decided to eschew tedious daily quests in favour of money making from my alchemy and herbalism professions.

Anyway, we watched several episodes of South Park Season 12. The highlight so far has been Major Boobage, where Kenny becomes addicted to "cheesing" - getting high off cat urine - which transports him to a Heavy …

Movies out today

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There are 4 high profile new releases in South African cinemas today. And after the past few weeks, I'm pleased to report that this batch is pretty critically acclaimed on the whole.

Race to Witch Mountain - This latest family film from Disney stars Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson as a cynical taxi driver who gets roped into a race against time - and the government - when he picks up 2 teenage runaways, who also just so happen to be aliens. Race to Witch Mountain is based on the hit 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain, also from Disney. According to critics the remake lacks the magic of the original, but having never seen that film, I can't compare. To me, Race looks pretty solid, as well as, most importantly, a safe, wholesome option for parents to take their kids to.

39% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - I've profiled this action-horror film before as part of the Trailer Tuesday feature. Basically this third movie in the (surprisingly) popular vampires-v…

Fun for Friday: Movies in one minute, in one take

First there were Movies in 30 Seconds with Bunnies. Now, there are Movies in One Minute, in One Take, coming from a group of (clearly whacked) students from the University of York Filmmaking Society. Have a look - these projects are hilarious... and also very, very clever.

Of course, if you've never seen Forrest Gump or Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, please be aware that the following contains spoilers.



Alice, Alice, who the f&$k is Alice?!

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I've written before about director Tim Burton's highly anticipated new take on Alice in Wonderland, which I believe has finished principal photography and is now well into the post-production stage (to add in all the special effects and stop-motion animation).

Anyway, some new images from the film (mostly concept art) recently appeared online, including this one of Alice herself (played by young Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska).


Check out more of these pics here or, for better quality, here. You see the film, from Disney, was recently profiled in the new Disney magazine, D23.

What was revealed was that the film isn't just a bog standard reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll's original story. Rather, much like the video game American McGee's Alice, and in the same vein as cult 80's classic (and one of my childhood faves!) Return to Oz, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland will feature a new storyline, and see an older Alice returning to a darker, distorted Wonderland. Al…

Trailer Tuesday: Drag Me to Hell

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Drag Me to Hell marks the long awaited return of director Sam Raimi to the horror genre. For the past few years Raimi’s been kept busy (for better or worse) by the Spider-Man trilogy, but before that he was best known as the man responsible for the cult Evil Dead series, which melded horror with off-the-wall comedy. Raimi has also served as producer on such spooky flicks as The Grudge, Boogeyman and The Messengers.

Given his pedigree it’s unsurprising then that fanboys are seriously amped for Raimi’s latest. And even though I am definitely not an Evil Dead fan (there were waay too many WTF moments in that trilogy for me!), I'm actually very keen for Drag Me to Hell.

For the record, early buzz has been very good for Drag Me to Hell - even if it admittedly comes from lord of the fanboys, Harry Knowles.

Anyway, although there's a Ring-esque feel to proceedings ("you can give the curse away"), Drag Me to Hell looks like a triumphant return to old-school horror. I.e it's…

Weekend report-back

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This weekend was a surprisingly social one from my side, with a birthday party, a baby shower and a farewell braai (that's a barbecue for the non-South Africans out there).

Friday evening was the birthday party, and involved much wine drinking and geeky pop culture conversation. I think some of the guys were forever scarred when a comparison between Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles forced us veteran Vamp Lit readers to reveal that Lestat guzzles menstrual blood in Memnoch the Devil. Rice may be a complete loon but she pushes limits and goes to dark places that Meyer certainly never would.

The main activity of Saturday was a baby shower in the afternoon. Frankly I was dreading it because in my past experience these kind of "traditional" events veer between tedious and juvenile. Tedious, because watching someone open presents for an hour, and having to coo over assorted tiny socks and baby grows, is fucking boring. And juvenile beca…

Movies out today

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For the second week in a row South African moviegoers have a wide selection of new film releases to choose from, with 5 biggies out as of today.

Defiance - I profiled this World War II action-drama earlier this year. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as Jewish brothers who fight back against the Nazis in Eastern Europe. Based on a true story, the film is directed by Blood Diamond, Glory and The Last Samurai's Edward Zwick, who knows how to make rousing films. 55% at Rotten Tomatoes.


Marley and Me - Once again I've already profiled this family film about a disobedient labrador who changes the lives of couple of yuppie reporters (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston). Based on a bestselling memoir. I think I'll be too emotionally affected by this film adaptation to watch it, but for the record it scored 60% at Rotten Tomatoes.


Fanboys - Finally released after a very long delay, Fanboys is a comedy-drama celebrating Star Wars geeks. A group of buddies trek cross-country…

Fun for Friday: Saturday Morning Watchmen

If you move in the same movie and pop culture blog circles as me, you'll probably have seen this piece of creative genius by now. Basically, its makers have imagined what Watchmen the graphic novel for mature readers, would have been like if it was a kid-friendly Saturday morning cartoon. Alas, I think a hefty percentage of the film's audience went into the cinema expecting something like this too...

22 minutes, 22 seconds: The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

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Right, so as part of the 22 minutes, 22 seconds screenshot series, we’ve finally reached The Return of the King, the concluding installment in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

What’s surprising is that at this specific point into the film, yet again, for the third time in a row, hobbits are proving to be surprisingly resistant to evil influence. And they are very, very lucky. To see what I mean, don’t forget to check out The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers’ 22 minutes, 22 seconds screencaps here and here.

Anyway, this scene follows on directly after the one in which an overly curious Pippin Took gets his hands on a palantir, a scrying orb that allows for long distance communication between fellow palantir users (think of it as a fantasy world equivalent of a telephone). Unfortunately for Pippin, but fortunately for our heroes as a whole, this palantir links the mind of its user with that of super deluxe evil overlord Sauron, who is still manifesting himself as a giant flam…

The Goon movie goodness

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The Goon is a lesser known comic property, an Eisner Award winning series from creator-writer-artist Eric Powell. I've written a bit about The Goon before, here and here, but for those of you who don't know, the series can probably best be described as a cross between Hellboy, Sin City and noir-ish pulp fiction in general.

Set in a rundown Depression era city, The Goon focuses on a brutish mob enforcer (known as the Goon), his diminutive buddy Franky, and their oddball collection of friends (including a werewolf called Merle), as they battle an assortment of zombies, mad scientists, monsters, aliens and, of course, other gangsters who all want a piece of the Goon's highly profitable turf. Like Hellboy, the Goon isn't one for lengthy discussions - he prefers to settle matters with his enormous fists.


The Goon, from Dark Horse Comics, is a highly enjoyable read, especially if you're a comic fan sick of overpowered heroes in tights and capes, and looking for an action-p…

Trailer Tuesday: Monsters Vs. Aliens

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I don’t know why it is, but typically the trailers for CGI-animated movies leave me disinterested – even if the full, finished products are outstanding. Monsters Vs. Aliens, the new family film from Dreamworks, is an exception to the rule. The teaser trailer above had me chuckling along quite happily from the outset, thanks to some very witty exchanges (although to be fair I did find this follow-up trailer to be a tad on the juvenile side).

Anyway, the basic plot for Monsters Vs. Aliens sees Susan, a very ordinary young woman, transformed into a giant after a meteor strike. Labelled a monster, she's captured by the military and quarantined in an isolated research facility. There she meets other monsters Dr. Cockroach, the Missing Link, B.O.B and Insectosaurus. Despised and feared as these creatures are, they emerge as Earth's only hope when an evil alien overlord targets earth for domination.


As is typical with Dreamworks animated films, Monsters Vs. Aliens features an all-sta…

Weekend report-back

The weekend didn't get off to an especially good start on Friday after a long week, a stressful drive home and then having to spend a hefty chunk of the evening speed-viewing "quality" DVDs like AVP: Alien Vs Predator and X-Men: The Last Stand, looking for specific footage for a work task. Until I got the hug I needed I felt pretty damn tearful.

It really is time for a relaxing holiday that takes me far away from my day-to-day routine. I can't believe we're robbed of a much-needed public holiday this month as it falls on this coming weekend. Bah.

Anyway, on Saturday morning I had some shopping to take care of. During the trip to the mall I was overwhelmed by the choice of make-up bases, grumbled at the cost of lipstick (I clearly haven't bought make-up in a while!) and was horrified at the fashion trends heading our way for Winter. All I wanted was some nice going-out tops but apparently this year women are either going to looks like punk rockers, or a weird s…

The truth about Zuma: Part 2

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A little fun for Friday, especially for children of the late 1980s/early 1990s. I just received this beauty of a pic of our president-to-be in my mailbox. Expect millions of rands to shortly be reassigned from feeding AIDS orphans to installing CCTV cameras so that election posters can be monitored for defacement at all times!



Out of interest, you can see another big revelation about Zuma here.

Movies released today

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It's another big week for movies with 5 new films making their debut in South African cinemas.

If you're an Anne Hathaway fan, you can choose from 2 new films starring your favourite leading lady. First up is thriller-drama Passengers, co-starring Watchmen and Hard Candy's Patrick (Nite Owl) Wilson, about a grief councillor called in to help the survivors of a plane crash. Only thing is, the survivors' stories aren't quite matching up with the official airline account of events.

I'd never even heard of this film until I saw the posters, and checking it out on Rotten Tomatoes it scored a dire 22% Fresh.


Hathaway fans may have more luck with Rachel Getting Married, which scored the actress her first ever Academy Award nomination. In this indie-flavoured drama, Hathaway plays a troubled young woman who comes out of rehab to attend her sister's wedding. Her return though triggers all kinds of family tensions.

87% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.


It debuted last month in t…

Watchmen reviewed

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First things first, I need to clarify upfront that I have read the seminal comic book mini-series on which Watchmen is based. This automatically means I’ll be looking at this superhero film from a somewhat different perspective to the casual viewer unfamiliar with the movie’s source material. This said, every person I’ve spoken to who is a stranger to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s award-winning creation has enjoyed the film thoroughly.

Personally, I didn’t find Watchmen to be outstanding – there are too many niggly flaws for that – but it is very good. Most importantly, the film IS the graphic novel brought to the big screen. No one could have done it better. And at no point did I feel this more strongly than about half way through the film, during an outstanding sequence that sees Dr Manhattan, the only genuinely super-powered hero, examining his life in a non-chronological fashion. This was the highlight of the film for me, the moment I felt like I was watching a living, breathing, mo…

More Watchmen for Wednesday

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Back in 2000 or so, there was a move by DC Direct to produce collectible figurines based on the Watchmen trade paperback to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the miniseries. However Watchmen writer Alan Moore, who has a very strained relationship with DC Comics (to say the least), managed to exert his creator's rights and got the project canned (Read an interesting article on the matter here).

Imagine my surprise then when I opened my weekly Figure Fanatix newsletter and discovered that a brand new series of Watchmen collectible figurines is available. As it turns out, Alan Moore's dissociation of himself from the Watchmen film created a loophole for DC and Warner Brothers to create a line of figurines based on the movie as opposed to the comic.


It's really a pity I don't have the space to expand my collection beyond my single Medusa-head wielding Kratos figurine, because I really like the look of these 7 inchers, which come in at around R200 each.

Blue Wang for Wednesday! - thelatest Girlz 'N' Games web comic

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You just knew I couldn't resist creating at least one Watchmen strip!


Admittedly this one was inspired by the Ctrl-Alt-Del tradition of having the strip's main characters dress up for the release of movies with lots of geek appeal (click here and here for Tim's 2 recent Watchmen "dress up" strips).

It was really fun drawing the characters in Watchmen garb, and it was surprisingly easy to match them up to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's superheroes. There's arrogant Dorian as Ozymandias, the brutish Ex-Bok (returning to the strip after 18 months) as Rorschach, femme Erin as Silk Spectre II (I wish I could pull off that outfit!) and... er... well-hung Todd, who always takes things a tad too far, as Dr Manhattan.

Out of interest, Scott Kurtz at PVP has just run an incredibly clever 5-part Watchmen spoof series that kicks off here and ends here. Basically the Watchmen heroes are played by all the greats of syndicated newspaper comics, like Jon Arbuckle (from Ga…

Trailer Tuesday Double-up: Terminator and Harry Potter

I've profiled the teaser trailers for both these films before, but in the past 2 weeks or so, new trailers have been unveiled - and I'm pretty sure you want to see them both.

So first up is Terminator Salvation, which I initially blogged about here. I'm tentatively excited about this one, largely because the man in the director's chair is Charlie's Angels' McG. This said, I've been very impressed with what I've seen in trailers so far. The CGI work looks topnotch and I'm especially glad that the filmmakers have chosen to dump the dark post-Apocalyptic world glimpsed in the first 2 films, and have the man vs. machine battles instead take place against a parched Fallout-esque backdrop. I also really can't help but get excited every time I see a dismembered Terminator dragging itself forward with its arms... [Cue Brad Fiedel's Terminator theme]



Terminator Salvation opens in the US on 21 May. No clue when it is set for release in South Africa, alt…

A weekend of superheroes

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After a balls-to-the-wall week with at least one new frustration every single morning, Friday ended up being a half-day as the creative team was rewarded for our efforts with lunch at Spice, one of Durban's current top restaurants (newly relocated to Windermere Road). This is the place where Bill Clinton and Bill Gates ate when they were in town, out of interest.

As it stands the food is excellent but very expensive - main courses average around R110 and desserts R40. Also, I'm not quite sure if it was the meal, or all the white wine I drank, or even just the week's stresses finally catching up on me, but I started feeling really ill on my stomach in the late afternoon. I had to take it pretty easy for the rest of the evening once I got home.

On Saturday the big activity of the day was going to see Watchmen at IMAX. My review will be up on this site in the coming few days, but the short version is that yes, this is the comic book realised ultra-faithfully on the big screen.…

Movies out today

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Four new movies open in South Africa today, offering a little bit for everyone.

For the tweens there's the Jonas Brothers - The 3D Concert Experience. "Kevin, Joe and Nick in 3D. SQUEEEE! I don't find the brothers especially good looking or even talented, but then again I'm not 10. Disney certainly knows how to milk teenage girls (and their parents) of their dollars. Rotten Tomatoes critics' comments here.


Renee Zellweger has her Oscar now so she isn't exactly afraid to creatively slum it in assorted undemanding romantic comedies. New in Town is her latest, a fish-out-of-water tale about a jet-setting Miami businesswoman who finds herself posted to remote, rural Minnesota. Harry Connick, Jr. is the sexy hick who tries to warm her heart. just wonder how the inhabitants of Minnesota feel about being so stereotyped? 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.

I'm not really interested in box office, particularly local figures, but the big battle of the weekend is sure to be betwee…