Showing posts from September, 2009

Girlz 'N' Games #53: It's worth it, Bub

I had the idea for this Girlz 'N Games comic all the way back in May when the very mediocre X-Men Origins: Wolverine hit cinemas. I didn't have time to sketch it then, but the release of the DVD this past week or so gave me the motivation to get it up once and for all, lest the strip miss its period of relevance and end up in my rather bloated Unused & Outdated Comic Ideas folder.

Anyway, when it comes to that all-important question "If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?" I've never been able to single out just one special ability. However, every time I think about Wolverine's Adamantium claws, I fantasize about the various uses I could put such indestructible retractable blades to. Even if I didn't actually use the claws for slicing and dicing, I could see their use when it comes to settling disputes through simple physical intimidation. Just shoot those babies out during a road rage incident, or when some schmuck is answering their…

Trailer Tuesday: A Nightmare on Elm Street

When it comes to Hollywood remakes, no genre has been subjected to "reimaginings" as much as Horror. This weekend the teaser trailer for A Nightmare on Elm Street debuted online to a highly mixed reaction. A lot of people just aren't sure, and personally I'm teetering on the border between excitement and concern.

In terms of positives - in fact, the biggest positive - there's the casting of Jackie Earle Haley (who earlier this year wowed with his portrayal of Rorschach in Watchmen) as one of cinema's most iconic boogie men, Freddie Krueger. I can think of nobody better, or potentially freakier, to take over the clawed glove, striped sweater, grimy fedora and hideous scars from Robert Englund.

My concerns however are triggered by several moments in the trailer that are lifted exactly from Wes Craven's classic 1984 original: Freddie's claw in the bath tub, the levitating teenager, the slow pan over a picturesque house on Elm Street, creepy skipping little…

Weekend report-back: beach, board games and books

So I'm back in the office after a 4 day weekend. And I'm trying not to remind myself that it's almost 3 months until the next public holiday. Bah!

Anyway, pop culture didn't play too massive a part in my mini-break. There was braai-ing (expected on National Braai Day), the baking of pretzels in celebration of Oktoberfest (even if we weren't in Munich this year), working on the next Girlz 'N' Games comic, and a family lunch to celebrate my mother and cousin's birthdays.

A hefty chunk of the weekend however was spent at one of my favourite holiday destinations: the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. We were celebrating a friend's birthday at his family's holiday flat in Southbroom. So there was much chilling and eating and games playing, as well as kite flying, dolphin spotting and swallowing of saltwater as I flailed around in the choppy, chilly surf.

We even managed to find Emo Shell!

Anyway, film viewing was neglected this weekend, with the exception of …

Movies out today!

It's public holiday, Heritage Day tomorrow in South Africa (Thursday), so several films are releasing in cinemas today as opposed to Friday. I've also taken Friday off, so I've doubled up on blog updates today to compensate - there's this post and the my review of Up below to keep readers amused for the next few days. So pace yourselves!

Anyway, in terms of my movie picks for the weekend, first place goes to The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the third film adaptation of the novel by Morton Freedgood. The big selling point of this action thriller is that it pits 2 of Hollywood's biggest leading men, Denzel Washington and John Travolta against one another. Oh, and the film is directed by Man on Fire and Enemy of the State's Tony Scott, a master of frenetic, twisty action movies.

The film centres on a decidedly ordinary New York City subway dispatcher (Washington) who enters into a dangerous mind game with a criminal mastermind (Travolta) who takes a train hostage. The T…

Up reviewed

WALL-E was always going to be a hard act to follow, given the critical and commercial success achieved by the touching tale of a lonely little robot who has a powerful, positive effect on everyone he meets. Animation studio Pixar, however, are not ones for resting on their laurels or retreading the same thematic turf, and the result is Up, which is no less enjoyable than WALL-E, but an entirely different cinematic experience. In fact it can be argued that Up is the most moving and mature film Pixar has ever made.

Up centres on geriatric widower Carl Fredricksen, who, despite his lust for adventure, has seen life pass him by. Before it’s too late he decides to realise the life-long dream he and his wife shared of visiting Paradise Falls in a remote region of South America. Thumbing his nose at the authorities who want to flatten his home and force him into a retirement village, Carl attaches hundreds of helium balloons to his house and takes off, setting course for South America. Unfort…

Trailer Tuesday: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

I've seen the trailer for animated comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs a few times at the cinema now, and I thought it deserved to be profiled as part of this blog's weekly trailer feature.

Based on, or rather inspired by, the beloved children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett (which I somehow completely missed during my kiddie days), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs centres on a young inventor, Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) who has a history of botched creations. To uplift his poverty-stricken community, Swallow Falls, Flint embarks on his most ambitious experiment ever - the development of a machine that instantly transforms water into food. However, an accident results in the machine shooting off into the sky, and soon purple clouds are raining hamburgers and other tasty treats on the town.

Out of interest, the trailer posted above is the teaser. This full trailer helps to better explain exactly what is going on, as well as the main character's motivations.

Weekend roundup

After some rubbish weather in the second half of last week, it cleared up nicely for the weekend. As a result I didn't spend too much time indoors, consumed with pop cultural things. This was especially true on Sunday where I was vegging/working on my tan at Midmar Dam and, more importantly, stocking up on peanut brittle from the Peels Honey Store. Nom nom nom. Anyway, this is what I did get up to Friday to Sunday:

A week after it opened locally, I finally watched the Disney-Pixar family film Up this weekend. My full review will appear on this blog soon - hopefully this Wednesday - but damn, I have never been as emotionally devastated by an animated film. Up includes a montage early on in the film that had me literally swallowing down sobs by the time it ended.

Of course this probably makes the film sound like a massive downer, and while I think it is the most thematically mature and thoughtful film Pixar has ever made, Up is still a great deal of fun for children of all ages. …

Movies today, SA!

Despite the fact that 5 new films open in South Africa today, not a single one is worthy of an extended Pick of the Week description. If you haven't seen it yet (like me), go and watch Disney-Pixar's Up instead. If you can't get past a deeply ingrained "grown-up" prejudice against animated films, what about seeking out the Johnny Depp-Christian Bale gangster movie Public Enemies? Hell, you could even go and watch District 9 again. Just stay away from the mediocrity released this weekend. Yeesh.

I Hate Valentine's Day - Nia Vardalos reteams with her My Big Fat Greek Wedding love interest John Corbett for this romantic comedy in which a carefree florist lives by a "5 dates only" rule so a relationship never develops and she never gets hurt. A charming restaurateur, however, forces her to re-evaluate her unusual approach to dating. 17% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Karate Kallie - A South African comedy about Kallie, a fat teenager, who is mercilessly teased…

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra reviewed

There’s no question about it. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a big, dumb, midyear blockbuster. This was to be expected. What wasn’t expected however was just how well the film succeeds in its most crucial area. It truly feels like a cheesy Saturday morning ‘80s cartoon brought to life. So kudos to director Stephen Sommers, who previously helmed the action-packed, goofy Mummy and Van Helsing movies.

Clearly intended to kick off a new film franchise, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is essentially an origins story, explaining how some of the more famous Joes from the animated series (and Hasbro toy line), Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) come to join the elite international fighting force – that has already recruited fan favourites Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Scarlett (Rachel Nichols) and Breaker (Saïd Taghmaoui), each of whom have their own unique skill set to contribute to the G.I. Joe cause. The film also explains how the leaders of the …

Girlz 'N' Games #52: Marvel meets the House of Mouse

This Girlz 'N' Games comic was inspired by the recent news that Disney has purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion - which, out of interest, is just over half of what the House of Mouse paid for Pixar!

When the takeover news broke, many geeky types immediately started panicking about the fate of so many beloved comic books and characters. Would Disney impose their wholesome value system and make the comics, film adaptations and related merchandise more family friendly? Would they file down the edgier, violent characters into a bland, socially acceptable form, or erase them completely? Admittedly I had my concerns... until I read this article, and remembered I had already seen these cutesy monstrosities, and these, on Toys R Us shelves - which Marvel did all on their own, without any Disney influence. I mean, look what they did to Daredevil and the Punisher?! *shudders*

Anyway, with this new GNG comic I took the "sanitisation" fear and applied it to one of Marvel&…

RIP Patrick Swayze

2009, the Year of Celebrity Death, has claimed another victim: actor, dancer and singer-songwriter Patrick Swayze. 57 year old Swayze died after battling pancreatic cancer for almost 2 years.

Having been performing for the past 30 years, Swayze's filmography includes 40 movies. However, he will probably be best remembered for just 2 of his big screen efforts:

Together, the chick flick romantic dramas Dirty Dancing and Ghost established Swayze as one of the major movie heartthrobs of the late '80s and early '90s. Some may scoff at leaving such a "lightweight" cinematic legacy, but frankly I don't think it's a bad way to be remembered. Swayze was definitely in the hearts and minds of millions when he passed away. Goodbye to one of the nice guys!

Trailer Tuesday: Solomon Kane

I've written quite comprehensively about Solomon Kane before, but this last week the trailer finally debuted online... and while it's not exactly setting the world alight it's still pretty damn nifty nonetheless. I especially like the "infernal" encounter and Kane locking swords with what bears a striking resemblance to Diablo's Archangel Tyrael. For what is essentially an indie production, Solomon Kane apparently has top notch effects and a suitably expensive-looking production design. Then again, the film did supposedly cost $40 million!

Anyway, watching the trailer for the film, centred on Pulp author Robert E. Howard's second most famous fictional creation (Howard also created Conan the Barbarian), Solomon Kane comes across as a dark, gritty and completely serious melding of Constantine, Van Helsing and Hellboy, but set in the 16th Century, with a grim hero (Rome's James Purefoy) whose path to redemption leads him on just the course of violence he …

Weekend roundup

I didn't do much in the way of movie watching this weekend, either at the cinema or at home on the small screen. The closest I got was listening to Total Recall and Starsky and Hutch (both of which I've seen before) on Sunday evening while I worked on Girlz 'N' Games #52 - which is set to debut online later this week.

Anyway, here's what happened in terms of my pop culture activities this weekend:

Our weekly Dungeons & Dragons game was delayed until Friday evening where my half-elf paladin, Herkon the Magnificent (occasionally also known as Herkon the Magnificent Fuck-up) made amends for a horribly botched battle in which he was incapable of hitting anything or anyone. Nasty tough skinned little dragon men!

Anyway Herkon redeemed himself by firstly preventing Kaleanae, our self-interested assassin-ranger, from freaking out at the sight of a massive volcano elemental and diving into a lake of lava. Yay for auras for courage.

Secondly, at the insistence of our…

Movies out today, SA

Five new movies hit South African cinemas today, and these are my top 2 picks for the weekend:

Up - We've been waiting almost 4 months(!) to see the latest CGI-animated film from Disney and Pixar, and now it's finally here. Screening in traditional 2D, as well as 3D in selected theatres, Up is a heartfelt adventure about an elderly widower who decides it's never too late to live out his dream of traveling to South America - in a house suspended from helium balloons. His patience is tested though by an over-enthusiastic wilderness scout who accidentally comes along for the ride.

Following WALL-E, Up has a LOT to live up to, but apparently it does, coming in at a spectacular 97% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Then again, I wouldn't expect anything less from Pixar! Although it's debatable whether Up is as enjoyable as WALL-E, apparently the film is the most emotionally moving and mature themed Pixar has ever made. I expect it's going to have me blubbing big time. Out of …

Noises Off reviewed

It’s a shame that the recent Durban run of theatrical comedy Noises Off will probably be best remembered for its “obscene” posters, and the scandal they generated, rather than the fact that the production is one of the funniest and frenzied to hit the city’s theatres in a long time.

A farce about putting on a farce, Noises Off is written by British playwright Michael Frayn and focuses on a touring theatre company whose new show, the terribly cheesy (and sardine-saturated) Nothing On, is a disaster from the get-go. From the rehearsal stage to the concluding performance things go from bad to worse, particularly as the troupe’s relationships disintegrate behind the scenes.

For those unfamiliar with theatrical farces, think Fawlty Towers – ridiculous situations complicated by mistakes, misconceptions and missed opportunities to resolve the situation (and restore normality), all of which leave the main characters constantly teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Typically the cast of…

G-Force reviewed

Watching family film G-Force, with its seamless combination of CGI-animation and live-action footage, I couldn’t dismiss the notion that if Disney ever wanted to make a live-action Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie with realistic looking rodents, they would use this film as a template.

You see, I went into G-Force expecting the worst – endless fart and poop jokes, and nonstop slapstick silliness – something akin to Cats & Dogs, only worse. Instead I discovered a film that places more emphasis on action than infantile humour. Then again, I should have regulated my expectations, given that the film is produced (surprisingly) by Jerry Bruckheimer, the man behind the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean, Con Air, Bad Boys and many other action blockbusters.

The plot for G-Force is resoundingly ridiculous. Despite mockery from their FBI superiors a tiny government organisation has been training assorted animals to perform covert operations. Scientist Ben (bearded Zach Galifianakis from The…

Trailer Tuesday: 9

2009 is shaping up as a very tough year as far as competition for the Academy Award for Best Animated Film is concerned. We've already had Coraline and Monsters Vs Aliens, the States has had Up (SA gets it this Friday FINALLY), Disney's oldschool hand drawn The Princess and the Frog comes out for December and now there's a little potential sleeper hit that has appeared out of nowhere, called 9.

In a bizarre similarity to that other "9" movie out this year, District 9, 9 is also based on an earlier short film from the same director - in this case Shane Acker, whose 2005 11-minute effort earned him an Oscar nomination.

Like District 9, 9 also comes with the backing of some big directorial names. While Peter Jackson sat in the producer's chair for District 9, here we have Tim (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands) Burton and Timur (Wanted, Night Watch) Bekmambetov overseeing proceedings.

Anyway, done in a CGI-animation style that mimics stop-motion, …

Weekend round-up

I got out and about quite a bit this weekend - starting with an excellent and very reasonable meal at the Black Forest Tavern, a decades-old establishment that specialises in traditional German cuisine but also offers a wide variety of food, from seafood to steak to venison. As a venue though it's probably far too quaint and old-fashioned for the image-whores out there.

I also finalised my toddler cousin's birthday present - eventually settling on the Hot Wheels looping track starter set. I discovered that when it comes to kids I'm definitely more comfortable buying books, action figures, DVDs and cartoon-branded clothing. They fit far more comfortably into my knowledge domain. I'm clueless when it comes to toy car stuff and honestly the choice was quite overwhelming...

On Saturday I also accompanied the bf as an estate agent showed him apartments and duplexes around Durban. He wants to enter the property market, you see. We saw one fantastic place but it was unfortunate…