Showing posts from November, 2009

The rain in Spain... is so loverly... I could have danced all night

You know the silly season is upon us when your social calendar transforms from desert and tumbleweeds to full blown Las Vegas. So yeah, I didn't have much free time for pop culture consumption this past weekend, with the exception of finally running some Outland instances in World of WarCraft, and going to see a production of My Fair Lady at the Durban Playhouse.

Frankly I'm a bit bemused that the celebrated musical is being staged again in Durban just 3 years since its last run (seems like overkill to me!), but I guess the locals have their favourites... even if the attendance at yesterday's Sunday matinee didn't show it. Just 1 week into the show's month-and-a-bit-long run and the massive Opera theatre, where the production is being staged, was half empty. Hopefully the situation will change once the Summer school holidays begin, locals relax and the tourists arrive, because it's disappointing to see a highly talented cast acting and singing their hearts out …

Movies today, SA!

As the holiday season quickly approaches, 6 new films open in South Africa today, offering a little something for everyone - from the kiddies to the lovestruck tweens; from the baby boomers to the cultural elitists.

The obvious first pick for the week is fantasy romance The Twilight Saga: New Moon, although I'm sure by now all the local hardcore fans have already been to at least one of the almost daily preview screenings that kicked off last Friday.

What you need to know about this adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's bestselling novel is that it ups the stakes (hah!) in teenager Bella Swann's (Kristen Stewart) relationship with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and introduces a romantic complication in the form of buff werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). The film also flaunts its larger budget with location work in Italy, and increases the Twilight series' star power with Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning and a bunch of up-and-coming teenage actors joining the cast…

Surrogates reviewed

Action sci-fi flick Surrogates is the second of 3 films in 2009 – the others being Gamer and Avatar – to deal with the issue of transplanting the human consciousness into another physical form and controlling that alternate body.

Surrogates, based on a comic series, is set in the near future, where the use of highly realistic robotic bodies, or surrogates, has become common practice. People do not leave the comfort and safety of their own homes, preferring to sit in pyjamas all day while mentally controlling their surrogates, which are sent out into the world. Impossibly beautiful, resistant to damage, and with all sorts of enhanced abilities (super strength, night vision, etc.), surrogates allow people to live out their every fantasy without fear of physical harm to themselves.

Of course there is resistance to this kind of existence, in the form of a militant group headed by the Prophet (Ving Rhames), but these men and women are essentially second class citizens, derogatively referre…

Girlz 'N' Games #57: Mutton for Movember

So the end of November is looming and women worldwide can heave a sigh of relief. Movember - that month in which men refuse to shave away their facial fluff (to raise money for charity and boost awareness about men's health issues, apparently) - is almost over.

I thought I better squeeze out this comic before the end of Movember, lest it has to wait a full year before it's relevant again. Basically the comic is a gentle dig at the contradictory tastes of women: they may claim Option A is disgusting, but tweak it a bit to fit one of their fantasies and it becomes perfectly acceptable; perhaps even desirable.

I admit I've always had a thing for mutton chops. I don't know why, but I've always found that while moustaches gross me out, sideburn whiskers are wicked cool, right up there with sexy stubble. Maybe it's because mutton chops remind me of the dark, brooding and hirsute heroes created by Jane Austen and the Brontesisters. Maybe it's because of the obvious…

Trailer Tuesday - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

If the buzz is to be believed, then Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time may be the first video game adaptation to elevate the genre to some kind of respectability in Hollywood. As it currently stands, films based on video games tend to be B-grade affairs, starring unknowns or B-graders, directed by untested filmmakers who have graduated from the school of slick, sexy music video production, and ultimately the completed products often veer far from their source material.

Granted video game adaptations can make a lot of money at the box office, but they're typically reviled by critics and shredded by dissatisfied fans of the original games. Let's also not forget that the filmmaker who has made it his personal mission to make as many atrocious video game movies as possible is 21st Century Ed Wood, Uwe Boll. Yes, this is why video game movies are stigmatised.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is apparently an attempt to change all that. The film can be distinguished from the usua…

Weekend report back

I'm afraid there wasn't much in the way of pop culture consumption this past weekend. The reason for this is that I spent half of the weekend working. For those of you who don't know, or don't remember, I was retrenched at the end of September, and in the months since then, when not working on personal projects, doing some freelance, sending my CV out to interested individuals, and going through the painful 8 hour+ process of applying to claim for unemployment benefits, I've been earning a bit of cash helping out as a facilitator at team builds once a week or so.

Facilitating is easy, it requires continual problem solving and it's a fantastic opportunity to people watch, as corporates have their staff doing everything from painting to puzzle solving, to kayaking to spear throwing, to simulated crime scene investigation. From a facilitator's perspective, team building also involves a decent amount of physical labour (a nice change from being desk-bound for t…

Movies opening today, SA!

Six new films open in South Africa today, and my Top 2 picks for the weekend are both horror flicks.

First up is smash hit horror-comedy Zombieland.I've blogged about Zombieland before but in short it seems appropriate to think of it as America's answer to Britain's Shaun of the Dead - a distinctly comic take on fighting hordes of flesh-eating undead.

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin, the film centres on a group of mismatched survivors in a world overrun by zombies. Harrelson apparently turns in a stellar comedic performance as a Twinkie-obsessed, rifle-packing cowboy called Tallahassee - reminding cinema goers for the first time in ages how strong he can be in an offbeat comedy.

Out of interest, Zombieland is the most financially successful zombie movie of all time, overtaking the box office takings of Zack Synder's Dawn of the Dead remake. Although nowhere near as witty as Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is still ap…

"In brightest day, In blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight...."

Green Lantern is something of an unusual superhero.

For one thing, the name doesn't apply to just one character. Fearless Hal Jordan, principled John Stewart, cocky Guy Gardner and twentysomething slacker Kyle Rayner are all humans beings who have possessed a green power ring at some point or other (Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott received his powers from an altogether different, magical source).

In fact, it's worth noting that there are/were thousands of alien Green Lanterns as well, as they all form part of the Green Lantern Corps, a kind of intergalactic police force put in place by the all-powerful Guardians of the Universe to combat evil and ensure order across the various star systems. So, yes, Green Lantern is one of the more sci-fi-ish of comic book superheroes, with grand extra-terrestrial adventures that take the current Green Lantern of Sector 2814 far from earth.

What's also interesting, and unusual, about Green Lantern is that he's incredibly powerful …

Michael Jackson’s This Is It reviewed

Michael Jackson’s This Is It is actually a pleasant surprise. I was expecting the documentary to be a grandiose tribute that oozed sycophantism. I was expecting the Jackson family and Michael’s extensive entourage to take centre stage – posturing for the camera and milking the King of Pop’s death for one last tear and, more importantly, one last cent. This Is It though, is surprisingly nothing like this.

Of course the profiteering off Jackson’s talent and weirdness is still very much evident. However, there isn’t an obnoxious member of his family in sight and there are no demonstrations of grief to bait the same response from the viewer. This Is It is basically a concert film, chronicling the rehearsals and extensive behind-the-scenes preparations that were underway earlier this year for Michael Jackson’s long-awaited return series of concerts, set to kick off in London’s O2 Arena on 13 July 2009. In the end This Is It feels more like something that could sit comfortably alongside real…

Trailer Tuesday: Clash of the Titans

Every time a new piece of information surfaces online about fantasy adventure Clash of the Titans, I find myself frantically blogging about it again and again. Now the first teaser trailer has been released for this remake of the 1981 filmvery loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus, the demigod hero who battled Medusa and reclaimed his royal birthright.

There has been something of an outcry about the trailer for Clash of the Titans 2010, with many people calling it cheesy and obvious. "Titans. Will. Clash!" Well, duh. But frankly I didn't expect the remake to be anything but cheesy... and a rollicking good popcorn flick at the same time. I've long given up hope that the film will be a faithful depiction of the original mythological tale, just as the original Clash of the Titans wasn't. Hollywood just can't leave a good story alone... This doesn't mean however that the film can't be fun.

Anyway, the way Clash of the Titans 2010 is being punted (at le…

Game on! The mega boss battle begins

The only pop culture consumption that happened this weekend was of the Gaming variety. Apart from going to watch my cousin's first ever Christmas play - where he seemed happier to swing around his shepherd's staff than sing with the other 3-4 year olds at his preschool - I generally took it easy, having developed a head cold as a result of Durban's recent bipolar weather... and, halfway through Sunday, I was struck by an agonising urinary tract infection (yay for being a woman!).

Anyway, on Saturday night, we finally reached the mega boss battle of our weekly Dungeons & Dragons campaign - which has been running now for well over 2 and a half years. Deep under a frozen citadel, half-elf paladin Herkon, human battlemage Mikah, elven assassin-ranger Kalanae and our NPC (non-player character) assistant, Valesh the halfling bard, faced off against dark god Veckna and powerful dragon lich Misherak.

In case you were wondering what a high stakes D&D battle looks like:


Movies today, South Africa!

Four new movies open locally today and my Top 2 picks for the weekend are as follows:

1) Surrogates - I've blogged before about this intriguing-looking sci-fi thriller. Starring Bruce Willis as an FBI agent, Surrogates is set in the near future, when people rarely leave the comfort and safety of their own homes. Instead, they control surrogate robotic bodies, which they send out into the world to realise their greatest fantasies without fear of consequence. Thing is, someone has learned how to kill people by destroying their surrogates, and the authorities are called in to find and stop whoever is responsible.

Apparently Surrogates is far stronger in concept than actual execution, scoring a mediocre 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can't say I'm especially surprised about comments that the film doesn't explore it's fascinating premise in enough detail, or that it's riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies. Still though, my enthusiasm levels for Surrogates are quite h…

Girlz 'N' Games comic #56: Best Friends Forever!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, then it's probably not a surprise that this Girlz 'N' Games comic is based on a true story!

Well, kinda. Of course the situation depicted has been twisted for humorous effect, but it's become something of a running joke that our friend Tim need only mention Guitar Hero 5 and myself and the bf are at his house in a flash.

Without owning the game, its assorted peripherals or even a next-gen console, I've become a big fan of Guitar Hero. The entire series is that rare thing: a fantastic party game that still is fun, and definitely challenging, when you're playing alone. The same can't be said for so many games designed specifically for the Wii console. I still don't know if I had a Wii whether I'd ever plug it in except during parties or social gatherings. It's solo play offerings have never really wowed me.

Anyway, there isn't much else to add in the way of explaining this comic. I think we've all …

The Lost Symbol reviewed (spoiler free)

The Lost Symbol is the fifth novel from bestselling author Dan Brown, and the third of his popular mystery-thrillers centred on Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. This time around though, Langdon isn’t dashing between exotic locations in Europe. Instead, his latest breakneck race against time takes place in Washington DC as he is forced by a brutal kidnapper to solve a centuries’ old mystery or be responsible for the death of his close friend and mentor Peter Solomon.

Fans of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons should be happy with The Lost Symbol. The novel doesn’t veer much from Brown’s tried and tested formula. There’s the deadly, physically imposing villain; the usual mix of science, religion and mysticism; the genius science babe at Langdon’s side; pursuing authorities who may or may not be on the side of good; endless puzzle solving and code breaking; multiple plot twists, as well as an assortment of museums, churches and famous historical buildings that form a backdrop fo…

Trailer Tuesday: Julie & Julia

Ha, I bet you thought today's post was going to be all about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? Well, you're wrong. Today it's centred on comedy drama Julie & Julia.

A chick flick of the highest pedigree, Julie & Julia stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (who coincidentally also co-starred in last year's Doubt). The film has been adapted for the screen and directed by Nora Ephron, who was the scribe behind When Harry Met Sally..., as well as the writer-director of assorted hits, including Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. I guess we should be glad Meg Ryan isn't in this one then.

By all accounts Julie & Julia does for culinary creation in 2009 what Disney-Pixar's Ratatouille did in 2007. Based on 2 true stories decades apart, the film is primarily an adaptation of Julie Powell's memoir "Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen," which was in turn based on Powell's highly successful blog, the Julie…

Tears for Alice fans

So, right, you remember last week when I got all excited about the teaser trailer for Alice 2, or the Return of Alice, the long-awaited video game sequel to American McGee's Alice?

Well, it turns out the trailer is a fake! A fan made the beautiful claymation creation. However, the trailer was so professional looking that many gaming websites began touting it as the official thing, and news of the trailer snowballed from there.

Game designer American McGee, the Tim Burton of video games, is currently working on the Alice sequel, and he cleared up the "trailer issue" on his blog.

Yesterday, a few sites picked up a video of Alice made by one of our fans and confused it as an official trailer of Alice 2. I wanted to clear up any confusion – as I mentioned in my post it was unofficial, and does not represent any of the final art direction or story elements in Alice 2. We look forward to sharing information on the game in the future.

I admit I'm a little disappointed. I liked…