Showing posts from May, 2010

Nostalgia time for children of the 80s

A few weeks back I posted up a pic of my DVD collection. In keeping with the personal pop culture over share, I thought I'd post up these photos of my old action figures. Right now they're hauled out every time my 3 and half year old cousin comes to visit, but I don't see these guys ever going to charity. Underprivileged kids can have my old stuffed animals, but my action figures... well, these are being saved for my kids one day. Rather the ThunderCats, Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles and late 80s/early 90s Disney animated movies than all that Ben 10 and Hannah Montana rubbish.

May recap for Monday

So, the past few weeks I've been kept busy. I've been temping, applying for dozens of jobs in Cape Town (with little to zero response), watching Rock Circus's surprisingly entertaining combination of aerial acrobatics and tribute acts at the Gateway Barnyard Theatre, playing my first ever game of Pathfinder (basically Open SourceD&D, as I understand it), attending Durban's latest 27dinner, and, yesterday, supporting family and friends as they ran the Comrades Marathon, the oldest, biggest ultra-marathon in the world.

May was also a busy month on this blog. In case you missed it, these are some of the highlights of the past 31 days.

Blog features:
Superhero films coming your way: The Marvel slate
Superhero films coming your way: The DC-Warner Bros slate
True Blood news and minisodes
Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #66: Clash of the... Na'vi?!
Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #67: Geek Vs. Geek
Free fantasy fiction
RIP Frank Frazetta

Movie reviews:
Prince of Persia…

Movies today, South Africa: Sexing up the Green Zone

Something like 7 new movies open in South Africa today. In limited release you can catch a theatrical production of opera Armida recorded for the screen, and French musical drama Paris/Faubourg 36 (59% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).

For the kids there's CGI-animated sequel Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back, full of primate silliness - and now in 3D.

It's actually a good weekend for movie silliness, as along with Space Chimps, there's Gentlemen Broncos (19% Fresh), a comedy from the director of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre about a teenage loner whose fiction writing is plagiarised by a popular fantasy novelist.

More importantly, there's a new movie out today from South Africa's very own master of silliness, Leon Schuster. Schuks Tshabalala's Survival Guide to South Africa doesn't mess with the comedic formula that so many undemanding (or brain dead?) South Africans lap up year after year. This time the candid camera tomfoolery is given a Football World Cu…

Superhero films coming your way: The Marvel slate

Two weeks ago, I posted the first of two blog articles about the various superhero films coming our way based on titles from the two major comic book publishers, DC and Marvel. This is the second post.

After a decade of massive box office success, the superhero action-fantasy genre is at a crucial turning point. Where to from here? Well, in moving forward, the trend seems to be in two directions: 1) ambitious projects with an epic scope and characters who function at a level beyond the super-human, and 2) reboots and reimaginings of superhero franchises that never quite achieved their potential, or have grown stale.

In the latter camp, we can include rumoured reboots of The Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Ghost Rider as well as a few other film projects that will be discussed below. However, this post is less about whisperings and more about the films that are definitely heading to cinemas from Marvel in the next five years - with cast and crew already attached.

Now Mar…

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time reviewed

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is intended to be Disney and producer-extraordinaire Jerry Bruckheimer’s big follow-up to the ultra-successful Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Instead of being based on a theme park ride, however, this epic fantasy-adventure uses a video game as its source material. But what a video game! Ubisoft’s 2003 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is arguable one of the greatest puzzle-solving action-adventures of all time – combining likeable characters, gravity-defying acrobatic combat and a nifty time-control premise. Seven years later, the film adaptation is careful to contain these vital elements and the end result is a fairly satisfying big screen translation that, while ultimately forgettable, is still a great deal of fun while the projector is rolling.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time centres on Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), an orphaned street urchin who impresses the Persian king with his courage and nobility as a child, and is promptly adopt…

Trailer Tuesday: Piranha 3-D

After the Clash Of the Titans 3D debacle, I vowed to only watch 3D films that have been specifically made for the format. No more wasting money on shoddy, cheap conversions from traditional 2D purely so that film studios can squeeze a few more bucks out of viewers.

This said, with my "only original 3D" rule in place, I'm still entitled to watch horror remake Piranha 3-D. Based on a cheesy 1978 Jaws rip-off (that was followed by the truly atrocious Piranha II: The Spawning), Piranha 3-D looks to be a delicious B-grade treat that embraces its ridiculousness. Take the film's premise for example:

Each Spring Break, the population of Lake Victoria, Arizona swells from 5,000 to 50,000 as young people flood the town to celebrate, but this year, there is something more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local old timers. A new type of terror is about to be cut loose on beautiful Lake Victoria, itself the caldera of an ancient volcano.

When earth tremors tear open…

Free fantasy fiction for Monday

A little while ago, I posted up the first 2 parts of a fantasy story based on my new Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying character - Elora the half-elf warlock. Well, it took me a little while but I stuck to my personal challenge of producing a my first ever complete piece of fantasy fiction, and I'm proud of my efforts.

So here, for your Monday work procrastination pleasure, is the 26-page story for complimentary download:

Elora: A character introduction

Have a read and then let me know what you think in the Blog Comments below.

For the record, in case you are wondering why the character of Elora is so "emo," well, that was kind of the point. After my last D&D character - a selfless, emotionally simplistic half-elf paladin by the name of Herkon, I wanted to craft and play a character who was entirely self-involved and prone to pity parties.

Movies today, South Africa: It's Prince of Persia time!

Four new films hit South African cinemas today. These include American-set Bollywood thriller-romance Kites, and Hot Tub Time Machine (63% on Rotten Tomatoes), a "gross-out guy comedy" in which John Cusack and co. mysteriously wake up as teens in 1986 after a booze binge in a hot tub - and now have the unique opportunity to change their lives before they went off the rails.

I don't think Hot Tub Time Machine is a bad choice at all if you're in a mood for an undemanding comedy this weekend. However, my #1 pick for today is, unsurprisingly, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Based on my favourite video game series of all time, Prince of Persia, the movie, is intended to be Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's big money-spinning follow-up to Pirates of the Caribbean. Mixing fantasy action-adventure and flirtation, Prince of Persia centres on a cocky street urchin-turned-acrobatic-prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) who comes into possession of the Dagger of Time - which gr…

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #67: Geek Vs. Geek

Every time a popular new superhero film comes out, geek debate flares. Is the film true to the comic book source material? Is the film better than other entries in the genre - or series, if the movie is a sequel? Is the superhero at the centre of the new film cooler/better/stronger than other tights-and-mask-wearing avengers?

Because most people have short memories, normally it's the superhero star of the just released film that scores the most votes in online polls asking the very questions mentioned above.

Anyway, if there's one thing that can be said about comic book enthusiasts and pop culture geeks, it's that they love a passionate, well-substantiated debate about fantasy hypotheticals. In fact, I'd say they love it as much as rolling their eyes at "uncool" Twihards for engaging in much the same behaviour. I know sometimes it's irresistible to tease the Twi's - especially when they do stuff like this - but come on, guys, they're just a differen…

Mini movie reviews for Wednesday: Fantastic Mr Fox and New Moon

This past weekend I caught up with a few films on DVD that I missed while they were showing at the cinema. The following are my mini reviews:

Fantastic Mr Fox is definitely the quirkiest animated film I've ever seen. Directed by Wes Anderson, who is responsible for such offbeat family-centric comedies as The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox feels exactly like a stop-motion equivalent of Anderson's live-action work... with a cast of animals instead of people. Of course, the more Anderson's influence seeps through the movie, the less the film resembles its source material: the much loved children's book by Roald Dahl.

For about two-thirds of the film, Dahl fans will probably be able to (just) stomach Anderson's liberal changes. Fantastic Mr Fox, the film, is actually a lot of frenetic fun, and good chunks of it feel like a platformer video game. The whole thing is odd - pointless conversations, long silences and extreme close-ups add to the weirdness - yet you can&…

A decade of DVD collecting

So my parents have put their house on the market, and along with decluttering, preparations for upcoming Sunday afternoon show houses included hiding valuables as a precaution against sticky fingered prospective buyers. As a result my DVD collection was gathered together from various shelves and stacking places... and I thought some of you might be interested to see what a fantasy fan, animation lover, geeky girl and child of the 80s has acquired over the past decade. Spot any of your nostalgic faves?

For the record there are a few DVDs missing from this pic (they're out on loan to friends), as well as a few glaring omissions (The NeverEnding Story, Back to the Future I, II and III, Willow, Top Gun and The Secret of NIMH off the top of my head) that I will purchase when I have my own place, and no longer have access to the collections of other family members.

Out of interest, my collection started in 2000 when I won a DVD player courtesy of a phone-in competition on Barry Ronge'…

Trailer Tuesday: Jonah Hex

How do you know that the American midyear blockbuster season is upon us? Why, Megan Fox is on the big screen all sweaty and sultry of course! Fox co-stars in supernatural Western Jonah Hex, the only comic-to-film adaptation from the Warner-DC Comics stable this year. Josh Brolin stars as the title character, a grim, badly scarred bounty hunter - and quintessential anti-hero.

Now although I've never read a Jonah Hex comic, my understanding of the character and his adventures is that the series is an illustrated Western for mature readers. There's death and rape and alcoholism and mutilation, and all that other fun stuff that goes with living in frontier land. It's no surprise then that the comic isn't regulated by the Comics Code Authority.

The Jonah Hex of the comics refreshingly has no "special" abilities, even if he has on occasion tangled with supernatural creatures like zombies. Hollywood filmmakers however have apparently been unable to resist the urge to …

Some True Blood for Monday

Anyone who reads this blog, or follows my Twitter stream will know I'm a huge fan of the horror-romance-mystery TV series True Blood. Based on the series of novels, The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse Chronicles by Charlaine Harris (which I'm slowly making my way through), True Blood's central premise is that vampires have "come out of the coffin" so to speak and are attempting to integrate with a highly distrustful mainstream society. The series is chiefly set in the small fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps and centres on a telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) who finds herself embroiled in all kinds of supernatural drama when she falls in love with Civil War era vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) - the first man whose mind she can't read. Sporting a colourful supporting cast and a pitch black sense of humour, True Blood is a delicious mix of the supernatural, sauciness, smuttiness and Southern cliches. It's also cable …

Movies today, South Africa: Robin Hood dressed up to the 9

Six new films open in South Africa today, These include The Last Song, a wholesome Miley Cyrus family drama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel (20% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes); Red Cliff, a Chinese epic from John Woo centred on a historic 3rd Century ADE battle (88% Fresh); and the Oscar nominated A Serious Man (88% Fresh), the latest black comedy offering from the Coen Brothers. If you are in a "Local is Lekker" mood, seeing as the South Africa-hosted Football World Cup is now less than a month away, there's also race-and-religion-centric comedy I Now Pronounce You Black and White.

My top 2 movie picks for this week, though?

First up is Robin Hood, which marks the umpteenth reteaming of director Ridley Scott and his Gladiator star Russell Crowe. Based on the beloved English folktale, this new Robin Hood is being touted as a "realistic" reimagining of Sherwood Forest's famous archer-bandit. This time Robin is in William Wallace mode, leading a rebellion against c…

Date Night reviewed

Date Night is that rarest film for me – a movie that I ended up watching absolutely “cold,” having never been exposed to any pre-release hype, any trailers and any marketing media apart from the poster. I didn’t know what to expect of this comedy, which for the first time teams humour heavyweights Steve Carell and Tina Fey. I’m pleased to report though that the film is one of the most entertaining comedies of 2010 so far, keeping the laughs at all time feather-light without slipping into juvenile territory.

Date Night centres on Phil and Claire Foster, an upper middle class couple from New Jersey who find their marriage is in a rut. Even their weekly date night, which consists of a steakhouse dinner followed by a movie, has become tired routine. And when their best friends announce that they’re divorcing because they’ve devolved into just “really excellent roommates”, the Fosters enter mild panic mode. Desperate for spontaneity, they head to New York for dinner at the hottest new resta…

RIP Frank Frazetta - Father of fantasy illustration

Artist Frank Frazetta passed away on Monday, 10 May from a stroke at the age of 82. "Who?" you may ask. Well, I admit that I had the same reaction two years ago with the passing of Gary Gygax. Evidently there are many fantasy creators and contributors out there whose work we are instantly familiar with, and passionate about, but whose names we fail to remember. Until it's too late...

Now the name Frank Frazetta was vaguely familiar to me but it wasn't until I started reading more about him that I realised the man is the father of fantasy illustration - more specifically Sword & Sorcery. I know that when I think of Sword & Sorcery as a fantasy sub-genre as a whole, it's Frazetta's stunning paintings that pass in front of my mind's eye before any kind of textual descriptor. Think bulky heroes with battle axes and fur Speedos, flinging themselves into battle. Think bikini-clad, voluptuous women sprawled on the floor, or clinging to the hero's leg…