Showing posts from June, 2010

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #70: The Pinnacle of Annoyance

So, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching the quarter finals stage, and you just knew I couldn't resist at least one football-tinged Girlz 'N' Games comic before the tournament is over... especially since this year's World Cup is taking place in my home country of South Africa.

The thing is, once the final game is over and the winners' trophy dished out, the one thing the SA World Cup will be remembered for in the long run is a certain plastic, much maligned, trumpet. Brace yourself because unless it's banned from future international events (not an impossibility), you will be hearing a lot more of the vuvuzela!

Girlz 'N' Games #70 is technically a gaming comic, although this time the gaming depicted is pen-and-paper tabletop role-playing as opposed to the electronic kind. For those unfamiliar with fantasy role-playing - and for who this comic may therefore be rather mystifying - let me explain the connection between a droning World Cup horn and tra…

Happy Eclipse Day, everyone!

A little bit of fun for Wednesday morning... in "celebration" of the release of Twilight movie adaptation #3:

Trailer Tuesday - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Well, if you haven't seen the trailer for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse by now, you'll only have to wait out a few more days to escape, because the film opens tomorrow, Wednesday, 30 June, in North America, South Africa and pretty much the entire rest of the world... except Japan. In fact, most places are actually offering midnight screenings of the movie, kicking off at 23:59 tonight - specially for giddy Twihards.

In case you don't know, Eclipse is the third film in the Twilight film franchise, which is, of course, based on Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful fantasy-romance quadrilogy of books. In installment #3 in the series, 18 year old Bella Swan's (Kristen Stewart) life is growing increasingly complicated. High school graduation is looming, her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) will only turn her into an immortal if she marries him, and suddenly she's struggling to choose between Edward and her best friend - and apparent soul-mate - Jacob Bl…

Goodbye IMAX South Africa

It's a sad week for South African movie lovers. This Wednesday, 30 June, IMAX is shutting down in the country, for good.

At one stage, there were at least 4 cinemas offering local audiences the giant format, multi-storey visuals IMAX theatres are famous for worldwide. For the past few years though only 2 IMAX cinemas have operated in South Africa: the Gateway IMAX theatre in Durban, and Menlyn Park IMAX in Pretoria. Johannesburg's Hyde Park IMAX closed in 2003 and Cape Town's Victoria & Alfred Waterfront IMAX (where I had my first ever IMAX experience) shut down in 2004.

Now, Gateway and Menlyn Park IMAX are also going the way of the dodo. Although there had been whisperings of closure for a few months now, it was difficult finding official information on the matter. As usual, the South African IMAX website is useless. Finally though, this press release appeared on the Gateway shopping mall website, and it explains matters simply enough:

IMAX Theatres to Close at the end …

Movies releasing today, SA: The Fourth Kind is Out of Your League, plus some Twilight action

If your Football World Cup fever hasn't yet broken, and you're not interested in hitting Nu Metro and Ster Kinekor cinemas to watch selected matches on the big screen in 3D (just remember your 3D glasses if you do go!), South Africans may be lured to movie houses to watch one of this weekend's 4 new releases.

Firstly, there's animated family comedy Toy Story 3 (98% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), released now in normal 2D after its 3D-only debut last Friday. Is the film worth watching? Well, you can read my review here.

For anyone in the market for some pedigreed British drama, there's Creation (46% Fresh), starring Paul (Legion) Bettany and his real life wife, Jennifer Connelly. Part fiction, part historical fact, this movie biography looks at the heart-wrenching events that led Charles Darwin to write On the Origin of the Species in the mid 1800s.

Somewhat more lighthearted is "boy" romantic comedy She's Out of My League, starring cinema's favourite gan…

Bend It Like Beauty reviewed

Durbanites have just 4 more nights to catch one-man comedy show Bend It Like Beauty at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, located at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard College Campus. Having recently played for 3 weeks in London theatres, and about to hit the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, Bend It Like Beauty has been enjoying a 2-week Durban run from 15- 27 June.

Written and performed by South African theatre personality Ben Voss, Bend It Like Beauty centres on fictional character Beauty Ramapelepele, a former domestic worker who, as a previously disadvantaged black woman, has thrived in post-Apartheid South Africa thanks to her Afrocentric clothing range and excellent political connections. Basically Beauty, and Voss's whole act, can be viewed as a 21st Century version of Pieter-Dirk Uys's beloved "man in drag" creation, Evita Bezuidenhout.

Already popularised on radio stations East Coast Radio and Jacaranda FM, Beauty Ramapelepele is not the magnanimous T…

Toy Story 3 reviewed

Toy Story 3 is this year’s big animated movie release from family entertainment giants, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. Following the release of critically acclaimed, multi-award winners WALL-E and Up in the past 2 years alone, Toy Story 3 has a lot to live up to. In addition, the film is the third and final movie in a trilogy, as well as Pixar’s first sequel since 1999’s Toy Story 2. The big question before Toy Story 3’s release then was whether it could recapture the magic of the original Toy Story – or demonstrate any of the freshness that typically evaporates from a movie franchise by the time a threequel is released? In a pleasant surprise, Toy Story 3 is an entertaining, original and self-contained entry in the series. What the film does suffer from, however, is a bad case of trailer over-revelation.

Toy Story 3’s big emotional kick comes from the nostalgia it dredges from the hearts of audiences who grew up watching the Toy Story films – which began with the gr…

Trailer Tuesday: The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Well, it's been a while in the making - especially since Disney abandoned the franchise in late 2008, only to be replaced by Fox - but come December we'll be able to watch #3 in the Chronicles of Narnia film series: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Based on C.S. Lewis's beloved children's book (and Christian allegory), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader focuses on the return of the two youngest Pevensie children, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), to Narnia - now with their obnoxious cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) in tow. This time the children help dashing King Caspian (Ben Barnes) on his odyssey to the end of the world to find the seven lost lords of Narnia - allies of his father - who were exiled from Narnia during the rule of Caspian's evil uncle. The sea voyage aboard the ship known as the Dawn Treader takes Caspian, the children, Caspian's crew and battle-loving mouse Reepicheep (now voiced by Bill Nighy as opp…

3D movie rip-off: Nu Metro's cheeky new "pay extra" policy

When it comes to movie-going, these days nothing seems to get as much bad press as 3D.

Typically the negativity is directed at film studios who rush 3D conversions of films shot in traditional 2D so that they can charge the higher prices audiences have come to associate with the movie format flavour of the moment. After the mediocre multi-dimension treatments given to Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, where the 3D was as jarring and unsubtle as if you were looking at the screen through a View-Master, many people - myself included - swore to never watch 3D conversions again. The film has to be specifically designed for 3D from the outset - such as Avatar or Coraline - to justify paying inflated 3D prices... which, in South Africa, are typically double the cost of a normal movie ticket.

Now is looks like cinema chains and distributors are getting in on the 3D rip-off action. As I discovered on Friday night, Nu Metro cinemas across South Africa will now be charging an additional…

Happy Father's Day

What better way to celebrate Father's Day than with a clip of the greatest movie dad of all time? Not only can he carry entire trees over his shoulder but he'll slaughter a whole island of bad guys to rescue his little girl.

They should really show this movie every year on Father's Day, like It's a Wonderful Life come Christmas.

So, if you're a devoted dad, a happy Father's Day to you!

Movies opening in SA, today: Toy Story 3 time!

Although it's another busy weekend at the cinema, with 7 new films being released in South Africa, it's still another "meh" set of movie debuts. It's been well over a month since I've felt a burning desire to rush out on opening night for a new release, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon. This year's midyear blockbuster season is turning out to be a real dud.

But I digress.

Movies opening locally today include Hindi mythological-drama Raavan; the latest collaboration between acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar and Penelope Cruz, entitled Broken Embraces (82% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes); and Death at a Funeral (38% Fresh), which is an American remake of the riotous 2007 British comedy of the same name. This time with Chris Rock, Danny Glover, Zoe Saldana and Martin Lawrence.

For anyone in the market for some action sci-fi, there's the distinctly B-grade Mutant Chronicles (16% Fresh), loosely based on the post-Apocalyptic roleplaying game…

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #69: Sophie's Choice

There's not much to explain about this new, straightforward Girlz 'N' Games comic. Basically it's a bit of commentary about the backlash that highly successful, female-orientated entertainment is often subjected to.

These days the 2 pop culture femme franchises that provoke the strongest reaction are Twilight and Sex & The City. Having both originated on the printed page, these series leaped to the big screen as massive commercial hits. In 2010, movie sequels for both will be, or have already been, released.

Now I'm not saying that either Twilight or Sex & The City are outstanding (although I was a huge fan of the excellent S&TC TV series). They're average to bad cultural products in fact. I'm just disturbed by the amount of vitriol splashed in their direction. Sometimes it's pure, rabid hate. And come on, are they really any dumber than "guy" franchises like The Fast & The Furious?

What are people, particularly guys, so up…

Break in transmission

No blog update today. It's a public holiday in South Africa - Youth Day - so I'm taking the day off. Updates will resume again tomorrow as usual, with the brand new Girlz 'N' Games webcomic. Til then, have a great day... and here's a little reminder of the wacky (yet highly enjoyable) pop culture entrancing the youth of today.

Hot men in stilettos, jockeys and pudding bowl haircuts. Enjoy!

Trailer Tuesday: MegaMind

It's taken DreamWorks Animation 6 years but they finally have an answer to Disney-Pixar's The Incredibles: MegaMind. CGI-animated comedy MegaMind is a pop culture-saturated satire of superheroes. As the trailer above makes clear, Superman is the cape-and-spandex wearer who will be subjected to most of the lightweight mockery.

For the record, MegaMind is a role-reversal tale where the main character is actually a supervillain - a giant-brained alien genius called Megamind. Although the trailer focuses on Megamind's rivalry with indestructible hero Metro Man, the film is chiefly about what happens when Megamind accidentally defeats his nemesis. A villain is nothing without a hero to thwart his cunning plans, and a depressed Megamind eventually creates new heroes to fight. When one of his creations proves to be out of control, however, Megamind has to choose between continuing his evil ways or becoming one of the good guys. And somehow, considering this is a mainstream family …

Snow & the FIFA World Cup: A weekend of firsts

Well, I certainly got around this weekend... although not in that way, gutterminds.

I spent Friday through Sunday midday in the Southern Drakensberg mountains of my home province of KwaZulu-Natal. The World Cup may be on (and yes, I missed the opening ceremony and first game of the tournament), but KZN tourism has taken a serious knock this year. The region is having its worst tourist season in decades for a number of reasons that include an over-reliance on FIFA for promoting KZN accommodation options, bloated accommodation pricing for the World Cup period and block bookings that chased away the majority of locals (typically from Gauteng) who normally visit sunny, warm Natal during the chilly South African winter. The point is that instead of being jam packed with vacationing families like it normally is at this time of year, the Berg is blissfully quiet.

Thanks to a friend with family timeshare, we were staying at The Fairways, an exclusive section of Drakensberg Gardens Golf & L…

Movies released today, South Africa: Letters to Doctor Parnassus

Although I'm sure all South Africans will be glued to their TV screens today to watch the opening ceremony and first game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup (which we're the first African nation to host for those who don't know), in the coming days and weeks I'm sure many locals will be seeking escape from soccer fever in the soothing darkness of the cinema.

Today, 6 new movies debut. Considering 5-week long school holidays have kicked off you may want to amuse the kids for a few hours with this year's Garfield, family film Marmaduke, based on the decades old Great Dane comic strip (11% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). For older audiences, meanwhile, there's District 13: Ultimatum (73% Fresh) a French action thriller from writer-producer Luc (La Femme Nikita, The Professional, Taken) Besson; British drama Endgame (83% Fresh), focusing on the peace talks that finally ended Apartheid; and a filmed production of The Pharoah's Daughter, as performed by the Bolshoi Ballet.


Girlz 'N' Games goes A-Team

Something a little different for today... Seeing as the big screen reimagining of classic, highly escapist, and much beloved 80's TV series The A-Team hits US cinemas tomorrow - and South African moviehouses on 20 August - I thought I'd post up this little piece of A-Team themed Girlz 'N' Games artwork that I drew while working on the webcomic's brand spanking new official site (still a project in progress at this point).

What was surprising was just how perfectly the GNG characters of Erin, Todd, Dorian and the Ex-Bok fit the roles of disguise-loving Hannibal Smith, compulsion-driven Mad Murdock, dashing ladies' man Face and surly, hulking BA Baracus, respectively. I had so much fun drawing this "dress-up" tribute that I may do more of them in future, time and ease of adaptation permitting.

Life evaluation

Well, I don't often write about my personal life on this blog anymore. It's got me into way too much trouble in the past. However, for those of you who may be interested in the person who provides you with your geeky pop culture fix every day, the following may be of interest to you.

As many of you may know, I was subjected to voluntary retrenchment at the end of September last year. Since then I've been working on my personal projects, doing freelance copywriting and online content work whenever possible, trying my hand at a few different part-time jobs and sending out my CV for any positions I am suitable for.

In spending so much time on job websites, and just evaluating my life in general, I came to the following conclusions:

1) I want to relocate to Cape Town. As far as "creative" jobs go, options are very limited in Durban, AKA Dirtbin, AKA The Fishing Village. If I stay in South Africa - because Plan B is an easy move to the United Kingdom with my British pass…