Showing posts from October, 2010

Movies releasing in SA today: Setting 3D Piranhas on Life as We Know It

Well it's another pretty dud week at the movies - although things will improve dramatically from next week with a bumper crop of acclaimed new movies releasing. Anyway, your choices today are pretty much as follows:

For romantic comedy lovers there's Life As We Know It, starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel as a neatness freak (her) and slob (him) whose single shared love is their best friends' baby daughter - their goddaughter in fact. When their best friends are killed in a car accident, this odd couple have to work together to raise the child... and maybe find love in the process, despite their differences. Blah, blah, blah.

I can't say that Life As We Know It appeals to me at all. It sounds so damn generic, saccharine and predictable on every single level. Unsurprisingly, the film is 30% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, where critics have praised Heigel and Duhamel as a charming on-screen couple who are otherwise mired in paint-by-numbers mediocrity.

That then leaves P…

Girlz ‘N’ Games webcomic #77: Monster Mash-up

Presenting the special Halloween 2010 edition of Girlz ‘N’ Games!

This comic is really just a little bit of fun stemming from a geeky real-life discussion about the next big trend in supernatural-horror-fantasy romance literature. The guys behind webcomic biggie Penny Arcade have, of course, already proposed their theory, and well, this is my (not particularly serious) thinking.

This strip may make more sense to pen-and-paper role-players than casual readers, but hopefully the Twilight references are enough to give anyone a bit of a chuckle.

Just to explain, the comic features three of the signature monsters invented specifically for Dungeons & Dragons. The game’s Monster Manual (which Gary is holding) includes many fantasy beastie staples – such as goblins and orcs and duh, dragons – but there are also many creatures unique to the game. Like the gelatinous cube, floating multi-eyed beholder and carrion bird-meets-cockroach hook horror referenced here. There are others monsters as we…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo spoiler-free movie review

For some people it won’t matter how heartily I recommend the big screen adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novelThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They will instantly refuse to watch the movie when they realise it is in Swedish with English subtitles. And certainly at the screening I attended there were at least three groups of people who walked out within the first 30 minutes – no doubt because of the language issue.

These people did, however, truly miss out on one of the best films to release in South Africa this year – a truly engaging murder mystery made more potent by its unflinching, uncomfortably graphic depiction of violence against women. Without giving too much away The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo makes the case that Europe isn’t as civilised and forward thinking in regards to gender issues as it often appears. The film – like the book, presumably (I haven’t read it yet) – emphasises that real life horror stories like the Josef Fritzl incident aren’t as uncommon in the F…

Movies opening today: A Machete to Alpha and Omega

In terms of new movies opening in South Africa today, I'm pretty sure my regular blog readers won't be catching the new Zac Efron "time to let go" drama Charlie St. Cloud (28% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), which is based on the bestselling novel by Ben Sherwood.

I also actually don't know if new animated family film Alpha and Omega (15% Fresh) - which is screening in 3D and conventional format- will have much appeal either. I mean I'm an animation lover and I wasn't impressed at all by the trailer for this tale of a wolf underdog (uh, kinda literally) who is forced into a cross country adventure with the alpha female he adores. By all accounts, Alpha and Omega is bland all around, and won't please anyone but the youngest, most undemanding moviegoers.

The most high profile release of the week then is Machete, a deliberately overblown action movie that, interestingly enough, grew out of the exceptionally well-received fake trailer attached to writer-directo…

The Last Airbender film review

There are some bad movies that are so boisterous; so cocky despite their crapness that they're marvellous fun to shred afterwards. Then there are those bad movies so limp; so apparently disinterested in themselves that it requires mammoth effort to work up the energy to bash them. Family fantasy The Last Airbender is an unfortunate case of the latter.

Adapted for the screen and directed by M. Night Shyamalan - the man responsible for, among others, The Sixth Sense, Signs, Lady in the Water and The Happening - The Last Airbender is based on the hit Nickelodeon animated series that is arguably the most enjoyable cartoon, uniting children and adults alike, to emerge during the first decade of the 21st Century.

Mixing martial arts and magic, The Last Airbender is set in a Far Eastern-style world split according to the four elements: there is the Fire Nation, the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom and the Air Nomads. In each of the different groups there are "benders", people who …

Trailer Tuesday: The Tempest

There was a period in the second half of the 1990s when big screen adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays were all the rage. Movies released in this period, just to mention a few, included Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo+Juliet, Richard III, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Hamlet,Hamlet (again) and of course the teen flicks that maintained the Shakespearean stories but dumped the dialogue, 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew) and O (based on Othello). Then the trend petered out... pretty much just as I finished high school and just as I had pretty much watched all of these as the result of encouragement from English teachers.

Anyway, the point is that it's been a while since a high profile Shakespearean adaptation has hit cinemas. That is soon going to be rectified, however, with the release of The Tempest - and you don't get much more high profile than this production. Helmed by Julie (Frida, Across The Universe, The Lion …

Movies released today: Centurions with Dragon Tattoos

Well, I’ll be doing my little write-up of South Africa’s Friday cinema releases a little differently… at least for a while. Instead of trying to list everything, I’m just going to profile the big name releases, and other lesser known movies with popular stars in them – basically the films I think you, my readers, may consider watching.

First up then is The Switch, the latest Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. Aniston stars as a single woman who decides to have a child via artificial insemination. During the party to celebrate her impending impregnation, her best guy friend (Jason Bateman) knocks over the carefully chosen semen sample. Terrified of being found out, and suffering from a severe case of beer logic, he fills the cup himself… The result is that seven years later he’s trying to win over the unrequited love of his life, and get to know his son better.

Honestly I wasn’t going to give this one the time of day, especially after watching the wretched trailer. However, with a Rotten…

Girlz ‘N’ Games webcomic #76: Definitely Expendable

Back after a short move-related hiatus, the new Girlz ‘N’ Games comic is a distinctly post-modern mash-up of movies and gaming of the past 25 years or so.

I’m sure many people won’t be able to identify every reference – and for that I apologise, because at least one is rather obscure – but really the strip is a nod to Hollywood and the gaming industry’s long tradition of dumping troubled anti-heroes on a tropical island, arming them with all kinds of guns and other explosive military goodies, and then pitting them against countless local soldiers – typically loyal to a cruel local dictator.

The Expendables, although more miss than hit in terms of action movie entertainment, is the most recent example of a pop culture property adopting this plot. As for the other films and games referenced in Girlz ‘N’ Games #76, you can read more about them here, here and here.

It’s also rather intriguing that when once upon a time island assaults were one-man affairs, now they are typically squad effort…

New Lazygamer column: Getting started with couples gaming

Just to let you know my new casual gaming column is up over at Lazygamer, South Africa's top rated gaming website. This column is especially for guys trying to get their partner gaming. Enjoy!

Super week for DC superheroes

It’s been a fantastic week for comic book geeks to get their “Squee” on, with major announcements being made about 2 of DC Comics’ most iconic characters, and their leap from the printed page to live-action media. As Warner-DC’s non-print media division, DC Entertainment undergoes a major shake-up, apparently some long in-development projects have been jolted back to life. These are Wonder Woman and Superman reboot, The Man of Steel.

Fans have been waiting for a Wonder Woman film for years – and I previously wrote in detail about my desire for a World War II-set film that paid homage to the Amazonian princess’s Golden Age roots, complete with tongue-in-cheek bondage allusions. However, Warner Bros. executives have apparently never quite worked out what to do with Diana, arguably the most powerful character in the DC Universe next to Superman.

Last year’s animated Wonder Woman film was excellent, but a live-action project remained stuck in development hell, jumping from different writer …

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (3D) reviewed

If the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film was based purely on visual achievement, there’s no doubt that Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole would be the big 2010 winner. Directed by 300 and Watchmen’s Zack Snyder, this CGI-animated family fantasy is easily the most beautiful looking movie of the year.

Legend of the Guardians is Avatar for 2010 – bulging with cinematic eye candy. But that’s not where the Avatar comparisons end. Like James Cameron’s box office behemoth, Legend of Guardians is lucky to be so pretty because it’s otherwise very flat in terms of plot and character development.

Based on the youth novels by Kathryn Lasky, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole centres on Barn Owl brothers Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) and Kludd (Ryan Kwanten), who are caught up in the plans of an evil band of owls, known as the Pure Ones. While resentful Kludd falls under the spell of Pure Ones leaders Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton) and Nyra (Helen Mirren), dreamer Soren – wi…

A note about blog updates

Right, so I've arrived in Cape Town and am back working full-time in an advertising agency environment - as a copywriter and proofer. One day I will achieve professional blogger status! So here's hoping I can make those valuable New Media connections while I'm in the Mother City.

Anyway, blogging transmission will resume as of today, although I can't currently guarantee 5-day-a-week updates. My goal for the time being then is to produce 3 quality posts a week. Starting now...