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Showing posts from November, 2010

Rockin’ movie trailers

I love a good movie trailer. A good trailer can send me to stratospheric levels of “Squee” about a film I previously only had a mild curiosity about, or a bucket full of reservations. Now of course a trailer can completely mislead you about the quality of the finished film. There’s been MANY a case of a teaser being much better than the movie it’s advertising – and I admit you’ll see a couple of examples of that below.

The point of this blog post is to highlight the power of music when it comes to editing together trailers. Music choice is a vital component because the right accompanying track can really “make” a trailer. Particularly if the sampled song features lyrics or a tone that perfectly suits the movie – even when you only realise this after a little research.

Now evidently Zack Snyder - a former TV commercials director - is a helmer who has a large say when trailers are made for his films because the teasers are consistently outstanding in terms of their music use. When combine…

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 film review

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After the criminally boring Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a solid return to form for the fantasy adventure franchise. And it’s a good thing too, seeing as this is the final entry in the series – or at least the first half of it anyway – based on the last of JK Rowling’s 7 bestselling novels. It would be very disappointing if the Harry Potter cinema phenomenon ended limply. However, although Part 2 of Deathly Hallows is set to only open in July 2011, at this point it seems likely the series will conclude on a solid, satisfying, if not completely faultless, note.


Perhaps what is most immediately obvious about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is just how the film franchise has evolved over the years. Audiences still remain glued to their seats, captivated for full 140 minute stretches, but gone is the sense of wide-eyed wonder that permeated the first two films in the series – as tween Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) was exposed to th…

Friendly reminder: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 releases in SA today

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Forget movies releasing this Friday. In fact, there is nothing notable hitting South African cinemas then at all (unless you actually give a shit about animated comedy Open Season 3!). The film release schedule has been cleared to make space for today's big midweek debut - the fantasy cinema behemoth that is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Having opened last Friday in the United States and many other international regions, the film releases locally today.


Of course the really hardcore, SA-based Potter addicts are likely to have already watched the film at one of the multiple preview screenings that have taken place over the past fortnight. However, for everyone else today is the day! So begins the seventh and final installment (broken into 2 parts) in the massively successful film franchise - based on the massively successful book series by JK Rowling.

This is it for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint). Having defeated Hogwarts headm…

Trailer Tuesday: Spud - The Movie

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Truly the End of Days is nigh if I'm profiling a South African movie as part of the Trailer Tuesday feature! However Spud: The Movie isn't just another AIDs drama / "klein dorpie" fliek / Afrikaans musical / soapie adaptation / urban crime drama or *cough* local Twilight/Blade/Daybreakers wannabe. Spud is based on one of South Africa's most beloved, bestselling novels of recent years, John van de Ruit's Spud.


Heavily autobiographical, Spud is set in 1990 (the same year as Nelson Mandela's release from prison) and centres on scrawny 13 year old John Milton (Troye Sivan) who is about to begin his first year at Michaelhouse, an exclusive boarding school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Nicknamed Spud because of his size, Milton begins his high school experience as a miserable, frequently bullied outsider. Things change however when he is befriended by eccentric, foul-mouthed English teacher The Guv (John Cleese), is gradually accepted by his crazy class and hou…

The Crazies (2010) reviewed

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A remake of the 1973 cult classic from cinema’s “Zombie Grandfather,” George A. Romero, The Crazies is a solid, well-made horror movie. The film is nothing exceptional but neither is it trash – deliberate or unintentional – making for a refreshing change given many other entries in the genre recently. In time The Crazies 2010 will probably even develop a greater following, as memories fade of the film’s trailer, which unfortunately spoils many of the movie’s best moments. So don’t watch the trailer if you want to have a much more enjoyable, unpredictable time with The Crazies.


Essentially a rabid zombie movie without zombies, The Crazies centres on the peaceful fictional farming community of Ogden Marsh, in the American Midwest. Life is good for sheriff David Dutten (Timothy Olyphant), his newly pregnant doctor wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), their friends and neighbours. But this all changes when an engineered virus is accidentally unleashed in the town, turning residents into homicidal m…

The Social Network film review

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The Social Network certainly isn’t a film that needs to be viewed on the big screen. It’s interesting enough to deserve a viewing at some point though, particularly if you have any entrepreneurial aspirations, a fascination with social media or are just curious about the evolution of Facebook – which in less than a decade has established itself as Thee Social Hub on the Internet, revolutionising how people interact and open up their lives to friends.


The simplest way to think of The Social Network is as a big screen Noughties descendent of Pirates of Silicon Valley, that highly acclaimed made-for-TV movie examining the rivalries between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and the simultaneous development of the home computer.

Based on real life events, plot wise The Social Network is your pretty standard “rise to the top” movie laced with tech flavouring. We’ve seen the basic tale already in dozens of commerce-centric and gangster movies – a not especially nice guy protagonist, through a combina…

Movies opening today, SA: RED Jackasses in 3D

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Four notable new movies open in South Africa today. Only 2 really entice me to the point of earning my Pick of the Week tags; but the others do warrant a mention.

So if you’re in a “Local is Lekker” mood there’s Liefling: Die Movie, which is being marketed as the first full blown Afrikaans musical in over 30 years. By the looks of things, it’s a South African mix of Valentine’s Day and Mamma Mia! – populated with local actors and musical performers like Lika Berning, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Marlee van der Merwe, Sonja Herholdt, Elize Cawood, Rouel Beukes and Kurt Darren – who will all be belting out something like 25 beloved local love songs.


Battle for Terra, meanwhile, is a CGI-animated sci-fi adventure that has taken 3 years to reach our shores, mostly because in-between it was undergoing a 3D conversion. Anyway, reading its synopsis, Battle for Terra sounds very Avatar-ish, and maybe a little bit Titan A.E. – peaceful aliens living on an oxygen-free, but resource-rich, planet are attac…

The Girl Who Played with Fire spoiler-free film review

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Given how excellent the Swedish film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was, expectations were naturally high that movie sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire – based of course on the second of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millennium Trilogy novels – would be just as electrifying. Unfortunately though, while the film entertains, it’s impossible to disregard its many flaws, and in the end it’s just not as good as the first film in the series.


Part of the problem with The Girl Who Played with Fire is the lack of a truly engaging mystery at its core. Sure there are secrets to unearth but they are nowhere near as intriguing as the 40 year old disappearance – linked to Nazism, incest, serial killing and misogyny – that drove the narrative in Dragon Tattoo.

This time around supremely resourceful goth hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) finds herself the centre of unwanted media and police attention when she is framed for three murders. Lisbeth’s former partner and lover, journalis…

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #78: Machete Movember

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And my brand new Girlz 'N' Games comic is here!

November is a busy month for personal challenges and projects, what with moustache-growing Movember and NaNoWriMo – with its 50 000 word novel-writing demands – both running simultaneously.

I know that there are plenty of women out there who every year wish that the men in their lives would forget about sprouting facial hair and instead just stick to hammering away on a keyboard. In 2010 these ladies have an additional concern on top of their usual Movember repulsions – the Machete craze!

Perhaps writer-director Robert Rodriguez’s tribute to 70s Exploitation Cinema opened too long ago in the United States (early September) for guys there to remember about surly tough guy Danny Trejo and his handlebar moustache. However, the movie hit South African cinemas only a few weeks ago (read my review here), just in time to provide some serious inspiration for Movember 2010. After all, why settle for a typical Thomson and Thompson ‘stache whe…

Review of The Mystery Ghost Bus Tour – Durban

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One of the chief negatives listed about Capricorns is that they are too cautious. The stubborn little seagoat is happy to sit in a rut and never take chances. It’s a characteristic I know I struggle with, but I’ve been trying hard lately to force myself out of my comfort zone – to overcome my anxiety, and try new things.

So, despite the cynicism and disinterest of many friends – which I largely put down to their own paralysing “No” Man Syndrome – I bought my ticket for Durban’s inaugural Mystery Ghost Bus Tour, which is no doubt intended to be an exciting new attraction for locals and tourists alike; helping them to experience the city in a new and spooky way.

For the record, The Mystery Ghost Bus Tour is bookable through Computicket, and has been running once or twice a month in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown (during the annual Arts Festival) for several years now. After (apparently) 4 years of research it has finally reached the East Coast of South A…

Movies releasing today: Unstoppable Crazies

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For the second week in a row there are at least 2 new movies worth catching in South Africa - particularly if your cinema tastes veer towards the action blockbustery and creepy apocalyptic. Like mine!

So, yes, after a dud midyear movie season where I found myself slipping more and more into disillusionment and disappointment, I'm actually now finally in my excitement element - and I'm likely to stay like this all the way into the first quarter of 2011, with something appealing opening up pretty much every Friday.

Anyway, on this blog I've already profiled both movies opening today, but here's a little recap, and why exactly you should care about these 2 flicks.

Perhaps closer to Speed more than anything else in recent years, Unstoppable is a real-life-inspired action film centred on a runaway freight train - laden with toxic chemicals - that is heading towards a built-up urban area. It falls to engineer Denzel Washington and train conductor Chris Pine to stop it, while st…

Trailer Tuesday: Unstoppable

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It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been treated to a good ol’ fashioned, A-grade “everyman against the odds” action film. Well, Unstoppable – starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine – looks set to change that. Judging by the trailer, the film delivers the old school, gratifying goods; combining likeable characters, solid performances from big name stars and an utterly ludicrous plot.

Admittedly Unstoppable completely crept up on me, but having watched the film’s trailer for the first time 2 weeks ago, the movie immediately rocketed to the front of my “must watch in the near future” list... largely because it looks like a popcorn flick of the highest pedigree. Speed for the 21st Century!


Loosely based on the real life story of the 2001 Crazy Eights runaway train incident, Unstoppable centres on an unmanned freight train, carrying a cargo of hazardous chemicals, that is barreling towards a heavily populated urban centre. Two very different family men, a veteran railroad enginee…

Movies releasing in SA today: Girls who Play with the Social Network

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It's a bumper week for new movies releasing at South African cinemas.

For people in the mood for a laugh there are two comedies making their debut today. The Infidel is a British comedy about a Muslim (Omid Djalili) who undergoes a crisis of identity when he learns that not only was he adopted, but his birth parents are Jewish. Amusing and nonthreatening, The Infidel was very well received when it screened as part of the Durban International Film Festival earlier this year, and the film is 62% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.


Less highly rated is You Again, an all-star comedy that has achieved a pitiful 15% Fresh rating. Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis,Sigourney Weaver,Odette Yustman and Betty White star in this tale of a mother (Curtis) and daughter (Bell) who come face to face with their respective high school arch-nemeses at a family wedding. Cue cat fights, contrived revenge schemes and characters learning to be better people. Despite the enticingly talented female cast, critics are cal…

Machete film review

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It’s become something of a Hollywood trend lately to make deliberately B-grade movies that feel like a throwback to their genre predecessors. The Expendables was in theory (more than execution) an old school 80s action movie, Piranha 3D is vintage schlock horror and now there’s Machete, done in the style of 70s exploitation movies.


Of course, it’s risky making intentional junk cinema. Not only can the audience grow tired of the gimmick, but if a film veers too far into trash territory, that’s what it becomes entirely, with all the referential winks and in-jokes behind it fading away. Fortunately, in the case of Machete the film is much more than a simple (if sublimely ridiculous) tribute to exploitation movies. The movie also offers an amusing commentary on American-Mexican social relations. It’s these two elements combined, along with some excellent performances, that make Machete such an enjoyable experience – particularly if your movie tastes tend towards the bloody and the cartooni…

New Lazygamer column: Beware the Decepticons

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It's been a break of a few weeks but my brand new gaming column is up at Lazygamer.co.za, South Africa's top gaming website. This specific series entry examines the topic of fake gamer girls and their manipulative ways. Give it a read:)

The Cape Town Experience: Part 1

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I’ve been treating my move to South Africa’s Mother City as essentially a working holiday. Every weekend I try to experience at least one touristy thing in the hope of getting to better know South Africa’s best, and most beautiful city (seriously!). In turn I hope that I can then offer informed recommendations to any blog readers keen to visit Cape Town and its famous surrounding regions. The following are my first month’s general observations. It’s quite a lengthy post though so I’ll save my first month’s actual tourist experiences, and related reviews, for the next blog entry in the series.

View from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, looking up at Table Mountain.

The sun: I cannot stress enough the need to always have a hat and sunblock with you when travelling around Cape Town. Perhaps it’s the latitude of the city, but the sun’s rays feel incredibly strong here. I’m from Durban, South Africa’s perennially warm, Summery city and while it’s the humidity at home that’s a killer, he…