Showing posts from April, 2011

Thor (3D) film review

Another entertaining superhero franchise has arrived. The first Thor movie, based on one of Marvel Comic’s most powerful (and mythological) characters, is finally here, and I’m pleased to report it’s an enjoyable experience to rival 2008's Iron Man film adaptation – deftly mixing action, humour and likeable characters. Thor won’t revolutionise cinema as we know it, and the film certainly isn’t flawless, but it’s still a lot of lightweight fun to leave you smiling.

Kicking off with a Lord of the Rings-esque battle that you wish was longer, Thor doesn’t labour over complex, overwhelming explanations of the characters’ universe. It gets straight to the point, and this simplicity is appreciated by the audience, myself included, who are largely unfamiliar with Marvel’s god hero.

So it’s quickly established that the powerful beings who inhabit Asgard (still vaguely remembered by humans as Scandinavian mythology) are peacekeepers of the Nine Realms, which include Asgard, Earth and Jotunhei…

Movies releasing in South Africa today: Disgraced gods & disowned billionaires

In terms of notable new releases hitting South African cinemas today there are 2 to consider.

Arthur is a remake of the classic 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore. Russell Brand appears as the title character, an irresponsible playboy who has never had to grow up. In fact, he is still cared for by his childhood nanny (Helen Mirren). Problems arise though when Arthur is forced by his mother (Geraldine James) to enter an arranged marriage with aggressive heiress Jennifer Garner or be denied his own billion dollar inheritance. Does Arthur have the courage to stay true to his heart if it means poverty? Will he finally stand up for himself and grow up?

I was looking forward to this one until I watched the trailer - where Brand's Arthur appeared to be more juvenile and borderline retarded than likeably mischievous. And, alas, the film's man-child focus apparently gets tired very quickly. Arthur is just 28% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are calling the fi…

Sucker Punch film review

Given the tepid response from international critics and audiences to Sucker Punch, the latest action fantasy from 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder, several things surprised me when I watched the film:

1) Sucker Punch is surprisingly interesting thematically.
2) For a CGI-saturated blockbuster, Sucker Punch is exceptionally well acted.
3) Although the film's heroines kick ass in skimpy clothing, Sucker Punch is neither salacious nor exploitative.
4) The big action scenes are typically the weakest part of the film.

In terms of plot, Sucker Punch comes across like a frenzied blending of Return to Oz, Pretty Baby, Shutter Island, Sin City, and, even Charlie's Angels - all set to a rocking contemporary score. Already traumatised by her mother's death, Babydoll (Emily Browning) is hauled off to a mental asylum after retaliating against her lecherous, abusive stepfather. Scheduled for a lobotomy in under a week, Babydoll retreats from her reality into 2 separate levels of fantasy…

A Disney Sucker Punch

My review for action fantasy movie Sucker Punch will be up on this blog soon, but until then, here's a fantastic Disney Animation-Sucker Punch mashup to keep you amused. I would happily watch this movie. For a fan creation, it's brilliantly done...

For the record, here's the original Sucker Punch trailer that inspired the above mashup (although personally I still prefer the first teaser for its 90 seconds of complete batshit craziness):

An interview with moi

It's another public holiday in South Africa today.

So, to fill the blogging void, here's a link to the interview I did yesterday with one of the nation's top entertainment blogs, Running Wolf's Rant, as part of the regular Interesting Tweople feature. So now I iz celebrity... apparently;) Enjoy!

Trailer Tuesday: Thor

Happy Thor week!

The highly anticipated Marvel comic adaptation releases this Friday (29 April) in both 2D and 3D in South Africa. The film hits North American cinemas next week, on 6 May.

What's the big deal, you ask? Isn't Thor just another superhero film? Well, actually it isn't. There are several good reasons to be excited about Thor, apart from the ones I've already mentioned on this blog.

Thor is the first big superhero movie of the year, and like all of the superhero biggies of 2011 it's out to differentiate itself from the ton of comic adaptations released over the past decade. So while Green Lantern has loads of extra-terrestrial flavour, and Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class have dumped present day settings in favour of the 1940s and 60s respectively, Thor elevates superheroes to the level of gods. Norse gods.

In fact, Thor is a nifty little inversion of the usual superhero origin tale. Unlike most cape-and-spandex stories where a norm…

Happy Easter!

Wishing all my Christian readers a very happy Easter Sunday. May your day be full of peace, love and chocolatey goodness...

Just, uh, check where your eggs came from before digging in.

Movies releasing for the Easter long weekend: a little something for every geek and freak

It's a 4-day weekend in South Africa for Easter and as a result, this week's new movie releases are out today.

Theatre lovers and opera freaks will no doubt want to check out the London Royal Opera House's filmed production of Carmen in 3D. For everyone else there's:

Sucker Punch: After a superb, mindblowingly cool first trailer, and the fact that the movie comes from Watchmen and 300 director Zack Snyder, action fantasy Sucker Punch rocketed to the top of my "must-watch in 2011" list. Emily Browning stars as a traumatised young woman who is institutionalised by her step-father, and, while waiting to be lobotomised, retreats into a fantasy world that promises escape if she completes several tasks. So there are chain-gun wielding giant samurai, steampunk WWI soldiers, dragons, robots guards etc etc.

Now I suppose my enthusiasm for Sucker Punch should be severely reined in, given the tepid response from overseas audiences and even weaker reviews - Sucker Punch is …

What's up with Wonder Woman?

As far as making the leap from the printed page to moving images, it's been a rough time for DC Comics' Amazonian princess. Wonder Woman may be part of DC's Big Three (along with Superman and Batman) but evidently nobody knows how to handle the character - to translate the world's first superheroine for the non-comic-readers today. I mean I know how I would make a Wonder Woman movie, but apart from a very well done animated film, Hollywood has never managed (or been committed enough) to haul a live-action WW project out of development hell.

Then, in October last year, some genius decided that Wonder Woman belonged on TV. Of course that's where the world's greatest female superhero first snagged the public's attention - thanks to a hit 70s TV series starring Lynda Carter. However, traditionally the small screen and spandex wearers have never really gelled. Sticking with DC comic adaptations, Smallville and the very short-lived Birds of Prey A) mangled the com…

Movies releasing today: drugged up writers and love struck circus vets

There are 4 notable new releases hitting South African cinemas today, but I'm only going to focus on my top 2 picks of the weekend.

Out of interest though, in addition to my picks there's also Single White Female-esque thriller The Roommate (a pitiful 4% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes)and Aussie adventure novel adaptationTomorrow When the War Began, which sounds eerily similar to Red Dawn, and is 61% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

But moving on to my choices:

1) Limitless: "How many of us ever know what it is to become the perfect version of ourselves?" Based on 2001 novel The Dark Fields, this techno-thriller centres on a scruffy, unmotivated writer (Bradley Cooper) gifted with a experimental drug that unlocks his full mental potential. Money, sex, power and massive success are suddenly his, but the ability comes with some rather nasty side effects - from blackouts to Robert De Niro's unwanted attention. And then there's the big question: what happe…

Rango reviewed

CGI-animated Rango is definitely one of the oddest films you’ll watch this year. It’s also one of the most charming and imaginative... largely because of its idiosyncrasies. Director Gore Verbinski’s first foray into animation is a lot of fun, and although the film is yet another example of Johnny Depp in maximum eccentric mode, it’s the most likeable he’s been in ages.

Essentially a quirky comedy Western (with MANY winking references to its star’s filmography), Rango centres on a good natured, but lonely, pet chameleon (voiced by Depp) who is stranded in the Mojave Desert. He stumbles into the decrepit town of Dirt, an enclave for desert creatures slowly dying because of a mysterious water shortage. Depp’s chameleon is a shape shifter in personality as well as species, and with the bravura of a born performer he adopts the identity of tough loner Rango – who is immediately proclaimed sheriff by the gullible, brain-addled inhabitants of Dirt.

Much of the humour in Rango in fact stems fr…

Movie Review Monday: No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached is the first of a new handful of romantic comedies to focus on the topic of “friends with benefits” AKA “fuck buddies”. Hollywood’s obsession of the moment seems to be the notion that today’s twentysomethings have managed to completely split sex and love. These busy young professionals are far more adept at sexual hook ups than romantic relationships, and in fact prefer casual sex with a skilled partner to time-consuming and emotionally demanding commitments.

Of course, such subject matter makes for a romcom that is automatically more spiky and sexual than fluffy and sanitised. No Strings Attached may be off-putting for viewers who find promiscuous behaviour distasteful but for everyone else it makes for a solid relationship-centred film that, at least in parts, feels more credible than most. At the same time it seems appropriate to call No Strings Attached simply a relationship movie than a romantic comedy – it’s more a drama with some amusing moments than constant…

Movies releasing today, SA: Birdies and Liam Neeson

It's a good week at South African cinemas with three notable new movies opening today. And frankly I'd be happy to watch any of them, as each offers a different 'flavour' to satisfy my different movie tastes.

The Eagle: If you found Centurion too big, dumb and cartoony, then you may prefer this much more earnest take on the real life disappearance of Rome's Ninth Legion in Northern Britain circa 120ADE. Based on Rosemary Sutcliff's 1954 youth novel, The Eagle focuses on a Roman officer Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) who sets out beyond Hadrian's Wall to find out what happened to his father' legion, and recover its symbolic Eagle standard. Perhaps not too brightly, Aquila takes his resentful Celtic slave (Jamie Bell) with him.

The Eagle is 41% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Although far from perfect this historical action adventure is apparently a solid, gritty throwback to older sword-and-sandal movies. Even if Tatum is an uninsp…

Tangled (3D) film review

CGI-animated Tangled is the 50th movie to come from Disney’s Animation Studios. It’s also a marvellous return to vintage fairytale form for the studio, easily topping 2009’s The Princess and the Frog in terms of overall enjoyability and immersion. Hell, it even got a couple of tears out of me.

Tangled (loosely) tells the story of Rapunzel, but with a surprising amount of psychological complexity. This isn’t the dumb blonde blabbermouth of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Rapunzel here – voiced by Mandy Moore – is a likeable young woman who lusts after the world outside her tower, but has also been raised to fear its dangers, resulting in some major emotional see-sawing and anxiety. Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) is the woman who keeps Rapunzel imprisoned for her own selfish gains, but cunningly does so through veiled manipulation (“Mother knows best”) instead of blatant cruelty. Gothel is definitely one of the most interesting ‘old school’ Disney villains to emerge in recent years. And as …

Trailer Tuesday: Green Lantern

The trailer for highly anticipated DC Comics adaptationGreen Lantern has been online since November last year. I didn't really comment on it at the time because, well, I found it so-so - making the film look like a functional, generic superhero film as opposed to groundbreaking must-see!

However, vastly more exciting footage was screened this weekend at San Francisco's WonderCon, and it's gone a long well to boost my excitement about the project. This is because the below 4 minutes of footage place emphasis on Green Lantern's chief differentiating feature as a superhero property: its heavy extraterrestrial influence! In other words, the action is not merely confined to Earth.

Just to recap for those who don't know, in Green Lantern cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) becomes the first human selected to join the Green Lantern Corps - an intergalactic police force that assigns members to protect different sectors of the universe (Earth is in Sector 2814). To c…

Intermittent transmission

Jut a quick note to say that blogging and cartooning around here may be a little unpredictable for the next few weeks. I'm currently anchorless, living between 3 houses with intermittent Internet access. Plus, I've finally got my hands on Batman: Arkham Asylum and that masterpiece of an action-stealth game is gobbling up huge chunks of my weekend - as I creep around in the shadows, string up thugs, solve mysteries, glide across the skyline and just generally kick ass. For fans of the comics, it's a delicious dream come true. "I am the Goddamn Batman!"

Regular scheduled updates should be back on track soon, once I've found my own batcave base.

Movies out today: bunnies and best friends with benefits

Five new releases hit South African cinemas today, including Bollywood crime drama Game.

For lovers of character-driven, powerfully acted cinema, be sure to check out stage adaptationRabbit Hole (87% on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes). Nicole Kidman received an Oscar nomination for her work here as a mother trying to cope with the death of her young son. It's apparently much less of a downer than it sounds. Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest co-star.

Just in time for Easter is family comedy Hop, about EB, the slacker, candy-crapping son (voiced by Russell Brand) of the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie), who would rather become a drummer in Hollywood than take over his father's duties. And when James Marsden hits EB with his car, EB's trouble-making crosses over to our world. Combining CGI-animation and live-action, this one looks like another Alvin & The Chipmunks, God help us! Actually, it's from the director of Alvin and Garfield 2). 19% Fresh on Rotten Toma…