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Showing posts from October, 2011

October wrap-up: All the posts that mattered

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Happy Halloween to all of you out there! May your evening (if you didn't already celebrate over the weekend) be full of fun and free from ghostly encounters.

Curiously, November and not October is the month for horror movie releases - well, in South Africa at least. Shark Night 3D, Apollo 18, Paranormal Activity 3 and Dream House are all opening over the next 30 days.

Then there's the true horror: the release, on 16 November, of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I (Trailer Tuesday profile here). *shudders* ;)

At least there's still hyper-stylised Greek mythology tale Immortals (Trailer Tuesday profile) to look forward to, which opens in 2D and 3D on 11 November.


Anyway, here's a rundown of everything of importance that was posted on this blog during October...

Feature articles & opinion pieces:
Lazygamer column: The bane of badassery
2012: The Year of Fairy Tale Reimaginings

Movie reviews:
Contagion
Warrior

Trailer Tuesday profiles:
War Horse
The Avengers
Drive
The Thing

Co…

Movies releasing today

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Seven new movies open in South Africa today. Before I get to my picks of the weekend, here's a quick rundown of the rest.

Ra.One: Releasing to coincide with Diwali, is Bollywood's most expensive movie, a 3D blockbuster that sounds like Tron: Legacy - and has Shahrukh Khan caught up in sci-fi superhero action. Track the film's aggregated Rotten Tomatoes review score here.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil: Hoodwinked, that wacky CGI-animated mix of Red Riding Hood and The Usual Suspects, receives a sequel with more genre-splicing shenanigans. Screening in 2D and 3D. A dire 11% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Reunion: Get your Z-grade action kicks with this WWE Studios-made tale of 3 feuding brothers (John Cena, Ethan Embry, Boyd Holbrook) drawn together for a cross-border bounty hunting adventure. Beware! The Reunion is just 9% Fresh.

Skeem: A South African black comedy crime caper about wannabe gangsters who have to defend their million rand score against greedy holiday makers at th…

Lazygamer column: The bane of badassery

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Around 12:30 today my latest opinion column for South African gaming website Lazygamer will go live. I'll update this post with the link as soon as the article becomes available.

And here's the Lazygamer link.
However, seeing as the post has to do with World of WarCraft: Mists of Pandaria, the just announced 4th expansion to Blizzard's super-ultra-successful MMORPG, World of WarCraft, here's the trailer.


For the record, even if you aren't a WOW player, my opinion piece should still have interest to you. Particularly if you, like me, are a tad tired of film and game makers' insistence that all fantasy entertainment has to be dark, grim and gritty to have audience appeal. Then again, these days the masses do seem to endlessly bray for badassery, and as a result ridicule anything gentle and light-hearted.

This reaction is to the point that Blizzard is currently on some kind of press offensive, loudly defending their decision to introduce the Pandaren - a race of marti…

Midweek Movie Review: Contagion

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When it comes to mainstream Hollywood releases, very often it seems like movies for thinking adults are only released during 3 months of the year, typically around the December to February Awards Season. The rest of the year it’s just superheroes, explosive action flicks, safe family fare and gross-out sex comedies. Well, Contagion, certainly satisfies the entertainment needs of mature, cerebral cinemagoers, reining in all excess to present a (mostly) realistic take on a disease-themed disaster movie.


Contagion is directed by Steven Soderbergh, the multi-award winning filmmaker who has already demonstrated his ability to deftly manage giant all-star casts, and continent-spanning tales, in both Traffic and the Ocean’s 11 trilogy. Soderbergh puts that experience to good use here, in a medical drama-thriller that chronicles the emergence and rapid global spread of a SARS-like virus that is not only highly, highly contagious but also boasts a fatality rate of 25-30% – given there is no exi…

Trailer Tuesday: War Horse

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What would the festive season be without a glossy, tear-jerking epic? Well, Christmas 2011 sees the release of the latest from Steven Spielberg, whose last stint in the director's chair was back in 2008, for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

War Horse, however, is a very different kind of movie from the supernatural action escapism of the Indy series. Rather, the new family-friendly adventure seems to sit more comfortably alongside the likes of war-centric Saving Private Ryan and well, I suppose E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to a tiny degree, given its similar focus on the emotional bond between a young man and creature. War Horse is based on the 1982 youth novel of the same name, and in turn its multi-award winning stage adaptation, which is notable for its use of life-size horse puppets.


Set before and during World War I, the plot of War Horse sees British farm boy Albert (Jeremy Irvine) separated from his beloved horse Joey, when the animal is shipped off to France…

Five for Friday: New releases hitting South African cinemas today

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Five very different movies open in South Africa today. Before getting to my personal Top 2 Picks, here's a brief rundown of the other 3:

Ceremony: Uma Thurman stars in this indie comedy-drama - apparently a wannabe Wes Anderson movie - about a young man (Michael Angarano) who secretly falls for the fiance (Thurman) of a famous filmmaker (Lee Pace). 40% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Killer Elite: Action movie lovers are likely to get their kicks from this novel adaptation and supposed true story. Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje all pop up as elite operatives in a deadly globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse. A surprisingly low 25% Fresh.

Black Butterflies: An English language production from the Netherlands about acclaimed Apartheid Era South African poet Ingrid Jonker. Soon to be MelisandreCarice van Houten plays the tragic Jonker in what certainly won't be a lighthearted biopic. 100% Fresh.

That then leav…

Midweek Movie Review: Warrior

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The underdog fighter movie has a long and surprisingly successful history. Movies like Rocky, The Karate Kid (both versions), Million Dollar Baby and, most recently, The Fighter have impressed audiences and critics alike. They may not be the most original movies plot-wise – hell, they largely follow the same formula – but they consistently deliver the heart-stirring goods. And I’m pleased to report that latest genre entry Warrior is another goodie.


Mixing grim family drama with brutal Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) action, Warrior focuses on a family torn apart, years previously, by a father’s abusive alcoholism. Older brother Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) has become a high school physics teacher, a loving husband and devoted father. He’s cut off ties to his deeply regretful, former drunk of a father, Paddy (Nick Nolte). The same can be said for younger brother Tommy (Tom Hardy), a former school wrestling champion and marine, who returns home a lone wolf – brooding and driven. All three men…

Trailer Tuesday: The Avengers

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The big trailer news of last week was the debut of the first trailer for The Avengers - which is hands down the most ambitious superhero film of 2012 (I'd say of all time but well, I think that honour belongs to Watchmen).

Anyway, for those of you who don't know, or haven't been clued up by the post-credits sequences of the past 5 Marvel comic adaptations (see Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger) all those very different costumed heroes are coming together in one movie to save the world... just as they did in the comics. You can think of The Avengers as Marvel's all-star equivalent of DC Comics's Justice League.


What's most impressive about The Avengers movie is that the filmmakers have assembled all the stars from the single hero movies set in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe - with the exception of Edward Norton who was dumped by Marvel after playing Bruce Banner / The Hulk in that character's last cine…

Monday Man Candy: The Man of Steel

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Relax, guys. This isn't going to become a regular week-starting feature on this blog. However, these fans snapped pics from the set of new Superman movie, The Man of Steel, were too delicious not to share. So I dub this "Manly Man Week" on Pfangirl Through the Looking Glass!


The full original set of images originally appeared over at CraveOnline, and depict Henry Cavill (AKA Stephenie Meyer's first choiceEdward Cullen) as the world's most iconic superhero... at his most unusually hirsute. Especially when you consider the super-sleek looks, and baby bum smooth cheeks, of other cinematic Supermen Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh.

Anyway, by the looks of things, in The Man of Steel, Superman AKA Kryptonian Kal-El, is attacked while keeping a low profile as Kansas farm boy Clark Kent. These behind-the-scenes snaps also satisfy the theory that we'll get to see an ultra-buff, bare chested Superman in the movie. But then I wouldn't expect less from 300 director…

Movies releasing today: incompetent spies and competent swordsmen

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Just 2 noteworthy new releases hit South African cinemas today, but both make up for the lack of silly escapism the past few weeks have offered moviegoers.

The Three Musketeers
Apparently the world needs yet another film adaptation of the classic 17th Century swashbuckling adventure from Alexandre Dumas. Then again, I suppose it has been almost 20 years since the Disney movie starring Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O'Donnell, and 13 years since we got to revisit the characters in The Man in the Iron Mask. Oh, yeah, and there was this thing in 2001. Anyway, the big draw card this time is that A) the film has been shot in 3D (i.e. it's not a limp post-production conversion) and the story has been given a steampunk slant. Uh-oh.

The Three Musketeers 2011 comes from Paul W. S. Anderson, the director of Resident Evil and assorted other brain dead video game movies. With his latest release it looks like the filmmaker has accepted the challenge of applying his trademark dumb…

Girlz 'N' Games Comic #93: Coming To The Party... Early?

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There isn't much to say about this new Girlz 'N' Games comic. Basically it's a gentle dig at all those rabid Game of Thrones fans out there... and man, there are some seriously hardcore GoT fans on the Interwebs.

I mean the way some people go on and on about the TV adaptation of novelist George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, you'd think that nobody before had ever made an expensive-looking, period-set show combining graphic sex, violence and political intrigue. Granted fantasy epic Game of Thrones has dire wolves, dragons and the undead to spice up the mix but many of the same elements are there - from the stylish titles sequence with a catchy theme tune, to the large cast of predominantly British thespians, to the simple fact that recreating a centuries-old setting is damn expensive, and typically leaves no budget to depict epic battles. As a result, we just get to hear about them instead.

Anyway, you can buy the shirts Todd and Dorian are wearing, and sim…

Trailer Tuesday: Drive

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We had Hanna (my review) earlier this year and now another high profile movie release does the unexpected and straddles the line between action blockbuster and art house fare. Drive - based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis - was originally intended as a vehicle for Hugh Jackman, before evolving into something much more under the direction of Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn, who has already made several gritty crime dramas.

In Drive, Ryan Gosling stars as the Driver, a largely mute antihero who works as a Hollywood stunt driver by day, and a highly skilled getaway driver by night. Things become complicated though when he finds himself falling for his neighbour (Carey Mulligan), a mother with a young son, and he agrees to help her ex-con husband (Oscar Isaac) on a job that promises to finally cancel the family's mob debts. Surprise, surprise, things go horribly wrong, and the Driver is caught up in various double-crosses and revenge killings, from which he has to ext…

Movies releasing today: maids, man trouble and MMA

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It's all about variety at South African cinemas this weekend. The top 3 new releases today are all very different, catering for some very different audience segments.

The Help
This comedy-drama certainly hasn't been without controversy. Based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett, the film examines the relationship between black maids and their upper-class white employees in early 1960s Mississippi, as the Civil Rights Movement was heating up. Emma Stone plays a recent college graduate and wannabe writer who sets out to tell the stories of Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and other black women silently serving her community.

The Help was one of the biggest hits at the American box office this Summer, holding the #1 spot for 25 days straight - second only to The Sixth Sense in 1999. It will be interesting to see how well the film does in South Africa given that it's had little marketing push, but is still a story and situation local audiences are intimate with. Segregation…

2012: The Year of Fairy Tale Reimaginings

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If extra-terrestrial encounters were all the rage this year at cinemas, then 2012 is shaping up as the Year of the Fairy Tale at the box office. Currently, there are close on 10 movies coming out next year based on fairy tales, fables and folk stories. Some adaptations are more straightforward while others go the “dark, gritty reimagining” route. Blah blah blah, I’m sure you know the drill by now when it comes to the Hollywood hive mind.

Anyway, all things fairy or fairy tale have been steadily creeping back into pop culture – no doubt to snare the attention of audiences increasingly sick of vampires, werewolves and zombies. Fairy tales seem like the natural successor to these monster stories as fantasy entertainment for the masses. After all, the centuries’ old tales blend the dark, dangerous and supernatural with romance – a recipe that has carried the likes of Twilight to massive success. And let’s not forget that fairy and folk stories will be naturally appealing to studio executiv…