Looking back, looking forward: Movies, music, gaming and more in September and October

Here we are a few days into October, and as we skid towards the close of 2011, here's a little reminder of everything of significance that happened on this blog in September, as well as a peek at everything of importance that rabid pop culture consumers have to look forward to this month.

September recap:

Feature articles:
The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra
A better look at Superman's costume (follow-up post to Status update for Superman 2013: The Man of Steel)

Film reviews:
Friends with Benefits
Conan the Barbarian 2011 (3D)
Cowboys & Aliens
The Eagle
The Warrior's Way

Profiled trailers:
The Grey
John Carter
Puss in Boots
In Time

Girlz 'N' Games #91: Love-Hate
Girlz 'N' Games #92: The Name Game

October enticements:

September was a bit of a crappy month in terms of movie releases... well, in South Africa at any case. October, however, offers a much better selection. These are the 2 films I'm most excited to catch this month.

Warrior: Debuting in South African cinemas this Friday, 7 October, is this combo sports and family drama. Tom (Inception) Hardy and Joel Edgerton play 2 very different brothers, who find themselves facing off in a massive Mixed Martial Arts tournament. Granted Warrior doesn't sound like anything we haven't seen a hundred times before, but I loves me a good professional boxing/fighting movie (The Fighter was probably my favourite of this year's Oscar nominees). And besides, Warrior is apparently a goodie, having impressed critics overseas - and garnering an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 84% Fresh.

Contagion: It's taken over a month but Steven Soderbergh's all-star disease thriller, Contagion, finally releases in South Africa on 21 October. This globe-trotting tale of a deadly SARS-esque pandemic, and the panic it provokes, has been on my Most Highly Anticipated Movies of 2011 list for a while now (Trailer Tuesday profile here). The film stars Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow as the doctors, conspiracy theorists and ordinary folk caught up in the chaos. A hit with North American audiences and critics alike, Contagion is 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

DVD releases:
I don't often cover DVD releases on this blog, but I will make an exception for the debut of any DC Universe Animated Movie, given that these cartoon films have done a far better job adapting DC superheroes for the screen than most of Warner Bros' recent live-action efforts.

Batman: Year One releases on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Copy in North America on 18 October. The film is likely to become available in South Africa around the same time.

Anyway, based on Frank Miller's 1987 origin tale of the same name, Batman: Year One is arguably the most influential Batman story of all time. Set in a sordid, crime-ridden Gotham City, Batman: Year One examines the first year of Batman's (voiced by Benjamin McKenzie) career as a masked vigilante, and how his initial unrefined attempts at crime fighting impact on (mostly) upstanding cop James Gordon (Bryan Cranston) and cynical prostitute Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku). As you may have guessed, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both borrowed heavily from the same comic source material.

Early word is that Batman: Year One is a very faithful adaptation that should please rabid Batman fans.

Staying on the subject of Batman, releasing on the same day as the DVD (in North America anyway) is highly anticipated video game sequel Batman: Arkham City. Following on from the magnificent stealth-actioner Batman: Arkham Asylum - hands down the greatest Batman game ever made - Arkham City is everything players loved about the original, and much more.

Set a year after the events in Arkham Asylum - and written as before by respected Bat Universe scribe Paul Dini - Gotham's notorious metal hospital and Blackgate Prison are still out of action. As a result, arrogant asylum warden-turned-mayor Quincy Sharp has walled off Gotham City's slums, and unleashed criminals and the criminally insane inside to war it out. Of course, sinister plans are afoot and Batman must put a stop to it, while battling the vicious gang factions that have sprung up around signature villains like the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Two-Face and Hugo Strange.

Batman: Arkham City promises a much larger world to explore, more story lines, more gadgets, more combat moves, more villains, more puzzles... Oh, and you get to play portions of the game as Catwoman - who has been revealed in trailers to have her own unique, acrobatic combat style. Instant Sell!

Batman: Arkham City releases across platforms - PS3, Xbox and PC - on 18 October in North America. It becomes available on 21 October in Europe and South Africa. I've just placed my pre-order for the nifty Collector's Edition, which includes a limited edition Batman statue, art booklet, official soundtrack and more. Screw Gears of War 3. This is my most highly anticipated game of 2011... along with Alice: Madness Returns of course.

Update: The PC version of Batman: Arkham City has been delayed until November to allow further time for graphical optimisation for that specific format.

I don't do a lot of music coverage on this blog either but October marks the release of the long-awaited third studio album from one of my favourite bands: Evanescence. It's been 5 years since the nu-metal group, alternative rockers, gummy goths, or whatever you want to call them, gave us The Open Door, and 8 years since the band blasted onto the music scene with the single Bring Me to Life, off their multi-Platinum Fallen album.

Now, after various personal, production and label issues, the self-titled new CD, Evanescence, is out on 11 October. Featuring 12 tracks, including the debut single What You Want, the new album has been described as more of a collaborative creation, involving the entire band, as opposed to relying chiefly on the efforts of lead singer and songwriter Amy Lee as a starting point.

October - What a great month of entertainment to look forward to!


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