Showing posts from November, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Mirror Mirror

Given that last week I profiled upcoming fairy tale-to-film adaptation Snow White and the Huntsman, it makes sense (and is only fair) to give the same exposure to its cinematic rival, Mirror Mirror.

Mirror Mirror, which is subtitled The Untold Adventures of Snow White, is in fact the first of the 2012 Snow White reimaginings to release, opening in North America on 16 March, while Snow White and the Huntsman is only out in June. Also, out of interest for those concerned about Snow White movie overkill, the trailers for the 2 films make it clear how very different they are. While Huntsman appears to be a somber action-packed fantasy epic infused with the dark supernatural creepiness of the original Brothers Grimm tale, Mirror Mirror comes across like a goofy theatrical pantomime - a live-action Shrek meets Enchanted.

In Mirror Mirror, Julia Roberts stars as the Evil (or should that be Sassy Bitch?) Queen, who bosses around her castle servants, including bumbling Nathan Lane. Terribly ins…

Last Dictator Standing: The Meal for 6 Festive Promotion

Just a little flame-grilled chicken fun for Monday morning...

Last week Thursday, a number of South African bloggers and Twitter users across the nation, myself included, were visited by a voucher-bearing "special guest" - Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Alright, it was a lookalike - minus the little strip moustache and about a foot of height - but it was all part of a nifty little social media / promotional stunt for Nando's new festive season combo meal... as well as the darkly humorous, dictator-filled commercial used to punt it. (And you know I have no problem with pitch black, politically incorrect humour).

Anyway, you can watch the TV ad here. On the same site South African Twitter users can also learn more about a competition that is running until this Friday, 2 December. There are daily meal voucher giveaways and 3 people can win a festive meal for 6, prepared fresh in your home by a chef. The competition is exclusive to SA residents, and entry is only possible …

Movies releasing today: Dancing penguins and haunted houses

Around 8 new movies open in South African today. These include this laughably bad local comedy (seriously, watch the trailer!) and - on the opposite end of the quality spectrum - highly acclaimed Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball (95% on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes).

My 2 high profile picks of the week though are as follows:

Happy Feet Two: Screening in 2D and 3D is this unexpected sequel to the CGI-musical adventure that won the Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2007. This time the action centres on the offspring of Elijah Wood's Mumble, the penguin who found expression through dance in the original movie. Mumble's son Erik lacks his father's smooth moves and, embarrassed, sets out across the Antarctic to find his true calling. Meanwhile, the penguin community faces its greatest ever threat. As with its predecessor, Happy Feet Two features an all-star voice cast, including Robin Williams, P!nk, Hank Azaria, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Sofía Vergara and Hugo Weaving.

I …

Attack the Block film review

Low budget English sci-fi-horror flick Attack the Block makes a fine across-the-Atlantic companion to Super 8 (my review here). Both 2011 releases feature a cast of teens having to contend with extraterrestrial beasties. But while Super 8 is a Spielberg-esque tale of nice, ordinary kids encountering the fantastic and coming of age in the 1970s, Attack the Block is a much more cynical, contemporary tale – centred on young gang members.

Attack the Block keeps its plot simple and localised. On Guy Fawkes in a low income region of Southern London, a gang of chavs, fresh from a mugging, witness a UFO crash. Naturally, these upstanding young citizens chase and stab the extraterrestrial to death, but their actions have consequences. There are other, more fearsome, aliens about and the boys take it upon themselves to defend their home – a towering block of council flats.

Attack the Block feels strongly old school. It has a distinct 80s vibe about it, and in more departments than just its specia…

Trailer Tuesday: Snow White and the Huntsman

A month ago who would have thought that fairy tale adaptation Snow White and the Huntsman would receive one of this year's best public responses to a trailer? On Twitter many people in my stream - the same people who don't normally talk movies - were going gaga over this visually striking, gritty reimagining of the Snow White story.

I certainly wasn't expecting to be as wowed as I was by the trailer. Especially since I had already rolled my eyes at the teaser poster depicting Kristen Stewart's title character as an armoured warrior - not dissimilar to Alice's "feminist reinterpretation" in Tim Burton's 2010 Wonderland film. So my comments about Snow White and the Huntsman came with a hefty dollop of cynicism in last month's extensive post about the upcoming flood of fairy tale films.

Of course, I wouldn't say my cynicism has entirely evaporated. The coolness factor of a trailer is often inversely proportionate to the quality of the finished film…

Girlz 'N' Games Comic #94: Three Easy Steps

This new Girlz 'N' Games comic is based on a true - or soon to be true - story. You see there are certainly advantages to remaining a multi-format gaming household when there's only one TV and one Xbox to share. And at times this need to share may even trigger some serious *ahem* generosity.

Anyway, I'll definitely have to write up a full Batman: Arkham City review soon, because I've been having such a blast with the game. I know many of the guys and gals in my gaming circles have raced through the game, since moving on to Uncharted 3, Skyrim and the like, but I've really been savouring the Arkham experience. Sure the game is a little overwhelming at first, dropping you into the cordoned off "prison city" with pretty much every gadget and upgrade you had by the end of the game's predecessor... and barely a tutorial in sight as you free roam around the entire area. However, you soon get used to things, and my God the combat is even more fulfilling t…

Movies releasing today: vampires and vigilante vengeance

This weekend in South Africa only one new movie has had the balls to open against the box office behemoth that is The Twilight Saga. Actually, the franchise's 4th entry The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 has been out since Wednesday locally, but this is still the film's first weekend of release... and I'm sure many keen cinemagoers will only get around to watching it once their work week schedules clear.

For those of you who don't know (or care), just like the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film adaptation/s, this cinematic take on the final chapter in Stephenie Meyer's supernatural romance series has been split into 2 parts. Part 2 releases this time next year, but Part 1, now out, tackles the first half of Meyer's ponderous, frequently insane 800-page text.

In a nutshell, Breaking Dawn - Part 1 sees human teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marry her vampire beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and finally consummate their forbidden love. Freakishly…

Midweek movie review: Immortals (3D)

Mythological action-adventure Immortals is a surprisingly solid piece of fantasy entertainment. It’s not particularly memorable, and the plot is nothing to write home about, but on the scale of Clash of the Titans (2010) (my review) to 300 (my review), Immortals sits closer to the latter, and, often enough, is far more beautiful to look at than its hyper-stylised genre predecessor.

In a storyline that is Clash of the Titans meets Conan the Barbarian (2010), grieving, vengeful King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) decides to destroy the Olympian gods. Only deities can kill other deities, however, so to succeed he must locate the legendary Epirus Bow and use it to free the imprisoned Titans, the generation of gods before the Olympians.

Meanwhile, principled peasant, and shunned bastard, Theseus (Henry Cavill) is concerned only with defending the weak outcasts of his village. However, when Hyperion’s brutal masked forces rampage through his home, and Hyperion himself kills Theseus’s mother, the yo…

Trailer Tuesday: Safe House

Action thriller Safe House is only really receiving a profile today because of its unusual, "exotic" setting for a Hollywood blockbuster: Cape Town, South Africa.

What's especially amusing is that Ryan Reynolds's rookie CIA operative seems to be so bummed about being stationed in such a "backwater" spot, which is what the official plot synopsis labels SA's Mother City. I've yet to hear anyone else complain about having to relocate to Cape Town. Tut tut, such an ugly, out of control Third World hellhole...

Anyway Reynolds's character, Matt Weston, is the frustrated caretaker of a rarely used CIA safe house. Weston's world is turned upside down however when deadly CIA renegade and traitor Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is brought in for questioning... after inexplicably turning himself in after a decade on the run.

Before Frost can be treated to a waterboarding welcome, though, mercenaries attack and Weston is forced on the run with Frost. An un…

Movies out today: Gods and monsters... and ghosts

Six new notable movie hit South African cinemas today. Here's all you need to know about them. Happy viewing!

Beginners: This romantic comedy drama (based on a true story) sees Ewan McGregor begin a new relationship while reminiscing about his recently deceased father (Christopher Plummer), who had the courage to come out and change his life at 75. 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Screening at select Cinema Nouveaus only.

Shanghai:John Cusack stars in this WWII era mystery about a US Naval Intelligence Officer who goes undercover in Shanghai in 1941 to discover who murdered his friend and fellow agent, and why. Gong Li, Chow Yun-fat, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Ken Watanabe co-star. Despite its high profile cast, 2010 release Shanghai has yet to open in many regions outside Asia. Weird.

The Devil’s Double: I have to admit I'm pretty intrigued by this real-life drama that sees Dominic Cooper's Iraqi soldier forced to become a double for Saddam Hussein's eldest son, a sadistic pla…

Batman: Year One DVD Review

Based on one of the most important and influential Batman storyline of all time, Batman: Year One is by far the most adult-orientated of Warner BrosDC Universe Animated Movies. It also is surprisingly one of the most emotionally aloof and dour. This is possibly because the film sticks too religiously to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s 1987 comic arc – to the point that events feel by turns diluted, rushed and inconsequential.

This said, the major problem of Batman: Year One is a structural one because the animated film does get so much right.

Batman: Year One basically tracks a simultaneous year in the lives of driven billionaire Bruce Wayne (voiced by Benjamin McKenzie) and police officer James Gordon (Bryan Cranston). Both men arrive in Gotham City on the same day with the same goal of fighting crime and rampant corruption in the VERY sordid city. The two men follow vastly different paths to the same goal, although naturally these paths intersect with dramatic consequences. W…

Midweek Movie Review: In Time

On paper In Time looks fantastic: A sci-fi thriller set in a future where genetic engineering has liberated Mankind from disease and the ageing process. Accidents and violence are the sole cause of death, and you can in theory live forever in a slim, model-gorgeous body that will never age beyond 25.

Of course “in theory” falls away whenever there is a commodity at stake, and in this future, in a bid to control overpopulation, time has replaced money as a currency. When the digital clock on your left forearm counts down to zero, you drop dead. And while the rich hoard years and centuries, the poor live literally day to day, desperately trying to meet their factory quotas, rarely reaching their fiftieth birthday and never daring to dream that they will one day have enough spare time to pay the toll that separates their ghetto from the other, increasingly expensive, “time zones.”

Truly, In Time’s universe is fascinating. I would happily play a GTA-esque action game with this setting (vide…

Trailer Tuesday: Apollo 18

Well, last week as part of Trailer Tuesday I profiled Chronicle, an early 2012 release in the "found footage" cinematic style that has become all the rage in the horror genre. Apollo 18 is a 2011 movie that utilises the same approach, although instead of mixing the superhero and horror genres as Chronicle appears to do, this one goes for a more standard sci-fi and horror combo.

One to no doubt tickle the fancy of conspiracy lovers, Apollo 18 promises to expose the truth as to why Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the Moon. And that's because the moon isn't as lifeless as we've been told. Produced by Timur (Wanted, Night Watch) Bekmambetov, Apollo 18 is marketed as a "documentary" that exposes the "shocking truth" - that, in reality, although publicly cancelled, the Apollo 18 moon landing still secretly went ahead in 1973. It was however more deeply buried in top secret government records as a result of nightmarish events experienced, an…

Movies hitting SA cinemas today

Five new movies open in South Africa today. I can't say that there are any I absolutely must rush to see this weekend, so I'll give you a brief rundown of all the new releases.

50/50: Yay, a Cancer comedy-drama! So yeah, given its subject matter - based on a true story in fact - 50/50 is sure to have limited audience appeal. That said, the film does feature an impressive cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a young man struggling with his cancer diagnosis and Seth Rogen is his concerned best friend. Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston also appear.

50/50 has a stellar 93% Fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the film deftly, and convincingly, handles its shifts between the hilarious and heart-warming.

Anonymous: From director Roland (2012, Independence Day) Emmerich of all people, comes this costume drama centred on the William Shakespeare authorship conspiracy. Basically the film proposes that political intrigue forced Rhys Ifans…

My Wonder Woman cosplay for Halloween

Some of you may know that I rock the Diana Prince look 95% of the time. Well, minus the jumpsuit and straight-laced office duds. However, this year, in my superhero reading, I've been trying to get more into Diana's alter ego, Wonder Woman - seeking out the seminal trade paperbacks and graphic novels centred on the first, greatest and most iconic of female superheroes.

What I've found, I've enjoyed thoroughly. Granted her storylines are hit and miss, but as a character Wonder Woman is great - a woman of decisive action (with a sometimes weakness for cake), who strikes the balance between warrior and diplomat with far greater ease than the other members of DC Comics' "Big Three", Superman and Batman.

Anyway, as I got increasingly into the character, I decided a few months ago that I wanted to dress up as Wonder Woman for Halloween, or my next themed birthday party. And seeing as I'm someone who believes in cosplay only if you can carry off the charact…