Showing posts from March, 2012

Movies releasing today: triple the seriousness

Three new movies open in South African cinemas today, and they're all of the pretty serious kind.

Wrath of the Titans: Screening in CONVERTED 3D is the sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titansremake - which I had such high hopes for before it was evidently mangled during and after production. Anyway, here we are back in Ancient Greece 10 years after the events of the first film, and once again demi-god Perseus (Sam Worthington) - who is now a single father - is roped into the Civil War between the Olympian gods, as well as their conflict with their predecessors, the monstrous Titans. Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Danny Huston and Bill Nighy play gods, while Rosamund Pike is the warrior woman love interest.

Clearly the world is going to end in December because - having been so disappointed the first time round - I actually have no desire to watch a fantasy action-adventure packed full of mythological beasties and legendary characters.

The Movies gave Wrath of the Titans just 2 and a hal…

Film Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Pensioner-centric The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel probably won’t be a top viewing priority for regular The Movies readers, unless you have a serious appreciation of veteran British acting talent. If you’re considering a movie date with your mom or gran, though, then this mildly saucy, but otherwise inoffensive, comedy drama is a perfect option.

This said, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t really one of those movies that MUST be experienced on the big screen. Apart from its cast, the film does nothing to truly distinguish itself, and, in turn, make a pricey trip to the cinema a necessity.

Loosely based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is at its heart a tale of self-discovery, and second chances late in life. Lured by enticing marketing material, a group of British retirees jet off to India in the hope of escaping loneliness, debt, cramped old age homes and unbearably long waits for medical procedures. Rather unsurprisingly, retiring a…

Midweek Movie Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The best way to describe triple Oscar nominee Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is as an anti-James Bond. Sure it’s an espionage thriller set during the Cold War like the Classic Connery Era of 007 films, but the similarities between the 2 literary adaptations end there.

While Ian Fleming’s British secret agent is a debonair ladies’ man, conducting most of his subterfuge in glittering casinos, 5-star hotels and exotic, sun-saturated locales, John le Carré’s hero, George Smiley – played here by Gary Oldman – looks like any other unimposing, middle-aged government employee. Soft-spoken, cerebral Smiley never leaves the gloomy UK, instead orchestrating his espionage efforts from smoky, budget hotel rooms and soulless Modernist office blocks piled with files and used tea cups. And this is when he’s not brooding over his unfaithful wife or swimming laps in a muddy London river under iron-grey skies.

In short, if you’re looking for the escapist action of a Bond film, stay far away from Tinker Tailor …

Trailer Tuesday: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

I think there's a moment in everybody's life when they have a sudden sobering... When a certain long-held passion ferments overnight, going from mouth-watering to a gag-inducing. What once filled your heart with glee instead triggers repulsion or eye-rolling disdain. And apparently I have had just such a moment while watching the trailer/s for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

You see, in the past I've loved my share of deliberately ridiculous, fantasy-infused actioners. Hell, Priest and The Warrior's Way were my big guilty pleasures of 2011. Now though, I think I've finally reached my fill of CGI-enhanced action scenes saturated with slo-mo and wire-stunts. I'm well and truly over over-the-top, deliberate dumbness, where an entire movie is constructed superficially around a single "silly but fun" concept. In the case of mashup noveladaptation Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (from the same writer of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), that concept sees Ci…

Movies opening today in SA: crowd-pleasers for every audience

Six new films release today, which also marks the start of the Easter school holidays in KZN and the Cape provinces. So, first up for the sprogs and their parents we have...

The Lorax: Screening in 3D and 2D is this animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss's eco-conscious comedy adventure. Zac Efron voices an idealistic tween who lives in a 100% artificial, walled-off city. In an attempt to impress the girl of his dreams - who wants to see a real tree - he seeks out a grumpy orange Nature guardian, the Lorax (Danny DeVito), and learns some sad truths about corporate greed and its impact on the environment. From the creative team behind Despicable Me.

Right now I'm just happy that I won't have to again sit through the trailer for The Lorax (which seems to have screened before every cinema release for the past 3 months!). However, for the record, the film shot to No. 1 at the US box office when it was released a few weeks back, and has an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes review score of 57%…

Board game review: Battlestar Galactica

Trying a little something different on the blog here, with my impressions of certain high profile board games that I’ve had the privilege to play ...

The best board game adaptations of pop culture properties capture the tone and energy of their source material. That’s certainly true for Fantasy Flight’s Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, which has swiftly become my favourite tabletop game of the past 2 years.

Battlestar Galactica may be a tad on the complex side for board gaming "noobs" whose only experience with the pastime is featherlight party games like 30 Seconds and Cranium, as well as simple throw-the-dice-and-move titles like Monopoly. However, Battlestar is one of those comfortable “learn as you play” games, and if at least one member of your gaming group is an experienced board gamer with a grasp of strategy – or, better yet, has played Battlestar before – play should proceed pretty smoothly.

Battlestar Galactica is a chiefly co-operative game for 3 to 6 players (a…

Trailer Tuesday: Dark Shadows

With an American AND South African release date of 11 May, for a long time it seemed like Warner Bros. was cutting things unusually fine in terms of unveiling the trailer for the latest Tim Burton-Johnny Depp team-up, Dark Shadows. Finally, last Thursday, less than 2 months to release, the trailer was unveiled... to a divisive response.

Dark Shadows is based on a cult classic TV soap opera that ran from 1966 -1971. What set this soapie apart from its sigh-filled, convoluted brethren was its addition of supernatural elements to the melodramatic mix. With Dark Shadows, witches, ghosts, werewolves, seances and the occult popped up in soap operas for the first time... along with one of the first ever "good," redemption-seeking vampires of pop culture, Barnabas Collins.

In the 2012 movie adaptation, Johhny Depp is Barnabas, a 18th Century playboy who lives in the creepily atmospheric town of Collinsport, Maine, which his family helped establish. Barnabas has the world at his feet, …

Movies releasing today: Six of the best (and could-be-better)

Six new movies open in South Africa today. Whether you're in the mood for Oscar-winning Art House fare, big budget special effects extravaganzas or just some mindless, undemanding genre fare, you'll find it in cinemas as of right now.

The Artist:
Definitely my pick of the week is The Artist, which won 5 Oscars at this year's Academy Awards... including the biggie, Best Picture. Meticulously mimicking the style of silent movies, this comedy drama chronicles the changing fortunes of fictional Silent Era film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who feels horribly threatened by the arrival of "The Talkies," and the rise of new fan favourite performers like Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo).

I was fortunate to catch a preview screening of The Artist a few weeks ago, and you can read my thoughts on the film here. In essence, The Artist is both technically brilliant and feel-good. And it expresses its love for the foundation years of Cinema in a far more accessible, effortles…

John Carter film review

When I went to watch John Carter in 2D, the cinema screening was preceded by 2 trailers which, back-to-back, depicted aliens blasting apart skyscrapers while shocked human heroes screech and snipe at each other. That’s pretty much what classifies as a mainstream science fiction actioner today. Mass urban destruction; complicated, CGI-heavy action set pieces; overwhelming noise and gung ho heroes – it’s a slick, soulless combination stamped out by the Hollywood Machine like clockwork this time of year. As appetising as month-old rice cakes, it’s films like these that movie-going children today have to base their fondest film-related fantasies and memories on.

Now John Carter is faaaar from perfect, but this first ever film adaptation of Edgar Rice BurroughsBarsoom series of stories (dating all the way back to the 1910s) is inherently different to the conveyer belt creations of today. John Carter feels like classic pulp – constantly teetering on the edge of camp silliness, but managin…

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #97: Best in Show

Well, for the record you can read my full, proper review of this year's big Oscar winner, The Artisthere. If you can stomach the prospect of watching a silent movie, this clever and exceptionally charming throwback film is well worth catching. Of course, it never hurts when your movie features the most adorable Jack Russell since Wishbone. Dog lover bias activated!

Anyway, this comic was really just a chance for me to shake up the usual Girlz 'N' Games format, express my soppy softness for all things canine and try my hand at some animal sketching for a change. Enjoy.


P.S. If you got a kick out of this Girlz 'N' Games comic, please "Like" the Girlz 'N' Games Facebook page.

Hey Hollywood, here is your Wonder Woman

Something a little different this Tuesday, taking a break from movie trailers...

If you are one of the 50 people who had the sense to watch John Carter this past weekend, then you would have been staring at American actress Lynn Collins, who plays a half naked Martian woman - the scientist warrior princess, dutiful daughter and protector of her people, Dejah Thoris.

Now Lynn Collins is one of those actresses who looks different from every angle, and in every film - geeky types may remember her as Wolverine's true love, Kayla Silverfox in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now of course, contacts, make-up and grooming shaped Collins's look in John Carter, but my first thought on seeing her onscreen was "By Hera, it's Wonder Woman!"

Raven locks. Striking blue eyes. Solid in physicality and facial feature. As equally comfortable with sword in hand as standing on a podium making a plea for peace and progress. Intelligent. Strongly emotive. Compassionate. Elegant in movement and …

Monday Movie Review: War Horse

For a film nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, War Horse is a surprisingly mixed bag. Admittedly the film has always been marketed simply as a good old fashioned tearjerker and war epic, but even in this regard, Steven Spielberg’s latest is hit and miss. Visually War Horse is a treat, and you get a handful of genuine sob moments, but otherwise the film is robbed of its full dramatic impact by its episodic format and relentless insistence in slapping on sentimentality with a shovel.

You pretty much know what you’re in store for with War Horse from the film’s opening shots, focusing on the rolling green hills of the English countryside. Immediately the audience witnesses the birth of a wilful young colt, Joey, a part-thoroughbred who wins the heart of heavily accented Devon farmboy Albert (Jeremy Irvine) – who even comes complete with a goofy Ron Weasley sidekick.

It’s all very Black Beauty to begin with, and in this quaint setting everyone speaks like they’re Hobbits from the…