Showing posts from April, 2012

Movies out today: Time to SQUEEE with The Avengers!

Seeing as it's a long weekend in South Africa - and an even longer weekend for some lucky folk with Monday off ! - Friday's new movie releases actually come out today. Three films make their big screen debut... but no guessing as to what's going to be the big box office winner.

The Avengers:
An early contender for the Biggest Blockbuster of 2012 - given how its trailers consistently broke online viewing records - is The Avengers. Screening in 3D and 2D, this superhero extravaganza brings together all the heroes of Marvel's shared Cinematic Universe: Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) under the command of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). These bickering heroes have to overcome their differences when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) initiates a scheme that puts the entire Earth at risk. And it's a threat that no single supe can stop. Joss Whedo…

Midweek Movie Review: The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2D)

The problem with being associated continually with excellence is that every misstep is magnified. Still good by others’ standards, it’s really just not up to scratch given the entity’s previous efforts. And that unfortunately is the case with the not especially funny or captivating The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

The latest stop-motion effort from Britain’s Aardman Animations – who previously gave the world Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, as well as the CGI Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas (my review) – The Pirates! Band of Misfits is the studio’s first project that isn’t their own original creation. Instead, it’s based on a series of comedic novels by Gideon Defoe – who also wrote the film’s screenplay.

The Pirates! sticks to what is pretty much an Aardman formula: one character, typically the hero, is a self-important buffoon shepherded to success by his far more competent sidekick. When the buffoon is left to his own devices, things fall apart.

So here, in 1837, we have inept, but…

Trailer Tuesday: The Cabin in the Woods

2012 is certainly shaping up as a great year for beloved geek icon  Joss Whedon, particularly in terms of his big screen fortunes. Of course, the biggie is that Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, wrote and helmed The Avengers - which is out this Thursday in South Africa, and which is destined to become one of the most successful superhero films of all time. Also this year we may see Whedon's super-low budget, indie version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, with Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof
Before that though there's horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods, with Whedon sharing script duties with frequent collaborator, and Cloverfield writer, Drew Goddard.

Filmed all the way back in 2009, it's been quite a wait for The Cabin in the Woods, which was first delayed for a 3D conversion (later scrapped, thank God!) and then shelved when MGM when bankrupt. As it turns out, apparently the 3 year wait was worth it.
At first glance…

Movies out tomorrow: Unleash your inner animal

From wolves to thoroughbreds, monkeys to Julia Roberts, it's a very critter-centric weekend at the movies - with the following new releases hitting cinemas...

The Grey:
My pick of the week is this survival thriller from the creative team responsible for 2010's A-Team movie (my review). After a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, Liam Neeson attempts to lead the small band of surviving oil rig workers back to civilisation, while battling the merciless elements, terrain and a pack of starving wolves. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

The Grey released in the US back in January, so the question is whether the 3 month wait was worth it for South African audiences? Well, given the film's strong 78% Fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, I think we can tentatively say "yes". Beware though! Those in the market for mindless wolf-punching action will be confronted by a surprisingly philosophical tale and a poetic ending you may not like.

Mirror Mirror:
The …

Midweek Movie Review: Take Shelter

To describe Take Shelter as one man’s struggle to (mentally) keep it together in an economically unstable, recessionary environment makes the film sound horribly bleak. It isn’t. But this quiet indie blend of domestic drama and psychological thriller IS horribly ominous. And at the same time, terrifically well acted.

In Take Shelter, the future General Zod, Michael Shannon plays Curtis LaForche, a blue-collar nice guy admired in his small town. Times are tough but this husband and father is committed to caring for his young family, particularly his deaf little daughter. There’s a lot of pressure on Curtis as the major provider – his supportive wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) contributes as a seamstress – but despite the struggles, he seems to have a good, if permanently budget-conscious, life.

Then the night terrors and daytime visions start: Monstrous storms pouring a dark, greasy rain that transforms people into maniacs. Freakish clouds of panicked, black birds… For Curtis, these “pr…

Trailer Tuesday: Hotel Transylvania

When it comes to animation, Genndy Tartakovsky is pretty much the cartoon world's Joss Whedon, having won the adoration of many loyal fans, young and old(er). After all, Tartakovsky is the same man who gave the world Dexter's Lab, Samurai Jack and the supremely brilliant 2D microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars; not to mention the animated intro for Priest (arguably the best thing about the sci-fi/supernatural actioner). Oh, and he was an instrumental figure writing, producing and directing The Powerpuff Girls.

Tartakovsky's work may be short on emotional depth but it's stratospherically tall in terms of style. With his signature, ultra-stylised, angular designs, surreal monsters and epic, meticulously choreographed action scenes - with a hefty chunk of manga influence - Tartakovsky made it cool for college age kids (I was one of them), and beyond, to watch after-school cartoons in the late 90s and early Noughties. For his fans, Tartakovsky provided a fantastic case for th…

Monday Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Novel adaptation The Hunger Games arrives in South Africa in ultra-hype mode, not only critically acclaimed but also America’s box office champion of the past 3 weeks straight. Based on a teen-targeted sci-fi tale by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is rightly regarded as a Twilight killer, offering escapist thrills and romantic tentativeness in a way that is accessible to ALL viewers – couching the conflict in an intriguing, grim setting and centring events around likeably proactive characters.

I’m pleased to report that, although far from perfect, The Hunger Games film delivers what it promises. It’s a faithful adaptation of its literary source material, sure to please fans (for the most part), and it’s also an engrossing, thoughtfully constructed ride for newcomers to the series.

Set in a Dystopian future, where America has been whittled down to 12 oppressed Districts serving a gluttonous Capitol, The Hunger Games focuses on an annual event crucial to maintaining this unbalanced …

Friday the 13th at the Movies: junkies, trannies, bitches, pirates, gospel singers and action heroines

It's a fantastic weekend for new releases at the movies, with 6 new flicks catering for all audiences. In fact, I'd say that viewers have 2 Must-Sees out of today's newcomers: The Hunger Games and Pirates! Band of Misfits...

The Hunger Games: Literary sensation The Hunger Games makes the leap to the big screen with similar success. In this teen-centric sci-fi tale set in a totalitarian future, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a fiercely pragmatic 16 year old, who finds herself participating in The Hunger Games - a televised tournament where teenagers fight to the death. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

My review will be up on this blog on Monday (or you can read it now over at The However, in short, although it has its rough patches The Hunger Games is a potent, well acted adaptation that will satisfy fans and newcomers alike. For the record, The Hunger Games has an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 85% Fresh.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Releasing in 3…

Calling all SA geeks: It's Upcon time!

South African video gamers and techies always have rAge in late September / early October in Johannesburg, but the local "alternative gaming" community, i.e. role-players, tabletop gaming enthusiasts as well as anime, fantasy and comic book geeks have their pick of 3 conventions annually.

The biggest, ICON, is coming up in July in Sandringham, Johannesburg. Cape Town's Dragonfire takes place around the Women's Day public holiday in August every year. I'll remind you of these events closer to the time, but now it's time for South Africa's first mass gathering of geeky types of 2012... at Upcon in Pretoria this weekend. (Check out the Facebook event page here).

This year's theme is Classic Horror, and the con runs this Saturday and Sunday, 14 - 15 April, at the University of Pretoria Convention Centre.

Entrance is R25 for the whole weekend, and attendees can indulge in all forms of gaming, watch anime, take part in a cosplay contest, browse sellers' st…

Girlz 'N' Games comic #98: Skip!

A short while ago, someone emailed me, requesting a Girlz 'N' Games comic about the “Jennifer Hepler Incident.” Yet again, a woman had become the target of vicious cyberbullying, which is unfortunately becoming a norm within the gaming community ghettoes of the Internet (and elsewhere online, actually). Don’t like what someone has done or said? You’re totally within your rights to substitute constructive criticism and a calmly delivered argument with personal attacks.

E.g. “Do the world a favour. Go and kill yourself, you fat, ugly whore!”

I have another comic lined up that deals explicitly with the topic of cyberbullying. This week’s strip though focuses solely on the Hepler controversy.

In short, Jennifer Hepler, a BioWare-employed writer (who contributed to Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II) became the hated embodiment of “everything that is wrong with gaming today.” This reaction occurred when someone dug up an old interview where Hepler remarked that, among other things,…

Happy Easter and Recap Friday

Wishing you all a contemplative Good Friday and happy Easter Sunday!

It's a 4-day weekend in South Africa and much of the English Commonwealth world, so I'll be AWOL from this blog until Tuesday.

Till then, here's a little recap of everything of importance/interest that appeared on this blog over the past month:

Feature Articles:
Hey Hollywood, here's your Wonder Woman

Film Reviews:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Carter
War Horse
The Muppets
The Artist

Trailer Profiles:
Rise of the Guardians
Snow White and the Huntsman + The Dictator
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Dark Shadows

Board Game Reviews:
Battlestar Galactica

Comics and Miscellaneous:
Girlz 'N' Games #97: Best in Show

Movies releasing today: Four and more for the Easter weekend

Starting from tomorrow it's the 4-day Easter Long Weekend in South Africa. That means the week's new releases are out in cinemas from today. Of these new movies, there's nothing really for parents with young children, but teens and adults should find something to their fancy.

American Pie: American Reunion:
Nostalgia is a strange but powerful thing. It keeps bringing us movie sequels we never expected... Like this fourth theatrical release American Pie comedy. The class of 99 is back for more raunchy, gross-out and frequently embarrassing shenanigans as the gang treks home for their high school reunion. With Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott and many more, along with Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy) and Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge), of course.

At the time of writing this, American Reunion was sitting with an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 60% Fresh. The film has split critics - some of whom are calling it the funniest of the series (or …

Trailer Tuesday: Rise of the Guardians

Nope, it isn't another movie about those Aussie-accented armoured owls.

DreamWorks Animation's next big CGI-animated release - the first one since that isn't a sequel since 2010's How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind - is literary adaptation Rise of the Guardians. Based on the rapidly expanding book series by William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians reimagines figures of folklore and legend (particularly those linked to childhood belief) as a disparate band of heroes. Utilising their amazing magical powers, these icons work together to defend the world's children against evil. A fairy tale-style spin on The Avengers or Justice League then...

In the first of what is sure to become a successful movie franchise, burly tattooed North (who we know as Santa Claus), Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, and mischievous loner Jack Frost join forces to defeat Pitch (AKA the Boogeyman) - the embodiment of childhood terror and despair. These characters are vo…

Two trailers for Monday

Following up from Trailer Tuesday profiles a short while ago (here and here respectively), included in this post are the latest plot-centric Feature trailers for 2 of the most highly anticipated films of the North American Summer. Well, they're certainly amongst the movies I'm most looking forward to of 2012's Great Midyear Blockbuster Splurge.

This said, I do worry that both of the previews below may have revealed their hand a bit too soon. Hopefully we are still due some surprises instead of having seen the best bits already.

Snow White and the Huntsman: (US and SA release date: 1 June)

The Dictator: US release date: 11 May, SA release date: 13 July