Showing posts from May, 2012

More about me

Something a little different on the blog today...

Durban based gaming website has recently started a new feature on their site, called el33thobbies (View the full archive here). Basically it's a chance for site's visitors to talk about their pastimes and achievements outside of gaming. Personally I think it's a great opportunity to break the misconception that gamers are antisocial, one-note sloths who waste hours of potentially constructive time in front of a screen.

Anyway, mine was the eighth profile to feature on the site, and you can read all about moi here.

For the record, El33tonline is very much committed to gaming community development, in both Durban and South Africa as a whole. In fact they're an instrumental part of the DBN Gamers meet-ups, which have been happening monthly since December 2011 - and which are a great chance for gamers to meet face-to-face, have a drink, play some games, listen to presentations from local distributors etc. a…

Deadlands: To zombies what Twilight is to vampires

A teenage heroine:

resentfully forced to relocate and live with an estranged parent.trying to survive in a Dystopian future where rebellion = death.emotionally isolated from her peers.fiercely protective of her vulnerable younger sibling.who is more gifted and admired than she believes.selected by the authorities for a prestigious but terrifying lottery.romantically torn between a likeable nice guy and an icy enigmatic loner. Hmmm, now where have we seen all this before?

Admittedly I don’t read a lot of Young Adult fiction, but evidently I was naive in thinking that the genre wasn’t fixated on only one or two formulae. Because, as an example of teen-orientated writing, Lily Herne’s zombie-themed Deadlands (buy it here) does nothing but dish out conventions... which is frankly disappointing.

For the record, Deadlands was one of the biggest literary sensations of 2011 in South Africa. The book is set in Cape Town a decade after a zombie outbreak coincided with the 2010 Football World Cu…

Trailer Tuesday: The Amazing Spider-Man

Currently, punters seem to be torn between the chances of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises emerging as the highest grossing superhero film of 2012. But there is a third option though that evidently a lot of people are forgetting, and that's The Amazing Spider-Man.

Even ignoring Sam Raimi's record-breaking film trilogy, the arachnid-powered Marvel superhero is a merchandising sensation, so beloved around the world they've even made international versions of the character. As a result I have a feeling in my gut that this rather unexpected, much discussed reboot  is going to be a major contender... especially after the release of this fantastically thrilling third trailer above (following a surprisingly lengthy debut trailer and second feature trailer)

Evidently drawing a hefty chunk of inspiration from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, The Amazing Spider-Man focuses on our hero's early days as a masked crime fighter. Andrew Garfield plays lanky loner - and "p…

Movies out today: Upping the star wattage

After last weekend's dud set of movie releases, today's trio of new films inject some much needed star power back into proceedings

Men in Black 3:
Screening in 2D and converted 3D is this rather unexpected sci-fi comedy sequel. It's been 15 years since the world first met gadget-packing government agents K (Tommy Lee Jones ) and J (Will Smith), the Earth's first line of defense against extra-terrestrial troublemakers. With Jemaine Clement's villain up to no good, J time-travels back to the 1960s to stop an assassination attempt on a much younger K (Josh Brolin). Barry Sonnenfeld directs again.

Men in Black 3 is currently sitting with an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes review score of 63%. Apparently it's a pretty perfunctory popcorn flick that looks cool, moves quickly and avoids bloat. Unsurprisingly, Brolin and Clement are the big scene stealers. In summary: MIB3 is an improvement on 2 but is still nowhere as good as the original comic book adaptation

The Lucky …

Henry Rollins brings The Long March to Durban

I’ve started doing some freelance writing for a local entertainment and lifestyle website. Unfortunately though, despite submitting articles about upcoming Durban events weeks in advance, the pieces are, so far, never placed online in time. Much to my frustration. And hopefully not to my financial detriment. Anyway, here’s the blog post I wrote about Henry Rollins’s recent South African tour, followed by my thoughts after attending Saturday’s show in Durban.

Outspoken entertainer Henry Rollins hits Durban

Given the number of sell-out comedy shows that regularly take place in the city, it’s pretty safe to say that Durbanites are huge comedy fans. This month though, local lovers of stand-up will be treated to something different... in the form of outspoken social commentator Henry Rollins. Noelle Adams introduces the outrageous counter culture observer.

Henry Rollins may not be a household name in South Africa but the multi-talented entertainer has racked up a varied career over the pas…

Girlz 'N' Games comic #99: The trends they are a-changin'

Well it really has been forever since I last drew one of these Girlz 'N' Games comics. Sorry about that. The company where I work full-time has been experiencing cash flow difficulties, and that means ramping up freelance writing work in my free time to fill the ever-changing gaps between paycheques. And when that happens, sketching drops down the priority list.

Anyway, no real need to explain this strip... although I do have a true story that sums up the sentiment behind it. Basically I was at the cinema to watch the Hunger Games film adaptation (my review) and the teaser trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 popped up onscreen. Almost immediately the snickering began, and by the time "sinister" Bella was revealed, everyone in the audience was laughing out loud. Then the Hunger Games started and the smiles were replaced with winces.

The truth of that matter is that some Young Adult pop culture phenomenons have more street cred than others.

P.S. Yes,…

Trailer Tuesday: Rock of Ages

Let's be honest. When it comes to the theatre, "scavenged" pop and rock jukebox musicals aren't exactly cerebrally challenging high art. Plus, their formula is pretty standard:

1) Take some foot-tapping songs that are already massive hits.
2) Place said music in some kind of order.
3) If you're telling a fictional tale (instead of, say, a musician's life story), link the tracks with some tepid, barely outlined tale of free spirits, typically trying to overcome stifling conformity through the power of music.

And there you have it. That's exactly how We Will Rock You was structured. Mamma Mia! demonstrated the same bohemian spirit at least. And then there's Rock of Ages, the "manliest" musical around, sampling hits from long-haired 80s rock and metal bands like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Poison and Twisted Sister. Well, Hollywood caught whiff of this crowd-pleaser and very soon we'll be able to watch an all-star movie version of Ro…

A quiet week for new movie releases

This weekend you totally have to watch.... The Avengers (my review). Again. Yup, it's a bit of a dud week at South African cinemas with only 3 new films opening locally. And none of them are exactly major drawcards. So, treat the next 7 days as a chance for an older release catch-up, or an opportunity to regain your breath before the seasonal blockbuster storm rages back to hurricane strength from next Friday.

One For the Money:
Love her or hate her, Katherine Heigl stars in this adaptation of the hit franchise-spawning mystery novel by Janet Evanovich. Mixing action and comedy, One For the Money sees Heigl play an unemployed woman who accepts a job as a bounty hunter. She sets her sights on a notorious bail-jumper - who also just so happens to be her ex (Jason O'Mara).

One For the Money opened in the US back in January with a devastating aggregated Rotten Tomatoes review score of 2%. Ow. Apparently this one is as bland, corny and tedious as a failed TV pilot.

The Son of No One

Midweek Movie Review: Mirror Mirror

I’ll say one thing about Mirror Mirror. If you have a daughter under 10, chances are she’ll absolutely love this colourful fantasy comedy – the first of two Snow White fairy tale adaptations coming out in 2012 (the second being Snow White and the Huntsman next month). For everyone else in the audience though there’s little to recommend about Mirror Mirror, which comes across like someone has simply set up cameras at a playhouse to film a big budget pantomime.

From Immortals and The Cell director Tarsem Singh – who is known for his use of surreal imagery – Mirror Mirror is consciously artificial in all departments. This is most obvious in terms of the sets, which have an airless indoors quality to them, even during the outdoors scenes, while the landscape shots are all clearly CGI creations.

In terms of the plot, the well-known fairy tale has supposedly been sassed up with contemporary dialogue and accents, but has otherwise only undergone a few notable storyline tweaks. For example,…

Grant Morrison’s Supergods... and my Superman

Last week I finished Grant Morrison’s Supergods ( review here), a non-fiction look at how the evolution of the superhero in popular culture mirrors Western society’s own concerns and aspirations. For example, the optimistic Kennedy/Space Race Era of the mid 1950s/early 60s produced clean-cut, conservative, “science” heroes like the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern, who later were seen as authoritarian squares.

Supergods is the acclaimed comic writer’s highly personal look at superhero history, peppered with analyses of iconic comics, and mixed with chunks of Morrison’s own biography and experiences within the comics industry.

Honestly, the book could have done with less of Morrison’s dabbling in mind-altering drugs, the occult and weird adventures in extra-planar enlightenment – particularly in the later chapters – but there are enough fascinating insights to make a read of Supergods worthwhile for superhero lovers. Even if the book has the potential to make a potent…

Movies out today: Darkness and drama settle on SA cinemas

Five new movies open in South Africa today, and they all bring the drama in some form or another - even if it's tempered by quirky comedy.

Dark Shadows:
Director Tim Burton and leading man Johnny Depp reteam for the eighth time on Dark Shadows, a supernatural comedy-drama based on the cultishly popular soap opera. Depp is Barnabas Collins, a 18th Century playboy turned vampire, who, cursed by a witch (Eva Green), wakes in 1972  and immediately sets about reversing his family's ailing fortunes... all while coming to terms with the era in which he finds himself. Dark Shadows' all-star cast of secretive oddballs includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Chloë Grace Moretz and Jonny Lee Miller. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

You can read my full Dark Shadows review here. In a nutshell, the film is very uneven but until its overblown ending it's one of the more genuinely fun Burton-Depp collaborations, with lots of style and a great soundtrack. Fo…

Midweek Movie Review: Dark Shadows

There’s no denying thatDark Shadows is a bit of an oddity, flip-flopping between comedy and gothic melodrama. These tonal swings are not always convincing, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the film is a good chunk of nonsense fun, clearly made with love and style. Just as importantly, the film is one of the more gratifying of the now eight collaborations between director Tim Burton and leading man Johnny Depp – eschewing the irritating character quirkiness for quirkiness’ sake that crept into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.

Based on the supernatural soap opera that attracted a cult following during the mid 60s to early 70s, Dark Shadows 2012 opens with a brief prologue that sets the scene: Barnabas Collins and his family set sail from England to the New World in the 1700s and settle in gloomy Maine, where they establish a fishing empire. But good fortune in business is paired with personal tragedy once Barnabas spurns a serving girl, Angelique (Eva…

Trailer Tuesday: Magic Mike

2012 is a great year for Channing Tatum, and, by extension, his hordes of adoring (definitely gender skewed to female) fans. The up and coming heartthrob builds on a strong 2011 - which saw him appear in 4 movies - with a 2012 that includes starring roles in 5 high profile releases: Haywire, The Vow, 21 Jump Street, G.I. Joe 2 and, finally, Magic Mike.

In this R-rated comedy drama, the former Step Up star puts his hip-swirling dance moves and impressive physique to good use, playing the title character - a popular male stripper who is starting to find conflict between his lifestyle and his greater life aspirations. Cody Horn is Mike's girl-next-door love interest, and the older sister of his "apprentice" Alex Pettyfer. Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello all appear as veteran strippers, with names like Dallas, Ken and Big Dick. Tatum produces Magic Mike, which is apparently loosely based on his own experiences as a 19 year old exotic dancer in…

Monday Movie Review: The Avengers (2D)

So, this is my chance to weigh in on The Avengers, the moment that the past 4 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have been building towards. It’s also, of course, the moment that many comic book fans have been waiting their entire lives for; many no doubt sceptical about ever seeing Marvel’s all-star superhero squad together in a single film.

Now I’m not going to succumb to the fan frenzy knee-jerk reaction of calling the Avengers the greatest superhero movie ever made. It’s definitely not a 5-star film. However, The Avengers is still a masterful accomplishment – easily overcoming the odds of it becoming a rushed, overstuffed mess like many other multi-hero/villain movies (e.g. Batman and Robin, X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 3). More importantly though, The Avengers is also massively entertaining.

My gripes with the blockbuster are largely confined to its beginning. The film takes a little while to find its footing… mostly because the audience has to suffer through some …

New movies releasing today: More bang and blood for your buck

Apart from a couple of more contemplative movies, it's a macho weekend at the box office - bringing big explosions and buckets of blood for your viewing pleasure.  

Leave your brain at the door for this spiritual successor to Transformers, also from toy company Hasbro. Loosely based on the board/pen-and-paper game, Battleship pits a small naval fleet - in the midst of a multinational naval exercise - against alien invaders who erect a force field around the Hawaiian islands. Taylor (John Carter) Kitsch is the cocky lead while the cast also includes Alexander Skarsgård,
Liam Neeson and Rihanna. P.S. Once again we're getting this one way before the States. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

For better or worse, Battleship can't escape comparisons to a Michael Bay movie - despite being directed by Peter (Hancock, Friday Night Lights) Berg. It's big, it's loud, it's consciously dumb and it's way too long. But at the same time, consumed in the right spiri…