Showing posts from November, 2012

Movies out today: Time to get shaken, not stirred

And so the festive season glut of blockbusters begins, starting with one film that - with the widest cinema opening in South African history - is likely to break local box office records.

After the fantastic franchise-rebootingCasino Royale and less impressive Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig is back in the tuxedo of Ian Fleming's deadly MI6 agent, James Bond. This time the increasingly despondent Bond must come to the aid of M (Judi Dench) when she's targeted by cyber-terrorist Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Fortunately Ben Whishaw's Q is around to kit out the suave spy with some effective new gadgetry. Meanwhile, Naomie Harris and Bérénice Lim Marlohe are Skyfall's requisite Bond girls.

Every time a new 007 film comes out, it's proclaimed as the best ever made (yes, even Die Another Day)... so take these claims with a pinch of salt. Skyfall is no different. This said, with Sam (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) Mendes in the director's chair, the 23rd…

Girlz 'N' Games Comic #106: Shifting Goal Posts

Originally posted on my web comic, Girlz 'N' Games.
Last week or so, comic creator Tony Harris took to Facebook to rant about “fake geek girls” – more specifically female cosplayers who pop up in revealing outfits at cons and bask in the slobber-flecked nerd attention... despite the fact that the majority of these “superheroines” have little comic knowledge.

For the most part, online outrage was the response to Harris’s outburst. “Boo hoo, poor socially inept white men, preyed on mercilessly by succubi masquerading as geek girls.”

My 2 cents?

I don’t disagree that there are cosplayers out there who are more interested in dressing up and feeling good about their bodies than grappling with the headache-inducing minutiae of comic book continuity. But fuck it, these women are having fun. They’re not doing it with any insidious intention. They’re not trying to bait anyone. They’re not there to snicker and demean. They’re not hurting anyone…

Put more simply: it’s not about you, boys…

Trailer Tuesday: World War Z

I haven't read Max Brooks' genre-redefining novel (yet), but I haven't been deaf to the anguished cries of fans concerning the upcoming film adaptation, World War Z.

In literary form, World War Z is one of the definitive zombie apocalypse tales. In fact, it could be argued the book is the ultimate Man Vs. Undead Saga. Attempting to be as realistic as possible, the story follows a UN agent who is travelling the globe and collecting personal accounts from survivors of a decade-long struggle between the living and the dead. The War has led to the near extermination of the human race, and the novel examines the socio-political changes it has forced on humanity. Some nations and cultures have dealt with the undead uprising more effectively than others.

 Judging by its first trailer, World War Z has certainly got the scope of the story right. It looks epic and global. Unfortunately though, there's something about the blatantly CGI-zombie tidal waves that grates. Yes, you re…

Movies out today: Forcing "Fun" and Freelancers on us

Right South African moviegoers, this is evidently your weekend off. It's time to relax and build up your strength because from next Friday the end of year blockbuster season kicks off. Skyfall, The Hobbit, Rise of the Guardians, Looper, Life of Pi... they're all coming out in quick succession. Today, though, the new releases aren't really appealing at all.

50 Cent stars in this crime drama about the revenge-minded son of a murdered New York policeman. Eventually our hero and his 2 buddies find themselves among a band of rogue cops - headed up by his father's corrupt former partner (Robert De Niro). Forest Whitaker also stars.

Shame. 50 Cent has a tendency to appear in these mediocre, essentially straight-to-DVD efforts. Despite the presence of De Niro and Whitaker (both on autopilot), Freelancers is apparently a listless, poorly scripted genre entry. And 50 Cent still doesn't have the acting chops to carry a film.

Fun Size:
You can never have too many mov…

Midweek Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

Kudos to director Bill Condon and everyone involved in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Although the film is far from excellent, its makers have managed to end this supernatural romance series on a high note. Coming across – at least in its second half – like a cross between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, Breaking Dawn 2 does away with the monotonous love triangle angst of its predecessors and focuses on action instead. The filmmakers let rip, toying with fan expectation in a way that vastly improves on the movie’s literary source material.

Just to clarify upfront: the plot for the Breaking Dawn film adaptation is convoluted tosh, as per Stephenie Meyer’s book. It’s also entirely inaccessible for anyone who has (amazingly) managed to avoid the franchise over the past four years. With no recaps or character introductions, Part 2 is clearly meant to be watched immediately after Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (my review).

The first half of the …

Trailer Tuesday: Warm Bodies

Why look, it's Twilight with zombies...

OK, not really.

Even though it comes from Summit Entertainment, the same studio responsible for the K-Stew and R-Patz Show of the past 4 years, Warm Bodies seems to be playing is supernatural romance premise almost entirely for laughs.

Based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies centres on shambling undead R (Nicholas Hoult) who starts to rediscover his humanity when he encounters, and falls in love with, Julie (the very pretty Teresa Palmer), a human survivor of the Zombie Apocalypse. John "I'm game for anything right now" Malkovich plays Julie's distrustful general father, and comedian Rob Corddry is R's dead best friend.

Granted the trailer above gives away too much about the plot, but Warm Bodies, with its spin on Romeo and Juliet, looks like a lot of fun. Adding further credibility to the mix is that the movie is adapted and directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Jonathan Levine - who, with All t…

Monday Movie Review: ParaNorman (3D)

First there were the vacationing monsters of Hotel Transylvania (my review). Then there were resurrected pets in Frankenweenie (review). And now, rounding out 2012’s trio of horror-themed animated comedies, there’s ParaNorman, with its witch curses, zombies and weird kids who see dead people. Of the three, Frankenweenie remains the sweetest and most consistently satisfying, but it’s similarly stop-motion ParaNorman that tops in terms of character creation, wit and visual wizardry. It’s also hands-down the most atmospheric, and genuinely creepy.

ParaNorman seems intent on challenging expectation all-round. Opening with a tribute to 70s exploitation slashers, the film quickly establishes its plot while throwing around some audacious one-liners that will sail right over young children in the audience. So we meet young Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is misunderstood and bullied by everyone – including his own family – because of his ability to communicate with the dead.…

Movies out today: From Breaking Dawn to the Cold Light of Day

Four new movies open in South African cinemas today, although it's clear from the outset who the big box office winner will be...

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2:
Long-suffering boyfriends and haters can breathe a sigh of relief. Five movies later, the soap opera-styled film franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's supernatural romance novels is finally drawing to a close. For now. In the final installment, Bella (Kristen Stewart) enjoys her "rebirth" as a vampire alongside undead hubby Edward (Robert Pattinson) and their hybrid vamp-human daughter. Unfortunately, the couple's happiness is short-lived as the powerful Volturi clan finally has an excuse to destroy the Cullen vampires. Time for the ultimate face-off!

Personally I find it hard to believe that Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is particularly good. The book was tedious, with an overlong, aborted climax... but perhaps the filmmakers have fixed that? Currently the movie is sitting with an aggregated Rotten Tom…

Midweek Movie Review: Frankenweenie (3D)

It’s been a while, but director Tim Burton has finally made something really worth watching: not just pretty to look at, or goofy superficial fun that implodes in its final act, but something with heart that entertains all-round. And evidently all this return to form required was for the former Disney artist to revisit his early filmography. With a few other animated films still left to open locally – ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph, Rise of the GuardiansFrankenweenie is easily the best animated American release of 2012 so far.

Based on Burton’s 1984 live-action short of the same name, Frankenweenie is a black and white stop-motion tale that refreshingly doesn't punt the same limp, family-friendly messages of so many other animated films. Hell, at one point a character explicitly states “Sometimes adults don’t know what they’re talking about.”

In essence, Frankenweenie is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein transplanted into retro-styled American suburbia. Victor Frankenstein (voiced by C…

Trailer Tuesday: The Lone Ranger

After languishing in development hell for well over a decade, and then stalling last minute because of budget concerns (this baby costs over $250 million), The Lone Ranger is finally returning to the big screen in the 21st Century. No doubt hoping to duplicate the success of its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Disney has re-united the director (Gore Verbinski), producer (Jerry Bruckheimer) and star (Johnny Depp) of that particular series for this boisterous, mega-budget Western.

Ascendant heartthrob Armie Hammer plays the title character, a former Texas Ranger left for dead during an ambush. Saved by Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Depp), our hero dons a mask and fights injustice, riding off on his white stallion with the catchphrase "High-ho Silver, away!" Out of interest, The Lone Ranger started life as a radio serial in the 1930s (with The Green Hornet as its spin-off) before becoming an iconic TV series in the 1950s, starring Clayton Moore.

Now the trailer f…

Movies out today: Horror and hysteria abounds

Four new films open in South Africa today, and half of them seem to be Halloween leftovers.

If Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie didn't satisfy your craving for macabre animated comedy, well here's one more for you! From the animation studio behind Coraline, Paranorman is the stop-motion tale of a young loner whose ability to communicate with the dead comes in handy when a witch's curse triggers a zombie invasion of his town. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

Screening in 3D, Paranorman is apparently a real treat for adults and older children. Perhaps a bit slow and slight on story, it's nonetheless sharp, smart and scary. "Edgy"  and "risky" are some of the words typically been thrown around about this one. With an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86% Fresh, Paranorman is my New Movie Pick of the Week.

House at the End of the Street:
Every starlet has to have at least one horror thriller under her belt, and The Hunger Games' Jenni…

Midweek Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

Basically consisting of six genre-jumping films in one, the three-hour Cloud Atlas is real bang for your movie-going buck. This adaptation of David Mitchell’s “unfilmable” fantasy/sci-fi novel is a fascinating experiment in storytelling that offers major rewards for thinking film fans. Unfortunately though, while the movie excels in many areas, particularly the technical, it does come up short in terms of emotion. Only a couple of its tales stir the heart, leaving the viewing experience undeniably impressive but not as affecting as it’s clearly attempting to be.

Cloud Atlas isn’t easy to explain. It’s part historical drama, part illicit gay romance, part industrial espionage expose, part bittersweet British comedy, part Dystopian sci-fi tale and part post-Apocalyptic fable, with the likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Jim Sturgess playing multiple parts – which often involves donning heavy make-up, switching genders and undergoing racial t…

Trailer Tuesday: Iron Man 3

A costumed hero whose attitude has turned sober and contemplative.
A menacing international terrorist with a booming voice.
A hero broken by booming-voiced terrorist, stripped of his toys and made to watch the destruction of his world.
A hero, isolated and forced to reinvent himself, relying on only his (distinctly human) wit and will.
A general downbeat tone...

Why, Iron Man 3 looks to be the Dark Knight Rises of the Marvel film series.

Not that I'm being condescending.

I'm actually really excited for the second sequel centred on Tony Stark, Marvel's genius billionaire industrialist playboy - played with cocky delight by Robert Downey, Jr. And my enthusiasm is despite the alright but otherwise underwhelming Iron Man 2. The original Iron Man (my review) is probably still my favourite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and I would love to be blown away all over again.

Anyway, what's to look forward to this time? Well, with writer-director Shane Black taking over directin…

Monday movie review: Hotel Transylvania

With Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy both releasing in South Africa this year, Hotel Transylvania could have completed the Adam Sandler trifecta of awfulness. After all the funnyman does more than lend his voice to this animated comedy – he’s executive produced it as well, with his wife and daughter providing dialogue for a few minor characters. Hotel Transylvania could have been lazy, puerile and saccharine. Fortunately though, the film manages to hurdle expectation and remain fairly entertaining. Hotel Transylvania is not groundbreaking in any way, but it’s an upbeat, surprisingly safe 90-minute amusement for families.

In terms of plot, widowed Dracula (Adam Sandler) is exceptionally protective of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). In fact, he’s so worried that he goes to the extreme length of building a castle in remote Transylvania. This castle goes on to become a holiday resort for other monsters tired of hiding in the unwelcoming human world. Unfortunately for Drac and co., the…

Movies out today: century-spanning cerebral epics, serial killers, plant boys and academics

Four new movies open in South Africa today, and for the most part they focus on powerful interpersonal bonds... with a touch of escapist flavour.

Cloud Atlas:
The pick of the new releases is definitely this ambitious sci-fi epic and novel adaptation - helmed by The Matrix's Wachowskis, and Tom Tykwer. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving head up a vast cast, where actors play multiple roles. It's all rather confusing and headache-inducing but basically the film consists of several stories set over multiple centuries, where the same souls keep meeting and interacting in different ways. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

With such an unconventional plot and a running time of over 2 hours 40 minutes, Cloud Atlas probably won't have mass appeal. However, by the sound of things, it's must-watch for movie lovers. Some critics have even gone so far as to call it "the most important film of the year," combining visual spectacle, philosophical musings and…