Showing posts from March, 2013

Movies out tomorrow: Prehistoric families, action heroes... and Miley!

It's the four-day Easter Long Weekend in South Africa, starting from tomorrow, so I'll be taking a break from blogging over the same time. Anyway, despite it being a holiday period, it's not exactly the greatest weekend for movie lovers, with just 4 films  - of varying degrees of quality - hitting South African cinemas. At least it's been easy to choose the pick of the new releases...

The Croods:
Screening in 2D and 3D is this animated comedy from DreamWorks Animation - their lone release of 2013. The likes of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman provide voices for this tale of neanderthal family, headed up by an overprotective patriarch, that is forced out of their cave and into a risk-filled unknown world. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

Sitting with an aggregated review score of 67% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, The Croods is apparently colourful and action-packed, with moments of genuine wonder and a terrific voice cast. Its stor…

Midweek Movie Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

Although we seem to be in the age of gritty reimaginings of popular fairy tales, superheroes and other fantasy creations, Oz the Great and Powerful is definitely not a dark and tortured reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s vibrant Oz universe. A collaboration between Disney and director Sam Raimi, Oz the Great and Powerful feels rather unsurprisingly like a combination of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Raimi’s first Spider-Man film. There’s a lot to like about this colourful, straightforward and clearly family-centric adventure – which is superior to the very similar Alice, for the record. Sadly though, the film is also far from perfect, suffering from some severe miscasting which distracts from the overall retro-style experience.

In essence, Oz the Great and Powerful is a prequel to the classic 1939 MGM film, explaining how a decidedly unmagical carnival performer from Kansas came to rule over the magical kingdom of Oz. James Franco is Oscar Diggs, the man in question – an ambitiou…

Something Wonder(Woman)ful for Monday

While Warner Bros continues to flirt (or not!) with the idea of anotherWonder WomanTV series - this one in the Smallville mould - and Grant Morrison plans to completely overhaul the character in a new comic book series, stunt coordinator Jesse V. Johnson has created the following trailer for an obviously non-existent film based on comicdom's most iconic female superhero. 

Make no mistake about it - this trailer is pretty cheap looking, but damn, its heart is definitely in the right place. This is the type of Wonder Woman film fans - and probably the whole world - want to see. Enjoy!

Wonder Woman Fan Film from Jesse V. Johnson on Vimeo.

Friday LOLs: School of Thrones

It's just over a week until Season 3 of HBO's Game of Thrones begins airing in the United States - on Sunday, 31 March. The massively popular TV series starts screening in South Africa on pay channel MNET from Friday, 12 April.

If you're in a frothy fan frenzy about the series' imminent return, then perhaps a little parody will tide you over until then? Not that Game of Thrones hasn't already been the subject of multiple web series and comedy sites before now, but this new project is especially fun...

Sporting the tagline "Prom night is coming," School of Thrones transplants the political wrangling of George R. R. Martin's historical fantasy world into a high school setting. Jocks, nerds, hipsters and harlots compete for the title of prom king and queen of Westeros High. It's amazing how well the whole thing works. Enjoy!

P.S. You can find School of Thrones on Twitter here.

Movies out today & Friday: Giants, Thieves and Chimps

With the public holiday tomorrow, most of this week's new movies are actually releasing today. Check out the following in local cinemas from today and/or Friday.

Jack the Giant Slayer:
Screening in shot-for-3D and 2D is this epic fantasy adventure from Bryan (X-Men) Singer. Mixing the Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer fairy tales, the film centres on farmboy Jack (Nicholas Hoult), who must lead a band of soldiers in rescuing the princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) from the land of the giants in the clouds. Also with Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Ewan McGregor. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

Word on Jack the Giant Slayer is mixed. Some are calling it refreshingly straightforward fun with strong performances. Others have complained that it's technically strong but soulless. And finally there's the camp that says this one is purely for the Under 10s and kids at heart.'s Kervyn seemed to belong to that final group, if his review is to be believed Gi…

Trailer Tuesday: Epic

Following on from last week's profiling of The Croods, we're looking at another upcoming animated release today - Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox's Epic.

Bringing back fond memories of FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Epic sees a young woman Mary Katherine (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) magically shrunk to insect size when she goes searching in the woods for her professor father (Jason Sudeikis). Despite the skepticism of others, he believes that there are tiny guardians in the forest, and much to her shock Mary Katherine finds an army of Leafmen, voiced by the likes of Josh Hutcherson and Colin Farrell. Our heroes must work together to defeat the villainous Boggan leader, Mandrake (voiced of course by Christoph Waltz). Beyoncé Knowles and Steven Tyler help round out the cast of this fantasy adventure.

Epic, like last year's Rise of the Guardians, is loosely based on a children's book by William Joyce - this one entitled The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. As …

Movie Review Monday: Warm Bodies

Honestly, you’re probably in a better position going to watch Warm Bodies without having seen its trailer. You see the previews give away too much of the plot – which should really be a delightful surprise – and create the misconception that the film is primarily a comedy. The reality is that while there are many laugh-worthy moments in the light and charming Warm Bodies, the film mixes and matches genres. Think of it as Twilight for the Scott Pilgrim crowd.

Based on the novel by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies is in essence a Zombie Apocalypse take on Romeo & Juliet. Exposed to his thoughts in voice-over, it’s clear from the outset that hoodie-wearing R (Nicholas Hoult) is a different type of zombie. Craving a connection with anyone or anything, he shambles around collecting nick-nacks for his den, and devouring the brains of the living (“the best part”) for the memories they contain. One day he encounters human survivor Julie (Teresa Palmer). A bond develops between them, but there w…

Movies out today: Zombies, rebels, presidents and idiots

Five new movies open in South Africa today. Whether you're in the mood for offbeat comedy, escapist action, slapstick nonsense, a touch of horror or more highbrow fare, today you've got it. 

Warm Bodies:
Based on the novel of the same name, Warm Bodies brings together zombie horror and teen romance for a unique spin on the Romeo & Juliet story. Undead R (Nicholas Hoult) finds something in him awakened when he meets feisty human survivor Julie (Teresa Palmer). Also with Rob Corddry and John Malkovich

You can read my full review at here but in short, Warm Bodies pulls off a combination of disparate genres that on paper sounds impossible. The film is slight, but charming and enjoyable. Internationally, Warm Bodies is 78% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Red Dawn:
The hit teen-centric actioner from the 1980s gets the remake treatment. When North Korea invades the United States, a  group of high schoolers flees into the woods and becomes resis…

Movie review catch-up: Looper and End of Watch

So, it turns out there are 2 movies that I never got around to reviewing fully. Seeing as they will shortly be available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray in South Africa, now’s the ideal time to rectify my oversight.

Looper was probably the most highly acclaimed sci-fi movie of 2012. Mixing crime noir, action and domestic drama among other things, the film is an undeniably ambitious and intelligent time travel tale, largely free of headaches. Still, even with so much hype, you never can tell…

Looper takes place in a future when the US economy has collapsed and a small percentage of the population has developed minor telekinetic abilities. In this setting the mob uses illicit time travel to eliminate its enemies – sending them back decades for extermination by Loopers, young hitmen living the high life in 2044. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe is one of these Loopers, and his dreams seem to be on track until he has to execute his future self (Bruce Willis), who promptly escapes. Young Joe …

Trailer Tuesday: The Croods

You may, like me, still be smarting from the fact that this year's Oscar for Best Animated Feature went to the least impressive of the nominees (my review of Brave here). This said, there was some justice when Wreck-It Ralph (my review) received the same accolade at the 2013 Annie Awards - which are chosen by industry animators and animation fans alike. Yay!

Well, the annual competition for the best of the best animated flicks has just reset. And one of the first contenders out the gate in 2013 is DreamWorks Animation's The Croods.

Screening in 3D and 2D, this prehistoric adventure follows the "world's first family" as they're forced  out of their comfort zone (AKA their cave) by an earthquake and journey across an amazing, unfamiliar world. Naturally some members of the family handle the upheaval better than others. Dad Grug (Nicolas Cage) definitely falls into the latter camp while his teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) has been lusting after adventure and …

Monday Movie Review: The Impossible

It’s been almost 10 years since the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in South East Asia. Curiously Hollywood has tiptoed around the disaster before now – probably because of its mammoth scale and freshness – with 2010’s Hereafter being the only high profile film to touch on the event. That changes though with the release of Spanish-made The Impossible, a harrowing mix of real-life drama and survival horror. The film is frequently a tough watch, but it is very effective in plunging the viewer into a nightmarish situation, forcing you to contemplate how you would have handled it and its chaotic aftermath. Zombie movies have nothing on this.

If you are looking for an epic disaster film with a vast cast that chronicles how the tsunami affected all cultural and class groups, The Impossible will disappoint. Although ordinary Thai people appear in the film as support characters and selfless villagers, this true story lasers in on one specific family, t…

Magic, moms, muscles and memories in cinemas today

It's a bumper week of new cinema releases in South Africa today. Five new movies open, each offering something different for moviegoers.

Oz The Great and Powerful:
Screening in 2D and shot-for-3D is this big budget fantasy adventure from  Disney, clearly intended to achieve the same success as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. A prequel to The Wizard of Oz, the film explains how conman carnival performer Oscar Diggs (James Franco) evolves into the title character. Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz are the the 3 powerful witches who insist Oscar is destined for greatness. Directed by Sam Raimi. Trailer Tuesday profile here

Early word from critics is that Oz The Great and Powerful is quite watchable - particularly in terms of its impressive special effects and world creation - but it's not overwhelmingly impressive. At the time of writing, the film's aggregated review score on Rotten Tomatoes was sitting at 63% Fresh. It's apparently a good kids' mo…

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #110 - Film Nerds in Love

Originally posted on my web comic, Girlz 'N' Games.
My latest comic - for the romantics at heart... and Body Horror nerds.

Yeah, this strip should have been up for Valentine's Day but time got away from me. Anyway, here it is now. Just consider it Girlz 'N' Games' 2013 V-Day comic, regardless.

I know the reference may be a tad on the obscure side for some readers. Then again, if you've ever watched the likes of The Brood, The Fly, eXistenZ or Crash - or even the trailer for Cronenberg Jnr's Antiviral - I think you'll have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about.

Of all the cinematic sub-genres, I've always found Body Horror (consider The Human Centipede another recent example) to consistently rank among the most emotionally potent and memorable. Perhaps because these films tend to be so nightmarish that you just can't erase them from your memory. Then again, I am very squeamish when it comes to authentic-looking "medical' viol…

Trailer Tuesday: Jack the Giant Slayer

Once upon a time, Jack the Giant Slayer was intended to be one of the first movies released duringthe Great Fairy Tale Film Deluge of 2012-2013. However, like some other big Summer blockbusters of last year - including G.I. Joe: Retaliation and fellow fairy tale flick Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jack was unceremoniously pulled from the 2012 release schedule at the last minute and shelved until 2013 (a delay of 9 months in this case).

In that time, fairy tale films have proven to be the new video game movies. For some reason it's very difficult for filmmakers to nail what on paper seems like a sure thing - epic, action-packed fantasy adventures centring on magic and monsters. The new batch of fairy tale adaptations have mostly been "meh"... and sadly Jack the Giant Slayer looks no different. In the feature trailer above, not to mention the film's original teaser trailer, the movie just doesn't "pop" - to use a hated ad industry term. I'm in …

Fun for Monday: Harry Potter ruined forever

In January - on my birthday in fact - fellow writer Darryn gave me a present I'd never forget. By pointing me to this YouTube clip, he effectively ruined Harry Potter for me forever! Now I'm playing his "gift" forward right here, right now...

Movies out today: Big action stars, big waves and big issues

Six new films open today, including musical documentary  Beyonce: Life is But a Dream - which is at select Nu Metro cinemas for just 1 week - and thinly disguised showreel Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (46% Fresh) which is screening in 3D. In terms of proper movie fare though, here's the 4 to choose from this weekend...

The Last Stand:
He's back! The Governator hangs up his suit and hauls out a chain gun in his big return to action movies. Arnie plays the sheriff of a sleepy border town that suddenly becomes the last hope in stopping a drug lord (Eduardo Noriega) and his violent henchmen from escaping from the US into Mexico. Also with Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzmán, Forest Whitaker and Jaimie Alexander.

Although The Last Stand was a commercial flop, apparently it's no turkey. With a aggregated review score of 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is apparently flawed but nonetheless delivers the tongue-in-cheek escapism you'd expect. Dumb, bloody, undemanding fun. Pity abou…