Posts

Showing posts from August, 2013

Movies out today: Sci-fi, fantasy and false identities

Image
Three new films open in South Africa today, offering a mix of escapism and special effects.

Elysium:
This sci-fi actioner is South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp's highly anticipated follow-up to his surprise smash hit District 9. In the future, everyone who's anyone lives on a luxury space station, where Jodie Foster rules the roost. Everyone else - 99% of humanity - is stuck on a devastated, resource-stricken Earth. Matt Damon's ex-con has a chance to change the unfair status quo with the aid of an exo-skeleton. Trailer Tuesday profile.

Sadly, Blomkamp's sophomore effort evidently doesn't reach the same heights as District 9. You can read Kervyn and Lourens's full reviews at TheMovies.co.za, but in short, while the action scenes, visual effects and Sharlto Copley stand out, the film is otherwise unnuanced in terms of plot, character and socio-political commentary. Internationally, Elysium has racked up an aggregrated Rotten Tomatoes review score of 69%…

Magnificent X-Men: Days of Future Past posters

Image
20th Century Fox seems to be really upping their game in terms of marketing material for the few Marvel Comics film adaptations that still fall under their umbrella. And they're doing this by getting all artistic-like.

First there was the beautiful teaser poster (see below) for this year's The Wolverine, which mimics Japanese calligraphy and/or brushwork. And now they've made up for the awful copy-paste laziness of the X-Men: First Class posters (check out here and here) with some wonderfully simple but powerful character posters for sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past.


Of course, the incredibly ambitious X-Men: Days of Future Past  - a time travel plot AND the huge merged cast of mutants from First Class and the original X-Men trilogy - deserves its own full blog post. And that will certainly be coming once the film's first proper trailer is released. For now though, just marvel at the cleverness of these creations.


Oh, and here's that Wolverine poster for good meas…

Trailer Tuesday: Pompeii

Image
First things first: This Pompeii is not a big screen adaptation of Robert Harris's novel of the same name. Despite featuring the same name, Roman Polanski's planned film was cancelled during the Writers' Strike a few years' back, and is unlikely to ever happen...

Which is a pity because instead of a well-considered Ancient World tale of political corruption in the shadow of the soon-to-erupt Mount Vesuvius, this 3D Pompeii comes across as basically Spartacus meets Gladiator meets Titanic meets Dante's Peak. It comes from Paul WS Anderson, the writer-director-producer who has delivered many video game adaptations to the big screen (including the Resident Evil franchise), and was also responsible for 2011's WTF?! Steampunk take on The Three Musketeers. Oh, and Event Horizon to be fair.


Kit (Jon Snow) Harington stars as Milo, a slave who must save his love, noble-born Cassia (Emily Browning) and gladiator best friend as the ash begins to fall in 79AD. Kiefer Suthe…

Fan fiction - Tomb Raider 2013 follow-up (Part 3)

Image
It is done. My first ever piece of fan fiction. And probably the first wholly complete piece of fiction that I have written as an adult. I'm pretty damn proud of that fact, and I'm not afraid to say that I'm happy with the finished result, which you can download in 3 parts here:
Can't Go Home: Part 1 - SuffocatedCan't Go Home: Part 2 - ShatteredCan't Go Home: Part 3 - Sacrifice Alternatively, read the entire Tomb Raider story online here at FanFiction.net.


Earlier blog posts on the writing/process of this fanfic right here and here.

Now with this personal project and challenge is out the way we can get back to a more normal blogging and comic-drawing schedule.

Movies out today: It's all about the big name buddy team-ups

Image
Three new movies hit South African cinemas today. Plus, on Sunday, you can catch instant 1996 classic Trainspotting again on the big screen for free at select Nu Metro theatres. If you haven't already done so, request your 2 tickets here.

Moving on though to the normal weekly release schedule...

The Heat:
Two of Hollywood's most popular funny ladies - Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy - team up for this female riff on the buddy cop formula. Bullock is the uptight, arrogant FBI agent forced to work with rough and ready Boston cop McCarthy in their attempt to capture a drug kingpin. From the director of Bridesmaids.

A commercial success, The Heat has actually also fared pretty well with critics. Evidently the plot is tired, and the film is way too long, but the material is elevated by the fantastic chemistry of the two comically gifted, fearless leads. 65% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.



Pain & Gain:
Directed by Michael Bay, this dark crime comedy is based…

The saddest ever movie moments

Image
For today's blog entry I am actually redirecting you to the latest feature I wrote for TheMovies.co.za: a Top 10 list of the saddest moments in cinema history (in no particular order).

There's admittedly a bias towards films of the past 30 years or so, but I'm sure you won't mind. The big question though is whether I forgot some of the blubfest biggies. Read the post below and let me know...

Top List Thursday - Top Ten Saddest Moments in Movies

Trailer Tuesday - Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Image
It must be the End Times because, yup, I'm actually profiling, and am keen for, a Jackass movie. Then again, this isn't your typical Jackass movie. Breaking from the "dumb boy-men attempt dumb dangerous stunts" formula, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpaseems to have more in common with the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and Bruno, in that it mixes a fictional comedic narrative and hidden camera interactions with the unsuspecting public.


Again, I'm not the biggest fan of candid camera pranks normally, but when they involve more than slapstick shenanigans and attempts to frighten people - i.e. they show up the absurd preconceptions, prejudices and practices of our society - they can be downright hilarious. And that's certainly true for the beauty pageant sequence in the above trailer.

For the record, in Bad Grandpa Johnny Knoxville dons heavy make-up to return as his "old man behaving badly" persona from the MTV series - 86 year old Irving Zisman…

Good news, everyone... more Tomb Raider on the way in multiple formats

Image
I hope you read that headline with your best Professor Farnsworth voice... Because it's definitely good news.

Despite initial reports that franchise reboot Tomb Raider 2013 hadn't met sales expectations - 3.4 million retail copies sold in a month was actually "a disappointment" for publisher Square Enix - work is still rather unsurprisingly underway on a sequel for next-gen consoles.


And although the first game's chief scripter Rhianna Pratchett has diverted questions on Twitter about her possible sequel involvement with the usual "I'm not allowed to comment on that" and, more recently, "Watch this space"  comments, I'd still put money on her being back for Round 2 of Lara Croft: The Novice Years. Expect that announcement in the not too distant future. And expect a new Tomb Raider game in, I dunno, First or Second Quarter 2015?

Regardless, here's hoping:
Lara Croft is more of a "lone wolf" solo adventurer in the sequel.Th…

New movies out today: demons, gangsters, aspiring hairdressers and eco-terrorists

Image
It's a something-for-everyone weekend at South African cinemas, with today's new releases straddling a wide assortment of genres.

Evil Dead:
Horror movie remakes and reboots are a dime-a-dozen. This latest revisits Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's career-launching cult classic, but is actually produced by the two men. A group of friends - played by largely unknowns - head to a cabin in the woods and accidentally summon a demonic presence. Trailer Tuesday profile.

At TheMovies.co.za you can read three reviews of Evil Dead 2013: mine, James's and Lourens's (well, kinda). In short, we were all pretty impressed by this brutal, respectful and well-acted remake. Avoid it though if you're put off by dumb character decisions, or like the more cartoonish Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness - this one is dead serious. Internationally, some critics have also missed the humour and fright factor, but generally found Evil Dead a satisfying gorefest. 62% Fresh on review aggregato…

Midweek Movie Review: Evil Dead

Image
I have a confession to make… and this may require that I turn in my “film geek” badge. I don’t like Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead trilogy.

I’m just not a fan of cartoonish slapstick in my horror films, which is pretty much the defining feature, along with Bruce Campbell’s just-go-with-it performance, that made the old series a cult hit. I have also never seen the original Evil Dead, simply Evil Dead II – essentially a more expensive remake of its predecessor – and Army of Darkness, so I’m approaching this new movie (produced by Raimi and Campbell, for the record) without any of the ardent passion, and scepticism, of franchise fans.


As an outsider, all I was looking for in Evil Dead 2013 was a well-made, emotionally-effective horror movie. And in that regard this reboot-sorta-sequel delivers. It is not however what it is being marketed as – “The most terrifying film you will ever experience.” It is, however, definitely one of the most brutal, forcing its cast to repeatedly commit gra…

Trailer Tuesday: Planes

Image
I've spoken about it before, but I'm not a petrolhead. I'll watch the occasional episode of Top Gear, but have avoided The Fast and the Furious since the second series installment, and I have zip interest in racing. I'm just not a motor enthusiast. But planes... They're my thrill ticket. They trump cars; leave them in the dust literally (well, most of the time).

So although I probably shouldn't be, I'm actually pretty excited for Planes, an animated spin-off of Disney-Pixar's highly profitable Cars franchise.


I actually liked the original anthropomorphic Cars, even though I avoided the sequel. At the same time, I have no delusion that Planes isn't just an attempt by Disney to cash in on Cars. Hell, the signs are all there, such as the fact that the new film was originally planned as a direct-to-video release made by the same animation division that handles all of Disney's B-grade, straight-to-DVD sequels. In other words, please be aware that Pl…

Have a Wonder Woman Monday

Image
A few months ago I posted this fan-made Wonder Woman trailer, which reveals just how badass a film centred on the world's first - and still greatest - female superhero could be.

Sadly though, we still seem to be very far away from seeing that happen. Especially since plans for a Wonder Woman TV series in the Smallville mould have just been shelved... while a show centred on The Flash is being fast-tracked thanks to the popularity of Arrow.

*Sigh*

What is even more disheartening is that fan video First Impressions, embedded above, provides an excellent case for a non-costumed young Wonder Woman series. It works brilliantly! Enjoy... and then bemoan the sexist stupidity of Hollywood decision-makers.

Movies out today: magicians, morons and mad spinsters

Image
It's a long weekend in South Africa, with the National Women's Day public holiday tomorrow. As a result, the week's new movies are all releasing today, Thursday. Here's what you catch in local cinemas now.

Now You See Me:
Clearly attempting to be this year's Christopher Nolan-style, brain-straining thriller, Now You See Me centres on four illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco) who seem to pull off the ultimate bank heist "by magic" - committing a robbery in Paris while performing a show in Las Vegas. With Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman trying to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Although it sounds great on paper, and certainly looks slick in trailers, Now You See Me likes to pretend that it is more clever than it really is. That's according to Kervyn in his review at TheMovies.co.za, at least. Internationally, critics have agreed. A terrific cast and premise can't make up for an undeveloped execut…

Midweek Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Image
At this time of year, cinemas worldwide are inundated with CGI-heavy blockbusters with budgets in the $150 – 200 million bracket. Time and time again, these films are crammed with visual spectacle, but repeatedly they’re soulless. You feel nothing and receive no nourishment even as you guzzle the eye candy.


Certainly at first glance, Pacific Rim, the new sci-fi actioner from director Guillermo Del Toro, seems to fit this category. Its scope is as huge as its price tag, and its special effects are dazzling. Unusually though, Pacific Rim is the first blockbuster in ages to actually be satisfying. Pay attention, Michael Bay – this is what Transformers should have been like, thrilling audiences of all ages, turning up the coolness dial, and still remembering to squeeze in some comic relief without resorting to goofiness that clearly only has 11 year old boys in mind.

Don’t get me wrong. Pacific Rim is still very flawed, particularly in terms of its weak characterisation and predictable …

Trailer Tuesday: Saving Mr Banks

Image
It's the tale you've all been waiting for... That world-famous true story about the making of classic 1964 family flick Mary Poppins. What? You don't know what happened...?!

Actually, you know what? Neither do I.

That's why new biopic Saving Mr Banks certainly has the surprise factor on its side. The drama tells the little known story detailing the behind-the-scenes' struggle to adapt Australian author PL Travers' beloved children's book for the big screen. Most of these headaches stemmed from the fact that curmudgeonly, uncompromising Travers (played here by Emma Thompson) was resistant to giving the film rights to Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks). Disney had just two weeks - during a visit to California by Travers - to win her over. And that meant forcing the author to relive her harsh childhood.


Granted movies about making movies have never really had much appeal for the film-going public, but Saving Mr Banks may change that. Certainly there is massive…

Monday Movie Review: Monsters University

Image
The problem with movie prequels is that most of the time they feel unnecessary and forced – with events contorted to set up the relationships and major plot points of the original film. At the same time, your typical prequel will attempt to follow the same unsaid rules as your average movie sequel, sticking to the established formula that audiences responded to while upping the stakes in all departments.


The interesting thing with Monsters University – the first ever prequel from animation giants Pixar – is that while it’s not a backstory screaming to be told, it is nonetheless an excellent example of how to do an origin story right. Monsters University doesn’t attempt to mimic Monsters, Inc. It tells its own original story far removed from the corporate deceptions so central to the 2001 film. Monsters University is in essence a standalone story, simply featuring the same loveable lead characters – and voice actors – involved in the earlier release.

Plotwise, Monsters University can …

Movies out today: Giant robots, aliens and Afrikaners

Image
Four new movies open in South Africa today, and the question is whether locals will continue to flock to tried and tested sequel faves like Despicable Me 2 and The Wolverine, or become enamored with the geek-bait that is my movie pick of the week. And that is...

Pacific Rim:
Screening in 2D and converted 3D is this sci-fi actioner from Guillermo Del Toro. Paying homage to Japanese cinema's kaiju and mecha genres, Pacific Rim sees Mankind turning to giant human-piloted robots to battle monstrous creatures that rise out of an inter-dimensional portal in the Pacific Ocean. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi.

You can read Lourens's Pacific Rim review over at TheMovies.co.za, and while he loved it more than I did - I still have to write my full review - we both highly recommend it. The script is predictable and characters undeveloped, but despite these flaws, Pacific Rim is still hands down the most satisfying of the midyear blockbusters. It's thrilling and fu…