Showing posts from November, 2013

Movies out today: It's all about the lekker local flavour

It's predominantly about South Africa at local cinemas today, with 2 of the week's 3 new releases centred on the Rainbow Nation, past and present.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom:
It's been several years in the making, but finally Nelson Mandela's epic 630-page tome of an autobiography is making the leap to the big screen with this 2-and-a-half hour biopic. "Could he be any cooler?" Idris Elba plays the iconic activist turned South African president, while Naomie Harris is wife Winnie Mandela.

Evidently you won't find an exploration of life in Apartheid Era South Africa in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. That's according to Nick's review at The Movies. What you will find though in this flawed, heavy-handed biopic are magnificent, Oscar-worthy performances, particularly by Elba. Currently 70% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Schuks! Your Country Needs You:
What would the December holidays be without another Leon Schuster comedy? This t…

The Bling Ring reviewed

Lurking beneath the surface of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring is a razor-sharp black comedy about the impact of celebrity culture on today’s teenagers. The way partying, owning exorbitant amounts of expensive things and narcissistic celebration of self have become major life goals. Consequences, the need for hard work; these things don’t register at all in the minds of The Bling Ring’s vapid “heroes” – privileged young hedonists who list Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan as their role models.

To be fair, once in a while – particularly in the film’s final act – The Bling Ring highlights these points to laugh-out loud effect. However, the film is disappointingly short on chuckle-worthy wit. Just as with Kids almost twenty years ago, the audience is simply along for the very debauched ride. Which is fine. To a point.

It’s just unfortunate that at times The Bling Ring feels like it’s 40% teenagers taking selfies, 40% shots of extravagant celebrity wardrobes, and then 20% everything else. Th…

Trailer Tuesday: Noah

Brace yourself for controversy of a Biblical scale. Because opening early next year is this "timeless" take on the Noah's Ark tale, called, rather unsurprisingly Noah.

In a role that is not so different from his work as Jor-El in Man of Steel, Russell Crowe is a good man who receives visions from God that the world is going to be destroyed. No one will believe Noah that a catastrophic flood is coming to rid the world of sinners, least of all vindictive local ruler and rival Ray Winstone. Still, Noah and his family - including wife Jennifer Connelly, sons Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth, plus adopted daughter Emma Watson - commence the task of building a giant, tar-slapped ark to survive the impending Flood. Anthony Hopkins also appears in the film as Noah's geriatric grandfather Methuselah.

Acclaimed writer-director Darren Aronofsky is the man at the helm of Noah, and given that this is the same filmmaker responsible for Requiem for a DreamBlack Swan and, especiall…

Movies out today: May the odds of watching something good be in your favour

Well, of the week's five new releases it's really obvious who the box office champion is going to be...

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:

Screening solely in 2D (hooray!) and 2D IMAX, is this sci-fi actioner sequel. Based on the bestselling novel, Catching Fire continues the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman who finds herself the unwilling symbol of rebellion in a Dystopian future. Not only must she fight for her life in an all-new special anniversary Hunger Games, but she has loved ones and love interests Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth to keep out of harm's way. Phillip Seymour HoffmanSam ClaflinJena Malone, Jeffrey Wright  and Amanda Plummer join returnees like Woody Harrelson,Elizabeth Banks,Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz.Trailer Tuesday profile.

Kervyn's review over at pretty much sums up my response to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It's an incredibly faithful, consistently engaging adaptat…

Midweek Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (3D IMAX)

SuperherosequelThor: The Dark World is definitely worth experiencing on the big screen. This said the film is consistently entertaining but far from exceptional. In going grander in scale, it has lost some of its predecessor’s charming idiosyncrasies; replacing them instead with destruction on par with that in The Avengers. There is a lot that is pleasing about Thor 2; a lot that works; but a week after watching it’s difficult to recall it in any detail. And that ultimately isn’t a good sign in terms of its longevity or rewatchability.

In terms of The Dark World’s plot, the future of the Nine Realms – including Earth and Asgard – is at stake as they all align for the first time in centuries, and ancient Dark Elf foe, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) comes out of stasis to plunge all the worlds into primal darkness. Asgardian prince Thor (Chris Hemsworth) commits to combating this threat, and that means forming an alliance with his treacherous adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).


Trailer Tuesday: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Now sure, the trailer is more a teaser than anything else - i.e. it doesn't outline the sequel's plot - but man, our first look at How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a thing of beauty. Exhilarating and tender at the same time, it concentrates solely on the bond that has only strengthened between viking-turned-dragon rider Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his winged ally, Toothless - an exceptionally rare breed of dragon known as a Night Fury.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 will of course be screening in 3D along with 2D, and the family fantasy adventures is intended as the middle part of a trilogy. It is loosely based on Cressida Cowell's book series for children.

Set five years after the events of the first film, the alliance between the villagers of Berk and the dragons has altered the lives of both species. Dragon riding is the island's new favourite contact sport, and flight has exposed the vikings to far-flung new worlds. But this exposure also has potentially awful c…

Fanfic fun for Monday: Two more Tomb Raider chapters

Just a quick update this Monday...

Over the past week two more chapters have been added to my latest Tomb Raider fan fiction tale, Easier to Run, which is set five years after the events of the 2013 video game.

In this time, archaeologist Lara Croft has become more like the fearless, fast-quipping adventurer that gamers remember from the character's earlier depiction. That's the way the world sees Lara at least. Deep down, she's miserable. And she's about to face the source of that unhappiness all over again.

Movies out today: Surviving Somali pirates, ghosts and sticky-fingered teens

Four new films hit South African cinemas today and it's a fairly appealing lot all around. Let's kick off with the Pick of the Week, shall we?

Captain Phillips:
Sure to be earning Tom Hanks yet another Oscar nomination in the coming months is this real-life survival thriller. Hanks plays merchant ship captain Richard Phillips, who, in 2009, attempted to resist hijacking of his vessel by Somali pirates. Paul (Bourne Supremacy, United 93) Greengrass directs. Trailer Tuesday profile.

Kervyn at The has sky-high praise for Captain Phillips. Evidently it's one of those rare "complete package" movie experiences - intense, intelligent, expertly shot and exceptionally well-acted. Internationally, critics have agreed. The film has earned an aggregated review score of 94% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Insidious: Chapter 2:
Fresh from the success of The Conjuring, director James Wan brings us the inevitable sequel to his 2011 sleeper smash hit. Starring Patrick Wilson

Optimise your IMAX experience

In June 2010, the last IMAX cinema closed in South Africa due to a lack of profitability and interest from then licensed local investors Old Mutual. Well, after a 3 year absence, Ster Kinekor has just brought IMAX back to the nation, with the opening of its first new cinema in Gateway, Durban this past Thursday.

More IMAX cinemas are coming to the country soon, with Johannesburg the next venue on the cards.

Currently Durbanites can catch Thor: The Dark World in 3D IMAX for R90 a ticket. After that, in quick succession, there's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2D on 22 November, Ender's Game 2D on 6 December and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 3D on 13 December.

Just three quick tips to really optimise your IMAX experience:

1) Make sure you sit in the middle rows of the cinema. Anything closer to the screen than 5 rows and you'll have a sore neck from constantly looking up at the action. Anything further away from the screen than Row J and you may as well be watching the…

Fun for Monday: Your Pop Culture Myers-Briggs Personality Type

I've always said that should I ever be in the position to interview or hire someone, I would totally make them do a Myers-Briggs Personality Type assessment so as to check their suitability for the position. Sure there are many people who dismiss them as being about as reliable as horoscopes, but I find the Myers-Briggs classifications incredibly accurate, insightful looks into an individual's personality. Not to mention, they're loads of fun.

Well, some bright/bored online folk have taken the 16 personality types from the Myers-Briggs system and applied them to some of the biggest pop culture properties of the past 30 years or so. The question is, who are you? Personally, as a "Mastermind" INTJ, I seem to be lumped with the Big Bads, evil geniuses and arrogant unlikeables a lot of the time, as the following classification choices reveal.

To share in the fun, get started by finding your personality type. To do that, take this short Yes-No online test.

By Geek i…

Movies out today: It's Thorsday Friday

Only three new movies hit South African cinemas today, clearly giving the following pick of the week space to flex its box office muscles.

Thor: The Dark World:
Screening in 2D, converted 3D - and opening as the country's first ever 3D IMAX movie at Durban's Gateway cinema complex - is this Marvel superhero sequel. This time, Asgardian hero Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must contend with a threat that predates Creation and poses a risk to all Nine Realms. This forces him into an uneasy alliance with his trickster adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Christopher Eccleston is the Dark Elf Big Bad while returning cast members include Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings and Rene Russo.Trailer Tuesday profile.

According to Kervyn at, Thor: The Dark World is flawed fun, helped by its healthy sense of humour but hindered by its pacing. Internationally the film is currently sitting with an aggregated review score o…

Movie Review: The Family

The Family is definitely one of the oddest films released this year. Not that the dark action comedy is too arty and aloof for its own good. It’s just that by the time the credits roll, the overwhelming sense generated by the movie is one of pointlessness. The Family is way too long, the eventual pay-off is too abrupt and for huge portions of the film you feel very uncomfortable laughing at the very brutal, very graphic antics of its central characters.

The overarching problem is that The Family seems to be, on the whole, too “realistic” for its own good. The Fifth Element certainly proved that writer-producer-director Luc Besson can do cartoonish when he wants. In The Family though, when a good dollop of over-the-top would have been welcome, things are kept grounded for the most part – and this complicates audience feelings.

You see it’s hard to root for the “heroes” when the retribution they dish out for being treated disrespectfully far exceeds the scale of the slight they received…

Trailer Tuesday: X-Men - Days of Future Past

If you thought Christopher Nolan's sprawling Batman trilogy and Joss Whedon's assembling of The Avengers were daunting cinematic challenges, wait until you see X-Men: Days of Future Past. If you can describe this sci-fi actioner with just one word, it has to be "Ambitious!"

Because seriously, if director Bryan Singer pulls this off, X-Men: Days of Future Past will be the most complex superhero film ever made, given its massive cast and time travelling plot... Because you know as soon as time travel is involved, logic migraines kick in.

Anyway, X-Men: Days of Future Past is loosely based on one of the most iconic of story arcs in X-Men comics history. In essence, the future is a dark war-torn place, with mutants hunted to extinction by deadly robots called Sentinels. The US government granted permission for the Sentinels to be made as a result of a high profile assassination of a political leader (let's assume in the movie's case it's President Richard Ni…

Fanfic fun for Monday: Tomb Raider sequel

Well, it's happened far sooner than I thought it would. I've started work on a sequel to my original - and first ever - piece of fanfic, the Tomb Raider-inspired tale Can't Go Home.

The sequel story is set five years after the events on Yamatai, with British archaeologist Lara Croft now a much more established adventurer- confident, snarky, and considerably closer to the original pre-reboot iteration of the character.

Except, Lara's emotionally aloof public persona is a mask. Secretly she's miserable, having spend the past half decade running from the most painful decision of her life. Fate, though, seems determined to make her face the past...

You can read the story as it unfolds here:
Easier to Run

Movies out today: It's a week for families behaving badly

Six films open in South Africa today, with two of the week's biggest releases centred on dysfunctional, destructive families.

The Family:
Luc Besson directs this dark action comedy about a New York mobster (Robert De Niro) who finds himself living in the French countryside due to his latest Witness Protection Programme placement. Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron and John D'Leo are his wife and kids. Tommy Lee Jones is the FBI agent who has to keep this disgruntled criminal family out of trouble. Trailer Tuesday profile.

The Family is buoyed by its excellent cast, but is apparently a strange and disjointed movie experience on the whole. If you enjoyed the likes of Kick-Ass and RED though, there may be something in this R-rated flick for you. 33% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa:
The Jackass gang go the Borat route with this comedy that mixes a loose plot with an assortment of stunts and pranks unleashed on the unsuspecting public. In th…