Showing posts from April, 2014

Movies out today: Spidey, assassinations and young love

It's another long weekend in South Africa as of today, so there's extra time to hit your local cinema. There are also six new releases to choose from, although there's no question which of them will dominate at the local box office.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of  Electro:
Screening in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX is this sequel to the 2012 comic book reboot. In true blockbuster sequel form, everything is bigger, and the stakes have been upped all round. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) - AKA Spider-Man - has to face not one but three foes with ties to Oscorp, namely the supremely powerful Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). Meanwhile Peter has to juggle his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and delve into the mystery of his parents' disappearance.

Personally, I found the first Amazing Spider-Man all rather redundant - with the exception of Garfield's less irritating take on the superhero. So I'm not exactly desperate to se…

Tomb Raider comic #3 out today, and "Run, White Man, Run NOW! (AKA issue #2) reviewed

Out today is the third issue in Gail Simone and Nicolas Daniel Selma's new Tomb Raider comic series (which I have discussed in length here and here). And to whet your appetite, three pages from the book have been revealed online by Dark Horse Comics.

Please beware spoilers below.

For the record, you can read my review of Issue #1 here. As for #2, well, this bridge between the video game franchise reboot and its top secret sequel is certainly starting to feel more Tomb Raider-y. There's young archaeologist Lara Croft jetting across the globe, supernatural foes with a basis in mythology, and a sinister group whose power-hungry goals are clearly going to put them on a collision course with our heroine. Plus there's the additional complication of Lara's stress-triggered memory loss on Yamatai. Evidently she's more of a sticky-fingered tomb raider than she likes to believe. Oops.

Overall, I was very happy with this issue. I didn't buy an unconscious character's…

Trailer Tuesday: In the Blood

American couple vacations in a foreign land. Wife vanishes unexpectedly. Thwarted by unhelpful officials, husband must solve the mystery of her disappearance, which normally involves threatening, beatings and underworld dealings...

Yeah, we've seen this story unfold a dozen times on the big screen, typically in B-grade action thrillers. We see it again in In the Blood, except with a twist. A gender twist. This time it's the husband who goes missing and the wife who must find him. Good thing then she's played then by MMA star-turned-actress Gina Carano.

In In the Blood, newlyweds Ava and Derek (Cam Gigandet) are vacationing in the Caribbean. When Derek suffers a zipline accident and never arrives at the hospital, Ava suspects the involvement of a local crime lord (Danny Trejo) after a violent run-in at a nightclub the prior evening. She sets out for revenge, and increasingly finds this island paradise is anything but.

There are a lot of recognisable faces in the cast of t…

Movies out today: Demigods and devils

It's a four-day Easter long weekend in South Africa starting from tomorrow. As a result, all the new movie releases are hitting cinemas from today, and there are six of them - ranging from action-packed escapism to feel-good fare and horror.

The Legend of Hercules:
Screening in 2D and actually-shot-for-3D is this (supposedly) mythological fantasy adventure centred on Greek hero Hercules. Beefcake Kellan Lutz plays the demigod, who here must excel in the gladiator arena, lead a rebellion and accept his divine heritage if he is to marry his true love and defeat his tyrannical stepfather (Scott Adkins). Renny Harlin directs. Trailer Tuesday profile.

The Legend of Hercules has been panned by critics for largely ignoring its mythological source material in favour of the utterly generic. It's indifferently executed, tedious and cheap-looking to boot. A dire 3% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

This "dirty cop" flick sounds B-grade in concept, but ha…

Trailer Tuesday: Hercules

Last week I pretty much laid into the laughably cheap and nasty-looking The Legend of Hercules, the first of two 2014 films centred on the mightiest of all heroes in Ancient Greek mythology.

Today we look at the second of the Hercules big screen releases: the simply titled Hercules - also formerly known as Hercules: The Thracian Wars.

Now the above trailer is only a teaser so it's probably not the best idea to draw major conclusions from it. However, my immediate reaction was conflicted.

On the one hand, visually Hercules looks great and there's no shortage of mythological beasties (oh hey, Hydra, Nemean Lion, Erymanthian Boar and Cerberus) - as opposed to The Legend of Hercules, which seemed to strip basically all fantasy from proceedings. As an added plus, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson really looks the part of the grizzled, veteran warrior who has grown increasingly disinterested in heroics over time.

On the other hand, I quite enjoyed the Radical comic book miniserie…

Monday micro reviews: Don Jon and Her

Playing catch-up today with two movies I watched but didn’t review at their time of cinema release.

Don Jon:
I suppose you could call writer-director-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon a late onset coming of age tale. The film centres on self-absorbed twentysomething Jon Martello, whose existence revolves around his apartment, working out, clubbing and porn. The last thing there is the most important, narratively, because despite the fact Jon beds plenty of women, none of them provide the thrill that porn does. And when he lands hard-to-get dream girl Scarlett Johansson, he’s given an ultimatum: lose the porn or lose her.

The high sexual content of Don Jon is likely to upset the more conservative viewer, but if you can get past that, this comedy drama offers a perceptive take on the extent to which fantasy – porn for men, and glossy romantic comedies for women – has bolstered dissatisfaction within real-life relationships. For the most part, it’s sharp, smart and refreshingly gr…

Movies out today: Airplane action, Amazon adventures and All is Lost

This weekend South Africans can catch a free TCM screening of Do the Right Thing as well as a decidedly old all-star concert flick 12.12.12., in addition to five other flicks that cover a wide spectrum of genres.

Your 2014 release in the unofficial "Liam Neeson as an unwilling but badass action hero" series is this thriller about an alcoholic air marshall who has to get to the bottom of a deadly threat on a flight between New York and London. Julianne Moore and Michelle (Downton Abbey) Dockery also star.

According to Kervyn in his TheMovies review, you could do a lot worse than Non-Stop. It falls apart in its third act, and wastes its supporting cast (Neeson is great as always), but it's still a load of suspenseful fun. 59% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Rio 2:
Screening in 2D and 3D is this sequel to the colourful 2011 hit. This time rare macaw Blu, his brood, and their buddies head off into the Amazon jungle to reconnect with their roots. Ret…

Trailer Tuesday: The Legend of Hercules

First things first, let's make this clear: The Legend of Hercules is not to be confused with this upcoming The Rock starrer, also centred on the mightiest hero of Ancient Greek mythology.

The Legend of Hercules stars Kellan Lutz, who is probably best known for playing brainless beefcake vampire Emmet Cullen in The Twilight Saga. Lutz has sadly never demonstrated a shred of acting ability nor charisma, and his work as Hercules appears to be no different (I mean, look at his dumb jock facial expression, LOOK AT IT!)

Ugh, I'll give credit to The Legend of Hercules for the fact that it was actually shot for 3D, as opposed to being a post-production conversion. The movie makes a visual impact in this regard and I was certainly dazzled by the format's use when I saw the trailer on the big screen. However, it is the only positive about this action fantasy romance. Directed by Renny Harlin  - my, how the mighty have fallen - this film is a prime case of "No; just no, No, NO!…

My LEGO Movie

Seeing as The LEGO Movie is out (reminds me I really need to write my full review!), I thought I'd share this blast from my personal past. For the longest time I dreamed of becoming an animator. So, sometime between 2001 and 2003, during one of those gloriously long university vacation periods, I made my own stop-motion LEGO mini-movie, using my favourite childhood LEGO set.

Anyway, I know it doesn't quite compare to this classic LEGO short, but here is my effort regardless. Enjoy!

New movies out today: Six different survival and sci-fi thrillers

It's a pretty emotionally dour week at the movies. There are no cutesy kiddie films or comedies in sight; just drama, desperation to escape and heroes questioning the rightness of the status quo.

The most high profile of this week's releases is this "inspired by" take on the famous Old Testament Bible story. A man (Russell Crowe) receives visions from God that the world will be destroyed with the exception of himself and his family. As a result he follows Divine instruction to build a monstrous ark, even as his actions bring him into conflict with the local community. Screening in 2D, converted 3D and 3D IMAX, and also starring Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

The latest from writer-director Darren Aronofsky since Black Swan, Noah is apparently very flawed but also very powerful. It's ambitious, visually stunning and packed with ideas, but it's also likely to alienate a lot of people with …

Four Corners film review

We’re living in a particularly rich period for South African cinema. Essentially every second week a locally-made film hits the big screen. And even though they typically can be put into three categories: crime tales, stories of self-reflection with a Karoo backdrop, or light-hearted Afrikaans romcoms, the diversity and ambition of these productions is ever growing.

That’s certainly the impression you receive from Four Corners, South Africa’s official submission in the Best Foreign Language Category of this year’s Academy Awards (it didn't make the shortcut). This gangland drama is far from perfect – narratively, it lays on the tropes way too thickly – but it is technically polished and benefits from an overarching sense of unaffected realism.

Despite being marketed as the tale of Ricardo (first-timer Jezriel Skei), a young chess prodigy under pressure to join a Cape Flats gang, Four Corners is actually a lot more complicated than that. The film consists of four intersecting stor…

Midweek Movie Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (3D)

Back in 2011 I was excited for the release of Captain America: The First Avenger. Superhero flicks had started to get a bit samey, and the chance to see comic book action with a setting that wasn’t present day America was thrilling. This said, despite a backdrop of the World War II European Theatre, the film didn’t do anything for me. I found it all as bland as the title character, good guy and obedient super soldier Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).

However, make Rogers a man dislocated from his time, and things become a lot more interesting. Although this aspect of the character wasn’t really explored in The Avengers, I began to appreciate the character of Cap a lot more in that movie; the necessary stability and strategy he brings to a squad of heroes with their clashing contemporary mindsets and typically massive egos. Still, I wasn’t quite sure if Captain America – like the Hulk – was still a bit too one-note to sustain a solo series of cinematic adventures. The character may always b…