Showing posts from May, 2014

Movies out today: AI, cowboys, railway men and good Christian girls

It's a bit of a quieter week at the movies with just four new releases hitting cinemas in addition to local Marikana-centred documentary Miners Shot Down.

This sci-fi drama is the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cinematographer - and frequent Christopher Nolan collaborator - Wally Pfister. Johnny Depp plays a controversial artificial intelligence researcher who finds his consciousness separated from his body and implemented into one of his powerful sentient systems. Also with Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman and Paul Bettany.

Transcendence may look like a Nolan flick, complete with many of his frequent on-screen collaborators, but evidently it doesn't quite cut it as cerebrally-gratifying fare. It looks great but never gets a good grip on its themes. The end result is "cyber nonsense" that's a chore to watch. 19% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

A Million Ways to Die in the West:
This follow-up comedy from T…

Tomb Raider #4 out today & other comic series news

The fourth issue in the new Tomb Raider comic series from Dark Horse is out today. Buy it right now from their digital store, or app.

Written by Gail Simone and pencilled by Nicolas Daniel Selma, Issue #4 continues the adventures of video game heroine Lara Croft - who underwent reboot treatment in 2013. The new comic, like last year's game, depicts archaeologist Lara as a recent university graduate, a bookish 21 year old who comes to embrace her inner badass on the path to becoming a daredevil, pistol-packing adventurer.

Personally, I think the new take on the character should be known as Lara "Sorry not sorry" Croft...

Anyway, here's a five-page preview of Issue #4 to whet your appetite. It sees Lara making the trek from London back to the accursed island of Yamatai. In the process she gets to stick multiple men with sharp things, and rock a pretty awesome top while doing so.

The cover artwork for Tomb Raider Issue 5 (out on 25 June) and story arc-concluding Issue…

Movies out today: Lots of Mutants and lady leads

Five new movies release today. Four of those five, unusually, have female leads. The fifth, however, will be the hands-down box office winner of the weekend.

X-Men: Days of Future Past:
Back in 2000, Bryan Singer's X-Men ushered in the new Golden Age of superhero films. Fourteen years later, Singer brings us arguably the most ambitious comic book adaptation ever made (perhaps even more so than Watchmen). Adapting the famous X-Men time travel story arc, Days of Future Past essentially bridges the original X-Men trilogy, the Wolverine spin-offs and, most importantly, 2011's X-Men: First Class.

The gang's all back in Days of Future Past. With mutants near extinction in an Apocalyptic future, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) must travel back in time to unite friends-turned-enemies, Xavier (young James McAvoy, old Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (young Michael Fassbender, old Ian McKellen) against their kind's greatest ever threat. The many many returnees and franchise newcomers incl…

Midweek movie review: Godzilla

If you plan on watching this year’s Godzilla, don’t for one second attempt to use your brain. The film provokes an endless series of “But why’s?” in regards to science, biological behaviour and character motivations. Godzilla is dumb, no question about it, but it’s also gratifying if you like this sort of thing. It doesn’t quite envelop you in the fun or thrill you with continual all-round escalation like “robots vs. monsters” Pacific Rim did last year, but this midyear blockbuster is pretty solid nonetheless in terms of offering giant beastie carnage.

If you are interested in the plot of this franchise reboot, here’s the rundown: Man’s dabbling with nuclear power since the 1940s has awoken monstrous creatures that eons previously burrowed down into the earth to feed off its radiation. Now they’re back on the surface of our world, causing chaos in iconic tourist destinations for the most part. The Navy (with David Strathairn as admiral) and scientists Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins,…

Trailer Tuesday: Lucy

Need a little more ass-kicking lady in your life? Then check out this trailer for Lucy, the latest from writer-director Luc Besson - he who has given the world such badass young women as La Femme Nikita, and The Fifth Element's Leeloo, not to mention such fan favourite action movies as Taken, The Transporter and The Professional. (His latest, The Family, not so much...)

Well, Besson remains on familiar crime actioner turf - but adds a superheroic/sci-fi spin - with this upcoming Scarlett Johansson starrer. In Lucy, the title character is unwillingly recruited in Taipei as a drug mule, only for the drug to leak in her body and unlock the full potential of her brain. It gives her such powers as instant knowledge absorption, telekinesis, immunity to pain and, evidently, the ability to alter her appearance at will. Also starring Morgan Freeman.

Disregard the eye-rolling stupidity of the premise. Lucy still looks like it's going to be stylish and gratifyingly violent revenge tal…

Movies out today: Monsters, maniacs and mad, bad men

Just three new releases hit South African cinemas today, and they're all of the escapist sort...

Screening in 2D, 3D, and 3D IMAX is this American reboot of the Godzilla film franchise. The King of Monsters pops up to deal with the life-threatening results of our scientific meddling. The pesky humans trying to avoid carnage, meanwhile, include Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen,Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and Bryan Cranston. Not your usual brawny, braindead cast for this kind of thing.

The new Godzilla is apparently far removed from that rubbish 1998 Roland Emmerich effort. It's a tad heavy on the uninteresting humans, and takes its time getting to the monster carnage, but it's massively (har!) gratifying nonetheless, returning the franchise to its roots. This is according to Kervyn in his TheMovies review. Internationally, critics have quibbled about some poor writing but appreciated the blockbuster's unusually measured approach and somb…

This graphic makes me sad

The following pic has been titled "Every Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from movies and TV" and it's a telling tale... even with some notable absences, like the brand spanking new Ben Affleck Batman from the upcoming Superman vs. Batman film, AND Adrianne Palicki's Diana in the unaired 2011 Wonder Woman TV pilot (watch it online here) - which I wrote about previously.

Wonder Woman just can't get a break.

I'm not sure of the source of this image, but I encountered it via @marlaerwin on Twitter.

Midweek micro reviews: Noah and Europa Report

Darren Aronofsky’s take on the Old Testament Noah story has an otherworldly feel about it, which makes sense given it’s based on Aranofsky’s own graphic novel with sci-fi leanings. Noah is particularly reminiscent of the post Civilisation scenes in last year’s Cloud Atlas, with, tonally, some Apocalypto thrown in.

Anyway, for those who don’t know the tale, good man Noah (Russell Crowe) receives a vision from God that the rest of blood-thirsty humanity is to be destroyed in a flood. However, Noah and his family (including Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman) have been chosen to live through the disaster, and are tasked with ensuring the survival of all living creatures by building a giant ark.

Noah actually feels like two films. Pre-flood, Noah is all unthinking blockbuster action and visual dazzle (plus pointless 3D). Post-flood, the pace slows to a crawl but the film becomes thematically a lot more dense, and draws on the substantial acting skills of its cast. The en…

Movies out today: Arm yourself for military action and urban justice

Five new movies open today, although it seems to be a bit of a low-key week before the next big midyear blockbusters - with superheroes and spandex - reach our screen.

Lone Survivor:
From director Peter Berg comes this big screen adaptation of the non-fiction book and real-life military operation. Four Navy SEALS (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster) on a reconnaissance and surveillance mission during the 2007 Afghan War are surrounded, injured, and must find safety of they're to survive.

Lone Survivor has been critically acclaimed as well as commercially popular. It's evidently a tad light on characterisation, and heavy on the patriotism but otherwise it's gripping, grueling and very, very visceral (squeamish peeps beware). A tough but rewarding watch. Fans of Black Hawk Down should eat this one up. 75% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

A Haunted House 2:
Just like the horror movies it's spoofing, there's this gross-out comedy se…

Defending Sam Nishimura

Young documentary-maker Samantha Nishimura is for Tomb Raider fans a love-her-or-hate-her character. Appearing in the 2013 video game reboot, Sam is fledgling archaeologist Lara Croft’s long-term best friend, flatmate – and One True Pairing, if the shippers were to get their way.

In the game, Sam’s naiveté leads to her kidnapping by Solarii cult leader Mathias. Technically twice. The second time occurs when the twenty-two year old is just as trusting of expedition colleague, Dr James Whitman, and falls asleep under his “watchful eye.” (To be fair, Lara makes the exact same mistake the first time she meets Mathias).

During the game, Sam is successfully rescued twice by Lara (there’s a third botched attempt that almost kills them both). Sam also notably manages to shoot off a mounted machine gun in the direction of her friends while trying to prove her usefulness. And she tries to get sympathy from a battered, bleeding Lara by commenting how terrible she, herself, must look… unless she…