Showing posts from June, 2014

Movies out today: big robots, life-altering decisions and costume drama

Three new films hit South African cinemas today, although it's clear that two won't be threatening the third in terms of box office earnings.

Transformers: Age of Extinction:
Screening in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX is this fourth entry in, and pseudo-reboot of, the big screen series centred on the Transformers toy line and offshoot media. Set four years after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction sees the remaining Transformers hunted to near extinction. Autobot leader Optimus Prime and his surviving friends align with a single father (Mark Wahlberg) and his family against a Transformer bounty hunter, brutal CIA unit and an overly ambitious technology firm CEO (Stanley Tucci) who may have bitten off more than he can chew. Oh, yeah, and there are Dinobots this time too.

Once again directed by Michael Bay, Transformers: Age of Extinction looks to be more of the overblown blockbuster same - despite evidently going for a less goofy approach now that Shia LaBeouf&#…

Time and time again: X-Men - Days of Future Past and Edge of Tomorrow micro reviews

I love a good time travel movie, but typically they tend to be more obscure productions on the periphery of the mainstream given their complexity and brain-straining ambition. So I was particularly surprised when TWO of this year’s biggest American Summer blockbusters – one of them already a massive superhero project – chose time travel (or control) as their central concept.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Essentially bridging X-Men 1-3 and prequel story X-Men: First Class, each with large casts of their own, you don’t get much more complex (at least on paper) than this Marvel comic adaptation, based on the Days of Future Past storyline. With mutants facing extinction in the near future, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has his consciousness sent back to his body in the 1970s in order to prevent events that will ultimately trigger the genocide. This involves reuniting a disillusioned young Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

Those unfamiliar with the X-Men cinematic univer…

Tomb Raider #5 out today

Happy New Comic Wednesday. This is your friendly service announcement reminding you that Tomb Raider #5 is out today (preview 5 pages here), the penultimate issue in first story arc from writer Gail Simone and artist Nicolas Daniel Selma. For the record, Rhianna Pratchett joins Simone for co-writing duties from issue #7, and the series gets a new penciller, Derlis Santacruz, from issue #8.

Speaking of art, today's new issue certainly features the most striking of the new comic covers so far, drawn by the 2013 game reboot's art director Brian Horton. I certainly wouldn't mind a copy if the original work was released as a print. It's stunning.

Anyway in Tomb Raider #5, fledgling archaeologist Lara Croft is back on the legendary island of Yamatai to continue her sorry-not-sorry killing spree as she attempts to save her best friend, Sam - "the person [she] loves most in the world" - for the... third time now?

I must confess at this point I am a tad concerned abou…

New movies out today: big name sequels and smaller art house fare

Four new movies release in South Africa today, and it's a combination of big name sequels and lesser known art house fare.

How to Train Your Dragon 2:
Screening in 2D and 3D is this fantasy adventure for the whole family, from DreamWorks Animation. Set several years after the events of the first film - and loosely based on Cressida Cowell's book series - the viking villagers of Berk and their dragon allies face a new threat from further abroad. The voice cast includes returning Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill, with newcomers Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou and Kit Harington. Trailer Tuesday profile.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is apparently much more than a typical sequel rehash of the original. It offers breathtaking visuals along with being darker, deeper and more emotionally satisfying than its predecessor. It may be a tad too overstuffed for some, although Nick at TheMovies calls it a must-watch masterpiece. 93% Fresh on review aggregator site Rot…

Maleficent 3D reviewed

I think it’s safe to say that Disney is really intent on dismantling the “true love’s first kiss” convention so central to the studio’s success for decades. Frozen, Brave and, now, Maleficent have all recently kicked Prince Charming to the curb and instead prioritised the bond between women as being far more powerfully healing.

It’s a refreshing change, and it helps to make Maleficent one of the strongest fairy tale movies released to date. This is not to say that Maleficent is perfect. Far from it. However, the film benefits from its interesting gender-positive message about female friendship, and a tight narrative focus that is unusual for this kind of big budget genre fare.

In essence, Maleficent reinterprets Disney’s 1959 animated classic, except this time it does so from the perspective of the movie’s iconic villain – the horned, grudge-holding fairy Maleficent. Angelina Jolie plays Maleficent in live-action form, and we learn exactly why this powerful magic caster – originally …

Movies out today: We're off to the Edge of Tomorrow

Just three new films open in South African cinemas for the long weekend. Between them they offer a combination of sci-fi action, bittersweet star-crossed romance and tonally lightweight, but star-heavy, fare for the older set.

Edge of Tomorrow:
Blockbuster fanatics will find their needs fulfilled by this Japanese novel adaptation, screening in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX. Tom Cruise is a rather useless soldier forced into a front line battle with aliens that have invaded Western Europe in the not so distant future. The thing is, he finds himself in a Groundhog Day-style time loop, fighting (and dying) in the same battle repeatedly. This makes him a better fighter, and his unique ability is recognised by Emily Blunt's badass female commander, who has experienced something similar herself. Together, they may finally be able to save humanity.

As usual with a Tom Cruise flick these days, it can be difficult to get an objective opinion of the movie, given how often critics like to jab at the sta…

Rise of the Tomb Raider - get set for another satisfying empowerment fantasy

We knew it was in development, but on Monday at E3, the first trailer for the next-gen Tomb Raider (2013) sequel was unveiled.

Presenting Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is due for release - for now - around the Christmas holidays 2015.

"I think we’re making progress in these sessions. You say the flashbacks have stopped. This is excellent improvement, but I’m concerned that you’re still shutting yourself away at home. It’s important to gradually take steps into the outside world. Take some walks, maybe pick up a nice hobby. A girl your age should be exploring knew horizons. I’d like to know you’re taking care of yourself. For many people these traumas become a mental trap. They get stuck like a ship frozen in ice. There’s another type of person. Do you know what happens to them, Miss Croft?"

"We become who we’re meant to be." ---

Almost immediately after watching the trailer, some online commentators complained that showing aristocratic daredevil archaeologist Lara C…

Movies out today: disgruntled fairies, ghosts and counterculture pioneers

Just four new movies hit South African screens today, although it's pretty easy to guess who the box office winner of the bunch will be.

Screening in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX is this fantasy adventure from Walt Disney Pictures, clearly trying to recapture the success of their other recent live-action fairy tale reimaginings, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Alice in Wonderland. Maleficent relooks Disney's 1959 animated classic from the perspective of its striking villain, bad fairy Maleficent. She's played by Angelina Jolie, with Elle Fanning as narcoleptic princess Aurora, Sharlto Copley as the king and Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple as two of the good fairies charged with raising Aurora. Trailer Tuesday profile.

Is Maleficent the fairy tale adaptation to tug the sub-genre out of pretty-looking mediocrity? Critics are... torn. Some like Nick in his review at have praised the film as ideal entertainment for the whole family, with an electric performanc…

Trailer Tuesday - Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Mostly I'm profiling this trailer today as an excuse to post the below "controversial" poster, rejected just last week for being too racy by the self-regulating MPAA. Heh. I do loves me some Eva Green in full blown femme fatale mode.

Green is, out of interest, playing the title character in this sequel to the hit 2005 comic series adaptation - once again co-scripted and directed by Robert Rodriguez alongside the books' creator, Frank Miller.

Shot for 3D, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, like its predecessor, a collection of crime noir tales set in highly corrupt, sordid and violent Basin City. Whereas the original film predominantly adapted Miller's The Big Fat Kill, That Yellow Bastard and The Hard Goodbye,  A Dame to Kill For is based on its namesake book, the Just Another Saturday Night one-shot (yay, more of Mickey Rourke's Marv!) and two new tales of ego, revenge and love in this bleak, typically Miller setting.

Along with Rourke, returning faces in the…