Saturday, 25 February 2017

Poi E: The Story of Our Song: DVD Review

Poi E: The Story of Our Song: DVD Review

There's no denying the electricity of Poi E: The Story of Our Song.

At its world premiere at the start of the New Zealand International Film Festival, the Civic Theatre audience was clearly in the mood to enjoy a slice of Kiwiana.

And to all intents and purposes, Tearepa Kahi's simultaneous salute to a generation growing up and to the eminence of Dalvanius Prime achieves what it sets out to with exuberance and insight.

But as a non-Kiwi not versed in the 1980s trappings of beige stubbies, A&P shows, BYC and long hot summers, perhaps some of its intricacies and significance didn't land as they should and it may not travel as well internationally.

That's not to decry what Kahi's done and the hard work that's been put into the making of the film.

It's a documentary blast of nostalgia that is extremely well-crafted with interviews from the original Patea Maori Club as well as various people offering insight like The Topp Twins, the members of the club, Taika Waititi and Stan Walker et al.

There's plenty of humour and vitality around as well in the simplicity of the interviewees from the heartland of New Zealand and Patea itself. It's fair to say the film's a celebration and does much to set the scene for the birth of the Poi E song and the growth of the club which to some degree appears to rise stronger when the local freezing works closes.

And in the centre of it all, is Dalvanius Prime, a chihuahua loving, larger than life visionary who clearly blazed a trail for Patea but who didn't come to it willingly at the start. Using archive interviews, current day footage and super 8 film stock, Kahi's crafting of Prime's story and the subsequent ripples his influence had on the music scene are vibrant and entertaining.

Audio interviews and a very first ever recording of the inception of Poi E give the film an intimate authenticity that adds both to its veracity and its cinematic vitality. Coupled with Kiwis being Kiwis on screen and the natural characters of the heartland coming through, the film's portrait builds nicely both of Prime, his influence and his legacy.

But a quick brush over Dalvanius' death seems to deny the man the full implications and explanation of his story for those non-versed with him or who didn't grow up here. Though one can understand the desire to keep this upbeat and there's no denying that 30 years on, the song's still New Zealand's legacy.

But in many ways, Poi E: The Story of Our Song is more than just a documentary piece about a song and cultural icon that's lasted over 30 years - indeed a footnote adds the club meets every Monday, and Auntie Bib says you just need to bring a plate. (An example of the disarming and charming moments infused within this film by Kahi)

There are hints of politics within and contempt for Maori and small town New Zealand that shine an unhealthy light on New Zealand in the nicest possible way, as they bubble away in the background. It's never Kahi's MO to keep this anything other than feel-good and all the audience projection and feeling of the time will come simply from the authentic way it's all been laid out.

It's hard not to feel anger when Prime's attempts to attend a Royal Gala at the Queen's behest are greeted with a resounding No from all quarters, leading him to mortgage his home. Likewise, the closing of the freezing works is presented as a harsh community reality but Kahi's at pains to show how the community (like so many around Aotearoa) rallied to the call.

Cheekily ending with a claim that many know the chorus but not the words before presenting the song's lyrics via animation and a montage of performances, Poi E: The Story of Our Song leaves with a joyous earworm in your heart and a smile on your face, even if you may be less versed in some of the more nostalgic moments.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Prey | New Video Released – ‘Mimic Madness’

Prey | New Video Released – ‘Mimic Madness’


We’ve just released a new gameplay video for Prey titled, ‘Mimic Madness’. In this video, see just a few ways you can use to use the Mimic’s power against the alien force that has taken over Talos I

When you awaken aboard the Talos I space station, you find yourself as the key subject of an experiment meant to alter humanity forever – but things have gone terribly wrong. Talos I has been overrun by an alien force, and you must stop the Typhon threat from destroying humanity. As Morgan Yu, and mankind’s last hope, fend off the alien infestation armed with the tools found on the station, your wits, weapons, and mind-bending abilities.

One of the first alien powers you’ll learn is Mimic Matter. Acquired from the diminutive (and aptly named) Mimic Typhon, this power allows you to take the form of just about any appropriately sized object aboard Talos I. You’ll start small – a coffee mug, a teapot, a lamp, a banana – but as you level up this ability, you’ll soon be able to mimic more complex objects, including an impressive array of security turrets and Operator robots. 

Set to launch worldwide on Friday, May 5, 2017 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, Prey is the highly-anticipated first-person sci-fi action game from Arkane Studios - creators of the award-winning Dishonored series which includes the 2012 'Game of the Year' and the critically-acclaimed follow-up, Dishonored 2

Sniper Elite 4: PS4 Review

Sniper Elite 4: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4
Released by GDE, Developed by Rebellion Games

Set in 1943, most of Sniper Elite 4 is fairly on target.

Essentially, mixing in Hitman's assassination and the MO of prior Sniper Elite Games, the latest iteration's quite the tense blast of gaming.

A third person tactical shooter, the game's MO is very simple in its campaign front. You're dropped into a map area, have a list of objectives to achieve and need to survive being found and taken out.
Set in Italy, the game follows a familiar route to anyone who's ever been involved in war gaming - fight your way out and do what's necessary to survive.

But equally on a par with this, are the stealth elements of the game.

There's nothing to beat the well planned execution of your target (much like Hitman) and putting this into the war elements of Sniper Elite 4 adds a lot. That said, there's still plenty to revel in when you're discovered and have to fight your way out.

And perhaps in this way, Sniper Elite is more a shooting game, than a tactical and literal reading of its title.

While emptying your lung steadies your gun as you look down the sights at your intended Nazi victim, the steadying thrill of the bullet being fired in its direction and hitting is quite the burst of adrenaline.

However, there are moments when the X Ray execution of your targets feels a little queasy and almost gun pornographic, given how well put together they are.

As the slow mo bullet leaves the chamber and heads on its way, the bullet time elements of the camera and the game work really well. Sound plays a big part in these recreations as well, as the bullet makes sickening noises as it slices through its victim. Equally, as you use the environment around your targets to dispose of them (explosives being detonated, missiles being fired at, trucks exploding), there's a distinct feeling there are many inventive ways to off people.
But perhaps a little once too often, the game revels in its X Ray vision, and ultimately, there are times when it feels like it needs to be turned off (which it can).

Progression and medals are all there for the taking as well, but the game's core ideas about sniping are more down to the user's preference of playing.
Stealth can be used but equally running amok when discovered also works. Though it makes scouring the bodies for bounty a trifle harder as troops swarm around you like flies, searching for you and gradually pin-pointing your last location.

Meanwhile, Sniper Elite's multiplayer is an exercise in patience.

Certainly games where you have to take out the opposition, any move is deadly and any shot can signal your downfall.

Over different maps and scattered through different locations, it's a waiting game to see who'll be chicken first as you take out the opposition.
There's no slow-mo style execution scenes here, but there's plenty of tension and a degree of jubiliation getting it right and taking someone down.

Servers seem to hold up well with the game and certainly the few sessions that were jumped into, there were no issues either from the trash talking or the simply playing the game. Occasionally, the game spawned near where being ignominiously killed, signalling to your rivals where you were, but for the most part, Sniper Elite's online world is certainly worth diving into.

For now, Sniper Elite 4 feels like a fairly disposable, undeniably thrilling and fun shooter - that just happens to have a sniper weapon as an option to achieve your aims.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fist Fight: Film Review

Fist Fight: Film Review

Cast: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan, Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Kumail Nanjiani
Director: Richie Keen
Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day

That it takes 75 minutes of the 90 minute comedy Fist Fight to elicit a belly laugh is a sad state of affairs.

And that its laugh comes courtesy of a rehash of Little Miss Sunshine's inappropriate talent show is to further damn this knuckle-head comedy that purports bare knuckle fighting is any way to solve conflict.

Dubious central message aside and ignoring the feeling that this is about serving Charlie Day's nice guy English teacher a lesson on standing up for yo'self to the bullies / empowerment, Fist Fight is also noteable for its return to the screen of 30 Rock alum Tracy Morgan after his 2014 accident.But even the return of this once comedy giant can't quell the depressing state of affairs that transpires when Day's down-trodden Andy Campbell gets Ice Cube's growling strict Strickland fired on the last day before schools out.

How does the intimidating Strickland respond? By challenging Campbell to a fight in the yard after school.

Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day

And we thought they were supposed to be teachers.

So far, so puerile for these bad teachers.

But as R rated comedies like The Hangover et al have demonstrated, big laughs can be garnered from smart deployment of crude gags, recognisable, and somehow,relatable characters and some semblance of plot - even the central idea is not a cerebral one.

Fist Fight cares not one bit for these rules and sticks doggedly to its MO of Day squawking and running from his plight.

The first rule of any comedy - be it derivative or otherwise - is to ensure there are laughs. Yet while there are three scriptwriters putting their names to this, the laughs are few and far between. 

Jillian Bell channels inappropriateness as a teacher hitting on students, Cube riffs on his street image and even gets to utter his infamous and inflammatory NWA line once again, and a returning Morgan gets to go off script occasionally (with an over-riding feel that improvisation was high on the list for this loosely written piece). And Mad Men's Christina Hendricks' French teacher is psychotic for no reason - a real waste of her talents. Though on reflection, most of the players in this are doing thankless work as this patchy mess of missed moments and occasional one-liners plays out.

However, even with Day's desperately wound, utterly neurotic and screeching Campbell rushing around, there's simply not enough humour to fill 30 minutes, let alone 90 minutes. 
Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day
Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day

Apparently despite paying homage to Three O'Clock High, the film's writers still don't feel the need to flesh it out more, or make any of the rest of the teachers sane enough to care about or connect with.

While the promised titular bout finally arrives, it delivers only muted moments of cinematic stupidity to counter the utter screeching that's already passed. 

And it's by this stage, that, quite frankly, either copious amounts of alcohol or a punch to the side of the head and KO would be preferable to any more of this "comedy" transpiring.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: Blu Ray Review

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: Blu Ray Review

Released by Universal Home Ent

Once again dialling down his mega-watt smile to get into the clothes of the cinematic equivalent of The Littlest HoboTom Cruise returns as Jack Reacher. 

(Much to the annoyance of many who still believe he has neither the height nor the gravitas to fill the boots of their beloved Lee Child hero).

This time around, in the adaptation of the eighteenth book in the Reacher series from way back in 2003, Reacher's plunged deep into a major conspiracy when he tries to help out Army major Susan Turner (Avengers star Cobie Smulders) in charge of Reacher's old investigative unit.

Accused of treason, Turner's in the firing line and Reacher, out of a sense of duty and obligation from when the Major helped him with cases as he drifted from one to the next, busts her out of jail. But the pair soon find themselves on the run with the need to clear both their names.

However, Reacher's not only on the run from shadowy forces, but also having to face up to the fact he could be a father with news a former squeeze's filed a paternity claim with the army....

Rote, formulaic and flat, despite some occasional tautness of execution, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is as predictable a chase conspiracy movie as ever you'd expect.

A sinewy Cruise may do the action thing reasonably well, but Jack Reacher: Never Go Back never really starts firing at all as its pulpy and dull perfunctory execution plays out. It's part in fact due to its source material and the lumpen and leaden necessary exposition that needs to be dumped to keep things moving along; but with much of the main plot feeling relatively underdeveloped, it feels more like padding as we race from one action sequence to the next.

Saddling Reacher with a conundrum of is it or is it not his kid while Cruise flexes his jawbones and grits his teeth in a demonstration of his intensity doesn't cut it either.

Cobie Smulders doesn't fare well either - going from hard ass action gal to cuckold within the space of moments as the potential love interest is teased out into this nuclear family. It's intensely irritating as the surrogate dad and ultimate bonding storyline plays out - with the kid looking like a young Anna Paquin more and more as the film goes on. And it's barely worth mentioning that there's a distinct lack of chemistry between Smulders and Cruise when it really needs to count.

Missing this time around is a Werner Herzog style baddie to inject some oomph into proceedings - and while Prison Break's Robert Knepper once again rolls out his southern drawl with a side of menace, he's hardly in the film and barely registers - this Reacher is not about the conspiracy and is more about the idea of a drifter being saddled with a family (complete with gloopily sentimental ending) and flounders as a result.

This is a story where convenient things happen because the narrative conveniently demands them and demands nothing from its audience to join the dots.

Ultimately, utterly disposable and instantly forgettable, this formulaic blockbuster lacks the killer thrills and the smarter plot to propel it along with the energy it needs; in fact, Never Go Backproves to be a prophetic title for this Reacher outing. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Win a double pass to see RINGS

Win a double pass to see RINGS

Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan and Vincent D’Onofrio

A new chapter in the beloved RING horror franchise.

A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it.

She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before…

Rings hits cinemas February 23rd Rated M: Violence & Horror

We're giving away double passes to the movie - To enter simply email RINGS to this address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please ensure you include your name and address - competition closes February 24th 

Win Hell or High Water

Win Hell or High Water

After years of estrangement, Texan brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) decide to rob the branches of the bank threatening to foreclose on their family land. 
For them, the hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that was stolen from under them. 
Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves on the radar of Marcus (Jeff Bridges), a Ranger looking for one last grand pursuit on the eve of his retirement, and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham). 
As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their scheme, and with the Rangers on their heels, a murderous showdown looms.
From the writer of Sicario, HELL OR HIGH WATER is a gripping action-thriller about family, crime and justice.
We're giving away a copy of this movie thanks to Madman Home Entertainment - 

To enter simply email HELL to this address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please ensure you include your name and address - competition closes February 24th