Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review


Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Elisabeth Olsen, Karen Gillan, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Pom Klementieff, Sebastian Stan, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Chadwick Boseman - and many, many more.

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

With a cast list as long as the page count of War and Peace, and capping a decade of Marvel films, it apparently has all led to this.

After numerous teases, various hints and gradual reveals, the Avengers, still ruptured after Civil War factions and broken by various continual conflicts, now face their greatest threat - Thanos (Josh Brolin).

A despot of intergalactic infamy, and emerging from the cosmic shadows, Thanos is collecting six Infinity Stones, aka the McGuffins of the franchise which have been glimpsed before.

With the Avengers and their various allies determined to stop Thanos and his army waging war on reality, it looks like this is the battle to end all battles - the fate of Earth, the Avengers collective and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

After countless build ups and the growing feeling that the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise has become stale with comedy elements undercutting any sense of drama, there's a real feeling that Avengers: Infinity War has to draw a line in the sand, and lay down some stakes for all involved.
Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

For a large part, Avengers: Infinity War walks the tightrope of uncertainty for all the characters you've come to love (thanks to repeated over-exposure over the past decade) and imbues proceedings with an occasional sense of dread for some.

However, the writing keeps a lot of it emotionally grounded with themes of sacrifice and human selfishness and fallibility mingling and bubbling away throughout thanks to some briefly engaging interactions.

But it has to be said, that doesn't stop Avengers: Infinity War from becoming, at times, Avengers: Infinity Bore - nor does it feel like some of the inherent emotional heft falls flat.

With its straight-into-the-action-and-peril proceedings picking directly up from the end of Thor: Ragnarok and the Asgardian survivors facing off a ship from Thanos, the film decides to simply settle a lot of proceedings on the punch-fight-exposition-fight-exposition-fight method.

It's well executed as it bounces around the globe and into space, but there's definitely an over-riding feeling of weariness as the relentless CGI action kicks and smashes its way through (and certainly, a couple of scenes creak under the weight of being generated and rendered).
Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

It tries to fights the curse of quite obvious writing in parts with lots of patently obvious signposting (all of which are too spoilery to discuss) and doesn't quite succeed at times, and there's definitely a feeling of set-up throughout.

As a sense of spectacle, Avengers: Infinity Wardoes deliver what the rabid Marvel fanboys want - a team up of epic proportions and scale and the Russo brothers deliver it mostly with considerable aplomb. Handling the unwieldly character roster with ease, most of the cast get a moment or some time in the spotlight (albeit with brevity and largely through a fight scene or two - and certainly Hulk's reunion with Black Widow is a massive disappointment), and it's a relative reward for the decade of set-up.

The Guardians provide the obligatory (and occasionally annoying) laughs as usual after entering to Rubberband Man, but teeter dangerously close to ripping the stakes' foundations from under proceedings with their flippancy. And disappointingly, Wakanda's involvement feels piecemeal, rote and written to provide a Phantom Menace fight redux sequence in the final act.
Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

However, it's Brolin's motion capture Thanos who impresses most in Avengers: Infinity War.
Built up as a major threat in the preceding films, Thanos is a relatively complex and solid villain with the emotional depth and degrees of tragedy which give weight and heft to proceedings and parts of his motive. This is the villain the Marvel Cinematic Universe has needed and the threat that comes from him is as tangible as it is terrifying.

There is a feeling though throughout Avengers: Infinity War that death should have come knocking a bit more and certainly for some of the bigger names within the ensemble to truly hit the emotional mark, and while the oddly audacious but curiously emotion-free downbeat ending is to be lauded, it does reek of the usual tropes of the genre - ie fantasy deaths never really tend to stick, and slightly feels like a quick "this can be done over" in the next film - and certainly, there is a distinct lack of feeling permeating the screen.

Epic in popcorn entertainment and scale, but disappointingly limited in parts of its narrative, the at-times soapy and occasionally narratively uneven Avengers: Infinity War may feel like Marvel's trying to clear the table in lieu of the next phase, and setting up for the next one. (Though the time to be daring and dispatch with the post-credits sequence has been squandered with this one).

It possibly could have done with easing up a little here and there, and giving space to breathe, however, in terms of rewarding the fans of the franchise, Avengers: Infinity War certainly ups the game, even if it still doesn't really take the bold chances and daring gambles it could have easily afforded to after a decade and 18 films.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Florida Project: DVD Review

The Florida Project: DVD Review


Film-maker Sean Baker has always found the camaraderie in verite.
The Florida Project: Film Review

Whether it's the friendship between Dree Hemingway's 21 year old and elderly Sadie in Starlet or the bond between those screeching on the street in Tangerine, the reality of friendships, along with their ebbs and flows, have been central to his catalogue.

Expanding that out for The Florida Project, Baker widens his view to the residents of a crummy motel run by Willem Dafoe's patient and paternal Bobby.

The purple motel sits near Orlando's Disney World, its hint of promise and dreams so close by - a place where the rich and families go to fulfill their dreams and inhabit an escapist world of fantasy.

But for the residents of said purple pastel motel escapism is also on their minds - but their form of escapism is to hope for an end to a desperate scrabble for money and to ensure their motel rent is paid.

The Florida Project: Film Review

It's into this world that Baker thrusts us - but from the viewpoint of a clutch of rambunctious kids who hurtle around the motel and its nearby tourist haunts with varying degrees of boredom.

Whether it's conning those visiting the local vendors for ice cream money (because they claim, they have asthma and the doctor's ordered it) or playing in the motel and turning off the power, their lives are about the freedom of escapism, the pursuit of naivete, unaware of the cruelties of the world around them.

Chief among these is Moonee (breakout star Brooklynn Prince, both vulnerable and brassy and up there with Beasts Of The Southern Wild's child actor Quvenzhané Wallis) whose mother Halley (Bria Vinaite, discovered on Instagram by Baker) is scaling the walls of desperation to feed her child and earn money.

While more a freewheeling tale than a specifically strong narrative story, The Florida Project's exploration of the socio-economic damage done in America is as compelling as it is depressingly vibrant.
The Florida Project: Film ReviewWith a young cast of unknown actors filling out the leads more than admirably thanks to their natural performances, the film's strength comes from its trajectory of uncertainty. There are moments you can see what's coming and much like most of Baker's work, there's a breaking point that pushes it all to the extreme.

There's an irony in the fact The Florida Project was the original name for Disney World and now the reality of the disparity of the wealth means motels like Bobby's are more like projects and slums - there's heartache to be had here.

Whether it's in a child being forced to leave with his dad and having to give away all his toys for space in the car, or the begging of Halley from a friend for the basics like food, the film's unflinching in its world view.

But here's the crux with The Florida Project - it's never, ever judgemental.

Baker has a way of imbuing both his characters and his situations with a sense of propriety. He swerves from judgement on actions, merely presenting the facts of any given situation and the potential devastation it could cause.

And while the ultimate ending doesn't exactly feel like it's being true to its subjects, shifting from reality to fantasy, there's a lot to love on the journey itself.

It's a crucial difference in this film-making - and while he's slowly becoming the deliverer of the less fortunate or the world less-oft glimpsed, he's also becoming their champion.

Thanks to restraint, heart and sensible heads on all, The Florida Project emerges as both a free-falling descent into reality and an ultimately inspiring and grounding eye-opener to all.

Win a copy of Coco

KEY TALENT
PIXAR ANIMATION
Voice talent:
Gael Garcia
Benjamin Bratt
Edward James Olmos
SYNOPSIS
Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Mi
guel dreams of becoming an
accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Despera
te to prove his talent, Miguel
finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead.
After meeting a charming
trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordi
nary journey to unlock
the real story behind Miguel's family history

Win a copy of Coco


To celebrate the release of Disney Pixar's Coco for home viewing, you can win a copy!
Coco
About Coco:

Starring Gabriel Gael Garcia,  Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos

Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz.

Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead.

After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.

To enter could not be easier!

KEY TALENT
PIXAR ANIMATION
Voice talent:
Gael Garcia
Benjamin Bratt
Edward James Olmos
SYNOPSIS
Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Mi
guel dreams of becoming an
accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Despera
te to prove his talent, Miguel
finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead.
After meeting a charming
trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordi
nary journey to unlock
the real story behind Miguel's family history
To win a copy, all you have to do is email  your details to this address: darrensworldofentertainment@gmail.com or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please label your entry COCO

Competition closes May 1st

Win a copy of Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle

Win a copy of Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle


Jumanji Welcome To The JungleTo celebrate the release of Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle, you can take a copy home!

About Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Rhys Darby

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game's jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose.

What they discover is that you don't just play Jumanji - you must survive it.


To win a copy, all you have to do is email  your details to this address: darrensworldofentertainment@gmail.com or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please label your entry JUMANJI

Competition closes May 1st

Monday, 23 April 2018

BurnOut Paradise Remastered: PS4 Review

BurnOut Paradise Remastered: PS4 Review


Platform: PS4
Developed by Criterion Games
Released by EA
BurnOut Paradise Remastered: PS4 Review
BurnOut Paradise Remastered: PS4 Review
Burnout Paradise Remastered is the kind of arcade game you find chewing through hours of your life.

The kind of retro game you may sneer at because its graphics are a little last generation, its ambitions anything but lofty and its gameplay so simple even a four year old could pick it up and run with it.

And yet, for all of these reasons and little else, it's damn near close to addictive as hell.

Recalling the simplistic nature of early Need For Speed games, Criterion's remaster is really only about one thing - pedal to the metal fun.

Dumped in the open world of Paradise City, where the grass is grey and the cars are retro pretty, you simply drive from one thing to the next.

BurnOut Paradise Remastered: PS4 Review
From races to stunt runs, takedowns to smash ups, Burnout Paradise Remastered wants little else but some quick fix driving.


Certain challenges see you take out other drivers within a time limit and have you hurtling through spaghetti junctions aimed at getting from one point to the next.

It's another iteration of Outrun et al; you unlock new cars then smash them off the roads to add to your collection.

The map is simple enough but its lack of being able to place markets irritates after a while and you have to know where you're going. And the lack of clear pointers over what to do can sometimes lead to aimlessly driving around the map, looking actively for what next.

Graphically the game looks retro and it plays like any arcade racer: with that hint of drift, that touch of underside and that button pressing of brakes- it's all a relatively slick combination that won't trouble the grey matter at all.

With a late 00s soundtrack and a bubblegum approach to being online or offline, Burnout Paradise Remastered wants you to play along, to forget and forego any flaws and to ensure that you're here for a good time, not a long time.

The open road welcomes you - and sometimes a blast from the past is all you need in a modern day world.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Last Flag Flying: Film Review

Last Flag Flying: Film Review


Cast: Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell
Director: Richard Linklater

Director Richard Linklater's latest sprawling work has hints of humanity and approaches tragedy in a slightly different manner.
Last Flag Flying: Film Review

But at times, the well-meaning falls into the ham-fisted as he leaves some of his desires feeling over-wrought.

It's 2003, and Steve Carell's moustachioed and muted former medic, Larry "Doc" Shepherd, enlists two of his former platoon, Sal (a nihilistic Bryan Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Fishburne, restrained) to help bury his son who has been killed in Iraq.

However, as the trio reunite, old tensions resurface, and struggles of the past threaten to overwhelm the emotional reason they've come together.

Steeped in melancholy, and overly long, Last Flag Flying has a lot of "actoring" going from its protagonists as they tread the occasionally predictable road-trip route.
Last Flag Flying Film Review

Sal treats everything with alcohol, leading to Cranston bringing the energy and the agony to the piece as his opposed-to-the-military character treads a familiar arc; Fishburne's now-turned-preacher Mueller seems to forego a lot of his beliefs as he reunites with his past, and Carell does little except mope throughout, weirdly imbuing his Doc with a sense of grief that's palpably delivered, even though hardly anything is said. Ultimately, their relationship seems to be one of the Sal's Devil and Mueller's Angel on Doc's shoulders, but it foregoes this conflict for more obvious routes, which disappoints.

In between the meandering diversions, Linklater overplays some of his hand as the roadtrip progresses.

Repeated hectoring of the fact it's 2003 and over-use of some of the anachronisms of the time (no internet, mobile phones first coming in) threaten to overwhelm the film and drown the bittersweet with a sense of catchphrases and irritations.

But in the more silent moments, when Linklater hints at the futility of the death of those in combat incidents that are not directly war-related and in the moments where the army's vehement denial of anything other than dogma is laid bare, Last Flag Flying has a heft that finds a different and satisfying way to tell an overly familiar tale.
Last Flag Flying: Film Review

Shaggy and free-wheeling it may be, and this may totally test your cinematic patience as the collective gulfs are dealt with, but somehow parts of Last Flag Flying commit to a veracity that's worthy of investment.

Its end feels rushed, and the emotional pay-off is not quite as strong as it should be, but the sombre tone gives Last Flag Flying a truth that's hard to deny and an under-cooked commitment to showing what war does these days. It's a subtle salute to the Armed Forces, but its predilection with tropes and familiarity can't help but swathe the lead trio's commitment to their characters with a sheen that's at times, stifling.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Win a God Of War prize pack

God Of War prize pack
Win a God Of War prize pack

To celebrate the return of Kratos, the wonderful team at PlayStation NZ is giving you the chance to score a limited edition God of War pack.

You can get yourself 1x promo game, 1x tshirt and 1x 7” Kratos figurine!

God of War is out exclusively now for PlayStation 4.

About God Of War

God Of War prize packIt is a new beginning for Kratos. 
Living as a man, outside the shadow of the gods, he seeks solitude in the unfamiliar lands of Norse mythology. 
With new purpose and his son Atreus at his side, Kratos must fight for survival as powerful forces threaten to disrupt the new life he has created.
  • A New Beginning — His vengeance against the gods of Olympus far behind him, Kratos now lives as a man in the lands of Norse Gods and monsters. It is in this harsh, unforgiving world that he must fight to survive… and teach his son to do the same
  • Second Chances — As mentor and protector to a son determined to earn his respect, Kratos is faced with an unexpected opportunity to master the rage that has long defined him. Questioning the dark lineage he’s passed on to his son, he hopes to make amends for the shortcomings of his past
  • Midgard and Beyond — Set within the untamed forests, mountains, and realms of Norse lore, God of War features a distinctly new setting with its own pantheon of creatures, monsters, and gods
  • Vicious, Physical Combat — With an intimate, over-the-shoulder free camera that brings the action closer than ever, combat in God of War is up close, frenetic, and unflinching. Kratos’ axe —powerful, magic and multi-faceted – is a brutal weapon as well as a versatile tool for exploration
To win a copy, all you have to do is email  your details to this address: darrensworldofentertainment@gmail.com or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please label your entry GOD

Competition closes May 1st