Saturday, 29 September 2012

Men in Black 3: DVD Review

Men in Black 3: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Entertainment

Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) return in the third outing of this series in which they’re dudes in black suits protecting the earth from the scum of the universe.

This time around, when angry baddie Boris The Animal (played as badass biker by our very own Jemaine Clement) busts out of the moon prison Agent K put him in years ago back in 1969, he’s only got revenge on his mind.

So, he decides, with a bit of techno trickery pokery to head back in time and erase K from time to ensure that he’s never caught in the first place…

But when K simply vanishes, (somehow) Will Smith’s wise talking J is the only one who remembers him and he also heads back to 1969 to ensure history’s not changed….

However, it’s not just Boris the Animal waiting for him, but a younger K, played by Josh Brolin.

Men In Black 3 comes a long time after the sequel (a decade on from 2002) and with it, a feeling that something really needed to be shaken up in the partnership between Smith and Jones.

Sadly, it appears, that magic ingredient was sidelining Tommy Lee Jones’ curmudgeonly emotionless K – and replacing him with a younger, livelier version played with utter brilliance by Josh Brolin who really does make you feel that he’s the younger version of the character thanks to a spot on impression.

It also means that Will Smith is prone to going back to his motor mouth wise talking sassy dude because at the start he’s a bit of a sad sack moping about as the partnership appears to flounder. He works well with Josh Brolin and by giving K a bit more life, the spark is revitalised between the duo.

Jemaine Clement is good as Boris; it’s a step away from his comedy acting. Though under layers and layers of prosthetics, he spends most of the movie glowering and fighting but to be honest, it’s a good solid performance in a relatively thankless role and really does show this Conchord has wings. Equally worthy of mention, is Rick Baker’s monster menagerie which is created for the start of the film – the creature work is stunningly good and realistic and it’s definitely missed from the middle of the film onwards.

A twist at the end of the film hints at a poignancy and resonance between J and K’s relationship and may be a nice pay off for fans of the genre.

But it’s not without its flaws – Emma Thompson and Alice Eve are woefully underused as Agent O, the head of the MIB agency and hardly have any major screen time, rendering any moments they’re in utterly pointless.

And I have to say, one of the biggest flaws of Men In Black 3 is that it’s not peppered with a lot of humour (ironic, given that the three main leads are the first three letters of JOKE) and it desperately needs some of that throughout.

All in all, Men in Black 3 isn’t a bad and unwatchable film, it’s a reasonable capper to the trilogy but if they’re to plough forward with this franchise, there really does need to be something more added. As a light, frothy piece of 90 minute entertainment, it just about makes it – but as a blockbuster promising action and comedy, it’s sadly left wanting.

Extras: Gag reel, making of, music video, games, VFX


The Sapphires: Movie Review

The Sapphires Movie Review

Cast: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica MauboyShari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell
Director: Wayne Blair

An unabashed utter crowd-pleaser, The Sapphires is one of heck of a roof-raising movie with soul aplenty.

It centres on four indigenous women (Gail, Julie, Kay and Cynthia) from an Aborigine mission, discovered by talent scout Dave Lovelace (a dishevelled but scene-stealing Chris O'Dowd) and who are moulded into the Aussie answer to the Supremes before scoring gigs entertaining the troops in Vietnam as the war rages there in 1969.

But Dave doesn't have an easy route, moulding these four wannabe singers; there are hints of problems between Gail and Kay which date back to the mission and have been lying dormant for years.

Sure, there are the cliches aplenty - the sassy fiery one, the sexy one, the naive one and the talented one make up the band, but thanks to a rousing soul soundtrack, The Sapphires rises above as the band comes together in Aussie under the tutelage of Dave and his very funny put downs.

Hints of tensions bubble under but unsurprisingly come to a head when the band hits Saigon and their naivety gives cause to many eye opening moments for the girls from the Aborigine mission.

While that may be predictable and the Saigon scenes play out in a somewhat sanitised way, (this film's never really about the politics of what's going on and things only come to an explosive end - unsurprisingly -when Dave and the sassy Sapphire Gail finally find a middle ground) The Sapphires is nothing short of a rollicking good time, with oneliners guaranteed to get the audience onside.

But it's Chris O'Dowd who really impresses here, building on his charming performance in Bridesmaids, he shows he's one of the best comedy actors around delivering lines with charisma, comic deftness and to killer effect.

Sure, the political is shoved to one side in favour of the superficial feel good, but when the feel good is so raucous and so rousing you can't help but get swept along in this tale of a family coming back together again and discovering their voices.

They shimmy through the slightly dodgy bits of storytelling with such ease that it's pointless to quibble with the energy, warmth and overall positive vibe of this feel-good, occasionally cheesy piece.

The Sapphires is occasionally less than polished, but it's never anything less than a great time at the movies.


Friday, 28 September 2012

Prometheus details revealed

Prometheus details revealed

With the launch of Prometheus to the small screen in a couple of weeks, we've been promised some answers from Ridley Scott's epic scifi action film which released earlier this year.

There will be more than 7 hours of bonus content - including an alternate opening and ending to the film...

Here are all the details from Universal themselves.

"Upon anticipation from the highly active fan community, renowned director Ridley Scott’s gripping sci-fi thriller makes its debut on Blu-ray™ 3D Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital Copy from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment*.

Only on Blu-ray™, unlock secrets and get answers to questions left unanswered at the cinema. An unmatched home entertainment experience, with the Collector’s Edition view over six hours of never-before-seen bonus material and watch the blockbuster in the format it was meant to be viewed, in stunning 3D high-definition. The much-anticipated PROMETHEUS will be released in
New Zealand on October 17 2012. Fans can now pre-order with participating retailers online. 

Written by Damon Lindelof (“Lost”) and Jon Spaihts, PROMETHEUS features outstanding performances by Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron (Monster), Golden Globe® nominee Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds), Guy Pearce (Memento), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Logan Marshall-Green (Devil). 

Archeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) discover a star map that they interpret as an invitation from humanity's forerunners, the “Engineers.” Determined to find out more about them, the couple boards the scientific vesselPrometheus, created and funded by Peter Weyland (Pearce), CEO of Weyland Corporation. Lead by mission director Meredith Vickers (Theron) and monitored by Weyland’s android David (Fassbender), the team of explorers find a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth and embark on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe where they fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. 

The PROMETHEUS 4-Disc Collector’s Edition and 2-Disc Blu-ray™ features the original theatrical release and will be available at all leading retailers. Get the ultimate experience with the Collector’s Edition which features the revealing behind-the-scenes documentary “Furious Gods”, an Alternate Opening and Ending, Extended / Deleted Scenes, commentary by director and writers, the cutting edge Prometheus: Weyland Corp Archive Second Screen App and more! 
PROMETHEUS 4-Disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Special Features 
• Theatrical Cut 
• Commentary by Director/Producer Ridley Scott 
• Commentary by Writer Jon Spaihts and Writer/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof 
• The Peter Weyland Files 
• Deleted and Alternate Scenes that include an Alternate Opening / Ending 
• Prometheus: Weyland Corp Archive Second Screen App 
• The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus 
• Enhancement Pods 
• Weyland Corp Archives which includes Pre-Visualizations, Screen Tests and more 
· 3D Theatrical Cut of Movie 
· DVD and Digital Copy 

PROMETHEUS 2-Disc Blu-ray Special Features 
• Theatrical Cut 
• Commentary by Director/Producer Ridley Scott 
• Commentary by Writer Jon Spaihts and Writer/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof 
• The Peter Weyland Files 
• Deleted and Alternate Scenes that include an Alternate Opening / Ending 
• Prometheus: Weyland Corp Archive Second Screen App 
• + DVD and Digital Copy " 

Brand new Hobbit posters

Brand new Hobbit posters 

It's been a busy week for Peter Jackson.

What with the release of the brand new Hobbit trailer, there's new posters been released too to help promote the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

First up, there's one poster for The Hobbit with all of the dwarves on it.

And then there's the poster of Martin Freeman as Bilbo with Sting...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dark Shadows: DVD Review

Dark Shadows: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Entertainment

The original Dark Shadow was a soapy series which ran from 1966 to 1971 and was a gothic soap opera around the Collins family, whose head is a 200 year old vampire. Taking in werewolves, vampires, time travel, parallel worlds and ghosts, it was a curio back then.

And really, when you consider its pedigree, it should come as no surprise that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp should reteam for an eighth time to take it on.

The film begins in Liverpool in 1760 with the Collins family relocating to North America to make their name. With riches, they set up Collinsport and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) grows up abroad. But when he scorns the love of a witch, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) for another, he's cursed, turned into a vampire and buried for 200 years underground. 

Nearly 200 years later, Barnabas is accidentally awoken and returns to Collinsport to find the once great mansion in ruin, inhabited by relatives who don't care about the family name and finds the family fishing business is all but destroyed by competition from Angelique Bouchard's rival company.

So Collins sets about trying to recapture his former glory - as well as trying to win the heart of Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) who's the spitting image of Barnabas' first true love.

Dark Shadows is an odd curio; it's an absolutely natural fit for the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp partnership, bathed as it is in off kilter moments and Gothic sensibilities. From its darkly chilling opening, it screams Burton's work - from the overly brightened colours to the pale washed out landscapes, it's clearly a horror joint with a backdrop of family tragedy and quirky misfits.

And yet, it's lashed with so much campy comedy that it's never really one thing or the other.

It's once again Johnny Depp's performance which keeps this going; his culture shock comedy at being revived some 200 years later is a blast, referencing the best of the 1970s and also Nosferatu as he skulks around in the shadows as the music of the 70s blasts from the soundtrack.

All in all, while Dark Shadows is true to its roots and ends on the prospect of a sequel, it'll really need to get more of a definitive mix of campy comedy/ horror and Gothic for any future outings. It's not quite Addams Family sensibilities and humour either, but you can mark this one up as a slightly undercooked, overlong, curio and oddity which doesn't quite hit the mark.

Extras: Behind scenes piece


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Pirates Band of Misfits Blu Ray Review

The Pirates Band of Misfits Blu Ray Review

Vocal cast: Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Imelda Staunton
Director: Peter Lord

Hoist the mainsail, grab your cutlasses and hold onto your gizzards - cos there's pirates about.

In this latest from the stunningly brilliant Aardman Animation, Hugh Grant stars as the Pirate Captain, the leader of a band of relatively inept pirates, who sail the sea having adventures, but not really grabbing the glory and the spoils.

So, when the Pirate Captain decides this is the year he will take out the famed Pirate of the Year trophy to show the lads and the world he's not an idiot, he realises he has to step up his game.

Out on the plunder, Pirate Captain and the gang come across Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who tells them that parrot Polly which the Cap keeps on his shoulder is actually an extinct dodo. And that if the dodo's presented to the world's scientists, the Cap could get the fame and reward he deserves.

With that in mind, the gang head for the presentation - but will the Captain give up everything for the pursuit of fame?

An unabashed joy, The Pirates!Band of Misfits is an animated family pleasure from beginning to end, replete with a belly full of mirth and laugh out loud moments.

There's an inspired lunacy in the lushly painstakingly done stop animation from Aardman - which to be honest, you would totally expect from a project like this one. There are jokes packed within the frames of the film as it plays out making it something for the adults as well as the kids.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits is good fun, a reminder of how simpler can still be effective and appealing to audiences of all ages.

Extras: Commentary, games, behind the scenes


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Hotel Transylvania: Movie Review

Hotel Transylvania: Movie Review

Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, Fran Drescher
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

In the latest animated offering for school holidays, it's off to Transylvania we go with the director of the truly awesome Samurai Jack TV series and the star of Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler.

Sandler plays Count Drac, who runs the Hotel Transylvania, a refuge for all the monsters of the world to holiday away from the hunt-them-down-and-kill-them attitudes of the humans out there.

But it's not just the monsters which Drac's protecting - it's also his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) who's turning 118 and desperately wants to fly the nest.

On the eve of Mavis' 118th birthday, Drac's gathered a whole heap of his best friends - Frankenstein, Frankie's bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the werewolf family - to help throw a lavish party for Mavis.

However, when a carefree backpacker, Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) finds his way into the hotel, Drac finds his over-protective grip on life slipping and soon realises he could lose everything.

Hotel Transylvania is a case of great premise, weak story.

Sandler gives a hit and miss performance with an Romanian accent which is all over the place in this flick which has a frenetic pace to no doubt cover the fact there's a distinct lack of a really engaging story. In fact, if anything, the story is similar in places to Monsters, Inc, where a human accidentally ends up in the monsters' world and they try to return them.

While Tartakovsky has added a manic touch to the animation, it's done so at the expense of the other characters - Steve Buscemi is woefully wasted as Wolfman, as are the rest of the supporting cast, who are forced to the sidelines by Sandler and Samberg's double act.

That said, there are some great throwaway sight gags splattered throughout (and a spot on Twilight parody) but despite a touchingly Gothic flashback to how Drac met his wife, this tale of an overprotective dad who has to let his daughter find her way in the world, sadly offers nothing new to the animated genre. Even the 3D is relatively pointless throughout as well.

All in all, Hotel Transylvania is okay for a brief stopover during the school hols for the younger end of the audience, but to be honest, thanks to hardly any meat on the story's bones, you'd hardly consider coming back for another visit.


Pitch Perfect: Movie Review

Pitch Perfect: Movie Review

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Aubrey Camp, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin
Director: Jason Moore

It's off to the world of a capella singing we go for this latest female ensemble piece.

Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a newbie to college and a wannabe DJ who'd rather be spinning the tunes than singing them with a slew of other ladies.

Cajoled into joining the all girl group The Bellas, whose past was rocked by one of their number vomiting everywhere at the finals, she finds herself in battle with the Treble Makers, the reigning boy band champs.

But Beca's attitude towards the a cappella world and the desire to mix it up using more upto date music puts her on a collision course with those running the Bellas...

Let's get this out of the way - Pitch Perfect is no big screen version of Glee. And for that, we should all be grateful.

In fact, early on during auditions, Christopher Mintz-Plasse makes an awesome cameo telling the auditionees that this is no place to work out social issues, that's high school, clearly cocking a snook at the sing-along antics of Glee.

It's a fairly throw away film though, but one which is packed with heaps of energy and singing obviously and is guaranteed to be a great night out at the cinema.

Plus it has one major thing going for it - Rebel Wilson. She steals every single scene she is in, with great delivery of great one-liners and put downs. If anything, Pitch Perfect is the breakthrough role she's been looking for for her unique brand of sarcastic awkwardness and the writers have catered excellently to her.

Anna Kendrick remains her perky and likeable self throughout as well; but it's more of a film which caters for the women rather than the other way round - the males of the piece are strapped for screen time and slightly underwritten.

But when you have an ensemble of women, I'm not sure what the push is to have them going for a bit of gross out behaviour - call it the Bridesmaids effect if you will - but once again vomiting plays a big part in this musical mash up piece. Throw in Elizabeth Banks as an aca-judge with some truly funny zingers though and this is clearly the oestrogen generation which is being targeted.

The energy levels dip somewhat towards the end as we near the frantic finale as it concentrates on Beca's love story but overall, even if it is slightly overlong, Pitch Perfect is a fine piece of celluloid fun; it'll have you leaving the cinema giggling and with a song running through your head.

But, above all, Pitch Perfect will have you believing a comedy star in the form of Rebel Wilson is well and truly on the ascent.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Tokyo Jungle: PS3 Review

Tokyo Jungle: PS3 Review

Platform: PS3
Released by Sony Computer Entertainment

Never before has the phrase It's a Dog Eat Dog World been so spot on.

In this latest game, Tokyo has been devoid of humankind and the animals have gone feral, feeding on whatever they can to survive. No-one's got a clue what's happened to the men and women of the region, but as the story mode of the game plays out, clues are dropped in and out to start to build up an idea.

Tokyo is now a decaying region with various pockets of different animals roaming and picking whatever they can to eat and survive.

This is where you come in - initially, you start off as either a meat-eating Pomeranian dog or a herbivore Silka deer (bear with me) and scroll left and right through the terrain, finding what food you can, marking territory and eating and fighting your fellow predators/ creatures in a fight for survival.

Gradually, as you build up your rank, mark enough territory and complete enough missions, you get the chance to mate and breed another generation. That means your life span is extended by passing on your skills to your progeny and you get to roam around, build up packs and explore a very wide world.

Tokyo Jungle is an odd sort of a game to be honest. Survival is the aim of the game and you really have to learn whether to eat, run, fight or hide when necessary. It's a tactical survivalist game which, while not looking graphically stunning or originally presented, actually is fiendishly playable. (It's also not for the animal lover as well, so if you're a bit squeamish about the circle of life, it may be one to pass on).

With unlockable playable animals like chickens, deer, cats and a whole range of critters, it may seem a bit a bizarre to be playing as these creatures but as you start to understand the tactics of it all, the different selections make sense; herbivores are easier to build packs up for meaning that some of your group can be picked off while you survive. Likewise, with carnivores, packs can help you survive by getting them to act as decoys while you run for cover.

It's a peculiar concept and idea but it's actually so engrossing a game that you can lose hours playing; that said, it's not without a couple of flaws. A lack of being able to continue the game when it ends and having to start again is a little frustrating particularly when you have to repeat a lot of the same challenges you've already completed in a previous game during survival mode. Though there is an argument that perhaps by doing that, you rethink some of your original decisions and survive a bit longer.

Tokyo Jungle represents an intriguing level of stealth and fiendish simplicity but it is a game that may not appeal to all. If you're after an original idea, simply presented and with a depth that can suck hours of your life, then it's time to join the animals and see if you've got what it takes to survive.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Being Elmo: DVD Review

Being Elmo: DVD Review

Rating: G
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

Unknown to many outside the industry, this is the tale of Kevin Clash.

He may be an anonymous name to many; particularly those outside of puppeteering, but if I say the word, Elmo, to you, you'll know instantly what I am talking about.

Simply shot, using archive footage of Clash's early days, Being Elmo this joyous film will leave you smiling from the moment it begins to the very end. There's an infectious innocence to this tale which will leave you inspired by the man who dreamed of Muppets in his hometown of Baltimore and went on to create one of the most beloved characters of the fuzzy felt world.

Believe it or not, that wasn't just by chance.

There's the irony though of Clash losing time with his daughter growing up because of the demands of Elmo and the continual on the road commitments to the red furry loveable character.

Director Constance Marks has fashioned a simply marvellous tale which is undoubtedly feel good and will leave you with a really fuzzy glow.

It's an inspiration to some and just plain enjoyable to all.

Wholeheartedly recommended for all the family.

Extras: Q&A from Sundance, Thoughts from filmmakers, trailer, and performances from Macy's Thanksgiving Parade


Friday, 21 September 2012

Dredd 3D: Movie Review

Dredd 3D: Movie Review

Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Director: Pete Travis

In this radically gritty reboot of the iconic and long running Brit sci-fi comic book 2000AD series, our very own Karl Urban (a lifelong fan of Dredd himself) dons the helmet of Judge Dredd and heads out into Mega City One to dispense justice for Dredd 2012.

On a routine day out bringing law to the lawless, Dredd is called on to evaluate rookie judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to see if she's good enough to make the grade. Anderson's failed the aptitude tests but is one of the strongest psychics ever seen.

So, the duo is paired up and by Anderson's choice, take on a triple homicide inside the Peach Trees mega complex.

But when they get there, they find the 200 level block is under the control of cold hearted bitch Ma-Ma (Game of Thrones' Lena Headey) who immediately locks everything down and orders the judges executed.

As if that wasn't bad enough, a new drug called Slo-Mo (which makes the user feel like time's moving very, very slowly) is infiltrating Mega City One - can Dredd and Anderson make a difference - and more importantly, stay alive?

Firstly, a confession - I've been a life long fan of the Dredd comics and 2000AD as a whole. So it's probably fair to say that I had high hopes for this (given the debacle that was the Stallone version years ago) - and I can safely say, they've been met - and exceeded.

The main reason is Karl Urban. His screen Dredd is everything and more I'd have wanted for the gritty, urban and violent reboot. Urban's got Dredd down to a tee - from the stony faced chin and sneer to the gravelly, enforcer (almost Robocop-like) voice of Dredd. It's a perfect version of the law dispensing judge -and more than fans could have ever hoped for. Credit has to go to Urban, who owns the role from the get go and who knows the source material as well as having been there from the start - having seen this reboot, it's hard to now imagine anyone else as Dredd (and yes, I am talking about that version that should be erased). But Urban's also to be praised for bringing a bit of humanity to Dredd with humour; he clearly shows this is a Judge not to be messed with, but a bad ass with a way with an occasional quip.

Meanwhile, Olivia Thirlby is the perfect foil to Dredd - her Anderson is vulnerable, human and gives us the ideal way into Mega City One and the way of the Judges. Her character has hints of an arc (as much as you can in a film where two people shoot their way out of a building) and a backstory which would give some exploration in any future films. Lena Headey has little to do as MaMa except be a cold, evil sneering presence but she makes the most of her onscreen time and has the cruel veneer down to a tee.

Likewise director Travis and writer Alex Garland have done a great job of bringing a high octane, gritty feel to the film; with measured bursts of violence, and an opening sequence which establishes Dredd more than any pointless exposition ever could, it's certainly stylish despite the occasionally sparse level of the script.

Equally, the scenes where the 3D brings the film to life are the Slo-Mo drug taking sequences; thrilling, hypnotic, visceral and with heightened colours, they're definitely eye catching and probably one of the most original things you'll see on screen this year.

While Dredd certainly hits the right notes for the comic book fans (certainly, the fan pleasing nods within structures will give 2000AD fans a tingle of nerdy excitement), there are moments when some parts of the audience may feel a little left out or if they've seen The Raid or Die Hard, a sense of deja vu.

A lack of real strong plot is not a major distraction but becomes evident occasionally (and the rookie out with Dredd story is a familiar one from the comics), as does the over-use of zoom ins on Anderson's spider-sense like psychic abilities, which due to over-reliance loses its novelty.

At the end of the day though, this reboot deserves to be seen by many; sure, it's violent but it's slick, original and probably the closest thing to a live action comic book of Dredd you'll ever see. I hope it gets the mass market appeal it needs to ensure a sequel, because there's plenty of exciting potential here.

Thrilling, high octane, and visceral, Dredd 3D is anything but Dredd-ful. In fact, it's actually completely awesome.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Titanic 3D: Blu Ray Review

Titanic 3D: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Can there really be anyone who's not witnessed the film phenomenon that is Titanic?

It took mega billions (well, around 1.8 billion to be precise) at the global box office and made a star out of Leonardo di Caprio 15 years ago when it first set sail into the cinemas and our collective movie going hearts.

Now, with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, it was inevitable the story would get a re-release - and perhaps, no surprise, a 3D makeover.

So, here is the Titanic 3D Blu Ray for you to be part of it once again.

If you were one of the 12 people on the whole planet who didn't see this film, then you'll want to know the plot. (Such as it exists).

Di Caprio is Jack Dawson, a pauper who wins a ticket to the first ever sailing of the RMS Titanic; on board are Kate Winslet's Rose, a woman trapped in a loveless relationship with Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). When the pair's paths cross, it's love at first sight as Dawson offers Rose a chance to live and love again, and offers also, a chance of freedom from the repression of the tyranny of a society which has forced her to take up with Cal to return some honour to her family.

But in true star crossed lovers' way, the pair are forbidden to see each other; and this only serves to fuel their passion. Sadly, though, an iceberg is about to cool everything down - permanently.

What to say about Titanic that hasn't been said before and by so many - and to an audience which has already made this film such a massive commercial success the first time around?

Yes, it's still bum numbingly long at 190 minutes long and yes, there are still moments which appal (on both fronts) as well as moments which appeal.

First up, the 3D is the real reason for the re-release of this film; and to be honest, it's a little bit of a mixed bag.

Granted, Cameron's retooling of the flick and some 60 weeks of toil has rendered some scenes simply incredible - such as the horrifying moment when the ship splits in half.

Whereas this was tragic in its original incarnation, this latest tweak of it has captured the full breath taking horror of what the passengers faced; the depth which the 3D gives is nothing short of jaw dropping breathtaking appallingness. The scope and scale of the destruction and hopelessness of the reality is still emotionally stunning and really does prove to be the real reason for the disaster movie to work so well. Likewise, sweeping aerial shots and 3D sequences inside the Titanic give the rooms depth and the boat a scale of grandeur that was denied it during its 2D release - so for that, Cameron and his team deserve recognition and praise.

Not quite as successful perhaps are the shots around the rest of the drama - because the film wasn't made for 3D, the post conversion really does add little to the whole spectacle of what unfolds around; close range two shots don't quite work and occasionally jar as well.

Except to say that the added extra dimension can't add to the one dimensional corny dialogue and characters housed within the very big boat. 

Ultimately, though, I still can't fault the audacity and sheer spectacle of this love story in the middle of a disaster movie.

It's the extras which help this set to sing though - a 4 disc re-release is packed with a wealth of extras including 2 new documentaries and 6 hours of material - it's a great reason for the release, packing in alternate endings, looking at the FX, a final word with James Cameron. Great stuff to go deeper this time round.


Two Little Boys: Movie Review

Two Little Boys: Movie Review

Cast: Bret McKenzie, Hamish Blake, Maaka Pohatu
Director: Robert Sarkies

Adapted from Duncan Sarkies' 2008 book of the same name (which I will confess I've not read), Two Little Boys stars Bret McKenzie in his first cinematic lead role.

It's off to Invercargill in the early 1990s as this dark comedy centres on two very good mates, both mulleted and both looking distinctly bogan.

McKenzie plays Nige, who's been living with Blake's Deano in relative domestic bliss (but not like that) for some 15 years.

As it begins, Nige's doing some laps around the centre of Invercargill and inadvertently knocks down and kills a Norwegian tourist. Panicking, Nige throws the body into a hole, conveniently in the centre of the road and runs to his mate Deano for help.

But, after 15 years of friendship, Deano and Nige have had a falling out and Deano, the slightly psychotic bullying type isn't going to forgive Nige any time soon for leaving their home and shacking up with general nice guy and security guard Gav (Pohatu).

However, when Nige reveals what he's done, Deano's got no choice but to try and help his mate - and so begins a massive misadventure as the three of them (and a body) head down to the Catlins to dispose of the evidence.

Only Deano's got more than the disposing of one body on his mind...

Two Little Boys is an odd film - a twisted tale of bromance gone bitter; of friendship heading south, of finding your own confidence to stand on your own two feet and of how far you'd go for your mates.

It makes a good fist of the moody Southland coast and the Catlins themselves but does little to populate the tale with either comedy or dramatic weight to flesh it out. Sure, there are some good one-liners throughout
and some amusing sight gags (a panicking Nige tries to carry out CPR on the tourist despite his body being upside down) but all in all, this has such a mismatched mix of tones veering from dark, gruesome and attempting comedic that it doesn't come out smelling of, unfortunately, anything other than a bit of a mess.

McKenzie (when his Nige is not having a panic attack) does relatively well for his mulleted bogan but has little to work with; likewise Blake has a few darkly comic moments but is saddled with some pretty unfunny lines for a supposed comedy.

I think the problem with Two Little Boys is one of tone throughout; it has throwbacks to the bleak comedy of Predicament but doesn't have enough to really back it up with any dramatic meat or real character engagement.

Director Sarkies really comes alive with some brilliant touches towards the end (which had been deployed throughout would have sent this into offbeat watchable kookiness) but it's an incredibly long slog getting to that point. While there are touches of the dark underbelly of New Zealand being exposed, Two Little Boys is an uneasy and occasionally queasy mish-mash which feels like an opportunity much squandered.


Brand new Hobbit trailer is here

Brand new Hobbit trailer is here

This week is Tolkein week and the celebration of the writer's life, culminates with Bilbo and Frodo's birthday on 22nd September.

But even more exciting than that is a brand new Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer which has dropped today.

And there could be more stuff on the way this week - speaking on his Facebook page, Sir Peter Jackson's revealed it will be an interesting week with some behind the scenes content available as well as a brand new trailer for the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Dredd Q+A with Karl Urban

Dredd Q&A with Karl Urban

Judge Dredd is a comics icon. The original strip started off over 35 years ago and was created by icons Carlos Ezquerra and John Wagner.
Kiwi Karl Urban has now taken on the mantle of the famous character, Dredd in a brand new film hitting cinemas from October 4th.
Karl was generous enough with his time to answer the following questions about his current role, what inspired him to take it and how he feels to get the official nod from the lawman's creator, John Wagner.
Dredd 3D opens October 4th in New Zealand. And head back to this blog on September 21st for the Dredd 3D movie review..

The big question is – aside from the Stallone film – how much did you know about Dredd before taking the role?
My first introduction to Judge Dredd was as a teenager - a friend switched me on to the Quality Comics series which was being published in the early 90s. I really liked Dredd, stoic Lawman with a dry sense of humour. The comics provided a rich tapestry of morality tales set in a futuristic totalitarian society where the judges have stepped out of the court room and onto the streets.

What was it about taking on such an iconic British comics character that appealed to you?
I guess being a long term fan of Judge Dredd was a big factor in my decision to take the role, but also the fact that writer Alex Garland had delivered a really solid, action packed, character driven narrative.
As a long term Dredd fan, I felt pretty confident that the sum of the creative elements involved would ensure a real quality in its execution. Also, I was drawn to Dredd's brand of heroism.

Were you aware of the 30 plus year history of the character before you took it on? And if not, what kind of research did you do?
My research consisted of reading every Judge Dredd comic that I could lay my hands on. It was fun reconnecting with characters and stories that I had enjoyed as a teenager, but the real bonus was discovering  new material that was written after I had stopped buying the comic.
Stories like Tale of a Dead Man, through to Necropolis. Origins is a fantastic story about the birth of Dredd and his world. What I discovered was that a wonderful maturity had developed in the writing, the stories and characters attained a much greater depth.

Tell us a little more about this incarnation of the character – who is Dredd and what kind of man is he?
Dredd is the law personified. He's a walking judge, jury and executioner. His job is to protect the citizens of Mega City One and uphold the law. He's enigmatic, feared and respected, Dredd has no "superpowers", just an extraordinary skill set, a versatile gun and a cool bike. He is the type of man who walks towards a disaster when everyone else is running in the opposite direction. He is a laconic man of few words with a dry sense of humour.

What more can you tell us about the film's story?
Dredd is about a day in the life of Judge Dredd as he puts his rookie Anderson through her paces to see if she has got what it takes to become a full judge. The day takes a turn for the worse when Dredd and his rookie are trapped in a mega block by Ma-ma, leader of a brutal Mega City One gang. The assessment turns into a brutal fight for survival.

Fans of Dredd will be wanting to know if you are going to avoid the furore of the helmet issue – and keep it on at all times?
The helmet stays on the entire film - it wouldn’t be a true Dredd movie if I took it off!

What was the shoot like?
It was a tough shoot, even before the cameras started rolling, 13 weeks of intense gym work, a tough 2 week military style boot camp.
The uniform was basically a leather motorbike suit and body armour and we shot through the South African summer so at the end of a day, you'd have to peel the uniform off.
But, as uncomfortable as it could be, it was well worth it when we shot scenes like the bike chase. 
There are a few points in your career where you can’t believe that they're actually letting you do this. The Moscow car chase with Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy was one, and riding that bike in full Dredd mode through the streets of Cape Town was definitely another.

You’ve had the blessing of the character’s creator, how does that feel?
To have Mr Wagner’s blessing was a fantastic endorsement, and a testament to the hard work and attention to detail that everybody involved in bringing Dredd to the big screen. We all strived to achieve it.

Give us a secret from the filming on set – and tell us what you all got up to after filming finished on the day?
The virtue of a secret is that is that the contents of the secret remain secret!
After work finished, I'd hit my favourite restaurant, play poker with my driver and good friend through dinner, then head back to the apartment and look at the next days work. Pretty low key.

Rumour has it this may be the first of a series of Dredd movies – would you want to do more of them?
Sure, if this movie finds an audience at the box office, then I'd love the opportunity to continue the story. But, if Dredd is a stand alone film then I'm equally happy with that, it’s an instant cult classic.

How would you describe Dredd to the people who’ve never heard of it?
It’s the must see movie of 2012 - definitely a film that you need to take your friends to at least twice.

We’ll see you back on the screen in the next Star Trek film, what more can you tell us about that?
It’s going to be so epic, multi-coloured and awesome.

New Hobbit image released

New Hobbit image released

Ahead of the new Hobbit trailer being released a little later today, there's a brand new Hobbit image been released as well.

The image shows Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out in December.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ruby Sparks: Movie Review

Ruby Sparks: Movie Review

Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Elliott Gould, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan
Director: Jonathan Dayton

From the directors of Little Miss Sunshine comes this charmingly quirky indie about a writer whose creation comes unexpectedly to life.

Dano is a former writing prodigy, Calvin, whose first book was a massive success when he was young. However, he's now in a creative slump, and struggling with writer's block, unable to find any inspiration for any kind of new material, nearly a decade after his first book was such a success.

Becoming more introverted, his psychiatrist suggest a writing exercise to help him - and from that little acorn comes a creative seed of a girl called Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan, the film's writer), who embodies all of the traits Calvin sees in his ideal woman. (Which should start some alarm bells ringing in your head over the ethics of the storyline)

However, one day, Calvin comes home to find Ruby has mysteriously come to life and is now in Calvin's house....

Ruby Sparks is a gentle character piece and a look into what fuels the creative process, invisible friends, the insecurities of writing and the pressures to be a social butterfly these days - even if it does occasionally have a questionable basis for an idea.

Paul Dano has shades of Woody Allen as he initially paces about trying to seek inspiration for what comes next - it's a sparky performance of a near recluse, crippled by initial success and a lack of follow up. But Dano also manages to make a multi dimension turn of a character who's controlling, struggling to socialise and is massively insecure. There's even a nice shout out to the movie Harvey, when Calvin first realises his character has been brought to life.

Likewise, Zoe Kazan (who wrote the piece and whose grandfather is Elia Kazan) impresses by breathing some real life into the initially one-dimensional character from the page who becomes a living and breathing girlfriend. She accentuates all the frailties and vulnerabilities of Calvin's character while making her own feel like some may in any relationship.

A final sequence which sees Calvin wield the true extent of his powers as a creator is shocking and emotionally draining - in any lesser actors' hands, these scenes would have jarred, but with these two, it's an electrifying look into the controlling power of the man.

Banderas and Bening make a quirky pair of free spirits and Coogan, once again, brings the sleaze as Calvin's agent; and Gould has an affability as Calvin's shrink.

Be aware - this is no Weird Science piece; Ruby Sparks looks into the psyche of what makes a man, a writer; it is off-kilter, charming, honest, perceptive, funny and endearing in equal measures.


Monday, 17 September 2012

New Hobbit trailer

New Hobbit trailer

Sir Peter Jackson's let it slip there will be a new Hobbit trailer released this week (possibly as early as the 19th).

This week is Tolkein week and the celebration of the writer's life, culminates with Bilbo and Frodo's birthday on 22nd September.

Speaking on his Facebook page this morning, PJ's revealed it will be an interesting week with some behind the scenes content available as well as a brand new trailer for the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

As if that's not enough, there's also a heap of new images from the Hobbit - feast your eyes below.

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