Saturday, 30 November 2013

Monsters University: Blu Ray Review

Monsters University: Blu Ray Review

Rating: G
Released by Disney

The Monsters are back in this prequel to the wonderful Monsters, Inc.

It's a tough call following one of the most beloved Pixar movies of all time and you'd almost be afraid to do it - but Pixar's decided to deliver another film with the leads that have become so iconic. This time around though, things are a little different for Sulley, Mike Wazowski and Randall. The film takes you back to before the friendship and into the younger days - Mike (Billy Crystal, once again in fine form) is determined to do what it takes to get into Monsters University and become the best scarer ever after visiting Monsters Inc during a school trip.

So, when Mike manages to get a place at the prestigious university, he's keen to ensure he doesn't lose his spot and studies as much as he can. But things go a little haywire when jock-like Sulley (John Goodman, returning to the role he was suited for) shows up - a slacker who's getting by on the family name and refusing to study, he winds Mike up the wrong way.

And when the pair of them end up being kicked out of college, Mike thinks his dream is shattered....until he discovers the Scare Games and one final chance to get back in.

The problem is that he'll have to do it with his new arch-nemesis, Sulley and a team of misfits who couldn't say boo to a ghost...Monsters University is the kind of US college film we've all seen a million times before - a group of outcasts, victimised by the cool kids and heading for a showdown with the dean of the college. So, on that front, it's perhaps a bit of a disappointment that Pixar's plumped for the old cliche rather than looking at something new.

That said, by using a few clever twists on your expectations (the Sulley vs Mike divide, a new roommate for Mike initially) they just about manage to get away with it. Starting with Mike as a kid and outcast at college, he becomes the deluded underdog and nerd; throw in Sulley's jock, who's in competition with Mike and you've got the classic paradigm right there. Taking in a buddy message and the obligatory "you can do this with team help" theme, and really Pixar's not exactly stretching the hearts and minds of those who so enjoyed Monsters Inc back when it first emerged. But that's not to say that the new generation won't be captivated by Mike and Sulley's antics this time around. Of the new additions, Nathan Fillion's frat leader Johnny, Helen Mirren's Dean Hardscrabble and Charlie Day's Art make the most of their screen time and add a welcome presence to the pantheon of Monsters. 

While the Monsters University animation is top notch, the colourful creatures of Monsters University rich and varied within and Goodman and Crystal's vocal work is exceptional as ever, the whole thing just doesn't quite have the same rich emotional pay off, heartfelt resonance and pertinent humour in this prequel which made Monsters Inc so incredibly special.

(One thing which is worth the price of admission though is the truly beautiful short piece, The Blue Umbrella which is a blu ray extra. This is a real masterclass in short form animation, and is exceptional from beginning to end)

Extras: A Whole bunch of stuff including commentary, deleted scenes,and more.


Friday, 29 November 2013

PlayStation 4 launch in New Zealand

PlayStation 4 launch in New Zealand

Last night saw the midnight launch of the much anticipated PlayStation 4 in New Zealand and around Europe.

It's the second next generation console launch in just a week, with the XBoxOne launching last Thursday night worldwide. Around one million units of that console have already been sold.

Last night's event in Auckland for PlayStation saw the likes of Monty Betham vying for a chance to win a console at the night. Elsewhere, midnight launches were held around the country by electronics retailers so gamers could be the first to get their hands on the much awaited console.

Experts believe it's a boom time for gamers, with the war between Sony and Microsoft in the console department being only beneficial to the consumer.

Sony has already announced new "Uncharted" and "InFamous" games for the PS4 as well as revealing a raft of launch titles that include new games Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack.

Gamers in Auckland will get their chance to play on the new console for free today at an event in Fort Lane in the CBD with 12 titles, including Call of Duty Ghosts, Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag and Killzone being on show.

Here are some pictures from last night's event - which also showcased the PlayStation's contribution throughout the years.

This Is the End: Blu Ray Review

This Is the End: Blu Ray Review

Rating: R16
Released by Sony Home Ent

Seth Rogen plays Seth Rogen, and Jay Baruchel plays Jay Baruchel - the two have been buddies for a while and the movie begins with Jay coming to LA, a place that he despises to visit. After the pair have got caught up (translation: smoked a lot of weed and played computer games), Seth takes Jay, against his will, to James Franco's house-warming party. (All of the celebs involved are playing versions of themselves - or their perceived self in the media).

And that's when it starts to get gnarly as the end of the world comes a-knocking - and five of the remaining Hollywood acting elite (Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and The Office's Craig Robinson) decide to rough it out in Franco's home...

But pretty soon, they realise they've got no choice but to leave the house - and face whatever is out there. Building on short film,Jay and Seth vs The ApocalypseThis Is The End is a tasteless movie comedy of almost Biblical proportions.

Riffing on the ties that bind and divide the divas, it throws energy and more laughs your way than you would have expected from the premise of five Hollywood celebs being forced to deal with the apocalypse and some serious self examination.

The banter between the quintet ranges from the self-obsessed to the narcissistic, and then into meta territory as they start to question why it's all happening.

Rogen and Baruchel impress as the duo whose friendship has taken a battering because of Jay's refusal to spend time in LA amongst Seth's new crowd. Sure, the occasionally innuendo-laden dialogue takes a trip into the crass and depraved - especially once Danny McBride shows up but it doesn't stop the laughs from coming thick and fast. Watch out for cameos at the start because when the bad stuff happens, these celebs aren't afraid to bid farewell in unforgettable ways.

Some impressive FX work draws from Wrath of the Titans to flesh out the reality of the end of the world, but it adds an epic feel to this low-brow but incredibly funny night out at the movies - despite feeling a little overlong during the final third.

This Is The End finishes up on a musical note which is as random and throwaway as everything which has gone before on this journey of self-awareness, redemption with lashings of selfishness - but to be honest, you couldn't have it any other way in this piece which urges you to check your brain at the door. A riotous night out for an admittedly guilty pleasure - but it's the first comedy in a while to make the end of the world seem like a great place to be.

Extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes, making of Pineapple Express 2, Meta apocalypse - a healthy bunch of stuff - including the original short


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Aucklanders get their chance to play on the PS4

Aucklanders get their chance to play on the PS4

With just hours to go until the official launch of the PS4 in New Zealand, there's been some good news announced by Sony Computer Entertainment NZ.

If you're in Auckland tomorrow, you'll get the chance to sample some of the next gen delights during the day.

Here are the deets.

This Friday, Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand welcomes the general public to sample PlayStation®4 and a great range of first and third party titles between 10am and 4pm at The Fort Lane Vaults (44 Queen Street, Auckland CBD). 

The PlayStation®4 is the most powerful next generation gaming console that delivers dynamic, connected gaming combined with powerful graphics and speed. 

PlayStation®4 delivers remote play with PlayStation®Vita for players who want the freedom to play next generation games anytime anywhere.      
PlayStation®4 is #4thePlayers.

PlayStation®4 titles available to sample on Friday: 
The Playroom
Need for Speed: Rivals
FIFA 14'
LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes™
Octodad: Dadliest Catch 
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Killzone: Shadow Fall
Call of Duty®: Ghosts
Assassin's Creed®IV Black Flag™

One note of caution though - An R16 area will be set up for all rated games. Consumers will need to supply I.D. to enter this area. 

The Lone Ranger: DVD Review

The Lone Ranger: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Disney

Johnny Depp plays Tonto, an American Indian spirit warrior, who's our guide in more ways than one in this journey as he recounts, from a travelling circus, how the Lone Ranger was born from the death of John Reid (Armie Hammer) and transformed into a masked vigilante of justice and a symbol of hope. Reid is trying to avenge the death of his brother (played by James Badge Dale) at the hands of William Fichtner's bad guy Butch Cavendish, and finds himself out of his depth and in the middle of a conspiracy helmed by Tom Wilkinson's Latham Cole, who's out to take over the whole idea of the railroad, which is just being brought in.

The Lone Ranger 2013 is a little bit too much of a sprawling film with too much of a muddled messy plot to feel focused as it limps to the end of its line, after nearly two and a half hours.

Starting with Depp under layers of latex in 1930s San Francisco, it takes a while for the story to kick in as it flashes back to 1869 Texas. But Depp's Tonto is a wonderful creation, mixing mawkish sadness and channeling silent comics from yesteryear under cracked white face paint and a crow upon his head. In fact, Depp's relatively dry and dour delivery provides a lot of unexpected laughs early on and works as a wonderful foil to Hammer's drippy and wet behind the ears do-gooder, law-abiding DA, John Reid. In fact, Hammer hardly brings the Lone Ranger to life at all and pales in comparison and charisma to Depp's Tonto. The sequence which introduces Silver, the spirit walker horse, really strives to bring the legend of the Lone Ranger to life and cause the relationship between the duo to soar above much of the rest of a muddled and average plot. Jokes about the true meaning of Kimosabesit alongside some truly dark imagery (such as the slaughter of native Americans by the army and villagers cut down by the greed of some) and are an uneasy fit in the overall feel ofThe Lone Ranger movie. Helena Bonham-Carter's appearance in the film amounts to nothing more than a cameo and a nod to one of Rose McGowan's Tarantino roles and Wilkinson appears to be a little lost among some misplaced altruism before bringing the twirling moustache baddie to the fore. 

A final set piece sequence on board two trains (and complete with theWilliam Tell Overture) provides more thrills, spills, action and laughs than anything which has gone before as Verbinksi finally unleashes a spectacle which is astoundingly good - but it's a little too late in the piece as over 2 hours of confused and chaotic story telling have unfolded with nary a nod of interest. An expeditious edit of around 40 minutes could have helped this bloated piece achieve some kind of focussed story-telling.

While the comic beats and relationship between Reid and Tonto bring a lot to the screen (even if Reid is blown away by the at times surreal antics of Tonto / Depp's colourful performance), the rest is a little wanting - and leaves the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger somewhat lost.

Extras: Bloopers, deleted scenes


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: Movie Review

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: Movie Review

Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Nigel Lindsay, Phil Cornwell, Tim Key, Simon Greenall
Director: Declan Lowney

Steve Coogan's most iconic comedy creation comes to the big screen with the Brit comedy, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

Coogan is hapless radio DJ Alan Partridge, who's still working at a local UK radio station pushing his own brand of banal and pedantic chat on the people of Norwich with his show Mid Morning Matters. But something sinister is afoot at the station with a corporate takeover threatening to sweep through and clear out the chaff.

When Partridge gets whiff of the fact it's either he or fellow night time DJ Pat (played by Colm Meaney) who face the chop, he does the only decent thing Alan can do - urges the new station bosses to get rid of Pat. But Pat's not taking it lying down - and comes back armed with a grudge and a shotgun at the launch of the new station.

Pretty soon, Partridge, whose star has been firmly in the descent, is back in the limelight as Pat's confidant at the siege and the police's negotiator... will Alan save the day or will the chance thrusting of him back into the media spotlight cause his ego to run riot?

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is a particularly British film, which will resonate with the ex-pat audience but will be loved for some of its comedic subtleties. And a lot of that is due to Steve Coogan's acting and the exceptionally strong writing on show, which parodies the banality of local radio ("Yesterday's meat at today's prices") and yet also deals with the seismic shifts of conglomerates taking over whole rafts of local stations in the UK markets.

Anyone au fait with Partridge will know what to expect - moments of cringeworthy asides and comments coupled with some endlessly quotable bon mots. Granted, all of those are present and correct (some with deadly accuracy) but there is also a subtlety to Coogan's performance and a slyness to the writing which almost threatens to fly over your head at times.

Whether it's a sly look or a clever one-liner, Coogan and his team of writers have nailed the transition of Partridge to the big screen. That said, while the story starts to run a little out of puff during its final third, the ratio of gags to screen time is particularly high - and an impressively fleshed out Partridge proves central to the whole story. Strong support comes from Montagu as Partridge's long-suffering PA Lynn and Colm Meaney adds a degree of volatility to the unfolding siege that's hard to ignore.

But it's Partridge's parochial show throughout - whether he's dissing Pat by saying "he's Irish, to be sure", miming in his car to the middle of the road rock of Roachford (see the clip below) or running from a one night stand by squealing that "she's a drunk racist, I can take one but not both", Coogan's timing and comic subtlety is immaculate. He also brings the inherent sadness of this character to the fore as well with one joking exchange over his final message to his family bordering on the tragic.

Belly laughs and subtle sniggers are the order of the day with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Complete with subtle digs at the radio industry that insiders will cherish but outsiders won't be isolated by, the corporate takeover's given a slightly new twist, embracing everything that was iconic about radio in the UK in the 80s and yet cocking a snook at it. (And when was the last time you saw a film end its tension on a crummy seaside pier?)

Thankfully, Coogan et al have chosen not to rest on their laurels and rely on old material for gags despite there being a wealth of them around in the character of Alan Partridge. It's a sly move, ensuring this cinematic outing has a freshness and British comic joie de vivre that's as addictive as it is amusing.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Road testing some MOPHIE products

Road testing some MOPHIE products

There’s nothing worse than running out of power when you’re a prolific mobile phone user. And living in New Zealand, it has to be said, there’s more chance of that happening as the summer months come up – you’re on the beach, you’re out tramping, you’re off out from the bach etc etc.

So, it’s almost as if Mophie have planned for that with a range of products aimed at ensuring you’re not without power while on the road. From a Powerbag backpack which covers all manner of charging options for your Apple devices to a simple power charging casing which fits around the phone, there’s certainly enough to keep you juiced up and on the go.

I had the chance to test drive some of the Mophie products – for the iPhone 4s – there was a camera around as well (the Olloclipbut as I don’t have an iPhone 5, I couldn’t road test that but I did see it in action.

The Mophie Juice Pack starts off at around $99.95 and takes the form of a case shell that splits and fits around your iPhone 4s. The top third sits around the top of your phone – and isn’t too deep to ensure that you’ve got access to the off button and headphones jack. The second larger third houses the power plug in for the base of the iPhone and feels a little weightier. Ergonomically designed, the pack fits snugly around the phone and finds the base really where the key action is for this. A switch on the left hand side operates the charge – and a micro hole on the right accommodates the USB charge for the battery pack. This can be charged on a computer or plugged into a wall; it took around 4 hours to fully charge the base pack so it’s ready to go. 

On the base, there are 4 LED lights and a button; pressing this button reveals how much charge currently sits in the pack – the higher the lights, the more juice in there to go. Mophie says the pack will give the phone an essential double battery life if you fire it up after the phone’s battery’s dropped to around 20% - and to be honest, it really does appear to be that way, with the options being to let your phone run down and then flick the charge on. 

Essentially, that way, you’re left with alternating charges – thanks to the ease of the slip on and slip off of the case, you can always have one charging ready to go. There’s no residual heat emanating from the pack as I could feel when it was in my pocket; perhaps the only issue is that it makes the phone slightly heavier to hold, but to be frank, if you’re able to avoid the frustration of switching and powering off when the phone’s low, that’s a small sacrifice to make.

The action camera case, aka The Outride is going to be a hit in the extreme sports sector that we live in, particularly with summer just around the corner.

With bars and attachments, it can be fitted to the top of anything and set going while you're out and about - so if you want to record an awesome trail ride or are heading off into the wilds unknown, it's a smart piece of little kit to use. The major thing about it though is that it severely limits the functionality of the phone - basically, it means the phone is just there as a recording device and can't really be used for calls, incoming or outgoing.

The case itself is extremely snug fitting and tight; it's actually quite difficult to get into - and after a bit of fumbling, you can get your phone strapped down and ready to go. That's a good thing though because it's likely to protect the phone as you negotiate all manner of terrain. The wide angle lens helps capture the world around you - certainly, I tried buffeting it around and found it quite good at dealing with the shocks , proving solid point-of-view recording, which was light in handling and gave me options to adjust if I needed to. Not once did I see any sign of slipping at all and I think given the passion for extreme sports here, this could be a boon to those who want to either capture a gnarly ride or are keen just to capture the moments when alfresco to enjoy again.

If you want to find out more about the MOPHIE products, head over to their website

The Time of The Doctor is coming

The Time of The Doctor is coming

Following on from the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who, the first details have been revealed of Matt Smith's final outing as the Doctor, coming this Christmas.

The BBC's revealed the adventure will be called:  The Time of The Doctor.

An official synopsis has been given as well:

"Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe's deadliest species gather,drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them – the Doctor.  

"Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe."

Ron Burgundy has Afternoon Delight

Ron Burgundy has Afternoon Delight

Anchorman 2 is in cinemas soon and the premiere's just taken place in Sydney with the news team in tow.

But the highlight of the event appears to have been a barbershop quartet version of Afternoon Delight.

Looks like the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra's got some serious competition.

Anchorman 2 hits cinemas December 19th.


Two new Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues trailers are out there.

Will Ferrell returns as Ron Burgundy in this latest, which is due to drop on December the 19th.

Watch the brand new Anchorman 2 trailers below



Monday, 25 November 2013

The Five(Ish) Doctors are here

The Five(Ish) Doctors are here

Hot on the heels of the Day of The Doctor, 5th Doctor Peter Davison has launched his mini episode, The Five(Ish) Doctors.

With no Classic Doctors in the 50th anniversary Doctor Who celebrations, Peter Davison joins forces with other Time Lords to be involved.

This mini episode is available to view on the BBC Iplayer and also features Lord of The Rings director Sir Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen, as well as Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Paul McGann.

New Sherlock trailer debuts

New Sherlock trailer debuts

There's a brand new Sherlock trailer which has just debuted.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the series is due to screen in winter on the BBC.

The clip entitled #SherlockLives is available to view here..

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Ping Pong: DVD Review

Ping Pong: DVD Review

Rating: PG
Released by Vendetta Home Ent

A documentary about the sport of table tennis with a central cast whose combined age hits nearly 703? I'd almost written it off as Young@Heart but with sport instead of singing to be honest.

In this British documentary, Hugh Hartford follows the trials and tribulations as well as charting the build up to the World Championship finals in China by tracking some of the global OAP competitors.There's 81 year old Terry, a Brit who's been struck by a return of his prostate cancer issues; 89 year old Les is a fellow UK dweller and philosopher, who takes his training seriously and can be found at the gym doing weights to get in shape; 89 year old German Inge whose training's helped get her out of dementia ward - and the oldest competitor Dorothy from Australia, whose 100 years gives her celeb status at home and also at the championships.

Hartford tracks the lives of 9 of these but spends more time off the championship floor and manages to capture a spirit of fierce competitiveness as well as their tenacity for life as the end approaches. He builds their back stories so that you're invested in them as the competition nears; with moments and a style that's non-intrusive, Hartford manages to imbue the piece with heart, humour and pathos.  In a couple of sequences, he skirts around the sentimental path before deciding to concentrate on the characters rather than tugging on the heart-strings. It's a wise move which pays off once the final tournament takes place and then the sly humour kicks in as one competitor hopes she gets the opponent who can't move around the table so that she can win. As the crowds give their approval at the results among the pomp and pageantry of the ping pong world in China, it's something akin to a gladiator seeking the emperor's favour in an auditorium and it's intoxicating for both the competitors and the viewers.

With gallows humour, gentle tension and a typical deadpan Brit eye for detail and moments, Ping Pong is as much a celebration of life as it is an inspirational piece; a simply put together film which shows once the twilight comes you don't have to just give up, but celebrate the spirit that dwells within.


ZB Radio - The Hunger Games, Filth, and Man of Steel

ZB Radio - The Hunger Games, Filth, and Man of Steel

Get the latest reviews from my time with Jack Tame on News Talk ZB

This week, it was Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, James McAvoy in Filth, and Superman in Man of Steel.

Oh, and a mention of Dr Who and my mum's birthday! All in 4 1/2 minutes!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Enough Said: Movie Review

Enough Said: Movie Review

Cast: Julia Louis Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falco
Director: Nicole Holofcener

Tis a rare beast - a rom-com that feels fresh, doesn't rely on cliches and doesn't short change the characters and the audience.

It's an even rarer one that tackles an older set of protagonists, and does such a wonderful job of it. (Sure, we've had Hope Springs, but....)

Enough Said, from Walking and Talking director Nicole Holofcener, is the tale of divorced and single parent Eva (played with wonderful realism by VEEP and Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Saddled with a massive masseuse table and moving from client to client, Eva is worried about her daughter's impending departure for college.

A chance meeting at a party throws her into the path of self-confessed slob Albert (James Gandolfini in his last full movie role), who's in a similar situation. Despite Eva's initial dismissal of Albert, she finds herself attracted to him and a romance blossoms.

But there's a stumble in this road to romance - one of Eva's clients is always bitching about her ex-husband and revealing the real reasons why she left . That sends Eva into a tailspin of doubt over Albert - however, there are bigger revelations ahead.

Enough Said is an absolute delight of a movie, an incisive and often hilarious insight into relationships later in life and an examination of how people's foibles can prove to be their undoing. Gently unassuming and charmingly honest, it's a film that deserves to stand on its own two feet rather than being mired in the sentiment of it being one of James Gandolfini's last before his untimely death.

Both Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus absolutely nail their roles, imbuing each with warmth and a raw honesty that's completely compelling and utterly entrancing. Gandolfini in particular displays a softer, more melancholy and self-deprecating side to his character that's so rarely been seen due to his more hard men roles like The Sopranos and his turn in Killing Them Softly. The screen crackles with their repartie and it never feels try hard or forced; ultimately their chemistry is disarming and enthralling to watch.

Louis-Dreyfus displays her usual touch of light comedy for the majority of the film and manages to fill her character with recognisable traits and touches. It helps that there's a well-observed script which dances over the material with ease, while skirting into the bittersweet territory of the flow and ebb of post marriage relationships / adult romances.

All in all, Enough Said deserves to be seen for more reasons than it's simply one of James Gandolfini's last films. It's an incisive, insightful, gently unassuming yet beautifully put together heartfelt adult romantic comedy which has a warmth running through its cinematic veins.


Friday, 22 November 2013

Auckland man first in the world to get XBoxOne

Auckland man first in the world to get XBoxOne

An Auckland man is the first in the world to get his hands on the XBoxOne console.

Dan Livingstone of Auckland won the honour at the launch of the next generation console at Shed 10 in the city just moments ago.

Dan said he'd never come first in anything at all - and was overwhelmed at being the first person in the world to be given the new console after a series of draws.

Around a thousand people packed into the glitzy event at Auckland's Viaduct which saw Kim Dotcom among the hardcore gamers who were queueing to ensure they got their chance to be in line to get the new console.

Sights from the launch of the XBoxOne - first launch in the world

Sights from the launch of the XBoxOne - first launch in the world

The XBoxOne console's launched in New Zealand tonight with the country the first in the world to get the brand new Next Generation console.

At an event in Auckland, gamers and fans mingled waiting to get their hands on the console.

Here are some sights from the XBoxOne launch event. Including the first person in the world to officially own the new XBoxOne, Auckland man Dan Livingstone.

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