Saturday, 31 January 2015

Mortdecai: Film Review

Mortdecai: Film Review

Cast: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn
Director: David Koepp

Already rated as one of the worst films of 2015 and a low note on Johnny Depp's CV, Mortdecai arrives with hardly much expectation hanging on its shoulders.

Depp is Charlie Mortdecai, a moustachioed eccentric, art dealer and rogueish cad who, along with his manservant Jock (played with bit-of-rough charm by Paul Bettany) is forced to investigate the theft of a painting by the police. With no choice but to investigate thanks to an 8 million pound debt to Queen and country, Mortdecai is sent on a global chase to find the painting before time runs out and it falls into the wrong hands.

Mixing heist caper, Terry Thomas style speech and Rowley Birkin QC gibberish, Depp's OTT performance stands at odds with everyone else around him as he preens and pirhouettes his way through the story which has elements of Gambit within. The problem is while his manchild antics are the central turn with stupidity being more his MO, everyone else around him is taking it terribly seriously with their best plummy British accents on show for all to see.

Bettany fares well as a put upon man servant in the vein of Kato amidst Mortdecai's bumbling and to be frank, the whole affair zips along with a pace that belies its weak script and hammy lead performance.

Depp's character spends a lot of the film asking if it "will be all right in the end"; and you can't help but wonder if that's a meta touch and comment on his own career which seems to be spindling and circling the plug hole after a row of bombs belying some of the great work he did early on. You can see why he was attracted to the bounder role; a chance to riff on the English aristocracy and the art world, but the end result is such a mess that the ongoing joke about a gag reflex every time his wife kisses him soon becomes an involuntary audience reaction to large parts of what transpires on screen.


Friday, 30 January 2015

New Terminator: Genisys trailer drops

New Terminator: Genisys trailer drops

The first new Terminator: Genisys trailer has dropped ahead of the Superbowl.

Hip Hop-eration: DVD Review

Hip Hop-eration: DVD Review

Rating: G
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Hip-hop, some hip-operated on OAPs, the hip paradise of Waiheke Island and a NZ feel all wrap up to make this Kiwi bred documentary a feel-good outing of the highest order.

Following a group of some 80 year olds of varying backgrounds, the doco follows the band and their irresistible leader Billie Jordan as they pursue their dream of being centre stage at the Las Vegas World Hip Hop Dance tournament.

Gently meshing together a historical background of a yesteryear and fusing it with the kind of sensibilities that made Young @ Heart such a hit all those years back. It's not quite as emotionally affecting as Young@Heart managed to be though it's suffused with such a Kiwi touch that's hard to deny.

When Billie gets the call from the Las Vegas organisers to say they're in, her typically low key reaction ("Bullpucky") sums up the approach to it all by documentary maker Bryn Evans.

Equally the subjects she chooses to concentrate on weave a tale-telling tapestry that hints at former lives within; from the pensioner who reads Haydn to the OAP who wants to model, these are Kiwis that will force many of us to head off and contact our parents to say hi.

The love-fest is cemented when the Otara based Krash hip-hop crew join forces with the Hip-Hoperationers by giving them their support, giving both the Otara gang a new focus and the OAPs a sign they're inspiring others.

It's clearly a message of Life is for Living and not exactly a new one to tote, but for moments such as one OAP grinning with glee after proving a crack-shot with a sub automatic rifle at a US range to comments like "We'll get you to Las Vegas - even if it's in an urn", there's no chance you won't be won over by this feel-good doco that rocks to its own beat.


Ted 2 trailer drops

Ted 2 trailer drops

The first full trailer for Ted 2 has just dropped.

Seth MacFarlane returns as writer, director and voice star of Ted 2, Universal and Media Rights Capital’s follow-up to the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time. Joined once again by star Mark Wahlberg and fellow Ted writers Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild, MacFarlane produces the live action/CG-animated comedy alongside Bluegrass Films’ Scott Stuber, as well as John Jacobs and Jason Clark.

Ted 2 releases July 2nd 2015

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Selma: Film Review

Selma: Film Review

Cast: David Oyolewo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey
Director: Ava DuVernay

Already generating debate for the snub for former Spooks star David Oyolewo, Selma has prestige written through it - even though it has the air of The Butler around it. (Which is ironic given that The Butler's director was once attached to the project)

A mesmerising Oyolewo stars as Martin Luther King Jr as we get the inside story of the build up of the 1965 marches from Selma Alabama to Montgomery almost a half century after their time.

By preferring to concentrate on the tension between King Jr and the President Lyndon Johnson (The Full Monty's Tom Wilkinson) over the activism involved, we begin to learn the lengths the FBI went to to ensure that every last detail of the build up was documented.

This juncture in the civil rights movement came at a decisive moment in time with King's advisers at loggerheads and the President starting to feel threatened by the growing weight of the protestors' feelings.

Opening with King Jr's acceptance of the Nobel peace prize before a bomb rips through Birmingham, Selma sets out its stall early on. With the slow mo shot of the bomb's explosion, director DuVernay decides that pushing the buttons is perhaps more important than filling the story with an emotional depth and heart that's needed throughout. (The slow mo is over-used later on in key moments but feels hollow and a desperate attempt to try to convey some emotion when simplicity would have been better)

Selma is never better than when it lets Oyolewo take the stage and deliver impassioned speeches from Martin Luther King Jr. It's here that Oyolewo brings some of the resonance and power of the orator to life, despite never fully capturing the likeness. By delivering a swelling performance and a relatively dialled down turn during negotiations, you really get a sense of the compelling and uniting nature of Dr King as he galvanised people into action and so upset others.

The film's also a growing roster of prestige actors, with the likes of Martin Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr, Dylan Baker, Tim Roth all turning up for their moment in the cinematic sun.

But DuVernay's piece never fully manages the subtlety needed of a film like this to propel it into the stratosphere; around 90 minutes in, when the first march of the Edmund Pettus Bridge disastrously takes place, rather than simply letting the horror of the visuals strike the deep resonant chord they need, she chooses to have a New York Times reporter who was on the scene narrate by reporting back events to his paper over the ghastly. The end result is a sentimental button pushing montage that tells you what to feel, how to feel and when to emote - given that the film uses actual footage from the final marches to maximum effect, it's a blundering misfire.

Equally, the story is told with such a straight-laced approach that there's never any shade; the conflicts between King and his wife, the conflict with Malcolm X, the conflict with those running the movement in Selma are completely left on the side; this is really where the story of Selma would have been better told, rather than a simple lifting of events from a history book.

There's absolutely no doubting Oyolewo's turn in Selma, but thanks to no directorial flair or flourish from DuVernay, Selma never quite achieves the power it needs for a story that's so worthy and a moment in time that's so vital to be captured on celluloid.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fantastic Four trailer drops

Fantastic Four trailer drops

The first trailer for Fantastic Four by Josh Trank has just dropped.

Take a look at the Fantastic Four trailer.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

SAG Award winners

21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Winners List:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Birdman
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: Unbroken
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Downton Abbey
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series: Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Orange Is the New Black
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: William H. Macy, Shameless
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series: Game of Thrones
Life Achievement Award: Debbie Reynolds

Oculus: Blu Ray Review

Oculus: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Doctor Who star Karen Gillan stars in this parallel storylines horror movie that's already received genre acclaim.

Gillan is Kaylie, who believes a mirror is haunted by supernatural powers and that it's wreaked havoc within her life as well as others. Gathering her brother who was jailed for the deaths in their family, Kaylie sets out to change the future by delving into the past.

There are a few smart scares here and there, but Oculus isn't really an edge of your seat horror kind of film, more a psychologically unsettling piece set over two timelines. Based on the director's own short story, Oculus benefits from Karen Gillan's solid turn (even if her accent isn't quite convincing enough) and a restrained direction, aimed at unsettling you rather than scaring you outright.


Monday, 26 January 2015

Monty Python Live Mostly: DVD review

Monty Python Live Mostly: DVD review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Ent

The Pythons' reunion tour was one of the stadia smashes of last year and this DVD captures the essence of the Pythons idiocy and surreality.

Over 10 nights, thousands saw them re-enact some of their most famous sketches from the parrot sketch to the Lumberjack song, to a nuns and all version of Every Sperm is Sacred.

Monty Python Live Mostly - One down Five To Go will offer no surprises to the fans and there's a real joie de vivre to seeing the faves being given a live outing - but it has to be said, those who are not fans of the Pythons won't be converted to their wacky outlook on life.

The stage show itself is fairly formulaic and there's very little anarchy on show with this polished performance and footage from the TV series. It's all very pleasant to watch and with guest appearances from the likes of Eddie Izzard, you can see why they're enduring to their fans, but if you're not a Python, don't expect this to convert you.

Project Almanac: Film Review

Project Almanac: Film Review

Cast: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Virginia Gardner
Director: Dean Israelite

What would you do if you were a teenager with a time machine?

The go-pro, handheld cam obsession of the selfie generation provides the backbone of the latest found footage movie, which mixes in the glee of recent superhero found footage movie Chronicle and the pure hedonism of Project X.

Centred around David Raskin (Jonny Weston), a high schooler science genius who's on the brink of being accepted into MIT but is short on cash for the required scholarship, Project Almanac posits the theory that time travel is possible.

After David and his gang of (largely) intelligent friends find a video of David's 7th birthday and spot him in the mirror, they gradually try to work out exactly how he got there. A series of clues lead them to the basement and the discovery of a machine that helps them travel in time - and could be the answer to their various problems.

Project Almanac wears its influences on its sleeve and actually proves quite successful within the confines of its genre. Citing Looper, Doctor Who, Groundhog Day, Timecop, Terminator, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and even Argo, the writers have grasped the pop culture mettle fully by the hand and run with it. Plus the fact the central character's a science pro (and a relatable everyday type who struggles with girls, not your typical geek) helps with the set up and kicks the story along (though admittedly, David has to keep explaining things to his sister aka the audience proxy).

In fact, it's the fact that these characters are everyday types and relatable (the guy with the secret unrequited crush, the goofball of the group et al) that helps Project Almanac work in the ways it does. There's a dizzy joy as the group heads to Lollapalooza with backstage passes purchased after the event on eBay and do all the kinds of things you imagine you would do again - if you could.

The inevitable Butterfly Effect which hits the group impacts into proceedings late in the day; granted the theory is the slightest ripple causes the biggest problem but the script doesn't call for this to come into until the final stretch, making the film feel a little rushed as it throws emotional weight at the wall hoping it'll stick (and don't get me started on some of the time travel - it's paradoxical at best in places) and leaving audiences a little dizzied as the denouement tries to pack the weight on.

Overall, Project Almanac works best as a hedonistic mash up that stays within the confines of the rules it lays down; sure, some of the found footage moments creak and feel shoe-horned in but for the large part, the occasionally self-aware referencing and play-it-straight-but-within-teen-concerns means that this time travel flick doesn't give the feeling of deja vu you may have expected.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Newstalk ZB Review - Unbroken

Newstalk ZB Review - Unbroken

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie: Blu Ray Review

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

Brendan O'Carroll's perenially popular Agnes Brown hits the big screen in this latest outing following series upon series of hits.

In this big screen spin-off, Mrs Brown has to do everything in her power to help protect the market stall she runs after a business-man reveals plans to knock it all down for a shopping centre.

I'll admit it - the Mrs Brown's Boys "comedy phenomenon" has somewhat passed me by.

I'm aware of the mass audience for the sitcom and those will be the fans who'll lap up this flick and its generally unfunny stylings. The jokes are predictable, can be seen a mile off and are distinctly unamusing. Sample line - a letter shows from the Tax office, which is in a brown envelope and cue Mrs Brown saying "at least it's the right colour for when I wipe my arse with it."

The problem is that you can rail all you want against this, but it'll find its viewers with its 1970s attitudes - it's a throwback in many ways, but you can't help but feel a little more effort in the scripts, its gags and a little less racism may have worked.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Giver: Blu Ray Review

The Giver: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

A canny cross between Utopia and Dystopia, The Giver is a slightly aloof adaptation of the 1993 Lois Lowry social sci-fi novel, where scratching the surface reveals something deeply nasty within.

It's the story of Jonas, a young man who lives the colourless community in the late 21st century. It's a world of conformity, order and seemingly perfect - and whose young citizens are given designated stations in life at the point of adulthood.

One of those is Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), who is given the role of Receiver of Memory, a title which forces him to meet Jeff Bridges' wizened The Giver, who helps bestow on Jonas a view into a life before the drab community came to life.

But with these visions of the horrors that mankind does, as well as the benefits, Jonas finds his outlook on life and those around him irrevocably changed.

The Giver deserves plaudits for covering some big meaty ideas - albeit within the trappings of parts of the Young Adult genre. The idea that a community could be washed clean of its emotions and life so sanitised isn't a bad one at all; and it certainly leads to one of the most emotionally horrific scenes ever committed to celluloid involving True Blood star Alexander Skarsgaard and a baby.

Despite outcry over how old Thwaites was for the role, he manages to convey Jonas' dawning awareness of life before quite well; Katie Holmes is almost emotionless as the mother of the piece, urging her children to use "precision of language"; Skarsgaard is practically buck toothed and goofy as the unaware father whose job is horrific; and Taylor Swift is a smart piece of stunt casting as The Giver's former protege. Bridges seems to spend a lot of the movie as if he's got marbles in his mouth and appears to be sleep walking in parts - as does Streep as the austere leader of the community.

However, in among those dystopian trappings, there's also a great deal of mawkishness which proves a bit of a disconnect here and there. Noyce uses flashes of colour so brilliantly and so vividly as Jonas begins to explore the outside world (it's all so reminiscent of Pleasantville's colour interludes all those years ago) in a new light; but towards the end, as Jonas gets more of a feeling of the evil that men have done through the years, Noyce's mixture of swelling music and deliberately emotive imagery (Nelson Mandela, tanks in Tiananmen Square) over-eggs the pudding.

Add onto that an utterly ridiculous ending that's got a neat and simple resolution which defies belief and logic, and The Giver starts to fail its at times utterly haunting and morally complex philosophical premise.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For: Blu Ray Review

Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

The original Sin City, which bowed in 2005, was a blast, a graphic novel brought to life on the screen and drenched in pastiche and noir.

So, it's a surprise to see that a sequel's taken nearly 10 years to be made; in this latest, there's another raft of adaptations from Frank Miller's books and a few new sequences written especially for the neo noir anthology film all interlaced into one piece.

The kernel of the movie centres around a flesh-baring Eva Green as femme fatale Ava Lord who manipulates her former lover and world weary Dwight (Josh Brolin) to help her out; fashioned around this tale of sex, lies and betrayal is a story about Joseph Gordon Levitt's card shark Johnny out for revenge on Powers Boothe's corrupt senator and Jessica Alba's Nancy seeking to finish off what started years ago with "That Yellow Bastard".

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For continues the cinematic trend laid down by the first flick a decade ago - through a sleazy world brought to life in all its monochrome glory, with splashes of colour - and even brings some welcome new additions in the form of a vampy and trampy Eva Green, who provides much needed life to this second outing which sags into tedium at times despite its shallowly stylistic exterior.

Green's perhaps one of the only reasons that the second works in places; her seductively exposed energy fizzles the black and white world with colour (particularly her green eyes) and sparkles in among the moody lurid stylings painted up on the screen. Noir has thrived on the femme fatale trope, and Green certainly earns her place in the pantheon of the past. But she's one of only two well written women in the piece (along with Alba's troubled exotic dancer Nancy) and the film feels bereft when it shifts its compromised morals to other targets and stories.

Stylistically, Rodriguez carries on the great work pioneered nearly a decade ago, with bold colors imbuing the cinematic palette with striking visuals; reds, greens and blues jump out of the monochrome world and give the eyes a dazzling feast to gorge upon. But it's nowhere near as visually bold as it was many years ago, and unfortunately leads to some of the feeling that Sin City : A Dame to Kill For is simply going through the motions.

The old timers from the first get varying degrees of success in their second outings with Rourke's Marv being the best served. But Willis' Hartigan is denied much time and as such, being a pivotal driving force for the narrative of the final serving, the emotional impetus is weakened by his relative absence.

Granted, there's some life in these streets (Eva Green, a cameo from Christopher Lloyd as a heroin using doctor, Gordon-Levitt as the card shark) but there's just not quite enough to breathe any kind of real cinematic colour into the stylishly created black and white world of Sin City.


The Lost Lords release date unveiled

The Lost Lords release date unveiled

The second part of TellTale Games Game Of Thrones series will release on February 3rd.

Based on the award-winning HBO television drama series, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester. Caught up in the events of The War of the Five Kings, they are placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house from meeting its doom. 

"The Lost Lords," the second episode in the critically-acclaimed game series, will be available Tuesday, February 3rd on PC and Mac from the Telltale Online Store, Steam, and other digital distribution services, and on the PlayStation®Network for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. The episode will be available on Wednesday, February 4th on the Xbox Games Store for Xbox One® and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The series will also be coming to compatible iOS devices via the App Store on Thursday, February 5th and to compatible Android-based devices. 

The game series is based on the world, characters and events seen in HBO's TV show, which in turn is based on George R. R. Martin's books (A Song of Ice and Fire). The events in the game series begin towards the end of Season Three of the series, and end right before the beginning of Season Five. Players will visit familiar locations such as King's Landing and The Wall, as well as unfamiliar locations such as Ironrath, the home of House Forrester.

House Forrester is a noble house from the Wolfswood in the north of Westeros. Bannermen to House Glover, they have always offered unswerving loyalty to the ruling great house of the North - the Starks. The Forresters are seated at Ironrath, an imposing stronghold surrounded by towering ironwood trees. Built over fifteen hundred years ago by Cedric Forrester and his triplet sons, Ironrath is a testament to the strength and endurance of ironwood. The Forrester house words are 'Iron from Ice', which echoes their belief that - like the ironwood itself - the adverse conditions and unforgiving landscape of the North only makes them stronger.

The game will be played from five different points of view. Each is a member of House Forrester; either a direct family member, or a person in service to the House. Scattered across Westeros and Essos, each will play their part in seeking to save House Forrester from destruction.

Playing as five characters not only reflects the epic scope of Game of Thrones, but is also something that the player needs to be mindful of. This is because the actions of one character can ripple out to affect the rest of House Forrester. Multiply the actions of one character by five, and you're truly playing the Game of Thrones... where you win, or you die.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World: DVD Review

Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World: DVD Review

Released by Madman Home Ent

One of the best musical docos from last year, Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World is essential home viewing material for anyone who experienced the 80s boom of the UK music scene.

New romanticism was at its heights but even more than that, Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World is a look at the journey of five working lads from the UK who became global sensations thanks to songs like Gold and True, as well as anthem Through The Barricades.

Expertly weaving together a plethora of archive footage as well as commentary from Tony Hadley and the rest of the band, Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World is a riveting watch.

Simply told, and with an energy that catches a music scene in gestation and a band in ultimate birth, this doco should have broader appeal than just what you will know about the group. The only time the film stumbles slightly is when it concentrates on the cracks and fall-out within the group over writing, but it's a brief falter before a final musical flourish.

Director George Hencken's to be commended for this - Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World should have had a wider audience than it did. Now here's hoping a small screen release will prove as infectious to the masses as Spandau's greatest hits.


Elder Scrolls Online launches for next gen consoles

Elder Scrolls Online launches for next gen consoles


No Game Subscription Required for Console, PC or Mac

21st January, 2015 (London, UK) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax® Media company, today announced that its long awaited, award-winning multiplayer roleplaying game, The Elder Scrolls OnlineTamriel Unlimited, will release worldwide on 9th June, 2015 for the PlayStation®4 system and Xbox One®, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft. For the first time in history, players will explore the legendary world of Tamriel with their friends on console. In the latest and biggest Elder Scrolls game ever made, players will be able to adventure alone, quest with friends, or join an army of hundreds in epic player vs. player battles as they explore and discover the secrets of a persistent Tamriel.

We are also pleased to announce that The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited players will no longer be required to pay a monthly game subscription for extended play. Players will make a one-time purchase of the game and can then enjoy hundreds of hours of content without the requirement of a monthly game subscription fee when The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited becomes available on console in June and beginning 17th March for PC/Mac players.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited includes all the great gameplay from the original PC/Mac game, plus all the updates and content additions, including the exciting new Justice and Champion systems.  All existing PC/Mac game accounts, open or closed, will be updated to the Tamriel Unlimited edition in March and former players will be invited back to the game at that time to experience all that is new in the world. New players will make a one-time purchase of the game and play, without restrictions, for as long as they like – without game subscription fees. Tamriel Unlimited will be supported with special, optional downloadable content available for purchase and an in-game Crown Store for convenience and customization items. Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players to enjoy free of additional charges.

In addition, Bethesda will offer ESO Plus™ to players who wish to pay a single monthly charge for  a premium membership service, providing exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns to use in the store and access to all DLC game packs while a member. PC/Mac players with active subscriptions on 17th March will be automatically enrolled into ESO Plus and begin enjoying its membership privileges. 

“Our fans are our biggest inspiration, and we’ve listened to their feedback on the entertainment experience they want,” said Matt Firor, Game Director of The Elder Scrolls Online. “We know that Elder Scrolls fans want choice when it comes to how they play and how they pay, and that is what they will get. We have made numerous changes to the game over the past year, and are confident this is a game that Elder Scrolls fans will love to play. Players can explore Tamriel with friends, battle creatures, craft, fish, steal, or siege. The choice is theirs. The game offers hundreds of hours of gameplay with unlimited adventures with one single game purchase. We can’t wait for everyone, whether they’ve played before or will be experiencing it for the first time, to begin adventuring in The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.”  

For more information on the different ways players will be able to experience The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, please visit:  

The Elder Scrolls Online, named Best Role Playing Game at E3 2013 by the Game Critics, was released for PC/Mac on 4thApril, 2014. The previous chapter in this franchise was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® which was released in November 2011 and enjoyed worldwide critical and commercial success. As the sequel to the 2002 Role-Playing Game of the Year, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind®, and the 2006 Game of the Year, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®Skyrim earned hundreds of ‘Game of the Year’ awards and sold over 20 million copies.

A Thousand Times Goodnight: Movie Review

A Thousand Times Goodnight: Movie Review

Cast: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Director: Erik Poppe

Mixing melodrama with some visceral war imagery, A Thousand Times Goodnight stars Juliette Binoche as top photojournalist Rebecca whose life-long obsession is challenged by her job and her home-life.

As the film starts, Poppe throws Rebecca deep into the belly of the beast as she's embedded with a group of women in Kabul, one of whose number is about to martyr themselves for the cause. Persuading the women to take her along with them, Rebecca's suddenly hit with the true horror of what's about to transpire in the packed market place and panics, setting an explosive situation in motion.

Recovering at home, she suddenly finds her once-accepting husband Marcus (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) isn't so keen for her to risk her life for her job, with a young family needing their mother.

But Rebecca's driven by the passion she feels for the subject, and finding her daughter's inherited some of that, soon faces an awful choice.

Blending autobiographical elements from his time as a photographer and journo, Poppe's pulled together some potent imagery in A Thousand Times Goodnight; none more so than the opening sequence in Kabul (which is nowhere near matched elsewhere in the film).

Once the dust settles on a truly horrifically gripping situation, Poppe settles more for a fraught domestic scene and a debate around the ethics and morals of those capturing war - and it's here that the film starts to lose some of its original trappings and becomes more a drama of consequence and some eloquence, thanks in large part to Binoche's earnest turn as Rebecca.

In fact, it's no small miracle that Binoche carries the banal domestic trappings and unsurprising homestead arguments with her performance; there are very real signs that Rebecca's inner conflict and initial detached nature are at war; they simmer away, raging and thanks to an understated turn, Binoche convinces.

Which is perhaps just as well, as A Thousand Times Goodnight really has nowhere original to go once the carnage and surprise of the opening has settled. It's a shame that the workmanlike pace keeps the predictable story rattling on but fails to really deliver an emotional gut punch which is called for.

Solid support come from Coster-Waldau and Lauryn Canny as the daughter, but A Thousand Times Goodnight is Binoche's film, first and foremost. It's just a shame that nothing really lives up to its bravura and tense opening.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

New Ride trailer launches

New Ride trailer launches

Here's your latest look at Ride, the new game coming very soon on March 20th.

Made by Milestones development studio in Italy, the developers are tearing up the rulebook and bringing a
raft of new ideas to the table.

Created for the players and building on the experiences of the serried ranks of bike fans, the game features the most eminent manufacturers and their most famous and prestigious models, offering the players the chance to ride over 100 bikes in 4 different categories - Superbikes, Supersports, Naked and Historical Bikes.

In RIDE, the player will travel the world, visiting exclusive motorbike festivals and joining challenging race events. With every race, the players increasing reputation will allow them to challenge the best riders in the world, be invited to more Motorike Festivals and collect your favorite bikes

Official Call of Duty(r): Advanced Warfare - Exo Zombies Gameplay Trailer

 Official Call of Duty(r): Advanced Warfare - Exo Zombies Gameplay Trailer

Watch gameplay from the new Exo Zombies mode, starring John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan, and Jon Bernthal. Exo Zombies is included with Havoc, the first DLC pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Havoc, the first DLC pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, releases January 28th on Xbox LIVE with other platforms to follow.  Season Pass is also available and gives you access to all 4 map packs at a discounted rate

Dead Snow 2: Blu Ray Review

Dead Snow 2: Blu Ray Review

Rating: R18
Released by Madman Home Ent

Dead Snow was one of the freshest zombie films for a while.

With its potent mix of horror tropes and Nazi zombies, it was a clever and inventive take and a mash up of genres that made you wonder why it'd never been done before.

However, Dead Snow 2 pales into comparison with the first.

The sequel picks up from where the last film ended with sole survivor Martin escaping the hordes on the hill but finding his connection to Colonel Herzog, the leader of the undead Nazis, continues thanks to a surgeon who's sown the leader's zombie arm onto him.

After he escapes, Martin has to contend with the police trying to track him down for the murders on the hill - but things get more complicated when the zombie hordes reveal their true reason for being.

A completely unnecessary comedy sequel, Dead Snow 2 has more of the emphasis on the humour than the horror. The end result is that the film suffers because it fails to match the brilliance and horror of the first. This is splatter comedy of the silliest order, a trait none more apparent than when the Zombie Squad shows up (a trio of comedy nerds from America) and the script relies on lazy stereotypes and one-liners.

Granted, the comedy's clearly the push for the sequel, with plot-holes and sense going out the window in favour of some admittedly great sight gags (exploding mums with prams providing the zaniest) but director Tommy Wirkola's effectively killed this franchise by even expanding it in the first place.

Disappointing, patchy and taken with a large pinch of salt, this undead release doesn't really deserve the mantel of Dod Sno - while the comedy amuses in parts, the lack of coherency really does drag this movie down into mediocrity.


Borderlands announced for Next Gen

Borderlands announced for Next Gen

Borderlands®: The Handsome Collection™ Coming to Next-Gen Consoles on March 26, 2015
Pre-order the very limited Claptrap-in-a-Box Edition today to secure a collectible remote controlled Claptrap

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #BorderlandsHC

Sydney, Australia - January 21, 2015 – 2K and Gearbox Software today announced Borderlands®: The Handsome Collection™, bringing the critically-acclaimed series to next-gen consoles for the first time and offering the complete story of the franchise’s most iconic villain, Handsome Jack. The Handsome Collection includes Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel along with all of the downloadable content for both titles* - over $300 of value on prior-gen consoles, but now with the high performance and graphical fidelity of next-gen consoles for only AUD$99.95. The Handsome Collection will launch in Australia and New Zealand on March 26, 2015, on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft.

For the first time on a console, players can experience Borderlands 2 and/or Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel in HD - looking better than ever before. With The Handsome CollectionBorderlands fans can also continue their adventure right where they left off by transferring their saved files to the next-gen consoles with new cross-save functionality**. After hours of shooting-n-looting in Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel on prior gen consoles, players can carry their leveled-up characters and Badass Rank over to The Handsome Collection. Additionally, up to four players can play together on a single television with four-player split screen - another first for the franchise.

The Handsome Collection gives players the opportunity to experience the full arc of Handsome Jack’s rise and fall, from his not-so-humble beginnings on Elpis to becoming the tyrannical Hyperion CEO on Pandora, all in one value-packed bundle,” said Christoph Hartmann, President of 2K. “This collection marks the Borderlands franchise’s official move to the next-gen platforms, and we’re proud to offer our fans the ability to continue playing with the characters they’ve built as they carry on adventuring in The Handsome Collection.”

2K and Gearbox Software also announced today a very limited collector’s edition, the Borderlands: The Handsome CollectionClaptrap-in-a-Box Edition, which will include everything in The Handsome Collection as well as a remote controlled Claptrap steward robot, a collectible steel case, and 12 exclusive lithographs. The Claptrap steward robot is controlled through a smartphone app and can move in all directions while balancing on one wheel. The Claptrap can also say lines in character and live stream video to a mobile device through his eye. The Claptrap-in-a-Box Edition is limited to only 5,000 units worldwide and is available to pre-order starting today at participating retailers for $499.95 For more details on the Claptrap-in-a-Box Edition as well as The Handsome Collection, please visit the official Borderlands blog here:

Key features in The Handsome Collection include the following:

·         Two critically acclaimed Borderlands games in one package – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2;
·         Over $300 in value and hundreds of hours of gameplay with all downloadable content* for Borderlands 2 andBorderlands: The Pre-Sequel;
·         Save transfers** from the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and PlayStation®Vita onto the next-gen consoles through cross-save functionality;
·         Four-player split screen allowing four friends to play together on a single television, a first for the Borderlandsfranchise.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection will be available on March 24, 2015 in North America and on March 26, 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, for Xbox One and PlayStation®4 system. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is rated MA15+ in Australia and R16 in New Zealand. For more information, please visit the official Borderlands web site, follow @borderlands and @2K_ANZ on twitter, become a fan of Borderlands on Facebook, and subscribe to theBorderlands channel on YouTube.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Theory of Everything: Film Review

The Theory of Everything: Film Review

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis
Director: James Marsh

The Theory of Everything (complete with Oscar nominations for Redmayne and writer and Kiwi Anthony McCarten) is the story of Stephen Hawking, an extraordinary life and the love between Hawking and his wife Jane (the also Oscar-nominated Felicity Jones).

Starting with Hawking's life at uni, the story weaves in love with Hawking's attraction to the apparently opposite Jane (she believes in a God, he doesn't) before threatening to derail this love story with the crippling diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.

Fresh from Golden Globes success for Eddie Redmayne and now an Oscar nomination, The Theory of Everything is already starting to gain critical mass as it circles the front-runner for awards season.

It's easy to see why - the prestige biopic has an unbelievable lead who transcends and transforms into the role of Stephen Hawking so easily that you barely notice any more that it's Redmayne. (It's a similar transformation which Daniel Day Lewis achieved in My Left Foot way back when)

Which is a good - and bad - thing here.

From Redmayne's initial appearance as the Austin Powers-like Oxbridge boy through to the chair-bound Hawking, he's a commanding presence, pulling in some of the more mischievous elements of the physicist (a sly wit, an obsession with Penthouse) and giving more than he ever could with just a few facial twitches or movements. There's no denying the commitment to and transformation of the role here and no taking away from the fact that Redmayne's performance will be hard to beat this year.

Equally, Felicity Jones brings a subtlety as Hawking's wife Jane. Hers is a turn of quiet compassion, growing frustration and aching sympathy as Jane deals with every blow that comes her way during this relationship piece. In fact, it's really a film of two halves with the first half being Hawking's story and the second being all about Jane as she fights an attraction to a helper and a growing chasm in her marriage.

But curiously, the performances are perhaps the two elements that shine out in what really is a well-polished but incredibly ordinary movie; it has a warmth and heart but doesn't have the emotional pull that you'd expect or hope for when studying such an inspirational life as it goes through all the emotional moments like a checklist.

The beats of the story follow the well-worn and predictable path of telemovie fodder (there's good news and then the next shot sees something bad threaten to derail it all) as it treads the path of convention. This is not necessarily a bad thing given how beautifully shot and framed it all is, but in among all the loveliness and transcendant performances, the slavish mawkish elements of the script and storyline (replete with piano music here and there) unfortunately conspire to try and ground two stellar performances in tropes that you've seen all too often. (Though a sequence where Stephen's trying to talk to Jane at the end and be his most honest is heartbreaking given that it can only be done through a computer)

While not packing quite the emotional pull you'd come to expect, The Theory of Everything is buoyed by two terrific performances that helps elevate the prestige and beautifully shot flick from the predictably sentimental story.


Monday, 19 January 2015

The Purge: Anarchy: Blu Ray Review

The Purge: Anarchy: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

After the success of the claustrophobic housebound set The Purge, it was inevitable there would be a sequel.

And here it is - this time, swapping the indoors for the outside world and a glimpse at an America where for 12 hours all crime is government sanctioned and approved. Within reason.

In this latest, the switch from the rich of Ethan Hawke's home to those struggling to make ends meet is a noticeably smart move; a chance to see how the other half live when the chips are down and to further a conspiracy that America does the purge to oppress the masses.

Unfortunately what transpires is a disparate group of three sets of unfortunates finds their lives thrown together when they encounter each other down town; there's the poor sisters whose father's disappeared, the middle class brats who are on the verge of splitting and a man who appears to be using the Purge to avenge a death.

What follows though is a series of over-use of slow mo, lots of explosions and gunfire in among the relative incoherence of the story. It's the lulls which really cripple this Purge though - having set a large canvas in place, those in charge appear to be running scared from it.While the action is largely engaging the slower moments dull the momentum and ultimately, this Purge is less anarchic than its title would have promised.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Big School: DVD Review

Big School: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by BBC and Roadshow Home Ent

David Walliams' return to sitcom feels like something from a bygone era.

Walliams stars as teacher Keith Church who falls for new school recruit, Sarah (played by Catherine Tate), the French teacher brought in after the previous one died. The six part series follows the fraught attempt at courtship and the inanities of teaching at a school. (Organising a talent contest, Ironman entries, trip to France just a few of the situations the pair find themselves in)

To apparent comic effect.

Which is odd because Big School hits hardly any of the comic heights it aspires to, thanks to a script and punchlines which wouldn't feel out of place in the 1970s pantheon of great British comedies.

Big School is tried and tested formulaic gentle sitcom and while Tate and Walliams give their all to these deluded characters, they unfortunately begin to grate in their naivete. Granted there's a heart in this piece, but as a big sitcom with some big names, it all appears to be unfortunately rather trying.

As a school report may say of this show- Must try harder.


Newstalk ZB Review - American Sniper, Birdman, Into The Storm

Newstalk ZB Review - American Sniper, Birdman, Into The Storm

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Into The Storm: Blu Ray Review

Into The Storm: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

The law of averages says a disaster film has to contain the following elements:

Nature in its full FX fury, people exclaiming they've never seen anything like it, people making extremely stupid decisions which are life-threatening in the face of danger - and a journey of redemption in the face of self-sacrifice.

Thankfully, Into The Storm contains all of those - and very little else.

Set in America (where else), in the city of Silverton, there are more than actual tornadoes going off over one day - there are emotional tornadoes lurking at every turn.

The action focuses on a group of storm chasers, headed up by Matt Walsh's Pete, whose number also includesThe Walking Dead star Sarah Wayne Callies'Allison. With the threat of funding being ripped from them after a miserable season, Pete's determined to get the money shot, putting the desire to succeed ahead of the feelings of his crew.

Elsewhere, Richard Armitage's school teacher Gary is trying to pull together the class for an outside graduation, while negotiating problems with his sons, Donny and Trey. And finally into that mix, there are a couple of Jackass loving, Youtube video creating daredevil idiots who are wandering around Silverton, filming.

All of this is the calm before the storm hits...

Into The Storm is exactly what you'd expect - as outlined above, it hits all the tropes and expectations of the genre but falls apart massively when it comes to the one-dimensional characters and their problems. Everyone's practically toting a hand-held camera in this as well, as the powers that be try and use the found footage genre to their advantage, but which slows the pace down as everybody stops to record every few minutes.

Visually, when the storms hit 30 minutes in, the FX work is stunningly well-realised and the destruction is calm and measured, rather than relying on overtly OTT shots (even if potentially some of the science may be a bit shonky). There's a relief when the storms finally hit, because the build up is slow, plodding and distinctly uninteresting. However, Quale (Final Destination 5) chooses to keep cutting away from the destruction (or it just peters out inexplicably) which frustrates, but keeps within the found footage genre. Additionally, the sound was incredibly under-utilized with the effects sounding like they were in a wind-tunnel rather than the fury of nature.

There are hints that sequels are planned (one scientist intones that these storms happen once every few years, rather than once every lifetime - and what could happen if it hits a city like LA or Chicago?) but it's possibly tele-event material ahead for this franchise, rather than long term accolades like with Twister. If the series could find some danger and an edge (it refuses steadfastly to kill off one character when the emotional weight of doing so would lift this much higher up) it could deliver more. (Kudos to the writer who penned the line delivered to Sarah Wayne Callies' character that it's like a zombie apocalypse out there...)

Ultimately, Into The Storm blows a lot of hot air, but delivers a washed-out fizzer rather than a weather-bomb.


Extras: Tornado files, FX recreation, car break down

Critics Choice Award winners 2015

Critics Choice Award winners 2015

Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory Of Everything

Michael Keaton – Birdman
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
David Oyelowo – Selma
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory Of Everything

Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory Of Everything
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into The Woods
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood
Ansel Elgort – The Fault In Our Stars
Mackenzie Foy – Interstellar
Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent
Tony Revolori – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Quvenzhane Wallis – Annie
Noah Wiseman – The Babadook

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into The Woods

Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay – Selma
David Fincher – Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Inarritu – Birdman
Angelina Jolie – Unbroken

Birdman – Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory Of Everything – Anthony McCarten
Unbroken – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Wild – Nick Hornby

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman
Interstellar – Hoyte Van Hoytema
Mr. Turner – Dick Pope
Unbroken – Roger Deakins

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen/Production Designer, Anna Pinnock/Set Decorator
Birdman – Kevin Thompson/Production Designer, George DeTitta Jr./Set Decorator
Inherent Vice – David Crank/Production Designer, Amy Wells/Set Decorator
Interstellar – Nathan Crowley/Production Designer, Gary Fettis/Set Decorator
Into The Woods – Dennis Gassner/Production Designer, Anna Pinnock/Set Decorator
Snowpiercer – Ondrej Nekvasil/Production Designer, Beatrice Brentnerova/Set Decorator

Birdman – Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione
Boyhood – Sandra Adair
Gone Girl – Kirk Baxter
Interstellar – Lee Smith
Whiplash – Tom Cross

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
Into The Woods – Colleen Atwood
Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard
Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Guardians Of The Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Into The Woods

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Edge Of Tomorrow
Guardians Of The Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

The Lego Movie
Big Hero 6
The Book Of Life
The Boxtrolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2

Guardians Of The Galaxy
American Sniper
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge Of Tomorrow

Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Tom Cruise – Edge Of Tomorrow
Chris Evans – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Brad Pitt – Fury
Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy

Emily Blunt – Edge Of Tomorrow
Scarlett Johansson – Lucy
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Zoe Saldana – Guardians Of The Galaxy
Shailene Woodley – Divergent

The Grand Budapest Hotel
St. Vincent
Top Five
22 Jump Street

Michael Keaton – Birdman
Jon Favreau – Chef
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Bill Murray – St. Vincent
Chris Rock – Top Five
Channing Tatum – 22 Jump Street

Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Rose Byrne – Neighbors
Rosario Dawson – Top Five
Melissa McCarthy – St. Vincent
Kristen Wiig – The Skeleton Twins

The Babadook
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Under The Skin

Force Majeure
Two Days, One Night
Wild Tales

Life Itself
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Last Days In Vietnam
The Overnighters

Glory – Common/John Legend – Selma
Big Eyes – Lana Del Rey – Big Eyes
Everything Is Awesome – Jo Li And The Lonely Island – The Lego Movie
Lost Stars – Keira Knightley – Begin Again
Yellow Flicker Beat – Lorde – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Antonio Sanchez – Birdman
Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson – The Theory Of Everything
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Gone Girl
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar

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