Sunday, 31 May 2015

Unbroken: Blu Ray Review

Unbroken: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

The fact that after a gruelling 2 hours and 20 minutes director Angelina Jolie chose to endUnbroken with a Coldplay song (Miracles) speaks volumes to what she's trying (and just failing) to strive for here with this passion project.

Unbroken is the remarkably powerful (in parts) true story of Louis "Louie" Zamperini (Starred Up's Jack O'Connell) an immigrant whose fortunes changed for the worst when he was shot down during a 1943 bombing raid. With only two fellow survivors, the former Olympic athlete Zamperini survived 47 days lost at sea only to be rescued by the Japanese and thrown into a Prisoner of War camp and consequently brutalised by the guard's sneering commandant (Miyavi).

Aiming for inspirational but thanks to the over-use of bon mots such as "Forgive the sin, smile on the sinner" and "If I can take it, I can make it" (a couple of many sayings espoused rather thickly at the beginning), Unbroken is a curious beast, preferring to go for cliche and many war film tropes rather than demonstrate directorial flair.

The first half is unwisely consumed with Zamperini's running (something akin to Chariots of Fireas he pounds the track and trounces both the opposition and timings) and talking philosophy, cooking and religion while being lost at sea in a surreal spin on Life Of Pi. It's a move which nearly fatally derails the film; while the intention is clearly to demonstrate how Zamperini is a true survivor and was at his lowest when he was subjected to even more in the camps.

However, if Jolie had perhaps restrained that hour and peppered it more with flashbacks, it may have worked; particularly given how powerful and horrific some of the imagery she commands in the second half is, showing her eye for the gruesome detail.

It's ironic because the second half of Unbroken which focuses on Zamperini's internment is actually where the power of the film lies but the confines of the genre and the cliches come to the fore.

The real issue is the focus of the film - it's so squarely on Zamperini that nobody else gets a look in; the camp leader known as the Bird (played by Miyavi) is your dyed-in-the-wool bad guy and all those around Zamperini (colleagues, crew-members) are so lightly written and sketched that they barely register on the dramatic scale.

Thankfully, O'Connell continues to show why he's a fast rising star by giving Zamperini the pluck, resilience and humanity needed while enduring what he's had to. There's no denying that Louie suffered greatly and was denied the closure he needed as his war experiences accrued; and there's also no denying that O'Connell imbues his character with a much needed in point to help endure the occasionally over-wrought and lumpen drama.

I had wanted to leave Unbroken with a sense of inspiration; what I left feeling is that it was more a conventional war film that I had to endure in parts rather than salute the spirit of a man who suffered more than any human ever should.


Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Imitation Game: Blu Ray Review

The Imitation Game: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Perhaps it's fitting that a movie about the cracking of the Enigma code tries to serves up the cracking of a character who's an enigma himself to many.

Benedict Cumberbatch is Alan Turing in this biopic that never really scratches the surface of the character as it chooses to concentrate on Turing and his peers trying to save the day at Bletchley Park during World War II.

The film starts with Turing being investigated by police (headed up by sympathetic Rory Kinnear) after a burglary at his home - Turing's stand-offish behaviour and insistence that nothing's been stolen actually provokes the police to dig deeper into the case and his background.

While the kernel of the story focuses on Turing's initiation into the Bletchley Park world and his inability to work with others thanks to a sense of superiority, flashbacks to Turing's early days and love at a boarding school and flashforwards to the police investigation dizzy up the narrative, that's swamped with newsreel footage of the war effort and Hitler's relentless push towards dear old Blighty.

And that's the majority of the problem of The Imitation Game.

The first half of the film is formulaic, by-the-numbers Oscar-baiting period piece which lacks a frisson of excitement and a depth of character. While Cumberbatch soars as Turing (more on that in a moment), those who swirl around him are lazy stereotypes ripped from a Boys' Own novella.

There's the suave mysterious head of an unknown MI6 (Mark Strong), the suave cad that clashes with Turning (played by Matthew Goode), the military leader who answers to nobody but Churchill (Charles Dance) and the woman who's better than the men (Keira Knightley) - all of these are simply sketched dancers who pirouette around Turing's troubled genius and ultimately, end up dancing to the mad man's tune.

But amongst it all is a truly impressive character turn by the chameleonic Benedict Cumberbatch. To say that he inhabits the role and overtakes the screen is a massive understatement. Essentially playing a variant of Sherlock's intellectual superiority, inability to suffer those whom he perceives as fools and arrogance with a dash of A Beautiful Mind's genius thrown in, Cumberbatch's fiery genius Turing tears up the screen - but at the cost of those around him unfortunately, who thanks to formulaic underwriting fare less well.

And it is parts of the writing that really make the film suffer; the flashbacks to the youth and flashforwards narratively don't mesh and integrate as well as they could, leaving a dramatic frisson and depth unexplored. Equally, Turning's homosexuality is merely subtly hinted at which is fine for some but for a picture that aims to expunge history's view of him seems like a major oversight thanks to hints and broad brush strokes. The single moment of drama only comes with the cracking of the Enigma code - though you suspect here the drama is piled on for drama's sake and artistic licence.

The Imitation Game really feels like an imitation of a formulaic biopic; there are manipulative moments of swelling music that seek to orchestrate your feelings and the decision to hold off from truly delving deeply into its subject proves to be a crippling flaw. It's only thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch's dizzyingly mesmeric turn that the film rises out of a potential mire.


Friday, 29 May 2015

Batman Arkham Knight - When We Go To War

Batman Arkham Knight - When We Go To War

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today released a new gameplay video for Batman: Arkham Knight.  The Official Batman: Arkham Knight Gameplay Video – “Time To Go To War” is a continuation of the Official Batman: Arkham Knight Gameplay Video – “Officer Down.” See more of the Dark Knight in action in this extended gameplay walkthrough, as he pays a visit to Scarecrow’s safe house and battles the forces of the Arkham Knight’s militia. 

Batman: Arkham Knight is based on DC Comics’ core Batman license and will be available in New Zealand on June 24, 2015 exclusively for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system,Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and Windows PC. 

Batman: Arkham Knight brings the award-winning Batman: Arkham trilogy from Rocksteady Studios to its epic conclusion. Developed exclusively for the new generation of consoles and PCs,Batman: Arkham Knight introduces Rocksteady's uniquely designed version of the Batmobile. The highly anticipated addition of this legendary vehicle, combined with the acclaimed gameplay of the Batman: Arkham series, offers gamers the ultimate and complete Batman experience as they tear through the streets and soar across the skyline of the entirety of Gotham City. In this explosive finale, Batman faces the ultimate threat against the city that he is sworn to protect, as Scarecrow returns to unite the super criminals of Gotham City and destroy the Batman forever.

Aloha: Film Review

Aloha: Film Review

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride, John Krasinski
Director: Cameron Crowe

Hawai'i is a place for dreamers, so perhaps it's pertinent that Almost Famous director Cameron Crowe dreamed up this latest redemption flick and set it in the islands.

Assembling a multi-talented cast as well would appear to be the icing on the cake in this flick, which centres around Bradley Cooper's blue-eyed, lost at sea morally, defence contractor, Brian Gilcrest, who's brought to the islands to oversee negotiations of the blessing of a gateway for a new airfield.

However, when Brian heads back, he finds himself surrounded by his ex, Tracy (a woefully under-used and under-written McAdams) and under the charge of hotshot, star-in-ascendant Air Force pilot Alison Ng (a perky Emma Stone).

Thrown into that mix is billionaire private sector contractor Carson Welch (Bill Murray) whom Brian is now working for and who may have slightly-less-than-altruistic reasons for being on the island - will Brian find the redemption he needs?

With dialogue that seems like it's written more for the page than to be spoken, Cameron Crowe's latest is somewhat of a muddle. Mixing Hawai'ian mysticism in as Gilcrest negotiates with the islanders (a series of scenes which seem to be ripped from a tourism video in an attempt for Crowe to Show me the mana rather than fully develop them) and domestic twaddle, Crowe's badly misfired with the heart and soul of this piece.

The problem is that the characters almost feel like caricatures for the most part, espousing dialogue that feels unnatural and is a perception of how relationships should be - particularly for Ng and Gilcrest whose future is never anything but assured.

Equally, McBride's character, Fingers, is so called because he twitches his fingers repeatedly, a bolted on quirk to little else; Baldwin's General is essentially a frustrated drill-sergeant; Murray is a weird presence lurking on the sidelines, Krasinski is near-silent (something that works to the story's advantage it has to be admitted) and McAdams is merely a plot device to enable Cooper's Gilcrest to his final moment of clarity.

An ongoing "is he the father" story element is fudged, glossed over and resolution shoe-horned in so much that it has re-write and re-shoot written all over it; just one of the scripted moments that should have emotion in but don't manage to do so.

In amongst the spiritual leanings of Aloha and the great soundtrack, there's nothing iconic or long-lasting in Crowe's story, the likes of which he has penned before; it's meandering fluff of the highest order that has glaring tonal lurches and "do the right thing" written all over it but it never feels like a journey, merely a formulaic path to a screen-writer's perception of an emotional arc.

No Aloha indeed.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

NZIFF Live Cinema announced

NZIFF Live Cinema announced

Live Cinema Shines at The Civic
Because more is never enough, we are pleased to announce two glorious Live Cinema Events for NZIFF 2015.

Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 heart-warming classic The Kid, preceded by his 1917 short The Immigrant, amps up the delights of our annual engagement with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra; and the rarely-screened Lonesome (1928) from Hungarian director Paul Fejos, boasts a World Premiere score by New Zealand's pop maestro Lawrence Arabia with cinematic jazz ensembleCarnivorous Plant Society.

Moving, funny and affectingly personal, The Kid was Charlie Chaplin’s first feature-length film. The already world-famous Little Tramp is accompanied by a smaller, spirited foil and dependent in the form of a newsboy-capped kid (Jackie Coogan). The blend of agile physical comedy and unabashed sentiment in his portrayal of Victorian London street life is still stirring to this day, never more so than when experienced with the gloriously symphonic score Chaplin composed for the film in 1981.

The Kid is preceded by The Immigrant, one of the last shorts Chaplin made before stepping up to feature-length films, and one of his most gob-smackingly inventive. The Little Tramp causes havoc on board a crowded ship from Europe; then on the mean streets of New York.

A long buried treasure from Hollywood’s golden age, Lonesome (1928) was only unearthed in the 1980s, a remarkable piece of cinema from the little-known but audaciously creative Hungarian émigré, Paul Fejos. A lavish New York City tale set amidst the mass mania of Coney Island during the Fourth of July holiday, Lonesome pulls out all the stops for a film of its era: colour tinting, superimpositions, experimental editing, and a roving camera, plus three dialogue scenes, belatedly added to satisfy the new craze for talkies. At the heart is a winning love story - making their way through the visual pandemonium are two shy and lonely young city folk falling in love.

New Zealand's pop maestro Lawrence Arabia will be joined by cinematic jazz ensemble Carnivorous Plant Society to perform a World Premiere score for Lonesome.

Tickets for our one-off screenings of The Kid and Lonesome are now on sale through Ticketmaster (links below) and at the Civic box office.
The Kid
USA 1921 | 68 minutes | G cert
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema at NZIFF drinks from the headwaters of classic cinema with a pair of Charlie Chaplin masterpieces. The moving, funny and affectingly personal The Kid is preceded by one of his most anarchic shorts, The Immigrant, in which the penniless Tramp wreaks brilliantly choreographed chaos in a restaurant.

Marc Taddei conducts Chaplin’s own gloriously symphonic score for The Kid, as arranged by Carl Davis, and a feisty new score for The Immigrant by Timothy Brock.

Sunday 2 August at 6.00pm, Civic Theatre
USA 1928 | 69 minutes | G cert
New Zealand indie pop maestro Lawrence Arabia and collaborators Carnivorous Plant Society bring new life to a long buried treasure from 1920s New York. Unearthed in the 80s, and as kinetic as the metropolis itself, Lonesome is the creation of the little-known but remarkable Hungarian émigré Paul Fejos. Lonesome is a lavish city symphony, set amidst the mania of Coney Island during the Fourth of July holiday. Two shy and lonely young city folk meet, fall for each other, then get separated in the course of a frantic afternoon.

Sunday 26 July at 6.00pm, Civic Theatre

The full Auckland programme will be announced on the evening of Monday 22 June, with tickets on sale from Friday 26 June. NZIFF screens in Auckland from 16 July to 2 August.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood: PS4 Review

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood: PS4 Review

Released by Bethesda
Platform: PS4

First person shooter meets Nazis, robotised dogs and uses big guns to deploy mayhem after stalking around various locations?


In a nutshell that's Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, the prequel to Wolfenstein: the New Order. In this lower-priced, shorter running companion piece, you reprise your role as the killing machine that is BJ Blazkowicz in this alternate history.

Your mission is to get back into Castle Wolfenstein, steal some documents which offer up secret details into a top bigwig's whereabouts and get out alive with them. Only, it doesn't quite go to plan and after one jackboot in the face, Blazkowicz finds himself trapped in the dungeons of the Castle and plotting to escape.

There's something relatively simplistic about The Old Blood, but it's utterly appealing.

Skulking around taking down Nazis that have been powered up thanks to mega suits that are attached to electrical lines is actually tremendous fun and thanks to the speedy intentions of The Old Blood, the game rattles along at a fair pace. Even the moments when the game busts out from the prison are as entertaining too, mixing B movie sensibilities with gun-blasting madness.

Graphically, the game bizarrely feels like parts of Bioshock Infinite with its first person feel and occasional steampunk sensibilities but that soon becomes a thing of the past once the blasting sets in.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood certainly feels like a breezy prequel, a disposable pick up and play element being the major part of the game, but equally, if you want to invest hours in the latest escapades of Blazkowicz, there's still plenty to do and plenty of blood left in this Nazi-zombie killing series.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Guitar Hero tracks unveiled

Guitar Hero tracks unveiled

Listen up, it’s time for some more playable tracks from Guitar Hero Live!  Below you’ll find a further set of awesome songs that you’ll be able to rock out to in the game.
Be on the lookout for news about all the great music coming to Guitar Hero Live. You can also visit and to check out the latest. Here are the next ten:
Halestorm - “Love Bites (So Do I)”
Tenacious D - “Tribute”
Beartooth - “I Have A Problem”
Pearl Jam - “Mind Your Manners”
Rise Against - “Tragedy + Time”
Soundgarden - “Been Away Too Long”
Anthrax - “Got The Time”
Architects - “Gravedigger”
Chevelle - “The Clincher”
A Day To Remember - “Right Back At It Again”

New Assets released for Disney Infinity 3.0

New Assets released for Disney Infinity 3.0

New Assets and Information Released For Disney Infinity 3.0’s
Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic Play Set

Avalanche Software and Ninja Theory Partner to Deliver Star Wars™ Gameplay
Experience That Brings Lightsaber™ Duels to a New Level
MELBOURNE, Aust. – (May 26, 2014) Disney Interactive today released new assets and information for Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic, one of the three Star Wars™ Play Sets to be released for Disney Infinity 3.0this year.   Developed by Ninja Theory, in partnership with Avalanche Software, the game is set to deliver an authentic family-friendly Star Wars game experience with enhanced combat system.

Set during the latter years of the Clone Wars, players will travel to four locations and explore open worlds of Tatooine and Coruscant, battle droids in Geonosis and partake in an epic boss battle in Naboo. Along the way, players will use the Force™ and master their Lightsaber™ skills as they fight alongside Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda to save the Republic and defeat the Separatists. 

Each Jedi character is given specialised Force combat abilities and Force finishing moves, as well as unique Lightsaber forms with powerful combo attacks. As Jedi Master Yoda, for example, players will leap into action with his agile and acrobatic prowess. Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano uses her lightning-fast dual Lightsabers to carve up Battledroids, while Darth Maul uses his double-bladed Lightsaber and power in the dark side of the Force in a death-defying duel against the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.
To access the new localised images and screenshots, please visit: 
The Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic Play Set is included in the Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack available this Winter, which also includes the Disney Infinity 3.0 Base, Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker character figures, and a web code card that unlocks content for PC and mobile devices.

Two additional Star Wars Play Sets will be available for Disney Infinity 3.0 this holiday, including Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In addition, players will be able to unlock the ability for all Star Wars characters to play inside all of the Star Wars Play Sets, as well as in the newly enhanced Toy Box, along with all characters previously released for Disney Infinity.

San Andreas: Film Review

San Andreas: Film Review

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Archie Panjabi, Kylie Minogue, Ioan Gruffud
Director: Brad Peyton

It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

But in San Andreas' case, it ain't over till the American flag is unfurled amid the ruins of California and the words "We can rebuild" are uttered.

Channelling 1970s disaster flicks and eschewing any form of character depth, the director of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island juggles CGI falling buildings and Dwayne Johnson's innate charm as Ray, a rescue helicopter pilot trying to save his daughter from a massive West Coast earthquake.

It's not just the seismic activity on the ground Ray has to deal with though - he's on shaky ground emotionally too, with his ex Emma (Carla Gugino) who's dealt him divorce papers and is facing the prospect of his daughter Blake (Daddario) moving to college. Throw in a past haunted by the fact he couldn't save his first daughter from drowning, and Ray's a troubled man when the earth opens up, threatening to swallow whole all he loves dearly.

Add into the mix a geologist (Paul Giamatti) whose growing penchant for looking aghast, horrified and providing exposition is maximised as the number and severity of the quakes intensifies despite his warnings, and you've pretty much got all the tenets of a B movie disaster flick which used to rock our world back in the 70s like the Towering Inferno, Earthquake and The Poseidon Adventure. (Even the Hollywood sign is not immune to being torn asunder as we get ready to rubble)

Sure, depth of character is non-existent; sure, the women exist solely to be rescued (a fact that feels wasted given efforts to build Blake up early on as more than just eye candy) and sure, Emma's new partner (Forever star Grufudd) is nothing more than a slimeball when the chips are down and sure Blake's Brit love interest is a horrendous Hugh Grant stereotype initially, but you don't go to films like San Andreas for dense soliloquies and in-depth character development - you go to see carnage and to get ready to rumble.

And, for the most part, Peyton works the crumbling land masses and tall buildings assuredly (though one questions how some may feel about the film's sensitivity given recent quakes here and in Nepal) as we negotiate our ripped apart protagonists through one potential disaster to the next before reuniting them for one last perilous situation.

San Andreas is committed to its own short-comings, and it knows when to pile the patriotic cheese on.

When Johnson tells one potential victim to "get up against something sturdy", we know what his subtext is - and when he parachutes himself and his ex into a baseball field proclaiming it's "been a while since I got you to second base", there's corn aplenty. But thanks to his easy going charisma and the fact he's our go to guy in such situations, we're just about willing to commit to this cornball flick.

The seeds of a sequel are sown, thanks to Giamatti's scientist gasping that this could happen globally at any time, but as an over-bearing FX fest that tears up the screen and the West Coast of America around it, San Andreas may have its faults, but as a blockbuster, it delivers what it sets out to - nothing more and nothing less.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Project Cars: XBox One Review

Project Cars: XBox One Review

Platform: XBox One
Released by Slightly Mad Studios / Bandai Namco

"Control, control, you must learn control"

An exhortation from my youth as spoken by a Muppet in a space film, but one which is terribly relevant to Project Cars, the massive racer just unleashed by Bandai Namco and Slightly Mad Studios.

It's been an interesting year for the genre, with Driveclub now hitting its straps after a shaky start off the starting grid and with Forza Horizon 2 dominating my XBox racing time - but Project Cars is an entirely different beast and one which rewards with plenty of time investment and with dedication.

Much like a racer starting their career.

The simulator lets you work from the ground level up and build your career if you want; but if you don't care for that, the added bonus is that you can jump into the championships, grab your favourite cars and race from wherever and whenever you want.

It's this sandbox approach that the developers and community have gone for which gives Project CARS its USP. But it's punishing if you expect to simply pick up and enter the sim, because the game's centred around a realistic driving experience rather than an arcade feel a la Forza Horizon. But it's great that it has a reason to exist and to stand out, because quite simply, the reward is there for those who are willing to suffer too.

Starting off with karts is a lot harder than it seems; the slightest overtouch of acceleration or a gentle nudge the wrong way sees you spinning out of control, breaking the races rules and heading off track - it's a frustration initially that the calibration isn't suited to your driving skills and you will need time to adjust the controls to your preferred methods (just one of the modding elements that's required for you to get the utmost out of the game). Occasionally, another driver whacking into your sides causes all manner of problems and gives you the disappointment of having to go all over again.

But patience is required to get the best from the game - and it's a game that really does look stunning too. Particularly on the XBox One, the backgrounds are incredible with the sun falling over tracks like Imola and Silverstone, the grunt of the platform pays dividends, rivalling Driveclub's finer moments.

It's a win that Project CARS is all about the business of racing, rather than the grind of gearing up. There's a wealth of cars on offer, an embarrassment of vehicular riches to partake in, but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the game because you feel swamped with choice. You can stick with your favourite car, partake in championships, engage in brief one off races - there's more than enough to do here.

In some ways, this look at Project CARS is a work in progress, which will no doubt be re-reviewed later on - predominantly because the community will inform a part of it. If there are any concerns about the game, the simulation's so good that the hands off / don't need to invest in anything other than a few championships may hold a few back from playing nightly; and occasionally, I've had the game graphics drop down a notch, but it's still in the early days of it. Driveclub had way more issues on launch and Project CARS has to be applauded for not falling into the Day One problems other contemporaries have had.

As a simulator, Project CARS has set the bar high; granted, it's a little too workmanlike at times but the rewards you reap when it all comes together are dizzying. Just make sure you stick with it after the first few spin-outs - you won't regret taking these cars for a ride.


Pac Man 256 unveiled

Pac Man 256 unveiled

Developed by Melbourne’s Hipster Whale, The Legendary PAC Is Back For His 35th Anniversary!

SYDNEY, 25TH May 2015 – BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment announced its latest project: PAC-MAN 256! Developed by Melbourne’s Hipster Whale (Crossy Road) and BANDAI NAMCO Studios Vancouver, this free-to-play game will be available for smartphones and tablets in 2015.

PAC-MAN 256 allows players to enjoy a brand new genre of PAC-MAN games; the iconic character created by NAMCO in 1980 will star in an endless maze chased by the infamous “256 Glitch! Hipster Whale and BANDAI NAMCO Studios Vancouver have perfectly recaptured creator Iwatani Toru’s original PAC-MAN universe for a modern day mobile experience. Players can expect to encounter plenty of Pac-Dots, Power Pellets, and the notorious ghost ensemble: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. PAC-MAN 256 will also feature coins, power-ups and more to spice-up the thrilling pursuit.

The gaming industry keeps on growing massively on a daily basis and we, at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe, are proud to be pioneers of this with some of the biggest licenses out there! This year, we are celebrating PAC-MAN’s 35th Anniversary and we couldn’t miss such an opportunity: we decided to create a brand new exciting game with Hipster Whale and BANDAI NAMCO Studios Vancouver. This results in a stirring game based on some elements that made history. Join us in celebrating PAC-MAN’s anniversary!” said Tatsuya Kubota, Head of Mobile & Web Gaming at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe S.A.S.

We are thrilled to be working with the creators of the huge hit Crossy Road in creating a new PAC-MAN game for his 35th Anniversary. We’re already seeing incredibly strong, hooking gameplay in the early prototypes, and cannot wait to share this experience with everyone!” said Daisuke Hattori, Project Manager of PAC-MAN 256 at BANDAI NAMCO Studios Vancouver Inc.

Hipster Whale Director, Matthew Hall, who was just five years old when PAC-MAN™ was born, shared his enthusiasm about Hipster Whale collaborating with BANDAI NAMCO on PAC-MAN 256.  “Playing PAC-MAN in a seaside arcade in 1980 is one of my earliest memories. It is an incredible honor to be able to contribute to one of the most iconic video game franchises in history.  Our game, PAC-MAN 256, takes the infamous glitch level of PAC-MAN and builds upon this to become a unique game that retains the retro spirit of the original.”

F1 2015 teaser is here

F1 2015 teaser is here


Codemasters® have released the first gameplay teaser for F1 2015, the official videogame of the 2015 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™, which will now release on July 10th 2015 and be distributed by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment throughout Australia & New Zealand. This will mark the award-winning series’ debut on PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft. The game will also be available for Windows PC.

Codemasters has also announced that gamers who pre-order F1 2015 from select retailers across Australia & New Zealand will receive the exclusive pre-order items of a F1 2015 metal case and ‘Race Like A Champion’ guide book with hints and tips, while stocks last.

Operation Abyss - New release date

Operation Abyss - New release date


NIS America is announcing that the dungeon crawler RPG, Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, is arriving exclusively for PlayStation®Vita with a new release date June 12, 2015 for Australia and New Zealand. The title will be available as both a physical and digital release. Fight through the Abyss and battle against the Variants—but only if you dare!

About the game:
From the studio that made Demon Gaze comes Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, a sci-fi dungeon crawler RPG set in a near future Tokyo. With the city under the constant threat of Variants—genetically engineered monsters—and the emergence of portals leading to a mysterious dimension called the Abyss, the government has established the Code Physics Agency to investigate these mysterious phenomena. The Xth Squad—a unique group of teens modified by the CPA’s Code technology—must evade traps, face down powerful monsters, and investigate the mystery behind the Abyss.

Lost Dimension coming

Lost Dimension coming


NIS America is very excited to announce that the turn-based tactical RPG, Lost Dimension will be arriving in Australia and New Zealand on 27 August 2015 for PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®Vita as both a physical and digital release!
About the game:
To subdue the threat The End poses to the entire planet, several countries create a special forces group called S.E.A.L.E.D., which is comprised of eleven psychics with superhuman abilities. Each soldier has their own talents and skillsets to use in combat, which can be expanded after gaining enough experience in the field. Bonds of friendship will form amongst the members of S.E.A.L.E.D., but be mindful of which allies to keep close, as The End mandates the player must begin eliminating teammates. Make sure to accuse the right teammate of being a traitor though – once the final battle with The End begins any remaining traitors will fight the main character alongside him.

Key Features:
A Cataclysmic Whodunnit! – Not only will players have to keep their eyes focused on strategically defeating the enemies laying in wait on the field of combat, but they need to carefully watch party members' tendencies in order to expose the traitor. At the end of every floor, players will be forced to vote and eliminate one of their trusted allies, and the consequences for choosing incorrectly could be dire...
Spoiler-Free Zone – In addition to a variety of game mechanics to help assess teammate loyalty, Lost Dimension's traitor system is randomly determined, assuring that no two players will be faced with the same playthrough. Sorry, kiddies, but it’s impossible to look up the answers this time around.
Psychic Warlords  Each character in the party is a master of a different sphere of powers. There's the girl who controls molecular behavior to burn or freeze anything/anyone in her path. There's the guy who can teleport all around (also with the bonus superpower of being satisfyingly cocky). And there's even someone with an identity crisis because all he knows how to do is steal everyone else's powers!
Keep Your Friends Close… – In between battles, players will have the option to chat with teammates and develop closer bonds with them. Juggling these friendships and keeping track of who participates in battle will be the key to sussing out the traitors and assuring that, by the time you reach The End, it won't be... the end... for you and your allies!  

Monday, 25 May 2015

Tomorrowland: Film Review

Tomorrowland: Film Review

Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Director: Brad Bird

"Do I have to explain everything? Can't you just be amazed?"

In essence, these words spoken by George Clooney's grizzled and cantankerous Frank Walker sum up the enigma that is Tomorrowland, an engimatic mystery that promises so much and ultimately - and unfortunately -  disappoints.

The very loose story of Tomorrowland (and believe me, it's best going in unprepared as the appeal of the puzzle will be lost in endless inspection and scrutiny) centres around Britt Robertson's Casey. She's an eternal optimist, a dreamer determined to ensure the space gantry at Cape Canaveral won't be dismantled for fears of her father's unemployment. But when she's arrested and bailed for sabotage, she finds a Tomorrowland pin among her belongings. Touching the pin reveals a futuristic world to her - and she sets out to unravel the enigma of the pin, putting her on collision course with the mysterious Frank Walker.

Tomorrowland is an intriguing mix of a retro future, first pioneered by an altruistic Walt Disney who wanted the next day to be better than the last (and which ultimately led to the creation of the EPCOT centre)

And to be fair, in its visuals from Incredibles director Brad Bird, Tomorrowland certainly doesn't skimp on the spectacle, bathing the film in retro nods for the geek crowd and leaving you reminscing over 50s B movie matinees.

Every young dreamer will be taken in by the promise of Tomorrowland, a world where jetpacks are in daily use (this film launches as strong a case for George Clooney to be in a Rocketeer remake than any), monorails glide through the sky and, in one of the film's stand out FX pieces, people dive from one mid-air swimming pool to another with reckless abandon.

But ultimately, Tomorrowland is as much about smoke and mirrors as anything else.

Bird - along with co-writer Damon Lindelof  - have created a world of eternal optimism, so awash in the Disney corporate line that I'm surprised screenings don't come complete with free Koolaid to wash the "Anything is possible" lecture down. While portions of Tomorrowland extend the riddle of the central premise nicely, the ultimate reveal is a disappointment, swathed in preachy lectures of what we've done to the world, what we could do and really, what we should do in a brain-washing finale that's redolent of "I'd like to give the world a Coke"

Clooney has his moments, but his character's bitterness is never fully explained (one of the film's flaws is it doesn't exactly dump exposition on you, choosing to distract you every time a character demands to know what's going on during its 130 minute run time and leaving you clamouring for some coherent explanation of what's what); Laurie's pompous Wizard of Oz like man behind the curtain is about as unthreatening as anything Disney's ever proffered up - and it's really only Robertson's vulnerable and plucky turn as Casey which feels fleshed out, giving the film a heart and heroine which it sorely needs.

Tomorrowland is little more than the sum of its parts, a naively eternally optimistic ride that charts more lows than highs, despite the naturally dazzling visuals and cleverly comic action sequences that Bird craftily deploys.

It may end up appealing in parts to its younger audience more who have less cynicism than most, but on its occasional meandering and circuitous route to its ultimate destination, it could mean the journey isn't quite as fun and as thrilling as perhaps it could have been.


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Gemma Bovery: Film Review

Gemma Bovery: Film Review

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Lucini, Jason Flemyng, Niels Schneider
Director: Anne Fontaine

Gemma Arterton once again becomes the cinematic muse to Posy Simmonds' writing in this latest, a big screen adaptation of Gemma Bovery, which ran weekly in The Guardian back in 1999.

Lucini plays Joubert, a Frenchman obsessed with literature - and specifically Madame Bovary - in Normandy. This baker finds his life turned around when Gemma Bovery and her husband Charles (Arterton and Flemyng respectively) move into their neighbouring house.

Struck by the literary parallels between Gemma and Madame Bovary, Joubert becomes unhealthily obsessed with Gemma, and finds his interest piqued even further when she begins to drift from her own husband and into the arms of a younger man (Schneider)...

Gemma Bovery is a breezy, light piece of French fare that's gorgeous to the eye, but light on the brain.

Simmonds' cartoon/ graphic novel was all about a woman bored with life within a rural idyll and Fontaine carries this off to maximum effect with the picturesque surroundings of Normandy, and an eye for what a perfect French life would be.

Initially, there's a humour present that rumbles along nicely - mainly thanks to Joubert's overt snobbery and literary diatribes (much to the horror of his family) - but it soon diverts into your usual story of unhappiness once the seams are picked away.

Tamara Drewe star Gemma Arterton is easy on the eye throughout, a fact Fontaine is clearly aware of, stopping just short of using soft focus each time she's on screen to convey Joubert's perception of her and the idolising he does. But she occasionally brings some of the depth needed to the character to make the actress seem less of a character from a cartoon.

Which is perhaps just as well as any supporting characters outside of Bovery and Joubert get little other than a once-over-lightly; Joubert's wife is nothing short of a harpy, his son a simpering idiot and Flemyng's Charles is nothing more than a presence rather than a partner.

As light and fluffy as a cloud in the skies above the south of France, Gemma Bovery is a forgettable flick once the lights have gone up kind of movie; it's visually appealing, but offers little to the grey matter when it's over.


Noble: Film Review

Noble: Film Review

Cast: Deidre O'Kane, Sarah Greene, Nhu Quynh Nguyen
Director: Stephen Bradley

Sometimes inspirational stories and their subjects are failed by the leap to the big screen.

So it is with the well-intentioned but ultimately weakly executed Noble, a film that fails to inspire and live up to the legacy of Christina Noble, the Irish charity worker who underwent horrors in her formative years but began fighting the cause of the Vietnamese street children, leading to the creation of her children's charity foundation.

Moone Boy star (and also wife of director Bradley) Deidre O'Kane is the elder Noble who finds herself in Vietnam, after visions exhort her to do so. Exuding an irrepressible self-belief and confidence, Noble believes she can help the street children to better lives, despite the insistence of the authorities otherwise.

When Noble finds herself at a run-down orphanage after railing at God to lead her to her destiny, Noble discovers her work's cut out for her in among the sea of hands and wailing of unhappy children, wrecked by poverty and wracked by the after-effects of the likes of Agent Orange and abuse.

It's hard to describe the disappointment of Noble, a story that so fudges every major emotional beat and hides the true darkness of the abject horror that Christina went through. From her alcoholic father to her mis-treatment by nuns at the local orphanage, through to her gang-rape and consequent child being adopted out, Noble has a powerful story to espouse; a recognition of the strength of spirit in the face of such continued and sustained adversity.

But Bradley, who wrote and directed the piece, boils the whole thing down to its simplest moments, avoiding any of the true horrors from Christina Noble's book, Bridge Across My Sorrows, because it doesn't hold any truck with his attempts to please the crowd and manipulate them with piano-swelling music, aimed at telling you what to feel and when to feel it.

Some of the problem comes from drowning the film in too many flashbacks, from Christina as a young child in the grim settings of 1950s Dublin to the teen Christina dealing with disappointment and the evil that men do, without giving them space to breathe and us a chance to connect. The ebb and flow of the film doesn't help either with one-dimensional caricatures the only things to cross Christina's path.

Things get slightly better with O'Kane's venerable and charismatic turn as the compassionate Noble, giving the road to enlightenment and selflessness more a humane touch. But again, the latter stages of her journey only feel more grounded in her limited interactions with Downton Abbey's Mr Bates aka Brendan Coyle as a potential benefactor rather than the fight against immigration or the powers that be.

The fact Noble ends with Coldplay's In My Place ringing out as the camera pans back to reveal the creation of Christina's clinic and the signifying that her endless fighting and suffering has resulted in something speaks volumes to the biopic's blandness and muddled execution. It's a travesty to Noble's legacy and a shock to anyone who's expecting some kind of subtlety for this film - if you're expecting to be inspired, there are other films which would serve you better than this.


Saturday, 23 May 2015

David Bowie Is: Film Review

David Bowie Is: Film Review

Directors: Hamish Hamilton, Katy Mullan

There's no denying that David Bowie is a musical icon.

From Ziggy Stardust to Major Tom, his influence is everywhere.

And it's quite clear that the V &A Museum is aware of how this icon shines years after first appearing on the scene, which has led them to collecting together an exhibition dedicated to Bowie, which is currently touring globally.

So, it's no surprise then that this film is simply no more than a guided tour of the exhibition from its curators, designed to give those who can't afford to travel to the locales a chance to revel revel (sorry) in its finer parts.

The co-curators introduce the film before really conducting the kind of tour you'd normally pay cash for to see and would be given headphones for - and to be honest, your tolerance for the movie will really rely on how much you want to see the Bowie ephemera in all its glory.

It turns out Bowie is a hoarder, so with sketches, drawings, musings and material from his own archive, there's certainly plenty of material to help this tour and to immerse you in his life. But the problem is that the whole piece feels like a lecture on Bowie and a somewhat dry one at that.

A few stylistic touches impress, such as a freeze-frame effect of punters in the hallways / in front of the exhibits as the camera ducks and dives through them and weaves into the exhibits, giving the feel of depth.

But, despite the fascinating wealth of material and the clips, it's still nothing close to a Bowie biography and it's still, at the end of the day, a tour of an exhibition. It's a little too aloof to be so fully immersive and perceptive.

Perhaps more of a curio than a revelation into Bowie, David Bowie Is represents little more than a tantalising glimpse beneath the surface of the Thin White Duke rather than a full on deep-dive into what makes the man.

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