Monday, 29 February 2016

Oscars winners 2016 full list

Oscars winners 2016 full list

Here is the Oscars winners 2016 full list

Best picture: Spotlight

Best Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio

Best actress: Brie Larson

Best director: Alejandro G Inarritu

Best original song: The Writing's on the Wall, Sam Smith
Best original score: Ennio Morricone

Best foreign language film: Son of Saul
Best live action short film: Stutterer
Best documentary: Amy

Best documentary short feature film: A Girl In The River
Best supporting actor: Mark Rylance

Best animated feature: Inside Out

Best animated short film: Bear Story
Best visual effects: Ex Machina
Best sound editing: Mad Max Fury Road
Best film editing: Mad Max Fury Road
Best cinematography: The Revenant

Best make up and styling: Mad Max Fury Road
Best production design: Mad Max Fury Road
Best costume design: Jenny Beaven, Mad Max Fury Road
Best supporting actress: Alicia Vikander. The Danish Girl
Best original screenplay: Spotlight
Best adapted screenplay: The Big Short

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Mahana: Film Review

Mahana: Film Review

Cast: Temuera Morrison, Akuhata Keefe
Director: Lee Tamahori

Lee Tamahori returns to the New Zealand screen with a film that reunites him with his Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison.

Based on Witi Ihimaera's Bulibasha, and set in provincial Gisborne in the 1960s, it's the story of the Mahana family, who are ruled with an iron fist by grandfather Tamihana, a traditionalist (played by Temuera Morrison).  There's a long-standing rivalry between the Mahanas and their fellow sheep-shearing family, the Poatas and the vendetta runs deep even if no-one talks about it.

But for Akuhata Keefe's 14 year old Simeon Mahana, life is a drudge of continually doing chores and trying to get out from under the yoke of his grandfather and become his own man. However, that brings clashes and things take a turn for the worst when Simeon uncovers more about the deep-held family secret and the anguish that has bound the families inextricably together in resentment....

Mahana is a film of two pieces, wildly meshed together.

At times, it's a dark family drama that plays nicely on the rifts between families and the enmity within as well as hinting at pre-colonial lifestyles and practices. But then other parts of it veer wildly into more traditional lighter elements such as concluding the film with a sheep-shearing contest that's as predictable as the day is long.

And unfortunately, there's a wild mix of acting talents too; at times, Temuera teeters dangerously into over-acting and is not well served by the overly bombastic soundtrack of the film being cranked up at the moments of extreme drama to emphasise that bad things are about to happen. Yet, there are moments when he gives the monster some more human edges that soften his on-screen Tamihana.

If anything, Keefe's the star of the film, giving a turn that has the subtlety that's needed for Simeon, a boy on the cusp of being a man and the awkward teen struggles that come with age and the desire to become your own person.

Tamahori makes good fist of the Gisborne scenery and there are some moodily evocative shots that stand out of mist settling in the valleys and hinting at the discord ahead. But equally, there are puzzling directorial choices that frustrate. One offender is the swirling camera around the exterior of a house as the reason for the conflict is revealed. Granted, it's more about creating a mood and evoking horror, but tonally, it sits at odds with the moment it's revealed - during a shearing contest.

All in all, Mahana is at times, a muddled film which sits at odds with what it intends to do.

By mixing the light with the dark, the film's missed its chance to stamp itself irrevocably on the NZ cinematic landscape; had it been more daring, it could have been a bold and blistering film. As it is, it  sadly feels parochial and limited, when its scope should have been wider.

Oscars 2016 winners

Oscars 2016 winners

With the Oscars just hours away, here's the list of who I believe should /will take the grand prizes:

From the main categories, the winners of the 88th Academy Awards will be:

Best picture: Spotlight / The Revenant
Best director: Alejandro Innaritu, The Revenant
Best actor: Leonardo di Caprio
Best actress: Brie Larson
Best supporting actor: Sylvester Stallone
Best supporting actress: Alicia Vikander
Best original screenplay: Spotlight / Straight Outta Compton
Best adapted screenplay: The Big Short/  Room
Best animated feature: Inside Out
Best doco: Amy / Cartel Land
Best foreign language film: Son of Saul

Newstalk ZB Review - Dad's Army, The Martian and The Walk

Newstalk ZB Review - Dad's Army, The Martian and The Walk

Saturday, 27 February 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: Film Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: Film Review

Cast: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman
Director: Michael Bay

With a more restrained touch and a degree of maturity, director Michael Bay's more excessive touches appear reined in in this film based on a true story.

When a US ambassador's compound is over-run in Benghazi after several waves of terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2012, it falls to six defence military contractors to try and save the day.

But, as this sat in direct opposition to orders from their CIA chief, the men felt doing the right thing was more important than bureaucracy, and put their lives on the line for 13 hours.

With the likes of American Sniper and Lone Survivor blazing the trail for homegrown hero stories, and coupled with the master of Bayhem at the helm, you'd expect that 13 Hours would be an all guts, all glory, guns blazing type of affair.

But what Michael Bay has done - despite characterisation of the men being more than a little lacking - is craft something tense which transcends its Call Of Duty: Benghazi potential and which delivers taut suspense that's as close to enthralling as any base under siege story can match.

Sure, it hits the tropes and cliches of the genre thanks to scenes of the guys bonding and reaching out to loved ones just prior to fateful events going down as well as its occasionally cliched dialogue, but as it ratchets up to its sickening end, it remains a compelling watch.  It's largely thanks to a controlled level of chaos and a major dose of mistrust that you're never quite sure who's on the right side as the team of six snake their way through the streets - the powderkeg does blow but Bay manages to prolong it to keep you guessing where and when it will go off.

As the leads, The Office star John Krasinki (all buff and beardsy) and James Badge Dale imbue their weary contractor characters with an appeal that will see you empathising with them and hoping they make it, despite their having cursory slight back-story.

But it's Michael Bay who delivers the biggest surprise here with his usual patriotic and jingoistic fare, all wrapped in a hyper-real colour palette and complete with compulsory final shot American flag motif in place - dialled down a bit more than usual. Granted, the men hardly stand apart from each other and when the emotional moments inevitably come, it makes it hard for them to be sympathised with as you're not sure who's been taken down.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi may be close to war porn at times, but it never falls short of delivering a tense experience that's heart in its mouth gripping from the moment the action begins.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Shayne and Aurox, Whiskey Foxtrot, and Kelvin unveiled

Shayne and Aurox, Whiskey Foxtrot, and Kelvin unveiled

 2K and Gearbox Software introduced Shayne and Aurox, Whiskey Foxtrot, and Kelvin, three new playable heroes for the upcoming hero-shooter Battleborn, which launches with 25 playable heroes on PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 3, 2016.  
Shayne and Aurox, Whiskey Foxtrot, and Kelvin are the weird oddities of the Battleborn heroes, and like all Battleborn, are available to play in both competitive multiplayer matches, as well as the game’s Story Mode – which can be played singleplayer, co-op up to 5 players, or 2-player splitscreen. First in the trenches, Whiskey Foxtrot is an offbeat and imperfect facsimile of a soldier. Using scavenged armor and jerry-rigged weapons, everything about Whiskey Foxtrot just seems “off,” but his homemade UPR-SL3 tactical rifle, sticky bombs, and scrap canon can help turn the tide of any battle. At first glance, Kelvin appears to be a hulking ice golem, but is in fact an entire microorganism civilization that, together, form a single sentient being that smashes, chomps and freezes its enemies for the survival of the species. Another unlikely team-up, Shayne was already a bratty teenage girl at the end of the universe with nothing to lose, but her bond with the space creature known as Aurox has made her nearly unstoppable. Joined at the hip, these symbiotic furies strive to utterly demolish their foes through a mixture of brute force and stealth.

You can read a lot more about both characters, including about how they play in-game in today’s official introduction post on the Battleborn blog: 

Tom Clancy's The Division - Survival Guide

Tom Clancy's The Division - Survival Guide


To view the trailer click the image below

Within the margins of this real survival guide, written before the collapse, lies a mystery— the story of a woman struggling to survive and to discover why New York City fell. Retrace her steps through the city in mid-crisis and solve her clues to reveal the key secrets at the heart of Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Concussion: Film Review

Concussion: Film Review

Cast: Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Albert Brooks, David Morse, Alec Baldwin
Director: Peter Landesman

Based on the book Game Brain and a "True story", Concussion is a worthy but slightly overblown drama about the after effects of American football.

In Pittsburgh (all drab greys and dour palettes) Smith plays Nigerian pathologist Bennet Omalu who's on duty when Pittsburgh Steelers legend Mike Webster (a bloated David Morse) is brought in after apparently committing suicide.

But as the home-town hero is dissected, Omalu falls foul of the fact he's an outsider and that he doesn't watch or understand football. And when further NFL players end up in the mortuary, Omalu begins to feel he should speak for the dead with his proof that repeated collisions lead to life-altering brain injuries - despite the fact no one wants to listen.

Concussion is more a fumble than a touchdown to be frank.

Smith and fellow performer and love interest Mbatha-Raw are usually stars with immense charisma on screen and whose star-wattage usually brings an energetic level to the screen. Wisely dialled down, Smith is more of a dim bulb burning brightly in a film that's earnest but never quite manages to vault its ambitions of celebrating the American dream and overcoming the odds.

Despite a brilliant turn by Albert Brooks as Dr Cyril Wecht, Omalu's mentor who injects some life and some dry wit into the proceedings, this above the line TV movie never manages to fully get off the sideline. Baldwin also manages to give some life to an-off-the-page whistleblower but never soars.

A domestic storyline for Omalu in the form of his love feels shoe-horned in and is turned to when the drama demands a break rather than out of narrative necessity; equally brief glimpses of the players do little to build character before they end up on the slab where Omalu talks gently to them, leading the audience to feel nothing for their demise.

The true horror of the film is the fact these collisions continue to take place and that the NFL is apparently aware of them but refuse to warn players. It's here the dramatic meat of the story lies and the shock factor should have hit home, despite Concussion being over-stuffed with plot. Had it been streamlined and some of the drama benched, it could have been so much more.

But despite everything Smith does in a just above average performance, Concussion's desire to overly ram home the point with an overt over-use of head-crunching footy footage does nothing to further the cause and may have you leaving the cinema scratching your head before forgetting all that's passed.


How To Be Single: Film Review

How To Be Single: Film Review

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie
Director: Christian Ditter

Here we go, another NYC set rom com where a group of single ladies navigate the scene with mixed and apparently hilarious results.

Based on Liz Tuccillo's novel of the same name, How To Be Single follows 50 Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson's Alice who dumps her college boyfriend of four years so she can see what life as a singleton is like.

Working as a paralegal in a firm, she makes friends with Rebel Wilson's Robin, who parties most of the night and encourages her to play the field. But as she does so, she finds herself falling into more relationships than she desires and dealing with the fallout from them.

How To Be Single is frankly a mess.

Despite its intentions to be different and its desire to present women as needing no men in their lives to get by, the film hits every rom-com cliche and feels so generic that it fails to stand out from the crowd as it plays out.

While Johnson does the best she can with her relatively two dimensional character, she's the only one to fare reasonably by the script, which seems determined to put the women back in relationships, rather than explore their single-ladies-ness.

Rebel Wilson exists only to be the party-hard blow hard (in fact, her introduction in the piece feels like the writers took the club sequence of her sitcom Super Fun Night and re-purposed it) and despite attempts to beef her up at the end with some back-story, she's nothing more than a cypher. Equally Mann's workaholic OB-GYN nurse who decides she wants a baby ends up as nothing more than a kooky crazy unable to express her feelings. Worst of all is Alison Brie, who ends up shoe-horned into proceedings, never appears to gel with the rest of the group and whose OCD to use computers to find the perfect match and explodes when things don't go well would normally see her prescribed some kind of medication, but is here exploited for laughs (cause we all have a crazed friend, right, ladies?).

Occasionally the script makes nods to pop culture (both Sex and the City and Ross' desire to take a break are the best throwaway lines) but How To Be Single aspires to be nothing more than chick kryptonite as it exploits its NYC tourism spots and its protagonists' propensity for kookiness.

While ladies on a night out may get something out of this film, How To Be Single serves only low hanging fruit and offers the pantheon of rom-coms nothing new, preferring to proffer up cliches and patchily painful moments.


Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders: PS4 Review

Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4

There's something about detectives currently - and classic ones even more.

With the retooling of Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century and with games like Crime and Punishment on the go, it's clear the obsession with the franchise is a long way from dying.

And certainly that edge is no more apparent than with Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders which captures some of the artwork stylings of a Telltale Games release and paints it into a Poirot shaped curio that's fun to play.

The point and click mystery that's based on one of Agatha Christie's famed tales is certainly a different gaming experience that sees you taking on the role of Hercule Poirot, the funny little man whose puzzle solving prowess is renowned.

With the central impetus being the need to solve three murders over the course of a few hours, the game's pacing is certainly not in question. And the character of Poirot is spot on too, with your responses helping the man to gather either ego points or being dismissed by others, it's fair to say that your style of game play will influence the outcome somewhat.

While the MO is relatively simple (go to an area, explore, examine and talk to some people) its art execution is nothing short of brightly entertaining. The sheer cartooniness of the proceedings and the almost caricature like renderings of the heroes involved make Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders like no other point and play game that's been encountered.

The game's relatively short too, but its playability (even with some occasionally flawed vocal capture) make it something completely different for the console world currently. Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders may not be everyone's bag, but its police procedural stylings, mixed with its arty tendencies give it a USP that's undeniable.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Black Mass: Blu Ray Review

Black Mass: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

From the acting ashes, rises Johnny Depp.

Ever the buffoon on screen, Depp rediscovers his acting roots in a return to form that'll make you forgive and forego his outings as Mortdecai, Jack Sparrow and that vampire from Dark Shadows.

In this grimy gangster flick, Depp is Jimmy Whitey Bulger, the notorious Boston criminal who made his way into the headlines in the way the likes of Henry Hill and Tony Soprano rose through the ranks. But it turns out that Bulger was playing the FBI in the shape of former street buddy, John Connolly (Joel Edgerton, all highly coiffed hair and braggadacio) and getting the FBI to do his work for him, taking out other crime-lords and leaving the streets open to his taking.

Out Of the Furnace director Cooper is well versed in the likes of the grime, having shepherded Christian Bale through a role of misery in a drab setting - and here, he once again drains the palette of all colour and the story of all forms of life. Horrendous 70s beige, browns and moustaches bedeck the  admittedly all-star (but under-utilised) cast and surroundings as the story unfolds.

And in the centre of all the dour and drab story is Depp's Bulger, a gangster villain that's gone the way via an undead creature, Blow, Donnie Brasco, liver spots, One Hour Photo and a pastiche of every criminal with a seething edge we've seen before.

A scene early on sees him issuing parenting advice under the umbrella of "It's not what you do, it's when and how you do it" that serve as a tone for his conduct within the turf wars and tantalisingly hints at what could have been given the film's joyful insistence on refusing to glorify the way of the gangs and those caught in their thrall.

Equally, a one-on-one sequence with Connolly's wife, who's become so appalled by the circles her husband's running in, crackles with unease and monstrous uncertainty. Depp's almost inhuman Bulger is perhaps the best part of Black Mass and solely the reason to watch. It's a film that ironically never really reaches critical mass due to an ineptly paced script that misses all the emotional beats. Key moments and characters in Bulger's life (such as his wife and son) simply disappear at wildly inappropriate moments, as they fall by the narrative wayside.

It's not a film that builds an ascent and plots a rapid descent for any of its protagonists, a route which many like Goodfellas and Casino have gone before - and unfortunately while to be commended for doing something different, it never quite negotiates its own route as it jumps between Connolly, Bulger and those around them. Some of the problem is that the script dictates time jumps and leap frogs emotional moments in the script that would go more to creating a portrait of Bulger and a reason for his rallying paranoia - the same goes for Connolly whose seduction into Bulger's world is all too easy. Equally, falling back on using interviews as exposition becomes lazy and a get-out clause for Cooper's story - and replaces anything transpiring on screen and serving to build character and elicit empathy or sympathy for anyone involved.

Ultimately, when the comeuppance for all arises, the consequences of this mass of errors and dour maudlin preceding is that there's a palpable lack of any kind of catharsis or joy; and a post film coda lacks any kind of resonance and frustratingly hints at where a better film would lie;Black Mass skirts around the character of Bulger and as a result, doesn't serve either him, the supporting players or the audience in the way that perhaps a great gangster film should have done.


NZ's Show Me Shorts Film Festival announces second Oscar-qualifying award

NZ's Show Me Shorts Film Festival announces second Oscar-qualifying award

New Zealand’s Show Me Shorts Film Festival brings winning an Oscar® closer to short film makers across the world
Show Me Shorts Film Festival is proud to announce that they have been granted Oscar®-qualifying status for their Best International Film Award, in addition to their Lightbox Best Film Award.

For the last four years, Show Me Shorts has been the only film festival in New Zealand qualified to provide a pathway to the Academy Awards® for their top award winner - Lightbox Best Film Award. This coveted relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is something granted to a small number of prestigious film festivals around the globe.

Festival Director of Show Me Shorts, Gina Dellabarca, says, “It’s big news for filmmakers as it means the reality of winning an Oscar® is potentially within reach.

“Winning one of these awards at Show Me Shorts removes the need for a standard theatrical run in a US cinema – something most short films are unable to achieve. Winning an Oscar®-qualifying festival is the main way that short films can become eligible for consideration for the Oscars®. We are thrilled with this development, which is likely to result in an increase in the number and quality of our submissions. Great news for local audiences as well as local and international filmmakers.”

One of the most popular shorts from the international selection of Show Me Shorts 2015, Stutterer by Benjamin Cleary, is nominated for the Best Live Action Short Film award at the Oscars® this year. Members of the Show Me Shorts community of festival-goers will be cheering on this film come Monday 29 February when the awards are announced.

The 2015 Lightbox Best Film Award at Show Me Shorts was won by Alyx Duncan for The Tide Keeper. Her film is now eligible to enter the 2017 Oscars®.

The Best Live Action Short Film award at the 2015 Oscars® was won by another film that had previously featured in Show Me Shorts, The Phone Call. “This demonstrates the calibre of short films in our programme,” Dellabarca says.

The 11th annual Show Me Shorts Film Festival in 2016 will share their top local and international short films with thousands of New Zealanders from Dargaville to Stewart Island, who take part as audience members, attend professional development events, and by voting for their favourite films.

Show Me Shorts is now calling for entries from local and international short film makers. Short films can be from New Zealand or anywhere in the world, but must be between 2-20 minutes long and made within the last two years. New Zealand music videos can also qualify for selection if they are between 1-10 minutes long. Entry deadlines and fees for 2016 are:

·         Earlybird Deadline: 15 April 2016 (shorts US$25 / music videos US$10)
·         Regular Deadline: 15 May 2016 (shorts US$30 / music videos US$15)
·         Late Deadline: 15 June 2016 (shorts US$35 / music videos US$20)
·         Extended Deadline: 1 July 2016 (shorts US$40 / music videos US$25)

Full submission details for Show Me Shorts are available at

Dark Souls III True Colours of Darkness

Dark Souls III True Colours of Darkness


Discover the True Colors of Darkness in our new Dark Souls 3 trailer! Are you ready to fight for your life in the Kingdom of Lothric?

With a release set for April 12th, 2016, DARK SOULS III will take the fans through an apocalyptic and dark ride to unfold the last secrets of the unique universe create by Hidetaka Miyazaki, From Software and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment!

Hitman BETA returns

Hitman BETA returns



SYDNEY, 25TH February 2016 - Io-Interactive today releases a new trailer, the ‘Legacy Opening Cinematic’ bridges the twenty year gap in the new HITMAN game between the end of the Prologue and the Sanguine Fashion Show in Paris. The trailer takes viewers all the way back to the thermal baths of the Hotel Gallard in Budapest as seen in the original Codename: 47 and to the Chilean Delgado vineyard from Blood Money, as it charts a journey through some iconic Hitman moments.

To watch the HITMAN Legacy Opening Cinematic, please visit:  

Plus, after a successful beta on PS4, Io-Interactive now invites all PlayStation Plus members to try out the HITMAN beta on March 4th.
“Our initial beta was an extremely helpful moment for our new HITMAN game, as it gave us great insight into how the server game mechanics function under pressure. A lot of those pressure points are currently being strengthened for release,” said Hannes Seifert, Studio Head at Io-Interactive. “Now Sony have given us the opportunity to go even bigger to validate some of the initial things we saw. Therefore we are inviting everyone who is a PlayStation Plus member to try the same beta and you don’t have to pre-order the game. This will allow us to really stress test our server setup, which is a crucial element for us to get just right.”

Labelled “The Prologue”, the Beta takes place twenty years before the Paris Showstopper mission. Set in a secret ICA training facility, the Prologue features a pivotal moment in Agent 47’s life - his introduction to the ICA and very first meeting with his future handler Diana Burnwood. The Prologue features two free-form training hits, which will introduce players to the features and mechanics of the upcoming HITMAN game. The Prologue will also be available as part of the first episode of HITMAN.

HITMAN will launch on March 11th for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system & Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft. The Windows PC version launch March 12th (ANZ).

New Uncharted 4 Story Trailer drops

New Uncharted 4 Story Trailer drops

The New Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Story Trailer Is Here

With Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End launching just around the corner, on 27th April, whet your appetite for Drake’s return. Up until now we’ve dropped small hints about Nathan Drake’s final adventure. It’s time to finally pull the curtain back and give you the official story trailer! Before jumping into it, we have a little warning.
We’re being careful not to reveal too much – but story trailers by their very nature contain some story spoilers. If you’re on a media blackout… look away now! For everyone else, we have what Naughty Dog consider to be the best trailer in their history.
Still with us? Good. Enjoy:

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Ride Along 2: Film Review

Ride Along 2: Film Review

Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Olivia Munn, Benjamin Bratt, Tika Sumpter
Director: Tim Story

Following the massive success of 2014's Ride Along, it was inevitable the sequel would show.

In the latest to toy with the mismatched buddy cop dynamic, Hart's Ben Barber remains a cop on probation, despite his dream to make detective. When Ice Cube's James is asked by his sister, Ben's fiancee, to take him to Miami ahead of his wedding on a lead in a drug-ring case, James begrudgingly accepts.

Following leads in the party town brings the less-than-dynamic-duo to computer hacker AJ (Community and The Hangover star Ken Jeong) who reveals that a local businessman is behind the ring and corruption is rife.

Tagging along with Olivia Munn's no time-wasting homicide cop Maya, Ben and James soon find themselves knee deep in trouble...

Flat and lifeless (with a bizarrely suspense and action-free pre-credits sequence), Ride Along 2's script is muted; an almost bizarre juxtaposition to the flashy, trashy exterior shots in Miami that pepper most of the film. (Complete with writhing bikini bods for the more puerile members of the audience).

From banal bickering between the pair to banter so inane from the "comedy" motormouth Kevin Hart it makes you want to pull your brain out through your nose (in case you forgot to check it at the door), Ride Along 2 simply grates.

Trying to replicate the buddy cop genre and ripping off parts of a Lethal Weapon film with its protect the rat storyline, this tired film lacks any pizzazz thanks to its over-scripted dialogue.

Ice Cube strives for straight arrow to Hart's incessantly chatting; with all his scowling and talk of the Po-lease, the script fails to hit any beat, even when Hart's Ben is proved right and the incompetent foolish Ben is given a few moments here and there to shine.

The one time the film has some natural charm is toward the end during a wedding sequence that showcases the brother-in-law family vibe to better effect rather than the film's detriment and proves that a less strictly enforced script and looser attitude would have benefited it greatly.

Olivia Munn's fairly wasted as a ball-breaker cop whose pristine business veneer shatters when Cube's cop asks her to the wedding (cos you know, women just go weak for lurve stuff) and Bratt musters enough slime as the suave corrupt rat. But it's Jeong who shows a bit more range in the Joe Pesci role going for more dramatic before resorting to his trademark shrieking.

Story keeps proceedings on the straight and narrow with only one sign of directorial flair - the chase sequence in Miami, which is brought to life through Ben's Grand Theft Auto game obsession and becomes a race of pixels rather than the tired usual tropes of cars thudding into each other.

In one sequence, Ice Cube's James intones to Hart's Ben "Do you even listen to some of the sh*t that comes out of your mouth?" and somehow manages to encapsulate how the audience will feel as this tired unoriginal sequel plays out. Equally, when AJ forces Ben to eat food from a trashcan, again there's a feeling that the audience will associate with this regurgitated fare that sticks in your craw.

Sure, Ride Along 2 ain't exactly striving for Shakespearean heights, but in its quest to provide something formulaic, it ends up unlikely to stand out from the masses. Depressingly, this is the film which beat Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the US Box office, so a third outing seems more than likely - but frankly, this is one ride that deserves stopping so we can all get off.



Downton Abbey: S6 Blu Ray Review

Downton Abbey: S6 Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

The last full final season of Downton Abbey is upon us and with it the expectation that the series will be closed off with both the style and finality that is needed.

As the world begins to change around them, there are signs that the Downton reign is coming to an end, and in many ways, this is reflected in the scripts which start to feel a little tired and going through the motions rather than providing the boost that's needed for the end.

But quite frankly, fans of the show won't care about the plot's machinations and weaker edges at times, as it heads towards the conclusion. Cost cutting, arguments over hospitals and a scene at a dinner table that's like something from Alien all figure in the mix and are all solidly executed.

Annoyingly this release doesn't include the final ever episode, the Christmas special (released as it was pre- screening) and so the sense of completion is much like the finale itself - anti climactic.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Intern: Blu Ray Review

The Intern: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Director Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated, Something's Gotta Give) is back in familiar territory in The Intern.

70-year old widower Ben (played by Robert De Niro) has lived in Brooklyn all his life, and worked there all his life. So without a wife, and in retirement, he's found it all a bit of a shock. On a whim he decides to apply for a senior internship at Anne Hathaway's Jules Ostin's online fashion business. Accepted into the programme, and allocated to Jules, Ben tries to settle back into the groove - but the hyper-controlling Jules isn't willing to accept him without a fight - and matters get more complicated when Ben's made Jules' intern...

Generation gap comedy The Intern is a veritable fluffy jumper of a movie, a flick that revels in its cosiness as it espouses tritely veiled bon mots about experience being more vital in this day and age but oft overlooked.

Following a meta-thread that seems to hint at the once ferocious De Niro's place in the acting world and throws to the notion the man must take a succession of comedic roles that call on him to produce a series of gurning moments, its vanilla sensibilities threaten to over-season this gentle dish, best served to an audience seeking easy and predictably recognisable laughs.

Going from The Devil Wears Prada's put-upon assistant to now top dog, Hathaway's self-aggrandisement begins to falter as the script calls upon her to crumble, destroying the earlier set out notion that career women can have it all in this modern day world. Clearly according to Meyer's film, that's not actually the case when push comes to shove.

And yet with a degree of affability on the parts of both leads, this soufflé of a film begins to rise in parts above its conceit and belief that hey an older person in the workplace can have its benefits. But only once they master turning on a computer or the vagueries of joining the Facebook. Be still, my compromised and patronised sides.

In fact, the lightly once over script may just win over some people - even with a moment shoehorned in that sees Ben and the other interns forced to break into Jules' mom's house to retrieve a wrongly sent email. Meyers knows when to mix the farce into the frothy niceness on show and does so with reasonable aplomb, even if the element of the story feels bolted on and at odds with Ben's insistence on guiding Jules through life.

Ultimately, The Intern is no place for cynicism, no place for thinly veiled  sarcasm - it's one of those films which is pleasantly made, wholly predictable and utterly the sum of its parts. It does exactly what it says on the tin, celebrates the nice guy mentality of Ben and perfectly services an audience not wanting to be challenged on a night out.


Monday, 22 February 2016

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride: Blu Ray Review

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by BBC and Roadshow Home Ent

The big Christmas special for Sherlock was highly anticipated to say the least.

After the teaser image of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in Victorian garb went viral, there was plenty of speculation about what was going on and how the show was going to cater to the rabid fans keen to see how it plays out.

Well, to spoil it is to rob Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' plan for Sherlock, so that'll be skated around, but needless to say The tale of The Abominable Bride is a Victorian thriller soaked in modern day Sherlock's DNA.

With twists, turns and nods to the post-modern take, there will be some who feel it's all a bit shallow and others who will delight in the deviousness. Needless to say, both Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch deliver top notch turns to keep you entertained as the twists play out.

Maybe a little too clever for its own good and dangerously close to becoming too meta and up its own backside, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride delivers a lot of anticipation for the next batch of specials.

The game is indeed afoot.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Lady In The Van: Film Review

The Lady In The Van: Film Review

Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Roger Allam
Director: Nicholas Hytner

Based on renowned English writer Alan Bennett's play and reuniting the star with the director of the Olivier Award original play, it is, as the title card suggests, a mostly true story.

The one woman acting tornado that is Maggie Smith returns to the role she made famous in London's West End as Miss Mary Shepherd, a homeless woman who lived in a van in Camden around the 1970s when Bennett inhabited the region.

With all the neighbourhood turning their back on Mary and seeing her as an eyesore and a beggar, Bennett (an uncanny impression and nuanced performance by Alex Jennings) allows her to park her van in his driveway. However, rather than this sojourn being a brief one, and much to Bennett's endless chagrin, Mary ends up staying some 15 years - and despite all of Alan's desires, becomes a part of her life.

Simply put, those who don't know Alan Bennett and won't be able to appreciate Jennings' spot-on enunciation and diction of the playwright whose Talking Heads made him famous, Maggie Smith will be the star attraction.

With her sheer force of presence and quirkiness that's a softer Downton approach, this Dowager of the driveway is pretty much going to strike a chord with anyone who's got a soft spot for cheeky irascibility. She's not loved by the inhabitants of the road and doesn't fit in with their middle class aspirations and judgements (the neighbours are wonderfully headed up by the ever solid presence of Roger Allam and Frances De La Tour), but there's a parallel with Bennett's mother and his terribly English guilt at leaving her alone up north.

Hytner employs a steady hand with the direction and the gentle story, which is as parked as the van in the driveway. Splitting Jennings in two to show the conflict and the consciences is a nifty touch and Jennings brings an edge and an empathy to both sides of Bennett the conflicted do-gooder and Bennett the writer looking for inspiration.

But it's Smith whom the film favours, as the layers of reason for her condition gently peel back. And while the emotion of these reveals never quite hits a crescendo or catharsis worthy of the journey, there is plenty of humour on the whimsical way. (No wonder given she's reprising a role she's already made famous on the stage).

Nobody emerges as a fully formed character and there is an odd touch with the real life Bennett being inserted into the narrative towards the end, but you can't deny The Lady In The Van has an amiability and an affability that makes it a gently easy watch, guaranteed to do well with an older audience.


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